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DIY Hot Chilli Sauce


At the beginning of the year I planted chillies in my greenhouse and over the last month they have been ripening to a beautiful bright red (read my tips for growing chillies

With more than enough for cooking, I decided to make a hot chilli sauce because I add hot sauce to so many dishes, it's quite addictive.


Here you can see the chilli plants growing amongst a sea of basil - the smell is amazing.  they're growing in a wicking bed which means I don't need to worry about watering too often.  You can find out how to make your own on a recent post of mine - DIY Wicking Beds




I was recently sent this pack of Posca paint pens to review and I knew exactly what they would be perfect for - labelling the glass jars for my hot chilli sauce!



The jars look fab! Sadly though I used far too many chillies and as a result the first batch I made with just white wine vinegar mixed with roasted onions and chillies was practically inedible it was so hot, so I've cut it down with tomatoes to a hot and then even more tomatoes for a medium hot.

I'm going to dry the next pick of chillies and make chilli salt - another of my favourites.


I've put lots in the freezer as the sauce doesn't have a really long shelf life.  Any advice on making sauce that will last for a year would be much appreciated as if it's the very hot stuff you only use a little at a time so a bottle can easily last a few months.



The jars look great, I particularly like the little cheap herb and spice jars from Poundland (2 for £1).

The paint pens worked beautifully on the glass jars, the only problem was trying to keep them away from the kids who wanted to decorate practically everything!

Find out more about these pens on the Uniball website - Posca Paint Pens


Fun Sewing Quiz!


I just got sent a link to this fun sewing quiz by the team at Terry's Fabrics - they've got a big selection of curtain fabrics, so well worth a look if you're on the hunt for new curtains. I really dislike sewing large curtains, it a bit overwhelming -  but love the finished article (and how much money I save!) so it's a love hate relationship...  just 3 rooms left to go in my house - and I need a blind for my office...  it's all on a never ending to do list.  Plus with left over curtain fabric you can sew bags, cushions and all sorts.

Anyway - here's the quiz, be sure to comment with your score! I scored 11 out of 15 but some of the film ones were sheer guess work - can you beat me? Probably!

The Sewing Quiz by Terry's Fabrics




3 Mindful Colouring Books to Give Away - worth £9.99 each!



Do you like colouring books!  I have 3 beautiful mindful colouring books to give away, all illustrated by the talented artist Georgie Woolridge

See entry details at the end of this post





Illustrated byGeorgie Woolridge and published by Modern Books, RRP £9.99 each

Mindful Colouring Books

Mindful colouring is a way of escaping stress and slowing down a bit.  It's a lovely way to relax, unlike picking up a book you don't need to concentrate much, you can just pick up a pencil and start colouring away.  


Georgie has created 3 beautiful books with illustrations and descriptions, Animals, Birds and Waterlife.  I've been colouring in little tree frogs in her animals book - I just had a vibe they should be orange with aqua marine spots!

It might seem a little odd to see grown ups happily colouring in, but it's actually very soothing - you're only concern is which illustration to colour in next and which colours to choose. 


Way better as a method of relaxation than watching mind numbing TV or playing candy crush, it gives you permission to just think and clear your mind. It's a little like many repetitive crafts in that way. My daughter has also taken to it, her frog is looking great :)

I have a slightly weird completely natural obsession with pencils (I really do want to own a pencil shop!) so my medium of choice is the traditional watercolour pencil but you can get some lovely art pens and I do like any excuse to go to a stationery shop.

You can order Birds, Waterlife and Animals online on www.amazon.co.uk or by telephone to the publisher’s warehouse, by calling 01256 302 692. For more information, please visit: www.modern-books.co.uk.

How to Enter!

To enter and win all 3 books just head to my Facebook Page here Craft Blog UK for the competition post and like and comment on the post - I'll pick a winner on Friday!

Will post to UK addresses only via Modern Books.

The health benefits of sewing infographic

Brilliant infographic! Find out all the ways in which sewing can improve your health.

Health Benefits of Sewing
Health Benefits of Sewing by Terrys Fabrics.

Chickens! #folksyfriday

I haven't written a Folksy Friday for ages.  This week the theme is chickens, I absolutely love keeping chickens, I'm currently getting 28 eggs a week (that's a lot of eggs to use up) I get a great deal of pleasure just watching them scratch about - they're very happy!


There are lots of sellers on Folksy who make gifts perfect for chicken keepers like me - I've chosen a few of my favourites.


Rocking Chicken by Wobblywood 

Chicken Brooch by Claire Gent


Chicken Print - New Country Girl


Hen - Lavender Scented Keyring - The Peacock Emporium


Hen & Chick Card - The Free Range




Try the best British craft marketplace for free!


Folksy is a brilliant place to sell your work as a designer / maker based in Britain.  It's a 100% British, 100% handmade market place.  No vintage, no re-sellers allowed.  You can sell craft supplies too!

This weekend is a brilliant opportunity to test this market place for free - 20 free listings and it's free to open a shop!

Read more here on the Folksy Blog - Try Folksy for free!  and if you miss the offer this weekend, you can still try Folksy for free as you automatically get 3 free listings when you open a new shop!





The benefits of planting in a wicking bed



The growing season is well and truly underway, in this post I wanted to share details of our latest gardening project, making a DIY wicking bed. I've also listed off the benefits of creating wicking beds or wicking pots.


The area we wanted to transform was this scruffy bit of space behind our greenhouse.  It actually gets lots of sun (through the glass) and is a bit of a heat trap. I'm always looking at spaces I can use for edibles.

Making a wicking bed

This is the plan we decided on - an L-shaped wicking bed and a screen to hide the other messy half behind the greenhouse until that get's transformed into raspberry cages next year.

What is a wicking bed?

Glad you asked, I didn't know until recently either!



A wicking bed is a raised growing bed which has a waterproof lining.  The lining holds a reservoir of water beneath the soil and through capillary action, water is drawn up into the soil.

To make our beds we used decking boards we picked up from Homebase as they are nice and rigid, we painted them to make sure they are protected and last until we're 107 and can't face another french bean, although they're probably fine without it.



To keep the tank topped up and the soil nice and moist, you have a pipe with holes in which runs through the bottom of the bed to distribute water.  The pipe is surrounded by gravel and then the whole lot is covered by a weed proof membrane.

As you can see in the diagram, our wicking bed is connected to a down-pipe from a gutter on our greenhouse, we're making use of every drop of rainwater we can.  There's an overflow pipe to ensure it never gets too full.


The principle behind this wicking bed is really adaptable.

I've also made wicking pots from old chicken feed buckets.  It's the same thing except you just need to drill a hole a few inches from the base of the bucket, then fill with gravel, line with weedproof membrane, add a pipe and fill with compost...    and plants.

We're very excited to see the results of this new wicking bed and the pots. It looks great but the real test is whether we get a bumper crop of beans.  So far I've planted courgettes, french beans, broad beans and dwarf beans - I'm going to plant winter and summer squash at the end to grow up the trellis (fingers crossed)



What are the benefits of a wicking bed?

1. They are water efficient, the water doesn't evaporate off the top and you don't need as much to get to the important part of the plant - the roots - because you are watering from the bottom up.

2. You don't need to water as often, in fact they are effectively self watering, although they may need topping up a little more often in very dry spells. 

3. If you do have lots of rain the soil will drain quickly because of the gravel and the overflow - it's a bit like a french drain system in this way.

4. There is no guess work - you water until the overflow pipe tells you to stop, you know it's topped up enough and no water is wasted.

5. Fertilisers and nutrients are not washed away through top watering.  You can just add in your feed direct to the resevoir and hungry plants will suck it all up directly from the roots....  happy plants! No wasted fertisliser.

6. Weeding is virtually eliminated as you can mulch over with bark chippings, seeds and weeds like wet surfaces to get growing in and this bed is dryer at the top.

7.  The top layer is dryer, so there is less chance of mould.  

8. You'll be able to crack open a beer and say "I made that!"

I'll update you on how successful it really is based on the above list!

Before and After - from scrappy space to productive veg garden.



We added a frame for the bean canes so they lean forward, it's supposed to be easier to collect the beans this way (gravity makes them dangle out and down) and gave us the opportunity to hang baskets of marigolds to distract the aphids and attract the bees.


Marigolds! 


My cute/lazy greenhouse companion, Bramble :)



Courgette's are ready for planting out! The one on the left is grown from seed by me, courgette on the right from seed by my Aunt... hopefully they'll both be winners but the competition is on!


Happy gardening - any questions about wicking beds or wicking pots, just let me know :)

How to be a Craftivist

A motivational print by the Craftivist Collective, hand finished with a stitch - Work with head, heart and hands


Be a part of something really exciting...

Please watch this video and find out how you can be a part of something really exciting and potentially world changing.

Sarah is promoting CRAFTIVISM in a new book she is writing 'How to be a Craftivist' after the amazing success of her book A Little book of Craftivism.

Craftivism is a way to gently campaign against the injustices of the world.  From getting huge companies to pay a proper living wage to drawing attention to the issue of loneliness, to ending child poverty.

Craftivism is a thoughtful approach to activism in a world where often it seems the people who get heard are those who shout the loudest.  It's about getting your message to change makers and politicians in a way that they can't forget, whether that's an issue in your local community that needs action or a global problem like our clothes being made in sweatshops.

Sarah the founder of the Craftivist Collective explains it best in this video - 


You can be a part of the change by backing this book, from as little as £10 

Wouldn't you love to get a copy of this book, something that really matters and a way you could use your talents to make a difference.   I've already pledged and I'm very proud to have taken part in a project with Sarah - you can read all about that here - "I'm a Piece - Jigsaw Project"

Sarah has reached her goal on Unbound but you can still help and be a part of this book.

Find out more here - How to be a Craftivist





Everything you need to start painting!



The Painter's Essential Cheat Sheet

I love an infographic, especially an arty one! This one is brilliant, a cheat sheet for a painter with all sorts of handy information about painting mediums and equipment.  I love the quote by Lowry which is included too.

"I am a simple man, and I use simple materials: ivory, black, vermilion (red), Prussian blue, yellow ochre, flake white and no medium. That's all I've ever used in my paintings" LS Lowry

Goes to show that you don't need an expensive kit to make something beautiful.

A creative person (whether you're a designer, crafter or painter) should carry a little note / sketch pad and a pencil, or a camera with them at the very least.  I love that I can just whip out my phone and take a snap of anything and everything (usually flowers for me!), but sketching is a great way to really 'see' what you're looking at.  I just wish my sketches were a little more refined.

Included is a colour mixing guide, types of brushes, palette knives, graphite pencils, paints, pastels, charcoal, different types of canvas and paper.  
Courtesy of: The Studio at Zippi

Chilli Growing in the UK

Have you ever wanted to grow your own chilli peppers, for curries, mexican food, spicy salads, make your own hot sauces, have dried chillies and chilli salt to use all year round - I have! I love hot spicy food, it's great for your health, gives you a natural high and boosts your metabolism too (aka stops you getting fat).

The Greenhouse - built in 1919 in need of lots of TLC

It's a bit chilly in North Wales

Last year I moved to North Wales to a house which came with an amazing 96 year old 100ft greenhouse... we fell in love with it. It's just beautiful. The greenhouse needs a huge amount of renovation and loads of glass replacing along with lots of TLC.

Small chilli plants on the left 

Last summer (2015) we managed to grow about 6 chilli plants and we had home grown tomatoes from the end of July all the way through to September (we had 25 plants, many self seeded from the previous owners). We also had lots of fresh salad and basil and some veg too - it was a good start.


This year I want to get more serious with my chilli growing, as although I made some delicious hot chilli sauce last year I didn't have an abundance of fruit to cook with and many of the plants didn't have ripe fruit by the end of the season - so I didn't have any to dry and store.

I've been reading and here is a quick guide - everyone seems to take the same course so I'm going to try and stick rigidly to it and I'll keep you up to date. It looks like I'm already a little behind but I'm planning on buying a heated propagator to get the seeds going quicker!

Quick Guide to Growing Chilli Plants

  • Start early with your seeds - January - March - different varieties
  • You need them to be kept warm, invest in a heated propogator for quickest germination
  • Plant seeds in soil based compost - they like good drainage
  • Use a little surface spray for watering rather than watering from the base (no soggy bottoms)
  • Pot on once the seedlings have two well formed leaves into bigger individual pots
  • They still need warmth and lots of sunlight while they are little
  • Make sure they have enough space, they'll need repotting again
  • Feed them with tomato food when fruit starts to set
  • Don't let them get too hot and dry - they may need a little shade 
  • Pick fruit as they are ready to encourage more fruit
  • They can survive over winter if kept warm!

So there's the plan...  keep up to date here and on my Instagram @craftbloguk which is a mix of craft, gardening and veg growing :)




Packaging Your Work - Plus Win a £50 Craft Voucher from Abakhan!


One of the special aspects of buying handmade items from sellers on the internet is when the parcel arrives.  Unlike most large companies where you are just another order number, when you buy from an independent designer maker they will ofte go the extra mile to ensure your purchase is beautifully packaged.


I have a board on pinterest with some inspiration for making your parcels memorable

Follow Craft Blog UK's board Craft Seller Packaging Ideas on Pinterest.

Top Tips for Packaging Your Work



Roots & Wings gets it right with this simple branded pillow box

Marketing ideas for your packaging



  1. Make your packaging match your branding. This could simply be the colour of tissue paper, or perhaps a little sticker to seal the tissue paper with your logo printed on.
  2. Include a little freebie. Nothing too pricey as you need to make a profit, just something little like a badge or branded stickers to make your customer smile.
  3. Include a discount code to encourage the buyer to come back to your shop.
  4. Always add a few business cards they can keep or pass on to friends - why not include a handwritten discount on the back with an expiry date.
  5. Photograph your packaging and share it on product listings - people are reassured by a neatly packaged item.
  6. Offer a gift wrapping option. A gift box may be too big and pricey to include in your standard packaging costs, but why not offer wrapping or a gift box as an extra.
Shop Nestled keeps it simple with butchers twine and brown paper bags


Practical Considerations when packaging products



  1. Always find a clean surface to package your items. The floor is not a great idea, especially if you have pets (pet hairs stick to everything).

    Packaging on the floor can also give you back ache, knee ache and result in you rushing the job. The ideal surface is a clean table or worksurface big enough for you to have everything to hand
  2. Create a packaging tool kit.  Keep everything you need in one place. You will save time spent looking for tape, scissors etc and you will also be able to see quickly when your packaging stocks are running low.
  3. Practice wrapping and packaging your items before you add them for sale. You'll need to weigh the item complete with it's wrapping to get the price right. You can either incorporate postage costs into the product or you can add a price on your web shop. Either way, it's important you don't lose profit by undercharging.
  4. Hunt around for packaging deals and consider reusing packaging. Being eco friendly could be part of your USP, let people know in the product description that you resuse packaging.
  5. Don't make outer packaging too exciting as there are some very unscrupulous people about who might pinch your parcel.






Win a £50 Gift Voucher!

Online delivery comparison website, My Parcel Delivery, are offering Craft Blog UK readers the chance to win a £50 gift voucher to spend online or instore at fabric and craft store Abakhan.

Most small businesses and startup crafters don’t send enough parcels to qualify for discounts direct from courier companies, and can end up spending hours queuing up at the Post Office.

That’s where companies like My Parcel Delivery can help, they’ve negotiated discounted rates with many of the UK’s top couriers and make them available for anyone to book online, whether you’re sending just one parcel or a hundred!

To enter you must leave a comment about how you package your work when you send it off - if you don't (yet) sell your crafts just tell us about how you package any birthday gift etc, do you go the extra mile?

There are also more ways to enter, tweet the post, visit the My Parcel Delivery FB page or follow me on Twitter!

NB! - Use the Rafflecopter App below to record your entries, you can log in with Facebook or with your email address.  Be sure to tick that you have left a comment and you can also tweet this post using the Rafflecopter for an additional entry every day!
a Rafflecopter giveaway



Don't Give Up!


THE GAP by Ira Glass from Daniel Sax on Vimeo.

I thought this was pretty perfect for any creatives experiencing the January blues - if you're worried your work is dissapointing and doesn't feel special this is good advice presented in a nice 2 minute video :)  

How to Craft an Instagram Account - Instagram Basics


I love Instagram - You can find me at @CraftBlogUK but I know that I just don't spend enough time posting or using instagram to promote my blog properly, it's always been just a bit of fun, despite using it in my work with clients with great results.

For 2016 it's going to be the year of Instagram for my own account, those who already follow me can still expect plenty of pics of my cooking, kids, garden and my 4 chickens enjoying the sun as spring eventually emerges - I'll just be sure to add more of my latest blog posts in too and focus on getting my pics really pretty!


Why don't you join me and see if you can use instagram for more than just sharing a few pics with friends.  It's a great way to promote your crafts, but you need to do far more than just post pics of the finished articles when you're just starting out if you want to build up a following.

How to Craft an Instagram Account - Instagram Basics


Marina from labelname.co.uk contacted me recently and offered to write up a helpful guide for using Instagram - so do read on for her great tips!   You can also follow Labelname on Facebook to get more great tips for crafters and special social media discounts on woven labels and other branding products. 


14 million active users in the UK alone is a good reason to include Instagram in your marketing strategy. According to Instagram’s official stats, there are around 300 million active users all over the world. 

If you have never used Instagram before, you may be reluctant to start another social media account, but in this article I’m going to explain why it is worth the effort and how your blog or handmade business can benefit from it.

Instagram is an app for sharing photos. Although most people use it to share their selfies and personal stories, it’s also a great promotional tool for businesses - no matter how big or small they are - and especially for handmade businesses, where photos are the main asset for product promotion.

Where to start

First of all, you can only post to Instagram from a smartphone. Once you download the app you need to create an account. Pick your username wisely. There are two factors to consider: if you include a keyword it will show up on Instagram searches and if you pick your site or store name it will be easier for your existing customers and readers to find you. 

You will be able to add a link to your blog or store in the bio, but keep in mind that this is the only link you can publish on Instagram.

What to post

Obviously you need good photos of your products to promote them on Instagram, but people also like to see a person behind the account from time to time. You can include pictures of yourself or your work environment to add a personal touch. Sharing some advice or techniques is also a good idea because it gives people an extra reason to follow you. 

Instagram allows you to add a fairly long description to a photo (the limit is 2200 characters), so feel free to tell a story in this section. Unfortunately you can’t link to your article or product here, because all the links included in the post will be shown as plain text, but there is still a way to promote your blog post through Instagram: create an intriguing description and tell people they can read the full story by clicking the link in your bio. 

When to post

According to CoSchedule, the best time to post on Instagram is from 2-3 pm and 8-9 pm. Try different posting times to see what works best for your audience. An Instagram feed is very similar to the one on Twitter: users get to see all the posts from people they follow in a single feed and the newest posts come first.

Hashtags 101

In this photo-sharing world, hashtags are very important. People use them to find photos they like and it’s the easiest way to promote your account. All you have to do is include a relevant hashtag for others to be able to find your post in the description. Some examples are #etsyuk, #handmadeinuk and #craftsblogger. Anna from craftyfingers.co.uk has done a great job of putting together a list of crafty hashtags on Instagram, so check it out if you’re looking for ideas. 


Hunt for followers

There are several ways to gain more Instagram followers. If you connect your Facebook account, the software will automatically notify your Facebook friends who are also using Instagram that you have joined. To reach strangers, you can use several techniques on top of posting your photos with the right hashtags. Search for relevant hashtags and like other photos yourself. When you like someone’s photo they are likely to check out your account. If it’s interesting and of value to them, they will follow. 

The same happens when you follow someone’s account: chances are they will follow back. If you want to connect with other crafters, search for photos with craft-related hashtags. If you’re looking for an audience in a certain area you can search for that too. #London, #UK and #Birmingham are all popular hashtags. You may go even further and search for specific hashtags, such as #londonmums, to reach a group of people that are most likely to become your customers or subscribe to your blog.


A photo posted by Hilary Pullen (@craftbloguk) on

The best part about Instagram is that you can share your posts on your other social media accounts with a simple click. It allows you to connect Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Tumblr and some other networks which allows you to share your photos with a wider audience.

Do you use Instagram? Please share your experience in the comments below.

Marina Generalova - labelname.co.uk - custom woven clothing labels at a great price and available in small or large quantities.

You can't buy Christmas in a store...


I just made up this little graphic because sometimes the commercial aspect of Christmas really gets me down!  I'm not a religious person but I celebrate Christmas as a time for the family to get together and for lots of smiles and yes we exchange gifts too and the kids look forward to opening little stockings (handmade of course!).

Expensive presents don't equate to love and it's sad that we have kids that grow up to expect £100's of gifts and parents that feel they are not good enough if they can't afford £100's to spend on their kids. 

I don't have the answers, I know it's not easy but I know that my kids and family (I hope) do not ever use price tags to measure how much I love them - I try to drum this into them, it's hard when they truly believe they 'need' an Iphone6 or Xbox etc

If you have a little extra to spend this year Save the Children have a Christmas Appeal here.  The UK Governement will be matching donations £ for £ so you can really double the impact of your donation to a child who will wake up sick with hunger on christmas morning.



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