Proper vintage bunting

It’s proper spring time, the sun is shining and it feels fitting to be making proper vintage bunting for all those lazy summer celebrations on the horizon. I have bunting to make for a community celebration but I am also making it as a part of our yurt rental package. For what is a wedding without bunting I ask you!

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I have a old fashioned, romantic idea of bunting that it is supposed to made out of worn out clothes and remnants not, as most bunting is made from, new ‘vintage’ fabrics. So I may have made a rod for my own back but I am attempting to make 100m of bunting out of recycled and remnant fabric. So, with a couple of old duvet covers (handily with a different print on each side) a bag of Laura Ashley offcuts and some unidentifiable bits that have been around for years I have come up with some passable pastel/vintage/boho/shabby chic bunting that may or may not look like it was made from Aunty Joyce’s second best bedding.

What do you think of the combination? I have to confess that I am not at all sure but then that may be because vintage pastel florals are really not my cup of tea. My next project is rainbow bright satin bunting, I think I will like that better. Most things that I make are grey and sludge colours but I am reliably informed that this just won’t do for summer garden parties.

This is the resident yurt maker surrounded by old duvet covers and working out the yurt bookings schedule over the summer. The flowers are one of the perks of working with weddings, that and the 30 eggs that one customer brought me this week. Do you happen to have any very eggy cake recipes that you want to share? I haven’t finished the bunting, wish me luck for the full 100m.

Thanks and see you soon, Mary x

 

 

 

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Macrame. How very retro.

I am actually very excited about macrame at the moment! I have been commissioned to make 20 macrame plant hangers for a display in a yurt that might just be part of a large, world-famous music festival in June. I have never done macrame before. How hard can it be?

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The answer is, not hard at all! I am sure that there are challenging, intricate projects that require a high level of knotting skill, but if you want to make something that looks really effective and takes a short time to master, it’s macrame all the way.

I made these as samples from Tek Tek t-shirt yarn that I had in my stash. I got the idea for using the t-shirt yarn from Pinterest and I think it gives them a fresh, contemporary twist on the 70s jute plant hangers. They are also, as my mum pointed out, completely machine washable. Thanks mum.

These will form part of large display of greenery in Yurtmaker’s large 42ft event yurt (yurtmaker is what I do when I am not messing about with bits of wool). This is our big yurt, made by my very clever Henry. Imagine how stunning 20 plant hangers will look in there.

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I suppose I had better get knotting! Thanks for calling in. Mary x

Visible Mending, Sashiko Style

I go into a little period of mourning every time a pair of favourite jeans wear out. I also get very despondent when shopping for jeans because so many of them are so horrible, so ugly or made for some weird stick-insect shaped people. The jeans on the left below are my Jasper Conran jeans that I splashed out on after my second daughter was born and they have been firm favourites, good quality stretch denim with just about the right amount of skinniness.

My jeans always wear out on the left knee first. I have no idea why.

The jeans on the right are some cheaper skinny jeans that I did some experimental visible mending on some time ago. They are now too small and covered in paint splatters so they will be my sacrificial jeans. I cut an oval hole from the jeans to be mended and a matching patch from the back of the sacrificial jeans, which I sewed into place with appliqué stitch. Then I just did a series of running stitches with sturdy white thread to create little white crosses.

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Sashiko embroidery is a Japanese form of functional embroidery that was traditionally used to reinforce clothing and fix worn or torn areas of cloth. It is traditionally worked in white on an indigo background, so denim makes for a good backdrop. It is also often incredibly beautiful using painstakingly accurate geometric designs. I would say that my version falls firmly on the side of ‘functional’, but then I am just a beginner!

I am very taken with the concept of visible mending as a way of both embellishing clothing and prolonging its useful life. Mended textiles have a back story that new, disposable clothing does not. And don’t start me on jeans that are made with holes in on purpose….it is surely the lowest point of our throw away fashion culture that we would intentionally damage good, wearable clothes. I also don’t want drafty knees. So I am a mender.

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This is how they turned out. Some of the stitching is a bit wobbly (two different weights of stretch denim can be tricksy) but I am really pleased with how they look and, with a bit of luck, I can wear my best ‘smart’ jeans for another couple of years. And I can postpone the dreaded jeans shopping mission for a bit longer, shudder.

 

 

 

 

Crochet Pinwheel Jacket Remake

So this was an interesting challenge. My lovely sister-in-law has owned this crochet jacket for years. It was from a sample sale for a high-end knitwear company, made in China from merino and viscose. She loves it but the arms and the body were a bit too long and the body a little too narrow. I was drafted for technical advice!

I forgot to take a ‘before’ photo but here it is with its new boxy shape and stitch markers.

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Look at those crochet circles. I actually don’t know how they are made but it looks like they are made in two semicircles with the colours carried around. I will confess to being slightly baffled. What I can say is that someone put a huge amount of work into it and to alter it will be slightly nerve wracking. If anyone has seen this motif pattern before I would be interested to know how it is constructed.

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We decided, with some trepidation, to use the overlocker to cut off the excess length on the sleeves and then crochet a new border all around to bring it together at the front. The overlocking worked really well, phew.

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We went on a sunshiny walk with the children and made a little detour past a lovely little shop called YAK (yarn and knitting, see what she did there) and I couldn’t resist a cheeky little purchase, just to support an independent yarn business you understand. Cosmic chaos! I just hope that I can find a lovely, simple shawl pattern that will do those amazing colours justice. Alex bought some dark brownish grey to add a simple border and bring all the colours together.

Anyway, the upshot of the jacket is that I have left her with yarn, crochet hook, some sketchy instructions on how to crochet a new border and the jacket will be reborn. She is of a very crafty persuasion so I have no doubt that she will finish it off beautifully, the whole garment looks so much better for its makeover.

Thanks for dropping in, I will let you know how I get with the Cosmic Chaos xxx

Harmony Sunburst Granny, WIP

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What a wonderful collection of words: Harmony Sunburst Granny.

Harmony – the colours I am using are from the Attic 24 Harmony Blanket Pack which is available from Wool Warehouse. It is 100% acrylic (shock horror) and really good value for money. I will confess that there are some colours in there that I would never pick and I still hesitate when I pull some of them at random from my bag. Clematis is a rather sickly purplish pink and Cloud Blue is a classic baby blue like your granny would choose. They do, however, all hang together rather cleverly and the Parma Violet background makes the colours really pop out. It looks grey by artificial light, but I don’t mind that, I think greyish tones make a really effective background for other colours.

I am really enjoying the surprising colour combinations that emerge; who knew that petrol and lime could work so well together, or raspberry and turquoise. I am also surprised at how much I like this blanket, it makes me happy every time I look at it.

The yarn is Stylecraft special DK – Plum : Raspberry : Violet : Pale Rose : Lavender : Clematis :Lime : Meadow : Sage : Aster : Turquoise : Cloud Blue : Petrol : Storm Blue :
Parma Violet

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Sunburst – this is a pattern that is widely available on the internet. I chose it because I am making the blanket for my 7 year old daughter and I wanted something that would appeal to her now but also stand the test of time so that she can keep it forever.

Its combination of puff stitch and cluster stitch really does make it pop out like a sunburst and it does lend itself well to my particular brand of tight, anally retentively neat crochet. I have also become a bit obsessed with my ends and have now perfected the art of doing the whole square with only that last end to sew in, I hate sewing in ends. The main issue with this blanket is that the squares are really quite small so it is taking bloody ages to finish, excuse my french. I am using a flat crochet join which I think brings blankets together as a whole, rather than a whole load of squares.

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Granny – I wanted to make something that has the timeless, vintage feel of a granny squares blanket but not just boring old granny squares. I think this pattern and the careful selection of colours, for which I can claim no credit at all, makes for a much more special blanket.

This may be controversial but I actually dislike a great many of the granny blankets that I see, and this is mainly to do with the use of colour. I appreciate that the reason they evolved was to use up left over wool and the thrift of this does appeal to me, but, sometimes these colours end up being a bit horrible. My top colour tips are to avoid black and white (unless you are only using black and white), and I personally think that anything sparkly, fluffy or variegated doesn’t belong in a blanket. However, I did also say that I would never make a blanket again or use acrylic! Hopefully Holly will treasure this blanket forever, when it is finally finished.

 

Doily Doodles

I have a meandering mind and in one of my many Pinterest perambulations I came across this microscopic image of walnut wood. It looks like lace, right? I was fascinated by the regularity of the lines broken by the irregular circles, all joined with a lacy mesh. Irish crochet mesh? I have never had any desire to make the flowery, fussy designs that are typical to Irish crochet but the neatness, smallness and precision does appeal.  I also like the idea of trying something graphic and abstract.

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Microscopic image of walnut tree

I pinched a 1mm crochet from Jo at Three Stories High (she is a fabulous craft resource) and she assured me that she would never need it back, whilst looking at me like a lunatic for even wanting to try making crochet lace. I was far too impatient to wait for my order of super fine No.30 DMC thread to arrive so I made a start with the only colour available in my local Hobbycraft, cream.

This is my first wobbly doodle. I made it up as I went along and my intention was to make a sample as a practice for a bigger piece. It is weebly but I quite like it and it got better as I went along. I wanted to give a sense of the organic connections in the walnut cell structure as well as achieving something of the technical finesse of traditional crochet lace. I also actually quite like the cream, which surprised me.

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This is my second attempt, with my (small) hands to give an idea of scale. Still wobbly but the corners and straight lines are improving, especially with some aggressive blocking and pinning.

When my exciting package of DMC crochet threads arrived I started fiddling with some bits and they started to emerge into roots and branches. After a few evenings of obsessive teeny hooking I came up with this funny little lacy tree. It needs stretching and mounting to really do it justice, and there are a million little mistakes, but I learned a lot and I am gobsmacked that I actually made a lace thing that looks a bit like a tree.

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I will definitely be doing more doodles, just as soon as my hands have recovered from all those titchy stitches. Perhaps I will finish that walnut cell doily doodle one day.

Re-emerging from craft angst

As spring is tentatively starting to show its first shy flowers and buds, I have decided that I might also tentatively start blogging again. I have realised that it is a tricky thing to get right and I am not entirely comfortable with the endless sharing of the small and mundane. However, I have been looking back through last year’s posts and, as a personal record of the things I make, I have found it valuable. It will not change the world but it does make me happier in my skin.

First of all I will show you a round up of some of the things I have been making over the last six months or so, its a rag tag bag of stuff.  I suffer from craft angst where I worry that the stuff I make is not important enough and I should be directing my energy towards something more worthy and urgent. My craft angst also manifests itself in worrying about sharing some of the cutsier makes because I don’t want to be one of those cute-toy-making-crocheters, but people will insist on asking me to make them and I quite like doing it because it feels like magic to make something 3D out of a long piece of string and a hook.

So, in this year of blogging I hope to focus on the aspects of craft that I think make it important and the reasons why I, and many others, feel that it is something that they need to do as much as something that they like to do. I will also show you some of the things I make. That’s what it’s all about, right?

Norwegian Inspired Baby Hat

This is a baby/toddler hat that I have designed myself and is inspired by traditional norwegian knitted hats. I made it in my favourite Drops Merino and I love the yellow, cream and grey colour scheme. The larger red version is modelled here by my three year old and is very cosy. I have written up the pattern and I plucked up the courage to ask one of my crafting friends to try it out. Apparently I crochet very tight and very neat, so I may have to revisit the pattern and figure out the tension so it works for other people. Hopefully it will be ready to post here one day and not result in a whole load of giant bonnets!

Holly’s Crafternoon

My eldest has apparently picked up the crafting bug (can’t think how that happened) and asked for an Arty Party for her birthday. We made pom pom creatures, pipe cleaner and bead tree decorations and decorated party bags. Holly made her own mini-soaps to go in the party bags. We had such a fun afternoon with such a fantastic, creative bunch of girls.

 

Since then she has been really working hard on her sewing skills and has started to crochet a bit.

Some Christmassy Things

I think I can get away with posting these now as they are not classically Christmassy. I made these baubles from a AterG crochet bauble pattern and I loved making them. The inners are made from cheapo pound shop baubles (£1 for 12) and I just sawed off the little hanging nobble-thing. I had a pang of guilt at buying cheap Chinese tat but I think that turning them into something that will be treasured for years makes up for it a bit.  I like making Christmas things in non-Christmas colours and I think they looked really jolly on our tree, which is a riot of handmade bits and bobs collected over the years.

Some Cutesy Things

The giraffe is for a miracle baby due around now some time. I always make my amigurumi up as I go along as, for me, following a pattern takes away the pleasure of seeing the little characters emerge and develop. I tend to look at a few examples for inspiration and then just see how it goes.

The hedgehog and two little mice are for my youngest daughter’s Forest School sessions at nursery. A request was made for woodland creatures because the children like to make nests and dens for them in the woods. I am big fan of Forest School and child led, imaginative play and I thought this was a lovely idea. My only concern is that having made them in realistic brown, they will get lost instantly. I might have to make them some pink and yellow ones next time!

 

Some lino-printing

So, this isn’t crochet. I was bought a lino-printing course with local artist Amanda Hillier for my birthday and I spent a very satisfying day in Amanda’s garden studio making these yurt roof prints. Talk turned to crochet, as it does, and Mandy (we are on short-name terms now) invited me to join her craft group who meet to knit, crochet, eat food, drink tea/wine and share ideas. It’s an irreverent, noisy and creative group, and I love it. We eat crisps and giggle and sometimes we make stuff.

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Sunburst Granny

And this is my current work in progress. It is a sunburst granny blanket for my daughter’s bed and she is very impatiently waiting for it to be finished. If the colours look familiar it is because I am using the Attic 24 Harmony Blanket pack but with a different pattern. There are some colours in there (some very sickly pinks and a boring baby blue) that I would never have picked out but in the mix it all kinda works and it will suit Holly down to the ground.

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Finally, and in the spirit of International Women’s Day I will leave you with this thought.

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This is not me, I wish it was me. Lisa Anne Auerbach‘s political sweaters are amazing and I think this sums up how I feel about activism, craft and the reasons I keep on crocheting.