Thursday, 29 August 2013

Positive Etsy Feedback

It's not often you get extensive feedback from your Etsy sales. Usually you just get a rating on the (now soon-to-be defunct*) feedback system on the site of either positive, negative or neutral. I was delighted when one of my customers who I worked with on a custom order in March of this year got back to me on the site to send me a photo of what she had made and to thank me.

She said:

"It's been a while but I wanted to get in touch with you to show you what I've done with all those lovely little letters... I just finished a summer teaching program (baby sign language, the letters were my "vocab words") and my colourful words just looked super cute, I was so pleased with them. I'll attach a pic so you can see what I did with them.

Also, some fellow instructors have asked where I got them from, so I'll pass along your Etsy link. Thanks again, all the best in your creative endeavours! Nicole"

*You can read more about the new five star Etsy rating system here on Everything Etsy : )

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Book Review: Crochet Step by Step by Sally Harding

I have an almost finished object! Just a few knots to hide cleverly within a bag:

This was such an easy crochet project to do - it really switched me off which was good for the past fortnight or so - as I wrote about in my previous post. I've had three interviews in the last two weeks too, one of which finally resulted in a good temping role very close to my house, so I'm chuffed! And I have a new grocery bag : )

I undid an octopus I had knitted about five years ago. I knitted it from Rowan Handknit Cotton and shoved it into the cupboard when it didn't work. The eight legs put me off unwinding the yarn to reuse it but recently I was in a tense annoyed mood and relished the prospect of pulling something apart. Luckily it unwound well albeit with quite a few knots (I need to weave these in). The bag looks exactly like the one in the photo and is from this book:

This is an introductory textbook on crochet but it includes twenty projects which are crocheted with a mixture of affordable and middle-of-the-range yarn. They're all really cute and worth making. There are two blankets, two cushions, a basket (which is lilac and I made for my room - you can see it here), two bags, a bookmark, two toys, a baby cardigan, baby booties, an adult waistcoat, an adult shawl, two scarves, wrist warmers and three hats.

There are also lots of patterns as you go through the book before the projects at the back to help you learn about crochet. There are flower patterns, edgings and a good guide to different crochet stitches. I got this book out of the library and have enjoyed my time with it immensely. I always find DK books really well laid out and easy to understand. I had a few of them when a child.

You can buy it here or grab it from your local library, like me : )

Monday, 19 August 2013

Facing fear with a pair of knitted socks

Apologies if you have been waiting with baited breath for me to blog. I am slow at the moment due to really needing to find a job and doing much more than I need to to accomplish this, as well as running my Etsy shop. I noticed a lot of my listings needed renewing in my Etsy shop about ten days ago, three days before going to the dentist for an operation, so I naively re-listed them forgetting that a lot of my sales come from custom orders and conversations which of course need someone to answer them.

So just as I was preparing to have two impacted wisdom teeth out under sedation I suddenly had lots of enquiries in my shop to deal with which wasn't perhaps the best timing. I coped however, and completed all my orders. I was very worried about my operation and had cancelled twice, once due to it clashing with the local elections and secondly due to having to attend an interview instead. About a week after I cancelled the last time everything suddenly flared up in my mouth and I gained a nasty gum infection, a vile taste in my mouth and intense pain. The last two weeks before the procedure were unbearable but I knew it would be hard to re-arrange as I had asked to be sedated and this only happens on Mondays in a special clinic.

I had to really fight for sedation as my dentist had initially recommended a general anesthetic but I am allergic to penicillin and get very sick after a general and the dental access centre (a kind of halfway house) seemed to think I would be OK on a local. I was quite honest as I was initially told to have my two wisdom teeth out at the age of 24, eight years ago, and had avoided it all that time due to fear. I said I would not be able to attend the operation if they didn't help me in some way so they finally caved in and agreed to sedate me. It was weird when I had the procedure as I became semi-conscious at 1.40 and regained full consciousness at 2.15. I woke up not remembering a thing. I initially thought they hadn't managed to sedate me and they were going to have to put me out again. While that helped, it did feel a little bewildering.

Anyway to cut a long story short, knitting and crochet has really kept me sane this week. I wasn't in that much pain at all after the teeth were removed - in fact I instantly felt a lot better as the infection seemed to clear up straight away. My mouth is a lot less tense and I'm noticing my mouth feels relaxed in the morning, when usually they have felt sore after tooth grinding due to a very tense mouth with too many teeth in it.

The moral of my story is if you have fear you need to go and sort the fear before you can sort the thing you're afraid of. Trying to face it alone without talking to someone who understands or pretending you're not scared then cancelling the appointments should not be an option.

My next fear? Knitting in the round so I can knit a proper pair of Malabrigo socks : )

Monday, 5 August 2013

Book Review: Blissful Beginnings - Embroidered Blankets to Cherish

'Blissful Beginnings' is a stunning book of beautiful embroidered blankets for newborn babies and children originally published in Australia last year.

What makes this book so sumptuous is the quality of the photos, the paper and the full size pattern sheets at the back as well as the beauty of the blankets.

There are nine large pages of general instructions for beginners and intermediate embroiders such as preparing the fabric and thread, using a hoop, finishing your embroidery and a full colour glossary guide to 31 stitches.

There are six pages of general advice which apply to all the blankets in the book which are clear and easy to follow. There are seven blankets in total with three extra projects including 'blocks' which tie-in with one of them.

One of the issues which used to put me off free-form embroidery was wondering how to get the illustration onto the fabric. This book has many ingenious solutions - pin the paper onto the blanket and stitch in white cotton around the edges of the design to guide you is just one. Then you just put it in a hoop and fill in the outline with embroidery stitches as guided.

The threads are clearly labelled at the start of the project alphabetically and full colour photographs guide you carefully through the blanket project.

I really love the designs in this book - I think they are timeless classics and will impress hugely as a gift for a new arrival. If you are new to embroidery you will need to really want to stitch the blankets but you will soon feel encouraged and safe with this glossy well thought-out book. You will treasure the book as much as the child will their blanket.

'Blissful Beginnings' is published in the UK by Search Press and is available to buy from its website.

Thanks to Search Press for sending me this beautiful book to review.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Taunton Flower Show 2013

Apologies for not posting for nearly two weeks. I have been busy the last week but I finished all my work at lunchtime on Friday and sauntered down to the Taunton Flower Show. This is my local annual craft/flower show, and since 2009, I have attended every year. This year I had a set amount to spend which was slightly above previous years and have spent my pennies wisely.

This is so beautiful I couldn't do it justice with my old camera. It looks slightly gold in the picture but it's a bright silver. Anyone who follows me on Twitter will know I absolutely adore dragonflies. Some blue dragonflies live on the Taunton to Bridgwater canal, and when it's sunny, float in abundance on the top of the water. When I saw this necklace in the craft marquee I bought it instantly - so unlike me. It's a one off piece made by Beth Philpot who sells at Dancing Dragonflies which contains some stunning jewellery.

I'm always so in awe of handmade jewellery makers. I have tried to make jewellery about three times in my life and have found I haven't the patience for beads or wire. One necklace I made myself consequently fell apart, luckily when I wasn't wearing it, and I have never tried again. I think even if you make yourself there is always some craft you wouldn't want to do or have the patience for, and of course your admiration is above any non-crafters who have never experienced the sometimes arduous process.

I will save my necklace for a special occasion. I'm not sure what that will be at the moment, but I'll look forward to wearing this when it comes.
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