Friday 31 May 2013

Ghostly iris and thoughts about time

Iris by daylight
Glowing iris at twilight
These iris are the palest lilac. They look normal by daylight but they seem to glow at night.

Isn't it funny how time seems to move at a different rate depending on what you're doing.  Ten minutes in a queue at the post office can feel like hours but ten minutes on Pinterest passes in a flash. 

Maybe the secret to slowing down time is to only do things that bore you.
At school who doesn't remember gazing longingly out of the window while the lesson goes on and on and on.  As you get older time seems to speed up anyway. You say:'Surely it can't be Sunday already.' And in the shop when it's quiet (rain) it seems to take forever to get to 5 o'clock but those days when lots of people come in and the whole day is spent in interesting conversations - those days pass in a flash too.

But how to we make time to do the things we love? I am trying to have early nights at the moment. Ten o'clock bedtime in the hope of getting up at 5ish to make. It hasn't worked this morning but I'll keep you posted.
ps. Can you believe that June starts tomorrow? As Simon and Garfunkel said: 'June has come too soon'.

Thursday 30 May 2013

Delivery of knitted sheep and sheep key rings by Sue Inglis

Sue Inglis knitted sheep with felt heads and legs. £6-50 each
Knitted key rings by Sue Inglis, including new sheep. £6-50 each.
 Yesterday I put out the latest delivery of sheep and (new) sheep keyrings from Sue Inglis.
Handmade Happiness is full of countryside creatures - rabbits, owls, sheep, birds plus lots of wood from local trees. The shop is part of its area - an 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty'- and I want it to reflect this.

The shop also has cards showing off The Physic Garden off Petersfield High Street. Local photographer Dave Tull has brought in a selection of great views of the garden, which join Ann Hutchins lovely cards showing her embroideries of the Physic Garden.

Today I'm going to order a clothes rail and hopefully crochet some padded hangers because soon Handmade Happiness will sell handmade clothes... 

Wednesday 29 May 2013

Felt, embellished for specs cases

Hand made felt with embellished velvet by Jenny Stacy 
Smaller specs case knitted by Jenny Stacy
 I do love a bit of bright colour! The top specs case (or it could be used for a phone) has a popper opening. You can do so much with felt. And how about combining knitting and hand made felt - that could look beautiful...

Do you watch 'The Apprentice'? Last night when the teams raced round Dubai looking for certain items for a newly built hotel was a lesson in the importance of listening to other people - even if they do irritate the hell out of you! I just have to watch that programme - the clash of inflated egos makes you wonder about the candidates' upbringing. Were they always told they could do no wrong? 

I think it's really important to praise your children but for a child to grow up thinking he or she is better than everyone else is cruel. That child will have a very rude awakening probably while still at school. We all have our special talents that can be praised and encouraged but we should realise pretty early on that lots of people are better than us at lots of other things. 

Hopefully every individual will find out what they are good at and be able to work at those areas they can truly shine in. 

I do wonder about musical instruments though. How do  you know if you could have been a genius on the saxophone if you never in life had the opportunity to even pick one up?!!

Tuesday 28 May 2013

Where were you on Bank Holiday Monday?

The band sitting
The band marching
One of the really pretty village cottages
I had a stall at the South Harting Village Day yesterday in the blazing sunshine. Why does the sun always take us by surprise? Like most people I don't wear a hat and don't think to use sunscreen. But six hours of standing in the sun equals sunburn and there must be many others who'll take red faces back to work with them today!

The band played, the children were dressed as story book characters, hundreds, if not thousands of families come out to support their village every year and there is a wonderful feeling of community spirit.
I can understand why Londoners find living in a village like this so appealing. You get all the charm of village life with London only an hour away by train from Petersfield which is about three miles away. Bike to Petersfield and you don't have the parking problem either.

During the week I had a visit from advertising staff on the Petersfield Messenger, a local free paper. Did I want to take out a series of advertisements on an inside page? No, I'd rather  spend a day outside in the sun handing out Handmade Happiness business cards and telling people about the shop even if my first stop on the way to work will be Boots for soothing 'After Sun' cream!

Monday 27 May 2013

The most popular picture on this blog...

Lauren Vidal summer clothes in the window of Tricot Too with lampshade by Deryn Relph
I think you'll be interested to see the picture more looked at than any other on this blog. It was published on March 22nd 2011. I remember how different these Lauren Vidal clothes were. The skirt had yards of fabric which you could bring round to the front or tie up at the back. The fabric was a fine, crinkly cotton jersey. As usual with Tricot Too the look was layered, often starting with leggings and a long sleeve t-shirt. These Lauren Vidal clothes were very popular.
Tricot Too, where I used to work, closed in August 2011, giving me the impetus I needed to open Handmade Happiness in October of that year.

Sunday 26 May 2013

Carolyn Genders ceramics and Japanese embroidery both found on Pinterest

Vessel by Carolyn Genders from Pinterest
Embroidered clutch bag from found on Pinterest
 Without Pinterest I may never have seen the work of Carolyn Genders or the beautiful embroidery pictured.  This is a reminder of just how good handmade can be. Exceptional pieces.
Handmade Happiness teeters between shop and gallery. It's all handmade so maybe it should be a gallery. But the informality of the display makes it a shop. I think if it were a gallery I'd have to invest in those white box plinths and it would all get a bit precious and expensive and untouchable. 

I like the fact that Handmade Happiness is relaxed and accessible. Children feel comfortable to look and even touch. It's good for them to see beauty. To see what individuals are capable of making - like these two objects pictured above.

Saturday 25 May 2013

Hey flowers - it's a hail storm!

We British have always been able to rely on the changing seasons. The relief when warm spring arrives, the hot days of summer, the falling leaves of autumn and the damp chill of winter. 

When we lived in France the standard reaction to hearing we were British was: 'Oh where it rains every day.' 
But now we can't rely on the weather to do anything in particular. This year the seasons seem to have all fused into one. Which is why it was no surprise to see hail in one of the last days of May, or to be forced to turn on the heating last night because it was too cold not to.

But I took these pictures yesterday and it's reassuring to see the flowers blooming, a little late perhaps but as beautiful as always.

Friday 24 May 2013

In the Handmade Happiness window now

This week, a new baby theme in the Handmade Happiness window
One day I will pay a sign writer to change the name above the shop to Handmade Happiness in a hand-written style. You will only see the word Happiness above this window because Handmade will be above the left hand side behind which is the smaller room.

I once visited a shop where the decor was entirely pale pink  both outside and inside and the sign was a darker shade of the same pink. Really pretty but not very practical if you want men to feel as at home in your shop as women do. My walls are white and the woodwork is a pale blue by Farrow and Ball and I think the effect is peaceful.

Are you bolder in your decorating style than you once were? I like the idea of lime green or teal blue on the inside walls of my home but know that actually I'll always stick with white or maybe palest duck egg blue or palest pink. You can change your accessories in a flash but it takes a lot longer to change your wall colour.

Thursday 23 May 2013

Embellisher and blankets fun

Dyed blanket pieces, bits of ribbon and velvet form the start of a cushion
During my time out I started this cushion cover. It feels good to play with colours and

Are you a maker? Can you lose all sense of time and put cares and responsibilities on hold while you get totally involved in the project in front of you? Some people get 'lost in music', others are transported by looking at paintings or reading poetry.  We all need something in our lives to escape into. Something that is uniquely ours. Something we can control and enjoy.

In the shop, Handmade Happiness, I often have conversations about the process of making things. I like bright colours and lots of different textures. You may like those greyed Farrow and Ball colours and smooth textures. There are no rights and wrongs. Everyone is an individual. Self expression. Because you are the only one who can express yourself in your own unique way.  Just do it.

Sunday 19 May 2013

Taking a blogging break

Small doll by Jenny Stacy
 I spend too long looking at this computer screen when I should be making. Therefore I'm going to take a break from blogging and pinterest for a few days. This is a big deal as I've blogged every day for about two years. I'll still check my emails but I'm banning myself from anything else. 

Thank you to the hundreds of you that read this blog regularly and thank you even more to the handful of you that give me the pleasure of reading your comments. Take care and come back soon.

Saturday 18 May 2013

Lace - should we use it?

Ancient lace, one piece signed, with mother of pearl buttons
Assorted motifs
Ecru and white. So pretty...
 Ancient lace created with its many bobbins and complicated patterns gets passed down through the generations.  Dressing table sets and tray cloths and complicated lace collars. It's all so beautiful and represents so many hours of labour - is it too good for us to use again now?

Mine is stored in a box marked 'Old Lace'  Some of it I found at Fontwell car boot sale. You could pick up beautiful old pieces for pennies years ago. I vaguely remember a costumier selling off pieces that had been used in the theatre years before. But most of my lace was given to me by my friend Clare to use in my work for collage and making bags.

Now with my elder daughter getting married I am looking at this treasure with a fresh eye. It is so delicate and some pieces are so old it must be used with a lot of sensitivity and respect...

Friday 17 May 2013

Layering and piecing fabrics for clothes

Heirloom skirt by Mandy Pattullo
Old clothes pieced together to make a dress. Found on pinterest and credited to
Found on Pinterest from
issey miyake
I am fascinated by pieced together clothes at the moment. Like rag rugs which originally put to good use old and worn out clothing, clothes composed of small bits of fabric seem to make good use of any scraps you have too small be used on their own. And they are a form of art.

So a child's dress could find its way into an adult dress and accidentally felted cashmere could see new life as part of a pieced winter dress. Mandy Pattullo (top picture) makes art clothes using old quilts. Her blog is

From the makers point of view clothes like these avoid spending money on new fabric but artfully using what we have. From the customers point of view they will possess a one-off, never possible to repeat unique piece of clothing. 

Thursday 16 May 2013

New cards by Dave Tull

Close up flower card by photographer Dave Tull
Another new card by local photographer Dave Tull
 I like these new cards made by local photographer Dave Tull. There is one of a rose that is so close up it looks like a painting. Available in Handmade Happiness now. 
£3-00 each.

Having just received a request to sell the work of someone in Romania it is maybe time to spell out what the Handmade Happiness shop is all about.

 Handmade Happiness started 18 months ago as a place to buy local makers work. Gradually it has grown to include talented individuals' pieces from all over the UK. I'd say that 85% of the items in Handmade Happiness are still made in Petersfield or nearby. My mission, as Mary Portas might say is to exhibit and sell some of the best items being created in this country right now.

If you are creative - and I believe everyone is creative to some extent - you get tremendous pleasure and satisfaction from making something that other people want to buy for themselves. But how do you sell what you make?

 You can have a stall at a craft fair or local fete or offer your work to local shops. When you are confident your work sells well and you have built up a large stock you could even take a stand at a trade fair as one of the makers who supplies Handmade Happiness has just done.

 But in the meantime, if you live near Handmade Happiness and you make things feel free to come in and have a chat. Someone told me that her friend often looks in the HH window but never comes in because she doesn't need to buy anything. And? I want everyone to come in and enjoy looking around. I don't expect anyone to buy anything. If they do that's a bonus. But don't hang back. Come in. You'll be welcome!

Wednesday 15 May 2013

Colours on a damp day!

My painted beads
 Yesterday only three people braved the wind and the rain and visited the shop. It was quiet. Looks like being the same today. So it will be a making day. A chance to spread the dress pattern over the floor and cut out the fabric. (I mopped the floor yesterday.)

I can't wait for my many making projects to be finished so I can see what the end result looks like. It all feels a bit experimental with ideas running round my head and in the notebook. 

Yesterday I was looking back at the first few Handmade Happiness cash books and realised that a much higher proportion of the things in the shop were made by me then. I seem to have evolved, reluctantly, into a shop assistant who spends a lot of time on shop paperwork when she'd rather be being creative. It must be about being better organised with time slots to achieve what I want to do and what I need to do... As my school reports used to say 'could do better' !!

Tuesday 14 May 2013

Rushing round London

This and the two following pictures are of the relatively new Gudrun Sjoden  shop in Covent Garden

I didn't arrive until nearly closing time. Luckily I only needed one thing.
Strings of glass beads through the window
 I had a great time in London yesterday but apologies for only remembering to start taking photos just before 7pm. Yes Beadworks doesn't close til 7pm.

So daughter and I met just before lunchtime and grabbed my favourite magazine at Selfridges (nowhere else seems to sell it) before sharing a slate of vegetables (antipasti verdure) at Fenwicks Carluccios which was packed with diners. 

We talked wedding over lunch. Me taking notes and us both doing sketches in my notebook. I now feel a lot clearer about what I need to do. And Fenwicks selection of hair ornaments made me see how simple but effective you can be with a bit of vintage lace and a few sparkly stones. She wants a 'v' shaped belt which is a bit more complicated but something to think about. And mens' buttonholes, check;  decorated 'vases' and candle holders for the tables and lots of paper flowers.

Then to John Lewis where I found a simple dress pattern. Amy is very anti 'sack dresses' and whenever I describe what I want to make she feels the shape I have in mind is unflattering to women. I think it is great to wear  cinched in waist shapes if you're a size 8 but if you are larger you want skimming, not tight. I found the hair combs I sought. Then I waited and looked while daughter tried on dresses I could never make in  Hoss Intropia and Cos in Regent Street. I noted lots of nice things in Cos - in natural cottons too. Then we looked at a new Swedish shop called 'And other stories' before walking down to Tottenham Court Road tube to avoid the rush hour crowd at Oxford Circus.

It was now after 6.30pm so I went alone to Covent Garden to check out Beadworks just before it closed - I wanted chains to make jewellery but bought a couple of lengths that weren't, to be honest what I had in mind but I'll try to use them anyway. So home with my magazine, hair combs, pattern and chains. And buzzing with all I had seen.

Monday 13 May 2013

Anticipating London

Tins of biscuits in Fortnum and Masons
Smart stationery
Pink stationery supplies
 I'm meeting my daughter at Bond Street tube station this morning. I'm seeing shops with her today. Selfridges is on the list, Fenwicks, John Lewis and a couple of little shops in Covent Garden. And I'd love to visit Liberty's. I can't wait!

The last time we looked round together was last November when I took these pictures in Fortnum and Masons.  Today I'm on a mission to find hair combs (the sort you use to put your hair up with) that I want to embellish and a simple dress pattern to make womens' dresses from. John Lewis for both of those I reckon.

I need a London 'fix' every now and then...I think the more good stuff you see the better. And if you put a lot of good stuff into that sieve that is the brain then hopefully the stuff you end up making will be all the better for it! Does that make sense?

Sunday 12 May 2013

An invasion of butterflies

Painted butterflies in the window of Handmade Happiness
 When the children were small we used to go to a butterfly place with them. It was like a hot and steamy big greenhouse. Hundreds of butterflies were flying around and would settle on you, much to the delight of the children. It was magical.

Saturday 11 May 2013

New mugs and bowls

Samantha Robertson's mugs, coasters and tea light holders and Michelle Green's bird
Samantha Robertson's bowls
Storage jars by Samantha Robertson
 As promised here are the new ceramics by Samantha Robertson in the Handmade Happiness window this week.

Yesterday I finished making the butterflies that I put in the window last night. I cut my own pattern but I saw a picture on pinterest of butterflies hanging off an embroidery hoop which gave me the idea. The pinterest butterflies had an extra layer of vellum, which is that cloudy transparent paper seen in stamp collectors albums. I like that idea too.

Oh yes, I said I'd tell you today what those fabrics pictured yesterday are for. I want to make a little girl's dress with them.

Friday 10 May 2013

Fabric colour inspiration

Exciting red with calming pink. 
Sorting my fabric stash into colours is quite inspiring. On my 'To Do' list is a woman's dress, a little girl's dress and yards of bunting. I wonder if you can guess what category these fabrics fall into. (Answer tomorrow.) I love the exciting reds best teamed with mustard yellows or red with clover pink yes, I like that too.

These fabrics, along with many others have been collected in laundary baskets over many years. I'm not very good at using them. I like to look at them. Handmade Happiness gives me the incentive to make things to sell with them. Wish me luck.

Yesterday on the way to work I popped into the charity shops to look for small print cotton fabric. I found that 90% of clothes on the rails aren't cotton now. At best they're a man-made  mixture including cotton but I found nothing with that smooth feel of 100% cotton. But I did find a few nice bits of bling for wedding makes...

Thursday 9 May 2013

Samantha Robertson's ceramics

Bowl and lidded jar by Samantha Robertson with embroidered  picture by Ann Hutchins
 Yesterday potter Samantha Robertson visited with new mugs, bowls, coasters and storage jars. Her lovely blue and green colourways look right in Handmade Happiness and I immediately re-did the shop window with all of her things in it. Picture soon.

Somebody bought all four lengths of my fabric bunting yesterday so now the tops of the walls are looking a bit bare. I will make more and now have the fun task of sorting through my fabrics to find the ones I want to use. I'll also be pulling out anything suitable for a dress/dresses as mentioned in the last blog post.

 Talking of pulling out fabrics, do you remember doing that at jumble sales? I haven't been to a jumble sale in years - maybe there aren't many of them now. But I remember the vast mounds of clothes on tables and you'd pull out anything that looked a good fabric. I had a friend who would go to all jumble sales for any t-shirts for her rag rug making. She'd only use t-shirts in her rag rugs.  I'm looking for nice printed cottons - if I find a nice selection in my stash I'll take a picture.

Wednesday 8 May 2013

Tulip colour and making clothes

 I saw these unusual tulips on the way home from the shop yesterday.

We were talking about dresses in HH. For some time I have wanted to sell a range of womens' clothing. Handmade from natural fabrics. Even now the cotton clothes Tricot Too in Petersfield used to stock are among the most looked at pictures on this blog. That tells me the demand is still there.

Upcycling clothing is great in theory. But when you Google upcycled clothes most of them look too scruffy and weird to be taken seriously. Does recycling/ upcycling have to mean making clothes look worse than they were originally? Using fabric cut from old clothes to re-fashion into other clothes can surely be done in a clean, neat, fashionable way? Maybe it's already happening and I just haven't noticed. 

It makes sense to turn unwanted clothing made of good fabrics into something wearable, or cushions or aprons or soft toys. It takes time and most people haven't got the time. A comment I'm always hearing in my shop is: 'I wish I had time to be creative like this.'  To some extent I think it's a question of priorities. If you prioritise sewing over say, watching something on television you are making time to be creative. But when you're tired in the evening after working all day it's not as simple as that. 

Maybe breaking  down being creative into fun, bite size chunks is the answer. Like using the train journey to work to knit or jot ideas down into a Design notebook or checking out pinterest during your tea break for ideas of what to make. But most of all believing that you can design your life to suit you. It isn't selfish to want a bit of 'me time' occasionally. It's good for you and for everyone to please yourself sometimes. And whether your idea of heaven is to lie down for half an hour in a darkened room or to cut out and sew a dress from fabrics that were once curtains, mens' shirts or outgrown kids' clothes - you choose your own bliss.

Tuesday 7 May 2013

Promoting Handmade Happiness at East Meon

Photos from this blog on HH business cards by
 I gave out over a hundred of these yesterday at the East Meon country fair. This pretty village was bursting at the seams when people from far and wide enjoyed themselves at the fair. After stopping to pet a new calf named Jeremy and assorted baby lambs I spent the afternoon in the Art and Craft tent with a selection of lovely makes from the shop.

I enjoy setting out a stall. You've just got a 6 foot table and a couple of chairs and a little over an hour to make it look as attractive as possible.  Wish I'd taken a photo. The Petersfield Herald took a photo. (How I loathe having my picture taken. This accounts for the tortured expression in any photo of me.) But back to display - after many years of doing this I'd say that the important thing is to add height. If everything is just placed on the table it looks boring. If you've got a variety of heights preferably with some things at eye level the result is more interesting and intriguing.

Now I intend getting into the garden for an hour before work to plant out some stuff. Hope it's as sunny where you are as it is here.

Monday 6 May 2013

Knitted key rings

Sue Inglis has knitted cat, owl and bunny soft key rings. £6-50 each
 Customers are pointing out that here is a keyring that won't bang irritatingly against the dashboard when they drive. And they are really cute and different. 

One day, when I am really organised, I will have a gift/ greetings cards cupboard which will contain a list of relatives and friends birthdays. I would definitely put a couple of these in there. Better to buy something now that you know will be appreciated than leave it to the last minute when you have to spend the money anyway, in a rush, on something that may or may not go down well. And a good present leaves a good feeling that continues through the year. Can you tell that I like these key rings?!

Sunday 5 May 2013

Handmade Happiness looks different now

This is where my counter used to be. Now a prime selling spot.
Now the counter is next to the window and somehow seems smaller.
A pretty display of (top) Samantha Robertson's tea light holders ; Michelle Green's  robin and wren;  Sheila Barrow's embroidered pictures and Ali Cooper's porcelain.
Somehow Handmade Happiness seems a much larger shop now the furniture has all changed round. There is much more room to breathe. There is a freshness about it now all the winter colours have been replaced with summer colours. I feel it's had a bit of a re-birth - it's not perfect of course, but it's getting better all the time.
Please could any makers reading this come into the shop next week or ring me at the shop 01730 267711 between 10am and 5pm Tuesday to Saturday, unless I've seen or spoken to you very recently.