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Stir up Sunday

We made our Christmas puds on Sunday and I spent most of Monday boiling them! Here's my recipe.

I've exhausted myself making a few more hand painted cards in the pen and ink wash too. Once you've done one, it's easy to trace the outlines for inking over - the wash just takes a few moments. The problem is not it's difficulty but the boredom of doing the same things over and over!

Have you ever heard of cotton reel art? Pinterest is full of images of people who've done the most amazing things with them - scissor stands, pin cushions, decorative trees and flowers. They key to success I think is to use old fashioned cotton reels - I have several. I began to see if you could decorate them by adding felt and ironing on bondawebbed fabrics that were cut with the Xcut press. It worked well, but no idea what I'll do with them. The robin one would make a good Christmas decoration, so maybe a Christmas tree will emerge. Don't like the flowery ones much as I think they'll look better with the cotton on show instead.

Pomegranite collage part 2

So you know that you have to kiss an awful lot of frogs to find a prince don't you??? Well apparently it's the same with collage - it's obviously going to take me lots of goes to get something useful, but that's what sketchbooks are for and I'm ok with sharing my failures!

Things I really liked about it: I liked the idea of having a separate shape in the layout which could be a focal point or just be an area of difference. I liked the balance of an offset shape and the addition of interest at one side. I liked the madness of the background texture.

Where I think I could improve: lesson the madness of the background texture. I should have concentrated and not gone down a well worn path and realized less is more. Use a graphic instead of a cut out image, and make sure it has some interest of itself ie a sketch/print. Make the side interest relate to the main image. Be a bit more delicate!

I started off with this:

Adding background papers 

Adding gesso

 Adding ink and posca pens

Adding paints to redo the pomegranite which looks more like an orange ball! No time to do anything meaningful here as I decided to abandon and try again.

Close up of background textures.

Finished thing!

Pomegranite collage - stage one, with print drier.

(Idea from Design Matters TV with Linda and Laura Kemshall. Step by step here: £1.50 for 32 mins run time and lifetime access )

Making a start, choosing a motif, and printing some papers for collage.

I've been having fun just recently with collages built up with random textures right at the start which I've then been drawing into with Posca pens etc

(Picture left) The start of the collage in an A3 sketchbook before the drawing stage. I was going to draw a building into this but then I watched the above and changed my mind, in favour of a new approach for the next piece.

Casting around the house for inspiration for a shape/motif I could use, I came up with this slightly withered pomegranite from the fruit bowl. Honestly, I have the hugest fruit bowl known to man and it's impossible to fill, and if you did fill it you'd never eat enough fruit to reach the bottom before there was a compost scenario.

Slightly withered pomegranite.

What fab colours!

I used the above photos to print a copy as a starting point and stuck it into my sketchbook.

For collage you need things to stick on your page and mysteriously I couldn't find my folder with the collected gems I've been saving, so I had to print some more and used a gelli plate with deli paper, which is nice and thin for sticking onto things. There's plenty of examples of how to do that on my blog - here for example if you're not sure.  (Below - making a start.)

I definitely didn't want anything considered, just a mad collection of textures and shapes in a limited range of colours that I thought might sit well with a pomegranite! It all may change later into the process but I've made a start and will finish for now in favour of a bit of early Christmas baking. Back soon, and thanks for tuning in!

BTW, do you like my print drier? It's invaluable if you like to paint or print onto papers. All I did was get a length of batten about 3cms wide and 1.5 deep, which I screwed cheap cup hooks into (start the holes off with an electric drill). I then found some really small pegs (not for clothes I think, but for hanging cards. They were from the £1 shop, and were a £1!) 😂 which I then screwed holes into one side of the top bit so they would slip over the cup hooks. This was a lot easier than it sounds with an electric drill. The whole batten with fittings was then stuck underside of a shelf with No More Nails. Voila! It's also above a radiator so things dry really quickly - if you're stuck you can hang your socks up to dry as well.

The Blackwood Cardigan - Helen's Closet

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A few posts ago, I shared the experience of downloading my first pdf pattern  Yesterday I used the pattern to make the Blackwood Cardigan. I thought you may be interested in how I got on with the pattern, and if it worked.

First of all, I love it!! Although a faff to stick all those pages together, in all other respects it was the same as any other pattern. The instructions that also needed to be printed off were comprehensive, well illustrated, and easy to follow and I'd give a 10/10 for that! There are plenty of little speech bubbles in the instructions filled with extra little beginners tips. I'd be very happy to use another pattern from Helen's Closet if and when I come across them.

The front page says this is for an advanced beginner, but I think anyone could have a go at this - the only slight caveat to that, is the front bands as they go over the back neckline, need a little easing to get in the fullness at the back*.

The pictures of people wearing the cardigan, in the instructions and those online show it to be edge to edge but not terribly full, so at best, the edges only meet as shown in my photo above. I didn't twig this until after it was made. This isn't a problem and is quite lovely, but if you're expecting something a bit fuller or if you want to wear a jumper under it, you might like to make a bigger size.

The pockets were stitched onto the front of the cardigan using a piece of tissue paper between the fabric and the machine. This, and lots of pins, were recommended so that the pocket stayed flat when you sewed and didn't buckle. I tried this and it worked very well. I think it also helps to have the right needle in the machine - my fabric is sweatshirting, and I needed one for stretch stitching. As the pockets are on show, it's worth taking time over this. You could leave them off of course, but where would you put your tissues, pieces of string, conkers etc.

Sewing through the fabric layers and tissue paper.

Removing the tissue paper after sewing.


* I find the best way to ease in fullness is to either slightly gather, or if it's not much, then just fold all the layers over your fingers as you pin, making sure the extra bit of fullness is on the outside so it takes up more fabric.

I did like the sleeve construction; the sleeve top was sewn in along the armhole before sewing the sides, (above). This is easier than fitting it in after the sides have been sewn - it doesn't take much juggling this way because the armstic and sleeve head are the same size.

The sleeves are then finished by making a continuous line of sewing along the side seams and into sleeve seam (a little pivot at the turn). There's not much else to add - just a question of following through the instructions.