Not long after I had finished the second of the sweat lodge tea cosies, which I showed you on Friday, I again was asked to make something that was a little outside my comfort zone. It was another structure but this time, at least, I did actually know what it was. I was asked to make a lighthouse tea cosy. For the third time I was taken aback (you would think I might have gotten used to strange requests by now). I considered it for a moment and then said yes, I had grown in confidence since doing the other commissions and this was to be my new challenge.
(Let me also note that the person I was asked to make this for is extremely dear to me and I probably would have given the Taj Mahal a go if it had been requested.)
I very luckily had spotted a tea pot when out shopping that might fit the shape of a lighthouse very well. It was cylindrical and tall. It was wider at the bottom then it was at the top and on its own, it was a very handsome tea pot. I bought this tea pot as the first task so I could build the structure around it,
I decided that rather than just make the lighthouse on its own, I would try to give it some context. I wanted to situate it in its environment. So I designed three layers; the lighthouse itself, the rock it would sit on and finally, the sea all around it.
I started with natural looking wool for the rock. I knit it in a garter stitch to make it look textured and rough. When I moved on to the lighthouse I switched to a stocking stitch, which is smother and flatter by comparison, to create a contrast to the rock. I knit the part of the structure that holds the light separately and attached it after the main body was complete and secure.
The real fun of making this piece was all the extra details I was able to put on it. Adding the decoration is my favourite part. I love thinking up ways to make each piece as individual as the person I am making it for.
I made a felt sea that I encrusted with seed beads to represent the spray. I sewed it on in layers; I wanted it to look like those waves they create for stage productions, where there are people on either side of the stage moving them back and forth to create the undulating water. I made a tiny boat to sit in the water. Hopefully the lighthouse is guiding it to port or to safe waters.
I made small windows and a door. I decided I would go traditional nautical and accent the navy and white stripes with red. I made a platform up on top with a red railing going around it. I used beads and wire to construct it. I used two large yellow buttons to create the light, the most important detail of all! I also made a bird to perch up on top of the light house. When he was finished I thought he looked like a bit of a mythical creature. I see him as the guardian of the place, who keeps a look out for trouble.
In the end, it turned out that the thought of this project was much more challenging than the actual making of it. I was gratified to find I made it in good time and overcame any obstacles quite easily. If I had any advice to give about starting something similar where the thought of it is intimidating, I would say, just start. Just start and see where it takes you. I will always do small experiments at the beginning to figure out the more difficult parts and once you know where you are with the hard bits, the easy bits just flow (in my experience). Other than that, I would say, do what you know. You don’t have to learn a new stitch or a new technique in every project. If a concept is challenging, try to take it into some sort of familiar territory for yourself and once you are situated then you can afford to challenge yourself a bit further. Finally, if at all possible, try to enjoy the process. I had great fun making this piece. I loved it when it was finished (I secretly wanted to keep it for myself).
Alright then, that is all for today.
(I was starting to sound a bit like a primary school teacher)