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.

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.

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.

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