Thank you to all who reached out to share and support when I was having a tough time last week. The great news is that things have continued to improve since then, so much so that I had one morning this week when all three children were at school! Of course I had left my crochet bag at home, so wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself for a while!
I have managed to get into the sewing room, and my other favourite making place, my armchair, and produce a few new things this week. After a special request I made another pineapple tea cosy – tweaking the pattern as I went, and am very happy with the results.
Then I decided to play with the idea of a cactus tea cosy and love this result!
Some time in the sewing room meant some dome style tea cosies and a wrap around cosy! My fabric stash is being re-discovered and I am loving it!!
A few more tiny cacti have grown in tiny teacups and I made some trivets with recycled t-shirt yarn. You might say that it has been a productive week!!
In the midst of all of this Spring has sprung (finally) so that might explain the additional energy I have had – all that vitamin D soaking in! My ‘to-do’ list is long at the moment – cleaning the house, finally painting a couple of rooms, getting some more sewing done, listing things in my shop…… so let’s hope that the sun stays out for a few more days!
I hope that you have had a creative and inspiring week.
A few weeks ago I found myself lying in bed thinking about this website and wondering whether I should just delete it and accept that I wasn’t going to be in business anymore. It was a hard conversation to have with myself, but I couldn’t see anyway to move forward. Fast forward to this week and I have just reopened my Etsy shop (you can get there by clicking the link at the top of the page) for the first time in over two and a half years. Wow!
What happened to change things? I had a couple of lightbulb moments. I just couldn’t get excited about making any of the things I used to make, wasn’t inspired to design anything from those lines, and had pretty much abandoned my studio as the household dumping room for anything that didn’t have a home. Then we had a two week school holiday break for the children where we made no plans – no trips, no big outings, and no commitments. After a few days of mooching around while the kids did their own thing in their own parts of the house I decided that it was time to tackle the sewing room. Which took about 6 hours less than I thought it would, and was not stressful. The light was beginning to shine through the gloom that had been sitting over my creative self.
Then I decided that I needed a tea cosy for my glass teapot to keep it warm when friends dropped in and we drank multiple cups of tea in one sitting. I did a bit of looking around on line and ended up making my own pattern and whipping this up one evening.
That was the first light bulb moment! I found myself wanting to create! I kept making tea cosies, even though I didn’t have a person in mind to give them to. Then I found myself looking at all things tea related online and had my second light bulb moment. By starting to make again, but not sticking to just one method of making (sewing) and not just one type of product (accessories) I could delve into making but instead focus on a common theme. Tea! From there I started down the road of making resusable tea bags. I drink a lot of tea and always put any tea bags in the compost or the worm farm. Recently we emptied the worm farm and dug over the compost and all the tea bags appeared amongst the lovely dirt – not at all broken down. I have since discovered that tea bags are manufactured using plastic! While I often use an infuser I have found that the hinged ones break, and the cup ones aren’t always the right shape for the cup I want to use. The sewing machine came out, the fabric scrap bin was opened and the experimenting began.
After a lot of research I decided that using GOTS certified organic cotton was the safest option, and that using a tighter weave rather than the traditional loose weave muslin would ensure that the bags lasted longer. Then I drank lots of tea (oh the hardship) using various shapes and sizes of the tea bags, decided on the best combination and sat down and began making them. Making them involves cutting, sewing, threading, sewing, turning, ironing each little bag, so they aren’t particularly cheap to make, but I believe that they are a good investment in reducing the amount of plastic we are pouring into the earth.
This morning I got up bright and early and photographed, staged, took more photos, wrote descriptions, edited, wrote different words and finally, after a very long time, pushed the ‘publish’ button to list items for sale in my shop again. It felt good! I have a lot of ideas but have learnt a lot over the years about what works for me, what success looks like for me, and what causes me to become overwhelmed and freeze. This means that I am not putting pressure on myself, and will make and list items when I can. I am a bit proud of these first listings though! Check out my tea cosy collection!
Yes that is eggs and bacon
And even better, yes that is avocado on toast!
I have also used this new found creative surge as an excuse to hit the charity shops in search of teapots to use for sizing the cosies and tea cups to use in making ‘things’, like a pincushion.
And then because I like having a new pincushion for my pins I made another one for my needles, using a pattern from the Lion Brand website.
So there you have it. My creative urge is back and I am back in business, but with a new twist. Let’s see how it goes! There has been a lot happening apart from the creative explosion, but I will save that for another time as there is a pile of crochet calling my name, and some Netflix series to binge watch.
I have been very quiet here over the last few months, although still using Instagram and Facebook. I think social media goes in cycles – sometimes it is about the story, sometimes it is about the image and sometimes it is about the conversation. It seems timely, then, when the year is about to roll over, to capture a bit of the last 12 months in story, image and conversation! (All this without sending anyone to sleep. Hmmm….can I rise to the challenge?!)
This year was a big year for my little family with our move to a new nest and rural life. At this point (days away from the 12 month mark) I can honestly say that I do not regret the move at all. There are days when yet another drive into town makes my heart sink, but for the most part even the commute (20 minutes to most places I need to get to) is extremely civilised! We now have 12 hens, 5 sheep, 2 dogs and 4 goldfish.
We bottle fed Poh Poh from when she was about 6 hours old and all fell in love with her.
We welcomed Milo into the household to join Dottie the crazy terrier. He gets a lot of cuddles.
We leased one of our paddocks to the neighbours so we also get to enjoy their horses. The gardens are beautiful and my parents do a lot of work to maintain them (I say guiltily!) We named the property as a birthday gift for my Dad (who is a Deacon) and the same friend who made the sign also made a custom ordered signpost for the garden as a gift for both of them.
The sign for our property made of jarrah from Western Australia by the very talented Michael from Wood and Wax Studios.
The garden signpost with a few of the places my parents have lived marked on it!
Also on the family front we had a wonderful family gathering in September to celebrate my parents’ 70th birthdays – with two of my siblings, and 6 of their siblings, plus partners, along with lovely friends, joining us for about 4 days. We have now established that the house can accomodate 9 extra people, and cope with two camper vans. It was a huge highlight for all of us.
In October we went camping after a (much too long) haitus. It was perfect!
My favourite spot to camp. With this view from the kitchen, there is little to complain about!
Big changes in the house included replacing the very, very, very busy carpet with something a little more neutral, and starting the mammoth task of painting. With the newly opened Ikea store in town light fittings are next on the list!!
Before and after with the carpet replacement!
On the sewing front I have been busy. I had a two month break when I injured myself in an altercation with my boy, but returned and have been busy ever since. For a woman who was intent on being a bag designer I seem to make an awful lot of baby products now – but they sell well, so I am not complaining! After putting my on-line shop on vacation mode about a year ago, thinking it would be for a month or so, it is still not open. The upcoming holiday period is a great opportunity for me to sit down and plan what the next year is going to look like – and how I am going to run my business is a big part of that. I have developed a pile of new products over the last few months, including gift sets, teething blankies (with really soft bamboo velour backing), bibs that can have a dummy clipped to them, fabric covered journals, and a pile of Christmas decorations! They have mainly been sold through Shop Handmade, with a few custom orders here and there.
A boxed gift set with blanket, bib and teething ring toy – part of my new product range.
Teething Ring Blankets with soft bamboo velour and cotton – they feel sooo nice!
Fabric covered journals for keeping all your notes looking good!
I have also completed two very special custom orders for people who wanted cushion covers made using clothing that was special to a deceased grandparent, as gifts for their family. It is a privilege to be entrusted with cutting up these garments that hold so many memories, in order to create a lasting momento.
These cushion covers were made from two shirts that my customer has kept of her grandmothers. I was able to keep the button detail of one shirt, and to add a strip of the fabric on each back too.
Life with my chicks has had it’s ups and downs – as it always does, but as the year draws to a close there is a feeling that we might be making headway with some of my boy’s issues. We had to change doctors and counsellors during the year when his both left town, and although it has been a drawn out process to get everyone up to speed we seem to be there now, and to be gaining extra support to assist in supporting him. The girls have both grown a lot this year, in size and maturity, with the eldest chick even doing household chores without complaining! Wonders will never cease!
I will spend the next few weeks thinking about what is next for this little bird, and my business and my family, and hopefully will appear here with a little more frequency than I have been!
I hope that this year has treated you kindly, that you have been loved and supported, and that the New Year brings joy, creativity and peace to you.
I have been back at the machine making stuff this week. And it feels good! I am itching to get back to making bags – it has been too long – but for now I have been working on more baby accessories to meet demands in the Shop Handmade.
A couple of weeks ago I starting playing with sewing plastic to make waterproof bibs. Many hours, and frustration later I realised that I needed a different approach.
Crooked bias binding, uneven stitches, lots of swearing, and slipping layers……
And of course the answer was simple – use the laminated cotton that I already have! Doh!
Would have been better if I had looked at the direction of the pattern when I was cutting it out!
So a series of waterproof bibs, with soft bamboo lining so that they are still comfortable for a baby to wear, are now stocked in Shop Handmade. And I have made a few with pockets on the bottom.
I remember thinking that pockets on bibs were weird, until I had my own children and realised how handy they can be for little ones to scoop out the dropped biscuit, grape, spaghetti, etc that they have dropped! (Good thing these are washable!)
I suspect that I didn’t share with you the other product I made for the Shop a few weeks ago – hot water bottle covers and heat packs. (Well, it is almost winter you know!)
This week a customer asked for a set of hand-warmers as a gift for a traveller, so I had fun playing with a design for these. You know me – they couldn’t just be plain!
I have also been working on some more nappy change mats to restock in the Shop. Loving all the bright colours!
I am also a little bit chuffed to be the featured designer on the Handmade Canberra website this week.
Now to get back to the machine!! I hope that you are having a productive week.
This week has been a whirlwind of activity. Meetings, errands, nights out, housekeeping, and one glorious day at home. And this is what I designed and made in that day!
Teething toys with a wooden ring and one of my silicone tips! I do love a new product!
I also completed a custom ordered cushion cover for a 9 year old’s birthday. I challenged myself and made and installed piping for the first time. (I need to perfect corners!). I was to deliver it yesterday, but when I got to town I realised that I had left it at home. I rang mum and she met me half way to hand it over, and I dropped it into the Shop on time so that the customer could collect it. Phew. Then I get a message last night saying the customer loves it but I have missed a piece of applique stitching.
And she is right!!! I am mortified- and having to laugh at the irony that after being so proud of my efficiency in getting it delivered despite having forgotten it, I then had to drive in to town and collect it, repair and return. I was getting too smart for my own good there!
Every day a little thing happens to confirm that moving out here and sharing the property and our lives with my parents was the right thing to do. (And not just Mum driving to meet me half way when I forget something!). They babysat for me twice this week and there was no stress, no drama, just normal routine for the kids. Of course the down side is that two late nights in a row mean two late nights in a row for them.
It is not without it’s challenges though. Life with children brings new and interesting surprises every day. Today was the announcement by my boy that he had been testing how strong the pipe from the dam to the pump was, and now there was water coming out of it……. Some investigation and breathing out later it was revealed that the strength of the pipe had been tested with an axe…….. More breathing out and mantras of calmness later a solution for repair was identified, and the pipe is fixed. For me it identified that this was nothing to do with my boy’s special needs, and everything to do with him being an 8 year old. He is testing boundaries, exploring our new environment and having fun. And 8 year olds, no matter how intelligent, don’t always think of the consequences of their actions. I had to think back to things I did when I was 8. And remind my Dad (who was struggling to understand why someone would do something like this) of how we behaved when he was 8. It helped us both to breathe out, and keep our cool. Just. Needless to say, the axe, the pocketknife, and all other tools are now out of bounds for some time.
One day full of production, and one day full of unexpected activity that felt like nothing was achieved. The ups and downs and unpredictability of life!
For now I am back to my plans. New products to make, an online shop to open (or re-open), baking to do, and events to attend. And to keep our spirits up, this tree in the front yard is ablaze with colour. Fingers crossed that I get a day of production rather than a day of unexpected activities.
Today I began the process of changing my brand. New swing tags on the products that I sell at Shop Handmade was the first step. Each product has its own story printed on the back of the tag. I was asked why I was putting myself through so much effort. The answer is simple- it is who I am! I love the story behind a piece.
I also dropped off some new products. I say ‘new’ but in truth I have been making the separate components for years. I have planned for 2 years to make a travel set – a zipped pouch, a drawstring bag and a toothbrush roll in matching fabric. And I have finally done it! Ta da! A new product that is suitable for all age groups!
In other ‘new looks’ we had our first really cold and foggy morning this morning. It was thick fog so everything appeared as shadows.
I hope that the beginning of your week has gone well.
Hello! Today my Handmade Project – How to make an appliqued cushion cover is being used to launch the new series of Handmade Projects on the Handmade Canberra website! I designed this project thinking that it would be a great Mother’s Day present. But as my Mum is a reader of this blog, I might need to go back to the drawing board!
If you make any cushions using the pattern I would love it if you tagged me if you post them on Instagram – #alittlebirdmademe, so that I can enjoy your efforts!