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 http://www.etsy.com/shop/Aliscrafty - 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 http://planetpenny.co.uk/

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 http://www.etsy.com/shop/WharfedaleWoolworks and the pattern was a free download from Ravelry http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/ghislaine-gloves.  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 http://www.creativequilting.co.uk 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 http://www.craftsandquilts.net.  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.  http://www.etsy.com/shop/ButtonsByMcAnaraks

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 https://www.etsy.com/listing/120462558/hand-knitted-corsage-with-polymer-clay  and Pat's sheep is here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/PatsParaphernalia

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.  http://www.etsy.com/shop/rosyretro

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?  http://www.etsy.com/shop/PlanetPennyUK

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.  http://www.etsy.com/shop/Lynwoodcrafts

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. http://www.etsy.com/shop/melissaceramics

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 http://www.juliadavey.com 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!  http://www.etsy.com/shop/lilacelephant

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.  http://www.etsy.com/shop/TheBotanicalConcept

My last choice was from http://www.etsy.com/shop/PennySpoonerCeramics 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 http://www.etsy.com/shop/Aliscrafty 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  www.lusciouslittlesomethings.com.  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