Saturday, March 13, 2010

Ever felt this way before?

Should you ever get the chance to drive along the stretch of the M6 running North to Tebay services- do it! Unless it was the middle of the night, thick fog or teeming with rain I defy anyone not to be blown away by the majestic sweeping hills before you. Better yet, try and make it so you are the passenger, then you can fully admire the views all around- you'll wish you could rotate your head 360 degrees like an owl. This morning, as a very Spring-like sun climbed above the tops, it bathed a landscape of soft green, ochre and rust, highlighted with splashes of white- sheep and lambs at the lower levels and the last of the snow in the gullies and high tops.
So what was I doing on the road, on my own at 8am on a Saturday morning? Making my way to Tullie House in Carlisle for a belated birthday present from my sister, a day's workshop in making felt bags with Debbie Lucas.
I've dabbled in felt making before, usually of the knit then machine wash variety (yes, sometimes this has actually been deliberate rather than disaster!). I tried a kit to make a sample square a few years ago but was a bit underwhelmed by the results and didn't really fall in love with the method- too messy and arm-achey. What a difference a workshop makes! I now feel I have a much better understanding of the process, from the strategic placing of bubble wrap and layering wisps of felt...

To the importance of rolling (with and without bamboo blinds) and rubbing with yet more bubble wrap. It was fascinating how all 11 of us newby feltmakers, given the same basic instructions, materials and 5 hours of workshop time, were able to produce such a great variety of bags:

This was my sister's. I loved the way she used wisps of curly natural fleece to make the pattern, as it reminds you of what the bag was created from. You can't see the vivid leaf green lining in this shot, but it complemented the muted tones of the outside beautifully.

I went for a more contemporary look. I love dots, but they can be hard to create in, say, knitting. The advantage of felt is that you get wonderful intense colours and clean lines, so I decided to take advantage of these characteristics to create a colourful, if decidedly mummy-on-the-go unsuitable little handbag.

All in all a pretty fab birthday gift. I'm inspired to look further into this, including digging out a book I have which includes 3D forms. I'm thinking soft and colourful toy storage made from all-natural this space!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Mummy gets her mojo back

Yesterday was doomed from the start really. For a start, it was a Wednesday. For some reason, nothing happens on a Wednesday here- the library is closed, our friends are all at work, there aren't any playgroups or classes we can do...even with the sun shining it feels like a real mid-week slump. And yesterday was made worse because something woke the boy up at 3.30am and kept him (and me) up for the best part of 3 hours in a miserable state. So I would definitely say I was struggling yesterday morning. When naptime rolled around I logged on to my usual blog roll and there was this post from Hannah at A Handmade Childhood. I'd been meaning to make homemade Play-Doh for ages, not least because a certain someone still can't resist eating the shop-bought kind, which can't be good.
So, in the afternoon we stirred our stumps to go and buy some cream of tartar and I holed up in the kitchen and made some Play-Doh, veggie chilli (inspired by our visit to Wilf's last Saturday) and a indulgent Victoria sponge (just because!). A tasty supper and a good night's sleep later and things looked much brighter. This morning saw the first test run of our Play-Doh, which I didn't put colouring in as we're in a rented house with pale carpets...he didn't seem to mind and his fascinated absorption gave me a chance to sneak a few more stitches on his quilt.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

His rules

Today gave us another glorious dose of sunshine so it was off to Fell Foot Park. As I've mentioned before, walking provides a welcome chance to give a certain toddler, intent on increasing his independence, the opportunity to feel he's enforcing 'his' rules. Today they included...
The one with the star-covered wellies decides which path we go on...

...even if it involves crashing through the rhododendrons...

...and making for the Lake (I caught up before he joined the ducks and swans, thank goodness!)

We ended up at the wonderful playpark, where climbing, swinging, sliding and chasing around the maze was followed by snuggling into the buggy and mid-afternoon bananas. Good times!