Just popping in quickly to let you know that I am still alive and very busy being creative! This weekend I have my return to the Handmade Markets in Canberra after a 4 year absence! Well – I wasn’t really absent, I was working for Handmade Canberra, but this is my return as a designer, so it is a bit exciting! I have been flat out making and designing and getting carried away with ideas, so here are a few of the products I will have on sale and on display at the markets this weekend!
All that colour!! I will be back soon to fill you in with more detail of what has been happening in the nest, what other projects I have on the go and, of course, how the markets go, so stay tuned!
Okay, last week’s post about being accepted to have my products in store at in.cube8r Gallery and Emporium was pretty big. But I may be topping it this week with the announcement of plans to be represented in not one but two more shops, and two more States along with it!
I had to practise setting up at home so that I could say that my products would fit into the space I will occupy in in.cube8r so I commandeered the coffee table as my stand in space!
First things first – my box of goodies is in transit to Melbourne today, and should arrive in time for the stocking of my products on 1 February. (Still so exciting!) I have included a couple of new lines of earrings in with the shipment too!
The next shop that I will be appearing in is The Collective Store at Wynnum in Queensland (yes, another interstate move!) This is a beautiful shop that represents handmade artists and designers and gives us the ability to have exposure in a different part of the country! I will be sending up a box of goodies over the next week, to start my appearance in their store from 12 February. I may also need to drive up for a visit at some point, given that it is one of my favourite places! Just in time for sorting out what to send, I have another new range of earrings ready to join the collection, so will be sure to include those in my parcel.
And leaving the biggest announcement (personally) until last, I am very pleased to announce that I am joining the Trove Canberra Collective at the beginning of March (with my products starting to appear in store in late February.) This is big because some of you might recall that way back when, (in fact about this time of year four years ago) I had an idea about setting up a pop-up shop with some fellow handmade designers in Canberra. I saw an empty shop and thought it might be a great idea to do for a month. A group of us got together and the idea grew and became an idea about doing this for more than a month, and forming a collective to represent local artists and designers through a shop front. It was an awesome idea and had lots of support but after a few months I had to face reality and withdraw from it because my family responsibilities were just too big and my time too limited. But the groundswell of support continued and with lots of hard work the very successful Trove Collective has now been operating for several years. I have always stayed in touch but didn’t feel in a position to join them until recently. When I sat down at the beginning of the year to make a plan for how to build my business and to be smarter and more organised about my products, my processes and my brand I decided that it was time to put my hand up to see if I could, finally, join the collective. I am so happy to be able to announce that I have been accepted! It is like closing a circle and is a sign of how my plans are shaping, and how I am keeping a promise to myself to carve out some time for me and what I like. Every now and then I have a moment of thinking to myself ‘what on earth am I doing’, but then I continue on making and designing and realise that all the hard work I have put in over the years has all been leading to this point where I know what I am doing and am happy doing it.
In other news I decided to push myself a little and, over the weekend, I entered two of my tea cosies in the Handicraft section of the Bungendore Show. Because I sell my creations I thought I should do the right thing and enter the “Professional” class, which is open to all types of handcraft. It was the biggest class in the section, with some amazing entries, so I was very pleased (and slightly relieved) to have been awarded a Highly Commended for my cactus tea cosy! (First prize went to an incredibly beautiful leather saddle so you can see the competition was fierce!) Putting yourself out there to be judged is tough!
All dressed up and ready to go to Missouri – 8 party favours!
We were also very lucky to have a visit from family who live in Missouri, USA, late last week. I had met my second cousin 40 years earlier (I was VERY young at the time) but hadn’t met his wife. She and I hit it off when I discovered that she loves tea and all the paraphernalia that goes with it! A match made in heaven! I gave her a teapot necklace as a gift, and she then turned around and ordered a set of 8 to use as party favours at her next tea party back home! I was delighted to be able to put them together, knowing that they are off to be shared with some tea loving ladies across the sea!
With all of that happening in my ‘business’ world you would think that things must be going smoothly on the home front! Well – they aren’t too bad at the moment but this is the return to school week so anxiety levels are high for everyone. My middle chick had an interview at her current school last week and her levels of distress at just having to walk through the gates were horrible to witness. (Nothing to do with the school and everything to do with her perception of danger.) She is being supported by a fantastic mental health team, and we have several strategies and plans in place to try and get her there, and engaged, but there are some ugly days ahead of us I fear.
Keeping life bright with some rainbow crochet therapy.
My eldest chick is waiting on tenterhooks to hear the outcome of an application to a different school (she jumps on me whenever my phone rings to see if it is the school) so she is a bit wound up too. If she isn’t accepted at this new school she will happily return to her previous high school, with her friends and where she knows the teachers, so the outcome will be good either way.
The home classroom set up ready to go for this year
And my boy started back at school today! Luckily his first day was a Distance Education day, where he and I worked on the packet of work sent by his correspondence school teacher. I was dreading it to be honest, but the first piece of work we tackled grabbed his attention immediately and it was a great start to the school year. He will go into his other school (the one with physical classrooms) for an hour tomorrow (boy am I hoping that we can increase his time at school this year) to meet his teacher and see his friends, so I will return to the daily drive-and-wait routine. The good thing is that there are excellent Op Shops in the town where his school is, so I will be able to check them for teapots and teacups on a regular basis!
With all of that exciting news it is probably time for me to go and have a cup of tea and tackle some crochet! My mind is buzzing with ideas at the moment so lets hope that I can translate them into creations!
I hope that you have had a good week, and that if you are getting children back to school I hope that it goes smoothly for everyone.
Fanfare please! Da da da da dum…………Big news from the nest today. Starting from 1 February 2018 you will be able to find a selection of my products stocked in Melbourne! I know – interstate even! I have signed an agreement with the wonderful in.cub8r gallery and emporium, found on Smith Street in Fitzroy, to take over one of their ‘cubes’ and make it all about tea!
After that news everything else seems a little pale in comparison, but there actually is more news! The holiday period has been delightful. We have had a house full of visitors several times a week, lots of kids laughing and playing, and generally sharing time happily. And this means that I have had time to get some work done on my business. Planning, scheduling, making and a bit of dreaming have all been happening. I even did my filing and bookkeeping (just a few months or years overdue – ahem). Of course this is how I was able to make the arrangements to start stocking my products in Melbourne. There are further plans like that in the works, but I am sticking to my plan and not getting ahead of myself.
All of that lovely time to work means that there are new products in the pipeline, while some will be quietly retired as not really representing my brand. I am eagerly awaiting some deliveries before I show you part of the new range I have planned, but can share my latest crochet pattern here today. This came about after watching a friend put one of my cosies on her steel teapot. I realised that it’s different shape meant that she was likely to burn her fingers putting the cosy on when the pot was full of hot water, and started looking at a design that would address the massive range of different shapes and sizes that teapots come in. A few different ideas clicked together and the end result is this new design – classic, flexible, a little bit different and ridiculously practical despite it’s beauty!
The theory behind the design is that if you can slip a hot teapot into a cosy without having to fit the cosy over the spout and handle, the chances of being burnt are reduced. So instead of slipping it over the top of the pot, the pot slides in from the side of the cosy, and is then fastened with a cord to shape the cosy to the pot.
The design is so simple that it provides its own embellishment and doesn’t need any added if you want to maintain that classic style.
But of course I can’t just leave things alone, so there is a rainbow and flower version coming along in the next day or so too!
Speaking of rainbows and flowers, here are two recent creations completed and listed in my online shop. The Ladybug’s garden cosies are always popular, and everyone is unique.
And rainbows lend themselves to needing statements, so this time I added a proper statement – “Tea”.
It isn’t quite world domination by tea cosy, but it is a good start!
The next few days here are going to be extremely hot, so my plan is to move between the pool that I bought the children for Christmas (honestly one of the best ideas I have had in a long time) and the beautifully cool family room where my wool is all set up waiting for inspiration to hit while I have downtime from supervising the children making whirlpools and floating in an inflatable flamingo.
Stay cool, leave water out for the animals, and look after yourself. This year is definitely going to be a marathon not a sprint. (And if you are reading this in the northern hemisphere do the opposite – stay warm, and make sure your animals have shelter, but still look after yourself!)
It is only fitting that the last day of the year is the time when I finally sit down to reflect on the year that was. I decided a few years ago to stop saying that the old year was horrible and the New Year would be awesome because there is no magic in turning the page of the calendar. Life is what it is, and if I am always looking forward to the day when it gets better, I will miss the good that is happening right now. With that being said, there is no harm is looking back, reflecting, and planning for different outcomes in the future, so it is with that spirit that I am writing this post.
On the family front 2017 can be summarised as the year of school changes! My middle chick started high school, but after struggling with anxiety issues that interfered with her attendance, changed schools in the second half of the year. Her attendance didn’t improve but her anxiety has, so there are plans in place to support her attendance this year. My boy started the year at one primary school, then shifted to another, across the border, where he was placed in a support class which was much more successful than mainstream classes without the right supports. His attendance was still limited to two hours a day, and then reduced to one hour a day, so in the last few weeks of the school year we transitioned to a combination of school attendance and Distance Education. This is the plan for 2018, so I will be his teacher at home to cover the time when he is not at school. And finally my eldest chick stayed at the same school all year, and made some great progress in her participation in class, and tried out new subjects like Engineering with much joy. At the end of the year, following some health issues, I decided she should go and live with her father for a while so she bid farewell to her school and friends, only for the decision to be reversed after some professional advice about the wisdom of her move. At the moment she is in limbo about which school she will attend in 2018, with several options open to her, including a return to her previous school.
We had our final family stay in hospital in Sydney as part of the ongoing support for managing my boy’s behaviour, and I am proud to say that the staff there couldn’t stop praising us for the major changes that we have made and how well we are doing as a family. The skills that I learned there will stay with me for life and I often find myself thinking ‘What would Tamar (the senior psychologist on our team) say” when faced with a new behavioural challenge. How blessed we are that this service is provided under our Public Health system and didn’t cost me a cent but made such a change to our life.
Supporting three kids with mental health issues, one of whom also has disabilities, is tough work. There are times when, as another one falls apart just when I think everything is going well, I wonder where I went wrong. Luckily there are lots of great people around me who are good at calmly pointing out that I am not the cause of the various issues, and that sometimes life just sucks. I have had some moments of falling apart during the year under the weight of trying to keep everyone’s heads above water, but am happy to be ending the year in a good frame of mind, with solid plans for supporting each child, and continuing the endless search for time for myself!
New teapot earrings made to my own design!
On the farm front we grew our flock by adding a new ram, Gordon Ram-say, who ensured his future with the production of 11 lambs in October, from 7 ewes. Four of our previous lambs went to the butcher at around the same time, and we have since sold two ewes with lambs to our neighbours, so we are currently sitting at 16 head. We renewed our chicken flock and currently have a standing delivery of 4 dozen eggs a week to friends in town, plus plenty for our own consumption, so it is going well – bar the current mite infestation that has me cleaning and spraying the coops every few days, and constantly feeling that I have tiny bugs crawling on me! The realities of farm life!
We acquired a new dog, with Shadow the Belgian Shepherd joining us in August, and then sadly lost our beloved Dottie in the week before Christmas. Our house is a lot quieter without her and we miss her daily.
The biggest change for me was the return to designing and making. After a long period of stagnating, and being uninspired, the return to making started with a desire for a tea cosy for my glass teapot. Then it grew! Between researching and designing reusable teabags, collecting and re-purposing teacups by making candles, and planters, and then making tea themed jewellery, a whole new business has grown up under my existing brand. With that growth I have found a new burst of energy, inspiration and joy. I have attended three markets, and have plans for more in 2018.
Mesh tea infusers with removable charms are one of my new products going into 2018
I also have plans for products that are repeatable (instead of requiring a new design for each product as I have so often in the past) with ideas about selling some through shops as well as online. Whether this all comes to pass or not my brain is happy to be back in use!
Organic cotton resusable tea bags
Heading into 2018 seems a little more full of portent that other years because 2018 is the year I turn 50. I don’t think that there is a lot of magic in turning 50, or that life will suddenly change, but I have decided that there are various things that I can let go of now that I can no longer deny that I am a grown up. Many of my habits have changed over the last few years anyway, so I no longer go shopping for new clothes, no longer worry about what is the latest trend/restaurant/bar/cocktail/book, and no longer worry that I am not worried! Over the last decade I have been practising saying ‘No’, and I plan to continue this for as long as I am around. I am working on identifying when the issue is mine, and when it truly belongs to someone else and therefore shouldn’t worry me. And I am not investing time in people who don’t deserve the small amounts of free time that I have. While my 20’s were about having adventures and learning to fit into my own skin, my 30’s were about building a family and my 40’s were about raising my children as a single parent and restructuring my life to achieve this, my aim for my 50’s is about being kind to myself, my kids and our planet. Anything extra is a bonus!
All of a sudden it is December and I am meant to be thinking about putting up the Christmas tree and getting my presents ready. Having just finished the celebrations for my boy’s 11th birthday it came as a bit of a shock when I realised that my eldest chick finishes school this week and that Christmas is only three weeks away! What have I been doing with myself?
The short answer is focusing on family and on making. The longer answer includes market preparation for a market that was cancelled for technical reasons, managing medical appointments for all three children, and trying to stay on top of the basics like feeding them and keeping the house clean. (Some of those have been more successful than others!)
My son turned 11 last week and wanted to celebrate with a sleepover with three friends. One of them couldn’t make it but the two that did come had a great time and he truly felt that he had celebrated his birthday as he wanted to. Phew! It was pretty low key – I took them to the movies then we came home and made pizza, then they played games, built Lego, shot Nerf guns and slept! Gone are the days of elaborate themed cakes and parties, treasure hunts and party bags, and what a relief that is!!
I have not started on my Christmas making or buying! With not a lot of money around there won’t be extravagant purchases this year, but there will be handmade gifts, made with love and with the person they are being made for in mind. Now to remember to actually make the list and make the gifts! I suspect that, like last year, pyjamas will feature heavily for the younger generation. I like to tell them that it means that they are wrapped in love when they sleep, but really it is because you can’t have too many pairs, and they don’t have to be an exact fit!
As for all the making – well that has been going well. When the market last week was cancelled I even managed to list quite a few of my products in my shop, so feel free to have a browse at what I have there now. A few new tea cosies, some new cacti, jewellery, and even bookmarks have found their way onto my workbench over the last few weeks. I did a big analysis of my products after the last market (just like I recommended in my last post) and did some streamlining of both products and processes as a result. While any handmade business will always be a work in progress, I feel better about my set up at the moment, and ready for the next market I am attending, the Makers + Merchants Twilight Market in Goulburn on 15 December from 5 – 9pm. Goulburn is about 40 minutes up the highway from where I live and I am looking forward to another regional market after the great time that I had at the Gundaroo Market. Being able to meet new customers and talk about my products is fun, and I know a number of the other stallholders who will be attending so catching up with them will be great too!
For now though, I am enjoying the sound of rain on our tin roof, the sight of our tanks and dams overflowing, and the ground soaking it all up. A great day to be at home making and planning and thinking! The danger is, of course, that it means that I am already putting in orders for supplies to use in new product ideas that keep popping up. Next year is going to be busy when all the parcels arrive!
I hope that you have had a great week and that the lead up to Christmas isn’t too crazy. This year my focus is on keeping our celebrations simple and meaningful. We won’t be spending money we don’t have on food we don’t need, or rushing around trying to see all the people we haven’t seen for the last twelve months. Instead I will be working with the kids on making our decorations, making presents for teachers and special friends, and talking about how we can remember the meaning of Christmas and live it in our daily lives. Lofty aspirations are better than none I have decided!
I am preparing to attend my second market in this, my revitalised small business life. And while I would love to report that all has been smooth sailing i would be lying because that is not how life happens. For anyone!
On the product development side I have lots of positive things to report, including new earring designs, key rings, wine charms, stitch markers, and more ideas that are coming together. I have enjoyed finding new ways to make tea related paraphernalia and the process of sourcing supplies, learning new ways to craft things, and thinking about packaging and branding. The products in the following photos are all available in my shop, with more if you would like to see the whole range.
I have also been crocheting away, making tea cosies and delivering orders. This cosy is my current favourite and sold very quickly so I am inspired to play with this style a little more. You really can never have enough ladybirds in your life!
That is all pretty positive isn’t it? What has real life got to do with all of this? My chicks and I have been having a bit of a rough life over the last few weeks. My eldest ended up in hospital for a week unexpectedly (she is receiving great treatment and support for what ails her and will be fine) and the ripple effect through the family is still being felt. Existing struggles with school attendance have been magnified, and anxiety levels are high. I saw a friend briefly this morning after a horrible couple of hours at home and answered her query about how I was with a very breezy ‘I am great’, then realised that I was great in that exact moment, standing in the sunshine on her front step, even though a couple of hours earlier I had wondered if the sky was about to fall in. It is a useful reminder that there are lovely moments even in days of stress.
Big changes are happening in the latest round of strategies to make life better for my chicks. My beautiful boy is now doing a combination of Distance Education and school attendance, which makes me his supervisor. Not a fun job but we have had some nice moments in amongst the tough ones in the short time we have been doing it. The long term challenge here is to understand how he learns best so that I can support him to gain the right skills to go on and succeed in life. He hates to make errors so any process of asking questions or asking him to give answers is fraught with anxiety, and therefore aggression, for him. In order to give him the best chances I need to stay calm when I really want to scream at him to just do it. Oops. Best keep working on not saying that!
Oh how I wish this was true!
My biggest girl is planning a huge adventure, going to live with their father for a while. She will be living overseas, attending an International School, and being exposed to all sorts of amazing experiences. I am going to miss her but this is the best decision for her at the moment and she deserves to have a chance to live as a teenager without feeling responsible for her siblings and her mother. I keep stressing to her that she is not to feel responsible for her father, and that it is his job to look after her, not the other way around, but only time will tell how that one goes. This is not a decision that I thought I would be making, but it was my suggestion that she go, and I am really comfortable that it is the right decision for her, and that we need to try it as an option for her. And seriously – what teenager doesn’t get excited at the thought of moving to the other side of the world and getting to see and do amazing things for a few months or longer?! (I admit openly that I am very envious of the experience she is about to have!)
As for my middle chick, well, she is still struggling at the moment. I haven’t quite worked out the next strategy for her, to help her to feel safe and secure enough to attend school, but I do have a project to keep her busy for the next few weeks. Today we had a blank library box delivered to our house, as part of a larger community project to see 10 little libraries installed in our community. She is going to design and then paint our box before it is installed, possibly at our driveway, to hold books for passersby to borrow, swap, etc. I am really excited about this project so am keeping my fingers crossed that she maintains her enthusiasm too!
The blank canvas is so exciting in its possibilities!
That is the real life part of running a small business. Family and homelife will always have priority, and plans for products and for growing a business will always be affected by whatever surprise event comes along. And that is where the tea comes in. Over the course of the last few weeks as we have moved in and out of crisis mode, tea has been a constant theme. Sharing a cup of tea with a friend as we talk over the latest development in our lives, finding time to sit and drink a cup of tea as a break from being in a hospital room, or sitting at home with a book and a cup of tea to clear my head. Tea has kept me going in the way that wine would have in my younger days. My favourite flavours at the moment are a Red and Green Vanilla Rooibus, and New York Breakfast (a black tea with almost maple syrup notes) and a refreshing herbal green tea. In my younger days (when wine was the answer, not tea) I was a focussed clothes shopper. I could be in Melbourne for a meeting and pop out at lunchtime and buy my year’s wardrobe before getting back to the meeting. (I was living in Darwin and shopping wasn’t great there!) These days I don’t buy clothes and shoes like I used to, but I can hit T2 and stock up on flavours, present my loyalty card and be back at the car within an impressively short space of time. Same focus, just different products!
Anyway, that is it from my little corner of the world. Preparing for the Collected and Created Market in Gundaroo on Sunday 19 November from 10 – 4, living a real life, and drinking lots of tea. I hope your real life is in solution mode rather than survival mode!
It has been a busy couple of weeks on the farm and in the studio. The school holidays have ended, the weather has been steadily improving (in other words getting warmer) and I have been continuing to prepare for my first market.
The return to school was not as smooth as I would have liked with one child struggling to get there at all and another excluded for two weeks on the first day, which means that I have spent a fair bit of time in conversation with various professionals, providers and support people, looking for yet another new strategy. The search for the strategy isn’t over yet but some ideas are starting to come together and some further meetings this week should help to finalise a new plan. Until the next crisis hits and we need another plan. The life of a special needs parent – constantly looking for the next plan, idea, strategy or support. Sigh.
Of course this all eats into my ‘making’ time but I have still been able to work on a few new products over the last couple of weeks. I decided that attending markets means that I need a broader range of price points (because, you know, I am taking my own advice!) so I have produced a range of earrings that are all centred on teacups and tea pots! They have been really well received and I have some further ideas in the pipeline so that is a bit exciting.
I also decided that I needed to express my support for the LBGTIQ community while the same sex marriage survey is going on here in Australia. I have a number of friends who are part of this community and am conscious that the conversations being held in the media and online are hurting people that I love. One of my friends shared a picture of her family making the word ‘yes’ from stones on a beach, as a positive way of expressing how they were feeling. It got me to thinking, and the end result is a rainbow ‘yes’ tea cosy, because that is my way of sharing my feelings.
I managed to get some more candles made, using some new tea scents – chai latte and a rooibus and mango fragrance. The house still smells good!
Then we hit Tuesday. Tuesday was my birthday and I had quietly thought I might take the kids out for a treat, get a bit of time to myself and then go out to dinner with my parents and the children. A gentle, slightly self-indulgent, plan. But nature had something different in mind, so when I woke early on Tuesday it was to my Dad telling me that there were two new sets of twin lambs born. We all rushed down to the paddock and could see one set with their mum , very obviously only just delivered.
The brown and white lamb is a boy while the black and white twin is a girl. We think her spots look like constellations!
Then there were two other babies wandering around amongst all the ewes, being headbutted out of the way quite roughly. Some investigation showed me which ewe was their mother but she was very disinterested in looking after her babies, so we settled in to watch for a while. After a few hours it became obvious that she wasn’t letting them feed – each time they tried to attach to her ginormous teats and udders she kicked them away. This set the pace for the rest of the day – we had to separate her and the twins from the rest of the flock, to pen them and see if she would feed, then to try and help the babies to attach (which involved Dad holding the ewe in a headlock, me holding her back legs, and my mum holding the lamb to the teat. When she continued to push them off we resorted to milking her to get some colostrum for them, and had to make the decision to take the babies and bottle feed them. I second guessed and questioned every decision I needed to make, rang the vet, took advice from others and worried and worried and worried. But we got there in the end – two baby lambs who were tired and hungry were warm and snug in a crate in our house. It took two days before they could attach to the bottle teat themselves – we had to pry their mouths open to get the teat in, but on day 4 I can report that they are happily drinking without aid, and are full of beans, bouncing around on the grass in the outside run and sleeping in the crate inside at night. It has been a little stressful, with middle of the night feeds and worry about their health but we seem to be through the worst of it. Although their mother still has a giant udder she doesn’t seem to have developed mastitis and is wandering around the paddock with the others quite happily. Now to wait for the rest of them to have their lambs! I am quite glad that they didn’t all arrive at once – four was quite enough for one day!
These are our poddy lambs, who are being bottle fed. The brown and white one is a girl, while the black and white is a boy – the opposite of the other set of twins!
My birthday was sort of lost in all of the lamb care and we didn’t go out anywhere but the day ended quite nicely. I had a gin and tonic with my parents, sitting outside enjoying the evening air, then defrosted a curry from the freezer and the children and I sat and talked and laughed while we ate it, then played cards together and went for a walk. That hour together was magical and was the best gift I could have hoped for!
Since then we have had the middle chick’s birthday – she is a teenager now! I finally gave in a bought her a horse for her birthday. The fact that it is plastic and stands about 20 cm high doesn’t seem to have bothered her too much!
I had another cake fail/rescue for her birthday when I discovered that the cream that I had planned to whip for her birthday pavlova was ‘non-whipping’ cream. Gulp! So a batch of thick vanilla custard was made, and cooled down in an ice bath, and served very well as a substitute. It would be nice to make a birthday cake that doesn’t require custard to save it though!
As so often is the case, my week looked nothing like I thought it would, but it has had some lovely moments of joy even though it was completely off script! I hope that your week has had moments of peace and joy too.
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.
The resurgence of my creativity has continued! Over the last couple of weeks I have made more tea cosies, have poured tea-scented teacup candles, have potted succulents in tea cups and have crocheted succulents in tea cups! I have also made more reusable tea bags. The idea of using a theme and creating around it is working well! And being creative continues to be the best therapy for my busy, overwhelmed brain. The last few weeks have been hard, with both my boy and my middle child experiencing difficulties that have impacted on the whole family. Having something creative to sit and do while the world is crumbling really helps my sanity! The fact that people also give me lovely feedback on the output doesn’t hurt either!
This was highlighted this morning when I ducked out to deliver a tiny teacup crocheted cactus to someone who I have communicated with online but haven’t met in person before. On the drive into town I was feeling awful – tired, overwhelmed, and close to tears. But after meeting with this delightful young woman who was genuinely interested in meeting me and in what I do, I walked away with a smile and a much lighter heart. In discussing what I have been doing I also had some ideas on a new product (still in the tea cosy line) that I am going to work on over the weekend. Replacing my feeling of stress with the feeling of being creatively inspired was the best medicine!! That and a cup of tea when I got home and the rest of the day has been much better!
I had a similar experience a few days ago when I received a message from a friend who lives interstate, telling me that she and her husband love what I am doing and want to invest in me, and could they order a pineapple tea cosy like the one I had just made. Now this message on it’s own would have been a highlight, but the author of the message is a very talented artist, whose work I have admired for about 20 years, so to receive that sort of compliment just made me glow inside!!! I am happily working on a new pineapple, tweaking the pattern as I go, because I think I might publish this one too! The lovely thing is that the first pineapple came about as a a result of a comment that one of the women who follows my Facebook page made about another cosy, which has a succulent on top (the green one above). So the collaborative process has been lovely!
Growing this ‘tea obsession’ has meant visits to various op shops, and more frequent visits to Spotlight to buy wool. The funny thing is that I have enjoyed tea and the rituals around making tea for a very long time. But it is only now that my children are noticing how much I enjoy tea – or in the words of my boy, how much I am ‘obsessed’ with tea! I have been taking them op shopping with me, which they enjoy as they get to find things for themselves, and my boy likes to tell the shop assistants that his mum is obsessed with tea and tea cups and tea pots. Then he tells them about all the things I make that he thinks are awesome, and everyone comes away with a smile. I complimented him on his social interaction with some counter staff yesterday, after he told them about the delivery I was making, and he said ‘you are really good at talking to people too Mum.’ To receive such lovely compliments from this boy who has worked so hard to overcome some significant battles has really been lovely. He tells me that my obsession with tea is quite nice really!
These days it is hard to know how to write about the difficulties that my children are facing. They have a right to privacy, and I have to weigh up the greater good of sharing their/my struggles with mental health to reduce stigma, versus their right to privacy. I think that this in part is why I haven’t blogged as much over the last year or so. What I can share is that I have learnt a new appreciation for the public school system, where they have no choice but to embrace diversity and be flexible in their approach to educating students who don’t fit into the ‘normal’ box. While one of my children has thrived in the Catholic education system, the other two have not, and it has been detrimental to their long term mental health. Luckily I know more now, so have felt comfortable making the latest round of changes for my middle child, and she is already happier and more positive. But it means I have to re-establish relationships with yet another school, getting to know the staff, keeping track of how she is being supported, and generally starting from scratch again. That in itself is exhausting, but on the bright side, the new school is the one that my boy will probably attend for High School so at least they will know me by that time!
My collection of tea pots to use as models and for trials is growing!
The other exciting news to share with you from the farm is that it snowed last weekend! With no snow all winter it was nice to have an afternoon of it just before winter ended! The kids and dogs had a great time out in it – even if they refused to dress warmly for it!
While I am still uncertain how all of this tea obsession will go in the longer term, in the short term it is providing joy, and that is what I will focus on! I hope that you are taking care and finding joy in small things around you too.
Well, I have done it – completed my order for a set of tea cosies for the beautiful cafe Le Bon Melange. In the process I think I have perfected my pattern for making the tea cosies, so decided it was time to share it here. This is the first time that I have published a crochet pattern, so please be gentle with me – and let me know if you find any errors!! If you do make a cosy from this pattern I would love to see the end result!
The two sizes of tea cosy plus a coffee press cosy too!
This pattern is for a flat topped one cup tea pot, but I have fitted it to a more rounded one cup pot and it worked just as well. To adjust it to a larger two cup pot the instructions for the top remain the same, it is just the number of rows for the body that change. Once you have the basic body you can then decorate it with whatever you like! Flowers, hearts, frogs – the sky is the limit!
The red pot is the one cup pot and the aqua is the two cup pot. How well do those colours match the wool?!
I used a 4mm crochet hook and 8 ply wool to make this pattern.If you use thicker wool the pattern will still work – it will just end up slightly bigger.
dc double crochet
To start chain 4 and joined with ss
Row 1 Ch 3 then 11 dc into the ring, ss to join to top of the first chain 3 (creating 12 stiches in round)
Row 2 Ch 3, 2 dc in each stitch of round 1, with last single dc in base of initial chain 3 stitch, ss to join
Row 3 Ch 3, *1 dc in next stitch, 2 dc in next stitch* repeat 11 more times, with last dc in base of first ch 3, ss to join
Row 4 Ch 1, ss in next stitch, ss in next stitch, 3 ch and skip stitch, then 1 dc in next stitch, 2 dc in next stitch, *1 dc in next stitch, 1 dc in next stitch, 2 dc in next stitch* repeated 10 times and finish with single dc in last two stitches of round. (This is the top of the cosy)
Row 5 Ch 3, turn and 1 dc in each of next 21 stitches (22 in total)
Row 6 – 8 repeat round 5 then finish.
Return to round 5 and attach wool three stitches from the first half of round five and then repeat round 5 – 8 in order to create the second half of the cosy. Do not finish off at the end of row 8 but continue on.
Row 9 ch 3 dc in each stitch until reaching the end of the row then ch 3 and dc in each stitch of other half of cosy. This creates the join under the spout.
Row 10 – 11, ch 3 dc in each stitch of row, including the joining 3 ch from row 9.
Row 12 3 ch, ss to other side of cosy, then 3 ch, turn and dc in second chain from ss, dc in each stitch until reach the beginning of the row. This joins the cosy under the handle.
Row 13 – optional – ch 1, skip first stitch then ss in each stitch of row 12 and finish with ss into fist ch.
To make this pattern fit a larger 2 cup pot the pattern is the same until row 8 when you should stitch another row before creating the join under the spout in row 10 rather than row 9. Then add in rows so that the final row with the join under the handle is row 15. You can adapt the basic pattern to fit larger pots by adjusting the size of the top and then the length of the body.
I did add a crown to one of the small cosies – I just couldn’t help myself! Here the pattern is shown on a different shaped one cup pot – it is fairly versatile.