Spring Wreath

I really love Bustle and Sew I love the feel of her designs and this bunny was from one of her patterns, however as I was putting the fluffy tail on with my needle felt, I realised that it might give a more natural look if I was to continue. While I might love her patterns I struggle to follow instructions and once the bunny became fluffy, I decided to do the yo yo flowers too! 

The heart wreath is such a pretty design which added to the springtime theme and I really enjoyed making the daffodils! I did try tulips but they did not work out! 

I finished the top with a bigger yoyo and hung it with some starry ribbon

I have some black beads somewhere, so until I find them his eye will have to remain just a little spot

I really enjoyed making these tiny yoyo’s some of them as small as a 5pence piece, I also used brads and small ribbon flowers from my collection. The wreath is now hanging up heralding in the spring, under my little egg tree. 

I went to the Eternal maker on Saturday to top up my felt stash, there are so many gorgeous things you can make with felt that I have a hankering to make. 

I also tidied up my little scrap basket, after the yo yo class a lulamae’s I needed to re-organise, other items will go up in the loft storage, as I don’t like having too much out – I find it too overwhelming! 
We headed to a lovely tea shop this afternoon for tea and cake, at the Riverside tea rooms in Amberley, it was a little too cold for a walk but definitely one that we will go back to with the dog. Lovely selection of cakes. We can’t wait for the museum to open it looks a great place to visit. 

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Transitions Bread

I have been making bread for a while now, but I needed a little bit of hands on expertise which might give me the confidence to bake great bread, efforts up to now have been ‘all right’. 
A great friend told me about Transitions Chichester which was set up a few years ago, it is a scheme where people share their skills to help one another, so you can offer your time which can be simple tasks such as babysitting to gardening and baking. 
So I was up bright and early Saturday morning, armed with pinny, a large mason cash bowl and a jug for Julia’s bread making course held in her own kitchen. There were four of us in all and Julia quickly put us at ease – (once a teacher always a teacher!). Together we all made loaves with Julia’s gentle guidance. I ended the morning not just with a loaf, but enthusiasm and new friends. 
The transitions scheme has its own currency, the chi, which Julia earned by hosting the course, chi’s can be then exchanged for help or learning new skills. I think it is a great idea and one that had me wondering what I can offer. The great thing about sharing a skill with someone, is that you can gleefully delight in their success knowing that you were a tiny seed in their creativity. 
And here.. at last (third time lucky!) is a seeded loaf, made with honey not sugar! I am so proud! 

While out walking with the dog, I came across this lovely clump of snowdrops nestling among the shade, such a beautiful sight that I could not help but share with you. Sunday was a gloriously sunny day, A and I walked the dog along the sandy beach and I really appreciate how lucky I am to be so close to the sea, with a lovely man and the dog teaches me to enjoy each moment, as he chases his frisbee enthusiastically his face in a wide grin! 

A creative dilemma

The Ego urges you to accomplish, while your soul merely asks you to enjoy the process
I used to follow a wonderful blog it was full of patterns and brilliant links; the blog was updated almost daily but one day there was a short simple post to say that she felt it was time to stop blogging about life and live – I knew what she meant. 
I was initially disappointed that there would not be more of her wonderful posts, but at the same time I realised that this small blog had the potential to become a monster if I wasn’t careful. While it is lovely to write and share things, it is all too easy to look at the blog statistics and want to see more hits or more readers, or even a few comments then the focus on getting more.. more and more. 
I think that is the tipping point, as a creative it is wonderful to make something, a picture, a cushion or a bag, I was simply making something that I liked then I started to share things with the world then the ‘audience’ becomes a vague person that I wanted to please. Suddenly it isn’t about the process it is all about the outcome. 
lotions and potions – I broke one of the candle holders! 

I noticed it when I started getting my projects published, it was fantastic seeing my name in print, but from that moment on everything I focussed on was for the magazine – I found I was making things that were publishable but not necessarily what I wanted. I love hand sewing, but I never did anything hand sewn because it would not be published, and I stopped drawing altogether. 
It took me several attempts before I mastered crochet flowers
Another aspect that I found the cause of stress was that sometimes a project develops, a mistake, or an idea happens while I am in the process of making something, but when you have agreed on a specific idea magazines are not always flexible – after all they are in the business of selling, they have a brand and know what they want in the ‘box’.  Readers expectations come into this a lot and I am one so I know! One day I had a terrible disaster, the cushion that was to be published had got ruined in the wash, the teal velvet had run over the white fabric, the only reason I washed it was for the magazine, I scoured the shops looking for replacement fabrics, and since it was a winter project and I was sewing it in August, there were no winter fabrics in the shops. For me I had realised that I was not gaining enough out of doing it. I thought about approaching other magazines, but that would mean more output. 
I love to live with the seasons, I enjoy celebrating the small festivals that are part of our connection to the changing seasons, but magazines have a three to four month lead time, so I was writing out of sync, it meant that I could not focus and enjoy the moment. 
It is nature that nurtures our creative spirit
It isn’t just me that feels the pressure, I was chatting to a dear friend of mine who makes things to sell because she needs the extra money it brings in. She has found the whole craft fair process a roller coaster of mainly dips. One customer picked up a handmade item that had taken my friend hours to make and suggested she was selling it too high, the customer wanted to pay a minimal amount because she considered that my friend was clearly doing it for fun. How can it be fun to see your hard work knocked down for a few pounds? 
I like a bargain but I love even more the delight of paying a good price to encourage someone’s creativity, I would much rather have that fondness for a lovely handmade item than beating someone down to a rock bottom bargain. 
have values changed? 
I feel that our culture has lost its way a little, we see companies always seeking to make that extra profit regardless of the impact that it has on communities. We ourselves have begun to value what we do only in terms of how much someone will pay for something. In addition we are all supposed to be extra-ordinary, children aren’t told to get a job they are told to get careers, it isn’t enough to simply make things, we have to sell them, and lots of them! Let’s hear it for a life more ordinary! One where we don’t have to strive to be better or bigger, who measures that anyway?
I really don’t know what the answer is, other than to step back and do our small thing.. encourage one another. It is about balance, let us remember that sometimes it is about simply having fun, enjoying the process and forgetting the outcome. Only then can we allow ourselves to play, take chances and let go. That is when I think we create our best work, even if it is just me and the dog who agree!

Cupcake Cushion

My friend was moving  to a wonderful flat situated above a baker shop, we discussed the marvellous delights of waking up to the smell of warm bread and baking on cold mornings it seemed such a lovely place. 
It was while I was making a card for her, using crayons I came up with the idea of a cup cake house, but then I realised it would also make a lovely cushion and a great a housewarming present – since we were coming into Autumn I wanted to use warm fabrics like wool and tweed – there is something really comforting about these fabrics in Autumn when all I can think about is cuddling up on the sofa with a good book as the evenings draw in. 
I love working with tweed, it is so soft and easy but can fray, so I made sure all the appliqué was backed – it is much easier to draw the outline on the fusible interfacing first then adhere the pattern to the fabric – then cut out it seals the edges much better. 
I took a square of fabric, and added a contrasting border – adding side strips first then adding the top and bottom. It was approximately 3 inch strips of pink tweed. 
Taking the hill template, I cut the background green then added the fabric strips on top, I loved the flower cotton and the curved edges added to the overall effect. The pathway was from beautiful textured tweed, which is why this is such a delight to work with. After attaching the hill to the cushion top I simply added decorative stitched lines in green to continue the flow – it looks just like an upturned umbrella! 
The top of the cupcake was made in layers, first I mad the little window, using a reverse appliqué technique topped off with a little machine embroidery.  I added a little roof topping and used black stitching to give the child like drawing to the project. 
The cupcake base had a little curved door and I used stitching lines to indicate the folds in the cupcake adding two more windows. Then it was a case of layering it onto the backing fabric
I found a delightful tiny heart shaped button in my stash that made a lovely door handle. As you can see I was considering using a different background while I was at this stage but in the end decided on the pale blue – I was concerned that the cupcake would not stand out enough but I resolved that by using the black stitching. 
After backing the cushion with wadding, I quilted a cloud with the sun just peeping behind, using a simple zig zag stitch. I used crayons to increase the shading slightly to give a hint of colour change. 
So the top was ready, I machine stitched the edges down now that the cushion had some backing it gave a lovely quilted effect, I followed the edge of the appliqué shape as well which gave it a little more depth. I also stitched my ‘cherry’ red button to the top. 
I felt a button closure was more important and used these lovely wooden buttons from a stash I bought in a charity shop. I always find it easier to mark out the button gaps before stitching otherwise I end up with the gaps either too big or too small! It also means that I have a good spacing, which tends to go awry when I do it by eye! As it was a gift I wanted to get it right! 
So here is the finished cushion, I found it hard to part with it! Maybe I should make one for me too now! 

Drawn in

I have been writing articles for a while now, but I have decided to take a break – I have found that I spend a lot of my creativity thinking up projects for the magazine but I would like to spend a little more time playing with projects and allowing them to develop and grow, as well as play with new techniques and ideas. 
Another reason is that I have not been doing a lot of art lately, and I am craving time with crayons, pens and pencils. I drew this heart for my son about a year ago, I developed the work further to submit to the Royal Academy of Art Summer Exhibition, it was an exploration of the concept of love. I have to say I like this little drawing, it is about 6 inches wide by 3 cm deep, the reason I am telling you this is so that you can understand that the little loops and flowers are very small indeed. 

Another of my favourite ones is this one, not only do I love Neruda’s poem but I really enjoyed the process of creating it. I call it doodles as it is totally unplanned, I just allow the pen to go where I think, creating a shape and developing it gradually circle by circle. 
This pepper was drawn using the same pen technique about 3 years ago, I was on an art break holiday, and I used the size of the circles to create form.