Monday, 26 January 2009

Basket making

I had a wonderful Christmas present from my daughter - she paid for me to go on a two day basket weaving course. It was really enjoyable, and in the two days I learned how to make some willow baskets. Everyone on the course started from the same basis, with two hoops, and each of us ended with a very individual result.

This is called a God's eye. It holds the hoops together.

I managed to cut myself quite early on (with a Stanley knife) but I still remembered to take photos at each stage...

The final result was a neat little basket which would be perfect for collecting eggs in (if only I had a couple of chickens in my garden!).

Here are my three finished masterpieces (not too bad for a first try, if a bit rusic).

I really enjoyed the weekend - all the materials we needed were provided, and we had help at every stage. It would be fun to do more but there's a lot of advance preparation (the hoops were dried for weeks beforehand, and the other weaving materials had to be soaked to ensure they were flexible). I might have to scavenge in the hedgerows for materials to practice with.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

(picture is from a greeting card - I'd just love to be able to create this sort of thing myself)

Happy New Year to anyone who drops by here.

I hope everyone had a really nice Christmas. Our Christmas was good - my Mum came up on 23rd and my daughter and her boyfriend came up on Christmas Eve. I'd been quite under the weather with a bad cough and spent most of the weekend before Christmas in bed, and was at work on the Monday so it was quite a mad dash to get everything done. In the end everything was fine, though I didn't get to make my mince pies until Christmas Eve, which is very late indeed. The important thing is everyone arrived safely and we spent some good time together.

I did manage to find time decorate my new mantle shelf, but failed to find any decent materials in the hedgerows. It's basically a pine garland with a lovely piece of holly and gold coloured ribbon twined round, with some wooden letters and hearts and stars.
Here is another bit of my effort at Christmas decoration - I have quite a lot of these twiggy things which I put around the room in vases. I don't really like tinsel or garlands hanging from the ceiling, but I love lots of candles and silvery or sparkly stuff. The two little chickens were a present from my daughter - she knows I would like some real chickens, but these little metal ones are almost as lovely as the real thing.

While mum was here I took her out for a few day trips, but I am rubbish at taking photos. We walked along the beach on Mersea Island, and had lunch at a nice pub called the Victory. We visited some pretty Essex villages, Tiptree, Tolleshunt D'Arcy, Fingringhoe, Wivenhoe. We also walked along the Blackwater Estuary at Maldon - but I didn't have my camera with me so can't show you all the lovely views we saw!

I am not a big fan of shopping in the sales but I did buy a couple of these beautiful glass Christmas baubles which were on sale in BHS. We also went into one of the Woolworths shops that was closing down - I felt quite sad, to see the end of an era. We also visited a few charity shops in Billericay (one of the things Mum and I both enjoy is a good charity shop!!) and I got a couple of little bargains - this lovely wool for 89p a ball.

I drove mum and my daughter back to the West Country on Thursday and I went to work on Friday so life is now gradually going back to normal again. This morning my son and I took down our tree and decorations and stored everything away - it feels a bit sad that everything is over for another year.

We are quite pleased that we managed to really cut down on waste this Christmas. No food was wasted, and very little rubbish was created that couldn't be composted. I think next year I would like to see if we can do away completely with wrapping paper, and try to give each other more useful presents. I find the idea of making lots of handmade presents for everyone quite appealing - but I think I would need to start planning well in advance.