Sunday, 23 June 2013

Hats, Hats, Hats

I haven't been very well this week so haven't been able to craft!! My brain couldn't even handle a bit of simple knitting and I've learnt from previous experience if you can't concentrate on a project it's better to just leave it alone and continue when you have the ability to do it well.
So I took the time to just totally flake out and rest. This gave me the opportunity to watch the coverage of Royal Ascot in between napping. Recently, thanks to a colleague at work, I've learnt a thing or two about horse racing (I'd still pick them on their name though) but if I'm honest it's the fashion, the hats in particular, that really kept me watching. I can't find a picture of my favourite one, it was a lovely vintage little number. It was mainly green with a cluster of daisies around one side and some simple netting on the other slightly hanging down over the front. It was very pretty and I loved it.
I really liked these two also -

 This bunch are slightly out there but I do like the stamp idea!
Here's a link to more of the wackier creations on show -

I would love to be a milliner, it must be so rewarding to see your creation at a glamourous event with the wearer feeling a million dollars. I have every intention of doing a workshop of course some day (soon hopefully).
I have made fascinators in the past for friends and family, mainly with feathers, to go with specific outfits.
Here's a picture of my Mum wearing one to go with her outfit which was a really unusual colour -
 Also one of my wonderful friend Sarah (both pictures are cropped from larger photographs so if you wouldn't mind, please over look the quality, thank you)
The closest I've come to a proper hat, is this creation but I sill wouldn't say it's a real hat. It's in the style of  an envelope really, I guess, with a beaded focal point.
I'll let you know if I book a course and how it goes!
Craft in earnest! Craftin' Ernest x

Monday, 17 June 2013

Threads Galore, Crafty Bargains!

There's a great shop in my home town called "Serendipity" which sell an eclectic mix of mainly second-hand items, with some real absolute bargains to be had! Well it topped itself this week with a truly fabulous find.
My husband spotted two white, plastic cases....

Inside each of them was a large selection of 1000m reels of thread! One case ranging in colour from pale pinks to deep purple and the other every shade of blue you could wish for! In total there was 115 reels and my husband who enjoys a bit of haggling (the exact opposite to me) negotiated the lot for £25, that works out at 21 pence per reel!!

They're fantastic quality as well. WAHOOOO thank you! I had never heard of the make before- Ackermann Isacord, but I've had a look online since and think we did very well.

Things only got better when we went to a car boot sale on Sunday- to replace all the stuff we got rid of when we did one ourselves a couple of weeks ago ;-) and I picked up some bargain goodies there too. I saw a cardboard box with a couple of large embroidery hoops poking out and lots of paper bags. I asked how much the hoops were and the lady said it was £5 for the whole box, no haggling from me, I handed £5 straight over. I couldn't resist, even just for the pleasure of delving into the box to discover what was in there at my leisure was worth the money. I certainly wasn't let down, as well as the hoops there was a pin cushion with lots of needles, some cross stitch aida and loads of embroidery cotton skeins. There was two segmented storage boxes, one filled with cottons already wound onto bobbins and 84 cotton skeins- all Anchor and DMC. I was beaming by the time I had finished. Another bargain!

I don't do cross-stitch myself but I do like to embroider, however I thought I would use some of them to crochet flowers. I made a small pansy to stick on a teeny card and really like how it turned out but I want to go smaller! I'll let you know how I get on.

Have you had any crafty bargains? Leave a comment and let me know all about it.
Until next time, craft in earnest! Craftin' Ernest x

Monday, 10 June 2013

Heart-shaped Earring Tutorial

Today's post is a tutorial to make a pair of HEART-SHAPED EARRINGS using wire and embossing powder. They're actually surprisingly easy to make and I think look really effective. 
You will need:
2 x approx 45cm (18") of thin wire. 24 gauge works well but a bit thicker or thinner would work fine (I used a brassy coloured wire but you can use whatever colour you like).
Embossing powder (I went for classic red but again it's totally up to you. The brand I used for these was "Heat It Up" but I've used "Cosmic Shimmer" in the past and I'm pretty sure it would work with any brand)
Pair of earring findings (homemade or shop bought) 
Regular kitchen oven
Baking tray (or oven-proof dish)
Aluminium foil
Pliers and wire cutters
Hammer and hard surface
Paper and pen
Sharp needle/pin

Draw a heart onto the piece of paper roughly 2.5cm x 2.5cm (1" x 1").
Bend the end of one of the lengths of wire into a heart shape using the heart you drew as a guide. Using pliers fold the tip of the end around the wire to secure it.

Twist and weave the remaining length of wire around the heart-shaped frame using the pliers when needed.

Keep wrapping until you're happy the heart has been "filled in" evenly. Repeat with the second length of wire.
Then using the hammer and a hard surface, gently hammer both hearts flat.
Left-side heart = after hammering    Right-side heart = before hammering

Lay both hearts on a piece of foil on a baking tray (or oven-proof dish), not too close together.

Now cover the hearts with a thick, even layer of embossing powder. Originally I used a small teaspoon and applied the powder a little at a time using the tip of the spoon, this worked well but took a little while. I find it quicker to use the piece of paper rolled into a funnel. Pinch the end, closing the hole and pour in the powder. Gently release the pressure on the hole allowing powder to flow onto the heart. Repeat for the second heart.

Place the tray in an oven set to about 150°C (300°F) for a minute or two. The powder melts pretty quickly so keep an eye on it. Once all the powder has melted and become shiny, remove the tray from the oven and leave it to cool.

Once it's cool enough to touch gently peel away the foil. If needed, any excess around the edges can simply be cut away with a pair of scissors
 Before trimming the edges
After trimming

Using a sharp needle/pin, and being careful of your precious pinkies, pierce a hole in each heart- in the left side of one and the right side of the other.

Attach an earring hooks to each heart and you're all set!

I hope you like them and give them a go!
'Til next time craft in earnest, Craftin' Ernest x

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Trip to Shrewsbury

It's June, officially Summer in the UK according to the Met Office and the Sun is shining!
We're just back from an overnight trip to the town of Shrewsbury in Shropshire, about two and half hours drive away. A friend recommended it as she thought we would like it, she wasn't wrong (thanks Lynda)! It's a truly gorgeous Tudor town, absolutely steeped in history. I love the higgled-piggled nature of Tudor buildings, so distinctively black and white, and around every corner was something of interest.

Shrewsbury is also a crafter's paradise! I bought so many goodies. We split our takings from last weekend's car boot sale and I spent all of mine on fabric, buttons and ribbon (plus a pair of shoes- I just couldn't say no and a vintage suitcase which was an absolute bargain at £4 in a charity shop).

We walked out of the hotel at 9am and by 9:20 I had bought so much fabric I was giddy. Next door but one to our hotel was an amazing shop- Watson and Thornton Fabrics and Haberdashery. Our hotel room window was the top, pointy-out one on the right side of the photograph above the arch and their front door was less than a stone's throw- yay!
And that was just half of it. The full front is below.
Here's a few pictures of the inside- including m lovely husband paying for all my purchases- there were lots and I didn't even see half of what they had downstairs let alone what was upstairs (apparently it was just as big up there).

Thankfully they have an online shop too I will definitely be looking ordering from them in the future. To top it all off, the ladies who served us were so lovely and helpful and made it even more pleasurable, if that's possible?
Here's a picture of some of the fabrics I just had to bring home with me ;-)
And one of the feature buttons and ribbons I couldn't resist. Note the ribbon quoting Oscar Wilde "I can resist everything except temptation", so very true!
I'm looking forward to getting busy with some of it at the weekend. What to make? So many ideas, so little time. . . . 

Until next time craft in earnest, Craftin' Ernest xx