Tag : hampton-court-palace

The Crafty Lass does… Maternity Leave!

How is it May? MIDDLE of May.

Christmas, Januuuuuuuuuuuuuary.

FebruaryMarchApril. MAY.

And so that’s it, I am on Maternity Leave as of the end of today. The last 36 weeks in particular have been super speedy – part of me feels like I’ve been expecting a baby forever, part of me thinks – how is he nearly here… 

I have been on proper nesting mode for weeks, months now – I get really agitated if things go out of place! That combined with a toddler, a dog, and us timing some pre-baby building works in our home, it has at times become a crazy, cluttered very much a NOT-so-nesting-friendly-space… you can imagine! But, the works we had done were very much worth it, the dust has settled – and now things can try and go back to a semi-Marie-Kondo-style zen zone. (Apart from the toddler ‘stuff’ – how can such a little person create such craziness?!) 

So the house is returning to ‘normality’. The hospital bags are packed. The checklists are getting ticked off. I think everything is ready. Well, as ready as it can be.

Expect one thing.

Me… Am I ready?

In reality – I am not sure you can ever be fully ready. But I do think I am partly still in disbelief that inside my ever expanding belly is a human. An actual person. A tiny, perfect little being that is growing, developing every single day. It is a miracle that I do not take for granted.

I think the disconnect between bump and an actual real baby is completely normal. Well, I felt the same with my first pregnancy – of course I KNEW I was having a BABY – my belly wasn’t JUST biscuits – but the reality still seemed a shock when he arrived kicking and screaming into the world! This time I question, how on earth will I be able to love another human as much as our little man? For all the hard nights of no sleep, of worry when they are poorly, or day to day life struggles – parenting can be incredibly hard, but it is still an utter joy to be cherished. 

I saw this quote on Facebook the other week during World Maternal Mental Health Week – on Amy Davis Yoga – it stuck out to me as it is firstly by one of my all time favourites – Nigella Lawson – and secondly, because it just sums it up nicely…

Talking of ‘social media’ – I recently posted myself that I was feeling ‘wobbly’ as the pregnancy hormones had well and truly hit – and it was a simple thing that I realised with upcoming nursery days, the weekends, a bank holiday and various amazing family help planned in to the diary – that there were only a few days left of just me and little man. Obviously, there isn’t – there will always be times when it is ‘just us’ – but it is the end of era. Things will be different. Good, amazing, incredible different of course, but different all the same. It turns out – I am not alone; my ‘wobbles’ are normal – and I feel reassured that the new amazing, will be just that: amazing. Hard maybe, but it’ll be fine in one way or another!

Being someone who is constantly on the go, always working on several projects, writing lists, continually thinking about The Crafty Lass – it is strange with maternity leave to be firstly told to STOP and second of all listen to that and actually rest. It’s just strange. I’ve generally been well throughout the pregnancy, but as we near the final stages, I am just super tired. I have had a nasty cold too – but a daily conversation in our house is all about being told off for ‘doing too much’. I quite often don’t think I have been doing too much – but often forget that actually just looking after a toddler, reorganising the house, the nesting stuff that continues on and on, life, fitting in all our maternity appointments (we are consultant led and have appointments most weeks in some way or another) and in addition to still finishing final commissions, some crafty projects, press and social media requests, paperwork – it isn’t just ‘nothing’. So, I am now conceding that finally, maybe sometimes a proper sit down with a cup of tea, tv, biscuits, maybe even a cheeky nap is a good thing – while I can…

This blog was never intended to be just self associated ‘heart on sleeve’ writings – so if you’ve got this far – thank you for reading! Selfishly it has, and some recent other blog posts too, been nice to be openly ‘chat’ about what is going on in both the business, but also life. I think with any small business, it is important to be transparent. And, the ethos of The Crafty Lass workshops is about obviously learning new skills, making some beautiful things – but also about social interaction,  meeting like minded people, sort of a target on ‘craft mindfulness’. Some of the conversations that are had in The Old Grain Store – well, what goes in the craft room, stays in the craft room… but, it is often heart warming to know people can chat openly, make new connections, feel comfortable talking about how craft makes them FEEL, and the challenges people are working their way through. I suppose this blog post is an opportunity to be open and honest about myself! Yes, I cannot wait for this new chapter of our lives, but I am partly sad that I won’t be on full The Crafty Lass mode for a while…

But don’t worry, The Crafty Lass isn’t stopping, it is just having a little ‘mini-break’. My husband likened it to a car on a Winter’s day: the engine is still running, the car won’t ice up – the key is in the ignition and you can just decide when to jump in and take it on a new journey… 

On maternity leave there are a certain amount of ‘keep in touch days’ I can be involved in – ’10’ to be precise, and that’s great as it gives me a ‘limit’. A finite amount of days to allocate to ‘work’. We all know that as much as I am looking forward to baby cuddles, all the craziness that comes with ‘learning’ about a new little person and being ‘just’ a mum for a while – if an opportunity comes along, I am likely to want to say ‘yes’ to whatever it is – and maybe I will be able to, maybe actually – I won’t – but I will just need to take everything in to consideration.

There are already some things planned in, some exciting press opportunities that are already completed and ready for publishing, I have my mind thinking on future grand plans like the books I am writing and some new workshop ideas. The next major event I am working towards is the very exciting The Handmade Festival as a Kirstie ‘expert’ teaching ‘Get Creative with Air Dry Clay’ in September at Hampton Court Palace. Such an amazing opportunity and it will be a fantastic few days! Make sure you book your ticket and your workshop spaces before they sell out!  

I have already been asked about Christmas workshops this year and the answer is… ‘I don’t know’! I would like to think, and hope there will be some workshops, but I will have to just see how I feel at that point and how things are going… Maybe not a great business model to not have a real longer term plan – but that is how it is for now and I am lucky to have that flexibility. It is certainly ‘watch this space’…  

If you follow The Crafty Lass Instagram and Facebook pages you will have likely noticed things have ‘slowed’ recently apart from a few crafty projects here and there: things for the baby, things for the home, but also things for our little man – that try and en-capture memories. There will likely be a few more crafty things that pop up from time to time – but get ready for #babyspam! 

So for now, it’s adieu and you will be sure to know when the crafty baby arrives… 

See you ‘soon’, whenever that might be. The car is ready and waiting.

The Crafty Lass x

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

Kirstie Allsopp’s The Handmade Fair

Wow, what an epic day of craftyness, shopping, making, thinking, doing and inspiration!

So, to review the fair – I have my cup of Yorkshire tea in my lovely Emma Bridgewater mug (of course! See later in the post…) and to make sure I don’t miss anything, I am going to try and go through this in a blow-by-blow chronological order… I always knew The Handmade Fair would be a great day out, but I think you aren’t prepared for the sheer number of ideas and things to see and do until you are actually there!

I went full force into booking into pretty much as many different workshops as I could possibly get my hands on. The main ticket included one ‘skills workshop’, one ‘grand make’ and one ‘super theatre’ event… but I additionally booked (on the day) three more workshops – I kind of wish there could have been two of me so I could go to more, but I had to be brutal and pick the ones that really stood out for me. So, here goes:

 

9.30 – The fair opens, with a welcome from Kirstie, great jazz singing and much delight! Then…quick! Book as many workshops with spaces as I can… at only £10 each for around 45 minutes of crafting, often a new skill to be learnt and inspiration to be had I think this is a bargain!

 

IMA9.45 Skills Workshop – Christmas Crackers with Zeena Shah

We started out with lino cutting – picking out our own design, carving it into the lino – and using ink stamps printing on to paper we would use to make the crackers. I wasn’t actually expecting lino printing to be part of this particular workshop – but it was a lovely surprise. I haven’t done it in years and you can get some lovely, quick and fun prints – it has already got me thinking how to incorporate this technique into my own creative workshops – which actually, is kind of the point of this whole fair, right? Getting you thinking in a new way, inspiring you to try new or retry old techniques, and to think how you could use them for yourself! Zeena was great – very clear with what we needed to be doing next – which once we had printed our paper, we rolled up, tied the crackers with some hessian, added a snap and et voila – crackers!

 

11.15 Skills Workshop – Biscuit Icing with Biscuiteers

Not sure about you, but I absolutely LOVE the Biscuiteers designs. Their attention to detail out of icing is just incredible! Take a look at some of their work HERE.

So, when I saw you could go to a workshop on a how to ice with them, it was of course a must! We started out with a beautiful bag and box – containing four delicious butterflies. A great technique demonstration for ‘flood icing’ and creating some fabulous tricks with cocktail sticks to make the icing look like real butterfly wings. Impressive! As we didn’t have access to an oven to dry the icing afterwards, we were just working with the thicker outline style icing which dries alot quicker. It meant we couldn’t try some of the techniques demonstrated – however, it has certainly got me thinking of when can I next have a reason to bake biscuits just to try them out! Perhaps I don’t even need a reason – make them just because I can! We just had some fun piping, getting messy, and admittedly one of the butterflies didn’t make it home… in fact it didn’t make it out of the workshop – they tasted delicious! 😉 The rest were saved for when home and even now I think there is only one left. Art you can eat! Perfect.

 

12.30 Skills Workshop – Wedding Fascinators by HarrietDSC_0278

Starting out with the ‘do’s’ and ‘do-nots’ of birdcage veils – we learnt how to sew the veil in to the ‘correct’ shape (no horn shapes allowed!) Considering it would take Harriet far (far!) more time to create her beautiful fascinators I was surprised to find how quickly we had created something that vaguely did resemble a veil! Then we selected our fascinator base, and sewed our veils into place. Next – and the most fun bit I think – the decoration. There was a lovely selection of buttons, and some ribbons to make into flowers/loops/whatever we wanted really! I didn’t get time to finish this within the allocated slot, but I was allowed to take away the remaining bits and I will certainly be finishing this lovely craft at home. The workshop definitely got me inspired – I plan to make a fascinator for the next wedding invite!

 

Lunchtime! By now, I was certainly ready for a lunch break – and what a great selection of foodie delights. Crepes, posh burgers, pies, ‘pimp my porridge’, fresh smoothies, wood fired pizzas… makes your mouth water! I went for the Soulful Foods truck and their onepot Moroccan Chicken Tagine. I certainly wasn’t disappointed – chunks of chicken, vegetables, apricots and almonds all served with some British spelt and red quinoa! Sounds perhaps very ‘healthy’ but wow, the flavours packed a punch!

 

DSC_02842pm Skills Workshop – Christmas Garlands with Rebecca Moyster, Bon Bon Balloons

This was a riot of colour, bright foil, ribbons, cords, cut out stars, hearts! Rebecca briefly explained what we were going to make, and the majority of the time was dedicated to the actual making part, which was great! We made handmade tinsel, and lovely little festive bunting style garlands. It was a very simple craft – but has got me thinking of ways to incorporate this into my own Christmas tree. Perhaps swapping the foil for fabric, and the cord for hessian for a more natural look. Fabulously festive and fun!

 

4pm Grand Makes – Ric Rac Rose with Jane MeansDSC_0290

Would you believe me if I told you that literally within 3-5 minutes we had created a rose from ric rac ribbon? Well that is exactly what we did – a simple technique that was surprisingly effective. I am thinking to incorporate the one I made into the fascinator from earlier! Jane was so much fun – telling us how to produce a last minute gift and the wrapping all within a few minutes with a speedy envelope technique. Great stuff considering there must have been a hundred people to teach in one make!

 

DSC_02965pm Super Theatre – Kirstie and Emma Bridgewater

The piece de resistance for me, and a great way to finish the fair. I was lucky enough to be sat in the second row, and was a good hour listening to the life and times of Emma Bridgewater. How she set up the company, her full undying love for her Stoke-on-Trent factory, and for buying British.  Some good advice for women in business, some very comical anecdotes of growing the business whilst juggling childcare and life in general. Just lovely and once again, feel inspired – this time to push forward with my pure vision for The Crafty Lass. As Emma said – if you can see it, you’ll get it.

 

 

In between all the making and eating – there were two shopping ‘villages’, an Artisan market place – full of lovely foodie things, a Hobbycraft tent, a Mollie Makes cafe – various other make and do tents – no rest for the crafty!

 

The husband did very well out of the fair too, not only did I get out of his hair for a few days in London, I also purchased some amazing ‘Espresso’ chocolate from Seed and Bean (it was hard to pick which of the many, quite unusual flavours!), an Oatopia Energy Ball made from Raw Cacao and Almonds, AND a delightful ‘Man Cave‘ wooden carved keyring from Betty and Dodge. I had to get some good pressies to make up for the ‘7 days til Handmade Fair’, ‘6 days til Handmade Fair’, ‘5 days…’ ok you get the picture!

All in all, as expected a great – long – day. Top tips for next year: wear comfy shoes! Make sure you take plenty of cash…most places took cards, but a few didn’t. There was an onsite cash machine – but as expected there was a fee – so get organised in advance and nip to the cashpoint before arriving. You certainly will want to book/buy things! And, perhaps consider going on more than one day – to allow you to try/see/make/do more things! I certainly will be going again next year.

Categories: Places to Go & Things to See, Workshops

Kirstie Allsopp – The Handmade Fair!

Anything that involves Kirstie Allsopp and craft – and we are on to a winner…I find her so inspiring! Just seen that she is hosting The Handmade Fair at Hampton Court Palace from 18th-20th September 2015 – and in such an iconic, historic and British venue, what’s not to love! Ticket’s aren’t on sale yet – but you can sign up to their newsletter here to ensure you get first dibs…

Categories: General Craft, Places to Go & Things to See

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