Tuesday 30 April 2013

Aspex Gallery and Gun Wharf Quays outlet shops, Portsmouth

Inside the Aspex Gallery cafe
A weird amount of empty space
The Spinacker Tower
Paperchase window
Crabtree and Evelyn window
Osprey window
So yesterday I went to Portsmouth, not London. I explored the Arts Council sponsored Aspex Gallery first then the many outlet shops.
The Aspex Gallery is tucked away in the enormous space pictured above. Two exhibitions are currently showing: Charlie Tweed's video works called 'I am Algorithm' and Susanna Bauer's crochet on leaves. There is also a shop area and cafe. From May 8th for a month there will be an exhibition 'helping us answer the question: Where does Progress end?' I look forward to it. If you want to submit your work to this gallery check out www.aspex.org.uk

I was amazed at the number of outlet shops here. Luxury shops like Links, Ralph Lauren, Osprey (pictured) and All Saints. Plus Marks and Spencer, Gap, White Stuff, Paperchase and Crabtree and Evelyn.  Then oh heaven, a Lindt outlet shop. Did you know that such a thing existed? No me neither. 

I had a good look round. Some shops are half outlet prices, half ordinary prices. If you're a fan of White Stuff clothes head for Gun Wharf quays. They have a fantastic range of quality clothes. Unlike some other clothes shops there which just seem to offer weird colours that obviously hadn't sold in their main shops.

So what did I buy? Vellum paper - 99p at The Works and their card bunting to paint £1-49; also 'Perfectly Fitted' a dressmaking book by Lynne Garner £2-99 also from The Works. Ok, confession time, a few wrapped chocolates from the Lindt pick and mix. Are you reading this daughters? If so I will be in big trouble!!

Monday 29 April 2013

Burning fabrics to make flowers

An experimental rose. Next step - choosing a centre.
Early yesterday morning I decided to see which fabrics would burn for flowers best. I assembled shot organza, lurex and lightweight man-made fabrics and cut out a few rough circles. (I'd seen an image on pinterest of lining fabric used to make neat perfect circles stacked to make a flower but I wanted something a bit more rough.)

Next you light a candle and fill a small bowl with water- to drop fabric in to  in case it flares up.  I would advise doing the next step in front of an open window or preferably outside. You hold the edge of the fabric in the candle flame and if it's like the thin man-made stuff in the picture it singes and gently folds inwards. As you turn the fabric in the flame it cups inwards like a flower.

WARNING - the fumes are probably carcinogenic so wear a mask if you're thinking of making more than one flower!

Then you stack up the pieces, from largest upwards to form a flower like the one above. I think an old clip earring ( with the clip part removed) would look pretty in the centre. I'll show you when it's complete. Don't bother experimenting with lurex it doesn't work, nor does that lovely shot organza that looks gold as it moves.

I want to go to London today but I'm torn between the house needing me to do housework, paperwork calling to be completed and walking the streets of London. Maybe I could do the paperwork on the train...!

Sunday 28 April 2013


A selection of mugs available in Handmade Happiness now.
 Pictured above are keyrings by Sue Inglis, £6-50 each; Slate hearts by Eve Deary £3 each and decorated ceramic hearts by Kate Hackett £3 each.  Blue and white mugs by Jacqui Watkins; three central mugs and child's duck mug by Kate Hackett and labrador porcelain mug by Ali Cooper.

Yesterday I arrived at work and saw that kids have written their names in permanent black felt tip on the whitewashed 400 year old shop wall. I scrubbed it with various products but their signatures won't come off. Today early I'll paint over the wall and hope it will look the same as before. 

Saturday 27 April 2013

In the shop now

Ruth Ellacott's rag rug in glowing colours 
Robin £24; wren £29 by Michelle Green. Porcelain tealights by Samantha Robertson £10 each; cards by Ann Hutchins £2-50 each; Embroidered pictures by Sheila Barrow £38 each; sheep by Sue Inglis £5 each.
Cards from Sandra Izard's watercolours £3-00 each.
I just heard that my friend Bee who emigrated to Australia with her family about 7 years ago is visiting England this summer and will see Handmade Happiness for the first time!  Looking at the shop yesterday with Bee in mind made me see it anew. 

There's a lot I like about it but one area in particular that has got to be changed. In case you haven't visited Handmade Happiness  before, it comprises two rooms. The first small room that the doors open onto that I think of as the 'lobby' and the large room you walk into where nearly all the stock is. It's this small lobby area that I need to work on to make it a more useful selling area. I read somewhere that the first area your customers walk in to is your 'platinum' selling area ie the best. The bronze selling area is right at the back of the shop. I have managed to get this wrong and my 'bronze' area is the first bit and my 'platinum' area the back of the shop! So today I'm ready to make some changes. Your thoughts and ideas are  really welcome!

Did yesterday's post about remembering make you think about your childhood? I wrote a lot more about ages 7-10 yesterday. Yet from birth to 5 is considered the most important, formative time for us.

Friday 26 April 2013

Blue skies, flowers and remembering

Magnolia blossom against a blue, blue sky
Delicate fritillary heads with grape hyacinth
How well can you remember your childhood? I am stretching my brain at the moment to write down as much as I can remember of my first 7 years. I've typed an A4 sheet but that's all I can manage. Could you write more? 

 I used to think that as we get older the memory banks open up for us to be able to remember more. Now I'm not confident that necessarily happens. And so much of 'memory' seems to be about things we've been told or photos we've seen. What proportion of what we 'remember' is things we actually remember experiencing for ourselves?

Now I'm going to write about 7 to 10 years old and I remember more about that period of my life because when I was 7 my family moved abroad to a very different way of life. And even now I remember most of the Arabic words (and songs!) I learnt then. Are other languages stored in the same part of the brain as memories? Do you know?

Thursday 25 April 2013

Teeny-tiny baby bootees

These are super easy to make see www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/chaussons-mignons
As you can see I made a few pairs, trouble is the yarn kept changing colour!!

These newborn-size bootees are fun to make. Click onto the second picture and it will take you to the pattern on ravelry.com  

Basically you knit a 'T' shape and then cross the arms of the 'T' if you see what I mean. I was determined to use a ball of wool my daughter recently gave me but, as you see it kept changing colour.  I like the idea of different colours but most people will think them 'odd' which they are. I guess you can make them bigger by casting on more stitches and increasing by that many more. Thank you Pruline at canalblog for posting your pattern on ravelry.

Confession time - I am hooked on Pinterest. In case you don't know what I am talking about www.pinterest.com is a site where you can 'pin' photos to your (pin)boards from all over the web. So you might call one board 'home sweet home' and another 'wedding ideas' as I have or you might want to collect together pictures of clothes that really appeal to you. It's like having an interactive magazine in your control. You can have as many themed boards as you like and some people have pinned thousands of photos onto their boards. Not me, I like pruning my choices as much as pinning so I only collect together what I really, really like. The process is easy. I can't work out what's in it for the owners of Pinterest as there are no advertisements. I expect someone will enlighten me.

By the way I am getting lots of comments now, 99% spam. Basically the comment is 'Nice blog now look at my blog on truck tyres' or something equally inappropriate to Handmade Happiness.  Sorry if you've seen some of these which have slipped through on to the blog I still think its worth not putting back the 'word verification' thing to make it super easy for any regular reader who wants to comment.

Wednesday 24 April 2013

Silver rings by Kirstie Turner

Kirstie Turner's silver rings in the window of Handmade Happiness this week
These rings are priced at £24 each or £50 for the double thickness rings. They are fun to wear singly or stacked with each other or with other rings you have.  My daughters wear lots of rings and silver is favourite. And silver looks especially good with a tan.

By the way, I said earlier I was thinking of using coloured card for these cones but I actually used two sheets of sugar paper (childrens' drawing paper) twisted together. I like the matt-ness of sugar paper and the range of colours. To make cones like these you draw a circle (round a side plate) cut it out then cut it in four quarters and each quarter can be twisted, corner first into a cone shape. Use two sheets together for best thickness.

Handmade Happiness has also got Kirstie Turner's disc necklaces and mens' collar stiffeners. Photos to come.

Tuesday 23 April 2013

Colour therapy

Michelle Green dyed all this yarn before she crocheted it.
Colour in nature in bright sunshine.
Michelle Green spins, dyes, needlefelts and crochets. Yesterday I went to her house to collect some more of her popular needlefelted birds - wrens, bluetits and robins - for the shop and was knocked out by the colours draped on her settee.
Michelle has crocheted her way through the winter. And the results are spectacular!

Monday 22 April 2013

New knitted designs from Sue Inglis

Owl keyrings £6-50 each by Sue Inglis
Cat keyrings £6-50 each by Sue Inglis
Love these nursery decorations by Sue Inglis. £15 each.
Cat with attitude by Sue Inglis. £19-50
Cute bunny by Sue Inglis. £19-50
These look cute and they are beautifully made. It's a pleasure to sell them in Handmade Happiness.
I found a great knitting pattern on Pinterest for baby booties. I'll share it with you later in the week.

Sunday 21 April 2013

Felting on the washboard

Glass ridges on the washboard are good for felting
The finished piece of felt - much smaller than the piece above.
I like the colours in this piece of felt. I made a larger red/orange piece for an order earlier in the week and as usual thought to myself: If I made a piece of felt early every morning I'd be able to sell them in the shop... Pieces of felt like this are good for embellishing/ embroidering/ turning into i-phone cases or whatever.

Customers often tell me they have been on a felt making course. Then they start talking about bubble wrap and curtain net; bamboo blinds and rolling pins. And of course you can make felt using these things.

 Or you can make felt by layering wool tops on your draining board and rubbing it against the ridges of your draining board after adding soap and water. That's how I make felt. Sometimes I finish it off on the washboard but you don't actually need one of those to make felt. Different if you are making a large piece of felt for clothing for example or for a yurt. Yurts cannot be made on the draining board. But small pieces of felt can. Actually you could make a yurt on your draining board if you didn't mind sewing together many,many small pieces!

From Tuesday Handmade Happiness will sell silver rings. Kirstie Turner bought in some she has made for the shop yesterday. I'd like to display them individually on cones of coloured card. Picture to come! 

Saturday 20 April 2013

Treasures from the Save the Children sale!

My star find. A beautifully embroidered table cloth. £4
The cloth and an old double sheet with tatted decoration. Sheet £6
Monogrammed hand towels. £3 together with one other and bits of jewellery.
It was a spending day yesterday. I also bought this lovely peg rail from Wild Damson.
 First of all apologies. I forgot to take pictures of Sue Inglis' new knitted designs. I'll show you them very soon.
The annual Save the Children sale in Petersfield which is also on today (9.30-5pm) and tomorrow morning is one of the highlights of my year! I just love rooting through looking for treasures among the bric a brac and linens and pictured above are what I found yesterday. 

Star find among the jewellery was the little silver ring pictured - just £1. I didn't even look in the other big hall where the clothes are. I'll check that out today on my way to open the shop.

Finding good things made me wonder whether there is a place for handmade vintage in Handmade Happiness. I am conscious of not using the first little room in the shop to its best advantage. So yesterday I got very excited thinking that this room could be for lovely vintage finds and upcycled vintage by clever makers. However a visit from a friend yesterday afternoon has made me doubt the idea. She thought having the first area for vintage would make HH 'look like a junk shop.' I wouldn't want to risk that... any opinions? 

Friday 19 April 2013

Yay sunshine!

 Petersfield Plants is a group of keen gardeners and allotment holders who sell off their surplus seedlings, plants and vegetables outside St Peter's Hall in St Peter's Road once a month. This year because of the weather they were late in holding the first sale but today, early morning I'll be there hoping to find some plants for my garden. 

Save the Children hold their annual sale of clothes and bric a brac today too. It's at the Festival Hall, Petersfield starting at 9.30am. 
Their patron, Princess Anne was helicoptered in yesterday (a day early) to officially open the sale. I always find some wonderful things here and can't wait to see what I find today. I'll have to be quick to get back to the shop to open up for 10am.

Yesterday Sue Inglis who knits sheep, pigs, bunnies and owls came to the shop with some new designs that I love. Her little creatures are now on key rings in the shop for £6.50 each and tomorrow I'll show you her new rabbits and cats with attitude.

Thursday 18 April 2013

Glorious colour in Handmade Happiness

Cardigan and scarves by Alison Dupernex; lambswool blankets by Kate Box
Scarves by Alison Dupernex; blankets by Kate Box
 Love all this colour that you see as you step into Handmade Happiness! Colours like this are uplifting. I remember a 'Colour Therapy' shop that used to be in Bosham Walk with bottles of liquid in many colours in the window. I didn't understand what the 'treatments' offered but I guess it was mood altering therapy. 
I'm looking forward to visiting the King of Colour's exhibition in Bermondsey next month - that is Mr Kaffe Fassett.  He must have inspired millions like me.

Well I'm another year older and another year wiser! Thank you so much for the birthday comments yesterday. Hurray! 

One of the good things about getting older is that you can get away with saying what you really think more.  When you're young you want to be liked and will change chameleon- like depending on who you're talking to. When you're older you know your own opinions and are not afraid to voice them. Also you are confident enough to say 'no' and mean 'no'. You don't care so much about being liked so you stick to your own standards and don't worry about little things any more. As my mother used to say, ' Don't even start worrying until you are actually in the dentist's chair.' Good advice.

Wednesday 17 April 2013

In the handmade window now

In Handmade Happiness now are:
Top row, left to right:  bug dolls by me; porcelain mouse tea light holder by Ali Cooper; notebook by Jacqui Watkins; flower brooch by Hume Sweet Hume; porcelain jug by Ali Cooper;  embroidered cuffs by Karen Boller;  decorated mug by Jacqui Watkins; knitted baby hat by June Knight;  twig hook by Christine Burgess.

More shop pictures tomorrow. I had a change around yesterday and want to share.

I think Margaret Thatcher's funeral is today. Whatever we as individuals may feel about her I think it's a bit sad if people drink champagne and celebrate. She died at 87 after suffering from dementia in her twilight years.  Her children deserve our condolences just the same as anyone else who loses their mum...

Tuesday 16 April 2013

Getting wedding bits together

Old bits of jewellery, sparkly thread, mop buttons and paper and fabric flowers
 There are three stages in making something. I'm not sure what takes the longest. First comes the collecting together of materials. Not everything will be needed  but it helps to see it assembled together before starting to make.

 Step two is the design process. This is a lot of thinking, a bit of sketching and the jotting down of ideas which often, rather inconveniently, come in the middle of the night. 

Once you have a clearer idea in your head of how something will look (in this case a hair decoration) you can start to experiment.

Step three is the making stage. This involves trial and error until something you make satisfies your own standards and looks good enough for someone to buy.

I like the warm colour of old pearls. New (fake) ones are too white. 
I heard about a lovely colour scheme for a wedding the other day. The bride had chosen the colours of faded hydrangeas, those soft bluey greens. Very pretty with mismatched china cups and saucers and dainty shaped sandwiches and scones with clotted cream.  But Amy has something very different in mind and (fingers crossed) it will all look gorgeous!

Monday 15 April 2013

Bug dolls?

Some of my latest 'finger dolls' have wings. Pictured with tooth fairy bags by Linda Innes.
Funny how you can never make things in quite the same way as you made them before.

 The latest batch of little dolls - pattern drawn round my finger - wanted wings and some of them have more hair than before. The faces, embroidered with silk, look like childrens' drawings of faces and since they are meant for children - no buttons or anything harmful about them - is probably not such a bad thing. These dolls are £9.50 and Linda's tooth fairy bags are £15 each.

Sunday 14 April 2013

New necklaces

New necklaces by Karen Boller. £20 each.
Yesterday Karen Boller came in with new necklaces she has made from vintage fabrics and buttons. She also made the little dog pictured. The bracelet, strawberry and flower brooches are by me and the bird earrings by Linda Gunter.

The first thing I look for on my blog are comments. This must be the one blog in the world that doesn't get comments. I don't know why. Even when I think the views I'm expressing seem quite controversial I don't seem able to provoke a reaction.

 Can I be really cheeky and say to you- It's my birthday on Wednesday and a great birthday present would be a comment from you, dear reader. I'll try to remember to leave the word verification thing off on Wednesday. I know that can be a problem.

Meanwhile back at the coal face (Handmade Happiness) I am imagining and talking about the handmade wedding corner. I will make wedding jewellery; Linda Innes is going to sew some things; and maybe other makers will have a think about whether they want to make something wedding-y. One of the things I think would be lovely is satin and lace camisole and french knickers for the honeymoon. A little bride bag covered in lace and glitter for lipstick and other essentials. Pretty bunting; tiaras and hair decorations. I could go on but I've probably already bored you enough. Happy Sunday!

Saturday 13 April 2013

Lace, bling and a fine needle!

Charity shop bling and collected lace.
Old lace, including some dyed blue and a pair of charity shop brooches.
 Going to wedding shops with Amy yesterday has inspired me to bring out the old lace pieces and bits of bling collected over the years to see what can be made. I'm particularly thinking of the lengths of ribbon we saw with sparkly stones sewn to the centre that are sold as wedding dress belts for an extra £200. Then there's the simple pearl necklaces and drop pearl earrings, the tiaras ... until you have a wedding in the family it's a massive industry you're unaware of.  I'm wondering whether to build towards a wedding corner at Handmade Happiness. Not wedding dresses, just accessories.
'Something old, something new; Something borrowed, something blue.'  

Friday 12 April 2013

Summer House by Sandra Izard

'Summer House' an original watercolour by Sandra Izard
Handmade Happiness doesn't usually sell paintings but Sandra's paintings and her cards of her paintings seem to fit in well.
If you haven't been in to Handmade Happiness lately you'll notice a change. New handmade things to look at and a bigger selection than ever to choose from. 

Yesterday my friend Ann came in and showed my younger daughter and I how to make roses from tissue paper. Once my own efforts look a bit more like roses I'll share the how to  with you.

Thursday 11 April 2013

I love these new scarves...

Rich colours in Alison Dupernex's scarf and shawl collar jacket
Sheila Barrow's hydrangea picture is now in the window along with the Vogue bags.
A lightweight scarf can be worn nearly all the year round. Yes, I'd like one of Alison's scarves but my mind is distracted by wedding plans at the moment. No, not mine, my daughter's!

Yesterday Tara looked after the shop while I checked out wedding dresses with Amy. Can I admit to a moment of bah humbug? I was shocked by the prices. The price of everything to do with the word 'wedding' seems to have several zeros after it. Is this a recent thing? 

I read in wedding magazines that the average price of a wedding today is £20,000. Is this really true or is this a conspiracy by the magazines and their advertisers to help people feel at ease when spending thousands on a wedding? 

Call me a puritan but something seems not quite right about spending thousands on a wedding dress that only gets one wear and then sits in a box for the rest of a bride's life.
I know my daughter won't mind me saying this - she looks lovely in everything she tries on - and having tried dresses for £2,500 and £3,500 the one that she has decided on costs a lot less and looks just as pretty.

Wednesday 10 April 2013

New Earrings

Some I made yesterday on box stand from Wild Damson
And a close up which still looks blurry. All earrings by  Jenny £8 a pair.
 So pleased with these stand alone boxes from Wild Damson. Think I'll get a second one today. I think they are ideal for displaying earrings. Photographing them is difficult as you can see. Maybe I should put a dark velvet backing behind the chicken wire. Earrings would show up better but the display would lose its spontaneous look.

Today my girls are visiting for an appointment to try on wedding dresses at Petersfield's new  wedding dress shop. Will let you know if we find the perfect dress!

Tuesday 9 April 2013

ta da! Introducing the bookmark necklace!

Jenny Stacy's bookmark necklaces 
A little while ago I made a dozen bookmarks like this and they all sold. I kept hearing people say,'Oh, I thought they were necklaces.' This is how the new bookmark necklace was invented. Just clip it for a necklace and unclip it to save your page. £7 each. A very good little gift for a daughter at university I think!

Yesterday after a morning in the shop doing paperwork I popped in to see Mandy at Wild Damson next door and saw an ideal display box for the earrings I'll make today. Show you tomorrow. I've been meaning to make jewellery for the shop for a long time.  And recently I met a silversmith who is making rings for Handmade Happiness. Look forward to sharing those with you too. 

Monday 8 April 2013

Loving this fabric!

Bluebell Gray fabric on cushion in the window of Tara Interiors
I love this watercolour flowers on linen fabric, now stocked by my neighbour Tara Interiors.
Does it make you want to splosh paint on to fabric too? Or just see the freshness of it hanging in your window?  Click www.bluebellgray.com to see this and other fabrics in their range. There's a blog too which I'm linking to in my Nice to look at list in the right hand column.

I am hoping to spend a little time in the garden today after paperwork this morning. I am thinking of opening the shop on Mondays with the better weather - think I'll do the paperwork in the shop this morning and have the afternoon off... 

Sunday 7 April 2013

Re-visiting walls at Bluebelle & Co.

I like the idea of sticking interesting pictures to the walls of the shop
 With the energy-giving start of spring I want to change the look of Handmade Happiness. Time for the shop to move into spring.  I remember the walls at this Brighton shop - click the picture to see their website - and I'm thinking of the walls of Anthropologie pictured here previously. Plenty of inspiration. If some of the wall was a chalkboard people could write or draw on it too. Or maybe painted papers done in the shop by anyone who fancies playing with watercolours/pastels could be collaged together to make a colourful high border. Lots of ideas, not much time. I'm rushing today, spend more time with you tomorrow.

Saturday 6 April 2013

Looking forward to a garden full of these

Flowers from the garden in a previous year
Help! I've overslept. I never do that. But what a beautiful sunny morning. Shall we pin it down and keep it? Who knows. Have a good weekend!

Friday 5 April 2013

Showing you gorgeous new scarves by Alison Dupernex

Handmade Happiness window now. The building opposite is competing for attention.
Love these new colourful scarves by Alison Dupernex. They would brighten the drizzliest of days!
Yesterday, it being the Easter holidays, myself and younger daughter had a lovely day out in Alton. We found 'Shelter' a new charity shop which seems to be almost entirely stocked with Marks and Spencer clothes. She found a fluffy white jersey and patterned rust and indigo silk top and although I found nothing I enjoyed looking. After a tour of the other charity shops we  went to the best cafe in the world - the Italian cafe, Bottega Dei Sapori.

Strictly speaking I should not have been eating a roasted vegetable toasted panini with taleggio cheese. And I definitely shouldn't have shared a warm flourless chocolate and walnut  cake with Sophie. But I'm glad I did. The home-cooked food they serve there is absolutely delicious and worth breaking the diet for!
Thank you to friend Roly for looking after Handmade Happiness so I could have a day off with Sophie.

Thursday 4 April 2013

It's my birthday this month ...

My brother's log burning stove.
 If you feel badly about giving me no diet tips yesterday you could club together and get me one of these for my birthday!!  Only joking of course.
Wasn't it cold in the night? I had to get up to put on a thick jersey and socks, feeling cold to the marrow. Maybe I've suddenly lost so much weight I feel the cold more...!

Wednesday is always the worst day financially in the shop. I don't know why, it just is. Saturday's usually the best. But I had some great conversations with customers yesterday. There was a lovely lady who sews in the morning. We talked about the therapeutic value of art and craft. And in the afternoon, Jessica who talked about the difference between living in Albania and living in this country. So interesting. As she is about to marry an Albanian I'm hoping she'll blog about her adventures. If so I'll post a link here.

What did you think about The Great British Sewing Bee on Tuesday night's tv? I admit to being slightly disappointed. I wanted to know more about the individuals taking part. That way you can have a favourite or two and wish them well each programme. 

The ones that stood out for me were Ann, at 82 still pin-sharp and glamorous. For her making clothes looked as natural as breathing. And pony-tailed Mark who looked fabulous in the historically accurate pirate costume he had made himself, but didn't find making clothes for women as easy.

I wonder if there's an American version of this programme? I used to love the US programme Project Runway where fashion students made clothes within a short time frame, maybe that's where the idea for this came from.

By the way, if you are thinking of visiting the shop today, Thursday, be aware that my friend Roly will be there instead of me.

Wednesday 3 April 2013

Yes, you can park in front of the shop!

 This is what I saw the other day. Looks like the car is coming through the window.
  If you've got one of those teeny little Smart Kas this is how you can park in a lay-by. Sideways on. Weird.

Okay this is the week I have finally got around to starting the diet. My daughter getting married in September has pushed me into it. The thought of the wedding photographs... don't you just hate having your picture taken? I always have.  But imagine if you thought you  really looked as good as you could? Would you like having your photo taken then? I can't imagine that but I'm going to try for my lovely girl's sake to look as good as is possible!! Diet tips welcome.