Thursday, 18 September 2014

One Bite at a Time

"How do you eat a whale?" "One bite at a time!"

I am not eating a whale but I am knitting a patchwork blanket and the process feels similar... working on one square at a time, stitch by stitch, slowly making more and more until (eventually! a long time down the road!) there will be a finished blanket. 

Here are the mini squares I've knitted in the past couple of months:

Regular readers may remember that I'm knitting these small squares (which are just 10 stitches across) for a picnic blanket with a design that apparently reminds everyone of the video game Tetris :)

That little pile of squares doesn't look like much for "a couple of months" work, but I've only been knitting one or two squares here and there on evenings when I'm watching TV and don't feel like focusing on one of my sewing projects. I'm also only using "leftover" yarn for these small squares - yarn left over from knitting the bigger squares I'm making for this blanket (and other projects).

So, this particular whale is gonna take a long time to eat!

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

This Time Last Year: Super-Cute Felt Animals

This time last year, my second book - Super-Cute Felt Animals - had just been published! Yay!

Many, many thanks to everyone who has bought a copy, recommended it to a friend, reviewed it, or shared pics of what you've made from it... all of these things are very much appreciated.

It is a joy to be able to write a book but that is nothing compared to seeing it out in the world, being enjoyed by other people :)

You can "look inside" Super-Cute Felt Animals over on Amazon and read more about both my books here. Or click here for some behind the scenes snaps from when I was working on all those felt animals :)

P.S. Don't miss the FREE tutorials I shared last year to celebrate the launch of the book!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Meet My Sponsors: September

Crikey, September is flying by! It's time to meet this month's sponsors...

Blooming Felt sells 100% wool felt sheets, colourful fairtrade felt craft supplies like felt flowers and felt purses, plus other crafty goodness including buttons, ribbons, flat pad findings, glue, embroidery floss and craft books:

Georgina Giles sells handmade toys including fabric tic tac toe sets and plush animals:

At Raspberry Creek Fabrics you'll find the latest in designer fabrics, from brands like Moda, Free Spirit and Michael Miller:

At It's Organised you'll find printable gift boxes for sale, plus lots of free crafty ideas and tutorials. You can get 20% off your order this month (September 2014) with the code BUGSANDFISHES.

Little Black Duck sells fun sewing kits and digital sewing patterns:

Asking for Trouble sells illustrated stationery, accessories and gifts featuring cute characters inspired by Japanese kawaii:

Hydrangea Girl is the blog of interior-design addict Alex, here you'll find posts about her adventures in design and lots of DIY projects and tips:

Big Fish sells lots of colourful buttons and felt balls, as well as other craft supplies like pins, ribbons and mini embroidery hoops:

At Story Box you can create personalised gifts by filling a 3D frame with mini objects to represent a friend or loved one, or to celebrate a special occasion:

Joe's Toes sells thick wool felt, punched felt shapes, plus kits and supplies for making things like wool felt & leather slippers, iPad cases and luggage tags:

AnnyMay Craft Supplies specialise in eco friendly, natural and colourful supplies, and all their orders are shipped in eco friendly packaging. AnnyMay is currently running a giveaway (until the end of September) - click here for more info. You can get 10% off your order from AnnyMay's Etsy shop or website with the coupon code BUGSANDFISHES (ends 1st December).

Illustrator and printmaker Debbie Greenaway creates cards, notebooks and jewellery featuring her drawings:

At Drawing by Zara, Zara shares her illustrations accompanied by a story she's written about the characters she draws:

At Pandowdee you'll find handmade hats, bags and headbands, rag rugs, printables and more!

And Made By Lolly sells handmade felt flower brooches and other accessories:

P.S. Interested in promoting your shop, company or blog? Ad spaces on my blog start from just $5 for 30 days (that's currently about £3!) and I offer a 25% discount if you buy 3 consecutive months (90 days) of ad space at once. Your site will feature in a sponsor post like this one and I also give new sponsors a shout out over on my Facebook page.

Click here for more info re: rates and my blog's traffic, and to buy an ad.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

A Summer Day in Oxford

When people ask where I live and they've not heard of my hometown I say "it's about halfway between Oxford and London". But while I spend quite a bit of time in London I very rarely catch the train in the opposite direction to visit Oxford. The bright lights of the big city are just too tempting, I guess!

I was determined to squeeze at least one Oxford trip into this summer... and the perfect opportunity arose when the temperature shot up and I wanted a Nice Day Out that didn't involve travelling on the overheated Tube.

My day got off to a great start: the train was almost empty, so I had a lovely peaceful journey reading my book (I do most of my reading on trains these days!). After arriving in Oxford I went for a stroll around the city centre, calling in at a cafe along the way for a cuppa and a bit of yummy cake.


There are so many interesting buildings to see in the city! One of my favourites is Keble College.


Just over the road from Keble is The Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

I have totally fallen in love with this museum! There's so much interesting stuff on display, and the building itself is pretty spectacular. Each of the columns in the building is made from a different British rock and the capitals and corbels are carved to represent different plants. There's also a fabulous glass roof. Click here for a virtual tour - make sure you look up!

As well as all the usual rocks and fossils and skeletons and stuffed animals you'd expect in a Natural History museum, there's also a webcam of the swifts nesting in the tower and a delightful beehive. I also loved the touchable specimins and the scale model of the Sun, Earth and Moon.

I had lunch in the museum cafe, then headed back outdoors for another wander.


Oxford is full of intriguing doorways and gateways...


... and lots and lots and lots of bicycles! I was amazed to see so many that were just casually propped up against walls instead of locked to bike racks or railings.


I popped into Modern Art Oxford for a look at their exhibitions...


... then as I was heading to my next destination there was a bit of drama as an elderly woman ahead of me tripped and cracked her head on the pavement! Of course I rushed to help along with several other passers by - we called an ambulance and sat with her until the paramedics arrived. Luckily she wasn't too badly hurt (though she had a lump the size of an egg on her forehead!) and she said her "faith in the younger generation" had been restored by how we'd come to her aid. Aww.

After that it was definitely time for an icecream!

Icecream acquired I walked to Christ Church to visit the Meadow.


Christ Church Meadow is the perfect spot for a relaxing summer walk. The route around the Meadow takes you alongside two rivers (the Cherwell and the stretch of the Thames known as the Isis)...

...  and past cattle, ducks and people in punts.

This walk was a wonderful, quiet way to end the day. I was rather sad to have to head back into town and catch a train homewards - especially as there is nothing relaxing about travelling home in the rush hour.

Note to self: remember to go to Oxford more often!


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