Craftingspiration: Craft Kits

craft kits keyringI am addicted to magazines, especially craft ones.   There are always new things to learn and people to be inspired by.   I can’t pass by a WH Smith or a supermarket magazine display without trying to find an excuse to buy something.   This is on top of the titles I subscribe to that handily pop through the letterbox every month.   I love the ‘thump’ they make on the doormat. I could get the electronic versions posted to my tablet, but then I’d miss the free kits that are usually attached to the front and I’d feel cheated. christmas cross stitch housesSometimes the kits stay in the storage box (erm, read boxes) for some time.   These Christmas themed houses were from a Cross Stitcher Magazine kit a few years ago. My box of kits is where I go when I need a small portable craft for a trip.   Much as I’d like to take my sewing machine with me everywhere I go, it’s hardly practical (and I think husband would protest a bit too), however a small envelope containing thread, a needle and a bit of aida is easy to pop in a bag.   Just remember to stick the instructions in as well!travelcard holder Kits are also good if you want to achieve something quickly.   This travelcard holder from Mollie Makes (again over a year old!) was knocked up in less than 30 minutes on the morning I went into London on the train.   It was the crafty hit I needed in the middle of the school holidays.   A bit of time for me.
keyringSometimes it’s nice to try something new.   Having a kit on the front of a magazine has shown me the basics of how to make these keyrings without having to source all the bits.
cake cross stitchNot all the kits I collect* (*hoard) are from magazines.   I subscribe to the Crafty Creatives boxes and this cupcake cross stitch was a quick, sit-in-front-of-the-TV-and-craft project finished in an evening.
kumihimo braceletAnother Crafty Creatives kit.   I wouldn’t have tried kumihimo if it wasn’t included in one of the boxes.   But didn’t this used to be called Looby Loos when I was a kid?   Albeit with plastic strands instead of fabric ones!

What do you do with your craft kits?   Are you a hoarder or do you get them done before the next issue comes out?decoupage kit tree stagdecoupage tree stag

Dear August…

dear august roses

Oh August.   Our relationship started so well.   You gave me time to start blogging again, I started creating, I got things done.
keyringMy nephew came to stay and then later on there was the celebration of his Christening.
baby nephewchristening cardHusband’s birthday came and went, and the Craftyguidelets’ vision of a sailing themed birthday cake was realised.
birthday cakeThe Craftyguidelets and I found 38 Books About Town book benches in 3 different areas of London, did some sightseeing, fell in love with the impressionists in the National Gallery, and completed the summer reading challenge at the library.   Oh August, you kept us busy.

But towards the end it went wrong.   A trying extended-family holiday culminated in little Craftyguidelet breaking her arm and spending 2 nights in hospital.   hospitalHow could you let that happen August?   My little girl looked so tiny on that big bed as they wheeled her away for surgery under general anaesthetic.
hydrangeasYou brought me flowers – hydrangeas to remind me of our lovely holiday in Cornwall and roses from husband for our wedding anniversary.
anniversary rosesBut it’s too late August.   The pain of the hospital stay and seeing my poor little girl’s deformed arm, and now the huge cast that she has to carry around is too much.

It’s over August.   I’ve decided to give September a go.   The Craftyguidelets will be back at school and my volunteering with Guiding, the WI and school starts up again.    I’ll need to be busy preparing Craftyguider for Christmas, as well as starting my own preparations.   I’m also joining the Trefoil Guild and hoping to start my Voyage Award.

So long, and perhaps I’ll see you around some time in the future.

Craftyguider x


Smash Books

smash book title
One of my many crafting loves is scrapbooking.   I enjoy the process of selecting a photo, working out a layout, choosing the papers, thinking up a title, adding journalling and enjoying the result.smash book I am...

A version of this process which doesn’t take as much time and finesse is smash booking.   Whereas a lot of preparation is needed for a scrapbook page, a smash book is more of a ‘bung it in as you go along’ type of process.   You go with the flow, pasting in photos, leaflets, ticket stubs, feathers, stickers, notes, new year resolutions and anything else that will glue (or usually in my case, attach with washi tape) on a page.   A smash book doesn’t have to be pretty or perfect.   Just ‘smash’ your elements in.   There are no rules.
smash book lino printI have a couple of smash books by K & Company which have preprinted pages that you can either use to theme your page, or you can just cover them with your mementos.

smash book St IvesThis year’s summer holiday was to Cornwall, and I took my smash book supplies with me to journal the day’s events each evening before the memories faded.   It is much more portable than a scrapbook, and all I had to do when I got back was to add a few photos.   Job done!
smash book Tintagel we're outta hereI have a pinterest board on smash books and scrap books.   Why don’t you have a look!

Follow Louise Craftyguider’s board Smash Books and Scrapbooks on Pinterest.

We’re Jamming – Craftingspiration

jam titleSometimes creativity and vision leave me.   I sit there and procrastinate and end up distracted.   When this happens, I need to find a way of focussing and finding some inspiration.

As well as my encyclopaedic stash of craft materials, I also have a crafting library to rival Amazon.   It’s time to dive in and actually use them.   Cue a rummage on the shelves to find something to create.

Good Housekeeping Preserves bookI’ve had this Good Housekeeping Preserves book for many years.   I think it may have been a purchase from one of those book clubs that leave piles of books in workplaces.   As I left my last workplace about 8 years ago before working from home and raising my girls, it’s been on the shelf for a long time!

In all that time, I’ve only made one recipe – a rather yummy rhubarb and ginger conserve to use up a glut of rhubarb from my garden one year.   As a WI Vice President, I feel it is my duty to have more adventures in the world of jam.9

fruit and sugar900g of strawberries, 1kg of jam sugar and 1/2 a lemon later and ta-dah!
strawberry jamResult – 3.5 jars of very yummy strawberry jam.   I can hold my head up high in the WI, and I’ve rediscovered a book I’d forgotten I had.   Flicking through, there are lots of recipes for jams, marmalades, pickles, drinks and sauces to try.

Anyone for lemon curd?

February’s Mission

Such fun pink badgeAside from my back going twang and the rest of the family going down with the lurgy, January was a very positive month for me.   I got lots done, I started decluttering, I’ve been crafting, I’ve gained new skills and things are going well.

I need to carry on this positivity and keep the momentum going.   I still have more sorting out to do, particularly my email, and there are always crafty WIPs to finish.   I want to set myself another couple of goals for February.
Firstly I want to get my Etsy shop relaunched.   I set it up in February last year, listed one item and then abandoned it.   Obviously it’s more advantageous for me to attract business through my Craftyguider site as I don’t have to pay fees to list there, but I hope that Etsy will help me reach more people.   Hopefully by the end of the month I’ll have a selection of products listed.
trainersSecondly I want to get fitter and start losing weight again.   I’m supposed to be following a Slimming World plan but my weight fluctuates up and down because I’m not strict enough.   I want to shed the last bit of weight I need to shift, and also get a bit more exercise, in particular, starting pilates to strengthen my back so it won’t go twang again!
Camp BlanketAnd finally, I am going to finish my mending, and sewing badges onto the Craftyguidelets’ badge blankets.   I might even get a couple onto mine, but I am 7 years behind so I don’t anticipate on completing this one!

What do you hope to achieve in February?

January Review

And just like that, it’s the 31st January!   One month of 2014 has passed and the next 11 months are stretched out ahead, full of promise.   On the whole it’s been a good January for me.   I’ve felt a lot better (apart from putting my back out in the last few days), I’ve made decisions on what I want to do with the business and my blogging, and I’m in a positive frame of mind.
circle SBSJanuary started really well for me.   A couple of days after my birthday, I won a retweet from Theo Paphitis, and my twitter feed exploded with new followers and good wishes.
handmade birthday card flowers and butterflyI managed to get my craft on and make cards, get some scrapbook layouts made, finish some decoupage and get some sewing done.   It’s the most creative I’ve been for a long time.
crochet samplerI’ve also started crochet lessons which is something I’ve wanted to do for a couple of years now.   My doubles and trebles lesson was a bit more successful than my tea gloves lesson.   Perhaps it’s because I don’t drink tea, I just don’t have the tea gloves gene in me.
paper storageProbably my greatest achievement is to get more organised.   My magazine mountain is now a foothill, and several WIPs have been completed.   I’ve got a long way to go still, but with each mini breakthrough, I feel more weight coming off my shoulders.

How was your January?

Handmade Update

decopage bake sign


I’ve had a very productive few days.   I have organised, crafted, planned Brownie badges with eldest Craftyguidelet (Craft badge is first!) and decluttered.   However this morning I managed to throw my back out.   I was emptying the waste paper basket of all things!
decopage basicsAs we are having some work done on the house, I couldn’t go back to bed so I have been stuck at the kitchen table with my ibuprofen and heat pad.   I did manage to get my decoupage papers and mod podge out and I’ve managed to complete my “bake” sign for my kitchen.   I used the Hobbycraft Deco Mache papers which are really pretty, and chose the colours to go with my handmade place mats which use Cath Kidston spotty fabric.

What I really needed to do today was photograph and list my new handmade cards.
decoupage flowersOn Sunday I had a play with some Anna Griffin papers.   Look at the wonderful vintage images of flowers I was working with.   I’ve got a huge pile of cards to list for all sorts of occasions so keep an eye on the website.

This is one of my favourites.   I love the blue tones on this birthday card.
handmade birthday card flowers and butterflyI also used some of my craft themed supplies.   This one uses a Sizzix die for the mannequin and some swirl dies that I bought a long time ago and have never used.
handmade card mannequin detailI have also been doing my crochet homework.   Regular readers would’ve read about my lesson with Jean-Mary at Betty Makes where she managed to tame my disobedient crochet hands into yarn holding, treble making, crochet wannabees.
crochet samplerStill a bit wobbly, but look!   It’s crochet!   I haven’t counted my stitches or rows, but I think the technique is coming.
crochet edgingI’ve even tried the edging.   It’s loops!   The pattern became a bit of a foreign language after this so it’s not got much further.   Jean-Mary says I need to treble in my loops.   Hmmm.   Might get a translation and a few pointers tonight if my back will let me go to my lesson.

I’ve also managed to keep up my decluttering in January.   I’m still on track with my challenge to recycle a magazine a day.   The pile is going down.   I won’t have finished a WIP a week though unless I get a sudden surge of creativity in the next few days, but I am getting more organised.
paper storageMy loose crafting papers were in a box that was too heavy to get down from the shelf every time I made a card.   I managed to clear a space in a filing cabinet by turfing out some obsolete Guiding paperwork, and put the papers into files by colour.   I might actually use them now!   I’ve also sorted through my 12″x12″ scrapbooking papers and managed to do 3 scrapbook layouts.   No pics as I generally use photos of the Craftyguidelets in my scrapbooking, but it’s been really nice to have a look through images of them as babies (yes, I’m that far behind!).

It’s been a really productive January, so hopefully my back will clear up quickly and I can carry on.   I’ve got plans for February too to keep 2014 as a positive year for change.

Linking with Handmade Harbour’s Handmade Monday.

Lili of the Valley Stamp Cards

The beginning of 2011 was busy for babies amongst family and friends.   One friend’s little boy has already celebrated his 3rd birthday, and two more are coming up in the next week. This gave me the excuse to use my Lili of the Valley stamps.   They are such fantastic quality stamps, and always give a clear image to work with.

LOTV Pirate Card


Lili of the Valley produce really cute images and I love this little pirate making his dog walk the plank.   Because I was colouring the image with promarkers, I used my memento ink pad so the outline didn’t bleed.   I mat and layered with some nautical papers from my stash and accented with a starfish and a Craftwork Cards sentiment.

LOTV Girl and Cakes Card


The colours on this card were inspired by the background paper.   The cute little girl and her cupcakes were again coloured in using promarkers and accented with an aqua grosgrain polka dot ribbon.

I still have another 3 year old to make a card for next month, and I’m sure I’ll make up some more for other occasions during the year.   I have some lovely wedding and baby images in particular that I love, and I might just treat myself to a few new designs.

Linking to Handmade Monday and the Lili of the Valley Monthly Challenge.

Beginners Crochet Class at Betty Makes

Red floral crochet hook roll

For the last few years I have wanted to learn to crochet.   I own about 10 hooks for some reason, I’ve got the books, I’ve made a crochet hook roll, but I’ve never progressed very far.

A couple of years ago I met up with Jean-Mary (@meanyjar) at a craft show.   We had been tweeting for some time, and after some retail therapy, we sat down for some lunch.   After a chat, she set about trying to teach me some crochet.   To say my hands were not designed for crochet was an understatement.   Just holding the yarn was a problem, holding the hook wasn’t much better, and then moving the hook…you get the picture.

Despite this experience, Jean-Mary went on to open Betty Makes to teach her crafty skills to others.   I signed up for her crochet course which takes students from beginners, learning new skills and stitches, through to the granny square.

Lesson one started with picking up a small sample of crochet already started by Jean-Mary and working doubles into it.   Having someone else’s stitches to work into was a lot easier than my first foray where my tight foundation chain was not having any of it.   A couple of rows of doubles later, (and holding the yarn properly for the first time ever!) I was doing trebles.   The satisfaction as my wonky, uneven mini sample grew was fantastic.

beginner crochet sampler


Next we moved on to working from a pattern.   I have discovered that it is hard to count to 29 when you are busy chatting and drinking tea, but my pot holder is growing nicely, albeit having gone down to 23 stitches somewhere!

beginner crochet pot holder


The cost of the course includes the hook, pattern and wool, so I have 2 weeks to practice my neatness and counting at home, before I go back and learn more.   Next lesson includes making some tea gloves.   Depending on my technique, I’ll either wear them myself or end up giving them to the kids if I drop too many stitches!

Are you learning a new skill in 2014?

#Economyblockalong Quilt

scrap bag economyblockalongI have a lot of fabric.   I have confessed before to my addiction; I see something, I like it, and I’ll buy a metre or two because “I’ll make something from it” and then never do.   This is a photo of my scraps bag which are defined as smaller than a fat quarter but bigger than a 5cm square.   I use a lot to make mirrors, tissue holders, and rings amongst other things, but it’s still full to bursting.

I read on Instagram about the #economyblockalong on @sewjustinesew’s feed and spotted an opportunity for a fabric stashbuster, a step up for my current patchwork skills, and a community feel to my crafting should I need support.   There is an excellent tutorial on Red Pepper Quilt‘s blog, but I thought I would drag out my Sizzix quilting die’s that I bought some time ago to help me cut the pieces out.

sizzix quilt dies economyblockalong


I found 3 dies that gave me a vague approximation of an economy block and made a trial square.

sausage dog quilt economyblockalongYes, I know it’s not ironed, and it still needs trimming, but it’s a trial, OK!   In a true economy block, the corners of the centre square should touch the centres of the ‘diamond’ square, so I’m going to have to weigh up the convenience of using my dies to cut out rather than doing it the conventional way.

Is anyone else doing the #economyblockalong?

Linking to the Handmade Monday linky party.