Author Archives: Bridget

A Bee Tree

There is a wonderful Pass It On Skills group where I live.  They organise all sorts of free sessions for local folk from short story writing to beginner’s Spanish – I really must get along to Cake Club soon!  For Knit In Public day (June 8th), they’ve organised a session at a local park and we’re going to knit bees to hang on a tree to promote the plight of these amazing creatures.

I thought I’d better get some practice in, so set about making some bees as well as some colourful butterflies to keep them company.  There are lots of free patterns on line, but the best bee pattern I could find was by the wonderful Attic 24.  The French knots used for the eyes were quite tricky because of the size of the bees, and tiny beads would work well if you have any.

As for the butterflies, they were a joy to crochet too.  I made 2 using acrylic double knitting yarn, and 2 using cotton (they’re the slightly smaller ones in the photos).  You can find the pattern, by Re-Made by Sam here.

 

They crochet up in just 3 rounds then you fold them over and tie a row of chain stitches to hold them together.

 

 

Once I’d crocheted my bees and butterflies, I needed somewhere for them to live.

I remembered I have my advent poetry tree in the garage and thought that would be ideal. (In case you’re wondering what an advent poetry tree i, every day during advent my lovely husband writes me a little poem and pins it to the tree which is just a few twigs bound together with twine).

 

In order to hang them, I sewed a loop of ribbon onto the back of them.  It was then just a case of showing them their new home!

 

 

 

For Hands That Do Dishes

I’ve seen so many posts recently about cotton dishcloths that I thought it was about time I made some myself!

There are dozens of patterns available, but basically you’re looking for a simple square.  I thought I’d try 2 crocheted and 2 knitted dishcloths and the plan is to see which is the most efficient.

As far as the crocheted cloths went, I made the first one using the corner to corner pattern and the second was rows of half treble stitches with some different coloured stripes thrown in for added interest!  Just use the hook size recommended for your yarn, and make the cloths as big or small as you like.

Once the squares were finished I put a border around them both to finish them off.  On the half treble square I went all the way around the edges working a double crochet in each stitch (3 in each of the corner stitches).  This is easy on the top and bottom of the square where you have individual stitches to work into, but the right and left sides are slightly trickier because here you’re working into the end of the rows.  Basically you’re just looking to space your stitches out evenly so don’t worry too much about being really precise.

With the corner to corner square I worked a 2 round border.  For the first round, I joined my yarn in one of the chain spaces produced in between each of the treble clusters.  I then worked 2 chain stitches followed by a slip stitch into the next chain space and continued this all the way around the square.  For the second round I worked one double crochet, one half treble and one double crochet into each of the chain links formed on the first round.

 

For the knitted dishcloths I followed free patterns I found on-line.  You can find them here and here.  They were both really enjoyable to knit and worked up nice and quickly.

 

Now all that remains is to give them all a try and see which one works best!

Paper Bag Noticeboard

My latest project used up some of my ribbon stash and an old copy of Booktime.

These paper bags are so easy to make and are a great way of using up old magazines.  If you have any old gift bags you can take one apart and use it as a template, or simply follow the method below which I discovered here.

 

Take your piece of paper (any size) and fold over a small ‘hem’ along one of the long edges.  This will be the top of your bag (this stage is optional really, but it reinforces the top of the bag where you’re going to punch holes).

Next you mark the centre of your paper and fold the right side and then the left side into the middle so they meet exactly.  Tape the edges.

With the back of the bag facing you fold over the bottom of the bag (as much or as little as you like) then open out each of the sides as in the photo above.

 

Next you fold the bottom half of the base up to the middle and then do the same with the top half.  Tape the join.

 

 

All that’s left to do now is to punch holes at the top and thread your ribbon through.

Thread your ribbon so the two ends are at the front.  You can either glue them together and glue your bow on to cover the join, or do what I did and sew them.  It’s really quick and is nice and secure.

 

Make as many of these bags as you likes, all different sizes

 

 

 

You can use the bags as gift bags for presents, or you can pin them to a notice board and use them to keep your receipts, tickets, bits and pieces etc in.

You could make the bags stronger by putting reinforcement rings around the holes, and popping a piece of cardboard cut to size inside the bag so it sits snuggly on the base.

 

 

 

 

 

A Bag – for Buttons!

A few years back I remember picking up a plain calico bag that was in the sale at Hobbycraft.  They usually have bins with sale items near the tills and I succumbed!  It’s been in its packet at the bottom of my basket ever since though as I couldn’t decide what to do with it.

Well, last week I decided to have a go at making some rhubarb and date chutney as we have rhubarb in the garden that needed using up.  (The recipe didn’t say how many jars it would make and I ended up with 8 altogether which is about 6 more than I was expecting – fingers crossed it tastes good!)  Anyway, I knew that I’d be using quite a few red onions, and I also remembered from my afternoon with the lovely Annie on Skye last year, that you can use onion skins for dyeing wool and fabric.  So, with that in mind I made sure I kept all my onion skins to one side after my chutney making marathon.

I found some really helpful instructions on line, followed them to the letter, and was really pleased with the results.  It’s a very simple process and I’m keen to experiment with other natural dyes too now.

Basically, you pop your skins into a large cooking pot (stainless steel or enamel but NOT aluminium), cover them with water, bring to the boil and let them simmer for about an hour.

 

 

 

While the skins are working their magic, pop your bag in the sink in some hot water to soak.

 

 

Once the hour is up, remove the onion skins, take your bag out of the sink and squeeze as much of the water out of it as possible before placing it carefully into the dyebath.

 

 

Use a wooden spoon to make sure all of the bag is submerged in the dye.

 

 

Heat the dye gently for about an hour again and keep moving the bag to ensure all of the fabric gets covered.  After an hour turn off the heat and let the fabric cool.  Once cool you can remove the fabric, but you can also leave it for longer (and even overnight) if you’d like to achieve a slightly darker colour.

 

When you do take your bag out of the dye you’ll need to rinse it in cold water until the water runs clear.  You can then hang it out to dry or pop it over the radiator.

 

I was actually rather pleased with the final colour of the bag (which is closer to the photo above than those below), but still wanted to jazz it up a bit.  In the end I decided to sew on some buttons (I’m sure my button tin is magic – no matter how many I use the tin always seems to be full!)  I selected lots of small buttons and set to work.

I wrote my slogan – Bee Kind – on some translucent baking parchment so that I could position it on the bag to see what it would look like.  I then wrote the words directly onto the bag using a washable pen.  These are great dressmaking tools – you can write on fabric but the writing will disappear as soon as you wash it – very handy indeed!

It was then simply a matter of picking out buttons at random and sewing them on to form the letters.  This took quite a bit of time, and was a little fiddly as I had to keep making sure the bag handles didn’t get in the way, so I did it whilst watching a few episodes of A House Through Time which I can highly recommend!

I’ll definitely be experimenting with more natural dyes and might try a t-shirt next maybe.  In the meantime, I have a lovely colourful bag to add to my collection!

 

 

Mini Noticeboard

I’m definitely one of those people who keep things in ‘safe places’.  You know the places I mean?  They seem a really good idea at the time, but when it comes to actually finding the receipt or piece of paper you need, somehow you can’t quite remember where you put them!

 

What could be better then than a little mini noticeboard so I can clip receipts etc in full view.  I had a few of these mdf mini boards left over from a workshop a few years ago, so thought I’d have a go at decorating one.

 

I had a root around my paper and card stash and found a lovely piece of thin card with a pattern and wording I really liked.

I placed the board onto a piece of baking paper and drew around it, making sure I marked where the holes were too.  I was then able to draw the exact shape I wanted onto the baking paper and cut it out.  Because the baking paper is translucent, it’s easy to place it over the card and position it so that you get it exactly where you want it before drawing around the edges and cutting out the card.

 

I used double sided sticky tape on the back of the card to attach it to the board.

 

 

I thought a couple of buttons might be a nice addition, so had a little play around with various colours and shapes before deciding on two yellow flower buttons (which I attached with small pieces of double sided tape).

 

I then used a gold gel pen to work my way around the edges of the card to give it a bit of definition.

 

 

 

Next it was time to add the two little pegs.  They came in a mini jar and I thought about leaving them as they were (plain wood) but then had a go colouring them in using the gold gel pen.

 

 

I used double sided tape again to attach the pegs to the board, making sure I spaced them evenly apart and the board was almost finished.

 

I was tempted to use some twine to hang the board but settled for a nice piece of yellow ribbon from my stash in the end.  It was just a case of threading it through the holes and knotting it at the back and hey presto, one mini noticeboard!

 

Wedding Drawers

I still have a few bits and pieces left over from my wedding last June, including these gorgeous serviettes.  Like lots of other things, they’ve been living in a basket until I could decide what to do with them.

Well, last week it came to me!

 

 

Now that I’m finally managing to reduce my stash, I’ve been moving things around in my craft room and realised that I could do with some drawers under my desk (an old kitchen table).  We’d recently visited Orange Box North East, a furniture collection and redistribution community interest company where I found a small set of drawers that would go perfectly in the space, and they only cost me £8.  I wanted to use the serviettes to decorate them.

 

Once I got the drawers home, I gave them a good wipe down, but other than that there was no preparation needed.

I gathered together my serviettes, pva/water glue and brush.   Now most decent quality serviettes are 3-ply, ie they’re made up of 3 layers, with only the outer layer being decorated.  When using serviettes for decoupage, you only need the top layer which is really thin.  I found that the bottom layer came away quite easily, but it was slightly trickier to remove the middle plain white layer which seemed to be attached to the patterned outer layer.  In the end I realised that if I ripped these two layers together, then the bottom one would come away slightly allowing me to lift it up and gently pull it away leaving me with the patterned outer layer that I wanted.  I worked my way through the pile until I’d separated all of the layers, and put the white bits to one side as I’m sure there must be something I can do with them (but I’m not quite sure what just yet!)

Next I divided up the patterned layers and worked out how many I could afford to use on each section of the drawers.  I didn’t want to find I’d only got a few left, but still had quite a bit to cover.  I had more of the pink ones than the yellow ones, so decided to just use pink for the drawers themselves, but to use a mixture of pink and yellow for the main shell of the drawers.

Once I knew how many I had to work with, I ripped the serviettes up roughly and mixed in the two designs so that I could just pick them up at random as I worked.  The principle is really simple.  Making sure you don’t use too much glue so that the paper becomes soggy and rips, glue your first piece of paper onto your surface and use your brush to carefully brush it flat and remove any air bubbles and as many of the wrinkles as you can.

 

Continue adding a piece at a time, overlapping them carefully as you go.

There are lots of tutorials showing how to decoupage without wrinkles in your work, but to be honest it’s quite fiddly to do (especially with thin serviettes).  Personally I like the wrinkled look, but if you want yours perfectly flat then I recommend you start with a smaller project and be prepared to take it nice and slow until you perfect the technique.

With practice you’ll realise how much glue to spread on the surface and how much to put on the top of your paper.  You’re aiming for enough so that the piece sticks, but not too much that it rips or moves about which can be really frustrating.  You’ll soon get the hang of it!

Continue working your way over all of the surfaces, remembering to cover all of the bits that will be on view when the drawers are pulled open too.

A larger item like these drawers will take a few days to do, but it’s really therapeutic and thoroughly enjoyable.  Just make sure you take your time, and keep looking over each of the surfaces to make sure you haven’t missed a bit!  Once everywhere is covered, go over the whole thing again with your pva glue to give it a good finish.

Now I’ve got no excuse not to sort out all my paperwork!!

 

Tie A Yellow Ribbon

Since I started my 52 project I’ve used up a few bits and pieces from my ribbon stash, but I’m still left with a big box of oddments that I’ve collected over the years.  It was time that some of them found a new home!

I decided to have a little search on Pinterest for ribbon crafts (not recommended unless you want to come away with ideas for ten other projects that you’re desperate to start too!) and saw a rather lovely ribbon wreath.  As luck would have it I had 2 polystyrene wreaths in my stash and I chose the larger of the two for this project.

 

 

I sorted through all my ribbon and chose a selection of colours that I thought went nicely together.  I then ironed them all and laid them out on the table next to the wreath and my glue gun.

 

 

The idea is nice and simple.  Take your first length of ribbon and glue one end to the back of the wreath.  You then wrap the ribbon around and around making sure you pull it tight and that it overlaps the previous strip of ribbon to ensure there are no gaps at all.

So long as you pull the ribbon nice and tight you’ll only need to glue the beginning and end of each piece of ribbon.  Work your way around the wreath making sure to overlap the ribbon as you go.

Once my wreath was complete I was really chuffed with the colours, but felt that it lacked something to finish it off.

I thought about using it as a picture frame perhaps, but reckoned that the wreath itself was too colourful and would detract from any photo I put behind it.

 

In the end I decided to crochet some flowers and leaves from cotton yarn and glued those on one side.  You don’t even have to sew in the ends if you’re going to glue them, you can just tie them together and snip them !  If you’d like to have a go yourself, there are lots of suitable free patterns on the Attic24 site.

 

 

And there you have it!

I’m about to start sorting out the garden shed, so I can turn it into a mini workspace, and think that might be the ideal place for this new addition to my ever growing wreath collection!

 

 

Let There Be Light!

Well this has to be possibly my quickest project to date!

 

A little while ago we’d been looking to replace the very old lampshade at the top of the stairs (by ‘very old’ I  mean that it wouldn’t have been out of place in the Beamish museum!) However, I really struggled to find anything I liked that didn’t cost a fortune.  In the end I settled for a plain cream shade that was just £4 from Wilko.  Every time I went upstairs I wondered what I could do to liven it up a little, and then remembered a lampshade I’d seen at the lovely Vintage Powder Room and Tea Shop in Whitley Bay – isn’t it gorgeous?!

 

 

Now that I had a plan, I took down the shade and spread out some of my button stash on the kitchen table to see what I could make use of.  Then I plugged in my trusty glue gun!

 

 

 

Whilst I love the totally random, ‘full on’ look of the Vintage Powder Room’s shade, I decided to go for something a little more subtle and opted to decorate the bottom of the shade only.  I measured the circumference so that I could work out how far apart to space my buttons (and check that I’d have enough of the design I chose too).

To help me space the buttons out, I made use of my sewing gauge which was ideal for the job.  The glue gun took no time at all to heat up and then it was simply a case of sticking the buttons on, one at a time, trying not to burn myself with the hot glue!  I decided to space some lovely wooden floral heart buttons out first, and once they were all in place I went back round again adding in some plain wooden hearts.

I may yet take it down again and add a few more buttons, but for now I’m really pleased! 🙂

Granny B’s Granny Purse

I have to admit to loving small purses for change and other bits and pieces, so after my clasp purse I thought I’d have a go at crocheting a granny square purse.  I always show folk on my workshops all the different things that you can do the humble granny square, and these little purses have to be one of the easiest.

To begin with, you need a granny square!!  The size of the square will depend on what size you want your finished purse to be and the number of rounds you have to crochet will also depend on the thickness of yarn that you’re using.  I still have an enormous stash of double knitting yarn, so decided to use that for my purse.

 

My top tip for working the first round of any granny square is to pop a hair grip into the circle you make when you join your 4 chain stitches together.  This is where you’ll be working all the trebles and it can sometimes be really hard to spot.  If you pop a hair grip in then you’ll always be sure of exactly where your hook needs to go.

Keep going until your square is the right size and don’t worry if the edges don’t look straight or the corners don’t look particularly pronounced.  All you need to do is block your granny square.  To do this, lay your square flat on the ironing board (or on one of those rubber children’s mats which are ideal) and pin it into shape.  Now just simply give it a steam with the iron, leave it to dry, and it will look beautifully crisp and square like!

The next step is to cut out your lining.  I laid my granny square on to my chosen fabric and cut it out leaving a good 1.5cm allowance all the way round.  I then ironed the seam allowance towards the wrong side of the lining fabric, and laid it onto the granny square so that the wrong sides were facing.  I popped a short piece of ribbon in under the lining at one of the corners, then carefully hand sewed the lining to the back of the granny square, making sure to secure in the ribbon.

Once the lining is secure you can fold in the bottom right and bottom left corner to the centre of the square and sew up the two edges.

All that’s left to do is to sew on a button and that’s your purse complete!

I just have to decide what to use it for now.   Maybe somewhere to store all my stitch markers perhaps?

Going Round in Circles

Over the past few months I’ve certainly made inroads into my yarn stash, but there’s still an awful lot left!  I got rid of quite a bit of the chunkier yarn when I used my peg loom to weave a couple of car mats, so I thought I’d have a go at a different type of weaving using an embroidery hoop this time.

To prepare your embroidery hoop for weaving, you take off the outer ring and leave to one side.  You then attach your warp thread (I used some DK yarn) to the top of the hoop and bring it down and under the rim directly opposite before bringing it back round to the front and up and under the top in a figure of eight pattern.  Each time you bring your warp thread back up to the top you need to move it roughly 2cm away from the last thread to produce evenly spaced ‘spokes’.  You can find a really useful video tutorial on how to do this here.

It’s important to make sure that you end up with an odd number of spokes on your hoop, or else your weaving won’t work.  Once you’re satisfied with the warp thread it’s time to put the outer ring of the hoop back on and tighten it to ensure your warp stays securely in place.

 

Now the fun starts!

The most effective weaving is made up using yarns of different thickness (although this really is personal preference).  I started out with DK weight which I’d threaded onto a darning needle.  Leaving a tail end of about 6cm, pass the yarn over and under the spokes and keep going for as many rounds as you like.  Make sure that  you end in roughly the same place as you started and you can tie the start and finish finish tail ends together on the back of your work to secure it.

Continue weaving making sure you maintain the pattern of over one spoke then under the next, and varying the yarn you use along the way.  As well as yarn you could try ribbon, shredded plastic bags, string, strips of old clothes etc.  I have quite a lot of wool tops from my spinning, so I popped some of that in too which gave a lovely texture to the finished item.  It wasn’t possible to thread the tops through a needle, but it was very easy to simple thread it over and under with my fingers.

Remember to keep pushing your work towards the centre of the hoop as you go to ensure you don’t have any holes in the middle, but it’s simply a case of keeping going until your hoop is full!

This was a really enjoyable project to make and I think next time I’ll experiment by adding some charms to the weaving too.  I love the fact that it has a ready made frame and is all ready to simply hang on the wall once you’re finished weaving 🙂