Monday, 16 April 2018

Butterfly beads for spring

This hasn't been the easiest weekend. I learned never to place a bag of jelly sweets next to patchouli and sandalwood incense - the sweets taste dreadful after that. I hurt my wrist while doing some spring cleaning (is this an excuse not to spring clean?). It is now bandaged and looking very sorry for itself. And my Ottlite blew up. Yes, it blew up with a futt-ing noise and flames. It is nearly seven years old and was used all day, every day for those seven years so I will make excuses for it. But I did get a bit of a fright.

However, I did manage to get some new beads designs finished. This is the first of them - Butterflies. Of all the designs I have made over the last ten years of bead making I don't think I have ever made butterfly beads. Mmmm, strange! You can find them in my Etsy store - if they haven't sold out already (did I mention I am trying out positive thinking?)

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

An update for early spring

Just a quick update on what I have been doing since I have obviously not been writing blog posts. There are some new moves afoot at the moment. A bit like the mad scientist, I am trying out some new things. I have some new bead designs in the pipeline. They should be available soon. However there are some new products that I am working on that focus more on my art. I don't want to say too much right now as I am getting some things finalised before the big announcement - but there is a certain cuteness factor. More to come soon. In the meantime, here is a look through the mad scientist's microscope.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Fair isle adventures

Today there are 14 inches of snow in the garden. We were hit by the so-called 'Beast from the East' - a heavy duty weather front bringing cold weather from Russia. It is magnificent. The roads are blocked so none of us can go anywhere but the countryside is wonderful. Luckily I did a big shop for groceries as we knew this was coming at us. So, with that in mind, I thought is was a good day for a knitting post.

Growing up my Gran had fair isle covers for her hot water bottles. Those covers mesmerised me - they were not very comfortable to have stuffed down the bed (itchy!) but they were colourful and intricate. I loved them, even if I didn't use them on my own teddy bear covered bottle. I don't know what happened to them.

If you have been reading my blog recently you will know about my current knitting obsession. So it was only natural that I would want to try fair isle knitting at some point. However, knitting a hot water bottle cover was always going to be a step too far for a beginner to fair isle. I figured I could try some simple stranded knitting first. 

My first project was a Christmas bauble from Arne and Carlos' book 55 Christmas Balls to Knit. It is now tucked away in the Christmas decoration box in the cupboard and I forgot to photograph it (DOH!). A stranded bag followed courtesy of Craftsy's Cut Your Knitting: Strand and Steek with Confidence class.

Next stop, a stranded hat from a lovely simple and quick pattern by Sarah Tattrie of Rustic Willow Creations on Etsy. I actually fell in love with the colour combination in the photo and stuck with it for my own attempt. It worked out beautifully. I did change the needle sizes to suit my big head but the instructions were lovely and clear.

Then - the big one. Fair isle! I found a free pattern on Ravelry for some fair isle cuffs by Little Cotton Rabbits. Again, the colour combo caught my eye. So much brighter than some of the traditional fair isle colours. The appropriate wool was bought and I sat down to start. 

I can't believe how straight forward it was. You look at a page of squares that form intricate patterns and your brain explodes at the prospect. But it is totally logical. Patience and a little focus and you're off. This is the end result. I did have to unravel four rows as I'd got carried away with a plain green row. I knitted an extra half row which threw off the pattern further up. I didn't do the whole cuff either. What I was really looking for was a little fair isle purse - so I just finished early and stitched the bottom using a three needle cast off. 

Next project? Some leg warmers using a pattern from Nordic Knits by Martin Storey. I'll let you know how it goes - once I actually get the project on the needles.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Bird painted wooden beads

With spring being just around the corner the garden is full of birds, both big and small. Time to paint some new beads with some of the stars of the garden bird parade that happens every day.

The blackbirds come in tribes these days. With it being a cold winter these birds, who are usually wary of other blackbirds in their territory, become much more tolerant. In hard winters I have counted as many as nine blackbirds in the garden at once.

Hand painted wooden bead with blackbird.

 The blue tits are nearly always in the garden. Such colourful little birds and always a pleasure to watch.

Hand painted wooden bead with blue tit.

 The greenfinches have been fewer in number for a few years. Ravaged by a bird related virus, there are only two or three that visit now.

Hand painted wooden bead with greenfinch.

And many people's favourite, the robin. There are a few robins in the garden at the moment, this being mating season for some robins.

Hand painted wooden bead with robin.

You can find them on Etsy or in my web store.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

My first quilt

Just before Christmas I finally finished my first proper patchwork quilt. I am so pleased with it. So the seams are a little off in places and the colours are not always in the right places - or even the right pattern for the project. But I made a proper quilt.

I used several charm packs and fabrics from Moda in traditional patterns and backed it in fabric from the Gratitude collection in Parchment, also by Moda.

At the moment it lives on my bed. It is an excellent extra layer on the cold winter nights. However, what really struck me when I finished it was how close I felt to history. For centuries people made patchwork quilts to use up old fabric and make something functional. It would often come from necessity rather than fun. But there is something very wonderful about a home made quilt. It gives a comfort that I have never felt from a shop bought quilt. I can't help but wonder if that magical feeling happened for our ancestors too.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Sketching the garden flowers in bloom

I can't believe it has been over five weeks since I last wrote a blog post. My last post was Christmas Eve - and I can't believe that Christmas has been and gone either. January has been a really slow month though. Not much in terms of creativity but lots of reading - mainly about business related topics.

I have done a little painting though. A selection of mini landscapes (which I will post about later) and some quick sketches of the flowers that are bursting forth in the garden. The flowers were an exercise in speed painting and took about ten minutes each.

Christmas rose watercolour sketch

Iris watercolour sketch

Snowdrop watercolour sketch

Finally, I painted one of the rabbits form the field opposite my house. We had snow for a few days and I watched this guy playing in the field after one heavy fall. I couldn't make up my mind if he was enjoying it or annoyed at having to dig for his supper.

Rabbit watercolour sketch

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Merry Christmas!

Just a quick note to say Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it, my best wishes to those who don't and a happy New Year to everyone. I have appreciated every sale and letter of encouragement over the last year. It has been a struggle for many people, I know. We are all watching the world stage and wondering what the future will hold. Things are uncertain for so many of us. So it awes me that people choose to spend their hard earned money with me, to take time to look at what I sell and 'like', 'favourite' or share it on social media. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

I forgot - Beads for Christmas: part 3

I forgot to mention these new beads - Mindfulness Words on Etsy (still not updated the web site). The second bead from the top actually reads 'Living in the Moment'. I just couldn't fit it all in the photo. As someone who has meditated and practised yoga for a long time I figured they were rather apt messages for me to remember. I am in need of a break.

Mindfulness paper beads

However I am now officially on holiday from work and, boy, am I going to be creative. At least that's the plan. New crafts I'm hoping to try - chocolate making, marquetry, hand dying threads. Crafts to finish - the binding on a quilt, a knitted scarf, a crocheted duck and sewing a little shoulder bag. I'm only off for the week though. I may need another holiday by the time I'm finished.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Beads for Christmas: part 2

These are the new Bohemian beads I promised. Three sets in purple, blue or turquoise and brown. I am rather fond of these ones. I have a soft spot for all things Boho anyway but I may have to make myself something with the turquoise and brown ones. As I mentions in my last post, they are only available on Etsy at the moment.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Beads for Christmas

I finally found some time to make some new beads designs - and update some older ones. You can find them on Etsy at the moment while my web site undergoes some updating.

I added a new colourway in the Moroccan beads - Moroccan Sunrise. These are one of my all time best sellers so I am hoping people will like the new colours. Of course, the original Moroccan beads are still available too.

Years ago I sold some mermaid theme beads and with the resurgence of ocean themed crafting I thought these might go down well, along with.....

 .... these lighthouse and beach beads. A customer asked me to make some sea themed beads for her earlier this year. I thought these worked out so nicely that others might appreciate them too.

There are three more brand new designs to come shortly. This time in a Bohemian theme. I have to admit that they are looking rather nice. Hopefully they will be online in a few days.