Thursday, 30 May 2013

Fabric Giveaway! - NOW CLOSED!!

Hi All, as promised, details of our fabric giveaway on Katy Jones' brilliant blog, Monkey Do.

We're giving away these two amazing fabric stacks!  The winner will receive 1 fat quarter of each of the 18 fabrics in the Stitched Circles and Stitched Squares range - that's a total of 4.5 metres of fabric!
Congrats Jan on winning the stacks - hope you enjoy creating something beautiful with them!

All you have to do is follow this link to the Monkey Do blog, leave a comment, sign up to our mailing list (if you haven't already!) return to the Katy's blog post and leave a comment to say you've done so. But hurry, the competition is only open until this Sunday, 2nd June. OOPS - sorry guys, until SATURDAY 1ST JUNE!!!!!

We've been busy...

Very busy!  We are going to be at the Ashridge Garden Party at Berkhamsted's beautiful Ashridge Estate on Sunday 2nd June (that date keeps cropping up, doesn't it?) in aid of The Hospice of St Francis.  We wanted to take along more than just our fabrics so we've been cooking up some lovely fabric combinations for cushions, amongst other things.

We're also planning one in the Stamped Cheater multi colour, below...


and I can't help thinking this would be so very cool as a cushion, too!

If you're in or around Berkhamsted on Sunday, please do pop along - it's all in aid of a great cause and there are going to be so many wonderful things going on including live music, a Pimms stall as well as a pirate themed treasure hunt organised by the Make Believe Ideas CafĂ© and a Circus Skills workshop. Entry is £4 in advance from one of the Hospice shops or £5 on the day.  Under 16's go free ...

Ashridge House Image 2013
and best of all, sunshine has been forecast!
That's it for now - applique update soon, I promise (as soon as event madness subsides!) and don't forget to check out Katy's blog by Saturday to enter our fabric giveaway.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Zipped Pouch Tutorial and Fabric News

We are very lucky to have the wonderful Amanda of Owl Print Panda here with us this week. Do have a look at her blog here to follow her adventures in all things knitting and yarn related.  I don't knit myself, although I would love to have the time to have a go, but I check out her blog just to drool over the simply beautiful yarns she shows in the most AMAZING colours - just delicious to look at!  Amanda agreed to share a tutorial with us and rather fittingly she chose this beautiful Swedish Owl print by Michael Miller to show us how to make this very versatile zipped pouch... and doesn't it look gorgeous?

I think initially the idea was that this pouch be used for a tablet...

but Amanda being Amanda, well I guess it was just one more place to stash her beautiful yarn!

Whatever use you have in mind, here's Amanda showing us how she did it.

You will need:

1. 4 rectangles of fabric (13” x 11”):
• 1 front (we used Swedish Owls)
• 1 back (we used plain olive green)
• 2 lining (we used luna starlettes, you could also use the same fabric as your backing piece)
2. 1 long thin rectangle of fabric for your front border (13” x 5-6”) – you can make this thinner if you’d prefer.
3. 1 zipper (14”)
4. scissors
5. sewing machine / needle & thread

1. First, if you would like a top border on the front of your pouch, you’ll need to sew this on.

To do this, place the front piece and the border piece together, right sides facing, with ~2-3” of the front fabric showing above the border. 
Still with right sides facing, sew across the two pieces, allowing a 1” seam of the border.  Fold the border piece back over this stitching so that the thread is now hidden and all right sides are facing up.  Press with an iron for a crisp edge.

2. Place a lining rectangle face up, and the zipper, face up, on top of this.  Sew along the top half of the zipper to join it to the backing fabric underneath.

3. Place your backing piece, face down, on top of the face up lining & zip you have just sewn.  Sew this on top, in the same line as you stitched the zip to the first piece.

As you did with the border on the front, fold the backing piece over it’s own stitching so the wrong sides of your fabric are now facing.  Sew this down, again over a similar stitch line to that used before. 
You should now be left with a free edge of zip and the front & lining piece attached, wrong sides facing, to the other.

4.  Now to sew the other side on!  Again, lay your other lining piece right side up, and the zip right side up on top of this.  Sew together.

Lay your front piece (with the owls and border) over everything you’ve now sewn, right side facing down. 

After sewing the owls & green (front & border) onto the same side of the zip as you have just attached the second piece of lining fabric. 

Just as you did with the border piece and other side of the pouch, fold this front piece of fabric back on itself and sew it down again along the edge of the zip.

You should now be left with all 4 rectangles attached to your zip, one pair each side, wrong sides facing.

5.  You’ll have to do a little bit of re-arranging now.  Open the zip half-way (so you don’t get stuck later), and re-arrange your 4 rectangles so that the two lining pieces are facing on one side, and the two outside pieces are facing on the other.

Do make sure your outside pieces meet closest together and well aligned around your zip, otherwise you’ll have a wobbly bag!

6. Sew around the edge of this large rectangle of fabric, going over the zips a couple of times for strength, remembering to leave 2” un-sewn on the lining side for turning.

7. Turn everything the right way round and straighten out your corners and edges – you may chose to give your seams a little trim if you find you have a lot of bulk around the edges.   Sew up your turning gap once everything is round the right way!
8. Tuck your lining into the bag and you're done!



Well thank you so much for that tutorial, Amanda. We can see so many fantastic uses for this zipped pouch and we LOVE the little owl zip pull you've attached to the pouch!

Keen to get to know her better, we thought that while we had Amanda in a sharing mood, we'd asked her a few questions:

1. How did you get into crafting?
I’ve always been pretty crafty; it starts with one hobby which introduces you to another, and another, and another… Before you know it you have baskets of fabric & fluff taking up half the kitchen.

Motionlessly watching a film for 2 hours on the couch feels like I’m wasting time, but if you end up having watched something great and have half a shawl it seems to make the time more worthwhile!

There’s a certain feeling of satisfaction from the phrase “thanks, I made it”, and even more in sharing how to do it with others.

2. Where do you get your inspiration from?
Too many places! I’d get far more done if I spent less time looking for new ideas! I’m a huge fan of experimenting with new crafts & techniques, so don’t like to get stuck too long on one thing or one theme.

I value makes which are also functional, ones you can use and interact with regularly and isn’t something you’ll make to sit on a shelf – it should be part of your day, of your home or of you.

I’m a huge fan of ‘forresty’ colours and ideas, natural greens & browns through to pops of colour.

3. What is your favourite of all your products?
Aah the little fox purse. He was my first and true love. There’s definitely some sentimental value there.

4. What made you start selling your makes?
I think I’ve always loved making; it was only a matter of time before I started sharing it! The stitch markers, for example, came about because I couldn’t find sets I loved – I didn’t want beads all over the place, but didn’t want plain rings – and I thought other people might feel the same!

5. What's your advice for someone trying to build their own business?
Just go for it! By “go for it” I don’t mean splash out all your life savings, or give up your day job – but start! Nothing is ever gonna happen if you sit and think about it forever.

6. How do you promote your business?
Etsy is a good platform because it introduces lots of customers to your shop through their search features. I tend top pop up new items in my blog when they appear, and there’s a really friendly little ravelry group at the moment with some lovely knitters in it! Twitter is also a great way of sharing quick photos & ideas, and the interaction and feedback you can receive is really lovely.

7. What bit of kit would you be lost without?
Trusty old notebook and pen! I have a terrible memory so it’s good to note things down when I think of them, quick sketches are great for bringing back ideas. Also, there’s nothing worse than having written a piece of new pattern on paper and unhelpfully losing said piece of paper. It’s harder to lose the notebook… simple things, eh?

More crafty item specific though, I recently made a needle roll for all my knitting needles and accessories. It now holds my lifetime collection of knitting tools. If I lost that I might cry.

8. What are your plans for the future?
I’m going to focus more attention of developing my knitting patterns, I’ve recently had some success with publication so hope it’s the start of something great! The etsy store is so enjoyable to run, as is the blog, you end up talking to so many lovely people. As of next week I’ll be adding buttons and ribbon to the etsy store (exciting!), so that should keep me busy!


9. Is there a fellow maker whose work you particularly love?
So many! There are so many different areas to crafting and such great original ideas! Recently I’ve been working with @Agirlcalledboz to develop some hand-drawn shrink plastic stitch markers - she makes adorable earrings too! Pattern designers such as @kariebookish, @tinyowlknits & @ysolda really inspire me. Even podcasts! It’s so nice to listen to @knitspincake & @caithnesscraft over coffee in the morning, and the crafting world is relatively small so I’ve already had the opportunity to meet these lovely ladies face to face.

10. What advice can you give others about fitting it all in?
It sounds strange, but the more I have to do, the more I get done. Make the time, enjoy what you do. Use podcasts to revise your university work whilst you’re sewing, take your knitting on the bus, have your stitch marker materials by the couch for making up whilst you watch tv!

Thanks for sharing, Amanda. See more of what Amanda's been up to on...




New in stock 

If you haven't seen the website this week do head over to check out the new Kokka linen/cotton blend fabrics that have arrived!
We've the new Ellen Luckett Baker collection called Stamped...
and this beauty by Etusko Furuya called Birds and Berries ...
Also, Jamie Wood's Little Surfer Boy ...

 My boys will definitely be getting some surfer dude shorts in this in time for the summer!
For those of you in the UK, hope you enjoyed the long weekend.  Check back soon for news of our latest giveaway!!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

whole lotta love for Jansdotter

Sorry, I've been saving up that title ever since we first ordered the new Lotta Jansdotter range, Glimma... and now it's here!

Just as beautiful as her last two collections, Echo and Bella; Glimma is quintessential Jansdotter.  Clean crisp lines and colours inspired by nature make Glimma a must have for this summer.  The collection includes designs on 100% cotton...

and - a first for Lotta - also on canvas!  
Making Glimma a really versatile collection, lending itself beautifully to so many different projects.
 This is sure to be a firm favourite here at HQ - we just can't get enough of Lotta!
 Whether it's canvas or cotton - to get your hands on Lotta's latest, click here!


Monday, 13 May 2013

Exciting Heather Ross News! Plus Ode To Orla Update

Oh, how exciting to be able to tell you that we have Heather Ross' new Briar Rose collection as a pre-order on the website!

This long awaited new collection celebrates summer, sunshine and lazy days spent amongst the clover. I cannot WAIT to get my hands on it! We are expecting it to hit HQ sometime in July/August but we think this one is going to be a hit so, to pre-order click here.


Applique Update

Ode to Orla is the name of the first block in my new quilt project.  In my previous post I explained how I am stepping out of my comfort zone and going 'sans machine' for the entirety of this project - terrifying, I thought!  But actually, this applique lark is proving really addictive! 

So here's my little stash of fabrics.  I may not use them all - and have already added others, but I love the really bold feel of these super-bright playschool colours.  It has already been nicknamed 'The CBeebies Quilt' in our house.

Anyway, this was my 'Ode to Orla (not a leaf in sight yet!) on Tuesday at the first ever Wendover Sewing Bee where I actually got some sewing done.

It was quite embarrassing to have to take it at this stage along to our second class on Friday - especially when there were some in the class who had totally completed theirs and were raring to go on the second.  But I was comforted by the fact that I wasn't the only one to have made little progress and assured by Deb that it would all come together (and besides, our next class isn't for a few weeks now!)
With this in mind I thought I ought to get my finger out.  So here it is after a quiet hour in the shop on Saturday, thanks to the horrendous thunderstorm that was the weather in Wendover on Saturday afternoon .. hailstones .... HUGE ones!  In May! Very odd weather.
Doesn't look much different, huh? I know - but there is quite a bit of progress, honest! For one, I swapped two of the little circles round (did you notice?) and also a lot more has actually been sewn on and not just basted.  Deb taught us how to do traditional needle tuck applique on Friday - I am tempted to have a go - but perhaps on the next block.  I'm too pleased with the progress on this one to go flub it up at this stage!

So - progress on the 'totally by hand' thing? I don't think I'm totally ditching my 'Impatient Maker' moniker, but I definitely am ENJOYING this!