Tag : mummy
Tag : mummy
The Crafty Lass… who’s that? Who is she? Oh yes, I remember now – that’s ME. I had almost forgotten.
I was asked in a consultant doctor’s appointment the other day what my job was – seeing as we had only just met and he needed to establish my general day to day ‘activity levels’ this seemed like a sensible question – but without pausing for breath he then followed up with “…Mum?”
Now, seeing as I had an 8-week-old baby with me, this seemed like a sensible presumption. Presumption! My first initial (internal) reaction was – ‘No! I am not JUST a mum.’ But then I bit back at myself and thought ‘Actually, I AM at the minute ‘just’ a Mum.’ And that is a great thing indeed! There is nothing wrong with being ‘just’ a mum. However, that isn’t my JOB title as he was actually asking. I told him I ran my own business, explained about the studio, teaching… I am pretty sure he didn’t actually care want or need to know these details – he wanted to fix a health issue, not learn craft skills! – but I felt like I needed to ‘justify’ myself somehow. I wasn’t annoyed at WHAT he had said – I was more just annoyed that he had automatically presumed anything about me from a 20 second prior introduction. A very stereotypical presumption of a mid-30’s woman and my life.
With that in mind – I am very much enjoying taking some ‘time out’ of my normally hectic crafty world – getting to know our new baby, his quirks, these early days fly fast. However, being honest: my mind is already ready to return to crafty thoughts. Now don’t get me wrong – life is STILL hectic! There is absolutely never a dull moment in our household, there are a million and one things to be done, as with most busy modern day family lives. There is a super intelligent (but often challenging) toddler to stimulate and placate and enjoy. There is a baby who is smiling and trying to laugh and is starting to react to this world around him. There is a dog to be played with, fed, walked. There are the chores. House stuff. The LIFE stuff. But – I suppose understandably – I am still also craving the craft world. But, with what time? I can’t have it both ways… or can I? Projects and ideas and workshops. To re-establish my true identity as BOTH a mum AND ‘The Crafty Lass’. ME.
It’s a funny thing maternity leave – a constant battle between wanting to spend as much time as possible with your baby and new family unit whilst also trying not to feel guilty for wanting to get back to your ‘normal’ life – and all whilst juggling and muddling through the baby brain. A real head fog that has certainly descended into my life in recent weeks and months!
I think the main thing I need to accept is – that I am always too hard on myself. My boss (e.g. me) drives a hard bargain. I expect to be able to achieve everything and some.
I forget that I haven’t just been ‘off’ doing ‘nothing’ – I have grown a whole person. I gave birth to said human. I am now sustaining said human with milk that I am somehow (the human body is amazing) producing. I have battled and overcome Sepsis straight after giving birth. (Yes, for those that didn’t see that on social media – that was a pretty scary time…). I am trying to be a good mum. Trying to be a good wife. Trying to be a good friend. Trying to remember The Crafty Lass. I am trying to muddle through – I am trying. And, being completely honest at times that is very hard! To balance it ALL! Life can be hard. I have always been very honest that what you see on social media isn’t always (totally) what you get: I deliberately choose what I want to put out into the world – and for me, having a positive ‘feed’ is a great reminder that no matter what the daily struggles you face are, there are good days – GREAT days – and so on bad days – tomorrow is another day. (I just sometimes need to remember this.)
I also forget that when I had Freddie and I was on maternity leave the first time around: when he slept – I worked. Sometimes I slept too… “sleep when they sleep”. But, more often than not – I was crafting, planning, moving house and studio, organising, working. Now – when Freddie sleeps, or is at nursery I either NEED to also sleep or I am looking after little Rupert and trying to just… function. TWO kiddiwinks is a TOTAL game changer. When would I have time to do things?! How can I ever get back to fully working?
Well, the fog is slowly starting to clear, time somehow is balancing out and I am discovering that I CAN do things – we are nearly 9 weeks into this new life dynamic, and the brain cogs are starting to turn. I attended the Craft Cotton Co Bloggers event a few weeks ago (I am a guest blogger for them and now have super inspired ideas in the pipeline, I just need to action them!) The Pinterest App has been open. I have checked my emails. I have had enquiries on Christmas workshops. I am putting some ideas into action (watch this space…) and importantly, I am starting to remember what it’s like, I am starting to be Ready with a capital R.
My maternity leave ‘officially’ ends in January 2020, but I am being flexible… who knows what opportunities are around the corner? I have some ‘keep in touch’ days to start dipping my toe into the crafty water with across the next few months. And, it is a good job my brain is starting to get in gear as I have a very exciting and BIG event to be ready for! Go big, or go home? I might as well start with featuring as an ‘Expert’ at Kirstie Allsopp’s The Handmade Festival at Hampton Court Palace in a two weeks’! It’s only teaching 100 people at a time…
But, I am Ready. I am excited. I am Ready to be The Crafty Lass, AND a Mum too. I can do this, I CAN do this, I CAN DO THIS! The fog will clear… (crosses fingers and toes.)
Hereendith my self-motivational blog post. Hope to see you there!
How is it May? MIDDLE of 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
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.
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
So, blogging used to be a thing.
In fact – I should start that sentence again. It used to be THE thing.
This business started out as a blog, (and I quote) with the aim as…
” a design, craft and things to be inspired by website and blog – but the long term plan is to sell graphic design prints, greeting cards, and ultimately hold creative ‘Craft Workshops’ on how to make lots of lovely things! So, watch this space – exciting times ahead!”
And – to quote from my first ever blog post:
“The aim of this blog is to post inspirational thoughts, design, craft, pictures. To look at seasonal ideas, things I am thinking about, doing, dreaming of… Long term, I would love it to be more than just dreaming and minus the 9-5 day job.”
At the end of March 2018, it was 3 years ago that I made these announcements. I announced to the social media world, my friends and family that I had quit my job to start a blog called ‘The Crafty Lass’. And so here we are…
I am certainly minus the 9-5: it is great being self employed – you get to choose what 18 hours a day you work!
With holding workshops on evening and weekends, making commissions, paperwork, accounts, PR, marketing (you get the idea) in the week… And, we have gained a sleepless 19 month old along this crafty journey too! There is certainly no concept of ‘time’. I quite often ask The Husband what day it is – when it is clearly Saturday as we sit and watch the F1 ‘quali’ and/or the footie scores come in (sporty household!) or, forget that it is ‘Monday’ tomorrow (no Sunday night blues here…)
Anyway, ironically, this ONE blog post has so far taken 3 days to get to this point!*
*Edit. I now started this over ONE MONTH ago (!)
There were ’21’ blog posts in March 2015. There were ‘0’ in March 2018.
So… TIME. What’s that?
In a huge contrast to the earlier blog posts – where I knew what I needed to achieve in the day – like write a blog post, perhaps a mooch into town, meet Mrs XYZ for a coffee, have a meander around Waitrose whilst trying to figure out how I was going to sort out this ‘craft business malarkey’. Ironically all that mooching and planning, plus a dog and the aforementioned 19 month old, means I now have NO TIME AT ALL. Well, no spare time anyway. Things have escalated slightly… There is a to do list as long as my arm – from work out how to make a realistic ranunculus paper flower, to (just!) do a ‘stock take’, update GDPR regulations on my website, work on those (several) press and event commissions, work out where my car keys are, just where is the missing yellow stacking cup for little man, what are we going to have for dinner… No meandering around Waitrose aimlessly now.
I don’t see my friends, I rarely see The Husband – let alone a ‘proper’ social life. (The Little Crafty Man has more of a social life than me, that is for sure!) I can just about arrange to have a date every week with the online Tesco delivery man…
This isn’t a ‘oh, woah is me, poor Paula’ post. This is just a genuine honest view that self employment – although amazing… my gosh it is busy wearing all those hats! And, that for anyone that is close to me, and actually bothering to read this – I am sorry if I have gone wayward in responding to texts, to calls – I do care!
Since those early blog posts 3 years ago, I am surely – living the dream? Well, a HUGE part of me is. My life has gone in directions I never knew possible, and the small (and big!) things I ultimately wanted to achieve – are happening. The dynamic of the business has changed. I miss blogging – but surely it is better be so busy going that you have no time to blog about what you are doing!
I am discovering that dreams change. They adapt, they get BIGGER!
In the past few months, I have wanted to blog about the exciting things we have been up to – but as you may have guessed, I have had no time to do this… so to wrap up everything in a neat summary:
We have featured in several local and national press articles: Prima Magazine, The Women’s Institute national magazine – WI Life, Mother & Baby, on the Telegraph website to name a few… National Press? Tick!
We have featured as a craft tutor at The Kirstie Allsopp’s Handmade Fair at Ragley Hall, Warwickshire – teaching workshops to lots of lovely crafters… Big ambition achieved there. Tick!
And, as part of this – I was commissioned to make the ‘Super Theatre Main Stage’ display – 132 handmade paper flowers flowers, approximately over 2,500 petals (it took around 47 hours of flower making…) Never imagined this, but – hey, pretty exciting!
Oh, and actually met, had a conversation with (and my flowers were complimented by) Kirstie Allsopp. HUGE unexpected – Tick! #fan #triedtoremaincalm #failed
I am working on product designs with several companies… Tick!
Last night we hosted a ‘charity’ craft night – with all proceeds going to the Alzheimer’s Society – we were knitting Twiddlemuffs! What are they? Check out one of our previous blog posts (yes, I actually managed to post something on this!) BBC Radio Northampton were in attendance to film and record the event – and this will shortly appear on their social media and on the radio!
I am working with the WI on several exciting crafty developments…
I have become a ‘judge’ for a local flower festival… Really fun, and great to be a part of…
I have 3 photoshoots booked for press in the next 3 months…
I have been approached to ‘speak’ at various local events and teach crafts to various groups…
I have set up a new ‘career’ workshop called CLICHE (Crafty Lass Inspirational Career Help & Education) to help other people who want to just quit their 9-5 and take the self employment plunge…
BIG NEWS – if I didn’t have enough to be thinking about – I am writing TWO (why not?) books…
Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick!
It is all just happening… the cogs are turning, daily developments. It is exciting, it is KNACKERING!
With these time heavy developments I am slowly learning that there does need to be a balance to all of this – I cannot function on 200% level without a stop. Especially when Little Man still rarely sleeps all night…
And so, there will be a break (hoorah!) in the Summer. August is OFF – to allow NO workshops and LOTS more mooching. But…
Knowing what I am like – I categorically CANNOT guarantee I won’t ‘work’ in that time ‘off’ – I actually already have lots of lovely things craft related planned in – as I am already thinking that would be a perfect time to make all my ‘Christmas’ demos! Yes – I cannot wait for The Crafty Lass Christmas in August!
However, it will be a nice to do: to just ‘sit’ and ‘craft’ (if little person will let me…) and make things at my own leisure… as we also have some VERY exciting news for later this Autumn, Winter and in 2019 – so, we need to get ready for that! (Watch this space!) August will be some down time, a moment to stop – reflect – sleep – have some well needed family time. Oh, and to make festive sparkly things!!!!!!
But, thank you – if you’ve got this far… for your own time, your support, your bookings. The Crafty Lass is going from strength to strength and I couldn’t have done it without you!
Right… back to my to do list! But remember – Don’t quit your day dream…
Firstly, thank you for all your love and well wishes, our beautiful bubba arrived over three weeks ago now, and we are doing remarkably well. But… THREE WEEKS??!
It already feels that our new little boss has been here forever. But it also feels like HOW have we ALREADY got to 3 weeks since he was welcomed in to the world? How is he nearly one month old?
Everyone tells you it goes fast, well ain’t that the truth… It’s gone, in the blink of an eye. Crazy times, before we know it he will be treating the house as a hotel and asking to borrow the car!
I am trying to just take it all in, the days and nights merging into one constant stream of feeding, sleeping, nappy changing, repeating… He is changing already too, each day bringing something new – his eyelashes being that little bit longer, his eyes that little bit brighter and open longer. It is an amazing and fascinating journey. Mummy meltdown moment today as he suddenly no longer fits into his first babygros! Eek!
I recently asked the question when does the ‘staring and crying because I can’t believe he is here and so amazing stage’ stop? I’ve come to the conclusion I don’t think it does! Yes, there is no doubt an element of hormone induced rose tinted glasses in this – but, in a few weeks we will see those ‘it’s just wind’ grimaces merge in to a real smile, we’ve got crawling, walking, talking… Milestones that will bring such joy and excitement. Lots to learn and discover together. There are the other important milestones too – like being able to sleep longer than four hours in a row, to be able to have a conversation with The Husband that doesn’t revolve around shades of poo colour or to be able to pee/shower sans baby again! Time will inevitably bring all of this and more, but for now I wouldn’t rush this for the world. A delicate balancing act of wanting him to grow up – big, strong, and experience life – in contrast for him to stay this warm, tiny, beautiful bundle of joy that is most content snuggled into mummy’s arms.
In terms of business and The Crafty Lass, my brain hasn’t COMPLETELY switched off. I’m not going to lie, watching back to back episodes of ‘First Dates’ with a little bundle of cuteness for company is pretty lovely – but there are lots of ideas for the future! The 3am Pinterest sessions aren’t for nothing! But, right now I am certainly enjoying mastering some new craft skills in the job role of ‘Mummy’. My new boss is a bit hardcore – very demanding. He expects me to be wide awake at all hours and be completely intuitive and understand his needs without him saying anything (weirdly, as a new mummy, you just do, don’t you – how does that sixth sense kick in?!) Anyway, I am becoming a dab hand at the art and craft of changing the nappy of a flailing screaming octopus at two in the morning. I am enjoying the creative aspect of choosing just which cute little outfit can we put him in to today and have certainly upped the multi tasking stakes – I am now able to feed him, eat my own breakfast, watch TV AND apply my makeup AT THE SAME TIME. Certainly personal skills to add to the CV! My cuppa tea now goes cold, the bags under my eyes are getting bigger, our washing machine is wondering what on earth has happened with its new daily usage routine and I’m having to learn to eat one handed, but I just wouldn’t change it for the world.
In terms of projects made throughout pregnancy, the clouds and stars mobile now proudly hanging in the nursery, does prove to be a source of fascination for bubba at changing time. The yet to be used crochet elephants are here ready and waiting for their little buddy-to-be, to be chewed, sorry – played with. The cloud Pom Pom rug, is sadly yet to be finished BUT it will get done…
I will try and update this blog as often as I can with REAL craft updates and new projects, but in the meantime you may just be treated to a few personal indulgences of new mum and baby updates, as for now, in reality that is all I am currently thinking, dreaming, focusing on. Our own little new mum and baby bubble, where he is simply the best thing I have ever made.