Monday 6 August 2012

Home again, home again, jiggedy jig!

Back again from the States! Gosh it was hot there. Michigan does have warm summers, but it's been so long since we've had really hot summer here in Devon that I forgot what it's like to sleep with the sheets stuck to your sweaty body. Delightful, I know.

I travelled in patriotic style -- see, even my luggage supports team GB!

My sister's wedding was lovely -- I stitched up a small contribution to her big day.

Meanwhile, my other half set sail with a little love note from me.

And now I'm back, ready to tackle the upcoming craft season. Are you ready for it? Maybe this will inspire you. I came across this stash of vintage goodies in my mother's archives.

And I bet you thought wasabi tape and coloured twine was a modern trend!

Still taking my business course. Wish me luck -- I have to give a business presentation tomorrow! I've stocked up on breathe mints and antacid tablets just in case.

Tuesday 17 July 2012

Off in search of warmer weather!

Busy, busy, busy here as per norm! The weather has been terrible, so I'm escaping England later this week for the very hot US. I figure two weeks of extreme heat will make up for the lack of summer here. So besides packing and cleaning, it is also the end of school. Here are two teacher gifts I've whipped up. I love doing book jackets!

Still plodding away on my business course. I think I've narrowed down my business idea to a manageable niche market. Next big job to tackle: making enough product to fill a craft table because ... YES! I'm going to book my first REAL show. Can you feel the sense of panic? So as soon as I get back I'll be locked in my craft room (read: guest bedroom converted into a craft room by a big sewing table). Other major source of worry -- I have to do a business presentation when I get back too. Ugh.

See you in a few weeks! I'll be back with suitcases stuffed with crafting goodness!

Tuesday 3 July 2012

Happy Fourth of July!

As I was going through my computer and blog doing some (late) spring cleaning, I came across this chap and thought it was the perfect time to send him out. So a big, “Happy Fourth of July” to all my American friends and family! Isn’t he striking? Unfortunately, there is no note on him as to name, location or date. The backside is just a blank postcard.

Yes, this posting does mean that I intend to start blogging again with some regularity. A few weeks ago I made the decision to start selling my handiwork and actually get paid for my hard work for a change! I’ve enrolled in a business start-up course, thanks to my local council and the EU, and now I am on the rocky road to self-employment. Of course I thought I would record my trials and tribulations along the way! Have you set up a business? Do you have any pearls of wisdom for me?

So where am I starting? Market research. I guess in a nutshell that means: who sells what to whom at what price? To find out I’ve been surfing the crafty net and pounding the local craft scene.

I started at the Contemporary Craft Festival in Bovey Tracey, Devon. This was obviously as much for business as pleasure. As usual, my wish list was long. I fell in love with the following crafters and artists: Jane Booth Ceramics, Helaina Sharpley, O Golly Gosh (Elaine Hughes), Kirsty Elson, Rachel Eardley, Katie Almond Ceramics, and Sarah Culleton. A fav, Poppy Treffry was there being very cheery and chatty. I really appreciate it when exhibitors make an effort to talk to customers! Another fav, OPI (Jane Ryan), was there too. I wanted another piece to go with the one I bought last year (below), but I’ll have to save up my money a little bit longer.

A few trends did catch my eye at the fair: I saw lots of seasides, cottages, postcards, and multi-media collage art. Other trends I love at the moment: retro fabrics especially Horrockses and French Flo. Latest craft purchase: vintage snowman fabric from Donna Flower. On the nightstand: Mollie Makes -- I don't have much time for anything else at the moment, 'though one of my friends wants to force me to read "50 Shades of Grey".

Product-wise, I’ll been turning my attention towards Christmas. Gasp! Already! Yes, this year will NOT catch me unprepared! First though I have to finish three wedding gifts and four half-made items of clothing. Hah, right.

Thursday 16 June 2011

Bad Blogger! Bad, bad blogger!

The company has gone, it is a rainy day and rather than face the pile of unwashed laundry, I decided it is time to get back on the blog. Yes, I know -- I've been a bad, bad blogger. I hope to redeem myself.

So what have I been up to? We've now settled into the new house, have unpacked all boxes, had three sets of guests and a big birthday party for my daughter, and made a quick trip to London. Now at last my days are settling down and I'm getting back into a routine again.

Craft-wise, I've done a lot of little projects (picts to come) and I'm slowly working through a big Cath Kidston cross-stitch project. I've just decided that cross-stitch isn't my favourite, but I'm determined to finish the thing off anyway. I did do one fantastic thing -- I went to the Contemporary Craft Fair at Bovey Tracey. Despite the wet weather, it was a great show. I got to meet people like Poppy Treffrey and Priscilla Jones! I admit that I was rather timid and didn't say too much for fear of appearing like a babbling fanatical stalker. I've admired their work for some time and it was fantastic to see them in person. I'll show you what I bought in my next post. I do regret that I didn't budget more spending money and that I didn't sign up for any of the workshops. I'll be more prepared next year!

I'm off now! Time to slog my way through all the blogs I've missed.

Tuesday 22 March 2011

On the move!

I haven't forgotten about you, I'm just up to my neck in cardboard boxes! My daughter came home yesterday and got mad because, "There's no place to play anymore!" Moving day is just a few days away now.

At the moment:
  • I'm still keeping tabs on what's happening out here in blog land. I'm currently loving Nana Company -- I wish I was so talented!
  • I'm dreaming of retro-Scandinavian style -- just google "Scandinavian tea towels" to see what I'm talking about. Suddenly I can see my new house decorated in mid-century modern. Now if I just had the money to do completely refurnish my house... 
  • I'm eating lovely spring veggies! More asparagus and chicken pie or rhubarb crumble anyone? At the moment I'm also perfecting my goat-cheese and vegetable lasagna and my split-pea and sausage soup. Please watch The Great British Food Revival for more mouthwatering recipe inspiration.
  • On the nightstand -- Enchanted April (v. seasonal), Baking Made Easy and The Handmade Marketplace.
It is lovely and sunny here at the moment, but I'm trying to hold off any spring fever just yet. I'll wait 'til we're moved in before I start sprinkling tulips and bunnies around the house!

Monday 14 February 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

We celebrated Valentine's Day a little early this year as my other half is away this week. It was a bit subdued this year as my husband has been away a lot, the weather continues to be miserable and now we have to start re-packing for the next move. I even had to buy my own flowers! I normally cook up a fancy dinner for the occasion (honey roasted duck last year), but this year he requested steak and chips and my daughter requested ice cream for dessert. I couldn't be bothered to argue.

As it's been too wet to go outside my daughter and I have had plenty of time to work on our Valentine's Day cards.

I love stitching on paper, so I stitched up card stock and brown paper to create this valentine card holder. There is an opening at the top to slip cards into. I embellished with a paper doily and vintage buttons. Check out Cathe Holden's Just Something I made for a tutorial on mini bunting. I continued the vintage-y feel with the vintage button wreath. Find the tutorial on Hobby Craft.

For my daughter, I stitched up this from Kidston's Stitch. See my last post for a book review. I am currently on my third project from the book. As a finishing touch, I printed a sweet little graphic onto card stock and glued it onto a jewelry bag.

Things are moving on the house purchase now, so if my posts are a bit erratic that's why! Have a very happy Valentine's Day!

Monday 31 January 2011

A new home, a few old projects, and a couple of book reviews

Keep your fingers crossed for us! Our offer was accepted on a house. Let's just hope the sale goes smoothly and quickly. The house is everything we were looking for in a house. We were hoping to find something a bit more in the countryside, but it seems wishful thinking to expect a rural setting, a short-commute to work, and good schools and shopping could be affordable. Anyway, I'm trying not to get too excited as nothing is certain until you have a key in your hand.

Here are a few pictures from the countryside here:

As my husband is now back to work and my daughter has started school, guess who is job hunting? Now that we're in an English-speaking country I have no excuse for not working. Ugh. It isn't that I don't want to work, I just hate the interview process and I'm worried about finding a job I like in this current era of unemployment. The prospect of self-employment is very appealing, but as what? If you could start over and begin a new career now, what would you do?

As far as the crafting goes, the progress is v. slow. It doesn't help that I can't access some of my stash and I don't have any space here to work in. I have been embroidering. My cottage triptych is on hold, mostly out of frustration. For some reason my transfer pencil marks on my muslin have disappeared mid-way through and now I have to re-transfer the remaining image. Has this happened to anyone else? So out of childish spite, I've started a new project.

I mentioned that over Christmas I picked up a few new books, one of them being Cath Kidston's Stitch. As I haven't tried cross-stitch before, I immediately started working on the cover project (materials are included with the book). I already own Make and Sew. I liked Make. This and The Kitchen Linens Book by EllynAnne Geisel got me stitching in the first place. Although some of the projects and designs are too basic, there was enough to propel me on. I still refer to the book as it contains a few of Kidston's more iconic designs. Word of warning though, the instructions on some projects are vague or just plain wrong.

Enamoured with Make, I bought Sew. Being fairly adept with embroidering, I wanted to expand my sewing skills. Overall Sew was a disappointment. I think there are better sewing books on the market, especially for relative beginners like myself.

Luckily Stitch was a return to what I loved about Make -- easy to follow projects that put a fresh and unique spin on an old craft. Sure, I know there's a limit to how many pillows one can make, but this book has actually made me want to try cross-stitch for a change. A few of the patterns are questionable, but I can't wait to stitch up her cowboy!

When I was backing up my photos from 2010, I realised there were two projects from December that I didn't share with you. (Word of advice -- take time to back up your photos! I learned this lesson the hard way when my last computer crashed.) As we were leaving Germany I gave a few handmade thank you presents to friends and teachers. Both projects were quick and easy. The images for these came from Flickr and The Graphics Fairy.

I couldn't resist these little purple flowers. I'm not sure if they're really violets or not, but I glued a perfume label on to the pot and used the same image to make the butterflies. These were given to my daughter's Kindergarten teachers.

This little pocket was inspired by Lori Lundy's jean pockets featured in the volume 4 issue of "Somerset Holidays & Celebrations". I quickly glued on vintage images, scrap lace, velvet leaves and my favourite vintage button. I tucked a thank you letter and my favourite recipes inside and presented it to a friend who gave my daughter riding lessons. In exchange for her lessons, I taught her children some English and sent her a regular supply of English and American bakery.

 I hope they know how much I appreciated their hard work and friendship!