Saturday, 28 November 2015

Elephants :: Tea pots

This month I spotted these wonderful elephant tea pots on Pinterest. Aren't elephants just the perfect shape for a teapot? There was such a range of beautiful designs, here are some of the favourites that I found.

1. This reminds me of the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz
2. Just add a couple of ears to any teapot and you have yourself an elephant
3. Love the shape that creates the face and the rider who makes the lid handle
4. A vintage 1930s tea pot, the pinks contrast so beautifully with the main colour
5. The colour of this one is just gorgeous and has such a cute face too
6. Such ornate metal work on this tea pot
7. Love the trunk shape on this one - so different to the others
8. The texture on this tea pot gives it a real elephanty feel
9. Another vintage tea pot, this time from the 1950s, love the kitsch design - comes with elephant sugar bowl, milk jug and cups

For more elephants visit my Elephants board on Pinterest.
All links above are to Pinterest as a number of the items pictured are no longer available at their original link.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Tutorial :: Customise a free tote bag with crochet

With the new 5p plastic bag tax in England, carrying around a tote bag or two will need to become a habit for many people. I've take my own bags to my supermarket shop for the past 5 years or so and seem to have accumulated tote bags in the same way I used to acquire plastic ones. All kinds of companies seem to be wanting to give away free canvas bags with their logo printed on them. I always take them as I know I can customise them with my own designs.

Last year I took one such free tote bag and added my own embellishment. Inspired by the colour of the daffodils I bought from Lidl and the flowering tree in my garden that just looks so jolly, especially when the sun I decided to do this by adding some crocheted sunflowers.


Here's how:

Starting with the free bag, I measured and cut a piece of felt to the size needed to cover the advertisement printed on the bag.

Free tote bag

Then I pinned and stitched the felt in place using crochet cotton.

Felt covering advertisement on tote bag

Felt covering advertisement on tote bag

Next step was to make the flowers. The pattern I used was one I found on Pinterest. The original design is by Sonia Karen.

The yarn I used for this project was a mixture of anchor crochet cotton I bought from the this shop on ebay (as I've not been able to find anywhere local that stocks crochet cotton), cross stitch thread that I had left over from a teenage cross stitching phase, and 3 strands of standard sewing thread held together. Across these different sources I found a good range of sunflower colours.

As the thread I was using was generally quite thin I used a 1mm crochet hook.

Ten sunflowers later I figured I had enough to achieve what I was aiming for. The sunflowers were a bit curly round the edges so I 'blocked' them. Being a self taught knitter and crocheter I hadn't ever tried this before. I followed a this blocking tutorial.

Blocking crochet sunflowers

The result gave slightly flatter sunflowers than I had started with, but maybe because of the thin cotton I had used (or my technique?) they still had a hint of curl. I arranged them on the felt balancing position and colours.

Pinning crochet sunflowers

So the final step was to stitch them onto the felt cover. I first stitched the centre of the flower to the felt using the tail of the crochet cotton.

Sewing on crochet sunflowers

Then I lightly stitched each petal in place.

Sewing on crochet sunflowers

And here is the finished bag. Something to brighten up my shopping trips.

Finished crochet sunflower tote bag

A version of this post first appeared on my old blog.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Out and About :: The Second Handmade Fair

Last year I made the decision to go to the Handmade Fair just a few days before the event and because of that a couple of the sessions I was interested in going to weren't available. Overall my opinion was that it was worth a visit but there were a couple of lessons I learned.

This year I was pretty sure I wanted to go a few months out, but didn't want to book too far in advance. I did keep eye on the website about what workshops/sessions were available though.
What was most annoying about the build up was the incessant emailing from the Handmade Fair. There were so many emails that in the end I just had to unsubscribe from the mailing list as there wasn't the option to receive for example just a monthly update.

Other changes for the worse this year:
  • no option to print your tickets at home. Luckily I booked a week before the event, not sure what would have happened had I wanted to book the day before
  • change of location and Hampton Court Palace with no signs pointing you towards the new location. Granted had I looked around before entering the palace grounds I may have spotted it but still some signs in the grounds would have been useful for those of us who attended last year (I wasn't the only one to make this error - one of the ladies in my workshop was late for one of her sessions as she had gone to last year's site)
Grumbles out of the way, what did I think of it this year?
Well for a start, the increased number of food and drink vendors was welcome, although there were still queues, it was nothing compared to the queue to get a cuppa last year. There also seemed to be more places to sit. 

Last year I went on the Friday and arrived just after it opened. This year I went on the Sunday and arrived at about midday (due to booking on late workshops). However, at that time the shopping tents were heaving and with the narrow gaps between some of the stalls it was just impossible to get to see very much.

My first session in the Super Theatre was on craft photography with Lyndsey James which was just excellent and I hold that session responsible for helping to get my blogging mojo back. There will be a post on putting the tips from this session into practice soon.

Then I went to the block printing grand make. I wasn't particularly inspired by any of the grand make sessions (or at least the ones that fitting in with the Super Theatre and Workshop sessions that I really wanted to go to).

I learned a new skill and may make use of it in the future, but being more of a stitcher printing isn't (yet) my thing.

My final workshop was the last session of the day so between the Grand Make and Workshop I got a chance to shop. It was much quieter at this time and there was a distinct lack of buggies clogging up the aisles too. I picked up a few purchases, but nowhere near as many as last year.

Given the name of this blog I just had to buy this Elephant block for printing for just £2. It was from a stall that I didn't catch the name of and as I didn't splash out £6 for a programme this year I can't figure out which stall it was...

On it's own it doesn't look like much, but fill it with sparkly beads and it looks great. Purchased from Totally Beads. £2 x 2 packs = £4

When I saw these fat quarters on the Fabric Fox stall I knew I had to buy them. My initial though was to make some small purses with beaded/embroidered detail to fit in with the silvery printed pattern. £3.30 x 2 = £6.60

Last year I picked up a few small packs of vintage bits and pieces that I still haven't done anything with. But at £2 I couldn't resist buying this one - for those buttons along. Again, didn't catch the name of this stall ...

I bought a little pack of Christmas shapes from Artcuts last year that I made in to tree decorations. This year following my love for Mollie Makes 51 free kit, I couldn't resist this for £3.50.

I also bought a kit from Hobbycraft for £7 which you can see on the Hobbycraft website.

With lunch at £8, tea £1.50, fudge £3, can of drink £1.80, I reckon I spent about £40 on the day - about half of what I did last year.

Personally I felt there were far to many people selling finished makes. Being a maker myself and at an event dedicated to workshops for makers it feels odd that there are so many finished items for sale. I personally would like to see more suppliers in the shopping village.

The final workshop was needle felting. I picked this workshop as there have been a few needle felting projects in Mollie Makes over the time I've been a subscriber and I've never tried this craft so I thought I'd give it a go.

I was very pleased with the finished object and I've already given it another go with my Hobbycraft kit.

So all in all. Was the second Handmade Fair worth a visit?
I think my opinion is the same as last year. I like the fact it isn't just about one craft or type of craft. I like the mix of shopping and workshops. I'd learned my lessons from last time and minimised the time between workshops and that worked well for me. (Although one thing I hadn't considered before would be booking onto other workshops when I get there - something to factor into planning next year.) 
So yes, I think it is worth a visit, as long as you plan your day carefully.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Finished make :: Jam jar pin cushions

I recycle as much as I can, but glass jars get put to one side for other uses - mostly crafting. Back in February I covered a couple of jars with crochet to store my craft supplies.

The stockpile of empty jars was growing, as was the mess on my craft table so I set about making some glass jar pincushions.

Most of the tutorials that I could find on Pinterest all used mason jars, whereas these were just basic jam jars (well mustard jars really). I eventually found this tutorial. The only difference between my jars and the ones in the tutorial was I'd soaked the labels off first.

The pincushions on the lids give easy access, whilst the jars are great for storing crafty bits and pieces.

Jam jar pin cushions