Sunday, 19 February 2017

Waxed cotton tote

Here's a bag I've been meaning to make for a long time (two years?) - a tote bag in waxed cotton, with leather handles:

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I bought the waxed cotton so long ago I can't remember where it was from (!) but I think it's pretty easy to find these days.  The leather I bought as one long, inch-wide strip (from eBay I think), and the rivets are sturdy screw-threaded ones.

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I made this bag wide enough, and with box corners, so that I can fit a pair of flat shoes in the bottom.  In January I did a lot of travelling for work, using trains and taxis to get to client meetings, and found myself changing my shoes a lot.   For the Underground I needed my sensible flat mary-janes, but they're too scruffy to wear straight into 'proper' meetings - so I would stop in reception and stuff them in my bag, swapping for smart heels!  Then in the taxi back to the station I'd change back into the comfy shoes!

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Inside this bag I tried hard to stick to a plain lining, but a tiny piece of spotted cotton sneaked in. The rest is Kona sage and kale.
Each strap end is attached with two rivets, which have to also pass through a second piece of leather due to their length.  This also makes the attachment stronger, since it's very unlikely that the rivet head will pull through the leather from either side - leather doesn't "give" much, whereas fabric does.  I had to make holes in the leather with a variety of large needles and scissor blades, as I didn't have a leather punch at the time.  I do now, and it's a lot easier! Buy one.

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It's hard to see in this photo, but I also put a small ticket-size pocket on the outside of the bag.  This is to save scrabbling in pockets etc when you quickly need your train or bus ticket.  I've already used this bag loads, it's my current favourite!

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Vicky xx

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Painting on glass

It's called Frosterley Bazaar for a reason - and the reason is, I can't just do one thing!  Last year I began experimenting with painting on glass, firing it in a kiln at 600 degrees C and incorporating it in miniature leaded windows.  Previously, I've made stained glass with 'normal' coloured glass, but this technique brings a whole new level of detail and possibility!

One of my first experiments was a shoal of fish rushing through their underwater world, some emerging from the dark depths, some silhouetted against the light.

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The process involved in this is to paint (or 'matt') the glass completely with black paint, and then using nothing more complicated than a pointy stick, to scratch the design through the paint.  It's very like using a scraperboard - mistakes can't be undone, they have to be incorporated (so, COMMIT!) and you have to start thinking in black and white, not shades of grey.

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Inspired, some 20 years after the fact, by my marine biology degree, these pieces were put together into this window for a friend which incorporates a favourite headland:

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I'm still sewing and knitting (and crocheting a new mad teacosy), but glass is going to predominate in 2017! I hope you like glass!  Happy new year!

Vicky xx

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Another vinyl shopping bag

Using the same pattern I drafted for this bag, I made one for my sister as a birthday present.  It was lucky I knew from the start that this one wasn't for me, or I would have had a hard time giving it away!  Fortunately there was a bit of vinyl left over so I can make something for myself too.

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She requested a navy lining and navy handles, which go really well with the vinyl (which is from John Lewis).  Inside is the usual zipped pocket for your phone, chocolate (!) etc.

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These bags are the perfect size for your swimming kit, or a trip to the shops, or your packed lunch and a book to read at the park...whatever you want!

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I fancy trying one in dark waxed cotton (I have some brown), with leather handles and a really, really bright lining - maybe patchwork!

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With the leftover vinyl I'm planning to make myself another zippy pouch (or two!).
Vicky xx

Friday, 25 November 2016

Mike's next chair

I love this! Mike has made a second dining chair, a lovely modern design:

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Like the first one (here), this one is made from ash.  The back spindles and legs are turned by hand on a lathe

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and the crest steam bent, then shaped by hand:

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To me it seems to go particularly well with the yellow kettle we keep on the stove!

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I'm hoping there might be a set of these along sometime soon...

Vicky xx

Star or snowflake?

I recently became the owner of a glass kiln - a Skutt Firebox 8.  It can do amazing things to glass, one of which is to turn glass rods into these lovely decorations.  But: are these stars, or snowflakes?
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At first I thought they would be stars, but now I think they're snowflakes, especially the pale green and blue ones.  Each one is made from pieces of 6mm diameter Bullseye glass rod (buy it here) and fired for six hours in the kiln.

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Getting the glass to fuse together took a bit of experimenting, but eventually I got the design and the kiln programme right, and by Christmas I should have enough for some special glass presents!

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To hang them, each will have a silver bail:

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More adventures with glass coming soon - I can also use the kiln to fire special glass paint, to add detail to stained glass pieces!


Sunday, 19 June 2016

Pegs, pegged

This is something I've been meaning to make for about a year - a new peg bag for the washing line.

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I wanted one that was much easier to get the pegs out of than my current "traditional" style bag - there are gazillions of peg bag tutorials out there though, so it didn't take long to track down a bag I liked.

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This is the tutorial I used, from Sew Mama Sew.

At the back there's a buttoned tab to let the bag be hung on the line, but because I added wire to the top hem of mine it will also stand up by itself on a nearby table or seat.  The wire is stiff, stainless steel garden wire; I threaded it through the top seam and folded the ends back.

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I've had to wait to try it out, as our washing machine developed a terminal fault! Now we have a new one, and some good drying weather coming later this week.

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Hope you are enjoying some sunny weather too! Vicky xx

Friday, 10 June 2016

Stripy socks

A few days ago, I started some sock knitting - just for something to do while camping up in Fife, as I hadn't taken anything with me.

I bought Coop knits sock wool in two colours, and Jawool in a mustardy colour, and borrowed some needles (thankyou Katherine).  I'm using the Artesano Wuru free sock pattern, which starts at the toe - find it here!

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To start with, I had to learn how to do a closed toe cast on (there's plenty of advice on this from Mr Google).  My sock toes, heels and cuffs will be mustard-colour, with two-colour, two-row stripes in between.

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Above, I've just started knitting the blue stripes after the toe!
And below, is a beautiful red campion which was growing by our tent - June is "30 days wild" month, run by the British Wildlife Trusts.  They challenge you to do something wild every day in June! Sign up here.

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Go wild!
Sock update soon,
Vicky xx
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