Little Hooky Hearts

I’m ignoring January. It’s really the only sensible approach, what with financial crises and gloom and doom and now you can’t even say worse things happen at sea…. So in the spirit of ignoring January, I’ve been becoming quietly obsessed with hearts. Not sure why: as an official singleton, valentine’s day is likely to be something of a non-event, but it’s sweet, isn’t it? And somehow, making hearts does feel as though I’m filling my home with love. It’s ok, I’ll hang on here, while you go away and vomit…!

The first heart was somewhat unintentional. My lovely new kitchen cabinet has generated a considerable reshuffle of furniture around the house. No matter where I move things to, there is a big hole, somewhere. In an attempt to reduce the size of the hole, I bought a beaded, fairy-lit wire heart from Next of all places. But it’s white, and looked a little stark sitting on its own on a white wall.  So I slung up some ‘vintage’ grey paint (as in, it’s a vintage colour, rather than it’s been lying around for a while) in a rough and ready, brushtroked kind of way, and hung the heart over that.  It looks quite good – although it really *doesn’t* fill the hole.  My lovely friend suggested that the paint makes it an ‘installation’ which made me feel a bit better about buying ready made, populist tat (from Next!  Of all places!)

 Then I got my hooks out.  My new issue of Mollie Makes arrived the other day, and they are feeling the hooky, hearty love in a big way.  Well, there’s a little window in my lovely new cabinet, which was just calling for something, and so I sat down in front of the television with some scraps of yarn and hooked up these little hearts. 

The Mollie Makes issue does have a pattern for hearts, but I didn’t like the straight-row nature of theirs.  I like my crochet hearts a little bit swirly, so I used the heart pattern from 201 Crochet Blocks by Melody Griffiths.  I made 6, though really there’s only space for 5, because I like the combination of pastelly ice cream colours.  Also because, if I’m honest, I’m rather desperate to finish this yarn, which has been hanging around for quite a long time.  There’s not enough of any colour left to do anything substantial with, and because it’s acrylic and I prefer to work with wool, I don’t want to buy any more!

Anyway, I then stitched the hearts with a single, golden cross stitch (or a kiss…) to the printed cotton ribbon which came free with the magazine.

So.  Twee.  Irredeemably twee.  Next stop, menopause, I suspect!  But they’re rather pretty, too.

My next project won’t be twee.  I’ll crochet up a full set of genitals, or a lion ripping the guts out of a springbok (deer, not rugby player…), or a full set of  matching dishcloths.  In the meantime, do feel free to carry on being a bit sick until this phase passes!

Square One

Well I only nearly forgot, didn’t I?  I was just getting ready to put my feet up and succumb to the fluey thing that’s been threatening to engulf me all day, when my phone pinged.  An email.  From the stats monitor which looks after this place.  Telling me about my page views for the New Year Resolution(ish) post… Bum.

So, no sofa until I’d done a square.  Right?


So here it is.  Square one.  Made from the remains of a ball of acrylic.  It’s a crochet square, to get us started.  A popcorn square, no less.  Popcorn is a technique which makes bobbles out of triple crochet stitches, by gathering a row of them together through the top.  The corners are popcorned, the sides are plain ol’ triple crochet worked through the back of the stitch below (I think this is called “round the post” but I spend so much of my crochet time working out for myself how to do things that I kind of lose track of the formal way of doing things and what they should be called).

 I’ve also been working on the quilt.  I’ve put together 268 isosceles triangles, to make 134 rectangles.  I need another 88 rectangles in order to have 6  columns for the final thing.  I laid out 30-odd rectangles together, to see how the thing would look if it was *all* rectangles and, as I feared, it was rather too busy.  In order to appreciate the fabrics, the eye will need something calm to rest on, and none of my ‘plains’ are reading quite plain enough to give that unity to the final thing.  So there will be columns of rectangles, and columns of a single fabric, making a 12-stripe quilt, roughly 6’5″ x 5’2″.

I have some Lotte Jansdotter fabric which I was going to use to back it with, which may make the unifying stripes if there’s enough of it.  Otherwise, I shall have to go fabric shopping.  Oh, woe is me!

I’d also like to do an irregular sawtooth border, but that’s because I have a triangle obsession going on at the moment.  I may be sick of them by the time I get to the border.  Let’s see how that goes!

New Year’s Resolution (ish)

I have started making my memory quilt.  There are many ways to approach a memory quilt – you can use scraps of fabrics associated with what/whoever you’re making the quilt to remember.  Or you can use a block design or, indeed, design your own block to incorporate your particular memory theme.  I’m not doing that, however.

Some time ago, I bought a roll of Moda end of roll scrap strips.  These are (although I had forgotten this crucial detail in the intervening time) strips of uneven width and length, comprising roll ends of various patterns of fabrics.  The fabrics I got are lovely, pastelly, 50s-ish patterns.  About a year later, I bought a selection of cream and near-white prints which may (or may not) read as plain over a surface area as big as a quilt.  My intention was to make a quilt built of rectangles divided diagonally, with a 50s-ish print on top and a plain-ish print on the bottom.  I will then machine shadow-quilt in diagonal rows just inside the plain half of these rectangles.  Most of the quilting will be straightforward stitch.  But some of it will be words.  Phrases.  Memories of my grandmother.

I had, however, forgotten that the strips vary in width.  My intention was to do rectangles of 5″ x 2″.  Indeed, it turns out this is a lot smaller in actual *fact* than it is in my imagination.  But because the strips vary in width, I can’t guarantee the 2″ dimension – only the 5″ one.  In order to cover a double bed, I’d have to make 288 5″x2″ rectangles, and that’s a lot of rectangles.  Potentially a very busy quilt indeed.  So far, I’ve made 80 odd.  When I’ve got to 144, I’ll lay them out and see just *how* busy it looks.  If it’s too painful to behold, then I’ll convert the quilt into a strippy – one strip of rectangles against a strip of something – probably the fabric I’d intended for the back.  That way, I can preserve the quilting idea which was, rather the point of the thing.

All of which is more of an excuse to post some photos of messy fabric, rather than a coherent post.

So here’s the New Year’s Resolution.  Like many people, I suspect, I’m not much of a one for resolutions.  Which is to say that I’m no slouch at coming up with them.  I’m just considerably bad at sticking to them.  So don’t expect this one to be any different.  It’s not even a *real* resolution.  More a statement of consideration of intent.  The possibility of a perhaps, if you will.

I’ve seen a number of Granny Square a Day blankets, recently.  And that’s where my idea starts.  I don’t want to do a granny square a day – much as I love a good granny square, even I think 366 of them might be overkill!  But I do think it might be interesting to do a Square A Day – not necessarily a crochet square – sometimes knit.  Sometimes maybe even sewn.  But a Square A Day.  If it is crochet it will explore different blocks.

Acknowledging that life is busy, and commitment variable, though, mine will be a Square A Day Ish blanket.  If commitment is *really* variable, it might be a Square A Day Ish drinks coaster – let’s see!

I’ll start tomorrow.  Maybe.  There will be pictures.  Definitely.  If I do it.

Silent night…

The problem with this time of year is that there are so many calls on my time, and so many secret projects, that it becomes difficult to find time to make anything that it’s safe to show you!

My father came to stay for the weekend, which was the first time he’s visited this house for a long time, and we’ve changed a good deal of it since last he was here, so it was nice to show him the new things – and to put him in the spare room, which has the crochet zigzag blanket in it.  It’s his favourite of the blankets I’ve made, so I wanted him to have the opportunity to use it (this isn’t entirely an open-spirited or generous gesture, since what *he* really wants is to take it home with him!!)

One thing I *can* show you is this monster, which I made for my nephew’s birthday a couple of weeks ago.  I also gave him some story blocks, painted by my friend Siobhan, who is not only an award winning journalist for BBC Coventry and Warwickshire, but is also a very talented artist.  She makes things under the name Matilda’s Mum, and really ought to have a website of her own, to link to.  Anyway, she made the story blocks (which I foolishly didn’t photograph) and I made the story monster.  The deal is, when my nephew can persuade the story monster to sit down and be quiet (with his mouth zipped, see?) then Mummy or Daddy will make up a story for them… The monster was a huge success.  Mummy and Daddy weren’t so sure about their ability to spin a yarn on demand, but there you go!

The monster is standing on a box of tissues in my workroom.  I took a couple of pictures of that, too, for a friend on twitter.  It’s a custom built work room, in my garden.  It’s effectively a *really* smart shed – with fully plastered and decorated walls, two double glazed windows and a front door!  It has full electricity (obviously) but no water.  I dye indoors!  It looks like chaos, but it is, in fact, quite tightly organised.  The cutting/design table is just visible (under a cutting mat) in the lower lefthand corner.  That’s at waist height, and has storage boxes underneath for fabric and some yarn.  It also has drawers with all my dye stuff – chemicals, fixatives, and salt.  In front of the cutting mat is a miniature ironing board, with a big bundle of felt on it.  The hanging basket to the left of the zigzag shelf is full of zips, elastic of various types, and binding tapes.  The sewing machine sits on a Horn cabinet which also has storage for thread and various notions.  The zigzag shelf contains boxes of thread, dressmaking patterns, and my own design patterns all filed away.  It also has dyed wool tops and a felting block for needle felting.  The walls are stuck all over with postcards, favourite pictures and various design inspirations, which I refresh from time to time!

This is the other end of the shed.  The  net bag in the lower left hand corner hangs from a bookcase, above the end of the Horn cabinet.  It is stuffed with usable sized scraps of fabric from several years’ worth of projects.  My friends delight in raiding the scrap bag – and Penny (from Rats as Big as Cats) has made beautiful things using my scraps!  There are two bookcases, in an L configuration.  They hold quilting books, surface design books, dressmaking books, various art and textile magazines I’ve subscribed to over the years, drawers of fat quarters (quilting fabric), drawers of buttons and beads and embellishments, index cards of dressmaking notes dating right back to my youth and all sorts of useful oddments – freezer paper, dissolvable stabiliser, tracing paper, and so on.  They also hold some of my art equipment.  The blue bag is a roll of interfacing.  The back of the door has a hanger of pockets which hold any number of embellishments – ricrac, chord, braid, ribbon, decorative yarns, and so on.  And then we’re back to the cutting table.

So that’s where I work.

And the final thing to show you this post is actually not my work, at all.  This wall hanging was made by Pat Nicholls. I bought it at an exhibition in 2002, or 2003.  It’s a lovely redwork angel surrounded by a variety of red and blue borders.  I love it.