Saturday, 31 May 2008

Flowers (days 265 & 266)

No chance to blog yesterday as I was visiting my mother-in-law. In the meantime I've managed to finish my orange poppies...
... and make a couple of wild rose brooches (white musk rose and pink briar rose). I've wanted to try a wild rose for ages, and put them to the top of my list when I saw these illustrations in a book called "Shakespeare's Flowers":
It may not come as a huge surprise to learn that I've started work on a honeysuckle design, too!

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Orange Orange Orange (365 / 264)

I have orange on the brain!

I was trying to think of something orange I could make as a gift for a friend who loves bright colours, and I thought maybe an orange version of my poppies? So I dug out some appropriately zingy orange felt from my stash and liked it so much against the black that I'm now planning to make a whole set of them (and probably a hairband too, I think I have an orange elastic to match).

Then thinking about orange I had a small "eureka!" moment as I suddenly worked out that peach (of course! why didn't I think of it before?) was the ideal colour to pair with white in a new version of my cherry blossoms:
I'd been contemplating a white version for ages but couldn't think what to use as the second colour. Luckily, I have both soft peach felt and pretty peach seed beads so I got to do some instant gratification crafting. Unluckily, I picked the wrong colour thread to start with (far too orange) but the peach I used second (at the front of the photo) is spot on. Very satisfying.

Also fantastically satisfying: while I was internet-less, one of the chores I managed to get done was hanging some of my pictures. These are above our fridge and freezer in the kitchen (due to be repainted white over the summer). Many of these are from Etsy, and most have been sitting around framed for about 5 or 6 months while I tried to work out where best to put them - it's so great having them up on the wall at last! There's a random piece of paper stuck up there too as I'm testing out whether I want to hang an extra little picture in the cluster (I think I probably do). I can see these from my workspace (aka the kitchen table), they are cheering me up greatly :)

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Gifts Galore!

Yesterday one of the women at work gave me the sweetest gift - a copy of Spare Room Start Up - as a thankyou for the chats we've been having about running a business, finding ways to be creative in amongst your "real life" and other stuff like that. I don't know that I necessarily said anything in particular that was helpful, but I do know how great it is to have people to discuss these things with. My crafting 365 group and other crafty corners of Flickr are great for that, and the UK crowd over on Etsy are always fantastically supportive and ready with advice, suggestions and sympathy. If nothing else, it saves my boyfriend from having to hear about all this stuff all day everyday - for which I feel sure he is truly thankful!

Anyway: my crafty task yesterday? Sneakily finishing this:
It's a prototype cafetiere cosy (or French Press cozy as I've discovered the Americans call such things), which I've been working on for a while in secret as a surprise for my boyfriend's birthday. It's only a prototype because for the final version I wanted him to be able to choose the fabric he wanted (instead of suffering my taste in whimsical japanese prints everytime he makes coffee!) and to test if one thickness of felted sweater was enough to keep his coffee sufficiently toasty (it isn't quite: two layers next time!). Another of his presents was a mini cafetiere so I guess a mini cosy will be getting made at some point as well...

(I thought about writing up a free tutorial for making your own coffee cosy cos it was a rather fun little crafty project. Would anyone be interested in such a thing?)

Oh, and a third "gift" to finish today's post - a birthday gift to myself that came in the post this morning. I've mentioned this teatowel before but I wanted to show you the natty label and lovely thankyou: fantastic stuff.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Flowers, Birds and a Small Miracle (365 / 261 & 262)

I fixed my camera! Hurrah!

I was just about to look up new cameras when I thought to google my camera model and the fault and lo! apparently the "lens error" message I was getting is basically the last words of the type of camera I have (a Nikon Coolpix) and short of taking the whole camera apart (or getting Nikon to do so) the only solution is apparently to bash the camera and hope for the best. I crossed my fingers, gave the lens a good whack and it turned on immediately and seems to be good as new. "Give it a good kick, that'll fix it" is not the most sophisticated advice but it did seem to work... I shall start checking out digital cameras just in case I have to make an emergency purchase but it's nice to have the camera panic over for the moment. God bless the internet.

So, here's what I've been working on for the past couple of days:
Lots more hairbands, and some poppies to use for making bracelets. Lots of nice relaxing beading, and making larger and more dramatc hairbands proved lots of fun. The new poppy ones are made with my "large" size poppies (3 inches / 7.5cm across) and the cherry blossoms are double the size of my cherry blossom brooches (the one with the leaves is about 4 inches / 10cm across). My mother suggested they'd make a great alternative to a hat or a fascinator for summer weddings or a day at the races. My cherry blossom design is one of my most-worn favourites so I definitely want to make myself one of these to keep for just such an occasion...
I also found an almost-finished butterfly in my wip box - previously intended for a brooch or an ornament I thought it would make for a dramatic hairband, so I gave it a try:
In other news: the incredibly talented Geninne has put limited edition prints of her amazing 20 birds series up in her Etsy shop. I'm so glad it's my birthday soon so I get to treat myself! I couldn't afford all 20, but I ordered my favourites (yay) and a girl can dream... right?

Monday, 26 May 2008

Confessions

My camera is being very odd today. I don't yet want to admit that it's broken (please please please let it not be) but it's certainly not let me take any photos :(

This means I can't show you what I worked on last night (some more hairbands, with large poppies and giant cherry blossoms like this) ...

Instead, I'm going to admit to my total and utter failure to stick to my Crafting 365 challenge during my internet-less weeks. I was doing so well! and then I got a bit distracted and I had my biggest crafting-free period since I started this last year. First up my neighbour had a nasty fall and we had to break into her house & accompany her to the hospital (she's recovering well, thankfully), getting back at about 1am. Then that weekend the BBC were in Gloucester filming for this year's Doctor Who Christmas special which was just sooo exciting, especially as one evening they filmed in my friend's house and we got to meet the lovely David Tennant. It felt genuinely a bit like Christmas, and all the excitement rather wore me out.

I did manage to get a little bit of crafting done after that - curling up on the sofa and slowly making loads of little thankyou cards out of scrap card and an old book of birds (days 243-7) - but without the daily 365 thing of taking pictures of my work and posting it on here, I rather lost momentum. I was getting to check my emails etc at work and at my friends houses but I couldn't work on my shop at home and it made me really feel at a loose end. Also I'd never really realised before the extent to which I rely on things like digital radio to keep me entertained while I sit and sew. Once I'd worked my way through my dvds I started to get rather restless!

So instead of sitting and sewing, I cleaned the house (it's honestly never been so clean) and tidied up and we had a huge clear-out of things we've been meaning to attend to in the spare room... Then after that I had a proper little holiday during a mini heatwave: lazing around in sundresses, eating strawberries and reading novels (I hardly get a chance to read normally, curling up with my sewing instead of a book before bedtime), and doing the first bit of baking I'd done in months. I used to bake all the time, and really miss it. It's one of those things which I wonder why I don't do it every day, it's so satisfying (and I do like a nice bit of cake).

All in all I think I had about three weeks off from making stuff before I picked up my sewing again (more on that when I can take photos again!). It felt seriously weird to start with, but in the end it was nice to step outside my felt-obsessed universe for a little while and focus on other things. Once I'd stopped being stressed about not being able to check my email, etc, it even seemed like quite a good idea. I am determined to keep going with this 365 thing, it's so much fun and has been so good for my productivity, creativity and working patterns, but in future I shall definitely be building "crafting free" patches into my schedule!

Right, enough wittering: back to the sewing...

Sunday, 25 May 2008

365 / 260 - Flowers in my Hair

I'm all about draping myself in felt this week. Last night's felty task? Making my very first batch of hairbands:
Those flowers had been kept back (almost finished) from my big batches of brooch making last month... they were supposed to be sewn onto felt cuffs but I didn't get round to it and my enthusiasm for making hairbands took precedence!

I think I spent more time traipsing round town trying to find the right sort of hair elastics to use than I did in actually sewing them together but it did feel like I spent my whole day on these and it was most satisfying when I tried the first one on:
Again, I'm not the most glamorous of models (look at that smirk! haha) but you get the idea! They are so pretty, I want to keep them all for myself and I'm already working on a few more... Hopefully the light will be better for photos tomorrow (so overcast today) but I've managed to list a couple already over on Etsy. I'm interested to see whether the listing with the flower close up gets many more views than the one with my mugshot...

Saturday, 24 May 2008

365 / 259 - Covered in Felt!

Last night I spent a lot of time doing dull things like catching up on Etsy feedback, but I did manage to watch the end of America's Next Top Model and finish this:
I like to think that watching 10 whole seasons of ANTM has instructed me well in the art of modelling... but perhaps not!
Hopefully (fingers crossed) I may have some volunteer models soon so the rest of the designs I'm planning can get listed without me pulling silly faces at the camera and relying on a bit of blur to hide many a blemish!My boyfriend thinks I have gone off my rocker (110% loopy bananas) with this one, but I think it's pretty awesome. It's designed like a garland, so you can loop it round yourself or hang it in your house (I wanted to make one of these for a felty Christmas but never got round to it).
Smaller and simpler versions of this should be coming soon but you've got to start with the showstopper, right? (in ANTM vocab: this one's couture, ready-to-wear is coming soon!).

Friday, 23 May 2008

Catching up: batches of flowers

My month without the internet has clearly made me forget how technology works: I forgot to charge my camera batteries before trying to take loads of photos today. What an idiot!

I did at least get some photos taken before the batteries died completely...

Here's what I was working on last night (day 258) ...
... sewing together a "new" mobile (the pieces were actually cut out way back in March!) whilst catching up on episodes of America's Next Top Model missed during the past month - if anyone tells me who wins before I wanted the finale I will be very unhappy!

Then way back in mid-April, in my first internet-free week (Crafting 365 days 238-242) I made lots of batches of floral brooches:
I wasn't doing very well with my "design a day" challenge anyway, and then no internet was just the last straw so I put it on hold and turned my attention to batch-making. Some got started from scratch, and others I'd been working on for a while in spare moments and I just needed a big push to get them all finished. I worked my way through most of my dvd collection whilst beading this lot!
It's great having a nice stock of the poppies, and lovely to have a pink version in small, medium and large.
I really do love that pink, I've been wearing my pink poppies much more than I wear the red or white ones (though I do love them, they just don't match my wardrobe quite as well). I'll be taking close up pictures of the pink poppies soon and adding them to my Etsy, etc, but the battery charger must do it's thing first...

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Things To Do

My "catching up with the month I've missed and getting my online world up to date" to do list is rather a long one...

This morning I had 45 messages in the "Etsy Reply" folder in my email account, and when I logged into Etsy it said something ridiculous like "you need to leave feedback for 190 items" (I may have been a bit behind on this even before my internet went down!) ... and I have 152 new messages (mostly new contacts) on Flickr! Plenty to keep me busy, even without blogging, updating my shops, catching up with my favourite blogs etc etc etc

I'll be adding new items to my Etsy shop all through this week and I will be blogging daily from now on - it hopefully won't be too long before I get back to posting my 365 craftiness and uploading lots of photos. I did fall off the 365 wagon rather badly during my internet-holiday, but I have done *some* crafting and lots of other fun stuff besides!

Typically, this includes doing some birthday shopping on lovely Etsy.... so far I've treated myself to this lovely print from LittleRobot (I cannot understand why I've not bought this before, it is so charming):
... and the fab teatowel I mentioned the other day from showpony:

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

HURRAH!

We have a working internet connection!

At last!

Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!

*Does happy dance*

To celebrate my return to the 21st century, I'm having a mini SECRET sale in my Etsy shop for 24hours. UPDATE: sale has now ended!

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Counting Down the Days

We've made the switch to a new internet supplier after WEEKS of no internet and terrible customer service from our old supplier they've finally given us the code we need to make the switch and our new modem etc is in the post! Hurrah!

In the meantime please buy lots of things from my shop to cheer me up, haha :P

No, seriously, in the meantime check out these excellent visual treats from Etsy...

Awesome teacups and cake stands decorated with amazing and whimsical illustrations from EstherCoombs. Quirky pictures by laurennassef - I particularly love the collectors with their thought clouds brimming with their obsessive collections. Sweet tea-themed pictures by whatkatydoes and jenskelley. Oh, and great teatowels (I do like a nice teatowel) featuring buttons and dishes from new find annabelwaterman and old favourite showpony.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Time Travelling

The internet drought continues. Yawn.

We're also properly feeling the lack of our television - we gave it up a while ago but continued to watch lots of stuff on the internet and I listen to loads of digital radio. All in all it feels a little like going back in time...

With all my newfound free time I have been being crafty but also baking, reading Jeeves & Wooster novels, and lazing around in the sunshine thanks to a lovely heatwave. We've also been having adventures, thanks to some BBC filming locally. That's me on the right... swoon...

Thursday, 1 May 2008

We Are Not Amused

Our internet connection is still down. Our broadband provider are now claiming to have "no idea" what could have occurred and to have "no record" of the call during which they told us we'd be reconnected by today. Aaaaaargh.

We will be trying to switch internet providers asap this week, but until then I'm still stuck internet-less and the blogging hiatus must continue :(

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