Saturday, 30 October 2010

Pretty in Pink

I wasn't planning to blog today but when I uploaded my latest make to Folksy, I happened to notice there was quite an array of items featuring the colour pink in all its varios shade.
I made a pretty scarf / wrap, ideal for the coming party season or even for saving for a special summer wedding by embellishing a length of almost translucent chiffon effect fabric with some cerise organza ribbon:

Bits and Bobs Crafts - Pretty in Pink Wrap

Whilst Pants and Paper have this lovely little needle book:

Pants and Paper - Needle Book

Iyobo Design have these lovely topaz and fushcia earrings:

Iyobo Design - Fuchsia -topaz long earrings

And PyroAngel, who's been really busy with lots of posts today, has these lovely pink fimo earrings:

PyroAngel - Pink Swirl FIMO Disco Earrings

I've always liked pink since I was little and although I don't tend it wear it often these day, I still like it!

Friday, 29 October 2010

Folksy Friday - Handmade Chique

I've been thinking recently about all the economical changes and belt tightening we're facing and thought it might be a good idea to combine today's Folksy Friday with a photo montage on the theme of "charity shop chique". I took a basic cream top and skirt, both found in local charity shops and accessorised them with items from my Folksy Shop. The skirt is a real favourite in a soft suede effect fabric, and was a real bargain at £3! Only problem is that where it's wrap around I have to be really careful wearing it out if I'm using my wheelchair as if I don't get the split adjusted just right, it can end up showing far more than intended! Am hoping to go to a Clothes Customising Workshop On Sunday at the Art House in Southampton, to see if its possible to put a lace panel in. I chose neutral colours as my cunning plan was to  find other items from fellow Folksy sellers that will also bring a certain je ne sais quoi to the basic outfit - click on the picture to view in full size :-)

All the accessories are available from my Folksy Shop

So lets take the basic outfit and accessorise it with beautiful items from my Folksy Friday sellers. None of the accessories chosen cost over £15.00, with some starting as low as £3.75

Nofkants Curios Miss Bohemia 2
NoodleBubble 3 Uniquely Yours
Luvlii 5 Hannah's Handknits

1. Poppy from Nofkants Curios
2. Amber Bracelet and Earrings from Miss Bohemia
3. Poppy - all proceeds to RBL Poppy Appeal  from NoodleBubble
4. Beautiful black and gold scarf from Uniquely Yours
5. Cameo Handbag from Luvlii
6. Handknitted Hat from Hannah's Handknits

Blog Hop

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Handmade Christmas

How many people appreciate a handmade gift for Christmas? I know I do - I love the idea tha someone has given alot of thought and put the work in to give me a gift I love. Last Christmas I knitted presents for some friends and spent alot of time pleating and hand stitching some chiffon into a pretty scarf for a lady who had given me alot of practical help when I went on a weekend away with the Housing Association - she's now become a good friend. In the past I've also spent time cross stitching bird pictures for my Dad, photoshopping montages of their grandchildren for my daughter's grandparents into a montage and alot more besides.

Also what about a handmade tree? When my daughter was small and money was tight we had alot of fun with salt dough and paints making angels, wreaths, holly etc for our tree - and the test of time is that it took them 14 years to become "past it". One year we also made a nativity scene out of wooden clothes pegs, scrap fabric from a local curtain shop, odds and ends of silver paper, some straw borrowed from the guinea pig and cotton wool - and the crib scene survived a good 10 years, even though I'm sure Joseph didn't really think that lemon gingham was really him :-). We even made a few sheep from cotton wool and I think baby Jesus was cotton wool painted pink and wrapped in an off cut from an old pillow case. Its those sort of decorations that make a family tree special to all the family.... so why not have a go yourself and see what you can create?

This year I'm playing with ideas for baubles and trimmings - so far have crocheted some baubles with mirror inserts and have also created some pretty white cotton ones with a coloured fabric insert. They remind me of some beautiful 60's decs my Mum and Dad had on our tree when we were kids - hollow white plastic reindeer with red shiny paper inside.

Over on Folksy we're all promoting the idea of a Handmade Christmas and trying to get it as a hot topic on Twitter and Facebook. Am planning a feature later this week pairing my charity shop finds with hand made accessorises - to show how adding a bit of handmade flare can really lift an outfit and bring a sense of timelessness and chique.Alison at Blue Forest Jewelery did a brilliant post yesterday showing how teaming her beautiful Gothic Revival Necklace - and no am not posting a pic so you'll have to go and look :-) - with various High Street Fashions. Its amazing how this gorgeous piece of jewelley can lift classic party wear into true statement fashion.

So today am featuring handmade Christmas items from the Folks Festers that you would love to see on your tree or in your stocking.... and my Folksy Friday this week will feature the Charity Shop find and the Folksy makers who I really think have accessories that will bring them that little bit of je ne sais quoi! So watch this space!!!

I'm bringing the tree with my listing for today's Handmade Christmas:

Bits and Bobs Crafts -Red and Silver Mirrored Bauble Bits and Bobs Crafts -Red and Silver Mirrored Bauble

Whilst the FolkFesters are bringing the stocking fillers:

So first off the block is a cute thank you card.... must remember to let all those busy crafters, know you appreciated their work by Accidental Vix

One gift often received is an Address Book - but why use the High Street when you can have a beautiful handmade one from Chloe Dancer

And if you want to spoil someone what about these beautiful earrings from Damsel Fly Gemma:

or this gorgeous bracelet from Granny Smithers

Or to keep your loved ones warm and toasty, try this cinnamon centred hand and fingerless mitts set from Lemonade and Lamingtons

And for the quirky little stocking fillers, that might unleash the crafter in the recipient, what about one of these lovely little pendants from Karen's Beads

And for my Hampshire Blog Followers - this little treasury actually features 3 local artists - Damselfly Gemma, Karen's Beads and Me! So why not buy local too!!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Request for Help Promoting Handmade Christmas

Appeal to all Tweeters - us girls over at Folksy are trying very hard to promote the theme of Handmade Christmas by getting it set as a trend on Twitter - so if you are inclined to tweet we would love it if you could tweet handmadechristmas or retweet any tweets with handmadechristmas as their theme.... and if you could paste this to your FB status too that would be even more lovely - thanks xx

Sunday, 24 October 2010


There is a free pattern to download HERE for the first of my festive range, an irish crochet rose:

If you don't want to make your own, it is available from my Folksy Store, simply by clicking the image

I designed this little brooch yesterday. I've been toying with Christmas ideas for a while and made some lovely baubles, which I'll show you later in the week. The Christmas decs are in "the dangerous cupboard", which means trying to get to the tinsel I want to photograph them against could end in serious injury! am sure we all one :-). Once I'd finished it, my thoughts turned to charity makes as I've not done any for a while and I thought that this rose would be ideal as you could pick and choose the colours to match their logos. Additionally they are quick and easy to make up, so they could easily share the pattern and get their supporters crocheting them up.
Also it would make a lovely wedding favour - crocheted in the wedding colour schemes - for lady guests... the possibilities are endless...

Saturday, 23 October 2010

The Design Process

I finished off this bag last night:

Bits and Bobs Crafts - Cabling Bows bag

And wanted to share a litte of the design process.

I've noticed that cable patterns are a big feature on the high street recently but also noticed that perhaps the cables weren't often used for shaping even though they are in effect an enlarged form of ribbing. I had a thumb through various magazines and some websites that give technical advice to knitters and got sketching. I knew I wanted to have a go at making knitted in handles and also that I wanted the bag to be of a similar shape to my autumn shades bag:

Bits and Bobs Crafts - autumn shades bag

But instead of the "dropped waist" and ninety degree contrast between direction of the work, this new design needed to be in one piece. But then I realised that I was going to struggle a bit with this because to knit the whole bag in one piece would mean that the direction of the cables on the 2 top sections would not match. I'd heard of provisional casting on but never tried it so did a bit of research on the "why's what's and wherefores" and found a superb tutorial at The Knit and Tonic and decided to take the plunge. This effectively allowed me to knit the bag base in one piece, knit one top and handle, cast off and then start again from the cast on edge from the other side. It did take a bit of practice and was a bit nerve racking to start unpicking but it worked well.

To work out the sizing I made a tension swatch in stocking stitch which gave me a rough idea of the number of stitches per inch. I then thought about the size of bag I wanted and the cable pattern I wanted. I tracked down the instructions for a 6 stitch cable that could be worked on a base of 10 sts.

Bits and Bobs Crafts - Cabling Bows bag

I wanted 3 cables across the pattern panel with a moss border, so needed to have 40 sts for that section. To make sure the "skirt" both pleated and got sinched in at the "waist", I then added 4 6 st panels in reverse stocking stitch. This gave a nice ribbed skirt. I started by knitting the skirt and playing with different length ideas as I went until it looked like something I was happy with. I then rapidly decreased the 6 stitch panels to form a pleat and set up the patterning for the cable pattern. Again once happy with the length I added the moss stitch top and created a double handle for extra strength and security. Once I was happy with the look I reversed the process and after unpicking the provisional cast on, worked a second cable panel and handle.

I then used the bag itself as a net and drew a pattern for the lining, in a soft floral cotton. I decided this bag would look its best with a "close lining" - which although is more work, adds alot of strength and shape to the completed item. I always use this method for my shaped bags for this very reason. Once the bag was assembled I then started playing with embellishments and found a gorgeous brown tafetta bow, rescued from a box of chocolates, and a pretty brown vintage style button and played with the layout until I was happy.

For me, I like the design process to be organic - to start with an idea and the ghost of a pattern but to work with the yarn as it evolves and changes into the finished item. I think this is why I very much prefer to work off pattern. I don't like things to be too prescriptive as often once a piece of work is underway, I find that I want to make small changes to reflect the mood the yarn evokes.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Nuts and Oranges - Folksy Friday

As its getting progressively closer to the festive season have been thinking back to childhood stories of the Christmases my parents and grandparents experienced. And one thing that always stuck in my mind was the "stocking with nuts and oranges" - oranges being a real treat back then... So with the help of some Folksters, I've based my blog post today on the theme of "nuts and oranges" and fortunately they think just as creatively as I do...

From me is a toffee - could be brazil nut flavour :-) - duffle bag that Santa could put all the nuts and oranges in:

Bits and Bobs Crafts - Toffee and Cream Japanese Bag

Shops participating in this treasury are:

Christmas Melts - Paulines Candles,  Wooden nut and bolt memory stick - Tree Gems, Orange Tote - Top Floor Treasures, May Contain Nuts bowl - Tait Gallery, Orange Boho Retro bag - Audrey's cat, Gemstone Bracelet - Lej Jewellery

Please click on the photo to be taken to the store

Pauline's Candles Tree gems
Top Floor Treasures
Tait Gallery
Audrey's cat Lej Jewellery

Thanks to Pauline's Candles, Top Floor Treasures, Sugar Mice, Audrey's Cat, Lemonade and Lamingtons and Lej Jewellery for being my personal shoppers and recommending all the items in this treasury, and introducing me to some fab Folksy Stores I'd not come across before.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Craft Carousel

Have finally made it and found something I really wanted to buy from the many gogeous items listed on CRAFT CAROUSEL. Its a fantastic idea to encourage sales and get your products out there and really well known.
Many Folksters are reporting fantastic sales and some have even had their first sale! And with 3000 hits so far, its definitiely going to get your beautiful craft items seen.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Blue with cold?

Tis a chilly old morning as my Dad would say! Have been out and hung the washing on the line and got nigh on frostbite - so think a pair of gloves need knitting somehow :-) We all think of blue as a cold colour but for me it also reminds me of the sea and shades of summer. So have been rooting through my stock box this morning and have chosen to list a lovely sea coloured fun fibre scarf with shades ranging from blue to aquamarine to green... I almost don't want to sell it...

Bits and Bobs Crafts - Ocean Shades Scarf
The beauty of these fun yarns is that once you can plain and purl without gaining or dropping stitches anyone can grab 2 balls of yarn and make their own. I remember the first time I knitted with eyelash type yarn - it was a jacket for a church sale that I was asked to knit and I hated the stuff - it was blue and I ended up calling the jacket "big bird with a blue rinse" lol - but when I used similar yarn for scarves and wraps I loved it - I just don't think it makes good garments :-)

I think today's folksfesters must be feeling the chill too as they have listed many blue items:

Audrey's Cat - Vintage Blue Brooches

Heirloom Bunting - tuck in pocketed scarf in a fun pom pom yarn

Lilly's Night Garden- 6 blue coasters in presentation box

Lemonade and Lamingtons - Boy's Crochet Beanie Hat

Monday, 18 October 2010

Learning and playing

Not sure about anyonelse but I find sewing items up is the bane of my life - especially small items like mittens etc. I have more circular needles than DPNS though and although I don't mind using DPN's I quite often find them fiddly to start with. I was asked to mock up a pair of fingerless mitts at the weekend which could lead to a commission :-). But I couldn't find 2 of my 4mm DPN's but did have 3.25 mm and 4mm circulars.... and lo and behold in this months Lets Knit, not only were there free circular needles but instructions on how to do "Magic Loop Knitting". I got a tad confused though and decided to google it and found some really useful video and pictorial tutorials. I found one from Weeble Knits the easiest to understand.

I've also been experimenting with colourwork patterns that use slip stitching instead of fairisle to make patterns and devised the following one for the mitts:

Pattern is in stocking stitch throughout - you need multiple of 5sts + 4
Rows 1-4 knit in colour A
Row 5 - Change to colour B - k4, sl1 kwise to end, K4
Row 6 - P in B
Row 7 - Change to A, K4 sl1 K wise to end K4
Row 8 - P in A
Row 9 and 10 - as for rows 5 and 6
Rep pattern from beginning

This gives an easy pattern that looks quite effective once completed:

And the finished items are on sale in my Folksy shop too at a very reasonable £5

I think these slip stitch patterns are great for both beginners and experienced knitters. Beginners can create colourful and reasonably intricate patterns with very little effort and experienced knitters can run up intricate knits quite quickly.... am also experimenting with another slip stitch technique called mosaic knitting.... pics to follow :-)

For today's October Folksfest, I have decided to carry on the theme of stitch patterns that can create quite intricate and effective texture and / or colour work - just click on the caption beneath the picture to go to the store:

Tea Cosy from Tiggi Designs

Variegated yarns - Fingerless Mitts from Ecklectic Fish

Rib stitch elephant from Woolly Lakes - up for adoption :-)

And for new crocheters - the simple addition of a contrasting edging stripe in this cute design:

Smurf  / Smurfette hat and pocket scarf from Nofkants

Friday, 15 October 2010

Keeping skills alive

Over the past few days have been teaching some friends to knit.... and its made me think about how mothers are less likely these days to pass these skills on, for a multitude of reasons. Maybe its just easier to go and grab an item of knitwear off the high street, or there's less time with the demands of work and home but there is nothing like having a handknitted or crocheted item in soft yarn to wrap round you and keep out the chilly evenings. We were even taught knitting at school, a parent would come in and we would either opt out of the art lesson or give up some of lunch to sit and knit. In today's schools the national curriculum, shorter breaks etc often puts paid to such activities and we are potentially in danger of losing some of our craft skills.

But knitting and crocheting for the October Folksfest has concentrated my mind onto creating small items that have a bit of interest and skill involved, namely keyrings, corsages and gloves.

Aran Cushion Keyring

Deco Squares Fairisle Mittens

And it got me thinking about how many people might actually be put off knitting and crochet simply because they think its necessary to make a jumper and lets face it, that can seem pretty daunting... so for today's Folksy Friday, I've decided to hunt down little items that a beginner could make themselve or that would start to extend the skills of an intermediate yarn crafter....

Booties by Dannie - Striped Infant Pixie Hat
Mildunkley Beads
Josie-Marie Witchy Knits
Little Seeds Purple Pebble

1. Striped Pixie hat - Booties by Dannie             2. Crocheted Owl Apple Cosy - Little Seeds
3. Knitted Cherry Brooch - Josie Marie             4. Bubble Gum Pink, Tiny Glove Keyring - Mydunkely Beads
5. Stripey Knitted Hat - Witchy Knits               6. Halloween Children's Crochet Fingerless Gloves - Purple Pebble