Ahoy me hearties!

Just at the moment it is a bit of a struggle fitting everything in to the day. All things I enjoy, but I am being pulled in so many different directions….having to ration cups of tea with friends at the moment as I just don’t have time. If that means you, I am really sorry!

Anyway, I am trying to organise my days so I can fit in a wee bit of sewing first thing, followed by paperwork and by lunch time make sure I am stripping wallpaper in the front bedroom.

There are some achievements from my efforts, for example my very organised fabric stash (I won’t show you my haberdashery and art supplies drawers, as a lady should not post photos of her drawers!)

paper boat and bugs - 09
workroom/dining room all tidied up

I have cleared out a load of craft books and magazines I am hoping the WI ladies will take away with them at the next Crafty Night In and made some shelf space. However, there is one spot I am going to have to leave empty for Max the cat!

cat on a shelf
cat on a shelf

In addition, yesterday I had one of those wonderful days when you get to realise a project you had only ever seen in your mind. I popped in to the Plush Addict website to get some more linen look cotton (great for book bags) and stumbled across some fabric with a newspaper print. It called to me…“Sue, Sue, buy me and turn me in to a paper boat made from fabric..!”. Yesterday I did just that.

I made a paper version first to get the right size rectangle to start with and used it as a pattern (plus seam allowance) to cut two pieces of the fabric and one of interfacing. Ironed the interfacing to one of the fabric pieces then sewed the two fabric pieces right sides together, turned it inside out, ironed it and top stitched around the outside. Then I just made up the paper boat, ironing at every stage and hand sewing a few stages to help it keep it’s shape. I know I should be modest, but I confess I am a wee bit chuffed at how it turned out!

paper boat and bugs - 11
‘paper’ boat
paper boat and bugs - 10
ship ahoy!

In addition, last week I had a short telephone interview about crafting and well-being; the way having something to create and to focus on helps deal with anxiety and depression. It is all the more pertinent with the sad news of Robin Williams’ suicide. I am very fortunate and haven’t had much trouble at all with anxiety or depression over the last couple of years, but I am aware of how it lurks in the shadows looking for an opportunity to creep back. One of the reasons I wanted to do the interview is that I believe we should talk about how we feel. Anxiety and depression are not signs of failure, just of being human, and talking about it helps us know we are not alone and that there is always the choice to keep on living…the darkness will pass. It is so sad that the world has lost someone who brought so much to people’s lives through his work.

As the interview was by telephone I had to provide a photo...a selfie of me and my sewing machine.
As the interview was by telephone I had to provide a photo…a selfie of me and my sewing machine.

fame…?

As featured in Making Magazine!

I mentioned before that I entered my Dalek pincushions in the Monday Make competition run by Making magazine’s Facebook page and won – I received a lovely book and was asked if they could include my pincushions in a column in the magazine. However, I realised I didn’t share with you what was printed in the current issue!

Making magazine
Making magazine
ooh look! my pincushions in print!
ooh look! my pincushions in print!

I had already taken out a subscription to the magazine. Having decided only to allow myself one crafting magazine, I checked out as many as I could find before committing to a subscription and liked Making best.

Liebster award

liebster

As if having my work in print were not enough, lovely Tessa at Life and Loveliness nominated my blog for a Liebster award! now this is not without work as it comes with tasks:

The liebster award is given to bloggers with less than 200 followers who are up-and-coming in the blogosphere and involves answering 10 questions from the person who nominated you, nominating 10 blogs yourself and setting them 10 questions.

1. why do you blog?

This ought to be an easy question, but it is actually a bit complicated. I started my old blog when I decided that when I eventually got my redundancy I would have a go at working for myself, and everyone said you need a blog to get yourself known. However, when I started writing I found it really therapeutic and thoroughly enjoyed writing and sharing photos. I found myself wittering away about not only crafts, but lots of National Trust gardens and tea shops and the cats and the birds in the garden. To the point that when I actually started my business, I felt the crafting side was overshadowed by witter and photos and thought I should make it more professional. I now find it very hard to find the right balance. I allowed myself Deere Diary to witter away and bore people with my photos and try to make this blog more about about my sewing and other crafts. I find I write less, and I miss the writing/wittering.

2. what is your favorite song and why?

I think probably Joni Mitchell’s ‘A Case of You’, but tomorrow I might give a different answer.

3. describe yourself in three words.

I have pondered this all day, so asked Mark what he would say and he said ‘caring. creative. knackered’ – actually I think that’s about right.

4. who is the one person that can always make you smile?

Mark.

5. describe your idea of a perfect day.

Breakfast out (Bea’s Vintage Tearooms, the Pump Room or the Roscoff Deli in Bath or the Watch House cafe in West Bay), a long lazy walk around a garden or woodland (perhaps Lytes Cary, Westonbirt Arboretum or the Abbotsbury sub-tropical gardens), afternoon tea, then home to snuggle up on the sofa and watch a film…oh yes, I am a real wild child!

6. if you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?

I would like to travel around Scandinavia and visit friends in Sweden, Denmark and Norway.

7. where do you find inspiration in life?

Everywhere. Really, I am inspired by people I meet, flora and fauna around me, patches of sunlight, pieces of music, scents, textures – most of the time I think life and the world around me is amazing.

8. if you could spend a day with one person, living or dead, who would it be and why?

My dad. I miss him.

9. what would you like to be remembered for?

Being kind.

10. have you ever experienced a turning point in your life? if so, what caused it, and what have you learned from it?

I guess being made redundant last year. It was very welcome and allowed me to try something entirely new without having to panic about money (of course Mark helps with that too). I think I have learnt that sometimes you just have to have a go and see what happens; not everything can be controlled and the things you didn’t expect/plan could well be the best things.

Is that ok Tessa? Now for my nominations. I have to be honest, quite a few of my favourite blogs have more than 200 followers and some I am struggling to see how many followers they have, but here are my less well known favourites (apologies if some have more than 200 followers – they all deserve thousands of followers):

Vastgotaspets och tradgard

scrapiana

lizzie lenard-vintagesewing

quiltar och silver

dreimalkunst

a good year

stokes croft stitching

Here is where I ran out of blogs that I already follow and that I think do not have too many followers (although I am not sure about a couple of them as they are just so good, they may well have more than 200 – but I can’t see a number on their blogs). I decided that, as this award is intended to help people discover new blogs, I should go looking. I found these I liked so much I will follow them:

Rare English Rose

Little House on the Dairy

Toasty

I almost forgot my questions for the bloggers I nominated!

1. why do you blog?

2. what is your greatest ambition?

3. who inspires you?

4. if you could swap places with anyone, who would it be?

5. if the world was set to blow up three weeks on Tuesday, what would you want to do with your remaining time?

6. what is your greatest fear?

7. which five people (alive now or magically brought back to life) would you choose to join you for afternoon tea at the Ritz?

8. what advice would you give your younger self?

9. what do you want to be doing this time next year?

10. what is you favourite food?

 

 

 

Bath photos

On Tuesday, the forecast was for sunshine – a rare commodity these days – so I decided I would take it as an inspiration day, take my camera and walk in to town. It was the most beautiful morning, although the pavements were like ice-rinks with frost, and I got a little carried away. Here are a few of my favourite photos from the day and there are more in Deere Diary if you are interested.

a few of my favourite things…makers, suppliers and bloggers

I usually have a list of New Year’s resolutions as long as my arm, but this year I am resolving to let go of the lists. At least the ones at the beginning of the year – at the end of the year perhaps I will make a list of all I have achieved rather than berating myself for the things not ticked off. Mind you there was one or two things I did decide to do:

1) restring my guitar

2) move my focus outward

Now here I can polish my halo with number 1), as I did restring my guitar on New Year’s Day. The top E broke at least 18 months ago and I do not want another year of not playing the guitar. I play classical guitar (although can sometimes be found singing Ralph McTell or now, thanks to a Christmas present from Mark’s parents, accompanying myself as I sing from the Les Miserables songbook), but I am self-taught and very amateur, however it never fails to calm and energise me.

Number 2) is a bit less specific, but I am aware that I do tend to focus on myself. I want to worry less about what others think of me, about whether I say something stupid (the more I focus on that one the more likely I am actually to say something stupid so it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy). I want to listen better to others’ conversation rather than miss the point because I am trying to think of something to say (that won’t make me look stupid!). It would be rather foolish not to talk in my craft blog about the things I make, but it doesn’t only need to be about me. I just need to accept who I am, go with the flow a bit more and make the most of the fascinating people in my life. Since I set sail on this artisan adventure I have discovered so many interesting, talented and really nice people, along with suppliers who have a real eye for fabric, haberdashery and the like and who offer a really high level of customer service, not to mention bloggers who’s creativity is matched only by their eloquence. There is more than I can fit in to a single post, but I would like to make a start…

Makers (and teachers):

Lilla Lotta: a wonderful illustrator who reproduces some of her work on cotton tape. Her shop is closed for a little while, but you can see some of her work on her facebook page.

Mister Finch: this chap makes totally awesome over-sized moths, toadstools and other pieces, often from vintage pieces of embroidered textiles. He has a following almost as big as his imagination.

Very Berry Handmade: an amazing lady who not only makes beautiful pieces and sells Liberty fabrics (including pre-cut in to hexagons for paper piecing) but is also generous enough to share tutorials so others can make their own pieces. She also organised the artist trading card swap I took part in, which introduced me to a lot more oh so talented people!

Scrapiana: I am not sure where to put Scrapiana as she is so multi-talented. She has taught a couple of workshops for the Bath WI and generously shares her knowledge about mending and darning and also sells sewing bits and pieces and some vintage pieces…I think of her as the teapot temptress!

Jo Lucksted: brilliant local ceramacist; I have bought buttons from her but drool longingly over her bowls and hanging planters too (and that daisy necklace that has been in my favourites for so long). She also has a vintage shop ‘the love fleas’ where I bought a vintage flower press that I totally love.

Sewn by Sam: a textile artist who creates the most beautiful fabric and embroidery pictures. I stumbled upon her page when Mister Finch encouraged people to post links to their own work on his facebook page – see what I mean; crafters/artisans/artists are lovely people!

Rebbecca Bourne Textile Artist: as I type this I am looking at a framed card I won from Rebecca in a giveaway; a sewing machine and cotton reels surrounded by cheerful bunting. She combines free-motion embroidery with paint (along with a good dose of imagination and more than a pinch of humour).

Printmeneer: quirky and unusual cookie cutters; I couldn’t resist the Mr Darcy and Lizzie Bennett cutters along with some clouds…and I just spotted Alice in Wonderland ones!

Handmade and Heritage: I love this handprinted wrapping paper and tags; particularly the bird prints. I used it to line my vintage suitcase.

Stokes Croft Stitching: I was lucky enough to receive an amazing artist trading card from Marie as part of the very berry handmade ATC swap and have since been admiring her work in her blog – I am not sure whether she belongs here or under blogging, but as she is a wonderful maker I decided to put her here.

Sally Prendergast Art: beautiful little paintings, mainly of bunnies….so cute!

Tuliya: very reasonably priced, beautiful gold earrings – never make my ears sore, so I have gone back to buy more.

Betz White: great sewing tutorials – really professional stuff.

Suppliers:

Cloud Craft: suppliers of fantastic felt (I don’t buy felt anywhere else now) and trimmings, run by a lovely lady who always ships really quickly and offers excellent customer service.

Plush Addict: great selection of fabrics, including fleece and brushed cotton and waterproof (they usually include a lollipop in the order too so even Mark likes this supplier, as he get the lolly). Particularly useful as they include EN71 info for toy makers.

Cotton patch: excellent selection of fabrics and quilting/sewing supplies.

Viva la Frida: brilliant bright oilcloths and vinyl fabrics – a total ray of sunshine on a grey day (and they provide advice on working with oilcloth).

Quilt Backs UK: really good value extra wide fabric.

For anyone in the Bath area, I also love to hang out at  Wool and Country Threads and Sew ‘n’ Sew (Bath Guild Hall Market) in Bath and Midsomer Quilting in Chilcompton.

 

Bloggers:

Many of the makers and suppliers above also have excellent blogs, but here are some additional blogs I follow.

vastgotaspets och tradgard: two points here; firstly I have to confess a bias as this blog is written by one of my closest friends (although sadly not so close geographically) and secondly it is written mainly in Swedish. I do not speak Swedish but find that Google-translate adds an extra element of enjoyment to the blog, as the translation is often…interesting. The blog is full of beautiful photos, crafts, garden stuff and of course a very handsome Swedish Vallhund called Hampus. It is written with wit and intelligence and brightens my day – so please don’t be put off by it being in Swedish!

Knitsofacto: again beautiful photos and crafts and written with insight and eloquence. My learning to crochet was due almost as much to yarn envy created by Knitsofacto as to the Bath WI #craftynightout where ‘Wool” in Bath took us on those first steps to getting hooked (now I just need to learn to knit!).

Lizzie Lenard – Vintage Sewing: I discovered Muv’s blog when trying to find out more about the 1907 sewing machine I picked up in a Dorset antique/junk shop – really useful tutorials on maintaining and using vintage sewing machines. She also is another talented photographer and her free motion quilting is amazing…a very talented lady, who is so generous with her knowledge.

Quiltar och Silver: another Swedish blog (also written by one of my friends) – some of the most beautiful quilts I have ever seen and jewellery that deserves to be shown off in the best boutique jewellery shops.

Butcher, Baker: gorgeous blog, predominantly baking and cookery-based – one of those ones where the writer feels instantly like an old friend.

There are many more makers. suppliers and bloggers I admire, but I am going to stop now so I have some to share later in the year. If you know of (or are yourself) a maker, supplier or blogger please do add a comment with a link to your site, as I would love to have a look!