Hooked

Crocheting always seemed like something I couldn’t do. I had never tried, not even considered having a go, just watching my mum working that single hook and her fingers left me feeling incapable. That is why I’ve always let her do all the crocheting pieces for Freda and Me.  I’d often heard people say “I can’t get the hang of crocheting” complaining about its complicity. This and those often far from comprehensible diagrams that you find in some crafting books had worked their way to convincing me of the impossibility of this craft. That was until recently when I finally decide the time was right to tackle this beast.

A Flower crocheted by mum and then beaded by me. Available in my shop.

My mum taught me to knit a long time ago, in my teen’s maybe. As I am left handed and her right, it caused some confusion trying to reverse the knitting action and in the end I just learnt to knit right handed like her. So sitting side by side again, me forty and, let’s not embarrass  mum, her more mature again, I feel young once more  warmed by the prospect of sharinga skill. We attempt the right handed version as we had with knitting but I struggle desperately to manipulate the thread with the fingers of my left hand and the hook in my right. It appears like it may not be possible after all. Swapping over to try left handed, it at first seems even more alien as now my instructor seems unsure of what we are doing. Slowly we piece it together and then a small “click”. Somewhere in the recesses of my creative cortex crocheting makes sense. Admittedly it’s shaky and slow but the concept of what I am doing is understood. I try a couple of different stitches and now, don’t hold me back I want to make something. I start with a flower.

I made that first flower into this brooch. Available in my Shop..

My mum  invested in a book for use to share, small crocheting projects to tackle. The book Cute & Easy Crotchet by Nicki Trench. It’s a beautiful book, the images are fresh and modern as are the designs and colour palette of yarns,  full of inspiration. I examine the pages with eagerness and desire to make and create. What shall my first project be? I’m drawn in by the bright colours of Cafetiere Cosy and the more difficult but very striking Stripy Wave Cushion, but an arrival in the post  makes my decision for me.

The Book

All my own work.

Wrapped safely inside, my hooks.

The package contained a colourful set of crocheting hooks. So the chosen project was the Hook Holder. It was a perfect baptism to the world of crocheting. The main section required repetitive rows of the same stitch, allowing me to improve my tension and hook handling without having to worry about which stitch was coming next. Edging the piece was slightly more challenging but I got a great sense of achievement from creating the pretty scalloping. For me the fact that some sewing of material was also required endeared me more to the project as I love mixing crafts and materials.

So to crocheting I am officially hooked and I’m already planning my next project. What will it be? Wait and see.

Spanish Treasures

Whilst perusing a small vintage shop the other day I spotted the Spanish dancer. Skirt all a ruffled and striking a pose of intensity, with the elegant curve of her back, her flamenco prowess on full display. Amazing isn’t it that I got all this from a needlepoint tapestry, but it was love at first sight she drew me in the moment I saw her. You see the art of Spanish dancing is woven into my very artistic, dramatic being.

In my early years I used to do a little bit of Spanish dancing, Spanish dancing you understand not fancy flamenco. My wonderful nana, Betty, she taught me. In the Monk’s Chest in here hallway (now in my hallway) was an assortment of Spanish treasures, castanets, Spanish dresses, shawls even a mantilla. On our weekend visits my sister and I would unfold the seat of the bench to reveal the mass of lace, fringes, frills and bright colours and with excitement we would layer ourselves in these beauties. Then, gathered in the lounge, nana would raise her arms above her head into a soft but firmly set arch, twist her upper body and tilt her head to one side. Her prodigies would do the same, of a fashion. Nana’s face would set into a passionate, wanting glare which my sister and I would reproduce as pouting lips and wrinkled eyes.  Her foot would then flick up behind her returning quickly to the floor in a stamp, we would follow suit and soon we would all be pounding around clicking our castanets, flouncing our skirts  and shout “Ole”.

Nana was not Spanish, in fact she was half Italian half Irish born in Egypt but she too had been doing Spanish dancing since she was young which made her a perfectly qualified teacher. Here she is in her teens with her handsome matador.

My Spanish dancer also has a matador and I’m ashamed to say I didn’t even notice him, so transfixed by her was I.  “She’s part of a pair?” I exclaim head twisting around searching for more ruffles and colours. Above a cupboard stood in the dark is the solemn matador, up there on his own I’m not impressed. He is brought down, dusted down and placed down next to the senorita. Instantly the two speak to each other and I can see these hot blooded lovers belong side by side. Sold and home they come.

It’s not just the subject matter that drew me in but the craftiness, the handmade brilliance of the pictures. Needlepoint tapestry is something I’m yet to try but I’m sure when I do I will love it. The neat little rows of stitches in tonal shades, bright shades, light shades, dark shades which all add depth and contrast to the image, intrigue me. How one tiny stitch with another tiny stitch and another with a little bit of patience creates something so beautiful.

Not entirely sure where they are going to go, maybe in the lounge that I am currently half way through painting, where ever I will need to let the husband see them first. Not braved that one yet.

P.S on the same shopping trip I also bought these…..

An Embroidered Heirloom

My mum asked me to find a piece of embroidery I had from my grandma, Freda. It is a piece she had been working on but not finished before she died. I took up the challenge to continue the work but have to confess that I lost interest, then forgot about, then adopted two children. So it has sat in a draw for some years until the other week when my mum mentioned it.

My mum, like her mum and now myself included, find it difficult to sit in an evening without occupying  our hands. Crocheting, sewing, knitting, needlepoint, or any assortment of crafty activity will do. So the piece in question has been shown the light of day again and  offered  another chance to reach it’s final destination as an embroidered tablecloth. My mum intends to start the work again.

Mum thinks that grandma may have received the piece for a special birthday, around the 1970’s maybe her 60th. I still have the paper stencils which would have been carefully ironed onto the fabric to guide the embroider and some of the embroidery silks. I have however used some for other projects, so an improvisation of new colours will need to be thought out. The stitches used are fairly simple, blanket, back, bullion knots and french knots, however the task is time consuming and requires plenty of patience.

I am excited to see that this piece is to be worked on again and hope that I will also get to improve my contribution. I will keep you informed.

GRANDMA’S HANDY WORK

MY SMALL CONTRIBUTION

THE WORK TO BE DONE

Fashions Added Extras – Embellishment

On a recent shopping trip I couldn’t help but notice that the trend for embellishment is very much in evidence for the Autumn/Winter fashion this year. There are beaded collars, lace panels, encrusted necklines, chained tassels, added extras of all description everywhere.


Although the high end versions shown above are very lavish,  the high street is doing, on the most a subtle version which is very wearable for day and evening. Here are a few of my favourites.

So to keep in with the in crowd I’ve been doing a little bit of embellishment Freda and Me style.

Blouses

I love a good blouse, there is something so grown up and chic about them. Apparently they originate from peasant dress which doesn’t quite fit with my lady of the manor blouse and pearls idea.

However the Victorians brought separates to woman’s wardrobes and a skirt and blouse became  acceptable  day wear.

From there on in designers and dress makers have conjured variations of this ladies shirt,embellishing with lace, embroidery and beading, The collars have rounded into a 60’s Peter Pan style, sharpened for the 70’s disco look and at times softened  into a kitten bow. Button front or back but I would say usually with a sleeve cuff. The variations are endless. To me the difference between what I consider a ladies shirt or a blouse is that a blouse has a touch of femininity.

My favourite way to wear a blouse is with a good pair of jeans, heels for the evening, pumps or trainers for day. Now I know this is not fashion rocket science but it works and you know what they say, If it ain’t broke…

And any of the following vintage finds available from Freda and Me would rock this look.

From Humble Beginings

For my first post I thought I’d share some of the lovely things I’ve made over the last couple of years.

This clutch is made from some curtain fabric that came from my grandmas house. It’s an original 50’s print fabric and I love the design so much I have cushions on my sofa in the same fabric. This was one of the first bags I made and I included a little matching purse. The gold buttons come form a year I did working for Jaeger during my degree, maybe keep that a secret.

I love old linens and these beautifully crocheted pieces I imagine as vase mats or on an old fashion dressing tables. These days people don’t have much use for them and I find lots in charity shops and at markets. I hand appliqued the pieces to an organic linen to make  a couple of cushions, finished with vintage buttons on the reverse. There is still one left in my Etsy shop.

This necklace is made from a crocheted flower which I beaded and sequined. All the materials I use are up cycled, remnant pieces of wool, old necklaces for the beads and sparkly tops for the sequins. I love the idea of making something beautiful from peoples unwanted items. I’ve made lots of these over the last couple of years, people seem to have liked them, this one is still in my Etsy shop.

This was a bag I loved and was very sorry to see go when I sold it. I was filled with delight when I found a bag of old zips in a charity shop. I hand stiched them all on because it gives a cleaner higher quality finish. The lining is an Aboriginal print fabric. I think I still have some left I’ll maybe do another.

Finally this corsage, made from bits of material, up cycled beads and a vintage button.
More of the things I make are shared on my Pintrest Page and items for sale you’ll find at Etsy .