Friday 22 July 2011

Blanket Love

Thank you so much for all your fabulous comments on the last post, about my Rainbow Ripple Blanket Ta~Daaah!  I was blown away with them, and I'm delighted you all like it so much.  I've now started work on the New Blanket, and I'm absolooooodely in love with those little squares that are appearing, somewhat rapidly each evening.
The extra balls of yarn that I ordered online arrived and I have to pass on Big Thank You's to those of you who have been recommending Stylecraft; excellent choice it turns out as I'd ordered three balls from their 'Special DK' range and I'm really pleased with it - plus it's cheaper than the King Cole stuff.  Anyways, I think the three bolder colours pull those sweetie jar colours together beautifully ~ I ordered Shrimp, Saffron and Grape and now I am beyond excited about this blanket, can't get enough of it...

Here are the new colours, nestling in my yarn bag - can you spot them?

Much better don't you think?
So, the last few evenings have seen me getting very busy with these little squares which are amazingly easy, and surprisingly therapeutic to make.  But oh my word, just look at all those ends...

I've took a tip from Vanessa at Coco Rose Diaries who also made this blanket, and who waited until the end to sew all the ends in.  I have to agree with her, if I did the ends each time I finished a square this blanket just wouldn't happen.  I'm going to have to dedicate some serious time to doing it all when the squares are finished, but I don't want to think about that part of it yet (I really don't like the yucky sewing in of ends).  So, here's how it's coming on so far, I do enjoy laying out the little squares in rows to get a feel for how it's going to look:

Can you see why I'm so excited?  Those colours just Zing!!  I can already picture it when the squares are crocheted together with that lovely raised edging, it's going to be amazing.  Only several hundred more squares to go, but oh my goodness it's going to be so very worth it, and all the more wonderful because it will so very cheap to make - bonkerdoodles cheap actually in comparison to the luxury yarn I used to make the last one!

Aside from all this hookyness, life has been pootling on here as usual.  I'm working on some sketches at the mo for a rather larger painting than usual.  It's a coastal themed one and I'm looking forward to sharing it's progress with you when I get started on it.  The Circus illustration is still very much a WIP ~ I've come to a point with it where I'm not sure if it's going the way I really want it to go, so am giving it one of my famous cooling off periods and will return to it when I feel more inspired.

One more thing to tell you before I disappear for the weekend - I am now being represented by the fabulous 'From The Wilde Gallery'.  I'm really delighted to have my originals, prints and cards included alongside the work of all the other hugely talented artists and designers.

You can visit the website here - it's well worth a look.

Well I think that's me done for now - once again, thanks for dropping in; it's always lovely of you to do so.  I hope you have a smashing weekend, sending love to you, 

Julia x

Tuesday 19 July 2011

Rainbow Ripple Ta~Daaaaah!!!!

I have to warn you - this post is very much a festival of Ta~Daaahing over my newly completed Rainbow Ripple Blanket.  If you are not in the mood for gratuitous shots of bright coloured yarn, and artfully draped blankets then I suggest you skip this post and come back another time :D  If you are, then sit back and prepare your eyes for a burst of rippling lovely~ness!

You may remember me starting this blanket way back in February 2010.  It has taken a long time to finish it - 18 months to be exact but it finally is finished and I have to confess to being absoloooooodely and completely in love with it.

Just look at those gorgeous rippling sends me into a slight trance looking at it.  In fact, this will be the perfect Dreaming Blanket...imagine one of those days where the need to snuggle up and spontaneously nap occurs...  It fits the bill perfectly.

I used a lovely bunch of colours from the Sirdar Sublime Cashmere Merino DK range.  Needless to say, it was not a cheap blanket to make; and that is also one of the reasons why it took me so long to complete (I had to keep saving up for new yarn supplies).  However, it is beautifully soft, and naturally warm and I know it will become a well loved, well used blanket over the years (which kind of justifies the expense).

The measurements of the blanket are approximately 130cm x 130cm square.  I would tell you how many balls of wool I used, but as it's taken me so long I've kind of lost count.

There were heaps of ends to weave in, which I finished off last night.  There is something very pretty about all the little inchy bits of wool collected together in a bowl.

The pattern, which is fantastically simple to follow, can be found at Attic 24 Blog here.

My sofa is becoming one of my favourite, and most comfortable places to be in the whole house.  It is a feast of colour and soft yarn...I love it.

So what next, you may be asking - of course I'm still working on my Japanese Flower scarf which I started in June and it's coming on nicely in fits and starts.  But it seems I cannot be without a Big Project.  No, there has to be something on the sidelines that I can go back to over time, that may take a while to do but is satisfying in that it's there and can be picked up and put down as the feeling takes me.

A Blanket then.  Another one.

And this time a request from my daughter; 'please can I have a blanket for when I get my new Big Girl's Bed?'

How could I possibly say no to that?  So I dug out the only pattern that I'd been itching to do, from a rather lovely book I treated myself to some time ago:

You can find this quite cheaply on both Amazon, and The Book Depository websites.  There are some gorgeous things to crochet in it, but this is what caught my eye:

See that blanket?  Oh my - heart stoppingly glorious!! I am already With Wool for this...

...these are some of the colours my wee one helped me choose, much lighter than my normal bright palette, but she likes the wool that looks like sweeties.  I'm waiting on three slightly more vibrant shades to be delivered that weren't in stock in my local wool shop and I think that these will stop it looking too wishy washy.

The wool I'm using for this project is a rather cheap acrylic one.  The stuff in the picture is King Cole Big Value DK (a couple of pounds for a 100g ball).  I've worked up a few squares already and whilst it's a pretty soft yarn and will make a perfect blanket for general everyday use (read den making, snuggling, spilling drinks on etc) I'm finding it a teeny tiny bit greasy to work with after a time.  I'm guessing it's because acrylic yarns are oil based, but I'm going to bear with it as it ought to be cheap as anything to make; which in these cash strapped times is a bit of a Good Thing isn't it?

Right - well that's about it!  If you're still reading along after all those hooky yarny pictures, thank you!  I'm so glad that you stopped by today and would like to thank you for taking the time to visit and read.  Also, apologies too because my little trips around Blogland haven't been so frequent just lately due to me having a rather Busy Time of it both work and family wise, but I will endeavour to catch up with you soon and just wanted you to know, I haven't forgotten you.

Sending you love
J x

Thursday 14 July 2011

When I Grow Up I'm Going to Be...

(WIP ~ Circus illustration, as yet untitled) 
I was one of those people who, when asked as a child what they wanted to be when they grew up, had no idea.  Well, what I mean to say is that I knew deep down what I wanted to do, but I never dared to admit it out loud.  I wanted to be an artist, I wanted to draw pictures for books.

I have to admit that I didn't have the courage to follow my heart back then and I wandered aimlessly through my teens without a clue of which career would substitute what I really wanted to do, and one which would please my family.  There was a very strong feeling back then of having to make one single career choice that would span a lifetime.  Somehow inside, I knew that this was not only an impossible decison to make at the age of 16, but also a  ridiculous one.
All of my friends seemed to have Plans.  They knew they wanted to be in Catering, or Beauty Therapy.  They wanted to be Social Workers, Nurses, Engineers and Mechanics and they all enrolled on the appropriate courses whilst I took on three A-levels, two in subjects I didn't even really like.  

And so I began to pretend.  I pretended I wanted to have a career in art history and I applied to Sheffield Polytechnic for a course in the History of Art, Film and Theatre.  I wasn't very excited by it, I just felt that I was pleasing a whole heap of people by doing this.  Needless to say, when my grades weren't high enough to be accepted for the course, I wasn't too disappointed.  

It seemed the next stage was to find some form of employment, and so continuing to ignore my deepest desires, I pretended I wanted to be a receptionist and I went out and got a job being a receptionist.  It didn't fulfill me - and I hated wearing a suit (I'm absolutely not a suit person).  The people who I worked with were great, but the job itself was dull and I turned into one of those people who become an automaton 5 days of the week and only came alive on a friday evening when it was time to go to the pub with my friends.  I would get a tight knot in my belly on Sunday evening too - the party was over for another weekend; it was time to go back to work.
I knew I couldn't go on like that.  I couldn't slumber away week in, week out, counting down the days of this precious life waiting for my retirement where I'd finally have the time to do what I wanted to do.

Following the path of convention and pleasing other people had led me right off track.  I was in my mid thirties before I began to live the life I had always dreamed of living, and it's all happened with a million little baby steps too.  My careers advisor would have had a fit because I had heaps of jobs before I got to this point ~ I was a chambermaid, waitress, shop assistant, tele-sales assistant (that one lasted half a day), payroll officer, sign maker...but they all helped to shape me in some way, and they all helped me identify the things that I didn't want to do in my life.

I wonder how many people in the world gave up on their dreams and desires because they weren't encouraged, they were scared, they didn't know how to begin or they were worried that their folks might not approve?

I wanted to write this post because I sometimes receive emails from people who tell me that they wish they had done with their lives what I am doing with mine; but that they've left it too late, that it's easy for people like me.
I wanted to write that age doesn't have to be an obstruction for following your desires.  Even if you have spent your life doing Something Else, it's not too late and it can be easy for you too, you just have to take the first tiny step and give it a try.

As well as these kind of emails, I've also had some from people who are in their sixties and seventies and have just started taking dancing classes and painting lessons.  I've had one from someone who has been too busy parenting for twenty years to create, and has just done their first drawing again after all that time. 
I absolutely love to hear stories like these, of people taking a chance to rediscover their creative spirit and do what they love.  You can start living the life you've always dreamed of, right now in tiny chunks wherever you are in life.  Just think of one little thing that you could do today that would begin to make this real for you.  I'm not telling you to hand in your notice at work, or turn your life upside down, but I am inviting you infuse a little bit of what you dream of doing into your life now.  What about it?  What are you waiting for?

If you'd like to start, a great place to begin is the Being Creative Project.  It's a group where me and a whole heap of other people share art and support one another during the process.  You can find out more by clicking the link above, and don't forget when you sign up to the mailing list, you receive a free copy of my mini e-book!

I'll be back, hopefully very soon with a bit of a CROCHET REVEAL...not wanting to give the game away too much, I am referring to a BLANKET that looks a bit like this...

Oh the's only needing a couple of rows and it's done!! Oh, and lots of ends to be weaved in, but hey-ho it shall be completely worth it methinks!

I'll see you soon - have a gorgeous, sun~filled weekend!

Much love, and thank you for visiting and reading,

Julia x

Thursday 7 July 2011

How To Charge the Right Price for Your Work

'The Rainbow Painter' watercolour and ink illustration


I wanted to write about how to price your work today; it's one of those subjects that can be quite mind boggling if you're just starting out on your creative selling venture, but also an icky one for those who are already selling their wares and don't feel as if they're getting the right price for their lovely stuff.

Moolah is a funny subject, and most people feel a bit self concious talking about it - luckily I'm not one of those people and I'm happy to share my thoughts and some little bits of wisdom on the subject of selling online with you here.  I have learnt many lessons along the way, and I hope what I'm going to share with you will be useful.

First off, there's a story.

Once upon a time there was an artist who used to paint bright and colourful pictures.  She wasn't confident about selling her work so she would give it away for free.  If someone in her family, or a friend said they liked a painting, she would give it to them and this went on for some time.  However, an emptiness and a slight feeling of annoyance was growing.  The artist knew that alot of effort had gone into her paintings, and she was thrilled that other people liked them, but the balance of the energy exchange was all out of kilter.  

For 100's of years, people have used money as a tool of exchange - in the olden days, people used to trade in 2 piglets for a cow, that kind of thing...but nowadays we tend to use cash.  Whichever way you look at it, it's still an exchange which keeps the balance happy.  What's the balance?  it's this:  You and your customer both receive value from your product ~ you get some well deserved moolah for creating something marvellous, and your customer gets to become the new owner of your marvellous creation.  Balanced energy exchange ~ all happy ~ Hurrah!! 

So anyways, back to the story:  The artist here who had been giving away her work and getting nothing given back in return, was starting to feel pretty lousy...and she realised that in order to feel better, and for the beneficiarys of her pictures to feel better too, then she had to start charging a price for her work.

So how do you work out what the right price is?

This can seem like the hardest thing in the world to work out, but it's actually pretty easy.

First off, you need to work out your costs and come up with a total.   When I say costs, I mean things like materials and sundries such as box canvases, paints, mounts for prints, paper, printing inks, shipping materials, postage costs etc...Time is also a factor that you might want to consider.  Many artists find that they earn below the minimum wage per hour when they divide up the price of their painting by the number of hours it took to create it!  Write everything down in a notebook; you might be surprised by how much you are spending (both materials and time) when you see it all written down in front of you.

Now, you need to figure out your profit.  No point spending all that precious time and energy creating something hot, just to charge the recipient for the materials it's cost you - you're not going to feel too great unless you're earning something for your effort.

If you're still unsure what to charge...

HOT TIP: Have a look online at other artists or craftspeople who's work is of a similar nature and level to your own.  You can easily find these people by visiting Folksy or Etsy.  See what they are charging for their products, find the average and use these prices as a guideline when pricing up your own work.  It doesn't hurt to do a bit of homework and see what the competition is up to.

Next question you want to ask yourself is: "Does this price feel right to me?"

Does it make you feel good?  Does it feel uncomfortable, like it's a bit too much?  Does it feel like it's not enough?  Only you can be the judge of this; only you know what went into the item you're pricing, so listen to your gut on this one.
The right price will feel good, and that you're getting what the product is truly worth to you.  When you get that feeling, that's your price - but feel free to tweak it accordingly.  

I often revisit my own gallery pages and investigate the online marketplaces to compare how my stuff sits in relation to others.  I don't want to price myself out of the market by charging too much, and I don't want to underprice myself just for the sake of saying I got a sale (a sale under those circumstances is a bitter sweet affair I can tell you!).  Whilst in Cornwall recently I made a point of noticing what galleries were charging for prints and originals - the recession is showing and generally the prices of original art is down a tad and I like to make a habit of keeping an eye on the market.  I sometimes have to change my prices if the cost of my materials, or shipping goes up.  It all has to be reflective or I'm making a loss and that tips the Balance into the negative for me.

I hope that this post has been of help to some of you who have been struggling with making the first steps at selling your work - listen to your instinct and don't be afraid to ask for what you're worth.

Big love
Julia x

BIG PS:  Thank you SO MUCH for all your gorgeous and kind comments about the magazine feature, it made my day to discover and read them all!  Have a happy weekend, see you soon.

Tuesday 5 July 2011

Handmade Living

Hello to you all!

I must confess to writing this post with more than a little excitement.  I have been featured in the gorgeous Handmade Living magazine - yes, little old me!!  Oh my goodness!!

I knew that there was going to be a little mention in the August edition, but the poor people in the magazine aisle of the supermarket didn't, and I think (according to my other half) I squealed rather loudly upon discovering The Page:

There's my painting!! Woo~hooo! :D

It was a really lovely surprise to see that, and a really lovely write up too.  Also mentioned were my friend, designer Kirsty Elson, (you can just see pics behind my flash of her fab driftwood cottages there), and Nina who blogs about coastal living, over at Tabiboo.  If you haven't had the chance to get your hands on this magazine yet, it's well worth it - there are some excellent projects of things to make and do.  But don't let me spoil it - go out and grab yourself a copy!!

Oh ~ and if you like the artwork that was featured, you can bring a little piece of the coast into your home with your own seaside inspired print ~ signed, titled and gift wrapped...and you can get it here!

So, a couple of posts ago I promised you some crochet news; such as updates on the Japanese Flower scarf...

...which is almost (but not quite) finished!  In fact, I'm wondering if to keep on adding and make a triangle style shawl, or just stop at 3 rows and have a long, wrappy type affair instead.  I think the wool stash will have a major role in this decision as I don't want to be spending too much on lots of new yarn (as yummy as it is) so I guess it will stop when the wool runs out!

This is a rather short-ish post today, as I have much to do and so will be back again soon with some more art to share with you, and hopefully some WIP photos of the crochet shawl/wrap.

Thanks for dropping by today, and one more thing before I go - thank you very much to everyone who took advantage of the One Day Art Sale - I do hope your pictures have arrived with you safely, and that you're happy with them!

Right, I'm off - really!
Love to you
J x

Friday 1 July 2011

Being Creative Project: New Mailing List and FREE Creativity E-Book!


I've just popped in to tell you about the brand new Being Creative Project E-Newsletter that you can now sign up for.

The group is slowly growing as new people subscribe on the blog, and sign up to the Flickr Group.  I felt it was time to introduce an email newsletter to keep the group focus going, and to provide a better way of connecting with participants regarding gallery days and other relative stuff.  I've also had feedback through the blog and by email from participants who think this would be a good thing to have too.

About the newsletter...

If you sign up, you will receive at least one monthly newsletter which will let you know about Gallery Day (when you get the chance to share links on my blog to images of your work on the web) as well as relevant tips, stories, support and advice.
There is also a FREE Creativity E-Book for you to download, to help get you started on your creative journey!

I love the emails that I've had from participants, that have said how the group has provided a safe place to start creating again ~ some people who have taken part haven't done anything in years and it has been a catalyst for them starting again ~ others have used it as a platform to try new mediums to create work for the monthly themes.  I love that the group is expanding and helping people make creativity a part of their lives.

If you want to sign up, you can do so by clicking on the Being Creative tab at the top of the page here, and scrolling down to the sign up form on the page.
Just fill in your details, it's free and it's easy and you will receive an email with a download to your free Creativity E-Book!


The gallery is open for you to share links for June's theme of OCEAN.  You can find it here, or by clicking on the link in the sidebar.

If you are not a part of the group already, are new here and would like to find out how to start taking part, then click here to read all about it.  You are very welcome to sign up and join in the monthly projects, and all ages and abilities are invited.

Thanks to all who have signed up so far, and taken part.  Don't forget to share this with family or friends you think might like to hear about it!  

With love, have a great weekend!
Julia x 
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