Mustard smiles

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          Remember my “mustard jumper” ? I knitted it out of 100% cotton yarn, in such a lovely colour. It caused so many smiles during the making of, that I thought it would end up being one of my favourite jumpers and eventually just fall apart, worn out by old age. Unfortunately, things didn’t quite work out this way.

          I wore the jumper once, washed it, and put it away in a drawer while I thought of more ways to make myself like it more. Once it was finished it stopped making me smile, and for about five years or so, it stayed in the drawer making me frown.

          Eventually I decided there were no more smiles available in its present form, and on one of my five hour train journeys to visit my sister, I undid it and arrived at Little Sister’s House with a bag full of tightly rolled balls of cotton yarn… And the bottom “ring” of a hexagonal lampshade.

          I let the shape of the ring, and the thinness of the yarn tell my fingers what to make and by the time I made my return train trip home, I had a pattern forming of small diamonds, twisted strings, and a diagonal design of berry knots … And I had started to smile at it again.

          Instead of knotting from top to bottom as I usually do, I started to knot from the top left and eventually ended up at the bottom right. The original lampshade had been of particularly good quality and I don’t think a weaker one would have stood up to the amount of pulling and tugging needed to stretch the final pattern into place, but with a few sore fingers and a pair of very aching wrists I pulled the design into place and waited for the next bit of inspiration.

          I didn’t have to wait long, the top ring of the lampshade was a hexagon shape too and as the heavy knotted centre of the design pointed down towards the bottom left, I decided to balance the picture with the smaller hexagon suspended on the strings below to the right, and gently fill the gaps with some dark brown wooden beads I’d bought.

          The strings took a bit more thinking than I had expected, as they had been worked diagonally across the large hexagon, when their direction was changed to hang down, they were too close together, but I solved that problem bt tying off and cutting a few strings to continue.

          The diamond bead pattern I added to the left of the strings caused a little frown, but I carried on, one little frown could be overcome.

          Unfortunately, the little hexagon didn’t quite hang straight, it was slightly higher to the right, but I worked out in my minds eye that with a little pushing and shoving of the knotting along the top line, and maybe a few threads of sewing cotton strategically pulled through the supporting strings, I would be able to fix that so I carried on knotting, downwards this time, not from left to right as I had on the large hexagon above.

          As the diagonal bar of berry knots appeared in a similar design to the top. I decided the diamond knotting to the top left of the little hexagon was too plain, but instead of undoing what I’d done already, I again worked out how I could tie a charm or two onto the plain stripe and continued knotting.

          By the time I had knotted the corresponding diamond stripe below the berries, I still had hopes of decorating the little hexagon with tied on charms, but as I neared the bottom of it, it became very obvious to me that my tension was too tight and no amount of pulling and stretching of the string was going to make my pattern work without a couple of extra rows of knotting. I knotted an extra two rows of diamonds and pulled the pattern tight to secure it onto the bottom of the ring… Then I left it hanging on the wall waiting for more inspiration.

          The more I looked at the whole piece, the less I smiled until eventually I frowned so much that I took a pair of scissors to it …

          I cut out the offending knotting. I also undid the few knots holding the diamond beads to the left, and eventually took the design back to the last time I was happy with it.

          This may seem a little drastic, but the more I looked at it in its previous state, the more the whole thing was in danger of heading to the bin, so if everything went completely pear-shaped with the cutting, I really had nothing to lose.

          The hexagonal lampshade had been one of a pair, I made use of the second “ring” by tying it onto the first and just letting it hang down as a guide, then I carefully undid just enough of the “chopped” knotting to be able to tie on extensions. I’ve worked out that twisted strings are the best place to hide a join in the thread so that worked pretty well, then I continued to knot the twists and thread more little brown beads to form a pattern.

          Hubby follows world affairs, I just decorate it, but sometimes the affairs of the real world affect life, even on my little planet. I started to run out of beads and my stash had originally come from China.

          Well, you can imagine, there was another wait while new supplies were ordered, despatched pretty quickly and then delayed on route.

          Eventually the little package completed its journey and landed on the doormat.

          With some more knotting and threading I finally had all my beads in place and although I wasn’t overcome with a wave of satisfaction, there were no more frowns. The imperfections are small enough not to make me frown. I have enjoyed the making of this piece, it hangs on my wall now with an air of indifference so it will shortly be looking for a new home as I already have another project in mind.

          More from before: A little peek further into the world that I’ve “Created“.

Patchwork headboard

          The “Headboard” in our room is nearing completion. The patchwork cover has been ready for a couple of months.

          I cut out a sheet of amazon packing paper to the same size as the panel in the middle of the pine headboard and used that as a template for the shape I needed.

          You can see how the patchwork progressed in my post about “W. I. P” (work in progress. The process of cutting both card and material to the two size hexagon shapes, tacking the material around the card to form the shape, then sewing the shapes together by hand, is surprisingly relaxing. But there is an immense wave of satisfaction when the card templates are finally removed to reveal the completed pattern.

          Below you can see the three stages of the patchwork in one picture …

          Next I added a backing of plain lining material and trimmed it to the shape of my template. With a border of bias binding and a few strategically placed loops the headboard cover was ready.

          My plan was always to cut a wooden panel, add a piece of sponge, wrap that in some wadding, and then cover the whole caboodle with the patchwork before fixing it onto the front of the headboard by screwing through from the back.

          I was advised to treat the patchwork with a spray protector, it took me a while to find one, I looked around locally but ended up buying it from an online supplier, then I had to wait for the weather so that I could spray it outside. I’m glad I waited, the smell and fumes! Well, they filled the kitchen when, fearing rain, I brought it inside to finish drying. Hubby lit the grill and I could smell the fumes burning, so a few candles lit here and there eventually finished off the job.

          I’ve had the foam and wadding sitting around since before Christmas, we went to our usual visit to “Norwich” for Hubby’s sports comp, and I bought it on one of the market stalls there. I do love Norwich Market, its always so friendly, and I wasn’t disappointed when the foam seller measured out half inch bigger than my template as requested, and then proceeded to cut the foam to size and shape for me.

          The plan seemed to be going pretty well until I started to put it together. I had made my patchwork cover bigger than my template but then I had cut my wood to the same size as my foam. Not ideal, instead of nestling inside the foam when pressed, the wood became the frame.

          I toyed with the idea of undoing the binding on my patchwork and making it bigger, but once I laid everything out on the floor I could see that it was still big enough… just.

          My whole plan had been based around making the patchwork cover removable so that I could wash it if it needed freshening up. The plan of threading string through the binding and simply pulling it tight didn’t work, it didn’t pull tight enough and left too many crinkles on the front. Eventually I ended up making a whole web of string on the back to pull it tight on the front.

          Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I have plenty of patches left and so will make up another headboard cover for (hopefully) many moons away when this one needs replacing. But next time, I’ll just make it bigger and pull it tightly over the foam and wadding, attaching it with upholstery tacks straight onto the back.

          Meanwhile, the covered panel is standing up against the wardrobe, pretending to be an odly shaped surfboard while my hands and wrists recover from my attempt at upholstery.

          More from before: A little peek further into the world that I’ve “Created“.

Rotary toys

          Hubby bought me a rotary toy for my birthday. Just a small one, it was advertised for engraving, personalising your work and carving both with wood and stone. The stone carving sounded very interesting, but I already had a wood carving project in mind and asked my girls to get me a few extra bits and pieces for Christmas to go with it.

          Being my first foray into wood carving I wasn’t quite sure what I would enjoy using but when my extra drill bits arrived, their shafts were too big for my engraver. So I bought a second rotary toy in the next size up.

          I used a little box I had stashed away for other crafting purposes to store my rotary toys in, and even started to make little storage racks for the various bits I had accumulated, but then disaster struck…

          I started on carving a head for a string puppet (she’s going to be a fairy called Pan, but you’ll meet her later). I spent an afternoon cutting and carving Pan’s head, but the workload was too much for my little rotary engravers and they both appear to have been mortally wounded.

          I salvaged what I could, said a sad goodbye to my new little rotary toys… And treated myself to a bigger, more powerful one. However, this meant I needed a bigger box.

          My craft stash didn’t stretch to the size of box I needed so I hunted about elsewhere until I found something suitable.

          Unfortunately I have been spoiled by the quality of my little stash boxes. Especially so since they were originally just unwanted containers, sold off as discards from a retailer who had already sold the contents. I’m guessing they were imported from somewhere where time is cheaper than glue.

          My new box needed a little TLC before I was happy to use it. I took off the Fixings and rubbed the box down slightly, sanding off any little splinters waiting to stick into unsuspecting fingers, and reattached the lid with the hinges in matching places so now the lid makes a level tray when it’s open.

          I’m happy with my new box, so I’m ready to play again… And Hubby? He’s happy if I’m happy of course, but also happy that I am able to put my new toys away when I’ve finished playing with them.

          More from before: A little peek further into the world that I’ve “Created“.