Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Elves On the Shelf: Days 1 - 6

They are back!! Angus & Flora our cheeky and mischievous Christmas Elves have once more darkened our door step and are creating havoc in their bid to 'prepare' us properly for Christmas - whilst making sure that we are all being good and nice of course. These chaps first came to our home last year (see here) and got up to all sorts of antics. You can see what they did by typing Flora & Angus into the search bar on the right hand side of my page. This year the troublesome twosome are finding even more mad things to do! These images are taken from my Instagram page which has daily updates on them so feel free to follow.

Day One (above): Uh oh, they're back! Naughty elves, Angus and Flora are once more 'helping' us through December and up to Christmas. Let's hope they don't 'help' themselves to the rest of my advent calendar whilst I'm out!

Day Two: Cheeky chappies, Angus & Flora are keen to get the festive decorating going and have been attacking the garden looking for things to decorate the wreath for the front door!

Day Three: There are stamps everywhere as Angus & Flora make their Christmas cards ready to send out. Hopefully they can keep the ink on the paper!

Day Four: Don't try to deny it Angus, it's fairly obvious that you and Flora have eaten the last of the mince pies!!

Day Five: Tissue box tobogganing, goggles and capes... looks like the elves have been having fun in the night!

Day Six: All aboard the shoe train express! First stop, the kitchen. Choo choo!

Monday, 4 December 2017

Winter Project Link Up Party

I fear I am a little late to this party as there have already been two link ups this Winter. I've been so busy with my stitchscapes and moving in to TWA that I didn't get a chance to participate. But, better late than never and I have also picked up my crochet hook again after several months away from the hooky world. I had such a lovely afternoon yesterday catching up on NCIS and managed to work 15 rows! Quite an achievement for a blanket that hasn't progressed forwards since January (another WPLUP post).

This is a simple, near mindless blanket that enables me to engross myself in the exploits of the NCIS team without having to also concentrate on difficult hook sequences. Granny squares are a timeless stitch, and each colour stripe is made of two rows of each colour, with clusters of three treble stitches in each gap. Even the colours have already been set up as I am working the same pattern of colours, separated each time with a cream colour. Light, fresh and should be finished in time for Spring whilst keeping me cosy through these chilly days.

Also keeping me cosy over the weekend is this gorgeous smelling candle from the 'trose, and very festive activities that begin this time of year. So many people have put up their decorations over the last couple of days- it's charming to see the twinkling lights on my bus journey home.
I collected some greenery from the hedgerows around my home and spent a couple of hours putting together a wreath for our front door. There's something really lovely about making your own wreath (although I cheat slightly and use a pre-formed base), and in this case, the smell of Rosemary is intoxicating.

It's the first time I have used holly in my wreath and I think my top tip for next year is to wear gloves to avoid getting prickled! The little red berries, ribbons, cinnamon sticks and small apples have been recycled from last years wreath.

Annoyingly our front door doesn't have a knocker or a hook for the wreath to hang on and every year is a new challenge of how to get the wreath to stay there! It usually involves string attached in creative ways, and last year I managed to make a threaded Christmas tree on the inner side! This year is a little more subdued, although hopefully effective in keeping the wreath welcoming (and prickling) guests through the festive holidays.

Of course, the final part of any comfort weekend is food! And part of my Winter project is to make as many mincemeat (the fruit version) foodstuffs as possible! Actual mince pies are to follow but these all butter puff pastry mince puffs are delicious and take a maximum of 15 minutes to put together. Pre rolled puff pastry split into eight squares. Jarred cranberry mincemeat dolloped at one corner, brush the edges with beaten egg and fold the pastry over. Seal the edges and brush the top with more beaten egg, make a small hole in the top to allow steam to escape. Sprinkle the top with brown sugar and bake in the oven on 200°C (fan assisted) for 10-13 minutes or until golden and puffed! Definitely give it a try.

So, to end this party post I must thank the lovely Jen at ThistleBear for hosting, and I must also encourage you to follow the link (here, or in the right hand side bar) and catch up on other party goer's winter projects! Thanks for joining!

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Shop Updates

It's been another week of all go and I'm grateful for the leisurely weekend. We have nothing planned. Nothing. At. All.
I was sent one of the photos taken of me and my space from last weekend's open day which I rather like, but since then the space has changed yet again! On Thursday we were back there in the dark installing a fabulous ladder bookcase I ordered. I have filled the shelves with baskets of prints, kits and cards which I hope will do well. It has also been festive-afied with my sprigs of faux holly, all ready for the German style Christmas market TWA is holding on the 9th December (11am - 4pm). I can't be there as I'm being festive with a group of Guides at a Winter Wonderland indoor camp, but please do go along and tell me all about it.

This morning I had cause to grab my camera and 'the big zoom' lens as there was a little flock of chirpy finches (Gold finches maybe?) attacking the seeds inside some dried flower heads. They were absolutely loving it! I love the colours they have, with the bright gold on their wings and red eyebrows.

In the studio I tuned in to Graham Norton and framed this little one-off mini, stretched and mounted a little commission along similar colour lines, and stretched my other commission- the wreath below. I am really pleased with how it has turned out, I think it looks really pretty and I hope that both my client and the couple this is going to be a gift for love it. I am just waiting for the frames for both commissions to arrive and then they will all be finished!

Whilst in the studio I also took the opportunity to photograph my Summer Sweet embroidery kit, which is now listed in E.t.s.y L.a.n.d should you wish to purchase one as a fabulous and unique Christmas present which will be loved and heralded as a fabulous idea!! ......................

I have also recently received six new postcard designs which are rather cool. This time round I've tested a portrait direction- what do you think?
These have now been muddled up and put into sets of six postcards which are also now listed in Etsy. See where I'm going with this? The idea behind the postcard packs is that you won't know which designs you are going to receive, each pack is different with an element of pot luck.

So, both of my shops are stocked and ready to go. Tunbridge Wells Artisans, and Etsy! I hope that you pop along to one or other of them, and maybe make a sneaky purchase?

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Tunbridge Wells Artisans

We are OPEN!!!!

It's been very exciting. We've had the first initial quiet opening to allow time to iron out the crinkles and get a routine going, then the official opening on Saturday where we got to meet all of the other artists for the first time. The place looks utterly amazing- although a little deceptive and quiet from the front maybe. The building is set back off the main road slightly so we really need to make the most of the front of the building to draw in the crowds. Inside is a little haven, crammed full of all kinds of amazing artwork and handmade s.t.u.f.f- I recommend you all come and have a look, there is too much in there to show you on this blog!

This was my little space during the opening day. It was nice to see my originals hanging individually- a lot of the older ones sort of get buried underneath the stacks of the new ones as they build up on my studio shelves. Always good to give them an airing, and re-inspire new projects!

I am sharing my space with the lovely ladies at Snobb Ltd, who make a whole range of handmade items, from jewellery to bags, cushions, machine embroidered purses, table stands, glasses cases..... the list goes on and they are always coming up with new products. They also work very hard at the craft fair circuit, as well as selling on Etsy and in The Silver Sheep. There's still time for you to purchase those last little stocking fillers!

Opposite us in our alcove are two more amazing artisans. These very sweet dolls are by Dollie Day Dreams who has a Facebook page you can follow (yippee!). I really love the dyed orange and red curls in the dolls above, and they all have the most amazing outfits!

Tucked away under the eaves are the very bold prints of Sarah Abercrombie Jones. Although I really like her artwork, I have serious crate envy. Do you think she'd notice if I swapped her lovely printed, be-legged crates for my lined Hobbycraft ones? Even Dad comments on these crates every time he pops round to TWA. I wonder if she made them herself? Perhaps I could have a go at creating similar ones- it can't be that hard, surely?

I haven't photographed the work of all of the artists at TWA (there are 32 of us in total, all varying completely in style and type- which I hope you can get a glimmer of from these images), but on the other side of our mesh wall are Molly Williams with her amazing felt figures and printed textiles (and her own kits!)....

...and The Driftwood Shack. I really love the candle bases in the lengths of driftwood. If only I had the space to have them sprawling across a mantelpiece or adorning a large dining table. Someone will have the space for these lovely pieces- perhaps it is you?

Right down the other end of the upper floor are a couple more artists, one of them being Violet Elizabeth who doesn't appear to have a social media I can find, but she does a lot of work with saris so everything is beautiful and silky and golden! I really love her sari lampshades- such a cool idea!

I will probably blog a lot more about this space as it develops. Things are already changing around as people think more about how they want their space to work, and Snobb and I have been doing lots of thinking and reshuffling around to see what works best. We will get there in the end, but it keeps things fresh if we move furniture and focus on some products one week and different ones the next. Hopefully business will pick up- especially as there is a German style Christmas market planned for the 9th December. We have Christmas trees, workshops, choirs, German street food, mulled everything, twinkly lights- it's all going on and should not be missed! Find more details, and details of our mailing list and anything else you want to know on the website- Tunbridge Wells Artisans (TWA for short).

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Lazy Sunday Studio

It's been a lazy, productive sort of day- if you can put lazy and productive in the same sentence? A day I really needed after the last week! Manic is putting it lightly what with rushing to get everything displayed at Tunbridge Wells Artisans (TWA), which opened its doors to the wondering public on Friday. The Parents and I were there late on Wednesday night hanging pictures and cable-tying fairy lights around mesh walling. Other evenings were spent sorting prints and greetings cards, taking inventory, writing stock lists and packing into various boxes- then unpacking into different boxes. The house and studio were both a complete mess, and it was all just left there for the rest of the week as The Mother and I had our final craft fair of the year yesterday at Uckfield Community College's "Christmas Indulgence". I'm not moaning, it's just an awful lot to fit in around work and commuting- an hour's lunch break goes by in a flash!

So today was spent in a more leisurely fashion. Sunday morning lie in, toast with marmite, steaming coffee and a wander in the sunshine up to the studio. I tuned in to Radio 2 and Michael Ball helped me to organise the studio, put everything back in its place and spend a little while photographing some of my Christmas hoops ready to be put onto Etsy. I am also planning another kit based around these chaps so have been working on that as well.

I do really like these decs hanging in my studio though- perhaps I should just keep them all?!! No, that would be silly, they are all listed in my Etsy shop, go on and buy yours!

Ah my lovely studio. I am almost outgrowing it so it's good that I have alternative spaces to display my work now. Some of my 'scapes have returned back home to roost so my shelves aren't looking so bare and I really love the warmth and peace and serenity it gives me. Just walking there I can feel the weight of the world fly off my shoulders.

Excitingly (and totally nerdily) some fabric came in to my day job this week which I needed. No questions asked- perhaps you can see why? Uncannily, the colours are identical- absolutely identical- to the colours in my Dotty Textiles logo! I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to do with this material, but it was too good an opportunity to pass up. I mean, even the pattern of the splodges fits in beautifully!

After I had organised and photographed and relaxed and chatted with Michael for a couple of hours (I love that man, he's so endlessly chipper, and has excellent taste in music), I walked the long way home to enjoy the most of the sunshine and the Autumn colours.

So much gold and red and orange, burnt umber, yellow, amber, crimson, call it what you will, it all contrasts beautifully with the blue of the sky, and you have to soak up all you can get at the moment. I heard on the radio that at this time of year, the average adult gets less than an hour of sunshine a day, something I can completely relate to as I work in an office with no windows and don't always go out at lunchtime. It is dark when I leave the house in the morning, and dark when I leave work to come home. This afternoon was a sight for sore eyes.

Of course, this is only temporary relief. It's back to work tomorrow with the alarm due to go off at 6.15am precisely. Next Saturday is the official open day of TWA and I will be there stitching away (so behind on a couple of commissions!!) if any of you would like to come along for a meet and greet. I cannot tell you how beautiful some of the work is by the other talented artisans- there is literally something of everything there, including things you didn't even know you needed.

I am not totally happy with my display so am hoping to also be there during the week at some point with a new display idea, it depends when my storage unit arrives though so we'll see how it goes.