Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Decorate for a party! Stylish and simple ideas for meaningful gatherings...

Well hell yeah, it's party season so what we all need is a book that will help us come up with the perfect holiday party decor theme!
We all need a bit of a helping hand sometimes and as December is a busy month it can be über stressful but it doesn't have to be... it's also a great month filled with celebrations so even though throwing a party might be the last thing you want to do personally I think it'll be worth it and
this new book by Holly Becker & Leslie Shewring might be just what you need!
"Decorate for a party! Stylish and simple ideas for meaningful gatherings" is the latest title from Jacqui Small and it's packed with amazing ideas and projects to help you get that perfect party look. And organising a memorable get-together should be easy and fun too so Decorate for a party is the perfect how to guide and resources book for any hostess or host.
Basically with such a great guide it can take out all the craziness behind the organising because a party is a wonderful chance to gather, eat and enjoy, show your creativity and to have a wonderful time filled with love, laughter, friendship and great memories.... so this book will be the perfect companion to get you hosting and decorating like a true party pro!

But it's not all just for the holiday season; it just so happens that the timing is perfect; it's for all year round partying!
With over 100 practical ideas including ten step-by-step projects, the book is split into ten sections covering a range of different set ups using specific colour palettes and styles, from Brights to Moody, Evening Sparkle to Forest Picnic and all themes can be used for a wide variety of gatherings and events... basically for any occasion that's worthy of a celebration!

There’s no need to spend a fortune either, Holly and Leslie will show you how to make the most of what you already have by using what you already have in your home, garden, craft room or
in your pantry to create show stopping creative decorations.
With this amazing book you'll learn how to create  a variety of looks that feel luxurious and special with very little effort! OK, by "very little effort" I don't mean just throwing a few green bits in a corner and saying "That's it, job done, and doesn't that look great?" but as in easy, stress free and not very expensive projects that look lush and give the impression that you've spent days setting up!

I personally love the Bright Mexican inspired theme and even though it doesn't necessarily come under the "holiday season" theme I'm taking my queue from these ladies and just making it work for me and my party! This year we're staying in London and we've decided to invite a few friends over for a fun and easy going Christmas party!
I've started working on my "Feliz Navidad" theme by going for accessories which are both bright and happy!
I'll be making the paper flowers, paper bunting (or Papel cortado/ papel picado), garlands and using rich coloured blousy flowers for a centrepiece plus lots of fairy lights, church candles, recycled brightly illustrated food tins, cactus and giant confetti to adorn the table. Adding a hint of rich golds and deep hues will make it even more special so I really can't wait to get started.
For example I love the white paper bunting which is still beautiful but not as bright and zingy so that'll calm down the whole scheme but the rest will be a colourful fiesta for the eyes!

That's the thing, you really don't have to stick rigidly to the theme or to the type of event it was initially created for, you can mix and match and either go all out or just use some elements which fit in with your lifestyle and your home as well as party type.
There is definitely room to explore and add your very own twist to it too but as a starting point this book offers a wealth of ideas and inspiration!

So with great advice on choosing themes, setting the scene, how to host a stress free dinner party and even down to choosing your play list to create an inviting ambiance I know that many of you will enjoy this book as much as I did.
I am  hopeful that 2017 will become a year of celebrations and good times (cue the high kicks!) and with these two creative women showing us how to set the perfect scene... well, it'll be a doddle! Whether you buy this book for yourself or as a gift for the ultimate party girl (or boy) this will definitely be one of those titles that will prove to be of great use and not just a coffee table book.

That's it, all that's left to say is that we hope you have a very Happy Christmas and may the new year be kind and FUN but for now lets go party!!!

Friday, 9 December 2016

Our top Hand made gifts for Christmas...well you can actually call it our "Gift guide"!!!

Hand made is not just for Christmas but we'd love it if more people did buy into the idea that X-mas gift giving is something that should be done off the peg, with thought, love, attention and care so Christmas can be the ideal time for showing just that!
So many people spend a fortune buying a shed load of gifts for their family and loved ones when in fact purchasing just one or two great, high quality, original hand crafted items will not just last a lifetime but will bring a wide smile to the receiver!

Here's out top 10 gifts we'd like to share with you...

Number One:

Fun and naughty incense holders by Liv & Dom -though there is so much more to these two! From textiles to other adorable clay sculptures!

photo ©: Liv&Dom

Number Two:

Woodland beauty made in the UK by a very talented designer. The Aviary is a long time favourite and I just love this acorn necklace... mighty oaks from little acorns grow!

Pan Pendant ©photo by The Aviary

Number Three:

For the cat lady who's got it all, iron patch from Bel's Art World! Seriously, there's nothing wrong with being a cat lady and don't worry if you're not, Bel has lots of gorgeous patches to make anyone smile! I personally love the box of kittens...


Number four:

And another claytastic offering... well we do love ceramics so why not treat your loved one (or yourself) to a class? They say that working with your hands is the best de-stresser and The Clay Collective at Hackney Downs Studios offer gift vouchers so that's sorted!

©Clay Collective

Number five:

And speaking of stress, we'd love a head massage to end what's been a trying year! I'm sure you all know someone who could use a little TLC and Head & Hands is not only a place where you can get healing hands wrapped around your noggin but there's also a web shop which sells the most stunning array of healing, well being focused and hand made products!


Number Six:

For your master-chef come humanitarian, here's a perfect gift... "cook for Syria" Is not just a recipe book but it'll be helping thousands of people through Unicef and through this amazing project! Go on, Kiss the cook!

Number Seven:

This is not just for kids but for all sorts of Happy little folks!
From wooden toys, building blocks to home decor this perfectly formed skandi inspired hand made East London based indie-company is one we know you'll love!


Number Eight:

And for the crafting scribe... The Joy of Lettering, by Gabri Joy Kirkendall and Jaclyn Escalera, published by Quatro Books. 
A handy how-to-guide for any one wishing to learn the art of sign writing, calligraphy and modern typography! With over 50 tips, techniques and lessons for creating your very own beautiful fonts to amazing greeting cards and other fab projects! Perfect for boys and girls!!!


Number Nine:

For any budding D.I.Y. paper artists these craft kits from Paper & Wood are just amazing and no need to be a night owl as you can make these in a day...or twooooo! Well... maybe a bit more but this is what Boxing day was made for, sitting in front of the telly, eating left overs and keeping busy making up your Christmas presents!

Number Ten:

And finally...
because we think that pets are part of the family too here's a couple of dog and cat friendly gifts... though we know that not everyone sticks to the traditional so for any snake charmers and hamster wranglers have a quick look on Etsy as I'm sure you'll find something for your little sweetheart!
First up is this cute floral collar. Not only will your pooch look dapper but also pretty smart on his/her lead! There's a great selection of collars on the Home & Hound shop on Etsy!
Dog collar by ©HomeandHoundUK

The Ludipuss interactive Cat Tank, Scratching post, Cat bed with moving laser, Ping pong balls and mice! What more could your cat want? Check out the Ludipuss shop on Etsy... I wonder if you can get some army cat helmets too for General Mittens and First Lieutenant Hissy Mc Claws?

So there you go... I hope we've helped somehow but ultimately it doesn't matter what you buy -personally I find it all too commercial- so if you don't want to spend any money then maybe bake some cake, do something nice for someone or just be there! Supporting friends and loved ones through these modern times is a gift too!
We wish you a very happy and peaceful Christmas whatever you do and who ever you spend it with! This year we're staying put at home with the cat and having a get together with our nearest and dearest friends because that's what it's all about...though I am seriously tempted by the Cat Tank!!!!

and the Craft Guerrilla Army!

Friday, 18 November 2016

Make it Own It Love it...The debut book by Matt Chapple!

Many of you will remember Matt Chapple, winner of the BBC's 2015 Great British Sewing Bee and Make it  Own It  Love it is his new (and first but hopefully not last) book!
Well of course you'll remember him -Why wouldn't you? He's the ex squaddie red head with the wide smile!- because he beat off stiff competition from Annie, Alex, Neela, Amanda, Ryan, Paul, Deborah and the two other finalists Lorna and Neil to be crowned Britain’s best amateur sewer!
Published by Jacqui Small, Matt's debut title is now available to buy. Take a look at the end of the post for your exclusive East London Craft Guerrilla blog reader discount code...


First things first, I have to confess... though I'm no expert dress maker as a teen I used to make a lot of my clothing!
Don't get too excited, my makes was pretty much sewn together with hope and out of desperation as it was just too hard finding alternative clothing in a small town so making my own was the next best thing! But it wasn't particularly done well, it served its purpose but mostly things ended up being held together by safety pins. Hey, that's a fashion statement too but... it also was to keep seams together!!!

In all fairness I have progressed but I don't really make that much of my clothing anymore but I have to the point of making a circle skirt from start to finish. Even though I have the basics there's still lots to learn. And I'm keen!

But the reality is that Matt puts my very basic sewing skills to shame -Gosh, do you remember how easily he managed to whip up his beautifully tailored leather biker jacket and a sweet baby blue tartan kilt?! Seriously amazing!!!- so when I was given this book to review I was pretty happy to do so as I thought it would be the type of book that I could dip into when ever I needed to.

It's got lots of handy hints and tips like how to hem jeans and change buttons on coats. It's a nice book and you won't be just up-cycling, mending and up keeping what you already own but also making clothing from scratch, all be it the projects are not super complicated but I'm not against that at all as I do think simplicity is sometimes (if not mostly!) the best way!
And also I don't want to be put off by super elaborate sewing projects either... well not yet!
Making clothing is fun but it can also be daunting especially when following a pattern or doing more complex bits like adding an invisible zip or darts* to a skirt.

*Note: OK so if the word darts has you conjuring images of Bully the Bullseye Bull in your mind then I think forget about sewing and just get yourself down to the nearest pub! But if you have a slight notion that it's to do with tailoring then this book might just be what you need to help you get further into sewing and making your very own clothing. 

I've actually got my eye on the red and white stripy top and I'm looking forward to adding it to my Spring to do sewing project list... ha and the skirt!

Matt's book is easy and straightforward with comprehensible step by step tutorials and even a guide to sewing machines and tools.
Not everyone is born with a natural ability to thread a machine or or with the knowledge of which foot to use for a specific task but it's something anyone can learn... and there's a whole section explaining just that and even a handy guide to tools and how to use them so you'll be sewing like a pro in no time!
So if you're after something which will take you to the next level of dressmaking then I think it's a great book.
It's not necessarily a book for the experienced sewer but perfect for those who are taking their first shaky steps into the wonderful world of dress making/tailoring with clear and concise sections including: Tool Kit to Cool Kit, Fabrics, Stitching, Make it your own, Make it from Scratch, Make it wearable, Make it live longer to a handy glossary and resources page in the back.

But what I do really like about this book is that there's a lot of altering projects like tightening trouser legs, mending and maintaining clothing too, and even a handy laundry guide and a repair section. It's 100% up my street as having an ecologically sound wardrobe isn't always easy to have but with Matt's book you'll be a step closer!

If you'd like to get your Craft Guerrilla blog reader discount for Make It, Own It, Love It at the discounted price of £16 including p&p* (RRP: £20), telephone 01903 828503 or email mailorders@lbsltd.co.uk  and quote the offer code QPG462. *UK ONLY - Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Flapjacks, a good old fashioned sweet treat... and not just for Halloween!!!

Spooktacular treats like Flapjacks are easy and inexpensive to make using cupboard staples and a healthier alternative to Halloween candy! Though I do like candy -a lot!-  I also love Flapjacks.... and they don't seem as naughty when you're consuming your own weight in them! Not that I'd advise anyone to eat too much sugar but if there's one day that you can go a little mad on the sweet stuff it's on Halloween so... you know, enjoy within reason!

So below is my basic Flapjack recipe which is super easy to knock up! It takes all of about 10 minutes and about 20/25 minutes to bake.

Note: You can omit the dried fruit and nuts if you wish but as it's Samhain I decided to treat myself to the max and added as much of the extras as I wanted. You can use the basic recipe and add your own twists like a caramel and chocolate topping or even add to the mix some coconut, banana chips and/ or chocolate chips!

Here's my Flapjack recipe: 
  • 150g butter 
  • 65g Light Brown soft sugar
  • 3 generous tbsp of Golden Syrup
  • 250g rolled oats (porridge oats) 
The extras...
  • zest of one orange
  • hand full of dried cranberries (or substitute for which ever fruit you prefer like figs, dates, apricots or mixed peel)
  • 80 grams of mixed nuts (walnuts, macadamia, pecan, almonds, Brazil nuts etc.)
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon 


Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan) gas 4.
Grease and line a shallow 20cm square tin with grease proof / baking paper.
Put the butter, sugar and Golden Syrup into a medium pan and gently heat until melted. chop nuts and zest a large orange into the oat mix.
Remove the butter and sugar mixture from the hob and leave to slightly cool.
Stir in the oat mixture until incorporated.
Turn mix into the tin, level and press the mixture evenly and firmly with the back of a spoon.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden around the edges. Do not over bake or it'll become hard and quite dry.
Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack still in the tin for10 minutes then mark into 12 or 16 pieces whilst still warm.
If you're adding a layer of chocolate topping remember to do so while the Flapjacks are still in the tin.
Cool completely before turning out onto a board and cutting again with a sharp knife.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Dont get cross, cross stitch: After class resources!

Following the fab workshop at Head & Hands on Monday I thought I'd add a few resources to the blog so participants could go on to finish their wall hoops... 2 hours flew by, we could had stayed there all night stitching and chatting!!!
Lots of you made a great start but yeah, I'd love to see what decorative bits you're adding to your wall hoops... the stitched "sentiments" looked awesome but I know you wanted to do more...

So even if you weren't there and would like to try a bit of Cross Stitching here's a little guide so anyone can start their adventure into subversive cross stitch!

Photo credit: ©Head&Hands

Photo credit: ©Head&Hands

Photo credit: ©Head&Hands

Well, subversive if you want it to be, we won't judge if it's not, and if you use our hints, tips and resources to create panels featuring kittens in baskets then that's fine too. We just want to get people making and getting into the healing and energizing craft flow!
Crafting is definitely not just about making but also about finding time and ways to switch off from the stresses of the modern world!
So if you'd like to join us at a future workshop then sign up to our mailing list here: craftguerrilla@yahoo.com

But if you'd like to try your hand at Cross Stitching here are a few websites which might help you get into the amazing world of Cross Stitching:

Create your own pattern using your own art work and photos -great for flowers, boarders and portraits:


For fonts:


Intro for beginners:

Though some points like using blunt embroidery needles aren't necessarily a rule in my opinion but a guide... use what you feel is comfortable for you! Remember learning a technique is good but the action and the overall result is what's important:

Subversive Cross Stitch inspiration:


Here are a few photos of our class... we had such a hoot! Thank you all who came and to Amanda for hosting it the beautiful communal space in Central Parade, Walthamstow East London.

Photo credit: ©Head&Hands

Photo credit: ©Head&Hands

If you'd like to know more about Head & Hands and other workshops available there please visit their website!

See you all soon and keep on stitching!!!

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Crochetterie, a man friendly craft book!

Crochetterie, Cool Contemporary Crochet for the Creatively-minded by Molla Mills (Jacqui Small, RRP £20), is out now!
This perfectly formed man friendly book by Finnish crafty super star Molla Mills is a great new publication aimed predominantly at getting men into crochet! 
It's the sequel to the much loved Modern Crochet and this new book continues to pack beautiful scandi style to the brim!

Finding the perfect craft discipline for your skills is sometimes hard and even harder when there's a perception of suitability mainly when it comes to genders.
What Molla manages to do is offer up crochet that is gender free, though obviously - and like I said before - it is primarily geared to men but if you're not a guy don't let that put you off... it has lots of projects that anyone can make so it is in fact a very unisex book.

When we hosted our craft nights I noticed how most participants were female so getting guys involved has been a long time struggle and one I totally understand.
However we did get the occasional man joining in but hand on heart... I wish there had been more! We did try to have a selection of activities which suited everyone regardless and we do believe that
making is a beautiful thing which all genders, ages and backgrounds can benefit from!

Not only does craft making have health benefits it also provides a nice respite from the modern world plus I kinda think it's pretty beautiful to see a guy being creative and using his hands to make useful objects too.

Even though it's targeted at the male of the species I would still be happy to make any of the projects in this book as being super feminine, aka girlie girl, isn't my thing either!
It's really refreshing to see a book which is open to all. As you know there are already tons of books offering saccharine sweet projects, which if that's your type of thing great, but if you prefer things a bit less twee and pink then wrap your peepers around this amazingly beautiful book... Excuse the pun but... it'll have you hooked!!!

Molla's book is divided into sections and it even has instructions for beginners as well as a whittle  your own crochet hook tutorial. The patterns are divided into categories: Home, Clothes, Travel and Equipment so there are lots of great projects for all sorts of abilities as well as functions.
With easy to follow patterns that any novice can get to grips with I'm sure that even the most anxious of crocheters will be able to finish at least one of the easier projects!
Some of our favourites are the quirkier projects like make your own death metal band banner or the speaker slip cover so all in all you can still craft and keep your Rock n roll kudos alive and kicking!
What I also particularly like is the generous end section which is about 20 pages long with instructions so all in all you can pretty much complete all the 30+ projects on your own. It covers a lot of the basics which for me was excellent as I'm not a crochet pro.
There's also a nice extra bit - Maintenance- which shows you how to stretch after long crafting sessions. As some of you might know crochet claw for example is a real thing and your body can stiffen up when crocheting.
Molla's Brother, Pasi, a yoga instructor shows us a few exercises to help us  stretch and breath so we can keep on crafting!

The actual look of the book is beautifully rugged, outdoorsy and yes I'm gonna say it again... very Scandi!
Apart from the awesome selection of projects and beautiful photos there are lots of  tattooed blokes with beards in chunky sweaters on skateboards looking dashingly handsome. But you know what? I like it... in fact I kinda have a crush on it!
And there are cute dogs too, look at that husky in a bow tie...what's not to love?!


So yes, I think it's pretty awesome and I'm sure many of you would love this book too and so will your man friends. Bearded or not, guys need some more craft in their lives so yes if you do one good deed this year get the man/men in your life crocheting!
Crochet is pretty mechanical and can be a feat of engineering so crocheting kinda suits the masculine brain... though hey, I'm no one to generalise but through experience I found that lots of men like the more technical crafts!

OK so it is a craft book that has made me swoon -"stop being so gushy!" you cry- though in my defence I can say that bringing men folk into the craft fold is something which we've fought for for a long time so it's really more admiration and respect that I feel for what Molla's achieved.
What Molla's managed to do is make craft accessible and that's amazing!

But it's also so much more than just a craft book... her projects are fun, useful and all though I'm not an expert crocheter this has nudged me into wanting to learn more.
Blimey I've even managed to understand what all the abbreviations mean and that was something that had put me off crochet originally... patterns scare me but now I feel that I can actually try a project without coming out in stress hives!
So if it gets someone excited and wanting to explore crochet -or any other craft discipline- then that's gotta be good... Right?!

To order 9781845436421 Crochetterie with a special Craft Guerrilla blog reader discount code for £16.00* including p&p, telephone 01903 828503 and quote offer code QPG452
Or send  a cheque made payable to :- Littlehampton Book Services Mail Order Department, Littlehampton Book Services, PO Box 4264, Worthing, West Sussex BN13 3TG. 

Please quote the offer code QPG452 and include your name and address details. *UK ONLY - Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.