An Interview With Barbara Lea Pottery

December 6th, 2013

This week I’m interviewing a lovely lady whose business is a real family affair and she makes the most exquisite figurines… If you’re looking for gift ideas that would be cherished, then take a peek at what this lady can do! Hi Barbara, welcome to the blog:20131206-131920.jpg

Hi I’m Barbara from Barbara Lea Pottery, based on the Fylde Coast. I make handcrafted figurines and gifts and am helped by my lovely family, husband Allan,  son Adam and daughter Clare.  

You started trading in 1989 and your beautiful unique and bespoke figurines are certainly very collectable. What made you start up your business? Have you always done that line of work?

That’s a good question!  My first career I trained for was a cook/baker, then I was a singer, but I have always loved art, painting,  photography etc… but it was only after I had my first child that I decided I needed an outlet and signed up at a local pottery evening course and loved it ! Although everyone there were making pots the tutor didn’t mind that I did my own thing and made figures.  I had a good reaction from family and friends so decided to jump in the deep end and invest in a kiln and trade fair! I never looked back. 

20131206-132011.jpgThe figurines are bespoke handmade pieces, so each is totally unique. What inspires each sculpture?

I have always been inspired by people’s attitudes and stances, there’s just something special about capturing a moment, whether it be in clay, paint or photography.  In my work I endeavour to capture the spirit of children and family.  Just observing my family and friends is all the motivation and inspiration I need, in fact each child range is named after a member of the family!

Your elegant collection of figurines include depictions of mother & child, brides/bridesmaids, father & son etc. What type of figurine seems to be the most popular?

As we can incorporate wedding colours and add names, dates etc..our wedding  range is the most popular, bridegrooms, bridesmaids and pageboys gifts, even the cutesy Bride and Groom customers sometimes buy for cake toppers! But a close second is the `Mother & Baby’.

20131206-131932.jpgI personally adore the Winter Ladies Collection – they are so cute! What’s your favourite figurine style?

This is a difficult one! Erm,  well I always love the latest design I’m working on at the time, probably because its fresh and I’m excited to see how the piece will be received, but I suppose the design I enjoy the most is the `Three Sisters’.

Each item is crafted in white earthenware, then painted in a cream glaze with touches of colour  - they look very intricate – how long does it take to produce a figurine?

Well each piece is different, I tend to start a few pieces at the same time,but from starting all pieces to completion is approx 10 days. After I have made them, it usually takes approx, 4 /5 days to dry out, then into the kiln to bake, when cool, glazed, then back into the kiln.  

20131206-132001.jpgHave you any plans to extend your range? 

Yes, I have a few new ranges that will be going on the website in the New Year. One is a little boy range called Lewis. Also a range called `Cherish You Angels’, I have had numerous commissions for angels over the past few years so have designed the new range, it has took me a while to get them just right, but I’m now happy with the range now.

Have you ever been asked to produce any unusual figurines?

Well I haven’t had that many unusual requests but I did have a commission from a rock band, who wanted themselves depicted in clay, that was fun!

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Well if you popped around for a brew, you would find me in Jeans and Jumper! I know, not very exciting, but when you are working with clay, you have to be practical and warm!!

20131206-131942.jpgDo you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Oh dear, well I have to admit I am a lazy shopper, I do a lot of online shopping, the sites I tend to use are `Very’ and `Next’.                                                                                                                                                                                                

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wishlist?

Well at the moment I have my eye on some blue DM’s , been hinting for a Christmas pressy, but if not,present to self!

Boots or Shoes?

Definitely boots! Love them and have many pairs. Plus love the fact I can wear high boots but never feel I’m teetering!!  

Links you would like to share eg website/Facebook/Twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Barbara Lea Pottery:    

                                                                                                                                                                                 www.barbaraleapottery.com .  

twitter barbaraleapottery . 

www.facebook.com/barbaraleapottery

www.etsy.com/shop/barbaraleapottery  

Thank you very much indeed for chatting to us Barbara, and I wish you continuing success in the future – you are one inspiring lady!

Linda x

Photo credits: The photos have been published with kind permission from Clare Peace.

One Arm In, One Arm Out!

December 5th, 2013

“You put one arm in, and leave one arm out…..” OK, not the exact words to Hokey Cokey, I know, but the subject of my blogpost tonight is ” Asymmetric ” dresses and tops! The topic of many a debate amongst my friends and I, you either love or hate the style – one friend declared that she couldn’t understand the point of having just one sleeve – it made her feel undressed! Personally, I feel that the style can look gorgeous, especially if you have a nice toned upper arm and shoulder.  For evenings, adding a touch of shimmer lotion or powder and a dab of perfume onto the exposed shoulder, can make all the difference. So, for that Christmas office party, New Year’s Ball, or looking ahead to Spring – have a look at these gorgeous asymmetrical outfits that I’ve spotted this week:

Emilio Pucci Printed Asymmetrical Jersey Dress  20131204-210347.jpg Sodamix BodyCon One Arm Dress20131204-210428.jpg Halston Heritage Safari Print One Shoulder Dress20131204-210406.jpg  Cut25 One Shoulder Colourblocked Dress20131204-210418.jpg Elie Tahari Sandrine Two Tone Shoulder Blouse20131204-210447.jpg Giambattista Valli One Shoulder Dress20131204-210439.jpg Marchesa Silk Embellished Navy One Shoulder Gown20131204-210525.jpg Parker Sheer Beaded One Shoulder Top20131204-210533.jpg Rachel Zoe Azur One Shoulder Jersey Maxi Dress20131204-210539.jpg Alexon Lace One Shoulder Maxi Dress20131204-210550.jpg Balmain One Shoulder Dress20131204-210557.jpg BCBGMAXAZRIA One Shoulder Ruffled Blouson Dress20131204-210609.jpg Adrianna Papell Beaded One Shoulder Gown20131204-210603.jpg TFNC One Shoulder Embellished Mini Dress20131204-210616.jpg Givenchy Ruffled One Shoulder Silk/Organza Top20131204-210622.jpg Mason By Michelle Mason One Shoulder Glam Dress20131204-210636.jpg Bebe One Shoulder Sweater Dress20131204-210628.jpg Yigal Azrouel One Shoulder Dress20131204-210644.jpg Blue Label One Shoulder Satin Dress20131204-210653.jpg Tibi Jasmine Jersey One Shoulder Dress20131204-224621.jpgAnd, for that perfect bra to wear underneath:

Helmut Lang Asymmetric Bra20131204-210358.jpg

Go on, show off that shoulder!

Linda x

Photo credits: Lyst

An Interview With Jaylen Grace

November 29th, 2013

Tonight I’m really pleased to welcome onto the blog the totally lovely Jaylen Grace, an International life coach, relationship counsellor and author of children’s and inspirational books. She’s also a bit of a foodie, a cat lover and a shoe addict!

20131129-193852.jpgHi Jaylen! Congratulations on being nominated for the Greenhouse Funny Writer Prize in 2012 for your children’s book, Omzak and Porridge, the Two Faced Parrot. Where did you get inspiration from to write your children’s adventure stories?

Thank you for congratulating me on being shortlist winner of Greenhouse Funny Writer Prize 2012.  It came as a lovely surprise because I have only been writing books for children for a relatively short time (Compared to my personal development/spiritual books).

You are deeply committed to helping children’s development and your debut book, Omzak The Space Cat Warrior, was written originally as a script for children to act out the characters. I still read to my younger boys and they love to read along as the characters, in fact, all my children loved reading and stories. Did you read stories to your daughter? What books did you share? Is she an avid reader now?

20131129-194208.jpgI am indeed deeply committed to helping children’s development and have coached many  children in my lifetime.   I believe that all kids have unique talents that can be overlooked, and I strive to bring these out – whilst giving them confidence and self belief – because at the end of the day, it’s confidence and self belief that makes the difference between ordinary and ‘extra’ordinary isn’t it?  I feel like you do, that reading to our kids and getting them to read is really important.  My daughter wasn’t fond of reading books, however, when she was young.  I did read all the most loved children’s books to her and by regularly telling her which books I was reading and what made them amazing, inspiring, touching, she slowly developed a love of books.  I gave her Perfume to read when she was about 14. This was what started her off.  Now, she can rattle off titles like the Kite Runner and Shadow of the Wind etc and rarely has a book out of her hands.

At the tender age of 23 you became PA to the Rolling Stones! That must have been some experience! I would’ve been totally awestruck – so, was it fun? Were the Rolling Stones your idolsat the time? 

Yes, what an amazing period of my life that was when I worked for the Rolling Stones. Everything was SO different then and to be honest, landing that job was a stroke of luck  (right time, right place).  I wasn’t that much into the Stones at the time – preferring soul and artists like Aretha Franklyn, Cat Stevens,  Stevie Wonder, The Doobie Brothers  (hopefully some of your readers will be old enough to remember them haha!).  The amazing thing was that after the Stones came under the WEA umbrella  (Warner, Atlantic,Electra) and set up Rolling Stones Records, all the big artists of the day, used to stop by the WEA offices  (They were in New Oxford Street).  I have to say the Stones were a great band to work for.  They had their demands like all divas/divos but were very generous to me.  A funny story your readers might find of interest is that the lyrics on the back of the Sticky Fingers album were written by me because Keith couldn’t recollect where he’d put the original lyric sheets.  I’m sure some of the words I wrote down don’t exist – but hey – I also don’t think anyone would notice!

20131129-190931.jpgWhat made you realise that you were yearning to explore life coaching? What impact did travelling to India make to your new career path? 

India made a great impact on my life.  After the Stones I was head-hunted to help run Warner International Music but told my new boss I could only work for him for one year because I wanted to follow a spiritual path and have a business in this field.  The yoga/personal development/life coach centre I opened in Athens in 1990 saw this dream come true.  As far as my entrepreneurial streak, I think I’ve always had that.  In my teens, I took over a food kiosk for a (little known) football team.  I got my younger brother involved and was going to give their football fans the best home-made burgers and snacks that had ever passed their lips.  This I managed but the team had so few people turning up for the matches, I had to give it up because I was losing money – however, few have ever trodden new ground without losing money and I have accepted that as part and parcel of life – along with the fact we can build successful businesses and lose them – as happened with my centre in Athens, when a storm destroyed the building!

20131129-193914.jpgNow back in London, you still teach but you spend most of your time doing your first love, writing. I find your blogposts very inspiring and uplifting. What life coaching subjects seem to be most popular amongst your followers?

Thank you for kind compliments regarding my blog posts. They are all based on rising to life’s challenges which could be what makes them popular. We all need encouragement to keep going don’t we?

What sort of book genre do you like reading? Favourite books or authors?

I’m a ‘here, there and everywhere’ reader.  I’m currently reading No Country For Old Men by Cormac McCarthy, The Dodger by Terry Pratchett and Various Flavours of Coffee by Anthony Capella. All three are excellent by the way.

20131129-191003.jpgAre there any new children’s books planned? Are you sticking to the same format or going to be trying something different?

I am currently working on Porridge book two.  This is called Porridge Goes to Summer Camp and will be published in November 2014.

You are such a busy bee, but your love of writing shines through! I hear you are a bit of an adrenaline fan – jumping out of planes, kayaking, etc and that you like to try and learn something new each year. So, what have you learnt in 2013 and what’s the plan of action for 2014?

I have given up jumping out of aeroplanes and bungee jumping for the moment. In 2013, I learned the Argentine Tango because it’s so delicious and I wanted to bring out my inner tiger.  In 2014 I am considering running a marathon – which will be another first.

20131129-194157.jpgJaylen Grace is a pseudonym – your real name is bit of a Greek tongue twister! will you reveal it to us, pretty please?!

My name is interesting on many counts.  Firstly, I write under two names.  Jaylen Grace for spiritual and children’s books and Stella Ralfini for the more adult content, ie  my next book Three Faces of Sex, which will be published in January 2014, is in short a lovemaking manual.  I studied Tantric lovemaking in the nineties and wanted to show lovers the benefits of integrating this ‘from the heart and soul’ lovemaking method easy , contemporary ways.  And before I carry on with the question about my names, I just want to say that whilst I’m an open minded person, I feel that porn is doing a lot of harm to our children and it’s time for a major overhaul on the way we view sex.  Look out for my next blog ‘Lets teach our children about real sex.’  …. So, I was born with the name Stiliani, Evripidis, Sotiris Raouna.  My father was from a simple Greek Cypriot village and since my mother was fairly old when she had me (in her forties) – and did go on to have my brother, which wasn’t expected -my father wanted to ensure, I at least would carry forth my grandfather’s name and his name, so two of my names are actually boys names – Evripidis, Sotiris.

20131129-190951.jpgPersonal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

 And here we are onto one of my favourite subjects. Fashion and shoes.  For a woman in her sixties, I dress in an avante garde manner.  I still wear high heels (but now take a pair of  flats because my feet kill me after a few hours!) and my style is fairly unusual. Regarding online sites, I think yours is brilliant and offers something for every taste.  My favourite shop is one you won’t know because it’s in Greece.  It’s called Rococo. Similar to Armani, heaps cheaper and they’re styles are the bees knees every season.

Boots or Shoes? 

I adore shoes. I look in shoe shop windows and salivate with the desire to own most.  I used to have 200 pairs of shoes but half were only worn a couple of times.  These days I alternate between about 20 pairs and find that more than enough.  I like boots as much as I like shoes – my favourite pair look like horse riding boots.   I’ve had them for 5 years and will definitely keep wearing them until they fall apart.20131129-194146.jpg

Links you would like to share eg website/Facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about you!

Thank you for suggesting I share links with your readers.  They can find out more about my work at www.jaylengrace.com and soon my new website www.stellaralfini.com will be up and running.  I personally don’t have a Facebook page but Omzak The Space Cat Warrior does…he’s reached nearly 10,000 fans which is wonderful  www.facebook.com/omzaks Anyone who would like to follow me on Twitter can find me here  @jaylengrace   @omzakcatwarrior and ( soon)  @stellaralfini

Thank you for chatting with us Jaylen – it has been a real pleasure!

Linda x

Photo Credits: All photos published with kind permission of Jaylen Grace. The illustrator of both Omzak and Porridge is Almuth Scheller.

 

 

Bathe In Wine

November 28th, 2013

Burgundy, claret, bordeaux … some of the finest wines not only to drink but their richness extends to colour too, especially when the wine is in sumptuous velvet or satin. Not forgetting plum, oxblood and blood red when talking about the “wine” colours, teamed with black or gold, the wearer looks opulent and sophisticated whether you are at a posh dinner dance, a guest at a winter wedding, in the office or just slumming it in jeans at the weekend. Here are some of my favourite wines that are online and in the High Street this week  - so get your Christmas lists ready!

Starting off with hosiery this week and the Trasparenze Jennifer merino wool tights have absolutely blown me away. These tights are luxuriously soft and oh so warm, not surprising really considering they are made of 70% wool. Available in a stunning rich red colour known as Rubino as well as in black. Although sheer tights are usually what I recommend to wear with the Little Black Dress, these tights ooze sophistication and sexiness in a way that opaque tights don’t usually do and therefore a great alternative look that will get you many an admiring glance!20131127-221833.jpg Bags next and I do love a big bag as I tend to carry a lot of useless paraphernalia around with me, so I adore this  satchel  from Rebecca Minkoff. Ideal for the office too.20131128-105832.jpg I couldn’t resist this lovely cosmetic case by Guess – a handy size to store my lipstick and eyeliner plus it fits into my handbag – win, win!20131127-221953.jpg For that evening do when only a posh frock will cut some ice, look no further than the exceedingly posh  Sen Rasha long dress and certainly looks more expensive than its current £188 price tag.20131127-221928.jpg If long dresses are not “your” thing then I would opt for a classic shift dress, and this shift by Maison Margiela hits the top note – it just oozes sophistication.20131127-221920.jpg

For that romantic date or the office party, I would recommend checking out the latest range of dresses by Free People. I’m in love with everything about their gorgeous velvet mini dress from the Victorian inspired antique lace top half to the rich velvet skater style dress.20131127-222031.jpg

Also from Free People, the Angles of Intarsia bodycon dress that can also double as a tunic to wear with wet look leggings.20131127-222036.jpg For Christmas Day or for family gatherings, the St John matte jersey gathered dress takes some beating and the elasticated waist accommodates your expanding waistline after a merry feast or two!20131128-103229.jpg With black jeans, why not add a gorgeous wine colour jumper. I favour the Sen Bella Dolman Sleeve Top20131127-221935.jpg A cheaper yet still funky option is the Top Shop fluffy crew neck sweater…20131127-221946.jpg As a layering option,the red seamless romper from Free People can help create various looks – from wearing with jeans to the tightest disco pants – with a leather biker jacket to top off the cool look.20131127-222025.jpg Another versatile top is the sleeveless blouson turtleneck by Adrianna Papell. This silky top is made of 100% polyester and is perfect under the office suit, with jeans, black smart trousers or a black leather pencil skirt. A possible option for those day-to-night occasions.20131127-222011.jpg

Talking of pencil skirts, wiggle in style with a black skirt and just add the sensational Etro silk peplum top. You will certainly cause a stir.20131127-222018.jpg

If your underwear drawer needs updating, instead of classic red, black, white or nude; invest this year in a darker red and this very pretty T shirt demi bra by Chantelle Intimates just is the bees knees.20131127-222005.jpg For socks, then Top Shop have these dinky plum velvet trim ankle socks ….20131127-221941.jpg Rock chicks amongst you will love this deviation from black – the Teo+Ng bordeaux leather cuff bracelet.20131127-222042.jpg Footwear next, and my favourites this week have all been highlighted on my wishlist, as usual, I love them all…

KG by Kurt Geiger Shannon Suede Chelsea Boots 20131127-221855.jpg Jeffrey Campbell Rubber Chelsea Boots20131127-221847.jpgSergio Rossi Platform Pump 20131127-221959.jpg

Ferragamo Varina Leather Flat Shoes

20131127-222050.jpg

 

 

A welcome return to a colour that was popular in the 1990s …long may burgundy reign!

Linda x

Photo credits: Essexy Legs; Lyst.com

An Interview With Katsock Crafts

November 22nd, 2013

It is with great pleasure that tonight I’m interviewing my long time friend, Kat, and chatting to her about her new venture Katsock Crafts! Hi Kat and welcome!  20131121-223113.jpg

Hi, I’m Kat, and I make jewellery and knit baby clothes under ‘Katsock Crafts’.  The name comes from truncating and amalgamating my first and maiden names.  And no-one else has put it together with ‘Crafts’.  

 What made you start up your business? 

 I’ve been knitting since before I was a teenager, my mother taught me much of what I know, and I’ve always knitted things for myself, off and on as the mood takes me.  I most enjoy making baby clothes as they offer quick results and can look absolutely adorable.  But it means waiting for people to get pregnant!  I knitted an Aran sweater for a colleague’s little girl and my boss said: you could have another career.  Turns out my husband was having similar thoughts… and between them, they persuaded me to give it a go.  Not that I took much persuading!

20131121-223153.jpgWhen choosing stock/styles/colours for both your knitted articles and your custom jewellery, do you go by popular styles, customer requests, fashion trends or bits of all those?

For the knitted items, as I’ve been knitting for some time, I had quite a few half-balls of yarn over, so so far it’s been a case of choosing which colours would go well together and whether I’ve got enough of each to make whatever item I’m planning.  My stock of wool oddments is beginning to dwindle now however and I will soon be stocking up on yarn.  I plan to pick up all the staple baby colour regulars (pastel shades of pink, blue, green and some white), but also some colours you wouldn’t necessarily associate with baby clothes, like rich blues, purples, reds, etc.  Maybe even black!  That Aran sweater for instance, is mainly a lovely dusky pink but is also bordered with some beautiful yarn in multi-coloured autumnal colours. And, I take a similar approach with the jewellery.  I pick up some standard beads whose colours I can mix and match, and then see what other interesting beads or charms I can find to mix them up with. For beads, yarn and patterns, unless it’s a stock item, I much prefer visiting a shop and actually getting a feel for the size and colour of the items I’m buying.  There’s nothing like actually holding something in your hand to give you an idea of what it’ll be possible to do with it. I think you’ll agree I’m not one to necessarily follow the latest trend; I mostly make what pleases me and I’d be happy wearing (at least as far as jewellery is concerned!), and hope that others agree.  So far: so good!

20131121-223239.jpgWhat’s the most unusual or strange item you’ve made (either knitted or jewellery)?

Ooh, good question!  Not recently, but way back when I first started knitting full-size sweaters for myself, the first one I made was a bit of a disaster.  It wasn’t completely unwearable, but the tension was all out on each panel and none of the different stitches for the borders or other areas matched up, when it was stitched together.  It could also have been a little longer!  The next item I knitted was much more successful and I hope I’ve continued to improve since then!

20131121-223133.jpgTo date, what has been your most popular item ordered from your repertoire?

Well it’s early days yet so difficult to pin down a most popular, but at the first craft fair, one style of necklace got a lot of attention.   On my last visit to the Brighton Bead Shop, I picked up some really fun ceramic bunny rabbits and bought two each of black and blue.  Unfortunately, one of them lost an ear by the time I came to make them into jewellery.  So, I strung them on a silver chain and, to give them some extra interest, added a bell.  I was so pleased to find that visitors to my stall thought them really cute, too. We also hung a newborn’s red waistcoat at the front of the stand, as it’s one of my favourites too, and it was the item most remarked upon by all who saw it.  I can just see a cheeky little newborn boy in that, teamed with a pair of black trousers and a long-sleeved white t-shirt (or shirt), visiting his grandparents on Christmas Day!

Out of your knitted items, has any item been a bit of a challenge?20131121-223217.jpg

Aran knits tend to be some of the most challenging, as the weight and purpose lend themselves to some really intricate knots and twists.  The most challenging I’ve ever attempted was an adult cardigan, in a gorgeous delicate lavender, which was all pattern from the start of a row to the end, and any mistakes were really obvious, so also a challenge to unpick and redo.  It took me months to complete and a good deal of swearing, but looked very impressive once complete.  The most challenging baby knit is one I’m working on now!  I’ve found a delightful pattern for a skirt but for some reason I just can’t ‘get’ the pattern.  Absolutely no reason why I shouldn’t be able to do it, so the hassle it’s giving me is really frustrating.  I’m determined to make it work though…

20131121-223144.jpgOut of all the items you’ve made, knitted or jewellery, what has been your favourite?

Of all the knitted pieces, it’s difficult to pin down an absolute favourite, I think they’re all adorable.  But I do think the waistcoat I mentioned will take some beating. From the jewellery, I’ve picked up some gorgeous Murano glass twirls in a purple and a red, which I can’t wait to get working with (unfortunately I haven’t had the right findings yet to put them together).  I’ve made some really light and airy Edwardian-esque earrings with filigree hearts, which are gorgeous: I think they’d look amazing with an up-do to show them off, on a special occasion.  I’ve a similar line of earrings, but with bells and flowers instead.  Not sure how long it would take before they got really annoying to wear, but they look quite funky!

 You’re a bit of a newbie when it comes to working at craft fairs – what have you enjoyed most about working at a craft fair? 

I am indeed, my second one tomorrow in fact (9th Nov).  My first one was about a month previous and while it was quite a local affair, so sales were minimal, it was a really enjoyable experience.  I met some lovely people, who were very willing to talk and give advice; they gave me some positive feedback about my products and stall; and one or two people were even good enough to part with their hard-won cash to buy something that I’d made!  It’s a great feeling and a huge compliment, especially when people have less in their pockets these days.

20131121-223228.jpgWhat advice would you give to people who want to work and display their products at craft fairs?

Make sure you have a good quality product that’s well made.  Even the lowest priced items are a waste of money if they fall apart.

Do your homework.  Join at least one crafting or craft fair website (I’m on UK Craft Fairs, but Esty has also been recommended to me).  Spend time making sure that your entry is updated regularly (a site that offers a blogging option is an excellent way to do this) and that you use the site’s facilities fully.
Don’t expect to make a million.  Especially at your first fair.  I set myself objectives for my first one, and making any money at all was there, but it was at the bottom of the pile.  First and foremost was to enjoy it, then meeting new people doing the same things as me and hopefully to learn something from them.  I wanted absolutely not to look like the newbie, but to have a professional-looking and well thought out stall (again, homework is key here).  Lastly, I knew I’d be disappointed unless I made at least one sale, and thankfully I think I met all objectives including the last one.
 
Pricing is a difficult one.  Be confident and firm but don’t be afraid to adjust if you think you’ve made an error.  People will not pay for something if they don’t think it’s worth what you’re asking – but don’t undervalue yourself either.  It’s a delicate balance, and not one that will necessarily come right first time.

 I’m sure there’s loads more I could say, but those are the ones that immediately come to me.

20131121-223207.jpgWhat knitted items would you like to attempt but haven’t as yet attempted?  What about jewellery?

Ever since I started knitting, there’s one particular technique I’ve always shied away from.  A month or so ago, something just clicked in my head (it was a real light-bulb moment!) and I finally just knew how it was done.  I finished my first baby knit with this technique last week and I’m really pleased with it. For the earrings, I have an idea I’m kicking around right now and I’ve made one attempt that was unfortunately not really successful.  But I haven’t given up; I’ll give it a bit more thought and another go.  Eventually, it’ll work for me.

 Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Ooh another good question!  I tend to favour dresses these days, not too short but definitely above the knee.  Almost always, except on the hottest of summer days, with a pair of 40d tights and on the coldest days, a pair of black leggings.  Never, ever, on pain of being struck down, leggings without tights.  Because they’re not totally opaque and in my opinion, will make you look like slightly simple trailer trash.  Day job, with a lovely pair of Mary Jane-style heels (not less than 3”).  I have three pairs under my desk! Day to day, usually DMs and a slightly more revealing dress (to show off at least one of three tattoos. Or, as I call it, ‘twins and pins’).  I have two pairs of DMs and love them both utterly: a blue tartan and a mottled lavender.  I crave another pair but my practical head has so far managed to over-rule my impulsive heart.  One day, my heart will catch my head napping.

 Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Though I shop there now very rarely, I could still never be far from Karen Millen.  And I never go out without my Monsoon loyalty card (not a storecard, it’s more like the Boots card or Nectar). One other shop I absolutely adore is Ness, (www.ness.co.uk )Scottish fashion brand (I liken it to a less-well known Cath Kidston).  Lots of lovely tartan !

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

Ooh, almost anything from Ness.  But I’ve also seen some lovely Carvella boots, wedge heel, about 4”, knee high, fit like a glove and look and feel stunning.  But Santa will have to be very good to me…

Boots or Shoes?

Boots are just all round more sexy, aren’t they?  Though I do like a shoe with a shallow platform sole. The higher the platform, just makes the foot look like a hoof when walking…

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc so that readers can find out more about Katsock Crafts

Sure: I’d be delighted if people wanted to look for me on Facebook at Katsock Crafts, or on UK Craft Fairs at:

 https://www.ukcraftfairs.com/craft_finder_more/5419/katsock-crafts

Thank you Kat for chatting with us and I wish you continued success with your venture! 

Linda x

Photo credits: Photos have been published with kind permission from Kat Sparshott 

 

 

 

 

Jumping In With Festive Spirit

November 19th, 2013

It’s this time of year again when High Street stores and online boutiques flood the market with a range of novelty jumpers, underwear and other accessories for the run up to Christmas. I must confess that whilst I do not own nor wish to own a festive jumper, I do own a rather cute pair of Reindeer socks from M & S! This year though I’ve spotted a few different seasonal novelty sweaters and other interesting clothing items. At Internacionale, their pug dog Christmas sweater is proving very popular, and for novelty one-off wearable footwear, whatever the season, you can’t beat the extremely talented Milly J Shoes. So, this week I’ve scouted around and here’s my round up of the stylish novelty wear out on the High Street and online … Just perfect for those Christmas shindigs and family gatherings where the wearing of a Christmassy novelty item is nigh on compulsory!
House Of Holland Cocktail Printed Boyfriend Jeans

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TopShop Reindeer Pants

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House Of Holland Cocktail Tights

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Modcloth Elf Respect Sweater

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Modcloth Fantasy Footwork Tights

20131119-221214.jpg
Modcloth Ski You Later Sweater

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TopShop Frog Novelty Onesie

20131120-134024.jpg
Therapy Reindeer Novelty Sleep Tee

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TopShop Digital Christmas Westie Ankle Socks

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ASOS Vintage Look Christmas Jumper

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Linea Weekend Reindeer Pattern Cashmere Jumper

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ASOS Reindeer Sweater

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ASOS Christmas Cardigan With Reindeer Design

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Charlotte Olympia Christmas Pudding Pouch

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John Lewis Novelty Panda Beanie

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Urban Outfitters Novelty Tree Beanie

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And for that sandal that adds a subtle novelty aspect to the Little Black Dress at your Christmas do, my vote goes to the Charlotte Olympia Tinseltown Wedge Sandal

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Have fun this festive season! Linda x

Photo credits: Lyst

An Interview With Style Is….

November 15th, 2013
Tonight I’m chatting to the delightful busy bee Ceri Heathcote, creator of the eco fashion search engine Style Is and fashion blogger extraordinaire. Welcome Ceri!20131115-204632.jpg
Hi I’m Ceri. I love clothes because they give me the chance to get creative and are a great way of expressing my personality. I also have a strong belief that fashion should be about feeling good, for me that means that no person or the environment should be exploited. I write about ethical and sustainable fashion for my own blog www.ethicalfashionblog.com as well as Oxfam Fashion, Urban Times and Ethical Fashion Forum.
 I adore your idea of an Eco Fashion Search Engine – where did you get your inspiration from?
After making the switch to only wearing and blogging about sustainable fashion, I began to discover lots of amazing fashion brands with beautiful clothes and great stories behind them. Unfortunately these brands don’t always have big marketing budgets and so are not as visible online as some of the more established fast fashion brands. I wanted to create a way for people to be able to find amazing and ethically made clothes quickly and easily and a place for shoppers to discover new brands.
20131115-204651.jpgStyle Is offers thousands of clothes, shoes & accessories for men, women and children from ethical, eco & sustainable brands,retailers and boutiques – what items or brand etc seems to be gaining in popularity at the moment?
Seasalt Cornwall is particularly popular at the moment. Perhaps because not only do they have their own unique style inspired by the coast of Cornwall but their clothes are also practical for the UK weather. SkunkFunk is a Spanish brand which seems to becoming increasingly popular in the UK for their clever combination of fresh and timeless. People Tree is also a firm favourite amongst those dedicated to fairtrade fashion. Their recent designer collaborations including Orla Kiely, Peter Jensen and Zandra Rhodes have won them even more fans.
Style Is also features designer dresses that are available to hire – I love this idea!  I have hired a designer dress in the past for a big event in London’s Dorchester hotel.  What do you feel are the pros to this service?
Apart from being better for the environment as hiring a dress causes less waste, it is also a great way to save money. By hiring a dress, you get the chance to wear something amazing by a designer that you wouldn’t usually be able to afford to wear.
Style Is features include  bamboo, Fair Trade, Vegan, Vintage, Organic, Recycled, Preloved, Made in Britain, Dress Hire – which section are you particularly proud of? What section would you go for first (putting yourself as a potential customer)?
I particularly love the recycled section as not only is it a great way to reduce the impact of your fashion and reduce waste but their are also some really amazing designers finding creative ways to utilise products that would otherwise be waste. The results are often really quirky and different pieces.
20131115-204758.jpgYou launched a You Tube campaign about Style and why fashion makes us feel good.   What was the trigger that made you start the campaign? Why do you think fashion makes us feel good?
The campaign is all about exploring individual style. As a teenager I often felt like I had to conform to the latest fashions and trends. This is not great for the environment as it means changing our clothes each time a fashion changes. Finding your own unique and individual style allows you to develop a timeless wardrobe that works for you, a much better option for the environment. The ‘What’s Your Style?’ video explores individual style at London Fashion Week and I hope that it will get people talking and thinking about their style and inspire them to do their own thing.
Apart from being the brains behind Style Is, you write blogs for Oxfam Fashion; as member of the Ethical Fashion Forum Fellowship 500 you also write for their Source Intelligence Mag; and also gained a degree in Environmental Life Science and a diploma in Fashion Journalism – and congratulations on winning an award for your contribution to the ethical fashion world at the International Ethical Fashion Awards!  So, your life seems very hectic!  Do you get any spare time to pursue hobbies?
With 2 children life is really hectic. I don’t have many hobbies as such except going to gym classes and spending time with my family. As I really love writing and fashion, that kind of feels like a hobby too.
20131115-204705.jpgWhat ethical brands do you feel will be big in 2014? Any new brands you hope to introduce in the future?
The Master and Muse Collection which has been curated by Amber Valletta for Yooxygen looks likely to be a big hit. It includes some really fashion forward brands including The Sway which creates leather jackets and accessories using upcycled leather from motorcycle accessories. I would love to introduce lots more brands in the next few years. The range of sustainable fashion is constantly growing and I would like style-is.co.uk to be a one stop shop for fashion conscious shoppers.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

There isn’t really a normal for me, I am constantly trying to create new looks from the clothes that I have. I love organic cotton dresses from Annie Greenabelle and organic cotton leggings from People Tree and when it is cold I often add a cardigan from Oxfam. My favourite footwear is a pair of Dream in Green ankle boots made from vegetable tanned leather. I love to add a little interest to my outfit with quirky or unusual fair trade or recycled jewellery or accessories.

20131115-204744.jpgDo you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from own site!)

The Oxfam Fashion online store is one of my favourite places to shop. You can get some great pieces at a fraction of the price they would cost new and help a great charity at the same time.
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
I don’t really need any new clothes or shoes but I would really love a wine coloured Pachacuti hat.
Boots or Shoes?
I love a wedge boot because it keep my feet cosy and dry and gives me a bit of extra height!
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about you and Style Is

It was great chatting to you Ceri and I look forward to discovering some great eco fashionwear!

Linda x 

Photo Credits: All photos have been published with kind permission from Ceri Heathcote.

Grey Staple

November 13th, 2013

I LOVE the colour “grey” – my wardrobe has more grey in it than any other colour, barring blue denim. Grey is so versatile- you can mix it with virtually every other colour and create numerous looks. Perhaps it’s because I have such pale skin that I find grey so becoming – and I have hazel eyes, so the myth about grey suiting blue eyes only is so untrue – brown eyed girls should experiment with grey eyeshadow – Body Shop and Rimmel have some lovely metallic grey shades that glide on perfectly. Here’s some grey beauties that I’ve spotted this week:

Brook Brothers Cashmere Wrapbrooks-brothers-heather-grey-cashmere-ruana-product-1-6011060-854455382_large_flex

John Smedley Wings Scarfjohn-smedley-silver-wings-product-1-14650756-115194645_large_flex

Zadig & Voltaire Dublin New Cardiganzadig-cardigan-dublin-new-bis-c-product-2-14211329-056671955_large_flex

Top Shop Wool Panel Glovestopshop-grey-wool-panel-glove-product-1-14570664-857066190_large_flex

Alexander Wang Prisma Long Wallet/Clutchalexander-wang-grey-prisma-long-wallet-product-1-14564200-643540630_large_flex

Top Shop Grey Cleopatra Embellished Top By Tfnctopshop-grey-cleopatra-embellished-top-by-tfnc-product-1-14640921-763995963_large_flex

Gillian Julius Grey Iridescent Sandblasted Tube Braceletgillian-julius-size-guide-grey-iridescent-sandblasted-tube-bracelet-product-1-14479811-170422796_large_flex

Gap Grey Marled Sweater Hoodiegap-marled-black-marled-sweater-hoodie-product-1-14573773-724199059_large_flex

Comme Des Garcons Grey Ruffle Cardigancomme-des-garcons-grey-ruffle-cardigan-product-1-14580884-585524664_large_flex

Madeleine Thompson Grey Three Colour Cashmere Dressmadeleine-thompson-multi-three-color-cashmere-dress-product-1-14544980-931662523_large_flex

Boss By Hugo Boss Tulia Straight Leg Trousersboss-by-hugo-boss-grey-tulia-straightleg-trousers-product-1-14637914-050806493_large_flex

BC Footwear Grey Bad To The Bone Bootbc-footwear-grey-bad-to-the-bone-boot-product-1-14085495-557373082_large_flex

ASOS Slouch Cardiganasos-grey-slouch-coatigan-product-1-14123799-170130350_large_flex

Whistles Grey Patti Washed Leather Biker Jacketwhistles-grey-patti-washed-leather-biker-jkt-product-5-14620847-300112608_large_flex

Forever 21 Modernist Shirt Dress With Sash forever-21-dark-grey-modernist-shirt-dress-w-sash-product-1-14587220-106348890_large_flex

Surface To Air Cosmo Skirt V2surface-to-air-grey-melange-cosmo-skirt-v2-product-1-14580080-067996346_large_flex

Gipsy Mock Garter TightsGipsyMockGarterTights

Diane Von Furstenberg Grey Sally Animal Print Coatdiane-von-furstenberg-camo-sally-animal-print-coat-product-1-14590929-280496060_large_flex

There you go, grey isn’t always dismal and don’t forget to experiment grey with vibrant colours – teal, purple, red, black, silver, yellow! Have fun!

Linda x

Photo Credits: Lyst; Essexy Legs

 

An Interview With Petra Jewellery

November 8th, 2013

Tonight I’m really pleased to welcome onto the blog the delightful Mitch from Petra Jewellery. Hi Mitch, please introduce yourself and Petra Jewellery:Mitch

Hello, I’m Mitch! I am a local Hampshire girl, happily married with one gorgeous daughter. Look out for her as she sometimes models for us! I took over from my Mum, Petra who started the business, about 8 years ago.  I’m a mechanical engineer grad, ex Royal Engineer officer, investment banker and construction project manager – actually all proven to be perfect training to become one of the best jewellers in Hampshire!

What’s the background to your business?

My Mum started the business when she met my dad (on a ski slope in the Alps – he was an Army Officer, she spoke no English) and he’d left the Army. They arrived in Basingstoke needing her to make some money.  She did not speak any English, so had to do something with her hands! The only thing she could do was make jewellery (trained with a Master Goldsmith in Germany).  My Mum has always insisted we keep her high German standards in terms of product offering and also customer services – we take huge pride in both of these!

Capture_00018The company description is the “Not So Traditional Traditional Jewellers”…the Champagne Design Experience for engagement couples and the Engagement Offer in association with Tylney Hall .. are just two examples of the little extra you offer. What’s the inspiration behind these ideas to highlight the engagement of couples?

Our official description is the “Not So Traditional Traditional Jewellers” And we’re sticking with that! We take such time in getting to know our customers and understanding exactly what they want and need.

The recently launched, Champagne Design Experience for engagement couples at our workshop that really helps make the moment even more special! And the Engagement offer in association with the local, beautiful Tylney Hall are just two examples the little extra special bits you get with Petra!

We always Mystery Shop at other jewellers – including some big names in London and were shocked at how little enthusiasm and compassion the retail assistants demonstrated as we posed as customers looking for engagement rings.  So we’ve decided to blow our customers away with the most amazing engagement experience ever, that they will remember for ever with tons of expert design advice thrown in as well. So you come away with a unique experience rather than just hearing the tills ringing as you leave!

As well as offering a comprehensive range of jewellery services and you have your own exquisite jewellery range too – where do you get your inspiration from?

Anything and everything: I’m constantly taking photos of things that inspire me, I’m a magazine junkie, I always ask to look at people’s jewellery even if I’m not in the shop, trade fairs… but the underlying emphasis is creating beautiful jewellery that lasts a lifetime.  Not many designers seems to care that much about how their designs are actually going to suit the lifestyle of the wearer.Unbenannt-1

What’s the most unusual item of jewellery you’ve designed or have you had any strange design requests?

Loads of unusual and wonderful requests: a vial for someone’s dog’s ashes, a child’s tooth made into a pendant, copies of crazy costume jewellery designs, a major’s badge, wedding rings for a pilot mum who met in the cock pit of a plane (yes, up in the sky), banana cufflinks, snooker cue brooch and diamond set ball triangle pendant for a snooker World Champion…BUT – for me, these creations are amazing in their own way, they are truly individual and the recipients have been beyond excited at the end result.

To date, what has been your most popular item ordered from your website/ shop?

Hard to say as we don’t do any one design en masse – our new Angel Whisperer Collection is really, really popular. I think because it is so beautiful and different and again, it can be personalised and changed immediately, depending on where your mood takes you!

What’s your most favourite item in your collection?

That’s an easy one! My 30th birthday present from my Mum: an 18ct gold bangle immaculately set with 30 diamonds.  It is stunning and is so me! So many customers have seen it and asked us to re-create it for them – that’s an honour.

You do a “your gold” service – using old gold provided by the customer melted down to make a new piece of jewellery – what a lovely idea!  What’s the most popular recycled jewellery piece?

It’s all about memories again and making something special and unique. Our solid gold handmade bangles that will last forever – we normally use the customer’s old gold and they talk to us about how they would like it ‘recycled’. Every single customer who has used this service, has been over the moon with the final result – that’s a pretty satisfying thing at the end of the working day.

DSR11.jpg (white)When it comes to wedding rings, you can make rings out of platinum; 9ct, 14ct, & 18ct white, rose, & yellow gold; palladium and titanium.  My own engagement & wedding ring are platinum (I’m a lucky girl :)) …what metal is the most popular with your customers?

You are a lucky lady – platinum is still the best!  I’m also big fan of palladium – it is a good alternative to platinum although our goldsmith moans like crazy about making anything bespoke from it as it’s not easy to work with!  Our best-selling metal however is our 18ct white gold – it’s ‘palladium rich’ so naturally much whiter than normal 18ct white gold so we can guarantee it will never will look yellow like most High Street white gold will – this is a huge selling point and our customers trust that we are right (we always are!)  Lots of people are disappointed with their white gold as once the rhodium plating wears off their rings take on a ‘straw white colour’, not a nice experience!

You do offer branded jewellery from other designers that you’ve picked for their creativity and flair – what brand seems to be of interest this season amongst your customers? Any favourites yourself?

Both from Germany: unrivalled quality and finishes:

My iMenso – interchangeable pendants -

Angels Whisperer

Festina and Candino watches (new brand to UK – swiss mech and sapphire crystal face but only £200- £300)

smallsilsetPersonal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Calvin Klein style but sometimes from charity shops, Primark – anything plain which works well as it shows off the jewellery I’m wearing.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Oh dear, I discovered LK Bennet dresses: perfect for Saturdays in the shop – makes me feel like a lady!  Off duty I’m on ‘Wiggle’ buying cycling kit!  Always on the look out for sexy sports clothing!

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

Our brand colours ,sports kit that I can brand as Petra Jewellery and advertise as I run and cycle round the Hampshire countryside!  And then a new time trial bike in Petra colours and I might even add some diamantes!

Boots or Shoes?

Now – boots ‘n’ skinny jeans – so I don’t get wet feet!

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc so that readers can find out more about Petra Jewellery.

 

https://www.facebook.com/PetraJewellery

www.petrajewellery.com

Linda x

Photos published with kind permission from Petra Jewellery

 

Sunshine Yellow

November 7th, 2013

modcloth-yellow-darlin-detail-hair-clip-in-yellow-houndstooth-product-1-14270080-494820848_large_flexToday’s blogpost is inspired by a conversation I had a few days ago with a friend of mine on the Facebook wall of the group, Boots Shoes et Al. We were admiring a pretty pair of bright yellow courts that Deb had uploaded and Deb revealed her love of wearing yellow/lemon during the winter season. I, on the other hand, considered yellow/lemon as a more summery colour as the yellow pieces in my wardrobe are all summery – I wore a flimsy floaty lemon dress with cerise flowers for a summer family wedding, for example. It dawned on me later, that one of my favourite outfits in the late 1980s was a mustard yellow fisherman’s knit crew neck jumper which I paired with yellow/beige/white animal print sweat pants and flat mustard coloured suede boots with tassels! Looking out my window, the gloomy day beckons for some sunshine and Deb was right, cheer up the winter with some Sunshine Yellow! So, I’ve scouted around and here are my sunshine choices to brighten up our lives this season:

Modcloth Veer Bright Dressmodcloth-yellow-veer-bright-dress-product-1-7392609-887057942_large_flex

Lisa Marie Fernandez Dresslisa-marie-fernandez-taupe-lisa-marie-dress-in-taupe-product-1-9404622-201424699_large_flex

Michael Kors Duvatine Funnel Neck Jacketmichael-kors-sun-duvatine-funnelneck-jacket-product-1-14605549-654166814_large_flex

Stella McCartney Pantsstella-mccartney-yellow-casual-pants-product-1-14692819-020698135_large_flex

H & M Knitted Dresshm-mustard-yellow-knitted-dress-product-1-14456976-143199177_large_flex

 

Michael Kors Bonded Plonge Leather Grommet Skirtmichael-kors-sun-bonded-plonge-leather-grommet-skirt-product-1-14635788-516294479_large_flex

Top Shop Teddy Fur Pea Coattopshop-yellow-teddy-fur-pea-coat-product-1-14031424-178985664_large_flex

Elle MacPherson Thongelle-macpherson-saffron-casablanca-thong-product-1-13512600-782081822_large_flex

Valentino Rockstud Flap Clutchvalentino-yellow-fluo-platino-rockstud-flap-clutch-product-1-14315702-688698352_large_flex

Forever 21 Longline Cardiganforever-21-mustard-longline-mixed-knit-cardigan-product-1-14107960-437704683_large_flex

Top Shop Basket Stitch Snoodtopshop-chartreuse-basket-stitch-snood-product-1-14480974-428703649_large_flex

and as for footwear:

Dr Martens Rain Bootdr-martens-yellow-patent-drench-welly-rain-booties-product-1-13659545-883951297_large_flex

Kelsi Dagger Abrielle Yellow Suede Shoeskelsi-dagger-yellow-abrielle-yellow-suede-product-1-2424966-172123182_large_flex

Kurt Geiger Cordelia Low Heel Courtskurt-geiger-black-cordelia-low-heel-courts-product-1-14676475-784972466_large_flex

Bed Stu Ankle Bootsbed-stu-lime-lux-double-rafter-boot-product-1-13853749-071375160_large_flex

Damir Doma Wedges damir-doma-ochre-wedge-product-1-13188894-747577087_large_flex

Gianvito Rossi Ankle Bootsgianvito-rossi-yellow-orange-ankle-boot-product-1-13049538-617123651_large_flex

Casadei Bootscasadei-yellow-boots-product-1-12336682-445706750_large_flex

Spread a little bit of sunshine and spruce your wardrobe up with a bit of yellow!

Linda x

P.S. The header pic features the Modcloth Darlin Detail Hair Clip in Yellow Houndstooth.  

Photo credits: Lyst; Essexy Legs

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