Sunday 18 February 2024

Evendoon Cardigan


This week I've been wearing my new favourate cardigan!

I started knitting Kate Davies Evendoon Cardigan just before Christmas and found it a really easy knit.  It helps that it's not the biggest either!

Once I saw how fast it was knitting up I decided to aim for a meeting I was due to attend in the actual office on 12 Feb.  Could I do it?  Yes I could.


On top of knitting the cardigan itself.  I also wanted to make matching buttons.  The pattern said I would need between 7 and 12, so I had to make them in batches.  


I have special button hole mandrals, but I only have 5.  So over January I made batches of 5 buttons each time I was in the studio.  This gave me 20 buttons, although a couple broke and some had sharp bits.  I had plenty to find my perfect 7. 

I used 3 balls of Stylecraft Special DK in Cypress and really love the colour.  My buttons are effetre glass - ivory with transparant light turquoise dots. 


I'm very pleased with the fit.  I was sure it would be too small, and I was worried the buttons would be too heavy.  If I make it again (and I am tempted to make some in other colours) I would make it a tiny bit longer in the body and the arms, but otherwise I'm very pleased with the fit and the buttons were perfect. I'm looking forward to my next in-person meeting already.

Sunday 11 February 2024

Sea Glass Necklace


Following on from making a silver chain bracelet at the Frensham Old Barn Workshop, I decided to go back for one of their 5 week jewellery classes.  They have a varity to chose from but I decided Friday mornings would work best for me.

So for the past 5 weeks I've been learning more about silver smithing.

If you are brand new to all this, they can set you a project to work on, but me being me I already had a project in my head.

Last year I bought a small bag of sea glass and having looked through it came up with an idea for a set of jewellery - necklace, bracelet and ear rings.


So I took the glass and my drawings with me, and Beth our tutor, helped me turn it in to a reality!

I started with the pendent as it was the biggest and so would be a little easier to work on.


To start I made a loop of 1.5mm silver wire the same size of the glass, before making the 'prongs' by melting balls on the end of 1.2mm silver wire and soldering them to the loop.


Lastly I added a small piece of tube for my chain to run through to try and keep it sitting square when I wear it.

After a lot of filing, sanding and polishing I was ready to set my glass. 


I also finished both ends of my chain - adding jump rings and a clasp.

I am dead chuffed with the result.  The design has been sitting in my head for so long it's crazy to see it in real life now.


With the pendent finished I moved on to the bracelet.  I followed the exact same process, except the pieces are smaller with 5 'prongs' rather than 7, and they don't have a tube, but will have jump rings soldered to them in the end to join them altogether.  I've only made one and a half so far but I hope to go back in the summer to finish them off.

Getting ready to make a bracelet

I'm really enjoying working in silver and I'm wondering what else I can do incorporating silver with my own glass beads?

Sunday 4 February 2024

Needle Felted Butterfly


Just before Christmas I came across a needle felting project in The Butterfly Conservation magazine.  I could buy the kit and join an online class to be shown how to make a Jersey Tiger moth and support The Butterfly Conservation all at the same time.

How could I say no!

This was very similar to a workshop I joined to learn how to make needle felted dogs to support The Dog Trust a few years ago.  Probably because it was run by the same team at The Makerss.

However, if you've been paying attention you'd notice the post is titled butterfly not moth!  When my kit arrived if was for a Chequered Skipper butterfly rather than the moth I'd been expecting. 

It's all sorted now and I have a moth kit to make soon, but on the day of the workshop all I had was the butterfly kit, so that's what I made.  They are very similar to make, but just a different shape to work to and reference photos to look at.


As it's a flat pattern you are less likely to stab yourself as you work, which I enjoyed!  And you can spend as long as you like on the patterning of your butterfly/moth to get it as realistic as you want.

I'm aware that one wing is slightly bigger than the other, but otherwise for a first attempt I'm quite pleased.  I'm wondering if I can convince 'im outdoors to make me a small box frame to sit him in?

Sunday 28 January 2024

Tumbled Glass Beads


When you make glass beads they naturally have a lovely shiny finish.  But sometimes that's not the look you're looking for.  Sometimes you want a softer look.

To get this you can put your beads in strong chemicals and etch them, but I don't think this is the best way to do it.  (I've heard it's hard to get rid of all traces of the chemicals and if they can have this effect on glass I hate to think what effect they might have on you if you are wearing these items!)


But there is another way.  You can tumble your glass, a bit like it being in the sea for year to get that frosted look.

So a couple of weeks ago I bought myself a small 2kg tumbler and set it up in my studio.  I used some old gravel that 'im outdoors didn't need anymore and the grit the tumbler came with and put a selection of beads in.  Then I set it to go and left it for a week. 

(I did try it in the house to start with, and it is pretty quiet but the constant rattle was too much, so it had to go down to the studio.)


I was nervoues to open the tub.  What would I find inside?

What I found was an orange mess.  I think this was from the gravel.  But once I rinsed it off and found the beads I couldn't be more pleased.  At first I didn't think it had worked.  But once I'd dried the beads off I could see how beautifully frosted they were, and they feel like silk to handle.


I'd been reading up on this method before hand, and had come across a recipe for beadwax - to give a light coating once they are done to give them an inner glow.  This was the perfect finish, a little buff and they just seem to glow.

If I need to run it for a week to get this effect then I will need to make sure I've got a full batch to tumble, but that's fine with me.  I'm looking forward to making more like this.


Friday 29 December 2023

Another Knitted Baby Elephant


 Having made one baby elephant, I couldn't help but knit another.

The first was so cute, I knew my mum would love one as a Christmas present.  And I knew I had the perfect purple yarn in my stash.


So off I went and got knitting.  The yarn has been in my stash for a while now and has lost it's label.  I'm pretty sure it's not a DK, maybe a 4 ply?  Anyway as you can see from the photos he knitted up a little smaller than the first one which was a DK yarn.

And the slightly fluffy yarn makes him super sweet too.

I'm really pleased with how he came out.  I just hope Mum likes him too.  (She did and she's named him Wilbert.  Apparently he's taken up residency on the small table next to her arm chair looking out to sea.)

Friday 22 December 2023

Silver Chain Bracelet Workshop

 Over the past couple of weeks I've been visiting the Frensham Old Barn Workshop to learn how to make a silver chain bracelet.  I had been due to do this as one full afternoon, however they had to cancel it so asked if I'd like to join some of their morning groups so I could still have a go at making one.

I of course said yes!  With all the glass beads I'm making, I'm starting to think about what I might do with them and maybe bracelets are the way forward?  And even if it didn't work for my beads I'd still be learning a new skill.


Firstly I had to cut lengths of silver wire, then bend them into loops and melt the ends together to form a silver ball.  I quite liked this process as I did each thing 17 times to create 17 links, which is a brilliant way to learn to do something.

After they had all been melted they had to go into the pickle for a clean.  Maybe 5 to 10 mins.  I imagine if I was doing lots of this sort of thing I might have several projects on the go at once so I wouldn't have to wait with nothing to do.


Once out of the pickle the silver looks very dull, but is at least clean.  Now I could bend each link into shape, first giving each loop a waist then bending them over.  Then I had to thread them together.  Once you've worked out how to do this, it's pretty easy, but it was tricky to get started.


With all the links linked together I then made the clasp.  This one is just like the rest, except it is melted together while attached to the rest of the bracelet.

With everything linked together it went back into the pickle.  At this point it felt very lumpy and didn't have the flow you expect from a chain.  To fix this we pulled it through some holes drilled in plywood.  I went down to a 7mm hole.  Suddenly all the links were the same size and it moved nicely in my hand!  


Lastly it was put in the barrel tumbler to polish.

While it did that and as I had some time left, Beth our tutor asked if I'd like to make a simple ring. 


So I selected some square silver wire, twisted it, cut it to size then soldered it together.  I was a little sad to find it didn't fit, but Beth had a special machine which stretched it for me!  Hooray!  This also went into the barrel tumbler to polish.


When we tipped it out I couldn't believe how shiny they both were!  The bracelet looked amazing and I put it straight on.  I am so impressed with it.  I hadn't really expected to end up with something I can wear, but it's lovely.


The ring was a little rushed as I had to leave on time for another appointment, so where it's been soldered isn't as nice as I'd like.  However, I've got some old tools from when I did some silver jewerlly making years ago and I think I can tidy it up and give it the finish I'd like.


I'm dead chuffed with what I achived over the course of three morning sessions.  The Old Barn is lovely and really well equipped.  I'm thinking about maybe joining some of their evening sessions, where you can bring your own projects and use their equipment and ask for help.  Everyone I met seemed so nice.

A lovely make to finish the year on.  

Sunday 3 December 2023

Seaside Sweater

 Over the summer I came across the free Seaside Sweater pattern from LoveCrafts to use with their PaintBox Yarns.  This was a crochet pattern and seeing as I'd just spent months on a frustrating knit, I thought it might be good to switch over for a bit.


It's a very straightforward pattern, and once you get it in your head, very easy to follow.

I was slightly thrown when I started to make the back to find it wasn't the same size as the front, but when I spoke to the very helpful lady in my local wool shop she said it's because cotton stretches as you use it.


I had decided to go with the suggest yarn - PaintBox cotton mix DK in Pebble, which is lovely and soft and has a nice drap to it.  I used about 4 1/2 balls, although I did make the arms a little longer than suggested.

The thing that really slowed me down was then having to sew it all up.  I hate that, especially when you've got to go slow to find the right stich to sew into.  It was very strange, having started this project in August, to be finishing it up in December while listening to Christmas carols.  Especially as this is a summer item! 


While sewing up I was a little worried that it might be too tight, so I didn't sew all the way to the bottom on each side, which I think looks nice.

I'm hoping that we have a better summer next year and I actually get to wear it!  Fingers crossed.

Wednesday 29 November 2023

Paper Marbling - An Introduction

 This week I was once again back at West Dean.  As I've said to several people it really is quite addictive.  They have such a great range of courses, the tutors are all wonderful (so far) and the atmophere is great.


As someone who loves making books, I've always been fascinated by marbled papers and think they are really beautiful, but I've never had a go.  I don't even remember doing this at school.  I'd seen lots on Instagram too, so when I saw West Dean were running an introductory course I jumped at the change to try it.


Louise our tutor was lovely, and gave us lots of information about how to marble paper successfully.  It's not quite as simple as you might think.


In the morning we learnt all about how to make the different patterns using combs, sticks and washing up liquid, before spending the afternoon playing and finding our style.


It was very messy, but I loved how immediate it was.  You could see how the pattern turned out as soon as you lifted your paper from the tray, so it was easy to learn and try again if it wasn't quite right.


We stopped an hour before the end of the day to tidy everything up.  This also allowed our prints time to dry, although a couple of hair dryers might have been deployed to speed things up.  We then had a bit of time to look at each others work and reflect on what had worked or not for us.


I was very pleased to come home with 23 prints and plenty of knowledge about how to do it at home if I think the house could deal with the mess!  The real question is, can I bring myself to use any of them?


If you are interested I would totally recommend this course.  Now to go wash the paint splatters off my shoes.  (The photos really don't show the wonderful metalic paints I used at all!)