Category Archives: Papercrafts

Peace cranes

Apologies for the lack of posting lately, I’ve been too busy making to tell you about what I’ve been making! So let’s start catching up.

Earlier in August, the world remembered the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 70 years ago, an unimaginable act of destruction that brought about much-needed peace.

While the news was full of debate about the use of nuclear weapons and the state of the world in 1945, all I could think about was how terrifying it would have been for the Japanese civilians living in those cities.

I’m not passing judgement on history: my personal morals tell me that using nuclear weapons is wrong, but I also recognise that the bombings stopped the war, prevented the loss of more lives and brought about peace. An atom is so small, it’s hard to grasp how it could cause such extremes of negatives and positives.

So, given that we’re lucky enough to benefit from the peace brought about by these terrible events, I think the least we can do is take a little time to remember those people who suffered all the negatives so that we could enjoy all the positives.

As my small act of commemoration, I took some origami papers to work and three of us made cranes together as a symbol of peace.

Origami peace cranes

Origami peace cranes

With each fold, I contemplated peace, life and death: how life can change in a moment; what I’d want my loved ones to know if I never saw them again; what exactly is a meaningful death; what can ordinary people do to help bring about peace. I don’t have any answers to share with you, but I like that these simple little paper cranes helped me with some deep thought.

Origami peace cranes trio

Origami peace cranes trio

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Posted by on August 22, 2015 in Papercrafts


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Button club

Button club

If you read my previous post, Buttoned Up, you’ll know that everything’s gone ‘buttons’ recently. So on Tuesday this week (17th June 2014), me and some crafty friends at work held the first meeting of ‘button club’!

(Btw it also happened to be the same day that my cousin gave birth to a gorgeous son, Mitch Mcmillan, who I made this blanket for recently.)

Anyway, so, we all brought some buttons along and enjoyed looking at each other’s stashes. Here are Becca and Lizzie, who were so busy looking at buttons, they didn’t notice me get my camera out!

Becca & Lizzie looking at buttons

Becca & Lizzie looking at buttons

Not only were there some fab buttons to look at, but also some interesting ways of storing buttons. Becca had an old tin (once used for tobacco), I’ve got a really little drawer unit, and Lizzie had this nifty tin in the shape of a book (by Cath Kidston):

Button tin in the shape of a book!

Button tin in the shape of a book!

There were plenty of interesting buttons in our stashes – different materials, colours, shapes and engraved patterns. But we were all in agreement by the end that there was just one button that was the most impressive – it came from Lizzie’s stash and here she is looking proud of it:

Lizzie's amazing button

Lizzie’s beautiful button

We’ve nicknamed this the ‘naked lady’ button, for obvious reasons. I particularly like the stylish cape (if that is a cape?), even though she’s not bothered with any other clothes…

The intricacy of the design is what we all loved, especially considering that this button is only 1.5cm (½in) wide! We’ve no idea where this button has come from, so there’s no chance of getting any more, but that’s the beauty of unique buttons like this.

Do you have any ideas for what project this button would be good for? I’m thinking a cape or scarf, in honour of the lady on the button. Do you have any interesting buttons?


Posted by on June 22, 2014 in Beading, Crochet, Knitting, Papercrafts, Sewing


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Cracking card

At this time of year, I find there’s a lot of post-Christmas crafting to do. One of the things I like to do is look back through the Christmas cards I’ve been given (I love how they’re all so different). (I know it might be a bit ‘last month’ to be talking about Christmas, but I’ve only just got around to doing this.)

I keep the really special cards in a box in the attic. With the other ones, I like to cut up the fronts and reuse them next Christmas as gift tags. Some might see it as being a cheap-skate, but I like to think of it as being crafty, thrifty and eco-friendly. And some of the pictures are so lovely that they can look nicer than shop-bought gift tags.

Anyway, there was one Christmas card this time that fell into a third category: great cards for crafting inspiration! I love getting handmade cards, especially ones that give me great ideas for my own cardmaking.

Cracker card

Cracker card

This cracker card looks quite innocent when you first open it up. Then you realise what happens when you open it…

Cracker card pulled… bang!


The card has a bang just like a real cracker! It’s such a simple idea, but so creative and fun.

You can buy these cracker snaps for just a few pence each. Then you just fold and decorate some plain white card, and write the greeting inside. Cut small slits in the front fold and slide in the snap. Tape the snap to the back of the card front. That’s it!

I’d love to make some of these next Christmas, to make the season go with a bang!

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Posted by on January 15, 2014 in Papercrafts


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Cutting edge of history

I’ve always been fascinated by history, particularly influential people and interesting genealogical stories. I think that’s why I like TV shows like Who Do You Think You Are? and Heir Hunters.

I’ve been on my own history adventure recently, thanks to a rather plain-looking pair of scissors!

Vintage scissors

Vintage scissors

I noticed these little scissors recently at my parents’ house, next to my mum’s jewellery box. In an instant, I was totally captivated by their vintage charm – look how fine the metal is around finger holes, and how beautifully the metal curves from here to the pivot point.

I joked to my mum that they looked ancient and she said she’d had them for as long as she could remember. She knows that I have a soft spot for vintage knick-knacks, so she insisted that I have them. (I resisted a little, but gave in quickly with a possible too-loud yay!)

Anyway, when I got them home, I had a good look over them. The blades don’t feel very sharp any more, but the pivot is still very strong (unlike some of my more modern scissors). The metal has a beautiful dark, matt quality, with just a little rust under the pivot point. Then I turned them over…

Vintage scissors: other side

Vintage scissors: other side

On this side, I realised there was some writing under the pivot, so I looked a little closer…

Vintage scissors close-up

Vintage scissors close-up

In case you can’t see, it says ‘W.P All W Parkin & Sons Sheffield’. I felt a pang of excitement as a I realised this could be a craft artefact with its own history, so I set out to find out more about W Parkin & Sons. A quick internet search turned into a 2-hour investigation! I’ve not found out all that much, but here’s what I do know…

W Parkin & Sons, Sheffield, were just one of many steel companies in the area during the 19th century and right up until the 1970s. In case you’re unaware, Sheffield was a hub of steel production in the UK, from the industrial revolution until its decline in the 1970s and 1980s, due to more competitive prices abroad. Sheffield’s steelworks were huge and played a key role in producing essential items for the war effort.

I’m personally interested in the craft tools they produced, which seem to have included scissors, knives and saws. According to various sources, W Parkin & Sons occupied premises in many different parts of the city, including Sylvester Street, Granville Street, and land between Solly Street and White Croft. All of these addresses are now either office blocks, housing estates, or crumbling, boarded-up buildings with no hint of the important activity that once occurred there.

One of the internet results that came up was for the census records. There was a William Parkin in the 1911 Census, described as a ‘Steel Merchant’, aged 64. I found the same man in previous census records, described as ‘Steel Manufacturer’ in 1901, ‘Steel and File Manufacturer’ in 1891, ‘Cuttery Manufacturer Employing About 100 Hands’ in 1881, a Clerk Merchant in 1871, a Scholar in 1861, and no job in 1851 (but he was only 4 years old!). I’m not sure whether this is the founder or one of the forefathers of the company, but it’s still interesting to see one man’s career progression!

It’s sad that these once-thriving factories are now falling down, and that there doesn’t seem to be much record of a company that endured for so long, employing so many, and making charming historic items like my humble scissors. I’ll keep looking for more information…


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New Year’s resolutions

So the Christmas trimmings have been packed away for another year and as is the tradition at this time of year, I’ve been thinking about resolutions for 2013 – more specifically, crafty resolutions that I’d like to make…

1 I’d like to get my stash more organised. I always associate spring cleaning with the new year, and I dream of having a craft stash that’s perfectly tidy and ordered, so that everything is easy to find, uses space efficiently, keeps my tools well protected and my fabrics, yarns and threads safe from dirt, damage and dust. I’ve already got a few plastic boxes but I’m thinking of getting a few more – they don’t cost the earth, but aren’t very pretty. A nice workbox or workbasket would be lovely, but their shape is usually not a great use of space so it probably wouldn’t hold all that much. Perhaps an inventory would be helpful as well because I’m sure there are crafty goodies I’ve got that I’ve forgotten about.

2 I’d like to finish some of my unfinished projects. We’ve all got them – projects we’ve got planned to do or that are half-made, but we’ve never got round to finishing them. A couple of years ago, I put all mine together in one bag, in the hope that in between projects, I would delve into the bag and finish something. But it’s not happened yet…

3 I’d like to make some projects that use up all those little bits and bobs in my stash – odd balls of yarn and small amounts of fabric. So I’m thinking of making small accessories or little things for little ones, using striped or patchwork effects. Or something…

4 I’d like to try something different. The beauty of crafting is that there are always new designs, new techniques and new products to try! There are lots of things I’ve seen that I’ve thought “Oh, I’d love to try that some day”. Some of them are really basic, such as knitting or crocheting with beads and lacework – others will take more thought, such as making a quilt and using shrink-effect interfacing in a sewing project.

5 I’d like to teach someone to craft. There’s nothing more rewarding than sharing the craft you love with other people and watching their confidence, excitement and passion flourish – all because of you! So in 2013, I’d really like to spread the love of crafts a bit further by teaching other people how to knit or sew or crochet. I’ve also thought about joining a club, but struggled to find one close enough at the right time. Maybe I’ll start one at work… My nieces aren’t quite old enough to knit yet but they do like learning new things and there are plenty of other fun crafty things we could do.

6 I’d like to do some more designing. I think 2012 was a great year for my sewing designs and I’m really proud of the work I’ve done for Sewing World. It seems like there are loads of independent craft designers out there creating great designs, and they both inspire me (if they can do it, it must be possible for me to do it too) and terrify me (there are so many designs out there now, what if my stuff isn’t good or original). I recently joined Craftsy and it seems quite straightforward to list patterns for sale, so I think this will be my next move.

7 I’d like to set up a craft project for charity. Crafters are some of the most generous people I’ve met and there are always charity fund-raising projects on the go to get involved in. I regularly give money to charity and take part in other people’s charity craft projects, because it’s a great feeling to do something practical to help others. I’d like to take it one step further and set up my own craft for charity project. I like the idea of setting myself some kind of crafting challenge and getting sponsors.

Do you think seven resolutions is too many?! I think if I can achieve three or four, that will be pretty good going. Right, I better start getting on with it…


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Special occasions

I love special occasions, especially when those events happen on a national scale like the diamond jubilee celebrations or charity appeals like children in need. 

And this weekend, it felt like the whole country was joining together to take part in a historic event. Of course, I enjoyed the festivities from the comfort of my own home, but the feeling of togetherness was no less strong. 

That’s what I like about special occasions: people put aside their other differences to enjoy something special together. 

There are so many events and occasions throughout the year – in just the past couple of week, I’ve been busy with birthdays, engagements and anniversaries. 

If I’ve got time, I always love hand making greeting cards. They’re so much more personal than shop-bought ones.

I first got into making my own cards when I worked on Scrapbook Inspirations magazine. I worked on it for the first six months of it’s life, helping out on the launch and beyond. I also helped out on Papercraft Inspirations for a while after that. I loved how the simplest ideas can create brilliant cards that look way more complicated than they really are. 

Recently, I helped out on Papercraft Inspirations again, putting together a bookazine of simple card designs, which has been great for giving me ideas for cards that I can’t wait to try out.

Quick & Easy Card Ideas bookazine

Quick & Easy Card Ideas is out now and includes 167 card designs for all sorts of occasions, as well as some pretty papers. Happy cardmaking!

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Posted by on June 7, 2012 in Papercrafts



Labour of love

Crafting is often a labour of love.
But the successful crafter always reminds her or his self of the satisfaction of the end result: the finished item.
It’s the exact same feeling when you’re making a magazine, or in my case recently, a bookazine.

I’ve worked in magazines pretty much since I finished uni in 2000. Future Publishing in Bath gave me my first proper job and then my first editorial job, working on Cross Stitch Collection, and I’ve fallen ever deeper in love with crafting.

Like some kind of magnet (or vortex!), I’m always drawn back to working at Future. Many of the talented people I’ve worked with over the years are still here and there are so many familiar faces that it always feels like coming home. I came home again in June 2011 and have been lucky enough to work on various bookazines for the craft division.

Since June, I’ve worked on a Christmas Cards bookazine for Papercraft Inspirations, a winter knits bookazine for Simply Knitting and an updated version of The Essential Guide to Sewing

Some of the craft bookazines I've worked on recently

I’ve happily become the go-to gal for bookazines and have considered changing my username at Future to Beckazine…

But my latest bookazine project has been a true labour of love, involving a significant amount of time, effort, sweat and tears (although thankfully, no blood!). It’s called Craft & Click and is all about how to make more of your crafting through various online activities.

Craft & Click bookazine

If you’re reading this blog then you’re already pretty web-savvy, but there’s something in the bookazine for everyone. Here are a few low-res examples to show you what’s inside…

Craft & Click has features for beginners…

There are loads of crafters who haven’t yet taken the plunge and gotten themselves on the internet (we all know at least one crafter like this!) so we wanted to create a bookazine that would help crafters to get online, explain how to use some of the best websites, and show how crafting can be enhanced by the internet.

For more advanced web-crafters (like you and me!) there’s still plenty to learn – I found out loads that I didn’t know about Facebook, Etsy, podcasts, group craft projects, and online classes you can take.

…and features for more advanced online crafters

The Craft & Click bookazine goes on sale tomorrow (2nd Feb) so please check it out and let me know what you think. You can find out how to get it here. Hope you like it!


Posted by on February 1, 2012 in Cross stitch, Knitting, Papercrafts, Sewing


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