Sidwell Street Art

Sidwell Street and I go way back. Give it a few months and it will be twenty years ago that I lived and worked there. It’s at the grubby, top end of Exeter High street and even twenty years ago it was grim. But it was home for a couple of years whilst I was in my second and third year of uni. Me and my two flatmates, Tim and Fiona lived above Kent’s, an antique jewelry shop. Mr Kent was our landlord and he ran his dusty old shop down stairs and we had the wonky flat upstairs. The flat wasn’t separate from the shop so if Mr Kent wanted he could just stop in for a chat. Rather kindly, he always hollered up the stairs first. And usually only did it if we hadn’t paid our rent.

Our home was literally falling part. The floor of each room was concave, the windows didn’t fit in their frames and the door of my bedroom once fell off in my hands, I used to lift it into place every night. It was the oldest part of Sidwell Street, I think it used to be a farm building (but I could be making that up, can’t really remember). Kent’s hasn’t been there for a while and I assume Mr Kent is no longer with us as he was pretty musty even then. It now looks like it was knocked down and rebuilt, the brick work is all new and the windows aren’t on the wonk.

It was a few doors down from the Odeon. I worked at the Odeon for about five years. It was my job while I was at uni and a couple more years beyond that as well. It’s a proper original Odeon, built in 1937. There’s some great original features behind the scenes. Sometimes we would go and explore but normally that was frowned upon, especially when we got found out.

I’d wash my clothes at the launderette, go to the pub on the corner, buy my tobacco and cheap wine from Alldays and stuff my face with KFC and Dominoes pizza because they were all on the doorstep. So yeah, Sidwell Street and I know each other well.

A couple of months ago I saw a post on Facebook asking for local artists who were interested in an opportunity to display their work. More and more vacant shops have been appearing up that end of town, so it started to look not just a bit shabby, but really run down. Then along came Adam who could see the potential for something a bit different. He works at Eat the Bird, a restaurant sandwiched between empty shops. From what I understand he contacted the owners of the buildings who agreed to letting people like me display their stuff free of charge. I thought it was a marvellous idea so I got in touch.

Last Saturday I took a crate load of crochet into town and chucked it in the shop window of the old Halfords. Sort of. I actually knew exactly how I wanted it displayed, I even drew a picture. As soon as I heard that I’d been chosen to have my crochet go in a window, I got myself down to Ikea and also did a hasty order on Amazon. (If it had been this weekend, I doubt I’d have been able to do that, Ikea has shut its doors now).

The night before, the boys helped to put together the Ikea bits and we got going with some spray paint (it was so much fun, I think I might become a Grafitti artist next… ). My budget was small, I spent £17 on the Ikea bits and about the same on the paint and tape that was needed.

Then I packed up all my crochet samples and spare blankets. I thought I was taking way too much but actually ended up using it all. Most of it is probably being permanently sacrificed to the Crochet Gods, I don’t think it’ll survive four months in a shop window. It’s unlikely to come out looking exactly like when it went in. It’s a sacrifice worth making, no? I can just crochet it all again if I want to! I just hope people see it now.

Social distancing and the closure of the shops and restaurants that were still thriving means that the foot fall will have dramatically decreased. That’s OK. Even if some people don’t get to see it, at least I can say I have achieved a major thing in my crafting career. I’m dead proud and hopefully those that do see it will be cheered by the sight of lots of colourful woolly bits. I’ve got crochet on the high street, that’s awesome!

It’s there until July. There are also other shop windows with artist’s work on display so if it is at all possible, perhaps on a quiet day, go and check it out.

I’ll post some pics below. First, lots of photos of the space and then the crochet goodness. Let me know what you think! Cheers. x

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Shocked by the power of crochet.

And then the display starts to come together.

I am still recovering from pompom related injuries.
Little helpers
Sharing Halfords with Jo, @rebel_for_life_uk
Sidwell Street art inspo

Crafty Crochet Catch Up for Spring.

giant-crochet-granny-squareHello!! How is everyone today? I feel a bit funny. I think I’m slightly overwhelmed. Thank you soo much for being so very kind about my first foray into vlogging. It was absolutely awesome to hear from all of you. I go from being all casual about it, to feeling extreme nervousness. I think it mostly went well. I’m looking forward to filming another one next week and I am wavering ever so slightly about filming a crochet tutorial this afternoon [edit: I tried, ugh, it was bad: tech issues, focus issues, brain issues. I will try again]. If you didn’t see my last post, please check out the crochet vlog here. Anyway, this is a crafty catch up so let’s get moving…

mini-crochet-circlesI still had lots of  Stylecraft Special dk left from my Crazy Chevron blanket so, on Sunday I made 48 little circles. I was thinking baby blanket. I was also thinking of doing a continuous-join-as-you-go. I can’t do one of those though. My guess is that I’d need a minimum of 4 balls of the same colour for that. This is part of an on-going stash busting  endeavour and I’m trying to avoid bringing in more yarn. I kind of did buy two extra balls for this already and I’m going to run out of the blue (lobelia) soon. Oh, it’s an instant fail.

colourful-crochet-circlesAll 48 circles now have three rounds. I could square them up to join-as-I-go and use different colours but would it be more interesting to try something new? Eeh, I don’t know, there’s no rush is there? I think I’m going to go for more too. Apart from the lobelia there looks like there’s enough for another 48 circles. Any joining suggestions?

rowan-stone-washedAt the beginning of last week I got a lovely surprise when Posty brought a parcel to my door. I wasn’t expecting it but I knew instantly who it was from because of the massive label greeting me on the box. This Rowan Stonewashed yarn was a gift from my friends (I can call them that now can’t I?) at Wool and The Gang. I’ve been lucky enough to have been sent their yarns before. If you fancy checking them out you can read about my mohair experience here. And my gargantuan (yet super warm) scarf here.

rowan-stonewashIf I’m being totally honest, the stonewashed is not what I’d normally go for. But they asked me to play with it and that’s what I’ve done. I like it and I’ve enjoyed being coaxed out of my comfort zone.  I’m always up for a yarny challenge!

The yarn is a collaboration with Rowan Yarns, which I class as high-end yarn. There are free patterns on the Rowan website for garments and shawls using this yarn.  I couldn’t put my finger on what it reminded me of for ages. It’s marble! It reminds me of marble! There’s kind of an Art Deco quality to it, whether or not that was what was intended!

mini-crochet-purseI’ve made three little purses out of the two balls they sent me and I’ve made some snazzy tassels too. I’ve not put the zips on yet so I’ll come back with pictures when they’re done.

simple-t_shirt-yarn-bag cute-little-bag-using-t-shirt-yarnNext up is this cute little bag I put together. In half term the boys and I went on the bus to Exeter to visit the dentist (living the high life) and happened to fall into Tiger (I didn’t realise until yesterday that it’s actually called Flying Tiger!). I came out with two balls of t-shirt yarn and I won’t mention the bagful of other random stuff. I’ve briefly shown on Instagram and the vlog the spiral I started. The spiral turned into a bag and the bag has turned into a written pattern! Just like that! Well, not just like that. At this point I say a massive Thank You to my IG friends (including my fellow WordPress pals Eleonora of Coastal Crochet and Teresa of Shirley Rainbow) who tested the pattern for me. Majorly helpful, without you, the pattern would have been a mess , so thank you very much indeed!! Please go to Ravelry where the pattern is now live!! Wahoo!

stashbusting-crochet-granny-blanketI’m now going to bombared you with pictures of a giant granny blanket….

simple-granny-borderThis has been another stashbuster. I’m so happy to have finished it. I didn’t know it at the time but it was destined to become a birthday present for someone in the family. Stylecraft Spesh again. All the colours that had nowhere else to be but with each other. I rather like it. A proper Granny blanket, don’t you reckon?!

granny-blanket giant-granny-square crochet-in-the-homeSuch is my commitment to getting this to its destination, I managed to drag myself to the post office even after I’d fallen over and torn a hole in Brand New Jeans!! A week later and Youngest boy is still asking why I fell over. Because I did. It was slippery, it was down a steep slope and I was wearing New Clothes. That’s why! There’s nothing quite like holding back your own tears whilst a boy of nearly four cries for cuddles with Daddy… because Mummy fell over.

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