Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Easter bunnies

Cashmere bunnies holding Lindt eggs by Jenny Stacy
Cashmere bunnies with sewn on flowers by Jenny Stacy
100% cashmere bunnies made by Jenny Stacy. Lovely fabric was a gift from Niloo.

I can't decide if I like the ones with flowers or the ones without flowers best. These are the softest little bunnies and just right to be held by a little one or to be secretly in the pocket of an older one.And of course adults can buy them for themselves! At £4.50 each they are reasonably priced and being embroidered and stuffed with toy safe kapok totally safe.

Easter is on April 21st this year and, from today the little knitted chicks will each have a  replaceable Lindt egg inside them and be available to buy at just £1 each. Knitted Easter baskets £2.50 and Sue Inglis' imaginative knitted Easter decorations - bunnies, chicks, lambs and carrots all £6.

Time for my 'painting a day' before getting ready for work. Have a good day everyone!

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Anne Tomlin made these!

Blown away by the talent of Anne Tomlin!
Flowers made by Anne Tomlin
A daisy chain entirely created by Anne Tomlin

Yesterday I went to a talk on 'My Life in Textiles' given by the artist-maker Anne Tomlin. Anne makes hats and flowers for both jewellery and decoration. Her creations are extremely life like and she has devoted her life to studying nature to see how to copy it as accurately as possible.

If you want to find out more about her classes, her work or perhaps invite her to give a talk to the group you belong to her website is annetomlin.com and her Instagram name is annetomlinflowers.

I feel so lucky to be attending one of her workshops in Petersfield next week. I look forward to sharing my experience with you afterwards.

Monday, 18 March 2019

In Handmade Happiness

Thank you to the person who left a pile of magazines on my doorstep for me to make into bags
Ceramic brooches made by Samantha Robertson for sale in HH
Samantha Robertson's work in Handmade Happiness

In these uncertain Brexit times it is important to take time out for yourself. Handmade Happiness is an oasis of handmade calm! Everything in it is designed and made from scratch by one individual. British craft by British craftspeople - pure and unadulterated.
It is energising and inspiring just to look around so VISIT!!

When I was younger I had the opportunity to get my designs copied abroad and this is one of the ways that craftspeople can make money in an easier way. I didn't like the idea, choosing to be poor but happy. It's like stepping from making into industry or more accurately to become the designer and not the maker. Whatever is right for you. But Handmade Happiness will continue to promote only things made in this country by one individual and that's that. I wonder if it is unique in that respect?

I'm continuing to do a painting a day and if you feel you'd like to do this do give it a try. I've also made quite a few bunnies with Easter in mind. I'll show you those next time!


Tuesday, 12 March 2019

A painting a day

Water. Jenny Stacy paints every day!
Circles 1. Jenny Stacy paints every day!
Gold splash abstract by Jenny Stacy
Flower meadow by Jenny Stacy
Gold and colour. Jenny Stacy paints.
Flowers on blue by Jenny Stacy

Every morning I paint for an hour or two before breakfast. I started this regime a fortnight ago and I really enjoy playing and experimenting with paints and water and lately, a touch of gold.

Do you make or paint every day?

I am knitting a lot at the moment but I find painting a lot more satisfying somehow.
I used to paint sheets of paper only to tear them up into little pieces for collage and no doubt some of these efforts will end up being torn up. But maybe they will be practice pieces for something better to come. I find that I am learning what works and what doesn't look good as I go.

And for someone who has never had an art lesson in her life that is valuable experience. So I'm having fun playing with paint every morning and it would be great if everyone had the same opportunity to get a bit of art therapy into their lives. 

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Knitting and Stitching Show - sights and observations

Some fine needle felting
A pretty stall selling vintage habadashery - E62 Simple Vintage Designs
These fake flower crowns were selling like hot cakes at just £1 each!

What I bought - Drops yarns from Blackbird Designs and felt pieces from 'Woolie and Feltie'

I noticed more stalls selling individual dress making patterns, more needle felt animals and a lack of textile graduates work. I normally go to the October Knitting and Stitching show at Alexandra Palace but I was pleased I visited its Spring equivalent at Olympia yesterday.

So crowded and the queue for a cup of tea almost convinced people they weren't really thirsty! But I met Sue Stratford who wrote the knitting pattern book Knit Me, Dress Me Love Me as well as lots of other pattern books and I had a good chat with her and bought her latest book on knitting garden birds which will be fun to try.

I hate to close the shop for an odd day and I do hope no-one was disappointed to find it closed yesterday. But quite honestly February and January are the quietest months shopwise and I feel it's important to visit these shows in search of new makers.

The next show I'll visit - but I can go at night after work to this one - is the Contemporary Textiles Show at Landmark Arts, Teddington. It's on the weekend of March 23rd and 24th. If you love textile art you'll love this show.

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Art therapy

Energy by Jenny Stacy
Waterfall by Jenny Stacy
Colour play by Jenny Stacy

Did you know that painting gives you energy? I didn't.  I usually paint paper to tear it up again and use in collage cards. But this week I painted 'Colour Play' and found I didn't want to tear it up. I liked it as it was. And that same day I was on my feet all day, full of energy.

I decided to cover a piece of paper with paint every day. A painting a day. I get up early and have time to do a painting or write emails before getting ready for work. I highly recommend doing this and I guess that practice makes perfect - well not perfect but you know what I mean!

Are you a lark or an owl? My brain goes to sleep as darkness falls but I can achieve quite a lot first thing in the morning. Definitely a lark. But if you are an owl you could paint at night. Art therapy - in an ideal world everyone would have access to it. I heard on the radio that one forward thinking medical practice actually prescribes it. Making or painting and getting absorbed by what you are doing is so beneficial. I expect you know this already. Visitors to the shop say the trouble is finding time to be creative in their busy lives but they really want art in their day...

By the way the top painting I did today. The middle one was the day before yesterday and the bottom one was yesterday's effort. If I get any comments I'll be encouraged to show you further daily daubs. If not I'll share other things instead. Enjoy your day.


Sunday, 24 February 2019

Just buy a card!

The latest knitted boy!
 
A girl with pig tails! Knitted by Jenny Stacy


As a shop keeper struggling to find the rent each month I am getting increasingly frustrated with the 'We're just looking' brigade! Before I had a shop I am sure I used to go into pretty shops to look around and often leave empty handed. But from the other side of the counter every sale, however small, counts towards all the overheads a shop has to pay every month regardless of how much (or little) money has been taken!!

If everyone who came through the door bought just one card ( and the starting price for a card in Handmade Happiness is just £1.95) it would make a difference.

Ironically it is just those people who love the shop the most and tell me how beautiful/ special/ 'I could buy it all' it is, that don't spend. The quiet, purposeful customer who knows exactly what she wants and buys it or the hurrying men who have to get something but want to be out of the door as quickly as possible are the ones who contribute to paying the rent.

In these Brexit-anxious days most people are trying not to spend. But please, we all need cards. Buy one now for when you need it. HH has a great selection.

And to those enthusiastic people who love to come in and be inspired but never buy, you may find that  the next trip you make to Handmade Happiness may be a waste of a journey. It will have closed down and you will be really disappointed. Then you may wish that you had supported the shop by buying something there just be keep it open for you to enjoy 'just looking'...

Saturday, 16 February 2019

More knitted dolls and the most unromantic card ever!

I've enjoyed knitting these little dolls ...
Imagine receiving this on Valentine's Day!!

This week I have been using leftover yarn to knit little men. I was intending to knit three little women so each man could have a partner but two of the ladies turned into little boys. And actually I like the little boys best.

I feel desperately sorry for anyone who received an unromantic card on Valentines Day! I spotted this one and hid it behind lots of nicer ones, hoping no-one bought it! It takes the prize along with another one I saw with just a picture of a sloth on it.

I agree with people who are reminding us that Valentines Day is a chance to think of all the people we love - partners of course, but also children, our parents, grandchildren and good friends. And to tell them that!

Friday, 8 February 2019

New in the shop and creative happenings

Little knitted men. 
Niloo Wickramasinghe's beautiful ceramic pots
Rubecula Thread's new purses. Knitted and lined with velvet backs.
Spring flowers for a dark and rainy winter's day!


 It's official! I've been talking about doing workshops and free 'creative sessions' in the shop for ages and yesterday I sent out an email to all those who have come in to the shop asking about workshops.

A couple of years ago I rented Winton House at night and we had a series of successful Handmade Happiness workshops there but now I want to do something in the shop during the day because frankly it's too darn quiet at this time of year and it would be great to have the company of like minded people sitting round the table making something gorgeous while enjoying a good chat!

These 'creative sessions' will be free of charge. And there will also be once a month workshops to learn something and use materials provided. These will cost £20 and will be bookable in advance as there is only room for 6 people at a time. The first one on Experimental Knitting will take place on Wednesday February 20th. Email for more info at jennystacy6@gmail.com

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Workshop news

Decorative heart I've just made, hopefully the first of many.The smoothly turned wood bowls are made by Harry Butler.


Exceptionally the shop will be closed this Thursday and Friday (January 31st and February 1st)  At this time of year the shop is quiet anyway what with it being January and the freezing cold weather...But I would hate for anyone to travel to the shop and then find it closed so I'm hoping that doesn't happen.

The shop is open as normal next week and I will be there tomorrow (Wednesday) and on Saturday. 

Is anyone else out there in the midst of tax calculations? It's always such a good feeling when it's done for another year! I've completed my tax return this morning. Hurray! 

Next month will see the first in-shop workshop of 2019. I will send out details at the weekend to all those who've expressed an interest.

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Making Valentines cards

Painted papers collage Valentines card by Jenny Stacy
Painted  papers Valentines card by Jenny Stacy
Embroidered 'love' Valentines card by Jenny Stacy

Yesterday I made Valentine's cards. I started off embroidering the word 'love' but this took too long so I then stitched a heart button to a piece of collage cut out in a small heart shape and I think this looks just as nice.

I did the same with the dolls I made most recently. The first one has an entirely embroidered face and actually I like it the best. But it takes a long time to do this level of detail on something you want to sell for a reasonable price so the rest of the dolls have painted faces with just a little bit of embroidery for definition.

This balancing of price and maker's time is interesting. Some makers don't even take their time into the equation. That quilt may have taken them three years to make but they know they can't charge for their time or no-one could afford to buy it. And other makers are happy if they just make back the price of their stand when selling at a craft show. 

But makers who are relying on the money earned from their efforts have to carefully weigh up whether something is even worth making based on the time it takes, cost of materials and, most importantly the highest price anyone is prepared to pay for that item....

Therefore there have to be some short cuts....that is why even though I'd prefer to spend the time embroidering the word 'love' on each card I can't let myself do that.

By the way there was another card with 'love' embroidered on it but it sold while still wet from my making table to a man who said he'd tell his wife he made it himself!! 

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Half price Sale starts today

Jenny Stacy dolls now half price
Bead necklaces made by me are also in the sale

For the first time ever Handmade Happiness is having a sale which starts today.
 Only my own makes and some things I've bought from makers are included in the sale:
Dolls reduced from £29 to £15; Necklaces reduced from £29 to £15; half price baby knitwear and jewellery. Anything on the central table is in the sale.



Thursday, 17 January 2019

Making days

My knit bracelets with charm or button. Jenny Stacy

I sit in my little shop and make stuff. I also do my taxes - due on the last day of this month. I tidy, clean and sort. But mostly I wait for someone to come through the door.

It's January, the quietest month. The rain is soaking and the temperature has plummeted. So it's not surprising that no-one is out and about. The news is not encouraging with Marks and Spencer closing down more stores - they are gradually losing 100 of their shops ... and more small independent shops are closing locally.  Nearly everyone prefers to buy online.

Yesterday just one person came in to the shop. It is quite tempting to give it up and close down too. Only my pride and stubborn determination keeps me going. When I go (if I go) it will be with a 'bang and not a whimper' as TS Elliot says.

But seriously, think about your local shops. If you never go in there, not even for a card, they will disappear. Are you happy about that?

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Get Cosy!

Handmade Happiness window
Handmade Happiness window detail
Kate Box's cosy knitwear and Jenny Stacy's cashmere bunnies
Nice old buttons from a customer's collection
When it's cold and dark flowers are needed!

 January should be an exciting time!. New opportunities, new ideas. lots of plans for a bright, bright future. But I admit I've lost my way a bit lately. This country is depressed and confused about Brexit. People, sensibly, are choosing to hang on to their money and not spend it  because who knows what the future has in store for us? There isn't any confidence that things will be better without Europe that's for sure and that lone pioneer spirit eludes me!!

All around me shops are closing down. Tallulah Fox, next door but one is checking out and so is a High Street jeweller. We've recently lost Clarke's shoe shop, Morrisons, Petersfield Electrical and New Look. Other retaillers will close down soon. Charity shops move in to empty premises and charity shops and online shopping is what people seem to prefer.

On the plus side I have notebooks full of new ideas to make. I want to travel and find exciting new makers. And I want to do something with plastics - the non-recyclable soft kind like polythene and cling film. Some authorities re-cycle food packaging but not East Hampshire I regret to say. 

Don't you feel bad every time you put plastic into the bin? I do and instead I'm stuffing it into a plastic bottle which my daughter says can be used in building although in building what I'm not quite sure... But I think there is a prettier use for all this unwanted plastic ...I have an idea I just need to devote a few hours to experimenting now.

Meanwhile the shop is getting an early spring clean and I'm making at my worktable.  After the Christmas rush, January opening hours are back to:
 Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday 9.30am to 4.30pm  


Saturday, 29 December 2018

Beautiful Bath

Vintage textile emporium
Typical street  view. Cheese shop on left
Inside a stylish Bath shop
This massive tree dominates a town square

Early on Christmas Eve I drove to Bath to join family in a house we rented near the city centre. If you haven't been to Bath I urge you to go and if you've been before I'm sure you'll want to go again. The locally-quarried yellow stone buildings look so solid and imposing. I imagine they are unchanged since Jane Austen visited The Pump Room in Bath.

A lot of the shops were closed and I really wanted to see inside Susannah's pictured top. This shop houses handmade items from genuine antique French vintage fabrics and you can even buy packs of old fabrics for a reasonable price to make things with yourself. See more on their website cloudsandangels.com

Just opposite Susannah's was a shop with room sets straight off the pages of House and Garden. Wish I'd taken note of the name. Sorry.

So good to be with my three children, their partners and my four grandchildren. Highlights for me were playing with the little ones and once they were in bed, Articulate, Bananagrams and quizzes with the adults! 

Now I'm home again cleaning and organising home and shop and doing a bit of re-decorating before the shop re-opens on Tuesday January 8th.