Thursday, 11 October 2018

Crochet cacti and pumpkins

Hello dear friends and readers!



So its been officially autumn for a couple of weeks now but it seems that noone has told the people in charge of the weather. Yes, the leaves are changing colour and the berries are out, but the temperature is still lovely and warm, and I personally am still in tshirts, cropped trousers and sandals - just lovely.

























Here at Emerald Cottage we have had lots of lurgy. Little Tomboy had a sore throat and a day off school. Miss 13 had a hacking cough and a few days off. Mr 15 had it really badly, off school for almost 2 weeks - not good in your GCSE year - and is still coughing loads. Mr EC has been off work (obvs at death's door with man-flu) this week with it and still isn't great. But yes, you guessed right, yours truly has remained uninfected thus far. I did think this morning that my throat felt a bit scratchy but so far its not evolved into anything.

Having MR EC at home is very unsettling. I find it so hard to crack on with whatever I need to do when other people are milling around the house (how dare they! you'd think it was their house too!!) and consequently the last week or two I've felt very unproductive and a bit twitchy to be honest. My mental health always feels like a very delicate balance so I'm trying to get some crafting done each day to keep me sane. Literally. Having said that, I have had lots of orders coming in, and looking back at my photos, I have done a fair bit.

































I had some further orders for crochet cacti - in fact those orders are still rolling in, I had another person ask for one yesterday. My cacti are made following a pattern from an old issue of Simply Crochet magazine. One of the orders was for 2 cacti and a scrabble art picture. I love working out how the words will interlink.



I've also made a couple of baby sloths, this time with a pattern from The Twisted Crocheter. Isn't he so cute with this little felt heart 💓



A lady ordered four purses from me, she wants them personalised, which I have yet to do (that's my next job!).



I've made around 12 orders in the last two weeks. Doesn't sound a lot but its just about the right amount for me. I really enjoy packaging them up to send out.



Every order goes out in a brown bag with a handwritten thankyou note, and a little heart sweetie 💗

I've been joining in with Vlogtober - where you vlog every day for the month of October. I decided to participate in order to focus getting on with crafting, but its been quite hard to do, especially since there have been poorly people hanging round at home and I don't want them to hear me LOL Weekends are hard for the same reason, and then I have my Mum coming for a few days next week so that will be tricky too! Oh well, I'm sure I'll manage. You can find my vlogs here on my youtube channel if you fancy a listen. The last few are very boring - sorry - due to the pesky ill people - but I'm hoping they might get a bit ore interesting again next week!

I've also been participating on Inktober, over on my instagram. The idea is to do drawing every day throughout October. I've LOVED doing this. I am not an expert artist by ANY stretch of the imagination, but I do love drawing, I just normally don't find the time. I still don't find the time really, I know a lot of people are spending upwards of an hour on their daily drawings, I only spend about 5- 10 minutes on each of mine. And it probably shows. But I don't care, I'm enjoying it, its getting me in the habit of drawing every day, and that was my purpose of joining in. Here are a few of my favourite pictures I've done :













































I've also started to think abut making some necklaces. In the summer I went on a Dorset Button making workshop - I'll do a blog post about it one of these days - but the idea of  plain dorset button can be extended to something slightly more intricate. I made this necklace, and hope to do a few more to sell in my Etsy shop.



If you look closely you will see some little beads on the beige area of the pendant, they are hard to notice in the photo but are lovely and twinkly in real life. My Mum and my friend both have birthdays coming up so I think I will make them a necklace each.

Speaking of my Etsy shop, its still there but its empty! I've had so many orders, mostly from my facebook page, that I haven't had time to make up some stock for the page. Its all good though, stocking the shop gives me plenty to do when the orders go quiet, as I'm sure they will. Oh and I've also signed up for 3 craft fairs before Christmas, so I have lots to do to make stock for those too.

My final thing to tell you is that I've been making loads of these little pumpkins, again for orders.



They can be made with or without faces, but the faces have proved very popular! I really need to make a few for home too :)



In the midst of all these orders I've obviously had the ill people to look after, school runs to do for the non-ill people, we've been going around looking at sixth-form colleges for Mr 15, which reminds me I MUST NOT FORGET to fill out secondary school application for Little Tomboy (poor 3rd child always forgotten about ....), and getting organised for my Mum's visit next week i.e. making the house vaguely presentable - ok I confess I haven't actually started that yet. That's the job for the weekend - fun! Not! Hopefully even with Mum's visit I will have time to do some crafting, so watch this space for more :)

Have a lovely weekend, and a lovely week next week, I probably won't be back here til Mum has been and gone.
Bye for now,
Jilllxxxxxxxxx

Saturday, 29 September 2018

Ladies Who Latte

Hello dear readers and friends!
How are we all doing this week ? I've had a super busy week, both with home stuff and craft stuff. I dug my watercolours out last night and did this little autumnal painting. Its pleasing me greatly as I haven't done much water-colouring for a very long time. I've been watching some youtube videos on arty pursuits in general this week, and its really inspired me. I followed this tutorial to paint this picture.

 

Water colouring suits me well as you can cover up mistakes very easily by blobbing on some more paint! I also did the simple blend below, I want to start bullet-journalling (well, journalling of some sort anyway) and thought a quotation on this would look lovely in the start of my notebook.



Its fair to say that autumn is well under way, the weather is so changeable - last weekend was torrential rain -which is perfect conditions for staying in an organising your yarn stash ....



I must not buy any more. Really, I musn't. This isn't even half of it.



... and then this weekend the sun is out, the sky is blue, and its beautiful outside. There's a freshness in the air, but its still lovely and sunny. Which makes Little Tomboy's Saturday morning football match so much more enjoyable. Here she is sloping off the pitch at the end of the math, in a sulk because they didn't win. They didn't lose either, but they should've won. Oh well, there's always next week.



Last week I went to a small business networking event called "Ladies Who Latte". There were about 15 of us there, and the idea is we all sit round the table - just a coffee table, it's very relaxed - and you each have a minute to talk about yourself and your business. Then after everyone has done their bit you can mingle around and talk to the other business owners. The variety of businesses represented was amazing - there was a hypnotherapist, a couple of life-coaches, a massage-therapist, a lawyer, a jewellery rep, a yoga teacher and a feng-shui specialist, to name but a few. I took along a basket of my goodies to show, and this got passed around while I was doing my little spiel. My expectations were just to maybe hand out a couple of business cards, I really didn't think I would get much out of it, however I was blown away by the sales and orders that were initiated just from that one meeting. So the feng-shui lady asked me if I could crochet a cactus for her to give her daughter who can't keep plants. Can't as in she always kills them, so |I was told. Funnily enough I had dug out a cactus pattern a couple of weeks ago while thinking of ideas for things to sell in my Etsy shop. Of course I said yes, no problem - more on that later in this post! A lady who is a "Forever Living" (aloe products) rep asked me to make a dozen cards for her team, and she bought a card there and then too.



.... and the lawyer lady bought a coin purse and a card. All I invested really was my time - there is a £2.50 charge for the coffee and my friend who I drove there paid for mine. So I think I got a pretty good return on my investment, and it was definitely worth going. And really worth taking some of my products along - I wasn't expecting to actually sell anything there, so that was awesome. Its a once a month meeting, and I will definitely be going to the next one.

To get back to the cactus though. So I picked out the cactus pattern that I'd found and made a couple to show Mrs Feng-Shui.




Aren't they cute! Mr and Mrs Cactus! I must admit I a totally in love with these 💚



I posted some pictures on my instagram and my facebook, and the response was amazing! Soooo many more requests for crochet cacti, its been a bit bonkers. I had made the ones above out of random bits of stash wool and of course didn't have any more left, so the next lot were made up in a different colour.



The lady that wanted them asked for yellow flowers, and she was happy with the darker green, as they are still just so cute.



However, I prefer the lighter colour so I had to go and buy more green yarn. Yes, you heard that right. Despite the ridiculous amount of yarn in my stash, I still didn't have the right green. The new one I had to buy in is Stylecraft Special DK in Grass Green. Its very similar to the lighter ones above, I have no photos as yet but suffice it to say its been like a cactus factory in my craft room this week - I'll have more pics next week.

And that, people, has been my week. Oh, one more thing is that I have uploaded a new vlog to Youtube, you can find it here.

Right, I need to go and finish some more cacti now - I'll be posting more pictures on my instagram I'm sure, so watch out for those.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend,
Jillxo

Saturday, 22 September 2018

Wednesday Words

Hello dear friends and readers!

I have just read this post on Christina's blog. I love reading her wordy day posts and have, several times, written such a post of my own, but I've always given up as it doesn't seem to read very well - I always think who would be interested in my waffle anyway ? But I'm feeling inspired today to give it a go so here goes ...

My alarm goes off at 6.45am and I VERY begrudgingly get up, I am a night owl, definitely not a morning person, and every morning is a struggle. Having said that, all I do is waken the teenagers, make sure they actually get up, and then I go back to bed and just rest or sometimes doze. I find that just staying out of everybody's way works best for us, they just get on and get themselves breakfast and get ready, then head off to school.




Hubby drives Mr Teenager to school, Little Miss walks. They all leave about 7.45. Usually at 7.30 I get up again (as it were) and get Little Tomboy out of bed and getting ready. She leaves a bit later and has started walking on her own, she feels very grown up. Its an easy walk with one road to cross at a pedestrian crossing, and of course there are hundreds of other kids and parents all walking the same way. This week however she is away on a school residential for the week so I don't have that deadline to get her out of bed, and I lie on a little longer - how decadent!



I finally get up properly at about 8.30am and take the dog for a walk. Its a beautiful fresh morning, the afternoons have been pretty warm this week but the morning has that lovely fresh early morning feel that comes with the onset of autumn. I try to take some photos of Pixie but she is determined to not look at the camera.


Once we get back, and I'm showered and have had a coffee, I get the first wash of the day on. Why is the laundry basket always full and beyond overflowing ??? Are there secret extra people living in my house ? I sit down to do a bit of work on my website. I'm doing a mini revamp, I want to have a front page with a banner that matches my Etsy shop banner, and links to my blog and my shop. I struggle, argue and fight with various website builders for about 2 hours. Why is this so difficult ? I worked in IT for about 16 years for heaven's sake. I give up and decide to tackle my other job of the day which is to work out how I can ship a couple of my shop's items without charging the shipping fee, as they are being purchased by people collecting locally. This time I argue with Etsy and google for another hour. Every google search points me to the Etsy Sell app, which I install on my phone, and try to follow the instructions google gives me. I just can't see how to do it. I'm getting so frustrated and my brain hurts.

Hubby phones and rescues me by taking me to lunch. We go to our local Costa, which is in the cinema but is actually more popular than the cinema itself. In fact its so popular that its undergoing the second expansion in the two or so years since it opened.  I have a nicoise salad which is yummy, but am very disappointed to see there is no carrot cake. I'm quite addicted to Costa carrot cake, it is AMAZING. I assume they are baked en masse so I'm always impressed by how delicious it is. However the fact that they have none its probably a good thing for my waistline (not that I have one, hmph).



I return to my desk and resume the no-shipping search. Finally I learn that the instructions I kept seeing on every google search result, was for functionality that was removed last March. Marvellous. And then the penny drops that all I have to do is amend the listing to have shipping set to zero. I'm so annoyed at wasting so much time on something that turned out to be so easy. I get my orders packaged ready for collection, and then I finish up a unicorn that I'm making for a customer. It's looking very cute and I'm feeling really pleased to get it done, as you all know I am a serial non-finisher so actually completing anything is a Big Thing.



As usual my afternoon, which is very short, is over all too soon. I have to leave at 2.30pm to pick up Mr Teenager at 3pm. He's been complaining that we don't have enough fruit for days now. We had some strawberries that were fine but past their date, and he refuses to eat them. Similarly for oranges and apples. So, rather huffily, I resign myself to a trip to Sainsbury's on the way home. The traffic is horrendous due to perpetual roadworks, and by the time we get near to Sainsbury's I am very grumpy indeed.  I hate food shopping. Even little food shops. Just so tedious. However, the chemist we use is next to Sainsbury's so I pop in to get some medication that they owe us. Mr Teenager is on two lots of medication. One is a bit unusual, and noone else in the area seems to use it, so every time we need it the chemist has to order it in. They order it in packs of 30 tablets but the prescription is only for 28, so there are always a few leftover at the chemist. They usually give us what they have in, and then owe us the rest. Its been so long though since I was supposed to collect them, (we had got double at some point that we've managed to eke them out), that now it is time to request the new repeat prescription for the next lot. This job in particular makes me realise how quickly time passes, I seem to be doing this job every week, or at least that's how it feels. The chemist is fab though, and will text me when the meds are in.
In Sainsbury's we stock up on the fruit and veg, and, as we have a school meeting to attend tonight, and time is limited, I decide to be lazy and buy ready-meals for tea.

We get home about 3.45pm and I realise we only have an hour until we have to go out again. Mr Teenager is hungry - what's new - and eats his meal straightaway while I put away the rest of the shopping. I feel really twitchy as I hate waiting for it to be time to go out somewhere, so I decide to just sit and mess about on my phone for a bit. Little Miss arrives home and we chat about her day for about a nanosecond before she disappears off to her room.

Despite telling Mr Teenager to be ready at 4.45pm, I am still yelling "HURRY UP" up the stairs at 5pm, when hubby arrives home, a bit late (like father, like son), to pick us up. We have to sit in the miserable traffic again on the way back to school. The meeting is with Mr Teenager's tutor to discuss moving forward to Sixth Form, and then a talk by the Head of Year about key dates, exams and so on. I spend the whole meeting in a state of befuddlement at how we have come to be at this stage of our lives. The Assistant Head put it very well: "you've strapped yourself into the roller-coaster and its only going to get worse". Yep, that's how I feel. The whole GCSE, ALevel, Uni thing seems far too grown up for me to be dealing with for my children. Is it really nearly 16 years since Mr Teenager was born ? 16 years ? Seems like the blink of an eye.

On the way home, in the car, we somehow get onto the subject of wives/partners. Mr Teenager says he wants to be absolutely sure that he only has children with the right person and he'd want to wait a long time to make sure the person is right for him. Hubby says to him " don't spend too long looking, there comes a time when you just have to settle for what you've got"!!!. Of course I splutter and laugh, and hubby digs himself further into a hole "you don't have to wait for the perfect person" etc etc. All very funny :)

We get home and I'm tired from concentrating on the laptop half the day and then trying to be a sensible, responsible parent at the school meeting. I don't really fancy my prawn linguini and decide instead to have a cinnamon and raisin bagel - mmmmmm, so yummy.

We're home at around 6.45pm and get the usual high energy from the dog - it is great to be so loved :)  I decide to have a bit of a play with my new badge making machine, making some badges with papers that I have in my stash.


By about 7.30 Hubby and I watch a bit of telly whilst homework gets done upstairs. I find these days I am really tired by about 9pm, so it's usually an episode or two of whatever we're watching (currently something called SWAT team which is a cop drama thing). Just after 9 I let the dog out and then put her to bed, and then I put myself to bed.

Monday, 17 September 2018

Overdue catchup

Hello dear friends and readers!

I've missed you all! I cant believe I haven't blogged since January, I really don't know where this year has gone. I've done a few crafty bits and pieces over the year, but I thought I'd just dive straight in with where I am now.

You may have seen over on my instagram (EmeraldCottage) I've been sharing photos of some of the things I created in the last couple of weeks ......

💚 Coin purses






💚 Dreamcatcher




💚 Owl keyrings




💚 Strawberry keyring



💚 Halloween badges



The badges are a new venture, I'll do a blog post on badge making at some point for you. I'm still working out how best to get the artwork onto the paper for the badge, and experimenting with different methods. Its good fun though!

Now, I have 2 quite big pieces of news to share with you.
Firstly, I'm setting up an Etsy shop to try and sell some of my makes. I've been thinking of doing this for a while, and have sold via craft fairs and facebook in the past. Each of these has negative sides - personally I find the commitment of a craft fair really hard to manage, weekends are for family time and I don't like disappearing off for a day too often, and selling via facebook is ok but very casual, and I've wanted something a bit more structured and professional-looking. Going down the Etsy line is quite daunting, I obviously want the "shopfront" to look good, and the photos of my stock need to be good, plus I need to decide upon things like policies, shipping, returns and so on. Also, with Etsy you pay to list your items, even if they don't sell, so you do have to be quite sure that this is the way to go. I've been putting it off really, it feels a bit scary. But I've decided that this week I'm going to crack on with it, and just get it done.

My other piece of news is that I have started a You-tube channel, and am vlogging there as well as blogging here. My channel is under my own name Jill Davidson and you can find it here. I have 2 videos uploaded so far (here and here) with another to be edited and uploaded over the next couple of days, if you want to watch them and give me any feedback (hopefully positive lol), that would be really lovely.

I'll leave it here for now , I'm trying to get better and more efficient at blogging and not spending hours and hours refining a massive post - that's what I have a habit of doing and it turns every blog post into a massive deal, which of course in turn means I don't blog as often as I'd like. So hopefully this way I will be a bit more regular on here!

Hope you all have a great week,
Jill

Monday, 1 January 2018

Happy New Year 2018

Hello and Happy New Year ! I've been AWOL for a couple of months, nothing major, just life.



Christmas has been and gone, our house is almost back to normal. School restarts for 1 of my Little People on Wednesday. Little Miss is not impressed at starting back before the other two. She had a birthday in December and is now a teenager so she is being upgraded to Miss 13.  Anyway back to the back to school thing, I always look forward to a long break over Christmas - lots of chilling out in pyjamas, and eating naughty food (surprised there isn't now a national mince pie shortage I've eaten so many) but its always good to get the children back to school so I can attempt to make the house vaguely presentable, and get back into some kind of routine.

I didn't pick up a hook all holidays! I know! Instead I've been cross stitching and doing some card-making. And taking no photos it would appear. I do have some from earlier in December, I was supposed to be doing a couple of craft fairs and made quite a lot of Christmassy bits and pieces. In the end for various reasons I didn't make it to the craft fairs, but everything will keep til next year.








I also have some exciting news to share with you all - back in September I decided to start a local crochet class to teach and support crocheters, called Emerald Cottage Crochet Club. I run it twice weekly and have a number of regulars, some of whom have only just learned to crochet and are doing amazingly well. I've made some little kits for my hookers to make, here are a couple of our Christmassy ones....




And rather excitingly my local yarn shop took some of the snowflake kits to sell on my behalf!

Til next time,
Jillxxxxx


Saturday, 21 October 2017

Hello dear friends and readers :)
Welcome to this week's Finish for the Weekend :) Please see below for instructions on how to join in.
I'm sorry there was no post last Friday, I had nothing finished and nothing much to blog about either!


There have been a lot of storm systems about this week. What sort of name is "Brian" for a storm ?! (no offence to all the Brians out there) And who names these things anyway ? Over the water, in my homeland of Northern Ireland, it's been particularly stormy: lots of places closed down - schools, banks, parks - however I think they survived relatively unscathed. My Mum had a few of her garden pots blow over and smash, but thankfully no structural problems with her house.

Here in England just now it's a beautiful autumn day, and as I type the wind is still gusting ferociously through our garden, a great day to hang the washing out. I love this photo of near horizontal t-shirts.


So how's your week been ? Mine's been pretty good, nothing majorly exciting or anything, just a lovely balanced week of friends, coffee, chores and of course crochet.

For this week's finish I have a cute granny square bag made in a rather riotous Sirdar Click yarn.



I started this last year when we were driving up to Scotland to catch the ferry over to Northern Ireland at Easter. I had just had the dreadful news the night before that my Dad had died really quite suddenly, and then we had this 14 hour journey of hell to get through. I cried the whole way in the car, and then, as the traffic was so bad, we then missed the ferry. By the time we actually got on the ferry I was ready for sleep really, but in the absence of anywhere to lie down I did some crochet to keep me busy. All I could think to do was a granny square. I'd no idea what to use it for but I had to do something.


Whilst in NIreland I decided it was going to become a bag, so I crocheted another granny square the same size, and then also crocheted a strap. The strap was just around 7 stitches wide, and enough rows of dc to make it the right length for a cross-body bag.
These 3 bag-parts have been lying in my work basket for about 18 months now! It was time to finish it off properly.



I sewed the granny squares together on 3 sides, just normal sewing. I had thought about dc'ing them together but as this wool is quite chunky I thought a dc join would be too bulky. I then sewed on a gorgeous tomato-soup-red big button and crocheted a length of chains to make a button loop.


The final step was to line the bag. I'm not a massive orange fan so it was a good opportunity to use up this spotty orange fabric that had been in my stash for some time.


I used the sewing machine to sew the lining fabric sides together, and to hem the top, and then I hand-sewed the fabric inner to the crocheted outer. And ... ta-dah! A lovely sunny and bright granny square bag ....


It's another one of those projects where I just think to myself - why did I leave this so long ?? - because it only really took another hour or so of work to complete. Anyway, its done now, and I think I'm going to add it to my stockpile for craft fairs.


There may not be a FFTW post next week as I am going over to NIreland - just Little Tomboy and me - as its half-term holidays for us. We are leaving the teenagers here with Daddy, and a coupe of friends are joining us for a few days. I'm very much looking forward to going "home" and spending a few days just relaxing.


Happy half-term everyone!
Til next time,
Jillxxxxx


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Welcome to Finish for the Weekend, a weekly chance to link up and share with the blogging community some of the projects you have completed this week. The only rule is that your post must be about an item you have finished this week, hopefully to help reduce some of those piles of UFO's!

Here's how to join in:

1. Write a blog post about your finished project.
2. Link back to Finish for the Weekend by adding this text as a link on your post:
http://emeraldcottage.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Finish%20for%20the%20Weekend
3. Publish your post
4. Link back from here to your post by clicking "Add Link" and adding your post's URL
5. Spread the bloggy love by visiting and commenting on the other Finish for the Weekend posts.

The Finish for the Weekend post will open for new links on a Friday at 12noon London time, and it will stay open until Monday at 12noon to allow for overseas bloggers to join in. These times may vary but I will do my best to keep it roughly the same. Looking forward to seeing all your posts !