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We are so excited to be exhibiting at The Handmade Fair this September and will be bringing a beautiful collection of craft and interiors books for you to enjoy! Will we be seeing you there?
Presented by Kirstie Allsopp and held in the stunning garden setting of Hampton Court Palace, you won't want to miss this year's Handmade Fair, 18th - 20th September (and that's before we've even mentioned the crafty stuff!). There will be an excellent collection of craft supplies and handmade gifts (not to mention a few lovely looking books!), inspirations experts for teaching in the workshops (including our author, Annie Sloan), and Kirstie demonstrating and speaking with top makers, designers and crafts people.
We visited the fair last year to say hello to a few of our wonderful craft authors and check out the stands and workshops. While we remember it being absolutely baking hot (we went on the Friday afternoon, does anyone else recall how superbly sunny it was?!), we also remember a happy crafty atmosphere and loads of ideas, inspiration and beautiful handmade things. Needless to say, we couldn't wait to get involved this year and we have some exciting plans for our stand...
Anyway, we've got a few months between now and then to get everything planned and packed up for the fair, so we really hope that you can make it. You can book tickets for any of the three days here and keep an eye on our Handmade Fair profile for more exclusive news about our stand.
Happy crafting folk!
Is it Tuesday already? We hope you all had a super weekend, but we just can’t believe how quickly the bank holiday has flown by and how many emails were sat waiting when we got into the office this morning! Amongst the mail mayhem however, we discovered a great email from Hobbycraft with ideas for creating decorative letters… and instantly we were feeling calm and crafty! While we love Hobbycraft’s colourful suggestions, our instinctive response was to turn one of our favourite books from Clare Youngs (who are we kidding, we love them all!) for even more Letter Art inspiration! Needless to say, here’s a project from the book to beat your back-to-work-after-the-bank-holiday blues…
Foamboard Lollipop Letters
Use colorful scraps of wallpaper and pages from old books to create a collection of letters with a lovely vintage appeal. The thin sticks are available from craft stores. Cut them to different lengths to make a charming display for a shelf in a child’s bedroom.
YOU WILL NEED:
• Letter template
• Plain or graph paper
• Tracing paper
• Masking tape
• Craft knife
• Cutting mat
• Foamboard measuring approximately 8¼ x 10¼in. (21 x 26 cm) per letter
• Washi tape
• Craft glue
• Patterned paper
• Thin wooden sticks 1/8 –¼ in. (3–5 mm) thick and 8–12 in. (20–30 cm) long per letter
• Block of wood measuring approximately 4½ x 1½ x 1 in. (11 x 4 x 3 cm)
• Pages from old books
1. Choose your letter from the templates in the book (or create your own) and enlarge it to the right size, either by using a photocopier or scaling the letter up on graph paper. I made mine approximately 8 in. (20 cm) in height. Trace out the letter and transfer it onto a piece of foamboard (see Tracing technique below). Protecting your work surface with a cutting mat, cut out the shape using a craft knife and a ruler for any straight edges.
2. Line the outside edges of the letter with strips of washi tape. When lining a curved edge, use scissors to make small snips into the overlapping tape—every ¼ in. (5 mm), or so—to enable you to fit the tape neatly around the curve.
3. Spread glue all over the front of the letter shape and place a piece of patterned paper, right side up, over the top. Smooth out and press down all over. Allow the glue to dry before using a craft knife to cut off any overlapping paper. You’ll find this easier to do if you place your letter face down on your cutting mat. Repeat on the other side of the letter, using a different paper if you like, so that both sides are covered.
4. Cut a length of stick. Cut a strip of washi tape to the same length and lay it down on your work surface, sticky side up. Place the stick on the tape and wrap the tape around the stick neatly, to cover it.
5. To cover the block of wood, center it on a page taken from an old book. Draw around the base. Remove the block and draw a border around your drawn outline. It needs to be the same depth as the sides of the block. Use a pencil and a ruler to mark cutting guides as shown. Cut along these guides to make four flaps.
6. Spread glue all over the wrong side of the paper and place the block back in position. Wrap the two short sides of the block first, sticking the paper flaps to the long sides of the block. Then wrap the two long sides.
7. Drill a hole in the center of the block of wood, that is equal to the width of the stick. Use an awl to make a hole the same size in the foamboard at the base of the letter.
8. Push the stick into the wooden base and then push the letter onto the opposite end of the stick.
For many projects you need to transfer the template onto paper or card stock (card), using tracing paper. Place a sheet of tracing paper over the template and secure with some masking tape. Trace the lines with a hard 4 (2H) pencil, then turn the tracing paper over and go over the lines again on the reverse with a softer pencil, such as a 2 (HB). Now turn the tracing paper over again and place it in position on your chosen paper or card stock (card). Go over all the lines carefully with the 4 (2H) pencil, and then remove the tracing paper. This will give you a nice, clear outline.
For more creative ideas to decorate your home, Letter Art by Clare Youngs is available here.
What have you got planned over the next few weeks? Is there a day trip to the beach with your family or an afternoon out shopping with friends? Today we have a great craft project to share for our week of summer holiday activities, so whatever you have coming up, you’ll have the coolest bag around to carry all of your stuff!
Today is The International Day of Friendship, so why not gather a few friends around to make matching bags or design this bag using your friends favourite colours to give as a gift! This project is taken from Craft it Up Around the World by Libby Abadee and Cath Armstrong, and you’ll also learn a little bit about Argentina while you’re doing it!
Bag Yourself a Potato Print Tote
Using potatoes to print on fabric gives a lovely, slightly mottled effect — similar to colorful ikat fabric, which is popular in South America (see Fun Fact below). To get really crisp-edged designs you can cut your potatoes with a sharp cookie cutter. For this project, we used a sharp knife and a template, so you need to be careful while you are cutting or ask an adult to help with this step. No measuring is necessary for this design. If you start in the center and work outward, then the pattern will be centered. Overlapping only adds to the overall effect!
YOU WILL NEED
Muslin bag (ironed, if necessary)
Paper, pen and scissors to make the templates
1 large potato
3 different colors of fabric paint
Large ceramic or glass plate
Parchment or baking paper cut to the size of your bag
Iron for setting the paint
1. Draw a template for your large diamond and one for your small diamond on the paper and cut them out. The large diamonds measure 1¾in (4.5cm) across and 2 3/8in (6cm) down. The small ones are 1in (2.5cm) across and 12⁄8in (3cm) down. You may want to make them smaller or larger depending on the size of your bag.
2. Slip your parchment paper inside the bag. This will stop the fabric paint from going through to the other side of the bag. Lightly fold the bag so that you can see where the middle is. This is where your design will start.
3. Cut your potato in half and place your large template on one half. Using a sharp knife cut the potato into the diamond shape. Repeat this step with the smaller template. Blot your potatoes on a tea towel to dry them out.
4. Dip your potatoes in fabric paint and print rows of large diamonds first, tessellating each row as you go. We used a repeating pattern but you could create a random pattern or use more colors. When you want to change color, rinse your potato under a tap and then blot it dry before using it again. Allow the fabric paint to dry.
5. Once the first layer of diamonds is dry, stamp your smaller diamonds over the top. Allow all of the fabric paint to dry completely, and then iron according to manufacturer’s instructions to set the paint.
Ikat fabric has been popular in South America for centuries. It is made by a process similar to tie-dyeing. However, ikat textiles are made by dyeing the threads before they are woven, rather than by tie-dyeing the fabric.
Are you super happy that it's the summer and you don't have to go to school for another 6 weeks? Do you have some exciting holidays on their way or are you looking forward to days out with family and friends? We're thrilled to bits about all of that and we hope you have loads of fun stuff planned... but for those days when you're twiddling your thumbs - tempted by the X-Box or the iPad, wandering around the house or garden looking for something to do, or rifling through the cupboards on the hunt for a boredom biscuit or two - then why not pop onto our blog for some craft ideas and crazy activities! This week we're posting a project-a-day so that there are loads of bits and bobs for you to get stuck into over the next few weeks.
Kicking it off today we have everyone's favourite trend - rubber band bracelets! Here's a brand new video tutorial showing you how to make your own rainbow coloured, double cross bracelet. If you don't fancy rainbows, then why not pick your favourite coloured loom bands and use those instead? With step-by-step instructions from the book and the hands of a beginner loomer guiding you through the steps, this project is perfect for all levels. All you'll need is a loom, a clip and some crazy coloured bands, then click on the video below to have a go!
We have lots of other great ideas for you over this week, including some cool craft projects and a taste of cooking, so make sure you keep popping back!
This video uses a project from the new book, Rubber Band Bracelets by Lucy Hopping, available here.
Have a fantastic summer kids and happy looming!
This post was posted in Featured, News, UK, Videos, What's new and was tagged with summer holidays, school holidays, Lucy Hopping, video, 2014, how to, loom bands, rubber band, rubber band bracelets, loom
With the start of the summer holidays we’re hoping to get in as much picnicking in as possible. Loads of sandwiches, mini pork pies and cloudy lemonade in plastic cups! Ideally this will be outdoors in the blazing sunshine, but an inside floor picnic is totally underrated in our humble opinion. Making Bread Together by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou is full of great recipes to introduce your little ones to the art of baking, and this week, we’ve picked a recipe for the weekend that will keep little hands busy whilst they’re off school and be the perfect addition to any picnic, indoors or out!
the perfect sausage roll
Familiar to many people in the UK, a hot, hearty sausage roll always brings a smile to people’s faces! You can use almost any type of sausage to make them. Remember that the dough needs to rise in the refrigerator (preferably overnight), because the mixture contains meat.
4 g fresh or 2 g dried yeast
20 g water, warm
4 g salt
200 g white strong flour
2 medium eggs
30 g soft butter (salted or unsalted)
4 medium sausages or 400 g sausage meat, if preferred.
1 egg mixed with salt, to make the egg wash
large mixing bowl
2 small mixing bowls
fork, to beat the eggs
shower cap (optional)
disposable piping bag (optional)
baking tray lined with parchment paper
deep roasting tray
Makes 4 large sausage rolls
1 In the large mixing bowl, dissolve or activate the yeast in the warm water depending on what type of yeast you’re using. This is the wet mixture.
2 In a small mixing bowl mix the salt and the flour together and set aside. This is the dry mixture.
3 Crack the eggs into another small bowl, and lightly beat them with a fork.
4 Add the beaten egg to the wet mixture, then add the dry mixture on top.
5 Mix with a Danish whisk (if you have one) or a wooden spoon until it all comes together as a rough, sticky dough.
6 Scrape the sides of the bowl clean using a plastic scraper.
7 Spoon the butter onto the top of the dough.
8 Cover the dough with a shower cap or the small mixing bowl that contained the dry mixture. Leave it to stand for 10 minutes.
9 Start to incorporate the butter. Pull a portion of the dough up from the side and press it into the middle. Turn the bowl 90° clockwise and pull another portion of the dough up from the side and press it into the middle. Repeat this process another 8 times. The whole process should only take 10–20 seconds.
10 Turn the ball of dough over in the bowl and make a finger mark in it to indicate that you’ve kneaded it once.
11 Cover the dough again with a shower cap or the small mixing bowl. Leave the mixture to rest for 10 minutes.
12 Repeat steps 9, 10 and 11 another 3 times (so you will have kneaded the dough 4 times).
13 Place the dough in the fridge for at least 1 hour, but ideally overnight, covered with an upturned small bowl or shower cap.
14 The dough will now be cold and easy to work with. Lightly flour a work surface. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough into a rectangle around 3 mm thick, 20 cm wide and 30 cm long.
15 If you are using sausages, you’ll need 4 in total. Remove the filling from the casings and place 2 of them along the top of the dough you have rolled out. Make sure that this meat filling extends end-to-end across the dough. If you’re using sausage meat instead of sausages, fill a disposable piping bag and pipe the meat into a long strip across along the top of the dough.
16 Fold the dough over the sausage meat and brush egg wash directly below the meat strip. Roll the dough over, making sure that the top part sticks to the egg wash.
17 Use a knife to cut the roll away from the remaining pastry (ask an adult to help). Repeat the process with the remaining dough to create another sausage roll.
18 Cut the sausage rolls in two to create 4 of them. Place them on the prepared baking tray and cover lightly with clingfilm and place in the refrigerator.
19 Allow to rise until the sausage rolls have nearly doubled in volume. When they are ready, preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) Gas 6 and place a deep roasting tray on the base.
20 Remove the clingfilm, then brush some of the remaining egg wash onto the sausage rolls.
21 Make 7–8 diagonal marks on the surface of each sausage roll using a knife (ask an adult to help with this) for decoration.
22 Place the sausage rolls in the preheated oven and pour a cup of water into the roasting tray (ask an adult to help).
23 Bake for around 30 minutes until golden brown. Carefully transfer the sausage rolls to a wire rack to cool before eating, because the inside will be very hot!
Making Bread Together by Emmanual Hadjiandreou is available here.
We hope you all have a lovely weekend, with picnics all round! Happy baking!
We're so pleased to announce that author Linda Jones (whose books include the fantastic Creating Wire & Beaded Jewelry) will be appearing on Create & Craft TV (Ideal Shopping Channel) this Saturday (26th July) at 3pm!
Wire crafting, beading and jewelry making expert, Linda is a great instructor and her work is beautiful, so make sure that you tune in this weekend to watch her demonstration!
Linda Jones has authored numerous great craft titles for CICO Books. Her most recent is Wire & Bead Celtic Jewelry.
Happy jewelry crafting everyone!
Well what a lovely week it has been! We've got some great plans for this weekend and all of our digits crossed in the hope for the sunny weather to continue on through. So this week we have a brilliant recipe that you can literally throw together in minutes and enjoy as a quick lunch or a light dinner; Smoked Mackerel and Bulghur Wheat Salad. Taken from the Salads & Dressings book in our Easy Kitchen range, this recipe is sure to be super simple and totally yummy! Happy Weekend Everyone!
smoked mackerel and bulghur wheat salad
The creamy horseradish dressing is a fabulous complement to the richness of the smoked mackerel, while the raw vegetables add crunch and colour.
60 g/ 1/2 cup bulghur wheat
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon snipped chives
1/2 yellow bell pepper, deseeded and diced
8 radishes, sliced
75 g/3 oz. baby spinach leaves, rinsed
150 g/5–6 oz. smoked mackerel fillets, flaked from the skin and checked for small bones
3 tablespoons fromage frais or sour cream
2 teaspoons horseradish sauce
1 teaspoon snipped chives
freshly ground black pepper
Cook the bulghur wheat in a saucepan of lightly salted boiling water for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain, then mix with the lemon juice, chives, yellow pepper and radishes.
Divide the spinach leaves between serving bowls, spoon the bulghur wheat on top, then add the flaked smoked mackerel.
Mix the dressing ingredients together and drizzle over the fish. and serve immediately.
The Easy Kitchen: Salads & Dressings is available here.
Have a lovely weekend everybody!
Has this week been a test of your new year diet? Now that you're back into the swing of things at work and reality is kicking it, it can be hard to keep up with the optimistic healthy eating targets you set yourself on New Year’s Day. Well we don’t believe it should be a chore to eat healthily and you shouldn’t have to give up everything tasty to do it!
Jenna Zoe, author of the "diet-saver" book Super Healthy Snacks and Treats, shows us that we can have all of the foods that we love and crave when we’re trying to diet by just substituting a few key ingredients.
So this weekend, we thought you might just fancy this lazy morning porridge with a deliciously healthy twist; Apple Pie Oatmeal with Coconut Whip. Make it tonight and enjoy tomorrow morning for an effort-free (and guilt-free) breakfast! Over to you, Jenna...
Apple pie oatmeal with coconut whip
The benefits of eating porridge for breakfast are well known. As a child though, I always found the obligatory bowl of oats quite boring. I would spruce it up by eating it cold, made with apple juice instead of water or milk. This apple pie-flavoured oatmeal evolved from there. You can eat it as is on a hurried weekday morning, or if you have more time to enjoy it, top it with coconut whip for a really special breakfast. Please note that the oatmeal recipe needs to be started the day before you want to serve it.
40 g oats (rolled or whole oats rather than the “quick cook” versions)
120–160 ml unsweetened apple purée, depending on how thick you want
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
splash of almond milk
6–7 walnuts, coarsely chopped
400-ml can of coconut milk, refrigerated for at least 2 hours (don’t use light or low-fat coconut milk as these won’t work in this recipe)
1–2 tablespoons xylitol or stevia, or other granulated sweetener
dash of vanilla extract
The day before you want to serve the oatmeal, combine the oats and apple purée in a bowl, cover it and refrigerate it overnight. The oats will soak up the apple and expand, so when you take your mixture out in the morning it will be nice and thick.
The next morning, put the soaked oatmeal in a saucepan over low–medium heat, stir in the cinnamon and nutmeg and heat it up very gently. Once hot, spoon the oatmeal into a bowl. Add a splash of cold milk – the contrast between the hot and cold is really delicious.
Top the oatmeal with walnuts, plus some coconut whip if using. Serve!
For the coconut whip
Open the can of chilled coconut milk, being careful not to shake it. A thick layer of coconut “cream” should have formed on the surface of the milk and on the lid. Scrape this off and place in a bowl – this is the part you need to make the whip. Add enough sweetener and vanilla extract to taste – the coconut is sweet on its own, so you just need a little of these to bring out its natural flavours. Beat with an electric whisk until the mixture resembles whipped cream – this can take up to about 6 minutes.
Store any leftover coconut whip in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days, and feel free to whisk it again if the texture doesn’t hold up as desired.
You can serve coconut whip as an accompaniment to cakes, ice cream and pies.
Super Healthy Snacks and Treats by Jenna Zoe is available here.
Have a lovely weekend everyone and happy cooking!
For the many among us for whom peering into the darker recesses of our wardrobes holds all of the potential mayhem, mystery and intrigue of a day trip to Narnia, help is finally at hand.
Elika Gibbs a.k.a Practical Princess is the organizational whiz and wardrobe expert responsible for organising the closets of some of the world’s most stylish and impeccably groomed, Kate Moss, Tamara Mellon, Lily Allen and the Eccleston sisters among them. In her book Practical Princess Perfect Wardrobe, she shares the secrets of her unique approach to de-cluttering and re-organising our clothes storage.
Every related aspect is also covered, from help on deciding what to keep, what to chuck and what to store to how best to identify any gaps in your wardrobe and practical advice when going shopping. There are even great tips on how to deal with that perennial pest and arch nemesis of cashmere, the common clothes moth.
So, bid adieu to chaos and clutter, to the discordant wind chime sound of bent wire hangers clanging listlessly to and fro, to dusty balled-up socks – holey at toe and heel – and say a bright bonjour to a new colour coordinated clarity! Those of us who’ve recently put the book to the test have found that getting dressed in the morning (even after a very late night out) has become a total breeze. Which of course has the added advantage of freeing up more time to stay in bed – always a bonus during these drear winter months.
Dip a toe in the water with Elika’s Six Pile Process – very good place to start.
the six-pile process
As you try on your clothes, you will need to create six piles to help you keep order throughout the process. I often use sticky notes to mark my piles, so that items don’t get mixed up.
The fit and the look are working for you.
There must be no question mark hanging over these items. They must look good, fit well and be in good condition. They must also be relevant to your lifestyle, as identified in your wardrobe assessment. At the end of this exercise, don’t panic if this is your smallest pile. You haven’t gone wrong; you are simply being realistic about what does and doesn’t look good. You must trust in this process, or you will not benefit from my tried-and-tested formula.
Pieces that you no longer wear, but don’t want to part with.
Of course, there are always pieces that we want to hang onto, and archiving clothes allows us to return to and reuse things at a later date. I have kept some cherished pieces that I can no longer wear for my little girl. You may also have items that you want to hand down to someone special. Having said all of this, you still have to be realistic about how much you keep and where you are going to store it. If you are not wearing it, you shouldn’t see it!
Your headache pile: should it stay or should it go?
When you are umming and ahhing over an item, there are a few important things to consider. Does it fit? Is it flattering? Is the cut, shape or detail dated? For instance, even if you don’t have a good pair of jeans to put in your KEEP pile, don’t be scared to get rid of unflattering pairs. It is better to have a gap in your wardrobe that you can fill when you go shopping. This will help you to buy what you need and stop impulse buying. When the gaps are identified, you strip away the illusion of having a complete wardrobe with loads of clothes yet nothing to wear. Does this sound familiar?
Things to move on, including mistakes, wrong sizes or worn-out items.
The key to editing successfully is brutal honesty. We have all made a fashion faux pas (or two) and later destroyed the photographic evidence. With hindsight, remortgaging the house to buy that fabulous dress was clearly a mistake! Just because something is designer or expensive doesn’t give it the privilege to sit in your wardrobe. This pile should also contain clothes that are tired, worn out or over-laundered. There’s nothing worse than a dingy off-white vest, even if it is one of your day-to-day basic pieces that you might be reluctant to throw away. These wardrobe basics need to be continually edited and replaced.
5 DRY-CLEANING, LAUNDRY AND ALTERATIONS
There is nothing worse than going to put something on only to find it needs to be dry-cleaned or laundered. Equally annoying is when you have planned an outfit and then realize that a zip is broken or a seam has come undone. Make sure that your clothes are always ready to wear. Don’t put dirty or damaged pieces into your wardrobe until they have been dealt with.
Often, dated clothes can be modernized with a simple alteration. It is amazing what a difference simply changing a hemline or swapping the buttons can make to an outfit. So put items that can be updated on this pile.
6 SEASONAL CHANGEOVER
The clothes that you wear in the depth of winter or the height of summer should be packed away for the reverse season. Doing this will create space in your wardrobe and help you identify any gaps.
Practical Princess Perfect Wardrobe by Elika Gibbs is available here.
£12.99 (paperback) PUBLICATION January 2014