The bumblebee flies anyway

combboardweaveAt my local Pound Store, they sell 2 mouse mats for £1. While I try, in principle, to be against unnecessary consumerism, I am powerless to resist the lure of a potentially useful bargain.  By useful, of course, I don’t actually mean practical in ‘normal’ terms; more craft-able.   I bought them a while back, and one (with a comb glued along the top) was used as a very handy weaving loom.  The other is also very useful: I use it upside down (foam upwards) when I’m making zines & booklets to cushion the pin-stabbed bindings while I stab them.

I’ve been thinking for a while about carving a stamp, either out of a carving block, or an eraser, or…something.  I’ve never really been into rubber stamping as a craft, yet there’s something very appealing in the more primitive aspect of a hand-carved stamp.  I’ve seen some very cool & funky designs around on Etsy, and the simplest of designs seem often to be the most effective.  I thought it would be nice to personalise packages I send out with a stamp from a hand-carving, or maybe use a stamp on the cover of a zine, instead of printing.

Anyway, this morning, there is no coffee in the house, and I am having difficulty getting motivated to get on with stuff.  So for some reason, I decided now is the time to try carving a stamp.  No erasers or carving tools to hand, I just cut a chunk from mouse mat #2, and carved my design freehand with a craft knife.  I could have drawn bee-block1 my design first (just as you can’t see the carving too well to the right, you can’t see pencil marks on black foam rubber, but I could have outlined first with the knife); but I just got stuck straight in.  This is why my intended ball of wool is now a bumble bee… 😉 bee-printI also forgot, in my eagerness, that the design would be reversed in the printing, so it quite took me by surprise to see my bumble bee flying in the opposite direction when I lifted the block (no coffee yet, you see).

For my first attempt, I’m really pleased with how this turned out, and will definitely be doing further experiments!  My trial print (above left) went straight onto the corner of one of my stash of board envelopes (I love the idea of using a stamp as an actual postage stamp), so if you buy anything from the Etsy store in the next week or two, you might receive this very bumble bee, in the mail!

In short, I feel my £1 shop bargain has been well-justified!

Craft Leftovers – yay!

Have I mentioned before how cool Craft Leftovers is?  I’m sure I have!  I just got my latest (April) issue of Craft Leftovers Monthly (zine + kit!) yesterday, so I’m a happy little bunny, just now :-).

clmclm2This month’s goodies included a complete kit (instructions, yarn & vintage buttons) for the Snowdrop Gauntlet, a cute, random origami ‘thing’, and of course the zine, which is packed with projects, including a cool woven clutch purse.

You can only sign up for CLM once a month – check it out here, so you don’t miss out next time!  If you’re tempted by the woven purse, though, head over to the Craft Leftovers Monthly shop, as you can still by the April issue on it’s own.

Morsbags – how cool? (Guerilla eco-bag making!)

Working through my stack of Croq zine back issues (not quite finished, yet!) I found a great article about Morsbags.  This zine was published in 2007, but I checked it out, and the Morsbags site is still very much alive & kicking – & in fact, still growing.  I wanted to post about the concept because it’s such a fantastic idea – as DIY & eco-friendly as they come.

Here are the basics about Morsbags, but the Morsbags website is the best place to go for full info:

What are Morsbags?

They are easy-to-sew eco shoppers (named after their inventor, Morsman), made out of old curtains, sheets (etc).

Why are Morsbags?

The point of Morsbags is to raise awareness of how bad plastic carrier bags are for the environment, and to pro-actively encourage shoppers (etc) to start carrying an eco-friendly Morsbag (or similar) instead.

How are Morsbags?

How does it work?  Well, you can of course make & use as many Morsbags yourself as you like, but the point is to raise awareness and encourage/increase wider use.  So the idea is that you get together with friends, make Morsbags in bulk, then simply give them away to shoppers (definitively NO selling!).

When & Where are Morsbags?

Groups of people  who get together to make Morsbags call themselves pods.  There are pods all over the country, all over the world.  Check out the Morsbags website to see if there is a pod in your area, or set up your own!

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The Morsbags website tells you everything you need to know, so check it out.  There’s a free PDF of instructions to follow, as well as leaflets, labels, stickers etc to promote the idea.

I have something of a fear of sewing machines, but the beauty of a Morsbag ‘pod’ (see above) is that you get together with friends and all take a part in the production process (so I could cut, or iron, instead) whilst having a nice afternoon/evening chatting about stuff.  I’m about to move house, but perhaps I’ll make my first crafty day at the new house a Morsbag party!  I have lots of crafty friends locally, so I’ll definitely be letting them all know about the Morsbags concept.  But the free PDFs on the website mean it would be easy to print off a stack of leaflets & instructions & just give them to people you know.  The more people who get involved with this idea, the better!

Re-purposed ‘ideas’ notebook (& more)

One of the things I un-buried in my freak tidying spree was a couple of comment cards from a nice cafe in town, where Corey and I sat and recovered from the hugest cooked breakfast EVER, on a lazy Saturday a few weeks ago.   I picked up the comment cards with no idea of what I wanted to do with them (comment-making being the last thing on my mind); they were just so irrefutably useable.  Look at all those cute little boxes to tick, and questions to answer…  I knew they would be perfect for…well, something.

So I re-discovered the comment cards, and it all became clear.  These were, in fact, notebook covers –  how could I not have seen it earlier?  Look:

caffe-nero-from-this-to-this

Inside, I decided to put into effect a concept that’s been bubbling around in my head for ages.  Inside are, of course, recycled paper pages.  BUT these are not just any pages, oh no: these are the pages for an ‘ideas’ notebook.  You see, I have ideas, quite literally, ALL THE TIME.  And yes, almost any notebook will do; but my ideas tend to be a combination of picture/diagram alongside scribbled notes.  So I came up with a whole series of page layouts that allowed various combinations of picture + annotations.  If your brain doesn’t work in the same way as mine (God help you, if it does!), you could use the blank spaces for thread samples, or fabric swatches, or a photo of a project, or – you get the idea.

Anyway, alongside the funky re-purposed cover – that you can, of course, fill in at your discretion in a bored moment – are these cool little ideas pages:

caffe-nero-etsy-inner

The pages are fixed into the cover with a hand-stitched binding.  The only neutral-coloured thread I could find in my newly-tidy study (other than a string too thick for this notebook) was an undyed medium silk, so this is a very decadent as well as very simple binding.  I was saving the silk to dye, but what the hell!

Are you intrigued?  Buy one of these prototype ideas notebooks in my Etsy store!

This notebook includes 2 different styles of ideas pages, but Telaic Fantasy 2 is a dual-purpose notebook & zine, and comes with 6 different layouts of ideas pages for you to sample!  More finished notebooks will be added to the Etsy Store soon, in a range of sizes from mini (A7-ish), to medium (A6-ish), to large (A5-ish).  I’m planning a knitter’s notebook and a stitcher’s notebook with additional custom-printed pages (including craft-specific graph paper), and – while I’m letting cats out of bags – a notebook with a weave-able cover!  I’ll let you know when they’re ready, so check back… 🙂

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…)

D.I.Y. Weaving update

Apologies for my recent silence – I promise that despite a lack of blog posts, TangleCrafts has been a hive of activity lately.  The Etsy store has been doing a roaring trade, and it has kept me on my toes staying on top of all the orders. If you have signed up for the D.I.Y. Weaving Club, rest assured despatch of the first month’s instalment is iminent! I have spent most of today printing and packaging, and I will be visiting the postbox no later than Saturday, so your bundles of weaving goodness will be with you very shortly.  Hurrah!

bumperbundlestring[N.B.  If you missed the deadline signing up for the March D.I.Y. Weaving Club, don’t despair!  You can still buy the first zine, Telaic Fantasy #1, or you can still sign up for April (and beyond) D.I.Y. Weaving Club, including a different mystery kit.  If you just want a taster of what you might be missing, get a one-off Bumper Bundle to try it out – you won’t get quite as many goodies as a club member, but it’s still lots of fun!)

mock-upI have also added 2 new items to the Etsy store: a Weaving Bowl, and a Postcard Recycling Kit.   If you follow my blog, you’ll know I occasionally have the girls round for a ‘Crafty Day’ (the most recent one, we all pitched in to make some ‘unique’ wedding invitation cards for Trish).  I laid out a prototype weaving bowl on my first Crafty Day, and 2 of the girls dived straight in.  It’s just a fun thing to leave out in your home.  When somebody stops round for a chat, they may or may not feel inclined to weave something, but hey, it’s nice to have the option!  I love the postcard recycling kits – just add the labels to front & back of a postcard-sized piece of card and you’re ready to begin!   It’s a great way to introduce a crafty friend to the joys of weaving…

I’ve also added some new pics to the ATC and Play Your Cards Right kit pages, as I have been playing with the packaging, and it’s all changed.  Well, the content remains the same, but I’ve re-done all the booklets, and the packaging is now pre-printed (still by me) with integral pockets, rather than using labels and envelopes.  I told you all that ‘research’ into ELF really was research!  To be honest, I’m not sure if I have decreased my workload with the new packaging or not, but I’m much happier with the way it looks, so I’ve achieved something, at least…!

Last but not least, the next issue of ‘Telaic Fantasy’ is in the final stages of preparation.  Watch this space next week for a bumper issue!

So you see, I meant it when I said I’ve been busy – and that’s not the half of it!  As soon as TF2 is ‘on the shelves’ I’ll be back with some more free projects for you, as well as notebooks (yes, notebooks!), and some more new kits which I’m really excited about.  It’s an ongoing process, and a seemingly neverending flow of new ideas.   I’ll never be able to squeeze enough extra hours  into each day to get throuigh it all, but I can have fun trying!  See you soon…

How to make a re-purposed weaving needle

Hairclip needleMy usual suggestion for a makeshift weaving needle is to use a hairclip.  But what if you don’t have a hairclip to hand?  If you don’t normally use them, you might as well go out & buy a pack of needles as a pack of hairclips (although the hairclips would be cheaper).  Where this idea came from I really don’t know, but for some reason it occurred to me yesterday that if you have an old, used-up store gift card, or an expired bank or credit card, you can make a collection of weaving needles very easily, for absolutely zero cost!

giftcard-needle-pics

Woven bookcovers

Why didn’t I think of this? The notebook covers are made from corrugated cardboard (leftover packaging) and the covers are woven with scraps of fabric. The tutorial shows you step-by-step how to do it all!
Click here for this very cool project.

woven-book