Creative Thursday – Skinny Scarf

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I have included the odd post on here about my creative exploits.  Aside from my botanical painting which is definitely on the back burner at the moment, there has been the tiny clothes for my mother’s toy goose, a skirt and more recently a crocheted scarf.

I want to re-discover my creative side. When I was a teenager and when my sons were little I was always knitting and sewing.  In my late teens I used to make my own dresses and skirts often from complex Vogue designer patterns and I had some success but then I met my ex-husband and due to his personality problems my confidence went and I stopped dressmaking and knitting.  When the boys were little, and I was on my own I started making fancy dress outfits for them and even trousers from an old pair of mine.  They were very simplistic but they worked.  I have had knitting projects on the go frequently on and off over the years but last summer the pattern I was attempting just wouldn’t work and I lost my confidence, then the aforementioned skirt didn’t come out as well as I would have liked and I really threw in the towel.

I then decided to learn how to crochet as I thought learning a new skill would  give me a bit of confidence.  I have subscribed to the Art of Crochet and am learning step by step.  I also returned to tapestry work which is easy to do when you are watching television and quite therapeutic but now I want to make the tapestries into cushion covers and my first attempt  was awful.

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The crocheting has given me some confidence and on this post you can see a skinny scarf that I finished a while ago.  The fabric is quite itchy so I think it will be something I wear with a jacket more when I go out but it was good to work through something steadily and build  confidence.  I particularly love the long tassles!

In recent weeks I have been inspired by the Great British Sewing Bee on BBC2.  The thing that encouraged me the most was that the contestants had been chosen from lots of entrants and they were still making mistakes, the type I have made recently.  It showed me not to give up so easily and that practice will help.  I have bought the book which gives a range of projects from cushion covers, curtains to a range of clothes.  The book shows you have to put in a zip and other skills.  I always avoided zips when I was dressmaking before and being self-taught I tended to stick to the simpler buttonholes.  My biggest problem with dressmaking again is the cost and a lack of confidence in what suits me.  When I was younger, I was very slim and seemed to be able to wear anything, this is not the case now.   I have decided to work on some very simple dressmaking/sewing projects first and then maybe try a simple A line skirt to build confidence.

I have enjoyed crocheting the shoulder bag I am working on at the moment and am currently trying to decided whether to follow the instructions fully and felt it in the washing machine or leave the ‘fabric’ as it is – it is rather lovely.  There is something wonderful and satisfying about having made something yourself and I am planning on using this blog to record my journey and the things that inspire me – these posts will be on a Thursday, though I doubt  if  it  will be every Thursday.

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15 Comments Add yours

  1. Pauline says:

    I love your scarf, really beautiful! I was so lucky in being taught to crochet by my husbands grandmother when I was first married, like you I made nearly all my clothes in those days, knitting and sewing, and the children’s too. After that came painting, landscapes and seascapes, wildlife painting and then eventually woodcarving which I ended up teaching here at night school until I retired! Now with muscle problems, the woodcarving has taken a back seat and I hope to go back to painting once more. I think that it is wonderful that crafts such as knitting, crochet and sewing are being enjoyed by a new generation. Please don’t be put off by making a few mistakes, we all make them and that is how we learn, my own daughter has now taken up the knitting needles and crochet hook, there must be a lot of very busy young women out there! I will look forward to seeing your photos and hearing more about your craft work when you have some to show us.

  2. Bravo! I love needlework, too, and my situation is similar in that I enjoyed working with it when I was much younger. Now, that our first grandchild is on the way, I am eager to reacquaint myself with both crochet and knitting. You are very good and I hope for baby’s sake I can so half so well! Keep up the great work! God bless.

  3. alison rayner says:

    So much of what you describe, echoes my own experience. I too used to make nearly all my daughter’s dress, even pyjamas and many of my own clothes but over the years I have lost confidence. I loved every minute of The Great British Sewing Bee and am keen to rekindle those earlier skills – if only there were more fabric shops around. Your scarf is beautiful, especially the long tassels! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and plans.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Alison
      I completely agree with yuo about the fabric shops. There is no where near me, I would have to travel to Birmingham which is a good hour each way. I am resorting to ordering on line which just isnt the same but I have found a few that do samples which hopefully will help.
      Hopefully with the apparent resurgence of dressmaking there will be an increase in fabric shops or even a fabric section in a local department store.

  4. alison rayner says:

    I live in Warwick and B’ham is only 20 minutes by train. Even so,apart from the indoor market, none of the department stores sell dressmaking fabric. Thirty years ago, you could spend a day in Lewis’s or Grey’s where their fabric departments took up a whole floor and you almost had to queue for the pattern books! Even John Lewis in Solihull has a limited selection by comparison these days. But as you say, perhaps this current resurgence will see an increase in fabric shops. Buying online (where there is a huge choice) is not the same; it’s so nice to see and feel fabrics first, although I know some offer samples.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      One of the contestants on the Great British Sewing Bee has opened a haberdashery in Birmingham http://www.guthrie-ghani.co.uk/ – might be worth a look

      I agree that it is is nicer to feel the fabric and get a feel for the weight and seeing a large quantity helps you decide if its right for what you are doing. Its all very annoying

    2. alison rayner says:

      Helen,
      Thank you so, SO much for letting me know about this new shop. I will be going there at the very earliest opportunity!

  5. Leilani says:

    Way to go! How versatile and stylish your scarf is. And I salute you for working with Vogue patterns. I purchased a beautiful one many years ago and never used it because yikes! it was complicated. 🙂

  6. Good for you, of course gardening is just as creative as crafting, I do both, love both and find them frustrating and calming in equal measure and couldn’t do without my garden or my weaving

  7. Hannah says:

    Beautiful crocheting! I’m glad that you’re doing something you enjoy, you must have a wonderful feel for it.

  8. Pretty scarf Helen, and how lovely to be inspired to get creative in more than your garden, I hope your confidence returns with a vengeance. I found the Sewing Bee inspirational too, I used to make lots of clothes when I was younger. Like you I am now a different shape and find it harder to work out what suits me, but I found myself looking at patterns again online and wondering if by making it myself I could actually get myself a dress that fitted. Though again like you I think I need to start with a simple skirt to rediscover a bit of skill and confidence. Of course, tearing myself away from the gardening will be hard until the Autumn, so maybe a winter skirt!

  9. Anna says:

    Most shimmery and elegant Helen! I am full of envy for anybody who can knit, sew, crochet etc. My only accomplishment in that sphere has been to knit a couple of simple scarves which I think sadly is my limit 😦

  10. Cathy says:

    Well done Helen for sharing your successes and failures and admitting to your lack of confidence, etc. You will get a lot of support from your readers who between us will have all the same issues. I used to sew and knit all the time but other things got in the way, as they do, but I am gradually beginning to pick it up again – like you, it is the change in size (mine) and availability of fabric that is a drawback. I have discovered a reasonable fabric stall on Lichfield market (Fridays) which has cheap end of line stuff – still need to make the time though!

  11. Patty says:

    What a lovely scarf for the evening. i am not a crochet-er but an occasional knitter. When I was young i took on projects way too advanced for me but managed to complete them with some sense of satisfaction. Today I knit scarves and socks. You can never have enough socks!

  12. Yvonne Ryan says:

    I do very little knitting now – only when a new baby comes along. I love doing the old-fashioned lacy wee baby ones especially. In the 80’s I made very creative jerseys and coats for me and grand kids. Theylast ones I did were very colourful hard wearing ones for a ‘Coro (as in Coromandel out in the wop wops) great grandson.I am nearly settled in my wee apartment in the B&B and have glammed up the bed with gorgeous Scottish water-colour floral cushions – ME! My painting have not all been hung – also sloshy water colours. A big nude I have in the bed room. Had a big nw storm but no damage here – not like a daughter at Kare Kare on the west hills and bush of Auckland – windows that were for building smashed etc. Tho’ no fruit trees uprooted as in other nw storms. Yes the drought has definitely broken – but today clear blue sky and warm! Keep knitting although with your longer evenings I imagine you will be out in the garden with a torch on your head!

Please feel free to leave comments as its always lovely to get feedback. I try to respond to comments as much as possible but sometimes life and work get in the way but I will do my best to respond especially if your comment is a question.

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