Rhodes, Greece – a time to relax and soak up the sun

Oh my goodness, where has the time gone, it seems an age since I updated you on life in my corner of the world.

This is a year of big number celebrations! My 50th back in May, our 25th wedding anniversary in June and the forthcoming 10 year Ellie’s Treasures celebration in November.  What a year!

sleeping cat in Rhodes Town, Greece
One of many streetwise cats of Rhodes, doing exactly what we planned to do, relax.

To celebrate, the Mr and I decided we really needed to get away for a “proper” holiday, one that involved boarding a plane and heading off somewhere hot for a week to unwind, so we jetted off to the Greek island of Rhodes.  It’s been an absolute age since we’ve been on an overseas holiday – put it this way, the last time this happened we used a holiday brochure and booked through a travel agent! Everything was done online this time and I think it was the most stressful part of the whole affair, but we got there in the end (and have learnt some tricks for next time).

Rhodes harbour, deserted beach, sunset over Ixia, windmills of Mandraki

We stayed at the Dionysos Hotel in Ixia, just outside Rhodes Town, and highly recommend it. Superbly run with an excellent choice of restaurants and snack bars (and an fabulous breakfast spread), wonderful pools, well stocked shop and a fridge in your room. We were lucky to be allocated a top floor room with a corner balcony giving us views over the gardens, swimming pools and the sea. 

Dionysos Hotel, Ixia, Rhodes, Greece
Dionysos Hotel – main bar and reception area across the pool from one of the restaurants, our room was in the block behind, top floor, which meant amazing views.

After a couple of days we were itching to start exploring further than the pool and local beach so we hired a car for a few days to tour the island. During this time we managed to get lost in the mountains (I’m not sure how, as there’s only one main road around the island), discover a deserted beach and spend time taking in the history, culture and beautiful surroundings of various landmarks including Lindos, Rhodes Town, Prasonisis beach and butterfly valley to name a few.

Lindos, Rhodes, Greece
Lindos – full of history with its cliff top acropolis, winding streets, fantastic shopping and restaurants and amazing beach.

Our flights were excellent and with a window seat both ways, I was able to enjoy stunning clear views going out, and twinkling night time lights on the way home.

Leaving the UK with the Essex coast and Southend Pier in the distance.

Let me know if you’ve planned an exciting trip away this year, or have just returned from one, we’re looking for suggestions for future holidays – we definitely rekindled the bug to travel.


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Felt – the versatile textile

As felt is one of the textiles that I use to produce my items I thought I’d let you know a bit about this amazingly versatile fabric.  I chose felt as my main medium because of its vast colour range and the fact it is a forgiving, easy to use fabric. I can gently pull it into shape should I need to (although it isn’t elastic, so over pulling means it can completely mis-shape), it’s easy to cut and needs no hemming making it the perfect base for layering fabrics and embellishments.

Customers requesting commissions have a choice of felt colours for their creations.

Felt is a man-made fabric which has been created from natural materials and is thought to be one of the oldest textiles around. Said to have been created in Asia, the Nomadic people are still using traditional methods to product felt for practical uses including tents and clothing.  There are tales of St. Christopher and St. Clement, when fleeing from persecution, stuffing their sandals with wool to ease their feet and finding the wool had turned into felt socks due to the mix of continuous movement and sweat.

The traditional process of making felt is a combination of matting, condensing and pressing the fibres together.  When I was home educating my two children, we went along to a workshop where we turned wool roving into felt using hot soapy water and rubbing the fibres in a circular motion with our fingers to eventually end up with a small pieces of felt (you can read my blog post about it here).  It was a time consuming but worthwhile exercise with an end result of colourful artwork having combined felt and roving to make patterned pieces. An easier way is to pop an unwanted pure wool sweater or similar in the washing machine on a hot cycle – the heat and water will shrink and combine the fibres to produce felt.

Being a popular medium, felt is now manufactured to use in many areas of life, including the automotive industry, musical instruments, home construction and fashion, to name just a few, and there are different types of felt for different types of use.

Synthetic felt, mainly acrylic, polyester and viscose.

100% synthetic is a man-made felt using mainly acrylic, polyester and viscose (rayon).  As it is widely available and produced in an array of fabulous colours, including glittery and self-adhesive, it is ideal for general crafting.  This felt is stiffer to the touch, strong and easier at keeping its shape.

Blended felt, a mix of wool and viscose.

A blended felt is a mix of pure wool and viscose making it softer than synthetic felt.  Again, you can source a good selection of colours including “heathered”, an effect produced from wool fibres being interwoven.  The majority of my items are sewn using this type of felt as it has the softness of wool felt combined with some strength of synthetic.

“Heathered” a type of blended felt.

Eco-friendly 100% wool comes in a choice of thickness and has a lovely soft feel.  The different thicknesses mean this natural textile can be used for different mediums with thicker felt being good for sturdier creations like wall coverings or art.

Beautiful needle felted bear by Nicola at Nosey Toes Creations, Etsy

100% roving is wool that has been combed and twisted to hold the fibres together ready to be used for needle felting, a process where fibres are combined using a continuous stabbing with a very sharp needle to produce delightful ornaments, decorations and dolls.

Cute little duck, needle felted by Grace at The Rocking Felter, Esty.

I mainly use a blended felt (usually 30% wool, 70% vicose) with a good weight to create my items, occasionally using synthetic should I fall in love with the colour or need to make something sturdier.  I will be adding 100% wool felt items in the near future and, if I am happy with how these work for me and able to find a good selection of colours, aim to move over to this eco-friendly felt in the long run.

hand sewn embellished felt hare bag charm, hare key clip by Ellie's Treasures





From beginning to end

Thought I’d give a little insight into how my items begin life and evolve to become a finished product.  This journey can take several weeks, especially once I reach embellishment stage and my own quote, “an artist can’t art unless they feel artistic” rings true many times!

Although I’m not a night bird, never have been and most probably never will be, I do find my brain gets a spurt of energy around 9:30 in the evening and it starts to fill with new ideas, colour schemes and what not.  It’s a little annoying to be honest as there’s no way the rest of my body can start to put these thoughts into practise as I’m physically too tired. Before hitting the sack I’ll jot down any light bulb ideas and perhaps pull out a couple of fabric squares or embellishments to remind me to pick up the inspiration the next day.

Sometimes a new product will come from something I’ve seen or heard that day, or perhaps from a client with an idea for a commission.  My first port of call is either the felt colour or the fabric choice, or perhaps the combination of both. I have a cheerful selection of felts to choose from and an even bigger collection of fabric which has surprisingly stayed in it sorted divisions by colour.  The vast majority of fabrics have been donated ready to be recycled into something new but I can’t help but buy a few pretty offcut squares or fat quarters to add to my collection.

Once the initial colour scheme has been decided and the charm or main feature has been picked, then it’s down to finding embellishments and having a good old play around to get a feel for how I’d like my new piece to look.  This will include ribbons, lace, buttons and seed beads, perhaps with printed words too, but I’m toying with idea of including other media in my work in the near future – building up the confidence for this one.

Neatly sewing everything in its right place is the final stage, often with additional stitching or further decoration as I move things along.  I love the process and how everything gradually comes together, producing a totally unique item with many hours of love and attention given to it.

hand sewn textile oriental cat pin brooch by Ellie's Treasures

Look back … look forward.

Happy new year to all my readers, I hope you’ve all had a good festive season with time to recharge and look ahead to 2019.  

Christmas themed bag charms.
Christmas themed bag charms – the little black cat with a Santa hat was a personal favourite!

The lead up to Christmas is often a busy one for small businesses, especially those that involve selling, and it is quite a relief to have a little downtime to collect thoughts, look back on the past year and then look forward to the new one with new ideas and optimism.  For me the beginning of the year is often quiet on the selling front and I should by now be used to this and try not to get a too twitchy!  There are so many things involved in running an indie business that a space of quiet like this should really be a blessing to catch up on non-sewing work, but naturally you can’t help hearing those inner voices casting small nuggets of doubt about your craft and where your path is leading.

As these thoughts can pop up at any time, I keep a month by month journal listing anything positive that happens with regard to Ellie’s Treasures. When the doubt sets in, I find it a help to look back and see that business is not stagnant, there is always something in the pipeline, always something to work on and improve and, hopefully, a lovely customer or two that comes along at the right moment with a compliment that makes you start to believe in yourself again.

A monthly list of positive steps that have been taken in your business.

The last few months have been a whirlwind of sewing, listing, restocking and selling so I thought I’d share with you a couple of lovely things that have happened since the Autumn and a few plans for the coming year.

I can now show you photos of an artwork commission I received back in September and completed in October.  It was a privilege to work alongside my client and be trusted with such a personal birthday present and seeing it come together, piece by piece, was really fulfilling.  

Mixed media hand sewn artwork commission.
Close up detail of mixed media hand sewn artwork.

The end of November and beginning of December were busy craft market times for Ellie’s Treasures with Pensthorpe Craft Fair and Deepdale Christmas Market over two consecutive weekends.  Both were extremely busy and great fun. It was a pleasure to meet so many supportive sellers, customers and visitors, it really does make the early mornings and late evenings worthwhile.  I’d like to thank Lottie of Lottie’s Little Treasures (who was also selling at Deepdale with her beautifully gorgeous goodies) for taking the time out of her busy days to track me down so we could meet in person – it was a lovely surprise, thank you so much.

Plans for 2019?  Well I have a few new ideas up my sleeve! I’ve just started to introduce planner charms to my range, two are now listed, one is waiting to be photographed and several are ready for sewing. The clip charms are cute and original little accessories that will brighten up any thin ring bound notebook, diary or journal – perfect for the stationery lover.

Hand sewn unicorn planner journal charm in pink.
cute unicorn planner charm in pink – a new line for Ellie’s Treasures

I’ve been hearing on the grapevine that nature will be featuring big this year, so I’m in the process of developing a range to include more tactile embellishments along these lines.  Also, getting Ellie’s Treasures out on the road is something I’d like to do more of as I really enjoy meeting folk face to face. This does mean I need to be sewing a lot more than I already am so a big challenge there for me as time always seems to be against me.  Finally, perhaps this year will be the year I start my own shop website – we’ll see … one step at a time!

Do you have exciting plans for 2019?  Drop me a comment, I’d love to hear how you see the year progressing for you.

Christmas market time

The year has whizzed by so quickly and I can’t believe Christmas is just a few weeks away.  Popping along to local Christmas markets and fairs is a great way to get into the festive season and do a little shopping from small independent sellers, providing you and yours with unique lovingly made gifts.

hand sewn cat in Santa hat bag charm

The last couple of months have seen me busy sewing at every available opportunity, building stock levels for the busy season, in particular, two forthcoming Norfolk based Christmas Markets. 

The first event will be  Pensthorpe Natural Park:

Pensthorpe Christmas Market, Fakenham, Norfolk 2018

followed by a return visit to Deepdale Christmas Market:

Deepdale Christmas Market 2018, Dalegate, Burnham Deepdale, Norfolk

If you are in the area and fancy a trip out to either of these lovely venues, do come and find me for a chat, I can assure you your day will not be wasted as each venue will have a wonderful Christmassy feel.

Hand sewn mini felt brooches by Ellie's Treasures

Both venues will be offering a good selection of stalls including food, drink and gift ideas as well as refreshments to keep you going throughout the day.  There is also free parking and free market entry at both of these events with Pensthorpe also offering a reduced entry fee to the park on the day – a popular place for nature lovers and those that wish to stretch their legs in beautiful surroundings.

hand sewn Christmas brooches and bag charms

Many of my new items have been sewn exclusively for these two events and are not currently available to purchase online.  If a particular little lovely catches your eye in this post, please do get in touch so I can reserve it for you (just hit that “Contact” button above and leave me a message or click over to my Etsy shop and leave me a “Conversation”).

If you are venturing out to fairs and markets this winter, wrap up warm, soak up the atmosphere and enjoy your day.

Hand sewn mixed media Christmas mini canvas snowflakes and icicles by Ellie's Treasures
Ellie's Treasures