Thursday, 16 December 2010

Business Planning and the Last Minute Shopper!

I've been attending an Empower course recently run by an organisation called Women's Wisdom, which is sponsored by a charitable organisation - the Wheatsheaf Trust. The aim of the course was to encourage us to look at how we can turn our dreams into reality, identify what we can do NOW and what we want to do for the future and more importantly sort out how we would get there.

My dream is to earn enough money from both making and teaching to reduce my need for state benefits. And the course has really helped me identify what it is I want to do and how I'm going to do it! Its going to mean alot of work in the New Year as I have business plans to develop, courses and workshops to put together and "sell" to local adult ed colleges and art / craft centres. And above all I have to work out what my personal limits are, as to be successful I need to keep my health as stable as possible. And that's the bit I find hard - accepting that although 3 years ago running 4 back to back training days, loads of travel etc were easy, now its more like I can teach for 2 -3 hours and then need a couple of days where I concentrate on resting and making. That's one of the beauties of crafts - you can even do them lying down :-). Its going to be strange getting myself back into the discipline of working, especially as most of my work will be from home, so that's going to be another interesting challenge!
I've almost been marking time since the summer as my motability car mysteriously caught fire at 5am one july morning. Its taken a while to find and order a replacement, and because its an automatic with adaptations, it also takes a while to build! But 29th December I go and pick up my shiny new car!!! And I am really excited as it will give me the freedom to be able to go and teach and attend craft fairs. Even the niggles with the insurers over the hoist have finally been sorted this week - a real answer to prayer there! - so I know I'll have all the money I need to pay for the car and the adaptations!!!
I've also got some options to explore around personal coaching to help me develop my ideas into a solid and realistic business plan - provided by Women's Wisdom again!
And the commission are really starting to take off! Just recently I've been clicking away at anything and everything from hats, glittens, legwarmers to footies scarves! Also have 50 knitted pillow keyrings, another oriental bag and a crochet scarf to match a beret to do too! All in the New Year fortunately. Its really starting to pay off having an online shop, as people can see what I make and then approach me and ask for the item they love in the colours they prefer :-)
I'm also taking a whirl on the Folksy Craft Carousel, which is run very ably by the owner of One Stop Pamper Shop. And I thought today I'd take the opportunity to showcase some of the makers on the Carousel, so that all you last minute internet shoppers can go and buy buy buy and try and unseat them from their horses! Once someone has bought something, you're off until you buy something off another seller, then you get another ride!! Its a simple but brilliant idea! More to come tomorrow for my Folksy Friday!

Please Click on the picture to go to the shop!

One Stop Pamper Shop - Chocolate Fluff Candles

Laura Faye Crafts - Stunning Elegant Beaded Necklace

Deviant Panda - Skull Charm Bracelet  

The Vintage Jewellery Box - Teacup Ring with Pearl

Careford Creations - Retron French Cupcake Memoboard

The Orchid Room - "Pink Cashmere" Design Jewellery Box

Friday, 10 December 2010

Folksy Friday - Chocolate and Oranges

Am quite busy at the moment with baby presents and custom orders. Plus have a few balls stashed away to make myself a couple of toasty items over the Christmas holidays.
But with thoughts turning to Christmas, I was going through my stash and saw I had some lovely burnt orange pure wool and a ball of chocolate pure wool. And I started to think chocolate oranges - after all they are an essential part of the festive "5 a day". I started having a look at stitch patterns and found one that gave a lovely medieval / Elizabethan embroidered sleeve effect. Then I got to thinking.... hmmmm but they come in segments, so hence stripes of just orange and the colour stitch pattern evolved and after a bit of magic with a crochet hook this is the result:

And moving on, I got to thinking why not do a Folksy Friday on the "Chocolate and Oranges" theme, so here goes with a selection of items from some of this week's December Elves and other busy Folksters:

          1. Ickle Imogen      2. Moody Cow Designs
             3. Hats and More    4. Unique Beaded Gems 
            5. NofKants Curios      6. Cosmic Eden        

Please click on the image to be taken to the sellers online store


Would like to add a quick thank you to Cosmic Eden for returning the love and featuring one of my bags on her Facebook Page  - lots of other lovely things there too!!/album.php?aid=152285&id=323849311169

Monday, 6 December 2010

Shades of Red

Last week I blogged about the design process for a scarf I was knitting based on the Fibonacci sequence. Well its finally finished and all the hundreds of ends sewn in :-) I decided to join it into a circular scarf as I was getting really annoyed with a scarf the other day that kept slipping off. When I'm out in my wheelchair it can be a real pain as the scarf, if too long can catch in the wheels and I got to thinking its got to be the same for cyclists..... so have been tweeting it as the ideal pressie for cyclists! But anyone would love it as its so toasty and soft. I also added an extra design touch of a white moss stitch band to hold the 2 circles of scarf together and this is the finished project, which is now on sale in my Folksy shop for £12.00

When I went off to list the scarf on Folksy, I had a look to see what the other December Elves had been up to and noticed there were quite a few red things listed, which would co-ordinate with the scarf, so here's today's selection:
Red Coral Branch and Cz earrings - NofKants Curios

Fairy Bag Charm with Red Accent Beads - Miss Bohemia

Slouchy Hat - Hats and More  
Vintage Ruby Red Earrings - Mia Scintilla
Scandinavian Patchwork Phone Cover -the Glass Mountain

Saturday, 4 December 2010

When you can't beat the "Elfs and Safety"....

In the UK the snowy weather has put paid to many a craft market / craft fair as it was considered unsafe to have the public wandering round. Whilst in many ways I can see the sense in this, there are many crafters now thinking.... I've lost my deposit and can't find anywhere to sell my Christmas stock. AND even worse, there are many potential customers now wondering where to get the fab handmade pressies they like to give to the special people in their families.
So I thought it would be a good idea to do a special Saturday Showcase, that will allow the devoted handmade shopped to have a look around the wares of many a Folksy seller, find that special present and of course stay warm and reduce the risk of wounding their pride or anything else for that matter on the ice!

So this is what the busy Folksy Elves have been up to in Santa's workshop this week:

Your Stall Holders are:

  1. Bits and bobs Crafts     2. Red Brickglass       3. Maxine Veronica Jewellery
  4. Lily's Night Garden       5. Diddy Bears           6. Imogen's Imagination
  7. Daisy Florence Design   8. Eidelweiss             9. BusyBee Cards
10. The Fat cat Designs     11. Buttoned Up, Pinned Down
12. Damselfly Gemma

BBC rbg


Further makes can be seen at December Elves at Folksy
and My Blog Finally Made It!

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Mathematically Patterned

Have been working on a scarf design all day and have been playing with the idea of working it along certain mathematical patterns. Anyone who's ever read the "Da Vinci Code" is probably pretty familiar with the Fibonacci sequence and its also surprising how often I've seen it come up in knitting magazines when discussing colour work. So its probably no surprise that I started playing with it as an idea. If you use a number pattern then you can apparently get away with all sorts of irregular striped patterns without them looking odd. This is especially true of Fibonacci numbers as they are replicated in nature, so our eye is used to them and is designed to find beauty in them.

I got to playing with ideas and my first thought was to knit up a simple striped pattern as follows:
  • Row 1 -      colour A -1
  • Row2         Colour B -1
  • Rows 3 - 4  Colour C -2
  • Rows 5-7    colour B -3
  • Rows 8 -12 Colour C - 5 and so on up to a block of 21 rows and then reverse the pattern
But I also wanted to work in some cables - and wondered if I could do c2 F for 2 row bands, C3B for 3 row bands etc but the result was scrappy and I was unhappy with the result.
So then I thought about lace and cables - a cable band alternating with a garter st lace band but again it just didn't seem to work out. Maybe I'm too picky but it seemed that combining complex colour banding and complex patterns just made it all too disjointed and busy. So after unripping it again I chose 2 numbers from the sequence and a random number devised a pattern that seems to work:

StSt 9 sts, moss 3, StSt 9, then on 16th row (with K rows as evens)  C9f, moss 3, C9B, work another 16 rows even and C9B, moss 3, C9F. It seems to sit together well but would welcome some thoughts please :-)

I love the way the cables actually give the scarf a sinuous form almost like an hour glass figure too! A great way to show off your curves!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Weather Wednesday

Being British we all get a bit preoccupied with the weather. Here at the moment its will it snow.... ohhh its snowing.....oh will it lay?..... awwww its melting and so on! Personally am not a snow hater in anyway shape or form, and its lovely to look at and if you can get about in it play in.
But and there always has to be a but, we live in a country that's got out of the habit of snow. I remember as a child and teenager we used to have proper snow and the first house we lived in used to have huge icicles hanging off the veranda and roof and amazing frost patterns on the windows. Great fun for us but a nightmare for Mum and Dad with 2 small children in a huge old victorian house with no central heating and 2 gas fires! One year it got so deep that the farm kids couldn't get into school and our teacher - who was a bit nutty and into projects that had a class of 7 year olds planning to track and catch Nessie - had the inspired idea of doing a real life "how eskimo's live" project..... So we duly spend every afternoon out on the field building an igloo - which finally melted in April!! I don't think anyone of us in his class will ever forget it!
Now children are kept in on "health and safety grounds".... makes you wonder if the pendulum has swung too far really!
My only frustration with snow is its wheelchair unfriendliness - maybe they should make it part of the new "Single Equality Legislation" that snow has to fall in an accessible manner...... problem is by putting on here some civil service type will probably think its a good idea!! So if it does fall here I'll be confined to base for a few days at least. Did suggest my friend lent me her shitzu puppy and I could turn him into a sled dog and put ski's on my manual wheelchair but oddly she wasn't too keen! Am fortunate in that I do have good neighbours who would help if asked, plus friends who would also get me supplies if needed and now we also have online shopping. But there are lots of people in this country who aren't so fortunate, so if you know a neighbour isn't so good on their legs, they might well appreciate a tap on the door to see if they need anything at the shops if you're going. And you never know, you might also make a new friend or two as well :-)

Anyhow..... for those of you who are getting out there and playing in it, have done a trawl of Folksy and found a few people from the December Elves listings club who have some fab winter warmers for keeping the chill away:

Bits and Bobs Crafts - Floral Chunky Hat in Vintage Yarn

I have to start with Sharne as she was first off the blocks with these lovely hand warmers - fingers free for modelling your snowman's features :-)

White Chunky Handwarmers - Creative Knits

And this one is perfect for keeping your toddler toasty:

Child's Hat - Uniquely Yours

And this hat is lovely for Mum!

Wooly Hat with Ear Flaps - Loves a Good Yarn

And to keep your neck warm, a scarf in my favourite colour:

Knitted Scarf - All Things Blankets and More

Monday, 29 November 2010

Cyber Monday

Have been reading all the hype about "Cyber Monday", allegedly the busiest internet trading day of the year.... apart from "Black friday" and apparently next Monday.... so have to admit to being somewhat confuzzled :-)

But the appeal of internet shopping is growing and lets face it, there's little chance of being queue barged, attacked by little old ladies and their fearsome shopping trollies and I don't need to fit air horns and a "people plough" to my wheelchair just to get into the local "mall"..... although the temptation is strong lol!

So for those who's fingers are aching from typing and scrolling, I've had a look through Folksy and selected a range of Christmas gifts for you.... mainly featuring the November Sparks.

I've been doing forays into chunkier yarns and felting as the temperatures drop, so here is a small selection from me:

1. Felted Cowl       2. Chunky Beret     3. Crochet Gloves    4. Corsage

Bits and Bobs CraftsBits and Bobs CraftsBits and Bobs Crafts Bits and Bobs Crafts

And now a selection from the Sparks:

For someone special:

Smoky Quartz Ring, JAusten Jewellery Design

Miss Bohemia - Darkly Romantic Victorian Ring

The Jewellery Lover:

Sp Jewellery, Handmade Sterling Silver and Aventurine Earrings

Labradorite, Quartz and Red Bamboo Necklace

Christmas Decs:

Patchwork Butterfly - Christmas Secret Keeper

Pretty Girly Stocking Fillers

Ickle Imogen - Nautical Ribbon Rose Hair Clips

Keeping Warm:

Uniquely Yours - Red Slouchy Beret

Nofkants Curios - Baby Blue Fingerless Mitts

Something for the boys!

Swirly Arts - Thomas the Tank Engine Recycled Notebook