Cold weather is here and the holiday season is quickly approaching. Check out our favourite blogs this month for inspiration on dressing warmly yet stylishly, making your home look cosy and fabulous craft and gift ideas!
Shannon of Snazzy Dollface has fun with fashion and it definitely shows. Not only are her outfits fun, with beautiful pops of colour, but her photos are as well. You can definitely glean some knowledge about how to stylishly stay warm by perusing this blog. Keep reading to learn what Shannon is craving this season and her best shopping tips!
Q: What are your favourite items to wear this autumn?
A: Boots, boots and more boots. Every fall I get so incredibly excited for boot season. Riding and over-the-knee boots paired with tights are definitely a staple in my wardrobe. However, I will be lusting over the Glitter Miu Miu boots until I figure out a way to get my hands on them. LOL. I also recently purchased a cropped faux fur jacket with bell sleeves that I’m anxious to wear as well.
Q: Whose closet would you love to raid?
A: Victoria Beckham. She is always so stylish and polished even when she’s casual. I guess that’s why she was referred to as “Posh” back in the day. I can only imagine what her shoe collection looks like, every girl’s dream!
Q: What are your best shopping tips?
A: First, if you can’t think of at least three ways to wear it, leave it at the store…don’t buy it. A closet full of tags isn’t stylish at all. Second, I believe it’s important to have a functional wardrobe with a mix of classic and trendy pieces. With that being said, don’t splurge on trendy pieces! Save your money for the classic pieces that will stay with you for years.
Q: How has blogging changed your life for the better?
A: I’ve always strived for creativity in my closet but blogging has definitely made me think outside the box even more. More importantly, the blogging community is so sweet and generous with compliments. It has made me realize most women don’t compliment other women when they see them wearing something they like. We might tell our friend “oh, I like that girl’s shoes, skirt, hair” but don’t actually tell the person. We should tell her, it will make her day. So, I’ve definitely become more vocal about that.
Q: How would you describe your personal style?
A: Glamsual…mostly casual with a touch of Glam. I love to dress up but most days call for a casual vibe. I prefer dresses over pants (jeans are an exception) because dresses are more comfortable, tend to look prettier and appear as though you put more effort than you actually did. It’s one piece with accessories. Does it get any easier than that? During the cooler months I’m more of a jeans & boyfriend sweater girl, then I glamify with accessories. BOLD accessories, to be exact!
Laura, the creator of Red Ribbon Fox Knits, is quite the creative wonder. She showcases her beautiful handmade knits, including cosy cowls, hats, fingerless mitts and satchels (all perfect for fall and winter!). She also creates lovely, unique paper designs such as wedding invitations. You might just get so inspired while browsing her blog that you’ll want to learn to knit or crochet! Luckily for you, Laura gives lessons via Skype.
Q: How did you become passionate about knitting and crocheting?
A: My grandmother has always been my inspiration for crafting. She started me on crocheted chains and sewing buttons at a young age. I have always enjoyed a variety of crafts and when I picked up knitting needles again in 2003 I couldn’t put them down. I remembered learning when I was about 12 and retaught myself after seeing someone wearing a hand-knit scarf.
I am so addicted to knitting because it is wonderfully portable. You can go anywhere and have your project with you, unlike many other crafts where you need lots of supplies. I love love that about it! It keeps me especially sane when travelling by airplane…all the waiting and craziness of airports is averted with a lovely knitting project in hand. Another reason knitting and crocheting are wonderful is that there is SUCH a variety of techniques you can learn with them…it’s almost endless. I have been seriously knitting for 8 years now and have still not tried some projects that I would love to dive into. I think that is what keeps me coming back to it and keeps me inspired. I love always learning new things and knitting allows for that.
Q: Which types of crafting would you like to try or become more skilled at?
A: I’m currently taking a metal working jewellery class at a local arts center. I am loving it! We’ve made hand-cut pendants, a ring, and are now on to making our own chains. It’s really wonderful to learn how these things are made. I’d love to get better and better at jewellery making. I’ve always enjoyed wire working and beading, but this class has been great for taking it to the next level. I’m taking a nature journalling course next semester at the same arts center. I’d love to revisit my drawing and watercolour skills in that class. Can we say crafting A.D.D.??
Q: What have you made that you are most proud of?
A: The item I am most proud of is a blanket I made for my husband last year for his wedding gift. It was squares made out of all different colours, one of my favourite, hand-painted yarns, that I collected whenever we would travel. He said it is his favourite thing I’ve ever made. It is really special to be made from yarn from a variety of places we visited together. I’m so glad I finished it on time for the wedding, too!
Q: How has your life changed for the better since you began blogging?
A: Since I began blogging, I feel like I not only have an outlet in which to share my love of all things creative and lovely, but a wonderful record of what I’ve done, made and admired from year to year. It is really great to have an online sketchbook/idea book in this format that you can share with everyone else. It’s great reading comments from readers with shared interests and beautiful ideas and I really can’t think of another forum in which you can express yourself creatively in the same manner. Each post feels like a little bit of artwork put out there to the world. I do love being a part of it all.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who wants to learn to knit or crochet?
A: Do it! Don’t be afraid of messing up or being bad at it…I have taught dozens of people how to knit or crochet and have NEVER had anyone fail! The lovely thing is that you can take it at your own pace. Some people get addicted to it right away and want to learn everything, others take their time enjoying the relaxing effect of the basic stitches and are happy to stay with that. I would recommend taking a first lesson with a live person. It’s invaluable to have someone there showing you and walking you through it and encouraging you. It is definitely quite awkward at first, to knit or crochet, but if you have a teacher there, they will get you through that first frustrating bit and then your yarn will be flying off of your needles… you’ll be a proper addict like me in no time!
3. Artsy Ants
Sisters Sylvia and Simona, both wonderfully creative and living an ocean apart, have created a gorgeous online space to share their art, design and inspirations. Their beautiful artwork, crafts and photos are sure to inspire you!
Q: How has your relationship changed since starting “Artsy Ants”?
A: We have always been very close, even though we live an ocean apart. Artsy Ants has drawn us even closer together on another level. It’s great to communicate daily about our blog, our projects and our shop. And it’s just wonderful to work on something together with someone you love so much.
Q: What inspires your creativity?
A: Sylvia: The beauty of everyday life, indoors and out. Colourful leaves on the trees, a beautifully set table, artwork of children, blogs of creative mamas around the world and most lately: Pinterest!
Simona:I feel inspired by colour combinations and shapes I discover in everyday life and I feel inspired by viewing other artists’ work and progress. Once I get started on an idea and I immerse myself in a project, I start seeing where else I can go with that particular idea. Then I get so excited about my new ideas that it’s hard to complete the first one.
Q: What are you most looking forward to making, cooking, baking or doing this holiday season?
A: Sylvia: I’ve just started making tags, ornaments and little bowls out of salt dough, I’d love to get more into that. I also want to try out all kinds of paper snowflakes.
Simona: On my baking list are my uncle’s apple cake and my mom-in-law’s apple-nut cake. The recipes are completely different from each other and are both to die for. On my creative agenda are a few ideas for abstract paintings I can’t wait to dive into.
Q: Are there any forms of crafting you haven’t tried that you would like to?
A: Sylvia: I’d like to be able to crochet. A colourful granny square blanket would be gorgeous!
Simona: I’m not sure if it would fall under the category of crafting but working with glass has always fascinated me.
Q: What’s your favourite way to unwind after a stressful day?
A: Sylvia: Lying on the couch, listening to my hubby playing the guitar, knitting or just reading in bed.
Simona: Yes, the couch sounds good to me too. I love to be wrapped in a blanket with hot tea or a glass of wine. Going over to our friends’ house to unwind on their couch is also one of my favourite things to do.
Thanks, Sylvia & Simona!
On this blog, you’ll find crocheted hats, cell phone cosies, cup cosies and recipes, but the most exciting thing you’ll find – and in abundance – are adorable amigurumi creations. Amigurumi is the Japanese art of knitted and crocheted stuffed animals. Stephanie, the creator, has created some original patterns and made the most adorable and clever amigurumi, from a Despicable Me minion to peas in a pod and an elephant ballerina! You must have a look for yourself, they’ll bring a smile to your face.
Q: What’s your favourite amigurumi that you’ve made?
A: My favourite amigurumi that I’ve made would have to be the “Chinese New Year Doll”. She’s very special to me because she was the first amigurumi I designed and created on my own. I had just started my blog a month prior to making her, and I had previously been following other people’s patterns. I told my husband Ryan what I wanted to crochet, and he helped me sketch out a design for a doll carrying a tiny bunny to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit. I figured out what shapes I needed to crochet and meticulously wrote down the pattern so people could make her in the future. Ryan and I were so happy with how she turned out as we spent quite a bit of time on her! The response was wonderful as she was such a unique design!
Q: What or who inspires you?
A: When I first started making amigurumi, the simple and cute patterns found in Ana Paula Rimoli’s books greatly inspired me. I worked through many of her patterns and loved them! I found so many images of absolutely adorable amigurumi on-line, many of them by great amigurumi artists such as Pepika and Berrysprite. Now Ryan and I draw inspiration from things we see around us everyday- even from unlikely sources, such as a dim sum trip (check out my amigurumi siu mai!). God never fails to inspire us with the beauty of our surroundings, the people that we meet and the experiences that we find ourselves in.
Q: How has your life changed for the better since you began blogging?
A: When I was younger, I used to explore various art forms and crafts, such as macrame, beadwork, scrapbooking and crochet. However, all that was placed on the backburner as I really focused on school, particularly in university and graduate school. When I took up crocheting again when I started working, I was thrilled to see all the work that people were crocheting nowadays, particularly amigurumi. Who can resist cute stuffed animals? I love taking step-by-step photos of my projects, documenting the whole process, and explaining why I was making a certain project and who it was for. I had always wanted to start a blog, so this was the perfect opportunity! My blog is a wonderful creative outlet for me, where I can express my God-given creativity and my love for crafts. I’ve been able to connect with a supportive community of other crafters from around the world, from people who have been crafting for years, to people who’ve just learned how to crochet after seeing my work! Ryan and I have a lot of fun designing and making our amigurumi together as a husband-wife team (the crocheted “Despicable Me” minion was definitely a labour of love) and we love to share our joy and love of crafting with others. We’re always happy to hear that others have been uplifted or encouraged to express their creativity through crafts too!
Q: Do you prefer to design your own amigurumi or make them from others’ patterns?
A: I prefer to design my own amigurumi since I can essentially create whatever I want! Ryan helps me draw up an initial sketch, we figure out what shapes we need, and then we begin creating- the sky’s the limit! However, I do like to follow other people’s patterns once in a while to take a break, particularly since there are many wonderful patterns out there. Making amigurumi with other people’s patterns also takes much less time. When I create my own pattern, sometimes I have to redo my work until I get the right shape. I also have to meticulously keep track of the rows and stitches so I can share the pattern with others in the future. And so, I like to do both!
Q: What advice would you give to someone who wants to learn to crochet or knit?
A: I would advise people who are interested in learning how to crochet or knit to look on-line for resources. There are many great videos on Youtube that explain very clearly how to begin. I also wrote up a blog post called “Amigurumi for Beginners” that lists great resources, what materials you’ll need, what the crochet abbreviations stand for and includes helpful videos. You have to be patient before you start getting the hang of it, and I would definitely recommend trying out projects meant for beginners so you don’t get too discouraged early on (there were so many projects I wanted to try out at the beginning, but I knew I had to have a few “easy” projects under my belt before even attempting these more difficult ones). Try taking up crocheting or knitting with a friend too! I know there are also many crochet and knitting groups out there as it’s definitely gaining popularity. Knitting and crocheting can be very therapeutic, and you can work on your projects while you’re on the bus, waiting for an appointment, or watching TV! With the mass consumerism all around us, there’s something special about making a unique item (such as a stuffed animal) with your own two hands from scratch that feels organic. Handmade goods are definitely gaining popularity with sites such as Etsy, Pinterest and Craftgawker, and they make such special gifts for loved ones! I would advise anyone who’s thought about learning to just give it a try! It’s such a fun, rewarding hobby!
Maria and her blog are wonderfully creative and versatile; Maria has tried virtually every type of craft and art form, so it’s endlessly fascinating and addicting to keep up with her blog and check what she is currently up to! Keep reading to learn how she became so accomplished.
Q: What excites you most about autumn?
A: I love all the seasons, but Autumn is pretty special…I have my camera with me most of the time, all the leaves and stunning colours mean I take twice as many photos as the rest of the year. I love all the fruit and berries that are in the hedgerows and often come home with bags full after walking the dog. Autumn also means that Christmas is coming, and I love Christmas, I love the shops filling with pretty things, I love making decorations, I love making gifts, I love all the build up to Christmas and I do start early!
Q: What inspires you most?
A: Ooh this is a hard one…I love beauty and see it everywhere I go. Nature is full of colours and shapes that just sing together. A lot of my silver jewellery is nature-inspired and full of leaves and flowers. I think you can’t help but be inspired by other people’s beautiful work, and they often make me want to have a go or spark ideas of yet more things to try. I always have many different projects on the go at once and some have been hanging around for years!
Q: Which types of crafting did you learn from your mum? How did you learn the others?
A: My mum taught me loads when I was a child, she has always been creative and artistic (she has a BA in Fine Art) so my childhood was spent making things. Knitting and crochet, which although I am left-handed, I had to learn right-handedly and other wool-related crafts. Sewing … my mum is a great sewer and made most of my clothes till I was about 13. She had a big box of material labelled ‘Lorna’s Material’ and I wanted one too, so my mum gave me some of her material and labelled the box ‘Maria’s Scraps’. I was not impressed with this lower status and we have laughed about it ever since. Being an artist, we did lots of painting and art and all sorts of paper crafts. We (I have four brothers) had a big box full of cardboard, loo rolls, egg boxes and plastic from packaging which we were always using to make models and toys. Lots of space ships were made, a Robin Hood scene, an Ewok village, tunnel for the train set and things for my doll’s house.
When I was 14 I learnt lace-making from a lady in our village and I did textiles at school, which included silk painting, embroidery and batiking. My gran did a lot of flower arranging with me too. Cross-stitch played a large part of my teenage years and I have spent many hours designing samplers in many different styles. Since leaving school, I have tried lots of crafts … just bought the bits and had a go. When I was 24 I started my own business selling my cards and jewellery. I expanded my jewellery range after doing an evening course in silver-smithing at the local college. I did this for 10 years, but am now concentrating on my photography, which enables me to have the time to enjoy crafting for myself again. I recently did a weaving course which stretched my basic skills from when I had a tiny loom as a child.
Q: What are the greatest benefits of blogging?
A: I love blogging, I love making graphics and creating pretty internet spaces. I find that very relaxing and it’s all the more rewarding when someone comments on your blog! I have made some great friends via the Internet and their blogs have made me feel like I know them better. I hope they feel the same about me. I think the main great thing about blogging is sharing ideas and encouraging one another. I would one day like to have more of a physical ‘Craft Corner’ where people can come and craft together, learn new skills and try new things.
Q: What is your favourite item that you’ve crafted?
A: This is hard too…I have a few…a blanket I knitted years ago that is on my bed and every winter it keeps me very snug, some samplers that I have made which show my family…immortalised forever as little cross-stitch people! And some of the lace I have made, hours of work went into it and will one day hopefully be family heirlooms.