Post archive


⇒ Post history


A gem of a shop in a lovely town

I am very happy and excited to be selling some of my products through the extremely gorgeous 'The Kitchen Shelf' shop, located right in the centre of Warwick on Old Square. Please do pop in and have a browse if you are passing, you will receive a very warm welcome. Link here: www.thekitchenshelf.co.uk/news

Raindrops keep falling on my head

With all this wet and windy weather about at the moment it's pretty easy to feel fed up and gloomy....which is why I made this brooch today. It may not keep you dry but it'll cheer you and others up no end if you pin it to your winter coat (raincoat)! Drop me an email if you would like one. I'll just be making a few of these. Brooch approx 7cm high. £5.50 inc postage. x

Time to reflect

January is always a time to sit back and reflect, to take stock of what has been happening in those crazy pre-Christmas months and of what is to come in the new year. It's when I look at my meagre depleted stock levels and rejoice in what a productive, lucrative time I've had recently, but then come back down to a earth with a bump when realisation dawns - I have an awful lot to make....

So what's new in 2014? Well, I have been getting very excited by the huge range of gorgeous fabrics around these days and dreaming of the possibilities. Mainly upholstery. I also hope to focus on children's rooms and have found some great Roald Dahl fabrics which would be great for notice boards, cushions, chair coverings, maybe even piano stools.

Talking of cushions, I made a start yesterday: 

  A very (belated) Happy New Year, and thanks to all for your support in 2013. x

Summer blooms

I love many flowers, especially English blooms and would find it very difficult to name a favourite....but this one - Sarah Bernhardt Peony - has to come pretty much in first place. These beautiful flowers were cut from my garden last week, a lovely symbol of Summer.

Last Saturday was the Hanbury Countryside Show, and what a gorgeous day for it. The crowds were huge, everyone enjoying the sunshine, watching the events happening in the main arena and then strolling through the craft marquee to cool off. As always, I met some very lovely customers and some extremely inspirational and talented fellow craftspeople. Can't wait to sign up for it again next year.

This Sunday, as part of the Open Studios Warwickshire fortnight, I will be at the Electric Railway Museum in Baginton. The weather looks set to be glorious, so do come along for a great day out. x

Wedding hearts and 'Dress a Girl' campaign

'I'm not blogging much these days due in the main to lack of a decent camera - I do possess three in total but they all take very disappointing pictures, the situation will be remedied....I am very aware that reading a blog is much enhanced by decent and beautiful photos to look at. Anyway, here are the little Liberty hearts I made recently for a friend's wedding:                             

I posted a photo on facebook and twitter and had a great response - please do get in touch if you are having your special day this year and would like something handmade and pretty for your guests to take home. I loved making these.

 

 

 

 

 

And now....I am putting my support behind a campaign to 'Dress a Girl Around the World'. This involves sewing 'pillowcase' dresses which are then sent out and distributed to girls living in the following countries: Malwi, Kenya, India, Ghana, Uganda, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Phillipines, Tanzania and Zambia. The dress itself is very simple to make and you can find links on www.sewscrumptious.co.uk to help you if you fancy joining in. If you live in the Stratford area and would like to make a dress or two then please get in touch with myself via email, so that we can organise combined postage. More details are to come...meanwhile here is my 1st effort:

Exciting New Project!

Recently I did a fantastic upholstery course at Huntlands Farm,courtesy of Lucy Brodie www.huntlandsfarm.co.uk. The weekend courses take place in a lovely Georgian farmhouse set in a stunning location on the Worcestershire/Herefordshire border. At the end of my weekend I came away with a 'brand new' piano stool and ottoman, and armed with some basic upholstery skills. To say I discovered a new passion is an understatement!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I'm really pleased to say that I have already been asked to recover some dining chairs and also a dressing table stool, and I will be creating a dedicated upholstery page on the website soon.  In the meantime if you have a piano/foot stool, dining chair or ottoman that you would like upholstering then please do get in touch.

 

Happy Easter

I know,I know, it's been a while, but I have been feeling the warmth of an African sun and thoroughly spoilt rotten....

......but now it's Easter Sunday,a very cold Easter Sunday,and by all accounts, almost a white Easter Sunday (phew, that didn't happen) back in dear old Blighty.

 

 

 

Later today we will be doing the eggscellent (yes, not funny really) National Trust Egg hunt at Charlecote Park and tomorrow we will be doing another one at beautiful Hidcote Gardens www.nationaltrust.org.uk. It's a bit of an annual ritual, we have done these hunts in scorching sun (remember 2 years ago) and driving rain, moan moan....but this year will definitely be the coldest yet.

Then we will be feasting with family and hopefully cutting, not sawing, into my Easter simnel cake, courtesy of Mary Berry and the Great British Bake Off Easter Masterclass.

......yes, it did brown rather too much under the grill but I bet it tastes good! If any one baked this cake and managed to perfect the crystallised primroses could they please tell me how? You will notice my cake has no flowers, basically because they were a total disaster. Pushed out of my comfort zone on this one.....

 

However, the children did very well and had a lot of fun with the Easter biscuits from the same programme.

We have munched our way through dozens of these, are giving some as presents, and still have lots left, hooray!!

 

So....A Very Happy Easter to all my lovely customers and if you would like 20% off from now until midnight on Sat 6th April, just email your order through to me at amandawalkercrafts@gmail.com and I will invoice you with the adjustment.

News of my recent upholstery course and photos of completed projects coming soon!!! If anyone has a piano stool, footstool or simple dining chair they would like upholstered then watch this space....

xx

 

 

Spotlight on Designers article

I am really pleased to have been featured in this months 'Craft Business' magazine.

Craft Business magazine - A Spotlight on Textile Designers pg2.pdf Craft Business magazine - A Spotlight on Textile Designers pg2.pdf

More news: next weekend I am off to study basic upholstery. This is something I have thought about doing for a long time, and I'm really excited about it. I will be learning the skills required to reupholster piano stools, footstools and drop-in cushions for chairs. Watch this space...

Dropped some more stock off yesterday into the fantastic 'Sew Me Something' shop in Stratford. If you are in town make sure you pay a visit. www.sewmesomething.co.uk

Lastly I will be at Salford Priors School Pamper Evening next Thursday 28th. 7.30 - 9.30pm.

Have a great day. x

 

Things I have loved.......

In the past week or so I have experienced some great things that I got excited about and wanted to pass onto you.  Firstly a great chocolate cake...I make a lot of cake, and chocolate cake, naturally, is my children's favourite, so trust the great Mary Berry to come up with the best and simplest one I have ever made.....Double Divine Chocolate Cake - find the recipe online at www.you.co.uk.  My creation was gobbled up within a couple of days and I have had to repeat the process today, what a chore!!!

Then there's the excellent 'The Winters Tale' currently showing at the RST in Stratford. It goes on tour soon, so look it up and book tickets if you love Shakespeare like I do! Tara Fitzgerald is excellent and last Saturday there was not a single empty seat at the newly opened Royal Shakespeare Theatre, which says it all. www.rsc.org.uk

A fantastic restaurant is next - No9 Church Street in Stratford-Upon Avon. Incredibly fresh, quality local food, gorgeous combinations of flavours. I had some wonderful salmon followed by Mickleton Venison. Well worth splashing out. www.no9churchstreet.com.

Finally I was blown away last night by Channel 4's Fish Fight programme led by the very inspirational Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, one of my all-time heroes! If you watched it I am sure, like me, you were saddened and shocked to see the state of our seabeds due to dredging techniques. I have seen many coral reefs all over the world and if this is what we are reducing them to, well it's absolute insanity. As Hugh said - it is changeable, it will bounce back - but something must be done, and soon.  I've signed the petition today and you can too, www.fishfight.net.

OK job done, have a good weekend xxxxx

Snow Day

All the disruption and inconvenience aside......there is something beautiful, bewitching, pure and magical about waking up to a white winter wonderland. I could sit in my warm kitchen and stare out at my garden all day....snowmen built, sledging completed, now time to contemplate the beauty.....

Glad Tidings....

Gosh my last blog post was 1st October and now we are a week from Christmas Day! I have been, it goes without saying, absolutely absolutely absolutely BUSY, and have loved it. The build-up to Christmas in this industry is so intense that days, weeks and even months fly past and before you know it it's all over and you look back and think, how on earth did I do that? How did I keep up the pace? But if you love your craft then you love to be this busy and it's such an exciting time. All the fairs have now been ticked off, all the orders have gone out, just a few local orders left now. The one thing that I will remember from this season is the enormous amount of people who have said to me that they do not want to buy mass-produced items for Christmas, they are fed up of the High Street and they are welcoming in the hand made and unique designers. Thank you for that. That keeps us all going.

I have over the past week been developing my new ranges for 2013 - I was asked to do it by a craft magazine - and it has been a breath of fresh air, looking forward to Spring and experimenting with different designs. I will update the website in the New Year.

In the meantime may I take this opportunity to thank every single one of my lovely customers - whether you are a regular, or whether you found me from a browse on the internet and ordered a gift for a loved one - thank you thank you, thank you.

Have a very Merry Christmas and peaceful 2013.

Amanda x

Pumpkins and Winter Gardening

Well this weekend was spent clearing out the Summer veggie plot and planting my Winter garden. Veggies planted include such treats as winter purslane, Russian red kale, turnips, mizuna, endive, perpetual spinach and wild rocket - to name but a few! The plants are all organic and arrived last week from the excellent 'Rocket Gardens' www.rocketgardens.co.uk. Having painstakingly dug over the soil, planted up the plugs, scattered over the slug pellets (organic and VERY necessary in my garden) and finally covered the lot with netting, I will now sit back and watch it all grow. (Either that or watch it all be eaten by birds and slugs or destroyed to mush by frost! One can only hope and pray!).

Boo! The start of October sees the countdown to....Halloween, what else!! Pumpkin brooches and keyrings have been made for the occasion and are £4,00 each. Want one? I will throw in FREE postage. Drop me a line amandawalkercrafts@gmail.com. Please note, keyring ribbons will vary in colour.

Liberty, Valencia and lavender

Gosh, I can't believe how long it's been... school hols and all that. I am booking fairs fast and furiously now for the Christmas season - see the list on 'forthcoming events' Other projects in the pipeline are pumpkin brooches for Halloween and poppies for Remembrance Day. Details coming soon. I have put some photos on the gallery page of my recent visit to Liberty of London.

I was in heaven surrounded by the gorgeous iconic prints, what a beautiful shop. It provided a lot of inspiration for my product range, I love using these fabrics.

 

 

 I have also been lucky enough to visit Valencia, which was a charming city. The city is one of contrasts with the old historic quarter jostling alongside the modernist and quite amazing Museum of Arts and Sciences Building - what an awesome structure. Well worth a visit.

  Finally, the lavender harvest is upon us and this year I have been the lucky recipient of bundles of locally grown lavender. I am so excited that from now on I can use this lovely fragrant lavender, grown a stone's throw from my house, in all my lavender products, hoorah!

Owl workshop!

This is the owl keyring that Jess sewed at one of my recent workshops. All the girls had great fun and went home with their own masterpiece. If someone you know fancies making one of these or something similar, then please get in touch for more details. x

Welsh dreams

Well, we're back from a wonderful holiday in the most beautiful part of the world. Pembrokeshire really rocks! Despite clear blue skies and sunshine, the most stunning beaches in the UK were practically deserted - they are saying that Pembrokeshire is the new Cornwall - please don't let that mean the hoards will be arriving soon. Favourite beaches - Broadhaven South and Whitesands Bay up by St Davids. Photos coming soon.

Thank you to the lovely girls who came along to my workshop yesterday and made owl keyrings, what a great way to ease back into work! I am now booking up lots of fairs for the build up to Christmas, so looking forward to a busy few months. But for now, time to enjoy my kids and the glorious Summer hols. Keep the orders rolling in though, and always fantastic to hear your feedback. xx

Wales here we come....

Very excited to be off to beautiful Pembrokeshire tonight for a couple of weeks. Fingers crossed for the sunshine!! As always I am contactable by email and will deal with all orders promptly on my return. Don't forget the kids sewing workshop on 8th August! x

Mud Glorious Mud

Just back from the Newport Show, www.newportshow.org.  If you could see my wellies and the state of my car it may just give you some idea of the last couple of days! Having said that, the sun did shine for a few hours yesterday morning, and everything was right with the world again....until the heavens opened and the marquee started to drip. Lovely delicate vintage fabrics and rain and mud splashes is not a good combination...... AT ALL! Actually it was a good show, I had a great time, met some lovely people and will definitely be up for it again next year! 

Rain rain go away...

Well, sports day was cancelled today. Is there any school in the country that has had a sports day this summer on the original scheduled date?...The good thing is that I have a stack of work to do before Newport and can plod on with that today - as I have a child in the infant school and a child in the junior school, sports day involves a whole day at school, so I've got an extra day to work which is great. The bad thing is they have rescheduled for a date when I can't be there, I know I'm not the only one - that's annoying.

I say I have so much work to do, but I must admit to wandering around the M&S food shop this morning stocking up on gorgeous, but probably unecessary items - I was in there to buy wine and nibbles for a drinks night with the girls. I was actually drooling over the flowers - this is the season for gladioli and sunflowers, peonies and beautifully scented stocks. I love this time of year in the garden, it's amazing how plants and flowers that were just wooden stumps over the long winter months suddenly burst back into life with lush green leaves and vibrantly coloured flowers. I just wish it'd stop raining so we could all get out there and enjoy it a bit. I picked a total of 14 slugs off my pot plants this morning on my patio, urggg..I have finally succumbed to organic slug pellets for my veggie plot. I have just sprinkled them in my pots too. Yuk.

So, back to work....I have been making cushions this week out of lovely vintage fabrics, and absolutely loving it. Photos coming soon. My 'amanda walker' sign has arrived, so I feel all official now, things are coming together. Broad Street fair is tomorrow, so looking forward to that too.

Oh and one more exciting thing that's happened this week - I finally entered the 21st century with the arrival of a state-of-the-art flatscreen TV, all HD and everything included (I have no idea what I'm talking about by the way, but it's a fabulous picture!). We all had a chuckle when the lovely guys from John Lewis took my old TV away - state-of-the-art too - circa 1999! I told them to be careful they didn't put their backs out as they groaned under the weight of it!! Hee hee. My motto is 'if it ain't broke don't fix it' ...but one day last week my poor old TV decided it had had enough and finally died on me, God, the dust when they took it away! Embarrasing!

Have a great weekend x

A moment in history

Two great events happened in my hometown this weekend. Yesterday we had the excellent Stratford Upon Avon River Festival. What a lovely thing this was. Lots of colourful boats moored on the banks of the Avon, strewn with patriotic bunting, craft and food stalls, activities galore and the sounds of excellent local bands coming from the central bandstand. A vibrant and buzzing atmosphere and decent weather for once, made it a fantastic way to spend a couple of hours.

The Olympic Torch Relay came through Stratford today, we were lucky it passed the end of our road. People were lining the streets, waving flags and generally having a good time, it was a special moment in history.

cool to be creative

Following on from yesterday's theme (the daily grind), I read some really inspiring words today that made me sit back and think positively. The words were about creativity and imagination, and how these two things are essential to our being and our future. All creative people are artists of some kind, and they will all agree that in this age of high-technology and factory-produced cheap products, they have numerous challenges to overcome. To base your work on creativity is a courageous thing to do. What especially struck me about these words of wisdom that I read today was the following:

 'First there is struggle, then practice, then play. Only when you have gone through the first two stages can you take flight and play with what you have discovered. Even though the journey may not be comfortable, the deep satisfaction and fun of arriving somewhere new should be open to all. There is nothing more valuable in life'

I could have done with reading those very words yesterday as the steam billowed out of the sewing machine and my mind worked overtime trying to put together colour and pattern combinations. Those words would have been my encouragement, and I'm so glad I came across them today. Yesterday the journey wasn't comfortable, I was knee deep in struggle, and then furiously practising. Today the third stage kicked in, I started to play a little as the finishing touches were put to the bunting, and I could envisage it hanging at a garden party or over a lovely fireplace.

To quote again the words of this wise woman to every creative working mind ' may I wish you courage, a glowing and original mind and the joy of putting something exciting into the world that wasn't there before'.

That's the joy of using vintage materials, one-off pieces, rescued pieces and giving it all new life in the form of something totally unique and wonderful.

Photos of bunting coming soon. x

 

Work, work, work

One of the toughest things about working for yourself is that any praise, motivation and encouragement that you feel you absolutely have earned is not exactly forthcoming - because you're (in my case) sitting at your kitchen table and not in an office environment surrounded by supportive colleagues. That praise, hopefully - if you've done a decent job - does finally reach you at fairs from lovely customers, or in the form of positive feedback when someone receives their goodies after ordering online. I just love receiving your comments when your parcels have arrived, it makes my job SO worthwhile - because another thing about working in an isolated environment is that you never really know whether the products that you are making or your latest ideas are actually any good. So far, touch wood, all my products have been received really, REALLY well and for that I am incredibly grateful and a little overwhelmed......so, of course it's all worthwhile in the end. But, to come back to my first point on motivation and encouragement - when you're by yourself and working flat out for the entire school day, except for maybe a 5 min coffee break (because you'd literally pass out without a caffeine fix, forget the lunch break though, school only runs from 9 - 3.30!) and every muscle aches because, contrary to popular opinion, this sewing game is physical labour, then all you would really like is a pat on the back and someone to say - keep going, you're doing an excellent job (and make you another cup of coffee). Anyway, what my point is I think, is that if you are considering working for yourself then you have to be extremely motivated and strict with yourself - or else you will achieve nothing (I suppose a good thing about working for yourself is that no one will tell you off for that).

I have an important show coming up and it does, I must admit, feel great to have a challenge ahead of me, and luckily for me I have just inherited some beautiful fabrics that were given to me instead of being thrown in the skip. So I've been having a great time choosing different fabric combinations for lovely summer bunting and debating what other products I can make.                   

Some of the fabrics are just crying out to be made into cushions, and some just say 'little girls bedroom', so washbags and storage bags and bunting combinations will be made.

Maybe too, some more headbands as these have proved really popular this summer. I will be getting these onto to the website very soon.

Have a good night (what's left of it!) x

Here comes the sun....

Dartmouth was awesome. Love the winding little streets full of old pubs and lovely independent shops. Love the beaches. Love the boats and the marina.

Love the feeling of being by the sea. LOVE the fish and chips from Rockfish (my son loved the squid, thankfully both my children adore seafood, must be the Aussie blood). Love the different coloured houses. Love the views. Love the stunning coastline. Love the quaintness of the car ferry. Love everything. The weather was fairly good to us. A day spent on Blackpool Sands (NOT to be confused with the Blackpool of the North) was good for the soul. Great organic cafe on the beach - where else can you sit drinking local (good local) wine, sand in your toes - well, shingle actually, which I find much preferable with kids around - and waves crashing at your feet. I mean in the UK! Awesome. A visit to the beautiful Coleton Fishacre www.nationaltrust.org is an absolute must if you're ever down this way. Former home of the D'Oyly Carte family, it's a 1920s house and beautiful cottage gardens. It would be hard to choose my favourite National Trust property but I think this is the strongest contender yet. Awesome. The week went too fast, and then it was time to leave....and leave we did, once the car was fixed - we broke down you see in the marina car park - someone was telling us we should just stay a little longer!

Work begins in earnest now for the forthcoming Newport Show on 14th July, it's a biggie for me, but I'm really looking forward to the challenge. Don't forget my workshop on 3rd July and Broad Street School Fair on 7th July. Please note also new email address: amandawalkercrafts@gmail.com. x

 

Memories

To my lovely dad who we lost earlier this year, you are and will always be remembered and loved every day.  To the father of my children who they love very much, and to all the other dads who I know and love and who do an amazing job every day:

Happy Fathers Day x

Off to gorgeous Dartmouth tomorrow, the weather looks PROMISING! As always, I will be contactable by email and orders will be dealt with promptly on my return next Saturday.

Brownies for Brownies

Jess is off to Brownie Camp tonight, so have been busy baking this morning

 Yesterday I was back at the NEC for the Good Food Show and Gardeners World. It was a brilliant day and well worth the total exhaustion that I felt when I finally got home last night. Thank you to the lovely people at Catchpole & Froggit who supplied a copious amount and fantastic selection of good wines for us to taste - they actually remembered us from last year - say no more! Their selection of wines is really diverse and really interesting. After trying so many though, it's hard not to put a rather large order in!

The show gardens this year were a real treat and the weather actually stayed dry and sunny for which we were so grateful:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good food and theatre

Well, I can heartily recommend the rabbit pasta at Jamies, in fact all of the food was excellent, as was the wine and company. What a great restaurant. Yesterday we went to Cheltenham to see 'The Real Thing' by Tom Stoppard at the Everyman Theatre directed by my oldest and dearest friend, Kate Saxon. It was a brilliant production, as is everything that Kate directs, she is extremely talented and I'm really proud of how well she's done. Blows me away sometimes. www.ett.org.uk.

The end's in sight!

Wow what a week - has it actually stopped RAINING at any time? Typical when the children are on half-term hols. Back to school on Monday though (phew). Off to Birmingham tonight on the train - in another life I used to do this journey 5 times a week, 6.50 am from Stratford and 8.25pm from Birmingham home. This was pre-children of course! So, I'm off to Jamie Olivers restaurant, and very much looking forward to catching up with some mates with good food and wine. Before I go I am popping in to the new Sew Me Something shop in The Minories, Stratford upon Avon. This belongs to a lovely lady called Jules and is a gorgeous new shop downstairs, while upstairs are lots of state-of-the-art sewing machines which she uses for workshops etc. In fact on 3rd July I will be doing a workshop for her, 10.30- 12.00. Do come along if you fancy making a brooch or keyring. www.sewmesomething.co.uk.

Jubilee Bunting!

 Well, the plan was to have house and garden adorned with my homemade bunting but the weather clearly had other ideas yesterday. Still, the idea of bunting hanging over a cosy fireplace seems particularly apt seeing how it was chucking it down outside. Stoic as ever, we headed off to the Lunar Festival  at the beautiful Umberslade Estate in Tanworth in Arden, www.lunarfestival.co.uk. Despite driving rain we managed to listen to a few excellent bands, loved 'The Hall Brothers' especially. My good friend Katie from Little Bird Soaps, www.littlebirdsoaps.com was also there making bath bombs with the children. My kids had fun on the farm milking the goats and grooming the ponies, but as hands turned numb and little faces started to turn blue we had to admit defeat and call it a day. Definitely be back next year though. I still have some homemade bunting left - £2.95 for approx 2.5m - will come in very useful this year, what with all the patriotic events going on!

Today we're off to Upton House to meet up with good friends and enjoy a pimms on the stunning lawn, www.nationaltrust.org.uk. I really love this place and it's been such an inspiration for my work as it has a very 1930s vintage vibe going on. Plus the gardens have to be seen to be believed - I just wish my veggie patch could look like the ones here. Here's how I fared last year: hmmm, rather a few too many potatoes methinks!

Click here for RSS feed