Friday, 23 December 2011

Merry Felting Christmas!

I've finally received the Clover Felting Tool which Kirsty used on her Handmade Christmas programme. I know some of you have been waiting for these for some time, and if you have asked for them, I've put them on one side for you. 

Don't forget that if you register on our new website, you will be entered into a draw to win a £50 gift voucher and a Craft Arena goody bag. Visit for more info. 

If you visit the studio between Thursday 29th and Saturday 31st December you will receive double Loyalty Card Stamps, and don't forget our sale starts on Thursday 5th January. See the website for details of our opening times.

I'd like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May you receive all that you wish for.


Tuesday, 20 December 2011

New beginnings

I don't usually make New Year resolutions; too much likelihood of failure, but I think now is the time to start thinking about what I do and how I do it, with a view to getting things done and not wasting so much time!

To start with, we have relaunched the Craft Arena website with a fresh new look. It should make navigation and the whole shopping process easier. Let me know what you think. I'm holding a draw at the end of January among all those who have registered on the new site. The prize is a Craft Arena goody bag and a £50 Gift Voucher, so do visit and sign up.

Next job is to write my Christmas Cards!

We had a brilliant weekend with Lynda Monk, lots of you came along to see her and buy her new book. I'm hoping Lynda will be holding an exhibition and some workshops later in 2012.  I'll let you know as soon as we have arranged dates. I took a couple of pictures while Lynda was here, but they haven't come out very well. She wouldn't thank me for putting them here, so you'll have to just imagine!

I've been painting Bondaweb today for my college project. I did have a plan, but it's not going the way I wanted, so it's back to the drawing board (literally!). We have been given a restricted colourscheme of just black and white. I'm hoping to work on it a bit more this week, and I'll post progress later.


Saturday, 17 December 2011

Lynda Monk

Lynda's first day at Craft Arena went really well. Lots of people came to see her demonstrate and sign her books. You can see her here talking to Kay. Lynda has bought loads of samples with her showing her use of tissue paper with procion dye, paint, transfer foil and other media. 

Lynda is with us again tomorrow (Sunday), so if you can make it over, do come and say 'Hello', she would love to meet you.

We are open from 10am to 4pm.


Thursday, 15 December 2011

More Tonia and a great weekend to look forward to!

The Tonia wool has arrived this afternoon and I've already sold several balls. I definately won't be getting any more this side of Christmas, so don't delay if you need more. The colours are lovely and include three with a metallic thread running through them.

Don't forget our very special weekend ahead, when Lynda Monk (purplemissus) will be visiting Craft Arena to sign her new book 'Fabulous Surfaces'. Knowing Lynda, I'm sure she will be bringing lots of samples, will have some of her work to show you and will also be demonstrating some of her great techniques. I've been on a couple of workshops with her, and got so much out of them. If you do get the chance, do pop in to see what she has to show; you will be inspired!


Tuesday, 13 December 2011

This and That

The Tonia yarn which came in a few weeks ago has already sold out. I've ordered more and it should be in within the next few days. I'm also expecting some Clover needlefelting tools as used by Kirsty Allsopp on Kirsty's Handmade Britain. I'm putting some by for those of you who have asked, and if anyone else wants one, just let me know.

My new, updated website is nearly ready, and we hope to be launching it on Tuesday 21st December. That is assuming that I manage to get all the stock on that I need to; we may have to add some things at a later stage, but I'll keep you posted. Here is a taster for you.

I'm shutting shop early today as I have to drive a fair way this evening and want to get a start before the rush hour.
A sad couple of weeks. The loss of two friends is hard to take. Not only did we lose Sarah Lawrence, but Bonny Osborne was also taken from us far too early. Two inspirational textile artists who will be sadly missed.


Tuesday, 6 December 2011


I was really sad to hear today of the sudden death of Sarah Lawrence. Sarah was an inspirational textile artist, teacher and friend. She encouraged me to start up my business and was always a joy to talk to and do business with. My thoughts are with David and her family. I'll miss her as will many others. Rest in peace Sarah.

Monday, 28 November 2011


I've been doing a bit of preparatory work today for the projects I'm currently involved in. I've got to do three pieces for my Minerva Group and at least one for college; then there is a piece for ERTF! I think I know what I'm doing for ERTF - we have to do a button in black, white and red - some of the pieces I've done in monochrome for college will come in handy there. We did printing with oil paint and a pasta machine last week!

I've wanted to do something with this picture of a swallowtail butterfly from David Attenborough's Life on Earth ever since I saw the programme and got the book in ..... (looks at the fly leaf) GOODNESS! 1979!!! I think it's about time! My initial reaction is for machine embroidery, but I think that organza might get involved somewhere!


Tuesday, 22 November 2011


Still no sign of the metallic Tonia, but I have received an interim supply of original Tonia this morning. I don't have much - just 20 balls - but they are in 5 lovely colours. I've no idea if or when I'll be able to get more, so don't wait long if you need it!


Wednesday, 16 November 2011

More magazines

Just a quick post today as I'm off to a Craft Council workshop shortly. Two more magazines came in today, and I know you have been waiting for them to arrive. I haven't had time to even open them yet, but the covers look good!

See you soon,


Tuesday, 15 November 2011


I had a suprise in the post today. A brand new magazine from the publishers of Quilting Arts and Cloth Paper Scissors. It is called Pages and is the creative gide for art journaling and bookmaking.  Now, I know that many of you love making books, so this could well be the magazine for you! I'm flicking through the magazine as I write this, and the contents page just wets your appetite for all the goodies inside; section titles are
  • Bookmaking
  • Book Covers
  • Binding
  • Inside Pages
  • Art Journaling
and projects include an acrylic book, a gardening journal, an accordion book, books as art, mini and textural book covers, a fabric collage book, piano-hinge book, backgrounds for art journals, adding dimension to your art journals, decorating paper, layers and lettering. Phew! Enough to keep you busy for a while. Sharne, you are going to love this!


Saturday, 12 November 2011

Brother Sewing Machine Weekend

I've just realised that I haven't mentiond my first Brother Demonstration weekend which will be held from Friday 2nd December until Sunday 4th December and I will be open late on Friday evening until 8pm for anyone who can't get along during the day. 

We will have all the new Laura Ashley sewing machines available for you to have a play with, including the fabulous Innovis Ie. Do come along to see what these machines are capable of and, if you book a time slot prior to the event, you will receive a free gift just for coming. You are welcome just to turn up of course, but if you do book you will guarantee a place on a machine of your choice. 

There is no obligation to buy, and it is an opportunity to have a play so I look forward to seeing you there.


Friday, 11 November 2011

Book Signing - Another First!

December seems to be a month of firsts!

As well as the Brother Sewing Machine event on December 2nd, 3rd and 4th, I am delighted to announce...... (drum roll)
Lynda Monk, aka Purple Missus is coming to Craft Arena on Satuday 17th and Sunday 18th December to demonstrate her techniques and sign copies of her fantastic new book, Fabulous Surfaces. I know that Lynda will be bring loads of samples for you to look at, as well as some of her finished pieces, so do come along and I promise you will be truly inspired!

Pass the message on, I'd really like as many people as possible to meet her!


Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Books and Baubles

Two books have just arrived:

In Scandinavian Designs in Red and White, there are easy-to-follow instructions and templates for 55 gorgeous items for your home, including pretty painted flowerpots for the garden, a patchwork tablecloth, aprons and napkins for the kitchen, hanging garlands, pennants and table decorations for the living and dining rooms, and beautiful gift ideas for your family and friends that include greetings cards, gift tags and a pretty heart-shaped box.

The best of Quilting Arts gives you exercises to help develop and improve your, machine- and hand-quilting, tips from today’s top award-winning quilters, inspiring profiles of prolific art quilters, a ton of techniques, advice for turning art quilting into a business, and ideas for creating the ideal quilt studio. Whether you are embarking on an art quilt for the first time or are already an advanced quilter, you will treasure the informative and inspiring collection of material culled from the first ten years of Quilting Arts magazine.

Another great kit from Buttonbag has also arrived today. With this kit you can make up to 12 felt baubles for your tree or to decorate your home. The pale blue, purple, red and green colours have a distinctive Scandinavian feel and can be decorated with ribbon and embroidery.

I've just had some good news from Brother which I'm hoping to be able to share with you soon.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Mollie Makes, Christmas kits and Newsletter

The latest issue of Mollie Makes arrived today. The cover kit has some cute little buttons to stitch and inside there are plenty of ideas to get you crafting into the Autumn. You can make monsters in felt, a pretty patchwork pillow, a baby blanket, tea cosy, lovely layered corsages, a diary cover and mug cosies. I really like this magazine, which continues to inspire.

I'm busy trying to get a newsletter out this week. There is news of a special event that we are holding in conjunction with Brother Sewing Machines, together with information about our Christmas opening hours and advance notice of our sale.

I'm slowly printing out those that need to be posted - they will go out over the course of the next week -  and I'm hoping to get the email version out this week.  This will probably be the last newsletter in the current format as I'm hoping that the new website that Ray is working on will be able to generate a nice shiny newsletter that will be easier to access. 

My Buttonbag Christmas kits have also arrived today. They are so sweet I can hardly stop from pulling open the boxes and starting to stitch them myself. Must resist though!

There is an easy to stich advent calendar:
 little button hearts:

robins for your tree:


felt jewellery:
  and a cute little sewing tin with everything a beginner will need to start sewing!

Should you not receive your newsletter, or if you can't wait to read it, it is available as a pdf document online here.


Friday, 21 October 2011

Exhibition and New Products

I can't believe it's so long since my last post! I've got lots to tell you, including news of a new exhibition, new magazines and some brilliant new Vilene fibres.

Night and Day Textile Group have their first exhibition at Craft Arena with a wonderful display of work. You can see some of their work here, but the photographs don't do them justice, so do come along and see for yourself. The exhibition is on now until 4th November.

Now the magazines. Somerset Studio this month has an Autumn feel about it, with lots of inspiration and projects. International Quilt Festival is an annual publication which has plenty of projects for the quilters out there. With cushions, bags, beads, pin cushions, covers, runners, quilts and embellishment there should be something here for everyone!

Vilene have produced a new spunbonded fibre called Zeelon, which is just great for textile use. It is similar to Lutradur and Evolon in that it can be cut, glued, sprayed, painted, printed, embroidered, distressed and dyed, but it can also be coloured with water colour paints and has a smoother finish providing great light transmssion even when using the heavier weights. Three weights are available and I've shown them here although it may be difficult to judge their qualities by the pictures. I'm expecting stock next week, and if you would like a free sample, just leave a comment on this post, then pop into the shop to collect it. If you live too far to visit, comment, then email me with your address putting 'Blog offer' in the subject line, and I'll put a sample in the post to you. Offer finishes on 4th November 2011.

Zeelon Heavy

Zeelon Light

Zeelon Medium
Zeelon is already on the website and available for pre-order.


Thursday, 6 October 2011

New Gleam

Just thought I'd share the new pots of Craftynotions Gleam that arrived yesterday. Three new scrummy colours for using to highlight and enhance texture. From top to bottom they are Spice, Imperial and Sage. I've used them here on black Hearty air-dry clay stamped with the Old Rose Karantha moulding mat. I just love these gilding waxes!


Wednesday, 5 October 2011

New Books and Magazines

Quite a few magazines and books have come in over the last week. Here are a selection.

Quilting Arts Issue 53 focuses on surface design and stitch including slik screen printing, block printing, monoprinting, recycling and free-motion stitching.

Quilting Arts and Cloth Paper Scissors Gifts havelots of goodies to make with a seasonal theme, but many projects can be themed to any time of the year.

Debbie Bliss Magazine shows some of her latest designs with a selection of patterns from her yarn ranges.

Talking of Cloth Paper Scissors, their new publication is a retrospective of some of the best articles and projects from its first six years. This has some great ideas, many of which can be transferred to both paper and textiles.
Block printing: Techniques for Linoleum and Wood, shows the basic ideas for using these age-old techniques, and the good news is that I am now stocking brayers, soft sculpt lino and, as soon as they come in, lino cutting tools.

These will all be on my website soon, but I only keep a few copies of the books in stock, and some the magazines sell out very quickly, so don't hang around too long!


Saturday, 1 October 2011

Busy Weekend at Barleylands

I've been looking forward to this weekend. The Craft Village is hosting a special Open Weekend with crafters and artists holding taster sessions and demonstrations throughout the weekend.

I will be demonstrating several techniques including metal embossing, Friendly Plastic and hand embroidery on Saturday moving on to include machine wrapped cords and surprise techniques on Sunday.

Drop in and you can have a go too. You can make a metal embossed card or learn a new embroidery stitch with me and also visit some of my colleagues to see and have a taster with them.

See you there!


Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Pure Jeanius

This is the second panel for the Pure Jeanius event. This was a lot quicker to construct than the first: I've selected interesting portions of jeans and collaged (is that a word?) them together. The panels will be on display this weekend at the Eastgate Shopping Centre during this special event. Find out more here.

Voting has started for the Crafts Beautiful Awards. Craft Arena has been nominated in the Independent Store South East category. If you feel I deserve it, please vote for me here. You do have to plough through the other categories to find me, but I'm there somewhere!

I appear to have lost most of the pictures from past blogs. Apparently it's something to do with Google +. I'll put them back over time, but if you come across a post with a missing picture you would like to see, do let me know and I'll  put it back for you as soon as I can.


Monday, 19 September 2011

Material Girls: Primary Colour

I'm at the studio today for two reasons: The Material Girls have been putting up their exhibition 'Primary Colour' which opens tomorrow and I've got to finish off a couple of pieces that I'm making for Eastgate Shopping Centre that have to be delivered later this week.

Primary Colour features some of the work that The Material Girls exhibited in Jersey earlier in the year, together with some new work. The exhibition is on until Sunday 2nd October, so do come and take a look.

I have been commissioned to construct four pieces for a denim event ' Pure Jeanius' taking place at the Eastgate Shopping Centre in Basildon next weekend. Two of the pieces are being tackled by Kay Renwick and Sue Langley, and I'm doing the other two. This is the first of mine to be finished. These are the largest pieces I've ever worked on, being 40 by 50 inches, and have been a bit outside my comfort zone, but I'm quite happy with them, considering I only had 8 weeks to put them all together! At least I now know I can work to a tight timescale! Unfortunately, I'm away for the weekend with Kay, so we won't be able to see them in situ. If you happen to be in Basildon at the weekend, do let me know how they look.


Thursday, 15 September 2011

New Books

Layered Textiles: New Surfaces with Heat Tools, Machine and Hand Stitch by Kim Thittichai has just arrived. I've been waiting for this for ages so I'm going to take a break, have a coffee and indulge myself for half an hour. From a quick look-through, this is a great ideas book with wonderful illustrations to inspire you.

Also in is Colour in Art Quilts by Janet Twinn. This beautiful book is for quilters who want a deeper understanding of how to use colour in their work. It has practical exercises and inspiring examples.

Both these books incidentally, have lovely strokable covers!

I've been waiting for some of the A-Z Embroidery series for some time and these arrived today too. 


Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Cakes for Gina

Here are the cakes I've been knitting and crocheting for Gina's Pink Friday. I'm not an expert knitter, but I did enjoy making them. The doughnut was from the 20 to Make 'Knitted Cakes' book, and the birthday cake from 'Gormet Crochet', both of which I have in stock.


Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Material Girls

As part of The Material Girls exhibition which starts at Craft Arena on 20th September, Diane Kelsey will be holding a workshop at Craft Arena making this great seaside inspired heart using simple stitching techniques. Places are limited, so if you would like to join us let me know. 

The workshop is at the very special price of £25 per person and will be held on Wednesday 28th September 2011 from 10.30 to 4pm. All materials are included in the cost of the workshop. Bookings are being taken now, contact me to confirm your place.


Sunday, 4 September 2011

First attempts

This is my birthday present and my first attempt at spinning and plying wool. For those of you who are expert, I must just say that I want to make slubby uneven yarn to put into my textile work. This one incorporates a little Angelina fibre together with two shades of Craftynotions Merino Wool Tops. I'm quite pleased with the end result. You are supposed to hank and wash the yarn after you have plyed it, but I'm not sure I have the patience for that - too impatient to stitch with it!
I'm hoping to find someone to hold some spinning classes in the studio.  Let me know if you are interested, or if you know any good tutors who might be interested in teaching here.


Friday, 2 September 2011

Draw Winner and a new magazine

Maryanne at One Stop Pamper Shop just did the draw for me.

And the winner is....... *drum roll*.....


Congratulations. Your prize is waiting for you under my counter.

I'll be holding another draw later in the month to give those who didn't win another chance.

I've just got a new magazine in stock. Mollie Makes is a great little magazine which features crochet, sewing, knitting and other crafts. This month there is are all the materials you need to make a sweet little MP3 case. I know it has been very popular since it was first published earlier this year and I'm delighted to be stocking it. Do come in and take a look.


Wednesday, 31 August 2011

New Goodies!

This year's issue of Quilting Arts Gifts Magazine arrived today. It has over 20 seasonal projects and lots of creative ideas for stich, fabric collage, photos, stamping and embellishing. This is always a great magazine for Christmas gift inspiration.

I had some exciting news the other day which I've been dying to share. Craft Arena has been nominated in the Independant Store category of the Crafts Beautiful 2011 Craft Awards! Thank you so much if you voted for me. I'll let you know when voting for the final choice begins - I think it is some time in September.

I've finally received the novelty scarf yarn I'd been waiting for. It is called Tonia, and is a ribbon yarn with large holes which when knitted turns into a lovely wavy scarf. Each ball knits about 1½ metres and costs just £6.99. It comes in the lovely aqua/blue you see here, brown/cream, grey/white and fuschia and you receive a pattern with each ball. 

I've also received gauge 10 and 20 crochet cotton in white, which I know lots of people have been waiting for.

I'm off on Thursday as it's my birthday. I'm picking up a new car (my present to me) and hopefully playing with my new toy from Ray - a spinning wheel! Can't wait to create loads of textured yarns to use in my textile work.  If anyone would be interested in attending a spinning workshop, do let me know and I'll see what I can do.


Friday, 26 August 2011

Knitting Needles at last! Free Draw!

I finally received my shipment of bamboo knitting needles today and I'm really pleased with them. I've asked some of my customers to trial these for me and they've come back with some really good reports. They are made using Bamboo which is a renewable resource, warmer on the hands than metal and therefore better, I'm told, for those with dexterity problems e.g. arthritis. They also have the needle size on the needle shaft so you won't get them muddled up.

The straight needles come in sizes 2.00mm to 12.00mm. I also have double pointed needles in the same size range. The smaller double pointed sizes have 6 needles per pack and the larger ones 5 per pack.

I also have bamboo crochet hooks in sizes 3.00mm to 12.00mm.

To celebrate the arrival of these needles, I'm giving some away in a free draw. To enter the draw you just need to comment on this blog post (below). If you follow the blog with Google Friend Connect you will receive an extra entry. The draw will take place on 2nd September (it would be 1st but I'm not around that day as it's my birthday!).

The winner of the draw will receive a set of 10.00mm, 7.00mm and a set of fixed circular needles size 2.00mm I will also pop in a surprise extra or two. I don't yet stock the circular needles, so it would be great if the winner would let me know how they get on with them.

I'm sure you will love knitting and crocheting with this brand. I've been delighted with the customer service I have received from KnitStar. Thank you Mr Kumar! You can see their full range here. Do let me know if you would like me to stock more of their range.

The KnitStar knitting needle range will be for sale on the Craft Arena website soon, but if you can't wait to try them, just contact me and I'll pop them in the post for you.