Tuesday, 29 September 2009

I love Rowandean!

As a lover of all things textiles, and having tried my hand at most major forms of stiching, I do from time to time get a chance to sit down and do some embroidery. I love embroidery because I love the fine detail you can create. Many people think that because I design the things I make myself, I wouldn't enjoy following patterns or kits, but I find you can learn so much from following others, and this in turn can improve your own designs. It is also very relaxing and helps you to improve your technique because you don't have to focus on the design.

My favourite embroidery kits are those made by a company called Rowandean. This family run company takes inspiration from the countryside to produce wonderful sewing kits. What makes their kits unique is their use of texture. In addition to the usual embroidery threads, they use wools, fabric and beads to create texture in their pieces. The kits also often incorporate the use of a frame around the picture which is embroidered as well. The stitches used create texture in the pieces, for example like like to use French knots quite often for flowers and tree leaves.

I love the Rowandean designs because I find nature and countryside inspiring. I love bright, bold prints when I'm making clutch bags for my shop, so this might seems like a contrast or contradiction in tastes, but I do love many things and many styles.

As with most things that aren't for my shop, they are often started and not finished! But I am determined to get them finished eventually as they will look fantastic on the wall. Check out the Rowandean website to see what the completed kits look like. I will post pictures of mine when they are finally finished, but it might take a few months!

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Weekend Travels

This weekend we went up to Newcastle to visit my sister. It was the first time I've seen her new house, and I fell in love with it. It's in the middle of a harbour, right on the edge of the Tyne, and it's such a pretty spot.
She took me to one of the best bead shops I've ever been to. It's called Lebeado, and there is one in Durham and Covent Garden too. I was really pleased to see the shop was very busy, and it was nice to see people sitting in the shop making necklaces and bracelets, such a vibrant, crafty atmosphere.
After that we ventured into the Northumberland countryside, so peaceful and green. I love the countryside, it's where I feel happiest. We thought we were going to run out of petrol at one point! We couldn'd find a petrol station for miles, and when we did find one it had closed at one o'clock, on a Saturday! That's the charm of the countryside! We eventually found one so all was well.

We visited a Roman fort, and saw bits of Hadrians wall.

On Sunday we went down to the start of the Great North Run. I felt completely choked up when I saw all of those people set off on the 13 mile half marathon. It was surprisingly emotional. So emotional that we decided to train for it and attempt it next year! I will keep you posted on the training progress.

After the race we hit the shops then went down to the river to have a look at the Sunday market. It was one of the best open air craft markets I've ever been to. They sold everything, from wonderful mosaic heart shaped mirrors, to button necklaces and crochet hats. I was so busy browsing and buying, that I didn't take any pictures. So you will just have to take my word for it and make sure you visit it if you are ever in the area.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Shed Chic

Last week was a very busy week which didn't leave much time for blogging, but lots of things to blog about! I had a creative surge, and decided to do a make-over on our garden shed! Here is a picture I took a while ago of what it used to look like, a boring orange colour.

And here it is afterwards! A beautiful bright blue colour!

I wasn't sure I liked it whilst I was painting it, but when I finished I loved it.

The heart shaped wreath was bought from a craft fair in Newcastle, but more about Newcastle in tomorrow's post.

I added window boxes for a splash of Autumn colour.

Brightening up the garden for Autumn.

Monday, 14 September 2009

It's a wonderful life

I've found recently that often it is so easy to get stuck in the mundane bordem of life's daily routine. Get up, go to work, come home, gym, eat, tv, bed, we all know how it goes. Before the summer holidays, I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't live like this anymore, I decided to make a change. Although I sometimes have schoolwork to do, I do try to spend as much free time as possible sewing, crocheting etc. However, I realised that I was spending less and less time with Andy, and he was spending more and more time watching tv! Then one day I discovered this beautiful book and just had to buy it. It's full of delightful ideas that really help you to enjoy life in a simple way. Ideas from baking scones (which turned out yummy and really professional looking) to watching the sun rise. I thought it was the perfect thing to inject some interesting activity back into our lives. Unfortunately, many of the plans I had for the summer (like impromptue picnics) were ruined by the awful weather. But I am determined to try to do at least one of the suggestions from this book every week. I will keep you posted on our progress....

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Happy Birthday Cupcake

A few months ago I bought "Hello Cupcake." It is the most amazing book I've ever seen. It contains imaginative ways to use sweets to decorate cupcakes, and the designs are absolutely fantastic. It looks difficult to do but it only requires a small amount of technical skill and with a bit of practice, anybody could do it. Everybody I've shown this book to have been amazed. One of the designs was to decorate the cakes like pool balls, which seemed perfect for Andy's birthday. This design also seemed relatively easy to do compared to some of the others. I couldn't find coloured decorating sugars in this country, which is what they are covered in, so I bought edible glitter instead! It took me three hours to finish, and for a first attempt at cake decorating I don't think it's too bad! Can't wait to try out some of the other designs.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Crochet Love

I've been working on a crocheted blanket for a good few months now, and I'm about a third of the way through it. When I first saw the pattern in Nicki Trench's book, I completely fell in love with it, and I knew I just had to make it.

The pattern uses rooster almerino aran wool, which is fairly expensive, so I bought cheaper substitutes, but it never got off the ground because the colours weren't quite like the original, and the thickness didn't seem right. Then one day, I decided to invest in the rooster wool so I bought it from http://www.laughinghens.com/ who are behind the book and pattern. It was so exciting when my parcel arrived. The wool is the softest wool I've ever felt and the colours are beautiful. Laughing hens is a fantastic company, and the photos of the workshops they hold just make me want to go, shame they are so far from where I live. Blanket is going well, hope to finish by the end of the year, but with the shop and work, square making is slow at the moment.

Watch this space as the flower blanket reveals itself! There are 60 squares in totally, going to have a lot of sewing up to do!

Already got my next project planned. (from the same book) I just love this cushion cake! Would look great in my house.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Coco Chanel

It has been said before that I am an emotional person, and I defend being this way as somebody once told me, you only really experience life if you feel the highs and lows. However I'm not the sort of person who cries for no reason. As the years have passed, I've found myself crying more easily on hearing a certain piece of music, or watching a sad film. There may be many reasons for this other than the sad nature of what I'm watching or listening to, or there may not, I don't know. More and more recently I'm becoming suprised by what makes me cry and I had a strange experience recently.
One of my favourite films is Amelie. I love the way this film looks on screen, I love the colours, the stylised nature of the cinematography,and the fact it is set in Paris. But even more so, I love the music, it has a profound emotional effect on me, and over the years I've learnt to play some of my favourite pieces on the piano. The same composer does the music for a German film, Goodbye Lenin, another film that makes me cry!
Recently I pursuaded Andy to come with me to watch Coco Avant Chanel, (Coco Before Chanel.) As soon as I saw this film advertised I knew I had to see it. I've always loved Chanel's work, style and overall look, and I knew this interpretation of her life would be interesting, particulary because Audrey Tautou who plays Amelie plays Chanel. We watched it at a fantastic little cinema in Birmingham called The Electric. If you get the chance you really should go, you can have a glass of wine or cup of coffee while you watch the film, or slice of homemade cake on a real plate! It's a fantastic little cinema, and the screen quality was outstanding. http://www.theelectric.co.uk/

Well, I worried throughout the film that Andy wouldn't enjoy it as he doesn't speak French, but he absolutely loved it which made me happy, he never fails to amaze me. But I had a strange emotional experience towards the end. Although the film is sad in parts, i filled up during the end scene which wasn't sad at all. In the final scene, Chanel watches during her catwalk show as a series of models walk down the stairs wearing classic Chanel pieces from throughout her career. As I said, this wasn't in any way sad, but I got completely choked up, and in fact I couldn't hold back the tears, and as we left the building I started crying! I think it was the sheer captivating brilliance of Audrey Tautou in that role, and the brilliance of Chanel herself, all rolled into the final moments. Funny thing was, a few days later my mum and sister asked me about what happens in the film, and when I got to explaining the end, I got completely choked again!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ReJhw89tXdg Check out the trailer on youtube for a glimpse of the final scene.

Parisian Chic

Earlier this year I started reading blogs, and I have found some fantastic ones about sewing, crocheting and all things craft like. Then whilst in Asda one day I spotted this book, and because I love Paris and in the blurb this woman reminded me of myself when I went to live abroad, I bought it.

Once I started reading it I realised that it was all about a blog she started writing when she moved over there, which made it even more readable and I finished it in a week, quick for me! You can still follow her blog online http://www.petiteanglaise.com/

Anyway, what reading this book really did for me was inspire me to go back to Paris. In the past I've been on school trips a few times, and the last time I went was a disaster due to my suitcase not turning up amongst other things, so this time I thought it would be nice for Andy and I to go because we always have great holidays together and he has never been before. This Paris trip was nothing short of great, we really loved it there. We stayed in the Latin Quarter, not far from Notre Dame. And I suprised myself with the amount of French I managed to understand and speak. I even had a few craft related conversations with people in shops!

Just around the corner from Notre Dame, I spotted this fantastic tapistry shop amongst other art and sewing shops. They sold hand painted tapistry canvases, I've never seen anything like them before, they were works of art before you sew over them. There was also another shop displaying a huge vintage quilt in the window. This shop was closed every time I went but I took some photos. I've decided I'm going to try hard to keep up with my French, and I'm sure I will visit Paris again, there is so much to see there. I would live in Paris, it's such a clean, safe city. Love it.

Saturday, 5 September 2009


So, I'm fairly new to this blogging lark! Here you can expect to hear all about my latest craft projects, craft fairs where I will be selling through my shop Bluebelle Boutique, and also the latest great handmade finds on the web from other designers.

To start the show I'd like to introduce you to my shop http://www.bluebelleboutique.co.uk/

Over the last few years I've focused mainly on making bags and jewellery and I've just started selling online. I love designing and making bags, mainly because I love fabric. I'm particulary drawn to prints and my new collection reflects this. So far I've listed two clutch bags from my Japanese fabric range I'm calling The Kawaii Collection. More will be listed soon (I'm just waiting on a delivery of magnetic fasteners so that the rest can be completed.) What I love about bag making is that anything goes, you can use fabrics that perhaps you wouldn't choose to make a dress or skirt out of, and the possibilities are endless. A signature element of my work is my bright lining material choices, which always compliment the main fabric. I believe the inside is just as important as the outside. Hope you like what you see!