Monday, 11 February 2013

Hanging with my Valentine

Children's britannica Sheila Perry Valentine
Impress the one you love with a dangly decoration

If you're of a romantic, as well as creative, persuasion, there's still time to make this fancy 3D heart, or pop-up secret-message card for your sweetheart this Valentine's Day...

children's Britannica Sheila Perry Valentine
Lift the flaps to read secret love messages

A few weeks ago, I spotted an entire set of Children's Britannica encyclopaedias, dated 1973, in a charity shop, and after I snapped up 10 of the most colourful volumes to use in another project* the lady behind the till put them in one of those large paper bags with string handles. It was snowing outside, which, I soon realised, meant I couldn't put the bag down the whole two miles home without it getting soggy. Boy did my arms ache when I staggered through my front door. But then, in the back of Volume 13 (Pacific Islands to Pond Life), I found this delightful papercrafting section which I hadn't even noticed in the shop:

Valentine 1
Oh Sheila, you do spoil us

In this unencyclopaedic-looking 24-page supplement (first printed 1967), Sheila Perry** explains how to make a three-dimensional decoration for every occasion – she does a mean illustration and has some really lovely ideas.

Better still, I discovered that she contributed another section – Scissors and Paper – to Volume 15 (Rice to Sedge). Expect funny people, paper puppets and stand-up animals coming to you soon. 

So if you think your crush or squeeze deserves a handcrafted Valentine's message, click to find out how to make these original Valentine's cards, here.

* watch this space ;-)
** I've tried Googling her to no avail

Sunday, 3 February 2013


Vogue Guide to Knitting cover
Published by Collins/Conde Nast (1972)
Two new (read: 30-year-old) craft books recently came into my possession, both on the subject of knitting - must be something in the air (er, that would be the snow, sleet and rain).

The first – the Vogue Guide to Knitting, I picked up in Oxfam in Tooting (a nice area of south London I venture to rarely and which makes me think of Citizen Smith and 'Power to the people'. I was in that neck of the woods getting some advice at the amazing Wimbledon Sewing Machine Centre, which, incidently, is attached to one of my favourite museums, the weird and very wonderful London Sewing Machine Museum).

I clocked the 'Tiny bikinis' referred to on the cover, and then the 'Exciting designs' – for example a terrific smock (with rolled-up jeans, thick socks and sandals), and a fair isle sweater and matching beret worn by a rather stern child:

Vogue Guide to Knitting
Vogue Guide to Knitting

I also just love the floral/stripey pullover on the cover (not to mention the girl's hairdo). Here she is again, looking as if she's holding an iPod in some bizarre knitting-meets-time-travel experiment.

Vogue Guide to Knitting
The shape of things to come

Click here for a (as always free) PDF of the pattern for her lovely floral pullover.

Aran & Fair Isle Knitting cover
Published by Marshall Cavendish (1982)

The second book, Aran and Fair Isle Knitting, I received as a gift from someone who knows me only too well. 'Tis a technicolour treasure trove of Scottish knitwear, such as this lovely jumper:

Aran & Fair Isle Knitting
Getting it in the neck
and I also just really like the colours in the stitch samples and the diagrams:

Aran & Fair Isle Knitting

Aran & Fair Isle Knitting vintage craft book

Aran & Fair Isle Knitting vintage craft book
Add caption
I'm spoilt for things to share with you from this book so I'm plumping for the adorable pompom mittens shown on the cover. You will need three balls of Aran wool and these instructions.

Stay cosy!