Monday, 16 June 2014

Fancy a Swap?

The very lovely Betty from Betty the Wood Fairy is hosting a From My Home to Yours swap, where you send 4 items (at least one of them must be handmade) to your swap partner reverent to your country, county or town

There is still time time sign up as partners will be listed on the 20th June. So if you fancy receiving some gorgeous goodies in the post from another part of the world then pop over to Betty's blog and leave a comment.

Monday, 2 June 2014

What I am focusing on - Blog Hop

I really want to get back into regular blogging and what better way than taking part in a blog hop. I haven't done many of these and always find it hard to write about myself but my friend Joy from Daisy Row nominated me and I thought this would be an ideal way to get the ball rolling. You can read all about Joy and her answers to the blog hop questions here.

For those of you who have been following my blog for some time will know a bit about me, but for those of you that are new to my blog I am a wife and mum (to 2 teenagers, Rachel 16 and Jack 14, and our wonderful surprise number three Tomas aged 6). I began crafting on a regular basis when I broke my elbow quite badly and had a lot of time on my hands there was also a cross stitch shop just around the corner so this became my favourite haunt and a way to while away the time in between operations. My one sewing machine and small box of fabrics and cross stitch kits has grown in my nearly 20 years of marriage and I now have my own workroom in the garden where I store/hoard fabric, yarn and buttons and create handmade goodies on one of my four sewing machines!!

So, into the blog hop questions ;

What am I focusing/working on now?

Right now I am focusing on working through my huge "to do" list without getting sidetracked by new projects, ideas and fabrics. This I find very hard indeed. I have become very busy lately with both orders on my facebook page and with all the wonderful talents swaps I am taking part in and although I am really enjoying the challenges this brings I need to make sure I balance my sewing time with my other pastimes (mainly my photography) and spending time with my hubby who is now at home after taking early retirement. I'm really lucky that we both have hobbies that are based at home ( he keeps canaries) so we get to spend time together but because I have been so busy lately it has meant I have been sewing almost every day and sometimes in the evenings.

How does my work differ from others of its kind?

I'm not really sure my work is different from others of its kind as I don't have a unique style or create one particular thing. In fact I get bored really quickly and love that one day I can be making cushions and then next superhero capes. I am inspired by the creations on Pinterest and try to put my own spin on the things I make and generally I find that the things I make grow during their making process so I don't often start with a set idea. I know this may sound silly but my fabrics tend to end up as a particular thing not through planning but often through last minute brainwaves and their ability to letting me know what they want to be. I have had fabrics sitting on my shelves for years waiting to be made into some such project and they have been discarded for others only for them to suddenly be the perfect piece for something completely different.

Why do I create what I do?

When my hubby worked shift work I cross stitched to fill the time I was at home alone especially night shifts. I then sewed to create things for our home and eventually for our children. I then made a couple of bags and gave them as presents and that was the beginning of Mad About Bags. Since starting my blog I have taken part in lots of swaps and I really love choosing the right project to make for my swap partner depending on their likes and dislikes. This has grown then where I tend to make mostly bespoke items on my facebook page and I relish a fabric hunt looking for the perfect fabric to create something that is personal to the recipient.

How does my writing/creating process work?

My creating process begins with an order or a swap and then I try to find out as much as I can about the wants and likes of who the project is for and then look into fabrics and designs using Pinterest as a way of gauging the persons style etc. then fabric choice is one of my favourite pastimes and I have been know to order fabrics from Japan and France to make sure I have the right piece. Fabrics then, as I said before, tend to let me know what they want to be or not be! (I can't help it I'm wierd!)
I can be a great proscratinator and I have been know to leave projects till the last minute because they just don't feel right and I definitely am at my most productive when under pressure. It still amazes me that things that I make are all over the world and are in people's homes. It's satisfying to know that what I have made has been perfect for the person it was intended for.

Okay so that is enough about my weird and wonderful crafting antics so now all I have to do is introduce you to the three bloggers that I have nominated to continue the blog hop. I have been following all three of these bloggers for sometime and am always inspired by their makes and their blog posts about their lives. I have also been involved in swaps with all three of these lovely ladies.

First up is

Kimberley from Creative Chaos.

Kimberley may live half way around the world but we share lots of common interests and are penfriends too, although I am slightly rubbish at regular correspondence. We also send each other happy mail parcels of tea bags and toiletries!

Here is a little about Kimberley

Married to Stephen for 18 years. Three boys Joshua (15), Kieran (13) and Ryan (10). Was a stay at home mum for 12 years before getting back into working at school libraries. Am a qualified and professionally registered librarian working at an awesome school in one of NZ's poorest areas. Have lived in the UK and Australia and not much would stop me from moving countries again! Love to travel, take photos, write letters (Have had penfriends for decades and always looking for more!), scrapbook, garden, blog. Biggest love would be knitting and wool (corner of bedroom looks like a wool shop!). Always knitting something and always knitting socks! And dishcloths lately too. A wool hoarder. :) Sew occasionally. Have an obscene amount of stationery/writing cards/paper, but that does not stop me buying more. Love tea, magazines, pottering, being at home a bit, doing laundry (yes!), baking, road trips, bookshops, shoes, New Zealand made products, autumn, spicy food, op shopping (but never find much) and blog swaps! Have picked up part time university study again this year (aiming to do 4 papers this year!), which is good, but motivation is my big thing (or rather lack of). A pretty busy life, working, studying and running around after boys!

Gem from Gem's Country Life Dream

Gem and I live on the outskirts of the same city and I have had the pleasure of meeting her in person. I have been following Gem's blog for some time and am inspired by her zest for learning new crafts and I love reading how Gem and James are creating their first home together as they begin their life journey together.

Soon to be married Gem, 26 years old living with fiancé James on the outskirts of a small village just outside of Chelmsford city centre. We have always dreamed of living our life in the country, in a typical little English cottage surrounded by land with our own small holding. We are currently getting a small taste of what life for us could be like, living in a beautiful little bungalow situated on an old apple orchard. This is our first home together and I have loved nothing more than making little bits and pieces for our first home together. I've taught myself the majority of the crafts I partake in including sewing, knitting and cross stitch but have had lessons in flower arranging and completed workshops in felting and upholstery. I'm very hands on and like to give anything a try. I've no idea where my fondness of crafts has come from as I don't really remember crafting a great deal as a child and no one else in my family is very creative in a textiles sense, although I shan't grumble, it is a lifestyle I am quite taken with and intend it to stay that way.

Emma from My Red Wellies

The thing I love about blogging is you find people from all over the world who share common interests. I have enjoyed reading about Emma's life as a mum to two small children and again how her and her partner have created their own little haven in rural Scotland. We share a passion for photography and family life.

I'm a Mum to two, Iona (2) and Ian (5). I live in rural Scottish countryside, next to an old kirkyard.
I garden - or at least try to, I sew, bake, cook, crochet and generally run around after the two small people.
I take far too many photographs and am getting back into blogging properly again.

Phew! I shall just manage to post this before midnight meaning that it is still Monday!!

Thank you to Joy for nominating me and don't forget to pop along to Kimberley's, Gem's and Emma's blogs to find out more about them and to read their blog hop post next Monday xx

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Share Your Country Swap

Back in January (it really can't have been that long ago!) Kimberley over at Creative Chaos organised a 
with the idea being to send 5 things that symbolise the country you live in / were born in.

Something to eat; something hand made by you that represents your country;  a tourist nick nack; a stationery item ie notecards,postcards, a pen; a souvenir tea towel. 

I was paired with the very lovely New Zealander

 Elaina from A Little Bit Country

Now Elaina made it very easy for me as her About Me page on her blog is very informative
and having decided that as we are both excessive tea drinkers, a tea is so very English, that this would have to be one of the themes along with London as this is where Elaina met her husband and fell in love, not only with an Englishman, but with the city.
You can read about Elaina's London story here 

Before I show you what I sent to Elaina here is the wonderful package that Elaina put together for me.

some very tasty sweets that I ate in hiding in my workroom as I didn't want to share 
(is that mean of me?)

These sweet little bags (I am growing quite a collection of these from my new Zealand swaps) and some Manuka honey soap

Some delicious teas - which I'm looking forward to trying

a very bright and cheerful New Zealand bird tea towel

a handmade necklace showing the islands of New Zealand and a New Zealand magnet

a New Zealand themed tea pot shaped tea bag/spoon rest

some postcards of Elaina's favourite beach and a gorgeous summer magazine which i am going to enjoy reading now that the sun has come out here in England.

And here is what I sent Elaina, 
everything either had a tea, London or red, white and blue theme.

I found this fabulous red, white and blue London, tea pot fabric 
which I made into a quilted mug rug

and these cute lavender filled tea bags

because I thought Elaina might want to make something for herself from the fabrics I added a little bundle of them

along with this London ribbon

I have an old map book in my stash and used this London part to make a felt heart

and I found these super wartime London tea themed stickers on ebay.

I know that Elaina loves to collect china and I was really lucky on one of my charity shop hunts to find this little trinket box

And finally I sent some teabags 

 and some shortbread

Thank you to Kimberley for organising such a wonderful swap and thank you to Elaina for putting together such a lovely swap parcel.

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