Easter bonnets 2019

Wow! What a difference to last year, when we were working in a tent full of mud!

Yesterday saw a huge crowd gathering in Avenham and Miller Parks for traditional Easter egg rolling.

Evelyn and I were there to run the Easter bonnet decorating workshops, which was again very popular.

I was amazed by the creativity children (and adults!) showed, and there were some fantastic creations.

Craft group FAQ

Wow! Thanks to everyone for showing your support for the session starting on Monday (see here). I’ve been busy answering emails about it and I thought I’d add a FAQ just in case you have questions.

Q. Do I need to bring anything?

A. It’s up to you – feel free to bring your knitting, crochet, or other craft project to work on or get help with. We will have kits for sale and things for you to have a go at, so don’t worry if you forget.

Q. What exactly happens at the group?

A. I’m not quite sure. I’m making it up as I go along, according to what the people who come want. I imagine it’s going to be a bit like a knit & Natter or craft & chat, but with slightly more guidance.

Q. But is it a formal class?

A. No, I don’t think so. More a series of taster sessions. Probably.

Q. Who leads it?

A. I do, I have been teaching crafts since 2011 and have a Level 4 PTLLS teaching qualification. I am a member of Oxheys and have been involved in various community projects for Preston City Council and Lancashire Adult Learning.

Q. Is it all about wool?

A. I don’t know, what do you want to do? I’ve taught myself lots of crafts and if I don’t know how to do something I probably know someone who can help.

Q. Do I have to come every week?

A. No, but you can if you want.

Q. I might be late / I have to leave early, is that OK?

A. No problem.

Q. Can I come to both sessions?

A. If you want, but you’ll need to pay for both sessions.

Q. Can I just turn up or do I have to book?

A. It’s only a small cafe, so it’s a good idea to book, especially if you are travelling. It’s ‘exclusive’ šŸ˜‰

Q. How much is it?

A. It’s Ā£10 per session, including tea or coffee and a slice of homemade cake. Additional drink and snacks are available at Cafe prices.

Q. I’m vegan / eating gluten free etc. Is there anything for me?

A. No worries, we have a range of options, including soy milk for drinks if you prefer.

Q. What if I book and pay but suddenly can’t make it?

A. Please let me know as soon as possible. Unfortunately for events I can’t offer a refund unless I can fill your space.

Q. I home school – can I bring my child?

A. Yes, that’s fine. Please bear in mind that you can’t leave your child and they must be under your supervision at all times. Some activities might not be child friendly, in which case I can offer something else.

Hope to see you soon! Drop me a message to book a place.

New craft group launch!

Updated 30th December to include cake and drink option and to change the times.

UPDATE: Thanks for all your support with this project, whether you have emailed me, Liked it, Shared it or told friends. I appreciate it immensely. X Here are the new FAQ.

A brand new, informal craft group in Preston!

Venue: Ravenous (cafe on Cannon Street), Preston
When: Mondays, 10am – 12pm
Cost: Ā£10 per session including tea or coffee and scrummy homemade cake

No need to book (but a good idea if you are travelling to attend)

Aimed at the dabbers, non-experts and people who want to have a go at different crafts and arts, this will provide a friendly, informal, safe space for exploring your creative side in a variety of mediums, with some guidance.

I’m following your lead here – you decide what you want to learn, or if you want to come along and enjoy a delicious drink and crack on with your own project, that’s fine too. Each week I’ll be collecting your ideas for future groups.

Low on inspiration? I’ve got your back – I’ll bring along materials for knitting, crochet, weaving and more, and some kits for purchase. Fancy a bargain? I’ve negotiated a 10% discount at the Yarn Box on Preston Market for people who book (ask me for your discount card)

Thirsty? The cafe is closed to the public on Mondays so we’ll have the place to ourselves, and I’ll be offering hot and cold drinks and delicious cakes made by the Ravenous owner, Louise!

Also, to top it off, so many people have supported me with this journey and it feels right to give something back – so I’ll pledge to donate 10% of my profits to charity.

I hope you can join me for one of the sessions!

Dyeing with Daffodils

Today was so beautiful I felt I had to go and play in the sunshine. It wasn’t hot, like last week, but warm enough to keep moving in my sheltered back garden.

I’m aware that time is ticking, and I’m feeling behind with this project – probably needlessly, because I did manage to deadhead the daffodils on a walk around the park.

Anyway, I’m satisfied with the progress today. I pulled a couple of batches of fleece out of the suint bucket where they have been quietly stewing for a few weeks, I sowed woad, weld, and other seeds for gathering later this year, and the dye pot, a retired slow cooker, has been warming the daffodil dye bath all day.

I think the slow cooker is going to be a good, efficient way of dyeing at home, as it’s cheap to run and just sits there doing its thing. For more noxious ingredients I have a camping stove I can run on small twigs, pine cones, or wood based cat litter.

Picture of dye bath
Blue faced leicester in a slow cooker daffodil dye bath
Brown fleece drying
One of my new fleeces drying in the sun
4 shades from daffodil dye bath
Centre – original bfl, top right, widdershins; alum mordant, daffodil, iron modifier, alkaline
Long, thin, delicate seeds
Seed of yellow cosmos
Small, pear-shaped seeds
Paper thin, light seeds of woad

Musings on Spinning Wheels and Low Tech Processing

A knitty friend of mine once told me that, “Spinning is a slippery slope which, if you’re not careful, ends in a flock of sheep”.

I began spinning, as many people do, with a drop spindle.

Then, when my Dad tipped me off about a wheel in a local charity shop, I bought a 1970s Ashford Traditional, which I tested with a bit of string and carried home on the bus. That was an interesting journey, with great conversations.

Then I saw a sweet little flax wheel and spinning stool, and bought that, meaning I had a wheel at home and a wheel at the studio.

After losing the studio I have been trying to find a way to store 2 spinning wheels and assorted gubbins at home.

No sheep, yet.

Natural dye books

Whether it was the weather, or enthusiasm, or losing the studio, I’m not sure, but last year I spent quite a bit of time at the allotment.

The salads I brought home were amazing – packed full of young kale, nasturtium flowers, and leaves, many different kinds of salad leaf and spinach.Ā  Everything was freshly picked, and delicious.

Moving on from slippery commercially prepared wool, I began cleaning fleece in rainwater at the allotment, and drying in the sun – clean fibre for me, fertiliser for the plants.

It was very enjoyable.

There’s something wonderful about the process – cleaning gently and naturally, using natural dyes (like the elderberry I showed last year), and basic tools to make yarn. This is something I want to explore and share with you this year.

Actually, the coloursĀ available from nature might have influenced my seed shopping just a little. Plus I’m saving daffodil heads and onion skins already.

I intend to teach crochet classes again this year, and I’m consideringĀ different venues. I do feel it needs to be consistent and I’m looking for a long-term solution where we can really be comfortable. I’ll have more information about that soon.