Tag : wi

A wreath is for life, not just for Christmas…

Autumn.

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.

 

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

The Journey

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.

 

Categories: Business, Christmas, General Craft, House & Home, Places to Go & Things to See, Workshops

Life. Got. Busy.

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…

Categories: Business, Charity, Christmas, General Craft, Places to Go & Things to See, Radio

The Crafty Lass visits…The Women’s Institute Centennial Fair!

What a gloriously sunny day yesterday was! Well, it certainly was in the beautiful spa town of Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

I love Yorkshire – I am fortunate to have married a Yorkshire lad, so we do get to visit this beautiful part of our country fairly regularly – but it never ceases to amaze me when we return just how stunning the scenery is – picture perfect rolling green hills, idyllic little villages, the lovely Yorkshire stone buildings.  Just delightful.

I don’t of course need an excuse to visit Harrogate – but, what better reason to than to go and see The Women’s Institute Centennial Fair – 100 years of Women’s Institute history!

With plenty to see and do – demonstrations, talks, book signings, workshops, places to eat – and certainly BUY (the Christmas shopping has begun – and yes, I know it is only September!) I would like to detail all the purchases I made – but certain people who I know read this blog may just be getting something, and I know they would know it was for them! Ha!

Anyway, apart from having a lovely look around lots of lovely stands – I also booked myself in for the ‘Origami Teacup’ workshop with Clare Gage later in the afternoon.

It wasn’t actually what I expected – but not in a bad way, as I am not actually sure what I did expect! However, it was brilliant! Very inspiring – and really got me thinking about what creative skills I, and we all do, have, and how these can cross into new ways of looking/making/doing/trying new things. Clare used the term creative ‘hacking’ – which is just a perfect explanation really. For example knitting – well instead of using ‘normal’ wool – why not giant wool, or tiny needles – or knitting with something entirely different, like wires – or plastic! Thinking outside the box.

We started out with just a few squares of sugar paper, ready to be ‘origamied’ (is that even a word?) into a little, simple cup design. Next we translated this into different scales – seeing whether it was easier to make the same shape with a very small piece of paper, or very large. I actually enjoyed the tiny pieces of paper, having to try and make super delicate folds to keep the cup design shape. Once we had the hang of that… we moved on to different types of materials – tissue paper, crepe paper, cellophane, fabric, stiffened fabric… and finally clay! Each one responded slightly differently to the folding techniques and the final outcome of a little shape, some better than others – but all unique and individual.

My clay attempt – was actually the hardest part – and, I know it looks a little ‘clumsy’ (you can see in the photo’s below) – but, I had fun – which, I think with craft – it is often the most important part?? – making a little handle, decorating it by stamping out button shapes… We actually only had an hour to make all of these little trials – and so I think quite a lot achieved! I would love to give the clay another go actually – try a bit more creative hacking!

After the workshop – I was desperate to buy a beautiful mug from Clare’s stand in the fair – and, I spent a considerable amount of time trying to pick my favourite…but with the aforementioned already purchased Christmas shopping – I decided not to. However, it was this morning – when I made my morning cup of Yorkshire (of course!) tea, I stood there thinking – how much nicer would this have been in a beautiful textiles inspired piece of delicate porecelain? So – it is on my Christmas wish list for sure (please take note friends and family members – and just to be extra clear – Clare’s website is HERE. And after much deliberation, my piece of choice is THIS stunning Patchwork teacup. I love just how gloriously delicate it is in the pure white – but really feels like a mug you could have a proper brew in! Deeply textured ‘fabric’ porcelain. In Clare’s own words from her website “It’s comforting, passionate and nostalgic”.

Anyway, enough of my Christmas wishlist – the time spent with Clare making the lovely little cups – made me really think about my own craft and creative workshops- and how to best deliver them – and of all the exciting The Crafty Lass things to look forward to…and of course Christmas, and my new cup! (ahem!) 🙂

Categories: Places to Go & Things to See

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