Every summer needs a project. Something that requires learning a skill, but nothing so taxing the chances of success always remain a once wished dream. I also believe tools and ingredients matter – low cost, simple and preferably eco friendly; I think this one gets A stars in all the right boxes – a crocheted rag rug.
The best instructions and most of these pics come from this brilliant website – My Poppet, and this youtube channel has easy crochet instructions. But the necessary bits are easy to gather – you need a good supply a jute string (you can you wool, I just believe the jute gives it a unifying look as well as being strong and sturdy), a crochet hook and lots of unwanted clothes and material scraps.
The idea of cutting up unwanted clothes, particularly the things the children have grown out of really appeals. It’s that feeling of history and memories and life continuing on. The aim is to cut the cloth into one inch strips, then roll them into useable balls. There’s different ideas about how to attach different strips together, some people like to sew the strips together, others just overlap the strips and crochet them together as and when.
The crochet required to make the rug is literally the most basic stitch you’ll ever need – this isn’t about doing anything complicated, but more about time and care and working in slow time.
The size you go is totally up to you. The one tip I’ve read over and over again, is when it starts getting big, crochet on a flat surface to keep the rug flat.
Circles of life.
Laters, Kate x
For the last week, autumn decided to roll into London instead of July: Grey, swollen clouds, heavy rain, a significant drop in temperature and most surprisingly, strong, bough wrenching winds. They say Thursday will mark the change back to summer again. I hope so. I would like some more summertime in the garden, particularly now we have a water feature.
This is ours, hidden in the lavender. We wanted moving water to cool the air on really hot days. And it helps that the birds are delighted with our choice, particularly Mr Robin.
Fingers crossed the sun will be back at the end of this week.
Laters, Kate x
Ebay is not a safe place for me at the best of times, but now with an official project – let me write that again with capital, authoritative letters – Official Project – as my cover, it is very dangerous; our kitchen is beginning to look like a reclamation yard. But oh, the pleasure! These are the stained glass panels I have snaffled – genuine Victorian, everything between £50 – £60 (which I think is good value, though they do need work). I have visions of them over the doors, at the back of the pod, even in the apex space between the roof. Who knows where their final resting place/places will be, but I am loving the colours – the pale pinks, the greens and then the contrast of the strong blues and reds. I can imagine sitting on something comfy with a cup of tea, looking at the garden, with the late afternoon light sliding through making patterns on the floor. The real bonus was finding painted centres as well – look! A duck!!
(little cough..I have three of these…all slightly different. All insanely gorgeous)
This is possibly my favourite – a caterpillar! Such a great metaphor for life, the universe and everything…
Little glowing bits of handmade, re-cycled, re-loved heaven.
Now for the lights…..hehe
Laters, Kate x
My Black Lives Matter post last week was weak; an expansive gesture hiding behind art and it’s many interpretations. Part of the reason is because for me to talk about racism is to hold extra large cartons of organic ducks eggs, one in each hand, whilst attempting to ride a unicycle for the first time; it’s bound to end in a privileged mess. Instead I have watched and listened, and it seems to me, the strongest way forward is through education, re-education, thinking, reading and more listening. Below is a list of available resources, the first three being personal to me – articles and documentaries that first opened my eyes.
Jane Elliott is an American schoolteacher, anti-racism activist, and educator. She is known for her “Blue eyes–Brown eyes” exercise. She first conducted this famous exercise for her class on April 5, 1968, the day after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated; she wanted her pupils to feel the pain of racism. I don’t know when I first watched this documentary – maybe it was shown in a social science class at my secondary school – I do know I have carried it with me ever since. It wasn’t just the shock of segregation along seemingly inconsequential lines, it was the shock that people (in this case children) would not only go along with it, but it would influence their behaviour outside the classroom. It was a brilliant and brutal showcase of human failing, exposing our ever constant need to conform to a perceived power source and the contagion of group think.
White Privilege, ‘Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack’ by Peggy McIntosh, first written in 1989, is an article I only read in the last couple of years. Again, it had a profound effect. Whilst’s Jane’s exercise was about conscious discrimination, this was about the unconscious discrimination we allow without thinking because we just don’t see it, because to notice has been conditioned out of us. She informed me, the word is not equal and there is no thing as meritocracy.
Notice anything about my education? White and female…
There’s not enough space to fill the books, words and videos of Maya Angelou. But with her brilliance, strength, wit and wonder, she remains a huge influence. My Grandmother gave me my first copy of a book by her – I know why the cages bird sings – and I can see it as I type this.
For the following list, I want to thank the High Low podcast, it is the result of their research combine with others such as the New York Times. Please refer back to this link if any of the links below don’t work:
Why I Am No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
I Am Not Your Baby Mother by Candice Brathwaite
White Fragility by Robin Diangelo
Between The World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
How To Be Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi
The Good Immigrant compiled by Nikesh Shukla
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
Women Race and Class by Angela Davis
White Rage by Carol Anderson
Brit-ish by Afua Hirsch
My Name Is Why by Lemn Sissay
Slay In Your Lane by Elizabeth Uviebinené & Yomi Adegoke
A Burst of Light by Audre Lorde
Don’t Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri
Taking Up Space: The Black Girls Manifesto For Change by Chelsea Kwakye & Ore Ogunbiyi
Me and White Supremacy by Layla F Saad
Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall
Natives: Race & Class in the Ruins of Empire by Akala
Aint I a Woman: Black Women & Feminism by bell hooks
Why You Need To Stop Saying “All Lives Matter” by Rachel Elizabeth Cargle for Harper’s Bazaar https://bit.ly/3gG8rgq
Ibram X. Kendi’s reading list for The New York Times https://nyti.ms/3gKL8lH
Beloved by Toni Morrison
The Colour Purple by Alice Walker
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi-Adichie
Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid
Ordinary People by Diana Evans
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
On Beauty and White Teeth by Zadie Smith
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Citizen: An American Life by Claudia Rankine
I know why the caged Bird sings by Maya Angelou
George Floyd’s Memorial Fund
Black Lives Matter
Black Protest Legal Support UK
Stop Hate UK
The Stephen Lawrence Trust
The Innocence Project
Show Racism The Red Card
Black Visions Collective
Girls Out Loud
Raising White Kids by Jennifer Harvey
All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold
Brad Meltzer’s Ordinary People Can Change The World series on Rosa Parks & Harriet Tubman
A Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Petition to update GCSE reading list https://bit.ly/2U6foOl
1619 podcast by The NY Times
With thoughts and positivity, Kate x
I’m not here. I’m in a car, driving to Bristol, genuinely quite excited about experiencing a motorway again and moving wider than a 2 mile circle from the house. We’re emptying The Husband’s work flat as he’s going to be in London till at least Christmas; Every cloud. The plan is to make a round trip in a day – normally a ticket to hell, but all of that has been subtly reframed by the thought of travelling at speed, the prospect of a horizon and the promise of new vistas. Aren’t I the lucky one? These pictures were taken today – Sunday afternoon has become a potter time for me – projects to plan, things to do. And this represents the first time I’ve tried to re-make candles.
The first thing was to get rid of the bits of wax left at the end of all the finished candles. I found the best way was to pour in boiling water, which melted the wax, making it rise to the surface to create a wax plug that was then easy to remove.
My eclectic collection of containers, from tins to pots to old candle jars.
The wicks I ordered very cheaply from Ebay.
And stuck down with a dab of glue from a handy glue gun.
This was the super candle that inspired the re-make – a winter candle from the White Company with it’s gorgeous smell that died leaving lots of wax. I melted down in a pyrex bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. Once the lump of it became soft, I cut it up into smaller bits to speed up the melt. I also added all the remnants of the other candles, because why not? Once everythings melted it’s possible to add various essential oils. As the kitchen already smelt like a tart’s boudoir, I refrained.
Pouring in the liquid wax is not the easiest thing. I recommend a funnel. Then I improvised with tin foil to keep the wicks upright and central.
Highly satisfying and highly recommended.
Laters, Kate x
According to one blog post, the voluminous dress is the new quarantine. And who am I to disagree? So far, my basic wardrobe has consisted of cropped trousers and long buttoned shirts, double layered when the temperature dipped, as loose coats over t-shirts when the sun shined. But temperatures due to hit 27 degrees this week, I think it’s time to transition to dresses. My favourite summer dress is a dark green, cotton vintage dress made with a deep v in a batik print. I love it. I love the colour, the ease and the print. In fact, I would like more of the same, but I can’t find and….so I’ve been trawling patterns on the web to come up with something similar.
And I’ve found three, and two of them, including the one above, need no pattern at all…and this one even comes with pockets!
This pattern comes This Little Miggy, a fab website with great ideas and a wonderful vibe, I would recommend a virtual tour. The instructions are brilliant; clear, precise and everything you could need.
If you feel comfortable sewing, you may want to move onto this pattern from So Sew Easy – or rather, instructions, because again, this is simple, only measurements, no-pattern sewing.
A finally, if you want to tackle a simple pattern to add sleeves, there’s this beauty from OliverandS
High summer dressing sorted.
Laters, Kate x
I’m not sure if we’re in lockdown in London any more, maybe it’s a strange transition period, like wondering what to wear between seasons? Because, despite the rhetoric, nothing has really changed for us; we’re still spending the majority of time in the house or garden.
But it gives me the time to salute some of my heroes of the past couple of months: The birds…their activity – the magpies that make me laugh, their song – we have a particularly vocal blackbird, their curiosity – yes, I’m speaking to you, unafraid Robin who watches me just a foot away when I’m gardening, the stories they tell – I’m gazing at nearly arrived swallows from my desk heralding the start of summer, and just their continual zest for life: nothing fazes them.
This post celebrates the inventive, simple but attractive ways we can introduce more of their joy into our lives.
(All pics Pinterest)
Which will hopefully lay down strong foundations to repay their gift and help them through the colder winter months.
A circle of life I value.
Laters, Kate x
With the lockdown starting to fray, we wanted the kids to experience the stillness of London before it’s officially bubbling again, so we biked through the virtually empty roads all the way to Trafalgar Square, a 20 km round route (I have saddle arse to prove it). The only thing to interrupt our peace were the all the gear, no fear mamil brigade, the blinkers of self-interest firmly down. I saw three almost accidents, their speed seemingly taking precedent over a slower decision maker ahead. Given the freedom of the roads, the nature of the situation, it felt greedy and uncalled for.
Trafalgar Square felt like a movie set from a post apocalyptical film. It wasn’t just that there were no people there, the pigeons had left as well.
The weather wasn’t great, so I painted inside. Since completing Carla Sonheim’s online class on flower portraits, I’ve become obsessed with painting all things plant.
I think I want to do a proper painting, a large one: The dark filtered light down below, the open sky above.
Can’t for the life of me think what it represents…
Laters, Kate x
The Sketchbook Revival has proved to be a family life line in this strange and weird time and has become a part of our routine, like furniture in a room. In fact a few odd things have become a part of our routine: Over lunch we all do a number puzzle (this makes it sound easier than it is – some of them are real buggers) which over in North London my Father and Brother are also doing (It’s sent out in the morning..and I hear it’s being passed on to all manner of people who want to give their brain cells a beating). Then after supper, when work is finished and the day is drawing to a close, we gather round the kitchen table to follow the sketchbook revival, never knowing what we’re going to be asked to do next. This time together is not about comparison or competition, but connecting and just doing; Here’s a thought: if you don’t do art because you think everything you produce is sh*t, think about who’s made that decision? Is it limiting? Why should you limit yourself? Now put it into perspective – are you ever going to sell your art? No. Will it be a fun thing to do? Possibly…but until you try with an open mind, you’ll never know…and let me tell you from experience..shit art has real comedy value.
But that’s now come to an end. (Although you can still follow the series until April 26, link here) Sob. So what next??
My mother sent a link this morning to Firstsite and their Artist Activity Packs which can be downloaded for FREE. All manner of artists from Jeremy Deller to Annie Morris to Anthony Gormley and Grayson Perry have or are intending to contribute, offering projects, thoughts and inspiration, designed for children and adults alike that can be explained or done on a sheet of A4. A quick look through – the first pack is 26 pages – reveals all sorts of gems from drawing a self portrait with your eyes closed to making a chain of people designed by Anthony Gormley. Can I underline – this is pure gold dust and liquid star beams and basically the stuff dreams are made of: Can you imagine all these artist’s competing to come up with the best ideas..and then giving it out for free???
Sorted. With a huge, happy smile.
Laters, Kate x