I love the internet! It’s thanks to the internet that, Sue from Yay Retro stumbled across me via the Granny CAL I’ve been running over on Instagram, Ravelry and this ‘ere crochet blog. As a result, Sue suggested an interview, which I thought was a great idea! A couple of weeks ago I wrote out my answers to Sue’s fab questions and sent over a massive wodge of photographs of my home (with vintagey stuff- it’s relevant, I promise) and things I’ve crocheted. That interview can be found HERE. In the interest of keeping things a two way street I thought it would be nice to get to know Sue too, so I sent her a few questions for her to answer as well. We have things in common, we both live in Devon, we both love crochet and both have a penchant for cool, old stuff! Also, (as an aside) I found all of this really interesting. The questions started a nostalgic trip into the past, which triggered a load of old memories. I think that’s the main reason why I accumulate all my seemingly random junk. They’re connections to places I’ve been and people I’ve known.
Righty, over to Sue…
How long have you lived in Totnes?
We moved here in 2015 to be nearer to our son and family. We felt at home as soon as we got here, it’s a very special, welcoming and friendly place.
How much does living in Totnes feed your creativity and/or love of vintage? [Totnes is a town in Devon known for having an alternative, arty scene]
I did a fine art degree at The Winchester School of Art and trained, then worked as a professional artist (large abstract paintings) for around seven years before becoming a wedding photographer with my husband for six years. After this I set up yay retro! and I think both of these have significantly fed into the look and feel of yay retro! especially as everything needs to be photographed attractively. Totnes and the surrounding area is marvellous for finding vintage wares. I love the beautiful historic buildings and surrounding wonderful countryside, as well as the ‘anything goes’ feel in Totnes, it makes life more interesting and everyone is friendlier and accepting, I think.
What other parts of Devon are your favourite?
I adore Woolacombe in the North as I had all my childhood holidays there, visiting around 5 times a year in our tent and caravan. Tavistock is also a beautiful town, I love the market there and the drive over the Moors. My other favourite spots are the steam railways in Totnes and Dartmouth. These remind me of my Gramp who was a steam engine driver in the 1950s/60s.
There seems to be quite a few creative folk in Devon. Do you think Devon in particular is a good base for creatives? What makes it so special?
I’m quite new here and so have met only a few other vintage sellers and artists. However I am aware of more here than I was in Hampshire where I lived before.
The country and seaside are so inspiring in Devon and the slower pace of life is really superb. I think people’s outlook on life is different to that of people who live or work in or near big cities. Perhaps this is what attracts creative people to the county? Totnes itself is known for its arty folk as it is close to Dartington, which used to be the home of the famous Dartington College of Arts until quite recently.
What is it about vintage/retro stuff that makes you happy?
I was very lucky to have a happy time growing up in the 1960s and 70s, everything I buy for yay retro! makes me think of my Gran, Nan or my Mum all of whom were great home makers. I can recall special, happy times in each of their kitchens, and because each of them had different tastes in home decor, it really is a case of finding and recognising things they had. I only ever buy things that make me smile, that I truly love and would want for myself. If I’m not keen to give it house room myself I don’t buy it! When I find something lovely I say ‘yay! retro!’ in my head and often feel quite elated. It’s a real feel good job to have as I am forever ‘buzzing’ about the lovely objects and textiles I find!
When did you know it was time to make it your full time job?
I started the yay retro! online shop in 2012, and by 2013 knew it was going to take off and that I would need to tail off my other work commitments which were in the family web development company. I now run yay retro! full time.
Do you hangout with other crafty folk?
Being new to Totnes I don’t know that many people yet who are crafty. I do know of other vintage sellers and they are all very friendly and supportive. it’s a lovely community to be part of. On the crafty side of things, I am currently mad on crochet thanks to getting back into it after seeing you publicise the #grannycal18 crochet along. I am currently teaching my daughter in law to knit and soon to crochet. I find joining groups like Hooked on Crochet on Facebook is a good outlet for feedback and crafty talk. It’s also nice to share pics on the yay retro! Instagram page as my followers are really supportive.
What are your thoughts on the maker’s renaissance we’re experiencing?
I think that the internet has allowed people to share their work easily and also to sell their ideas and makes. This probably makes it appear that we have a makers renaissance, when in fact there have always been heaps of creative people out there.
I picked up the ‘making’ bug from my Mum and Gran who were fantastic at making clothes whether it be sewing or knitting. Neither of them crocheted, and I recently taught my Mum so that she could make a blanket for her great grandson.
It’s superb that getting online can enable people to share so much, and get feedback on their work. I spend many an evening being inspired by other people’s beautiful workmanship.
I often think that if only the internet had been as dominant when I was painting as it is now, I would still actually be working as an artist and selling smaller works from a website. At the time I was a working artist going the gallery route, it was the only option, which made my paintings too expensive for most people.
Who are your favourite artistic people? Top blogs? Instagrammers?
There are SO many artists and makers that I love, currently the printmaker Jane Ormes’ work really strikes a chord with me,
Anna Wiscombe’s wooden birds and plants are gorgeous, Jane Foster’s screen prints adorn my home and Chris Made This and Ames_Likes_Toast Instagram’s feed always make me really happy. I have bought quite a few pieces from Anna, Ames and Chris too. My illustrator friend Sara Rhys based in Totnes has a beautiful Instagram page which always brings a smile to my face.
What are your favourite shops/places in Devon to find treasure? And/or further afield?!
I search everywhere I go to be honest. I adore Totnes market; there are some lovely, friendly, helpful sellers there and it’s always great to have a chat as well as browse and buy! Like everyone, I always search around charity shops and often strike it lucky. I particularly like Salisbury in Wiltshire, New Milton in Hampshire and Brixham in Devon.
www.yayretro.co.uk is an online shop where you can buy the very best Vintage & Flower Power wares from the 1940s to the 1980s. Browsing and buying from the website is really easy and worth doing regularly as fresh stock is added regularly… pieces are described honestly and postage and packaging costs kept low, posting across the UK twice weekly. The yay retro! online vintage shop features vintage kitchenware, tablecloths, bedding, ornaments, toys, books, and much more!
Thanks Sue! I really enjoyed your insightful comments. xx
I had no idea that I was going to make a bag last week, no idea at all! I was dashing off somewhere and felt I could do with taking a little crochet project with me. Hurriedly, random balls of yarn were grabbed and off out I went. Thus, a granny square bag was made! Yay!
I’ve had a few new friends come and join in the fun here recently, so I thought it’d be nice to share the pattern with you guys as a thank you. Thank you!
I didn’t have enough yarn to make a blanket, which made me wonder what else I could turn the squares into. I considered making a cushion, but what got me really excited was the idea of a bag! It’s a tricky thing to take a picture of, the bright colours were shouting loudly. I used leftover Paintbox aran and joined as I went (I’m fairly sure I used the Attic 24 method)
If you’d like to make a crochet granny bag you will need the following:
-Colourful yarn (I used aran weight but any yarn is fine)
-Bag handles (search”bag handles” on ebay to find some, that’s what I did!)
-Lining fabric (something measuring a couple of inches bigger than your finished crochet piece)
-Sewing needle for yarn, pins, sewing needle and thread.
The main body of the bag is a bog standard gang of grannies; super quick and easy to do! Rounds of three, joined together in 8 rows of 5 (you’ll either need more rows or more rounds for each square if you’re using DK yarn). Every now and again all you need to do is check to see that the spread of colour is even! My piece measured 15.5×27″ (40x68cm)
Once the main body is complete, the handles need to be shaped. It’s not as tricky as it looks and luckily, accuracy is not paramount. I don’t mind a project that needs a bit of bodging and crochet is usually very forgiving when it comes to bodging! Not that you need to bodge it, I’m just saying!!
UK terms are used (a treble is a US dc)
At one end of the main body, (right side facing) make a strip of granny clusters starting with a ch3 and 1tr in the first st and ending with 2tr on the last stitch of the row. Straddle the square joins with 1tr, 2trtgr, 1tr. You can see what I’ve done on the picture above.
Turn the work. Ch2, 1htr in each st along to the end. Turn.
Ch1, slip stitch along approximately 10 stitches (you want the narrow section to be the same width as the handle slot). Ch2, 1htr in each stitch along, missing the last (approx) 10st. Turn
Ch2, 1htr in each st of last row. To widen the work again, ch13, Turn.
1htr in 3rd ch from hk. 1 htr in each st along to the end. Continue by adding 10 more stitches using a chainless foundation half double stitch. This is actually easy, I promise. I’ve found a good video that shows you how: The half double chainless stitch. Skip the first minute of the video, the informative bit starts just after! Turn.
Ch2, htr all the way along. Turn
Repeat row 6. Fasten off. Repeat 1-7 on the other end of the bag.
Next, with right side facing, evenly stitch dc’s (sc’s) all the way down the edge of both lengths. Don’t fasten off yet…
Fold the bag in half and using the yarn still on the hook, slip stitch the sides together. Repeat on the other side.
Tuck the handle bits through the bag handles, fold down to the inside and pin ready for sewing closed.
The stitches don’t have to be neat, if you use matching yarn, you won’t see if you’re making a dog’s dinner of it! Try not to come through to the right side though, or if you do, make the stitches small so they’re not staring at you. Don’t forget the top bits at the ends.
Next you need to add the lining. It’s not 100% necessary but I think it looks better and you won’t have your stuff escaping through granny holes! Fold your length of fabric in half, right sides together. Place the bag on top and mark/draw where you need to sew. Also mark where you want the fold of your top hem to go. Sew down both sides to make the bag cavity. Next, iron the seams nice and flat, at the same time fold down the top hem and press. I went back to the sewing machine and top stitched the hem.
Tuck the lining into you bag, pin it in place and hand sew the top of the lining to the top of the crochet!
I think I need a course in how to photograph bright colours!!
I would absolutely love to hear if you make one of my designs, please do give me a shout. I’d love it if you said Hi! Don’t forget that I’m on Ravelry, so your makes can be added there. Oh, and I almost forgot Instagram! #zeensandroger
I’ve done it! All finished. Woot!! I’m so pleased with it. Truly, I love this cosy set. It’s taken a while because I’ve been busy with other things too. The more I do this sort of thing, the quicker I’m surely going to get. And it’s technically still autumn too, so it didn’t take six months afterall! Please pop over to Ravelry or Etsy to buy your PDF copy. And because I’ve worked out how to do it, I’m offering a splendid 20% discount up until 9pm on Sunday (18thdec)!! You’ll need this code: xmastreat The code also gets you a discount on all other items in my Etsy store!! Woohoo.
No silly faces like my last blog post (it’s the pic at the end)! I have very serious, yet… what? wistful? expressions for the real deal. It took a million pictures to get these. I scrutinize every last one to make sure I don’t look like too much of a freak and that the pompom is showing or I’ve got my hand in the right place. It’s possible I need a helper.
I took loads of pictures of it all. I wanted them to be informative as well as good looking. In the patterns themselves there are step-by-step photo’s for any tricky bits. I’ve focussed on the making of the mitts as they have elements where more detail is needed. But there aren’t many tricky bits because the patterns are super easy.
Please do let me know what you think. I’d absolutely love to hear if anyone makes a set. At some point I’ll do some different colour combinations too.I think there are loads of options where the colours will make it look completely different.
Any way, that’s all for this week. I’m going back to present making!
The first week of the summer holidays was a trip to Southampton. In between the obligatory trips to Toys R Us and Ikea there are the visits to family. I always go and see Nanna and Grandad. They both turned 90 in January and are still surprisingly independent (to be honest, I’m always expecting them to pop their clogs). On this visit we went through some of Nanna’s crafty gubbins and it triggered a nostalgic twinge.
Look at this! She embroidered this table cloth in 1945 and she said that she’d like to pass it on to me. I’m quite chuffed about that. It’s really very pretty. It needs a bit of cleaning (anyone got any advice on how I do that?). She stitched it whilst her brother-in-law was in hospital (he’d had his face torn apart by shrapnel).
Who doesn’t love a bit of vintage embroidery?!
Now that it’s the holidays I won’t have much time but I would love to try something like this. I do tinker with embroidery but don’t do masses of it. It’s another thing to add to the list.
She also decided she didn’t want her spare knitting needles anymore. This is daft because I’m sure she’ll want some of them back. Also, I am terrible at knitting.
She hasn’t given me the ones she regularly uses. I think these are all surplus. In amongst them is a tunisian crochet hook. I got quite excited about this as it coincides with the growing fancy that I want to learn a bit of that.
Then there’s this awesome bag. It needs repairing but I think it’s pretty cool. I think she said a friend gave it to her, I’m not sure. My guess is 1970’s.
I’ve got no clue how to fix the broken bits. To be honest I haven’t checked out how broken it really is. I can just see that the fabric is coming away from the baskety bit.
Upon returning home to Devon I went and rummaged in my own cupboards and dug out a few things.
Nanna made this patchwork blanket for my 18th. For a good couple of years leading up to that birthday I’d see hexagons here and there and ask what they were for. She was always evasive and I wouldn’t get a straight answer, hah! I have to be careful with it, I think there might still be a pin lodged in the layers somewhere. I found about three when I got it and managed to get a couple out. I use it regardless, pins be damned. It is not quite twenty years of age.
Having made a patchwork bag using english paper piecing, I know how this sort of thing is a proper labour of love. And her hexies are smaller than mine!
This is the crochet blanket she made for my eldest boy just over seven years ago00000 when he was born. It’s a classic Granny and it is this blanket that made me go to my local wool shop and buy my first crochet hook!
Rewind to some point in the 1980’s… This tatty looking thing above is the first piece of crochet I ever attempted. I made this foundation chain and decided that crochet was rubbish. I don’t think it helped that I was told that I must hold the hook a certain way (me n Nanna don’t agree on hook hold). Knitting was easier; I could make squares and scarves and things. This crochet failure was tied to the middle of a Nanna made crochet blanket that I had as a little girl. (I threw it away last year. It was stinky and holey. The foundation chain is the only bit that remains).
She knitted this one, for Eldest boy also.
And as usual, the cat wanted in on it so she clambered on Nanna’s blankets and went to sleep.
I’m still feeling funny about old things (not Nanna and Grandad. The other stuff). I’ve been sorting through my old work from when I first started school. I blame going back to Southampton.
This was when I went to the Hall of Aviation in Southampton (now called Solent Sky). I took my boys last week. Still awesome.
I don’t know if I blame Southampton that much. It might also have been before that because I asked my sister to dig stuff out a few weeks ago. I was watching the Sewing Bee and had begun to wonder when I first started sewing.
I used to sit for hours, hand sewing outfits and accessories for my Sindy. After a while I graduated to the sewing machine. I was around ten when I made this wedding outfit from the leftovers of my other sister’s christening gown. My step mum helped me do this as I don’t think I could have managed those sleeves alone. I think I need to ask Sister to go back in the loft to see if she has the red cordoury dress I made her for Christmas when I was twelve… I was dead proud of myself!
What Sindy/Barbie wouldn’t want knitted clothes?! Some Nanna specials.
I particularly love this coat and I actually think my mum knitted this. It wasn’t passed on to my sisters, it was the only one I kept.
Speaking of my Mum. I’m fairly certain she made this one and the one below. One knitted, one crocheted. Both in the seventies, for my brother. I’m sure she’ll correct me if I’m wrong.
She said this one wasn’t suitable in the end. Too many holes for baby fingers.
Anyway, I’m gonna go. I didn’t realise there was so much from the past that still exists. What the blazes am I gonna do with it all?! Hope there’re no ghostly cooties clingling on to all the dust.
I’m gobsmacked that this is actually a finished item. My skewed memory tells me I started this three years ago but it may be even longer than that.
I am properly happy that it’s all done and in use. It looks so much better than I thought it would too. I was getting bored of seeing lots of little unstitched hexagons.
Lots of indivdually tacked hexies sat in a paper bag for over three years. Every now and again I’d get them out of the bag to look at them and that was about it. Back in they’d go and I’d do something else instead. Eventually I found that it was time to start.
I laid them out and took a picture to work from so I knew the “random” order that they’d go in.
Eventually I began the slowish process of stitching them together and I was happy to discover that it wasn’t really that slow to do afterall.
With a couple of weeks of sewing little and often, I was finished with stage two.
I liked the crinkle of the paper as I had it on my lap, I don’t know why. With stage two finished, it dawned on me that I’d have to actually put in some effort to move on to stage three. I knew I had to do it immediately because it would otherwise sit in the cupboard for another three years.
The pattern for this is from Cath Kidston’s book, Sew!. The book has so many lovely looking things but I have to be honest, I think the instructions are rubbish! For this particular pattern it wouldn’t have hurt to have a couple of illustrations demonstrating how to insert the lining, would it?! I had a look online but only found other bloggers or reviewers who were frustrated with it too. Nothing that helped unfortunately. With that in mind, I decided to take photos of what I did. Maybe it’ll help someone else. Or maybe it’ll just remind me how I did it, in case I fancy having another go.
And I haven’t even mentioned that the instructions were just plain wrong! It said to fold the lining fabric lengthways. They don’t mean that, they mean the other way. Who wrote that?! That wasn’t the first mistake either. The other error was to do with sewing the hexies together. When joining the outer sides together it told me to sew three rather four of the hexie strips together. If I’d done that, my bag would have had a massive gaping hole at one of the sides! Jeez! Anyway, moving on…
Here are a few pictures showing what I did. Hopefully they’ll do the trick. Do I need some words to go with them? Already feel like I’ve written loads… I suppose I ought to.
Step1: Fold lining fabric widthways.
Step2: Measure 25cm from the bottom fold and mark with a pencil. Or line up the bottom seam of the hexie fabric with the bottom fold of the lining and mark where opening near the top sits (which should work out as approx 25cm).
Step3: Sew that bit on both sides. Then press, continuing the fold to the top of the fabric. Press a seam across the top bits too.
Step4: I snipped the corners to avoid bulk. The instructions don’t tell you to do this but the seams are bigguns.
Step5: Put the lining inside the bag, wrong side out.
Step6: Pin stuff.
Machine stitch the lining to the top of the hexies. Do this on both sides. I think I did this after slip stitching the open sides… I can’t recall. Sorry. Mind you, on that picture above, I can’t see the any stitches. I was drinking Cava at this point so it’s a bit foggy (it was the weekend!). Not sure that bit matters, it’d probably work either way.
This was a fun bit. I managed to catch the end of Adventures in Babysitting, so I sat and watched that whilst pinning the handles in place.
By the time I got round to sewing the hem down I was watching Alien. I haven’t seen it in years, it is such a good film. A proper film (not like Prometheus, ugh, terrible).
I’ve impressed myself by finishing it, I still can’t quite believe it. It’s good, isn’t it!?! I took the pictures of the completed article at Grandma’s house.
The only thing I might change is the green fabric at the top. It’s a bit deep and makes the bag slightly too long.
Would it be that much of a bother to unstitch it and do it again? I could take the time to shorten it but I think I’m nitpicking, it’s probably OK.
And I did it with many interruptions. I took many photos with a child sat on my head (see odd middle picture) and the cat kept sitting on it at any given opportunity!
I was asked via Instagram if I would like to link up with Me, You and Magoo for Crafting is My Therapy. I’ve not done a Link up before but I think I just share this lovely badge and everyone can share a bit of creativity! Is that right?
I cut up a lot of books. Usually they’re ones that have been scribbled on, which puts a stop to any guilty feels. This is most of what I’ve got shoved in my crafty drawer, some may have fallen down the back.
I’ve got a lot of birthdays in October and my collection comes in handy when I haven’t got the time to draw a card design. You upcycle those old pictures into something new like a card!That’s another thing to feel bad about; If you make a birthday card just by sticking a picture onto some card, is that cheating? Well, it’s what I do when time is an issue.
Here is my favourite box of pens and things. I have a scalpel in there wrapped in a tatty masking taped protective thing (Husband made it a long time ago and I have stolen it along with the blade), it’s the dirty thing on the left, next to the brown pencil. We’ve tried to find those Stylo pens but they don’t make them any more. This one is used sparingly, it is lovely to draw with.
Anyway, I use that scalpel to slice up my old pictures and then just bung them on some card with a bit of glue. Easy!
See? Easy! A bit more slicing and done.
Lazy, or what? I regret not having made the effort to do some drawing but I have been so busy that I haven’t had time to think of ideas. I really don’t like drawing something if the idea doesn’t please me greatly. Which reminds me, it is another birthday tomorrow…. Husband’s… I have lost my thinking cap. (The fabric in the background is for a project I did at the beginning of the week. I’ve taken pictures, so it will deffo become a blog post soon.)
Not forgetting to sign “your work” after. Sorry to everyone who gets these. I do try to match the picture to the person but it isn’t always possible.
I can’t decide what to blog about today. I fancy having some random pictures is the thing. I bought some fabric a couple of weeks ago from a shop in Exmouth. Gorgeous fabric, expensive fabric, birthday money fabric. I have no clue what I will be making with it. Every now and then I stare at it, then I put it away in the fabric drawer.
Last Thursday I went to Exeter for car mending and lunch. There is a bookcycle place down the bottom of the high street. The books are free but you give a donation (however much you feel the books are worth). Three per person, but I stole Husband’s allowance too. I found Ladybird books!!
More Ladybird books to add to my collection! I love Ladybird books. I love jumbling for them, car booting for them and finding them in charity shops. They’re getting pricey these days though and hard to find.
I’ve been rooting through my basket of tricks this week. It’s a massive mess in there but it’s full of all things awesome.
I got the basket out to make some felt eyes for a project I’m working on. It’s mostly a crochet thing. A new pattern I’ve invented all by myself! A friend is going to help me design a PDF thingummy so that, I can maybe put them on here to download and ultimately (one day) sell stuff on Etsy. Or some such thing. Maybe. It’s alien to me at the moment but it’s important to learn new skills I suppose.
Here, more gardens pictures, ha! Next door is like a building site, I pretend it’s not there.
The peonies are out but I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. They’re not that great. The clematis is on its last legs.
The best thing about the lupins is the leaves. A fantastic contrast to boring roundy leaves. There are loads of colourful spires on this one too.
Anyway, I think I’m going to go and sit in the garden now (after I’ve done the washing up and hung out some laundry).
And lastly, in this random collection of pictures, I would like to say Thank You to Joyful Solitude for nominating me for a blogging award. Wow! Such a fabulous thing to happen so soon. Must be doing something right! I googled it and haven’t found where the specific award comes from. My gut feeling tells me not to accept because I dont know what it is. Well, actually I’d love to accept but there are conditions of acceptance which, to me defeat the purpose of this space, which is that it is mine and I want to do my own thing. To accept the award you’re supposed to tell seven things about yourself and nominate ten others for the award. I might be shooting myself in the foot, maybe I can defer for a while instead? I’m being a pooper at a party about such a nice thoughtful thing. Eh, I’m still thinking. Also, I’m still adjusting to blogging. It takes me ages to do any thing. For five years I said “I’m gonna start a blog tomorrow.”
Sorry, one more thing. My eldest (6) requested that I post this picture of his Hotwheels car. Here it is sat on a dusty shelf.
On what was a bit of a weird weather day, I decided to try something I’ve been thinking about for ages. Over the past couple of years I’ve been risking jumble fingers by collecting loads of old picture frames from jumble sales and junk shops.
I have now got too many lurking in drawers and other nooks and crannies so it was about time I did something with them. Mostly, the pictures inside the frames are not that good and it won’t be too hard to chuck them away. Sorry Kylie.
I bought mount board and a cutting tool thingy from Amazon ages ago but have only just got round to playing with them properly. I’m not very good. Not sure I’m keen. I quickly gave up on the bevelled edge as my lines were wonky and I was in danger of slicing off a finger. I will try again but I’ll take a break first. Will give it a go in a couple of weeks. I’ve got a lot of frames to get through.
I had a bit of trouble deciding on which picture to choose. I don’t know why, because ultimately, I will be able to frame an awful lot of pictures. Any way, I went for one I’d drawn myself as that is what I fancied. I do have lots of old books to cut up too though. I love old illustrations, especially from children’s books. I’ve got a good collection of them, some of which are waiting to be chopped up!
I’m not sure I even did it correctly, but I’ve played around with it and hopefully stuck it in the frame securely. I used the old picture as the backing and wodged it in tightly. I have avoided buying any pins/nails and hook type things, relying on what is already stuck in the frame.
This is the picture I chose. It looks crappy unfinished, with no colour, but I got my colouring pencils out and I’m actually very pleased with it. Most of the time I’m not really sure what I’m doing, but I know that it’s fun and I’m enjoying playing pencils! Such a dweeb.
I was inspired by the woodland bluebells I saw in Dorset a few weeks ago and I used one of the photographs I took to sketch the scene. Not exactly a replica…hmm.
I’ve got to work on the angled edge of the mount board, I think it’ll make a difference in the presentation. But, I might just be being fussy. The only thing now, is to work out where to hang the picture! And all the others (whenever it is I get round to doing those too).