Thursday, 17 December 2009

Most wonderful time of the year...

...that time of the year when I sit down for a proper meal for the first time in over a week and feel my eyelids involuntarily start to drift closed...
...that time of the year when I really must get those presents wrapped, those cards written, that big ol' pile of laundry cleaned, that suitcase packed...
...that time of the year when it becomes impossible to carry on fulfilling orders to the standard I like to keep up...

...and so I draw the curtains closed on my Etsy shops for the Christmas period. My shops are going into vacation mode until early January 2010 but in the meantime, should you feel the urge to have a browse around some of the items that will be available again after the holidays, here are a few sneak peeks behind that curtain. Click on any of the images below and you should be taken to the relevant item listing on Etsy - the 'add to cart' button will be greyed out until I reopen but though these items aren't cartable, they are still heartable!








The html know-how for this was kindly provided by this kindly Canadian: http://www.etsy.com/shop/TheMossGarden - thank you Victoria!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

"To face unafraid the plans that we made..."

The other night I caught myself feeling Christmassy. Very early in December for me, but there I was, smearing this ghostly pale special face mask across my forehead, singing quietly to myself without realising at first..."in the meadow we can build a snoooowman..."

I've been dividing my time into making new clutches for Treacle Toffee (like this Snow Day clutch), setting up my facebook fan page for the shop, sorting out my stocks of crafting supplies for an end-of-year clearout, making things for my Scatterbox Originals shop, planning a new shop that I hope to launch next year (scary but exciting) and sorting out my Christmas gifts for friends and family. Not very long to go now!

The elusive "Christmassy feeling" has been waxing and waning for the past couple of days. I think I'll kickstart it again soon with some hot chocolate, It's A Wonderful Life and my snowflake pyjamas...

"Walking in a winter wonderlaaaaaaand!"

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Thanksgiving, Black Friday on Etsy...and Discounts (oh my!)

Etsy recently announced that over the 'Black Friday' weekend, they would be promoting items with free shipping (P&P as I used to call it until my language became necessarily Americanised for the sake of those nice folks across the sea actually understanding my listings!) and other special deals.

I gave a lot of thought about whether to offer any promotions over the weekend. I know some people feel strongly that handmade items are too undervalued anyway - for the most part, I do agree with that. But on the other hand, it is good business practice (I think) to try and price your items so that you can give a little discount when the time is right. I don't very often do sales (almost never in fact) since my profit margins aren't huge, but finances are hard for a lot of people right now and it seems fitting at this time of year to do something more for buyers.

So...I sat down and had a good long think...and I decided that I could afford to offer free shipping (worldwide, even) on some of my smaller and lightweight items. I'm lucky that Royal Mail isn't really very expensive for small and light things, having seen some of the prices on American mail companies...eek! I've already tagged the items I'm going to give free shipping on in my shop so anyone wanting to peruse those items can go to my shop homepage and search in the Etsy search bar within my shop for "EtsyFreeShipping" (minus the quotemarks) That deal is going to be on from about late on Thursday night until early on Tuesday (UK time). I hope some people will take advantage of this rare opportunity!

One of the many things I didn't know about until I started selling on Etsy was that traditionally in America, the day after Thanksgiving is the big day for retail markdowns. Over here, Boxing Day and New Year's Day are the big sale days. Obviously, we don't have Thanksgiving in England. I've always been a little jealous of America having that big extra holiday. I'd like to say it's the ethos of it that I like (being thankful is no bad thing) or the opportunity to see family (mine are far away after all) but to be really honest...I think mostly I'm jealous of the food! (Big surprise for someone who named her shop and blog after a type of confectionery, haha.)

I don't eat turkey, having given up poultry and red meat back in oh, 2004 I think...but I've always been intrigued by the other treats Thanksgiving has to offer that I've never had a chance to sample. I have never seen yams for sale here in this small town, nor seen a recipe for them that didn't use the (baffling to me) 'cups' measurement system. But tomorrow, I think I might take some time out to be thankful and make some hearty autumn food.

One thing I think I might make is a kind of nut-roast that I invented a recipe for months ago and haven't had in a long time. I like making up recipes for things and unless I'm baking a cake/biscuits, I generally don't feel the need to measure things very precisely. I tend to work on a kind of ratio basis and a lot of it is done by 'that looks about right' methodology. I'm going to try and share the recipe here, and I'm hoping the lack of exact weights and measures will make the recipe easier to follow for those who use international measurements, rather than just plain confusing! Here goes...

Catherine's Nut Roast.
You will need a food processor or be good at chopping things up with a big knife (I use the former since it is much quicker and less prone to getting my fingers cut...)
Ingredients for two people (for more, just multiply quantities and make individual roasts per person or put all into a small loaf tin and cook for a bit longer) :
About one large handful of nuts. Last time I used a mix of hazelnuts and walnuts but any nuts should do the trick.
Seeds (pumpkin or sunflower, or a mix) - optional, but I include three large pinches of them for the nutrients.
Breadcrumbs - one handful or two thin slices-worth. This is a good way of using up bread that has gone a bit dry. Brown/wholemeal bread has a nicer flavour for this I find.
Herbs/spices. This will depend on personal preference but I like a good tablespoonful of either chives plus mixed 'English' herbs (parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme - Art Garfunkel eat your heart out!) OR make a more exotic version with cumin, coriander (spice) and turmeric - I put a sprinkling in until it looks right, but I would guess that it equates to about a teaspoonful of each, maybe a touch more with the cumin.
Oil - basic standard olive oil is fine, as is sunflower oil. You'll need this to bind the ingredients together a little bit but shouldn't need more than a tablespoonful.
A generous splash of cold water.
A little bit of salt and pepper if you're so inclined.

Chop the nuts and seeds up, mix with everything else (if you use a food processor you can do it all in one go) and then pop it into an ovenable dish (a ramekin or suchlike) and press it in firmly so it all packs together. Bake in the oven at about 180 degrees C (sorry I don't know the international equivalent but basically the same heat you would bake cookies at) for 20 mins.

I like to serve this with boiled peas, carrots, mashed potatoes and veggie gravy with yeast extract (Marmite or similar) added (just half a teaspoon) for extra oomph.

Happy Thanksgiving, American readers. Happy drizzly nondescript Thursday, British (and probably other northern hemisphere) readers! Stay cosy.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Such a cold finger...

Today, I saw yet another mention of how Etsy tends to feature a lot of fingerless gloves and wristwarmers. They certainly are in vogue! Much as I like these inventions, it got me wondering if there are many nice fully-fingered handmade gloves on Etsy, for those of us in colder climes that really need warm fingers in the winter months. After much searching and much rummaging through mistagged items, I think I found some real gems:

Featured here are gloves and mittens by:
cholosoy, artycousinjenny, dollyknits, woolyrosie
montyandmarwood, knitwhimsies, plainjanecollection, thejoyofcrochet
verabelle, flowerpot, ingucite, maisondelucille
kukaramba, petitekrottcreations, thesittingtree, goldenhind

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Astronomical

Recently I have been suffering from a cold that decided to settle in my head and throat, and I have found myself very sluggish. Lots of hot drinks and huge bowls of home made soup, drunk with my slippers on, tucked up in bed. This is the reason for my recent quietness, blog-wise.

Yesterday, though, I managed to muster the energy to tidy up a little. I sorted out the recycling, hung up the jumpers that were hung on the back of my chair, changed the bed sheet and duvet cover, hoovered and cleaned the bathroom sink. I felt so much better for it, as I knew I would.

Later, I got back under the covers, popped on the telly. A cheesy Mel Gibson rom-com was on, one I've seen before - I find it easier to be creative when there's some background noise and this film was just familiar enough to stop me from getting too distracted from my work whilst being just entertaining enough to keep me sitting still. I stitched away with my bedside lamp on, the sky outside pitch black already.

I made something I've had in my head for some time, that I kept putting off making in the past. I find I do this with new ideas, I get excited about them and then feel afraid to go ahead with them in case they turn out to disappoint. Now I've finally gone and taken the plunge - and I am pleased to say the end result wasn't far off the idea in my head. Here it is...


The Astronomy pendant - number one (of hopefully several). Inspired by pictures of galaxies from afar and textbook astronomical diagrams. Made with layered pieces of silk in deep, midnight blue and one small white piece in the middle.

:-)

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Do the stars gaze back?

Now THAT'S a question...

Pondering whether to make real-constellation versions of these brooches and also some pendants with the same theme:
And pondering whether to watch this film again this weekend:



metalology, shaylamaddox, aliette, thenebulouskingdom
christinetillman, lolariera, larimeloom, ara133photography
beckytomato, cookoorikoo, StankwytchBailey, lunaticart
Dreamsandjewelry, VieModerne, ReluctantDamsel, organikx

Ahhhh Etsy creators and Mr Gaiman, you bring me happiness! Thanks for the kind words from the last post, folks.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Bad things happen / Good things happen

For the past couple of weeks, I have been forced to shift my focus temporarily away from making handmade goodies. The shift in focus was thanks to various dramas which you can read about in depth on my other blog and in the post below.

It has been an emotionally exhausting time, but now things are mainly resolved, I think I'm getting my handmade groove back. Today, I printed out some new business cards that I designed a while ago:
I have done some in a couple of different colours and I think they're pretty effective, plus printing them at home saves me money so I can save more towards delicious new fabrics. I'm working on coordinating my packaging with these...plans for some nice rubber stamps for decorating the gift boxes and some stickers too. The stickers will be for holding down the tissue paper I put around purses etc and holding gift boxes closed (so much nicer than cellotape, and a bit more eco-friendly)

In the midst of all the stress over the past two weeks or so, I've tried to keep reminding myself of good things in life. It's tough I think, when things go wrong and especially when there is a constant backdrop of financial difficulty (which I think everyone can relate to right now), not to feel gloomy and embittered. So, without wishing to seem overly Pollyanna-esque, here is my Happy Thing of the Week:

Visiting St Ives with my parents recently, we were lucky enough to witness two seals swimming in the sea not far from one of the little coves. We watched them for quite a while, trying to capture a decent photo of their heads whenever they surfaced for air. They seemed so peaceful and at ease. Every time we thought they'd swum away, I'd turn my camera off and like magic they would re-appear.

Here are the pictures I managed to get...I think you can just about make them out, about half way up the picture (click for larger versions).

I also took a few pictures of the sea from up on the cliff. It was an unusually warm late-September day, and the sea was the most stunning colour. So St Ives and seals have fortified me for a while, at least. What keeps your spirits up in these troubled times?


Monday, 14 September 2009

Oh for Ochre...

I go through phases with colours that I'm drawn to. Lately, it's yellow ochre and similarly autumnal colours. Saffron...mustard...burnt orange. I recently got a gorgeous mustard-gold, small square suitcase from work at a bargain price. I've been needing a sturdier travel case than my hold-all, and this one is lockable and has a comfortable strap. It also goes very well with my saffron belt and yellow cardigans I think (is two cardigans of the same colour too many? They were charity shop bargains too so it's all for a good cause).
It's evidently quite old, though how old I'm not sure. The rounded corners have a kind of seventies/early eighties look I think, but maybe it's older than that? In any case, I'm looking forward to using it on my next travels.

At the moment, I'm waiting on some yellow ochre fabric to become available from my fair trade supplier. It will hopefully be available soon and once I can get it, I can start making golden yellow versions of my feathers cushion and tote bags. But having saved up a little money for fabric, I unfortunately have to wait longer still...

Recently, my bank account was targeted by a fraudster. I discovered the fraudulent purchase (a mobile phone top up for a company I don't have a phone with) late on a Friday afternoon and, not being able to find the right phone number to call and fix the situation, I had to put on my nearest pair of shoes, run a brush through my hair and dash down the hill to the bank before closing time.

Once I got there, I was passed from a polite, if clueless, cashier, to a service phone where I was put on hold for ten minutes before being told I had pressed the wrong department button and then having to wait on hold another five minutes, all the while my heart thumping and up-beat and erratic jazz playing on the phone (is that really a wise choice for your fraud department?).

I began to consider changing to a new bank. Then I was finally connected and given yet another series of 'options'...all in Bank-speak ("if your card has an R4 status...press 4...") - none of which made sense to me. Exasperated, I hung up on the automated service and sought out an advisor.

After begging for assistance from someone in person, she kindly set aside her end of day paperwork and phoned through for help for me, staying on hold past closing time. The bank emptied, the latch was put on the door, and still the advisor sat with me and arranged with the call centre to send me the relevant paperwork to get my money back etc.

It will take time for me to be able to reclaim the little money I had that they have squandered - it appears my bank's system for dealing with such things is absurdly convoluted. It's a horrible feeling, to know that someone out there has done such a thing so easily and putting it right is so hard.

Though I'm fairly confident now that I've calmed down from the panicked visit to my bank, that I will indeed be able to get my money back and in time to pay my bank fees etc, it's still a stressful situation to be in. Still, I'm lucky, in a weird way, that I didn't have much money for the scoundrel (my polite word for it...) to steal!

In any case, the lovely ochre fabric will have to wait a while. In the meantime, I shall content myself with looking at lovely things on Etsy. Here's a snapshot of a treasury list I made recently, complete with alternates:

Top row: TickledPinkKnits, hitree, NannasKnitting, grimm
Second row: uncommon, thejunebride, sleeks, InmostLight
Third row: prettygoodthings, underabluesky, peaseblossomstudio, greenchairpress
Fourth row: margotbianca, linkeldesigns, JillPopowichDesigns, DuetPhotography

Click on the image to see a bigger version. Each shop name above is linked to the relevant Etsy shop. :-)

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Soil Association

I've managed to get a treasury list on Etsy, yay! This one is inspired by the different colours in layers of soil, in celebration of my archaeologist sister's getting her work contract renewed for another 6 months (again, yay!)

Featured here are:
thecyclingartist, GollyBard, Studio155, labokoff
MarcoLaGrenouille, yarnahoy, Crafterall, galeriedeilluminata
simplytwisted, ShopJessBecause, red2white, Ottoman
mysticfibers, Tuesdaymoon, LethaColleen, prettypanda

Clicking each name will take you to the relevant Etsy shop.

In other news, I have decided to list the tote bag (see previous post) at a special 'prototype' price. You can find it on Etsy here

:-)

Friday, 4 September 2009

Volare, cantare

Craft-love has given me wings...

...not literally of course, but in an 'appliquéing white cotton feather shapes onto things like there's not tomorrow' sort of way. This idea for a bag has been in my head for some time now, even before the feathery cushion design and the clutch. I spent oh so much time figuring out the perfect layout for the shapes...then adding an extra 'layer' after my original pattern was fused down...then learning how to put a zip-up pocket into a bag...


...and finally, while Spotify played my favourite 60s tunes, it all became this tote bag. I'm tempted to keep this one for myself.


Unfortunately this was my first attempt at making a tote using a new (to me) method...and as is often the case with new things, it didn't quite go perfectly. The bag has some small flaws, like a slightly askew base, tiny pin-holes at the side where I have had to unpick stitching, the slightest mark where I foolishly tried to iron just above where the magnetic fastener lies inside the bag...and a wobble in the stitching around the top, where I underestimated how thick the layers of fabric were and my poor Janome did the sewing machine equivalent of a hiccup or two.

This is the downside to completely creating your patterns yourself. (I never use shop-bought patterns to make anything, it is all from my head!) If I do find it in me to surrender this bag for someone else to buy, I think I'll offer it at a special price, since it does have those small flaws, even though they are probably only very apparent to me...



What do you think, folks? Should I part with the tote?

Despite the flaws, I love this bag. Partly because I think the 'wing' design will look so sweet if you twist the bag around to rest across your back...partly because aside from the essential interfacing, the zip and metal closure, it is all organic, fair trade cotton and upcycled material (linen viscose blend salvaged from a pair of trousers). The upcycled fabric isn't fused down like the cotton, but left to flutter at the sides, which I have left untreated so they will fray a little and look ever-so feathery.

About upcycling...

As you may know, my 'day job' is working in a charity shop. It happens all the time that someone will donate an item that, due to a small flaw, sadly can't be sold. A broken zip, a bolognese sauce stain, a torn hem...that kind of thing that makes an item unappealing enough to customers that it just can't go out on sale. Charity shops generally have a 'rag bin' where these unsellable items end up, bagged and stored for collection from a recycling company. We get paid by weight of fabric and then the bags are taken away to either be sent on to poorer countries, or cut up and made into new fabric.

Sometimes, I can't bear to let an item 'go to rag' though. Sometimes I know just what I can do with the item. So I pay a donation to the charity (more than they would have got for that one item from the recycling company) and take it home, wash it and then make it into something new. Crafters call this 'upcycling' as opposed to 'recycling', because it is being transformed into something new, not made into another version of what it was before - for example a glass bottle could be melted down and made into another glass bottle, or it could be transformed into a spoon rest.

This here is the latest item I have rescued - a turquoise camisole in pure silk and lace that has sadly got a streak of permanent marker on the front. I'm thinking of making this into a new 'shoal' necklace or two. :-)

Already up in the shop is a large money purse / mini clutch bag with a similar design to the tote bag (this one doesn't feature the upcycled linen, it is completely made with the organic cotton). I'm looking forward to making more totes and matching purses to go with them, now I do have the ultimate (hiccup-free) tote-making method in my head. It's just a matter of getting more fabric and supplies now, so I'll have to see how much of my budget I can spend this month.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Fields of Gold

It's that time of year now, when my mind is turning to thoughts of autumn, which is quite possibly my favourite season. You can tell when autumn is just around the corner here, by the following signs:

1. I start looking longingly at knee high boots. I had a lovely pair from Clarks that lasted me five winters of almost daily use before giving up the ghost, and I now find myself bootless and brooding for some new ones.
2. I start thinking about making apple crumble. I was going to do a blog post about my recipe for apple crumble, having purchased two of the biggest Bramley apples you ever saw, but then I remembered another thing I've been meaning to make but never yet attempted - Tarte Tatin. So if I summon the courage (and the ingredients!) to make that, I'll try and post instructions and piccies here. I have a feeling there will be cinnamon...
3. I get obsessed with making harvest themed items. This week I have made these:



A couple of weeks ago, thinking prematurely of the end of summer and hearing Eva Cassidy in my mind's ear, I made a Fields of Gold treasury list.

Having been lucky enough to nab one whilst having a fully formed one in Poster Sketch (how I love that tool!) I merrily filled up my new treasury list in the space of a minute. Choosing which things to put in the alternates section is tough, I think during the course of the treasury being up on Etsy I must have switched and changed the items around half a dozen times! I included my own barley themed item in the 'alternates' just to see how it would look up next to my favourite items...I think it sat quite nicely.


Click on the image to see names and details. :)

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Wild about...

It's been a while since I did a 'currently coveting' post, so I thought I'd share just a few of my current favourite nature inspired items available on Etsy.

Row one:
Hedgehog brooch by katebroughton
Fox on Sunday art print by krisblues
Spring is coming I promise soft sculpture wall art by MelissaSue

Row two:
Red Squirrel Standoff Changepurse by bonspielcreation
Tree Friends - Bamboo Mobile by petitcollage
Flower Deer art print by jacksonswift

Row three:
Sneaky Fox original dry-point etch print by ladysnail
Wooden Butterfly necklace by fawnandforest
Tree and Leaf pillow by alisontauber

I myself have been making some woodlandsy items...and went and forgot to blog about them before I posted them in my Etsy shop, doh! They are the fifth Tree Rings brooch and the first Tree Rings coin purse/pouch:


When I can get more of the organic cotton, I plan to order some in colours for making Tree Rings Pillows. :-)

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Feathery feathery

In my last post, I mentioned making another item with a similar pattern to the golden and green leafy clutch...this was no other than the pillow/cushion I sketched way back in April as seen in this image. My original idea was to use a pale buttery yellow background and golden and ochre appliqué but since I don't have the right colour for the background just yet, I decided to use some of the lovely organic cotton I bought in May.


I re-worked the layout a little from my clutch, because I wanted to make a certain shape on the cushion that would look 'right' whichever way up you had it. It's nice to have a cushion you can just throw onto your sofa or favourite armchair and not worry about which way is up.

Getting the shapes in just the right position took some time. In the end I devised a simple way of doing it that meant I didn't have to constantly be measuring and marking. Each silk shape here is fused onto the cotton but some edges came loose due to patchy bondaweb...I quite like the effect though and the shapes are all on securely due to the line of stitching down each middle.

I have filled this with my last feather cushion insert, so I will call it a feather pillow anyway...but I also think of this pattern of shapes as being inspired by feathers...even though it is using the same shape as the 'leafy' clutch.

I guess it's the difference in colour that makes the difference between leaf and feather. Some screens may show the cushion to be a darker colour than it is - it's what I think of as 'dove grey'. The silk I've used here is the same dupion silk I used in my Shoal jewellery - I love how it shimmers in the light and the hues shift slightly.

This will be up in the shop soon, and if it proves popular I may try out some other colour-ways.
:-)

Monday, 20 July 2009

Golden and Green leafy clutch - Part 2

I had the very best of intentions to take photos at regular intervals as I continued making this clutch. I really did. But...well, I got carried away with the excitement and momentum and didn't manage another picture until the clutch was basically complete. Here it is:


Making something for the first time always takes a little longer, I find, as you work your way through and familiarize yourself with a new process. For a first ever attempt at a clutch purse using a purse frame, I think this looks pretty smart :-)

Small things I will do differently next time are to make sure I put the purse into the frame with the little loops (for attaching a chain or strap) at the back, rather than the front as they are here (can you see them?) - I think this is important in terms of having a bag on your shoulder with only one side patterned...you want the pattern facing out but then you also want to keep the strap on your shoulder when you reach in to get your pocket mirror/lipbalm/tissues etc out. Silly me for not realising this at the time...blame it on the giddy rush of a new craft project almost completed!

Secondly the stitching on the leaf shapes, which I think worked well, unfortunately took quite a long time - about 2 hours or so, since I did it all by hand. I've made something similar since this, using my sewing machine for the lines running through the shapes, and I think it looks just as good and took me less time to do. The tricky part is making sure the stitching goes in a straight line, without marking the fabric permanently. This time I did it by scoring lightly down each shape with the tip of a needle against a ruler.

More textile treats coming soon!

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Plain greedy

I just wanted to leave a quick post here to say thanks to everyone for the supportive comments about my first clutch in progress. I'll be continuing on it in the near future but I am now away for a little while (until early July). I know, it's not that long since my last holiday, but this trip is of a different kind - it's a friends-seeing trip - and it has been booked for some time. I'm not just being greedy, honest!

Bye for now, folks

Friday, 12 June 2009

Work in progress - Golden and Green leafy clutch

This is how I've been developing the appliqué pattern for my first clutch purse. After sketching out possible layouts (which you can see in this earlier post's image) I then drew lots of possible 'leaf'/'feather' shapes out on graph paper...



Using graph paper helps me to keep my designs symmetrical when I want them to be. In this case I drew half of the shape I wanted, then cut it out, drew around the half, then flipped it over and drew around it again next to the first half, to give me a shape. I tried out lots of different sizes and shapes before I settled on these ones, which I then drew out again on card, for a more durable template...




I decided to make different sizes of the same shape, so I could use the same pattern on different-sized products. In the end I also adapted one shape to make another size (I drew around the shape and then trimmed off an even amount all around) to give me 5 different sizes to use on various sized coin purses, clutches, and possibly bags and pillow covers in the future.

Then I used the shape templates to cut out my silk pieces in two colours and spent time figuring out just how I wanted them arranged.

After about an hour of fiddling with the layout, I took the plunge and fixed all the shapes down with fusible webbing. Eeep! It was kinda scary, committing to a design layout after all that planning, but I think it went pretty well - certainly for a first go. One or two silk pieces didn't quite fix on precisely where I wanted them to (I think it's something that will come with practice and learning how to ensure things are in place whilst also hidden under a protective tea towel!) but all in all it's looking pretty much how I envisioned it.

There will be more photos later as I progress through making this...wish me luck!

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

It's not that easy, going green...

A belated "Hello, I'm back from my holiday!"
Devon was beautiful and inspiring. I took a lot of holiday snaps of the boats on the river, but I think this picture is my favourite. I took it looking up at the trees, on the walk to Dartmouth Castle, which is a lovely walk with lush greenness on one side and the river Dart in all its glory on the other.

Now, about the 'going green'...

A while ago, I posted on this blog about trying to change over to more ethical fabrics. It is surprisingly tricky, in this modern eco-conscious world, to be a 'green' crafter. Companies selling goods that are organic may not also sell goods that are fair trade, or vice versa...and when you do find a company that sells things that fit both criteria, they have an unfortunate tendency to be companies based in far flung places. This gives more problems, with the cost of freight and import duties, not to mention the amount of distance the goods will have to travel, thereby adding to the air pollution of our poor, hapless mother earth!

Shifting my products over to ethical, eco friendly materials is important to me. I've been made aware of the environmental effects of non-organic cotton and as an independent businessperson, trying to make a difference in the world, it does play on my conscience that I have hoards of fabric that are just not organic. I'm working on ways to make the best use of them as I can until I get through them and can make my products significantly more eco.

Fair trade is important to me too. I feel that its a little counteractive to be an independant crafter, promoting the handmade movement against a wave of consumerism, to use materials that themselves promote mass production and the exploitation of others.

Not long ago, I discovered a wonderful company that not only sells organic cotton by the metre, but that that cotton is fairtrade, imported directly to England from the happy producers, with outlets reasonably local to me. You know what the absolute bestest part is? The fabric is, as we say in the south west, absolutely lush! Gorgeous colours and texture, just the right weight for what I want to do with it. Here's a sneaky peeky:

It's not always possible to find the exact colour you want...but I've also tracked down some eco friendly dyes that could help with that, and in a way being limited by colour is really good...because it means I can let the fabric guide the design. So far, I have off-white, raspberry red-ish pink, soft grey and heathery purplish blue cottons. These are going to be the base colours for my first few Treacle Toffee clutches, coin purses and cushion covers (pillow covers if you use American English, but I couldn't resist the alliteration there!)

I'm excited about this change, and I hope you folks are too. :-) Watch this space for a post about other eco friendly practices I'm using in the shop.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Real gone kid

Hello,

I'm about to close down my Etsy shops for a short break - I'm going to be spending some quality time with my folks and will have no internet access but fear not, I will return around the 9th of May and the shop will be back in full swing.

Here's a little snapshot of some of the things that will be back up online when I return:

Happy May everyone!

Friday, 3 April 2009

And it was all yellow...

It started with fresh spring daffodils


Which then led on to daisy inspired bracelets...

Which led on to buying a new cardigan in buttery saffron yellow...

Which led onto a lot of new ideas for the shop. Click on the image to see a bigger version if you can't make out my annotations and doodlings. There have been a lot of ideas lately...I'm quite determined to have these ones done by the summer.

You may notice the cushion/pillow cover design...housewares have been on the agenda pretty much from the get go and for various reasons delayed and generally ummed and ahhed about. Now, I've decided on a UK supplier for nice cotton that has the added bonus of being both organic and fairtrade! I still haven't found a similarly ethical source for silk, unfortunately.

I'm planning on gradually increasing the proportion of my product materials that are as eco friendly and ethical as possible. It is going to take time - naturally, these kinds of supplies always come at a higher price, which means a greater risk of investment and also makes it harder to stockpile a lot of fabric at once - but it is important to me, so I'm going to persevere. :-)

Have a mellow weekend, folks!

Hello, Doily

Loving this trend...


Featuring
TOP ROW: Nuka, AllThingsPretty, Gajettes, BlossomStamps,
SECOND: andfurthermore, littlepapercrane, raquelmasri, TrackandFieldDesigns,
THIRD: raeburnink, lilyslegacy, parallelbotany, DonnaCDesigns,
FOURTH: Ottoman, overlap, coquelicot, ancientfuture