Saturday, 22 September 2012

Richard III inspired craftmaking!

I feel so privileged to be able to deliver one of my weekly creative cafe workshops in what is the oldest and, by all accounts, most haunted buildings in Leicester city centre!  The Guildhall is one of the best preserved timber framed halls in the country dating back six hundred years.  The stunning Great Hall itself was built in about 1390 as a meeting place for the Guild of Corpus Christi and over the next 100 years the Great Hall was extended with two wings at either end.  Over the years the Guildhall has had many uses as a town library, a courtroom, a townhall, headquarters of the local police, a school, a venue for performances and is now a museum - you can find out more about the Guildhall and it's history here
Beautiful timber frame of the Great Hall from the courtyard
The Mayor's Parlour, one of the side wings
I am very excited by all the kerfuffle that's taking place just a stones throw away from the Guildhall where there has been lots of interest in an archaeological dig that may have discovered the final resting place of King Richard III. Last week, during the creative cafe, a group of academics from the University bought over some artifacts that had been dug up over the road and set up a display cabinet ready for viewing by the general public and we were the first to see them:

Artifacts found at the Richard III dig site
I felt so blown away by it all and felt that I wanted to contribute something of my own, to mark the amazing possibility that Richard III's resting place has finally been discovered.  So inspired by that little piece of a medieval pot there (in the lower right hand corner) and that virtually intact tile with a phoenix on in the top right hand corner, I set to work replicating them using some very special yarn.  The yarn I used was donated by Shauna and Mark Richardson.  Shauna is the exceptionally talented artist behind the Lionheart Project commisioned for the Cultural Olympiad by the Art Council for England and I feel so honored to be able to use this wool for other projects such as this one.  The medieval pot and tiles I made took me a weekend to do but, boy, did my hand ache afterwards!  I cannot even begin to contemplate how difficult and physically intensive it must have been to make those 3 enormous lions. The Guildhall staff where very pleased to be the new owners of a crocheted versions of the artifacts and these are now installed in the Guildhall.  
Crocheted Medieval pot (my interpretation!)
Crocheted and appliqued Phoenix tiles hanging in the fireplace in the Mayor's Parlour.
Ethel Floeda models a crocheted Phoenix tile.   I used old felted jumpers for the applique.
So if you are passing by, why not pop in to see these amazing artifacts but whilst you are there, see if you can also spot my (complete) medieval pot and 3 phoenix tiles.  

If you fancy learning the beautiful craft of crochet, I run creative cafe sessions at the Guildhall every Friday morning (except school holidays) for just £5.  Book via the Guildhall, Leicester by calling 0116 253 2569.
More information about our project work, open days and workshops on our website
Also if you're in Leicester go to the King Richard III Visitor Centre

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Garter Yoke Ravelry Pattern

There's nothing like the prospect of a new baby to get the knitting needles clacking.  As always the ever useful knit and crochet community Ravelry had just the pattern for my need.

This lovely garter yoke baby cardigan was knitted on a circular needle and is seamless so virtually no need for sewing lots of pieces together.  Once I finished the cardigan I decided to make another Lara Puppy like the one I wrote about in my previous post, along with a couple of hand crocheted cloths and a Morsbag to put it all in.  The only thing missing was an hand made card.  By coincidence, I met a lady called Sabina from Sabivo Design at a creative networking event, run by Creative Leicestershire , last night and she whipped out a bunch of most beautiful hand painted greeting cards and told me to choose one to keep, and there amongst the pile of lovelies was one for a baby girl.   

I feel really happy that I can hand over a gift that has been handmade.  It's given me a real sense of achievement.  Perhaps you would like to share your stories about gifts you have handmade for someone?  I would love to hear about them and how it made you feel when you handed the gift over.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Lara the puppy

I have spent the morning finishing off a little project that my daughter set me.  Lara was first spotted in the lastest 'Mollie Makes' magazine and it was love at first sight:
 Her entrance into the world was rather fiddly given the length of the legs in relation to the length of the body coupled with the fact that my amazing indestructable sewing machine was destructable afterall (it's awaiting some maintainance).  Still we have the JL mini sewing machine which is good for lightweight projects.
We decided to give it my signature Tim Burtonesque look with some extra surgical stitches here and there but Lily drew the line at my suggestion to make it into a zombie dog.  Anyway she loves her little puppy dog, that she has called Lara, and is planning a welcome picnic for her as I type!
If you would like to make your own Lara dog (aka known by the exciting name of 'a plushie dog') designed by Tania Ho you can download a copy here but there are no instructions.  You will have to buy the lastest copy of Mollie Makes magazine for that!