A Dorset adventure

Actually, despite travel restrictions being eased, I am staying firmly at home, with any visits restricted to friends in the area. So, what have I been doing in Dorset? Well, nothing, actually, but I have made some of their buttons…

Dorset buttons are something that I’ve wanted to have a go at making for ages, so when I saw kits for sale I thought that would provide me with an ideal introduction. Making these buttons dates back to the early 1600s, and at its height their production constituted a cottage industry in Dorset, employing over 4000 people. When the technology was developed to make buttons by machine, the Dorset button industry was destroyed and the skill all but disappeared. However, it was not entirely lost.

Dorset buttons are made by weaving/stitching yarn onto ring. You begin by blanket-stitching around a metal ring, then make “spokes” across it before weaving your yarn in a spiral around these spokes. By back-stitching and stretching the yarn across more than one spoke, it’s possible to create all sorts of different patterns, like these :

These are my first attempts, and I’m rather pleased with how they came out. Never again will I be disappointed because I can’t find buttons to match an item I’ve knitted or crocheted.

The company I got my kit from is called Beaker Button. They make lovely kits including hand-dyed yarn, all packaged in reusable bags and with no plastic. IMGP8317

Mend It Monday #13

As my friend Sarah says “If it’s not worth mending, it’s not worth buying” …

Yet again, this week’s mending started with some sock darning. Unusually for me this repair turned out to be very subtle…it was just the first yarn that came to hand, rather than a deliberate attempt at invisible mending.

 

Then I moved on to a garment that has needed mending for years. A long time ago, Sam chewed the press-stud off this cardigan. I intended to mend it straight away, but somehow it got put with my yarn stash and only came to light a few weeks ago when we were moving the piano (don’t ask). When I looked at it with fresh eyes, it was clear that Sam had simply made a new buttonhole and all I needed to do was make it a bit more robust, remove the remaining press-stud half from the other side and add a button: 

 

I reinforced the hole and then blanket-stitched to make an  acceptable buttonhole. Rather than using one of my button stash, I decided to employ a newly-acquired skill and make a Dorset button (more on these in a forthcoming post).

Including making the button, it only took my about an hour and a half… plus the 10 or so years it’s been squirreled away!

So, have you mended anything this week? If you’ve written a post about mending recently, do share a link to it – I love to see how other people manage to extend the lives of the things they own.

 

Mend It Monday #12

As my friend Sarah says “If it’s not worth mending, it’s not worth buying” …

Over recent weeks my mending pile has started to grow again, so I’m back to sharing my mends on  Mondays. It’s an old favourite this week – darning socks.

The purple one has never needed darning before, but there was a hole in one side of the toe and the other side was getting weak and needed reinforcing. The other pair, has been darned many times and for the latest mend I chose to use grey wool. You can see an earlier mend in the mauve. I rather like doing each mend in a different colour as it highlights the process and demonstrates that it’s possible to mend a number of times before giving up on a sock.

So, have you mended anything this week? If you’ve written a post about mending recently, do share a link to it – I love to see how other people manage to extend the lives of the things they own.

 

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.

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.

Mend It Monday #11

As my friend Sarah says “If it’s not worth mending, it’s not worth buying” …

This week sees the final mend from the pile that had accumulated over recent (and not so recent) months. It seems appropriate to be finishing with one of my most common mends – hand knitted socks. This particular pair of socks was amongst the first I knitted (about eight years ago I think) and this is the first time that they have needed mending, so that’s quite an achievement. It was the toes that were going so I mended and reinforced and I’m hoping they might last another eight years.

So, have you mended anything this week? If you’ve written a post about mending recently, do share a link to it – I love to see how other people manage to extend the lives of the things they own.

A long time coming

One of my current goals is to end the year with fewer unfinished projects than I began it with. Several of the items that I have on the go have been hanging around for absolutely ages and there are various reasons that they have been put aside: sometimes I’ve got bored, sometimes I’ve realised that I don’t really like/need the thing I’m making, sometimes I’m awaiting inspiration/supplies, sometimes it’s just a long-term project (like the sofa covers) and sometimes it’s because something more interesting has come along and distracted me. One of my abandoned projects, however, was put aside because the pattern I was following was just so badly written.

I started crocheting this cardigan to wear for a friend’s wedding several years ago. I didn’t manage to finish in time, but I battled on with a less than easy pattern until I came to the edging up the front and around the neck. And then the pattern made no sense – I asked other people what they thought and no one understood it, so I contacted the designer, asking if she could send a picture or diagram showing how the motifs were put together. Her reply basically told me to fiddle around until it worked… easier said than done because the very small motifs were crocheted together, with the final joining round constituting a large part of each piece, so I couldn’t make them all and then try to assemble them like a jigsaw. In the end, it was abandoned.

I did revisit it, thinking I might be able to use a different approach with snail-like spiral motifs that I could sew together, but I hit problems again and so, once more it was put aside… until this year. And this year I am determined not to be beaten by any project… so I had a re-think. I looked at the cardigan and looked at it and looked at it. I realised what a very strange design it was and that I would need to use a completely different method if I was actually ever going to finish it.

So, I crocheted rows to fill the gap at the top of the back that was supposed to be filled with flower motifs that didn’t fit. Then I worked around the bottom edge, up one side, round the back and down the other side, until the front edges met, before adding a buttonhole band on one side and a button band on the other and finishing with a small shawl collar. I used some antique glass buttons that I’ve had for ages, to give a nod to the flower motifs that were supposed to characterise this cardigan (and do still run up the centre of the back). Currently it’s pinned out on the blocking mats, as the edges were rather untidy and crumpled and when I put it on Mimi it didn’t hang well.

I’m not sure, now it’s finished, that I actually like it – it looks rather frumpy – but it’s pure wool and therefore warm, so it will be fine to wear around the house if nothing else. Plus it is actually finished and so that’s one fewer project lurking out of sight.

Watch this space for more finished projects as the year progresses (there are lots of them).

Hats (and mittens) off

I decided to have a bit of a rummage up in the loft last weekend and came across a box of crochet items that were originally made for sale. I haven’t had a stall at any event for a while, so these had slightly fallen off my radar and I decided to sort some out to donate to charity, adding them to the small collection of hats that I have made recently.

In the end, there were 13 hats and 5 pairs of fingerless mittens. These will be on their way to Knit for Peace very soon. In addition, I added three pairs of knitting needles to the box. Apparently KfP are always in need of needles suitable for double knitting wool – 3.75, 4 and 4.5 mm – so if you too have any of these sizes going spare, they’d be delighted to receive them.

ScrapHappy June 2019

A very small ScrapHappy this month.

Mr Snail has a friend at work who’s just got a rescue cat… a poor kitty who has, so far, spent its life living in a garage. It now has a much more pampered existence and so I thought that it deserved a little present. I dug out at bit of scrap yarn and created little mousey:

hello Mr Mousey

No pattern, I just made it up as I went along. Its eyes and nose were made of a tiny length of left-over sock yarn and it’s filled with (new) wool filling. I hope kitty enjoys it.

-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 other folks often publish a ScrapHappy post, do check them out:

KateGun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan (me)Karen,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean, Johanna,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawn, Gwen, Connie, Bekki and Sue

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.

Shepherding the lost sheep

IMGP6811

Chrissy and one of her many spinning wheels

Unlike Little Bo Peep’s sheep, which would, apparently, return home of their own accord ‘wagging their tails behind them’, most sheep need a shepherd – someone to guide then, nurture them, heft them and ensure their well-being. Sadly, it appears that many farmers and shepherds could, themselves, also do with such care and attention… and so, I’d like to introduce you to Chrissy Smith, an amazing woman doing her bit to help the sheep farmers of Wales.

Interested in Welsh sheep breeds and discovering a few years ago that their wool was not really being understood and effectively marketed by the farmers who produced it, Chrissy decided to take action. So, she established The Lost Sheep Company. By understanding the properties of the wool of different Welsh sheep breeds, farmers can appreciate the value of what they produce and consumers can select wool that will do the job they want. So Chrissy is on a mission to get everyone (producers and users) to appreciate the value of wool, especially wool from the traditional Welsh breeds: Balwen, Beulah Speckled Face, Black Welsh Mountain, Jacob, Kerry Hill, Llanwenog, Lleyn, Ryeland and Welsh Mule.

On her web site, Chrissy provides a wealth of information, from how to roll a fleece, to the characteristics of wool from the different breeds. In her shop (well, heritage craft centre really) in Colwyn Bay she sells fleeces, hand spun yarn and equipment, restores old spinning wheels and runs and hosts classes. She buys fleeces from local farmers for ten times the price that the wool marketing board pays (which is often just pennies per kilo), processes them in a couple of old twin tub washing machines and works her magic with natural dyes.

In 2017 Chrissy was involved in reviving the tradition of the Conwy Wool Fair and she’s hoping to make this an annual event.  In fact, what she’s seeking to do is to re-introduce the traditional Wool Charter Market in Conwy – the right, granted by royal charter, to close off the streets and hold a market to trade wool once a year. Apparently, she’s got Prince Charles on the case trying to track down the original charter. Now wouldn’t that be an event worth going to?

We met Chrissy during the Knit for Peace Wool Hunt weekend and, for me, visiting her shop and hearing about her work was one of the highlights. I am always inspired by people who see a problem and take action, and you don’t get more active than this. If you are ever in north Wales, The Lost Sheep Company is really worth a visit.

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