December 24, 2010

All I want for christmas... to be able to breathe through my nose.

Me & the kids have all been ill, fingers crossed the coughing will stop before the big day.

But before then, we've another big day ahead, as christmas eve is my husband's birthday.

I've only made one present this year, a Fox.  Quite a poignant one given he is on the front cover of the book.  See you in 2011!

December 14, 2010

How not to write a craft book,

I always thought that after writing a book, I would be able to offer lots of advice and words of wisdom about making the leap from craft blogger to author, but in all honesty, the best I can do is tell 2 tales of what not to do.

(my design file for all the book ideas & patterns)

Tale 1 ::  During the writing process, there are a number of deadlines that come up.  Almost a year ago, I was just finishing off the first chapter which included all the basic instructions, materials and how to's, and have previously hinted at what went wrong.  Yes, I lost it all.  Something in the region of 10,000 words.  Cue a fair amount of swearing and looking for something to kick (I think it was the bin).  On the bright side, I did feel that second time around what I wrote was much clearer and an improvement on the first draft.  Since then, the Apple Time Capsule that failed has been repaired (free of charge I might add as it was a know fault), and I now have that first copy back but haven't yet dared to read it.

Tale 2 ::  As I was heading towards what they call the package date, ie the point at which everything had to be with the publisher, it dawned on me that I was going to have to sort out posting what was months worth of handmade softies over to America to the C&T Publishing offices.  I spent an hour with the 'post mistress' in my local post office packing up the box, checking and double checking paperwork, and deciding on the safest way of posting the parcel.  It was such a relief to have got to this point with the book, I left the post office and cried.  That relief was short lived.

At about 6 o'clock that evening, I had a phone call from the main sorting office to tell me the paperwork was incomplete.  How could that be?, I spent ages asking questions and filling in forms.  Turns out the person I had relied upon knowing what they were talking about, was obviously misinformed herself.  Great.  We filled in a makeshift additional invoice over the phone, and I was told the parcel would still go via UPS and was given a tracking number.  The next morning, I contacted UPS only to be told they had no record of the parcel, and it was still with Parcelforce.  Parcelforce said it was with UPS.  For 3 days, no-one could tell me where the parcel was.  For 3 days, I thought that was it, everything had gone missing and I would miss the publishing slot.  Finally it appeared on the Parcelforce online tracking system.  In New York.  It was actually supposed to be in California.  At least it was somewhere instead of untraceable.  I got drunk when I heard from my editor that it finally arrived.

December 12, 2010

The moral of the story is...

I've used these cushions to illustrate other blog posts in the past, and this time, it's to talk about promotion.  When I began blogging in 2007, I was very keen to forge some kind of online and printed press presence for 'Lucykate Crafts...' and have to confess to having undertaken a few projects which, on reflection, I should have avoided.  One, that seemed like a good idea at the time, was off the back of an article in a UK based sewing & crafts magazine (I won't name it as the magazine has since folded). 

I was approached to write a short piece about craft blogging, and thought that it would be good to maximise this press exposure and also offer 2 giveaways.  The alarm bells should have began to ring as to whether this particular magazine and I were on the same wavelength, when I spotted some of the craft blogging article had been re-written to a point where it just didn't sound like me, the strapline of the whole piece, being something I would just never say.

The giveaways were 2 cushion covers, like the ones illustrated above.  The 2 winners, selected by the magazine, were then contacted by me to find out what wording they would like embroidered onto the cover.  However, one of the winners did not reply until a few weeks later, by which point the response I got was a very abrupt 'Where is my cushion?'.  I explained that I had been waiting for their response on the embroidery, and lets just say our working 'relationship' went downhill from there.  They, possibly assuming I was trying to get out of making the cushion cover (I wasn't, although I did try and make the point that it would have to be fitted around paid work), and me finding their attitude to be just plain rude.

It might be considered to be unprofessional of me to be talking about this here, but I have an official website which is where things remain on a more serious level, I do think the beauty of blogging is that it serves as a platform through which to be able to talk a little more candidly.  So, what's the moral of this story?  Well, I guess it's a way of saying to any other craft bloggers out there who are feeling a little lost as to how, where and when are the most effective ways to promote what you do ::

1. Think about what you are hoping to get out of any offers of promotion that come your way before committing eg, exposure, blog traffic, sales etc.
2. Research the target audience that any promotions via whatever source are going to hit, does this audience match up with your own?
3. Don't undersell yourself.  All too often, craftspeople are expected to give work and ideas away for free in return for a little exposure.  It's not a bad thing to ask 'ok, I'm expected to give you all this, but what's in it for me?' 

As for the 2 cushion covers...,

well, one of the recipients sent me a lovely note afterwards saying how much she loved it and thank you.  I (fortunately) never heard a thing from the other person again!

December 8, 2010


Have you discovered Pinterest yet?

If you haven't, then go take a peek.  For a while now I've been on the look out for a way of bookmarking images.  Tumblr didn't appeal to me as it seemed too similar to blogging.  What I wanted was something more like an online scrapbook.  Pinterest is still in it's beta phase, so to join, you send a request and wait for an email (which only takes a couple of days or so).  Once in, you create pinboards to collect images on, here's one of mine...

The 'designer aware of copyright' in me does have to admit to feeling slightly bad when pinning images as it is kind of taking without asking, but I have been making sure to credit the correct people or artist by labeling the images.  That way it keeps it more as a way of sharing inspiration than pinching ideas, ie I reckon it's ok, as long as you play nice.

As with most online communities these days, it's all about networking, so on Pinterest, you can follow others and keep up to date with what they are pinning.  Here's me if you fancy joining in!

December 1, 2010

The Christmas project round up...

Over the last few years, since I started blogging I have amassed quite a few tutorials, most are listed and linked via the tab at the top of the blog homepage.
Since it is now December, here's a quick round of of what is there for Christmas...

First, there's last years Softie Christmas Tree,

and also the Robin.

Then there's the easy peasy cotton reel holly decoration,

and finally, believe it or not, one of my most visited tutorials is the Elf hat!

I'm guessing it's so popular for the same reason I made it in the first place, costumes needed for the school christmas play.  Wonder what other reasons there could be for wearing a pair of trousers turned into an elf hat on your head?!

:: :: :: :: ::

The 'Scandinavian Stitches' blog tour giveaway winners are...

number 131 - Terri wins the book & number 26 - Dolores wins the cards.

Ladies, I will be in touch for your postal addresses.

November 29, 2010


You know how we tend to have certain colours that we favour wearing?  Until recently, mine was always brown.  I wore it all the time and have lots of it in my wardrobe.  But now, I am starting to veer towards blue.  Blue has generally been a colour I avoided, except for denim (as in dark jeans, not 80's style pale denim jackets), but now I am embracing it in a vast array of shades and hues.
Given that over the past 2 weeks, the UK has been plunged into a bit of a cold snap, the one thing my wardrobe was lacking was a blue (or blueish) scarf.  One thing my craft room is not lacking, is tons of felted woolens...

so, here you go.  A pile of squares and rectangles stitched together, with a few buttons to jazz it up,

and we have a scarf.  A very snug scarf which I even wear indoors.  Both Lucy and Luke have asked for one.  I might even be tempted to stick a few up on Etsy.  Could do with clearing some space amongst my woolens stash!

November 26, 2010

Countryside Softies,

Thank you for all the book well wishes.  I don't quite know where to start with it all, there's so much to tell!  

There are 28 patterns in the book, lots of ways of personalising them by making family groups and adding embroidered wording.  A couple of sneaky peeks,

 the Otter,

ⓒ Stash Books

and the Duck, which comes with patterns for a chick finger puppet and egg.

ⓒ Stash Books

I loved designing and making every single pattern in there, and am so happy I've been able to share this news with you.  Now you know why there have been periods when I temporarily disappeared from the blogging world!

ps, I've changed the blog layout and colours so I match my book cover, it was clashing slightly!

November 22, 2010

Blog tour interview with 'Scandinavian Stitches' author, Kajsa Wikman...

To celebrate the release of 'Scandinavian Stitches', here is a little Q&A interview with the author,  Kajsa...

Has it sunk in yet that you have written a book?, a whole book?!

"I think I really got it the day my copy of the book arrived in the mail, before that I had a hard time picturing it.  When I had it in my hands I could see that it was really my book, it looked just like me (well maybe a little more rectangular!).  The amount of e-mails I get today proves it even more and makes me feel a bit overwhelmed to be honest!  So if I didn't respond to your e-mail it's not that I didn't read it or do not care, I just have limited time and secretary skills!"

Fabric or felt?

"Fabric!, especially linen. And quilt cottons.  And felt... I love felt and am planning a collection made from Finnish wool felt.  I want to use more local materials in my work so I can't wait for January, which will bring me some longed for creative time!"

You've already been asked which is your favourite project from the book, but which do you think will be popular amongst crafters who buy the book, are there any forerunners appearing amongst the Flickr group?

"The tomte softies!  When I asked my blog readers a couple of years back which projects they would like to see published they were the winners.  The soft house ornaments seem pretty popular too, they are easy to make and vary"

Hand sewing or machine sewing?

"Machine sewing at work and hand sewing when/if I have some spare time"

Any projects you had planned to do, but that didn't make it into the book? (maybe for the next book, right?!)

"Just a couple, it was challenging enough to gather enough projects for one book...!  Now when I made it I do have ideas for the next book"

Buttons or beads?


Are there any projects which you feel kids could tackle on their own or with a little support?

"The bird ornaments, the houses or the tomte, which is also a nice toy and lovely gift for a little sister or brother"

 Wool or polyester stuffing?

"I use polyester, but would much prefer wool, that would make my products quite expensive though and I want them to be available for 'everyone'.  Especially the tomte softies 'eat' a lot! In my quilts I use cotton batting"

How prepared are you for the amazon reviews?

"Eeek!  Can you be prepared for that?  I get so much positive feedback, which I am so grateful for and I find it very strange that whenever I get a negative or just a little critical remark I get totally shaken.  I'm not good at taking negative feedback, never have been.  But I must say that now when I know I have so many people backing me up it is easier to get over it than it was before"

And finally, chocolate or cake?

"Hmmm, Chocolate cake?  Or cheesecake with lime and white chocolate.... Coffee anyone?!"

:: :: :: :: ::

A big thank you to Kajsa for visiting my blog.  And now for the giveaway part, the lovely people at C&T Publishing are offering a free copy of the book, and Kajsa herself is also offering a set of gorgeous holiday cards (see below), just leave a comment on this post answering one of the questions I asked Kajsa, ...buttons or beads?, to be included in this 'two chances to win' prize draw.  The draw will close on Friday 26th November at midnight GMT.

Don't forget to visit the 'Scandinavian Stitches' Facebook page and Flickr group, and keep following Kajsa for the rest of the blog tour...
Tuesday 23rd : Whip Up
Wednesday 24th : Peikon Poika 
Thursday 25th : Patchwork Pottery
and finishing on Friday 26th : Allsorts

November 19, 2010

Book review, Pip Lincolne's 'Sew La Tea Do'...

I already have a copy of Pip's first book, so jumped when the opportunity arose for a review copy of the new one.

Pip's blog, 'Meet me at Mike's' is hugely popular, and I would say Pip is one of those people who never seems to run out of either energy or ideas!

 The new book, has 25 craft projects inside, just look at the patterns...

 ...there is a huge pocket at the front containing all the patterns.  They are actual size, a big plus which means you can get started straight away without taking a trip out to a local copy shop, and for the clothing, there are 3 sizes to work from, small, medium and large.  Clever sewist's will be able to size the patterns up or down further and expand the size range if need be.

Now, knowing a little about the publishing world, I am aware of the costs involved in printing the patterns separate like this, which means this book really is value for money in my view.

The other thing that really jumps out about this book is the styling.  I love it.  It's cute, it's quirky, and it's fun.  It's very much like a craft blog in print, and as things change so rapidly in the online blog world as it's constantly evolving, its nice to have a little snapshot captured in a book like this to remember it by as it is right now.

The projects range from dresses, a pillowcase, and quilt to up-cycling an old shirt into a cushion cover.  There's even a biscuit recipe at the back to munch on while you're sewing.


"Sew, La, Tea, Do' by Pip Lincolne, published by Hardie Grant is out now in Australia (which means if you root around online you may find it through someone who does international delivery), and on wider release February 2011


Don't forget to check back here on Monday for Kajsa's blog tour and big giveaway!

November 15, 2010

Blog tour 'Scandinavian Stitches' by Kajsa Wikman...

I am excited about this, way back in 2007 when I began blogging, Kajsa was one of the first fellow craft bloggers I found, and now she has a book coming out!.

The blog tour for Scandinavian Stitches begins on Monday 15th November and runs until Friday 26th November, the full dates are as follows...

Monday 15th : Fat Quarterly : that's today!!, go check it out...
Tuesday 16th : iheartlinen : with the lovely Rachida
Thursday 18th : The Sometimes Crafter
Friday 19th : Pikaland
Monday 22nd : Lucykate Crafts... (oh yeah, that's me!)
Tuesday 23rd : Whip Up
Wednesday 24th : Peikon Poika 
Thursday 25th : Patchwork Pottery
and finishing on Friday 26th : Allsorts with the very talented Jenny.

So, keep checking out the links above, at each stop along the way there are chances to win a copy of the book, plus Kajsa has some other things to give away too!

November 11, 2010

The Etsy 'Autumn' range... coming!

There are some softies, cotton reel pincushions and this decorative pillow...

You've seen sneak peeks of bit of it before.  It's something new I'm trying out, so for now, there's just the one.  It truly is one-of-a-kind!

With a miniature Fox softie and

some hand embroidered words.

Once the kids are in bed, I'll start uploading the range to the Lucykate Crafts Etsy shop.

edit :: slight delay due to poorly child, we've had a night with the sick bowl!

November 9, 2010

book review, Cath Kidston's 'Stitch!'...

Next on the book review list after Kirstie Allsopp is Cath Kidston's new book, 'Stitch!'.

This is the 3rd book in a series of craft books from the Kidston stable, and sifting through the reviews on Amazon, while it seems that the first, 'Make' had a bit of a mixed reception, those comments have been taken on board and addressed for the proceeding titles.

This book also has some added value as tucked inside there is a free purse kit.

I was very pleased when this book arrived to see it is all about needlepoint and cross stitch (for those who don't know, I used to design cross stitch kits for Coats/Anchor).  These days, so many craft books veer towards the quirky (as do I!), it's a pleasure to see something that returns to the more traditional techniques.

The beginning of the book covers all the basic instructions, and within the cross stitch section, makes use of soluble canvas which allows you to stitch on pretty much any fabric you want.

And while the project instructions include references to DMC threads and yarn, there is a handy colour conversion chart at the back for those who favour Anchor.  There are lots of 'how to' illustrations throughout the book and projects suitable to varying skill levels.  Personally speaking, I find Cath Kidston's style like marmite, you either like it or you don't.  I'm a bit indifferent to it, but still find the book intriguing.  There's enough of Cath in it to please even her biggest fan, but it's also blended into a more universal flavour that it still appeals to someone like me.


'Stitch!' by Cath Kidston, published by Quadrille, November 2010

November 3, 2010

On the desk,

...overdue, behind etc etc, are the words this week.  First day the kids are back in school after being off for the last 2 weeks, my first full day to work, and I came back home, felt really sick, and that was that, 2 days more of less wiped out.  

Onwards and upwards...

...something big and secret.  Secret and big.  And also involving lots of checking.

And something that, if I can just get it finished, I'm really quite pleased with.

Back to work, onwards and upwards!

October 25, 2010


A couple of weeks ago, I very quietly placed a new item for sale on Etsy.  I'm offering the embroidered envelopes as a bespoke, made to order item.  I wasn't sure how this would be received, but am pleased to say one has already sold...,

it's been a while since I've made one of these and preparation is the key!

There are a few other items being prepared here too.  Over the coming week I'm hoping to add a few more new items to Etsy, a little range called 'Autumn'.  There are a few cotton reel pincushions, a couple of Softies and a embroidered pillow, all featuring autumnal fabrics and colours.  There's just a bit more sewing and photography to do first...!

October 23, 2010

book review, 'Kirstie's Homemade Home'...

Over the last few weeks I've been lucky enough to have been sent a couple of new books to review, the first being 'Kirstie's Homemade Home' by Kirstie Allsopp.  For those outside the UK, the book is based on a television series, in which Kirstie visited a variety of craftspeople to learn skills such as glass blowing, wallpaper printing, knitting, sewing and even soap making.  All of this is documented as part of the renovation of Meadowgate, a dilapidated property in north Devon in much need of restoring.

I have to begin by admitting to being a little dubious when any celebrity suddenly turns themselves into a self appointed expert, but in this case, I am swayed by the fact that I like Kirstie, I think she comes across on screen (and on Twitter) as a likeable person.  Kirstie is, in this case, not professing to be an expert here, that's the point, it's all about learning and giving something new a try.  And anyone who manages to bring crafts onto a more mainstream platform is doing a good thing in my view.

(there are cute graphics between sections)

Now, I haven't read the book from cover to cover, but what I have done is to read through the reviews to date which have been posted on Amazon, and refer back to the book in order to address some of the questions raised.

The book itself is split into three sections, the first, being very prettily photographed, skips from room to room in an interior design forté.  The second section is the craft projects and the third is packed with shopping tips and suppliers.  There is quite a lot covered in this book so it doesn't matter if you have seen the television series or not, the book aims to stand alone.  If anything, the book probably covers a bit too much, and is in danger of veering into 'jack of all trades, master of none' territory.  One reviewer says there are only 23 craft projects, I actually think 23 is a fair amount and probably about average for a craft pattern book (as an example for comparison, Anna Maria Horner's 'Seams to Me' has 24).  It is also mentioned that there are no christmas crafts included.  The book does clearly state it is based on the first series, 'Homemade Home', (which another reviewer described as meaning it was out of date, in answer to that, have you any idea how long it takes and the work involved in publishing a book?!).  'Kirstie's Homemade Christmas' was a separate series in itself.  But while there are indeed no specifically Christmas themed projects, there are many which would make suitable gifts.  For me, the true feel of the book is captured within Kirstie's introduction.  It doesn't set itself out to be the complete answer, the aim is more to ask questions and inspire.

The second series of 'Homemade Home' is due on our screens here in the UK soon (and fellow craft bloggers may well recognise one of the craftspeople featured).


'Kirstie's Homemade Home' by Kirstie Allsopp, published by Hodder & Stoughton, October 2010

October 13, 2010

Plush You,

Last Friday, At Schmancy in Seattle, the Plush You show opened.  I would have loved to have been there, but it's a little far to travel.  I've already shown a sneak peek of parts of this, so here is the complete Otter.

Disaster struck though at the eleventh hour.  Last Thursday, I had an email from Kate at Nancy (which is next door to Schmancy) to say the stick had broken in transit!!  Oh no, the Otter is in Seattle, I'm in the UK, and it needs repairing.  After a few emails going back and forth, Kate has fixed it, and a new stick has been attached, phew!  There are photo's from the opening night (see if you can spot my Otter!) here on Flickr.

And if you like the Otter, there is more news coming soon regarding him...!

Next on the agenda for me is, fingers crossed, a boiler man visiting tomorrow.  We were away at the weekend and came home to no hot water or heating.  It's beginning to get pretty chilly here now, our house warms up nicely being south facing at the back when the sun is out, but the last 3 days have been grey and overcast.  The kids are starting to moan, and boiling water in the kettle just to wash the dishes is loosing it's charm!

September 23, 2010

Wanna play a little game with me?

It's called 'Degrees of Separation', you may already know the rules.  Here we go...

Item 1, my very first Owl, originally posted June 2007 (both here on the blog and also in my original Flickr photostream)

Item 2, slight change to the design and we have the Owl egg cosy pattern, originally posted June 2008 (both here on the blog and also in my original Flickr photostream)

Item 3, Monsoon Accessorize ditzy Owl keyring.

 You decide!

Edited to add - I posted this, then deleted it while I contacted Monsoon, but have since decided to post it again as I've since purchased one of these keyrings and it's even more similar in real life than it looks in the picture.

September 21, 2010

Another 'Plush You' sneaky peek,

From this...

to this.

I have a whole heap of new softie patterns coming, watch this space...!

September 19, 2010


Two weeks ago, we set off on our first family holiday abroad, to a villa just south of Barcelona.  Weather was good, pool was good, food was good, and it pretty much all went to plan.  Although, one day, sometime in the future, Luke will feel mighty embarrassed he missed so much of the sights through sulking.

Here he is in Park Guell,

and again in Montserrat.

There are more, but I'll spare him the shame of posting them all!