Sunday, 28 March 2010

Time Theme on Folksy

I haven't done a Folksy showcase for a while, so in celebration of British Summer Time here's my pick of items for sale on Folksy now with a TIME theme. Hope you like them!

Days of the Week Button Magnets - The Scarlet Butterfly Company
Tea Time Tea Cosy - Hippo House

Copper Watch - Averilpam Designs
Dandelion Time Flies Print - Gracie's Garden Bazaar

There's an amazing array of handcrafted items for sale on Folksy, in a huge variety of styles and prices. Why not check it out next time you have a gift to buy, or for that little treat for yourself? - go on, you deserve it!

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Thursday, 25 March 2010

Budding Thoughts in the Spring Garden

The weather was lovely on Sunday - it was relatively mild and the sun was shining - so after a spot of decorating in the morning I took the opportunity to spend a few hours in the garden. The sun went in and the wind picked up about five minutes after I went outside but it was still quite pleasant.

These little chaps were quite entertaining; dashing about picking up the bird nuts and then scurrying off to eat them. I find the mice quite endearing and don't mind them being in the garden. They dig up the odd bulb (and last year scoffed all the strawberrries) but as long as they stay outside that's fine by me; I like the fact that the local wildlife choose to make a home here.

This was the first day that I've spent time in the garden this year and it was lovely. My back was a bit sore that night, and the backs of my legs were aching a bit the next day, but I really enjoyed my time tidying up the garden and filling the recycling bin to bursting point.

I love the expectation that spring brings. We've had a long, cold winter this year so I'm sure that a few plants won't have survived, but the hardy spring beauties are out in force. The primulas are flowering well, and will do so for much of the rest of the year with some dead heading and clearing away of dead leaves. They're not showy, or glamorous, or exotic, but they are the stalwarts of the spring garden and I love their simple cheery blooms.

The snowdrops have been flowering for 6 weeks now, and despite a heavy battering of rain and wind last week their nodding heads still look perfect.

I have a few different varieties of the taller daffodils in the garden that haven't showed their faces yet, but the smaller 'Tete-a-tete' are just coming into flower now. Our garden can get quite blustery so these are perfect; they flower their socks off for weeks and just shrug off even high winds.

After clearing away the old foliage and pruning back the protective winter stems, the garden is looking quite fresh and perky.

Lots of shoots are appearing and new leaves are unfurling, like those on this lupin. I adore lupins; I think they could possibly be my favourite garden flower. I love the different colours (bright or pale, single or bi-colour or iridescent); and the umbrella-like leaf; and the shape of the flower spike and the structure of the individual flowers (Mother Nature is so clever isn't she?)

The buds on the Forsythia are ready to burst. I wonder why most of the flowers in the spring garden are yellow? Any ideas? (Must remember to look that one up some day.)

And finally (with the sun making a brief appearance) is this photo of my Chaenomales. I have no idea of the variety of this flowering quince (I got it from a former colleague in a swap for a pair of new shoes that were too big!), but it has the most gorgeous, rich coral flower. The brick wall isn't a good foil for the flower colour, but as the plant is still in it's pot I hope to find a good spot for it when we move house.

Yes! We plan to move house this year! The sprucing up of the house is nearly finished, the decluttering is well underway, and the tidying of the garden has started - so I reckon by the end of April we should have it on the market. I'm very excited about a new house, and most importantly a new garden, but I shall be sad to let this one go. I have lots of lovely memories of my Dad sitting and chatting in the garden, and of our three cats (all of whom are buried here) but it's time to move on and I'm looking forward to making nice memories in a new patch.

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Monday, 22 March 2010

They come in threes

It's been a while since I listed some new things on the Bliss Knits shop. I've still been busy making things, I just haven't got round to writing all the blurb for the listings, and of course I have to wait for a nice bright day when I'm not at work to take the photos.

I've been making use of the lovely felt that I bought from The Felted Rainbow a while ago. The colours are so gorgeous and I think these loopy flower brooches look really effective. They'll certainly brighten up a coat or bag - and add that little touch of pizazz. They were really popular at the craft fair last Saturday, and I had a few nice comments when I wore one myself this weekend. I've only listed three at the minute and I have lots more felt cut out and ready to sew up, so there'll definitely be more to come!

I've also listed these pretty teardrop keyrings: crocheted in soft candy colours with lots of lovely beads added for sparkle and dangly movement. Again, I've made them in lots of different colours for the craft fairs but I've only listed three today.

My Folksy shop has been looking a little untidy of late as I make so many different things and the long-awaited 'categories' still haven't come into force yet, meaning that the items in the shop appear in the order I've listed them (rather than all of scarves together, all of the brooches together, and so on). All of the sellers have been asking for categories for ABSOLUTELY AGES and we've been told by the powers-that-be that they're coming VERY SOON - in the meantime, I'm listing things in threes as it looks tidier! Check out my shop and you'll see what I mean!

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Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Easter Egg Treasure Hunt

Fancy an Easter Egg Treasure Hunt?

(Click on the image to make it bigger)

For a chance to win one of three goodie bags, filled with eggs-cellent handmade gifts worth up to £100 (some appear on the poster above), then read on.

There are 33 eggs hidden in various shops on Folksy. The eggs appear on the banners of the participating shops and all you have to do is find 11 eggs of the same colour (pink, yellow or blue) and email the list of shop names (plus your name and address) to If you find ALL 33 eggs then you have a better chance of winning!

Shhh, don't tell anyone, but here's one to start you off.

The winners will be announced on 5th April.

So what are you waiting for? Get cracking!!

(Thanks to the lovely Fee at Niche for organising this eggs-citing competition!)

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Monday, 15 March 2010

And the Lucky Giveaway Winner is...

That's it.

It's all over.

You've had your chance to enter my first ever giveaway.

And now the time has come to choose the winner.

So in the interests of fairness and impartially I asked the Random Number Generator to come up with a number between 1 and 389 (includes giveaway comments, blog followers and facebook fans).

And it comes up with... No. 3!

So please give it up for:

Charlotte of Charlotte Hupfield Ceramics.

Woo hoo! Congratulations Charlotte!!

The crocheted goodies will be winging their way to you in the next day or so (just as soon as I get your address!)

Thanks to everyone who took the time to leave comments; thoughtful, sentimental, funny - it was so interesting to read them all. And thanks to all of my followers and fans, old and new - it's great to know that I'm not talking to myself!!

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Tuesday, 9 March 2010

A Knitted Coat for a Boat

Last weekend I visited the Pins and Needles show in Newcastle. The annual event is a great place to buy various crafting supplies, books and handmade gifts but it also has some fab exhibitions - this year we were treated to a gorgeous display of quilts and the fantastic 'Casting Off' project - a knitted 'Coat for a Boat'!

The idea for this amazing arts project came from Esen Kaya, Visual Arts Development Officer at the Customs House in South Shields, who envisaged bringing together the two very different crafts of knitting and boat building. However, both crafts are similar in the fact that their techniques are passed down from one generation to the next and this project brought the whole community together using those traditional and contemporary skills to create a life-sized boat covered in knitting; celebrating Tyneside's long and illustrious maritime and crafts heritage.

The boat itself is a 21ft coble which was built by the North East Maritime Trust, a boat rescue charity in South Shields which is dedicated to preserving the skills of traditional boat building. I had a lovely chat with Dave and Allan, two of the vessel's builders. They were so animated when talking about the success of the project - working in partnership with the local community, the Trust has helped increase awareness of traditional boat building techniques - and their enthusiasm for our maritime heritage really shone through.

Northumberland-based artist and textile designer Ingrid Wagner was in charge of the knitting; issuing a 'call to needles' in February 2009. Her innovative Big Knitting techniques were used to create the large-scale items: the actual 'coat' was made from recycled cotton sheets (from a local hospital laundry!) which had been torn and rolled into balls of yarn, and knitted using huge 25mm diameter needles.

Over 300 knitters of all ages and abilities were involved in the project; many of them were locals who took part in the weekly knitting group at the Customs House, but there were contributions from all over the UK, and some items even arrived from New York and Australia!

As well as the boat's coat, everything in and around it was knitted too: rocks, sand, lobster pots, seals, seagulls, starfish, seaweed, crabs, fish, a compass and even a ship's cat; with many items continuing the recycling theme: oars made from torn-up curtains, and fisherman's trousers knitted from black bin bags and orange carrier bags!

The boat was proudly displayed at the Customs House last summer, with a brief outing when 'Salma's Dream' actually took to the water on 12 July as part of the 2009 Mouth of the Tyne Festival. It was also shown at the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace in October, and following its appearance in Newcastle last weekend it will be touring other venues in the UK in the coming months. It's well worth a visit if you get the chance; it's an amazing project and there's so many different items to look at and marvel over - and it does really bring a huge smile to your face!

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Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Giveaway - what would you make?

Roll up, roll up - it's giveaway time!

I started this blog in July of last year and have quite enjoyed showing you my photos and chatting about what I've made, what I've been doing in the garden, and life in general. I've been amazed at the amount of people who regularly read it and I want to thank all of my lovely followers with a blog giveaway. Woo hoo!

So, here's what you can win:

A pretty tri-flower brooch.

A cute, crocheted keyring.

And your very own sweet spring birdie.

So what do you have to do to win these gorgeous goodies? Well, there are a few ways:

To get ONE easy entry:
a) Become a follower of this blog.
b) Become a fan on the 'BlissKnits13' fan page on Facebook.
(Current followers and fans will automatically get one entry; that means two if you're both!)

To get a further TWO entries (because comments are extra special!) and for a bit of fun - answer this question:
If you could make ANYTHING for ANYONE, what would you make and who would you give it to?
a) Leave a comment at the end of this blog post.
b) Or leave a comment on the 'BlissKnits13' fan page on Facebook, on the 'Discussions' board.
Be creative - it doesn't have to be a skill you already have; what would you LOVE to make? And who would you give your 'gift' to, a famous person (past or present) or someone you know? I can't wait to see what you all come up with; I know they're going to be some interesting comments!

You can also gain extra entries by mentioning this giveaway in your own blog, Facebook or Twitter (just leave me the link in the comments section so that I can add it to your entry tally).

The winner will be chosen by random selection on Sunday 14th March. I'm happy to post the prize overseas so anyone can join in, wherever you live.

Thanks for all your support everyone. Good luck!

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