Thursday, 20 August 2009

Summer Speed

Can't believe it's been a few months since the last blog post - I seem to have got caught up in a house move, a leaking roof, trying to gain some inroads into overgrown garden borders, holidaying in the rain, and wishing all my tomatoes would ripen before autumn heads this way.

Seemed to manage to coordinate the absurdities of the UK summer weather when we took our family holiday by dodging showers in the Castle, ensconcing ourselves in the Butterfly Sanctuary when buckets of rain were non-stop and lazing on the beach (after battling with the worse-for-wear beach shelter - who says the tent poles needed that elastic cord) when the sun deemed to pay us a visit.

Oh and the ice-cream helped.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Boxing Clever

No crafting for me lately - house move in 2 days time and everything is currently residing in a cardboard box of one size or another.

Luckily one member of the household seem to enjoy the addition of a stack of boxes - tower block apartment with a view anyone?

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

If You Go Down To The Woods Today.....

Remember to tip-toe quietly - for this is where the fairies live of their little tree houses with their little wooden doors...

....and their little staircases....

...but I don't think anyone's home today...

You never know what delights you will find in the forest. Over the Bank Holiday weekend we had an afternoon picnic - yummy food, sitting on green grass, meeting up with family, children having fun, - followed by the discovery of the secret fairy houses. Perfect!

(we picnicked at Cannock Chase - follow the sculpture trail through Birches Valley and you will find the fairy houses!)

Monday, 27 April 2009

Buttons And Gadgets

One of my favourite things when crafting and creating is spending an excessive amount of time sifting through one of my many vintage button boxes to find the exact button that will marry perfectly with whatever fabric I happen to be using at the time. And when I was making a few gadget/mobile phone/iPod cases I found myself whiling many a minute away selecting the perfectly perfect button.

Here are the combinations I came up with:

Love this big brown button!

A starry affair livened up with a splash of pink wool

Butterscotch button and tweed.

Must start to put these in my folksy and etsy shops too - that's after I've spent another inordinate amount of time thinking up names for them!

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Grey Flowers Looking Bright

Another of my fabric finds has been transformed into one of my clutch bags, which I've been meaning to put online for a few weeks now and finally got round to it today. On 1st description - "grey flowers, yellowish background" you could be excused for not thinking this fabric was too cheerful, but when you see how the sweet carnation-like grey flowers sit amongst little white flowers, you realise this is one sweet unique design. I like the background colour too, whether that's because I'm drawn to things that evoke memories of other eras (70's maybe?) I'm not sure, but I think it works well.

I've popped this bag into my folksy shop and called it the Grey Carnation Clutch Bag.

Now to photograph 8 ipod covers and 10 brooches......

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Simple Pleasures

The sun has shone, we're browsing camping magazines and starting to feel a little light-hearted, and a copious amount of chocolate Easter eggs have been eaten. And on a day of intense cocoa bean consumption the question of "what would you like for tea" was answered with the most simple meal of all. Beans. And Cheese. In A Bowl.


Monday, 13 April 2009

An Itch To Stitch

Its a strange time at the moment - caught between selling and buying a house, things in boxes, things not in boxes, life in limbo. I felt I needed to distract myself from scouring the web for sites such as "how to move house in 10 easy steps" or for waiting to accost the postman each morning for any letter that might speed up the process.

So I had to find a way to "step away, nothing to see here" and embroidery was that way. Last year I was given some of Jenny Hart's Sublime Stitching books and kits and it didn't take me long to get back into the swing of a little gentle sewing. Embroidery is therapeutic, I curl up on my red chair, feet tucked beneath me, sink back into the cushions, thread a needle and sew sew sew. There is something about the order of sewing, the rhythm, that slows your breathing and thoughts down into a calmness that is so needed right now.

This is the work in progress:

If you're new to embroidery, the Jenny Hart books are excellent - they include a load of transfer patterns that you just iron onto your fabric (I love using linen and linen-type materials). The instructions for the stitches are also very well written - even the French knot can be mastered with ease!

You can find her books on Amazon, but the Sublime Stitching website has a wealth of other patterns and kits too.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Stalls, Snips and Trips

Its been a busy old week - started off with the handm@de craft fair in Cambridge, which was great fun - so nice to meet up with some of the lovely crafty folk I'd met last year at Oxford - amongst them paperleaf, quercus silver, pennydog, twinklyspangle - and also to discover some other great handmade delights - such as the lovely Fabric Nation, Made by Kate, and Hannahchan.

This is my stall - apologies for the poor quality photo, but there are lots more images of the fair on the handm@de flickr page.

Meanwhile over in the "its the half -term holiday and I am a child what can I do now" world, what happens when you get a boy of 7, a pair of scissors, a bathroom mirror and an active imagination? This is the fringe result of that combination. Not sure about the boy's new look myself.

There was nothing else to do but head out of the door in an attempt to channel that energy elsewhere.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Handm@de Cambridge Panic

Eek only 2 days til the Handm@de Cambridge Craft Fair and yes, panic has set in. The fair comes hot on the heels of other hectic life stuff - selling house, new job, usual mundane life events that may have contributed to a recent bout of insomnia and strange 3 am thoughts about wardrobes and crochet.

Needless to say the last few days have been a whirlwind of crochet hooks and wool and sewing and making labels and hunting for a tablecloth (still unseen - must delve deeper into the back of the airing cupboard).

The Handm@de Cambridge craft fair will be held on April 4th 2009 at the Guildhall from 11am to 5pm - more info can be found on the blog here.

So if you've go nothing planned on Saturday do come along, loads of hand crated goodness, and also the chance of picking up a free goodie bag if you're one of the first 200 people to come to the fair on Saturday - see you then!

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Creating Corsages

I love crocheting flower brooches and corsages, and up until recently I'd been making them mainly in one colour, sometimes felting them, sometimes adding a contrasting colour button. Recently I've been inspired by the ever growing collection of coloured balls of wool that lie at my feet each evening to create some multi-coloured ones.

This one is quite chic I think - classic white and slate grey - both fine wools which create a delicate looking flower.

When the light is a bit brighter here I shall take some photos of the more vivid colour combinations I'm coming up with (imagine purples and vivid greens and bight reds and that'll give you some idea!)

Friday, 13 March 2009

Red Nose Day and Crafteroo

Crafter..oo is a wonderful UK based craft forum, and this year members have been donating lovely hand crafted items to the Crafter..oo shop over at Folksy, in order to raise funds for Comic Relief.

There are some great items, and so far over £450 has been raised - I snapped up some great buttons from hollingdale designs, and there are plenty more delights on sale:

Lovely lavender rice bag by meridian

Bright sunshine stripe pendant by Blue Fairy

And these delicate pink flower earrings by miabelle

I donated one of my flower corsages which was bought this morning (thank you!)

So please call into the crafteroo/folksy shop, buy something lovely and handmade and raise money for Comic Relief!

Friday, 6 March 2009

iPod Attire and Random Notes

Only a few weeks til the Handm@de Cambridge craft fair (April 4th - come along!) hence the sudden panic of "eek have I got enough stock!"

Had a successful sewing day this week and made 5 more iPod Touch covers:

They were all intended for the craft fair but I couldn't resist adding one to my folksy and etsy shops.

Meanwhile back in home hazard land:
Anyone with a small person or 4 legged being will know the frequency that cups and mugs somehow manage to splurt their contents all over floors, tables and chairs - generally accompanied by a cry of "It wasn't me!".

In our house a shout goes out of "spillage of the day!" each time this occurs. Usually on a daily basis. This week the floor was drenched in a cupful of water (these cups do like throw themselves around) and my youngest decided to write a sign to ensure no-one would walk on the offending spot.

" "Don't Walk Here" is what I am going to write" stated the child and proceeded to write the sign and celotape it to a nearby chair. Here is said sign:

I think that sums things up nicely.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Mad Men - This I Love

How did I miss this fantastic series when it 1st aired? How could such a wonderful array of clothes and hair and cigarettes and high heels pass me by? Yes I have just discovered the brilliance of Mad Men (thank you M for lending me the DVD!)

loving the buttons on this:

And this is one delectable sofa - not to mention the wall art:

I am now getting an urge to source vintage shops for just the right sort of dress - patterned fabric, clinched waist, buttons - though retraining myself to walk in stilettos may be something of an issue...

Thursday, 19 February 2009

More Buttons?

Oh yes I'm afraid so - another batch of vintage buttons has arrived in the cloudhopping household.

Where they will live remains an uncertainty due to my already bulging button boxes (all 6 of them) who cry out "no room at the inn!" each time I arrive home rattling little bags and boxes full of button delights.

So button sorting awaits, a strangely therapeutic task, and I promise not to buy any more buttons for at least...erm...a week?

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

A Hair Curling Day

Youngest sat in the hairdressers and pointed to one of the large, glossy images hanging on the wall.

"I want my hair like that" she whispered to me.

The picture showed a mass of long wavy locks. Long hair - no problem. Curls - oops. Daughter has the sleekest straightest hair ever. And is obviously too young to venture into hair perming.

Kind hairdresser didn't flinch and offered to put waves in using one of her heated implements, and little one was delighted. And the result and her smile was a lump in the throat moment.

Curls glorious curls - for one day only - and worth every penny to see her skip through the town, checking her hair every 5 minutes just to see if they were still there, and breaking into a delighted grin to find they were still there.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Hip Hugging With Belts

Inspired by the large amount of vintage buckles I seem to be accumulating, I decided to start some belt making in order to give at least a few of the buckles a new path in life.

I love knitted wool belts, there's something rustic and textural about them, and I used a pure black wool for these two belts:

Both belts are hand knitted, and both the red and black buckles are vintage too. I've made them long enough to drape around hips too - I think belts look great just slung casually around your hips. These two belts are for sale in my etsy shop, but with the ever growing buckle collection I sense more will be on their way.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Sorting Out The Stash

It was a combination of a few things that prompted me to have a fabric tidy up - new fabrics were waiting to gain entry into the fabric cupboard, and I had a few recent requests to make custom gadget covers so needed a way to show the fabric choices I have.

So today was fabric sort out day - I emptied the cupboard, grouped them into sets, photographed them, then uploaded them onto my flickr page (under the photo set "fabric catalogue"). Also along the way I discovered how to create a photo mosaic so you can see all my little fabric groups on one photo:

This isn't all my fabrics either I have to admit - I haven't included the plain fabrics or the small little pieces I collect - but sorting them out will have to wait til another day!

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

I Am Not Allowed To Buy Fabric Anymore

I have a cupboard that is very very full. Very very full of fabrics. Lots of them. Plain fabrics, patterned fabrics, vintage fabrics, tartan fabrics....I could go on. And every time I pop into a store that sells anything of a material variety I just have to buy the odd metre of something adorable that I must have.

So I imposed a ban upon myself - no more buying fabrics until I've at least used a small portion of the cupboard (yes, bags and gadget covers are queuing up waiting to be stitched into shape).

But then today I just happened to be walking past my favourite fabric shop (OK so maybe there was a small detour involved). And true to my word I did not buy one scrap of fabric - instead I stumbled on a lovely collection of these cotton trims.

I'm not normally a lace sort of a person but I couldn't resist these - all cotton loveliness. I really liked the one in the middle too which is a great shade of chocolate brown. I have a few ideas of what to do with them - something that will involve wool and crochet too - that will hopefully come into fruition this weekend.

Which also goes to show I can resist fabric (at least when there is something else to distract me anyway....)

Monday, 2 February 2009

Buckle Up

I have been shopping again. Not your usual jaunt down to the supermarket to stock up on teabags and muesli, but a foray into the world of vintage buckles.

Over the past week little parcels full of buckles have been arriving, and I'm really pleased with some of the colours, shapes, patterns and general cute buckleness of them.

This latest obsession of mine started off with a fondness for buttons, which somehow has expanded into buckles...where next I wonder?

I've used some of the buckles for some wool belts which I've put in my Etsy shop, I'm also working on a way of adding them to my clutch bags - I'll post pics here when I come up with a good design.
Meanwhile I have vintage shops to scour....

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

That 70's Vibe Again...

As a child of the 70's I seem to be inextricably drawn towards fabric prints that take me back to that era - I view them through my nostalgia tinted glasses and exclaim "how wonderful!" whist others may tut "oh how not very modern".

On one of my recent forays into a fabric shop I stumbled across this wonderful yellow fabric that was printed with strange brown and grey birds - the images reminded me of a chopping board I'm sure my mum used to have (she'll have to correct me on that one if my memory is mistaken!)

And so my Retro Bird Clutch Bag was born - I added a hand crocheted band of wool, a brown vintage button and hey presto, this is the finished result:

I added the bag to my Etsy shop yesterday, but this wasn't the only 70's style fabric I found on my travels - more retro bags will be on their way!

Friday, 23 January 2009

Herringbone Happiness

My lovely Aunt recently sent me some fabrics, left over from her previous cape making business. Amongst them were some adorable pieces of herringbone, in shades of grey, as well as some fantastic tartans. Some of the off-cuts are too small to make a bag out of, so I wondered how they would look made into an iPod/phone sleeve, and this is the result:

I added a pink crocheted band of wool and a vintage button to close it - I'm really fond of this grey/pink colour combo, I think it manages to be chic and cheerful at the same time.
This one I've popped in my folksy shop - I'll be working on the tartan ones next!

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Obsessions, obsessions...

So by chance I happened to spot some Japanese crochet books while browsing the internet one day - can't remember quite how I stumbled across them but these things are easily done if you have a few aimless hours on-line. (I think I may have been avoiding filling in the tax return for yet another day).

And what can I say - I was hooked (do you get it - crochet - hooked.....ok I'll stop now).

If you haven't seen any Japanese craft books you really must take a look, the styling, the photography, its all stunning and inspirational. After a day or two just looking at them on-line I decided I must have one of these books, so visited, where there is a wealth of choice - craft books for everything. I thought I'd start off with a book that is full of crochet stitches 1st, before trying to understand a full pattern, as the books are (obviously!) in Japanese but all the stitches are detailed in chart form - lots of symbols and things!

This is the book I ordered - 300 crochet patterns - and some of the stitches look totally delicious.

This link here should take you to a page where you can see the inside of the book too so you can get an idea of what to expect.

Ordering from yesasia was pretty easy too, although at first I found it a bit tricky trying to find the crochet section (is it hobby, lifestyle or arts?). In the end I used the search facility which brought up about 3 pages of lovely looking books, so no doubt I'll be shopping there again soon.

I have successfully managed to make some tiny little crochet circles from one of the patterns (ok, I cheated a bit because I did know how to do crochet circles already but I wanted to be sure I could do them following the chart in the book.) Now I'm ready to tackle more adventurous stitches - pictures will be posted here!

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Knitted Bangle Turorial

Knitted bangles are a great way of combining wool and plastic bangles - charity shops usually have some bangle bargains or check out the sales in any of the accessory shops.

Firstly gather your ingredients - bangle, wool and knitting needles.

(I used 4.5mm needles and a pure double knitting wool, but select whatever needles suit the wool you are using)

Then measure your bangle

and cast on the amount of stitches that will stretch to the same measurement
(my bangle was 10" and I cast on 35 stitches, so that the wool would sit very tight around the bangle)

Then knit away! Use whatever stitch you like (I've used stocking stitch here, knit one row, purl a row etc, but have also used ribbing, seed stitch - they all look good!) Knit until your piece will wrap around the bangle - either stretch it around whilst still on the needle or measure the bangle and knit your piece to match.

Cast off once you get to the right size - don't worry if your piece is curled at the edges, you can block it to flatten it out (see here for blocking techniques).I knitted 8 rows for my bangle.

Now for the sewing! Wrap your knitted piece around the bangle and sew up the seams - once you've finished sewing the wool piece will be able to be swivelled, so you can move the seams so that they sit inside the bangle.

And voila! Your bangle is done!

And you can also keep redoing them - bored of the colour? Simply snip off the wool and knit another colour. And a quick handwash keeps them fresh too.