Tag : workshops

More than ‘just’ a piece of furniture…

table
ˈteɪb(ə)l/
noun

A piece of furniture with a flat top and one or more legs, providing a level surface for eating, writing, or working at.
 
Except, it’s not that simple is it – a table, in a house context – for me anyway, is the heart of the home. Our dining table, for instance – we bought it BEFORE we bought our first house. We were lucky in that the shop were able to store it for an indefinite timeline and deliver once we moved in! However, we were then only viewing houses based on whether the table would fit! 
 
Tables are where news is shared, you work on them – studying for a lifelong dream, sit and chat round them, play games, where our little one will eventually draw pictures and do homework, where I cut fabric!
That table is where I shared the news to The Husband that we were finally expecting a baby. It is where we then told grandparents-to-be that I was carrying their grandchild. It was full of cakes and games and generous gifts for our Baby Shower. It’s hosted dinner parties, Christmas, my 30th birthday where The Husband cooked me a particularly amazing 3 course meal! But also, the general day to day chitter chatter – daily meals and chats and debriefs and winding down of the day. So many memories around what is essentially ‘just’ a piece of furniture!
 
So, it was particularly important for me with the new craft workshops space, to make sure the main table would be just right. I looked at many, MANY tables – at the usual John Lewis, IKEA, various online places – until I found RCC furniture that could actually make me whatever I wanted! I obviously needed to ensure practically it could fit around 8 people, with extra generous room for crafting space. I also wanted an industrial style look to fit with the rest of the workspace styling. RCC was perfect – reclaimed wood, steel frames and legs – and really helpful and responsive to messages, and with a large gallery for inspiration it was easy to send them links to existing commissions to advise exactly the look I wanted. I ended up ordering the main table, a desk and another worktop for additional potential crafting space in the room! 
 
In went the order, and knowing it was being made bespoke, just for me – I knew there would be quite a wait… My very first enquiry to them was sent on 2nd June… and delivery yesterday on 1st September! However, it was totally worth the wait! 
 
The delivery man must have thought I was a nutcase (knew?) – jumping up and down, squealing and generally being impatient and trying to get into his van to have a closer look!! Eventually, we got the table(s) out, and I did actually cry. I explained to him that he wasn’t just delivering furniture, but a small part of my dream to reality. I told him what I am doing and aiming to teach – and he politely seemed to love the ideas. He even stayed to wax the tables and buff them out to show off the grain for me. Great!
 
When the van pulled away, and I was stood admiring the beautiful, BEAUTIFUL, tables – suddenly, it wasn’t a garage, a storeroom, an unloved ignored room – it is a workspace, a room ready to make new memories. Just imagine what amazing things people will achieve around that table, the things they will make, the many cups of tea that will be drunk!
 
We even sat and had dinner in there last night! I mean, why not?! It was great to just sit around and imagine. We planned some more details of how everything will be laid out and with a few more things to be ordered, delivered and installed – but we are not far off it being ready! The website is being updated to allow for workshops to be advertised, and tickets to be sold – and then, I can finally and very excitedly – press the button and the craft workshops will be a go go.
 
Very, nearly, there!



 Watch this space. 🙂
 

Categories: Business, General Craft, Workshops

The Crafty Lass does… COLOUR! The ‘ultimate’ handpainted playroom!

40 paint tester pots

63 triangles

5 rolls of Frog Tape

3 months of painting(!!!)

100000s of brushstrokes

1 determined Crafty Lass

1 happy boy…

 

When we moved into this new home, one of the (many) selling points, was a little room just off the hallway next to the kitchen – destined to be a playroom.  It was the first room we started to decorate – and at one point I thought it might be the last too…

We wanted it to be fun, vibrant, a real ‘playtime’ room. Basically somewhere he could enjoy, make a mess – and realistically also, somewhere all the toys could be shoved at the end of the day!!

Of course, there were many Pinterest ideas – I looked into a ‘zoo’ theme, and had visions of animals all over the walls. And dinosaurs with a similar concept – but nothing quite seemed to grab my full inspiration. Until I saw THIS image – even with the title ‘How to Create the Ultimate Playroom’ – perfect! – designed by Minneapolis interior designer Lucy Interior Design. When closer inspected – it turns out it was wallpaper… but I thought perhaps I could paint it?? God knows why… I thought it would be FUN! And it was – well the first few triangles were anyway…

With a little (let’s be realistic, alot) of help from The Husband working out angles, measurements, borrowing his spirit level/metal ruler/tape measure – we soon worked out how I would get it all to fit on the wall space. Now it was up to me to draw it all out and inspired by my new colourful go to Pinterest inspiration – and also our ‘Baby Sensory‘ classes that we attend every week – it was off to B&Q for a many a tester pot picking, and sketching out how it would work!

I LOVE colour – bright, unabashed colourful prints were my go to in my Printed Textile Design degree, and more importantly for this project – babies also love colour and pattern! We just knew it was the right choice.

Once the triangles had been drawn on to the wall, which actually took quite some time! It was ‘simply’ (ha!) a case of taping up each one, painting, allowing to dry, re-coat (each triangle took 3-4 coats!), remove tape, move to the next triangle/repeat… Hence, why this process has taken 3 months! Well, that and juggling life and many other craft projects/decorating projects/setting up the new craft workshops space… 

Now that it is done, and not wanting to blow my own trumpet – I cannot stop staring at it! I of course, can see areas that aren’t just quite 100% perfect – but in reality, who else is going to notice?? I had to draw a line (haha) under it somewhere – so it is finally, and colourfully, DONE. End of story! No more ‘I managed to paint 9 triangles today!’ conversations – now just to enjoy it. I think you can tell – of course I did this for our little one – but yes, I am also in there alot playing with him every day, and it makes MY spirits lift too!

I feel this is a style that will grow with him – it will suit him at all ages. It has taken longer than expected, there were times when I wish I hadn’t started – but equally it was a great challenge! And, would I do it again? Absolutely! Will he thank me for the countless hours working out angles, painting, pondering which colour should go where? Probably not – but at least he has somewhere he knows he can have FUN!

 

Do you have a playroom? Or somewhere you’ve painted a wall mural? I would love to see!

Categories: General Craft, House & Home, The Crafty Lass does...

The Crafty Lass does… A celebration of the discarded babygro!

Babies grow REALLY fast. Everyone tells you – “enjoy it, they won’t be like that for long…”

I heard what people were saying when I first heard this… but I am not sure I really took on board just HOW super mind bogglingly fast time actually disappears… and that some days I think our little one grows before our very eyes. One minute he is wearing that cute little star print vest I love, the next – well, not. I once even thought I had shrunk everything in a wash load – but no no, he really had grown that quickly! Almost overnight…

When he was born, and I had taken approximately 200 first outfits to the hospital in various sizes from very small to very very large ‘just in case’ (we looked pretty much like we were moving house when arriving at the maternity ward, or perhaps maybe a long holiday with 3 cases!!) … he STILL didn’t fit in to any of them. Given the size of my hippopotamus sized bump I was certainly surprised…! Anyway, one of the first jobs for new Daddy was to go out and buy more clothes – turns out we needed very very very small!

Staring at this little bundle of cuteness, who we were suddenly in charge of – and now enclosed in a tiny little babygro on Day 1 – I couldn’t imagine him fitting in to one of the actual ‘going home outfits’ that I’d meticulously and totally unnecessarily planned – let alone all the other what seemed almost ridiculously large items for future months we had at home.

Now, at only (only!) 9 months – he is out of all those wonderful first items – and marching into 9-12 months plus and onwards. So, what to do with all those leftover clothes??

 

  1. Shove them in the loft (just in case they are needed for later…??)
  2. Or, give on as hand me downs? – especially as most of them had been worn for what felt like all of just 5 minutes and in great condition!
  3. Give some to charity?
  4. Or – how about doing all the above but also craftily repurposing some of them?

 

Some of those clothes have memories engrained in them. Little laughter and magical moments woven into the fibre of their cloth. Forever to be captured on camera and shared into the Instagram #babyspam. The sleep suit on his first car journey home, on his first Christmas day, when he first smiled, and rolled over. The first time in a jumperoo, and at a baby sensory class. The special outfit at his first wedding – and the first time he met his grandparents. The list goes on… all those milestones that suddenly happen, you grab your camera and BAM – that’s what he was wearing when ‘that’ happened…

I can’t look at some of those beautiful little items without smiling, crying, remembering and rejoicing! If they are going to be made into something they need to be CUT UP… So they need to made into something that will be used, loved, cherished.

On this note, we are now starting to plan a 1st birthday party, which I cannot quite believe – but what would a party be without decorations? And in particular, BUNTING.

And so… I have spent this evening, going through the no longer used, but still very much loved, clothes – the cute little fabrics – selecting, remembering, and cutting triangles. The triangles won’t match, there will be colours, stripes, prints and patterns galore. It will be fun! And memorable. Personalised – a year in the life of our little man. I’m not going to lie, a few tears have been shed tonight – happy tears – but I repeat – how can he be growing so fast??! 

This craft might take some time, there are plenty of triangles to be cut and sewn, and they won’t be perfect, this bunting will have poppers and seams galore… but what a project!! So enjoyable to plan and make… and so exciting to see the outcome.

I look forward to it being hung, resplendent at his first birthday party!

And if this clever (even if I do say myself) crafty idea – could get any better… my plan is to now do this as time goes on. I will add to it, every year, whenever a new celebration that of course requires bunting is needed – with the next batch of discarded wears so that by the time he is 18 it could no doubt be hung to the moon and back!

I will of course, as always, take photos when it is done and share on the socialstratosphere – here, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Right, I’m off to see what else he can sadly no longer wear, do some more remembering, and to cut triangles…

There are more memories to be made tomorrow, who knows what the day will bring. I hope he is wearing a nice printed outfit!! 

Enjoy. x

Categories: Birthday, Business, Crafty Kids, General Craft, House & Home, The Crafty Lass does..., Workshops

The Crafty Lass does… Workshop planning!

My mind is bursting to the brim full of ideas, my Pinterest page is certainly busy – but what is best? And what is achievable?

A little while ago when I first started to plan for The Crafty Lass, I sent out a little ‘Survey Monkey’ questionnaire for some feedback as to what people would like to learn, to Make, to Create and to be Inspired by. Some of those workshop suggestions are still very relevant, some ideas have developed, but I took all those points on board. It may have been a while since I have been able to action on them – but, it is all there, ready and waiting to be put into place.

The dream and plan is very much more real and actually achievable now… what being a mobile craft workshops business provided in flexibility with location – it was hindered by what I could physically offer by carrying equipment and materials by myself!! With an actual ‘The Craft Space’ workshop plans in full swing – the furniture is being made, the chairs have arrived, the vision is strong for the final finishing touches… but none of it is worth while without the actual workshops, and you…!

I have some great workshop plans already in fruition – but:

What would you like to learn or make? What do you want to try? Or, do you just want to come along for a social crafty gathering with like minded people, for a cuppa and cake?

Sewing? Crochet? Decoupage? Christmas makes? Weddings? Papercraft? …Something entirely different? … I would love to hear from you and your ideas! 

Get in touch. 🙂

Categories: Business, Christmas, Crafty Kids, Easter, General Craft, House & Home, Places to Go & Things to See, Stationery, The Crafty Lass does..., Valentines, Anniversaries & Lovey-Dovey Stuff, Weddings, Workshops

The Crafty Lass does… Too much!

I really wish there were two of me. Or, if we are going for ideals – perhaps even three or four…

Right now, there is simply just so, so, (SO) much whizzing round my mind. Multiple, multiple tabs open that often sends my brain in to overdrive. I actually started to write this blog post at precisely 1.45 am (!) – instead of divulging in gentle slumber and taking advantage of the fact my little one was (finally) snoring contentedly, I decided then would be an opportune time to start writing a blog post and plan workshop ideas…

So many crafts, so little time. I have to say though, I’m not complaining – I do actually much prefer having a lot on. I am not someone who thrives on boredom – I need projects, plans and a purpose to get going! I like deadlines, pressure and things to be doing.  Right, here goes – to give you just a taste of what is going on inside my (too full) mind… 

So obviously my primary role is to be a mother, and a wife, and (try and) find time for a social life… We have just moved house, so there are rooms to be decorated, boxes still to be unpacked, chores to be done, dogs to be walked (although The Husband is a star for this one!), Freddie’s weaning ideas, our dinner to be cooked, eaten… I’ve started a new part time role, working from home – it’s great and of course helps to keep the bills paid before The Crafty Lass takes over the world… I have crochet to be done, sewing projects on the go, product ideas being designed (!), commissions to be made, various new crafts I would like to try and taste. 

Obviously within all of that – the main thing is getting the new ‘craft space’ up and running and those (very exciting) workshops planned. I need to practice, cost, time, prepare. I need to think about how everything will be laid out, and when this will all happen… And sometimes I might relax and sleep…

 

I recently have a new sewing machine, which doesn’t help with the brain activity – as that in itself is like a dream come true. My old one served me well – it had gone through college, uni, various house projects over the years. I went to get it serviced – and the answer was a big fat crafty NO – it was time to give up the ghost, and send it into haberdashery heaven. I was sad, but being realistic and honest – wahey! – A NEW MACHINE. Without sounding old and past it – wow, hasn’t technology changed?? I can now have the machine thread the needle for me?? And a ‘top-loading bobbin’ – basically, no more faffing around with it… it sews neatly, consistently, basically the best thing I could have done was to finally invest in a new one.

Except – I am now obsessed! So many lovely fabrics to turn into projects – and fun accessories for our boy! Dribble bibs being the starting point… love that a simple splash of fun fabric can update even the most basic of babygros! I wanted to buy him lots of different designed bibs – and then I had a lightbulb moment – why not MAKE them. I am The Crafty Lass afterall…! Yes, they will get messy – but he can look cool and I can have fun with it too!!? 

To help with my (ever growing) list of things to do, ideas to be realised and dreams to be achieved, my mum is currently here for a few days. (And, yes, it is simply amazing having her here!) In reality – what I could have done this afternoon, is have a (very well deserved) nap?

But no – I made a ‘tag blanket’ for workshop practice, and for little one…

Again, a simple little sewing project – but it has given much joy today… for both me, and Freddie! Fun nautical inspired prints from ‘The Craft Cotton Company’, different coloured and textured ribbons – great fun! 🙂  Keep your eyes peeled for a craft workshop on how to make them for yourself, coming soon… 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Business, Crafty Kids, General Craft, The Crafty Lass does...

The Crafty Lass… aims to live The Dream…

It’s June. JUNE.

I’m sure I start every blog post on a comment about time, or very British – the weather, but I seriously do not understand where time goes…

Our little one is approaching 8 months. For those good at maths, that’s two thirds of a whole year, (what??!!) which to me is literally, crazy… time flies when you’re having fun!

Well, my blog posts have certainly been bare, and my Facebook feeds empty – but I have literally been having ‘too much fun’… Well, I have been busy anyway… We have moved house. Which I can tell you, is no mean feat with the compious amounts of furniture and rubbish stuff we own to move, a dog, a baby… (note: we could NOT have done the house move without our wonderful parents physical help on the day… I know they will read this, and very important for the acknowledgement! We made such a great team!!)

 

The Crafty Lass – despite being on a slight back burner due to concentrating on the move, and mainly on our forever growing and developing little man and being on maternity leave – is never far from my thoughts. In fact, at the minute, it feels like it is all I think about. I hinted in my last post, 6 weeks ago, that there are ‘big plans’, and I sort of wondered whether to even say anything back then, let alone now… if you admit out loud your deepest thoughts, your dreams, and plans that are coming to fruition – you are vulnerable, but – you are honest. This house move, was for our family. But, it was also majorly for me, The Crafty Lass. 

 

Now, don’t get me wrong – our new home, is a very long term, family home in the beautiful British countryside – but it has the added benefit of a (majorly-exciting-all-consuming-any-spare-thoughts) OUTBUILDING. Which, is currently in the process of being converted to be able to run said workshops from it… The Crafty Lass, used to be mobile – and still will be – however, it will have a new stable base, a lynch pin, a HOME.

 

Things will take time, things will need to be planned, bought, delivered, practiced – but The Crafty Lass will be expanding its workshops offerings. There is the new house to make a home too, and of course (!) there are various ‘The Crafty Lass’ projects to complete there too. There are blinds to be made, walls to be painted and murals to be designed. There is only one of ‘me’ (thank goodness I am sure ‘The Husband’ thinks…) and my brain is on design and Pinterest overdrive with ideas and ‘vision’ for spaces and the future.

 

I will, of course, keep you informed of anything majorly exciting in regards to workshops… but I hope you will join me on this new journey and adventure of turning our outbuilding into the new The Crafty Lass HQ. And of course, once this seriously starts to get real… I will be singing from the rooftops that I am holding workshops from here, and then I will need your help! Like, Share… Attend?

 

With the most recent happenings in our broken world, nothing speaks stronger to me than – do it. If you want something to happen, just do it – if you can. But, life is far, far too short to hold back. The last eight months with little man, and the changes that have occurred in that short time… I wonder where we, and the world will be in another 8 months time. I am a big believer in fate, and the minute I walked into this house, I just knew. I had to stop myself from crying in front of the estate agent (stiff upper lip and all that…) apart from imagining where our Christmas tree would go (sure fire we need to get this house moment) I could see fabric, passion, sewing, happiness, creativity, the future…

 

So, without being a preacher – if you want something don’t let anyone, or yourself (!) hold you back. Go out, do it, live the dream. I’m not quite there yet, but the day I have people here for a workshop, and they leave creative, inspired and happy… I’ve won. I’ve lived the dream. And, now, the next stage is to MAKE IT HAPPEN. Make, Create, Inspire.

 

What is your dream? Are you actively pursuing it? How does it effect your life? I’d love to hear. xx

 

Enjoy!

Categories: Business, General Craft, House & Home, Workshops

The Crafty Lass reports into new ‘Boss’!

I have had many a different role in my career to date… From envelope stuffing and data entry on oil drilling (random I know!) to pot washer and waitressing… shop assistant, accounts, chocolate forecasting… from working in womenswear fashion buying and merchandising, to number crunching on predicting foodie sales for a national supermarket, guest demonstrating on shopping TV and most recently as a Craft Buyer – and importantly, realising my actual long term career dream – and setting up my own craft workshops business – ‘The Crafty Lass’.

I wouldn’t perhaps class ‘motherhood’ as a job – but I would certainly class it as a role – and work! I have (strangely or not) always loved working (born on a Saturday – “Saturday’s child works hard for a living”?) and it is a novelty to me being on maternity leave. It isn’t really a year long holiday – but it does sometimes feel that way (!) – it is definitely play dates, new things to see, learn, try and do – and plenty of tea and cake. I don’t have an Easter four day ‘weekend’ off from ‘work’ – but I do have a lovely four days together as a family. I am simply – loving – this new stage in our life – the good, and the bad! What I am losing in sleep – I am gaining in daily new adventures and discoveries.

However, I am often coming up with new business ideas and directions for The Crafty Lass once this holiday Maternity leave is over – and with some exciting plans on the horizon – it also got me thinking, just for a bit of fun – if being a ‘Parent’ was advertised as a ‘job’ what would the description say? And… would I apply? I’m sure I would…

 

Job Title:

  • Carer, Chef, Cleaner, Nurse, Chauffeur, Event Planner, Photographer, Teacher, Stylist and Entertainer.

(referred to herewith as ‘The Parent’)

 

Reports to:

  • Child

(referred to herewith as ‘The Boss’)

 

Hours:

  • Full-Time Long Term Contract. Please note you will be required to be on call 24 hours a day, and available at very short notice.

 

Description and Responsibilities:

  • Primary role of The Parent is to ensure The Boss is ‘happy’ by any means necessary.
  • Target of ‘happiness’ measured by a distinct lack of ‘grouchiness’.
  • You must be able to work out what The Boss is saying and requiring, often via ‘instinct’. This cannot be taught, but it will be something you ‘just know’.

Please note sometimes you may not ‘just know’ – so you will need to be inventive, ask everyone you know questions, be prepared to search Google umpteen times and try various ideas and activities.

  • In addition to generally caring, changing and feeding – happiness is often achieved by (but is strictly not limited to) cuddles, playing with toys, singing, jigging, pulling funny faces, repetitively saying ‘boo!’ and dancing around like a crazy person.

Please note that within each 24 hr period, how the overall happiness target is achieved will need to adjust and will often dramatically change. What The Boss may love today – may not work tomorrow – so you will need to show adaptability and ability to think on your feet whatever the circumstances.

  • You will need to demonstrate a high ability to multi-task and must be able to accept – and be prepared for a change of plans at a moment’s notice.
  • Must be able to determine and structure when it is The Boss’ ‘Nap’ and ‘Bed’ Time.

To achieve this, you must be potentially willing to:

  • Gently rock The Boss from side to side continuously, for what feels like hours, no matter tired you are, or how big and heavy they become.
  • Read the same bed time story from yesterday (and the day before) as if you’ve never read it before. With different and varying character voices.
  • Sing the same song over and over (and over).

Please note –  that song will be stuck in your head for days.

  • On occasion, go for a walk or drive, for no reason other than to induce sleep.

You must:

  • NEVER run out of batteries of The Boss’ toy that sings sleep inducing lullabies.
  • NEVER lose The Boss’ favourite toy and/or ‘comforter’.
  • Be able to always locate said toy and/or ‘comforter’ at ‘Nap’ and ‘Bed’ Time.

Please note: if The Boss ever ‘fights’ sleep – please ignore these demands and continue as above. If required – ‘Nap’ and ‘Bed’ Time will often lead to a general ‘happiness’ achievement across a 24 hr period – for both The Parent and The Boss. (see ‘Breaks’ in Benefits and Pay below.)

  • Must wash, dress and style The Boss, and be prepared to accept that they will have more outfits than you, and ultimately – look (a lot) cooler than yourself.
  • You must be willing to get excited about seemingly mundane things like cardboard boxes – especially when they reject a new toy that came within said ‘cardboard box’.
  • You must be willing and able to organise, pack and carry around a hundred and one items with you every day to cover anything and everything The Boss may require.

 

Notes for the successful candidate:

– You must be able to ‘function’ within the role at all times – despite having to complete various other tasks in life and being on call 24/7 (see ‘Hours’ above.)

– You will need to cope with changes in acceptable conversation topics. You will likely no longer talk about anything other than The Boss. You must also be willing to discuss anything and everything at any given moment – nothing is out of bounds.

For example: topics such as ‘poo colour’, ‘poo consistency’ and ‘poo amount’ are acceptable across the dinner table discussions.

– You will more than likely require an upgrade to an almost indefinite storage capacity for your photographic device to cope with the high amounts of photos taken of The Boss.

Please note you are likely to often share a lot of The Boss photos with the world – perhaps via social media. Other people may love this and others will get bored, but please continue to share at whatever level you feel is appropriate in The Parent role.

– You may need to adjust your own sleeping patterns – sleep when The Boss sleeps if required.

– You will have a budget – however you do need to be prepared to make considerable purchases to undertake the role.

Please note – just when you think you have bought everything you need, The Boss may undertake a ‘growth spurt’ and require a completely new wardrobe, overnight.

Please also note a lot of what you purchase may not actually be necessary, liked or required. See note on ‘cardboard box’ above.

 

Please also note no formal training will be included with the role and it does NOT include a manual.

 

Benefits and Pay:

  • Breaks: You are entitled to daily breaks however you will need to be flexible on this. Your breaks usually need to fit around the (sometimes non-existent) ’Nap’ and ‘Bed’ Time (see notes above).

Please note you will have to be prepared to drink cold cups of tea if necessary.

  • Holidays: you are entitled some holidays. Requests for such will need to be considered on a case by case basis – however, you will still be required to be on call (see ‘Hours’ above).
  • Promotions: When you are ready you may report to more than one of ‘The Boss’.
  • Pay: You won’t be on any numerical remuneration. However, you will get paid in unlimited unconditional love, smiles and giggles.

 

This job description is not exhaustive, but it is exhausting. We understand that this is a highly challenging role that will require a patient and loving candidate to fulfil. However, it promises – above all – to be extremely rewarding and heart meltingly brilliant.

In fact – it guarantees to be the best job you will have ever done and will ever do.

Categories: Business, General Craft

The Crafty Lass does… Learning to Crochet!

Driving through the rolling green hills of the British countryside, beautiful unspoilt views, an exciting morning of crafting ahead – no matter the worries on your mind – you can’t help but allow a sudden and overwhelming sense of calm.

This, is how I felt last Saturday. I was driving up to TOFT in Dunchurch, Warwickshire – a lovely alpaca farm with a learn-to-crochet workshop space, cafe and all manner of lovely-must-be-bought things at the shop.

I’ve been able to knit from a fairly young age – nothing too exciting – just the basic ‘knit’ and ‘pearl’ stitches. I have never followed a pattern, and I have always only made scarves, as simple as you can get – cast on X amount of stitches and basically just keep going until either your creation is complete, or the ball of yarn runs out (and I do still freak out slightly when I have to change to a new one!) However, crochet is just not something I had ever experienced. I owned a lovely little crocheted toy called ‘Dolly’ as a child (it was my comforter) and carried it with me EVERYWHERE. There are a few family ‘horror’ stories of temporarily losing Dolly in the park or not having her before sleep – it was apparently a serious and would need to be urgently rectified issue! I also own a lovely crochet blanket that my Aunt made for me before I was even born… I still use it now in the winter and so really, with lovely associations of this craft – why I hadn’t ever tried to crochet before now is beyond me.

I saw ‘TOFT‘ at a recent craft trade show, and was so enchanted by their ‘Edward’s Menagerie‘ range, designed by Kerry Lord – a hugely adorable and characterful selection of crocheted toy animal kits. At the time, as much as I could recognise that they were beautiful – I didn’t feel the need to learn how to do it and to make a toy. Now that I am expecting a baby – that is as good as excuse as any to get crafting one of these lovely creations!

TOFT do offer the kits for sale directly off their website, and there are a good selection of helpful video tutorials to get you going – but, as a complete novice – I knew I would need more than a little hand holding to walk and talk me through how to get it to not look like a lumpy fluffy mess! Luckily, they offer workshops on site too – hence my scenic drive to their beautiful location.

I have to say, I am almost slightly (ok, lets admit it, very) jealous of the stunning crafting area. Rustic farm-esque buildings, large, light areas just ready for teaching in – containing lots of like minded crochet wannabees all there to either stock up and buy the beautiful yarns on offer, or to learn, or to just sit and while away the time in the little cafe serving decent coffee and scrummy cakes. I. Must. Work. Very. Hard. And. Save. Lots. To. Have. A. The. Crafty. Lass. Farm. It is certainly going on the big life ambition bucket list.

I was even lucky enough to be there on a day that a tiny little new-born alpaca entered the world. Awwww. 😀

Anyway, back to the crocheting… We all chose the colour of our yarn, took our places and were ready to begin. I chose a fairly dark-ish grey tone and I was making ‘Bridget The Elephant‘. I was warned by our tutor Emma, that darker colours could be slightly more difficult to work with (just as harder to see the defined stitches) and I confidently and naively, definitely wanting that specific colour said – ‘don’t worry, I will be fine’. Ha! Famous last words hey?? It wasn’t that bad – but I certainly can confirm she was right.

It was a small group, which was lovely to have almost 1-1 tuition at stages, and Emma was very thorough and patient. At times, when I thought I had lost the plot – counting, forgetting which stitch I was on, recounting, ripping it up and starting again – but she patiently went through the same questions and answers again and again. ‘Is it here I put the needle?’, ‘Is that 2 stitches in this part’, ‘have I done 10 or 12 now?’. So thank you, Emma. There was a sudden lightbulb ‘AHA!’ moment when suddenly everything clicked into place and then, once I had eventually got it, and understood what on earth I was doing – I got going in to an almost magical trance like status – wanting to just carry on crocheting for as long as I possibly could. I even moved on to the side, and carried on while the next group had come along started. However, as time eventually does, it disappeared – and I had to down tools and be on with my day. I started to frantically plan in the car on the way home – when could I next do some crochet? Like an addict – I would need to get my next ‘fix’ in somehow – I think learning a new skill has that effect on you. I know how to do this – ‘look at me, I can make something from nothing!’ feeling. Plus, as an added bonus – I just love the fact the end product will end up being given to my little boy. I wonder if Bridget The Elephant will be the ‘new Dolly’ of his life.

So far, in the time I have managed to sit down and continue to crochet – I have made two legs, and an ear – just another 2 legs, another ear, the body and tail to go. Then, to stuff, sew together, add some eyes and et voila – one toy!

The problem is, once it is made – what do I do then? Now what will I make?? Well, the beauty with that – is now I know HOW to do it – there are patterns a plenty. Both at TOFT, but also from everywhere else – homeware, clothes… but in reality – I think I want to make some more of the Edward’s Menageries. Bridget will need some friends! I will need to make a whole zoo of animals!

If you are looking to try something different, or are a seasoned crocheter and want to just try something new – I would highly recommend a day out to visit TOFT. Either to attend the workshops, or just admire the beautiful scenery and scoff a cake or two!!

However, a word of warning – crochet can get addictive!

 

 

Categories: Crafty Kids, General Craft, Places to Go & Things to See, The Crafty Lass does..., Workshops

The Crafty Lass does… Needle Felting workshops!

A very happy and crafty Easter to you!

The last couple of weeks have been full of Easter crafts for The Crafty Lass – especially at the John Lewis and Waitrose head offices with their Craft Club – where I spent a couple of evenings running Introduction to Needle Felting workshops – making some decorative Easter eggs!

A very therapeutic and pretty-simple-when-you-know-how craft – slowly building up layers of 100% wool fleece in a whole myriad of colours, needle felting onto polystyrene egg shapes. We had marbling effects, little flowers, hearts, initials, spots, stripes – we even had a flamingo!! Put simply – just some great evenings of fun, laughter and crafting!

I was hoping for lots of lovely photos to go alongside this blog post (and I do have some!) – but through the wonders of technology (or lack of it, and failing miserably, and user error) – I managed to delete ALL the photos of the Waitrose workshop …That also meant spending approximately an hour of my supposedly lazy Easter Sunday morning trying to fathom how to restore them – and failing. I’ve had to give it up as a bad job, and accept that they are gone. Silver lining – it is a darn good excuse to just eat more chocolate…. not that you need it on Easter Sunday!

Either way, IT issues aside – we had a great time – one quote of the John Lewis evening:

“I have had a horrible day today… but now I am fine”!

After felting their eggs – some people planned to add ribbons to hang them up as pretty decorations, some to simply add to their Easter tables, and some to add to their desk at work to make them smile! 🙂

A successful set of Easter workshops complete for this Crafty Lass. What Easter crafts have you been getting up to?

Don’t forget – if you’d like The Crafty Lass to run a workshop with your team, or at an event – why not get in touch! 🙂

Categories: Easter, Workshops

The Emma Bridgewater Factory

IMAG0483Yesterday was a bit of a ‘road trip’! One of my closest and dearest friends had her birthday recently – and as she is also very creative, and we mentioned AGES ago about doing something like pottery making, or decorating – my gift to her was to visit the brilliant, and iconic Emma Bridgewater factory in Stoke-on-Trent. We were booked in for both a factory tour to see the makers and creators in all their skillful glory… and then to go and decorate our very own pieces in their studio. Exciting!

It was a horrible drive up – the weather was typically Britishly grey, rainy, horrid visibility – but when we pulled up at the factory the clouds were on the turn – with blue skies and glorious sunshine just around the corner. A sign that our day was about to be on the up!

Despite the horrid journey, we did arrive quite a bit earlier than planned. But – this actually was a genius move – plenty more time to spend in the factory shop! Winning.

 

Although marked as ‘Seconds’ you sometimes struggled to work out exactly why it was just that – and ‘Seconds’ – the odd mark here and there that perhaps was ‘out of spec’ but nothing that didn’t stop each piece certainly being a delightful piece of exquisitely handmade piece of pottery here at the very factory in Stoke. Bargains galore – I really did have to reign in my desire and the true definition between ‘want’ and ‘need’… Beautiful mugs normally £19.95 – instead… £11.90 for two anyone?? A true sign of the high quality standards that the factory obviously strives towards.

IMAG0488

They are very proud of the fact they are in Stoke – and, that everything is made on site – and so they should be! They are one of the largest employers in the area – around 185 people – and it is just so exciting to see such an industry still in good old Great Britain.

IMAG0486

 

Although I knew they were made in Stoke, and yes perhaps hand decorated – I had no idea, that Every. Single. Piece. is TOTALLY handmade. Hand moulded, hand finished, hand checked, hand well – everything – from beginning to end – each mug, bowl, tureen is completely hand created. And, due to that – on the finishing at least, one will never be exactly the same as the next. Each very talented painter – will of course, have to keep to a certain spec, but it will always be their own. Our delightful factory tour guide ‘Julie’ explained that some people that collect Emma Bridgewater pottery – will ONLY collect certain artists pieces. What a compliment! You may be thinking – but how do they know!? Well, underneath each item, the artists leave their little ‘mark’ – usually their initials, and in the romantic eyes – it gives credence to the artist – which, of course it does – but, also it is a part of the quality control system – but either way it certainly shows it was hand created by a person, and not a machine!

 

IMAG0492Next we headed over the cafe for some well earned (ok, not really – but well desired) tea and scrumptious-moist-really-not-needed carrot cake. What a place! With (as expected!) everything served on in house wares – a now famous ‘polka-dot design’ adorned Aga in the middle, the walls covered with quirky posters and shelf upon shelf of mugs, plates… Just lovely! A fun, relaxed environment akin to the branding and designs of the Bridgewater pottery.IMAG0502

 

We didn’t actually have long, so we wolfed down our treats – and headed on over to the decorating studio.

 

We knew we were doing this – but it wasn’t until we were actually inside that we thought about a) what we wanted to decorate and b) what we wanted to decorate it with! Blank pieces started from as little as £6.00 and luckily there were a wide selection of stamps and paint colours – so it wasn’t long before we were inspired and raring to go!

Those girls in the factory are really so talented – they make it look ‘easy’… I had grand viIMAG0490sions of all sorts of complicated designs – but in the end settled for some lovely and very ‘The Crafty Lass’ hearts and stars in a repeat pattern around the edges of the iconic Bridgewater mug – in green and pink too, of course.

I love those mugs – we were bought the also iconic ‘Mr & Mrs’ mugs when we got married – and although they have a special meaning of course – they are such lovely mugs to drink from. Heavy, but still actually useable. Thick and solid, but still somehow delicate. It’s crazy – but my morning cuppa of Yorkshire tea, always tastes better in that mug than any other.

IMAG0495

Anyway – back to the decorating – we soon learnt that the paint dries very quickly, and that’s quite handy – as if you make a mistake, you can sandpaper it back off! We were fortunate that the scheduled groups after us – weren’t so large, and so with plenty of space – we managed to hang around longer than the normal allocated time. We were so absorbed in our new found love of pottery painting – we hung around in the studio for 2.5 hours…! And due to that – not only did I complete two IMAG0500mugs – one for myself, and one for The Husband but also a ‘Crafty Lass’ inspired matching plate with my now well used ‘Make. Create. Inspire.’ “catchphrase”! I have delightful and rose-tinted visions of my morning tea and toast with them to literally inspire me onwards in my The Crafty Lass days. The only deadline that curtailed us short of moving in and staying there all day and night and decorating pretty much everything – was that the cafe stopped serving lunch at 3.30pm… so we managed to put the paintbrushes down, pack-up, pay and get over there for some more delicious food. (A pesto, mozzarella and tomato toastie and a Ham, Cheese and Piccalilli bloomer – both with salad and plenty of homemade coleslaw incase you were wondering. Delicious!)

The final pieces need to be glazed, fired, cooled – and so they will be sent on to us in just a few weeks time. I cannot wait for the knock on the door the day that parcel arrives!!!

 

A final mooch around the shop to buy more items that I probably don’t need, but feel that my kitchen is greatly improved by – before back in the car, and off home. A long day – but happy, content and I actually feel like we had a therapeutic, creative and world-away from the day to day stuff – just, put simply – a truly lovely day trip out with my dear friend.

I left feeling inspired. Emma Bridgewater started the company simply because she couldn’t find the right present for her mum. Spotted a gap in the market – and et voila! They now produce 1.2 million pieces of pottery every year.
If you hadn’t already guessed by my above review – I would highly recommend a visit here to anyone. So, if you are ever Stoke way, or fancy a bit of a road trip – head on up there! Your bank balance won’t thank me for the recommendation, but your soul and kitchen certainly will.

IMAG0499IMAG0493IMAG0497

 

Categories: Birthday, Crafty Kids, General Craft, House & Home, Places to Go & Things to See

John Lewis and Waitrose Head Office – Fabric Wreath Workshops!

IMAG0219LasIMAG0168t Wednesday and Thursday evening I had the pleasure of holding craft workshops with the John Lewis Partnership Craft Club to make some lovely festive fabric Christmas wreaths!

Starting on Wednesday at the Waitrose Head Office in Bracknell, where 19 of us were not only making our fabric wreaths – we were singing along to some festive carols and music, there were mince pies, Cadbury’s roses… it certainly felt like Christmas!

With so many of us, and all nattering away, tearing up the fabric, and methodically and therapeutically knotting onto our wreath bases – at times it felt like we were in some sort of factory production line! 😉

The event was even filmed for the Waitrose Advent Calendar (a daily internal video highlighting what partners at Waitrose have been up to!) and, I have been lucky enough to be allowed to also use the video in this blog post. Check out here how we got on!

 

Thursday evening, I was at the John Lewis Head Office at London Victoria – where there were 8 of us making wreaths – and I actually also made mine tonight too! 🙂

It always amazes me, that each person starts out with very similar fabric selections – but the range and array of the results – are all so different and individual! We had ‘Italian flag’ wreaths where they blocked out colours, we had pastels only, very ‘natural’ holly-style looking wreaths, all stripes, all plain – amazing! Have a look through the photos below for all the different versions! 🙂

I had a really important moment over the last two days – with the magical mood, festive music, and lots of people enjoying themselves…it felt like – this is it! I am really doing it – The Crafty Lass workshops are really happening. Of course, I have done other workshops pre-these, but perhaps it was just the festive atmosphere, lot of smiley and happy faces – it just felt very special and I can’t wait for 2016 and all the craft workshops of the future!

If you would like a The Crafty Lass workshop in your place of work (or at home, or in a local venue!) please do get in touch!

 

Categories: Christmas, Workshops

Christmas Wreath Workshops!

IMAG0064What a festive, and almost magical weekend of Christmas fabric wreaths making!

Saturday truly started the Christmas season for me – holding craft workshops at the brilliant Claydon Christmas Tree Farm. Until earlier this year, I hadn’t ever heard of this place – despite living in the local area for a few years now! However, I am so glad I now know… Absolutely stunning Christmas trees (British grown) – all very lush, and such variety! Real reindeer – who live on the farm all year round, and are part of the family there! There is a beautiful Christmas decorations shop full of every Christmassy thing you could imagine, a lovely little cafe with delightful bakes, cakes, teas/coffees… Santa himself is even due to visit there soon! Coming up in the next few weeks – I will be there at the following times for FREE Christmas craft ‘drop-in’ sessions…

 

Saturday 5th December 12-2pm – ‘Origami Stars’ and ‘Christmas Card’ making!IMAG0084

Sunday 6th December 12-2pm – ‘Reindeer Christmas Crackers’!

Saturday 12th December 12-2pm – ‘3D Paper Christmas Tree’ and ‘Christmas Card’ making!

Sunday 13th December 12-2pm –  ‘Reindeer Christmas Crackers’!

 

The workshops were so much fun! Everyone had a choice of fabric colours – and it never fails to amaze me that you give people the same fabrics, and yet their wreaths still always turn out different!

Some people had brought along little decorations to add into their designs – like dried pinecones, little ceramic toadstools, fake berries… just lovely to see the inspiring ideas!

It was cold, boy was it cold in the big beautiful barn – but we had plenty of tea, mince pies and festive spirit to keep us warm!

 

Sunday, it was the turn of the Brackley Christmas Craft and Food Fair at Brackley Town Football Club. The cold, rain and almost gale like conditions at time seemed to deter some of the punters – but we still had a steady turn out especially in the morning – and I always think at these kind of things – of course you want hundreds of people and lots of sales – but it is also about meeting like minded people – and was lovely to speak to all the other stall holders. I even picked up a few little pressies for Christmas myself! We were making wreaths on our stall (I had a lovely helper Elf with me on Sunday!) and I was also selling make your own wreaths kits – with the fabric, frames, baubles for people to take away and make their lovely wreath at home! I am looking forward to seeing the photos of their finished results!

 

Hopefully see you soon at Claydon Christmas Tree Farm!

Categories: Christmas, Workshops

Facebook
Facebook
Pin!
Pin!
Instagram
SOCIALICON