'If you make happiness your goal, then you're not going to get to it… The goal should be an interesting life."

Dorothy Rowe

Friday, 29 October 2010

Not a lot …

has been happening around here, of a creative nature anyway. I think that my [self-diagnosed] SAD has struck again, triggered by a deterioration in the weather - I have been feeling particularly uninspired and lacking in energy.

We did have a good day with Babybel on Tuesday at Bucklebury Farm, despite the cold and drizzle. Animals and an enormous indoor slide – what more could she ask for? - and tables where Gran and Granddad could sit and drink coffee while observing the courageous young slider – what more could they ask for? Apart from a bit of sunshine, of course.

No College as it’s half term, so nothing to report from there. The rest of my time has been largely taken up by a lot of boring chores and unexciting visits which took too long and used too much energy.IMG_3332

I have made some more cords, in preparation for some more knotting, as my first attempt was – er – a bit odd.


Definite touch of the jelly fish here, I think.

It was made over a short, wide tube [from inside a ball of knitting yarn] - I want to try a longer, narrower tube to see if I can get something a bit more elegant!

Monday, 25 October 2010

Adventures in Basketry Part Deux


This one is definitely underwhelming - this photo is taken from its most flattering side, though what doesn’t show clearly is the best bit – the way most of the coloured sections ended up at one end, and the other is mostly newspaper coloured. This technique is a lot more difficult than the previous one - much more like what ‘real’ basket making with cane must be like. I don’t think this one will become a resolved sample.IMG_3303

The other basket has acquired some contents.

In addition to the netted stone. there are two embroidered coils.




I started the little one in the wire wrestling college session when I had nothing better to do – I wrapped a bit of wire round my specs case, slid it off and worked raised chain band over it. The longer one is the coil from a spiral bound sketchbook, with knotting worked over it.

They remind me of sea anemones – so perhaps they are unidentified marine artefacts …

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Back to normal.

or as normal as things are around here.

The computer doctor arrived on his white horse [or was it a grey Volvo?] bearing some bags of chips and what I can only describe as a laptop mat with a pair of fans in it. Since when, my machine seems to be working OK – in fact it is positively cool. Thank you, computer doctor!

So I have given Wensleydale’s machine back to him and returned to my own – though as a result of playing around with the settings on his I have ditched Firefox and installed Chrome. image

In the middle of all this I managed to finish the bowl. My idea to use some black PVC fabric to cover the lip didn’t work out as well as I had hoped – as you can see, it wrinkled – but I’m pleased with it. I happened to have a painted metal washer in my stash [as you do], so I put that in the base – the bowl was stable without a weight at the bottom, but I thought a bit extra wouldn’t go amiss.



Then, as there was some magenta shirt left over, I made some cord, by knotting strips together and free machining it.

I used very fine wire in the bobbin as suggested by Ruth Lee – not sure how much difference it makes but we’ll see when I make something with it – although I haven’t decided what yet.


Then I made some more cord – which is more interesting in the flesh than it looks in the photo. It is made from three strands of Paterna tapestry yarn and one of a brown chenille I got years ago from Texere and which seems to go on for ever.

After I made it, in the spirit of Cheese experimentation, I washed it.

It shrank [as expected] by about 7% and now looks slightly softer than it did before. This will probably be used for some Ruth Lee inspIMG_3293ired knotting.

That was yesterday. Today I have painted some tags  which made me realise how much we’ve bought from Cotton Traders over the years!

No idea what I’m going to do with them now, but probably something book-related.



And I made some giant spillikins and soaked the ends in Brusho  - Lois Walpole inspired, though you mustn’t blame her for the Brusho. I had some left over and thought if I dipped the ends in it the paper might soak it up – which as you can see, it did, in quite an interesting way.


And finally I produced the only thing I’ve ever made which caused Wensleydale to say ‘What on earth is that?’

A pebble covered in knotless knett netting , obviously [Ruth Lee again].

Although knotless netting seems awfully like needlepoint lace to me. [I am open to correction if you know better.]



Maybe things aren't so normal around here, after all.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Whinge whinge whinge.

My laptop has been a little temperamental for a while, periodically crashing for no apparent reason, but it has deteriorated rapidly over the last few days. I noticed that, just before each crash, there was a noise like a fan running hard, and the bottom of the laptop felt very hot  - even balancing it on a cake cooling rack didn’t help.

So the computer doctor is on his way, and I am using Wensleydale’s. But W’s [same model, set up by same computer doctor] runs like treacle, and because W. is probably the least computer minded of any laptop owner in the country, he had nothing on it. No Adobe, no Livewriter, no Picasa – nothing – and downloading each one takes centuries [although once loaded they seem to run OK].

And of course when mine is mended I will have to reset this one the way he likes it [no pretty pink flowers on iGoogle – no iGoogle, come to that.]

Whinging over -probably.

Apart from that, we’ve had quite a good week. On Tuesday the duck feeding and play park visiting went well, although the pumpkin face we made in the afternoon was ‘a little bit scary’ and so stayed at Gran and Granddad's, and the pumpkin bread we made from the left overs was a IMG_3262disaster [maybe a whingette?].

Wednesday was college – this was my contribution to the ‘glamour’ theme of Drawing Studies. Stop laughing!

[Hope you can spot the Botticelli influence.]



art in the garden oct '10

Yesterday we made our final visit for the year to ‘Art in the Garden’ where I got rather fixated on some dying red hot pokers.  

There was some good art, too.



And today I did some real drawing, based on photos I took when we were in Liverpool. I was trying not to be too obvious about it, which is why most of the people had their backs to the camera. 





art in the garden oct '101

And then, returning to the 3D theme,  I started making a bowl. After we went to Lois Walpole's exhibition at Walford Mill, I managed to track down a copy of her long out of print book ‘Crafty Containers’.

Walpole’s original  bowl is made from corrugated card [got that] and iris leaves – which unaccountably  I don’t have to hand.

So I followed Walpole’s recommendation to experiment with other materials. Like an old shirt. [Mine, not Wensleydale’s – magenta isn’t his colour.]

I ripped the shirt into 2cm wide strips [more or less] and machine embroidered down the middle [more or less]. The machining isn’t essential but I am doing a stitched textiles degree, after all.

I found the weaving quite relaxing, as I could get into a rhythm with it, and it looks as it is going to end up circular [more or less].

I think it may need some unidentifiable archaeological artefacts to go in it though…

Monday, 18 October 2010

What do you get …


if you cross some souvenirs of KLM




with some Softsculpt?  







Blueprints to go in the  architectural drawing sketchbook.




I've had the Softsculpt for ages and never used it, partly because I didn’t think making stamps with it would give very good images.

I was wrong – although they would have been better if I’d applied the paint a little more carefully. 



I’d like to pretend that I got the protractor out to measure the roof, before I did this – but I’d be lying – I just got lucky.






Leaning Towers of Delft?






I am not a regular flyer with KLM, but Cheese Major used to be, and he brought the little houses home to his mum. They contain[ed] some sort of Dutch liqueur, but not being a liqueur drinker I’ve never tried it [pity it wasn’t gin]– though someone must have because some of them have been opened.

These days he only flies to Leeds-Bradford, and I don’t think such things are available on those flights …

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Whew! – And how to make an Anglo-Saxon coffee cosy.

I have spent this morning and part of the afternoon - 3+ hours in total – getting ready for college.

  • Pick out fabrics for the ‘glamour’ piece,
  • Press said fabrics,
  • Find hand and machine threads, beads and sequins,
  • Pack it all up,
  • Assemble drawing and sewing kit [that’s quite quick, I have travelling sets ready boxed up],
  • Find some paper big enough for a 30 cm square drawing [I went with A3, not quite big enough but easier to carry],
  • Reassemble the travelling sewing machine kit which got disassembled when the machine went to be serviced [much quieter now, thank heavens] and pack up machine,
  • Find college mug,
  • Put it all in one place so I don’t forget any of it.

No – college isn’t till Wednesday – but I know I won’t have time tomorrow and Tuesday is Babybel day, plus I could squeeze in an emergency Hobbycraft visit if there was anything I didn’t have – which does sometimes happen, despite the quantities of stuff I have collected over the years.

And this, dear tutors, is why we spend so much time whinging that it is really really helpful to know well in advance what we need for a class.

Thanks to Sandy for her kind comments yesterday -  here is a brief – er - long description of how I made the Anglo-Saxon coffee cosy.

  1. I started with a piece of what I call Liberated Bargello patchwork – inspired by a piece the tutor, Terrie Hitchcock, had made, although she didn’t call it that.
  2. You can find out how to do Bargello patchwork properly here. Mine was ‘liberated’ because I used a mixture of fabric types, including man-made ones, and tore them into strips varying between 1 & 2.5 inches. At this stage I intended to have the back showing and wanted a ragged look – the piece might have been flatter if I’d cut the strips.
  3. When I sewed the strips together I added a strip of water-soluble fabric. I used ‘Romeo’ but it was quite difficult to sew – the Aquasol type might be easier.
  4. I used a wider seam allowance than a proper quilter would use, and pressed the seams open for a nice raggy look.
  5. I cross cut the piece into 1” to 2.5” strips, joined them into loops as per the instructions, and then took out seams at random. It is better not to have a water-soluble section at the end of a strip.
  6. I sewed up the strips at random and didn't worry about getting the seams to line up [sorry, quilters]. Timagehen I pressed the seams again, before working rows of free machine embroidery over the water-soluble, and, while I was at it, adding some crosses, grids and spirals of gold free machining - because at this stage it was going to be gold and black…
  7. After I’d washed out the water-soluble I straightened the piece up as much as I could – it wasn’t completely flat, you understand – and trimmed it.
  8. Now I stamped on some black puff paint and zapped the whole thing – which melted some of the man-made fabrics as well as raising the puff paint.
  9. I had mixed some copper bronze powder [confusing?] and had some left over so I sponged a bit on to see what it looked like – and got a bit carried away. Then I added some patinating fluid – and put the same mixture on some bits of coppery plastic. [This would probably have been the best time to line the thing – if I had known then what I know now.]
  10. I punched stars and squares out of the plastic with paper punches and added them here and theimagere with a few beads.
  11. Time for another change of plan. I added a couple of extra strips across the top for the flaps.
  12. I decided that I wanted to back the piece with felt – but I didn’t want the felt showing through the holes. So I Bondawebbed a piece of hand-dyed silk to the felt and then hand stitched the lining in with seeding stitches here and there – you may be ablimagee to see them in the first image above.
  13. Then I trimmed it up again, measured it, [it was about 19” by 11”] and made a paper pattern to try out the top flaps. Then another pattern. And another one.
  14. I drew round the pattern on the fabric and sewed a line of stay stitching round it before adding some extra decoration to the flaps.
  15. I machined machine-made cord round one side and the top, and some braid made of two pieces of cord zig-zagged together round the bottom– see below.
  16. I overlapped the corded side over the uncorded side, tacked it very firmly, imageand machine zigzagged over the braid again to hold it together. I also worked machined eyelets in the tip of each flap before punching  holes through and putting more cord through the holes [like adding a fringe] for the tree – each cord is about 24” long,
  17. image Then I pulled the cords through a stone donut I just happened to have, knotted them, and twisted them round a pencil to make the sproings.
  18. I breathed a sigh of relief, took some photos and had a cup of tea.

This sounds like a lengthy process, but of course it’s happened gradually over several weeks. As Wensleydale says – it doesn’t look much like the Sutton Hoo helmet – but as I decided long ago on C&G that I always seemed to end up making things which made people laugh, it just keeps up a well established tradition.

Sorry you asked, Sandy?

Saturday, 16 October 2010

I know what it is now.

The Sutton Hoo helmet/vessel/box/thing, that is.

IMG_3115It’s an Anglo-Saxon coffee cosy. Obviously the Anglo-Saxons loved their coffee so much they were buried with ceremonial coffee cosies.


The tree on top might be Yggdrasil -although I may be getting my cultural references confused.

[One of the advantages of using wire in the machine cord is that it stands up by itself, and you can make silly interesting shapes with it.]





I have now got the right sort of wire to put in the spool of my machine – at least, I hope it’s the right type, I haven’t tried it yet.





I have also made another [possibly final] unidentifiable archaeological artefact, with the ‘help’ of a book on Scoubidous. [Once I’d worked out that in the instructions, when it said ‘left’ it meant ‘right’ and when it said ‘pink’ it meant ‘green’ – and  translated those colours into the two types or coppery cord i was using …]


You may remember that I said that, although I was dissatisfied with the architectural drawing/butterfly piece, I wasn’t going to do another one.

I misspoke.


The fabric printing experiments fell out of a basket in the clutter I call a workroom, and this one said ‘Quilt me’. So I am.

So far, it’s looking good.


Still no drawing, though.

Friday, 15 October 2010

I forced myself…

to do something in my sketchbooks today – plural because I have one for the 3D work and – foolishly – one for each of this semester’s Drawing Studies topics – still life, life drawing, architectural drawing, and landscapes. Most of the DS books had little or nothing in them,  which is what happens when you like making books more than drawing in them. [We haven’t done Landscapes yet, so I’ve got a good excuse for that one.image]

Mostly what I've done is stick in some photographs, like these which I took in Liverpool last summer.

So they went in the ‘Architectural Drawing’ book.





And this went in ‘Life Drawing’.

I had hoped to get round to a bit of real ‘drawing’ [in its widest possible interpretation of course] but didn’t manage it.



One reason was that I got sidetracked into going through old photos – and I mean old. For next week’s Drawing Studies class we are looking at the work of Neeta Madahar and Madame Yevonde, and making our own stitched version of a glamorous or mythological figure, using a family photo if we have a suitable one.Top-31

My family didn’t really do glamour - but I did recall an image of a mythological figure…

Do you think she will do?

I think I was probably about Babybel’s age when this was taken – see what I mean about ‘old’? And no, I didn’t have long ringlets, the curls – and everything else - were made out of crepe paper by my mother.


On a more serious note, the Sutton Hoo helmet/vessel/box has made a little progress. I put some of the miles of cord I made round it – but then it told me it needed more decoration on the flaps so I will do that tonight in front of the telly.

I decided that, as it forms quite a narrow cylinder, I wouldn't wrestle with putting a base on it, so it won’t be a box. But nor will I wrestle with trying to make the flaps  line up – so it won’t be a helmet.

I think it’s a thing.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

I’m definitely underwhelmed…

by my ‘architectural drawing’ piece. image The last time you saw it, it was a GIMP design in blue and green. Then it turned pink, and I thought it wanted to be made out of the Cas Holmes inspired Indian piece of fabric.

I added some more layers to part of it, and free motioned the butterfly on another bit.

But there isn’t really enough contrast for it to work, even after zapping all the sheers and applying Rub’n’Buff in vast quantities. I did flirt with the idea of adding beads and/or shisha, but it may not happen, as work seems to be piling up and it isn’t a topic that inspires me.IMG_3079

I like this a bit more. This was inspired by a willow and wire piece in Lois Walpole’s exhibition. Mine is in fabric and thread – and is a lot less elegant. Fun as a corsage perhaps, but not quite what I was aiming for.




However, I like these bits of silliness, part of the unidentifiable archaeological artefacts series. [Pretentious? Me?] The top one is a copy of a piece in Ruth Lee’s book, the others are all wrapping of one sort or another, round a stick, a stone and a hank of – er – cloth, plus a few feathers.




IMG_3091 And here they all are in their home. I may make a few more  smaller ones and remove the failed corsage, which doesn’t really go with the others.

I was also intending to finish the helmet/vessel today, but I’m going down with Babybel’s cold, and decided that in my current state of health things were bound to go wrong with anything fiddly.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

First things first.

I’ve had a lot of nice comments recently and I have neglected to thank everyone who commented – so ‘Thank you very much’!

Second things second. I’ve been a bit quiet because we have beenimage a bit busy. Sunday was Mr Cheddar’s birthday bash, and we all went to Hollycombe so he [and the rest of us] could get our fix of steam. Babybel adored it – if there had been a few cows as well as the donkeys, the peacocks, the pony and all the steam propelled rides, it would have been perfect. You can see how glorious the weather was!

Gran got to go on the gallopers, which are the only fairground ride she actually likes, having low tolerance for everything else that goes round in circles and a lousy head for heights. And we all enjoyed being steam-hauled in different ways.

Monday was spent recovering from Sunday and doing things like shopping and tidying, and Tuesday is, as you know, the new Thursday [Babybel took us to Manor Farm again], so not much creative happened on those days.

Today was back to college. We started with an introduction to module 8, which is an essay and presentation on one or more contemporary textile artists of our choice. I shouldn’t worry about this – I've written plenty of essays in my time and taught for a couple of decades, off and on – but it still seems a bit scary – and I am swithering about who to choose. I have about a dozen ideas, although at the moment Susie MacMurray is in the lead.


This afternoon we made wire masks. It was more fun than I expected it to be, but I'm fairly sure I won’t be doing it again in a hurry.

After all that, I'm just in the mood to loll on the sofa with a small glass of something cold and white and watch my favourite televisual wallpaper. ‘Midsomer Murders’. Total rubbish but I like it!

Saturday, 9 October 2010


Found him! John Phillips, that is. Enjoy.

Catching up on culture.

We didn’t manage to get to many exhibitions over the summer, so on Friday we decided that we would do our favourite double whammy – the current exhibition at Walford Mill Craft Centre, lunch at the cafe there, and on to Kingston Lacy – where the choice of culture in the house or exercise in the gardens would depend on the weather.

The current exhibition at Walford is by basket maker Lois Walpole. Before we went the Cheese family were ambivalent about baskets – I love them, Wensleydale sees them as dust collectors. We both had our eyes opened by this exhibition. As you can see from the link, Walpole uses recycled materials fro her baskets – in fact she says she no longer buys materials for them – though I suspect she has access to a supply of willow.

Although I like baskets, I’ve never been interested in making them, because of all that wrestling with sticks. [My mother, who was even more of a craft flibbertigibbet than me, did play with sticks at one time.] Walpole made me think again – so much so that in the middle of the night I ordered two of her out of print books on line. [Thank heavens for ABE books – although I do wonder how the price of the same book can varyIMG_2926 from over £70 to less than £1.]

We had an enjoyable lunch at the Walford Bistro, and then wandered on to Kingston Lacy. It was a beautiful day so we decided to do the gardens, but realised there was a sculpture exhibition by John Phillips, so we managed to combine culture and exercise – what more could you ask. [And good food as well – perfection!]

kingston lacy 2010

Although Google reveals that there are a lot of John Phillipses, none of them appear to be producing work like this, so I can’t tell you much about him except that the NT described him as a ‘local artist’.

As you can see, the pieces looked very much at home in the woodland, which prompted an interesting discussion on the effect of setting on our feelings about art – they would raise some interesting questions in an urban setting, I think.kingston lacy 20101

In between photographing sculpture, I photographed the varied fungi as well.

And then we had coffee and Dorset Apple Cake in the open air, before driving home the back way, through the New Forest, in lovely sunshine.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Tuesday is the new Thursday

or vice versa. Whichever it is, we have swapped our Babybel day from one to t’other so we spent Tuesday dog walking, duck feeding, soft play areaing, Thomas watching  and collapsing on the sofa totally knackered.

Wednesday was the induction day for the new students at college so I have nothing creative to report from there.

Today has been spent coming and  going – most importantly to ‘Heft’, the latest exhibition at Winchester Discovery Centre.

Unfortunately I neglected to make notes about works and artists, though there is a list of the latter on the link. To my shame, the only name [and work] I recognised was that of Gavin Turk, [his ‘polystyrene’ cup] but that says more about me than the quality of the pieces on display.

A quick Google tells me that the mesmerising video of an underwater sculpture park [I kid you not] showed the work of James DeCaires Taylor – beautiful, fascinating, thought provoking.

I think the piece made from cows’ stomachs [I think that’s what the French meant] was by Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva. Don’t let that description put you off – it was a fascinating piece and very inspiring to a textile arts thinking about 3D work. [It had stitches - that makes it a textile – although not one I am planning on using any time soon.]

Other pieces I remember are the sellotape boxes, the chipboard with wood grain drawn on it [very stitch-like], the pallet made from found timber and like no pallet you’ve ever seen before, the bricks which were by the same artist, the raindrops on lino and the 3D pieces which weren’t – but Googling hasn’t been very informative so I can’t tell you who made which. We will be going back, however, so next time I will make some notes!

I came away thinking about the need to look at ordinary things with new eyes – which has to be good. Strongly recommended.

In between all that, I have been fiddling around with some little 3D bits. I thought my patinated copper bowl that isn’t needed some contents and, inspired by some of the items from the Staffordshire Hoard,  decided it needed a collection of unidentifiable odd little bits and bobs… After all, the shape of the bowl was inspired by something from the Hoard, although as usual it has morphed a bit from the original.

Long time readers may know that I like making silly little bits of nothing from scraps.image

So here is Thing One. [I have no idea why three consecutive photos are different colours – I’m an embroiderer, not a photographer.]

A scrap of coppery slinky fabric rolled up, with a strip of sheer pulled through it and then folded in half and wrapped.

That cunning tool is a latch hook. I bought two a while ago but didn’t take to latch-hooking, since when they’ve been sitting reproachfully in my sewing basket, asking to be used.

When I wanted to roll the fabric tube I was too lazy to get up and look for a kebab stick, my usual choice, and the only thing within easy reach was a locker hook. Then it dawned on me that the useful hole in the end [think crochet hook with an eye] would make it easier to pull things through the rolled tube.

Thing One looks a bit shiny so I think it may get some paint on it to make it more worn, characterful and looking like it’s seen life.


Thing Two started with a bit of tatty leather and some of the machine cord – definitely worn, characterful etc.

I rolled the leather round an end of cord, made a loop, wrapped the cord round the leather and used the smaller locker hook to pull the end of the cord up under the wrapping to secure it.




And here they are tastefully arranged in their bowl. [Can you have a square bowl? If not I don’t know what to call it. A dish? It’s definitely not a vessel.]

Whatever it is, I'm pleased with my unidentifiable artefacts – and pleased to have found a use for the locker hooks!

Monday, 4 October 2010

Making it up as I go along.

I think one of the reasons I prefer making samples to doing proper designing is that I can get started without worrying about how the piece turns out – it’s ‘only a sample’. When I’ve got fabric and a needle and thread in my hand the ideas flow, I start asking ‘what if?’  and one thing leads to another.IMG_2639

So, when I was playing around with making 3D vessels with PVA, as instructed in class, I thought ‘what if I tried wallpaper paste?

Which led to this. 

But it’s a bit boring like that, and although I was fairly sure I couldn’t sew into the PVA and Paverpol stiffened samples, this one was much softer.


So now it looks like this. I whipped the folds with gold thread, and as it was threatening to come apart in my hands, added black seeding and black beads to hold it together before reglueing it. It’s not as sturdy as the others – but it is definitely more interesting.





Flushed with the success of my efforts at making fabric stand up by itself, I seized on a bit of hessian I’d used as a mask when spray painting. [Definitely worn, characterful and looking like it had seen life.] I intended to do something like this with it, but started with a bit of free machine zigzag to make it more interesting - in a circle because the frame was circular – which led to a sort of spider’s web. [I must get into the habit of taking photos as I go along - assuming that anyone apart from me would be interested in them, of course.]

However, it looked a bit boring, so I took an idea from a book I’d been reading [can’t remember which one] and embroidered it with strips of fabric. And then some of those thick threads you get in Texere packs and never know what to do with. Tent stitch, French knots and giant eyelets. And some beads, for a bit of variety.

At that poiIMG_2775nt I decided that, rather than leave the edges wispy and ragged, I’d whip them with fabric – and then I realised that with a few judiciously placed tucks, tied in with more fabric strips, it might stand up by itself.

Which it does.

Every time I look at it I smile – upside down mob cap and curling papers, I think.

I still like the idea of stiffened hessian with wispy edges, so I may get back to that in time.

But - today I came across some of the drawbacks of making it up as I go along.image

Remember this?  Inspired by a technique mentioned in passing in class, and the teacher's sample which reminded me of the Sutton Hoo helmet. But hers was painted with gold paint so mine wasn't  going to be metallic – until I had some bronze powder to use up. What if I tried bronzing it and adding patina?




What if I tried the same treatment on some bits of copper coloured plastic? What if I tried using a paper punch on them?

I’d always meant to add some sort of decoration to the patches on the fabric, so on they went with some beads as well.

As a diversion yesterday, I experimented with Ruth Lee’s technique of using wire in the bobbin when she makes machine cords. Don’t try this at home unless you've got the right kind of wire, mine was too stiff to work. I ended up with a bobbin full of copper wire.

Mmm – what if I used the wire as one of the ‘threads’ in a machine cord? I made several miles metres of machine cords – which just happened to be in copper/patina colours.

What if I hand couch the cords round the arch shapes at the top of the helmet? [It’s been a helmet, it’s been a square box, at that stage it was back to being a helmet again.]

But as I couched I thought – this would be much better machine couched to the edges – but the fabric isn’t stiff enough and how would I sew the seams? What if I lined it to stiffen it and made a cylindrical box with arch-shaped flaps? Not craft Vilene [shudder], I’ve got lots of black felt.

But – the liberated Bargello has holes in it and I don't want the felt showing.

I’ll cut the story short, before you all fall asleep. I ended up unpicking the couIMG_2786-1ching, rootling through the stash for a suitable piece of fabric to make a lining, bonding it to felt for the inner lining, finding some black fabric for a base, bonding that to felt and painting it with bronzing powder as any C&G trained textile person will pick it up to see if if I have done so, thinking of and rejecting the idea of aging the felt in some way [that way madness lies], making a paper mock up, realising the flaps don’t meet properly, making another paper mock-up, realising the flaps still don’t meet properly, deciding it will have to do – and then worrying whether the whole thing will be stiff enough to stand up anyway.  In which case I will paint it with PVA as instructed – which is not a technique I thought I would like when we were told about it.

What have I learned from this? That sometimes it is better to plan ahead - and that the Anglo-Saxon craftsmen who made the original helmet had a much better idea of what they were doing than I have.