Plarn, tarn, metal and embroidery by Julie Turner

This nest is made from crocheting some fine coloured jewellery wire. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy this fine wire was to crochet. I found that after each round of stitches I needed to manipulate the crochet by gently pulling on it to open out the stitches and give it the lacy look it has.


By increasing the stitches on each round a conical shape was created. I decided to include a delicate hanging loop to this nest.


This nest is knitted using plastic bags often called PLARN PL(astic) + y(ARN) =PLARN.


I found a method online to cut a continuous strip from the bags. By folding the bag and leaving a small area to one side you cut through the folded section then open out the bag and cut diagonally from the end of one cut to the next. This was surprisingly easy to knit I do think it was because the bags I chose were thin soft ones.


The resulting fabric is very soft too. The bag with the green writing on it was slightly stiffer and it holds its shape better. This nest will need to be stuffed to hold its shape whilst part of the display.


This nest is crocheted. The yarn for this nest is made out of tshirt fabric and is often called TARN, (T)shirt + y(ARN) = TARN. To begin with I chose some old tshirts to use. I have many saved as I sometimes make rugs from them. Once again you are not surprised!


I used the same method as above to create a continues length of yarn. I only used one Tshirt in the end and chose the one with the pops of bright colours in it. This crocheted up easily and will be something I try again. A sturdy, functional nest was produced.


The next nests incorporate hand embroidery but on very different materials. The first is an old bra whose shape lends itself perfectly to a nest or two! I recently attended an introduction to Indian embroidery workshop which was very interesting, colourful and sparkly. I used some of the techniques demonstrated there to complete these nests. Using brightly coloured stranded cottons, beads, bells and mirror pieces I was able to create two bright and cheerfully welcoming nests.


Another object which lends itself to a perfect nest is a household sieve. This sieve was rescued from a carboot sale. I doubt anyone would have bought it to use as it was rusty and had pieces missing in the mesh.


Using a thin darning needle and rainbow coloured acrylic yarn I hand embroidered tiny stitches to create a series of shapes on the mesh.


I like the look of this but I am not sure whether I will leave it as it is or cover more of the mesh with stitches.




Labels, leaves and love by Julie Turner


The materials for this nest were brought back half made from my recent holiday abroad. I used the individual leaves from a fallen palm tree. After taking the individual leaves from the plant I first split them down the centre of the leaf but left them joined at the bottom. Two of these split leaves were interlinked and then folded over each other to create a more solid base for the nest.


This technique reminded me of some recent shibori work I had done. Shibori is a Japanese technique for folding fabric using resists, folds and wrapping and then dyeing the fabric. In the western world we have tie dyeing which is similar. I brought back several of these folded leaves and have waited until recently to finish the nest as I was unsure how to complete it.

In the end I used sewing cotton to wrap tightly around the ends once they had been gathered together. This made them firm but flexible. Threading more cotton back and forth between the gathered strands enabled me to form the nest shape and created a hanging loop.


I have been gathering the plastic nets from wrapped fruit and vegetables from supermarkets purchases. These are usually red, orange and yellow tones and come in a variety of textures.


Firstly I cut off the labels. I cut slits in the wide parts and wove the long thinner parts through them to create a base. I left the ends long and tied them to create a hanging nest.


By cutting the plastic mesh parts into smaller pieces and layering them, I was able to intermingle the fibres which formed a compact sturdy nest shape. I was able to do this by using my embellishing machine.


By ensuring the more fabric-like mesh was on the top and bottom the 12 needles of the embellishing machine were able to interlink the fibres in the same way needle felting does with wool.


When both my son and daughter got married recently 2015 and 2016 I had asked for any spare fabric from their outfits and commissioned a local artisan friend to craft them each a memory bear from the fabric which included the names of the couple and wedding date sewn on the feet. I retained the small remaining pieces. I know you’re not surprised. I had no idea what I would do with it but this project gave me a reason to use some of it.


Using the small pieces I sewed them together to create a nest from each of the materials. Ivory coloured wedding gown fabric from my daughter and 100% wool from my son’s wedding suit.
I decided to cover them in ‘kisses’. I used a cross stitch to sew the pieces together. On the wool suiting I used a complimentary cotton thread in a different colour which allowed the ‘kisses’ to be seen. On the bridal gown fabric I chose a thread in the same colour so the ‘kisses’ can only be seen close up onto which I also included a lace detail from the dress.


On the wool nest I decided to leave the edges raw as I felt this rugged appearance complimented the tweedy style of the fabric. Whereas on the wedding dress nest I turned over the edge and sewed it on the inside so the edge has a smooth finished appearance which suits the elegance of the wedding dress more.


Pottery pieces and paper circles by Julie Turner

As you know from my last post about the electric fencing I have a horse. Where he is kept I have to walk over what was an area where the previous owners many years ago had tipped rubbish. Looking at the fields today you wouldn’t know as they are fully grassed over and look like the rest of the fields. But occasionally and usually after it’s been raining I find small pieces of broken pottery and glass which I always remove. I have been collection the pottery pieces and some bits of nice looking glass. You’re not surprised are you! Through this project I have found a use for some of them. First I soaked them in water and gave them a good clean.


I wanted to recreate my version of the Japanese art of Kintsugi also known as Kintsukuroi which is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. I decided to use some of the plainer pieces in this nest as I felt my method would brighten them up enough and I would save the more colourful and unusual pieces for other things I have planned. First I wrapped the individual pieces of pottery with some medium weight gold coloured wire.


Next I joined these wrapped pieces by threading thin gold coloured wire through the medium weight wire to pull it all together.



While I threaded the thin wire I used it to shape the carefully selected pieces so that they created a nest shape. This was quite fiddly to do but I hope you agree the result looks stunning.

The next nest was one inspired and made whilst on my holiday earlier this year. We visited the local zoo and I wanted to make a nest out of the colourful brochure.

First I tore the pages on the folds and then again down the centre of each piece which produced roughly square pieces. I rolled them corner to corner in a tight roll and then thought about how I wanted to proceed. Glue is often used to secure paper but I had none so thought about other options. I started to coil the rolls of paper carefully slotting the new one into the end of the previous one so they were securely joined. After I got a nice circle my next thought went to how to secure it. I decided to use thread as I had some readily available. Using a needle and thread I took the thread through the centre of the coiled circle and looped it around and under the circle and back through the centre. Doing this several times on each circle secured them well.

I made 5 circles and started to join them together. Attaching the 4 sides to the base with thread meant they just fell flat.


I sewed some thread between the upright circles hoping they would stay up but they fell inwards. Next I sewed the back of each circle to the base and this worked as it braced them as I pulled the threads tight.


Finally I wove in between the two lines of thread attaching each circle.


This isn’t the best looking nest but after all the effort I put into making a ‘nest’ shape I am including it in the final project.

‘Shocking’ nests by Julie Turner

I am using a mix of everyday materials and unusual ones to make my nests. The ‘shocking’ nests in this post were made from an everyday material to me but I am aware for most people it would not be something they encountered regularly and for some never in their life.  Well, now you are intrigued right?

What is this material I hear you say.  Electric fencing. That’s what it is. Why do I use it daily? You ask.


I have a horse his name is Harvey and Harvey is regularly moved around our fields. The electric fencing creates a great temporary barrier which enables us to cordon off any areas we want or don’t want him in. The fencing comes in a variety of different forms and styles. We have two different types of fencing one is like a tape which is also a more visible barrier too and a string type one. Both work exactly the same. They are made of plastic and have thin metal wire running through them which conducts the electricity provided by a 12volt battery.


I collected some used pieces of fencing from the shed and gave them a wash. When the tape is new it is a brilliant white colour and I wanted it to look used. I decided to weave the tape type first. Because it has wire in it I found it bent and kept its shape easily. I found it hard to start the weaving as I felt I needed more hands to hold all the ends. But with patience and perseverance I soon overcome the difficulty and went on to create a great little nest.


I decided to crochet the string style fencing. I was pleasantly surprised as it was quite easy to crochet. The most difficult part was that the string is made up of several narrow strings of plastic and wire which if I didn’t concentrate enough could be easily spread out and stop the crochet hook going through all of them and so messing up the crochet. These two styles of fencing are very easy to join and can be done so with a simple knot. As I was making these nests from already used pieces there was a knot in the string type one which I decided to leave in and work around. I think it makes a very nice design feature. What do you think?


Packaging and video tape by Julie Turner

As you know by now I have a tendency to collect potentially useful or arty things. This first nest came from one of these collections.

Parcel packaging comes in all sorts of forms. I know, I have a few in my collection including scrunched up brown paper (I flatten it for saving) polystyrene balls and shapes, different sorts and colours of shredded paper. I also have some shredded wood which is what this latest nest was made out of .


Firtsly I made a rough circle nest shape which I flattened slightly in the middle.


Then using a single strand of ordinary sewing thread I began sewing loops over the outside rim of the nest in the hope of making the nest .


I didnt know how this was going to look and had chosen a complimentary coloured thread to have a minimalistic look. The nest held together very well and I liked the look of the delicate stitching but wanted more of it. This was easily remedied by adding much more stitching.


I finally found a video tape in a charity shop which I could use for the next nest. I expected the tape to pull out easily from the video as the cassette recorder tape had, but it didn’t. This meant I had to take the video apart to access the tape. Once it was out it unwound easily and was ready to use.



I decided to hand knit the  tape. I chose medium sized needles and cast on 12 stitches. I knit garter stitch (all knit) for this nest. I increased 1 stitch at each end of alternate rows and continued in this way until I felt that I had enough knit material to make a nest.


Through the knitting I had noticed there was a hole where I had split the tape with the needles. I decided to carry on and leave the hole as it was.


I used the tape to sew up the seam as it would then be invisible. As the nest took shape I realised it was forming a conicle shape and decided to include a hanging loop within the structure for easy hanging. I like this nest and think that a larger version of this would make a nice wrist purse too.


Icecream and sauce by Julie Turner

I have been keeping objects which I feel would make good nests. Sometimes I have an idea for them and sometimes I don’t. I wait until the inspiration hits me. The latter was the case for these two nests.

I had collected a paper ice cream tub (the rum and raisin ice cream was delicious and also my favourite) and an unused paper sauce holder from McDonalds.

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Inspired by the idea of the old Spirograph toys I had as a child. I liked the way moving a pen from one point to another within a shape created a lacy look design. I wanted to create a similar effect by using thread.
First I made holes around the rims using a needle. The holes were a similar distance apart.
Using a metallic thread I did the small one first. I doubled the thread and managed to use two pieces of thread only which meant I only had to join the thread once. It worked well although a bit fiddly. For the second larger one I followed the same format to begin with, but quickly realised I was going to have a lot of ends to tie as the longer I made the threads the more tangled they got and I soon decided it was too difficult. I decided to use the thread single which meant I was able to have a longer thread without tangling and consequently less ends to join.

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This worked well and gives a wonderful lacy look to the design. I’m really pleased with how these turned out and I am glad I used the metallic thread.

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A holiday dilemma by Julie Turner



I have recently been on a family holiday to the gorgeous Canary Islands where I had the opportunity to find some different items waiting to be transformed into ‘nests’.
Being surrounded by tropical plants and palm trees their leaves were bound to feature highly.
On a trip to the Fuerteventura Island zoo I found some large fallen leaves which were firm and felt waxy. I took the leaves back to where we were staying and forgot about them!
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Luckily I had left them outside in the shade and so they hadn’t dried out too much but were turning brown by the time I got round to using them. To turn these leaves into a nest I first cut out a shape which in maths is called a net if I remember correctly. I then folded to create 4 sides and cut some thin strips from the leaves to use as laces.
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I pierced the sides with a needle and threaded the laces through them to fasten the sides together. The problem with this was that by the time I was threading the last side the thin strips were drying out and becoming brittle. I managed to finish it before the strips became unusable and was happy with how this turned out. I particularly like the way the longer edges curl, I had left these sides longer hoping they would curl like this.
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Another find was in the grounds of where we were staying. Whist wandering around admiring the cacti and palm trees I came across a little tucked away corner which housed the gardeners clippings and general tidying up/dead plant/leaves area. I had to have a peep in the top black bag. I was glad I did as there was treasure in there, well ok just nesting treasure for me.
I wandered around to see if I could locate which plant they had come from. I found it and the foliage/flower looked even better alive.
I decided to use the fallen, older pieces anyway as I didn’t want to be bringing back fresh pieces of plants. After all at this stage I hadn’t even thought about how I was going to get these delicate leaf ‘nests’ home. The long ‘tendrils’ of this tree leant themselves beautifully to weaving in and out of each other creating a rather open but still inviting ‘nest’.
It was as I was proudly showing my family the beautiful delicate plant ‘nests’ that someone said “Have you thought about how you’re going to get them home in one piece?” Oops no I hadn’t, but quick as a flash I said “I’ll buy a box to put them in and I’ll leave something out of my case if I can’t get it all in!” after all there was no way I was leaving these treasures behind.