Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Summer stitching - fushia, marigold, dahlia oh my!

We are exactly half way through the school summer hols here and there as been a flurry of activity as well as plenty of stitching (surprisingly!). Holidays usually mean a slowing down on the creative front, but it's been amazing how productive I have been alongside the holiday fun. 

I think the key has been 'focus', so any moment spare has been put to good use......this includes a couple of REALLY fun and super cool projects I've been involved with which will be revealed soon! Can't wait.

The 'focus' maybe came when there was a complete LACK of it at the beginning of my hols....I managed to leave behind my bag in the holiday home we stayed in a few weeks ago. It had all the embroidery supplies I'd been working on, my sketchbook full of designs and some vintage reference books I'd been using...... oh man I was sooo annoyed...mainly because I'd made sure everyone else's stuff had been packed and put in the boot...just not my own. *sigh*
Anyway it will be returned to me in a couple of months, a sweet chain of people and meet ups will eventually bring it back (postage costs just seemed too outrageous and the reality was it was nothing I couldn't LIVE without!)

Silver lining was I found a new embroidery 'holder', an old pouch I made years ago which had been gathering dust in a drawer...and I started a new project (the flower pieces you see here). I have (yet another!) plan in mind for these samplers...but given that I have so many other little projects in the works it may take a little time...but I'm having fun playing meanwhile :)  

It made me smile as I realised that my nails were matching my embroidery...well I suppose if I was a 'real lady' then I guess it always would haha!



I hope Summer is treating you well so far...... let these summer inspired flowers infuse you with sunshine if not :)xx

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Embroidery Samplers- sneak peak

It's a shame we can't enjoy a slow, relaxing process AND get things to completion quickly!
It feels like I've been working on the same project for aaaaages.......
Let's rephrase that.... I HAVE been working on the same projects for aaaages!

I've designed some embroidery samplers , 8 of them infact and I am slap bang in the middle of stitching them up, choosing colours, deciding stitches, tweaking and unpicking.(lots of unpicking!)
I've also been getting myself versed in the technique of screen printing as I have grand plans for these samplers. That's all I'm saying for now.... 
The plan was to have them ready for summer but that's clearly not going to happen! Oh I do like to give myself the most unrealistic of deadlines ;)
So I wanted to give a little taster of what I've been working on and what's to come.....

As per usual the designs are nature themed:

It's in full down pour here so the leaves are looking luscious and green but too wet to photo.
I chose a combo of 10 thread colours, with the intention of using only these for all 8 samplers. I went for muted tones and a collection of colours that are quite the opposite to my norm. This has probably presented the biggest challenge as while I really love the look of the muted tones, it's the vibrant colours and playing with different combinations which make stitching fun for me.

Hopefully I'll have all 8 finished samplers to share with you soon!!

Friday, 10 June 2016

Free! Summer Garden Stitching Project

Oooh! I'm so excited to share a 'Summer Garden' sewing project for you to stitch up and decorate your home with summery sweetness.
 I've collaborated with the lovely Nicole at Cloudcraft and created a F*R*E*E pattern and tutorial to make these summer inspired bird and flower decorations. I used a selection of the gorgeous 100% wool felt that Nicole offers. 

It's a simple and fun project for you to stretch those sewing and embroidery muscles if you are fairly new to sewing....or it's the perfect opportunity to get creative and embellish with your own designs and stitches if you the more seasoned stitcher :)

 You can find the tutorial and pattern here on the Cloudcraft blog...simply follow the link download the pdf file, print and get stitching! 

Nicole is offering a fab giveaway over on instagram, of the felt and threads that were used to make the decorations. To be in with a chance of winning 7 x wool felt pieces and 5 skeins of DMC threads (shown below) you can go here and get the details.

Enjoy!! :)x

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

New stitchery projects

A friend posed a question this morn, which in turn has prompted this post (the first in a while you may note!).
The question went along the lines of : When did comparing my experience to someone else's rob me of happiness, and cause me to miss my own unique experience? 
How can I enjoy my own experience more?
Ok, so that was 2 questions!
They weren't being directed specifically at me, and they weren't asked in a way that needed an immediate answer (more of a quiet rumination).... but despite the focus on a less than pleasant thought process, the questions felt expanding and inviting.

We can all think of a moment where we have compared ourselves and felt rubbish. (Ha! If only it stopped at one moment!) 

My latest 'comparison moment' lead me to feeling that I wasn't showing up enough on social media, that I 'should' be doing more, posting more, promoting more,more,more....
As you may have noticed my reaction to that was to do the polar opposite and just not show up at all..... *sigh*
I blame my stubborn streak....I hate being told what to do even if it is me telling my self! 

Ridiculous...and funny :)

So anyhoos I'm neither going to let my 'comparison' OR 'stubborn' JOY robbing thoughts stand in my way.....I have so much stitchery goodness to share. Yipeeee!

I have introduced 2 new kits to my shop, which may be my favourite designs yet.(Available here)
This bear one is called 'Homeward Bound'. I may have mentioned before about my love of bears.....they remind me of 'home' somehow....hard to explain, coming from a somewhat 'bear-free!' Scotland...but they do. I really love the rose quartz coloured background and the mix of pink threads. A new colour mix to the kits but I'm so happy with how the designs all sit together. 
I'm a proud embroidery kit mumma!

Kit number 2 is below...... and introduces Long and Short stitch in some more pinky threads. Each kit I create comes with illustrated instructions on the stitches involved, but I like to add extra support for those who need it. You can find an extra detailed tutorial on Long and short stitch over on my website, here.
The idea for this kit was that the flowers are stitched and the swallow zooms out from the negative space.....This piece is stitched on a 4" hoop and so is a great pocket sized project to take out and about with you. I find this time of year so great for stitching in the sunshine while the kids play merrily...be it beach, park or bubbling stream :) It's available here.

I've also added a couple of new pdf's to my shop.
The first one is based on some bee designs I stitched up last summer. It's called 'Free to bee' and comes with a few different versions of the design so you can be(e) creative with it! The pdf pattern is available as an instant download here.

The other Pdf is a pattern now available is to make this sweet owl. He wants to accompany your little one for snuggles, or sit on your shelf or computer and whisper to you sweet secrets from the woods......

I've safety tested this little Owl, even though it's not normally done or legally required for patterns. I've been negotiating the tricky waters of safety testing some deer 'doll' designs (I shared about here), and got this owl involved too. Feels good to be able to offer designs that are not only sweet sewing projects but safe too! The pattern Pdf is availabe here.

Phew! So that's us all up to date now...and the comparison/joy thief has left the building :)
I'll be back with a fun FREEBIE to share next week.....A collaboration with Cloudcraft and a Sweet Summer Garden stitching project...if you like the sneakpeak below then you'll LOVE what's a'coming x

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

A mended hand...

My hand has returned! woohoo! 
Well of course, it never left, but rather the use of it. And jeezy peeps....that old adage about not knowing what you have til it's gone.....Yep, I felt that full force.
I've vowed to make more of an effort and not over do the sewing. Easier said than done! Sewing and embroidery may be my 'job' but it's also my go-to place for pleasure. 
However 5 weeks of not sewing did lend itself to finding out other pursuits that I enjoy... I went for a world record breaking amount of walks, re-found pinterest, and re-aquainted myself with a paintbrush again. Oh and my bathroom got new wallpaper! :)
This time also provided the space for a few ideas to marinate...

I've been navigating the waters for safety testing and getting my woodland toy designs CE approved... it'll take some time. However mini soft sculptures are not toys, and as soon as my hand would allow , the marinated ideas began to take form...... 

Part of my 2016 plans/hopes are to add some soft sculpture sewing kits to the mix..... this may just be one of them. I'm a big bit smitten. Is this something you would enjoy stitching together? 

Poor deer though, she did have to go through some major abdominal surgery before making a full recovery..... it was touch and go for a while. eek!

I made a unicorn too....

No matter what I do, I always seem to make unicorn hair look like it belongs to the 90's and those mullet days..... I'm going with it! Bon Jovi rocked it, so can this little dudette!

A few other lovely things have also happened while my hand was laid up.
I did an interview over on My Giant Strawberry. Anne asks the most thoughtful and insightful questions and it was a real pleasure to do....you may want to grab a cuppa before heading over.
My stitchbook also got a feature in the latest edition of Uppercase magazine. This is a really highly regarded , independent publication with the mission to 'spark the imagination and inspire creativity'. It's a total honour to have something of mine included! You can view the full issue over here...it's a low res version but may be enough of a nudge to buy the real thing! My little half page is on Page 63! Yipee :)


Wednesday, 2 March 2016

A textile workshop...stitching memories.

I'm currently on an enforced break with carpal tunnel syndrome in my right hand. Sewing, drawing, writing, even typing this post sends my thumb and forearm into a strange mix of tingling/numbness/ache/ burning... and I have to stop.
The word 'pants' comes to mind! 
It's been a challenging couple of weeks, not being able to do anything creative. So today I want to focus on some lovely stitching...keep my mind on things to look forward to when my body decides it's ready...... (please be sooooon!!!)

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to do a little intimate workshop where we played with a transfer technique along with some embroidery to stitch up a little memory, using a personal photo and a mix of neutral fabrics and vintage linen.

I stitched a couple of 'sentimental stitching ' samples which I shared on my blog here and here.

I opted for a neutral colour theme for a few reasons. The main reason being that each person coming along was to send me a photo in advance so I could edit it and print it out for the day. Knowing that these photos would vary in quality and colour I reckoned turning all the images to black and white would help get the best transferred images.
This also helped reduce the amount of fabric to bring which was necessary as we were working in a small intimate studio space.
(Which is helpful as I've discovered from experience that it's impossible to cater for everyone's colour preferences! A limited palette means I don't have to worry about missing someone's preferred choice out.)
This also presents an opportunity to try something new and work outside the go-to colour choice. (never a bad thing me thinks!) 
Saying that however almost everyone managed to add in a little pop of colour!

Above are the ladies busy stitching away which you can tell by the glasses balanced on the end of noses . Love that :) 
Below are the beautiful pieces sewn on the day....

You can't tell from the photo, but the darker fabric was a gorgeous, sumptuous, deep purple velvet. It was inspired from the clothes that Kate remembers her Great Grandmother wearing, depicted in the photo on the right ...she lived to be over 100 years, and was quite a character by all accounts. Really like the variety of textures in this piece....sumptuous like the velvet.

This is Karen's work (below) in progress, with her Grandfather in his milking gear. A lot of time went into her beautiful stitches...I love the little white running stitches which contrast with the black lace.
And I love how the stitches follow the fabric shape and create a little arc. I'd like to see this piece when it's finished.

This is Sharon (below) as a young girl with her family, and some fantastic floral wallpaper in the background! I really enjoyed seeing the layers build on this piece and the addition of blue stitches and ribbon are such a great compliment to the tiny seed beads that were on the recycled lace.

Dorothy's photo was the most recent....a sweet embrace of her husband and son. She created a super composition, combining a mix of shapes and textures with fun pops of blue....feels quite reminiscent of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. 
All unique and gorgeous, I think you'll agree.

And while we are on the topic of these stitched memories,or 'sentimental stitching' as I like to refer to it,  one of the samples I created caught the eye of Amy who hosts Friday instagram finds for the popular sewing blog 'Feeling stitchy'. So some of my stitched bits and bobs got a wee feature....that made me smile :)

Hope all is good in your world...and if any one has the urge could you do a couple of stitches for me ;)xx

Monday, 22 February 2016

Where handmade toys meet the law.... is common sense enough?

I'm a bit later in writing a blog post, and it turns out i'm going to be writing about something I had never even considered until yesterday...

So you remember I shared my little dream about offering workshops to pregnant girls, and making some special soft toys? I wrote about it here.
Since then I've been looking for somewhere suitable to host the workshops but finding it tricky in this rural neck of the woods. 
Any how..never to be deterred, my calling to make the little woodland wonders continued and I have kept on stitching and refining, trying out different cotton fabrics and wool felt...and basically having a rare old time.
This is Luka... still very in tune with nature shown by the leafy details and mossy trousers, though he likes a little 'urban chic' too!

 As I stitched common sense told me that these toys would be too intricate for a baby/toddler, with potential choking hazards if any bits came loose....but I could see an older child (and my 7 year old demonstrated it well) incorporating the dolls into their wonderful world of imagination and play.

And so having already made 3 little dolls for my youngest, and gathering a growing collection on my shelf I felt the next step was to put these out into the world and offer them in my etsy shop. 
 Which is where it started to get interesting.......
As I chose the category toy/doll the words appeared:
Items in this category may be subject to legal and safety requirements.Learn more here.

There was a link which I clicked on, found the one relevant to the UK and started reading...
Basically it states what we all want..that toys for kids should be safe.
Yep to that.

It goes on to say that in the UK there are laws and standards which have been made to keep toys safe. Any children's toy being sold must have been assessed for safety and marked accordingly.(be it a machine produced teddy sold in large retail outlets, a handknitted animal by a Granny and sold at a craft fair or a handmade cloth doll being sold on etsy). I'm not sure about other countries but from the little I have read it seems the rules are just as stringent for everywhere else.

Eek! Gads.....
Ok. After a deep breath I read more to discover that this is actually do-able. Being a small business I can self certify my items and without much cost though it does requires a fair bit of time and effort (and experiments to test the toy you are selling..which might be quite fun for my 7 year old who is currently obsessed with 'experimenting'!). I am going to have to do this for any kids toys I sell and offer to make in the workshops.

This has also sent a spiral of questions running in my head...and effectively opened a can of worms....

Eva is a quiet and gentle soul, but don't be deceived by her sweet demeanour...she never suffers fools gladly.

The first thing is ...of all the toys I have bought over the last 16 years for my 2 girls I can't recall ever having questioned the safety of the items I have bought. Which has got me thinking as to the reason behind this intrinsic trust.... is it because the laws have been so robust and prevented me from ever getting my hands on a potentially threatening toy for my girls. Because of this I can rest on my 'every-toy-is-safe' laurels.
Or is it that knowing my own child's individual abilities and predilections, I've followed my own inner safety guide (along with that under-rated ability called common sense. hello?!) to steer me and my kids clear of danger?

Which leads me to the second question....what about all of the doll makers/soft toy makers which I have been drooling over on Instagram and etsy, who are making extremely beautiful items and also selling them very successfully.There are a LOT and they all sell toys designed specifically for children. Have they had their toys assessed for safety? There is nothing on the items description that suggests they are. 
Would I have ever considered what they sell unsafe before now? No.Definitely not.

Does this make it ok for me to join them, that I'm simply selling a handmade item not too dissimilar to what an aunt or gran would stitch and gift?
I'll be the devils advocate and say how dangerous can a cloth doll be?!

Grace loves to get spruced up and believes everyday is a good day to wear flowers. (she will happily get her hands dirty and dig up some soil but only once the fancy cowl is removed!)

When you are a self employed artist sitting stitching from your home studio or kitchen table fitting it in amongst the family and trying to eke out a living I can see how it is easy to feel that you're not running a 'proper business' , more of a hobby really...and I can also see how thoughts of legalities don't seem relevant....or are even considered.

Does it also make it wrong to be selling these dolls and toys, when it is assumed the buyer has to play some role of responsibiltiy ie. knowing what is age appropriate for their child. I have seen the disclaimer 'not suitable for under 3 years old' often on etsy shops. 

In the UK the law would say all of the above IS wrong. And so, I'm presuming from the fact that it is flagged up when you list a toy, would Etsy. I have disovered that in Scotland you could go to jail for 2 years for not assessing and marking your toy appropriately! And in the UK if a toy is considered appropriate for a 3 year old it is also deemed safe for use of a baby...which knocks that disclaimer out of the park. Though I'm no lawyer!


Much as I would like to bury my head in the sand and avoid any extra hassle, I know I have to follow through on this if I'm going to offer kids toys/patterns as part of my business.  I definitely do have mixed feelings about the over defensiveness that comes with any law (really loathed that part of Midwifery too.) And I do hate how it can turn the most innocent of things into something WRONG! 
I am also really curious as to how others who sell kids toys have grappled with the idea and what thought process lead to carrying on selling without doing any kind of test. Or maybe there was no thought at all...I mean up till yesterday I certainly hadn't.

I have listed the above deer dolls on etsy (shown in the photos) as decorative art dolls and unsuitable for children, because their safety has not been tested and assessed (though my 7 year old plays with them merrily and I am gifting something similar to my friend's daughter age 3).

I'd love to hear what your thoughts are....... how you buy items for children? Do you think handmade toys need safety tests?
Do you make toys and sell them? Have you had them safety tested?
Anyone better read up on this and can put me straight if I am wrong?
Is common sense not enough?!

UPDATE: found a great discussion on this topic by Abby Glassenberg. Although it is based on USA law, she talks with a Product Safety and Compliance officer and make things sound a little less overwhelming!