Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Crafty Creatives - Box 1

I nearly didn't write this post because I know there are numerous others who have already blogged about the Crafty Creatives box subscription. But I remembered that some of my blog readers (those who have lives outside of the crafting Twitter community) wont have seen all the other posts but might still like to hear about the Crafty Creatives box.

My only previous experience of a subscription like this is the Graze boxes that deliver a variety of tasty treats through your letter box every week (or at intervals chosen by you). But it turns out that box subscriptions aren't just limited to snacking, there are beauty boxes which come packed with samples of cosmetics to try before you buy and now the craft box has arrived courtesy of the ladies at Crafty Creatives.

I heard about the Crafty Creatives box subscription through Twitter, for £10 a month plus £2.95 p&p was the promise of a box full of crafty goodies.  I signed up straight away and was just in time for Box 1 which sold out only a few hours later. There was a lot of Twitter hype about the delivery of the first box, with everyone reporting on whether or not their box had arrived yet, it was very exciting!!

craftypainter: Crafty Creatives Box 1
Each month there is a different theme and this month was floral. The box contained an art card by Liz Kapiloto with a handy contents list on the back;
  • The CC kit - a flower brooch
  • 3 wooden floral printed buttons
  • 15 lucite flower beads
  • 1 floral shoe gift tag
  • 2 floral pegs
  • 5 wooden flower shaped buttons
  • 1 sheet of floral tissue paper
  • 1 glass pendant
  • embroidery thread
  • 1m floral cotton ribbon
  • 1 fat quarter of William Morris fabric
  • 2 smiley flower beads
craftypainter: Crafty Creatives Box 1 Contents
A box of loveliness
  craftypainter: Crafty Creatives Box 1 Contents
Also included each month is a craft kit containing materials and instructions for something to make, the kit for this month was for a flower brooch.
craftypainter: Crafty Creatives Box 1 Kit
After an hour or so in the garden after a baking hot day, I finally got round to completing the kit. This is very different from my own corsages which are flat and I enjoyed working the fabric into a perfect rose shape.
craftypainter: Crafty Creatives Kit - Flower Brooch
As I mentioned at the start there are lots of other bloggers who have written about the Crafty Creatives box, an expanding list of these can be found at on the Crafty Creatives blog.  I'm off to check them out now as I have put off reading them until I finished my own post.

And finally... if you missed out on Box 1, Crafty Creatives are offering the opportunity to win it! To be in with a chance to win, re-tweet this tweet before midnight on Wednesday 25th July.




Sunday, 22 July 2012

Day of the Triffids

With all the rain we've been having recently my garden has been neglected and the plants have been growing like mad! The first sunny Saturday in a long time meant it was time for a garden haircut!  Everything was looking really lovely and lush but also getting tall and gangly. The pink geraniums have been looking amazing but they were climbing out of the flowerbed and taking over the lawn.
It looks a little drastic but in a couple of weeks the geranium will have re-sprouted and hopefully so will the lawn.
Geranium patch before and after.
It was worth it though as I found these hidden gems, two plants which I bought last year and had forgotten about were hiding in the foliage.
White penstemon complete with two hoverflies and delicate purple thalictrum.
I also took the opportunity to attack my veg patch, here's a before and after of the tomato and leek bed, (with and without thistles).

The 'pond' also needed some attention, mainly around the outside. It may be small but it has everything, rocks, plants and even some tiny lily pads.

Once all the hard work was over, I took a few extra snaps from around the garden, including these scrummy blueberries, purple clematis and another couple of hoverflies.

After a long hot morning of mowing and snipping, it was time for a break. The cat was in agreement, not that she did anything!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

CallyCo

Yesterday I took an after work trip in to town with my friend and fellow crafter Katie (@McTweenigal). One of the places we stopped by was the very lovely CallyCo, the tiny haberdashery shop just off Cambridge market. It's jam packed with beautiful fabrics, sewing accessories and cushions. I bought this amazing cushion in CallyCo a couple of year's ago for my friend Ro. Here she is modelling it.
 
Ro and her birthday cushion.
On yesterday's trip is was Katie's discovery of the remnants basket that made my afternoon. Along with the usual larger pieces of reduced off-cuts was a basket of scraps from 5p each, perfect for smaller craft projects like my corsages. Needless to say I got stuck in. As I'm currently trying to use up some of my materials due to a lack of room, I limited myself to only a few pieces.
 
My scrappy bargain.
Some lovely fabrics for my stash and all for just 70p!


Monday, 16 July 2012

Cambridge Open Studios 2012 - Sandy McPhoenix

This weekend was week two of Cambridge Open Studios 2012 and I headed of to Bottisham with my ma for a wonder around.  Sandy McPhoenix is open for the first time this year and it was a real treat to visit her.  Sandy's studio was set up in a converted barn (I think it was a barn) and the first thing I noticed was the amazing smell of lavender from the lavender sardines and lavender bags she was making. The lavender bags have a really cute applique design of her gorgeous dog Marvin. As well as the lavender bags there were beautiful cushions, toy dogs and door stops.
Toy dogs with door stop, flower cushion and  Marvin lavender bags by Sandy McPhoenix.
We stopped for tea and lovely cake too and then popped back in to the studio for another chat and to buy some lavender bags. Here is one of Sandy's lavender sardines hanging from my blackberry bush.
Lavender sardine by Sandy McPhoenix
Sandy's studio is open again next weekend 21-22 July and there is even talk of a Christmas Open Studio. For further information and lots more pictures of Sandy's work, visit her page on the Cambridge Open Studios website

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Awesome Cherry Jam

I love cherries and I love jam so cherry season is one of my favourite times of year. It seems that when the developers were planting up the local park they really took the name of the area, Cherry Hinton, on board. Most of the trees produce very small sour cherries which are great for making this awesome jam. When I first when out cherry picking yesterday I thought I had missed the boat, the trees that I came across were good for eating but everything within reach had already been snapped up, plus the gallons of rain we have had recently meant that those that were left had split. A little further on though and we found some real gems. Trees laden with small bright fruits and no climbing required. 

How gorgeous are these little gems?

After about 45 minutes we had collected a massive hoard of 1.8kg!!! Here they are all lovely and clean.



I find the best way to stone these little beauties is just to squeeze them gently, be extra careful with the dark ones because the juice is bright pink and stains!!!! The cherries are really soft and the stones just slip out. 



With the stones removed the remaining cherrys and juice amounted to 1.4kg of fruit.  As cherrys are low in pectin, I use jam sugar with added pectin, for 1.4kg of fruit I used 1.6kg of sugar. Here is the basic recipe for jam making (adjust quantities accordingly):

800g prepared fruit
1kg of jam sugar
knob of butter or cooking oil (optional)

Heavy based saucepan
Sterilised jam jars and lids
Small plate or Sugar thermometer
Jam funnel (optional)

Start off by popping a small plate (if using) in the fridge for testing setting point later on. Simmer the fruit in a large heavy based pan until softened.  Add the sugar and knob of butter or a little oil if using (I don't bother with this but it is supposed to reduce scum).  Stir in the sugar until dissolved and bring to a rolling boil (vigorous bubbles that don't reduce when stirred), then time for 4 minutes. 



To test if the setting point has been reached drop a little jam on the saucer from the fridge, allow to cool and then push with your finger, setting pint has bean reached if the jam crinkles on the surface. If setting point is not reached the return to the boil for a couple more minutes and test again. If you have a sugar thermometer test for setting point by placing the thermometer in to the boiling sugar setting point will have been reached when the temperature is 104.5c. Once setting point has been reached it's time to jar-up while the jam is still hot. Stir gently to disperse any scum or skim this off into a spare jar, there's nothing wrong with it it just looks a bit manky. I don't have a sugar thermometer because for me the cold plate test works fine but I do have a jam funnel which makes potting up much less messy than it used to be. Pour the jam into sterilised jars, seal with a lid and allow to cool. Label so you don't forget what's inside, I used washi tapes that I made last week after following the excellent tutorial at claireabellemakes

 

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Peacock Cushion - Part II

Remember this??

Over two weekends I worked on my peacock cushion.  I initially drew out a small rough design and once I was happy with the layout, drew out a full sized plan to use as a template. I then traced all of the shapes from the plan on to Bondaweb (making sure to reverse the image of the peacock's head so that it would be facing in the right direction on the final piece) and ironed the Bondaweb pieces on to my chosen fabrics. 

Once all of the pieces were cut out and backed with Bondaweb I laid them out on the plan to ensure that no two pieces of the same fabric were too close together. The smaller 'inner feathers' were then ironed to the larger feathers.

Then all of the pieces were pinned and ironed to the backing fabric.

Once securely in place the pieces were stitched with zigzag stitching in matching coloured thread.
 

I used felt for the eye and a tighter zigzag stitch for the head feathers.
 

With all the stitching completed and trimmed I then finished off the cushion with a simple envelope cushion.  It's a beauty and I couldn't be happier with the results.
  

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