December 24, 2011

I'd like to dedicate this post to...

my Mum!

She's having an upside down christmas this year having just moved house (during which, just about everything that could go wrong, did go wrong), and is still in the process of making the new house habitable.  One of the positive sides to her downsizing, is that certain things have been passed on to me during the clear out.  Things that remind me of my childhood, and that actually my keen interest in making things, has quite clearly come from her.

When my mum was a child, she knitted clothing for her dolls.  I remember playing with all of these when I was little.  I thought they were the most precious things in the world.  And now they've been passed on to me.

They are even more precious now, and I'm reluctant to let my children play with them as I worry about causing damage, but today as I was photographing them for this post, it did occur to me that, yes they are precious, but not as precious as their creator.

my Mum!

Merry Christmas, see you in 2012!

December 19, 2011

Penguin pattern,

Coming soon, a brand new Softie pattern for this whole family of Penguins...

where and when, will be revealed after christmas!

December 16, 2011


As with last christmas, it seems my last Softie of the year is once again Mr Fox...

This one is a commission and is now going to get packaged up and go off to wrestle with Royal Mail.  

Good luck Mr Fox!

December 13, 2011

'Countryside Softies' christmas offer,

As it's christmas, I have 6 5 4 3 signed copies of 'Countryside Softies' on offer at the special price of $12.50 (that's about £8, cheaper than Amazon!).  This offer will run until Friday 16th December, once they are gone, they are gone!

December 9, 2011

more nice things...

I love Pinterest.  It's the kind of website I'd like to climb into and live.  It's just so full of nice things.  Here are some of the best I've stumbled upon lately,

chore magnets (I'd need them in UK pounds though!)

perhaps a tooth fairy letter? (good grief I wish I'd known about this last week when at 1am I found a questionaire under Luke's pillow for the tooth fairy when he lost his first tooth!)  Actually, I've just bought this set for him for christmas, he has a thing about giving me notes on tiny pieces of paper.

Yum, can't find a direct link to this recipe, what are they?, muffins with the middle scooped out maybe?

more yum, lasagne cups,

and I think I may just be in heaven, creme brulee fudge.  That's a sugar thermometer going on my christmas list then!

December 8, 2011

nice things...

A couple of things turned up this week, nice things!
First, I'd written an article for Craft Focus magazine which I'd completely forgotten about, so was pleasantly surprised to find the double page spread inside, 

you can download a copy of the latest issue (number 28) from their website here.  I'm on page 98 chatting about making the transition from working as an in-house designer to going freelance.

And the other bit of news is Channel 4 have added a section to their 4 Homes website listing their favorite UK craft blogs, and they listed Lucykate Crafts...!!

November 30, 2011

'Make Hey' and other things...

There are a few, what I call 'core craft bloggers' who I find truly inspirational in a 'I don't know how they do it' kind of a way, and Pip Lincolne is most definitely one of those people.  I was lucky enough to have been offered the chance to interview Pip via the publisher, Hardie Grant about her latest book, 'Make Hey -  while the sun shines'

You are on your third, or is it fourth?!, book now (congratulations!), have you found the whole process easier or more of a challenge with each book?

That's such a good question!  Every book is so different!  They are kind of like my children, in a way... I have a lot of input into who they are, and I spend a lot of time with them, yet there's a whole lot of other people who help shape them... and they turn out just the way they should!  I've loved working on Make Hey! with my dear friend Michelle Mackintosh (the book's designer) and my favourite editor, Jane Winning.  It was so much fun to pull it all together and combine everyone's vision into one lovely book!


I love the layout and graphic design in the books, how much input did you have into the design?  

I have a teensy bit of input, because I really super-trust our designer and my publishing team to make educated choices based on their experience.  I helped to style a lot of the shots, a lot of the props are mine, but in the end Michelle Mack is so great at her job that I don't really need to be second guessing her.  We are a dream team! 

How much research do you do to maintain originality with the projects now that there are so many craft books coming out right now?  

I don't do any research at all!  The internet is such a melting pot of creativity and shared consciousness... I don't want to be swayed by anyone else's work!  I am, however, influenced by  illustrators like Charley Harper and Anna Maria Dahlgren.... and by my own 70s childhood.  I'm also influenced by my own neighborhood, art, fashion and architecture.  All that combines with practical ideas about the kind of things I want to make, and forms the basis of the books!  I don't pay any attention to what other people in the craft world are doing, because I want to fly my own flag.

With all the changes at "Meet me at Mikes', blogging, writing books and now pod-casting, between all that do you find time to sleep?!   

I really do sleep! I try not to stay up late. I get up early. I eat really healthy food and I make time to do happy things every day.  I am really careful to be mindful of having nice times and being the best I can be! I'm such a geek like that!


What would you be doing if you weren't crafting?, is there a career path that was 'almost, but not quite'?  

I always wanted to write and be published. I have always wanted to talk to people and make a difference to their day... make things nicer for them, too!  I will always find a way to do that, whether it's via craft or food... or other lifestyle tips.  Nice times are paramount!

Thanks to Pip for the crafty chat.  I hope that, even with these days so much being available online, you would still consider buying a craft book.  Books will never totally go out of fashion, and I'm amazed by how many homes I go to nowadays where there are no books to be seen.  We have book shelves in every room in our house, including many from when both myself and Al were kids.  I don't trust people who don't own any books!

'Make Hey - while the sun shines' by Pip Lincolne, (isbn-10 : 1742701310 isbn-13 : 978-1742701318)

November 25, 2011


As mentioned a few weeks back, I have a few pieces to go on Etsy later today, all themed white (or there abouts!)...

the (finally finished) cat,

a swan, and this little guy...

a miniature owl, which is actually a brooch.

(edited to add :: they are in the Etsy shop now)

Also coming next is, I was lucky enough to get to interview Pip about her new book, so look out for that crafty chat on Monday.

November 8, 2011

'this took forever to make'

Every year at about this time I post on this subject, as many crafters prepare to while away the hours hand making christmas gifts.  In the past, I've made gifts.  Nowadays, I'm very careful who I will, and will not, get my needle and thread out for and ask that you also do the same.

These labels made me chuckle! 

Ideal for the ignorant and the uneducated.  Who know the price of everything but the value of nothing.  Who dismiss the hours and hours a handmade gift takes by referring to it as "...all she can manage is a stuffed toy of some description she has made"

The labels are from here.

November 3, 2011


I have just had one of those oh. my. god. moments.  You know, when you see something and think how fab it is.  Need to tell someone, except the kids are asleep and the husband is not interested.

So, I'll tell you lot instead.  Just come across these while surfing Pinterest,

image Ⓒ The Workroom

A wooden pendant blank for decorating with cross stitch.  If you follow this blog regularly, you will know I started out in cross stitch design, so you'll know why these appealed to me.  Have ordered a couple, can't wait to try them out.

There are more shapes available from The Workroom, and take a look at the gallery on Flickr.

November 2, 2011


In the spirit of Halloween this week something really odd has happened.  A couple of years ago I visited the Selvedge stand at the Festival of Quilts and bought a Wren Handmade tiny crochet flower hair slide (or bobby pin).  It is my favorite hair slide, or at least it was until it went missing a couple of months ago.  Until today...

It was there.  On the bed.  I have no idea how it got there.  Am glad it's back though!

October 21, 2011

Whip Up...

I'm guest posting on Whip Up today with a new Softie pattern for this little Ladybird

so hop on over and grab the pattern and instructions for this teeny tiny little creature!

ps, don't forget about the giveaway, see below ↓↓↓

October 17, 2011

Giveaway time...

Last year I designed a project for the book 'Countdown Calendars'

It's a 'How long till school starts?' calendar with felt patches with pictures appliqued on them,

which flip over to count down the days either to starting school for the very first time or a brand new term.

The pattern and instructions to make one are included in the book, or...

you could leave a comment on this post to win mine!

I'll leave it open until next monday, ie Halloween to draw a winner.

October 13, 2011

I continued battle...

with the Softie that wouldn't work and finally won.

I'm now working on a little range for Etsy called 'White' which will be available in a couple of weeks time.

October 5, 2011

For a variety of reasons, I've been feeling a little disheartened with the UK crafts magazines recently, so was immensely cheered up to find a group of the Crafteroo forum member were getting together to put together a new online magazine...,

The magazine press release reads "Online forum Crafteroo is launching a brand new online magazine dedicated to all types of crafts. Run, written and edited entirely by forum members, who between them cover just about every craft you can think of, the new magazine will be digitally published quarterly, with the first issue due out on 1 October 2011.

Through a combination of features, tutorials, business articles and projects, as well as a swap shop for de-stashing and re-stashing, and illustrated with gorgeous photography throughout, it aims to engage with crafters new and old, share knowledge, encourage readers to try something new and expand the reach of the crafting revolution!

Comments Kerry Wilkinson, editor; “Recently we had a discussion about how we could perk up the forum as we have a solid visitor base but were looking to expand and engage with existing members. As I had a background in craft magazine editing, it seemed like the next logical step for us, and it’s really got everyone excited, we’re all working very hard on this to make it an excellent publication.”

All proceeds from sales and advertising will go towards the running and upkeep of the Crafteroo forum promotional activity and incentives for forum members. Readers are encouraged to join the community, share their makes and talk to the magazine creators and maybe even participate in the next issue themselves.

Get ready to be inspired, and try making something new!"

The first issue is only £1.50 ($2.30) which is an absolute bargain in my opinion, and is available from here.  Look out for issue 2 too as there will be a Lucykate Crafts pattern coming up in it.

ps, thank you for all the kind words after my last post.  I continued battle with the Softie and won, images to come next time!

September 27, 2011


Yet another Softie gone wrong...

I am stuck in a rut of not being happy with anything I've made over the last few weeks.

Please tell me it's not just me who goes through periods of nothing you make going right?!

September 1, 2011

A L L ways,

My birthday present has just arrived, late but I don't care, because I love it.

The inscription is A for Alastair, L for Lucy, and L for Luke, together they make 'All ways', had to change the spelling slightly to fit in with their initials, but you get the drift.

Bracelet is from E. Ria Designs via Etsy.

All I need now is someone to do the clasp up for me!

August 19, 2011

A tail of two rabbits,

It's the school holidays here in the UK, which also means I get very little time to work in between all the other parenting stuff.  The offshoot is there's very little to blog about, hence the quietness here!

Until the other day, I'd promised the kids a comic each, and during the hour (it felt like an hour!) it took them both to choose one, I went browsing amongst the sewing magazines and discovered...

Sew Hip, issue 32 - September 2011, has a pattern extracted from my book in it!  I knew there were a few projects placed by the publisher as features, but didn't know what, when or where.

It's the baby Rabbits that are featured, along with their personalised tails.

Although the dates still look odd to me being a Brit.  As the book publisher is American, the dates were stitched with the month first, followed by the day.

If you do buy the magazine and make a Rabbit, remember to join the Countryside Softies Flickr group and post what you've made.

July 28, 2011


You may remember a while ago I posted a sneaky peek of something I'd been designing.  That something is spoons.  After collecting some ideas together on Pinterest, I began working on the first pattern for bringing the idea in my head to life...

The first attempt didn't quite work.  I made it using two layers of felted wool, with darts to achieve the spoon shape, but the whole thing was a bit on the flat side.  The idea then began to develop towards the idea of welsh love spoons.

This one is a bit more like what I am trying to sculpt.  

It's still a bit of a work in progress design wise,

but as a project, it's certainly fulfilling the desire to move away from the cute animals are try something a bit different.  Only problem is, they are hard to photograph without it looking,

...a little bit phallic!

July 15, 2011

I look down, and I see...

a sucked in tummy clad in Orla Kiely!

This is my new Ebay purchase, an Orla dress and I love it!

I'm not as fond of all the Orla patterns as I am of the scribble design.  You may have noticed my blog background changed when I realised you can make the pattern in Photoshop.

It's a birthday present to myself, am 41 tomorrow, eeeeeek!

July 6, 2011

Very cross, cross stitch,

Apologies for the lack of posting this week.  The last few days have been a bit of a mixed bag.  Work wise I'm working on a really interesting freelance project involving cross stitch.  The flip side is that the word 'cross' has been very prevalent.  Don't wish to go into too much detail but Lucy was attacked in the playground at school on Monday by another pupil.  Hopefully the rest of the week will be a little calmer!

June 29, 2011


There have been a few of these giveaways popping up on the internet lately, and I'm really pleased to be part of the fun now as Moo have very kindly asked if my blog readers would be interested in some of their new sticker range.  Would you?

I've been a Moo user since I began blogging, in particular the mini cards which I use as business cards but also as swing tags for my Softies (punch a hole in one end and attach with string).

So what is the deal?  Moo are providing 50 of their new round stickers and also 50 of the rectangular stickers to 5 blog readers.

If you're a winner, you can upload your own images, or choose from a vast range of ready made artwork and templates and personalise them with your own details. Moo's unique printing technology, 'printfinity' allows you to place a different image or design on every sticker and there's a range of options to create custom sticky products including uploading company logos and photos to embellish your own products branding.

I'd be very surprised if you hadn't come across Moo before given they produce just about the best sticker books, business cards, postcards and greetings cards out there.

For a chance to win one of the 5 sets of 100 stickers (that's 50 of each new shape), just post a comment on this post saying what you would use them for.  The giveaway will close next Wednesday, 6th July at midnight (GMT).

I'm kind of hoping no-one enters, that way I can have all the freebies!

edited to add - there have been a few problems with leaving comments, so I've changed my comment settings whilst the giveaway is running, just please make sure you leave an email address so we can contact you if you win, thanks.

June 26, 2011

Cross stitch - a review of Mac based design software,

I've been thinking a lot lately about counted cross stitch.  This is the medium I cut my design teeth in, and over the last week or so I've had contact with my old work mates, which led to a bit of nostalgia.  Nowadays, I don't have any computer software to design cross stitch on, although it can be done quite easily just with graph paper and some coloured pencils, that's how my first few designs back in 1994 were completed.  But it's slow doing it that way, the design software we had was a revelation and sped the whole process up and opened up creativity, here's one of mine, and another, and another, there are many more I would not even admit too! 

Back then, I worked on a PC, and there were 2 main design packages used within the industry.  Stitchcraft, which is what we used and Ilsoft which, it seemed at the time, the rest of the world was using, although I don't know why because I personally found Stitchcraft to be the much better system.  It just seemed to make more sense as a design program.

But these are both PC based.  I now work on a Mac.  It seems there is a bit of a shortage of design software for counted cross stitch which is Mac compatible.  Now, I know you can use Photoshop to simulate cross stitch, basically scanning an image and altering the resolution so each pixel is one stitch and adding a grid, but I want to design from scratch rather than digitalise an existing design.  Finally I did find some Mac based software and spent a day fiddling around with demo versions, so here are my reviews of three...

STITCHES by Quixpace, €49.99 (£44.45/$71).  Nice layout, reminiscent of Photoshop as it has navigation boxes on the left, layers, magic wand tool etc.  You need to watch the videos on the website to understand what the toolboxes at the top of the screen do.  Does all the basics, symbolised chart, gives a rough guide to how much thread would be needed.  It did seem to work best when scanning in a photo and turning it into a cross stitch design.  The image can then be easily edited (colours, size of chart, aida count etc) although I could not find how to add backstitch, and it did not seem to cater for half stitches, french knots or any additional embellishment.  Also only had DMC thread colours, I am an Anchor girl.  In short, great for converting photos or any other image you want into cross stitch, but limited if designing from scratch.  Didn't do everything I would need it to do as a designer.


Next up is STITCHPAINTER by Cochenille $85 (£53) for the standard version, and $165 (£103) for the gold version.  This does more, and I would advise to go down the gold version route as that has additional plug-ins which offer most of the adaptability (eg, beadwork, tapestry design, DMC shade numbers, although again, it's just DMC, no Anchor).  Each plug-in costs in the region of $25 (£15), so price wise, it does add up, and as the plug-ins are not part of the demo version, what I could try out was limited.  The cross stitch design element is limited as again, I couldn't find how to add any backstitch, but this program does cater for knitting, crochet, long stitch, hardanger and as mentioned above, tapestry and bead weaving, so is a very versatile pattern design system.  It claims to do weaving too, although looking at the example, and given I have a BA Honours Degree in Weaving (showing off moment), what I saw didn't particularly resemble weaving as I know it.  In summary, I found it intriguing and would have liked to have tried it out more than the demo allowed.


Finally, MACSTITCH by Ursa Software, $60 (£33).  Out of the three I tried, this was the most similar to the Stitchcraft program I am used to.


And look, it even simulates cross stitch on screen.  This was very user friendly, the toolboxes across the top gave the ability to add half stitches, quarter stitches, backstitch (and adjust the thickness of the backstitch), even french knots and beads.  You can import an image and convert that straight to cross stitch or you can import it as an onion skin.  Now what is an onion skin?  I love this bit, it's just another word for adding layers (as in Photoshop), basically so you can place an image under the grid to use as a guide when designing.  This is exactly how I used to work at Coats and exactly what I would be looking for in a cross stitch design system.  It also caters for other threads and not just DMC, including Anchor (yay!), Appletons Wool, and Madeira.  It symbolises a chart and exports in a variety of formats, in short, it does most of what I'd be after as a designer.

If you're a Mac user and in the market for some cross stitch design software, I'd still say try the demo versions of all of these.  Different people need and want different things, what I've written here is just my own opinion, but I have been around the block and back when it comes to counted cross stitch.  

...Macstitch gets my vote.

More movies...,

Can you spot mine??

The book is out now.

June 24, 2011

June 21, 2011

Should have read the small print!

I'd been on the look out for some newsprint fabric.  Found some on Etsy but it was a full yard, so I went looking on Ebay and came across a fat quarter.  Fab, until when it arrived this morning and I spotted this amongst the lettering...,

not quite the statement I'm looking to make in my work!

June 16, 2011

Off on a tangent...

Well, while working on the new idea I gave you a sneaky peek of last week, another idea popped up, which kind of took over.  And here it is, a parcel pincushion.

The address says 'pins & needles, the sewing box',

...the only problem I had with the design was what to stuff it with.  Felted wool has a lot of give, which is great for the rounded shapes involved in making animals, but can be a bit of a problem when it comes to anything requiring hard, straight edges.  The only solution I came up with was to use foam, a block of seat pad foam cut down to size.  Any other ideas??

I kind of like how it's turned out.  Think I'll be making some more of these for Etsy asap!