Tag Archives: lilycobweb

Day 14! – Heartfelt and Handmade: An Apologia

Well peeps, this is it! The final day…*sad face*. I have enjoyed myself so much. Every time I do one of these blogfests I always end up with more incredible friends, more incredible patterns/recipes/projects and so much more appreciation for just what a wonderfully generous community the crafting one is!

In order to get through today I turned to baking. Baking fixes everything…and you get to eat it afterwards. Perfect! So I rustled up a batch of the Muesli Bars that were in yesterdays post. Yummy and very good with my iced latte that I made to Leethal’s great recipe.

And while watching the Wimbledon Men’s Final, I finished off my ‘Sweetie’ hat from Day 6, that I am now lovingly calling my ‘Crown of Leaves’ :) It is such a sweet project, fast and satisfying, and sits really nicely. I only did 5 rows of plain, between the end of the lace pattern and the start of the decreases for the top of the hat, to make it sit snugly on the back of my head. The perfect summer hat!

And so today I will leave you with one last thought, provided by Lilycobweb, the person who taught me how to knit and crochet. Thank you to everyone who was involved in this project…I’ll be doing proper thank you’s tomorrow (as well as telling you what really happened to the missing Day 11 :)

Heartfelt and Handmade – An Apologia

by Lilycobweb

AMDD is now drawing to a close. As an avid daily reader, I will miss the blog posts that bring together such fascinating elements from the minds of creative folk web-wide and world-wide. I have noticed a slender thread running through a number of the posts, from the Pilgrimage Cuffs to Susan Moloney’s amazing mixed-media pieces. This is the idea of Art or Craft as memoir or personal history.

This is not a new idea, but it’s certainly one worth revisiting. It requires an understanding of the value of anything handmade, not in terms of the quality of the materials, the time spent in its making, or the skill it takes to fashion it. Another leap of the imagination is required. You must imagine the flow of energy between the creator and the object, the music of an idea or design coming into being in a joyous, exciting way. That is what gives art and craft its magic.

It’s a personal crusade of mine to spread that message. Craft is widely misunderstood. I cavil slightly when people say (and they do!) ‘That must be very therapeutic for you’. I don’t do it solely to calm my shattered nerves. A course of high-dose Vitamin B would do that more effectively. I do it because it is how I give expression to an idea, a form, a function, a design, or a combination of colours. That is what makes the process calming and fulfilling-the fact that you are transforming your creative energy into something real.

An added dimension to that wonderful process of becoming is when it has a specific significance for the creator or the recipient, when found or significant objects are incorporated into the design and the making. Then, the value of the creation is so much more enriched, for the maker and the eventual recipient. American patchwork quilts are the obvious example, notably the AIDS quilts made in the ’80s as a way to commemorate the victims and console the survivors. It’s a perfect example of a community response to trauma through creativity and craft. There are lots of other examples, and I’d like to hear yours, if you’d care to comment. Otherwise, this may become a PhD thesis….

In pondering these worthy notions, I began to think about my personal history of the handmade. I have always had a huge fascination for things that are made by hand. It’s a family thing. My sister Brid and I go into transports of joy when we enter craft shops and art galleries, much to the dismay of our loved ones. They know it will be a whole-afternoon affair. Brid has gifted me so many lovely handmade things over the years….earrings from far-flung places are her specialty, and she had a rare talent for choosing the perfect ones for me. They are often translucent green (to match my eyes, I like to think) Thanks, Brid, and we have a date when you come home from Portugal!

I learned my craft of choice (crochet, for those of you who don’t know me) when I was a little girl and crocheted up a storm until my teens. Then, I abandoned it for cooler pursuits, like painting and life-drawing. (Well, at age 18, drawing the nude male form beat the double-treble or the bullion stitch hands down! ) In time, I abandoned those pursuits too, and just did nothing that filled that creativity space in a satisfying way.

That was when I got obsessed with other people’s work-buying it, hoarding it, hoping some of its magic would rub off on me. In 1980, when I was a young student, I remember buying the most amazing crocheted afghan in shades of red, grey and black in the Bloemenmarket in Amsterdam for 4 guilders. That’s probably about 3 euros. I kept it for years, then gifted it to a friend when she had her first baby. Shameful to admit, I sometimes wish I hadn’t, so much did I love that blanket!

I remember every handmade thing I ever bought, the joy of the purchase and sheer delight if it was a bargain. I could tell you many stories, but the point of it all is this. I was just flirting with my own creativity then, not realising the need for it to be liberated in some way, any way. How really didn’t matter. It just needed to be done. And it was.

I buy just as many handmade things these days, but for different reasons. I don’t need the vicarious thrill anymore. I create myself these days. No matter how it is perceived by anyone else, what is important is that I do it. It’s very important for me.

What follows is a list. A list of handmade things that resonate with meaning and history-some I’ve made myself, some were made by family and friends. Treasured and shared, they have brought a lot of joy. That’s the point of the whole thing. I invite you to add to the list and share your treasured handmade thing, something you made or were gifted. Just comment below. I’ll be fascinated. I always am. Thanks for listening.

  • Kelly Donovan’s crocheted wool scarf. A gift from her to me before we’d even met.
  • A ‘Labour of Love’ or a crocheted cot coverlet-. When I was pregnant with my son Keian, I started making a fine lace cot cover in very intricate Irish crochet stitches. (I was convinced I was having a girl!) I didn’t finish until he was 15 years old. Artist  and great friend, Marie-Claire Douglas of Seacrest Galleries, convinced me to frame it for an exhibition of textile art she curated in 2007. I’m proud I finished it in the end.
  • Flannel nightdresses that came from Iran. My mother-in-law is a seamstress. I didn’t meet her for 10 years after I married her son. When we had Parisa, and then Maryam, she would send us these amazing flannel nighties for them in her unique pattern complete with frilled yoke. I still have them all, and nothing evokes memories of their babyhoods more than the made-with-love nightwear sent by a woman I’d never met.
  • A Summer Garden. This wallhanging was made as a group project at Northern Ireland Baha’i Summer School in 2006, I think. Every group member made a flower or a leaf. (I can still remember who made what!). Zhenia Mahdi-Nau, friend and artist extraordinaire, helped me to join the motifs and mount it on a stretched canvas. It is now in the private collection of Tina Salter.
  • My daughter Soheila has sensory issues and hated to wear a hat when she was a child. I made her a beanie from the very softest chenille I could find. I was HONOURED that she wore it until it didn’t fit her anymore. She loved to wear it when I was hoovering-to block out the noise!
  • Queen of the Fairies- the most amazingly intricate cross-stitch artwork I have ever seen! This was a gift to me from my lovely cousin Angela Moriarty, when I visited her in Huddersfield in September last year. It looks like a painting, and I need to post a photo worthy of it.

Lilycobweb is a crochet designer and artist from Ireland, who has been crafting since she was little. She has passed her incredible skills on to many people, not least her daughter…me! You can contact her via her etsy store: lilycobweb.etsy.com


Lilycobweb’s Tiny Holly & Ivy Purse

Tiny Holly & Ivy Purse

Designed by Lilycobweb.

The Holly and Ivy purse is a versatile item, making a perfect gift bag for a pair of earrings or a ring. A dozen of them would look great as Christmas tree decorations, or they can be filled with cinnamon and orange-scented  cottonwool to create a seasonal aroma in your house or your car.

This takes a little over an hour to make, trust me. If you know basic crochet stitches like the half-treble, treble and slip-stitch, you’re good to go! Study the pattern and try it out in any old double-knitting yarn to ensure you have the general idea. This is worked in circular rows, increasing and then decreasing, and then increasing again for the wide frill at the top. You can do this intuitively, watching the increases and deciding when it’s time to shrink, decrease for a bit until the neck is narrow enough and go nuts with the increases again for two rows. That brings you to the last two rows, one of shell stitch (very easy), another finishing row with a fine-thread green double-crochet edging to make the shells look pointed like holly leaves.

All year round. I make (and sell) an even tinier version of  the yuletide one. The pattern for both is the same, the yarn thickness giving the different sizes. Pictured below, the teenytiny one is less than an inch long and is made in two strands of  fine multicoloured crochet cotton, finished with 3mm satin or organza ribbon.

These are the cutest things and very quick to make. If you are planning well ahead for next Advent season, make the required number in many colours, pin them to a long, 6mm wide swathe of ribbon, and you have a lovely Advent calendar. Don’t forget to fill them up with surprises! Customers often ask me to put brooch backs on these, as they make an unusual and pretty corsage.

Materials and where to get them:

By far the best place to buy crochet cotton is on the internet. This great seller, Lalana of Yarnstick, has an Ebay shop and a website you can purchase from also. She’s my best-kept secret!! www.yarnstick.co.uk

The red cotton I used for this project was bought in Lidl, who occasionally stock some. Colours are limited but quality and price are excellent. Crochet cotton has a firm, smooth feel and is slightly sheeny. Wool or acrylic yarn is not normally strong or stringy enough for this project but you can always experiment.

You will need:

  • 50g of red crochet cotton. This is like 4-ply yarn. (Try Circulo Anne or Clara Moda size 3 from Yarnstick).
  • 50g of dark green crochet cotton(No.20) This is like sewing thread. (I buy Rubi or Aquarelle from Yarnstick)
  • 3mm crochet hook
  • Half a metre of 3mm organza or satin ribbon (green or red)

Abbreviations: sl.st (slip stitch), htr (half treble), tr(treble), dc double crochet, ch(chain) Pattern written using British crochet terms.

The Pattern:

Work the green and red threads together:

Row 1: Ch.6, sl.st. into 1st. ch from hook to make a ring.

Row 2: 2ch, 1 htr into 6ch ring, 8 more htrs into 6ch ring. Join with a sl.st. (9htrs)

Row 3: 2ch, 2 htr into 1st htr of previous row, 2htr into top of each htr of previous row. Join with sl.st. (18htrs)

Row 4: 2ch, * 2htr into 1st htr of previous row, 1htr into next 2htrs of previous row, 2htr into next htr stitch** Repeat from * to** . Join with sl.st. (24 htrs)

Row 5: 2ch., #2htr into 1st htr of previous row, 1htr into next 3htrs of previous row, 2htr into next htr stitch## Repeat from # to##. Join with sl.st. (33 htrs)

Row 6: 2ch., 1htr  into each stitch of previous row. Join with sl.st. (33 htrs)

Now the decreasing rows start…..

Row 7: 2ch., @Skip 1htr, 1htr into next 3 sts.,@@ Repeat from @ to @@ to end. Join with sl.st.  (24 htrs)

Row 8: 2ch., %Skip 1htr, 1htr into next 4sts.,%% Repeat from % to %% to end. Join with sl.st. (20 htrs)

Row 9: I htr into each st. to end. Join with a sl.st. (20 htrs)

Now you come to the ‘neck’ of the bag. This is the row you will thread the ribbon through.

Row 10: Ch.3, 1 tr into 2nd st from hook, +ch.1, skip 2st., 1tr into next st, ch.1, skip 2st., 1 tr into next st++ Repeat to end. Join with sl.st.

Next  two rows are the ‘frill’, so lots of increases…

Row 11: Ch.3., 3tr into the first 1ch space of the previous row, 3tr into every 1ch space. Join with sl.st.

Row 12: Ch.3., 2tr into 1st st., **1tr into next st.,2tr into next, 1tr into next st.***  Repeat from ** to*** to end of row.

Now for the edging….

Row 13: Sl.st into 1st ch from hook. Into next ch, work the following group of stitches (1dc, 1htr, 1tr, 1htr, 1dc). This is one ‘shell’. !Sl.st into next 2ch. 1 shell into next chain !!. Repeat from ! to !!. Join with sl.st.

Row 14: With No.20 green thread, work 4 dc into every top of every stitch in previous row. Fasten off.

Thread 3mm satin ribbon through spaces in Row 11. Pull and tie in a bow.

Teenytiny purse:

The pattern is the same. Just work 2 strands of No 20 thread together. Use 1.75mm hook.

Let me know if you need any part of this pattern clarified. It looks scary on paper but is really easy when you start. It can be made without stitch counting. Just decide how wide you want your purse and increase. Then, decide how narrow, and decrease. Increase again for the ‘frill’ but don’t make it more than two rows before you start the edging. I love making these. They are quite addictive! Hope you give it a try.

Crochet is something Lilycobweb has studied and developed since she was a child. She loves its endless flexibility and sculptural qualities. You can contact Lilycobweb at www.lilycobweb.etsy.com (Photos taken by Maryam Roohipour)