My Etsy Shop

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Etsy Shop Temporarily Closed

In my last post, I mentioned the new EU VAT regulations that will take effect from 1st Jan 2015. I thought it would be possible to carry on as normal as I only sell through 3rd party market places. This was after assurances from HMRC (the UK tax office) that if you sell through such a website then it will be up to them to pay the VAT and not the individual seller. However, there is conflicting and confusing information about whether this is true or not. Etsy have stated on their blog that as individual sellers are paid directly by their customers then they ARE liable for the tax. They have not yet decided what they are going to do to help sellers comply and so until then, we cannot decide what we will do either. One possible solution is to send the PDF files manually via e-mail, as this means they will not be subject to the tax laws. My Folksy shop already operates this way and so is unaffected. I have reluctantly decided that until Etsy makes its position clearer and offers possible solutions that the best thing to do is close the shop for a short while and have a think.
I am very sorry for the really short notice but this has been really badly handled by the authorities and the vast majority of sole traders who will be affected did not find out until about 6 weeks ago. As I said, the implications of the legislation are still being debated, even by those who are enforcing it, so you can imagine how stressful this is for those of us who need to know what to do. As soon as I work something out, I will let you know here on my blog. You can follow me on Twitter and find me on Facebook to get in touch and keep updated.
Here's the good news. My Folksy shop is as yet unaffected as they have no instant download facility. Patterns are delivered manually via e-mail and so the tax laws do not apply. You an find my popular Lindisfarne Celtic Geometry and Art Nouveau Rose patterns there, as well as others. You don't need to register with Folksy to buy anything there, you can simply pay with a credit or debit card without logging in.
The legislation will eventually cover ALL goods, whether they are digital or not so I need to look for alternatives. I have already found some potential long-term homes for my patterns and my plans to release new designs next year are unchanged.
Of course, a lot of this stress and hassle would be avoided if the EU put a reasonable threshold in place to remove the burden for sole traders and small businesses. Let's hope that 2015 brings some wisdom and common sense to those in charge (!) and I wish you all a happy, prosperous and creative year. 
To end with, here is a sampler I stitched a couple of years ago. I don't usually do pink so I'm not sure what came over me but I'm quite pleased with the results.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Time to Reflect

As I write this, we're just a couple of days away from the Winter Solstice, the shortest and darkest day of the year. This is always an important turning point for me as it means that the days will soon be growing longer and lighter again (very good for us stitchers!). It is always a time to reflect on the passing year and looking forward to the swiftly approaching new year. This time I have been reflecting on my first months of trading and making plans for my business in 2015.
I've already learned a lot about what has worked and what hasn't. I'll definitely be working to improve my photography and I will be opening a Flickr account to share more of my behind-the-scenes stuff, as well as my inspirations.
I'm very excited about the patterns that I'll be releasing next year. There are some Celtic designs inspired by ancient artwork; some designs inspired by the natural world, including my favourite bird, a colourful finch and his mate; there are some fun and quirky ones too. I haven't yet finalised the order in which I'll be releasing them but as soon as each one is ready, I'll be telling you about it here.
I'm also planning to create some one-off pieces. Not necessarily to sell but just to share my love of embroidery with like-minded people and to grow as an embroiderer. Although all of my patterns are either cross stitch or blackwork, I enjoy all kinds of embroidery and I want to make time to really enjoy the craft and learn new things. I'll be sharing my progress on Flickr when my account is set up.
The best thing about this year has been the contact I have had with other designer-makers on Twitter. It's lovely to know there are so many creative people out there who enjoy sharing ideas and giving each other encouragement. I am very happy to be part of this community. Working on your own at home can be difficult at times so it's good to know you're all out there.
You may be aware that from 1st Jan 2015, the EU have decided that anybody selling digital products to EU countries will have to pay VAT to whichever country the sale was made in. This is mainly aimed at large companies who choose to funnel their taxes through the countries with the lower rates. I have no sympathy at all with such companies and it's about time they were made to pay tax in all of the countries that they trade in. The problem however is that there is no threshold being applied so no matter how small the business, VAT will have to be paid. Businesses will also be required to collect customer data and store it for 10 years. This is extremely difficult for small businesses and will add a huge administrative burden as well as a financial one. It won't affect me as I only sell through third parties but I was planning to eventually trade independently. That will not now be possible. If you'd like to show your support for small businesses you can do so by signing this petition:
To end on a more cheery note, tonight I'll be watching my favourite Christmas film It's A Wonderful Life. Last year it inspired me to make an embroidered piece to hang in my room. So all that remains is to wish you all a Merry Christmas and thank you to everyone who has supported me.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

New Pattern - Postman Butterfly

I've just put a new pattern into the shop - a stunning postman butterfly which can be found in Central and South America. There are several different sub-species which can be found in different areas. The striking colours on their wings are a warning to would-be predators that they are poisonous. Their caterpillars feed on passion flowers, as do those of various other species of butterflies and moths. The adults feed on pollen and can live for up to three months.
I worked my original design onto 32-count ivory fabric and at that scale it fits neatly into a 5-inch hoop. In time, I plan to add more butterflies to this collection but for now this is the first of my designs inspired by Victorian butterfly collections.
This reminds me, I have a set of butterfly patterns by one of my favourite designers Mary Hickmott which I must get round to stitching. I'm afraid it will have to wait a while yet though as I'm very busy preparing new things for the shop.
I hope you like the latest addition. Until next time, happy stitching!

Monday, 24 November 2014

First Sale!

You know how it is when you wake up and realise it's Monday again, especially if like today it's cold and frosty outside. My mood soon lifted when I checked into Etsy and saw that I'd made my first sale! Hurrah! It was a lovely surprise to wake up to and very interesting in several ways. Firstly, it was not the design I expected to sell first as I have others which have been more popular (in terms of favourites) and secondly it was to a man. Don't get me wrong, I know that lots of men love embroidery in all forms as a hobby and I rarely do 'girlie' designs. Yet all the attention I've had so far on Twitter and on my shop feed has been from female stitchers. It is very exciting to know my patterns appeal to both men and women.
So, you're wondering what was the pattern? It was (drumroll optional...) the Art Deco Bird, as featured in an earlier post. Click the link to read more about the inspiration behind it.

I've been very busy this month working on designs for hand-embroidered cards which I'll have on sale next year. This is partly because I love experimenting with embroidery on paper and also because I have a stack of pretty papers and card blanks that I really need to do something with. I'll have some romantic-themed cards ready in time for Valentine's Day and some nature themed cards suitable for all occasions. I'm also planning to write a tutorial about stitching on paper at some point in the near future so watch this space.
Until then, happy stitching!

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Lindisfarne Celtic Geometry Pattern

I have mentioned in previous posts that I have many sources of inspiration for my designs but one of my favourite sources is the beautiful Celtic designs created over a thousand years ago throughout the British Isles. These islands have a wealth of Celtic art in various forms and designs can be found in manuscripts, on ancient stonework and on artefacts such as shields or jewellery. I have long been fascinated by Celtic art and when I took up embroidery as a serious hobby, I began looking for designs that celebrated the art that I loved. Although there are Celtic cross stitch designs available, I couldn't quite find what I was looking for.
I didn't want Celtic for the sake of being Celtic; I wanted my designs to tell a story and to have links with their ancient roots. So, I found designs that I liked in various books about Celtic art and culture and began to convert some of them into cross stitch patterns. They have often been simplified and adapted to modern colours but each one has its origins in those ancient times.
I often think about the original artists as I'm working. I imagine a monk working in the peaceful surroundings of his monastery while he draws out the lines that will help him create an intricate motif to decorate a page from the gospel. Or perhaps there is a stonemason in his workshop, carefully etching beautifully formed knotwork into  a sandstone cross.

These are the people who have inspired me to give new life to these patterns and share them with those of you who want quality embroidery designs that have an authenticity and are a real celebration of the wonderful artwork from the history of Britain and Ireland.
The design pictured here is my Lindisfarne Celtic Geometry pattern. The Lindisfarne Gospels are illuminated manuscripts that were created in the Lindisfarne Monastery of the Northumbrian coast, probably in the early 8th century. This angular geometric style is a common feature of Celtic art and is quite striking. I have used shades of seas green and to give it a modern look. You can of course choose other colours if you wish.
You can find it in my Payhip shop or as an instant download in my Etsy shop.

All photos (c) Karen Eley 2014-15

Monday, 20 October 2014

Instant downloads on Etsy

Just a quick note to announce the launch of my Etsy shop! I've been on Folksy for a while but now I'm also on Etsy which has a bigger potential audience. The shop is called Hawthorn Tree Designs and exactly the same designs are available but on Etsy they are available as instant downloads. This means the patterns will be available to you as soon as payment is completed. I operate through PayPal but don't worry if you don't have an account, you can still use a credit or debit card. Take a look!

Saturday, 11 October 2014

New Christmas Patterns!

I can't believe we're already almost halfway through October - where does the time go? I didn't work at all last weekend as I was at Derby Folk Festival enjoying all the great music. Due to the fire earlier this year, the Assembly Rooms are closed until further notice so it became an outdoor festival. There was a big marquee set up in the market square and a number of events took place in the Guildhall Theatre and the Old Bell Hotel. It really showcased Derby's cathedral quarter and created a real buzz in the city centre. I was able to indulge myself in my favourite music all weekend with performances from Coope, Boyes and Simpson, Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman, Martin Simpson, Jez Lowe and the Bad Pennies, Steeleye Span, Show of Hands and Kate Rusby. Fantastic! I'm already excited about what will be on offer next year.
There were sycamore leaves and seeds all over the market square and the chilly nights reminded me that winter is fast approaching. For us crafters, it's time to think about the projects we want to work on for Christmas. If you're looking for something festive that won't take up too much of your time then I have THREE choices for you! They can each be finished in well under a month and only need two skeins of stranded cotton and a small amount of metallic braid. If you're speedy you could easily make more than one of them before Christmas.
The first is this Festive Bauble, inspired by traditional band samplers and Assisi work. Although it will fit into a 6-inch hoop, it looks more balanced in a 7-inch hoop. It can be worked in any colours you choose so feel free to use my design as a guide to match it to your own festive colour scheme.

The second is this Noel Sampler featuring mini motifs which can be used for smaller projects such as Christmas cards. This design fits perfectly into an 8-inch hoop.

The third design is this sampler inspired by the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol. For me, no Christmas is complete without this story and I'm a big fan of the TV version with Patrick Stewart as Scrooge. When the old miser is shown the error of his ways by the Spirits of Christmases Past, Present and Yet to Come, Scrooge vows to make amends and change his ways. You could almost imagine Mrs Cratchit herself making this sampler to display on the wall as her family sit down to their Christmas dinner.

You can find them all in my Etsy and Payhip shops and don't forget you can also keep in touch with me through Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

September - and a rescued hedgehog

Yesterday (23rd) was not only the 65th birthday of Bruce Springsteen but also the autumn equinox. We have now entered the last quarter of the year and we're going to see the nights getting gradually longer until December.
I used to dread September as a child because it always meant going back to school, although it did mean we would be singing one of my favourite hymns in morning assembly - Autumn Days. If you fancy reliving those days, you can do so with this video.  Now however, I have a whole new appreciation for this month. For me, it is the mirror image of April; the world is starting to liven up again but instead of getting warmer and brighter, the days become shorter and colder. I've seen lots of red admiral butterflies lately, stopping to feed on sedum, Michaelmas daisies and valerian as they head south. It's been a couple of weeks since I've seen swallows or martins but two days ago I saw my first wigeon of the autumn. A large starling flock has been spending a lot of time in the garden and chattering on the gutter above my window.
I had a very close encounter with a hedgehog a couple of weeks ago when it turned up in the front garden looking very poorly. I took it inside and put it in a box and then looked on the internet for advice. I found some excellent information from the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and followed the instructions. I warmed up the hog with a hot water bottle and fed it some cat food. I then contacted a local rehabilitator and the hog was handed over at Shipley Country Park Visitor Centre. Here are a couple of photos I took of it. The first is before it woke up and the second shows it enjoying a snack.

It was a privilege to help this beautiful little creature and now I know what to do if I ever find another one.
In the meantime, for us crafters this is the time of year when we spend more time on our hobbies and we start to think about our Christmas projects. Over the last three weeks, I have been stitching three new designs which will be on sale very soon. They are all festive-themed and are really easy to work and easily adaptable for your own colour schemes. I'll give you more details when I put them on sale but I'm sure you're going to love them. You can see previews of them on my twitter and Facebook pages.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Dale Abbey Alphabet Tile


My Dale Abbey Alphabet Tile pattern was inspired by an antique journal from my granddad's collection. He was very interested in local history and old books so when he found this 1908 edition of the Derbyshire Archaeological and Natural History Society's periodical, I'm sure he would have been very pleased indeed! I think he may have bought  it because it contains the obituary of Rev. Charles Kerry, a well-known local historian and a native of Smalley.
The chapter that inspired this pattern is about hornbooks. A hornbook is an old-fashioned name given to a form of tablet that has the alphabet written on it. Originally, it referred to items made of deer horn but later became a more general term. Much like cross stitched samplers, they were designed to help a child learn to read. Some of them were made from gingerbread and when a child could name a letter, they could eat that piece of the biscuit. That sounds like a very good incentive to me!
The design is based on a tile found at Dale Abbey, near Derby. Whoever made it forgot to reverse the letters so they read right to left. This may explain why it was discarded! I have put the letters back into the right order. You will see there is no letter 'J'. The letter 'I' was used for both in the old English alphabet. The letters are of a Lombardic style and can be used separately to add initials to various items or you could spell out words and phrases. I used shade 919 (DMC) on vintage Cashel linen shade 3009 but you could give it a completely different look if you wish.
Happy stitching!

Monday, 4 August 2014

Lest We Forget

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row

The summer of 1914 was a time of great excitement for my part of the world; there was to be a royal visit to the industrial town of Heanor. On 25th June, people from Heanor and surrounding towns and villages lined the streets to see King George V and Queen Mary. Industry was closed to let the workers enjoy the occasion and flags and banners were waved. Just three days later, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo. This would begin a chain of events that would lead to a conflict of unprecedented scale.
For five weeks there were rumours about Britain's potential involvement and the scenes from the August Bank Holiday weekend became a poignant last glimpse of a country that would soon be changed forever. On 4th August at 11pm, Britain officially declared war on Germany and less than three weeks later the first fighting took place at the Battle of Mons.
There was not a place in the country that did not have men going off to war. Those who did not return are listed on memorials in their home towns. With so much time passing, those men barely remain in living memory and there was a danger of them becoming little more than letters on stone. With the centenary of the war now being commemorated, we have a  real opportunity to bring them back to life and to remember them properly.
On the war memorial in my home village of Codnor, there are the names of two of my relatives. Arthur Hubball was my Grandma's uncle. He had already been wounded once before returning to the front. He had survived the Battle of the Somme which took place through most of 1916. He also made it through the terribly cold winter of 1916-17. On 9th February 1917, he was reported missing. It would be eight months before he was officially declared dead. He was the first man from the small village of Stoneyford to die. The second was a son of one of Arthur's cousins, Arthur Darrington. Having joined up in June 1918, teenager Arthur arrived in France in September. Just a month later he was mortally wounded and died in a military hospital.
Arthur Darrington is buried in Bellicourt British Cemetery but Arthur Hubball has no known grave. He is commemorated on the colossal Monument to the Missing at Thiepval. It made me wonder, what would their families do, when there can be no funeral, no headstone to visit? I imagined a woman in silent grief taking up a scrap of fabric and oddments of thread. She takes up her needle and embroiders the name of her loved one, with poppies for remembrance.
I took up my own needle and created a small piece inspired by John McCrae's famous poem In Flanders Fields. Before white headstones were installed, the resting place of each soldier was marked with a wooden cross. Red poppies with their fragile petals sprang up across the churned up earth and became a symbol of remembrance, as well as the hope for peace. Arthur Hubball and Arthur Darrington, men of Codnor, you are not forgotten.

If you would like to learn more about my two relatives and the men from Codnor who died during the Great War, you can do so here.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Art Deco Bird Cross Stitch Pattern

One of my favourite sources of inspiration is old books. I am lucky that the love of old books runs in the family so I have plenty to browse when I'm looking for new ideas. There has been debate in recent years about whether books will become obsolete with the growing popularity of digital literature. Not as long as there are people like me in the world they won't! I find the suggestion quite ridiculous. I love everything about old books: the texture of their covers, the artwork, the fonts and of course that smell of the pages of a book that has been loved and cared for by several generations of readers and bibliophiles.
My next few blog posts will be about some of my designs which have been inspired by various lovely old books. The first is my Art Deco Bird pattern which was inspired by an illustration in a children's story anthology published in the 1930s. The copyright page shows two stylised birds, one on either side of the list of contributors. I am not certain exactly what they are but they are clearly some kind of birds of prey. They are created by using simple shapes and art deco motifs. My cross stitch version is worked mainly in black with a few touches of gold to give a hint of art deco opulence.
This anthology contains a large number of short stories and poems, many by very well-known authors such as Sir Walter Scott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Robert Louis Stevenson and Frances Hodgson Burnett. I was quite excited when I came across a story by Hans Christian Andersen entitled The Red Shoes, which is about a little girl called Karen. I had a pair of red shoes when I was little and I've known for a while that my name is Danish so I was eager to read what happened to my namesake in this story.
I was expecting there to be magic but I wasn't prepared for how shocking it is in places! I won't give away the ending but it's a moral tale about pride and selfishness. I will now think twice before buying any more red shoes!

All photos (c) Karen Eley 2014

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Bonjour, Leeds!

It's not very often you'll find me happily getting up at 3.30am, especially on a Saturday, but it's not every day that the most prestigious bike race in the world comes to the streets of Yorkshire. Leeds had been chosen to host the start of the first stage, le Grand Départ, of the Tour de France on 5th July, 2014. Living in south-east Derbyshire, we're not that far from Leeds but we wanted to make sure we arrived in plenty of time to get a good spot. After leaving the house at about 4am, we arrived at the Elland Rd Park and Ride at about 5.30am. Just before 6am we boarded the first bus along with many of the volunteer Tour Makers who helped to make the event a great success.
This was the first time we'd been to Leeds city centre and we were very impressed with the quality of the shops. If you live in Leeds, how lucky are you to have a Hotel Chocolat and a Patisserie Valerie? Even better than that, the latter is right next door to an old-fashioned sweet shop! We'll definitely be back at some point to do some shopping but that day was all about le Tour. It had certainly capture everyone's imagination and many of the shops had decorated their windows with Tour-themed displays, yellow being the dominant colour. For those who don't know, the overall leader of the race is awarded the yellow jersey (le maillot jaune) and this bright and sunny colour was very much in evidence throughout the streets, helping to create a carnival atmosphere. There were even banners translating French into Yorkshire dialect: 'ooh la la' became 'by eck' and 'je ne sais quoi' became 'it's neither nowt nor summat'.
After a lovely breakfast in a certain New York-Italian diner, we took our place at the barriers on The Headrow (the main street through Leeds). The clock on a building across the street told us it was nearly 7.25am and I thought that waiting four hours for the peloton to come by would feel like forever but it went surprisingly quickly. It's a good job we got to the barrier when we did because by 8 o' clock the streets we much more crowded.
Before the race starts, the caravan of the Tour's official partners and sponsors comes through with freebies which are thrown into the crowd. We got lucky with Bic and RAGT (a supplier of seeds) but unfortunately we missed out on the Haribo.
The excitement began to build as the time for the Départ drew closer. The helicopter hovered above as the fleet of support cars went past sounding their horns. The biggest cheers were for Team Sky, home of reigning TDF champion Chris Froome.
Not long after 11am the noise of the crowd increased as the peloton began to make its way along the route. Luckily for us Chris Froome was on our side of the road and passed by just feet away, alongside Mark Cavendish and Alberto Contador.
It was one of the most exciting events I've been to, much more so than when we went to see the Tour of Britain when it went through Ilkeston in 2012. My favourite headline of the day is this blog from French newspaper Le Monde - Roule, Britannia! It also features a photo of a bike made from various items from a local butcher. I want to give a special mention to the police who joined in with the fun, laughing and joking with the crowd and taking pictures for people. It was also a real novelty to see them alongside their French colleagues the gendarmerie. Chapeau to you all.
There was a nice surprise for me in the official fan pack that we bought. As well as the bandana (which has become my new must-have fashion item) and T-shirt, there is a set of bracelets which are ribbons representing the Tour's jerseys. As well as yellow, there is a spotty one for King of the Mountains and a green one for the best sprinter. I am planning to use them to create a piece of hoop art to commemorate the day. I've never used ribbons before so any tips and ideas are welcome. You can contact me through Twitter and Facebook.
It's a shame that Mark Cavendish crashed out that day and it's even more disappointing that Chris Froome was forced to abandon the race during stage 5 but he's such a great champion I'm sure he'll be back. Allez, allez, allez!
All photos (c) Karen Eley and Roy Eley 2014.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

My First Stitches

It is September 1989.

I am walking down the little lane past the high brick wall that surrounds my school. The leaves are starting to fall from the large sycamore tree that stands in the corner of the playing field and which leans over the end of Baker's Lane. I can hear some of the crisp, brown leaves crunching under my feet. I am wearing a duffle coat and my Mum's red snood to keep my ears warm. My favourite top is a white sweat shirt that has a hologram of a wolf on it. I secretly want to be Kylie Minogue.

This year I will be in Mrs Habbershaw's class and it's my last year at Infant School. Every Friday we will write little stories. We will learn about how days grow shorter and longer as the seasons change. If we are lucky we will get to have a little go on the computer that sits in the corner of the room. Computers are really expensive and we are lucky to have one.
One day, a kind old lady will be our guest in the classroom and we will take turns to work in small groups around her and we learn how to make simple embroidery stitches. This is the first time I have ever used a needle and thread and I am immediately fascinated by the feel of the fabric and the bright colours of the threads. The lady has marked out the letters of my name on the pink canvas and I am working over them in cross stitch with an orange thread. The stitches are fairly neat, even if they are not all being worked in the same direction.
Next I will work a small flower with white and green threads. I won't work all of the stitches in the sampler myself but it will be treasured for many years to come and will begin a lifetime's love of embroidery. I will soon forget the lady's name but I will never forget what she has taught me.

Friday, 20 June 2014


Welcome to the official blog for my embroidery design and needlecraft shop. You can find my shop on where you can browse my portfolio of cross stitch and blackwork designs. I also have plans to make some items too but with just one pair of hands to run all aspects of the business this will have to wait a short while!


My designs are inspired by a huge variety of sources but my two main influences are Celtic art and the natural world. These are both combined in the symbol of the hawthorn tree. The hawthorn tree symbolises the joining together of numerous contradictions. Soft, fragrant blossoms flower alongside sharp woody thorns. The strongly perfumed blossoms were associated with female fertility in the spring and yet the tree was said to have a male energy.

My own Hawthorn Tree has many branches; my influences are quite diverse. I collect ideas from historical sources from ancient Celtic manuscripts and stonework to twentieth century art nouveau and art deco. All of my designs are inspired by interesting shapes and colours, whether it is stylised geometry or natural forms. So taking inspiration from history and nature, I have created designs for the modern stitcher. I don't mind at all if you stitch one of my designs using different threads and/or fabric, in fact I would encourage you to do so. Hobbies are meant to be enjoyable so find a design and make it your own. That way you will get more satisfaction from working it and you will have created something unique which can be cherished for years to come.

Do keep checking back and you’ll learn more about me and my designs. You can also find me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter. I’ve just updated my Folksy shop with two new designs and there’s another one coming very soon so keep in touch.