Monday, 30 April 2012

Take one ball of sock yarn, a pair of .....

....... ( in 'old money' ) size 14 needles (I never remember the modern sizes) and ....... You'll have to scroll to the bottom of this post to find out more. It would be good if you had time for a quick read on the way!

Having wandered through the streets of Much Wenlock we retraced our steps. I wasn't allowed back into the wool shop - I will definitely find an excuse to call again though! We were parked in a disused quarry on the top of Wenlock Edge. Quarrying is still continuing a little further along but not on the 'front face' of the edge - so as not to spoil the views. Well-signed paths lead us along old lanes - the varied hedgerows on tall banks suggesting their age - then along the top of the 'Edge' and back in a loop. There was much evidence of old quarries and what we assume to be the remains of lime kilns. From the top of the ridge, the cooling towers of the power station at Iron Bridge are clearly visible. This is a lovely walk in a pretty and rural environment. We wondered how much noise would have carried from the Iron Bridge Gorge in centuries past - I imagine steam hammers and other frighteningly large metal working machines make an incredible noise and there would have been no background hum of traffic struggling up the Edge in low gear to deaden the effect.

The quarry in which we had parked was full of cowslips - unfortunately it was quite breezy and they were dancing around a little too much for a good photo. It was a lovely picnic spot though!


..... and now to the sock yarn. One of my purchases from the wool shop at Much Wenlock. I like to use self-patterning sock yarn. It makes me experiment with colour combinations which I might not otherwise choose and I like the way one colour blends into the next - an effect which can't be replicated  by knitting stripes of individual colours - at least not without some fiddly splicing! I have knitted two strips in the yarn - both destined to be embroidered cuffs. The first knitted along from one narrow edge, the other knitted up from one wide edge. I think the photo explains more clearly what I mean:

The same yarn, but tow very different results. My inclination is to embroider and embellish the 'knitted-along' one - with broader stripes, entirely in creams and ivory. My initial plans for the 'knitted-up' one - with much narrower stripes is to accentuate the lovely colours with bright trimming, threads and yarns.

I'll show you the results over the next few days.

Other projects for the next few weeks include more needle cases, featuring floral embroideries on felted backgrounds produced by felting many yarns on the embellisher machine - to replace the daffodil design which recently sold.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Much Wenlock .....

.... a beautiful little market town, perched on top of Wenlock Edge, a few miles from Ironbridge and credited as the birth place of the Modern Olympic Games. In common with many other Shropshire market towns, it has very pretty and varied architecture. Camping nearby, as a convenient point from which to visit the Ironbridge museums. we were unaware that our visit was to coincide with the Much Wenlock Poetry Festival.

We happened across this display of a knitted poem, or should that be a display of a poem in knitting, or a knitted display of a poem or ...... anyway here it is:

A day, which originally did not have a 'plan of its own' but was just a conclusion to the week end of our Ironbridge visit was developing an enjoyable purpose of its own. Much Wenlock has much to recommend it - including a lovely wool shop which `i couldn't resist peeping into and bought some lovely Colinette yarns and some hand dyed fibres for felting. Having bought ice creams, we found a convenient bench - an adjacent planter was labelled 'community herb garden - please feel free to pick herbs for your own use'. We thought this initiative was an excellent idea - it seemed to sum up our impressions of Much Wenlock.


Its a miserable day here today, and I'm trying to catch up on some filing, both household and on-line as I try to catch up on the posting of Lynwoodcrafts photos on Flickr, Facebook and Google+.

This photo of a recently sold needlebook has been posted on Google+

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

A restful day...

... a little too much stitching was undertaken yesterday! I didn't think that was possible!! I finished a bag which has been niggling away in my mind for some time. I first made a 'prototype' a couple of years ago and didn't like the shape - that one was entirely felt pieces and, otherwise, a more traditional example of crazy patchwork. I have kept it as a reminder of 'things I wanted to change' - but did not like it enough to use it. The next version - which I have used occasionally, was a different shape and traditional crazy patchwork. Then the arrival of my embellisher machine. Such a wonderful toy - er .. I mean piece of equipment. Sorry - I've lost my thread now - just answered the door to the postman - (why has my son left a very smelly pair of wet boots in the porch and why didn't I find them before someone called?)- a delivery of more lovely felt (recycled from plastic bottles and bought from The Felted Rainbow's Folksy shop). This felt makes an ideal backing for the embellisher. Now I'm itching to clear the table and set the machine up again. Perhaps a bookmark or an embroidered cuff today.

Yesterday's bag - entirely hand-stitched - I won't be doing much without a thimble today! I should have given in and searched it out yesterday!!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Scented Candles?

I have come to associate candles with a gentle light, pleasant perfume ( I don't like artificial scents but we do use tea-lights to diffuse essential oils) and generally relaxation. Of course, I recognise that, in the past, they were an essential, and often the only, form of artificial lighting. Thinking, perhaps, of beeswax, whilst knowing that many candles were produced from tallow - I had thought of the production process as being very similar to the repetitive dipping and cooling that we associate with the small scale production of hand made candles from paraffin wax.

The candle maker at Blists Hills took great delight in dispersing such pleasant thoughts. Now producing only paraffin wax candles, for Health and Safety reasons, he explained the Victorian process of candle making. Beeswax was for the rich folk only. The wax was far more valuable for other purposes - polish etc. Commonly, candles were produced from tallow. Not having thought about this much, I probably realised that tallow was obtained by the 'boiling up' or rendering of carcasses. I would have guessed that this was a by-product of the butchers or perhaps the tannery. I overlooked the fact that the Victorian's ate all but the 'squeak' of the pig and presumably other animals - probably not much left for candles there then!

The source of tallow was usually animal carcasses not fit for human consumption - and the Victorian's were less fussy than we are!! There may have been several reasons for this unsuitability for the food chain - animals having died from natural causes and remained undetected where they fell in the fields being amongst them. By the time they reached the candle makers, they were not a pleasant 'raw' ingredient. Had they then been processed immediately it would have been bad enough, but, apparently, they were stored on the first floor, above the production space on the ground floor, until needed. Brought down when required, to be boiled in large vats, the material was then, at least, reasonably sterilised. The vats were adjacent to the 'dipping tanks' and in full view of the customer's counter! The tallow, or fats, were scooped from the surface of the vats - the residue was scooped out and pressed, in a machine at the rear of the shop, into 'bricks' to be used as pig food. No wonder paraffin wax, with its attendant fire safety risks, is considered less of a health and safety hazard than the Victorian alternatives.!

When burned, the candles did not create a pleasant perfume!!!!


The above post has probably not been the most sensible introduction to a short promotional message. I hope I have carried some readers with me to this point! I love to use vintage materials in my work. I feel a privilege which comes of knowing that my items have an inherent 'uniqueness', which is nothing to do with the way in which I have interpreted them but comes with them from their source and can never be repeated. This quality may come merely from age - my latest items contain fabrics which I obtained as remnants almost 40 years ago! Perhaps the most prized materials are those which have been either created or modified by nature. Shells, broken and worn by the sea, and man-made glass and pottery -worked by the sea against pebbles into such special treasures. The backgrounds for these brooches have been 'felted' and distressed by using an embellisher machine, the focal designs have been created from sea glass, sea pottery and shells - the first of many to come - each one absolutely unique!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

My son's favourite shop....

.... or it would be - if the contents were more modern. The cycle shop at Blists Hill Victorian town.

This was the first shop which we peered into. After a potter along the high street we ate a packed lunch on the bank of a canal facing the tileworks. We were entertained by some ducks and some huge fish. My son was distracted by the operation of winding gear nearby and was trying to work out whether it was actually lifting anything, whilst my husband was keen to visit the photographer's. I had spied several displays of vintage signs which I wanted photos of. A great choice of a day out - we all found something to interest us.

The pharmacy was fascinating. The counters displayed many boxes and tins. Blackcurrant pastel tins were familiar. I have a couple - one in which my Dad kept upholstery needles (I'm not sure why he had them - unless it was for car upholstery), and another in which I remember stamp hinges being kept. Bone-handled tooth brushes, glycerine, various creams and potions and a display of hand-made soap - lavender, jasmine, water lilly (I'd not encountered that perfume before) and my favourite (I bought a bar) rose. The electric shock machine was more than a little questionable. We could have spent an hour or so in their but there was so much more to see.


Today's listings:

At Folksy:

At WowThankYou:

At Etsy:

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Victorian Town - Ironbridge

Some years ago, when our children were much younger, we purchased 'passport type' tickets for the Ironbridge Gorge museums. We visited some of the smaller sites - our younger children enjoyed making clay flowers at the china museum, had fun at the tile museum and visited the general, and traditional museum, when they were quite small and couldn't really interact with any museum! We left the main outdoor site at Blists Hill since we thought it would be too much for them. In recent years we have been trying to find a suitable week end to take advantage of our remaining tickets. Our daughter is not really interested in industrial history, and, since she was away for the week-end on a school trip, we took the opportunity to take our son with us.

The site is structured as a Victorian town - suitable buildings having been re-located from the surrounding area and grouped together on a manageable site. With much to see, we arrived about mid day, left as the museum was closing at about 6 pm and didn't quite succeed in seeing all the exhibits - although I for one had completely run out of energy.

This first batch of photos shows you the 'Victorian street' and some of the commercial buildings:

Businesses in the HIgh Street included, a photogapher, haberdasher, pharmacy ( I think featured in the 'Victorian Pharmacy' TV series), a general grocers, a bicycle shop, bakers, locksmiths and a traditional fish and chip shop. I did not manage to take any photos inside the haberdashers, but was fascinated to see that I recognised many of the small items in the display case - some inherited from a great aunt and my grandmother. However, I failed to identify the 'page turner' and 'glove finger stretcher'. There were some beautiful examples of hand made lace. Crimped and trimmed bonnets, gents tweed hats, lavender bags and embroidered handkerchiefs were available for sale. Some materials were also for sale and I bought a length of muslin.

The final photo shows the candle makers - more about this tomorrow.


A trio of brooches from me today - one for each of my main shops.

At Folksy:

At Etsy:

at WowThankYou:

I had made a series of ribbon patchworks, backed by quite a thick felting. Originally intended for cuffs, I decided they were too thick and inflexible and made some cuffs constructed on fleece, which worked much better. I re-discovered the patchwork pieces and decide they would make good brooch backgrounds. I hope you like them!

Monday, 16 April 2012

Wenlock Edge and Ironbridge

A lovely week end was spent staying on a pretty campsite just beneath Wenlock Edge, visiting Much Wenlock, and Ironbridge. History, heritage, beautiful scenery, an unexpected opprtunity to stock up on some craft materials and many photos for inspiration. Remaining blogs this week will probably focus on Ironbridge and, in particular, the Victorian Town Museum, towards the end of the week I'll move on to Much Wenlock and a lovely walk along Wenlock Edge. I need a little time to process the photos.


These are today's listings at three of Lynwoodcrafts shops:

A knitted purse for Lynwoodcrafts' Folksy shop:

A woven needlebook for Lynwoodcrafts at Etsy:

and a knitted and embroidered needlebook for Lynwoodcrafts at WowThankYou:

Friday, 13 April 2012

Creation or Production?

Items from Lynwoodcrafts are unique. Each item is individually made and no two are ever the same. I hope the variety gives interest to my shops. I hope to look afresh at everything I make and hope that the individuality of items helps to maintain a high standard. I'm not sure that I could continue with a few repeated designs without losing an interest in my 'products'.

However, my items are products! I greatly enjoy embroidery and love to combine embroidered designs with other needlework skills. I get pleasure from showing people my designs and I love to have your comments. I must try to remember, though, that my items are 'for sale' and that it is a good idea to be reasonably efficient with my time in order to see some profit.

I hope I have achieved this by listing these two brooches. The 'same design' but on different backgrounds - produced from the same piece of hand-made felt, but cut from different parts of the pattern.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Re-visiting earlier designs

.... 'there is nothing new under the sun'  - one of my Grandmother's well-used expressions. Whilst knitting the little purse, having recalled a shape I had used for a shoulder bag, the shoulder bag and one or two of its  siblings came to mind - or at least the merits of the various yarns used did. Information retrieval in my memory seems to work in strange ways. Other folks find themselves remembering events/times from smells, sounds... as do I. I also find the tactile experience of knitting - yarn that 'splits' annoyingly and needs great care, those yarns which are not evenly spun, those that work well on 'finer than recommended' needles - but make my fingers ache....... Remembering the knitting of several bags, but not their finishing, I rummaged around in a blanket chest - didn't find them but did find some almost-finished crazy patchwork. Then found the bags in another bag, near my yarn horde. Mused for a while about how to embroider them, and ended up knitting a new shape, which better leant itself to the embroidery design I had in mind.

This was listed at Etsy yesterday, now - what shall I do with that crazy patchwork and how shall I finish those other bags?

Monday, 9 April 2012

This was beautiful yarn...

.... and I wanted to knit something from it. It feels lovely and the colours are equally soft and gentle. It took a little while to knit - although the process was a great pleasure; then it was fulled or felted to give a closer texture and improve the strength of the item, lastly I embroidered the top - a lilac coloured rose posy to coordinated with the heather colour in the yarn. A pleasure to make, a pleasure to show you and I hope someone will find it a pleasure to use. Not exactly a cost-effective production process from my point of view but a small craft business is never just about profit.

I love this purse. I hope it will find a new home in which someone else will value it, but, if not it will continue to give me pleasure as I shall use it myself!

Inspired by this shape, and happening across some chunky wool intended for felting, I spent much of yesterday knitting a small shoulder bag. A 'stretched' version of the same pouch shape. The top is finished with a reversed stocking stitch roll just beneath which I intend to embroider a garland of roses - another very pleasurable project which I hope to show you in a few days!

Sunday, 8 April 2012

New Beginnings.

I am not very 'green fingered'. I used to be a little better and had a very large collection of African violets which I enjoyed propagating. I think my problem arose from the building of our conservatory. In some ways it seemed the correct place to grow in-door plants and was certainly somewhere that I hoped to display them. In reality, although in shade from mid-day onwards, it is often too hot and in the winter, too cold, and probably most significantly, a little too out-of-sight. A couple of hardy vines are persisting but some other favourites have given up.

Orchids are a little different. Very fussy in some respects, and certainly not lovers of too much sun, however, they do prefer a little neglect and can certainly be killed off by too much attention. My husband occasionally treats me to a flowering orchid plant. The flowers last for ages and are good value in that respect. We had long given up hope of any of them returning to flower - most have not survived long enough.

Consequently, I was thrilled to find this flower spike. Goodness knows how the poor plant has produced it but I shall leave well alone until the flowering is over:


Today's listing at Etsy:

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Learning Styles

Our house is not large enough at present. My son is approaching his final 'A' level exams and his sister, in year 10, is begining GCSEs.

Our son learns best by 'doing', reasonably well by seeing or reading and not at all well be hearing - mainly because he seldom listens! His sister loves art and music and to that extent learns by 'doing', but she learns effectively by reading and listening too. My son, when he is reading, needs perfect quiet and no distractions. His sister needs to practice the flute, sax AND drum kit! If we go away in our camper van for the weekend, our daughter takes books with her and does homework whilst we cook supper. She has been known to learn/practice her Welsh aural whilst travelling home - from a univesity open day for her brother - who did no work at all while we were there. Her brother seems unable/unwilling to study in the camper van or his tent and makes the week-end off our fault for insisting upon him going with us.

Our daughter will be disappointed with anything less than an 'A' in any of her subjects. Her brother would have been disappointed at GCSE with less than an A in maths or sciences but wasn't particularly bothered about anything else. His aim at 'A' level seems to be to hope for the grades required by uni rather than aim to do his best. Although in some ways their results days will come all too soon, in other ways I'm afraid it will seem like a long summer - for us at least!


Newly listed at Lynwoodcrafts' Folksy shop:

Friday, 6 April 2012

Inspiration from the coast

I just have three photos left to show you from last week end. We have many primroses in the hedgerows near here. I was surprised to see this one clinging to the beach side - complete with grains of sand:

There were several delicate violets

This lichen-covered rock will be added to my 'textures file'


A chaotic day yesterday - it was almost midnight when I finished stitching this cuff:

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Snow and Gales

Altogether more than a 'plum blossom winter' usually brings. I was kept awake by the snow last night or at least by the thought of it. I heard a car skidding and looked out to see what was going on. Having seen the amount of snow that was falling I spent the next couple of hours willing it to stop and wondering how much damage would be done to the garden. The last time this happened in April we lost the fruit blossom. Anyway it had, thankfully turned to rain by this morning and most has been washed away here. Our view of the hills around Llangollen tells a different story!

I had planned to go to Chester to collect my daughter's saxophone from service, dropping my son off at the Scout campsite on the way and picking him up on the way back. He intended  to help with some maintenance work on the climbing tower. The snow and wind defeated his plans. I collected the sax anyway and, wanting to get as much use out of the petrol as possible wandered round a few shops. I'm not really keen on shopping centres, high streets in traditional market towns, with independent shops, are a different matter. However the wish to see benefit for fuel-spend served me well today. The cheap book shop, seen in every town centre, had a beautiful book of felted scarves and wraps for the sum of 99p. All the designs which I sell are my own, but I love to see other peoples work and learn new techniques. One item was made by felting mohair yarn in a way which I had not come across before. I can't wait to have a go. Unfortunately, I am supposed to take son to buy revision books later, then take his sister and three friends home, and I have something else to finish first. Maybe tomorrow. I'll show you the results if it works.

It seems a limestone carrier has gone aground at Llandulas in heavy storms. We know that stretch of coast very well. Industrial and with the A55 and Holyhead rail line nearby it is not the prettiest stretch. However, there is a long distance cycle track in both directions along the coast and I have often gathered drift wood pieces. Most worryingly, we have often watched seals and there are many sea birds to watch and kingfishers in a small river which enters the sea nearby. There is now a fear of pollution from the ship's fuel tanks - I hope there may be some way it can be averted!


Today's listings:

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

A beach-side garden

The pub, and a surrounding cluster of cottages, are almost on the beach at Morfa Nefyn. A stone wall and a narrow path are all that separates the pub from the sand. At risk from occasional invasion by the sea, and exposed to the sea air, gardening must be a challenge. I loved this pretty collection of potted plants:

That last photo looks a little wonky. I was sitting balanced on the sea wall with a drink in one hand at the time - whilst trying to ignore a lovely golden retriever - very excited to be on her first trip to the seaside and, for some reason, fascinated by the camera - so perhaps its no wonder its not quite straight.


Newly listed at Lynwoodcrafts at Etsy:

This embroidered barrette will shortly appear at Lynwoodcrafts Folksy shop: