Handmade Monday 105 – Its in the Air

Welcome to this week’s Handmade Monday, if you’d like to join in or spend a pleasant couple of hours looking at the work of crafters and artists around the world, pop over to Handmade Harbour and find out more.

In last week’s Handmade Monday I blogged about freeform crochet and how I used it to make a notebook cover on the theme of earth. Since then the Creative Beings group have moved on to the theme of air…. I spent most of the week working on commissions and sketching ideas and word maps for decorative art pieces about air.

Word Maps

Air I started off making a word map – what words could I think of that were related to air…. after all how can you draw or create something you can’t see?

Molecules and Experiences

More Air

Being a former A level sciences student, I then moved on and thought about the elements that make up the unseen air – this will develop into a spherical sculpture using clear plastic, transparent threads and beads once I work out how to develop movement within the piece

I also thought about how I like to experience air – being somewhat nervous about flying, I prefer looking up at the sky. I also like being near water so I sketched a rough outline of a woman lying on top the parapet of an old stone bridge – not sure how I want this to develop, it might just form part of the creative process…

Air patchwork

Next step was to develop an idea around ways we can see the air with the naked eye – the sky, the auroras and lightning show us the elements on a larger scale due to the way they deflect light, respond to solar winds and solar radiation and the energy in a thunder cloud.

I also wanted to develop a patchwork idea about air molecules, again I’m not sure what media I’m going to use with this yet but I’d like to use it as a notebook cover

Like A Bird In The Sky


Going back to the original word map and the sketch of how I experience air, I was reminded of the one animal on the planet that can exploit air – Birds

I want to develop this idea into a notebook cover or hanging that uses images and words to capture the joy of free flight – soaring, floating, exploiting thermals, being buffeted and blown off course. The struggle to get air born. The complexity of feathers.

Aurora Cuff

Being a bit pushed for time this week I didn’t have alot of time to develop a freeform piece, so I wanted to make something small that captured some of the ideas I’d explored. I came up with the idea of  creating a piece wearable art that showed the beauty of air in the night sky through the contrast between the aurora and background dark blue sky with a sprinkling of stars.

Aurora-Air 2 Aurora - Air

Discovering Hope in Colour

This week’s post on the subject of hope is based on colour – part of the research I’m doing for the “Gifts of Hope” range is  conveying hope without words. Lets face it not everyone reads well, there are times when we feel so overwhelmed all the positive affirmations and scripture readings that normally lift us up don’t and sometimes we are simply too ill in body or mind to want to read. I’ve set up an Inspirations for Hope Board over on Pinterest to help me collect my ideas together and colour is definitely coming through as a key are to look at.


‘Glory Window’, one of the largest horizontally mounted stained glass pieces in the world ~ Chapel of Thanksgiving, Dallas TX

The obvious colour symbol that signifies hope is the rainbow – they appear as the symbol of hope at the end of the story of Noah’s Ark – God’s promise not to flood the earth again. We all love to see rainbows and there are many groups and organisations seeking to bring hope which have rainbows at their core. The image to the side of this paragraph radiates life, light and joy for example. And how often do we stop in our tracks to admire a rainbow in the sky?

This chapel window is awesome and is like a continuous spiral rainbow reaching skyward, towards a beautiful bright, white light. It says hope to me in so many ways – movement, journey, adventure, end reward etc




And the Rest???

I’ve been researching colours and their meanings and picked out those where words that seem to offer hope were amongst those listed. I was surprised at some of the colour meanings and have  missed out those which had largely negative connotations.

The meanings have been taken from belief systems, heraldry and modern theories of colour psychology.

Surprisingly green is identified in heraldry as the prime colour for hope and was the only word I could find linked specifically to hope.

Silver didn’t fare well as its apparently reflective and can be seen as “wishy washy” and neither did black – which is more understandable.

I’m really surprised about silver – as a little girl silver shoes were my great hope! The closest I’ve come to owning a pair are my silver grey crocs that actually look like real shoes and are brilliant for days when the feet do their own thing as they are wonderfully scuff proof…….. so maybe I should have popped silver in there – what do you think?

Colour meaning wheel

I’d be interested in your responses to the colour meaning wheel I’ve created. Which colours mean hope to you?  Have I missed a colour you find particularly hopeful?

If you could complete the poll below I’d really appreciate it!

Handmade Monday 104 – Experimenting with Free Form

If you’d like to take part in Handmade Monday or spend a few lovely hours browsing through the creations of bloggers all over the globe, then pop across to Handmade Harbour and find out more!

Stray Ends and Creative Ideas

Do you ever think about what to do with all those stray oddments of yarn you have lurking around?

A few years ago I came across freeform knitting and crochet but have to admit that although I experimented a little bit I really didn’t have the nerve to create pieces with it or take any steps forward. I didn’t believe I was creative enough to try it. However times have changed and as regular readers are aware I’ve been on something of a journey that is putting me in touch with my creativity – it all started with being made to draw in public and has developed from there.

#Creative Beings

Living in Southampton means I’m very lucky to have met Jani Franck, one of the creators of the Art House Cafe and also a designer and tutor of wonderful online craft classes and groups. I’ve recently joined her #creative beings group on Facebook. Its a group for creative people to share their work and I must admit I was a tad nervous joining. Each week we also receive a weekly prompt – this week’s is Earth – and this has lead to the creation of 2 freeform pieces, mainly in crochet.

Green Fields

In last Monday’s Hope post I talked about my recent trip to Devon. Driving from Hampshire to Devon means taking the A35  – a lovely route through rural Dorset and Devon, where you are surrounded by green fields, many with evidence of ancient hill forts or settlements created by iron age  chieftans and farmers.

When I got home I started making green leafy type shapes, just out of my head, and then wondered how they’d look sewn to a ball…….. and somehow they seemed to morph into the green fields I’d been driving beside all week:

I’ve taken 3 shots of the finished ball from various angles:

I Greenfields Art Ball Tryptic

Earth Note Book

I also thought about ploughed earth and the different colours of sands and soils surrounding us and made lots of random, textured shapes and flowers to create the front cover of an A6 notebook. I’ve designed it to be detachable so that it can be transferred to other notebooks in the future, added a back cover of a random crochet fabric and a button closure. I then edged the finished piece in a rich brown

Earth Flowers and Bullion Knots…. or Roll Stitch

Its fatal for me to get onto Pinterest in terms of time, but I decided I’d have a browse at the freeform pieces others were sharing and discovered it would be a good idea to learn a new crochet stitch – the bullion knot  – as many freeform artists make good use of it when creating their pieces.

Basically what you do is:

1. Wrap the yarn around your crochet hook between 6 and 12 times – I think you can do more wraps if you feel brave!

2. Insert the hook into the foundation chain or circle, wrap yarn over hook again and pull the stitch through.

3. Wrap the yarn round the hook again and carefully pull through all loops until you have 2 loops left

4. Yarn over hook again and pull through both loops

There’s a great pictorial tutorial here with a pattern for a flower brooch

There is a really useful video tutorial provided by “The Art of Crochet By Teresa”

So once I’d grasped the concept I decided to try bullion knots into a ring of random heights to create a centre for a flower. From there I experimented with various sizes of petals – using clusters of tall crochet stitches and chains,  until I found one I liked – I think it was a quadruple treble –  and came up with this lovely little brooch:

Designing V Necks

I’m in the process of designing and making a man’s v neck jumper and suddenly realised having chopped and changed a few patterns, worked out sizings and tension etc that I had no idea how to go about designing a V neck…….. so I googled it and found some advice but in all honesty it was a clear as mud, so I resorted to an online pattern generator. The good bit was that I could then see that my stitch count, lengths and shoulder shaping were along the right lines, but I still didn’t quite get how to work out the V neck!

Example of Man’s Commando Sweater

I’ve chosen a straight style for the shoulders as this looks better for this type of jumper than a raglan, plus I can sew the fabric patches over a straight shoulder better.

I knew the back of neck would measure just over 8 ins and I obviously wanted it to look balanced, not show more flesh than needed as the jumper is for work and accommodate a man’s head…..

By looking around at various sweaters and also using the pattern generator I came up with a 5in V…….. and there the fun began!

As soon as I started number crunching for the pattern I realised that 5ins would not work unless I wanted a very wide open V that showed lots of chest – great for us ladies I agree but not so good for a man in the work place! So this is what I did:

1. How Do I Want the V To Look?


Length of back – depth of V

But the number of stitches remaining for the shoulder shaping needs to  equal the number of stitches used for the back shoulder shaping (26).

So…….I realised my V would need to be a bit deeper as I needed to decrease 23 sts, which would need me to work 46 rows, as I want to decrease in alternate rows. A 5 inch V would only allow me to decrease 15sts.

And that was the start of the more complicated maths!

By using my tension swatch as a guide, 46 rows worked out to measure 6.1ins. There is also some decreasing at the neck edge in the shoulder shaping. If I took this out it would be impossible to match the shoulders, so I also needed to add an extra inch to work the shoulder shaping, meaning my V would be 7.1ins deep

So my start point will be 27.5ins – 7.1ins = 20.4ins

This will be past my armhole shaping so I don’t have to worry about shaping that at the same time 🙂

2. How Will I decrease for the V

So to shape the V I needed to know how many rows there are to 6.1ins

I did this by using the rows per inch calculated from the tension swatch

Mine is 30 rows for 4 ins on 4mm needles, so I have 7.5 rows per inch

Rows per inch  x length required

7.5 x 6.1=45.75 rows, which I’ll round up to 46 rows,

So I would decrease on the first and every alt odd row until I had worked 6.1ins

3. Placing the V

To place the V I  needed to find the midpoint of the row – I have 98 sts remaining after the armhole shaping, so midpoint is 49 sts – half the number on the needle.

I want to start the shaping as soon as I divide for the neck, so I’ll  knit 46sts, work 2 tog, K 1 and turn

I keep on with the shaping until the front measures 9.5ins from the armhole shaping – roughly 46 rows

I can then use the same shoulder shapings as I did for the back and voila! the neckline is finished….. once I’ve worked the left side of course!

4. Finishing the V

When I come to knit the neckline I’ve decided to work 1.5 inches in single rib

To get the centre stitch highlighted I’ll use circular needles, start picking up at the back, make sure I have an odd number of sts  – ensuring its a K stitch and use a stitch marker to identify it.

I’ll then dec 1 st either side of the centre stitch, using a combination of K2tog and SSK decreases.

Once its finished I’ll show you the photos!

Coming Soon………..

As a side note I’m currently working on my pattern collection  and sizing up some ladies and kids knits. Being a curvaceous lady myself is there any interest out there in having some patterns made in larger sizes or having some written in such a way you can adapt them to your own size if you have a guide to help you? I’d love some feedback please!


Discovering Hope – Reflections on a Slower Stream of Life

I spent last week in Devon visiting my Dad who’s in hospital and whilst I was down there had a nose around a few places and also sunk back into the way of life down there. Which is much slower and gentler than in Southampton – or so it felt. In a way it was a bit unreal as much of the time was spent visiting Dad in hospital but I also popped into the village and a couple of local towns and was really surprised at how much nicer people were, somehow less hurried and more willing to help / wait for things.

Being there, I started to feel better, easier in myself somehow – being less worried about being so far away was part of it but not the whole. I also felt I had more time for things – time to look around, time to rest, time to think and time to be true to myself, remake connections with friends and family I’d not seen for a long time. And it felt right to be there.

Since I’ve been back I’ve been thinking about what it was that helped me feel more positive – more hopeful and came up with some ideas:

1. Space

Dad’s village is surrounded by hills on 2 sides and in the middle of rolling countryside – you get up in the morning and although you’re overlooking a row of houses on the otherside of the road, behind them you see open spaces and the ancient Brent Hill.

Go to the end of the road and you get a fantastic view of Ugborough Beacon, one of the many local gateways onto Dartmoor – it looked impressive on Weds with its scattering of snow but guess who forgot the memory card for her camera!

2. History

Most of the village and the local towns have roots that go back centuries – there’s a sense of permanence and peacefulness. Most of the main village street has shops that have not changed their function in years! Living close to historic Totnes with its tudor connections and butterwalk is also inspiring, as its Ivybridge with its blend of older and modern properties and facilities. Totnes is the birthplace of the transition movement too and has a fantastic range of craft shops and shops selling fair trade and handmade goods from local designer makers.

The village church is ancient – evidence has been found of Roman remains in the belfry and parts of the current church are definitely pre Norman – it has that sort of inner peace you find in old churches and cathedrals. I went to show the friend who had come with me to help with my care needs and we were really surprised to find it open. We spent a fair while there enjoying the atmosphere and feeling that God was there. I don’t always get that sense in newer churches – perhaps because the stones have not had time to soak up the centuries of peace?
And yet in the 12th Century a priest was murdered there…….so perhaps the church is a good place to observe that time heals all wounds, even those which seem horrific at the time?

3. Belonging

Cities don’t seem to develop the same feeling of community as villages and small market towns. Although the districts have shops they seem to be more impersonal somehow. I’ve got some fantastic friends in Southampton but met the majority through joining groups and organisations. Whilst in a village you get to chat to people when you pop to the shops or even when out and about. It was really lovely to get the enquiries about Dad from people who didn’t just know him but also valued him and wanted to see him better again. Having grown up there I also felt a real connection with people and places and it was really relaxing to be surrounded by family again – it makes things seem more possible somehow.

4. Scenery

Being able to look out on green space, easily access nature, even in my chair etc also helps with the creative process and brings a sense of calm. I know if I want to go somewhere green and peaceful to think or be inspired creatively, its on the doorstep and there are many beautiful scenes visible from the road including this stunning waterfall at the ancient Lydia Bridge. The other side of the bridge is an allegedly bottomless pool – having swam in it I can confirm its deep and I didn’t find the bottom but whether that qualifies it is another matter…

Legends and myths are associated with and attached to old places too and that helps me create – I think about what would this have been like many years ago and again the fact that some places change and others don’t gives a sense of hope, through knowing that whilst change is inevitable it can be for the better. Some changes are seasonal and others more permanent, others fast whilst some are slow, waiting on the forces of nature to drive them.

And perhaps we can learn a lot about finding hope in difficult situations by finding connections with the natural world and the man made world and understanding that hope often needs to be patient and that change is not always a bad thing?

How does linking back to your past and reflecting on slower streams of life bring you hope?