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.

 

ScrapHappy April

This month’s ScrapHappy make is a “no-sew” shopping bag that involved a lot of sewing. I mentioned this creation in my post about craftivism the other day, but it’s finished now and I’m quite pleased with it.

The bag itself is simply an ancient t-shirt that has been cut and knotted, but because my intention was to use it for our craftivism display, I decided to do a little felt applique. I raided my box of felt scraps and cut out the letters I wanted by eye (some from really rather small felt bits), dug out some old embroidery thread and set to. I did the applique before tying the base of the bag so that holding the fabric was easier and allowing me to keep it flat, and here is the finished bag:

If you fancy making a t-shirt bag, they take about 10 minutes to create if you don’t get carried away with the decorations. All you need is an old t-shirt – remember it’s going to have to hold stuff, so if it’s full of holes or nearly worn through it’s probably better to turn it into cleaning cloths.

First lay it out on a flat surface and cut off the sleeves:

Next, cut the neck either into a V (as shown below), or into a U-shape (as I did with the appliqued) one:

Now, make sure it’s completely flat and lay a tape measure across the t-shirt about 10 cm from the bottom (adjust to make the tassels and bag the desired lengths, remembering that your bag will stretch if you use it to carry heavy things):

Cut through both layers of fabric up to the tape measure (taking care not to cut the tape!) to make tassels each about 2cm wide:

Finally, tie the pairs of tassels (one from the front and the corresponding one from the back) together with a firm double knot:

And that’s it – a t-shirt tote bag:

Ideal for yarn storage!

I must credit Joanne Harold for showing me how to make these bags – thanks Jo!

I’ve been inspired to write this (and future) Scrap Happy posts by Kate, who provides links to other (mostly sewing) Scrap Happy bloggers at Tall Tales from Chiconia on the fifteenth of every month… do check them out.

 

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:

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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 a kinder world

All the way through May my friend Danielle is going to have a display on craftivism in her window at The Make It Shop as part of the Chorlton Arts Festival. For the uninitiated, craftivism is:

a way of looking at life where voicing opinions through creativity makes your voice stronger, your compassion deeper & your quest for justice more infinite* (Betsy Greer)

The theme that Danielle has chosen is Crafting a Kinder World.

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Last year’s Chorlton Arts Festival window display: Unleash Your Creative Beast

As well as the display, there will be a craftivism event on 27 May and I will be there to help host it. The plan (so far) is to create a “Kindness Tree”. We’ll spend the day inviting people to craft all sorts of small items to hang on the tree, each with a message of kindness. Subsequently our gifts and messages will be given away to spread the love.

Our last Make It Shop event: 60 Million Trebles Hook-up

I’m currently putting together a few bits and pieces to contribute to the shop window display, but most of my craftivist creations are long gone – having been given away to those in need (either of the object made or the message it embodied). So, I need to make a few more… but you can help me out here if you like. If you would like to send me an item to put in the window – whatever the craft, as long as it represents an aspect of craftivism – then please do. It could be a charity blanket, a twiddlemuff, a motivational embroidery, some bunting with a message, a piece of artwork, or whatever other crafted object fits in with the ethos. The display runs throughout May, so we would need your contributions in the next two weeks. There are two provisos. First, that the nature of the object is kind – craftivism is a gentle form of protest, or political action through positive creation – so any contributions that are displayed need to fit with this. And second is that, when the display is finished, you will allow me or Danielle to donate your object, whatever you send, to an appropriate charity or deserving person rather than send it back to you.

You can keep up to date with what’s happening on the Make-it Shop website here. And you can contact me to arrange making a contribution using the contact form below. And if you are in Manchester on 27 May – call in and say hello, have a cuppa and make something with us.

-oOo-

* Putting aside the fact that something is either infinite or not… I don’t think it’s possible to be ‘more infinite’!

 

Sewing and not

I don’t love sewing in the same way that I love knitting and crochet, but I do find satisfaction in making useful things. And so, over the past few days I have slowly been working on a gardening apron. I am using the same pattern ( the Beatrice pinafore) that I did for my two kitchen aprons, but this version is lined, so the edges didn’t need binding, and I made the pockets deeper because gardening requires much more transportation of random stuff than cooking does! The benefit of making garments from scratch like this is that I know it wasn’t made by workers who are being exploited and I am able to source fabric that is organic/fairtraded. It’s akin to cooking from scratch, it’s just that it requires more concentration! The downside is that I usually always have to unpick something and I am never 100% satisfied with the result. However, it is finished now, and I’m hoping that the dark purple chambray (which is a rather nicer colour than the photos suggest) that I chose for it will hold up to the rigours of the garden and that I won’t be too sad that the lovely bee fabric is mainly hidden away as the lining (although it is reversible if I don’t mind having the pockets inside).

I do, however, wish that I liked sewing enough to make gorgeous quilts and other complex constructions. That said, there aren’t enough hours in the day to do all the yarny things that I want to, so I mainly just look on in awe at the creations of my fabric-oriented fellow crafters. However, I do occasionally get my hands on a beautiful piece of sewing to treasure, and this has just happened.

Over the weekend there was an online auction to support the Sixty Million Trebles project and I was lucky enough to submit the highest bid for the most fabulous handmade work bag.  Barbara, the lady who made it, sent it straight away and so I already have it… and I’m just blown away by her skill. Look:

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the skill!

Not only did it arrive beautifully gift-wrapped, but there was a rustle from inside and I opened it to find a matching ‘mug rug’ and a little pouch of sewing goodies. Internally, and somewhat difficult to photograph, there are all sorts of pockets, including some very narrow ones that will be perfect for hooks and knitting needles.

Oh the joy of owning a wonderful creation like this… I am in awe.

 

A tempting red apple

The Sisterhood of the Travelling Sketchbook is tuning out to be a great project for me to be involved in. Not only has it given me the opportunity, for a brief time, to be the custodian of some beautiful art, it also gave me the excuse this morning of visiting my favourite local yarn shop: Red Apple Yarn in Lampeter.

At this point I must say that whilst I’m a supporter of local yarn shops, they are not all created equal and Red Apple is rather special. First of all, it’s full of gorgeous yarn, much of which is British, and second it’s owned by Jude – an amazingly knowledgeable lady who doesn’t mind at all if you go round the shop stroking the stock (just as long as you don’t drool on it) and will chat about things woolly for as long as you like!

It’s not entirely wool, though… there’s buttons too…

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a grand use for the old post office counter

 

What I went for, however, was something particular, namely some Cambrian Wool, which comes from Welsh Sheep. Part of my contribution to the Sisterhood creation is going to be made from this:

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genuine Welsh wool (on the lower shelf)

 

So, if you are ever in Ceredigion, I highly recommend a trip to Red Apple Yarn, which can be found in the Old Post Office in Lampeter – tell Jude I sent you! In the mean time, you can keep up with Jude’s adventures in knitting on her blog, where you can also find contact details, opening hours and lots more

The Sisterhood…

Some of you will have heard of The Sisterhood of the Travelling Sketchbook and some of you will not… a few of you are part of the sisterhood.

Last year, Anne Lawson decided to start a project to draw creative people together around the world. She made a book and invited fellow bloggers to contribute… all the folks who volunteered were women, and so the sisterhood was born.

This week the book arrived with me – the eleventh contributor on the list. From Australia, it went to the US and recently it has been travelling in Europe:

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the journey of the sketchbook

It contains drawings, paintings, quilting, stitching… words and visuals… love and creativity. It has its own blog and I encourage you to take a look here at the posts from the contributors, where there are beautiful pictures and lovely thoughts. Here is a little taster of some of the contributions to date:

Sadly one of our sisterhood, Viv, passed away before the book reached her, but some of her words have been included in the book.

I’m currently working on my contribution… news will follow.

Not much like spring

Despite the sowing of seeds in the limery, spring has not really arrived here yet and I daren’t sow any seeds outdoors for fear of them drowning! Of course the day when it was gardening weather this week, I was stuck in a training room doing a food safety course and exam. Now I have some free time it’s chilly and raining. I did manage to plant a new rhubarb root earlier, but then the rain started so I’m letting some of my little helpers get on with a bit of weeding and pest management:

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slug-hunting (I hope)

I’ve finished my editing work for the week, so I’m getting on with my first ever crochet sweater:

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work in progress

Sadly, the picture doesn’t do the colour justice… I would describe it as teal with some coloured flecks. The yarn is from New Lanark – a favourite maker for me, although this is the first time I have used their chunky wool. And, as ever, Max is keeping an eye on progress. He’s a bit chilly as he was clipped yesterday, but he does look lovely:

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Max has had a hair-do

The wet weather is forecast for the whole weekend, so it looks like more indoor seed sowing and crochet are on the cards. What are your plans for the weekend?

The currency of memories

A couple of weeks ago, Lisa, over at Arlingwords wrote a post about making some felt sand dollars… replicas of the sea urchin shells that are found in various places round the world. I saw the pictures and they reminded me that about 40 years ago my grandmother gave me a sand dollar necklace. She had bought it on one of her trips to visit my uncle and his family in Cincinnati, although I can’t for the life of me imagine why a place such a long way from the sea would have been the source of this. On reflection, she also gave me a shark’s tooth and I think she told me she’d picked it up on a beach, so they must have visited somewhere coastal. I hadn’t worn, or even seen, the necklace for ages, but the memories came flooding back.

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A fish from Nana Cathy

Back in the present, Lisa was feeling glum, so I offered to make her a cheerful pussy hat. She asked if I could make it any colour other than pink and I said I could. Having shared my sand dollar memory with her, she said she would send me some of her felt creations in return. “How lovely,” I thought, “I’ll make them into a sea mobile with Nana Cathy’s fish and maybe some crochet sea horses using Wild Daffodil’s pattern.” Now, I’m wondering about other things – starfish, seaweed, sea slugs (they can be very colourful)… we will see.

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A diversity hat!

I decided to celebrate diversity in Lisa’s hat and used some fabulous multi-coloured wool that had been dyed in Wales. Parts of it almost look as if it’s on fire, so I hope it helps to brighten dark days and fan the flames of hope. It arrived safely and you can see a picture of Lisa modelling it on her blog here (showing off the ‘ears’ rather nicely); I’m always relieved to see that something I’ve made actually fits! Then, when I arrived home from London, a little squishy parcel was waiting for me, with these inside:

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A few dollars more

Aren’t they lovely? Of course I wanted to photograph them with my necklace… which I then couldn’t find. I thought it was in my wooden jewellery box, but there was no sign of it there. I searched several draws and other likely spots, but had no luck. I was beginning to think that it may have been lost or that I might have given it to one of my nieces, when I finally found it in a little Chinese bowl, full of old ear rings! What a delight to hold it again. I had forgotten about the little ‘doves’ that are found inside a sand dollar and that are on the chain of my necklace. As I held it I also remembered that some people consider that the life of Jesus is represented in the sand dollar (there are some poems explaining the symbolism here), which I seem to recall my grandmother telling me. To me, though, it’s not about anything more than a precious memory of my nan.

So, my sincere thanks to Lisa for reminding me of this treasure and adding to its history with her felt companions.

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My riches

 

 

 

Hearts and flowers… and penguins

After completing my eighth blanket for Sixty Million Trebles, I have decided to spend some time on other creations for a while. However, before I put the whole project to one side, I decided to use up some scraps and make some hearts and flowers to attach to tags aimed at publicising the project:

I’m off on my travels again this week, so will be distributing hearts and roses far and wide. I have a few to finish off before I go, though:

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Roses in the making

I would have finished them this afternoon had it not been for a request to do a quick test of a little pattern for Danielle at The Make-it Shop:

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Penguin pieces

I think I positioned the wings a bit wrong, so it looks more like a purple sparrow than a penguin, but he’s a jolly little chap no matter what:

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Happy penguin

It’s always fun testing out Danielle’s patterns.

Have you made anything frivolous recently?

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