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A couple of years ago I thought I would have a go at making felt beads, how hard could that be? Well disappointingly it proved to be more tricky than I anticipated and I failed miserably. Recently my friend Sue gave me what I can only call a couple of 'master classes' in felt bead making. It became clear where I had gone wrong, with my initial beading attempt, I was too quick to form a 'ball' and it separated. The secret is to take the initial forming of the 'ball' slowly then gather momentum.
All you need to get started are some merino wool tops/roving, a bar of soap, warm water and your hands!
The basic felt bead technique
Start with a small wad of wool, then wrap lengths of teased wool tightly around it. Keep adding layers until your bead is approximately twice the size you want it to eventually become. Saturate the bead by dipping it in the warm, soapy water, and then gently roll it in your hands. Do this for about ten minutes, dipping it in the soapy water as required to keep it lubricated. Soon the ball will begin to harden and felt. Rinse the bead under a cold tap to wash out all the soap, leave to dry.
Sue also showed me another felt bead technique, this time we made a kind of wool swiss roll. We layered the wool and wet it with soapy water, then rolled it like a sausage, agitating it until it became felt. After rinsing the felt sausage, in cold water, we cut it into sections to make discs.
I now have to decide what to make with my beads.
This morning we went to Butterfly World in Chiswell Green, we were very impressed and when it's finished in 2011 it will be even better! We took lots and lots of photographs not only of the butterflies but of the Future Gardens too.
"As part of phase I of the project, Butterfly World last year hosted a designer gardens exhibition called Future Gardens. This involved inviting talented garden designers from around the world to contribute thought-provoking designs for individual gardens which fit into the segments of a caterpillar. Each of the 12 gardens makes a design statement with no shortage of inspiration for visitors to take home and try for themselves. These gardens look fabulous in their second year of development and continue to offer fun for the children and great ideas for garden lovers."
My favourite garden was The Theatre of Insects by Ivan Hicks. I particularly liked the hard landscaping, it was made from *gabions filled with discarded man-made objects, we were entertained spotting the trapped articles within the metal gages, I want it in my garden!
*Gabions are made from galvanised steel wire, formed into mesh panels and fixed together to create a box-like structure. They are immensely strong when filled with large granular material such as rock, slate, granite or stone, and can be linked together in a variety of configurations to form a fixed wall or barrier.
Yesterday, in the evening, we went for a really pleasant walk in Wheathampstead by the river Lea.I took some photographs, for reference, in the low evening light.
A new gift shop has just opened in George Street, St Albans, it's not just full of gorgeous gifts and cards but knitting yarns too. Katrina, who owns the shop, told me she hopes to specialise in items handmade by local craftspeople as well as the quirky gift and toy lines she already stocks. In the future, with stocking the knitting yarns, Katrina would like to set up opportunities for knitters and stitchers to get together. St Albans is sadly lacking in wool shops I think Rose and Dylan is a much needed gap filler. They stock yarns by Debbie Bliss and Silk Garden by Noro, a rather luxurious hand dyed Japanese yarn, along with knitting needles and a selection of designer yarn knitting books. I recommend you pop in and say hello. You will get a warm welcome.
Rose & Dylan
6 George Street
Telephone 01727 833576
I had never heard of Broomstick Crochet before, until Sylvie described it to me. I like to learn new skills/techniques so I googled Broomstick Crochet and found this video tutorial, demonstrating the technique. Following the tutorial I produced a few samples. I found the technique easy, it gives an openwork lace effect. At one time, as the name implies, people used a broomstick to hold the loops, but an oversized knitting needle will do.
"The origins of Broomstick Crochet, which is also called Peacock Stitch or Witchcraft Lace are obscure. There are no references or examples of it in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London or in the American Museum in Bath. Americans claim broomstick crochet as their own because there is evidence that the early settlers used it as a quick way to make blankets. In America, Canada and Australia, it is still practiced as a traditional craft and is demonstrated in rural life museums. In America it is sometimes called "jiffy lace." In Sweden, it is called "Lattice Loop." It probably originated in Europe, born out of necessity and used up odds and ends of yarn. Created in this way, it may not have been treasured as heirlooms and therefore the lack of evidence means that the history is mostly conjecture instead of fact."
From: Muriel Kent, "Exciting Crochet", David & Charles Publ., Devon, 1987
Information on the pink beach dress pattern can be found on Farmhouse Yarns
A couple of weeks ago I bought a Union Jack rug in Poundland and this weekend I turned into a cushion, backing it with unbleached calico. Very happy with how it turned out.
On Tuesday morning Sylvie introduced me to Sanuk in Potton End. It was a delightful revelation, a charming tea room, shop and plant nursery located off the beaten track in Potton End. My initial impression of the place was English eccentric/shabby chic! "The barn has had many past-lives including a cow-shed, a dwelling and a farm-shop. As Sanuk it is a unique combination of an English tearoom and Colonial trading post." Just in front of and adjacent to the tearoom is Little Heath Farm Nursery, specialising in Hardy Plants, Shrubs, Trees and Ferns. Sanuk sits just outside the village of Potton End, near Berkhastead. it's adjacent to picturesque woodland owned by the National Trust.
Little Heath Farm London Road, Potten End, Berkhamsted HP4 2RY - 01442 864 951
At the front of the house we have a bank of lavender, it smells wonderful as you brush past it, especially with a wheelie bin! I have seen recipes for lavender biscuits but have not tried them, today I rectified that. I chose a recipe from Meeester Nik it looked like the biscuits would be light and fragrant, and they were.
"Lavender biscuits, with lavender picked fresh from the garden this morning. As long as you can get your hands on the stuff, it’s one of the easiest biscuit recipes of all."