Our Donation – Buttercups Sanctuary For Goats – Maidstone, Kent

For those of you who visited us at one of the Open Days last year, you will have seen we had been raising money for various causes. Three key members of ‘Team Will Work For Cake’ (my wonderful team of volunteers) chose Buttercups Sanctuary for Goats here in Kent as one of the recipients of a donation. The sanctuary is local to us all and we’re all animal lovers, so it seemed a perfect fit for our fundraising activities.

Buttercups care for between 130 and 150 goats at any one time, with a similar number of goats fostered out to approved carers. They rely solely on public donations. The goats in the care of Buttercups go to the sanctuary for a multitude of reasons. Some have been found abandoned and are taken to the sanctuary by organisations such as the RSPCA and the Police. Others have been privately owned pets but, as they grow up they need an environment with more space and the company of other goats, goats being highly social animals. Other residents of Buttercups have been used for scientific testing. Whatever their history, the goats at Buttercups are assured of warm, dry and clean stabling, a healthy and varied diet, and plenty of safe space for grazing and exercise.

So, in the pouring rain, we made the short journey to Buttercups for their Family Day last Sunday (3rd May). It was wellies and brollies aplenty, but we had a great time. Here are some images from our day.

You can follow Buttercups via their website or Facebook page.

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Autumn Open Day – Details & Map

This post is provide you with all the info you need to find your way to Tithe Barn in Lenham for our Open Day on Sunday 5th October 2014. Here are the details:

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Here’s the map (you can see we’re behind the church, but follow the arrows to the entrance (up the High Street before the Fire Station):

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Baby Shower & Baby Projects

We are all excitedly awaiting news of a new member of ‘Team Will Work For Cake’, Jenny (aka J Lo) is due at any moment and she spent her last few weeks of pregnancy finishing some of her baby projects. Last week she completed her crochet blanket using Rooster DK yarn, it looks beautiful. It had been noted that she originally planned to make a large blanket, but it greatly reduced in size when she realised she could make it baby sized. A shrewd move!

Jenny also called in the troops to help her with a baby supplies door hanger storage thingy. None of us really know what else to call it! We had been shopping to find one, but couldn’t find anything other than a hanging shoe rack. So, Jenny chose ‘Life In The Jungle’ fabric (she doesn’t know the sex of the baby so she went for a neutral pattern and colour). Ably assisted by Judi and Sam, they constructed their own. I popped by with the fabric and vilene and a few hours later the finished hanger was ready for use!

With the baby’s room a little tight on space, the brief was very precise and it was made to measure. Jenny did the sewing herself… with bump providing a little shelf for her pins!

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The week before the Open Day in July, we held a Baby Shower for Jenny, or J Lo as we call her. We transformed the small barn at Tithe Barn into a scene from the Nativity. We had resident Doctor Martin there too, just in case the excitement got too much! Click on the gallery below if you’d like to see how we put on a rustic, barn inspired baby shower! Thank you to Robyn at Stillbrook Designs for putting the beautiful graphic together for me.

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The Creation of Hilly Billy The Vintage Citroen – Yarn Bombing at Emma’s Fabric Studio Open Day July 2014

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I have received some lovely feedback about our transformation of the vintage car at the July Open Day at Tithe Barn in Lenham.  Hilly Billy is an old Citroen who is still road worthy and can often be seen driving round the village with her owners Valerie and John Arthur.  They kindly let us give Hilly Billy a summer spruce up at the Open Day. Given how much interest there has been, we thought you might want to see how we went about the makeover and gave her a super cute/super star new look!

Judi, Chief of Yarn Bombing, has explained how we did the eyes, a particular challenge!

When we measured Hilly Billy for her new decorative overcoat I thought we would cover the lights from the back, a bit like a tea cosy, or light cosy.  It wasn’t until later when I  was looking at the pictures it occurred to me that they weren’t lights, of course they were her eyes!

So how do you go about making eyes for a vintage Citroen?

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I googled crochet eyes, not much help and certainly no pattern to fit a vintage car.  Well eyes are just circles right? So I found a pattern for a crochet circle, in this case it was a cushion cover, but the basics of how many increases in each round were fine – I was happily crocheting along until I had a circle big enough to cover the front of the light, then stopped increasing and carried on for 4 or 5 rows and that’s it – a plain white cover for the light but it doesn’t look much like an eye though.

A big debate came next in our household – what colour should Hilly Billy’s eyes be? – brown, green, mixed – no of course they should be bright blue.  So the right shade of bright blue was located in my ‘tiny’ wool selection and another circle began – using the same pattern but a lot smaller this time.

After that her eyes needed irises (not the floral type!) – I started making a tiny black circle, It looked ok to me – Stu had different ideas though. A long debate about how the iris should look and lots of cartoon drawings followed – this resulted in a ¾ circle.  I have to grudgingly admit that it does look better than my original circle did.

The final challenge – how to make eye lashes?  Should they be long and curly, thick and bushy – what should they be made from?  I contemplated pipe cleaners, fringing and various other options then it came to me, I could adapt the crochet rose pattern to make eye lashes – a few tries later and I got something about the right size.

So one eye complete – on to number 2!

For the remainder of the car, we pooled our collective crochet blankets, unfinished projects, etc.  We gave Judi anything wool related for her Hilly Billy vision.  Jan, our amazing Senior Yarn Bombing Engineer made a spare wheel cover, Sam (Chief of Pom Poms) prettied up the general look, using various other yarny creations.  Lorna (Chief Analyst, Director of Detail) ensured Hilly Billy was groomed to perfection.  Jo’s collection of crochet blankets were put to very good use.  My unfinished projects were put to great use too (thank goodness)…  Judi clearly had a look in mind and it turned out wonderfully! Have a look through the gallery for more detail.

 

Emma’s Fabric Studio Open Day – July 2014

The Summer 2014 Open Day has been and gone, and if you missed it, you missed some yarn bombing fun! Again, the Open Day was held at the beautiful Tithe Barn in Lenham, owned by the lovely Valerie and John Arthur and ably assisted by the fabulous Martin, our retired village GP.

Tithe Barn sits in the grounds of Court Lodge and was built in 1342. Originally there were 2 barns but only one remains, overlooking the church.

Greeting you at the entrance would be Valerie’s ‘Hilly Billy’ the beautiful, old (and still road worthy) Citroen. We dolled her up a bit. When I say ‘we’ I mean Judi, Jan, Sam and Lorna. They love to knit and crochet and using their own creations and a number of Jo’s blankets and my unfinished projects (LOTS) they were able to put together an awesome sight for our guests.

More info on the creation of Hilly Billy’s new look will follow in a future blog post. Hilly Billy wasn’t the only one to get a spruce up, Trevor and Terrence (the tractors), also got a little cosmetic surgery!

Food and drink was provided at the ‘Barn Cafe’, with a garden theme designed by Enid and Lucy. They provided a delicious selection of tray bakes and cakes. I can’t vouch for how delicious they were, because by the time I got to eat, there was barely anything left (I think that says it all)! The ploughman’s lunches were designed in keeping with the Barn.

We split the Barn into two sections and spent 4 days beforehand decorating. Putting on such a labour intensive event takes:

24 helpers, 4 dogs, 1 toddler, 2 fabric trollies, 1 photographer, 1 doctor, 1 farmer, 1 vintage car, 2 vintage tractors, 1 giant hot air balloon, 3 twinkly trees, 100 of Emma’s unfinished crochet projects, 3 home made jams, 2 tills, 1 Queen, 1 John Wayne.

So, I must say a big thank you to Enid, Lucy, Jan, Judi, Jo, Jenny, Lorna, Sam, Becky, Mary, Sue, Kim, Jeanette, Alice, Fiona, Ellen, Hannah, Charlotte, Alex, Graham, Dave, Stu, John and Ash. I also want to say a big thank you to Indi and Trevor for coming along, I will write all about our support of SANDS and the reasons for it in a future blog post.  I’m also grateful to Valerie, John Arthur and Martin for allowing us to invade!

Now, normal service resumes, we are preparing for October!

To view the photos, click on the first one and you will be able to scroll through them.

 



 

 

Finally… ‘My First Granny Square’

There is one thing I love about crochet, it takes a bloomin’ lot less time than knitting does! Those holes serve a purpose you know, whoever came up with the crochet idea was clearly a genius and not blessed with the virtue of patience, much like myself. We all descended on Dilley Dalley’s house one Sunday lunchtime last year. Dilley Dalley is actually ‘Lorna’ but her surname is Dilley and she faffs around a lot, stroking fabric, feeling her wool, getting her colour choices right. In fact, I decided to look up the definition of ‘dilly dally’ (note we spell her nickname wrong!):

To waste time, especially in indecision, dawdle or vacillate.

I think that is grossly unfair, she doesn’t waste time, she just faffs (a lot and admits it), just like me. Actually, I shared something on Facebook recently about Lorna:

Paul Hollywood tweeted recently that he is sometimes ‘spotted’ in places he never actually went to.

I tweeted him to thank him for coming to the first ‘Emma’s Fabric Studio Open Day’ last October and learning to crochet with Lorna. We call her ‘Dilley Dalley’, she said she was thrilled to teach a man with such manual dexterity to crochet.

I didn’t hear back. He must have forgotten he came along.

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Such is Lorna’s attention to detail, she crocheted the collar of her t shirt, along with the flower in her hair. everything is usually in miniature as she’s so teeny tiny herself.

So, this was my first granny square session. Previously I’d only been able to master the ‘chain’ and on one failed attempt thought I was knitting and ended up with 20 chain actually ON my hook. Also part of the group is Judi (Joooooodi) who is some kind of modern day crochet superhero, she can do anything. In fact, I think she’s working on some yarn bombing – watch this space! She and Lorna taught myself and Jenny to do our first granny squares. Jenny and I are not known for our speed of picking things up, this was my 3rd attempt at crochet. However, I finally ‘GOT’ it!

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I feel the role the cake played is important, hence the photos. However, almost as important as cake is understanding what you’re trying to achieve in crochet. Being able to ‘see’ your pattern forming and understand the logic is incredibly important in learning the skill and being able to read where you are in the pattern. Judi is a whizz at re-writing patterns for us so they are more simple and we understand the terminology whilst we carry on learning.

So, thanks Dilley Dalley and Joooooodi, myself and Jenny are now crocheting up a storm and are in a race to finish our first blanket!

Oh, a little aside re Lorna, she won’t read down this far I’m sure. You know I said she does everything in miniature? Well, don’t even get me started on the day she decided to make mini bunting (when I say mini, I mean 50 pence piece size) using her mum’s Bernina. The wonderfully efficient Bernina sucked the fabric down into the bobbin space like a tornado, her poor mum is probably still finding miniature pieces of chintzy fabric deep in the mechanics of the machine. I’m seeing her on Sunday, I will not utter a word about ‘bunting gate’.

Kingswood Christmas Trees – a Kentish hidden gem!

Every year I purchase my Christmas tree from Kingswood Christmas trees, situated in the Kentish countryside, a few minutes away from Leeds Castle. Rob, the Christmas tree farmer, kindly offered us one his trees for the Open Day we held in October. Not only did he bring it along and set it up, he also let me keep it and it’s currently sitting outside the back door just waiting to be brought inside. Rob gave me the top of the range ‘Nordman Fir’ and barely a needle has dropped, mainly due to it being keep cool, outside and watered. It did try and make escape during the strong winds of a few weeks ago, but I’m pleased to say it didn’t make it very far.

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I thought Kingswood Christmas Trees deserved a mentioned, because not only are they a fellow local business, they provide a magical hideaway and a beautiful selection of trees. Not only that, they’ve been known to host fashion photo shoots with the odd famous face too (you can see the gallery in their shop).

When you arrive, not only are you met with a beautiful Christmassy vision upon your approach to the main entrance, there is a grotto inside, which is free to go enter and hosts ‘THE’ Father Christmas who makes an appearance during the weekends in December. I took these photos last Christmas with the purpose of writing a blog post before they open again this year.

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So, if you’re looking for somewhere a little different (and very festive) to purchase your Christmas tree, you can visit the Kingswood Christmas Tree Farm website, or their Facebook page which is currently being re-jigged!

CE Marking Fabric Dolls – Part 2

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Last April I wrote a blog post with an explanation of CE marking and what this meant for my customers who make anything deemed ‘a toy’. It means that anyone selling soft toys made of fabric (fabric relevant to me of course as I’m a fabric shop owner), would need to obtain the CE mark in order to legally sell their goods and ensure they were made safely and were fit for purpose.

The issue of CE marking has moved on since I originally wrote that blog post. At the time, CE marking was a foreign entity to many, so the post mainly contained information about what this actually was. Now, it’s time for a little update as I receive lots of queries and thought I’d address them all here.

Here are the questions that I typically field through email, phone and Facebook messages on a daily basis.

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(ok… I admit, that photo is not of me)…

Are your fabrics CE marked?

No, fabrics do not need to be CE marked, it is your product that does.

I make xxx product, can you advise if I need to CE mark it?

Unfortunately not. The best people to give advice are your local Trading Standards team, who are within the structure of your County Council. Having worked in Local Government, I can tell you that these teams are usually quite large (dependant on the County you live in), so make a note of your TS Officer’s name and contact details. Having said that, I have one customer who lives on an island in Scotland and it sounds like her local Trading Standards Officer works in a very small team, maybe by himself!

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Image source.

The general rule if that if it looks like a toy, it will be classed as a toy. A label saying ‘decorative use only’ on your item will not be acceptable. Make use of Trading Standards, they are there to advise you. If you’d like some extra support and to talk to people going through the same process, I would strongly suggest you join the Facebook group ‘CE Self Certification Support Page’. The administrators of this page have worked hard to provide support, group testing and guidance on the whole process.

Are your fabrics compliant?

I’m afraid this isn’t something we can give you either a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ on, we can certainly point you in the right direction in terms of the information you need, but you will need to ascertain if the fabrics are compliant as part of your CE marking process as a whole. You can self certify, so as long as you have an understanding of what information you need for this process, you will be able to confirm this for yourself. You may want to use the ‘Conformance’ pack, which will assist with self certification. It can be purchased here.

Can you provide certificates to show compliance with EN71 regulations?

This information would need to come direct from the manufacturer. It is not prudent for a fabric retailer to hold information that may be subject to change by the fabric manufacturer. Also, you will not receive any certification that directly relates to EN71. The manufacturers are primarily in America and so they do not have to conform to this regulation. In America, the equivalent standard is known as CPSIA. As you are a manufacturer (yes you’re a manufacturer if you make things that need CE marking!), you will need to obtain certificates that give you enough information to translate to the EN71 regulations. Once you get started, this won’t be as difficult as it sounds.

I can see dolly makers use Kona cotton solids for their dolls, can you provide certificates for Kona?

As above, certification will need to come from the manufacturer. However, the Kona cotton solid shade card states that Kona cotton solid fabrics are tested for harmful substances according to Oeko-Tex Standard 100 which is a good indicator that they will pass your testing process for CE marking.

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You can read more here on the Oeko-Tex website. A simpler translation can be found here on the CE Self Certification Support Page.

Which manufacturers should I approach?

Each fabric on the website has the name of both the designer and manufacturer clearly stated in both the product name and description. As a whole, the manufacturers stocked by Emma’s Fabric Studio tend to be:

Riley Blake Designs – information available directly from Riley Blake Designs.

Robert Kaufman – information available direct from Robert Kaufman, but please advise what range of fabric you’d like details on.

Michael Miller – a general note can be found on the website relating to CPSIA compliance.

All are aware of the requirement for fabric testing, but please ensure you approach them from a general point of view, they sell to countries all over the world and won’t necessarily know what ‘EN71’ is. Have a look at my blog from last April where you will find a little detail on each manufacturer.

So, hopefully this information will set you on the right track to obtain your CE mark. After the initial panic, you’ll start to see the logic in what you have to do to obtain your mark and it will all become clear. You’ll be back to ‘cool as a cucumber’ in no time!

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Sew Magazine – 2 Mentions for Emma’s Fabric Studio

We got a couple of mentions in Sew Magazine recently, one was the Trinny fabric bundle (Farm Fresh fabrics from Riley Blake Designs) in the November edition. The other was the ‘Hoo’s In The Forest’ fabric which featured in the ‘Fabric Shopping’ section in October. I was amazed to receive a call last week from a lovely lady who didn’t have email or the internet but who had seen the ‘Trinny’ fabric bundle in Sew Magazine. She had discarded the magazine and ended up calling Sew Magazine direct to track down Emma’s Fabric Studio.

Coincidentally, at the same time, Emma’s Fabric Studio is the subject of a local college project where some of the students have been asked to create a leaflet for a local business. They have decided their project will revolve around how internet businesses reach people without the net, I look forward to seeing what they create for me!

FYI Tara is currently crazy busy in the run up to Christmas, I miss her Tuesday posts but she is working with the Fabric Fruitloops of Crowborough at many of the Christmas Fairs, which will hopefully provide us with some humour and hopefully some tales of success!