...seen through a slightly smudged, secondhand pair of rose-tinted glasses

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Show time!

It feels a bit weird knitting Christmas trees in July, but it's all part of my master-plan to be more organised for the autumn/festive fairs….well, more than last year (first go at making and selling).
The pressure's on too, seeing as I've just signed up for one in September; and not any old one either, a really big two day show. REally big...

I'm doing it with a friend though, which helps take the edge off the anxiety. Both of us are craft fair newbees, and fired up on coffee and caramel waffles we decided to just jump straight in at the deep end. Pretty much without armbands.
We egged each other on basically. Easier to be brave in company...and cheaper of course.

So, swept along on a wave of sugar/caffeine fuelled enthusiasm, I sort of over-looked the fact I've made diddly-squat to sell really since last time. There is much to do, Much to Do, and the crafting is going to have to fit round keeping the kids happy, and shouty mummy at bay..

I need to be more disciplined - not make so many different things, and set myself targets. No more owls and elephants, but rabbits a-plenty, and I've an idea for another soft critter that's a similar shape. I'm not going to buy any more fabric/wool either because I've enough to be getting on with. Enough to keep me busy for a very, very long time!

Something's got to give though if I'm going to stay sane, so blogging's taking a backseat for a while - not vanishing completely, I'll still be lurking, but I know how much more gets done when the laptop's away.
You know what I'm saying.

I'll post updates when I've more than a couple of Christmas trees to show you, and thanks so much again for stopping by - really, really thank you - it means a lot, that support and friendship rippling out through the ether.
Such a funny old game, blogging - often question why I do it, but if I take a step back, there's no denying it's made the daily drudge more interesting. There's a fair bit of stuff going on now that wouldn't be happening if it wasn't for this small space. And that's a very good thing.

Anyway, whatever you're doing, I hope you have a brilliant summer, and catch up soon :)

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Driving dramas and decoupage daisies

We took Betty the Camper out for a spin last week - Betty had other ideas…
She broke down in the middle of Hereford.
On the busiest road in the middle of Hereford.

It was a total nightmare; we were blocking a lane of traffic, getting evil looks and Betty was going Nowhere.
Thankfully a sympathetic policeman stopped and helped us push her off the road onto a side street.
She's away getting fixed at the moment, and the only good thing about that is it's freed up the garage for a few painting projects. Handy enough with all the rain at the end of last week.

The board at the back is a bath panel - we're redecorating the bathroom - a project sort of brought forward by my eldest sieve-head leaving the taps running…
I also painted the box and the mirror, ready for some napkin decoupage. I haven't done much at all since the chair - and it was just as terrifying as I remember! Though in a good way.
You really need to work quickly; any fussing about or over brushing and the napkin disintegrates. Believe it or not, the thing that made all the difference this time was a 50p pastry brush from Wilko. Worked a treat smoothing out wrinkles, and so much cheaper than decoupage brushes.

Definitely got better at it as I went along - quite a big difference between my first and last piece. Hoping it's not glaringly obvious to anyone else!

The mirror came from the local auction and cost £8; the flowery napkins were only £2 and I used ordinary PVA glue.
Because there's a need for speed with decoupage, once you get cracking it doesn't take long at all: this only took about half an hour.

I was tempted to add more flowers, but the general consensus here was less is more, and I should leave  it be. What do you think? Enough with the flowers, or room for a few extras?

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Flamingos flock to the Zoo

A blogger friend told me recently that cardboard egg boxes were being phased out in favour of plastic ones, and honestly my heart sank. Now I know it's not the most earth-shattering news in the great scheme of things, but I'm very attached to my cardboard egg boxes; they're my crafting staple; my recycling rubbish of choice. I look at them and I see…well, I see animals and flowers and all sorts really. Most of the Roll up to the Zoo gang have an egg box bit.
I just don't feel the crafty love for the flimsy plastic boxes; just don't inspire me at all, and my husband set one down in a bag with a little too much enthusiasm the other day and broke 4 eggs. Yeah I'm biased, but that's rubbish isn't it.
Thankfully it turns out the new plastic packaging isn't being used by all supermarkets, or for all types of eggs, so, panic over. For now.

I haven't rolled up to the zoo here for a while, mainly because I'm still trying to see if there's any hope of making it into a book (one of the first pieces of advice I read in a guide about getting a craft book published was to keep your idea to yourself, so I've completely blown that one haven't I…)
Not sure what to do if I'm honest - some days I feel positive, and certain it's a good idea; other days I doubt EVERYTHING.
Never used to be so scared of having a go.

Anyway, enough of that - on with the flamingos!

 I know I've said this before, but they've got to be the easiest so far.

As well as an egg box, you'll need some pink craft feathers, glue, paint, black felt tip and a pipe cleaner.

We had a bit of a pipe cleaner quandary, because (as we found out) flamingos have pink legs - but the pink pipe cleaner didn't look quite right with the pink paint we used, so we opted for orange instead.

Cut out an egg cup and push the bottom up with your thumbs to round it a bit. Paint pink + part of the egg box lid (doesn't have to be a big piece - pull off any label)

Draw your flamingo's head and neck - sort of like a big S shape, wider and straighter where it joins the body and long enough here so you can slot it into a hole make on one side of the egg cup (see pic).
Use as a template if you want to make more than one.

Fold the pipe cleaner and use a little bit of card to glue it in place underneath - leave yourself a good length of pipe cleaner.

Draw on eyes and a beak with a marker pen and glue on two feathers.

For the watery setting, get some blue paper (or paint some), draw around the lid, cut out, then press this bit of paper into the edges of the lid before cutting out the water (see first pic) - this helps get a good fit.

Do the same with a bit of yellow paper, then cut away some of the blue, in a wavy fashion. We added another shade of blue, using the waves on the first piece as a guide. And if you're using different shades, circles look good (where the flamingo is going to stand), giving a kind of ripple effect. Or you could just paint these on.

Before sticking, cut a strip of green, draw a pencil line a cm or two from the bottom and fold along it. Cut a fringe of grass up to this fold. Looks better if it's uneven and different heights. Add a few yellow rush grass tops if you want.
Press the grass around one end of the lid and snip almost up to the fold in the two corners (pic 4). It will now sit better under the water. Glue everything in place.

Poke a hole through the middle of the ripple circles, or where you want to put your flamingo (keep the hole small - made mine too big!) Bend the pipe cleaner over when you're happy with the leg length and sellotape underneath. Bend over the end of the other leg until they're both the same size, and strike a flamingo pose!

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Loom band loopy

Now I realise not everyone will know the joys of loom bands…. but for those who do, this may ring true….

I'd like to meet the Loom Band guy and shake him by the hand,
then cuff him with a fishtail chain made from those stretchy bands...

Yes, I KNOW they help kids concentrate and weave stuff on a loom,
but I'm sick of finding hoards of them in every single room.

They've turned up in the cat's food dish and on the loo brush doofer,
and if my lot want any more they'll find them in the hoover.

Linking up with Prose for Thought

Monday, 16 June 2014

Mini crochet giveaway!

I got this great crochet book recently - Mini Amigurumi - and had a bit of a light bulb moment when the author, Sara Scales described herself as a miniaturist on the first page. I thought, that's me! I am that person who loves shrinking things to dolls-house-size proportions! Always have really, right back to when I was 8 or 9 and I'd make the smallest animals out of felt. Somewhere I still have a teeny green pony in a matchbox shaped bed... lord knows where the inspiration for that came from.

Miniature things have always intrigued me; I've already come clean about my Kinder egg toy collection, so, frankly, it would have been more of a surprise if I hadn't bought the book...

It's packed full of the sweetest little crocheted creatures - the patterns are straightforward and easy to follow, and most of them are pretty similar; it's their tinsy-winsyness that tested my crochet skills. I used a 2mm hook which was mini enough, but the things in the book are crocheted with a 1mm hook. Don't think I'm quite ready for that, and also didn't help myself with my choice of yarn, which frayed and separated and drove me mad! Quite a few hook-bending moments of frustration…

Anyway, on the whole I enjoyed making the little critters, but don't think I'll be adding them to my Christmas Fair stock, only because they take me ages to make...longer than their size might suggest. Isn't that often the way with small things? And if I had to sell them for just a few pounds I think I'd cry.

As I've made a few though, I thought I'd do a little giveaway - so if you'd like one (made into a keyring), leave a comment and tell me your favourite, and I'll put names in a hat - literally the old-fashioned way, because anything more advanced is stepping into unchartered techie waters - and I'll get my youngest to do the honours.
I'll let you know the winner at the end of the week.

Linking up with Handmade Monday

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Invisible detail

It's the detail you can't see that often makes a picture stand out.

I love this one, not just for the setting, or the lucky break I got with the kids (wouldn't have been able to get them to stand like that if I tried..), but for the stories it tells; the happy thoughts captured in the sky, the sea and the sweep of sand at Rhossili Bay.

When I look I see a favourite place, family time, harmony, space to think, shell seeking, paddling, rock pool exploring, no school, no work, sand gardens, smooth stones, paragliders, fish and chips, wild garlic...

I want to go again - why don't we do it more often? All too few and far between, these family days out.

Seeing the kids together, but also standing apart: close yet independent; so different - the boy with the ball; the fearless girl and the strong-willed one wearing that green jacket he refused to take off for the best part of a year.

The more you look…..memories set off others, like ripples fanning out from a pebble dropped in a rock pool.

The Gallery theme this week is Detail

Monday, 9 June 2014

A mixed bag...

I took a bag of stuff to the charity shop the other day, and came away with a bag of different stuff… Needless to say this was not the plan, and I haven't let on, seeing as I made such a song and dance about having a clear out in the first place.
It was just one of those times when want outweighs willpower, and you know what, it cheered me up no end!

There'd have been some major dwelling going on if I'd left this behind.

I've seen the pattern before on Magpie Monday - vintage J&G Meakin - the blues won me over. Perfect condition and only £3.

This would have bothered me too - a vintage 60's/70's jug. £2.

It's being used a lot at the moment for homemade elderflower cordial, and so far, no one seems to have noticed…

To be honest I was on a bit of a roll after the jug and the dish, so, ended up getting my son a new tennis top - nylon and pretty grim, but he was really pleased with it; a huge box of Fuzzy Felt for a pound…

and a sparkly number - considerably more sparkly than it looks in this picture, and completely out of character!

Not really a twinkly sequin person me - but, you see, it was on the £1 rail, it's my size and, yeah.. I was on a roll... I've also got a bit of a do coming up at the beginning of July, so maybe, just maybe, it'll get an outing.

Joining in with all the other lovely Magpies over at Me and My Shadow.