Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Amersham and The Chilterns




Our lunch at The Grocer

Old Amersham is probably the most attractive town I've ever visited. It's like being in a period film set. Just picture perfect. And the countryside around is the rolling green Chiltern Hills.

 This visit, my daughter and I climbed the hill at the back of the cemetry  and admired the fantastic view pictured above. It makes you feel lucky to live in England's 'green and pleasant land' and envious of the locals who live in houses like the one pictured above. 

But maybe it's enough to visit once in a while and enjoy the great food at The Grocer where we ate mozzarella and avocado salad with goat's cheese and roasted vegetable toasted sandwiches at lunchtime.  There's a good charity shop in Amersham and an excellent toy shop called Ring O Roses.

Meanwhile back at the coal face (!) ie. Handmade Happiness I am busy making unusual necklaces. Pictures to come!

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Talking about presents

Harry Butler makes pens and bowls from local woods. The ballpoint is from sycamore, the fountain pen from beech and the bowl from birch wood
Ruth Ellacott makes rag rugs and applique pictures.

Buying something other than clothes for the men in your life can be difficult. Yes, you can get them a bottle or two or fancy food but to find something different that you think he'll really appreciate is hard. 

I think most men would enjoy using the pens that Harry Butler makes. The smooth wood is a pleasure to hold and the fountain pens are unexpectedly weighty. 

I've sold several of Ruth Ellacott's arty rag rugs in the past. They're a bit special too and often trigger memories of peoples' grannies using every bit of worn out fabric that would otherwise be thrown away or used as cleaning cloths to create rag rugs during and just after the second world war. Make do and mend. Now that we're trying to cut down on the amount of rubbish we produce that old expression might come back into fashion.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Flowers for the weekend

Colourful tulips
These smell nice
Pretty  as cup cake decorations!
A smart chauffeur and his vintage car yesterday

I was lucky to spot these tulips in Waitrose as it was closing for just 65p - reduced right down from £10. Who could resist?  I don't know what the white flowers are called - stephanotis(?) but as I passed them they smelled divine! And seeing violas always makes me want to paint some on something!

There was a Victorian Day in the Square yesterday run by the Museum. This smartly dressed man was telling people about the well-maintained car behind him. 

I got some old design notebooks down from the loft - I've always recorded what I'm making and more interestingly what I intended to make but somehow didn't get round to. 

I'm visiting Dulwich today. I'll take an old notebook to read on the train.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

New Flyer and new Kate Box baby blankets

Advertising Handmade Happiness - new flyer
Kate Box has made some beautiful new baby blankets for Handmade Happiness


So pleased to receive these beautiful baby blankets made by Kate Box. They are the softest thing, not to mention the most stylish thing to wrap your baby in. And if you don't have a baby you can wrap one round your neck or shoulders as a warm scarf!

I also collected 100 flyers from the printers yesterday. These will be used to publicise the shop. It isn't in the centre of town and some people still haven't discovered it.

Those of you who know me well know that I couldn't have made that flyer myself. I can cope with blogging and instagramming but I can't design anything online.

 Amy Lague set it up and then Duleep Wickramasinghe, my friend Niloo's husband, kindly gave it his time and attention to give it the professional look it has now. Thank you so much Amy and Duleep. As my mother always used to tell me, I am lucky with my friends. So true.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Natural knitting wool now in Handmade Happiness!

Sacks of yarn arrived in the post yesterday!
Some of it went straight in the window!

Before I opened Handmade Happiness seven years ago I wanted it to sell wool.
My dream then was to have a habadashery shop which also sold beautiful examples of things that could be made with the things it sold. The best craft I could find, made from the best materials!

However there is already a wool shop in the area at Liss so the yarn companies that supplied them could not supply me. That is the reason Petersfield has no wool shop. 

So Handmade Happiness has always just sold the wonderful things people create and no craft materials. 

But now I am re-visiting the original dream by stocking alpaca yarn, 100% wool and half wool, half cotton yarn. Everything natural and soft. It's what I use for knitting and crochet.  I'll let you know how customers react.

However the new yarn will only take up a fraction of shop space. The main focus is still the work of talented artists, most of whom live in and around  Petersfield.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Grayshott shops etc

New interiors shop Bells and Whistles has these cosy sheepskin slippers and pink sheepskin rug
I loved looking round these two shops
Recycling bits and pieces into necklaces and brooches
Walking at The Hangers near home.

I'd always wanted to visit Grayshott having heard good things about the shops there and yesterday I went and was not disappointed!

Bells and Whistles, top picture, is a new, pretty interiors shop. Even on the hottest day of the year I thought how cosy these Swedish sheepskin slippers would be in winter and the pink sheepskin rug would look fab in a girls' room.

Hill and Co is a spacious shop housing lovely, colourful clothes and all kinds of unusual gifts. I admire the kantha quilts, especially the ancient ones with tiny running stitch embroidery on faded colour cottons. Hill and Co also had some nice painted furniture and attractive jewellery.

When I went into Pins and Needles, a wool and fabric shop, the owner, Fiona was patiently explaining to someone over the phone how to knit...I was immediately impressed with her patience and level of customer service!!

Even more so when she came off the phone and told me that the customer needed instruction but had bought her wool and pattern online, not even from Pins and Needles! 

The last thing I need is more wool but I couldn't resist buying some colourful balls of a silk blend yarn that I'll crochet with.

I'm thinking a lot about making things out of stuff we'd normally throw away. And I realised, looking at my simple jewellery that it is all made from bits and pieces of no value to most people. It's recycling or upcycling and I must try to include more obvious rubbish in it as long as that can be done in an attractive way....

Two of my children and their families visited on Bank Holiday Monday. And on one of the hottest days of the year we went on a cool walk at The Hangers where I photographed this little waterfall. 

Then on to the Queen's Head at Sheet where the two babies could sit on the impressively clean lawn. I'd love to show you a picture, especially the one of my son and daughter, both with their babies strapped to them walking together. I feel so lucky. But I resolved at the beginning of this blog that family are off limits. The blog is about the shop, making and what I've been up to even though family and friends are, of course, the most important things in life...



Saturday, 5 May 2018

Eleanor Childs paintings

View near Cocking by Eleanor Childs
South Downs view by Eleanor Childs

Eleanor Childs has just delivered two paintings showing local views to Handmade Happiness. It is lovely to see people recognise places they walk or even views they can see from their house as happened with the last one of Eleanor's paintings sold in the shop!

Petersfield is officially in An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and I feel very lucky to live here. I plan to walk across part of the Downs with two of my children and their families on Monday. I'm really looking forward to that.

Meanwhile it's Saturday again and the busiest day in the shop.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

In the shop now

Potter Justine Jenner's 'beakers' 
Textile artist Kerry Lucas' knitted bears aka craftykestrel
Artist Sheila Barrow's painted and stitched landscape

Handmade Happiness has so many good things to admire and to buy.


If I have any talent it is for selecting  the best art and craft I can find. Many years ago I had an agent and some of my best orders were achieved through her. I think I would be a good agent. But I am an agent just for my lovely shop.

Looking back at some of my earliest blog posts the blog was all about me and what I was making and who it was for. Now the blog is about other peoples' work and promoting the shop. So like it or not I've turned from being a maker into being an agent! I hope that over the course of this year through frequent blog posts you'll see me making more while at the same time continuing to draw your attention to other makers of good things.

Monday, 30 April 2018

Emsworth Arts Trail

Eloise Biddlecombe's hand embroidery
Anita Bell's stitching on papers
Jane Fox teaches drawing 

Yesterday I found Eloise Biddlecombe, Anita Bell and Jane Fox on the Emsworth Arts Trail. 
If you live near Emsworth the trail runs over next weekend as well May 5,6 and 7.emsworthartstrail.org.uk

Eloise eloisebiddlecombe.co.uk  does bold, colourful hand stitching. With a degree in illustration her subjects are fruit and she can also be commissioned to do a very likelike stitch representation of peoples' dogs. Her stand in the Emsworth Community Centre stood out for its cheerful larger-than-life portraits of fruit. Just the thing for a very cold day.

Anita Bell who dyes papers and then stitches into them can be found just off the High Street. Again, colour is her thing and visitors were drawn to her large, colourful framed works of art. anitabellpaperworks.com 

I had an interesting conversation with Jane Fox who teaches drawing courses at the Emsworth Community Centre twice a week. Visitors were invited to make marks with sticks and homemade brushes, dipping into coffee and inks. Some people drew actual still life style pictures but most enjoyed just playing with different mark-making tools. Check out mymanyhats.co.uk

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Bear candles and partying guinea pigs!

Pure beeswax candles made by Elizabeth Eveleigh. Birthday cakes, hives and my favourite bears!
Sue Inglis designs and makes these guiinea pigs and mice in their party hats! Great b'day present!
Glen Welstead made this colourful rag rug. 

Every time someone visits Handmade Happiness for the first time I appreciate all the unusual, beautiful gifts it offers to customers. It really is a special place with a unique selection of gifts that everyone seems to appreciate.

I've been looking back over nearly 10 years of blog writing. I used to make all the time and now I squeeze in making with the paperwork and chatting involved in managing a shop. I want to make more things and perhaps adapt some of my older designs for the shop now. And with so much buying online now I need to sell online as well as in the shop...

By the way the rag rug sold a while ago. I just wanted to share it as another example of great craftmanship!

Saturday, 28 April 2018

New in Handmade Happiness and this blog is nearly 10 years old!

Blue tit  by Tanya Williamson, one of several of her new framed pictures in the shop
New cushions made by Tanya Williamson  with bowls by Justine Jenner and pots by Niloo
A perfect camellia from the garden
This week Tanya Williamson has brought in lots of new cushions and new framed pictures. Kate Box has just added to her popular wrist warmers and neckwarmers and I've made some more jewellery. The shop is well stocked for a busy Saturday.

I just read the first posts I wrote on this blog. I started writing it when frantically busy preparing for the Country Living magazine show in Islington. I used to do that show every year and I thought it would be fun to write about the lead up. First post September 22nd 2008.

 By October 2008 I was writing about the dream to own my own shop. Back then I didn't seriously think that owning a shop was possible. I lived in Chichester then and shop rents were impossibly expensive. I couldn't have owned a shop in Chichester but I do own a shop in Petersfield. 

I wonder if consistently writing a blog for nearly 10 years is some sort of a record? This blog has had it's ups and downs. When it started all the readers were British. Now over half are American and often there's as many French readers as British ones. The comment option has never been used and that's ok. I can see from the stats that plenty of you are still looking at it. So thank you. 

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Clean planet


There is a new UK Plastics Pact which lots of companies have signed up to which promises to reduce plastic wrapping by 2025.

But why wait?

It seems that any promised action is always for way into the future. But action is needed now.

 Communities are doing litter picks and everyone I know is trying to avoid buying anything wrapped in plastic at the supermarket. But it's difficult when nearly everything in the supermarket seems to be packaged in a plastic bottle or have cling film or polythene round it...

I am trying to look at the worst plastic offenders - like black plastic veg trays, plastic netting (on fruit)  and cling film with a creative eye.
Can these objects be made into something attractive? Or better still, into something both useful and beautiful!

I've got a few ideas and I'll be experimenting in the shop. As soon as possible I'll offer a free workshop in Handmade Happiness for anyone that's interested.
Meantime I'll keep jotting down ideas in my notebook and puting plastic rubbish into a big bag for creative upcycling!

Although it's way ahead there are two events I want to mention in October.

Firstly on Saturday October 6th friends and I will give free workshops in the Festival Hall, Petersfield as part of a charity event for Home Start Butser.

 Secondly on October 14th it's the annual outing from Petersfield to the Knitting and Stitching Show in London. If enough people want to go (we need at least 35) a coach will run from the Festival Hall car park. A list you can add your name to will be in Handmade Happiness or just email me.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

No more plastic!

Cushion bags made with fabric I bought in India

Fringed napkins become a cushion bag
This week's charity sale bargains, details below

I want the shop to be a plastic-free zone.

Since Handmade Happiness opened, nearly 7 years ago now, I have always made small bags and carrier bags from old magazines customers kindly give me. But the cushions are too big for my bags so I have had to buy 'bags for life' from Marks and Spencer just for the cushions.

But recently I've had the sewing machine out and I've made the three bags above especially for the cushions. Now I have no reason to buy plastic...
except that I usually wrap pottery and paintings in bubble wrap. Instead, I've been using thick paper that a customer gave me from their Amazon purchases but it's not quite as protective as bubble wrap...

I had a lovely conversation with a lady who lives next door to a sheep farm and she wondered if felt made from the fleeces would be a good wrapping material for pottery.  Soft felt sheets would be ideal. And, as these coincidences happen, another lady on Saturday asked if I would like some felt sheets she has that an organic veg supplier from Devon uses to protect fruit and veg. Yes please!

There is a new business for someone - to provide biodegradable packaging to  shops and businesses.

I am also thinking of ideas to look at non-recyclable rubbish creatively. Can we make something beautiful and useful out of rubbish that would otherwise go to landfill? More on this later. Any suggestions gratefully received at jennystacy6@gmail.com

The last picture shows the 'nearly new' things I found at Petersfield's annual Save the Children sale over this weekend:
 A handmade embroidered cotton blouse; a fine wool blue pattern scarf; a Crea outfit (we used to sell Crea at Tricot Too where I once worked. A very expensive Scandanavian label) and a cashmere scarf. The napkins in the bag above were also found at the same sale. 

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Best shop

Handmade Happiness has just been shortlisted as Best Shop

It's ironic that I've just been emailled the news that Handmade Happiness has been nominated as Best Shop. The email contained a suggestion that I reserve a table for 10 at £25 a head for the award ceremony. 

This has come when honestly, has there ever been a worst time for independent shop keepers?
People are not spending and I sympathise. I too am not spending. Ever since the uncertainty brought about by Brexit people have decided to hang on to their money. We buy food, but spending on anything else seems to have stopped.

Time and again the lovely people who come into my shop say: 'What a beautiful shop.' Or 'You always have such pretty things.' Or 'This is my favourite shop.' They still leave empty handed.

In the past I had occasional days when I took no money. That was acceptable. But it's much worse than that now. If people don't start buying soon the shop may have to close.

And yet I had a record November and December. Everyone loves the shop at Christmas. But it's 7 months until November and the rent has to be paid every month. Not to mention electricity, card machine, insurance, business cards etc.
As they say about dogs: 'A shop is for life, not just for Christmas.'

I don't want to have to beg (especially as half the people reading this are in the USA so it would be silly!) but please think about buying something when you enjoy looking round the unique experience that is Handmade Happiness. If everyone looking bought a card it would be a start and the cards in the shop are better than anywhere else don't you think?

In the meantime I'm having a long hard think about the future. But one thing is certain:  I won't be spending £250 on a table for 10 at the Best of Petersfield award ceremony!

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Look at these!

Penny Seume's tea towels showing sketches of London
Right side and reverse of the shop's business cards showing my dolls
Examples of pretty ceramic buttons by Stockwell ceramics

Does everyone have a dishwasher these days? I certainly don't. How much more of a pleasure would drying up be if your tea towel is a work of art? Penny Seume prints her artwork onto fabric (see scarves in a post below) and one of these tea towels, seen in the shop would make an excellent present. And if you do have a dishwasher you could just frame the tea towel!!

To get 400 business cards printed quickly I got a re-print and forgot that my opening times are different at this time of year. Since Christmas I've not been opening on a Tuesday. Sorry about that. Once it gets busy again I'll open on Tuesdays too.

When sorting through some boxes I came across a stash of these gorgeous buttons. I had put them aside for a project where I was going to seal a cellophane bag of pretty fabrics with one of them but some ideas never see the light of day, so these buttons and many similar are now for sale. £1.50 each.

Welcome back sunshine. Today promises to be a good one!

Sunday, 15 April 2018

New in Handmade Happiness

Elephant designed and made by Kerry Lucas
Bear designed and made by Kerry Lucas
Panda designed and made by Kerry Lucas

On Saturday Kerry Lucas aka Crafty Kestrel came into Handmade Happiness with her knitted and felted creatures and I fell in love with them. So you can now buy these three cute little chaps in the shop. 

Kerry has also had a book published of her knitting patterns which is available on Amazon. Find out more on Facebook or on etsy: CraftyKestrelUK


Monday, 9 April 2018

Wonderful makers

Penny Seume's artwork on her silk scarves
Bee Mellor's gorgeous birds
Carol Smith's lined purses
Justine Jenner's brilliant pots
Frank Higgins' clever handmade kaleidoscopes
Samantha Robertson's decorated ceramics
Niloo's sculpted pots
Sheila Barrow's brilliant embroideries
Kate Box's popular wrist warmers and neckwarmers

This week I've been choosing pictures for a flyer to advertise Handmade Happiness.  I'm reminded of how many brilliant makers allow their work to be sold in Handmade Happiness and I am really grateful to them.

These pictures only represent a fraction of the items for sale in Handmade Happiness. And only a fraction of the wonderful makers who have their things in the shop. More pictures soon.

Last week brought news of yet another gift shop closing down in my town. This year has been very hard with three lots of snow and constant rain, both of which stop people browsing in the shops. 

But after nearly 7 years in Handmade Happiness I know that things will get better and I was tremendously encouraged to recently learn I have been short listed for Best Retail Shop in Petersfield. Thanks a million to everyone who voted for Handmade Happiness.

By the way if any maker reading this would prefer not to have a picture of their work with their name on included in the new flyer let me know.

On a completely different subject, I have just written the very last post about my trip to India in January. Do take a look. It's Seeing India with Jenny