Saturday 31 January 2009

A Quick Knitting Update

My back-to-basics scarf is almost finished...
... I'm still absolutely loving that purple, which is lucky as there's still a big ball of it left!

Also, thanks so much to everyone who commented yesterday - it's great to hear I'm not the only person who notices these things :)

Friday 30 January 2009

Post Office Geekery

I feel quite sure that no-one is interested in this sort of thing except me, but look! The Royal Mail have re-designed their Airmail stickers:The old ones are on the left, new sans-serif ones on the right. Note the addition of the teeny 'registered trademark' R next to Royal Mail, too. Is that really necessary on an Airmail sticker? I guess nowadays it must be.

These are the sort of things that fill my days and I am slightly worried that I find them as interesting as I do...

Thursday 29 January 2009

A Prize in the Post

The lovely Laura of Robson&Mason Haberdashery picked my Credit Crunch Sampler as one of the winners in Folksy's "Make the News" competition earlier this month... and today my prize arrived from Folksy HQ, accompanied by one of the awesome Folksy rulers:My prize is "Beautiful Knits for Heads, Hands and Toes" - which seems to be one of those books where traditional items have been made to look modern by using models with piercings and wearing trendy clothes... but it seems to cover lots of really useful basics and I've already seen a couple of things I fancy making, so it should prove very useful. Definitely a great prize to get at the start of my year of improving my knitting skills and tackling patterns!

Coincidentally, Laura is also learning to knit this year... and several of my Flickr friends have also recently caught the knitting bug. Is it the long cold winter that's got us all knitting nice cosy things? or is it the recession? or is is 2009 secretly national year of knitting and I have just not been told?

Wednesday 28 January 2009

A new crafty project... coming soon!

I've had a small idea for a tutorial bouncing round my head all week and I this afternoon finally got the chance to sit down with some supplies and start working on it. Ah, what bliss it is to sit and try out an idea!

I'll hopefully be able to show you the whole thing soon but for the moment this little sneak peek will have to do:

Tuesday 27 January 2009

God Bless the BBC

I'm currently spending all my spare moments knitting, and watching fantastic programmes from the BBC's new online Archive.

Being a bit obsessed with all things textile-related, I've been particularly entranced by the "What We Wore" collection. This includes an awesome fashion history series from 1957 where half the models are members of the British aristocracy, and programmes about sewing and knitting your own clothes (the latter are proving particularly fascinating to me now I've caught the knitting bug).

You unfortunately can't watch the shows if you're outside the UK, but you can still take a peek at the documents in the archive which are themselves quite wonderful.

Monday 26 January 2009

Trays of Birdies

I'm working on a big batch of birds at the moment (due to fly off to Switzerland sometime soon) and I've been making use of some lovely vintage trays to lay out all my pieces ready for sewing...
I often use the upturned lid of whatever "work in progress" box I'm attending to at the time to lay out bits and pieces that I'm working on, as so often projects carry on over the course of several days and I have to pack away my workbox or move from one room to another. As I don't have a dedicated studio space a portable workspace is invaluable.

The trays only come out for big projects when I've got what feels like millions of pieces to cut out and neatly arrange... otherwise I just end up having lots of felt-covered trays lying around the place and no-where to put them!

The repeating abstract blocks of colour made by the little piles of felt is also proving strangely inspiring. I think abstract felt patterns could look rather lovely... hmm...

Sunday 25 January 2009

Here's One I Made Earlier

My super-simple scarf got quite a bit longer last night thanks to a nice chilled evening spent watching rubbish films and knit knit knitting with the giant yarn-egg sitting on the sofa with us like a cat.

I have made some scarves before, during a brief bit of knitting-enthusiasm whilst at University. This was before knitting became anything like being "cool" and most of my friends looked at me like I was a crazy old woman, but I managed to knit four whole scarves before I lost interest and took up some other activity (it was probably baking: I baked a lot of cakes at Uni).

Rather marvelously, at least two of the scarves are still in regular use. I wear my "test" scarf all the time (sometimes even whilst knitting!) and feel very proud of it despite all the dropped stitches and other dodgy looking sections. My sister wears hers too... ... she requested something "sparkly" and got it, thanks to some lovely silver-threaded black yarn from John Lewis. This was definitely a good lesson in how it pays to invest in special yarn, as people ask her all the time where she got it and they cannot possibly be commenting on my knitting skills!

Saturday 24 January 2009

A Giant Yarn Egg

I've finally made a start on my resolution to make 2009 all about improving my knitting skills... I've signed up to Ravelry (username: bugsandfishes), bought my first bit of yarn for the year and started with a nice simple project.

It's chunky scarf that's as basic can be - cast on, knit knit knit knit knit until it gets long enough and cast off again - but (I hope) a stepping stone to greater things. Walk before you can run and all that. Here's one evening's progress...
... quite satisfying, really. And goodness, just so relaxing!

I'm knitting it with a gigantic and highly bargainous egg (not a ball, definitely an egg) of dusky purple yarn which my visiting mother insisted I photograph beside a normal egg, heehee: It looks slightly ominous really, as though something unexpected may hatch from it at any moment but fingers crossed it will merely produce a nice cosy scarf. More knitting updates soon, no doubt...

Friday 23 January 2009

Birds for my Grandmother

I do love sending out parcels of any kind, but parcels to my friends and relations are obviously extra special and today I'm happy to be sending a bundle of birdie love to my grandmother...A greenfinch, a goldfinch, a bullfinch and a robin. They'll be joined by some more feathered friends over the next couple of weeks, including a couple of new designs that I've been working on for ages & will hopefully have finished very soon (oh for a couple of extra days in the week!)

UPDATE: My robin design is now available as a sewing pattern and my other birds are coming soon! Visit my shop to see all my printable PDF patterns

Thursday 22 January 2009

Pins Pins Pins

The super-cute heart and leaf pins are back in stock over in the shop today, and they've been joined by sweet flower pins which are making me long for springtime...Frankly, spring cannot come soon enough as far as I'm concerned. The very first shoots of my spring bulbs are starting to show and I'm getting very impatient for some nice cheerful spring colour and for a few warmer days so I can get outside and give my little neglected "garden" a bit of attention.

For the moment though, I must be content with staying indoors where it's nice and cosy and tending to my colourful supplies! Not quite the same thing but it will have to do :)

Wednesday 21 January 2009

Retro Goodness

Another day, more admin that needs doing (where does all this paperwork come from??) , so just time for another quick snapshot:
That little beauty is the heater in our bathroom. I couldn't resist taking its picture when I was photographing all the pictures in our bathroom the other day, it is rather lovely, very retro, and slightly scary.

Tuesday 20 January 2009


Just a quick snapshot today - I've been tidying up the shelves where I keep my "everyday" crafty supplies and am feeling very proud of how tidy they look. This is quite a rare occurrence as I'm normally too busy sewing to bother tidying up!

Monday 19 January 2009

Experimental Stripes

A lovely neighbour of ours gave me an incredibly sweet gift a while ago: a big stack of old woolen jumpers, lovingly handknitted by his mother and worn until their elbows had worn away to nothingness and they'd shrunk so small he could no longer fit into them.

I set about washing them and shrinking them down to make felt, and have finally managed to make him a little something as a thankyou - a little lavender sachet made with two squares from the sweaters:I wanted something quite rustic looking, decorative but not "fancy" to match the homespun practical feel of the sweaters, so used some of my new embroidery thread to stitch some simple stripes into the felt. The lines left by the knitting act as fantastic guidelines for straight sewing and the wool is an absolute dream to sew through! The other side looks like this:I was a bit worried that the wool would be too thick for the lavender scent to be really apparent, but luckily the scent comes through nice and strong. This piece has already been given away, and I'm now very excited about all the other things I could make by embroidering felted wool like this (I am such a big fan of stripes).

Sunday 18 January 2009

How To: Butterfly Brooches

Time for another free tutorial... this time, how to make simple but super-cute butterfly brooches decorated with buttons.

Lovely for springtime, or as a sweet gift all year round! You will need:
- two pairs of buttons, one pair slightly larger than the other
- some colourful felt. Any felt will do for the decorative detail but thicker/stiffer felt is better for the main butterfly shape - eg acrylic felt available from most craft shops or thick wool felt. I've used acrylic felt for mine. If you're worried about your felt not being sturdy enough, just add an extra layer between the front and back piece.
- matching sewing thread
- a brooch back or safety pin

First cut out your pattern pieces - if you print the pattern sheet (see end of this post) at 100% your brooches will be the same as mine, approx 6cms across, just print it larger to get larger butterflies and to be able to use bigger buttons. You need one body piece in black or brown, and two colourful wing shapes. All the pieces I've cut out for my "in progress" shots are brown as I decided to use the pattern to make some moths.


Next choose your buttons to match - again, mine are brown to suit my moth but you can have lots of fun playing around with colours.


Use your buttons as a template to cut small circles of contrasting felt. Hold the button against the felt and cut round it leaving a narrow border which will "frame" your button. Once you've cut one circle this way you can use it as the template to cut a matching one for the other button. Repeat for the second pair of buttons. Lay all your pieces onto the wing shape to check you're happy with your design.


Using matching thread, sew on the narrow body shape and the felt circles (using contrasting thread for the circles can work quite nicely in adding an extra bit of decorative detail).


One by one, position each button as close to the centre of its felt circle as possible and sew it on securely (this is much quicker if you use a double thickness of thread).


Now take your second wing shape, and sew on your brooch back or safety pin. To attach a safety pin neatly just cut a small rectangle of felt to match your brooch, place it over the pin (make sure the part which you use for pinning remains free!) and sew it securely in place. I used to do this all the time when I first started making brooches, the one pictured is one of my early felt flower brooches.


Finally, put the front and back pieces together and sew them together with matching thread - either with plain stitches or whip stitching around the edges. This is easiest if you start at the side of one wing instead of near the middle. And that's it! Easy, huh? Why not make lots and have a whole group of butterflies fluttering across your sweater...

Of course, I do love a good design variation ... so here's a way to use this pattern even if you don't have any buttons. Instead of a button with a framing circle of felt, cut lots of little circles of felt and layer them - cut the smallest circle first and use this as a template as described above for cutting "framing" circles.


Sew on the narrow body piece and then use contrasting thread to attach the circles. I held each trio of circles in place and stitched through all three at once starting in the middle and moving outwards like a spiral.

You can play around with the stitches a little if you like to add some more detail, as I did with the second set of circles.

For extra variations on this design you could try sewing sequins or small beads in the centre of the circles for a bit of sparkle. Then just attach a brooch back or safety pin as before and sew the front and back together and wear your creation with pride!


Double click on the pattern sheet to view it full size and print:
This tutorial is for non commercial use only: you can use it for as many brooches as you like for yourself or as gifts for friends but please don't make any for sale. 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 tutorial on your site. Thanks!

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Saturday 17 January 2009

On the Home Front: Doorstops

I have been a bit obsessed with doorstops lately... Since we moved in the door into the kitchen has been propped open with large tins of beans! Not classy. I just couldn't find any that I liked, or which were large and hefty enough to cope with the doors in our house and have become increasingly obsessed with tracking down something suitable.

So when a local shop was closing down and selling off some large blocks of oak they've been using in their displays I snapped a couple up (and made the boyfriend carry them home).
I'm sure they won't be to everyone's taste but I'm rather in love with them, and they do the job beautifully. Here's the one in the kitchen: I still have a few more doors that need stopping, so all recommendations would be welcome! Ideas for things that could be used as doorstops are what I'm most interested in as I really like the idea of using slightly unconventional things, or something which is just nice to have on display in its own right used as a function object. For example in one bedroom our current doorstop is a vintage suitcase (filled with clothes that need mending! haha) that used to belong to my grandmother:

Friday 16 January 2009

Lovely Colour

Thanks so much for all the sweet comments about my new website everyone! Your support is much appreciated - special thanks to the kind people who have actually bought things!

If you do make a purchase please note that the postage rates are currently set a little high - I will be doing my best to make them more accurate over the next few days but in the meantime anyone who is overcharged shipping will get a refund once their order has shipped.

The cute heart and leaf pins have already sold out, but they will (fingers crossed) be back in stock next week. When they arrive I'll be sure to mention it here on the blog :)

Later today I will be adding the following bits and pieces to the supplies section...

UPDATE: they are now all in the shop!

Ric Rac in bright tropical colours:Classic gingham ribbon bundles:
And a rather delicious assortment of embroidery thread, in 36 different colours:A set of those has gone straight into my stash and I can't wait to use them - I'm feeling so inspired by embroidery at the moment and am in love with so many of those colours. Don't be surprised if you see lots of new things with embroidered details on the blog in the next few months!

Thursday 15 January 2009

I Have a New Website! Hurrah!

I've finally finished setting up my new website - - and though a few of the pages are looking a bit empty I'm delighted to announce that it's open for business and you can now buy from me direct from my own little online shop! Eee!! (Can you tell I am a bit excited about this?)

The shop will gradually be filling up with my designs as I restock after Christmas, and includes an entire section of craft supplies. My old favourite, the 60 mini felt squares are there ... but I'm also selling lots of felt and other crafty goodies that won't be for sale in any of my other outlets including lovely bundles of 9 inch / 23cm squares in assorted colours...

Hard-to-find soft pastels:
Pretty pinks and purples:
Lovely blues and greens:
Earthy, natural tones:
And a choice of "modern" or "primary" brights:I'll be adding to my range gradually over the next few weeks as soon as I get the chance to get things photographed and pesky things like postage worked out ... including bundles of 60 full-sized felt squares, a rainbow assortment of embroidery thread (photos coming soon!) and some of the lovely pins that arrived with my giant supplies order yesterday:
My favourite has to be the heart-shaped ones - they're just so cute!
UPDATE: pins are now in stock!

Wednesday 14 January 2009

I Need a Bigger House

Look what a lovely courier delivered this afternoon!
So much yummy felt! Plus lots of other colourful supplies that I am rather excited about unpacking - I have so many schemes for these already!).

Sorting this lot out beats paperwork and tax returns hands down - all that colour is so wonderful on a dull winter's day - but I think I might need to buy a few more boxes to store it all in!

Gosh that was a lot of exclamation marks, wasn't it?

Tuesday 13 January 2009

Votes Tallied, plus A Quick Survey

First up, a big Thankyou! to everyone who voted for my Credit Crunch Sampler in Folksy's Make the News competition and who posted such nice comments here and on Flickr. I came 4th (yay!) and I've also been chuffed to see my sampler popping up on a few blogs including Craft:zine and the always delightful I Like.

Secondly, if you have a spare moment and are interested in supplies like bobby pins, brooch backs and lovely glass beads like these...
... please help out my lovely friend Alice of SnapdragonBeads... She has just opened a new supplies shop on Etsy called The Happy Crafter and is running a survey on what to stock this year. You can take the survey here and if you're an Etsy member use your etsy username when you fill out the survey and Alice will give you 10% off your first order in 2009.

Monday 12 January 2009

Lots of Pictures

I am a bit bogged down with admin at the moment - I submitted my tax return at the weekend (due Jan 31st here in the UK, so finished in plenty of time: hurrah!) and am currently working through a giant pile of paper that needs filing. So, no crafty updates at the moment but I hope to be back sewing things soon!

In the meantime, I'd like to share some snaps of all the picture-hanging we've been doing recently :)

In our kitchen I finally framed and hung the awesome bird prints I bought from Geninne ...
... alongside a poster from Present and Correct and some vintage lovelies: advertising posters for British stamps (originally displayed in my granparents' village Post Office) and pages from a 1950s manual on how to be a good housewife that were just too awesome to hide away. The illustrations are of "How to Eat Wisely", "How to Sweep Clean" and "How to Kill the Fatted Calf" and are quite deliciously retro. Another of the walls in the kitchen looks like this:
Lots of Etsy purchases and other finds, including (right at the top) a lush vintage postcard of some lupins sent to me by the lovely Bombus. On the other side of the deliciously retro wall cabinet I've squeezed in prints and postcards by (from top) Alice Stevenson, Kate Wilson Angie Lewin and Hazel Nicholls:Our bathroom is a bit more sedate - nice sensible black and white prints! A Wedgwood blue and white bathroom with pictures of ships everywhere? Rather a cliche I know but it does look nice...I adore old ships and tales of explorers... and oh how I love that door!

We're starting to run out of wall space a little (though I have plenty more pictures that have no home!) so several have been squeezed into little corners like these at the top of the stairs...
(another vintage bit of stamp advertising, plus artwork by LittleRobot) and these (postcards by the always awesome Tom Gauld) in our hallway: