Category Archives: Craft

the writing bug

I have really enjoyed doing bits and pieces of writing lately… on Friday I made a trip to the Hannah Zakari shoppe to pick up my copy of their spangly new zine, a collection of interviews, reviews, arty features and tutorials. I was excited to get my copy – not only because it’s a beautiful little magazine full of insider info on some of the fun places to visit in Edinburgh – but also to see my name in print! I wrote them a little article on eateries around Edinburgh’s urban coastline and also provided some photos for the Granny Green’s interview with my co-organiser, Sarah (also known as @whoopdedoo).





I was incredibly tempted by all of the very pretty things in the shoppe – a wide range of jewellery, prints, bags, postcards and accessories available for an equally wide range of prices. In the end I caved and bought this pair of cute lightning earrings, which seem appropriate for this weekend’s weather, and I have been wearing them every day accordingly…





Also, The Jazz Emporium blog published another of my guest posts yesterday – a piece on my vintage makeover at The Sheffield Vintage Fair last Saturday. You can read it here. The Vintage Fair runs fairs all over England and they are definitely worth checking out.

I’m also potentially going to be a regional blogger for another arts blog, but more of that later…




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fashion show tonight!

Just a quick post today, to let you know that there is a (free entry!) fashion show on tonight at The Granary on The Shore It is going to be showcasing the work of Edinburgh based fashion label Nayane, and I’ll be taking some photos. For more info – and to see some of the pictures I took at the last one – see my guest post on The Jazz Emporium blog.
The show starts at 8pm and will run until 9ish, to be followed by live music. Maybe see you tonight!

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july magpie

Just back from the July Magpie Market – had a great day taking photos of all the wonderful stalls and crafting with the Granny Green’s crew.

My interview with Emily Chandler, founder and organiser of Magpie Market, is now up on the Jazz Emporium blog.

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exciting news x2!

I have two exciting pieces of news to share with you today!

1) I have been selected to be the weekly guest blogger for the wonderful Jazz Emporium blog for the next two months! The Jazz Emporium is not only a blog full of vintage fashion, articles on style icons, fashion photography and style competitions, but it is the name of Janine and Veronique’s upcycled, re-worked vintage label. They sell their clothes and accessories online and at vintage and craft fairs in Glasgow and Edinburgh and I’m incredibly excited to be writing for them over this summer! They have welcomed me with my own profile – here

My first article for them will go online this Saturday and I’ll have something up every Saturday throughout July and August.

2) My other exciting news is that I’ve been accepted by Stills photography gallery as a volunteer over the next couple of  months… I met some of the lovely folk there this evening and am really looking forward to my time volunteering with them.

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granny greens big day out at magpie market

Just a quick post to let you know that Granny Greens, the craft and networking group I co-run, will be holding a crafting table at this Sunday’s Magpie Market (who have just posted my photos of the last one!). If you are in Edinburgh and into crafting, come along! I, for one, will be both snapping and stitching… For more info, see the Granny Green’s blog, at

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By Royal Appointment… sort of!

Last Wednesday 1st June, I was invited by Josiah of The Grassmarket Community Project ( to be the host photographer for a Royal visit from HRH the Duchess of Rothesay (otherwise known as Camilla).

Camilla, HRH Duchess of Rothesay

This was something new for me – not just doing a Royal photoshoot! –  but also being trusted to take photos for an event that was quite so high profile. Being briefed about the schedule for the morning alongside The Scotsman photographer and reporter by the Press Officer for Clarence House was a little surreal. As I was full of a persistent and horrible cold at the time, I was relying on adrenalin and Berocca to get me through.

The Grassmarket Community Project is a fantastic initiative – it is actually more of an umbrella organisation for a collection of projects – a good summary of what they do is given on their website –

Throughout the week the Grassmarket Community project offers a variety of workshops aimed at developing people’s self worth, social networks and skills.

Craft, art and community are all central themes in our work. Participants have the opportunity to join in with GRoW wood workshop, the Plough to Plate cookery and gardening program, the Grassroots Textiles workshop, Greyfriars Herb Garden or one of our many arts and education activities.

Although primarily aimed at individuals facing deep social exclusion, the Grassmarket Community Project encourages members of the local community to join in and work side by side with participants from all walks of life.’

Meeting GRoW Project woodworkers

I really admire the ethos and inclusive approach that the Project takes. Craft, art and community are major preoccupations for me and I resonate with the values and themes that run through the Project’s work. When I worked at The LOT, formerly at the other end of The Grassmarket, we partnered with the Grassmarket Community Project and showcased creations from the GRoW wood workshop, and hosted fundraising events.

Although I have visited the Project before on a number of occasions, I hadn’t realised quite the extent of the work that they do. As I was shadowing the Duchess throughout the visit I had a great opportunity to see all of the different aspects of their work and I was impressed by the passion that everyone involved seemed to have for their crafts and for the community as a whole.

Meeting Joel from the Music Project

One of the challenges to this visit as a photo-taking assignment was weaving in and out of the vast numbers of people  who were gathered there; and then staying out of line of the photos that the guy from the Scotsman was taking. I was doing a lot of ducking and crouching and standing on tiptoes, and was glad that I’d gone for the sensible converse option with my smart dress (even if it raised a few eyebrows amongst the officials).

I enjoyed the visit so much that I stayed around afterwards to find out more about the Project and got chatting to some of the ladies who are involved with the Textiles group, Cloot. As well as commissioning their own Greyfriars tartan, the group have done all sorts of textiles-focussed crafts – knitting, embroidery, weaving, bag-making, needle-felting and many more. I am now planning to join in with the group and hopefully pick up some new craft skills. They are always on the look out for new members of the group and for volunteers who can help with specialist crafts. They are also currently on the look-out for a volunteer who speaks Polish. To find out more about any of the craft groups, have a look at their website, or drop in some time; everyone is very friendly.

HRH meeting Pat, the Textiles Co-ordinator

Revd Dr Richard Frazer of Greyfriars Kirk, HRH Duchess of Rothesay and Josiah Lockhart, General Manager of the Greyfriars Community Project

Meeting volunteers from the Herb Garden project

HRH Duchess of Rothesay


Unveiling the commemorative plaque


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creative employment

As  I was made redundant nearly four months ago, from my dream job working as Arts and Events Manager for an independent arts charity and venue – The LOT – which closed down due to lack of funding, I have spent the majority of 2011 focussing on where I go next.

What will I do? How will I be employed? Do I have any choice in the matter? How do I use the time I have at the moment?

For, whilst a lot of my time is spent filling in job applications, scouring job websites, getting more intimately acquainted with Leith Jobcentre – ‘Plus’! and attending interviews, I am no longer working long hours and late nights managing gigs, arranging art exhibitions, writing website updates for the charity or attending management meetings. I have more time on my hands to be reflective, and to fulfil some of my other ambitions.

This ‘time to be reflective’ is a double-edged sword for someone like me – there is such a thing as thinking too much and shades of my Welsh melancholic ancestry can come through when I’m sitting on my own at home, opening another rejection letter (then automatically proof-reading all their typos and thinking that they really could do with me on the team).

Constructive reflection is an essential tool for growth, however; career-wise, yes, but also in terms of assessing where I am at in terms of creative fulfilment. I have always been someone who values creativity and art very highly and I have found various ways of expressing my creativity over the years – music, writing, acting, film-making, photography, dress-making, sewing… you name it, I have probably tried it at some point. I would not say I was an all-rounder. More of a dabbler.

Working at The LOT was fantastic in that I was surrounded by artists of many different disciplines; painters, poets, musicians, actors, comedians and so on. I loved my job as I was involved in the process of enabling art and music events to take place and supporting the artists to get their work out there. I enjoyed listening to the stories behind each exhibition, the inspiration behind the songs and the banter between the Front of House staff. I was heartbroken when The LOT closed down and I’m still getting over it.

Even whilst I was still working at The LOT, however, I was aware that I have a lot of observations, creations and imagination that I have been carrying around with me for years and that I needed to find a way of expressing this that was more focussed than the hopping in and out of different creative mediums that I have been doing for years.

Happily, the week that I entered the world of unemployment, a course on ‘The Artist’s Way’ started up in Leith, run by Mary Gordon (her website is This 12 week course explored the book , ‘The Artist’s Way’, by Julia Cameron. The timing was an example of the synchronicity that Julia Cameron teaches you will find if you go looking for it! One of the main premises of the book is that, if you move towards dedicating your time and your self to becoming an artist, then the ‘Universe’ or ‘God’ or ‘circumstances’ (depending on how you look at it) will throw things in your way to help you along towards your aim. You could also call these examples of synchronicity coincidences. I think that is perhaps a little cynical, but however you want to look at it, being open to and more aware of the world around you will increase the options and opportunities you are confronted with, and since doing the course, many more creative opportunities have come my way.

At the start of the course, Mary asked us what we hoped to get out of it by the end of it. My almost immediate, gut reaction was ‘focus’. Creativity for me, is emotionally linked with both aspiration and frustration. I love to immerse myself in the creative work of others – visiting craft fairs, art galleries, bookshops, vintage shops and watching films, theatre and tv dramas are how I relax and gain inspiration. I aspire to create work that other people will also appreciate, and that I will be proud of. I aspire to give people enjoyment through my creativity and to feel a sense of fulfilment at completing artistic projects. I aspire to make a contribution that is worth something and says something useful. Yet I realised that I have so many different ideas buzzing around and I start so many different projects that I lack the focus that my most successful creative friends have.

My husband is a very talented screenwriter ( – he is also very driven and focussed about what he does. He loves writing and so he writes. He has thrown all of his energies into this over the last few years and it is an inspiration to me to find my own craft and work at it. Similarly, the visual artists I really admire tend to be the ones who have spent a lot of time honing their craft… whilst having something to say and making a point through art is also very important, I struggle with the some of the empty statements and lack of effort that seems to have gone into some modern art.

I don’t want to restrict myself to one creative medium, as I don’t think that that is how I’m built. But I think I need to start to work on more defined projects, with more specific goals and timescales in mind, to help me to focus and achieve my creative aspirations.

I have always loved taking photos, and took the step of buying a digital slr a couple of years ago, and doing a couple of courses in photography at Stills (Scotland’s Centre For Photography). I have been focussing on this a lot more over the last weeks and months and am now also getting to grips with lomography. I see ‘photos’ everywhere I go, and always end up regretting it if I don’t have a camera on me. Fortunately the camera on my phone is also pretty good! I want to spend more time honing my craft and technical skills and I am starting to explore new ways of doing this.

I hope to share some of my photos on this blog, and also on my flickr page, both of which I have very recently set up, as part of my response to Cameo Curio‘s ‘Month of Marks’ (a month-long creativity challenge from Tammy and Hannah at Cameo Curio to themselves and the good creative folk of Edinburgh and the interweb to ‘make a mark’ through a creative act each day) . As the Artist’s Way course finished in mid-April, and I have had a sense of impending  birthday doom (I’m another year older on the 31st May), the fact that they chose May as the Month of Marks was again good timing for me, as it has made me consider how I move my ambition into action. Procrastination is one of the big enemies of my creativity, so I decided that during the month of May I would finally get around to properly setting up that flickr page I’d signed up for months ago, set up a blog and start regularly writing again and start shooting more events. I am pleased to say that I have managed to do all of these things and have been asked to take photos at a couple of exciting events in the near future…

One of my other major creative outlets over the last year has been crafting – most of the time with a focus on cross-stitch. As a child, my Mum taught myself and my sisters how to cross-stitch, along with many other crafts. I’d not done any for years until I picked up a cross-stitch bookmark kit at the Grassmarket Embroidery Shop. Since then I have made several more bookmarks, a couple of samplers, and I am now starting to adapt designs and create my own cross-stitch designs.

I have also been experimenting with other new crafts – such as knitting, crochet (that one was a bit of a non-starter!) and felting – mostly via Granny Green’s Big Night Out , the weekly craft drop-in that I helped to set up last September. We initially met up at The LOT every Monday night, but since the closure we have moved to Fredericks Cafe on Frederick Street – which does a very addictive white mocha and a well-balanced menu of cakes and salads. Being one of the organisers of Granny Green’s Big Night Out has also kept me busy – and inspired by all of the projects that people bring along with them to work on.

Granny Greens is a free event and open to anyone who wants to come along, anytime between 6pm and 830pm on Mondays. We have a programme of workshops and discussion groups, including book, film and photography groups and knitting and social media surgeries. In essence, however, we are a craft drop-in and so every week, whether there’s a workshop or discussion on or not, people will also bring in their knitting, cross-stitch or whatever other project they have going. Its a friendly atmosphere and there’s a lot of swapping of ideas, collective knowledge pooling and opportunities to learn new skills. Another of my aims for the ‘Month of Marks’ was to learn a new craft skill and, a few weeks ago at Granny Greens, I was taught how to knit by the very patient Jane . I’ve been click-clacking away ever since, producing a probably unwearable pink scarf, but with the confidence that I could make a very pretty cushion I have seen a design for.


The ‘Month of Marks’ is drawing to a close, but I feel hopeful for the community of creatives in Edinburgh – it feels to me like there is a current common longing for more collaborative ways of working. Too often creatives can get competitive with one another – its tough in the arts, particularly at the moment; there are only so many opportunities, so many bursaries, so many paid jobs. It has encouraged me, therefore, to read and take part in the Month of Marks, the 48 hour film project and Granny Greens Big Night Out. All of these are about the spirit of collaboration and sharing skills and challenging each other to imagine and create, and celebrate each other’s achievements. I want to continue to live out my creativity in dialogue and community.



Filed under Craft, Creativity, Cross-stitch, Photography, Ponderings