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29 March 2015

DIY Creative Gardening

I can feel it, spring is definitely just around the corner and with that I'm getting flipping-ridiculously-over the top-can't stop thinking-excited about getting back out into my beloved garden!

Last year I laid the ground work, so-to-speak, in my very own first little garden. The veg patch was created; borders were dug up and masses of flowers were planted; and an old shed was knocked down. 

This year, I'm hoping to get all DIY creative on my garden. As well as trying to grow a whole new load of veggies and flowers I've never grown before. I also want to add more home-made, fun quirky bits and bobs. So, I've started looking around and adding some fun makes to my Pinterest board, which you can check out here, with a few of my favourites below.

Are you a green fingered, garden obsessive too? What are your plans for your garden this year? 

Source: Listotic

Source: Beachcomber

Source: Uncle Johns Cabin

Source: Splash of Something

Source: craftgawker

27 March 2015

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

Sometimes in life you've just got to have a bit of courage and on that note, 
here's a perfect song by Villagers.

24 March 2015

New designs: Silk Handkerchiefs and matching cufflinks

I'm working away on some new designs at the moment, which is such a good feeling! New fabrics, new ideas and lots of playing around - I love it! 

Two of those designs have hit my Etsy and NOTHS shops today: silk handkerchiefs and matching cufflinks.

There are three colours to choose from: bright pink, sky blue and classic burgundy. 

I have used dupion silk, which is also known as raw silk, a beautiful type of fabric that looks amazing on a suit jacket!

The edges of the handkerchiefs have rolled hems in contrasting colour thread and I have plans for more colours. 

Both the cufflinks and handkerchiefs come gift wrapped in beautiful boxes, all ready to give as a present.

Coming up in April I have a brand new accessory design for you guys out there! Watch this space!

20 March 2015

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

Picked these two songs up this week. They give me so much creative inspiration it's untrue! Go give them a listen :-)

The Coffee Cola Song by Francis Bebey
Irganda by Songhoy Blues

17 March 2015

Five minutes with knitwear designer, Jessica Joy

Head over to Simple Stylish Makes to check out my latest blog post, in which I spent five minutes with knitwear designer, Jessica Joy.

And don't forget to follow on Twitter too, with the hashtag #simplestylishmakes

Happy knitting folks!

15 March 2015

Blog Gem - Stone Cold Comfort

Yay, it's that time of the month when we delve into the face behind a blog and find out who they are. This month's Blog Gem is a blogger I discovered recently. I love everything about her blog - the design, colours, photography and writing and above all, how inspiring it is to read. So, wanna know more? Me too! Lets dive on in! 

Hello there! Who be the face behind the blog?

Hello! My name is Chloe, and I write the craft blog Stone Cold Comfort. Sewing and knitting are my two favourite things but I love crafts of all shapes and sizes - if there were more hours in the day I would definitely take a pottery class, learn to dye my own yarn, block print my own fabric and dabble in jewellery making too!
I'm a real nest builder and I love designing and making things for my home (usually in Liberty print!) and sharing my makes on the blog. My blog really took off when I started turning my ideas into step by step tutorials for people to follow at home - I love seeing what other people have made 
using my tutorials and how they've put their own spin on them!
When I'm not crafting I'm usually hanging out with my seven month old daughter Orla, feeding ducks, drinking coffee and trying to spot deer in the park!

What is your creative space like? 

Right now my workspace is in the corner of the living room where I have my Grandad's old draughtsman's table set up by the window and my sewing machine in residence permanently. Before Orla was born I had a whole spare room to myself but I actually much prefer being here in the middle of things. Having my sewing machine winking at me out of the corner of my eye really motivates me to be creative in the evenings, instead of flopping in front of a film! Under the table I have a big wicker basket where I keep all of my 'works in progress'. I keep each project in a separate bag along with the relevant thread, pattern pieces etc, so everything is kept organised. I find it really helps having a creative space set up permanently so that if I find myself with a spare 15 minutes on my hands I can just jump on my machine and go!

If you had to take only one craft tool to a desert island, what would you choose and why?

Good question! I think that would have to be knitting needles and yarn (or does that count as two?!) as they're so versatile! I don't think I could ever get bored of knitting or feel like I've learned enough, so that would definitely keep me occupied on a desert island. 

How do you work and get inspired? 

'Too many ideas, not enough time' is the phrase that immediately springs to mind. Inspiration isn't a problem for me but deciding what to work on first and finding the time is. Ideas for projects usually come because there is something I'm in need of. Rather than go out and pay top dollar for something that's made using inferior materials, in questionable conditions and will be owned by thousands of other people, I would much rather make it myself and use the money saved to by the best fabric or yarn I can afford! 

What top tips would you give to anyone starting a blog? 

For someone looking to start a creative blog, I would say let the creativity come first and think about the blogging second. Blogging for bloggings sake is over (for me at least) so I would say just start making and doing and the rest will fall into place. You don't need to make tutorials if you don't want to - people will still love seeing photos of your work and hearing about your creative process. I've found the creative blogging world to be really friendly so don't be afraid to get in touch with bloggers you admire and be chatty!

Is there a story behind the name 'Stone Cold Comfort'?

The name is deliberately vague as when I started my blog five years ago I just wanted a creative outlet of some kind and didn't have any idea what direction it might take. I chose 'Cold Comfort' after the book 'Cold Comfort Farm', which I love and added the Stone to kind of put a twist on the phrase - so instead of Cold Comfort, which is obviously not comforting at all, you have Stone Cold Comfort which is just straight up comfortable!

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

I would have to invite Debbie Stoller - editor of Bust magazine and author of the Stitch 'N' Bitch books, and thank her for teaching me how to knit all those years ago! I would also want William Morris to be there to talk about prints, a housewife from the 1940's or 1950's to natter about vintage knitting patterns and both my Grandmas who were incredibly creative but passed on before I really got into crafts myself. I use the craft supplies I've inherited from them every day so would give them a hug and say thanks.

And finally...if you had to choose one song to represent Stone Cold Comfort, what would it be and why?

Without a doubt it would be 'Birdhouse In Your Soul' by They Might Be Giants. It's just so cheery and uplifting, which is what I hope my blog is!
Thanks so much, Chloe! It's been absolutely wonderful hearing all about your creative world. And, that's a flippin' excellent song choice - love that song! Also, great advice about the blogging world - just being yourself and letting everything fall into place is definitely what it's all about.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Chloe and happy blogging!

All of the images and interview answers are the copyright of Chloe at Stone Cold Comfort. Please do not use without seeking permission first. Thank you.

13 March 2015

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

This week I watched Reginald D. Hunter's three part series, Songs of the South. It's a fascinating exploration of country music, bluegrass and Southern Gothic from North Carolina to New Orleans. Reginald is so funny, interesting, and down-to-earth, that I couldn't help but be utterly inspired! And oooh, look what I've discovered, all the music from series is available on BBC Playlists, yay! I've added the entire lot to my playlist and will be giving these a listen to get my creative juices flowing. 
If you haven't watched this series yet, then I urge you to go watch!
Enjoy and happy Friday folks!

12 March 2015

Recording Your Knitting Journey

Head over to Simple Stylish Knitting for my latest blog post on 'Recording your knitting journey' and follow on Twitter too, with the hashtag #simplestylishmakes

Happy knitting folks!

11 March 2015

A bit of knitting history

The history of knitting is a bit like a knotted ball of yarn; it’s hard to know where it starts!

The earliest evidence we have is fragments of cotton socks from 11th century Egypt but any earlier evidence is debated among scholars due to the argument over what was classed as knitting.

The actual act of knitting was known as ‘knotting’, which came from the Scandinavian word ‘nÃ¥lebinding’, practised across the globe. We know that knitting spread from Egypt across Europe, entering the English language in the 14th century.

Several 14th century paintings show the Virgin Mary knitting but it wasn’t until the 16th century that knitting truly became popular. In 1527 the first knitted guild was set up in France but it was only open to men! Apparently, it wasn’t until knitting became more of domestic activity that women really got interested.

Apparently, in 1589 a Nottinghamshire clergyman, called William Lee, invented a knitting machine due to being so frustrated at his wife’s obsession with knitting! But it wasn’t until the 18th century and the start of the industrial revolution that saw the mass production of knitting on machines.

Knitting only really returned as hobby in Victorian times, when ladies started to knit for leisure and well it’s pretty much stayed put since then, with a slight rise and fall in popularity. Although, I think it’s fair to say that it’s very much back on the scene!

10 March 2015

Stair inspiration

The stairs in my house were covered in the most horrific, faded green carpet known to man. Within months of moving in I ripped the entire lot up on my tod, by hand and sent it to the tip. Hidden by that foul carpet were glorious wooden stairs, which clearly use to have a runner up the middle. Seeing that made very excited and totally and utterly inspired to bring them back to life!

This year is the year of the stairs! I'm going to get them back into shape and I have a tonne of ideas - too many perhaps! Sooo, I've started myself a Pinterest board dedicated entirely to capturing ideas for decorating my stairs.

At the moment, they look a bit like these stairs from Apartment Therapy but mine need to be sanded in places, a few nails banging in (to get rid of the squeak on certain steps!) and the white painting needs to be touched up. I like the idea of keeping them simple like this but adding a load of pictures of various sizes on the wall.

Photo from Apartment Therapy

The idea of painting up the middle is rather tempting too. One bold colour up the middle, with the edges and banister painted white. I could always change the colour over time or maybe a different colour every year?!?

Photo from Apartment Therapy

I've seen a few glorious pics of more shabby chic, girly style stairs, with floral paper on the riser (I totally had to look up what that part is called, ha ha!). It would be fun finding vintage wall paper but that might take a while and how easy would it be to clean? Also, could it get a bit tatty too quickly? Hmm, decisions, decisions!

Photo from Anne Make Up

A DIY approach involving chevrons is an exciting idea too! Could this be too fiddly or would it totally be worth it?

Photo from Makezine

Photo from Good Housekeeping

Lots of lovely ideas and I can't wait to get going on, Operation Stairs! If this is something you're interested in, follow my Stairs Pinterest board for inspiration.

6 March 2015

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

This week saw the arrival of my new, temporary house mate, my Mum. My Mum's big into her music. We regularly send recommendations to each other but we now have the chance to listen and discover new songs and artists together. I'm soooooo flippin' excited about that! 
This week I've been playing Mum a lot of Radio 6 - she loves it so much, which I'm delighted about it because hey, lets face it, my Roberts radio rarely gets the chance to blast out another station ;-)
So, you're going to see music inspirations on my 'What's on the jukebox, Jo?' series from both Mum and I for the next 6 months, not a bad thing by any means!
This week Mum's been all about this Glasto performance by Kasabian of 'Crazy' and 'Take Aim'. In return I have introduced Mum to the original Crazy song by Gnarl's Barkley. She loves it and now can't decide which she prefers more, the original or the cover, ha ha!
Happy listening, dancing and singing along folks!

3 March 2015

Mothers's Day Gift Ideas

It's not long until Mother's Day folks and I've got lots of handmade goodies available in my online shops, which would make great pressies!

My Love Heart Handkerchiefs are made entirely from scratch. That includes the handkerchief itself. The cute heart motif is embroidered entirely by hand and it doesn't just stop there! Your Love Heart Handkerchief can be personalised with a date, initial or set of initials. Four different coloured hearts are available too.

If you're wanting something a bit more jazzy, why not choose a patterned handkerchief from a choice of 16 different colours and patterns. These can also be personalised AND each handkerchief comes gift wrapped for free!

With spring on the horizon, why not give your Mum flowers in the form of a  Floral Necklace! There are 6 bunches to choose from!

I have lots of other handmade accessories to choose from available in both my Etsy and NOTHS shops and ooh, did someone say there's a discount available too?! There sure is! Get 10% off any handkerchief orders from my Etsy shop only. Simply enter the following coupon code at checkout when ordering: MOTHERSDAY15

1 March 2015

#smileandsayhello project revealed

This week I've been hinting on Twitter and Instagram at a secret project I've been working on. 
Well, now all can be revealed...with a bit of background first!

I'm the kind of person who likes to say "hello", "good morning", "afternoon" to anyone I pass by in the street. However, I recently realised that I don't say it nearly enough because I've got my senses glued to my i-pod. I either can't hear if someone's saying hello or my i-pod's on so loud that I can't actually hear myself speak if I say, "morning". Not good on my ears and certainly not polite towards the other person. I could either be shouting HELLO or whispering hello so quietly that they wouldn't be able to hear and respond but I'd never even know.

So, I've started taking my headphones out and saying "hello", "good morning", "afternoon" as much as possible, without looking like the local mad woman and you know what, it's flippin' great!  Not everyone replies or gives eye contact enough for me to even say hello but most people smile and reply and that feels good, really good.

Over dinner one night I got chatting to my best friend about this and we discussed how sadly people don't say hello enough, especially in big cities. Villages are the exception I have to add. I grew up in a village and it would have been frowned upon not to say hello. But in cities everyone's either in too much of a hurry, dubious of someone saying hello or glued to their i-pod, phone or some such device. It's pretty sad really. We're a sociable bunch by nature and yet we've become rather unsociable.

So, with the beginning of a new month and spring just around the corner, I want to start a mini revolution and bring back the sociable act of smiling and saying hello to each other.
Do you want to join me? If so, head to my Twitter or Facebook page, smile, introduce yourself, and add the hashtag #smileandsayhello. Then the next time you pass someone in the street, smile and say hello and come and let me know how you get on!


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