Tuesday 31 December 2013

Looking Back at 2013 (part two)

So, what did I get up to in the second half of 2013?

In July I knitted lots of hats for the Big Knit, stitched together some blankets, cut out abstract shapes and stitched lots of felt birds. I wrote a crafty To Do list (much of which still isn't ticked off), added some new things to my shop, and shared tutorials for making lucky pants badges and iced biscuit brooches. I also decided to do some decluttering, and started my second Less 365 Project.



I re-designed my tutorial pages in August and shared new tutorials for making jammy biscuit brooches, leaf cards, ribbon scrap cards and felt crowns. I ticked things off lists including finishing all my little hats, sewing together a blanket and making some owl masks. I showed off my childhood badge collection, resolved to try and read more books and was thrilled when a box of copies of my new book was delivered.

I also visited the Festival of Quilts and had such a lovely, inspiring day that I decided to try and have a Nice Day Out once a week. In August I saw Kensington Gardens and lots of butterflies, and walked along the Victoria Embankment and visited the National Galleries.



My new book, Super-Cute Felt Animals, came out in September and I shared lots of fun extra tutorials to celebrate: a snake, a tropical tree, a sun, a starfish, some shells and a couple of ducks. I decided to make another big change to my business and take a break from selling handmade things. I also finished some blankets, organised my book reviews page, bought some fabric and started a new knitting project.

For my nice days out I took trips to Reading, Notting Hill and Oxford Street.



My series of free tutorials to celebrate my new book continued in October, with an apple tree, a bumblebee, a ladybird, a leaf and daisy, a cactus, a hamster and a heart and a pair of blackbirds. I started a (still ongoing!) series of posts about how to write craft tutorials for your blog, did some cross stitching, shared a tutorial for making eyeball buttons, photographed my finally finished sky blanket and blogged about a felt brooch tutorial I wrote for Tesco Living.

I also completed the first 3 months of my Less 365 Project, and blogged about all the books I'd been reading lately (so glad I resolved to find the time to read more and have been managing to stick at it!). And I went on Nice Days Out to Windsor and Eton, Cookham and Marlow, and the Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace.



In November I organised the Crafty Christmas Tutorial Link-Up with 30 other bloggers - my tutorial was an embroidered mistletoe ornament. I worked on some secret projects, wrote a guide to making a sky blanket, blogged about my project from Mollie Makes: Woodland Friends, and shared a pattern for making a cross stitch snow globe plus instructions for turning it into a felt bauble.

I also bought an Art Pass to help save money on my Nice Days Out and went to the British Museum, toured lots of London galleries with a friend, and visited the Renegade Craft Fair



Then in December I continued my series on how to write tutorials, shared some of the lovely things people have been making with my supplies, patterns and tutorials, tidied up my thread stash and shared some free embroidery patterns and a tutorial for making felt snow globe ornaments. I also got a new lamp for my studio, did a book sighing, blogged about books I've been reading and some much loved books from my childhood, and did some last minute knitting.

Plus I tried to squeeze in lots of Nice Days Out before the year ended, with trips to some London exhibitions, a local craft fair and a couple of museums, the V&A Museum of Childhood & the BUST Christmas Craftacular... and a couple more days I've not yet blogged about :)


I hope you've enjoyed reading my blog this year and that you'll stick around in 2014! I have lots of crafty things planned for next year, I can't wait to get started.

Monday 30 December 2013

Looking Back at 2013 (part one)

Oh 2013, I can hardly believe you are almost over.

With all these days, weeks and months having zipped by so fast it's great to be able to look back at my blog and think "oh yes, that's what I got up to this year!"...

January was spent working on my new book (which was still a secret) and trying to come up with things to blog about when I couldn't talk about what I was spending most of my days working on! There were a lot of posts about felt scraps and threads this month. 

The Woodlands issue of &Stitches Zine was published, including an interview with me and a wren embroidery pattern I designed. I did sketches for some new projects, bought some index cards to help me better organise my crafty ideas, did a bit of simple crafting in the evenings after work, and knitted the last square of my sky blanket. Oh, and it snowed! Which was rather nice.



In February I finished working on my book, destashed lots of craft supplies, stuck pictures in my "inspiration" scrapbooks, blogged about positivity, shared a tutorial for a tea-themed Valentine's Day card and was kept company by my studio assistant (a.k.a. my parents cat).



There were big changes in March as I decided to stop selling felt squares and other craft supplies, I did lots of thinking about work and the shelves in my studio slowly emptied. I made dozens of felt buttons, organised my archive of crafty photos and made lots of photo mosaics.



In April I shared the cover of my new book, designed a cross stitch sampler, got super-organised and put my magazine clippings in neat folders and had a couple of crafty flashbacks. I also stitched lots of owls (which are still in my WIP box - oh dear!), finished sewing lots and lots of cherry blossoms and created a photobook with six years of crafty photos.



May brought lovely sunshine (perfect for knitting in the garden) and some very good news. I proofread my book, reviewed lots of craft books, knitted squares from leftover sky blanket yarn, blogged about my projects from So Pretty, Felt!, and worked on some secret projects including one that involved yummy glass beads.



Then in June I bought a pinboard for my studio (I now don't know how I ever managed without one!), worked on lots of blue projects and blogged about my projects from Made in Felt and Mollie Makes: Feathered Friends. The cats kept me company while I stitched and blogged!



My look back at 2013 continues tomorrow :)

UPDATE: My wren embroidery pattern is now available in my shop, and the pattern for sewing those cherry blossoms is coming soon! Visit my shop to see all my printable PDF patterns

Saturday 28 December 2013

Christmas Presents To Myself

Did you get anything nice for Christmas? I got some lovely gifts, but I also decided to treat myself...

Most of the money I got paid to write Super-Cute Felt Animals is earmarked for boring but important stuff like paying bills (the joys of being a grown-up, eh?) but I wanted to buy myself something nice as a little celebration / pat on the back for getting all that work done this time last year.

I thought what could be more appropriate than using some of the money I earned writing a book to buy some books?

It was tricky deciding what to buy, but in the end I mostly plumped for books by makers, artists and bloggers whose whose work I've been admiring / blogs I've been reading for years and years.  

Decorate by Holly Becker & Joanna Copestick

Embroidery Companion by Alicia Paulson

Quilt Improv by Lucie Summers

Design Sponge at Home by Grace Bonney

Making an Impression by Geninne D. Zlatkis

Make Hey! While the Sun Shines by Pip Lincolne (regular readers may remember that I bought this a few months ago, but I've been saving it for the holidays!)

and Scandinavian Stitches by Kajsa Wikman.

I also bought a copy of Homeward Bound by Emily Matchar. I've read soooo many blog posts and articles discussing this book since it came out in the spring, I thought it was high time I actually read it for myself!

Friday 27 December 2013

Black & White & Pastels

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas (if that's something you celebrate!).

After a couple of "proper" days off I'm slowly getting back into doing some work. I have a looming deadline, so over the next few days I'll be doing the sewing for that while watching some festive telly and working my way through the black & white section of my DVD collection...

I can't show you what I'm working on, but here are some of the threads I'm using: lots of pretty pastels!

Monday 23 December 2013

Last Minute Crafting

Have you made any Christmas gifts this year? I made one - a pair of grey & blue wristwarmers for my sister, knitted with some of the yarn I had left over from knitting my sky blanket.

Unfortunately, crafty disaster stuck a few days ago: I managed to snip a hole in one of the wristwarmers while I was sewing it up! It couldn't be rescued and I didn't have any more yarn left to knit a replacement. Oops. (Top tip: if you make a mistake because you're tired, don't try and fix that mistake with scissors when you're still tired. It probably won't end well).

I decided to take this as a sign from the universe that the wristwarmers were insufficiently awesome, so I went to John Lewis to buy some new, more awesome yarn:

It has sparkly silver bits in it! Woohoo!

Fingers crossed I can get the new pair knitted in time for Christmas morning :)

Friday 20 December 2013

This Time Last Year

This time last year, I was working on my new book, Super-Cute Felt Animals. Exciting times! :)


I cut out lots of felt...
... did lots of stitching with colourful thread...


... and worked my way through a To Do list that was so big  it was actually a To Do chart:

I designed and stitched lots of felt animals...

... I took over the coffee table in the lounge so I could sew while watching all the old movies on over the holidays...

... and the cats helped! (well, they kept me company while I sketched and stitched and scribbled).

Thanks to everyone who's bought a copy so far and/or said kind things, you are all awesome xxx

You can read more about Super-Cute Felt Animals HERE and find a whole series of fun free tutorials to accompany the book HERE

Thursday 19 December 2013

Penguin Embroidery Pattern

PLEASE NOTE: this project will be removed from my blog at the end of May, after which it will be available as part of a printable pattern from my shops. Please make a copy of the pattern if you'd like to save a free copy before then! :)

My shop is now semi-closed for the holidays!

I'll still be emailing any digital sewing patterns purchased from my shop (and patterns are still available as instant downloads over in my Etsy shop) but I won't be posting any parcels for a few weeks. Shipping will resume the week beginning 6th January when there will be a special sale happening :)

In other news... as promised, I've got one more little free embroidery pattern to share: a cute little penguin!

Click here to view the template sheet in another tab or window, then print it at 100%.

I think this little fella would look great stitched in black (using backstitch) with pops of orange (for the feet & beak) and red (for the bow tie), but you can, of course stitch your penguin any way you fancy! The finished design fits in a 4 inch embroidery hoop.

Happy stitching :)

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Wednesday 18 December 2013

Book Review: A Swedish Christmas

I don't know about you guys but I am really starting to get into the festive spirit. I've been wrapping gifts, writing cards, listening to some of my favourite Christmas songs while I've been working and watching lots of cheesy made-for-TV Christmas movies.

So I am definitely in the mood for today's book review: A Swedish Christmas: Simple Scandinavian Crafts, Recipes and Decorations by Caroline Wendt & Pernilla Wastberg.

There is lots of festive goodness inside this book, which is translated from the original Swedish.

It's a nice hardback, with lovely matte paper pages and pretty polkadot end papers...

... and lots of lovely photos! (I also love the handwritten-look of that font).


In an age when craft books have to compete with a vast sea of free online content found on blogs and via Pinterest, this stuff is very important, I think! A book that's nicely designed from cover to cover and is a pleasure to hold in your hands and look at = something print-outs from blogs just can't match.

There are lots of different projects / festive crafting ideas crammed into the book's 128 pages - 60 by my count, although that does include some variations. They're divided into five chapters: Enjoy the Festive Feast!, Time to Relax, December in Bloom, Around the Christmas Tree, & The Great Outdoors!

Lots of different crafts are included in the book, e.g: baking, stenciling, crochet, knitting, sewing and flower arranging. There are lots of different materials used too - fabric and yarn, of course, but also moss, tin cans, beads, wire, nail polish and even (in the case of this rather cool gingerbread man pot stand) cement!


As you'd expect from a book with so many project ideas, lots of the projects are quite simple with just a few steps of instructions... though there are a few with more detailed instructions, like the ones involving knitting and crochet.

But craft projects don't need to be complicated to be good ideas and fun to make! I particularly love this idea for creating a "Christmas tree" from an arrangement of pine branches and baubles:

These little elf cocktail sticks are also seriously cute!

There are a definitely projects in here that I am never going to make - I am, for example, never going to cover a stool with moss to use it as a garden ornament, and I am not going to make a bird feeder from a heart-shaped arrangement of red apples.

But there are lots of things I really want to try, like these awesome knitted plant pot covers (which I think would make great additions to plants you're giving as gifts but would also be a fab way to add some "winter cheer" to your space without having "Christmas" stuff everywhere)...

... these pretty, wrapped home-baked candy bars...


 ...  and these lovely little ice lanterns (though I'm not sure how long they'd last in the not-always-that-cold English winter?)


Overall, I think this is a really nice book with a good mix of quick and more complex projects, lots of different crafts to choose from and a "something for everyone" style that ranges from cute to stylish, and from quirky & fun to traditional. 

A Swedish Christmas: Simple Scandinavian Crafts, Recipes and Decorations by Caroline Wendt & Pernilla Wastberg is published by Floris Books. RRP £14.99. It's available from Amazon UK, Amazon USA, The Book Depository and many other bookshops. You can also get 20% off copies bought directly from Floris Books with the discount code LUPIN13 (discount expires 31st December 2013)

[Disclaimer: Floris Books sent me a free review copy of this book. The Amazon & Book Depository links in this post are affiliate links]

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Christmas Pudding Embroidery Pattern

Yesterday I shared an embroidery pattern for two little snowmen. Today, I'm sharing a free pattern for a  sweet and simple Christmas pudding...

Click here to view the template sheet in another tab or window, then print it at 100%.

I'm thinking about stitching this design in white (using backstitch) on a colourful felt background (something festive like red or green) but you can, of course stitch your Christmas pudding any way you fancy! The design fits in a 4 inch embroidery hoop.

Enjoyed this free pattern? Buy me a "coffee" and help support my blog!

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Subscribe to my newsletter for a monthly free pattern and visit my crafty tutorial archive for lots more free projects.

Visit my shop to buy my printable PDF sewing patterns:

Monday 16 December 2013

Snowmen Embroidery Patterns

So... my books signing ended up being a little quiet! It was lovely to chat to the people who did come by, but it was a bit of a slow day.

Luckily I was able to take advantage of the quieter patches to do some brainstorming for new Christmas designs - the wonderful choir performing carols a few metres away from where I was based definitely helped get those festive creative juices flowing! I also handed out lots of projects sheets, which I hope will help people get crafty this Christmas :)

One of the sheets I handed out was full of festive embroidery patterns, including the mistletoe and angel designs I've shared here on my blog. I also included some simple Christmas designs that I'm planning on stitching as part of a series of embroidered felt ornaments.

Once I've (eventually) had a chance to stitch them I'll be sharing the whole set with you guys but in the meantime I thought you'd enjoy the few I included on my pattern sheet at the weekend.

I'll be sharing two more designs later this week but first: some snowmen!

Click here to view the template sheet in another tab or window. Make sure you're viewing it full size then print it at 100%.

I'm thinking about stitching this design in white (using backstitch) on a colourful felt background (something festive like red or green) but you can, of course stitch your snowmen any way you fancy! Each snowman fits inside a 4 inch embroidery hoop, though I would prefer to use a slightly larger hoop when stitching these.

Enjoyed this free pattern? Buy me a "coffee" and help support my blog!

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Subscribe to my newsletter for a monthly free pattern and visit my crafty tutorial archive for lots more free projects.

Visit my shop to buy my printable PDF sewing patterns: