Thursday, October 31, 2013

20% off at My Favourite Magazines!

Who doesn't like curling up with a good magazine and a cup of tea?
Magazine subscriptions are a great way to keep up with your favourite magazines, often receiving them before they are available in the shops. They also make fantastic presents!

My Favourite Magazines - who sell subscriptions to Mollie Makes and The Simple Things along with many other titles and one-off bookazines - have a very special offer over this weekend - if you spend over £50 on any of their products you can have an extra 20% off your order. Just enter the voucher code EXTRA20 at the checkout.

Offer valid between 31st October and 4th November 2013

What are you waiting for?

*I am part of the affiliate scheme - that means I earn a small commission for every sale made through this blog.  Thanks for your support x

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

#WIPsLinky No.4 - Christmas is a coming...

Did you know there are only 8 weekends left til Christmas?

That may be enough to strike fear into the heart of many a crafter - especially if, like me, you plan on giving everyone at least ONE Christmas pressie produced by your own fair hands!!

So most of my works-in-progress this month will be Christmas pressies - which means I can't show you them here as some of the recipients read my blog! (however they don't use Twitter so I may be able to share some on there - search the #WIPsLinky hashtag if you are feeling nosey!)

Now there is a definite nip in the air I would love to get back to working on my patchwork cable blanket. I have only managed one more panel since I mentioned it last and I suspect very little further progress will be made this side of Christmas!  Ah never mind - plenty of time to cosy up with blanket making in the New Year . . .

Last month's main work in progress was the fab retro dance dress I was making for the 60's Dance and Joe Meek celebration at Newent which was last weekend.

You'll be pleased to know I managed to finish the dress - sewing on the last button just hours before I wore it and danced the night away in it!  I was a little nervous that the poppers holding it all together would unpop in the middle of the Twist but it all held together!

the dress was made like an apron - over the head then the back wrapped round the front

not the best picture - but you get the idea...

 Making my own dress was immensely satisfying - I will definitely be doing it again!  Now I just need to hunt out some cool patterns...

What are you up to this month? Have you started Christmas crafting yet?

Blog your current works-in-progress and link up so we can all see what you are up to - there's nothing like going public if you want to avoid projects falling by the wayside unfinished...  (trust me!)

As usual I will add all your projects to my #WIPsLinky Pinterest board too - it's becoming a little #WIP treasure trove!!

Happy crafting!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Time to focus...

You may have noticed I have been a little quiet over the past couple of weeks.

This is mainly because I have been pretty busy trying to get my dress finished for the 60's dance and getting a couple of large Sweet Kitty orders started but also, after my post last week about what makes a good blog, because I have been having a long hard think about what I actually blog FOR and where I see myself and this blog heading over the next year...

Truth is I need to be making some money ( which reminds me - see that Mollie Makes banner at the top? If you click on that and subscribe to Mollie or any of the other magazines available I get a small commission. It all helps.) Trouble is I don't drive and live out in the styx so the only real job opportunities that are open to me are stacking shelves in the local supermarket or care work, neither of which really appeal...   I already have a part time job book keeping for my other half's motorbike shop and I do a day's cleaning every couple of weeks. I recently took in some ironing for a friend who is just too busy (and hates it anyway) and will be doing that regularly too but what I REALLY want to do is earn a living - or at least a regular income - from Forest Flower Designs.   I love designing and making my products. I get a warm glow every time someone else likes them enough to part with their cash and take them home. I really want my little Forest Flower to grow and grow and grow...

With that in mind I have set up a new blog - dedicated not just to Forest Flower Designs but to handmade business in general. I know I could have just posted more FFD posts on this blog but I really felt it deserved a home, and a URL, of it's own.

So now it does - 

I will still be blogging here (albeit not quite as regularly as before). It's taken me best part of 4 years to build this blog up to the place it is now  and I am not about to abandon it just yet! I still have plenty of makes, tutorials, recipes, days out and reviews to share with you but from now on I will be focusing my energy on growing my business and getting my own little brand of handcrafted cuteness into as many homes as possible.

I would love it if you would join me - my google friends box is looking a little empty right now although I'm sure it will fill up in time - I can't wait to share my new designs and inspirations with you not to mention all those other fabulous crafty businesses out there! 

Thanks for your support, dear readers, over the past 4 years and here's to many more blogging years to come!


Wednesday, October 09, 2013

What makes a good blog?

image courtesy of Nujalee/
If you are on Twitter you may have come across 'Twitter chats'. Usually based around a particular theme, hobby, interest or TV program and usually accompanied by their very own 'hashtag' to enable users to follow the conversation.

Tuesday nights see not one but two Twitter chats I like to make an effort to follow - #craftblogclub I have mentioned before, hosted by Emma @livepeachey and #CBUK hosted by Hillary at @craftbloguk 
Both chats are aimed primarily at craft bloggers (although if you are looking to find NEW craft blogs to read then these hashtags are a great place to start), and both are a great source of inspiration and advice.

Last night's #craftblogclub chat was all about Pinterest. You know how much I love Pinterest - it's a great place to store ideas and get inspiration! You can read Emma's round up of that chat here.

#CBUK concentrated on the tricky subject of engaging readers.
The whole point of blogging for most of us is that we are sharing our thoughts, images, ideas, knowledge with the world wide web (does anyone actually still use that term?). In return we like to see that people are interested - whatever people say about not caring about the stats, in the end we want people to visit our blogs, look around, comment and, perhaps most importantly, subscribe, follow and come back another time.

Now I am not one to worry myself too much about keywords and SEO - I like to think I write descriptively enough for searches to find me and I always make sure I use a number of different phrases within each post to ensure that I have covered several search options. For example my tshirt yarn projects posts include phrases like 'tshirt yarn projects' 'tshirt yarn tutorial' 'making tshirt yarn' 'crochet with tshirt yarn' and 'recycling tshirts' - phrases I would hope anyone actively searching for tshirt yarn related blog posts might use.  That said I have had more vistors to those posts via the images I have pinned on pinterest. I know there is room for improvement and I realise I am going to have to take SEO a little more seriously if I am to get more visitors...

But once they are here, how do we keep them here, get them to contribute and better still get them to return?

I don't know if there is a set formula that works - great content obviously is the key. You have to be writing stuff that people WANT to read or else they will just click away. Great images help tremendously, particularly if you also use Pinterest to promote your blog. I have noticed a distinct upturn in visitors via Pinterest over the last few months - never underestimate the power of a beautiful photograph, particularly if it illustrates a tutorial/recipe/how to!

But most importantly you must LOVE what you are doing! If you're not mad keen on your latest blog post how can you expect anyone else to be? Content written because you feel you HAVE to will never be as good as content written that you really love/believe in.  I have always said that when blogging becomes a chore it's time to step back and re-evaluate.

So what do you think makes a good blog?
What makes you hit the 'Subscribe' button? (top of right hand column by the way ;-) )
What makes you want to keep coming back?

I would love to hear your thoughts!

Monday, October 07, 2013

Tshirt yarn projects - crochet bowl

So this month I am mainly obsessing over tshirt yarn!

I think there is another blog post in there somewhere but today I am going to show you how to make this cute little tshirt yarn crochet bowl. These bowls make great dressing table tidies - fill em up with hair bands or cotton wool balls.  Or sweeties (it is ok to have sweeties on your dressing table, isn't it?) or, as I have done, with hazelnuts Roo collected from Nonny's garden...

The original pattern I used for this bowl on can be found here - I have just converted it into UK crochet terms.

You will need

One large tshirt made into tshirt yarn
10mm crochet hook

crochet terms - ch = chain    htr = half treble  ss = slip stitch

R1  ch3, join to make a ring. ch2 (this counts as first htr) 9htr into ring, ss to 2nd ch to join
R2  ch2, htr into same stitch, 2htr into each stitch, ss join to 2nd ch (20 stitches)
R3  ch2 *htr in next stitch, 2htr in following stitch* repeat to end, ss join to 2nd ch (30 stitches)
R4  ch2, htr into each stitch to end, ss join to 2nd ch

repeat round 4 as many times as you like until you reach the desired depth of your bowl. The bowl illustrated has 4 repeats.

And there you have it.

Use narrower strips of tshirt yarn and a smaller hook to make a smaller bowl.
Or double up the yarn and use a HUGE hook for a super chunky bowl that could serve as a toy tidy.
Make a set in toning colours or even dye plain white shirts before cutting them up to perfectly co-ordinate with your decor.

The best thing is you are turning something old into something lovely and new...and useful too! 

Like this project? Keep your eyes peeled (or better still follow this blog via bloglovin ) for more tshirt yarn projects coming soon!

Happy Crafting x

Thursday, October 03, 2013

DIY T-Shirt Yarn - joining short pieces

I have some exciting news! I have been asked to participate in a crafty workshop at this year's Forest Showcase!

Lydney Dial-a-Ride - a local charity I have close connections with - have an entire marquee at the show with the aim of educating people about what charity shops actually do! What happens to the items you donate and where the money raised from sales is spent. The manager, Louise, has asked a few of us crafty types to come along and show people that you can do so much more with your charity shop purchases than just wear them off the rail...

My demo will be on recycling old clothes and turning them into beautiful things for your home.

And where better to start than with how to make Tshirt yarn!

The concept of recycling tshirts into a yarn to make something new with has been around for a while. There are lots and lots of tutorials out there showing you how to create a continuous length of yarn from a tshirt (here's a very simple tutorial from Mollie Makes  )

But these tutorials assume that your tshirts are essentially a tube with no side seams. This method of tshirt construction is more commonly seen in men's tshirts as women's tend to be shaped to accommodate (or accentuate) our curves so unless you are lucky enough to have a fella who doesn't mind you shredding his trusty tees finding the right shirt for this method can be tricky.

I have been scouring local charity shops for this project and so far have found only one shirt with no side seams so I really needed to find a way of joining the strips together securely but not too bulky. Machine stitching them together is time consuming so why not try this method...

First you will need to cut your tshirt into panels - cut across the body, just under the armpits. Cut the hemmed piece off the bottom and cut the two side seams out. This should leave two rough squares of fabric.

 Cut these into strips across the width of the fabric. You can cut the strips as wide or as narrow as you want - it depends on the project you have in mind. Just remember that the wider the strip, the chunkier the finished yarn will be (and the less you will get from each shirt!).  I wouldn't recommend cutting any narrower than about 1/2" or 12mm...

 Take two strips and lay them end to end - don't worry too much if they are not exactly the same width... 

Cut a small slit in the ends of your fabric strips

Take one fabric strip (1) and pass it through the slit in the other fabric strip (2)  ...

...then take the other end of strip 1 and pass that through the slit you cut in it...

... and pull!

This creates a good firm join. Once you have joined all the strips you can then pull the strip as for the continuous lengths to create the yarn.

Now you have no excuse not to recycle all those old tshirts whether they have side seams or not!

the start of a t-shirt yarn crochet rug using 10mm hook

I have really enjoyed turning old tshirts into yarn and it is intensely satisfying then turning that yarn into something completely different.  I hope to show off a few finished articles very soon and am planning a couple of simple tutorials - including the crochet rug pictured above!

In the meantime - why not pop along to the Forest Showcase on Sunday 6th October at Speech House, Forest of Dean, join me on the hay bales and learn how to turn rags into rugs! 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Blogging tips