Sunday, 2 August 2015

Book Review: The Crafter's Guide to Taking Great Photos

The Crafter's Guide to Taking Great Photos by Heidi Adnum is a fabulous reference guide which claims to provide 'foolproof techniques to make your handmade creations shine online' and I love it! 

 It is a wonderful read with masses of information and (obviously) fabulous photography.  I don't have an SLR camera but have still found plenty of great hints and tips. 

The problem I have is not with this book but with myself as I am still rubbish at photographing my work!  I think I need to put regular time aside to study the book in detail. Oh and move to a gorgeous country cottage to provide a backdrop for my new professionally shot product photos.  

Monday, 27 July 2015

Happy Holidays - Ambleside

We spent last week in a gorgeous cottage in Ambleside in the Lake District and had a brilliant time.  Our group consisted of my husband and I, our two girls and my parents - 3 generations to keep happy, well happyish,

For other lovers of this area, I thought I'd share a few recommendations for places we visited.

We booked through Lakelovers and stayed at Fell View, a 3 bed, 2 bath cottage with a little garden.  

It was prettily decorated with kitchen/living area as well as a separate dining room and the general consensus was that the standard of the accommodation was high and that we'd definitely stay there again.  

The only negative for some people would be that the cottage is approximately 200m up the Kirkstone Pass and therefore the walk from the village is very steep.  Personally, I just felt less guilty about the amount of cake I ate at the bottom of the hill as I knew I was burning at least 3 million calories a day climbing back up! 

One of our favourite places to eat was Stiles in Compston Road.

This relatively new coffee shop has a very big menu with very reasonable prices.  My daughter recommends the nachos with cheese, topped with pulled pork, salsa, guacamole, sour cream and jalapenos.

Our other favourite place for cake was Cafe Treff , right in the middle of the village in Central Buildings, a few doors down from the Post Office.  Here we scientifically tried a variety of more unusual delicacies including chocolate, dandelion and burdock cake and beetroot, white chocolate and strawberry cake.

Their current specialty is the white chocolate and vanilla frappe which you may want to order with something savoury as, when eaten with cake, causes sugar overload!!

As I was officially on holiday, no sewing took place and, by the end of the week I was suffering real withdrawal symptoms so took to the sketchpad instead. 

Sadly, without a lottery win in sight, the holiday had to end but I've come back relaxed and with loads of ideas for new work.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Embroidery Picture - Crail Village, East Neuk of Fife

A couple of weeks ago I finished another landscape.  This time the subject was one of the loveliest villages in Scotland - Crail in the East Neuk of Fife.

This historic fishing village is on the Fife Coastal path and hosts a wonderful food festival every summer.  

If you had to name the most picturesque place in Britain, where would it be?  Maybe your favourite will become my next project.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Summer has arrived (hopefully)

Where has the first half of the year gone? I can't believe it's July already.  At least summer seems to have finally arrived though.  I just hope that we get good weather for the school holidays.

We live on the north east coast of England and our town's main beach, Sandhaven, was recently awarded with a Blue Flag award.  As we live here, I don't think we always appreciate how scenic our area is.    

Although, at times, the sky looked a bit ominous, the sea was almost totally calm.  

There are a number of artists and photographers who have produced some great pieces based on this beach and its surrounding area.  

One of my first landscapes was based on a scene from Sandhaven's neighbouring beach, Littlehaven and shows a view across the River Tyne with the Groyne Lighthouse in the foreground.  This little lighthouse was built in 1882 and is situated at the end of a small pier that was built to prevent sand from Littlehaven Beach being swept into the river by the incoming tide.

This design is available on greetings cards in my Etsy shop

Keep everything crossed that the good weather continues throughout the school holidays.  x

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Embroidered Tea Cosy - St Ives House, Cornwall

A couple of weeks ago I received a commission from Julia, the owner of one of the most beautiful holiday cottages I've seen in a very long time.

St Ives House has a spectacular harbour front position in the heart of, you've guessed it, St Ives in Cornwall. It is a boutique art house with an impressive contemporary art collection which showcases the town's local heritage.

I was extremely happy to accept Julia's request for a tea cosy to complement the decor in this stunning property. 

With her colour palette of orange, grey and teal, we came up with a design that incorporated not only the magnificent views from the house but also the signature porthole which can be seen on the front door and is the official logo for the property.

You may be able to see that the tea cosy has a 'turn up' at the bottom.  This is to allow it to fit not only a large tea pot, but also a cafetiere when it is turned down.

I would heartily recommend that you have a look at this gorgeous house if you are considering a trip to Cornwall.  From the customer's point of view, there is a lovely article on Little Green Shed Blog about the blogger's family holiday at St Ives House in May 2015.

If you are interested in having a bespoke item designed especially for you, contact me at   

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Book Review: Applique Art by Abigail Mill

Here's another of my favourite sewing books: Applique Art by Abigail Mill.  I have admired Abigail's work for a while so, when I found out she was writing a book, I pre-ordered it.  When it arrived, I was not disappointed  

It is a really beautiful book with gorgeous photographs and gives an insight into how Abigail uses colour, texture, pattern and stitching to create her unique style.  

It also features step by step instructions on how to create 5 of Abigail's lovely artworks:

  • Shop Fronts
  • Teatime Treats
  • Country Gardens
  • Animals
  • Seaside
I really enjoyed reading the section on how Abigail over-dyes fabrics, something I have never tried - yet. 

I would definitely recommend this book for both beginners and also more experienced Applique-ists.  Even if it has nothing to teach you, it is still a charming book to read.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Coffee Pot Wraps vs Cosies

It's time to deal with that old argument of Coffee pot wraps versus cosies :) . Should your weekend morning coffee be wrapped snugly in the embrace of a well fitted body warmer........

.......... or blanketed from top to bottom in an all encompassing cosy?

Personally, I drink instant Alta Rica in a morning but if I was brewing a big pot of 'Joe' that I wanted to last a good while, I'd go for the cosy.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Book Review: The Cloth, Paper, Scissors Book

As an avid reader, I love to read all sorts of books but I have a special weakness for sewing/craft/cookery books.  Although I love my Kindle and will happily read novels on it, you can't beat the feeling when you have a new illustrated book in that old fashioned medium - paper!

I thought I would start to share my thoughts on my favourite crafty books starting with The Cloth Paper Scissors Book by Barbara Delaney.  

Although the book is available on Amazon for £16.54, it is currently available on Stitch Craft Create for only £5.49

It is a collection of the best articles and projects from Cloth Paper Scissors magazine and features chapters on:

  • Printmaking and surface design
  • Journals and bookmaking
  • Collage and assemblage
  • Mixed media stitching
  • Encaustic, metal and jewellery
  • Getting your work out there
Although my interest is towards the fabric and stitching sections of the book, I loved all of the photography and am tempted to try some other techniques.  The instructions in the projects are very well written and easy to follow.  

So if you are looking for something a bit different and which also gives you the opportunity to those bits and bobs that we all save 'just in case' we can think of something to do with them, then have a look at this book.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Catch Up

Once again, it's been a while since I last posted to this blog.  The last few months have been lovely and busy for me and I have had some great orders.  

My recipe notebooks are really popular at the minute but I have to admit, I am itching to develop some new designs.  Although I love making my standard designs, it does tend to get a bit tedious when I have to make a lot of the same thing in a short space of time.  I do try to put a little variation in each so that each customer gets a truly individual piece but I need to start doing something different.

Today I have a day off from my day job so, after my orders are complete, I think I'll start thinking about new designs and will hopefully have something to show you soon.