Author Archives: veryberryhandmade

About veryberryhandmade

Mum, artisan, gardener, baker, home-schooler

Arm and Finger Knitting

So excited to be part of the blog tour for a fab new book – Arm and Finger Knitting by Laura Strutt of Made Peachy. Here are the other dates if you want to be an Arm Knitting groupie!

Arm and finger knitting blog tour

It’s great when you get hold of a book about a craft that is completely new to you and you love it from the start… I was ordering yarn so that I could have a go, literally minutes after the book arrived through my letter box.

As you can see from the pictures here, a lot of the projects are really enticing, which made me enthusiastic about learning this new skill.

Arm and finger knitting collage

I sometimes find it really tricky to learn from pictures, but the ones in Arm and Finger Knitting are plentiful, clear and instructive, so I didn’t have too much trouble. I taught myself from the book and nearly completed an Infinity Scarf too, all in the time it took to watch a couple of episodes of Cranford (and drink a Cuba Libre!), so you can see how straightforward it is. And very gratifying having something to wear almost immediately. My kind of crafting!

I didn’t really know what to expect – for some reason I thought that arm knitting would involve enormous movements of the arms which would mean no one would share the sofa with me (result!), but it was much more restrained than that, and I found it very intuitive. I only had a couple of issues – I struggled a bit with casting on, because you really have to make sure you are holding each bit of yarn in the right place and in the right way, but once you see the sense of it, that flows pretty easily. When making the scarf itself, the pattern calls for you to use 4 strands of yarn, and I did make the rookie error of losing a strand at once stage – I had to unknit a couple of rows, but that’s no real trial when a row is only 8 stitches!

I confess I haven’t tried the finger knitting, but would really like to, especially as quite a few of the projects combine the two techniques really nice – I love the arm knitted cushion with the woven finger knitting strips, and will definitely be having a go of that one.  Looking at the technique pictures, and at some of the smaller things you can do with finger knitting (corsage, hair bow, hearts), I think it would be a great technique to do with kids. Especially with kids like mine who struggle with motor skills and would find fingers easier than knitting needles I am sure.

There’s a great mix of projects in the book – some for the home and some to wear, and I really like the variety of different yarns that are suggested too – there are lots that are new to me. Laura has a real knack for selecting the right yard for the right project, but if you want to start experimenting (why not?), there’s some really good information about how to substitute yarn for the projects in the book.

So, here’s my finished scarf!

Arm knitted scarf 2

 

I used the suggested yarn brands of Rowan Big Wool and Rowan Thick and Thin (and ordered from the super-fast Deramores who are fantastic), but chose different colours – I went with the Big Wool in a shade called Champion (every time I read that, I say it in a Yorkshire accent in my head), and for the Thick and Thin I selected the shade called Soapstone. When they arrived I was a bit worried that they wouldn’t work together, but they actually look great knitted up.

Here’s the scarf in action, all ready for the scary cold weather we have today:

Arm knitted scarf

I completely love it! So thanks to Cico Books for the opportunity to be part of the tour, and to Laura for writing such a fun book!

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Filed under books, inspiration, knitting, reviews

Putting together a Promo Postcard

I hope you’ve seen my postcard competition? I haven’t had very many entries (yet?) so I thought I would encourage you a bit with some waffle about why promo postcards are A Good Thing.

I love sending postcards to customers along with their parcels, I think it’s a great use of my marketing budget; I hope it’s one of the things that helps me stand out from the crowd.  I also love to send a personal note to say thanks, and I know from my feedback that my customers appreciate that too.

I like to have 2 or 3 different styles of postcard on the go at once. This is the current ‘general promo’ card that I send out:

Current postcards

My aim with this card is to highlight the different sides of my business – fabric selling and sewing pattern design. I chose some of my favourite images of my makes and of my fabric collection. Top tip 1My main aim here is to give an idea of my style, to give customers an idea of all the stuff I do (some of my fabric customers wont know that I blog and write sewing tutorials for example), and also to give them a way of contacting me if they need or want to.

I used PicMonkey to create the postcard jpg file to send to printers.  This free image editing software (you can upgrade to a paid for version if you want the ‘Royale’ features) is really excellent, especially for creating collages, where you can compile images, and add text and overlays. I really recommend it if (like me!) you haven’t got fancy software like Photoshop.

Recently I’ve also started to order a more general postcard, ready to post out with craft swaps, or to to send along with parcels to regular customers who have received all my other cards, and must be totally sick of them…! I like to have more that one of these on the go at once. I like to use pictures of something I have made, or if I can, something from my home town/area – I think this is especially good to include when I’m sending swaps. Here’s my most recent version – after mentioning it last week, I couldn’t resist getting one of my old ATCs printed up as a postcard. I splashed out an extra fiver and got them printed up on the back too.

Comps postcards

Top tip 2I shop around for good deals on postcards – I usually manage to get mine for between 20p and 25p per card (cheaper than a gift card!). I have used MOO, Goodprint and myprint247 – all with excellent results.  In the past I have also printed postcards myself, using plain index cards – they make a really good economy option.

Most online printers are really simple to use, it is just a question of making sure your image file is the right size and allowing for the bleed. These dimensions will always be listed on the printer’s website. It sounds hideous, but the bleed is just the area that will be trimmed off once your postcard is printed, so you need to make sure that there is no essential part of your image, and none of your text, is outside the smaller measurement that is listed for the card.

So why not have a think about how you’d promote your business on a postcard…I’d love to see your designs if you’d like to enter the competition.

 

 

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Filed under Business, competition, selling

Very Berry Postcard Comp!

I know from my Art Trading Card swaps that there are some wonderfully talented designers out there reading Very Berry. Online printers myprint247 spotted all that talent too, and got in touch to see if I wanted to work with them – so I jumped at the chance and asked if they would be interested in providing the prize for a postcard design competition. They did, so we are all systems go, and I am very excited to announce the launch of the Very Berry Postcard Design Competition!

myprint247

Here’s how it works….

There are 2 competition categories:

Favourite Art Postcard

The Art Postcard must be a photo of an original drawing, painting, print or piece of stitched art. It must be your own design – you can use stuff that you have created previously or stuff that you are already selling as an art print, but it must involve sewing, stitching, knitting, crochet or textiles in some way (either in subject matter or media used).

If I were entering, I would definitely submit the ATC I made a couple of years back:

Potential postcard

 ***

Favourite Promo Postcard

For this category you will need to submit a design to promote a business or service. The business or service must be craft related, and you must include some explanatory text about the business concerned. It needn’t be your own business!  Here’s my business postcard artwork to give you an example of what I mean:

Very Berry general postcard

  • Closing date for entries is 6 February 2015.
  • Email your entries to veryberryhandmade (at) gmail (dot) com.
  • Please use the same email address if you have any questions about the competition.
  • You may submit one entry in each category, but no more than 2 entries per person please.
  • Entries from the UK only please.
  • A shortlist for each category will be selected by me, and I will set up a poll for Very Berry readers to vote for their favourite starting on the 8 February.
  • Voting will close on the 12 February, and the winner will be announced on the 13 February 2015.
  • Please follow the myprint247 guidelines when you are sizing your artwork:
  • Full bleed size is 154mm x 111mm; Size of card after trimming is 148mm x 105mm; recommended resolution is 300dpi; if you can CMYK is preferable to RGB.

And, oh yes, the most important thing of all – the prize! The prize is 100 postcards made up in the winning designs by myprint247 for each category winner. So get doodling and editing those images! And good luck!

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Liberty pinks, some reading and news of a competition

A quick catch up is definitely in order, and I needed a pretty picture, so I thought I’d share the commission I’ve just finished – one of my Wallflower Liberty Cushions with some matching bunting. They will be off to the other side of the world very shortly:

Liberty pillow and bunting

 

I am not, as anyone who knows me will tell you, a big fan of pink… but these Liberty pinks are so charming that I am almost convinced. I am out of the market for commissions at the moment, but if you fancy having a go at making one yourself, you can buy a kit from my shop.

If you are interested in keeping up with my reading challenge (26 Books in 2015), I am still wading my way through Elizabeth Gaskell by Jenny Uglow. It is good stuff, but hard work sometimes (she knew so many people and I am not good with names!), and rather long (good long, but long all the same) at 600+ pages. I will need to read something a bit shorter for my next book – thanks for all the suggestions so far, you all have such great taste!  One aspect of the Gaskell’s life that has been really interesting to read about, is her struggle to find the space to meet the urge to write in her extraordinarily busy life as a mother, wife of a minister, and someone with a seemingly endless number of friends and acquaintances to visit and entertain. In my small way (clearly, I am not comparing myself to Elizabeth Gaskell!), I hugely relate to that sense of frustration (and sometimes exhaustion) that comes from trying to do ALL THE STUFF, including the boring bits…

Speaking of busy – I wanted to mention that I am launching a really exciting competition tomorrow! Working in conjunction with myprint247, I will be hosting a postcard design competition – open to people who want to create an art postcard (including photos of stitched art) and to people who would like to design a promotional postcard for a craft/handmade business. The prize will be 100 postcards made up to your design. More details tomorrow – but I hope lots of you will be inspired to join in.

 

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Filed under competition, fabric, sewing

Big Thoughts for 2015

I’m definitely not one for resolutions, but there is something irresistible about beginning a new year with better intentions. Like a lot of people I am sure, I have a tendency to set rather unachievable goals and then beat myself up when I inevitably fail to reach them (it isn’t just me, is it?). So I have taken a conscious decision to look back on my work in 2014, to smile and remember the highlights – those times when I really enjoyed the creative process.

2014 round up

 

I have learnt a lot in 2014. I have finally absorbed a piece of information that I knew, but hadn’t take in – that for me, creativity comes out of hard work and experimentation – there’s going to be no sudden inspirational moment (is that just a myth?). I am trying to celebrate the half finished projects that haven’t quite worked out (yet) and remind myself that they are not just waste of time and fabric. So my first Big Thought for 2015 is to keep working hard and to devote myself to the project in hand (rather than worrying about whether I should be doing something else), and just find out where it leads me.

But having adopted that thought, I need to stay on top of what I HAVE to do. So I am giving myself the chance to stay organised and have treated myself to a gorgeous new Daily Planner from The Journal Shop (if you are stationery geek, stay away if you value your savings!) that is a pleasure to use.

Iconic Seize the Day v. 2 // Daily Planner (Retro Orange)-31

 

This is the first time I have ever felt enthusiasm about a Diary/Planner, and my intention is that keeping on top of my To Do lists will become a positive habit.

My other Big Thought For The New Year is to take more time out to relax and refresh my brain without guilt that I should be loading the dishwasher/tending the garden/sewing some binding instead. But the only way to do this, for me, is to take it on as a challenge. Maybe it’s silly to take on relaxing as part of my day’s work, but I think it is the only way it’s going to happen. It’s all about giving myself permission to commit time to doing the stuff I enjoy. I hope there are people out there who get this rather than thinking I am nuts…!

Anyway…

I have signed up for a reading challenge to read 26 books in 2015:

I am starting with challenge number 13 – a book with a female hero – and reading Jenny Uglow’s biography of Elizabeth Gaskell, who is definitely a hero of mine, as well as being one of my favourite writers.  If any of you out there have any suggestions for any of the other 25, I would be very glad to hear about them. I have number 20 all sorted, and I am finally going to get round to reading The Kite Runner… I plan to record my progress on Instagram, if you want to follow me, and maybe devote a bit of blogging time to it too.

Have you had any big thoughts about the coming year?

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Filed under books, inspiration

Woops

I did the draw for the the Sewing Notions Quilt giveaway on Boxing Day, as promised, but in all the hectic-ness of Christmas, I completely forgot to update you all. A very helpful person on Instagram has reminded me (ironically in a comment on my photo of my fancy new Iconic Daily Planner!), I feel ashamed that I am now relying on people on Social Media to organise my blog for me… Anyway, here is the result of the draw:

Quilt winner

Comment number 12 was left by lovely Helen and the quilt is on its way to her as we speak!

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Welcome 2015 – the Winter Sparkles on!

I feel so proud that there are now nearly 400 photos of beautiful textile Artist Trading Cards in the Very Berry ATC swap group on Flickr… We have had 5 swaps over the 20 months since we started – and I think there might be a few amazing people who have done every swap (if that is you – please let me know – I have an idea of who you might be, but don’t want to name names in case I miss someone!). Over the months it has been fantastic to see how things have developed and how we have learned and been inspired by each other. This, for me, is the absolute best part about being involved in craft swaps and in the online crafting community generally.

You will be glad to know that I am planning another 3 or 4 swaps this year – the next will begin in early February, to cheer those of us for whom it can be a terribly dreary month…

I wanted to share some of the beautiful work from the latest swap – all with the theme Winter Sparkle.

ATC collage

 

These are by (clockwise from top left) Helen, Ali, Larisa, Beryl, Catherine, Maureen and Paula.

There are some equally gorgeous ones in the swap pool – do go and take a look.

I hope all the Very Berry readers out there have a very sparkly 2015!

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Filed under ATC