Monday, 9 September 2013

All may have been quiet on my blog lately...

...but I certainly haven't been. I've kept to my word and I've been remarkably crafty over the summer - in between house-hunting, various trips in an attempt to source fabric, oh, and two holidays! (both camping in the UK I might add-I'm not THAT well off!)

I'm still using the surplus yarn I have left-over from making Christmas presents for friends and family last December, although I only have enough left for one more snood now.

Variegated olive green/brown unisex snood, 100% acrylic
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick
Variegated pink/purple snood, 100% acrylic
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

I'm trying to decide what I might do with the odds and ends I have left over - not enough to do much with, but they're a bit scrummy!

Odds and ends - yarn leftovers
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

I'm contemplating having a go at a patchwork blanket-if there's enough!

What with struggling to source fabric for my latest range of bags, summer has been about using up odds and ends of from my fabric stash, and so I've made a few limited edition handbags / evening bags with some remnants I was given...

Limited edition handbag
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick
Limited edition handbag/evening bag
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick
Limited edition, one-off handbag / evening bag
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

That's not to mention metres of beautiful fabric, all the way from Dubai, reluctantly donated by a friend having a clear-out, who received it as a present, but never had the time to use it as intended. So as her birthday was coming up, I made a small amount of it into an evening bag as a gift - which she was overjoyed with!

Limited edition, one-off evening bag
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

And that's not the last you'll be seeing of that fabric... so watch this space!

I haven't solely been crafting for Kefluti over the summer either! I've been pushing myself to draw more / keep a sketchbook/visual journal. In an attempt to find a way of working that best suits me when out and about, I pulled apart a sketchbook and had fun splashing colour onto the loose pages using watered down acrylic, keeoing what was then my up-and-coming holiday to St Ives, Cornwall in mind.

Colour-washed sketchbook pages
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

However, when on location, I found my inability to make a quick decision with relation to on which colour-washed page to draw, held me back!

Although I am rather pleased with my sketch of St Michael's Mount...

Sketch of St Michael's Mount on a pre-colour-washed background
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

I think my next approach will be to add colour to my pages on location, using koh-i-nor and basic shapes on which I'll draw with permanent ink. I had thought I might find the opportunity during my holiday in Scotland to test this method, however, since the weather was a mixed bag, I didn't really have the inclination.

However, I did put pen to paper in Edinburgh with relative success I think you'll agree, inspired by  few hours spent at what was quite possibly the best craft market I've even been to, held in St John's churchyard on Princes Street as part of Edinburgh's Fringe Festival.

Sketch of view from Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh, looking towards the Royal Mile.
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

Besides all of this, I'm pleased to tell you that I've won a second giveaway from Craftseller magazine, (that's two in just over 6 months!) of two tickets to this week's ICHF Events' Creative Stitches and Hobbycrafts shows at Manchester's Event City!

Looking ahead, I've ordered some purse clasps for a bit of an experiment and I'm in for a busy (yet enjoyable) few weeks of making shoulder bags, handbags and snoods for Kefluti's official launch mid-late October - in time for Christmas! (Now that I've finally sourced the fabric I was after).

NEW chenile fabric for latest shoulder bag / handbag collection
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

With that in mind, I'll try to pop in a little more often with updates regarding my progress - so keep checking back. Don't forget, you can also follow my goings-on on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram should you wish.

Thanks for dropping by...

Abby x

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Festival of Quilts 2013

We (my Mum and I) only just made it to Festival of Quilts this year... as I was on holiday in beautiful Cornwall until the penultimate day of the show. I'm so glad we didn't miss out though, as I find shows such as this and The Knitting and Stitching Show are such great sources of motivation, not to mention a good opportunity to stock up on materials!

I won't make this post too wordy, cuz if you're anything like me, then you prefer the visuals... so here are my highlights of the work on show at Festival of Quilts 2013...

Once upon a spoon - Sue Bibby (left) (close-up - right)
Art Quilts Category

Sue Bibby's 'Once upon a spoon', fondly reminds me of the type of work we were encouraged to produce during my Foundation Diploma in Art and Design - a way of working/style that I'd personally like to revisit.

(Please excuse some of the poor photography-I took these photos on my iPhone, rather hurriedly in some cases-I'll take more care next time!)

A slight murmur of starlings - Janie Harvey-Douglas
Pictorial Quilts Category (Highly Commended & Judges Choice)

Flowerpecker - Stephanie Redfern
Contemporary Quilts Category

Flowerpecker - Stephanie Redfern (close-up)
Contemporary Quilts Category

I've seen Stephanie Redfern's work on show in previous exhibitions-it captures quite an audience. She works both in textiles and mixed media, "paint[ing] and print[ing her] fabrics using a variety of media, and construct[ing her] work using collage and stitch" creating books and hangings, amongst other things. (

Whatever you say I am - Nina Lise Moen (left) (close-up - right)
Contemporary Quilts Category (Highly Commended & Judges Choice)

I like this method of creating shapes/figures from overlapping, semi-transparent 'blocks' of colour!

You may remember I saw Susan Chapman and her work back in March, at ICHF Event’s Sewing for Pleasure / Embroidery, Fashion & Stitch / Hobbycraft, and posted about how she was encouraging passers-by to sign their name onto a piece of plain white cotton, for use in a piece of collaborative work? Well here it is! (some of it anyway). There's my signature-on the waistline of the right-hand figure!!!

Susan Chapman
Susan Chapman and Terrie Hitchcock: Evidence of bodies

It's such a shame that the lighting at these exhibitions isn't better, I know that some of the artists really struggle... and it makes taking a decent photo near-on impossible.

Susan Chapman
Susan Chapman and Terrie Hitchcock: Evidence of bodies

I love the simplicity of some of Susan's work, especially in these pieces-'The written word', where handwriting is overlapped; 'Fingerprints' and 'Making your mark', self-explanatory.

Terrie Hitchcock
Susan Chapman and Terrie Hitchcock: Evidence of bodies

Any colour you like - Bethan Ash
Through our hands curated by Annabel Rainbow and Laura Kemshall

I'm a great fan of colour, so this piece(s) by Bethan Ash satisfied me immensely! I love the movement within her work-all created using fabric.

Botallack Mine - Elizabeth Barton
Through our hands curated by Annabel Rainbow and Laura Kemshall

Der dah whoosh - Linda Onions
In the spotlight Exhibition

Der dah whoosh - Linda Onions (close-up)
In the spotlight Exhibition

A great use of 'the vanishing point' in Linda Onion's 'Der Dah Whoosh'-really effective don't you think?! I love the texture achieved by in the actual print and the way Linda has enhanced this with simple hand stitch.

What's your line - Fiona Macaulay Davies
In the Spotlight Exhibition

'What's your line' by Fiona Macaulay Davies takes me back to when I studied graphic design and demonstrates and excellent collaboration of specialisms.

Shoreline - Christine Restall
The Quilters Guild, Contemporary Quilts Group, Horizons 2013 Exhibition

New Horizons - Ann Louise Williams (left) (close-up - right)
The Quilters Guild, Contemporary Quilts Group, Horizons 2013 Exhibition

 Thanks for dropping by,

Abby :-)

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Summer is finally here...

(although I hope I haven't jinxed it by saying that!) what with the sunshine and the talent displayed on Facebook lately, I am feeling both energised and inspired. So much so, that I've undertaken in some rather self indulgent crafts in order to get me working again, by way of a little dress-making and some art-journaling.

I've wanted a 'Cloth Kit' for some time, having visited their stand at The Knitting and Stitching Show on a number of occasions, admiring their ready-made clothes. I couldn't believe my luck when I found their 'Big Birdie Skirt Kit' in Hobbycraft's January sale! (yes, I know... but I've only just found the time!).

I quite fancy trying my hand at making a summer dress, using some fabric that I hand-dyed the other year, but thought this 'Cloth Kit' was a better starting point, since I'd never made an item of clothing before.

Cloth Kits - 'Big Birdie Skirt Kit'
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

The kit came with everything you need to make the skirt, including thread! The pattern was ready-printed onto the fabric, all I had to do was cut it to size (size 8-18 marked out). It also contained step-by-step instructions that were really easy to follow.

Cloth Kits - 'Big Birdie Skirt Kit'
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

I had to redo one or two stages along the way-but I feel it went quite well considering. I'm much more confident about having a go at making my summer dress now!

I love the idea of keeping a sketchbook/journal and adore looking through those of others, but I'm rubbish at both. I read back over the drivel I wrote in my journal and cringe; I struggle to find the time/lack confidence/lose interest in keeping a sketchbook. So when I read about Dina Wakley's 'Graffiti of my life' online art journaling course in Roben Marie Smith's blog, I had to have a go!

Dina guides you through her process for creating an art-journal from preparing the pages with colour, stencilling, collage (with both paper and fabric), composition and book-binding. She provides both written/ illustrated instructions and video tutorials - the best thing is, that once purchased and downloaded, you can work through the course at your own pace... So I managed to encourage my Mum to have a go with me and three years later (it shouldn't actually take this long-rather a few days/weeks depending on how much free time you have) I'm almost finished.

'Graffiti of my life' art-journal
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

I really enjoy foreign travel and would like to create art-journals containing sketches, photographs and collected ephemera such as tickets and receipts for each of the destinations I've visited. I can see such potential in the techniques I've leant from Dina's art-journaling course, to now enable me to do this. In fact, I'm pretty sure it'll completely change the way I work, now that I am able to break away from a sketchbook and bind loose sheets myself.

I've made a real effort to keep up with and share the goings-on on all social media platforms this past few weeks-and it's done me the world of good... I have a renewed passion for my craft and for getting Kefluti up and running. Although we're still house-hunting, I'm hoping to have Kefluti's Folksy Store open in time for Christmas! So keep checking back to read about my progress. You can also keep up to date with what I'm up to via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

Thanks for stopping by...


Friday, 5 July 2013

Change of plan...

Keflüti's folksy store opening, which was due to take place this month (July), will sadly be postponed until further notice... 
for T and I are moving in together!!! :)

The past few weeks have been occupied with finding a location we like, (closer to where T works), and house-hunting, hence no blog posts and few Facebook/Twitter updates. We are now back in the throws of house-hunting again, after the purchase of our preferred property fell through earlier this week :(

Since T is also a graphic designer and a budding photographer, our number one requirement of a property, is a studio space which hopefully, once we're settled, will allow me to be much more productive (since I currently work between the dining room table and the sofa!!)

What with all that has been going on, plus work being much busier than usual, I have inevitably been suffering from creative block. However, with a constant need for greetings cards, and my subscription to Craftseller magazine enthusing me by providing copyright-free papers and card designs, (amongst many other things), I'm enjoying a new found, stress-busting yet creative activity...

Birthday card created using Craftseller Magazine's July 2013/Issue 25
copyright-free paper collection

Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

Father's Day card created using Craftseller Magazine's June 2013/Issue 24
copyright-free paper collection

Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

In addition to this, I have completed a third patch for NFU Countryside's Knitting Project...

A third patch for NFU Countryside's Knitting Project
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick
developed from patch number two...

A second patch for NFU Countryside's Knitting Project
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

which I'm quite proud of, since I had to work out how to extend the diamond pattern, this being the first time I've 'designed' a knitting pattern!

I can't promise to be any more productive both creatively or socially over the next few weeks than of late, for obvious reasons, but I am hoping to use any time I have, to build stock and design new products for the imminent launch of Keflüti's folksy store... I'll keep you posted...

Keep checking back both on here, Facebook and Twitter to see what I've been up to...

Many thanks for your continued support!

Abby :)

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

I'm excited to announce

that I have agreed to contribute to NFU Countryside's 'The Countryside Knitting Project'. In celebration of British Wool, NFU's resident wool merchant blogger Martin Curtis has provided us with the finest of 2 ply jumper yarn from Shetland, in an array of colours with which the contributors are knitting squares in order to construct a patchwork blanket.

British wool from Shetland
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

Anyone can take part, (T is even having a go!), including the most inexperienced of knitters, as this is an excellent project to get you started. I'll be using 'The Countryside Knitting Project' as the perfect excuse to trial some new stitches, as a patchwork square is an ideal size. So, if you fancy getting involved, visit 'The Countryside Knitting Project's' blog, fill in the online form (at the bottom of the page) and get your needles at the ready!

Patchwork square in progress, knitted in Moss Stitch for 'The Countryside Knitting Project'
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

You can keep up to date with my progress on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram and see the work of the other contributors via 'The Countryside Knitting Project's' blog, Facebook page and/or their Twitter page.

Besides knitting, the day job has been manic lately, so I'm taking a well-deserved day on Thursday, as I'm itching to visit local craft workshop and exhibition space: 'Unit Twelve', to see the 'Traditional Twisted' exhibition before it ends on Saturday - I cannot wait! If you've not seen it yet, then get yourself down there between Thursday 23rd and Saturday 25th May 2013, 10am-4pm.

Thanks for dropping by...

Abby x

Friday, 3 May 2013

It's been a quiet few weeks...

what with my having been unwell, therefore, there's not a great deal to report on.

Production on the bag front is a little slower than I'd like it to be at the moment, as work (supply teaching) has been busy and I spend my weekend's with T, (as he lives 30 miles away) so spare time is at an all-time low... but, hopefully that's about to change ;-)

Although, I have managed to spend a little time working those gorgeous remnants from Hole in the Wall fabric store in Walsall, into Shoulder Bags... the interior pockets are sewn in and the embellishments on the exterior aren't far off, so construction will shortly commence!

Snood in plum
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

What's more, I've finished knitting another snood!

Those of you who follow me on Facebook and/or Twitter, will have seen that I've been partaking in a little market research of late, to help determine a colour palette for next season's/my launch range.

Response was disappointingly slow to begin with, but encouraging my friends and family to join in helped. Upon talking to them, I realised I should have considered my wording a little more carefully, as the term 'tote' was proving a little ambiguous and to mention 'autumn' before spring has properly sprung, was rather off-putting... therefore 'Totes' will now be referred to as 'Shoulder Bags' and the 'A' word will no longer be mentioned!

Facebook Poll Results
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

Regardless, the poll is taking shape and decisions about my colour palette have been aided... so watch this space. Thank you to all who voted... although there's still time if you haven't...

Thanks for dropping by... have a great week!

Abby :)

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

As Promised...

Sorry, this post is a little later than intended and possibly not up to my usual standard, as I’ve been suffering with a cold-virus-thingy that has really taken it out of me… I’ve not even had the energy to pick up my knitting! But here goes…

It’s been long awaited, but I think it’s finally safe to reveal the details of the secret commission I told you I’d been working on back in February, (gosh, was it really that long ago… I am sorry!).

A dear friend of mine, upon launching my Facebook page, asked if I was able to make a custom designed cushion, as a birthday gift for her Sister.

The brief was to make a 12-inch square, cream cushion, hand embroidered with the word ‘Sisters’, embellished through two red love hearts. 

Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

So I started out by doing some doodles.

This prompted my friend to detail her brief a little more…

Thumbnail Sketches
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

Which called for some thumbnail sketches to determine the kind of type and the positioning of hearts. (She chose ‘3’ and ‘B’)

Computer scale-drawing
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

Decisions made, I scaled the design up on the computer, giving me a guide for sizing and positioning and allowing me to use this typeface as basis for the decorative lettering.

Final Design
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

And with my design drawn up to size, I was ready to begin stitching…

Cushion front
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

Cushion back
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

Please note: at this point in time, I am not accepting commissions, for I am busy making stock for the launch of my Folksy shop in July 2013.

Keep up to date with my progress on Facebook and/or Twitter or to see more of my work, please visit my website.

Thanks for dropping by,



Tuesday, 16 April 2013

This last week (WC: 8.4.13)…

I’ve been conscious that July and therefore the planned launch of my folksy store, is fast approaching, so since it’s been the school holidays, I’ve put some quality time into crossing some items off of Keflüti’s ‘To-Do’ List’.

Despite colours for Autumn 2013 having been released in February, I still haven’t fully decided upon a palette for that season’s range… nor have I sourced my fabric, therefore I took some time out to visit a fabric store in Walsall: ‘Hole in theWall’, as recommended by T’s Mum.

Fabric remnants from ‘Hole in the Wall’, Walsall.
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

Before I even set foot in store, I found these gorgeous remnants displayed outside… I’m hopeful that there’s enough fabric here to create four large totes!

Inside they have a great long room dedicated to rolls of clearance upholstery fabric, plus an entire floor full of various weights besides – and that’s not to mention the rooms containing this season’s stock.

The following day, I took a trip to compare these fabrics, colours and prices with that of Birmingham’s fabric stores.

I hadn’t been to Barry’s Fabrics in Digbeth before – oh what a treat! They’ve got just about any fabric imaginable and at very reasonable prices! I’ll definitely be going there for my lining fabrics… they’ve got everything from plain to patterns incorporating dots/stripes, flowers, or even campervans, in every weight/colour imaginable.

Lining fabric from ‘Barry’s Fabrics’, Birmingham
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

I must have been in there for over an hour, but I did come away with these beauties, which will go brilliantly with the upholstery fabric I bought from Walsall!

I still remain undecided about my Autumn palette, but I am closer to decided on fabrics and where to buy them.

Fabric remnants from a private supplier, lining from 'Abakhan', Manchester
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

This last week, I also took some time to experiment with some remnants I acquired from a private supplier of mine (a friend of a relative).

I’d had these pieces ear-marked for some time, but when I began work, the task in hand wasn’t quite as easy as I’d thought, due to the large pattern repeat. I’m used to working with plain fabrics, therefore I’d reckoned I’d achieve two large totes out of each of these offcuts, however the pattern on the fabric meant otherwise. It turned out I was trialing small totes earlier than I’d anticipated and I’ll actually only achieve one per piece.

Small tote
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

After many an hour deliberating, I think you’ll agree that this small patterned tote turned out nicely.

What’s more, I’ve started to knit again, after a four-month break. (Knitting 15 snoods at Christmas rather took it out of me!) I’m over half way through a gorgeous plum-coloured snood (similar shades to the tote above) and loving it!

Finally, it’s become apparent that it suits me better to blog over a weekend/Monday, whilst I’m at T’s and void of a sewing machine, rather than mid-week… so that’s my plan, we’ll see how it goes…

I think that’s all from me for now, thanks for dropping by – have a great week!


Monday, 8 April 2013

There’s something for everyone…

at The Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, UK. Don’t let the word Museum put you off either, (as it would me - usually), this no normal museum! Pitt Rivers contains the oddest assortment of objects, arranged in the most random of collections. Downstairs alone, for instance, you have ‘nose flutes’ and ‘treatment of dead enemies’ (for which Pitt Rivers is well known re: shrunken heads) just cabinets away from one-another. It’s absolutely fascinating… definitely worth a visit!!!

Bags and Pouches Collection, The Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, UK.
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

I was pleasantly surprised to find (though I’m not sure why!) on the first floor, a cabinet containing ‘bags and pouches’. They’re not really arranged in any particular order regarding dates or founding locations, as is the case throughout the museum, therefore, you just take it as it comes.

And this is somewhat the case with my photographs too. I’ve tended to capture anything that either inspires me, or that I feel is a little bit clever. Please excuse the quality of some of the photographs; everything is displayed in glass cabinets, in low-lit rooms…

Oceania Melanesia, Solomon Islands, The Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, UK
String-work bag of round section with two carrying loops. 
 Probably collected by Robert Henry Codrington, donated by him in 1916
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

This bag caught my eye because it’s the same shape as the totes I currently make; yet is dated pre 1916!

Oceania Micronesia, Kiribati, Tarawa (top), The Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, UK.
Rectangular bag with narrow carrying strap, woven from very pale undyed, and dark brown dyed, narrow palm leaf strips. 'Kiribati' is woven in capital letters on the flap.
Collected by Rachel Robinson in 1999 and donated by her in 2004.

Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

It intrigues me how this bag and purse are made from strips of leaf, which are in some cases dyed. I presume palm leaves are reasonably strong, else surely they’d have disintegrated when worked?! It’s incredible how people utilize what they’ve got, especially in terms of mixing dyes from plants and berries etc.

Middle America, Tobago (right), The Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, UK.
Bag plaited from matchboxes encased in plastic. Base is lined with a piece of old calendar. Handles of machine-made round braid. This bag was purchased in Tobago in 1999 but such bags have been made in Trinidad and Tobago since at least the 1940s, though encasing them in plastic is a more recent development. Collected for the Museum by Lorraine Rostant in 1999.

Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

Plaited matchboxes resemble the kind of thing I might have done either in school or at home, as a child and it’s for this reason I took this photograph - I’m really quite fond of this idea. What’s more it’s recycled art, which has a use… fantastic!

Asia, North-East India or Myanmar (Burma); Khamti, The Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, UK.
Textile bag with cotton warp and silk weft, completely covered in fine multicoloured brocading in cotton, silk and wool. Geometric and figurative designs, including birds. The strap is a square-sectioned braid of coloured cotton yarn, tasselled at the ends. The bag is lined with brown cotton trade cloth.
Collected by Robert Niel Reid in 1937; donated by him in 1955.
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

This is a beautifully crafted bag, of an ideal size and shape. I was particularly drawn to it, for both the construction and the fixing of the handle, as I’m always on the lookout for new ideas…

Europe, UK, The Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, UK.
Pouch made of cotton and silk.
Probably made in England in the nineteenth century.
Donated by Charis E. F. Thomas in 1940.
Photograph originally uploaded by Abby Swanwick

Finally, the label to this pouch tickles me… ‘Probably made in England’ - it’s this kind of honest uncertainty that you see throughout Pitt Rivers – frustrating to the historian, but quite endearing to me, who rarely reads a label, rather enjoying an object for what it is/appears.

Well that was my ‘something’ (re: the title of this post), what will yours be?!

Thanks for dropping by…