Wednesday, 29 February 2012

An extra day to blog!

Happy Leap Year everyone, there's a cute froggy image on Google today.
This is my first leap year since starting the blog so it gives me an extra day to show you something new.

This week I've had printed samples back from one of my latest Spoonflower fabric designs. It is a retro look fabric which I've created in a collage style using my old stamp collection and some antique magazines, postcards and books.
At the moment this is only available to buy on Spoonflower, it may appear in my Folksy shop at a later date.

Whilst on the subject of old magazines, here are a couple of lovely examples which were charity shop finds. I love the advertising designs inside, the typography and the illustration style.

There are some lavishly illustrated pictures inside, the colour reproduction is excellent and has remained vibrant over 50 yrs later.

Who knows, there may be another fabric design lurking in the pages of these mags!

Monday, 27 February 2012

Hearts & devils

A strange blog post title but my weekend has been spent finishing the Mother's Day fabric hearts & doing some digital artwork of a devil.

I embroidered the fronts of my fabric hearts and stitched a bit of chopped up vintage linen on them too.

I stitched them up with some pretty rose fabric for the back and attached a small pouch of lavender on the outside. For these hearts I wanted the lavender on the outside so that it is easy to refresh and dab with lavender oil on the back so as it doesn't affect the embroidery threads on the front.

These are the finished hearts which are lightly stuffed with polyester filling.
Next step, list in Folksy shop.

The devil I'm working on is none other than the little Stonegate Devil of York, or as he is also known 'The Printer's Devil' (a nasty little rascal who would mix up and misspell type when this shop was a printers). Here's a work in progress with the devil photo I'm working from underneath.
This is part of a series of posters I'm working on with a York theme.

Friday, 24 February 2012

New book & hearts in progress

The week seems to have flown past, maybe because it's been a bit milder and it's helped me power into action and get some things done.
I was the lucky recipient of a belated birthday pressie this week in the form of a Cath Kidston book from my friend.

It's the PATCH one.

It comes with a lovely packet of fabric pieces to make the project on the front which can either be a bag or cushion.

I've not done much patchwork so just had myself a nice Bolivian coffee and sat and flicked through it to show you a couple of pages. I think my latte art is a bit bubbly because I've used semi-skimmed.

I think this is my favourite project in the book, the Boudoir Cushion, although typically it looks the most complicated!

Much easier and also very pretty is this idea which is something I've already dabbled with and that's chopping up vintage linens to use the embroidered bits.

In fact I have some works in progress were I've been snipping up old tablecloths and then I need to do some hand embroidery on. If these are finished in time they will be Mother's Day lavender hearts to go in my Folksy shop.
Happy weekend one and all! x

Monday, 20 February 2012

My weekends work, a Mollie Makes mouse!

I stayed in all weekend. Saturday was spent at my computer doing design work and I achieved what I set out to do, so Sunday I thought I'd relax and have a nice day crafting.
Little did I know this would take a bit longer and become a bit more stressful than I hoped!

Armed with the latest Mollie Makes magazine I was determined to have a go at the mice on the front. Aren't they sweet.

Now I've not really done toy making before as I'm put off by all the parts but I have to say this sounded simple enough for a first attempt and they were so cute I had to try. 
I selected some nice white linen fabric with a slight embroidery effect to it which I thought would give a lovely vintage effect, and pink polka dot for the body.

All the bits are chopped out and I'm feeling like this is going well.

I stitch up the limbs and this is where it gets a bit tricky, they are so tiny that it's hard to turn them right side out and I get a bit frustrated. It took me about an hour to turn these 4 limbs the right way & stuff them.

Break for lunch to attack it fresh in the afternoon!
I manage to work out the body and attach the limbs and you start to feel like you are getting somewhere as it takes a mousey shape.

However I was soon getting impatient, ...after I stitched the head parts and ears this is where it gets really tricky and it even says that in the magazine, they are referring to the fun and games you'll have turning the head right side out with the ears attached. I was faffing for ages and the more I tugged at it the fabric started to fray and stretch. It was at this point I wish the pattern had been 4 times as big to give you some flexibility to get a good grasp on the bits you were trying to pull through.
Eventually I did it. It was Sunday evening by then and I'd lost the good light and had had enough so I left the head and body parted!

I was feeling more positive again this morning so I got stuck in and gave my mouse features.

Here she is all joined together,..... at last!

She needed a dress, remember it's cold in here!
The fun bit was choosing the dress fabric. I'm not really into making small doll clothes, too fiddly, but I managed this effort, don't look closely as it's not very neat!

All done and I'm pleased I persevered as she's come out quite sweet. Will I make another, I'm not sure, probably not at this size.
Thanks to Jenny who shared this pattern with Mollie Makes, you can see her lovely mice on her blog. I think she must have more patience than me.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Thrifty finds & other bargains

I knew if I said the sun was out it would go in! But it was briefly out and it was nice to feel a bit of natural warmth in here before the predicted cold snap again at the weekend!
I decided to make the most of the sun & popped out on a mission, to find a big coffee cup.

Today is the northern heat of the UK Barista championships and people from the cafes I visit in York are taking part so good luck to them. 
I'm very much in awe at the latte art these people create and having had a bit of instruction at Spring Espresso last week I want to try some new techniques. This calls for a bigger cup to practise with, often the problem I have when swirling my milk into the espresso is the fact the cup fills up too quick before I finish off with the design on top.

So I went around all the charity shops in Driffield looking for a big cup, not exactly found what I wanted but I did find this.

It's a Ringtons thing and looks something like a drip through device that you could put either tea leaves or coffee in via a filter paper. I like drip through and pour over coffees so I thought I'd have it.

I also found this wonderful retro looking Norwegian ceramic in a charity shop. The reason it caught my eye, I'm currently working on some fabric designs featuring costume dolls.

Not having found the large cup, I resorted to shops like Boyes, Wilko & Yorkshire Trader. By the way the Yorkshire Trader in Driffield is closing down, I'm not sure if they all are in other towns but this one goes beginning of March and there are some bargains to be had in clothing and household stuff. Some wool is reduced and crafty things but they haven't reduced the fabric yet or other sewing stuff.

I bought these paper craft things which will be nice for making cards and festive things next Christmas.

Eventually I found a reasonable cup in Boyes sale, the one on the left, but then I went down the street to Wilko and found one of those disgustingly large, soup size coffee cups Costa & the like have so I succumbed to buying it as a practise cup only!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Wales - crafty things & purchases

I usually manage to find something arty or crafty to purchase on my visits to Wales and I like to visit woollen mills if there are any in the area. On this trip I found the Trefriw Woollen mill on the edge of Snowdonia in the Conwy Valley.

The mill specialises in traditional Welsh woven blankets, throws, tweeds and some clothing. They produce the items from the raw wool and in the season you can watch the weaving. The products are just beautiful, rich with colour and understandably quiet expensive due to the labour intensive production.
If you've got lots of money and are a confident sewer you can buy the fabric on the bolt.

But what I like about these places is you often find offcuts of fabric to buy or oddments of wool and this was no exception. Lots of beautiful hand dyed wool from about £7 a ball but I'm not good enough for that level, I bought this recycled fabric wool to make small things.

My best find was this scrap bag of bits of woven cloth, the colours are just lovely and there's a great smell of fresh wool to it. I think I'll be able to make some brooches and things.

Not far from the mill is the pretty village of Betws Y Coed, one of those honey pot villages which is way too busy and heaving with tourists in the summer when I've driven through it before. This time I got a look around as it was quiet.  The only reason I'm mentioning it is because I found they still had a Hawkshead, one of my favourite shops which seem to have closed down everywhere else.
Here it is, and here are some new walking boots I picked up in their sale,

Moving on and somewhere I discovered last year was the fabulous Wheelers fabrics in Machynlleth so I popped in for a few bits of luscious cotton! Always worth a look if you go to Machynlleth.

And finally, I usually take something crafty to keep me occupied on a trip and this time I took some lovely new multicoloured wool and I knitted these simple wrist warmers. I used 2 wools together for the ribbed bit, an orange and a red and then the multicoloured wool is the panel with the wavy edge.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Nice day in York

Dug the car out from the icy driveway and made the effort to go to York today. If nothing else it would be a few hours away from the cold miserable house. I was half planning to go to the vintage fair which was on today but first on the agenda was a warming coffee at Spring Espresso.

Steve and Tracey who run Spring are entering the UK Barista championships and they very kindly did us a sample of their cappuccino blend for starters which was absolutely lovely. I also had a very nice Java pour over with a piece of Traceys white chocolate caramel shortbread.
As some folk may know, I'm quite into my coffee and Steve asked if I would like a go on their super dupa espresso machine. Well it would have been rude not to accept so with a bit of guidance from Steve, the crazy guy in the photo, I got stuck into the industrial size 3 group head espresso machine. 
I don't normally reveal myself as I hate having photos taken but you can't see me terribly well which is why I let this slip through the net.

Next I texturised the milk, their steam wand is very powerful.

Here is my result, it's kind of a cappuccino / flat white and not too bad an effort, tasted really good too.

It was fast approaching lunchtime and I was thinking less of the vintage fair and more about food so Tracey rustled up some delish sandwiches, they are experimenting with fillings at the moment and this was a type of cheese with some lovely fruity chutney and salad, as you can see my little friend approved!

Full of lovely food and coffee it was time to go, it had been such a nice few hours that I didn't fancy a frantic rush around the vintage fair so that can wait until next time.
If you're in Fossgate do look up Spring as they are open 7 days a week and it's a great place.