Thursday, 18 January 2018

Caring is Sharing....

"Caring is Sharing" is a phrase I use a lot in my workshop, usually when I am trying to encourage people to 'check in' on their phones, or to put a post on after their class/workshop - after all, the more people that I can reach out to, the more people will come and craft, ensuring The Shed's success.

It's the same for any small business, share and care - and keep it open.

Being a business owner I joined a local networking meeting called CWE, you can find them on Facebook if you are local to Carlisle and a small business owner yourself.  They meet once a month and have business showcases and stuff.  It's really rather good.

Anywhooo, it was there that I met a lady called Susan.  She is a chiropodist. She has been to many a class in The Shed, I have not yet had my feet done... so the sharing is a little one-sided, so far.  But we converse a little on Facebook and when I put up a photo of my home-made Rum Butter  (I make a batch every year), Susan declared that she had never tried it!

Well, I couldn't let someone never taste the delights of Rum Butter, so I offered her a pot.

When she came to collect it, she had a swapsie for me - a pot of her home made jam, Summerfruits, Apple & Cherry.  I mean, YUM!

It was rather delicious, but what did make me smile was the note on the top - "Seemed fair to share" - it's great to meet someone with a similar outlook  :)

Thanks for the jam, Susan, it went really well on my peanut butter on toast  :)

And remember, this year, try those mantras - 'Sharing is Caring', and 'Fair to Share', you never know what nice treats you will get.

Next year I am planning to make an extra batch of Rum Butter just so I can play swapsies.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Crochet Chevron Baby Hat

Following on from my Chevron Cushion post a few days ago, whilst in the process of making the cushions I suddenly realised with a little bit of tweaking it would make a super cute hat for a toddler.

So, grabbing some leftover yarn I had laying about  (as we all do), I started work.  I did have to undo and redo a few times to get the size and stitch count right, but that's what designing is all about.

Eventually I ended up with the cutest little elf style hat.

I added a pompom and turned the points up, adding some fabulous little Dolly buttons to the peaks.

I am working on another right now for an adult head - I can tell you it's going to be such a fun hat!  Watch this space.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Anniversary Special Workshops - Thread Bowls

As part of our anniversary celebrations I offered some really cheap workshops as taster sessions.

One of these was how to make a Thread Bowl.  These are so much fun, but quite unknown so there was only one person booked on this class.  Never mind though, we had some fun playing, just the two of us!

I made a bowl with lots of different colours and snippets of threads, while Barbara stuck to yellow threads with pieces of tweed thrown in - she says her piece looks like a "deconstructed bumblebee", which I thought was quite apt looking at her colours.

We wash the pieces in warm water after sewing, then you can set them into a bowl shape if you wish. Barbara decided to leave her piece to dry flat so she could decide what to do with it later on.  Can't wait to see what she decides on.

I formed mine into a bowl shape by draping it over a ceramic bowl.

They are not massive bowls, but just big enough to get a taster of the technique.  There is so much you can do with this and it is so much fun.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Hand Embroidery for beginners.

Hand Embroidery seems to be making a huge resurgence at the moment.  Everyone seems to want to have a go at it.... and why not?

A little while ago I was given a large amount of embroidery threads - I made a donation to Charity for them, but I also wanted to give something back to the community, so I arranged a free-of-charge hand-embroidery class.  This happened on our first day back after the Festive season.

The idea was well received and the class was fully booked up quite quickly.

We used a piece of Calico along with a heat-sensitive pen to draw our own patterns on. The pen lines disappear when ironed so they work really well for planning designs.

There was only three stitches to learn in this class, I much rather people go away with good knowledge of a smaller amount, than lots of information that boggles their brain and they cannot continue at home.
We learnt Leaf Stitch, Flower Stitch and Chain Stitch.  Enough stitches to make a bunch of flowers and leaves.  (they also took some threads and a needle away so they could finish off their work in their own time).

Even though all the attendees were given exactly the same choice of colours, and the same tuition, the results were completely unique.  And the work looks so different once the pen marks are ironed off.

I think everyone enjoyed their class, some people even asked for a follow on class to learn more stitches, which is exactly what I want to hear  :)

Thanks for coming if you did, your support to The Shed is appreciated.
And if you fancy a class yourself, check out the website to see what is on.....

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Funky Crochet Chevron Cushions

Over the festive season this year I took home four balls of Stylecraft DK yarn and an idea to make a crochet cushion.

In my head I had a psychedelic zig-zag of colour - just the thing to chuck on your sofa to brighten up a cold winter.

The first one didn't work so well, it was rather baggy ... but I could see the potential.

I quickly made a cushion pad to help me along - all I had in the house that I could use was a spare pillow and a very old vintage sewing machine.  I opened up the pillow, took out the stuffing and used the fabric to make the case. I drew around a wastepaper bin to get the round shape I needed, then sewed it and re-stuffed it. (but I also ordered some as it's so much easier  :) )

FOUR attempts later I finally had a cushion that fit the pad perfectly, and had no baggy bits - I mean, who wants baggy bits anyway?

I feel I did get the result I was aiming for in my head, and during the process I was inspired to take the idea to make different things, so keep your eye out for those.... coming soon.

I am planning to make this into a kit very soon - I do have to re-make the cushion so I can photograph it for the tutorial, hopefully I can get that done quite soon.   In the meantime let me leave you with all four sides of the two cushions.

Monday, 8 January 2018

Anniversary Special Workshops - Abstract Art

As it is the first year anniversary of The Shed, I thought I would offer some really cheap workshops - 1: To say thank you to all those who have paid for classes and supported The Shed this year, and 2: To try and get new people to try some taster sessions to see what we offer in the workshop.

The first of these classes was to make a funky piece of abstract art.

First of all we covered an art canvas in acrylic metallic paint - I am a huge fan of metallic paint, it just seems to add a whole new dimension to anything you use it on, and who doesn't love a little bit of shimmer and shine?

Then, once that was dry, we added blobby lines with a hot glue gun.  You don't have to have a perfect line with this, the raggier the better I think.

A final coat of paint over the glue finished the pieces off, and ta-dah,  perfect wall art!

There are loads of possibilities with this technique, try it for yourself.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

It's the start of a brand new craft year...

Well, what a year 2017 was.  Early January saw the opening of the "Sooz in The Shed" workshop, a place where all sorts of Crafters can gather to socialise, to learn new things, and to chill out.

We have offered so many courses and classes in Crochet, Knitting, Sewing, Art, Glasswork and much much more.  Of course, I couldn't have offered all of these on my own, so a big shout of Thanks goes out to all the guest artists who have frequented The Shed this year.

Also a MASSIVE thanks to every single person who supported The Shed by coming to classes, I appreciate you all.

I had lots of plans at the start of the year, to do this... and that, but time got the better of me and although we chugged along quite nicely with what was on offer, a few plans got pushed to the side - hopefully I will be able to implement some of them this year.

I am currently working on some ideas for Crochet Kits.   I have offered Kits before as part of my business and they went really well, so hopefully I can pick back up on that and offer something a little different to people who cannot get into The Shed to do a lesson.

If there is anything you would like to personally do in The Shed, please let me know and I can try and hunt out a suitable tutor.  Always looking for new offerings too, so if you know anyone who would like to teach please put them in touch with me.  (

Please do take a look at the workshops on offer, but keep popping back as new ones go on all the time.

In the meantime I will leave you with some pictures of how different the workshop looks in only a year!

Monday, 1 January 2018

2018 Temperature Blanket project.

Have you heard of the Temperature Blanket project?

Well, quite simply it is a row of crochet (or knitting, if you prefer) each day, matching the colour of the yarn to what the temperature is that day.

If you Google 'Temperature Blanket' you will come up with load of ideas and patterns, but if you would like to join in with mine then please feel free   :)

I have set up a Facebook group so we can all share our progress as we go along - you can find it HERE, just click the JOIN button.

So, we are going to make this one in 8 colours - it is impossible to know just how much you will use of each as each day might be different, so one ball of each is a good place to start, buying more as you might need it.

I chose to do mine in Stylecraft Special DK, which is a gorgeous soft acrylic yarn in delicious colours.  These are....Matador, Tomato, Grass Green, Lime, Aspen, Petrol, Emperor and Magenta.

I have devised my own temperature chart to go with these colours, basing it on the UK weather system.  Hopefully at some point we will get to use all the colours.

A little bit about my design idea then....... some people quite fancy the idea of doing a blanket, but if you do a row a day, you are looking at a 356 row blanket, which if you are using Trebles is going to be rather large.  Large is ok if you want large of course, but it's also quite a commitment in time, so my plan is to work four separate pieces and join them at the end.  It means that we will work for 364 days as it's dividable by four  :)

We shall call them "Quarters".  We will need to 'borrow' days from other quarters to make the pattern fit, but I will remind you of that as we progress - so don't worry about it now.

Jan / Feb / Mar (90 days)  (Quarter 1 - Lowest Temp)
Apr / May / Jun (91 days)  (Quarter 2 - Highest Temp )
Jul / Aug / Sep (92 days)  (Quarter 3 - Highest Temp)
Oct / Nov / Dec (92 days  (Quarter 4 - Lowest Temp)

So, how to check your temps.  To get the most out of each colour, I suggest taking either a low or high temp reading for each quarter as shown above.  If you were to pop over to the Met Office Website and put in your area, you will get both a low and high reading for that day.  (or you can use any weather apps you might have on your phone.)

And here are the colour rules..... so, as you can see from above, the temp for Carlisle today was a low of 3 degrees and a high of 8 degrees.  As we will be working on Quarter no:1 we will use the LOW number.

3 degrees on the colour chart means you would use PETROL for this particular day.

If you find you do not have time one day to do your row, DON'T PANIC, just jot down the temp for that day and play catch up when you do have time.

The pattern!   Finally, we have come to the part where the pattern is revealed.  As promised, it is a very easy pattern, basically just stripes, but every Sunday we shall pop a different row of stitches in so you can see your weeks work build up, I think that would be quite nice.

So.... shall we begin?

I choose to use a 4mm crochet hook, it is my hook of choice for DK yarn, but you may wish to use a 4.5mm or a 3.5mm - whatever you are most comfortable with.

We will be using the HTR stitch, which works like this......  Yarn round hook, insert hook into stitch, pull yarn back (3 loops on hook). Yarn round and draw through all three loops.


Chain 93, work a HTR into the 3rd chain from the hook and HTR into each chain following.  (91 stitches)  Leave yarn attached just in case tomorrow is the same colour  :)

FOLLOWING ROWS:  (not Sunday)

Ch 2, HTR into the BACK loop only of each stitch.

If you are not familiar with using the back loop of the stitch, let me show you where it is.
When you put your hook through your stitch you usually get two strands of yarn above your hook (ignore the one already on there)

We will just be using the back loop of each stitch, the one marked by the green thread.  It gives a lovely ridged finish to the work.

Do a stitch count every so often to make sure you keep to the 91 stitches, otherwise you will end up with a triangle  :)

Tomorrow, I will show you how to join a new yarn colour.

I will pop back in a few days with Sunday's row.

Happy hooking!!

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Proper busy......

I've been proper busy of late, running about like a blue-bummed fly.  Teaching this and that, making that and this.... I just don't know where the last few months have gone!

Hard to believe but we are heading for our first anniversary in The Shed.  Yep, it's been open a year in January.  A whole year of crafting and meeting new people - and what an exciting year it has been.

A few crafters and artist have now joined us to teach...

Carl Fitton is running a Learn To Draw course which has proved very popular. His second course is now fully booked and he is devising follow-on courses such as "Experiment with Colour".  I am in awe of the amazing drawings that people produced from Carl's excellent tuition.

And, no, that's not wine they're drinking - not at this class anyway - they are drawing the empty bottle  :)

Tracey Spurgin has also joined us this year. Tracey is a Precious Metal Clay artist and her work is phenomenal!   She has run two very successful workshops now and a third, on how to make silver rings, is booked for April.  These are very popular and book up quickly so if you fancy it, don't delay.

The last couple of classes were pendants and swing lockets...

Another fab class is the one run by Annis McGowan, she takes you through making the most gorgeous needle-felted animals.
Last time Annis taught how to make Herwick Sheep, she will be back in January to make Doorstop Owls!  So exciting.

Memory Bears are so 'in' at the moment, so we welcomed Anne Scott to The Shed to run a class on making these family heirlooms.  She will be back in the New Year to help you make your own.  Keep your eye on the website for dates.

And, I, myself, have been teaching all sorts - from Crochet to Stained Glass.
The Stained Glass 6 week course was really good, with all the ladies (shown here in their safety gear) designed and created their own A4 size stained glass panel.

This workshop will be back in January for another set of panel making.

And as I type this today, we have Tracey Rogers in, working hard and teaching people how to make the most gorgeous Christmas Cards.  I have just sneaked onto the craft floor for a few photos and it looks like things are going well. 

If you fancy learning something new next year, or if you want to join one of our regular craft groups, then you can go on our mailing list - we won't spam you, promise - by clicking HERE and asking to join, or check out the website.

If there is anything you have ever wanted to try, or if we keep running a class on days you cannot do - just drop us a message, we may be able to put something on to suit.

Happy Crafting...