It would be gauche for me to say that this is the best sweater in the world that has ever existed, but look at it! It is full of all the joy that knitting a sweater should be. Its simple, colourful wide bands of colour …
Here’s a fantastic project that you can do with your toddler or guide an older child to complete themselves that involves minimal cost and effort to prepare. The idea for this project came about whilst we were making the Tissue Paper Sun-Catcher Butterfly, and the …
There have probably never been more photographs taken on a day-to-day basis than as we snap away today. Almost every person has a good quality camera in their pocket pretty much all day, every day. Digital photography has freed us of the nervousness of ‘wasting’ precious film on failed shots, so we can experiment more. Instagram, Facebook and similar social media sites allow us to share our pictures instantly so we can enjoy seeing all the little moments from the latest yarn being spun, or pattern being knit, to a toddler’s first trip to the beach and first ever sandcastle. Awwww!
In our house we also have a Google Chromecast, because we view all of our TV on-demand. This also means that all of our 8,000 family photographs display at random between programs on the TV, so we get to look back through fantastic memories quite often. However, there is nothing quite so special as having a few special photographs on the wall.
Back in the early years BC (Before Child) our living room was very neutral in tone. Pale wash ash furniture, cream walls, brown sofa. Grown up and boring. We had a multi-aperture frame bought for us as one of a few gifts from work for our wedding, which held our wedding photos. It was simple and pretty, plain white, and matched our decor perfectly. When we got married it held our favourite wedding photos, special moments from our Most Special Day BC.
Now in the years AD (Anno Darwini) the living room is the main space for family. It is filled with rainbows. A huge canvas of Darwin in a rainbow sweater I knitted, huge rainbow cushions I have crocheted, rainbow floor rugs, posters, bunting, quilts, a 4ft wide rainbow inflatable that hangs from the ceiling, and of course the twenty million brightly coloured toys that belong to toddlers.
The frame of our wedding photos has remained the same, though. Hung in the same spot in the same frame, because those memories and what it represents as the start of our family and the day we started to share a name to share further with our little boy are among the most precious.
Whilst visiting Russell’s grandfather last week I was thinking about our wedding photos and how to celebrate our happiness as a family around not just our wedding but all the loving moments since, when I happened upon a couple of multi-aperture frames in a store in Grandad’s home town. I bought them there and then and decided that we would have a rainbow wall of frames. I wasn’t sure how I was going to achieve this, but paint would be involved.
The frame that we already had was moulded plastic, and I’ve had mixed success painting various plastics in the past, so I asked around as to what materials to use on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Because people are lovely, I was given plenty of advice with which to experiment, and found that a small leftover jar of chalky emulsion, plus £1 pots of normal household emulsion from wilkos, tinted different colours using a cheap £1 set of acrylic paints from The Works, came out brilliantly. I think the success hinged more on deciding to ‘sponge’ rather than paint the colours on, especially with the first coat which gave the second coat something to stick to, with no bare spots caused by brush strokes. I used a child’s small sponge-tipped paintbrush dabber. You can buy about 10 for £1 in the kids crafts section of many shops. It’d be a good idea to get a pack of ten so you weren’t having to wash it out between each colour, but I pinched on from Darwin’s art drawer and so had no choice (because I was too impatient to wait and buy more).
I used a dabbing motion to sponge a first coat on, and a fine paintbrush to paint the join lines where one section of frame met another. I applied a second coat the same way and the finish was flawless. The end product felt fairly robust as far as the paint finish was concerned, and the paint was not chipping or scratching as I moved the frames about, but to help increase the longevity I gave the frame a final coat with a lacquer spray (£4.50 from Wilkos), though I had to order it to be delivered to store as they have stopped stocking it in our branch (there are alternatives in any craft shop, though). This did perhaps darken the paint down a shade, maybe two for some colours, so that may be worth considering when applying the colour coats if you are looking to match something in your home. If you are unsure, test a patch on the reverse of the frame.
I absolutely love the wall of photos, and now only wish I had bought a few more frames. It’s such a bright zing of colour along one of the more plain walls, and it is bold without being imposing as the colours are all so sunny. I went for ‘bright pastels’ for the most part, and added just a touch more depth of colour to a few. Really, I just went with whatever colour I fancied mixing next and tried not to overthink it.
Hopefully, as our memories grow in number, so will this wall. We hope to take some proper photos with friends and family in time, and add to this wall, to remember special days out and experiences as well as special occasions that we have lived and snapshots of our little boy growing up and changing, hopefully always surrounded by rainbows.
I have finished plying my most recent skein of handspun. A 3-ply skein weighing 155g and 400m in length, this was my attempt at spinning something a bit heavier than my usual spinning output. Most of the general tips I have seen on spinning a …
I haven’t spun in a long while. I’ve spun on and off for the better part of ten years, first on spindles and then I later bought myself a spinning wheel as a congratulations to myself for persisting. It was one of my more symbolic purchases along with my first trilobite as both were things I had harboured dreams of owning but often didn’t think I would ever have. I would knit more often than spin so it seemed an extravagance, but it was wonderful knowing that I could spin and make yarn that I would cherish knitting any time I wanted. And I have made what I think are a few nice skeins of yarn both on the spindle and on my wheel.
I don’t know if I spin ‘correctly’. I am sure that I do not spin in the best and most widely recognised style, because I somehow have got to this point without ever actually seeing another person spin either in real life or on a video, or even having read a book or website on the subject. I was sent my first spindle by a friend many years ago and sort of figured that out: how to set it spinning and pull out a fine sliver of fibre whilst it was going, to twist and then wind onto the spindle.
When I bought my wheel I set my husband to the task of putting it together, and once I worked out which each bit did and how to attach the fibre to the bobbin, I just sort of migrated and adapted what I had learned on the spindle. I probably have a lot that I could learn and improve on, but I also create yarn that I do enjoy knitting with, which is what I want for now. I would like to learn to spin a heavier ply as I seem stuck at one particular ply weight, and if anything prompts me to learn a bit more and seek help it will likely be that.
But I have not done any spinning for a while now. When I was pregnant I did not carry gracefully or comfortably, and my baby was training as whatever the solo version of a synchronised swimmer might be. Arms, legs and bony backside jutting out everywhere. His bum was so bony that one midwife we saw during a late pregnancy check up confused it with his head. It’s a problem we still experience today.
When the screaming pink wrinkly thing came into the world there was a brief time when I took spinning back up again, and I started spinning some fibre I bought whilst pregnant, but the period of time when a baby is content to lay still and look up to you with adoring eyes is all too short, and soon enough he was off wearing at the knees of his sleepsuits, crawling to explore all of the things he could touch, and so the wheel was moved to another room of the house.
Only these past few days have I told myself it’s really not that much work asking my husband to bring the wheel in from the other room, and I have started spinning up three plies of yarn from a set of Hilltop Cloud Rainbow Sprinkles. To mitigate the fact that I can only seem to spin one weight and would like to knit a slightly thicker yarn, I have decided to spin this selection of fibre up as a 3-ply yarn.
The set consists of 160g of fibre made up of 20g each of eight colours: white, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and charcoal. I wanted the skein to move through the shades in that order, but I also wanted to stagger the transitions slightly, so I split each of the six spectrum colours into three equal sections (by eye, I don’t spin consistently enough to make precise fibre splitting advantageous) and the white and charcoal sections I split to be purposefully unequal. I started by splitting the white skeins into three equal(ish) sections, then I split one of those sections in half and added one of those halves to one of the other sections. Essentially (if my maths is right), one of the sections of white fibre is ¹â„â‚† of the total, one is ²â„â‚† and the other ³â„â‚† (or â…™, â…“ and ½). By adjusting the amount of white yarn spun onto each bobbin hopefully each of the colours that follows afterwards will be similarly staggered, and I will reverse the proportional split when ending with the charcoal yarn to give a roughly equal total spun length on each bobbin.
Like pretty much everything else I am just guessing at what I am doing here, so it might not work at all, but if luck is on my side I may have something interesting result from this spinning experiment soon, and then I’ll just have to think up a suitable project.
May the new year continue to bring creativity and enjoyment!