Saturday, 31 December 2011

A prosperous New Year to all!

Firstly I would like to thank all our readers for their support over the past year. Secondly, a prosperous New Year to each and every one of you.

I am sure that by now we are all sick of the sight of mince pies, chocolate and turkey. If you aren't you are made of stronger stuff than I am! It has been a shame since I have been working through the daily rat race over Christmas, but it was fun nonetheless. I must state, however, that I am glad the end if nigh. If only so I can take down my decorations and start getting back to some sort of half tidy, half acceptable state, where the cats won't climb the tree and the chocolates that are currently scattered across my coffee table can slowly dwindle down.

The sad thing about it all though is we now start on the New Years Resolutions that we just won't stick to. For many of us it will sound something like 'diet', 'quit smoking', 'not drink so much', 'visit the in laws more often' (well maybe no the last one. Let's not push it). So I have sworn that I will not make any resolutions! A smart move on my part. Also, for many of you it means getting back into the crafty suit so that you can get ready for up and coming events. Whilst my partner in crime and I will also be affected by that pull this year, I am hoping (if vainly) that I will be organised enough that I won't need to panic nearer the time (who am I kidding?). I have already been busy cross stitching my way to March. Now if I can just produce enough for a market stall I will be half way there. Only time will tell... (wonder if I can beat the clock into letting out some secrets of the future?)

This evening will be the last big evening for the With U in Mind posse. A birthday and New Year celebration in one. Tomorrow morning will bring a hangover from hell and the need to produce patterns, designs and other wondrous weird items ready for a New Year push. It will also be the start of our Facebook give away, and the beginning of our Blog January Event. We hope you will join in and pass the word around to your friends. In the meantime I think I can see a morning of slobbing out and watching a little Disney or Superhero media.

Until tomorrow...

...Happy New Year to one and all!!!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Getting ready for a Give Away - The January Event

Whilst most of our Christmas orders are now completed I have time on my hands to wonder about the months to come. Whilst this blog has been going since the start of this year the online presence of the company has been minimal at best. As most of you know I have done fits and starts of activity, which, for one reason or another tend to drizzle of into some unknown place.

Talking to my partner in crime with regards to the new year and our business plans, it has come time to give our online presence a boost.

As a result we have decided to run a double give away. Well... actually... I guess you could times that by 6 just to make 7. We will part ways for Christmas to create ready for the New Years Give Away Extravaganza. A mouthful I know!

In order to boost out blog following, our Facebook fan following, and our online custom we have decided to hold not one, not two, not three, not four but FIVE New Year Give Aways. Yes you did read that right.

We will launch one Give Away a week via the blog - the rules of which shall be posted on Jan 1st. That makes four lovely gifts to give away to four lucky readers. Gifts will change from week to week, offering a full range of talent and plenty of lovely gift potential.

Simultaneously we will be running a Give Away via our Facebook (I have been passing the word amongst the Uni bodies and work bods, and now you...). This will run from the 1st of January all the way to end of the month, 3 winners being announced on the 31st. The rules will be posted via the blog and via our Facebook page on the 1st of January.

So a grand total of 7 prizes to give away.

So whilst you put your feet up and read this blog (hopefully with a cuppa and a slice of cake), think of us as we get ready for our big January Event. Really looking forward to it myself! And I can't even enter... shame!

Monday, 12 December 2011

Santa's Coming... soon...

Another busy week this week. Finishing off the ends of some custom orders took a little longer than I thought, but it was worth the time. I literally just had some good feedback on one of the pieces so I am hoping the only way is up. I've also been doing some research at local markets - getting ready for the new year, and hopefully to become a regular at some local events. It may be a very hard time out there, but I have a some faith left that the unusual will always bring interest. All in all, a productive, if slightly tiring week.

Here are some quick snaps of some of the pieces I have been working on. Just hope the recipients will like them.

 My Partner in Crime has been working on her sewing and painting skills over the past couple of weeks. Whilst I am still yet to get a snap of any of these items I can assure you it won't be long. I'm proud of her for jumping in at the deep end. New skills can sometimes be daunting.

Before I go off to wrap some prezzies I'm gonna head off to Handmade Monday to see the makes of the week from other talented people.

However, before I sign off... don't forget... SANTA IS HEADED THIS WAY!!!! WOO-HOO

Thursday, 8 December 2011

The Rush

Every year I make sure that by this date I have my tree up, the house decorations up, the calendar well on its well on its way to being emptied of chocolate, the cats are getting shouted at for trying to climb the tree, the presents are wrapped. The food shopping is under way, the movie for the 5am wake up call on the big day has been chosen and I am carefully counting the wine bottles under the stair to ensure none go missing.

This year, I get what people mean by 'the rush'.

I haven't done half of what I should have done. In fact, the only things that been completed...nothing. Nadda. Nought.

I have everything half finished. However I am not complaining. In fact, I am a very happy bunny. I have received so many last minute orders for handmade Christmas gifts that I am struggling to keep up. Between a full time job with awful working hours (well the travel is the awful bit), doing the shopping, gift wrapping and just general life I feel fully rushed of my feet.

I love it!

As a result of my lack of schedule I missed out on Handmade Monday which I was a little gutted about I have to admit. However I have found time to join Crafty-Bitz, which I just love! The idea behind it all is amazing. A free showcase of such great talent. Trust me to be a bit slow on the up take. I blame my lack of organisational skills ;) If you haven't already, I would ask you to at least check it out. A lovely forum indeed!

I have been making up personalised gift boxes for jewellery sets - Pick'n'Mix bags, and Scrabble boxes (I will post pics at the weekend). I have been baking fimo like it is going out of fashion (well in fairness is did kind of in the late 90's). Waiting on orders and putting together earring and bracelets sets for custom orders. So I have been a happy crafty bunny!

Whilst I don't have photos of the customs just yet, I did want to show you these. Some knitted decorations (which I was going to put on folksy... but somehow they found their wait to my tree... strange that...). Also, attempt number two at Chainmaille. Really getting into that jump ring set up gig. It looks so complex, but I am surprised at how easy it really is - but in all fairness I have only tried out some of the easier designs so watch this space.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Chainmaille Bracelet - attempt number 1

After partaking in Handmade Monday yesterday, completing the blog hop and scouring for other blogs to read, I remembered something that I had sitting in a box and hadn't been touched since bought near a year ago.

For absolutely ages I have wanted to have a go at some Chainmaille patterns, however I have been too nervous as the patterns never look that easy to complete and it would require plenty of patience - something I am often short of. I spent hours at the time looking for the Jump rings I wanted to work with, and in the end with the guidance of a craft magazine went to a noted on-line supplier of aluminium rings. Whilst I look back and wonder why I didn't just go for one of their kits for my first attempt, I am quite proud as I instead bought the rings I wanted and made for a search on a pattern I liked. Once again I question why I didn't just buy a kit, but we live and learn.

However, after spending a little time reading the pattern, I sat down last night and got to work.

I know I need to tighten some of the links up, but for a first ever try, I won't complain about something that can easily be fixed. So here we have a 3 tone bracelet. I threw together some simple earrings to match out of the links I had left. Waste not, want not.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Handmade Monday 44: let's hop to it.

Christmas is creeping closer, and my house looks messier. Seems to be the trend at the moment. I keep getting side tracked by the craft fairy that keeps knocking on my window. However, I can't be angry with her, she is after all a much more interesting fairy than the cleaning fairy. No offence little fairy people but it's true.

I have been going at it non-stop this week (crafting you filthy minded people ;) )

I have managed, after much talk and no action, to start up our Facebook Page. So I am still a little confused as to how it all works, but I figure what I don't know it I can learn. In all fairness it may take me some time - but why rush a good thing. Well, lets hope it's a good thing!

I've been printing off photos to put together a portfolio so I can start carrying that around with me. Not as much fun as starting up the Facebook page, but every little helps.

I have had a number of  custom requests come through this week for Christmas gifts, which has been a pleasant yet unexpected surprise. I have had to order some bits this weekend which means I am hanging around the door like a fly right now trying not to miss the post man.

I ordered myself I light tent... at last. I figured I need to treat myself from time to time. Anyway, my excuse it will help on those dull days when Helen and I need to take a few snaps. Sound reasoning, right?

And finally, some of the makes for the week.

Helen's son wanted something for his girlfriend to go with the watch I knocked up for him. So as well as having this charm bracelet I will do her some earrings too, and box it up like it was bought from a sweet store.

I made up a set of aqua blue and swarovski crystal earrings and pendant (that will have a chain with it once the post arrives), as well as revisiting some older designs that people have been interested in.

I knocked up a couple of bookmarks:

Helen has been back to her work desk and pulled out this autumnal feeling flower arrangement:

Then at the very last, I had another parcel from the Midlands containing some more cuteness. This time in the shape of a little frog. 

So that just about covers the last few days. But far from me to take a breather! Nope, I shall grab a cup of coffee, read up on the rest of the craft world, hope I get somewhere with this Facebook thingy, maul the postman when he comes with my packages and carry on crafting away.

Please find the time to do the same - grab a coffee (or tea) that is - and hop on over to 1st Unique Gifts to learn about what other talented and crafty people have been getting up to this week.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The Elves have come and left a Tree

I am running way behind this year. Normally my decorations have come from their hiding space under the stairs on the 1st of November, and in general the house, whilst looking like a bomb has hit it for a good 2 weeks, the place is usually very festive by now. But no, for some reason, someone is voodoo dolling me up right now, making me delayed in almost everything I do. But regardless of the cold bug hugging my arm, I have managed to get my tree up, add a couple of items to my folksy shop, put a stew in the slow cooker, hoover and take some new snaps of makes yet to be featured. Hence I am writing now... I can't stand up due to pain and I am loving a cup of honey and lemon hehehe.

I love the simple things in life!

After taking these photos I realised my tree was leaning. So I have now corrected that problem but due to the glorious day it is outside and thus lack of natural light, there was little point in me redoing these photos.

I got this super cool package from my mum this morning, which I have to share with you all. This will be going on my shop if anyone is interested, but how super cute are these guys?


Sold as a set of course, but they are so sweet I almost want to keep them. But then there was the guy below too... and he's just too cute too!

And now, since I can't be bothered to lift my hand to dusting (which really needs doing), cleaning the bathroom (which in fairness isn't horrific if you happen to be a monster) or cooking the cottage pie I was going to do for dinner, I am going to play with the mess on the lounge table and try and create something else before the tiredness hits. 

I'm on such a roll this month ;D

Monday, 21 November 2011

All I want for Christmas

All I want for Christmas... is to be rid of this cold. And some storage boxes. And a lottery win. And a fraggle. Okay, so I want a lot of things for Christmas, but then it's alright to dream every once in a while. So whilst I dream I shall create.

This week has seen a new lease of life this side of London. Whilst I've been knocking out a few Christmas prezzies, and the odd thing here and there just because I can, my Partner in Crime has been trying her hand at a few things new to her. I promise not to post the pic I was sent of her first plaque attempt - not because it isn't good, but simply because I know she wishes to polish her skills. So whilst I can't post that, I can post a couple of other piccys.

First on my list was to knock out some Christmas decs for my tree. I have hundreds of baubles (and yes, I mean hundreds) but a bauble is a bauble. I wanted something shiny that, once my tree goes up (scheduled for tomorrow) it will catch the lights. I don't know if they are gonna do the trick yet, but I can but try. Pardon the background, don't really do them justice, however once that tree is up, more photos me thinks.

Once that had been done I had an order in for a watch. Something in purple. I don't have any amethyst knocking about otherwise that would have been my first port of call, but I did have some matching beads. Set that with a heart watch, and hey presto. All I need to do now is fashion a gift box and done.

I whipped up a necklace and earring set... because I could...

Whilst I was doing that, Helen has been busy knocking out some more arrangements. Organised or what, this woman has Mothers Day in the bag already!

Which doesn't really cover the last week, but lets not get too carried away. Besides, I need some time left to go blog hopping over at Handmade Monday hosted by the talented Wendy.

Thanks for dropping by. I'm off to see what you've all been up to this last week!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Knitted new friend

So I would like to introduce you to a new friend who will be joining me today - BunBun.

Now unlike my real rabbit who eats the carpet, the sofa, my storage boxes and if I let her, my feet, this one is real easy to care for. See, she even came with her own food. Now how often can you say you have such well behaved pets?

And all it cost was the stuffing and wool. One off payment and the perfect pet ;)

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Festive Flowers

This weeks addition of flora sees us heading to the more festive feel. Whilst I myself am waiting upon the joys of a lovely wreath to adorn the front door, I must admit these lovely displays have got me wondering if it may be worth pure mayhem from my cats by placing one of these on my coffee table. I must say though, since the tree gets destroyed one way or another every year, at least they couldn't do much damage here...

...Sorry, was that a famous last words moment?

These are especially eye catching due to the attention to detail my partner in crime has used. I think next year I am going to buy bulk on mini ornaments so she can use those too. Plus, she doesn't know it yet, but I have such ideas to throw at her ready for next years Christmas rush!

This first one covers all traditional ground by putting red roses, holly, oranges and cones all together. But I have to say I love the super cuteness of the little sugar apples.

We keep with a softer range of traditional by putting creams instead of the brighter reds. Plus who can beat a bit of glitter on the flowers. Know this one will look lovely when the candle is lit.

Finally, yep, more tradition... Oh come off it! It is Christmas guys ;) This one reminds me most of the TV Christmas. Films like 'Miracle on 34th Street', that kind of homely tradition. 

And on that note...I would just like to remind all the big kids out there... ONLY 39 DAYS TILL CHRISTMAS!!!
 That reminder goes for everyone who hasn't started their Christmas shopping too ;)

Monday, 14 November 2011

I spy with my beady eye

This week has been great for ideas, and even for once, on the craft completion front. Not so much for the 'take the photo as evidence you've done something' though. But since I refuse to wear gold and red together (or at all for that matter) I guess you can't call me Super Woman.

I have spent most of the weekend knocking up a small brochure however. Now, is it just me, or does writing something official that can be classed as advertising mean you actually have to think. And it hurts right? I mean even if you know your audience, it never ceases to amaze me how clever you have to be. To be able to write something that is both eye catching, easy to read and stand out. It won't look bad once it's done. When it's done... maybe... possibly... My hubby works in a school. Would it be child labour to make it a project for the kids to do for me ;) (kidding).

I haven't seen my partner in crime this week as I thought I would, so I am still waiting on her arrangements. However it didn't stop me from playing with beads this weekend. Nothing impressive to share with my crafty friends (at least no photos - just means I have more ammo for another post hehehe) but here are a few odds and sods.

If you couldn't tell I had a thing about key rings this weekend. I think that may have been fuelled by my losing my keys... twice. Under all this black, I'm actually blonde! No really I am!

Oh yeah... and I knocked out this demin bag for someone. I don't need to panic about them seeing it though. They don't follow my blog :P Their loss, beats trying to search the house for mothers present hiding place this year. 

I would like to implore all of you to make your way to 1st Unique Gifts and join in Handmade Monday. If you don't have anything to show this week, why not just pop along and read up on other crafters craftiness. 

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Roses are red, Lavender's...lavender!

First time I've had this week to sit down and do some crafty R and R. I have no coffee table. It is currently hiding under a heap of Christmas decorations that are waiting to go up, and bags of beads, ribbon, cotton, card... in fact, the ancient Egyptians would be so proud of my pyramid making skills. 

But I'm not hear to brag about the mess of my front room. I thought I would instead post some of Helen's new designs. It never ceases to amaze me how a bunch of silk flowers end up looking so bright and vibrant. In all fairness silk is the only way I should go since I have a habit of killing of anything living (plant wise I hasten to add). Unless they happen to be ferns. Then for some reason they love me. 

So here is the first one. A lovely arrangement of whites with lavender. A small amount of ribbon and plenty of green. All displayed in a short stemmed glass. Pretty impressive as far as I am concerned. I have been told that the use of ribbons should be kept to a minimum when doing a good arrangement - stick to the greenery instead. Apparently florists love ribbon to fill gaps because it's cheap, but lets look at facts, I've had a few arrangements that were more ribbon than flower, and they weren't all that. 

The second one is my personal favourite out the two (I know, I shouldn't be biased... but I'm only human(ish)). This was created using ivy, red silk and white roses. They are all carefully displayed in a wooden pot with handle, so ideal for a table dec or something to hang on the wall. Love versatility in all things. I just love the angles and the way the colours really gel to make something that could be quite plain, into something really eye catching.

Once again my partner in crime as she will be formally known to the world, has once again out done herself. I have been assured that there have been more made, and are awaiting my camera to take the snaps. 

Like either one, they will be going on sale via Folksy and Helen has been sure to drill into me that all you need to do is drop us a message (email, blog or shop) and she will happily discuss designs and themes with anyone interested.

However, considering my hands are like ice and I have a pile of crafty stuff to play with on my coffee table, I'm off to make something... well... something ;) And drink coffee... and dream of eating cake!

Friday, 4 November 2011

Make me something different - randomling

So for the past few days I have been staying in the country with my Mother, where I leave on Saturday morning, one year older, but not actually wiser. In the space of time since leaving lovely London on Wednesday morning, to the now very wet and grey Friday morning in Derby, I am left feeling cheated and empty, and at the same time a pleseant sense of achievement.

Achievement is simply explained by the lovely people that have contacted me regarding my not often made jewellery (that is since the beginning of this year thanks to the wedding taking up all my time). A number of people, both friends, family and lovely strangers have placed orders for something or another. I think even when we sell the smallest of items at a craft fair, or simply from the comfort of our own home, we all have that slight warm fuzzy feeling that makes you go 'Ooo, someone liked my efforts enough to buy!' Gotta love that!

However, it has occurred to me, that every year I get further disappointed by the rubbish that is trying to be sold to us, at horrific prices. I started my Christmas shopping, as I have done for many a year now, in the early days of January. Not with the sales, but whenever I go out, I am on the look out for something nice, with no one in mind, so I stash the gift until November where I can then get the horde out and see who will like what. This year I have made a conscious effort to buy handmade, from all our favourite sites, and a number of personal ones too. However, this year my Mother and I went halves on my Sister present, by buying her a week in a caravan in Devon. But for me that is not enough. I have to get them something to unwrap on the day, and being the type of person she is, I do not consider her easy to buy for. So yesterday I trundled around Sheffield's Meadowhall and looked high and low. For the first time in many a year I can say I have no idea why we would waste our time. As my Mother put it 'Every year is the same, and after a while you get bored of looking at the same stuff'. Let's face it, I don't like the Body Shop and I never will. Whilst 'it's the thought that counts' how many of you sit there wondering if there was any thought at all. No that doesn't make you ungrateful. Look at it this way, if the person thought enough of you to buy you something in the first place why didn't they think hard enough to get you something that would have been useful or something you'd like?

Now, let us add insult to injury. I love Christmas and every year I am to get more and more decorations so that I will eventually have Lapland in my own house. For the past few years I have gone to a lovely garden centre where I end up buying things for Christmas that I don't need, but I do want. I noticed that this year, with the trends firmly on the Scandi Trees, Country Cottages and ginger bread houses... half the things I have seen handmade and on line are far better quality, lovingly made...and cheaper. Where do they get their prices from? Marks and Spencer selling calico hearts sewn together by fingerless mice sold at £4 a pop? I don't think so! My beloved hamster could a better job me thinks.

I have seen that some of you are advertising the likes of buy handmade for Christmas and it certainly makes you hope that in the years to come each of us will have our moment by being able to say we beat the high street. Not only do you deserve it, but let us shine some honesty onto the subject, chances are, you ideas are original, affordable and made with more love than anything with a £7 sticker on it for nothing more than a plastic box with commercially made soap in it. I would like to wish you all the luck in your sales leading up to Christmas. I've left the high street with a bitter taste in my mouth... so if someone happens to be baking cake right now and wants to send me some - just drop me a line.

Oh... and er skip the high street this year, I've seen some kick ass things over on Folksy you'd just love! ;)

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Flower arrangements

So let change the pace with this piece shall we?

I find myself trying my hand at a hundred different crafts and I can safely state that I am never happy with the things I make. Not because they aren't good...just because I always want to do better. There is however some stability in all things and when my colleague asked me to post the first of many posts on flower arrangements I could hardly say no.

Now, as with any partnership she has promised to beat into me the ways of the flower worker. This in itself is daunting since I have been assured that her teaching methods may leave me wanting to scream... or cry... or both.

These were made up as part of a Traveller funeral, which I am assured are very bright and colourful. Knowing only a little about their traditions I do know that they tend to remember the good times in a persons life and celebrate the things that made that person who that were, rather than sit at a bar crying about the loss of life. So whilst looking at these pics you will be excused (as I made this mistake myself until I was corrected) that these are in fact for the life of the person lost. In all fairness... one of them you can't fault...

Feel free to leave a bit of feedback, I know my partner in crime (whom is yet to get used to the world of Blog) will be thankful for all comments.