Friday, 18 November 2016

Make it Own It Love it...The debut book by Matt Chapple!

Many of you will remember Matt Chapple, winner of the BBC's 2015 Great British Sewing Bee and Make it  Own It  Love it is his new (and first but hopefully not last) book!
Well of course you'll remember him -Why wouldn't you? He's the ex squaddie red head with the wide smile!- because he beat off stiff competition from Annie, Alex, Neela, Amanda, Ryan, Paul, Deborah and the two other finalists Lorna and Neil to be crowned Britain’s best amateur sewer!
Published by Jacqui Small, Matt's debut title is now available to buy. Take a look at the end of the post for your exclusive East London Craft Guerrilla blog reader discount code...


 


First things first, I have to confess... though I'm no expert dress maker as a teen I used to make a lot of my clothing!
Don't get too excited, my makes was pretty much sewn together with hope and out of desperation as it was just too hard finding alternative clothing in a small town so making my own was the next best thing! But it wasn't particularly done well, it served its purpose but mostly things ended up being held together by safety pins. Hey, that's a fashion statement too but... it also was to keep seams together!!!

In all fairness I have progressed but I don't really make that much of my clothing anymore but I have to the point of making a circle skirt from start to finish. Even though I have the basics there's still lots to learn. And I'm keen!



But the reality is that Matt puts my very basic sewing skills to shame -Gosh, do you remember how easily he managed to whip up his beautifully tailored leather biker jacket and a sweet baby blue tartan kilt?! Seriously amazing!!!- so when I was given this book to review I was pretty happy to do so as I thought it would be the type of book that I could dip into when ever I needed to.


It's got lots of handy hints and tips like how to hem jeans and change buttons on coats. It's a nice book and you won't be just up-cycling, mending and up keeping what you already own but also making clothing from scratch, all be it the projects are not super complicated but I'm not against that at all as I do think simplicity is sometimes (if not mostly!) the best way!
And also I don't want to be put off by super elaborate sewing projects either... well not yet!
Making clothing is fun but it can also be daunting especially when following a pattern or doing more complex bits like adding an invisible zip or darts* to a skirt.

*Note: OK so if the word darts has you conjuring images of Bully the Bullseye Bull in your mind then I think forget about sewing and just get yourself down to the nearest pub! But if you have a slight notion that it's to do with tailoring then this book might just be what you need to help you get further into sewing and making your very own clothing. 

I've actually got my eye on the red and white stripy top and I'm looking forward to adding it to my Spring to do sewing project list... ha and the skirt!




Matt's book is easy and straightforward with comprehensible step by step tutorials and even a guide to sewing machines and tools.
Not everyone is born with a natural ability to thread a machine or or with the knowledge of which foot to use for a specific task but it's something anyone can learn... and there's a whole section explaining just that and even a handy guide to tools and how to use them so you'll be sewing like a pro in no time!
So if you're after something which will take you to the next level of dressmaking then I think it's a great book.
It's not necessarily a book for the experienced sewer but perfect for those who are taking their first shaky steps into the wonderful world of dress making/tailoring with clear and concise sections including: Tool Kit to Cool Kit, Fabrics, Stitching, Make it your own, Make it from Scratch, Make it wearable, Make it live longer to a handy glossary and resources page in the back.



But what I do really like about this book is that there's a lot of altering projects like tightening trouser legs, mending and maintaining clothing too, and even a handy laundry guide and a repair section. It's 100% up my street as having an ecologically sound wardrobe isn't always easy to have but with Matt's book you'll be a step closer!



If you'd like to get your Craft Guerrilla blog reader discount for Make It, Own It, Love It at the discounted price of £16 including p&p* (RRP: £20), telephone 01903 828503 or email mailorders@lbsltd.co.uk  and quote the offer code QPG462. *UK ONLY - Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.







Monday, 31 October 2016

Flapjacks, a good old fashioned sweet treat... and not just for Halloween!!!


Spooktacular treats like Flapjacks are easy and inexpensive to make using cupboard staples and a healthier alternative to Halloween candy! Though I do like candy -a lot!-  I also love Flapjacks.... and they don't seem as naughty when you're consuming your own weight in them! Not that I'd advise anyone to eat too much sugar but if there's one day that you can go a little mad on the sweet stuff it's on Halloween so... you know, enjoy within reason!

So below is my basic Flapjack recipe which is super easy to knock up! It takes all of about 10 minutes and about 20/25 minutes to bake.

Note: You can omit the dried fruit and nuts if you wish but as it's Samhain I decided to treat myself to the max and added as much of the extras as I wanted. You can use the basic recipe and add your own twists like a caramel and chocolate topping or even add to the mix some coconut, banana chips and/ or chocolate chips!



Here's my Flapjack recipe: 
  • 150g butter 
  • 65g Light Brown soft sugar
  • 3 generous tbsp of Golden Syrup
  • 250g rolled oats (porridge oats) 
The extras...
  • zest of one orange
  • hand full of dried cranberries (or substitute for which ever fruit you prefer like figs, dates, apricots or mixed peel)
  • 80 grams of mixed nuts (walnuts, macadamia, pecan, almonds, Brazil nuts etc.)
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon 


Method:



Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan) gas 4.
Grease and line a shallow 20cm square tin with grease proof / baking paper.
Put the butter, sugar and Golden Syrup into a medium pan and gently heat until melted. chop nuts and zest a large orange into the oat mix.
Remove the butter and sugar mixture from the hob and leave to slightly cool.
Stir in the oat mixture until incorporated.
Turn mix into the tin, level and press the mixture evenly and firmly with the back of a spoon.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden around the edges. Do not over bake or it'll become hard and quite dry.
Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack still in the tin for10 minutes then mark into 12 or 16 pieces whilst still warm.
If you're adding a layer of chocolate topping remember to do so while the Flapjacks are still in the tin.
Cool completely before turning out onto a board and cutting again with a sharp knife.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Dont get cross, cross stitch: After class resources!

Following the fab workshop at Head & Hands on Monday I thought I'd add a few resources to the blog so participants could go on to finish their wall hoops... 2 hours flew by, we could had stayed there all night stitching and chatting!!!
Lots of you made a great start but yeah, I'd love to see what decorative bits you're adding to your wall hoops... the stitched "sentiments" looked awesome but I know you wanted to do more...

So even if you weren't there and would like to try a bit of Cross Stitching here's a little guide so anyone can start their adventure into subversive cross stitch!

Photo credit: ©AmandaWayne 


Photo credit: ©AmandaWayne 

Photo credit: ©AmandaWayne 


Well, subversive if you want it to be, we won't judge if it's not, and if you use our hints, tips and resources to create panels featuring kittens in baskets then that's fine too. We just want to get people making and getting into the healing and energizing craft flow!
Crafting is definitely not just about making but also about finding time and ways to switch off from the stresses of the modern world!
So if you'd like to join us at a future workshop then sign up to our mailing list here: craftguerrilla@yahoo.com

But if you'd like to try your hand at Cross Stitching here are a few websites which might help you get into the amazing world of Cross Stitching:


Create your own pattern using your own art work and photos -great for flowers, boarders and portraits:

www.myphotostitch.com

For fonts:

www.stitchpoint.com

Intro for beginners:

Though some points like using blunt embroidery needles aren't necessarily a rule in my opinion but a guide... use what you feel is comfortable for you! Remember learning a technique is good but the action and the overall result is what's important:
www.stitcher.co.uk


Subversive Cross Stitch inspiration:

www.google.co.uk

Here are a few photos of our class... we had such a hoot! Thank you all who came and to Amanda for hosting it the beautiful communal space in Central Parade, Walthamstow East London.

Photo credit: ©AmandaWayne 


Photo credit: ©AmandaWayne 


If you'd like to know more about Head & Hands and other workshops available there please visit their website!

See you all soon and keep on stitching!!!


Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Crochetterie, a man friendly craft book!

Crochetterie, Cool Contemporary Crochet for the Creatively-minded by Molla Mills (Jacqui Small, RRP £20), is out now!
This perfectly formed man friendly book by Finnish crafty super star Molla Mills is a great new publication aimed predominantly at getting men into crochet! 
It's the sequel to the much loved Modern Crochet and this new book continues to pack beautiful scandi style to the brim!


Finding the perfect craft discipline for your skills is sometimes hard and even harder when there's a perception of suitability mainly when it comes to genders.
What Molla manages to do is offer up crochet that is gender free, though obviously - and like I said before - it is primarily geared to men but if you're not a guy don't let that put you off... it has lots of projects that anyone can make so it is in fact a very unisex book.



When we hosted our craft nights I noticed how most participants were female so getting guys involved has been a long time struggle and one I totally understand.
However we did get the occasional man joining in but hand on heart... I wish there had been more! We did try to have a selection of activities which suited everyone regardless and we do believe that
making is a beautiful thing which all genders, ages and backgrounds can benefit from!



Not only does craft making have health benefits it also provides a nice respite from the modern world plus I kinda think it's pretty beautiful to see a guy being creative and using his hands to make useful objects too.

Even though it's targeted at the male of the species I would still be happy to make any of the projects in this book as being super feminine, aka girlie girl, isn't my thing either!
It's really refreshing to see a book which is open to all. As you know there are already tons of books offering saccharine sweet projects, which if that's your type of thing great, but if you prefer things a bit less twee and pink then wrap your peepers around this amazingly beautiful book... Excuse the pun but... it'll have you hooked!!!





Molla's book is divided into sections and it even has instructions for beginners as well as a whittle  your own crochet hook tutorial. The patterns are divided into categories: Home, Clothes, Travel and Equipment so there are lots of great projects for all sorts of abilities as well as functions.
With easy to follow patterns that any novice can get to grips with I'm sure that even the most anxious of crocheters will be able to finish at least one of the easier projects!
Some of our favourites are the quirkier projects like make your own death metal band banner or the speaker slip cover so all in all you can still craft and keep your Rock n roll kudos alive and kicking!
What I also particularly like is the generous end section which is about 20 pages long with instructions so all in all you can pretty much complete all the 30+ projects on your own. It covers a lot of the basics which for me was excellent as I'm not a crochet pro.
There's also a nice extra bit - Maintenance- which shows you how to stretch after long crafting sessions. As some of you might know crochet claw for example is a real thing and your body can stiffen up when crocheting.
Molla's Brother, Pasi, a yoga instructor shows us a few exercises to help us  stretch and breath so we can keep on crafting!


The actual look of the book is beautifully rugged, outdoorsy and yes I'm gonna say it again... very Scandi!
Apart from the awesome selection of projects and beautiful photos there are lots of  tattooed blokes with beards in chunky sweaters on skateboards looking dashingly handsome. But you know what? I like it... in fact I kinda have a crush on it!
And there are cute dogs too, look at that husky in a bow tie...what's not to love?!



 


So yes, I think it's pretty awesome and I'm sure many of you would love this book too and so will your man friends. Bearded or not, guys need some more craft in their lives so yes if you do one good deed this year get the man/men in your life crocheting!
Crochet is pretty mechanical and can be a feat of engineering so crocheting kinda suits the masculine brain... though hey, I'm no one to generalise but through experience I found that lots of men like the more technical crafts!




OK so it is a craft book that has made me swoon -"stop being so gushy!" you cry- though in my defence I can say that bringing men folk into the craft fold is something which we've fought for for a long time so it's really more admiration and respect that I feel for what Molla's achieved.
What Molla's managed to do is make craft accessible and that's amazing!

But it's also so much more than just a craft book... her projects are fun, useful and all though I'm not an expert crocheter this has nudged me into wanting to learn more.
Blimey I've even managed to understand what all the abbreviations mean and that was something that had put me off crochet originally... patterns scare me but now I feel that I can actually try a project without coming out in stress hives!
So if it gets someone excited and wanting to explore crochet -or any other craft discipline- then that's gotta be good... Right?!


To order 9781845436421 Crochetterie with a special Craft Guerrilla blog reader discount code for £16.00* including p&p, telephone 01903 828503 and quote offer code QPG452
Or send  a cheque made payable to :- Littlehampton Book Services Mail Order Department, Littlehampton Book Services, PO Box 4264, Worthing, West Sussex BN13 3TG. 

Please quote the offer code QPG452 and include your name and address details. *UK ONLY - Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.






Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Dont get Cross, Cross Stitch!!!

Join us on the 22nd of August for a truly inspired workshop held at the Head & Hands shop communal space in Walthamstow, East London!




Learn the art of subversive cross stitch with us, Craft Guerrilla!
Get crafty and slightly sweary at this friendly workshop, where you'll learn to create your very own expressive cross stitched hoop.
Channel your inner tensions into decorative textiles. Rude, lewd, crude or just plain honest - this workshop is a playful take on the traditional 'home sweet home' sampler.
Instead we celebrate chaos, discord and everyday stresses by keeping our hands busy and making peace with life's micro-aggressions!

The class is all in good humour and during the workshop, participants will be guided through the basics of cross stitching as well as a simple lesson in layout, so you can transfer your design from paper onto fabric.
This workshop promises to be a lot of fun and will also encourage thoughtful and reflective action through creative craft therapy.
All materials, including wall hoop will be provided so you can go away with your very own piece of modern cross stitch art to hang, pride of place in your home.

When
Where
E17 4RT - head & hands 6 - 10 Central Parade, Hoe St, London, E17 4RT
To book your tickets please go to : www.eventbrite.co.uk

Thursday, 14 July 2016

All you need are "Head & Hands"!

I met Amanda Wayne a few years ago and having discussed shop life and the dream of being a small business owner I'm so happy to see that her vision is now a solid one!



Nestled in the new Meanwhile Space "Central Parade"   found in Walthamstow's main commercial artery, Hoe street - it's a mix of incubator start up shops, artist & makers studios, a community café/bakery and also a hot desk space- Amanda's new venture couldn't be more typical of this lady's entrepreneurial spirit and holistic view of the world.




Head & Hands is a space where people are invited to purchase hand made goods (hand picked by Amanda for their quality, charm, beauty and healing properties), experience a head massage and view the work of some amazing makers and artists.
From hand made jewellery, hand made apothecaries, textiles, blended teas, ceramics, illustrated tarot cards to beautifully made macramé wall hangings.
Though this is not solely a shop as the main philosophy behind it is to offer people services which promote and encourage mindful and meditative practices the pieces which are for sale are exceptional as well as beautiful.
I could easily spend a whole heap of cash in there!!!



The premises are compact but welcoming. The space is relaxed and harmonious with a nice flow of energy and grace. You can say it's actually a bit like Amanda!
This artist- come- massage therapist is fully licensed and will treat your mind, body, and soul in her art & therapy salon.
Treatments start from as little as £25 per session and bookings can be made here: headandhands.simplybook.it




We've also heard from Amanda that in future she'll also be organising workshops to help keep those hands busy and heads chilled!
It's been proven that busy hands make for a healthy mind so we're completely on board with this philosophy and we hope to see these workshops up and running soon!!!
This is why I love the concept of this business so much, the offering of holistic well being through creativity is something which resonates with me and I'm sure will with many others too. 

So if you'd like to know more then pop by her little shop or visit the web site.



You can visit Head & Hands at 6-10 Central Parade, Hoe St. Walthamstow E17 4RT.
Open on Monday, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
For full opening times and other information including an online shop visit:
www.headandhands.co.uk


So in a world where emotional and physical well being is many times taken for granted I'm pleased to say that people like Amanda are helping us take back our need for some personal TLC.

Thank you Amanda for offering the community something original and amazing! We wish you luck, though we really don't think you'll need it!


Monday, 4 July 2016

Crochet therapy... 20 mindful, relaxing and energising projects!

Crochet and craft have in general been perceived as nothing more than a twee pursuit, hobbies for housewives, the domain of nans or past times for expectant mothers but thanks to a new generation of makers and health practitioners it is also being regarded as a viable therapy!


To say that Craft saved my life would not be an exaggeration. You see, let me explain, during the mid 1990's I went through something quite difficult in my life, some sort of P.T.S.D. which left me with agoraphobia, anxiety and debilitating panic attacks.
It was tough and though I tried lots of things the one thing which helped me more then any pharmaceutical was crafting!
Not that I am by any means advocating that drugs don't work -they can be a life saver for many people with mental health issues so please don't stop if you are being treated!- but for me it happened to be a mixture of meditation, counselling and making that pulled me out of the abyss.
Though it was predominantly crafting that helped me through a dark time I encourage anyone facing similar issues to see their GP for help and advice. Everyone is different so please seek help from a health professional!




The basic idea of this book is that you work on one of twenty suggested projects whilst employing mindfulness-based meditative techniques.

Projects and exercises are grouped according to a different outcome. There are projects for relaxation, focus, refreshment, perseverance, and even for crocheting with others to celebrate friendship and the support of a community group!
I love the Friendship Quilt made up of tiny individual flowers (pictured below) and I think it's a fantastic symbol of just how important and lovely individual friends can be and how together their help and love becomes even more powerful!
Looking at this quilt knowing that your friends helped to make it must transpose a feeling of love which is pretty awesome especially at times when you're not feeling great so this will serve as a gentle but powerful reminder. I really love this and hope to make my own too!


Funnily enough this was what prompted me to start the craft nights back in 2008. Crafting with others in a group gave me back my confidence and pretty much helped me get rid of the agoraphobia. Though it's something which never entirely goes away when I feel the mega stress monster knocking at the door I turn to crafting! It's something I've been advocating for years so this book just confirms that Craft Does Work!!!




So why crochet in particular and not just craft?
Well the idea of bringing together mindful meditation and crochet makes sense. Personally I love the repetitive and hypnotic nature of movements in crocheting. It's something which I find calming and centring. Plus working on one discipline can be better than dipping in and out of several crafts so allowing your mind to easily follow and flow withing one basic skill and movement.

And there’s been a lot of credible evidence on the benefits of mindfulness based therapies for a variety of problems including depression and anxiety.
If you'd like to read more about this follow this link...




The overall consensus on the project variety is that it's good.
From stress-balls to shawls as well as basic mandalas and other simple projects like friendship bracelets which are great for absolute beginners!
I can confirm that the patterns are clear and well laid-out so not scary at all and as a basic crocheter you'll have to take my word on that! I might not attempt the other more advanced projects just yet but I'm planning on having a look on line for a couple of refresh tutorials before I continue.
The book design is fresh and friendly too so even if you're feeling a bit out of your comfort zone the book in itself will calm you right down...
actually it's a bright and friendly looking book so it also works on the visual part of the brain which can make you feel happy. And calm!
Well looking at pretty, colourful things always makes me happy!

And if you've never crocheted before there's lots of help at the back where the author has added the basics including how to hold the hook and yarn to find the perfect tension to get you going. Plus I must reiterate that the benefit also comes from the actual physical making so don't get too hung up on how precise or accurate it is. It might be the perfect excuse to join a class or even get a few crocheting friends around for an evening!





The meditation exercises are simple and well explained but as the author suggest recording them on your phone might be a good idea as it'll help keeping a natural flow instead of stop starting to read what you need to do next.

If meditation isn't your thing then I'd stick to doing the projects with an open mind and an end goal of achieving them so to feel the sense of completion.
Quiet contemplation will naturally happen as you proceed so don't get in a tangle if you think it's not your scene because you will reap the benefits no matter what!
Besides you'll make some lovely things too so... win win!




Crochet Therapy was written by Betsan Corkhill a physio turned well-being coach, who’s made it her life mission of bringing the holistic benefits of crafting to the public psyche.
Her background as a physical therapist is perfect for understanding the effects of the small physical movements involved in knitting/crochet.
She's also the founder of Stitchlinks, an organisation created to bring creative therapy and yarn based crafts to a wide range of people.


If you'd like to order your very own copy with a special Craft Guerrilla blog reader discount then here's your chance to nab a copy...

To order 9781845436421 Crochet Therapy for £10.00* including p&p, telephone 01903 828503 and quote offer code QPG442
Or send  a cheque made payable to : Littlehampton Book Services Mail Order Department, Littlehampton Book Services, PO Box 4264, Worthing, West Sussex BN13 3TG. 

Please quote the offer code QPG442 and include your name and address details. 

*UK ONLY - Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas."