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?

ScrapHappy February

This month’s ScrapHappy make is another blanket for Sixty Million Trebles.

All the yarn, except that in the border, was left over from knitting socks. This means that this entire project was worked in scrap 4-ply yarn… so it took a lot of hours and amounts to 19,812 crochet stitches (i.e. “trebles”). I wanted to frame the square nicely, so I used some wool out of my stash that was unwanted.

Originally this yarn was destined for my beekeeper’s quilt, but I got bored with that, so I’m going to convert the completed hexagons into a “beekeepers garden bench cushion” and pretty much all the rest of the scrap yarn collection went into this blanket.

This is the third of my charity blankets for this year.

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.

 

Hooking up

Knitting and crochet are often considered rather solitary pastimes – we sit at home with our hooks and needles, creating lovely things… alone. With the recent popularity of ‘knit and natter’-type groups, things have become somewhat more sociable. Public crafting, however, is still relatively rare, so it was a delight to have the chance to spend Saturday at The Make-it Shop in Manchester crocheting and publicising the 60 Million Trebles project.

I made a weekend of it so that I could be there for the whole day and help my friend Danielle to host the event. The shop is a collection point for blankets for the project, so Saturday provided an opportunity for people to drop off completed work, plus we worked on our wips* and squares for a group blanket during the day.

We set up in the morning and wondered whether many people would come… and to begin with there were just a few of us and I managed to sit down…

the early birds

the early birds

… and then more people started arriving and bringing blankets and we realised that we were going to disappear under blankets and that we didn’t have enough chairs! These two problems were quickly solved by stuffing my car full of the completed blankets and borrowing extra chairs from the café next door! Plus, I mostly stopped sitting down…

What a lovely day it was. I got to meet up with friends old and new and by the end of the day 30 people had participated, we’d made a whole pile of blue and white squares for our communal creation and collected in 45 complete blankets:

All this amazing creative work is being undertaken by kind people from all over the world who are covering all the costs and simultaneously raising money for various charities. Every blanket will be donated to a charity and we may even break a world record!

If you’d like to join in, you can donate money via this Just Giving page or you can donate yarn or squares or make whole blankets… check out this Facebook group or this web page  or @Sixtymilliontre on Twitter to make contact.

-oOo-

* wip = work in progress

A little vaarkery

The world has been feeling rather bleak recently, so today I decided to do something frivolous.

Arnoldo has been feeling rather down-in-the-nose recently:

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oh no

So, this morning he had surgery, including temporary storage of his inners in a jug (eek!)

I’m delighted to say that insertion of some garden wire has perked him right up and he’s already been showing off his newly prehensile nose to his friends:

There is so much fun to be had with an old sock, some rice and a few random craft supplies.

If you want to make your own vaark, like Arnoldo, the pattern is in a book by my friend Danielle, which you can buy and download here.

 

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!

 

Scrap Happy January

This year I plan to make at least one item every month out of oddments/scraps. My first of the year was actually started (and blogged about) in 2016, but I finally finished it last night.

All the yarn, except that used to edge the squares and make the border, was from my pile of left-overs. I did buy some New Lanark British wool for the borders because I simply didn’t have enough of any one yarn available and I wanted some consistency, what with the squares (and rectangles) being so random.

I had fun trying out some new patterns and relaxing with some old ones, plus I was able to incorporate a few squares that I had left over from past projects (including two that had been given to me by my friend Ann). The colours were, of course, dictated by what was in my bag and were not always what I would have chosen, but it’s bright and cheerful, not to mention lovely and warm.

This is the first of my charity blankets for this year and it’s going to Knit for Peace, who will find it a good home . It’s completely the wrong dimensions for Sixty Million Trebles , so a blanket for them will be my next scrappy charity project, which actually I’ve already started:

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just beginning

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.

 

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

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