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29 October 2013

Knit me an autumn day

It recently dawned on me that I've never knitted a scarf in all the three years I've been knitting and with autumn here and storms soon to hit, I thought I should get on and knit (ooh a bit of rhyming!)....a scarf.

I found this beautiful autumnal pattern on Ravelry - the Daphne scarf, which I've completely fallen in love with! It's a great pattern; easy to follow and not too tricky considering there are all those leaves!

I purchased the scrumptious yarn from one of my favourite knitting shops, Knit One. It's Hayfield Bonus Chunky and is a wine-red type shade. It makes me feel like heading out for an adventure on a bright, autumn day, kicking leaves around and hearing them go cu-runch!

Have you got a seasonal craft project on the go at the moment? I'd love to hear all about it!

I have in no way been sponsored to write this post.

27 October 2013

How yarn is like art

Walking into a shop full of yarn is like walking into an art gallery. The array of colours, the different textures, and the one that pulls you in to connect with it. That special one feels like it's made with you in mind. You may not have a need for it but it sings out to you, giving you a warm glow of happiness.

This yarn truly got me thinking how yarn is like art with the beauty of the colour combinations. I just want to keep looking at it from different angles.

And so, before I do dive in, I thought I would appreciate the wonder of it just as it is....

...the reds, the pinks, the blues, the purples....

It makes me think of cranberries, Rowan trees, mixed spice and bright autumnal days...

Soon I will cast it on to the equally pretty looking double-pointed needles to start some Cranford Mitts.

But for now, I'm going to admire the beauty of the bundle of yarn just as it is.

25 October 2013

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

I am a HUGE Tina Turner fan. Her songs, her energy....and her dancing!

She probably features several times a week on my i-pod walks.

And I can't believe I haven't said so before.

Here's a classic song of hers.

Happy dancing!

23 October 2013

Starting an online shop, part 6: photography & presentation

One of the most important parts about running a successful online shop is the presentation and photography of your products. For every article I've ever read on running your own business, this easily comes up in the top three things to get right.

But why is it important? Well, good product photos mean your products are 100 times more appealing and inviting; your shop looks more professional and you're taken much more seriously as a business person.

You are way more likely to be taken seriously with good product photos and who knows where that might lead. I've certainly found that good photography brings in other opportunities, such as magazine interviews, freelance writing and photography opportunities. And well, this brings you that little bit closer to running your business as a full-time venture!

So, here are some top tips on photographing your products:

  • LIGHT! Unless you're purposefully going for that dusky shot, I personally think that all product photos should be taken in day light. The brigher the day, the better.
  • If you're struggling with lack of light (especially, since Autumn only just went and turned up at the front door!), try using a light box. And don't panic! You can easily make one yourself if you don't want to break the bank. Take one large shoe box, cut out the top and one side panel, cover the remaining sides in white paper, pop a bright side light near by, in goes your product and start snapping. Easy peasy lemon squeasy!
  • Props are useful but don't crowd your product. You don't want to distract your customers from your beautiful product now do you.
  • Plain/white backgrounds work better than brightly coloured or highly patterned backgrounds. Again, don't distract the customer.
  • Photo editing tools are great for cropping out the pet cat that just happened to sneak into your perfect shot. They're also great for zooming in and straightening your photos up.

The presentation (i.e. packaging) of your product is just as important as the product itself. Lovely packaging/presentation shows that your product is special, has been made with love and attention to detail and is not manufactured on mass! Think about the times you've purchased something from a shop and it's been wrapped up in pretty paper and popped in a lovely paper bag. Not only does your product feel special, you do too!

Have a think and jot down some ideas for beautiful ways in which you can present and package your products and don't forget, it doesn't need to be expensive. Tissue paper and baker's twine is inexpensive, especially if you buy in bulk (e.g. Ebay) and it's amazing what you can do by simply decorating brown parcel paper yourself with a stamp, paint and imagination! In fact, there are so many ideas out there, so have fun, play around and show your friends and family for valuable feedback.

When you've got a presentation style that you're happy with (don't worry, it doesn't have to be THE ultimate presentation, it can and most probably will evolve over time), don't forget to include it in those great product shots. This gives potential customers an idea of what they can expect and will certainly make your products more attractive.

Before I wrap this post up in tissue paper and twine (ha!), don't forget to include the costings of your presentation/packaging in your price. You're running a business remember, not giving things away for free! If, however, by including this cost in the overall price your product seems too expensive, then offer your bespoke gift wrapping as an extra, optional cost to the customer. Just remember to provide a less expensive or free alternative.

I hope this helps but please feel free to post below any additional tips and advice you have or drop me a line if you have further questions.

Have photographing!

21 October 2013

An offer you can't refuse...

Exciting times are afoot with Adventures & Tea Parties! I've started working with the awesome Gareth of the equally awesome, Studio ROKIT, on a new logo for my business. Yesterday was spent researching colours and fonts, thinking of tag lines and designs, and trying to put down on paper what A&TP is about. That's a lot harder than it sounds but oooh, so much fun. I woke up this morning buzzing with excitement and cannot wait to share the finished design with you all! 

In order to share the excitement with you all, I'm offering 15% off everthing in my Etsy shop for the next 24 hours only! Just enter the following coupon code at the checkout: 24PARTYPEOPLE

Happy shopping!

18 October 2013

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

I can listen to this song on


I love it.

It gives me a kick in my step, makes me happy and brings me home full of inspiration and get-up-and-go for Adventures & Tea Parties.

I love it when music does that.

Do you have specific songs that spur you on?

Song: Coum by Death in Vegas

16 October 2013

Wish list - colour

I am looking for colour inspiration at the moment. I have a whole house to decorate and I'm going to start in the hubs of the house - the living room and dining room. My current favourite for the dining room is a burnt orange/terracotta colour. I have lots of second-hand wooden furniture (a dresser, bench, big kitchen table) and I feel a shade or orange would bring out the warmth in the wood but which shade? There is a whole range of oranges out there. Here are a few, which I've pinned to a new Pinterest board dedicated entirely to colour.

Photo credit: Apartment Therapy

Photo credit: Apartment Therapy

Photo credit: Nice Decors

Photo credit: Apartment Therapy

Have you decorated your home recently? Did you go for bright colours?

This content is in no way sponsored. 

14 October 2013

My new studio, part 3

As promised, here's the final part of my studio tour and it focuses entirely on a new purchase, which was bought on a whim. Well, ok I was looking for a dresser/cupboard for all my fabric, haberdashery, books, admin etc but when I saw this lovely lady in the Shabby Chic Fairy Shack, I completely fell in love!

The super talented Richard at SCFC found this dresser and painted it too.. He sure has an eye for furniture and an even keener eye when it comes to paint, colours and the whole shabby chic effect. I could have bought everything in his studio.

I absolutely love this fold down desk. It's perfect for admin jobs.

I love any piece of second-hand furniture that still has a key and working lock. 

The top half is perfect for storing all my fabrics and popping my craft books and magazines on top too. It's made me feel way more organised and inspired, as I can easily locate specific shades of fabric and pull down a book to browse through.

Maybe this way of storing will inspire more designs! Have you recently re-decorated or re-organised your crafting space? I'd love to hear all about it!

6 October 2013

Review: The Big Textile Show

A couple of saturdays ago, my bestie and I headed to the Big Textile Show in Leicestershire. Celebrating all things textile, the show promised workshops, demonstrations, talks, exhibitions, stalls and most importantly, tea and cake!

Organised by two textile mad ladies, this was the first time the event had been run. And both being a tad crazy about textiles (and tea and cake), we were a little excited to say the least!

One of the first demonstrations we came across was rag rugging and ooh, it looked addictive and I've now added it to the LONG list of crafts I want to try out. We also ambled past the weaving demonstration and was introduced to an easy-and-cheap-to-do-at-home weaving project. Here's a pic of Ruth trying it out. I'll pop some instructions up soon!

There was a good interactive demonstration - 'The Big T'. This was a big tree, which everyone could pop a home-made leaf on. We only knew about this, however, after some investigation of all the activities listed on the website. Sadly, it wasn't advertised very clearly, so not many people appeared to know about it. Anyhooo, here are some snaps of our leaves....

There was a whole host of beautiful textile art, from felt work to quilts and more. Here are a few of my favourites...

This bucket and spade was one of the highlights of the all the displays. It actually looked like it was full of water, with silver fish swimming around. Absolutely incredible!

Now, you'd probably all expect some pretty decent tea and cake at a textile show, yeah? Well, we were more than impressed by the food. There were several hot and cold food options, as well as cake. And the prices were excellent. Yum, yum!

As well as eating, we did a spot of shopping and fell in love with this basket. Aren't the colours stunning! One thing we would like to have seen though, was a bit more variety of stalls. The focus was mostly on needlework, which was great but more fabric, yarn and range of tools wouldn't have gone-a-miss.

We decided to make the most the day, so pre-booked onto one of the many workshops. We chose lace making and ooh if I thought knitting was calming, lace making nearly sent me into a trance! Run by the lovely Jenny Furlong, we learnt a half-stitch and all produced our first pieces of lace, ta-da!

There were definitely a few areas that could be improved but considering this is the first time the event was held, it was very good. Looking forward to the next one!


Disclosure: I reviewed this independently and wasn't sponsored to write this post.

2 October 2013

Blog Gem - Follow the White Bunny

Hello October and hello Blog Gem time! This month's interview features plenty of stitches, Stephen Fry and a bunny. Intrigued? Read on to find out more!

Hello there, who be the face behind the blog?

My name is Nicole Vos van Avezathe of Follow the White Bunny (a tiny one woman business!). I live in Rotterdam, the Netherlands with my 2 cats, kids and husband. I started making embroidery patterns in 2009 (available at shop.followthewhitebunny.com) and sometimes do craft or sewing patterns too. 
I blog about my creative stuff on blog.followthewhitebunny.com and you can also find me regularly on andstitches.blogspot.co.uk, a fab place on the internet for creative stitchers!

 What's your creative space like? 

Last year we divided our bedroom in two so I could have my own creative space. It's usually very messy. I have a desk for drawing and computer work with some shelves above for items I use a lot (like the DMC embroidery floss colour card) or postcards I received, prints that are not yet framed etc. 

I also have a small sewing/cutting table, a dresser filled with sewing supplies, a cupboard with fabric and books and lots of baskets and crates filled with half-finished projects and fabric and such. In the living room I have a corner by the window where I embroider and a cabinet filled with floss. 

If you had to take only one of your crafts to a desert island, what would it be and why?

Embroidery, although hand sewing, like English Paper Piecing, would be lovely too. I think embroidery is still the craft that suits me best. I find it relaxing and there is still so much I want to create with embroidery!

How do you work and get inspired? 

I try to work as efficiently as possible, which is not easy for a naturally disorganized person! I work during the children's school hours and in the evening too. I divide my time between working on my own stuff, working on commissions and the rest (blogging/social media etc). I also try and make time to sketch, experiment with my embroidery and develop new skills in other crafts. For example, I have recently enrolled in an online course for illustrating children's books. Not something that is directly related to what I usually do but it's something I want to try and I'm sure, in the end, everything I do will benefit from my newly learned skills! 

So, doing new things is inspiring to me but I also get inspiration from lots of other things. I like to read and listen to music. I don't watch a lot of movies though. Like many others, I like to wander on Pinterest for colour inspiration.

What top tips would you give to any novice bloggers and those thinking of selling their designs?

Be yourself when your blogging, while keeping it positive. Make the layout of your blog so that it's easy to the eye and attractive (so not dark red Comic Sans on a black background, haha!) and personalise it a bit, if you can. There are a lot of resources on the internet where you can download things for free to use on your blog, like button-designs. Make the best photos you can for your blog. 

 As to selling your designs, be original and personally, I think it's important to test your patterns. I often change a lot of details when testing my patterns. 

Is there a story behind the name 'Follow the White Bunny'? 

The 'bunny' comes from my husband's last name, which has the Dutch word for Bunny in it and obviously it's a reference to Alice in Wonderland too. 

The name is easy to remember, which is not unimportant and it has a dreamy, nostalgic feel to it I think.

If you could go to a Creative Blog Award dinner with any 5 people/fictional characters (dead or alive), who would you choose? 

Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters, he seems like such a nice guy! Another favourite artist I'd like to hang out with is Tom Waits - I'm sure he has amusing stories to tell. My very own Pindsvin character; He's a brave Danish tea-cup sea faring Hedgehog. The Doubtful Guest from the Edward Gorey book and Stephen Fry.

And finally...book & tea or film & wine?

Book and wine please :) 

Thank you so much Nicole! It's been wonderful hearing all about how you get inspired, how you work and learning some brilliant tips for running your own shop and blog. I think it's safe to say my reader's will be in love with the fabulous characters you and your embroidery floss create!

I hope you've all enjoyed this month's Blog Gem. Stay tuned for November's interview with an inspiring DIY crafty blog. Until then, keeeep blogging!

All of the images and interview answers are the copyright of Nicole at Follow the White Bunny.  Please do not use without seeking permission first. Thank you.


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