May Cliff 2016

We’re only just into June and I’ve only just finished my May Cliff Richard Craft Challenge.DSC_0341 May Cliff has caused me untold problems. As previously mentioned, I bought myself a drop spindle. Following several very informative YouTube videos and a couple of unsuccessful false starts, I successfully managed to spin some yarn from mohair wool tops. It was all going well until I got to the end. I’m still not entirely sure how to remove my newly spun yarn from the spindle without it all untwisting itself – it’s still there… I’ll write a post about my adventures in spinning at a later date but for now back to the challenge.

I had been under the impression that spinning paper into yarn would be a reasonably straightforward thing to do. Trust me it isn’t. Firstly (and I feel, in my defense), the calendar is made of the “wrong” sort of paper. All of the tutorials I looked at were using newspaper – shiny calendar paper doesn’t behave in the same way. I cut the calendar page into one massive strip of paper (like the plastic bag to plarn idea from my previous post) and tried to spin it myself by hand which worked a bit but mainly ended up with a lot of swearing and a lot of short lengths of twisted paper. Secondly, I’m pretty sure the tutorials lied – spinning anything, let alone paper is hard! There are so many ways to make a mess of the whole thing! After a serious rethink I adapted my plans but continued with the intended May project.
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The May Cliff Challenge was to use circular plastic canvases as the base for weaving a set of raffia and paper coasters. After the disappointment of the whole calendar to yarn failed experiment, I decided to use the calendar pieces as a feature rather than the main component of the coasters. I used strips of the calendar as the centre of the canvas, weaving them into a cross pattern before completing the first round of the coaster with green raffia. Once again I made sure that Cliff’s eye was prominent in the centre of one of the coasters along with an eyebrow and some more of his leathery face. I also wove strips of the calendar at uniform intervals around the canvas then filled in the gaps with natural raffia. This sounds so simple! The strips that I’d originally cut the calendar into were too thick to thread through the holes in the canvas even after twisting them so after several obscenity filled attempts, I had to cut the strips in half to make them thinner. I once again tried twisting the thinner strips but was once again defeated by the make-up of the calendar paper – I’d manage maybe two or three stitches before the paper “thread” broke and I had to, once again, tidy up the ends and start again. So I carefully and delicately used the calendar paper in flat strips to add the detail. You may be able to spot tiny snippets of Cliff’s particularly “jazzy” (snazzy or natty would also work here – perhaps read hideous) shirt if you look closely! Each coaster was then edged with orange raffia and I did a round of double running stitch between each different colour.
I used a spray gloss lacquer to finish to coasters and to try and make them more durable. A great craft find – so much easier and quicker than painting a layer of varnish. I also backed them with circles of cork (leftover flooring tiles from the DIY store). My husband said that they looked almost like something you might buy in a shop – damned by faint praise indeed! I’m pretty pleased with them – OK they didn’t go exactly as planned but the finished article is useful and almost beautiful, so all in all a successful project.
Materials: 7cm plastic canvas circles (mine were from Fred Aldous), raffia in various colours, Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Craft Enamel in Clear, Cork floor tiles

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