Wednesday, 28 March 2012

More fairy knitting

I have very nearly finished my fairy! It's very exciting. There were lots of little knitted bits and bobs to sew together but I've finished it all apart from the facial features, ears and hair.

As you can see Big Ted is getting a bit over-excited at the prospect of having a female playmate. As soon as I had finished sewing he leant over and hugged her. He did, honest. Even without any make up, bald and without the ability to hear. Now that's love.

I will reveal the reason why I'm knitting a fairy when I finish her. Hopefully this weekend.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Free Moo Business Cards from Folksy

Folksy has teamed up with Moo to offer its sellers a free pack of 50 business cards.

I've only bought mini cards before so had to look for a new design I like.

I love the multi-coloured button design. It's a rainbow, it goes with the folksy logo and I sell many rainbow themed items here. How cool is that?

I've just cracked open my mini cards which I bought a couple of months ago. They go out with each and every etsy order in my handmade shop.

I still need to use up these old cards from my very first order with Moo a couple of years ago. My details changed so I had to print out my new details on a piece of paper to use them up.

Make sure you take advantage of the Folksy and Moo offer if you're new and don't have cards yet.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Cross stitch and knitted fairy

There has been lots of personal crafting going on recently:

I've been emptying the kilner jar of embroidery threads and rummaging around in my aida stash. Nothing fancy, just doodling really. I'll put it up when I've finished.

This is all the bits and pieces for a more secretive work in progress. It's a fairy but all will be revealed in a future blog post!

I've already sewn the fairy dress together since this was taken earlier this week. I've also sewn up the legs and arms. She just needs her head shaped, mouth and eyes sewn on and hair to decorate. She'll be ready for her close-up in a couple of weeks.

It's been gloriously sunny this week. I had a very rare day out to Bristol last saturday to Radio 4's 'More than words' festival. I went to the museum and art gallery where I admired what is left of the Banksy exhibition and the tapestry of Bristol. It was amazing to see all the stitching techniques - some of it had just been sort of sketched with thread. What looked like random (although I'm sure they weren't) long and short stitches to fill in the buildings looked amazing from afar and close up.

The 'how to listen' workshop with various Radio 4 producers was a copy of the training session they normally give to new journalists at the BBC and was very entertaining and useful. It's the first training session/workshop/lecture related to journalism I've been to since embarking on my NCTJ (distance learning) Diploma in Journalism and it was thoroughly inspiring. I hope they come back to Bristol again. We were told that approx 200 people had been on the waiting list for the workshop and couldn't get in so it was certainly popular.

Anyway, have a wonderful sunny weekend everyone.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Book Review: How Tea Cosies changed the world

'How tea cosies changed the world' is the new book by Loani Prior.

This book is a glimpse into Loani's world of madcap adventures with a teapot. Her tea cosies are such works of art they are displayed as such in galleries. They are sumptuous colourful luxurious creations of genius.

Her writing is truly entertaining and humorous. The introductions to the tea cosies made me laugh out loud several times. It's such a wonderful book.

The tea cosies are knitted in beautiful yarn on two circular needles. This is not such a complex technique and she directs you to YouTube for a tutorial if you haven't knitted this way before. I found plenty of instructions popped up when I searched for the technique. There are also seven pages of photo-instructions at the beginning of the book including methods of knitting in the round. There are large easy-to-follow graphs at the back of the book.

There are 19 tea cosies to knit, one coat for a teddy bear, a scarf, a beret, an egg cosy and a bag.

This cosy is dedicated to Princess Beatrice! How beautiful and how amazing to have a tea cosy named after you! Exciting indeed.

I was so amazed that someone had taken the humble tea cosy to this level. I think I had my mouth open in amazement even on my third journey through the book.

As crafters most of us have a passion for tea. Loani certainly understands this. She's even included a quote from William Gladstone to begin her book:

'If you are cold, tea will warm you. If you are too heated, it will cool you. If you are depressed, it will cheer you. If you are excited, it will calm you.'

You will definitely need a calming cup of tea when you open this book. The patterns and yarn are that exciting and fabulous.

Thanks to Murdoch Books for sending me this book to review.

You can keep up with the shennigans of Loani here on her blog the Queen of Tea Cosies. Her website is here.

You can pre-order the book here. It's out in May. Enjoy with a cup of cha.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Quick Handmade Mother's Day Card Tutorial

Here's a quick idea if you want to rustle up a mother's day card tomorrow in time for sunday:

Time needed: 2 hours

You will need:

An M and U letter in the size and font of your choice printed off from your computer
A blank card
Felting wool
Disappearing fabric marker pen (if using light coloured felt)
Tailors Chalk (if using dark felt)
A felting mat
A felting needle
Felted balls (optional)

1. Make sure your letters will space out right on your card. I flipped the 'M' over to the right to make sure.

2. You will need some felting wool in colours of your choice.

3. Pin your letters to some felt and cut out. You can use a disappearing marker pen which fades after 48 hours or, for dark coloured felt, tailors chalk which rubs away.

4. Pull off a strip of felting wool. Try to match the width and length of the strip you pull off to the length and width of the letter you are felting. This will avoid obvious joins in your felting work. Layer up the felt and stab it repeatedly into the letter. You can build up the felting wool to make as 3D a letter as you like. Bear in mind you will want to fit it into the envelope. Don't be afraid to go over the edges then trim back with scissors.

5. When you have finished the needle marks will still be evident. This tends to disappear as the felting wool settles after being stabbed. If it doesn't settle warm your fingers and smooth the wool with your hands.

6. You can now glue the felt letters to the card using craft glue.

7. You can add felted balls to the letters if you like.

I hope I've inspired you to whip up a quick mother's day card tomorrow if you have left it to the last minute to create! Please remember you can use this idea for personal use but don't copy for profit.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Book review: Wonderful Ways with Wax

I love this book by Jann Visser. It's full of bright colours.

This is an ecletic book which sits beautifully on the border between art and craft. With over 50 projects, full instructions and guides to the equipment you will need it's an excellent introduction to encaustic art. There's a rainbow of inspiration here which will inspire you to get melting!

For those not familiar with encaustic art it involves melting slabs of wax onto an iron and ironing it onto a wide variety of materials.

Some of the projects contain mixed media such as wood and tissue along with paper.

The project below involves moulding tissue after you have ironed the wax onto the paper. There would be no limit to what you could use to add to the picture in this way. The author discovered this medium after painting with oils and the principles are the same. You could add pretty much anything into the picture and get truly creative.

There are so many different ideas in here from abstract pictures to practical projects such as cards to make for christmas and mother's day. The landscapes in the book such as the seascape below are amazing.

There are templates at the back of the book and plenty of tips and hints as you go through. There wasn't a link to a website where you can get slabs of wax for encaustic art but Jann has put her email at the back of the book so you can ask her about equipment or materials.

Thanks to Search Press for sending me this book to review. You can buy this book here.

Sunday, 11 March 2012


I've been on Ravelry here for nearly three years.

I started there in the summer of 2009 just before I started my business.

I love the patterns on there. You can search by colour, by method, by yarn weight and whether you would like to buy or not. You can see who else has knitted a pattern you have. You can join one of hundreds of groups from those who like Doctor Who to those who listen to a podcast and want to chat about a particular episode they've just listened to.

As you can see above I have a list of patterns I have seen on the site and would like to knit or crochet. I have put them in a list of preference so I want to make the snood most of all, closely followed by this skirt pattern I found, published by Nikol Lohr on the Knitty blog in 2010.

I have fallen in love with this pattern. My favourite weight of yarn is aran so a thick luscious skirt knitted in this weight of wool is my idea of heaven. The colour is beautiful and I love the fact that she has given two different yarns, one £12, the other £5. (An average sized woman would need to spend between £15 to £36).

I'm seriously tempted by this and will make sure I pick up some balls of Lion Brand aran yarn in red when I pass a yarn shop this month. At least I know where it is forever thanks to Ravelry!

Follow me on Ravelry here.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Book Review: The Crafter's Guide to Taking Great Photos

'The Crafter's Guide to Taking Great Photos' by Heidi Adnum is a must-have addition for any online craft seller's bookcase.

Whether you take photos as an offline business producing PR to promote your handmade items or online where the photos take centre stage and can make or break a sale, this is definitely the book for you.

The book is split into sections so if you are completely new to photography and haven't even got a digital camera yet you won't feel overwhelmed. The first 25 pages of the book focus on basics such as making sure the item is in-between light and the camera, shutter speed, exposure, choosing a camera, getting to know it and the major camera modes, such as switching to 'macro' setting when you are less than a metre or so from your item.

The next 25 or so pages contain brilliant advice about the composition of photos such as backgrounds for your products and what options you have if you need a model or don't have a chic house worthy of 'Ideal home' magazine. All those questions you always wanted an answer to are in here.

Finally the 'getting started' section concludes with ideas for a homemade light box, flash diffuser and even a tripod, all of which won't cost more than a few quid.
The central part of the book focuses on different handmade items, such as fashion, bags, knitting, jewellery and art with specific tips on photographing each category. Each of these sub-sections concludes with an interview with a high profile practitioner and are very entertaining to read. They talk about how they got started, the mistakes they made and any tips they have.

Finally the third section of the book is about 'Finishing up & getting it out there'. This section is useful if you have photoshop or have already found and installed a free alternative. The only flaw in this section was the absence of a list of alternative applications to photoshop although the tutorials can obviously be relevant to others apps too. However, if you can't afford photoshop you would do well to buy this book and spend the money you do have on a good camera as you can reduce your reliance on alterations later on if you take the time to get the lighting right and have a good quality piece of kit.

Throughout the book there are photos to demonstrate various techniques and to generally illustrate it. There is a clear guide to the photographers at the back of the book and also a guide to the items featured and the websites of the sellers. I found this book worked on a number of different levels for me as a result. It wasn't just a guide to craft photography but also a kind-of magazine with interviews and also a gift guide with many luscious handmade items to look at with the websites to follow up on any items you like.

You can buy 'The Crafter's Guide to Taking Great Photos' by Heidi Adnum here.

Thank you to Search Press for sending me a copy to review.
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