Archive for August, 2010

{week 12} simple stencilling

After last week’s complicated knitting I needed something a little more straightforward. I picked stencilling as it was something I could do with supplies I already had in my overflowing craft room.

I cut out a very simple flower silhouette from some sturdy paper. Ideally you’d use something a little longer lasting like acetate but this week I’m not buying anything new so paper it was.

Stencilling equipment

I mixed some pretty pink acrylic paint, grabbed a sponge and got started (taping down my card and stencil with masking tape first). You don’t want to overload the sponge, or use paint that’s too wet as it will seep under the stencil. I made a set of five notecards with matching envelopes.

Card and matching envelope

Once the paint dried I added some details with a black pen. Very pretty and so simple.

Wrapped up with string


{week 11} knitting

Well it was bound to happen at some point – a craft I haven’t managed to conquer in some way in a week to produce a finished item. I naively thought: knitting can’t be too hard, loads of people do it, including grannies. Surely I can learn how to do it in a week?

My desire to learn this very old craft (there are examples dating back to Roman times apparently) was enhanced by getting my mitts on a copy of the new, beautifully styled, Debbie Bliss book: The Knitter’s Year (out 3 September). The scarf on the front cover was enough to get me itching to get started. And there are lots more patterns inside to inspire from cushions to berets and socks to potholders.

The Knitter's Year

I flicked through the book (organised by the four seasons) and picked out a couple that seemed doable for a beginner (the scarf will definitely have to wait). I decided the simple but pretty washcloth (spring) would be a good start. It’s simply garter and double-moss stitch (okay, I didn’t have the faintest idea what they were but they sounded innocuous enough).

I decided – in the absence of a granny – to find some youtube tutorials to help me out.

So I can now technically knit thanks to the videos. But I haven’t mastered switching between knit and purl yet which is kinda vital for the double-moss bit it seems – in hindsight this was not the best project for me to pick, the potholder looks much more straightforward.


I have unravelled and cast on again so many times I have literally lost count (but I am now great at casting on!) and I’ve lost rather a lot of patience too. But my aim is to make that beautiful scarf one day (and finish the washcloth) so watch this space.

{week 10} paper piecing

Back to fabric this week. And some very very bright colours – you may need sunglasses to protect against the bright fuchsia pink and startling orange.

I’ve never attempted paper piecing before – also know as foundation piecing and not to be confused with English paper piecing – and I wasn’t really sure how it all worked. I soon discovered it’s like magic! And very straightforward and satisfying.

You start with a template. The one I used is by angry chicken and available to buy here. Or there are tonnes of free templates on the web – this site has lots available.


Then you need fabric – the great thing about this technique is you can use up scraps. You then simply follow the template and instructions. There’s a great tutorial here.

Right sides together

You need to use a small stitch (it makes tearing the paper off easier) and take it slow and steady as you sew along the lines on the paper. After each piece of fabric you need to trim the seams and press the shape in place before adding the next piece. As you see it all coming together it really is magic – to start with you can’t see how it will possibly work!


I’m not sure what to do with the three blocks that I’ve made so far. I think a whole quilt would be too much – maybe I need to balance it with some softer colours. Any other ideas?

Three pink and orange paper pieced blocks

{week 9} porcelain beads

Well no paper or fabric involved in this week’s project. Time to get out of my comfort zone and try something different: clay. My friend Lisa sent me a bag of porcelain clay – my challenge, if I chose to accept it, was to make beads.

I gathered some tools – I decided I needed things that would produce nice textures…

Old jewellery and a mini sieve amongst other bits and pieces. The sieve turned out to be my favourite tool.

And then I got stuck into making a mess with clay. It’s very therapeutic – and if you mess up you can just start again.

I ended up with an array of beads and buttons (click on the photo to view on flickr and see the notes explaining how I made each one).

Beads and buttons

Next step is to let them dry and then very very very carefully wrap them up for their journey to Lisa to be fired. I’ll update later with the results.

Speaking of Lisa, check out her beautiful work…

And my very own personalised bowl that she made for my wedding…

Hope you enjoyed this week’s craft – it was a bit of a different one for me but definitely enjoyable. Have you ever dabbled in clay?


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