A Circle of Friends

I missed something from my post about the Sisterhood Sketchbook the other day. I mentioned my mandala inspiration, but I failed to explain the one circle in my creation that is made from a single yarn.

This circle, surrounded by the final words of the little bit of text I wrote, was chosen because of the name of the design. In fact, my piece is only the central part of an original design by Priscilla Hewitt called Circle of Friends Square. I’ve used the design before – indeed it appears twice in my Masterpiece* blanket:

For the Sketchbook it seemed appropriate to incorporate this design (unusual in that it requires you to turn it over and crochet in the reverse direction for several of the rounds). The wool that I selected looks, at first glance, like a rather dull pale brown, but look closer and you will see the diversity in there.

Just like people, there is so much more to this element of my Sketchbook contribution than first appears.

-oOo-

* I realise that many of my newer readers were not part of the story of the Masterpiece… I promise that I will write a post telling you all about it very soon.

Painting with yarn

You may recall that I am taking part in a collaborative art project known as The Sisterhood of the Travelling Sketchbook (it has its own blog here). The book arrived with me here in Wales back in March, but I have only just got round to completing my contribution… or actually, as it turned out, contributions.

I knew that I wanted to use mandalas and circles as my theme and I also knew that there was no way that I would be able to draw or sketch anything worthy of inclusion. So, I dug out the finest wool that I had and a 2.25mm crochet hook and set to work painting with yarn. I was rather pleased with my first creation:

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mandala #1

But when I checked, I’d made it too big, so that was rejected. On reflection, I decided that smaller circles might be better, plus that would allow me to incorporate some words. I mounted my crochet by stitching it onto stiff paper, then added some words. And this is what I ended up with…

Encircling the earth: the skill of our hands, the love in our hearts. Brought together by our creativity and kindness, although we are separated by hundreds of miles… …our shared passions bind us together. One sisterhood, representing one world, united in love.

However, being me, I wasn’t able to leave it there. You see, the very fine wool was not British, and I really wanted to contribute something made of local wool. So, using Cambrian Wool, bought from Red Apple Yarn, I made the sketchbook a pouch to protect it on the rest of its journey…

I even made a little pocket inside, so I could include a postcard giving information about the wool:

Now, all that remains is to pack it up and bid the sketchbook a fond farewell as it goes on its way to Yorkshire and The Crafty Creek… its last stop before it returns to Australia.

Gramophone records and fizz

Regular readers will know that one of my aims in 2017 is to go on seven visits to meet up with friends that I normally only interact with via social media. This has been going well so far, with trips to Manchester and Birmingham as well as a couple of more local visits achieved by the end of March. Our holiday to Cornwall, however, provided an opportunity to go and see a dear friend in Devon on our way back home.

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time to talk

I met Karen a few years ago through her blog and we quickly became friends, although we didn’t meet in person until last year when we managed to call in for afternoon tea with her as we were on our way down to Cornwall. This year, however, we wanted to spend a bit more time together, so I arranged for us to stay a night at a bed and breakfast in her village on our return journey and she offered to cook for us. What with one thing and another, Karen hasn’t been blogging for over a year now and although we have emailed and spoken on the phone, there was lots of catching up to do.

 

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May blobs and marshland

We arrived I time for lunch then had coffee in front of a roaring fire (there was a rather chilly wind blowing outside), before a lovely walk, which involved going to see the ‘May Blobs’ (marsh marigolds). We walked and we talked and we sat awhile on a bench looking at a glorious view, and we got to know a bit more about each other in a way that just doesn’t happen until you have some uninterrupted hours face-to-face. In cyberspace we all tend only to share limited information and so it’s lovely to have time to ask questions and share more personal stories and insights. Mr Snail and I went straight from our walk to check into the b&b, get cleaned up and give Karen some time to get organised, returning about an hour and a half later.

 

We had taken fizz to celebrate our get together, and Karen insisted that we gathered around what looked, initially, like a rather uninspiring cabinet for it to be served:

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it didn’t look promising

Upon opening it up, however, we were presented with a magical interior…

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woohoo!

But this wasn’t the end of the wonders. Next came the gramophone and records:

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time to get winding

and some pre-dinner entertainment (excuse my slight wobbles – I blame the fizz):

I didn’t record it, but my favourite record was of Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra playing The Mahogany Hall Stomp, which got us all dancing.

And then we ate and talked some more.

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delicious dinner

 

During the day we laughed and shed a few tears and we became closer friends.

The general consensus in traditional media seems to be that social media is driving isolation and presenting unrealistic images of our lives. This can be the case, but it can also provide a route to new friends and real shared experiences. In the past few years I have made some wonderful friends via this blog and Twitter and Facebook and I have met up with lots of them. My life is richer for all these interactions and my determination to meet up with people has really paid off. Indeed, having managed five meet-ups so far this year and having already arranged three more, I’m happy to say that I’m set to annihilate my target of seven!

Do you have any  experiences of meeting up with friends made through blogging?

Do your thing

Every so often I come across a story that particularly inspires me. This happened during our holiday when we visited the amazing creation of Rowena Cade. Maybe you have heard of her? I hadn’t, although I knew of the thing she made, namely The Minack Theatre. And when I say she made it, I am being literal – with her own hands and initially only the help of her gardener, Billy Rawlings, she built the most incredible theatre. But not just any old theatre – one created within the land, on the Minack Headland in Cornwall, overlooking the sea, nestled between the boulders.

In order to allow a local group to stage an outdoor production of The Tempest in 1932, Rowena and Billy created an amphitheatre on the headland. In the months prior to the performance, they moved granite boulders and shifted soil.  In August 1932 the play was staged, lit by car headlights and with the audience scrambling down the slopes to get to the grassy seating terraces. It was a great success and the start of an amazing project.

To begin with many of the building materials were scavenged. Sand from the beach was carried up the steep path by Rowena herself each evening, ready for making concrete the following day. There’s a story of her collecting some large beams that had been washed ashore – she and Billy carrying them up from the beach. When the customs men came to see if she knew of the timber’s whereabouts, they took one look at her apparently frail frame and assumed that she couldn’t possibly have taken the beams and she didn’t correct them!

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These are some of the steps from the beach!

WW2 interrupted development of the theatre, but when it was over, they were left with a concrete bunker, which served as the box office for many years! Rowena kept working on the theatre until she was in her mid-eighties. She died in 1983, but her vision and legacy live on.

I love the story – I love the fact that Rowena had a vision and had the tenacity to turn that vision into reality. I love that she didn’t simply achieve this by spending money, that she dedicated her time and her energy into creating this amazing place. I love that she worked alongside Billy and subsequent helpers. Admittedly, she did have the benefit of money to allow her the freedom to do this, but much of the labour was her own. What an inspirational woman.

I really hope that we can go and see a performance there in the future – this time we only went to look round.

Start a revolution…

Several people have asked over the past few days about what constitutes craftivism. Basically, it’s any crafted item that gets a message across – whether personal or political. Many people feel more comfortable with gentle ways to encourage change rather than being confrontational, and what better way to get your message across and gain attention than via a unique item rather than a letter? Send a felt bumblebee to your MP to make your point about conserving pollinators and they are certainly more likely to remember it than if you send them an e-mail.

Over the past few days I have been working on a message that is close to my heart. Here is my latest creation, made for our craftivism exhibition:

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Do you have a message you’d like to share with the world? Perhaps you can make your voice heard more effectively than simply shouting.

 

Be part of something crafty

As you know from my post the other day, I am involved in putting together a craftivism display in May and I’d love you to contribute. Our theme is Crafting a Kinder World. Now I know it’s short notice, and I know that many of you live a long way away, but you can still join in. If you’d like to write a message, share a thought, send us an anecdote or provide a picture to include in the display, we’d love you to do so. Danielle has designed the card below for you to put a message onto. Simply copy the picture (or send me a request and I’ll email you the file), insert your message and email us a picture back:

InkedHeart-Hands blank

You can insert words or a picture using a computer program then send us the file, or you can print out the card, write or draw by hand and then scan or photograph it to send back to us. We will then print out your file and include it in the display.

Because I give almost all of my craftivist creations away, I’m busily making some new contributions and digging out the few old ones that I have retained. Here’s one I’m working on at the moment… it started out as a no-sew t-shirt tote bag, but I wanted to include a message, so the absence of sewing quickly went out of the window:

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These bags are really easy to make (a quick internet search will provide plenty of tutorials to choose from) if you don’t decide to include a message!

Contact me using the form below if you’d like to be part of our project. I’d love as many of you to contribute as possible.

Crafting change

It’s been gratifying to see craft taking centre stage in world politics over the past few days… did you see all those amazing hand-crafted hats on Saturday? Knitted, crocheted, sewn, and created from plastic bags (check out Alys’ hat here). Such diversity, such individuality – so common to see if you frequent blogs like this one, but so rare to have highlighted in the mainstream media, where the most common craft stories are ‘did you know that knitting is not just for crones?’ and ‘men invented knitting, so it’s ok for them to do it now’.

Chez snail there are no pink hats – many other colours, but not pink – but the creativity is still being channelled towards social change/craftivism. Despite having treated myself to some lovely new wool on Saturday, my hook has only been employed on scrap yarn, creating more blankets for the 60 Million Trebles project (#onestitchonelife) aimed at helping refugees and highlighting the terrible situation of displaced people.

I completed one blanket over the weekend:

I had intended to move on to making something for myself, but at the moment I feel a strong need to focus on my charitable creations, so I made a start on another blanket using yet more yarn left over from previous projects. I decided to join up the squares as I went along:

But then, I got distracted and started rummaging around and pulling out my sock yarn scraps. These are too fine for the “squares blanket” above, but there are so many of them and the colours are so beautiful that I couldn’t help but start yet another :

I was trying to stick to one blanket at a time, but I’m quite happy to fail at that!

 

New technique, old yarn

I find it very easy to get set in my ways and never more so than when I’m knitting or crocheting. It’s so easy to pick up yarn and needles/hook and embark on a familiar pattern or stitch without really thinking, so I’m always pleased when something comes along that gives me a bit of a shove. One such thing was the Sixty Million Trebles (SMT) project, for which lots of the participants are making ‘corner to corner’ blankets. These blankets are made using a technique I hadn’t encountered before, but I noticed that it was described in my new crochet squares book, so I decided to give it a go. It turns out that it’s very easy and really fun to do, and it looks rather nice when done:

I have been working on projects recently all aimed at using up yarn that I have left over from past work or that has been given to me, but I still have quite a lot of that I want to get through, so I’m planning a corner-to-corner square for SMT using random yarn… I’ll start a ball and carry on with it until it’s done (or I get bored with the colour), then join another and do the same. There will be no planning, no worrying about what goes, just randomness. If nothing else it will result in a warm blanket, and it may even look good too!

 -oOo-

If you can knit or crochet or stitch squares together (or raise funds), SMT is looking for more volunteers, here’s what it’s all about:

The UN at the end of 2015 estimated that there are approximately 60 million refugees Worldwide
Just think about that for a moment. That’s like the population of the UK being without a home
The objective of this group is huge and it’s two fold
We want to create a yarn blanket containing 60 million trebles to represent the 60 million refugees. #onestitchonelife
Then because we have gone that far we want to continue and create the largest yarn blanket the world has ever seen.
To create a yarn blanket with 60 million trebles or equivalent we need around 8,000 36 inch squares, to take it on to become the largest blanket in the world we need around 13,000…
This will be a blanket to represent everyone who cares about the millions who are homeless, stateless and on the move
Running alongside this we are going to be raising funds #onetreble1p. If we raised just 1p for every stitch that would be a massive amount of money.

There’s a Facebook group and an Instagram account and a web site with all the details. This is my little pile of SMT blankets so far:

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Five blankets so far, no yarn bought specially for them

We have a winner

Last time I did a give-away, it was in conjunction with Mr Snail and he insisted that the draw be made by Sam the dog and be filmed (the clip is here if you want to re-live the excitement). This time, however, I was much more restrained. I wrote the names on some re-used paper, placed them in a bowl and got Mr Snail to make the draw over our morning coffee.

So, did you enter? Did you win these cute little decorations?

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are they yours?

… and the winner is… drum roll, please…

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a winner!

Congratulations Emily of Miss Emily’s Home for Full-Grown Nerds! How very appropriate, since it was Emily who introduced me to the idea of ‘Three Things Thursday’ in the first place. Once I have your address one robin, one Christmas pud and a bauble will be winging their way to you in time for… well, Easter probably.

Thanks to everyone who took part, especially for sharing the things that made you smile. Maybe we’ll do this again sometime.

Do things!

So you are depressed about the politicians in your country and their environmental credentials? I’m not just talking about the US now… things aren’t any better in Australia, the UK or much of Europe. Well, in that case take control. YOU can make a difference and here’s how:

Don’t want fracking and all the associated pollution and greenhouse gas emissions? Then make sure your energy supplier doesn’t support this. In the UK the Big 6 all support fracking, but there are plenty of smaller, green suppliers who don’t, so give your business to them.

Worried about greenhouse gas emissions from transportation? Optimise the use of your car – never drive for a single purpose, always try achieve several goals on each journey. And, if you can, walk, cycle or use public transport instead. Buy local – locally produced goods have not been transported long distances, plus you are keeping your money in your community.

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Our milk is produced using wind to power the milking parlour and refrigeration

Concerned that our governments aren’t providing enough support for renewable energy? Support it yourself – switch energy suppliers, buy a solar charger, install solar panels/a wind turbine, investigate community energy projects, buy from companies who use renewables.

Want to see a reduction in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere? Plant a tree (or ten), sow some seeds, get an allotment, dig up your lawn and plant vegetables, share your surplus plants and produce, take some cuttings.

Don’t think that it is expensive to take action – use your money wisely, value the resources you have and make the most of them and never, ever believe anyone who tells you that you can’t make a difference through your actions and choices.

 

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