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.



Sunday, 23 December 2018

Happy Christmas everyone !

An old fairy I made hanging on this year's tree
Niloo just brought in more pots she has made. I love these.
New! Artist Gemma Bedford's wool and silk large wrap
Another gorgeous art scarf wrap by Gemma Bedford

Today Sunday Handmade Happiness is open from 10 am to 4pm.
 The shop will be closed tomorrow on Christmas Eve and will not officially re-open until Tuesday January 8th.
So today is your last chance to get that special, well-designed handmade gift you've had your eye on!!
Today I'm showing a couple of things I'd like as gifts! The silk/wool scarves from Gemma Bedford's paintings are really big and a lovely soft wrap around for cold days ahead. 
Niloo Wickramasinge has just brought in her latest pots. I love the arty look of these white vases and they are very popular with customers. Niloo, who now lives locally, lived in Japan for 5 years and is influenced by Japanese design and culture.
The fairy is a throwback. I intended to make more fairies this year but somehow got sidetracked into making different things. 
I'll post again after Christmas but from tomorrow it's family time. I wish you a very happy 'family time'. Enjoy your days off and we'll meet again in the New Year.



Thursday, 20 December 2018

Through the square window

Lots of unusual handmade things to buy in Handmade Happiness
Carol Smith brought in more of her popular  bird brooches. £6.50 each
Just in. A new wreath from Brenda Tilbury
Baby mice in walnut shell beds. I've used vintage fabrics on these.
New stitched paintings by Sheila Barrow

So near Christmas and the shop is really busy but every day new stock is dropped off. I am looking forward to doing my 'sales analysis' to see what has done really well this year...

It's all about Christmas because that is when, in common with most shops, Handmade Happiness makes most of its money. That is why it worries me to see so many shops with half price sales on right now in Christmas week. It's a sign of the hard times for retail that shops have to reduce prices at the one time of year when usually they can be guaranteed to sell at normal prices.

 If the situation is that desperate I think we'll see a lot of shops close down in the New Year. After all no-one makes any money in January. January used to be the month when sales were on. But right now it seems that sales really are on all the year round.

I'm taking a break after Christmas and the shop will re-open on January 8th.
Next year plans for Handmade Happiness include a monthly workshop and free 'art therapy' sessions. When the shop is quiet it's the ideal time for people to just sit and paint and make and lose themselves in the creative process. 

By the way. I still need magazine covers. Just tear off the front and back of any 'glossy' magazine you would otherwise drop into the recycling bin and drop them off. I will be grateful! 

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Paper not plastic and appeal for magazine covers

My carrier bags and paper bags

Help! I need more magazine covers to make my carrier bags. If you are puting old magazines into the recycling bin and live near Handmade Happiness please tear off the covers and give them to me instead!
I don't need inside pages just the covers. And I prefer thick, glossy covers from magazines like Vogue, Harpers, House and Garden, Homes and Gardens, World of Interiors and Town and Country.

I've always made little bags from inside pages of magazines and carriers from magazine covers and although it takes time, it must have saved me money...But not if I deliberately buy a magazine just to have its cover and pretty photographs!

I now feel a big pang of guilt every time I put something plastic into the rubbish and I'd like to live plastic free but I think it is next to impossible. In the shop I tried for a while to live without bubble wrap. I used to use bubble wrap for ceramics. Now I feel slightly better about using donated bubble wrap but I'd still prefer not to use it at all.... It's just occurred to me that I could use pages from magazines to wrap pots. I think I'll do that from now on!

Despite the rotten weather yesterday the shop was busy.
Apologies to anyone who visits the shop today, Sunday, expecting it to be open. Last week I looked at my opening times and realised I had no day off between now and Christmas so I crossed out Sunday December 16th. I will be open tomorrow, Monday from 9.30 to 4.30 and then every day not including Christmas Eve when the shop will be closed.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

New Opening Hours until Christmas

Handmade Happiness, 9a Dragon Street, Petersfield, Hants. GU31 4JN
Feeling so lucky to rent this shop. It's 400 years old you know!
Note earlier opening of 9.30am,  open every day in the week before Christmas and NOT opening on Christmas Eve

There were times on Saturday when I longed for an assistant to help me with sales it was sooo busy. I ran out of my handmade paper bags and was sellotaping them together as I served people. 

To make the most of the Christmas season I am opening more often in the run up to Christmas. Just in case you can't read the tiny writing under the sign:

Earlier opening of 9.30am; Open every day including Sunday and Monday in the week before Christmas  and this year, HH will not be open on Monday Dec 24th, Christmas Eve.

After Christmas HH is having a make-over and will re-open in January, date to be decided.
Happy Christmas shopping everybody!

I often put pictures on Instagram before I put them on my blog if you want to follow it's jenny_handmade_happiness
And if you've stumbled on this blog by chance it's jennystacy.co.uk

Friday, 7 December 2018

My Cards and Brenda's Christmas wreaths

I love making cards like this. 'Christmas hug' by Jenny Stacy
Different colours but still a Christmas hug by Jenny Stacy
Giant Catherine Wheel wreath  made by Brenda Tilbury
All natural gold sprayed wreath by Brenda Tilbury 
Smaller, lightweight wreath with feathers by Brenda Tilbury

I am loving the process of making Christmas cards this year. With all the rain, the depressing Brexit news etc. hunkering down to paint, tear papers and draw has felt especially therapeutic. I made a dozen and in a minute I'll finish off a dozen more so I can hopefully take more into work today. I'm also enjoying making more mice in walnut shell cradles. The current batch I'm making at work have really old fabric bed covers ie. old eiderdown fabric.

This week Brenda has brought in more of her popular wreaths. Brenda walks in all weathers and picks up all the cones, leaves, twigs and berries she uses as she walks along. She can even twiddle a bunch of twigs into a wreath shape as she walks. Huge respect to this woman!

Yesterday I was happy to get another stock delivery from Kate Box. Her wrist warmers and neckwarmers are so popular at this time of year, both for keeping customers warm and for giving away as well-received Christmas presents.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

New in Handmade Happiness

The latest creations by Niloo Wickramasinge have a delicate appeal
I made some mice in walnut shell beds


It's December!
And suddenly fairy lights are sparkling and all those little Christmas bits and pieces are out on display! It's the seventh Christmas for Handmade Happiness and I am determined to make it the best ever!

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Rainy Days and Mondays

Charlotte Brightwell's dog portrait Christmas cards are in the shop now
Kate Box's colourful knitwear in the shop now.
Enormous Christmas tree and the Spinacker Tower at Portsmouth's Gunwharf Quays
New shop at Gunwharf Quays

It's a very wet week. That means people aren't out and about shopping. This time last year I was making the best money of the year. But this year what with the rain and b___ Brexit  not to mention internet shoppping, Handmade Happiness along with every other shop in the UK is struggling to survive.

  2018 has been the toughest year so far!
Every day visitors tell me HH is a beautiful shop. Every day people say they wish they could buy everything in the shop and every day people say they'll come back when they have more time. Oh yes and every day people say they are cutting back on Christmas spending this year. And the weather forecast says rain next week as well! Ok enough moaning! Today could turn out to be the best day of the year in HH and if I didn't always think optimistically I would have closed down long ago!!

On Monday afternoon I went to Gunwharf Quays and really enjoyed looking round the outlet stores there among the sparkly Christmas lights! Years ago when I worked at a Petersfield shop called Tricot Too it stocked a clothes brand called American Vintage. Soft cotton clothes I always admired in timeless styles. So I was pleased to see they've now opened an outlet store there.
Although, before you get too excited, the prices are quite a bit higher than prices at the nearby Marks and Spencer outlet store!!


If you want to see more of Charlotte Brightwell's brilliant artwork (she also does child and pet portrait commissions) go to studio85.uk 
Handmade Happiness has lots of her Christmas cards, each showing a different breed of dog.

Kate Box's lovely knitwear always makes well-received presents. Right now HH has a good selection so come in and have a look. 






Tuesday, 20 November 2018

These are what I bought!

Made by Diane Higgins, I fell in love with these embroidered felt baby shoes!
Diane Higgins makes felt which she then embroiders.
And the other foot! Such beautiful work by Diane Higgins

Just occasionally I am utterly blown away by someone's talent!
I call it the Wow factor.
Diane Higgins works all year to produce enough of her exquisite designs for Sparkle at Teddington. Having taught textiles all her life, she now makes felt scarves, and embroidered Christmas decorations and baby shoes for this annual sale.
I had a hard job choosing what to buy! My daughter urged me to buy a Christmas decoration but I couldn't resist these baby shoes. As Diane said I could always fill them with chocolate coins and hang them from the Christmas tree. But today I will run a gold thread through each shoe and hang them in the window at Handmade Happiness for everyone to admire and say 'Wow! What a talent!'