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'Toy Treehouse' by Anne Verghese of Burton Joyce U3A

'Toy Treehouse' by Anne Verghese of Burton Joyce U3A

At the beginning of the pandemic we had just moved many miles from home in order to be able to look after our youngest granddaughter. Our friends were a long way away, we hadn't had a chance to meet new people up here and all of a sudden we were useless to our daughter. We had joined the local U3A but our walking groups were cancelled. U3A Keeping in Touch was a lifeline.

I have two young granddaughters (cousins, not sisters) and decided to make something that they could both enjoy. One loves fairies, the other loves animals, so I decided to make something a bit different that they would both enjoy when, and if, they can finally come to visit.
We already have a dolls house, so I started to research tree houses and ended up with this. It sort of evolved as I was making it and ended up much bigger than I had first planned! It has stairs and ramps and a ladder at the back, so now my husband has made a base with castors (with brakes) so that it can be pulled out and turned for play.

It is made out of Amazon boxes, cooking foil, paper towel and PVA glue. I found the technique on Youtube but adapted it a bit as I'm all for quick results! It's very messy but satisfying and occupied me for several weeks during the first stage of lockdown.

My husband made the little beds, which I painted, and I trawled Facebook Marketplace for the rest of the furniture and the animals. I couldn't find any owls the right size, so then sent for a Needle Felting kit and learned how to make the owls you see on the top. (They have a special ledge to sit on around the back)

I now need a fairy family. Does anyone out there make fairies?

'Still Life' by Androula Joannou of Palmers Green & Southgate U3A

'Still Life' by Androula Joannou of Palmers Green & Southgate U3A

I was inspired by a short film on the National Gallery website to make some photo "still lifes" using objects found around the house. Here is a photo of my favourite.

If anyone wants to have a go, the National Gallery film with suggestions of how to go about it is at www.nationalgallery.org.uk/stories/make-and-create-construct-a-still-life

'Tea cosies' by Ann Moody of Flintshire U3A

'Tea cosies' by Ann Moody of Flintshire U3A

The ‘Corona Cosy’ saga resulted from a somewhat nostalgic conversation I had with a friend at the beginning of lockdown. Our chat was peppered with references to, among other things, liberty bodices, beef-dripping on toast, knitted swimming costumes (very scratchy) and tea cosies. My friend mourned the disappearance of the tea cosy, so, despite the fact that I hadn’t knitted for years, I resurrected my stash of yarn and knitting needles from the loft and made her one. The project snowballed from there to the point where at least seven pots of tea are being kept warm in Flintshire. I no longer have the pattern but memory obviously served me well. 

'Trauma Teddies' by Lesley Johnson of Saltburn District U3A

'Trauma Teddies' by Lesley Johnson of Saltburn District U3A

These are Trauma Teddies that I have been knitting during lockdown. I put them in my window along with an NHS rainbow that my five-year-old grandson made. To date I have knitted ten including one for him. I just like to knit them of an evening while watching television. The pattern is on the internet.

'Planters ladder' by Shirley Hammond Marple Bridge & Mellor U3A

'Planters ladder' by Shirley Hammond Marple Bridge & Mellor U3A

Two ladders are better than one!

In February we bought a new pair of step ladders but as usual, we never got round to throwing out the old set, which were rather wonky. During lockdown we have been trying to clear out lots of items that have passed their “sell-by date”. One of these was the old set of ladders. But, where do we put them? All the tips were shut!

David had a brilliant idea. We could use them to display some planters in the garden. They were rather tall, so we sawed them in half. Cutting through both the steps at the front and the support at the back. The top half was fine as it was hinged together and we found a way to hinge the bottom 2 pieces together so they would open and close as a normal stepladder.

We then realised that the individual steps were too narrow to balance a planter. An old bookcase provided the perfect answer. The shelves were cut to size and then screwed on each step. Just right to balance a variety of planters and garden ornaments. They now look delightful adding height and colour to our garden display.

Now David had the bug! We’d bought a new polythene greenhouse. What do we do with the old frame? It can’t just be thrown out! His trusty saw came back into use along with his Heath Robinson mind. We now have a beautiful 3 tier display stand for some more planters.

'Bracelet' by Emma Lee of Settle District U3A

'Bracelet' by Emma Lee of Settle District U3A

I’ve been making bracelets and Keyrings. I’ve made quite a few. So here is one of the bracelets I’ve made. It’s made with lots and lots of tiny little knots.

'Apron' by Fiona Lean of Chorleywood U3A

'Apron' by Fiona Lean of Chorleywood U3A

Don't throw away those old jeans!

Here's a picture of an apron I made from the seat of my pants!

The shape is there, the pockets are there, the waistband is there.

All you have to do is extend the waistband with pieces from the discarded legs, and add a contrasting binding to the edges of the apron.

'Sun hat' by Kathryn Houghton of Newark & District U3A

'Sun hat' by Kathryn Houghton of Newark & District U3A

Reversible child sun bucket hat. Used a pattern from the web, there are lots to choose from. Cut the inside of the sewn brim with sheering scissors to make it easier to get a sharp bend.

'Plarn Bag' by Ros Mitton of St Albans U3A

'Plarn Bag' by Ros Mitton of St Albans U3A

I read about using plastic bags for yarn - ‘plarn’ - years ago and saved some plastic carrier bags in case I wanted to try it one day. (Since then it’s been possible to re-cycle plastic carrier bags). In lockdown I got them out, read how to cut them up for plarn, re-learnt some crochet stitches and made this bag as an experiment. (It was an amalgam of patterns from YouTube videos, using a half double crochet stitch). Its been perfect for something to do with my hands while I’m watching tv in the evenings. I’ll try making another to experiment with a different width of cut strip, larger size crochet hook and a different crochet stitch. There are plenty of YouTube videos that demonstrate making plarn and making bags with it.

'Rag Rug' by Ruth Robinson of Palmers Green & Southgate U3A

'Rag Rug' by Ruth Robinson of Palmers Green & Southgate U3A

A small rag rug wall-hanging (or possibly cushion cover) made by hooking cut strips of coloured T-shirts onto a woven base fabric which looks like hessian but is finer.

After hooking, the loops are sheared to give a pile-like look and I find that this helps to blend the colours.
I don't usually do abstract designs, preferring people or nature as subjects, but experimented with torn coloured paper from magazines to make a collage and worked from that.

If you're trying to work out a design for a rag rug, then collage is a really good way to start, especially if you find the idea of drawing or painting a bit daunting. Collage has a very liberating effect as it's not too precise - you can play around with the colours and shapes, and you can always add some extra detail later once you've decided on your basic design.

'Keyring' by Emma Lee of Settle District U3A

'Keyring' by Emma Lee of Settle District U3A

Here is a keyring I made for my friend’s 13 years old son’s birthday. It is made with thousands of tiny knots

'Bike bag' by Marion Ridsdill of Castle Bromwich U3A

'Bike bag' by Marion Ridsdill of Castle Bromwich U3A

My son needed a bike bag for his sleeping bag that fitted between the handles of the bike. He specified that the bag didn't move around or touch his hands when he is cycling. I used an old waterproof jacket to make the bag using the elastic and catch from the hood to close it. I gave it more strength by adding straps that go all around the bag securing them with velcro. He's very pleased with it.