Category Archives: Textiles

This category groups posts around my interest in textiles and textile design

Missing Mojo – Found!

You might remember me bemoaning the loss of my Mojo in this post, the debilitating feeling when inspiration disappears out of the window.

Well, I’m happy to relate that it’s back and I’m beavering away being creative and even the wind and rain whipping past the window and howling down the chimney hasn’t dampened my spirits today!

I realise that I’ve become bogged down, especially with Social Media.  When I started writing this blog I had no idea about SEO, I didn’t have a Facebook Page, a Twitter account, a featured board on Pinterest, an Instagram account, Flickr.  I wasn’t helping other people with their Facebook Pages, Twitter accounts, websites….

Add that to the Etsy shop, packing yarn, writing patterns, answering queries as well as family commitments and actually having a life… the part of me which I discovered and which grew when I was at Art School only a few years ago was in danger of withering away altogether.

Being part of Open Studios over the past few years has kept me hanging on by my fingernails though, and I’ve loved making the exhibition pieces…

BirdsonaBranch

Wool Gathering 2012

'How to Knit a Sheep' NNOS 2013

How to Knit a Sheep 2013

That time of year is coming round again (so quickly!) and I’ve been rummaging around in my mind for the perfect inspiration.  For ages after making the sheep’s head, I toyed with the idea of a stag’s head complete with antlers.  The perfect place to hang crochet garlands and pompoms!  But then I realised that every time I opened a catalogue or magazine, or watched a design programme on television there seemed to be some sort of variation of a stag’s head, a rhino, a zebra or similar and I knew the moment had passed.

There are also restrictions for the exhibition too.  I work in three dimensions but making something which needs a plinth, and finding the plinth too is an added complication, so the hanging format I’ve used so far works best.

Inspiration struck a couple of weeks ago because of our local pantomime.  The Am-Dram group in the village is full of creative people and we’re lucky to have someone to devise something beyond the usual Sleeping Beauty/Aladdin/Puss in Boots offerings.  This year it was The Green Man.

Green Man Panto

Aha! the Green Man! And with some research I find this quote

His name means the Green One or Verdant One, he is the voice of inspiration to the aspirant and committed artist.

He can come as a white light or the gleam on a blade of grass, but more often as an inner mood.

The sign of his presence is the ability to work or experience with tireless enthusiasm beyond one’s normal capacities. In this there may be a link across cultures,… one reason for the enthusiasm of the medieval sculptors for the Green Man may be that he was the source of inspiration.”

Perfect!

I’ve sorted through my stash of fleece and yarns, filled a bag with natural colours and ordered some more from Wingham Wool Work.  I also bought a sample pack of dyes and that’s what I’ve been doing most of today, dying natural fleece and yarn, and over-dyeing some bright shades to bring them into the right colour spectrum.

Landscape Dyes Wingham Wool Works

I’ve had such FUN! I’ve looked back in the archives and it was January 2011 when I last dyed yarn and I loved the results then.  This is a very different palette, but I’m so enjoying throwing caution to the winds, and mixing up different dyes, and different strengths and dribbling them over the wool to get soft natural effects.

Landscape Dyes

My Green Man has been inspired by the cherry trees in the garden with their grey trunks.  His face is bark coloured using natural Cheviot fleece, rougher and hairier than my usual Merino, and lovely to needlefelt.  This is the story so far…

The Green Man - work in progressJust waiting for the greenery to grow!

The greenery is too damp to use tonight so I will put my crochet ‘Hat’ on as I want to finally finish the bunting pattern which I’ve been editing.  It’s looking very pretty…Crochet Beaded Bunting - Planet Penny Yarn

 I’m off to clean up the dye splatters in the utility room, but I’ll be back soon!

 

 

Planet Penny Cotton – FABRIC!

Fabric? yes..  now there’s a change!  This is something which has been simmering on the back boiler for a while and now I’m taking the plunge and telling you all about it.

I’ve made a couple of cushions over the last few months using the Planet Penny Cotton yarn to make the fronts and then finding a suitably brightly coloured fabric for the back.  I find it works really well, looks striking and makes a really simple opening on the cover so it’s easy to remove for washing.

this is the Granny Square crochet cushion

Planet Penny Cotton crochet cushion

…and for the back I used a much loved piece of Provençal print from my stash…

Provençal print fabric backThe Log Cabin Moss Stitch cushion which I later knitted…

Planet Penny Cotton moss stitch Log Cabin cushion…I backed with another treasured piece of Alexander Henry print fabric…

Alexander Henry Print fabric cushion back

…although this time I didn’t have quite enough material to make the envelope back.

But I’ve been thinking for a while it would be good to find a range of fabric which complemented the Planet Penny Rainbow colours and over the last months I have been working on it.  It still needs a little tweaking but I think I found some really pretty bright and more subtle colours and prints which I hope you like too.

The fabric has a lovely smooth finish, it’s gorgeous quality and I threw my sample pieces in the washing machine with a white towel to test them, with no colour loss and no shrinkage so I’m happy to recommend it to you.

I have in mind not only cushion backs, but linings for crochet and knitted bags, cheerful bunting, soft toys and accessories which will tie in with the blankets, throws and of course mice and  garlands made from the Planet Penny Cotton Yarn.

I found a great little pattern to share with you whilst trawling through Pinterest which shows of the fabric a treat, and have made a whole flock of birds!

And here they are…

pink fabric birds

blue green fabric birds

multi Fabric birdsI had a lot of fun getting them to roost in my little tree…

blue fabric birds in tree

pink Fabric birds in tree

multi fabric birds in tree

The fabrics will be available in packs of 4 assorted fat quarters from the Planet Penny Etsy shop and I will be listing them gradually over the next week or so, no two alike, so keep your eye out to see what’s on offer!  This is just a sample….

planet Penny Fabric and miceIf you like the birds, you can find the pattern here, they are easy and lots of fun.

This is a bit of a leap of faith so I’d really like to know what you think, and I’ll be back soon…x

 

 

Daisy, Daisy….

Daisy

I promised a daisy post and while they are still shining vibrantly in the lane I’m fitting in this little post.

I love daisies, don’t you?  They are the simplest flower, their shape is the one we first learn to draw, the one we doodle while we are on the phone.  They are a link to childhood… did you sit on the school playing field in the sun making daisy chains with friends as I did?  And they have become very much linked with the Open Studios season, as each year the edge of the lane leading to the studio is lined with a mass of Ox Eye Daisies…

ox eye daisy down the lane

Daisy and dog

Last year Kit, my Open Studios partner-in-crime, was inspired by the daisies as you can see from this post  and turned her sketches into a beautiful little etching.   I treated myself to a pack of cards as they are perfect for personalised letters…

Daisy Card

And that would have been all, but for the new book which I reviewed last weekend.  Caroline Zoob, writing in the The Hand-Stitched Home featured a beautiful curtain, patchworked from vintage lawn and lace.

The Hand-Stitched Home curtain

 It would take ages to amass such a wonderful collection but, nothing daunted, I called into our local charity shop just in case someone had been clearing out Miss Haversham’s attic!

Well, they hadn’t..but in a pile of textile odds and end I found a little crumpled treasure which, carefully washed, starched and ironed revealed…daisies!  It’s a wonderful piece of hand stitched cut work on fine lawn, a little frayed in places but this, I think, adds to the charm…

daisy cutwork

Unfortunately my name isn’t Susan…

cut work Susanbut for 25 pence – 25 PENCE! – that’s a minor detail…

cutwork cloth

I have been debating for a week or two what to put in the little window in the new door into my office.  I’m not a fan of nets, I didn’t want to lose the light but I just wanted to hide the interior from prying eyes if anyone called while I was out.  This small piece is perfect and with the help of some  pins I covered with vintage fabric a while ago I have my own little bright white curtain…

lace and pin

lace and pins

pin and lace

window with cutwork cloth

And 25p was well spent, I think you’ll agree!

If you’ve been inspired, there’s still a chance for you to win a copy of The Vintage Home.  Visit the post and leave a comment, what’s your sewing story?

 

All Sheep Shape…

daffodils in the sun for a Sheep shape post

Have you heard the sound of birds singing and  sheep dancing on Planet Penny this week?   It’s all because the sun is shining and I have finished my piece for the Norfolk and Norwich Open Studios Taster Exhibition at the Forum in Norwich….yippee!   I’ve just looked back and found I published my Ta-daaa moment for the last piece almost exactly a year ago today, you can read it here.   And I said “This has existed in my head for so long it was rather a shock to realise that I hadn’t actually made it yet, so I’ve been working on it all week” And I can say exactly the same this year.  It’s amazing how a deadline focuses the mind!

But first, the sunshine.  It’s still not very warm, but it was a relief to wake up yesterday morning and realise the wind was not whistling in the chimney which it’s been doing for days.

frosty gardenI’ve had the doors open into the garden for the first time this year (and kept my fleece on) to let some fresh air into the house and Henry and Higgins have appreciated being able to wander in and out as they please.  Henry has a spot on a warm paving slab where in a few weeks he will be able to get spaced out on Cat Mint…

Tabby cat in the garden

…and Higgins parked himself under the bird feeder to make sure no pesky birds could get at the little dish of water I  put out for them.  He found it was particularly delicious, so much nicer than the inferior water in the dog bowl!

miniature dachshund

There’s a lot of bare earth in the garden, even the weeds are holding back, but there are patches of Spring to enjoy…

purple crocus

white crocuses

mixed crocuses

frilly daffodilAnd so to my big project for this week.  I really wanted to do something completely different this time, to step away of the bright colours, the crochet, the small things.  Also to challenge myself on the needlefelt front and make something much bigger than little birds and mice.    So I’ve used a very subdued palette…

sheep fleeceNatural Merino fleece with a background of charcoal grey.

So can you guess what I made? Well, of course it’s a sheep!

needlefelt sheep for NNOS 2013It’s actually quite hard to photograph and get the angle right…

needlefelt sheep for Taster Exhibition NNOS 2013

It’s called ‘How to Knit a Sheep’… (but please don’t ask me for a pattern!)

'How to Knit a Sheep' NNOS 2013

The knitted part starts off as unspun fleece and gradually reduces in thickness until it becomes  undyed 4 ply to knit the lacy part.

Needlefelt Sheep for NNOS 2013

knitting for 'How to Knit a Sheep' for NNOS 2013This has been a rare moment when the finished piece is almost the same as the picture in my head, hence the singing and dancing!  As you can imagine, I haven’t done a lot else this week but there are exciting Planet Penny things in the pipeline which I hope to share with you soon.

It’s Handmade Monday again this week so I’m linking up with Wendy for Handmade Monday over on Handmade Harbour  and I’ll be back very soon…x

 

 

Bring on the Log Cabin

No, sorry, I haven’t suddenly moved into a log cabin in the woods, although the idea is rather appealing, especially with Christmas on the horizon!  I’ve just been creating something a little different, which I shall share with you  in a moment.

I hope you’ve all had a creative week, and haven’t been suffering from too many winter chills if you are in the Northern Hemisphere.  I have now regained most of my voice and am no longer getting baffled looks from Higgins who obviously wondered why he should take any notice at that funny croaky noise.  Yesterday was grey and soggy, but ended like this…

Norfolk November sunset

which was most certainly a ‘Shepherd’s Delight’ as today is glorious.

I came home from the Farmers’ Market with some lovely local veggies …

Veg from the Farmers Market

which, together with a mixed pack of game (vegetarians look away now) has been turned into a massive pot of casserole which I hope will keep me going for most of the week.  I do appreciate being able to ‘Eat Local’ and while not everyone would want to eat rabbit, pigeon, pheasant etc, at least they had a happy existence as nature intended before ending up in the pot.  And there has to be some compensation for listening to guns going off most of the day in the surrounding fields.  The joys of country living!

I mentioned last week I have had some knitting on the go and I’ve just finished it and turned into a cushion.  I do like cushions, and the fact that I can’t actually put them on the sofa because I also have a small four-legged beast which chews the corners off (see this post and this one) doesn’t stop me making them.  I was just dozing off the other evening when an idea dropped into my head of a project which would be perfect for the Planet Penny Cotton and the next morning sent me off to raid the book shelves for the book I knew would help me achieve it.

Mason-Dixon Knitting Book

I’ve had this book since it came out in 2006 when I found it extremely hard to find brightly coloured cotton so now is the perfect time to revisit it.  (It’s still available, just click on the photo) But now I can make the log cabin of my dreams, in rainbow colour yarn!

Moss stitch Log Cabin

The log cabin knitting in the book is in garter stitch, which works well as it emphasises the directional nature of the knitting, but I do love moss stitch, the textural look and feel.

It’s now a cushion so I’ve tried it out on my wicker chair…

Log cabin moss stitch cushion

the sofa…

Log Cabin knitted moss stitch cushion

and the throw.

Log Cabin knitted cushion

I added the cross stitch to the design as it just seemed to need that little extra something.  I think it works.  And the back?  Well, I’ve been treasuring this little beauty for a while and this seemed the perfect place for it…

Island Girls - Alexander Henry Fabric 1999

If you are wondering it’s ‘Island Girls’, an Alexander Henry Fabric from 1999 which I bought when I was at Art School.  It really brightens up a November day!

I have this hankering for tassels at the corners, but I suppose it would just make them more enticingly chewable!

Coming soon is another book review.  If you saw the first episode of Kirstie Allsop’s new programme ‘Kirstie’s Vintage Home” you will have seen Lisa Comfort demonstrating the art of making a patchwork quilt and I have a copy of Lisa’s new book to tell you about.  This is probably a good reason why I should step away from the computer right now and do something about it!

I shall leave you with a link to Handmade Monday

See you soon….x

ReCraft – The Buttonbag Book

It’s been a busy few days…  I don’t often manage to delegate my responsibilities and get away from home, but last week I packed my overnight bag and headed off to the big city for a book launch.  The fabulous new book from the lovely ladies behind Buttonbag, called ReCraft.   The launch was held at the Oxfam D.I.Y. Shop in Camden High Street, which is a giant leap away from the Charity shops I have come across in the past, and almost demands a blog post of it’s own as you will see from the photographs…

Camden High Street Oxfam D I Y store

Arriving in London feeling a real country bumpkin, (not quite with a straw in my mouth) I was slightly nervous when I first turned up at the shop.  However, after a warm and friendly welcome and a glass of  a delicious and (highly potent) cocktail I had pinned on my name badge and was circulating happily…

…camera in one hand…

…and a sandwich in the other!

Buttonbag has been around for a while with it’s kits and haberdashery…

but ReCraft came about after it’s founders Sarah Marks and Sara Duchars undertook a project to design a range of craft kits for the charity Oxfam.  Having created all manner of lovely things from the armfuls of charity shop finds, cardigans and men’s stripey shirts, tweed skirts and curtains, plastic jewellery and old records the next step was to share the ideas in a book.

Recraft Book Cover

It was very nice to meet Sarah….

Sarah Marks, co-author of ReCraft

…wearing a dress made from three pairs of jeans, and Sara…

Sara Duchars, co-author of Recraft

…here modelling an amazing creation giving an old tweed coat a new and flattering lease of life.

The evening was like the best children’s party for grown-ups, yummy food and drink, nice new chums and then the opportunity to sit down and make pretty things!   I opted for the Fabric Flower Corsage …

making a flower corsage from ReCraft Book

flower corsage from ReCraft Book

…and liked it so much I made another one!

At other tables old silk ties were being turned into purses, and woolly jumpers into penguins…

Penguins seemed to be making a bit of a takeover bid, both in the book…

and in the shop…

And it was great to be able to see the pieces featured on the pages in real life…

(You’ll notice there’s always a dachshund!)

And the fab deckchair from the front cover…

There is also a project to make my dear OH very afraid, he has a ‘thing’ about shirts, he’s always buying them on Ebay, because they are a bargain.  He has DOZENS!!!! We have no where to store them all.  But they would look great if I did this…

…or even this…

So you can tell…I LOVE this book, it’s inspired me to go back to my sewing roots and be a bit inventive again, and re-enthused me to go back to some unfinished projects. (Like the child’s chair I was going to decoupage when my first grandson was on the way – he’s now 8!)   A definite 5 star recommendation and you can buy it here!

So the sewing machine is calling, and I’d better get back to being creative again….See you soon….x

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