2015 Goals ~ January Update

Cherry-Blossom-wall-hanging-with-wooden-tulips---Beak-Up-Crafts

I thought it would be a good idea to revisit the list of goals I set for myself at the start of the year to see how I’m doing. If I know I put it out there and hold myself accountable that I’m more likely to actually get out there and do them than if I never look at them again! Plus I hope it might help you to keep going for your goals – or at least give you a bit of a laugh at my haphazard attempts to learn some new stuff!

So here goes. A month on from New Year’s Day and how are my 2015 Goals looking?

  1. Learn how to weave.
    This one’s not going too badly to be fair. I threw myself into weaving in the first week of January and I’ve got to say I’m really enjoying it. I’ve not tried every single weaving technique yet as it’s very early days, but I’ve made a few wall hangings (which I think look OK!) and I’m looking to add some new things to my weaving arsenal in the coming month. Watch this space!
    Peach-Melba-weaving-wall-hanging---orange---pink---Beak-Up-Crafts Coastline-weaving-close-up---Beak-Up-Crafts Sandstone-weaving-wall-hanging---Beak-Up-Crafts
  2. Make something mega using Hoooked Zpagetti super chunky T-Shirt yarn.
    I haven’t done this yet but I got some T-Shirt yarn and a mega hook when I subscribed to Mollie Makes, so I’ve made the first step, as it were.
  3. Learn calligraphy.
    Absolutely no progress on this whatsoever.
  4. Teach myself/learn how to use my camera in manual mode.
    I was lucky enough to be named as one of the six finalists for Photocraft’s Winter Scholarship to their five-week online photography and styling course. I never expected to win (and I didn’t!) so I’m going to investigate other avenues to learn how to make the switch from auto to manual, as sadly at the moment I can’t afford to pay for the course. Sobs. But I have a few ideas and hopefully there will be more movement on this next month!
    A Beautiful Mess Planner - Beak Up Crafts
  5. Get one of my crochet patterns featured in a magazine.
    No progress yet. I’ve only written one pattern in January (to make these cabled crochet plant pot covers)! Oops, must try harder.
    Cabled crochet plant pot cover - Beak Up Crafts
  6. Attend a big blogging event.
    I haven’t attended an event (I was going to go to a small Blogcademy meet up in the middle of the month but couldn’t afford the petrol from Yorkshire to London – January is a loooong month in between paydays!) BUT as soon as I got paid I bought a ticket for Blogtacular! So halfway there on this one, sort of.
  7. Do regular exercise (as in more than once a week as opposed to none at all!).
    This is something I put on the list because I felt like I had to rather than really thinking I would do it, so no-one will be more surprised than me that I’ve actually started running three times a week! I’ve tried running before (and failed dramatically due to my total lack of fitness) so this time I downloaded a Couch to 5k app which talks me through exactly what to do in a sort of interval training programme. It’s so easy and I’m actually enjoying it! So far so good with this one.
    Couch to 5k trainers - Beak Up Crafts
  8. Completely redecorate/chuck all of the rubbish out of our smallest bedroom (this is basically a junk room which could be so much more).
    This is going really well! After we bought some new sofas before Christmas (which came with a chair that would be perfect for a craft room) Wayne suggested we get on with sorting this room out so it could actually become my craft room. All the junk has gone to either the charity shop or the tip, we have stripped all of the wallpaper and got rid of the manky carpet, had it replastered and are now gearing up to paint it. Phew! When it’s all fitted out I will do a small tour of the room on here – I can’t wait!
  9. Conquer my fear of the sewing machine.
    I still have the fear.
  10. Organise regular crafternoons in Yorkshire with the lovely group of ladies I met at the Yorkshire Crafty Meetup.
    We have pencilled in a date for the end of February. Activity still TBC but all good!
  11. Formulate a plan to turn my hobbies into a business.
    I’ve been working a lot on this too this month! If you would like to find out more about my business idea (and get a free Crochet for Beginners e-course)  then head here. I’m still doing a lot of planning and research and I’m currently reading and ace business book to help me along.
    Craftea Workshops - Beak Up CraftsI’m really excited and while I’ve still got a lot of work to do I can’t wait to share it with you as soon as I can!
  12. Cover the Rugby World Cup (this has been an ambition of mine for years, and I’m a bit cheeky adding it to this list as I know already that I’m going to be covering some games through work!).
    This is WAY later in the year so I’m not worrying about this one at the moment!

So there you go, that’s where I’m at with my goals for 2015. Looking back at my list I don’t think I’ve done too badly for the first month and I’m glad I’ve written it all down as it’s given me a boost. How are you getting on with the things you want to do for this year? Have you ticked anything off your list yet or learned anything new?

Next month I’m expecting not to achieve quite as much as Wayne and I are heading off to (hopefully) sunny Tenerife in a few days for a week of rest and relaxation. I guess I could always pack a sewing machine in my suitcase… ha!

How are you getting on with your goals for 2015? I would love to hear!

Lots of goal-setting love,

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Get a Free Crochet for Beginners E-Course!

 

Craftea Workshops - Beak Up CraftsHello gang!

I’ve got some pretty exciting news to share and I really want to get you involved!

I’ve kind of been dropping some hints for a while on social media but I can now finally tell you (after many hours of getting stressed with website things!) that I’m working on setting up a crafty business – or a Craftea business – and to celebrate I’ve written a free Crochet for Beginners e-course just for you!

So what’s it all about?

It’s very early days but I’m going to be running fun and friendly craft experiences with a little something extra.

I’m aiming to launch in the spring with classes in and around the Yorkshire region with some UK-wide workshops to come shortly after.

Craftea Workshops buttons

The workshops are designed for people who are keen to try new crafts but don’t know where to start, who would like to take a class with their friends or want to organise a crafty party, baby shower or hen do.

The website is www.crafteaworkshops.co.uk and if you head there now you can:

  • Get a free e-course showing you how to get started in crochet, including how-to videos and step-by-step guides
  • Get an exclusive 20% discount code if you make a booking when we launch

I’m excited!

I also really want to design workshops that you want to see – so please let me know what crafts you’re keen to learn!

Craftea Workshops - ball of wool

If you’ve got a minute spare please have a look at my new website, share with your friends and maybe even download the free crochet for beginners e-course - that would be amazing.

Thanks for all of your support so far and for reading and commenting on my blog. You’re all brilliant!

To new craft adventures!

Lots of Craftea love,

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{DIY} IKEA Lack hack ~ Weaving Inspired Table

Laura-Ashley-furniture-painted-table---sofa---cacti---Beak-Up-Crafts Weaving-inspired-table-aerial-view---Beak-Up-Crafts

Wayne and I have gone a bit ‘changing rooms’ in the past few weeks. First of all we ordered some new sofas. Then we decided to paint the chimney breast before the sofas arrived. As we were getting a cuddle chair as part of the deal (think a slightly bigger arm chair for two people to cuddle on, aw!) we then decided this would be best off in my craft room. The only trouble was, my craft room didn’t exist. Well it did, but the small bedroom which we were going to turn into a craft room needed a full makeover – think stripping wallpaper, re-plastering, painting, new carpet and window blind – the works. But I love a challenge and I’ve got to admit, the enticement of a place to put all my craft things was a big incentive (and thanks so much to Wayne whose idea it was!)

IKEA-LACK-hack-Beak-Up-Crafts

It must have been fate then when the lovely people at Laura Ashley asked if I would like to try out their brand new furniture paint. I had been looking for a way to transform an old IKEA table we had into something a bit more stylish so we could start using it again when I hit upon the idea of giving it an update with this design which has been inspired by my new-found love of weaving.

Weaving-and-weaving-inspired-table---Beak-Up-Crafts

Learning how to weave is on my list of goals for 2015 and I’ve been cracking on with it (more to come of that later this month!) and I wanted to create a subtle pattern with a nod to the geometric designs seen in woven wall hangings and tapestries on this old white table.

This DIY is really easy and doesn’t take too long to do at all. In fact, the most time-consuming bit is all of the taping but once you’ve got that down, the painting bit is a breeze.

What You Need:

What-you-need---table-Laura-Ashley-paint-scissors-brush-masking-tape---Beak-Up-Crafts---Weaving-inspired-table

  • An IKEA Lack table – these only cost £5 so are a total bargain – or any table of your choice
  • Masking tape
  • Scissors
  • A paint brush
  • Laura Ashley furniture paint. I used Eau de Nil, which is a kind of soft grey-green colour

How to Make it:

  1. Work out the pattern you want to paint on the table. I made mine up as I went along and used the masking tape to create the patterns found in woven wall hangings, like stripes, triangles and looped textures. The good thing about using masking tape is that it’s so easy to change your mind or take off and use again if you find your lines go a bit wonky! (f you prefer you can always measure your table and mark off on both sides where the tape should go.
    Weaving-inspired-table---use-squares-to-make-triangle-pattern---Beak-Up-Crafts
  2. When sticking the tape on your table take care to press it down firmly at the edges to avoid any paint seeping underneath. Any bits left uncovered will be painted!
    Nice-smooth-edge-with-masking-tape---Beak-Up-Crafts
  3. Create a zig-zag edge by cutting squares of masking tape and sticking them on as below:
    Press-down-the-masking-tape---Beak-Up-Crafts
  4. Make a cross-over style pattern by cutting strips of masking tape and sticking it on the table at a diagonal.
    Weaving-inspired-table,-cut-small-strips-of-tape---Beak-Up-Crafts
  5. Paint the non-covered parts and let the paint dry before giving it a second coat if required.
    Painting-the-table-with-Laura-Ashley-furniture-paint---Beak-Up-Crafts Brush-strokes---Eau-de-Nil---Beak-Up-Crafts Weaving-inspired-painted-table---Beak-Up-Crafts
  6. Carefully remove the masking tape and clean up any seepage with a bit of white spirit.

And that’s it, you’re done. Stand back and admire your handiwork!

Laura-Ashley-painted-IKEA-table---Beak-Up-Crafts Weaving-inspired-table---eau-de-nil-Laura-Ashley-paint---Beak-Up-Crafts

The thing I loved the most about this paint was its texture (and the fact you don’t have to prepare the surface you’re going to paint at all, apart from a quick wipe down). It goes on really easily but if you think it’s a bit too thick for your liking you can just add a splash of water to thin it out.

I did two coats to make sure it would be durable then once it was dry gently peeled the masking tape off.

I’ve got to say, I love our new look table!

I hope you enjoyed this DIY. Have you ever upcycled anything with furniture paint? I’ve painted my craft bureau before but other than that I’m a total newbie. I’d love to hear your top upcycling tips as I have a chest of drawers that I’m eyeing up.

Lots of patterned love,

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Disclaimer: Laura Ashley gifted the furniture paint to me for the purposes of this post. All opinions in this post are my own and are totally honest, as always!

Three Favourite Things to do in Bath

Pulteney-Bridge---river-Avon---weir-in-Bath---Beak-Up-Crafts

I’ve never been to Bath before but when Wayne surprised me on Christmas day with a gift that was a two-night spa break in the city I was really pleased. It’s a place I’ve always wanted to visit and who doesn’t enjoy going to a spa, especially in chilly January?

We had a brilliant time and I think there’s something so nice about exploring places in your home country as they can so easily be overlooked.

Here’s my three favourite things to do in Bath:

1. Wander around the Abbey area and have a pit stop at Sally Lunn’s

Bath-Abbey-roof-detail---Beak-Up-Crafts Bath-Abbey---Beak-Up-Crafts

Bath Abbey is a stunning building and on a sunny day it’s absolutely beautiful. We really enjoyed wandering around this area of the city and getting lost in the small column-lined streets. I had been recommended Sally Lunn’s (which is one of the oldest buildings in Bath) and as they served a range of sweet and savoury treats on brioche style buns we headed there for a pot of tea and a snack.

Sally-Lunn's---Bath---Beak-Up-Crafts Milk-jam-and-bun-at-Sally-Lunn's---Bath---Beak-Up-Crafts

We tried a bun with milk jam, which is like caramel, and it was absolutely delicious.

2. Check out The Rec, home of Bath Rugby

Sadly there wasn’t a game on while we were in the city, but Wayne and I both loved having a look at Bath’s rugby ground which is right by the river Avon and close to Pulteney Bridge.

Bath-Rugby-posts---The-Rec---Beak-Up-Crafts Bath-Rugby-Badge---Beak-Up-Crafts

In-the-tunnel-at-the-Rec---Bath-Rugby---Beak-Up-Crafts

You get there after a nice walk along the river and I don’t know if you’re allowed to just wander in and have a look, but we did and it was pretty cool! We also spotted probably Bath’s most famous player later on that day, but more on that soon…

3. Relax at the Thermae Spa

We had to make a choice between going to look at the Roman Spa or relaxing in a modern one and we chose the latter. The Thermae Spa is right in the middle of the historic city with views of the abbey from the rooftop pool. There’s also a whole floor dedicated to steam rooms (with four to choose from) and an indoor pool (which was sadly closed for renovations when we were there).

http://scarlettlondon.com/bath-thermae-spa/

You can’t take photos inside the spa – and trying would probably ruin your camera anyway – hence the photo above is borrowed from Scarlett London! We stayed for a couple of hours and enjoyed floating around in the rooftop pool, which started to light up as it went dark. TOP TIP: If you use the Vouchercloud app you can get three hours for the price of two at the spa. Midweek afternoons are apparently the quietest time at the spa.

Other things we loved:

The Cream Teas!

Cream-tea-at-the-Bridge-Coffee-Shop-in-Bath---Beak-Up-Crafts Magazines-at-The-Bridge-Coffee-Shop-Bath---Beak-Up-Crafts

After a couple of hours of walking around we decided to stop for some food, and as we were on Pulteney Bridge we headed inside The Bridge Coffee Shop. The cream tea was great, but beware as at this place, for one cream tea you get two scones with jam and cream and a pot of tea for one – so enough food for two! Wayne ordered a cream tea each but we soldiered on and ate all four scones anyway. While we were scoffing we spotted Bath player Sam Burgess crossing the bridge. Sadly my belly was too full of cake to chase after him for a selfie.

There was also a really lovely shop next door selling plants and flowers.

Spring-plants-and-bulbs-on-Pulteny-Bridge---Bath---Beak-Up-Crafts

The Royal Crescent

It took a bit of finding (even though Bath is a fairly small city!) as we weren’t really paying too much attention to road names or just the direction we were walking in. However, when we got there I’ve got to say the Royal Crescent was pretty impressive – and so much bigger than I had imagined.

Curve-of-the-Royal-Crescent---Bath---Beak-Up-Crafts Royal-Crescent-street-sign---Beak-Up-Crafts The-Royal-Crescent---Bath---Beak-Up-Crafts

Other things we did:

  • Spent way too much money in the Anthroplogie store.
  • Went for an early morning run past Bath cricket ground and around Henrietta Park.
  • Had some cheap eats at The King of Wessex pub.
  • Relaxed and read in our HUGE corner room at the new Premier Inn. I can really recommend this hotel as it was new, clean, in a great central location with one of the comfiest beds I’ve ever slept in.

Angel-in-the-park---Bath---Beak-Up-Crafts The-Pump-Room---Bath---Beak-Up-Crafts Have you been to this spa city before? What are your top Bath tips?

Lots of West Country love,

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How to Take Great Photos of your Products

minimal product styling - Lyndsey James - Beak Up Crafts

Photography is so important for your website, blog and products. It’s an area that I’m focused on improving this year as all of the sites I love have bright and clear photos and that’s what I want to have too.

I was lucky enough to be shortlisted for Photocraft’s Winter Scholarship to their flagship e-course ‘Take photos that sell’ (Sadly I didn’t win, but thank you so much to everyone who voted for me!) However, Lyndsey James, the super-talented photographer who runs the course, kindly let me ask her some questions.

In this exclusive interview Lyndsey will tell you:

  • How to take your product photography to the next level
  • What the current trend is for product photography
  • Where to get inspiration from to style a photo shoot
  • If you need a DSLR camera in order to take amazing photos
  • The biggest thing people get wrong when photographing their products
  • Why Pinterest and Instagram are so important

Lyndsey James - Beak Up CraftsInterested? I thought so!

Lyndsey’s ‘Take photos that sell’ e-course is now a year old and just this week she launched its fifth run. She is currently teaching a group of students all about photography and also recently launched the Creative Brew forum, which is a place for creative business owners to hang out and chat about all sorts of business and non-business stuff online. Lyndsey is also getting married in June so has a busy few months ahead, but she took some time out of her hectic schedule to have a chat with me, so thank you Lyndsey!

I hope you enjoy this interview and I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.


cupcake - Lyndsey James - Beak Up Crafts

Hi Lyndsey, thanks so much for talking to me today. Firstly, what are the three most important things for people to consider when photographing their products?
Hi Kate, it’s my pleasure! I would say that lighting, composition and props are the top three, of course there is much more to think about but get those three right and you are usually onto a winner.

What is the current trend for product shots?
I’m seeing a lot of flat lighting and muted colours at the moment, so nothing too dramatic or high contrast. Props are shrinking compared to what we used to use, and becoming more abstract and artistic too. For example where previously we might have used a jug of glorious blooms in a background we might now use a single bloom or just a petal or two. Compositions are too becoming more abstract and linear which I like, subjects positioned in rows or creating pretty patterns.

blooms on set - flat lighting and muted colours - Beak Up Crafts

How would people start going about replicating this look at home?
I always encourage my students to develop their own style and be confident enough to stick with it, because it’s another way of standing out in a crowd and saying ‘hey this is my brand’. However if you want to recreate that minimalist look it’s pretty easy really, add your props one at a time like you would add seasoning to a dish until you feel it is just right, each prop needs to add something to the image, otherwise ditch it. Use soft diffused light for the less dramatic look, and look for neutral tones for your backdrops.

How would you suggest people get inspiration for styling a shoot or what they want their finished photo to look like?
Pinterest is a fabulous place to look, especially if you follow magazines and publishers who have an abundance of images pinned which are bound to spark some inspiration. Collect some images into a board and really study them to establish exactly what it is that you like about the style. Is it the lighting? The colours? The props? This will enable you to easier replicate the feel of the shot in your own photography.

Mood board on Pinterest - Lyndsey James - Beak Up Crafts

Is it possible to get great pictures on a smartphone or compact camera, or is a DSLR the only way to go?
Yes and many people do, but there is a reason us pro photographers generally don’t use a smartphone, and trust me it would be a lot easier than carrying loads of heavy kit!

You have various elements that you control in a photo and some are improved with better kit.
So for example your styling – that isn’t affected by the tech you use so you could capture a beautifully styled image shot on your smartphone.

Your composition isn’t improved either, it is what it is, whatever kit you use.

Your lighting skills are not improved with a better camera, however the kit will determine how well the detail and tones are captured in different light scenarios so you would see a distinct difference between how a phone and DSLR capture light. Your kit will also determine how much you can control the level of blur, how close you can get, how well your colours reproduce, the size and detail of your final image, and your ability to capture or control motion in a photo.

Of course then there are so many different levels of DSLR and lenses/flashguns and other accessories, which is a minefield to the beginner. You will know when you need to upgrade when your kit can’t achieve the effect you are after. For example if you are frustrated that you can’t get close enough to your subject, then you need a macro lens with a shorter minimum focus distance. And this is why photographers have so much kit, they want to be able to control every little detail of a photo and cope with all scenarios.

neutral background - Lyndsey James - Beak Up Crafts

What is the biggest thing people get wrong when photographing their products?
I’d say a lack of consistency. When faced with an online shop the viewer needs simplicity, too many confusing photos shot all at different angles with different props and they will most likely go elsewhere.

I don’t know about you but I have to be in a certain frame of mind to tackle a flea market or buy on ebay, there is so much to look at, it’s hard work on the brain! However a minimal store where everything is easily found is so much easier. It’s the same with shopping online and this comes back to your photography.

If you make a collection of one type of item in different patterns or colours, don’t photograph them all in different ways, keep something consistent throughout the whole collection and make it easy for the buyer to decide between the products on offer. It may seem boring but you will find customers stick around much longer when they don’t have to figure out if two products are the same size or not.

Lyndsey James office - Beak Up Crafts

How important is it to have a presence on Pinterest and Instagram and do you have any specific advice for maximising this please?
Pinterest is a HUGE search engine, so getting great photography on there of your products is essential for anyone who makes beautiful things. There are millions of users looking for gift ideas, outfits, decorations, products for their homes, their nurseries, parties and more and many people (myself included) use pinterest when looking for anything and everything, whether it is products to buy or recipes/how to’s.

This week alone I have searched for tips on removing a stain from wood, searched for bridal shoes, searched for a chicken soup recipe, and a valentines gift …so you see your product will be exactly what someone is searching for right now on Pinterest. If you haven’t already, install the pin it button asap in your web browser, then pin every photo from your website or online shop. Then go back to each pin in Pinterest and edit it to include all the descriptive keywords you can about your product.

adventure awaits - Beak Up Crafts

As for Instagram I would say that is a great place for story-telling, for behind the scenes photos, sneak peeks, giveaways, so yes equally essential to have great looking photos on there but for a different purpose, to gain a loyal customer base.


What a great interview and lots of amazing tips and advice from Lyndsey! I really hope you enjoyed reading it and learned something which you can use to make your product photography even better.

If you would like to find out more about the courses that Lyndsey runs (and get a £100 discount off her flagship five week e-course!) then carry on reading.

Lots of photography love,

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Photocraft - Beak Up Crafts

Lyndsey James is the founder of Photocraft®, an online photography school for creative business owners. A commercial photographer by trade Lyndsey now teaches designers, makers, bloggers and bakers to develop their own style, take their own great photos and boost their businesses through awesome photography.

Photocraft offer two-hour mini tutorials on photographing specific subjects such as jewellery or knitting, and their flagship five week e-course called ‘Take Photos that Sell’ which attracts all sorts of creative businesses worldwide. If you are lucky you can attend a live event too, Lyndsey and her team host photography workshops and residential breaks for creatives, but they sell out fast!

‘Take photos that Sell’ started again just this week so if you fancy joining the class and catching up on the first few days of lessons, use promo code ‘catchup’ when ordering for £100 off, but be quick the classroom closers to latecomers on Saturday!

You can find Lyndsey speaking at craft events around Europe on the importance of great Photography and she has made guest appearances at events for Etsy, Folksy, Triumph, Kirstie Allsopp’s handmade fair, Craft Central, and Enterprise Nation.

Links:
www.lyndsey-james.co.uk
www.photocraft.org
www.pinterest.com/lyndseyjames
https://twitter.com/LyndseyJames
http://instagram.com/lyndseyjamesphotos

{Five Minutes With} Lowri Harris ~ little maldod

little maldod button vest - Beak Up CraftsHello again, it’s time for another lovely dose of creative business inspiration! Today I’m talking to Lowri Harris, who is the designer-maker behind little maldod and makes gorgeous bespoke gifts for babies, children and new mums.

I love Lowri’s designs so much and her Instagram feed is rather lovely too! Lowri is a busy mum of two and works part-time to create gorgeous clothes for little ones and pretty decor for their rooms or nurseries. She’s also kindly offered a 10% discount to all Beak Up Crafts readers in her online store until the end of January, so read on for more details!

Lowri Harris - little maldod - Beak Up CraftsI hope you enjoy this interview and finding out more about this fantastic small business, along with some top tips and advice if you’re thinking of starting your own handmade company.


Hi Lowri! Firstly how did you come up with the idea for little maldod and how long have you been in business? Also please can you tell us a little about how you came up with the name for your company and what it means?

Hi Kate! little maldod is the result of years of dreaming of having a creative business. I’ve always been creative, I took Art A level (I wish I’d taken it further) and have made gifts for friends and family for as long as I can remember.

When I left University and ended up working in various office based jobs, I knew more than ever that I wanted to put my creative side to work.

It wasn’t until I faced going back to work, following the birth of my son, that I realised how uninspired I was working in an office and that I really wanted to combine motherhood with a creative business. So after A LOT of talking it over with family my sister (lovingly) challenged me to “stop talking about it and just do it!”

little maldod wrapping - Beak Up CraftsMy husband and I had been bowled over by the generosity of friends and family who gave us such thoughtful, special gifts when our son was born. Some of the most treasured gifts were ones that were bespoke, personalised and made especially for him.

At the time I’d also been making gifts for friends who’d had babies so it seemed the obvious starting place for my own business.  So, in November 2013, five months after returning to work part time as a first time mum and pregnant with our second child, I opened the online doors of my shop little maldod.

You’re not the first person to ask about what the name means! One of the stumbling blocks when I was about to start was finding a business name. I wanted a name that meant something to me and that represented the business and brand too.

Maldod is a word that I grew up with, it’s a Welsh word which I remember hearing from a young age. Colloquially it means comfort/love/looking after/a bit of TLC. I can remember when I was a little girl my Dad sat on the sofa, opening his arm up, inviting me to cuddle up next to him and saying “come and have a bit of maldod.” When I remembered about this word randomly one afternoon in the middle of giving my son his tea, I instantly knew it was the right name for the business.

little maldod umbrella vest - Beak Up CraftsPlease could you tell us a bit more about what you make and how you come up with new designs?

One of the main things I make are personalised baby vests and t-shirts for toddlers. I hand print them with designs from my ever increasing stamp collection. I often find that new designs happen by accident and when I’m not expecting them to or originate from customer requests. For example the Rainbow Rain vest was the result of me digging out an old stamp my mum had given me and having a quick play with some new inks one afternoon.

I also make gifts for the nursery such as personalised framed prints and bunting. In the autumn last year I also started to make and sell items that I’ve found really useful as a Mum, such as a breastfeeding covers and travel changing mats.

What does an average day look like for you?

I work part-time on little maldod as my main job right now is looking after my two little ones. When I reopened the shop last August after having my daughter in March, it took quite a while to find the right balance between motherhood and working on the business – trying to squeeze in making orders and getting to the post office around nap times just wasn’t working!

Eventually I realised I needed to dedicate set times in my week to work on the business. Since doing this I’ve found my time in the work room a lot more enjoyable and productive. It usually starts with a to-do list; making up and packaging orders; checking stock and ordering supplies if I need them; photographing new designs and products; planning new ideas for the shop and how to market them and responding to customer emails.

little maldod pictures - Beak Up CraftsWhat has surprised you the most about running your own creative business and is there anything you would do differently if you were to start again?

I launched the business in November 2013 and was very quickly thrown into a frenzy of Christmas orders. It was wonderful to be so busy so quickly but I was surprised how much hard work it was straight away. Whilst I’d always dreamed of having an income from being creative I hadn’t realised that it would involve a LOT of hard work, long hours and late nights.

When I first started I was nervous about pricing my products and often didn’t properly take into account the time I was spending on things. Unfortunately I think its a common problem for creative small businesses. If I were to start again I would do more reading up on the business side of things (I joke that my business minded sister should handle that side of things for me!) to make sure the late nights are really worth it.

What has been your proudest moment to date with your business?

When I first started the majority of my customers were from supportive friends and family. It wasn’t until I had my first order from a complete stranger that it really felt like a proper business, as scary as it was I was hugely proud of what I had achieved.

I absolutely love having customer feedback too and always feel very proud when I read an email or message from someone saying how happy they are with an order and something that I’ve made.

little maldod Lowri Harris - Beak Up CraftsHave you set yourself any targets for the future and what’s in the pipeline?

Long term I would love to grow the business so that when my children eventually go to school (sobs a little) I can dedicate more time to making an income from being creative.  Short term I have lots of ideas for new vest and tee designs and some brand new products – there’s lots of exciting things to come this Spring!

I’d also like to explore the possibility of featuring other handmade businesses in my shop. Towards the end of last year I collaborated with a couple of great independent businesses, Poppifleur and Hope and Rainbows, (incidentally both talented Mums doing their thing) and loved stocking their products. I’m very keen to expand the range of gifts I can offer and would love to do this through some more collaborations. The support of the creative community, particularly through Instagram, has been invaluable to me starting out in business and I’d love to do what I can to foster this through little maldod.

Do you have any special discounts or offers for Beak Up Crafts readers please?

Yes, I’d be delighted to offer your readers 10% off all vests and tees until the end of January. They just need to enter ‘ALITTLEBEAKUPLOVE’ at the checkout.


Lowri’s Quickfire questions:

Facebook or Twitter
Facebook (I’m yet to make my first tweet!)

Posh restaurant or Takeaway
Takeaway (can’t beat a curry on the sofa whilst wearing your slippers!)

Paper or Fabric
OH, tough one! Errr….. paper might just clinch it.

The Office or The Office USA
The Office.

Penguin or Polar Bear
Penguin (my favourite animal and watching the John Lewis ad became part of my son’s bedtime routine in December!)

Action or Drama
Drama

City break or Beach holiday
Beach holiday (although when I get there I remember how annoying I find sand)

Gold or Silver
Silver

Lace or Leather
Lace

Sunset or Sunrise
Sunrise (I’m not a morning person but there’s something nice about being awake before everyone else).


How lovely is Lowri and her gorgeous business! I love her handprinted baby vests so much. What a lovely gift they would make for a new baby or for you own little ones.

I hope you enjoyed this feature. {Five Minutes With} will be back in a fortnight where you can find out more about another fantastic small creative business.

If you would like to feature in a future post please get in touch with me at kate@beakupcrafts.co.uk.

Lots of baby love,

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Styling the Seasons ~ January

January-bedside-table---Styling-the-seasons---Beak-Up-CraftsGiven the chance, January can be a bit blah. Cold, dark and grey – you get the picture.

However, I love the start of a new year and the symbolism it brings for a new start, new beginnings and all the positivity that comes with it. It’s a total cliche but who cares? Mapping out your goals for the year and deciding to shed off any negativity is a really empowering thing, and to capture this, for my Styling the Seasons this month I’ve gone bright, light and airy in styling my bedside table.

Mini-windmills-in-a-succulent-pot---Beak-Up-Crafts

The lamp is just a simple, white one from IKEA but I love its minimalist style, while the succulent with the small windmills is to give a pop of colour and remind me that warmer weather is on the way. Wayne and I love heading to the coast so this is a nice way to make me think of the beach!

The small silver dog was a gift from Wayne and looks after my rings and I’ve added the glass jar to hold my trinkets as I love how the light bounces off it for a cosy feel. The mini Valentino perfume is a new scent I’m trying (and I LOVE the bottle) while Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse is my new go-to to keep my skin in shape during the winter months.

Beside-table-perfume---Beak-Up-Crafts

What does January mean to you?

If you would like to take part in Styling the Seasons, which is a challenge created by Katy at Apartment Apothecary and Charlotte from Lotts and Lots, then style a surface and upload an image to social media using the hashtag #StylingtheSeasons.

Lots of January love,

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{Free Pattern} How to Make a Cabled Crochet Plant Pot Cover

Crochet-plant-pot-cover---Beak-Up-Crafts

One thing I love about knitted hats and jumpers is the cabling. It just looks so cosy. I had seen a few pictures of cabling in crochet but it was never something I had tried as I always thought it was probably a bit too complicated. Well, here’s the good news, it’s really not! And to prove it, here’s a free pattern that I’ve written to make this cute cabled crochet plant pot cover. I hope you like it.

Cable crochet close up - Beak Up Crafts

Cabled crochet plant pot cover - Beak Up Crafts

What You Need:

What you need - crochet cable plant pot - Beak Up Crafts

  • Aran or chunky wool in the colour of your choice (I’ve got to be honest, I ran out of the wool I was using after two rows to had to change to another white yarn, but I still think the overall effect looks good!)
  • A 4.5mm crochet hook
  • A plant pot that you want to cozy up!

How to Make it:

Stitches required (in UK terminology):

  • ch – chain
  • dc – double crochet
  • tr – treble crochet
  • ss – slip stitch

Special Stitch:

  • crossed tr (cable stitch) – cross-over long treble
    1. Tr (or ch 3 for the first one – this is replaced by a tr in subsequent cables);
    2. Skip the next st.  tr in the next 3 st.
    3. Working in front of the 3 tr, yarn over and insert your hook into the skipped stitch.  Pull up a loop to the height of the tr.
    4. Yarn over and pull through two loops twice, completing a long tr.
    5. For your next long tr, start with a tr instead of a ch 3, then repeat steps 2-4 and do as many as it takes until you get to the end of your piece.
    6. You will have a st left (if you follow the pattern below and make a chain in multiples of four plus an extra two st). tr into the final st. To start the next row, ch3 and turn.

crochet cross long triple - Beak Up Crafts

  1. The first step is to make a chain, but the length of this depends on the circumference of your pot. I made a ch 52 (plus an extra 2 ch) for my pot (with a tiny bit of a stretch to keep it in place). TOP TIP: This pattern needs chain stitches in multiples of four, plus two extra stitches – one for each end – as that’s how many stitches you need for the cable repeat. So make it: {multiple of four} + 2 = number of ch sts.
    Make-a-chain---Beak-Up-Crafts
  2. Make a row of double crochets into the ch. Start by dc into the second ch from the hook and continue to the end of your ch. Turn.
    Chain-stitch-and-double-crochet---Beak-Up-Crafts
  3. Ch 3. Make crossed tr stitches (as descibed above) until you have one st left. Tr into the final st. Turn.
    Last-crochet-cross-cable-stitch---Beak-Up-Crafts
  4. Repeat round three until your cosy is the right height for your plant pot.
    Crochet-cover-ready-to-assemble---Beak-Up-Crafts
  5. Turn your cosy cabling so the wrong side is facing out and ss up the edges to join them together. When done, turn it back the right way and slip it onto your plant pot.

Crochet-pot-cozy-and-wooden-ladybird---Beak-Up-Crafts Wooden-tulips-in-plant-pot---Beak-Up-Crafts

Wooden-tulips-and-crochet-plant-pot-cosy---Beak-Up-Crafts

I hope you like this pattern! Have you tried cabling in crochet before? I think I’m addicted.

Lots of cabled love,

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Weekly Planner of Craft/Creative Twitter Chats for 2015

Planning - a Beautiful Mess planner and stationery

If you’re on Twitter then chances are you might see the same old hashtags cropping up now and then for various Twitter chats. (If you’re not on Twitter, why not?! It’s a great way to chat to other creative people, share ideas and inspiration and also promote your products/blog!)

Twitter chats fill the same time slot each week and focus on a certain topic. I’m a big fan of these to stay in touch with what’s going on in the craft world while ‘meeting’ new people, seeing new products and just having a chat. I hate it when people just use social media to push their products or blog posts. Of course there’s a place for that but interacting and chatting is what it’s all about!

As it’s the start of a new year I decided to pull together a calendar of the best creative or crafty Twitter chats for a reference (as I ALWAYS forget when they are and tend to come in with about two minutes left!).

All timings for UK unless otherwise stated. Just right click on the photo to save the image or pin it to your Pinterest board!

Creative Twitter Chat calendar 2015 - Beak Up Crafts

  • #crafterminds – For craft bloggers (with a focus on the US) – Mondays 16:00 EST.
  • #fblchat – Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle bloggers – Tuesday 20:00-21:00
  • #handmadehour – For crafters, makers and lovers of handmade – Wednesdays 19:30-21:30
  • #blogtacular – General blogging chat – Wednesdays 21:00-22:00
  • #cbloggers – Creative bloggers – Thursdays 20:30-21:30
  • #socialbloggers – General blogging chat – Saturday 18:00-19:00
  • #CraftHour – A chat for anyone who loves crafts – Sundays 19:00-20:00
  • #lbloggers – Lifestyle bloggers chat – Sundays 19:00-20:00

I hope you find this useful, and if you take part in any of the chats then please tag me in so I can say hello! I’m @beakupcrafts. Also if you know of any others that could be added to the weekly planner please let me know.

Lots of hashtag love,

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{Ask Jo} Should I Copyright My Original Designs?

{Ask Jo} Beak Up Crafts

It’s time for business! I don’t know about you but I’m always itching to get going again in the New Year following the Christmas period even though my job as a sport journalist means I don’t get much time off. A packed sporting calendar means only a few days off here and there, but somehow come January 1 I’m all refreshed and excited about what the new year will bring.

With that in mind (and I’m guessing you might be keen to take the bull that is 2015 by the horns!) here’s the next instalment of my Creative Agony Aunt column by the lovely Jo Parry. Today’s topic covers copyright, watermarking photos and what you should do as a designer-maker.

Copyright is such a tricky subject (I remember just how tricky from my journalism training) and it’s so difficult when other designers seem to ‘borrow’ designs and try to pass them off as their own.

Today’s questions come from a dressmaker who wants to know where they stand with copyright and their work. Over to Jo.


Hi Jo, I was wondering if I should I be considering copyrighting my original patterns? I’m worried they might be copied by other people which would impact my fledgling business.

Hello! Great question. The issue of copywriting is rather complicated so for detailed information you can have a look here – it helps to understand the basics and understand the pitfalls, and it would be good practice to become familiar with the legal situation. Because of the nature of sharing our designs online these days there is always a risk that your ideas are copied, but that has to be weighed against the benefits of having a strong online presence and the business that can bring. Ultimately it’s a bit of a balancing act between the two.

Getting Organised - Blogger Schedule tips - Beak Up Crafts

Do you think water marking my photos that I share on social networking sites is something I should be doing?

I’m in two minds about watermarking, I think it should only be applied if your uploaded images are large and of a higher resolution. Generally though I would recommend not going over 96dpi in resolution for any shared images and keep them thumbnail size, or certainly not at a size that can be reproduced by a third party.

Often it’s useful practice to use cropped versions of full images for example. If you do decide to use watermarks, make sure it’s not easily removed by a third party in photoshop, but balance that against it not being too obtrusive and spoiling the look of your image. If you have a logo, include that in any uploaded photo perhaps, so it is clear you are promoting your own creations.


What do you think? Have you copyrighted your designs? Is adding a watermark or logo to your photographs something that you do in order to protect your business? I would love to hear your thoughts.

If you have any creative business questions for Jo then please drop me a line at kate@beakupcrafts.co.uk and I will forward them on to her.

Lots of business savvy love,

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