lavender sachets

Extraordinarily practical, the lavender sachet is quite misunderstood. Relegated to the spinster and her old wives tales, much like potpourri and various folk remedies. No, the lavender sachet is worthy of attention. Let us give it due respect.

sachet

Unlike the vile-smelling mothball, a known carcinogen, and your run-of-the-mill chemical-laden air freshener, lavender is both potent and benign. Like the best remedies, it has multiple purposes, and does no harm. Creatures that would seek to damage linens, yarns, good wool socks and sweaters and your favourite old books alike are repelled from the territory by a bit of dried lavender. We have had our battles with silverfish and wool moths, and lavender fended them off with elegance.

I like to sew a handful of local lavender, dreamily intoxicated as I stitch, into pretty bits of rough linen, with a touch of wool from a friend’s sheep, to make the hearts and stars loftier. I loop a ribbon through so they can be hung off door handles, drawer handles, or tucked between items on shelves, into laundry baskets or my knitting bag. Little guardians of our precious yarns and woollens. A lavender heart under a restless child’s pillow is an instant sleep remedy, too. Functional, beautiful old fashioned solutions, these lavender sachets. Send me a note if you’d like a few of your own – or if you’re in Vancouver look for them at Second Nature..

carding wool

We’ve had a series of early autumn afternoons that were just right for sitting out on the porch, drenched in pale sunshine, and doing some handwork. I’ve been carding wool.

carding wool

This is a bit of local fleece, already washed by a friend. It’s full of woody bits, so carding outside is perfect as it sends them flying. I love the action of pulling at the fibres, with the carders brushing in opposite directions, large arm movements and strong ones. The sound! Therapeutic. And a workout, the pleasing, destructive-productive kind, like wedging clay or hammering hot iron. Then small movements, with the carders paired handle-to-handle, to roll up the fibre again, all clean and brushed out in beautiful alignment, ready to spin, or full, or needle-felt, or stuff into some kind of wonderfully useful thing, which is what I’m doing with it. Speaking of ready to spin, I’ve set up the old spinning wheel I’d brought from England, I want to show you very soon.

You might like to read about our experiments in dyeing wool with plants, too.

short spring handwarmers

There’s something grounding about wearing even the smallest garment made with my own hands. Knowing how it was made! Where it came from. Connecting with a long history of people making what they need, and a simpler, slower life. Little steps into traditional skills make me courageous and deeply curious about making more and more of the things I wear and use. Here’s one of my small studies that you can take up, short sweet wrist-length handwarmers in springtime colours.

writing with handwarmers

I love handwarmers for all the things you can do while cosily wearing them. I’ve begun making some photographs on the subject.

short.seagreen.cable.left.watch.side

What do you think? Could you make a pair of cabley fingerless gloves? I learn best by looking over someone’s shoulder, so that’s how I made the tutorial movies. (Watch them in the schoolhouse, in the lefthand column.)

short.cable.heatherblue.typing

Handwarmers do add a bit of elegance to tapping away on the keyboard. I’m very happy when I get a chance to rattle away on the typewriter, the old technologies give such satisfaction.

short & sweet heather grey handwarmer kit

This heather grey is the original shade you see me working with in the movies.

spring.yarn

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p>Stay tuned for new projects with the postcards, snippets of news and pictures sent to your inbox whenever there’s something fun to write home about.

winding yarn

Okay, let me show you the good old fashioned skill of winding yarn by hand. If you’ve ever admired beautiful hank of yarn but didn’t know how to wind it without some kind of contraption – or if you’ve wondered how your yarn was organised into a skein in the first place, the second part of the “Cabled Handwarmers” set, in The Knitting Series, might please you. Have a look at how I wind yarn into a ball by hand. (It’s 2.22 minutes.)

Such a meditative process. Particularly if you find yourself falling in love with spinning your own! I prefer to pull yarn from the center of a skein, so that it needn’t roll around to unravel. Then I can knit or crochet freely, with the yarn in a handbag, which makes it easy to pick up my knitting at violin lessons, at the park, on the bus, at a café. I’ll also wind yarn like this when a store-bought ball gets knotted up, or is half gone and getting a bit messy. Yarn is happiest loose ’til you’re ready to use it, without tension to stretch it, I’ve been told, and is also easier to send through the post. (Like the appleturnovershop does, naturally.) You might like to watch the other movies in the “Cabled Handwarmers” set, over at the old schoolhouse (in the column to your left).

spring.yarn

fingerpuppets

For a crowd of children crafting at a birthday, I wanted to create a project that was pretty quick, left room for invention, and drew on some good, useful, simple skills. With smaller groups we’ve held handpuppet-making birthdays and bookbinding birthdays. For this very busy birthday, my small child had the bright idea of making fingerpuppets. Perfect! Would you like to see a little of what they made?

fingerpuppet-making

I made a basic card template for the children to trace. They cut the pieces out of felt and pinned them, threaded needles, knotted them to the fabric and carefully sewed round the edge. Some added long rabbit ears or short monkey ears, before they stitched the seam. We had brand new tailors and old pros doing this. Then, exciting! We put out fulling needles and showed the children how to needle-felt, with a block of foam to work on top of, and the puppet pinned to it so that little fingers stayed out of the way of the needle. Felting needles have burrs that rip the wool fibres and reattach it, in effect knotting it to itself and through the fabric. Large, sculptural pieces and precise details alike are possible with this technique. Eyes, mouths, beards, even wonderful long hair were constructed and attached using the wool roving and yarn.

fingerpuppets

Embroidery, sewing on scraps of fabric and buttons for clothing, and the children developed wonderful characters! Very pleasing. It is the sort of project that is perfect for children to make with adults, or for adults to make for children. Just a bit of extra help and care with the needles, and everyone from age four through *cough* made amazing things. I’ll be putting together fingerpuppet and handpuppet kits for the appleturnovershop soon, for those who’d like to learn some simple fabric-arts skills with a short, sweet project. I’ll be teaching this lesson in fibre arts in the old school classes at my studio this week, too.

Look out for images from, fingers crossed, a shoot that my sweetheart and I are planning this weekend…more old school movie tutorials to support projects to learn traditional creative skills, in the shop. Sound good?