Saturday, 24 December 2011

Making Christmas sweets with the kids

I have been attempting to continue Christmas crafting with the kids and today we made a few sweet treats for friends and family. We had a go at marzipan fruits, but I think I had the wrong type of food colouring and it wasn't going very well. We decided to make most of the marzipan into snowmen instead and they turned out much better than the fruit.

We had much more success with chocolate truffles. These were so easy and they are delicious. The ones rolled in icing sugar don't look great as the sugar has absorbed the moisture from the truffle, but the cocoa ones and the chocolate flake ones look good.

Here's the recipe...
Heat up 175ml of double cream in a saucepan until it boils and then pour it into a mixing bowl containing 225g Dark chocolate (chopped up) and stir it until all the chocolate has melted (I also added 2 tsp of Cointreau at this point, but I could have added a bit more). Leave this to cool and set. I did this the day before and left it in the fridge over night.
Use teaspoons to take a small amount of the chocolate ganache out of the bowl and roll it in some cocoa powder or some chocolate flakes.

Here are our little trays of sweets wrapped up and ready to go.

Happy Christmas!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

A Father Christmas card

I've started having a a little look at Pinterest and I can see how time can slip away looking at all the great ideas that are shared on there. I saw the idea for this card on there and thought it was so great that we had to have a go. The original link is here. My girls made some for their teachers and for their grandparents. They are so effective.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

An artsy ornament

I signed up a while ago to an online class called "12 Artsy Ornaments for Christmas". It's hosted by Christy Tomlinson and has a selection of artists contributing projects, including two of my favourites - Donna Downey and Alisa Burke.

This was my version of Alisa's project and I've made a few for friends. I love how they turned out. When my six year old said she wanted to give presents to some of her school friends, I showed her the tutorial video and she had a go too. She made some very pretty hearts.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

A Peg Angel

I am still crafting like crazy catching up with sewing embroidered cotton shopping bags for church and a couple of commission bird bags too. Yesterday I realised I've used up a 1000m reel of thread in about three weeks - now that's a lot of sewing! I'm also trying my best to get crafty with the kids, particularly as Christmas is such a great time for making and so this weekend we made presents for the girls' teachers. This year we have made peg doll angels to hang on a Christmas tree ( I just need to tie on a ribbon loop so they can hang up).

I used some small paper doilies for the skirt and we coloured bits of another doily in silver for the wings. The bodice is made from a piece of ribbon and the arms are a pipecleaner wrapped around the neck.

The girls drew on the faces with felt tips and this is the smiliest one. My younger daughter drew on a hilarious face saying "Look Mummy , this is an angry angel!" The doll has fringed paper hair and a tinsel pipecleaner halo.

I am hoping to get most of my sewing done this week and I am glad I took the decision not to make presents for the children I knitted toys for last year. I think it would have been a step too far! This year I have bought each of them one of our favourite books. It's called "Stuck" by Oliver Jeffers ( who is my favourite kids author). We particularly like the main character who is a little boy with ginger hair - my little ginger boy is very pleased by this.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

The Whiffle Tree Trading Post

I've been a bit quiet on here lately as I have been crafting flat out to get ready for the Whiffle Tree Trading Post, which was a local craft fair yesterday. I had a really good afternoon and sold lots, had lots of compliments on my work and lots of nice chats with fellow crafty people. As someone who normally sits at my desk to craft it so nice to get out and hear positive feedback on what I enjoy making.

My best sellers were my cards, which I placed in some nice little baskets from Ikea.

My crochet roses also sold really well. I have about 5 left.

I made a few of these bags. These didn't sell at all but I think they are gorgeous! They are based on a pattern from Amy Butler's book "Style Stitches", (with a few little tweaks). I don't mind that they didn't sell, as it means I have stock for a craft fair I've signed up for in January! I made a large embroidered bag, which you can see in the picture at the top. I did sell one of these bags and took commissions for two more for bags with different birds on. It was a good lesson to learn what people like, and my embroidered birds are a bit more individual than a patterned fabric bag.

Here's a closer look at some of my Christmas cards, including my favourite one made with a stamp by Crafty Individuals, which I coloured in and embellished with sequins - sometimes less is definitely more!

And a few more Christmas cards...

I'll be back soon with more photos of my other cards.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Millefiori - inspiration and beads

While we were at the "Power of Making" exhibition at the V&A, my friend and I had a little look at the glass gallery. I was very pleased to find traditional glass millefiori as I have spent a lot of the past month teaching people how to make Fimo canes. I am always amazed at how the glass makers can produce the canes as I am used to making my canes in a malleable clay, not boiling hot melted glass!

I love the stripy edges of these canes.

This plate is made using large stripy canes.

And here's my version! I took the Fimo canes I had made at classes and demonstrations recently and made them into beads. It's my new favourite necklace and when people ask about it, I get to do my Fimo sales pitch. The assistant on the coach to London my be coming to one of my classes after our chat about my necklace!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

The Power of Making

This Saturday was an unusual day for me as a friend and I got on a coach early in the morning and headed off to London. I had been reading articles about an exhibition currently at the V&A museum called "The Power of Making" and after mentioning that I'd love to see it, my husband suggested taking the day to go and have a look.

It's a fantastic exhibition. I found it inspiring to see so many things that have been crafted in lots of different ways, using creativity and imagination. There is a great range of made items, from traditional crafts, using wood and leather to a range of 3D printers - which still seem like something from Star Trek to me!

I was particularly impressed by the computer-y items that were designed to be hacked and improved and shared. I loved the openness and appreciation of other peoples talents.

I'm afraid I haven't got photos I can show you as cameras aren't allowed - as the kind assistant told me! However the image above comes from the V&A website and it's of the astounding pencil tip sculptures of Dalton Ghetti. It took him two years to make this series using a razor blade and a sewing needle. The preciseness of the letters are mind blowing.

I came away from the exhibition feeling affirmed as a maker. My friend pointed out the following quote...

For many people, making is critical for survival. For others, it is a chosen vocation: a way of thinking, inventing and innovating. And for some it is simply a delight to be able to shape a material and say ‘I made that’. The power of making is that it fulfills each of these human needs and desires.

The exhibition runs until the 2nd January 2012.

Friday, 11 November 2011

A Maisy Mouse Quilt

I've been a bit quiet on here lately and it's not because I haven't had crafty things to write about, it because I've been crafting so much that I haven't sat down much. A friend is organising a craft fair in a couple of weeks and I have a table. At the moment all the things I want to sell are still ideas in my head - don't panic! I've spent this week working on a Scrap365 project - I'm so please with it but you'll have to wait a couple of months to see it!

I've also managed to squeeze in a bit of sewing to make a little quilt for my friends' new baby girl.
I found some fantastic Maisy Mouse fabric which works so well and is really bright and colourful. It's also the perfect match for her older brother's Hungry Caterpillar quilt I made a couple of years ago.

Here's the flower in the centre made in a Dresden Plate style.

I used some lovely multicoloured thread to free machine quilt some flowers...

I parcelled up the quilt with a little Maisy Mouse book and this card, which I made using the Cosmo Cricket papers "Odds and Ends"

Saturday, 5 November 2011

A Fimo Owl and a feather cane

I've started teaching Fimo workshops again recently (after a long gap) at a fabulous local craft shop called Spinning Weal. The shop is known for fabric, wool, felting and spinning with great workshops and a while ago they added a stand of Fimo. I had an idea to make one of my owls to sit in the shop and apparently he has prompted lots of great comments. A lot of people have thought he's fabric and get a surprise when the owl feels hard to touch. I felt that a knitting owl sitting on a quilt would feel very at home in the shop!

Here's a closer look at how I make an owl.

I start with a big ball of scrunched up kitchen foil and then wrap a layer of multicoloured leftover Fimo around the foil to smooth it out. When I make millefiori canes with Fimo I always have a distorted image at the ends, but none of it is wasted as you can see here.

The next step is to construct a feather cane for the owl's tummy. For this can I used transparent white to make a sausage shape (cane) with white Fimo wrapped around the edge - this is known as a bullseye cane. I squashed the cane into an oval shape and cut it into short lengths to build up the feather pattern, including some tiny canes of black with white wrapped around it. As I used transparent white, the appearance of the feathers will change once they have been baked.

I cut lots of slices from the cane and covered the front of the owl.

Here's a closer look at the other feathers. There are three different canes on the back as I kept running out of feathers!

Then it's two white circles for the eyes and black eyes, beak and legs.

Can you see how the transparent Fimo has changed now it's been baked and the pattern becomes more obvious?

The millefiori cane for the wings is made up from a selection of bullseye canes.

The quilt is made up from millefiori canes that I made when I was doing a Fimo demonstration at Spinning Weal in September.

Scrap365 - the wait is nearly over!

It's not long now until Scrap365 is in the shops. It's so exciting! This morning I was reading posts on UKScrappers and it appears that some subscription copies have arrived this morning. The comments have been fantastic... " it's full of gorgeous creativity", "Full of inspiring, creative and interesting projects and techniques", "it looks great".

If you haven't got your copy yet, you can see the front cover on the blog here. The cover star this month is the ultra talented Mahlin Wiggur. I worked with Mahlin on the Bubbly Scrumptious design team and her work is fabulous - I'm a huge fan!

There has a been a small disappointment in that the first issue won't be in WHSmiths but Traplet have sorted out a deal so customers can buy the first issue with free P+P from them. The details are all on the Scrap365 facebook page .

Sunday, 30 October 2011

A Pirate cushion

The Boy has moved out of his cot and into his big bed and he is doing really well. The girls have large cushions in their room which we call the "story cushions" as we lean up against them for stories at bedtime, and so I thought that the boy needed a story cushion too. At his request, I made him a pirate-y one.

I started off drawing a design onto paper and then placing my fabric over the top and drawing over it with a fabric felt-tip. I ironed the drawing to fix it and then used fabric paint to colour it in. Apologies for the photo - I was doing this quite late at night!

I used a watered down fabric paint for the sea and sky, which bled into the other colours more than I would have liked, but it still looked OK, so I layered the painted fabric up with some wadding and quilted it with my free-motion foot. I used white stitching for the clouds, sun and waves.

And I used black stitching for the boat.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Going out for a smoothie

I've been working on my final post as Guest Designer for Quirky Kits and this time I was using the Rocky Road Lite kit. You can see more details about it on the Quirky Kits blog here.

If you happen to be in Gloucester tomorrow then I will be at HobbyCraft doing a Fimo demonstration all day. Do pop in and say hello!

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Happy Words minibook

I've been having fun with my "Hazelnut Coffee" Quirky Kit again and this time I've made a minibook containing some of the inspirational quotes I've been finding recently. You can find out more about it on the Quirky Kits Ideas blog,

Here's a look at the pages...

Monday, 17 October 2011

Happy Days with a Quirky Kit

I've been continuing to play with my lovely Hazelnut Coffee kit from Quirky Kits and here is my page using the crochet doily I used as a mask earlier. I love the texture that the crochet pieces give to this page and I really like the colour combination. I am rapidly coming around to the idea of subscribing to Quirky kits once my time as guest designer finishes as I am really enjoying using the selection of items that I wouldn't necessarily have chosen myself.
You can see more about the layout on the Quirky Kits ideas blog here.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Felted Crochet brooches

I have been working towards a little fundraising at my church again and I have been making these flower corsage brooches using my newly acquired skill of crochet. They have been quite popular and I have been taking orders!

The best thing about these is the wool. It's called "Wash and Filz it" and it's a washing machine felting wool. This means that I make a wobbly flower with my novice crocheting and then I pop it into the washing machine (usually with a load of dark or colourful washing) and it comes out all tight and neat - hurray!

The larger flower is made using a pattern from the Mollie Makes magazine, with a covered button in the middle, I found that pinning them onto a piece of printed card made the brooches look even smarter.

I'm afraid I can't link to the pattern for the rose as I'm fairly sure I've been following it quite badly and mostly making it up as I go along - it's all to do with the difference between American and English crochet patterns. However my method seems to work quite well and it looks nice at the end!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Guest Designer time for Quirky kits

I'm really excited to be the guest designer this month on the Quirky Kits ideas blog. I've had one of their kits before, as part of an assignment for the Scrapbook Magazine and it was really great. The kit this month is called ""Hazelnut Coffee" and it's another fantastic selection. Apparently there are still a couple of kits spare.

This is my first page for the month and I am so pleased with it - I'm considering popping this one in a frame! To see how it's put together, check out the Quirky Kits blog.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

A Christmas Robin

I had a great day on Saturday in Abergavenny demonstrating Fimo. I was asked to make a few little friends to sit in the shop and here is one the the Fimo creations - sitting outside his own birdbox!

I'll let you into a secret... he's not solid Fimo. I don't like to waste Fimo where I can't see it so I make larger models by scrunching up kitchen foil as the centre. The shape is smoothed out by a layer of mulitcoloured Fimo, leftover from previous projects, and then covered with a final feathery layer.

Friday, 7 October 2011


While browsing the Mollie Makes blog I saw this. It's so fabulous. The pattern is called "The Beekeepers Quilt", it's made with hexipuffs and I would love to make some. The pattern is byTiny Owl Knits and it's available on Etsy.

Could someone please invent a time machine so I could do all these craft projects in my head?

If you find yourself in Frogmore Street in Abergavenny tomorrow, then pop in to The Initiative and say hello. I will be doing a Fimo demonstration all day.