Tag : craft
Tag : craft
People presume as I am 'The Crafty Lass', I can do it ALL. Everything - ALL the crafty things. Well... I can't!
I cannot sew a zip. Although I can easily sew on a button, I do not know how to sew a button hole. I think there is a setting on my beloved sewing machine to even do it for me - but I wouldn't know, because I haven't even tried!
I have made 'baby bibs' before, and lots and lots of bunting, tried some fairly complicated makes before like lined Christmas stockings - but just nothing that required a 'pattern'. So, it's a confidence thing. People often ask and presume I can and do make my own clothes - the honest I answer is I would LOVE to - but I don't, as I haven't got a clue where to start! Even the word 'pattern' - eeek, isn't it complicated?! Well, I suppose if I've never tried... how would I know?
Inspired by some of the amazingly talented Craft Cotton Co bloggers I work with and of course, The Great British Sewing Bee, I wanted to give something a go. It would need to be super simple, yet test me!
I decided to make something for 'bump'. As apparently... there is a baby there! I cannot quite get my head around that; that there will be another beautiful little person arriving in the next couple of months. I did the same with Freddie. Yes, I know I am expecting - and yes, I am getting bigger everyday (and it isn't just biscuits) and, yes I know there will be an actual baby, but it is sometimes weirdly hard to connect the two!
So, what to make? I sought advice and suggestions from my fellow bloggers - and from lots of ideas - "baby shorts" and the word "easy" stood out. A few commented that OF COURSE I could do it - so with confidence at a small high on the dressmaking front, I thought would give it a go...
I had a rare morning free whilst little man was at nursery - and although I could have easily done another 101 things like chores, various work related things, or sleep, I thought I would give the shorts a go while it was fresh in my mind. I hunted down a basic pattern - which in hindsight (ha, now knowledgeable?!) I don't think was particularly good as the back is the same size as the front and surely you need it to be slightly larger to, erm - contain that cute little bottom and nappy too?! Anyway - I forged on and decided I would be learning no matter how they turned out.
I had picked out some cute little circus print fabric from Craft Cotton Co from Hobbycraft and actually, although I needed 2 x 'emergency' calls to Bernadette (fellow Craft Cotton Co Blogger) ... I DID IT! And, I really, really enjoyed myself. It WAS easy - IF and only if, you know how. They may not be 'perfect' in that I am sure the inner seams would be better and stronger if I owned and used an overlocker - and I am sure that Patrick from The Great British Sewing Bee would have his tape measure out checking the two leg lengths - and, the print pattern doesn't quite match up on the legs, but - they 'work'! It is a lovely little print design and - with a baby, I am pretty sure he will wear them for 2 seconds flat before requiring a change of clothes anyway!!!
Most importantly, I gave it a go. I did enjoy myself. They do actually look like shorts! I learnt. I learnt how to read a (albeit basic!) pattern. I learnt how to construct a garment together. And, how to insert elastic!
Buoyed by my new found skills, I decided to look for another new challenge. I delved into The Bramble Patch, Weedon and all their lovely fabrics - and inspired: bought some new Makower, Moda, Northcott and Camelot fabric designs (as I needed more fabric, right?) and decided to get stuck into a baby sun hat! This even included something called 'interfacing'!? As our little one is due at the start of Summer - and I had been looking round to buy a cute little mini sun hat anyway, I thought... why not MAKE one!
Once I worked out that the pattern was simpler than it sounded, I was away! I had constructed the whole thing in around 3-4 hours and although I have since realised the hat is for a 6-12 month old baby, and he won't be able to wear it this Summer anyway (!), but again - I have learnt! And, he'll be able to wear it NEXT summer when he is by then, 1. Not that I am wishing time away... And to be honest, I am sure that he COULD wear it this year - he just might look abit daft with it being too big - but it would at least protect his little delicate skin!
So, I am not sure what the next dressmaking challenge will be - but, I am rather partial to a cute little baby dungaree... I just need to find the right pattern and potentially it will include buttonholes so that will be another new skill learnt! Not sure I will be applying for The Great British Sewing Bee yet, but I can just continue to learn, one step at a time. And, I am not sure I will have time for much sewing from June onwards - I think I may be quite baby busy by then!
Sometimes, I get an idea in my head – and that’s it, the idea HAS to be done. It doesn’t matter whether that is going to take me all day and all night (and then all day and all night again) to complete whatever hair brained challenge I have set myself, or whether it is something with a long-term plan – it will go on ‘the list’.
The husband does laugh, as he is aiming to be ‘paperless’ – using apps to write lists, schedule and remember tasks, whereas I HAVE to have my notebook. And it is currently an Anthropologie notebook that says ‘the best is yet to come’ and, my bright, happiness bringing, lime green Lamy fountain pen. So specific! However, writing everything down in that notebook that needs to be done that day, week, month, year – it makes me focus! I cross off what has been achieved and I remember what I need to be doing next. Heaven forbid if it ever got lost!
My ‘crazy’ crafty ideas often surface at about 2am when up resettling our little man whilst trying to stay awake in the bit once he is asleep, but I cannot leave the room. The trouble is, I then can’t stop thinking about it – so I drift off again at 3am still wondering about things like ‘but how would I make that?’ or ‘I wonder if Hobbycraft sell X, Y, and Z’ – ‘maybe I could get there tomorrow somehow…’
That is precisely what happened with World Book Day.
A simple poster spotted at nursery – a reminder to come as your favourite book character on Thursday 7th March - World Book Day!
Well, challenge accepted.
First I was thinking, what do we already have that could be worn and fit in to one of his many favourite book themes? Or, could maybe be slightly tweaked? Then, out of nowhere came the idea that I could try and replicate The Very Hungry Caterpillar Butterfly… Well, once it was in my head – there was no going back. I had set myself my own high standard challenge and I HAD to make it. I started to think about all the colourful fabrics we had in the studio and how I could incorporate lots of prints and patterns to try and match the beautiful and eclectic drawings in the Eric Carle iconic children’s book.
In the morning, I measured our little man to see if I could then make the wings to his ‘full height’, like the illustrations. I raided the remnants bin, and started to cut the shapes out. Effectively, trying to 'draw' with fabric.
It soon became apparent I had set myself quite a task to cut and applique on all the different shapes, colours and patterns, but I was enjoying myself… and isn’t that kind of the point with craft?!
As the day and then evening wore on, the first wing began to take shape – and I could see how big it was going to be! I started to wonder if the wings really could be worn by a toddler… As much as they would match his height – maybe they would be just a pain for him to carry round? (That’s if I could even get him to put them on!)
Evening 1 = 1 wing completed. One to go…
The beauty of the amazing artwork in The Very Hungry Caterpillar – is they are so unique, and the two sides of the butterfly don’t match! So, I could be creative with what fabrics to pick and choose for each side.
Evening 2 = 2nd wing. Done!
Once the wings were now initially made, the next challenge was how to make them into something that could actually be worn. I thought about ribbons to pull around the shoulders. But, they would likely slip off the shoulders. So then, maybe attaching them to an outfit could work? But as I wanted them to be worn by either toddler, or likely adult, it needed to be something flexible.
The next day, off to Hobbycraft we went... elastic! – I suddenly thought about how fairy wings are assembled – and decided I would make a central panel to attach the wings to, and some elastic loops to swiftly enable the wings to be taken on and off as and when pleased!
I also found some Vilene fabric interfacing. Normally used for things like curtain pelmets – but it was perfect! This could be attached to the fabric wings to make them stiff, and essentially make the design stick out like actual wings! I also picked up some really bright blue felt – lovely and soft, and a nice plain contrast to the rather crazy ‘front’, to put on the back behind this new interfacing.
Evening 3. I lay out the fabric wings on to the interfacing and backing felt, then sewed around the edge and then basically just trimmed to the shapes required!
Evening 4. The final evening (also note, the night before World Book Day so it had to get finished come hell or high water!) I made a small and simple rectangular panel out of some coordinating fabric, with elastic loops tucked inside to allow the arms to go through. I also used some more of the interfacing inside to make this panel nice and strong – before simply sewing the edges of the wings on to it. DONE!
It really isn’t my ‘finest’ of sewing – most of the fabrics have ‘raw’ edges, and there are places where it could be improved – but does it really matter? It hopefully looks like the book, it will hopefully bring little man some joy - and importantly, I really did enjoy making them!
I then did honestly proceed to wear them round the house for about an hour – for no reason other than because I could! Within this hour, I also tried to work out what I could do if he wouldn’t wear the wings. I mean, in all honesty – no secret about it, I would love to wear them for nursery drop off – but it would actually mean he didn’t have a costume! And, I am not sure the point of all of this, is for the Mummy and Daddy's to be dressed up, but the kiddiwinks not!!!
Aha – well, I found his green trousers, and we definitely have a green stripey top. Perfect for a little caterpillar. AND THEN – I remembered (and then very handily FOUND!) that we were given a Very Hungry Caterpillar hand knitted hat for when he was a baby. Would it fit?! Unlikely but I could give it a go if needed in the morning…
World Book Day.
I asked little man to try on the wings – he looked at me like I was crazy but did let me put them on him. What he actually wanted to do was take them off and look at all the colours! He looked so lovely with these huge colourful prints emerging from his beautiful tiny body. But, within 5 minutes – they were off. I put them on, and he laughed – so, if it made him smile – that I suppose was worth it in all reality – who cares who wore them. He was happy.
Into the green 'outfit' for him, and by some crazy knitted-stretchy miracle, the found Very Hungry Caterpillar baby hat did indeed (just!) fit!
So, we rocked up to nursery with him as a caterpillar, and me as the butterfly. It kind of worked! #teamwork
I left the wings at nursery for staff to use for the day if they wanted, and apparently lots of the children liked all the colours and textures on them! 🙂
So, that is it for this year, World Book Day – done! It has been crossed off 'the list'.
The trouble is, I have now set a precedent. What will I make next year?!
In the meantime, at the point of collecting him from his day at nursery, the World Book Day costume sign had come down – and a new one put up in it’s place.
'Dress as a Disney character – Friday 15th March!'
I had best get my thinking cap on…
I’m tired. But, it’s January – who isn’t tired in January?
The days are dark, it’s (seriously) cold, I think we are all just trying to make it through, right? Trying to stick to New Year’s resolutions, trying to be ‘good’. In fact; who thought it would be a good idea to make resolutions to in some way change your life, when it is hard going anyway with the dreary days, dark evenings and the knowledge the party season is over?! And, that’s before we even think about the mess our country’s politics is in!
For the first time in years, this year I didn’t actually make any resolutions. I’ve had a bit of a declutter, and I have a bit of a list going on of what I would like to achieve, and how I would like this year to pan out – but nothing to STOP doing, which is a refreshing change! Resolutions are good – if you have the will power and true desire to do whatever it is you are doing. But all too often, very easy to just ‘give up’ and then feel weak and berate yourself as a ‘failure’ when, actually, you are just trying to get on in life, in January of all months! Be kind to yourself.
With that in mind – one thing I think perhaps I – and most of us to be honest – should do, is exactly that as a ‘New Year’s’ resolution: to not be so hard on ourselves. Be kind.
I, in particular set myself high standards. I get these ideas of things that need to be done and have to be achieved – but I need to stop and remind myself that actually no-one else has said that has to happen. I have set the targets, I have set the goal posts – so if it doesn’t work out exactly as I imagined, then maybe I can move the goal posts and actually stop and reflect not on what HASN’T been achieved, but what HAS.
That’s quite hard for me to write – as I quite LIKE getting lots done, I LOVE being almost too busy – but actually, sometimes I do (and you if you are reading this knowing you do too!) need to stop. Watch more TV. Read a magazine. Paint my nails. Time out. And do NOT feel guilty for it either! Time on yourself is time well spent. And, referring back to the first sentence of this blog post. I’m TIRED. And that is partly my own fault!
I am also tired, because I have an all too often sleep thief toddler, who is in the ‘terrible’ twos (they aren’t that terrible ALL the time – sometimes the tantrums can be slightly amusing… although often in hindsight, not at the time while you try to placate a screaming, anger filled little person.) Who knew it needed to be THAT specific spoon, and actually it IS the end of the world if their biscuit breaks in half. I understand that to them it actually is devastating… but sometimes to take a step back and look at the bigger picture to see that while it is a challenge to resolve, this is NORMAL toddler behaviour – learning about what they want, they don’t want and that things aren’t always their own way. Obviously, you tell them it’ll be OK, but they learn that sometimes Mummy cannot just ‘fix’ the biscuit.
I am tired, because in addition to the aforementioned beautiful, challenging, amazing bundle of energy that is our little man – life is happening. The house. The dog. The (attempt at a) social life. Running a business. (Or, trying to!) And, I am growing a whole other human being.
Into the second trimester now, in fact literally approaching half way as I write (time slow down, please?!) I am feeling MUCH better. Christmas was crazy – with all our amazingly busy workshops and events, and actual Christmas to do in addition to morning (all day?) sickness and feeling like a walking zombie for 3 months wasn’t ideal – but, I got through it. Things went well. Classes were booked, people attended and from what I can see – lots of happy crafters!
There, point one of congratulating myself! Well done.
I am winding down now though, I need to start…
When I first found out I was pregnant, of course – we were delighted. But, I did: Panic. What is the business going to do?! How will it sustain over the next year, or two, or five?!
The answer to the above questions are of course, it will be OK. Just like a toddler realises they can still eat the biscuit, just in two halves – it will be OK!
I think in the background of this worry lies the buzz word(s) ‘Imposter Syndrome’. I have heard a lot about this recently and actually, I think we all do feel like this from time to time… Where you question if you are good enough, question if you are essentially a ‘fraud’! Obviously, I am not a fraud in the true sense of the matter – but there is certainly self-doubt at times.
A lot of self-doubt can come from comparison. Believing that what you see on social media is what you get. You’ve (and I’ve) got to remember it is not what you get. It isn’t always real. Or, it IS real – but it isn’t just the photos that are filtered, it is the content too! You certainly don’t see photos on The Crafty Lass Instagram of our little man having a meltdown as he lost ‘his’ leaf on a walk and demanding to sit IN a puddle. Or the days I cannot be bothered to craft – and sit and watch First Dates instead! Obviously, I and anyone else that ‘filters’ their content doesn’t LIE – they just post relevant and appropriate things. I want my feed to be full of colour, and fun and making and creating. As a business, I need to reflect positivity. Not piles of washing and grumps!
I am currently reading Cath Kidston’s ‘COMING UP ROSES – The Story of Growing a Business’ – and for anyone building a business, or a brand – or actually just loves Cath Kidston – I would highly recommend. Very inspiring! There is a quote on the back of the book that really hit a nerve with me:
“When you’re self-taught you always worry that you will be found out.”
That is IT!
I (think I) am more than qualified to be ‘The Crafty Lass’… however, I need to ensure the business grows, expands, onwards and upwards. What if I can’t do that?
After a very successful year, with so many amazing things achieved – the timing of this pregnancy actually couldn’t be better. Although I will need to stop whilst things are on a high – it will be chance to reflect, plan, decide how the business will move forwards, and in what direction.
The husband came up with a brilliant and timely appropriate analogy – that the car was now designed, built and running. And, once the baby arrives, I won’t need to de-ice the car – the engine is still ticking over. And, he is right – the business won’t die a death. People won’t forget – mainly because I won’t let them! And, the business is flexible enough to adapt to the new (likely even more sleep deprived) life we will be boldly treading in. I quit my 9-5 to allow for a flexible life, and I need to ensure I grab that opportunity with both hands and not let it go – as I am forever grateful that although where The Crafty Lass is now has come about due to lots and lots of hours and hard work – and it didn’t happen overnight – but, I am grateful that it can and does work. And, work around family.
People keep asking me about when I will be ‘stopping’. And the answer is I don’t know – and I can’t really see me fully stopping! When you run your own business, you are never truly ‘off duty’. I mean, I literally am The Crafty Lass. OF COURSE I WILL stop! I won’t be writing posts in the labour ward… although saying that, I was induced with our little man and to distract myself from the process, I was crocheting most of the time in hospital! But, seriously – I will stop when the new bundle of joy arrives for a period of time – length of such to be decided there and then, and focus on them and us and little man – they are only very little for such a short time, but I am sure the craftiness will dip in and out of life too.
I do have some big plans for maternity leave – I have already started on a book (well two actually, but one is more of a general idea with a contents page and hundreds of thoughts and images in my brain, and the other is an actual full in the writing stages) and it would be great to make that the project I really get up and running with in the early how have we made a person months. Or, to be kind to myself – if that doesn’t happen as it is more important to sleep, then that’s OK too. All in good time, as the vision and desire to achieve won’t go away.
So, that’s it – ignore the Imposter Syndrome. You ARE good enough. You CAN do whatever you set your mind to, but just do what you can. Stop to take time out for yourself. You are doing GREAT – it is January don’t forget – and we are all in this together! Stop to eat the biscuits – even if they are broken.
The Crafty Lass currently features in the BOOTS Health and Beauty magazine for January/February 2019 – in an article all about conquering our fears. What better way to start the New Year with a blog post featuring a little bit more about mine, and what resolutions and steps I took to change this…
Phobias: they are illogical, irrational, frustrating and very real.
It doesn’t matter whether you are frightened of spiders, the dark… or in my case: needles (not the crafty type, thankfully) – it is certainly a really overwhelming, all-consuming emotion that you cannot and will not do the thing you need to face. Well, sometimes you have to – but under much protest!
Admitting you have a phobia to other people, well it did for me anyway – it made me feel weak. I am quite a positive and ‘strong’ person – why would I be frightened of something?
Well… there was an ‘incident’ when I was younger that seemed to be the trigger… What an irony that a craft kit likely caused my phobia! Who knows, the mind is a funny thing sometimes. A large tapestry needle went into my thumb. It was Boxing Day, I got up early as I was so excited to play with my new crafty items from Santa! But, I didn’t quite understand that I shouldn’t be using it unsupervised, and not in the way I was using it… Much to my parents horror when they awoke to my tears! But – I was ok, it wasn’t as bad an injury as perhaps I considered at the time at a young, tender age – was that enough to cause all this stress in my adult life?
When it came to needles, I wasn’t ‘in control’ – I knew my reaction would be to pull away, to scream – in one particular incident I sadly and instinctively hit out at the nurse, as my gut reaction was to get it and her away from me. All that panic and movement ironically would be MORE dangerous and painful and stressful – than if I just let them get on with their job! Sorry Miss Nurse from my school days as a teenager…
Phobias can cause crying, breathing difficulties, panic attacks – and avoidance of the said thing… but sometimes fears need to be faced.
I decided enough was enough. Something needed to give. I didn’t need tests and jabs all the time, but what about holidays, and children? And what better way to face my fear than by helping others.
I had always wanted to ‘give blood’. I was healthy, I had no reason to ‘not’ – except the sitting there giving blood part. Involving needles.
I decided to just sign up – and go for it. If everyone else there could, why couldn’t I? And, if I could sit there for 20 minutes or so with a needle pumping blood out of my arm – surely, I could have inoculations if needed, or blood tests if required – without all the panic and crying and desperation beforehand?
I felt panicky in the build-up that week – I questioned if I was losing my mind. I questioned if I could even go through with it. But there was a big difference in donating blood to a ‘normal’ blood test or inoculation. I was in control. I didn’t HAVE to do this, and even stranger – I WANTED to do this.
And, I did it.
I unbelievably DID IT! I couldn’t believe that I, Paula Milner, had donated blood! And, as a bonus, I got free squash and chocolate biscuits too!
And, I was right – as a result, after donating several more times and from taking back more control – my phobia HAS calmed down. Yes, I don’t LOVE needles now (who does?) I certainly won’t be first in the queue for a tattoo, and sometimes it is still hard to have tests – but you can get a blood test out of me within a few minutes, with only often a few tears afterwards rather than the huge panic before… and actually, usually tears as I did it, I am proud I have just let the nurse do their job without panic! Currently pregnant with all the tests required, feeling like a human pin cushion is becoming regularly common place, so this lack of fear is becoming albeit useful and time saving!
Giving blood is something that doesn’t take long, and is such a needed and worthwhile and needed cause. You’re not allowed to donate whilst pregnant, or have visited certain countries within a certain time frame – so I have had to have a little break on donating since our honeymoon and little man – but it will be on my New Year’s resolution list for 2020!
What phobias do you have? Have you ever attempted to ‘overcome’ them? Would you like to change how you feel? Sometimes, I think you sadly can’t always change how you feel no matter how hard you try – but perhaps, hopefully there might be a way.
It has certainly been that… what an adventure it has been!
2nd October 2017 – we sold our first ever ticket for The Crafty Lass workshops at the Old Grain Store workshop studio… part of me feels like it was a lot LOT longer ago, and the other part says where has that year gone?!
The moment that someone bought that ticket, the first ticket, took a leap of faith – booked, paid, wanted to come. What a heart soar, what a joyous moment to treasure.
However – you know what? I feel like that for every. single. booking. Every. Single. One.
For every crafter that wants to come and visit, for every crafter that brings their friend, that recommends us, that leaves full of tea and biscuits and happy with their makes and creates – it makes me so so happy. Our work is done. Well, actually, as every self employed business person knows, the work is NEVER done!
We are absolutely looking forward to Christmas this year – we have a much wider range of workshops on offer and are ever so grateful to the people who have reserved their spaces. Most classes are amazingly already sold out – which for the 1st October, is some pretty organised crafters! We are actually hosting our first Christmas workshop as a private booking this coming Sunday 7th October for an old dear friend and his family… travelling all the way from Bristol!
The countdown to Christmas is ON!
I love Christmas. I am pretty sure I have said this in every single The Crafty Lass blog post – it always manages to sneak its way in somewhere to my writing…
And, with that love for the festive side of our year – what better way to count down to the big day than with a crafty ADVENTure and a craft advent calendar?
The Crafty Lass® ADVENTure has been in design stages for approximately two years – so when the opportunity came up to collaborate with such a renowned craft company as Craft Buddy – it was an opportunity not to be missed! The inspiration for the contents of the calendar have come from everything you might need to personalise your Christmas – little details to make gifts, make your home festive, your Christmas table, present wrapping, even decorate your Christmas clothes – and generally get very Christmassy! The main focus includes your ‘classic’ Christmas craft items, but also some beautiful and unusual items to make things extra special. And, one of the most magical and important qualities of the calendar is that it has zero plastic packaging inside!
We are also delighted to be able to announce that the calendar will be for sale on Hochanda!
Sky 673, Freeview 85, Freesat 817 & Online
Wednesday 31st October 12noon and 4pm
If you had asked me this time last year – would I be working on my own product designs? And, would I be going back on to Shopping TV to sell said products? I wouldn’t have thought you were mad… but I would be delighted, and I am.
With the calendar – we hope that you are inspired. We hope that it allows you some little time to get creative each day. Or, maybe you might like to combine items, and save some of them up for bigger crafty makes! Who knows, you can do whatever you like!
We look forward to seeing all the makes and creates… Where will the ADVENTure take you?
For some, this is purely just the long, grey transition from the warm and bright Summer days into our dreary, cold, drab - and of late, very snowy Winters here in the UK.
For, me - it is the 'calm before the storm'... and I actually really love this season. I've talked before on this blog about my love for 'September', as it feels like a fresh start - a new term. Autumn actually officially starts this year on Sunday 23rd September 2018 - much later than I realised! As it already feels like we are there. The leaves are changing. It is starting to feel 'fresh' in the morning. Starbucks are even on with their Pumpkin Spiced Lattes!
Living in the glorious Northamptonshire countryside, and with a little man who loves a daily little jaunt around the village - you can see it. I love watching the leaves change from lush green to vibrant palettes of reds, yellows, russets and orange. You can just feel that Summer is starting to say goodbye for another year.
We are starting to gear up and say hello for our Christmas workshops here at The Crafty Lass - with our first 'private' wreath workshop booking being on October 7th - so just around the corner...! I have even started my Christmas shopping believe it or not... #organised. Working on Christmas 'all year round' pretty much - always planning the following year workshops at any given time - you might think I am bored of all the festivity... nope - I love it. And I hope that, that 'love' and 'passion' for 'the most wonderful time of the year' really shows in our workshops!!
I really love Autumn... as it signifies we are nearly there! It is nearly Christmas. We are allowed to wear big cosy jumpers. And scarves! (I own too many scarves so the cold weather means an excuse to wear them!) We start to eat all the yummy things in life - stews, roasts, crumble, pie. Syrup sponge! Red wine! To be honest, I eat (and drink!) most of these all year round, but somehow Autumn just signifies MORE of these yummy, scrummy things.
That is also why I particularly love 'Advent'. I love the whole excitement and build up to the very 'big day' every year. When I was a child, I would LOVE opening my little advent calendar door. One more chocolate to devour, and one more door down until Christmas Day.
Advent however, is no longer JUST about chocolate. You can get beauty advent calendars. Beer. Cheese! Well, I know what sort of calendar I would want...
You may have seen on our blog, or social media particularly - but The Crafty Lass, in collaboration with Craft Buddy are very excitedly launching a CRAFT advent calendar this year! A little box of craftiness every day to be opened and enjoyed across 24 days... We can shortly reveal exactly how and when and where you will be able to get your hands one! Where will the journey take you? #TheCraftyLassADVENTure
Anyway, this wasn't really meant to go on a tangent to Christmas (but I love it, so it does generally tend to appear often!) there will be plenty of time for that later...
When I joined the WI (this isn't another tangent, this is integral to the whole point of this post!) I hoped to become more involved in the community - I hoped to meet some lovely ladies, and make some new friends. I hoped to learn a few new things... All of this so far as been achieved, and more! There has been lots of lovely food, there has been plenty of tea and cake, chats, social occasions with a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Oh, and the odd WI Life magazine front cover...(!)
This month's meeting was to try something completely new to me: Willow weaving!
I currently have a very large, and beautiful hand crafted willow wreath sat in the studio - and every year I think I MUST do something with this - it is lovely. And, how was it made?! Little did I know, we would get to make our own.
The tuition was held by the engaging and thoroughly knowledgeable Deborah Jones. She explained the hows and whys of the wood, and just how we could create a simple and beautiful wreath design before we were quickly off and giving it a go!
How quickly the wood transforms into a circular and flowing wreath is amazing! The wood bending naturally round into a circular shape - a bit like 'sewing with wood' is certainly how you could describe it. Flowing back and forth, wrapping the wood round and round and round. And the smell, was beautiful! Almost like Christmas 'pine' but more Autumnal and smokey. If that didn't make us feel ready for this beautiful season, I am not sure what would!
I have always admired 'non' Christmas wreaths. Wreaths that go with every season, a new theme and idea every month - but, I had never quite got the full inspiration and ideas (and time?) to do something about it. However, Deborah's class last night really got me thinking.
So, wreath complete, and inspired - off we went on an Autumn 'forage' today with our daily morning walk. Some beautiful fallen leaves, dried cow parsley and grasses. Berries and poppy heads. Things that actually, I wouldn't have maybe given a second glance to - but would have looked lovely all together just simply shoved in a vase! However, they had another purpose... I wanted to create an 'Autumn Wreath' using the newly acquired handmade willow base.
I tripped off to Hobbycraft too for an 'Autumnal' craft hunt (amongst lots of other ideas!) and purchased the 'pink pepperberries' in the display for the final finish - but everything else is simply either from my garden, next door neighbours garden (I did ask!) and some local hedgerows... attached with floristry gold binding wire, hessian twine and a couple of dabs of a hot glue gun for extra 'security'...
It may not last long, it may need 'refreshing' soon - but, that's ok. As, I will soon be planning one with Ivy, and Holly and 'Glitter' and much more 'Christmassy' 'traditional' wreath things... but for now, I have a daily reminder on my front door - it is certainly, and/or very nearly 'Autumn'. And, isn't that a lovely thing.
People keep asking me, what is next?
There are lots of exciting things happening, but the one thing about this journey - it is all about putting yourself out there, and seeing what happens. Saying 'yes' to things perhaps I wouldn't normally do... and also learning when you actually can say 'no'. There IS such a thing as tooooooo busy. So in answer to that question, who knows what is next - anything could happen! You just got to keep going and put yourself out there...
I have always tried to please everyone - and not always myself within that. I always do things for other people, even if it is to the detriment of my own time and happiness... and actually, being self employed, with a busy family life and within that 'managing' a (nearly!) 2 year old MAKES you decisively choose! I would LOVE to do it all... but you just can't.
Although, obviously, being in my nature - I sometimes (often) think it CAN all be achieved. I set myself too high standards and then get annoyed when I 'fail'.
I am often 'plagued' by 'mum guilt' - am I too busy? Am I doing 'enough'? Am I working too hard?! The answer of course to all of these, is - yes. BUT - in reality, he comes first over all else! He is clothed, fed, healthy (most of the time - teething is officially the devil's work) has a fantastic imagination, loves 'self play' and books - and is a happy, normal, cheeky, boundary testing little person who rules our whole world. But, within all of that - I hope that when he is old enough to understand why Mummy (and Daddy!) work ALOT, is firstly - our bills and life need to be paid, but part of it is to make him (and ourselves, of course!) PROUD!
British people don't DO proud. We say thank you for a compliment occasionally, normally with a slight little smile - not really wanting to accept open and honest praise. However, in the recent weeks with so many exciting things happening - I have had to just accept it and take it all in! I have been absolutely overwhelmed with the emails, Instagram messages, Facebook comments, even a lady stopping me in the street to say 'well done' - she is in the WI...
So, for those of you who don't know - as of yesterday I officially graced the cover of the Women's Institute national magazine, WI LIFE. This goes out to just under a quarter of a million members! And, in addition to that, there is an additional 3 page interview inside that includes some glorious photos by Jenny Stewart with the fantastic words by Eleanor Wilson. How she turned my likely nonsensical answers into a coherent and factual account I have no idea, but for that I am grateful. Upon first reading, her words truly made me shed a tear. LOTS of tears! Maybe that emotion was proudness? I am British - I wouldn't know!
With all these exciting things happening, workshops and a gorgeous toddler to capture on 'film' - I am constantly taking photos. ALL THE TIME. The Husband does get 'quite' annoyed. He even refers to me as #InstagramGeneration. #OLD?!
Anyway, the point being I am also CONSTANTLY fighting with my phone for storage space. This sounds like a boring quandary to be writing about - but it had to get sorted and has actually brought about something very interesting indeed.
I don't know about you, but in addition to taking lots of photos, I do often also scroll back through the 'feed' to see all the moments and treasure them! However, maybe only for a month or two - nothing further back than that unless I am desperately seeking a specific moment in time, or a particularly 'special' shot to include with a blog post or Instagram story!
Today - while having a 'I am DONE with this phone, it is UNUSABLE with such little storage space' (due for renewal soon - YAY!) with basically bulk transferring old photos to a back up... I discovered some absolute GEMS of pictures.
These are the studio BEFORE we bought our house! I couldn't believe it! These represent the moment I basically told The Husband come hell or high water we WERE moving here! I had a vision. it was covered in cobwebs, dust, piles of wood and various household paraphernalia - but it would be a STUDIO.
Well, the rest is history as they say... but it was a reminder that we have achieved SO MUCH in 12 months! It was this time last year we were wondering if we would be able to even get Christmas workshops out... NOW we are already majority SOLD OUT on our advertised festive workshops...
Maybe I am, just a little bit, proud.
I am pretty sure that 99% of my blog posts start about how busy I have been. But, it’s true…! That – and/or, I am knackered… And, the year flies by… the featured image is over 15 months ago – what?!
Anyone who tells you that the self-employment route is easy, is LYING! Yes, I am my own boss, yes, I don’t dread Monday’s and yes, I have flexibility to change my day around when required – but – it is never easy.
Today, I woke up to the start of the week – ready for ambition, to get stuff done! I was working by 7am with a cup of tea whilst little man very happily played. And, I even posted to say ‘Today will be fabulous’. End quote.
Got in the car, ready for lots of tasks to be achieved at 9am. Got to Brackley (a 30 minute car journey via a diversion) for the start of tasks being completed… and my little one was violently ill…
I am not really one for ‘change’. I had a plan, and this needed to change dramatically due to the circumstances – E.g. cancel everything and return home. BUT – when it is this sort of situation, instinct kicks in. You don’t think of anything else, other than making sure they are OK and happy, and warm and safe and just not – sick. BUT – if this was about answering to a boss, and circumstances made me call my work to apologise for the change of plans – that would be even more of a stressful situation than it was. And, most people – most women and men too, this is just the norm and reality of life. Kids, you cannot plan for them – and absolutely hats off to anyone that has to balance full time work, with their children. My boss was OK about today’s changes… (:me.)
Coming home, and laying in bed with my child – is not the relaxing situation you would envisage. They wriggle. They kick. He doesn’t talk as much as you would hope – so he cannot tell you if he is tired, hungry, thirsty, upset, just wants a specific item – so I opted for cuddles, cartoons, and the hope he would be a normal happy chappy again soon. Which – he was, and is absolutely fine! Great! But, as much as you are super relieved – it now means the day is gone, and the planned work is not achieved. Instead, it is now 9pm and I am ‘working’ – a glass of red in hand and ‘trying’ to work and ‘relax’ at the same time…
On a completely separate note – today I did manage to achieve something different and out of my ‘comfort zone’ – and entered a local Business Women of the Year competition in the area of Business Communicator. Nothing may come of this – and a panel of judges need to check through this, short list the applicants and then the awards ceremony is later in September. Writing the application was actually quite a shock. It is isn’t often I truly ‘stop’ and look at where the last year has taken me, the business, the different achievements and actually life goals ticked off – I *may* have shed a tear! Anyway, having read the criteria – I feel like I do meet the requirements… but, you never know. It is nice for me to have been even asked to enter! Wish me luck!
Life has generally been quite busy recently and I did originally blog a few weeks and months ago to say August was OFF – but it hasn’t worked out as planned. Now, in reality I am NEVER OFF – even if I have a break, I answer emails and am constantly THINKING about the next steps for the business, but I haven’t even switched off to the level that I anticipated – BUT there is a difference, I am ok with this as everything is very exciting! Products being designed, 1-1 craft workshops being held, awards to enter and plans for Christmas to be put in place!
20th August… I am already in mega Christmas mode. Some very exciting things ahead, I don’t blame myself for getting caught up in everything when I am ‘meant’ to be on holiday… However, the true countdown is on for Thursday of this week! I don’t need to say much more than: #SpaDay.
It. Is. Needed.
I did think I wouldn’t even take my phone, but who am I kidding?!
But – my phone will certainly be switched off for my 50 minute booked back massage… #GoAwayWhoeverYouAre
You might be thinking – it’s August.
You might be thinking – it’s too HOT for Winter?!
You might be thinking – what craft workshops are available at The Crafty Lass for Christmas?!
Well – the dates are HERE! Tickets are not yet live for booking – but it doesn’t mean you can’t get the dates in the diary… Ticket prices, full details and the ability to reserve your space will be available in the next few weeks!
In addition to our existing workshops, these are the NEW workshop dates to added. Other workshops are likely to be updated, and please note these are subject to change. BUT, we have been pretty much been planning Christmas 2018… since January 2018 (!) – to get things into The Crafty Lass calendar is a whole other logistical and admin nightmare completely! BUT you don’t care about that – what are the dates?! And – what are the crafts on offer…?! Well here goes..
Saturday 22nd September – Lampshade Making! (PM) (Christmas or ‘non’ Christmas!)
Sunday 28th October – Decoupage and decorate a ‘Pumpkin’! (End of Half Term: Available for Crafters aged 10+) (AM)
Sunday 4th November – Christmas Cards and Gift Wrap Wood Block Printing (PM)
Sunday 11th November – ONLINE WORKSHOP – Felt Mistletoe Brooch (YES – ONLINE – It does not matter where you live, this will be LIVE via the power of Social Media…) (TBC)
Saturday 17th November – Baby’s First Christmas Wood Block Printing (AM)
Sunday 18th November – Christmas Hessian Sack Wood Block Printing (PM)
Saturday 24th November – Fabric Rag Christmas Wreaths or Fabric Rag Christmas Tinsel (AM)
Sunday 25th November – Evergreen Christmas Wreaths (PM)
Wednesday 28th November – Evergreen Christmas Wreaths (EVE)
Saturday 1st December – Evergreen Christmas Wreaths (AM)
Sunday 2nd December – Fabric Rag Christmas Wreaths or Fabric Rag Christmas Tinsel (AM)
Saturday 8th December – Christmas Napkins and Table Mats Wood Block Printing (AM)
Sunday 9th December – Christmas Tea Towels and Aprons Wood Block Printing (PM)
Tuesday 11th December – Decorate your own Christmas Jumper! (EVE)
Once these final pages are up and live for booking – don’t you worry – you WILL be notified!
Please check back soon for further updates and information.
I don’t like rollercoasters. In fact I hate them!
I am that one that will gladly wait at the finish with the coats and bags.
I just don’t see the point of them! WHY would you allow yourself to be transported through the air by metal and engineering to feel sick and full of adrenaline?! Perhaps for exactly that reason… Strange. The Husband LOVES rollercoasters. And he MADE me go on one once at Alton Towers to show him I was deadly serious how much I hated them. He learnt his lesson and I will never go on one again! Side note – why did I go to Alton Towers if I hate rollercoasters… I actually have NO IDEA. WHAT A WASTE OF MONEY! I did get to see my friends of course, but mainly whilst holding all their stuff…
However, The Crafty Lass is certainly on a rollercoaster right now. But this one I will gladly stay on for the ride. So far it’s been a lovely and pleasant journey – with quite a few more highs than lows. This rollercoaster I am staying firmly ON.
In the last two weeks since my last blog post, we have finally been able to announce several pieces of very exciting news!
Firstly, I am becoming an official tutor at The Women’s Institute college – Denman, in Marcham near Abingdon. There are selected dates now live on their website to book in for 2019 and I will be teaching paper flower making, wood block printing and lampshade making! Denman college is the most beautiful quintessentially British building and I feel honoured to be able to teach there and for the WI. The courses are often residential and so the ‘higher’ price point – isn’t just for me teaching! It includes your accommodation and your (delicious!) food and drink too. A craft retreat – what more could you want?!
Additionally and unexpectedly we have also WON the former ‘Dragon’ Theo Paphitis’ SBS (Small Business Sunday) competition! Well I say ‘unexpectedly’… I had been entering The Crafty Lass ‘on and off’ for about 3 years with a weekly ‘tweet’ pitch so I certainly hoped to win one day – but, it still came as a shock to be selected! So… just what is SBS? And what does that actually mean?! The SBS website explains it probably a lot better than I can, so see all about it HERE should you so wish to know more!
Press wise – on the back of the SBS win, we featured in the local paper: The Banbury Guardian, and on their website. We are also going to have a brief Autumnal ‘crafty mention’ in Mother & Baby magazine in their September issue. And, if you are a WI member – keep your eyes peeled for an exciting feature in the October edition of WI LIFE magazine. This time, not about how to make anything – but all on The Crafty Lass! We also have some guest blog posts coming up featuring on the lovely Craft Cotton Co blog!
Today – was a VERY exciting day. Today, we shared that I have been working on my own The Crafty Lass craft products over the last YEAR! And, it is now all happening in collaboration with the brilliant company – Craft Buddy. The first product will certainly be an ADVENTure… in fact it will be The Crafty Lass ADVENTure!
Yes – that IS a CRAFT ADVENT CALENDAR! If you would like to know about this in regards to this – please visit www.thecraftylass.com/thecraftylassadventure to sign up to our mailing list for the latest news and updates.
All these things have been shared within just the last 2 weeks… and, in addition to this believe it or not, there are also several other projects bubbling away under the surface that I am yet able to reveal… so watch this space!
This rollercoaster isn’t over yet…
Rewind to 4 years ago. I WANTED to go self-employed – but there was no way I could.
Me? Go self employed?
Me, do my own accounts? Submit tax returns? Me, build my own website? Haha. Uhuh. OK. Not me.
I waited a while.
Fast forward to present day. Yes. OK… All that and more.
I never believed I could be self employed. I was scared. I didn’t know how to do everything. I didn’t know how to wear all the hats, and be everything for everyone. BUT – IT IS NOT AS SCARY AS I THOUGHT!
Being made redundant on maternity leave certainly focused the mind as to what I (and we) wanted out of life. I have mentioned before on this blog that I started to look at houses as a maternity leave activity… Each day, I would work out how to leave the house with a (then) 3 month old and a (huge) multitude of items – and go and view ‘properties’. Most of them, I sort of KNEW that they were not right from Day 1. They were just that – ‘properties’ not ‘homes’.
Why did I go and view them then? Well I WANTED to convince myself (and The Husband) that they WERE.
But, they weren’t.
UNTIL – this one came up – and it was a no brainer. If I could have signed the contract on viewing the particulars, I would have done. My dancing from foot to foot whilst the estate agent was there, didn’t really help with the ‘play it cool’ attitude I ‘should’ have had. (In reality, I cried when the estate agent when to ‘check on some paperwork’ whilst we looked around for the 3rd time.) It had a studio opportunity on site, what wasn’t to love? It was scary, but – the right decision.
With this in mind – last weekend, I stepped (even further) outside of my comfort zone. We held our latest workshop – but this time, not craft, but: CLICHE. Crafty Lass Inspirational Career Help and Education. And, the first thing that I mentioned (apart from the standard and ‘yawn’ health and safety, fire safety, personal injury safety, GDPR, safety safety introduction got-to-be-done – that is now the norm) – was to do a LIFE PLAN.
Don’t think about what CAREER you would like, think about what LIFE you would like.
What career you would like is all well and good, but how does that fit in with everything else? Will that career give you personal satisfaction? Will you be able to have breakfast with your little one? Will you be able to do something for YOU – like exercise, or see your besties for a glass of vino, will you be on the road all the time, will you have to travel alot? If you like driving, and you like travel – GREAT! But, that’s the point – it needs to be what works for YOU. What you personally want. You do work to LIVE, not live to work.
Around the time I started to get fed up, and pretty angry, and not a nice person to live with to be honest in my 9-5 – The Husband made me stop and write a LIFE PLAN. Why do I want to leave my job – what are the negatives, just WHY do you want things to change? What is it about the job – is it the hours? The money? The circumstances and location? Or, is it none of those and actually, you aren’t just fed up of office politics – you are ready for the next step.
It was a real turning and focal point in my life as to how I thought, and how I approached what I wanted.
I kept thinking I needed to move from job to job, that the next big exciting opportunity would be ‘it’. But, being honest – it never would. For ME, I NEEDED to go self employed. As although the risks are obviously higher – in regards to income, in regards to working long hours, in regards to being all the different departments on an hourly/daily/weekly basis – I am my own boss. I can do it in whatever order I want. In what time scale I want. And, it is so far – exciting. Those long hours and effort are paying off!
I am super super lucky to have both a financially, and emotionally supportive husband and family – as at times it has been hard and ‘wobbly’ – but just like me, we can all see the greater plan. The ambition. The passion. The focus – and sheer determination that this WILL WORK.
And, I think that’s it in a nutshell. BELIEVE. You need to truly believe that no matter what, it will work. Yes, you need to (MAJORLY) consider finances, legality, is there a gap in the market, branding, your dedication to the ‘brand’ at all times – but, as a note:
My ‘job’ never feels like work. EVER.
I HATE doing my accounts. But, only as I need to dedicate 100% time and focus to it, when I could be doing something MUCH more crafty and fun like making my Christmas craft demos, or responding to an exciting journalist opportunity! OR (and that’s the work life balance ratio I am only just getting a handle on) I could be doing some water play with our little one, or actually going for a well deserved pedicure, but – when the accounts are done, I feel relaxed, super charged – I CAN DO THIS.
Recently, with a big studio turn around and clear-out, I found the original ‘Life Plan’ goals.
And, without sounding ‘smug’ – this blog is not what this is about – this is about showing that you CAN do it too… Anyway, I had achieved 90% of them. And, without going in to particulars – what I would like to share is interestingly, as I am a forward thinker – I didn’t see it as ‘that’s done then’… the plans have grown, and changed. I read it as a new challenge, and that I should actually REDO the Life Plan again. And, visit it regularly if ANY aspect of life isn’t working.
So – write EVERYTHING you would like from life. From the more frivolous things such as go on holiday once a year, to be able to shop in Waitrose, or maybe an Eco and Ethogical ideal – that you would like to buy sustainable clothing, or not use electricity as much. Remember, these aren’t the be all and end all things for everyone – it is what YOU want from every single aspect in life. Maybe you want to just have a 10 minute maximum commute, or to ‘work in the food, or entertainment industry’. Whatever those dreams, whatever those little acorns – oak trees will grow.
But here is the difficult part, pick FIVE. Just five. And focus…
What I think is humbling and reassuring is – EVERY SINGLE business had to start from somewhere. Someone decided to take that plunge. And, what worked for them.
A GREAT example is ‘Jeff Bezos’ – and you ‘may’ have heard of his business: Amazon.
He started in his parents garage; selling books. He wanted to expand. He thought there was a 70% chance the business would fail. He was wrong.
Now, I don’t have the same ambitions as Mr Bezos – I don’t envisage (yet… hey! dreams change!) to being an international company and brand – but it is certainly inspiring to know that it started small, dreamt big, went HUGE (and certainly successful!)
Anyway, CLICHE – yes, holding craft workshops: I am 100% comfortable in. I KNOW how long things take to make, I KNOW what the costs are, the margins – why I am able to make money on what I do. BUT – CLICHE became, and is – a different ball game.
I need to tell, and explain how and what I did. And most importantly – what I have LEARNT.
It was pretty ‘free-flowing’ with the writing of the course content – as it comes naturally to what I ‘do’.
I think, little details to the class made a huge difference (fingers crossed) – every attendee received a personalised motivational (and hand calligraphed (is that a word?!)) card to point them in their own direction. They all had one of the (very exciting!) new, The Crafty Lass notebooks and pencils to use in the workshop.
We initially, at a very early stage of the class, learnt about each and every CLICHE attendee – and what THEY wanted to achieve – and actually, what their greatest fears were of NOT getting there.
We came together as a group of self employed, want to be self employed, on maternity leave, about to quit my job (or, I have actually already quit my job) and about to be retired people – who all had the same purpose: to DREAM BIG.
It was an inspiring group of ladies. I set this class up to try and help, and inspire other people to achieve their own dreams (if I can do it, so can you!) but I left feeling that for myself. To see other people’s ideas and ambitions laid out on the table – openly, honestly, this is who I am. It was motivational in its self and hugely humbling and emotional to have people be that honest.
We went on to discuss the branding, social media, financial, legal, press, marketing, networking aspects of self employment. Along with balancing life, dealing with negativity and the all round support required to establish (and run) your own business.
The time flew by.
I genuinely believe we could have been there all day. I know how long it takes to make a ‘wreath’ or craft up ‘XZY’ exactly – but this, with all it’s discussion points…. took longer than I anticipated. That’s not to say it was a ‘badly planned’ workshop – far from it (I think!), part of the reason I set this up was so that small businesses could support, and interact with each other in a relaxed environment. It just meant after the tea and (triple chocolate shortbread) biscuits – we all needed to have a ‘working’ break. Just as you do when self employed!
Time disappeared. Tea and biscuits were consumed. And, it worked.
Aside from all the thank you emails, Facebook messages, Instagram comments and beautiful pictures. People were actually onwards and upwards inspired…. Yay!
I have set up a ‘CLICHE’ Facebook group for the attendees – so firstly that we could all easily interact with each other, but also support and help if and when needed. In the few short days since we held the class – people have been chucking out stuff from wardrobes to make space for their dream plans, designing logos, setting up social media accounts, and have started to move out of their ‘comfort zones’. Big, thumbs, up.
And, it’s amazing to see everything developing! Already! Please do keep me (and us) informed ladies! 😀
The next CLICHE workshop is on Saturday 22nd September – and please do book your space should you wish to attend to avoid disappointment. As you may have gathered from the above – it is a structured (yet very relaxed) format to discuss through some ideas and learn about what you would like to achieve.
But, I am on with stepping out of my comfort zone again. I am dreaming, and aiming bigger. I really think the CLICHE course content could be across a whole day. With lunch. Guest speakers. Inspire more people.
Dream Big. Good things never came from comfort zones.
And don’t forget… Don’t Quit Your Day Dream!