The blog of BaggieAggie, designer of bags, gadget cases and other fabulous accessories handmade in Wales. Sprinkled with recipes, gardening chat, the odd piece of short fiction, and anything else that inspires (or annoys!) me. So pull up a comfy chair and stay a while.


Sunday, 29 July 2012

Would YOU knit up a bag pattern (or any pattern) in summer...?

Knit and felt bag pattern download with yellow flowers. A BaggieAggie design.
It always surprises me that people still want to knit in summer. I've sold quite a few knit-and-felt bag pattern downloads from my Ravelry and Craftsy stores this month, including 'Spring'.  Knitting has always been a craft I prefer to do in the cooler months. How about you?  Do you knit all year round...?

If you like 'Spring' and fancy having a go yourself - summer or not! - all my bag / purse patterns are knitted in the round and entirely in one piece, so there's no sewing involved. They're my own original designs, and I'm easily contacted if you're a beginner knitter and need any help. As 99% of my customers are Americans, I price in $US. Paypal converts to whatever currency you use, though, so don't let that put you off. ☺

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Our Kitchen Transformation

It's been a few years since we moved into this house and began (almost immediately) renovating the kitchen.  But, having just tidied up my photo files and been consequently reminded how horrible it was and how hard we worked, I thought I'd share.  I've got zillions of before-during-and-after pics, but I promise only to show a few, lol!

For financial reasons, we did most of the work ourselves, so it had to be done in two stages due to time (and health) constraints.  This pic was the first one taken, at the start of phase one, when the old units, worktop and tiles at this end of the kitchen had been removed. 

After phase-one electrics, plastering, sealing, painting and flooring had been done, we were ready to begin installing the cooking area:

The old cooking area (as you'll see in a sec) had been bizarrely placed at the other end of the kitchen by previous owners, right by doors leading into the lounge and hallway, so that had to be changed. As we have four doors leading off this small kitchen, and so not a lot of room for manoeuvre, we had no alternative but to site the new cooking area here.  Not ideal as it's fairly close to the back door, but a vast improvement and it works for us. ☺

That part of the kitchen (phase one) took almost four months to complete, but we managed it in time for Christmas.  We then took a much-needed break till the following spring.  This meant continuing to use the old sink with its badly-leaking tap, but at least we had a kitchen sink.  If we'd tried to renovate the whole kitchen in one go, we'd have been washing dishes upstairs in the bathroom for months!

Here's what the other part looked like before phase two got going, and before we sold the old cooker.  (Door to lounge is on the cooker wall, just out of shot, so I expect you can see why we did what we did in phase one.)

And here's how it looked after ripping out units and sink, and before tile removal. Eugh!

After tile removal (two layers!), sanding back old tile adhesive (what a mess!), plumbing, electrics, dealing with acres of mouldy wall, hole-filling, sealing, painting, flooring and tiling, and a new window (the old one fell out...!) we eventually ended up with a kitchen we both enjoy working in:

Mike and Rosie's white, green and yellow kitchen with pops of blue.

Mike and Rosie's white, green and yellow kitchen with touches of black and blue.

Our white country-style kitchen with walnut laminate worktops and slate-style ceramic floor.

The only bit I'm not happy with is the radiator wall (opposite the window and out of shot).  Like the rest of the kitchen, we painted it (and the radiator) yellow and hung a large black-framed mirror to reflect the view of the garden.  For some reason, the yellow-and-black combo isn't doing it for me, and I feel there's too much yellow on view there anyway.  We're thinking of possibly painting that wall a shade of green to match the tiles, and maybe painting the rad and mirror-frame in off-white to break it up and to match the unit doors.  Or maybe paint the wall off-white and the rad and mirror green...?  As you can tell, we're horribly undecided, and in any case there's far too much else to do - we began work on our bedroom late last summer, and still haven't finished it.  In fact, that's where I should be right now instead of at my desk and blogging, so I'll bid you a fond farewell...!

Monday, 16 July 2012

The Prettiest Fish and Chip Shop Ever... (plus Usk Castle and Giant Hogweed)

Possibly the prettiest fish & chips shop and restaurant in the world, situated in Usk, Monmouthshire, South Wales.
Adorned with gorgeous and colourful hanging baskets and planters, this fish and chip shop in Usk, Monmouthshire, South Wales is without doubt the prettiest I've ever seen.  Not only that, the food is apparently excellent, whether you take out or eat in.  OH and I have yet to taste its delights, but with fish like red mullet on the menu, it won't be long before we do!

Usk is a very attractive market town, but we visited last week because we discovered that privately-owned Usk castle is now open to the public.  It was a(nother) wet day in Wales, but we managed to have a good old explore (accompanied by the owners' friendly dogs for part of the way!) and to take some photos before rain set in with a vengeance.

The Great Keep, c.1170, Usk Castle, Usk, Monmouthshire,South Wales.
The Great Keep, originally the Gate House, built c.1170.  (See one of the owners' aforementioned dogs bottom right.)

The Castle Keep, c.1170, Usk Castle, Monmouthshire, Gwent, South Wales.
The Great Keep again, with OH grinning maniacally down at me.
Or perhaps laughing hysterically at my hair, which in damp conditions swells to enormous proportions and resembles a windswept haystack crossed with a well-used Brillo-pad.  Why on earth did I move to the wettest place in mainland UK...?  And before you ask - no, I'm not posting a pic!

The Garrison Tower, c.1209, Usk Castle, Monmouthshire, South Wales.
 The Garrison Tower, built c.1209.

The Garrison Tower at Usk Castle, and Giant Hogweed plants.
The Garrison Tower again, with Giant Hogweed and OH (still laughing at my hair, no doubt!). 
The plants have been fenced off, and for good reason.  The notice attached to the fence states Giant Hogweed contains toxic sap that causes severe burns and blistering which may last many months.  Even when the burns have died down, skin can apparently remain sensitive to light for years.  The notice goes on to advise that affected skin should be thoroughly rinsed with cold water, and sunscreen of at least factor 35 applied.  All this was news to me and sounds horrendous, so I'll be avoiding Giant Hogweed like the proverbial plague!

Chickens in the Town Gaol at Usk Castle, Monmouthshire, South Wales.
Chickens in the Town Gaol.  I wonder what he(i)n-ous crimes they committed...?!

The Gatehouse, Usk Castle, South Wales, photographed from inside the Outer Ward.
The Gatehouse (photographed from inside the Outer Ward).  
Out of the picture to the left is a large marquee, used for weddings and other functions.  I imagine it's a very popular venue, as the view across the valley (out of the picture and to the right) is fantastic.  I couldn't get a decent shot, sadly, due to worsening rain, so you'll have to take my word for it. :)

So, despite the weather and my nightmare hair, we had a great time.  Even if you're not into history, Usk Castle is well worth a visit.  The views, as I've mention above, are spectacular, and the castle grounds, which have long been part of the prestigious National Gardens Scheme, are a gardener's delight.  Next time we go (in sunshine!) it's the plants I'll be photographing, so watch this space. :)

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Possibly the Coolest iPad Case in the World...

Harvest - possibly the funkiest handmade iPad case in the world! Made in Wales, UK.
Designed and handmade in Wales, UK, a striking iPad case constructed in two funky fabrics that complement each other perfectly. I love the warm autumnal colours, not to mention the combination of quirky spots and squiggly stripes. In fact, it'll be hard to part with it, as this eye-catching iPad case is a Limited Edition (of two) because the fabric used for the larger front panel is sadly no longer available. I do have some left, but probably only enough for a couple of Kindle sleeves. I knew I should have bought more!

A great gift for those who prefer something a little bit different, and would, I think, appeal to outgoing men as well as women.

Available at BaggieAggie from today, and price (as always) includes UK post & packing. International buyers, please contact me for a shipping quote for your part of the world.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

What NOT to wear on holiday!

There's not a lot I need to say about these hilarious examples of men and women's beachwear - the photos do the talking!

Tasteless bikini - nuts?!Tasteless and hilarious men's beachwear pouch in fluorescent green!
If you're travelling abroad on holiday this year, I'm sure whatever you choose to wear will be a zillion times more tasteful, lol!
And don't forget to dress up your passports too.  I'm offering several handmade passport covers in a variety of fabrics, including these:

Gorgeous ladies' passport cover in mouth-watering tropical colours.
 Fabric passport cover in zingy tropical shades.

The perfect passport cover for travellers to China, Japan, Far East.
 'Willow Pattern' passport cover for travellers to the Far East.

Pretty ladies' passport wallet in a contemporary floral fabric in pink and green.
'Pink Flower' passport holder.

If you don't see exactly what you're looking for, do contact me as I welcome custom orders (though not, I hasten to add, for beachwear!).

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Snoozy poozy finds new bed...!

There's no hope for my pussycat. I went downstairs last night to make a cup of tea, went back up to continue working on my blog, and there she was, fast asleep on my laptop's keyboard.  The wrist pad she normally stretches out on (while I'm trying to work!) is apparently no longer comfy enough.

Crazy cat fast asleep on laptop keyboard.

But why am I surprised.  The gorgeous cat basket I spent days knitting and felting with much love was made redundant long ago!

Friday, 6 July 2012

Paypal Micropayments account - pay lower fees!

Fun and funky 'Mushrooms' keyring / wrist fob in black, pink, red, blue, yellow and more.

As most online sellers know, charges for a normal Paypal macropayments account (if your monthly sales are less than £1,500) are 3.4% + 20p.

What Paypal doesn’t shout from the rooftops, and which I only found out when I registered as a designer on Ravelry to sell my felted bag patterns, is that they also offer a micropayments option for sellers of low-value items.  The charges for this are 5% + 5p.

So, if an item (including p&p) sells for £3, for example, this is what you would pay in fees:

Macropayments: £3 x 3.4% = 10p, plus 20p = 30p
Micropayments: £3 x 5% = 15p, plus 5p = 20p

A big difference, especially when you work out what you might sell over a year!
The breakeven point is somewhere between £9 and £10, so if most of your items (including p&p) sell for £9 or less, it might be worth converting your existing premier or business account from macro to micro by following the link at the foot of this post.  The lower your prices, the more money you'll save.

Alternatively, you could open a second Paypal account. Paypal allows each person to hold two accounts, one macropayment and one micropayment (very useful for eBay sellers with a mix of high and low prices) but it's not possible to link them both to the same bank account, sadly.

To switch your current Paypal account to micropayments, follow the link, click 'Signup', choose your country from the drop-down menu, and take it from there.  If at any time your circumstances change and a micropayments account is no longer viable, you can simply switch back.

(If you've found this post useful, or know someone who would benefit, Blogger has made it easy to share with friends via Twitter, Facebook, email and more. Just scroll down to the box below this post and click the relevant icon/s.)
NOTE: Ignore the $ figures you'll see when you click - these only apply to US sellers.  The figures I've given in this post are correct at time of writing.  It seems we poor Brits always pay more for everything!

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Owls Don't Have Eyeballs (and other facts)

Owls - quality handmade fabric iPad case for women in blue, green, yellow and chocolate brown.
Many of us, including me, find owls incredibly attractive, perhaps because their large, front-facing eyes make them look almost human.  But how many of us are aware that owls in Britain are in decline?  Not many, I suspect, because we see images of these amazing and beautiful creatures everywhere, thanks to their popularity. (And I can personally attest to that popularity as products made with owl fabrics - like the new iPad case pictured - are by far my best sellers.)  The reason for the decline is, of course, loss of habitat and nesting sites.

As a bit of a bird anorak, I was aware of this decline, but what I didn't know until quite recently is that owls don't have eyeballs.  Their eyes, about the same size and weight as human eyes, are actually tubular in shape and can't therefore move in their sockets.  To compensate, their long necks (much longer than they look!) are able to move their heads 270 degrees horizontally - which is about three-quarters of a circle - and 90 degrees vertically.  This incredible flexibility makes complete sense once you know why they have it (and I'd wondered for years!).  Isn't nature amazing...?

Thankfully, our British owls' decline can be reversed - visit the World Owl Trust to see the wonderful work they do (and donate £1 if you can).  And this important work won't just help owls - many other bird and animal species are also in serious decline as a result of habitat loss, so they too will benefit.  :)