Thursday, 8 December 2011

6 Ideas for a Handmade Christmas

 So no doubt by now you've already got the decorations up, the cards written & posted, the presents bought & wrapped and a stash of home made mince pies ready for any unexpected visitors who might just pop by.... no?... me neither!

Not sure if I've ever been organised for Christmas - it always just kind of creeps up on me and then before I know it, I've left it all too late and I beat myself up over how I should have done it and promise myself it will be different next year. I'm sure I'm not alone here (right??!)

Part of my problem is that I over commit my time - there are always commissions at this time of year, as well as the private sales I hold locally for my Get Smitten items and I usually have a whole list of gifts I want to make as presents too... not to mention the ideas I have for decorations for the house

Here's a round up of all the things I wish I had time to make this Christmas...

 First up is the totally gorgeous pompom wreath by Danielle Thompson... oh, I love the colours she has used in this (actually I love most of her work, Danielle is my kitschy vintage heroine!) It took her forever and she recommends using a pompom maker - as opposed to the good old fashioned 2 rings of cardboard way. A lot of work but totally worth it! You can see her Candy Coloured Christmas post here

A quicker version is the vintage decoration wreath by Georgia Pechez - what a stunning statement piece! I'm totally in love with vintage xmas decs and have a small collection that I started last year - right now I feel too precious about them to hot-glue-gun them to a wreath but I'll keep my eye out for a few bargains on my magpie hunts so that I can make one for next year. The tutorial on how to make it is here at Retro Renovation

 These printed Christmas tree ribbons are ones that I made for a Living etc photoshoot last year, they're really easy to do and you can use whatever text you like. I wanted to re-do them for this year using the lines from The Twelve Days of Christmas and using paler colours, in keeping with my vintage tree decorations like the ones used in Georgia's wreath. The full tutorial for the printed ribbons is here

Next is the felted Christmas tree from the super talented girls at The Purl Bee, they also do a green stripe version with a white snow-cap but I love the hot neon pink against the white. Simple but so effective. The tutorial for making both versions is here

 Staying with the felt theme, I love the simplicity of these snowball tree decorations, again from The Purl Bee. I like the subtlety of the monochrome but would be tempted to make these in hot neon pink too! The step by step tutorial for making them is here

And finally, how about some tinsel swizzle sticks for jazzing up your egg-nog! I'm not a massive fan of tinsel (some people need a serious lesson in how to use it effectively... just sayin') but these I love. And they would see you into the New Year party vibe too! The beautifully photographed tutorial is here on Odessa May Society blog

Are you organised for Christmas? Do you hand make any of your gifts or maybe support indie designers by buying handmade gifts? What amazing tutorials have you seen online that you've earmarked for next year? I'd love to know

Lisa xx

{photos in order of appearance by Danielle Thompson, Georgia Pechez, The Purl Bee, Odessa May Society}

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Penguin Classics Embroidered Covers

{sigh}   When I was studying textile design at Uni - I specialised in embroidered textiles - this is the kind of project I dreamed of... I love literature books, I love colour and I love threads. Imagine working on a project that enabled you to pick your favourite literary classic and interpret it, using fabric and thread into a beautiful book cover...    {sigh again}

This became reality for embroideress Jillian Tamaki when she was approached by Penguin Threads creator Paul Buckley to hand embroider the designs for the latest re-prints of three of their timeless classics: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Black Beauty by Anna Sewell and Emma by Jane Austen. What a dream job... and what a mammoth undertaking! Aren't they stunning?!

The books themselves - released this October - have deliciously embossed covers to accentuate the embroidery detail and make it look as 'real' as possible, I've not yet actually handled one of these beauties but The Secret Garden is so going on my Christmas wishlist {yeah, that's a hint!}

Here are the full covers, I just love how the back includes a small snippet of a quote from the book - a real book lovers treat!

The inside flap shows the back of Jillian's handiwork, which I think is a lovely nod to the tactile quality of hand produced work - they say the mark of a quality embroideress is that the reverse side is as neat as the front!

Be sure to check out Paul Buckley Design's full range of shots on Flickr to see the whole collection. Work is already underway for the next three books; The Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum, Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. This time stitched by the expert hand of Rachell Sumpter and due for release next year

I am besotted with this collaborative project. Which books would you select? I would love to see Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol and, of course, my all time favourite, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen!


Lisa x

{images by Jillian Tamaki}

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Attitude of Gratitude

Although Thanksgiving is not a holiday we Brits (or French) celebrate, it is fast becoming my favourite celebration... I'm a huge convert to the power of an attitude of gratitude and am very much still in the habit of keeping a Gratitude Journal

Here are a few things I am giving thanks for right now
  1.  For the new friendships I've formed over this last year via my work and passion for textiles
  2. For all the wonderful friends I've been able to reconnect with thanks to the internet
  3. For my improved mental & physical health
  4. For being able to spend rare quality time with family members this last weekend
  5. For everyone who has bought a Get Smitten product and attended any of my workshops
  6. For the clarity I now have on where Get Smitten is heading
  7. For the interesting work opportunities that are beginning to show up
  8. For laughter and kindness
  9. For unconditional love both near and far
  10. For being called 'my best friend' by my 3 year old niece
  11. For booking a trip back to England to see family and friends for Christmas
  12. For my early Birthday prezzie from the girls (seriously gorgeous shoes!)
  13. For the swift recovery of my dislocated knee-cap (gross)
  14. For the incredible resources at my fingertips
  15. For learning how to cut negativity out of my mindset and choosing to be positive
  16. For being able to do what I love and love what I do
What are you giving thanks for today? Do you keep a gratitude journal? Does it make you feel warm and fuzzy inside when you express gratitude? It does me

Oh and by the way... thanks for being here, I really appreciate it!

Lisa xx

{huge thanks to Amanda Cowell of Violet for her Gratitude Embroidery Hoop framed wall art, I totally love it!}

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Embracing Imperfection

We are led to believe that perfection is something to strive for, that things - including ourselves often - are not good enough unless they are perfect. I happen to disagree. I've learnt in the last few years that perfection - and the immense pressure it puts us under - is a surefire way to make us feel as though we are underachieving and will, in many cases, prevent us from either enjoying or even completing a task or project.

The high expectations of perfection loom over us in our subconscious mind, whispering doubts of whether our work is good enough to show to someone, exhibit or sell. It holds us back, diminishes our confidence and sabotages our progress. It makes us scared to take the leap of faith required to put ourselves out there in front of the people we want to be seen by. It also removes the fun, the freedom of expression and the joy of the creative process

I recently completed a blanket I had been working on in my spare time whilst watching mindless dvd box-sets - the plan was to use up oddments of yarn left over from various design projects and have something to snuggle under in the long winter months. I took great pleasure in selecting the colours and textures and enjoyed the process of making each and every square. Now, being me, I have a tendency to use haphazard yarn, many were of differing thicknesses and required switching crochet hook sizes in order to obtain the required square dimension. When I came to join the squares up, inevitably some of them needed a little convincing (in a tweaking or stretching kind of way) and in one section I needed to add an entire row of tiny squares to fill a gap. I also noticed that some of the squares had a 3 treble first round while others had a four, which also made it a little tricky to join up 'perfectly'.

At this point I did consider re-doing some of the squares so that they were all with the same amount of stitches and that's when it hit me;  
why would I need to do that? 

Why would I need to make a chore out of this project? Who is going to even notice that some squares have 3 and others have 4 stitches? The Perfection Police are not going to break down my door and arrest me for having made a slightly wonky blanket. I loved the process of making that blanket and I adore the finished result with all its quirks and imperfections. It is unique and it has character. And it is just as gorgeous and toasty warm as it would have been had I concentrated more on it than on watching multiple series' of House! But most of all, I have the sense of achievement that comes hand in hand with completing a project and now I am eager and fired up to begin a new one

Striving for absolute perfection and beating ourselves up when we don't achieve it can seriously put the breaks on our creativity. We loose momentum, motivation and the act of completion. We shelve ideas because we haven't quite got everything we need yet, we hide products from our clients because they are not quite right yet, we push projects to the back of the cupboard never to be finished because we did a few bits wrong and need to un-do or re-do them.

I'm all for doing my best in any given situation on a project and yes, there are times when I will re-do something as it requires greater concentration or accuracy, but gone are the days when I berate myself for not being perfect. I wonder if perfection even really exists?

"imperfect action is better than no action"
Christine Kane

Instead, I celebrate the beauty and uniqueness of imperfection - just like the ancient Japanese wabi sabi masters. I do my genuine best and it is good enough. I enjoy the process of creating and don't mind the odd wonky or uneven stitch... I see it as a charming trait of something handmade by a real person and not a homogeneous, mass produced factory item. I run with the ideas I have and shine my light in the world, rather than waiting until it is 'perfect' before taking action; if a pattern I publish needs tweaking, so be it; if a workshop I organise is not perfect, I make relevant changes to improve it for next time - after all it is much easier to change direction a little once you are in motion, don't you agree?

I intend to investigate the whole wabi sabi concept further - it makes total sense that this theory can influence and release the self sabotage we subject ourselves to in our personal lives too. Imagine the grace and peace that could be achieved when we embrace acceptance and gratitude. I look forward to embarking on that path!

So go ahead, create, express, shine and continue to be imperfectly perfect

Lisa x

{Wonderful Life print by Hairbrained Schemes, blanket photos by Lisa Pocklington for Get Smitten} 

p.s - to explore the potential of your creative business & overcome those imperfection hang-ups that hold you back, sign up for Tara Gentile's Making Motion e-book it's only $8 and worth a whole lot more! (..yes, I am part of her affiliate program but also a huge fan & regular customer!)

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

*Tutorial* - Upcycled Knitting Needle Case From Old Jeans and Shrunk Jumper!

I am a magnet for stray knitting needles and jumpers that get shrunk in the wash... and don't get me wrong, I love that people know they can give these unwanted items to me and that I will put them to good use. I currently have enough random sets of needles to open a shop and so decided to give a full set away to a friend for her birthday... This seemed simple enough until I came to wrap them as a gift, and so was born the upcycled knitting needle case!

For this project you will need:
  • offcuts of denim from when you cut your jeans into shorts - preferably with a turn-up hem
  • the arm from an old jumper (sweater) - preferably slightly shrunk from the wash
  • thread, scissors, measuring tape, ruler
  • set of knitting needles (I used 9 pairs for my set)
Let's get started!

1. First of all take your jeans leg and cut it apart so that you have a front and a back - you only need to use one of these pieces to make the needle case. Then make sure the top, where you chopped them off to make the shorts, is nice and straight as this will be the top of your needle case too. Next place it, with right sides facing, against the arm of your old jumper (as above). Pin together & trim the jumper so that both pieces are the same size - check that the height is tall enough to take the tallest needle in your set!

Note: if your jeans leg does not have a turn-up hem, make one yourself by turning the bottom hem up approx 12cm (4 3/4") before pinning to the jumper - this is the part that holds the needles in the case so it's pretty important!

2. Sew around three sides of the case, leaving the top edge open. Secure the ends and turn right side out. Press and slip stitch the open edge closed. My jumper arm had a frilly cuff and so I used this as a decorative feature for the top of my needle case

3. Lie the case flat and measure how wide it is. Divide this number by the amount of knitting needles you want to store in your case. I had 9 pairs of needles and the width was almost 20cm (8") so I marked along the width at 2cm (3/4") intervals (as above)

4. Using a tailor's chalk I marked the lines up the length of the fabric to use as sewing guides (as above). Sewing beyond the section that holds the needles in place gives the needle case a quilted effect as well as more stability in general

5. Next make the tie for your knitting needle case when it is rolled up, use either a left-over strip from the jumper arm, or if there is not enough fabric left, a length of ribbon. To prevent fraying on the jumper arm strip, I folded it in half lengthwise and used a zig-zag stitch on my machine. Pin the tie at the edge, halfway down the needle case at its own central point (as above). You will sew it in place when you sew the relevant dividing line

6. Sew along your guides - I used thread to match the jumper so that it added a decorative effect on the denim (see above). Be careful to sew the tie in place only once! - move it out of the way as you sew along the other guides!  

Note: if any of your sewing guidelines are very close to a thick hem on the jean leg, use the zipper foot on your sewing machine to get closer to it

7.  Place the pairs of knitting needles into the case in size order and simply roll the case up using the tie to secure it. And there you have it! One fab, upcycled, hand-made knitting needle case to keep you company on your knitting adventures during the coming chilly winter evenings!

I'd love to see how your own version of this project turns out... feel free to upload pics into my Get Smitten Flickr group. And what do you plan on knitting this winter? Have you started already?


Lisa x

{photos by Lisa Pocklington for Get Smitten, vintage fabric used as backdrop available to buy in the Get Smitten boutique here}

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Get Smitten Makes it to the Front Page!

I know, I know, I made it sound really dramatic but I'm excited and pleased as punch to have made it to the prestigious position of the Etsy Front Page for the first time! One of my vintage fabric fat quarters is featured in this delightful orange and grey treasury curated by Amelie Nello


Lisa x

Pretty Things That Go Bump In The Night

Always ready for an excuse to be glamourous here at Get Smitten HQ, I decided that Halloween should be no different. Here's a quick round up of some less ghoulish ideas I found across the internet today

I'm loving the sophisticated air of white pumpkins this year - instructions for the lace covered one pictured above can be found at Better Homes and Gardens. You could always make it even simpler for yourself by pulling a lace stocking over it... just a thought!

Martha Stewart can always be counted on for coming up with a fabulous idea - however I think the intricate carving on these lace and lattice effect pumpkins may be beyond most of our capabilities... aren't they beautiful though?!

And how about a little bejazzling of your pumpkin? Stick-on crystals can be applied to make an elegant sparkly spider's web or try a more abstract, Tim Burton-esque design of swirls.

Being a fan of vintage, I love these old printing press letters via Cupcake Kid on Etsy and these wrought-iron effect black heart garlands by Bookity

Continuing the Tim Burton reference (I'm a HUGE fan by the way!) how about this beautiful French lace cardigan by Inna Plastilina as an elegant take on The Corpse Bride and this incredible hand-knitted skeleton dress by designer Rose Tung for your own Nightmare Before Christmas...

And if, like me, you prefer to stay chic in black (I'll be wearing my 'new' vintage black leather pencil skirt this Halloween), how about a subtle nod to the occasion with this printed brass skeleton cuff by Jezebel Charms or this crystal and cross iphone case by Butler and Wilson (love their crystal skull earrings too!)

How do you celebrate Halloween? And what costume will you be wearing this year? I'll be rustling up a couple of lace covered pumpkins I think, and indulging in a Tim Burton-a-thon of my favourite spooky movies

Lisa x

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Emma Dolan's Tweed Tea-Cups

Tea-cups AND textiles!? I did a happy twirl when I read about British textile designer Emma Dolan's gorgeous fabric tea-cups, hand crafted using beautiful, heritage Harris Tweed fabric over on Do What You Love last week. Aren't they wonderful?

Emma uses various techniques such as needle felting, printing and stitching onto and into the Harris Tweed, to replicate the many wonderful design classic tea-cups she collects. Her design inspiration ranges from Charles Rennie Mackintosh to Clarice Cliff to TG Green Cornishware and you can view a selection of her work in the gallery section of her website. I love the polka dot ones, and her nursery collection that features transfer prints of vintage childrens' illustrations - these would make such amazing keepsake gifts for a new baby!

I can only imagine Emma's excitement at holding a workshop at the V&A this November - what an accolade! I wish you all the best with this Emma and that your dream of travelling across America with your family, teaching Harris Tweed tea-cup workshops comes true very soon!

You can register for Emma's tea-cup making workshop at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London on Saturday 12th November right here (oh, I wish I could go!)

And please pop over to Do What You Love to read the full interview Beth did with Emma right here - you have to see the 19thC converted schoolhouse Emma lives in with her family up in Yorkshire, England; it's idyllic!

Don't know about you, but I quite fancy a cup of tea....

Lisa x

{images by Beth Nicholls via Do What You Love and Emma Dolan via Emma Dolan used with kind permission - thanks ladies!}

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Thinking Pink in October

There's just one week left of October and the opportunity to help me raise funds for Breast Cancer Awareness!

I have been an active supporter of Breast Cancer Awareness for the past ten years and each October I make an effort not only to help raise awareness of the disease, but also to raise funds to help scientists find a cure by donating a portion of my Get Smitten sales during the month.

This year I have earmarked a few pink items in the Get Smitten boutique (which is still currently residing at the friendly site of Etsy - International marketplace for all things handmade - until I get the dedicated website relaunched) from which I will be donating 50% of the sale price to the charity

I designed a bold crochet bracelet especially for the event - I love the delicacy of the gold chain against the chunkyness of the yarn and the hot pink really pops! It's also light as a feather which makes it so easy to wear; mine has become a real Autumn accessory favourite!

I don't usually list my hand crocheted beanies on the site as they are sold in exclusive boutiques but I couldn't resist offering my Careless Whisper slouchy mohair best-seller, again in hot pink

And of course there are several choices of gorgeous vintage fabric fat quarters in various shades of pink and floral patterns to fall in love with. I pulled four pink ones together as a sweet mini collection - do you like it?

Oh, and I re-introduced a couple of the super cute Hair Candy clips featuring two of my favourite pink vintage fabrics - this particular fabric is dear to my heart as it is leftover fabric from a dress my lovely Mum made for me as a little girl. How cute?!

I have also joined forces with the unstoppable Knitting in France, who is holding a fund raising sale of hand knitted hats for the same cause. I'm sending a range of Get Smitten beanies for her event. Good luck Borghildur!

Many thanks for your support and if you're a lady... don't forget to Feel Your Boobies - or get someone else to do it for you! {wink!}

with love
Lisa x

{photos by Lisa Pocklington for Get Smitten, Careless Whisper beanie photo by Jeremy Wilson}

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