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Wednesday, 13 April 2011

How to make knitted Easter bunnies

This is a great craft project to do with the kids this Easter holidays. I've seen this in an old Waldorf crafts book, it's really simple and great project for Spring. It involves no knitted shaping, you just start from a square of fabric and the rabbit shape is formed by the simple sewing up and stuffing.

Step 1: knit a square in garter stitch or stockinette stitch or for a super fast rabbit cut out a square from an old woollen sweater. A square about 18cm (7") width makes a large bunny as shown, the little one is made from a square approximately 12cm (5").

Step 2: Sew each corner up about one third of the length of the edge...

Step 3: Stuff the cavity with wool, putting a bit more stuffing in the top as this will form the head.

Step 4: Sew up the hole by gathering the top and bottom of the hole and stitching the sides of the hole together...
Step 5: Form the head by tying a length of yarn around tightly at the end you would like the head to be.

Step 6: Sew the limbs in place by sewing the front two legs together and folding the back two legs forward and stitching them to the body to keep them in place.

Step 7: Make some ears, stitch some eyes and a nose and finally attach a small pom pom or ball of yarn to form a tail. The ears can be made from cutting out a piece of felt, knitting some up or using a folded i-cord or other piece of cord or ribbon. Improvise and make your bunny uniquely yours. Happy making!

Other craft activities to do with the kids this easter holidays:

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

A little bit of a beautiful thing

On the weekend just gone, I had the most wonderful experience at the Battersea Arts Centre annual One-on-One Theatre FestivalThis is a theatre festival where each performance is performed for you alone. It was incredibly intimate and at times challenging and at first I felt very nervous indeed but that didn't last long as I came to realise this was entirely the point of the festival.

The festival goers could choose from a number of set show menus. I chose Menu 9 - Reflective.

The piece I want to write about here was a lovely little history lesson from which each participant came away literally with a little slice of the past. It was called "A little bit of something beautiful" and was by Barnaby Stone actor/cabinet maker.

In the room there was a large oak beam, it was a 700 year old piece of oak that was once a beam in the attic of the beautiful Elizabethan Hardwick Hall. After sharing some facts about the beam and contemplating the past as it may have resonated in this piece of wood, the artist began hammering in a wooden nail that I was asked to choose from a pile and sanding and polishing the surface. Then he pulled across a ban saw, that was set up on a track along the floor and cut off a sliver of the beam punched with my initial and presented it to me as my little bit of something so beautiful. Held up to the light you can see evidence of the other wooden nails that have been hammered in representing other participants. The nails are in a range of woods from cherry (the redish wood), walnut (the dark one) and I forget what the light one was, ash or something. It was a truly charming performance and this piece of wood something I will forever cherish.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Natural Dyeing: Organic Cotton Baby Dresses

This was one of my first experiments in the wonders of natural dyeing. Although you could say I cheated somewhat by buying the natural powdered dyes by Earthues, but for my first experiments I wanted to try to get my head around the process of mordanting (preparing the cloth/fibre to take the dye) and then playing with resist and dip dyeing to really understand the possibilities.

I love the idea of really getting experimental with this medium however. I was kindly given a book called A Dyer's Garden and have my heart set on the idea of growing and harvesting my own dyestuffs, especially the most wonderful indigo. I'm just hankering for my own garden, one that I can really invest the time and energy into.

For now however I have Alkanet growing rampantly in my backyard, it's very invasive and common around East London and it makes the most wonderful greys and aubergine colours. I'm currently drying some roots and have some others soaking for use at a later date. I'll post about these real experiments soon, but for now here are some dresses I made from organic cotton knit fabric then dyed with a range of pigments including Madder, Teal, Fustic and Logwood purple and I only used small amounts of the non toxic cellulose fibre mordant alum acetate.



These dresses are made to fit a little girl approx 12 months to about 24 months. They are designed and made by me, in a beautifully soft organic cotton with little bows on the shoulders. Each one has been individually resist dyed in a range of natural earth dyes. You can find out more or pick one up on my Etsy shop.
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