A life in the week

Would you like to know what I’ve been up to this week? Yes? Same here! These days it seems like the weeks fly by so fast, they sometimes blur into one. So while this blog is as much for you, dear reader, as it is for me I’ve decided to try and create a weekly round-up to remind myself of all the good (and maybe not so good) things that have made my week what it was. I warn you now, it won’t be earth-shatteringly interesting, just my life, in one week.

It feels like spring is finally here and it’s nice to bring a bit of it indoors. I love Tulips, they’re my favourite flower (I had them in my bridal bouquet and, in a moment of madness that I now blame on hormones, I briefly considered naming my daughter Tulip!).

It’s also been half term this week (for those of us that have kids). Except it feels like my four year old son Charlie has been on holiday for the last month as he has been laid up with a broken leg. He’s nearly better though and eager for some excitement. This week we decorated his plaster cast by drawing animals on it (at his behest) and took him to the park to blow away the cobwebs.

This week I was kindly sent a book from British Crafts called The Book of Forgotten Crafts, published by David & Charles Ltd. Written by Paul Felix, Sian Ellis and Tom Quinn, the book seeks to keep the old craft traditions alive and as well as some of the well-known crafts there’s also some more obscure ones including skep-making, clog-making and rhubarb forcer-making. It’s a book that I think would appeal to both men and women as there’s a few crafts in there that I reckon blokes would love to get into – bagpipe-making anyone??

On Thursday, we decided to be home tourists and go to Ilkley for the day. It’s a lovely town with vibrant streets and plenty of independent shops, restaurants and bars as well as some well-known names such as Betty’s tearooms. The charity shops in Ilkley are also mighty fine and I really wanted to check out a great shop called Cakewalk which sells vintage and retro pieces while also showcasing designer-makers from all around the region.

Cakewalk, Ilkley
Victorian Arcade, Ilkley

Clocks on display in White Stuff, Ilkley

We had a gorgeous walk down by the river and a great lunch at a place called Smooth. I managed to pick up some craft supplies so that I can get creative and carry on with some of the jewellery-making techniques I learned last week. I also bought some lovely wool in a great Parma Violet colour, which will be knitted into something very cute by my talented mum (she’s a ferocious knitter and creates the most amazing garments for my kids – see below).

This afternoon we were invited with the kids to have a play and some tea at a friend’s house. The kids played and the adults drank tea and ate cake. Earlier today I got my button stash out and decided to make a brooch in my friend’s favourite colours by way of a small thank you for the invite. Here’s the result. I think everyone I know is now going to end up with a button brooch! Bye for now, Kathryn x


Something for the Weekend

Some greetings cards don’t need words to make you smile, feel happy or even convey a meaning. Lucy Monkman’s illustrations are just so and her latest range of cards are upbeat, cute and perfect for adults or children alike.

As a freelance illustrator, Lucy has worked in design, editorial, publishing and her clients have included Harpers & Queen, Woman’s Journal, Junior, Paper House and Penguin Books. Her work has spanned abstract art, fashion and children’s illustration and always combines line drawing and collage. Luckily for us, she recently went on to create her own collection of designs for cards, notebooks and stationery.


Second-hand buttons

This is a slightly gratuitous post but all of you button lovers out there will hopefully appreciate (or sympathise with) this one.
I went to one of my favourite charity shops the other day (luckily located just down the road from where I live) and lo and behold, they had a great stash of second-hand buttons. Normally I would have just looked, admired, toyed and coveted them but since I learned how to make jewellery from buttons recently, I now have the perfect excuse to buy them. Here’s a selection of some of my favourites so far. I hope to have transformed them into wearable objects of desire before too long. Which ones do you like the best?


Making jewellery

Is there any more satisfying and smug phrase in the English language than, “actually, I made it myself”? Not really and I have to admit to being very pleased with myself after attending a one day jewellery making workshop with the brilliant ArtisOn team in Masham, North Yorkshire.

I was lucky enough to win a free place on the workshop after entering a twitter competition last year. I decided to choose the Extraordinary Jewellery course as I liked the sound of making things out of everyday, recycled or found objects. Our tutors for the day were the lovely Josie Beszant and Rosie Scott Massie, both professional artists and designer-makers themselves, who were inspiring, encouraging and patient in equal measure. This is how I got on.

The course was split into four sections, teaching us four different techniques and the skill level increased incrementally, which was great as we slowly built up our confidence. We started by making a bracelet using safety pins threaded with beads. This was simple but the results were so effective and I really enjoyed choosing the different coloured and shaped beads (I am such a magpie I realise).

Finished bracelet

The next stage taught us how to make our own beads by tightly winding strips of paper (in this case Monopoly money) onto cocktail sticks, which were then glued and strung together with thread. This was quite tricky but you could create some great effects with different kinds of paper.

At this point, we broke for lunch and enjoyed a delicious home-made meal of vegetarian Shepherd’s pie followed by Apple Crumble and custard!

 The afternoon session pushed the difficulty rating up a notch as we were shown how to make a button brooch by threading a selection of old and new buttons onto thin wire. This sounds easier than it was and required a bit more patience and elbow grease (attributes I’m not naturally blessed with) but, as you know, I love buttons so was determined to make a success of this one. Lots of lovely rummaging in pots and boxes was also involved as I tried to choose my favourite buttons. Perhaps I could just pay ArtisOn a small fee in future, so that I can just go and look through their stores of craft paraphernalia…?

Finished brooch

Flushed with success, and fuelled by tea and homemade Rolo tarts (amazing!), we ploughed on to the fourth and final segment of the day, which involved customising jewellery. Again, there was lots to excite my inner magpie including old charity shop necklaces, watch parts, ribbons, lace, beads and broken pieces of jewellery. In fact there was almost too much choice and I nearly ran out of time. However, it was useful to learn how to dismantle existing pieces of jewellery and add new items, using different fixings. In the end I simply attached an old pressed flower pendant to a string of plastic beads – not very imaginative but I quite like the finished result.

“Yeah, I made it myself!”

 For more information and to book a course visit www.artison.co.uk


Something for the Weekend

You know I like a good teapot but I’ve often erred on the side of vintage, retro, even slightly chintzy designs. There, I have admitted it and one day I might even reveal my teapot collection to you all. However, I could certainly deviate from this path to include one of Lizzie Prestt’s teapots.

Lizzie’s cityscape illustrations cover lots of other things too, including fabric and wallpaper so you could find yourself sitting on a very cool sofa covered in one of her drawings of Amsterdam, staring at a wall covered in her English City Break print or drinking tea from a cup covered in England-upon-Sea (or all three?).

While I really like Lizzie’s endlessly interesting designs, I love the ceramics she has chosen for this part of her range too. This teapot is modern, angular and monochrome (words not usually on my checklist of teapot attributes) but it still oozes charm and character and what a fab talking point, if you needed one?