Thursday, 31 December 2009

Scarves in the snow

I braved the cold and snowy weather in the garden today to take some photos of my latest scarves.

I do like having the cat as a model, but he's a little on the short side; so in my endeavour to keep the scarves off the snow he ended up looking a little like a turkey trussed up at Christmas!

I'll be posting the scarves on my Folksy shop over the next couple of days, so please keep a look out for them.

And as this is the last post of 2009, I wish you all a very happy New Year! I hope 2010 brings health and happiness to you and to those you love.

Sharon x

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Monday, 28 December 2009

Look out Sydney - here she comes!

Just a quick blog today to wish my eldest niece, Louise, good luck in her new home - new job - new life in Australia!

Lots of friends, family and neighbours turned up to the house on Boxing Day for Louise's leaving do, and we all had a great night; and then her friends took her clubbing later on to give her a really good send off!

Good luck sweetie - I'm sure you'll settle into Oz life really quickly!

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Christmas is over for another year

Well, after weeks of making and saving and buying and decorating, that's Christmas over with for another year.

I hope you all had a lovely day - we did! Lots of yummy food, gorgeous presents, one or two drinks, and some good laughs...

It's been a busy few weeks so I'm really going to enjoy being off work this next week. I hope to get lots of crafting done in between the socialising and eating of chocolates; I've got lots of new ideas and can't wait to get started on them. I'm also hoping that I'll have a stall at the Grainger Market Art & Craft Fair each month, so it will be interesting making items for all seasons. And that means that I'll be making things all year round in 2010, so I should be better organised for Christmas next year! I also hope to find more time to blog, now that the Christmas rush of making items for my craft stall, Folksy shop, commissions and presents is over. Well, that's the New Year's resolutions sorted - see, I'm getting organised already!

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Monday, 14 December 2009

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree

I LOVE CHRISTMAS! I love giving family and friends nice gifts that they adore; I love the foodie treats that you're expected to splurge on at this time of year; I  love the sparkle and the glitter and the pretty lights; I love having time off work to do what I want; I love the fact that people are in a better mood (save for battling in the highstreet shops!); I love cold and frosty days when you can wrap up cosy and warm and take a nice walk; and I especially love decorating the house in all its festive finery.

Our Christmas tree is covered in completely handmade decorations and it's great bringing them out each year, remembering past craft passions of mine. 16 years ago, on our first Christmas as a married couple, hubby and I bought a huge real tree for the living room. We didn't have much furniture at that time and this tree was so big it very nearly filled the whole room! So instead of buying loads of decorations that we couldn't really afford, I decided to be crafty and make my own - and every year I add a few more to the collection.

Last weekend I took a break from making items for the fairs and my Folksy shop to put up our Christmas tree. Nowadays we just have an artificial tree, but it's a good shape and nice and bushy. So this is what we start with...

...and then I add a few twinkling lights...

...and quite a few decorations. As I said before they're all handmade, but not all were made by myself: there's a knitted snowman and santa from my mam, a couple of cross stitch stockings from my sister, a knotwork wreath that my dad made, and one or two pieces that I've bought at craft fairs over the years.

And this is the final tree - front...

...and back. I think the tree looks really beautiful and interesting.

Over the years I've played around with patchwork, applique, beading, embroidery, knitting, crochet, etc, etc. so there is a real variety of decorations on the tree. Visitors to our house spend ages looking at the tree and it's lovely to hear their comments about the individual ornaments.

This year I also have the lovely addition of the Folksy Decoration Swap which I received from Midsummer Stitches. Doesn't she look sweet?

I hope you like my tree as much as we do, and I'd love to hear your comments - What do you love about Christmas? What ornaments do you put on your tree? Do you go for the traditional red and green or more contemporary colours?

I've still got the skinny tree in the dining room to decorate, the door wreaths, fireplace garland and table decorations to make, but that will have to wait til next weekend. I'll post some more photos when it's all done!

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Saturday, 5 December 2009

Model customer #5 - mitts for the wee creature maker!

Drum roll for my latest 'model customer' please... dadadadadadadahhhhh... Kirsten from Leeds. Woo hoo!

Kirsten is modelling my 'Haze fingerless mitts' at her stall at the cold and wet Castle Howard Craft Fair held last Sunday. Kirsten is the talented lady behind Quernus Crafts - another seller on Folksy, who makes great wee creatures from sweet little robins to shaggy highland cows to character cats. You can check out her latest cute creations on her blog here.

Kirsten thought that the mitts were 'beautifully made' and kept her 'cosy and warm'. However they actually received their debut at the German Christmas Market in Leeds the day before when Kirsten said that 'they were brilliant for keeping my hands warm AND letting me eat lovely fried potatoes and garlic mushrooms!' What more could you want from a pair of mitts?!

Thanks for the lovely comments Kirsten and I hope that the mitts continue to keep you cosy (and well fed!) through the rest of this cold weather.

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Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Secret Santa and Decoration Swap

Way back in June noodleBubble started a thread on Folksy to see if anyone was interested in doing a Christmas Decoration Swap, and loads of us said, 'Oooh, yes please - we love Christmas!'. And so a few weeks ago I started to think of ideas, and this is what I came up with.

A recent discussion on Folksy was about the colours that we decorate our homes at Christmas time and my receipient, Midsummer Stitches, mentioned that she (and her daughters) loved pink; so a pink decoration was born! I thought that pink and black would look quite nice together, and added some hand embroidery, shiny beads and sequins, and finished it off with a snowflake charm. I think it looks quite pretty, and the sequins will really sparkle in the glow from the tree fairy lights. Julia (aka Midsummer Stitches) thought it was 'lovely' too.

In October Cosmic Eden raised the idea of a Secret Santa and, again, lots of lovely Folksy people were interested. The idea was to send a handmade gift that had either been made by yourself, or had been bought from a fellow Folksy seller. I made these stripy fingerless mitts for Chiyo, with added buttons for a bit more interest.

Becky (aka Chiyo) was a litle bit naughty and opened her present from 'Secret Santa' early! You can read her blog here. The cold weather has certainly arrived in the last few days so at least she's been able to make use of them straight away. Becky sent me a lovely email saying that she thought the mitts were 'gorgeous' and that she'd had lots of nice comments as she wore them over the weekend. I was a bit worried about sending them because hubby said 'Aston Villa' straight away when I showed them to him - I just thought that the colours looked nice together! Luckily (and quite spookily) Becky's boyfriend IS a big Villa fan so he loves the mitts too!

And this is the Decoration Swap that I received in the post from Midsummer Stitches this week. A beautifully packaged little fairy.

There's so much detail - from her clothes to the gift she's bearing. Isn't she sweet? I think she'll look very pretty hanging on the Christmas tree (going up on Friday - can't wait!!).

Like Becky/Chiyo, I couldn't wait to open my Secret Santa gift either, and I was really pleased that I had. This gorgeous yarn from Kirsty at Wharfedale Woolworks will knit up beautifully into a scarf that will go perfectly with my new teal winter coat.

Folksy is a friendly community of like-minded people who love crafts and really value the skill and creativity that goes into handmade items. I've really enjoyed taking part in these two events and would jump at the chance of doing so again. It's lovely to receive original handmade items in the post from special people - but it's even nicer to know that they love what you made them!

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Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Introducing the newest family member

I've been busy again these past few days. Amongst other things, finishing off this sweet little cardi for my new great niece.

The design was in Knitting magazine (issue 63 pullout). There's a cute beret and shoes to go with the cardi but I didn't get time to do these with making stuff for the craft fairs. I'll maybe make the set in a larger size for when she's a bit older. Deja Mae was born three weeks ago and as I found out at the weekend this cardi may just about fit her now as she's so big!

My mam, sister, her hubby and I spent the weekend in Aberdeen visiting my brother and his family - and getting lots of cuddles off the new baby. This photo was taken in Ellon where they live, via the camera timer delay and a strategically placed picnic bench!

Here's the proud parents and baby Deja.

And this is me having a lovely cuddle.

And here's the four generations of the family.

We had a great weekend catching up with the family gossip and meeting the newest member!

But now it's back to the crafting - I signed up for a couple of events on Folksy a while ago and now their time has come - a 'Secret Santa' and a 'Christmas Tree Decoration Swap' (I'll post photos when I get them done); plus I've got a couple of commissions to do; a Christmas present to make; and then there's new items for the final craft fairs of the year to do (Grainger Market, Newcastle - 12th and 19th December). I guess I'd better go and do some now...

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Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Support Cancer Research on Folksy

Is your Christmas shopping well under way? Still got a few pressies to buy? Why not have a look at the Cancer Research shop on Folksy - buy a great handmade gift AND support a wonderful charity. ALL of the money goes to Cancer Research not just a teensy percentage.

I've donated this sweet floral teddy bear that I made a while ago (in a break from the knitting!). She's made from hand dyed cotton with lots of pretty embroidered flowers and beads to make her look pretty.

But there are all sorts of things to buy, like these:

Guardian Angel Sign from Helen Jane's Designs

White Christmas Drop Earrings by See the Woods Designs

Four Squidgy Chocolate Cupcakes by Treaclezoo

Thyme Earrings by Christine Walsh

Heart Hot Water Bottle by NickyP

Louis the Wonky Donkey by Sara Carr

For more information on the above items please have a look at the Cancer Research shop on Folksy and see what other wonderful goodies you can buy too.

I've also got a permanent link to the Cancer Research UK website at the top right of my blog, where you can make a donation, buy from their catalogue, or find out more about the charity.

Please support this very worthy charity if you can. Many of these lovely Folksy people have been touched by cancer and they have donated their items for sale in honour of someone they loved. As I have: my wonderful Dad passed away five years ago after a long battle with cancer, and we have lost good friends of ours too.

One in three of us will be affected by cancer in our lifetime. We need to find a cure. Please help if you can.

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Sunday, 15 November 2009

Victor Meldrew is alive and well

Hubby and I had a lovely day yesterday at the Grainger Market Art & Craft Fair. The fair is held on the second Saturday of each month and this was our second visit their as stallholders. We sold lots of lovely items (it was much better than last week's fair!) - decorative scarves, woolly scarves, Christmas decorations, brooches and corsages - nothing was a 'big seller' so I guess people like to have the choice of different things on a stall.

The stallholders are moved around each month so it's a chance to meet and chat to new people as you're waiting for customers to stop and peruse your wares. We met some lovely people - both stallholders and customers, and people who just came to have a look and a chat. It's great to hear what 'the general public' think of your stall, and about the fair in general. We spoke to few visitors who were in Newcastle for the weekend and they all thought the fair was a great place to buy their Christmas gifts; they really seemed to enjoy the chance to buy handmade items rather than the usual mass-produced shop bought goods.

As well as all the nice comments, we did have a few raised eyebrows or rude comments from peole who obviously think stallholders are deaf. "£24 for a scarf? I don't believe it!" was one succint comment from a female 'Victor Meldrew'. Some people don't seem to realise that, yes, a ball of yarn might only cost £3 but you have to add on all the time that you've spent knitting it as well (plus the cost of your stall, insurance, packaging, transport, etc. etc.). I was dying to shout at them, "I'm trying to run a business not a charity!" but hubby wouldn't let me (he's the more diplomatic one in our marriage!)

The comments by the rude people were wiped out by one sweet elderly lady though. We chatted for a few minutes about life in general, and then she chose my Pistachio Scarf as she was a 'lady who loved green'. As I was wrapping up her purchase she gave hubby £20 (the scarf was £18) and told him to keep the change - "Buy her a Christmas drink" she whispered. Now how lovely was that?

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Monday, 9 November 2009

Where have all the customers gone?

Well, the craft fair at Emmanuel College didn't go as well as planned. The weather was lovely when we set off from home: a gorgeous cripsy cold day but sunny and bright - perfect weather for buying scarves and Christmas decorations, we thought!

Normally the organisers just have the main hall set up as the selling area, but this year they added an extra room near the entrance to the college too. And that, we think, is possibly where the problem was. The signage from the first room to the hall was minimal, and there were no staff directing people either. It seems as if the only people that came to the main area were those that had been to previous fairs, or those that went to the cafe and stumbled upon us!

There were about 80 stalls at the fair in total (20 in the smaller room and about 60 in the main hall) so I thought it was a great fair to be at - but the organisation could have been better. All of the stall holders that we spoke too had had a really poor day as there were so few prospective customers. We managed to cover the cost of our stall but that was all.

There was also a big Christmas fair at Gosforth Racecourse over the weekend so that will have taken a lot of custom away from ours. The college's fair organisers may need to have a rethink before next year's event.

The one consolation is that I don't have to replace many things for my next fair this coming Saturday! The Arts & Crafts Fair at the Grainger Market in Newcastle (see previous post) is held once a month and it gets a good amount of passing trade, so fingers crossed that we will be much more successful there. We did quite well at the fair in October when it was relatively quiet (so the regular stall holders thought), so hopefully people will be in the swing of the Christmas shopping and the fair on Saturday will be really buzzing. Here's hoping.

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Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Christmas is coming and the baby has arrived

I've been a bit lax with the blogging lately - too busy making more goodies for the craft fairs! I've got some new scarves, new gloves and a tonne of Christmas tree decorations to price up ready for the next fair on Saturday.

Craft fair dates for your diary:
Saturday 7 November - Emmanuel College, Lobley Hill, Gateshead - 9.30am-3.30pm
Saturday 14 November - Grainger Market, Newcastle - 9am-5pm

Please come and say 'hello' if you're in the area!

Here's what I've been working on this week: some pretty, cushion-type decorations made from gorgeous Christmassy fabric, with silk thread details and a jingly bell in the middle.

And some 'Suffolk puff' decorations with added beads and festive holly sprigs (they look much better in real life!).

And can I just say -
Welcome to the world Deja Mae!
My nephew and his partner are now the proud parents of a gorgeous little girl; she arrived at 12.26am today (3 Nov), at a very healthy 9lb 2oz. A fantastic new addition to our family!

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Friday, 30 October 2009

Model customer #4 and book #29

Drum roll please... da da da da da da daaahhhh...
Please put your hands together for my Model Customer number 4 - Laura from Aberdeen!

Laura is wearing my Funky Scarf; a lovely soft and fuzzy scarf in dark purple with bright pink stripes. Laura said, "I love this scarf - the colours are fab and it's SO warm!" Doesn't she look great? Thanks for shopping at Bliss Knits Laura!

If you've bought anything from my Folksy shop or from one of the craft fairs that I've attended, and you fancy being a 'Model Customer', please get in touch!

I finished 'The Memory Garden' by Rachel Hore today, so that's me up to 29 books read this year. Definitely nowhere near my record of 53 books in a year (but that was when my bus journey to work was much longer!).

I  found this book a bit slow going at times, but that's probably because I'm used to more fast-paced crime novels. It was an enjoyable light read though.

The book is set in Cornwall (a well-loved holiday destination of ours) and tells the story of a lecturer who takes a sabbatical to research and write a book on the famous artists of the area of Lamorna. It tells of how Mel falls in love with this part of Cornwall, and Merryn Hall in particular. Here she stays in the gardener's cottage and builds friendships with the local people in the present, and learns about the inhabitants of the past (the story moves effortlessly from one era to another). She helps the new owner, Patrick, to start renovations on the overgrown and neglected gardens, and a relationship starts to blossom - but will the past get in the way of their future? And will Mel uncover the truth about the mysterious artist PT?

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