Handmade Monday 122 – Teatime?

I’ve been a bit lacking in the blog dept in the last week or so as I’ve been busy making, as well as having a bit of a dip with my medical issues, caused by this lovely muggy weather and dealing with my daughter who’s had a few scary moments of her own…

So its nice to be back on the blog again and really good to be joining in with Handmade Monday – I miss it when I get too busy 😦 Its a lovely treat to have the time to peruse other people’s beautiful makes too, so remember to pop across and join in or take some time out for a read!

I’ve been asked to make some vintage teacosies for a local tearoom to display and hopefully take orders for me. So I’ve had to get to grips with a new way of knitting so that I can make them grow at a reasonable speed. I started the first one using a vintage pattern I found in a charity shop but didn’t like the look as the gathers were really thick so using pinterest plus more magazines and old patterns  in a  similar style and experimenting I achieved a happy medium…


These cosies require a fair level of skill at fairisle knitting, ideally the ability to  colour knit 2 handed – that is with one colour in each hand and are fairly time consuming to make. However I’m a realist and know I won’t get compensated for my time and skills but I do expect to cover my materials and make a little on top to cover travel etc. Hence I priced the cosy at £12 which was materials plus £3.

However I was then asked if I could do them cheaper as the people in local area won’t pay that much for handmade.The customers in the cafe all loved it and backed the cafe owner up and gave me a price range of £7 – 12 ( for a 4 person pot)

The only way I can see I can cut costs is to sell my higher quality materials items online, at fairs and markets and produce an acrylic version of the cosy for local outlets wanting things their customers will pay for. But this won’t look as nice or be as good at insulating the teapot as the pure wool version, but I suppose you get what you pay for? Its also harder to get acrylic yarns that have the muted effect colourwise that pure wool yarns give. Perhaps I’m turning into a yarn snob????

But good old Robin Yarns have come to the rescue following a browse around the local yarn suppliers and I’ve found a lovely soft pistachio colour that I think will work!

Lessons I’ve Learned:

Lesson 1 – do your market research, where are you selling and who will you be selling them to? Is this something people want?

Lesson 2 – explore options, is there a market place for selling your items created from better quality materials

Lesson 3 – make sure you are comfortable with compromising  to meet customer needs, if not, you may need to find a new outlet

Teaching and Learning – How We Learn

Did you know we all learn differently? The majority of people have a preferred way of taking in new skills, information etc, but many of us don’t know what is best for us unless we do some form of college course where we are “tested” to discover our learning style. This is a huge topic and for the purposes of this post I’m going to concentrate on the broader bands you might have come across

The Styles Are:

Visual: You learn by seeing You like diagrams, demonstrations, pictures, symbols, graphs etc. You prefer teachers who use visual information when explaining concepts, techniques etc.

Audio: You learn by hearing. You like to listen, discuss, share information verbally, describe things, you easily recall humour, quirky facts etc. You learn well from teachers who encourage discussion, sharing ideas etc

Read / Write – You learn by reading and writing. You like to read, make notes, lists etc, write essay, use technical manuals and love teachers who relay lots of factual information

Kinaesthetic: You learn by doing: you love to experience things, go on trips, engage in practical classes, collect things, use trial and error, problem solve. You respond well to teachers who can relate your learning to real life.

Multimodal – Most of us learn using a selection of the above techniques, Truly multimodal learners however are well balanced between all 4 approaches.


How Do I Find Out What Suits Me?

There are various websites where you can test your learning style – its best to look around them yourself and then go with the one that feels best to you.

http://www.vark-learn.com/english/page.asp?p=questionnaire is the one that best suits the system I’ve described and it also has great tips for helping you learn and express your ideas

But Does It Matter?


Its not essential to understand your learning style but it might help you if:

1. You can’t understand why you’re struggling to learn something

2. You’re having problems with a teacher for example but none of your friends are

3. You’re thinking about taking up a new hobby and want to know the best way to learn before paying for books, lessons etc

Can I Learn to Learn Differently?

Yes – when I did these tests at nursing college I was definitely a reader – writer – I love, love, love books!

But I repeated the test at the beginning of a teacher training course a few years back and I came out as multimodal. Why? Because I’d done lots of learning since I was 18, had had jobs where I learned practically, had undertaken Open University courses and been introduced to various learning resources and had discovered internet learning too! I still prefer books, diagrams etc but I now learn far more by doing!


Will It Help To Talk to a Teacher When I Do a Class?


Yes, especially if you find that the teacher uses a style that really doesn’t help you. They might not be able to change their style but should be able to point you towards learning resources that meet your needs. Plus other students might be having similar issues so sometimes a reminder that we don’t all learn the same, gives others the opportunity to get their needs met too.



Handmade Monday 120 Plarntastic Plastic

Welcome to Handmade Monday, which is all about “Plarn” (click here for a tutorial) this week. Why not pop over to Handmade Harbour and find out what other talented designer – makers have been creating this week… its a fantastic opportunity to discover new crafts too…. although if you’re like me, you might be worried about where to store any more stuff…..

A few weeks back I mentioned I was getting exhibits ready for the Southampton Green Fair. I also needed something to demonstrate on the day and as I was going to be doing a free workshop today for the Ropewalk Community Garden – more to follow later – it seemed sensible to demonstrate what I’d be doing on the day…. so using a variety of flower patterns, some from my head and some half remembered from books – I stupidly forgot to pack my flower book –  I made a string of bunting, beautifully modelled here by the various plants at the Ropewalk:

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Today I went along and myself and 2 of the volunteers spent a lovely hour sat in the gazebo, drinking coffee, chatting and making the plarn, but we had no takers for the workshop…. until we’d almost finished when the local Gambian Society arrived, with lots of lovely kids and asked what we were doing. One of the Dad’s nipped home for more scissors and suddenly I had a very full workshop of gorgeous kids who didn’t do sitting 🙂 Once I’d showed them how to make the plarn though they were well away and were soon garlanded with loops of variously coloured carrier bags, which we then joined to make balls of ywpid-20130609_162253.jpgarn, once they’d failed the skipping rope test as being too light 🙂

The kids all got involved in the crochet and around the same time another volunteer arrived with a handmade chunky hook she’d whittled from a piece of wood. She soon had a little helper with her too who was interested in making one… not sure how the progress went though! The parents were going to have a BBQ so shared their food with us, including some delicious “pancakes” – they looked like chinese chicken balls but were actually sweet, mint flavoured and contained deep fried cake. The kids explained how to make them too, but not sure I’d be brave enough towpid-20130609_162336.jpg have a go! Anyway by the time the meat was cooked, the kids had all made a very simple daisy, so I joined them to mine and we made a chain, which we moved around the garden a few times until we found it the perfect home, amongst the poppies



We also found some pink carrier bags so I decided to “plarn bomb” a tree as a thank you for having me with pretty pink blooms:








The mental health group I tutor also meet at the Ropewalk, but indoors. So I’m planningto take the plarn kit along on Wednesday and encourage them to have a go at making a flower each too so we can decorate more trees and brighten the place up.

And if I can “acquire” some ropes and strings I’m hoping that we might be able to do a few sessions for the kids over the summer where we make flowers from crochet and macrame and decorate the walls with rope crafts to celebrate the history of the Ropewalk. Its a real oasis in the inner city and provides a safe place for the local kids to play, ride their bikes and have fun. Plus many of them get involved in the gardening too so get a chance to grow things and if today was anything to go by, eat it as soon as it pops above ground!