Really Random Thursday – the Blue Peter Edition

Wine boxes seem to be the only properly strong packaging these days so I had to ransack my fabric storage…

We didn’t have a television until after I started school, when I was five years old. And I can clearly remember, when we eventually got one, my first best friend, Deborah, asked me whether it was black and white or colour. It didn’t occur to me that she was referring to the pictures when it was turned on so I brought to mind an image of it turned off, with a screen and surround in a somewhat murky colour and said “Green”.

So why am I telling you this? Because it’s Thursday and this is a Really Random Thursday post and, also, because it leads on to the point that I never really took to the television – I actually find it disturbing how little children stare at it entranced and adults send flowers when someone dies in a sitcom. But that is an aside – The point I am leading to is that I spent my childhood climbing trees and one of the only programs I watched with any regularity was Blue Peter. Blue Peter, in case you’ve not seen it, was – perhaps still is? – a children’s program where, among less interesting things!, they made beautiful and useful objects out of old food packaging and everyday household items.

Scoring with scissors was the best way to cut through the boxes.

I took the photos that are scattered about in this post because, for a while, I considered doing a tute on how to adapt my Sewing Machine Cover pattern to make a dolls house from a selection of random things around the house (rubbish/old junk to the uninitiated!) The quilted Vintage Caravan, btw, was, after all, going to be someone’s house even before it evolved into a sewing machine cover…

The curve, of course, was a nightmare!

But it ended up roughly in shape…

Luckily we had some PVA and I also used a stapler but the cardboard was really too thick…

Hard to see but a sort of papier mache holding it all together.

So I added a paper shell. At this point I was still having fun and feeling optimistic about how it would turn out.

Using some very old magazines because we no longer buy newspapers…
But then I decided that anyone with a Blue Peter child within wouldn’t care about the tutorial and would just forge ahead with whatever they could find. And anyone really wanting a step by step tute would find it impossible to match the miscellany of items that come together in this model…lots of parcel tape, 4 video tapes (to raise the floor), the back of an art pad and a piece of floorboard (to raise the floor more), wallpaper from the same art pad, wall paint, decorating filler, an adapted sewing machine cover pattern…
Finally a sneak peek, though plenty left to do!
And this is where I’m at, now. I am hoping that the further this proceeds the less random it will become…
And in the meantime linking up with Cindy for Really Random Thursday :)

P.S. If, btw, you do do decide to try this, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and I’ll be happy to do anything I can to help :)

Janine @ Rainbow Hare

Wool on Sundays – 9 (Mrs Freer! I have made something!)


Welcome to Wool on Sundays! Thank you to everyone who visited last week and especially Thank you to everyone has been linking up. I love visiting the links every week and seeing everyone’s yarm projects :)
My post, this week, is dedicated to the lady who was my next door neighbour throughout my childhood – Mrs Freer.

 For some reason, I always thought they’d originally come from Norfolk way but my Mum thought it was somewhere else. No matter. After the war, Mr and Mrs Freer landed up at number 2 of a terrace of four little two-up-two-down cottages on the bank of the river with fields of cows in the water meadows on the opposite bank, the woods behind and the church and the castle framing the distance to the north. Each of the cottages had a green front door, which no one ever used, opening straight onto the lane and a set of ten steps leading down from its back door into the gardens, where each cottage had a very productive and well tended vegetable plot. My great granny and grandad (who died before I was born) lived at number 1 with their ten children. (Great granny and grandad slept in the front bedroom. The five girls slept in the back bedroom and the five boys slept in the attic, in case you were wondering, but I never did fathom how exactly they all fitted in).

Around about the time my parents decided to get married, great granny, who was starting to get quite frail, decided to go to live with one of her daughters so my parents took over the rent of cottage number 1 and that was how it came to be that I was born next door to the Freers, who were retired by then. Back in those pre-wall-to-wall-tv days, we children were sent out every day to play in the garden and, weather permitting, rarely went into the house between breakfast and bedtime except for meals. Mr Freer, it seemed, was also sent out. Once a week he and Mrs Freer would cycle away across the meadows to the town to get their shopping on a shiny black tandem and four times a day Mrs Freer would call him in – first for elevenses, then lunch, then afternoon tea and finally supper – but apart from that he was always to be found digging in the garden or fixing something in his shed. And we were often to be found chatting away to him, showing him our treasures of shells (from the time when our garden was under the sea) and broken china (from the days before they has dustmen) that we’d unearthed in our frequent occupation of trying to dig to Australia.

Mrs Freer’s life was more of a mystery. She mostly stayed in her house ‘doing her work’, on rainy days we had to be extra quiet after lunch because she was having her nap and she crocheted. Our house was a hive of washing, cooking, cleaning, tailoring, knitting, car fixing, wood and metal working and later extension building. But our house knew no crochet. But Mrs Freer made wonderful hooked creations the most incredible of all being crocheted lace doilies. We almost never went into the Freer’s house. Once a year at Christmas we dropped in for a drink and if one of us was ill we might stay there just whilst my mother took the others of us to school. We were also under instruction from my mother not to disturb her so I can’t remember how it possibly came about – perhaps in the garden on a Summer’s afternoon? – but one day, when I was five or six, Mrs Freer showed me how to crochet. She gave me a hook and some orange wool and showed me how to make a chain, how to double crochet and how to treble. She might have shown me how to increase and decrease or I might have seen that in a book at some later stage. And I went home and made a shape, which IMHO bore more than a passing resemblance to a square.

And when my mother wasn’t looking, I quietly climbed the Freer’s back steps and nervously knocked on the door and said “Mrs Freer! I have made something!” And she put on her glasses and examined it for a long time and she said that it looked like some of the things they’d dug up in the garden when they’d moved in and she said that it was very good for a first try and I’d learn by and by. And, although I was always meaning to, I never crocheted any thing again. I’ve crocheted odd borders on knitting and started things and frogged them but I’ve never actually started and finished a crocheted object which, in a funny kind of way makes this rainbow blanket my greatest blogged about accomplishment.

So, Mrs Freer, if you’re up there somewhere looking down on us all, I just want you to know that, at last, I have made something and I am learning by and by xxx



This blanket measures approx 75″ x 70″ or approx 190cm x 178cm

For this blanket I used Drops Paris, purchased from Wool Warehouse in the following colours (going from the top down in the photo above):

08 dark purple
48 petrol
09 strong blue
43 green

39 pistacho
35 vanilla

14 strong yellow
13 orange
45 dusty orange
33 medium pink
06 shocking pink
12 red

07 heather

Drops Paris is 100% cotton and can be Machine washed at 60°C. It’s an aran weight yarn and I used the recommended 5mm hook but in future I would try a 4.5mm as the overall tension seemed loose to me (though that might just have been me!) It seems very economical at £1.79 for 50g, and it probably is for a natural fibre, but it’s only 75m long and it disappears surprisingly fast. It is unmerchandised, which I think can look a bit stringy but for some projects I think it’s washability would outweigh that.

I used the Neat Ripple Pattern and tute by Lucy at Attic 24, which was the clearest and easiest to follow tute I’ve ever seen and I definitely recommend paying her a visit :)

If you have anything on your hooks or needles this week, or woolly projects of any kind, I’d love you to link up with WOOL ON SUNDAYS. The rules as usual are:

1). Posts must include some content – makes or musings – related to knitting, crochet, felting, spinning or yarn.
2). Projects sewn from felt or wool fabric or stitchery using wool are also welcome but please don’t link posts that are exclusively about sewing, quilting and fabrics.
3). Posts don’t have to be from the past week but please put a link to WOOL ON SUNDAYS or grab the button from my sidebar and include it in or at the bottom of any posts you link up.
4). Visit anyone else who links.

Wishing you a very happy week :)

Janine @ Rainbow Hare


Solomon Grundy and USP (2014 – Notes to Self)

Solomon Grundy,
Born on a Monday,
Christened on Tuesday,
Married on Wednesday,
Took ill on Thursday,
Grew worse on Friday,
Died on Saturday,
Buried on Sunday.
That was the end,
Of Solomon Grundy.

From reading a LOT of Quilting Blogs over the past two and a half years I get the impression that, had Solomon Grundy had the good fortune to born in the US, he could quite reasonably have expected a quilt or several for each day of the week and probably a memorial one at the weekend…

And that’s great news for those of us who love to make quilts but, sadly, I find myself in a culture where most people consider the possession of a quilt to be by no means essential. By and large, we wrap babies in soft synthetics, sleep under feather or polyester filled duvets, donate money to charities and think of lap quilts as an indication of extreme old age (I’m really hoping that our recent cold Winters are changing this impression!). Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that quilts are not gratefully received and treasured as gifts – only that many people wouldn’t in their wildest dreams consider buying one – especially a bed-sized one – at the cost of good quality raw materials, let alone paying for the hours of labour and skill involved in the piecing and quilting.

So the bad news is that I think there may be fewer quilts on Rainbow Hare in 2014. Most of the people I would like to gift quilts to have received one from me already and fabric/wadding/thread is just too expensive to make bed sized quilts just for the fun of it so I’ll be thinking twice before leaping into QALs. Likewise, postage costs are really putting me off joining any more Bees at the moment :o(

Like all sensible resolutions, this will probably soon fall by the wayside but I’m certainly leaning towards smaller quilted projects like cushions, bags and organisers.

The good news is that there will still plenty of sewing. 2014 is going to be the year of USP.

(USP = useful things, saleable items, presents)

Useful things – We are like the shoemaker’s children who had no shoes! I have somehow managed to spend two years sewing and giving away bee blocks and mugrugs and wall hangings and pouches whilst our home dec and clothes get shabbier and shabbier! It’s not that we lack material objects – like most people in the west today we have far too many things. It’s more that I don’t want the hole in the ozone layer to grow bigger than I can help on my account, I try to avoid purchases that involve the exploitation or mistreatment of people or animals and we’ve been in a Recession for a very long time. So this year I’m focussing on using up what I’ve got in the way of fabric, yarn etc – and bizarrely a LOT of felt squares – and I’m going to bring the three Rs (reduce, re-use, recycle) more into my crafting. I made a start with a new bed for Lucy, made from a holey picnic blanket and a duvet that had seen better days – she was so impressed she relocated to the hall but I think that’s her usual response to all new/clean un-dog-smelling beds. I wouldn’t be comfortable selling or gifting items made from fabric that isn’t in perfect condition but I’m happy to upcycle textiles to brighten up our house. We also have things that I don’t throw out because I think I’ll mend them but I don’t get around to it…So I shall be mending and re-purposing…

And, finally, I will make more clothes and to do some more knitting and yarn projects.

Saleable items – I’m really hoping to have more time to focus on my etsy shop and on building up a small stock of sewing and knitting/felting projects that will enable me to have a real life stall from time to time. I know it’s not realistic to expect to make a living from my sewing but I really need to keep the wolf from my sewing room door somehow! I’d also like to make some patterns. Fingers crossed, this will be the year.

Presents – this year I was happy, overall, with the number of gifts I managed to make – especially given that we had a very difficult couple of months in the run up to Christmas. Really, though, if I’m seriously going to hand make presents I need to work on gifts throughout the year – especially if there is going to be more knitting, which always takes longer than I expect. And on the three Rs theme I’m keen to try some felted jumper projects. Since the felting provides a stronger fabric than the original garment and everything has been washed at a highish temperature, items made from felted jumpers, seem to me, to be more of a ‘new’ item than a secondhand one and I’m thinking they’d be robust enough to sell or gift without worrying about them wearing out very soon…

Finally, in 2014, I must find a better way to balance sewing, blogging and everything else. To date, I’ve vaguely aimed at doing as much as possible, which isn’t a very good goal because there’s no measure of success and I always end up feeling that I could/should have done more. I know this is something lots of bloggers find difficult and I think life changes in such a way that it’s not practical to set up a regime and stick to it rigidly but, for the moment, I’m going to set the benchmark lowish. I will post one Wool on Sundays post on Sundays, one sewing post during the week and I’ll consider any extra posts a bonus.

If you stayed through this rambling, Thank you :) I hope to have some sewing to post soon!

Janine @ Rainbow Hare