Friday, 27 April 2012

That's Pinteresting!

You may have been hiding under a mossy rock if you haven't heard somebody mention Pinterest recently; it seems to have suddenly gone mahoosive! Being a very visually inspired person myself, I have found it to be invaluable in my site-hopping-inspiration-gathering adventures online. Previously I would bookmark a page within my Inspirations bookmark folder or save images with source referenced titles into my Inspirations folder on my desktop; all quite long-winded, especially when you come to access said inspirations during a lightbulb moment of creativity. So for me, Pinterest has been a real gem. I love having the little Pin It button on my browser menu bar so that whenever I spot an image that sparks an idea or simply that I just love, I can have it logged onto a Pinterest pin board in a couple of clicks

My current list of pin boards includes: Crochet, Quotes and Words of Wisdom, Floral Inspirations, Liberty Love, Vintage Fabrics, Sewing Notions and Natural Beauty

I have been fairly restrained on time spent browsing Pinterest itself as I could rather easily loose swathes of time - I'm talking weeks here! For me it's more about storing images that I wish to return to quickly and easily and I love how the boards are laid out too. It really is a visual smorgasboard of inspiration!

I still tear out inspirational images from magazines from time to time - there is something very satisfying about a mood board or ideas journal or sketchbook. I like tactile!

I have been doing a lot of work recently around what I want my life and future to be; it feels like exciting times are just around the corner. Part of this work is to envision certain aspects in great detail - what does it look and feel like? How does it make me feel to have or be that? What is my ideal scenario? I will use Pinterest to help with this - an online version of a vision board, as the internet is chock full of images, quotes and ideas that can help beef out these daydreams

I am going to start with a board for my business, Get Smitten and my dream studio to run it from!

Do you use Pinterest? Let's connect; my username is Lisa Pocklington - pop your email address in a comment below if you'd like an invitation to join the Pinterest party. Or do you prefer the traditional methods of gathering inspiration? How do you gather your inspiration and creative ideas? I'm curious

Lisa x

p.s. if you're still confused - check out the Pinterest About page for a detailed description of what all the fuss is about!

Friday, 20 April 2012

*Magpie* - A Most Marvellous Vintage Haven

On my last visit to the UK, I spent many happy hours with my Mum browsing around a new vintage emporium called Most Marvellous. It's a huge old warehouse type building in the town of Northampton, packed to the rafters with vintage goodness galore! The main hall houses everything from antiques, collectibles, furniture and bric-a-brac to handmade arts and crafts, all laid out in easy to view units and settings. The rest of the place is divided into concessions run by indie designers and other purveyors of fine vintage collections.

My favourites were Tally Ho Vintage; a beautifully curated selection of clothing and accessories from the 40s through to the 80s, and Grace Face; a local designer who makes the most gorgeous summer dresses from vintage floral sheets - perfect for twirling around the lawn with a Pimms in hand!

There are so many nooks and crannies to explore at Most Marvellous, to the left of the main hall is a cheeky corridor leading to a tiny, one customer at a time hairdressers, a florist and a vintage haberdashery department! Yes, that's right, I said vintage haberdashery! Most marvellous indeed! There were buttons, perfectly packaged in colour order (my absolute fave kind of order!) spools of chunky ric-rac, old sewing patterns, odd balls of yarn and doilies!

To the far right of the main hall, via the Retro Room full of funky records and posters, is wholefood cafe and cake shop, Nanna's Kitchen. This is the perfect refueling stop as they serve up delicious home made fare, guaranteed to fill you up. The sandwiches are giant doorstops and the tea comes in an array of big, mismatched mugs - just like a good cuppa should! I was too busy filling my face to remember to take a pic!

The underground gallery houses books and artwork from local makers as well as the So So Holistic Centre which offers a full range of divine sounding treatments to realign your shopped-out being! And, these guys really have thought of everything, The Marvellous Mini's offers creative art workshops for kids as well as Make It Marvevllous for creative grown ups too

I believe they also hold the odd yard sale on certain weekends and public holidays - so if you live nearby {cough, Mum} keep an eye out for notice of that! I also heard on the grapevine that Most Marvellous is opening a sister store in the not too far away town of Towcester and so my inner magpie is pretty excited to get my geek on again soon

Are you wondering what I bought? I was quite restrained to be honest (a downside of travelling with just hand-luggage on a flight!) and came away with the beautiful doily set pictured above, an Elsie Sparrow rose brooch (below) and the glittery cardi used as a styling prop in the above shot of my lovely friend H's bedroom

Their website is under construction but still worth a visit for info, and you can find the Most Marvellous vintage emporium on Abingdon Square Island, 22 - 36 Kettering Rd, Northampton, NN1 1AH - I cannot wait for my next visit!

Lisa x

{all images © Lisa Pocklington for Get Smitten using Instagram}

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Lazy Sunday Crafternoon

Despite waking up to snow this morning (!!) I've had a very lovely lazy Sunday today, kicked off by a bit of Pilates and followed by a rather cheeky breakfast of American style pancakes with scrambled eggs, crispy bacon and lashings of maple syrup! Seriously divine

I have the inlaws here for a couple of days (hence the elaborate breckie) and we dragged them around a couple of nearby Brocantes, which yielded a few new treasures. I'll let the images speak for themselves!

Here's my haul: a vintage pillow slip, a rusty alarm clock (been looking for one as a styling prop for ages), some vintage lace and a couple of books (again to use as props). I couldn't resist the Parti de Liverpool as that's where I'm originally from! I'm still thinking about the very gorgeous, floral painted sewing machine... why, why, why didn't I buy it??!! I wonder if the vendor will be at the Brocante next weekend too. I have my fingers crossed; such a beauty!

The snow soon turned to grey drizzle, so I spent the rest of the day flicking through the latest issue of my new favourite magazine; Mollie Makes. Have you read it yet? I love the mix of handmade, vintage and style - it's a far cry from most of the craft interest mags out there in terms of trends and style and is always packed full of great ideas. Check out the website here to see what I mean

And with my knitting escapades currently occupying a lot of my spare time, I took the opportunity to learn from a master. MIL is a great knitter and so I asked her to show me a few tricks and tips in the hopes that I can make it look as effortless as she (and let's face it, everyone else) makes it look! Breaking each manoeuvre into slow motion steps is quite tricky when you are used to going at full speed; I remember doing the same thing when I first began teaching crochet workshops. But with some persistence and a few awkward finger movements I am finally able to knit without having to take my whole hand off the needle to wrap the wool around each stitch, hooray!

What did you get up to today?

Lisa x

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

A Chocolatey Aftermath!

Just checking in on you to see that you had a lovely Easter weekend! I was organised enough for once to actually get some festive decorations going around the house - quite pleased with myself as I often feel as though I spend too much time chasing my tail!

I gathered some willow branches from down by the river and popped them into a tall vase - some still had the soft, silvery buds that remind me of rabbit paws while others had already burst into a fuzzy yellow haze! I'm very much loving the yellow and grey colour combo these days and with the added pop of pink from my kitschy, rabbit candle and most creative, handmade card from my niece, I think it gives off a pretty, Easter-y vibe!

I also had a table centrepiece combining my favourite spring bulbs in vintage clay pots. They all came into bloom just in time and although now looking a little passed it, they still smell wonderful - there are Hyacinths, mini daffs and some tiny blue Muscari. I'm going to plant them in the communal garden at the front of the house so that they come up for next spring too

We didn't go too crazy on the chocolate this year - in fact most of it came courtesy of my family in the delicious form of Cadbury Mini Eggs; a serious weekness of mine! Typically, JW scoffed his quota in record time while I am still hoarding a secret few of mine to make them last! We have been feasting on my homemade Hot Cross Buns though - I used cranberries rather than raisins and added some orange essence into the mixture for the crosses - very tasty when toasted and washed down with a nice cup of tea!

And of course the slightly demented looking crochet bunnies were on an international journey to their new homes with my nieces. I think they'll be very happy there

Hope you had a great holiday weekend!


{all images © Lisa Pocklington for Get Smitten using Instagram}

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Community Yarn Project in the Mountains

When I heard tell of a community driven project that involved covering part of a town in yarn, my ears pricked up and I organised a trip to investigate further! In the rather sleepy, nearby ski town of Les Contamines, here in the French Alps, an English teacher at the college suggested a community yarn bombing project to the Tourism Office and top French yarn manufacturer Bergere de France, and so was born Les Contamies 100% Pure Laine

The aim of the project, which began in October and runs right through until the end of the winter ski season, is to cover items in the town's main square (lamp-posts, benches, railings etc) and also some trees along the ski pistes in knit or crochet as a way of changing the perception of the objects that surround us in a mountain environment. It is part of the events put on by the Tourist Board to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Ski-Cross World Cup

I chatted with the girl in the Tourist Info Centre who told me that the project had been really well received and that local knitting groups as well as passing holiday makers had enjoyed taking part. On the table next to her, sat a huge basket of Bergere de France wool which she encouraged me to take a few balls of (free wool??!! yippeeeeeeee!!!) if I wanted to knit up a piece to add to the display. They even had sets of needles to rent out! I didn't like to tell her that to knit something large enough to go around a lamp-post in dk wool would take me a little longer than an afternoon and unfortunately I didn't have my crochet hooks with me! (but yes, I 'fess up, I took the wool anyway!)

Had I got myself to Les Contamines a little earlier in the season I would certainly have made them a pile of crochet Granny Squares for the project - my preferred yarn bombing ammo - and I would have loved to see the bold colours as a stark contrast against the white snow. Apparently at the beginning of the project, they had a chair lift up that mountain that was totally covered in knit! Would have loved to have seen that!

Here is a quick run down of the requirements for participating, should you fancy organising something similar where you live; this kind of community project would work just as well in an urban environment, as many large yarn bomb installations have shown over the last few years (Google it, you'll see what I mean!):
  • they recommend using acrylic yarn to withstand the harsh weather, plus it dries quicker after rainfall
  • use any stitches you fancy
  • use plenty of colours, with or without motifs
  • use whatever sized needles you wish to obtain a piece 28x47cm
It's great to know there are fellow yarn enthusiasts not too far away and I feel inspired to launch another yarn bomb activity here in Chamonix, all the info on the large piece I did last summer can be seen in this post here. I think something in amongst the woods is in order...

What do you think about yarn bombing and knit graffiti? Would you like to see this where you live? Do you participate in group yarn bombing? Tell me about your yarn adventures!

Lisa x

{all photos ©Lisa Pocklington for Get Smitten using Instagram}

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Instagram Addiction

Chances are if you've spent any time with me over the last couple of months, you will be aware of my latest obsession - Instagram! I am a newbie to the whole smartphone phenomenon (got my first one - an iphone 3G - at Christmas) and this app was the first thing I downloaded. Having seen the results other people were achieving with it, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it and I can hand-on-heart say that it has surpassed my expectations and I totally LOVE it!

If you have no idea what I'm talking about - Instagram is a free application that allows you to add a pre-programmed "look" to photos you take with your iphone camera. As well as using it out and about to snap any wonderful things I see about my daily life, I have been using it to take pics for my blog posts and Etsy shop; it makes the whole process so much quicker and easier.

In a nutshell, it's a bit like Twitter but with images. 

You set up a profile (can be public or private) and images you take using the app will be uploaded to the web and seen by other Instagram users. You can hashtag your images to increase their visibility in people's searches and to participate in group activities such as #photoadayApril which I am currently enjoying being a part of! (thanks Fat Mum Slim in Sydney!) and of course you get to "like" or comment on each other's shots. I have formed some great new friendships already with some like-minded girls from all across the globe

I have always loved capturing imagery - I see the world as a series of inspirational 'shots' as I go about my day and have dreamed of having the ability to freeze that moment, that inspiration, that composition to refer back to whenever the mood takes me. At art college I had a manual SLR but it was too cumbersome to take everywhere and I never quite got the look I was after with my compact digital - that or I'd forget to take it with me. So the combination of the iphone with Instagram is suiting me just fine; in fact it will no doubt be the only reason I upgrade the phone... I've heard the camera capabilities on the iphone 4 are fantastic!

There are a few ways to view Instagram photos online, particularly if you don't have the app yourself (this one's for you Mum! xx) My preferred one is called Instagrid which, as the name suggests, allows you to view the images in a simple grid form and also to subscribe to the users of your choice so that you will be sent a weekly email with all their photos in. Sweet! Another is Followgram

If you'd like to keep an eye on my view of life here in France, of the places I visit and the things I create, you can check out my feeds here:
LisaPocklington on Instagrid
LisaPocklington on Followgram

There are also a number of sweet products you can have made from your Instagram photos, such as iphone cases, stickers and mini albums - Chantelle at Fat Mum Slim has done a great round up of them on her wonderful blog here

And talk about serendipity; I came across (and snapped up without a moment's hesitation!) a mint condition original Kodak Instamatic 100 camera this weekend at a local vide grenier (car-boot sale) for a mere €3. This is the camera that the entire application is based upon - I am so excited to run a film through it! weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee happy days!

Does anyone else have (or had) one of these originals? I'll be doing a little bit of research over the Easter weekend to find out more about the history of it and how to get the most out of it... but any hints or tips are welcome!

I'll let you know how I get on

Lisa x

{all images © Lisa Pocklington for Get Smitten taken with Instagram on iphone 3G}

Sunday, 1 April 2012

*FREE* Crochet Easter Bunny Pattern

There's just enough time left before Easter to grab your crochet hook and some oddments of wool and whiz up a bundle of these easy-peasy, slightly bonkers looking Easter bunnies. There are two types to make, the fat bottom bunny and the long tall bunny and the instructions for both are found below. Please note that the instructions are given in UK crochet terms but to help out all my lovely American friends, here's a quick translation guide..

dc (double crochet) = sc (single crochet) in US
htr (half treble) = hdc (half double crochet) in US
tr (treble) = dc (double crochet) in US

For this project you will need:

oddments of yarn that is 100% wool content (this is so that it will felt)
toy stuffing
small buttons
embroidery thread for face details

Fat Bottom Bunny

ch12 into a magic ring (as above)
Round 1. ch1 and dc into same space, 2dc in each st, slst to first ch = 24
Round 2. ch1, dc in next 2sts, 2dc in next st, *dc in next 3sts, 2dc in next st. Repeat from * to end of round, slst to first ch = 30
Round 3. ch1, dc into back loops only of all sts, slst to first ch
Round 4-6. as round 3
Round 7. ch1, dc in next 2 sts, dec 2sts, *dc in next 3sts, dec 2sts. Repeat from * to end of round, slst into first ch = 24
Round 8-10. ch1, dc into each st, slst to first ch
Round 11. ch1, dc, dec 2sts, *dc in next 2sts, dec 2sts. Repeat from * to end of round, slst into first ch = 18
Round 12-14. ch1, dc into each st, slst to first ch
Round 15. ch1, dec 2sts, *dc, dec 2sts. Repeat from * to end of round, slst to first ch = 12
Fasten off leaving approx 30cm tail to use for stitching ears on later

Long Tall Bunny
ch10 into a magic ring
Round 1. ch1, 2dc into next st, *dc, 2dc into next st. Repeat from * to end of round, slst to first ch = 15

Round 2. ch1, dc into back loops only of each st (as above), slst to first ch
Round 3-15. ch1, dc into each st, slst to first ch
Round 16. ch1, dc into next 2sts, dec 2sts, *dc into next 3sts, dec 2sts. Repeat to end of round, slst to first ch
Round 17. as round 3. Fasten off leaving approx 30cm tail to use for stitching ears on later

Ears - make 2 per bunny!
ch15 for the foundation row, turn

Working into back loops only, continue as follows: dc into 2nd ch from hook, 1htr into next 5sts, 1tr into next 4sts, 1htr, dc2, 3dc in last st then continue back along the remaining loops of the foundation row. (tip: crochet over the loose end so you don't have to darn it in later!)  dc2, 1htr, 1tr into next 4sts, 1htr into next 5sts, dc into last st then slst to first dc, fasten off leaving a 10cm tail for sewing to body later

To make up your bunny:
1. Stuff the body of your bunny with some toy stuffing and position the ears in the slot at the top. Using the yarn tail, sew the ears in place with a simple running st

2. Pop your bunny into the washing machine (it's ok to go in with your clothes as long as the colours are similar!) and run through a 60+ degree wash to felt the wool. Alternatively you can do this step by hand if you dampen the bunny with some hot water and rub some liquid soap into it, rolling and shaping as you go. It is the combination of hot water, soap and friction which creates the felting process

3. Dry the bunny thoroughly either on a radiator, tumble dryer or in the sun!
4. For the fluffy tail, make a small pompom with some white yarn and stitch it to the back of the bunny (tip: wrap the yarn around a fork or a piece of card, then slide it off and tie a length of same yarn around the middle to secure it. Cut the loop ends and fluff it all up!)

5. Using embroidery thread, stitch on two buttons for eyes and a little cross (Miffy style!) for the mouth

Have fun giving your bunnies character by adding extra details such as a ribbon bow or some lace flowers, or even some stripes as you crochet. You can also play around with the height of the bunnies by either adding or subtracting the amount of rounds that don't have any increase or decrease stitches. Get creative and have fun... but watch out, they are addictive!!

Wishing you a wonderful, chocolatey, bunny filled Easter!

Lisa x

{all photos by Lisa Pocklington for Get Smitten using Instagram}

Credit: this project was inspired by the knitted bunnies by Claire Garland of Dot Pebbles which appeared on the fab Mollie Makes blog recently - hop on over there for her free pattern if you are more of a knitting fan. I created my version of the simple bunnies as I can't knit for toffee!

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