Feeling autumnal

I love this time of year.  There is something so satisfying about picking fruit from the hedgerows.  Free is always my favourite price.

We just stopped the car on the way home from work as I spotted some sloe bushes – these beauties will soon be turning into sloe gin.  There were loads of sloe bushes and all of them had oodles of berries.  I might have to go back for more!

sloes

We’ve already picked a load of apples from the garden.  I had the idea of putting them through the juicer which meant we had loads of pulp which was turned into apple sauce, (add sugar and water, boil and sieve) and the juice is busy turning into apple mead. (I used this apple wine recipe but substituted honey for sugar).

mead

I’m planning on making a load of jams and chutneys over the next few days, I have a huge amount of ginger since we were lucky enough to pick up a small mountain of it from the reduced bin at the supermarket so I’m going to try making crystalised ginger, ginger honey, ginger curd and possibly ginger wine

Some of the jams/chutneys are destined for the Ramsey Crafters Christmas craft fair which is being held on my birthday.  It feels a bit early to be thinking about Christmas but it makes sense to take advantage of all the free food in the hedgerows, we had a busy morning yesterday harvesting willow from Sue’s garden and twisting it into wreath forms, we’ll be having a wreath making and decorating session at one of the Crafters sessions soon , hopefully these will have time to dry out nicely first.

wreaths

We’ve already had one craft session on christmas makes – we made some festive tea light holders from old glasses and jars.  They are really simple – just cover the glass in white pva glue, layer on tissue paper (the white ones are just tissues like you would use for blowing your nose the coloured one is cut up bits of coloured tissue paper) cover in more glue and decorate with sequins and/or glitter.  They don’t look like much until you put a lit tealight inside, but they are really effective when they are lit.

tealights

I have loads of ideas for Christmas makes, the next few months should be fun.

Advertisements

Buttons

Today I learned to make Dorset buttons. I was quite pleased with the results. I’m not sure I’ll ever want to use them as buttons, but I can see them working as earrings or pendants. I have a few curtain rings spare so I might have a play with some rainbow embroidery threads and see how that works.

image1(1)

They are quite simple really, blanket stitch around the ring until it’s completely covered, then wrap threads across to form spokes and weave more thread over them to fill the circle or make patterns.  The trailing thread is kept so you can use it to sew the button on.

The craft dates back to the 17th century.  Buttons had been made throughout England ever since they were first thought of ( – ) but there was no organised trade until around 1600 when the doublet when out of fashion and coats started to be worn. Buttons became larger, more prominent and became a specialist item made by button-makers, rather than tailors.

Dorset buttons used the same threads as was used to weave the fabric with rams horn for the rim.  They could be dyed to perfectly match the clothes they were attached to.

Button making became a thriving cottage industry with some full time button makers and some farm workers working farmland during daylight hours, and button making in the evenings or in Winter.

A good buttoner could make around six dozen (72) buttons a day which would earn them up to 3 shillings depending on how good their work was. Buttons sold  for between eight pence and three shillings a dozen.  At that time most farm workers would earn around 9 pence a day.

By the end of the 17th century, Buttony was a very important industry, By 1720 new forms of button began to appear including wire frames for the Dorset buttons – with these new rings the more decorative and colourful versions of Dorset buttons started to appear. At one time ‘Buttony’ employed 4,000 people with a turnover of £14,000.

Over time Dorset Button were slowly replaced with machine made buttons. The first cloth and thread button machine was invented in 1825.  This was followed in 1841 by the button press which could cut buttons from thin metal.  The mechanised processes were faster and cheaper and soon the cottage industry was completely replaced by factories.

The collapse of button-making in rural Dorset resulted in terrible hardship for the button makers, many became destitute and were either forced to emigrate to Australia, Canada or the USA or driven into the workhouse.

Today very few Dorset buttons are made, but they are still a very pretty and practical way of making sure that buttons perfectly match hand knitted garments.

Well that went pretty well I think.
I had my workshop for Ramsey Crafters this morning.  I had everyone make a simple pendant with a spiral to hold the bead on the wire, a twisty vine bracelet and we finished up by just stringing beads on memory wire to make simple beaded bracelets.  Everyone managed to make something wearable which I think classes as a total win.
vines
pendant
bracelet
I’ve decided I’m going to use the pieces I made for a giveaway on my <a href=”https://www.facebook.com/chainmailkitten“>Facebook page</a>.  It has quite a few likes now so I thought it would be fun to try one of those “100 likes” things.  I wonder how long it will take to get the extra likes 🙂

Card making

That was a really fun morning.  Edna had done a fabulous job of putting together little kits so we could launch straight in to assembling our first cards.

image2

This was mine.  I think it worked pretty well.  If only all bees had so many flowers to choose from!

Then we were let loose to experiment both with things Edna had prepared and with other bits and pieces the rest of us had brought along.

I came up with this design featuring blue tentacles and falling leaves.  I’m not sure what I’ll do with it, but I really like it 🙂

image1-1

I definitely have to get working on what to do for next time, everyone seemed to like the idea of bracelets so I’ll start with those and see what we end up with.

Ramsey Crafters

It’s the first proper meeting of Ramsey Crafters today.  I hoping we get a few new faces coming along to join us and it’s not just the five of us who started the group, but even if it is it will be fun to get together and make something lovely.

Edna is going to show us some card making techniques today, I’ve made a few cards in the past but it’s not something I’m especially good at so I’m looking forward to learning a bit more about how it should be done.

It’s my turn for a demo next time, it’s going to be something jewellery related but I really haven’t decided quite what to do as yet.  I think I need to have a rummage through all my beads and findings and see what I have available.  It doesn’t want to be anything too tricky since we only have a couple of hours, but it does want to be something nice.   I’ll probably take along a load of random bits and pieces so people can have a play if they get finished quickly as well.

Flowery headbands

I’m trying to decide how to price these headbands.  They’re made from bits and pieces I had laying around so I have no idea what the materials actually cost.  They don’t take long to make and I’m actually doing them while between tasks on my actual job so I’m already being paid for my time.   I’m thinking they should be cheap and cheerful as I like the idea of kids wearing them at the Craft market /summer festival I’m going to this weekend.  What would you expect to pay for something like this?

IMG_2273[1] IMG_2274[1] IMG_2272[1]