Archive | February, 2013

Tutorial – Blocking a Knitted Scarf – The Soak & Spin Method

20 Feb

As I move on to more robust and chunky woolen knits, I find that the steam method of blocking just isn’t up to scratch.

This scarf was more of a tube than a rectangle...

This scarf was more of a tube than a rectangle…

Maybe the wool isn’t getting wet enough to be reshaped properly or I’m not leaving the scarf pinned in place for long enough?

Either way I thought it was time to take the plunge and try a new approach – the soak and spin method!  I’ve been far too cowardly to try this in the past for fear that my scarf unravels or felts into a big fuzzball before my eyes.  However,  seeing as my last scarf decided to fold in on itself in such a stubborn fashion, I knew that my usual Steam Method just wouldn’t cut it.

I found this method after perusing many crafty articles online and decided to share my own experience and my own take on it:

Blocking – The Soak & Spin Method

You will need:

A bedGreyScarf2[1]
A lot of dress making pins
A washing machine
A basin or bucket
Wool detergent
A pillowcase

1. Following the instructions on your wool detergent, fill a basin or bucket with the appropriate amount of detergent and luke warm water and pop the scarf in to soak for about 10 minutes.

GreyScarf3[1]2. Roll the scarf up carefully in the water and remove from the bucket.  Empty and refill the bucket with clean water before popping the scarf back in to rinse.  Give the scarf a gentle swirl before re-rolling it up and squeezing as much water as you can out of the scarf.  Be careful not to twist the scarf and support it as much as possible as you get rid of the excess water.

3. Put your rolled up scarf into the bottom corner of the pillowcase and tie a strong knot to ensure that it can’t move around.  Pop the pillow case into the washing machine for a fast spin cycle.  [Optional – Sit with a cup of tea and worry frantically that your scarf has somehow escaped from the pillowcase and is now getting into a right mess in your washing machine – this won’t actually happen, but I couldn’t help but stress the first time I did this!]

This pic isn't necessary - I just always thought looking into a washing machine whilst on spin was mesmerizing!

This pic isn’t necessary – I just always thought looking into a spinning washing machine was mesmerizing!

4. Once the spin has finished, take the scarf out and gently unfold it onto the towels – I find it easiest to spread the towels out onto my bed so no one should accidentally step on it!  Gently shape the scarf into your desired width and length before pinning it down – the more pins the better to ensure it retains its shape.

5. Leave for a good few hours to ensure that the scarf has completely dried.  Ideally do this in the morning and leave all day, or if you have a spare room then leave it overnight.GreyScarf5[1]

I was so happy when I pulled the scarf out of the pillowcase and discovered it hadn’t miraculously untangled – I don’t know why I had been so nervous about attempting this method before!  There’s actually not a lot of work involved and giving your scarf a proper wash means it smells especially nice and fresh!

GreyWoolScarf2This Grey Wool Ribbed Scarf was knitted using 100% British wool from Suffolk and is available to purchase in my Etsy shop.

Ruffle Scarf Sale!

15 Feb

I’ve gone a little overboard with the knitting over the last few months and find myself with a cupboard exploding with ruffle scarves in a rainbow of colours!

Seems to me like the perfect excuse for a sale, so I’m offering 20% off all of my ruffle scarves and scarflettes for the next two weeks!

So what if spring is supposedly approaching?  I wear my own pink and purple ruffle scarf most of the year (I do live in Scotland after all) and it’s always winter somewhere around the globe!

These ruffle scarves are 100% acrylic and come in a range of colours to match your style.  The layered yarn creates waves of textured ruffles and is slightly stretchy – not to mention soft and comfortable to wear.  In addition to full length scarves, I also have a number of shorter scarflettes which come with their own coordinating scarf pin.

All of my ruffle scarves have been automatically reduced by 20% until midnight on 28th of February (GMT), so there’s no need to worry about entering coupon codes – the hard work has already been done for you.

So if you’re looking for a special birthday present, getting ready for Christmas ridiculously early, or just want to treat yourself – head on over to my Etsy shop sale!

What’s in a Name?

11 Feb

I’ve been thinking about it, putting it off, and then thinking about it some more…it may be time to change my shop name!

There are a number of reasons I have come to this conclusion, namely:

  • Candy trees are the name of lollipop centrepieces (which I don’t sell), however there are many companies out there that do sell them, and quite often have ‘Candy Tree’ in their name!
  • The name isn’t available on Etsy or many other sites I use, hence the use of ‘125’ at the end – this means that if people just search for The Candy Tree, they will no doubt find one of these other companies before they find me.

I’ve been putting off this name change because it will involve a lot of hard work – I will need to make sure that Etsy, Twitter, Facebook, etc all have the name available and I would like a .com and as well… and that’s once I finally decide on a name!

I originally wanted my name to be something clever, perhaps a play on words or even a Scottish word that meant something related to crafts, knitting or handmade, however that was proving too difficult!

I’ve now gone in a completely different direction and may end up using a more personal name – something that takes me back to my childhood and is definitely unique to me.  I don’t mean to sound so mysterious but I would hate to post the name here before I’m ready to purchase my domains, only to find some evil person buys it up for themselves!

It may be a little while before I take the plunge – I still have a lot of business cards, thank you cards and earring cards with my Candy Tree branding and I don’t want the whole lot to go to waste… so for now, watch this space!!

Question Mark, Ipswich, 13 December 2012

Photo by ed_needs_a_bicycle

If you’ve had to change your Etsy shop name for whatever reason, I would really love to hear how it went – how did you tackle updating all of your social media pages and links?  Did you run into any trouble along the way?  Please leave your comments below!

The Magical World of Lampwork

8 Feb

I recently discovered the magic of lampworking – using a torch to create glass beads.

Using a blowtorch, glass rods can be melted onto a mandrel to create colourful beads of wonderfulness!  The glass comes in a rainbow of colours and an amazing array of techniques can be used to create dots, lines, speckled patterns and mosaics (to name just a few).Beads

I had come to Helen’s studio (who has her own Etsy shop selling wonderful glass beads and unique jewellery) for my first lesson.  After a hesitant start (the blowtorch looked quite threatening!) I started to loosen up and really enjoyed using the intense heat to melt the glass into my desired shape.  I had a half day lesson which was by no means long enough to enable me to master anything, but I started to get a feel for the glass and how to get it to do what I wanted (most of the time!).  I cannot wait to get back behind the blowtorch and practice my newly discovered techniques – especially when the finished and annealed beads arrived through the post and I saw for the first time my little creations – each one was a miniature work of art and because of their handmade nature, they are each one of a kind.RainbowLampworkBracelet3

I had been waiting with great anticipation for my beads to arrive in the post and as soon as they did I got straight to my beading table to create a new bracelet.  I had managed to make a range of rainbow beads encased in clear glass and I loved the finished effect (as you know I have a thing for rainbows!).  I was originally going to keep the beads for myself but the way I see it, if I sell this bracelet it means I can pay for more lessons.  Before I even managed to get it listed in my shop, my partner’s mum spotted it and just had to have it!  Not only has my bracelet found a home, but I’ll still be able to see it from time to time.

GoldBeadEarrings1I’ve also made a pair of 14k gold filled earrings using the shiny, metallic effect beads that Helen and I made – I absolutely love how they turned out.  Helen made the two larger beads, and I made the two smaller ones, so it made sense to create an alternating design with one of each colour on each earring.  If you’re interested in buying these one of a kind earrings, simply click on the photo above for more info.

I cannot wait to be able to set up my own lampworking studio – I’ve definitely caught the bug – but for now I’m more than happy to continue my lessons – thanks again Helen!

Etsy Love – Vidar Jewelry

6 Feb

Next up in my Etsy Love series is Roi and Liron who run Vidar Jewelry where they sell their stunning collection of wedding and engagement rings.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself and where the inspiration came from to start your Etsy shop. 

il_570xN_401783163_lw24It all began with our marriage proposal. Roi decided to surprise Liron with a marriage proposal. At first he did not have any clue about rings and jewelry. Luckily for him, his friend told him about a little business that belongs to a kind goldsmith. The marriage proposal was perfect and surprising, just as it should have been. When we wanted to buy a wedding ring, we knew positively we would turn to the same goldsmith from which Roi bought our engagement ring. When Liron entered the goldsmith’s studio, she was absolutely enchanted. She always had a weakness for working tools and she could use her hands to accomplish any task. At that exact moment, she knew her goal in life – designing jewelry.

We went to India for our honeymoon, where we took a motorcycle tour to the Himalayas, which was quite an extreme vacation. During one of our stops in Dharamsala – an inspiring place with a lot of interesting courses – Liron took a goldsmithing course. We gained there a lot of knowledge and tools and got back home. We opened our business and made our first steps in the jewelry business.

2. Do you have a favourite piece? Tell us about the thought process involved in creating it and why it is your favourite.

This is our favourite picece:il_570xN_354934684_kivu

Why it’s our favorite set?

Our jewelry is very expensive and one day our client really wanted to buy this set but he had no money to pay, so instead of doing this to her in gold and diamond we made her a  replica and we used silver and zircons.  Then we realized that no matter who is in front of us we will do fine jewelry for each and every budget that the person has.  We love to make people happy and to see them excited about our jewelry.

3. What is it that makes your shop unique?

We use 3D technology to design our jewelry. This digital technology allows us to achieve very complex designs, and thanks to it we can do everything we want.  It also gives us the opportunity to design each piece of jewelry to the client’s budget.

4. What’s next in the pipeline?

We see our future leading designers in the wedding engagement rings industry. We want to travel to exhibitions around the world and show our special designs.

5. Tell us something about you or your shop that you haven’t previously shared!

Do you know the saying: “The shoemaker goes barefoot” – This is exactly what describes us.  We hardly wear jewelry and just want to make people happy with the talent given to us.

6. And finally, let us know where we can find you.il_570xN_374232418_mbcf






Thanks for sharing with us, Roi & Liron!  Your shop contains some truly beautiful rings and it must be a wonderful feeling to know you are helping to create magical moments for couples around the globe!