Saturday, 14 November 2009

New vintage venture!

Yes, I'm still alive!!! I cannot believe just how long it's been since I've blogged ... life feels to have whizzed on apace recently and left me in its wake. Hopefully I'm getting back on an even keel now, fingers crossed...

And I am totally amazed and thrilled to find that in so many months I haven't lost any followers, you are all wonderful!!

Well, for better or for worse, I've gone mad and opened a second shop on Etsy:

The jewellery category on Etsy is very full and I figured it may be a good idea all round to open another shop in a less saturated category.

We have a ton of broken old books, relics of the days when Roger was bulk buying them to re-sell on FeeBay. They're not re-bindable as each one has some pages damaged beyond repair and some missing altogether. And obviously I check that none of them are at all rare, either.

So I've decided to de-construct them and offer them for sale in the Etsy vintage section for all the altered art/collage/decoupage artists and scrapbookers out there who I fondly imagine are waiting to snap them up.

De-constructing books is actually great fun! Even though, as a part time librarian, I should be considering it a crime... (Having tackled my oldest item, a very battered dictionary, I can confirm that 18th century bookbinding string was pretty tough stuff!)

At the moment I just have a few variety packs of whole pages listed, plus some cut outs from colour plates that came from an equally battered 1869 edition of Mrs Beeton.

The Mrs Beeton illustrations and recipes are amazing - lamb cutlets with green peas sounds very appetizing but I'm not at all sure about calf's ears a la financiere?! I've some more to list and they include some positively architectural desserts. The lengths people went to to make even simple food look elaborate in Victorian times were amazing.

If there's any of you out there who have a fancy for vintage and would like to offer any suggestions I'd be deeply grateful. I did post on the Etsy forums a few times and got some good hints but any further thoughts will be very welcome indeed - thanks!

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Not drowning but waving - oink, oink?

Well, here I am after what has felt like an eternity away from blogging, managing to stay afloat now and even wave at everyone. And I'm looking forward to catching up with all my tags and awards, this all looks great fun, thanks folks for choosing me!! In the interim here's a bit about what's been going on.....

My first reason for being absent is that I spent most of June sinking a huge amount of effort into my shops, not all of which is apparent as yet because there are still lots of photos to replace and titles and descriptions to tweak and new items to list. (Well, to be more precise the Folksy shop's pretty much been "done" but there's still a way to go with the Etsy shop.)

My second reason is that four weeks ago I succumbed to an extremely unpleasant virus which with the benefit of hindsight and the input of our practise nurse I now realise was very possibly swine flu. I certainly didn't clock it as such at the time, especially as it started with what I put down to being a combination of asthma and a panic attack. Over the next week I experienced diarrhoea such as I've never had before and a fever that took a couple of days to subside, plus a cough, chest pains, nausea and resulting total lack of appetite, aching in every limb and a seriously nasty headache. I also felt (still do, to a certain extent) totally and absolutely exhausted. I still didn't twig what it might be, though, until I spoke to our practise nurse about it this week, when I went to get a new peak flow meter to replace the one that fell apart on me.

I think I was thinking "I don't have a sore throat so it can't be swine flu!" And of course it may not have been swine flu, only a blood test would tell and that's not going to happen! But I literally felt so ill, particularly when I had the fever, that I thought I was dying. I can still remember the shock when I first took my temperature and the seriously unpleasant feeling of lying in bed and feeling perspiration running all over me.

I went to the doctor after the asthma/panic attack but before the other symptoms appeared and then again when I was feeling better but both times we spoke more about my concerns regarding my wildly fluctuating blood sugar levels and how best to manage my asthma and panic attacks than about the virus I'd had. I think I was just fixated on the possibility of something in my system being permanently out of kilter, fortunately the blood tests have all come back fine - I'm not anaemic, I don't have hypoglaecemia and I don't have thyroid problems, hooray!!

One day I remember thinking, "I'll have a poke around in the forums and see if that makes me feel any better" but I didn't get very far, I just sat staring at the screen felling sick and shaky and with perspiration literally pouring down me, so much so that when I'd managed to cool my self down a little bit with wet flannels I had to change every single thing I was wearing. Yuck and double yuck.

Roger didn't catch it from me, thank goodness, but then we very rarely catch things from each other. We must have mutually exclusive immune systems, lol!

Well, whatever it was I'm extremely glad it's gone, I just wish I could stop feeling so very tired. I'm trying to pace myself but I'm getting impatient now, I've so many things I want to be doing!! But it is good each day to be feeling a little bit better.

I don't think I've any photos of piggies in my huge collection but here are a couple of interesting Whitby photos!

We call this the Bates Motel - it's a view from the West Beach of an early twentieth century house that used to be called Viking Lodge and which at one time was a hotel. We found a lovely drawing of it in a nineteen-thirties guidebook.

This is the view from Hudson's Folly on the West Cliff across to the best pub in Whitby, the Duke of York. I can't believe it's five years since we were there, I really do hope it's still in the same hands and is still as good. You want haddock and chips? They do great chips and they have haddocks that are so huge they loll over the side of your plate just begging to be eaten!

And Roger says the beer is great (I don't do beer, only Chardonnay but that's good, too!)

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Busy busy busy!

I suppose you could best describe this is a "look how I'm displaying what I've made for my Folksy and Etsy shops and tell me what you think, please" post!

It's said so often in the forums on both sites that when you can't see and handle a piece of jewellery the photographs and descriptions have to work super hard for you. That's why any of you who look regularly at either of my shops will have seen twentysix different photographs of most of my pieces - and still counting.....

And I'm also posting so that all you lovely people who are following my blog don't think I'm dead or something..... This last couple of weeks has seen a mighty push in terms of a) making jewellery, b) photographing it and c) starting the long process of photo editing and listing. Both on Folksy and on Etsy and all of course in addition to the day jobs. Phew!

I was very fortunate indeed in being able to do my photo shoot out of doors on Monday this week. (Oh boy was it hot, several tubes of Factor 30 later, lol!)

I'm pretty pleased with my current set up so I'll just give you a few examples of the results. The piece of driftwood is one that we used in dim ages past at craft fairs; Roger cleaned it and rubbed some gilt cream into it and varnished it. The shells are ones we've acquired over the years. The white lacy fabric in the background is a crochet shawl that was a present from a friend. And I'm using smoked glass over paper that I've drawn on for a base.

Any comments on the setup would be very welcome, thanks in advance, I'm aiming for continual improvement here, folks!
The piece of paper under the glass in this picture has a kind of abstracty blue and yellow sea and sand scrawl on it!

Yawwwwwn! It's 5.15 a.m. and I can't sleep, been awake since 3.30. (Just thought I'd throw that in, I'm not usually an insomniac, rather totally the opposite!) So I've got up to finsh this post.

Here's the driftwood in all its glory. The gilt cream and matt varnish pick out the texture really well, I think.

At craft fairs we used to drape several necklaces over this and they often sold before the ones on the display board.
And here's the "anatomically correct overview shot" (as opposed to the "come on in and look some more" shot) - can you see the linden leaves I've drawn for the background?

I think this one's a bit on the dark side, actually, I need to brighten it before I load it.

Since we only get three photograph slots on Folksy I have decided to stick to this formula - the first and second thumbnails will be the aforesaid "come on in and look some more" and "anatomically correct overview" and the third will be either the necklace on a dummy or earrings hanging from a glass or cup.
I haven't got the colours right on this one yet and I also need to Photoshop out the irritating label (since there's no way on this earth I can get it off!)

I picked out several different coloured mugs for displaying the earrings.

Quite a few of the earrings I shot on a couple of colours to see which looked best.

The only thing that still has me somewhat perplexed is displaying stud earrings and bracelets.

For studs I think I'm going to have to use our display stand (dense foam covered in velvet) and hope they hold in long enough for me to photograph them!

Bracelets are tricky, I've not cracked displaying them properly yet. I don't want to model them, as I know I wouldn't want to buy anything that's been modelled. I think I just need to go and buy a bracelet display form and photograph it in a similar way to the necklaces.

Well it's now 6.05 and the alarm will be going off in 25 minutes so there's no point in going back to bed - think I'll just go and make another cup of tea!!

Monday, 25 May 2009

Catching up, slowly...

Well, we are as back to normal as we can be since the burglary and a big thank you to everyone who's posted condolences, they're much appreciated.

"Back to normal" - erm, that's to say the repairs are all done but if I'm in the house alone I still jump out of my skin at the slightest unusual noise. (Crikey, it's not as if it even happened when we were at home, am I just a total wuss or what?!)

So I'll soon be catching up on all my blog reading/commenting and I'll soon be posting something more interesting here than a running commentary on our woes, plus I'll be catching up with all the comments on here too.....

We have actually been able to sit out on our patio for one and a half whole days this holiday weekend, it's been brilliant! OK it's raining now but who cares. Let's hope that the promise of a heatwave summer is true, we need it after the last couple of years here.

If you've read what I've said in my bio, well, I have to say the anal spreadsheet side of me has truly come out this evening as I've just spent a couple of hours trawling websites and (actual paper!) catalogues to get the best price for my current jewellery making shopping list and have cut something like £35.00 off a potentially £90 order by doing the comparison thing. I'm feeling suitably smug!!

I leave you with a random image of yours truly paddling on Holkham beach in October last year - chilly but fun.....

Monday, 18 May 2009

A waiting game.

This is now the second day I've spent at home trying to sort out the aftermath of our burglary (Rog and I are taking it in turns!) Things are progressing but I just don't feel I can settle to anything. Today its the glazier I'm waiting for, I know he will definitely be here sometime this afternoon but I don't know when.

So to while away the time I'm going to post some of our huge collection of Norfolk Broads photographs. This is one that epitomises the wide open spaces feel of Norfolk that we love so much.

We've been on two Broads boating holidays (a hired cabin cruiser, not a yacht, we're not "real" sailors). While they were immensely enjoyable they were also extremely hard work in some respects, especially the first one when we were still "learning the ropes". It's the little things that catch you out, like not knowing which direction to moor up in vis a vis the tide.....doing it wrong was a hair raising experience and we are eternally grateful to the big, muscular pair of men that came to our assistance!

Our boat - the Silver Myth. She was magnificent, extremely spacious and very well appointed.

Blimey, I've been in small terraced houses with almost less space!

Breakfast time, chaps! This cheeky bird was tapping furiously at the window to gain our attention and the others were swimming across to us as if their lives depended on it.

It was rather obvious they'd done this before...

The beauty of the Broads on a misty morning.

The atmosphere of the Broads is really hard to describe to anyone who hasn't been there. For a landscape that is essentially man made there is a very ancient feel to it.

This was not far from How Hill, probably one of our favourite parts of the Broads, on the lovely winding River Ant.

View from How Hill.

I love these old Norfolk windmills. When I was a child I had a fantasy about living in one but must admit that as an adult living in something circular has sort of lost its appeal!

Don't you go down in the woods tonight! When we were moored up at the beautiful How Hill we thought, it's a lovely warm evening, lets go for a stroll in the woods...

Not a good idea so soon after having watched Blair Witch Project. A twig cracked when we were only a short way into the woods and we were back in that boat likes streaks of greased lightning.

Gunnera - I'm not exactly sure where we saw these, I think it might have been in FairhavenWoodland and Water Garden. I don't know why but Rog finds it amusing that I find gunnera amusing. Well, don't you think something that looks like a giant rhubarb has an a bit of a giggle factor?!

Hmmm, well, I started this at 2.00 p.m. and it's now 2.50 p.m. He said "just after lunch" so I'm wondering, do I call or what? Perhaps I'll just go and do the washing up and then he might arrive...

Thursday, 14 May 2009


Well, yesterday I was planning a great evening catching up with all my on-line activities. my blog reading list alone is getting really long and I'm very aware that people might be beginning to think I've lost my "voice" due to the lack of any recent comments from this direction...and I've hardly stepped into a forum for what feels like an aeon.

None of this was to be, however, just as I was winding down ready to make my way from work to Sainsbury's yesterday I got a phone call from Roger to say we'd been burgled. Aaaaargh!!

We have been fortunate in that not much was taken - our DVD player, a few DVDs, Roger's Play Station and his guitar and - for some bizarre reason - the base unit for the phone. My computer had been toppled over but is working fine, thank goodness.

The Play Station had Grand Theft Auto in it but they'd dropped the memory card, so when Rog gets a replacement he'll be able to carry on building up his huge scores!!

It must have been a very small burglar because he/she entered after having smashed a pane of glass in the front door. They clearly thought they'd be able to open the door that way - not so, it's deadlocked. And the alarm would have been going off nineteen to the dozen so they'd just have been grabbing what they could in the shortest space of time.

Well, that's it for now, loads to do as you can imagine. And we'll see just how accurate those Lloyds TSB ads are that promise a super fast insurance claims service for customers who bank with them...!

I'll be back when the dust has settled.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Snap! Well, sort of...

There's nearly always some discussions going on in both the Folksy and the Etsy forums on the subject of copying and an awful lot of paranoia can be generated in these threads. I thought I'd post this as an illustration of how similar creations can arise totally genuinely and independently of each other!

The necklace below is for sale in my Etsy shop, I made it a month or so ago but only listed it very recently. The other day I bought my regular copy of Bead, a brilliant UK magazine that mainly features beadweaving but also includes some wirework and polymer clay projects. Right at the end there's a project called Tubular Belles, which is strikingly similar in in construction to my necklace but which must have been submitted a good few months ago!! So clearly neither of us can possibly have been even subconsciously influenced by the other.

Here's my necklace, I can't show you the similar one but see below for a full description of it and some more details...

If you are a subscriber to Bead's you can log on to see the similar necklace, which is designed by the talented Jo Porter. (If you have the latest edition of Bead, it's on page 104.) Her necklace uses very different colours to mine and is made with translucent seed beads rather than with matt ones. She also uses different peyote stitch patterns for each beaded tube whereas I've used the same pattern for each, plus the distance between the peyote tube and round bead sections is longer and the whole necklace is long enough to not need a clasp.

Given that the beaded peyote tube is commonly taught and that there are, after all, only so many different colours, finishes and sizes of seed beads to make them with, only so many different ways creating pattern in them and only so many different ways of arranging the end results then similarities such as this are bound occasionally to arise. So please everyone, let's not be paranoid about copying! There is obviously individual creativity at work both in Jo Porter's creation and in mine.

I'm going to send a photo of my necklace to Jean Powers, Bead's editor, as they do ask for readers' work and are interested in what people have created as a response to patterns published in the magazine. But I'll also mention that I made it before I even opened the magazine!

An interesting thought is that originally I was going to arrange the peyote tubes in a completely different way, with them all in one central section with a length of thong on either side. I did it and it didn't look right, so I changed the arrangement to how it is in the photo!

Thursday, 7 May 2009

10th wedding anniversary tomorrow!

Just a quick post to say I won't be blogging or hanging around in the Folksy or Etsy forums for a couple of days as it's our tenth wedding anniversary tomorrow and we're taking some quality time out to re-vitalise ourselves!

Here are some more photos, this time of Whitby, to entertain you while I'm gone...

Moody, atmospheric shot of the graveyard of St Mary's, the parish church, with the Abbey looming mysteriously behind.

Greedy seagulls who just love to attack unsuspecting tourists eating their fish and chips! Talk about cheeky...

The Huntrodd Memorial - in St Mary's graveyard - an unbelievable (?) set of coincidences...

Saturday, 2 May 2009

I've finally done it!

Yes, after ages of deliberation I've finally set up shop on Etsy. Only three pieces listed so far but "great oaks from little acorns grow" as they say! Here I am: And I had one person heart my shop and one person heart an item within half an hour of introducing my self in the forums, so I'm feeling pretty hopeful.

Loads more listing to do, both on Folksy and on Etsy, but I'm having a break for a couple of days to relax and do the garden! Let's hope the weather bucks up a little, it's been odd here today, sunny and then cloudy in quick succession.

A few flower pics :

These irises in our garden just get better and better each year!

Breathtaking delphiniums at Temple Newsam, near Leeds. I can still remember the fantastic shock of turning a corner and totally unexpectedly seeing these!

I'm not entirely sure what these are, I think they are a variety of primula. These beauties are at Harlow Carr, the RHS garden near Harrogate.

Will be back and blogging again in a few days, happy MayDay holiday to all!

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Just a quickie!

Well, thanks to the (mainly) lovely weather yesterday we managed an outdoor product shoot. Now I have hours and hours and hours of photo editing, listing and listing editing to do so I'm not going to be blogging for the next few days!!

I will be back when it's all done but till I blog again I'll entertain you with some shots we took yesterday of Stanzi up her favourite tree, an ash that when it was younger we mistakenly thought was a rowan and wondered why it never bore berries...duh!

And also some lovely shots of our lime tree, destined to play a part in my new shop banners (yes, banners in the plural, some of the pieces we photographed yesterday will end up on Etsy, not on Folksy; I've finally decided to take the plunge!)

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

A bit of holiday nostalgia.

Well, right at the moment I'm slap bang in the middle of so many things I don't know whether I'm coming or going so I thought I'd share a few photos of one of our favourite places, Wells Next The Sea in Norfolk.

(What things, you may ask? Well, besides the day jobs, I'm aiming to make enough pieces to be able to open a shop on Etsy as well as on Folksy and to have a decent amount in each of them. I'm also, for what feels like the millionth time, doing another complete re-shoot of all my photographs. And in and amongst I'm waiting to catch a great shot of our linden tree with all it's new leaves so that I can make myself a new banner. Gah!)

OK, here's one of the beautiful sunset we experienced on our last evening in Wells in 2008:

This really just didn't know when to stop, it was amazing!

And here's one of the lovely pinewoods that fringe Holkham Beach.

"No digging here!"

What's with this "No digging here!" lark, then?! Well, we discovered Wells by way of the ghost stories of M R James. Back in the late nineteen-seventies (yes, we are old!) one story was dramatised every Christmas by the BBC, over a number of years. Both of us are especially fond of "A Warning To The Curious" and, guess what, the dramatisation of it was filmed in Wells! We didn't know this till we picked up a copy of "Coast" and there was a photograph of the Old Custom House (where we stayed on our first visit). We though, hey, that looks very familiar, so on went the DVD and lo and behold, there it was!

On both our visits to Wells so far we've spent some time trying to identify locations for particular sequences in the film. With not a huge amount of success so far but we did manage to identify the steps that Arnold, the "boots", sat on while polishing shoes and whistling "Tea For Two And Two For Tea".

And since I seem to have lost the photo of said steps (*!*?!) here's one of the many skeins of birds that we witnessed flying en masse while we were there - a truly magnificent sight!

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Cat and wind induced insomnia...and the craft cupboard.

Well, this is what we should have been doing at five o'clock this morning and it's also what Stanzi does best, I sometimes think she's trying for the Guinness Book of Records for sleeping!

However we weren't, due to the fact that aforesaid puss was ballooning around the bedroom and up and down the corridor like a creature possessed. It was extremely windy here last night and wind is guaranteed to get Stanzi into hyper mode within seconds. She just wants to tell us all about it, in every possible permutation and at great length, bless!

It's also guaranteed to get me into paranoid mode as I lie there wondering just how much tossing around the huge lime tree in the corner of our garden can withstand (yes, that's why LindenTree!) Colleagues in our Parks Department, which is in the same building as the one I work in for one of my jobs, have reassured me that "lime trees are very supple". I so hope they are right... And Roger keeps telling me that it's been there a lot longer than he has (which is forty odd years at the last count).

So I'm pretty bleary eyed right now and my early morning resolve to photograph our Little Shop Of Horrors of a craft cabinet to post (inspired by a blog post from Julia of East of the Sun which was in response to the challenge by Nic of Nic's Knots to blog about craft spaces) has dissolved as I am somewhere near to the left of exhausted. Tomorrow, all being well - prepare to be horrified! (It's not that bad, really...)

More pics of the early morning madness cat, in awake yet relaxed mode!

Monday, 23 March 2009

Odd behaviour on trains...

Well, last Monday I had to go to Doncaster for a meeting. I had to take the train, because the local authority I work for won't pay car mileage to travel outside of West Yorkshire.

I didn't mind, I quite like train travel and was pleased to discover that I was travelling in an almost empty carriage on my outward journey. I had settled my self down with my magazine and cup of coffee when, lo and behold, there was a woman stood looking very pointedly down at my bag on the seat beside me, intimating that she wanted me to move it so she could sit down. She didn't say anything, she just kept looking at the bag and looking at me.

What.....? The carriage was nearly empty, she had about thirty other seats to choose from and she wanted to sit right beside me. Why?!

I was feeling a bit Monday morning-ish so I somewhat ungraciously moved my bag onto my lap and let her sit down beside me. No sooner had she done so than, being now somewhat cramped, I managed to spill the remainder of my coffee all over the table (thanks, missus, I was enjoying that drink). I said "Damn!", rather loudly, and she promptly got up and went into the next carriage, leaving me scratching my head and yearning for the rest of my coffee.....

As if that wasn't enough, on the journey home I was with three of my colleagues. We wanted to sit together as we only meet up every six months and it's good to catch up. We walked through quite a bit of the train in search of suitable seating and finally found a spot. There was a man sitting across the gangway from us, who commented something to the effect that he had "thought he'd got the carriage to himself". We must have mumbled something in response but sat down anyway, since it wasn't one of the designated "Quiet" carriages.

We were soon deep in conversation but as our journey progressed I became acutely aware that our neighbour was listening to everything we were saying. And he was making no attempt to conceal the fact, he just kept looking across at us with undisguised interest. Two of my colleagues had their backs to him but even they felt uncomfortable - that old psychological trick of staring intently at the back of someone's head to make them turn round certainly works!

It wasn't even as if our conversation was particularly riveting. OK, it was of interest to us but I wouldn't have thought it would have captured a total stranger's attention for more than a few moments! I became so uncomfortable that eventually I withdrew from the conversation altogether and studied the view from the window instead. Perhaps I was over-reacting but boy, was I glad to reach my stop!!

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Creative Plastic

Well, somewhat over three years ago I applied to buy my computer through the "Computers At Home" initiative where I work. I've just finished paying for it (hooray!!!) and have also recently re-discovered some of the little extra bits and bobs I bought at the same time and somehow forgot of which was a box of Creative Plastic.

I do hope Creative Plastic doesn't have a "sell by" date (I certainly can't see one, anyway!). Because rediscovering it has coincided with my having got really excited reading the latest issue of "Bead", where the regular "Bead Soup" challenge involves shrink plastic and coloured pencils, no less.

It reminded me that some time ago I did some designs using the Gimp photo editing programme, with the Creative Plastic in mind. I began with images of flowers and - er, well, basically just played around. I can't now remember exactly how I achieved the images you see at the top of this post but suffice it to say that many, many filters were used.....

So this weekend, as well as completing and framing in acrylic (see post below) my next piece of embroidered felt, I may well also be cooking up some Creative Plastic!!

(Sorry, still trying to work out how to show links!)

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

First in the hand felted pendant range finally listed.

Lightning quick post as it's taken ages to get this listed - but here it is, folks, hopefully the first of many:

Will post at greater length tomorrow when there's more time...

Have a great evening, all!

Edit, March 17th: And this is the lovely Folksy seller I bought the roving from to make the felt:

And while I'm at it, happy St Patrick's Day if you're celebrating tonight! Saw a few guys dressed up as leprechauns in town today, looked like they were getting ready to have lots of fun. Don't know why we had our St Patrick's day parade here days ago, though...?!

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Work in progress.

Finally managed to get the chores (bills and stuff) finished around three o'clock this afternoon so here's what I've been doing since!

It's the first stage in creating a pendant. Now I've finished the embroidery the next step is to decide by how much of a margin beyond the dimensions of the felt I want the two rectangles of acrylic glass to go that are going to form the outer layers of the sandwich. Also how many holes I want along each side to wrap the fine wire through to create the sandwich. Also what bead I'm going to use to bring the wires up through to form the wrapped loop that the spring bail will go through.

After that I'll do the cutting then it's down to Roger to do the drilling of the holes (I'm not going anywhere near that Dremel for fear I'll break it, I'm pants with electrical machinery!)

Then it's down to doing the wirework and deciding what hanging options to offer. I haven't any Sterling silver wire or spring bails in at the minute, only silver plated, so offering Sterling chain (which I do have) seems a non-starter. I think I'll offer either s p chain, cord/thong in various colours and materials, or ribbon.

Signing out now, have a good evening all!

Friday, 6 March 2009

Shortest post ever - and no photos, sorry!

Hooray!!! After a mind-blowing hour on Tuesday on Google, I finally managed to source the right material to use to "sandwich" my up-coming embroidered felt pendants. Acrylic glass, 2mm thick, from Wickes. Got a huge sheet for just over £14 - great! Given that I'll be doing different shapes and sizes there's bound to be some wastage but hey, I'm looking at dozens here!

Looking forward to a weekend of creativity...

Have a great Friday evening, folks!

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Six years on.

March 4th is nowadays a double celebration for us - Roger's birthday and another year and a day's distance from my mastectomy. Dazed and confused as I was after I got my diagnosis, I can remember being completely distraught when I found out that my operation was scheduled for the day before his birthday. I'm sure I even remember asking for it to be changed...!

My first memories of waking up after the operation - one, just being so glad to be alive (I'm terrified of general anaesthetics) and two, being in intense pain. I was offered a choice between Paracetomol and morphine and chose the latter. Didn't have to have any more pain relief while I was in there so it must have been the right choice!

So instead of us celebrating his 53rd birthday in our usual style my wonderful husband spent it hospital visiting - bearing with him my evening meal, a feast of garlicky king prawns, salad and French bread. Heaven!!! And he wasn't alone - every evening that week as he walked across the car park with my meal he saw several other people carrying covered trays of food.

I was extremely lucky, especially considering that I had buried my head in the sand about my lump for a whole two months before I did anything about it. I had all my left side underarm lymph nodes removed as well as having a full mastectomy and they were all clear. I didn't have to have chemotherapy or radiotherapy, just medication. Two years later, when the bit they missed first time round was removed, a battery of tests told me I was still clear and regular checkups continue to confirm that.

Of course I realise it could come back and bite me on the bum anytime but the further away I get from it the better I feel. And I keep a hundred percent positive attitude. When I was first diagnosed I thought, "No way are you going to get me" and I still feel just the same.

I want to say to any one (it can affect men as well as women): for goodness sake a) check yourself regularly and b) if you find anything that doesn't feel right go seek medical help a.s.a.p. The sooner it's diagnosed, the better your chances of survival.

Who's the little fellow at the top? He's the lovely pressy Roger bought me along with the first of my meals, because he knew what a big deal it had been for me going under the anaesthetic.

Well, I'm off now as it's time to get the fillet steak on the go and open the St Emilion for the birthday meal!

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Self discipline - to an extent.

Well, today I finally got the "toning but not matching" necklace I spoke of in my last but one post listed on Folksy - whew, that was bit of a marathon as the site is slow today to say the least!!

Since the necklace is made with the same rocailles as the earrings I've used the same piece of fabric for the background and I think it works really well! I just need to summon up the energy to find suitable fabrics/papers to re-photograph all the other pieces in both my shops now.....

I've made a late New Year resolution and that is to work on one piece at a time and get it finished. I don't know how long I'll be able to keep this up as it's certainly not my usual way of working but I was beginning to feel overwhelmed by the ever-growing pile of unfinished projects.

I think it might work if I say to myself, one piece of jewellery at a time, one fabric craft project at a time. So for instance I've just started another necklace; this one's going to be netting stitched on to a two-drop peyote band. I haven't decided the netting pattern yet, it may be symmetric, it may be asymmetric. I've a few scribbled sketches which I'm carrying around with me to add to or strike off from as the inspiration takes me.

I've also decided to cut up the more colourful of the pieces of felt I made to embroider on and then sandwich them between clear acetate to make pendants.

The peyote band which is the foundation for the necklace is repetitive and time consuming and so is something I can do while watching the TV; the embroidery requires fresh creative juices and so will be fitted into the "hour after I get home from work" slot. (Yes, I know they're both going to end up as jewellery but you get the general idea.....)

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Stanzi's Sunday!

Just wanted to post this adorable photo of our Stanzi - the way she likes to spend every Sunday, fast asleep on our bed. She's aiming for the Guinness Book of Records for sleeping, that's for sure.

A quick question for any cat lovers out there - how many names does your cat have? Stanzi (full name Constanze, we'd been watching Amadeus when we named her!) also gets called Shming Shmong, Stansist Wansist, Stansley Cat, Winzip and Zoony! Are we alone in being totally barmy or do other cat people do this, I wonder?!

I've been crafting again at last...

Well, I promised myself that I would spend all day yesterday at the craft table and I did. It felt really good to be "back at the coal face" for the first time in ages!

I've finished this pair of earrings and have nearly finished a "toning but not exactly matching" necklace. The earrings are listed on Folksy now, the necklace probably will be by Wednesday or Thursday.

I can't describe how much I love stitching these simple little zipped peyote beaded beads. They are nothing stunning by themselves but in combination with other beads made by the same method in different colours and sizes (sizes both of the component beads and the finished bead) they can amount to something really striking. And of course, as in the case of these earrings, just in combination with other beads.

I've changed my photograph strategy as well. I was browsing a beading book the other day (The Bead Jewellery Maker by Cheryl Owen) and decided that I really liked the way the pieces in it had been photographed, using textiles and papers that complemented their colours. Of course, as with any change, it means going back and re-doing most if not all of the photographs I already have on my listings. Realistically, that is going to have to be done piecemeal if I'm to get ahead with crafting.

Ah well, going to post this now and do my second Sunday post...

Friday, 20 February 2009

Success - and plans!

Well, after a lot of swearing I have finally managed to get the links to the blogs I'm following to show - oh joy and hooray!!

I managed it by deleting the Blog List widget, adding a second Link List widget and calling it Blogs I Follow. Then I went into my Profile and copied across the links to all the blogs - and there they were! Heaven knows why I couldn't do it the other way round but I just couldn't, no matter how many different things I tried.

So if anyone reading this has also read my semi-hysterical rant in the Folksy "Have you blogged today" forum thread last night please ignore it as I have now regained my rightful mind (well, as far as I ever will...)

Tomorrow, my plan is very simple - get up when I wake up and spend the entire day crafting. Something I haven't done for aeons... I've been jotting down notes on scraps of paper in my breaks at work so I don't forget all the ideas that are crowding round in my head. And if I can get just one new piece photographed and listed, so much the better.

I've decided to try different backgrounds for my photographs, pretty but not too fussy papers and interestingly textured (but again not too fussy) textiles. Loads more work but it's stuff I enjoy faffing with - a touch of the OCD here, for sure!

What, you may be asking, does the photograph at the top of this post have to do with its content? Well, it's a photograph of a place we love to visit - Wells Next The Sea in Norfolk. And I find that when I have a pretty hectic agenda it really helps me to just gaze at it; it makes me feel more grounded and peaceful. So here it is and I hope it helps you feel the same!

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

I'm so excited!

Well, yesterday I listed these pretty earrings on Folksy and, as soon as I'd finished, I went and clicked on "Buy" and then on "Jewellery" and there they were, right at the beginning of the search results!!

And today they are still only on the second page of results. (Folksy has a self-jurying system, so that when you list things they only get on the front page of search results if enough people have liked your shop so much that they've added it to their favourites.)

I am just so made up that this has happened!! (Sorry, explanation possibly needed - "made up" is a Yorkshire word, I believe. Well, I'm not a native of these parts and I only started using it when I arrived here so I guess it must be...)

Very short post as I'm near to the left of total exhaustion, the day jobs being pretty hard work at the moment! I will be back at the weekend.

Thank you again, all you lovely Folksy peeps!

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Building blocks!

One of the many images I have spent the last fortnight revising:

The weather and the associated hazards of necessary travel have pretty much dominated the last fortnight for both of us. Getting myself to Leeds two weeks running to attend a digital storytelling course was a major achievement. Things are pretty much back to normal now, thank goodness. There's very little snow left at our level and looking out this morning we could see green on the nearest hills. And our little patch of snowdrops has emerged unscathed from the snowdrift they were buried in - hardy souls!

It's such a lovely feeling when I leave work at well gone five o'clock and it's still light. Plus at the opposite end of the day it's getting a whole lot easier to crank myself out of bed!

We have achieved quite a bit, actually, but it's all at the "building blocks" stage. And neither of us has actually sat at the craft table in ages, it's all been about sitting at the computer - grrrr!

I've spent hours and hours and hours amending images in both my online shops, properly calculating P&P prices and amending those, re-doing my descriptions, checking and re-checking my tags...the list goes on and on and it feels like drudgery but it's hopefully getting me somewhere as views are steadily growing in both shops. I just wish I could get some sales but I'm also acutely aware that I need to fill both shops to a much greater extent before I have a prayer of that.

The other thing that's occupied our time is making a start at setting up our own websites. Today we got an "under construction" page designed for my website - just have to upload the images to the server and we can publish it. Then it's down to deciding how to split my creations between my website, Folksy and Dawanda. Plus finding some more time in the day to head is buzzing with ideas for pieces and I've started a notebook beause I'm afraid of losing them all before I get the chance to make them!!

And I had some fun putting together my first Pinboard for my Dawanda shop. I chose a springtime theme (of course!) and kept to jewellery, ensuring that every piece had at least some green in it. It felt to be a really creative thing to do and who knows, it might one day get on to the front page...well, I can dream!

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Slow, slow, snow, snow, slow...

Well, I'm probably one of thousands in the UK blogging about snow today - but I'm going to do it anyway, so there!

According to our local paper, it's been the worst for 18 years. It's certainly the first really heavy snow that we have seen since we got married, nearly 10 years ago now. I do remember a Monday afternoon in January 1995 and sometime latish on in 1991 but - well, a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then...

We both had a day's annual leave on Monday and spent it periodically gazing out of the window of our upstairs office/craft-room in total disbelief. "It's nearly horizontal!" was the cry in the later part of the day.

One of the things I've always loved about snow is the eerie quality of the reflected light that's cast - it's so cold, and yet somehow calming when combined with the deadening of sound.

We have two cats, one too elderly to even consider going outside except in a heatwave but one middle aged lady who certainly does still desire to go out to answer the call of nature. So husband bravely battles the icy blast to clear a path for her across the lawn - now that's true cat love. Not that I don't love her equally, of course I do, but I have a post mastectomy/full axial clearance excuse for not doing excessive digging as it makes my left arm swell. (I make up for it in other ways, though! I am an ace weeder, as well as being an avid sower and planter-out of seedlings.)

Snow can bring worries, of course, not only about the complications of travel but about family members and friends. In our case especially my Dad, who is 83, but a couple of phone calls back and forth assure us that he is fine.

The photographic opportunities afforded by excessive snow are many and I'm just off now to choose some of the best before posting.

Goodnight and keep safe in the snow!