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Q&A with Eleanor from nelnanandnora

Can you tell us a little bit about you and your blog?

Hi, I’m Eleanor, from nelnanandnora. I’m married and have two daughters and we live on the edge of Leeds, UK. Crochet and sewing are my great crafting loves and are the main focus of my blog, along with occasional travel, events and other creative adventures.

Can you show us a photo of your crafting space?

I’m fortunate to have half of a room at the side of our house, which is shared with my husband’s Lego, guitars, books and other random household storage. On sunny days I sew at the dining table where the light and view are much better.

When did you start crafting and what inspired you to start? What was your first project? What is your favourite craft?

I started making things when I was very young, thanks to my Mum and Grandma. The first project that I remember clearly was a plaster of Paris decoration that we made at nursery. I was given my first sewing box when I was 6 or 7 years old and loved playing with my Grandma’s fabric scraps and buttons. It was at and after university that my great love of dressmaking really started to develop. Living in Belgium for a few years challenged both my language and sewing skills as I discovered Burda Style and Knip Mode magazines. Crochet followed more recently and took over for a while as it felt more manageable when my girls were younger, but sewing is definitely my favourite.

What do you love most about crafting?

I love being able to take a flat piece of fabric or ball of yarn and create something unique. It fulfils a deep-seated desire to make life more beautiful and helps keep me calm and focused (most of the time!).

Do your friends or family craft along with you?

My daughters (aged 7 and 10) are both creative, and although they generally prefer to draw and make models, the elder one has tried some crochet and really enjoys sewing. She determined the placement of each flower motif on this dress and helped to sew them in place. They both love choosing fabrics and patterns so that they have unique garments and accessories (including a completely ridiculous flamingo hat!) I have a growing network of creative friends, which is wonderful after sewing alone for many years. I don’t craft so often now with my husband - he prefers Lego and jigsaw puzzles - although we did make our wedding invitations together.

Who do you make things for?

Most of my creations are for me, my girls or other family members. Sometimes I take on commissions, which have varied widely from cuddly chickens to a flat cap and waistcoat for a 5 year old. Our next family project will be making decorations to sell at a school Christmas fair, to raise funds for the PTA.

What made you decide to start to blog about your crafting?

I’d been crocheting for a year or so when I started blogging. It seemed like a natural progression to share what I was learning and to start writing patterns and tutorials. My rediscovered love for sewing - which had lain dormant for a few years when the girls were little – has taken over my blog somewhat during the last year or so. It’s been a while since I wrote a crochet pattern but the shell stitch hat has remained popular.

Do you have a favourite snack when crafting?

Biscuits, toast or cheese (or quite often all three).

What 3 sewing or craft items/tools could you not live without?

A needle, thread and fabric. With those three, anything is possible.

What are your favourite fabrics to sew with and why?

I love silk, cotton, linen and wool. Much as synthetics are practical, they just don’t feel the same.

What is your favourite pattern you have ever followed?

This is a tough one! The Clare Coat by Closet Case Patterns is probably the one that has challenged me most. Unfortunately I made a poor fabric choice so I’ll be making another for this winter.

What is your favourite product on the Minerva Crafts website and what would you make with it?

Boiled Wool Coating is one of my favourite fabrics. It is practical and warm but feels luxurious and a little quirky at the same time. Perfect! I’d make a cocoon coat with the Sapporo Papercut Pattern or simple raw edge jacket.

How many projects do you have on the go at one time? 

Hmmm, quite a few! I’d say two or three current ones that can be finished relatively quickly and a slow one that could run for a few weeks or months. I always have a few planned in advance, but sometimes they’re overtaken by new ideas that won’t go away.

Whats your favourite thing you have ever made? 

I’d have to say my friends’ wedding dresses, one in 2001 from a Prima magazine pattern and one in 2005 using the Vogue Sewing Pattern no 2788, a classic that is still in print. It was almost a magical process and such a privilege to make them.

What is your latest WIP (Work in progress)? Do you have a photo?

I’m crocheting a blanket for my Mum (the Hydrangea blanket by Lucy of Attic24), sewing a sweatshirt for my husband and will soon be starting a Sew Over It Chloe Coat, ready for the winter.

Do you watch TV or listen to music while you craft?

I listen to podcasts or have YouTube - almost always sewing vlogs - on in the background for crafty inspiration, or if I need to concentrate more, then I’ll have some music playing, mostly Corinne Bailey Rae or Pink Martini. I’ve been following the French version of the Sewing Bee (Cousu Main), which is great for both my sewing and my rusty language skills!

What/who do you go to for inspiration before you start crafting?

I often go for a wander round local craft and fabric shops – we’re very fortunate to have a good selection around Leeds and Bradford – or explore Instagram, Ravelry, The Fold Line or Pinterest.

Do you have a crafty tip you would like to share?

Don’t hurry! That seems to be when most things go wrong (especially with late night crafting).

Do you follow other blogs? If so which blogs?

I tend to pick up blog posts via Instagram and Facebook if the content appeals to me; Attic24Saturday Night StitchHandmade by ChrisRedWSewsThe Yorkshire SewistThe Magnificent Thread and Thimberlina are among my favourites. I feel more connected with bloggers who I’ve met and most of these lovely creative women are based close to here.

Do you have any advice for new bloggers?

I still feel a bit clueless after 3 years! Finding your voice can tak time. The blogs that I appreciate the most are the honest ones, telling their stories with all the ups and downs of creative life.

Could you sum yourself up as a crafter in 3 words?

Quirky, inquisitive, persistent.

What are your crafting ambitions?

I’d like to find ways to support and encourage others as I develop my own skills.

Have you a favourite tip or trick to share with our readers?

Wonder Clips are amazing! I find them so handy for working with knits, zips and bulky fabrics, or anything that is difficult to pin.

What would you say to anyone looking to start a new craft?

Take it slowly at first, be kind to yourself and keep it playful!

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