Monday, 6 December 2010

Reduce, reuse, recycle

As the last day for shipping parcels overseas approaches I find I can turn my mind to things other than Etsy and can start to prepare for my own Christmas celebrations.
I am determined to have as eco friendly a Christmas as possible this year, and I am not going to go and buy lots of glitzy wrapping paper that isn't even accepted in the recycling bins.
So this is my take on environmentally friendly wrapping paper.
First get your self some 100% recycled ordinary brown paper - the sort that is used for wrapping parcels that you want to send through the post. If you are a thrifty kind of soul you probably already have a stash lurking away in the back of a cupboard.
I chose to iron mine first as is was rather creased, but you could equally well embrace the creases by wetting it slightly, crumpling it gently into a ball and then opening out(again, very gently) and leaving to dry. This paper has incredible wet strength and the final result from your "wet crumpling" will be a texture rather like old leather.

Next you simply take a festive rubber stamp  (I chose a Merry Christmas word stamp) and simply stamp all over you paper using an air drying ink pad. Cut a co-ordinating tag from a scrap of card and tie the parcel up with some yarn, ribbon or whatever you have to hand. The flower I had in my ex-demo stash, but if I didn't have that I would have just used a paper punch to create some, or perhaps if I had time, knitted some - it really doesn't matter. To my mind the colour co-ordination of the stamping, tag and embellishment makes this gift wrapping just as stylish as the mass produced items that you buy in the shops, and it is earth friendly, hand crafted and unique too.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Great Book Offer

If you are a crafter there is a great offer at Magmaker at the moment. You can buy my book "Paper Punching" by Julie Taylor (me), along with "Stamping" by Lindsay Mason and "Decoupage" by Amanda Fowler all for a total of £9.95 including p&p.
There are some great projects to suit all ability levels in each of these books.
The punches I've used are available in  most countries, not just the UK. There are step by step photos for all the projects, which include punching and colouring metal shim, punching Pelmet Vilene to make jewellery, 3 D manipulation of punched shapes, and masking shapes, to name just a few.
Follow this link to see the great offer:
The p&p is for UK only, but I'm sure if you email them they would be able to ship to other countries

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Crazy by nature

Its a crazy world we live in!
All through the summer I was lucky enough to have home grown fruit in the garden which I would pick a little of every morning to add to my breakfast. But come the autumn when I expected my raspberries to be in abundance there were none!
Now, its the end of November, we are having a cold snap in good old central England, and guess what - my raspberries are in full fruit!
The problem is - it takes a lot of willpower to walk down the garden and pick the fruit when its really cold. This morning I made the effort however. The temperature was in the minuses, there was a hard frost on the ground, but I did get my bowful of fruit - even though they were frozen solid and I had to pick them still attached to their stalks. They did taste good though!

What's news on Etsy, I hear you ask. Well, I played around at the weekend with a new design of baby shoe. I'm very pleased with the result, so you shouls see them appearing in the shop quite soon - they are nice and chunky, so I think they compliment the aviator hats better than the crossover style. But, that's my opinion, it will be interesting to see what you, the customers, think.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Cables, cables, cables

Its been a really busy week in Etsyland, and its all been the same thing - my cabled aviators.
I had meant to make these last winter, but I held off for some reason, but I got a few done for this season and they really are proving very popular.
They are good fun to make too. I would get very bored making the same thing over and over, but you are constantly counting the rows, checking when the next cable row is coming up, and before you know it the little hat is finished.
It is pouring of rain here today, it has never properly got light! That said, I  think its the sort of day for curling up on the sofa with my knitting needles and making another one of these. I am so close to the £750.00 mark in my money raising quest for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research. A few more sales of these and I think I may reach it, so do I feel guilty about spending the afternoon knitting - definitely not!!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

New hat designs

I love finding time to knit some new designs and I'm really pleased with this one that I shall be listing on Etsy in a few days time. I've used a technique called Fair Isle to create the pattern which has a total of three colours, but never more than two colours in the same row.
It is named after a tiny island in the north of  Scotland called Fair Isle, which is part of the Shetland Islands. There was a strong tradition of knitting on these remote islands, where people worked mainly on the land or as fishermen and warm sweaters were essential to everyday living.
Fair Isle patterns are believed to have gained a wider popularity when King Edward VIII wore sleeveless sweaters (or tank tops as they were known).
It is funny to think that, just as the celebrities of today have an influence on what many people choose to wear, the same thing was happening, almost 100 years ago!!
I have lots of lovely colour combination ideas, so make sure you check out the shop to see what is available in the next few days

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Thinking outside the box

These are the little boxes that I now use to gift wrap all my first size knitted items. The idea came to me when I was desperately trying to find a way to store my fabric so that I knew where everything was. I was feeling frustrated about the amount of room that my ex-demonstration card and paper was still taking up in my workroom. There is far too much of it, and it is far too good to just give away, but it was taking up prime space that was needed to house fabric. So the LoveFibres gift box was born. 
  Hopefully, I've found the perfect solution. I get to gradually use up a lot of my old card and paper, and so free up more storage space, and my customers get a free gift box and card. You can request a box for larger sizes too, and if the gift is for Christmas - just let me know. I've plenty of Christmas themed card to use up too!

Monday, 25 October 2010

Old habits and new machinery

I can remember learning to sew as a young child. First the embroidered felt coasters, then clothes for my dolls and then clothes for myself. I remember helping my mum by blind stitch hemming the clothes she made for us whilst I was still too young to be trusted with a sewing machine. I took dressmaking classes at school and still remember the teacher telling us that the iron was as important a tool as the sewing machine. We had to tack (baste) all our seams by hand before machine sewing them and we weren't allowed to do gathers on the machine. They too had to be done by hand, and the stitches had to be really tiny and even. The teacher pulled them out if they weren't!
Some of these methods have obviously stayed with me for life as I still work with the iron permanently on and I do prefer to hand baste, even though it does take a lot longer to do.
I love the rhythm of hand sewing. I stitch away, listening to the radio or just quietly sew, dreaming away of all the new projects I'l make next.

That said, I love my machinery too! I have a Bernina sewing machine that was most definitely a luxury buy and three years on I'm still finding new things that it can do! I also have an overlocker (serger) to give seams a professional finish and which enables me to sew stretch fabrics beautifully.

I am lucky enough to have the space to set them up side by side so that I can switch from one to the other as I sew. My laptop sits by my side and I can watch for emails, listen to music and feel totally connected to the world whilst at the same time being in my own little stitching reverie!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Back on Track

Hi, I'm back blogging again.
I have been absent for quite a few months! Sadly, my Dad was ill and then passed away, and between looking after him and then sorting out everything I just didn't get the time to blog, but I'm back now and I'm really looking forward to telling you all my ideas for my ever expanding Etsy shop.
I'm using organic fabric now, as well as organic yarn, and I'm really enjoying sewing again.
I was sorting out all my dad's stuff and I came across the sewing basket that my Mum had when I was a kid. I opened it up, and the chilhood memories came flooding back. There were patterns I remembered sewing when I was about 10! The same little plastic knitting needles I learned on, the half finished dolls clothes and zips unpicked from worn out clothing. (yes, I've kept them! My mum was a brilliant recycler, she would be proud of me!). There were tins of pins and spools of thread and I was hooked once more.
So began a spending spree in the fabric shops. I made some summer dresses for the children of KidsCo (I'll tell you more about them in another post) and the idea of adding organic clothing to Lovefibres was born.
I just love those little knot embellishments on the pockets.
I'll be back soon to show you what I've made next - I promise!

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Loving Hands

If you live in the UK and like to knit, crochet or sew and want to make something for charity , then Loving Hands is the charity you need to look at ( ). They support a whole variety of charities around the world and Lou their wonderful leader does an amazing job of making sure each and every item you make gets to the right place where it is needed. There are three monthly challenges which you can make items for if you wish, or you can just make the items that are always needed. Basically you can make what you want, when you want and know that it will be sent to a good home.
They are based in Scotland but have satelite support groups in other parts of the UK too. If you are unsure about anything, there is a forum where you can ask questions and you will be guaranteed a warm and friendly welcome.

A Bit of a Makeover

Mmmmmn, its been a while since my last post hasn't it!
I have spent a good many days working on the garden in the last couple of weeks, but that isn't really an excuse for not blogging. We do have a house full (3 sons and one future daughter in law in residence and two more girlfriends here a lot of the time - yes, we often have to cook for seven!!), but that isn't the reason either - that is a bonus! Believe me , they are so much fun!

The trouble is I like to spend so much of my free time either making stuff for Etsy, or making for other charities that I'm finding it hard to find the inclination to blog about general crafting.
I have a feeling there are going to be a lot more posts about stitching and knitting than there are about papercrafting (so what's new I hear you say!)

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

If you think you can, then you can!

I think it was Henry Ford who said "Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you are usually right" Well, I've hovered between the two over the last few days, but positive thinking must have won out in the end because I did manage to achieve what I set out to do ( but not without a little stamping of feet, swearing and tearing out of hair in the process!)

Ever since I was a child I've always made up my own knitting patterns. The pattern I buy is never quite the idea that I had in my head so I've always adapted them to suit me better. These two rabbits grew in just this way and I put them into my Etsy shop late last summer. I thought it would be a good idea to sell the pattern, as I can't keep up with demand for the finished rabbits, but its been a real test of my determination. To start with, I knew exactly what all those hastily written scribbles that meandered over my jotter meant, but I couldn't excpect anyone else to - they needed it all written out in proper "knitting pattern language". So I've sat for what seems like days on end with patterns in front of me, scrutinising them to see how they were written, whether you use capital letters at the start of lines, whether you put full stops after abbreviations - all the things I've looked at a thousand times, but never really looked at properly. There were plenty of times when I walked away saying " I just can't do this!" Instructions for papercrafting projects just seemed so easy compared to this.

Next I had to sit and knit what I had written, without looking at my much loved scribbles, just to make absolutely sure someone else would be able to understand it, and that the rabbits turned out right. When I eventually put the pattern up for sale last night, it was with a mixture of relief that I had actually finished at last and trepidation that it might not make sense to someone else.
You can imagine how happy I was this morning to find that someone had bought the pattern, and then nigh on overjoyed when they emailed me back to say they were very pleased with it.

You know what - the task wasn't so hard after all!!!
Suddenly there are a thousand and one ideas for patterns all vying for prime postion in my head right now. Can I do another one? Sure can!

Monday, 22 February 2010

Craft, Hobby & Stitch Show

I spent the day the Craft, Hobby and Stitch Trade Show at the NEC, which is always one of the highlights of the year. Maybe its because I went on the Monday and not the Sunday, but it did seem a quieter show than usual. This was actually an advantage as I was able to spend plenty of time stopping to chat as I met old friends and also meant that I could get close to the demos.
Here is Tim Holz demoing a resist technique with embossing powder and Distress Inks...

and this is his floral wreath made from grunge paper.
I also watched Suze Weinberg demonstrating Melt Pot art - nothing particularly new, but it did make me promise myself to have another play with this technique later in the week.
I went back to the Personal Impressions stand 3 times in the hope of seeing my friend Lindsay, but each time she wasn't there!! Where were you Lindsay??
My other favourites from the show were all textile related. Viridian was definitely the best yarn stand - . They produce wonderful sock yarns and have some great designers on board. My hands hurt too much if I use the finer yarns these days, but I still like to admire them.
There were plenty of Ooohs and Aaahs on the The Button Company stand. As well as selling buttons, they are distributing for The Cinnamon Patch. This is a french company producing wonderful kits that are a unique mixture of patchwork and embroidery and combine felt with cotton fabric. They were right up my street!
So its been a fantastic day, full of eye candy, and a wonderful antidote to the grey, biting cold outdoors. My head is swimming with ideas - now all I need is the time to put them into practice!

Friday, 29 January 2010

Where DID January go?

I can't believe how fast the time has gone, and how bad I've been at blogging this month. So what have I been doing that has kept me otherwise occupied, you might ask.....well very little it seems!
At the start of the month I revelled in the snow - the breathtaking beauty of it all, the way normal activities just ground to a halt and the way everyone was talking about it. I went for long walks in it, I spent ages clearing it off my car every day and I just looked at it. If it was beautiful during the day it was mind bogglingly incredible at night.

I had a large order for knitted baby shoes, so that kept me out of mischief for a while, and then a few days ago the same person asked if I could come up with a baby beanie with a flower embellishment. This was just the push that I needed. Having spent the month tootling along, basically enjoying myself I was up for a new challenge. Although I have knitted all my life, I have never really mastered crochet properly. i have a blitz every now and again,trying to improve my skill, but always revert back to knitting. I managed the daisy fine, but then I tried to do a crocheted leaf. Uh oh! I spent all one afternoon trying to do a crochet leaf! I was never ever happy enough with my efforts, so in the end I knitted them. I'm really pleased with the outcome, even though I'm not going to enjoy sewing them up - all those ends to sew in !
I've also been doing some more bookbinding, and perfecting a new technique, but I'm going to leave that for a February blog!

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Walking on water

I thought I would share these pictures of one of our cats that we took a couple of days after Christmas. The snow had just dissappeared from the lawn, but the pond was only just beginning to thaw. It has one very large, free floating sheet of ice across it. This is Saffie, gingerly testing it out to see if it would take her weight. As you can see, water did immediately flood over the top of the ice, but I'm happy to say she made it safely to the other side.

Christmas was a very hectic as we has a total of 9 people in our house but was thoroughly enjoyable. I have managed to do some crafting since though. These are two pictures of a hard backed journal I have made using an exposed binding style called Long Stitch, Link Stitch. It is one of my favourites at the moment.

The dream wording is stamped and then inked to co-ordinate with the cover papers. I made the book cloth for the spine specifically for this journal. I cut the cloth a little wider than I needed, but backed just the
correct width with Bondaweb. This meant I could fray the edges before I ironed on the backing paper

I'm pleased with the effect, so I think it will be popping up on a few more of my jounals soon.
Finally, I thought I'd just share one of my crafting Christmas presents with you
- "Taking Flight" by Kelly Rae Roberts.
It is as it says on the cover a mixture of techniques an inspiration. Its a book to dip into many many times, each time finding something new, and above all its a book to pick up when you are feeling negative or frustrated with your craft work, because I can assure you it will change all the "I can't"s into "I can"s. I thoroughly recommend it.