Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Swirls and Ruffles - the final results

On my last blog post I showed some WIP's using some new techniques I was experimenting with - swirls and ruffles. Once I'd got the set made up I started turning them into all manner of things from hair accessories to purses. The pics below are pics from a recent craft fair, followed by a showcase of my finished work:

The Craft Fair - All Set To Go and Praying for Sun!!

Not sure I'll give the great outdoors a go next year - but its been a good experience. Have 1 more outdoor event to go. The craft fairs are then stacking up for the Autumn, so I'm making a list and prioritising which ones I really want to go to. There's a lovely vintage event coming up at Burlsedon Brickworks that I really like the sound of. Its a fascinating place - an abandoned brick factory being brought back to life by dedicated volunteers with an interest in  industrial archaeology. Their latest project involves getting former workers together to do some form of living history. Its a good day out, with lots of hands on stuff to keep the kids happy, trains, a bookshop full of inspiration for crafters with an interest in vintage and of course an onsite miniature railway.

Spirals Showcase!

Am already getting orders for this little coin purse - available from my Folksy Shop as a custom order - click on the photo to visit the store:

Bits and Bobs Crafts

Sneak Preview of Listings to Come!

 Am planning to write up some patterns for spiral designs once my daughter is back to college and Mum's Taxi can have a bit of a rest! Its going to be challenging to explain the spiral process, I had to hunt through several blogs and how to sites before I found one that "clicked" for me.


As well as doing fairs and some teaching, I've also been trying - badly - to do the A-Listers Daily Listings Club on Folksy. Last week was manic as I had tax courses and a very short notice all day training to write and deliver. It was the first one in 3 years and I loved it. It was also a bit of a test for me as to whether I can physically cope with the demands of work again and I think I did ok all in all. And my crafts became a source of relaxation again, which I really appreciated. Am hoping that I won't go into my usual "September Slump" and have a bit of relapse - apparently its all to do with atmospheric pressure and most people with similar spinal issues experience it, so I might just have to accept its going to be a regular thing. Once I get the business established I can then plan around anticipated problem areas and ensure my workload is realistic!

Here's a mini showcase form the A-Listers - Cirles and Spirals

Laura Faye Crafts - Clear Resin Pendant

Falling Dew - Universal Jewellery

Esme Dodswoth - Round Pink Glitter Necklace

Averil Pam - Polymer Clay Layered Pendant

Gimme that Thing - Charcoal Grey Flower Ring

Monday, 15 August 2011

Crochet Techniques

I've been doing much experimenting with crochet this past week - and over the weekend I was looking around for inspiration for a craft fair - I wanted something a little different and eye catching. I'd been having a go for a while at trying to create spirals and ruffles but was never completely happy with them. So I decided to try google images and see what I could see. Sometimes I find it easier to search that way as you can actually see what you want. With the help of some fab pictures and the odd blog I finally cracked them both! As you can see from the pics the majority are still WIPS - mainly needing some ends sewn in and the bag of course needs to be lined.

I started off making some very simple spirals in 2 colours - just to see what would happen:

Decided that they looked like treble clefs if you joined 2 together so have started on a shabby chic musically inspired brooch

Some edging, crochet net and a suggestion from a friend and a simple spiral can easily become a retro snood...

Thought hmmmm what about bigger and invented a coin purse, complete with safety strap - am going to have a go at a few more colour combinations and also write up the pattern for this one.

Then a bag, very 70's retro but ideal for the minimalist!.....

And am itching to get commissions finished so I can do a scarf and a blankie..

As for the ruffles, I came across an entry for "hyperbolic" scrubbies... I knew what a scrubbie was but had no idea what hyperbolic meant... but it turned out to be "simples" - its basically when the circumference of a circle doubles or more in size with each row you add to it. The edges then start to "run away" from each other producing a lovely waved effect. The more rows you add the crinklier your work gets.

I also found that thicker yarns (DK) on thin hooks (2mm) upped the "crinkle factor" whereas 4ply yarns on the same size hook made for a smoother curve. Have started on brooches but also have some other ideas such as ruffly hats if I can sort out how to join the basics pieces together.... I do love playing with freestyle crochet so am sure there's a solution somewhere!

My 4ply ruffle is one of my favourites and has made it into my Folksy Shop as a very pretty brooch. I went out into the New Forest on a cheer me up mission with a lovely friend a few weeks back. She's a camera nut and helped me take some sunset pics

The one above is a favourite and very atmospheric. Whilst I was odds and ends hunting to have a go at ruffles, I came across a range of 4ply yarns in "sunset shades". With this pic in mind, plus many other beautiful Hampshire sunsets - across the Solent as well as the forest and even from my very urban back garden, I created this lovely little brooch. Its an ideal way to take these bright and hopeful colours wherever you roam:

Tequila Sunset Brooch - Bits and Bobs Crafts

Friday, 12 August 2011

Charting Progress with the Pink Ladies, Folksy Friday

I've been given a commission to produce a lace crochet wall display for a local shop. I love experimenting with lace so I grabbed the opportunity.... and then came the moment of fear!!! The patterns they wanted me to use were in the form of crochet charts - you can see an example HERE.The DMC America Site also has a gorgeous heart pattern - but you do need to remember that the abbreviations are written in "USA Crochet" I've seen charts in books alongside written instructions many times, had a bit of a brain melt down whilst looking at them and returned to the conventional written word.... but this time I had no choice....

So having waded through the booklet and found the pages where the chart symbols were explained in English I decided I needed to give it a go. But.... I didn't want to mess up the lovely anchor cottons I'd been given to work with, so I ripped out a baby hat I'd been given as a "spare wool" item by a friend and had a play with larger hooks and conventional yarns first. And discovered it was quite easy once you understood the code. As a result of my experimenting I created a few flowers and decided they'd look good as hair barres. So I unpicked the work again, added some clear reflective beads to the yarn and got going, the end results being ( please click on the photo's to visit my store):


Anyway as I'd mastered charts I decided to have another attempt at mastering spirals. My first attempt wasn't 100% right but with some stuffing materials and a bit of floral inspiration, it did form the perfect centre for a flower brooch. Rewatching the Grease DVD whilst in a "pink mood" then provided the inspiration for my Pink Ladies Folksy Friday :

Bits and Bobs Crafts - Pink Floral Brooch

1. Squintissential     2.CraftyBitz                             3. Aunty Joan Crafts
4. Pants and Paper   5. Be Beautiful Again Trinkets    6. Jessica's Jotters

Squintissential CraftyBitz
Aunty Joan Crafts Pants and Paper
Be Beautiful Again Trinkets Jessica's Jotters

Friday, 5 August 2011

Fileting Crochet

I've been listing a few filet crochet items in my store recently as I've developed a bit of a love for it. So I thought I'd share the basics and feature some of my favourite places for inspiration.
As a cross stitcher filet crochet appealed to me as I can use my cross stitch design software to design the filet work. And essentially its similar to cross stitch but with a crochet hook.

Stage 1 is to plan out the design - what do i want to feature?

Is it a name?

Bits and Bobs Crafts

If it is, how many letters? What size does the finished piece need to be?

A symbol?

Bits and Bobs CraftsBits and Bobs Crafts

A Covering?

Once that's decided, the next step is to work out how big it needs to be and to consider the thickness of crochet cotton to use. Crochet cotton comes in sizes 10 to 30 - the smaller the number the finer the the cotton and hence the hook. 1 - 1.75mm hooks are best for filet as they produce a denser fabric. But filet can be worked on larger scale items too, e.g. scarves and wraps to produce beautiful effects - so if you don't enjoy fine work, you can still grab a hook and get going.
I then plot the item on my cross stitch program but graph paper works just as well. Once that's done its time to get going...

The principle behind filet is to work an open net, but where you want the pattern to appear you fill in the gap. 

For a simple motif

you would make 15ch. Rows 1-3 - Miss 4 chain, 1tr into 2nd stitch from hook, *1ch, miss 1 ch, 1tr. Work from * to end.
Row 4, you would work as row 1 but where you have a coloured in square on your graph paper - for example 10 squares from the edge, you would then work 3 tr into that stitch. You then continue working a mixture of netting stitches and solid stitches until you have completed your design.

The antique pattern library has some amazing patterns that you can use to create beautiful pieces of work. It contains knit and crochet magazines from the late 19th / early 20th century. Filet crochet was really popular then so the majority of the books contain some patterns and examples.

Here are some beautiful lace inspired makes from the fabulous makers at Folksy:

1. Laura's Jewellery   2. Swings and Roundabouts   3. Gimme That Spin 
4. The Crafty Bride    5. Milly Mooshu                    6. Lynwood Crafts

Please click on the image to visit their shop

Lauras Jewellery Swings and roundabouts
Gimme That Spin Crafty Bride
Milly Mooshu Lynwood Crafts

Monday, 1 August 2011

Joining the A-Listers

Does this mean Bits and Bobs have gone up in the world? Not exactly.... The A Listers are the Folksy Folk who are taking part in the daily listings challenge for August.

Thinking of A Listers, I was beginning to wonder which celebs might be suited to the creative talents of Folksy's fabulous creators!! (as ever click on the pic to visit the store)

Cliff Richard - he might be getting on a bit but he can still "strut his stuff". He's known to be a Christian and a great reader, so I've teamed him up my beautiful personalised filet lace book mark:

This hat from Imogen's Imagination is just perfect for Kate Middleton, otherwise known as the Duchess of Cambridge as she takes up her royal duties:

Whilst these beautiful princess crayon set would make an ideal purchase for Tom Crusie and Katie Holmes to buy for their little Suri:

And perhaps Darcy Bussel would love this beautiful ballerina brooch by Laura's Jewellery:

And this beautiful keyring / handbag charm from SimJaTa2 would be perfect for Susan Boyle who's rumoured to be moving back to her childhood home soon!


Superman Returns actress Kate Bosworth would love this beautifuls Twinkle Little Star pendant from SteamPunk Storm

Steampunk Storm

Simpson's creator Matt Groenig and famous American hero, General Custer, being greyhound owners, would really appreciate this beautiful Greyhound trivet from Dach Crafts

Dach Crafts

Not being an avid reader of mags like Hello and Closer - I leave that to my daughter, this has been a real challenge but I've learned alot and had alot of fun trawling the net discovering the secrets of the celebs posted here - can you believe I found the doggy info on a site called The !

The biggest challenge was Steampunk - I eventually decided to see if I could find a celeb modelling jewellery and was fortunate to find a designer who showcases her celeb clients. The house moving was also difficult as I expect many celebs don't want to give their addresses out. Though it was really interesting reading Susan Boyle's story as she's giving up the luxury lifestyle to move back home. It says a lot to me about her values and her need to have people she can trust around her, and it sounds better than isolating yourself in a grand home like so many celebs have done over the years