Saturday, 25 March 2017

Ideas for Mothers Day

In the window today. Jugs and mugs by Justine Jenner; hearts by Kate Hackett and wrist warmers by Kate Box.
Also in the window today:
Bear by Lindsey Agostinelli, gift boxes and knitted bunny and cat by Sue Inglis; pottery by Samantha Robertson, dog brooches by Karen Boller, lavender bags by Brenda Tilbury and beeswax candles by Elizabeth Eveleigh.

Tomorrow is Mothers' Day in the UK and Dads and children are looking for a little gift to show their appreciation! 

From a knitted chick with a Lindt egg inside for £1.50, a ceramic painted heart for £3, candles at £4.50, a cashmere bunny for £4.50, brooches from £6, sparkly earrings at around £20 or a nice mug for £16 through to a painting or a big gold heart to say We love You. I think Handmade Happiness offers a great choice of gifts. There are also dozens of lovely cards to choose from. And everything is beautifully handmade and can't be found in the High Street. (I'd like Handmade Happiness to be found in the High Street but the rents are too high!)

Choosing to have a baby means a massive change in a woman's life. Women who have children are heroic in many ways and deserve all our praise and support and love. Mums are under-appreciated in this country, and  I've always thought that the state should pay women to stay at home to look after children, after all it is a full-time job. (You can tell that this is a subject I could keep talking at length about...!)

The sun is shining and I wish you all a wonderful weekend and a Happy Mothers' Day!

Friday, 24 March 2017

Needlefelted purse experiment

Front of purse made by Jenny Stacy
                                                           Back of purse made by Jenny Stacy

Yesterday I felt like making a purse from a piece of my needlefelting as an experiment. The needlefelting is rather thick so I thought I'd compensate by using a fine piece of printed silk as the lining.

Last week Carol Smith showed Brenda Tilbury, Pam Dew and I how she makes lined, zipped purses and after making a cotton flowery one for my grandaughter during the week I'd forgotten how to piece the whole thing together. Carol patiently showed me again and this is the result. If I make any more I'll hand-stitch across the needlefelting before sewing it to the lining to add interest and to make the whole thing more secure. I will also make the needlefelting thinner and the lining a thicker silk because the silk lining I used was slippery to sew.

Now, let's talk social media:
I confess I've recently got hooked on Instagram. If you've got the Ap you can find me as jenny_handmade_happiness. If you want to get the Ap it's free to download. Warning - it's addictive.

I also enjoy Pinterest where I'm jennystacy17.
I'm ignoring my Facebook account now. Having been urged by friends and customers that I must be on Fb I just find it irritating. Sorry Fb fans. It sends out way too many emails...

I think I must set my timer before looking at Instagram or Pinterest in future, otherwise it's amazing how quickly time passes when you're having fun and what I'd prefer to be doing is writing! A second blog about diet and lifestyle ? That would also be fun.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

New in the shop

Samantha Robertson has made these new ceramic brooches priced  between £6 and £10 depending on size.
Justine Jenner has delivered more brightly coloured mugs to the shop.

I've not stocked ceramic brooches before and it will be interesting to see how they sell. The price makes them an ideal little gift for a friend who appreciates an individual, contemporary look.

Justine Jenner's work seems to divide into three very different looks: Grey speckled, sea colours and bright inside. Again, a look that's very 'now'.

Since the start of tv's The Great Pottery Throw Down there is a renewed interest in ceramics generally and many more people wanting to take up the craft. Samantha Robertson, who teaches pottery in Farnham tells me there is a waiting list for her classes.

I also enjoy the educational Painting Challenge on Sunday evenings. These programmes make us want to have a go to see what we could (or could not!) achieve... Those programmes also make us appreciate that it's not easy. Every craft demands dedication and the willingness to practice, practice, practice. But with determination and flair, doing anything well is so rewarding!

Monday, 20 March 2017

Knitting in Handmade Happiness

New baby cross-over top and cardigan and cashmere bonnet with ribbons all knitted by Patricia.
Love this little grey top for a newborn girl or boy. Handmade Happiness is lucky to have good knitters among its makers, and with babies in my own family I am always being tempted to buy the beautiful clothes that I receive. I feel that everything should have a chance to be bought by other people first but, after a couple of weeks of being offered for sale, I reckon this gorgeous top is coming home with me!

One of the joys of visiting France is looking at the babies and childrens' clothes in the shops. In the past I have bought those white long sleeve tops with rounded collars that popper up at the back and the simple knitwear that looks almost hand knitted from Monoprix. In this country I think Zara and Next, sometimes Marks and Spencer have nice baby things. I like babies to look like babies in white or pale colours. I'm not a fan of slogans or the characters from films being plastered over clothes for little ones.

When my elder daughter was expecting her first and I wanted to knit and sew some baby things we visited Liberty for inspiration. The helpful lady in the knitting department recommended the knitting patterns by Erika Knight and having used them myself, I would also recommend them to anyone wanting to knit for babies. I've used her book 'Simple Knits for Cherished Babies' many times when knitting for my own grandchildren and they've always turned out well.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Easter chick and rag rug

Chick knitted by Audrey with Lindt chocolate egg inside on rag rug by Ruth Ellacott

I tried to share 5 pictures with you but apparently the blog inbox is 'Full' so it will only publish one picture. I wonder if after 8 years of blogging I have reached my permitted limits and will have to start a new blog from scratch? I'll keep you posted.

Audrey has knitted dozens of little hollow chicks like this. £1.50 each complete with Lindt egg. The rag rug is one of two. I love the colours Ruth has used.

The shop is also selling large size chicks with bigger eggs inside for £2.95 and a knitted basket with two chicks and three eggs in for £4.95 (see previous post for picture.)

Sue Inglis has brought in an Easter tree with knitted rabbits, chicks, carrots and pompoms on. Tree decorations are £4.95 and pompoms 60p. Picture to come.

Camilla Flint, whose fashion illustration cards I sell, has an exhibition of her work in the cafe at One Tree books, Petersfield. Do take a look if you live locally. Pictures (fingers crossed) to come.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Brenda makes for Handmade Happiness

Spring blossom in the Handmade Happiness window today
Perfect for a wedding. These heart wreaths are made by Brenda Tilbury
Close up of beautiful dried roses and gold heart made by Brenda Tilbury.

Handmade Happiness is grateful to Brenda Tilbury, also known as Queen of Wreaths. She makes the giant hearts and stars that you see hanging from the flagpole outside the shop. 

Tomorrow, weather permitting, she'll be attaching a twig garland that looks a bit like a spinning Catherine wheel to the flag pole.It looks great and will certainly attract the attention of passing car drivers and pedestrians.

Brenda also makes popular gold leaf and dried flower cards as well as all sizes of wreath displayed in the shop. The gold sparkle Congratulations banners are also available, priced £9 each.

Seen in the top picture is a branch that Brenda has covered with handmade felt blossoms. They look so realistic and will remind everyone that Spring is coming soon!

Ps. Audrey, who knits the popular Easter baskets with two chicks and three chocolate eggs in,(see post below) dropped by today with fresh makes. They will be for sale from tomorrow, Saturday.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

In the window today

Audrey has knitted chicks in baskets. Kate Hackett's daffodil mug below.
Love this jewellery by Annie Sherburne. 
Sue Inglis' chick and bunny
When I re-did the window this week I was thinking of Mothers' Day, Spring and Easter.
Audrey brought in the little Easter baskets with two chicks each containing a Lindt egg ie. egg inside each chick and another in the basket waiting to hatch! They sold out in one day! I've put two more in the window that I didn't have eggs for so just two left!

Sue Inglis is busy knitting Easter themed decorations and these will soon be hanging from some twisted willow branches. I've made some cashmere decorations that are also selling well even though Easter isn't until mid-April this year.
Today it has rained nearly non-stop but I really need to get out before the shops close. I hope you are enjoying your weekend in spite of the rain! 

Friday, 3 March 2017

Knitting baby blankets

One giant ball of  wool will knit a whole baby blanket!

An easy way to knit a baby blanket without getting bored half way through is this:

Cast on 30 stitches and knit a square in whatever stitch you like. I've started off with the most basic stitch - knit or garter stitch. Then carry on (don't cast off) in another stitch - say a cable or a lace stitch or a rib - and when you've knitted the same number of rows as the first 'square' change to another stitch. Make other strips knitting as many different stitches as you know or want to attempt. Then finally sew all the strips together.

I did this for my first grandchild in natural white handspun wool from the shop. This grey ball is mostly acrylic with just 20% wool which means it should stand up to repeat washings in the machine.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Planning what to make

I love Liberty scraps
Recent needlefelting pieces by Jenny Stacy
There are two things I feel the shop needs right now. Purses and jewellery.

 So I look at what I have - fabrics, beads, buttons and start to plan what I can make. Purses need a zip so first step will be buying some small size zips. These will determine the size of the purses. 

Then I'll experiment with some of the needlefelted pieces above to see what purses look like made with them. First I need to machine or hand embroider over the top of them to stabilise them for hard wear.

 Liberty patchwork purses would also tick the box for me and I will give that a go and see whether the finished result is saleable or not. 

I've sketched out some new jewellery ideas which involve using some of the Liberty fabric. Watch this space!
What are you planning and working on right now?

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Needle felting today

Today Jenny Stacy did a bit of sewing and a bit of needle felting. 
Love playing with colours when fusing textiles together. Current work by Jenny Stacy
The up side of having a quiet shop in February is that I can get lots of my own things made. And few things are more satisfying that puting colours and textures together and seeing what they look like. I use my own handmade felt and anything else that is to hand, especially if it's a bit glittery!

By the way the red and white fabric is what I'm wearing, not part of what I'm making in case you were wondering...I'll share some better photos soon.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Look at these cards

Lino cuts and drawings by Jacqui Watkins of Linen Prints
New card designs by Jacqui Watkins of Linen Prints.
Drawings by local artist Camilla Flint
Handmade Happiness offers a large range of cards, most of them by local artists. Prices range from £1.95 to £7 with most of them priced at £2.50.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Hearts to celebrate Spring

These pretty ceramic hearts made and hand-painted by Kate Hackett have just arrived in the shop. £3 each.
Printed velvet settee and linen cushion by Boeme in Tara Interiors, my next door shop.
Seen in Waitrose last night. Giant strawberries in February?
As someone trying to do a low-carb diet these strawberries look especially apealling! But somehow I can't buy strawberries in February. Strawberries are for June aren't they? And they are £3.60 a tub - a price that puts them out of the reach of most people, including me!

I had to share a picture of this settee that arrived at Tara Interiors yesterday.Just stunning!

Kate Hackett's ceramic hearts are always popular and the two pictured above are just perfect to celebrate the arrival of Spring.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Flowers for February

Loving pale pink right now!
Cheery daffodils with some blue glass
Same porch window with some of my favourite things and pink tulips

February is the month when flowers are most needed. I like to have them in the house and in the shop. It's amazing how flowers in a vase perk up a room. Their feel-good factor is well worth the pennies they cost right now.

We are all longing for spring sunshine and a relief from damp, cold, grey days. Flowers remind us that we haven't long to wait now. And pink and grey go rather well together don't you think?

I'm getting some of that spring energy right now and today I plan to change the shop round so it looks and feels different. More spring-like !

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Valentines cards

Close up of little Valentines cards by Jenny Stacy £2 each.
Handmade cards by Jenny Stacy
Screen printed card (top) and knitted card both made by Sue Inglis
There's a choice of handmade cards in the shop for the special person in your life. For those who want to make a big romantic gesture how about buying a heart shaped wreath? The gold one sold today. Sparkly jewellery or a hand stitched bear would also make great Valentines gifts.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Tanya Williamson's cushions

Bluetit on soft wool fabric cushion by Tanya Williamson
Pheasant on velvet cushion by Tanya Williamson
New cushions in Handmade Happiness made by Tanya Williamson
It was good to receive a delivery of ten new cushions today. I only had a handful left after selling lots in the run up to Christmas. Tanya cleverly translates her sketches into thread portraits of animals and she uses excellent quality fabrics too. Prices range from £28 to £48.

We discussed Tanya's pictures which she frames, like a smaller version of her cushions,and I look forward to being able to offer some for sale in the shop soon.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Rich colour for February making

Love these scraps of velvet and felt.
I also love mother of pearl dyed buttons. These have a matt finish.
Wood bowl of bits on my work table.
Do you find it hard to throw fabric away? I do, especially when the colours are as beautiful as this. Even tiny bits can be used in fabric and paper collage. Imagine tiny hearts for Valentine's Day in these rich velvets...

I'm going through all my materials and small makes right now because I want to make a big wall piece. Sometimes I wish there wasn't quite so much of it because pulling out what I need takes a long time. As my children always used to say, 'You could open a shop with that lot...' 
Oh yes, that's right, I did!

Happy February everyone! 

Friday, 27 January 2017

Keeping warm

The wool for these colourful mittens is dyed, spun and knitted. Also seen are leg warmers by Gill Martin and my HH carrier bags. 
Swans on the ice at Petersfield Lake this week. Picture taken by Jenny Stacy
Fun with colour. I enjoy painting on paper. 

Are you managing to keep warm in the coldest week of the year?

 In Handmade Happiness hand-knitted gloves, hats and scarves are prominently displayed but as it's so cold and January I don't expect many visitors. Traditionally the quietest month of the year, saleswise, I sometimes wonder whether I should just close the shop for the whole of January. But I have plenty to do. It's tax season, as the Americans say, and so you'll see me with my calculator and books working away in the shop, aiming to get final figures by the January 31st deadline. Always a wonderful feeling of relief when it's over at the beginning of February.

I love having flowers when it's below zero outside. Somehow the supermarkets sell daffodils at just £1 when the weather is at it's coldest and Lidl have tulips for £2. The cheerful splash of colour takes your mind off the cold and onto pleasant things, like painting summer colours on a sheet of A4!

Saturday, 21 January 2017

New! Gorgeous heart wreaths.

Gold heart wreath made by Brenda Tilbury
Pretty roses wreath made by Brenda Tilbury. What a romantic present this would make! 

Brenda Tilbury makes the most amazing wreaths... The two she brought in to Handmade Happiness today are for indoor use. Either would be stunning on the wall above a bed in a bedroom. The rose wreath is hanging in the shop window right now, a gentle reminder that Valentine's Day isn't far off! (Reminder to self - hurry up and make some cards!)

Thursday, 19 January 2017

New knitwear from Kate Box

Lambswool neckwarmers designed and made by Kate Box
Multi-striped wrist warmers by Kate Box displayed in Handmade Happiness
It was a nice surprise today when Kate Box delivered wrist warmers and neck warmers she'd just made to Handmade Happiness. The shop sold out of all of Kate's work just before Christmas.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

New for Handmade Happiness

Jewellery by Annie Sherburne - brooches, earrings and hair clips
Annie Sherburne's jewellery - earrings, brooches and heart pendant.
Gold embossed image on writing paper bought long ago in France.
On Monday I visited Top Drawer partly because I knew Annie Sherburne was going to be there (see above) and partly because I wanted to see what is currently being offered to shops across the country. 

There is a large craft section upstairs at Olympia but for once, I also checked out everything downstairs as well. I noticed more glitter and metallics. Maybe it's just my magpie instincts but glittery cards seem to be having a moment. 

I am interested in gold embossed images and writing on card fronts and a couple of stands reminded me of a little shop in Paris, many years ago where the owner had machines in a back room to stamp out gold images ( as pictured above) which he sold on notecards and writing paper etc. in the front of the shop. Gold raised lettering looks so smart on a plain card and does this.

Look out for the new jewellery made by Annie Sherburne in Handmade Happiness. I think people may like it as Valentine's Day presents. And it's just right for magpies!

The new Textile Group will now start in HH on Thursday January 26th. I've told one or two  people this coming Thursday (19th) but I now have a doctor's appointment that lunchtime which will be a problem for a 2pm start time. So officially 2pm to 4pm on January 26th. If you come on Thursday afternoon we can have a nice chat anyway!

Sunday, 15 January 2017

What is your 'craft discipline'?

Colourful sari silk
Layered piece skirts at the Knitting and Stiching show
Exotic ribbons and trims
Gorgeous painterly fabric photographed in Paris
Dainty embellished shoes by Alberta Ferretti seen in Paris
How did they do this? Pictured in a Paris shop window.
 I've just been asked what my 'craft discipline' is and I realise that my approach to craft is not 'disciplined'.

I always wonder how craftsmen and women can stick to making just one thing year after year.They have an idea and they develop it and then they stick at making that same thing and they become really good at it so they keep producing it. Don't they get bored? Or is this where the 'discipline' bit comes in. They discipline themselves to stick with it until hopefully, they are recognised for their ability in that area and get financially rewarded.

For me, one idea leads swiftly to another idea and I like to experiment with a whole range of 'craft disciplines' in a most undisciplined way. I see this as being creative. The imagination quick fires lots of ideas triggered by just one thing. For example all the things pictured above are good 'triggers' for me. But is the end result - a piece of jewellery maybe or a doll produced by someone who is a 'craftsperson' or someone who is creative? Or are they one and the same thing?

I recognise creativity in others and see it as an ability to follow one's own path and not be swayed by what other people are doing or what they might see on Pinterest. They make things from their own imagination and experiment until they are satisfied. It's a creative process.. but are creative people only happy when they keep 're-inventing the wheel'. Are they unable to settle down and explore just one craft discipline? Or is it just the word 'discipline' that I'm uncomfortable with?