craft, crochet, sewing, Uncategorized, vintage, yarn

New Products, New Ideas

I’ve had a lovely few days with Mum visiting, as I’ve been unwell and she has been visiting¬†to look after me. ¬†But also we’ve been practising my sewing skills, expanding my repertoire after having attended¬†a sewing class recently.

I had the idea to make a crocheted clutch bag, but wanted to know how to line it with fabric to get a professional finish.  Thankfully Mum has the skills to teach me!  This is the item in progress.  The first part after finishing the main crochet design, was to block it to size and measure up the fabric.

Finally I have managed to use my KnitPro blocking pins and mats and they were fabulous – well recommended (from Wool Warehouse with free shipping…) ¬†The yarn I used was Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran – it holds up very well and was a joy to work with.

We quickly decided that there needed to be some interfacing to stiffen the edges, otherwise it wouldn’t hold up too well. ¬†Eventually we settled on sew in interfacing which we measured to just under the size of the silk taffeta lining fabric.

And here is the finished article! ¬†I’m so happy with the outcome – finished off with a magnetic bag clasp and a vintage brooch.

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In fact, I love it so much I’ve even started on the next one already!

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cats, craft, crochet, knitting, music, Uncategorized, yarn

Top Ten Review of the Year

Well, another prolonged absence due to work – I’m not one for making New Year’s resolutions, but next year I will make more time to post on my blog as I have missed not being able to post so regularly.¬† Getting organised is half the battle I think…

This year has been an interesting one (in all senses of the word!) – a new addition to my family (OK, so he’s a kitten) and a rebranding of my blog and business as well as opening my Etsy Shop.

Add to that the most manic year of my (full-time) working life and major changes within my working structure – which are all still in a state of flux!

But in many ways a fantastic year, much love and laughter with friends and family, and finding a kindred spirit in crafting in my friend Anna (and her five-year-old Mikey who’s favourite phrase is now “let’s get crafting!”)

So here is my Top Ten Review of the Year on looking back through my blog, I do hope you enjoy it!

One – The arrival of Sir Patrick of Naughtiness

As an Astronomy geek, I managed to persuade Anna and Mikey to name their rescued kitten Professor Brian (Cox) after everyone’s favourite physicist and ex-popstar.¬† I was amazed they went with it…

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I was even more amazed that I ended up rescuing his brother, whom I named Sir Patrick (Moore) after the famous and much beloved Astronomer and BBC Presenter (RIP).¬† It particularly helped that he had a squinty eye in which I could imagine the real Sir¬† Patrick’s monocle.¬† I met the real Sir Patrick¬†once, he was absolutely delightful, and was very kind to me when another celebrity was very rude to me (you know who you are, Michael Fish!).

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Two РOpening my Etsy Shop

This was a long-term aim over the year and was delayed many times due to factors outside of my control!  In the end it was opened in October and I had my first sale within 24 hours.

I haven’t quite had the time since then to promote it as much as I would like, and I have exciting plans for my Etsy shop¬†for 2016, so my upcoming week off in February will be spent at home getting things sorted…

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Three – Vintage Shopping at the Car Booty

Regular readers will know that I love a bargain.¬† Most Sundays I can be found at Frome Car Boot Sale, rummaging around in other people’s junk.¬† For several months this year I had an amazing run on vintage notions and patterns and went a bit overboard buying them.

I have now decided to offload some of them in 2016 when I take part in a Craft Fair which also lets you sell related goods.  Some, though, I cannot bear to part with!

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Four РYarn, lovely Yarn

I wrote about my yarn addiction on several occasions, it has perhaps got a little out of hand, especially after I visited the Kensington Olympia Knitting and Stitching show in March – but I did get some beautiful yarns, including the cashmere / cotton blend to make this lovely shawl on my Etsy Shop.

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Five – Devon knows how they make it so lovely

Through my lovely friend Anna, I’ve had the chance to visit Chagford, in Devon on the edge of Dartmoor, twice this year for Craft Fairs.¬† Such a beautiful place and the people are so friendly and welcoming, it’s a real treat to visit there. ¬†Bonus treat – the tiny ponies and other cute critters at the Miniature Pony Centre nearby.

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Six – Holidays-a-go-go!

I’ve been extremely lucky this year with holidays – having a gorgeous week in Marbella in March, with Mum, and then again in Bayeux in June with Mum, Dad and my brother.¬† The first time we’d all been away together for several years.¬† Both were fabulous holidays, much needed and much enjoyed, and allowed me to expand my stash even more with some really lovely yarns and notions (as well as some cheeky¬†goats producing the softest mohair)

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Seven – My first giveaway of Crochet Patterns

In October I gave away the pattern for my first designed project, some mini Halloween Treat Baskets – to fill with yummy chocolates.¬† I had great fun designing the different faces and putting together a beginner’s project which I was happy to share for free.¬† Although a simple design, it has given me a taste for more!

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Eight – Geek Loveliness

A fabulous year of nerd-dom¬†has been bookended by Star Wars. ¬†In May I posted about my trip to Marbella and the surprise of hearing a youth orchestra starting up with the Star Wars¬†soundtrack – I have never departed¬†a cafe in such a hasty fashion¬†before… ¬†In May I also posted a cheeky geeky guide and then followed up with a visit¬†to the Doctor Who Exhibition in September with my family. ¬†There is an adventure to go through which is rather interactive – I was more scared than the kids!

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Nine – Animals A-Plenty

It never surprises me that my most popular posts tend to be around my two black cats, Ella and Sir Patrick.  After all, they are endless sources of amusement to me!

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Ten – Art and Crafts

And back to my main loves Рart and crafts.  In April I visited Standen, a home filled with delights from the Arts and Craft movement which I so admire.  Moving on to June I waxed lyrical about Salvator Rosa, one of my favourite artists, and in July I wrote about the beautiful lace that I encountered on my goaty adventures in Bayeux (and of course the famous Tapestry).

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And finally, throughout the year I have been extolling the virtues of crafting,¬†thank you for joining me on my journey this year, and here’s to 2016!

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Geek Weekend – Part I – Costumes

Ood afternoon!

Yesterday I accompanied my cousins to the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff – highly recommended for any Who fans…

I visited a couple of years ago (during Matt Smith’s Doctor) and they have recently re-energised it and the exhibition with a more interactive Peter Capaldi episode which is at times quite spooky, but very enjoyable.

Afterwards we wandered through the exhibition and bought some goodies at the shop. ¬†More on that later – I thought I would start with the costumes which were quite magnificent. ¬†Please excuse the quality of the pictures as I only had my mobile phone camera on hand…

Firstly, some of Clara’s costumes. ¬†She’s not my my favourite of companions, although she has her moments… ¬†She is so incredibly tiny – I am sure my biceps are wider than her waist!

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On to one of my favourites, River Song. ¬†She is an amazingly powerful female character. ¬†One of the things I love about Doctor Who is that they don’t just write in two-dimensional girlie roles. ¬†All of the companions (and now Missy of course!) are complex, usually clever, resourceful and funny. ¬†River Song had (or should we say, has!) this in spades.

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On to some of the character costumes – the attention to detail and styling on these were quite astounding up close and personal.

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I can’t do a blog on Doctor Who costumes without including The Doctor himself. ¬†Firstly – my first Doctors. ¬†I have no¬†recollection of Jon Pertwee, I think I would have quite enjoyed his incarnation of The Doctor. ¬†The Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker, was my first Doctor. ¬†I found him extremely scary at the time – big eyes, big hair, very tall and that booming voice (well I was very young!)

As a keen knitter and crocheter, I have always fancied making a¬†scarf or two, based on a variation of Tom Baker’s scarf. ¬†Perhaps one in a thinner, lighter fabric, not so wide and¬†certainly as long as possible – but maybe¬†not quite the 24 feet long scarf that the Fourth Doctor had at one point.

Peter Davison was my favourite at the time, he was quieter, more sensitive and, of course, very handsome! ¬†The celery stalk was a bit of a strange addition to the costume, but it all added to the quirkiness of The Doctor which we all know and love…

 

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So here they all are – in order, including the War Doctor.

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My least favourite Doctor was Sylvester McCoy.  He had some fun with the part, but it was no surprise to me that the series was cancelled at that point.

With ‘new Who’ I¬†was thrilled that Christopher Eccleston took the part of The Doctor. ¬†He and Russell T. Davies brought something fresh and new to a character that we all loved, and thought we knew! ¬†but my Doctor is (and probably always will be) Ten – David Tennant (he really was a skinny boy!)

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He just encapsulated the role so brilliantly and could play light and shade and everything inbetween.  Although Eccleston brought it back in style, to my mind, it was Tennant and his relationship with Rose that sealed the success that it now is.

Who is your favourite Doctor and why?

Happy geeking!

 

Lou x

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Knitting and Stitching Show Madness!

Well, it’s a week since I went to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Olympia in London.

My Mum was kind enough to come up with me and left me with a little present in the form of a nasty cold!

So I’ve been feeling a bit sorry for myself, what better way to cheer myself up other than having a gander at the lovely stash that I brought home with me!

I don’t think I’ve ever been to Olympia before, for the uninitiated, it’s an exhibition centre in Kensington, West London. ¬†I love this old photo – much has changed in the area, but Olympia remains pretty much¬†as it is here.

 

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I was a bit remiss in taking photos on the day – blame my yarn obsession for that! ¬†As we arrived we only just¬†had time to book into a needle-felting class which began immediately… ¬†We were making a bee – mine wasn’t quite finished and a bit, erm, shall we call it ‘rustic’ so I haven’t taken a picture of it to post here!

As well as the expected¬†suppliers and manufacturers, there were a few fun surprises. ¬†The lovely people at Toft had brought their crochet jungle with them (sadly I didn’t get a picture!) full of monkeys crocheted by newcomers and experts alike – with funds and awareness-raising of Birmingham’s Children’s Hospital and Noah’s Ark Hospice.

Another fun thing was the Knitted Farm – some of the work was quite remarkable.

 

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This was a competition organised by the Show and the winners can be found here.

I was thrilled to see a stall there by Cats Protection РI worked for them for several years before I moved down to Wiltshire.  I also met up with an old friend who was manning the stall Рshe arrived just at the same time as I found the stall Рwhat a happy coincidence!

So, onto the really fun bit – all of the wool / yarn… ¬†I did go a bit mad, I had a budget and only slightly blew it! ¬†But what I did get was¬†such lovely and unique pieces and yarns which I have never seen before as well as some bargains…

Firstly my bargain yarns РI got four balls of Sirdar Escape DK as well as three balls each of King Cole Galaxy Chunky Рall for £20 Рbargaintastic!

 

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Next up is some beautiful yarn by the Japanese firm Noro – a gorgeous mixture of 45% Silk, 45% Kid Mohair and 10% Lambswool. ¬†The overcast weather here in Wiltshire has dampened the colours of this – it is absolutely glorious. ¬†The colourway is a mixture of blues, green, purple and yellows. ¬†I’ve wanted to try Noro yarns for ages – I have a great respect for the craft skills of the Japanese people. ¬†One day I hope to go to Nippori¬†in¬†Tokyo – my dream craft destination!

 

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This Debbie Bliss Winter Garden is a tweedy mix chunky yarn made from 30% Llama, 30% Merino Wool, 20% Silk and 20% Linen.  The colours are gorgeous Рrich purple and a russety conker colour.  Makes me think more of Autumn than Winter!

 

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These next yarns are made from recycled Sari silk and are such beautiful, vibrant shades, unfortunately again my overcast weather doesn’t really show them at their best! ¬†I’m looking forward to working out what I can do with these…

 

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Further rummaging was needed to find the next ones – by this point Mum had given up and gone home. ¬†I couldn’t resist these¬†from the Little Knitting Company – 80% Cotton and 20% Cashmere, they have the most lovely feel to them.

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Finally I went a little mad at the last knockings, buying (left) Debonnaire Silk/Lurex mix in jewel colours (regular readers will notice a pattern here!) from Ehdknits¬†and last, but certainly not least, my most favourite stall was Watercolours & Lace¬†– (right) – such wonderful hand-painted and dyed natural fibres. ¬†I bought two and then went back for another one – I couldn’t resist! ¬†I bought Cashmere Silk lace in the softest purples and blue-greens, a Baby Alpaca/Silk mix in soft rose pinks and at the back a Merino Fine Lace in gorgeous blue-purple, reminding me very much of Delphiniums.

This is such a beautiful shop, I heartily encourage you to seek them out at a Fair or even buy online. ¬†I can’t think of a more gorgeous range of quality yarns.

 

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So that was the sum total of my first Knitting and Stitching show – lots of beautiful wools and yarns to be going on with.

When is the next one!?!

Happy crafting

 

Lou x

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Exciting Etsy plans

Morning all – just a quick update…

I have made a rather monumental decision – I’m going to open an Etsy shop!

The last few¬†weeks have been a bit of a reflective time – with the cold weather and lack of funds post-Christmas I’ve put in considerable hours considering what path I want to follow to sell my products.

I live in a part of the UK that is not particularly geared up for crafts – I have attended some craft fairs but have found the results to be patchy. ¬†It seems that I get a lot of positive comments, but that doesn’t always transpose into sales.

For some time I’ve been thinking about the different online communities and also how I can back up the route I choose with social media. ¬†There are so many pros and cons of the different options available, it has been quite challenging to finally make up my mind!

Although Etsy is quite big, and I think you can easily get lost there, I have heard lots about the great community and backup from¬†Etsy UK. ¬†I’ve also decided to rationalise my makes into mainly accessories – hand knitted and crocheted bags, wraps, scarves, gloves, hats etc. ¬†I also have some sewn bags which I will also put on Etsy and see how they go!

Now my decision has been made I am planning my makes, pricing and shop policies and then will be setting up a (hopefully) speedy production line Рdifficult when I work full-time!  I have a week off after Easter and am planning to open the shop perhaps in late April / early May.

Has anyone else had any experience of selling on Etsy or other marketplaces online?  How did it go?  What did you think of the results?

Happy crafting!

Lou x

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