Saturday 31 December 2011

Embellisher - Day 2

I like this best  because it's a picture not random experiments.
Here (above) I've tried out silk waste, lace, and cut out pieces of handmade felt.
I like the bright colours of this one. I've experimented with bits of nubbly yarn, wool tops and velvet. The dark background reminds me of the Northern Lights.

Yesterday I played on the embellisher for most of the day as it was quiet in the shop again. I need to move on from experimenting now and produce actual things to sell. The felt is beautifully soft and spec cases and purses would be easy to make. Also brooches and maybe hot water bottle covers.

 I'm not forgetting the clothing and cushions mentioned in the last post but maybe they are a bit ambitious for a beginner embellisher!

Friday 30 December 2011

Embellisher fun!

An embellished felt cuff.
An embellished heart.
An embellished crochet purse.

Just before Christmas I bought an embellisher. I was so impressed  by what my friend Alison was creating with her embellisher - an Alfa 3000 costing £199 - that I wanted to have a go myself. I have wanted one for some years but I have never seen them at that price before. There are still models out there costing £400, even £700 available but £199 was do-able.

Yesterday I had great fun in the shop trying it out for the first time. It is addictive. Now I want to try out all kinds of different materials to see the range of effects you can get. I'm thinking big - cushions; jackets; scarves.Although realistically purses are more quickly achievable! Felt seems to be the best base material. So I need to make more large pieces of felt to embellish into.

If you want to see examples of Alison's work on the embellisher check out her blog also in the margin on the right as 'colour queen'!
I'm off to make felt!

Thursday 29 December 2011


At Christmas these chickens would peer in at us through the french windows. They were so tame one allowed me to get this close (see below) to take his photograph!
Yesterday I re-did the shop window removing all the Christmas decorations. I had a bit of a cleaning day, keeping busy. Although one or two people looked around and made appreciative noises it was very quiet and I guess that's how it's going to be for a little while as people recover from the big Christmas spend.
Today I plan to start making a batch of purses which I've been intending to do for a while.

Wednesday 28 December 2011

A Rented Christmas!

This year my family rented a bungalow near Bath for the three days of Christmas. It meant that between six and eight of us could be together comfortably and I would recommend the idea.
The bungalow was fitted with every convenience and was extremely comfortable - plus the owner had even provided a Christmas tree and decorated  for Christmas.
 My favourite place was this 'drench room'. The water hits you in every direction. It was brilliant!
It was great for me to see my kids and their partners all under one roof. Highlights included a hysterical game of charades and seven of us playing contract whist into the early hours - a new game to me.

So please excuse my absence but now it's business as usual on the blogging and the shop front. I can't wait to get into Handmade Happiness to sort it out for the New Year. No sale. I think handmade items should never be marked down in price. That seems disrespectful to the maker.

I hope you had the best Christmas you could have wished for and are looking forward with joy and excitment to the New Year ahead.

Saturday 24 December 2011

Alone again!

For the second time his mate has been sold and flown off to a new life without him!
Gayle Bicknell's handmade bird gazes forlornly out at the traffic hoping for a glimpse of either of his former partners!  

Alone at Christmas. What must that be like?
We, who have families, are so lucky. The Christmas coming together reminds us that we are part of a group. We may not always get on with everyone in that group but they are our clan, our kith and kin and we are lucky.

Do you know anyone who will be alone this Christmas? For them Christmas must be an ordeal when everything closes down so there are fewer distractions than usual. If you haven't already done so why not invite one of those people round for a drink? To raise a glass of Christmas spirit.

I bet you are all groaning now. But those are my thoughts at not quite 6am on Christmas Eve!!

Friday 23 December 2011

Gift wrapping

Wild Damson in Dragon Street offer to gift wrap your purchase with damson coloured ribbon
and a sprig of  'damsons'.
Their neighbouring shops were also impressed to receive this Xmas gift - a bottle of Damson gin.

I'm wondering if my little shop will be capable of this lovely attention to detail after it's been in existence for six months as Wild Damson has?
Items were photographed in Tara Wake interiors. All other items shown available to purchase there.

Thursday 22 December 2011

Happy Christmas!

Here is one I made earlier! One of last year's Christmas cards.  I will try to make handmade Christmas cards again in 2012.

I am looking ahead now to shop displays after Christmas. I would like the theme to be very natural - birds, trees, flowers, all inspired by the wonderful countryside around us. Winter into spring and all the wonderful potential that a New Year brings.

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Following the herd

These reindeer were brought in by basket maker Judith Needham.

Occasionally I meet someone who does their Christmas shopping throughout the year. By around October they've brought all the gifts they need and can sit back smugly in December watching the rest of us buzzing around getting increasingly stressed the nearer the 'Big Day' gets.

Right now it feels like gathering up handfuls of cash snowball style and lobbing them at shops. Today the Christmas spirit has deserted me. So much to do, so little time. I'd rather be sitting in the sanctuary of my little shop, far from the Christmas madness of the crowds of shoppers getting increasingly manic as they can't find the things they want as all the decent stuff has sold out...

But today daughter will man the shop allowing me to join the fray and get the rest of the shopping done. Today I'll be 'following the herd' round the shops in Horsham but still wishing Christmas was only once every five years....  

Tuesday 20 December 2011

Fairytale chandelier

This twinkling chandelier makes me think of Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty. It hangs in the window of Tara Wake Interiors, my shop neighbour and there is a fairytale magic about it.

You can imagine a white marble staircase sweeping around it at one end of the ballroom or see it as the magnificent centrepiece in a grand entrance hall where guests are greeted...

Monday 19 December 2011

Buttons and singing

Handmade buttons at the shop. £1 each. Machine washable.

Yesterday The Choir Company sang in the Square in Petersfield at lunchtime. There was also a funfair in the square - this year's alternative entertainment to the usual ice skating. Funfair organisers kindly turned off their music for half an hour so we could do our thing.

We sang three part harmonies to Something Inside So Strong;  Rhythmn of Life; Walking on Sunshine;  A Medley from les Miserables; Stand by Me; Don't stop believing; Somewhere over the Rainbow (my favourite); Silent Night and various American Christmas tunes. There are around 60 of us so it sounds pretty good. Gerard Butler, our brilliant musical director, says:'Sing loud. I don't care if it's wrong as long as it's loud.' And that's what we do.

Sunday 18 December 2011

Sold Out!

These reindeer, hand made by Michelle Green, have been amazingly popular and I sold the last one yesterday. Kate Hackett's tiny ceramic robins were equally successful but I wasn't quick enough to take a picture of those before the last one sold.

It was a brilliant Saturday with interesting, lively customers and despite the extreme cold outside it was warm and friendly inside even though I've no actual heating!

Today, Sunday I'm going to try to finish off my Christmas shopping. I now think Christmas should be once every five years. That would make it seem really special. Although I don't suppose I'd be any more organised and ready if it were once every five years. My New Year's Resolution is always Be More Organised...but it hasn't happened yet!

Saturday 17 December 2011

Dancing with Flowers

This post should be called Christmas panic! But Dancing with Flowers sounds nice and calm!
I can't believe that Christmas is only a week away. Major organisation is needed here.

What about you? Are you busy making lists, trying to make the house look hospitable, squeezing in Christmas present shopping in half hour rushes like me?

Or have you done it all and can now, serenely 'dance with flowers' up until the big day?

Friday 16 December 2011

Inside the shop

Wilemien Stevens' cards, Kate Hackett decoration, toast rack and mug.
Jenny Stacy bracelets.
Scarves by Valerie Benson and Michelle Green.

Are you sending out and receiving as many Christmas cards as you used to?
I think this is something people are definitely cutting back on this year. I notice in the shop that people buy a few good cards for their nearest and dearest but maybe aren't sending out to everyone in their address book.

My kids don't send out cards at all and neither do their friends. It's a generation thing. My mother always receives hundreds from everyone she's ever made contact with. I'm in the middle. I want cards I send out to be special but can't find time to handmake them this year. So readers please accept this virtual greeting from me:

Happy Christmas dear friends;
May you prosper and be happy
now and in the New Year - 2012.

Thursday 15 December 2011

Petersfield Post window competition

Yesterday the photographer from the Petersfield Post came by. I hadn't realised how messy my window is until then! After weeks of being forced to hang a toy mouse in the display as part of a childrens' shop trail competition I'd rather neglected it. Today I'll have an overhaul. New in are the basket maker's wrapped reed reindeer, centre. I am pleased a basket maker has visited. Woven trugs and shopping baskets are just right looking ahead to spring...

Wednesday 14 December 2011

Maison Blanc and Christmas shopping

Pictures taken at Maison Blanc, Guildford.Wouldn't these make wonderful wedding desserts?
Yesterday my daughter manned the shop so that I could go Christmas shopping. I wanted to go to London to photograph Christmas shop windows. I've heard that Harrods looks particularly stunning this year. But time started running out so I went half way - to Guildford.

I like looking for Christmas bits in Guildford because the shops are in a straight line up a particularly steep hill. Spend an afternoon there and you've had a good work out.

My family think stockings are the best thing about Christmas. And as we're all too old for Father Christmas to visit we do stockings for each other. 

 I found some good bits for my mum's stocking in Heal's and l'Occitane. If I could afford it I'd spend in Jo Malone - the smell wafting on to the pavement from that shop is divine! I love Gap - it's worrying that they have a 60% off sale there at the moment. Surely this is the only time of the year when people expect to pay full price? I also found some bits at the Steamer Trading Cook Shop which I may have mentioned before on this blog re: Guzzini colour.

Yes, one of the best bits about Christmas is anticipating peoples' reaction to the gifts you've bought them. Especially if they are nicely wrapped. But more of that later!

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Beauty in unexpected places

I love the detailing in old buildings.From another age when a craftsman could show off his skills in every job he undertook. He could take a real pride in his work knowing that generations later people would still be admiring his handiwork.

I admire this ceiling every time I have to queue up at the bank. It's HSBC's ceiling in Petersfield and is in sharp contrast to the boring black and white efficiency of what goes on beneath it. 

Monday 12 December 2011

Giant knitting

I'm late posting because I've been distracted by lovely home things on I think it's Danish. I love these baskets. Imagine them as a bed you could curl up in or a baby's cot! You could cover a pouffe in giant knitting or a whole arm chair.
In these freezing cold mornings I'm imagining a perfect Christmas home with a wood burning stove, soft cosy throws and cushions. All in off whites to match the snow gently falling outside.

Sunday 11 December 2011

Alison's embellisher pictures

My friend Alison Crosthwaite has just invested in an embellisher.And this is what she's achieved with it already. An embellisher looks like a sewing machine but it needlefelts rather than sews. There are several barbed needles which go through layers bonding them together.
My pictures are from Alison's blog  I also list it in my Nice to Look At section on the right. To me she's 'colour queen'!

Now do you agree that the shop needs an embellisher? I think it might be a legitimate business expense against tax....?!

Saturday 10 December 2011

Handmade locally and all under £5 !

In Handmade Happiness now are Kate Hackett's ceramic decorations: robin £2; Xmas pudding small £2-50; large £4-50;
Jenny Stacy child's bracelet £3-50;
Natasha Rothschild's knitted flower hair decoration £5;
Willemien Steven's card £2-50;
Michelle Green's sheep £2-50 and my matchbox free when you buy my Christmas pudding earrings.
In this picture above are a Christine Burgess' twiggy hook complete with rawl plugs and screws for £5;
a ball of 100% wool that can be felted for £4-80; 
Jenny Stacy collage card £3-50;
Heidi Robinson glass pencil brooch £4-00 and my handmade buttons £1 each.
Here are Penny Baker's pretty vintage fabric pack and heart both at £4-50;
my painted face and girl brooch at £3-50 and £5- and some baby buttons for £2-

I thought it would be fun to assemble what you can buy for £5 or under at the Handmade Happiness shop. Lots of people are looking for Christmas bits at the moment as well as main presents. Next I'll do an under £10 selection; then under £30 and  under £50.
Yes, I know the yarn and baby buttons aren't handmade - sorry, I included them in the picture without thinking.
Yesterday was the best day at the shop so far. Thank you customers! ***

Friday 9 December 2011

Felt tree decorations

A few days ago I showed how I make felt. This is the result. Not quite finished. The trees on the left have been felted more than the trees on the right. Felting shrinks wool by about one third. So when the right hand trees have been felted down a bit more and all trees had grey velvet ribbon loops sewn on the top they'll be ready. The tree in the middle is the original like the ones I used to make for Tricot. Tricot liked red gingham ribbon. But I prefer the grey velvet.

Thursday 8 December 2011

Buy Handmade!

Bryony Jennings who makes lovely silver jewellery and life size fabric animals, and her mum, Margaret, a potter, own this handmade shop in Chichester's Cooper Street. Both their shop and mine sell everything hand made but interestingly we don't stock the same peoples' work. Our shops are very different and I admire the delicacy of theirs. When you next visit Chichester take a look.

Wednesday 7 December 2011

Kaffe Fassett's fabrics

Pam Dew has made these wonderful patchwork cushions for Handmade Happiness. And looking at them makes my heart sing. Pam lives in Petersfield. There is so much talent in this town!

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Making Felt

An order for my embroidered tree decorations prompted an early morning felt making session. I use wool tops on my draining board. I know other felt makers use bubble wrap/ bamboo blinds/plastic bags/pure olive oil soap etc. but I like to keep it simple. Wool tops and whatever soap is to hand. Fairy washing up liquid does a good job.
So in the middle picture I've pulled out three layers of wool tops, drizzled on washing up liquid and drenched with hot water then rubbed the wool against the ridges on the draining board to felt. A few rinses and finally I like to use this old wash board I was given by my friend Jane to finish off the felting process.
Now I can cut the felt to shape and, once dry, embroider and finish with ribbon.

I would like to have felt making sessions in the shop. I am wondering if you can felt within a zip lock plastic bag ie. damp the wool tops with soapy water, maybe include a sheet of bubble wrap, and manipulate the felt within the bag. This would be more practical in the shop with minimal mess. Anybody know anything about this?
This morning my neighbour Wanda will be in the shop. I'll return this afternoon. 

Monday 5 December 2011

Champagne taste but beer money!

On Saturday night my youngest and her rugby player boyfriend came over and admired the shop before we ate at the nearby Ask restaurant. He was thrilled with the three course Christmas menu for £16.95 complete with sparkler and chesnuts. Just looking at the picture makes you feel like celebrating!

Yesterday, Sunday, I collected some mugs and ceramic Christmas decorations for the shop from my friend Kate Hackett who was exhibiting with the Sussex Guild at Midhurst. I had a good look at the show, hoping to find other things that would fit in with Handmade Happiness...

Then to Chichester for a spot of Christmas shopping.
 Honestly as I get older I get harder to please and I found very little. My girls say only buy what you would love to have yourself. Which is a good rule of thumb for anyone doing Christmas shopping I reckon.
 I found a white fleece covered hot water bottle at Avoca's 'Gorgeous' shop with 'Baby It's Cold Outside' written on it which I wanted but it was nearly £30 so I left it.
 Basically it's champagne taste but beer money.
Then last night my other daughter came down to man my neighbour Tara's shop for a couple of days. Tara is away doing her Christmas shopping in New York. Not that I'm jealous or anything...!!!!

Sunday 4 December 2011


I don't understand how women do it. Juggling a full time job with looking after the family and home. There just isn't time to properly look after themselves as well. Things that are good for women like excercising and eating food cooked from scratch - when do they fit in those things? Doctors agree that to live to an active, mentally sharp, old age women must excercise regularly and eat healthily. But the juggling act required to fit in those things makes them hard to achieve.

On a small scale I thought I might make a  big batch of vegetable soup and take it to work in  a thermos each day with, ideally a hunk of homemade bread. Save money, lose weight and eat healthy. Win, win, win. Have I done it? No.

On a large scale - have you seen those programmes about British teenagers experiencing life with the Amish? It is fascinating. The men go off to work. Hard, physical work, farming and making furniture from the trees they cut down, with the occasional barn raising. Meanwhile the women stay at home and spend all day doing housework, cooking and looking after children. The British girls find it hard to accept that this simple life makes them happy. But maybe if there are no choices they are just making the best of the life they are given. No juggling required.

Saturday 3 December 2011

Gayle's colour

I love the bright splash of colour Gayle Bicknell's work gives to the shop. Gayle, from Alton, teaches textiles and makes wonderful thread covered birds and screen printed pieces as pictured above.

The shop is full of handmade stock - 17 makers plus myself. There's almost too much to choose from. As it gets dark and the fairy lights twinkle it looks magical ...
I would love to be making more of the stock myself but I spend most of my days happily talking to customers. From Monday onwards, with the table cleared for workshops, you will see me sitting busily making at that table. A promise to self!

Friday 2 December 2011

New glass decorations

Heidi Robinson, Petersfield glass maker, brought these fun decorations to the shop yesterday. She also provided glass bunting which sold almost the minute it touched the display table. Reds and clear lime green - a clean, contemporary look.

On Monday the first Handmade Happiness class will run from 11am to 1pm on Beginners' Crochet. It costs £20 to include tea/coffee and biscuits and all materials.If you want to be there email me 

The following Monday there will be a Beginners Knitting Class and finally for 2011 a Free style knitting and crochet class for those who can already knit and crochet on Monday December 19th.
Advance notice. Pam Dew has agreed to teach a Quilting class on Monday January 23rd from 11 to 3. Again please let me know if you want to join. First come, first served.

Thursday 1 December 2011

The Inspiring Blanket

This much admired blanket is made entirely of sock yarn knitted in squares starting in one corner and increasing then decreasing.It must have been made to sample up to 49 different coloured yarns and the colours are wonderful. Sock yarns are not just for socks!

Wednesday 30 November 2011

Penny's Vintage Scrap Packs

My friend Penny makes up these 'Vintage Scrap packs' for Handmade Happiness.
The heart is an example of what you can make with the contents. People buy them for making for dolls' houses; making wedding favours or just adding to their fabric stash (is that an American expression - stash?) They cost £4.50 and are very popular.

Tuesday 29 November 2011

A treasured Fairy Mouse

Photo by Henry Ascoli
This mouse belongs to a lovely customer. It reminds me of those tiny dressed mice - in Liberty prints?- I vaguely remember from childhood. Her son sent me this picture and I hope they don't mind me posting it on my blog. The mouse is old and 'falling apart' but still very special.

I spent Sunday with the oldest member of our family(80) and the youngest (nearly one). Baby Sofia is a delight to watch. Crawling at a terrific speed, like a baby bullet, through furniture legs and over peoples' feet with a happy, relaxed nature and a ready smile.

 'Granny' must have been like that once. But now she is trying to come to terms with the loss of her life-long partner. A man she thinks the world of. Her family visit often  but they can't bring him back to her. Right now baby and Granny need about the same amount of care. Life seems to take you on a circular path. 

Monday 28 November 2011

Look at this!

If you love colour and want to see crochet in a brand new light look at
I've added it to my 'Nice to Look at' section titled crochet colour.Wouldn't it be great to have clothes like this for sale in Handmade Happiness?

Sunday 27 November 2011

Ceramics and cards

Inside the shop Kate Hackett's bowls, toast racks, hearts and stand up decorations are displayed with Willemien Steven's popular cards.

Kate is making Christmas mugs with robins on, small mugs with hearts on each side and lots of robin ceramic decorations for the tree that will all be in the shop shortly.

 Meanwhile I've had another delivery of Willemien's special cards that, before having the shop I always used to buy from her and I'm delighted to be her only stockist in the area.

Yesterday the round table was delivered, as promised. And very good it looks too! Today I'll email all those who put their names down for workshop details. And the week after next workshops will start.

Saturday 26 November 2011

Presents for men?

These chopping boards and bread boards make great presents for men. I always find it hard to find presents a man will appreciate. It just seems so much easier to buy for women - you buy something you would like to receive! So I'm really pleased to sell Christine Burgess's handmade boards in the shop.  Christine lives in West Sussex and all the wood she uses is local. Oak, sycamore, beech - the label on each board says: 'Beech from Goodwood' or 'Sycamore from Stanstead Park' or 'Oak from Andover, Hampshire'. It's a nice touch and tells you that nothing about this board has travelled far. Solid local wood and solid local workmanship.

Friday 25 November 2011

Knitting and Crochet weather

Michelle's spun and dyed wool, Victoria's spun and dyed mohair (from her goats); Valerie's 'seaweed' scarves and one of my hats.
I took these pictures in the shop. It was cold though bright. Just the weather for knitting or crocheting.
A lovely lady called Jan offered me a round table for the shop yesterday. So kind and generous. Her daughter has a round pine table, 4 ft across on a central pedestal. It sounds just the job for having in the centre of the shop with chairs round it for workshops. When we're not workshopping it can be used for shop display.
Jan's husband is bringing it to the shop on Saturday. Thanks to Jan and her family.

The first workshops will be, appropriately enough, Beginner's Knitting and Beginner's Crochet.
After that a 'Free style knitting and crochet' where the two skills are combined to produce really textural pieces.