Tidying (shudder) but finding various stuff & ideas

I am not a tidy person.  I like to have what I need spread out and accessible around me – and still there the next time I sit down to continue.  But I have been so busy lately, and putting together kits and zines in the tiniest corner of my really quite large study made me realise that the ‘essentials’  were spreading out of control.  So I got out some bin liners and set to work…

You see, the problem is that what to most people would be genuine rubbish (misprinted papers, discarded packaging) I can genuinely see uses for.  The cardboard packaging from a random stationery item can generally be turned into some form of loom.  The half-printed papers I can use when I’m experimenting with my own packaging formats, or notebook pages.  I was strict with myself, though, and made boxes for full and partial sheets of paper that I could realistically re-use, and sent the rest for recycling.  I threw away the chocolate wrappers (look, I need energy while I work, okay?).  I was ruthless with the random packaging leftovers.  Admittedly I kept most of the card, but the plastic-y bits, and shrink-wrap etc are gone.  Hurrah!

By anybody else’s standards this room would not look tidy (except perhaps by Corey’s standards – and he at least will never nag me about the state of my study, because his is infinitely worse).  It probably looks like everything has just been pushed out to the edges.  Okay, to an extent, this is what I did…  But I have also slightly organised all the stuff I was ‘saving’ so that it is  actually useable and accessible (findable!), I have thrown away the stuff that really was rubbish (oh my god, 2 bin liners-full!) and I HAVE FLOOR SPACE!   Oh, oh, I also have table space!  It’s really quite exciting (for me, anyway).  So nice to look across from my chair and see carpet, and think I won’t have to nudge everything out of the way to make space when I’m putting the next zine together (watch this space – if I don’t post about TF2 later today, it will definitely be in the next day or so!).

And I brought up a pot of hyacinths from downstairs, so every now and then I get a lovely waft of their rich scent.  Mmm…

I fully accept that I should not have allowed my ‘creative disorder’ (okay, mess) to get quite so out of hand; there’s just always so much more important stuff to do than tidying…  It has always been and will always be my nature, and I’ve accepted that.  It is also possible that it took me slightly longer than perhaps necessary to tidy up this time, as I kept re-discovering things I had accidentally buried.  Yes, it was necessary to spend 10 minutes staring at & contemplating a small packet of needles.  It was!  When I bought it, it was just an ordinary packet of needles, and I honestly thought nothing more about it – but look!  I made this:

needle-packet-notebook

Yes, I know the picture labelled ‘front’ is actually a different packet of needles to the finished notebook, but I’d finished making it before I realised I should probably have taken a ‘before’ picture.  You get the idea, anyway.  I just cut some pretty (recently unearthed) handmade paper embedded with petals to size, and attached to the centre panel of the opened-out needle packet (see below).  I used a dab of glue to fix the bottom piece of paper to the packet, and stitched the little stack of papers into place.  (I could just have easily have used a staple, but I’m kind of into stitched bindings, at the moment.)  Just a slightly different spin on the matchbook notepad concept, really – and slightly more appropriate to needleworkers.

needle-packet-notebook-inner

(I should really remember to add in a darker-coloured backing when I scan in white/pale blue things; sorry…)

Craft Leftovers Interview

Find out more than you ever needed to know about me and TangleCrafts in the interview just posted at the cool Craft Leftovers site.  There’s a free set of TangleCrafts Weaving cards with the March issue of Craft Leftovers Monthly – find out more here, then sign up before Saturday to get your subscription. Craft Leftovers Monthly is a fun and funky combination of zine and crafting goodies that will show you how to make awesome cool crafts with all your leftovers – you can’t say fairer than that!

Check out the main Craft Leftovers site, too – there are lots of interesting posts & free projects to browse and explore 🙂

The latest Misshape

Here’s my latest Misshape.  He’s not at all the shape I intended (but I kept changing my mind as I was stitching the outline) – & I guess that is the point of Misshapes!  Everybody here thinks he looks like a little ghost.  He’s probably my least favourite Misshape so far, but he was fun to stitch.  This one is stitched with 2 pieces of felt (different colours, back and front), rather than dress/t-shirt fabric, like the last ones.  I stuffed him with moong (/mung) beans, which in hindsight was a mistake, as he looks kinda bumpy up close.  Cotton wool or wadding probably would have worked better for the flatter felt body.

Spook!

If you have a sudden urge to sew a Misshape yourself, but you’re a bit scared cos you’ve not made anything like it before (like I was), I do recommend starting with felt rather than fancy fabrics.  The felt is much easier to hold, cut, and to sew through.  On the other hand, if you’re worried that you’re stitching won’t look neat enough, you might be better off starting with a different fabric, as you don’t turn the felt creatures inside out, so your stitching remains visible on the finished Misshape.  Personally, I think a little unevenness to the stitching would only add to the charm of a felt Misshape…  Imagine a Misshape with a little wad of stuffing sticking out the side – it would just make him more endearing, surely?!

Envelopes!

There must be so many uses for these cool small envelope designs (not least as seed envelopes, as intended!).  Check out this link for some lovely floral & foliage decorated envelope templates & utilise them in your preferred crafty manner.  Some additional templates are simply folded into shape, and require no cutting or gluing at all!

This site has some different envelope templates.  You can buy special envelope-sealer glue (apply to an edge so it dries, then moisten to seal envelope at a later stage) here.  You can probably get it other places, too, but this is the first place I’ve seen it…

Flax-woven angel

How lovely is this?  A bit late for Christmas, but save the idea for this year, instead – click here for step-by-step instructions with photos.  Okay, perhaps she’s not exactly woven, but still, it’s a lovely, crafty idea.  I’m sure you could make the angel out of alternative materials if flax isn’t convenient for you(!), but the website gives advice on all aspects of gathering, preparing, dyeing and weaving flax, so if you like the idea of weaving with something genuinely green (okay, I know flax itself isn’t the colour green, but you know what I mean ***see comments below, before you pick me up on this!) it’s very worth checking out.

A couple of cool websites

Just stumbled across a couple of cool websites I thought I would share – please visit, support, contribute, because they are very cool!

At The Sampler you can make a monthly subscription to receive a goody bag of, well, goodies from a wide range of indie crafters, zines etc.

Craft Leftovers is a place after my own heart, specialising in, well, crafts from leftovers…  You can subscribe to receive a monthly craft zine, a kit for a previous project, as well as lots of cool re-claimed stash to craft with!  There’s also a raft of free projects & instructions on the site, so go explore!

Bizarre Bazaar (not really, but it was fun!)

Well, the Bazaar has finally been and gone.  I’m happy to say that although this last week has been a bit of a mad rush, essential materials didn’t arrive until the day before, and I didn’t manage to finish a lot of the things that I had planned, I had a really good day.

I had hoped to have more finished woven pieces, and a wider range of kits available, but time went against me, and I was still finishing things off as I was sitting at the stall.  It would be fair to say that I felt very much as though my stall was a work in progress!  However, I in response to what I had managed to finish, I received a lot of positive feedback from both the public and other vendors, which made me feel very positive about continuing in a similar direction, further developing the ideas I didn’t quite have time to see through this time around.

I was also approached for a potential commission piece.  It would involve working to a much larger scale than my usual work, but it could be a lot of fun, and I have had various ideas that I would like to explore, already.

All in all, I really enjoyed the Bazaar experience.  The footfall could have been higher, and I think most of the vendors felt the effects on spending of the current economic climate.  But the Bazaar visitors, as a whole, were very interested in what individual vendors were working on and with, and the conversations I had with those passing through were as valuable to me as anything else.

I’m looking forward to the next event, already!

Spreading the Word & Time to Think

My ‘day job’ is working for  the biggest chain book store in the UK, which I’ve done for the last 12 or more (count ’em!) years.  Reading is that thing I do, when I’m not stitching.  One of the perks of the job is that we often get advance copies of new books (although these aren’t available for ALL titles).  I go on the local BBC radio once a month to talk about new fiction titles, I review for the company’s quarterly, national magazine, and I produce a bi-monthly local store newsletter, too.

All of these things focus on fiction, but I thought it would be nice come Autumn to do a special edition newsletter, specificaly on craft books, because there are some great books out there, but it’s not something our stores are generally very big on.  So I decided to be a bit cheeky, and contacted Search Press, asking if they would be able to supply an advance copy of one of their new titles, for review.  Before I knew it, they had contacted our head office & asked if my newsletter could have wider distribution, & head office contacted me to say that was a great idea.


So today I have a long day trip to Brentford, where amongst other things I will be able to discuss the distribution (&, I hope, growth) of the newsletter , which in turn may lead to a nationwide expansion of interesting books available in the craft section of your localbook store!  I had no idea my little email would have quite such a domino effect, but it’s all very exciting!


One of the best parts of today for me, tough, is that (despite the early start!) it means I will have literally hours on the train in which I can just create head-space & think.  What luxury!  Okay, perhaps I will do a little  stitching, too, but to be honest, it’s a luxury to have time to do that, too…


I’m very excited about the newsletter, though.  It may only be a newsletter, but it’s a way to combine my two loves in my paid work.I really can’t complain about that!