Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Just a little tinkering....

I suppose I ought to mention the tinkering that has been going on and will continue to go on over the next week or so.D id you notice any changes? I've been feeling the need to freshen up the look of my blog for a while. But the stuff that I wanted to do was outside of the parameters of Blogger's template options. If I wanted to do what I wanted to do; I'd have to get down and dirty with HTML/CSS coding. Eeeep!  Actually, turns out it's not that hard at all! There are so many brilliant resources out there!  Anyhow, I haven't decided on a final design as such. I'm kinda just tinkering and playing to see whether the fit of an element works at the moment. Once I have Photoshop nailed, (playing with that too) the header and navigation tabs will get an overhaul. I've gone all black and white at the moment, but there will be a colour scheme once I decide on it.....

On a related subject, I need your advice! I've been pondering my blog name, and am having doubts about it moving forward.  Considering I will be getting married at some point and will then be a "Mrs" should I keep "Miss P" or do you all know me as Portia by now?  A couple of people IRL have commented recently that "Miss P" sounds a bit kinky. Kinda Miss Whiplash'esque! Maybe that says more about them than it does about the name, lol, but it time for a name change? Would a name change alienate people that have been reading this blog from the outset?
I am long can I feasibly go on calling myself a "Miss" without it sounding like a euphamism for something else....?! Your input would be very gratefully received!

And the winner is......

Soooo, I finally got around to wading through the comments for the Elisalex Giveaway post. Sheesh, there's a LOAD of interesting stuff in there. Like, apparently Belgians have tried to deliver mail using cats! Mexican Red Knee Tarantulas change colour just before they shed their skin....Amy has a deaf dog that can understand sign language...Bunny thrashes the boys drag racing in her Honda CRX....and NewYork Lawyers employ a team of people to record every crack in every pavement on the streets of New York so they can sue the ass off the city should anyone have the misfortune to fall over and injure themselves AND wish to sue...THAT's dedication to litigation my friends!

But as for the winner of the giveaway. Well THIS had me clapping my hands together like a seal and bouncing up and down on the sofa. This is soooooo cool.....Everything about the concept, the execution of it, the grannies...just brillant! You can find out more here...

So Maria, you shared this:

Hi Portia, I came across this site a few weeks ago (unintentially) and thought it was both amusing but very, very cool too!
"Grannies" will knit clothes for you or your friends or family. Great idea for anyone who can't knit or doesn't have the time. I knit myself, and I am teaching myself to sew too, but I thought my mum, who is a granny herself, might like to audition for a spot on the knitting team, haha! Anyway, great concept, don't you think?

[By the way, I am in no way affiliated with the 'grannies' site, just in case you thought I was making a plug] :o)

And for that, you WIN!!! Unfortunately, you didn't share your email address and I can't access your Blogger profile to try and contact you that way. So get in touch ASAP and I'll get it sent out to you :)

Monday, February 25, 2013

DIY: Crochet Chain Necklaces

I'm a bit in love with this technique. It's popping up all over the internet and I really love the contrast of hard metallic chain with soft yarn. You could make a whole bunch of these to complement or contrast with your wardrobe colour palette. (Do you have a wardrobe palette?! Colours that tend to creep into your wardrobe time and time again?) The customization options are endless....

Anyhow, all you need here is an old chain necklace, a crochet hook that fits through the links in your chain, and some yarn of some description. I used embroidery cotton because it suited the size of my chain and I already had some in my stash. But you could use silk for a bit of luxury; and on chunkier chains you could use delicious merino knitting yarn. Yum! All we're going to use here is a single crochet stitch. But you could experiment with double/treble crochet or even some of the more decorative crochet stitches... If you've never crocheted before, (although I know alot of you do!) trust me, it's easy to learn; and you'll be totally hooked (excuse the gratuitous pun, totally intended!!)

1. Start as with any basic crochet; with a slipknot/loop on your hook. Then pass the hook through the first link in your chain.
2. Yarn over the end over your hook as pictured
3. Pull through the chain link so you have 2 loops on your hook
4. Yarn over your hook again and pull through the 2 loops you had on your hook. First single crochet done!
5. Repeat in all links of the chain, right to the end.
6. Cut the yarn so you have a short tail. Open up the loop you have left on your crochet hook and pass the end of the yarn tail through it.
7. Remove your hook and pull the yarn tail  tight so the "knot" sits snug against your chain.
8. At both ends of your chain you'll have a yarn tail. Put a small blob of superglue on both knotted ends. You want it to run a little bit onto the yarn tail too.
9. Once the glue is set hard, snip off the yarn tail, et voila!

My chain didn't have any clasps so I added a little extender chain, a clasp, and a little drop at the back. But if you're working with a necklace that you already have, of course you don't need to worry about that part.  I also decorated my necklaces with some little bead drops that I made by threading the beads onto jewellery head pins and making a little loop at the top. Great little tute here for making beaded drops...

As you can see, you can create loads of different variations. I was limited to using the materials and colours that were in the pile of jewelery I was challenged to remake. But imagine these with turquoise, cerise, red ; chunkier chain in matt black, pewter, gold; and any manner of drops. Basically, just let your imagination go mad!

If you do end up making these, PLEASE let me know! I would LOVE to see what you come up with!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sooooo, what have I been up to.....?

The eagle eyed amongst you may have spotted in the pictures of my previous post, that I appeared to be doing a "show and tell" of some jewelry pieces. The show is by no means about jewelry making but for this particular episode part of my challenge was to turn a tangled mass of beaded necklaces and bracelets into items that were a bit, well, nicer. I'm not a jewelry maker. Let's be clear. Although I have dabbled a bit in the past (as a teenager I used to make simple little earrings and sell them in a friends shop) this particular challenge pushed me out of my stitchy comfort zone and really had me thinking on my feet and learning new skills as I went along. And while this blog is not a jewelry blog; it is a blog about what I get up to in my daily "making" life. And, well, this is what I've been up to for the past couple of weeks! The jewelry in the picture was OK. But the idea was for me to resell this jewelry for a profit. As it was, there was little or no profit to be had. I'd be able to sell the jewelry as it was at a bootsale sure. But I had bigger ideas! In order to eek as much profit as possible out of the jewelry that I had, I decided to break it down into raw materials and use them to create handmade pieces that were one of a kind. Essentially adding value to basic materials by investing time, a bit of skill and in some cases the addition of new materials.......

One trend that seems to be emerging here online and in the spring/summer preview shows is the addition of yarn or ribbon woven or crocheted into chunky chain. While I didn't have funky chunky chain, I adapted the trend to suit the chain that I did have. I used embroidery floss crocheted into chain to add a pop of colour and then created drops from the beads I had harvested. The overall effect is more delicate and has an almost Egyptian feel to it. I really love this effect and have a "how to" planned for next week. So stay tuned for that. The necklaces on the left and right have been sold (yay!) I'm planning on getting some chunkier chain and making a couple of these for myself. The drops aren't really my style so I plan on making some that are simple chain and yarn combos. Less fussy if you like. It's a quick and easy way to make a fun accessory that you can customise to suit any colour palette. Simply choose an embroidery floss that complements the colour of the outfit you're accessorizing and you're good to go...

These birds nest pendants are so simple to make too. I cut up a little stretchy pearl bracelet and used the beads to create half a dozen of these. The chain and wire etc can be bought cheaply on line and they take about 20 mins to make. (I still have some of these left if anyone's interested! £12 each). I would love to claim this idea as my own, but sadly no! These are all OVER the internet right now. Just google "birds nest pendants" and there're a proliferation of tutorials to choose from. They look great with real turquoise or jasper beads that mimic the speckled effect of real birds eggs too....

These pendants were a bit more in depth. The pendants clasps and jump rings are all made from real silver. I coiled and manipulated 1.2mm sterling wire into various shapes and hammered them flat for a more artisan/handmade look. I added glass bead drops using beads from a necklace I cut up and hung them on buff natural leather thong. The ends of which I secured using sterling silver wire. In addittion to these I made a whole batch of hammered silver tiny drop earrings. The plan for these was always to try and sell them into a local gallery/gift shop on our High Street that specialises in handmade gifts and homewares. They're not actually to my taste, but they fit really nicely with aesthetic of the shop, which was my aim. I'm happy to say that the gallery owner bought the lot!! Double yay!

Handmade hammered silver clasps and natural leather cord....

More natural leather cord here. This time I made multi strand necklaces threaded with tibetan silver noodle beads and round beads. I sold all but one of these. I could have sold more if I'd have made more in the buff leather., darn it! I actually really like these. They've got quite a tribal feel to them don't you think? I'm not one to wear much jewelry ironically. But I might make an exception with these....

Again, this isn't really my taste, but the challenge was to work with what I had. I do really like the result, just not on me, lol. Don't those pastel beads remind you of the candy necklaces you used to get in the pick and mix section of your local sweet shop? I think the pastel shades contrast well will the silver drops. I have a "how to" lined up for this one too. I keep thinking that this design would work really well with vintage buttons in place of the pastel beads, don't you think....?

Lastly I made a whole batch of fishook earrings like these with glass bead drops. These sold like hotcakes! So simple, so quick to make; and f I can work out what I've done with the photos, there'll be a "how to" next week on these too!
The last couple of weeks have challenged me to think creatively in terms of working with what I have and bringing the best out in materials that at first glance seem pretty unspectacular. I'm realising that challenging myself in this way is something I get a real kick out of. It's why I enjoy refashioning so much; and why I love taking unloved bit's of furniture destined for the dump, and looking for the potential in them rather than the faults. I'm starting to realise that it's a big part of who I am creatively. Taking something and reinventing it, giving it a new lease of life, is immensely satisfying.
But by far the most gratifying element of this whole process has been something different. The fact that other people will look at something you've made and think it's good enough to hand over their hard earned cash for. If I'm honest, I've always lacked in confidence in one way or another. I'm very self critical, and this applies to everything I make too. It's never occurred to me to sell the things I make before because they never seem good enough to me. But apparently they are; who knew?! It's weird, because if it hadn't been for the filming of this pilot, I doubt I would have put myself out there, to have my "work" scrutinised and ask someone to buy it. But I did, and they liked it, and they bought from me. I cannot overstate what a landmark moment that is for me. The gallery have even suggested we can have an ongoing relationship if I want to come up with a collection where I'm not working within the constraints of a cheap bag of costume jewellery! There's this weird sensation creeping over me as a result. Could it actually be confidence in my own abilities?! At the ripe old age of 38, perhaps it's about time, lol! ;)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Erm, ready for my close up.....!

Sooooo...this TV pilot has been taking up ALOT of my time over the past few weeks. Whilst I can tell you next to nothing about the detail of it; I thought you guys would get a kick out of seeing what goes on "behind the scenes" so to speak! I know I have been getting a huge kick out of being involved, and, even if ultimately nothing comes of this it's still been a fascinating insight into how much goes into making a seemingly straightforward format work on screen. I don't think I'll ever watch a TV programme in quite the same way again. Seriously peops, the HOURS of filming that go into even a small segment of TV is astonishing to me!

Sooo, let me talk you through what's going on here. We were filming a small segment at my brother's house. His lovely wife had organised an event to help me out. We started filming at around 1pm and finished around 6:30. After all that, the final segment will probably be around a minute!

That's Tim on the left. My lovely cameraman/sound man/director for the day. The other segments I've been involved in had a full crew but this guy was literally doing the work of 3 people. A-MA-ZING he was :) There he is setting up the shot. That big light in the middle is apparently called a "diva" light, which sent my sister in law and I into fits of laughter. (Hopefully because I'm the least diva like person she knows ;) There is a feed from the camera to the little monitor you can see on the right there. So when Tim is filming he can constantly monitor the actual footage as it will appear on screen....yep that's my hand on screen......

On the left is me getting "mic'd up". We had such a mare with the microphone which was supposed to clip onto my bra and sit nicely in my "valley" as Tim called it. Cue more hysterical laughter....Erm, I think he meant cleavage, lol! Some gaffer tape, lots of faffing and having a stranger peer down my top, and we were finally sorted! Center picture gives you a feel for the overall set up for this little show and tell sequence. As you can see from the monitors in the middle and left hand pics.....there is loads of mess everywhere but the camera tells a very different story. Zoomed in and close up shots give no hint of the relative chaos I'm sitting in....

The left hand picture is a case in point as to why I hate having my photo taken, lol! I must constantly pull goofy expressions when I'm talking! Gah, I can totally understand why media peops never want to watch themselves on camera. But again, just check out the relative chaos of the set up (cables trailing all over,tripods, lights and a table perched on a suitcase to get it to the right height  for the shot) compared to what you would eventually see on screen (visible on the monitor in all 3 pics)....

The magic of TV huh? How it makes everything look much more glossy than it actually is. Let's hope they can work their magic on my goofy expressions....;)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Hop over to So Zo.....

I am a weeee bit late putting this post up because I've been a little busy this weekend filming for the TV Pilot. (I'll have a little more info and sneak peaks on that for you this week. But shhhhh! Don't tell anyone!) Plus I need to pick a winner for the Elisalex Dress Giveaway. Dammit, you lot are interesting, and quirky, and funny, and cool! (If you want to know what I mean then check out the comments section in the giveaway post. I had so much fun receiving all those interesting bits of info!). It's making it super hard to pick a winner. But I promise I will sort that out this week too; now that the bulk of the TV stuff is done and dusted.

In the meantime I was totally flattered to be invited by Zoe (darn that girl is too cool for school!) to take part in an interview over on her blog as part of her fab Refashion Friday series....

If you haven't seen it yet and are at all interested on reading my ramblings on charity shops, recycling and refashioning in general (plus a little peak into the chaos that is my thought process), then hop over to Zoe's blog and say Hi!

I'll be back tomorrow with the results of the giveaway and some more on the whole TV thing ;)

Friday, February 01, 2013

A Long Overdue GIVEAWAY!!!!

At every readership milestone on this blog I've scolded myself for not getting organised and planning a giveaway to say a simple thankyou to all the lovely peops who stop by here to read or comment on my posts. Truthfully, one of my absolute favourite things is seeing a blog comment pop into my inbox!
Another email that I was VERY pleased to find in my inbox came from Elisalex. Co-founder of By Hand - London. No doubt you will have seen versions of the Charlotte Skirt and the Elisalex Dress popping up all over the place. Well Elisalex was kind enough to send me a copy of both patterns just before Christmas. I am selfishly keeping the Charlotte Skirt pattern as I have wanted a high waisted pencil skirt for some time.
However, despite absolutely LOVING the Elisalex Dress, I had to be tough with myself and admit that the possibility of my making it any time soon is slim. Have you ever seen me wearing a dress on the pages of this blog? Case in point! Sometimes I need to be realistic with myself!

Sooooo, I decided to put my copy of the Elisalex Dress up for grabs. For sure there are LOADS of you out there who would look super gorgeous in this little number.....
***Now Closed***

All you have to do to enter to win is leave a comment on this post. Just tell me something interesting. It can be whatever you want.  Tell me your favourite recipe/blog/pattern/tutorial/tips & tricks/website. ANYTHING as long as it's interesting. (and that's easy because I find the simplest of things ineteresting. Seriously, the looks Jason gives me sometimes when I say "ooooh, that's really interesting!") Basically, I get to hear loads of interesting stuff and one of you will get your hot little hands on this hot little dress pattern!

The giveaway will close at midnight GMT on Friday 8th Feb and is open internationally. If you don't have a blog where I can contact you, make sure to leave me your email.