Finding Sanctuary

One thing leads to another…

Last autumn I decided to participate in Sewchet‘s Secret Stitching Santa – an exchange of gifts between crafty bloggers. I chose, as you will not be surprised, to get involved with the knitting/crochet version. I was allocated a person to send my gifts to and I immediately checked out as many blog posts as I could on Julia’s Creative Year. I had great fun putting together Julia’s parcel and I have continued to follow her blog. In February she wrote a post about a crochet retreat that she had attended called The Crochet Sanctuary and I immediately wanted to go. I checked out their web site and booked a place…

And so, last weekend I set off for my weekend of crochet bliss… and what a lovely weekend it was. My journey was a little more stressful than I would have liked, but the venue is promising from the moment you arrive, with a grand façade and sheep and cattle lined up at the front door:

We were greeted by Lisa and Lynda (creators of the experience) and a glass of bubbly (not standard, but compensation for weekend being in the “wrong” room). After this there was the goody bag containing the first project and introductions conducted with the aid of the Hogwarts’ sorting hat! It turns out that I am in Gryffyndor (I was really hoping for Ravenclaw)

There were happy people, cakes, sweets and hot drinks in abundance and projects aplenty… starting off with Mabel the rabbit and progressing on to hot water bottle covers (with the hot water bottle included in the goody bag), a lavender pillow and an amigurumi workshop with Heather Gibbs of Keep Calm and Crochet On UK, with whom we made Relaxing Ralph (a laid-back amigurumi kitty).

Although I probably wouldn’t have chosen any of the projects if I had been sitting at home, it was inspiring to have a go at some different things and use some different yarns. The atmosphere of the weekend is lovely – an abundance of friendship, laughter, food, drink and yarn. There’s someone on hand to help if you get stuck with your crochet and all the materials and equipment are provided. But perhaps the most valuable thing is time: it’s so rare to be able to dedicate a whole weekend to creativity.

You will know how much I enjoyed it, when I tell you I have booked to go again next year.

ScrapHappy September 2018

You may remember Sophie… which took up quite a bit of my time last year:

I bought new wool to make her, but there was rather a lot left over: perfect for a ScrapHappy project. So, with Mr Snail living away from home during the week (more on that in a future post) and him commenting that the flat he’s renting doesn’t entirely feel like home, I decided that a snuggly sofa blanket was needed. It’s not finished yet, but this is progress so far.

As well as the left-overs from Sophie there are a few balls from my stash. It’s all wool (with the exception of a tiny bit of silk in on blend) and almost all British; any that isn’t is old balls that I have no idea anymore of the origin. I’m planning to work on it until I have used up as much of the wool as possible and then edge it in the cream wool (Cambrian Mountains), of which I have quite a lot left on the cone I bought to make Sophie.

I think it will make Mr Snail’s flat feel a bit more like home and keep him warm on those cold winter nights… if I can just get it finished!

-oOo-

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

ScrapHappy August 2018

For some time now, I have been collecting old t-shirts. I would really like to do something with the designs on them because so many of them are associated with special places and memories. However, that still leaves rather a lot of fabric available for other projects. So, this month I thought I would have a go at making some “yarn”. Helped by Sam and Daisy (the speedy spaniel), I cut up the bottom parts of a few old t-shirts into long strips:

There are lots of instructions for doing this on the internet, so I won’t bore you with the details. None of them, however, cover working around canine friends, but I think I managed to avoid any loss of whiskers or tail hair. I decided to start with something simple: a round rug. The joy of this is that I can just keep working round and round until I run out of t-shirts (or possibly patience). I have learned not to cut the strips too wide as it makes it very hard to work with (the white was a bit too thick for comfort).

As you can see from the latest picture, it’s currently about 14 inches across and that has used up all the yarn that I made from three large t-shirts. As a truly scrappy project, I am just going to make use of all the colours that I have, so it may not be the most aesthetically pleasing creation, but it is becoming a lovely thick mat and should provide good insulation on a cold floor, plus it feels like a very positive use of fabric that would been of little use for anything else (I really have enough dusters and cleaning cloths for now).

-oOo-

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knit, Purl, Save the World

The other day I was browsing the local library and came across this bookIMGP5890so I couldn’t resist taking it out to peruse thoroughly at home. I love the idea of the book:

A sustainable approach to knitting and crochet that benefits the planet AND your creativity

The book takes a pattern-by-pattern approach, using a different “eco-friendly” fibre for each – alpaca, soysilk, locally produced cashmere, camel, bamboo, jute and so on. Some of the pros, cons and eco-credentials of each fibre are discussed and some of the patterns use scrap yarn or yarn made from recycled/repurposed materials. There’s also a two-page spread entitled Community Awareness: Global Efforts to Live, Create, Employ, and Sustain Via Yarn Crafts which describes projects in various countries that use knitting, crochet or fibre production as the basis for community development and economic independence.

But I’m sorry to say that I was a little disappointed with it overall. The organisation means that the patterns rather than the fibres take centre-stage and there is no handy way to browse the types of yarns and compare their characteristics and credentials. I’m rather saddened that the research that the authors clearly did to find out about the yarns they use was not presented in a more accessible and thorough way. Space is dedicated to basic knitting and crochet techniques, which are easy to find in a multitude of books, rather than to the really interesting, unique stuff. I don’t need another book of patterns, but I would have loved a book comprehensively discussing the merits (environmental and otherwise) of different yarns and fibres, so I’m glad I got it out of the library rather than bought it.

Ah well, I guess that I’ll just have to write the book I want myself. I’ll add it to the list.

Knit, Purl, Save the World by Vickie Howell and Adrienne Armstrong, ISBN 0715336347

Foxy Roxy and the rainbows

Not long after we lost Max the friend who was so supportive over that time also lost one of her dogs. Roxy was a Vizla who, like Max, far outlasted her prognosis. Even so, her death was a blow and she will be much missed.

You may remember the beautiful light catcher that Pauline made for me in memory of Max (who looked rather like her dog Siddy) and how touched I was by it. It continues to bring me rainbows and to provide a beautiful reminder of my much-missed pal. I thought, therefore, that it would be lovely to be able to give my friend a Roxy memorial light catcher and so I asked Pauline if she could oblige. I sent her this photo, showing Roxy in her favourite fleecy ‘pyjamas’, and asked if the light catcher could be made in these colours:

roxy copyright

Roxy in her ‘pyjamas’

And what a marvellous creation arrived through the post. The colours look a bit washed out because it’s just so darned sunny here at the moment, but they are really evocative of the original.

So, if you are looking for a special memento, or just a beautiful decoration for your house, do check out Pauline’s creations here.

I’m dubious about the idea of ‘shrines’ to loved ones, but I am very taken with the idea of capturing happy memories, and the light catchers seem to do this perfectly – the rainbows they create capture the ephemeral nature of life and it’s associated beauty. Grief and loss are so very difficult the deal with, and finding ways of moving on from the gaping hole and remembering the good times are really important if we are to lead full lives. Incidentally, I was much inspired by the animated film Coco in addressing ideas surrounding death and loss – I highly recommend, whatever your age (don’t be fooled – it isn’t a typical Disney film and the trailer doesn’t do it justice).

Just a word of warning – if you do commission Pauline to make a memorial light catcher, be prepared for floods of tears from the recipient.

 

ScrapHappy July 2018

One of our regular Knit Nighters has moved away and so we will only be seeing her when she comes up for an occasional visit. Before she left, however, she witnessed the creation of the alpacadillo and she was besotted. I didn’t have time to make her one of her own before she left, so this little chap will have to go in the post:

His head, body, limbs and tail are made from the remains of a ball of wool from Sophie, but I can’t remember what the shell is an oddment from… anyway, it was lurking in a basket of small left-over balls, so I clearly made something out of it at some time (I do know it’s one of the last remaining bits from the sadly missed company Colinette). This critter is 100% wool, so not an alpacadillo, but a scrapadillo, I think. It’s going to live in Swindon.

-oOo-

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sofa stoppage

Long-term readers know how long the project to make a complete set of covers for my sofa has been going on. However, it recently received a boost when I bought more (thicker) wool supplies whilst we were away on holiday and I started making progress once more.

The work-in-progress at the moment is the cover for the seat cushions. I have decided not to make separate covers, but to make a single piece, which will be easier to hold in place and will also prevent the migration of crochet hooks, scissors, knitting needles and biscuits down the cracks (there’s never any spare change heading that way!). So far I’ve managed about half of the top, made from join-as-you-go squares. Here it is… and a ‘mock-up’ of what it will look like when it’s done combined with the existing parts.

It’s quite hard to show the colours… the limestone grey always comes out looking rather washed-out and the subtleties of the other colours don’t really show, but you get the idea. I’m planning to stitch it onto some cotton fabric to ensure that it holds it’s shape through the rigours of being sat upon.

Unfortunately, however, work has ground to a halt. The UK is currently basking in glorious sunshine and it’s far too warm to be underneath a thick woolly creation. I’m focusing on smaller and thinner things instead… including this month’s scrap happy make (just completed). Nevertheless, I’m pleased that this section is at least started. No doubt it will be cold soon enough and a wooly cover whilst I’m working will be not welcome.

Stripes without seams

This year, as well as focusing on some UFOs (like the now completed Bavarian crochet blanket) I am trying out some new techniques with the intention of making several items from start to finish. As someone who does not really enjoy sewing, the idea of knitting in the round and thus avoiding seams is very appealing. That combined with the (new to me) techniques of knitting a garment from the top down has resulted in a most enjoyable project: Poison Oak, knitted with Cambrian Mountains (slate) and Little Grey Sheep (moonlighting) wools. After the knitting was completed, there were just a few ends to work in and then it was done, but in need of blocking, especially around the bottom edge:

IMGP5748

a bit rough around the edges!

So, it has been soaked in Eucalan, gently spun and is now pinned out and drying gently to ensure that it finishes up the right shape, with a nice neat point at the front.

 

This has been a remarkably enjoyable project for me and will certainly not be the last top-down garment that I knit… in fact Breathing Space is already lined up to start, right after I’ve made a bit more progress on the sofa cover (yes, that’s one of the UFOs I’m currently working on).

 

Byebye Bavaria

My plant to complete some of my UFOs* is going well. Finally, after four years, I have finished my Bavarian crochet lap blanket.

It doesn’t look like I originally envisaged, but I think having a border around the Bavarian centre frames it rather beautifully. I’m also rather pleased with the scalloped edging, which just finishes it off nicely.

To celebrate the completion of such a long-term project, I embarked on a tiny project that was completed in a single day. I was asked if I would make a baby bonnet by one of my Knit Night friends:

It needs a ribbon threading through, but I think it turned out quite well and it was lovely to make something so quickly.

Now… time to return to the jumper I was knitting before I got swept up in a frenzy of crochet!

-oOo-

* UnFinished Objects

Reflections on our holiday

One of the most beautiful things I noticed when we were on holiday was the light on the water. Our cottage overlooked, Loch Carron, which was tidal, but very calm. Every morning we looked out of the window to a glorious view of the water. And many of our walks involved views of the loch. Capturing the atmosphere and beauty on camera proved difficult:

However, on our final full day we visited the Lochcarron Gallery and enjoyed seeing the different ways that local artists interpreted the area. One piece of work particularly gabbed our attention, seeming to capture perfectly the shimmering light and peaceful waters. And so Mr Snail bought it for me  and we brought home the wonderful “Dispersing Sea Mists” by Helena Emmans:

The photographs don’t do it justice, but it really does shimmer like the water. It is made using hand dyed threads wrapped around wood. A lovely memento of our holiday.

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