Friday, 27 December 2013

Thank You!

 Hello again! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and are looking forward to a crafty New Year.  I've been a bit under the weather the last few days (a nasty cold, that sapped my energy). I just managed to get through our Carol Services before it hit me, but had to miss Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve for the first time in many years.

I got a few items made during December including a batch of 3 bags. Due to her love of dogs, I decided to give this one to my auntie for Christmas.

My son's girlfriend likes penguins (yes, it is supposed to be a penguin!) and also commented on how much she liked my 'Practically Perfect Cushion', so I made this one for her in a similar style.

 This is the envelope style back, which I like just as much as the front.

No 2 of the 3 bags has a velvet ribbon and button embellishment and a giant press-stud fastener. The buttons match the fabrics better in 'reality' than they seem to here.

Bag No 3 has a jeans pocket on the outside and a button fastener. The last 2 bags will be in my Folksy Shop shortly.

Before I go, I'd like to thank you all for your support over 2013 (and previously). Without you I'd have no blog and, therefore, little outlet for my creative endeavours.

See you all in 2014.
Bye for now
Teresa x

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Taking the Plunge!

I've taken the plunge and listed some of my crafts for sale on Folksy!! Although I set up the 'shop' ages ago it's taken me a while to get around to actually listing any products. There are only a few items there (it seems to take me ages to list one item - perhaps I'm putting too much information, but I get a bit carried away) so I'm not going to publicise much until I get it a bit more established. I'll only be selling to the UK, at first, too, because I haven't yet looked into postage issues for further afield.

I recently joined a new stitching group that meets in the bar of a local hotel. It was set up via Facebook a couple of weeks ago and is proving quite popular. Needing something to take along, I grabbed a copy of Craftseller with a pattern for crocheted hearts in it, and started on these (above). I was also able to help someone who was having trouble with her crochet. Others were helped out with various problems and some admitted that they'd have given up at the first hurdle if they'd been at home alone. So the group has already proved it's usefulness, with the added bonus of meeting new people with similar interests.

My son's van could do with a good clean! Someone decided to add this 'artwork' while it was parked outside the gym. He was hoping they'd finish it the next time he parked there but, instead, something else was added that I'm not going to show you!

This little chap, and a friend, were making so much noise outside the living room window I knew they were angling to have a photo taken. Trouble is, they were also darting about so much that I couldn't get them both together.

Bye for now
Teresa x

Friday, 22 November 2013

A Knock-On Effect!

 After de-cluttering and sorting out the bookshelves on the landing last week, we were left with some extra space; and, in this house, I find that any extra space is usually filled quite quickly, usually when I'm not looking. The only solution was to fill it myself first, and if it solved another clutter situation at the same time then 'all well and good'.

This was the clutter situation in question; kitchen shelves and tops filled with cookery books. It might seem logical to have them in the kitchen, but there are many more than this on the shelves upstairs, so they may as well all be together, and tidy.
It didn't take long to gather them all up and rearrange the shelves. I should do this more often - it feels good!

Talking about books, I think my crafting books probably out number the cookery books (not including my son's cookery books or the pile under the stairs that came from MIL's when she passed away - but let's not think about all those!). Above is the shelf of craft books in my shed.

This shelf is the craft part of the shelves on the landing, and below are a few strays that came from the shed and made their way onto the coffee table in the sitting room.

And let's not forget the magazines.

Although I've made a few projects from these, I don't think I've really made the best of them, or got my money's worth.  I'm going to make it my mission, in 2014, to remedy that. So look out for progress on this, starting in the New Year.

 Now, here's what I have been up to the last couple of weeks. Only one of these  projects was made completely from a pattern and none of them were from my books - for the rest I used my usual method of 'winging it'.

 This bag started out as a simple, hexagon drawstring bag: purchased from a charity shop. Before starting any reconstruction, I removed the lining, and replaced 5 or 6 of the hexagons because the fabrics were a bit 'nasty'. For the revamp I added some bits of chopped up, charity shop corduroy trousers and a new lining, then shaped the bag with pleats at the top and boxed bottom corners.

An unplanned, and useful, side-effect of the construction means that the bag is totally reversible!

 This little bag and purse set is made from a pair of baby's cords. The useful, in-built decoration meant less work for me! The handle is made from half a belt.

Although this crocheted blanket is not from a book or magazine, it is inspired by a scarf in one of the books.

Motivated by the rapidly dropping temperatures, these fingerless mittens knitted up quickly. I haven't tackled knitting in-the-round for a while, but was pleased that this time I was able to work out how to knit them from the right side, rather than inside-out .

That's it for today then. I started off with the intention of making two posts with these photos, but they seem to have merged into one long one!

Bye for now
Teresa x

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Decorate and Discover!

OH painted the stairwell and landing the other week. And I only mentioned it once before!  It meant removing the books and shelves from the wall, so that was my job.

I haven't got any 'before' pictures because, to be honest, there isn't much difference.  It's the same colour, just a bit brighter and whiter, and there are fewer books on the shelves, after a good sort out. A small pile has gone in the bin, another pile is ready for the charity shop and a couple of books made their way back to the shelf, after DD had a sort through!

This sort of job always takes longer than you think, especially when you come across books you forgot you had. I kept the Enid Blyton story book I was given when I left the Brownies in March 1974; a paperback copy of The Borrowers dated 1964, that looks as though it has never been read; and a hardback copy of The Selfish Giant dated 1967, that cost "13s. 6d. NET".

Inside the cross-stitch book, above, I discovered these two unfinished projects and a pair of scissors. The little cat is a design from the book, but I couldn't find the pansies in it anywhere. I am probably responsible for the pansies, and one of the children probably sewed the cat, but none of us can remember them!

I tried a different variation of zipped purse last week: padded and quilted ones. The first one is pieced together and the second is one piece. They are solid and substantial, and I'm quite pleased with how they turned out.

Next time, I'll have pictures of another finished crocheted baby/lap blanket and, hopefully, a hexie bag that is currently on the kitchen sewing table.

Bye for now
Teresa x

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Raising the Roof!

I think the main answer to the question I asked in a previous post, regarding selling face-to-face, at a craft fair (or anywhere for that matter) is to 'put yourself in the customer's shoes'. I read it somewhere recently and thought, 'That's it!'. Obvious, really.

But, despite not understanding this before my last stall, I still had a successful morning, making a good profit, even after deducting the stall fee.

This is the side chapel at our church (where we held the Coffee Morning/Craft Fayre) after 2 friends and I had heaved around dozens of heavy chairs and assembled about 10 tables, the previous evening.  This whole area used to be full of immovable pews until a few years ago when they were replaced with comfortable chairs. All sorts of functions now take place in this area: from meetings to Ladies Group to choir practice (and craft fayres).

My stall
This event was the first in what will, hopefully, be a series of fundraising functions, organised by a small, recently formed group.  The money they raise will supplement the grants that are being applied for, by another part of the group, to raise money for vital work to the church building - mainly, the replacement of the roof!

If anyone would like to make a small donation, any amount would be very gratefully received, and can be made at the Church website.

In other news:

After nearly 6 months, I will be working my last day at the hair salon tomorrow. Working somewhere is very different from being a customer, and, although the other staff and the customers are mostly lovely, I've decided it's not for me. I'm going to continue having my hair done there, though, and may even be needed to help out now and again.

I have nothing else in the pipeline at the moment, but there is a very busy time coming up, so I'll just see what happens.

Bye for now
Teresa x

Monday, 21 October 2013

The Perfect Cushion!

 Of the four bags I made for my next craft stall, I have now sold 3!

This green one (which was my favourite) has gone to Australia, along with a pink one that I didn't get a photo of in time.

 This is the only one left now. I probably won't have time to make any more before the fayre.

 I've been practising something new on my sewing machine. Buttonholes! It was nowhere near as daunting as I thought it would be (but things never are, are they?).

I made this quilt with the intention of adding a cute doily to the centre. Once finished, it was clear it didn't need any addition, and I am so glad about that because it meant that the creation of the perfect cushion was possible.

If you think this quilt looks a bit crinkly, it is! I was concerned about the dye in the dark blue/green fabric  running so I washed it (with the addition of a couple of colour catchers) just to be sure, before I put it for sale.

The Perfect Cushion
 I got this cute doily a few years ago from a charity shop in Tavistock, while on a weekend away, and have been saving it for the right project. This pretty cushion is perfect for it and it's no exaggeration to say it's my favourite project EVER!  It went together really quickly, and I  just love it! It will still go on the stall though, and I hope whoever buys loves it as much as I do.

 This is the back of the cushion, and what I was practising buttonholes for. I was going to add 3 buttonhole tabs but I was a bit too free with the seam ripper on one of the holes. Turns out it didn't need 3 anyway!

All of the materials used in these projects was thrifted or donated and none of it was bought new.

Bye for now
Teresa x

Sunday, 13 October 2013

A Catch-Up!

How about this view of the gorgeous Welsh countryside. Isn't it lovely? OH and I were out looking for blackberries on one of the last warm days of our long summer. Do you see the white house at the bottom of the hill? We are heading down towards it. It was getting a bit late in the season for blackberries so we had quite a struggle to fill even one ice-cream container between us.

 With cold weather imminent it's time to start thinking about making more snuggly things for my craft stall. This scarf is the second I've made from an un-run jumper that I didn't wear much. I also bought a huge bag of yarn from the church Autumn Fayre yesterday, so more scarves may be on the way.

I made 4 more bags, to add to my stall on 26th Oct, like the one I made for myself (under the scarf in the pic above); I sold one already and will be selling another on Tuesday! I'll have to get going on some replacements now, but it's a good problem to have.

I've finished my proofreading course and it's helped me realise how much I still have to learn. I have a few related books around the house that I've not looked at before, but I'm glad I left them until after doing the course. They will be good for revision and reinforcement, and they'll have lots of extra information too. Luckily the proofreading work I've had so far has almost paid for the course.

Bag pics next time, and also, hopefully, a finished quilt!

Bye for now
Teresa x

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Breaking the Ice!

 Here's a question for all you craft seller's (or anyone): How do you 'break the ice' with a potential customer when selling face-to-face?  Do you plunge straight in when they approach your stand and tell them about yourself and your products; start talking about the weather (or some other neutral subject); or wait until they pick up an item and then start telling them about it? There must be a very fine line between engaging them or scaring them off.

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked, at short notice, to take my crafts to sell at an 'open house' event.  The hostess did all the organising, asked lots of people to come (I asked a few but had limited time) and didn't charge me to attend.  I was glad that I made a contribution to the refreshments, in the form of some mini muffins to serve with tea and coffee,  because I didn't know she wasn't going to charge me.

 In the few days I had to prepare, I made sure to finish the cathedral window cushion and felt bunting (both above). It's surprising what can be done when there's a deadline! I'm pleased to say my things went really well (my best yet) and I sold a variety of items, including the CW cushion! I also had a lot of good feedback, comments and chats.  I'd like to take all the credit but I have to give a lot of it to the hostess, who was great at introducing me to everyone who came and, therefore, 'breaking the ice' for me!

I like to make things, but not being very good at striking up conversations with people from cold is a dilemma. My new job at the salon has helped, though, and I think my chatting skills are improving.

I may have another one or two functions to sell at before Christmas, so more deadlines should get things moving around here. I made myself a new bag first, though, because if I don't get it done now I don't know how much longer it would have been. It's a new style for me with the outside pocket and flap fastening - I might try a few more like it for the sales.  The fabrics are left over furnishing scraps from my auntie plus khaki cord from a pair of trousers.

As I also sold my last baby quilt at the sale, I've started making another one.  I'm not sure if I like it yet. I've done my usual thing of starting to make it and seeing where it goes, rather than planning anything. I'm not sure it's even suitable for a baby!!

Bye for now
Teresa x

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

A Random Photo Collection! (and a new winner)

 Hello folks! It seems ages since we last had a chat so, despite having only this random selection of photos to show, I thought I'd pop by for a catch-up.

A bag made at the request of a friend, for her to give to her friend's daughter on her birthday
 Despite having little to show, I have been busy. The crafting I've been doing has been mainly ongoing work, on projects you've seen already. But I don't want to bore you to death with them, so that when I show the finished article it's an anti-climax.
Crops in a field on our village walk (I thought they'd have been gathered in by now!)
I've had 3 craft projects on my to-do list for the last few weeks (finish the cathedral window cushion, finish the felt bunting and make myself a new bag) but other, more pressing, matters have taken over, such as:

View back across the fields on the village walk
-  Wedding shopping and organising
-  Helping out with son's and daughter's businesses

A large (very large!) caterpillar found in our garden. More pics
- Getting used to the routine of my new job (or not, as the case may be!)
- Proofreading 2 manuscripts, a short story and a website.
- Finishing the last assignment on my proofreading course.

Fabulous full moon a couple of weeks ago
It's also been quite a feat keeping on top of the garden produce.  At one point we resorted to handing courgettes over the hedge to anyone who walked by when we were in the garden (if they wanted them, of course). Beetroot has been cooked and pickled; courgettes have been cooked, frozen, stuffed or turned into chutney; runner beans have been cooked, frozen or given away and lettuce has been eaten, given way or (I'm sorry to say) left to rot.

I've been keeping up with blog reading as much as I can, so I know you've all been keeping busy, too. I hope to have more to show for myself soon - so let's see how many of those 3 projects above I can get done by next time!!

Oh, and I nearly forgot.- Since I haven't had a reply from the original winner of the Caroline Zoob book, The Hand-Stitched Home,  I've re-drawn the giveaway and the new winner is Scarlet from The Finished Article who I've sent a message to and hope to hear from soon. Fingers crossed!

Bye for now
Teresa x

Saturday, 27 July 2013

So Lucky!

The other week, I finally got around to spending the vouchers I received for my birthday in March.

I took my daughter with me to enjoy the afternoon tea for 2 at The Angel Hotel. As well as the 3 tiers of scrumptious goodies above, we had scones with jam and cream and pots of tea.  Other people having afternoon tea around us took some of their cakes home in boxes because they didn't (or couldn't) eat them all. We didn't need a box!!

 It took me 3 visits to The Woolcroft to decide what to spend that voucher on.  I wanted the large knitting needles, to knit my home-made t-shirt yarn, but couldn't decide what else to get. There was too much choice - but I eventually decided on this lovely book; mainly for the stylish photographs. Apparently, you can buy ready-made t-shirt yarn now - someone's got their finger on the pulse!

On the crafting front, I've been trying to finish off some of my larger, ongoing projects, so there isn't much to show. This is my tumbling blocks quilt progress. The finished size was, as usual, governed by me stopping when I'd had enough of it. You can see that I've worked out a shape to fill in the top and bottom, to make it straight - next, I have to do the same for the sides.

Car Update. If you remember, we had to leave our car in France, and it was delivered home a few days later.  Well, I'm pleased to say that it is now fixed and back where it belongs. The repairs weren't cheap but, luckily, the money came back to us in fortuitous circumstances a few days later.  First, when looking for son's passport, hubby found an old building society book. He cashed it in and closed the account resulting in enough money to pay the labour costs for the car. A couple of days later, I received an unexpected letter from the HMRC with a tax refund that covered the price of the parts!!

Bye for now
Teresa x

Monday, 8 July 2013

France, June 2013

Our base for the week - Moulin de Garreau
 Hello all!  We got back from a lovely week in France in the middle of the night, the Sunday before last.  Our car came back the following Friday!!! But I don't want to start on a negative note, because we did enjoy ourselves, so I'll leave that until later.

The lake we walked around or fished in.
 There was so much to do at the house we could have amused ourselves there for the entire week, but we did take time out on a few days.
The Green Room (ours!)
 The weather picked up nicely after the drizzly drive down from St Malo and we didn't have another bad day until the day we left, which meant it was more comfortable to drive in.

 This is the first of four evening meals we ate at the house.  I think I enjoyed these meals more than when we ate out. It was quite a rural area where the locals didn't speak much English, so choosing from a French menu without much help was a bit hit and miss.  Who knew that 'gesiers' were gizzards!! Apparently they were quite nice.
 This is our communal sitting/dining area with the table set for dinner.  That shoe dumping area became quite messy by the end of the week!
 We dined alfresco a couple of times, making good use of the brick BBQ in the garden.

A couple of glasses of Pimms went down well while the BBQ was cooking.

A day on the beach at Isle de Re was just the thing on the hottest day of the week.

The 15 minute walk to the pizzeria was through the beautiful French countryside (You can't see the brick and tile factory on the other side of the road from this angle :-) We met an ex-pat at the pizzeria who works at the factory. He helped translate a little for us and arranged for us to go with the owner of the pizzeria to one of his wine suppliers, after we'd asked if there were any vineyards we could visit.  We met them one evening at 4pm and they led the way.  We would never have found one without their help because they don't seem to advertise for tourists.

There seemed to be a take-it-or-leave-it attitude, in general, towards tourists in the area, and sites of interest were tucked away down side streets with no signage until you were right there.  We followed a town map of Fontenay le Compte, that was in the house, in order to find a couple of gardens and a castle to look around.

This was the fate of our car after filling it up, following the day on the beach.  To cut a long story short, the steering 'went' when we were 45 minutes from the house. The following days involved 3 taxi journeys, 3 different hire cars (one with a crack nearly all the way across the windscreen) and many phone calls.  In total, we probably lost about 8 hours to-ing and fro-ing but, luckily, we had taken out extra European cover with the AA. The car couldn't be fixed in France so we still have that cost (and we haven't had the phone bill yet either), but it could have been so much worse.

Incidentally, in attempting to converse with the first taxi driver we told him we were from Wales (Pays de Galles).  OH told him, more specifically, 'Raglan' which he repeated like he knew it, which I thought was odd.  He must have been trying to think of the right words for the rest of the journey, because, when we got to the house, he turned to us and said, "My - girl (daughter we presume)  - work - Raglan - Arms"!!! We managed to communicate to him that our son worked there too and he said, "Small - world!"  
Small world, indeed!


I haven't heard anything, yet,  from Penny who won my giveaway before I went away. I've joined Google+ but have yet to find a way to get in touch.  If I don't have any luck soon there's a chance I'll be re-drawing the winner.

Bye for now
Teresa x