Sunday, 11 December 2016

From pink elephants to gold poinsettias - how one thing led to another

In November I was lucky enough to exhibit with Craft in Focus at the Royal Horticultural Society's garden in Wisley.  It was an amazing fair full of the most stunning work all of which is produced in Britain by the exhibitors.  As well as being a feast for visitors' eyes it's also a great opportunity for them to talk with the exhibitors - about their work and what inspires them - and to commission unique items for special occasions.

And so it was that a pink elephant came about.  This year I've made cards for children by appliqueing animals onto fabric backgrounds.  Elephants - not surprisingly - have been popular.

But so have jungle creatures and ponies.



One of my customers loved the background fabric on this pony card but wanted a bright pink spotty elephant instead.










As luck would have it I'd run out of bright pink polka dot fabric so last Sunday took a ride over to Creative Quilting in Hampton Court to restock.  A brilliant dotty fuschia fabric was perfect but - as any fabriholic knows - one colour is never enough so I had to pick up a few others just in case someone commissioned a rainbow herd of elephants!

Here's the result!

While there I was drawn to a lovely Robert Kaufman collection, Valley of the Kings, full of stylised flowers in jewel like colours.  This turquoise and gold design jumped out at me because turquoise is the gemstone for December and I hadn't yet designed a flower of the month card ...

After finishing off my Wisley commissions this week I had time to pick up this gorgeous fabric again. Many sites quote Holly or Narcissus as the birth flower for December but some also mention Poinsettia and this showy plant seemed more fitting for the fabric - it also means 'be of good cheer' which seems a good message for this time of the year.  Not perhaps the right colour though ...

But this one is!  A new poinsettia called Gold Rush is being grown and it's gorgeous!

So December's flower of the month card is a crocheted gold poinsettia (based on a pattern from Caitlin Sainio's book 100 Lace Flowers to Crochet) set on this fabulous fabric.



So there you have it - how a pink elephant led to a gold poinsettia.  Listing for the flower of the month card in my Etsy shop is here https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/484765448.  If you'd like a pink elephant or even a rainbow herd just email me on alison@lavender-heart.co.uk.

Have a very merry Christmas.
See you in 2017

Lots of love
Alison








Friday, 24 June 2016

Independence

Let me start this post by saying that I voted to remain in the EU.  But the deed is done and while the politicians sort out what happens next I just want to air a few positive thoughts, entirely, I might add, related to my business sector of crafts.

I did during the lead up to the referendum think about voting to leave because I felt that the UK being independent could bring about a change in attitude, in being more proud of the good things in Britain, being more proud of what we do produce here and lead to a bigger focus on independent businesses as a way of taking our country forward.  So now I think we should see this as an opportunity to shout about these things more.

My sector is full of small independent businesses, producing excellent quality work.  We are individuals, often working alone or with a partner, in our craft rooms or sheds or studios.  We work with precision, care and love.  It may sound like hype when designers, makers and crafters say that on their websites or in their bios.  But it's true.

This morning I had a chat with a fellow crafter who sells some of her product to European buyers. Would this result stop that?  I said I don't see why because they are buying from you as a person, buying your product which they love, neither of those things is going to change.  In fact while big business rants and raves maybe this is the opportunity for those of us working at the micro end of the business scale to up our game and persuade more people both here and in the rest of the world that British is best, because we make quality.

So this weekend instead of either moaning about the result or celebrating with Nigel or Boris go out and support a real British business.  Talk to makers, find out what makes them tick, buy or commission something.  Organisers I exhibit with who have events running this weekend include:

Craft in Focus 3 day event at Henley Meadows near Fawley Court starting today, details here http://www.craftexperience.co.uk/

Keep it Local Craft Shows on Sunday 26th June at The Llama Park in Sussex, details here https://www.facebook.com/KeepitLocalCraftShows/?fref=ts

Find a shop that stocks handmade products.  Here are three I know:

The Gift Boutique in Petersfield, Hampshire, details here https://www.facebook.com/thegiftboutiquepetersfield/?fref=ts

Little Thatch Florist (gifts too) in South Petherton, Somerset, details here https://www.facebook.com/LittleThatchFlorist/?fref=ts

Gorgeous Gerties (cafe too) in Dorking, Surrey, details here https://www.facebook.com/GorgeousGerties/?fref=ts

Finally, even if you're not able to spend much remember that you can support many small craft related business by just buying a card.  Take a look at this campaign and you'll see why. http://www.justacard.org/

Well, that's my message.  This weekend I'm finishing some making, visiting Henley and planning more Christmas makes.  Keep smiling!

Lots of love,
Alison

Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LavenderHeartUK
Twitter: @LavenderHeartUK

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

New Beginnings

January and February are often the months wished away - with Christmas festivities over the dark days of winter are sometimes difficult to get through.  This year has been no exception with a stormy start and many sad events hitting the newstands.  So when 1st March arrives it feels the right time for a change - a note of optimism creeps in and we start to look forward to the good things that Spring and the year ahead can bring.

It's perhaps no surprise therefore that the eponymous flower of Spring - the daffodil - traditionally means new beginnings.  With its trumpet like centre it is a true herald of warmer days and cheerfulness to come.

As we round the corner from the station at the end of my road we're greeted by a lovely display of tete a tete daffodils and these inspired my work for this month's flower of the month card.


You may remember from earlier posts that I fell in love with thread crochet two years ago.  By working designs from Caitlin Sainio's excellent books (I have them all!) I have acquired a new skill and in the process found a way to represent real flowers in my work.  I started this month by crocheting 'Daffodil' from her book 100 Lace Flowers to Crochet.  It was just the right size to turn into a brooch for my jacket.

So now to the hard part - to design my own daffodil for this month's card.  Using photos of my neighbour's tete a tetes as a guide I worked a longer trumpet with a frilly edge and surrounded it with six petals - not too big and quite pointy.  I used two different shades of gold and yellow no. 12 thread and a 1.5 mm hook.  This was the result.


Now luckily for me one of my closest friends happens to have her birthday on 1st March so she too was inspirational for this month's card. Having worked three flowers I stitched them on to white linen fabric and embroidered outline leaves to resemble the flowering plant. The completed embroidery was mounted on to a gold pearlescent card.



Even more luckily I discovered from The Daffodil Society's site that whilst a single daffodil means misfortune, lots bring joy and happiness!

Sarah was very happy with her card and once her celebrations are over is going to display it framed.  I've listed this card in my Etsy shop if you would like me to make one for you. https://www.etsy.com/listing/270492661







Yesterday brought a very enthusiastic response to the pictures I posted on Facebook of this project so I spent the evening working some other named daffodils.  Here are my takes on Pheasant Eye, Pink Charm and Pueblo.

Here at Lavender Heart HQ our new beginnings involve revamping the website www.lavender-heart.co.uk and exhibiting at my first fair for over a year.  I'm joining some other handmade crafters at the Gingham Goose craft market in Hayes, Kent on 12th March.  There's a fantastic tea room serving delicious cake and refreshments and entry is free.  Here's the link to their Facebook page for more information on this and their other events https://www.facebook.com/ginghamgoose/.

Till next time.
Lots of love
Alison xx

Keep in touch
Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LavenderHeartUK
Twitter: @LavenderHeartUK





Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Scraps!

I am one of those people who can't resist the things that other people pass over.  When my friend's cat had kittens I wanted the one nobody else liked, the straggly plants left on the shelf I'll take home and nurture - I'm just drawn to the unloved, the waifs and strays.  And so it is with fabric.  I just love scraps, odd shapes, tiny pieces!  The bits that were left, too small to be sold, the remnants, the bolt ends, charm packs - I love them all.

Last year I bought a lovely bag of Liberty scraps from Very Berry Fabrics.  The smallest pieces made some very pretty Liberty heart greeting cards.

Slightly larger ones were great for my umbrella design.

But there were still lots left over - here's a very small sample of these and other fabrics too :)

So I thought I'd see just what I could cut out to use as appliques for my GoodEnoughToFrame greeting cards.  This is the little rectangle from the picture above - one flower and two tulips.

I put the remainder in the 'scrap the scraps' box.  But then again - there was a piece left - too tiny for tulips but ...  maybe super tiny circles could be saved!

Flower centres maybe?








The next piece had been a square I'd used for a flower applique.

Amazingly what was left yielded no less than eight tulips.  This is what I made with three of them.

And so it goes on.  The only problem I've found is that the process starts all over again when you cut out the next items:

gingham cats ...












give way to gingham scraps ...















But planes ...
 fly to the stars!

What do you do with your scraps?

Until next time,

Lots of love
Alison

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Flower of the month - January

For 2016 I've decided to produce a new range of flower of the month greetings cards. Each card will be handmade with handstitched flowers presented on a fabric background. They will be available to buy in my Etsy shop https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/LavenderHeartUK.

January's flower is the carnation, cultivated for thousands of years and available now commercially in a huge variety of colours.


I love their petals with frilly edges!  This is my crochet version stitched onto a linen and cotton fabric and surrounded by a border of embroidery.  The little flowers in the corners represent the buds.

.

Over the years the different solid colours of carnation have come to have associated meanings, although (with one notable exception) these are generally positive and associated with love and beauty.  On her wedding day in 1952 my mum carried a large arrangement of red carnations, appropriate as a symbol of love and affection.



Pink carnations symbolise the love of a mother and have become the perfect floral gift for Mother's Day.



I am personally always drawn to the variegated or striped carnations (and yarn and thread!).  These can mean a refusal or 'I cannot be with you'.  It was the colour chosen by a friend of mine for her mum's January birthday card - most appropriately as she was going to be far away on the day.



For my home I also frequently choose lavender or purple coloured flowers.  In  carnation terms this means capriciousnes or impulsiveness (maybe less of the first and definitely quite a lot of the second in my case) but can be given by way of an apology or to patch up a friendship.













As with many flower varieties white symbolises innocence or pure love and can be given as a good luck offering.










Finally, one not often seen is green.  It seems that Oscar Wilde chose this as a buttonhole for the opening of his play Lady Windermere's Fan and asked that his guests wore the same.  There was no apparent meaning.  Maybe his choice should have been the purple for capriciousness! This is my interpretation.








Having looked at several websites it seems that yellow must be chosen rather carefully - sadly it is associated with rejection, disappointment and even disdain  I've decided that I will not be making carnations in that colour except in the variegated version.








If you would like a carnation card for a January birthday (or at any other time) just drop me an email at alison@lavender-heart.co.uk with a note of which colour you would like and I'll be happy to make it for you.

Next month: Violets and primroses

Lots of love
Alison x

Friday, 1 January 2016

Twenty Sixteen Goals

Here are my goals for 2016!



Thread my needle more often
Use Wisley Gardens as inspiration
GingiE 2016
New Venues
Work with BriTish Crafters
Knit with hand dYed yarn

Make more Scarves
Increase online sales
EXhibit again
BusT that stash
Do a websitE makeover
Love my Etsy shop
Celebrate on November 12th

 Happy New Year!