Shamballa Bracelet Kits – selling in Sheffield shops

Why wait for the postie?  You can buy our lovely Shamballa bracelet kits right now in 2 fab Sheffield shops: The Vault and Airy Fairy

The Vault on Abbeydale Road, a wonderfully eclectic treasure trove of crafts, vintage goods, furniture, upcycled bits and bobs, handmade wares and other lovelynesses.

Airy Fairy – lovely little oasis of gorgeous goods on London Road.


Far from twee

I get quite frustrated that the majority of craft magazines, blogs and websites focus on what I can only describe as “twee” crafting.  I know everyone’s taste is different and that’s A GOOD THING – but every time I see a pink magazine cover with butterflies on I’m reminded of that IKEA advert about getting rid of your chintz…

Chuck Out Your Chintz from Pentagram on Vimeo.

This guy is the epitemy of not-chintz.  His name is Ben Venom (which gives his taste away a little) and he makes quilts.  Not the American Quilters Association type pretty patches type of quilt, but a demonic, dark and graffitiesque type of quilting which is really quite beautiful.  A little Iron Maiden for me, but I wanted to celebrate the alternative world of not pink and fluffy crafts.

There’s a feature on Ben on CraftGossip with a video of him you might want to check out.
Here’s some of Ben Venom’s work:

Love it, or hate it, it’s not twee….

Vote for the next Gyre & Gimble Kit

So I’ve a few ideas on the go for new Gyre&Gimble create it kits, but I thought it would be nice if you got involved in the development process and told me which of the kits I have planned you would most like to buy.  Whichever one you choose will be the one I get to market next.  Thanking You x

How to create your own Paint by Numbers

According to the very reliable Wikipedia, paint by numbers kits were in introduced by the the Craft Master brand in1951, selling over 12 million kits. The kits said proclaimed, “A BEAUTIFUL OIL PAINTING THE FIRST TIME YOU TRY”, although I’m not sure they’d envisaged a 5 year old me making a complete pigs ear of one I got for Christmas…

The public response to these kits led other companies to produce their own versions of paint by number. I’m going to show you how to create your own.  Well, without the paint….well actually, just the outline picture, but its a start.  The paint mixing bit you’ll have to have a go at yourself – just remember, most skin colours need a bit of blue to make them realistic (even very pale or pinky skinned people).

I love taking portrait photos, and also like to paint portraits, but am bobbins at getting face dimensions right…so here’s how to cheat and create a work of art with a little help.


  • You’ll need Adobe Photoshop for this…or any other photo package that allows you to create a cut out (cartoony type) effect.

I’ll show you two ways of doing this – one give less detail (good for practice runs/kids) the other gives more detail and involves using a Photoshop plug in called Simplify from Topaz Labs

IMPORTANT Remember to use layers in Photoshop so you can turn different images (the original, the cut out version, the outline, the cutout version with the outline on etc) on and off.

The simple way:

  • First find your photo – I nicked one of Mr Beckham from the t’internet which is probably naughty but hey, I’m not saying its mine…
  • Open in Photoshop and copy the background.  Name it Outline.
  • Select the Outline layer and go to Filter – Artistic – Cut out
  • Select these settings: 8 levels, 5 edge simplicity, 1 edge fidelity
  •  Click ok and go back to the Photoshop screen
  • Select the Pencil Tool – set it to 2pt and a mid grey colour
  • Now draw around the chunks of colour.  You can also do this by using the Magic Wand tool and clicking on each area, then selecting Edit>Stroke with 2pts set but I prefer the by hand method.
  •  Do this with each colour section – if you use Stoke, you’ll get duplicate lines in some areas – we’ll tidy these up later.
  • Now you have lines around each colour section you can deleted the colour out of it to leave just the outline.  Use the Magic Wand tool do this.  I turned the background layer off so you can see the deleted sections.
  • Once you’ve deleted all the sections you can tidy up the double outlines – they may come through as you paint over the sections.
  • If you go wrong, use the Pencil tool on 2pt to fill the line back in.
  •  Save your image as a jpg (File, Save As, Jpg).
  • Print it out and paint in the sections 🙂
  • Here’s one I made earlier….I did this with the more detailed version below.  Not exactly perfect, but you can see where I’m going with this…

The more complicated version uses Topaz Lads Simplicity plug in – you can try it out with a 30 day trial here. 

  •  Open the file in Photoshop and choose Filter>Topaz Labs
  • Faff about with the settings until you get something that looks like it has lines drawn around the colour changes – but with more detail than in Photoshop Cut Out.  Not being deliberately vague here, its just that different settings work better with different pictures.
  • Save your file
  • Go back to Photoshop and go to Filter>Artistic>Cut Out (use the same settings as above – 8 levels, 5 smoothing and fidelity 1)
  • Draw around each of the colour change sections you want – I tend to make the sections quite curvy and less complex than you get with the Simplicity tool (ironically) – remember, you have to paint inside these areas – don’t make it too hard for yourself.
  •  Use the Magic Wand tool in Photoshop to select each area and delete the colour.
  • You”ll be left with something like this – I didn’t do the hair cos I wanted to see if the outline had worked for the face..not because I was just too lazy…

And that’s it – just colour it in using the original photo and/or the photo with the outline over it as a template.


Have fun…and do share what you’ve created…I’d love to see your works of art.

Ring or Cheerio Bead Chain Maille jewellery set

I had a lovely time today making a jewellery set with the Czech glass ring beads from the Gyre&Gimble shop.  I adore these beads – they’re perfect for Chain Maille jewellery, which is my new favorite hobby.  Its threatening to take over from crochet…

The AB clear ring bead jewellery set pics – taken at slightly different times in the evening light, you can see the effect it has on the AB clear beads – beautiful aren’t they.  And only 10p.

The bracelet took 15 beads, the necklace took 39 and the earrings took 3 each.

These were so quick to make I made another bracelet with buttons and blue ring beads – I post pics tomorrow as its too dark to take photos now…

QR Code Crochet Cushion

I’ve got a bit of a thing about monochrome, black and white stuff just turns me on.  So when QR codes came out I loved them from the start.  Before I was obsessed with barcodes – now I’m finding ways to incorporate QR codes into my crafts.

My beaded QR earrings just didn’t work, but I thought I’d share my latest effort with you – combining my love of QR codes with my love of crochet.

Introducing – the very prototype QR cushion

Despite my best efforts my mobile doesn’t read it – it should say OneStickWonder which is the name I sell my own handmade crafts under.  But I made the code with too large a hook/too heavy weight yarn. With a smaller hook and/ or lighter weight yarn it should work…I’m going to keep experimenting.

I’ll post a “how to” when I’ve worked out what size hook works. Until then, have a go yourself. All you have to do is…

  • Go to a free QR code creator site like QuickQR
  • Generate the code you want for your design (fewer words seem to make less complex patterns).  This one says Be Happy
  • Convert into a plan using excel or similar – our use graph paper…the excel example above is the OneStickWonder version
  • Crochet the QR code square – I think I used doubles…change colour by crocheting half the stitch in the existing colour, and finish the stitch in the new colour.
  • The granny square effect around the edges is just a 4 or 5 trebles + 2 ch pattern.

Like I said, I’ll do a proper how to when I’ve got it to the stage when you can read the code with a code reader.

Interactive crochet – its the future 🙂

Wath Ladies go Guerilla

I was quite surprised when a friend sent me these pictures of some Guerilla Knitting (or Yarn Bombing) efforts in Wath Upon Dearne, South Yorkshire. Not because the people of South Yorkshire had picked up on what is quite a modern way of making our environment look so much nicer, but that the Women’s Institute were the perps!  WI graffiti!  Whatever next…

They’ve kind of given themselves away a bit by putting the words to Jerusalem on the banner…I blame Danny Boyle for using it in the Olympics opening ceremony, even if it was somewhat tongue in cheek…