A penny for them

Hello All

I often wonder at stream of consciousness. When I was studying for my A Levels … or was it O Levels?…. well some sort of exam that stole the best of the summer with revision .. I remember reading A Portrait of The Artist As a Young Man by James Joyce. Joyce we were told wrote using stream of consciousness technique ( yawn, give me back the sunshine). Nowadays I realise Stephen Daedalus is not alone with his wayward thinking.

Random thoughts seem to pop into my head especially when I AM TRYING REALLY HARD TO CONCENTRATE. A bit like Homer Simpson I am listening or reading as best I can then whoops! I have a 'Squirrel in a Tree' moment. Distracted once more by cerebral flotsam. And what was it today? What colour are your rhododendrons?

Excuse my impertinence. Mine are pink.

I understood that soil type dictated the colour of rhododendrons but when I am out and about locally I have noticed that they appear in a variety of colours even within a small area. That was today's little unnecessary conundrum. Why am I so distracted?

What I AM TRYING REALLY HARD TO CONCENTRATE on is doing more crafting and deciding what small items I can make by needle felting, crochet, or tablet weaving – suggestions on a postcard please – to sell through a small local cooperative. But I think I have crafters' block. I seem to have come to a making halt and even simple projects elude me.

Hopefully rescue may be at hand. Two friends are coming over tomorrow for a kitchen table crafts session. I am sure they will inspire me and help me finish at least one little project.

I mean those ends?! Not sewn in….

Until next we meet, Moke xxx

Hope you like your greens

Hello All

I said that I would be practising with my new camera app. As you know photography is not my forte so it couldn't be any worse, right? Well you are right! Definitely sharper and clearer. Sorry turns out a good camera doesn't help my sense of composition or subject. If you are allergic to green look away now. I'll tell you when it's safe to come back.

I have a penchant for allotments. There I have admitted it. I love the thought of all those superb tasty veggies growing in small scale patchwork ranks. Mmmm satisfying.

On my way through to Oxenholme Station I like to wander from the main road and walk through allotment land.

Yummy goodness. Gorgeous fruit tress. No scrumping was undertaken. Honest.

Everyone has their own style. From slightly chaotic to serried ranks. You. Leeks! shoulders back, stand up straight.

Anyone remember 'The Flower Pot Men' ? Bill and Ben and most especially Little Weeeeeed? Those were innocent times!!!!!

Productive way to recycle old window units.

Rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb.

If you are ready for some new recipes for all those scrummy, crunchy, luscious veggies… (oh yes… you can look back greeniness is over … sort of).

I spotted this book yesterday and thanks to a kindly friend JH and her gift of a book voucher I was able to buy it and bring it home. At first I thought it might have too many fancy clancy ingredients that this country mouse would struggle to get. But as I sat drooling at all the tastiness within I realised the recipes were heart-warming, stomach-filling and easily made. In addition to the glorious food are tales of the rich Middle Eastern culinary heritage beautifully and humorously written.

Definitely got p166 Imam Biyaldi (The Swooning Imam … apparently) lined up for a warming supper. And warming is the order of the day here in the Cumbrian summer. Don't know about anyone else but I have been ffffffffreezing lately. So much so it has been even more of a pleasure to work on one of my ongoing projects, the scrap blanket.

Thankfully it has reached the stage where it is large enough to cover my legs and toes. And the scrap mountain is going down. Win win.

Hope your week is going well. What are you and your weather up to?

Until next we meet,
Moke xxx

Patterns are fun …eventually

Hello All

The sun has got its hat on. Hip hip hip hooray! Yesterday was a wonderful day for a train journey to my favourite city, Carlisle. A day when all my bus train bus connections came together and travel was an absolute pleasure.

As you know there is little chance of finding me on a train without wool and a project. Yesterday was no exception.

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In truth however I was running scared. I thought after the bauble success of last week I would try another pattern from the colourful “Boho Crochet” book edited by Merenke Slump. My knees turned to jelly when I realised I was moving from a two star to a THREE star skill rating. What was I thinking?! FPtrs and FPdtrs awaited along with surface crochet and sl st into blo (don’t ask, spare yourselves).

But before I could hook my way through a new crocheting learning curve my train had pulled in at Carlisle station. I had a little time before meeting with my friends at Tullie House Museum. Time for a visit to the library to pick up some light reading and settle down with a cup of tea.

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And yes that is brilliant sunlight casting shadows! Apologies for getting so excited but we don’t get a lot of sunshine in Cumbria. Infact like Nosferatu caught out by dawn we squinted, we fidgeted, we MOVED to get out of the rays. We may not get much sun but when we do it is stunning. Our eyes need time to adjust.

It was lovely meeting up with my friends but all too soon I was time to go our separate ways. A beautiful train ride later and I was back home and it was time to face my ‘Star Fruit Pattern Rug’ fears. Gulp.

Things didn’t get off to the best of starts.  I discovered I didn’t know my WS from my RS!

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Oops!

But having discovered this fundamental I started to get to grips with the lingo and enjoy myself.

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The Star Fruit shape began to form as I worked in the surface crochet. And the motif came together with the addition of the third colour edging.

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In no time at all I had three motifs completed. Only another 67 to go and I’ll have a rustic new rug!

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In case you were wondering I am using a 4mm hook and these chunky rough dyed rug yarns from Farfield Mill.

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Patterns. Pah! Nothing to fear after all. Next time 4 stars. Bring it on.

Until next we meet, Moke x

What’s on the kitchen table?

Hello All

Having said last week that Spring had sprung this weekend has been f-f-f-r-r-r-e-e-e-e-zing. Best spend the day in the warm with copious amounts of tea and a small (ie I have a chance of finishing it) craft project.

So what is on the kitchen table this week? Having a giddy flash-back to ‘Play School’ … what is through the …. round window? (I always wanted the round window). Enough of the 1960s back to the kitchen table:

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Time to set about a wee bit of crochet inspired by “Boho Crochet” edited by Merinke Slump until

 

I have two half orbs. Then only a few stitches follow and …

voila! a bauble

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with all it’s playful possibilities. Sparkle-y yarns for celebrations and your favourite colours for interiors …  all worked in a trice.

Infact it was finished too quickly. The great outdoors is still less than inviting so it is back to ….

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the sock-a-thon. Which as a dedicated woolly crafter I am doomed I mean duty-bound to complete.

What crafts have kept you busy this weekend? and who remembers Gonks?

Until next we meet, Moke x

Kitchen Table Crafts

Hello All

What a lovely day. A day of conversation and cuppas enjoying woolly crafting. All from the comfort of my kitchen.

When friend AFl suggested coming over I balked slightly at the craft she suggested. But as soon as I started gathering everything we would need I felt the old excitement I got from running workshops and joining in Wool ‘n’ Stuff sessions.

What were we going to do? There’s a (BIG) clue on my kitchen table.

‘Felting’ you say? Felting yes but with a twist. This is Nuno felting (felting onto cloth) and if you want to have a go at this low cost craft – or just want to see what we got up to – read on.

Here’s what we used:

  • surface to work on that you don’t mind getting a bit wet (kitchen table = perfect);
  • bubble wrap;
  • cling-film (needs to be quite robust variety);
  • muslin (remember there will be about a 50% shrinkage so allow for this);
  • fibres (we used dyed merino tops);
  • plastic bag each;
  • cool soapy water (I put a mix of washing-up liquid and cool water in an old plastic spray bottle);
  • clothes washing flakes or liquid; and
  • vinegar.

At this point I should have been able to show you what we did first but fueled with coffee (and a cheeky donut..or two…) I forgot to take any photos!!!! So words will have to suffice. Normal photographic service will soon follow.

Our first steps:

Bubble wrap was laid out bubble side down;

We wet the fabric and spread it out on the bubble wrap;

Remembering that less fibre leads to more shrinkage we pulled our wool tops into small, even and thin pieces;

Then we lay the fibres in all directions (one direction means shrinkage will only be one way);

We gently sprayed COOL soapy water on the fibres and cloth; and

Covered our fibre patterned muslin with cling film (AFl had brought an old industrial sized roll which was perfect cos it wasn’t too thin nor very sticky).

Now we gently pressed all the water down through the wool,

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until it started to go flat at which point we rubbed gently – still through the cling-film – with our scrunched up plastic bags. A bit like rubbing down a wet horse I thought …. or is that just me?!

Off came the cling-film and rolling commenced … oops just noticed the cling-film is not off … remember to remove yours.

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We rolled three hundred times (yes 300!) one way and then having re-rolled the felt in the opposite direction three hundred (YES 300!) more times.

Unbeknowst to us hours passed as we chattered and rolled … and rolled …. and rolled …  Time flew.

Once we could see fibres making their way through the muslin we flipped the bubble wrap over and rubbed the nuno (yes it actually looked like nuno felting, amazing) along the whole length.

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We put the nuno into hot soapy water. As hot as our hands could cope with. Ooooooch. Then came the best bit.

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‘Is that it?’ I hear you cry. OK it doesn’t look very exciting but this is my nuno felt after I had thrown it full force S-P-L-A-T onto the table. This only needed to be done about a dozen times but as I hurled my felting I found it was a great means of working off my angst … “and this is for …. bang! and this is for …. BANG!” Twelve throws was not enough. When you get to this stage you’ll know what I mean.

Not only was it therapeutic but it was also magical. Shrinkage! Houston we have shrinkage!

Finally all our nuno needed was a rinse to get rid of the soap and a last rinse with a splash of vinegar and more water.

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We were very pleased with ourselves. We had actually created nuno felted pieces and had just enough time for a celebratory soup as they dried.

Excellent way to spend a day. Getting together with a friend and having a bash (quite literally) at a kitchen table craft. Thank you AFl for reminding me.

Until we meet next. Moke x

Seagulls and Sewing

Hello All

Does anyone else have a problem with seagulls? Not in the sense that they sky dive to eat your cornet of melty ice cream or worse bomb you with an unhealthy dollop of  guano (if you don’t know don’t ask … spare yourself) but in the fact that they are dastardly difficult to draw. For reasons unbeknownst even to me I have taken it into my head that our work space needs to have its own seagull.

Before needle felting I like to do a little drawing. Things did not start well.

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Think my pencilled comments speak for themselves.

Time to take another tack. I felt like I needed to dissect a gull. Not literally of course but photographically. Nothing for it but to take my camera off to Barrow the home to many a European Herring Gull.

As I sat at the bus stop

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I geared myself up to tackle these monstrous birds. No joking they are HUGE. They make the pavement shudder when they come in to land. Boom. But Hitchcock would not be impressed. They turned camera shy.

They either came over all coy

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and turned their backs leaving me with a rather fuzzy picture of a bundle of feathers or

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they sat down on the job! Obviously they are after Equity rates darlings.

Anyhoo as sitting was the best I was going to get time to move on with the lying down gull drawing prep.

DSCI0011At least I won’t have to worry about those pesky fronty-backy knees … watch this space.

The other small fascination for the week has been brought about by a new book purchase.

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I y-e-a-r-n for some new clothes but find it hard to buy the right shape and style for me. Time to revisit my teenage years and make clothes for myself. Luckily I have no photo evidence of any of those wonderful (!) teen creations – if I did would I show them?! Habibe Acikgoz’ book ‘Bold and Beautiful Easy-Sew Clothes’ is filled with stylish asymmetrical patterns and clear instructions and advice.  Appetite suitably whetted let’s have a go.

First job will be scaling up the pattern (gulp) so I needed dot and cross paper (or a lot of sellotape to join together A4 sheets of graph paper). I had been told that there is a very good dress-making fabric shop in Ulverston so off I set.

What a lovely find. Unique Image in Market Street, Ulverston is a proper dress-making shop and yay! it sells dot and cross paper by the metre.

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This is dot and cross paper in case you didn’t know and let’s face it I didn’t until about two days ago. Now its time for a little maths (eeek) and let scaling commence.

If all else fails Unique Image also run project led courses so I may be investing in a full day workshop in their lovely airy sewing room learning how to dress-make from a professional …. I’ll keep you posted.

Until next we meet, Moke x

Happy 2015 and welcome to new projects

Hello All and a very Happy New Year

Well here we are 2015. Flying along through the new millennium. I wonder how they felt in 1015? Muddy? Worried about the way Cnut The Great was looking at our monasteries? Thank goodness times have changed, now we look forward to the latest Nordic Noir (especially Sarah Lund’s Faroe Isle knitwear), love the way some of us have names that end in  -son thanks to our Viking ancestors and admire the beautiful wool crafts the Norse created then and now.

If I’d any sense (and ability) I’d have lined up a wonderful Scandinavian knitwear project. You know the sort: a highly patterned cardigan with ornamental metal clasp fastenings…drool…. Although that day may come for now I recognize my limitations and present you with (fanfare) the first socks of 2015 on the DPNs.

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As you can see the going is slow due to all the little twisty cables. Nonetheless the knitting is tactile-y pleasing as the yarn is Rowan’s ‘felted tweed’ a beautifully soft mix of Merino and Alpaca (I get no payment for saying this!).

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Holidays finished and it is back to work. But it also back to one of my favourite haunts, the library. Good friend BS recommended a book by Jacquetta Hawkes and with a little help from the wonderful, knowledgeable, helpful, hardworking staff (you know who you are!) I was soon excitedly clutching a copy to take home.

‘A Land’ is a revelation. A history of the formation of Britain and its people written by a brilliantly gifted woman who brought to her writing such rich poetic humanity. Her use of Isaac Newton buried under a deluge of apples is typical of her ability to convey information – in this case stratification – memorably and with humour. Thanks B, as always a superb recommendation.

Plenty to keep me inspired and busy through the still dark evenings of January.

I wish you all the best for a happy and healthy 2015.

Until next we meet, Moke x

PS Thanks to my friend Jackie at ‘Knitting With Heart’ I am reliably informed that 2015 is The Year of The Sheep. An excuse (if one were needed) for twelve months of woolly wonderfulness. Yippee! Mx