Monday, 30 March 2009

And the winner is....

You may remember a while ago I posted asking for help with a market research survey I was conducting. Well I've got lots of responses, and have 'collated my data' (at times I had to count on fingers and toes), and today I drew a name out of the hat for the £5 book voucher which was offered as a prize.

I employed 'The Randomiser' (aka Munchkin) to select a winner, and she did a very good job, although had to be placated initially as she thought the cup with all the email addresses in contained raisins, or some such other snack. The independent ajudicator assisting her is mr pickled weasel.

Anyhoo, the winner is..........*drum roll*............ Ruth Hutchinson! I shall pop the voucher in the post for you asap Ruth. Thanks to everyone who filled a survey in, your answers were very helpful.

Sugar Hit

I had a great weekend away, and even managed to get a 4" zip from a craft shop so I could finish my felt purse! I'm very pleased with it, even if it does look a bit wonky.

You can make one too if you want, from a great tutorial here. It was easy peasy lemon squeezy, although it did make me think about cupcakes a lot.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Hurray! It's Friday :)

As a stay at home mum, my days often run into one another, and I have difficulty remembering whereabouts in the week I am. But I still get excited when it's Friday, because it means me and munchkin get mr pickled weasel all to ourselves for the weekend.

Anyhoo, this weekend we get him for 3 whole days, because today we're off to stay in a posh hotel (thank you Tesco Clubcard vouchers!), and then tomorrow we go and watch him do a driving experience at a race track. We're all very excited :) I wanted to take some stitching with me, but I've ground to a halt with a felt purse I am making because I haven't got a zip for it yet, so I'll just have to spend my evenings in the hotel bar drinking cocktails take a book instead :)

When we get back on Sunday I want to get started on a new project, as I bought some bargainous fabric yesterday - 4 metres for £2!!! Apologies for the rubbish photos, but I haven't given it an iron yet. I'm planning to make a cot quilt cover for the munchkin, and maybe a few cushions for her room instead. Cute, ne c'est pas?

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Ink and Acid

Munchkin was very generous with her mothers day presents, and as well as a foot long Toblerone and the obligatory cute little houseplant, I got to escape for the whole day on Sunday, to go to a printmaking workshop. (ok, so it was mainly mr pickled weasel's doing, but I'm sure it's what munchkin would want for her mommy dearest).

I had a fantastic time, doing all sorts of exciting things I've never done before - I've always been interested in etchings, but never known where to start. The workshop was with a guy called Alan Birch, a print maker who works in Rossendale. He took me through the whole process of making a print, from initial drawings, etching the print with acid, adding aquatints, to the finished thing. I am quite proud of my efforts, even though they're a bit like the drawings of a 7 year old :) The photo above is of my print, and the photo below is of the plate I etched.

The only problem now is that I want to do it all again! Repeat after me: Must not learn new crafts, must not learn new crafts, must not learn new crafts....

Monday, 23 March 2009

Quick and easy crafting fix

I made this felt flower bobby pin last night, and it took all of 30 minutes to do, and most of that was faffing about trying to draw a flower shape as a template :) You can do it too, with instructions from Lupin Handmade.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Five From Folksy

I am feeling rather springy today, so here's my spring picks from Folksy. Enjoy!

This super cute pin from Posh Plushies will make brighten up any pin cushion!

An orange birdy - could you get any more springlike? This is from Kool Kooky Creatures.

This Superwash 4 ply sock yarn is called 'Spring Greens', and is by The Bear Necessities.

I'm meant to be economising at the moment, but I'm sorely tempted by this Lemon Viola Bobby Pin from Wychbury.

Finally, there's nothing more springy for me than a bunch of tulips. This linocut print from The Lapwing Printworks would mean you could look at a bit of spring all year round.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Hello, Kitty!

Munchkin has very generously passed a cold on to me and mr pickled weasel, and we are both feeling quite sorry for ourselves. My symptoms were at their worst on Thursday, and so Grandma Pickled Weasel came and took Munchkin out for the morning so I could get some sleep and sit in the sun feeling wibbly. I sat and stitched the last bit of a kit I've been doing for a while, a lovely little Hello Kitty which was done on soluble canvas.

I've never used soluble canvas before, but it was easier than I thought. I think the fabric you use it on is quite important, and I chose a nice cotton dress to embroider because I knew it would be easy to stitch on. The kit was fab, came with everything I needed - canvas, threads, chart, instructions and even a needle (excellent, as I am always losing mine. Slightly scary prospect now I have a small child). The only difficult bit was the inclusion of *shiver* FRENCH KNOTS in the design. I hate french knots. Until now! I followed a fabulous tutorial from Sublime Stitching and finally mastered them.

When you finish stitching, you just soak your fabric in hot soapy water for 10 minutes and the canvas disappears. Then you rinse and dry it as normal. It reminded me a bit of leaf gelatine, maybe it is made of a similar thing. I was really pleased with it, and am trying to avoid the temptation of buying another one...

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Unintentional table art

  1. Casually scatter saturday supplement magazine on dining table.

  2. Spill whole cup of coffee over saturday supplement magazine whilst serving dinner, ensuring that it is completely soaked from cover to cover.

  3. Intend to clear up immediately.

  4. Leave for approximately four hours, whilst feeding daughter, clearing up ensuing mess, changing daughter, bathing daughter, putting daughter to bed, washing up, hoovering because you've just remembered you've got people coming round tomorrow etc etc.

  5. Remember saturday supplement and coffee incident and go to lift saturday supplement off table.

  6. Find it is stuck.

  7. Gently peel saturday supplement from table, and marvel at beautiful coffee scented artwork which is left behind.

  8. Take photo.

  9. Reluctantly scrub at artwork, only to find that it doesn't come off properly.

  10. Put placemat over it and file experience under 'Lessons Learned'.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Silk purses and sow's ears

I went to a workshop on steaming fabric yesterday, using Shibori techniques on synthetic fabrics, and then popping them in a kitchen steamer for 10 minutes to 'melt' the fabric. The results were great, really structural. I have *no* idea what to do with the end product - any suggestions?

I also picked up something I'd made in last month's workshop. A very cross looking batpig :) Pottery is very definitely not my forte, but I was quite pleased with batpig.

He is made of 2 pinch pots stuck together with slip, and then his legs, tail, grumpy little head and oversized ears were added to his basic shape.

He is good enough for my daughter, who seemed very impressed, and even gave him a kiss :)

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Pretty in Pink

I went and did crafty things today, with very exciting results, but I can't tell you about it because I forgot to take photos this afternoon so it'll have to wait until tomorrow. I have a very dysfunctional relationship with the flash on my camera, and am convinced it dislikes me for no reason. It is always over-exposing pictures no matter what I try. So I'll have to wait for good old-fashioned daylight tomorrow to take some shots. In the meantime, here is a nice picture of a flower.

This is an Amaryllis I bought after Christmas, for something like 98p. It was one of those kits where you get a brown plastic pot and an uninspiring onion-like bulb. But I followed the instructions optimistically, and lo and behold it has turned into a very beautiful thing. The picture of the flower on the box was a bit more white and pink stripy, but I'm not complaining :)

Friday, 13 March 2009

Noses, Grindstones, and Applique Flowers

So, it looks like I am in gainful employment again. I've been searching for a part time job since December, and was being particularly fussy in that it needed to be a) above minimum wage, and b) not cleaning, which didn't really leave many suitable positions. But I had an interview yesterday, and they rang late last afternoon (at 5.15, the b*st*rds, leaving me hanging all day!) to say I'd got it. Hurray!

I am to be a library assistant 2 days a week, at a public library (I'm not saying which one in case you come and point and laugh at me). I'm a qualified librarian, so the job will be a bit like down-sizing, but trying to find a qualified role that was part time was like searching for a Dibbler, so I ended up applying for whatever I thought I would get. Sound familiar, other mumtrepreneurs?

At least it'll bring in some pennies to keep me in the bedraggled style to which I have been accustomed :) If you like the embroidery designs above, you can get them from the fabulous Sublime Stitching as a transfer sheet.

Other cheerful news this week - munchkin has a beautiful new handmade dress courtesy of Grandma Pickled Weasel. I made a teeny weeny bit of it - the appliqued flowers, and I think I sewed 2 seams. The original idea was that it was going to be a dress for Christmas day, with baubles round the bottom. Only I was supposed to be making it, so when it got to mid february and it still wasn't finished, Grandma took over :)

Unfortunately munchkin doesn't stand up yet, and dresses don't photograph very well when you're sat on your big cloth nappy bum, so here's a shot of it sans munchkin. Why is needlecord so difficult to photograph??

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Help! I neeeed somebody...

see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Help! Not just anyyyybody...
Well, actually, it could be anybody. As part of my business plan I'm conducting some market research, and I've put together some questions using Survey Monkey (which I can highly recommend, it's easy to use and it's free!)
I'd be really grateful if you could take 5 minutes to answer them - there's only 10 questions, and they're not very taxing. There's a prize draw for a £5.00 book voucher as an added bonus - I know it's not a very big prize, but my marketing fund isn't very big either :)
Here's the link:


Escape Attempt

I came across this hardy little soul yesterday when I was doing mashed potato for tea. He was at the bottom of a cupboard, and had obviously escaped from a previous batch of potatoes in a plastic bag. He'd got quite far, and he knew where the light was coming from because he had nearly reached the top of the cupboard door. Such effort for such a little thing!

He's in the bin now.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Go Wimmin!

Today I went to a Sales and Marketing workshop run by Innovate, which is a project linked to Women Mean Business. It was fab. There were nine other women there, all new to business, and all with great ideas. We did a lot of talking, and not many of the exercises that were in our handout (oops!), but it was great just to bounce marketing ideas off each other. My favourite came from a woman who specialises in making forensics chemicals for universities (I know it sounds bizarre, but it's a great niche market!). She sent out surveys to potential customers asking what they would like, and enclosed a tea bag with the survey, suggesting that they make themselves a nice brew and sit down to fill out the survey. Needless to say she got lots of responses :)

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Five From Folksy

This is a feature I'll run every couple of weeks on a Sunday. There are lots of lovely talented peeps over at Folksy, and it's where I sell my stuff. Every fortnight I'll choose five of my favourite items based around a theme. Today is International Women's Day, and so I searched for 'Women' using the wizardy Folksy search engine, and then cherry-picked my favs. Enjoy!

This natural linen bag from raspberry is so simple, but really pretty.

iLEAiYE's Purple shrug is my kind of knitwear :) Soft, easy to fling on, and looks effortless.

This zine from Colouring Outside the Lines features the work of 10 female artists.

This deliciously light scarf from Alona Kemmett Textiles is perfect for spring.

And last but not least, this beautiful bracelet from Ali Bali Jewellery would be the perfect present for any woman to show how much she is appreciated (hint hint Mr. Pickled Weasel!)

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Rhubarb and Custard

Mmmmmm, rhubarb....*drool*
Last night I made Rhubarb Cinnamon Polenta Cake, using this recipe from Nigel Slater in the Observer Magazine a couple of weeks ago. I'm always tearing out recipes and stuffing them in the back of my cook book in the hope that one day I'll get round to doing them, but they normally stay crumpled up and un-used :(

So this time I bought the rhubarb from the market specifically so I'd have to make it, and I finally got time last night. It was deeeeelicious, so much so it didn't even need custard :)

I've also had a chance to test out my new fabric paints, but I'm not that impressed. The sample I'd put through the washing machine didn't fare very well - the glitter had washed off completely from the purple! I had some T-shirt samples from wholesalers that I've been using as test garments and I thought I'd try out some Easter stamps and try washing them again. I'm liking the chicks, but thinking the design needs to end in 'egg': Egg, Chicken, Egg, Chicken, Egg! My quest for the perfect fabric paint continues....

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Lovely new cards

I know I said I'd blog every other day, but I figure if I manage every day then it's a bonus, and I was so excited about the little parcel I got this morning I just had to share it.

I ordered some business cards from Moo on Sunday, and they arrived today. They came in a lovely little card box that I can use to carry them around in, which I promptly got olive oil all over as I was cooking for the munchkin at the time and was so eager to tear open the packet I didn't stop to wash my hands. Doh.

My only problem is now that they're so nice I don't want to give them to anyone :)

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Hello! Thanks for dropping by. This is my brand new blog, all shiny and sparkly and....well, empty! Hopefully it'll fill up soon with lots of pretty posts. I've made a promise to myself to blog every other day, usually on a crafty subject, sometimes about my daughter (known from now on as 'munchkin'), and an occasional rant on random subjects thrown in for good measure :)

So my opening post features all three:

a) I've just got some exciting new fabric paints and they go on their maiden washing machine voyage tomorrow - I've printed a couple of tests stamps on a piece of jersey and I'm testing them for staying power. They're acrylics for fabrics, and so far I've been impressed with them. Photos to follow if they survive a 40 degree wash.

b) Munchkin, above, wearing one of my products. Hence the excitement about new fabric paints :)
c) Those new plug-in fragrance every 30 minutes motion censor air fresheners. Are they really necessary? Has society really got to the stage where we need chemicals sprayed into our living rooms every 30 minutes? What smells are we trying to cover up? What's wrong with the smell of 'house' (bacon, coffee, sports kit, wet dog, bubble bath, woodsmoke, leather sofa, musty damp bit in the attic, burnt toast)? They're a waste of energy and they make me cross.
There you go, a taste of what's to come. Hope you'll be popping by again soon, I'll keep some biscuits in just in case.