Saturday, 6 April 2013

It's Spring!

No, I know it's been snowing again this week, it's still bitterly cold and the wind is rather icy BUT the new season of craft shows is well and truly underway, we've passed the official start of Spring, had Easter and I've booked a summer holiday so it really must be.  All this awful weather has had a dampening effect on the spirits and that, couple with a household immersed in exam revision could only mean one solution for me - get out!

So today I took myself off to Canterbury.  I must admit that before planning this journey I thought I should probably book an overnight stay, it did look rather a long way but, amazingly, it only took me an hour and a quarter (despite the inevitable roadworks on the M25) from Epsom.  My destination was Kent College where Craft in Focus are staging one of their brilliant Contemporary Craft & Design Fairs.  Being just outside the city it was easy to find with plenty of onsite parking and and a cafe for refreshments.  This was the only one of the CIF shows I had not had the chance to visit before and I was not disappointed.  The overall quality of these fairs is very high - no imported goods here - everyone is a designer/maker - and many exhibitors travel considerable distances to attend the shows.

Here are a few of the stands which particularly caught my eye.

Margo Selby

This stand has the most amazing woven fabric used both for clothing and home furnishings.  The vibrant colours and patterns are riveting but it was the luxurious feel of the fabric which really drew me in.  Their new studio is in nearby Whitstable where there is a launch party on 26th April.

Daniel Lacey

This is wood to be touched and stroked (I did!).  I'd love to have some of these pieces in my house but the most covetable was the box in the bottom left hand corner - perfect for storing (or hiding) an extra stash of yarn or fabric or maybe both.  It's top was gently curved so I could sit on it comfortably and no-one would know what was inside!

Colour to Lift the Soul

This photo really does not do justice to the vibrancy of the colours or the texture of the paintings by Alice Harfield.  Lots of lovely beach huts as well as the floral art (readers will know I am slightly addicted to beach huts).  Cards as well as original paintings available.

Gillian Paterson Studios

Gillian explores the beauty of colour and light in her paintings which are full of serenity.  Something to soothe the soul.

So just to confirm that spring is most definitely here I bought a little present for me from the lovely Jo and Adam at Four Hands Etched Glass

As you can see it's the perfect tulip vase!  

The show is still running tomorrow and I recommend you pay a visit.  It's open from 10 till 5.

Apologies that this blog is short but sweet but my notebook is I fear slowly but surely dying.  I'll post again soon when I have a more cooperative computer.

Lots of love as always

Monday, 18 February 2013

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry - a treasury of literary inspirations

You know what it's like on those dull damp drizzly days in February - you just want to snuggle up on the sofa with a cuppa and lose yourself in a book, preferably one to lift your spirits.  The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce is just such a book.  Not only does it tell the story of one man's journey - in both a physical and a psychological sense - it is filled with the most beautiful descriptive language I've come across in a long time.  I loved every word.

As you know I've recently relaunched my Etsy shop and as part of this new beginning I joined an Etsy team -    Craft Britannia - which supports and promotes UK sellers.  It's always difficult to work out the best way to explore (there are over 450 members!) so I've used the book's inspiring descriptions to see what I could find and here are the results in my Literary Inspirations Treasury.

'pinky grey'
This lovely cushion is one of many fantastic designs in this shop .  Sarah the owner must be lovely too as she and I share a birthday!

'startling yellow clouds of forsythia'
I love ceramics and this shop is full of gorgeous designs and has gifts to cover every occasion in prices to suit every pocket.

'russet cloud'
There are so many pretty things in this shop you're spoilt for choice  With Mother's Day coming up this could be the ideal destination for a special gift.

'forget-me-nots shone in pale pools'
This bracelet matched the words so perfectly I wouldn't be surprised if the author had been taking her inspiration from this shop!

'irises were a watery blue'
The owner of this shop is very talented - beautifully painted fabrics to wear and dress your home.

'deep red peonies opened like tissue paper creations'
This card is part of a floral collection of 3D decoupage cards in Sue's shop  There are also beautiful crystals and jewellery to tempt you.

'flakes of cloud'
Vicky is a very talented artist and seamstress.  She makes such cute baby bibs and bandanas.  If you need a present with a difference for a newborn this is the place to shop

'soft mist rose, like wisps of smoke'
I would love to buy some of these hand-crafted buttons to use in my corsages.  Take a look at Susan Sharpe's lovely shop for buttons and more.

'polished silver light'
Another book I really enjoyed was Anita Shreve's Sea Glass - this seashore find features in this beautiful necklace by Zoe of who combines silver and glass to great effect.

'dress of blossom'
Another talented seamstress Tori creates very special baby clothes in lovely fabrics.  Take a look at her shop

'tulips grew in pert rows'
This is such a fantastic idea - a gift card holder - one of many brilliant designs from - lots of pretty paper designs.

'sun poured like warm liquid'
I have to admit I pretty much love everything in this shop  The colours are amazing and I love using hand-dyed yarns and threads - just trying to see how I could use the lace too!

'the morning sky was a single blue'
Usually I am drawn to yarn which is shaded or variegated but this is just such a beautiful colour and I could imagine gazing into the sky when I found it.  More gorgeous colours and yarns available from this lovely shop

'drift of petals'
Amazingly made and amazingly beautiful.  No wonder it was an Etsy front page item.  Find more beauty here

'luminous clarity'
These earrings are a fascinating mix of tatting and beads.  Tatting is very difficult (I tried it once) and deserves a wider following.  Take a look at Heather's other lovely work here

'deep velvety black'
You know how difficult it is to find the perfect gift for a man - well, I rather think these would be it.  There's a great selection for the motorsport-inspired chap here

The sun's come out now so if you fancy your cuppa curled up in the windowseat buy or download a copy of this book and you won't be disappointed.  And after the sun's set have a mooch around these shops.  Maybe take a look at mine too.  Now the sun's here I can take some more photographs and upload more goodies for you.  It's here

Lots of love as always and thanks to my new team and Rachel Joyce for providing the inspiration for this blog.


Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Quick Monday Update No. 2

Yes, I know it's Tuesday and I missed last week (but I was keen to get my blog on my Etsy Re-discoveries out) but I'm keen to try to keep this going so here is an update on where I'm at this week.

Work in progress

I've uploaded 10 corsages to my Etsy shop - more to come this week including the remaining sheep button ones.  The recipient was very happy with the black alpaca corsage she chose.

The bunting made with Planet Penny cotton yarn is finished so here's a picture.  I'm probably going to list this on Etsy too along with the animal bunting I designed last year.  I've really enjoyed making both.  Have a look at Penny's website

The cardigan has made progress too but it's taken more yarn than anticipated to alter the length so I may have to source another ball or two.

During last week I've achieved my first item 'knitting in the round' - one fingerless mitten.  It's made from some lovely hand-dyed yarn I bought from Kirsty at Wharfedale Woolworks and the pattern was a free download from Ravelry  Once I got the hang of using the double-pointed needles (I used 3mm) it grew quite quickly.  When I've made the second one I'm going to canvas opinion as to whether these would be a popular product at my autumn fairs and get lots of friends to try them on so I know if the sizing works.  Then I'll come up with some designs of my own.  (I'm keeping this pair for me!)


The quilting event at Farnham Maltings on 13th January was a little disappointing - I suspect that some shops' investment in stock has decreased over the last 12 months so the variety of 'bargains' was less this year.  Nevertheless I did find one or two nice pieces to use for a practice run on some advent calendars.  The best choice was from Creative Quilting based in East Molesley in Surrey so I'm really happy to have just discovered they are exhibiting again this coming weekend in the Norfolk Pavilion at the South of England Showground in Ardingly in West Sussex which is not too far away from me.  Another of my favourite shops will be there too: Crafts and Quilts of Southport - one I can't easily get to but have bought from online  The event runs from Friday 25th to Sunday 27th January and is open from 10 till 4.30 (4 on Sunday).  Having exhibited there myself I know it is a nice open space where you'll be able to see completed quilts and buy supplies.  There's a cafe area for drinks and snacks.

Well, that's it for this week.  All being well (as my grandma used to say) I'll be back early next week with another update.

Bye for now.
Alison x

Friday, 18 January 2013

Old friends - new discoveries

To celebrate the relaunch of my Etsy shop Aliscrafty I've created a Treasury List of 16 favourite items from the Etsy shops of some of my favourite people.  It's called Re-discoveries.  Here's why I chose them.

I first bought some McAnaraks buttons in a shop in Brighton and used them in some of my knitted corsages.  They were so unusual they not only provided  a talking point but also provided me with an interesting challenge to find yarns which complemented them.  So when I found McAnaraks had an Etsy shop I was thrilled and will definitely be ordering some more to go with some of the fabulous yarn I have in stock from Luscious Little Somethings.

Isn't he just the cutest sheep you've ever seen?  I really love him!  He's been needle-felted by Pat who is also a brilliant clay artist.  I've used some of Pat's lovely buttons in my corsages, again with great success.  One of my new Etsy listings is for a beautiful angora knitted corsage with a cute Scottie dog at its centre.  It's here  and Pat's sheep is here:

This gorgeous tea towel is from Janey Crick.  I first found Janey's illustrations when I was creating another treasury list and blog on The Language of Flowers last year.  Her illustrations are very inspirational for me.

Rosy Retro's mini skeins have also been good inspiration for my knitting.  I've made some cute little corsages but I love them most for the little knitted butterflies I've used on my greetings cards.  Knitted up on 2mm needles they are just the perfect size to fit on the 5 in cards and I love finding the right fabric for each unique colourway.

Kirsty's hand-dyed yarn is another lovely source of raw materials for me.  I've just bought three superbly soft skeins to use for some fingerless gloves.  These seem to be very popular and if I succeed in making a reasonable go at them I'll make some for my autumn and Christmas fairs.

Who can not be inspired by Planet Penny?  Her pack of yarn in an extended rainbow of colours is a base for so many amazing projects, not least Penny's own rainbow mice!  I treated myself to a large pack for my birthday but there's a smaller craft pack now available on Etsy here.  What would you make?

What I love about everything in Lynwood Crafts shop is the attention to detail. It's really worth taking a look.  I'm keen to improve my own embroidery skills and am booked on two embroidery courses starting soon to learn some new techniques.

Shirley Woosey's covers for books and technology are some of the best I've seen - beautifully made and fabulous choice of fabrics.  I'm making some knitted covers and will be putting them in my Etsy shop very shortly.

This shop has some amazing knitting kits including this really sweet reindeer.  Using British wool is a feature of the designs.  I'm going to put together some kits for my Christmas felt characters for the 2013 season.  They will have a special knitted feature - like my Facebook page to find out what it is soon.

Here is another brilliant craft shop!  Again I love the detail of the work, the combination of fabrics, beads and button - a real class act.  The applique is beautifully done - not something I have done too much of myself so I'm booked on to a 1-day course in February to remedy that!

I love everything about this card: the colours, the subject and the fact that, although printed, it looks so like the original you can almost feel the texture.  I've still making all my cards with original fabric and decorations but seeing print as good as this does give me food for thought.

Melissa's Ceramics have been a source of some pretty handmade buttons which I use in my corsages and in my fabric pictures.  This, however, is a beautiful handmade snowflake decoration and is a perfect choice for this snowy day.

Julia's work is lovely - her illustrations and colour choices are right up my street.  We had two of her ceramic baubles decorating our mantelpiece over Christmas - they looked just right.  It's worth keeping an eye on her website for where she is exhibiting as her products look even better in real life!

This shop is a good source of all things quilty for festive and other occasions. I love houses so this advent calendar really appeals to me.  For Christmas 2013 I'm experimenting with a version of my own - with lots of knitted elements of course!

These beautifully illustrated gift cards are also very appealing to me - I'd love to receive a gift with one of these attached. My own brooch gift tags were one of my most popular items at last year's fairs so I'll be producing lots more this year.

My last choice was from but the picture disappeared from my Treasury - maybe because Penny's on holiday.  I bought some aqua coloured ceramic buttons from Penny which have been much admired in my corsages.  If the picture reappears on her return I'll edit this post and pop it in.

Well, I hope you like this collection - there is so much wonderful work out there to see and buy.  Etsy is an amazing source of some of the best handmade items from all around the world and I'm proud to be part of it.

Lots of love,

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Quick Monday update no. 1

As promised in my last post I'm aiming to do a quick update on what I'm up to each Monday.  (I know it's Tuesday but had an internet hiccup last night!)

Work in Progress

I made four sheep inspired corsages for a customer from Sparkle at the Landmark Arts Centre in Teddington to choose from for a sheep fan.  She's chosen this the black alpaca with the round sheep button. I'm going to finish the other three and put them in my Etsy shop this week.

I'm also working on a new bunting idea for this year inspired by the Planet Penny Cotton Club yarn.  I love the yarn colours in this selection and am making a simple star shape (so as to be gender neutral) from each colour and am currently knitting the 'ribbon' to hold the whole thing together.  Full picture next week.

I'm also working on a cardigan for myself in some beautiful Sublime tussah silk dk in pale pink which I found on sale in John Lewis last summer (always worth a look at their sale as high quality yarn is half price).  It's from a Sirdar pattern 9562 but I'm going to make it longer in both the body and the sleeves.  It's years since I made a garment for myself but I'm enjoying picking this up in between other projects.  I'm thinking if I wear something knitted to my events I'll look more the part!


This coming Sunday we're off Farnham Maltings to the Quilters Exhibition and Fabrics Sale (it's open 10-4 if you're interested).  I'm keen to see if I can find some fabric suitable for my two new Christmas product ideas for 2013.

Buying Lavender Heart products

I'm working on updating my website with new products and new features and also relaunching my Etsy shop which is sadly completely empty!

It's going to be a busy week.
Bye for now.

Friday, 4 January 2013

New year - new resolutions

Well, it's that time of the year, isn't it?  So I thought I'd take a look back at my first post of 2012 - New Year - Resolutions or not and see what I managed to achieve and then look forward to some of my aims for 2013.  Are you sitting comfortably?

A was for ANIMAL BUNTING.  This did come to fruition in a collaboration with my daughter who did the animal drawings and has proved popular as a nursery decoration.  We're working on a couple of new designs for 2013.

B: well I did do the BUNTING and my BLOGGING frequency improved but still some work to do .....  I'm planning a quick Monday update for 2013 as well as the normal posts.

C for CORSAGES - they are still one of my most popular products and were enhanced this year by using hand-dyed yarn from +Luscious Little Somethings - fabulous colours and textures.  Going to make more CUSHIONS this year.

D - I did do a new DRAWING for Bunbury Bunny and made a special version in celebration of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee which sold out at the CRAFT IN FOCUS Spring Fair at Wisley.

E reflected my debate on whether to open an ETSY shop.  I did and was impressed by my experience but it was difficult to maintain it whilst beavering away on stock for my autumn fairs.  It's here and will be revived shortly with lots of new products.

F was for FABRIC.  I bought from several new sources this year including Quilty Pleasures in Brighton (whose fabrics were really popular in my greetings cards).  We started our fabric hunt at a quilting fabric sale at Farnham Maltings and will be wending our way down there again on January 13th to search for new stock.  FLIPPO the felt penguin proved popular again in 2012 but is on a visit to the Antarctic next year so SIMON THE SNOWMAN will be journeying back from the North Pole to take his place in the 2013 Christmas collection.

G - GINGIE was even more popular this year so will be reappearing for Christmas 2013 in a new jumper and with a decoration inspired by an idea from a very young customer at Wisley in November.

H:  This year I really indulged myself in HAND-DYED YARNS - principally from Beth at Luscious Little Somethings  They are truly inspirational.  I'm about to list some of the HANDBAG MIRRORS in my Etsy shop.  The mirrors themselves are silver-plated and nestle in hand-knitted cases with fabric linings.  They make a lovely gift and come boxed so easy to post.

I was for INJABULO whose Incomparable buttons I love; they inspired some lovely embroidered pictures this year.  I also made an IPAD cover and will be working on some MINI IPAD ones soon.

J: the JOY of making is still there you'll be pleased to know!

K inspired KINDLE covers which were adorned with some fabulous new buttons from STOCKWELL CERAMICS.  Have realised I am probably addicted to KNITTING!  In 2013 K will also stand for KITS - I'll be starting with the Christmas felt characters and - especially for two lady customers at Sparkle - a bunting kit.

L is still for LAVENDER HEART - there will be some significant changes to the website coming soon so bear with me!

M - MELISSA'S CERAMICS butterflies still form the foundation for some of my textile pictures and the floral buttons sit prettily on my corsages.

N: NEW DESIGNS are always important in any business - I'm experimenting with two new Christmas related products for next year - keep watching!  As these will be more complex I'll be offering the opportunity to order in advance.

O - well the OYSTER CARD HOLDER made its way to the autumn fairs I attended - I'll be putting some on the website soon - just need to keep knitting ...  We loved the OLYMPICS and PARALYMPICS but it proved to be impossible to produce games-related products due to the licensing restrictions.

P - the PURSES have proved popular and will be a permanent part of the collection now - some new designs coming shortly.

Q was and is for QUALITY not QUANTITY which is synonymous with handmade.

R: as well as the ROSE-FILLED BAGS I made some pretty ROSE corsages to dress up some sunhats.  One of my followers has suggested selling these pretty corsages separately too so they'll be added to the 2013 selection.

S - the SHIPS didn't quite reach the harbour but it's an idea I still love so hoping to include them in my Christmas 2013 products.

T - I did add some knitting to my TEXTILE GREETINGS CARDS this year in the form of little butterflies made from hand-dyed sock yarn from Rosy Retro (another lovely Etsy discovery).  This year I have sold lots more of the frames I had made to fit the cards so they are proving to be good keepsakes.  I'm thinking of adding another size and possibly another style in 2013.

U - the UNRAVEL show is on at Farnham Maltings on 23rd and 24th February 2013 and if you love yarn and knitting is well worth a visit.

V - finally invested in a new VACUUM CLEANER to gather up the bits of thread and yarn.

W, X, Y and Z - nothing new there!

So the end of the alphabet and the beginning of a new year.  My main resolution is TO BE MORE ORGANISED!  But having exhibited at one or two less than successful shows I'm going to be restricting myself this year to those that are focussed on handmade - in Britain - and to increase my online presence.

As always I welcome comments, feedback, ideas for new products and visitors at shows - it's lovely to hear from you.  I wish you a very happy and healthy 2013.

Lots of love