An upholstered headboard

Years ago, my mother made a padded bed headboard.  I think it was an easy first project when she joined an upholstery class and, since she didn’t actually need another headboard, I ended up with it.

Calico-covered headboard

The naked headboard

It’s beautifully made (like everything she did) with a calico front and some sort of shiny lining fabric on the back, but it’s never had a cover.  This headboard has been in a bag in the attic for longer than I care to remember.  I went in search of it the other day when it occurred to me that it might do for the bed in our spare room.  It’s not really wide enough for a double bed, but needs must.

Mirror plate on headboardI paid a visit to the Shuttle fabric shop and bought a remnant of strong cotton furnishing fabric in a neutral, off-white shade.  I rustled up a slip-over cover which fastens with Velcro along the bottom.

I’ve attached the headboard to the wall with mirror plates.

That meant drilling out a hole behind each one.

Hole in cover for mirror plateI needed to make holes in the rear of the cover for the screwheads protruding from the wall to pass through.

I drew circles, stitched around the circumference of each and then cut away inside the stitching, painting on some PVA to make sure the fabric wouldn’t fray.

But it looks reasonably neat on the back.

The finished result – although it does need the attentions of a steam iron.

Headboard hung on wall

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A trip to Cornwall

We’ve had a few days in Cornwall, visiting friends who live near Polperro.  We started by exploring the town itself, which was thronging with visitors at this time of year. But, thankfully, it is closed to traffic apart from residents’ cars, so it was a pleasant stroll to the harbour at the far end. En route there was an art gallery and a craft exhibition, plus some shops that offered more than the usual tourist fare of pasties and T-shirts.

The tide was unfortunately out, which made for a rather muddy-looking harbour scene.  But it was certainly pretty with all the whitewashed houses.

Polperro harbourI was delighted to find that the small museum at the harbour has a display of Cornish knit-frocks. Now, purists may be able to distinguish a knit-frock from a gansey, but as far as I’m concerned they are the same thing, knit-frock is just the Cornish term for a close-fitting, weather-turning, single-colour fisherman’s sweater with interesting stitch patterns. There were some kits for sale for smaller gansey projects like hats and scarves, including a cowl which one of my companions took a fancy to, but she isn’t a knitter. With Christmas coming up, I think I know what to do with the 250g of Frangipani yarn I have left over from my 2014 gansey.

On the way home from Cornwall, we stopped off at Bovey Tracey in Devon. I’d heard about the marble museum there, House of Marbles – that’s marbles as in the small glass balls, not the Carrara type we explored back in June. The marbles were excellent, with a huge range available to buy.  I’ve always admired glass paperweights for the exquisite craftsmanship that can be demonstrated in such a small item, but marbles do it at an even smaller scale.  The site used to be a pottery before it turned to glassmaking, and there were pottery displays as well as information on marbles and glass-blowing demonstrations. Well worth a visit.

Also in the town was a very impressive craft gallery displaying the works of the Devon Guild of Craftsmen. Photography was permitted and I made the most of it.

Finally, before leaving town I popped into the local yarn shop, Spin a Yarn. This has won awards and it was plain to see why: a huge range from the ordinary/budget (King Cole, Sirdar) to the rarely seen (in the UK, anyway) like Lorna’s Laces, Malabrigo and even qiviut, the hair of the musk ox. The assistant, who I expect was the owner, was charming and couldn’t have been more helpful. What an asset the good people of this Devon market town have, I hope they appreciate it.

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Baby stuff and an amethyst shawl pin

Boy bib

I’ve had a lot of work to do this week, including a trip to Wales and a few sessions on the laptop this weekend. It hasn’t left a lot of time for crafting, but I did manage to make a boy version of last week’s baby bib (not yet pressed, I’m afraid).

This one fastens with the type of press stud (aka snap, popper) that you attach with a hammer – always a satisfying process, and a lot less fiddle than sewing on Velcro dots.

I’m not sure about the applique design though. I positioned the tie quite low, to allow room for a top button, but maybe that was a mistake. I think the next one will either have a higher tie and no buttons, or maybe a bow tie with buttons below it.

Kimono-shaped baby jacket

Patons Crofter 4-ply yarnAlso on the baby theme, I’ve started a knitted jacket. I found a ball of Sirdar’s Crofter Baby 4-ply in a yarn shop’s bargain bin and couldn’t resist it. There isn’t enough for a whole garment though, even a 1-3 months one, so I’m going to work stripes with plain white.

The pattern I’ve chosen is Garter Stitch Baby Kimono. I’ll fasten it with a button and loop instead of the buttonholes that the pattern indicates, because that way I can leave the boy/girl element until the end, by which time the baby should have arrived.

Amethyst shawl pin

The only other thing I’ve managed to make in the last week is a simple shawl pin for the lilac mohair scarf I knitted recently.

Lilac mohair scarfIt’s really too short to tie, being more of a neck-warmer than a scarf, which means it was crying out for a pin to hold it closed. I’ve made one from a bamboo barbecue skewer and a few amethyst chip beads. Gemstone chips are very cheap to buy and I love to mix them with more expensive gemstone beads, so I generally have a few leftovers around.

I sawed a length off the blunt end of the skewer, using a serrated kitchen knife on a chopping board. I could have got out a saw, but why bother? Then I rounded the cut end into a blunt point using a Swiss file. An emery board or nail file would have done just as well.

I gave the whole thing a rub over with fine grade sandpaper to make it absolutely smooth, then dyed it a nice dark brown by applying two coats of some walnut wood dye I’ve had since forever. I did consider waxing it after that, to give it a sheen, but was afraid that might make it too slippery to be effective as a shawl pin.

Shawl pinFor the beaded head, I just threaded several amethyst chips onto some fine beading wire, wrapping the wire between the beads, to create a roughly circular arrangement that would hold its shape. Then I twisted the two ends of the wire together.

Archimedean drill and bitsThe next job was to drill a small hole down the blunt end of the bamboo pin. I have a set of very small, modellers’ drill bits and a tiny hand drill with an Archimedean action – you hold it between finger and thumb and then pump it up and down to make it spin, like an old-fashioned Yankee screwdriver.

It was perfect for this job, but I expect my Dremel would have done just as well with a pin in the chuck as a substitute bit. (A nail in a full-sized drill will produce a surprisingly good hole, when there’s no suitable bit to hand.)

I tested the depth of the hole with a pin and then trimmed the twisted wires to the same length, dripped superglue onto them and slid them into the hole.

Mohair scarf and shawl pinResult: one cheap-and-cheerful shawl pin to match the mohair neck-warmer.

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Pretty baby bibs

There’s a baby on the way in my family.  Sssshhh, not everyone knows yet.  But I thought I’d get a head start and make some bibs.  Babies need lots of bibs, don’t they?

I don’t know whether this new arrival is a girl or a boy.  Its parents possibly do, but not me and I’m not going to ask, if they want to tell me they will.  But I have lots of flowery cottons and broderie anglaise so I thought I’d make some pretty, girly bibs to start with.  This is the design I came up with.

Baby bibThe inside – the side that will be against the wee one’s body – is made from sweatshirting, with the brushed side facing outwards.

Girl bib 2It will be nice and soft and also quite absorbent.  I’ve had this remnant of sweatshirting for years, ever since I bought enough to make a T-shirt and shorts for my dear husband to wear in the gym and then never got around to making the T-shirt.  (The fact that he was quite rude about the bagginess of the shorts probably didn’t help.  But who needs to look stylish in the gym?)

The flowery side is cut from fabric left over from a summer blouse I made for myself in the 1990s.  I sewed a pleat down the centre and slipped the broderie anglaise under each edge of it, then added buttons – sewn on very securely – to make it look like a buttoned opening down the front of a dress.  This baby is going to feel very grown up in her bib, except for the fact that she’ll be too small to know that little girls wear flowery dresses, of course.

ShirtingBut what if new baby is a boy not a girl?  Fortunately, I found some scraps left from a couple of striped business shirts I made for myself around about the same time as the flowery summer blouse.

Continuing with the same theme, I’m going to applique on a tie instead of the lace trim.

The bibs fasten with Velcro dots at the back.  I’ll make half a dozen of each type because they’re not going to stay clean for longer than 5 minutes.  Much nicer than plain shop-bought versions, don’t you think?

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The last mohair scarf

I’ve finally used up the mohair I bought in about 1984.  The last of the 4 scarves, in red yarn, is in a diamond and bead stitch which has opened up beautifully in blocking.

Mohair scarf in diamond and bead stitchNow, what to knit next?

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Mohair – legacy of the 80s

Younger readers might not know this, but in the 1980s we liked fluff and frizz.  Our hair was poodle-permed and we wore a lot of mohair. (I know, the past is another country …)  I’m ashamed to say that I even knitted a few sweaters in brushed acrylic.

I have my own personal legacy from this period in the shape of several part balls of mohair yarn.  I used up one a few months ago by knitting a small scarf in a classic Shetland all-over lace pattern, Cat’s Paw.

blue-mohair-2The other day I came across the remains of my 30-year-old mohair stash and decided it was time it went.  To that end I have been knitting more small scarves and using them to try out different Shetland stitches.  I’m restricting myself to all-over patterns to use up as much of the yarn as possible.

The first of this new batch of scarves is a lilac version of Mrs Montague’s Pattern from Barbara Walker’s “A Treasury of Knitting Patterns“.  Ms Walker tells us that Mrs Montague was a lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria who knitted her monarch a pair of stockings in this pattern.

Lilac mohair scarf 1

Shawl pinI chose to knit a garter stitch version because I like scarves to be reversible, as far as possible.  I simply don’t have the patience to have to think about whether a scarf is right side out when I tie it around my neck. There wasn’t much of the lilac mohair and the end result is more of a neck-warmer than a scarf.  I’m planning to make a shawl pin with some amethyst beads to fasten it, something like the one I made to wear with my green Nanook cardigan.

These scarves are really quick to knit on big needles – 6 or 6.5mm – and each one is only taking me a couple of evenings.  The next one was also from Barbara Walker’s “Treasury” – she gives three variations of Miniature Leaf.

Green mohair scarf 1At present I’m knitting a red scarf in a diamond and bead pattern – like diamonds, but with a “bead” in the middle of each.  Unlike the other three scarves, this pattern involves working lace on every row rather than every other row, and I am purling on the reverse side rows.  It’s taking longer as a result, and I have more of the red yarn than the other colours so this will be a full length scarf.

Red mohair scarf 1

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