ScrapHappy January 2023

You may be starting to think that my entire life is taken up with crocheting bollard covers from scrap, but actually I am finding time for a little other scrappy action. Whilst the shop is closed (we don’t reopen until 25 January), I’ve been sorting through boxes of scraps that have been passed on to me by various people and these are going to be used in some of our courses this year.

My own scrappy creations have extended to sashiko and boro. I love the simplicity of the concept – decorative running stitches – and the practicality of the technique – layering and stitching for strength and insulation. For the sashiko, I’ve started off with some templates to get me going on some traditional designs, but am looking forward to exploring other ideas from the various books I have and also doing some free-form stitching. The straight lines of running stitches associated with boro (which is all about repair and using scraps) are a great way to reinforce and mend. Here are some of my practice bits:

As you can see, I’m playing about with pieces of scrap fabric on an old cloth shopping bag that is long past its best. The dark piece in the middle is a scrap from some old jeans (part of which was used in a past scraphappy post in combination with the cover from a discarded body board) and the cream fabric is mill scraps that I bought over 30 years ago!

I started experimenting with embroidery floss and a household sewing needle. I soon found that my needle was too short and too flexible, so I’m now using proper Japanese sashiko needles (and stocking these in the shop). They are very sharp, have a large eye and don’t flex, making it very much easier to get your stitches even (unlike mine in the boro you can see in the middle of the three pieces, which was done using a crewel needle). I’m also now using proper Japanese sashiko thread, which is very strong and smooth and is much easier to draw through the layers of fabric (again, I now stock this in the shop). The plan is that my bag will form a sampler with various traditional and non-traditional designs and, no doubt, demonstrating my improved stitching!


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 folk often publish a ScrapHappy post, do check them out:

Kate,  Gun, Eva,  Sue, Lynda, Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Tracy, Jill, JanMoira, SandraChrisAlys, ClaireJeanJon, DawnJuleGwen, Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue LVera, NanetteAnn, Dawn 2, Carol, Preeti, DebbieroseNĂ³ilin and Viv

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.

Snail’s pace

You may recall that back in April, my dear friend Lizzie sent me some fabric, all packaged up in a parcel tied with string. I dithered for a while about how to use the fabric, but in the end I decided to use a small amount of it to make a wallet (pocketbook). I chose a wallet because it’s an everyday object and so I would get to enjoy the fabric all the time.

I had all the bits I needed for the project, including the metal closure and I set to.. in July. All went well to begin with but then I started having problems with my sewing machine – I just couldn’t get the tension right. I sewed one seam about six times and unpicked it each time. I fiddled with the bobbin and the top tension, I rethreaded the machine, adjusted the feeder dog, applied oil in all the appropriate places, changed the needle and still I couldn’t get it right. In exasperation I put my sewing to one side and and decided that I would have to get the machine serviced.

And then I had some inspiration – I looked at the needles and discovered that the eyes were misaligned. In fact all of the needles in that particular packet were affected. So, I bought some new needles from a trustworthy manufacturer and, hey presto, the tension was fine. However, my enthusiasm was severely affected and I just couldn’t get back to this particular project. And so it remained like this for months:

Last week, however, I pulled myself together and got started again. Of course some of the pieces had become separated from the rest of the project, and it took me an hour or so to locate them. Then I got to a point in the instructions that I didn’t understand. Fortunately, the designer was on hand via the British Bag Makers group on Facebook to sort me out. So, all-in-all, it’s been a bit of a struggle. Nevertheless, I’ve soldiered on and finally completed this (far from perfect) Accordi-Anna Wallet by Lisa Lam (you can find Lisa’s designs on her web site here):

It’s the first of two sewing projects I was determined to finish before I start a scrappy thing I have in mind. Hopefully I will get the second one completed in the next week too. Do you have any stalled projects at the moment?

Slugs and snails and other knitted creatures…

This week is ‘world wide knit in public‘ week, but unfortunately I haven’t had the opportunity to get out there and click my needles for the intrigue of passers-by. The week after next will be different as I have a couple of long train journeys and some socks just waiting to be knitted. As an alternative now I thought that I would show off some of my creations here.

Just visiting this blog introduces you to some of my knitting – there at the top you can see the snails of happiness and doom. They were knitted for a teaching activity involving group story-telling (you’ll have to come on one of my permaculture courses to enjoy the full experience!), but I have been working on a variety of other creatures, so here’s a selection:

A citrus lime tree full of snails

Snails for sale… I’m planning to sell these at the permaculture convergence in Cardiff later in the summer

Daddy, mommy and baby slugs… actually they were prototype snail bodies.

Worms in my basil and bunching onions

Just to prove I’ve been gardening too: a butterfly on the Hungarian wax peppers

I hope you are inspired at least to knit if not to knit in public…

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