Handicrafts by Kate Perry and other ramblings

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Encaje de bolillos - Bobbin lace

I promise I won't be posting here on a daily basis after today. I just wanted to get a few posts up before I 'go public' with it, so today I thought I'd show you some of my latest craft hobby, making bobbin lace. Every Wednesday morning I go to a crafting session in a neighbouring town, where a group of between twenty and forty women, mostly British, meet to knit, sew, and chat together. Such networking is very important when very few of us have immediate family nearby to turn to, and it is a good opportunity to share skills, ideas and resources. One lady is a very skilled and experienced lace maker and she is happy to pass on her expertise to anyone who is interested. So about a year ago, I borrowed a beginners set of bobbins and 'pillow' from her, and she set me off on a road of discovery. This is Sammy snake, my very first piece, which taught me the basic lace stitch.

I then progressed through several small projects and I am now quite confident to take a pattern and get started on my own without help, but I only do torchon lace, and there are many other types for me yet to learn. This Christmas I made a set of Christmas tree decorations to sell at a charity fayre, all based on a 65mm bangle. I used a variety of colours and threads, some of which have been in my stash for years, just waiting for a use for them to be found. I then added beads or gems for an extra bit of sparkle and I was quite pleased with the result. Other people must have liked them too as I sold them all save one, which is now hanging on my tree! Here they are, pinned to my working pillow, ready to go to the sale.

And lastly, this is the piece I am working on now. It's a bit more complex and utilses rather a lot of bobbins. It has been on my pillow for far too long, but unfortunately I had a fall back in late summer which resulted in a badly torn ham string, so I was unable to sit on an upright chair for several months. I have not managed to achieve working the way you see continental folk doing it, sitting on their doorstep with the pillow on their lap, and the bobbins flying as they chat with one another. I need to sit up to a table and realy concentrate! And just as the bruising on my thigh was subsiding, and I had started perching somewhat onesidedly on a chair, my long awaited appointment for a cataract operation came through, and for nearly two months, while my eyes recovered, I couldn't see where I was putting the pins. So I settled for making the little decorations which did not have to be quite so accurate. Now I have new glasses and all is clear again, so my new year's resolution is to finish this piece ASAP, so I can start on a kit I bought in the Autumn, to make a lace fan.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Perry Zoo

I did warn you that our animals would put in an appearance now and then, so I thought I'd introduce them here before the Christmas season is over and gone. This is a fun set of pictures I made to use on my Christmas cards. I have a simple digital 'point and shoot' camera, and I edit my photos with Corel Paint Shop Pro XI. All our animals are 'rescued' either from abandonment at birth or total neglect, both of which are all too common situations out here. The two big dogs, Miki (black) and Chico (tan) are sister and brother. Unfortunately Chico was involved in an accident last April that resulted in him having a front leg amputated from the shoulder. It was a traumatic time, but he has recovered completely. The smaller dog is called Foxy because she spent the first three months of her life living in a fox hole. The first two cats, Luna and Paco are 'campo' cats, both dumped as newborn kittens, and then there is my beautiful Persian pair, Baggins and Arewen. They were around three years old when I took them on, and both were in a very bad condition, but just look at them now!

The first thing I need was a decent photo of each individual animal. This is easier said than done as the cats see my camera and deliberately look away, while the dogs walk towards the camera and lick the lens! But patience paid off and I got them in the end. Then I resized them so that they were in proportion with one another and cut one out using the freehand selection wand and pasted them onto the other one. I moved them into a suitable position and then used the clone tool to enlarge the background to fit around them. Next I downloaded several items of Christmas headgear from open-source clipart, resized them to fit the animals' heads and adjusted the tilt if necessary, and then I cut and pasted them as well. As long as you don't save the composite picture until you are satisfied with it, it is relatively easy to make adjustments. This was all a bit fiddly and time consuming, but the results are fun and my sons and granchildren enjoyed them on their cards.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Crafting past and present

It was difficult to know where to start with this blog. It is something I have had in mind to do for some time. I have been living in Spain for two years now and my crafting has changed in that time. Before then I would have a go at anything. I always went to the big craft show at Birmingham NEC twice a year where I saw new materials and techniques to tempt me. Now my access to such variety is much curtailed, and I rely heavily on online videos and tutorials to keep me up to date. Fortunately, during the last five years of employment in England I built up a large stock of materials which I am now using, and I supliment this by buying online. I am lucky enough to have my own craft room out here, and I have made some like-minded friends through a small craft shop in a neighbouring town. I have not found anyone locally to swap ATCs with so I take part in a couple of online swaps, and also swap personally with two ladies in Australia and one in UK. So I thought I'd start by showing you a few ATCs I made recently on the theme of Autumn.

For the first one I started with a piece of glossy, white card that I painted with a very wet brush and colour from Distress ink pads swiped onto a tile, in this case I used Shabby shutters, Peeled paint and Broken china.
While it was still wet I scattered large crystals of sea salt on it, left it to dry and then brushed the salt of. The second one has a Crafty Individuals background stamp and the last one has a background lightly tinted with a variety of Distress inks and overstamped with individual leaves from a nature set by Woodware. The chinese lanterns are a stamp by Lavinia, which I stamped again on cream card, painted with twinkling H2O's, and used to decoupage the individual lanterns. The honesty, conkers and toadstools were from the Elusive Images stamp plate Nature table. I coloured them with copic markers and used glossy accents to put a shine on the conkers. The honesty was painted with the white from the Artquest pearlescent watercolour palette to give it that shiny papery look. The script above the conkers is a Serendipity stamp.