Tuesday 28 December 2021

Crochet Snowflake Table Runner

With all my Christmas projects finished and a week to go until the big day, I decided to try and slip in one last Christmas project.  A crochet snowflake table runner.


I've been wanting to do this project for ages, but I've found it really difficult to find some approprate wool.  The suggested wool is out of stock and no one can suggest an alternative.  In the end I took a chance on some Rico Fashion Cotton Metallise DK, which I was very pleased with.

Although the pattern was free, it had lots of detail and was easy to follow.  They suggested making a lenght 12 snowflakes long, but my table isn't that big so I stopped at 8. 


Once made you need to do something to stop it curling up at the edges, so I mixed some corn flour with water and dipped my crochet into it, then pinned it out to dry.  The starch from the corn flour is supposed to keep everything in place, and it seemed to work, without making it stiff. 

This was quite a quick project to work on and looked really pretty on the table.  I like how it matches our wooden table.  And if I decided it isn't long enough, it would be really easy to add more snowflakes.

Friday 24 December 2021

Christmas Cards 2021

I decided to try printing my own Christmas cards again this year.  This time I decided to print directly onto the cards, so found myself some white ink, and cards in colours I thought would work together.

I like how they came out, a little bit messy, but sort of jolly.  Hopefully everyone else enjoyed them too.  Happy Christmas and all the best for the new year. 

Saturday 11 December 2021

Glass Bead Making Workshop


 I've always been fascinated by glass beads, like tiny bits of magic captured in glass.  So when I started thinking about my '12 significant things' list to celebrate my 40th birthday, learning how to make glass beads was high on it.

Of course Covid stopped the bigger plan, but a couple of weeks ago I managed to tick one off the list and attended a one day glass bead making class at West Dean College.


I hadn't been to West Dean College before, but I've got a feeling I'll be going again.  The buildings and workshops spaces are amazing and the whole place buzzes with creativity.  It sort of reminded me of Art College.

Weirdly I'd actually met the tutor Sarah Downton at The Big Bead Show a couple of months ago, although I didn't know it at the time. 


With only 6 people on the course and windows open it felt like a safe environment to learn in.

Sarah started by talking us through how to use the torches and melt glass and got us making glass drops.  Like captured rain drops!


Then she showed us how to make beads.  Firstly in transparent glass, then mixing colours and adding opaque glass.  Next we added ground up glass and swirles to our beads.

Glass rods

I loved how relaxed the whole day was.  Sarah would show us how to do a technique then we'd be left to have a go.  We could make as many beads as we wanted within the time, and try out colour combinations and techniques as we learnt them.  Sarah was always on hand to keep an eye on us and help if we needed it. 


While the glass drops could come home with us, the beads had to be annealed first to strengthen them.  Walking out of the door at the end of the day, I didn't actually know what I had made as everything went straight into the kiln and you couldn't really see the real colours. 

A week later the beads arrived in a padded bag.  I put them into a bowl of water and cleaned them off and they spent the rest of the week on my desk to be enjoyed and fiddled with during meetings.


None of them are perfect and some are broken.  But who makes perfect things after only a day of trying?  But I do adore them!  They have come out so much better than I could ever hope for and I'm trying to decide what to do next.


Do I leave it there and enjoy the fact that I now know how glass beads are made?  Or do I join a longer course next year and learn some more techniques and try out some more colours?  It's not really the sort of thing you can do at home unless you are happy to spend some real money on it.


It has also opened up the idea of trying other hot glass techniques.  When I was at Art College I had the opputunity to try out glass blowing, but it was only about 8 years since I was scolded with hot water and only 3 or 4 years since I'd stopped going for check ups and I was still scared of hot things.  Of course I've been ironing and cooking and lighting fires for years now and so that fear is less and finding I could get quite close to the blow torch without feeling its heat was a good experience.  Something to ponder over the holiday period.

Sunday 5 December 2021

The Wheel of Development


With a bit of a restructure at work and a new Director, I've found myself part of the new People Forum and actually leading one of the Pillars - the Colleague Development Pillar, on the side of my day job.

This week we had our first Away Day in the new structure and our first face-to-face meeting in over 18 months.  It was grand to see so many people in the flesh again, but a little scary too.

The People Forum had a slot after lunch to explain to our colleagues what we are aiming to do.  We'd been asked not to use PowerPoint and so ended up with a speed dating affair where groups of people rotated round our Pillar tables and we had 8 minutes to tell them about our ideas.

Of course it wasn't quite that simple.  While chatting with the team about what we might do, someone suggested a Wheel of Development where people could spin it to get information about the Colleague Development Pillar.   Someone else suggested we could give people seeds as we're all about growth and so our table idea was born.

When I made it, it worked quite well - the arrow spinner borrowed from a board game.  But being rolled up for the journey on the train made it grumpy so it didn't spin quite so well with hilarious consequences.  A fun, and hopefully informative event for the team.