Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Come on - you know you want to make one!

As someone pointed out on our Facebook page - these could actually come in handy when it comes to dressing shepherds in a school nativity play!

So inspired by that, we thought we'd find you a few more beardy ideas.

Need to knit a Santa's beard? - then here's a pattern for you

Fancy just the beard without the beanie - why not try this pattern

Or for a comprehensive choice of knitted beards  there's a whole page of Etsy devoted to beard patterns. Whatever turns you on!

Or for some more mainstream knitting and craft inspiration have a browse on Make it and Mend it. One of our most popular patterns is for knitting a hat like Cheryl Cole's

And, as if you needed any more excuses to get those needles out - read Hilary's piece on how knitting helps people with depression (and she should know - she's a Dr of Psycholoogy!) Knitting as Therapy

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Water, water everywhere....

We might have had an incredibly wet winter, but that doesn't mean that we have water to waste.  At this time of year we still have to think about using water wisely to avoid the dreaded hosepipe ban!


Infographic world of water facts big

Saturday, 21 June 2014

The power of knitting!



I had a lovely encounter on the bus today which got me thinking about the pleasure of knitting and gift giving.  

I got on the bus, found a seat and immediately turned my attention to my phone.  A few minutes into the journey, the woman next to me apologised for elbowing me with her knitting needles, I was shocked to realise that I was so engrossed in answering emails that I hadn’t even noticed her knitting. 

We fell to chatting about knitting and our mutual love of wool.  It turned out that Mary had been knitting for 90 years!  She had started when she was three and was still an avid knitter. She even taught knitting at the local primary school. She told me that she loved seeing the children’s faces when they realised that they could knit, and she told me about the joy on one young girl’s face when she was told she could not only keep her crocheted chain, but was allowed to take the wool and hook home to carry on practising. She said that knitting had kept her young and had allowed her to make friends with children of all ages. 

We chatted for ten minutes, and as she got up to leave, she turned to me and dipped into her voluminous knitting bag, drawing out a small package wrapped in tissue ‘here’ she said ‘I want you to have these.  They’re really easy to make.   I make hundreds of them and I love giving presents to fellow knitting lovers’.  And with that she nipped off the bus and was lost in the crowd before I could thank her properly.  I delicately opened the tissue paper to find a pair of beautifully knitted slipper socks. Each stitch perfect and even, complete with a perfectly crocheted cord to keep them on.

So Mary if you are out there and happen to read this, Thank you.  Your gift made me very happy, but the real gift was your story which lifted my day.    It  made me appreciate how good knitting is for us and how much pleasure we get from sharing our passion....but also how much time we waste on our technology, when we should be lifting our heads and connecting to the people around us.  Just think what I would have missed out on if I had carried on dealing with emails!

Hilary

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Nature's bounty - wild garlic pesto


MIAMI friend Anne from North Devon posted this picture of her early morning walk with her dogs. Spotting the plentiful wild garlic I suggested she make some pesto. She asked for a recipe and then 40 minutes later, having zipped out again to pick some leaves, she posted a picture on Facebook of the finished result.

If you are lucky enough to have wild garlic growing near you, give it a try - serve with pasta or on boiled potatoes.

Just whizz up a handful of garlic leaves in a blender with some Parmesan, pinenuts, a dash of lemon juice and plenty of olive oil. Absolutely delicious.

Have you seen our Facebook page? Loads of helpful tips and ideas there!


Saturday, 27 April 2013

Why are the British spending a lot less on DIY?

According to the latest lifestyle report from Mintel – Brits are spending a lot less on DIY than they used to

Back in 2008 one in five claimed that they would spend a £1,000 windfall on home repairs, but that figure has dropped to only 1 in ten. It seems that as our budgets have become tighter we are re-evaluating out priorities. According to the report our top three priorities are now paying the bills, adding to our savings for that rainy day and saving for big ticket purchases – leaving little or no cash for home repairs, maintenance and redecoration.

 These are worrying statistics as not only does a lack of maintenance potentially result in a very expensive emergency, but it also affects how we feel about our homes and our lives. Brightening up your living space can give you a real boost. It can be as good, if not better than going on holiday. And in troubled times we need to find every little way we can to make ourselves feel more positive and in control of our lives.

In addition we Brits are spending more evenings in front of the TV as nights out become more of a treat. And this means more of us are cooking from scratch, which can only be good for our health, waistlines and wellbeing.

Feeling the pinch? Hurry up and enter our competition and you could win a gift card from B&Q worth £150 – just think what you could do with that….and how much better you will feel with a newly decorated home. 


For DIY inspiration visit the site
 >>First impressions are lasting impressions - ideas and inspiration for making over your hallway
>>Are you MAD not to move house?

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Time for me to stop papering over the cracks!



I had great fun today!  I was invited by the lovely people at B&Q to try out one of their ‘You can do it’ courses.  Their courses are run from various branches around the UK and are aimed at making it easier for you to do DIY. The idea is to give you the confidence to have a go in your own home. The stores have a special section where they run the courses with proper working mock ups of rooms so you get a real hands-on experience. So not only will you be able to create your own dream home…you’ll be able to save a fortune doing all those nagging little jobs yourself!


The courses last about three hours and include a range of different techniques to learn.  The one I attended was about hanging patterned wallpaper.  Now if I’m going to be really honest here, I have to admit that my heart sank just a little. As a seasoned decorator I did wonder what on earth are they were going to find to fill 3 hours!   

But I was pleasantly surprised!  Not only did the time whizz by, but I learned some really useful new techniques as well. Like most people I’m self taught when it comes to decorating so it was great to get a professional’s viewpoint and learn the proper way to tackle turning a corner etc.It made me realise how long I'd been papering over the cracks in my knowledge...and how much time I could save by doing things properly from the start.

It was good fun, I worked with some great people, I definitely came home with some really useful tips…..and an overwhelming urge to redecorate my living room!

I would definitely recommend that you have a go – it doesn’t matter how much we think we know, we can always learn something new.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

£300 for you to spend on a home improvement project

Over on the website we're running a new competition. We've teamed up with Wickes, the UK's leading home improvement supplier, to find out what your ultimate home improvement project would be. The winner gets £300 to spent at Wickes and 4 runners up each get £25 each.

So get yourself over to the main site and share your inspiration. 

What would it be - swanky new floors for the dining room, taps and tiles in the kitchen, a new bath? Would you paint or wallpaper your way to a new look?

Maybe you need some tools to get the job done? Personally, I've always fancied a pressure washer. Maybe then I'd get the patio looking exactly the way I want it, with a fire pit in the centre, so I can toast my toes even when its chilly.

Win £300 to spend at Wickes

Good luck!
Anne

Monday, 20 August 2012

Here's what I just made!

I don't like carrying paintbrushes in my pencil case so decided to make a waterproof roll for both brushes and pencils using laminated cotton fabric from our MIAMI shop. 

I'll be posting the instructions for this on the website shortly - but I'm very pleased with the result - and made from just a quarter metre of fabric plus some cotton fabric for the edging from my stash - and a couple of buttons.
So now I'm all set for my painting holiday in the Scilly Isles next month - can't wait!


We'll also be offering a pencil case kit to make shortly - all ready complete with instructions and supplied by our MIAMI Shop partners RU Craft. More news on this soon!

Clare F

Friday, 17 August 2012

The best things in life are free...


Well derrr….you don’t say?  There are moments in life when I wonder about the value of research – and I say this as a researcher!  Do Sainsbury’s need to spend a vast amount of money to realise that children prefer the simple things in life? 
 
Sainsbury’s have created a ‘pleasure per penny index’ by asking children aged 5 to 11 to rank their favourite holiday activities according to how happy they make them feel and how special and memorable they are….and guess what? -  playing in the garden or park, water fights or building a den come out on top, while expensive day trips out are way down the list. 

Contrary to popular belief, children value time spent with friends and family over material entertainment. Intuitively this is something we parents already know, but the problem is that we're conditioned to feel guilty that we aren’t doing enough for our children if we don’t take them out to theme parks and fast food restaurants.

Newsflash!…if left to their own devices children don’t get bored! They might have a few moments of whingeing, but they very quickly find something to do and can entertain themselves for hours.  A little  boredom is actually good for kids as it helps them develop their creative skills.  If we constantly force-feed them entertainment, we're denying them the chance to learn to enjoy being alone and find ways to entertain themselves. 

Even on a rainy day there are plenty of things to do.  Give them paper and paints, or salt-dough, or let them build a den and they'll be happy for hours.

So back away from the theme park, keep your hand away from your wallet and give your kids a summer holiday they'll remember!

We've got lots more ideas to keep the kids happy over the holidays

 >> Great ways to entertain the kids in the holidays  
 >> Recycled crafts for kids
  >> Get the best from your holiday

Hilary B

Friday, 3 August 2012

Advance copy of our new book arrives!

The first advance copy of Make it and Mend it, our new book, arrived today.

The book is already pre-selling on Amazon in both UK and USA as well as other online bookstores, including Waterstones and Blackwells. It will be in the shops around about October - just in time for you all to buy it for Christmas gifts! - or add it to your wish list.

The illustrations are beautiful - thank you to the lovely photographer Sian Irvine.

Here are a couple of spreads - snapped on my kitchen table - shown here are Stained glass biscuits and how to make a cake stand from old plates - both of these were Hilary's creations.



Clare F

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Lifting a rainy day with decoupage bunting

Decoupage bunting
It being the summer of 2012, I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when testing out the new Make it and Mend it Rainy Day Pack, that bunting would feature large in the imaginations of my two trusty testers - Florrie and Martha.

In fact Martha got stuck in with gusto as soon as she realised just how easy it is to decoupage (the art of covering objects with decorative paper).

The girls were testing MIAMI's new Rainy Day Pack designed to inspire kids' imaginations and get their finger creating when stuck inside during what looks to be the wettest British summer most of us can remember!

It's a real mixed bag of materials with fabric, card, pens, needles, thread and wool we've specially picked to give them loads of ideas - and test their making skills. 

They used cardboard from an old cereal packet to cut the pennant shapes and then started covering them with the Pack's special decoupage papers with the special quick drying thin decoupage paste. As soon as the pennants were all covered, they were dry and simply needed stringing up. 

Amazingly enough the girls now have 2 metres of their own decoupaged bunting to decorate their room. And believe me - the 'I did that' factor makes all the difference.

Added to which there was a selection of cards, purses and friendship tokens produces. Brilliant work and if it hadn't been a school night I expect our little production line would have gone on for far longer than the 4 hours they spent using their imaginations and learning brand new skills.

Buy your own Rain Day Pack through RUCraft, Make it and Mend it's shop partner. It's  a life saver for this especially wet summer!

Martha and Florrie and their Rainy Day pack
PS: we're going to be publishing a gallery of the most imaginative projects made from the Rainy Day Packs. Have Fun. Clare O'B. Check out the MIAMI site for more 

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Doing a spot of decoupage

I was about to chuck out this very tired old lampshade. Just as my hand hovered over the dustbin I pulled it back and decided to spend an hour trying to rescue it. Here's the before:



 And here's the after. Not bad eh? I haven't varnished it yet. Will do that and post the instructions on the website.




















Meanwhile here's Hilary's instructions for a decoupage dining chair and a decoupage kitchen cupboard door.

Instructions and video now on website and our You Tube channel

Clare F