Italian silks repurposed

My daughter works for an Italian textiles company that produces wonderful silks. She colours designs from their archives and these are produced as samples to show to clients. I discovered in conversation with her that, after presentations, they throw away these glorious silks. ‘Well what use are they?’ she said. Not any more; she gives them to me. And I am going to turn them into scarves and bags (when I work out how to make bags!) This is my first attempt that I gave to a friend this week and she loves it. It has lovely blue flower patterns. I’ve explained that the only dodgy part if the hemming which is mine. On trips to Lake Como, particularly Bellagio, I’ve gazed at gorgeous silk scarves in shop windows. Now I can produce my own in Loughborough (doesn’t have the same ring as Bellagio!)

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Kitted out in Knits by Nanna

As my family, friends and fans know I am obsessed with knitting at the moment. I love the rhythm, the feel of the wool and the fact that I am creating something original for the recipient. And that I was thinking about them with every stitch. I don’t knit items for myself, you see. It’s not the same. This little outfit is for Molly, aged four months, who loves my handiwork as you can see from her smile. Whether her parents relegate this outfit to the recycling bag is another matter. I hope she gets a little wear out of it. Socks are a real challenge because of the heel. But the only holes are button holes and there are no dropped stitches. If you look at Babywear you know that I haven’t saved any money. But that’s not the point. As anybody who creates will know you do it because you can’t not do it. It’s part of who you are.

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Midlands towns

Driving through Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Rutland this week makes me appreciate our environment. It’s so easy to take your location for granted so I am trying to wider my perception and learn mindfulness. To take in my surroundings through feeling rather than to let thinking dictate all my experiences. The Midlands are full of towns pretending to be something they are not. ‘Love Loughborough, love life’, our new slogan makes me smile. It sounds like a desperate plea. Then there’s Whitwell twinned with Paris. The story goes that the locals wrote to the mayor of Paris several times to ask for agreement to an exchange. Finally they wrote to say that they would assume the twinning was a mere formality if they heard nothing. Which is what happened. There is something admirable about their audacity. The people of Paris would probably be amused as you’d miss Whitwell if you sneezed as you drove through it.

Then there’s Belper in Derbyshire. Twinned with Nantucket, Rhode Island. Indeed. Belper is a one horse town with takeaways, knitting shops, betting shops and no particular distinguishing character. Nantucket is a playground of the rich and famous. The Kennedys have holiday homes there. Has anyone from Nantucket ever been to Belper? I doubt it.

A beanie in an evening or two

When it comes to warmth you can’t beat a beanie. It’s a great insulator, you can stick it in your pocket and set a stylish tone too. You need one or two balls of wool, a pair of needles and a small adornment if you wish. You can make it tight or slouchy, brimmed or brimless, thick or thin. Babies look cute in them and for children you can add eyes, ears and a mouth. Use the colours of your friends’ favourite football team. Add brooches, crocheted flowers, sequins, bows, buttons, ribbon. Your creations are only limited by your imagination.

Start with a classic beanie. I knitted this one as I was watching The Great British Bake-off. My confection is as good as theirs!

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Wobbly cycling

There are days when I am pleased to have swapped a Tube seat for a bike seat and today was one of them. There are few better places to be on a nice day than Rutland Water, man-made lake but nonetheless still very beautiful. I knew that the 26 miles perimeter was too much to expect on my first bike expedition is year. Ten miles was the goal but unfortunately, because we’d hired the bikes and only had two hours (including coffee time), we only managed six. Still, apart from the odd wobble I didn’t do too badly. I kept up the rear, as I don’t like setting the pace. There were few other cyclists now that the schools have returned so we had most paths to ourselves. Cycling is a brilliant way to see the countryside and stay fit. It’s a shame we live on a main road. I would never cycle on busy roads. The ideal environment is the Ile de Re in southwest France because cyclists are given preference over motorists and just about everyone cycles. Holland was similar last year, you don’t feel like a nuisance on the road. I’m not good free-wheeling down slopes. Like a child I put my legs out and hope that anyone watching me doesn’t recognise me. It’s like being a child and brings back memories of cycling in Manchester. But my home territory wasn’t so scenic!

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We love Pinterest!

Ever since I was introduced to Pinterest I’ve been an addict. And now that first lady, Michelle Obama, has declared her interest I know that I am in good company. The only category I explore is ‘DIY and crafts’, although there are several more. They just have the cutest products and patterns. I have so many on the pinboard that I’ll never get the time to create them all. Like this baby wrap…

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I’m not sure about the colour but how cosy would that be against the cold!
Then there’s this rug. Chic and unique. Bet your friends would all want one. Haven’t read the detail though so not sure what size of giant needles you would need.

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I love these cute baby slippers. Could have these done whilst I’m watching the new Dallas. Twenty years on can’t wait to see my favourite characters again.

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And finally you can never have too many scarves or shawls. This one is soooo colourful. Everyone’s friends would love one.

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Pinterest turns you into a curator. You can add and sort your own collection. Its great for me because i live to knit and crochet. And if you can’t find what you like here, try Ravelry.com.