This is one of my favourite posts to write because it gives me a chance to look back over the year and rediscover all of my favourite DIYs, makes and bakes - although these are your favourites (according to google analytics) I’m super pleased that lots of them are my favourites too!
The quilted patchwork cushion cover makes me smile whenever I sit on it (I’m pleased to report it’s very comfy) and we still practically live off Gary’s oat bars - we’re going to need a lot to make up for all the Christmas chocolate too. I’m also happy to see that ‘Four simple ways I’m going to make my life better’ has made the top 5; I was unsure about hitting publish on that one as it was a bit different to my usual style and while I admit I have kind of gone back to eating lunch at my desk, I’ve definitely stuck to the others and feel a lot better for it.
Whether you live somewhere that gets a healthy dose of the white stuff each winter or not, this knitted snowflake bunting guarantees you'll get a bit of snow to admire (and for those of us in the UK, it comes without any travel chaos or panic shopping. Win). Plus the cool blues and Nordic style means it could easily be left up after Christmas as winter bunting too.
As it’s my final Sew Crafty Design Team post of the year, I had to go back to the gorgeous DMC Natura Just Cotton yarn, the simple cotton really suits the cool, Nordic vibe. Plus of course the red mini pegs are the perfect finishing touch!
Easy DIY Christmas card with detachable decoration
Despite making my own Christmas cards every year I realised I've never actually shown you any, mainly because I'm usually making them in a ridiculous rush two days before Christmas... but thankfully, this year I've been a bit more organised. So today I'm sharing my super quick and easy handmade Christmas card, featuring the most gorgeous glittery felt you ever did see from Sew Crafty shop, plus you can detach the holly and use it as a Christmas decoration the following year!
First make your holly decorations, I crocheted mine using this leaf pattern from Attic 24 and this berry pattern from From Home Crochet. But you could make them out of card, fabric or even upcycle an existing Christmas decoration.
Attach string to your holly decoration and tie into a knot, making sure the knot is hidden behind the decoration.
Take your glitter felt and lay right side down, then place your card on top at an angle and draw around it. While you have your pencil in hand use a ruler to find the centre point on the card and put a small dot where you want your peg to go.
Cut out your piece of felt and cover the back with double sided tape. Then carefully stick onto the front of your card.
Clip the peg over your decoration then cut a very small piece of double sided tape and stick it on the back of your peg.
Finally stick the peg to the front of your card - over the dot you made earlier, and ta-dah one finished Christmas card, quicker than you can sing deck the halls!
Have you made any Christmas cards this year?
*some of the materials for this project were supplied by Sew Crafty, but all opinions are my own.
So these last few months have really flown by, haven't they? It'll be Christmas before we know it and I'm starting to worry the festive season will pass in a busy blur, just like autumn did! In an attempt to avoid feeling like 'blink and you missed it', I've been inspired by the autumn manifesto written by the lovely Lou of Little Green Shed, to create a winter manifesto full of meaningful ways to slow down and enjoy this festive time of year.
I suppose it’s a little hygge inspired too...
Bake lebkuchen (German gingerbread)
Visit a Christmas market
Make a handmade decoration
Knit a super warm snood
Forage for evergreen
Bake Christmas biscuits
Crochet a blanket to cosy up under
Have friends over for dinner
Crunch through grass on frosty mornings
Have a movie night
Drink mulled wine
Look up at the stars
Go for a long walk
Warm up with hot chocolate
What would be on your list? Let me know in the comments.
A shamefully long time ago I wrote a post about planning our bathroom makeover; this was back in January, when I did plan almost all of the redecoration. However, it then took us until May to find and agree on a price with a suitable plumber. Also because we did a lot of the work ourselves in snatched evenings and weekends, it took what felt like forever to get it finished. And then life kept getting in the way of me photographing and blogging it for you.
Here's the before - no natural light, no storage and basically no space.
And here are all the pretty afters...
The main difference has got to be light and airy feel the room now has. To give the bathroom some much needed natural light we added a sun tunnel to the ceiling, which goes through our attic and out onto the roof, you can't see through it but it lets loads of lovely light in. The perfect solution when you don't have any budget or space for a proper window. See a picture of the bit you can see in the ceiling here.
The second difference is the wall paint, although it caused us extra work and a bit more cost to strip all the existing tiles and get the top half of the room plastered I was adamant that it needed doing and I'm so glad I insisted. It's opened the space up and allowed us to use this gorgeous Light and Space wall paint by Dulux*. It's billed as using Lumitec and light-reflecting particles to reflect light back into the room. I was a little sceptical when reading about it, but figured in such a dark bathroom we needed all the help we could get! I'm really impressed with the job it's done, and actually spent a few weeks wondering why the corners looked so different in this room and finally realised it's because they are lighter than other rooms - so those light-reflecting particles seem to be doing something.
The other really major change is that we've removed the bath and replaced it with a shower cubicle. I know most bloggers love their baths, but in all honesty neither of us ever used it and as it was taking up valuable space we put a shower cubicle and a proper shower in. We've got so much space in return and were able to use the extra wall space to add a heated towel rail instead of a radiator, which we're loving now the weather is getting colder. The lighter and easy to look after vinyl floor has also opened up the space. Plus we have storage! I even have a few extra ideas to squeeze in even more storage if we need to in the future, but as we're okay at the moment I think it's time for a rest first.
I'd love to know what you think.
*the paint was supplied by Dulux for the purpose of a review, but all opinions are my own.
Autumn might possibly be my favourite season. I say 'might' because I know that come spring and summer I'll also be proclaiming my affection for the them too! But I do love the crisp light, colourful leaves and refreshing air that autumn brings. There are few things better than a long walk through crunchy leaves before returning for a warming drink, good food and an evening bathed in candle light. I always enjoy seeing how others celebrate autumn and luckily my Instagram has been filled with gorgeous photographs this month, so I thought I'd share with you a few of my favourite accounts for autumn inspiration.
Finding treasure in antique shops - I originally saw this book on pinterest and fell in love with the little owl, but was disappointed to find the link went to a sold Etsy listing. That must have been sometime last winter, so when browsing a few books in antique shops at the weekend I couldn't believe my luck when I pulled this one off the shelf and saw the cover! I'm super excited to start stitching it soon.
Reading The Lake House by Kate Morton. I'm halfway through and I'm hooked. It follows Kate's usual style, skipping between several eras as present day police officer on leave, Sadie, attempts to unravel the mysterious disappearance of a baby boy from a Midsummer's Eve party in 1933. I'm
really struggling to put it down each evening - if only we didn't need sleep.
Planting daffodil bulbs... 45 of them to be exact. Aside from a gorgeous peach climbing rose and summer tomato plants our small garden has been pretty neglected since we moved in almost two years ago. This month, however, we've been making some big changes - re-cutting borders, pulling out overgrown bushes and creating more usable space. The current side effect of this though is that we have almost no plants left and won't do over the winter, so I want to make sure that by spring we'll at least have some cheery yellow daffodils to enjoy.
Publishing my first crochet pattern on Etsy! You may have noticed that I've been working on the floral & feather Etsy shop this year, it's been a slow process as I work out what feels right. Increasingly I've been keen to sell the patterns for my makes as well as the finished projects, as I've loved the design process. Last week I launched my first pattern - the dip-dye crochet phone case - see it here! I'm so excited and am already working on the next one, plus have lots of ideas in my head for the future.
The book Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert was a pretty big deal... last summer. But of course I didn't read it at the same time as everyone else, I read it at the beginning of this year and loved it. You may wonder why I'm only just blogging about it now though and the reason is that recently I've found myself flicking back through its pages to re-absorb the encouragement and inspiration found within. It may sound a bit daft but it really does help with the inevitable self-doubt that comes with creativity especially when, like me, you're starting out in the scary world of selling the things you make.
So rather than a book review, which would just be me saying how much I enjoyed it, I thought instead I'd pick out three phrases that stood out to me and could help any creative person through life:
"Cooperate fully, humbly and joyfully with inspiration" (page 40)
Why it's important: You can't force inspiration. If you sit around waiting for it, it won't strike. So when you do get that exciting idea don't rush it, work with it.
"You do not need anybody's permission to live a creative life" (page 86)
"Or if you do worry that you need a permission slip - THERE, I just gave it to you. [...] Now go make something." (page 90)
Why it's important: I had a cliched 'lightbulb moment' when I read that sentence. Subconsciously I'd been waiting for the 'permission' to give things a go. I don't know whose permission I was waiting for. But at that second I realised I was waiting for it. The lesson here is to stop waiting and simply start, because waiting rooms are pretty boring places.
"Don't rush through the experiences and circumstances that have the most capacity to transform you." (page 247)
Why it's important: I'm SO impatient. Always trying to skip the journey and rush to the destination. But it turns out that's pretty stressful and tiring and, you know, impossible. A good approach instead is to go through the obstacles in your way, rather than try to rush around them.
Those are the three things I'm reminding myself of often at the moment. I've applied them to my creative business, but the book itself is about a creative life, therefore use them as affirmations in whatever way you need - to take that new class, to tackle that big idea or simply in your everyday decisions. And of course, it's a brilliant book so you really should read the whole thing if you haven't already!
If you've read it, I'd love to know what you thought in the comments.
Weaving is big right now and has been for some time, and you can see why, any craft that encapsulates gorgeous squishy yarns, pom-poms and tassels is kind of guaranteed to be a hit. Especially one which effortlessly crosses the bridge between modern design and traditional techniques (check out this pinterest board if you want to see some stunning examples...).
I've tried weaving once before with the freebie kit that came with issue 58 of Mollie Makes. Obviously I loved it, but didn't really know where to go with it next. So as soon as I spotted the Rico weaving kits on Sew Crafty Shop I knew what my second Design Team make would be! Ever ambitious (or fool hardy) I decided to try the circular weaving loom with some gorgeous DMC Natura Just Cotton yarns in blush, coral and teal.
The yarns are just beautiful, super soft cotton and as soon as I saw the shades I knew they would be perfect for a rose. I couldn't help myself and added the pom-poms to finish it off which work well with the bowl shape I ended up with (see tip 5!). There's something so special about sitting down with a weaving loom; it's such a relaxing craft, the movements are rhythmic and it's not something you can rush so it's the perfect craft to unwind with after a day at work.
The Rico weaving loom comes instructions to warp your loom, weave and cut off, which were invaluable to a novice like me. But here's five extra tips I learned along the way:
1. At the start of your circular weaving, keep pulling the yarn tight
After warping (setting up) your loom, the fun bit starts. But the first few rounds of weaving on mine looked anything but pretty, until I pulled the yarn really tight and the wobbly ovals transformed into smooth, even circles.
2. Free-hand is fun
There aren't many crafts where you can pick up the materials without any prior plan or design and create something beautiful. Embrace it.
3. Trying to 'draw' shapes while weaving in a circle will blow your mind
If you do decide to try to weave a particular design do keep the 'free-hand' bit in mind, my rose shape evolved very naturally and halfway through I did try to draw how to finish it off, but of course you are constantly working with a curve shape which didn't translate to my drawing and mainly just caused me a bit of a headache! As soon as I abandoned the drawing and went back to free-hand, the rest of the rose appeared just fine.
4. Make the most of your edging
Pom-poms and tassels, need I say more?
5. Iron your piece after cutting off but before tying your ends together
Or if your piece uses big bulky yarns that aren't really suitable for ironing at least be sure to hold it flat before tying your ends together. Otherwise your weaving will curl into a bowl like shape, like mine has!
Have you tried weaving on a circular loom before? Let me know if you have any extra tips too!
*some of the materials for this project were supplied by Sew Crafty, but all opinions are my own.
Baking a citrus Maderia cake because I've scummed to the rule that you can't watch Bake Off without cake! It was also an excuse to try a recipe from last year's recipe book Bake Off Celebrations. I went with a summery citrus cake this time, but can't wait to try some of the autumnal and (dare I say it...) festive recipes, they look SO GOOD.
Exploring the gorgeous Charleston Farm House in East Sussex, the home of Bloomsbury Group members Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. It became the Bloomsbury Group's country meeting place in the 1920s and beyond and every inch is covered with their decorative paintings and quirky furniture. The effect is stunning and you feel as though you are walking inside a painting yourself. Sadly, you can't take photographs inside the house, but here's one from the equally glorious and colourful garden.
Reading War and Peace; I didn't know the story before watching the BBC adaptation earlier this year and happened to mention to my Mum that although I enjoyed it I felt like the story line moved quite fast, well now I've seen the size of the book I can see why - there's a lot to get through! I'm not very far in yet, the font is tiny and there's so many Russian names to keep track of... have you read it? I'd love to know if you think it's worth persevering with?
Waiting not very patiently for the last of my tomatoes to ripen. Last year they got this big and then died, so I'm thrilled to have made it this far this year! We've already had lots but there are still some green ones waiting to turn red, which I'm hoping they'll do before it gets too cold for them...