Thursday, 27 December 2012

Reusing my Christmas cards

Christmas clutter makes me itch to have a sort out and a tidy up. I've picked out a couple of cards from the ones on display in our living room to help me on my way...

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Last call for posting: 18 December

The last day recommended for posting is fast looming so please do place an order now if you want to add my tags to your Christmas packages or treat yourself or a friend to a zine or two.  By far my best seller this year has been my red and white snowflake tags, which will be seen on more than 250 presents this year - how lovely to think of them under so many different trees, from Paisley to Australia - thank you.

I'm including a little thank you gift from my top secret 2013 collection for all purchases from my Etsy shop between now and the New Year - I'll be able to visit the post office any day of the week as I've taken quite a bit of time off my day job, so if it's not time critical, you can still place an order.  I will have quite patchy internet access from 21 - 23 December due to family commitments, but will be checking my emails every few hours when I get the chance.  In terms of next year, I have lots of ideas percolating and will be focusing on tags, stickers and cards in my shop, as well as my bespoke envelope service for brides, photographers or stationery aficionados.  Quite often I'll receive an email or message via Etsy asking if I can make a similar envelope to those I have in stock but in a particular size or colour - well the answer is always 'yes!'.  

Any early bird brides should contact me now as I can get a great deals on paper during the winter sales and keep my already reasonable prices low.  It also means that I can better schedule my workload so that you have your envelopes whenever you need them, and any lucky ladies who receive last minute proposals can usually be accommodated too.  Just thinking of all those Christmas Day and New Year's proposals on the horizon is making me feel all mushy.

If I'm not back before Christmas, I hope you all have a lovely time when it arrives!

Monday, 3 December 2012

Facebook giveaway

Track me down on facebook to win a set of these new snowflake stickers.  They are very limited edition and look great on tags, parcels, presents, notebooks, envelopes, children, furniture, and much much more.  The draw closes tomorrow at 8pm UK time, and is open to ALL THE WORLD so don't feel left out.

Speaking of tags, there are some new ones in the shop here and here.  A great excuse to whip out the gold sharpie, I think!

Is everyone else enjoying the festive crunch of ice on the pavements?  We have snow on the hills and Santa is now installed in a grotto at a nearby shopping centre, so it feels like Christmas is definitely on the way...

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

While we're talking about books...

I just found this blog post and thought - what a great idea!

Photo credit: Scottish Book Trust
The Scottish Book Sculptor has been back, and she has been busy.  This one (Whisky Galore) was found by a Katy, lucky girl.  Read all about it at the Scottish Book Trust.  Apparently Saturday is take your child to a bookshop day, but what made me buy some books this week was hearing the rhyme 'something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read' which has pretty much summed up my approach to gifts this Christmas.  Hurray!  If only they could fit 'something to eat' in that rhyme, too...

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

A visit to Hay on Wye

As an avid reader, I've wanted to make a pilgrimage to Hay for a long time.  When I finally made it there last week, I wasn't disappointed, although making the rounds of a town filled with bookshops, traditional grocers, fancy cafes and lovely-little-thing-shops with a 2 year old who is only interested in bunnies or ice cream is quite the challenge.

So I don't have many photos but I do have this fantastic scan of the front of the local tourist guide map.  Hay is a gorgeous little village, totally walkable, and in the off-season, full of bargainous books to be had.  One shop I visited even gave me two free children's books for Amelia when I bought just the one.

I also picked up the funniest book ever, which gives details on how to spend $500 a day in New York before lunch - it's from the year I was born and shows you how to live the high life on a high-end budget.  Ironically, it cost me 50p into an honesty box in the grounds of Hay Castle.  If only I'd known about this book before I completed my New York reads zine.  Ah well, Volume 2, anyone?

Friday, 23 November 2012

New zine update!

If you're friends with me on Facebook, you'll know I've been working on a new zine for a while, and I've been putting the finishing touches to it over the last week or so.

I gave myself the unofficial deadline of a friend's New York wedding, which tied in nicely with the theme of my new zine.  Then that deadline slipped slightly, and I got a bit caught up in the will they/won't they drama of Hurricane Sandy, which made landfall on the day of the wedding, which had been arranged to take place in Central Park.  After a couple of days of frantic re-arranging, it eventually took place on the steps of the Met - both glamorous and romantic, and the photos were stunning.

So when I attended the post-wedding celebration party in Cardiff earlier this week, that became my absolute latest deadline and I only missed it by a few days...

Unusually, for someone who studied English Literature to Masters level, I never read much American literature until I actually lived there.  Now whenever I want to get in that New York state of mind, I just crack open one of my favourite novels, travel guides or history books, and I wanted to share them with people who love them as much as I do, or love the city, or the five boroughs or the whole entire state and want to be transported there every now and again.

For a limited time, a PDF version is available for a bargain $1, and the printed version is available to pre-order for $3.  First copies will ship on Monday, and are available exclusively in the girlindustries etsy shop.  The zine is 40 pages long, in black and white with a limited edition colour front cover.  It's A6 size, so handy to travel with or to pop in a Christmas stocking.  I've tried to write about the books in a way that introduces them, gives you an idea of what they are about and also a bit about why I love them so much and chose to include them in the zine, but WITH NO SPOILERS.

Now for the next project, watch this space...

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Where is November going?

A quick update as November seems to be whizzing by!

Folksy news: I am updating my folksy shop today with a small range of gift wrapping essentials for the festive period.  Go and take a look!

Amazon news:  I contributed a pattern for handmade gloves (that's them, in the bottom right hand corner of the image above!) to Alison McNicol's new book, Learn to Knit.  You can browse user photos, read reviews and buy your copy here (this is not an affiliate link, but only because I'm a bit pushed for time to learn how to do them!).  After having received a copy myself, I can confirm that the projects in it are super-straightforward for learners of all ages, and go way beyond your usual scarves and blanket squares learn to knit projects.  Handknit robot, anyone?

Etsy news:  Well, not strictly Etsy news, but my jolly red and white gift tags (which are available to buy here) have been featured on UK Handmade in their Christmas Showcase, and also on Cuteable, so go and have a browse of both and check out the fantastic homemade gifts and needful things for your festive home which are on offer this year.

Zine news:  I've been working on a new zine about my favourite books, which is very very nearly ready.  It was meant to be a wedding gift for two of my friends who also love books (although, doesn't everyone?) and  they got married last week at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, after their Central Park wedding was hurricaned off.  So we are off to see them next week (not in New York, unfortunately) and I am determined to give them their present in person.

More zine news, and it's sad news this time.  Marceline has decided to put Pushpin on hold for the forseeable future.  Hopefully it's a temporary hold, but in the meantime, do please go and have a look at some of the fantastic zines you can buy over there.  She stocks all of the Answers on a Postcard series, of course, but I can also strongly recommend work by Neil Slorance, Sarah Royal and of course, everything by Marceline herself is a great read.  She will continue to blog about her love of zines at Pushpin, and hopefully the shop will be back sooner rather than later.

Shipping news: I'm off on my holidays next week, so won't be able to post anything from Friday 16 to Friday 23 November, but I will keep my shops open and answer all emails, convos, messages etc while I'm away.  Last international shipping dates for Christmas arrivals are as follows, so please order early to avoid disappointment.

Wednesday 5 DecemberAsia, Australia, Far East (including Japan), New Zealand
Friday 7 DecemberAfrica, Caribbean, Central America, Middle East and South America
Monday 10 DecemberCanada, Eastern Europe and USA
Wednesday 12 DecemberWestern Europe

If you're in the UK, you have a little bit longer, until 20th December at the absolute latest.  If you want to place an order but aren't fussed about waiting a bit longer, my shops will remain open throughout the Christmas and New Year period, and I'll be making trips to the Post Office on days when it's open.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

London, Paris, New York

I'm armchair travelling quite a bit at the moment, courtesy of teh internets.  I am obsessed with urban exploration, despite not having the actual cojones to do any of it myself.  I have particularly admired the Turbozutek guys who broke into Glasgow zoo a few months after it closed down and accidentally found out they were yet to evacuate all the tigers.  Unfortunately those photos are long gone off the internet, but there are more from around Glasgow, and the zoo, found here.

Anyway, here is some exploration of the places you don't usually see, or times long gone, of three of my favourite cities:


Saturday, 20 October 2012

Because I need another project in my life...

I am so in two minds about this.  Firstly, this house needs a lot of work.  It has no roof.  It has bits missing off the front that I don't even know the name of.  Mullions?  Pretend wooden stonemasonry?  Window surrounds?  Goodness knows.

It has no innards and the door doesn't shut properly.  And as we're coming up for Hallowe'en, I can't help but notice that it has serious potential to be a bit, um, creepy.

If I put furniture in it I am going to have to clean it.  Do I really need that?

But then I think how much I would have loved one of these as a little girl and how grateful I am that a friend passed it on for my little girl to use once her own little girls were too grown up for it.  And I looked on Pinterest and people have pinned the heck out of the internet finding lovely little things to go in lovely little houses.  And look at this, I nearly started shopping...

But do I really have the time to do up another house when my own real house could benefit from a little TLC?  Decisions, decisions...

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Day in the life roundup

More to follow, but here's your starter for ten...




Bohemia Skye (who lives near my mum, hello!)

Kate Marsden

Some days in the life which are nothing to do with us, but sound interesting all the same (thanks Mr Google):


Operating theatre

The news

Day in the Life 15th October 2012

The husband has his first day in the new job, and we are down to one car, which is going to make mornings interesting, going forward. To ease us into it, I have taken the day off work and am staying home to sort my accounts and to have a bit of a child-free potter and a rest. Having done a big clean and tidy of the house and three loads of washing yesterday, I am looking forward to having some time all to myself. I start by bundling the family out of the house, which goes well until we realise about the forgotten supply of nappies.
My office for the morning

Panic over, I put my feet up with a coffee and get to work on the sleeves of the cardigan I’m working on, while catching up on Saturday’s episode of The Thick of It via iPlayer. I decide to grab a box of stuff from the craft room and work through it while watching a film. I can’t find a film I like the sound of (your days are numbered, BT Vision) and since they took HBO away, the box sets available are a bit rubbish, too. I spy Nighty Night and remember that I’ve forgotten most of it. I stick it on and soon remember that Rebecca Front is in this too. Basically playing the same character. Hey ho. As the recycling collection is due today, I have picked up my overflowing tub of wallpaper offcuts and my circle sticker punch and get to work.

Such an improvement, and a binful of unusable remnants can go off to the recycling plant. I really am starting to make a dent in the craft room these days. This is a good thing.
I realise that it’s actually a lovely sunny day outside, and stick another wash on – I can see the bottom of the washing basket, hurray – and decide to photograph the new products I made yesterday. A small range of address labels/bookplates/gift tag stickers upcycled from some envelopes and offcuts of packing paper I located while tidying the kitchen. Find them in the shop very soon!  I’m now on my 3rd episode of Nighty Night and haven’t done anything to do with my accounts.
In the interests of getting more stuff in the recycling bin, I order up a delivery of meals from Hello Fresh so I can put Saturday’s newspaper (where I’d seen it advertised) in the bin. Hello Fresh sends me a confirmation email with a code for friends to get £20 off their first order, which in turn will give me credits towards a future order. I’ll come back and review what they send me here, but if you want to try as well, here’s the code: MVL4VC   I really like the sound of this, and with the voucher code it means that 5 meals cost roughly what I’d spend in the supermarket on them anyway. And by taking the thought out of cooking (all the ingredients measured and a recipe to follow), I shouldn’t be too tired to cook and have to resort to an expensive takeaway or ready meals. This is the plan.  I will let you know how I get on in reality...

In the meantime, I make myself a bagel and, seeing as I'm at home and not work. a not very office friendly tin of French onion soup. Once I’ve finished lunch I hang up the washing and decide that now is the time to tackle the accounts.
I head upstairs to the craft room after hanging out the washing and hoping it doesn’t freeze onto the line. Before I put the PC on, I dig all my accounts stuff out of the filing cabinet, and grab my big box of Post Office receipts. I have a lost parcel to claim for, and a damaged parcel to claim for. It’s fairly easy to find what I’m looking for once as everything’s in date order and I have a ridiculous memory for postcodes. I’m in the middle of a bigger project to try and get rid of most of the paperwork/fire hazards in my craft room – there was a lot of stuff associated with the flat I’ve just sold that needed to either be shredded, scanned or a few very important things that I’m going to keep hold of in hard copy.  Bitter experience talking there.  I am glad I am not one of these ruthless chucker outers.   My newly replaced scanner is my new best friend, mind you.

After sorting my receipts ready for finalising my tax return, I pop the rest in my recycling tray ready to take downstairs. I also round up a few things for the proper bin. I decide that filing an online tax return is more compatible with the new me, so I get myself registered. I scan in the form I had completed and save it until my registration details arrive in the post. I scan in a few flyers my dad has sent me, and a clipping from the Manchester Evening News advertising Scottish meat products to exiles down South:

I fail to find three matching purple buttons for the cardigan, but I do manage to dig out a pair of buttons to go on Amelia’s handed down dungarees from her cousin – I have been meaning to make her a new top that I found the pattern for, and won’t have time to do it today, so the least I can do is fix her dungarees.  I know there are some needles in the kitchen so I pop the dungarees in the pile of things to go downstairs and head back down for more knitting, coffee and Nighty Night. I have a look at Facebook and surf a few blogs, and find this, for the knitters amongst us.
The rest of the day gets even more boring, but I basically walk to Asda, forget to buy sweetcorn so nip into Aldi on the way back, bring the recycling bin in, find out that my husband had a good first day, watch half an hour of Madagascar AGAIN, make noodles, watch more Nighty Night, finish the cardigan sleeve and find the most amazing website ever which is going to help with my rug project no end – more on that as soon as I re-find the flipping rug canvas.
See you soon for the next Day In The Life - I will hand over the baton to someone to pick the next date once I have updated the list of contributors - please leave a comment or email me if you have blogged yesterday.  If you haven't managed to take part this time, we'd love to have you along next time! 

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Day in the Life NEWSFLASH

I have chosen the next date.  It will be this coming Monday, 15 October.

Sorry for the short notice, I hope you are all doing something interesting that day!  As much as I'd love to be halfway up Mount Hood sipping a lovely craft beer in this lounge, I will be at home and you'll all have to wait until Monday night to find out what I've been up to.

Postcard sent from Timberline Lodge

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

A proper Autumn day

...needs a proper winter woolly.  This week has been amazing for the crunch of leaves under your feet, and spooky morning mist.  It feels like the whole world is in sepia, which is exactly how I like it.

So it was a bit of a shock to me when I chose this bright purple colour for a new cardigan for Amelia.  Following the pattern has involved counting, subtracting, undoing, re-doing and the occasional bout of swearing, but I only have half of the front right half, and the sleeves left to do now and it's been worth it.

The yarn has a lovely glossy effect to it, and is cotton bamboo, so while it's quite splitty to work with, I'm hoping it'll wash and keep well.  I bought it on eBay via Minerva Crafts, who I can recommend highly.  I'm so impressed with the results so far that I might be making a few more of these for Christmas presents, luckily the pattern goes from birth to 7 years so there are a lot of little girls in our family falling into that age range!

Friday, 5 October 2012



I saw some photos of Emma Cotter's wonderful work with bottle caps elsewhere on the internet a couple of weeks ago, and had to get in touch with her to let her know how much I admired it.


When I first started out with taking Girl Industries online, my key range was around materials and supplies for upcycling, as well as finished items I'd made myself.  Now officially discontinued, I used to pass on used bottletops, wine corks, plastic yarn, or plarn, made from video tapes and carrier bags.  I still carry a small range of security envelope papers salvaged from years of local refuse collectors, umm, refusing to take them (due to the glue content).

I had about 300 bottletops left in stock, but really wanted to clear them out from my craft room - they weren't big sellers and they are a nuisance to post.  Can you guess where this is going?  Fingers crossed, all the lovely independent British brewers caps, and the ahem, occasional Barcardi Breezer lid will be going into a smart yet functional trivet, or a stunning artwork, just like this:


Thank you RETTOCAMME for taking these unwanted caps off my hands.  Now I very rarely drink, and my current local authority recycles 97% of its waste, I'm moving with the times and will no longer be stocking caps or corks in my shop.  But I may yet treat myself to one of those trivets to remind me of times past, you can't beat a bit of Brooklyn Lager...

Saturday, 29 September 2012


Photo via John Lewis

This week I am in love with this Leonhard Pfeifer sideboard from John Lewis.  And if my numbers come up on the lottery, this beautiful arts and crafts mansion house, in need of plenty of tlc, will be my perfect project, and I'll buy a whole wall of these sideboards for my supersized craft room.

Photo courtesy of Rettie, Edinburgh

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Flashback: 2002

I'm borrowing another great blogging idea from Marceline, which is particularly timely as I have just had to rearrange my collection of photos from the extension to the store craft room to keep them safe from sticky toddler fingers.

Marceline talked about what she was doing ten years ago, so I thought I'd join in, as 2002 was a pretty big year for me.  In October of this year, I bought this flat, my first home purchase.  We just sold it last month after two and a half years on the market, and at a considerable loss, so reflecting on the good times, and the excitement and buzz of having somewhere to call my own is a good thing to do right now.   Although I can't resist a quick whinge about that brand new (albeit basic) kitchen and bathroom that we installed to try to entice a buyer and never recouped the money for...

Me in the lounge/dining room of my flat in Parkhead
The flat purchase was a bit of a spur of the moment thing (I found it, I could afford it, I could even walk all the way to work at the Dental Hospital in Glasgow if I felt like it), and I had already booked a 3 week holiday to New York for the month after I moved in.  Ouch!  Luckily at that time the flat didn't need anything major doing to it, so I managed.  I had changed career that year, taking a huge drop in salary, but was still living a little bit like I was managing a supermarket with a multimillion pound budget instead of organising training schemes in the NHS, pre-Agenda for Change.

Niagara Falls - spot the folk in yellow ponchos enjoying the spray
As part of the trip to NY I also went to Niagara Falls for the first time, which was just enough tacky and just enough awe-inspiring to make me happy.  The hotel room had a jacuzzi with a falls view and was super-cheap back in the day thanks to the exchange rate £1 = $2 US = $3 CAN, which meant it worked out about about £58 a night.
The Horseshoe Falls, taken with my old manual camera
My cousin was away for Thanksgiving for some of the time I was over, so I was able to borrow his apartment in Queens for a few days.  I also had a rowdy night out in the East Village with my pal Colin and ended up crashing at his girlfriend's place overlooking Tompkins Square Park.  Happy days.  The rest of the time I stayed in my favourite hotel, which I've been staying at since I was a kid, The Pennsylvania, which still owns its original 65000 phone number.  Since I can't afford the Four Seasons or the Pierre, I tend to use the Pennsylvania because it's clean, central, takes a very hard line on security and it's definitely good value for money.  If I can get a deal on, I'll stay at the Millennium UN Plaza, which is very very nice indeed.

2002's parade theme was Maurice Sendak's Where The Wild Things Are, photo taken between the DMV and ESB, looking up towards TSQ
The most striking thing about that visit was the absence of the WTC, which I hadn't realised I used constantly as a landmark in Lower Manhattan.  Being lost in the heart of Chinatown and not able to look up and instantly know how to get to South Street Seaport, for example, or being at the wrong end of Wall and trying to get to Century 21 was not the same any more.  The site was still being cleared at the time so there was no way I was going to go and be a looky loo, but there was a lovely memorial outside my old apartment building (the towers were the main view from our dining room window in the flat I shared with 5 other interns).

Atlas Sculpture, rescued from WTC Plaza and relocated to Battery Park
While I was in New York, I caught the Strokes on the last night of their first ever full US tour, at the Roseland Ballroom.  I hadn't heard who the support band was going to be but it turned out to be a guy from Saturday Night Live, called Jimmy Fallon.  He sang some funny cover versions, which everyone around us found a lot more hilarious than we did.  UNTIL... it was time for the encore, the auditorium went quiet, and a small, dark haired guy walked out on stage.  The opening bars of 'Do They Know It's Christmas?' played out across the venue, and the spotlight went on to the sound of the whole, sold out, audience saying 'Oh my God, it's Jack Black'.  Who then went on to sing every line of the Band Aid song in a perfect impersonation of the original.  Not the Stock Aitken Waterman one.  That would have been funnier, mind you.

Badges and Zine by John Blain Hunt, National Pop League

Anyway, aside from all that, I wasn't really doing anything crafty or creative.  I was still really into music but hadn't done any music journalism or writing at all, really, for a while.  I was more focused on getting out and enjoying being young in a city I'd only moved to the previous summer, and spent a lot of time at a club called the National Pop League, enjoying the free monthly zine but never so much thinking 'oh I could do that'.  I don't even think I was knitting at that time, I gave it up for about an 8 year period when people were telling me how uncool it was, and unfortunately, I was listening.  I was still customising my clothes, though, a habit I picked up at university where every black top was made instantly more interesting with the addition of black fake fur around the cuffs, so I guess I was being a bit creative.

From 2001 to 2003 I visited Munich, Paris, New York, the Canadian Border, Amsterdam, Dublin and lots of UK cities, mainly London, so I guess travelling was my thing at the time.  It certainly was the golden age of cheap airfare, and I'm glad I took advantage.

Anish Kapoor's Installation at the Tate Modern, Nov 2002

The most striking thing about this little jaunt down memory land?  I still have the same hairstyle (although it's changed a bit inbetween!)

Taken in West Ealing, December 2002

Monday, 10 September 2012

Day in the Life - 10 September 2012

Well, would you look at that.  After a day of blogging yesterday out of the blue, I also checked up on some of my favourite blogs for the first time in ages and found out that today had been nominated for Day in the Life by Marceline.  So as I was working from home today, I thought it would be worth joining in.

5.50am Unusually, the child is awake.  A quick shush over the baby monitor (she's two, but sleeps on the floor above us) doesn't work, so I bring her down for a sleep in our bed.  That doesn't work either so we pop the TV on and watch cartoons.  Hooray, Mondays.

7.45am I hop in the car to head to the childminders, and enjoy the view on the way - I have to drive down into a valley and along the base of a range of hills to make the drop off and I love every minute of the drive there and back - all six to twelve of them, depending on traffic.  I'm listening to Chris Moyles wistfully, it's his last week of doing the breakfast show and many many years ago I had a bit of a thing going on with him over email.  Usually it's Radio 4 all the way, of course.

8am and as we ran out of porridge this morning I decide an impromptu stop at the drive thru is in order, especially because it's rare for me and the husband to eat breakfast together.  I'm usually on the train by now and don't tend to feel hungry until I've been up for a couple of hours so I tend to just have a banana on the run, or a yogurt once I get to my desk.

8.30am and I log on for work.  Everything I do now is between me and my employer, until lunch time.

9.30am and I relocate to the craft room.  The cat has been in my face for a full hour and is driving me to distraction.  When I gently encouraged him to get off the desk in our office, he jumped back up and reclined not very gracefully on the keyboard. It is now broken.  A ping on my mobile lets me know I have an order on Etsy so I package it up and pop it straight into the post box right outside my house.  Handy.

Luckily the cat follows me outside so that problem is solved.  Unfortunately the other one runs in just before I close the door, but he is less of a pain than Clyde so I leave him to it.

9.40am and I'm back to work.

12.30pm and it's lunch time.  I throw myself an omelette together - 3 eggs, one slice of jarlsberg - and try to ignore the black cat staring balefully through the patio doors while I eat it.  I get slightly distracted while I'm downstairs and start to organise the makings of some thank you cards for sending out with orders, my stash has run out and I just dropped a note on the back of a business card earlier.  I also pop on a load of washing before heading back upstairs to work.

2.30pm and I take a break because I've had a brainwave.  A bad photo amnesty, so I can make more photographic gift tags.  Later on I reflect and think I should have been a bit more organised about it, but I have already posted details on my facebook page and if it ever stops raining I will take a far better product photo and post about it on here too.

2.35pm back to work

4.45pm and I decide to call it a day.  I head downstairs to make a coffee, but swerve the kettle as I remember the running out of porridge thing and make a quick dash to Asda for some new stuff.  I also pick up some Moshi Monster figurines for a bribe/reward for Amelia should I need them, she absolutely loves them and I found a set with her favourite character (Priscilla) and my husband's favourite (Mr Snoodle).  We are all big fans of the Ponies song.

5.45pm and I'm back from the shops, and there's a quick turnaroud to the childminder.  I hop back in the car after tidying most of my craft implements out of the kitchen and do that lovely drive again.

6.15 - 7pm and it's that hour.  The last chance to feed, clean, tire out and get your little darlings into appropriate bedtime attire.  We chase Amelia around the kitchen with a remote control Mini Cooper and read a few stories.  The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Hug are current favourites, along with one about a lion and a little girl called Iris, which I can't remember the name of, but I am so not going back in there to check!  We squeeze in a little of What the Ladybird Heard, just because Amelia does the cutest ever bunny noise, and tells us with a very serious face that robbers are naughty.

7.15pm and I head next door to the craft room to update this blog post.  My plans for the rest of the evening are dinner: baked potatoes and spicy mince, to be precise.  Possibly one of the scones we made over the weekend - the Hairy Bikers Maple Syrup ones, but without nuts - very nice and probably on their last day.

I'm going to actually sew up the cards I started making earlier, and if I have time, add some photos to this blog post and publish it.  I've actually really wanted to paint my nails since I took off my last nail polish on Saturday so I might watch last night's X Factor while they dry - I often don't take in what I'm watching on telly because I'm doing something else at the same time, so it would be nice to just have to sit without folding, cutting or writing anything for an hour.  Bliss.  Bedtime will be sometime between 10 and 11, and I'll probably read something on the iPad in bed.  I still miss my trusty red laptop, but nothing beats the iPad for aimless surfing on the sofa/bed/train.

And how was your day?

Sunday, 9 September 2012

The Chandelier of Lost Earrings

In other news, I heard about this artwork that was dedicated to me (along with all the other patients of St Mary's Hospital in Manchester, where I was born).  I don't wear earrings, but if I did, I definitely would have liked to contribute.

Here's an image of the work in progress, courtesy of the summerhouse blog

It's part of the Doors Open Days events taking place across the country this month, and every year in September and is connected to the opening of Victoria Baths, which were saved by the BBC's restoration programme (and no doubt an army of skilled volunteers and craftspeople that we don't hear as much about) a few years ago.  There's more about the restoration process here, and check out the awesome 360 degree photos, too.


So lately, I've found myself stepping back a lot.  I don't have time to Tweet much any more.  My blog is neglected.  I struggle to make it to craft markets.  I can't spare much time for my mafia buddies and have had to take a big step back there, too.  I feel a little out of touch.  My contact lens prescription was filled wrongly recently, and for a while everything felt fuzzy and out of focus.  And  the effect reached beyond just my eyesight.

I recently sold my flat in Glasgow, which had been on the market, untenanted, for two and a half years.  It needed a bit of work prior to selling, so we made a loss, but having chipped a substantial amount off the mortgage when I was single, it wasn't all doom and gloom.  This had been taking up a lot of my time, and energies, so I'm looking at it as another weight off my mind and maybe a little more free time.

Up until I had my daughter, two years ago, I was always a lists person.  Much in the same way that I was always a watch person.  Living to someone else's schedule for a while put paid to that, but maybe it's a habit I need to get back into.  I do love a good list.  I'm also trying my best to declutter, and to focus my efforts when it comes to making.

I still love to knit best of all, but it's a huge investment to spend hours designing a pattern, sourcing lovely yarn that does what I need it to do, structurally as well as aesthetically, knitting it up, waiting an eternity for good light to photograph the results, and getting it out there while the colour, shape and fit is season-appropriate.  Not to mention adjustments to the pattern, quality-checking, making sure no-one out there is doing anything too similar, making the design recognisable as 'mine'.  All these things are hard work, and take time.

And then there are the paper goods.  I was recently informed that my prices are too high for the product I offer.  As much as I love making them, I need to be paid for the time that goes into it all.  I can be competitive on material costs because of the nature of some of the supplies I use as they are often upcycled, but I refuse to pay myself less than UK minimum wage for my time to make paper goods, which need precision, skill, patience and experience to make.  I also don't like to massively undercut my competitors just for the sake of being cheap, it does none of us any favours in the long run.

And now I'm finding that I really love to sew.  But that's more for me, my main challenge is to not let piles of fabric take over my life.

So aside from the business with the flat, where have I been?  Drafting and submitting knitting patterns for a book which may or may not be out soon, working on a new zine, which I must finish this month as it's actually meant to be a wedding present for some friends, and wishing for an end to the daily rain.  I've also been blackberrying, making a few batches of the Hairy Bikers maple syrup scones and composting this year's failed crop of back garden vegetables.  And planning a holiday, we're going away for the first time in three years and I am very excited about that.  Maybe they have better light on the Wales/England border and I'll have some lovely photos to show you later in the year.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Buttons are in!

It's official.  I read it in a home decor magazine.  Buttons are going to be pretty popular this season. 

Photo credit: HK Living at Scandivis
 These button wall hooks are genius.  The large ones are £20 each which is a bit steep, but the little ones are £6.95 from Scandivis
Photo credit:

I know this organiser is styled for the dressing table, but I can't think of anything more cute for organising little crafty bits and bobs.  Like, perchance, buttons?  Only £4 in the sale from aplaceforeverything - be quick!

Photo by LittlemouseLilly on Etsy    

I love the button heart motif on cushions, reminds me a little of the button hearts I made for my wedding way back in 2009.  Etsy seller LittlemouseLilly updates the concept with gemstones, what a tactile looking cushion.  Get it here.

Back to and this button storage box is ideal for stashing a handy sewing kit.  I can imagine this being great to have to hand for a little bit of hand sewing on the couch.  Anything that keeps my stash contained while I do a bit of 'mobile crafting' (i.e. anywhere but my craft room) keeps my husband happy.  I would totally balance my tea on that lid, too. 

Photo credit: Etsy seller Shop Archeologie

Another cushion from Etsy, this time Mallorcan seller ShopArcheologie.  I am missing my trip to the Balearics terribly this year, but there is something about this cushion that is very of its place, the white sand, the sun-bleached trees, the calm and gentle environment.  Just lovely. 

And of course I couldn't talk about buttons without mentioning that I am currently updating my vintage and upcycled button stock in my etsy shop.  I have been whittling down my collection as I continue to destash my craft room.  After last weekend's Give Craft Make event at the Tron Theatre, I decided to hold a huge sale in conjunction with the GCM blog so nip over and check out that code if you are ready for a massive discount on already generous destashing prices.