Knotting know-how

Macramé is having a moment, and it’s not hard to see why, with the fashion for house plants and greenery in the home.
There are two workshops coming up, 12 May in Cirencester and July at Victoria Works in Chalford, where you can make your own plant holder. No experience is necessary and you can make the whole thing in half a day.

More details on the workshop page

Improve your knitting

The next learn to knit course is a full 10 weeks that will get you started and able to embark on a first project with support.
If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to knit or simply gain more confidence, now’s your chance. This is a course for beginners and improvers. We’ll be starting with the basics and working at the your speed, so you will never be left behind.
You will learn how to cast on, knit and purl stitches, and basic increases and decreases, what to do if you drop a stitch (don’t panic) and how to read a pattern, then we’ll start a project so we can knit-a-long together.
Learn to Knit
Beginning 25 April for 10 weeks at New Brewery Arts, Cirencester
Weds, 1:30pm – 4:30pm
Cost £190  Book here

The Gold Standard

 While researching an article for Selvedge magazine, earlier this year I visited the Coventry firm of Benton and Johnson, one of the last metal thread manufacturers in the UK. If you’ve ever marvelled at the intricacies of gold work embroidery, this is how they make the threads that it’s worked with. These days gold and silver threads and bullion are used for ceremonial uniforms, epaulets and chairs in the Kremlin apparently. While much work is now done with cheap imports, this is the real, hand-crafted, McCoy.

There are only three people left at this factory, at least two of them nearing retirement. There was another factory in Sussex, but the craftsman there is retiring this year. That’s why metal threads feature in the Radcliffe Red List of Endangered crafts, published by the Heritage Craft Association this year. Up there with the Pandas on the endangered list are crafts such as saw and vellum making. Already dead as the dodo are Gold beating, the making of sieves and riddles, cricket balls and lacrosse sticks.

The article features in this month’s issue of Selvedge Magazine, available here.

STOP PRESS: new workshop dates available for 2018

Knitting for wellbeing

Everyone knows knitting is good for you, don’t they? I have an article about it in this month’s issue of The Knitter, featuring some of the recent books that have been written on the subject. I have a couple of books to giveaway to one lucky person, Knit Yourself Calm, by Lynne Rowe and Betsan Corkhill, and Crochet Yourself Calm by Carmen Heffernan. Sign up to the newsletter this month to be in with a chance of winning.
Just to prove a point I’m taking a knitting tent to the World of Wellbeing at Womad, Charlton Park, Wiltshire, where we will be quietly teaching knitting, crochet, darning and mending. We have some lovely old sewing machines to sew patches onto your broken clothes, and a calming environment to mend your frazzled aura (often needed after a visit to the chemical festival toilets, I find) so come and say hello if you are there.

There is Sarah Corbett’s new book How To Be A Craftivist: the art of gentle protest to look forward to this autumn, which is also about discovering the power of activism that can challenge that feeling of powerlessness in the face of world events that can threaten to engulf us. Time to get making.

Re-making plastics

Are you tired of all the plastics in your bin that you can’t recycle? I know I am so I’m converting to trying to buy as few plastics as possible and it’s really hard. It’s one thing not to buy fruit in plastic punnets, though sometimes I tell myself that I’m going to re-use them when I pick my own, so that’s okay isn’t it? Most things can be recycled or composted so what’s left in the landfill bag is often all plastics.  You can make useful new things from the new sheets of plastic which are easily stitchable with a sewing machine if they’re not too thick.  I’ve made planters with mine to hide that other unsightly plastic thing, plant pots.

If you’d like to have a go yourself I’ve made a downloadable worksheet. Let me know how you get on. Please make sure not to burn yourself or inhale nasty fumes. remaking plastic worksheet