A Handmade Weekend

I’m currently sitting drinking a coffee, listening to builders bash a hole in my wall (yes, another one) and recovering from a weekend stacked to the brim with creativity and new crafty experiences.

Part 1

First off, I took a course in Tunisian Crochet.  Like so many, I learned to crochet using You Tube but I really enjoy face to face classes too and I don’t do enough of them!  Classes are a lovely way to meet other people you who you know you will have at least one thing in common with, and it makes the craft much more sociable.  It’s funny how in these sessions it seems easy and safe to share your life story with strangers!

Tunisian Crochet is one of the many things that has been on my ‘to try’ list for years, so when I saw that Joanne Scrace, also known as Not So Granny, from The Crochet Project was teaching it at my local yarn store The Sheep Shop, I jumped at the chance.

I had very little idea about what was involved in Tunisian, just some vague idea that it was a sort of knitting and crochet hybrid that produced a really lovely textured fabric.  This is kind of true but really, I’ve learned, it’s a craft in it’s own right.

We learned the Tunisian Simple Stitch (TSS), Tunisian Knit Stitch (TKS) and Tunisian Pearl Stitch as well as increases and decreases and colour changes.

I  had purchased a double ended tunisian crochet hook from Pony in advance of the class and it took me quite a while to get used to working with a long needle rather than a shorter hook and learning where to place the stitches, but I really enjoyed it once I got going!

For those of you who haven’t tried Tunisian Crochet, you work it with the right side always facing and after each row of stitches, you complete something known as a Return Pass (RP) to get back to the beginning and start the next row.  This part was super quick and very therapeutic once I got the knack!

I’m going to be brave and share with you what my learner swatch looked like…

IMG_9841

… pretty much like the first crochet swatch I made!  There are definitely some missed stitches and some tension issues!  I’m going to be kind to myself and say that there are a variety of stitches here, and a few rows where we mixed the Simple and Pearl Stitch up!

I am also happy to report that my second effort, using this beautiful variegated yarn (King Cole Splash DK in ‘Carnival’) ,was a lot tidier.  I told you I’d give it another go Joanne!!

Tunisian Crochet By Dora Does

Work made using Tunisian Crochet is much denser than the basic crochet stitches so it is great for winter makes as well as accessories such as bags or purses.  Oh and it curls a little more because all the stitches are worked into the front, so it does need blocking.

Over all I am a fan and definitely want to try more projects using this technique, and maybe even some designs… One step at a time though… for now I’m happy with achieving straight edges!

Part 2

On Sunday I went to Kirsty Allsopp’s Handmade Fair, which was held at Hampton Court just outside London.  I’d won the tickets in an Instagram contest hosted by the very talented Clairabelle Makes who was running a Pinterest Theatre Session with Kirsty.

I had no idea what to expect.  What I found was a wonderful group of super talented makers, workshops galore and the most delicious looking food.  There was a huge variation in the stalls.  I saw home decor, prints, original paintings, every type of jewellery you can imagine, fabric, sewing patterns, tweed, pompom specialists, colouring books (and a colouring caravan!), paper cutting, beading, quilting, map art, glasswork, flowers, paints, tapestry, felting and of course some knitting, crochet and yarn.  I wanted everything there but these are some of the cards I picked up from my favourites…

Dora Does’ card collection from The Handmade Fair

All the owners I stopped to speak to were friendly, engaging and above all, really enthusiastic.  I’m not a natural at striking up conversations but here it was just like talking to friends.  There really was something for everyone!

I was pretty restrained on my purchases but bought a Tapestry starter kit (another one of those things on my ‘to try’ list!) from My Blooming Day which I can’t wait to get stuck into (can someone please magic some more hours in the day?) and a couple of little prints including this one from Fairy Made Paper Art which will be just perfect for my new studio office once it’s finished and my walls are hole free!

Print by Fairy Made Paper Art

Enough from me, I’ll let my pics of some of the awesome exhibitors do the rest of the talking.   I wish I had taken more but I just got too distracted with all the loveliness!

For me, it was the perfect tonic to take some time away from my own design work to see what everyone else is up to.  I find other makers and artists so inspiring so this event gets the thumbs up from me!

Next time I’ll get organised and do some workshops too!  For now I’m off to follow some more of these beauties on Instagram!

Big Love

Dx

P.S. For those of you of a certain generation, I also went to see Top Gun in an open air cinema at the Cambridge Museum of Technology over the weekend too… and this is for you…

Tom Cruise

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