Thursday 27 October 2011

Red Shoes

There comes a point in your life when you have to indulge in a deep longing; we all have them, our own deep rooted longings and mine happened to be Red Shoes.
I can recall when my fascination with red shoes began too, it was many moons ago when I was a child and saw the famous film 'The Red Shoes' where the beautiful Moira Shearer danced her socks off in a pair of the most captivating red ballet slippers I'd ever clapped eyes on.

Now 38 years young, I decided it was high time to indulge one of my lifelong whims; no, I'd never be Moira Shearer but I could and would find a pair of bright cherry red shoes which would delight and excite that little inner ballerina of mine.

And I did.

I cannot begin to describe the joy as I opened the box - I happened upon something of a bargain too as this pair cost far less that it should have!

And of course, you can't wear red shoes with boring old socks, no that would never do!  Stripes are the order of the day, and each time I glance down at my feet I feel absolutely ditzy with glee!! Red Shoes and Stripes!!!! Hurrah for indulgence!!

*A little note on indulgence, in case you think it's completely frivolous and unnecessary:  I'm reading the fabulous Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, who observes that the days are long but life is short.  How right she is too!  I've really begun to think about how I spend my time and live my life - how to inject more Happy Moments into it and live as fully as I can in every moment - it's proving to be an interesting project. 

I'm not really a person for blowing huge amounts of moolah on clothing or footwear; to be honest if I ever go shopping for myself it's usually clothes of the smaller size that end up coming home with me for my daughter!  Reading her book gave me a bit of a permission slip to do something for me - and it's quite difficult to be honest, when you're used to mostly doing stuff for everyone else.

Talking of doing stuff, I've decided to tackle the over-cluttered chaos that is my house.  Gretchen's book also covers an inspiring section on de-cluttering and oh my, if anywhere needs it, it's my house!  My bedroom, which by rights ought to be a sanctuary of relaxation and tranquil surroundings is currently more akin to a charity shop, piled up with old baby toys, books and clothing.  It has become a veritable dumping ground for Things That Don't Have a Home or are no longer useful or useable.  Going to bed in this chaos has long been a bit of a nightmare, and I've put off tackling it due to the sheer enormity of the task.  This is just one corner:

I was also more than delighted to stumble upon this post by dear Lucy over at Attic 24, and this one here at Domesticali.  Heartily inspired, I ordered the book Ali wrote about and got busy reading.
Things now seem achievable, and I'm actually feeling pretty positive about getting stuck in.  I've already made a start, and have three large bags to give away to charity shops from Just ONE CORNER (not that one above either, another one!)  It sounds horrendous, it is - was, but I'm getting there, in just 15 minutes a day which is mightily do-able in my scheme of things!

I will share a picture of this corner when I've tackled it - rather than seeing it as a nasty chore, I'm trying to adopt the attitude of Home Loving instead and it does seem to slightly increase the feeling of wanting to keep it nice rather than not.

Right, that's me for now - I have a date with my wee girl to go and find a big pumpkin this afternoon, so we shall venture out into the grey gold wet day that has descended upon our corner of South Yorkshire and go hunting for a good one.

Sending you love, 
Julia x x x

**Edited to add - the shoes I got are these ones by a company called El Naturalista :)

Wednesday 19 October 2011

'Mug Hug' - Making Handmade Gifts

I have recently become rather involved in Little Handmade Projects of the gifty variety.  I like handmade.  I love that you can pootle about on the internet and find all manner of inspiration and ideas.  I love that there is such a wealth of good craft books these days, such as this one and this one.  I like finding time to make something special for someone special, someone who I know will appreciate the effort and love that goes into handmade.

I also like the recycling element of it.  Using up scraps of old fabric from tiny toddler dresses and tops that don't fit anymore; finding age old threads and buttons to make pretty things with.  But I also like trips to craft shops to buy the necessary ingredients to make things with too; embroidery floss, pretty textiles, new yarn, unusual buttons...

So, you get the idea that I'm all for handmade making and giving, and with a family birthday looming it was with some excitement that I finally got to make something I'd had my eye on for a while in this book here:

Some of you will be more than familiar with Nikki Trench's book, Cute and Easy Crochet.  I have already started to make that pretty squares blanket, but these little Mug Cosies have been calling me for many moons.

It being Mum's birthday, it seemed like a good idea to make her one of these.  She likes tea, she likes handmade and so I felt I was off to a good start.  What's not to like eh?!!  I'd also seen something in the current edition of Mollie Makes magazine that caught my eye; an advertisement for their next issue featuring this:

Ooooh yes - me likey that!! A little teabag type thingy on the side of the Mug Cosy.  So I thought I would improvise and make my own.  
On looking at the picture and pattern in Nikki's book, I noticed that the cups they had used were straight sided, whereas mine were curved.  I knew I'd have to decrease or add stitches a bit in order for the Mug Cosy to fit nicely, so I ended up making up my own pattern and working from the top down in double crochet and single crochet, with slip stitches in cream to finish.  Would you like to see how it turned out?

I'm really quite happy with it, considering I didn't use the book pattern at all, and it ended up being an Adventure in Crochet as I fumbled my way along and hoped for the best!

To finish off the Mug Cosy (which from this point on I'm calling Mug Hug because it sounds so very warm and huggy which is exactly what it is meant to be and also because it's my own slap-dash pattern and therefore methinks it's ok to re-name it!), I found a little wooden flower button at the very bottom of my button tin!  What luck!  It finished off just nicely!

Next, I found a little piece of creamy muslin and embroidered the message "I 'heart' tea" on it.  I hand sewed the edges and then used daisy stitch to make the teabag string which I just ran up the side of the Mug Hug.

The wool I used for this was one of those bargain buys too - a ball of Sublime cashmerino aran (I used a number 4 hook as opposed to a 5 too, for a tighter finish).  It only cost £1.99 and the cup cost £3.00 from Sainsburys so I reckon that's a bit of a bargain, don't you?!

Anyway, one more bit of hooky news before I go.  You may remember a week or so ago I told you I wanted to give that teeny tiny crochet a crack, the one where you use a really tiny hook, a 1 point something or other and fine crochet thread...well let me tell you I've made a start, I've had a go and boy oh boy do I admire the folks that make ridunculously big scarves using this method.  I have made several circles, it took me forever:

Although I do like them.  Very Much Indeed - and I am thinking that rather than die of overwhelm thinking about making a scarf (thing of dreams at this point in time) I shall perhaps tackle a colourful doily to stand a nice plant on or something.  It's the kind of crochet I've got to be in the mood for, and I've got to have natural daylight to be able to see it well enough as those wee stitches are very tricksy.  So I won't be abandoning my rainbow bliss scarf just yet...oh no, infact I'm hoping that's going to be my next completed project - the chilly weather has prompted me to dig it out and get it finished!

Right - I've a Special Birthday Meal to prepare, so I'm away to the kitchen to be busy!  

See you again soon, thanks for visiting today!

Much love
Julia x x x

Monday 17 October 2011

Annnnnd.....The Winner Is...


Thank you very much to all of you who took part in my Christmas Card giveaway. I was really overwhelmed by your response, and would like to say thanks for taking the time to write such lovely things - and for helping me reach my FB target of 1000 in super quick time, I didn't expect that at all!!

Anyway, without further delay - onto the important bit!  Using the online Random Number Generator, I am pleased to tell you that the winner of the giveaway is....

...number 66, which is Made By Lolly!!!  If you would like to get in touch with your address details, which you can do by filling in the Contact Form here, I will be able to send you your prize which is a special set of five of my newest Christmas Cards; 'Christmas Kiss' - each card is hand titled and signed, and they are all wrapped in some brightly festive red paper ribbon and finished off with a tag (as you can see on the photograph at the top of the post)!

There's also another Special Little Something which will be included in the package of the edible variety.  I do so hope you will be pleased with your prize!

I wish I could have sent all of you some goodies, I really do - but thanks again to all who took part!  I'll be back again a bit later this week, with some hooky updates! 

Sending heaps of love, Julia x x x

** ps: for those of you who have spotted that there were 82 comments, and only 81 entered in the RNG, one of the comments had been deleted so wasn't counted. x

Tuesday 11 October 2011

Giveaway Time!!

'Christmas Kiss'

Hello to you!

I know, I's only October but I couldn't wait to share my newly completed Christmas Card design with you all.  Please feel free to leave now if you can't bear All Things Christmas this early (I totally understand)...or prepare to hang about and read on if you'd like to hear about a little giveaway I'm proposing!!

I thought it would be fun to celebrate getting 1000 likers on my Facebook Page - and I'm almost there, currently at 960 as I write this.  It never ceases to amaze me that people are both curious and supportive about what I do, and I thought it would be a nice gesture to have a little giveaway to say Thank You for that.
One of the reasons I'm hosting the giveaway here is that it also gives me an opportunity to thank all of you lovely souls who come via my blog to visit and keep in touch with me.  It's wonderful that you take the time to read and leave your comments, and if you're a silent visitor who reads and leaves quietly, I value you just as much as the ones who comment.  I want to say 'Thank You' because through FB and Blogging I have got to know some great people.  I know that online friendships are a bit Woo-Woo to some, but the fact I may not have met you in 'real life' doesn't matter ~ your presence on the internet is a fabulous thing and my life is brighter because of it.  

So how to take part!  

All you have to do is hop over to FB (find the link in the right side bar there) and 'Like' my art page - the quicker the number goes up, the quicker we'll have a winner!  Feel free to share about my giveaway on your blogs and FB pages too, as the more who take part the merrier.  TO BE INCLUDED IN THE DRAW (that's the super important bit) you need to leave me a comment below this post!

So what's in the giveaway?

Right, well that's the special bit.  As yet unreleased (I'm currently working on building my Sparkly Christmas Emporium for you), I will be gifting a pack of my brand new Christmas Cards 'Christmas Kiss' to the winner (as shown above), along with a secret treat that I know you will enjoy.

The cards are all created by hand here in my little riverside house.  They're printed using fine, light-fast inks onto archival matte art card, which is in turn mounted onto a white greetings card.  Each card will be hand titled and signed, and the pack wrapped in a cheerful red raffia ribbon with a tag.  It's a lovely gift to win and I hope you'll join in the fun and take part.

Sending you oodles of gratitude and love ~ good luck!
Julia x x x  

Thursday 6 October 2011

Tiny Crochet Inspiration


I've decided that I am rapturously in love with tiny crochet.  Have you ever seen it?  It all began a few months ago when I also fell in deep throes of love with a little website that is known as Pinterest...oh my goodness, this place is the stuff of serious addiction, and it was on here that I got a glimpse of something that knocked my socks off, made me almost collapse with desire; that gave me a serious dose of the Wanties....and then a serious dose of the I Can Make It Myself's.

Pinterest, for those of you who are not yet familiar with it, is a place of many beautiful, virtual pin boards.  You can take pictures off the internet to create your own pinboards, or repin other peoples pins from their Pinterest boards.  If you decide to venture into this world of gorgeous, desirable things, then prepare to lose several hours of your life to it.  You will be hooked!

This is a link to my can see how much fun I've been having can't you!

Anyway, I digress...I was talking about Tiny Crochet.  And after being inspired by this here, and this here I got myself a teeny tiny crochet hook, and some very fine thread.

I confess to it being very tricksy to do, after spending most of my Crocheting Years using much bigger hooks and much thicker wool.  But I'm not giving up!
The downside of teeny hooks and teeny crochet thread is that it will obviously take a lot longer to make anything wearable than it would using DK yarn.  But...on the other hand the fragile, web like nature of the finished item is so utterly desirable then I figure it's worth the time and the effort.

So.  Another WIP begins.  Slowly.  Gradually.  


Seedheads & Boats is now available as an open edition signed and titled print!  You can find it in my gallery shop, just click here to go directly to the page and scroll down to the bottom of the page.

I have also just launched a special offer on my fine art cards; you can now buy 5 of your favourites for £10.00, saving £2.50 when buying individually.  You can click here to see this offer.

On the painting front I'm cracking on with my Christmas card design, but struggling to be Christmassy at this time of year.  It all seems so early (and I'm sure most of you will agree that it is) but at the same time it's necessary.  So snow and reindeer it is then!  Perhaps it will come together once I get my mitts on Michael Buble's new Christmas CD -  yes, I'm certain that will help as I'm rather partial to that twinkly eyed chap and his dreamy voice!

But back to Autumn...

...The nights are really drawing in fast now.  I am lighting little lanterns and tea lights of an evening.  I quite like this time of year, when we naturally retreat indoors; I love the wild weather when I can snuggle down and work on my Christmas Gifts ~ did I tell you how much I'm enjoying making my little hand embroidered lavender pillows?  You may remember this one, I shared it a few posts back:

I'm just about done with my second one too, which has a blue and white Cornish ware jug on it full of daisies.  It's such a gentle and relaxing pass time and I think I like it as much as I like my crocheting.  I look forward to the darker evenings when the little one is in bed, when I can get on with my Projects...and by the way, this project is almost done too!

I've really enjoyed working with that beautiful Andes yarn.  I'm going to have a bit left over too, and I'm wondering if it will stretch to make a pair of arm warmers...oh my word, I think I need to put the brakes on a bit with all these ideas and WIP's I've got on the go!!  Anyway, that's about it from me today - I send you mugs of spiced hot chocolate, golden forest walks, warm candle light and lots of love.  Thanks for visiting today,

Julia x x x

Saturday 1 October 2011

Being Creative Gallery ~ September

Hello to you!

September seems to have whizzed by very fast, and I can hardly believe that it's the 1st of October already!  I imagined that when I wrote up this gallery page about our Autumn theme, I would be looking out my window at stormy grey skies, and frisky breezes whipping up carpets of fallen leaves into spirals of colour.  But today, as I write this the temperature is creeping up towards the 80's, the sky is pure azure blue and there is a magnificent yellow sun cracking the pavements.  Butterflies are wafting about the garden lazily, and we are wearing our t-shirts and coolest clothes.  Autumnal it is absolutely not but there we go, that's the Great British weather for you!

I decided I would add my most recent painting to the Flickr Group this month. After all, it was painted with this time of year in mind and represented a coastal Autumn to me.  I've also noticed some new offerings in the group pool which I haven't had a chance to comment on yet (but I'll make time to visit and have a good old nosey as soon as I get the chance) and there looks to be some really interesting offerings this month.  
I continually love how creativity is expressed in so many different ways - the members of the group who share their work surprise me each month with the variety and ingenuity of their creations.

So!!  The theme for September was Autumn.

For those of you who would like to share your work via your blog/Flickr or other photo hosting webpage, you are very welcome to add your link to the widget at the bottom of this post (please just link to the page your work features on).  Don't forget to use the whole caboodle of http://www...etc or else the link won't work.

Anyone who has already posted in the Flickr Group are also encouraged to share your images in the gallery here too.  Please don't be shy about sharing...encouragement and support is the key to growing in confidence with your creativity, and although it can feel a little scary, I think you will feel a huge sense of achievement when you share your work and get feedback from the other participants or blog readers here.

You will be able to add your 'Autumn' themed work to the gallery here until the end of October.  There is also a list in the sidebar so that the gallery pages are easier for you to find.

For those of you who are working on the project and don't have the facility to share pictures of your work, then you are welcome to add your thoughts about your creative journey so far in the comments section at the bottom of this post.
I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts on taking part in the Being Creative Project, so please do share or feel free to email me privately.
The theme for October is: Fire

You can post your work freely in the Flickr group as and when you like; don't forget to make use of the Discussion facility if you have any questions, or require some support :)

I'm really looking forward to seeing what you've done this month - thank you so much for aking the time to share your colourful and glorious creations! 

Much love
Julia x x x

(edited: oops, seems I got ahead of myself on the calendar! We're in October, not November as I previously wrote, but the theme is still Fire - apologies for the confusion) x

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