Tuesday, 31 July 2012

My Etsy Shop, 1 month in...

It's been just over a month since I first opened my Etsy Shop at the end of June. I think it's looking pretty good now, with 24 items for sale (which means I've managed an average of 2 listings every 3 days - not bad) including my latest addition, this gold anchor cross stitch earring and ring jewellery set, which can be bought here for only £12.00.

It does however, mean that my 10% off shop introductory offer is drawing to a close, so if you take a fancy to anything in my shop today you will get 10% off the item using the code NEW10. Don't worry if you're too late though, there will be more codes coming...

I have listed 24 items, but as of yet I have only made 1 sale .In case you're curious, it was my Union Jack pendant, which is available here. It is a little disheartening (let's be honest, everyone want to sell lots), but I have 6 shop admirers, and quite a few listing favourites, so that is very encouraging. It's still early days too, and several fantastic crafters with Etsy shops had to wait several weeks for their first sale, but are doing fabulously well now!

In the last couple of weeks I've also joined some Etsy Teams, which are groups to help support crafters, to gain new friends and advice, and to promote new listings, blogs, face book pages and twitter. There is a huge wealth of gorgeous items to be found, as anyone who has read one of my 'Friday Finds' blog post will already have had a glimpse of.

It has encouraged me to keep going with my crafting, and try to get even more on board with publicity, after all, everyone knows you won't sell anything unless you promote it, so that is my task for the month ahead, promote, PROMOTE, PROMOTE!

Happy Browsing!

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Saturday, 28 July 2012

Friday Finds: Union Jacks! (A day late, sorry!)

I know it's actually Saturday, but hey, It's time for a late 'Friday Finds' blog post.

But first I must apologise for being a day late, I was at a baby shower for my friend Sarah, who is due in about 2 weeks, so it's all very exciting (and a bit scary!) I've known her since my second year at Uni when I lived with her. Since then she's got married, bought a house, and is now having a baby! Very grown up! It was a lovely day for a baby shower, we were all sat outside in the garden, giving gifts, guessing baby weights, lengths and sex, (having had to google the average baby length as none of us knew - 52cm). Unsurprisingly, there was lots of talk of babies, and some talk of weddings (one girl is getting married in 2 weeks) so it was, as expected, all very girly!

We continued the occasion with a BBQ and then watched the Olympic Opening Ceremony. It was to say the least, rather interesting, and we took had great amusement in guessing what was happening, and discussing the merits of certain parts of it. It was, too the least, pretty unique and definitely very British! With the Olympics beginning then, it is of no surprise that this weeks subject is the Union Jack, Great Britain's flag, to support the occasion.

It is a well known fact that we Brits are a nation of tea drinkers, and what more perfect way of serving it than using this fabulously bright ceramic teapot by Maamoon.

The best tea should always come with some cake. After all, afternoon tea just wouldn't be the same without a slice, or a scrumptious cupcake, especially ones served these 'proud to be british' cupcake cases by the Great British Cake Shop.

If you prefer to wear the Union Jack, then look no further than these chic vintage shorts by Ruby Starling Co. If you've got the legs, then show them off!

If you prefer a more subtle way of Displaying the Great British Flag, than how about a unique cross stitch pendant hand stitched by You Sew Should? (Ok, that's me, but there's no harm trying, hey?)

Inject a bit lot of sparkle with Nikkienikolep's fabulous Union Jack wedge boots. They are the perfect attire for a night out!

If nails are you're thing, then head over to nailsRfun for this bold set, guaranteed to be noticed!

Happy Browsing!

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Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Fairytale Cross Stitch Kits

Since I was a little girl I've loved fairy tales. My parents would read them to me when I was small, and they said that I asked for the 3 little pigs so often than I could 'read' it from memory. It didn't take long for me to become a bookworm, devouring them in the evenings, and unable to resist the lure of a good story for even 10mins while I eat my breakfast before work. If I'm going away for even a night, and know I will be with people the whole time, I still have to stick a book on my bag, just in case. While I now mostly read novels (I'm currently busy absorbing Diana Gabaldons novel, Drums of Autumn, the fourth in her Outlandander series, which are my favourite books), I haven't abandoned the fairy tales altogether.

A few years ago at Christmas time Chris and I went to Bakewell, which has a second hand bookshop. We had been to Bakewell several times before, as a start or end point to a walk, but this time we went to explore Bakewell and the unique shops there. It wasn't long before we found ourselves perusing the shelves in the bookshop, me the novels, and fairy stories, Chris the maps and stories of the Peak District. I found a large book, 'Enchanted fairytales' with gilt edged pages, and over 200 fairy stories from various origins. I couldn't resist, and it's now happily sat on my bookshelf, having read it from cover to cover. We also emerged with a 'Tales of the Peaks' book, which was full of various tales based on people who may have lived in the peak district.

Not too long after, My best friend Rhian (who is a bit obsessed with fairy tales) bought me Angela Carters 'Fairy tales for adults' which old tales from many origins which were told in the long evenings, before the distractions of today. (The Inuit ones were probably the rudest, with stepmothers using whale bones to fashion a certain appendage, to enable them to pretend to by their son, and so service their daughters-in-law!)

Some are funny, some are sad, most have morals, and several are retold in various guises, but I enjoy them all, and the illustrations that go with many of them. I would love to have a Fairytale room full of books, and pictures, and given my hobby, cross stitches of my favourites, and with that in mind, here are some of my wish list favourites.

Rapunzel, by Heaven and Earth Designs. I love the classic black and white drawings you find in old fairytale books, It reminds me of a book of my Grandma's I would always read. The pages were falling out, dog eared and worn, but I loved the stories. My mum remembers it from she was a little girl, and The Goose Girl was both of our favourites!

Beauty and the Beast is one of my favourite fairy tales too. I remember watching it at my friends house when I was a little girl, and must have told my parents constantly about how fantastic I thought it was, because, one day, my dad came home with the video! I was thrilled, and wanted to watch it straight away. I particularly like this cross stitch kit from Cross Stitch World because it shows the castle in the woods, a well as Bell and the Beast.

Mermaids have always held a hint of mystery to me. I love swimming, and just listening to the waves breaking at the seaside. Ariel the Little Mermaid has unsurprisingly enchanted me, and I remember feeling sorrowful for her when I read the original Grimms fairytale in which the prince married the girl who found him instead, and the little mermaid became sea foam. This design by Mirabella is stitched on 32 count even weave, so is recommended for experienced cross stitchers.

I love the magic and enchantment of this chart, by Cross stitch corner  of the 12 dancing princesses. It is a story I have always enjoyed, of how the 12 princesses would sneak off to a magical castle where they would dance the night away each night.

Heaven and Earth have once again produced this lovely chart, which a more grown up version of Little Red Riding Hood. I love the vulnerability portrayed in the image, and the use of colour to enhance the cloaks vibrancy. Heaven and Earth Designs have a wealth of fantastic fantasy charts, I definitely recommend having a perusal.

Anyway, enough of fairytale dreaming for now...

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Friday Finds: Hobbits

Friday, 20 July 2012

Friday Finds: Hobbits



My best friend Rhian (who I've known since my first PE lesson at secondary school when I was 11) has called me 'Hobbit' for years. In fact, she called me Hobbit so much that even my dad would call me hobbit when she was around.

I can't remember exactly when it all started, but it was probably around the time when Lord of the Rings (LOTR) came out. Being fantasy fans we both saw it at the cinema, and I promptly developed a crush on Frodo Baggins (it was his big blue eyes), while Rhian preferred Legolas (the Elf played by Orlando Bloom).
Despite plenty of teasing on both parts, my nickname had little to do with my crush. In fact, I believe it all began when Rhian compared me to a hobbit.

'Well, you're loyal' she would always say whenever I moaned about the nickname, 'and short' she would mischievously add. (I'm not that short, about 5ft 3" but she is a good 4" taller) My protestations just encouraged her to call me hobbit even more, so I soon stopped and tolerated the nickname, and it stuck ever since. (She even writes 'to hobbit' in my birthday cards!)

Secretly, I think she calls me hobbit as she fancied me as her sidekick (in the way everyone daydreams about being the hero or heroine, with their trusty sidekick being dragged along for the ride). I guess in a way I was a bit of a sidekick, mostly because I could hardly get a word in edge ways, as anyone who has ever met her will no doubt testify that she's a chatterbox.

Now it doesn't really bother me, as besides Rhian being a chatterbox she's also half Welsh, blond, and has a soft spot for David Bowie in Labyrinth so there's plenty I can tease her about!

over time, you could argue that I've grown to accept the nickname 'hobbit' as for her 21st Fantasy fancy dress themed party I went as...
                  ...you guessed it...

So, this blog post of Hobbity finds is for her, and everyone else is a bit of a fan of the little creatures from the Shire.

Samwise Gamgee may have been Frodo's sidekick, but he's fierce and a hero in his own right. MoL Gifts has shown his boldness perfectly with their Sam keyring. (Don't worry, Frodo's there too!)

Having a bit of a love of maps (in part due to my enjoyment of walking) This lovely custom map of Middle earth pendant by the Green Daisy Shop had to feature. After all, who doesn't have a part of them that fancies the quite relaxing life of Hobbiton?

If you prefer to play with Frodo and his friends, then head over to Heaven Sent Scraps for this 6 piece LOTR Monopoly Set! Hmm, If I was Frodo and Rhian was Legolas (or leg-less as I have fondly called him) then who wants to be Gandalf, Aaragon, Anwen and Gimli?

We may not wear cloaks anymore, but no hobbit on a quest would be complete with a leaf gift from the Elven woods of Lorien. Get your leaf as his beautiful pendant from the aptly named Enchanted Leaves.

If you fancy taking your favourite gang of hobbits on a quest with you, then hurry over to Hen and Chick for this set of handmade, hand painted hobbit finger puppets.

I love the little hobbit houses of Hobbiton, they look so cosy and warm nestled into the hills, and so does Zen Forest's cute little model. Maybe it will attract little fantasy creatures for your own home.

It's not a bad life being a Hobbit, (as long as you don't have the one ring).

Friday, 13 July 2012

Friday Finds: Sheep

It is hard to decide on a theme each week to feature; there's simply so much to choose from! Then there's you to consider, my audience. What are you interested in, and would like to see featured?

last week one of my readers, Michelle asked for a sheep themed blog post. Thank you for making it easier for me. Theme sorted, I then headed over to the Etsy website and searched for sheep. I wasn't expecting 250 pages worth of sheep items! There's literally thousands of things to choose from (18, 928) to be precise. That's a lot of sheep! Unfortunately I couldn't look at all of them without it sending me to sleep, but I managed quite a few pages. I never realised how much choice there is. It was very hard to pick just a few to feature, so here's a very small selection of some of my favourites, but don't stop there, head over to Etsy and find your own!

Bear Creek Design have created this beautiful, fluffy needle felted sheep kit. If you fancy trying out needle felting, you'd be hard-pressed to find a cuter place to start!

If you like pretty things, but prefer them to be practical then take a peek at CeramiqueCote's cute handmade and hand painted plate.

Display your love of sheep to the world with this quirky black sheep t-shirt, available in both men's and women's sizes, from SwitchDesignsNYC.

For a more subtle sheep display, this miniature print pendant could be just for you. Moosup Valley Designs has sealed her original artwork in resin to create this brooch, which can also be worn as a pendant!

Bossy Feltworks has carefully created this lovely needle felted pincushion. I absolutely love it. Useful and pretty, any fellow stitchers can't go wrong with this cute ornament.

If you like personalised gifts, then this name clock by Treasure4u is right up your street. Besides, who can resit a big cheesy grin.

Clay and Yarn Barn have created many delightful sheepy designs, such as these stitch markers. You'll be busy knitting away as an excuse to use them!  

Well, that's a lot of sheep, perfect for counting if it's bedtime, but as it's not I'd best stop there. If your eyes aren't drooping yet then head over to Etsy for some more sheep searching...

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Walking Inspirations

I love going walking. When I was little our holidays often consisted of walks, (probably because it was cheap), I remember following countless coastal paths, marvelling at the craggy cliffs, sparkling sea and beautiful beaches below. We hiked up mountains too, Delicious Fudge kept me and my sister going as we headed up Ben Nevis when I was 9 and she was 7. The views were fantastic, and when we reached the top the cloud was so close above us it seemed as if we could jump and touch it. I've climbed Ben Nevis twice since, once only to the lake about 2/3rds of the way up, as the top was under about 12ft of snow from other hikers reports. The third time we made it to the top, which was in the clouds from just above the lake, so the fantastic views of my first expedition were limited to approx 12ft, smothered by the clouds.

The second two times were both with friends from Sheffield University Walking Club (SUWC). I joined in my second year and before long was walking in the nearby Peak District nearly every weekend. After a year of going on walks I decided to become a leader, planning my own and co-leading with friends. I quickly became a first aider, and the Publicity Officer on the committee, at the same time as I met Chris, my boyfriend of just over 5 years.

My weekends were filled of walks, come rain or shine, but as we got older we started walking less with the club and more as a couple, or with friends. Time changes, work and housework get in the way, people move away, and suddenly you realise it's been not only weeks, but months since going wondering the Peak District. This was the case until Sunday.

One of our friends and my ex-housemate, Pete V was visiting from Edinburgh for the weekend, so we decided to brave the rain forecast (after all, we've all worked in plenty of bad weather) and headed out to the Peaks.

Our route began at Ladybower Reservoir, and along the bank of the reservoir to cross the damn before trekking up Win Hill the 'scenic route' (longer but less steep) only to take a shortcut off the path and directly to the top. Win Hill is one of those hills that starts off fine, but has a smaller, steeper mound on the top. It was worth the puffing and panting and sweat though, as there are spectacular hills from the top over Ladybower and towards Derwent edge and Kinder Scout, (the highest peak) and across Hope Valley.

After a bite to eat we headed downwards, along to Hope Cross and the dubiously termed 'Seat of Youth'. originally a village, it has mostly now fallen down, crumbled away and been reclaimed by the woods, but someone used several old stones to make a chair. We have often used it as a lunch stop, and this was no exception, before continuing our walk along Ladybower reservoir, and finally up to the double peaks of Crook Hill.

Crook Hill is not the most exciting of Peaks, it's not particularly high, it's essentially a field with two rocky tips poking out. But it was here that inspiration struck.

I was puffing along when to my right there was a beautiful view of Win Hill. The clouds were dark and grey and brooding, but from somewhere light struck the peak, brightening it to an almost luminous olive green. This created a stark contrast with the trees silhouetted below, and I thought 'that would make a lovely cross stitch'. Unfortunately, my lanky other half was making good use of his long legs, and had run off with the Camera so I couldn't take a photo. As we climber higher the view lost some of the effect, but still looked beautiful. Luckily Chris did take a photo, so you can still get the benefit of the view.

I did, however, complain to Pete M about Chris running off with the camera at such a beautiful view, that looked very cross-stitchable. This led to a conversation about creating more Peak District cross stitches, and I certainly have enough photo's to do so.

In fact, converting a photo to cross stitch is something I've thought about doing for ages, but I've always been a bit scared to tell the truth. What if the colours blend in too much so you can't see the 'layers' of hills, what if its too detailed and doesn't come out on a cross stitch very well, what if it's not detailed enough and doesn't look like anything much? There are countless reasons and excuses, but really, I've just been a bit scared of starting such a project. On Sunday, I decided that it was time to stop all that, and to give it a go. What's the worse that can happen anyway?

I'd best get busy choosing a photo!

Friday, 6 July 2012

Friday Finds: Birds!

Have you ever wanted to fly away?

I have, and still do. While I like my job, have lovely friends and family, enjoy pottering around in my garden (if it ever stops raining) and decorating my house, there are times when I want to fly away from it all. It's natural after all, to want adventure, or escape, or relaxation, or simply something different.

While we have to be satisfied with the mundane, we can still dream of flying away like a bird, free to go where you want, these beautiful bird inspired items by some fantastic crafters could help your imagination to take flight.

Femmart has created this carefully sculpted birds nest and bird necklace. I love how the turquoise of the eggs contrasts and compliments the silver wrapped wire nest.

If you like to create things yourself, but could do with an artistic helping hand, then the beautiful bird design Graphique is a transfer to apply onto fabrics, so you can brighten up a tea towel, pillow or T-shirt. it will even work on paper too.

For a personal touch, look no further than NathalieVan's contemporary urban abstracts. The bold design is fabulously colourful, and the birds are custom painted for your family.

Raw Thread has designed this raven T-shirt for the man in your life. Bold, stark and simple, the T-shirt is also made from organic cotton, so not only will he look good, he'll be doing a bit for the environment too!

If you are a fellow crafter or a vintage seller, or simply love beautiful tags then take a moment to peruse Creative Visions Etsy Shop. I love the intricate border, and the subtle vintage colours.

 If you are looking to sprucing up your walls then Cuma is the place to start. I adore cuteness of the birds flitting amongst the blossom, playing in the flowers and the birdcage. The vinyl wall sticker is also available in red, blue and orange.

Anyway, I'm off to fly away...
                                           ... in my head at least!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

My Top 5 Products!

I'd like to say I'd been busy adding lots of my stock to my new Etsy Shop. The reality is, unfortunately, rather lacking. I have still managed to post an average of 1 item a day after the initial burst of activity last Wednesday, when my shop launched, and I currently have 13 items in stock. Unlucky for some, so I guess I'd best get busy enhancing my photography skills and developing my Etsy shop further. I have yet to add any of my key rings, and I have many more designs of my rings, earrings, pendants, hair clips and fridge magnets just waiting to pose for me. They are clamouring to be seen by the masses, and soon they will be. At night when I get home from my day job as a Cell Biologist, I whisper to them 'patience, you're turn is coming' before selecting a few to photograph for the next day's listings. Currently, my shop is full of some of my favourite items, many of them new designs, but here is my top 5 pick.

No 1:
There's something about my ladybird pendant that I love. i can't decide if it's just that ladybirds are one my favourite insects, or if it's the boldness of the design, or the 3D seed bead detail. It's probably all three!

No 2:
Cupcakes are fashionable at the moment, but they're also delicious, and that's why this cute earrings come in at my number 2. I love that the colours are turned around, with a hot pink case and blue icing instead of the more common blue case and pink icing. The seed bead decoration is the cherry on the cake! (ok, pun is intended!)

No 3:
Seeing smiles makes me smile, and with all of the rain we're having at the moment, I need something to brighten up my day! These cheerful chappies are certainly busy smiling away, and encourage anyone who sees them to do the same. After all, that is their job, they're smilies!  

No 4:
I'm not sure anyone is truly 'English' anymore; our history is riddled with invasions, be they upon us, or caused by us, we have met many many different races of people. As far back as the Vikings, and the Romans, to the British Empire, and more recent immigrants, I doubt any of us truly have English blood. After all, who doesn't like something that's exotic? I am still an English woman though, and proud to be one, despite all the things wrong with this country, after all, that's the case everywhere. As such, I am proud to wear my St Georges Flag ring.

No 5:
I love tulips. Along with daffodils, crocuses, and bluebells, are they one of the flowers that symbolise spring, and that means longer days, warmer nights and (just sometimes) less rain. The Tulip is embroidered rather than cross stitched, so it gives a different effect but is still bold and brilliant. And did I mention, Tulips come in all sorts of gorgeous colours!

What is your favourite item in my shop, or in your own? It's hard to choose, I love looking at Etsy and on Pinterest, the only trouble is tearing myself away from it all to stop and stitch!
Happy shopping!
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