Friday 31 December 2010

My Year in Review

2010 has just flown by, and it's been jam-packed with crafty goodness....

January was pretty quiet as I took some time off after Christmas, and then managed to get ill just as I was due to re-open my shops! Excellent timing, I'm sure you'll agree. I did find time to make a New Year's Resolution (more about this tomorrow!), drank lots of tea from these awesome "I love my local Post Office" mugs and designed my first tutorial of 2010 for some cute owl brooches.

In February I did lots of admin (this crafty business lark doesn't just involve sewing, more's the pity!), got excited about traditional crafts, listened to lots of Agatha Christie mysteries, and shared a bit about my creative process.

March featured lots of springtime crafting - tutorials to design your own flower brooches & butterfly napkin rings, and a custom project involving lots of pretty spring colours (plus some not entirely seasonal snowy owls). I also finally got around to ordering some colourful business cards to send out with my orders. I've got through quite a few since then!

April was quite busy - I joined a knitting club, made some political brooches, stitched a custom abstract mobile, was visited by my very first work experience student, and set myself the challenge to completely clear out my work-in-progress boxes (embarassingly, there's still a few things lurking in there unfinished but I did clear out almost everything!) I also bought some awesome pink shoes :)

It was lovely and sunny in May (we had a great summer this year - I've never had so many opportunities to wear pretty summer dresses!). Inbetween eating ice lollies I met up with some Etsy friends, was on the local radio talking about our knitting club, got a mention in Make Jewellery magazine, made another custom mobile, and made a summer skirt from a lovely-but-damaged vintage dress.

I made a real effort to take a bit of time off over the summer. It's hard to take proper breaks running an online business (the internet never sleeps!) but the summer is always a slow time, so I took the opportunity to work a bit less and get outside to enjoy the sunshine as much as possible... so things were a little quiet on the crafting front.

In June I reorganised my stash thanks to some new boxes, went to a knitting picnic, got inspired by summer flowers, and was totally thrilled when a customer of mine sent me photos of my corsages being worn at her wedding. I also had tea with the Queen! :)

In July I finally designed some proper packaging for my handmade items, oohed over some yummy vintage yarn and rainbows of felt, worked on some secret projects, 'fessed up to the crafty chaos taking over my lounge... and Fa La La La Felt was published, containing four projects by me (my mum is very proud).

August was filled with comfort crafting, some pretty dull mending, and more secret sewing. One of my projects was also published in a sewing calendar, and I went to a lovely exhibition of quilts by local crafters (so inspiring!).

In September I learned some new knitting techniques, wrote my first book review (I hope you've been enjoying these - I've got a few more fun books waiting to be reviews in the New Year!) and gave myself a DIY haircut. I also had an interview and tutorial published in Cloth magazine and wrote a tutorial for a felt argyle cushion, which is possibly my favourite thing of all the things I've made this year and still makes me smile every time I see it on our sofa!

I blogged about giant stamps in October and was delighted to discover it's not just me who loves the Royal Mail's new postal labels! I also sewed lots of buttons on a sweater, made a big pile of notecards, started a personal project to give away 100 things in the run up to Christmas, and tidied up my sewing supplies.

November was perhaps my best month ever for press with a mention in Sew magazine, a tutorial in Sew Hip and an interview in Popular Crafts (all very exciting!). The new series of Kirstie's Homemade Home started and I really wasn't too impressed (though I think the series got better as it went along), I wrapped gifts with yarn and baubles, photographed my collection of gorgeous vintage threads, ordered some thankyou notes to send out with my parcels, made lots of sparkly flowers, and added snowy owls to my range of ornaments.

Finally, in December I've been pretty busy meeting last Christmas posting deadlines and trying to keep warm in the coldest weather I've ever experienced. The spiky hoar frost was really beautiful but temperatures of -11 are no fun (especially when you're not used to them!) and the bad weather here in the UK has been playing havoc with the postal system, which is always stressful when you run an online business.

Inbetween packing parcels and wearing woolly hats indoors, I've stitched together a giant blanket, given my embroidery thread stash a new home in a yummy festive tin, worked on yet more secret projects, and finished my 100 things challenge. I also got an early Christmas present in the form of a surprise mention in the Metro, which was really rather thrilling.

Thanks so much to everyone who's supported my little business this year! If you've bought something from my shops or left me comments on my blog/Flickr/etc. thankyou thankyou thankyou you are all awesome xxx

Thursday 30 December 2010

Felt Trim Winner

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas! We had a nice quiet few days with some good food, and I've spent several evenings curled up on the sofa watching murder mystery adaptations. I wasn't at all impressed by the M.R. James adaptation and thought the new episode Poirot was a bit dull but I've been rather loving the new Marples... and I've nearly finished sewing together that big blanket, hurrah.

Although I'm taking a proper break from my shops for a few weeks, it's back to work for me now... I'm currently surrounded by a big pile of paperwork as I'm tackling my tax return and getting my accounts up to date so I can start the year feeling all organised and efficient. This is all very dull but on the upside, there are lots of nice coloured pens involved :D

Down to business: the winner of the yellow felt trim is... twigletqueen!

Lots of people asked if I could share the source of this trim, but unfortunately I bought it from a wholesaler who now no longer sells it. If they ever have more, I'll try and get some to add to my shop :)

Thursday 23 December 2010

A Winter Project

How is it so nearly Christmas? how?? I swear it comes round quicker every year...

I'll be taking a few days off from blogging, but I'll be back very soon I promise :)

I am trying not to think about all the festive making and baking and decorating I've not had a chance to do this year, and instead I'm relaxing in front of lots of great movies and keeping my crafty fingers busy with a big project - sewing a huge pile of knitted squares into a giant double-bed-sized blanket:

I think this may be the perfect winter project, especially when you're sewing sections together and you get a bit buried in lovely cosy yarn!

Have a lovely festive season everyone xxx

Monday 20 December 2010

Tea Time

I've been treating myself to a few things on my Etsy wish list lately as early Christmas-presents-to-myself :)

I've blogged before about my teatowel addiction, so it should come as no great surprise to learn I bought a couple of new teatowels from the teatowel queen, Heather of Skinny laMinx. Heather's teatowels dry up so well, and I just couldn't resist her new teacup design (image borrowed from the Skinny laMinx shop).

With tea-love on the brain, I also bought this cute little teapot clock from Decoylab.

I've wanted to buy one of their clocks for ages but ummed and ahhed over which one to buy... but when it came to it, it had to be the teapot. Now it will always be time for tea!

Sunday 19 December 2010

December Giveaway: Felt Trim

It's been so dark here lately... a bit of sunshine is definitely needed!

So, this month I'm giving away a roll of bright sunny yellow felt trim in a pretty butterfly and flower design.

I bought a couple of rolls of this for my own crafting earlier this year, and it got so many nice comments I thought it would make a great prize :)

The trim is 20cm (8inches) wide, and over 2 metres long. There is ONE pack available.

As always, I'm happy to ship internationally, so anyone can enter. Just leave a comment on this blog post for a chance to win!

Leave your comment before 10pm on Wednesday 29th December and
I'll pick a winner at random on Thursday 30th December.

Please make sure you leave a name or pseudonym (no anonymous comments please!) and be sure to come back to see if you got picked.

UPDATE: this giveaway is now closed.

Saturday 18 December 2010

Lovely Post

I got a great Christmas card this week from the talented Alice Melvin:

A cut out and make angel decoration! So sweet.

You can see Alice's range of prints, books and crafty products over in her shop. I especially love her bird-themed stuff, like this mobile...

... and this poster which was one of the first things I bought this year :)

PS - Remember I'm closing up shop for the holidays tomorrow morning, so this is your last chance to place an order in 2010 (my shops will re-open on 17th January).

UPDATE: all my shops are now closed! :)

Friday 17 December 2010

Stylish Storage

One awesome Christmas tin designed by Sanna Annukka, minus lots of yummy cookies (they were delicious!), equals a new storage box for my embroidery supplies:

Thursday 16 December 2010

A very nice surprise

One of my bird brooches popped up in an unexpected place yesterday - in the Christmas gift guide in the Metro.
Metro is a free newspaper for commuters in 16 UK cities - 1.3 million copies are distributed every weekday! (1.3 million! eek!).

As part of their Christmas gift guide, they featured one of my lovely stockists All Things Original and included my Goldfinch brooch in their selection.

The first I heard about this was a mystery flurry of orders, and kind messages from people saying they'd spotted one of my brooches in the paper. Very exciting stuff!

Wednesday 15 December 2010

Super Biscuits

We're finishing up our Christmas shopping at the moment, tracking down the last few things for those hard-to-buy-for people...

A trip to our local deli helped tick a few people off the list, and as they're people who don't use the internet (and probably wouldn't read my blog even if they did) I can share some pics of some of the lovely biccies we've bought as gifts.

The Owl & the Pussycat biscuits!

And George & the Dragon biscuits! In a moneybox tin!

The biscuits are even shaped to match the illustrations - how cute?!

It will take a lot of willpower not to keep these for myself! If you want a pack of your own, the whole range is available HERE.

Tuesday 14 December 2010

Woollen Goodness

Look what the postie delivered yesterday - a big pile of yummy needlefelted felt sheets!

They've been made from two shades of wool, which then blend together during the needlefelting process. The result is thick, soft, textured felt in some fantastic rich colours.

I bought them from Woolly Gathering on Etsy while browsing for something completely different... (does this happen to anyone else when shopping on Etsy?) I just couldn't resist those colours and the prospect of experimenting with a different kind of felt.

(P.S. sorry if you've seen this pop up in your blog reader yesterday - bit of a hiccup when scheduling this post!)

Monday 13 December 2010

Keeping Secrets

I'm working on lots of projects at the moment that are TOP SECRET.

Well, perhaps that's a bit over dramatic... but I can't show them to you yet, anyway!

So instead, here's a peek at a few of the things I've been sewing with lately, including some fab silver embroidery thread:

Saturday 11 December 2010

Lovely Birdies

Check out these adorable birdies by illustrator Lisa Rupp:

She's sweetly offering them as a free download, so you can print them out and use them as ornaments or gift tags. Click here to visit her blog and download the printables (image by Lisa Rupp; via Creature Comforts).

Wednesday 8 December 2010

Winter Weather

The UK is in the middle of a cold snap at the moment - we've not had much snow round here but it's been sooo cold! (I am actually typing this while wearing a very fetching woolly hat).

I've been staying indoors wrapped up warm as much as possible, but I just had to brave the cold yesterday to take some photos as everything was covered in the most amazing hoar frost, like waking up in Narnia:

It's much milder today (and much less foggy) so the world looks a lot less sparkly and magical - I'm very glad my hastily snapped pics turned out okay!

Tuesday 7 December 2010

Two weeks to go...

... until my shops close for Christmas!

I'm taking a few weeks off this year - to recharge my batteries after this busy season, and to catch up on work for other projects that have been a bit neglected during all this packing and posting of parcels!

My shops will all be closed from 19th December to 16th January... so if there's something you've got your eye on or there are any supplies you want for crafting in the new year, order now! :)

Sunday 5 December 2010

My 100 Things Challenge

In October I mentioned that I'd set myself a festive challenge to give away 100 things in the run up to Christmas.... and I've almost finished! Hurrah!

I didn't keep strictly to the "one thing a day" process, but I did set myself the rule that I had to genuinely give away 100 things, not just get rid of them - things had to be given to friends or neighbours or one of our local charity shops, not just thrown away, as the main point of the exercise was giving not decluttering.

I'm up to #96 now - a set of number cookie cutters which I've never used in the 6 or 7 years I've owned them (I don't have photos of the other 95 items I've got rid of, so snaps of the cookie cutters will have to do!)

I have been keeping a list though...

So far I've given away: 15 books I don't want to reread (or never read in the first place), 4 CDs by bands I no longer like, and one tape of an album I liked so much I seem to have bought it twice, 3 films I don't want to watch again, 10 audiobooks I've since bought on CD or didn't enjoy enough to keep them, 4 blouses, 2 cardigans, 6 jumpers, 2 t-shirts, a dress, a pair of trousers and 5 skirts (all of which I've not worn for years), 2 dresses that shrank in the wash and no longer fit, a dress, a jacket and a cardigan that all never really suited me, some vintage kids books I bought to cut up for a craft project and never had the heart to, some lovely old maps (ditto), 4 plant pots in strange sizes, an ugly ornament someone bought us as a gift, a random fridge magnet, 8 spare mugs, a coffee set we never use, a decorative dish and plate I don't like that much any more, a santa hat I bought to use as a photo prop, 2 notebooks I've got no use for, a decorative hook I don't want to hang anywhere, 3 sets of writing paper I'll never use, a colouring book leftover from colouring in parties at University (what wild times!), some brooches I've never worn, a silk scarf in a very unflattering colour, a spare sewing kit, an unused sewing box, an old film camera, 2 bags I don't use, an assortment of bedlinen for a spare bed we no longer own, a big pile of fabric which a neighbour gave me when they moved and which a friend is now putting to good use making curtains for her new house... and those cookie cutters.


I know I said the point of this wasn't specifically to declutter but gosh it's made a difference getting rid of all those things, especially as the boyfriend was inspired by my clearout to have one of his own so even more stuff has left our house over the past few weeks.

I'm really glad I set myself the bigger challenge of 100 things this year instead of my usual 30 or so in the run up to Christmas. The first few dozen things were dead easy to clear out (even though I do this every year and we frequently donate things to our local charity shop) but it's got increasingly difficult to find "obvious" things I can easily do without. The process of finding things I don't need any more has really made me think about why I keep the things I keep, and about my shopping habits.

I will never ever ever be a minimalist. I like having a house full of colour and pattern and vintage treasures and sentimental trinkets and family heirlooms and things which just make me happy because they're beautiful. But I do want my posessions to earn their place in my home, and to have a house filled with wonderful things rather than clutter. I'm also definitely going to be thinking twice before buying anything new - will I be clearing it out again next Christmas thinking "what did I buy this for??"

Now, time to find those last four things...

Saturday 4 December 2010

Fantastic Feather Fleck

Oh my goodness, how gorgeous is this vintage Jaeger yarn?

We found two skeins of it in a bag of yarn donated to our knitting club... and I just had to bring it home to take photos of its loveliness!

I love how the label perfectly matches the delicious minty shade of the yarn (shade #222, "Mint").

Friday 3 December 2010

Show and Tell #6

It's been a while since my last Show & Tell post, so I've got lots of awesome things made by my customers to show off...

Jenny used felt from my shop to make lovely leaf table names for her wedding:

Sara of Hey Pais Comics used her felt to make cute cat cameo brooches:

Meredith of Fix Design has been making pretty felt kits:

Stephanie of Naturally Heart Felt made fun felt cup cosies:

Deb of Pipistrelle used some of my super huge wooden buttons on her fab crochet bags:

Marcela used her felt to make incredibly detailed brooches:

Vicky used the small squares in my 60 Mini Squares felt pack to make a colourful birthday banner:

And Maura of Mgealach made a series of charming embroidered pictures using my mini embroidery hoops as frames:

You can see more lovely stuff made by my talented customers by checking out all the show and tell posts here. Want to show off what you've been making? Get in touch!

P.S. please respect the work of my customers as you do mine, and don't copy their designs :)