Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Makers hub

Last night I was privileged to attend the opening of a new creative space in Canberra, and the celebration of the vision, dreams, hard work and creativity of the brains behind the space.  Mikaela Danvers from Canberra Creatives launched The Makers Hub last night in a perfect way – champagne, soft drink, a craft project to make and take, and cupcakes that you could ‘pimp’ with icing, popcorn, easter eggs, etc. (for the record I had a caramel cupcake with caramel icing and caramelised popcorn – see a theme here?)

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Of course as usual I was so busy talking to all the exciting people in the room that I managed to take only a couple of pictures, but there are many doing the rounds on blogs, instagram, and facebook this morning! (Have a look at Canberra101 and Blonde Ink as a starting point!)

The Makers Hub is a space where you can buy craft supplies, attend workshops, have exhibitions, hire the space for your own functions, and have access to amazing resources like moulds for resin jewellery, and, if the fundraising goes well, you will be able to access a kiln, letterpress, and more!  I am already eyeing it off as the perfect venue for tweenie birthday parties – having a craft session in a sophisticated and inspiring space and getting to go home with something gorgeous that they have made has success written all over it for me!

Mikaela has researched, planned, dreamt, inspired, and researched a bit further in order to put this together, and if last night’s opening night crowd was anything to go by she has hit the nail on the head in terms of having an audience who is excited about the possibilities she has just created for our community!

I got to talk to so many amazingly talented people – Jane who makes lampshades, Wita who designs gorgeous printables, Angie whose quilts are to die for, Anne who is a jeweller, Melissa who collects and sells classic children’s books, Grace who is a fabulous photographer, Nicole who has creativity running out her pores and will be running a workshop there soon, and so many more!  There were idea bubbles floating around above everyone’s heads, I swear!!

If you are in Canberra, go and check it out!  It is in Wiseman St, Macquarie and all the details are on the website – www.canberracreatives.com.au!

 

Joy in the little things

This week I have been spontaneously stopping at different moments throughout the day and just enjoying being happy.  Not because of big momentous things, but just through the joy of little things.  I have had a visit to the post office each day this week, with a little pile of parcels wrapped in brown paper to send off to customers.  I get such a thrill from wrapping them and carrying them into the counter.  Getting to do it every day is so cool. It makes me happy!

I also got to hand deliver three other sales.  Which meant having lovely chats with the people I am selling to.  Joy!   It is such a privilege to make things for other people that they want and love.

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A lap top sleeve for  an English student – she chose such appropriate fabric!

I have started and finished three custom orders in the last two days.  With no hiccups!  Again – happy!  I have cooked a lovely (she says modestly) meal for a friend, spoken on the phone with another, and had lunch with yet another.  All moments that give joy.  I have sat and watched the rain soaking my garden, and while I am sure that my joy cannot begin to match the joy of local farmers who have needed this so much, it has still given me joy.

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The grey wet day through my window when I stopped to refill my bobbin!

I think that knowing that I have time to plan for my future and my family’s future is giving me the time to appreciate the little things again.  And it feels good!  It also gives me time to come up with all sorts of ideas – which, upon closer inspection, turn out to be a mix of brilliance and complete rubbish!

On the handmade front I am, and will keep being, busy.  I have further custom orders to complete, stock to make for the Handmade Shop, stock that I want to make for my Etsy shop, a business plan or two to write, some research to do, and some articles to write.  All of that means that I am expecting a fair few more of the little moments of joy!

One of the projects that I want to put some time into is preparing some online resources that share some of the lessons that I have learnt over the last couple of years about building a creative business, becoming a stall holder, planning, selling online, and taking the steps to translate a hobby into a business.  If there is something in particular that you would like to know, please let me know – either in the comments, or by email (Theresa@alittlebirdmademe.com) so that I can be sure to include some answers for you in the materials that I prepare – or get one of my many friends with expertise to help me answer your question!!

For now – back to little moments of joy.  I have just one chick in the nest tonight, so she gets extra cuddles and stories for bedtime and that is where I am headed.

What moments of joy have you been able to find this week?  I would love to hear about them – big or small!

New directions

I was going to start this post with a lovely poetic piece about the rain.  But while I was writing it I had a phone call from the boy’s school.  Again.  His father is handling the situation, but the very fact of the call is enough to make me change my direction.  For the post, and for my/our life.

I have been on leave from work for some months now for a combination of reasons.  Trying to support a child with special needs, getting more and more worn down myself from constantly keeping all the balls in the air – working full time at a high level, being a full time single parent, the boy’s need for extra everything, the fact that the girls miss out on so much when the boy needs so much, keeping everyone fed, clothed, alive……  It all got too much at the end of last year and I fell apart.  So my leave (thank goodness I have worked as a public servant for so long) was needed to get me back to ‘normal’ (whatever that is) so that I could go back to juggling the balls again.

Except that I have realised that, as a wise woman I know says, ‘If nothing changes, then nothing changes.’  If I go back to juggling, I will fall again.  And next time I might not get back up.  Something needs to change.  The boy and his sisters won’t change.  They will always be my top priority.  Whether we live in this house or another, the same basic level of housework, maintenance, and general ‘home-ness’ will not change.  Although my ex-husband is back living in the same country, so I am not a full time single parent anymore, that change is not enough to balance it all out.  That leaves work – my paid employment and my creative business.  I am not yet sure what the answer is about which of these will need to change the most in order to build a new direction for me/us but it is obvious that one or both will need to.

I have applied for some further leave (of the long service type – again – so glad that I have worked for so many years!) so that I can work this question out.  Because life as a parent of a child with a disability can’t follow the plan that I previously had.  We have to find a new path, and a new approach, and a new plan.  This plan has to put my health near the top of the list of priorities, to allow flexibility so that the boy can have the support he needs when he needs it, to produce enough income to pay for the necessities in life, and to be manageable.  Expect to see a lot of idea bubbles floating around above my head, growing or popping as I work through all of them, weighing up, assessing and looking at how to build a new life for the chicks and I.  Although it is daunting, it is also exciting.  The possibilities are endless!

Meanwhile, back in the sewing studio (sounds posh doesn’t it?!) in between periods of intense chaos, some goods have been produced!  I have completed some custom orders, delivered a pile of bibs to restock the Handmade Shop (the first lot almost all sold out in under a month!!), and am ticking things off the list I made on the weekend.  This custom order was delivered today, in time for the birthday of a girl who loves Dr Who, and who loves the willow pattern.  I can’t wait to hear how she reacts to it on her birthday!

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And, after all my protests about bibs not being ‘in scope’ they are selling well, I like making them, and I have some plans to expand my ‘range’ for older children and teens.  Stand by for that development (once my new fabric order arrives!!).  In the meantime how gorgeous are these fabrics?

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Another thing that I ticked off my list this week was listing my new stock in my Etsy shop.  I was so busy making things in the lead up to the Markets at the beginning of the month that I didn’t stop and photograph many of them – a good lesson for the future!  Here is a small selection of the newly listed bags.

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And finally, my big news of the day is that I have been accepted to sell my bags through Shop Handmade!  This was part of the plan that I created last year, so I am proud that I have followed my plan, and that I have been accepted to sell in such a wonderful shop.  The biggest danger is that each time I deliver stock I will have to be careful not to leave with just as many pieces of other people’s work!

This week’s plan is to finish more custom orders, sew up some new designs, and get some planning happening!  I hope that your week goes well (and that you get the rain that is so badly needed if you are in Australia!)

For now I am off to think about new directions over a cup of tea.

 

A break!

As I sit to type out this post at the computer it feels like it has been weeks since I last wrote.  I almost began the post with an apology for my absence, and then realised that it has only been a few days since my last post!  Why did I think that I had been absent for ages?  Because the chicks and I had a break.  Just what we all needed.

After the flurry of activity to prepare for the markets 10 days ago, the chicks returned from their father’s house with their feathers all ruffled and out of sorts.  As we worked through some of the issues last week I realised that we needed a circuit breaker.  A chance to regroup.  I decided that I needed to bend the rules and create our own long weekend and go camping.  So we did!  Friday afternoon we left Canberra and drove up and over the mountain range that separates us from the coastline, navigating winding steep roads, while towing our beloved camper trailer.  It was the best decision I have made in a while!

We arrived while it was still light, and started the set up, during the windiest period of the weekend!  (Of course that was after I had managed to lose control of the trailer while manoeuvring it into place – without chocking the wheels…….  my usual dramatic arrival was achieved.  Luckily a neighbouring tent rope and a tree stopped it from actually hitting the beach.  The only injury was to my pride.  Again.)  The girls helped me to get the tent up despite the flapping canvas and flying poles, while the boy found his new best friends and started digging a hole in the sand.

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The view from the tent on Saturday morning – children (including mine) digging a hole in the sand.

We had the perfect day on Saturday – investigating rock pools, digging holes in the sand, riding our surf mats, swimming in the pool, playing cards with fierce competition and having pancakes for dinner!

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The three chicks delighted in each new find, sharing their discoveries with each other.

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The clear waters of a rock-pool full of seaweed

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The boy was so excited to find a crab nipper ‘that still works!’.

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The eldest chick found a piece of beautiful blue shell with a delicate sea weed attached to it.

0178cecb004fd110e034b1acdc31ed9e857b5f6d9bThe boy looked in vain for an anemone.

The boy was ready to try riding the waves for the first time, but got dumped by a large wave and was very upset.  After a small rest on the sand, and listening to some instructions about how to catch a wave from me, he went back out there and had a ball!  By this stage his new friends from the first night were now part of the family, and we got to share their fire to toast marshmallows that night.  I forgot to take any charger cords for our various i-devices so I only have photos from the first day, but the girls had a great time trying to capture the perfect scene on their iPods in between appearing in a sandy heap at the door of the tent to request food.

By Sunday morning we had giant waves, and a strong undertow, thanks to a cyclone in New Zealand, so there was no sea play, but we made up for that lack of excitement with a trip to the nearest emergency room after the middle chick had a large crash off her skateboard, going down a hill.  X-rays and many hours later, nothing was broken, and we all returned to camp, to discover that we had missed the rain, and were in time for the rainbow.

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We made up for our missed opportunities on Monday (I gave the kids a day off school) by climbing up to the top of the cliffs and watching the waves, looking for whales and dolphins and exclaiming about everything we saw!  We had a leisurely pack up and didn’t leave until mid-afternoon, squeezing one last swim in the pool in before we left.

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The middle chick and the boy investigating new finds on the beach on Monday morning after a super high tide in the night.

There is something magical about sleeping under canvas, listening to crashing waves, finding what has been washed up on the beach in the night, and being together in one space.  It helped to do a bit of healing that we all needed, patching up some spots in the family that had been rubbing thin.  We all agreed that we need to do it again – soon.  And often.

All of that time living the simple life gave me time to think, to overthink, to reassess, to plan, then forget the plan.  I have been off work for quite a while now.  I am slowly getting stronger, but the littlest thing can still push me backwards – and big things have a huge effect.  It means that processing the options and trying to plan the way forward is hard – there are so many unknowns!  If only writing a blog, sewing bags and bibs, talking about creating, recycling, sharing and having a love of fabric could support my little family!  I am sure it will one day, but for now the future is uncertain and I am trying to remember to do one thing at a time.  Recognising how far I have come is useful – 3 months ago I couldn’t imagine taking the chicks camping as the organisation required was overwhelming.  This time, I just kept things simple, and when I realised that we had forgotten something, just improvised.  (Hence pancakes for dinner!)

For now, doing one thing at a time means that I have an awful lot of sewing to get through in the next week, with a number of custom orders ready to go (if only the FedEx man and I can coordinate our schedules better – I missed him by 7 minutes today), and a request to restock my bibs in the Handmade Shop!  (So exciting!!)

I also need to list all the stock that I have made in my Etsy shop.  Don’t forget that there is a sale on until Friday – making room for the new things coming……

I hope that you had a great weekend, and were able to spend time with the ones you love, doing things that bring you closer together.

Sale time!

I am spending the week catching up on household and business admin – it does pile up when you are in a sewing frenzy!  As a result it is taking me a little longer than planned to re-stock the shop.  My solution?  A sale!   All purchases over $25 made between 13 March and 21 March 2014 will receive 25% off by entering the coupon code MARCH2014 at the checkout.

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Of course there is always method in my madness.  The chicks and I have not been camping for far too long, and they have been so patient with my sewing and market preparation that I decided that we need a weekend at the coast.  House and pet-sitting has been quickly organised, a beachfront site booked, and lists are being made.  This delays all plans for photography and listing for the shop, so I thought that the least I could do was offer a sale while you wait!

I am confident that we will return from our (no-electricity and therefore no digital media) break with many stories to tell, perhaps a few extra freckles, and renewed energy, so will look forward to sharing with you when we return, salty and sandy.  In the meantime – have a great weekend, and think about buying yourself a colourful treat, for a discounted price!

 

The aftermath

The two day Handmade Markets in Canberra are finished, and it is a public holiday here in Canberra, so I am lounging around with my chicks, ignoring the mess and chaos in the sewing studio (and in fact the rest of the house) and enjoying reflecting on a great weekend.

I will be re-stocking the shop over the next few days with new items, new photos of items, and some new descriptions, so stand by for a bit more flash and colour!   I am also thinking about a sale by the end of the week, so will be back with news of that soon.

A quick recap of the markets is required, after all the build up.  For those who aren’t familiar with these markets, they are held 4 times a year, and coordinated by the lovely women who run the Handmade Shop here in Canberra.  They provide wonderful opportunities to showcase high end Australian made designs, food, accessories, etc.  This was my first time applying to appear at the markets, as I knew that I had to be ready – have the right style of stock, the right display, and the right approach.  However I have always loved being a customer at the markets, so knew what to expect in terms of great atmosphere!

I had a great time – I love chatting to customers, stall holders etc.  There are so many interesting people who attend markets, it is never a boring experience!  It also gave me a chance to tweak my display set up.  On Sunday I took a few extra props in with me, and my two eldest chicks, and they helped me to rearrange my display before customers arrived.  We all agreed that it was much more effective!  I have assured them that they are my official display design helpers from now on.

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Day 1

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 Day 2 (with gorgeous helpers)

It also gave me a great chance to learn what customers are interested in.  After all my protests that bibs were outside my ‘scope’ they were, of course, my biggest seller!  Always learning.

The next steps here, once the chicks are back at school tomorrow, is to clean up the piles of fabric, unpack the stock that I still have, and load it onto my Etsy shop, and start on the custom orders that I took over the last two days.  In between I will be playing with some new ideas that I have had for new designs…… always fun!

I hope that your weekend has been fun too!

 

Busy Busy Busy!

I have just realised that it has been over a week since I last posted.  This is not a sign of disengagement on my part but of complete and utter busy-ness!

This may be one of my shortest posts ever as I am in the middle of a sewing frenzy!  It is less than a week until the Handmade Markets open in Canberra, and I am determined to have as much stock as I can for the markets.  The chicks are at their father’s house and I am sewing, sewing, sewing!

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Things happening this week:

– I delivered 36 bibs to the Handmade Shop and they are now on sale there!

– I am completely obsessed with repurposing denim jeans into bags.

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– I have the first samples for the bag kits that I am developing.  They need some tweaking but just getting started on it is exciting!

– I have discovered the joys of making my own green smoothies (lots of vegies and fruit pulverised into a drink!)  Will definitely fill you in on that once the hectic week is over!

– The chicks are all well and busy and calm!  (Freaky but true!)

– My house looks like a thread factory exploded

– I have shattered (not snapped!) two needles – one on my sewing machine and one on my overlocker.

– I have worn a blister on my knuckle through using scissors on denim and canvas.  (How do I know this is the cause?  Because every time I pick up the scissors I remember that it is there when it hurts!)

– I have used 2 kilometre of sewing cotton in the last 10 days.  I have used 4 kms in the last 6 weeks.

– I have realised that I need to set up an easy way for people to arrange custom orders with me.  My brain is ticking over the options as I sew!

Am I having fun though?  Yes!  Yes, a thousand times yes!

I hope that your week is full of creative fun (although perhaps not quite as much craziness as mine!)