Wednesday 30 September 2015

#Crafting365 Days 16-23: Yarn Experiments, Festive Embroidery & Making Envelopes

Time for another #Crafting365 round-up!

It's slightly scary how quickly these photos are mounting up - but, of course, that's the whole point of this challenge, isn't it? The days zip by so fast and it's all too easy to let days and weeks go by without making space for creativity. But if you do make a bit of time each day to get your craft on it's amazing how much you can get done as the weeks roll by.

Day 16 was all about yarn. I did some more blanket square knitting (my current go-to project at the end of a long day) and had fun experimenting with leftover yarn scraps from previous projects. I love these colourful stripes!

On day 17, I looked in my box of "in progress" projects (a.k.a. a big box of half-finished stuff that has lain undisturbed for weeks, months and in a few cases years) to choose some projects to re-start. It was great to get this embroidered snowman finally finished about a year after starting it! If you want to stitch your own snowman, you'll find the pattern here.

On days 18 and 19, I worked on my floral cushion. The pale green thread in this photo is the thread I'm using to tack the felt flowers in place. They get pinned, then tacked with a few large stitches, then I remove the tacking threads once I've whip stitched the shape in position.

Here's how the cushion looked by the end of day 19:

I've now stitched flowers in each colour, and used up all the shapes I cut out at the start of my 365 challenge... but, as you can see, there's lots of space still to fill! So, I'll be cutting out a whole bunch more flowers soon.

Day 20 involved more simple knitting. I'm continuing to re-knit the wrong-sized squares for my happy rainbow blanket. The squares I made from this pink yarn were so big that I've got enough yarn left over from each re-knitted square to make a mini moss stitch square to add to my patchwork blanket. Knitting the moss stitch squares made a nice change from the endless knit knit knit of garter stitch!

On day 21, I stitched some more of the festive embroidery patterns I drew last year: a penguin and a Christmas pudding. These stitched motifs are going to become Christmas ornaments - fingers crossed they won't take me another year to complete.

I finished a letter to a friend on day 22 but realised I didn't have any envelopes, so I got out my scissors and made one:

I love making envelopes from magazine pages, it's an easy way to jazz up your letters and a great way to get another use for a magazine once you've read it. Plus it would be sad to just recycle these beautiful pages! Glossy magazine pages make excellent envelopes, especially now the Royal Mail have those postage stamps that are like stickers - they're much easier to stick to glossy paper than the kind you have to lick! (Those gorgeous autumnal photos = from the October issue of Harper's Bazaar)

Then yesterday (day 23) I did yet more simple-blanket-square-knitting, and got my paints out to test out some ideas for a new project. So much yummy colour...

Monday 28 September 2015

Tutorial: Make a Stitched Heart Keepsake Card

One of the tutorials I worked on for docrafts Creativity magazine is now available on their website - hurrah!

Click here to view the free tutorial for making this pretty embroidered card:

The card uses products from the Folk Floral range (so pretty!) including this lovely heart stamp:

Have you ever tried embroidering a design on card?

It's an interesting change from stitching on fabric and much easier than you might think!

Saturday 26 September 2015

2014: A Year of Making & Doing, part 2

Back in February, I wrote:

"Almost every year since I started my blog (2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, & 2008) I've done an end of year round-up, looking back at what I've been making and the ups and downs of the year. I'm never sure if anyone other than me is interested in these posts but I love them. It's great to get an overview of how my year has gone and to see just how much craftiness I've squeezed into 12 months - I am always pleasantly surprised by this!

However, I just didn't feel like doing one when the end of 2014 rolled round. "Who cares?" I thought. "They're such a faff! And no-one else is interested in reading them anyway! Why bother?" (I may have been feeling a bit burnt out at the end of December, can you tell?) So, I didn't do a year-in-review... but as the weeks have gone by I've started to regret not taking the time to pause and look back at what I'd got up to in the past year before I made a start on the new one.

So, better late than never, I am finally looking back on 2014!"

... and, well, that winter burnt out feeling might not have totally vanished by February because after blogging about the first six months of 2014 I totally failed to blog about the second half of the year. It's a time-consuming job looking through old posts for these round-ups and I was clearly lacking the necessary mojo to Just Get It Done.

Finally (finally) here's the long-promised round-up of what I got up to in the second half of 2014. This may be a weird thing to be blogging about in the autumn of 2015 but never mind! I'll be glad of it when looking back through my blog in future years and I hope you'll enjoy this trip down my crafty memory lane in spite of the weird timing :)

In July I did a bit more stitching on my cross stitch rose, started making a patchwork blanket with lots of mini moss stitch squares knitted from leftover yarn, and ummed an aaahed about how best to to arrange another patchwork blanket.

I wrote a guest post for &Stitches about my grandmother's sewing box, blogged at Oh My! Handmade Goodness about my Nice Days Out and the importance of scheduling some adventures, got a small mention in Craftseller magazine and celebrated Christmas in July with a felt penguin ornament tutorial.

I knitted more blanket squares, got caught up with my sky pompom making and got distracted from work by some visiting deer. I rediscovered the awesomeness of colouring in with a round-up of colouring books for grown ups, buying lots of colourful pens and pencils to colour with and spending some lovely lazy afternoons colouring. Of course I couldn't resist making some colour charts to test out all my new colours!

I shared some of the awesome things people have been making from my patterns, and started a new series showcasing the work of some awesome Crafty Ladies - beginning with cross-stitcher Sarah Fordham. I also blogged about my visits to the Handel House museum, a Hockney exhibition, MacCulloch & Wallis, St James's Park, the Guards Museum and the Making Colour exhibition at the National Gallery.

In August I felt a bit under the weather but had a pair of friendly kitties keeping me company while I put my feet up. I started stitching some gorgeous Christmas ornament kits by Alicia Paulson and started the third pattern in the trio of vintage floral embroideries I'd been working on (pansies!)

A couple of my projects (a sleepy kitty pincushion and a retro ragdoll) were published in Creativity magazine and snaps from one of my working days were featured over at Made by Mrs M. I shared some social media tips for makers, blogged about Crafty Ladies Georgina Giles, Mollie Johanson, Ginny Farquhar and Lucie Summers, and treated myself to a colourful Kona shade card to help me plan future projects. I also wrote about the many reasons why I love the Festival of Quilts, some of my highlights from the 2014 Festival and the yummy fabric and other bits and bobs I bought during my visit.

Making the most of the summer sunshine, I took some days off for Nice Days out - going to the &Stitches picnic, visiting Apsley House and Lucy Sparrow's awesome felt-filled corner shop, and doing some crafting at the V&A with Kirstie Allsopp to celebrate the launch of the Handmade Fair.

I also blogged about a trip to the amaaaazing Hampton Court, a very hot day in London (complete with bunnies!) and visiting the Grayson Perry tapestries at the Foundling Museum, the Matisse exhibition at Tate Modern and the Festival of Love on the Southbank

In September I confessed to having gone on a post-Festival-of-Quilts fabric shopping spree, and I ignored my To Do list (temporarily) to design and stitch a new embroidery pattern: Remember to be KIND to yourself.

I finished some of the Alicia Paulson ornaments, celebrated the one year anniversary of Super-Cute Felt Animals being published, slowly knitted more mini squares for my patchwork blanket and revealed the projects I designed for Felt-o-ween.

I was busy stitching lots of projects behind the scenes, including some autumnal tutorials. There were lots of scraps of felt and fabric piled about the place! I also finished stitching the pansies, completing the set of vintage flower embroidery patterns I'd been working on over the summer.

I reviewed Woodland Knits and featured the work of Crafty Ladies Liz Smith, Carina Envoldsen-Harris, Flora Jamieson and Stacey Trock. I blogged about a summer day out in Oxford and my visit to the poppies installation at the Tower of London (Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red).

I also wrote about my visit to the Handmade Fair (where I tried lino printing for the first time - lots of fun!) and about my visit to Blognix earlier in the year, confessing to an attack of impostor syndrome and not feeling like a "proper" blogger (I'd felt very nervous blogging about this but it turned out that my post rang bells with a lot of people!)

In October I was working on a bunch of book and magazine projects and shared some snaps of the crafty mess left behind. I took part in the Halloween Crafty Tutorial Link-Up, with a tutorial for making Halloween-y geometric felt coasters. I also shared how tos for making Halloween party invites, felt candy corn ornaments, large plush candy corn and beaded felt dahlia brooches.

I started a Christmas embroidery project and tried some new-to-me embroidery stitches (including some fancy stitches involving two shades of thread!). I bought Liberty prints for a secret project (so pretty!), and finally came up with a plan for my patchwork blanket (I decided to turn it into a happy rainbow blanket!) On my blog, I reviewed Fresh Prints and featured the work of Crafty Ladies Kirsty Neale, Genevieve Brading and Aimee Ray.

Two of the projects from my book were featured in the Handmade Toys bookazine. I also blogged about a few of my projects for Creativity magazine (a fabric bow, a glasses case and some mini fabric envelopes), my projects for Aimee Ray's book Doodle Stitching: The Holiday Motif Collection, and about being Crafter of the Month in Essentials magazine.

I spent a Nice Day Out at the Knitting & Stitching Show, oohing over all the crafty goodness. I also blogged about my visit to Portsmouth Harbour and the Mary Rose museum (so amazing) and my morning planting poppies as part of the installation at the Tower of London (so moving).

November was a bit deadline crazy! I blogged about needing deadline charts to help me manage my to do list as I juggled lots of different projects, and created lots of piles of colourful scraps along the way. I did a round-up of more awesome colouring books for grown ups and shared some festive tutorials for poinsettia brooches, geometric Christmas coasters and minimalist neon cards and tags

I organised a Crafty Christmas Tutorial Link-Up, and shared a how to for making retro photo Christmas cards. I also got to share some festive ornaments I'd designed for Tesco Living's website - Christmas candle ornaments, snowflake baubles and Christmas jumper ornaments.

I decorated my studio with some pretty postcards and blogged about a felt clutch and 3D floral picture I designed for Creativity magazine. I featured the work of Crafty Ladies Kaija Rantakari, Beth Foster and Ruth Singer and reviewed a 1000 Dot-to-Dot Book (which turned out to be enjoyably addictive and an excellent antidote to deadline-related stress!). I also blogged about buying some lovely Christmas fabric for a project which I started working on immediately and was stitching quite a lot during the rest of the winter (it's going to be a gift though so shhh, no more photos until it's finished!)

The deadline madness continued into December, and my blog got a bit quieter as I got my projects finished and posted and took some days off to meet up with friends and family for assorted bits of festive fun.

Two more of the ornaments I'd designed for Tesco Living were published (a felt poinsettia ornament and felt ice skates). I blogged about doing some teeny tiny knitting, and two recently published magazine projects: a crochet hook roll and felt swan collar clips.

I wrote postcards to friends (hurrah for proper post!), finished my mega-decluttering project Less 365, had a small panic about some new EU legislation (such a headache) and featured the work of Crafty Ladies Zeena Shah, Joanna Yeoman and Janet Clare.

Getting a headstart on 2015, I started a new crafty challenge: Use It Or Lose It - resolving to destash or use up as many crafty supplies as possible during the year. My first project to use up supplies in my stash? Making lots of lavender sachets for my sister to help her fight some pesky moths!

I also blogged about a visit to Dorney Court, the always awesome Renegade Craft Fair and Christmas shopping in London - including the joy of finding my book back in stock in my favourite shop in the world: Liberty! Yay! An excellent way to end the year.

Phew! That was a lot of stuff to cram into one blog post - 2014 was a busy year!!

I'm feeling quite inspired to go make some new stuff now...

Thursday 24 September 2015

Making Boxes from The Gift Box Book

Remember the craft projects you did when you were a kid? Wouldn't it be nice to revisit some of them?

Well, that's exactly what I did recently when I made some boxes from The Gift Box Book...

I had this book when I was at primary school, and I loved it! So many pretty boxes to cut out and make and then use to store the sort of teeny "treasures" that only a kid could think counted as treasure.

I thought this book and all the boxes were long gone (if I ever thought of them at all) until last year when I rediscovered it at the bottom of a big box of crafty supplies. I had totally planned to make the remaining three boxes that weekend.... but life must have got in the way as the months went by and the book sat gathering dust on a shelf in my studio.

So, a few weekends ago, I finally got round to making the final boxes: finally finishing a crafty "to do" which has been on my list for over a year but also kinda since I was a kid (over 20 years ago!)

It turns out that making boxes is just as much fun as when I was small, though this time round I won't be using them for storing things like marbles and old coins and interesting looking rocks :)

This plain-shaped patterned box will probably be the most useful...

... but my favourite is definitely this fancy box!

I love the attention to detail on these boxes - even the bottom of the box has a pattern on it:

Sadly it turns out that in the twenty years since I last made boxes from this book, I have not greatly improved my crafty and/or organisational skills because I managed to lose one of the box pieces in between cutting them out and sticking the box together.  So, this ship box remains unfinished. Boo. 


I'd totally blamed younger me for this. "Oh, the top piece must have been on another page of the book that I didn't keep!" Nope, it's totally recent-me's fault - you can spot the missing piece in the photos I took of the pages last year. Note to self: don't throw away all the scraps from your projects until you've actually finished it and know for certain that the scraps are actually all scraps!!

P.S. Fancy making your own boxes? Awesomely,The Gift Box Book is still in print 30 years after it was first published. It's available from Amazon UK, Amazon USA and the Book Depository. Please note, the Amazon and Book Depository links in this post are affiliate links.