Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Purple Soup

I decided, for one reason or another, that Saturday would be the day to dye. There's a pretty cotton knit I made a while ago, and I wanted to breathe new life into it. Note the very slight smudge of blue on the cream (argh!) in the photograph below, which I did by accident... I hoped that dyeing it a darker shade would redeem the wrap.

So I of course realised I didn't have enough salt in the house, which meant a trip to the shop. I walked and as it was a lovely day and wandered through the beautiful grounds of Lauriston Castle, an Edwardian stately home, as a little detour. Which turned out to be well worth it as the cherry trees in the Japanese garden are in blossom, and when the wind blows it looks like pink-tinged snow falling. Very pretty!

After having weighed the fabric dry, washed it and left it damp, I prepared to dye. First I had to get a bucket, filled with enough cold water to comfortably cover the fabric and be able to agitate.

Next, I pricked the little pot of dye and dissolved that in hot tap water and added it to the dye bath. Then I dissolved the salt and dye fix in hot tap water and mixed it into the dye bath contents.

At this point the damp fabric gets added. I just loved the inky deep purple colour I got in the bucket, it looked like some kind of odd purple soup stuff.

For the next 10 minutes I donned rubber gloves in order to "swish" the fabric around in the dye bath, aka bucket. Sore arms!!

The knitted fabric was in the dye mix for around an hour, with regular swishing intervals. I rinsed out the dye with cold water and then stuck it in the wash (separately!) to get rid of any excess dye remaining.

I'm really happy with the result, as the dye took really well and it's a nice saturated purple now :)

Colour is one of those things that makes life worth living, don't you think?

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Doing the "I do"

Well, it appears wedding season is truly upon us... I recently discovered that my little sister is getting married next month and I have to say I'm ever so slightly excited!

I already know her wedding will not be a traditional one, and am decidedly curious to see how she and her fiance go about their big day.

It has also meant that I've been noticing lots of wedding themed items lately (and has even got me daydreaming a little, I'll be honest!).

Here are a few pieces of inspiration and some helpful links for those who may need it...

I came across Green Union, which has a whole host of resources on planning, budgeting and organising a wedding which won't leave a great big hole in the ozone layer. Eco-friendly couples need look no further: www.greenunion.co.uk is here.

Rings, you say? Well here's an unusual idea - how about this custom sterling silver ring with hearts imprinted upon it:

See Chris Parry's online shop for more details.

Etsy has a whole series of short articles on doing-it-yourself weddings here: www.etsy.com/storque. There's a great one here on natural skincare tips for the bride-to-be (and a few for the groom-to-be too!) on the day and leading up to it.

If you're getting married, well, you'll be needing a cake then, won't you! Vogue featured Konditor & Cook in their Secret Address Book a while back and you can really see why if you take a quick look at their website. This London bakery makes some really wonderful cakes and other yummy-looking edibles which, quite frankly, make one's mouth water.

Then there's the small matter of The Dress. I spotted an utterly gorgeous dress on the front page of etsy earlier today, and it's handmade by UK designer Lizzie Jayne. Visit her blog here to see how she went about making it.

As for accessorising, you need not break the bank to finish off the look. There's even a nice range of reasonably-priced but pretty party pieces in New Look at the moment. See www.newlook.co.uk for more info.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

A Crafty Journey

This week has been pretty busy, but my busiest day had to be Wednesday. I got up at dawn to catch a train to Greater Manchester. The purpose of my trip was to visit the crafty "UK DIY" exhibition at the Turnpike Gallery in Leigh. Partly out of curiosity and partly because some of my work is actually in said exhibition!

I was not disappointed. Right from the start, when I saw some trees wearing pieces of knitting by ArtYarn outside the gallery (also known as yarn boming or graffiti with knitted/crocheted fabric!), I knew it was going to be good.

Then I went into the building and right at the top of the stairs was some lovely mixed media work by Kay Haskins, influenced by nostalgia, the loss of memory that Alzheimers patients suffer and the life experiences of different generations.

This was a nice lead into the UK DIY exhibition. The first thing that caught my eye was all the gigantic sculptural knit and crochet pieces! I was also amused by the 'mathematic' crochet:

Other sculptural offerings included this amazing piece made entirely out of ordinary drinks straws, rendering them decidedly extraordinary!

I thought these flowers made from recycled fizzy drink cans were great.

The Techno-crafting section of the exhibition included my very own work, so naturally I was more than a little excited to see it in situ!

Next to it are funky pixel-inspired jewellery creations by spugmeistress. She was also responsible for at least one of the fab 'zines on display:

One of the things I was most impressed by was the knitted pillar cosy which even incorporated a 'neck' for the thermostat. How awesome!

Then there was the incredibly detailed knitted landscape, which made me smile.

I thought the interactive elements of the exhibition were really quite good. There was a cosy knitting area:

...where you could even have a go at french knitting:

Then, finally, alongside a pom-pom tree, was the craftivism section, including the Oxfam quilt, which is a knitted petition. Each square represents one of the 1,400 women worldwide who die every day in childbirth or pregnancy because of a lack of healthcare and medicines.

I was especially delighted to see Marjanne Jorgensen's knitted pink M24 Chaffee tank cosy as I submitted my own 15 x 15 cm square as part of this project back in 2006!

All in all, an inspiring and fun exhibition which encouraged people to get involved and have a go too. Always a good thing, in my opinion! :)

For more about UK DIY happenings, please see www.ukdiycraft.com.

P.S. Please click any of the above images in my post to have a better look.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

An Hour to Remember

Not just any old hour, either. On Saturday 28th of March this year, many people across the world took part in Earth Hour. It was initiated by the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) as a way of taking global action against global warming.

For one hour, from 8.30pm (local time), participants were encouraged to switch their lights off to show their support and to 'vote earth.' (the idea being that leaving them on would be a vote for global warming)

Being passionate about looking after our planet and its finite resources, I did exactly that. I lit a few candles as by this time it was already pretty dark! One of the most wonderful things was that as a result of turning off the electric lighting, I was able to see the stars from my bedroom window. The longer I looked, the more I could see...it was pretty magical :)

I also wondered about how many others in different locations were out there stargazing or chilling by candle light. As it was just me where I was, at home in Edinburgh, I decided to have a little toast (rum & coke if you must know!). It actually became a bit of 'me' time, and I wrote a letter to a good friend of mine. I'd have to say, it's definitely the first time I've ever written by candle light!

Did you join in? If so, what did you do for earth hour?