Speaking of Textiles

craft collage

Most of my spring, summer, and autumn days are spent in welly boots and earth-stained blue jeans.  Even when I don a sundress, eventually duty calls for a quick change and my denim clad knees are once again in garden dirt. Of course, I love our homefarming life and wouldn’t change a thing about it.  And as the seasons change, the oft-dreaded start of winter weather arrives offering many good reasons to feel appreciation, a break from the laborious garden being the most obvious one.  Another less obvious reason being clean, comfy, and cozy fabrics to wear.

One of my most favourite things about this time of year is the wardrobe that’s in season– wool, corduroy, leather, and velvet, worn with ribbed cotton turtlenecks, cable knit sweater dresses, and knee-high suede boots worn over thick woolly tights. But this isn’t meant to be a commentary on fashion.  What I’m really talking about here are textiles.  I love fabrics, adore the scent and ‘hand’ of different fibres, and if it’s going to be against my skin then I prefer natural materials over man-made synthetics.

The Irish Indian summer is over and this last week we’ve been having strong winds and off and on heavy rain. It’s not bitter cold yet, but it’s just not pleasant to be outside.  So, for now, I’m finding perfect peace and happiness with being forced by nature to stay inside the house.

I spent the inclement weather in my favourite room of the house surrounded by my creative accoutrements– shelves of fabric, spools of thread, boxes of yarn, machines, patterns, hooks, needles, and varietal crafting notions. Here’s what I worked on through the week…


A school bag for one of my children.

nuala backpack

I copied and made a pattern from a store bought bag, adding an elastic topped pocket on the side to hold a cup or thermos.


Ready to sew– tools and accessories gathered, fabrics cut.


Waterproof ripstop fabric for the exterior and cotton upholstery fabric for the lining.

nuala backback

Despite the grey skies and windy day, Nuala happily models her new bag.

Next is a trifold wallet I designed as a birthday gift for a six-year old boy.  Nuala picked out the fabric and helped me sew it.

wallet tri-fold

Made of hard wearing cotton canvas, it has a clear vinyl picture window between three card pockets.  Behind those are two more pockets, one for bills and another that’s zippered for tucking coins into.  Velcro holds the wallet tightly closed.

Even with a low watt bulb, my youngest son’s reading lamp was too bright without a lampshade.  This uses a frame that I got at a second-hand store.  Again, I used waterproof ripstop for this project.   No pattern; I just winged it and it fit like a glove.recovering a lampshade

I really dislike acrylic and dismiss buying items that have more than twenty percent of it listed in its fibre content. Experience has taught me not to waste money on things that will only briefly look good before they begin to pill and look old and worn.  I have wool sweaters that were purchased second hand, and at fifteen years old, they still look as good as new while I’ve tossed out their ragged acrylic counterparts after barely a couple years.

That said, crocheting since childhood, I have accumulated dozens of skeins of acrylic blend yarn over the years and this next project, a work in progress, is a great way to use them up.  It will need special attention when laundering but I’ll do what I have to do.  It uses wool and cotton blend yarns as well.  I’m hopeful it won’t be an example of how you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear (you can’t make a quality product out of inferior materials).

I started this blanket over a year ago, set it aside until recently, and now I can’t seem to put it down.  With 92 hexagons completed, It is nearly halfway finished.  I don’t have an exact number in mind to make, I’ll just know when it’s big enough. The pattern for this afghan can be found here at Attic 24.

hexagon blanket

grey skies covered in

clouds with a silver lining

 reveal bright rainbows


Purchasing decisions should be made considering much more than aesthetics.  It’s nice when something is pleasant to the eye, but more importantly, whatever is designed using textiles** should not only function properly, it should also withstand the test of time.  While there are exceptions to this rule, the current fabric of society (the structure that holds it together) revolves around making a profit through commercialism and we shouldn’t settle for poor quality disposable goods made of cheap materials that line landfills sooner than later and are made by people not earning a decent wage. Think about owning fewer things but better quality.  Real value comes from purchases that have the potential to last long and respects those who produce it.  It makes good cents for your wallet, and good sense for humanity and the environment.  Whether as a crafter, an artisan, or a consumer, knowledge is power and it pays to pay attention to the nature of a textile you are considering owning.  Sometimes spending more money now is saving money later; other times it’s just the right thing to do.

On a lighter note, I’ll end with a bit o’ fyi.

** Did you know textiles are anything knitted or woven or made into a type of fibre?  They’re everywhere, a common thread throughout the world.  Rugs, space suits, car tires, linens, footballs, rope, stuffed teddies, fuel hoses, golf clubs, artificial body parts, fishing poles, parachutes, furniture, wires and cables, seat belts, bike seats, duct tape, supersonic airplane parts, the list goes on and on and on.  And not just from cotton or wool or silk or man-made materials like nylon or rayon or polyester, but also fibres of asbestos, carbon, glass, and stainless steel.  We live in a world made up of textiles, and the world we live in, we live in on account of textiles.

The above haiku poem is part of Ronovan Writes weekly challenge which I thoroughly enjoy participating in.  His words this week are ‘cover & colour’.  Hop on over to his website and check out what others were inspired to write.

Cheers, Melissa Xx


  1. Greg says:

    A lovely and informative post! I, too, love textiles in many forms. Being a leather crafter and my first real job an oriental rug restorationist, it must be in my DNA I reckon. Those are lovely crochet stitches , too, by the way. I taught myself the craft when I was in rehab, still wheelchair-bound, about 17 years ago, though I’ve not had a hook in hand in a long time.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I too skipped years without crocheting when I was in my late teens/young twenties and had ‘better things to do’, but I think crocheting is like riding a bike Greg. Such a portable craft too. It does get in your blood and most textile crafters I’ve met do cross over into other genres as well. Being an oriental rug restorationist is unique one for sure. Does it require intense concentration? If so then obviously a job with no children around, but I think I would enjoy it just the same ;D .

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Andrew! Your woodshop is my craftroom 🙂 And they’re both equipped with a quilter’s mat– probably many of the same other tools as well 🙂 I’m often asking Johnny to return my needlenose plyers and wire cutters. I insisted on my own hammer, screwdrivers and measuring tape that is always left in my room. There was a time when this was all combined and we shared space but we have different organizational needs. Personal space to create is really imperative isn’t it? My space, my mess, my stuff. Of course children are welcome– enter with permission, leave it as you found it please. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lizl says:

    Like the haiku! I look forward to being able to do some sewing again. Mending has gone well. Love the various textures. As life slows down, and I do not have to change clothes so often, I would like to start making my own skirts again (maxi-skirts). That’s got to be forty-some years ago! Gosh!

    I like looking at your stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve learned never to post before checking Ronovan’s words o’ the week. How happy do you think I was when I had post complete and popped over to his site? They were a perfect fit. 🙂 The photo word was ‘grey’ and I just managed that one.

      Ah, maxi-skirts are groovy!! When I was a teenager I loved making knickers and culottes!! So awesome with knee highs. I have one pair of culottes I purchased, but should really give knickers a go. Thanks for that flashback and inspiration. Do share if you get your machine out and start sewing those skirts.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lizl says:

        I am wearing maxi-skirts, again, but they seem only to be sold in summer-weight material for summer wear. Very thin! I wear three or four skirts, counting the outer layer as skirt and the under layers as petticoats. I would like to have a warmer material, perhaps a light- or medium-weight wool for the outer skirt. I look forward to getting the downstairs stuff moved back downstairs, so I have *room*!!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Wool would be fab wouldn’t it. Corduroy is lovely too. Do you have JoAnne Fabrics near you? Goodness how I miss a fabric store with a decent selection. I mentioned here how I love to feel and smell the fabric; doesn’t happen with online fabric shopping, ah well, complaining won’t help.
          A space to leave projects is very important. When I was a girl I did sewing in my bedroom, was very grateful to have a machine of my own, but realized years later when I had my own workshop how valuable ‘set up’ and ‘pack away’ time is. Very nice to just leave and return to a project and the tools/machinery without needing the space in between for dinner, homework, etc.
          Definitely let me know if you get going on it…perhaps a poetic post will reveal your crafty going-ons 😉

          Liked by 1 person

          • Lizl says:

            There is indeed a Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Store only a bit farther than 30 blocks from our house. I don’t think that I know anyone there, anymore. I believe the last thing I bought from them was a length of dark, wild-patterned cotton fabric to make a floor-length (the width of the bolt) skirt. Sewed up the seam (flat-felled) and tacked in a ribbon to use as a waistband, with the excess top material tucked over to the inside. Minimal sewing. I lost track of it in the midst of moving clothing upstairs, but I’ve seen it around, the past couple years.

            The one thing I disliked about sewing on Corduroy, come to think of it, is cutting and sewing flat-felled seams. :D. Enough of that! I must take my nap, now. Hope you’re had a good day, there!


    • Wonderful haiku words chosen by Ronovan this week to match my craft post, so grateful. Really nice when it goes this smoothly, feels effortless, and they compliment each other like fresh air and sunshine 🙂


  3. You are very creative Melissa. I really like your creations. Where do you buy waterproof textiles? They are difficult to find. Thanks for the pattern to the blanket, I have much yarn as leftovers.
    Thank you for your kind feedback 🙂


  4. kim says:

    Lovely post Melissa, you’ve inspired me to get my wool out and start something – I’m going to take a look at that blanket pattern – but I might have to start with something simpler as I haven’t been crocheting very long and don’t want to overwhelm myself! Take care x

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Your sounding more and more like a soul sister 🙂 ❤ its only been some curtains and furniture covers my end … the last few years .. you just made me realise how much I miss having a room to play with fabrics n textiles n more … I guess with a background in design its always calling us somehow to create something in one way or other 🙂

    Oh & its ALL Beautiful ❤ Thank you for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maia, From all I know of you and now to discover we share a love of textile appreciation and creativity as well, I agree– soul sisters we are ❤ Curtains and furniture covers no small task; I love functional art the best!!
      Even if a room is not affordable, a table top is a fine space too. Nice to have a dedicated space, only for your art that you can come and go and pick up where you left off. But, that said, if it is the kitchen table and you have to tote around supplies, once the creativity begins it just becomes part of the process. The season is here, have fun!
      Thank you for your kind word about my projects also. Peace and love, Melissa

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I think you have a couple of skeins of Maine yarn to knit ( or crochet) into something wooly! You are so right……now that a good portion of the garden work is done for the season, I am finding time everyday to knit or sew or felt something. Here in Maine, I hear constantly people complain about the upcoming winter season…the cold, the short days, blah, blah, blah…….I love it. I love putting on my wool long johns in the morning, my green wool hunting pants ( you remember those, right Melissa??? all Mainer’s have a pair of these!), and a bundle of wool sweaters on top. Thankfully, living in rural Maine does not require fashion to override comfort and practicality….. can’t imagine how that would work for me! May be over in February…if so…..I will come with a supply of yarn to send up to you.
    Blessings and best to all, D


    • Denise, I have your gifted handmade wool sitting aside me right now just inches away. I must weigh it and then consider what project to make with it. I love it in it’s natural state (such an Irish/Aran shade of colour) but am really considering dying it as you suggested. Though I am trepidatious, concerned I mightn’t be as happy with it (read here ‘I might screw it up’).

      I’m with you, why complain about the weather, eh? Each new season offers it’s own opportunities (or one could focus on the limits it imposes, but not us 🙂 . Of course I remember the green wool hunting pants. They coordinate very nicely with blaze orange don’t they? My dad is deer hunting weekly with my brother in law. Mmmm, venison…where was I going with this? Oh ya. Two of my absolute wardrobe pieces are 15, err closer to 20, years old– Land’s End grey wool sweater with wooden buttons and a Goodwill purchased ($3.99) red and grey with silver buttons Scandinavian design wool L.L. Bean sweater. They have come and gone with fashion but for me they are staples. Comfortable, warm, and very practical.

      Will you be travelling with Sally if you visit in Feb? Maybe I could make a day trip to you this time, boldly inviting myself, not to deny you a trip to Aran of course. I must pop over and see how your project house has progressed. Hope you and Rick are well. Hugs, Melissa


      • Hello Melissa, When I look into my closet, I am always surprised at how little my ‘fashion’ ‘ what fashion?!!) style has changed. Not much, really. Still heavy on the practical side…clothes for warmth and clothes for work.
        Have not heard the official dates yet for traveling back to Ireland but would surely love to visit again. You are so very welcome to come and stay in Kilorglin….it would be fun to have you come along on a few visits with our old friends. We’ll stay in touch and see what works best. Are you fairly ready for the winter months ahead on the island? Do you miss Thanksgiving? For us here, it is a big event…..lots of friends and family will gather to share a harvest meal. Not so keen on the historical reference of Thanksgiving, but love having this opportunity to come together and feast on the well earned summer’s bounty. Of course, here too, we will all venture out to deer hunt. I have had my eye on a nice spike horn that has been making an appearance down in the lower sheep field. I’ll let the boys wait it out for the big bucks…I go for young and tender food supply!
        best to all…..denise

        Liked by 1 person

        • We’re still getting ready for winter here, though I think it’s now officially started (basing it on temperature drop). We still have loads of seaweed to gather. Really should have done it when the warm was here but somehow we just got sidetracked by the gloriousness of it all.

          I would love to visit some of your old friends and share that experience with you. As you said, we’ll talk more about it when the time comes.

          We do celebrate Thanksgiving here. We keep the kiddos home from school and make a long weekend of it and have a big harvest feast as well. Depending on the weather we might have an outside adventure. Nothing will ever be the same as being in America for it though. Best luck getting that deer. I remember when my mum got her first one; a mighty celebration it was. Fingers crossed for some venison sausage in the new year for you all. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  7. pagedogs says:

    Such a timely piece for me. Yesterday, the wind was howling here and I pulled out my lovely fabrics and yarns to line up for projects this winter. It’s been years since I’ve had the time to do much sewing and I’m licking my textile chops. I also found, stored in a trunk, an old alpaca wool cape that my mother brought me from a trip to South America more than 40 years ago. With a gentle wash and a few repairs, amazingly, it’s still lovely and wearable. Natural fibers are the way to go!

    Liked by 2 people

    • ‘Licking my textile chops.’ Love it!! 😀

      Betting that wool cape is stunning…just adore when something old is new again. Always good to tuck special pieces away for this reason, though I believe the memory of some items is far greater than the item itself was when parted with, and also that there are a few that should never be parted with. Reuniting is like meeting an old friend. Enjoy every moment wearing your wonderful cape and beginning a new sewing era for yourself.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hiya Kathy, Hope you have a few things lined up to brighten up the cold, wet, and windy days ahead of us. Winter has come with a bang hasn’t it (we knew it would)? and such a fine autumn to make us forget all about the chilly summer we had. I secretly love this weather (right now that is, will be loathing it at the end of January!) Melissa 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, it’s windy here alright. We’ve put up our two new tunnel hoops but yet to get the weather for the poly. Maybe not this winter. That’s ok, the craft room calls and winter greens are under mini tunnels, still it’s missing from our landscape. Stay safe and warm now and will surely be seeing you more as indoor weather is dictated.

      Liked by 1 person

        • We keep the children home from school and have some family over for a nice meal. We don’t have turkey but this time of year. Very hard to make it special when no one else is celebrating it. And we eat big meals often so, nothing much different. We will eat in the dining room instead of the kitchen island. It’s more special than it sounds but only because of our attitude, but nothing compares to celebrating with an entire country does it?

          Liked by 1 person

          • I think that sounds like a very special way of celebrating. Post a picture of your table when everything is laid out…I bet it will look amazing.
            I wanted to mention that I thought the large wreath you made was absolutely amazing! I tried to write a comment to your post but I think it disappeared into a big hole in the internet 😦

            Liked by 1 person

          • I will try to get a pic but it’s no Norman Rockwell scene in our home. Not much patience once the food is on the table and the in-laws don’t get the blogging side of me documenting this and that. A photo would make a nice memento though so I will try.

            The wreath came down this week for fear it would be projected into orbit with the severe winds we’ve been experiencing. I think the birds have enjoyed it more lying on the ground than on the wall 😀 It will go back up decked out in it’s Christmas finest in a couple weeks, secured on the two sides in addition to the top and bottom. That post got picked up by HomeFarmer magazine and they posted it on their online publication saying they would put it in their mag next year if I got high resolution pics. Don’t know will I even remember it then or care to bother, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t mighty chuffed with the whole thing.

            Liked by 1 person

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