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25 February 2014

How to write an About page

Writing an 'About' page for a blog/website is never easy. When I sat down to re-write mine as part of my blog and business rebrand, I hit a huge brickwall - thud! I then proceeded to fill my blogging notebook with numerous different versions, some turning into the start of an autobiography. It got messy, so I turned to the internet for some advice.
I read loads of posts on the topic, which totally helped me get started and I finally wrote my About page. I'm sure it will evolve again. In fact, I'd be cross with myself if it didn't - life continually changes, so a blog, brand and business should too. Being stagnant isn't good for the soul!

Anyhoooo, I thought I'd share what I learnt and what seems to be the general consensus out there on writing an About page.

1) Start by introducing your blog/website/brand/shop, telling your reader straight away what your blog etc is and what they can expect to find. 

2) Entice your readers in to stay (and follow you). For example, say why you stand out from other blogs.

3) Don't write an essay or produce a long list of '30 things about me' - people will never read that far and instead get bored and click away.

4) Put your contact details and ensure the link to your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc accounts are easy to link to.

Now, I don't know about you but I quite like reading those "things you might not know about me". I think they give a bit of personality to a blog/website. So, I've decided to do a list of ten random facts about me, which I'm linking to from my About page for those who like to read a bit more. I always like a balance of professionalism and personality, so I'm giving it a go.

I hope that's useful to those of you who, like me, struggled with what to include.


10 things about me


1) I'm a 30 something Librarian by day. Yes, I do wear reading glasses. No, I don't wear a bun.

2) In another life I would have been either a backing dancer for Tina Turner or a drummer in a rock'n'roll band.
3) I once, at a young age (very young, I hasten to add!), went to school in my pjyamas because I was convinced they were leggings with a matching top. Never ever did I repeat that.

4) Years ago I did a dj-ing course where I learnt how to mix vinyl, not cds. For my final piece, I mixed early Tina Turner (yes, I am a fan) with some Count Five, much to the surprise of the teacher and the entire class. I think it went down well?!

5) I do a mean impression of Sivio from the Sopranos.

6) I absolutely abhor offal (except in pâté), e-books, stilton, desiccated coconut, and glacé cherries.

7) I absolutely love every flavour of crisps, avocados, cheese (except stilton - see above), record players, card and board games, victorian houses, the colours turquoise, magenta and mustard, veggie patches, brightly coloured doors.

8) My biggest two fears? Heights and public speaking.

9)  I'm obsessed with the 1985 tv series of Anne of Green Gables.

10) The last pet I owned was one guinea pig called Maggie and a rabbit named Cosmic Star Dust. They lived together for a very long time. Oh and yes, I was having a big David Bowie phase at the time of naming the rabbit.

20 February 2014

New Stockist: Bird in Borrowed Feathers

Eeeek, exciting news alert! I've got my first ever bricks and mortar stockist!!
My rings, cufflinks and earring designs are now being stocked by Bird in Borrowed Feathers, a gorgeous shop run by the lovely Hannah and Georgie. They sell a beautiful range of handmade products, both in their shop and online. Just look how cute their shop is!


Thank you so much Hannah and Georgie for stocking my handmade accessories! 



16 February 2014

Blog Gem - Crafting Fingers

I first came across Anna's lovely blog when I discovered she was learning a new craft each month, which was pretty spectacular! I've been glued to her blog ever since! Want to know more? Me too! 


Hello there, who's the face behind the blog, Crafting Fingers?




It's always hard to think from a third person's perspective and introduce yourself, isn't it? I'm an all-around creative person and have worked as a magazine editor, florist, web developer, and photographer. I love absolutely everything design and craft related, and coding keeps a special place in my heart. In 2013 I learned a new craft every month to challenge myself to be more creative. My husband and I live in beautiful Welsh countryside, but I'm actually Finnish and speak with a soft American accent. 




What's your creative space like? 
A colourful and controlled mess really! After working with so many crafts, it's hard to know where to even begin to categorise everything. Thankfully we have a spare bedroom and I get to keep all my mess in one place. A lot of things in my craft room are from thrift shops, and my favourite crafting chair was actually a freebie from our neighbour. I have my craft books and materials on shelves so it's all easy to access. I really should get it organised better, but I love coming across unexpected combinations of materials and long-forgotten bits and bobs when I'm grabbing things! I love print design so one wall is covered by magazine pages I find inspiring. 




If you had to take only one craft to a desert island, what would it be and why? 
It would have to be sewing. I'm not experienced in it (it was one of my 2013 crafts) but it's such a versatile craft and I don't think I would get bored of it easily! Plus, whatever I need on the island I would be able to sew. Sewing is such a beautiful and practical skill. 




How do you work and get inspired? 
Creative work can really be hit and miss. If I'm in the mood to create, it's easier to follow that urge than to resist. Even if it means working on Sunday! When I'm struggling I like to doodle and brainstorm on paper, or browse Pinterest. Although I think it's good to turn off the computer when you have a bad creative block. Sometimes I think I get blocked from consuming too much!




What top tips would you give to anyone starting a craft blog? 
Write what you care about, or you'll get bored. Quickly. If you've become inspired by some big-name blogs out there, do yourself a favour and look them up on the Wayback Machine.  It's fun to peek at what big blogs used to look like! It's a good reminder that even the big guys started off small. You can have a dream of where you want to go, but don't try to rush it. You never know where your journey will take you. There's no standard ladder to climb in blogging. (And looking at how big blogs have grown is a good way to learn from their lessons!)




Is there a story behind the name 'Crafting Fingers'?
When I started my blog it was to document my crafting journey as I learned a craft each month. I was desperate to get out of a creative rut. Call me cheesy, but when I want to craft my hands literally itch with anticipation! The name 'Crafting Fingers' came from that heartfelt tingling feeling. 




If you could go to a Creative Blog Award dinner with any 5 people/fictional characters (dead or alive), who would you choose? 
I would love to sit down with J.R.R. Tolkien, Albert Einstein, Chris Guillebeau, Tina Fey, and Jane Austen. They all have (or had) amazing perspectives on the world and humanity. The conversation would be brilliant. I think there's a lot to learn from mingling with people across all disciplines, too. I'd love to know how Jane Austen would have written about today's society!



And finally...book & tea or film & wine?
Book and tea, definitely! Milk one sugar, please. ;)

Ooh, thanks so much, Anna! It's been absolutely wonderful hearing more about you and your creative world! What a great point about switching the computer off - it sure can hault the creative process. I can totally related to that heartfelt tingling feeling you get when crafting and I'm sure everyone here can too! It's the best feeling!


I hope you all enjoyed this month's Blog Gem! In March we get to meet a lovely illustrator from up north, so stay tuned and until then, happy blogging!



All of the images and interview answers are the copyright of Anna at Crafting Fingers. Please do not use without seeking permission first. Thank you.

14 February 2014

Love. Music.

One of my first few loves in life was, and still is, music. So, as part of Valentine's Day, I'm sharing some songs, which I have recently discovered and which encourage me to be creative and think up new designs.

 I have to confess, I can't stop thinking about these tunes. They make my heart beat and I want to shout their names from the rooftops. 

It must be love.

Jake Bugg - Slumville
Benjamin Clementine - Cornerstone
Anna Calvi - Eliza
Happy Valentine's Day!

11 February 2014

Tips on buying a sewing machine

I recently bought a new sewing machine. It's a Brother Innovis 350, which is an upgrade from the Janome I started out with. It was a bit of a long, drawn out process as I did a ridiculous amount of research.

I therefore thought I'd share a few tips I picked up for those of you thinking of buying your first sewing machine or upgrading to a new model.


Ask around
Put a message out on twitter and facebook asking if anyone has any recommendations. Not only will you get advice and brand names but you never know, someone might be selling their machine!

Set yourself a budget, stick to it and spend it!
Numerous people advised me to set myself a budget and spend it. In the case of sewing machines, it really is true that the more you spend, the more features you get.


Go to a specialist sewing machine shop!
I tried going to an un-named department store but was told that I would have to buy a machine before I could try it. Not only that but the range of machines was very limited. I could rant about this but I'll save your ears. Instead, ask around and do a few internet searches for your nearest specialist shop. These shops know what they're talking about and will insist that you try any number of machines before you purchase one - they realise how important that element is. And, you don't have to buy a machine despite trying them out first. You can walk away and have a think about it first.

I went to Sew...Northampton, which was my nearest shop and I truly cannot recommend this husband and wife team enough! They were friendly and welcoming, VERY knowledgeable, let me play around on the machines for hours (yes hours!) and when I'd chosen one, they ensured I knew how to thread the machine by demonstrating and getting me to have a go. They also carried my machine to my car for me! Oh and they repair machines too!


Tell the shop owner what your budget is and what specifications you're looking for. 
They will pick out machines in your price range and to your specifications. That helps narrow things down. Also, by saying what your budget is, you never know what offers they might give. 

I managed to get a shop model machine at a vastly reduced price (despite it being in perfectly good working order and still having a 3 year waranty), with a quilting kit thrown in. I had mentioned that I wanted an extension table to give quilting a go in the future.

Go with a good brand
There are lots of good brands out there, so you can't go too wrong if you were to pick one of these:

Bernina
Brother
Elna
Janome
Pfaff
Singer


Warranty and after care
When you do purchase a machine, make sure you've got a good warranty and an after care option. Sew...Northampton allow you to take the machine back within a set time frame if you're not happy with it. They also service machines and encourage you to contact them if you've got any questions about your machine.

I hope that helps but if you have any tips, do leave a lovely comment below :-)
Happy sewing!



7 February 2014

Handmade Valentine Gifts

Valentine's Day is all about being handmade and personalised at Adventures and Tea Parties. There are so many stunning, handmade cards and gifts out there that can sadly get lost under all the piles of tat! I therefore thought I'd share some of the good stuff with you all and well, spread the love! All of these lovely photos have been taken by the designers too. That's right, multi-tasking, lovely, hard working designer-makers. So, why not go support independent, handmade businesses and get something truly unique!


Love Birds 
The Pigeon's Nest


Wooden Heart Earrings
Onetenzeroseven


Tattoo Valentines Heart Brooch
The Dusty Attic.


White and Red Heart Button Hairslides
Miss Beatrix


Macramé Heart Bracelet

Happy shopping!

4 February 2014

A bit about me and my work

I'm a self-taught designer and creator of accessories. I've learnt all my skills through hard work, practice and an overwhelming desire to learn.

My designs reflect my love of colour, pattern and texture.



All of my products are handmade by me, from start to finish. That includes going to local shops to choose fabrics before taking them home and trialing new designs. It's a long process but it's always worth going the extra mile.



I also do all of my own photography, marketing, admin and everything it takes to run a blog and online business. I'm still learning too.

The name and look of 'Adventures and Tea Parties'? 
Well, it reflects those bygone times when we would toddle off down to the bottom of the garden and get lost in our imaginations, creating whole worlds and characters, even having pretend cups of tea with them.... just making everyday an adventure. And each of my designs get sprinkled with that essence of fun and adventure. 




That's the heart of what inspires me and my designs, topped with good ol' foot stomping tunes.


3 February 2014

Free gift!

Hello folks!

To celebrate the launch of the new look to Adventures & Tea Parties, I am giving away a free pair of earrings for the next three people who order something from my Etsy shop




And the small print? Nothing, unless you call choosing whichever pair you like small print! ;-)

Ta ra!

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