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Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Another Dino Cake

It was my cousin's 10th Birthday and my auntie asked me to make him a dinosaur cake. I used made a large oblong plain vanilla sponge and covered it in brown (chocolate icing) and stuck on some fizzy wiggly worm sweets. I then baked the dinosaur and sat it on top and covered in green fondant icing and mixed some with black to make the spine and claws. It looks really shiney on the photo but thats cos it wasn't dry yet.

I also made a batch of cupcakes for my lovely friend's hen do........she's a proper girly girl so they were covered in pink butter icing/frosting and mini marshmallows/dolly mixtures and 100's and 1000's sprinkles.

I've been really busy so not had chance to bake much but my sister's birthday and another friend's birthday is coming up so I have a sneaky feeling there'll be more to come!

Monday, 7 March 2011

More Scarves a surfer cake & a good luck cake!

 I've been making more scarves, this one was in a bargain bucket of the local wool shop again, its quite thready rather than feathery. I used a 4.5mm crochet hook and just stuck to double crochet for this one so I could see what I was doing. I think the wool is actually called "fancy". Its a little more straggley than the other stuff i've been using.
 This one is more of that feathery stuff, I got loads of balls of it in cream, white, baby pink and this kind of spring green colour. I used almost 3 balls on this one, its crocheted up quite heavy because its sooooo long. I used treble crochet and a 6.5mm hook as it the feathery bits were quite long and I wanted to be able to count my stitches as I went to make sure it was square not hourglass shaped when it was finished.
 This is more of the "twilight" wool which I got from poundstretcher. You cant see on the picture but it does have a silver thread running through it. Again it was one of my made up lengthways scarves. I couldn't recreate the pattern I dont think..... I know its circles in the centre with semicircles staggered and then large chains and a net "v" type stitch. Again I had quite a bit of wool leftover for this one (and its really long and quite wide too) so it got a bundle of tassles.
 This is what I did with the rest of the red twilight wool....a second scarf. Its just two rows of regular double crochet then one row where you crochet 2, chain 2 (and miss two stiches on the bottom) then repeat all the way to the end. I still had loads of wool left so did a layer of double crochet right the way round the outside and back to join the top row so it looks like a square border. 
This wool is from hobbycraft, my sister gave it to me its sirdar and its called persia - the wool looks blue on the picture but its actually a green/blue colour and is quite bobbly. It crochets up a bit like bobbly fleece. With this one having such a weird texture I just did double crochet. She's given me a massiv bag of loads of different kinds of wool so I will have to get going. Not long to the next craft sale now!!!!

This one is done using more of the poundstretcher "brights" this one is in a jade/jewel green....I did this in double crochet with a 6mm hook and did 6 dcs in one central hole and created a semi-circle pattern. I added tons of tassles because I had loads of wool left over.

I've also been on a bit of a bake-a-thon. One of my friends had a birthday - obviously, hence the need for cake. However for her birthday "party" she booked us all on a surf lesson.....bearing in mind its MARCH, we live not far from Newcastle and therefore the lesson would be IN THE NORTH SEA. I dont know if any of you have been in the North Sea in our part of the world.....but its something only us Geordies/Makems do, very similar to going out on the town without a December, and even then we tend to only do it in the height of summer, fully clothed and only upto our knees, waist if youre extremely young or very foolish or both. Plus it usually involves a soggy ride home on the metro if you go in that far. So we went, and I was terrified, I dont swim very well, I can swim but I dont unless I absolutely have to, I also am no good in the cold so was dreading it. Plus it involved getting my not so lean body into a wetsuit. That was not as much of a catastrophe as I thought because to be honest......none of us looked "Good" in a wetsuit, not even the pro instructors, they just looked more used to it. Although it was a fight to get into them with numb wet fingers, and just as much of a lession in exhaustion getting out of them, I really enjoyed myself. Although I am suffering now, I have "t-rex" arms. Not as in the band, but as in they are about as much use as t-rex arms to the actual dinosaur. They absolutely ache, if it weren't for the lack of swelling/bruising i'd swear they were broken. I have to be helped into any clothes that involve sleeves and wince if I have to reach behind me or raise my arms to more than about mid-chest height. But it was a lot of fun.

Anyway here is the birthday girl's cake. She requested a cat (she has a black cat called puddle) playing the sax (she's a music teacher and saxophone is her instrument of choice) on a surfboard.

Ok so I made the sponge cake in an oven was the only shallow and square pan I could find of a decent size that wasn't extortionately priced. It worked fine for the Hello Kitty Cake. Then I slathered it with buttercream once it had cooled (and while the top sandwich was baking in the oven). I like to use Stork for baking, I mix it with icing sugar and a little bit of cornflour and some milk to make buttercream. The jam was Aldi's own brand and was one of those 50% extra fruit so it was basically chunky strawberry mush instead of the usual jelly with one odd strawberry thrown in you usually get.

By this time the second cake had baked and cooled so I got started on my "Wave". I melted some chocolate over a pan of boiling water (because it always over-cooks and goes bitty when I do it in the microwave) and stirred in some oil to keep it a bit more liquid. Then poured in some rice crispies and mixed. I then got a can of pop out of the fridge and covered it in cling-film. I also covered the inside of a loaf tin with cling-film and squirted both the loaf tin and the wrapped up drinks can with some of that squirty oil. I then put the can in the loaf tin and fashioned the chocolate crispies mix over the top of the can and into the bottom of the loaf tin (only on one side, not fully covering the can). I put this in the fridge to cool. I then coated the top of the cake with the leftover buttercream and rolled out some of that fondant icing. I put a small square of yellow in the corner (or you could crush up biscuits) to make the sand and the rest in blue. I then modelled the cat and the sax out of the other colours I had and left them on the bench to air-harden a bit. I dusted them with cornflour on the bottom to stop them sticking to the board I placed them on to dry. Then I mixed up some blue food colouring with royal icing sugar and a drop of milk (gives a paler blue than water when mixed with food colouring).

Meanwhile the chocolate crispies were set. I lifted the drinks can & crispie mound out of the loaftin using the cling-film, then carefully pulled the drinks can off and then peeled off the cling-wrap. It worked, I made a wave shape. It was solid enough to stand up but light enough to balance ontop of the cake without squashing it. So I covered my wave in blue fondant icing and then stuck it in place on the cake with a smear of buttercream. I then dribbled the light blue royal icing all over the wave & blue icing to make it look like water. I halved a small chocolate chip brioche roll and covered it in red fondant roll out icing to make the surfboard and again stuck this down with buttercream. Last I added the cat to the surfboard (using the last scrapings of the buttercream) and used a drop of the royal icing to stick the saxophone shaped fondant to the cat's body. Then I finished off my wave by sticking mini marshmallows to it with the remnants of the royal icing. I used one of those squeezy flavoured icing pens (toffee I think) for the piping is horrific. et voila.....

The next cake was just a two layer sponge sandwiched with jam that I whipped up on Sunday while the oven was still hot after the yorkshire puddings for dinner. As I had used most of my icing stash on the cat cake, I had to just use jam in the centre (not enough buttercream) and I iced the top with buttercream (coloured with green food colouring watered down with milk to a more pastel colour) although it did end up more illuminous than I'd hoped. I used the last of the fondant icing to make a big shamrock for good luck. My sis was starting a new job on the Monday. Sprinkled with some orange & yellow stars and iced with another of those squeezy icing tubes...chocolate on this one. It didn't look too fab, but it tasted lovely...she kindly shared out wedges when we all went over the parent's for our traditional Sunday afternoon catch up. Yum Yum!
Oh and apparently Diabetes UK seem to think i'm running the Great North Run for them this year. I have no idea why...the only thing I can think of is that I wasn't paying much attention when I filled out the ballot form and ticked "which charity will you be running for" thinking it was a "which charities do you support". OOPs, it doesn't matter I suppose as its also a really worthy cause and my dad is a sufferer. And I mean an actual sufferer, he has had a nightmare trying to get his diabetes under control over the years and its still not quite right and experiencing a range of rather nasty side effects and they've been really helpful when he's called them up for advice. David can always run for guide dogs....or we can just do some other kind of sponsored event. I was thinking of palming off a load of cupcakes onto my friends to sell to colleagues at work or their kids schoolfriends. Or see if I can guilt a sweet shop into letting me shake a collection tin outside their stall.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Cupcake Sock Madness & Star Wars Cake

Ladies Pastel Sock Cupcake
Disney Sock Cupcake
Well this weekend I thought i'd get organised and make up my cupcake socks for easter and the next Maker's Market. I went to Everything's a £1 and invested in some bargain kiddies socks. I got a couple of 3packs of disney ones but they didn't have many nice colours or a wide range of childrens sizes so I just got the two packs.

Adult Sock Cupcake with Creme Egg
 I already had some pastel pinky purple colours left from the last craft sale but they were all ladies size 4-7 with love heart sweets, so I unravelled them and removed the sweets. Now I just needed to get some sweets to put on top of the cupcake before they were re-wrapped. Then I went to the supermarket and got a couple of packs of 6 and 8 plain white trainer socks. They were only a couple of pounds per pack and although I really wanted a collection of colours (ideally browns) so it looked like chocolate cupcakes, they were all mostly black. Never mind, at least with white it will be unisex, match all colour cupcake cases and with them being plain I can use them for all occasions.

Kids Sock Cupcake

I've just about covered all sizes; my selection now includes:
Mens 7-11
Ladies Pastel colours 4-7
Girls Disney 12-3&1/2
Girls Disney 9-12
Kids 12-3&1/2
Kids 9-12
Kids 6-8
That should just about cover it. They also had these little boxes of pipecleaner chicks, 16 in a box for £1 (obviously). So I grabbed a box of those too, because I thought they'd look cute on top of the cupcakes for Easter. They were also doing little packs of mini creme eggs so I picked up a bag of those too as I knew i'd run out of eggs. I wandered into Home Bargains to see if they still had little 9 piece cupcake stands on sale that i'd spotted the week before and resisted buying. I got one as part of a cupcake making kit but as I was now over-run with socks thought I best get a second one!

It was only £3.99 and I spotted packs of silicone cupcake cases! The colours were a bit gory but they were only 79p for a pack of 6 and everywhere else i'd been they were about £2 a box (and some boxes were only in a pack of 4). So I took every one off the shelf. They had a lovely baby blue which I thought would look a bit more "manly" amongst all the pinks & purples. They also had a bright orange and a spring green which I thought would look perfect for easter type colours and a red which again could work for valentines day and christmas and also is unisex. I just wish they'd had some yellow (to go with the easter theme). Just when I thought i'd finished I spotted little nets of pastel foil wrapped eggs and grabbed a couple of packs of those too! They were just small milk chocolate ones but would look perfect as cupcake toppers...and since they were pastel coloured but not patterned (unlike the mini creme eggs) I could re-use them in future if they didn't sell as they were "occasion neutral". I checked the sell by dates and i've got til 2013 to shift them!!! As for the chicks, if they dont go i'll have to re-wrap and replace with something christmas themed for the Christmas stall, and if the ones with the creme eggs dont sell, well i'll just have to eat them myself!!!! Well....if i'm replacing them anyway.

I went to a local craft stall to top up on clear cellophane. I resisted the urge to get easter patterned and went for clear plain convincing myself it would make the stuff inside easier to see and again occassion neutral so that I could use it all year round. I did buy some celebration brand patterned ribbon. I wish I hadn't thougth, I know its only £1.99 in hobbycraft but I got charged £2.20 in the local craft shop plus VAT on top of that (£2.64) so I'll be avoiding buying there again. I know its not much but when its only a 5m small roll that's quite a price hike....good job I only bought 1 roll.

And here is my box of finished goodies. I know i've got ages before Easter but i'd rather get it out of the way. I even remembered to label the cupcakes with the socksize on the bottom - as they're all really similar looking. I did put two pairs of the smaller sized socks in the cupcake cases as one pair looked a bit feeble and didn't fill the silicone case. I marked on the bottom which ones were 2pks as well as I know i'd come unstuck if people asked, and believe me you do get asked the strangest questions on a craft stall.

It was also my hubby's birthday and being the Star Wars nerd that he is...and knowing hopw much I love baking, he spotted a cake tin on ebay. Its actually older than me, I think technically it can be classed as vintage - which makes me feel old! I made him a vanilla sponge and covered the cake in yellow roll out icing. The detail from the cake tin wasn't so obvious when you put the icing on so I layered it up a bit, but the face went a bit wrong. Never mind, you can still tell who it is! I also bought some liquid edible gold food colouring which absolutely stinks of solvent when you paint it on. I didn't have a food grade paint brush so used a silicone pastry brush which I think was my downfall. I think I put it on too thick. As when we came to eat it on the same day as decorating....some pieces tasted a bit metallic. However we've since discovered after slowly polishing off the cake wedge by wedge that you cant taste the gold at all now. It must need time to dry or disperse through the icing rather than eating it straight away. Its a lovely cake but as I stuck the icing on with chocolate spread rather than buttercream it is a tiny bit dry - so next time i'll use jam or buttercream. I was nervous of using buttercream because 1) I wasn't sure I had enough icing sugar and 2) it can alter the shape of the cake if you put it on too thick, and this one had already lost a bit of definition by the time I put the icing on. So here it is.....

Friday, 18 February 2011

Attack of the Penguins!!!

These are some little Fimo penguins I made and baked. I had some craft wire from another project so decided to turn them into those little photocard/placecard holders at around xmas time....I could always re-shape the wire into a hoop and turn them into xmas tree decorations if they went wrong. They turned out quite well actually. I sold one on ebay. Then I had a message from a lady down south who loves pingu called Fiona asking if I had anymore. I messaged back explaining I had only sold 1 so the remaining 2/3 in the picture were still available.

She then asked where I bought them from or whether I made them as she was after quite a few more 40 in fact for table placecard holders for a wedding! So I priced up how much it would cost to buy all the clay and wire and asked when the wedding was. Over the christmas holidays I started on the 40 penguins, firing them in the oven inbetween gingerbread men and mince pies!
Very soom the penguin numbers started growing and I kept her upto date with the progress. As it turns out she needed 40 plus a bride and groom. So I made a little bride penguin with a tiara and a groom with a bow tie. I didn't get a photo before they were bubble wrapped away.

Again she loved the little amassing army of penguins.....but admitted that on second count they actually had 60 wedding guests. So I set about making the last few.....and had to invest in an extra orange and black pack of clay but went to hobbycraft for it.

Finally the penguin army is complete - the bride and groom are not on this pic. Its taken two cardboard boxes, all the bubblewrap and brown paper I have in the whole house and a fair amount of recycled shredded paper that was going to be used as emergency bunny bedding but they're all ready to post. Just waiting for the lady to pay - she's paying for her wedding cake this week and next week its my turn - then the penguin army will be sent into battle!!!!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

More Scarves

Well as its freezing outside (STILL) and I've got a craft sale coming up in April, when i'm betting its still all rainy and miserable....i've been making more scarves. Most of these have worked their way onto ebay but if they don't sell then i'll take them along to the craft sale and if they do.....well i'll just have to magic up some more while i'm watching TV on these cold winter nights. I should be back outside running in preparation for the Santa Run but its still really dark & cold so i'm making use of my gym membership and building up the miles on the treadmill or the crosstrainer for now.
Now this is my latest creation. Its using DK wool called marble, thats kind of a purpley turquoise changes shades as you're crochetting. I used double crochet again and this time DC two then chained 2, then DC another 2 in the same hole in the base chain, then miss two holes in the base chain and DC two, chain 2 and eventually it goes all round and net looking.
I also repeated the same type of stitch but just DC 1 stitch then chaining to make another scarf with the rest of the wool. It was a big 300g ball I think - or it may have been 250g. I never remember I just always have a guess at how much I need, or will unravel a whole scarf and re-do it to use up less/more wool depending on how much i've got left at the end. I hate odd leftover bits. That's probably why the second scarf looks so much skinnier.

I also used up the last of my brights bargain stuff I got just before xmas at (shhh dont tell anyone) poundstretcher in the big 200g balls. I like to call the colour sunshine yellow but it literally is like a custard yellow - bright is def the best description of it!!!!

I think i've done the DC cluster of 3 pattern on another scarf somewhere - and I like the pattern, it doesn't make the scarf too thick. Although I did mis-judge it and was left with loads of leftover wool. I couldn't bear to unravel it all so I just used the rest of the ball to make the twisty tassles. It added a bit more length to it too. 2 birds, 1 stone I guess.

The next batch of wool I've come across that i'm secretly hoping will attract some unsuspecting ebay shoppers is some more poundstretcher wool that comes in 5 little balls of 50g. Its just simple DK wool with a bit of lurex in it....but its got silver running through it so it looks a little nicer than the boring plain coloured stuff. I used some blue with silver for a hat & scarf set for a friend at xmas who we were house-sitting for. Or supposed to be anyway, due to the horrific arctic conditions they ended up spending xmas at home and unpacking their bags so the set acted as an emergency xmas present and a "sorry you're not going away for xmas" consolation gift. Anyway i'm waffling...the wool is called TWILIGHT...hence my sneaky fingers crossed i'll attract some lovesick vampire shoppers if I include it in the ebay listing title. I've just used 3FPDC, 3BPDC for this one but because its quite a wide scarf it looks lovely. It makes very neat little squares in a chain type pattern. I couldn't be bothered with all that twirling needed for twisty tassles for this one though.

I still had 3 balls of wool left so decided to make a widthways scarf. I've always wanted to try something a bit more exciting looking so decided to create my own pattern as I went along. Now as I kinda made it up as I went....I can only partially remember what I did. To recreate it again i'd probably need the original scarf and some knitting markers to count the stitches. Basically I made a chain about the length I wanted the scarf then DC about 5 stitches all in the same hole in the base chain, then missed a hole in the base chain and slipstitched into the next one and began another 5stitch semi-circle. I kept going til I got to the end, then slimply turned round and went back along the underside of the chain so I ended up with a row of round crochet circles. I then slipstitched 3 along to get into the centre of my first circle and chained a row of about 7 or 8 stitches then slipstitched into the centre of the next circle until I was back at the beginning. Then when I came back to the start I did 3 treble crochet stitches in the centre of each chain string (around it not through the actual link holes in the chain) and that made the little diamond-type pattern on the outside of the centre circles. The next row of stitches I have absolutely no idea what I did but i'm sure its just double crochet...I think. The final outer row is definately just a single row of semi-circles (similar to how I started off the inner row). As I'd gone to all the fuss of fancy patterns and was quite pleased with my bit self, I decided to continue with the fancy-ness and did twisty tassles. Yep you guessed it....leftover wool.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Craft Sale January

I did go back for the January Makers Market on my own selling my hand-crochet scarves, more keyrings, earrings and phone charms and some sock cupcakes. It went much better, the scarves and keyrings from last time that didn't shift at all I actually had real buyers for!!! My scarves were going like hotcakes. I had virtually zero interest at the last sale, people weren't even picking up to look but I took 10 and all but 3 sold! So i'm definately going to make more of those for the sales I do in the colder months. Christmas i'll get cracking and make loads. My newer items did really well too, still no jewellery sales, I think the market is a bit saturated with jewellery.

 This one is made with some rather bright coloured orange wool (acrylic) that I got from poundstretcher of all places. It was £2.50 a ball so wasn't bad. I made this one double the usual width and crochet in a weave style pattern then did twisty tassles! The stitch is done by making a chain (of even number stitches) then you miss two, and dc into each chain until you get to the end of the row, chain 2 up then DC around the front post of the first DC, then DC around the back post of the next one. you just keep repeating fpdc, bpdc until you get to the end of the row. Then you chain up 2 and when you come to turn....whatever the stitch was underneath (previous) you just to the opposite. i.e. if its a FPDC to a BPDC. All the rows of opposite front and back post crochet make a basket weave type pattern. To do the twists you just draw up a really long loop, twist it round and round tightly using the crochet hook (think spinning as if you were winding something up) then you slip stitch (tightly) through the edge of the scarf which leaves a tassle. Repeat this moving along the edge of the scarf doing various length tassles and it looks really unusual. It does take up a lot of wool though! This one I sold on ebay, I was worried the postage would be extortionate but although it was chunky it was light so only cost a couple of pounds. The lady was very happy with it...she left me some lovely feedback describing it as "fabulously scrummy".

 This sea green one is paton's acrylic wool from Hobbycraft. It was only like £1.20 a 100g ball which was why I got it, plus I loved the colour. I made this one using the same basket weave front post back post combo as above, but did it in treble crochet and using a size 6 hook which is a chunky one. The tassles are just really long pieces of wool leftover at the end of crochet just tied on. No fancy crochet twisting for this one i'm afraid. This one sold on ebay.
This one was so soft and fuzzy it was made with a brown yarn called "popcorn" from the bargain basket of a local wool shop in one of those indoor markets. I used 3lots of 50g balls and just used a size 4 hook and did basic double crochet so that I could see what I was doing with all that fuzz. I had to keep counting the posts as I sometimes get carried away and add on extra stitches and it ends up like a dogs back leg from where its gone in and out again. This one sold after 5mins!
 This one was made using patons acrylic wool mix and was a lavender blue grey colour. Although it looks quite narrow it was a very chunky thick scarf because of the stitch. I used a size 4.5 hook and double crochet alternating the front post back post stitch BUT when moving onto a new line you do not change the stitch to make it opposite of the row below you do the same. i.e stitch directly underneath was FPDC, this stitch is FPDC. It creates a ridged line pattern which looks lovely but is very thick and takes up a lot of wool. Hence the lack of tassles on this one.

 This one was done using more of the patons DK, it was a lilac colour and the pattern was created using double crochet by dc 3 then leaving a gap, dc3 leave a gap then when you go up the next row chain, and dc in the gap.

This one was again patons DK but this time a slightly more pale blue rather than lilac. It was also using double crochet and again by dc three in a row and missing (or just chaining 1 in the space) a stitch but this time on the return back across the top of the row you continue to keep the missed stitches and row of 3 in exactly the same place to make a holey pillar style. The tassles are short twisted ones like on the bright orange scarf at the top.

This one was done with a chenille type feathery wool - it was another bargain basket job so i'm afraid I have no idea what it actually is called. Its a marbled mix of grey, white and brown which sounds awful but it looks lovely once crochet up! Again since its tricky to see in amongst all those fluffy bits I did DC with a size 3.5 hook to keep the stitches a little tighter (easier to distinguish apart was the theory). The lady who bought this at the craft sale was actually my lovely auntie who'd come along to have a nosey and hadn't intended on buying. She bought it for her sister as a birthday present, promising to pass on all credit if she receives any compliments.

This one was in a grey patons acrylic wool mix (although it looks brown against the milk chocolate coloured background) and I did it using I think its called brick stitch. You basically chain a row, then chain your first post, then in the base of that post, you DC another, and another and another so you've got 5 posts in one chain link in a little cluster. Then on your 5th DC you miss 5 links in the base of chain and slipstitch it into the 6th. So you're effectively pushing your cluster on its side. Then in that 6th chain hole where you've just done your slipstitch you chain 2 then again DC in the base of that post until you've got another 5 posts. You repeat this all the way to the end of the base chain. Once you've joined your last cluster of 5 to the base chain with a slip stitch, you then you slip stitch along the top of the last cluster of 5 and chain 2. Then in the base where you've just chained two, start doing your cluster of 5 again. Since you dont have your chain anymore (to skip and slipstitch into the 6th link in the chain) all you do is slipstitch into the top left hand side of the next cluster then chain 2 to start your next cluster of 5.
This one is with the infamous poundstretcher £2.50 wool and is actually a bright jewel purple (even though it looks a shocking indigo on here). The pattern is a little hard to see but I sort of made it up as I went along working lengthways rather than width ways. i.e start with one long chain the full length of the scarf then stitch around the chain to fatten it up into one long narrow piece. This sold about an hour into the craft sale and had lots of people picking it up trying to figure out the pattern!
More poundstretcher yarn, this time in bright magenta pink! I think this one was done in the waves of 3 fpdc, 3 regular dc, 3 bpdc, 3 regular dc but I didn't have a chain that was a multiple of it staggered itself everytime I changed rows. It looked pretty. This also vanished off the table at the craft sale with amazing pace.

These are my sock cupcakes. I got the instructions off a lovely lady who calls herself  Giggle on the infamous Money Saving Expert Forum and is always sharing her crafting ideas. She has her own blog called Little Puddings.

Basically I bought some multi-packs of socks from the local supermarket in pinks, purples & lemon combo colours and wrapped them into the cupcake shape Giggle has a tutorial I there are some on the internet if you search. Then you try get them to stay in a cupcake case, without exploding over the edges. I used a batch of pink swirly cases I got with a cake making kit for Christmas, I topped them with some foamy sweeties I got from Asda called love txt sweets. They're a bit bigger than a 50p piece (and were on special for 50p a bag at the time. They were heart shaped foam sweets with little messages embossed on like "love you" "xxx" etc, similar to the love heart sweets or candy hearts messages. They were all natural flavours and colourings so good for those allergic to E numbers. They were quite tasty too, fruity. Well I had to sample the strays that were leftover!!

 Then I wrapped them all in clear cellophane and tied with some pink elastic that my sister gave me with a box of leftovers from her scrapbooking session.

I used up the rest of the luv txt sweeties by filling up glass jars to do "jars of love". I basically used all the jar's i'd been storing for a jam making session. Well its free packaging, recycled, and they're easily sterilised (you just put them through the dishwasher or wash them in the sink then dry off by baking in the oven). The pic here is the bare jar, they looked much better once they were all finished but I did label them up with pink gingham stickers on the front, some pink tissue paper over the lid kept in place with more of the pink elastic donated by my sis. I think that was from Hobbycraft, the tissue paper was recycled from a Christmas present but is cheap enough in card shops & the supermarket.

I also made some gingerbread and used a tiny cookie cutter to stamp out some little hearts and I filled a couple of jars with those and decorated similarly. I called them "breakable hearts". My gingerbread recipe is:
1lb of plain flour (plus loads more for dusting)
2tsp ground ginger
tsp mixed spice
tsp baking soda
4oz butter
4oz soft brown sugar (I love billingtons dark brown its really tasty and caramely)
3 heaped tablespoons of golden syrup
1 large egg - beaten

Basically you put all the dry ingredients in a bowl (flour, baking soda, spices)
then heat up the butter, sugar & syrup in a pan on low heat until its all melted together.
Pour all the wet ingredients onto the dry ones and mix, then add the egg.
It will look like its never going to combine, but once its cool enough get your hands in there and have a proper mix and it will form a ball of dough.
It will be sticky and you'll probably need a lot of flour to work it. Roll it out into a piece about the thickness of a £1 coin and cut out your shapes. I bake it on gas 3 for about 15 mins but keep checking on it. You'll smell it when its done. Dont worry if it looks a bit cakey when you take them out of the oven, so long as they're golden/gingery coloured you'll be fine. Let them cool on a wire rack so the air gets to them and they'll crisp up as they cool.

I also did some big gingerbread men and gave them little cranberry/cherry hearts. I soaked some cranberries & cherries in some blackcurrant juice to soften them up then cut a little slit from the top into the centre of the fruit (think radius when doing maths and pi). Then once you squashed it onto the gingerbread man it made a little heart. I wrapped them in cellophane and sealed with tape on the back so they wouldn't go soft. They weren't dis-simlar looking to these: Gingerbread hearts. I called them "perfect men".

I also put together some little bags of kisses (cherry lips sweeties batches of 30 tied in little pink cellophane bundles and curling ribbon). They didn't sell so well but I can re-package them for father's day as "kisses for Daddy" or "Santa Kisses" at Christmas. The gingerbread men did surprisingly well I only had about 5 left and I made two trays full (16). The remainder went to my dad & one of the lads at work's 3 kids. My jars of breakable hearts all went, and the foamy sweet jars sold. So I think next craft sale I'll do more decorated jars!!! The sock cupcakes went really well too, I think I have 4 or 5 left (from 12) but the sweets on them dont run out til March 2012 so I can always re-use for Mothers day, Easter, Christmas or even next Valentines day.

Craft Sale October

Well I did a craft sale in October with my friend Ann. She sold fairy cakes and ghost/bat decorated biscuits. I took all my little handmade trinkets including loads of pumpkin photo/card holders that no-one bought!
Its the Maker's Market, Seaburn. Its run by a lovely lady called fiona. Ann's biccies sold quite well but there was another stall doing fancy pants cupcakes so we lost quite a lot of trade to them (despite the fact they were "assembed" rather than "home made" but never mind. I got a lot of interest in my things but no buyers.

I was hoping with the halloween theme someone would buy a pumpkin. My hubby loved them (and to be honest I was quite chuffed with them too). I got some orange FIMO and formed it into little balls then squashed 6 or 8 a thin lines of darker orange (mixed with a bit of red) across it in an asterisk * style. (So that the lines crossed at the top and bottom of the ball). Then I used some craft wire to press the darker colour into the round to make grooves, and make it look into a pumpkin shape. Then I added the black faces and little brown stalks on the top. I used some round nosed plyers to bend some 1.8mm craft wire into a swirl (to hold the card) and stabbed it into the top of the pumpkin.

I also put some of my claycraft teddies....fimo bears cut out using a little push cutter I got from hobbycraft.
Here are the mobile phone ones. I just baked the teddies, punched a hole in their ear with a cocktail stick before they were cooked and then attached a jump ring once they were hard. (right picture)
I made some into handbag/keyring charms (left picture) using some trace chain and little catches. I've since invested in proper keyrings so they're easier to attach onto bags with wide handles or thick zips/rings. I've also donated a batch of these to Pawz for Thought who are the charity I re-homed my bunnies from. They regularly have table top sales and book fairs where they sell goodies and they have a charity shop too so anything to help.

I also made a couple of beaded charms for mobiles/handbags while I was crafting. The handbag ones sold quite well at the January Makers Market, I sold them for £1.50 each and had lots of "lookers" I think next time i'll take an actual handbag so I can attach them a display model. I invested in some more exciting charms like little glass shaped beads, mushrooms, ducks, from an ebay seller called Bead Addicts. They have some fab silver charms too, I got some lucky cats, handbags, rainbow enamel charms and allsorts. I went a bit mad, but they do discount the postage when you order a batch of stuff. I've not been dissapointed with anything i've got from them so far and its always really fast delivery.
Of course I had to make some beaded mobile phone charms. These I sold some at my later craft sale in Jan but none at the October one. I think girly things like handbags, hearts and things seem to be the most popular ones. Also animals, so i'll be keeping an eye out for more animal beads in the future.

I took a full display board (A4 sized) of about 24 pairs of earrings again for £1.50 each. No-one bought these either, but there are a few stalls of people already selling jewellery, and solely jewellery so there was a lot of competition. I've mainly been giving out my jewellery as xmas presents and putting some on ebay. I have a sellers page here. I usually sell stuff i've made for 84p - a bizzare amount I know, but the postage is 66p (although i'm sure it SHOULD be 42p but I can't be bothered to argue with the expertly trained grumps at the post office). So that totals £1.50 per pair of earrings which I dont think is bad priced really. I've paid much more for some that last 2 minutes before they break or tarnish that aren't as nice.

This one I made with gold crackle beads and these lovely big square buckle type beads were given to me by my friend with a bunch of her other broken necklaces. Recycling took over and I turned them into a few new ones....this being one of them. This was was actually an ebay success story.

This one also sold on ebay. I made it with these red glass beads that had a black swirl running through them. They had a lovely smoke pattern to them. They were in a bag of mixed beads that I got from a shop in their little "specials" bins. I also used some black cube beads, faux black pearls, faux burgundy pearls, clear silver-lined bugle beads and some silver spacer beads. I always use silver-plated fixings and findings.
These are my bunches of cherry earrings. I got the leaf shapes from my favourite ebay shopBeadaddicts. They look & feel like glass but they're actually really good quality acrylic. I then attached two short lengths of trace chain to a fish-hook ear-wire. I then put a frosty red glass round bead onto a headpin and held the headpin with the bead at the bottom and my thumb holding the headpin in place. I then cut it just above where my thumb was so it was nice and short, then using some round nosed plyers curled it round into a hoop and bent this hoop closed around one of the links in the chain. You continue repeating this with about 2 beads on each link in the chain, then repeat the same short cut, loop and attach to the trace chain with the leaf beads, but placing these at the top of the chain. I made these with "antique copper" fixings, which are actually that gothic black colour. I think they look quite funky.

These I call "waterfall" earrings...because well that's what I think they look like. For these I threaded a crimp bead onto some clear beading fibre, its kind of like fishing wire, but you can use beading thread or tigertail depending on how rigid you want each strand to be. Anyway, I'm waffling away from the point. Thread on your crimp bead and squash it with a crimping tool or some flat nosed plyers, then thread on 3, 4 or 5 bugle beads. Thread another crimp bead onto the end then push loose end through the loop at the bottom of the fish hook earwire. Now tuck the thread back through the crimp bead so its done a full loop and gone back to where it started (but pointing the opposite direction). Squash the crimp bead and this will attach your first strand. Repeat this about 10 times, each time using a different number of bugle beads creating strands of varying lengths.

This was another recyling project. These are acutally brown and orange wooden beads. The chain was originally one made with the large cube beads and one with the smaller links. I just repaired it by adding gold plated jump rings to connect the pieces and put it into more of a pattern. The earrings were made up of stray beads that I threaded onto some beading wire, then once I had enough to make a loop, I threaded 3 or 4 more beads through both ends of the wire so that the beads were falling on top of the loop i'd just made. I then popped a gold crimp bead on after the last wooden bead, fed the two strands through the crimp bead, through the earwire and back through the crimp bead....and SQUAAAAASH. All done.
 These I listed on ebay as firey because I think the amber & red makes it look like the colour of fire. I got the disc beads from sale in Hobbycraft in one of the "sump bins" near the till for 50p....bargain! I used antique copper fixings for these as I didn't think silver or gold would look nice against the amber. I took some earwires, 3 short headpins and one eyepin. Put the big disc bead onto the eyepin and place a smaller round glass amber bead ontop. Then using round nosed plyers bend the top end of the eyepin into a loop and connect it to the fish-hook earwire. Then take the smaller red beads and thread one each onto each of the short headpins (if you dont have short ones just cut yours to size). Then thread these through the "eye" at the bottom of the eyepin and use your plyers to loop them and connect up. Repeat 3 times throught the eye part of the eyepin so you have a little cluster going on!

I've always seen these loop earrings with things dangling from them and wondered how you do them. So I bought the ear-wires and had a go. Basically you prize apart the loop from the top where it meets the fish-hook and thread on your beads. I then adorned some headpins with various mixed of blue beads and created a loop at the end, I had loads of spare headpin left so just continued to loop it round on itself like a coiled spring. I then threaded one bead, one of the springy headpins, one bead, one headpin etc along the "loop" part of these earrings then snapped them shut at the opening. The coiled ends of the headpin act as nice spacer beads between the long chains of beads on the headpin and the blue beads on the main part of the earring.

These are long oblong glass beads that are silver lined but also had some glittery lustre running through them. These I still have (as of Feb 11) they're lovely but are quite large beads (about 1.5") which I think puts people off. I call them frosty earrings because the long flat pillow type beads look they've been left out in the frost. I've added a small silver spacer bead at the top just to try bring out the colour. I cant remember where I got these beads.
 These are "ladybird" earrings. The glass ladybird beads are from my favourite Bead Addicts. They're quite small but I just think they're so cute. I added a black glass faux pearl to look like a head, as the existing "head" part of the bead wasn't very prominant.
 These are the same beads as the "firey" earrings from above, but these are pink & white disks and the white colour is not translucent so looks more cloudy. I used a frosted pink bead on top of it to set off the cloudy effect of the white in the disc bead. I did these in silver to match the white and bring out the cloudy frost colour. Well that's the waffley arty excuse i'm using.

These ones are just a dark purple round bead (from a mixed bag of czech glass beads) two matching preferably but you can get away with slightly different patterns or colours because of the cage. I bought the cages from Rosarama which is a local bead shop, they also have a web-page. Basically you use your plyers to prize apart the gap between the spirals and pop the bead in. They usually just close back up themselves keyring style and spring back into shape BUT if not you can always give them a bit of a squeeze with some flat-nosed plyers.