Scrap Happy June 2022

It’s the 15th of the month so time to join Kate, Gun and the crew for Scrap Happy, a collection of posts where we show things we have made from scrap, any kind of scrap but, at the moment, mainly textiles.

My makes this month are chair covers for 3, 4, and 5 for Mrs Snail’s shop (see the link to Jan below).

Number 3 used the squares I wove on the pin loom and showed you last month. I wish I had had brighter colours but these were the scrap I had.

Number 4 is crazy patch – the quickest of all of them to do.

Looking at the photo I can see I misjudged the size (or placed it wrongly on the chair) and there are a couple of raw edges showing. Maybe I will retrieve it next time I visit and correct that. They are made oversize and stapled to the underside so taking them off is not a huge job.

And finally for this post Number 5 is Paper Pieced Hexies.

I’m not sure how well this one will wear as the hexies are light weight cotton. If it falls apart or become holey I will replace it. Now that I only have Roo I took her with me and she enjoyed meeting up with Daisy again and exploring the shop. She was, however, determined to supervise me as I fixed the covers on in the stockroom upstairs!

One more cover to go! Actually I have come up with so many more ideas I may have to persuade Jan she will need more chairs!

Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time (they may not post every time, but their blogs are still worth looking at).

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill,
JanMoira, SandraChrisAlys,
ClaireJeanJon, DawnJuleGwen,
Bekki, Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue LVera,
NanetteAnn, Dawn 2, Bear, Carol,
Preeti, EdithDebbierose and Viv

Scrap Happy May 2022

Not a chair cover this time – as you may have realised I have been rather busy lately! But I have not stopped working on the chairs. I have been exploring the possibilities of the peg loom I bought for the third yarn based cover.

Following the instructions that came with it I used Aran weight yarn and diagonal weaving but thought the fabric was not dense enough to make seat cover which would last.

So then I used the yarn doubled which gave a better result but was quite tough on the fingers. I will probably use these.

Now I am experimenting with what my book calls ‘flat weaving’ which is much more fun because I can play around with stripes, checks, different weaves, even possibly ‘tapestry’ type stuff. Again the weave is quite loose so maybe I still need to use heavier yarn (not much left in my scrap box now!) or double it. More experimenting to be done.

Scrap Happy is a collection of posts curated by Kate and Gun (see their links below) to celebrate making things entirely from scrap. Not everyone posts every month but all are inspiring.

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill,
Claire, JanMoira, SandraChrisAlys,
ClaireJeanJon, DawnJuleGwen,
Bekki, Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue LVera,
NanetteAnn, Dawn 2, Bear, Carol,
Preeti, EdithDebbierose and Viv

Adventures

It has been a busy couple of weeks packed with adventures of various kinds.

My son came down to look at a cottage (read about it here https://goingbattyinwales.wordpress.com/2022/04/21/a-day-out/ ) and stayed on to work on his campervan. He wanted to build some big drawrers on heavy duty runners to slide under the bed and make the storage there more accessible. I helped and his Savannah cat supervised,

Next up was the culmination of a process which began last Autumn. In a newsletter, my bank, Triodos, asked if any customers were willing to share why they had chosen that bank for their savings. It would involve an interview and having some photos taken. They would reward me with vouchers to spend or a donation to charity. Since I was very clear why I had chosen to bank with them it sounded easy and something that would be fun to do. Because of my hearing the ‘interview’ consisted of a series of questions in an email to which I sent in answers. Their PR chap, Joe, then edited them into a piece which was emailed back to me for approval. I mentioned in the answers that I was treasurer at Dyfed Permnaculture Farm and Joe looked up their instagram feed (I had no idea we had one!) and asked if the photos could be taken there. The management committee were happy with that, he chose a photographer and we found a date that suited everybody. So I spent a day being photographed; digging out weeds, tickling sheep, carrying hay and then logs, admiring Phil’s garlic and just generally standing around. Tess, the photographer, also took some shots of the roundhouse and barn as a gift to the Trust for our own publicity. She was such a lovely young woman and I really enjoyed meeting her. A few days ago the photos came through – an awful lot of them and sent via a file sharing site I had never heard of. Another new experience! So for those of you who like to know what other bloggers look like here are 2 of the ones she took. I have no idea which ones Triodos will pick for their use.

Barley saturday ia an annual event in Cardigan, a show involving competitions for horses and vintage vehicles in the morning and they are then all paraded along the High Street in the afternoon, which involves closing the roads in the middle of the town. I have been to it a few times – it is quite a spectacle when the stallions are run to show off their paces! When I discovered that my friend Lindy had never even heard of it I decided to take her to this year’s event. You can read more about it here (https://www.cardigan-bay.com/whats-on/events/barley-saturday/ ). Because I knew that town would be very busy and all the car parks full I chose to start our outing in Cilgerran, a village 2 or 3 miles from Cardigan and walk to town through the Teifi Marshes Wildlife Reserve which includes part of the track of the now defunct Cardi Bach railway making a good, level, tarmaced path. Find out more including pictures here (https://www.welshwildlife.org/nature-reserves/teifi-marshes ). Just as the horses started to pass where we were waiting at the end of the old bridge into town a wedding car came over the bridge on its way to a reception in the Castle and had to wait quite a while until a pause between the horses and tractors allowed them through- the happy couple and their guests got a huge cheer from the assembled crowds!

Then I went to visit my daughter who lives in Basingstoke and since it was a Bank Holiday weekend and there is very little parking available near her I decided to go by train. I bought my ticket online and discovered it was an e-ticket to use on my phone! I was chicken and printed it out onto paper just in case! However it all worked fine and was much easier on my brain than driving. On the Monday she, her new partner and I went to London for the day, again by train. We had coffee in Covent Garden, explored China Town and had a delicious lunch there, then walked to Tower Bridge, over the river and back along the other bank to Waterloo for the train home. Both of them had pedometers on their phones – one said we walked 9.5 miles, the other that it was 10 miles! With stops for coffe, lunch and a glass of wine on the way back we all managed it with no ill effects. On the Wednesday evening my son was supposed to join us and take us out for a meal but the M3 was completely closed by an accident. He realised that if he came he would arrive just as we were all going to bed! So I took us out instead and my daughter suggested a restaurant recommended by some friends of hers – The Olive House (picture below right) and it was excellent – Turkish food, family run and packed out on a weekday night. A lovely end to my stay.

Because my daughter was working from home during the day I got a lot of knitting done and finished a pair of socks from Kate Davies’s book ‘Bluestockings’. I learned how to cast on at the toe, turn the heel in a new way and do stretchy cast off! It was also the first time I had done pattern stitches on a sock.

I have enjoyed it all immensly but I think I could do with a few days (weeks?) of being quiet now! However today the installation of my new woodstove is beginning, Ted has been to see his bees and Openreach are trying to fix the fault on Laura’s internet!

Scrap Happy April 2022

My Scrap offering this month is the second cover for a chair seat for Mrs Snail (see the link to Jan below) for her new shop. This one was knitted using a base colour of oatmeal with flashes of green, lilac and brown, stripes of a novelty purple yarn – think tinsel in red green and blue with lots of soft purple strands mixed in – and several small balls of other plummy colours.

Newly knitted
Attached to it’s backing (part of an ols curtain) and stapled to one of the chairs in the shop. On its left is the first one I did in crochet.

Scrap Happy is curated by Kate and Gun (links below) on the 15th of each month – a glorious collection of posts about making things from all kinds of scrap. Do have a look – inspiration may strike!

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill,
Claire, JanMoira, SandraChrisAlys,
ClaireJeanJon, DawnJuleGwen,
Bekki, Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue LVera,
NanetteAnn, Dawn 2, Bear, Carol,
Preeti, EdithDebbierose and Viv

Scrap Happy March 2022

It’s 15th of the month, time to link up with

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill,
Claire, JanMoira, SandraChrisAlys,
ClaireJeanJon, DawnJuleGwen,
Bekki, Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue LVera,
NanetteAnn, Dawn 2, Bear, Carol,
Preeti, EdithDebbierose

and show what we have made from scraps. 

When I visited Mrs Snail (Use the link for Jan to find her blog) in her new shop she showed me a set of 6 dining chairs which had been left by the previous occupants. They are perfectly good chairs and she will need some in the shop especially when she starts to run courses, but the seat covers are very boring and rather stained.

So I offered to make new covers for them. And as the shop will be all about mending and using scrap I have set myself the challenge of doing all the covers entirely from scrap but each using a different technique. You may be rather tired of these chairs by the time I have finished!

I have finished the top for the first one using granny squares made entirely from bits of yarn from my stash. The piece needs to be attached to a backing of furnishing fabric big enough to go over the edges and be stapled to the underside. I have some old curtains given me by a neighbour which should do the trick.

The next one is begun but you will have to wait until April to see that!

The kindness of people I will probably never meet

One of the things which has gladdened my heart since joining the blogosphere is the generosity of this community. Comments are full of empathy and encouragement, practical tips, information and answers to questions. There are posts which are tutorials, links to other blogs or ‘how to’ videos, suggestions of places to visit or books to read. I see small gifts sent and received by fellow bloggers and others for many reasons and none. I have learned so much and come to realise that if I need to know something or have a dilemma I only have to ask and I can tap into a huge collective experience and wisdom. I never thought that writing about my simple life in this rural backwater would result in my having wonderful friends all over the world.

A while back I made a comment on Jeans blog (http://www.onesmallstitch.wordpress.com) about her hand spun and dyed yarn. The result was a parcel in the post. Inside were 4 hanks of her yarn, each beautifully labelled wih its composition and the dye used.

Aren’t those colours gorgeous? The brown one is dyed with lichen (Purmelia Saxatilis) and smells of woods which Jean says will never fade. And you all know I am a woodland lover! I am taking my time deciding what to use them for – they are very precious so it has to be something special.

Jean’s blog has taught me a lot about Japanese textile art and design and also about weaving, which I had a go at once as a teenager on a simple table loom belonging to my Mother’s eldest sister. As a possible use of her gift I have bought myself a 5 inch pin loom from Etsy (Treneyn Crafts – a husband and wife team who sell stuff to do with wool) and am learning to use it.

My first square is rather wibbly wobbly but I hope to improve!

Tucked in with the yarn was an extra gift – one of the pebbles decorated by her Daughter-in-law. It sits on my desk as a paperweight and as a reminder of the love there is in the world.

So a big thank you to Jean but also to all of you for being the lovely, kind, caring, generous people you are.

Scrap Happy February 2022

It’s 15th of the month, time to link up with

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill,
Claire, JanMoira, SandraChrisAlys,
ClaireJeanJon, DawnJuleGwen,
Bekki, Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue LVera,
NanetteAnn, Dawn 2, Bear, Carol,
Preeti, EdithDebbierose

and show what we have made from scraps. 

Some of you will know that Mrs Snail (The Snail of Happiness) is opening a shop which will specialise in mending supplies and pre-loved craft materials and equipment. In a recent post she requested colourful items made from scrap to decorate the shop and show what could be done with left over materials. So before I went to see her and help her get the shop ready I quickly finished a small blanket I have been working on for ages so I could take it with me as a gift for her new adventure. A collection of orphan blocks, ‘have a go at a new pattern’ squares and other such odd bits of crochet all made using the small balls of yarn left from bigger projects. I deliberately made it super random trying to do each round in a different colour!

Scrap Happy December 2021

Regular readers will know that I rarely buy Christmas presents. Most of the people to whom I give at Christmas have more than enough ‘stuff’ and if there is something they particularly want or need they can ask me for it. Instead I try to give ‘experiences’ and ‘memories’ as the opportunity arises and mark Christmas and Birthdays with small hand made gifts. This means that December is a flurry of scrap happiness! However since some of the recipients read my blog not everything I have made recently can be revealed until January!

However my neighbour told me last year that she would like some knitted Christmas stockings to hang over her fireplace and wondered if I had a pattern. I can take a hint! After some searching I decided to use my usual sock pattern designed for 4 ply but knit it in DK on larger needles and decorate it with some cross stitch designs from books on my shelves.

And just for fun Laura and I spent yesterday, when it was too wet to work outside, playing in the workshop. There were some logs on the stack which were too fat for either of our fires and I find splitting with an axe very difficult so…

Scrap Happy is hosted by Kate and Gun on the 15th of each month. The contributors listed below are all amazingly creative users of scraps. Not all of us post every month but do click on the links for inspiration.


KateGun, EvaSue, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill,
Claire, JanMoira, SandraChrisAlys,
ClaireJeanJon, DawnJuleGwen,
Bekki, Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue LVera,
NanetteAnn, Dawn 2, Bear, Carol,
Preeti, EdithDebbierose

Making Progress

Some of you may recall that ages ago I started following 2 courses on embroidery – Pintangle’s Take a stitch Tuesday and Anne Brooke’s 52 tags. My aim was to increase the range of stitches I could use and also to get away from simply filling in someone else’s design. I have been lamentably lax about keeping up with either challenge but last week I decided to ‘have a go’ at doing some embroidery from scratch. And the result was…

I am under no illusions. This is not high art. It isn’t even particularly fine embroidery. But it was an achievement. I did it all myself from the first drawing to the finished piece. And I experimented. I used stranded cotton (mainly because I had a better range of colours in that) and tried mixing strands of different shades or colours.

I also mentioned previously experimenting with the way I knit and finding that it was easier if I controlled the yarn with my left hand. Well, quite by chance, I discovered how to do that flicky thing with the right hand so that I don’t have to let go of the right needle – or at least not so completely hands off. Months ago my neighbour, who did all my laundry for weeks when my machine broke down during lockdown, mentioned that she fancied having a row of Christmas stockings to hang over the fireplace and I offered to make some. Now that I can have yarn in either hand two colour knitting is so much easier! One colour on the left hand and one on the right! I used my usual sock pattern but in DK not 4 ply and motifs from various cross stitch pattern books I had on the shelves.

I can feel my confidence growing!

Back to Basics

Some of you may remember that at the beginning of the year I embarked on two embroidery challenges / courses online – Sharon B’s Pintangle (http://www.pintangle.com) and Anne Brooke’s 52 Tags (http://www.annebrooke.co.uk). I have to confess that I am way behind on both having got, I think, about as far as February! However they are purely for my own pleasure and to learn more of the skills so I am doing them only when in the mood. Summer never is good time for me to do much crafting as the evenings are short and the garden demanding. Maybe over the winter I will feel like doing more.

However two things became glaringly obvious very quickly.

Firstly I had no idea there were so many embroidery stitches with so many variations on each – why did it never occur to me that if I could whip running stitch I could try the same thing on others? Or that blanket stitch could go both up and down in the same row? Doh!

Secondly that I had never used an embroidery hoop and could see no purpose to one. I did try once, years ago, and the fabric just slipped all over the place so I gave up. A link from one of the stitches in Pintangle explained that I needed to wrap the inner ring in tape to give grip and that a small hoop is easier to manage than a big one. I bought 2 small hoops and several meters of narrow cotton tape in Cardigan Market, did the wrapping as instructed and now it all made sense! I still find it a bit unnatural but I am getting there.

My old hoop and one of my new ones. I wrapped both to try them and see which I preferred.

Those experiences set me thinking. Every woman in my family could do embroidery. I was told that my paternal Grandmother won prizes for her needlework but she died before I was born. Her daughter and niece had tablecloths they had embroidered, some of which I inherited. But I don’t remember actually seeing any of them doing it. I have no recollection of being taught to embroider. I made a mat with blanket stitch and cross stitch on Aida fabric at school and somewhere along the line I picked up stem stitch and satin stitch. Did I glean it from a book? Was I given a kit for Christmas? Did I start to make something and ask Mum to show me how to do the next bit? I will never know. I am just glad that I have started at the beginning, learning in a structured way to do it properly.

But that linked to another problem I was having – knitting. I had realised that whilst I could knit, did knit, made perfectly acceptable things when I knitted, it felt very clumsy and seemed to involve a lot of letting go and picking up movements. I was sure my Mum did it in a much smoother way but of course she died nearly 30 years ago so I can’t ask her. The embroidery revelations made me recognise that I similarly have no recollection of being taught to knit or of watching her closely to see how she did it. I identified the main problem as being that I was having to take my right hand off the needle to hook the yarn round it, then grasp the needle again to make the stitch. I knew Mum had a way of flicking her right index finger to make the same move. So I have been experimenting and have discovered that managing the yarn with my left hand in exactly the same way as I do when crocheting works for me. It also makes ribbing and any other pattern which involves switching from knit to purl and back a doddle. I have no idea if this is an orthodox technique but it works!

Of course in the process I went back to ‘stick your tongue out and hang onto the yarn as if there’s an overexcited St Bernard on the other end’ stage! Very salutary. I will have more patience with novices now!

By chance I had got a book from the Library on knitting blocks and decided to practice my new method by knitting some of those. I had a box of balls of Aran yarn which I had knitted into a jumper, worn a couple of times, decided I didn’t like, and unravelled so if I made a hash of it I wasn’t worried. The first block I tried was knitted in the round on 4 needles – big mistake! I have knitted loads of socks on three or four needles but there the work drops down and the needles are short. Here the fabric got wider and on the long needles contrived to keep stabbing me with at least one of the needles that was not being used at the time. So then I tried one which was mainly stocking stitch with a simple diamond of lace stitches. Better. Now I am doing what it describes as ‘diagonal pattern’. Fiendish! If I make a mistake (and there have been plenty) it is a devil to take back. I have pulled the whole thing off the needles and started again twice. It is only stubbornness which will get it finished! However I am getting the hang of the technique much better with so much practice.

I wonder what else I will discover I have only half learned?