Thursday, 3 December 2020

Starting University my age??!!

 As some of you may know, I had to make the incredibly hard decision to shut down my teaching studio back in March,

The decision was mainly based on what my Husband said - one statement that I found incredibly difficult to believe at the time, but because I trust his judgement I decided to go with what he was saying.

He simply said.... "You will not open these doors this side of Christmas".  Now, considering this was way back in March, I just stared at him incredulously..... "You're joking, right?" I asked..... he wasn't.

I had worked out that I have enough money in the business to last until October, so if he turned out to be correct, I would go seriously into debt.   So I closed down my beloved little workshop.

Although leaving the venue was hard in itself, the hardest bit by far was whipping away the social support that the workshop had provided to many many people.  I felt so guilty.  I would miss all those faces that I saw on a regular basis, I would miss catching up with them and finding out how their lives were ticking along.  It was a heart wrenching decision.

So, I closed, I emptied The Shed, sold a lot of things off - how on earth I managed to accumulate all the things I had I do not know!

On the 31st July I handed in my keys and left for the last time.

Now what?

I have always had a plan, an idea of what to do next, a life map if you like... and now I had none.

I didn't know I was going to need a new direction... I thought I would be on the path I was on for a while yet.

I took some time out to lick my wounds.

Then, one evening over dinner, my Husband just said.."Why not do that Uni course you have always wanted to do?"

Like.. what?  Seriously..... I am 52!!  I can't do that at my age.

I thought about it... I have always said I wanted to go to Uni, specifically a glass course at Sunderland University.  I have always had an excuse not to.  This time I had no excuse.  I had no job, I had no real commitments any more, maybe this was the new direction I needed.

So, I applied, totally not expecting to get in. I had no decent grades, nothing that I thought that a Uni might be interested in.  But I did get in, much to my amazement.

I started in September, on a Foundation Course... so not much creativity this year as such, but Maths and Study Skills.  However it is still very interesting... and I am loving the Maths.  Who would have thought?!

I am planning now to revive this blog and let you know how my journey progresses.

Hope I can find something to write about to interest you  :)






Monday, 27 April 2020

How to make a crochet wreath cover.

Hello Crafters,

I hope you are finding loads of projects to do during this lockdown period - although of course you might be a keyworker and working lots of hours, for that I praise and thank you.

I have been digging out lots of projects and finishing them off - and that makes me feel rather pleased with myself, let me tell you!!

But one evening, when I had finished the latest "Work In Progress" I had an hour or so before bedtime, but couldn't be bothered to find a new project, so I grabbed the rainbow yarn I was working with and started to crochet a cover for a styrofoam wreath.

People often seem surprised when I show them how to do these covers, they think there must be a lot of shaping involved when in fact there is none at all!

So, I have put it all in a video for you - all you need to do is a Double Crochet  (UK terms), it really is that simple.

Then once you have the cover done, you can decorate it in any way you like... bubbles, flowers, hangy things in the middle - the choice is yours!

Have a look at my video below and you should be able to make your own straight away.  I have added some photos below of my wreaths which you can use as inspiration.

Have fun!!

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Returning to blogging..

It’s been a long time since I blogged.... the main issue is time, I just run out of it on a daily basis. 

But, there have been moments where I have used my own blog to look back on things I have previously made and need to remake. It’s a very useful tool to refer back to, which made me think, if I’m not updating it regularly and I need to look back on something - it won’t be there!

One of my main issues, aside from the lack of time thing, is that I don’t use a laptop at home and finding a suitable app that will upload to Blogspot has proved tricky - if you know of any please do let me know.

I’ve been saying to myself for sometime now that I need to return to the blog, it’s a great way of sharing ideas and keeping in touch. 

You might be wondering what the photo is about ... well I was simple testing to see if I could upload a photo via the Safari website - I can, as you can see, but it’s not a totally smooth movement and I have to keep scrolling in and out to see what I am typing!
I used to use the Blogger app, which was brilliant, but seems to have gone now.

Anyway, back to the photo. It’s an art canvas smudged in Decoart Metalic and Pearlized paints then hot glue blobbed on the top and repainted. It’s an interesting effect and loads of fun.
I did this in a lunchtime craft group I tutor where we only have an hour to ‘play’. This technique gives instant gratification and a fabulous result... here are the ones the others did :)

Well that turned out to be two blog posts in one really didn’t it?  I’ve proved to myself that it can be done via Safari, but there must be an easier way :) please share if you know.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

A bought a sewing box...

Yes, I bought a sewing box... no that exciting you might think, but this is a proper nice sewing box.

I didn't need a sewing box, in fact I am really not sure what I am going to do with it, but I failed to resist when it popped up on a Facebook selling page.

I can't resist old things, I am often buying old bits and pieces - for no apparent reason, just because I am fascinated with the history.  Of course, I never get to find out the actual history so I just have to imagine.  It is a Morco sewing box, which seem to have been quite a popular make. Certainly strong and sturdy.

This sewing box though was full of bits.  Bits that weren't quite as old as the box itself, but oldish.

I may be far out but I reckoned from the style of the box, it might have been around 1940's - if anyone knows any different please let me know.

I was thrilled to find some old needles and pins in the lid of the box.  One looks like a weapon of torture, when it is just a leather needle.  But so old, and dark and just quite lovely.

And those hat pins...... my Nana used to wear hat pins.  Do people still?

Look at this old knitting pattern too.  6d it cost, which I have absolutely no idea what that would be worth in today's money. I have even Googled and the numbers boggled my brain.  But today's patterns cost about £3.00 each so sixpence seems rather cheap.

There was also bits of fabric and various bits of lace.   Press-studs bought at 39p from Woolworths and some old buttons that had been cut off old clothing - no one seems to do that any more.

I paid the grand price of just £20.00 for this beauty.  I am now deciding whether to upcycle it, restore it or just use it as it is.  What do you think?

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Hen Parties at The Shed

It was so nice to host our very first Hen Party in The Shed last week.

12 hens arrived, with Prosecco bottles tucked under their arms, for a few hours of crafting and chatting.

My brief was to include Tartan somewhere within the session, so I put a few suggestions forward to the party planner.

In the end it was decided that the Hens would make themselves a sash each, with Tartan lettering, so they could wear them when they continued the party later on in Carlisle City centre.

The plan was to split the Hens into teams with a designated sewer who was confident enough to to all the Applique work on the sashes, but with everyone seeming quite keen to use the sewing machine  (some for the very first time) they all ended up having a go.

The sashes were finished off with a big wooden button, so they got through quite a few sewing skills in that session - Applique, satin stitch sewing, button sewing and lots of ironing - and the did all look mighty smart in them too!

After a little refreshment break with big gooey chocolate cakes and more Prosecco, it was onto creating a fabulous Slate Heart each using the art of Zentangling (doodling with intent) to decorate.

There was lots of silence at the start of this craft as the concentration levels were high, but the chatter soon returned as they got comfortable with the pens.

The three hours just flew by and it was a lovely atmosphere.  Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, and I certainly enjoyed the experience as everyone was willing to have a go.

A huge HELLO to the bride Kerry, hope your wedding goes fantastically, and big thanks to Lizzy for organising the event and allowing me to be part of the party.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Crochet Pineapple Hat & Gloves

I few weeks ago made a cute little hat using a chevron crochet pattern, it worked out really well, but as I was working it I was thinking of other colourways I could do.

As I have a load of buttons left over from when I had a Bead Shop, I thought I would take inspiration from those.

I grabbed three balls of  Stylecraft DK Yarn in Gold, Emerald and Saffron, and got to work.

And I have to say... although it is not something I would wear myself... I do rather like it!

Of course, you always need to see a hat modelled on a head, and as I hate my photo taken I talked my dear Mother into popping it on her head for a photo  (with the usual warning, "This will be used on Social Media" as I snapped away)

The Pineapple buttons really finish it off I think, don't you?

There was plenty of yarn left after the hat - and the plan it to turn these into kits - anyone fancy a Pineapple Hat? - so I thought I should add some added extra and make a pair of wristwarmers too.

Voila!  Pineapple wristies!

And together they make a might fine set, cheery enough to brighten up any old miserable winter day.

Now, what shall I make next?  I have Pawprint buttons, Watermelons, Ladybirds, Carrots!  Be prepared for some more mad designs coming soon   :)

In the meantime, I will post a link once the Pineapple sets are ready to sell.

Monday, 22 January 2018

Teaching beginners to sew

One of my most popular workshops is a Learn To Sew one.  I run this as a one day class, or a 4 x 2 hour course - both cover the same basic rules of learning to use a sewing machine.

I held one of these full day classes last week.

The first hour is spent looking at the sewing machine and working out what all the buttons do.  We change needles, swap presser-feet, learn to thread and wind bobbins and a bit of trouble shooting too.

Then we go on to play and practise the stitches, running up loads of different lines on pieces of sheeting - that bit is much more fun than it might sound, trying out all the various stitches that a sewing machine can offer can be really interesting.

After that, it's time to make things!  Each project is chosen to give a skill of some sort.
 We start off with a simple pin-cushion, the skill in this is cutting straight lines and sewing straight lines, learning to take the fabric in and out of the machine, and at the end of quite a few rows you get a lovely, useful, pin-cushion. 

I forgot to take photos of these at the last class so I can't show you those, but I can show you what they made next - a gorgeous cushion cover.  A very simple style, but perfect for beginners as it shows construction. It is very easy to make a cushion cover, but one of those things that seem quite advanced.

And the last thing we do on this workshop is a fully lined zipped purse.  When I tell the attendees that they will be putting a zip in by the end of the day, they always look shocked/amazed/frightened, but they do it, and they are usually super chuffed with themselves.

If you fancy tackling your own sewing machine, or are thinking of getting one, why not try this class yourself.... you can find out what is on offer by

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Annis McGowan's Needle Felted Owl Doorstops

Last Saturday we welcomed Annis McGowan to The Shed, she is the most marvellous Needle Felter who creates fabulous creatures from wool.

Annis visited us last year to do a Herdwick Sheep workshop, and this time she returned to deliver an Owl Doorstop class.

It was a fully booked workshop, with everyone very eager to make their own unique owl.

Stab, stab, stabbity stab, was all I heard from my office in the back room, not a massive amount of chitter chatter as people seemed to be concentrating on their work.  Luckily not much stabbing into their own fingers, which is always a bonus.

Once the eyes were in place all the owls came alive and the results were simple amazing, each owl had it's own personality - it's amazing that people can have the same tuition and materials yet produce something so different.

Did you know a group of Owls is called a 'Parliament'?  No, neither did I, I had to Google it  :)
So, here is our Parliament of Owls all lined up and eager to be photographed.

I will leave you with a snippet of video - supposedly of Owls tooting...... turned into a load of grown-up's giggling  :)  At least they all had fun.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Caring is Sharing....

"Caring is Sharing" is a phrase I use a lot in my workshop, usually when I am trying to encourage people to 'check in' on their phones, or to put a post on after their class/workshop - after all, the more people that I can reach out to, the more people will come and craft, ensuring The Shed's success.

It's the same for any small business, share and care - and keep it open.

Being a business owner I joined a local networking meeting called CWE, you can find them on Facebook if you are local to Carlisle and a small business owner yourself.  They meet once a month and have business showcases and stuff.  It's really rather good.

Anywhooo, it was there that I met a lady called Susan.  She is a chiropodist. She has been to many a class in The Shed, I have not yet had my feet done... so the sharing is a little one-sided, so far.  But we converse a little on Facebook and when I put up a photo of my home-made Rum Butter  (I make a batch every year), Susan declared that she had never tried it!

Well, I couldn't let someone never taste the delights of Rum Butter, so I offered her a pot.

When she came to collect it, she had a swapsie for me - a pot of her home made jam, Summerfruits, Apple & Cherry.  I mean, YUM!

It was rather delicious, but what did make me smile was the note on the top - "Seemed fair to share" - it's great to meet someone with a similar outlook  :)

Thanks for the jam, Susan, it went really well on my peanut butter on toast  :)

And remember, this year, try those mantras - 'Sharing is Caring', and 'Fair to Share', you never know what nice treats you will get.

Next year I am planning to make an extra batch of Rum Butter just so I can play swapsies.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Crochet Chevron Baby Hat

Following on from my Chevron Cushion post a few days ago, whilst in the process of making the cushions I suddenly realised with a little bit of tweaking it would make a super cute hat for a toddler.

So, grabbing some leftover yarn I had laying about  (as we all do), I started work.  I did have to undo and redo a few times to get the size and stitch count right, but that's what designing is all about.

Eventually I ended up with the cutest little elf style hat.

I added a pompom and turned the points up, adding some fabulous little Dolly buttons to the peaks.

I am working on another right now for an adult head - I can tell you it's going to be such a fun hat!  Watch this space.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Anniversary Special Workshops - Thread Bowls

As part of our anniversary celebrations I offered some really cheap workshops as taster sessions.

One of these was how to make a Thread Bowl.  These are so much fun, but quite unknown so there was only one person booked on this class.  Never mind though, we had some fun playing, just the two of us!

I made a bowl with lots of different colours and snippets of threads, while Barbara stuck to yellow threads with pieces of tweed thrown in - she says her piece looks like a "deconstructed bumblebee", which I thought was quite apt looking at her colours.

We wash the pieces in warm water after sewing, then you can set them into a bowl shape if you wish. Barbara decided to leave her piece to dry flat so she could decide what to do with it later on.  Can't wait to see what she decides on.

I formed mine into a bowl shape by draping it over a ceramic bowl.

They are not massive bowls, but just big enough to get a taster of the technique.  There is so much you can do with this and it is so much fun.