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Archive for the ‘miscellaneae’ Category

I’m a bit ashamed to admit that for years, I did not have a bed. My mattress was right on the floor. I tried to pretend it was ‘minimalist’ or very ‘Japanese’, but of course, my bedroom looked more like a student dive. However, I moved house earlier this year and my ten-year old mattress really had to go. It was no longer comfortable, and as I now live in a basement flat, with carpet on the floor, the underside of a mattress is a good place to grow mould if you so wish.

As I didn’t have a huge budget, I decided to spend as much of it as I could on a new mattress, and as little as I could on a bed. As I didn’t want to buy a cheap flatpack bed, I made the decision to build my own. In Brighton, where I live, we have the amazing Wood Recycling Project, which is where I went to buy all the timber I needed for the bed. I try to be mindful of resources, so this charity that collects unwanted, but perfectly reusable wood from building sites etc, felt like the right place to source the timber from, rather than buying new. I turned up with a little sketch-cum-building plan and they were very helpful. Not only did I get some advise on my building plan, they also showed me around the timber yard and explained which types of timber would be good to use. To keep the costs down even more, I decided to buy everything unsanded:

 

Here it is, waiting in the kitchen as I was taking it through to the patio. You can see the sander lying on the floor. A piece of equipment I got very familiar with over my DIY weekend! But my first job was to remove nails. I had bought two joists and they are notoriously full of them:

 

Removing the nails didn’t take me that long, but the sanding did. I spent around 7 hours in total sanding down all the pieces of timber – there’s always a price to pay.

 

Nearly done! On the left are the two pieces of wood that I used to make the ‘feet’ of the bed. They are placed at the head end and the foot end, to support the two joists, which you can see on the right. I then made a platform from planks (which you can see in the middle in the picture above):

 

Voila! A platform bed. Perhaps more Fred Flintstone than Louis XIV in style, and definitely no Shamanic Bed for Creatives – it’s purely functional; nonetheless I’m immensely proud of it. Although I make a lot of my own things, they are usually from a very different, and perhaps more delicate, realm. Making my own bed felt very liberating, and has left me feeling enabled. Although I will not pretend my bed is even close on a parr with Rachael’s Shamanic Bed, making my own bed has made me understand better how she just Makes. She doesn’t feel one craft is better, or has more value than another, and indeed she indiscriminately joins, hand-knits, crochets, machine-knits, carves and darns until she has made what she wants to make. What I wanted to make was a comfortable bed, and I think my parting picture shows I was successful in doing just that:

 

Sweet dreams Anthony!

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The Coronation Knits Blog Tour stop-over at tomofholland was accompanied by a giveaway of a copy of Coronation Knits and enough Juno Arts Fibre Belle yarn in the Heart on my Sleeve colourway to knit the Diamond Stole that features on the front cover:

After my tutorial on the elegant decrease used in the Diamond Stole, which made two stitches out of three in a very pleasing and symmetrical fashion, you could enter the competiotion by telling me what your favourite decrease was. Here are the results, some people mentioned more than one decrease, others didn’t specify a particular decrease, but K2tog was the clear winner here:

K2tog (knit two together): 13

SSK (slip one, slip one, knit together): 8

S1, K1, PSSO (slip one, knit one, pass slipped stitch over): 6

CDD (centred double decrease): 4

S1, K2tog, PSSO (slip one, knit two together, pass slipped stitch over): 3

K2tbl (knit two together trough backloop): 3

“Anything with a slipped stitch”: 2

Diamond Stole 2 from 3: 2

P2tbl (purl two together through backloop): 1

SSK as slip one purl-wise, slip one knit-wise, knit two together: 1

SYTK (Slip, Yank, Twist, Knit, a left-leaning decrease by TECHknitter): 1

And I learnt something new, too: according to Margaret Stove via Jean Miles: “the stitch the needle enters first, is the one that winds up on top.” The only exception to this rule I can think of is a rarely used decrease as it’s quite laborious: slip one knitwise, slip one knitwise, slip both stitches back on the left needle (this just changes the stitch orientation), purl together through backloop. This is a decrease you can use if you require a left-leaning decrease with untwisted stitches, worked on the wrong side. I learnt this from the Myrtle Leaf Shawl with Willow Border from Victorian Lace Today, where you have shaping on all rows.

And now for the winner: I used a random number generator to pick a post:

And the winner is:

Sue Schwarz, who likes the symmetry of using a K2tog and a Sl1, K1, PSSO opposite each other.

Sue, I have contacted you by email to ask for your delivery details. I will pass these on to Susan Crawford and Juno Fibre Arts.

Happy knitting!

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After teaching a glove-knitting class at Prick Your Finger I stayed behind and sat in on Rachael’s excellent beginners crochet class. I used to crochet doilies for my granny as a kid. They barely poked out from under an egg cup, but she used them nonetheless. But that was a long time ago, and apart from making a crochet chain for cast-ons, I haven’t really used any crochet techniques. However, when I saw Colleen’s gorgeous crochet bag, I was inspired to put my newly learnt skills to the test:

It was a lot of fun to make. Crochet has the advantage that it’s really quick to execute, and if it’s not to your liking, it’s very easy to undo and start again. I embellished my bag with a plaited cord and a tassel. Despite the muted colours and, dare I say it, plainness of the wools, it adds an understated touch of luxuriousness.

I used some left-over wool for this: the brown is Manx Loghtan from Garthenor Organic Wool and the heathered grey is North Ronaldsey from Blacker Yarns. I love the texture of this fabric – and the slight contrast between the stitch definitions:

The notions bag is lined, and in fact, I’ve been enjoying lining things lately. In this picture is a lined Sanquhar pencil case*:

For the notions bag I have used canvas, as I frequently have DPNs, crochet hooks and other sharp, pointy things rattling around in it and canvas is sturdy. For the pencil case I used some left over fabric from a pair of boxershorts. Who else can boast a matching pencil case and pants?

I have enjoyed all the hand stitching this involves. In both cases I first installed a zipper and then added the lining. I’m particularly fond of the tiny stitches that attach the lining to the zipper band, as they are nigh-on invisible.

My thread snipper also needed its own little wallet. The thin plastic case it came with didn’t really stay on very well, so I made one from layered canvas. Thanks to my indestructible Singer sewing machine, stitching through four layers was a doddle.

These very practical objects give me a lot of pleasure in their everyday use. They are unique, and well made, using quality materials. Both items replace bland and boring cases I bought on the High Street. The notions bag replaces one which had gaps at the end of the zipper. They were there to add some ease when opening and closing it, but it also meant that small things kept falling out. The pencil case replaced a tubular affair. It was made from some really light, yet stiff material, and for some reason it would always roll so that zipper faced down. But only when I left the zipper open. Pens and pencils kept falling out. I never thought about all this when I bought these items, but I got fed up with these minor annoyances. So although I’m pleased to have replaced notions bag and pencil case with unique pieces, they would never have turned out this way if I hadn’t used their generic predecessors.

The Notions Bag is Raveled here.

The Pencil Case is Raveled here.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

*) As an aside: it won’t be too long before I can release a pattern for the Sanquhar Pencil Case. Keep an eye out!

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Every day on my way to work I walk to Brighton Station and I encounter a few choice examples of Visible Mending in my surroundings. It includes my all-time favourite Visible Mend!

To start with, I see this magnificent tree. It had some branches cut off a long time ago and the resulting scar tissue has created what almost look like orifices.

Although these branches were probably cut off because they were overhanging the street, I have found out that in New South Wales Aboriginals deliberately scarred trees for a variety of reasons, including ceremonial and artistic uses.

The next Visible Mend seems to be an attempt to hide something. I suspect this used to be a shop entrance:

This corner house is opposite the side of Brighton station and the theme of mending in architecture continues with these windows in the station:

I particularly like the incongruity of these windows: some were filled in with brickwork, but in a somewhat haphazard fashion most had smaller windows put in. They are of unequal size, and the placement differs too. Look at the last one! I can only assume that these used to be windows letting light onto the station concourse, but there must’ve been a necessity for more offices.

And last but not least:

This is a favourite for a couple of reasons: first of all, I feel it comes closest to my Visible Mending of clothes. Changing windows or closing up a shop entrance is not only a way of mending, but also of altering the original purpose of the thing mended. When I mend clothes, I do not intend to change their original purpose, but instead I try to make them fit for purpose once more. Secondly, somebody must be taking pride in living on Terminus Place. So much so that they felt the need to find some tape and recreate the missing letters on the sign. Brilliant.

 

What visible mending do you encounter in your surroundings? I would love to hear all about them.

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Unexpectedly, I have performed another invisible mend recently. Zoë, who commissioned me to visibly mend her green cardigan, had another hole in her wardrobe. She has a gorgeous vintage Acquascutum coat with Princess Anne style sleeves, which she found for a mere £25 in a charity shop. The day before she collected her green cardigan, she was stood at the bus stop and realised there was an enormous hole in the side.

She hadn’t a clue how this has happened. She doesn’t recall getting it caught on something, but the lining has worn through in the same spot, so I suspect the previous owner used to wear a handbag that has continuously rubbed against the coat. In the end, it must just have given up. It was a heartbreaking hole in a once-in-a-life-time charity shop find. There was also a torn pocket flap corner:

What to do with that? I felt that somehow this coat would not improve with a visible mend. It’s too tailored and has very much its own personality, and I felt that a visible mend would distract too much from what makes this such a beautiful coat. So there was only one solution: invisible mending.

I wanted to use a Tailor’s Patch, as this would allow me to line up the weave, so that the patches would blend in; it would also make a strong repair. In order to do this, I had to harvest some material from the coat itself, from which to make patches for the hole and the pocket corner. I took this from the interfacing of the right side front:

Following the instructions from my little mending bible* to the letter, I cut the hole into a square, turned the edges in, lined up the patch behind it, matched the grain, and then sewed it in place. Quite frankly, I was more than a little concerned when I saw how this turned out:

How was this ever going to turn out to be INVISIBLE? Somewhat disheartened I continued the instructions in the Tailor’s Patch chapter. And lo and behold, after pressing open seams, the little magic that is called ‘rantering the seams’, more pressing and a final brushing up of the nap, this mend is indeed nearly invisible:

After this success, I turned to the pocket corner. I quote from the Mend It! book:

This tailoring repair presents considerable difficulty. Unless you are confident of your skill in working on a small area in an awkward corner, take it to a professional repairer. A whole suit can be made unwearable by such conspicuous damage[.] (Goldsworthy 1979, p. 163)

Does having only ever done one Tailor’s Patch count towards being confident in my skill in working on a small area in an awkward corner? There was only one way to find out:

Dear readers, after these early successes in my career as invisible mender, I could return to my true love of visible mending. The hole I had to create in the interfacing for the patches would need covering up as well. I first tried to find some fabric in a near match, but of course this proved impossible. A near match in colour jarred so much, I felt justified in using some contrasting salt-and-pepper tweed:

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you an invisibly mended vintage Aquascutum wintercoat:

———

*) Goldsworthy, M. (1979). Mend it! a complete guide to clothes repair. London: Book Club Associates.

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Following on from my previous Three Paper Christmas Decorations post, I will now present to you: paper cut-outs, more paper cut-outs, even more paper cut-outs (which, for the discerning reader, actually makes a total of four different paper decorations) and no Christmas tree. So, following on from the gorgeous sheets of paper I bought a while back, here is the second one:

I cut around the Santas, and then glued them onto card (thank you, spray mount). By doing it this way, it is easier to cut the precise shape of the Santas and card in one go. As I used permanent adhesive spray mount, I didn’t have to worry about gloops of glue. By cutting around the Santas before mounting, I knew the glue would go all the way up to the edge. After that I stuck on some ribbon to make Santa hangers. My partner has hung them all over our flat!

The last sheet of paper shows a collection of cutlery. It’s not your traditional Christmas decoration, but as both my partner and me thoroughly enjoy cooking and eating it appears festive to us:

Following the same process as with the Santas, I cut out the individual forks, knives and spoons. This time I used a scalpel, as the tines of the forks are rather more intricate than the Santas, and I didn’t want to get them dog-eared by using scissors. I then attached random lengths of sewing thread on them and hung them from a bamboo cane affixed to the picture rail. Unfortunately, the pictures of the ‘installation piece’ in situ didn’t come out very well, here’s the best one I got:

Appropriately, they hang above the dining table. My guess is, that these will remain in place well after Christmas, as I really like the effect. They don’t all hang flat against the wall, and so sometimes twist to show the back. I used card in different colours, and the silhouette of cutlery shapes is instantly recognisable, so I quite like the effect of silhouettes mixed with realistic looking cutlery.

I managed to sneak in another cut paper project for decoration, for which I used plain white paper. It’s the perennial kindergarten favourite: the cut paper snow flake. I hope I don’t have to explain how to make those. (post-posting note: as you can see in the comments, not everybody knows how to make paper snow flakes, so here is a video tutorial)

This year we decided to leave the Christmas tree at the market stall, and settled for a few branches of spruce, holly, and, erm, tulips. Add some candles and I think you’ll agree that even without a tree, our living room looks suitably festive!

*M*E*R*R*Y*  *C*H*R*I*S*T*M*A*S*

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Ever since I moved out of my parents’ home, I have been making my own Christmas decorations. There was the Christmas tree with marshmallows as baubles (which slowly but surely sagged into the needles – impossible to get them off again to eat them), the cut-paper snow flakes on the window, the knitted Christmas stockings, and the felt stars with embroidered snow flakes.

This year I will NOT be knitting Christmas baubles, however many friends are expecting me to. Perhaps I have a contrary streak in me? Instead, I’ll be fashioning my decorations from these gorgeous sheets of paper:

I started with this beautiful silver print paper, which I think will make very festive Christmas baubles:

I cut the large sheets (I think they are about 50x70cm) into squares, and then did some clever origami folding and turned them into ‘balloons’. There are plenty of on-line tutorials to be found, here’s one that takes you through all the steps in great detail.

I have made many of these balloons ever since I was a kid, and it still feels a like a little magic how a square of paper can be folded and blown up to turn it into a balloon, just like turning a heel on a sock still delights me. In order to be able to hang them up, I tied a cocktail stick to a piece of ribbon and inserted this through the little hole and then tied the two tails into a bow.

What a beautiful cluster of baubles!

Keep an eye out for the next few posts to see what else I have made. What Christmas decorations have you made this year?

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