It’s been such a long time since I wrote a post just about crafty endeavours, so I figured this is long overdue. That and the fact it’s been sitting in my pending posts list since June last year! Without further ado, here’s my first foray into felting under the tutelage of my friend V. (Sorry it’s taken so terribly long to write up V!).
Let’s turn the clock back to December 2016 when we were the lucky recipients of this beautiful hand felted snowdrop card. It had been made by our friend V who I had often had long chats about all things crafty with. She had mentioned that she did a bit of felting but until I received this gorgeous card, I hadn’t seen any of her work.
She invited me to come to her place and have a go myself – I couldn’t say no to that could I?
V asked me to come with an idea for a picture in mind, it had to be Gibraltar didn’t it? I had a huge range of colours to chose from before beginning…
The first job was to layer up the fibres of white wool vertically and horizontally across a sheet of bubble wrap to form a base.
Once about three layers were laid out, I pulled thin amounts of yarn fibres in various shades of blue to form the basic background of the picture.
In order to get the fibres to lie flat, we combed the yarn between two large paddle hairbrushes.
Slowly the shape of the Rock began to emerge.
Once the rough shape was in place, it was time to get felting. Hot soapy water was splashed onto the picture…
… before enveloping the whole thing with bubble wrap and rubbing. And there was a whole lot of rubbing involved to try and get the fibres to ‘knit’ together.
The image had changed a bit after this.
Then it was time to peel off the felted picture and get ready to squeeze the water out.
To do this, we laid it on an off cut of a bamboo blind, then rolled it up.
We rolled and rolled to squeeze the soapy water out and to further bind the fibres together.
Then it was time for a bit of throwing practice. It was a good workout this felting business! Splat into the kitchen sink time and time again!!
It was then pegged out to dry. The base was finished, ready to reconvene on another day to embellish it further and add more details.
Inspired by this photo I took on a trip out into the Bay of Gibraltar on a dolphin trip, I decided to attempt to add a boat to my picture. Some of the details were added using a barbed felting needle to add yarn fibres to the background picture.
Once the yacht and a few tower blocks were added, I got the sewing machine out.
So that was my machine embroidery complete, now it was time for a bit of hand stitched embellishments.
Finally, a whole year after I began this picture, the time had come to finish it!
Are you ready? Drum roll please……
And here it is on the wall…
Thank you so much V for your expert tutelage…. looks like I have another hobby!!
Perhaps next time it won’t take a year to finish it!!
It couldn’t just be one photo for this week, I guess I have too many hobbies…
Since putting my career on hold to start a family, and then moving to Gibraltar, I have been lucky enough to be able to carve out a bit of free time to do fun stuff as the children have got older. I was always quite crafty as a young girl and enjoyed sewing and creating things, these days I love to crochet and do some embroidery in my spare time. I also attend watercolour and dressmaking classes during school term times (following the path of creative study I would have liked to do in my youth but opted for the ‘sensible’ academic option which came up trumps and got me a job to pay the for mortgage).
But that’s not all, my other hobby is wandering round Gibraltar taking loads of photos and then turning those into blog posts about where we live. It is that hobby which has broadened my horizons as a stay-at-home Mum and reconnected me to the outside world after over a decade out of the workplace. It also gave me the confidence to go back to work on a part-time basis, something which I am really enjoying.
If you fancy joining in with the Postcard from Gibraltar Friday Photo Challenge, you can do that on your blog or via Instagram. Just tag me in your post or post your blog link into the comments below, or use the tag #postcardfromgibfridayphoto on Instagram so we can all see each other’s photos.
So this week’s prompt for the photo challenge is ‘favourite’. I couldn’t narrow it down to just one thing, so here are a selection of my favourite things…
If I could close my eyes and be anywhere right now, it would be on a leafy woodland walk in the English countryside on a spring or summer’s day. It’s something I miss a lot living where I do, and it’s always one of the highlights of my trips home to visit my family in the summer – we always have to have a woodland walk and a picnic!
That said, I do live in a very beautiful part of the world and my very favourite place in Gibraltar has to be the Med Steps! I have a bit of a thing about greenery… did you notice?
I have been inclined towards crafty things since being a child, I remember attending my first craft fair at the age of about 8 or 9. It was at a National Trust venue near to where I grew up (Tatton Park I think) and was in a series of huge marquees.
I was blown away by, first of all, being in these big tents, but also the sights and smells that greeted me and the wonderful array of crafts on offer. Suddenly my eyes were opened to the possibilities that I could one day make some of these wonderful things myself.
I left with a burgundy leather wristband to match my corduroy pinafore (child of the 70s/80s you see) which smelt divine and my heart had been lost to the world of crafting. My lovely Gran helped forge that love of craft. On my annual summer holidays up to her home in Scotland, she introduced me to embroidery, sewing, knitting, crochet and through her next door neighbours, smocking as well.
My favourite make from my holidays spent with her has to be this duckling embroidery made from a kit. I made it on a visit up north of the border and gave it to her as a thank you for having me to stay one summer (when I was about 14). It now hangs in my parents’ house and it reminds me of Gran and our summers whenever I see it.
In more recent times my favourite make has got to be this rainbow granny square blanket I made for the Sixty Million Trebles project. I love the colours on it.
It’s a tough one this, as eating is one of my favourite things of all time… would it be roast beef with Yorkshire puddings? Chocolate? Cream cakes? No, it has to be fish and chips eaten out of paper by the seaside! You just can’t beat it!
My Yarndale adventure began late on Friday night as I boarded my plane to Manchester. I’d left the rest of the Postcard family at home and it felt very strange to be heading off on an adventure without them this time. I was lucky that I was able to stay at my parent’s house in Manchester on the Friday night (well Saturday morning) because I didn’t get to bed until 2am Gibraltar time.
Despite the late night, we were up bright and early on Saturday morning and set off on the train to Skipton. I had the company of my lovely Mum for the whole day, that’s something which very rarely happens these days. In fact I can’t remember the last time we spent so long together on our own. We had a really good chat all the way across the Pennines.
Of course, I couldn’t go to Yarndale without taking Llanita with me. Well when I say Llanita, I actually mean Llanita II. If you have read my post The adventures of Llanita, the Gibraltar Yarndale sheep, you’ll know all about Llanita I and Lanita II. Llanita I was already at Yarndale having made the trip by post (sorry about that my little sheepy friend). Llanita II was able to enjoy the passing Yorkshire countryside from the train window!
It was pretty obvious which of the other passengers on the train were travelling to Yarndale. There were rather a lot of knitting needles clicking away on nearby seats and much yarny talk. Before we knew it, we’d arrived in Skipton.
There was a special double-decker bus decorated with lovely crochet bunting and mandalas ferrying festival-goers between the station and the Auction Mart where all the fun was happening. We opted to walk though, so we could see all the yarnbombing we’d heard about en-route.
Our first port of call, after such an early start was the legendary Coopers cafe, venue for much crochet activity and of course the home of Lucy from Attic24’s studio.
We were very lucky as we seemed to be ahead of the lunchtime rush. We ordered sandwiches and coffee and considered our plan of attack for the day.
Even Llanita got in on the Coopers coffee action!
Readers of Attic24 will know that upstairs above the cafe is a very special place. The scene of much colourful inspiration, Lucy’s Studio, was open for all visitors to the cafe to see for themselves. There was even wool and knitting needles on the stair on the way up to the studio.
Crochet bunting greeted us at the top of the stairs too.
And there it was, that room which has featured in so many blog posts and some of the beautiful creations made by Lucy over the years. It felt slightly odd to be in there, as if I was trespassing on someone’s private space even though it was open for anyone to call in.
It felt as though I’d been sucked through the screen on my computer into the virtual world on the other side!!
It was wonderful to be able to see examples of Lucy’s work for real rather than on a screen. It was so tidy – unlike my crafty corner. I feel inspired to have a tidy up and sort out!
Even Lucy’s bowl of yarn pegs was out on the window ledge.
It felt like such a privilege to be there. Even the beautiful fabric appliqué and embroidered logo for the Attic 24 blog was lying out on the dresser for all to admire.
The time had come for Mum and I to head off to Yarndale. (Thank you to the lovely lady at Coopers who came out from behind the counter to point us in the right direction, we would have been going completely the wrong way if it had been down to me!)
Our walk up to the Auction Mart took us along the canal tow path where even a narrow boat was decorated with knitted bunting and pompoms in honour of Yarndale.
Soon we caught sight of the lovely handmade signs pointing us in the right direction towards the Yarn Walk and our goal.
The bridge across the canal brought us to the entrance of Aireville Park where every lamp post was yarn bombed. This is just a small selection of the many which lined the path that cuts through the park and up the hill towards Yarndale.
There was no fear that we’d get lost on the way – it was so well signposted!
The yarnbombs grew in the their complexity as we neared the Auction Mart. Mum and I spent ages outside the building just admiring the amazing creations adorning the bollards! Made by the Thirsk Yarnbombers, the level of detail that had gone into making these was just incredible. I have since realised that we missed a few but here’s a selection of what we admired.
So much exquisite creativity and we hadn’t even crossed the threshold of the auction mart venue!
Lucy’s huge mandalas blew about suspended from the branches of a tree.
Even this converted ice cream van selling finger puppets was completely yarnbombed as well!
The 200th anniversary of the Leeds to Liverpool canal was celebrated by this watery yarn walk across the lawn.
Enough of outside, let’s go in. Tickets were inspected, wristbands attached and we were in…
The first sight which met us was the beautiful bunting made for the first Yarndale back in 2013. I looked hard to spot my Gibraltar bunting triangle but couldn’t see it. There were literally thousands of bunting triangles festooned around the venue, but this section was a real show stopper!
It was so busy inside when we first arrived that it was hard to see what everyone was looking at. After a moment of trying to peer over people’s shoulders I spotted a huge flock of Yarndale sheep perched on bales of straw. I couldn’t get close enough to spot whether Llanita I was there so resolved to pop back later when the crowds had thinned out.
As we set foot into the main area where all the stalls were, it was an assault on the senses. The noise of the chattering crowds and the riot of colour was quite overwhelming. Mum and I decided to have a quick wander round to get our bearings before attempting to do anything. I was given some very useful advice by Instagram friends to just explore before buying anything because otherwise, you’ll have spent all your money by the third stall! It was wise advice indeed -thank you!
The yarns on display were unlike anything I have ever seen before, so many colours and textures and endless possibilities of what you could use them for.
There were huge boards decorating the livestock pens with some of the mandalas from the 2014 festival.
The skill which had gone into the work on display was just amazing and far beyond anything I could contemplate attempting.
Even the Moomins put in an appearance!
It wasn’t just about knitting and crochet though, there were many stalls selling the unspun wool as well as all the equipment needed to have a go at home yourself. Despite this lady assuring the fascinated onlookers that it’s a lot simpler than it looks, I resisted the temptation to embark on another hobby for now. I don’t think a spinning wheel would have fitted into my case!
This was a day of firsts for me. Never before had I seen yarn and needles on such a BIG scale! This stand by Woolly Mahoosive had attracted loads of people wanting to have a go at knitting with needles as broad as my arm!
There was so much to see and take in.
Just look at these blankets….
At the heart of the Auction Mart was the Knit and Natter Lounge where people were gathering to eat their packed lunches and take advantage of some sitting down time to do a bit of crochet or knitting. It was also a magnet for fans and followers of Attic 24. The gate into this section was decorated by the beautiful Attic 24 logo created by crochet blogger Little Tin Bird. And of course, Lucy was there too.
I have to admit that I was a little nervous approaching Lucy, her’s is the first blog I ever followed and I am in awe of her work, but I seized the moment and introduced myself. Her first reaction was to give me a hug and say that her son loved my Yarndale sheep. I was a little stunned that she even knew who I was! Lucy’s youngest son ‘Little B’ had been helping her in the run up to the festival, unwrapping the sheep as they arrived through the post to Yarndale HQ and he’d been rather taken by Llanita.
I explained that I’d temporarily lost my original Llanita and ended up making two but had brought the second one with me to Yarndale. I asked if she would like to take her home for Little B and she said she would like that very much. So here is Llanita and Lucy, I am so happy that she has gone to a good home (and the home of the person behind the Yarndale sheep project).
I have since heard from Lucy that Little B was thrilled that Llanita had come home to live at his house. I’m so pleased that I brought her along with me for the ride!
After the excitement of meeting my crochet hero, I was beaming as I headed into the Workshop Theatre ready for a class that I’d signed up for. I was about to make a ‘Rip and Stitch Brooch’ with textile artist Jaki Bogg. I arrived to find a tray of goodies in front of me to make the brooch.
Jaki was a great help and offered much advice and encouragement as our group set to work on our creations.
(Apologies for the back lighting on this photo)
We were set to work choosing some embroidery cotton to embellish our brooches with.
And we were advised to layer up and position our fabric then take a photo so that we could remember exactly how we wanted it to look at the end.
I thought it rather appropriate that some of my fabric had print of handwriting and a stamp on seeing as I am Postcard from Gibraltar!
The hour and a quarter flew by in a flurry of stitching and chatter with my next door neighbour Katherine who had visited Yarndale several times before.
Before we knew it, our time was up. I enjoyed the process and would never have attempted anything along these lines before. I have filed all the information and and advice from Jaki away for future reference, perhaps I should attempt a fabric and stitch picture instead of a painting one of these days….
Once we’d left the workshop area, where Mum had taken advantage of the time to have a sit down and chat with a lady from Wales who had come with her crochet hook, I called my Instagram & blogging friend Wakey Makes to find her and meet up for the first time. Sadly, I had left it too late and she was already on her way home to Wakefield by then.
It’s such a shame we missed each other but she was able to tell me a very interesting bit of news… she had bought Llanita I!! I cannot believe that I found out where Llanita ended up. Of all the people she could have gone home with, I’m thrilled that she’s with Karen. I’m sure she will look after her well.
Mum and I made our way around the rest of the stalls for a mooch about. While I had been in the workshop, the crowds had thinned out considerably and it was a lot easier to see what was on offer.
I have long admired the work of Toft Alpaca and love the animals from the Edward’s Menagerie pattern books. It was just lovely to see so many of them on display together. I particularly liked the little bearded dog!
The Craven Guild of Lacemakers were on hand to talk to visitors about the intricate work that they do and offer demonstrations too. The intricacy and number of threads they work at the one time just boggles my mind!
After my recent foray into shawl making over the summer I was on a quest to buy some yarn to make another one for the winter months. I went to stall after stall looking for the right thing, but was very indecisive until I reached Esgair Fibres. Stall holder, Joanna, took the time to explain the qualities of her yarn and showed a crochet shawl she had made using just one ball of the beautiful wool she stocks, so I bought this lovely variegated yarn.
It was great to be able to see Janie Crow’s Lily Pond blanket ‘in the flesh’.
And I loved these cards… the one in the centre of the picture is particularly apt in my case I think!! 😉
All in all the day was a total woolly overload!
By the time we’d returned to the flock of woolly Yarndale sheep, their number was rather depleted, but this little chap from the Isle of Man came with me for the trip back to Gibraltar. Allow me to introduce you to Laxey, my Manx Yarndale sheep. If anyone recognises him and knows who made him, please let them know that I’ll look after him well!
Before leaving I spotted a map for people to attach pins to show where they had come from. Can you spot my red pin for Gibraltar?
As we headed out of the Auction Mart to catch the double decker bus back to town and the station, we passed a table with a box filled with some of the ‘Woolly Hearts for Yarndale’. Just with that, another lady approached with a fresh box of hearts and put them down on the table.
I asked her whether the appeal had been successful and if they’d reached the target of 7000. She beamed as she said that well over 7000 had been received and it had been a huge success. Could this lady be @bonnies_little_crafts from Instagram, the mastermind of the appeal? Yes it was! I was so pleased to be able to meet Yvonne and chat with the person whom I’d sent my consignment of hearts to.
And here’s my very own woolly Yarndale heart, it’s come home with me on my bag!
It was time to head home, Mum and I went out to catch the beautifully decorated bus back towards the station. For a donation towards Martin House children’s hospice (also the recipient of the money raised from the Yarndale sheep sale) we got our passage onto the top deck and found our seats.
Even the interior was decorated for the festival!
A lovely mandala hung in the window next to me.
The bus soon filled up with festival goers weighed down with their yarny purchases.
So I guess you want to see what I bought then? 17 balls of wool, a calendar, notebook, Yarndale sheep, stitch markers and a scissor keeper with a tiny silver sheep on to remember my time at Yarndale.
This little lot should keep me busy!
I also loved this greeting card so much that I had to get one – it will be my motto from now on… 😜
After a very long journey back to Manchester (we sort of got the wrong train – which stopped at every station between Leeds and Manchester!!), Mum and I had an early night before heading back to airport to fly back to Gibraltar.
And so I am back where I began, if it weren’t for the photos and the large stash of yarn I’ve returned with, I’d swear it had all been a dream. Yarndale 2016 was everything I’d hoped for and more. I met lovely people including the lovely Lucy at Attic24 who has inspired me so much over the past few years, I saw such amazing yarny creations and have come back brimming with ideas and enthusiasm to carry on creating… now where did I leave my hook?
Footnote : Would you like to see a photo of Llanita I in her new West Yorkshire home? Well here she is along side a very appropriately coloured pair of socks in the making… Thank you Wakeymakes for giving her a good home xxx