Not Just For Kids! Book review and giveaway

The lovely folks at Jacqui Small Publishing have kindly sent me a couple of colouring books for adults to review. I was intrigued by the idea, partly because the accompanying publicity had some really interesting stuff to say about the benefits of colouring for relaxation.

As someone who can be a bit overwhelmed by stress sometimes (home educating 2 autistic kids whilst trying to build a small business will do that to you!), I have lots of different strategies and techniques to use when I need to switch off… I know a lot of us use sewing for just this purpose, but because sewing is also my job, sometimes I need to get away from stitching too…

My best activities for diverting my mind are taking a walk with the pooch and my lovely family, reading a page-turning novel, playing ancient computer games (Age of Empires is my favourite), doing Sudoku puzzles, baking or generally mucking around in the kitchen, and now I am trying to do meditation too… But I am always interested in new stress-busting stuff for my tool kit!

When the books arrived I grabbed my pencils (usually used for the serious business of coming up with patchwork designs) and got going. It was so nice that someone else has done all the hard design work for me and all I have to do is play around with lots of bright colours, without fear of making a bad choice (and cutting the wrong fabric!):

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This design is from Art Therapy: Mandala. Mandalas have been used for centuries as part of meditation practice, so it makes sense that colouring these lovely designs is such a peaceful process.

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And, happily, there’s a reason why colouring is so relaxing. Psychologist Gloria Martínez Ayala says:

“The action involves both logic, by which we color forms, and creativity, when mixing and matching colors. This incorporates the areas of the cerebral cortex involved in vision and fine motor skills [coordination necessary to make small, precise movements]. The relaxation that it provides lowers the activity of the amygdala, a basic part of our brain involved in controlling emotion that is affected by stress.” (Taken from this article in the Huffington Post)

Here’s another lovely design from the book – can’t wait to get onto this one:

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It is a real pleasure to think about colours and think about how the colours I am choosing reflect my mood and my response to the pictures. It got me thinking that I need a MASSIVE set of coloured pencils

The other book is a collection of designs taken from stained glass:

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I love the symmetry of these designs – and as an enthusiast of medieval and art nouveau design, this book is particularly interesting and appealing to me.

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But I have resisted colouring any of the designs in this book, so I can give a copy away.. so if you’d like to find out what the colouring craze is all about, then do leave a comment (just a ‘yes please!’ will do – but tell me about your chosen relaxation techniques if you like) before midnight Sunday, and you will be in with a chance of winning Art Therapy: Stained Glass. (UK entrants only please, unless you are happy to pay overseas postage yourself).

 

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4th ATC Swap Round Up

So, another ATC (Artist Trading Card) swap has come and gone – it was fun, although I was really sorry not to have been able to join in myself (other than organise it of course..) due to severe lack of time. I am not at all sure I would have been able to keep up with the amazing work that the swappers produced – interestingly, there were some really different techniques used this time round, especially by some of the regular swappers, it is brilliant to see all the branching out and experimentation. These are some of my favourites from all of the awesomeness in the Swap Flickr group. The theme was ‘Getting Away From It All’ – it was great to see the different interpretations:

Claire's ATC

Getting Away From It All: Bubble Bath by Claire of Made at Mine

Love the brilliant techniques, stitching and beads used on this one. It’s also a really fun interpretation of the theme.

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Christina's ATC

Getting Away From It All by Christina of Sew Brewtiful

That cute little ricrac insert really sets this card off, and I love Christina’s use of an image printed on fabric with the stitched balloons – a lovely idea.

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Simi's ATC

Getting Away From It All: Alone on a Beach by Simi of Buttons and Paint

 Love the stunning texture that Simi has incorporated into this – and the wonderful blues of the sea – it’s so evocative.

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Karen H-R's ATC

Getting Away From It All by Karen H-R

 Karen’s card is so sweet, neat, and just adorable. That sweet edging really pulls it together too.

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Dianne's ATC

Getting Away From It All: Out of Africa by Dianne (aka Quiltova on Flickr)

Dianne’s stitching is so full of life and fun and the colours are very evocative of her theme. Great pic and use of a photo holder for the card too.

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Stitching Notes ATC

Getting Away from It All: Knitting by Larisa of Stitching Notes

The adorable mini-knitting! The cute little knitting needles! The gorgeous little bow! The fab easel and the wonderful reading material (can’t resist a stitcher using great books as props!)

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Artyparrot ATC

 Getting Away From It All: Off We Go by Katrina of Arty Parrot

Bunting and a stripy caravan with button wheels? What’s not to LOVE?

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Hope all the swappers have enjoyed this as much as I have. We will be swapping again come early November, with a Christmas/Winter theme, so keep an eye out if you want to join in.

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King of the Quilt

Taken yesterday, my freshly made quilt in the paws of its rightful owner – Barney, King of the Sofa:

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A weeny catch up

I’ve been so busy writing for other people’s publications that I have, it seems, entirely given up on my own blog…. So a long overdue catch up has got to be in order…

Happy post today as my latest copy of Love Sewing arrived, complete with my pattern for nesting fabric baskets, using fabrics from Ochre & Ocre.

IMG_3741As usual Helen, the lovely editor at Love Sewing, has done such a great job of styling and photographing my work – and it never gets old seeing your name in print.  Get hold of a copy so that you can enter the competition to win some of these gorgeous fabrics! And of course (of course!), try out some of the brilliant projects – I am particularly taken with Lauren Guthrie’s gorgeous yoked top – will definitely have a crack at her lovely design (and look out for her book Learn to Sew With Lauren too).

Back to the subject of Ochre & Ocre, and it has been fab working with the owner, Tess, over the last few months. She is a marvel, running her business and family with masses of hard work and dedication – she has been very tolerant of my general flakiness! I’ve put together another tutorial for her for a fussy cut cushion, that you can find on the Ochre & Ocre blog. Here’s a pic of the finished cushion to tempt you over there:

Finished 3

 

My final deadline (before I have a week’s much needed holiday!) is for 5 projects for an Fat Quarter-themed project book. These are all well underway, and I’ve just finished the prototype for a super-quick-to-sew and hand-tied boho-style quilt.

AMH quickie 3

I used some favourite, saved-up, Anna Maria Horner prints for this, as I had a suspicion I would be keeping it for myself. It was a quick make because it had to be! I will be making the real thing, for the book, using equally awesome prints by Amy Butler.

AMH quickie

 

It’s not exactly a beautifully crafted finish (no time!) but don’t these fabulous prints sing of summer on a lovely day like today! Hope you are having a good one!

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Filed under patchwork, pattern, quilting, sewing, writing

Big Stitch Swap Finish

I am so overwhelmed by work at the moment that I am afraid this blog is suffering a bit. I had all sorts of plans that are rather going by the wayside… I have just got time to share a few pics of the zippy pouch I made for the Big Stitch Swap. It is all done and going in the post tomorrow.

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The only stipulation of the swap was that there should be a significant amount of hand-stitching. I cut scrap hexies with my Sizzix die cutter (those are 1″ hexies), and hand-stitched them together into flowers. I machined the flowers onto 6 squares of Essex linen (the shade is denim). I’ve done lots of echo quilting and highlight stitching using some Perle cotton I picked up (bizarrely) at our local Bric-a-Brac market.

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I used some Type Keys fabric by Patty Young for the lining, and made a little tag for the zip with beads and more perle thread.

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On the back of the pouch I used some slightly larger hexies, fussy cut to get some nice motivational phrases for struggling stitchers!

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I had such a brilliant time making it, everything seemed to come together so easily, and it is just how imagined it (how rare that feeling is!). I am going to have such great memories of this swap, thanks so much to Sarah and to Cindy for organising it. Now hears hoping it reaches its destination safely and quickly (always an anxious few days…!).


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It’s that ATC time again…

SWAP FULL – thanks everyone!

It’s time to swap some textile Artist’s Trading Cards! Regular readers know that this is a big deal round here at Very Berry… This is swap number four, and I know there are people patiently waiting to sign up. The swap will be limited to 40 places, so if you want to join in, move quickly, places usually fill up in a couple of days.

ATC Swap 4 button

FAQ

1) What’s an ATC?

ATC stands for Artist’s Trading Card, and it’s basically the creative, unique and arty version of a business card.

2) OK, so what’s the point of an ATC?

It’s a way to be creative on a small scale, try out new techniques and skills in a non-threatening way. Lots of people collect these mini pieces of art, swap them, and give them as gifts.

Books/Reading ATC by Sue Deere

ATC by Susan Deere

3) Ok, I’m interested, tell me the details – What size is an ATC? 

Your ATC must measure 3.5″x2.5″ (6.4cm by 8.9cm) – about the size of a business card. You can use the card in either portrait or landscape orientation. Don’t make the card too thick – no more than 1/8″ (3-4mm) please.

4) But what’s a textile ATC?

The majority of your ATC must be fabric and there must be at least a little bit of stitching involved. But otherwise, the world is your oyster. You can use any techniques that you want to try, e.g. applique, embroidery, patchwork, beading, cross-stitch, fusing fabrics, colouring fabrics, using fabric paints or ink stamps, you can even include crochet, weaving or knitting.

ATC by Lu Crosbie

ATC by Lu Crosbie

5) I’m really interested – where can I see some textile ATCs?

There is a Very Berry ATC swap group on Flickr, where you can see photos of cards made for previous swaps.

Spring ATC by Sian Slade

ATC by Sian Slade

6) Wow – they are brilliant, I’m in, where do I sign up?

Hang on, read the rules first!

  • You will make 1 ATC and receive 1 ATC in return.
  • Your card must:
    1. be the right size.
    2. fit the theme.
    3. include your name and the date on reverse (you can include your web address/email and the title of your card too if you want to).
  • The theme is ‘Getting Away from it All – please feel free to interpret that however you like!
  • Please sign up by leaving a comment on this post and dropping me an email at veryberryhandmade (at) gmail (dot) com by the end of Monday 28th July. I will send you an email with a few questions (just a bit of basic info for the swap) on Tuesday 29th July and you must respond by Friday 1st August. Partners will be assigned by Monday 4th August.
  • It will be a secret swap (you will not be sending to the person you receive your card from) so please don’t let your partner know who you are!
  • Participation is open to anyone anywhere in the world (the ATCs wont be too pricey to send), so please be prepared to send overseas if you join in (but I will *try* to make exceptions if you are really stuck for cash… just let me know).
  • Cards must be posted during the week 8-12 September (or a little earlier if you are posting overseas and you can manage it).
    Please do not include anything else in your parcel, except a little note if you like!
  • Once you have received your ATC, you must get in touch with your partner to say thanks… (I know, I don’t need to say this…!).
  • If you blog, use FB, Twitter or Instagram, please feel free to share your ATC swap progress, and definitely share pictures of the ATC you receive from your swap partner, if you can.
  • Serious bit: Before signing up, please think for a minute whether you can put aside enough time to make something lovely and thoughtful for your swap partner, and whether you will be able to meet the deadlines.

That’s it for now – leave a comment if you are in! Oh, and here’s a little button if you want one for your blog.

Very Berry Handmade
<div align="center"><a href="http://wp.me/p11YdZ-1DH" title="Very Berry Handmade"><img src="https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3921/14719699186_664fab412a_m.jpg" alt="Very Berry Handmade" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

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Craft Bomb Your Bike!

Craft Bomb your Bike front cover

My contributors’ copy of the new book Craft Bomb Your Bike has arrived. Back in December/January I felt like my entire life was devoted to this project, which proved far more complicated than I had imagined… But now all the effort seems worth it as I get to see my work in print ! And I did get to work with most favourite Heather Moore-designed Up, Up & Away fabrics.

My design is a bike basket liner which is convertible to a drawstring tote. Gosh, the struggles I had to make sure that the pattern was adaptable to any size bike basket (which seem to come in about 57 different varieties). I feel a bit queasy when I remember back to how tricky it was and how many pieces of paper I got through and how many prototypes I made… But I am pleased with how cute they have made it look:

Craft Bomb your Bike main pic

Here’s how it looks as a bag:

Craft Bomb your Bike inset pic

And I managed to get my lads into print too…

Craft Bomb your Bike me and the lads

This is us in our Cambridge days, when I used to trundle (and trundle is most definitely the word) round town on my wonderful yellow Pashley trike. Cute eh?

If you cycle and craft, or want to make cute goodies for the cyclists in your life, this is book is well worth a look. There’s sweet bunting, practical mittens, ear-warmers and leg-warmers, cute crochet flowers for your wheels, sweet birds to sit on your handle bars, even a cover for your bike lock. So many imaginative ideas, it’s well worth a look!

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Filed under books, craft, family, reviews