Thursday, 17 January 2019

Weston-super-Mare in Pictures: October, November, & December 2018

Time to look back at my seaside snaps from the final quarter of 2018!

This autumn was full of glorious colour: always such a treat, but particularly on days of sunshine and blue skies.

I spent a lot of sunny afternoons walking around town scouting for nice-looking leaves, and then essentially stalking them: including them in my routes as often as possible until they faded and dropped.

I particularly enjoyed this fabulous door + gate + climber combo...

... and I literally gasped when I turned a corner and found this beauty. 

The previous year, as the nights drew in, I made it a habit to build my schedule around the sunset as much as possible. I timed my trips into town so I'd be walking back along the beach as the light faded, and spent a lot of time gazing at the pastel tints of the sky and filling up my camera roll with (largely terrible) sunset snaps.

I didn't do as much of that this time round, sadly, but the few beach sunsets I did enjoy were pretty magical.

As ever, I've continued to keep my eye out for interesting shapes and textures. I particularly loved this tree...

... and this gleaming seaweed... 

... and this patched-up garage door.


Oh, and I fell in love with a fish and chip shop! Actually going here for fish and chips is on my 2019 Must Do list.

I've started walking a lot more lately - both further and more often - and have to admit that I'm getting a little obsessed with walking! This year I've wanted to get out for walks whatever the weather, and in the autumn and winter that means walking in the cold, the rain and through a lot of mud... and upgrading my wardrobe and footwear accordingly.

I'm still walking a lot on the beach and through town, but I'm also spending as much time as possible out in the nature reserves (Uphill, Walborough, and Bleadon Levels). They're so beautiful!


I'm planning on walking there a lot in 2019, but also trying to get across town more often to walk up Worlebury Hill and through the woods. I walked up the hill late one December afternoon and was rewarded with the most wonderful view:


Watching the sunset as I walked back down the hill and homewards was quite delightful!

Then right at the close of the year, I snapped a strong contender for my 2019 Christmas card (haha)...

 ... and encountered a trio of birds who posed for juuuuust long enough for me to take this photo! Very considerate of them.

Here's to lots more walking in 2019!

Click here to catch up on the rest of my seaside photo round-ups, and here to follow along on Instagram.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

The 10 Year Challenge: Getting Older & Growing into Myself

If you're on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram you've probably seen the 10 Year Challenge popping up a lot in your feed lately, with people posting photos of themselves from 2009 vs 2019.

It's really interesting seeing how much (and how little) people have changed. All those sweet fresh faces! Old friends looking just how they looked when you first met, and new friends looking sort of not yet fully formed, a sort of pre-them from before you knew them and they grew into their wonderful current selves! So many lovely faces! Such fun!

I love looking back at old photos - if you've been reading my blog for a while you might remember that I've been assembling self-portraits to represent each year for a while now - so I thought I'd join in the fun with this challenge. But: could I find a photo of myself from 2009? I absolutely could not. I don't have a lot of photos of myself from around that time anyway and I think that might have been the year my computer died a sudden death when I hadn't backed up my files for months. (Oops). (Always back up your files, you guys!!).

Sooo... here's me in 2008 (modelling a headband I'd made for my shop)...

... and me in 2018 (modelling the denim jacket I customised for Sticker You).

Ten years of taking crafty selfies and sticking them on the internet! Woohoo!

This pair of photos is kind of cheating because the light in the hallway where I took that most recent photo is VERY FLATTERING but apart from my glasses getting bigger I'm not sure how I look has changed that much?

I mean, obviously, I can see time making its mark on me when I look in the mirror in the morning. I've got a lot more wrinkles and crinkles than I had back in 2008, I'm developing a pretty strong frown line right in the middle of my forehead, and my first grey hairs showed up last year (I'm not sure exactly when as I'd not noticed them until my youngest sister helpfully pointed them out to me this summer!). And on mornings when I've not had enough sleep? Oh my goodness. A bad night's sleep ages me about a decade these days.

Mostly though what I see when I look at these photos, and which may not be visible to anyone else but me, is how much happier with myself I am these days. Happier with who I am and how I look, and generally just so much more confident and content to be myself. I'm lucky to be healthier and fitter than I've ever been, too (one of the excellent and unexpected side-effects of falling in love with walking).

People talk (slightly creepily) about girls "blossoming" into young women, but here in my late 30s, with 40 on the rapidly approaching horizon, I feel like I'm in full bloom inside and out.

When we turn 30 (if not even earlier) we start getting hit with so many messages from our youth-focused culture that we, as women, should be freaked out about "losing" our looks as those dreaded "signs of aging" start appearing. We've got over the angst and body confidence issues of our teens, gone through our messy "what am I doing with my life??" twenties, and just as we're starting to relax into ourselves and, I think, beginning to really grow into our power... all of a sudden the world says "woah, settle down there ladies, have you considered that there's all these new ways to hate yourself?"

Well, I refuse. I refuse to hate the gradual way my face and body is changing as I'm aging and I absolutely refuse to hate myself even a tiny bit because of it. I am going to continue to bloom and I hope you guys will, too xxx

Thursday, 10 January 2019

A New Felt Flower Pattern: Coming Soon

I'm currently dreaming of spring and busy working on lots of floral things, including this project...

... which will be January's freebie for my newsletter subscribers.

The main project will be a mix of felt and embroidery, but I'll be including an embroidery pattern option too (because you guys know I can never resist a project variation!). I can't wait to share the finished design with you all.

Not yet a subscriber? Follow the link to sign up to my monthly pattern newsletter for a free project in your inbox each month this year, plus a bonus project at some point to make up for the fact that I was too busy to send a newsletter in December (oops!). You can also sign up for updates about what's new here on my blog and over in my shop.

Here's a peek at some of the other floral designs in progress in my studio at the moment - keep your fingers crossed for lots of winter sunshine so I can get these tutorials photographed and in my shop a.s.a.p!

P.S. Remember you'll also always find lots of free crafty projects in my tutorial archive

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Fifteen Felt Christmas Ornaments Finally Finished!

Oh, hello, what's this? Another blog post about getting things finished?? HURRAH.

If you're a regular reader of my blog you'll know that I was working hard to finish lots of my personal creative projects last year, including a patchwork blanket, a couple of quilts, and a set of felt Christmas ornaments I was making from Alicia Paulson's lovely patterns.

I bought several of Alicia's kits way back in 2012 and 2013 and had really made very little effort to devote any focused time to them... so, unsurprisingly, most of the designs were still sitting in pieces, unstitched, in a drawer in my flat many years later.

Well now, happily, I can say that all fifteen ornaments are finally finished! Woohoo!

Don't they all look fabulous together?

That photo ended up being my most popular Instagram photo from last year - and, indeed, my whole time on Instagram. Watching all the "likes" roll in for this project was a weird and fun way to finish the year!

Fancy a closer look at the ornaments? The first batch was the slowest to finish as they technically took me 5-6 years to complete...

... then it took me just a month to get another four finished this autumn...

... and the final four were ready just in time for Christmas.

I completed the sweet Gingerbread Girl in early December - I probably could have managed it slightly earlier but I wanted to make sure I was super focused and in the zone when I stitched her face to get it juuuuust right. She is so charmingly folksy, I love her.

The next two got finished in the middle of the month, while watching made-for-TV Christmas movies (I love made-for-TV Christmas movies). There's the cute (double-sided) Notevena Mouse (as in "Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse")...

... and the lovely (single-sided) Lighted Window.

The very last design I stitched was the Whistling Tea Kettle which is the one I took most liberties with when it came to not following the instructions.

There was a lot of satin stitch in Alicia's original design and I a) do not enjoy and b) am terrible at satin stitch, sooo my version looks slightly different to hers while still keeping to the same overall pattern. Could I (should I) have used this project as an opportunity to improve my satin stitching? Probably, but never mind!

I deliberately missed out a row of blanket stitching on the kettle, too, because I was finding it frustrating and honestly just wanted this thing finished. I'm pretty pleased with the end result, though, even with the changes.

Just like the other big projects I finished last year after years of them being just works in progress, it is hugely satisfying getting these ornaments completed! I've been meaning to finish them "in time for Christmas" for so many years (and so many different Christmases) that it felt wonderful finally having them ready in time for one.

Having said that, though, I have a confession to make: although I basked in the glorious feeling of getting these ornaments finally finished (which was an excellent Christmas gift to myself), I didn't actually hang any of them up at Christmas!

My holiday decorating style is, these days, best described as very minimal. I put up a few decorations around my flat along with all the cards I'd received from friends, but I don't put up a Christmas tree... and even if I did, it would have to be a VERY big tree to fit these ornaments on it as they're quite large (though you might not guess it from the photos). The Gingerbread Girl, for example, is about 17cm (almost 7 inches) high.

Also (and it's embarrassing to admit this) there's a bit of me that's a teeny bit worried that I'll have them on display and someone will come round to my house and think I made and designed them and say something nice which ends up feeling not so great. I've had this happen several times before with handmade-but-not-by-me things and honestly hearing "oh wow this is the best thing you've ever made, I love these so much!" about something that isn't your work is super awkward and slightly devastating! (Even if you yourself think they're nicer than your own work, too!) (Ugh, maker feelings are so complicated).

So, I think I'm going to end up giving some of these as gifts to friends and family in the run up to next Christmas and possibly just keeping a few of my favourites to hang on doorknobs and other suitable places in my flat. (If you're a friend of mine please do feel free to drop hints about which ones are your faves!)

I'm going to give myself the year to think about it though - who know, by the time next Christmas rolls round I might have decided that I can't bear to part with any of them and I'll have found the perfect places to display them all! We shall see...

Want to make some of these ornaments for yourself? Click here to find all the patterns (and much more loveliness) over in Alicia's shop.

For lots more Christmas crafting ideas, visit my archive of free tutorials.