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Happy New Craft!

I can’t believe another year has whizzed by and we are already in 2022! Of course not all of 2021 was plain sailing because every year has it’s ups and downs, but from a crafting perspective I feel like I’ve achieved so much. Scrolling back through my blog I’m amazed at how many craft projects I completed!

I tried several new crafts that I’ve never tried before such as natural dyeing with turmeric and marigolds, and embroidering on organza, but my top new craft of the year definitely has to be latch hook. I had planned to do an online class with Tea and Crafting, but it was delayed and in the meantime I did a latch hook from the Makerly subscription box. I absolutely loved it straight away and was so excited when the Tea and Crafting online class finally happened. It was so great to craft along with other people, even via Zoom. I made one of the biggest and most creative pieces I’ve ever made, and I’ve been latch hooking ever since.

My favourite individual piece from a kit last year had to be the wild rose and strawberry embroidery from Craftpod. There was something so wonderful about the colours and composition of the piece and it was so therapeutic to sew. Every time I look at it I feel joyful and summery.

Although I didn’t make it to any real-life workshops, I did go to several exhibitions and events throughout the year, which was very exciting following the lockdown of 2020. Starting with the Unravel Festival of Yarn I also attended exhibitions for Sophie Taeuber-Arp, David Hockney, and Paula Rego, as well as the Summer Exhibition at the RA. All of these trips were so inspiring, to see all these artists working in different mediums to achieve amazing work. I particularly liked the inclusion of textiles into the Summer Exhibition, it made me feel like my own work has worth and recognition as a true art form.

The biggest thing for me in 2021 was starting a Textiles diploma at Morley College. I began in September and the first term has been packed with so much learning. From back-to-basics techniques like drawing and the importance of conducting primary research to inform your decisions in your own work, to trying so many different textile techniques like mark making, machine embroidery, hand embroidery, felt-making, backstrap weaving, sublimation printing, screen printing, 3D structures, and shibori clamp dyeing. I’m so looking forward to starting back to school for the upcoming term. We will be focusing on fewer subjects, but more in depth including screen printing, machine knitting, and conceptual headwear. 

I can’t wait to see all the crafts I’ll do and the things I’ll learn in 2022. Wishing you all a fabulous year too!

Event

Unravel…a Festival of Yarn

Over the weekend I went to the Unravel festival, a festival of yarn hosted by Farnham Maltings, an arts and cultural centre in Surrey. It was the first major outing I’ve done in a very long time and I was a bit nervous about going on the train, mixing with other people, and even being so far away from home!

This is the first time I have been to Unravel, but it is in it’s thirteenth year and due to the impact of Covid this year they not only had an in-person event, but also a virtual event as well. The ticket was only £13 for the in-person event, but this also included access to the virtual event of talks across the weekend as well. There were workshops you could book to attend in real life too, however I decided not to do any of them as they were mainly based around knitting and crocheting and seemed to require a level of skill in these crafts already in order to participate. I love knitted and crocheted items but unfortunately those crafts just aren’t really my forte. 

My main motivation for attending the event was to hunt for new yarn to include in future latch hook projects. I was hoping to find a big range of gauges there, and was especially on the lookout for chunky and super chunky yarns, however I was a little disappointed on that front. The event was very much geared towards knitters and whilst there was a fabulous array of yarns in some amazing hand dyed colours, the main gauges on offer were 4-ply, DK, and Aran. I did see some roving but whilst that would have been great for weaving it doesn’t work quite as well for latch hook. Having said that, I couldn’t resist making some purchases! I bought a lovely trio of blue/purple colour combo DK and an Aran weight stripy brown. I haven’t quite decided what I’m going to use the brown for, but I’m excited about the DK colour combo for a wall hanging.

The Covid safety measures were well managed throughout the event. There were timed tickets to stagger the arrival of visitors, masks were required at all times inside the venue (with the exception of eating and drinking), and a one-way system was operating throughout to guide you round each of the rooms where the stalls were set up. 

From the conversations I heard as I went round sock knitting is a huge trend at the moment! I did also find Katie from the Sewcial Circle there too. I introduced myself as I have been on one of her online pom-pom workshops and we had a nice chat. It was good to see her there selling her Loome tools and other craft supplies amongst all the yarn stalls as the sheer amount of yarn was a little overwhelming! There were a few other stalls selling items like yarn bowls and magnetic needle minders too.

I don’t know if I would attend again next year as it was aimed very much at knitters and crocheters, but I did enjoy my adventurous day out and it was nice to be surrounded by people who are just as enthusiastic about craft as I am.

workshop

Tea and Crafting – Latch Hook Wall Hanging

Way back in January I attended an online latch hook workshop hosted by Jane from Tea and Crafting (https://www.teaandcrafting.co.uk/) and I’m very excited to say that my wall hanging is now complete! It’s a slow craft, but the results are extremely satisfying.

Before the workshop we were sent the materials in the post. The package included:

  • Latch hook tool
  • Canvas
  • Bamboo cane
  • Length of t-shirt yarn
  • Length of wool 
  • Knooking needle

You had to provide your own yarn to create the wall hanging, but I have a lot of half used balls left over from various projects, so I just rummaged through my basket until I found several colours that I thought went together. I did actually end up ordering a couple more balls of some of the colours because latch hook is quite a greedy craft, and isn’t really any good for using up scraps. Jane had a good tip of waiting for the sales on your favourite stockist’s website and then buying lots of balls for cheap!

During the workshop Jane talked through how to create different lengths of yarn to achieve different effects, how to use the latch hook tool and some advice about trimming at the end as well. We all started our wall hangings during the class, but it is a time-consuming process so we obviously weren’t able to see anyone’s finished pieces. My one is about 60cm long by 43cm wide (62cm including the bamboo stick) and I didn’t time myself exactly, but I estimated that it took me in the region of 32 hours to complete.

Jane also showed us how to use the knooking needle to create a stitch where you have a central piece of yarn running along with another piece of yarn hooking over the top. It’s quite a good stitch for filling in larger areas, but I didn’t use it in my final piece as I love the effect of the latch hook too much, it’s so soft!

Once I had finished my design I then had to finish the back. Jane showed us during the workshop how she had folded the canvas back behind the design and stitched it in place on her example piece. She also showed us how to stitch on the bamboo cane, however I liked the technique I learnt in a previous latch hook project where you create a channel for the stick to go through. I think it looks a bit tidier, so I left some extra canvas at the top of mine to allow for creating the channel.

Lastly is the trimming, the best part! It’s just as satisfying as trimming pom poms! As I had used different lengths of yarn for the different areas and colours I already had an idea of how it would look and it was mainly just a case of neatening up each section and trimming the tassels at the bottom. I decided to leave the beige-flecked-with-yellow section untrimmed to give it a more organic feel and provide a contrast with the rest. I’m also very pleased with the effect I managed to achieve with the yellow flecks fading out at the bottom to leave just beige and then fading back in at the top! 

I still have quite a bit of yarn left and I have ordered myself some more canvas (Jane helpfully emailed her list of preferred brands and stockists after the workshop), so I think I will make some more abstract pieces to use them up. I will definitely be on the look out for discount wool though, I’d love to make a latch hook cushion, it would be so comfy to lie on!

subscription box

Makerly – Latch Hook Wall Hanging

This latch hook wall hanging box from Makerly (https://www.makerlycrafts.com/) actually arrived in December, but I just did not have the time to squeeze any more crafts in before Christmas! I saved this one and have been doing it at a fairly leisurely pace over the last week or so. I’ve been wanting to learn latch hook for a while, I love the soft fluffy result, so I was quite excited when I opened this box up.

Included in the kit was:

  • Latch hook
  • Canvas
  • Dowel
  • Chunky wool
  • Pattern
  • Blank pattern sheet

The instructions were really easy to follow, although it did take me a few goes to get the hang of the latch hook tool, mainly I think because I had to translate it to left-handed, which I always find quite tricky. It was definitely worth the practice on a spare bit of canvas though. I decided to follow the pattern provided as I’ve never done this technique before, but now I am more confident with it I might use the spare canvas and the blank pattern sheet to create my own.

I have to say that this is a labour intensive craft! There is quite a lot of prep work, cutting all the lengths of wool before you start, and quite a lot of counting involved. The hooking itself is quite slow work, although I would imagine that the more you do, the quicker you get. I sat up at the dining table to do mine and I think I would have struggled doing it on the sofa with nothing to lean against, and I did find it gave me a bit of a backache leaning over it as I worked, which is why I took my time with this one, doing small sections at a time.

As I was working I was really worried that my pattern wouldn’t show through very well, it looked much messier than the picture and the strands of wool seemed to have a mind of their own, but as soon as I started trimming it down (the most satisfying bit) and getting rid of the uneven ends, it really started to pop out. I did have to spend some time rearranging some of the strands to get them to sit in the right place to neaten up some of the lines.

I’d actually quite like to turn it into a cushion as it is soft! I’m supposed to be doing an online latch hook workshop later in January, so it was a bit of a surprise that this kit came through the door first! I’m looking forward to seeing if there are any different tips, tricks and techniques to learn, and am looking forward to having another go at this craft.