Saturday, 28 November 2009

Scarves!

Just time for a quick (& slightly crazy!) snap today - three of the scarves I've been knitting as Christmas gifts:

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Fa la la la Felt

I've got some very exciting news to share today (a secret I've been keeping for a few months now) ... some of my felt projects are in a book! Fa la la la Felt is the first e-book published by Lark Books and is available to buy HERE.

It contains 45 festive felt projects by a whole assortment of crafters - including a stocking and 3 ornaments (a star, a gingerbread house and some baubles) designed by me.

That's my stocking, on the left:
I'll hopefully have some images of my projects to share with you next week - the photos I took myself before I posted them were unfortunate victims of our hard drive crash!


UPDATE:

Lark are offering a freebie to celebrate the launch of the book... a free pdf of the adorable mushroom ornaments (above) by Cathy Gaubert. I can't upload the file here on blogger but you can now download the pdf from Lark Books.

Plus: check out the awesome fish ornaments designed for the book by Lisa of Lil Fish Studios.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

November Giveaway - Festive Goodness!

It's giveaway time again! This month one lucky reader will win a pair of my peppermint heart baubles:
To enter, just leave a comment on this post before midnight (UK time) on Sunday 29th November. I'll pick the winner at random on Monday 30th November.

I'm happy to ship internationally, so anyone can enter.

Please make sure you leave a name or pseudonym (no anonymous comments please) and be sure to come back on MONDAY [not Sunday - oops!] to see if you got picked. Good luck!

Monday, 23 November 2009

How To: Advent Garland

This weekend I made an advent garland!



The garland is made from 24 small brown paper envelopes...

 

... decorated with gold paper doilies and silver embossed cake ribbon (available from my supplies shop) ....

 

.... and suspended on silver cord using the gold & silver mini pegs I bought a couple of weeks ago:


 

You could use any decorative papers you fancy to make your own garland, and mini wooden pegs are available from most craft stores.

If you want to number each envelope, you could add number stickers or handwritten numbers in marker pen, or print the numbers out on your computer & use a circle template to cut them out neatly.


 
 

Then you can fill each envelope with whatever you fancy - messages, silly Christmas jokes or individually wrapped sweets.


 

(Many thanks to my neighbour who kindly let me use her lovely fireplace as a setting for these photos!)

Please feel free to borrow photos if you want to blog about this project, but remember to credit me and link back to the original source, and do not reproduce my entire tutorial on your site. Thanks!

Sunday, 22 November 2009

New New New

I spent a lovely relaxing day yesterday making some new things - very exciting stuff - and then amidst all the dreary grey rain we've had this weekend it was magically sunny for half an hour & I got a chance to take some photos of them all...

A sweet goldfinch ornament:
A fun camera badge/brooch, adapted from a larger custom piece I made last year:

Plus because it's the season for hanging things on tress, I've made a camera ornament too:

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Finding a Balance

As regular readers may know, I have M.E. (otherwise known as Chronic Fatigue) which basically means I get tired quite a lot and have to manage my time quite carefully to make sure I don't wear myself out and make myself ill.

Most of the time, working for myself is the perfect job! If I'm feeling run down, I work less and do nice simple tasks like cutting out pattern pieces. If I've got more energy, I work more and do more creative and complicated things like designing new pieces or doing really fiddly bits of sewing. Perfect.

But at this time of year it can get a little tricky finding a balance between taking it easy and working, especially with Christmas looming and with 101 things on my to do list. Plus all the winter coughs and colds going around don't help matters!

Luckily this year I've got a postal assistant (my boyfriend) to help keep my shop running, which is helping enormously. I'm also learning to cross lots of things off my to do list and admit to myself that - frustrating though it is - certain works in progress and other schemes will just have to wait until next year. Admitting you don't have time to do things is (for me, at least) one of the hardest things about being self-employed.

Also luckily this is the perfect time of year to have lazy evenings in: curled up under a blanket watching dvds, drinking tea and doing some knitting. What could be nicer? Plus with all that decorating and wrapping and other festive crafting to be done there's also always something nice and relaxing and crafty to keep me entertained when I don't feel like working - a day without making stuff just feels weird! :)

And because no blog post feels complete without a picture, here's my latest bit of knitting:I bought lots of yummy new yarn yesterday, so expect more knitting pics soon!

Thursday, 19 November 2009

How To: Lavender Teabag

These teabag-shaped lavender sachets are so sweet - a fun and quirky way of keeping your clothes smelling sweet and deterring those pesky moths (just don't try to drink them!). I'm going to be making a few of these this Christmas for some fellow tea-obsessives (making use of the lovely lavender from my mama) & I thought they'd make a fun free tutorial to share...

To make these you will need:
- white felt
- narrow white ribbon
- white embroidery thread
- light purple felt
- some dried lavender & a teaspoon
- tracing paper
- white and purple sewing thread, needles, scissors, pins etc & an embroidery hoop (optional)

A pattern sheet for this project can be found at the bottom of this post.


1) Using the pattern piece provided, cut out 2 identical white felt pieces for the teabag.

2) Cut a length of ribbon, approx 5 inches long. Use white thread to sew one end of the ribbon to the "top" of one teabag shape, so the ribbon overlaps the felt slightly. Then pin both teabag shapes together so that they sandwich the ribbon between them.

3) Starting from the bottom of the teabag, use neat whip stitches to sew the edges of both pieces together almost all the way round - make sure you leave enough room for your teaspoon to get through the gap.

4) Use the teaspoon to lightly stuff your teabag with lavender. Use the handle to make sure the lavender gets in all the corners and is evenly distributed. Then stitch up the gap with more whip stitches. 5) Stitch the word "tea" in small letters in white embroidery thread on your purple felt. You can use an embroidery hoop if you have one. If you're not confident stitching the letters freehand, draw them onto the felt with a soft pencil and stitch over your pencil markings.

6) Cut out the tag pattern piece and draw around it onto some tracing paper. Cut this out, so you have a see-through pattern piece. Position the tag shape over your embroidered "tea" until you get the lettering as neatly centred as possible and then cut it out. Also cut a matching piece from plain purple felt.

7) Use matching purple thread to sew the loose end of the ribbon into the tag. Then use neat whip stitches to sew the front and back tag pieces together so the ribbon is sandwiched between them.

Double click on the pattern sheet to view it full size and print:


Please note that this tutorial is for non-commercial use only. If you use the images and/or text on your own blogs etc, please credit me and link back to this post. Thanks!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Postal Goodness

Lots of delicious things have been delivered by our postman this week and for once this is not because I've been on an Etsy shopping spree! (okay well maybe there was a teeny bit of shopping involved).

Last week Tiffany of Sodalight Creations sweetly sent me some of the cherry blossom hairpins she's been making with felt from my shop:
Then this week I got a copy of Woman's Day (featuring my pompom giftwrap idea), a bundle of yummy fabric from Cicada Studio and a copy of Elle Japan (featuring my bow hairbands).
The Elle was very kindly picked up for me by Katie of What Katie Does & Katie Knits while she was visiting Japan this month. You can read all about her trip here.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Christmas Birdies

Last night I finished these lovelies - bullfinch and chaffinch ornaments, now listed over in my Etsy shop:
One of the original sets of bird ornaments I made last year went to my mum and another was requested by a friend who sweetly sent me snaps of the birdies in situ in his tree!

Monday, 16 November 2009

Custom Birdies

I've been sewing lots of bird brooches this weekend, including a special set for a customer who wanted them facing in the other direction:
I'm also making some bird ornaments like this set I made last year:I hope to have the ornaments in my shops soon, but if you'd like to pre-order one please do get in touch!

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Homegrown

My mum came to visit this week & brought me a present - lots of lovely lavender harvested from her garden:
I'm going to use some of it to make some yummy scented sachets as Christmas gifts... Here's some I made earlier (well, last year!).
There may be lavender themed tutorial popping up on the blog this week, too :)

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Secret Sale! This weekend only.

I'm having a special secret sale in all my shops this weekend. Get your Christmas shopping done early, or just snap up a bargain!

10% off any order from any of my shops (excluding shipping) - my website, Etsy, Folksy, DaWanda and MISI. Just mention the SECRET SALE during checkout to get your discount. (If you have any problems doing this, just send me a message after you've placed your order).

All qualifying orders will receive a 10% refund (excluding shipping) via Paypal after payment. The sale will run for this weekend only and ends midnight Sunday 15th November, UK time.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Oooh, Shiny!

I picked up these fab silver & gold mini pegs in a local shop this week:
They're each about 3cm (1 and 1/4 inches) long and just so darn shiny! Not the best photo I know (the weather has been so dark and miserable this week) but I hope their awesomeness, er, shines through :)

I'm not quite sure what I'm going to use them for but I expect you'll see them showing up in my festive projects over the next few weeks...

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Lovely Features

I'm thrilled to have my tutorials featured in three fantastic places this week.

My brooch gift-topper idea got a lovely mention over on Craft at the weekend & my Succulent Lavender Sachet tutorial has been featured in the "things to make and do" section of fab new design blog The Beat That My Heart Skipped.

Plus (I'm quite excited about this one) my pompom giftwrap idea from last Christmas was picked up by Woman's Day & is featured in their current issue:
Their gifts look so cute and they've even made a video to show their readers how to make pompoms. I hope there will be lots of pompom-topped gifts under trees this year!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Lazy Days

I've been feeling a little under the weather this week, so I've been trying to put my feet up.

This is easier said than done in the run up to Christmas (so many emails to write and parcels to pack and things to make and admin to do) but I'm doing my best to balance work time and snoozing-on-the-sofa time :)

Of course I can't go a day without making something, so I've been squeezing in a bit of sleepy scarf-knitting while watching telly. Pics soon!

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Yarn Love

Regular readers will know that I love a nice bit of yarn at Christmas - wrapping gifts with yarn & pompoms and using it to make my Christmas star last year - and that I'm still a bit pompom obsessed.

So it will come as no surprise to learn that lots of yarn will be making an appearance in my Christmas decorating this year. There's just something about the warm, cosy, homemade feel of decorating with yarn that's quite irresistible, and I love how it helps to soften the potential brashness/gaudiness and full-on sparkle of a lot of Xmas baubles.

Feeling the yarn love, I want to share some of the awesome yarn wreaths I've discovered recently in my trails around the internet.

Agnes of Knock Knocking makes gorgeous yarn-wrapped wreaths, decorated with ornaments and felt embellishments (a girl after my own heart!). She has a great eye for colour. I love the retro sparkle of this "hostess" wreath...... and the pattern of this "argyle" wreath is so clever:You can find more of her wreaths in her shop, here.

Crafty superwoman MrsB (whose fab blog you can visit here) sells wreaths that are literally made from balls of yarn. Fantastic!
The combination of softness & sparkle here is just perfect:
And last but by no means least, do you fancy a bit of DIY yarn action this Christmas? Check out this great tutorial for a POMPOM wreath over on the Bleubird Vintage blog. Just amazing.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Gift Wrap Idea: Brooches & Badges

As I mentioned the other day, I've been working on lots of fun gift wrap projects to share with you in the run up to Christmas. First up: using brooches as gift-toppers.



This is such a easy idea, but it adds a huge amount of personality and specialness to the simplest of parcels.

Wrap your gift as normal - I think plain paper works best for this to really make a feature of the brooch. I'm a big fan of brown paper (use double-sided tape for extra neatness) and using yarn in place of expensive ribbon (thrifty and quite chic, I think!) but any paper and ribbon will do.

 

Knot your yarn/ribbon tightly and trim the ends so they'll be hidden under your brooch.

Then pin your brooch through the yarn/ribbon, and you're done!

 

I used the lilac flower brooch from my shop for this parcel, but any flower brooch would give the same summery feel to your wrapping.

For something a bit less girly, try big badges - and match your yarn/ribbon to the badge to give the gift a cohesive look.


Vintage brooches add a lovely bit of sparkle...

... perfect for Christmas! Most charity shops and thrift stores are overflowing with vintage brooches at bargain prices, plus the brooch can be kept and used as, well, a brooch, so you're spending money on a little extra gift instead of a fancy bow that will just get thrown away.


 
Please feel free to borrow one or two photos if you want to blog about this project, but remember to credit me and link back to the original source, and do not reproduce my entire post on your site. Thanks!

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Thursday Things

Lots of things to mention today... first up: Royal Mail just announced that the postal strikes here in the UK have been postponed until after Christmas! Woohoo!

As someone whose income pretty much entirely relies upon having a reliable postal service, I'm sure you can imagine how relieved I am to hear this news. But please don't let this put you off shopping early for Christmas ;)

I've been working really hard over the last few months trying to get my shops looking their best "in time for Christmas" and listing all the finished bits and pieces I've got sitting about the place in boxes. There are always more things that need doing, and it can be quite a challenge taking photos on these dark autumnal days, but I'm getting there slowly.

Among the recent additions are new colourways of my butterfly flower brooches & hairbands - pretty lilac and bright yellow:
And in other news - my felt bunting tutorial has made a guest appearance over at Or so she says... a blog jam-packed with giveaways, home, style & parenting tips, and (of course) lots of crafty projects. I originally made the bunting as a summer project (way back when it was still warm and sunny!) but in Christmas colours it would be a lovely addition to your holiday decor. I may have to make some myself...

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