Monthly Archives: November 2014

Wordless Wednesday: November sunrise

November sunrise - UK

J Peggy Taylor

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Mending a Woolly Jumper - craft project progress

Mending a woolly jumper: craft project update

The pre-Winter makeover I planned for my well-worn woolly jumper is slowly making progress. When I introduced you to this thrifty mending project, I had conducted Task 1 – an analysis of just how much jumper was damaged or missing altogether. My next task was to determine what materials and methods to choose to begin the mending process.

Due to the quite extensive work needed to repair this garment, I decided two things. Firstly, although previously I had successfully darned this jumper, this time there was no way the mending could remain unobtrusive. Secondly, since the jumper is worn mainly for outdoor work, it seemed sensible to minimise any spending on this project. I was sure I could conjure up enough yarn from my scraps stash to mend and reinforce the worn areas, hopefully with a bit of imaginative design to lend a more ‘cared for’ impression to this well-loved old woolly.

Designing a patch for my woolly jumper
My variation on a hexagonal motif with a bright edge for my woolly jumper patches.

As a method of repair, crochet patches seemed an obvious choice for me. This way I can match the motif size to the size of repair needed. Accepting that ‘unobtrusive mending’ was not going to happen, I decided to go for something bolder. A rummage through my yarn scraps stash yielded some bright red yarn, left over from a pair of cosy indoor socks I’d crocheted recently. I thought the red teamed up well with some smooth dark grey yarn and to make a defined edge to the patches I found some woolly-textured yarn in pearl grey.

The crochet motif I’m using for the patches is a basic hexagon. I began with the dark grey and worked the centre of the hexagon before adapting the final row to suit the size of motif I needed. To firm up the outer edge of the motif, I worked a row of double crochet (that’s single crochet in the US 😉 ) using the pearl grey yarn. The red highlight is a simple crochet chain worked in a double thickness of yarn and then woven in and out around the hexagon frame. To adapt the pattern to create the different sizes of patch, I’ll work the pattern in different sized crochet stitches and probably use different numbers of rows.

The first crochet patch for my woolly jumper
The first crochet patch for my woolly jumper

I made my first crochet patch for the largest hole in the jumper. When I tried out the motif, I liked the contrasting colours against the dark maroon of the jumper. I think this idea is going to work. I shall continue my woolly jumper mending project, creating the remaining patches using the same style of motif. Hopefully it won’t take too long to hook up the crochet patches and then I’ll show you how the patching looks.

J Peggy Taylor

National Glass Centre, Sunderland, UK

Glass blowing for Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge

We were delighted to be chosen by Cee as featured bloggers for our black and white challenge entry last week and when I saw Cee’s theme for her Black and White Photo Challenge this week was ‘glass’, I immediately remembered this very interesting visit we made to the National Glass Centre in Sunderland.

The city of Sunderland in north east England has a proud heritage of glassmaking. The National Glass Centre stands on the banks of the River Wear at Monkwearmouth. On our visit to the National Glass Centre we were able to watch a demonstration of glass blowing.

Hand blown glass at the National Glass Centre, Sunderland, UK
Examples of handblown glass
National Glass Centre, Sunderland - glass blowing
Glass blower at the National Glass Centre
National Glass Centre, Sunderland - the glass blower
Hand blowing the glass

The molten glass is held on the end of a metal rod and then skilfully the glass blower blows through the metal rod to inflate the glass globe. The glass globe is reheated and gradually shaped into its final form – in this case a vase. The glass vase being blown has a swirling pattern within it.

The glass blower at work
The glass blower at work

Do take a look at what others have chosen on the glass theme for Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge.

J Peggy Taylor

Crochet snowman greetings card design

Crafty handmade crochet cards ~ make one yourself!

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Crochet is my favourite yarn craft, so I am always looking for new ways to crochet my world. One idea I had earlier this year was to make personalised birthday cards featuring crochet designs for our sons. You can see my two specially created designs in the slideshow above. May I introduce you to Hedgehog and GCF. It’s fairly obvious which one is which! Hedgehog looks quite normal but what, I hear you ask, is a GCF? It looks rather dangerous doesn’t it … but no need to fear! Giant Carnivorous Fly is a personal logo invented by our son, while the tools refer to his woodwork hobby 🙂 For all you keen crocheters, the hedgehog and his grass are crocheted in Astrakhan stitch.

The wonderful people at UK Crochet Patterns recently posted another idea they’d seen for a simple crochet greetings cards. Their post features a simple but stylish crochet flower card.

This got me thinking about the coming holiday season when we all love to send our good wishes to friends and relatives with a card. What better way of sending your love than with a handmade card! I always think handmade gifts and cards make them extra special.

Crochet card tutorial - the completed card
The completed card

To help get your creative imagination in gear, I have created a step-by-step tutorial for this snowman card design using a few simple crochet stitches. You can find my tutorial via this link, but you’ll also see it in my How To … Tutorials menu above.

Go on! Get crafty, and surprise someone with a simple but special handmade card this winter holiday season!

Happy crafting 🙂

J Peggy Taylor

Urban lines and angles for Cee’s Black and White Challenge

Lines and angles in an urban still life shot
Lines and angles in all directions in this urban still life image

Lines and angles abound in the our built urban environments. The above urban ‘still life’ was captured by my son – he loves to spot quirky geometrics. This shot is packed full of lines and angles – from the intersecting lines of the paving stones and the edging angle of the grass, to the strong parallels of the bench and the deep toned angled shadows.

Lines and angles in perspective in this Newcastle street scene
Lines and angles in perspective in this Newcastle street scene

This is a fairly typical street scene in Newcastle upon Tyne city centre. The street and its lines of perspective lead your eye to Grey’s Monument in the distance. The buildings lining the street incorporate many lines and angles in their designs. The road itself offers its own take on lines, with the painted ‘No Parking’ and bus lane lines. The shadows add their individual angles to the scene.

The Stephenson Works in Newcastle upon Tyne
The Stephenson Works in Newcastle upon Tyne

The Stephenson Works here in South Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, are the preserved part of George and Robert Stephenson’s historic engineering workshops. It was in these Victorian workshops that their famous locomotives, “Locomotion” and “Rocket”, were built. The careful brickwork of the building and the uniform windows with their many small panes create a pattern of lines and angles. The steel chimney provides a focal point as it climbs the wall, developing its own angles as it goes. The fencing, ventilation grating and signage add further lines and angles to the scene.

Angles and lines in this detail of the steel structure of the Tyne Bridge
Angles and lines in this detail of the steel structure of the Tyne Bridge

The iconic arches of the Tyne Bridge span the river, linking Newcastle and Gateshead. This detail shot shows the lower stretch of the arch on Newcastle’s Quayside, as the steel structure dips below the road level. The Tyne Bridge design incorporates many lines and angles.

Do take a look at the lines and angles that others have found for Cee’s Black and White Challenge this week.

J Peggy Taylor

Holey Woolly Jumper in need of mending

New craft project: Mending a woolly jumper

When should a woolly jumper be classed as ‘worn out’? Wool is an amazing natural fibre. It really is very resilient. But, whatever the fibre, wear and tear on a garment can take its toll. That’s where my jumper’s at right now – gardening, woodwork, blackberry-picking and countless other outdoor adventures have all left their marks. It was time to consider my jumper’s future.

‘… but, hang on a minute!’ I hear you ask. ‘What do you mean, a ‘jumper’?’
Oh, dear! There’s our good old English language again, confusing people!

Being from northern England, when I say ‘jumper’, I mean a long sleeved garment that you pull over your head and wear over the top of a shirt to keep warm. Depending on where you live, you may call it a ‘sweater’, or a ‘pull-over’ or even a ‘jersey’! Don’t you just love English – why have one word when you can have at least four different words for the same garment?! 🙂

My well-worn woolly jumper in need of some mending
My well-worn woolly jumper in need of some mending

You may be casting your eyes over this threadbare garment and thinking, ‘Isn’t it time that sad excuse for a sweater was recycled or maybe consigned to a dog basket?’
‘OH-H-H NO-O-O!’ I’d cry! ‘I am very attached to my red woolly jumper!’

I admit, my poor old jumper is well-worn, but I believe there’s life in that old woolly yet! So, to improve its aesthetic qualities – and to reduce its ventilation qualities 😉 – I have decided to give it a pre-winter make-over. I’m going to share the process as I go, so if you too have a well-loved woolly garment in need of some ‘ventilation reduction’, feel free to glean some tips and tricks.

I started by taking a close look at the parts of my jumper that were showing serious signs of wear. From my analysis I then came up with a to-do list.

Mending a Woolly Jumper - my to-do list
Task 1 of my new craft project: make a plan

When I examined my jumper, I found there were four holes of varying sizes and each has a ‘ladder’ run (where the knitting has come undone) that will need attention too. The lower edge of the jumper is looking quite frayed in places, so this will also need remedying.

My next task is to consider the yarns and methods I will choose to mend my woolly jumper. I have previously darned a hole in my jumper. The darn remains solidly intact, but the hole has subsequently extended to one side of the darn. For this renovation project, I am currently contemplating creating patches and am trying out some ideas to see what I prefer. I will post more on this thrifty mending project soon.

J Peggy Taylor

Bark and Leaves for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge

Bark is brown and leaves are green … aren’t they?
Well … sometimes … sort-of … it depends! Take a look – what do you think?

Woodland leaves - from green to brown
Woodland leaves – from green to brown

If you’re in the temperate latitudes of the northern hemisphere like me, you too have most probably been enjoying the glorious colours of Autumn. In Autumn, we say the leaves on our deciduous trees and shrubs ‘turn colour’. There’s another odd idea! Of course, the leaves always have a colour but we mean the leaves have turned from their Summer shade of green to their Autumn tints of reds, oranges, yellows and browns.

We’ve had a very mild Autumn here in the UK with a good amount of sunshine. This means we have had plenty of opportunity to enjoy the woods at this beautiful time of year. The sunlit leaves glow in their Autumn colours. Their year’s work done, the breeze releases them one by one and they drift earthwards to join the deepening carpet upon the woodland paths. Who does not love to trail through the Autumn leaves! It is one of the joys of the season! This leafy carpet does provide another service too. Its warm blanket creates a welcome habitat for many small creatures looking for a cosy place to spend the Winter.

Tree bark with luminous green lichen
Tree bark with luminous green lichen

Tree bark fascinates me. Its touchable textures vary hugely from tree to tree, from smooth undulations to deep ravines. On a recent woodland walk I spotted these examples of bark. We often see this luminous green lichen on the trees in our woods. When it rains, this lichen really glows against the dark, wet bark.

The tempting textures of Atlas Cedar bark
The tempting textures of Atlas Cedar bark

We don’t have many Atlas Cedars in our woods – only the one, I think, and it is part of an interesting tree trail of labelled species. The Atlas Cedar is one of the trees I like to look out for along the trail. The texture and varying shades of brown of the bark give the Atlas Cedar its own unique mosaic.

The many colours of Oak bark
So many hues, from greens to purples, in this wonderfully textured Oak tree bark

I couldn’t write about tree bark without including my very favourite tree, the English Oak. This particular Oak tree is near the entrance to our woods, so we pass by it very often. The Oak bark is a myriad of different colours. Oaks support an amazing array of other animal and plant life. The mosses and lichens create so many shades of green on the deeply textured bark. The late afternoon sun also lent a purple cast to the remaining ‘brown’ patches of the bark.

Were the leaves green and was the bark brown? I did find some green leaves on my walk, but I also found yellows, reds, orange and brown. Some of the bark was brown, though not all one shade of brown, of course. But some of it was blue, purple and so many shades of green. So, yes. Sometimes. Sort-of. It depends. 🙂

Do take a look at the other entries for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week on the theme of bark and leaves.

J Peggy Taylor