Tag : inspire
Tag : inspire
People presume as I am 'The Crafty Lass', I can do it ALL. Everything - ALL the crafty things. Well... I can't!
I cannot sew a zip. Although I can easily sew on a button, I do not know how to sew a button hole. I think there is a setting on my beloved sewing machine to even do it for me - but I wouldn't know, because I haven't even tried!
I have made 'baby bibs' before, and lots and lots of bunting, tried some fairly complicated makes before like lined Christmas stockings - but just nothing that required a 'pattern'. So, it's a confidence thing. People often ask and presume I can and do make my own clothes - the honest I answer is I would LOVE to - but I don't, as I haven't got a clue where to start! Even the word 'pattern' - eeek, isn't it complicated?! Well, I suppose if I've never tried... how would I know?
Inspired by some of the amazingly talented Craft Cotton Co bloggers I work with and of course, The Great British Sewing Bee, I wanted to give something a go. It would need to be super simple, yet test me!
I decided to make something for 'bump'. As apparently... there is a baby there! I cannot quite get my head around that; that there will be another beautiful little person arriving in the next couple of months. I did the same with Freddie. Yes, I know I am expecting - and yes, I am getting bigger everyday (and it isn't just biscuits) and, yes I know there will be an actual baby, but it is sometimes weirdly hard to connect the two!
So, what to make? I sought advice and suggestions from my fellow bloggers - and from lots of ideas - "baby shorts" and the word "easy" stood out. A few commented that OF COURSE I could do it - so with confidence at a small high on the dressmaking front, I thought would give it a go...
I had a rare morning free whilst little man was at nursery - and although I could have easily done another 101 things like chores, various work related things, or sleep, I thought I would give the shorts a go while it was fresh in my mind. I hunted down a basic pattern - which in hindsight (ha, now knowledgeable?!) I don't think was particularly good as the back is the same size as the front and surely you need it to be slightly larger to, erm - contain that cute little bottom and nappy too?! Anyway - I forged on and decided I would be learning no matter how they turned out.
I had picked out some cute little circus print fabric from Craft Cotton Co from Hobbycraft and actually, although I needed 2 x 'emergency' calls to Bernadette (fellow Craft Cotton Co Blogger) ... I DID IT! And, I really, really enjoyed myself. It WAS easy - IF and only if, you know how. They may not be 'perfect' in that I am sure the inner seams would be better and stronger if I owned and used an overlocker - and I am sure that Patrick from The Great British Sewing Bee would have his tape measure out checking the two leg lengths - and, the print pattern doesn't quite match up on the legs, but - they 'work'! It is a lovely little print design and - with a baby, I am pretty sure he will wear them for 2 seconds flat before requiring a change of clothes anyway!!!
Most importantly, I gave it a go. I did enjoy myself. They do actually look like shorts! I learnt. I learnt how to read a (albeit basic!) pattern. I learnt how to construct a garment together. And, how to insert elastic!
Buoyed by my new found skills, I decided to look for another new challenge. I delved into The Bramble Patch, Weedon and all their lovely fabrics - and inspired: bought some new Makower, Moda, Northcott and Camelot fabric designs (as I needed more fabric, right?) and decided to get stuck into a baby sun hat! This even included something called 'interfacing'!? As our little one is due at the start of Summer - and I had been looking round to buy a cute little mini sun hat anyway, I thought... why not MAKE one!
Once I worked out that the pattern was simpler than it sounded, I was away! I had constructed the whole thing in around 3-4 hours and although I have since realised the hat is for a 6-12 month old baby, and he won't be able to wear it this Summer anyway (!), but again - I have learnt! And, he'll be able to wear it NEXT summer when he is by then, 1. Not that I am wishing time away... And to be honest, I am sure that he COULD wear it this year - he just might look abit daft with it being too big - but it would at least protect his little delicate skin!
So, I am not sure what the next dressmaking challenge will be - but, I am rather partial to a cute little baby dungaree... I just need to find the right pattern and potentially it will include buttonholes so that will be another new skill learnt! Not sure I will be applying for The Great British Sewing Bee yet, but I can just continue to learn, one step at a time. And, I am not sure I will have time for much sewing from June onwards - I think I may be quite baby busy by then!
I’m tired. But, it’s January – who isn’t tired in January?
The days are dark, it’s (seriously) cold, I think we are all just trying to make it through, right? Trying to stick to New Year’s resolutions, trying to be ‘good’. In fact; who thought it would be a good idea to make resolutions to in some way change your life, when it is hard going anyway with the dreary days, dark evenings and the knowledge the party season is over?! And, that’s before we even think about the mess our country’s politics is in!
For the first time in years, this year I didn’t actually make any resolutions. I’ve had a bit of a declutter, and I have a bit of a list going on of what I would like to achieve, and how I would like this year to pan out – but nothing to STOP doing, which is a refreshing change! Resolutions are good – if you have the will power and true desire to do whatever it is you are doing. But all too often, very easy to just ‘give up’ and then feel weak and berate yourself as a ‘failure’ when, actually, you are just trying to get on in life, in January of all months! Be kind to yourself.
With that in mind – one thing I think perhaps I – and most of us to be honest – should do, is exactly that as a ‘New Year’s’ resolution: to not be so hard on ourselves. Be kind.
I, in particular set myself high standards. I get these ideas of things that need to be done and have to be achieved – but I need to stop and remind myself that actually no-one else has said that has to happen. I have set the targets, I have set the goal posts – so if it doesn’t work out exactly as I imagined, then maybe I can move the goal posts and actually stop and reflect not on what HASN’T been achieved, but what HAS.
That’s quite hard for me to write – as I quite LIKE getting lots done, I LOVE being almost too busy – but actually, sometimes I do (and you if you are reading this knowing you do too!) need to stop. Watch more TV. Read a magazine. Paint my nails. Time out. And do NOT feel guilty for it either! Time on yourself is time well spent. And, referring back to the first sentence of this blog post. I’m TIRED. And that is partly my own fault!
I am also tired, because I have an all too often sleep thief toddler, who is in the ‘terrible’ twos (they aren’t that terrible ALL the time – sometimes the tantrums can be slightly amusing… although often in hindsight, not at the time while you try to placate a screaming, anger filled little person.) Who knew it needed to be THAT specific spoon, and actually it IS the end of the world if their biscuit breaks in half. I understand that to them it actually is devastating… but sometimes to take a step back and look at the bigger picture to see that while it is a challenge to resolve, this is NORMAL toddler behaviour – learning about what they want, they don’t want and that things aren’t always their own way. Obviously, you tell them it’ll be OK, but they learn that sometimes Mummy cannot just ‘fix’ the biscuit.
I am tired, because in addition to the aforementioned beautiful, challenging, amazing bundle of energy that is our little man – life is happening. The house. The dog. The (attempt at a) social life. Running a business. (Or, trying to!) And, I am growing a whole other human being.
Into the second trimester now, in fact literally approaching half way as I write (time slow down, please?!) I am feeling MUCH better. Christmas was crazy – with all our amazingly busy workshops and events, and actual Christmas to do in addition to morning (all day?) sickness and feeling like a walking zombie for 3 months wasn’t ideal – but, I got through it. Things went well. Classes were booked, people attended and from what I can see – lots of happy crafters!
There, point one of congratulating myself! Well done.
I am winding down now though, I need to start…
When I first found out I was pregnant, of course – we were delighted. But, I did: Panic. What is the business going to do?! How will it sustain over the next year, or two, or five?!
The answer to the above questions are of course, it will be OK. Just like a toddler realises they can still eat the biscuit, just in two halves – it will be OK!
I think in the background of this worry lies the buzz word(s) ‘Imposter Syndrome’. I have heard a lot about this recently and actually, I think we all do feel like this from time to time… Where you question if you are good enough, question if you are essentially a ‘fraud’! Obviously, I am not a fraud in the true sense of the matter – but there is certainly self-doubt at times.
A lot of self-doubt can come from comparison. Believing that what you see on social media is what you get. You’ve (and I’ve) got to remember it is not what you get. It isn’t always real. Or, it IS real – but it isn’t just the photos that are filtered, it is the content too! You certainly don’t see photos on The Crafty Lass Instagram of our little man having a meltdown as he lost ‘his’ leaf on a walk and demanding to sit IN a puddle. Or the days I cannot be bothered to craft – and sit and watch First Dates instead! Obviously, I and anyone else that ‘filters’ their content doesn’t LIE – they just post relevant and appropriate things. I want my feed to be full of colour, and fun and making and creating. As a business, I need to reflect positivity. Not piles of washing and grumps!
I am currently reading Cath Kidston’s ‘COMING UP ROSES – The Story of Growing a Business’ – and for anyone building a business, or a brand – or actually just loves Cath Kidston – I would highly recommend. Very inspiring! There is a quote on the back of the book that really hit a nerve with me:
“When you’re self-taught you always worry that you will be found out.”
That is IT!
I (think I) am more than qualified to be ‘The Crafty Lass’… however, I need to ensure the business grows, expands, onwards and upwards. What if I can’t do that?
After a very successful year, with so many amazing things achieved – the timing of this pregnancy actually couldn’t be better. Although I will need to stop whilst things are on a high – it will be chance to reflect, plan, decide how the business will move forwards, and in what direction.
The husband came up with a brilliant and timely appropriate analogy – that the car was now designed, built and running. And, once the baby arrives, I won’t need to de-ice the car – the engine is still ticking over. And, he is right – the business won’t die a death. People won’t forget – mainly because I won’t let them! And, the business is flexible enough to adapt to the new (likely even more sleep deprived) life we will be boldly treading in. I quit my 9-5 to allow for a flexible life, and I need to ensure I grab that opportunity with both hands and not let it go – as I am forever grateful that although where The Crafty Lass is now has come about due to lots and lots of hours and hard work – and it didn’t happen overnight – but, I am grateful that it can and does work. And, work around family.
People keep asking me about when I will be ‘stopping’. And the answer is I don’t know – and I can’t really see me fully stopping! When you run your own business, you are never truly ‘off duty’. I mean, I literally am The Crafty Lass. OF COURSE I WILL stop! I won’t be writing posts in the labour ward… although saying that, I was induced with our little man and to distract myself from the process, I was crocheting most of the time in hospital! But, seriously – I will stop when the new bundle of joy arrives for a period of time – length of such to be decided there and then, and focus on them and us and little man – they are only very little for such a short time, but I am sure the craftiness will dip in and out of life too.
I do have some big plans for maternity leave – I have already started on a book (well two actually, but one is more of a general idea with a contents page and hundreds of thoughts and images in my brain, and the other is an actual full in the writing stages) and it would be great to make that the project I really get up and running with in the early how have we made a person months. Or, to be kind to myself – if that doesn’t happen as it is more important to sleep, then that’s OK too. All in good time, as the vision and desire to achieve won’t go away.
So, that’s it – ignore the Imposter Syndrome. You ARE good enough. You CAN do whatever you set your mind to, but just do what you can. Stop to take time out for yourself. You are doing GREAT – it is January don’t forget – and we are all in this together! Stop to eat the biscuits – even if they are broken.
The Crafty Lass currently features in the BOOTS Health and Beauty magazine for January/February 2019 – in an article all about conquering our fears. What better way to start the New Year with a blog post featuring a little bit more about mine, and what resolutions and steps I took to change this…
Phobias: they are illogical, irrational, frustrating and very real.
It doesn’t matter whether you are frightened of spiders, the dark… or in my case: needles (not the crafty type, thankfully) – it is certainly a really overwhelming, all-consuming emotion that you cannot and will not do the thing you need to face. Well, sometimes you have to – but under much protest!
Admitting you have a phobia to other people, well it did for me anyway – it made me feel weak. I am quite a positive and ‘strong’ person – why would I be frightened of something?
Well… there was an ‘incident’ when I was younger that seemed to be the trigger… What an irony that a craft kit likely caused my phobia! Who knows, the mind is a funny thing sometimes. A large tapestry needle went into my thumb. It was Boxing Day, I got up early as I was so excited to play with my new crafty items from Santa! But, I didn’t quite understand that I shouldn’t be using it unsupervised, and not in the way I was using it… Much to my parents horror when they awoke to my tears! But – I was ok, it wasn’t as bad an injury as perhaps I considered at the time at a young, tender age – was that enough to cause all this stress in my adult life?
When it came to needles, I wasn’t ‘in control’ – I knew my reaction would be to pull away, to scream – in one particular incident I sadly and instinctively hit out at the nurse, as my gut reaction was to get it and her away from me. All that panic and movement ironically would be MORE dangerous and painful and stressful – than if I just let them get on with their job! Sorry Miss Nurse from my school days as a teenager…
Phobias can cause crying, breathing difficulties, panic attacks – and avoidance of the said thing… but sometimes fears need to be faced.
I decided enough was enough. Something needed to give. I didn’t need tests and jabs all the time, but what about holidays, and children? And what better way to face my fear than by helping others.
I had always wanted to ‘give blood’. I was healthy, I had no reason to ‘not’ – except the sitting there giving blood part. Involving needles.
I decided to just sign up – and go for it. If everyone else there could, why couldn’t I? And, if I could sit there for 20 minutes or so with a needle pumping blood out of my arm – surely, I could have inoculations if needed, or blood tests if required – without all the panic and crying and desperation beforehand?
I felt panicky in the build-up that week – I questioned if I was losing my mind. I questioned if I could even go through with it. But there was a big difference in donating blood to a ‘normal’ blood test or inoculation. I was in control. I didn’t HAVE to do this, and even stranger – I WANTED to do this.
And, I did it.
I unbelievably DID IT! I couldn’t believe that I, Paula Milner, had donated blood! And, as a bonus, I got free squash and chocolate biscuits too!
And, I was right – as a result, after donating several more times and from taking back more control – my phobia HAS calmed down. Yes, I don’t LOVE needles now (who does?) I certainly won’t be first in the queue for a tattoo, and sometimes it is still hard to have tests – but you can get a blood test out of me within a few minutes, with only often a few tears afterwards rather than the huge panic before… and actually, usually tears as I did it, I am proud I have just let the nurse do their job without panic! Currently pregnant with all the tests required, feeling like a human pin cushion is becoming regularly common place, so this lack of fear is becoming albeit useful and time saving!
Giving blood is something that doesn’t take long, and is such a needed and worthwhile and needed cause. You’re not allowed to donate whilst pregnant, or have visited certain countries within a certain time frame – so I have had to have a little break on donating since our honeymoon and little man – but it will be on my New Year’s resolution list for 2020!
What phobias do you have? Have you ever attempted to ‘overcome’ them? Would you like to change how you feel? Sometimes, I think you sadly can’t always change how you feel no matter how hard you try – but perhaps, hopefully there might be a way.
It has certainly been that… what an adventure it has been!
2nd October 2017 – we sold our first ever ticket for The Crafty Lass workshops at the Old Grain Store workshop studio… part of me feels like it was a lot LOT longer ago, and the other part says where has that year gone?!
The moment that someone bought that ticket, the first ticket, took a leap of faith – booked, paid, wanted to come. What a heart soar, what a joyous moment to treasure.
However – you know what? I feel like that for every. single. booking. Every. Single. One.
For every crafter that wants to come and visit, for every crafter that brings their friend, that recommends us, that leaves full of tea and biscuits and happy with their makes and creates – it makes me so so happy. Our work is done. Well, actually, as every self employed business person knows, the work is NEVER done!
We are absolutely looking forward to Christmas this year – we have a much wider range of workshops on offer and are ever so grateful to the people who have reserved their spaces. Most classes are amazingly already sold out – which for the 1st October, is some pretty organised crafters! We are actually hosting our first Christmas workshop as a private booking this coming Sunday 7th October for an old dear friend and his family… travelling all the way from Bristol!
The countdown to Christmas is ON!
I love Christmas. I am pretty sure I have said this in every single The Crafty Lass blog post – it always manages to sneak its way in somewhere to my writing…
And, with that love for the festive side of our year – what better way to count down to the big day than with a crafty ADVENTure and a craft advent calendar?
The Crafty Lass® ADVENTure has been in design stages for approximately two years – so when the opportunity came up to collaborate with such a renowned craft company as Craft Buddy – it was an opportunity not to be missed! The inspiration for the contents of the calendar have come from everything you might need to personalise your Christmas – little details to make gifts, make your home festive, your Christmas table, present wrapping, even decorate your Christmas clothes – and generally get very Christmassy! The main focus includes your ‘classic’ Christmas craft items, but also some beautiful and unusual items to make things extra special. And, one of the most magical and important qualities of the calendar is that it has zero plastic packaging inside!
We are also delighted to be able to announce that the calendar will be for sale on Hochanda!
Sky 673, Freeview 85, Freesat 817 & Online
Wednesday 31st October 12noon and 4pm
If you had asked me this time last year – would I be working on my own product designs? And, would I be going back on to Shopping TV to sell said products? I wouldn’t have thought you were mad… but I would be delighted, and I am.
With the calendar – we hope that you are inspired. We hope that it allows you some little time to get creative each day. Or, maybe you might like to combine items, and save some of them up for bigger crafty makes! Who knows, you can do whatever you like!
We look forward to seeing all the makes and creates… Where will the ADVENTure take you?
Today is the start of #TheCraftyLassADVENTure and we would love you to join in too!
Over on The Crafty Lass Facebook page: I am sharing exciting things to make and do for Christmas!
Do you have any fun and favourite makes for the festive season?🌟✂️
Across on The Crafty Lass Instagram page – I will be sharing what inspires me with a new photo everyday.
What inspires you? 🌟✂️
Would love to see your festive makes and what inspires you. Use the tag #TheCraftyLassADVENTure
1ST PRIZE – a ‘Handmade Christmas Fabric ‘Rag’ Wreath’ – handmade by The Crafty Lass in traditional ‘holly’ greens, with ‘bauble berries’.
2ND PRIZE – Materials to make your own ‘Christmas Fabric ‘Rag’ Wreath’ – including 1 x 12″ copper wire wreath, 2 metres of fabrics*, a The Crafty Lass ‘How To Make’ instruction sheet and wired baubles.
3RD PRIZE – A The Crafty Lass ‘crafty goodie bag’ – including 2 x fabric fat quarters, ribbons, a The Crafty Lass greeting card, a The Crafty Lass badge, some sparkly fabric snowflakes and holly leaves and a selection of Christmas buttons.
4TH PRIZE – A ‘multipack’ of 6 x The Crafty Lass Christmas greeting cards.
For a chance to win these amazing crafty prizes and full details/t&cs for the competition – head on over to The Crafty Lass Facebook page…
Merry Christmas from The Crafty Lass! x
*You can choose the colours of your fabrics when we contact the winner!
‘Twas the night before Craftmas
‘Twas the night before Craftmas, when all thro’ the workshop,
Not a crafter was crafting; could hear a pin-drop;
The scissors were placed by The Crafty Lass with care,
In hopes that the morning soon would be there;
The ribbons were nestled all snug in their draws,
With visions of crafters soon through the doors…
The chores for the day completed and done,
We’d just settled down – our evening had begun.
When suddenly there arose such a crafty vision,
I sprang from the sofa to put it in to fruition!
Away to the studio I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of ‘The Old Grain Store’,
Brought a luster of glitter I couldn’t ignore;
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But my papers, my baubles, my fabrics – oh dear!
– It might be quite late – but I can be quick,
And whip up some projects in a momentry tick.
More rapid than eagles the ideas they did came,
And I whistled, and shouted, and call’d them by name:
“Now, POMPOMS! Now, PAPER! Now, BUTTONS and BOBBINS!
On, CROCHET! On, FABRIC! On, SEQUINS and RIBBONS!
To the top of the studio! To the top of the wall!
Now Craft away! Craft away! Craft away all!”
Things to be sewn, fabric to dye,
Sketching and gluing, and cutting; Oh my!
So up to the small hours, the time it just flew,
With my mind full of designs—and making them too!
And then in a twinkling, I heard on the drive,
The laughter and chatter – the crafters arrive!
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the lane, they came with a bound:
So full of plans, to make and create,
So happy and eager – they just couldn’t wait;
A bundle of thoughts were flung in the air,
To try and inspire with fun and with flair,
Their eyes—how they twinkled! Their excitement: how merry,
To make paper flowers, or crochet, ideas – so many!
With fabrics and ribbons drawn up in a bow,
Perhaps bunting in colours or as white as the snow;
And so I can teach them – my thoughts to bequeath,
And show them how to make a beautiful wreath.
So with plenty of tea, and cake in our belly
We crafted and laugh’d, full of chatter and glee:
“Just time out to relax, time for oneself,
Learning new things – inspiring myself”
Techniques and teachings, on boldly we tread,
Cotton and crepe, yarn, lace, and thread.
We spoke not a word, concentrated on craftwork,
We’d made lovely stockings; and sewn up patchwork,
And crocheted some toys – counting the rows,
And layering papers, they’d finished their rose.
They sprung to their cars, it was time for dismissal,
And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle:
But I heard them exclaim, as they drove out of sight—
Happy Crafting to all, and to all a good night.
I hinted the other day on all the usual social media channels – about some VERY super-duper amazingly exciting crafty news… well I am absolutely beyond delighted to be able to announce that…
The Crafty Lass is going to be teaching craft workshops at The Kirstie Allsopp’s Handmade Fair next year! 11th-13th May 2018, Ragley Hall, Warwickshire.
Get it booked in the diary NOW!
Full details and further information to follow in the coming weeks and months – but (as you may be able to gather) we are pretty excited!
Although having been a resident of Northamptonshire for several years now – I was sadly, actually unaware until last month that there was such a thing as both a special ‘Northamptonshire Flag’ – and also a special county ‘Northamptonshire Day‘ on 25th October… Did you know? BBC Radio Northampton have also been holding a wonderful event over the last few years, on a weekend as near to 25th as possible, since 2014 when the flag and county day became established. The event highlights and celebrates all things fantastic about our wonderful county – the heritage, the producers, the things to do and see, the crafters…
When the opportunity arose to be a part of this special day for 2017 – this time to be held at Holdenby House on Sunday 22nd October – I jumped at the chance! And boy, was that a good decision! The day was simply brilliant – and made me proud to be part of such a vibrant community. There were foodie delights, beautifully made crafts and decorations, beers and ales, simply stunning falconry displays, archery, balloon modelling, face painting – even ferret cuddles and racing!! We were fortunate with the weather being on our side – an unexpectedly cold but crisp day of blue skies, sunshine – and some crazy winds thanks to Storm Brian, but none the less the people poured in for a day of fun, heritage, history and merriment! With approximately 2,000 people coming in through the door – I was lucky enough to meet some amazingly interesting people, make new friends and understand a small slice of just what our county has to offer!
The Crafty Lass stand was demonstrating making fabric tinsel and wreaths – ahead of the upcoming Christmas craft workshops – and also briefly appeared both live on BBC Radio Northampton with Carson Wishart and for a short stint in the ‘Talk Tent’ discussing just how important craft is – and how it can be a therapeutic opportunity to relax out of our busy working lives.
A particular shout out and thank you to the wonderful Elke Pollard who I met today and loved my craft demonstrations of fabric tinsel so much she bought the demo make to wear as a scarf! What a trendsetter!
Thank you to everyone who came along, watched the demonstrations, bought from The Crafty Lass (our greeting cards and some beautiful fabric fat quarters were for sale!) and were excited about coming along to the craft workshops! Also to all the other lovely producers and traders who I met today. Finally, a MASSIVE thank you to BBC Radio Northampton and Holdenby House – what a fantastic event you put on! See you next year!
Having studied Art & Design – specialising in textiles for A-Level, BTEC Foundation in Art & Design – specialising in Textiles and then going on to specialise in Printed Textile Design at University – you’d think my go to medium of choice, would always be fabric. Of course, I would never turn my back on the beautiful warps and weft of material but it is sometimes nice to try something new.
I have made many flowers out of fabric before – making HUNDREDS of hand cut petals for our wedding. Sewing these into large ruffled flowers that adorned the tables, the chairs, the corsages – and have since held several flower corsage craft workshops teaching people how to make these.
It was only fairly recently that I started to explore making flowers out of a new material – paper.
Paper, with all its varying weights, styles and colours provides incredible flexibility to create texture where perhaps fabric cannot to the same degree. Paper, when you fold it, it often stays where you put it – you can roll it up, cut it up – without fraying, it can be stretched to create shape (in crepe paper certainly) it can be crumpled up to create folds and definitions. It can be delicate (tissue) and strong (card). It provides a whole wealth of inspiration and ideas. Of course there are delicate silks and structured chords and denims to explore with fabric, but paper somehow feels more tactile, more instantaneous texture. I have always been more focused on the graphic design ON the fabric – colour, the pattern, the print of the fabric, not necessarily the texture.
Colours – I’ve always been inspired by nature and the amazing palletes it brings. What could be more invigorating than looking at the colours of a glorious sandy beach against cool blues of the sea? Or, the remarkable russets, greens, golds and oranges of an Autumnal tree? Or the pastels, brights of a floral summer garden?
Using real flowers as the most obvious starting point, when making paper flowers – I like to try and recreate the styles and shapes and as close to nature as possible… but equally it is quite nice to give a nod to – that the recreation IS paper. For example, peonies – I’ve been known to hand paint crepe paper to specific shades of pink to replicate the imperfect colouring in nature of real peony petals. I have been told that people didn’t realise that it was paper, they looked THAT real! (Mission accomplished!) However, with daisies – I tend to cut the paper into little straight strips. Thus giving square edged petals – they look like daisies, but just not quite.
Flowers can of course, be built into extraordinary displays and bouquets – and what a choice! From tiny little delicate ‘baby’s breath’ to huge ruffly roses and sunny sunflowers. Often interspersed with foliage and leaves building up layer upon layer of colours and textures.
As beautiful and striking as real flowers can be – they do not – very sadly – last.
However, fabric and paper – very happily – does.
I have been honoured to be asked to make various paper flower commissions – primarily for people’s weddings – and most recently, I had a very romantic request – for a first ‘paper’ anniversary gift, to replicate his wife’s wedding bouquet, so that she could keep it! (He’s a keeper!)
Using a wedding photograph as inspiration and lots of secret messages between myself and the groom to make sure it was just right, after weeks of paper folding and making – he gave her his thoughtful gift within the last week. I’m really glad to say she loved it. (Mega brownie points for hubby, right?) Yay!
Looking forward to 2018, I plan to launch paper flower craft workshops for people to come and learn how to make them… in the meantime, if you – or someone you know would like a paper flower commission – please do get in touch!
When it comes to fabrics – I am certainly a bit of a magpie! Particularly if vintage – so they have a bit of history behind them. Or an unusual print or pattern. Or colour, or weave… Who am I kidding – any fabrics that might have a use! I often buy them if I like them, to keep ‘just in case’… (Otherwise known as a classic craft hoarder – much to The Husband’s dismay!)
This time, with a specific project in mind – I was on the look out for some ‘Rose’ fabric – to craft up a present for one of our lovely friend’s little girl’s 1st birthday present. I had kept a sneaky eye out on eBay for anything coming up, and hunted in my normal ‘go-to’ fabric haunts – and I was tempted to go for something such as the Cath Kidston Antique Rose design until, I suddenly, unexpectedly stumbled upon some beautiful vintage roses pillow cases in Brackley Antiques Cellar. Bingo!
I had planned to make a cushion – which may sound a strange first birthday gift – however the bright floral colours, and an idea for potential ribbon details to play with, I am hoping it will be an item loved for years to come in her nursery/future bedroom!
I was already intending to make a simple ‘fold over’ style cushion cover (where the back overlaps) – and my first thought with my new found treasure – was to simply just cut away all the seams of the pillowcase, and then use the fabric as per normal. However, when I started to look at and measure the cases, I realised size wise – it was near as perfect for the cushion inner I had in mind. Wouldn’t it be silly to rip out perfectly already achieved craftmanship, just to redo them all over again?? So, with that in mind – after washing and ironing – I decided to embrace the pillow case as part of the design! Here is how I achieved the final look…
Have you ever upcycled a pillow case into a cushion cover? I would love to see!
So that’s it. I need to join the C.A. also known as Crochet Anonymous as I am officially addicted. Does it exist??
The little one naps? – Crochet. Contentedly jumping in his jumperoo for half an hour? – Surely I can fit in a few rounds of the latest project… Chores are being ignored, sleep is too. The Husband is also not really being spoken to much and usually often with “wait a minute” or “ssh, I’m counting”!
My TOFT #edsanimals collection is slowly expanding… starting out with the lovely Bridget the Elephant last year – and across the last month I have now completed Gregor the T Rex, our Patch the Crafty Dog (adapted from Maximillian the Weimaraner), Boris the Red Squirrel, (and now Blue the Whale Calf) – and with Hank the Dorset Down Sheep, Blake the Orangutan, Douglas the Highland Cow, as many dinosaurs as I can find – and of course ‘Hope the Whale’ in the pipeline…
The thing is, the reason it’s addictive – is it is almost meditative. You focus, you relax and as a bonus – the output once you know the basic stitches is FAST!
When the opportunity to go and crochet TOFT‘s #hopethewhale at the Natural History Museum came along – I jumped at the chance. My only questions of ‘where do I book’ and ‘how do I pay’?
The Natural History Museum, that along with the V&A, and The Science Museum (all of which I frequented yesterday!) in that wonderful area of South Kensington, London – has always been magical to me. Beautiful architecture, every corridor filled with wonder and excitement. As a child particularly at the Natural History Museum – it felt special to be there. Those big archways and the huge, unbelievable dinosaur rising above you…
Well, as I discovered yesterday – the amazement doesn’t stop even when you have become an adult!
Walking into the Hintze Hall to see no longer Dippy the Diplodocus (which I have just discovered is excitedly going ‘on tour’ around the UK!), but the new majestic ‘Hope the Whale‘ – magically suspended in all her glory. Truly breathtaking.
Then, underneath this magical spectacle – were around 40 tables for over 350 other awe inspired crocheters – ready to take on the challenge of a new TOFT pattern!
A true blend of never crocheted before in my life newbies, to resident experts – it was fascinating to see the task ahead being taken on with such patience and gusto! Kerry Lord – founder of TOFT and creative director, announced an extra special surprise that not only would we be crocheting ‘Hope the Whale’ but her lovely calf too. She threw down the gauntlet for the little calf to be completed by the end of the event… I am pretty competitive and so off I went, suddenly back in my crochet meditative state – yarn over and through, yarn over and through…
What Kerry failed to initially mention was this pattern threw in a few unexpected surprises from her usual format – new stitches and techniques that would also need to be mastered! Surprisingly to me however – was that although they actually sounded complicated, they were all just versions from the same theme and easy to follow once explained – we were all quickly off crocheting for a beautiful hour and a half. With plenty of explanations from Kerry herself, and those that needed extra tuition had plenty of support with the full TOFT team on hand… I was so focused, enjoying the moment – that at the end of the workshop I introduced myself to the person I was sitting next to! Who also was undertaking her own personal mission to complete the calf…
As I expected… I didn’t quite finish it on the night – I was too excited to look around and absorb the magical resplendent beauty of ‘Hope’ in the fading evening light.
I chose to try and complete the calf – on the train, on the way home… Many thanks to Angela (my friend and crochet partner in crime) for her skill and patience with this, as of course 11pm was the perfect time to get practicing half treble and treble crochet stitches?? In the end, some sleep and a cup of tea was all it took to refocus and complete the final stitches this morning.
A truly wonderful event – Kerry and TOFT should be thanked and congratulated…! Bravo! My crafty self has certainly thanked me for going, but my bank balance hasn’t… off into London, child free, and let loose with a sense of freedom and my credit card let’s just say I bought a few ‘momentos’ to remember the event… because who doesn’t need whale shaped baking measuring cups??
I am looking forward to the next one already…
Now on to make mumma ‘Hope’ and continue to ignore those chores…