Winter hobbies – Making beautiful things on the cheap

My Great Aunt Sylvia, who died recently in her 90s, spent winters in her chilly North Yorkshire farm cottage making the most beautiful and intricate patchwork quilts with tiny octagons, hexagons and squares of old fabric. And her sister, my Granny Molly, made stunning rag rugs in rich jewel-like colours (pictured).

Pick a serious craft project to see you through the winter gloom

It struck me it’d be great to have a serious craft project to see me through ’til spring instead of blobbing around watching telly or spending too much cash going out.

Rag rugs and patchwork throws are just the thing. They’re both straightforward enough once you get the hang of the technical side. Once you’ve mastered the practicalities, you can have excellent creative fun.

Get creative with hand made scarves, bags, rugs and throws

My friend Lavinia has great taste. I call it tasteful taste, whereas my own is just bizarre. We had a thing about making scarves a few winters ago. Hers were lusciously subtle with clear, quiet colours and gorgeous textures. A cream velvet background with miniature pale pink ribbon roses sewn all over it. Or a series of lovely turquoises and pale yellows sewn in stripes. Yum. Mine were orange, purple and scarlet, covered in gold beads and applique butterflies, silk flower and feathers. We’ve also spent a winter making crazy handbags and shopping bags, which is ridiculously easy and wonderfully cheap.  They also make great gifts.

We get our materials from charity shops, picking up clothes to de-construct. Occasionally we venture off piste into our local haberdashery store for offcuts of luxury fabric. I cannibalise my wardrobe too, cutting up unwanted clothes when the fabric is far too fab to recycle into rags. Then we meet up once a month to go shopping for more stuff and show off our creations.

The ‘shabby chic’ Zeitgeist

Granny Moll, who died a couple of years ago, made her rag rugs from strips of fabric. Aunt Sylve recycled old clothes and curtains to create her patchwork masterpieces. I like their style – it fits right in with the shabby chic / make do and mend Zeitgeist.

I feel a patchwork throw coming upon me this winter. No clue where to start, I’ve never done it, but there’s plenty of information online. The Americans are hot on crafts so do an international Google search for the best results.

Your winter hobby tips?

What about you? Let us know what you’ll be making this winter.