An Apple…. or is it a Yoda for the Teacher?

As the majority of my friends think I’m slightly eccentric with all the knitting and crochet I do, sometimes they set me interesting commissions that challenge me a little. The latest, a set of 3 teacher /  lollipop lady gifts definitely comes into that category!

My friend has 3 children, 2 of whom are school aged. Her daughter –  the eldest – had a sci fi mad teacher for her stay in year 3 and wanted to have a special present for him. So she was sent on a mission to subtly interrogate him to find out which movies and characters he like….. the answer was Yoda from Star Trek.

So I duly went on a hunt for images of Yoda, including some stunning amigurumi and hats on Pinterest for inspiration and came up with a few ideas for facial features and his cloak and staff. I then set to with hook and yarn from my stash and got creating. I had the most fun making his feet and ears! I wanted his face to have some features so used a combination of crochet circles and free hand embroidery to build his face and voila:

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The teacher said he was “stupendous” and was over the moon, so one happy customer so far!

Child 2, a little boy wanted a thank you message for his Year 1 teacher, so after a bit of collaboration with Mum, I came up with a canvas. I knitted the blackboard and edged with with crochet to make a “wooden” frame. Next step was to embroider the words Thank You in a childlike script -which works well with freehand embroidery. I felt the finished item needed something else so crocheted a little apple to add to the corner of the board:


Then the toddler decided he wanted a present for the lollipop lady as she’s his friend! So could I make a World’s Best Lollipop Lady Badge says Mum…. so again I did a mini hunt on pinterest to make sure I got the colours etc right and this is my design, all in crochet, with freehand embroidery. I was a bit disappointed I couldn’t find an orange heart button but the pink works ok:


And finally the whole end of  the school year collection:


Handmade Monday 122 – Teatime?

I’ve been a bit lacking in the blog dept in the last week or so as I’ve been busy making, as well as having a bit of a dip with my medical issues, caused by this lovely muggy weather and dealing with my daughter who’s had a few scary moments of her own…

So its nice to be back on the blog again and really good to be joining in with Handmade Monday – I miss it when I get too busy 😦 Its a lovely treat to have the time to peruse other people’s beautiful makes too, so remember to pop across and join in or take some time out for a read!

I’ve been asked to make some vintage teacosies for a local tearoom to display and hopefully take orders for me. So I’ve had to get to grips with a new way of knitting so that I can make them grow at a reasonable speed. I started the first one using a vintage pattern I found in a charity shop but didn’t like the look as the gathers were really thick so using pinterest plus more magazines and old patterns  in a  similar style and experimenting I achieved a happy medium…


These cosies require a fair level of skill at fairisle knitting, ideally the ability to  colour knit 2 handed – that is with one colour in each hand and are fairly time consuming to make. However I’m a realist and know I won’t get compensated for my time and skills but I do expect to cover my materials and make a little on top to cover travel etc. Hence I priced the cosy at £12 which was materials plus £3.

However I was then asked if I could do them cheaper as the people in local area won’t pay that much for handmade.The customers in the cafe all loved it and backed the cafe owner up and gave me a price range of £7 – 12 ( for a 4 person pot)

The only way I can see I can cut costs is to sell my higher quality materials items online, at fairs and markets and produce an acrylic version of the cosy for local outlets wanting things their customers will pay for. But this won’t look as nice or be as good at insulating the teapot as the pure wool version, but I suppose you get what you pay for? Its also harder to get acrylic yarns that have the muted effect colourwise that pure wool yarns give. Perhaps I’m turning into a yarn snob????

But good old Robin Yarns have come to the rescue following a browse around the local yarn suppliers and I’ve found a lovely soft pistachio colour that I think will work!

Lessons I’ve Learned:

Lesson 1 – do your market research, where are you selling and who will you be selling them to? Is this something people want?

Lesson 2 – explore options, is there a market place for selling your items created from better quality materials

Lesson 3 – make sure you are comfortable with compromising  to meet customer needs, if not, you may need to find a new outlet

Handmade Monday 78 – Weddings

Welcome to this week’s Handmade Monday blog, you can find out more about Handmade Monday and how to join in over at  Handmade Harbour, a blog thats well worth reading in itsown right too!  And if you’re not a blogger yet….. pop over and be inspired by a wide range of crafters from across the globe, its worth it :-)

I like to feature work from other crafters on my blog from time to time and from the feedback I’ve had from my readers they like it too. So today I’m going to concentrate on weddings.

Inspire Create and Celebrate

I’m part of a Hampshire Crafters Co-operative, Inspire, Create and Celebrate, and as well as a lovely new website designed by Sharon and Jackie, we also have a facebook page, set up and maintained beautifully by Kirstie. Our aim is help people add a personal touch to celebrations that doesn’t cost the earth and to share ideas, hints and tips that mean people can still have a wonderful day, but on a lower budget. So as well as making to order for Brides, we also upcycle, recycle and I think most importantly run taster workshops where we can start passing on our skills. Our first wedding workshop  is Saturday 8th September in Southampton and if you’d like to come along, please pop across to the website and sign up.

Our talented team: Jackie, Kirstie, Sharon, Maria and myself bring a wide range of craft skills as you’ll see from the photo’s and info below:

Jackie Noyce – Aussie Jax

Jackie is a fantastic florist, who not only creates wonderful displays in both real and silk flowers but also passes on her skills via regular floristy workshops and taster sessions across the city. Her facebook page is an excellent resource for brides and full of Jackie’s personal top tips to help you plan and organise your special day. I first met Jackie at a “start your own business” event when we were both taking our first steps to setting up and its been really great to see her business grow and flourish, as she juggles it with the demands of bringing up her family.

Wedding Flowers by Aussie Jax

Sharon Griffin and Maria Martinez – Crafting Cronies

I met Sharon following on from a newspaper feature about how I use crafts to overcome the symptoms my spinal condition causes. She contacted me because she too was recovering from a long term illness and wanted to know more about starting her own crafting business, so I popped round for coffee and the rest was history! When we had our first ICC meeting Maria came along too and wowed us with her beading. Sharon specialises in paper crafts, sewing and knitted headbands.

Sharon recently shared her feelings and inspiration for becoming involved in ICC and wanting to make peoples’ celebrations special:

I’ve been to a number of weddings over the years and the ones that stick out in my mind the most are the ones where the Bride and Groom have added their own finishing touches. I couldn’t tell you what the brides dress looked like but I can tell you that the bunting and the little pots of homemade jam favours and the twinkling trees to hang our best wishes on to,  were all wonderful finishing touches to a contemporary cottage style wedding.
The weddings with a theme tend to be well thought out too, another wedding had a Safari theme where the tables each had a picture of a wild animal on them and the children played games and had their face painted (if they wished) to carry on with the theme. The 1st song to get everyone on the dance floor was Tiger Feet!
Yes the bride wants to look a knock out on her big day and she has every right too, and yes the compliments will flow, but long after the day people will talk about the small finishing touches, that part of ‘you’ that has gone into ‘your’ day, that’s what sets your wedding apart from high street.
Helping friends and relatives making up collages, putting slide shows together, making wedding stationery that shows a part of their personality that’s the part I enjoy most.

Designs by Crafting Cronies

Kirstie Turner – Pandora Style Jewellery

Kirstie is another team member who uses craft to help her overcome the symptoms of chronic pain. Like me, she has had to make the difficult transition from nurse to patient and also struggles with the all too common lack of understanding people show to those who look well – total disbelief that anything can be wrong. Kirstie devotes her time to both fundraising for local charities, running a facebook charity and fundraisers group and helping at the local RSPCA clinic, often bring sick and injured animals home to hand rear, joining her extensive menagerie of rescued parrots and parakeets. Her jewellery is simple but stunning and she has taken courses in silver smithing and silver clay too. All Kirstie’s profits go to charities, so by buying your jewellery from her, not only to you come to own something beautiful, you also help keep 4 charities afloat: the local RSPCA vet clinic, Down to Earth Community Farm in Southampton, Birdline and DEBRA.

Kirstie’s inspiration to create arises from the car accident that changed her life:

The name  PandoraStyleJewellery came about due to my love of Greek Mythology and as I was starting this hobby as a point of focus in my life to help me with me rehabilitation following a car accident, so at a time when I needed ‘Hope’, I felt the inclusion of the name Pandora was fitting given that Hope was the only thing left in Pandora’s Box; and all I had!

Here’s a selection of her beautiful creations:

Designs by Pandora Style Jewellery

Bev Newman – Bits and Bobs Crafts

My passion for creating special occasion accessories and clothing has developed from a love of vintage. I discovered the antique pattern library a few years ago and found a whole world of beautiful crochet and knitting, most of which was hidden from the world as it was part of ladies’ lingerie.  I’ve been experimenting with lace crochet and knitting ever since. I also remember when I was a bridesmaid for my cousin Irene – her oldest daughter is getting married next week – my Aunt Joyce was a seamstress and made all our bridesmaids dresses – I still have mine somewhere! I remember her making the head dresses too as I was a “dummy” for the little bridesmaids and have fond memories of an evening, not long after Mum died, trying on hairbands and juliet caps until the decision was made. I also inherited a now far too tempermental singer sewing machine, one stitch only, made in 1924 from my great aunt. It had been her neighbour Ethel’s before and she had made “umpteen” wedding and bridesmaids dresses for local ladies over the years. So I suppose the idea of handmade weddings is somehow ingrained too!
I’ve been working on crochet decorations so far but am starting a new project this week, upcycling a basic white top and skirt with vintage style crochet lace to make a bridal outfit. I’m also designing a 20′s style bridal handbag and am just finishing a lace wrist cuff.

I love the concept behind ICC – especially as we get to work with brides and their families to pass on skills and who knows where that may lead for them too in the future!

Wedding Designs by Bits and Bobs Crafts