Polka & Bloom on Etsy

Monday, February 28, 2011

Cute heart bunting

Hearts-On-A-String - from Scissor Quirk
Look! How cute is this crochet bunting?! The triangle base is made using my tutorial, but I absolutely luuurve Michelle's addition of the hearts. And the discrete pop of blue juuust makes it slightly less sugary-sweet. ;-) Check out the post on Scissor Quirk for more photos and a tutorial for the hearts

Hearts-On-A-String - from Scissor Quirk

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Let's make tiny hats!

Card from Innocent
Do you remember that I made some hats for Innocent's Big Knit last year? I got a thank you card from them! In December... a bit late blogging it! ;-)

Everyone got a card I assume. But, and I guess that is part of what makes Innocent Innocent, they actually care enough about people to have someone, maybe several employees, write out these cards.

Card from Innocent
Because my name there is handwritten. And notice that PS on the left! Yes, I made sure to let them know that my hats were crocheted because the form you send with the hats only had 'knitting' on it! ;-)

It is my intention to make hats this year as well! And I plan on making lots! I think you should too! They won't be needing them for some months yet, but you could start making them already now! I posted a basic pattern for crocheting a hat. You can embellish it to your liking!

Whaddya say, are you in? Could we make.. 100 hats together? Maybe 200?

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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Say NO to Findability

Crochet experiment
Remember this post I wrote about the findability "feature" on Etsy? Well, this misguided..thing.. has gone live for some Etsy members now. If it is live for you, you will see a button on the Activity page. This contact-importer only works for gmail, yahoo and aol accounts. But that doesn't mean that your email address won't get imported by someone even if you have another email provider.

As I said in the other post, RUN over to Etsy and change the setting for findability to NO.

Maybe some would argue that this contact importing isn't any different than what you can do on Facebook or Twitter or whatever. And I guess on the surface that is true.

However, those sites are social sites. They are not somewhere you can buy and sell things. And that is a big difference. Do you want anyone who has your email address to know what you buy? Do you want to know what other people buy?

I can answer no to both questions.

But that is not even the biggest issue with this. This is: I don't want a third party to poke around with my email contacts, no matter what reason and I can imagine this 'feature' being a gateway to spam the heck out of my friends - which is bad enough, But imagine that you are using a business email with your Etsy account and all of a sudden those contacts get inundated with all sorts of email that they have no interest in. (from the previous post)

I would strongly encourage you to use a separate email address on Etsy, whether you are seller there or a buyer. Don't let them anywhere near your personal contact list. I have started deleting all the contacts in the email account I use with Etsy. Just to be on the safe side.

Even if you have only used Etsy once or twice to buy a present for someone and you don't plan on going back, you are OPTED-IN to this "feature" by default. Seriously! This is an important privacy issue and everyone is opted-in if they don't do anything about it themselves! Imagine the implications of the Etsy system got hacked and someone got hold of all those email addresses! No thank you.

You can read the reactions over at the Etsy forum (what is left of it).. most of the comments are negative, but still they persist with this! And here is another article which chillingly (is that even a word?) suggests that perhaps one day it won't even be possible to opt-out. The circles "feature" on Etsy used to let you opt-out but that isn't so any longer... It is frightening to think that you wouldn't be able to opt-out and so wouldn't be able to protect your own privacy.

Opt-out now, it's at the bottom of this page. Yup. At the bottom where it is less obvious...

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Colour class reminder

Happy buttons
Oh colour, colour, colour... how much do I love it?! A lot, I tell ya! To be honest, I should be working on stuff for the Colour class right now.. but I got distracted! Curse you, Google Reader!

Then I figured I might as well just post this wee reminder that the class starts on Monday, so if you meant to sign up for it, there's still time. I would looove to have you join! I love colour and I'd love you to love it too.

Hmmm... a bit too much? A bit too lovey-dovey? ;-) I do mean it, though!

At the end of the class you should have a good knowledge of colour theory AND a whole bunch of colour palettes to use in your work. And yes, there will be a few embroidery patterns too. ;-)

Sign up for the Colour class right here.

Colour with Polka & Bloom

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Thank you

Quilt + grey bedding
Oh my, thank you so much for all your sweet comments on the magazine thing! I guess it kinda seems more unreal now that I have the magazine.. does that make sense? :-)

I walked into the bedroom the other day and I really liked the contrast of the quilt and the grey bedding. Would you call that pinstriped? I'm not normally a huge fan of grey, but this I like. Also, it's kinda like sleeping in a giant's suit! :-)

Quilt + grey bedding

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Polka & Bloom in a magazine!

Polka & Bloom in Cross Stitcher!
Eep! Hello! How are you?! I am quite excited... well, that's an understatement! Because look, look, look!! Polka & Bloom is in Cross Stitcher magazine!

I got an email from them a few months ago asking if I would send them some hi-res photos and, well, duh, yes of course I would! ;-)

And then.. I waited. Last month I got an email saying it would be in this month's issue, which is out today!

I don't know if you can imagine my anticipation? Especially when I picked it off the shelf and had to control myself so I didn't tear it open then and there. Well. I waited until I had turned the corner into the next aisle, so the magazine lady wouldn't think I was some kind of crazy person....
Polka and Bloom in Cross Stitcher!
Look, there it is! First time Polka & Bloom is in printed media. And such nice things they have to say! Thank you, Cross Stitcher!

I think this deserves a celebration, don't you? Until 10AM Thursday (UK time), buy any single pattern in the Polka & Bloom shop, get another one for free if you mention this post! Simply purchase the patterns you want and I'll refund the cheapest one.

Here are some handy links to the patterns mentioned in the piece: Cozy CurlicuesFreewheelin',  Keepin' Steady (not pictured), Marigold Sugar Skull and Rococo Sunset.

Polka and Bloom in Cross Stitcher!


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Monday, February 21, 2011

Parlez-vous mittens?

Mittens for my sister
I don't think I've shared these mittens I made for my sister. I made the pattern for the mittens myself and everything! And then I stitched on them. Writing 'left' and 'right' in French. My sister lived in France for a little while, so I thought it was fitting. :-)

Mittens for my sister
The lettering is done with whipped chain stitch. I quite like whipped chain stitch! I used two different pinks, but it's a bit difficult to tell. I think using similar colours in this type of stitch gives a nice shaded effect.

Mittens for my sister
It was surprisingly difficult to take a picture that showed the actual colour of the corduroy.. in the end I just gave up! It is a lot warmer in reality. The photo below shows it a bit better.

Mittens for my sister
I lined the mittens with a nice warm orange fleece. Mittens must be warm, don't you think? Even if you live in California like my sister! ;-)

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Mirror, mirror

Mirror
This is the only thing I bought in the charity shop in Denmark... A pretty mirror! Dang, I love it already!

And also, dang! It's still in Denmark! Because, you know, it's kinda difficult to fit a mirror into your hand luggage... So it will be waiting for us to take it home when we drive to Denmark for Christmas.

It's pretty, right? It may be teak.. it may not be..it could be stained to look like it's teak. Never mind, I think it's awesome. :-)

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Pretty strips

Quilt - charity shop
I thought the quilt deserved a whole post to itself. Right? It's really pretty! I especially love the dark fabric with the pink flowers. Lovely.

Do any of you quilting geniusssses recognise this design? I'd love to know what it is called. You know, for when I have time to sit down and make a quilt from lots of fiddly strips.. ;-)

I didn't buy it, by the way... I didn't have enough cash on me! But I'm starting to think maybe I should have bought it...

Quilt - charity shop

Quilt - charity shop

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Blues, glasses, stitches...

Blue flowers
Some things that caught my eye in a charity shop in Denmark - For Danes: ved Kjelsø Lejren på Århusvej [26] lige før Tange Sø, hvis du sku' komme forbi.. det er en fin lille IM Genbrugsbutik. Alt er rent og pænt.

Loch Lomond
That's Wedgwood that is! I almost bought it.. because I've been to Loch Lomond with my sweetie.. :-)

Quilt - charity shop
A pretty quilt. Imagine sewing all those strips together. It looked like it was done by machine. But still! All those strips!

Through the glasses

Stitched.. charity shop

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

February Stitchalong

Feeling Stitchy - February stitchalong 2011
Maybe you know I am also one of the bloggers at Feeling Stitchy? I am! :-) At the moment we've got a stitchalong going on - all through February, in fact. You should join in!

Amazingly, I have stolen a few moments here and there to stitch a version of the pattern too. It's weird to stitch someone else's pattern! ;-)

Feeling Stitchy - February stitchalong 2011
In need of ironing... As is often the case... I'm not the only one..right?

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Little green guys

Green chaps
In a charity shop yesterday.
After the yarn shopping.
Before the fabric shopping
Today it is snowing.
Mum is baking something special.
Perfection.

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Big squishy thank you + a giveaway

Wow, you guys, I am blown away by all your kind and encouraging comments on all my insecurities the other day. Here I was alone in thinking these thoughts and then it turns out that lots of you do too! :-)

I guess maybe showing a bit more of my... sensitive side isn't such a bad thing.. ;-)


And now for something completely unrelated:

Right here there was supposed to be a nice screen capture of a blog, but we're visiting my parents (happy happy dance!) and I can't figure out how to use Paint on my mum's computer, so there is no nice screen capture!

But! You can still go visit the blog called PinkLizzy Sews, because the lovely Rachel is hosting a wee giveaway and you could win one of my patterns! So whatcha waiting for, get yourself over there!

Right, that's me done - I'm off to have a nice home-cooked-by-mum dinner. Have a lovely weekend, peeps! :-)
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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Getting to know you - Sister Diane

You know, I always find it a bit difficult to write these little introductions to the interviews. Dunno why, it seems like should be easy! And today is no different - in fact it may even be more difficult, because how do you introduce someone who is as prolific (and inspiring) in so many ways as Sister Diane?! Crafter, blogger, podcaster, author, kitsch lover? Maybe it's better to just read what she has to say.. :-) Thank you, Diane!

Sister Diane 1
Your name
Sister Diane : : craftypod.com : :

Where in the world are you?
Portland, Oregon, USA

Briefly describe yourself and what you make
I’m a crafty geek who’ll try any craft at least once. I just love the act of making, and I love exploring how different craft tools and mediums work – and how they can be combined. I also love thinking about craft and making media about it – podcasts, videos, ebooks, etc.

Who or what inspires you?
I get inspiration all the time – at the grocery store, at a museum, while brushing my cat. The craft blog world, obviously, is an inspiration machine. We are unbelievably lucky to have such a massive, ever-changing visual resource at our fingertips. And as I’ve blogged about many times, I have a special place in my heart for the wacky craft books of the 1960s and 1970s. Back then, good design mattered less than novelty, so these books are full of creations that still make me laugh today, but also make me think differently.

When / how did you learn?
My Mom (Gingerbread Snowflakes) was so supportive of my creative dabblings as I was growing up. If I expressed the slightest interest in sculpting, we got some clay. If I wanted to learn needlepoint, she put canvas and needle into my hands and taught me stitches. She’s always been a crafty force – she made most of my clothes growing up, and killer Halloween costumes. She made our living room drapes and bed quilts. I’m a crafter because of her influence.

Why is making things by hand worth the 'effort'?
Heh! Is it ever effort? I think everyone has their own take on this question, but for me, it’s really all about the process. The act of making relaxes and rejuvenates us. It’s healing. And it grows in us new skills and confidence. When we make things, we gain a sense that we can shape our own lives. All of that is very powerful.

What is your craft ”philosophy”?
Make what you want, and respect others in their making. Take care of your body and mind, so you can stay creative.

Sister Diane 3
Fondest craft-related memory?
Hmmm, that’s a tough question – I have millions of fond craft memories. Choosing a favorite is stressing me out. Can I get away with saying that they’re pretty much ALL fond?

Have you always made 'stuff'?
I have! Ever since I was a tiny kid. I did have an ill-advised period, from college through my late 20’s, where I gave up crafting because it wasn’t “cool” and I bought into the prevailing wisdom that it wasn’t a smart career choice. Those were somewhat dark years. Luckily, I wised up.

Can you reveal a little about your creative process?
Well, my creative process is actually fairly sloppy. I have a notebook I scribble ideas and crude drawings into all the time, and every now and then, one of these will become too insistent to be ignored. I have a stash of less-than-attractive “development materials” that I use for initial prototypes. The first time I make a new design, I’m working out the mechanics (especially when I’m trying to hybridize two crafts, like embroidery and card-making). Then, over the course of the next couple weeks, I make several more refined prototypes, working out colors and proportions. I have to leave these prototypes lying around so I can look at them and think about them at odd moments. And eventually, the whole thing comes together.

How do you deal with crafty mistakes? Are they mistakes?
Nope, they’re just learning opportunities. I make several ugly versions of anything before I get to the good one. I actually really like crafty mishaps, because they often lead somewhere new and interesting.

Favourite book(s) or craftbook(s)?
I mentioned the 60s and 70s craft books earlier. These are perennial favorites. I also have a deep love of Japanese craft books. I love their design sensibility, their beautifully-detailed instructions, and the amazing variety of ideas they represent.

Do you have a designated craft space? What does it mean to you?
I have a very small craft space at the moment - one table that’s usually piled with too much stuff to craft on it. I miss having a whole room for crafting. A messy person like me really needs enough space to be messy in, and a door to close upon it all so other people don’t have to look at the mess.

Sister Diane 5
Do you use a sketchbook or journal?
Absolutely! My brain is always doing so many things at once, I have to write down ideas the moment they occur to me or they’re gone. I’ve learned this the hard way too many times, so now I always have a sketchbook with me.

Is your art/ craft a business as well? Any advice on running an arty/ crafty business?
My blog has grown into a full-time enterprise. I usually have two big pieces of advice for people interested in starting or running a creative small business:

1. Find ways to diversify your income as soon as possible. If you want to sew handmade stuffed toys, for example, do that, but also create some patterns to sell. Teach some classes in your local community. Do some freelance writing. (Or maybe, set up some income streams that have nothing to do with your art/craft of choice.) We live in chaotic times, and we all need to keep lots of options open for ourselves.

2. Embrace learning. I work with so many creative people who want to go into business, but feel intimidated by the things they don’t know. As an entrepreneur, you will learn new things every single day, forever. What you don’t know can hold you back – so don’t be scared of it! Charge in, find out what you need to learn, and then make time for the learning. You’ll feel amazing and ready to take on the next challenge.

What impact (if any) has the internet had on your craft?
The internet has had every impact imaginable on my crafting. The internet came into my life in my 30’s, so I spent most of my life in a world where it was hard to find another crafter in your neighborhood. From the 1980s forward, crafting wasn’t really embraced in U.S. mainstream culture the way it is now, so there just weren’t resources or community to support creative people on their journey.

Today, of course, we can befriend like-minded souls all over the world. We’re engaged in a giddy daily sharing of ideas and projects. And our individual creative growth moves by leaps and bounds as a result.

...And now, many of us are at an evolutionary moment where we’re learning how to balance that abundance with our own dreams of making our living from creative work. It’s an endlessly interesting moment.

Sister Diane 4
Do you make art or craft? Is there a difference?
I don’t really get into that whole art vs. craft debate. To me, creative work is creative work, and it’s all healing and important. I do perceive that a larger percentage of people who self-identify as fine artists seem to shy away from (or even campaign against) the internet. And this makes me sad, because to my mind, these folks are missing out on the many benefits of greater interconnection. I don’t buy into the idea that keeping fine art scarce translates to more money. The internet has, for better or worse, upended our notions of value. There are vast, fresh opportunities for fine artists to use the web to reach a larger audience, if they’d just start exploring.

If you could make any project without limits to cost, materials or skill, what would it be?
I really want to get into needle felting – I have this sense that once I do, it’ll take over my life, so I keep putting it off. I’d also love to make a quilt one day, and if I REALLY had some available time, I’d go deep into exploring plastic canvas. Don’t laugh! That stuff is an under-appreciated wonder-medium.

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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Seize the day

Looking for Caesar...
This blog post by Susannah Conway has been on my mind for over a week now... It is, I guess, some 'notes to self' about the book she is writing. Here's a tiny snippet:
Sometimes i write a whole page and every sentence is accompanied by the ‘who’s going to want to read this crap?’ song. Sometimes I write something and i know it’s not the whole truth, i know i’m holding back for fear of being judged. Sometimes I have to let that fear go and write what is really in my heart. 
Actually, saying that it has been on my mind is an understatement.. more like, it's been bothering me! In a good way. Anything that makes you think is pretty good in my book. :-)

You see... I sometimes don't write posts because of that fear of being judged. Which is silly. I know it's silly. But fear doesn't care about silly, does it? I guess that's the funny thing about this: I fear sounding or looking silly, but fear itself could care less about itself being silly.

Erm. So as I was saying..

Words go unused, as do sentences and expressions and whole blog posts, just because I am afraid to seem stupid or silly or whatever the heck it is.

I guess maybe I can excuse some of the unused words and expressions with English not being my first language. I get confused! I don't like mis-spelling words. And I don't like looking silly if I get some expression wrong.. I can't think of any right now, of course. Typical!

It doesn't help that some words sound the same, but are spelled very differently, so I can't even look it up!

One example: Seize the day.. Is it seize, sieze, sees, cease.. could even be sis... You see what I mean? Confusion.

Sure, yes, the same sort of thing happens in Danish and every other language as well. I have no doubt about that. But I'm not writing  in Danish, so that argument doesn't really help me shut up my inner critic. But I'm going to start giving myself credit, kudos, bonus points, for writing in another language. Most people don't do that. So there! ;-)

So. I have to put up with my inner critic. That's bad enough. But I also have to put up with you criticising me and laughing at me. Well, not you, of course. You would never do that. But in my imagination there is a whole host of readers who will just sit there laughing at me. I just can't catch a break, huh? ;-)

Of course, spelling and getting phrases wrong... I also hesitate when it comes to laying bare my soul, as it were. For fear of being judged. Writing this post goes into that category for me. Like, who's going to want to read this drivel? Who cares? Who does she think she is? Ugh.

So dumb, right? I don't like listening to those voices in my head! I want to shut them up. I hope this post will do that. Or help do that, at least. Liberate my thoughts. Set them free... To hell with what others might think! And I mean that in the nicest way possible. You know? :-)

I don't know if I have actually succeeded in expressing what I set out to do with this post. That's another worry: will people get it? Does it make sense? Is it good enough? (By extension, am I good enough?)

But I'm not going to worry about that, this is the year of 'Do It' after all, and by George, I'm just going to press that 'publish' button in a minute and that's that. No backsies! I'm not even allowed to edit it.

So here goes. Thank you for reading. You don't know how much it means to me. :-)

*publish*

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Using Flickr photos in blog posts - tutorial

Maybe you remember way back in November when I compared 2 different ways of adding photos to blog posts? Uploading directly in Blogger (etc) compared to using Flickr code. Since then I've been meaning to do a tutorial for using Flickr, because that definitely gives the better result.

So here it is! You'll need a Flickr account of course. You can blog other people's photos this way too, but it's best to ask for permission first. :-) I'll be using this photo of wrapping paper.

By the way, last year I wrote a tutorial for blogging photos directly from Flickr, but you can only blog one photo at a time that way. Using the method below you can add as many photos as you fancy.

Flickr-blog screenshot 1
Go over to Flickr and find the photo you want to use. Click on the "Share this" button above the photo. You'll get a few options, but we're only interested in the "Grab the HTML/BBCode" bit, so click on that and you'll get a few more options.

Make sure the "HTML" button is ticked for use in your blog posts. "BBCode" is used on forums and stuff.

Flickr-blog screenshot 2
Like this: you can pick the size you want the photo to be on your blog. My content column is fairly wide, so I use a fairly large photo size as well, the 'Medium 640' option in Flickr. Pick the size you want and then click inside the box with the code, highlight the code and copy it (Ctrl+c).

The number in the name refers to the width of the image in pixels. You can see the width and hight for each size in the brackets next to each size. It doesn't mean that if you pick the 'Small' size your image will show up as exactly 240 x 159 pixels. The Flickr image code will always reduce or enlarge keeping the same ratio relationship between width and height. So if for example your image is 240 x 400 pixels, it will not suddenly be squashed down to 159 pixels! 


Unless you really want it to, but then you have to do it manually! ;-)

Flickr-blog screenshot 3
Head over to your blog post and make sure you are in "Edit HTML" mode, using the tabs at the top right.

Then paste the code from Flickr into the post. If none of the size options from Flickr fit the width of your content column, don't worry, you can set the width of the photo manually.

In the code you pasted find the width="500" (or whatever number it is) and change it to a larger or smaller number as required. When you change the width manually, the height will not be reset automatically. But don't worry, you won't need to get out the calculator to find out what size to set it to. Simply delete the height="whatevernumber" and it will be fine. As long as the width is set it's all good.

And that is about it - there is one more thing you can do with the photo-

First, though, I just thought I should mention that it is always best to use the whole HTML code that Flickr generates for our pictures and not just the img bit with the actual photo link. It is a free hosting service, basically (unless you go pro of course, but it's still quite cheap, yo) and it also makes it easy for people who see your photos, to visit your Flickr stream and see more of your creations.


From the Flickr Community Guidelines: "Do link back to Flickr when you post your Flickr content elsewhere.
Flickr makes it possible to post content hosted on Flickr to other web sites. However, pages on other web sites that display content hosted on flickr.com must provide a link from each photo or video back to its page on Flickr. This provides a way to get more information about the content and the photographer."


Flickr-blog screenshot 4
Once you have added your photo, go back to the "Compose" mode and click once on the photo so it becomes highlighted, then click on the 'Alignment' tool in the toolbar and pick the 'align center' option. Ok, you don't have to do this - but in my humble opinion it looks nicer when photos are aligned this way. :-)

Pretty
Pretty wrapping paper, right? I loves me some wrapping paper! We've got more than we need, really, but don't tell Tony because then he's just going to say I shouldn't buy any more! ;-)

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Monday, February 7, 2011

Wonky Dots needlebook

Needlebook
I made a needlebook in the summer of 2006, when I had just started doing all this crafty stuff. The other day I thought it was time for a new one. Not least because I can't find the old one, but I think I've learnt a few things in the meantime...

So here's my new one - I like it! It's quite summery, don't you think?

Needlebook
It has a few.. special features! An elastic to hold some thread. You can't do any stitching without thread!

Needlebook
A pocket for my small pair of embroidery scissors. I've tied a bit of thread to the handle, this means "Hands Off", these scissors may only be used for cutting thread!

I've done a similar thing with my fabric scissors; tied a bit of fabric onto them. Means the same thing. Necessary when you live with someone who can't tell the difference between regular scissors and special ones! ;-)

Needlebook
My favouritest feature of my needlebook: a small padded/quiltet area which I can use as a pincushion. This is very handy. Especially if you have a tendency to stick needles and pins in the arms of your sofa. Not me, of course, I'd never do that... Nosiree!

Oh and, my second favouritest thing about the needlebook is that I made it from fabric with my own designs from Spoonflower! That's just so incredibly awesome! I mean, that you can have your very own fabric designs printed. I used these two designs: Wonky Dots Cool and Fleur Mint.

Actually, that reminds me, I have a few new designs to show you. :-)

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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Soft song for a Sunday


I listened to this song A LOT in the summer of 2002. Can barely believe that's almost nine years ago. Vanessa Carlton 'A Thousand Miles' from the album Be Not Nobody. Well worth checking out. It's one of my favouritest ever albums ever.

Hope you're having a lovely Sunday! :-)

PS - I have extended the 15% off offer on the Colour Class until today, so you can still take advantage of that! Until tomorrow morning when I get up and have breakfast, brush my teeth, maybe comb my hair, do the dishes and then switch on the computer and check my emails and then I'll change the price back. :-)
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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Cirque at the Hall

Liberty
Hey! A couple of weeks ago, Tony and I spent a lovely afternoon and evening in London. First we did a bit of (mostly) window shopping in Oxford Street and Carnaby Street. Of course, I forced Tony to come into Liberty! But it's just too expensive there, such a shame! ;-) As we walked down to Liberty this strange thing passed by... my money is on a theatre prop, it's the west end after all!

After a bit of dinner, we went off on a bus- apart from them usually being quite slow, especially on Oxford Street, I actually quite like taking the bus in London, it's easier to get a sense of how the city is stitched together, much more so than when using the Tube. But I digress...

Totem at Royal Albert Hall
So, off we went on the bus, to Royal Albert Hall! Neither of us had ever been there before. It is really rather grand, don't you think? Even on a grainy mobile phone picture!

We were there to see the Cirque du Soleil, the 'Totem' performance. Tony had seen Cirque in the US before, but I had never seen it. So I wasn't sure exactly what to expect and Tony couldn't really explain it. Which I totally get now!

Royal Albert Hall
Now we're inside the RAH! After waiting outside for like 40 minutes because we were pretty early! From this corridor was access to the boxes on one side and toilets and bars on the other side.

We sat in a box! (Our tickets were a gift!) We felt very special and posh! For the boxes you could even order snacks and drinks to be served in the interval! Even more posh, I say!

Cirque du Soleil - Totem
This is the view from the box we sat in. Not a very good picture, because I had to take it a bit in secret; no pictures were allowed - even before the show! Which was a bit ..mean, I think! A lot of people probably only get to go to RAH once, maybe twice, in their lives - and then not be allowed to take a picture, sheesh!

Anyway! The show was really, really amazing! I am not a huge fan of circus in general or acrobatics in particular, but I was absolutely blown away! It was all the classic circus acts but re-imagined in the best way possible! I am not going to tell you about the show itself, I don't want to spoil it for you if you manage to go see it yourself!

I will mention one thing though, a guy and a girl doing a trapeze act; hanging off the trapeze and off each other, very impressive. But at one point the guy was only hanging from the trapeze by the back of his neck!! Bloody hell!

Royal Albert Hall
I can highly recommend seeing 'Totem', it's on until February 17th! In London, that is - it will go elsewhere afterwards.

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Friday, February 4, 2011

Findability? NO!

Aw snap! There's no pretty picture!

Did that get your attention? I hope it did. Because this is important, so I hope you will read it. It is regarding our Etsy accounts - it doesn't matter if you're a seller or just a buyer over there.

You may have received an email about "An important message about a new feature and our Privacy Policy". It has this bit in it:
...Right now it's hard to find people you know on Etsy, and that's sad. Well, we're changing that. We're making it easy to connect your email address book to Etsy, so we can find people you know who are also members.
(If you don't want people you know to be able to find you, you will be able easily to opt out through your account privacy settings.)
We're letting you know about this in advance, and will be launching this feature in mid-February.
We have also revised our Privacy Policy in anticipation of this feature. You can review our Privacy Policy here: http://www.etsy.com/policy/privacy
I want to urge you to go, no RUN, over to your Etsy account right now and change the settings for 'Findability' - it's the bottom part on this page.

This thing is wrong on so many levels! First of all, it's "sad" (aww, diddums!) that you can't find people you know on Etsy?! Really? How about asking them? Friendly email? "Yo, dude, are you on Etsy?" Also, some people use a separate email for their, you know, Business, than they use with their friends.

This feature (I use the term loosely) should have been opt-IN, not opt-OUT. Because how about people who join later and don't realise that they are opted-IN?

And seriously, I don't want a third party to poke around with my email contacts, no matter what reason and I can imagine this 'feature' being a gateway to spam the heck out of my friends - which is bad enough, But imagine that you are using a business email with your Etsy account and all of a sudden those contacts get inundated with all sorts of email that they have no interest in.

This is starting to feel more and more like Fakebook (which I left last year), and in my opinion that is bad. There are many more important things that need fixin' on Etsy.. mining for people's contacts should not even be on the to-do list!

*sigh*

Anyway, as I said, RUN over and change the settings in Findability - because guess what? It is already live despite the email saying 'mid February' - so if people don't realise it, that's a good 2 weeks where Etsy can scoop up info under the radar. Great huh? Change the setting to NO.

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Getting to know you - Saskia Hazeveld

Aloha! Are you ready for a riot of colour?! Because that's exactly what you get from Saskia of Crafty Valley! I mean, I think she is even more fearless than yours truly when it comes to crochet and colours! And that can't possibly be a bad thing - especially at this time of year! So, thank you to Saskia for letting me interview you; let's see what she has to say!

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Your name
Saskia Hazeveld aka Morrewen
: : website : : blog : :

Where in the world are you?
In Assen, that is a small city in the north of the Netherlands.

Briefly describe yourself and what you make
I am creative, crafty, colourful, enthusiastic, headstrong and a bit chaotic at times! I love to paint and read adventurous or romantic books. I draw and paint but lately I have spent most of my crafty-time crocheting or crafting with my kids. I have a blog and a shop where I sell crocheted bags, yarns and patterns.

Who or what inspires you?
-My children inspire me everyday with their honest look at the world, they show me colours, shapes and things I would normally overlook.
-The colours of nature inspire me, from a red sunset to a clear blue sky or a blooming tree, it all gives me ideas for colour combinations or patterns.
-I follow loads of blogs about colour and crafts.
-Art inspires me, Monet, Picasso, Salvador Dali and so on...

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When / how did you learn?
I learned to crochet a year ago. After falling with my bike and hurting my knee-ligament I was confined to a chair for weeks. I fell asleep every evening because I was so bored. When my husband asked me if I could do anything about that ( I think he thought I was not much fun ) I decided to try crochet like I saw a friend of mine do at work.

Why is making things by hand worth the 'effort'?
I own a crocheted throw that my grandmother made, it is really special to me because she made this with love and she spent weeks making it just to give it away. Besides that I think that making something handmade and not made with hundreds at a time is something unique and therefore special and different. I like to distinguish myself from the crowd and making something unique fits that philosophy.

What is your craft ”philosophy”?
Be crafty! Don’t hesitate, even if you want things to be just perfect, they don’t need to be as long as you have fun! Try new things and make something unique!

Have you always made 'stuff'?
My father and aunt are both very crafty, my father paints and makes card. My aunt makes ceramic art. I always loved watching and joining them as a child. They encouraged me to make my own things. I am very grateful they did. I cannot remember a time when I did not craft in one way or another. Even my earliest memories are full of drawing, painting, crafting and colouring.

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Can you reveal a little about your creative process?
I usually try to get inspiration from nature or from images I find online, then I sketch the shape and colours I want, then I find the right stitch and yarn. Then I pick up my crochet hook and try to make the thing I have in mind, sometimes it fails terribly but usually I get it right in the end.

How do you deal with crafty mistakes? Are they mistakes?
I deal really bad with mistakes. I get frustrated and I even throw projects around the room when they don’t work like I want to! I just have to lay the project down and try again some other time.

Favourite book(s) or craftbook(s)?
I especially love vintage crochet books. Even though some projects are terribly out of fashion, some things are just fabulous!

Do you have a designated craft space? What does it mean to you?
We bought a new couch a couple of months ago and there I sit crocheting or designing. But I also crochet wherever possible, in the train to work, in a waiting room or during my breaks at work. My creative workspace can be anywhere really and I like that about crochet! Just as I can take a sketchbook with me to draw something I see.

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Do you use a sketchbook or journal?
Yes, I sketch my patterns and design shapes.

Why is crafting good for you?
It gives me joy and peace. I just cannot sit still, especially with my hands, so crochet is perfect! Plus I can bring it with me anywhere I go!

Is your art/ craft a business as well? Any advice on running an arty/ crafty business?
Yes, I have a webshop since October. My advise? Do it! Start your own business if you think it gives you pleasure!

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What impact (if any) has the internet had on your craft?
Without the YouTube tutorials I would have never taken up crochet, so I would not be crocheting! And I get so much crochet and painting inspiration from the internet.

Do you make art or craft? Is there a difference?
Good question! I try to make colour-art, but I let people decide for themselves if I have succeeded. Anything can be art, if it truly is? That is for the critics to decide, I guess.

If you could make any project without limits to cost, materials or skill, what would it be?
Lots of crocheted blankets in bright colours. Preferably with merino or alpaca wool.

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