Friday, 30 November 2012

Bits and Bobs

I went to complete my Christmas shopping the other day and stopped in at Debbie Bryan to collect my final speed craft creations.  I love them.

Glass hanging created with Stevie Davies
Ceramic Brooches created with Katie Almond

I am getting very much in the festive spirit and cannot wait to get decorating.  The bargains I have found have not helped subdue this either...look!!

A giant Poinsettia for £1, wowee!
A jar of beautifully scented tea lights for £2.99

This evening I went to a Jamie at Home Party which was lovely, the things for sale are brilliant but unfortunately (or fortunately for my bank balance) I only have a little kitchen.  I did however purchase these for a bargain price of £20, normally £42!!

Meat, veg, fish and bread board.

Also, all the crafting I have been doing has been putting strain on my eyes and over the years I have gone from being very long sighted to having nearly perfect vision but if this progresses I will be short sighted very soon and that wouldn't be good.  Therefore I have to wear glasses all the time now to attempt to help strengthen my eyes before my sight gets bad.  Took me ages to choose but here they are.
Finally I am creating a little card for a friend, I think it looks awesome and I will be handing it over soon so I can share it.  My Christmas bits and bobs are also coming along nicely.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Make and Craft swap goodies have arrived and WOW!!

I received a tweet yesterday to say my swap gifts would be here today, the van pulled up and I shot to the door.  In my haste to open everything I did not photograph the beautiful selection of wrapped little gifts.  It was like Christmas had come early, I was so excited.

In my box of goodies was a selection of handmade Christmas decorations.  They are all absolutely beautiful and have made me even more excited about my favourite time of year.

 I tried to pick a favourite one but I just cant, they are all beautiful in their own little way.

The gift also contained some beautiful Christmas bows (I do love bows) and some great Christmas labels.  I was also sent three very thoughtful books, one to make me smile when a smile is really needed and a crochet and sewing project book.

I just Love everything and I am indescribably grateful for such a thoughtful gift.  Thank you so much George.

Edith and Sophie even love the box everything came in.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Long Eaton Art Room

Today Tom took me to a craft fare where one of his friends was going to be.  I didn't know a lot about where we were going but loved the place when we got there.

The Long Eaton Art Room is a community arts centre staffed by volunteers to offer artistic and crafting experiences.  It works on a drop in basis where you can pop in, pay £5 and spend some time learning a new skill.  I love this idea and I am so going to go to learn how to needle felt do I can put my prize to use.  There is also a monthly subscription option for £25 and you can as often as you like.  There are studio spaces, artists works for sale, a shop for supplies, you name it!

Whilst there we saw some fantastic creations.  We particularly liked the work by Kate CloudHelen HallowsLouise MacIntosh-Watson and Emily Smalley amongst a number of others who's cards I didn't pick up.

I also got to meet one of Tom's friends Margi who makes amazing bakes!

A lovely place where I will most certainly be visiting again and again.

On another note...I just got to watch the water fairies put out a wheelie bin fire. What an exciting day!

Friday, 23 November 2012

Christmas cards and Yoga

I am busy stitching away to make Christmas cards for the family. I have finished 2 now but thought I would share one (hopefully my Nanna doesn't check my blog). All of them will be different and hopefully each as good as the first. I do love giving a handmade card!

Also I started yoga today, I loved it. I was flexible enough but nowhere near strong enough and I had a lot of shakes and wobbles. It was fab though so I will certainly be heading back again.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Home Decoration Make and Craft Swap

It's time to write about my second craft swap, the goods have been delivered so I can now reveal all.

The theme was Home Decorations and I was paired up with George who has a lovely blog which you can get to from HERE.  I carefully read the e-mail and looked through the blog to pull out inspiration because it is a hard theme when you do not know what sort of house the items are going to.  George loves books and hates waste so I decided that I would try to make everything using one book that would otherwise be destined for the bin.

The first stop was my local Oxfam Book Shop to see if they had any hardback books ready for the bin.  I was taken to the sorting room and showed a massive pile of boxes full of books.  Lots of them had absolutely nothing wrong with them and I was very tempted to take a lot out to bring home but that was not why I was there.  There was a collection of Charles Dickens hardbacks that had seen better days and I was offered them for 25p each.  I took 3 and donated £2.

The first thing I wanted to do was make the book cover into a storage pot, a practical item that could hold pens or more decorative items such as dried flowers.  The first step was to remove the pages at the front and back by the edge of the binding.  I then had to measure the height, width and length of the pages so that I could cut a piece of balsa wood the right size to fit.  Once this was done I had to glue it all in place so it looked just like a real book.  I was really pleased with the end result.


I then thought I would make some paper flowers to put in the pot to make it look more decorative for the purpose of the swap but if George wishes to use for something more practical then that was my initial intention.  I had no idea how to make paper flowers so I used the POM POM technique and stuck it onto a wooden kebab skewer.  The first attempt looked quite good for an experiment so I made two more.


After making this I decided to try something else I had seen on TV and in a book and make a paper bird.  I again had no clue if it was going to work and the whole thing was a try it and see experiment that worked surprisingly well.  I started by screwing up a lot of the pages from the book and making them into a general bird shape.  I then covered it in sellotape to hold the shape...a dispenser would have been helpful at this point.  Once this was done I had to figure out how to make the legs.  Here I saw the skewers on the table and some off cuts of balsa wood.  With a lot of glue and patience the birdie had legs and he stood up!  Then it was time for the messy bit, I had to cover the whole thing in small pieces of book page and PVA.  I was covered, my phone was covered and it was all over the cutting mat.  I am surprised that Tom and the Cats were not stuck to the walls and ceiling.  Here is the final result.

 Next I decided to make some hanging decorations for Christmas using the technique I was taught at SPEED CRAFT by PHIONA RICHARDS.  I made two and included pictorial instructions and supplies so George could make a third.  I think they look lovely and they are also made from book pages and an old Costa Coffee bag.  It's all about recycling and don't they look pretty.

I then packaged them all up together with the purchased gift which I saw online and just had to buy.  George makes amazing CAKES and I saw a mixer painted on a recipe book page, I thought it was quite appropriate despite the amount of pink.  I also stitched a little card because I always like to give a home made card.

I hope George enjoys the gifts as much as I enjoyed making them.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Crafting and my anxiety

I feel I am ready to share a personal story about myself and how crafting has been a bit of a salvation for me over the last few months.

As some of you may or may not be aware I have been off work for nearly 2 months now due to suffering with anxiety and depression. This is something I have battled with for some time now and something I try desperately to keep at bay. I have learnt over the years though that I cannot keep fighting it forever and every now and then I must have the strength to say enough is enough and make the best and often hardest decision for my health.

I am, and always have been a hard worker so making the decision to put myself first and call in sick was a very difficult one to make but the constant feeling of dread and exhaustion just couldn't carry on, especially with Tom being so poorly and needing my help at home. I have struggled with work for the last year but with Tom becoming so poorly it made me put things into perspective and I realised a job was not worth making myself unwell for.

I have been down this road before when I decided that a career in teaching was not for me but I refused to give up for some time resulting in becoming quite unwell.

This time however I have my crafting to keep me going. I reignited my love of crafting after reading a blog written by Mrs Crafty B, a university friend. I was very impressed with the things she had made and decided I too would take on a challenge. Initially I started cross stitching and was astounded by how much it helped me to have a focus and something to take pride in creating. I had dabbled with the odd project before this but I was not prepared for the impact that crafting would have on me.

Since finishing this cross stitch I have picked up knitting needles and I am surprising myself with the things I am knitting. I adore the sense of putting love into every stitch and knitting gives me something positive to focus on and each row gives me such a sense of achievement.

I have also learnt how to crochet, I have always loved the look of it but never been able to do it. Thanks to the support and patience of Eleanor at Knit Nottingham I have developed my skills and feel capable of taking on most things. Eleanor has been brilliant, I go to the shop to not only buy yarn but have a good winge and a giggle, she's a good girl!

On top of this I have started this blog, taken part in craft swaps and explored other mediums with which to craft.

The road is far from over for me as I am still off and awaiting further meetings at work to attempt to find a new job within the organisation and Tom is still unwell but crafting is something that keeps me going no end. As silly as it may sound it gives me something to get out of bed for on days where I feel utterly glum and unable to face the world. Expressing my emotions in a creative way prevents my panic from becoming unmanageable, prevents anger, prevents tears, prevents anxiety (to a certain degree) and provides satisfaction, confidence, a sense of achievement every day despite the fact I can often feel very useless.

I wanted to share my story because I cannot begin to explain how wonderful the world of crafting is for those suffering with mental health concerns. I would love to take it into a career and work with mental health patients to use creativity as a therapy but I have to sort myself out first and then take the time to research how and if I can do this.

I strongly believe that depression, anxiety and other mental health concerns are not something to be ashamed of. It is a part of a lot of people's lives and something we must learn to accept and deal with. I am still young and I feel very lucky to have found something that helps me so early on my journey. I hope that even if this reaches just one person it will lead them up the crafty
path to a more focused mental state.

Just after publishing this Stephen Fry tweeted about a project that is being run nationwide to encourage creativity to help with and raise awareness of mental health issues. Fabulous!

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Pom Poms!

I love Pom Poms and think paper ones look amazing and now I know how to make them!

We went to visit friends yesterday for a Children in need party but we got there a little earlier than anyone else to help.  Kate and I made big paper pom poms and they look fabulous.  They would look stunning at a function like a birthday party or wedding if they fitted the colour scheme, ours were just random collections of colours.

If you would like to see how we did it than click here to see the tutorial.

In other news I have today made all of my presents for my craft swap.  This time the theme is home decorations and I thought I would be a little experimental and try out something completely all looks fab and I cannot wait to post about it on here but I must post it with Royal Mail first.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Quite a flattering week

This week has been a very flattering one, great crafty confidence boosts taking place in my house!

Firstly I was asked if I would like to have a stall at a friends craft fare. I had never really considered that people might actually pay money for things I had made. I had to decline though as I wouldn't have enough time to get a suitable amount of stock together but next year I plan on building up a few wintertime knits for a craft fare or two.

Then a friend came to visit. She had been taking Poppy's to her colleagues at work who apparently went a bit wild for them. So much so that they have been asking for a web address to buy things and asking Laura if I can make them brooches and all sorts of little things. Another little new year project I think.

The final boost came when Make and Craft magazine tweeted that I was featured in their magazine. Thinking they had made a mistake I had a look through the new edition and there was my blog in all it's glory! My ramblings, mistakes, bakes and makes were being read and taken seriously.

In light of these little but wonderfully flattering events I think I will get myself making some little bits and pieces to set up a folksy shop in the new year. I have a few ideas but whether people would buy them is something I will have to wait and see about.

I also feel I should add a few little thanks to the people who got me started on my crafty journey and keep me going. Mrs Crafty B who got me picking up my knitting needles and cross stitches again, the wonderful Eleanor Burke who keeps me knitting and reminds me I can do it, Tom for putting up with the constant mess and yarn all over the house and my friends and family for the praise they give me.

That's all for now, I have some washing up to do!!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Remembrance Day Parade

As a lot of you know I have making and selling crochet poppies this year for The Poppy Appeal.  I was amazed by the amount of interest and I managed to raise £200 which I cannot thank everyone enough for.  Your donations are massively apreciated.

Due to the amount of support I received I thought it would be nice to make a wreath to lay down at the Memorial on Victoria Embankment.  It received many comments and was well liked by a lot of people.  I think it looks rather sweet amongst it's larger friends.

The Remembrance Day Parade we went to is the City of Nottingham's official and largest and there was quite a turn out for it.  The whole service was wonderful and did our fallen and fighting Servicemen proud.  A rather moving morning.

Thank you again to everybody who purchased a poppy, I have enjoyed making them and next year will find something different to hopefully raise more money for a very worthy cause.

Lest we Forget.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Little gifts and another update.

My parents have recently moved to the seaside and before going they brought my Nanna Hall's typewriter to me.  I used to play on it a lot when I was little and it's a marvelous old thing, I just love it.  Nanna spent hours with it and could type like a demon, I get the letters stuck a lot and miss the keys as it seems quite archaic compared to the keyboards I have gotten used to but that is all part of the charm.

Earlier this week I went to visit my Nanna Crowe who has been sorting through a bits and pieces and she has saved a few for me.  One of them is a book that I got her from a car boot sale when I was very little.  It's a Beatrix Potter knitting book and it is hilarious!  Here is a selection of the finer patterns on offer, they're brilliant.

She also had some old knitting odds and ends that belonged to my Great Grandma Whittemore.  She got them free with Womens Own magazine and they're still in their paper bags.  I thought they were quite sweet.

I thought I would also add a little update about my crafting projects which I annoyingly can't share as they are mostly going to be gifts.  I have made 4 lovely Christmas presents so far and I am working on another two as we speak.  I am also taking part in a craft swap again and this has been organised by Make and Craft magazine.  The theme is home decorations so not as clear as the last one but I do have some exciting and rather challenging ideas so hopefully I can pull them off and send on a lovely gift or two. 

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

I never win anything but it appears I got lucky...

I have just got back from visiting my Nanna (another blog to follow) and I had an unexpected parcel. I opened it feeling puzzled and found I had won a competition I had entered a while ago and had completely forgotten about.

It was through Make and Craft magazine and I have to say I am rather chuffed. I have wanted to try felting for some time now and this is the kick up the proverbial I think I needed. I will get Christmas out of the way and give it a go!

Thankyou to CICO books and Make and Craft magazine!

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Speed Craft event and a subsequent very long blog post!

Today was the day of the much anticipated speed craft event organised by Debbie Bryan Studio and Shop and held at the Galleries of Justice.  I do have to confess that due to my only going into the city when absolutely necessary and then grabbing what I need and leaving policy I have never been to visit but I do follow keenly on twitter and often check out the website which is how I heard about this event.

Open Monday to Saturday 11- 5pm

Debbie Bryan Studio & Shop, 18 St Mary's Gate, The Lace Market, Nottingham, NG1 1PF. UK

Tel: 0044(0)115 9507776    Email:

The day comprised of moving around various workstations and artists and creating something using the medium preferred by the artist within 25 minutes.  When the bell rang it was time to move to the next table.

My first stop was with textile designer Lucy Renshaw who makes some wonderful items so please look at the link below.

With Lucy we made a fabric covered piece of cutlery. Above is a chandelier made by Lucy from cutlery and some individual covered cutlery items.  We were greeted at the table by a smiling face, a heap of fabric and paper, some glue, scissors and a piece of cutlery.  From there we got cutting and sticking which is a lot harder than it sounds.  My spoon is a bit shabby around the edges but I am quite pleased.

My second stop was with fused glass artist Stevie Davies.  She also makes some beautiful and practical pieces of art and below is her web address and an example of her work.

 I have had a go at this before with Tom's Mum who is also a fused glass and stained glass artist ( ) but I have never incorporated metal into the fused work or worked with glass so small and delicate.  We started by laying out the glass on a pre-cut rectangle and once we were happy we stuck them down ready to be taken home by Stevie to be fused in the kiln. Below are the colour choices and my complete pre-fused item.

My third stop before lunch was with Nicki Dennett who is an illustrator and printmaker.  I do love a good print so again here is a web link and an example.

For this we had to draw a picture or choose one from a selection on the table.  Being terrible at drawing I chose a printed sea scene.  I also chose to make my print onto the inside of an old envelope as I thought the blue would be a great background for the fisherman's boat. My first attempt went wrong as I tried to write and it came out backwards but my second attempt worked a lot better.  We had to lay the paper face down on the inked acetate and draw on the back.

After lunch which by this time was well needed as my brain was frazzled we moved onto the table of Phiona Richards who makes jewellery and sculptures from old and unloved books.  You may have seen her on Kirstie's Handmade Britain (apparently Kirstie is as lovely as she comes across).  Its amazing what can be made from something that would ordinarily end up in a bin so please have a look.

We were handed a very interesting envelope which once opened contained 5 large squares of music paper, 5 squares of black paper (recycled), 2 small squares of music paper, some ribbon, a bead and a little gift of an Oak leaf from Phiona.  We had to start by sticking the music paper and black paper together and we then had to fold it to make smaller folding squares (doesn't make much sense in writing).  Once we had these all made it was time to stick them together, add the ribbon and smaller squares and string on the bead which is crutial to making it work.  Then we could admire our gift tag that becomes a beautiful decoration!

My fourth stop was with Katie Almond who designs and makes lovely ceramic pieces.  I am a sucker for a tea cup and Katie's are certainly very attractive.

With Katie we made brooches from porcelain, I think we were only supposed to make one but she kindly agreed (after they had been cut) that we could make two, thanks Katie.  The first step was to roll out the porcelain clay and select either a template or some lace to roll a pattern into the clay.  We then chose a template to cut around, of course I chose a teacup.  Once we had cut around the template it was time to decorate with added smaller pieces of clay and paint.  I found my teacup to be quite plain but I was struggling to think of what to do as I did not want to ruin the lace pattern so a fellow crafter kindly donated a heart she had made from her collection and all I needed to do was paint it.  I also have to wait for these to be fired but I do think the wait will be worth it.

My final stop was with Janine Nelson who creates contemporary mosaics from broken and unbroken vintage plates.  Again it is amazing what can be made from something that would otherwise go into landfill.

I have to admit that I did not do the art of mosaic much justice but I did try, I think orange was an awkward colour choice and I was trying to be too organised rather than letting myself go and fill the space we were given.  I might add more to it in the future to finish it off and the glue is still wet in the photo but I am quite pleased.

Once the final bell had rung we were offered a beautiful looking and tasting chocolate brownie with a cup of tea, there had been a lot of tea throughout the day but everyone knows crafters love tea!

Anybody interested in this then there is another Speed Craft event being run next Spring and Debbie organises a number of other workshops with various artists that after this taster I may well be signing up to.

A big thankyou to Debbie and all the artists involved!  Today was a wonderful escape for a creative female currently suffering with anxiety.  Now it is time for a long sleep to recover.