Stockings and tit mice and Conductor 71….

weeny red stocking with red stars

I’m just finishing off a few last minute stockings for Clutter City tomorrow, I find it easier to sew the linings in by hand and tend to wait til there’s half a dozen or so stockings to sew in one one session, these all get piled into a basket then I sit and watch a Christmas movie or a black and white film, all the while trying not to drop pins on the carpet…..and budging Bernard away from what I’m ding….

green weeny sized stocking with blue ribbon

I’m really pleased with how these little stockings have turned out, especially the ones where I get to incorporate the original blanket stitching around the top of the stockings….sometimes keeping it simple works best and while I’m all for a little bit of pom pom trim, there’s something about the pared down stockings that makes me so happy when I see a pile of them all piled up around me.

I needed to go into town yesterday and it was so busy, I just felt so overwhelmed with the noise, people, gaudiness and buy buy buy what was going on….I didn’t need to buy much, but it still took me all day.  I was just happy to finally get the key in the door and get indoors, kettle on, squeeze and cuddle with Bernard, and then some quiet time knitting on the sofa before getting tea ready.

purple bird hot water bottle cosy

Along with finishing up the stockings I’ve also finished some more hot water bottles, like the stockings there’s a selection in my Folksy shop.  I don’t often make purple things but I had some dyed blanket left over from when I used to make fragrant bunnies (the bunnies were purple with lavender embroidery on their tummies and then they were filled with lavender and linseed)…..I’ve actually found some woolly templates for what looked like the start of my own little bunny warren that I’d all cut out and began embroidering but hadn’t finished sewing up so fingers crossed I’ll have them all ready for the start of the new year. (both the lavender and rose smell so nice and they look pretty tucked into drawers or under your pillow).

 

green hot water bottle cosie with brown bird applique

This was probably my favorite of the latest batch of cosies, I really liked the brown and green together and if it doesn’t sell this weekend may very well find itself tucked beneath my bed covers Saturday night…..it makes me think of the little brown birds we get in our garden, the sparrows and dunnocks that aren’t are flashily coloured as the chaffinches or tits but which can still keep me entertained for hours as I sit and watch them hop about under the raspberries or on the feeders.

I had some laundry to put out this morning and kept hearing the squeekiest chirp noise, I looked up at the big sycamore tree which overlooks our garden and the branches were filled with a right banditry of tit-mice..then about half of them flittered over the fence and balanced themselves on the raspberry canes, bird feeders and apple trees…one brave little fellow perched on the washing line and chirped at me with all his might…I’d put plenty of food out this morning so I don’t think it was a request for more, perhaps compliments to the chef….these are my favourite bird and it’s always so lovely to see them in the garden as Long tailed tits are nearly always in groups of at least half a dozen…..their colouring is so gorgeous all chalky powder white with rose tints and grey and black flecks of fluff…I can’t help but think of the powdered mice from Beatrice Potter books when I see them…or Conductor 71 from A Matter of Life and Death……(while David Niven is all dapper and charm, it’s Marius Goring who I really adore…)

The Clutter City fair is on tomorrow (Saturday 12th December) from 11 til 4 at Norwich Arts Centre on St Benedicts Street.

As I mentioned the other day there’s 10% off if you tell me the magic word*

(*the fluffiest, sleepiest, trumpety trumpster in the whole wide world)

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Little stockings, baking bread and a lavender loving furry assistant

weeny stocking for weeny sized bears

I’ve just updated my Folksy shop and have included some of the latest small size stockings I’ve been making up over the past few weeks…..these are made from beautiful old Witney wool blankets which really have seen better days…..they aren’t always in the best condition when I get them but a few spin rounds in the washing machine tends to brighten them up….sometimes the fabric begins to felt a little but when they’re a bit thread bare I tend to find that a good thing.

Along with the softness of the wool, I love the delicate colours, mostly I find cream ones, blue or green but every so often I’ll find a lovely bright colour like this pomegranate red one….it’s a gorgeous orangey red.  A few years ago me and Sasha went halfsies on a really red blanket at a car boot, it was the exact shade of a smashing lipstick I used to wear by Yardly, which made me feel like Kathleen Byron** whenever I wore it….

 

red stocking with background of blue stars

All the embroidery on the stockings is done by hand, and I use tapestry wool and threads that I source locally from antique markets and vintage shops, carboots and the like. It’s lovely to sew with and the older colours blend together so well.

Inside, the stockings are all fully lined with a rainbow striped cotton fabric (it started life as a duvet and I think the rainbow stripes look perfect for Christmas stockings)…..

When I set up my stall at fairs I take along a couple of small bears with me to pop in the tops to show what can fit in there, but little “one ear” stays at home, he’s too precious to lose and is a little bit wobbly, his joints are too loose to cope with the constant picking ups and cuddlings which the other  fellows will put up with quite happily (they’re a bit more robust)…..

 

small sized stocking with original blanket stitch edging

I’ve tried to keep these stockings pretty simple in tone, I’ve left off the pompom trimming from other years as I like the bared down look and think it suits a vintage aesthetic a little better….also it’s very hard to find trimming like that nowadays that isn’t new.

Where I’ve been able to I’ve cut the stockings out right on the edge of the blanket, so they get to keep the original blanket stitch edging and I think that makes for a nice little nod to where the fabric come from.

Apart from the ribbon which I wasn’t able to source second hand this year the stockings are all made from re-cycled/vintage fabrics.

apple honey and linseed sourdough loaf

If I’m not careful, sewing can take over everything else right now, if it’s not craft fairs then there are commissions and gifts for friends and family to make…my sewing pile is in serious danger of toppling over and it doesn’t seem to be shrinking…. however, I was determined to catch some quiet time last week  and bake some bread….a slight variation on my usual recipe as I only used a handful of linseed along with some grated apple and oats.  It didn’t last long so I guess it was approved of…even when I know I could walk down the road and buy bread there is something so rewarding in rolling up my sleeves and baking my own, to be honest the actual making doesn’t even take that long, a few minute of mixing ingredients and allowing them the time to rise and do their thing..and it’s only the  kneading that makes a little bit of a mess but mixing everything together and feeling the dough form beneath my fingers helps me totally relax and unwind…you can’t feel stressed or anxious kneading bread dough…instead I feel a wave of calmness envelope me and within seconds I’m quite content.

I’ve also been making more dark and sticky gingerbread…our home smells lovely and spicy right now…I don’t notice it so much when I’m actually here all day but if I have to go out to the post office or into town then I’m very aware of the soft spicy scent when I turn the key in the lock and step indoors.

My last fair for Christmas is this coming Saturday at Clutter City which is held down at Norwich Art’s Centre.  There’s a listing of some of the stalls who’ll be there over at the Clutter City facebook page…if anyone goes who reads my blog if you say the magic word* then you’ll get 10% of any purchase.

oh Bernard what big paws you have

*no prizes for guessing what it is…magic word is “Bernard”…..he’s been my little assistant today which explains why there’s lavender everywhere…I don’t know what he does but within minutes of a bag being opened he’s suddenly covered with it and inevitably it’s soon to be found all over the house.

 

**she was the nun in Black Narcissus who wears that incredible red lipstick and then has a fight with Deborah Kerr and she was also in A matter of Life and Death but she didn’t wear lipstick in that…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

Granny’s Paperweight Crochet Blanket

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Last year I saw the most amazing and beautiful crochet blanket on Flickr.  I was completely smitten and just couldn’t stop thinking about it.  Finally I decided to try and make one for myself.  I found a really helpful tutorial here on how to make the crochet hexagon (it seems to have two names….Granny’s Paperweight or African Flower)  and began making the hexagons at the start of the year.  I pretty much followed the instructions given there but I changed crochet hook sizes in the fourth round from a 4mm to a 3.25, which I then used for the rest of the hexagon and also for joining them together.

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Rather than use acrylic yarn I used tapestry wool.   This was for a couple of reasons, partly because I had a couple of boxes full of vintage tapestry wool that I have been collecting on and off over the years, but also when I tried it out in acrylic I wasn’t so happy with how the colours blended.  I made an acrylic blanket last year and the colours were really bright and colourful but it didn’t look right for this blanket.  And another big positive for using tapestry was the huge colour range.  Even if I had just stuck to one brand name then the range would have been in the hundreds….I think I’ve used over 20 shades of yellow alone.

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These photos were taken in my back garden and the blanket doesn’t look so bright inside, because a lot of the wool I used was “vintage” (actually some was from the forties) the colours seem quite muted indoors….. and it looks like it could have been made years ago.  The blanket isn’t quite finished as I need to make about 2 dozen half hexagons to make the top and bottom of the blanket straight, and I am still trying to work out what to do on the sides as they are curling in and that just annoys me.

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So far I’ve sewn in just over two thirds of the ends.  There are over 400 hexagons, each hexagon has 10 ends to sew in….. so yes, over 4,000 little wooly ends to sew in which is a bit of a chore but it’s quite meditative sewing them.  Once the sides are all sorted out I’m hoping to work round some sort of border in cream or grey.   When I am sewing the ends in, Bernard comes along and plonks himself down on it (I think he has decided it is being made for him).   The blanket is quite heavy,  but it is so lovely and warm.  It’s not very comfortable working on it at the moment, but I’m hoping to return to it in a few weeks when it gets cooler in the evenings.

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Each hexagon is different in colour, sometimes this is just a slight variation in which shades of a colour are used.  There is a yellow hexagon which is my favourite as it makes me think of primroses (one of my favourite flowers).  I’m really pleased with how it is coming along, and I think this pattern is now my new favourite for crochet.

Thank you so much Andamento for the inspiration and thank you so much Heidi Bears for the fantastic tutorial.

eta

I’ve finally worked out a good way to make the half hexagons, just click here or on the grannies paperweight blaket tag in the side bar……I’ve still (as of April 2016) got umpteen hundreds of woolly tails to sew in, but the blanket is usable (just don’t look at the back), and as you can see, the blanket is getting well and truly loved….in  fact, it’s pretty hard to keep him off it x