Monday, May 21, 2012

Reclaim your jeans!

Whilst spending an hour (or three) browsing the web, I found this fascinating website on craftgawker.  I want to share this with you, so when you've finished here, pop over to and have a look at the original.

I've had this particular pair of jeans for many, many years, and every summer they come out again - they are beautifully soft after repeated washings, faded to a lovely pale blue, and quite flared with boho-style unfinished hems.  Sadly, they have aged better than I have, so when I saw how to reclaim 1" - 2" on the waistband, I was hooked.

Basically, you just remove the too-tight original waistband, and replace it with a folded fabric tie-belt.

I had saved an old king-sized duvet cover from one of my many colour scheme changes, so I just cut a length off one of the long sides.  This craftily included the side seam which acted as the top edge, saving me a bit of sewing (you could cut a wider piece of fabric and just fold it, that will work too).

I'm delighted with how this turned out - and it only took about 45 minutes to do from start to finish.  So thanks to MeiJo's Joy, I  have reclaimed a pair of jeans, just in time for summer.

Monday, May 14, 2012


After much hair-pulling and gnashing of teeth, I gave up trying to be clever with my hat-making, and spent an hour yesterday evening sewing the plastic hair band to the inside of the hat.

And it works!  Thank goodness the hat itself is straw - I'm not sure any other material would have been so forgiving.  Luckily I found some thread in exactly the right shade of red, so any wayward stitches are invisible to the naked eye.

I love it!  I'm pleased with the rakish angle, the colours, and of course, the fact that it cost less than £6.00 to make.  Philip Treacy, eat your heart out .............

Monday, May 7, 2012

I love it when a plan comes together!

For many, many months I have been intending to create a website.  Nothing fancy, you understand, just an additional promotional tool to share my creations with the world, and maybe sell a couple of them to discerning purveyors of hand-crafted uniquery (is that a word, even?).

So off I go, trawling the depths of the internet, trying to find a cheap (free?) website builder that I can actually understand.  Now I'm not saying: "love me, love me, I'm thick", but - why the flaming heck is this so difficult?  Am I really that dense?  I thought I was fairly computer savvy but clearly not!

My first attempt met with abject failure.  It isn't often I'm reduced to a gibbering wreck by a piece of software, but this was one of those times.  I don't usually give up without a fight, but resistance was futile.  I simply could not get my brain wrapped round what I needed to do to get what I wanted.  Time to stomp off in a huff, muttering ladylike expletives, vowing never to try doing anything remotely 21st century again.

Until I found

Oh, Weebly, I love you. You have restored my mood to that of calm, capable, unflappable, swift of finger and appraising of eye.  I am inserting images, creating pages, typing copy and building a website worthy of a Crafty Little Owl.  Deep sigh of contentment.

I shall let you know when 'Crafty Little Owls - The Website' goes live.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

I thought this would be so easy .......!

Hmmm.  This hat-making lark is a bit trickier than I thought.  The flowers are well stuck on in a pleasing arrangement, and that's about as far as I have got.

I'm having trouble sticking the actual hat to the plastic headband - an enthusiastic attempt to glue it on met with mild disaster.  Unfortunately the glue I used promptly melted the plastic on the headband, leaving gooey smears on the inside of the hat, and refusing to stick at all!  Double sided tape, I hear you say.  Nope, no good either, although it does stick remarkably well to hair, as I found to my cost.

Mr Owls has been his usual proactive self, suggesting Araldite, staples, gaffer tape, rivets or nuts and bolts.  I'm not sure he's taking this seriously ........

I think the trusty needle and thread are going to be the way to go, as long as I keep Alan Rickman/Sheriff of Nottingham in mind, and "keep the stitches small".

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Summer Wedding

My best friend is getting married in August, so we've spent some girly time together doing the dress/hat/shoes thing in Bristol.

Her wedding dress is sorted - it's gorgeous and suits her beautifully, but I'm afraid you'll have to wait for the photos (obviously).  So - what am I going to wear?

You have probably already sussed that I am reluctant to spend a lot of money on things that can't be used more than once.  When we were trying on accessories (and having a good giggle at the same time), I was amazed at the prices being charged for items that frankly, I'd struggle to justify buying.  Example - cream and navy straw hat = £100.  Small red fascinator = £30.  Plain mid-heel court shoes = £30.  Er, no.

Luckily for me, I have a dress that I bought for a friend's wedding reception last year, and it still fits!  It's a fitted shift dress in a fairly firm soft-sheen satin, in a floral red, gold and navy pattern.  I also bought a red patent handbag.  The shoes I wore then have been jettisoned purely because I couldn't keep the damn things on (mules from Nine West - perfect if you don't actually need to move).  I liked wearing red shoes, so that's the first thing I went looking for.

Hurrah for charity shops!  I found a brand new pair of red patent peep-toe court shoes with a wedge heel in a nearby Scope shop (£4) which are very comfy, flattering, and should be OK for walking, standing, dancing, etc.  Now for the hat.  I'm not exactly a wild social butterfly, so proper lady hats don't feature largely in my wardrobe - do they in yours?  But this is my best friend's wedding.  I must have a hat.

Remember those fascinators for £30?  Well, when you look at them, there isn't really that much to them, is there?  So I have gathered together a selection of bits, with the intention of creating my own unique headgear and not having a hissy fit if I stand on it, sit on it, lose it, break it or get it soaking wet - we are talking August in England, don't forget.

OK.  The red straw hat is a child's sunhat from another charity shop (£1.50).  It had a sad, flattened flower on the front (you can see where I cut it away from the crown at the bottom of the picture).

The flowers are all hair decorations from our local pound shop, as are the three plastic hairbands.  Total cost of trimmings - £4.  The colours haven't really come out as they are - the orchid is more golden, the rose is deep red and the navy chiffon flowers are darker than they appear.  Anyhoo, I shall be wielding my glue gun and sewing needle shortly, so I'll make sure I get some photos of the finished article (however it turns out!)

Have a lovely crafty day!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

I love a bargain ....

.... and I'm always on the look out for little trinkets to add to my stash of potential presents.  I found something interesting on a recent shopping trip which caught my eye; they were so colourful I couldn't resist them.

These cockerels were in a dusty bargain bin, reduced to 50p each because the packaging had disintegrated and all the magnets on the backs had fallen off - no problem.  Back home, a quick wash in hot soapy water, clean off the dried glue, then fix new magnets with epoxy glue.  Ta-da!  They are quite big, too, so they will be  an eye-catching addition to any boring old kitchen appliance!

Don't you love the sad looks you get from the shop assistants when you plonk your purchases down at the till - who, in their right mind, would buy four plastic chickens that don't actually do anything?  Hmm, round one to me, I think!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Where's the sunshine?

After a couple of days of warm spring sunshine, I decided it was time to make something that's been rattling round in my brain for a while.  Mr Owls and I like to sit outside in the garden whenever the sun is shining, only returning indoors when it gets a bit chilly.  However, after replacing our clay chiminea (after a pet related incident with a lead and an excited dog) with a metal one, the temptation to stay out into the evening with a cosy fire warming our toes is pretty strong!

A bit of ambient lighting in the garden never goes amiss, and I love fairy lights, candles and all things bright to make the outside space seem warm and welcoming.  So - I made these.

They were really quick to make, too!  I got the artwork from a book I bought at an art materials sale at my college:  "Floral Patterns" from The Pepin Press (Agile Rabbit Editions) which has a CD-ROM so you can download the patterns to use on your own projects.

If you want to have a go, here's what you need for each one:

A clean glass jar (I used a coffee jar with the label soaked off - try to peel it off in one piece, to use as a template)
An A4 sheet of tracing paper (for the dahlia jar) or an A4 sheet of printable acetate (for the paisley jar)
Some heat-resistant double sided sticky tape
Scissors or a craft knife, ruler and cutting mat (to save ruining your work surface)
A small church candle or a tealight candle
An inkjet printer
Your chosen design (download one of your favourite photos, or use some free downloadable images - scrapbook sites have some lovely ones)

Measure your peeled-off label - mine was about 675mm long by 74mm high.   This is the size of your wrap-around image.  If you can't get the label off in one piece, don't worry, just wrap a piece of newspaper around your jar, mark the ends, top and bottom of where you want the paper to wrap, and make your template that way.

Get your chosen image on screen, and using software like GIMP or Photoshop, crop and resize your image to fit your label measurements.

Print your image.  I've found that while the acetate paper behaves itself beautifully, the tracing paper likes to curl up as it comes out of my printer, and the ink is still wet in places.  So, carefully take the printed tracing paper out of the printer and lay it flat somewhere to finish drying.

When your printed image is dry, lay it out on your cutting mat and trim it.  Nearly there now!

Place a strip of double-sided tape down one side of your clean, dry glass jar.  You might notice a faint seam in the glass from the manufacturing process - that's a good guideline to keep your tape vertical.  Peel off the backing from the tape, and position one edge of your printed image on the tape.  Now just wrap the tracing paper/acetate slowly around the jar, until the edges meet over the tape.  Press down with your finger.

That's it - you're done!  Put your candle in the jar, light it, stand back and admire your handiwork.  As you can see from the photos, the tracing paper gives a lovely soft glow when your candle is lit; the acetate is more like stained glass.  The jars do get very warm, so best keep them out of the way of small children.

I find it quite difficult to get tealights lit once they are inside their holders, so I make a little holder by cutting a length of firm but bendy wire (sorry, I have no idea about gauge or thickness, trial and error for me!), wrapping one end around a narrow jar or bottle - I used a can of body spray! - to make a circle for the tealight to sit on.  Put the wire inside your jar, and bend the end over the top of the jar so you don't inadvertently stab yourself with the sharp end.  Now you can lower your tealight or candle into the jar without burning yourself, and lift it out easily to replace it when it burns out.

You might have some old drinking glasses that have gone a bit frosty in the dishwasher - you could recycle them by using them for this project, rather than just throwing them away.

I'm also working on a way to cut empty wine bottles to use instead of coffee or jam jars - that's still a work in progress at the moment!

I'd love to see your pictures if you decide to have a go at this project - it's very satisfying, and they do look gorgeous lit up in the garden.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Here's one I made earlier ..........

..... and I liked it, so I made another!

I found a great tutorial here: showing me what I needed to create these lovely 'eggs in a nest' pendants (I made another for myself afterwards!).  These were supposed to be 'practice' but I was so pleased with my initial efforts, I decided to put them on silver chains.  Mr Owls liked them so much, he suggested one for his mother, who will be celebrating her birthday next week.  He chose the one on the left for her, and I will be giving the grey pearl and silver one to my Mum for her birthday today.  Happy birthday, Mum!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

It's been a while ....

... since I've posted anything here.  To be honest, I've been rather busy with college work, exams, etc., so anything creative has been put to one side for a while.  Plus the weather has been a bit dire, so any opportunities for taking photos to share with you have been limited, to say the least!

Anyway.  I have begun to have a go at some of those fascinating ideas that you see from time to time, and promise yourself you will try - as soon as you have time!  Once I've arranged them artfully and photographed them, I will show you what I've been doing lately.

To keep things ticking over, I have relisted this piece of photo art in my Folksy shop, LittleOwls.  This floral print always cheers me up, it's so bright and sunny.  I also have access to an A3 printer now, so I'm itching to see how this looks as a piece of wall art.  I'm sure Mr Owls would be happy to produce a suitable frame, once I've decided what style I'd like ..................

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Solar Flares

Has anyone been lucky enough to see any Northern Lights yet?  It's been a bit cloudy in the evenings here, so any charged ion particles (I love Professor Brian Cox) have been hidden from view.

However, the solar activity has spread to my work-table!  I was asked to make some Sunburst Earrings for my sister-in-law after she saw the green and purple ones on Folksy.  She wanted red ones, and guess who didn't have enough red seed beads?  So.  Where could I find red seed beads before sis-in-law went home to Scotland?  My local pound shop came up trumps once again.  A multi-strand beaded bracelet had three strands of red seed beads mixed in with some larger plastic discs - saved!  Duly purchased, cut up and re-threaded.  I hope she likes them!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Sunshine Sunbursts

A beautiful sunny day in Little Owls land today - and I wanted to celebrate!  These earrings are based on a traditional mandala shape, which apparently is frequently used in Buddhist and Hindu religions.  They have spiritual significance in establishing a sacred space.
I've been asked to make a pair of these for my sister-in-law in red with silver fittings - I've sourced the beads from a local charity shop.  I wish I could buy time at the charity shop, too, though.  As soon as I get them finished I'll post a photo so you can see how they turned out.

Have a lovely day.

Monday, March 5, 2012

It's been a funny old day!

First thing today I was faffing.   Yep, just sitting here thinking about all the things I wanted to get done; well, I've done some of them!  Not all, I hasten to add, but some.  The college project has been started, my parcel has been posted, and I have taken pics of the two scarves that have been sitting on the dining room table, waiting for a dry day so I can get all arty-farty with them.  Ready for my close-up, Mr de Mille!

I can feel another of these coming on, so maybe the moss green chunky will have to wait a while ....... a satisfied Little Owl this evening.

Not enough hours .....

..... in a day to get through everything I want to do!  I sold my blue-trimmed traditional-style baby shawl yesterday, so there are only two left in my Folksy shop; a mint green trimmed and a pale yellow trim.  So it's off to the post office shortly with a parcel.

Thankfully the weather is lovely this morning; sunny, breezy and mild so the walk will be good.

I had planned to start a major college project today, so I guess that will have to be rescheduled - and I have been asked by a family member to make her a pair of beaded earrings, which I have yet to start. And I have two big skeins of gorgeous mossy green chunky wool that are calling to me - no idea what they want to be, but I'm dying to get started, whatever it is!  There are two crochet scarves waiting to be photographed and listed on Folksy, and I found a super-easy pattern on for a long-sleeved shrug that would be perfect over a sleeveless tunic I have been planning to make from a vintage 1960s pattern ... and yesterday I found a large bag of multi-coloured glass pebbles that I have a few ideas for as well!

Note to self - stop faffing and get on with it!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Springtime is on the way ....

.... and doesn't it cheer a body up?  Everyone seems so much happier when the sun shines.  Every morning when I walk my dog, Dougie, I notice different signs that spring and summer are waiting in the wings: daffodils, snowdrops, crocus and lots of new birds' nests.  It's about this time of year that our annual frog migration takes place, from who knows where, to the lake in the nearby park.  Some kind people actually go out every evening with buckets to collect the frogs that are trying to cross a busy road, and take them to the lake safely.  Dougie doesn't quite know what to make of the frogs we encounter during our evening constitutional - goodness knows what the frogs make of him!

And why are the frogs on the march?  Because it's time to think about maybe making a few extra little froglets!  The urge to create is very strong during sunny days, with rising temperatures and longer daylight hours.  Have you noticed a desire to get making? Do you have twitchy fingers? Feel like dusting off the sewing machine/finding a matching pair of knitting needles/gluing things to other things, just to see what it looks like?

I came across this while I was attempting to tidy my bedroom this morning: carefully folded in tissue paper ready for a lucky new baby.  I have listed it in my Folksy shop, Little Owls, and I'd like to share it with you.  It was made a little while ago, but it's still a lovely piece of work.  I think traditional items like this still have a place in our modern world, don't you?

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Oh, wrap up ....

..... in my latest completed creation.  The weather has finally allowed me to take my fully charged camera outside to take some pics, at long last.

This chunky crochet scarf worked up so quickly, I have another two awaiting end-weaving (boo) and fringe-knotting (hooray) before I can snap away at those, too.  I love the depth and softness of this scarf, which is warm without being too bulky.  I saw a beautiful scarf on which inspired me to create this:  I'd been itching to use my new 10mm crochet hook!

Of course, we are all waiting for Spring and the chance to leave the woolly scarves at home - but you never know in this country!  You can buy this scarf from my Folksy shop,

Thursday, February 23, 2012

And so to college ....

After a two-week break, I'm back at college.  The (non-craft related) course I'm doing requires me to do additional skills practice outside the college (ie. out in the big wide world), and so far, so good.  But hang on - if I'm practising skills, writing essays, preparing presentations and case studies and attending college for a full day each week, when do I get to do my crafting?

Note my priorities - 'crafting', not 'housework', 'gardening', or 'exercise' ........... and I'm quite comfortable with that!

More photos to follow, maybe tomorrow :)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Back home, duly refreshed ....

.... from a few days away in Cornwall and boy, was it cold!  Lots of lunches out, visits to coffee shops, and a trip to a local market that had a weekend antiques and vintage fair (bliss).  I bought a gorgeous vintage coat, which I was slightly perturbed to hear was a genuine 1970's label.  1970s, vintage?  What does that make me?  Veteran?  Antique?  Archaic?  Prehistoric?  Perhaps I'll begin referring to myself as a genuine 1960s model, one careful owner ........

As previously mentioned, I've now finished my crochet handbag, and I'm really pleased with the result.

This was made from a couple of balls of chunky wool I picked up in a local charity shop.  The flower is actually a fabric table decoration, one of six from another charity shop.  The bag is lined with new, cream cotton fabric I had left over from lining some curtains, so it's a real recycled beauty!  I think it will be appearing shortly in my Folksy shop, Little Owls.

And did I get any inspiration from my break-ette in Cornwall?  Oh, yes - you will see the results over the coming weeks.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Holiday Time

Off to Cornwall for a few days to stay with my mum in her cottage - I usually get overloaded with inspiration whenever I go away, anywhere!  I'm taking some yarn and a giant crochet hook so I can finish a chunky scarf I started yesterday.  Although I do know of a wonderful wool shop in the nearby town where I can happily spend an hour or so ..........

For a couple of days we will be 'ladies who lunch' (and then sleep it off in the conservatory). I'm planning at least one beach walk with my dog, so maybe I should take one of these?

If you are planning (or even already enjoying) a half-term mini-break, I hope you have a restful and inspirational time, and come back buzzing with ideas and motivation for the spring.  I'll be back soon.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Granny? Boho!

A good day for taking photos yesterday - if my camera battery had been fully charged, that is!  Grrr - just managed three before realising it wasn't 'plinking' at me like usual.  Oh well.  Here's one of my latest creations, a pretty, boho granny square scarf that took a bit longer to finish than I expected - but I'm pleased with the result.  It's my latest listing in my Folksy shop,

Like the artful arrangement of twigs in the pots in the background?  They aren't dead, they just look it!  I keep looking at the garden and thinking 'it needs a good tidy up' - or a flamethrower.  I think I'll wait until the weather warms up a bit!

Monday, February 13, 2012

To sell, or not to sell?

Well, I know it's been a while since my last post - to be honest, I've been quite busy with Christmas (yes, it has been that long!), college work (exam, assignments, placements) that I've been neglecting my blog.

Motivation has been a bit - well, missing, in the craft department.  However, I've decided it's kick-up-the-bum time, so it's time to let the world know that this blog exists, and to share what I love making.

So.  The camera is charging, the hand-crafted goodies are piling up, so I'm going to have a go at posting some photos - oo-er, missus!

I made this little wooden heart brooch a little while ago - the fabric came from an old blouse I was throwing away (I love to recycle!), and I picked out the centre of each little flower with a silvery peel-off sticker, before varnishing and adding a brooch back.  You can buy this from my Folksy shop, if you fancy a handmade Valentine's gift!