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30 April 2015

DIY: Crochet Birthday Card

I decided to make a little crochet card for a colleague at work for her birthday. I think handmade items for birthdays, even if you are just getting a card, say a lot more!

Here is what you will need:

  • Card, these are pre-folded blank cards, you can purchase them in Paperchase
  • Scissors and crochet hook
  • Buttons
  • Small piece of thread and needle
  • Glue, I like this Pritt PVA as its super safe and washable etc.  It sticks yarn really well.

And of course you need your yarn, this is THE most important part! I delved into my stash of Creative Cotton yarns for this flower.

The pattern for the flower came from Attic 24 of course, where else would you turn for a lovely flower pattern? You can find the pattern right here... 

Make sure to choose some lovely contrasting vibrant colours.  You can have a lot of fun here with different combinations.  I love the blue edging to the last row of petals.

Method:

  • Follow pattern to make crochet flower and leaves, weave in ends.
  • Take some embroidery thread in nice contrast colour and sew on your button to centre of flower.
  • Take your card and play around with positioning of flower and leaves until you get it how you want.
  • Secure the flower in place.  I always put a big dab of glue onto the card where want my flower, then secure in place by pressing firmly.  Then lift up each petal in turn and put smaller dabs underneath.  
  • Lift up where you want your leaves to go and secure in place with glue.
  • The good thing about sticking the flower to the card is that is secures in your ends and you can hide the underneath.
  • I always leave my card overnight under a big pile of books to set the glue and make sure it is stuck


Ta da!!!

27 April 2015

Spotlight on... Magic Feather Designs


I am SUPER excited today to introduce a new little occasional series on the blog, called 'Spotlight on...' I will feature my very fave artists, bloggers, designer makers, crafters etc in this little space.

First up THE best blog designer out there, the one and only Jen from Magic Feather Designs... 

Please introduce yourself and your business... 

I am UK based, in not so sunny Newcastle-Upon-Tyne with my better half, the best little person we ever did make; 
our son James, and four little fur balls; Walter, Chase, Tig, Edgar (Degus!). Originally though, I am from beautiful Cumbria. I am obsessed with crafts, baking and baking accessories and general homemade amazingness. I am an occasional photographer, self confessed film trivia buff, user of too many smiley faces and exclamation marks,  and a blog design enthusiast! Oh and I'm Jo's sister too! 

Magic Feather Designs (MFD) is a small business ran from home by me, I specialise in custom blog designs and graphics for personal blogs and other small businesses.


When did MFD start? 

I set up Magic Feather Designs in 2012 as an off-shoot to my personal blog, Jenny and the Magic Feather. I started doing various designs for my own blog and friends at first, and thus my passion for CSS began with a bang! I am not a super professional at this, I am learning as I go and have no formal qualifications in graphics, HTML, or any other computer wizardry folks. Its just me, sitting here in my spare time rummaging through Google and figuring out how all this works.

How many blogs have you worked on so far?

All in all, I think I have worked on over 100 blogs now, either full designs, updates or banners etc. I work predominantly with blogger, but can offer custom headers or backgrounds etc for Wordpress to be self installed.

Why is your business called 'Magic Feather Designs’?

I used to have a personal blog called Jenny and the Magic Feather, it's still up but for now I have abandoned blogging about myself to concentrate on making other people's blogs beautiful! It took me aaaaaages to think of the name for my blog. I chose Jenny and the Magic Feather as I was, and still am, a huge dumbo fan.  I was obsessed with finding the 'magic feather' when I was little so I could fly away. I liked the idea for my blog name, so when I started designing blogs, magic feather designs just seemed like the obvious name to go for. Hardly any thought put in there at all!

MFD HQ

How did MFD start?

It started with my own blog, constantly changing the design and learning what I could do with Blogger, and then updating this very blog too!! I then offered to help Sallytangle with her new design and got more designs through word of mouth from hers. I have worked with a lot of Cumbrian bloggers which is fun, I feel like I have to collect them all!

What inspires you?

Good design! Typography! Fonts! Colour combos! Mood boards! I may have a secret Pinterest board full of inspiration….

What do you enjoy most?

I love a bloggy challenge! My favourite kinds of briefs are the big, rambling kind where clients lay all their ideas out for me and I can sift through, be inspired and work off this to achieve their perfect blog designs. 

It feels great learning new code and realising I CAN do something I thought I couldn't.  I also love people's reactions when I send them the link to their demo and first draft, I get such nice responses and kind emails back!

It's also nice having a bit of a back and forth chat - mostly very random - with clients too. People from all over the world, interested and blogging about all sorts, and people who I will never meet! It's nice to connect with that.


Can you describe a perfect client?

Ugh I am going to sound awful now but I'm a stickler for a polite email and prompt responses! I don't mind at all huge emails full of rambley ideas. One word answers or simply asking for more ideas when I have no idea why the last ones were not right, does not make me happy. Not happy at all :( I love a bit of constructive criticism! 

Do you have a fave design you have worked on?

Ooooh….. I'm pretty much in love with most of them really! It varies! Sometime I do quite a few simplistic ones in a row, which I love. Clean lines and fonts and minimal looks, and I really enjoy those designs. They I'll get a book reviewer or Crafty blogger or Mummy blog who wants something a little cuter and brighter and it's lovely to run free and be fun with a design and I'll sit back and look at the finished product and think ‘oh I just love it!’…. I couldn’t choose! (Jo - But obviously The Perfect Hiding Place is THE bestest, prettiest blog though!)


What are your business plans and goals for the future?

I am not much of goal setter ( i'll leave that to Jo!) I am truly a plod along and see where life takes me kinda person! I am really happy with the business at the moment.  I am constantly learning which keeps it fresh and fun, and designs are always evolving too, with clients wanting something a little different. So no two days are the same, which I love. I am now also a full time mummy so any expansion plans I may have been forming are on the back burner for now as my time to work is very disrupted and often short! Its a good job he’s cute! 


Thinking of a face lift for your blog? Jen comes HIGHLY recommended (and not just by her big sis, check out all these testimonials

Magic Feather Designs can be found right here... www.magicfeatherdesigns.com
Jen is on Facebook too... www.facebook.com/magicfeatherdesigns

Magic Feather Designs pricing structure could not be more simple and is super value for money! Check out Jen's packages with info on all her prices and how she works right here... here... www.magicfeatherdesigns.com/p/services



23 April 2015

A Little Hooded Crochet Bunny

I think this new Crochet Pal might just be my absolute favourite ever pal I have made! Do I say that every time? haha.  Well this time I mean it! It was quite hard letting this lovely little bunny go to be honest, but this one went to a very good home, my friend Anna who is about to have a little baby. So I'm happy bunny has gone to a nice place anyway.

I chose the colours of this little bunny to go with Anna's baby colour scheme.  She has chosen yellow and grey for the nursery and she does not know the sex of the baby until s/he pops out so yellow and grey are lovely neutral colours too. The yarn I used is Lullaby by Stylecraft, which is just great to use and the nicest yarn I think for baby clothes, blankets and toys. It is super soft and feels lovely, really nice to work, relatively cheap, washable... what more could you want from a yarn? The yellow is called Primrose and the grey is called Misty.  You can buy Lullaby right here... 

If you have been a reader for a while and know your crochet you might recognise the pattern as the amazing work of Luvly Gurumi, you can find them here on Esty I certainly can't come up with a pattern this amazing. I love Luvly Gurumi patterns, have purchased most of them now and had a go at quite a few.
You crochet long tails onto the hood that can be tied underneath bunnies chin, aw!

The pattern does not actually have a tail included but I added one in, because bunnies have tails, duh! Also this little tail here handily covers up the little join where I swapped colours! hehe.

Side view, you can see how lovely the little hood looks. Also my hand acts as a good scale guide so you can see the size of the bunny, perfect little size, work so well as baby gifts.

Big face! hehe.  I NEVER use safety eyes for little toys that I know are going to be hugged and squeezed and sucked by little bablies, they are just not 'safe' at all.  Always embroider your eyes on.  I simply used some black cotton yarn here.  For the little mouth I used pink embroidery thread that I have already in my craft stash.

I like to add the little painted cheeks, it just finishes off the face so well.  I made sure to pick child proof, water based, no toxic paint here in case bunny does make it into baby's mouth!

Here you can see the little ties of the hood loose.

The pattern ensures that little gaps are left for the ears, and the hood lifts over them if you want to take it off. LOVE that little attention to detail, sreeeeam!

And bunny minus hood! Still super cute, but I think the hood looks best.
What do you think of my little bunny efforts? Do you have any craft patterns that you regularly use for gifts for babies?

20 April 2015

Packaging Handmade Crafts

I get very excited when I manage to sell a few little Crochet Pals and other little bits and bobs I have handmade. I don't sell crafts to make any money (I doubt very much I have made any sort of a profit!) I do it for the love of crafting and because it is my hobby.  I love making little Crochet Pals but really I don't want a house full of them for me  Making to sell for friends and friends of friends etc improves my skills and is super fun. But probably the most fun part is packaging off my little handmade beauties to their new homes.... squeeeal! Think of the stationery opportunities!

Check out the cutest little polka dot paper sweet bags I have, they can be purchase from Amazon, here. Those bunny stickers are just the cutest! Find them on Etsy here  and the Thank you stickers also on Etsy, here.

I cannot BELIEVE that I have not yet mentioned my amazing business cards on my blog yet! what!? My amazing Sister designed these for me to go with my blog design and we ordered them from Moo. They are superb quality, really thick and I just adore those rounded corners. I feel very important having business cards (don't give many out but you know they are there just in case! lol!)

So one side mentions my crafty stuff I sell, with link to my Facebook page, where most of my business comes from.

The other side showcases my blog of course!
I always add a little handmade tag onto my makes, this way I can add some details onto the reverse of the tag.  I printed up some stickers, using just a normal printer and laser labels with my blog name, address and contact details on. Mostly my Crochet Pals are given as gifts and I offer to send direct to gift recipient all nicely gift wrapped, so the tag acts as a little advert for me.

I also add a little stamp to all my tags, this fantastic stamp was made for me and given as a gift from my sister. Love it! Not sure where it is from, but I am sure you can get them made on Etsy if you do some searching. Then I add a little washi tape, any excuse for washi tape!

A little pal all ready to be packaged up.  There will be more on this super cutey in a forthcoming blog post...

And the final packaged pal, in his cute sweet bag stuck down with the little thank you sticker.  I couldn't decide which sticker to go for on this package so put on a bunny on too.
I love making an effort to package my crafts well, and I just LOVE love love getting beautifully wrapped packages from designer makers when you buy from Etsy etc.  You just don't get that attention to detail from shops and large suppliers, but it makes all the difference I think for repeat custom.
Have you bought anything recently that came beautifully packaged?

16 April 2015

Crochet Baby Lion Slippers

My littlest Nephew Baby James had his special Naming Day recently and of course I crocheted! I made him a little lion, you can see that blog post here...  but I didn't just stop there, oh no no no... he HAD to have matching crochet Lion slippers to go with his lion toy! SCREEEEAM! Lion slippers, just about the cutest thing ever (Not nearly as cute as baby James of course!)

I used the same yarn as the lion so they go beautifully together, some Sirdar Snuggly Baby DK. I came across the pattern on good ol' Pinterest, but of course! I just knew my sister would love them, so it had to be done.

You can find the pattern here on Etsy by Two Girls Patterns they have loads of other patterns for super cute baby booties, give their shop a 'favourite'. The PDF pattern costs just £3.82 for the PDF instant download and it is super well written and easy to understand. I love supporting small crochet business by paying for patterns. A lot of hard work and effort goes into creating beautiful crochet patterns, so please don't just hunt out free patterns all the time, its just a few pounds and rewards the designer for their hard efforts.

The soles of the little slippers are a contrast colour, super cute.

The wee tails are simply a small amount of yarn tied into a chain loop. Really simple idea but effective, makes such a cute tail!


These teeny slippers were such fun to work on, I was chuckling to myself whilst making them because I could just see my sister's face when she opens them.... that's the best bit about present giving! And her face didn't disappoint, I hope she liked them?

Well somebody liked them anyway, look at that smile! HOW happy is super cutey baby James to be wearing his crochet lion slippers? Look there's the lion toy too! aw!


What's the cutest little crochet patterns you have come across lately? DO tell me in the comments below.

13 April 2015

Monarch of the Glen... Part 2

So recently Mark and I, along with some friends made a little trip up to Scotland to enjoy the most lovely weekend in a beautiful big house, The Buchan.  You can read all about it and see the fab photos on part 1 right here. As promised here are the inside shots of the house.  I struggle with inside photography when the weather is not great, plus its a very old, dark house, so the photos are not perfect....

The kitchen. Nice and functional, with everything you could possibly need in it! We brought pizzas and nibbly food stuff, but there were so many pots and pans and baking trays and all sort of cake trays etc, kind of wished we had done some real baking/cooking in here.

That little window was super handy, opens into the conservatory, right above hot tub so great to shout through to whoever in kitchen to pass you a drink! haha.

I think this little corner was my fave spot of the house (well apart from hot tub of course!) This is inside the turret on ground floor.

The downstairs guest bedroom.  There were 4 bedrooms altogether to sleep 8 people.  All the bedrooms had stunning views of course and were really nice and light and cosy feeling.


The living room, this was the darkest room so quite hard to get a photo. Check out the huge stove fireplace thing, Mark loved it. That was responsible for heating whole house, so had to be kept lit.

There were some fab pieces of furniture in the house, not least this old thing, looked very very old and was so big and heavy!


The upstairs turret window. This had view right across to the little access road and to the front gate so we could see when people wee coming up the drive way.  When waiting for our friends we got so excited running 'to the turret' every 10 mins to try and spot cars!

Upstairs guest bedroom, this one has three beds.

Stag's head. As much as I don't love dead animal head 'trophies' hanging up on walls, I feel that they do add that required Scottish traditional feel. The Buchan was quite plain in decoration.  As an old hunting lodge they could have added a few more old Scottish hints such as tartan bed covers etc. I would have liked that! hehe.

Upstairs corridor, back to turret window.  Straight ahead is a little bathroom, shower room to left, to right is the master bedroom and this room has an en-suite, then just to left is smallest guest bedroom with 1 bed.


Master bedroom, I failed to get any better photos than this, but was a lovely big light room.

And of course THE best room in the house, hot tub room! I failed again... didn't remember to take any photos in the daytime of the hot tub and inside the conservatory! oops!  But look here's Mark drinking a beaker of milk in the hot tub, such a rock star!;-P We may have also overdone it with the bubbles!

Our weekend ended with a little drive to nearby Wigtown, which is a tiny little place full of bookshops.  There was a quaint little tea room of course (Oh how I love a quaint tea room!) we had big scones with jam and cream, yum yum! omg, I could SO eat that again right now... droool!