Archive for the ‘handmade’ Category

my new blog home

In handmade, projects + tutorials on 10/01/2010 at 6:02 pm

Dear Friends,
I’ve found a new home.
Feel free to drop in anytime.
If you are a subscriber, you will need to update your reader or activate a new email subscription to continue receiving my posts.



patchwork pillow: a tutorial

In handmade, projects + tutorials on 01/26/2010 at 11:55 am

patchwork pillow: a tutorial

It’s been awhile since I’ve shared a tutorial. This one adds a splash of color without a lot hassle. You can make a whimsical disappearing nine-patch pillow for your child’s room or your sofa in no time flat and it’s a great project for beginners. If you’re still learning to sew in a straight line, this patchwork pattern is pretty forgiving. Please note that all seam allowances are 1/4″.

1. Select your fabrics. I chose five contrasting cotton prints for the front and a white cotton for the back.

2. Cut out 9 squares. Mine are 6″ x 6″.

3. Arrange your squares however you like. Keep in mind that the square in the very center will be split into four pieces. The ones in each of the four corners will remain whole.

4. Stitch the squares together in strips of three. (You’ll have three strips of three squares). Press seams flat.

5. Stitch the three strips together. Now you have one large patchwork square. Press the seams flat.

6. Cut your square into four equal parts.

7. Rearrange the parts until you get the desired effect.

8. Stitch the four parts together and press the seams flat.

9. Lay the backing fabric on top of the patchwork square, right sides facing.

10. Stitch around the edge, leaving 3″ opening for turning.

11. Turn right side out and stuff with polyfill.

12. Top-stitch all the way around the pillow, 1/4″ from the outside edge, to secure the layers and seal the opening.

13. Lay down and take a nap.

Thank you for the warm reception at Solstice Letters yesterday. I’m there again today. If you’d like to contribute photos for the project, all the details are there.

solstice letters

portrait: j. nisbet-hoyle

In handmade, interview on 01/22/2010 at 1:21 pm

This morning, I am honored to sit down for a chat with the very talented J. Nisbet-Hoyle.  If you enjoyed last week’s visit with Emma, you’re certainly in for a treat.

J, let’s begin with your home. Tell us a bit about your family and where you live.
My husband Will, and I, along with our two boys, Luke and Liam, live in Laramie, Wyoming. I am originally from Redondo Beach, California and he  is from Charleston, South Carolina. A year ago we sold our house in Charleston and moved to the simple and quiet town of Laramie where my Will is finishing his education at the University. Our second son, Liam, just turned a year old.

As a mother of two, you must be incredibly busy. How do you juggle motherhood and your creative pursuits?
My first career is motherhood. At one time, as a single mom, amidst the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles, I had to put so much time and focus into my career as a make-up artist that I lost out on some of the important growing up moments with my first son, Luke. It really hurt that I had to skip out on doing a birthday party for him some of those years. Now I treasure being able to work from home, watching the boys grow and participating in their lives. I am so blessed to do something that I love to generate a little income while at home with my family. It can get difficult to create around the schedule of a one-year-old but my husband is always there to help and so full of love for our family life.

Have you been painting for a long time or is this a new venture? 
My parents were the ones to discover my artistic ability at a very young age. I would color on everything from paper to tabletops and walls. It must have driven them crazy. I can remember my dad washing walls with Clorox and water before the invention of magic erasers. They were very understanding about it though, and encouraged my art (as long as it was on paper). I have always felt my best when I have something in my hands with which to paint, draw, or write. Now that my hands are full with the baby, I have paintbrushes sticking out from behind my ears.

There are  a lot of hand painted goods on Etsy but yours truly stand out. Your designs are unmistakably your own. Where do you find your inspiration?
I find inspiration in so many places. I love the jumble of colors and flourished designs seen on old Gypsy wagons scattered around Europe. Jeanne Bayol has a great book called Reve de Roulottes that features her restorations of these old wagons and her interior design work. I love turn of the twentieth century design like Edwardian ephemera. It’s full of romanticism that one can rarely find today. 1920’s boudoir style and fashion is another inspiration, believe it or not. Also, French antiques and decor. Most recently the ornamental and flourishing designs on the bindings of vintage children’s books, and of course all the pretty things nature has to offer.

How long have you been selling on Etsy? Has that been a positive experience so far?
I simply adore Etsy! It has been so much fun. I opened my Etsy shop in August of last year and it was slow going at first. I am still slowly gaining a solid following. I have been so appreciative of Etsy as a company for providing such a wonderful place for a stay-at-home mom like myself to use for her small business.

If you asked me to choose a favorite item in your shop, I don’t think I could pick just one, but I’m curious. What is your favorite item at the moment?
You know, I love the Large Pitcher with Monarchs and Blackberries. It took a week to paint such a large piece of bisque and I enjoyed painting each and every blackberry with the variations of pink, deep violet, and green. I remember the joy I feel while I paint a piece, and that is what makes it a favorite. My next favorite is the Dogwood Blossom and Bird with Ribbon Plate. Something about painting those dogwood blossoms made me very happy.

Do you enjoy any other crafts or hobbies?
I have always been a painter. That’s my penchant. I painted faces as a make-up artist to bring in the bacon for many years. I enjoy painting on canvas as well. Working with paper is great fun for me. I can waste days away scrapbooking and ATC making. Crochet is another craft I enjoy and I find so much relaxation in it.  I am very interested in sewing and I’m working on that skill when I find the time. I want to incorporate other decor items into the Amongst Lovely Things brand, so soon you may see place mats, table runners and pillows. If the craft involves working with my hands, I want to do it!

You also have a beautiful blog that’s brimming with eye candy. How has blogging influenced your creative process?
Ah, sensitive subject. I love to blog but I am so lazy with it. Every time I start a post I wonder why I don’t do it more often. I get such an artistic release by blogging. I started my blog, Oh Look Thats Lovely, during my pregnancy last year when I wasn’t allowed to do much, simply sharing photos of interior design and fashion…pretty and lovely things that appealed to me. The blog is about things that inspire me every day. It is the release I seek when I want to express what makes me warm and fuzzy inside. I have a link to Amongst Lovely Things in the corner of the blog that Etsy has provided so followers of my blog can view my work. It isn’t a diary, per se, so I don’t post too many articles about my ceramic work. Just the things that make me want to work!

Oh Look That's Lovely

Just for fun, tell us what are you’re watching, reading, and listening to these days.
I am an avid movie watcher. I love historical films with lavish costumes and quick-witted dialogue. Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette ranks very high, and I adored two recent films, Cheri and Easy Virtue.

I read a lot as well. The last book I read, The Thirteenth Tale , by Diane Setterfield, was recommended by one of my best friends and I had a great time escaping with it. I’m a huge Anne Rice fan so her latest, Angel Time , is next.

I’ve been told that I have unique musical tastes. The shuffle is always on and there are times when I must have music in the background when I create. I enjoy Jeff Buckley, New Order, Yann Tiersen, and The Bird and The Bee.

As a blogger, I’m sure you have some favorite online reads as well. If you had only fifteen minutes to blog hop today, what would you read?
I’d squeeze in a few minutes on Etsy’s blog, The Storque. Then I’d do some quick hopping to the blogs of my best friends, some of whom I have known since highschool. If I had time after that I’d look at A Gift Wrapped Life, Boudoir Queen’s Poor Little Rich Girl and Paris Hotel Boutique Journal.

J, thank you so much for allowing us this inspiring glimpse into your creative life. It’s been such a pleasure meeting you and I look forward to seeing where this adventure takes you!

Visit J:

Thank you for all of the support on Facebook. Unfortunately, this morning it came to my attention that I’ve got a bit of a privacy issue there so until I get that worked out, the page is hiding. With a little one to think about, I try to be very careful about that sort of thing. I’ll let you know when it’s back up and running. I’m terribly sorry! I’ll be publishing a new craft tutorial here next week and I have a special announcement lined up for Monday. If you’re a shutterbug, get your cameras ready. I need you!

portrait: emma lamb

In handmade, interview on 01/14/2010 at 12:00 pm

This morning, I am delighted to welcome the lovely and talented Emma Lamb. As soon as I spied her beautiful handmade goods I was completely smitten and she has been kind enough to grant us a peek into her life and work in beautiful Scotland. So grab a cup of something warm, get comfortable, and prepare to be inspired!

Emma, tell us a bit about your family and your home.
I live in Edinburgh, Scotland, in a wee tenement flat that is over 110 years old. I share it with my man and my wee man Spanner, a five-year-old cheeky Cocker Spaniel. I’m originally from the Northeast of England but moved to Edinburgh to join the art college nearly fourteen years ago. I love it here. Edinburgh is such a beautiful city and there is so much history and character in the surrounding towns and villages. I really should photograph more of it!

How did you learn to crochet, embroider, and knit?
I’ve been knitting and crocheting for as long as I can remember. My mam taught me the basics when I was about six years old, and I have clear memories of us sitting together crocheting wee squares for traditional, multi-colored granny blankets. Embroidery was something I taught myself when I started my career as a textile designer. I just picked up the needle and thread and made the stitches I wanted. I don’t recall consulting any books for techniques.

Your shop is filled with so many unique designs. Where do you draw your inspiration?
Oh, inspiration can come from anywhere. I’m mostly inspired by beautiful color combinations and I spend hours on Flickr searching out gorgeous images to make up color themed mosaics for inspiration. It’s almost an addiction! I also love to browse the local charity (thrift) shops for interesting color combinations in vintage pieces. The vintage stores on Etsy are great for this too. Quite often when I’m working on a new cushion I start with an idea of the colors I want to use, but as it grows and develops it takes on a life of its own. I love this organic and spontaneous approach to crafting. It’s very satisfying for me.

How long have you been selling on Etsy? Has that been a positive experience?
My wee Etsy shop has been open for over a year now and I’m really pleased with its success, and with all the wonderful feedback from the online community. It has given me confidence in my creative skills and it’s been quite liberating too. I feel like I have full creative control (unlike my day job) and I love it!

Judging by the beautiful images of your studio, I imagine you’ve always got a project or two waiting in the wings. Anything special right now?
I have a pile of things on the go just now: some new garlands and dish cloths, a couple of cushions and a few of my own knitting projects that are still waiting to be finished properly. There’s also a ripple blanket waiting for all the loose ends to be finished before I can use it. I love having lots of stuff on the go at once, so depending on my mood and level of motivation I will have a project that will suit.

emma lamb on etsy

Do you have another job, apart from selling on Etsy?
Crafting is a huge part of my life. For the last ten years I have been designing commercially for the textile industry, particularly women’s and children’s wear. All of my designs are fabric-based with lots of embroidery and appliqué, but at the moment I’m taking a wee break from that to explore those sewing skills in a less commercial and more personal way. I suppose this is my main New Year’s resolution. Once I get a few of those crochet projects finished I’ll be able to start experimenting. Kind of exciting!

You also have a beautiful blog. How has blogging influenced your creative process?
I’ve been blogging for just over a year. In fact, the blog came before the Etsy shop. Some very lovely blogging friends encouraged me to set up my wee shop, particularly the lovely Tif Fussel (dottie angel), who gave me my first commission and sale. I owe her an awful lot! Blogging has really helped my creative process. It’s great motivation. If I say I have a new idea or I’m thinking of making something, I really have to get on and do it. I can’t disapoint my readers. But it works the other way too. When I’ve made something I’m really excited about, it makes for a great blog post. Blogging about my work is also great for generating fresh ideas, either through lovely comments and feedback from my readers, or by the simple fact that I don’t want to repeat myself too often. I want to have new things to talk about to keep both my readers, and me,  interested.Emma's garland tutorial

[Emma’s paper garland tutorial ]


My own knitting skills are pretty limited and I’m about to try crochet for the first time. What advice would you give to someone who would like to learn to knit or crochet, but finds it a bit intimidating?
Really, there is no reason to be intimidated. I highly recommend diving in and having a go! The best advice I can give is to start by finding fabrics or yarns that you really love and enjoy working with. Make something you will want to use, such as a beautiful scarf that you’ll love to wear, or a handy pincushion that you’ll use again and again. The first thing that will turn you off to any craft is making something you have absolutely no use for.  There are great resources in the form of tutorials on blogs and YouTube. A great place to start for knitting and crochet would be Ravelry. It’s a huge supportive community with lots of free patterns and advice.

 Just for fun, what are you reading, watching, and singing along to these days?
I’m not really a big reader to be honest. I much prefer TV, film and cinema. Lately we’ve spent a lot of cozy nights working through our DVD collection. The last film we watched was Belleville Rendezvous, a gorgeous French animation. In my studio, I permanently have my iPod on shuffle so there is always a good mix of Josh Ritter, Josh Rouse, The Kinks, The Killers, Queen, and Adele amongst others. The last two albums I’ve added were Alexi Mudoch’s Time Without Consequence and T.Rex’s Greatest.

Emma, it’s been such a pleasure meeting you. Thank you for taking time to introduce yourself and for sharing your creative process with us. Your work is certainly inspiring. I wish you all the best!

Emma’s favorite reads:
dottie angel
The Constant Gatherer

Visit Emma:
Take a moment to introduce yourself to Emma and let her know how much you enjoyed her visit. There are also some new additions to “the regulars” this morning (some wonderful new reads!) so stop by and say hello. Don’t forget to enter the drawing for the vintage mini quilt!


simple toddler doll house

In handmade, projects + tutorials, toddler activities on 01/13/2010 at 11:41 am

I never got around to showing you the handmades I scrambled to finish for Christmas (except for the quilt, of course). I’ve wanted to get her a doll house…something small, portable, and simple. She’s at that age where “less is more”, if that makes sense. This was actually an unfinished CD rack that I purchased from Michael’s for a meager $5. I just painted it with acrylics and used Mod Podge to adhere some colorful scrapbook paper to the floors. This little family seems to be settling in quite nicely. Happy momma. Happy toddler. Happy wallet. In case you weren’t here yesterday, I’m giving away a vintage hand-tied mini quilt. Details here.

UPDATE 1.14.2010: Yesterday evening I received an “anonymous” comment from a reader who was kind enough to point out that the very talented Amy Karol originally introduced this idea back in 2006 and reprimanded me for failing to “give credit where credit is due”. I can honestly say I had never laid eyes on Amy’s version (which is actually much cuter than mine!) until last night when it was brought to my attention. Obviously concerned, I immediately contacted Amy and was graciously assured no harm done. The truth of the matter is that two crafty mommas purchased a pre-made item from a craft store, painted it (the same colors…yes, we had a good laugh) and blogged about it four years apart – a reminder that there is really nothing new under the sun. There are probably a zillion other mommas who have done the same thing. I hesitated to share this little diversion with you but thought that my experience might help you in the future. Misunderstandings and miscommunications are inherent problems in the blogging world. And unfortunately, if you blog long enough, it will probably happen to you in one form or another. I’d like to offer one piece of advice. If you suspect something is amiss in blogland, please address the “offending” party in person. A sincere attempt at rectifying the situation can go a long way. This morning I am happy to report that Mrs. Karol has a wonderful sense of humor and I have a clear conscience.  

tutorial archives





yarn lover’s wall decor: a tutorial

In handmade, our home, projects + tutorials on 01/11/2010 at 11:45 am

knitter's wall hanging 
One thing I love about crafting is that so many of the mediums and tools are beautiful, even in their “raw” state. I’m always looking for ways to display them in our home since they add a personal touch and speak of this beautiful season of life that we’re enjoying. I’m particularly fond of my bamboo knitting needles and this wall hanging allows me to enjoy them in my favorite corner, while keeping tiny hands at a safe distance.

This project is so simple, and can be completed in a matter of minutes once your materials are assembled. It can function solely as a piece of art or you can insert more needles and use it as a creative way to store and display your collection. If you don’t knit, tuck it away as a thoughtful gift idea for someone else.

pinking shears
fabric for background
frame (The frame pictured is 11×14)
thread (same color as yarn)
large sewing needle
knitting needles (as many as you like)


1. With pinking shears, cut a circle out of cardboard to the desired size, depending on the size of your frame. (Pinking the edges helps to keep the yarn from slipping). 

2. With the tail of the yarn on the back side, begin wrapping the yarn around the circle in whatever pattern strikes your fancy. It’s entirely up to you. It should look like a squashed ball of yarn when you’re finished. 

3.  Trim off the excess and tuck the loose end of yarn in wherever you like. 

4. Cut a piece of background fabric suitable for the size of your frame. I recommend cutting it slightly larger than the frame so you can tug on the edges after inserting the frame backing and get it to lay flat. 

5. Using a large sewing needle and matching thread, tack your yarn ball tightly to the fabric. I just tacked it at the top, bottom, and on either side. One or two stitches in each place is sufficient. You can either let the tail hang down freely or you can tack the tail to the fabric in a trailing squiggly design with your sewing thread. 

6. Frame (without glass, of course) 

7. Insert your knitting needles…just two, or as many as you like. 

 Hang and enjoy! 

UPDATE 1.19.2010: If you’re looking for some fantastic new blogs to add to your daily travels, be sure to check out the “Regulars” in the sidebar and prepare to be inspired!



projects + tutorials: the archives


candy turns to cotton

In handmade, recipes, things pondered on 01/02/2010 at 2:16 pm

It caught my eye here, and then again there, but there was no time.
Still, it stayed with me, not offended by my inattention, patiently tucked away in a colorful corner of my imagination.

Now the rush has passed, all the doing is done, and the time has come to simply BE. And I remember.

And what would have been, way back then, gives way to something new.

This blustery morning, in my hands, candy turns to cotton.

Inspiration is everywhere.

1. onetomatotwo, 2. spork or foon, 3. craftapalooza, 4. the red deer


| days of doing one thing = 5 |