Yorkshire Crafts

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Yorkshire Crafts
Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Designer/maker of hand knitted, hand crafted, handmade items, avid collector and reluctant seller of vintage china, mum, home-educator and book lover. Blogging about our crafts and makes, our home education journey, and reviews of books we use.
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We really hope you enjoy reading about our projects and products, but just because they're featured here in public, doesn't mean anyone else can copy them or reproduce them for commercial gain. Except where otherwise indicated, all items are ©YorkshireCrafts.

Vintage Watering Can

Vintage Watering Can

Spring Flowers

Spring Flowers
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Friday, 12 November 2010

Friday Find: Meet Manda

It's been a madly busy week here in the Yorkshire Crafts household.  Not only have we had the plasterers in to skim the hall, stairs and landing, I've also been rushing round trying to get everything finished that I want to take to the craft fair on Saturday.

I know there are several fairs going on in various parts of Yorkshire this weekend, but if you get the chance, do come and say hello to us on 13/11/10 at Melbourne Village Hall, Main Street, Melbourne, North Yorks.  As well as featuring lots of makers and designers from far and wide, the craft fair's also raising money for Spinal Research and will be open from 11am until 4pm.

Anyway, on to our Friday Find.  This week we're featuring the very talented Manda, who hails from Leeds.

Like many of us, Manda's career followed a variety of paths before she found her true passion in textiles, but while some of us will have worked in banks or offices, I do wonder how many of us could honestly say we ran away with the circus!

Manda's no stranger to the press, and her work has been widely featured both in the UK and across the pond.   Her work has appeared in Ideal Home, Country Homes and Interiors and Country Living magazines, and she's also appearing on TV in an episode of Kirstie's Homemade Home which airs on Channel 4.
One of Manda's pretty smocks with deer embellishment
Manda's business brand is TreeFall Designs, created following the birth of her second daughter, when she decided to pursue the idea of making and designing her own products for the retail market.  "TreeFall Design is about handmade goodness. It’s about originality, utility and beauty and time honoured traditions with a modern twist." she says.

Baby Bib by TreeFall Design
Her interest in quilting and pattern is evident from the lovely combinations Manda chooses for her products, with lovely items such as the baby bib above, and the gorgeous cushions below showing off her talent.
Cushions by TreeFall Design
Those talents don't just stop at fabrics, and in her Etsy store Manda also sometimes offers extremely cozy-looking Shetland wool snoods and armwarmers.  You'll have to be quick if you want one of these beauties though, as it seems no sooner are they listed in her shop, they're snapped up.  Try to catch one by visiting her store http://www.etsy.com/shop/manda

The very distinctive look that is TreeFall Design's products also extends into these cute little bunnies, and wherever she can, Manda uses recycled or repurposed and vintage fabrics in her creations.

We love 'em.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Heath Village and Holmfirth Arts Market

With such glorious weather over the weekend, it seemed a shame to stay in, so we didn't.  Taking a hastily prepared picnic, on Saturday we drove up to Heath Village on the outskirts of Wakefield.  It's a lovely place, filled with great mansion houses built by the wool barons of yesteryear.

One of the Heath Mansions

A very popular spot in the summer, especially the Kings Arms pub which overlooks Heath Common, it was delightfully quiet.  We can't walk very far these days due to various ailments and injuries but there's a great big grassy space where the kids can run around safely and the Possum enjoyed getting very muddy while Mr YC and I took photos and Young Sir combed the ground for beech nuts.

One of two clocktower houses that stand either side of a huge mansion
View across towards Wakefield - you can just see the cathedral spire on the right
This is the one that went galloping off
On the way back to the car, one of the young ponies which the travellers graze on the common slipped its tether and went careering off at full gallop with a younger foal in its wake, both kicking their heels up and bucking like mad.  A couple of walkers got rather a fright seeing a horse coming full tilt at them, but I think the youngster just wanted to get back to its mum as it soon stopped by another horse and tried to suckle.

On Sunday, we were slightly better organised.  I'd been really looking forward to visiting the Arts Market at Holmfirth, and had been determined to get everyone out of bed and ready to leave reasonably early.  I succeeded on that front, and amazingly, the whole clan was up, fed, dressed and in the car just after 10am - something of a miracle for us!

One of the reasons for wanting to leave early was to try and get a disabled parking space in Town Gate car park.  There aren't that many disabled spaces in Holmfirth town centre and the car park at Crown Bottom is too far away from the venue for us to walk to.  Fortunately, there was one space left when we landed at Town Gate just after 11am.
One of my favourite Holmfirth shops - it's got all sorts
There was plenty to look at on the ground floor, and we got to talk to some lovely makers.  It was quite hard to see anything properly though because it was a tight squeeze to get around anyway and I was trying to negotiate around people with the pushchair.  The next setback was that in order to get to see the upstairs stalls, we had to make a long trek right around the building to come back in at the front.  Not good for two people with walking difficulties and with a pushchair!!
Annie Peaker's lovely ceramic art sculptures

It was worth the walk, as we met some more lovely makers and there was considerably more space to get around and see everything.  There was even an old VW camper van parked in the middle of the floor!

Several of the makers had travelled extremely long distances to attend the fair, some having set of in the small hours of Sunday morning and others arriving the night before.

David Howey's upcyled lights
I have to say that I was extremely disappointed with the Arts Market venue - it's soulless and definitely not geared towards the disabled and people with pushchairs.  I suppose it's unfair to compare it to the Saltaire Makers Fair, which was the last large event we went to, but given the comparative ages of the two buildings used for the fairs it seems ridiculous that the beautiful Victoria Hall can manage to have a lift while the Market Hall doesn't. 
Saturday, 6 November 2010

Finished objects - life is rosy

One of the roses in my garden has done really well this year and must have had three good spells of producing flowers.  I think the poor thing got a bit confused though as it put out one final effort which I couldn't resist bringing in from the cold to enjoy on the kitchen windowsill.  Unfortunately I can't smell its wonderful fragrance as I'm still bunged up with cold, but at least I can enjoy it's beauty.

Things have been pretty very quiet on the sewing front, although I've made some purchases this week, including getting a very good deal on some fabric from the States with the exchange rate being so favourable.

Knitting-wise, a good week with several things dug out of the UFO box which are now FOs.  I can't believe the little blue cardigan just wanted one more seam sewing up!

Blue raglan sleeve cardigan 0-3m

This one needed a little more work, two fronts, but now it's finished...

Lilac patterned cardigan 0-3m
and this one also needed the fronts, which I've completed in the same pattern as the lilac one.

White raglan patterned cardigan 0-3m

For the grown-ups, I finished this gorgeous pair of fingerless gloves, knitted in a really soft DK that's synthetic but almost feels like cotton.

Into the UFO box has gone a completed, but not sewn up pair of gents fingerless gloves and a plain and simple but pretty little lemon cardigan.  Not too bad a week!

I'd been hoping we'd get to a craft fair being held at Gibson Mill on 5th/6th November but Mr YC wasn't keen on going to two events in one weekend so hopefully we'll make the Arts Market which is on in Holmfirth tomorrow (7th) and again next week (14th).  There are going to be around 80 designer/makers at the fair, so it should be good!
Friday, 5 November 2010

Friday Find

When one of the people I follow on Twitter posts a link to a new product they've made or listed in their shop, I always try to take the time to have a look.  It's only fair, and I guess I kinda hope that when I post a link to something I've made at least a few of you will take a gander at it!

Yesterday was no exception and what particularly caught my attention to this week's find was the title "Navy Blue Knitting Fabric".

Knitting Fabric?  What's that when it's at home then!?

Well "that" turned out to be "this" - and I fell instantly in love with it.  I want, no I need, on third thoughts make that I absolutely have to have some.  Actually I probably shouldn't be waxing lyrical about this gorgeous fabric at all.  It's just my luck that by the time I've earned a few more pennies to buy some (after Mr YC fried the motherboard on his computer and we needed to spend all our spare cash on a new one), she'll have sold out.

Navy Blue Hand Printed Knitting Fabric by Sarah Waterhouse

The fabric is hand printed by clever (and talented!) textile designer Sarah Waterhouse, who designs and hand prints all her fabrics from a small studio in Sheffield, South Yorkshire.

Find more of Sarah's wonderful designs on her website, and in her Folksy shop aka PlainJaneTextiles.  You can also follow her on Twitter @sarahwtextiles.

A small update on the lovely Nina Mistry-Rhoades who featured in an earlier post - Nina now has a Folksy shop where you can buy her lovely elephants.

Oh, and have a happy bonfire night everyone and be safe with the fireworks!!
Friday, 29 October 2010

Friday Finds

I can't believe it's Friday again already.  Where's the week gone?  It's not been the best of weeks here in the Yorkshire Crafts household:  I put my back out which means I haven't got much sewing done, and then to top it off, I broke a tooth.  Then Junior went down with a cold, so he's not a happy bunny right now.

On the plus side, I have managed to achieve a long-held ambition to knit myself a pair of socks.  More on those later though.  It's Friday Finds time and this week, I'm featuring just one maker.

As a lover of all things Celtic and mystical, especially King Arthur and Y Mabinogion, I couldn't resist including this gorgeous necklace from Folksy seller Sarah Tucker, aka "April is Forever Jewellery".  She's putting together a whole range of Arthurian/Camelot inspired jewellery and the piece we're featuring is the Guinevere necklace.
Guinevere Necklace
Must say I'm rather taken with the Morgan le Fey earrings too. ;)
Morgan le Fey earrings
For more beautiful jewellery, visit Sarah's shop http://www.folksy.com/shops/aprilisforever
Friday, 22 October 2010

Friday Finds

This week, in between knitting and sewing several tissue holders, I've been browsing around with a "purple" theme in mind, as I'm in a purple mood this week.

I've found some lovely items.  Some might make good gifts, after all, there are only 63 days until Christmas!  I couldn't resist including my last "find".  Well, it is Halloween soon ;)

How about these gorgeous "Knitters Earrings" from designer Max Alexander? Surely a must for any knitter!  Available from http://www.maxsworld.co.uk and from selected stockists.

Or what about a pretty butterfly hairclip.  Wouldn't any little girl like one of these?  Available from the Folksy store of Pink Stars and Fairy Cakes.

Continuing on my purple trail, I came across this wonderful purple patchwork telephone, which would make a fantastic addition to any playroom, although it's not suitable for under 3s.  Isn't it gorgeous!  This super item is available from Folksy seller needles and buttons.

And finally, how about one of these spooky masks to frighten the children join in the fun on Halloween?  Available from the Etsy store of Texas based PrayingforFall.

Happy Friday, everyone.
Monday, 18 October 2010

Buying Handmade - Don't dilute the marketplace

As a relative newcomer to sites such as Etsy, Folksy, Artfire et al, I've been pleasantly surprised to find that the majority of sellers list their products at realistic prices.  As a maker, it's encouraging to see that buyers do generally appreciate the true value of handmade items and are willing to pay for them.

What prompted this post though was an excellent post recently by Hayley Mitchell of Ruby Wren Designs http://www.rubywren.com/blog/?p=706 where she talks about folk expecting to find cheap goods on Etsy.

FACT 1: There will always be those who expect to pay mass-produced prices for unique items.
FACT 2: There will always be sellers desperate (or daft) enough to supply goods at silly prices.

The trouble with Fact 2 is that makers who are prepared to sell at very low prices may find it extremely difficult to put prices up to a more realistic rate once sales take off.

Take eBay.  As an outlet, eBay is definitely not the place it once was.  I used to do quite well on there with my hand knitted baby clothes, but since the advent of the "no fee for start prices of 99p or less", eBay's been inundated with 99p listings.

What annoys me more than anything is the number of people who list items at 99p, but bump up the postage to ridiculous levels purely because they actually do want a reasonable price for their item but won't pay the 10-15p it costs to list at a sensible price.

Some people don't even do that though.  I've seen eBay listings for beautiful looking baby items priced at 99p, with 80p postage.   The seller is barely, if at all, covering the costs of their materials, and is certainly not making anything remotely resembling a profit.  I just don't understand the logic behind it.

Regardless of where an item is listed, there are always going to be some sellers who do extremely well and make a decent living from their craft.  For many more, a day job is required in order to make ends meet, with the crafting being a hobby that generates a welcome, but often sporadic, second income.

When people are willing to sell their items at cost, or in some cases less than cost, they're certainly not achieving anything like the minimum wage when you take into account the materials, time and effort that's gone into creating an item.

If a seller doesn't truly value their own items, they can't expect anyone else to.   All that will be achieved by is that the marketplace becomes diluted, with buyers expecting to get stuff for nix and sellers who do charge "proper" prices getting far fewer sales.  Which is no good at all for those of us who design and make for a living.

I guess what I'm saying is:  Never ever undersell yourself.
Friday, 15 October 2010

Friday Find: Owls

Welcome to our first "Friday Find", where we highlight a product or products we like.  I hope this will become a regular Friday event, so if you'd like to suggest something you think we should feature, please let us know.

This weeks find:  Owls

Now I'm normally more of a frog person than an owl person, but I just love these little guys made by designer/maker Nina Mistry-Rhoades, aka Little Blue Elephant.   I first noticed these little fellas when Nina asked for feedback on a couple of Owl's mates, and I fell in love with them. They're so cute!  

Nina also makes lovely tote bags, lavender bags and the most gorgeous sleepy elephants, which I'm sure would make ideal gifts and a wonderful addition to any child's toy collection.  They just cry out to be cuddled, and I wish I'd had one for Junior when he was a baby.

I must credit Nina for being the owly inspiration behind one of my own makes, an owl-themed pocket tissue cover.  I'm actually quite pleased with the way it turned out, and it's a perfect way to keep those tissues tidy in a pocket or handbag, so I'll be adding some to the http://www.yorkshirehandknits.com website soon.  Thanks Nina for inspiring these :)

If anyone would like to see more of Nina's lovely owls, and her other makes, just visit her Flickr stream http://www.flickr.com/photos/5littleelephants/ or contact her via twitter @ninamistry to discuss buying/commissioning a piece.
Thursday, 14 October 2010

Mini Review - Debbie Bliss: The Knitter's Year

I love this book!

Having been the first person to take it out from the library, I was most upset at having to return it.  I want one, I want one, I want one.  And while I know (or at least it's what I tell the kids!) that I want doesn't get, I'm so adding this book to my Christmas list.

"The Knitter's Year" is the perfect present for anyone who knits, or indeed for anyone who's just starting out knitting as nearly all the 52 projects in it are very straightforward and all are intended to be completed in a week, and in a lot of cases, considerably less than a week.

The book is set out in four sections, with projects for Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter and there are some fantastic makes.   From a classic pair of gloves, a funky summer beach bag and delicate tea-light holder covers, to practical things like sewing needle cases, there's something to appeal to every knitter out there.  Many of the designs would be ideal to give as gifts and I know I'd be delighted to receive any one of them as a present.

So far, the only pattern I've tried is the one for needle cases.  Debbie has generally used more muted, gentle shades for the makes in this book.  As per usual, I've gone for something bold and bright for my version.

"The Knitter's Year" is a must!  Need I say more?
Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Two years in the making

I've finally finished a sweater that's been nearly two years in the making.  That makes me sound like I'm a really slow knitter.  I'm not!

I started this sweater back in Feb 2009,  I made the back and a sleeve, and the jumper got put away while I concentrated on making baby clothes for the latest impending arrival.  And I never really stopped.  Making baby clothes, that is.

There's something immensely rewarding about being able to create gorgeous little items that are finished quite quickly, and my poor sweater ended up being ignored while I knitted my way through around 35km of baby yarn.  Yeah, sad I know, but I did work out how much wool I'd knitted!  It wasn't until Mr YC reminded me about my UFO (one of many!) that I dug it out again and started on the second sleeve.

My finished sweater is  a very simple pattern called "Sampler Stitch Sweater" from a lovely book of Crucci designs that I picked up years ago for ten cents in a thrift store over in Australia.  I'd say it was 10c well spent!

The photo above doesn't really do it justice, but a larger version - which shows a little more detail of the pattern - can be seen here http://twitpic.com/2vo13