Sunday 31 March 2013

Happy Easter Cross Stitch

I've never really done a big cross stitch project but I like doing these little ones. Didn't take too long and I wanted to give Hubby B something flower related due to his gardening obsession :) 

Here is a little pic to wish you all Happy Easter as well.
I hope you are all having a lovely long weekend and enjoying Easter in whichever way suits you and your families. 

Mrs Crafty B

More Crocheted Easter Chicks

You may remember this little guy from a blog post last Easter.
This was my first none stuffed prototype which I left empty to hide a little gift. I made some for family and sent them for Easter gifts and kept this one for Baby B. This one was crocheted using acrylic yarn and so this year I decided to make another one from 4ply cotton yarn. 

Here they are together. Baby B has been playing with them this morning. Can you guess what they are hiding?
 Obviously is was a Cadbury's Creme Egg! It's really hard not to eat the egg whilst using it for a guide!
I hope you enjoy my little chicks :). Perhaps if I start now I'll have a family of them for next year!

Mrs Crafty B

Saturday 30 March 2013

Decoupage Easter Eggs

Here is a bit more Easter Crafting for you. I have labelled this as crafts for children because it is so simple and easy to do and I know that you can get some fab little models in Hobbycraft etc for doing decoupage.

Ok, confession time: 
I actually bought these eggs last Easter, but you know me, I never got round to finishing them. Actually, starting them. I never got round to starting them! Eek. That is actually terrible considering these took me two hours in total on Good Friday!

Ok so step one, get a cup of tea. I then tore all of my tissue papers up first and place them in little tubs. I did buy some lovely Decopatch papers but before I used them, I coated the eggs with some cheap tissue papers in co-ordinating colours. They weren't colour fast and I can see why people spend out on quality papers but I wanted to make sure that if the Decopatch papers turned out through, I didn't get the brown egg colour. 

I needn't have worried. I used one layer of Decopatch papers on each half  and had loads left. Only the little one had some light colours on the pattern through which you could see the purple tissue paper. 

Despite a LOT of research into the best glue for the job, and whether it was worth spending out on 'special decoupage' glue, I just used general cheap clear PVA and it did the job for something that isn't being handled a lot. There were so many conflicting opinions on the net and I figured trial and error would be the best way to find out. I would probably use something a bit better with a sealing agent in it if I was doing more decoupage, especially if it was something being handled a lot like a keyring. Lets face it, I probably will do some more at some point! So quick, easy and effective.

Overall, some lessons learned and a discovery of a very easy and adaptable craft. Yey :-)

I'll leave you with a few pictures of the process, the finished products and a picture of them on display in my kitchen/diner.

Mrs Crafty B

p.s. Please have sympathy for my one eared sheep :-(

Thursday 28 March 2013

Hanging Easter Eggs

This afternoon Baby B and friends helped get us all in the Easter mood. As they are a bit young for egg painting (think cracked eggs once they've been dropped) I thought maybe some egg shaped cereal box cut outs, some paint, glue and different bits of tissue paper would go down well.

I was right. Messy, but enjoyed.

I helped out a bit. I cut out the egg shapes, provided bowls of tissue papers in little bits, strips and scrunched up balls and I gave the egg shapes a first coat of silver paint.

Away they went! They each made one large egg and three little ones whoch i strung together. As you can imagine, I couldn't take pictures during our activity but here are some before and after pics :)

Mrs Crafty B

Wednesday 27 March 2013

A Guide to Crochet: Casting on with a slip knot

Now you have your yarn and your hook as shown in the introduction, we can take a look at how to cast on using a slip knot. This will form the start of your chain from which your work will grow. Don't worry, we are going to take it one step at a time.

Slip Knot
There are many pictures and videos on the internet which show different ways of doing it. I have provided pictures with the yarn laid out on its own and in context in my hands to demonstrate it in different ways depending on your preference.

Here is the yarn on its own.

And here it is in my hands 

Once you have pulled the yarn through the loop on your finger, pull the yarn tight but not too tight. You will need to pull the hook back through when we start chaining.

Up next, how to make your foundation chain for crocheting in rows.

Mrs Crafty B

Tuesday 26 March 2013

Meet the Maker: Mitali Peckham of Baby Treasures

In September 2012, I held a crafts fair to raise money for the Rosie Hospital at Addenbrookes in Cambridge. One of the stall holders, Mitali, was happy to take part in 'Meet the Maker.' Here is what she is sharing with us.
Firstly, two very important questions.

Tea or coffee?
Tea – without milk, actually just hot water with a tea bag briefly dunked in.

Biscuit or cake? 
Jaffa cakes – somewhere in the middle!

So, tell us a bit about yourself. 
My name is Mitali Peckham and when I am not busy with my four wonderful children I run my business called Baby Treasures – a unique collection of handmade personalised gifts for babies and children. My children all go to school in Cambridge and I am a parent governor at one school and work as a learning mentor at another. There is occasionally time to do the hoovering and hang the washing out!

...and what about the item that you are sharing with us? 
Baby Treasures signature design – my washable fabric photo books. Customers send me a selection of photographs which are special for their little one and captions to go alongside each photograph and I create a child-friendly photo book for them. The photos and captions are printed onto fabric and then pages are sewn together with fleece lining in the middle. When the pages are finished they are then sewn together to produce the book. It was really important to me that the book had a soft, cuddly feel to it so that it would be appealing to little ones and I also spent a long time sourcing the perfect fabric which I could print on and which would be washable. I wanted the books to at least be washable by hand so that their owners can enjoy browsing through them without anyone feeling stressed if they need cleaning. I started making photo books a little bit like this when my eldest child was very young – he (like all babies & young children, I think) loved looking at photos of himself and his family / friends and most especially photographs which included him in photos of his loved ones. Originally I made family photo albums and then the concept extended to fabric books telling my children’s life stories. What I enjoy enormously about making photo books for other people is seeing how they use the idea to create such imaginative little books – some people include photos of family who live abroad so their child can feel close to them, some people document a particular special event like the arrival of a sibling or a birthday and some people just include pictures of objects / places which are important to their child. Someone has approached me recently about creating a fabric book which tells a story they have made up for their child which I think sounds wonderful. I like my photo books for being an unusual way of sharing photographs with children – there are so many similar products which work in the adult world but not any that are child-friendly. But most of all I like that every photo book I make is important to the child it is made for because it is made especially for them.

How long have you been sewing and how did you learn? 
I suppose my Mum taught me really - she helped me make clothes etc. when I was a teenager but I think I started creating more things when I began teaching and wanted to design my own resources to support various classroom activities. Once I had my own children I made them no end of things – cuddly toys / story sacks from their favourite stories, books from their curtain material, Christmas stockings large enough for them to fit into etc. which I made up as I went along really!

When did you start Baby Treasures and why? 
I began selling my designs formally a couple of years ago – lots of friends had encouraged me in the past to go into business selling some of the things I’d made for my own children and I’d always wanted to have a go. I also think it is lovely for little children to be able to enjoy photos in a format which is child-friendly so I wanted to make the concept available to other little children as well as my own.

What inspires and motivates you? 
I love the idea of little babies and children being surrounded by objects which are very meaningful to them and make them feel cosy & loved and I’m inspired by knowing how much my own children loved the things I made them. Motivation is easy to come by when customers come back with stories about how their little one carries their photo book with them everywhere they go or can’t sleep without their comfort blanket I have made ☺

Any crafting heroes? 
More business heroes really, a range of people who have managed to take the seed of an idea that was precious to them and turn it into a reality that other people want to buy into. For example? Julie Deane of the Cambridge Satchel Company or Sophie Cornish & Holly Tucker of Not on the High Street.

Do you have a crafting space? 
I work in my kitchen at my beautiful large granite island! In an ideal world I would love a room to work in but we couldn’t manage that so instead we installed a large island which doubles as a cutting table and there is enough room to cook one side, do homework at another side and I can still carry on working. There are cupboards with all my stock and equipment underneath so even though I can’t leave everything out all the time, everything is still very easy to access.

Any big plans for 2013? 
To work on the next stage of my patent application for my photo books – its been a great learning curve as I have no experience in this field but I am keen to lay my claim to my concept if I can!!

So can we join you in your virtual world? 
Please do! Visit where you can design your own fabric photo book by uploading your photos and text and choosing the colour of the text and the hanging ribbon. Or go to

Here are some quick fire questions that we are dying to know the answers to.

Favourite colour? 
Duck egg blue / turquoise – my turquoise coat makes it easy for the children to find me in the playground!

The best season? 
Summer – light evenings, kids playing in the garden, no need to wear gloves .... need I say more?

Your favourite food? 
My parents’ curries

The best day of the week? 
Saturday - when I don’t have to rush around 4 schools to drop off the kids and can have a lie in!

What is the best word? 
Unity (in diversity) – if everyone in the world truly tried to uphold this principle & work together while respecting others’ differences & opinions, the world would be a better place ☺

Favourite place?
Sitting in front of our fire snuggled up with the family

Your biggest achievement? 
My children ☺

Since Baby B was born, I have been wondering how to make a child friendly photo album, resorting to pockets inside felt pages but this is a fab idea. A big thanks for Mitali for taking the time to answer these questions and allowing us to be a bit nosy. I loved the answer the 'What is the best word' as I feel the same way

Mrs Crafty B

Friday 22 March 2013

A Thank You Blog Post

As I am writing up some blog posts featuring some crochet tutorials, the thought crossed my mind of how to say thank you to someone who helped me out.

Last year I developed a set of crochet instructions based on what I couldn't find on the internet. I wanted to publish these but as I used them alongside demonstrations, I didn't know how use friendly they would be. I asked my Twitter followers if anyone would like to try them out. @VirtualRhia stepped up and offered to look at them as she has just started out in the world of crochet. She offered some great feedback and I really appreciate the time she took.

I hope you like my tutorials Rhia :-)

You can visit Rhia at

Mrs Crafty B

Thursday 21 March 2013

A Guide to Crochet: Introduction

Welcome to the start of my crochet tutorials!

I hope to provide an easy to follow, step by step guide, trouble shooting difficulties that I know some people have including reading patterns. Let's start with a little intro to your new hobby.

Crochet is the French word for 'hook.' Lots and lots of people enjoy the craft of crochet which is the art of using a single 'crochet hook' and some form of thread, yarn or wire in order to create pieces of work. These might include toys, brooches, clothes and blankets. There is no limit to the uses of crochet and we will delve further into uses later on. Here are a couple of things that I have crocheted. You can see more in this Facebook photo album.
Although crochet is extremely popular today, there is much debate around when and where it started. The first thing to consider is what you need. Aside from my crochet tutorials, you will need some form of yarn and a hook. Hooks come in many different sizes, materials and some are double ended. Here are a few of my hooks.
You can find hooks all over the internet or local haberdashery stores or departments. Here is a link to one such place. Don't rush to buy your hook yet though. First choose your yarn. The size of your yarn will decide what size hook you will need and to make this easy, most yarns will say on the label what size hook is required or recommended. You need to consider what kind of yarn is best for the project you are working on i.e. acrylic, cotton, wool. We will revisit this later. For now, any patterns you are following should state what type of yarn and what size hook you will need. For purposes of these tutorials, I am using a 4ply crochet cotton and a 3mm crochet hook. Here is a link to the cotton that I am using.

So go ahead and get your ball of cotton and hook and I'll see you back here for your first steps to crochet.

Mrs Crafty B

Tuesday 19 March 2013

Meet the Maker: Lucy Burrows of Rough Type

When I saw that a friend from university had opened her very own Etsy store, I couldn't wait to get her to do a meet the maker interview. Please make sure you check out her virtual world. It's most definitely worth a look. 
Firstly, two very important questions.

Tea or coffee?
Coffee. But only one a day. White with a dash of sugar as a treat. Once my quota is up I go onto fruit or green tea.

Biscuit or cake? 
A biscuit. Not really into either but if I had to it would be a Party Ring or a Hob Nob.

Tell us all about you.
My name is Lucy and I’m from a town just outside of York. By day I am an Estate Agent for a family run rural agency. By night and by weekend, other than when I'm out dancing, drinking something fizzy, out with the dog and generally enjoying what life throws at me, I paint, print and make things. I set up a creative small business at the end of 2012 called Rough Type. The aim is to try and sell my art work and expand and hopefully do well. My main thing is typography and word art but I have been known to dabble in other bits and bobs like photography and painting in general. Alongside my online shop on Etsy, I also set up a blog called tangerine trees and marmalade skies. On this I discuss my work, what I've been up to and general arty, fashiony, photography related things I've seen and heard about.

What about the item that you are sharing with us? 
The item I am sharing is my first piece, kind of like my classic design. It was this piece that sparked rough type as so many people saw it in my kitchen and said I should try and sell the idea. Its basically a collection of words and names, unique to the individual, jumbled up with other letters. So at first glace it appears to be nonsense. This particular one was the first one I did and it was for my husband and myself for our kitchen. I discuss with the client what they want, words, ideas, colours, size etc and take it from there. It is hand printed using sponge stamps with paint that can be acrylic, emusion, water colour whatever. All depends on getting the right colours and texture. I like art where you can feel something and every piece is unique. This idea then spawned into song lyrics from someone’s first dance, words related to someone’s year of birth. The possibilities are endless.

How long have you been painting and how did you learn? 
I studied art at school and college, mainly painting and the usuals; but I was always drawn to colour and abstract work. In college I discovered illustration and my tutors liked my untidy, scrappy writing so encouraged me to put words alongside my work. I also developed a love of photography and started to explore type over photographs. A change of heart led me to University and to a different discipline (Linguistics, still word related…) and the art dried up unfortunately. After I moved back to the York area and got settled I started to paint again for friends and family and as time has gone on I’ve made more time for it again. I got married last year and finished doing up my house so winter 2012 seemed like the obvious time to start rough type. 

When did you start Rough Type and why? 
I started rough type in winter 2012 to try and sell my work and my ideas. Its very basic at the moment, just 3 types of work for sale but I'm working on a range of cards and also debating selling some prints as a side line.

What inspires and motivates you?
It sounds cheesy and obvious…but everything! I’m really lucky in that I have a big thirst for life and I am, by nature, a very positive person. I love the simple things in life like sunny days, walks with the dog and a good song on the radio. I get inspiration from lots of things in everyday life, but my attention is grabbed by font, art, fashion and old buildings. I take photos of everything as well. What motivates me to work is the thought that one day I may be able to do this, and only this. If I work hard and just crack it.

Any crafting heroes? 
My heroes range from Freddie Mercury and Dolly Parton to Coco Chanel & Marc Jacobs. All creative walks of life. No real crafting heroes…ooops. But from an art point of view it has to be Jackson Pollock.

Do you have a crafting space?
We have a study and I have a big glass desk (I always dreamed of having one) with a collection of Vogues from 2007 onwards, boxes of ideas and inspirations and photographs on. On the wall I have a pin board with cards and pictures on too. And you don’t want to see what’s underneath (everything…paint, card, brushes and an old tv.) This summer however my creative space will be changed into a nursery for our first baby. So my art life will be moved into several boxes which will live under the spare bed and when I've had a couple of weeks off the kitchen table will become my space.

Any big plans for 2013? 
Personally, baby is my number one big plan! Along with spending as much time with my lovely husband. Work wise, Im going to keep painting and printing as much as I can, launch my card range and start trying to spread the word a little more locally. I’m all about supporting local businesses and I am lucky enough to live in a market town where everyone else feels the same so I would like to get some other businesses to promote and support me too.

So can we join you in your virtual world?
You can find rough type on:

Facebook page: rough type
And my personal/ work Twitter: ilovelucyv
And personal/ work Instagram: tagerinetreesandmarmaladesky

Finally, some quick fire questions that we are dying to know the answers to.

Favourite colour?

The best season? 
Autumn. Although I'm a sucker for spring and the flowers and blossom.

Your favourite food? 
Pizza and garlic bread.

The best day of the week? 

What is the best word? 
Don’t have one!

Favourite place?
If I could be anywhere again it would be on the beach in Malibu with my husband. I left a big piece of my heart there. A little bit of my heart also lives in the Dordogne area of France where I spent my summer’s as a child, there’s a piece of it in Hull where I was born and all my family still live and a bit on the cliffs next to St Mary’s Church in Whitby, one of my favourite places in the UK.

Your biggest achievement? 
I don’t have one in particular. Sometimes I pinch myself when I realise what I have and what I’ve done though. I’m one lucky girl.

I can't wait to have a long awaited catch up with Miss Lucy but I will make sure I stay updated with her Rough Type venture.

Mrs Crafty B

Tuesday 12 March 2013

Craft Therapy

This morning I have been thinking about craft as therapy. This has been prompted by a family member I saw at the weekend.

Most crafters will say that their hobbies are a 'time out', time for themselves, an escape from the stresses of work etc and some will say that they use craft to keep them out from under a dark cloud but how aware are we of how creative therapy is used to help with mental health issues such as schizophrenia?

For as long as I can remember, a member of my family has lived with schizophrenia and for as long as I can remember, that person has painted. I used to sit with them playing with water colours as a young girl. At that age, I was never aware of any mental health issues. As I got older, I am aware that this person used to go to woodwork group therapy sessions and it was only last year, when I caught up with them that I realised how much art therapy played a part in their lives.

This person isn't one for small talk but upon asking about some books that I noticed, I could not shut them up! I was then shown some sketches that brought a tear to my eye. I was told how these particular sketches were representative of certain parts of their mind and the personification was thought provoking. I am now more aware of how how art therapy plays a part in their treatment and the fact that it is available on the NHS as readily as drugs is surely testament to the benefits of arts and crafts and the positive effect it can have on mental health. The craft aspect aside, group therapies promote positive social interaction in a relaxed controlled environment.

Mental health aside, a creative outlet for everyone must be of benefit. I am constantly reading about child development on a physical and cognitive level and the effects of arts and crafts and I heavily promote this is my household.

Next time I refer to my Monday night craft group as my chance to socialise, have some time to myself and craft, I will surely be thinking about the HUGE effect that this concept must have on some people's lives. I would love to hear about your thought on this subject.

I guess crafting really IS the bee's knees!!

Mrs Crafty B

Friday 8 March 2013

Tea, Crafts and Babies

I thought it was about time I made time to write a little something for you all.

A dense fog has descended outside and its not filling me with much motivation to continue with the housework. So here I am, cup of tea in hand and two choccy biscuits at the ready. Anyone who knows me personally will know that my drinking this tea is a bit of a revelation at the moment and anyone who sees my regular tea ranting online may be surprised to hear that this is one of the first cups of tea that I have had since Christmas. So why have I put my love of tea drinking on hold for so long I hear you ask. Don't worry, I'm not on some anti-tea diet. I am indeed expecting another baby.

Whilst I was pregnant with Baby B, (and in my second pregnancy which sadly ended in a miscarriage last september) I went right off tea for the first few months. I can't explain it, especially as I love it so much. I also suffered with pregnancy sickness in my first two pregnancies but nothing like this time around, hence my absence explained by me as my 'feeling a bit under the weather.' I was actually suffering from very bad pregnancy sickness. I was so scared of sounding like a wimp or being judged by my doctor that I went 9 days without keeping anything down before Hubby B picked up on the situation and marched me to the GP! I had a near miss with being admitted to hospital and soon got back on my feet with meds. This week has seen me perk up dramatically and I'm in the 'enjoying pregnancy' stage. Woo hoo!

So, having told my tale and updating you on my world of crazy, let me update you on my world of craft. I haven't really done much in the way of crafting since Christmas. A few little bits here and there and I have missed a few craft evenings with the ladies but my Christmas present (a Sissix big shot) is ready and waiting for some paper craft mania. As its my birthday AND mothers day this weekend, I have already received a new die to play with. It was given to me by Hubby B and Baby B this morning. I  am also still keen to learn needle felting this year so they are main focus but I still have little projects going on all over the place. I think for my next post I may let you have a little nosy in my crafts bag. What do you reckon?

I hope to be able to blog about project specifics soon with tutorials but until then please stick with me in my desperation to craft a daydream. I really will get there. I need a kick up the bum. Anyone?

Mrs Crafty B

Tuesday 5 March 2013

Meet the Maker: Vicky Brown of This is Lullaby

How cute is this little number? It kind of makes you want to see more of same doesn't it? I think we should meet the maker and find out where we can see more.