Thursday, 25 February 2010

Congratulations to my 100th Follower!

I was so chuffed last week when I realised that the Bliss Knits blog had reached the fantastic milestone of 100 followers. I thought it was reason to celebrate, so this sweet crocheted birdie is now winging its way (pun intended!) to my lucky 100th follower, ejcameron.

I love these cute little birdies and have made a few in different colours for my Folksy shop. I thought yellow and white would be nice, fresh, sunny colours; a definite harbinger of spring!

The inspiration for these sweet birds came from a lovely lady over at Attic24. Lucy's blog is full of amazing colours and photos of her gorgeous crocheted makes. She chats about family life, the delights (and trials) of bringing up a newborn and two young children, interspersed with beautiful photos of her stunning home, things she loves, sweet treats that she's baked, and her fabulously bright and cheerful crochet.

Lucy often posts crochet tutorials too and it was this one that I loved so much. I was a bit dubious about making some of these birds to sell as I didn't want to breach Lucy's copyright, but she very kindly agreed to my request. I've tried to make the birdies a bit different to hers, using different crochet stitches and adding button and ribbon embellishments instead of the crocheted features, and I think they look great!

If you'd like to own one yourself (and can't/don't have the time to make one), check out my Folksy shop (with more colours and designs to follow) or watch this space... a giveaway is coming VERY SOON!

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Sunday, 21 February 2010

Busy Week - Part Two

My busy week ended on a definite high.

I took Friday off work and me and Mam went to Durham for the day. It rained on and off, and it was very cold, but we spent a lovely day together enjoying each other's company.

We had a browse round the many shops and had a lovely lunch in a little cafe. We had a mooch around the cathedral too, gazing at the fabulous stained glass windows and architecture whilst enjoying the voices of choirs from various Durham schools who were rehearsing for a big charity event that evening.

On our way home I popped into work to pick up a parcel that had been delivered for my birthday (my birthday being on the Saturday, and me not being the patient type I couldn't wait until the Monday morning!). As I usally do, I got off the bus in Gateshead and walked over the High Level Bridge into Newcastle, spotting the beginning of a rainbow on the way.

Which developed into a full rainbow...

... uniting the two sides of the Tyne, before it faded and disappeared. A pretty end to a lovely day.

And so to the mystery birthday parcel. Kirsten (of Quernus Crafts) and I had been chatting online about our latest makes when she mentioned some polymer clay panels that she'd made for some friends of hers. They sounded so different to the wee creatures that she's so famous for and I was definitely intrigued. She emailed me a photo of them and I was just blown away! The colours and texture and detail in these small panels were just amazing and I raved about them to hubby non-stop for days. The upshot being he commissioned Kirsten to make me a picture for my birthday, and here it is...

Isn't it gorgeous? And here's a close-up of the panels themselves, depicting the four seasons...

I love it! Many, many thanks to Kirsten - you are SO talented! And to my special hubby, mwah! (that's a kiss by the way). And big thanks to all my lovely family and friends who spoilt me with many gorgeous birthday cards and pressies too. You're all very special to me (big mwah!).

Saturday (the last birthday of my 30s - oh no!) was quite hectic. I set up the Bliss Knits stall at the Grainger Market Arts and Craft Fair and then disappeared after an hour (leaving hubby in charge) to visit Mam. We had a lovely lunch with my youngest niece and her 3-year-old daughter, and then spent the afternoon playing (very energetically!) with the balloons that Mam had kindly blown up for my birthday. I may be 39 but I'm not too old to celebrate with banners and balloons she says!

I got back to the craft fair for the last hour or so. Hubby was his usual cheerful self, but the day had been very slow. Over a delicious Italian that night we discussed the fair: we didn't sell that much but we had lots of nice comments. Hopefully when people have a bit more spare money in their pockets they'll come our way. I'm starting to wonder if this sort of market fair is right for our products, though, so I'm going to have a look and see what others events there are locally.

The other stallholders are lovely though, and one in particular has been very supportive of us from the beginning and I wanted to give her a little 'thank you' pressie. I know from previous purchases and comments that Joan's favourite colours are pink and black, and that she loves cats and wearing brooches - so I think this fitted the bill perfectly, and she loved it! I was really happy with it too and I may do some more in different colours and designs to sell on Folksy. What do you think?

And this week I noticed that I've gained my 100th blog follower. I'm so thrilled! It's nice to know that I'm not speaking to myself and it's fantastic when you lovely people leave comments. Thanks to you all! A lot of my fellow crafty bloggers have giveaways when they reach a certain amount of followers, but saying that I've reached 100 already I'll have to do one at a later date. I think person 100 (ejcameron) deserves a special prize though, so I'm off to make something now - and to have a think of giveaway ideas. Watch this space...

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Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Busy Week - Part 1

I can't believe we're halfway through February already - where does the time go? Actually though, I've been saying for weeks now that I wish spring would hurry up and come, I'm so sick of the cold now; so there's me wishing the year away. And at the beginning of last week I noticed that my snowdrops were just starting to flower, so spring is really just around the corner.

I don't mind February too much though - celebrating my birthday and Valentine's Day help to make the long, cold, dark days of winter a lot more bearable! And last week I had such a lovely, busy time, making and socialising and selling and celebrating that I've got lots to show you, but I don't want to bore you with a tonne of photos and blurb in one post - so I'm going to do two (wow, aren't you lucky?!)

The Folksy Christmas Decoration Swap went so well that Noddlebubble was inundated with excited responses when she raised the idea of a Heart Swap for Valentine's Day this year. The idea was to make a heart in whatever medium you worked in, which was to be posted to the recepient in time for V-day (guaranteeing that we'd all get something to open on the day, even if our partners forgot!)

This is the stripy knitted heart that I made for Mary of Quite Contrary Crafts, with lots of detail added in the embroidery, beads and charms. It's hard making things for someone you don't really know, but hopefully she liked it.

And this is what I received from Beth of Handmade by Bethany and Bethany Allen - not one, but two pretty hearts! A simple but very stylish wire heart to hang from a chest of drawers maybe?

And a funky felt and button brooch which will look fab on a jacket, I think. Thanks so much Beth, I love them! And thanks to the amazing Lisa of Noodlebubble for organising this immense swap!

Bliss Knits had a stall at the monthly Grainger Market Arts and Craft Fair on Saturday so I spent a lot of my evenings last week making last minute Valentine-inspired items. But I also managed to find the time to make these sweet booties for a colleague who went on maternity leave on Friday. Michelle loved them, and hopefully baby will find them nice and comfy too.

Part 2 next time...

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Sunday, 14 February 2010

Bag Making, and Beyond

Sorry for the lack of posts - our broadband connection has been down so we've had no internet for the last few days. It was all my fault really: I mentioned to someone last week that the laptop was such a good buy (no need to go into the dining room to use the PC now) and that broadband was fab. And then it broke. Anyway, after spending 40 mins on the phone everything is now up and running (touch wood, fingers' crossed).

As I mentioned in my previous post, I started an evening class a few weeks ago: bag making and embellishments. I have healthy stash of fabric (both new and recycled) in my workroom and I'm keen to make use of it. I've made a few bags in the past, getting inspiration and instruction from various books, but there's nothing like being taught 'in person'.

This is the first bag that I made in the class, using fabric from an old summer skirt of mine (loved the fabric, but it just didn't go with my pasty white legs!) and gorgeous felt from The Felted Rainbow. It's quite basic really (and very wonky) but it will be a useful bag for my latest knitty project, and I did learn a few useful things in the process: using an overlocker, different way of making handles and bag linings, properties of different types of fabric...

And I had amazing fun with the Sizzix machine, which basically cuts out your chosen design from the fabric (or card). This machine is so great - I think the money that I got for my birthday (yesterday - 21 again!!) may be winging its way to a Sizzix supplier very soon; I can think of so many uses.

And this week we started another bag using the same techniques as the previous one, but this is destined to have a zip closure. I've had so many problems with zips in the past - it's the making them 'invisible' that I have problems with - so I can't wait to see how it's supposed to be done!

The fabric for this bag was from my stash - bought many moons ago, haven't a clue where from. Again, I used the Sizzix machine to cut out these lovely felt pieces, reminiscent of seaweed I reckon. They were bonded onto the fabric and then I did a spot of free machine embroidery to embellish the design and to anchor the piece further; this is another great technique that I had problems with in the past but I'm finding my way around now.

This is quite a small bag; its long, narrow nature would make it perfect for my crochet hooks I think. It's half term next week so we have a week off but I've really enjoyed the class so far; I've already learnt so many tips on loads of different techniques and I'm sure that will continue for the remaining 6 weeks. Can't wait!

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Friday, 5 February 2010

Special Delivery

I've received some lovely goodies in the post recently. First of all was this lovely grey tabby from Kirsten at Quernus Crafts.

Kirsten and I met through Folksy and we've been corresponding for a few months now: inspiring each other with our crafty makes and just chatting about life in general. When she heard about my lovely cat Alli (see previous post) she sent me this gorgeous wee cat. Isn't he sweet? It was so kind and thoughtful of Kirsten, and much appreciated. Crafters are such lovely people and Kirsten is one of those truly special ones.

As well as the people selling jewellery, toys, art, home decorations, etc. on Folksy, there are also quite a few that sell supplies; and nice Mr Postman brought me a great big fat bundle of felt last week, that I bought from The Felted Rainbow.

This gloriously coloured felt (recycled from plastic bottles!) is great for all sorts of crafts, and with 34 different colours to choose from I'll never be short of the right one! I find that a lot of felt comes in really garish shades, but there were some lovely muted and pastel ones here. A couple of weeks ago I started a new evening class - Bag Making & Embellishments - and I've already used some of the felt in my first bag (more on that in my next blog posting).

And my final lovely delivery were these cute silver charms from Ruby & Dig; aren't they just gorgeous?

They've been added to my ever-growing collection of embellishments: buttons, beads, ribbon, etc. bought over the years and stashed away for the 'right time'. These beautiful charms will add that perfect finishing touch to so many different items: padded hearts for Valentines, cards for Mother's Day, beaded bag charms...

I've already used one on my Folksy Heart Swap (more on that at a later date too!) and it really added that 'special something'.

I love to support fellow Folksters: whether buying handmade gifts direct from the maker, or purchasing materials to help me make my goodies, and you can find some really unusual items that you just wouldn't get in your local high street stores. I just need to make a few more sales in my shop and then I can go shopping again...!

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