New Year’s Resolutions

Yeah I know, they’re a bit tragic but I’m doing it anyway.

  1. Read at least 34 books this year.  Easy peasy, I’m on Goodreads so I’ve set myself a reading challenge.  Click here to see how I’m doing.  Right now I’m doing fantastically well, I have read no books yet this year and I’m apparently bang on target.
  2. Lose 20kgs.  Thought I’d chuck in the traditional fat bum challenge.  Though my bum isn’t actually that fat I have spotted a bit of thigh bulge today that has to be got rid of immediately if not sooner.  Then once I’ve lost 20kgs I’ll still want to lose another 10.  Then perhaps another 5.  We’ll see. I work for a law firm and the cakeage is immense and I loathe exercising so this one is a bit challenging. I also hate exercise clothes and seriously object to any heel lower than a kitten heel.  Keep thinking about taking up running but I also very much dislike outdoorsiness. And running.
  3. Do more embroidery.  I very rarely sew. Its the one thing I absolutely love doing and yet I hardly ever do it because I used to hand sew for a living and now I don’t and it may sound pathetic but its quite emotional for me and I’m a bit frightened I’ve lost all my skills. So much as I’ve amassed a huge quantity of yarn and patterns and stuff I’m going to scale back the knitting and crochet (except for snoods and Gin Poodles of course) and get back into embroidery.  I had a small test piece framed a few years ago and the framers asked me if I’d like to make more for them to sell.  So I might not be a complete ham-fisted duffer.
  4. Stop buying mass-produced junk.  You know that ‘make it, don’t buy it’ idea floating around at Christmas? Well I’m going to stop buying things from major chains and only buy handmade wherever possible.  I’ve had my last clothes shopping spree in 2016 so from now on I’m going to make my own clothes, at least they’ll fit properly and I won’t bump into anyone else wearing the same thing. I can try out embroidery on my own cuffs and that too can’t I? I’ve got a sewing machine up in the loft and I expect that is where it will stay because I don’t really like sewing machines.  Hand made clothes last longer because they’re better and every stitch is beautiful. I’m not expecting anyone else to agree or even see the simple beauty of a white cotton tacking stitch or go into ecstasy over a button hole, but your loss and all that.
  5. New Etsy shop. Once I’ve got my fingers back to being able to pick up with a needle a single thread in any fabric without looking I’ll be able to produce work worth selling. These are not going to sit well with super kitsch knitted poodle bottle cosies or even lovely vintage style hair accessories so they’ll need their own space.

Five resolutions are enough.

6. Oh but hang on. Food. Must stop eating things that make me ill, like fried things, fatty things, dairy, and eggs.  A doctor told me years ago that the odd sensation of my throat going all thick and gagging for hours after eating isn’t really normal and should be avoided. Spose he might have a point.

7. Bugger it I’ve thought of another.  I have a half brother somewhere.  Not even sure what his name is but I should find him in case he’s the head of membership of a major ballet company or something and can get me a hefty discount.

 

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Today I’m Making… gold hair snood

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This morning I finished making my first ever metallic gold 1940s style hair snood.  Its something customers have been asking me about for quite a long time but I’ve never found a metallic yarn in a quantity that makes it possible to make a large snood without a join.

I always have a look in yarn shops for metallic gold but never have any luck, in the end I found this yarn online from the Turkish company, Ice.  Turkey seems to be a pretty enthusiastic knitting country, a lot of yarns seem to be produced there now and its good quality too. Ice make a lot of more unusual yarns, I’ve bought from them before and never been disappointed.

So, I have bought six balls, each one is just enough to make one large snood with a fair bit left over so not entirely enconomic  and the yarn is quite expensive so this batch of six will be the only ones I make.  If you like them and want one please do move quickly, they’re a very limited run.

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The other reason I won’t be making these regularly is the yarn is properly metallic, it’s gorgeous, it has a lovely sheen and teeny tiny little sequins that really catch the light so they’d be brilliant for performers but the yarn is quite stiff so it’s blimmin’ hard going on my hands to crochet with.  Course, this means the snoods are a bit stiff too, so if you have one of my usual acrylic numbers it won’t feel anything like that.

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I am going to keep looking for a softer metallic gold yarn, I think Ice do a lurex thread I can use alongside a ‘normal’ yarn but finding a base colour of a non metallic gold is also a bit of a challenge.  Don’t hold your breath because I’ve been keeping an eye out for gold for years so far.

A pair of sparkly snoods

Things have gone a little quiet over the Easter weekend for me on Etsy orders so it gives me a chance to let you see the progression of an order I have just posted off to America.

I’ll take this picture by picture and explain what is going on. The first picture is the yarn I use to make the sparkly snoods, the cone on the right is super fine metallic blue lurex which I crochet in with the usual blue yarn.  The lurex is a funny thing, it is really quite strong but feels very delicate as if it would snap at any moment.  In the background of this pic you can see some of my snood making yarn, that wicker unit is crammed to bursting with the rest of my snood yarn and a small amount of Gin Poodle yarn also on the coffee table are a couple of books I’ve read and haven’t decided what to do with yet, a train timetable and a book and map that I intend to make paper flowers from.

Next pic is the snoods nearly finished, the silver one is pretty much done apart from adding the elastic, the ribbon bow and sewing in a label, the sparkly blue one  isn’t quite finished, I’m putting a neat edge along the hair band here.

Next up is the book I am struggling to get anywhere with (The Last September by Elizabeth Bowen) which I’m reading in between making things.  I just can’t get into it, I don’t like any of the characters and don’t really care what happens to them. I’m a quarter of the way through it so surely by now I should care a bit? I’ve set myself a modest target of reading 26 books this year and I’m already three books behind schedule. Ms Bowen is not not helping. Sometimes I just give up on a book I’m this apathetic about but this is a book I picked up through Bookcrossing so I feel like I owe it to its previous owner to let them know what happens to it so I’ll slog on.

The last two pictures are the snoods pretty much ready to go sitting on my bony knees – all I’ve got to do now is wrap them up in tissue paper and add some complimentary sparkly hair grips to the vintage postcard and send them off.  The postcard is just over 100 years old, I bought a job lot of them and while they last I’ll use them as my notepaper or hairgrip holders in all my orders.  This one shows Gertie Gitana who was a music hall actress also known as The Staffordshire Cinderella.  This one was written on and posted, nothing exciting though, just some bloke Dave asking after his mate Jim and saying he’ll be home soon because they expect to be sent off to France soon.  I wonder if he was a soldier in the First World War but he doesn’t say so expressly. If they are blank I usually write a message on the back but if they’ve been used I like to keep them as they are and just pop one in the package as a nice surprise. Not that it will be much of a surprise if the customer reads this post before the package arrives.

 

 

Today I’m Making… 1940s style Ribbon Snoods

Today I’ve finished making two snoods that might already have a buyer, 2016 has been lucky for me already, with an order every day so far.  If things continue like this it will be astounding.

This red is gorgeous, its a nice rich lipstick shade, by that I mean it has blue undertones which I find is the most flattering type of red.

    

I have been crocheting these snoods for about ten years now, a whole decade! Its a bit of a shock to realise it has been that long. My first ones were made following an original 1940’s pattern to the T but I wasn’t overly keen on the fit so I reworked the pattern until it gave me the fit I was looking for.

I have fine hair so the standard size was too baggy on me and didn’t look great so I tweaked the pattern again to give three sizes:

Short – for bob length hair off the shoulder
Medium – for hair down to the shoulders but not lower than the bottom of shoulder blades.
Long – hair is below shoulder length

The red and purple ones shown here are both large.  When it comes to hair, one size definitely does not fit all.

This aubergine colour was quite hard to track down, I do have another chalkier shade of purple in stock and one that is quite bright too in a cotton.

    

A saggy baggy snood does not look good at all and not all of us are good at fiddling about with padding and hair pieces so why bother.

I also did away with the traditional drawstring ribbon to gather it up because I think that is the one thing almost guaranteed to make it ping off the back of your head and besides it makes getting it on way to fiddly.

So my snoods have elastic running around them which makes them much easier to get on and you can still have a ribbon bow at the top.

It was at this point in the process that another Etsy seller based in America bought a couple of my snoods in different sizes and by an amazing co-incidence they now sell snoods that look quite similar to mine. Best of luck to her and her karma, she sells lots of them but I still believe mine are the better fit and quality, my prices are better too.  I do think it was more than a bit cheeky of her to so flagrantly copy mine but it happens.

In some ways I would like to sell more of them but then would I still enjoy making them so much if I was under pressure to get them done? I have tried teaching other people to make them for me to build up my stock but I am very very picky about quality control and I’ve never found anyone who can make them to a standard I find acceptable.

What I really enjoy is the personal contact I have with a lot of my customers.  Take a look at my feedback on Etsy if you have time and you’ll see some lovely reviews and some utterly gorgeous photos from customers.

Now all I need is to track down a good metallic gold yarn, and that’s a quest I’ve been on for years and years.

The Make It Show, Farnborough 2015

I have had a great day at the Make It Show at Farnborough Airport (yes, there is an airport at Farnborough and its quite busy, though lord knows who feels the need to fly in to Farnborough).  This is turning into my favourite mixed craft show of the year, I swear it gets better every year.  Its on tomorrow too if you fancy it – £9.50 entry and there are quite a few stalls doing free or super-cheap informal workshops so well worth the ticket price. http://make-it.org.uk/home.php  

Personally I bought a 3 day ticket for £15 in advance but that option of course isn’t open to you but I’m giving you the opportunity to marvel at my thriftiness for free.

The first thing I did was walk the whole show just to scope it out.  As usual there is a huge seating area with the usual catering (I’m not a fan, its particularly rubbish for veggies or anyone who fancies something healthy but that’s pretty much the deal at all of them) but they’re quite happy for you to bring your own.  They have staff patrolling collecting rubbish so its always tidy enough.  TONS of seating.  Very unusual for a craft fair and I hope they continue to stick with this policy in coming years.  The loos up at the catering end get busy but they’re fine.  At the other end of the hall behind the workshop area there are chemical loos.  I won’t go into details but expect festival conditions.  This is several shades beyond my idea of acceptable.

The variety of stalls gets better every year. There is quite a lot of card making but also knitting, crochet, UK yarns, kits, beading, art, lighting, storage, food, artisan brewery (See the GIN!!), patchwork, embroidery, cross stitch, stamping, oh blimey so much I’m sure I’ve missed out a ton of stuff.

My first purchase was from Made by Ewe. She has knitting and crochet kits, hand dyed yarn and knitting supplies like knitting and crochet needles. She also had a lovely kit to make a little fox wearing a pirate jumper that she designed because she keeps chickens.

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To be honest I wasn’t intending to buy anything on my first walk round I was just scoping but then I saw a really nice shawl/scarf and noticed it was made from that ladder yarn I hate.  Well, my local knitting club has a yearly competition and this year the theme is to make something with ladder yarn.  I wasn’t going to play because I hate novelty yarns and I’m still annoyed that I didn’t win last year after I made a gorgeous cuff with knitted in beads (the theme was Knitting with Beads) and didn’t even get placed.  The woman that won entered a completely repulsive felted bag that she’d tied some beads on to, and the same with the 2nd and 3rd place. Horrible work and the beads were not knitted in.  I’m still put out.  I mean I don’t want to bang on about it but I was robbed. ROBBED I TELL YOU.  So Mrs Made by Ewe had this lovely kit for less than a tenner, you get the yarn, pattern and a big chunky crochet hook with a ceramic bead on the end and I definitely didn’t already own one of those.

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I made a bit of a start on it, to be fair it looks like sort of chain mail g-string at the moment but I’m sure it will be divine when its finished.  I’m going to add some skull beads to stop it being too twee.  You’ll see more of those later.  I’m taking home the prize this year or that local knitting group is going to have recounts until I do.

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In the background you will see the back of the bag for life I also bought on this stand.  Very fine thing it is too, I now have enough bags for life to turn Buddhist.

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Next up I went to Anita’s Beads. Where is Anita? Has anyone ever met Anita or is the nice bloke who runs it Anita?  The woman ahead of me in the queue to pay had bought literally tons of stuff, she’s bought so much that I lost all shopping guilt and added some crystals to my skull beads.

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I bought a couple of rings from him too, I really like polished semi-precious gemstone rings, they’re so cheap at only a pound each. What I’m going to do is use these to weigh the shawlly wrap thing I’m making with the ladder yarn rather than tassels.

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The second picture looks like I have sausage fingers, let me assure you my fingers are mere chipolatas, not bangers.

Last year I tried really hard to get to the Beaker Buttons stand to buy a Dorset buttons kit but it was so popular I couldn’t get near it, this year she has a bigger stand and I managed to get in at a quiet moment and have a bit of a chat.  She’s adorable. Really friendly and knowledgeble about the history of Dorset buttons, she also dyes her own yarn and spins. They do workshops and drop in sessions at her shop and I wish she was nearer to me.  You know one of those people that you instantly want to go to the pub with?

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At the end I did a workshop with the excellent Riverside Beads. I did a kumihimo workshop with them last year and it was so well done I was happy as larry when I saw they were doing workshops again this year.

I made this!

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Tell me that’s not fantastic?  They do loads of workshops, they’re based in Peterborough so well worth a visit if you find yourself nearby.  This only took an hour to do, I swear you could do it faster.  They sell a kit for only £8.  They ask you not to share the pattern but they are happy for you to sell any you make and only ask you to donate some of the money to The British Legion. She said they make loads of them in November and donate them to the Legion.  You could use the same principle to make other flowers but the poppy is really lovely.  So easy to do too.

I’m going back tomorrow to have a go at Zentangling, some embroidery and to have a massive chocolate and Bailey’s cookie.

Today I’m Making – reuseable cotton make-up remover pads

I cannot remember who directed me to it but an absolute age ago I found this blog giving a pattern to make your own  make-up remover pads by What You Sow. See below for a link to the pattern.  Its a rainy old Easter Sunday so not much to do here but housework and crochet while the Mister gently snoozes in front of Touring Cars on the telly.

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I’ve made a few of these for personal use now and they come out really well in the wash, I made them all in white cotton but one of them has gradually gone a nice pale blue in the wash.  I love them, cotton pads are so wasteful, you have to use them to take off nail varnish but there isn’t really any need to use them for your make up when you can have these little fellers.

20140420_115332 20140420_115221[1]I use them to take off all types of make-up, they’re great for taking off eye make up as well as for foundation. I use them with toner too and I can’t say I’ve had any problems with them, they’re not rough on your skin but it is a different feel to cotton wool pads, these are much chunkier and they have the advantage of not shedding fluff all over the place.

I am also a big fan of the Dettol anti-bacterial additive that you put in the washing machine (£4.60 from Waitrose) if you’re worried about them festering bugs and bacterial this stuff will sort it out – its also fantastic to use on sportswear because it stops it getting whiffy as it ages.

If you don’t crochet you can buy ready made cotton pads from her here: http://www.whatyousow.co.uk/product/reusable-eye-makeup-remover-pads

She’s on Etsy too, you get five for £9.95 and she does nice muted colours too.

 

 

1940s style snood – Customer photos

Whenever I sell a snood in my Etsy shop I send out a message to the buyer where I ask them to send me a pic or two of them wearing it to include in my blog.  Well, Claire kindly responded with quite a few really good ones and I’m sorry to say its taken me months and months to get around to blogging them because I am utterly rubbish at updating my blog.

Its a double faux pas because she looks so good in them!

This is Claire with her beautiful hair, that I envy so much, before adorning her snood.

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Now here she is wearing a medium cotton snood, I think this before and after really helps if you want to gauge the fit.

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We’re not leaving it there though, because she does something I’ve frankly not seen enough of.  The snood/hat combination is such a winner and she does it very well indeed.

Here is a gorgeous pillbox with a cream acrylic snood. The acrylic snoods are quite a bit thicker than the cotton ones but they still only weigh about 30g so they shouldn’t drag off the back of your head. I like the way the hat brings out her blue eyes. Is the hat navy or black?  Note to self – buy more navy.

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Next up a black veiled pillbox with the grey cotton snood.

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Then this absolutely dreamy brown velvet hairpiece with a brown acrylic snood, the yarn thicknesses vary a bit from colour to colour but if you’re au fait with yarn weights the acrylics are all in the 4ply range.

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These hats are all original vintage pieces of Claire’s collection.  I love this one so much I have to put in three more pics…

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Then last up we have this little furry feller worn again with that versatile brown snood.  Image

Look at the fantastic ribbon detail at the back!

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Jealous!