Handmade gifts all round!

May is a crazy busy month for me every year. My job at the college becomes full of helping stressed out students prepare for deadlines and exhibitions, the warmer weather means weekends are booked up with BBQs and camping trips and we have recently started a tradition of travelling to Barcelona for Primavera Sound festival at the end of May. Not only is it my birthday in May, it is also the birthdays of lots and lots of my friends and family.

Usually I like to make my loved ones gifts as much as possible, but for the people with birthdays in May I just don’t often have the time. This year I decided that as an avid crafter and occasional Etsy seller I should be buying my friends and family handmade gifts from Etsy or craft fairs if I cannot find the time to make them myself.

I thought it might be nice to share a few of the lovely gifts I have bought on Etsy with you here. Maybe it will spark some ideas for gifts for your loved ones, but most of all I think it’s important to share the love of all things handmade with others and support other crafters!

DIY needle felting toadstool kit

I bought this kit for a friend who has never tried needle felting but loves lots of other crafts. I can’t wait to see how she gets on with it. I came across this kit when reading Leonor’s blog Felt Buddies and Co and decided to purchase her kit in order to support another UK crafter and blogger 🙂

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Black and white crystal pendant

I ordered one of these black and white crystal necklaces and it arrived a couple of days ago, it’s beautiful and I’m sure my friend will love it.

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Another crystal necklace

Two of my closest female friends have birthdays in the same week (the same week as mine too!) so I often end up buying them similar gifts, I bought one of them the black and white necklace above and the other one this purple triangle necklace. You just can’t go wrong with handmade jewellery.

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Owl watercolour print

I actually bought this print a year ago for an owl loving friend of mine, it’s a beautiful watercolour design and it arrived pretty quickly despite coming all the way from America.

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Watercolour cherry blossom prints

Another Etsy purchase from last year, this time for my mum who is a big fan of cherry blossom. She loves these prints so much! Her birthday is coming up again soon, hopefully I can find her another gift she likes just as much on Etsy.

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And now I can’t resist sharing some items that I haven’t purchased yet but would like to one day, either for myself or as a gift.

The Fox In The Attic

I just stumbled upon this Etsy shop today, their stuff is so cute. I hope a friend/family member has a baby soon so I can buy it one of these rattles.

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Papio Press

I came across Papio Press at the Bristol Etsy fair at Christmas time, I fell in love with their illustration style so much that my friend went back afterwards and bought me one of their prints.

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Last but not least is Click Picks

Click Picks is my friend Zoe’s shop, she’s a really talented photographer and sells her prints on Etsy as well as handmade notebooks, book covers and other crafty bits and bobs. She gave me one of her handmade notebooks once and it is absolutely beautiful.

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Well I hope that little round up of fun stuff I’ve found on Etsy was at least a little bit interesting for you! Small businesses really rely on people spreading the word about their fantastic products so it’s great to share brilliant makers and handmade items when you come across them!

Etsy is so full of amazing things it can be hard to know where to start sometimes, I’d love any recommendations any of you might have, either for your own handmade items or someone elses! Thanks for reading 🙂

 

 

Are you doing what you love?

Today I wanted to talk about this post from creative lifestyle blog Making Nice in the Midwest: Rescuing Hobbies. In this post Mandi describes the way in which making things and being creative helps her in her day to day life and discusses the fact that adults don’t often see the value in hobbies unless they are bringing money into the household. This discussion of the importance of creativity and doing what you love, simply for the sake of it making you happy has really hit home for me and made me think about my own life and what motivates me to make things as frequently as I do.

Like me, Mandi finds that when she is not creating her mind turns to other, more negative things. For me, I find my anxiety and stress levels rise the longer I sit at home just watching TV or doing anything else that may be restful but not productive. I have learnt to combat this anxiety by making something whilst I rest. When I get home from work I put some terrible trashy TV on and get to work on some needle felting, patchwork or crochet. But for a long time I too have felt guilty when I spend money on craft supplies, as if the money that I have worked hard for should be put towards something more useful or more exciting. I find myself making excuses for my spending like “if I use this fabric to make a quilt, we will use it for years and it could save us having to buy one” or “I can try out this new and exciting craft technique because I can use it to make something practical for my home” as if the only value in my creative hobbies are their outcomes and the only way I can spend money guilt-free is if it is on something functional that will be used for a long time. In actual fact it is becoming more and more obvious to me that I need to be creative and make things with my hands in order to be a well rounded, happy person. The anxiety I feel when I am not creating often comes out in negative or snappy comments directed at those around me so it is important for my relationships too that I am feeling creatively fulfilled.

I have also at times found myself making excuses for my crafting hobbies or spending money on craft supplies when talking to my friends. As terrible as it sounds I do sometimes feel as though at 24 I should not be spending my time making patchwork quilts and instead perhaps I should be playing an instrument in a band or doing something more ‘young’ with my time, as many of my friends are. This is a habit I would like to break this year, feeling ashamed of my creative hobbies is not how I want to be, especially as I am actually pretty good at some of my creative endeavours. I want to feel proud of my talents and my hobbies and not let myself get caught up wondering whether other people think that what I enjoy doing is ‘cool’ or not.

Another good point that Mandi makes is that a lot of people work all day at jobs they dislike, only to go home and watch TV and feel unfulfilled in life. The dream is of course to have a job doing what you love but most of us are not that lucky. So it is all the more important to find something that you love to do, whether it is a practical, useful hobby or just something really fun and do it as much as you can in your spare time. I am lucky in that I quite enjoy my job most of the time, but it would still all feel pretty pointless to me if I couldn’t spend my hard earned wages on materials that allow me to be creative every now and then.

So if you have a spare minute I’d really recommend giving Mandi’s post about rescuing hobbies a read, and while you’re there have a look at the rest of her blog, she does some really inspiring stuff! I wonder if this discussion about making time for doing what you love and not feeling guilty about it will strike a chord with you too? It really got me thinking this week. It’s so important to feel proud of your talents and positive about what you do with your free time and I am glad I have been reminded of that!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone! Sorry I’m a few days late, but better late than never! I hope you’ve all had a wonderful festive season full of friends, family and relaxing.

It’s back to work for me today and we took the Christmas decorations down at the weekend, these two events always make me feel sad that Christmas and all the excitement and sparkle are over. However this year I am feeling more hopeful than usual, I am back at work but only at my job as a technician in a college which I love. Last month I finally got to quit my second job which I certainly did not love! Having more hours at the college means I only have to do the job I enjoy and it will even give me a few more hours a week for crafting and blogging, these are all good things and I am feeling very positive about the future.

The end of Christmas and the long, cold months of January and February can really put people in a dark place but this year I want to try to be thankful for what I do have – things like a warm cosy home and friends nearby. I want to appreciate a couple of quieter months before the busy and exciting months of spring and summer, winter is a great time to be creative and learn new skills. And I also want to look forward to the start of spring and plan exciting adventures for the summer.

Rather than make new years resolutions that I just won’t keep, this year I am focusing on being positive and pro-active in whatever I find myself doing. Who’s with me for a positive start to 2016?

Speaking of being pro-active, I managed to find some time to be creative over the Christmas holidays despite all the rushing around we did. Here are some images of a small crochet bear I made for my friends new baby niece. This was actually my first ever commission, very exciting!

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I’ve also been getting creative in the kitchen after receiving a goats cheese making kit as a gift for Christmas!

I’ve always wanted to try making my own cheese and this kit had everything I needed plus very clear instructions. I would definitely recommend this kit to anyone who wants to give cheese making a go or as a gift for a cheese lover in your life!

My picture of the finished product does not look that appetising but I promise you it’s delicious, I’m looking forward to making goats cheese stuffed peppers with it tonight!

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So that’s just a little of what I’ve been up to lately, I’ve got lots of new projects lined up for the new year that I’m looking forward to sharing with you. Here’s to a creative and positive 2016!

Merry Christmas!

imageI’d like to wish you all a very merry Christmas! We are having lots of fun whilst trying to make sure we see all the people we care about this festive season. It’s very busy but very lovely! I hope however you are celebrating you are having a brilliant time!

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Christmas at our house

We’re in full festive mode here now and the tree and decorations are up! We had such a lovely day on Sunday buying the tree and decorating it and the rest of the house (despite bad hangovers for half of our household) whilst listening to Christmas songs. This really is my favourite time of the year, I get about as excited as a child!

I thought it might be nice to show you some snapshots of our house looking all festive, particularly the handmade decorations.

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I made these stockings for myself, Nathan and our two house mates two years ago. Each year we have a mini ‘house Christmas’ a week or two before Christmas where we have a special dinner, drinks and fill stockings for each other.

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A fair amount of the decorations on our tree are handmade ornaments or shop bought baubles decorated with Decopatch paper. You can see how I did those here. The large quilted looking baubles are a new craft my friend taught me this weekend, learning a new skill is so exciting and I think these baubles look so much more complicated than they are. I hope to post a tutorial about those soon!

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This pompom wreath was a Christmas craft from last year too, you can learn how I made it here.

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This advent calendar is one of my favourite DIYs ever. I fill the pockets with chocolate, tree decorations and miniature bottles of booze for my housemates each year, they love it too! If you’d like to give it a go, you can see how here.

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Me and my housemate Rhianna made this wreath last night! Neither of us had made a wreath from real plants before and so we mostly just guessed and made it up as we went along. I really love how it’s turned out though! All we had to buy was some thick wire to create the base circle and some florist tape, we gathered the holly from a friends garden and the rest was offcuts from the bottom of our Christmas tree. We used a simple method of taping the foliage down and then overlapping with another piece to hide the tape. We added a few gold accents we had lying around and it was finished. It’s not your usual perfectly spherical, even wreath but I love it.

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This felt elf ornament is one of the Christmas items I have been making for my Etsy shop. I have been meaning to write a post about how I make them for a while now but it is so hard to find a time when there is enough daylight to photograph the process! The other felt ornaments below are also for sale on my Etsy shop, you can take a look at my shop here.

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I hope you enjoyed seeing a little of what Christmas is like at our house. It makes me so happy to be surrounded by decorations that me and my friends and family have made ourselves, they mean so much more when someone has put time and effort into them! I love seeing how other people decorate for Christmas, so do leave me links to your pictures if you have them!

Hello again, I’ve opened an Etsy shop!

So it’s been 7 months since I last posted which is terrible but I’m back and feeling inspired again!

The last 7 months have been a whirlwind of moving house, settling in, working two jobs, panic over the future of one job, stress, festivals, summer sunshine, holidays, decisions about the future and just a bit of crafting. It has felt as though life is moving so fast there is just not time for regular blog posts so I’m afraid the blog got set aside for a while.

This last month though I have been thinking about what is really important to me and realising I need to make more time for the things which make me happy – namely craft! As we edge closer to Christmas I am getting inspired again to make bits and pieces and – exciting news – I have opened an Etsy shop too! It’s about time I stop just talking about it and actually start trying to make money from my crafty habits. My mum is joining me with the shop too, it will be great for us to have something to focus on together and the things she makes are so lovely it’s about time someone other than me gets to see them!

Here is the link to my new Etsy shop, at the moment there is only a couple of Christmassy items in there but I will add to it as time goes on http://www.etsy.com/shop/makeitpaisley

I would really love any feedback about the shop as we continue to fill it, I am new to selling on Etsy and could really use any advice on prices, listings, descriptions, tags or anything else you can think of!

As always, thanks for reading and I promise I won’t leave it 7 months until my next post again!

Moving House

I can’t believe it’s been a month since my last post! I haven’t forgotten about the blog I promise!

Just over a month ago we found out we had  to move out of our pretty little flat as the owners wanted to sell. If this has ever happened to you whilst renting you will know what a horrible feeling it is to suddenly know you have to move out of your home.

Luckily we found somewhere to move to almost immediately and this time it is a whole house with a garden! Every cloud really does have a silver lining! So that’s why it’s been so quiet here on the blog, packing, organising and planning the move have taken up almost every waking moment. Now that we have moved and my craft area is well on it’s way to being set up I’m sure I will return to my usual levels of creativity.

In fact I have always found a house move to be very inspiring in the past. New spaces need new decoration, storage solutions and set ups which has always led me to loads of new ideas before and I’m sure this new house will be the same!

We are planning a little garden related DIY project this weekend so I will share that with you guys next week!

January Blues

Hi there!

Just a quick post today to say sorry for my lack of blogging over the past week or so, I seem to have hit one of those creative brick walls and I blame January and all its depressing uninspiring-ness!

This lack of creativity is also down to me focusing on finishing the blanket I shared in my last post and slowly working on some needle felt projects, these more time consuming crafts are keeping me busy but are not making for great regular blog posts. Having a few projects on the go at once is very normal for me but recently those spontaneous quicker crafting ideas are just not coming to me, creativity definitely comes in ebbs and flows!

Are any of you feeling a similar lack of creativity on these cold, dark January days? I’m considering taking up running, perhaps some physical exercise will help to motivate me in other areas of my life too. Theres always the chance that running could become just one more thing to do instead of getting on with my craft projects though!

Anyway, enough of my ramblings! I hope you are all having a happy and creative January!

Happy New Year!

I can’t believe it’s 2015 already! Happy new year!

I just thought I’d take a minute to ask you guys what you would like to see on the blog in 2015. Having started this blog only a few months ago and not expecting to get any readers at all I am amazed and excited to see that perhaps some people do want to read my crafty ramblings! But I don’t want to just keep rambling at you without asking what you would like to see more or less of this year?

My hope for this year is to get some of my friends involved with contributing posts on all the amazing creative things they do, would that be something you would like to see? It seems as if every one I know has their own favourite creative outlet whether it’s knitting, graphic design or jam making!

It would be so interesting to know what you like reading about/what inspires or intrigues you and what simply does not interest you at all. More photography based posts? More craft? More baking? Let me know!

 

Merry Christmas!

I’d like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a brilliant New Year!

I hope you are all enjoying some time off with family and friends, things may go a little quiet on this blog for a few days now but expect lots more crafty projects in the new year!

Thanks for reading!