I am sitting at home with a large cup of tea reflecting on the weekend that was – the Handmade Market. It was a big weekend – loads of customers, lots of sales and lots of lovely discussions about wool, tea, teabags, the environment, and everything in between! I sold out of reusable tea bags, have very low levels of stock to list in my online shop, and generally need to get back to work to restock – not a bad position to be in! First of all though I need to clean my house – the last week of intense preparation means that once again my housework was at the bottom of the list of priorities – oops!
A few highlights of the weekend in pictoral form – including a photo of me that a customer took and sent to me!
What next? Possibly a market in August, otherwise focusing on rebuilding stock and filling custom order will be my priority over the next week or so! (After I sleep, clean, and catch up on all my messages!!)
My attendance at the Handmade Market went really well! Not only did I sell tea cosies, cup cosies and reusable tea bags, but I was able to talk to so many interesting people over the weekend! I think that the face to face interaction with customers is one of the absolute best things about selling at a market. They get to hear your story and you get to hear theirs, and it fills up my creative soul to have this interaction!
Of course one of the lovely things about selling at a market is the delightful compliments that you get along the way. I think my favourites were ‘You have made me smile’, and ‘I can’t help but be happy when I look at your stall’. Wow – talk about hitting me right in the emotions! What a privilege to be able to give people joy like that!
On the technical side of things I was pretty happy with my stall set up and display options (there is a lot to be said for being in the right place at the right time when it comes to our local recycling centre – the shelves I bought for $10 could not have been made to fit any better!)
Post market is always a time for filling custom orders, some analysis, some housework, and some planning. I added a bit more into the mix this time, as I have started in my new role as a Thermomix consultant so was also looking after customers, bookings and cooking. Then along came a fantastic opportunity that threw a spanner in the works – well, slowed down all attempts to catch up on housework anyway! I had a call from a friend who asked if I could make 30 tea cosies in a space of 8 days to be used at the launch of the High Tea service at Pialligo Estate. They wanted some fabric, some woollen, and for me to be as creative as I wanted in their design. What a dream brief!! Of course I took it – and then sat down to assess what I could achieve in the time allowed. The end result was 20 woollen cosies and 10 fabric dome-cosies. The interesting thing was that my imagination and creativity didn’t diminish as I worked, but actually grew! It was as if letting myself be free to create kept feeding the ability to create – it was so much fun!
I spent hours working out patterns for silly things like puffy hearts, macarons and amigurumi birds, which will never be reclaimed in financial terms but which were massive investments in terms of creativity. My mother stepped in to help by creating knitted cosy bases that I then embellished, and my kids became very used to me saying ‘no – I have to keep working’ when they saw me sitting in front of the fire and TV with my hook in hand and thought that meant I was free to attend to their every need! My Dad kept my wood box full, and drove my son to school. Mum bought me groceries when I ran out of the basics, and I carried wool and a hook wherever I went. And then I delivered them, on time, and with my fingers crossed that they would be liked.
Through this process I truly realised for the first time, despite being told by other people over time, that I am an artist. I take ideas and create them from wool, through a complicated series of knots and twists with a hook, and they are unique, beautiful and works of art. I had started to accept this in my subconscious but delivering my work to a room full of staff who were preparing for their High Tea service cemented it. I am not a ‘crafter’, or a ‘hobbyist’, or even a ‘crocheter’. I am an artist. Talk about a rush of joy and self worth! I highly recommend taking a commission that pushes you to your limits to really learn about who you are artistically and creatively!
I have always found it hard to accept praise and believe it, and have struggled with my own self worth for many years. Taking this step of announcing to myself, and now to all of you, that I am an artist is empowering and freeing. I have worn many labels over the course of my life, and continue to wear many now – mother having been the dominant one for the last few years. Adding ‘artist’ to the list is definitely about something that is just me, and I like it!
What next? Well, I have another stall at the next Handmade Market on 28 and 29 July, some custom orders to fill, a Thermomix business to grow, and a creative force to release! Ha – that sounds scary! What I actually mean is that I have lots of creative ideas continuing to grow and gather in my head, so I need to get them out and into the world. Stand by for more updates!
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!
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.
– 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!)
The big news in the nest today is the rain. Yes! It has finally rained! Our water tank is full, the garden is starting to look a bit green, the air is damp, and everything feels cleaner. After long, hot, dry weeks everything, including the air, was starting to feel dusty, so this clean dampness is a joy!
The eldest chick’s birthday celebrations went off very well on Friday. In the end I made her a cross body bag using Dr Who fabric, a Dr Who pillowcase, and gave her the pouch that I provided the tutorial on, with some beautiful face care products made by a very talented creative friend, Kyoko, who makes all the lovely things at So Soap.
Add in a Lego present, and a light for her bike and she was a very happy eleven year old. By way of a party I took her and four of her friends to a trendy café/pizza place/bar for dinner last night. Luckily one of the mothers, who is a friend of mine, chose to stay so I had company while the 5 girls giggled and acted sophisticated, and then acted like children, and generally had a great time! One of her friends always gives her excellent presents – either handmade by her mother (a very crafty friend of mine) or books. This year it was a new series of books that already have the eldest chick lost with her nose deep in the pages, so that was a success! Another present she got was just perfect. Great friends of ours taught her to play Yahtzee over the holidays, so when they saw a Dr Who Yahtzee set, it had her name written all over it. She very happily taught the boy to play it this morning and declared it the best game ever!
By working away in my sewing room I have managed to complete the 6 bags that I cut out and prepared a week ago. (I am trying not to dwell on the fact that it took me a week to make 6 bags…..). I complicated things by putting in zipped inner pockets, wide bases that needed stability added, etc. I also complicated things by managing, on three bags in a row, to sew things together upside down……. I am sure that there is a message in there for me – just not sure what! After 6 messenger style bags in a row I think it is time for something different this week. (Now to work out what it is!)
I have also made some business decisions in the last few days. After going through a great process of deciding that the bibs that I have been sewing are not ‘within scope’ and therefore I will only make them to be sold by another website I have done a complete about face when presented with an opportunity too good to miss. Here in Canberra we have the Handmade Shop, where everything in the shop is handmade within Australia. It has always been part of my long term plan to apply to stock my bags in there, but I am not at that point yet. However they recently called for a new designer bib maker to apply to stock their shop, and a friend of mine tagged me in the Facebook page. Cutting a convoluted story short, a few days later I applied, and was accepted the same day, so will be stocking bibs there from 1 March! What a fabulous excuse to buy more gorgeous children’s prints!
The second decision was that I needed to improve my record keeping and inventory control, particularly for attending markets, and if I am going to have stock sitting in shops, or on other websites. A recommendation from a creative colleague pointed me to a great program – and it can be used on an ipad, including producing and then scanning barcodes (it is Vend, if you are interested). What does this mean, I hear you ask? That this provided sufficient justification to purchase a new iPad Air. (I was an early adopter of the first iPad but hadn’t upgraded since, and the absence of a camera meant that it wasn’t much use for inventory etc. That is my excuse and I am sticking to it!) So now I can look all professional and keep track of my products instead of looking at my storage boxes in confusion!
On the home front, the chicks all had a great week at their schools. Given the drama, trauma, and crises of the last two years with the boy attending school, being able to write that first sentence is such a relief. I am eternally optimistic, so hope that it continues (but am realistic enough to know that the future is unpredictable.)
With only 3 weeks until the Handmade Markets I am hitting the panic button a bit, so hope to get a lot of sewing done this week. I was going around in circles tonight, wondering what to do next when I remembered my bicycle applique from the last post. So here it is, appliqued onto some canvas, ready to be made into a canvas satchel!
I think I might have to break up the sewing for the week with experimenting with a few new applique templates!
I hope that you have had a great weekend, and that your week ahead is full of fun experiments. What are you looking forward to most this week?
The heat here is, as predicted, just that. Heat. Baking down, blowing in the window like a furnace. I got in the car to go the shop for milk tonight and the temperature gauge read 50 C (122F). Hot. Luckily it fell rapidly to 39C on the drive!
With the heat tempers are fraying, voices are snappy, and little things become difficult. Oh wait – that might just be me! Anyway – when I found myself with a house full of children yesterday (my three plus three more) and the temperatures were soaring, it was time to pull out some activities to keep them all engaged inside where it was cool. Luckily a friend had put me onto the fact that the Sharpie pen range includes “Stained” – a series of fabric pens. I found a pack of brightly coloured ones (orange, purple, green, blue, red, black, yellow and pink) before Christmas (for about $16 at Big W for those in Australia) and had tucked them away thinking they might work as a present for one of the chicks. I also had a pile of blank t-shirts from my experiment with appliqueing shirts for the shop. And voila! We had a craft ready to go. (And by way of review of the pens – they worked well, lasted to do the 6 designs with more ink in them, had good clear colours and a brush tip which allowed for different finishes. I will be recommending them!)
I made them all stick a piece of cardboard inside the shirts, and sat them down in pairs to design their own shirts. The two older girls (the eldest chick and her friend) were the first. Somehow they decided that “I rock – deal with it” was the statement of the day, and proceeded to decorate their shirts with that, plus a few extra swirls and squiggles. I told them that there were no mistakes when you are a designer, so anything they made was going to be great! The friend also added pieces of fabric that I then appliqued on for her.
Then the boy and his friend went to work on theirs. Strangely enough (or not) they also felt the need to announce to the world that they ‘rock’. The boy’s friend did an amazing job of drawing, writing and colouring in (and I regret not capturing it in a photo). The boy, on the other hand, made a mistake and would not accept any guidance to see that it wasn’t a mistake, it could be salvaged, etc. Much yelling and crying later he tackled a new shirt and did a great job.
That left the middle chick and her friend. By this stage I was out of pale shirts (and patience to be honest) and down to pinks and purples. They decided to draw on white cotton that I will then applique onto their shirts (must do that – mental note). Neither of them felt the need to announce that they rock in any way – what a relief!
So this is the middle chick’s offering. She started with the idea of drawing bamboo…..
With children running here, there and everywhere, and the heat (did I mention that already?) I haven’t made it into the sewing room other than to hunt for various things that have been required. I have, however, been busy in other aspects of this little business.
The first edition of my monthly newsletter was sent out last night, and, in addition to a free tutorial, links to free printables, and various other bits and pieces, it held a bit of news. I have been accepted as a stall holder for the next Canberra Handmade Market, on the weekend of 8 and 9 March, which is a prestigious market, and has been part of my aim for the last 12 months. I am very excited!
I was also contacted by two different organisations yesterday and asked to be a contributor of patterns, tutorials and tips. One is a craft magazine published here in Australia, and the other is an international website used by many crafters. In terms of things coming in threes, that was a pretty big three for this little bird!
I have also taken my first step to add another dimension to my shop, and have started to list bag making components for sale in addition to finished bags and accessories. I have started with adjustable strap slides. I have had no success finding these in the local stores (and I live in a fairly well resourced city) and ended up buying in bulk. So I have decided to make these bits and pieces available more easily to those of you who might like to turn your hand at trying a pattern but are put off by not being able to find the right ‘notions’ in your local shops.
My intention is to follow this up with other bag hardware and some interfacing. There are other steps that will follow this, but these are the first little ones before I start running!
I am itching to get into the sewing room and finish some bags, complete my not-so-secret project of making some baby items on commission and generally disappear into a cloud of creativity. But reality is that it is hot. Oh – and it is school holidays. Once the children are back at their father’s house on the next ‘rotation’ I will be complaining of the quiet and having too much time on my hands. (Or not!)
Either way, I hope that you are surviving the week wherever you are, and that you are able to enjoy some creativity of your own kind.