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HANDMADE BY CAROLINE

design, craft and daily creativity

2019 journal

18 December 2019

Season’s greetings

However you spend your end of year, please enjoy some time to rest, relax, eat, drink and be merry. I know I certainly will! If I get the chance I will be back here before the new year, but if not I raise a glass to the start of 2020. Let it be another great one. Thank you friends...


13 December 2019

Winter woollen cape

I’m not sure when it happened, but while my head was turned the weather changed from cool with blue skies, to snowy with white skies! I’m sure there will be aa appropriate time to wear my new cape (that I completed at the end of spring this year), but maybe not before Christmas. Or at least not before Christmas, in Regensburg! This pattern came from one of my beautiful Japanese sewing books and I used some medium weight checked wool that I bought in Yuzawaya  Kobe, a long time ago. It is a little bouncy in its texture, so I had to take care to keep things aligned. My Japanese is just good enough to decipher the very detailed and highly descriptive diagrams in the book - having diagrams makes it so much easier when the language it is published in is not your first language. I enjoy the challenge of working with these Japanese diagrams and creating my own item of clothing. Maybe I did not capture everything it suggests, but I am very happy with the outcome. I can also imagine this cape pattern in a medium weigh cotton in a plain colour. It will be good for layering over a rollneck with jeans and boots.

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23 November 2019

A little break from the journal

Just a note to say that I am working on some other projects for a few days and will be away from my journal. If you would like to order any greetings cards  please note that all online orders will not be packed and shipped before Monday 9 December, thank you for your patience.


22 November 2019

Creative travels continue...

I was lucky enough to visit Berlin a few weekends ago. It was the first time I have been and I am glad that I did. It is a city of contrasts - full of vibrant street art, important historical sites, multicultural restaurants and shops but also a place still building and rebuilding, remembering and developing. It has been 30 years since the Berlin wall came down. In real terms, that is such a short amount of time to create a unified city from scratch. I came away with a head full of thoughts, a sketchbook full of doodles and a stomach full of delicious food.

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11 November 2019

A creative solo trip to Munich

I recently took myself on a day trip to Munich, in search of a little creative time-out. I had seen the website for the Museum of Urban and Contemporary Art  and thought it looked a fun and different type of gallery to visit. It is only small, but once inside I felt like I had stepped back to my university studio days - there were creative people busy all round the building. The highlight of my trip was Timecapsule, by SWOON. Filling the walls of the gallery,  were ornately cut and beautifully coloured images of people, places and animals. The street art SWOON created is so fine in detail you could lose yourself in it. Along with found items and ephemera, the room tells a story as you pass through. It was great to be able to get up close to the wonderful creations, really taking in the forms and the story behind each section of the work. I love the texture in the photos I took on the day, but to do it justice you need to see it in real life.

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28 October 2019

Stunning Shuttleworth Collection

This summer, I visited The Shuttleworth Collection, in Bedfordshire, England. Set amongst green fields and with its own landing strip close to Biggleswade, the museum contains a superb collection of flying machines, promotional materials and other memorabilia. Not only do they sit in pristine condition in the hangars, but they actually fly too! Taken directly from their website, The Shuttleworth Collection is described as the following: 

"The Collection is under the custodianship of the Shuttleworth Trust, a registered charitable organisation (no. 307534) created in 1940 by Dorothy Shuttleworth in loving memory of her son Richard, after his tragic death in a flying accident aged 31. Our mission and purpose is for the: Promotion of Education and training in the science, practice and history of Aviation and Automotive transport; The promotion of Education and training in the science, practice Agriculture, food production and management of rural resources by making arrangements for the provision and conduct of a College.”

With regular events taking place at The Collection, The Swiss Garden and The House, there is so much to see, whether you have a direct interest in aviation or not. The staff members that I met in the restaurant and the shop, along with volunteers in the hangars, were all very friendly and devoted to their jobs. It felt like a treat to see all these amazing machines and have access to this special place. I am so pleased to see so much activity here! If you get the chance, take a day to visit yourself.

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18 October 2019

>>>> New seasonal greetings cards ready and on sale now! Autumn is here <<<<

Take a look at the for sale page of my website! I’m happy to announce my latest items for sale. Greetings cards for the change of season. Delicious and juicy pumpkins, rosehips and blackberries. Inspired by what I see around me and designed using my hand carved rubber stamps. Enjoy sending a handmade card to friends and family. Please note: I am currently improving the ‘add to cart’ and ‘buy now’ buttons on my for sale page. They will be completed soon but in the meantime please feel free to click the link to contact me regarding your order.

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4 October 2019

Rabbit soft toy success

A little while ago I made reference to a soft toy I was making for a special small person. Well, now that the birthday in question has passed, I can tell you about the gift I made. I was very pleased with the result and would thoroughtly recommend the following free pattern from Purl Soho. I have been following this website and associated Instagram page for many years and am always inspired by their products, creativity and free patterns too! I had a very soft, good quality Marks & Spencer brown furry jumper that I had worn and worn until the elbows were a little bald. Due to its perfect softness and colour, I decided it was ideal to cut up and make into the rabbit. Below you can see the finished result. Stuffed with toy stuffing and finished with floral cotton inner ears, a yellow ribbon and hand stitched black embroidered eyes, plus one of my Handmade by Caroline tape badges. The toughest part was wrapping him in a plastic bag for posting!

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19 September 2019

A little break from the journal

Just a note to say that I am working on some other projects for a few days and will be away from my journal. If you would like to order any greetings cards, please note that all online orders will not be packed and shipped before Monday 30 September, thank you for your patience.


6 September 2019

Beautiful book

As you may know, I love anything printed on paper and especially using one of the fantastic paper cut, foiling or embossing techniques. I recently saw this book online: Ocean, by Hélène Druvert, Emmanuelle Grundmann (published by Thames & Hudson) and knew I had to visit my local shop to check it out. It was just as stunning as I hoped for and I happily ordered a copy for a special friend of mine. Before I wrapped and gifted it, I took photos of the beautiful pages. The paper is uncoated and so the colours are slightly muted. One of my weaknesses. The pages take you on a journey through the ocean, visiting the inhabitants, the rock formations, the tides and many other important aspects. The use of laser-cut images is clever and stunning - layers of water are revealed from light aqua blue through to the deepest indigo. There is even a page inspired by The Great Wave off Kanagawa print, by Hokusai. Another of my weaknesses. I would not be surprised if I find myself ordering a copy to keep!

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18 August 2019

A little break from the journal 

Just a note to say that I am working on some other projects for a few days and will be away from my journal. If you would like to order any greetings cards, please note that all online orders will not be packed and shipped before Wednesday 4 September, thank you for your patience.

I addition to the above message, comes a few photos from August around these parts. Time has been filled with friends, family, short trips away and lots of sunshine. Along with my Instagram page, here are a few of my favourite memories from this summer month...

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2 August 2019

Das Neues Museum, Nuremberg

The other day, a friend and I took the train to Nuremberg and visited das Neues Museum (modern art gallery.) As is so often the case, the building that houses all the works appealed to me as much as, if not more, than what was inside. Built to fit between old buildings, just across the road from the main station, this glass and concrete structure is a wedge shape and contrasts well with its traditional neighbours. On entering, we were greeted with warm wooden floors and panelling sections, gleaming grey concrete partitions and vast glass panels sparkling in the hot summer sunshine. A wonderful spiral staircase takes visitors up to all three floors of exhibitions. I think we spent a good two hours exploring what is currently on display - take a look at their website for the latest exhibitions. This day was one of those opportunities not to be missed, with a good friend of mine. We both had free time and enjoyed the chance to wander, think and explore what we saw. We are both creative people and it is lovely to get out and see more of what inspires us. Modern art is very subjective and very varied in its style. I would say that the pieces that have lingered in my mind since include the great surface texture created by David Reed in his large painted canvases, the typography used in the pieces by Timm Ulrichs and his contemporaries and the huge, unmissable sleeping monster by BÖHLER & ORENDT. I felt light and free as we left the gallery, took a quick look in their fantastic book shop and then enjoyed lunch together in Nuremberg. I already look forward to our next gallery day :-)

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15 July 2019

A little break from the journal

Just a note to say that I am working on some other projects for a few days and will be away from my journal. If you would like to order any greetings cards, please note that all online orders will not be packed and shipped before Monday 29th July, thank you for your patience.


28 June 2019

Next craft class coming very soon!

I am really looking forward to spending time with my German craft friends - this time we are working on some e-tegami (Japanese hand drawn postcards,) using coloured water-based brushpens and waterbrushes. Take a look at my workshops page to follow our progress.

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19 June 2019

A little break from the journal

Just a note to say that I am working on some other projects for a few days and will be away from my journal. If you would like to order any greetings cards, please note that all online orders will not be packed and shipped before Friday 28th June, thank you for your patience.


7 June 2019

Theater Regensburg

I am always picking up printed design - from leaflets to posters and beer mats to sweet wrappers. I can’t help myself, I love things printed on paper. The wall in my craft room/study is full of these items, collected from all around the world. I think it must have started as a way to decorate the large empty wall in my room in the hall of residence at university… and it has continued until this day, in all the different places we have lived. Each time we move I take down and carfeully pack up all these precious bits of paper. I am certainly not a light packer when it comes to bits and pieces that I like to look at for inspiration! While in a lovely book shop in Regensburg, I picked up the Theater Regensburg 2019/2020 brochure. I love the front cover, with hand drawn illustrations of employees at the company. I even spotted my neighbour who works there. Inside, the black line drawing theme continues with larger illustrations and mini-interviews with the members of the company. It is also a good piece of German language homework for me! The brochure goes on to list the upcoming productions at the theatre along with a section of coloured photography pages. As a piece of design I love the book, with the exposed spine binding and the visible red binding thread, to match the theatre’s logo. Creative Direction is listed as Wolfgang Seidl and Graphic Design by seidldesign, www.seidldesign.com

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27 May 2019

From sewing to knitting

Every now and then I come back to a knitting project. Not a complex one, but something that I can do without thinking too much. This time, I chose a summer cotton from RICO design and the mini shawl pattern that comes on the ball band. It’s lovely because you only need one of the Creative Cotton Degrade 200g balls (around €18,) to complete the triangular shawl. Increasing garter stitch to the widest point of the triangle at the halfway point and decreasing again to get to the other end of the triangle. I was a little confused about the wording of when you will reach this midpoint - I have concluded that it is hard to know which stripe of the graduated colour is the middle, and so weighing the yarn as you go is essential. Now that I have finished this one in the colour 001/Natural, (going from a dusty cocoa brown to a light cream) I will certainly chose another of the lovely colours in this light yet cozy yarn.

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19 May 2019

Happy sewing

I have been happy sewing a few items in the recent days… one of which I can’t talk about until I have given it as a birthday gift. But the other is for me and the upcoming summer weather. I have wanted to use some cotton I bought in Hawaii a few years ago and I finally paired it with a pattern from issue 1 of La Maison Victor (Summer 2017.) Well, good patterns and fabrics are timeless, aren’t they?! The sewing patterns are the type that you need to trace onto paper, deciding on your own size and any adjustments you may need. The instructions are simple to follow but I think a little sewing experience will always help make the process go more smoothy and quickly. It took me about two full days of sewing to complete the Dolores Midi Skirt. I left out the pockets and added a lining as my cotton was pale in colour and not very thick. Button holes and buttons probably took the longest out of the whole make. I like having a waistband on the waist, rather than on the hips and I happily wore this skirt with a tucked-in t-shirt for an evening drink and meal with family. I look forward to sunny days when I can wear it in the day and stroll through town or along the beach.

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9 May 2019

A little break from the journal

Just a note to say that I am working on some other projects for a few days and will be away from my journal. If you would like to order any greetings cards, please note that all online orders will not be packed and shipped before Tuesday 21st May, thank you for your patience.


30 April 2019

Wandering in Wenzenbach

There are so many pretty towns in Bavaria and also huge areas of unspoilt woodland. For a recent walk in the warm sunny weather, we used Komoot (recommended to us by a friend who likes to cycle and walk) to plan a good route in a place we haven’t walked around before. We started close to the Schloss Schönberg in the Wenzenberg region. From the start, it was a very picturesque walk, partly along an old railway line which followed a babbling stream. Up a hill and through farmland and later shady woodland. Delicate flowers covered the ground where we wandered and the songs of birds could be heard in the trees around us. At the top of the hill we could look back and see the town we had come from. We didn’t take any wrong turns and finished our three hour walk with a picnic! Couldn’t be better.

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18 April 2019

Long Easter weekend is here!

If Easter is in your calendar, please enjoy the time to rest, relax and spend time with friends and family. I was recently inspired to create my first e-tegami (Japanese for picture letter) that captured a gift from a good friend. My mind is full of snapshot moments that could be captured in this style - no pencil lines, no planning, just an ink sketch of something close by. If I am pleased with the result, I’ll add a quote, thought or sentence and send to a friend… I am already thinking about my next workshop based around e-tegami.

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10 April 2019

>>>> New seasonal greetings cards ready and on sale now! British springtime <<<<

Take a look at the for sale page of my website! I’m happy to announce my latest items for sale. Greetings cards in a new range, with a British seasonal twist…. blackbird eggs, hawthorn blossoms and bluebells. Inspired by what I see around me and designed using my hand carved rubber stamps. Buy securely using Paypal, receive your order at home and enjoy sending a handmade card to friends and family.

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29 March 2019

Greetings card designs in progress

As promised I am working on my next greetings cards designs… I am very happy with how the rubber stamp carving is going and look forward to using printed.com to create my finished cards! So far in my new British series I have blackbird eggs, hawthorn blossoms and dusty bluebells. As soon as they are here I will put them in my shop. Have a great weekend x

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22 March 2019

Pretty Pysanky eggs

On a recent stroll around Regensburg, I noticed multiple gift shops displaying beautiful Pysanky eggs. I first learnt about these eggs from a friend and teacher in Japan, who holds wonderful classes for adults and children. She told me that she first learnt her skills from a European friend and artist. Please look at her great work here on instagram  and on her website She is always working on something new, fun and often seasonal. I enjoyed classes with her and below you can see my small collection of basic Pysanky eggs. A Pysanka is a traditional Ukrainian egg decorated for Easter, using wax-resist methods. Once the design has been applied to the egg shell dyes are used, often repeating the wax and dye process again, to create intricate, colourful and symbolic patterns. After reading more about Pysanky eggs here, I was interested to see that many designs  including plants, animals and the Tree of Life are all used as traditional decoration. With an egg being a symbol of new life, it is lovely to see a colourful dish of patterned eggs as spring and Easter approach.

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8 March 2019

I ❤️ craft workshops...

Wherever I go, I am always on the look out for places that hold art and craft workshops. I love to see what skills other creative people like to share. On a recent trip to the UK, I walked along the pretty high street in Market Deeping, Lincolnshire and discovered a wealth of workshops listed at Riverside Beads. During this visit I had no time to sign up for a class, but it has stayed in my mind and I thought it was definitely worth a mention! Take a look if you are in the area... I am going to look through their wonderful website and most certainly follow them on Instagram.

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27 February 2019

Creative inspiration 

As the weather gradually gets warmer and the daylight fills more hours of the day, I find my mind is also full of ideas  and a feeling of spring-creativity ;-) While I prepare for my next craft class (air dry clay decorative dishes) I am also thinking about a range of greetings cards using images of flowers, fruits and seasonal goodies from the British countryside. I would like to add to my Kobe and Bavaria collections  and so far I am thinking golden corn or barley heads, hedgerow flowers like hawthorn, glossy blackcurrants and even delicate wild bird eggshells… The British countryside is deeply rooted in my heart, my childhood memories and a place I always love to be surrounded by. Watch this space!

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15 February 2019

ikebana class

During my latest trip to Kobe, Japan, I was honoured to be asked to join an ikebana class and prepare some work for an exhibition to be held at Shioya Country Club  My first thought was if my work would be a good enough standard for an exhibition! I have joined and enjoyed many classes while living in Japan, such as Japanese cookery, embroidery, shodo (Japanese calligraphy) and many other crafts… but I have only ever done one ikebana class to create a New Year display. ikebana is the Japanese traditional art of flower-arranging. There are many schools within the art, each with their own particular style and rules. I have friends who regularly create wonderful pieces for their homes and I have visited many exhibitions of ikebana… so I knew I wanted to say yes to the offer! The exhibition would be set up over the following two days and run for one week. Each student in class (about 15 people) had an individual ikebana display designed and sketched out for them by our highly skilled and incredibly kind ikebana sensei (teacher,) Miyama Shoen sensei. During the course of three hours, each of us carefully and with guidance and instruction, followed our diagrams and learnt about the theme and structure of our pieces. The exhibition contained a broad range of vases, vessels and stands in all colours and materials. Branches, woven grasses, buds, berries, blooms, blossoms… all were included to create the wonderful display. Our teacher worked tirelessly along with the support of her friends, colleagues, students and staff of Shioya Country Club. The room containing the ikebana (alongside numerous other traditional Japanese handcrafts and art, that I will discuss in another journal entry) looked stunning when it was complete. I could feel the pride of each and every person that was involved in the event and I am so happy to have been included.

My ikebana was set in a shallow, wide, round glass dish. The shape of the vase or vessel is considered to ensure that the flowers are kept as fresh as possible for as long as they can (along with great care and attention from friends refreshing the water daily, during the exhibition!) A kenzan (spiky brass base) was placed below the water line and used to hold each of the stems in my display. My piece started with two very strong statement stems of Bird of Paradise flower. It has such a tropical feel and was very different from what I was initially expecting for my ikebana. As my teacher explained each subsequent addition of flowers and stems, I learnt that the placement would either make a ‘line’ or a ‘surface’. So wide flat leaves such as the heliconia would create a solid surface when viewed from the front and the tall grass-like leaves I used would make lines radiating out from the base of my vase. I had some pretty, bubbly yellow orchidium orchids and soft purple alstroemeria as mid-height blooms placed in the centre of my display. As my ikebana grew and developed, I was really interested to begin to understand about the balance between height, form, colour and solidity of each element. For my first attempt I am very happy and very proud. Together with my fellow classmates and friends, we created a great selection of pieces! I know that the exhibition was a huge success and I hope there is time and resources to hold one again next year.

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5 February 2019

Tool roll

With all the tools in the workshop, I decided it would be good to create something to hold our latest set of screwdrivers… you know, the ones that you need almost every day for one job or another. After much browsing online, I chose to use a heavyweight cotton in a khaki green, to make a roll with pockets. I didn’t follow a pattern, but pieced it together as I went. The most challenging part was the size of each compartment - tight enough to hold the handles in place but not so tight that you can’t get them in and out easily. I chose rucksack buckles and straps to close the roll. I’m very happy. I already have a request for one for the spanner set…! The fabric was from a wonderful fabric market called Stoffmarkt Holland held at the end of last year in Freising, Germany (great quality and value.) The buckles from idee. (good but not such great value.)

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25 January 2019

A little break from the journal

Just a note to say that I am working on some other projects for a few days and will be away from my journal. If you would like to order any greetings cards, please note that all online orders will not be packed and shipped before Tuesday 5th February, thank you for your patience.


16/21 January 2019

Summer dreaming… UPDATED AND COMPLETED ;-)

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It is so hard to even imagine the sunshine in the sky, when each day is grey and dark and so wintry! I try and make sure I run 4 or 5km outside most days, but January in this part of the world can be a long month and maybe I am noticing it more this year than other years. As I took down my Christmas door wreath and replaced it with my wintry-white one, I was already thinking ahead to the months with the more colourful wreaths.  I have a crochet spring-like one, and a pretty muted autumn-coloured one… but not really a summer one. So that started me off on my next crafty project. Hardly an essential, but something I am enjoying doing in spare moments in the evenings and at weekends. Summer for me means red, juicy, ripe strawberries. Fruitpicking in the warm, straw-covered and sun-drenched fields every year as a child and beyond… I am creating crochet strawberries (inspired by Japanese crochet books, pictures on Pinterest and some of my own crochet skills) that will most likely have felt leaves, green wire tendrils and perhaps even white blossoms. There are no patterns to follow, it is just coming together as I go along...

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9 January 2019

Website news

I enjoy updating my website… it is rewarding to see something I have created being available to all, in an instant. I like to have my portfolio online so that I can share it with new contacts. I like to have my shop where I showcase my latest pieces for sale. For me, my website is a platform to link me via my work and my freetime spent designing, crafting and being creative. I have always used Blocs to design my pages. I love the expressive freedom it gives me (not just preset templates, that I can only change the background colour of) but also the incredible power of the software behind it. It took me a while to discover Blocs when I was looking in 2016, but since then I have never considered changing to anything else. I recently updated to the newest version 3.0.7 and am, so far, equally as happy. If you are looking for software to support your website design while allowing you to be individual and creative, give it a go! This is purely my opinion, nothing more.


3 January 2019

Happy New Year!

Well, what a fantastic holiday time we had! Great fun spending time with family and friends and enjoying all the lovely food and relaxation a long break includes. Yesterday felt like a shock to the system to have the ordinary daily jobs to do and to start thinking about the year to come. I think I’ll take it week by week until I am in the swing of things. Too overwhelming otherwise! I hope you enjoyed the chance to stop and rest a little over the Christmas and New Year period, wherever you are based.

So…. I’m looking at the pile of books I mentioned at the end of last year. During a trip to Kobe in Japan, I was very happy to visit numerous book departments and stores and came home with a little stash of new inspiration. Whether I use the ideas for myself, for gifts for others or as a starting point for my next craft workshops, I am always happy to browse through the endless selection of Japanese craft books. Here are three of my new favourites :-) Thank you Anna Tanaka 田中杏奈 著 Yoko Gahana がはなようこさん and Bag Artist School Repreバッグアーティストスクール レプレ







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