Sunday, 26 October 2014

Halloween Dorset Button Earrings

I'll start with a big thank you to all of you for your comments last week. We were away for a few days so I didn't have enough time to leave you each a personal reply.  I tried to visit as many of you as I could to see what you had been up to, but there are only so many hours in the day.  If I missed you out please accept my apology.

I'm afraid I may struggle to leave comments this week also, as I will be visiting my youngest daughter. About this time last year she very kindly entered me in a competition and I won! Unfortunately being ill for most of this year I have been unable to claim the prize until now.  A drum roll please!!! A Personal Shopper and £250 to spend in Debenhams.  Whoopee!!

Shopping isn't really my thing so to have a Personal Shopper to tell me what looks good and be given the money to spend, topped with the added bonus of spending some time with my daughter, whom I don't get to see nearly enough these days, is so exciting, I am really looking forward to it.  So I hope you will forgive the administrative disruptions again this week!

Anyway, on to the nitty gritty of this week's post.  A few weeks back I promised a tutorial on how to make Dorset Buttons.  I did a workshop on these last week and one lady said how they reminded her of a spider's web.  So the cogs started turning and I thought as Halloween is coming up they would make perfect earrings.  Here is how you do it - minus instructions to make a spider though, as I ran out of time and I'm sure all you crafty folk out there have little spider buttons lurking around somewhere or could rustle one up somehow!!!!

Firstly, you will need a thin, lightweight ring. I used a gardening ring with the join taped over with masking tape as it was all I had! This one is just over an 1" wide but you can make any size you wish and plastic curtain rings are just fine too.  About 3 or 4m of thread, measured from fingers to shoulders of an outstretched arm!! Nothing too precise!  And a small piece of card to use as a bobbin.

Having wrapped your thread around your bit of card to create a bobbin, trap the tail end below the stitches as you work a sort of buttonhole stitch over the ring, leaving the little knots on the outer edge. This process is called 'casting'.  Continue this all around the ring.

As you are making earrings you will need to add a ring to attach them to the earring hook.  Just before you reach the end of the ring, unravel what is left on your bobbin and feed a closed jump ring onto the thread.

Trap the jump ring on the inner edge of the next stitch and continue around until you have covered the complete ring.

The next process is called 'slicking' and it just means turning the knotty edge into the centre as in the next picture.

The jump ring will now be on the outside edge.  Now the slightly tricky bit.

Change of ring I'm afraid as I forgot to photograph this bit on the orange one!  Take your thread from your bobbin and thread it through a needle. Wrap the thread across the ring in 5 minute intervals like a clock face.  You will end up with 12 spokes.

Secure these spokes with a couple of cross stitches which will then pull them all together into the centre.

The next stage is called 'rounding' which, in this case, involves taking the thread under two spokes and down over one.  Make sure your thread starts at the back, come up on the left hand side of a spoke, go down on the right hand side of the same spoke, pass under this spoke and the one to the left of it, bring your thread up to the front and down again on the right hand side of this spoke.  Continue all the way around keeping everything firm.  For a complete Dorset Button you would continue like this all the way to the outside edge, but to make it look like a spider's web just complete the amount of rounds to make it look right.

Ta dah! Finish off by tucking in your ends neatly on the back, make a second one, then just add it to your choice of earring post.  Oooh and don't forget to add that little spider button, you found in your stash!!

And there you have it, Halloween Dorset Button earrings.  See you over on Handmade Monday, have a good week.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Painting with Stitches

Wow!  What a day!

This workshop was a while ago now but I would like to share it with you as the technique used for creating stitched pictures is a wonderful way for those of us who cannot draw to create our own unique pieces.

First let me introduce you to Sue Dove author of Painting with Stitches.  A very talented lady with a passion for painting and embroidery, Sue creates colourful, quirky textile pictures by creating a collage in paper and oil pastels first, before turning this into a hand stitched embroidery.

Sue came up from her studio in St Ives to do a one day 'Collage and Stitch' workshop. To provide the inspiration for the final piece we began the day by tearing up magazines (very therapeutic!) to create a collage. To keep things simple, the theme was flowers.

This is how mine looked in it's first stage of construction.

The next stage was using oil pastels to fill in the background.

Having completed our 'drawing' it was now time to create the fabric version.  We began rummaging through loads of scrap fabric that Sue had brought along, chosing pieces to replicate our 'drawing'. We started by laying out the background fabrics and then adding the detail.  Once this was done we could then begin tacking the pieces in place before beginning the embroidery.

Time was running out fast and unfortunately I only managed a little embroidery on the day. Below you can see the comparison between my original 'drawing' and the stitched piece.

Sue's work is mainly embroidered by hand and I know she always has a piece in her bag to work on when she has a spare minute.  I found it quite hard on the fingers, to sew through all the layers of fabric so I'm afraid I cheated and did most of mine by machine.

You can see though, I got there in the end!  To keep all the large background pieces in place I added stitching creating the illusion of a jigsaw puzzle and to finish it all off I added a crocheted border.

I had no idea how this was going to turn out when I started although I was rather pleased with the result. It's not my usual kind of work but the process used was interesting and I would definitely use this technique again as it is a wonderfully free way of creating a picture.

We will be spending the weekend with friends when this post goes out so I shall look forward to seeing what everyone has got up to this week on Handmade Monday when I get home.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Better late than never!

Have you ever stopped to think how reliant we have become on computers and in particular the internet?  Back 20 years ago, I can remember saying to my husband "What on earth do we want a computer for?". Last weekend we had a few days in Chepstow at a    B & B in the middle of the countryside.

I got prepared beforehand writing a post ready to publish in time for Handmade Monday only to realise the internet connection was virtually non existent!  I really don't like to say this but I was completely lost without it (Shhh! Don't tell anyone I just admitted to that!) and equally disappointed not to be able to join in with Handmade Monday!! So, I know none of you will be able to resist the temptation to find out what you missed out on (cough, cough!) and also, the 'ta dah' moment at the end of this post wont make much sense unless you read it, so pleeeaaase, humour me, just pop back and have a quick shifty at what should've been last week!

We arrived in Chepstow in beautiful autumn sunshine and after stopping for a bite to eat, had a stroll along the river .......

and up onto the bridge .....

with a view of Chepstow Castle

This was Taffy's first outing for a while and he was eager to explore the castle and his welsh connections!

Be careful Taffy, it's a long way down .....

Question: What are you up to Taffy?
Answer: Climbing the oldest castle door in Europe!

Time for a little Morris Dancing and a well earned pint!

And just enough time at the end of the day for a short visit to Tintern Abbey.

Taffy and his friend Chester have got up to quite a bit of mischief in the past.  You can read all about their escapades in these previous posts.

And to the final part of this post, the finished mandala ... my ta-dah moment! This was a very cheerful project with plenty of variation on each round, just enough to keep you interested but not too difficult.  You can read all about the inspiration for this mandala and find the links to the free pattern in my previous post.

 I need a new crochet project now - any ideas? 
Thanks for reading peeps. 

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Yarndale inspired Mandala

I expect those yarn addicted blog followers amongst you can not have failed to notice that Yarndale took place last weekend, up in Skipton, North Yorkshire.

The first ever Yarndale was held in 2013 and from what I have read, was a tremendous success.  It is described as a "creative festival celebrating all things woolly and wonderful" and from pictures I've seen, it certainly lives up to it's claim.  One of the people involved is Lucy over at Attic 24 a wonderfully colourful, yarny blog which I always enjoy visiting.  Recently she posted about the Starflower Mandala made from a free pattern

found over at Zooty Owl's Blog.  It was perfect for a visual display she was organising for this year's Yarndale and a few other friendly bloggers offered to help her out by making one or two themselves.

I came across this event too late this year to be able to get myself up to North Yorkshire, as it is quite a trek from down here in South Devon! But, I have already put it in my diary for next year when I hope to rectify the situation. Anyway, I am telling you all this so you understand where the inspiration for my mandala came from!  I instantly fell in love with the colours and the size so decided I would make myself a bit of Yarndale!!

I have some gorgeous Planet Penny Cotton which is so easy to work with and comes in a range of cheerful, bright colours (Planet Penny - another wonderfully colourful, yarny blog!). There are about 18 rounds to the pattern so I chose just 9 colours, deciding to start with red through to blue and back to red again.

I made a start .... the first 4 rounds

Now up to round 9!

and I'm afraid that is as far as I have got!  So far it is about 10" wide from point to point.  I am aiming to work on this over the next few days but if I had taken time to finish it before I wrote this post I wouldn't have had time to write the post. To finish or to post? Catch 22 I think!!  I should be able to show you the finished article next week. Watch this space.

I would just like to share one more little snippet with you.  I have been thinking of doing a bit of dressmaking for a while now, but it's not easy making things to fit when you have a few lumps and bumps in the wrong places!  Anyway, I thought I would start with something simple and have chosen to make a sleeveless top.  First hurdle - to find a pattern.  I came across this one Sorbetto by Colette Patterns which is free to download.

It prints out onto about 20 sheets of A4 and comes with really easy instructions on how to print it out to the right size and easily matches up using those little black diamonds you can see in the picture below.  Here it is all pieced up and ready to go.

It was easy to work out which size to follow, once I had measured my lumps and bumps, and there were also finished measurements so you could chose the perfect fit.  I'm going to try making it first using calico so I have the opportunity to make final tweaks if necessary before tackling the real thing!
I'll keep you posted on how it turns out.

Off to finish my Mandala now, thanks for reading :)