Friday, 27 December 2013

A Return and a New Hobby

I've had a bit of an unexpected hiatus from the blog the past few months. In all honesty I haven't really found my rhythm with it yet - it took me a while to get into a comfortable pattern with my book blog when I first started, and there's been a lot going on with everything else in my life at the moment, so I'm not going to feel too bad, but 2014 will be the year I will start trying to run this blog properly.

In keeping with that, I have a new hobby to blog about! As you may or may not know, I am already a knitter and delight in making cool and quirky toys, homewares and other bits and bobs, but I've also always been a lover of fabric. I don't buy an awful lot of it because it's quite pricey, but I've been (very slowly) making a patchwork quilt since the age of about 11, and this Christmas my aunty gave my baby son a quilt she has made which is just so beautiful it's inspired me.

Horrendous photography skills, I know. I really need to work on those next year, but the quilt itself is beautiful isn't it? And so warm :-) Quilts like this are the reason I've always wanted to be able to quilt, it's such a useful and beautiful skill to have. This morning we just lay the quilt across the middle of the living room and Benji played on it and he kept snuggling into it and lying down, it was the cutest. It brightened up the whole room! 

The second reason to choose now as the moment to start quilting is some of the Christmas presents I received. 

My parents and grandparents are responsible for the quilting kit, which contains a cutting mat, a rotary cutter and a ruler, and The Quilters Bible because they know me well and know that I will never attempt a new skill without having a book or two on the subject. It's difficult to know where to start, though, so I've also been browsing the internet for some simple quilt patterns and some inspiring blogs to read. So far I've found Diary of a Quilter, which I love and am finding really useful, and I like the look of this Lightning Fast Mini Quilt and also this Summer Breeze Steps Quilt, but I've only just started to look so I'm sure I'll find loads more! If anybody has any blog, book or pattern recommendations, all would be gratefully received!

Friday, 27 September 2013

UK Crafter of the Week #6

This weeks' UK Crafter of the Week feature is running late! My apologies to our fabulous subject as she should have been up on Monday but the week has kind of got away from me!

This week I'm veering away from the textiley focus of the past few weeks and spotlighting Lynn Adams Illustration. Personally, I am a huge fan of illustration as an art form, and stylistically I'd often rather look at it than fine art. 

Photo: a day late with this week's #twoodle - used the words elephant and pillow :)
To kick us off, and so you can see exactly what I mean, how cute is this guy? :-) I'm in love!

Lynn Adams has been painting for over 30 years, starting at the age of 16 and selling her first animal portrait for £20. However despite her obvious talent, she has never had art as her main job. As a twice widowed mother of seven she has been a press photographer, aid worker and primary school teacher over the years, and has recently had her illustrations published in Amelia and the Elf by Si Wall (which you can buy here, and it looks gorgeous), a job she got through the beauteous bounty of Facebook!

A couple of years ago she restarted art by studying a Foundation Degree in Art and Design at West Notts College, to give her something to do after her youngest child started school, and is now working on a couple of her own illustrated children's books which sound great; one about a confused sheep and one about a misunderstood dragon. 

Lynn's time as a teacher has helped to inspire her love of children's books and her dream job would be to illustrate books full time. I'd read them! She is also currently working on commissions for weddings, pets and pictures for children's rooms. Once my son outgrows his Winnie the Pooh phase I may very well be calling on Lynn for one of her fab illustrations for his bedroom! 

Check out Lynn's work on facebook and on her website, 

If you're interested in being featured as a UK Crafter of the Week, which includes being listed in my directory, please contact me at caveofcraftedwonders(at)gmail(dot)com. 

Monday, 16 September 2013

UK Crafter of the Week #5

This week for UK Crafter of the week we are continuing with the textile art theme. This weeks' crafter runs an Etsy shop and Facebook page and is brilliant at a craft that I have absolutely no idea about: needlefelting. 

Madame Craig named her shop after herself. She is a teacher in a Waldorf school in Edinburgh, and as she is French this is what her pupils and their parents call her. Personally (and this may be because I'm stupid but I prefer to think it's just because I've previously had to have no in depth knowledge of educational systems) I had no idea what a Waldorf school was, so I did some research. Here's what I found, just in case any of you are as clueless as me. Basically it seems like it's quality over quantity, with the Waldorf/Steiner system based around three stages of child development and places a big influence on the role of imagination in learning. According to Wikipedia (which was all know is a reliable source of definitely factual information..) 
The educational philosophy's overarching goal is to develop freemorally responsible, and integrated individuals equipped with a high degree of social competence. Teachers generally useformative (qualitative) rather than summative (quantitative) assessment methods, particularly in the pre-adolescent years. The schools have a high degree of autonomy to decide how best to construct their curricula and govern themselves
It sounds great!

Before the recession, Madame Craig was a designer in an architecture practice, and now works as an art & craft teacher where she also teaches technical drawing. She began the teacher training course at the Steiner school in Edinburgh after her children started there, and found herself naturally attracted to Waldorf crafts and colours, as you can see in her gorgeous Etsy shop, set up in 2010. 

Waldorf Math Gnomes, Educational Toy, Math, ,Home schooling, Waldorf School, finger puppet

She works mostly with needle felting, but also sometimes nuno felt and creates mainly things for; educational toys, storybook figures, wildlife animals and whatever else she is inspired by at the time! You can find her on Etsy and Facebook

The Snowman and his Snowdog - Wool Needle Felt Miniature by Madame Craig    
All pictures courtesy of Madame Craig.

To be featured as a UK Crafter of the Week, please contact caveofcraftedwonders(at)gmail(dot)com. 

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Winter Wardrobe

This time last year I was heavily pregnant and also not proficient enough at knitting to even begin to think about using it to kit my family out for winter. This year our little boy is nearly one, and while he is pulling himself up on everything and generally using me as a climbing frame, I'm now a much more able, confident knitter and so I thought instead of going out and buying cheap, rubbishy jumpers, hats, gloves and scarves which will last five minutes, why not make them instead? Also, it's fun!

I've cast on a jumper for the baby today, which is a pattern I've been wanting to make for a while now. (This one, if you're interested) and so far it looks like this:

The pattern is super cute and has patches which button onto the front with different animals on them :-) I'm going to make a sheep first because Benji really enjoys the noise sheeps make. I would have made all four shown in the pattern, but I decided that I should extend my 'shop local, shop independent, shop handmade' motto into yarn shopping and procured the yarn for this jumper (Jenny Watson Babysoft Double Knitting in various colours for those who are interested), and honestly I couldn't afford enough colours for all the patches! The yarn is gorgeous to knit with though, and really soft so I'm happy and I hope Benji will be too once it's done!

I get this warm fuzzy feeling when I think about winter knits, and honestly we all seem to lose hats/gloves/scarves quicker than I can produce them! Benji needs a new pair of mittens as the ones my Aunt knitted him last year were for teeny baby hands, not 1 year olds! He also needs some booties as he's not walking yet so I don't want to put him into hard soled shoes but his feet will get cold otherwise. These are my thoughts (link to Ravelry patterns in the photo credit if anyone wants to give them a go! They're all free patterns)
            photo credit & pattern here

                                                                                         photo credit & pattern here

I need a hat, and the hubby need gloves and I desperately need to finish the jumper I started for myself last winter.... I recently bought the pattern for this hat and made one as a gift. It's really cosy and since I bought 3 balls of  they yarn I used on Hobbycraft's '3 for 2' and it only uses 1 and a bit, I think I might make myself one as well!

photo credit & pattern download here

Last year I made my husband a gorgeous, soft, warm, blue scarf. He left it on the train and was upset about it for weeks. This year I really want to make him this, as he's a Dr Who nut and would love it! It remains to be seen whether I can finance purchasing all of those colours though, as bills/car tax/service are imminently due so we will see! 

                   photo credit & pattern here
                                                                                         photo credit & pattern here

There are tons of other things I want to make, but I also have three craft fairs coming up before Christmas and I desperately have to finish my advent calendar in the next week! If you're interested, it will be up on my Facebook page and Etsy shop in the next week or two and will be available filled with sweets, beaded Christmas decorations or teabags of your choice :-) Preliminary pictures are already up on Facebook and I'll only be able to make a limited number so get your requests in quickly!

What are your winter knitting plans? :-) 

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

UK Crafter of the Week #4

Home quote cushion pillow, applique and embroidery on lilac cotton.
This week's UK Crafter of the week makes some of my most coveted things. Her cushions are just amazing and her hand embroidery leaves me speechless. This post will contain a fair amount of pictures, you have been warned.

The owner of JAMCrafts is named Jessica and the company is named after her initials. Like so many of us, she has been crafting since she was a child, and like many of the crafters I've been featuring so far, her items are amazingly unique. After studying Art and Design, she gained her BA(Hons) in Textile Design in 2003 and has been making beautiful things ever since. 

Personally I sort of think that there are too many cushion covers around at the moment, but having said that I think that JAMCrafts makes some of the most beautiful cushion covers that I've ever seen, and if I had one in my house I would be incredibly happy. Jessica designs her cushions by drawing with thread on the material, and to this end she uses mostly hand embroidery, and an amazing attention to detail enhanced by techniques like applique and beading. 

Alice in wonderland themed pillow cushion, patchwork fabrics with applique and hand embroidery.

This cushion was the reason that I desperately wanted to do a feature on JAMCrafts, as Alice in Wonderland is one of my favourite books, and the Johnny Depp/Tim Burton movie is beautiful and amazing, as is this cushion. A lot of Jessica's commissions are from famous children's books, which she definitely puts her own unique spin on, and as a literature enthusiast I don't think I will ever stop telling people how beautiful her work is! She likes anything cute and cuddly, and the majority of her work has a face as she likes to give it character. 

About her current work and inspiration, Jessica has this to say: 
I'm currently working on something very different, a personal project, an embroidered jacket, I didn't make the jacket (not my forte) I plan to cover the surface fabric of the jacket with embroidery, found objects, vintage beads and buttons, messages and much more.
I was inspired after meeting the Artist Basia Zarzycka she's a fantastic artist/designer who really works from the heart freely without worry, putting herself into every piece this is how I would like to be, perhaps a little less commercial although I still love interpreting funny characters like Alice in wonderland 
And now I'm just going to put up a load of pictures of JAMCrafts products, because they speak more about inspiration and talent than I ever could!



All pictures property of JAMCrafts

You can find JAMCrafts online on:
Facebook: :
As yet unfinished website:

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

UK Crafter of the Week #3

There was going to be a post in between features this week. I even started writing it, but then got distracted by something else, you know how it goes! Anyway, here we are with another edition of UK Crafter of the Week, originated at Pink Flamingo Handcrafting (you can see her Crafter of the Week by clicking here).

This week is the turn of another Etsy find, Rosie Ann Shop, makers of gorgeous aprons of all sorts. Like so many of us, Rosie has been crafting since she was young, and (unlike me!) she is brilliant at sewing! Her Etsy and Folksy shops mostly feature gorgeous aprons in beautiful bright colours but she also enjoys making dresses, bags and brooches.

Retro apron with bow, half circle skirt, vintage patchwork style pattern. 1950s inspired, fully lined.

Here's what Rosie has to say about her business:

I am Rosie, the owner of a little apron shop called Rosie Ann Shop. I'm a Sheffield based mum with 2 children who keep me on my toes! My daughter is 4 and will start school this year and my youngest is a little boy who is 14 months old..

My passion and inspiration for colours, fabrics and vintage designs developed when I studied fashion in London, and worked in Covent Garden, Shoreditch and Camden. My interests in vintage fashion led me to work in Absolute Vintage, just off Brick Lane and later saw me running my own shop at Camden Stables Market. I loved being immersed in an environment of quirky fashion, especially at the beginning of the resurgence in vintage fashion. After leaving London, and with my mind full of inspiration from my time working in fashion in London, I started RosieAnnShop! My love for baking, and particular fancy for 1950s designs are major inspirations for my work.

I take a great pride in my designs and in the quality of my aprons, which I hope that you will see when you take a trip to RosieAnnShop online. 

I've been wanting one of her aprons for a really long time, and I'm back at work next month so that may be the moment! Here are some of her lovely creations, and you can visit RosieAnnShop at Etsy or Folksy

Small Retro Dress, £24. Available from Etsy.

Children's apron, £12.50. Available in various colours from Etsy. 

Half apron, £14. Available in various colours from Folksy.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

UK Crafter of the Week #2 - LuniqueUK

You might see some similarities between this week’s featured crafter and last week’s, despite the massive difference in what they actually make. Mel Smith Designs of last week, is a designer of bright, often floral inspired stationery, phone cases and homewares, and this week’s crafter, Lucy of LuniqueUK, makes jewellery, cushion covers, and decoupaged jewellery boxes, but both of their creations are bright and uplifting. All of the crafters showcased in this feature are people whose items make me happy to browse through. I don’t think a week goes by without me finding something of theirs I would love to own, and I’m a big fan of the colourful. We live in a flat with white walls at the moment and aren't allowed to paint and I have to keep putting up pictures and decorating with pretty, bright things, or I’d go mad.

Anyway, so Lucy runs LuniqueUK on Etsy, and she is passionate about conservation.  10% of her profits are donated to Born Free, a charity which aims to keep wildlife in the wild while protecting endangered species and preventing animal suffering, and which you can find out more about here, and I really admire that she’s done this. I’ve been thinking about donating a percentage of profits from my new line to CLIC Sargent, and reading stories from other crafters who do this makes me think it would be a great idea.

Swarovski crystals cluster earrings Sterling silver - Mini Sea Shower MADE TO ORDER

Lucy has been crafting since she was little, and has always been interested in paper crafts, model making, and sewing, and has recently got into jewellery making. Like me, she’s the kind of person who can’t just sit and watch TV without having something to do with her hands! She created her own unique product; stamp lamps, glass jars covered with stamps which hold a tealight and which are bet are absolutely beautiful when the light shines through the various coloured stamps. 

Stamp Lamp - upcycled glass jar tealight candle holder OOAK - large green

One of my favourite things about browsing Lucy's shop is that her range of products is so eclectic. As well as jewellery and stamp lamps, she also has a wide range of one-off cushion covers, and various decoupaged jewellery boxes, all of which are beautifully bright and cheerful and reflect her inspirations of nature and the elements. 

Isn't this beautiful? You can find Lucy on Etsy and Facebook, and visit the Born Free website here. All images are courtesy of her Etsy shop.