Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Rabbit Girl

The Ruthin Craft Centre in Denbighshire, North Wales is one of my favourite places. Set in the vale of Clywd, there is always some interesting work and you can see the beautiful Clywdian range from the gallery. Plus, they have a great cafe. I first came across the work of Julie Arkell there some years ago. 

What, or who were these bewitching creatures? They were half-rabbit and half-girl, or perhaps half-horse and half-cardboard box. To me, they were folkloric and childlike, but also a tiny bit sinister. 

I could see old newspaper, handknits, fabric scraps, treasures from the shelves of a serious collector of things. I have always been a fan of serious collectors of things, so I bought her book and learned more. 

Turns out she lives not a million miles from me in London and there are some gorgeous pictures of those shelves in the book:

Terrible thing, shelf envy.

Best of all she taught courses where you could make your own creature. But as it does, life took over and I did not go on any courses run by Julie Arkell. 

Then, last December the stars aligned with the winning combination of Christmas present, offer of childcare, imminent maternity leave and a need for creative well-filling.  What a great combination.

And so it was that I went to a very fancy wool shop - Loop, in Islington, north London  - to do a course with Julie Arkell. Above are the scraps - some mine and some supplied by Julie - I used.

Julie had made some bald, naked creatures (they are solid papier mache: layers of The Guardian finished with pages from old books) then shared her patterns to sew clothes and knit headwear. 

It was strange to be working so close to another artist's vision, but I enjoyed it very much. I also enjoyed very much the high-end snacks at Loop and the chat with fellow knitters, teachers and makers.

Whilst it was nice to see if I still had it (just about) I won't be going back to two needles anytime soon. I am just too slow.

Above are all the creatures made on the day, mine is second from left.

Rabbit Girl has made herself at home around here.

I like to think she has a French provincial feel about her. She works as a waitress in a cafe in a tiny village. The cafe has sun-scorched little floral curtains. She has just taken off her faded apron to lean against the doorway for a Gauloise break. 

I appreciate it may only be me that sees that.

The fun you can have with a hot glue gun, papier mache, wool and fabric is limitless really. Amazing.

Monday, 15 April 2013

vintage boy crochet

The first of Nat's crocheted garments, but by no means the last. My policy is to get as many in as possible before they refuse to wear them. This could be coming any day so I am making hay.

I bought a massive ball of aran weight cream wool/acrylic mix a while ago, and it has so far made a blanket, a hat, and this cardigan, with barely a dent in it. 

Whisper it, but a bit of man-made fibre (woman-made is probably more accurate) is no bad thing in my book. It often wears better and washes easier. And is more affordable.

I got the pattern from an old crochet magazine. As I said in the last post, these always provide excellent comic value and the odd thing I want to make, like this. 

This little cardigan was so easy. It is made in one piece with the edges sewn at the end. A nice picot edging also makes the buttonholes. Wooden buttons seemed best, and it was done.

I have updated my Ravelry page so it's all up there, I am happy to email the pattern if anyone wants to try it. 

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Vintage man crochet.

There are so many things I love about old crochet magazines. You get pages that look like this:

And this:

And you step back in time, to a world where Woolworths still exists. Ah, I miss that shop so much.

So authentically Mexican.

Best of all, you can get ideas. I am not sure I would want Mr Year to wear this jerkin - though if he did it would be pretty cool -  but the stitch could look nice as something else.

Like a...tie. A tie like this:

It was made from some Scandinavian organic wool. So I suppose this technically makes it a tiny scarf. Also, what makes the wool organic I wonder? It was a simple scallop stitch, really rhythmic and enjoyable, although like all long thin projects it did start to get a little boring towards the end. 

But I like it. So does he, at least he seems to be enjoying it.

Perhaps a little too much.

a year above the shop

a year above the shop