Sunday, 29 August 2010

I've had a very productive couple of days. London Gift Fair is just 2 weeks away and up until now I had done nothing for it. Absolutely nothing. I was beginning to panic big time, what with it being the school holidays and not able to get down to any preparations. Then this weekend I had the house to myself, whilst Matthew went on a road trip with the children to visit his Nan.

This was quite a momentous occasion in itself. Since having had the children, I had never been home alone. I've been away on the odd girlie trip, or down to London for trade fairs, but never been left at home by myself.

I just need to stop and hear that

This wasn't one of those Coming and Going as I Liked kinda weekends. This was an Operation Work weekend. No going out for a run in the sunshine. No meeting friends for coffee...or dinner for that matter. Nope, full on work.

That in itself felt fantastic. Not having to cut what I was doing short, because someone needed feeding or taking somewhere or being picked up from places. Consequently I had such a productive couple of days making all the samples for the fair. Yesterday I got all the cushions and needle sets done. Today was spent doing a few more needle sets and then getting these 2 Personalised Log Cabin canvases ready.

There's still quite alot to do. Like working out how it's all going to be in the space. Printing out all the literature I need. But it was a good start. A very good start.

One thing I find difficult is to be cut off in mid sew, so to have had all this uninterrupted time was sheer joy and luxury.


I just want to thank you all so much for your genuine and encouraging comments re the cushion. I'm so glad that you thought so highly of it as to leave a comment. I took you all at your word and posted it off to Jo...she loved it! I keep looking back at it and whilst I'm not wholly convinced (Kylie I agree about 3 being a magic number and the cut off flower!) I like the overall feel. Anyway, with your encouragement there will no doubt be more! x

Thursday, 26 August 2010

I'm really not sure about this one. I made this cushion last night for my BFs birthday. She generally loves everything I make, but I think this might not quite do it for her.

Not only is she my BF, but she is my best customer and every time I produce something new, she is right there to buy some...usually for gifts, so I hope all her friends are equally fans of my things.

I wanted to use some of my hand-printed linen. I am so keen to start designing my own fabrics to incorporate into my work. My head is buzzing with all the things I want to do. But as I was making this, I am just not quite sure it works.

I love the colours. I love, as ever, using linen in my work. I love how it sits so well with other fabrics. but there's something I'm not overly sure about.

The screen print to me looks almost like someone has come along and just added the design with a felt tip pen. I'm really not sure. Is the design too big? Is it too simplistic? I'm normally a fan of less is more, but I'm not fully convinced with this one.

Ruby took one look at it and OMG'ed it and demanded I make one for her. She's vying for the top spot for Number 1 Fan.

I may have to put it to one side for a day or two and see how I react as I catch glimpses of it. If I decide I can't bear to part with it, I'll know it's right...

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Is it that nice things happen to good people or good people do nice things?

I'm not sure, but either way I've lucked out.

My fab order came from Kate yesterday and as if that wasn't enough as a thank you for the mention on my blog, she sent me a Fat Quarter of this amazing Heather Ross fabric.
I was very tempted to order some of this self same fabric when I ordered the Alexander Henry pieces, but restrained (restrained? with fabric? I know, madness).

It seemed my restraint paid did my shouting from the roof tops about all this lushess fabric.

I'm going to be doing alot more shouting from now on.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

I haven't taken part in Sunday Stash for a while and whilst it's not quite Sunday in England, it certainly is in some parts of the world. And by the time some of you are up and reading, it no doubt will be. So you'll forgive me a little dramatic licence.
I wanted to share with you some Alexander Henry fabrics that I've just picked up from M is for Make.

I follow Kate's blog, partly because I am in awe of her dress-making skills and partly because I want to be first to know when she has some new fab fabrics in store.
Kate has a perfect selection of fabrics in her wonderful on-line store, from Cloud 9's beautiful organic range, to Anna Maria Horner's irresistible voiles, to wonderful had-printed textiles by Skinny La Minx and Ink & Spindle. Oh, and did I mention the sprinkling of Denyse Schmidt too?
It was love at first sight when I saw this range and since I missed a visit to Festival of Quilts this weekend, I figured it was only fair I purchased some.

I can not wait for it's arrival. Neither can I wait to see what else Kate has teasingly led me to believe she has coming.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

When I bought these fab buttons in Tallin I had the vague idea that I would turn them into brooches. At the time I wasn't wholly sure how that was going to be, but I knew that's what I had in mind for them.

I was in a bit of a bad mood last night (a bit?) after having a day of looking after the kids, but having my head full of work I wasn't able to get done.

When Matthew got home I literally ran up to the attic and locked myself in my studio. I'd had an idea during the day for a new Craft Kit and was desperate to try it out. I was now working like a woman possessed and produced the kit in record time (I'd had all day working it out in my head after all).

New kit completed (more of that another time) and not in a hurry to venture downstairs, I took out the buttons and started to play...

Less than an hour later, 3 nice new brooches. All I need to do now is persuade the shop to send me some more over (why oh why did I only buy 3?)

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

One thing that always captures my attention is sweetly wrapped purchases. I love when a little effort is taken, however simple.

Have you noticed how well they do it in France? Nothing fancy. Usually involving a paper bag.

The same appears to be true in Tallinn, Estonia.

I wandered into a little shop down one of the old lanes, full of what I soon realised was quite depicting of Tallinn, wall to wall wooden items...from buttons, to butter knives, to chopping boards, to ornaments. The most beautiful, smooth, tactile wood.

If it wasn't for the fact that we literally had 3 hours in Tallinn (down to 1 1/2 by the time I'd found this shop of treasure) I would have perused for longer and purchased masses...good job we weren't then. As it was, the troops were calling from outside. We still hadn't had our obligatory coffee stop in the square. So all I had time for was to grab a few buttons and a couple of brooches.

I was standing at the counter quite content with my little purchases, some gifts, some for me, when suddenly magic occurred and my little purchases were transformed into pretty treasure. As I said earlier, nothing overly fancy, just a thoughtful little touch.

If only I'd had time to gather more.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Matthew treated himself to a new camera just before we went away. He had been wanting to for ages and found going on the cruise was the perfect excuse. After all, you can't visit some of the most wonderful places in the world and not have a great camera to shoot it all with...apparently.
Whilst he was now self appointed Chief Tour Photographer I gave him a little project of photographing doorways everywhere we went. Since we were going to alot of different cities I thought it would be interesting to capture a similar thing and see how different they really all were.

I also thought it might make us stop and look at our surroundings a bit more. I wasn't necessarily after big, opulent, formal doorways. I wanted to get a feel for the everyday. I'm not sure we quite managed that, mainly due to the fact that we were in the city centres and not in overly-residential areas.
Still, I love the feel that Matthew has captured. I love the way we can look back and see how different to English architecture they are. I love the way that the buildings themselves are so colourful, rather than just the doorways. Opposite to how it is here in UK. I love seeing the similarities to these countries too, which I guess is predictable. But at the same time I can recognize the specific characteristic of each individual country.

We didn't manage to wander around St Petersburg as freely as the other cities as we were on a tour bus, hence no doorways there, just majestic, colourful Palaces.

Do you recognise any of the cities? (Click on photos to enlarge)

Answers below...

from top:



St Petersburg



Monday, 16 August 2010

I've been having severe computer problems of late. To be truthful, my PC has been giving me grief since the day I bought it almost 3 years ago.
Nobody seems to have been able to do anything about it . It freezes regularly and has driven me to distraction on a regular basis.
It could take me an hour to do a simple blogpost with it crashing everytime I tried to uplaod a photo.

I'm pleased to say it no longer crashes. I took it to my local computer shop up the road, who informed me that Advent were notorious for over heating and thus crashing when large files were attempted to be uploaded.

You can imagine my delight when I managed to upload all these images in one swift sitting.

And you can probably imagine my utter dismay when I tried to type something and realised somewhere along the line my keyboard now failed to function. Aaaaaggghhhhh! Hence I had to throw Samuel off his own brand new laptop, so I could finish what I latest blogpost to show you my new cushion I'd created whilst the PC was in hospital.

The cushion was the product of some inspirational hexies that I received from the very kind and generous Ryan who sent them to me as part of a swap. Thanks, Ryan, for sending me something more than perfect and starting me on my latest sewing obsession.

Needless to say, my PC is still my arch enemy and I'll be ordering my yearned for Macbook quicker than a quickest thing on a quickest day.

Friday, 13 August 2010

In the interests of research and inspiration I made it a priority to pick up some magazines whilst we were away. I managed to pick up a nice selection from Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway.
It's clear from looking at them that the handmade vibe is as strong over in Scandinavia as it is here in the UK. Even though I can not understand a word of what is written, the pictures were speaking to me loud and clear.

I love seeing Scandinavian houses featured in British magazines, with their clean, fresh, quirky styles, so it was hardly a surprise that I would love flicking through the pages of these magazines.

Whilst it was possible to get Scandinavia's version of Elle Deco and the like, it was these with a vintage, handmade feel that I had to have.

Don't you just love this armchair?

With the world growing increasingly smaller and with several Scandinavian goods regularly seen on our shelves (Greengate and Rice being the most predominant) everything seems strangely familiar.

To stroll in and out of stores and see them in their own setting and amongst others too, was strangely comforting. And to flick through magazines and have this same feel be at my fingertips is a real pleasure.

Colour is something that Scandinavia does so well. Not in room decor, where walls are normally painted white, but in accessories.

All this colour against a white backdrop gives such a fresh, clean, relaxed approach. So easy on the eye.

There's a lot to take in and I'm looking forward to reliving my Scandinavian experience in the months to come as I flick through the pages again and again.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

We came back yesterday from a holiday of a lifetime. It was my Father-in-law's 80th, so he took all 17 of us, his sons, their wives and their children on a Baltic cruise. It really was a holiday of a lifetime.

Despite the fact that we are essentially holiday anti-socialites, preferring out of the way gites to busy, noisy hotels, we managed. Well, what's not to manage? Being taken to some of the most beautiful countries in Europe. Spoilt thoroughly by 24 hour attentive service. Oh and did I mention the all day and evening kids clubs?

Whilst I am not a convert to this kind of holiday, I certainly made the most of it and enjoyed not having to do any domestic chores of any description for 10 days.

I'll be reporting back, over the next few weeks, on the wonderful places we visited, but since this is essentially a crafting blog, I thought that would be a good place to start.

Our first port of call was Copenhagen. I instantly fell in love with this city. Not only is it beautiful and oozes charm, but it is such a laid back city. And I loved the way the whole city travels around on bicycle. It didn't take long for us to realise that bikes, with their own space on the road, rule the road. In our naivety as we strolled down the street, it soon became clear that you don't walk down the cycle lane as it is just that. The first cross tooting made us quickly evacuate the lane and made sure we never entered one again!

The shop windows in Copenhagen were beautiful. Quite Parisian in feel, I thought. The bead shop above is one such example. I loved the mix of vintage with bright colours. I had to be dragged out of here kicking and screaming.

The knick-knack shop across the road had a real vintage feel. I am quite cross I didn't get my promised return to explore to it's full potential.

This all highlights Frustration Number 1 of cruising...being given the merest glimpse to some wonderful cities. Whilst I feel privileged to have visited some amazing places at all, there were times when less is more really did not apply. Coupled with the fact that we were a party of 17 trawling the streets, with little folk amongst us, a lot of compromising took place.

I did however make the most of the very short time we had in beautiful Tallin. This was a much more compact city, so plenty of opportunity to break off from the group and catch up a bit later. Tallin was full of linens and embroidery work. Whilst some of it wasn't to my taste, I loved the crafting vibe. And I loved even more my find of this bag of embroidery threads. All this for less than £15...definitely worth breaking away from the group for and being a little late for rendez-vous ;-)
I'll be back soon to show you some magazines I picked up on my travels. All have a Country Living/Marie Claire Idees vibe and are going to be a great source of inspiration to my work over the coming months I feel.