Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

Hello there, happy crafters of Manchester and beyond. As those of you who made your way down to Fred Aldous art shop in the Northern Quarter on Saturday will know, the Ministry of Craft held another of its fantastic Crafty Pick 'N' Mix days, this time in honour of the backbone of every family - mums.

As a craft blogger and journalist I was keen to check it out for myself and was lucky enough to be invited along to have a go at each of the arts and craft sessions being put on, so early birds in the morning I donned my crafting cap and headed off to town, looking forward to a day of non-stop creativity.

I was certainly not the only person to have the same idea by any stretch of the imagination. By the end of the day, over 100 people had flocked to Fred's to get their craft on and organiser Sam Sterken was, in her own words, "absolutely exhausted". And that definitely should not come as a surprise, given how many classes were held throughout the day. I began by sitting down to do some upcycled corsage-making, using old stockings, knee socks and tights.

Never having tried anything like this before, I was a little concerned that I would fail abysmally but with Sam there taking me through each simple step, I very quickly ended up with a beautiful little flower that wouldn't have looked out of place at the poshest of weddings.

Here's my first attempt (and it certainly won't be my last - I'll never throw old tights away again!):

As soon as I'd put my wire cutters and florist's tape (great invention) down, I had to hotfoot it over to the Little Paper Cakes station, where owner Anna Sullivan was waiting to show me how to achieve perfect icing and make oh-so-sweet cake decorations out of sugar paste. After fashioning a few flowers and whizzing around my cake with the icing bag, I was the proud owner of one very professional-looking cupcake (although I'm sorry to say that it didn't last much longer than it took for me to snap a photo of it and I wolfed it  down in about two mouthfuls).

This is what I came up with:

As you can see, in just half an hour Anna was able to show me how to create something that would probably cost £5 in the shops. Success!

I had only just finished swallowing down the last morsel of cake when I had to rush on over to the purse-making table, run by expert seamstresses Sam Moylan and Alison Leese. While I do own a sewing machine, I wouldn't say I knew my way around it particularly well just yet and am keen to know more, so was excited and concerned in equal measure about tackling the purse. Luckily, Sam and Alison know their stuff and every time I - or anyone else in my session - had a problem they were there in an instant, armed with new bobbins, unpickers and spare scraps of fabric.

As a result, I ended up with this wonderful purse and, even better, the knowledge that I could make another one of these with ease:

As Saturdays go, this was one of the best I've spent in a long time and I know I'm not alone in thinking so. The atmosphere throughout the day was great - if a little hectic (definitely part of the charm) - and every now and again there was a happy laugh as someone finished their little project and was very pleased with the results. No doubt there were at least 100 mothers up and down Manchester who have never been so spoilt in their lives!

Till next time, arts and crafters!

Sarah x

So - who else went along on Saturday? What did you enjoy making the most and - most importantly - did you make your mother's day?

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Close Knit series at Manchester Museums

Some of Manchester's finest Museums and Galleries (The Manchester Museum, Gallery of Costume, Manchester Art Gallery and Whitworth Art Gallery) are celebrating a hundred's of knitting patterns that have been discovered in their archive with Close Knit - a year long series of workshops. Ideal to either reignite your knitting passion or to simply get started - you'll learn techniques, histories and patterns.

We're fans of knitting and even more so the work of our esteemed knitting and crochet tutor Racheal Gwilliam, founder of Artyarn, who has written the next in the series about age old knitting techniques.

This session will include cable stitching and the history of Aran knitting and it takes place at the Gallery of cotsume on Saturday 24th March ( 2pm - 4 pm). Sadly for us, (but great for her!) Rachael will be away on her honeymoon, so won't be teaching the session, but if you can't make it why not dip into one of the many sessions throughout the year. SS

  • March 24th Gallery of Costume – Dusty, Musty & Mothballed
  • April 28th Whitworth Art Gallery – The Art of Knitting
  • May 26th Gallery of Costume – Knitting to Know You
  • June 30th Manchester Art Gallery – Texturise
  • July 28th Gallery of Costume – Knitting Re-mixed
  • August 25th Whitworth Art Gallery – Geek Knits
  • September 29th Gallery of Costume – In Stitches
  • October 27th The Manchester Museum – Sheep Socks & Wire Woolies
  • November 24th Gallery of Costume – Autumn/ Winter 2012 Collection
  • December 8th Manchester Art Gallery – Merry Stitchmas

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Mother's Day Lo Fi DIY

We were lucky enough to be invited along to demonstrate a Mother's Day themed craft at last night's monthly Lo Fi DIY event run by Manchester Craft Mafia, which was a pleasure to run and resulted in some fab crafty gifts, which I suspect might not make it to the Lo Fi - ers respective Mums!

Reverse applique (or Mola applique) was our subject and after playing around with few ideas I opted for two retro styled designs - a tulip and apple.

The technique which can be hand or machine sewn is made up from sewing together layers of fabric and felt onto an item and then cutting them away to reveal the layers underneath.

Each customer chose a template, some even freestyled (go girls!) and then set to work on neatly handsewing their chosen fabrics and felts onto a plain calico bag. After much concerntration, some lovely food and the odd drink, some of the results can be seen below. Everyone went home one creative technique heavier!