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!
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!
This year has started with a bang but I still feel like I am back in the twilight zone between Christmas and New Year, where I am never really sure what the date or day is. I find myself constantly wondering if March is a long way away, and being unsure of which weekend it is that various events are happening. I swear it is because my brain is too full, and not because of my advancing years.
Despite this sense of time escaping me, or perhaps because of it, I have been rather productive. I have been analysing what works for me in my product lines,and what was a great idea but hasn’t really translated well. As a result I am working on producing my tea cosies in ‘collections’. I am still to fully tease out the names of these collections, but in theory there will be a classic collection, a colourful collection and an artisan collection. I am not rushing into the final details for this plan because it seems to be benefiting from some reflection and refinement! As part of the classic collection I have been working on some repeatable patterns, with the intention of being able to keep them easily stocked in my shops, and with the longer term intention of releasing the patterns for them. So far the classic collection consists of spots and stripes!
I also finally had a chance to play with an idea I have had for a while of combining patchwork and sashiko stitching to make some insulated dome tea cosies, and I am very happy with the results.
And of course some flowers were created and applied with gay abandon to a number of cosies.
One of the lovely discoveries that I have made over the last month or so, with thanks to a helpful friend, is the wool from Bendigo Woollen Mills. It is wool that is grown near my home, and processed and died in Bendigo, so is 100% Australian. It is also beautiful quality wool, so I am switching over to only use that wool in all future creations, which means that I will be supporting other Australian small business people in the process.
And I finally have my products in place at The Collective Store in Brisbane, and in Trove in Canberra. (On reflection perhaps my sense of displacement in time has more to do with the sheer amount I have achieved so far this year!)
My initial display at Trove, Canberra
On the home front we have a slightly different landscape after my eldest chick was accepted to attend a boarding school located about 4 hours from home. She has settled in well and is discovering the differences between her all-girl Catholic school and this co-ed agricultural fully residential high school. She will be home at the end of this week for a few days and I am looking forward to seeing her. I must admit that I am very happy that the advent of smart phones means that I can stay in touch with her much more easily than when I was at boarding school myself. Back then (in the dark ages) my sister and I had a phone call from my parents once a fortnight, or we had to dial the international operator to make a reverse charges call to them, and letters written and mailed that took a couple of weeks to arrive. Now I can be texting with her before breakfast, send her a photo of something happening at home, and she has it instantly. I am trying not to smother her with contact, but it is nice knowing that it is there when she needs it.
The two chicks who are still home in the nest are having their ups and downs. I, and they, have fallen back into some old habits, which means that old patterns of behaviour aren’t changing in the way that I need them to. My current task is to form new habits myself, and then with them, in the hope of improving behaviour and school attendance respectively. This parenting gig is hard and I have been tested a lot over the last few weeks. I am definitely at the point of needing a break, so am working on putting steps in place to see if I can manage some time away. Fingers crossed!
For now though, it is time to sit and contemplate whether to crochet or sew this evening. Tough choices! I hope that your weeks aren’t getting lost in the fog of being too busy, and that you are finding time to do little things for yourself.
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.
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.