Friday, 27 December 2013

Christmas Presents :: Framework Knitting and Food

Someone knows me too well.  I was really lucky to recieve this GH Hurt & Son lambswool wrap made at the shawl factory in Chilwell Nottingham.  If you are are a regular visitor to my blog you will remember the post I did a few months ago following my visit during the Heritage Open Days
The detail of the knit is so fine and very soft.  Although the factory still has the original Rev William Lee stocking frames, this was probably knitted on one of their newer automated machines.  That said, to this day, this still knit in the traditional Shetland lace style.
Another gift was this book 'Plenty' by Yotam Ottolenghi.  I have been really paying attention to what my family and I eat.  Christmas dinner was almost entirely made from scratch with at least 90% of the ingredients where organic.  It is so important to me that I know where my food comes from and how it is grown.  I started doing this early this year following a month long 'Spring Clean' programme developed by my friend Rochelle who runs a business called 'Eat, Smile, Live'.  The effects on my health have been so positive for both me and my family.  I no longer feel tired all the time and, for the first time in ages, can think better.  The other great side effect is that my children have been asking lots of questions about food and it has made them think about what they put in their bodies too.
We're far from perfect and have a long way to go to become free of the processed world of food but this book is full of delicous ideas as well as wonderful photography.  On first inspection, this book looks like any ordinary cook book but when you look closer, every dish is meat free.  Ottolenghi is not a vegetarian himself but has written a vegetarian column for the Guardian for a few years now and this is collection of recipies from the past 4 years.  He does make suggestions for those who want to incorporate meat into their dishes so the book is suitable for all.  I love the philosophy behind Ottolenghi's food creations - freshly made, free from colourings and preservatives and locally sourced. 
Beautiful, mouthwatering photography in Ottolenghi's book 'Plenty'
Finally on my reading list, this small book 'Framework Knitting' by Marilyn Palmer, which I have started already. It explains how framework knitting machines work and also explores the social history of the industry which is something I am fascinated in.  Here in the East Midlands, I am very lucky to be within 20 odd miles of at least 2 museums, Wigston Framework Knitters and Ruddington Framework Knitting Museums that have working framework knitting machines but sadly there are very few people who know how to work them.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Getting Festive :: An Homemade Advent Calendar

The realisation, yesterday, that it was the last day of November, and that I had not thought about the advent calendar thing for the kids, gave me an excuse to do something creative with them.
I have a couple of old books so we quickly came up with an idea of using the pages of the books to make pouches. We started by folding the page of the book in half and stitched down the short sides leaving an opening at the top...
 Both the lad and the lass stitched their own pockets
 Then we cut out numbers using the pages of magazines and the insides of envelopes that we had stashed away...
 We then stuck the numbers to the paper pouches...
And then added lovely swiss chocolate to them, not all of them though, one or two have secret messages inside which will lead to an extra special treat.
 We then stitched them closed
 And put into a basket for the countdown...
 We used different stitches for closing them, zigzag stitches for the lass and running stitch for the lad just so there are no arguements.
 Guess who this one belongs to?
Opening them is easy, just rip!
 One gone, 24 more to go - yum!

Thursday, 7 November 2013

The Big Draw :: The biggest crochet sculpture in the world.

I had a couple of lovely days at Snibston Discovery Museum recently.  I was asked to run some drop-in workshops over half term for 'The Big Draw' event.  We didn't exactly draw anything, but with did use our fingers and yarn to do a bit of knitting - a kind of creative drawing exercise with wool!
We had a massive source of inspiration in front of us, in the form of the biggest single handed crochet sculputure in the world -the 3 lions that made up the Lionheart Project which currently reside in the museum.  I have done lots of work that complements this project, and I was really pleased to be asked to run these workshops.
Over the 2 days that I was there, we had over 60 visitors pass by and have a go at finger knitting, French knitting on home made looms and some of the smaller visitors had a go with using a crochet hook to thread yarn onto mini lions.
Lots of fun and wonderment was had by all and parents entered into the spirit of the creative process while those awesome lions gazed down.  One little boy pointed to them and said 'I want to make one of those please'.  Sit right down and lets get started!...
And whilst all these fingers were busy there was the occassional glance up towards the lions and questions followed about how the lions were made and how can you make those with just a hook? What's underneath them?  Why were they made?  Who made them?  What are they made with?  
We had a stash of the wool that was left over from the project so visitors where able to have a feel of the yarn used to make the lions.
 Little fingers making their first tentative steps into the world of yarn...
And lots of lovely things were created.  Children feel a sense of achievement when the create something meaninful...
Headbands were very popular!
Thank you to Claire and Jayne for helping me with this workshop over the 2 days.  It was fun!

Free Finger Knitting Tutorial

Wellbeing Hi-5 :: Stitchcraft and Poetry part 3

The third poetry and stitchcraft work workshop for the Wellbeing Hi -5 celebrations with Lindsey Warnes Carroll, took place in Loughborough Library and was for a specially selected group of daycare centre users and their carers which made it a different experience to our first and second workshops
Participants where inspired by the range of  effective multi-sensory experiences we provided.  Participants talked about their childhood memories  of climbing, and playing under, trees whilst digging deep into our tub of autumn leaves and smelling their musky scents.
Carers were on hand to help with the creative making process, supporting those that stuggled with the fine motor skills that were required for the creative making part of the workshop...
It was great to see carers involved and absorbed in the creative making.  Lindsey and myself feel strongly that carers need caring for too!
 And here are some of the finished creations...

To find out more about ours workshops and community groups go to the events page on the website.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Wellbeing Hi-5 :: Stitchcraft and Poetry part 2

The second workshop for the Wellbeing Hi - 5 Celebrations, with Lindsey Warnes Carroll, was much bigger than our first workshop and was all female.  Some of the participants knew each other but most did not.  Our workshops start with introductions and we do something called the 'name game'.  This was something that I discovered in my days as a research nurse when I went on a 'train the trainer' course run by Cancer Research UK.  Participants are asked to write the name, they like to be called by, onto a piece of card.  They are invited to draw pictures, around their name, of the things that mean something to their name or pictures of their hobbies or interests to encourage a starting point for conversations. To inspire the creative making process we shared a wide range of poems covering the different stages of life and emotions inviting participants to doodle whilst we did this.  The doodles provided the inspiration for the creation of the wall hangings...
 Although the group was big the environment the group was very supportive with lots of idea sharing.  A diverse range of discussions and people felt safe to share their innermost thoughts and feelings which impacted on our wellbeing as workshop facilitators.  It was humbling to be part of this experience.  
Here are a few of the wall hangings that were created at the workshop:

 To Autumn, John Keats
At the end of the workshop we asked our participants to complete a sentance to give us an idea of how they felt after doing this workshop.  Here are some of the responses:

I feel...

...'happy.  It was a lovely session and has made me feel more confident that I will try another'

...'happy and a sense of achievement'

...'more confident to finish my work at home,  Found it relaxing'


...'Inspired (hopefully)'


...'Peaceful and pleased with myself'

...'Quite elated.  Forgot my problems for a while'

...'Inspired to write and read poetry and do more creative craft work'

Following the workshop we had an email from a participant who was inspired to write this poem and finish off her beautiful wall hanging:



Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter,

Seasons of the year.

Each one brings something different,

Yet each holds something dear.

From child to youth to adulthood,

Then on to elderly man.

These stages have not been reversed

Since life on earth began.

And so the hands are never still,

The clock just ticks away.

The changes are quite subtle

But they're happening each day.

So, don't sit idle meditating,

Looking for the reason.

Make sure you live and love and laugh

And enjoy every season.

written by Carol Mogano

                inspired by the Poetry & Textiles Workshop in Hinckley Library 10th October 2013
Carols finished wall hanging alongside her poem: