Sunday 31 August 2014

On Instagram in August

I can't believe we've reached the end of another month and it's time to share with you some Instagram photos from August. I have mixed feelings at this time of year- I'm sad that Summer is coming to an end, but looking forward to all that Autumn brings. I'm planning a Hot Chocolate themed post at the moment, hopefully that'll set the mood for Autumn! Until then, here's a few things I got up to in August as told through Instagram...

I was really lucky to visit The Cornershop in Bethnal Green, which is a full sized cornershop filled entirely with groceries handmade in felt! Find out more in my blog post. It was quite amazing, so clever and such a lot of work. My friends and I made a day of it, visiting Spitalfields, where this bottle top mosaic man caught my eye. I always save bottle tops as one day I'd like to make something with them, I'm told it's strange but I think they're too nice to throw away! We visited Colombia road flower market too, which is just round the corner from The Cornershop. I'd never been there before but I loved the bustling market atmosphere

August has been a month for hunting for vintage treasures. Last month, having followed the Channel 4 programme This Old Thing, where presenter Dawn O'Porter encouraged viewers to forgo the mass produced high street buys in favour of original vintage finds, I made a rule for myself that I wouldn't buy anymore brand new clothes for the rest of the year ( blog post on this coming soon) and instead I would seek out more vintage finds. So this month I bought this great vintage top from a vintage shop in Brick Lane and (applying my new rule to home ware shopping too!) also a mirror with a pretty metal frame that I'm probably going to spray paint.

I love love love A Beautiful Mess blog, written by sisters Elsie and Emma and this recipe for Peaches, Whisky and Ice Cream Float cocktails can be found on their blog here. They were yummy! Do check out their blog if you haven't before, it's the ultimate go-to blog place for handmade lifestyle inspiration

On a very Autumnal feeling August day, a good friend and I climbed the 52 metres onto the roof of the o2! There are great panoramic views up there and it was something fun and different to try, I'd definitely recommend it! 

I'm currently running a giveaway on Instagram to win one of my handmade knitted brooches. If you'd like to enter, head on over to my Instagram page to find out more!

I hope you've all had a good August, what did you get up to?

Friday 29 August 2014

Instagram giveaway! Win a Louise Dawson Design Handmade Knitted Brooch!

Over on Instagram at the moment I'm having a giveaway to win one of my handmade knitted brooches! I'd love for you to enter, hop on over to Instagram and check it out- good luck!

Thursday 28 August 2014

Making teeny-tiny fabric scrap Yo-Yos!

I've very kindly been given a huge bundle of fabric samples, so I've sorted through them all and there are some really pretty pieces! I've made a little dent in my new stash today, learning to make some teeny-tiny fabric Yo-Yos using a Clover Quick Yo-Yo Maker. I haven't made Yo-Yos before but I think it could get quite addictive, especially as you can buy the tools in different sizes! I think they look like little rosettes! They are so quick and easy to make and they show off the colours of the fabric really well- I'm excited to see what I can make with them. I've made a Fabric Yo-Yos Pinterest board for inspiration!

You use the tool for stitch guidance and then remove it and pull the thread to gather the fabric

I'm just experimenting at the moment, still working towards a new textile jewellery collection, but I think the Yo-Yos look quite sweet added to the Harris Tweed, which I've begun to embroider with Bullion Knot flowers.

Sunday 24 August 2014

This week in photos!

Today I wanted to share with you a few photos from the week! I've had a week off from the day job so it's been nice to get up to a few different things

Garment making!

You may remember from this post that I wanted to make my way through the Tilly and The Buttons book Love At First Stitch, so now I've moved on to the second project, the Margot Pyjamas! I traced off the pattern and I have actually cut the pieces out now- I'm quite slow and a novice when it comes to making things like this but I'm glad I've made a good start! The step by step instructions are so useful and I'm looking forward to cracking on with these.

Using food tips as weights, such a handy tip from the book!

Looking forward to getting these made and wearing them. I might make a heavier weight pair for the winter too!

(Attempting to) Get fit!

A while ago I took up hoola-hooping in an attempt to bring some excercise into my life, but I didn't stick to it, so this week I've made the effort to get outside and hoop every morning with my ipod, and do sit-ups too. I'm really feeling it after a week of excercise! I'm hoping that by doing it every day I'll establish it as part of my routine and I also hope that by sharing this goal with you I'll be more likely to stick with it. It's actually really fun if you've got some good bouncy music on too!

Cake scoffing... a reward for the hoola-hooping (!)

In contrast to the exercise, I made a Blackberry and Marshmallow cake (you've got to have some treats!) and gave a vintage metal tray an update in a How To..!

Charity shop hunting and bangle covering

I recently posted a How To... featuring fabric wrapped bangles and I've really caught the bug for making these, so I went charity shop hunting for bangles to cover with recycled fabrics, beads and chain- I'll be adding a selection to my Etsy shop soon!

Some bangles in progress!

New reading!

I picked up a second hand copy of Danny Wallace's "Yes Man" which I'm enjoying and hoping to learn from!

A friend and I climbed the o2! I'd very much recommend it, there are great panoramic views around London from the viewing platform at the top and it's something a bit out of the ordinary to do! I'll share some more pics of the view with you in a later post

I hope you've all had a lovely week and have a happy Bank Holiday weekend. Share what you get up to in the comments!

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Recipe: Blackberry and Marshmallow Cake!

 It's the time of year when Blackberries are coming into season and you see them growing in abundance in the hedgerows. I'd been thinking for a while that I'd like to come up with some new recipes using Blackberries this year and whilst watching Dragons Den one evening there was a pitch for Marshmallows (love love love marshmallows!) and this started the cogs turning! The Great British Bake Off is also back and making me hungry on Wednesday nights, so the natural choice was to make a cake. So this is what I conjured up, a Blackberry and Marshmallow cake! I've kept the sugar in the filling to a minimum as I didn't want it to be a sugary overload and I hope you'll agree it's just right! Enjoy!

Serves 12


For the cake
  • 200g Self-Raising flour
  • 200g butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 3 medium free range eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Icing sugar, to dust
For the filling:
  • 150ml extra thick double cream, or double cream whisked until thick and spreadable
  • Handful of Blackberries 
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar
  • 8 pink Marshmallows

For the cake:

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. Grease two 8" sandwich tins and line the bases with baking parchment

1) Cream the butter and sugar together with a spoon or hand mixer until smooth and no lumps remain

2) Beat the eggs into the mixture one at a time

3) Sift in the flour and baking powder. Add the vanilla extract

4) Beat the ingredients together with a spoon or your mixer, taking care not to over beat the mixture. If it looks a little dry, mix in a tablespoon of milk

5) Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared tins

6) Bake for 20-25 mins, or until golden and a skewer inserted into the centre of the sponges comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tins for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Allow to cool completely

7) Shortly before assembling the cake, prepare the filling. First make your Blackberry "jam." Add the handful of Blackbereries to a small pan with a tablespoon of caster sugar and a tablespoon of water. Cook on a low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is syrupy and the Blackberries are soft. Roughly crush half of the Blackberries with the spoon

It's best to make this mixture straight away right before you need to use it, but if you do prepare it in advance it can be made syrupy again with the addition of a drop of hot water

8) Spread the cream onto one sponge

9) If you've managed to resist eating them all (I found this very hard... nom) put your marshmallows into microwavable dish and microwave for 10-15 seconds. You'll end up with a marshmallow fuff. Work quickly here while the marshmallow is soft and spread over the cream. If the marshmallow starts to set again, microwave for five seconds. Top with the blackberry mixture

10) Add the top half of your cake and dust lightly with icing sugar. Enjoy!

Have you come up with any inventive recipes using Blackberries? Post them in the comments below! Happy making!

Tuesday 19 August 2014

How To... Transform a Vintage Metal Tray Charity Shop Find

Today I'm sharing a really quick and simple How To... using the metal trays you often find in charity shops. I spotted this one whilst charity shop thrifting recently and knew it would be perfect to use to serve drinks or for tea in the garden, but I wanted to give it a bit of a modern makeover. So... I gave it a colourful  transformation with spray paint! Here's the How To..!

1) You will need

Metal tray, small can of spray paint of your chosen colour, dust mask, cardboard or newspaper to protect your work surface

Note on using spray paint
Always wear a mask when using the spray paint, work in a well ventilated area and protect your work surface. I find it best to spray outside on a sunny day

2) Spray away!

Hand wash your tray in warm water and dry thoroughly

Following the instructions for best usage on your can of spray paint, give your tray a light coating of paint and leave to dry fully before giving a second coat. I have found that you get a better, smoother result if you spray two or three light layers of paint rather than one heavy one

3) And you're done!

It's as simple as that, one old fashioned tray transformed into a stylish and colourful way to serve your tea, cakes and drinks! I love how the spray paint highlights the edging details around the tray and you can find these trays in all sorts of shapes and sizes so you could spray them all different colours!

Washing your tray

I'd recommend gently hand washing your tray in warm water and avoiding putting it in the dishwasher

Tomorrow I'll be sharing the recipe for my Blackberry and Marshmallow cake, perfect for serving on your lovely colourful tray!

Wednesday 13 August 2014

Fair Isle Felting Experiments!

I'm currently teaching myself Fair Isle knitting using Wendy Ramsdale British wool with an aim of creating a Fair Isle jewellery collection for the Winter. I'm trying out lots of different techniques at the moment to find out how the yarn behaves and here are some felting experiments I've been trying out, combing Fair Isle with other processes and then felting the samples in the washing machine. Here are some before and after photos!

For this piece I hand knitted a Fair Isle sample and then felted it in the washing machine at 60 degrees to see how the patterns came out when felted. I had tried washing it at 40 degrees but it only partly felted. It's made a lovely thick felt which would be great for making brooches and I'm pleased that you can still see the patterns- further experimentation required!

For this sample I knitted a plain piece in Ramsdale yarn and embroidered Fair Isle influenced patterns onto it using the same wool. Again I felted the piece in the washing machine at 60 degrees. I like the effect both before and after felting, especially as you can still see some of the embroidered detail, although I'd like the felt to be a little less fuzzy looking

I then knitted a piece combing Fair Isle and cable patterns, again putting it into the washing machine to felt at 60 degrees. Unfortunately the detail of the cables has been lost through the felting process, but it's all part of experimenting

 Take a look at more Fair Isle patterns I've knitted with Ramsdale here and read about how I tried Fair Isle in fabric! Now I'm off to experiment with combining cable, Fair Isle and embroidery in other ways, so I'll keep you posted!

Monday 11 August 2014

The Cornershop- a whole shop filled with groceries made of felt!

This weekend I was lucky enough to visit The Cornershop, a former derelict shop in Bethnal Green, London, which artist Lucy Sparrow has completely filled with everyday grocery items, all hand made in felt! Such a fun idea! The shop contains over 4,000 felt versions of everything you can think of that you can find in a grocery store, ranging from newspapers, tins of beans, packets of biscuits, chocolate bars and frozen chips! It's just like walking into your local corner shop, except the stock isn't edible and is much more cuddly!

Such is Lucy's dedication to her theme, even the till is made of felt and Lucy stood behind her counter (in front of the felted tobacco kiosk!) making more felt groceries. The whole project took Lucy 7 months to complete and Lucy's aim is to engage the local community within accessible art and through sewing workshops.

Guilt free Chocolate Digestives! No calories!

The shelves were fully stocked, just as you would expect in a regular grocery store. It really is a feat of the handmade and great craftsmanship that Lucy and her assistant handmade each of the 4,000 items themselves

Read all about it! In felt!

The felt confectionery was my favourite part of the exhibition, there is such an amazing amount of detail in each piece

The shop in Bethnal Green will be open until the end of August, before moving on to Brighton in October. Find out more and how to get there here! I thoroughly recommend a visit to admire the craftsmanship that's gone into the project and perhaps even buy your very own felt can of beans! Grocery shopping doesn't get more fun than this!

Sunday 10 August 2014

How To... Make Recycled Fabric Wrapped Bangles With Two Variations

I had some neglected  plastic bangles in my jewellery box that I hadn't worn for ages, so I decided to give them a makeover! This is a really simple How To... but I think you'll agree, the bangles you create are very pretty and it's a very thrifty make too. How about recycling the pretty fabric from an old top to make a matching set of bangles and adding beads from the broken necklace that you love but you know you'll never get fixed? Oooh and they also make great gifts! Here is a tutorial for making the basic recycled fabric wrapped bangles and a couple of variations- happy making!

For a basic fabric wrapped bangle;

1) You will need
PVA glue, paintbrush, plastic or wooden bangles, strips of fabric

Note on fabric: My strips of fabric were aprox half an inch thick and 25/30 cm long. For one small bangle I used aprox two and a half fabric strips. For a larger bangle it may be easier to cut wider strips of fabric, to cover the bangle quicker


Add a small amount of PVA glue to the inside of your bangle and add the end of your first fabric strip. It's much easier (and less messy!) to only add glue to the inside of the bangle, rather than gluing the fabric!

3) Start to wrap!

Wrap your fabric strips around the bangle, overlapping it slightly. After each couple of wraps, add some more glue to the inner bangle to secure the sfabric. Wrap until the entire bangle is covered, securing you end with PVA glue on the inside of the bangle. Leave to dry

4) It's finished!

It's as simple as that to transform a boring unused bangle into something pretty. You could leave your bangle plain like this, or read on for further ideas!

Fabric wrapped bangle with chain

1) You will need

The materials listed above for the basic fabric wrapped bangle, old jewellery chain, tube of all purpose strong glue, fabric wrapped bangle

2) Follow the How To... above to make a fabric wrapped bangle

3) Choose your chain!

 I got this necklace in a bundle of old jewellery on ebay and immediately knew that the tangled chain would be great used in a How To..! The chains on this necklace were quite easy to break off by twisting them, but if your chain is made of stronger stuff, you may need to use a small pair of pliers to remove the chain. You can experiment with different weights of chain to give your bangles a different look

4) Add a thin squeeze of your strong all purpose glue to the inside of your bangle and use to stick the end of your chain

5) Wrap your chain!

Wrap the chain around the fabric covered bangle, using the strong glue to secure it in place on the inside of the bangle on every couple of wraps. Leave to dry

6) It's finished!

That's all there is to it- pretty effective and very simple

Fabric wrapped bangle with beads

1) You will need

The materials listed for the basic fabric wrapped bangle, beads removed from an old necklace (I have used glass pearls from the tangled chain necklace), needle and thread, fabric wrapped bangle

2)  Follow the How To... above to make a fabric wrapped bangle

3) Remove the beads from the necklace

How you remove the beads depends on the necklace you have- I was able to remove the glass pearls from my necklace using a small pair of pliers, but it may be as simple as snipping a cord. You can use as many or as few beads as you wish, depending on how heavily you'd like the bangle to be embellished

4) Stitch your beads onto the bangle

Stitch the beads to the bangle in any pattern you wish, catching the thread between the wraps of fabric. This is easy to do as the fabric is only glued to the inside of the bangle

5) Ta-dah! 

That's all there is to it, so simple but so effective

Enjoy wearing your lovely updated bangles!