Saturday, 4 October 2014

The new arrival

Here's a cheeky chappie I made from lovely Schulte mohair fabric (the one used by Steiff to make their bears) from Mother Goose in Nailsworth. He's the bear we're making at the Teddy Bear workshop beginning next week (Tuesdays from 10 til 1). He's been deliberately 'aged' to match the style of bear - long arms, short legs and a hump! Such a sweet boy - who wouldn't want to make him?

Monday, 15 September 2014

Bear essentials

I am about to do the first bear making workshop with Sandy Young (another bear-maker). It's going to be a three week course run at Mother Goose on the 7th/14th/21st October from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The cost will be £75 per person plus materials and the bears range from contemporary to heritage, plain and jointed depending on your ability. It's suitable for beginners and more experienced sewers alike. Call Mother Goose on 01453 298725 for more information and to book. Workshops will be limited to 6 people so there will be plenty of one to one tuition. You'll also be required to do some 'homework'! Below are Gus the Grizzly, Arthur and Oliver - all traditional jointed bears.

Sea of pom poms

I'm starting to feel a certain numbness in my thumbs (RSI?) due to all the pom pom making that's been going on. I've made roughly 175 so I'm guessing I'm almost a third of the way through making a rug - it has to be packed really tightly to achieve the effect I'm after! Check this website for my inspiration:
Steffi ( ordered me some hessian backing so now I've GOT to finish it. This is an amazing way to use up all those odds and ends of wool I have left after knitting projects or following visits to charity shops where I pick up all sorts of yarns. It doesn't matter if it's wool or acrylic, 4-ply, double or Aran, just use what you've got. To make really firm pom poms overfill the pom pom makers, then tape the ends together with masking tape so they don't 'ping' open when you snip the yarn. Tie them with fine string (it's stronger than yarn and doesn't snap) using a surgeon's knot (add an extra twist when tying the first loop to form a double overhand knot) and leaving the two 'tails' to attach to the backing. I'll report back when I'm further along with the this space!

Monday, 30 June 2014

Felted flowery freaks

Whilst we were preparing to yarn bomb the Nailsworth Festival I started felting a couple of larg(ish) flowers to attach to the railings. Now I'm still something of a felt 'virgin' but I wasn't about to let that put me off. I started making a blue sweet pea and when that went wrong turned it into an iris. It still wasn't working but it WAS starting to resemble a viola. The upshot - a mega distorted pansy. I then decided to try a hibiscus. At least this time the finished piece does resemble a hibiscus flower. Am I put off by? Not likely - it has simply made me more determined than ever to experiment with shapes and colours. If you fancy having a go, Sophie Buckley does needle felting workshops at Mother Goose in Nailsworth  (01453 298725) and at Prema in Dursley (01453 860703).

Classy glass

The reason I haven't blogged recently is that I've been busy with numerous classes and workshops. Thought I'd share this one with you. A group of friends decided it would be fun to have a go at Stained Glass and, as we were coming together from all directions, Bristol proved to be the central point. So we booked a one day beginners course at Stoke Lodge Adult Learning Centre. For just £36 plus materials (approx £9) we each of us managed to complete our very own butterfly or dragonfly. It was VERY full on. We learnt design preparation, glass cutting, grinding, copper foiling, soldering and finishing. We all finished up with injuries (entirely self-inflicted!), but ultimately we were incredibly proud of our finished pieces knowing that we'd made them entirely by ourselves. In September Caroline Lambert is running a 10 week course at the Subscription Rooms (01453 760900) for £75 plus materials and there's also a Summer School at SGS Stroud running for 5 days from 14-19 July with Ruth Adams at a cost of £299 including materials - I guarantee you won't be disappointed!

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Tracing the Blueprint

After a visit to the wonderful Museum in the Park ( to see their exhibition, Tracing the Blueprint, I bought a lovely pack of assorted indigo squares in the Museum shop. This exhibition is only on til the 30th of March - and is definitely worth a visit.

This in turn reminded me of my unfinished sewing roll that's been in the works for months. I already had the blue check fabric and the felt was from Yards Ahead ( I wanted to accommodate the boxes and envelopes of sewing notions that I'd designed for the Amberley Village Store.  I'd already finished a rough hand sewn roll and Judy at the Stroud School of Sewing ( very kindly spent time trying to teach me the intricacies of the sewing machine...bless....she needed the patience of Job, and it all worked rather well, although I'm not sure I'll be using the sewing machine again any time soon.

Bombs Away!

Just started to get ready to 'yarn bomb' the Nailsworth Festival in May (17th-24th). For those not in the know, yarn bombing is a form of urban guerilla knitting or graffiti that employs colourful displays of yarn in all its varied forms - knitted, crochetted or, in my case, pom-pommed. We want to make all sorts of flowery shapes for the festival and down at Mother Goose (01453 298725) there are loads of additional workshops (as well as the regular ones) to help with the project. These are my attempts at yarn alliums using Steffi's pom-pom makers - not bad for a first attempt. They even sway in the wind!

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Snug as a bug!

Here's my attempt at a 'Giganto' blanket. I have seen these beautiful throws for sale on Etsy (along with gorgeous yarns - see Loopy Mango - but very expensive) and decided to experiment for myself.

I bought 3kg merino wool roving from Mother Goose and separated it into two strands, twisting the wool gently as I wound it into balls to try and make it stronger. I cast on 32 stitches on a pair of 27mm needles (from Rachel John of Extreme Knitting fame). Steffi Stern at Mother Goose also makes her own extremely lightweight giant needles which are lovely to use.

I then knitted a rib pattern (2 plain, 2 purl) for the length I wanted. Whenever I needed to join the wool I used invisible knots (thank you Kate at Mother Goose knit and natter) which seemed to work well but I'm told felting ends together is better. The whole project probably took no more than a week-end to make in total.

Of course I know this will shed and pill. I expect to use a lint roller after snuggling up underneath it so generally I simply use it as a throw over the bed to minimise fluff! It measures approx. 3.5ft wide by just over 6ft long and I LOVE it!

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Fruit of the loom!

It certainly feels like spring really has arrived...I spent the morning in the garden playing on a peg loom from Mother Goose. I had just found a bagful of wools (some carpet grade) in Emmaus and decided to make a bolster or rug ... can't decide which yet. I'd never used a loom like this before but Steffi's instructions were easy to follow and it just took a little bravery the first time I removed the pegs and pushed down the work. After that it was easy-peasy. For ease and speed of weaving I've used a 'Heath Robinson' contraption made from a plastic bic biro case!
  These looms are made by local people at the Nailsworth Community Workshop (Tel 07971 737626)You can achieve amazing results on them using both familiar and unusual materials such as yarns, unspun fleece, rags, even strips of old T shirts and plastic bags - great for recycling. Children and people with learning difficulties find them simple to use and very therapeutic - as did I!
  If you want to weave with finer yarn Cornhill Pets and Country Crafts in Stroud have some double peg looms with both wooden and thin plastic pegs which are spaced much closer together.

By the way, Julie Wickham from the Stroud Valleys Project (Tel 01453 753358) is looking for crafty people to make goods to be sold not-for-profit for their charity. If you have any ideas for knitted, crochetted, knotted, embroidered, appliqued or woven handicrafts do let her know. Come on folks - support your local community and get weaving!

Monday, 27 January 2014

Let's build an igloo!

Stroud Valleys Project have arranged a training session in how to make a living willow sculpture for Wednesday February 19th (the Wednesday of half term). Norah Kennedy, willow weaver extraordinaire, will be providing the training and the lovely people at JPR Environmental will be supplying the living willow structure - an igloo (a dome with a tunnel) suitable for children up to the age of 8. If you would like to come on it, contact Julie Wickham at

As it is half term you are welcome to bring children along with you, as long as you are responsible for them and ensure they are well behaved and don’t stop others on the course from learning.
The course costs £20 (£17 for Friends) and runs from 10-1 and will help to raise valuable funds for the Stroud Valleys Project charity. All participants will receive an instruction sheet on how to make this sculpture, along with advice on where to source living willow locally.
There are 12 spaces on this course so if you are interested book now!