knitting preview

Things have been deceptively quiet on appleturnover lately. Behind the scenes my sweetheart and I have been working flat out, shooting four new homemade pictures for the old schoolhouse. We filmed the Knitting Series in my mother’s bright studio in Deep Cove, and like the Quilting Series, the camera looks over my shoulder as I work, to help you see, step-by-step, every method needed to cable-knit and honeycomb-stitch your own handwarmers and mittens.

There were many props to prepare, and organise, diagrams, storyboards, patterns and notes to draw up. Then we began editing (though my sweetheart is in England just now, so we are using high technology to collaborate!) returning to the intertitles that we loved using in the Quilting Series. For these movies we’ve added the dimension of animation, so another aspect of my art practice has reappeared. Lovely. We’re not drawing so much as writing on the screen, to help illustrate the old techniques clearly. As ever my work is a strange mixture of traditions and technology. I’ve designed printable patterns to take you through each step.

short & sweet heather green handwarmer kit

short & sweet heather green handwarmer kit

short & sweet heather blue handwarmer kit

short & sweet heather blue handwarmer kit

short & sweet heather pink handwarmer kit

short & sweet heather pink handwarmer kit

long & elegant smoke grey handwarmer kit

long & elegant smoke grey handwarmer kit

What do you think of the knitting preview? Watch all the tutorials, free, you’ll find them in the schoolhouse in the column to your left.


Like so many traditional toys, the yo-yo has been popular across cultures for the last 2500 years. It’s had a great history, with a tremendous burgeoning in popularity in the 1920’s and 1960’s, and still it persists. Like jacks and jump-rope, the yo-yo is not as easy as it looks. My own skills are quite sorry in this regard. Fortunately my smallest child has agreed to show us how it’s done.

So, I think the idea is that the moment it touches down, you lift a little bit to encourage it to wind back up. I’ll keep practicing. Maybe one day I’ll be able to do the sleeper, or walk the dog.

traditional wooden yo-yo

patchwork preview

All through my studies of traditional skills, the most unexpected pleasure has been connecting to a long history of people with the knowledge to make things themselves. A pleasure of the handmade is also the tremendous centeredness, rootedness that comes with self-reliance. I love that moment when you really see how something, maybe a kind of food, an object in your home, a thing you’ve encountered your whole life, is made, and find that you can make it yourself. Making a useful thing, the way you’d like it, with great quality of materials and imbued with your personality, gives an object provenance, a story, and connects it to you. Which things in our homes have those histories? The best ones.

I’m so excited to be making movies to teach you this traditional skill in a simple, casual way, by watching me work, like looking over your grandmother’s shoulder. I’m creating an everyday sort of mentorship, learning at home the way the old methods were so often passed on. A patchwork preview:

The first homemade pictures my sweetheart and I made are The Quilting Series. Quilting Squares and Quilting Triangles are guides to patchwork quilting, a small-scale project, one beginner, and one intermediate. They were shot in the studio at Knaves Acre, our old Sussex cottage. You’ve already met the starlet of this series, a beauty at one hundred years old. You can mail-order your own pattern from the appleturnovershop; then check back here to work along with the movies! Watch them in the schoolhouse, in the column to your left.

quilting squares liberty floral project kit

quilting squares liberty floral project kit

original quilting triangles project kit

original quilting triangles project kit

handcrank sewing machine

The culture that produced our extraordinarily strong, elegant, exquisitely engineered handcrank sewing machine must have envisioned a very different future than one of planned obsolescence. All its parts are built to last, and they have done, so exceptionally well that using it is like looking deep into history without the translation of a word or photograph. If I had the skills to build a machine, I would study this antique. Watching the bobbin winder alone is a delight. Working the crank is surprising, nothing catches, only smooth, magnificent turning movement. Absent of the electrical, the digital, it’s an object that I find at once enigmatic and much more accessible than any contemporary machine. Such a design! The children stitched their hand puppets on it with ease.

handcrank sewing machine © elisa rathje 2012

It’s no surprise then, that this gorgeous little singer from the early 1900’s, with its curved wooden case and elegant paintwork, is the star of a couple of movies I’ve been making with my sweetheart. This is a sneak peek of the singer on set. Our little moving pictures will have homemade projects to go with them, I’m bundling the kits up now. Do sign up for the appleturnover quarterly to get an early invitation to the appleturnovershop opening, I’m aiming for later next week.

Oh! If you’re in England and you’d like your own vintage sewing machine, my dear friend Sarah has a shop full of them.

skipping stones

An old fashioned pastime I’m ever so fond of is skipping stones.

We spent a glorious weekend on Vancouver Island in some of my dearest childhood haunts, with sweet friends. Between picnics, beachcombing, and the odd brave swim in the cold waters, we skipped a lot of stones. My dear friend Lisa taught me some stone skipping skills.







There’s an extraordinary variety of names for this game, from so many cultures:

In North America it is also referred to as “skipping rocks”. In Italian is called rimbalzello, in Russian this game is called “baking pancakes” (pech blini), in Ukrainian, it is called “letting the frogs out” (zapuskaty zhabky), in Polish, “letting the ducks out” (puszczanie kaczek). In Hungarian it is called “making it to waddle” (kacsáztatás). In Spanish it is called “making white-caps” or “frogging(?)” (hacer cabrillas or hacer sapito), among other names, in Catalan, “making step-stone bridges” or “furrows”, or simply “skipping stones” (fer passeres, fer rigalets, llençar passanelles). Also, in Estonian, it is called “throwing a burbot” (lutsu viskama). In Bengali Stone skipping is played in the name of Bengachi (frog jumps). In Andhra Pradesh Stone skipping is played in the name of Kappa Gantulu (frog jumps). In Portuguese, it is called either “peixinho” (little fish) or “conchinhas” (little seashells). In French, it is called “ricochets“, and in Swedish as well as in Finnish it is called “throwing a sandwich”, if translated literally. Czech language mostly uses dělat (házet) žabky/žabičky (to make/throw little frogs – countrywide, especially in Central and North Bohemia and Czech Silesia) or kačky/kačeny/kařery/kačenky/káčata/káčery/káčírky (ducks/drakes/ducklings, East Bohemia and parts of Moravia) but there are many other local and dialectal words: rybičky/rybky (little fishes), mističky (saucers), talíře (plates/dishes), podlisky/podlíšky/lyšky (wagtails), potápky (divers), pokličky/pukličky (pot-lids), plisky, plesky (flaps), žbluňky (plops), šipky (darts), bubliny (bubbles), židy (jews), páni/panáky (sirs/figures), babky (gammers/wagtails), panenky (dolls/girls/dragonflies), převážet panenku Mariu (to ferry Virgin Mary) and many others.

I like to think that as Lisa skips stones across the cove, someone in the world is doing the same thing by a different name.

quilting squares

Quilting Squares is our very first old school movie, a moving image tribute to patchwork quilting in the traditional nine-patch pattern. Get the pattern from the appleturnovershop.

Have you only a minute? Watch the preview.

lime stripe &formal flowers project kit

lime stripe &formal flowers patchwork project

quilting squares liberty petal & apples patchwork kit

liberty petal & apples patchwork project

quilting squares liberty floral project kit

quilting squares liberty floral patchwork project