Friday, 25 December 2015

Thursday, 24 December 2015

More Origami

Still got the paperfolding bug..... I think its going to be my thing in 2016! Really love these stars I learnt how to fold here on the Homemade Gifts Made Easy blog. There are video and photo tutorials. They are so nice I'll probably leave them up after Christmas.

There is one other star I want to learn and haven't worked out very well yet. Its the German paper star made by folding long strips of paper. My sister moved to a new job in Berlin this year so I'm hoping to decorate her Christmas gift with one tonight. I'll show you later if it works out. This is what they are supposed to look like!

Froebel Star - German Christmas Star
Here's the source:

Finally I'd like to send all my lovely followers (and especially you fantastic few who regularly send me such kind comments) this wonderful old Christmas card (I think its 1950s) I found on ebay a few years ago. LOVE IT!

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Jingle all the way....

I've been rather obsessed by bells this Christmas season - almost everything I've made has had a jingle added! There are lots of bells on these snowflakes I've made to hang in the window.

I saw these Pierced Snowflake dies from MFT (My Favorite Things) on the Make the Day Special Blog and really liked what Jenny had done with them. There are lots of snowflake dies on the market, and I do have a few, but these are really pretty and even though I often have difficulty with larger dies on my ancient cuttlebug, these cut perfectly and even the tiny dots around the edges are well defined.

As usual I've used cereal box card. Yes, all these really are cut from just cereal boxes - there is no top layer of fancy paper. As snowflakes are, of course, symmetrical I cut two for each and glued them back to back. As soon as I've glued each shape I quickly put it under something heavy to keep it flat and well stuck - a pile of magazines is perfect as you can put two or three between each magazine with a big pile on the top.

The white card comes from a rather expensive cereal I always buy when its on offer, but I really like the natural card too. You'd probably pay quite a lot for "Kraft" cardstock in a shop or on line so before you assign your empty grocery packets and boxes to the recycling bin I'd advise you to take a second look - you never know what you'll find inside!

I've joined the snowflakes together with jumprings and added the bells with jumprings too so that they stay loose and jingle nicely. The one with red bells has a couple of beads added too. A bit of wire or twine would do just as good a job if you don't have jumprings in your stash.

They don't have to be joined together though, they are just as pretty on their own. But of course I still couldn't stop myself adding a bell or two! :o)

Just realised the background in that photo looks a bit strange! No, I haven't shut the cat in the cupboard - its a bottlebrush fox waiting to be released and put on the Christmas tree! However I have to admit Titch is finding it difficult to get a comfortable spot for her naps amongst all the chaos that is my Christmas crafting space!!!

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Christmas papercrafting remembered.....

Christmas always brings back memories of happy childhood cutting and sticking for me. Remember egg box bells for the tree, cut paper snowflakes for the window, gummed paper strip chains hung from the corners of the room to the lampshade in the middle of the ceiling and paper lanterns? Happy days!

I still like making decorations but nowadays they are rather more sophisticated versions made with the aid of papercrafting dies. This year I've fallen for the Take a Bough set from a new company Concord & 9th. I have to admit these little trees are rather time consuming to make - I'd envisaged a whole forest but so far have only managed three!

These music trees are usually popular on my craft fair stall - folks like to give them as teacher gifts (especially music teachers) and this year one lady said her son was a music director and thought them perfect for his tree. I was very flattered!

I rather fell for the black and white version myself - quite sophisticated considering they are created from that old favourite, cereal packet cardboard! The dies are past releases from Wplus9 and Papertrey Ink.

And as always I can't resist a bit of pretty packaging. It doesn't take long and always makes for a more professional presentation - I think so anyway. Cut a square of card to fit the width of your cello bag, stamp with appropriate festive images (these are from Waltzing Mouse Stamps), fold in half and staple over the top of the bag. I put a piece of clear acetate in with the trees too to stop them moving about in the packet.

Finally here's a reminder of those iconic Christmas makes - I'm sure you remember them all. There are links back to all these creations on my Christmas ideas Pinterest board. You'll find lots of other fabulous craftiness there too.  Don't you just LOVE Pinterest!!

Sunday, 6 December 2015

I know... its been WEEKS!!!

Where does the time go! As usual November has been a busy time for crafters and mine has been manic what with work, volunteering, caring, hospital visiting and crafting to fit in. I've attended three craft fairs in the last three weeks so please do accept my apologies for my long silence.  But now they're done I've a bit more time to get back to my own Christmas preparations and last night I did something I've wanted to do for ages - I learnt how to weave those pretty Danish paper hearts.

And as they say, practise makes perfect, so I make a lot! I bought a die from here a couple of years ago and did try to master the technique at the time but failed for some reason. But I hate to let anything beat me so I watched Eline's video again, pausing it on every move to keep up, and eventually, as with everything, it clicked.

I think where I went wrong last time was I tried to use cardstock instead of paper, but you can't manipulate card, even thin card.  However I did use the card cuts - I snipped them in half, did the weaving and glued the two halves back to back. You don't get the pocket of course but they make pretty  decorations to hang on the tree or in a window.

But of course the idea of the heart pockets it to put little treats in them. I had the old Christmas favourite Elizabeth Shaw Mint Crisps in mind but didn't find any locally. Do they still exist? However I found these Whitaker Mint Crisps at B&Ms - the company has been in existence in Skipton, Yorkshire since 1889 and I love an old family business that manages to keep on going in these times of the giant faceless multinational conglomerate - especially a company founded by a woman! That's her on the box - Ida Whitaker. They smell gorgeous and are packaged beautifully with lovely old photos of the Whitakers and staff on the boxes. I haven't eaten any yet but that dark chocolate and mint smell just oozes Christmas to me!

And the mint creams come in my favourite flavors of coffee and mint too. Well..... it is nearly Christmas!

I'm looking forward to getting back to blogging in the run up to the Big Day as I've got lots of other festive projects to share. Hope your preparations are all going to plan. Now back to mine!

Monday, 19 October 2015

Autumn in the mountains

We're enjoying a long weekend at our very favourite place away, Tyn y Simdde in the mountains of North Wales. I've blogged about it here and here on other visits so won't bore you by raving about the cottage again. Suffice to say it never disappoints and we regard it as "our" cottage as I just can't imagine anyone else being here - even the owners!!!!  (Who are lovely lovely people by the way.) However reading the visitors book I see I'm not the only one who thinks of this place as their own private paradise! ;o)

Anyway, we arrived on Friday night and I soon realised I had left the bag with my crafting supplies in it on the chair at home! Oh no! I'd planned to get a start on some Christmas gifts and had bought yarn especially for these few days.

However I knew there was a savior nearby in the form of Knit One, a tiny wool shop just down the road in Dolgellau. I could buy crochet hooks there and luckily I did have a couple of balls of cotton yarn in my bag so could get on with some snowflakes for Christmas fair bunting.  And as I was on my holidays I couldn't not treat myself to some yarn at the same time - could I?! I went for this beautiful lavender fingering I'd seen on the Knit One blog. Unbelievably its 450m of 100% YAK! and is so so soft. It will be my Christmas project for myself when everyone else's gifts are done and I can enjoy choosing a pattern.

We leave for home in the morning and as usual don't want to go! The weather has been dull but dry and very quiet, making for pale grey days and dark dark nights with no sun, moon or stars to be seen. Yesterday we took a trip to Harlech to see the castle and the new Caffi Castell Harlech I'd seen and heard so much about.

I may be biased towards my homeland, but I don't think there are many cafes in the world with better views - even on a dull day. And the cakes were to die for!!!  Its a very modern building sitting next to the 800 year old castle but I don't think it detracts from the drama of that looming front gate. In fact it rather compliments it as it would be difficult to resist buying a ticket and exploring those high walls when you've been sitting right next to them enjoying tea and cake!

If you are interested you can read more about this castle and other medieval castles in Wales here. You can see some spectacular photos taken on sunnier days too!!!!

One of the best things about Harlech Castle is being able to walk those high walls and on a dry day climb to the top of one of the turrets - if you have a head for heights and the puff that is! I took this photo from there and you can see the lovely sedum roof of the cafe way below.

Anyway, we've had a lovely few days here; seeing Titch explore the great outdoors again, feeding and watching the birds, and enjoying the autumn colours all around us. 

And yes, there was a hint of a sunset on the mountains on Saturday evening for a few minutes, though I have to confess to a slight photoshop enhancement colourwise!  My pocket camera is not the best in near darkness.

See you again next year Tyn y Simdde!

Sunday, 4 October 2015

World Card Making Day.............just!!!

Didn't realise it was so late in the day! However as a cardmaker I thought I really must post today.  I don't think I'm going to make it by midnight UK time, but as its an American celebration there's still time, right? And I have been cardmaking this week using some of my old favourite Christmas stamps and a fab new set from Clare at Waltzing Mouse stamps.

Clare comes up with a design I can't resist every year and this year its Scandi Doodle Christmas. I'm a real admirer of Scandinavian design, especially at Christmas. You can probably guess which are Waltzing Mouse stamps in this picture! There are some other brands though. The two little elves are Hero Arts Stamps by Lia and the All is Calm set is from Neat & Tangled's 2014 release. The other designs (Father Christmas, Christmas Pud and Reindeer) are so old I can't remember where they came from but are real favourites I use every year.

Well its now half past midnight here in the UK so I have missed the boat big style, but I'm going with US time - its still 3rd October there! As you can see its been stamping in the sunshine here - not very Christmassy but glorious just the same.

More like midsummer than Christmas, but with the added bonus of Autumn colour! Just fabulous!

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

I bought another gadget!!

I can't resist a gadget - its my Dad's fault, he had to have the latest gadget, but then in his day (sadly he died 20 years ago) there were no electronic knick knacks to fill pockets and bags. Dad bought gadgets for the garden and kitchen - a strimmer, toasted sandwich maker, soda stream, etc. I've inherited his love of little machines and when I saw this one on Pinterest I so wanted it! I do love the Knitting Nancy of my childhood and have a few - a couple of dolls and a red topped mushroom and I remember using the empty cotton reel with four nails in the top.  But I've been asked to do something for the charity shop's Halloween window display and had an idea for bunting made of long strings of knitting with small woolly pumpkins hanging down.  But I'll show these later. In the meantime I made these woolly bracelets.

You can knit SO FAST with this little gadget. It would have taken me days to knit strings long enough for two large shop windows with a Knitting Nancy but I did them in a couple of hours!  Wonderful! Bracelets take about 5 minutes and are just right for this cooler time of year. Here's one on me!

And I've tagged some bracelets for sale using my lovely new stamp from Clarise Crafts. Been wanting to order one for ages and when I saw there was already a design featuring a dandelion clock I knew it was meant for me - Plowmen's Clocks - get it?!

The knitter is quite easy to use once you've realised how it works. There's a video demo here using a different brand machine but it works in exactly the same way. It is quite mesmerising to watch the stitches forming.

I do have a couple of tips learned whilst trying to get started however:-

1. On the first turning of the handle make sure the yarn is hooked on only two opposite hooks.After that the yarn will be taken up by all four hooks.

2. Watch the yarn and turn slowly until you are sure the stitches are forming correctly - you can hear a little click as each stitch is pulled off the hook and through the stitch below. After that you can turn faster.

3. Attach the heavy weight as soon as you've got going to pull the knitting down - otherwise you'll end up with a big tangle at the top of the tube.

4. Make sure you unwind the yarn from the ball as you go and let it feed through without any tension. As soon as you feel any resistance through the handle unwind more yarn.

Happy French Knitty!!

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

September's here!

There's a purple haze on the hills which to me means Autumn is here.  But it seems Summer doesn't want to leave us just yet. The last two days have been beautiful but there is definitely an excuse to light a fire in the evening when that nip in the air is felt.

My colouring (yes, I'm still at it!) has taken on the colours of Autumn too. I know I'm going on and on about these Zig Clean Color pens but I'm so enjoying them. I love to make single layer cards and as these colours don't bleed through to the back I can get out my outline stamps again without having to add another layer to my little cards. And an imminent birthday has allowed me to add new colours to my collection as I asked all my family to buy me a few.

I've been experimenting with larger cards too - very brave of me! A friend asked for some birthday cards so I put together a little bundle for her and packaged them up in a recycled acetate box. I'd love to do more of these boxes for an upcoming craft fair but the only ones I've found for sale are very expensive - £15 for 25 - so I'm not sure its financially practical. They do look good though.  If anyone has found less expensive boxes (C6 size) in the UK I'd love to know where.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Shopping for Crafty Sorts

I've still got the colouring bug but this time the result has been more productive - birthday cards. I was itching to get my hands on the Garden Grow stamp set from Altenew's new release and it arrived in the UK last week courtesy of the wonderful Make the Day Special on-line store.  This sketchy informal style is perfect for the Kurtake watercolour pens I've been playing with recently. It really doesn't seem to matter if my colouring is not perfect - in fact the more roughly I apply the colour the better I like the result!

I've also enjoyed a bit of 'me time' stamping these tags (using Knit Bits stamp set from Papertrey Ink) for my friend Jan who has been celebrating a special anniversary this week. Jan's Mum bought this tiny wool shop 50 years ago as a going concern from a Mrs Ceri Griffiths who at the time just happened to be our elderly next door neighbour. My Mum remembers Mrs Griffiths gave up her shop as she was finding the tiny staircase to the first floor difficult to climb.


Here is Jan with our lady mayor and in the photo you might just be able to see inside this Aladdin's Cave of delights. If you knit or crochet the shop is a must-visit when in the area.  As you can see the place is absolutely stuffed full to overflowing with yarn and other knitty delights.
And as from this week there is even more reason to visit as Jan has opened a small patio/garden area to the side of the shop through persuading the Police Station next door to sell part of their garden.  Now visitors can sit and enjoy a little yarn therapy in this secret space.... and might even be offered the cup that cheers!!!

So I would like to congratulate Jan on her achievement in keeping this fabulous resource open for us local crafty sorts. No mean feat in these days of internet shopping and vast shopping parks. I'm sure there are precious few local businesses can boast 50 years in the same family and even longer in the same historic building.

I pinched these pics from a local facebook page and hope they don't mind.  And you can read a bit more about the shop here.


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