Welcome to my blog. I live, knit and craft near the Northumbrian Coast (but not too near – the waves won't be splashing my knitting!).There's a story in every stitch, every grain of sand, every blade of grass. I thought I'd blog about it…
I have a ridiculous amount of crafty stuff. There is fabric, a sewing machine and sewing accessories, loads of yarn and fibre, my drum carder and other spinning accessories, art and card-making materials, beads and jewellery making supplies and much more. I came across the acronym SABLE (stash acquired beyond life expectancy) a while ago and it must apply to me.
The candle-making kit, has invaded the garage, also known as K’s man cave (and he want’s it out) but everything else is in the conservatory, which is where I do my crafty activities. It had become a sorry mess. Until recently I shared the space with son’s drum kit, but that’s gone now. Also, I recently got a second hand microwave that I plan to use for dyeing fibre and yarn. I needed to move things around to accommodate that. I bought a load of plastic crates and, with a lot of help from daughter, who has been an absolute star, we’ve sorted the space out. I love it!
The first job I tackled in the newly revamped space were doggy duvet covers! I made some cosy doggy bedding a while ago from an old duvet, but the white cotton covering shows every muddy paw mark. I had a couple of old throws made from a nice soft fleece fabric, which were surplus to requirements so I’ve used these to cover some of the doggy duvets. I just cut them to size, pinned them in place over the duvets and machine stitched all the way round, about 2 cm from the edge and then again as close to the edge as possible.
They look much better than the uncovered ones.
More importantly, Buddy seems to really like them!
I’m a great believer in recycling, repurposing and upcycling. I hate throwing anything away unless it’s absolutely necessary. A case in point was this blue and white check shirt of mine. I’d spilt something on one of the pockets and much as I tried to get the little stain out it was still faintly visible, probably not visible to anyone else but I knew it was there and I didn’t feel right wearing it. Otherwise I rather liked the shirt and would have been quite sad to part with it. It just needed a little bit of a makeover to disguise the stain, so I decided to embroider a row of daisies across the pocket.
I began by making the daisy centres. Using yellow cotton yarn I sewed a row of equidistant French knots. to sew a French knot you bring the thread up through the material where you want the dot to be, wind the thread round the needle a few times then insert the needle very close to where the thread came out, holding the knot in place with thumb as you pull the thread through to the back of the fabric.
Using white cotton, I worked the petals in lazy daisy stitch (also known as single chain stitches). Beginning by bringing the thread up close to the flower centre, insert the needle close to the thread and pull it partially through to form a loop, then bring the needle up where you want the end of the petal to be, inside the loop. Pull the loop until it lies in the right position and insert the needle in the same place, stitching it down. These steps are repeated for each petal until the flower is complete.
I embroidered a row of six daisies along the pocket.
Of course I had to do the other pocket the same. I’m pleased with the result. My shirt has a fresh new look and a new lease of life!
I have a set of shelves in the utility room, where I store things like tea towels, cleaning cloths and freezer bags: not the easiest things to store on shelves, so I was after some baskets, but couldn’t find anything the right size so I decided to make some. All I used were some old glossy magazines and glue (hot glue and PVA). Don’t you just love repurposing things?
Using a craft blade and a ruler to get a straight edge, I cut the pages out and started by folding them into strips, long edges to the middle, then long edges to the middle again, then in half. Wherever possible I kept the most colourful side to the outside.
When I needed to join strips I either joined two or three sheets together with a thin line of glue before folding or joined two folded strips together by wrapping one round another with 1-2cm overlap and securing with glue.
Starting with the basket base, I secured the first few strips to the table with low-tack tape, using the grid lines on my cutting mat to keep them parallel to each other. I then began to weave strips through these, keeping them a right angles to the initial strips and parallel to each other. I tried to keep the weave as tight as possible, applying a dab of hot glue every so often to keep the strips secure.
When the base was the right size I folded the unwoven ends up and began to weave a strip round the basket. I made some strips with magazine covers and attached these to the strips that were forming the corner verticals, for added strength. I joined in new strips as I went, trying to keep joins behind upright strips. When the first round was complete I joined the two ends, making sure that the weave stayed tight and even to avoid the sided of the basket bulging. I also kept the upright strips as straight as possible, easing them into place to forma tight weave and not bulging out. I started each new round in a different place – joints are the weakest part, so I didn’t want to concentrate them all on one side. I found it helped keep things secure if the uprights (apart from the stiffer corner struts) were bent over as I wove the strip round and the upright were also already in the right position for the next round.
When I got to the second last round I found it was important to use as little glue as possible to secure the weave and limit it to the lower edge to allow for tucking ends in.
Once the last round of strips was woven in I made some edge supports by rolling a magazine page diagonally into a thin tube (I started it by rolling it around a thin knitting needle) and securing with a dab of hot glue.
These tubes are surprisingly strong and make a rigid top edge for the basket. I wove the uprights through as if the rod was another round of strips joining them at the corners by inserting the end of one tube into another and securing with a little hot glue (one end of each tube is thicker than the other
I finished by trimming each upright strip to about 6cm long and tucking it into the second last round of strips. I started with the outside and then did the inside, securing with a little glue around the tube.
With all the ends tucked in I gave the whole basket a couple of coats of diluted PVA glue, inside and out. This makes the whole basket more rigid as well as sealing the surface.
I’m really pleased with my made to measure baskets. I wouldn’t use them for heavy item storage but they are perfect for lighter things.
I’ve been keeping busy this week, though I’m missing trips to the beach and visiting local cafes for coffee and scones. I’m still involved with online choir and ukulele sessions, virtual coffee mornings and quizzes.
This week I’ve upcycled an old duvet to make liners for Buddy’s basket – I chopped it into six rectangles and machine-stitched the edges.
Buddy seems to like his new bedding! – at one point he dragged in into another room and cuddled it!
I’ve also finished my first brioche project – a pair of wrist warmers. I have quite short arms – well it certainly seems that way because sleeves on clothes I buy are way too long. I tend to buy three quarter length sleeves, but sometimes these leave a cold gap so I wanted some extra-long wrist/arm warmers. I sort of made these up as I went along.
I can also roll the cuffs back to show the reverse.
They are lovely, warm and squishy. I’ve really enjoyed learning how to do 2-colour brioche. This was one of my New Year Resolutions.
Another resolution was to make a Christmas Jumper. Every year I think about how lovely it would be to have a hand knitted festive sweater, and then I forget about it until the following December when it’s far too late to start. I now have the yarn and the pattern and am looking forward to starting it soon.
In my previous post about finishing a project from a kit purchased in Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, I set a little quiz question. Answers coming up!
I asked….. Tobermory has two connections to UK Children’s TV. What are they?
You answered correctly. Balamory: this series outlined life in the town with a diverse cast of fictional residents who lived or worked in the colourful houses, including some away from the main street which were painted specially for the filming. Incidentally, Archie’s castle (painted pink) was filmed elsewhere. We visited Bal…sorry… Tobermory several times, both before and since the series was shown and it had quite obvious effects on the place. It boosted the economy, with lots of tourists visiting the town, especially families with young children, which was great for the local businesses that benefited, though this did have some disadvantages. The traffic was much busier on normally quiet roads (especially the ones running between ferry terminals and Tobermory). I wondered if these visitors were day trippers or actually staying on the island. Some of the roads are single-track and not an easy drive for first time visitors. We did see a lot of damage to the verges. The shop that portrayed “Pocket and Sweet” seemed particularly popular. Balamory maps were on sale to help identify the locations used in the show. It is difficult living in a tourist area, trying to go about your usual business when there are visitors wandering in the middle of the road, blocking the road and gawping, I felt particularly sorry for a local police officer, who was on duty ( probably dealing with the traffic overload). A small child pointed at him and shouted, “Look! There’s PC Plum!” I’m sure he took things a lot more seriously than the comedic Balamory character (who keeps bursting into song and drinks lots of tea)! I had to try hard not to laugh!
There were a couple of other suggestions. Katie Morag was based on life on the island of Col but was filmed in Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides, not Tobermory.
The film “When Eight Bells Toll” did indeed use Tobermory, but was not made for children.
We have to go back some years and remember this character
Tobermory was one of The Wombles in Elisabeth Berisford’s books, which came to TV in the 1970s. These animated creatures lived on Wimbledon Common, unseen by humans, collecting and repurposing litter. Some of this was used in Tobermory’s ingenious inventions. I suppose they were ahead of their time: they were upcycling long before the rest of us. All the Wombles had place names which they chose from Great Uncle Bulgaria’s Atlas. The theme tune (Underground Overground , written by Mike Batt) spawned an album (which I confess to owning) , a hit single (Remember your a Womble) and a Christmas record (We Wish You a Wombling Merry Christmas). I didn’t realise I was such a Womble nerd.
So there it is. And nobody got both the links!
I do have another link to Tobermory – this one is connected to knitting (or at least to fibres) and the sea. On our last visit to Tobermory we visited the Mull Aquarium and thought it was brilliant. It is small but that made it more of a personal experience – the staff were really helpful and knowledgeable. There were touch pools aimed at children to familiarise them with rock pool wildlife and they use “catch and release” – a conservation approach so the creatures are only held in the aquarium a short time before being returned to the wild. This rotation helps with research. As they rely on what is caught, this rotation of creatures gives an indication of local species distribution changes in a way that permanent exhibits never could. I was particularly interested in the session led by “Dr Plankton” who identified the microscopic life in seawater samples we examined using the aquarium’s microscopes. Among all the jellyfish lavae, fish eggs and tiny crustaceans were a lot of microfibres – plastics, from fishing gear or even clothing…..all clothing sheds a certain amout of fibre when washed and that drains into the sea eventually. It was after this that David Attenborough’s Blue Planet series raised awareness of marine plastic pollution. We are starting to see some great initiatives to reduce marine plastics, such as collection and repurposing of discarded fishing gear, but we can all do our bit. As far as my knitting is concerned, I’m trying to reduce the amount of artificial fibres I buy. I want to concentrate on using what I already have to avoid waste and buy natural fibres wherever possible. Wool, alpaca, cotton and so on are biodegradable and will not accumulate in the environment. It seems like an appropriate thing to do for Stitches by the Sea!
Serious stuff, so I’ll finish with a lighthearted question.
What are your favourite TV shows from your childhood? Describe each in one sentence in case others have never seen them.