Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Open Studio at Worden Arts & Crafts Centre

Wet felting using a resist

On Sunday, Anne with an 'e' and I went to Worden Arts and Crafts Centre near Leyland in central Lancashire. Our tutor on the course on Friday mornings, Shenna Swan, was having an open day at her studio there. 

I was interested to see more of Shenna's work as the pieces that I had seen during the course had piqued my interest.
The entrance to Shenna's studio
There is a pretty courtyard within the complex and this is where Shenna's studio is located. It was easy to spot!
Isabel knitting her tension square
As we walked in we saw Shenna's daughter, Isabel, busy knitting a tension square in preparation for her knitting project. How handy to have such a knowledgeable mother!
Spindle and fibres
Whilst Shenna was making a drink for each of us, Anne and I began looking around. I was immediately drawn to this informal display in connection with the upcoming Spindle Spinning workshop on 28 June. It was easy to find out about the various workshops that Shenna offers, without having to ask as a short description of each workshop along with the date, time and cost was placed next to the various displayed items. As there was a 20% discount being offered during the open day I made sure I took full advantage of it!

Choosing some handmade button
as a memento of her visit
 A lovely Scottish lady came in whilst we were looking around. She and her husband were en route to Wales but she had told him that she had to call in at the studio. She was telling us that she had just knitted a herring for the Follow the Herring project.

Happy to have bought some lovely
That's one of the lovely things about doing crafts: when you meet someone else who is interested, you immediately have something in common and to talk about - it's almost like an instant friendship!

Laying the fibres for wet felting
Shenna began a feltmaking demonstration. She was doing wet felting, using a resist. I have only tried this once and wasn't entirely successful. (I don't think it helped that the tutor on that course was teaching us what she had been shown on a course on the evenings immediately prior to each of our sessions!) I was fascinated when Shenna said that she uses a roofing material as her resist! She made a small bag and showed Anne with an 'e' and I various ways of finishing off the handle. The two of us are going to a two-day WEA crochet/felt workshop which Shenna is teaching at the end of this month. I'm looking forward to that as I enjoy making felt.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Tutorial - Origami Folded Fabric Pouch

Origami Fabric Pouch
For some time I have been meaning to write this tutorial for the Origami Folded Fabric Pouch. I was shown how to make it by Mary Loggie who was running craft classes aboard a cruise ship that Peter and I were on.
The pouch is very versatile. It can be used for sewing essentials, make up, knitting accessories, jewellery and even as an evening bag!
It can be made in a size to suit you, although Mary said that if the square of fabric is above about 16 inches it doesn't work so well. I have not tried to make one over that size so cannot advise further.
I hope you enjoy the tutorial. If you have any problems, please feel free to email me. My email address is .
Origami Folded Fabric Pouch

-          1 Fat Quarter cotton or polycotton fabric for outer

-          1 Fat Quarter of complementary coloured cotton or polycotton fabric for inner

-          Lightweight Interlining [optional]

-          1 large button

-          1 small button [optional]

-          Braid, ribbon or elastic for closure loop

-          Matching thread



-          Self-healing cutting mat

-          Rotary cutter

-          24” x 6½” Quilter’s ruler

-          Fabric marker pencil

-          Sewing machine

-          Hand sewing kit

-          Flower-head pins, or similar



1.           It is essential to be accurate when cutting and stitching the pouch, otherwise it will end up looking something like this:

Crooked Origami Pouch

Instead of like these:

Origami pouches made for Women's Refuge

2.           Using the quilter’s ruler, cutting mat and rotary cutter, trim outer fabric to achieve a neat, square edge. Do the same for the inner fabric.

Neatly trim fabric edge
3.           Cut a square measuring 16” x 16” from the outer fabric. Repeat for the inner fabric and the interlining [if you are using it].

Cut square from outer fabric
4.           Lay the interlining on your cutting mat or work area then lay the outer fabric on top of it with the right side facing up.

Lay squares down right sides together
5.           Take the square of inner fabric and place it on top of those fabrics. Place the right side facing down.

Squares pinned together with 3" gap on right hand edge
6.           Pin the three layers together marking out a 3” section in the centre of one of the sides. [At each end of the section I place two pins at right angles to the edge of the fabric – I find this a good way to remind me to stop sewing when I reach that section!]

I set my stitch length at 2.5
7.          Stitch around the edge of the three layers, leaving a scant ¼” seam allowance. DO NOT stitch along the 3” wide section.

Two pins marking edge of 3" gap
8.           Remove all pins.

Trim corners
9.           Trim diagonally across all four corners to reduce bulk.

Turn fabrics inside out
10.       Turn the layers so that the right sides are facing out. Pay special attention to turning the corners to make them as pointed and neat as you can.

11.       Press the square, making sure to fold in the edges of the 3” gap. Press those edges into place.

12.       You may wish to pin the edges into position to close the gap. You may also find it helpful to place a few pins across the square, to hold the layers together and prevent slippage. [My walking foot fell to pieces which is why I use the pins.]

Topstitching with pins holding fabric firm
13.       Topstitch around the square, ¼” in from the edge, again with stitch length set at 2.5.

14.       Place the square on your working area with the outer fabric facing down and the corners at 12 o’clock, 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock and 9 o’clock.
Folded edge along bottom with points at
9, 12 and 3 o'clock

15.       Lift the corner at 6 o’clock and place it on top of that at 12 o’clock, creating a fold from 9 o’clock to 3 o’clock. You have created a neat, double-layered triangle.

16.       Pick up the point at 9 o’clock and place it on the opposite side of the triangle, as shown in this picture. The point at which the fabric has folded along the bottom edge I shall call ‘point x ’.

Point at 9 o'clock folded over to
opposite edge
17.       Repeat step 16 with the point at 3 o’clock, as shown, which will create ‘point y ’.
Points 9 and 3 o'clock folded, creating point
'x' on left at bottom and point 'y' on right at bottom

18.       The picture above shows the shape you should create.

Pin along fold
Both folds marked by pins

19.       You may find it helpful to pin along the folds that you have created or to mark them with a fabric marker.

Marking fold with a fabric pencil
20.       Stitch along each of the folds created at points 16 and 17.

Stitching along the fold
21.       Placing the 9 o’clock point on the opposite side of the triangle and again creating point x, pin the folded fabric into position.

Handstitching from 9 o'clock point to point 'x'
22.       Hand stitch from the 9 o’clock point along to point x .

23.       Place the 3 o’clock point on the opposite side, again creating point y .

24.       Pin the fabric into place, leaving the 3 o’clock point unpinned.

25.       Lift the 3 o’clock point and fold the fabric vertically from the centre of the open pockets down to where the two folded edges cross over. Mark this line with pins, then stitch down the line to create a triangular pocket.

Stitching along the vertical line to
create a triangular pocket
26.      Hand stitch along the folded edge from point y  to the row of pins down the centre. Be careful not to stitch through more than one layer as this will affect the size and usefulness of the pockets beneath.

27.       Flatten the triangular pocket that is sticking up to the left of the pinned line to create a diamond shaped pocket. Pin then stitch into place.
Flatten the triangular pocket and pin in position

28.       Across the line from the points at West and East, fold down the top point of the diamond [North].
Stitching the corners of the pocket in place

29.       Stitch into place. You may choose to place a small button here.
Attaching a small button to flap

30.       This creates a flap which should firmly hold a folded tape measure if you are using the pouch to hold sewing essentials.

Flaps folded down to close pouch
31.       Fold down the two corners [of the flaps that have been created] at 12 o’clock to close the pouch.

Sewing a large button on the top flap
32.       Stitch a large button on the uppermost flap.

33.       Take your piece of braid, ribbon or elastic. Cut a length of about 6”. Fold it in half then fold in the ends and either pin or sew into place.

34.       Make a loop and check that it is the right size to hold the large button and the flap closed.

Stitching the loop closure onto pouch
35.       Stitch the loop into position.

36.       Your Origami Folded Fabric Pouch is now complete.

Completed Origami Folded Fabric Pouch


Friday, 11 April 2014

Day 5 - Parkinson's Awareness Week

A few days ago a letter arrived for me from a holiday company that we have travelled with on several occasions. One of the leaflets in the envelope had details of a holiday that Peter and I are eager to go on. It was a cruise to Spitsbergen in the Arctic Circle at the end of June of this year. Cruises to that region tend to be in June or July as those are the months when the Arctic ice has usually thawed sufficiently for access by sea to be possible.

However, we have a dilemma. I had already been planning a trip to Australia to see members of my family. I can only cope with the Australian weather when it is at its coolest i.e. June and July. Although I went to Australia last summer I would really like to go again this year as my aunt and uncle are both over 80 and I would like to see them again.

If this had cropped up a few years ago Peter and I would simply have agreed to postpone visiting Spitsbergen. It's not so simple now, though, is it? Now Peter's Parkinsonism makes things more complicated. If we delay the trip to Spitsbergen by a year, will he be fit enough to go? Will he be able to get travel insurance?

I know the future is an unknown country but, generally, it would be fairly safe to assume that life will be pretty much the same next year as this. How often do we hear the phrase "All things being equal"? But, they're not equal, are they? Parkinson's reared its ugly head, didn't it? It feels as though it has taken control of our future. It has taken away our confidence to make plans more than a few months ahead.

Generally we don't dwell on the fact of the Parkinsonism but it's always there in the background. It always has to be taken in to account. We can't just ignore it. We can't make decisions about the future without considering it. We can't control it.

And, not being in control is a nasty place to be.

We'd rather be in Spitsbergen.

To help people with Parkinson's to be #In control, please click here.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Day 4 - Parkinson's Awareness Week

#In control. The theme of the 2014 Parkinson's Awareness Week. In control?

That is definitely not how I feel when I allow myself to really think about Peter's Parkinsonism. My younger son (both my sons are from my first marriage) has, for many years, said that I am a pessimist. And it's true - I am. Give me a difficult situation and I immediately imagine the worst. That's what happened when Peter and I heard his diagnosis and, again, when the consultant prescribed the drug Pramipexole.

Pramipexole is a dopamine-receptor agonist - even the description is scary. As with other drugs, it can have troublesome side effects. It can cause overwhelming changes in behaviour, particularly relating to an increase in sex drive and an urge to gamble. Those  side effects have been the cause of massive problems for some Parkinson's sufferers - and by 'sufferers' I am referring to both those with the disease and those closest to them. The side effects sound amusing, don't they? But just how amusing do you think it would be to know and to see your husband or wife 'pouncing' on just about anyone in his or her desperation to have sex? Or to lose your home because it has been gambled away by him or her? "In control" is not the phrase that immediately springs to mind.

When the consultant told us about these possible side effects I panicked. In my mind's eye I already had us nearing the point of destitution because of Peter's gambling, not to mention my anxiety about how alien it would be to his character.

In the event, Peter has not been affected by either of those side effects - thank goodness. However, at the time, the prospect of his possible loss of control was frightening.

When I am faced with a life-changing situation it is the loss of control that throws me, and I cannot believe I am the only one so affected.

Please help someone with Parkinson's to feel #in control. Learn more about Parkinson's and Parkinsonism here.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Day 3 - Parkinson's Awareness Week

My partner, Peter, and I are very lucky. He displays few symptoms of Parkinsonism so it is not immediately obvious to other people that he has the condition. Hmmm...

Perhaps that is not such a good thing? When we were on holiday in Morocco a couple of years ago some of the tour group arranged a trip to a waterfall. One of the men who was going on the trip disparagingly told Peter that he wouldn't be able to manage the walking because of his limp! So rude! So arrogant! And, if he had but known, so untrue!

In his youth Peter was a rock climber and mountaineer. However, twenty-nine years ago, almost to the day, he fell about 9,000 feet down Mount Fuji and was amazingly lucky to survive. He was in a bad way, having sustained a brain injury requiring surgery, plus multiple broken bones. In fact, when his mother was informed of the accident she was told that he had died. You could say that his recovery was miraculous. They were told by doctors that he would not walk again but Peter fought against that. He not only learned to walk again, but actually went on to climb his two highest mountains, Kilimanjaro and Mont Blanc, after that.

For several years after the first symptoms of Parkinsonism appeared, Peter continued to regularly walk six, ten or even twelve, miles. At the time of the holiday in Morocco he was still going for six mile walks on the moors once or twice a week. Hardly the actions of a man whose limp would prevent him from going on a trip to see a waterfall.

The chap who told Peter he wouldn't be able to manage the walk was trying to take control away from him. People with Parkinson's or Parkinsonism, or indeed any disabled people, need to be #in control. What right do others have to tell them they cannot achieve something?

Find out a bit more about the condition by visiting Parkinsons UK, perhaps even make a donation to help the search for a cure.

Help people with Parkinson's to be #in control.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Day 2 - Parkinson's Awareness Week

These are my partner's shoes and my shoes. We need these to walk together along the journey of his Parkinson's diagnosis. Sometimes the road is bumpy and we need strong shoes. At other times my red shoes are just right for walking in the sunshine. When we took our first steps on this journey we had new shoes and we didn't know how uncomfortable they would be, but if one of us is in pain, the other is there to help. Sometimes the shoes look a bit tired and worn (and so do we!) and, I daresay, we'll wear out a few pairs, but we'll continue on our journey. Perhaps you will spare a thought for others who are facing a similar journey - I hope so.

This week is Parkinson's Awareness Week in the UK. You may have seen articles in newspapers or magazines, on television programmes, Facebook or Twitter. But... I wonder how much you know about Parkinson's Disease?

What's the youngest age that someone could have Parkinson's?

Does everyone with Parkinson's have a tremor?
What other symptoms are there, apart from having a tremor?

I think you may be surprised by some of the answers  to these questions. For example, I don't know what the youngest age is to have Parkinson's, but I do know of someone was was diagnosed at the age of 8. No - that is NOT a typing error, it says EIGHT YEARS OF AGE!

Many people's knowledge of Parkinson's Disease is very limited - you can find out more 

from Parkinson's UK. In the meantime, here is a list of five things  that you can do to help someone who has Parkinson's, which will help them to be #in control:
Parkinson's Awareness Week logo 2013
  1. Please be patient. It can take someone with Parkinson's longer to do things. Please give them time - they will get there.
  2. Understand that communicating can be difficult. The person may not be able to move his or her face and so be unable to smile. Speech may be difficult for him or her - please listen carefully.
  3. Please don't stare or make assumptions. If a person is unsteady he or she may not be drunk - it might be because of Parkinson's. Staring at someone with Parkinson's may make him or her feel worse. Parkinson's is progressive and there is no cure at present.
  4. Ask if you can help. Do not try to move someone with Parkinson's who has frozen - he or she may fall over.
  5. Try to understand a bit more about Parkinson's. A little understanding would make life much easier.
To learn more about Parkinson's Disease or to make a donation, please click HERE.

"In Control" is the theme of Parkinson's
Awareness Week 2014

This post was originally published during Parkinson's Awareness Week 2013.