Crochet on the Big Screen

I am always on the look out for handmade treasures on our screens and this week I have an absolute favourite - which is of course crochet!

This beautiful crochet cardigan is featured in the film Bright Stars which cam out in 2009 and stars Abbie Cornish and Ben Wishaw and follows the love story between the Poet Keats and Fannie Brawne.

I love Ben Wishaw and his quite unique style - he makes the most fabulous M in James Bond!

From the first time I saw this I was in love with the style and the story - and of course me being a History Nerd and lover of textiles, this film was sure to be a winner for me!

The costume designer, Australian Janet Patterson went to the fabulous Sophie Digard for this piece which is a masterpiece in delicate crochet.  If you have not come across Sophie's work before then I strongly urge you to check her out - frankly her items elevate crochet to a work of art and rightly so her pieces are very expensive and very collectable. Sadly I don't have any!!!

Sadly the film is not currently available on either Netflix or Amazon Prime Video - so for the time being its only available to buy on DVD - but if you love History, Textiles and a love story - its for you!

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Moving to the Dark Side!

Crochet is back in my heart!

So no I am not moving house - and with the turmoil in the UK at the moment I am not sure when I will be making it home!

No, I am talking about Crochet!  The other side of the fibre artists brain!

My sister taught me to crochet many years ago and I was quite adventurous at first - even made myself a pretty crochet blouse from a Phildar pattern with fine cotton and a small hook - took me months but I was very proud of it.  I have a photograph of my much younger self wearing it - which will stay firmly hidden for the time being.

Anyway as a first love knitter I have not really done much crochet over the years - the odd granny square and once I made some crochet headbands but thats about it.

So imagine my surprise when I found myself ordering on a whim the Last Dance on the Beach Crochet Along blanket kit by Scheepjes!  There is a lot of background to the CAL which I won't go into detail about here - you can read all about it on their website - but I felt drawn to the concept and as Flo had already decided that the blanket would be perfect for her new student house - my fate was sealed....

So each week I have been following along and crocheting four 18x18cm squares - which will come together and make the blanket.  I chose the 'Last Dance in the Rain' colour combination in the Colour Crafter yarn which is acrylic - and yes I know I don't often do anything in acrylic - but firstly my purse is rather shallow since I lost my job and secondly - this is going into a student house........  I have seen the luxury merino kits and part of me wishes I could have stretched to that - but again THIS IS GOING INTO A STUDENT HOUSE!

I did however treat myself to some new hooks and went for the Clover set with soft handles - I love them, very well worth the money.  I got them on offer for AED220 (heaven only knows what that is in £ now as I watch it currently free fall) but I reckon about £40 - which is probably more than the UK but I got them in the UAE so no delivery charge to pay!

My crochet skills have improved 100% since the start of the CAL - my stitches are much neater and whilst I will admit that most of the time I have watched every second of each weeks video tutorial - I have learnt such a lot.  Some squares I found more difficult than others - and often the ones which I thought looked next to impossible have turned out to be my favourites. The only thing that saddened me in the whole process was some of the comments on the Facebook page - whilst most people were excited to share their work and ask questions there were a few people who were downright nasty - there is no place for that in our craft and I for one am fully supportive of the moderators kicking them out - imagine Trolls in a Crochet project which is supporting mental health awareness...... unbelievable!

As I write we only have 2 more weeks of squares to do before we start the fun of putting them all together.  And I could not get past this week without mentioning the lovely Sarah from Crafts from the Cwtch who designed this weeks square - looked easy, but was deceptively tricky!! But thankfully as I said my crochet has got a lot neater and that helped a lot!

Since I started the CAL I have also made Florence a 'Festival' Top and am planning a crochet shawl as my holiday project - yep I am truly in love with my crochet again!

This is my colour way (with a few changes due to unavailability of shades - photo courtesy of Scheepjes website

Some of my works in progress......

Mindful 15

Hello everyone and hope that in this week of absolute horror you have been able to find time to sit down and relax with your crafting.

I started writing this blog with an absolute rant about the death of MP Jo Cox - but this is no political blog so its sitting in my drafts until one day I feel calm enough to delete it!

Some of you will know that the last few weeks have been a bit tough for me health wise.  This time it's not one big issue but rather 'Death by a Thousand Cuts'!  Lots of little things have gone south and resulted in my feeling pretty down and despondent.  Now like lots of people when I am down I turn to food as a treat - but certain foods for me make my symptoms worse - not to mention the extra KGs that my poor kidney has to cope with - so what else can I do to keep my mind free of gremlins?

Well obviously there is my knitting and crochet but I am now at the stage where knitting comes so naturally to me that I can knit and re-write the telephone book in my head whilst I am doing it!  I love sewing too but of course its not always easy to sew 'off the cuff' as it were (and excuse the pun!).

So I got to thinking that 15 minutes is an optimum time....... think 'Lean in 15' which has been tremendously successful with both menus and workouts which take just 15 mins!  15 minutes seems long enough to do something - 10 just a bit too short and 20 starts looking like half an hour!! ha ha!!

I have been studying Dementia a little in the last year or so as my Father has early stage Dementia and my Grandmother (his mother) had it pretty severely in her last 15 or so years.  I will do anything I can to keep my mind active and keep any signs of Dementia away (on the plus side my maternal Grandmother lived to 98 and was as sharp as a button right to the end!!!).  So one thing which is good for our brains is to learn something new - and a lightbulb struck - which don't I try something new for 15 minutes everyday?

I have many colouring books my kids have brought me in recent years - but I wanted something more than colouring.....and in any case some of those Mandalas will take hours and hours to complete!

So this week I have been dedicating some time - well 15 minutes at a time of course - to learning to do Origami!  Each piece of Origami is different and there are literally thousands of different things to make.  I found some papers at Lakeland of all places and set my timer - I have done two so far!

This is a 'water bomb' which is a cute little box - not sure exactly how watertight it would be but the construction was interesting!

A Swan - fairly traditional simple Origami

So I am going to start my own #Mindful15 - why don't you join me!! Won't just be Origami - but lots of new things, have bought some brush pens for some lettering, some tissue paper for flowers, maybe some little cross stitch or a quick new recipe - the idea really is to finish something each time and not add it to the basket of WIPS - because thats the opposite effect of what I'm after - don't need any more UFO's haunting me in my sleep!

If you do join me then please use #Mindful15 on your Social Media (I'll mainly be using Instagram) and let me know how you get on


Adventures in Dying

Hi everyone - and despite the title I am doing ok!

Following my last rather inner facing post, I have been trying to get over yet more medical setbacks and insurance woes - but you know life has to go on and whilst I would rather not jump over the seemingly endless set of hurdles I get put in front of me - I am able to still jump over them!  Might take me two or three attempts but I still have the energy to make the leap - so I must be ok!

Anyway...... I am really keen at the moment to take the time I have now to learn some more skills - and learning new skills is good for the brain (more about that in my next post!).

So..... I have been spending time on You Tube learning to dye yarn!  Its something I have wanted to do for a very long time and have either not had the time or had no clue where to start.

A little while ago I had made a feeble attempt to dye some lace weight yarn with Koolaid and to be honest the colour was a little 'washed out' so I had thrown the two skeins to the back of the cupboard and declared them a failure!

A few trips to Spinneys (our version of Waitrose) for some Wiltons food colouring and another trip to Daiso (fabulous Japanese store where honestly you did not know you needed the things they have - or even that they existed, but you need them so badly...) where everything is 7AED (that used to be £1 - but the £ has fallen so much against the AED now that its technically a 'Pound and a Bit' store now!) to stock up on utensils - and I was set!

Lots of goodies in my kit now!

So my first foray into Hand Dying was going to be using the microwave and I set about following the instructions to the letter:

1.  Prepare work surface with plenty of cling wrap!

Its all in the Prep!

2.  Lay insipid pink yarn on the cling wrap! This had been soaked in citric acid first rather than vinegar as there is no smell - over here in the Middle East its called Lemon Salt!

Fresh from the Acid bath - this insipid colour had to go!

3.  Have fun with the colours!  I mixed up a few different shades of pink and blue - but of course I was putting that onto already pink yarn so the colours took on a life of their own - and you know I loved that - just like playing with colours as a kid - you never know what you are going to get!

Think I've got it all covered here!

4.  I wrapped up the yarn like a huge German sausage and set about putting it into the microwave

Lunch anyone?

5.  once the yarn was 'cooked' I carefully got it out and so happy that I had created a colour way which was perfect for our family Football Team - West Ham United!

6.  Even happier when I wound the skein into a ball that the colours had come out beautifully and I have named the colour way 'Farewell Boleyn' - which I don't expect you to understand unless you are a 'Hammer', but the club is moving away from its original stadium in Boleyn Road to be housed in what was the Olympic Stadium for London 2012 - and its kind of a big deal!

A couple of days later I attacked the other skein and this time I used some of the Acid Dyes I got from Knit Picks and tried to do a little bit of speckling, but I had a bit of a heavy hand and it was more 'blobby' than 'speckle'.  But again the yarn wound into some pretty cakes, and this is going to end up being my first crochet shawl and my holiday project when we are off to Singapore and Malaysia later in the summer!

Just call me Mr Blobby

I'm not sure I am the next big thing in Indie Dying but I loved this process and will definitely dye up some more.