Friday 30 November 2012

Slow Bloggers Linky

Can it really be December tomorrow?  Anyway, time to look back over November and take stock.  Here in the land of the slow blogger it has been a mixed month.  For the last week we have been living in chaos because we are having a new suite put in our tiny and previously horrid bathroom. This involves using a bucket to flush the loo and washing in a saucepan, so it's a bit like camping (just as cold too because the heating has to be off most of the time) but for some reason it's been quite good for productivity - it must be the adrenalin:-)

So, I have finished my bunting, and made a tutorial for Liberty brooches.  I also have two quilts in meaningful stages of progress and not on the back burner.

Other highlights of the month include falling backwards into a rosebush in front of my gardening group of small school children and shouting "Bollocks" really loudly.   What about you?!   If you would like to share a little creeping progress, and the events of your month, please do link up below.

Knotted Cotton

Wednesday 28 November 2012

WIP Wednesday

Leaves quilt has been put aside at the moment while I try to clear my pile of some other projects.  I've been working on the quilt top I'm making with Lily Ashbury's Tradewinds.   I love these beautiful bright colours.

It's going to be for one of my children.  Does anyone else find it hard to find your own personal style?  Maybe you shouldn't be pinned down to one thing, but it does make interior design problematic:-)  I really love things with quite a restrained colour palette, but then I also really admire things which are very bright and colourful. Making things for my kids is rather handy, because I can really go for it!

Talking restrained colour palette, I've been making Christmas bunting with my lovely star bundle.

So far I have made ten metres, and I have fabric for another two and a half - so it's going to work out at about £1.40 a metre.    I'm so happy with it - the fabric is a lovely slubby natural cotton (calico? muslin?), and I found a wide bias binding in exactly the same colour to string the flags on.  It looks quite classy and "Country Living Magazine";-)   I had to hang it up on the window temporarily to photograph because I'm mean about not having decorations up until the week before Christmas - but I'll post a picture of the whole thing in situ then.

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Monday 26 November 2012

How to make an origami Liberty fabric brooch

(Please don't pin all the images in this tutorial, thank you :-)

A while back I had learned to make origami lotus flowers at an event at our local botanic gardens and was inspired to make fabric ones into pincushions - you can see my tutorial here.

How about brooches?!

I'm so pleased with them -  but you probably can't go wrong with Liberty.   I thought they might make good stocking fillers/teacher presents, or how about using them to embellish a bag or purse?

The technique is pretty similar to my pincushions, but here is how I made them.   I am sure that there are many ways that this could be perfected - if you think of anything, please do let me know.

Please forgive the terrible lighting (I can't wait until the sun is shining again - when this will be is anyone's guess), and the not very professional paint all over my hands - I've been painting bookshelves.

You will need:
Two 5" liberty charm squares  (this gives you a brooch at around 2" - a smaller square would be possible, but very fiddly - of course you could make a bigger one, like my pincushions).  I get my Liberty charms from the lovely Ali at Very Berry Fabrics.
A piece of Bondaweb/Wonder Under the same size
A piece of felt approximately 2" square
A brooch fitting
A bead or button of choice

1.  Here are my two Liberty squares, and square of Bondaweb.

2.  The Bondaweb has a rough side - the gluey side - and a paper side.  Place the Bondaweb glue side down on the wrong side of one Liberty square, and fix in place by ironing.

3. Carefully peel away the paper, and discard.  You should now have a residue of glue on your Liberty square. Place the second one on top so that the wrong sides are together.  (Obviously not offset, which I did here for clarity!)

4.  Iron in place, and you should now have a double-sided Liberty square which is more responsive to folding.  You could perhaps use thicker fabric, one square only, and starch it (I haven't tried this as I wanted to use Liberty lawn - if you do, let me know!)

5.  Trim up your square, to make sure it is true.

6.  Fold on the diagonal and press lightly to leave a mark.

7.  Do the same on the other diagonal, so that you have found the centre point.

8.  Now, one by one, fold the corners into the middle, pressing them into place with your iron.

9.  Again, take the corners and press them into the middle. The square is getting smaller, so I'm holding it in place with the point of my scissors, so you can see.

10.  Turn it over.

11.  Now once again, fold the corners into the middle. The result should look like this, with some neat folds.

and the other side will look like this, with four flaps..

12.  Turn back over...

...then reach round and take hold of the point of one of those little flaps and gently pull it upwards until it looks like this.  Hold the fold in place with your thumb like this while you do it.

12.  Repeat with all four flaps...

...until you have this.

13. Carefully holding them in place, turn your piece over.  Four more flaps remain at the back.  Just open them out... that the corners of them show in front like this.

14.  Sew a button or bead of your choice to the centre, which also holds the folds in place:

A fabric-covered button would look fab!

For a different look, omit step 13, which gives you a simpler flower.

15.  Seal any raw edges with clear nail varnish, or Fray Stop.

16.  Now sew your square of felt to the back, attach your brooch fitting, and Bob's your uncle.


I made two versions of this brooch.  One used two squares of Liberty, and the other used a square of Liberty backed with a white cotton sheeting.  You can catch a glimpse of white in between the folds at the back, but they are not visible on the front, and it made for a slightly more substantial brooch,

If you want something waterproof you might try Mod-Podging the result.

Would you like to try making one, and let me know if these instructions are clear?  If you are a follower, just let me know in the comments section if you would like one and I will send the first three people a little kit.  Let me know your favourite two colours, and I'll try and oblige from my Liberty stash, though I can't promise!  They are fun to make, and rather addictive.

Linking up to:
Plum and June

Friday 23 November 2012

Really Random Thursday

There has been a lot of cupboard clearing going on in the Knotted Cotton household (displacement activity while plucking up courage to cut into the Oakshott...), and I have been sorting out a pile of stuff to go to the charity shop.  One old loud-speaker had a mysterious rattle.   This is the cause:

Yes:   five toy cows, two sheep, a dinosaur, a giraffe, a deer, a crocodile, a hippo, a panther and a pig, three Easter chicks, two pencils, two gekkos,  a butterfly,  a toy mobile phone, two wooden jigsaw pieces, a tangle of pipecleaners, a baby's hairbrush, an electronic thermometer, four hazelnuts, one parrot finger puppet and a plastic bee had all at one time or another been posted into the small hole at the front of the speaker by small children.

Back to the Oakshott - I had to show you the thread tangle I trimmed away after washing it.  The variety of colour illustrates how the shot cottons are woven - as each shot colour has a different thread woven with the red.   There must be some sort of textile art I could do with this - it's beautiful really!

Linking up to Really Random Thursday

Live A Colorful Life

Wednesday 21 November 2012

WIP Wednesday

Hooray! Back in the saddle again!

Photos taken in the gloom of Scottish winter - Christmas bunting:

and a little peek at the beginnings of a quilt I have been wanting to make ever since I first saw Oakshott:

It's a long time since I've been able to link up with WIP Wednesday!

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Festive spirit

I am hopeful that the creative mojo will return because I had a moment of weakness and bought some Christmas fabric.  It was folded up in the shape of a star, who could resist!

Somehow, some red and white craft felt, some robins, and a grown-up stripe also made their way into my bag.  

Thursday 15 November 2012


It's a long time since I posted anything I have made. For the last few weeks I have been creatively stuck.  Part of this is due to lack of time, and part of it is due to lack of inclination. It's not like there isn't a list of stuff I'd like to be getting on with, it's just that I seem to currently be incapable of getting on with it!

It is always reassuring to see other bloggers write they aren't getting as much done as they'd like too - a bit easy sometimes to compare yourself to people who seem to casually knock together a quilt or a purse every couple of days and despair!

Anyway.....I tried to get unstuck this weekend and got the watercolours out - there are so many beautiful colours in the fallen leaves round about.   It's pretty rough but it makes me happy to be doing stuff again.

Annekata posted this fantastic lecture from John Cleese about creativity - the brief gist of it is that you need Space, Time, Confidence and Humour to be creative.     If I can make space and time, try not to see imperfection as failure, and keep a sense of humour about my rather pitiful rate of production in comparison with other people, then maybe I'll have something worth posting soon.

In the meantime I'm really grateful to other bloggers for keeping it real!

Wednesday 14 November 2012


Camilla has kindly invited me to join in a tag!  (If you don't know Camilla's blog, you should check it out - her photography is beautiful as are her quilts.)

The rules of the tag are: 
  • Tell us 11 things about yourself
  • Answer the 11 questions that the person who tagged you has asked you
  • In turn you can tag up to 11 bloggers and ask 11 questions of them (the people you tag should have less than 200 followers). But skip this if you prefer!
  • Mention the blog that tagged you, but don't tag them back of course!

I really enjoyed Camilla's post - it's a fun way to find out about another blogger.  So here goes, with 11 random things about me, me, me:
  • I'm rather partial to Colin Firth.
  • Except for bright, clear, snowy days, I do not like the winter!
  • I love red wine and it was the only thing I craved when pregnant - I could smell an open bottle across the other side of a restaurant.
  • I struggle to find a true blogging "voice" - I'm essentially quite reserved and shy in real life, but have to rein in a tendency to burble on a bit.
  • My favourite thing about blogging is making contact with some really nice people who are interested in the same kind of things and face the same kind of difficulties in managing to do them!
  • I don't like heights - this is me, taking a photo to prove that on the third attempt I'd managed to make it to the middle of a rope bridge over a river crashing through a gorge.  Husband and kids had already crossed to the other side, had a good look around and come back.  You can see that I am hanging on for dear life.

  • I met my husband eleven years ago at a party that neither of us had planned to go to.    
  • During a stint as a Literary Agent's assistant, I briefly hobnobbed with the rich and famous who  aren't nearly as nice or interesting as the poor and obscure:-)
  • I never could understand why Mr Rochester had to lose an eye and a hand in order to have redeemed himself.
  • The bravest thing I have done in life is undertake an overnight bus trip from India to Nepal while suffering from dysentery - from Camilla's story about the goat I'm guessing our experiences here have been somewhat similar.
  • I love food and will eat pretty much anything except raw oysters. 

and here are Camilla's questions:
  • What is one of the best places you've been to?    In my backpacking days I went to a tiny island, called Siberut, off the west coast of Sumatra and trekked through the tropical forest with a local guide, staying with tattooed Mentawai people in log huts on stilts above pigs and chickens. From the depths of the forest we could hear the sound of chain saws so I hate to think what it's like now.

  • Where would you like to travel to, even if not possible at the moment?   Tibet. Or Ankor Wat in Cambodia.  
  • What's the best thing you've made?   I was pretty proud of this quilt, but generally feel that the best is yet to come.
  • What do your family/friends think about your blogging?   I tend not to mention it to anyone else in case they scorn it!   But my lovely husband is very supportive, sometimes literally.  

  • What else do you like to do in your spare time other than make stuff?  Reading, listening to music, walking, playing the piano, taking photos, going to the cinema, drawing/painting/etching, eating, and gardening on my allotment. Exciting, huh?!
  • What's the last good book you read?  I just re-read Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. By today's standards it's a short book, but there's so much in there.  It's intelligent without being unreadable, enjoyable on many different levels, and the character drawing is amazing.
  • What's on your "to read" list? There's a big hole in my knowledge where Charles Dickens should be.
  • What's your real job?  Jobbing gardener.
  • Would you choose it again? Why or why not?  At this stage of my life, definitely.  My entire career until babies ate my brain was in publishing, but I like to work outdoors, for myself, and whenever I can fit it in around family life. 
  • How many places have you lived in since you were born?  Three. NE Scotland, SE Scotland, London.  Now I'm back in SE Scotland again!
  • If you weren't living where you are, where would you live?    In the last six years we managed to save enough for road trips with the kids through British Columbia and New Zealand and we briefly considered living abroad for a while.   We are too close to our families to up sticks permanently but I think Vancouver would have been the place, if we had been rich enough to live next to Stanley Park! Or almost anywhere in NZ!

Now my questions for you:
  • Why do you blog?
  • What is your favourite thing about blogging?
  • Would you consider that you are the same person in real life?
  • What would you change in your life, if you could?
  • Where is your favourite place to be?
  • Do you admire anyone (historical or contemporary) and why?
  • What would you do, given sufficient funds?
  • What makes you happy?
  • What is your favourite food?
  • Have you ever had an adventure?
  • What is the thing you've done of which you are most proud?
Thank you, Camilla, for inviting me to take part!

I'm tagging eleven lovely blogs below in the hope that at the very least this directs some extra and deserved traffic their way.  But although I found this great fun I know that this kind of thing fills some people with horror - or maybe you have already participated in something like this recently - so please, people, don't feel obliged to participate!

Thursday 1 November 2012

Really Random Thursday

I love this plaque:

It manages to be both comical and at the same time terribly tragic!

Autumn is beautiful.

And if sometimes, as you head towards a long grey Scottish winter, it's easy to feel a bit like this:

Just remind yourself:


Linking up to:

Live A Colorful Life


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