Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Not only are December and Christmas creeping upon us oh too quickly, we are just one sleep away from Chanukah. Chanukah fluctuates every year, as the Hebrew calendar is lunar. December 1st is the earliest it ever is and it throws me every time it is this early. We are all geared up commercially for Christmas and when Chanukah comes 24 days earlier, it's more than I can manage. We don't celebrate Christmas so you would think it wouldn't matter. But, it's there everywhere and also, obviously, my business is centred around Christmas.

So now I'm panicking. I did a big Amazon shop last night (thank goodness for Amazon) and
fortunately I got an early start with some of my handmade gifts, but I still have the Poppy Doll to do for Ruby.

All the family are coming over to us for candles, presents and dinner on Friday and whilst we normally only buy the children gifts at Chanukah, I wanted to give each of the ladies a gift - a gift FOR the ladies, but for the men to USE, obviously...

I've made each of them a pretty tea towel to match each of their kitchens. The pink one above is my Mum's. She has the prettiest palest pink kitchen.

This yellow one isn't actually for anyone, but how I could sew something and not do a yellow and grey version? It will however be in my Etsy shop, along with several others very shortly.

Can you guess who this one below is for?

I'm feeling a little more relaxed and prepared now that I have these made.

But no relaxing just yet...it's our wedding anniversary tomorrow too...and I haven't done a darn thing about that...

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Now isn't this a pretty site?

Not only did I purchase a few fabrics online this week, but I also unexpectedly got to The Knitting & Stitching Show in Harrogate on Friday and so picked up a few staples for kits and other work projects.

Let me show you what I bought...

I was stocking up in Hobbycraft on a few kit essentials and bought a metre each of these lovely Windham fabrics whilst they were in the sale. They'll be perfect for my kits.

I ordered some more grey Kei dots for my wall-hanging from M is for Make, this week. Whilst I happened to be there, I picked up some of Joel Dewberry's Herringbone designs in a couple of colours I hadn't yet got. I absolutely love this design. It works so well as a 'filler' with other fabrics. The last one in the row here is a Denyse Schmidt that also was noted for it's absence in my collection. I no longer have that problem.

The rest of the fabrics are ones I picked up at K & S. I was exceptionally reserved. This was partly due to the fact that it is like a cattle market at this show and you really have to scrabble and fight for an inch of space. If you've been , you'll know exactly what I mean. I'm not a great one for shopping in over crowded places, so consequently I was very selective and didn't spend too long shopping.

The second significant reason for my lack of purchasing was due to the fact that Matthew was with me and spent his whole time suggesting various fabrics that he thought I should have. Suffice it to say, we had a difference of opinion, a big difference of opinion, and it became clear that it was easier to steer clear altogether.

I'm really really pleased with the ones I did pick up however. First off were these gorgeous simple florals based on Liberty designs. I absolutely love the greys (obviously) and know that they will both be the equivalent of a LBD in ones wardrobe...very useful indeed.

Next up were these tiny prints, that again are just perfect for my kits. Also, I know they'll be great for log cabins, brickwork, in fact anything where just a little is needed.

Finally, I went back to my favourite stand that sells the most beautiful Japanese fabrics. They aren't the cheapest of fabrics, but are just so stunning I had to pick up a few to have in my stash. I picked these in mind to use for the quilt I'm still planning to make for our bed.
Not only are the textures of these fabrics so exquisite but, as you can see, the designs and colours are just stunning beyond belief.

All in all a productive week on the fabric acquiring front. Some for work and some for play, so happiness all round.

It's not just purchasing to be done at K & S. There are many exhibitions around the halls, various embroidery and knitting guilds and also graduates displaying their work. Some of the graduates work was incredible. There are a lot of very talented people about and it was amazing to have the opportunity to see this work up close.

Since Matthew was with me, a purchase of art was made. Matthew loves buying art (as do I) and it's probably fair to say he is as passionate about that as I am about fabrics, so really, despite his interference with the fabric buying, we really had the perfect day out!

It will be a whole other blog post showing you what we bought and reporting on all the other stunning pieces we saw. So check back soon...

Friday, 26 November 2010

Two dates are available for booking –

Thursday 9th December

Saturday 11th December

For further information or to book a place for either workshop date please email Manda or Karen at greycircles@hotmail.co.uk

Thursday, 25 November 2010

More deliveries at Blueberry Park this week...

I think I've mentioned before how I get a little bit over-excited when I find new pieces for Blueberry Park.

I get very impatient when I find something fab that I know my customers will love as much as I do, to be able to get it up on the site and let everyone see.

I can't wait to get everything on the site and can't wait to then hear everyone's reaction.

I can't wait to find out if I've got it right. If everyone has the same reaction as I did when I first saw the new items.

Well I haven't had to wait too long. I only discovered these amazing Wall Art pieces by Sweet Dimple yesterday and Natalie, the talent behind the label, was obviously just as impatient to have them on Blueberry Park as I was, because less than 24 hours later (a record) they are all right here in all their glory.

And now I need to know...

...Do you love them as much as I do?

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

As well as producing my own art for our newly decorated walls, I'm also in the market for picking up pieces here and there to inject some life and personality.

I've just discovered the talented Eloise Renouf on Etsy today and bought this print, that is just perfect for our colour schemes. I can not wait for it to arrive. I am also thinking I'll have to buy this one too. I think they'll work really well together.

Whilst I was in a buying mood today I bought this tiny (it's only 10 x 10cm) canvas from my friend, Tara. I love Tara's work and it's not going to be long before there isn't a room in the house without a little touch of Tara.

That's where the buying has stopped for today, but there are quite a few more that are on my wishlist...

I simply adore this mixed media piece by Rachel Austin. The colours are just perfect and the design is so appealing

Another newly discovered Etsy artist today (am I spending too much time on Etsy, do you think?) is PrintmakerJenn. Both these next 2 are by Jenn and again, both the colours and the designs are right up my alley and would work perfectly in my house.

And finally (for now), one that is a little different, at least in design, but certainly not colour, another British based artist. I love this black and white screenprinted cityscape by Karolin Schnoor and the zesty green of the trees peaking through is just genius.

The only reason I didn't buy any of these was that I couldn't decide between them and would have ended up having to buy the whole darn lot. I've a feeling, I'm not going to be able to resist any of them for much longer...

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Thanks to all those that have posted/tweeted/emailed about book recos. I have a list of some fab new reads that is going to last me well into 2011 and beyond. And I hope you have all picked up some new titles too. Thanks for playing ;-)

Enough slacking now. It's back to business. The business of my wall-hanging.

My starting points, as you well know, where the inclusion of the Orla Blossom and a patch of my screen print. Oh and plenty of grey fabrics.

I had in my mind that I would be doing some brick piecing with the fabrics, so this week I've started doing that. I am quite conscious that I don't want this to be a quilt as such, so I have pieced the strips together with raw edges showing. I won't really know how this is going to look until I get further in. I do want these strips to be a backdrop for everything else that is going on, so nothing too dramatic there. Just lots of beautiful greys.

This was going in a whole different direction last night and then had a rapid U-turn when I caught sight of one of the cushions on my bed. Made over a year ago and still I love the Social Climber Flower appliqued on, so I bravely cut out a large section and positioned it to see how it looked. I'm quite liking the inclusion and am thinking a few smaller pieces dotted about may work too.

Still a long way from being ready to hang on the wall - particularly since I am awaiting delivery of more grey Kei dots - oh grey Kei dots, how I love thee - but it's slowly beginning to come together.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Next to my Bed

A different post for me today...

I have several projects on the go which aren't ready to show yet. I could show you how my wall -hanging is coming along, but it's definitely a work in progress, so that needs to wait for another day. I'm working on some christmas gifts, that also can't finished yet, so they also need to wait for another day.

In the meantime I thought I'd share another of my great loves with you...reading. What, you thought I only crafted? You didn't know I could read? I love reading and always have a pile of books by my bed (and under it too), so I thought I'd tell you about what was currently there.

First up is an amazing book that I have just finished, "Alone in Berlin" by Hans Fallada. It is an incredibly powerful book, set in wartime Berlin, depicting the lives and fears of ordinary Berliners.

Next up is "Suite Francaise" by Irene Nemirovsky. Another brilliant wartime based book, this time based in France, that has a poignant history of it's own. It was almost lost forever and only discovered by the author's surviving daughter years later.

Let's have a light one next! We went to see Harry Potter 7 on Saturday, which was brilliant! I almost stayed at home and let Matthew take the children, but decided I wouldn't be a kill joy and would join in the fun. I'm so glad I did. It is definitely the best to date and since I hadn't read this final one, when we got home I had to grab it from Sam's shelves and dive in to the point it was left and find out what happens.

So Harry usurped the next in my pile waiting to be read - "The Lacuna" by Barbara Kingsolver. This is the latest by the author of one of my favourite ever books - "The Poisonwood Bible". The reviews aren't quite as favourable for "The Lacuna", but when one of your favourite authors brings out a new read, it would be rude to not at least give it a go.

As for this little pile above...
While I was in Sam's room sneaking off with Harry, I spotted this trilogy that I'd bought him a while ago, that have been likened to "A boy in Striped Pyjamas". I'm not sure Sam's read them yet, but I want to give them the once over to see if they are suitable for Noah too. Like me, my boys are serious bookworms.

So, do you have a passion for reading? Do you always have a pile of books on the go/waiting to be read/finished and can't bear to be put away just yet?

How about playing along? Just put a link in my comments and post what is next to your bed...I'd love to hear what's there.

Friday, 19 November 2010

These are the views from my studio this morning.

Out of one window I have this truly misty winter scene...

and out of the other, above the mist, the sky is as azure as can be.

Both are dramatic, beautiful and inspirational.

But I wonder which one will prevail through the day.

I wonder what kind of day it will turn into.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

As you know we've done a lot of work on the house and are thrilled to bits with it all, but when you step into the hallway, it all looks a bit grey and bare (although seeing it here makes it look rather serene) and in need of something hanging.

So, I have a plan. I have an old canvas, an old very large canvas (it's 130 x 80cm) that I want to cover and hang there.

It's going to involve a piece of my screen printed fabric, a few of these embroidery threads...

...a section of an Ebay purchase of a matching Orla fabric piece to the wallpaper in the room next door...

...and lots of my favourite grey fabrics.

I'm going to try and be really patient (I can hear you laughing from here) and plan this design carefully and take my time with it. it's a large piece, in a prominent position, so it needs to be just right. I have lots of different ideas that I want to play around with before I actually cut into anything. But I have an idea of the one I am actually drawn to.

Watch this space.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

I have just seen this on my lovely cyber friend Kylie's blog and loved it so much I just had to post it here for you all to read...

...enjoy xx

Monday, 15 November 2010

My pillow for the Pillow Talk Swap is finished...

...i sewed the strips of fabric together and then appliqued the hexies in place...

....a finishing touch of embroidery was added...

...and an envelope opening back using my favourite new striped linen and it was complete.

All that's left is to send it off to my secret partner and hope and pray that she feels the same way about it as I do.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

I'm seeing inspiration in the house today.

First of all, the Missprint wallpaper in the hallway is full of fab seedhead illustrations, but this is my favourite one on the paper.

Who would have thought the hairdryer could provide inspiration?

I was hanging around waiting for Ruby to dry her hair after swimming and noticed the flower in the middle of the dryer.

Take a closer look...

My mind is ticking over with ideas of where this inspiration is going to be used.

So, what's around your home, giving you inspiration today?

Thursday, 11 November 2010

I'm taking part in a Flickr Swap at the moment. I have mixed feelings about them as I have been 'stung' before by a swap partner not holding their side of the arrangement and actually making something in return. Time is too precious to spend it making something only to have your partner not do the same.

This swap enticed me however. First of all, how could I resist an invitation from Heather? Secondly, it's a Cushion Swap (or Pillow, as it is called in US). How could I resist? I simply love cushions. And not only am I excited about receiving one from my secret partner, but to make one too is sheer joy. In this busy work time of working like an automaton, wrapping up orders, it is a lovely distraction to have a bit of creative time.

This swap is a secret swap. We are given someone to make for and someone different will be making for me. I am given some info about my partner's likes and dislikes, colours he/she (can't give the game away!) likes. The rest is up to me.

Having had a good nose around their Flickr site and blog, I've come up with these fabrics and am now working on the design. I'm not quite there yet with the design, but I'm pleased with how it's all coming together. But above all, i hope my partner will be.

If you want to see some of the amazing talent in this group, go check it out here.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

As alot of you know, I am a messy crafter. I'd like to think that all creative people are somewhat messy, but I have a feeling that I may be in the minority. I've been using the excuse that it is my artistic temperament. But the time has come for me to just admit that I am a slob and the time to change has arrived.

May scrap pile is getting bigger by the day and it is getting a little out of hand. I've decided to take this in hand.

It's not even as if it's difficult these days to be organised. A jaunt to Ikea to pick up storage boxes is all it takes. And then a couple of hours to contentedly put the right piece in the right box.

Crazy as it sounds, as chaotic as I am I actually love order and to see these boxes getting filled really rocks my boat and makes me wonder why it always takes me so long to realise this.

I'm going to have to go now because I still have more playing, I mean sorting, to do. But just before I do I wanted to quickly tell you about a workshop that Manda and I are hoping to host in December. It will focus on making some small, but fun Christmas presents and decorations. Again, the details still need to be finalised, but it you are interested, please leave me a comment and I will email you the details.