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From Movie Star Planet Back Down to Earth

Craft Activities for Children

Help! I think my daughter has been abducted by aliens!

What 21st century parent isn’t wearily familiar with the addictive nature of online games for children?

Having finally come to terms with a family members minecraft addiction, another seems to be rearing it’s ugly head. It has huge purple hair, empty black eyes and appears to have an arrow impaled in its head.

This monstrous character is an alien from Movie Star Planet; a truely scary environment. Inhabitants of the planet appear to have had their brains sucked out and they wander about aimlessly spouting mindless banalities to anyone they come across.

Direct action is required.

“This is Earth calling. You are under threat of alien abduction. Please make your way to the dining area for your own safety…….NOW!!!”

I wait for the slap of the laptop closing and observe the entry of a young female with attitude. She rolls her eyes slowly, swishes her high pony tail and makes an exaggerated gesture. (which she hasn’t quite perfected so it looks alarmingly like a nervous twitch)

Let the battle commence.

Here are my 5 suggested activities designed specifically for combating and alleviating the negative effects of Movie Star Planet on 10 year old girls.

  1. Make a Dream Catcher.

Introduce this activity with an age appropriate conversation about cultural appropriation.

Making Dream Catchers

  1. Make Some Felties

Introduce this with an age appropriate conversation about animal welfare, conservation, Cecil the Lion and the infantilising effects of adults in onsies.

Making Felties

  1. Arrange a Collection of Rocks, Stones, Pebbles or Crystals

Introduce this activity with an age appropriate contextual conversation about the work of Andy Goldsworthy. (eg. Is it Art? Yes it is.)

arranging crystals

Goldsworthy image credit

  1. Make a Tent Outside.

Introduce this activity with an age appropriate conversation about temporary dwellings, refugee camps and homelessness. (try not to make her cry)

home made tent

Refugee image credit

  1. Bake Some Gingerbread Men

Introduce this activity with an argument about who’s going to tidy up all the mess.

baking ginger bread men

 

Any of these activities should help re-ground and acclimatise your child. Normal speech patterns should return, eye rolling should cease and general intelligence and well being should be restored

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Crochet Shawls, Strangers and other Norwich Stuff

Crochet Bohemian Shawl

If you head north east out of London for about a hundred miles, just before you get to the North Sea, you’ll find Norwich; a fine city. Once an impenetrable gated community, Norwich is now circumnavigated by the ring road and the crumbling remains of a city wall.

Like many people, my historical knowledge of the place where I live is sketchy, anecdotal and riddled with holes and questionable facts. 365 pubs (one for every day of the year) 52 churches (one for every week) rivers running red like blood (the madder dyes) and a cockerel as big as a donkey (on the top of the cathedral spire – according to my grandmother)

In geographical terms, Norwich is rather off the beaten track but it is possible to trace a route through history to a time when it was a city second only to London and a thriving textile hub.

Knowledge and evidence of our grand textile history has become rather threadbare over the years but I’ve been thinking about it a lot recently and I wonder how many of my ancestors might have spent long hours weaving in their dimly lit garrets, or suffered the dire consequences of working with toxic mordants in the dye houses of sixteenth century Norwich.

I wonder how they might have viewed the new community of ‘strangers’ –  the highly skilled Dutch and Flemish weavers invited into the city to mobilise and modernise the city’s ailing textile industry, and to escape religious persecution.

Like all new immigrant communities The Strangers brought with them many things that impacted on the City. The Flemish brought with them their pet canaries (canary breeding became so popular in Norwich we named our football team after them) and even the Norwich dialect is said to have been influenced by this community, who at one time made up almost one third of the city.

The greatest impact, perhaps, was made on our textile output. They introduced revolutionary technical changes, mixed fibres and improved finishing processes.

The Norwich dyers were also prized for the quality of their bright, clean, colourfast dyes. Red dyes were particularly prized and one red dye became known as ‘Norwich red’ produced from the madder plant which was grown locally and later important from Turkey.

The new fabrics were lighter, silkier and had strange names like camblet, Say,Tammy, Callimanco, mockadoes, Fustian of Naples, Bombasine, stamin, serg, and dornix. Collectively they became known as Norwich Stuffs.

As the fabrics became more delicate, like the fashionable ones on the Continent,  the need for a big warm shawl increased and Norwich was to become hugely important in the production of the very fashionable ‘Norwich Shawl’. Not to be confused with the Paisley Shawl – no really – don’t EVER make that mistake. I did once – and was told off very severely by a textile historian. Paisley is in Scotland. Norwich is in England. You see – they are different!!

Shawls were manufactured in Norwich from the 1780’s but by the mid 19th century Norwich was producing some of the most exquisite, and expensive shawls in the world – inspired by the beautiful textiles imported from Kashmir

Norwich Textiles

Image: http://locutus.ucr.edu/

Much of the history of Norwich is wrapped up in a beautiful wool shawl and I’m very pleased to see shawls, wraps and oversized scarves return to the contemporary fashion scene.

Shawls make the perfect knitting or crochet project if you’re one of those people who can never quite get the fit of a jumper right, or if you’re rather too impatient to work a third tension square….shawls always fit!

I recently added The Bohemian Shawl to my collection of crochet patterns and it takes more than a hint of inspiration from the textile history of Norwich.

Bohemian crochet shawl

I may wear it one evening soon and take a walk through the city, past Strangers Hall, the Maddermarket Theatre, The Woolpack, The Dyers Arms, Canary Way, and, finally, down Weavers Lane, and  think about the rich history of this very fine city.

I shall also be running a three part crochet masterclass in Norwich this Autumn where you can make your own version of this gorgeous shawl. We will cover a huge range of stitches and techniques and you can choose your own colours from a range of Debbie Bliss yarns at Norfolk Yarn wool shop.

crochet shawl design

Crochet shawl

Crochet Shawl Bobble Trim

Full details can be found here

Oh – and I’m going to include the instructions on how to work the lovely pom pom trim in the next issue of The Mercerie Post!

You can register here.

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Colour Stories and Chromatophobia

colour workshop

Do you suffer with Chromatophobia?

What’s your relationship with colour like?

Are you slightly afraid of it; not really sure how to approach it in case you do, or say, the wrong thing?

Or are you living a comfortably safe existence? Is it habitual, something that you don’t really think about until you realise that almost everything you own or wear is grey? maybe you’re worried you’re just a little bit too passionate; a ‘more is more’ approach, hiding your true colours under a layer of rainbow brights and deafening your friends with your extremely loud colours.

Perhaps your love of colour just needs rekindling; a little poke here and there to check that it’s still alight.

Colour is a subject/concept that fascinates me on every level. It’s a triple science subject; biology, chemistry, and physics. It’s metaphysics. It’s natural, manufactured and available in every shape and form. It’s animal, vegetable, mineral and every conceivable hybrid in between.

It’s a reflection, a memory and a trace with the power to ignite associations and flash backs.

It’s on trend, off colour, retro and ‘the new black’. It’s classified, organised, registered and theorised.

It’s all an illusion, it’s smoke and mirrors playing with our perceptions and confusing our senses.

Joseph Albers spent a lifetime exploring the Interaction of Colour and his work is a visual reminder that nothing is fixed; perception is all about context. Just like people, colours adjust their behaviour according to who they are sitting next to, or talking to.

Consider #thedress and the media facination with how and why its colour apparantly appears different to different people and in different environments.

This is all beginning to feel like a heavy load, there are rules, authorities, the fashion police and queues of ‘other people’ just waiting for us to make a ‘colour faux pas’ so it’s easier just to stick to a nice pink and purple combination because that always works – doesn’t it???

Well maybe it’s time to lighten up a little and see colour as an exciting new plaything. It’s there to be enjoyed, not feared.

So let’s play a game…it’s called Colour Associations and anyone can join in – in  fact the more the merrier. It works better with friends. And wine.

Think of a colour then simply list everything you associate with that colour. It might be food, an emotion, a landscape, a smell, a piece of clothing, a favourite auntie…..that’s it. You could also say wherther you like a particular shade of that colour –.

I’ll get the ball rolling…..(it’s a big red bouncy ball BTW)

RED

Lipstick, blood, apples, tomatoes, anger, passion, bull fighters, nail varnish, Red Army, Red Cross, Red Tent, red shoes, red knickers, FIRE! STOP!

Phodophobia; is a fear of the colour red.

Red Collage

 

ORANGE

Get ready to go; marmalade, ginger hair, life bouys, ginger toms, guantanamo detainees, Tango (drink not the dance) sunsets, fake tan, nicotine stained fingers…..not sure I like the way this one’s going…..

Chrysophobia is a fear of the colour orange.

October is Orange

YELLOW

Sunshine, yellow ribbons, submarines, *smiley face, smiley face, sad face*, custard, egg yokes, baby chicks, scaredy cat…. jaundice…er, lets stop there.

Xanthophobia is a fear of the colour yellow.

yellow collage

GREEN

GO! My favourite colour (as everyone under the age of 10 knows – you MUST have a favourite colour by which you will be judged) chlorophyll, new shoots, eco warriors, naive, green tea, jealousy, sea sick, green cross code, my favourite charity shop cardigan that I literally loved to pieces and couldn’t bear to get rid of, pool tables, the green green grass of home, Greensleeves, the dress they always put the red head in…..

Chlorophobia is a fear of the colour green

green collage

BLUE

Steady now… loyalty, precaution, my horrible school uniform, any uniform, big sky, oceans, blue moon, blue movies, big blue eyes, forget-me-nots, the blues, baby blues, black and blue, flashing lights and sirens, another uniform….ello, ello, ello….what’s gong on here then??

Cyanophobia is a fear of the colour blue

blue collage

PURPLE

The Colour Purple, velvet Jackets from the 1960’s and 70’s, purple hearts, parma violets, purple haze, purple rain, the Biba lipstick I bought in Top Shop in 1979, my childhood bedroom, royalty, Victoriana, mystics, lavender, residential homes for elderly people.

Porphyrophobia is a fear of the colour purple. (I think I may be borderline)

purple collage

PINK

Sherbet, Brighton rock, fluffy mohair jumper (mine in 1982) ballerina’s, pink ribbons, in the pink…..OK. I’m bored with pink.

And I can’t find a word for the fear of pink. Does that mean it’s the least scary colour??

pink collage

You get the picture?

The next part of the game is to get your paints out and paint as many different variations as you can of each colour – that’s possibly a step too far for most of you, but I thoroughly recommend a ‘hands on’ appraoch when it comes to playing with colour.

If you’d like to have a go at mixing colours, and creating beautiful and inspiring colour combinations I’m running a 2 part Master Class in Norwich starting on June 3rd. You can find all the details here.

But if you can’t join us, just gather a few friends round, open a bottle of wine (after arguing about what colour it should be) and share your colour stories.

I’m sure you’ll all enjoy hearing each others personal anecdotes about why they can’t stand bottle green, lemon yellow or candy pink.

Such fun!

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The Journey of Creation

Today I’m delighted to host a guest blog post by The Mercerie’s brilliant lifestyle photographer Boo Marshall;

Ive watched the creation of The Mercerie grow from the seed of an idea to a successful and vibrant creative company. As someone who has been lucky enough to be asked to photograph the major seasonal collections, Ive been there, witnessing the birth of a design idea –  something simple like colour choices wound round card, or some crochet motifs still on the hook, or a half knitted bag. Then later, much later, I see the finished samples, and I gasp – every time –  with delight.

Lifestyle Shoot

 For those of us who love wool, who adore colour and whose fingers have a physical yearning to make, The Merceries designer, Sue, has managed to meet and satisfy our creative needs. The need within us to create is almost as strong as the need to breathe. Who has not whipped open their new package to reveal their choice of wools and colour palatte and not sighed with happiness? Although the process of creation can be fraught with anxiety, or frustration, the satisfaction of completion makes us forgot those moments of frogging or the doubt that appeared in the night over our choice of colour. Rather like the birth of a new baby, the arrival of our completed project is worth every day of angst, sickness or even pain.

 But the final result doesnt just delight because it is complete; rather, it invites you to continue your journey –  because during this one, you may have learnt a new technique, or perfected an old one, or because you want to try it again with different colours. And that I think is the key to successful design –  that it pushes you on, again, into a new part of a continuing journey.

 Last year, engrossed with the art of creating, I set up a new business with a fellow photographer, Jo. Both of us had experienced purposeful creation of aspects of ourselves, our personal and our business lives –  and decided to share our experiences in Create The Moment. We recognised that within a vast majority of women, we shared a feeling that wed lost control of aspects of our lives, even of our characters –  in our ability to make choices and to decide what we wanted and how we wanted to live in our futures.

 After running workshops, we adapted our ideas into an online 6 week course, showing how it is possible to return to your past to choose what you want to stay, and how to use the amazing strength we all have, to choose our future.

Create the Moment

 Having spent weeks writing and editing the course documents, I suddenly saw how the process it invites you to go through, is similar to the process of creating. It has all the initial excitement that is familiar in the new start of any creative project. There are many, many moments in it that will bring you close to tears –  but throughout it, there is always hope – and finally, the end promises not just completion –  but a brand new start. And therein lies the real comparison to creating –  that an end is just another start, to a phase in another journey.

 Readers and newsletter subscribers of The Mercerie have a special code allowing them 20% off the full price of the Create Your Vision online course. Use code Mercerie20 when you book using this link. Next course starts 1st June 2016.

 

Boo Marshall is a photographer and film maker. (Eliza Boo Photography and Dynamic Dog Productions). She is also co founder of Create The Moment with Johanna Garlike, photographer at Summer Love Photography.

 

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EOS, Easter and a New Dawn.

As Easter approaches and the green shoots of spring finally appear I can, at last, welcome the season of renewal and rebirth.

I love the anticipation of this time of year with it’s promise of warmer months and longer days, and I’m fascinated by its spiritual mix of Christianity, paganism and ancient Germanic Goddesses.

Eostre may well be a modern myth whose roots go no further than new age paganism, but she still has a presence in our Easter mythology; one that seamlessly combines rabbits, chocolate eggs, tricksters, fertility festivals, parades, bonnets, the crucifixion, the resurrection and  glorious new dawns.

Whilst Eostre and Ostara may be little more than the goddesses of romantic conjecture, this month I have been reminded of the Titan goddesses Eos; the goddess of dawn and the female spirit that dissolves darkness under a shower of light.

Eos rises from the river each morning in her golden chariot drawn by winged horses, and with her rosy fingers she opens the gates of heaven so that the sun may rise and disperse the mists of night.

Eos enables the light to come streaming through and she accompanies the sun, Helios as he travels across the heavens. The Titan goddess signifies beautiful new beginnings and recently I was reminded that every day begins with a glorious dawn and ends with the promise of resurrection.

EOS Programme

This month I finally committed to the Eos programme, a course of self discovery and personal regeneration, and I think I’m beginning to see some light –  over there on the horizon.

Eos is a 2 part programme for women designed to reframe your thinking, kick your negative thought habits, and move forward towards a brighter, more fulfilled future. It is intense, liberating and empowering and after just one day I felt like I’d finally got a handle on my internal dimmer switch and could begin turning the lights up.

It’s a straightforward programme and beautiful in its simplicity. Much of what is covered seems like common sense, but it’s alarming how blinkered we become, and how deafened by the noise in our heads that we are no longer able to listen to our own intuition, as we attempt to navigate our way through our complex modern  lives.

After just one day feel I have been given permission to take control of my life. No- one had taken it away from me – I’d just let go of the steering wheel.

EOS Programme 2

Jenny Eaton, who presented the session, is an engaging speaker whose knowledge, skills and serious intent are delivered with humour and empathy fusing psychology, philosophy and anecdotal evidence with a recurring theme of……. men’s pants.

Thank you for that visual metaphor Jenny!

We discussed the ways we think, how we measure our successes, personal responsibility and our own self image and as we shared stories and discussed scenarios and considered our values I think each of the 10 women in the room experienced a light bulb moment. Not the startling glare of a 100 watt flash light; more of a slow turn of the switch enabling us to gradually get used to the light that was starting to illuminate our thoughts.

It was a long day, and I felt exhausted, and rather emotional when I got home.

One week later, with time to reflect, I feel different. I feel calmer, lighter, empowered; my thoughts are clearer and I’m very much looking forward to Part Two.

Thank you Eos for opening the gates.

Happy Easter!

You can find full details on the Eos programme, seminars and 1-1 coaching here.

Image 1 (clockwise from left)

Image 2

Image 3

Image 4

 

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Crochet Motifs: Pattern and Repetition

Crochet flower motifs

I’ve been rather busy lately, working on some new designs and planning some new crochet workshops. Progress has been slow though, mainly hampered by my inability to stay on task and focus on the patterns I’m trying to develop.

I just can’t help it though! How is it possible to stay on task when you’re presented with a myriad of pattern possibilities?

One of the things I love about making little crochet motifs is that each one is a small, but perfectly formed (*cough*) object of beauty and completion. It’s very satisfying to finish something – however small it might be but if you can make one – you can make one hundred and then you have the potential to create something absolutely amazing!!

A single object can be nice, good, interesting, beautiful even. But multiply it by 10, 100, 1000 and then you have something extraordinary, fabulous and magnificent and I just can’t stop myself playing with these thoughts.

crochet motifs

 

Crochet motifs 2

Crochet motifs 3

As humans we naturally seek out pattern, repetition and order. There is something inherently satisfying in placing things in order, in sequence, in a pattern –  it is this simple, primal urge that prompts designers to play, explore and repeat a motif.

If you study decoration from any historical period, and any culture and you will find yourself in the repetitive realm of tessellations, mirrors, rotations, drops and half drops. And I can lose myself for far too long meditating with the rhythms of pattern repetition

escher

islamic patterns

quilts

I’ve been thinking a great deal about how to explore these ideas in my own work, and how to answer the question I’m often presented with – ‘what can I do with all these crochet motifs; how can I join them together?”

So I’ve been working on trying to resolve this…and rather enjoying the results and the possibilities. (with a little help from photoshop!)

Joining Crochet Motifs

Joining Crochet Motifs 2

Why stop at ‘nice’? There’s power in numbers. Aim big, be ambitious, and make something amazing.

You just have to do the same thing again and again and again……

If you’d like to explore the possibilities of pattern repetition and discover exciting new ways to piece together your crochet motifs why not join us for a masterclass at Norfolk Yarn in Norwich on March 18th?

We’re also running a rather lovely flower class too…..

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Red Threads at the Wool Shop

It’s nearly Valentines day and once again I’ve been busy working on a themed window display for the Norwich Lanes Valentines window competition. Some of you may remember last years display – and this year I was thrilled to be asked to work with the fabulous wool shop Norfolk Yarn in Pottergate.

A stash of wool, some red thread, a spinning wheel, a few nails and a roll of rose print wallpaper all feature in this years display, and I’m very grateful to Rebecca at the shop for humouring my rather loose  interpretation of the Valentines theme!

Wool, string, or thread of some description was always going to be the essence of this work. It describes the shop and defines my self.

As a child of the 1970’s I was threading string around nails in a fashion that was eventually unravelled, rewound and reworked into the most beautiful and evocative artworks of contemporary artists such as Chiharu Shiota and Debbie Smyth.

String art

Image 1 Image 2

There is something very emotive about red thread. It features in many different cultures as a metaphor or signifier for emotional  ties and familial relationships.

The Red String of Fate is a myth with its roots in East Asia and the story goes that the gods tie a red string around the ankles, or the little fingers, of two people that are destined to meet and become soulmates. The magical cord may become stretched, or tangled over time, but it will never break.

The tug of an invisible thread reminds us of our connections to others; our heart strings are strummed, we’re bound by duty; it’s time to cut the apron strings; there’s no strings attached, it’s a long drawn-out affair, who’s pulling your strings? I can’t seem to string this sentence together….. String Art   String Art   String Art Crochet Valentine hearts pattern   I can’t finish this post without the promise of a little Valentines gift……….so if you rather like the look of the little crochet hearts in this display – I’ll give you the pattern in Issue 20 of The Mercerie Post!

You can Register here: The Mercerie Post Issue 20

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Vision Boards and Action Plans

A new year and a 2015 diary present 365 blank pages to fill.

With every new year hopes and ambitions can be edited,  goals redrawn and new dreams imagined in a rose tinted landscape that signals the dawn of our future selves.

When the year was just a few days old I met with 6 lovely women from all walks of life to discuss our hopes and dreams for the coming year; to share our innermost thoughts – (and some rather fine pumpkin soup; thank you Caroline!) and to create our Vision Boards for 2015

Conversation and visualisation drew us together, and a mountain of magazines, some scissors and some glue, became the tools for constructing our new dreamscapes.

Swept up in the chaotic carnival of Christmas with its inevitable hangovers and  leftovers it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. When #consumerism is trending I lose all perspective and my personal goals and ambitions disappear into vanishing point, so a day of cutting and sticking helped me to put my aspirations back into the fame.

Our conversations that day were a roller coaster of emotions as we flicked through magazines and searched our souls, looking for pictures of our alter egos.

Vision Boards 1

Vision

Vision Boards 3

At times we were surprised, and shocked, by what we found on our vision boards.

On mine #largeandostentatiousflashydesignerjewellery was a significant trend, without so much as a wool fibre in sight.

Vision Boards 4

Vision Boards 5

My vision boards are now on the wall in my new studio and will be my daily reminder of how important it is to aspire, look forward and imagine a better future.

However, I am not naturally a fantasist and over the last day or so I’ve been hearing the words of Professor Richard Wiseman, from his book 59 Seconds; Think a Little. Change a Lot.

“…fantasising about your perfect world may make you feel better but is unlikely to transform your dreams into reality.”

Change can only take place if you action it, and this is what Wiseman suggests.

  1. Write down what you want to achieve.
  2. Remind yourself, regularly, why you want to achieve it.
  3. Make a plan and break it down into small, manageable, steps.
  4. Tell people what you are doing.
  5. Reward each small achievement.

Visualisation is an excellent point of departure…..

….but then you must Take Action!

HAPPY NEW YEAR

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Paper Cutouts and Crochet Snowflakes

If October is orange, November in Britain is most definitely grey. Outside the sky is grey, the morning fog is grey, and inside, I feel grey. I have to remind myself that grey is a tone not a state of mind. November is Grey In fact grey is a whole spectrum of tonal colour  from the most delicate pearlescence  through polished concrete, platinum, gun metal  and  charcoal. Grey exists in an achromatic world and its tonalities have captured history since the invention of the camera obscura.

As I watch the colours fade from the seasonal pallet I wait patiently for the glittering signifiers that winter is here. Winter brings with it the shiny finale to the seasonal calendar with  crisp frosty mornings, freezing cold mists, cracked puddles of ice and the hushed quiet of pure white snow scapes.

Winter has it’s own exquisite  beauty and the excitement of the first winter snowfall is magical for a brief moment in time. So this month I shall celebrate  winter, that huge exclamation mark after the sentence that is November. This year I will shake the icy fingers of Jack Frost, accept his frozen gifts with grace and wait for the first snowflakes to fall…..

In a cloud, a water droplet freezes and takes on a six fold crystalline formation. It shoots out six radials and starts to travel through the cloud. As it travels it bumps into other particles, it moves through different temperatures and humidity’s continuously melting and reforming into complex asymmetrical shapes.

The radials, or arms, each form independently and most snowflakes are visibly irregular; it is estimated that less than 0.01% of snowflakes are perfectly symmetrical. In contrast, it is almost impossible to find an image of an asymmetrical snowflake. It seems that even a snowflake can’t escape our prejudice against perceived imperfection – regular ones look nicer in photos.

It is well documented that it is almost impossible to find two identical snowflakes. In the late 19th century Wilson Alwyn Bently  searched for two icy twins as he documented images of over 5000 snowflakes, captured under a microscope. Snowflakes Images from Snowflake Bently.com

There is something very compelling about the imperfect uniqueness of a single snowflake that makes it the perfect motif for home-made Christmas decorations, and the starting point for a new crochet project. Paper cutting is perhaps, unlike bronze sculpture, abstract expressionism and landscape painting, not perceived to be a proper, grown up, artistic endeavour.

So here’s my advise, if you are on the receiving end of withering looks, patronising glances and quiet tutting when you pick up your paper scissors, consider what Henry Matisse, Rob Ryan or Tord Boontje might have to say, then snip away and watch the confetti fall. Paper Cut Art Image 1. Image 2. Image 3

How To Make a Paper Cut-Out Snow Flake.

I used large A3 sized sheets of paper, but A4 sized printer paper would be fine. First fold in half lengthwise and mark the central point on the folded edge with a small crease. With the folded edge at the bottom fold both edges in so that they are overlapping (see photos) and your paper is folded into 3 equal potions. paper cut snowflake Fold again bringing all the folded edges together. Crease well. Cut off the untidy bits at the top of your folded ‘dart’.

Now draw your design on the paper. This might take some planning. The most important thing is that your design touches both folded edges and also runs continuously from top to bottom. It might help to shade in the areas you are going to cut away. paper cut snowflake 2 Then snip with a sharp pair of scissors (I used nail scissors) and unfold. paper cut snowflake 3 Give it  a press – and your done! I have to admit to getting rather obsessed by the paper cutting. paper cut snowflakes paper cut out snowflakes but I did manage to create some crochet snowflakes too! crochet snowflakes We’re going to be making some gorgeous crochet snowflakes  at our Christmas Crochet Workshops, along with some other rather cute little seasonal decorations – but if you can’t join us we’ll include a couple of patterns in our next issue of The Mercerie Post which will be out very soon. Christmas Crochet at Norfolk Yarn

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Knitted Lampshades and a Festival of Light

WARNING – this blog post contains a picture of a big black spider.

As the nights draw in, the clocks go back and lighting up time creeps in a bit earlier each afternoon I begin to get slightly anxious. I can sense the approaching storm so I batten down the hatches and prepare to ride it out.

This is not my favourite time of year. I enjoy watching the world change colour, but for me, Autumn is simply the wrong end of the seasonal spectrum. As I turn back the clock I long to re-wind it all the way back to the dawn of spring and the promise of long summer days again.

Yes, I know there is much to celebrate at this time of year and I manage to brave Halloween behind the mask of a comedy scream. A firework phobia, however, makes it impossible for me to appreciate the explosive celebrations of bonfire night. I can really only enjoy a large bonfire with a stiff drink in one hand and a hose pipe in the other; and my arachnophobia peeks as the supermarkets restock their shelves with spiders.

But I am  determined to confront my fears this year, and in this week of Diwali I’ve had a light bulb moment. It’s time to lighten up.

This autumn I shall take inspiration from a culture different to my own. Light will triumph over darkness and hope over despair. I’m going to fill my home with light.

I want the Blackpool illuminations in my living room and floodlights in my garden. I want a crown of twinkly fairy lights and a fibre optic nightie. I want to bathe in the light of a million candles every time I go to the bathroom – and I’m going to plant a bed of daylight bulbs to stop me feeling sad at night.

So I’ve been looking for a little lighting inspiration and this is what I found……knitted lampshades 1Image 1 Ariel Design

Image 2 Ikea Hackers

Image 3 Les Petits Bohemes knittted lampshades 2Image 1 Naomi Paul

Image 2 Freshome

Image 3 Naomi Paul

Yesterday, buzzing with excitement, I nipped down to my local DIY store  for a lamp to customise and set to work on a Knitted Halloween lampshade.

halloween lampshade 2

If you’d like to make a Halloween Lampshade too, this is what you will need –

  • A small table lamp with a shade. (like this one I bought in Homebase)
  • DK weight yarn (our black and sunshine yellow merino would be perfect)
  • A length of black pom pom trim like this one from Beyond Fabrics.
  • 4mm knitting needles.

Halloween Knitted Lampshade We’ll give you the knitting pattern in Issue 17 of The Mercerie Post – so don’t forget to register!

I feel better already – Happy Halloween and/or Diwali!

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