Make Believe Café are setting up shop at the Dripping Pan in Lewes on Saturday 12th November! For those of you who aren't Lewesians, the Dripping Pan is not a greasy spoon, it is the home of Lewes' football team, the Rooks. A while ago Kelly had the brilliant idea of a knit-off at the football grounds (think of folk knitting in the stands, guillotine style), encouraging more women to go to the game and allowing us to spread our love further. Then we had the idea of knitting tiny football hats for Innocent (of smoothie fame) who donate 25p to Age UK for every hat they receive. Come on down. For more information visit our website. Hopefully it will be a win win for all.
Autumn makes me want to wear slippers, cashmere and big knickers. Sadly, I can't afford the cashmere but I have found knitted slippers. Look.
A red bucket full, by our front door for cold feet and comfort. They were made by the hairdresser's (Needlemakers, Lewes) mum. I'm sure she has no idea how much we value them.
My gorgeous, crafty aunt Hanne taught us (repeatedly) to make some that are very similar. Here they are.
We've worn them since childhood. They eventually wear thin. First we beg her for more to wear out then we put on two pairs in the hope of covering the holes we don't have time to mend. Then, we felt them. All very worthy but I do want to knit them myself. Or crochet my own 'virgin' as our four year old would say. Now, there's a thought.
Last weekend Renegade Handmade held their first fair outside America and they chose London! I have read a lot about Renegade Handmade and was keen to see what they were like in person. I wanted to see who they would choose from the British DIY craft scene to take part in their fair.
My friend Diana and I arrived quite soon after it opened and we were pleased to find that it wasn't too crowded (good for us, less so for them). We had a great day but at the end of it, if truth be told I was a little bit disappointed.
Whilst there were some exciting exhibitors there and a groovy DJ, I felt the show over all lacked originality. I could really see the effect of the internet. When it first arrived the world seemed suddenly full of amazing, original and diverse folk sharing their passions, hobbies and ideas. A decade later it is saturated with DIY crafters and ideas get passed around very quickly. We all love a custard cream and I wish I'd been the first to 'craft' one, but isn't it time we moved on, at least to the bourbon. I wanted to see new ways to make old craft skills relevant today. I didn't want to buy things that would just add to the clutter of everyday life.
For me the highlights of the show were the workshops that you could take part in. The most popular was a needle felting one, run by the Make Lounge. Diana and I had a go at this. I made an owl magnet (spot him on my fridge) and Diana made a fox. Look at everyone concentrating. No chatting on that table, you don't want to prick your finger with one of those needles, I can tell you.
We also made postcards to send to absent friends.
Some of my favourite crafts people there were The Drawing Machine. Here are my pictures of their work, naturally the ones on their site are much better. It was good to see Illustration represented.
I bought a couple of these nicely printed letters and found out that artist Patrick Edgely will be at the Artists and Makers show in Lewes on November 12th. Robin and Mould and Hazel Stark had lovely fresh prints. Yuka Maeda from Minus Sun had beautiful clothing and accessories. Look at this smocking.
I hope that Renegade come to London again and I hope that next time we Brits can show what an original and quirky lot we are.
I have so much to write here but I also want to watch telly so here is a quick update on things that I am making for Christmas. I am very proud of these coat hangers. They are easy to make and a great way to use up all those odds and ends (a stash project, I think you call it). I really enjoyed mixing all the colours together, Missoni stylie. I've just checked the Missoni website and my hangers look nothing like it, but you know what I mean. I used some great fluorescent pink wool which was really cheap but always adds a bit of zest and stops things getting too tasteful.
I have to say that I got the idea from the Plumo catalogue. They have crocheted covers for wire hangers which look very pretty. I used wooden ones which, believe it or not, I had to send away for. I bought them from a very useful site called Sew Essential. This is how you make them:
Collect together lots of odds and ends of wool, it doesn't matter too much if they're different thicknesses, I used double and 4 ply.
Chain 70 stitches and then work approx. sixteen rows of double crochet (you need enough to stretch around the hanger), changing colour on each row. The cover needs to be quite snug so that it doesn't droop of the ends.
When you've finished, poke the hook through the centre of the cover and stitch the cover in place from one end, along the bottom, to the other end.
To cover the hook, take two strands of wool and wind it from the bottom of the hook up to the top and back again, fastening off the ends at the bottom of the hook. You could also add a couple of pom-poms around the neck of the hook. I made some lovely little ones using a fork. There are instructions on this site with the great name Bored Blog Almighty!
You could knock one of these up in a night or two and I know I'd be pleased if you gave me one.
It's all very exciting at the moment. Firstly we are mentioned in Molly Makes this month. Look, there we are, you can even catch a glimpse of what we look like.
For those of you who haven't seen Molly Makes, it is a fairly new magazine, packed with information about craft, things to make and the latest blogs and exhibitions. I almost get panicky when I read it, there's so much going on and so little time. On the same page as us there is a bit about a new shop in Islington called Ray Stitch. I want to go there, badly. You can check out all their wares and have a coffee at the same time.
I might get the chance to go this weekend because I am going to London to visit the Renegade Craft Fair. In case you haven't heard of Renegade Handmade, they are a group of people, based in Chicago, that started showcasing the work of DIY crafters in Chicago in 2003. Since then they have held fairs across America and they have chosen to visit London this weekend! They hand pick which designers and crafts people are going to show, so you get the see the cream of the crop (you can see who is going to be there here). I am so excited. It feels like the craft equivalent of the Rolling Stones are rocking into town. Hmm, what would that look like? If there is any possibility for you to visit it, you should. It feels like a little bit of craft history. OK enough. I finally have an iphone so I'll take lots of pictures, collect lots of cards and share it with you when I get back. Only three sleeps to go.
Emma, Louisa and I have often talked about getting a way for a weekend together but have never actually managed it. This weekend we seized the opportunity that the late October sunshine provided and headed to nearby Bently Wild Fowl Park. Here in the middle of an empty field stands a glamped up shepherds hut.
Its impecabble interior made it the perfect MBC retreat.
Impressed and giggly at managing to engineer a night with no children and no distractions we planned so much crafting fun. Emma and I both took our knitting - we planned to crack a simple babies booties pattern, whilst write publicity material for a friends new business. However, like all good crafters we got distracted. When Lou arrived brandishing wine and chocolate all good intentions quickly evaporated.
We had a wonderful time snuggled up in our den. We read glossy mags and discussed the pros and cons of being Katie Price!
As for making - thanks must go to Lou for creating an excellent fire and our morning hangovers quickly abated when we spotted a bumper crop of sloe berries, ripe for picking and just in time for making sloe gin in time for Christmas.
I guess it just goes to show that when you make time, you can quickly fill it with fun x
I wanted this summer to be different. I wanted to move more slowly, invite less activity and distill our days to bare necessity - we fed all the lovely bodies that appear at different times from the mattresses pulled room to room and out into tents in the garden, lit fires inside and out, almost every day and ate under the trees.
We pulled out hideous kitchen units and I started to teach myself to bake and with this gorgeous book,
trained the sweet peas,
read The Guernsey Literary And Potatoe Peel Pie Society, The Day to Day Life of Albert Hastings, Breath by Tim Winton and anything by Mary Oliver I could get my hands on, danced wildly with people we love, painted our toe nails, walked the dogs, stopped to listen to the green and growing things, looked for the barn owl that swoops through the fields at the back of the house, idly combed flea markets for treasures for our Bon Bons, and made the simplest things - cinamon rolls, pom poms from tissue paper and plastic bags to take camping
and crocheted bunting.
It looks girly but the green and gold lame (I don't know how to insert the accent) tone it down a bit. Next step, gold lame skull and cross bones bunting from Emma's pattern here at Steel and Stitch and moving all my beads, thread, fabric, bones, driftwood and note books up to a lovely shed in the garden.
We have been very busy recently preparing for the launch of our Make believe Bon Bons.
Bon Bons are a cross between a pass the parcel and a pinata but much more exciting than either. Each ball is made up of a rainbow of paper streamers wrapped around a central gift. Each streamer has a small present hidden with in it - something hand made, vintage, gorgeously kitch or tasty. In America they call them Surprise Balls.
The earliest evidence of surprise balls were found in the Native American culture. Traditionally, it was common practice to tell the history of one’s life with this unique ball. The first layer represented birth and for each event in life, another layer and memento was added.They also used them to recordjourneys. Treasures from the trip (a feather, a special stone) were collected and wrapped into a ball using leaves and twine. As the ball was unravelled, the story of the journey was told.
In the 1950’s, surprise balls became fashionable in America. They became less popular in the 1960’s and disappeared altogether until recently when they have begun to make a reappearance.
Lou and I made one for Kelly's birthday. We collected all sorts of tiny treasures, an old dance card, a handbag-sized pack of pretty playing cards, a bright red nail varnish, a crystal necklace. She was so surprised by it, it took nearly half an hour for her to unwrap it.
We had a brilliant time making it and have decided to go into production. We are going to sell them on our website once we have set up our shop. You will be able to also buy them at Wickle, in Lewes. So far, we've made them for women and for children.
The children's one will have twenty four presents in it so that it can be used as an alternative advent calendar. You can use each day's streamer to decorate your room!
We have a list as long as your arm of all the different types of Bon Bon we could do. So watch this space!
In September we'll be holding classes for those of you who want to make your own.
This weekend we packed up the car and headed to the WOMAD festival in Wilstshire.
Thankfully, as I am a fair weather camper, the sun was shining and and we were able to amble around the fields and soak up the music and friendly atmosphere.
Early on Saturday I took my lovely boy to the children's field where we spent the morning making tiger masks from paper plates. I was massively inspired by The Forest Bus who are a charity that takes a cool customised bus into hard to reach communities, teaching craft and using play therapy to energise children and youths.
Elsewhere we saw great examples of recycled craft. Lots of pom-poms made from carrier bags lined the gates and an enormous skull - created from the ends of plastic bottles that had material stretched over them was a particular favourite.
Elsewhere, Oxfam were doing a roaring trade on their alteration service. A genius idea where they sold high end, second hand clothes with a £5 per item alteration charge. The result was glamorous festival goers and a tidy sum for charity - everyone was a winner.
I also liked the use of old fabric to create windsocks. Pegged out on a washing line, they danced to the music in the summer breeze. The simple sight of them lifted my heart and made me feel very happy indeed.
Enjoy your summer and seek out your making inspiration wherever you can.
Regular readers of the Make Believe blog will realise that I rarely write entries. Despite being a founder of MBC, I leave much of the actual making to my skilful friends Lou and Emma and delight in reading here about their making discoveries. This wet weekend though I too had a special making moment.
The day started when I put my rain coat on, sank my hand in the pocket to discover a champagne cork and two pound coins. I don’t wear my rain coat often – even in a storm I try to pretend it’s not raining– and I don’t have a clue how that treasure made its way into my pocket. Anyhow on a wet day that would challenge anyone’s good mood, it was a fine find and it made me smile.
With my new found wealth I went forth to the Needlemakers in Lewes and bought some old sheet music. Returning home, my beautiful son and I set about collecting favourite pictures and scraps of paper from round the house and together we set too with a borrowed badge machine.
For about two hours we merrily experimented with old bits of newspaper, Paris Metro maps and of course the sheet music. Pretty soon we had a production line going – I cut the paper shapes out , he pulled the lever on the badge machine and then I fitted the pin. The rain continued to fall and we continued to chat and create our own treasures.
Just as we were coming to the end of the afternoon the sun decided to make an appearance. We were heading off to Brighton that evening to see a friend sing and, not trusting the weather, we popped our damp rain coats back on. This time though we both sported new badges that made us smile – we giggled about being in a secret club – and felt proud to display our home made wears.
Later that evening a friend read our badges and laughed, for pinned to our raincoats we wore little badges that were the antidote to the rain as they proudly proclaimed, “My other coat’s a jacket.” KS x
I braved the rain yesterday and took a train and a bus to Camberwell to visit New Gallery Jumble, the eco friendly jumble sale/café/art/craft happening I mentioned in my last post. It was held just around the corner from a basement flat that I had lived in when I'd first (finally) left college. It was like stepping back in time because all the people at NGJ were the age I was when I'd lived there and Camberwell hasn't changed a bit. I took my friend to a café that my husband and I used to go to for a Sunday breakfast treat. It's name had changed but that was all. The same vegetable shop was there and the bread shop. It was only me that had aged. Is Camberwell some spooky Dorian Gray type attic?
Anyway, I enjoyed my visit to New Gallery Jumble. Sadly I think that the rain had put folks of coming which meant I had the pick of the activities there. So while an illustrator called Kraggy painted a tote bag 'live' for me I sat down and made a creature for my son (who has named him Bob). I also bought a great print which you can see in the second picture down to the right of Tatiana's head, the one with all the heads on it. I did stop short at making a flower wreath for my hair. New Gallery Jumble is run by Tatiana Woolrych and started as a college project. I gather that it is usually buzzing and I know that if I was my younger self and still living around the corner I'd make it a regular haunt. One thing in Camberwell has changed. The art students are a lot more sorted than I was.
I am flattered that New Gallery Jumble 'likes' us on Facebook. Deep down I know that it's about publicity, but I had a look at them and they are pretty cool so I'm chuffed. I think I might 'like' them back. They are a market where you can 'shop with a clear conscience'. It's all about up-cycling, re-purposing, craft and second hand and it happens in Camberwell on the 3rd Saturday in the month. I love their slogan:
USE IT UP. WEAR IT OUT. MAKE IT DO. OR DO WITH OUT.
They are holding one this Saturday and I think I might try and go.
A few posts ago I rashly promised to make ALL my Christmas presents. How is it going? Well the hardest thing of all is deciding what to make for everyone. The danger is making something purely for the fact that it's a hand made present. Not everyone likes hand made things. I once made lots of lovely covered coat-hangers (which I love) and no one commented! Were they so well made that people thought they were shop bought? I think I might buy this month's edition of Molly Makes for a bit of inspiration. May be I'll start writing a list...
I have made one thing so far, of which I'm proud:
(He's an Ewok)
I found him on the inspiring blog of Lucy Ravenscar who has successfully managed to combine her interests with those of her sons' and my son's too, which is no mean feat, take it from me. You can buy the pattern for the Ewok and other Star Wars characters from Lucy's Etsy shop.
Following the themes of crochet and the interest of small boys, I am in the middle of making an Adipose which I found on a great site called By Midknight via a very useful site called Free Amigurumi Patterns that does what it says on the tin.
This spring we planted vegetables. Finally. Just a few. And today, after only a few short weeks, my daughter and I brought salad to the table. From our garden. It felt miraculous. LOOK at those lettuce. Just call me Mrs McGregor.
Everything is so willing to grow with just a little attention. It made me think about how living creatively is easier than we imagine - a packet of seeds or a bit of wool, a hook and a few stolen minutes here and there makes all the difference.
We are about to start another set of monthly craft evenings at Wickle and this is our first one, which I think is a cracker. Bunting is the perfect thing to make when you are learning to crochet, it's easy, quick and so darn tasty. Lou and I did lots of research into crocheting bunting and in the end it was my neighbour who showed me how she makes it. She seems to be a natural at making stuff and she learnt how to crochet off the internet. The internet teacher failed to tell her that you have to work a chain at the end of each row to allow for the height of the stitch. She soon discovered that if you don't do this the sides gradually taper inwards and lo, her bunting pattern was born. So thank you Anna. You can find details of our class here.
Along the way we discovered this wonderful pirate bunting made by a crochet genius and posted on her blog Stitch and Steel. She is very generous and shares her patterns. I sent it to Lou because she's a skull fan and it was a race to see who could make one first!
I sewed one on my boy's blanket before he went to camp.
What is even more exciting is that the crochet genius lives just down the coast from us and we're going to hook up (!!) and do something together. Exciting.
Emma x (I think Lou might want to talk about the bunting too)