Supporting small

Over recent months many small businesses have found themselves in a precarious situation – unable to open shops, sell at markets – making it all the more important that we support them now to ensure their future existence. We Snails have done our very best to buy from small traders over the past 10 months and have managed to source the majority of our food that way – luckily in our part of the world there are many, many small food producers and an abundance of independent retailers. In addition, we’ve been able to access direct from some producers via the internet. I know that people who cannot go to the shops have found the big supermarkets to be a lifeline, but those of us who are able to shop locally can play our part in making sure that people in our community who have small businesses continue not only to survive, but to thrive. Plus, many of our local small businesses have gone the extra mile to support the vulnerable in our community – delivering emergency supplies at short notice, for example – something that you simply wouldn’t get from big companies. In addition, many small businesses, despite suffering themselves, have donated to local food banks and other charities supporting the needy.

Aside from shops that sell food, other retailers have found the last year even more of a challenge. Even well-established companies are being affected. I noticed that Baa Ram Ewe, producers of fabulous British wool (including the stuff I made my latest fingerless mittens out of), have had to resort to crowd funding to give their business a chance of surviving (here is the link). Whilst I have been at home, I have tried to make the majority of my on-line purchases of materials for making things from small, independent companies, but I also keep an eye open for very small enterprises who are crowdfunding. And this is how I came across Midwinter Yarns, who were trying to collect enough money to produce a Welsh wool to add to their range. They are based in Scotland, but have Welsh connections and their wool sounded lovely (you can read about it here, although their crowdfunder was successful and closed last summer).

My contribution was sufficient to receive six skeins of their hand-dyed yarn. The wool arrived a few weeks ago and so I needed to find a pattern that would be suitable for the amount of yarn available. Having gone out of my usual comfort zone and chosen a sludgy green colour (the photo on the left below is closest to the actual colour), I wanted to make something appropriate, which I think I found with Southern Pines by Dora Does.

It’s worked top down, all in one piece, so there’s no sewing up at the end. I had a bit of an issue early on in the pattern, but Michelle, the designer. was amazingly helpful, even though it turned out that the problem was me being dim rather than an issue with the pattern itself. It will have long (or at least 3/4) sleeves, and I’ll make the body as long as uses up all the yarn – this is one of the joys of top-down garments. I plan to make a skirt to wear with it out of some grey and white fabric I have with a design called “crop circles” (the fabric was from an independent on-line store, but more on that in a future post). So, a new outfit in hand all from small, businesses – long may they survive.

ScrapHappy January 2021

In mid-December I came across a lovely pattern that I just had to buy a copy of because it looked like a prefect way to use up some scraps. I optimistically thought that I would have it completed for Christmas, but it took much longer than that and so, I give you my New Year ScrapHappy Wreath. All the yarn was left over from other projects and there are some antique mother of pearl buttons nestled in there too. The ring it is constructed around was given to me by my mum years ago and has been sitting unused on a shelf ever since, awaiting inspiration. In fact, I didn’t follow the pattern exactly, and just used the elements that I wanted. Indeed, because I had a shaped ring already, my version is much more three-dimensional than the original, which is mounted on a cardboard ring.

In fact, it didn’t use up a lot of yarn, as each component is small, but it has certainly inspired me… I envisage making some collages and plan to start a box of small crocheted things made from scraps, to put together, perhaps in an old frame, when I have a large enough collection. In fact a rummage around has yielded a few crochet flowers left over from old projects, so I already have the beginnings.

-oOo-

I’ve been inspired to write this (and future) ScrapHappy posts by Kate,  Tall Tales from Chiconia. On the fifteenth of every month lots of folks often publish a ScrapHappy post, do check them out:

Kate (me!)Gun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancyAlysKerryClaireJean,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawnGwen, Connie, Bekki, PaulineSue L,
Sunny and Kjerstin

If you fancy joining, contact Kate and she’ll add you to the list. It would be lovely to see more non-sewing posts, but any use of scraps is welcome.

In a rut

I don’t know about you, but 2020 has been something of a challenge here. Whist I like my home, and being confined within it is not a terrible thing, being obliged to stay there all the time has been difficult. It is incredibly easy to get into a rut and to develop habits that you’d rather not have… over consumption of cake and chocolate, for example. One of the things that I have missed most this year is spontaneity. No one ever calls round unexpectedly for a cuppa; we can’t wake up in the morning, see it’s a lovely day and decide to go and visit my mum; for quite a while we couldn’t even go anywhere in the car to have a different dog walk. So, what to do?

Recently, Mr Snail and I have decided to make the effort to do some different things… and to plan to do different things, even if they are not very exciting. For example, on Wednesday we set off early and went to the fruit and veg merchants in Carmarthen, where we stocked up… now we are in the process of making big batches of soup to go in the freezer. It’s the first time we’ve done this for months and months. We’ve also been down to the beach a couple of times recently with Sam and Daisy. It’s fun for us and they have certainly enjoyed themselves:

Beach time

The other thing that I did earlier on the the autumn was to take out a subscription to “Little Box of Crochet” – which means that once every two months, a project with all the materials arrives on my doorstep. In the past, I’ve felt that I don’t need to be given a project to work on, being quite capable of thinking of things for myself, but sometimes inspiration wanes and maintaining creativity over recent months has sometimes been hard. So, I decided to to let someone else do the thinking for me, and enjoy a parcel every now and again. I met Amanda, creator of Little Box of Crochet, at the first Crochet Sanctuary that I went to a couple of years ago and I know what care she puts into the boxes, so I was certain that I wouldn’t be disappointed. The latest one arrived just yesterday and will challenge me to learn a new skill: Tunisian crochet. It’s not something that I would otherwise have tried, but sometimes it’s good to get the brain cells working and have a go at something new. So far I’ve had three of the boxes and the two previous ones have resulted in a duffle bag (which I’ve shared pictures of previously) and the most lovely pair of fingerless mittens made with wool from Baa Ram Ewe in amazing colours.

I’ve spent no money on going out for the past 10 months, so it’s nice to use some of my savings to support another small business.

So, what have you been doing to amuse/inspire/motivate yourself in 2020?

ScrapHappy December 2020

Thank goodness for ScrapHappy – without it I might never post!

As we continue with our enforced time at home, I realise how many items with potential to use in ScrapHappy projects there are about the place. Currently, in our living room, there is a big heap of yarn left over from past projects and I am trying to make use of at least some of it. The easiest and quickest thing to make is granny squares, so this past month I dug out all the double knitting (ish) wool that really is wool, or at least mostly wool. I seemed to have quite a lot of earthy tones and they came together quite quickly in a rather nice lap blanket. As a bonus, I was able to incorporate a few squares left over from the woolly dog bed I made a while ago. It didn’t reduce the heap as much as I had hoped, but every little helps.

And mention of the dog bed reminds me that I decided it finally needed a new cushion as the old one was not very nice and the stuffing was squashed almost flat. I dug through my fabric scraps and found an old roll end of some furnishing fabric. I knew I’d had it a long time, but I was a bit shocked to discover that it was actually marked with a date… 1985! About time I got round to using this particular scrap:

A cosy cushion for dogs

-oOo-

I’ve been inspired to write this (and future) ScrapHappy posts by Kate,  Tall Tales from Chiconia. On the fifteenth of every month lots of folks often publish a ScrapHappy post, do check them out:

Kate (me!)Gun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancyAlysKerryClaireJean,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawnGwen, Connie, Bekki, PaulineSue L,
Sunny and Kjerstin

If you fancy joining, contact Kate and she’ll add you to the list. It would be lovely to see more non-sewing posts, but any use of scraps is welcome.

Months of yarny makes

Being trapped at home over the past few months has not inspired me to write much, but I have been busy making, so I thought I would share some of what I’ve been up to…

There’s been plenty of crochet and a bit of knitting. I finally got round to completing a coatigan in Jacob wool for my friend Kt. This latter project got held up whilst I awaited the arrival of some beautiful handmade toggles, plus I added some pockets , which the original pattern did not include. It has gone to it’s new home now and seems to be greatly appreciated.

I made a duffle bag – a kit from the lovely Little Box of Crochet, who I’ve taken out a subscription with to provide me with a parcel of cheerfulness and inspiration every two months. Although the pattern didn’t suggest it, I lined the bag, which I think will make it much more useable. It’s rather subtle bleached driftwood colors, so I chose a nice bright green lining to provide a startling contrast. I also made a poinsettia mandala, which uses a surface crochet technique that was new to me and can be used to produce lovely effects., Then there was a tiny Daisy-alike using a pattern from Toft. Finally, there has also been a bit of knitting in the form of a pair of socks which had been hanging around unfinished for months prior to all this staying at home business and which I finally got round to working on because I needed a portable project to take with me when I went on a mission of mercy that required a lot of waiting around.

I’ve also made some more Dorset buttons after my initial trials. First, a peacock brooch and then a variety of sizes to form a necklace. They are fun to make and I think many future projects are likely to incorporate them.

As the winter draws in and we’ll be spending even more time at home, I’m planning a big scrap yarn project plus I have plenty of lovely wool just waiting for inspiration to strike, so I don’t think I shall be short of more yarny creativity for a while yet.

ScrapHappy September 2020

The past month has been very ScrapHappy – I resurrected a cushion cover, the zip of which Sam had decided would make an exciting chew toy. I removed the zip, then didn’t worry about an inner case, but simply stuffed the canvas cover with a combination of Woolcool insulation, tiny bits of left-over fabric and yarn ends that were too small to tie together to make scrappy hats. There’s no point in making any furnishings with zips because of Sam’s predilection for them, so I simply stitched it closed and now we have an extra sofa cushion.

Sam not eating the cushion this time

I came across some red yarn that might be pure cotton or might be cotton and bamboo. It was a bit of a ball and I have no recollection what I used it for originally. Anyway, I used it to add to my ever-growing wash cloth collection. I like making these because I can play with different stitches and it doesn’t really matter how successful the design actually is. As you can see, I only had enough for a small cloth with the last of the yarn, even combined with a final scrap of some of the organic cotton that I’d been using for the same thing earlier in the year.

Three new cloths

My final project was a mend, but using a scrap (as is so often the case). Daisy’s harness is attached to her lead via a metal ring that slides along the “handle”. After two years, the fabric had started to wear, so I rummaged around and found a length of (nylon?) ribbon off a chocolate box and used that as binding. I wrapped it around and stitched it, then wrapped it around and stitched it for a second time, so hopefully it’s strong and secure and won’t need mending for another couple of years. The harness is perfect for an enthusiastic spaniel and they are quite expense to replace, so I’m pleased to have been able to mend it… especially since it was a scrappy mend.

So, that’s three different ScrapHappies for this month. How about you?

-oOo-

I’ve been inspired to write this (and future) ScrapHappy posts by Kate,  Tall Tales from Chiconia. On the fifteenth of every month lots of folks often publish a ScrapHappy post, do check them out:

Kate (me!)Gun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancyAlysKerryClaireJean,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawnGwen, Connie, Bekki, PaulineSue L,
Sunny and Kjerstin

If you fancy joining, contact Kate and she’ll add you to the list. It would be lovely to see more non-sewing posts, but any use of scraps is welcome.

ScrapHappy July 2020

I’ve been waiting a while to be able post this month’s ScrapHappy creation. This particular scrappy chappy was made about two months ago, but he was a present and needed posting. When he was completed we were only going out once a week and trying to avoid unnecessary activities, so he didn’t get mailed straight away. Then, once dispatched, he took several weeks to arrive at his destination because Australia is a long way for someone with such short legs. However, I have received news that he has arrived, so I can share him with a wider audience. So, I echid-you-not, this month’s ScrapHappy is an echidna:

The pale wool was left over from a cardigan, the dark wool from some hedgehogs and the stuffing was some brown wool tops remaining from and ancient, abandoned piece of work.

-oOo-

I’ve been inspired to write this (and future) ScrapHappy posts by Kate,  Tall Tales from Chiconia. On the fifteenth of every month lots of folks often publish a ScrapHappy post, do check them out:

Kate (me!)Gun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancyAlysKerryClaireJean,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawnGwen, Connie, Bekki, PaulineSue L,
Sunny and Kjerstin

If you fancy joining, contact Kate and she’ll add you to the list. It would be lovely to see more non-sewing posts, but any use of scraps is welcome.

What’s in the stash?

Over recent weeks I’ve been enjoying rummaging through my yarn stash and reminding myself of what I have squirreled away. There is some lovely wool, but there are also quite a lot of balls and oddments of stuff that I really have no desire to ever use… quite a bit of which has been passed on to me over the years, rather than stuff I actually bought. So, I’m putting together a box to go off to a charity craft shop (once they are in a position to accept it) and I’m working my way through some of the bits and pieces in a variety of projects like the dinosaurs. The last few days, however, have been all about cotton.

A while back I bought a couple of packs of discontinued organic cotton yarn. The colours were not ones that I would want for a garment, but since the point was to make wash cloths, that really didn’t matter. I also discovered a ball of actual dishcloth cotton, made from recycled fibres. So, in the spirit of play, I’ve been choosing various granny square patterns and crochet stitches and working up squares. On the basis that you can never have too many cleaning cloths in the bathroom and kitchen, I’m just keeping going. So far, no two are the same:

If you crochet and have a favourite pattern for making cloths, do let me know what it is… I’ve got lots of yarn and am always keen to try something different.

ScrapHappy June 2020

It has been rather warm for much of the past month, so I was glad that that I was no longer labouring under last month’s ScrapHappy creation. In fact, after the success of the crochet T-rex (who has, incidentally, been named “Cupcake”) I moved on to another ancient creature. Young Maisie, the recipient of the T-rex, is a big fan of Mary Anning (fossil hunter and palaeontologist born in 1799, who discovered the remains of huge aquatic creatures in the cliffs of the Dorset coast). I thought, therefore, that a pleisiosaur would be greatly appreciated… which it was.

Made using wool oddments, this pattern, like the last dinosaur, is by Kerry Lord:

-oOo-

I’ve been inspired to write this (and future) ScrapHappy posts by Kate,  Tall Tales from Chiconia. On the fifteenth of every month lots of folks often publish a ScrapHappy post, do check them out:

Kate (me!)Gun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancyAlysKerryClaireJean,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawnGwen, Connie, Bekki, PaulineSue L,
Sunny and Kjerstin

If you fancy joining, contact Kate and she’ll add you to the list. It would be lovely to see more non-sewing posts, but any use of scraps is welcome.

Grrrrr!

It’s been rather warm here recently and so I’ve been reluctant to work on large woolly things – like the jumper that I want to complete, that is worked in a single piece, so provides far too much cover on a hot day. I decided, therefore, to use up some left-over balls of yarn for some little projects.

We have a young friend who loves dinosaurs… so I made her a T-rex.

The pattern is by Kerry Lord of Toft.

I don’t think it’s going to be the last dinosaur that I make – they seem to be popular with children and adults alike. I see some ScrapHappy dinos in the future!

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