Monday 25 December 2017

Happy Christmas

Happy Christmas to all blog readers and commenters out there (who celebrate this festive season). 

As has become a tradition on my blog, I again quote from one of my favourite Christmas carols,"It came upon the midnight clear" written by Edmund Sears in 1849 (thanks to Wikipedia).  The words remain as relevant and poignant now as they were when they were written.

"Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel-strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man at war with man, hears not
The love song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing."

As a counterpoint to all the tragedy and sadness which we all know about on such a regular basis, here is a part of the Desiderata ("Desiderata" (Latin: "desired things") which comes into my head every now and again.  It is a 1927 prose poem by American writer Max Ehrmann - with thanks to Wikipedia again).

"...And whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy."

It is still a beautiful world despite everything and there is a lot of good out there. 
The photo above was taken yesterday and shows my camellia Yoimachi flowering for the first time.
I hope that you have a lovely and peaceful Christmas and New Year.

Sunday 17 December 2017

Nice things - sheep and embossing folders and Brusho Paints

I recently made two sheep for my good (virtual) friend at Elephant's Child who has been a wonderful support to my blog and who had expressed a liking for the needle felted sheep I had made for my craft stall.  I felt that she should have some of her own as a thank you.  They arrived safely with her in Australia and she very kindly featured them on her blog post for today.
 I think they made her smile.  I am going to be making lots more sheep in the coming year!
 I have also been playing with new things, like embossing folders on satin board.  For those not familiar with embossing folders, they are a plastic folder which has a pattern on the inside.  When they are run through a die cutting machine, the pattern is pushed into the paper or card and it looks like my examples above.  The ones I used above are really detailed, but the detail has come through really well.  They will probably be used in card making projects.
 I have also finally got round to playing with my Brusho paints.  These are a highly pigmented form of watercolour paint which come in little pots.  They are in a crystal form, so for my first experiments, I wet the paper and sprinkled a little bit of the colour out - you have to make a hole in the lids and shake the pots.  The crystals immediately spread out and formed rather lovely patterns and colour mixes.  I did find that they stained my fingers a bit so need to be aware of that (the colour did go after a couple of days).  Adding more water helped the colours to blend, but I found I needed to be careful as too much water made them more difficult to control and I started to lose some of the lovely effects.
They can be used as traditional watercolour paints and there are videos on Youtube to demonstrate lots of other effects.  I like the effect for the background on a card, and I also like the way each one is unique as I would never be able to get the same image twice.  I hope to do more playing over the Christmas break.

Sunday 10 December 2017


 Like most of the UK, we have had snow.  This was the scene looking down the garden this morning.  However, we were luckier than a lot of people as the snow hasn't settled and has pretty much gone now.
 I like the snow to look at, but don't like it if we have to go anywhere.
My poor box bushes were looking a bit chilly!
There was just one thing to do.  Light the fire and settle down in the warm to write some Christmas cards.  So, that's what I did.

Sunday 3 December 2017

Seeing Robert Webb

Last Friday night, we went to see and hear Robert Webb reading from his book, 'How not to be a boy' and being interviewed at the local City Library, as part of a tour.  For those who don't recognise the name, Robert Webb is a comedian ('Peep Show', 'Back', 'That Mitchell and Webb Look'), but he is proudest of his writing - for the comedies mentioned and work for other comedians too.  While Peep Show is not really my cup of tea, it has been very successful.  I did watch and enjoy That Mitchell and Webb Look.  He has also given a winning performance of the famous audition scene from Flashdance for Comic Relief in 2009, which endeared him to many (click here to see it).  He originates from Lincolnshire and occasionally comes back, but as he said, most of his family are dead, so he doesn't visit as often as he used to.
He was incredibly erudite, answering questions from the audience with aplomb and being genuinely funny.  Many of these questions centred around gender stereotyping and he gave some thought-provoking, sensitive answers.
Needless to say, Chris bought his book which Mr Webb signed and it is next on my reading list.  It has had really good reviews.  I think it will be quite challenging in places, but it includes important issues obviously close to his heart, as well as being a memoir.
There was one really good piece of advice he gave on writing a book (this one took him two years).  Ask yourself three questions and if you can't answer 'yes' to them, don't write it:
Does the book need to be written?
Does the book need to be written by you?
Does the book need to be written by you now? 

Edited to add:  I am about a third of the way through and yes, it is well written and interesting, but (and it could be a big but for some readers), there is extremely strong language from the start and throughout. (I thought I should let you know).

Thursday 23 November 2017

Stitching Santa 2017 progress

I have been gathering suitable gifts, most with a sewing theme, but a couple of surprises too, for the Stitching Santa swap/exchange, hosted by Sewchet which I'm taking part in.  My parcel will be going abroad, so I need to get it sent off soon, so that it will arrive before Christmas.  Part of the fun is not knowing who is sending the gifts to you.
I have made a little fabric storage box, using a tutorial from SewforSoul, which can be found  here .  It was a great tutorial, easy to follow and I enlarged the pattern just a little to make a bigger version.  I used the fabric which I bought to make a doorstop back in 2015, which you can read about here.  So far, it has made a doorstop, a notebook cover and now a fabric box.  I used fusible wadding to give the material a bit of added strength and that was a first, but was easy to sew through and worked well.
It could have just a little bit of the inside material showing, as above,  but Chris thought it looked better with a bigger amount on show, so that's what I did.
I used some green cotton material for the inside which worked really well, picking up the green on the outer fabric.  I am really pleased with the result and hope that the recipient will like it too.

Sunday 19 November 2017

Cakes and cards

 In amongst preparing for the craft fair, birthdays of friends and colleagues have come and gone.  My colleague, Leanne, had a big birthday last year and I made her the cake above with birthday bunting.
 This year, it was the same 'Russion Roulette Revels cake', minus the bunting.  I have written about this cake before and it is a great recipe, keeps moist and has the most delicious chocolate fudge icing, but works equally well with chocolate buttercream.  The Revels are a chocolate coated sweet, with various fillings - honeycomb, toffee, orange, chocolate, raisins and coffee.  The last two are my least favourite and I usually get more than my fair share of them!  Leanne says she always looks forward to this cake.
 I have also been making cards, again with bunting (a bit of a theme is developing here, but it is very celebratory, isn't it?).  This was for a birthday in September.
 This was Leanne's card this year.  I used glossy accents on the bunting to make it shine and used a kit to create the card.
 This is for a colleague's 50th birthday this week and involved stamping, heat embossing, glitter and glitter paper.  It was very enjoyable to make too.
 I added a few stamps and die cut numbers to the inside too.
The great thing about using stamps is that the envelope can be decorated too.  I have a feeling that I may be making more cards in the future... in fact, my mum is 80 in less than a month, so that is a perfect reason to make another card.

Tuesday 14 November 2017

The Big Craft Event

I had a good day at the Big Craft Event on Sunday.  The weather was bright and sunny and there were lots of visitors.  Chris and Rachael were wonderful - I couldn't have done it without them.  Chris had made me a shelf last week, when I realised that I needed something substantial to put my framed work on (nothing like leaving things to the last minute, Ellie!).  Rachael was great with arranging the items and having ideas for how to improve for next year and generally being fun to be with. 
Lots of people were very interested in my felt work and in the screen printed pieces in particular, so this is an area I am going to work on next year.  There were enquiries about cards, so that will be another focus, as will smaller pieces.  The birthstone hearts (felt hearts with geniune gemstone charms for the different months - they are on the seasonal tree display) weren't as popular as I had hoped, so I will move away from those, although there were so many hearts on so many stalls, that perhaps people had reached saturation point with them.  Out of all the hearts, the small ones were the best sellers, so I may continue with a few of those.
The biggest surprise was the needle felted sheep, which I had added as a bit of a last minute thing, in order to catch people's eye and encourage them to look at the other items.  I had managed to make six in the end and they all sold.
 They had all been given names and customers seemed to be drawn to them. 
 They are very cute, but I was delighted that customers liked them as much as I did.
I did stab my finger several times making them, but I am getting better at that and I also need to pay attention to my posture as the hours I spent on the last two sheep took their toll on my back. So, more sheep is definitely the way to go!
It was an enjoyable experience and I like meeting people and spreading the joy of felt making.  I also need to look at providing workshops as I had a few enquiries about that too.  In the end, I covered the cost of having the stall and made a little bit of profit too.  I have signed up for next year, so will be working on new items and lots of new ideas over the months.

Saturday 4 November 2017

One more week until The Big Craft Event (and the flock is growing...slowly)

I can't believe how quickly this year has gone.  It doesn't seem two minutes ago when I was saying to myself, "I've got ages until November", but here we are and it's next weekend.  OH, MY GOODNESS, NEXT WEEKEND!
I am looking forward to it although I am a bit nervous too and hope that I will sell something, but it is mainly a way to get my name out there a bit and talk to people. 
My small flock of needle felted sheep is growing, albeit slowly.  I am hoping to make a couple more before next weekend - I think we need a blue one! 
They look like they're either going to start singing, or are taking part in a police line up (or, as Chris so wittily said, a 'fleece' line up!) (edited to add: my friend Rachael suggest it could be the 'ewe-sual suspects' - see what she did there?!  Don't we all love a sheep-themed pun?) in this photo, but they do make me smile.  I hope they have the same effect on people at the craft fair next week.  Right, back to it - now, where did I put my felting needles?

Sunday 29 October 2017

Playing with a new camera

Unfortunately, my Kodak camera which I have been really happy with for a few years, has decided to start letting me down over the battery charging.  If I charge it the night before I need it or the morning I need it, it is fine.  However, after that day, no battery.  I bought a replacement battery but it has proved to be the same, so I am thinking there might be something wrong.  It has taken some lovely photos and I have enjoyed using it, but I decided to buy a new camera. 
After a lot of research, I ended up with the Canon Powershot SX420 IS.  It is different, but it has recognisable buttons and functions.  It has mixed reviews online, but for the price I was happy to pay, it was one of the only options.
This photo is from the Canon website.
 So, I went into the garden to have a practise with it.  Cyclamen Hederifolium looking rather glamorous.
 The changing colours of  Blueberry Goldtraube...
...and again.
 One of the final blooming roses - Gertrude Jekyll.
 Lovely Hydrangea Arborescens Annabelle, fading elegantly.
Miscanthus Silberfeder I think, alongside Rose Gertrude Jekyll.  So far, the camera seems to be OK, although more practising is needed I think.  I'm not sure that the photos have quite the clarity of the Kodak, but time will tell.

Thursday 19 October 2017

Stitching Santa blog swap

Over the years, I have taken part in a lot of blog swaps and exchanges and have really enjoyed them.  It's always lovely to make new friends and send presents.  Receiving presents is nice too, of course.  Recently, I haven't noticed so many to take part in and I have been missing them, so when I saw one which Jo from Through the keyhole is taking part in, I went off to investigate.
It is being run by Sheila at Sewchet and you can choose either knitting/crochet or sewing to take part in.  It is more like a Secret Santa, where someone sends you a present and you send someone else a present, so it isn't a straight swap.  You can spend up to £10.00 (always a good idea to have a limit) and I am looking forward to finding out who I will be sending to.  Some blog stalking (in a nice way), once we have the details will also help to tailor the gifts to the person.
If it sounds like something you'd like to join in with, go on over to Sewchet, where you'll find all the details.  Sign up is open until 31st October, so there's still time!

Sunday 15 October 2017

The Big Craft Event - one month to go

Yes, only one month to go until the Big Craft Event  at the Lincolnshire Showground (12th November 2017 if you'd like to come along) where I am taking my felt work.  I am almost there but just have a few things to finish off and sort out.

 I have made a banner for the front of the stall, and have been very lucky as my talented illustrator friend Rachael has designed a happy sheep logo for me and I have had it made up into a stamp for my packaging materials.
It is a very happy sheep!  I have added a watermark to the above photos, which is not something I usually do on my blog, but I decided it would be sensible to protect that logo.
I know that choosing a name for a hobby, which will work on the internet, as well as any products which you hope to sell, is a difficult process. I settled on 'Feltabulous' in 2009, for this blog and any other website/packaging etc.  I have discovered that other people have also chosen this name, in America and Australia.  This is not too much of a problem as they are in other countries and their work is not like mine.
However, earlier in the year, I discovered that there is someone not too far away from me, also in Lincolnshire, who is using the name, albeit with a variety of upper and lower case fonts and mainly producing needle felted work. I wouldn't mind so much if it was in the UK, but away from Lincolnshire.  I got in touch and asked if we could find a way to distinguish our names, so that our respective customers would not be confused.  Unfortunately, I have had no response.  I have added 'Lincoln' to my packaging in the hope that this will make my work synonymous with me.
I will be busy working away for the next month, finishing off projects and getting it all ready...

Tuesday 3 October 2017

The Knights' Auction - the results

The auction of the Knights from The Knights Trail (the 'cutout' photos are from their website) took place last Saturday night at Lincoln Cathedral and the total amount raised for The Nomad Trust and other organisations was nearly £180,000.
(The photos of the Knights in situ are by Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite.)
 Rachael's Knight, 'Home is where the heart is' raised £4,600.  I think she was really pleased.
 'Knight of the Skies' raised the most, going for £15,000.
He was signed by the last surviving member of  the Dam Busters and will be displayed at the Bomber Command Memorial, just outside Lincoln.

 'Knight in the Forest' raised £9,000.

 'Lincoln Greene' raised £9,200.

'The Luttrell Psalter' raised £4,200.

'The Knight has a thousand eyes' sold for £3,000.
It would be nice to know who bought them and if they can be seen in their new homes.  If you would like to know about the others (and see some good photos of all the Knights in situ on the trail), head over to The Lincolnite).