Saturday, 24 December 2011

Excitement Builds!

A walk to one of the highest Churches still holding service,

A moment to take in the amazing views,

and to understand why people believed it was the nearest Church to heaven.

And after the marching and climbing a Hot Chocolate to warm our souls!

Not a bad way to spend Christmas Eve.

Have a very Happy Christmas
J x

Friday, 23 December 2011

Sewing on the Countdown

Surprisingly this Christmas I found myself with only one present to make [so mum if your about to read this before xmas day please look away now!] So I felt under no pressure as I was sure having the week before Christmas to make a set of cushions for my mum would be plenty of time. Of course if I had stuck to my original plan and had no last minute shopping to do, lots of wrapping to get done and the entertaining of 3 very excited kids to contend with, then yes a week would have been fine!

 Ever since this mail bag arrived in the post I've been wishing I could get a fabric just like it so as soon as I saw Joel Dewberry's Heirloom collection over at  M is for Make I feel in love with the colours and patterns and set about quickly cutting and sewing up the cushion fronts. I love Dewberry's Rose Bouquet in gold and it is more of a gold than a yellow as it has come up in my photos and the leaves are a deeper purple. I do have a concern that the colours are a bit bright for my parents house who like their neutral colours but it's been lovely working with such bright and luxurious colours I'm just hoping they will fall in love with them just as much as I have.

 For the second cushion rather than sticking with my original idea of doing a log cabin block I decided to try something I've never attempted before but has been on my to do list for sometime! Of course this is the moment the 'no pressure sewing' turned into a complete nightmare as I got totally confused with how the blocks of two strips of different fabrics that I'd made were ever going to form a zigzag but eventually after quite a lot of head scratching and wasted time I managed to make cushion 2!

I'll be honest and admit that the lines of zigzags were supposed to be all different, but as I said I did get confused and found having every other line as the plain fabric made it easier to put it all together. I also didn't realise until after I'd sewn the cushion front together that it was too small, and not being able to add more blocks to it I decided to put a thin border in which I think has worked out well.

I thoroughly enjoyed making it and could have quite easily carried on sewing the zigzags together to form a quilt top if I'd had more time. So whilst I can remember how to do it I'm definitely going to be making more! Both cushion fronts have been lightly quilted, with a layer of flannel and then some plain fabric. I also sewed the cushions together using French seams, as I wanted them to be neat for my mum, though in doing so the corners are rather bulky and cushion #1 has become a bit smaller than I had hoped for. The envelope backs are made using a linen/cotton blend fabric and I've finished them off with a decorative stitch.

 So now I just need to get them wrapped up and finish the kids wrapping so it looks like we're in for a busy evening but then I think we maybe ready for the big day. 
Of course the kids have been ready for Christmas Day ever since the first decorations arrived in the shops in September!!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Counting down!

The countdown for Christmas is among us, 
in fact for me it feels like it has nearly ended as I will be closing my a crafty hen shops tonight at 9pm so I can get orders wrapped and ready for posting on my way to work Wednesday morning. My OH asked why I was closing the shops and not keeping them open, making it clear that after Wednesday I couldn't guarantee arrival of parcels before Christmas day, but no I can already feel myself slowing down and the last few months have been good, and profitable but very hard work and I'm quite desperate to have a moment to catch my breathe!
 {last stocking in shop}

Anyway I still have Christmas presents to make and projects for the house to complete and then there's the trousers for #2 and #3 I've been meaning to make and the tunics for #3, and the quilt for snuggling underneath on the sofa to finish that I started this time last year, and the wholesale enquiry that I need to consider and then of course there are the usual demands of Christmas that young children bring, the nativity plays, award assembles, xmas parties, quite frankly my head is spinning and I need a rest!

{new fun cushions in my shop}

2011 has been an amazing year for me. Starting out as 'Sew Vintage Obsessed' as a hobby and ending with 'a crafty hen' as a small business. I have a lot of thinking and refining to do and I also need to remember everything I have learnt along the way and are still learning, good and bad and to take it all on board.

{Gorgeous Gift Set with a lovely Scandinavian Xmas feel to it}

So for me the nights of working into the small hours completing orders and making stock for fairs is coming to an end, and I'm looking forward to finishing off personal projects for my family and then I'm also excited about new ideas and fabrics that I have to make new stock for filling my shops with for the New Year, 
so in fact I have a feeling I won't be slowing down at all!

Friday, 4 November 2011

Still here!

I'm still here just! With a head spinning of all I need to get done for fairs in the next coming weeks, stock to take into local shop, commissions to finish and an online shop and my folksy shop to keep stocked!! I'm starting to feel a little stressed. As ever in the back of my mind I am wondering if I have bitten off more than I can chew, but I keep telling myself that once November is over I think things will calm down. I am already looking forward to an evening when I have no sewing, no cutting of labels, no stuffing of items to be done, and I know Mr D is looking forward to not being on cooking duty every night of the week! However we did find the time to take the kids out trick and treating for the first time, with friends and they had a wonderful time. It made me realise how generous our neighbours are and what a wonderful neighbourhood spirit our village has. I really can't believe how excited the kids got about Halloween and after coming back with bags full of goodies I some how don't think this will be the last time we go trick or treating, though trying to explain to our 2yr old that putting her witches hat on and going out in the dark doesn't mean she'll get sweets is proving difficult!!

Regular blogging will resume soon, I promise, especially as I have so much to share with you! I'll see you then!

Friday, 9 September 2011

Me Time!

Tonight I am enjoying the view of my sewing area.
For today I have finally managed to do some sewing for myself and family! 
And it feels good!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Hello September, Hello New Stock!

I wasn't expecting to get much sewing done through the school holidays, maybe a little for myself, but not a lot for my shop. I started the holiday with finishing off commissions, lost the middle of the month to life in general and then somehow out of nowhere I have managed to grab little opportunities throughout the day to get ironing and cutting done which has then meant that I have got quite a bit of sewing done in the evening.

I have completed three new baby gift sets, each comprises of a matching bib, burp cloth and come nestled in a storage basket, which can be used for so many things. I adore making these and are pleased that they sell so well. The set above is made using Carolyn Gavin's Spring Street which is such a bright and cheerful print that is perfect for both boys and girls.

This farmyard set uses one of my favourite boys prints. I love the tractors with their smiley faces and the cute vegetables and teamed with the red gingham fabric I think it is adorable. And then I've finally got round to restocking this Girls Scandinavian Gift Set. The first time I listed it on Folksy it sold within a day so I have my fingers crossed that this one will do as well!

I have also made matching ribbon blankets, though I have listed them separately as they make for lovely presents whether on their own or bought with a matching gift set. 

All the gift sets and blankets are available in my a crafty hen shop and I will be listing the items on Folksy over the Next few days. 
Well if I can carry on at this medium pace I might just get ready for the few Christmas fairs I have planned! And as for the bit of sewing for myself, that never happened, though I did buy some gorgeous fabrics for myself, so I guess that is a start!!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

That Feeling......

Ever since #1 started school I seem to reach this time of year feeling guilty. It is a strange feeling of guilt as it is based on various thoughts. The thought that part of me is happy that in a weeks time life will go back to some sort of routine, whilst the other part of me is feeling guilty about how sad I feel that our time together chilling out is coming to an end. Also I know that for the first few weeks of school #1 will be upset which makes me already feel upset. And then there is the feeling of guilt that I have, over whether we really have made the most of the last 5 weeks off. Of course British summer time has had a part to play and in many ways has let us down again in giving us dreary wet days that don't lend themselves to picnics and days spent splashing in the paddling pool. I do seem to have kids that love being at home and the boys by and large have got on better than they ever have, and it has been very special to see them engrossed in their lego and make believe games, it's been a real sign that they are growing up. But this and endless rain, has lead to many days inside and I do worry that they will return to school and preschool to hear stories of flights and holidays spent exploring places new and exotic and when asked what they have done there answer of "played lego in my bedroom with  my brother" will sound extremely bland and boring. But heh this wasn't the case for all the days oh no!! We did manage a camping trip to Cornwall and even though 4 out of the 5 days were wet we got around and saw things that we hadn't seen before and had experiences that quite frankly I can't imagine we will experience again!

On the second day of our camping trip we set off across the coast to St Ives. #1 was very unimpressed with the whole day we had planned as whilst we were in St Ives we wanted to visit the Tate Gallery and the Barbara Hepworth  Museum, neither of which filled him with delight, but as I tried to explain we all had things we wanted to do on our holiday and if the rain disappeared we would spend the rest of the day on the beach. Well we eventually got to the Tate, I say eventually as we ended up following signs for the car park only to find ourselves parked a good distance away and with no pushchair we did end up dragging (quite literally) the 3 kids quite away to reach our finally destination. And just when the day couldn't get much more unexciting for them, and the thoughts of why are we trying to go round an art gallery with a 6, 3 and 1 yr old we spied the balloons. And in answer I'm sure to my 6 yr olds dreams yes you 'even' got to go in with them. Now that is an experience I'm sure we won't get again!

The experience of walking through a room full of balloons (curtsey of Martin Creed) is crazy and incredibly fun, (possibly not what our 1yr old thought) but whether or not it got you thinking about spacial awareness as it was intended to, it certainly lifted the spirits of two young boys and followed by being measured for another installation the Tate got the thumbs up! And the boys left having seen and experienced things that they didn't except to and that is in many ways the delights of Art.

Measuring the Universe by Roman Ondák is a mark of your height with just your name and date taken written which when viewed looks like the words speed past you from right to left, a very clever idea and probably my favourite room in the gallery. The trip to the Barbara Hepworth Museum didn't manage to stimulate the kids in the same way but for me it was so worth the visit and a fascinating view into a life of a very creative mind.

Thankfully the rest of the holiday followed suit and we had some lovely days exploring gardens in between showers and finding beaches that we hadn't set foot on before.

So maybe that's it. The day before they return to school and preschool we should have a slide show. Just to jog their memories of the days spent as explorers finding our way through the undergrowth of the Cornish jungle! Of the sights, smells and tastes of experiences new. Of the evening spent in the drizzle crabbing when 'mummy' was so petrified that #3 (22mth old) was going to full head first into the sea over the harbour wall that I wouldn't even let go of her long enough to take a photo, though I wish I had when 'daddy' decided to let the bucket of crabs go on the wall and seemed to think that they would all naturally jump back into the sea. The sound of the kids squealing as the crabs went in every direction other than the sea was delightful. Of the evening spent sitting in a steamed up car eating a tea of fish and chips whilst watching the fishermen (in the rain) and realising we weren't haven't to tell the kids to 'eat' every five minutes. Of the only dry evening spent running around the campsite playing a family version of football that left us all crying with laughter. These memories I hope will stay with the children for a long time because for me they have made my summer.

Monday, 8 August 2011

A Little Relaxing And A Year Older

Well it wasn't quite the start to the summer holidays that I had planned! On the first day of the holidays I came down with a throat infection, which completely knocked me for six, and it soon become apparent that the only thing I could do was to wait for the antibiotics to work and in the meantime rest. Now rest especially bed rest doesn't come easy to me, I normally try and carry on regardless. But once I got over the guilty feeling of lying in bed in the day, and leaving my OH to entertain three very lively kids, I soon realised it was a chance to do a bit of reading.

My birthday is exactly a week after my eldest so it's easy for it to get a little over looked. I did my usual of ordering myself a present on behalf of the others in the house! I've been excited about this book 'My Heart Wanders'  ever since I read about it in the first issue of Mollie Makes. It is a gorgeous book, and soon my thoughts turned to living on a house boat in Amsterdam. The only tiny thing that I think is a shame is how dark the photos are. They certainly set the scene but leave you wishing you could see more. Now I must quickly say that after I had unwrapped my book another present appeared and inside was this lovely Orla Kiely mug. I've been wanting to start collecting them for ages so this was a real treat and I think my OH has made a very good choice!

Then just when I thought my birthday surprise couldn't get any better a third present appeared and inside was this stunning Oral Kiely  storage jar. Well let's just say I spent the day feeling very spoilt! What with such gorgeous presents and a little fabric shopping and a lovely lunch at Cowslip Workshops it was one of the best birthdays for a long time! And then just to top it off I decided to spend my birthday money I had been sent (thanks mum and dad) on an Orla Kiely composter.

I just love the fact that something so practical can be so stylish. And it now takes pride of place in our kitchen.  So now I seem to have crept into my mid-thirties how did that happen, and how did my little boy suddenly turn 6? His growing up really does feel like it has crept up on us and then shouted boo! And I'll admit that I spent a few days leading up to #1's birthday feeling pretty low and depressed. Purely for the fact that 6 sounds old and he really now has become a boy. He has gained independence and a life of his own out of our family unit with school and at times I feel like I just want to hug him so hard and keep him all too myself . So I really had to work hard to get excited about his birthday which I know sounds terrible. But then it happened.

We had celebrated his birthday on the Sunday even though it was really on the Monday. So after school on the Monday afternoon we asked him what he would like to do and gave him options like going to the park. His choice was to go up onto the moors and after a paddle in a stream we set off on a hike up one of the Tors and it was at this point that I realised that his growing up was very exciting indeed. For a year ago a walk on the Moors would have been met with a 'no', but now, now my big boy wants to run and jump, explore and climb. He wants to get to the top of the hill first and generally does, he can sit and admire the view and begin to understand the beauty in his surroundings. He has really matured in the last 12 months and in doing so has become a very caring and sensitive soul. A little stubborn at times and still unsure of new things but he has become a lego crazed boy and I'm looking forward to doing a hell of a lot more exploring with him, for I now realise that him becoming 6 has opened up a whole new chapter in our lives, which is something to be celebrated and for that reason and a million overs I love him dearly.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Non Stop

I've been a wee bit quiet around here of late, but that doesn't mean I haven't got things to share with you, oh no quite the contrary, I just haven't had a moment to spare, every second I can find I've been busy sewing. I'm not complaining as the interest in 'a crafty hen' has been amazing, but I am looking forward to slowing down now that the summer holidays are upon us, and to take stock of how my little business is growing and where exactly I want to take it.

I had a great time at our pre-schools summer fair at the weekend. And I'm pleased that all the hard work and late nights were worth it. It's not just the making of the items that takes time, it's the little things like printing off labels, threading ribbon through them all, attaching them to the item that takes time. Then there is the display to work out and the props to find, all this equates to my OH having to cook of an evening and me still sorting it all out at midnight!! I'm beginning to realise that behind all good businesses there is a very supportive partner, in my case a very understanding, if a little neglected husband! Of course if I could convince my youngest to go back to having a nap in the day it wouldn't be so bad, but unfortunately nap time seems to definitely be a thing of the past so if I'm to continue at this pace it looks like I'll have to get use to late nights!

So I'm looking forward to catching up on some sleep over the holidays and hopefully once I have worked through the commissions I have, some family sewing. And then there are the blog posts I want to write and the camping trips to plan and the days out at the beach, I have a feeling that the next five weeks are going to zoom by!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Strawberry Fever

So the strawberry season is well and truly among us, and the kids have been happily munching their way through our crop so quickly in fact that I have failed to get a photo of our best crop ever to show you or even to eat one myself!

All this 'strawberry' fever has had an effect on my latest choice of fabrics. I couldn't resist this fun berry print when I saw it and I have enjoyed teaming it with a dark pink gingham fabric to make this bib and burp cloth set which is available here and here.

I've also been making some girls tote bags for the fairs I have been doing. There size makes them ideal for a young girl to fill with her toys, hair clips or books and to carry them around with her just like her mummy!

I can't believe how quickly girls get into their bags my 19mth old already loves filling hers up with what ever she can find and I do mean 'whatever'! I have added one to my on-line shop and one to my folksy shop a crafty hen   

As for our crop of strawberries, I think the kids have eaten most of our crop and have now started on our raspberries and loganberries. I wonder if I'll manage to get to eat a few myself or even better to get some into the kitchen to do some cooking with them?

Monday, 27 June 2011

Yes it is the summer

We have spent the last few weeks trying to convince #2 (our 3 yr old) that it is indeed the summer. On a daily basis he asks the question "Is it the summer now?" and however hard I try to explain that yes it is even though it may be a tad cold and wet it is the season we call summer he looks at me through very disbelieving eyes and smiles rather patronisingly and shakes his head! Well finally yesterday with temperatures suddenly soaring into the mid twenties he announced to us all that 
"Today, it is summer", 
so with that we headed up onto the moors to do a bit of paddling!
I think we forget sometimes what is on our door step.

And with views like this we all enjoyed our 'day' of summer very much.

And today, well as it gets darker and darker and looks like it's about to rain, #2 has just asked me what season is it today! When will I finally convince him that it is the summer it's just the British summertime weather that he needs to come to terms with!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

At Home With The Blues

I love the colour blue, especially when found on this Cathrineholm coffee pot that Mr D spotted at a vintage fair on Saturday for the ghastly sum of £6! 
I'm hoping this means that our thrifting drought has ended! 
It's now taking pride of place in our kitchen. And taking centre stage in our garden is my new blue hydrangea. The photo does not do the vibrancy of the colour justice. It is such a gorgeous blue and a welcome splash of colour in the garden especially under the grey skies we have been having lately.

And on my work table this small fat quarter makes my heart jump, every time I catch a glimpse of it. It is such an attractive blue and being voile it is so silky to the touch.

My regret is that I only managed to buy such a small amount off Kate from misformake. It is such a powerful blue and I am having to stop myself from getting too distracted by it's charm. 

Friday, 10 June 2011

Vintage Solution

I got some very strange looks as I carted my newly bought vintage suitcases home this week. There we were youngest in double pushchair sat next to 3 suitcases piled on top of one another in the seat next to her, with #2 walking alongside. Not only did we get some puzzled glances we also got some odd comments! I couldn't decide in the end if people thought it was cruel that my 3 year old was having to walk whilst the suitcases travelled in style or if they thought I was a gypsy travelling alone with two young kids either way, I couldn't help but laugh!

And here they are safely at home with the other two I bought a few weeks ago. I must say I am totally in love with there usefulness and charm. Each one is so different, in size, colour and in condition, and even the most scruffiest one tells a story. The large suitcase on the bottom fascinates me with its stickers of countries visited.

To me , they conjure up some fantastic images and stories in my mind!

They work so well storing all my excess fabric and are great for transporting my handmade goods to the fairs, it was an ingenious idea of Mr D, though at the time of suggesting it I don't think he was expecting five to appear in our bedroom! He is beginning to think a studio would be a very good idea, I wish!!
For now I will be grateful for my new found storage solution, at least they stack neatly away on top of my wardrobe and I can spend my nights dreaming of where they have travelled and what they have seen.
I can imagine they have a tale or too to tell!

Monday, 6 June 2011

Just one more day!

I'm trying to ignore the fact that today is Monday and Mr D has just gone off to work, and tomorrow my two boys return to school and nursery. We've had a lovely week off and had our first camping trip of the year, made even more exciting as we met up with my Brother in law and family which meant the kids had two older cousins to play with, or should I say to keep entertained!

There was plenty of 'follow my leader' going on! 

And plenty of new places to visit even though we never left the county of Devon!

Bicton Botanical Gardens did not disappoint and there was so much to see and do that it was impossible to explore it all in a day.

Though I know there will be no complaints from the kids when we say we want to go back, they loved it!

And with memories of days like this it is so difficult to contemplate the thought of returning to our normal routine tomorrow. So the plan for today is a morning spent in pjs and an afternoon for the boys spent at the park with Grandparents, and for me time on the sewing machine, a great end to the holiday then!