Archive for the 'crafts' Category

Pre-shop opening giveaway!

December 9th, 2013

I’ve been beavering away in the background taking pictures of pretty things to stock my little shop up with, but that seems to be taking forever, cropping and re-sizing pictures, amending the colours on some, which quite frankly bores me (wish it didn’t, I would have had lots more blog posts then!) so in the meantime, and spurred on by a post I saw on Sew Mama Sew, I thought I would host a little give away for you and take part in Giveaway Day 2013!



give away

I’m giving away a small sewing basket, pin cushion and needle case pictured above (as well as some other pretty things I will put in as an extra surprise for the winner).

  • The basket is a vintage one I up-cycled and has a padded lid, perfect for poking pins into, and contains a tape measure, needles, pins and a pair of scissors.  It’s made from tiny gingham and has a vintage pink crochet doily appliqued to the top, closing with a duffel coat toggle.
  • The pin cushion is a pretty berry printed poplin, topped with felt leaves and a crochet Irish rose.
  • The needle case is a felt strawberry, hand beaded on both sides and has 2 wool felt leaves for you to store all your needles safely.

All of these have been handmade by me, and I hope will bring many hours of sewing pleasure to the winner.   I always think that no matter how experienced a crafter you are, you deserve to have nice tools to use when working.

Want to enter?  All you have to do is comment on this post and tell me your favourite crafting tip – can be sewing, knitting, crochet – whatever floats your boat really.  The winner will be picked by having the most useful tip for people to use.  I’ll do a round up of all the tips so we can all benefit from them too.

Stuff to note:

I will ship internationally, so this give away is open to everyone, wherever you are.

The giveaway is open until 5pm PST on 13th December (if you’re in the UK that means 1am on 14th!) after which a winner will be picked, and the announcement will be made on the blog, with the winner being emailed by Sunday 15th.


Thank you for taking part, and I look forward to hearing all your tips! xoxo


P.S. Have a look at some of the other amazing giveaways posted on Sew Mama Sew too!


It’s not all jam and Jerusalem…

June 21st, 2012

Hi, my name is Claire and I am a member of the Women’s Institute.   Very proud member in fact; so much so I volunteer on the committee too.  Our WI is one of the newer generation of WIs where most of our members are in their 20′s/30′s, most work full time or are studying but all have an interest in cooking, crafting, gardening and generally meeting other interesting people.  I think that the perception of the WI is changing, mainly thanks to some of the other, newer WIs springing up all over the place, and popular media is helping too with films, TV shows and documentaries.

I probably had one of the best introductions to being in a WI as the first meeting I went to was a baking taster evening in Oct 2010 – the range of baked goods that evening was amazing and I met loads of other new people who were also new to the WI.  I’m actually quite reserved (I hesitate to use the word shy) with people that I don’t know, and wondered if this would be somewhere that people would be friendly (I can feel quite panicky in new social situations) but I need not have worried.  I even got chatting to a lady from Ballymoney where David’s family live, really proving that it is a genuinely small world!   One of the nicest things about our WI (and the other couple of WIs I have visited) is that they are really friendly, so you never really feel on your own as there’s usually a bunch of people that introduce themselves to you before you’ve had a chance to get a cuppa!

So, what do we do, apart from eat cake?  Well cake clearly does feature significantly in most of the things we are associated with, but there’s more to us than that.  Each month we have a guest speaker on a topic that is of interest to the group – last month we had a talk on organic gardening from Ecoworks.  We have also had talks on vintage fashion, eating seasonably, and the work of the Lincs and Notts Air Ambulance.  Sometimes we book guest speakers, other times we have really fascinating talks from within the membership, such as our January meeting where one of our members spoke about her experiences of volunteering to help clear up the damage left by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  Next month we are having Robin Hood guide us on a walk around Nottingham.

The WI also have a long history of (and a fearsome reputation for) campaigning on a variety of issues, from environmental campaigns such as helping save the bumblebee, to reducing packaging on foods (I love that some WIs took back all of their excess packaging to the supermarket and dumped it on the manager for them to deal with).  The current resolution (what members vote on and what will be campaigned on in the following year) is to call for more midwives, and for more midwife training.   The resolutions are proposed by members, and voted on so whatever causes are close to people’s hearts they have a chance to submit proposals each year to be (hopefully) selected and voted on – I like the democracy of the process, which seems to make a refreshing change in the current climate!

One of the things we do really well in Nottingham City WI is our fetes – this year will be the third fete we have held, and the second one that I have been involved in.  This is one of the main ways we raise money for charity – this year’s nominated charity is The Friary Drop In, an organisation I work with closely in my day job and who do some pretty phenomenal work with really disadvantaged people, on next to no money.  We raise money for this by selling cakes – have a look at the cake table from last year:

(Excuse the rubbish picture – these were taken on my phone as I had sensibly left the camera at home…!) and by having a raffle, which last year was epic and covered the bar upstairs completely.

Speaking personally it’s the only place pretty much I sell my Pinky and Boo bits and bobs now, and there are lots of other really talented crafters out there who also sell their work too.

This was my stall last year: 

This year our fete is on 7th July at Cape Bar in Hockley, Nottingham from 11-3.  I know I could be accused of being biased, but you really aught to come down and have a look.  Not only is there the amazing cake stall and raffle (which lets face it is actually reason enough) but you can get hold of some lovely crafts, clothing, home grown plants, pottery, even get your nails manicured!  And meet some lovely people in the process of it all too.  Who knows, you may even end up joining us too!

If you don’t live in Nottingham, find out where your nearest WI is – I thoroughly recommend you find out what they’re up to, you may be surprised! xoxo

P.S.  We don’t sing Jerusalem either!

Plinth patchwork

August 16th, 2009

You may remember that our little craft group Stitched Up were approached by a local actress/ artist Hazel Ellerby to join in making squares for a patchwork that would be shown for the “One and Other” art project in Trafalgar Square.  Life for me has been a bit crazy recently, working my usual full time hours, as well as weekend classes at the Textile Workshop and my usual evening classes, so I didn’t know whether I would manage to get a patch of my own done in time.  I ended up rushing things a bit and managed to get this done in an evening, which wasn’t entirely what I had originally planned, but was happier with then I thought I would be, if that makes sense.029

I wanted to use a something that remided me of who started me off on all this crafting business – my parents.  There’s some pictures in there I have already blogged about before here, and one of my parents I took when I was about 14 at Brimham Rocks that sits on my dressing table. 028 I love this picture – they both look so happy in it, and for once my dad isn’t fooling around in the picture (can’t think where I get that from at all….).  I also appliqued a part of a vintage tray cloth and some scraps of fabric and lace, and embellished it with different embroidery stitches, bordering it all with a ribbon.  I wrote some text that I pinned to the back of the piece and left it to be collected.

Hazel took to the plinth on Weds this week, and I was surprised to see the amount of squares she had collected up – the quilt was double sided and then she ended up having to make bunting from it all (which I love the idea of!) to display them.  I was excited to see some of the patches I had seen, texted Vicky when I saw hers, and then saw mine.  If you watch the video you will hear some of the really emotional stories behind people’s squares.  You can see a bit of my square at 17 minutes, and at about 21 minutes you can hear all of Vicky’s text and half of mine read out (Hazel’s mum was heckling her to speak up!).035

What was a bit wierd, in a nice way, was when I was looking for images from somewhere I had been with my parents, to use as the background.  I ended up Googling “Sutton in Craven” – the village my mother lived in when she left home, and where my dad would visit her each week with a bunch of Chrysanths and a box of chocolates (how romantic!), and where we visited lots when I was little.  I found the village website, and was looking through the gallery of pictures when I saw a folder of “hostel girls” – the hostel was set up for the girls and women who weren’t originally from the village for them to live in whilst at work.  There were quite a few pictures that I recognised in there from my mother’s  photo album, and then there I found this. img095 It was such a nice shock – my mam is the one on the left at the back – pretty much in the centre of the photo, with her arm round who I seem to recall was her best mate (Jean?) who then moved to Australia, the girls in front I recognise but I don’t know who they are.  I ended up ordering some prints of the set, and am trying to contact the guy whose pictures they are.  My sister has all my mam’s pictures, and I wish that I had access to them as I would like to use some of them in my textiles.  My mam would have been about 19, and from the look of it was experimenting with setting her hair as it seems to be quite curly at the back!  I’d love to know what they were all giggling about as they seem to have been having a good time!

The technique that I used for my patch I will do a tutorial for soon, as it’s so easy and has such potential for stitching and working with, so watch this space.  Later today I am off to join my friend in Cromer – her parents have just moved there and so we’re camping in their garden – roll on beach walks and Cromer Crab for tea! xoxo

Calling all women of the East Midlands!

July 20th, 2009

Those of you in the UK, and further afield for that matter, may have heard about the art project in Trafalger Square, on the Fourth plinth of Nelson’s Column. Our craft group Stitched Up have been approached by Hazel Ellerby, a local actress/ artist to help make a quilt t0 celebrate the women of the East Midlands. She’s asking for women to contribute a quilt square that passes on a message either about yourself, or what you would want to say to the world. The squares will be sewn into a qulit, exhibited following the plinth day (12th August) and then eventually taken apart to be sold for charity.plinth 014

If you would like to take part, the quilt blocks need to be 12″ by 12″ making an eventual square of 10″, and they can be sent to Hazel at:

Hazel Ellerby, 17a Fisher lane Bingham Nottingham NG13 8BQ.

Don’t forget to pin a piece of paper to the back of your piece, with your name and a message to the world!

The rest of the quilt blocks that have been made so far are on the Stitched Up flickr pool page – have a look at the variety of lovely blocks people have made xplinth 001plinth 013

New hobby and news

June 19th, 2009

For the last couple of weeks I have been dipping a (rather hesitant at first) toe into bobbin lace making. Sue who is one of the Stitched Up regulars is an incredibly talented lace maker, and brought along a spare pillow and bobbins and encouraged us to have a play. Now, when Sue does something she does it with such confidence that you could be forgiven in thinking that it’s easy. She even makes bobbin lace look easy. Now to be fair the way Sue explained it it wasn’t as complicated as I thought it was, as you only work on 4 bobbins at a time (get me – instant expert eh?)
Here’s my first piece – a sample of the different stitches. I did find myself talking to the bobbins for the order they go in (although it’s not the only thing I talk to to keep in line!). Sue then scared me by getting me to try out a pattern. Now I love the leaf thing in the middle, and the use of a different coloured thread makes things easier to see, but the edge, well I still don’t feel that confident that I know what I am doing when Sue isn’t on hand to talk me through it!
What has been good is that I haven’t had this level of enjoyment for something new in ages, and it is good to remember that. One of the nicest things when I have been teaching is that people are enthusiastic about the things I have been showing them on the course that I take for granted as I have been doing them for ages, like embroidery or sewing on a machine. It’s that excited, clap your hands together feeling you get when you try something new that I haven’t had for ages.
And now for something completely different – Pinky and Boo will soon be moving to a new home. I have had the domain Pinky and Boo for ages (over 2 years I believe….) and nothing has ever really been done with it, but now Vicky is sticking all the stuff that needs to be on there, and making it work as well as look pretty – I spent a lovely afternoon with her last weekend looking at fonts for the logo and pretty colours for the site, as well as what will go on it – it will be a home for the blog as well as having an e shop and other bits and bobs on it. Vicky‘s another one who makes things look easy… Anyway, more progress on that soon. Til then, here’s some gratuitous cute kitty shots xoxo

Courses for sewing and crafting pleasure

June 10th, 2009


Long time no see as my Dad would have said…. Reasons for absence range from being locked out of my email address and therefore all other sites that use the same login and password to changing computers, work and general “meh” feeling that I think I moaned about earlier.

Anyhoo, I thought I would pass on details of the courses I am teaching over the summer. The courses are all based at the Textile Workshop in Sherwood (a couple of miles out of Nottingham City Centre with tons of parking, and surrounded by charity shops….) and are organised by South Nottingham College. The 2 day courses all cost £32 for the two days, with most materials already provided for you, although some of them may ask you to contribute a couple of pounds if you need extra. All courses run from 10 til 4, with a lunch break.

11th and 12th July – Transferring Images

Day 1 we will be having a play with various techniques for transferring designs to fabric, including crayons, transfer dyes, pens, photocopies, as well as shoving random bits and bobs through an ink jet printer like printable cotton, Aida and Vilene. A fun day that is a bit like playing, and getting messy!
Day 2 we will spend making an item or items out of your creations from the day before, whether an embellished picture, bag, purse…. the limit is your imagination! If this course fills up I will be offering more dates as it’s a popular course and we can’t have more than 6 or 7 in a group.

If you want to take part and have pictures/ photos you want to print, please bring these along with you on CD or USB stick.

25th and 26th July – Recycling clothes

A chance to refashion some of your/ your childrens’/ your partners’ clothes into something new – we all have plain tops, skirts, cardi’s etc that are perfectly fine, but maybe you are a tad bored with. Learn techniques such as applique, embroidery (hand and machine) as well as basic alterations to help fit. If you are a bit scissor happy then this is a constructive way of having some credit- crunch fashion help!

1st and 2nd August Bag and purse making

2 days of making yourself a handbag (or handbags if you are a super fast sewer!) and co-ordinating zip purse from a variety of patterns. Patterns will be copied at full size a available for you to take away. Materials such as interfacing, lining, zips and fasteners will be available for use, as well as some fabric, although we would strongly suggest you bring along your own fabric for the outer (some of the donated fabric we have is a bit dated rather than vintage…) – 1 metre would be sufficient. The Textile Workshop also stocks Moda and Amy Butler fabrics so you could treat yourself to some yummy fabric whilst you are there!

8th and 9th August Beginners sewing machine skills

A 2 day course to help familiarise yourself with the basic functions of your sewing machine, including setting your machine up, selecting threads, feet and needles as appropriate, different stitches for different uses, putting in a zip (they really aren’t scary!), making a button hole as well as having a play with free machine embroidery. At the end of the 2 days you will have made either a cushion or a purse as well as an embroidered corsage. If you have your own machine and would like to bring it with you so you can learn on it, please feel free.

29th and 30th August Hand and Machine embroidery

Day 1 we will be covering a variety of hand embroidery stitches, as well as covering all you need to know to get started – if you have ever tried a stitch and not “got” it, then this course is ideal for you, as well as being an ideal start to those considering my 20 week course in and embroidery starting in September! All materials will be provided for you including threads, hoops, and a variety f materials to embroider onto.
Day 2 we will be covering the basics of free machine embroidery, including using different threads for different effects, and how to combine both hand and machine embroidery. If you have your own machine and would like to learn on this feel free to bring it along with you.

In september I will be teaching more courses, either 15 or 20 week accredited courses – more details about these in the summer!

If you like the sound of the courses and want to book on to any of them, please contact Karen Taylor (course co-ordinator) at the Textile workshop on 07809 158606, or at the shop on 0115 9603337 and she will be happy to help. If any of you do book on, please let me know so I can put a face to the name! x

Pretty flowers

July 28th, 2008

Thanks so much for the dress comments – you have confirmed in my head what I wanted- aren’t the Candy Anthony dresses just divine though – sooo wish I had the cash to have thrown at one of those bad boys.

Do you want to see what 200 Irish crochet flowers look like?Yep, 200. Doesn’t look that much really does it? That does however represent many many hours spent with a fine (1mm) hook and different threads. I think I have used up about 5 whole reels and lots of bits of reels of thread. They are all different shades of warm white – thought it would provide a subtle contrast to the Ivory dress… Will be making the dress itself on Thursday and Friday so I will keep you posted on how it’s going.
Less than a month now – aaargh! So much to do, but at least after a week away I feel refreshed, relaxed and ready to go (for once in my life) – just wish I didn’t have to work!

What do you think to these babies? My friend Uzmah is a trained florist and she did these for me as my wedding gift – I think they are stunning and are identical to the ones I had pictured. when I planned what I wanted. It’s long (reaches to my knees when I hold them at waist height) and I am so so happy with them. The red roses have pearls at their centres, as I will be wearing my grandmother’s pearl necklace, and putting pearls on the dress, so it kinda goes….The bridesmaids’ posies need to be finished off – they are missing the peach roses that are in mine and I will get them tomorrow – when they’re done Uzmah will bind the stems with ribbon to make a handle. Watching her work was fantastic – she made it look so easy. I tried copying what she was doing for the posies and mine looked like a toddler had done it – these she made in about 5 minutes each. It would be so easy to hate her if she wasn’t so lovely! I was on a bit of a roll when we’d done them and I have (with help from the Stitched Up ladies – Vicky in particular – thanks hon x) done almost all of the buttonholes too. We’re getting there….Going to start the bunting on Weds too.

Anyway I thought I would end with some pictures of the changing faces of Cromer, where I stayed with my best friend Rach last week – the weather was freezing,stormy and then boiling hot (such is an English summer!) and I have developed a lovely tan. Til next time xoxo

Postal goodies

February 23rd, 2008

Don’t know what’s happening with the blogging – it seems I have a lot to show you and getting round to actually doing it too. My word, I wonder how long this will last!
After feeling a bit under the weather last night and this morning, I was cheered up to find an envelope waiting to be opened up from Heather in Arizona. I’d won a giveaway on her blog to win Kitty. She’s lovely and I think I will use her on a workbag – something that I will use often rather than something that would only be used occasionally, although it is tempting to put her on a handbag. Heather also put in a tracing of a radish by Vogart – perfect for including on some of the new aprons I am making. Thanks Heather, it’s lovely!
Checking my blog I also found I had been given the Random acts of kindness award by Rebekah, so thanks a lot for that – it’s lovely. I’d like to pass it on to Elizabeth, and Drewzel, and in fact all other people who make my day by reading this little blog and passing comment on my ramblings – you’re all great!
Bouyed up by all of this I have started tidying up again, and made some more Pinky and Boo lables I use the transfer paper you can buy in any stationers and print them, then iron them on to double faced satin ribbon. Need to buy some more paper next week as I need more lables and have run out of paper.

I’m going to throw myself in the shower now and then have a wonder down to the charity shops to see what’s new – if I’m lucky I may even be back tomorrow with some thrifty finds x

More stock being added

December 12th, 2007

Hi All

Thanks for stopping by – I have been a very neglectful bogger recently, but I have been very productive and making lots of things. Over the next day I will be adding some more stock for Chritmas (late I know but if you’re in the UK it’s fine for buying still. Will post more tomorrow – it’s now past midnight and I have to be on a train to London tomorrow at 8….but in the meantime here’s some of the things on offer:

Vintage style christmas baubles with wool, cotton and vintage lace

Christmas stockings made from vintage cotton, hand embroidered and lined with vintage gingham – each one is unique

Vintage chrismas bunting – with bells on!

And wreaths to match the baubles and bunting – topped with a cheeky feather robinThanks for stopping by – will pop back again tomorrow as soon as all the items are listed on Etsy. ‘Night x

A tale of stoned kitties, and a peek at Pinky and Boo …

November 20th, 2007

This seems quite strange – more posts so far than I have managed to achieve in weeks… Lets see how long this holds up eh?
As I have decided to have the morning off and go in to work about lunchtime (I am working til 9pm tonight, tomorrow and Thursday training new volunteers, so I am not that slack) I thought since David has been working hard on my website, I had better take some decent pictures of the things I have made that I want to put on it. Now the cats are still not happy with me for making them stay in (ideally for at least another week) they usually spend their time complaining loudly at me (Betty), beating each other up, or sleeping in one of their many spots they have adopted. Stella in particular likes either wedging her backside on the very narrow windowsill, and sleeping there, or curled up on my mothers Lloyd Loom ottoman, which is currently on the landing (ideal for rolling over and randomly jabbing whatever is coming up or down the stairs at the time). Betty find really random places, and tends to prefer somewhere dark, so she can’t be seen. She had wedged herself on the spare bed (I say wedged, as it was covered in stuff taken out of boxes but at the minute doesn’t have a home) and I dumped some wet washing on her before putting it on the clothes airer, cos I simply didn’t see her in there.
Now this morning I wanted to clear a space in the rather grandly titled “sewing room” (in reality a room where all my craft stuff has been put – no sewing going on in there just yet…) to take some pics. In amongst a box of odds and ends I had unpacked I found a bag of Catnip I had bought for them. Not all cats react to Catnip but this pair love it. I seem to recall Stella scaling the heights of a 6 foot empty bookcase to get to the bag on top of it the last time I moved. If you have ever spent any time watching people who are stoned and you have access to cats, I strongly suggest you purchase a bag of catnip and give it a try. You really see the different “stoner” personalities coming out. Betty tends to just go a bit odd, and last night kept stalking nothing, just whatever her own mind conjured up. Stella gets really into it, rolling round, luxuriating in it. Then spent last night sat underneath the cupboard in the kitchen that houses the boiler, watching it fire up, run, and then switch off again… For about 2 hours… It wasn’t until I went in the “sewing room” this morning to find why they had been so odd (or moreso than usual) – the catnip stash had been ripped open, was covering the floor and anything nearby, they had knocked over a box of pins (not happy about that, and neither would they if they had had to go to the vets to retreive a pin from somewhere) and Betty was snuffling around in it trying to get her morning fix. As that room is the only one in the house to have laminate (the rest are stained floorboards) it was quite easy to sweep it up and put it in another bag, and be hidden in my desk. I tell you it’s like sharing a house with a pair of teenages the sulks you get when they aren’t allowed out, and then finding them stoned upstairs…. Goodness knows what kind of parent I would make!
I only managed to take pictures of the pin cushions and needle cases this morning – the light is rubbish, and I think I will try something else later before work, but here’s some of the pictures I have taken so far – what do you think?Betty assumed her post again as artistic director and supervised the pictures, occasionally rearranging things with her tail where she saw fit..
More picture to follow when I take some more x

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