Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Versatile Tarn, A Snowman and a Visit

I have been making snowmen to replenish stock but as I was looking for more white d.k/ I found some white tarn.  I think it is not made from t-shirts but from courtelle or nylon, possibly the edges of old fashioned sheets. Immediately I stopped making little, hang it on your Christmas tree snowmen, and made this.

He is about 40cm high including his hat and really soft and cuddly. He also reminded me of these:

Vicky made these from t-shirt yarn and they are about the size of the average two year old. I think they are truly inspired but I like the lion with his mane out of his face.

These are also made from the same material. The top one is a rug made by me , what really strikes me is how much better the laminated floor looked then. The gorgeous footstool is designed and made by Vicky. She wrote the pattern for Inside Crochet magazine and another footstool pattern is our still our best seller.  I love working with this really thick yarn and a big hook because the work grows so quickly but also because of its versatility and amazing range of colours.

I have a bad feeling that I may have already inflicted my enthusiasm for tarn on you - if so put it down to an old person becoming forgetful and just enjoy the pictures. To compensate next time I will share some of the finer work we have produced.

Tomorrow Ben and Danny are coming to play and the day after the plumber is coming. I am really looking forward to one of these events and it is not the plumber.

Serendipity, mum!  Just as I start collecting our free T-shirt yarn patterns together you blog about it.  They will slowly appear on their own page here - click the tab above to see which are there already.
I also have a better picture of the lion and a picture of my favourite T-shirt yarn make - your snakes and ladders board:

Victoria x

Monday, 28 October 2013

Shows, Pumpkins and Yoda Annoying He is.

It seems a long time since we were last here. Stu (Vickys partner ) and Dot his Mum went to a small fair at Buckleberry ( yes that Buckleberry but no sign of George). Vicky and I went to a larger fair at Bisham Abbey, so no time for blogging. We did quite well at both fairs but disappointingly we forgot to take a camera so we can't share what the stall looked like. Even more disappointingly we can't show you how beautiful the great hall at the Abbey is,- well worth a visit and there is another craft fair there soon.

We weren't very happy with our usual Christmas display which is difficult to describe but is a bit like a set of heavy metal antlers. This is a cake or candle holder, I am not sure which, but our little decorations seem to fit perfectly and it is vaguely Christmas tree shaped. What do you think? I am a bit worried about some of the penguins, they look as if they are about to quack their last  - if penguins can quack that is. The little fat robins look as if they have fluffed up their feathers for the winter and found a really comfortable perch - gorgeous!
I had a moment of panic just before the Abbey show and thought we ought to have some more Halloween type stuff so I made these.

And Ben and Danny made these which their uncle grew.

Here is the most annoying thing this week.

I decided to make a smaller version of the Yoda hat but I managed to put the face on the side where the join is.  So much less photogenic he is.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Time Team. Gifts, Hats and My Family.

Still amazingly busy. Lots of orders and making things for the various shows, so this will be quite brief.

I have been doing mostly the same things as last time: making tiny things to keep our stock at a reasonable level. So many people have looked at the little purses that I have decided to make one a day in case we have a huge influx of orders. I am also trying to make one pudding and one stocking a day. I sit in my chair with light above it to crochet and always manage to sit down in time to watch an old episode of Time Team - what a coincidence. This is what I did as I watched Tony and Phil the dig today.

A a tiny sparkling purse and a corsage whose gorgeous colours are not obvious in the photograph.

I have also tried out a hat pattern that I found in a magazine. I didn't have the right yarn so I have used a sparkly purple and a lilac together and I really like the effect but once again the photograph has not reproduced the colours very well. I must try and take a daylight picture tomorrow. That is supposing we get any between the rain showers.

Vicky and I had a conversation at the weekend about how pony tails and buns are fashionable at the moment and she had some good ideas about making hats to accomodate the hairstyle. These are my prototype attempts to realise her suggestions.

I have also been looking through the box of last years Christmas stock to make up a 50p box of bargains but look what I found

These are rocks from one of our holidays. I have crocheted round them so that we can use them to hold things down on a windy day. The trouble is they are not much use if you forget that you have them and leave them in a box for a year!

I am really happy about the amount of yarn I have used lately. I am almost convinced that my hoard looks smaller. BUT, and this is a but that I am really glad about, my 91 year old father and his partner
(aged 93) keep buying me more yarn as their contribution to the family business. It is heart warming to have the support of your family no matter how old you get.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Presents, Packaging and Photography

We are very busy getting ready for the Christmas fairs and shows and completing Christmas orders. If you are thinking of ordering presents, order early. We are making beautiful, quirky and unusual gifts at reasonable prices. Here are some of the collection of things that only cost £3.50 or you can choose any three for ten pounds.

Hearts, owls, stockings, puddings, tiny purses (if you want to give money for Christmas they will hang on the tree), 3 wooden snowflakes (as one lot), not shown we also have robins and penguins and lots of desirable phone charms.
Enough advertising. Spent Tuesday morning in accident and emergency - Grahams knee had collapsed so I took him to hospital - I still managed to crochet two and a half Christmas stockings while I waited. Nobody turned a hair so I guess old ladies crocheting has become common place in hospitals - hooray!
Here are the latest additions

I have said before that I am no good at packaging here is a perfect example.
A chocolate stuck to box lid.

                                        A chocolate cosy on the chocolate

box closed with ribbon and a tiny die-cut gift tag.

If I am honest this was all Vicky's idea but I still can't make it look like an expensive gift.
You will probably notice what look like bits of string in some of these photographs. This is because I put price tags on lots of things yesterday. Vicky finds setting up the stall stressful I find pricing things equally difficult. I am between not underselling considering all the time effort and love that has gone into making them and not making things so expensive that people can't afford them.
And finally today, I heard someone talking about being photographed and she said that as you get older you should insist on being photographed from above. Even insisting that the photographer uses a ladder.
This is the same stuff as earlier does it look better when I stand on a chair with the camera?

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

More Christmas and Packaging

When we went to the Knit and Stitch Show last week one of our missions was to look at packaging. We want to make our packaging look professional and to have a particular image. The trouble is that we have so many different things it is difficult make them all look like part of a range from the same people.It is mainly my fault because I find it difficult to make lots of things which are the same. I always have the next thing I want to try in my head and I usually make things that take no longer than a day. So we have lots of small things to package. The result of all of this is that I spent quite a few hours trying to make my computer/printer produce cards of various sizes all bearing our logo and and web address.

To make matters worse we are trying to introduce some more supplies for crafters, such as the ribbon shown above. Mind you the ribbon will probably be used to make Christmas presents look pretty.

Enough of packaging here is the crochet:

You may recognise the hearts but I have added owls and poinsettia and I think it is a huge improvement.
Not as much as usual because I have been doing a baby blanket for one of our very good customers. So here are some more of our Christmas decorations.
All made with a plastic ring somewhere in their construction
A tiny wreath made on a curtain ring.


Lovely thread bells that really ring

I love Vicky's penguins. They always look happy and
very slightly mad.


Sunday, 13 October 2013

Knit and Stitch and Aliens.

Testing the new yarn

Vicky and I went to the knitting an stitching show at Alexander Palace. Lovely day buying sparkly yarn, sparkly ribbons and tools that you didn't know you needed. A bit crowded and I was very tired at the end of the day but sharing the spoils at home was like finding the goods all over again. If you ever go plan in advance what you want to see because it is too big to see everything in one day

The Yarn - well some of it

This is seriously the best device in the universe. I am not in the first flush of youth and threading a needle has become more difficult but not anymore. It was demonstrated by a partially sighted lady who was able to thread a needle using it. I bought Vicky one but then it was so good that I had to go back and get myself one.

I have also been crocheting as usual. What do you think this is going to be?

What is this going to be?

Add a cardboard tube. Sew the edges together leaving a small gap for stuffing. Stuff and complete sewing. Add a top and a bottom.

So do you know what it is yet?

Add some portholes. some beads and a small alien and you have a flying saucer.
We struggle with crochet suitable for boys but this was so popular with my grandsons that I am making them one each. So I thought it was worth sharing. You can shut the alien in its ship and button the lid down, Then if you unbutton the lid and push up on the bottom the alien rises out of the hatch.

Every time I know I am going to be near yarn I tell myself that I must not buy any. I also make rules like no buying yarn unless you get rid of some. But all you yarn addicts know what happens. I wonder if I could go cold turkey or join yarnoholics anonymous?

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Henley, Yoda, Stockings,Mice and Pointlesssetia

Spent a lovely day at Henley yesterday. We have only driven through it in the past so we decided to see it close up. Lovely walk down the river; we fed the ducks and the fish and the amazing hovering sea gulls and of course admired/envied the  waterside properties. Then we went up into the town and scoured the antique and book shops. I found two more crochet books for my collection - hooray!

I have done some crocheting

Some observations:
Yoda looks to be more evil than Darth Vader but interestingly when you put the hat on his ears stick out rather better than in the photograph. The pink stocking looks a bit out of place amongst all the Christmassy colours. But beleive me the pink one will sell! Vicky is putting our Christmas things on Etsy so I tried to take a better picture of the stockings. Which is why they are here again.

I spend a lot of time making these for craft fairs all through the year. We sell them in sets made up of one multi-coloured mummy mouse and four babies made in colours to match one of the colours in the mummies coat, (genetics you know). It is hard to see in the photograph but each mouse seems to have a different expression all achieved by sewing the ears or the bead eyes in a slightly different place.

Now in our Etsy and Folksy shops

Finally I have made some sparkly flowers using twilleys goldfingering in red. then green leaves using 4ply green acrylic together with a strand of green shiny yarn ( this is considerably cheaper tham buying sparkly yarn and just as effective I think). Finally I have added a snowman button. As I sewed this button on I also sewed around the hair band, thus holding the flower in place. Later I glued the flower to the head band. I know this is probably blindingly obvious but if you put the glue on the head band and slide the flower into the glue you make a lot less mess. See it is never too late to learn.

I am calling these flowers pointlesssettia it has nothing to do with the popular television quiz ( which I love) but to do with the shape of the petals (I know brachts).

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

We wish you a yarnie Christmas ...

Christmas starts early if you're a designer-maker, doesn't it?  I don't know about you but we have been thinking about this Christmas since ... well ...  last Christmas.  And it already feels like we are full in the swing of the holiday season.  Most 'normal' people will be waiting until December while we professional 'Arts-and-Crafters' try to convince them it is a good idea to start buying their gifts and decorations early.

The good thing is handmade is fashionable.  It should be the perfect time to sell.  It should be ...  The trouble is the big stores are very canny and, of course, are following the trend.   Their shelves are filling up with hand-made and vintage-looking ornaments this year.  It is very hard for independent artisans and small business people to compete.  We don't have the advertising power, professional photography or the regular footfall.  Quite often we can't sell at a competitive price either.

Yesterday I noticed that John Lewis are stocking knitted and crochet tree ornaments.  One of them caught my eye.  A Christmas pud.  We make Christmas pud decorations too so I was upset for a while.  We've put in time and invested money building up stock so it isn't good news to have such big competition.  But I've had time to think.

I truly, completely, utterly and totally believe what we make is amazing.  Not just mum and I but all makers.  And I think we can convince consumers to go for our products this year.  We have many advantages.  Our products are made in the UK - often very locally to our customers.  Our products are not mass produced.  They are made with passion, care, skill and time.  Many can be customised because we can have a personal, face-to-face dialogue about what a customer really wants.  They are beautiful, desirable and special.

So I'm not going to be scared by competition from the high street.  I'm going to embrace the comparison and trust customers to realise the truth.  Buy from a designer/maker or a crafter and you simply get something better.

This is John Lewis' pudding:

This is ours (designed and made by my mum):

Pudding Decorations by Lynn on Folksy

Coincidentally, they are both priced at £3.50.  I am biased but I know which I'd rather spend my money on ...

We sell on Folksy so here are a small sample of my favourite from the gorgeous REALLY handmade things you can get on Folksy at the moment:
Set of 3 Handmade Christmas Decorations
Trees by

Beledien Handmade

Handmade Small Driftwood Christmas Tree - 32 cm Tall
Driftwood Tree by

Design Print Sew

6 Christmas decorations

6 Christmas decorations by

Prince Design UK

Felt Christmas Ornament Decoration Set - Hanging Bird and Hearts
Felt Bird and Hearts by

Marvelous Cottage

Pointy Purple Lilac Handmade Blown Glass Bauble
Glass Baubel by
Skydancer Jewellery and Glass