Friday 28 February 2014

Knitting socks etc.

I have never tried handling four needles for sock knitting. Most patterns require four needles but the Debbie Bliss pattern in her book Baby Knits for Beginners needs only two needles. These socks above are knitted for a three month old. They look a bit big but this may be because I don't always use the recommended wool (above picture) and I knit fairly loosely. I have just made one pink sock but there the wool ran out. I've finished a little white cardigan but want to find nice buttons before I take a picture of it. I've also nearly finished the blue romper. It too looks a bit bigger than I imagined it would look.

Last week I had an order for Golden Wedding invitations. I enjoyed making those. They're all different but I'll show you a picture of the one I like best next time.

I'm also making some unusual jewellery. I hope people like this style. Necklaces but different. Picture coming.

In the meantime the hunt is on for car paperwork. Why am I so disorganised? Today I need to get a new road tax disc. Most people will have car papers neatly in a file marked 'Car'. Not me. Having spent a fruitless half hour looking through papers upstairs I must now look downstairs and then, if no joy look in the shop though I can't imagine why car info would be in the shop... I could do with help from a neat, organised person. Someone who doesn't find paperwork as boring as I do. 

However I did take a baby step towards self-organisation yesterday by attending an hour and a half of yoga. It reminded me of a lot of muscles that don't normally get used and despite getting a leg cramp half way through I intend to go regularly from now on. It's an early morning class which makes you feel chilled out for the rest of the day.

Wednesday 26 February 2014


Seagull on train in Brighton Station

Ok I realise that my Brighton pictures are lettering, but they tell you Brighton is different. It's a bit bohemian and a bit funny and a bit dirty. It has style, edginess and sometimes it has energy. 

I used to love visiting Brighton when I lived in Chichester to tap in to some of its creative energy which Chichester didn't give me. Brighton is the best place for people watching. Individuals expressing their specialness through what they look like. Loads of different nationalities and students from all over Britain attending the two universities and art college.
Fashion and dreadlocks.

On Monday I noticed a lot of dogs. The sort of dog on a short lead that could turn nasty if its owner felt threatened. I noticed how dirty some pavements were. But this is Brighton off-season. Winter-time with hardly any visitors. In summer I know it paints a different story.

I visited Ditto, my favourite fabric shop. Ditto has mostly natural 100% cotton fabric and a good choice of buttons. And Brighton Bead shop where I bought some supplies. Brighton Bead shop deals as easily in wholesale quantities as in small quantities. Bags of 100 of this or 200 of that are ready bagged up making it quick and easy to stock up. 
I visited Appendage which showcases some good makers and I walked a lot and took pictures looking up.

Monday 24 February 2014

Tete a tete

That's what these miniature daffodils are called: Tete a tete
Found in the garden: a bowl of bulbs coming into bloom.
 No, I've not gone all pretentious, but the name of these little flowers does seem appropriate. Head to head, literally, though my computer can't oblige with an accent on the 'a' or the 'e's but also a tete a tete conversation which is what blogging is all about.

Having a shop is a kind of imprisonment. I volunteered to be imprisoned and I never regret it but at the same time I can't take off when I want to and just close the shop. It has to be open when it says on the door that it's open which is every Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm and often it's open half an hour earlier and half an hour later than that. But I did feel a bit twitchy at the weekend when I knew 'Unravel' the all-things-knitting show was on at Farnham Maltings and I couldn't go. True I could have gone on the Sunday but that would have meant not seeing my mother and it's important to me to spend Sundays in her company and to get her out for a breath of fresh air when she spends all week cooped up in a residential home.

Today, Monday is my free day, my me day, my day full of possiblilities and I like it that way.
True I have to do some paperwork in the morning but once that's out of the way I can take off. Maybe Brighton today?

I like to spend some of the time in the shop making and as my desk gets quickly cluttered with whatever I am making I plan to install a little table where the sewing machine can be left out. A real work table so my desk can be left tidy and clear for just wrapping purchases and taking money not strewn with bits of fabric, yarn and knitting needles as it is now. I'll tidy tomorrow. Today - Brighton here I come! 

Saturday 22 February 2014

In the window this week

A selection of goodies in the window of Handmade Happiness
 Today, buoyed up by recent comments, I have written two posts. When you have read this scroll down to read about Jill Poole and her lovely artwork.

Pictured above are one of my collage boxes £2-50 and Jenny Shutler's bracelet £32; a rabbit and teddy (£6-50 each) and Easter egg in chick £2-50 by Joyce Holland-Hill and mini picture of the South Downs by Sheila Barrow £38.

Kate Hackett's chicken toast rack (also good for storing post) £25 and spring flowers jug £18.

My lavender stuffed cashmere hearts £8-50; Sue Flux's purse on a long strap knitted with her own spun yarn £12-50 and Sue's interesting spun yarn with a touch of silver £10 for 50 grams.

Bee Mellor's beautifully made silk collage specs case £19-50 and Ann Hutchins' stump work butterfly embroidered picture £45.

Yesterday's flashes of sunshine were a gentle reminder that winter is drawing to a close and soon we will enjoy being outside again. Every year at this time I dream of food self-sufficiency from the garden (no, it's never going to happen!) and a continuous supply of flowers to cut for the house (slightly more possible.) 

This winter has felt far too sedentary for me (sitting in the shop) and I yearn to be more active. So I've signed up for a yoga class in Petersfield and I'm looking forward to getting back into the walking habit now that we can maybe risk leaving the umbrella at home.

Jill Poole's art work

Two of Jill Poole's cards
 Artist Jill Poole has a degree in illustration and creates pictures and cards all with a delicate, individual style.
Handmade Happiness sells her cards (15 different designs) and will soon have some of her original framed pictures.
Jill's garden and countryside themes are very appealing and in the tradition of Handmade Happiness her cards could be bought to be framed.
To see more of Jill's art work visit

Thursday 20 February 2014

Making brooches

Red velvet brooch by Jenny Stacy
Close up of same brooch by Jenny Stacy
I made this brooch in the shop and I hope to make others in different styles and different colours. It's quite large and dramatic. The sort of brooch that holds a thick cardigan closed or that sings from a black coat. Red enlivens and cheers and I think of it as a lucky colour for some reason.
The velvet is made stiff by some of my handmade felt as background and I've hand stitched the whole thing together. I so enjoy experimenting that it's like a treat allowing myself to make when the shop is quiet. 

Knitting falls into a different category and I knit a lot puting it down whenever someone wants my attention. A baby's cardigan and a pair of baby socks  just need the seams sewing and now I've started knitting pale blue rompers which hopefully will look as good as the picture in the book! Those are for my grandchild to be but I would also like a lot more handmade baby clothes to sell in the shop. I'll keep you posted on that.

Can I just draw your attention to the word Comments under this post? I want to feel this blog is an ongoing conversation and I would love to know how you feel about anything I've written about or not written about. 
Just click on that word 'Comments', write your comment in the box and click next to Anonymous. (You can identify yourself in what you write.) Then copy down a couple of words/numbers in the boxes provided and click on Publish. As easy as that. Thank you. That's for people who haven't commented in the past. For everyone that has commented in the past: Thank you again I really appreciate it. 

Tuesday 18 February 2014

The beautiful quilt!

Pam Dew's quilt. Fabrics designed by Kaffe Fassett

Pam Dew's handmade quilt hanging in Handmade Happiness
 I am thrilled to showcase Pam Dew's latest quilt in Handmade Happiness. I picture it over a double bed in an all white bedroom; white painted walls, white floorboards, everything white and this beautiful quilt providing all the colour you'll ever need.

Pam's expertise is in making patchwork quilts. (I have one on my sitting-room wall - geometric shapes, primary colours, I love it.) Can you remember her Amish quilt inspired handiwork for a customer last year? The customer was delighted with it.

Until it sells I will have the pleasure of staring at it. Thank you to Pam for making it so well and credit to Kaffe Fassett (a long time hero of mine)for his wonderful fabric designs.

Sunday 16 February 2014

Can you imagine sewing this?

A hand embroidered table cloth I bought at a charity sale
Detailing on the border
 I don't think many women today would be willing or able to spend months embroidering a table cloth like this. It is beautifully made and I think, should be recognised as the work of art it undoubtedly is. 

It is one of life's mysteries that people are willing to pay hundreds of pounds for some smeared paint in a frame that has maybe taken a day to create but unwilling to pay more than a few quid for an embroidered labour of love that has taken many months of eye-straining needlework like this cloth.

I remember older friends at craft fairs saying they were happy if they could make their table money and perhaps something towards buying new materials to make with. Lace makers, embroiderers, knitters. Sometimes you see the most exquisite work under priced. These older people have skills that the younger generation will not inherit. Why should younger people be interested in these heritage skills? They know there is rarely any money in it.

Until we are willing to pay a reasonable amount for the artisan's time and skill nothing will change. Talent must be encouraged. I know too many talented craftspeople who found it couldn't be made to pay. Once they take on full time work they find there is no time to be creative. 

I have a new patchwork quilt in Handmade Happiness. It is one of the most beautiful things I have seen. Made by Pam Dew for a double bed. The price is £385 . Not enough for the months of labour that have gone into producing it but we're getting closer...Picture next time. 

Friday 14 February 2014

Making or not making

Flowers from the garden taken a few summers ago
 First of all - love to you on Valentine's Day. I hope you enjoy romantic love, family love and friends' love today and every day. If, and it's only a small if, you don't receive anything today may I suggest buying yourself the red heart tin of Lindt chocolates which would make an excellent sewing or bits tin. I expect these to fall to half price by the end of today or after the weekend!

As you know I've been making collage heart cards for customers to buy to give their loved one. I've also made cashmere lavender filled hearts which are quite large and needlefelted small hearts on chains as pendants and on string to hang.

I intended to make lace patchwork hearts; linen and flowery vintage fabric hearts and garlands of hearts cut from old music scores and sewn three dimensionally together. None of those happened.

Sometimes you feel like making and other times you don't feel like making. The incessant rain can make you feel like burrowing deep and sleeping until its dry again!! I often find I'm too tired after being in the shop all day to do much making at night. But now the evenings are getting lighter and light brings energy.
When I look back to the days when I made myself make £60 or more worth of stock every day to make doing the Country Living show worth my while I wonder how I did it. But then I didn't have the shop in those days. Now I have a far bigger incentive than shows to make more stock. But I don't think I'm alone in finding these January/ February days the hardest days to be disciplined in.

I find it helps not to listen to the news very often. I don't want to know how much more rain is forecast. I feel dreadfully sorry for those whose homes have been flooded. It must be ghastly but seeing it all endlessly repeated on the news just gives me that helpless, frustrated feeling. You'd like to help but short of dropping everything, pulling on your waders and going to those places there's not a lot we can do. Except sympathise.

Sorry I got side-tracked. Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday 12 February 2014

Six new cashmere cardies

Pretty in grey with chiffon roses by Seonaid Noble
Softest cashmere next to Kate Hackett's ceramics
Nice styling in brown with chiffon detail
Dove grey cashmere jersey with pink chiffon edging
Something new at Hobbycraft
 Seonaid Noble makes these cashmere cardigans from her home near Petersfield. When she brought them in to Handmade Happiness she was telling me that so often knitwear called 'cashmere' has only a small amount of actual cashmere in it. Her clothes are different as anyone who has felt them will agree. 

These beauties are larger in size than the six I had in the shop over Christmas. Everyone loved those ones but at sizes 8 to 10 most women longed for bigger sizes. These are size 12 - 14. There is also a rust brown style and a fashionable singing orange colour not pictured. By the way Seonaid's  name is pronounced 'Shawna' just in case you were wondering.

On Monday I visited Hobbycraft at Havant. I bought a sewing book that I'd had out of the library before and I was curious to see the textile yarn pictured above. I remember when a friend used to queue up at jumble sales waiting to pull from the piles all the cotton t-shirts she could. She would cut these into long strips to make rag rugs with to sell. Now the work has been done for her. New at Hobbycraft are these reels of what looks like t-shirt ribbon to knit with, crochet with or even to make rag rugs with!

Are we being spoon fed like this because women haven't got time any more to make their own raw materials for craft?  Looking round Hobbycraft there's a lot of 'spoon feeding' going on. Make your own cards but first buy all the little bits to stick on your cards from us. Try 'decopatch' but first buy your papier mache 3D shape and the squares of printed coloured paper to glue on to them. (Someone phoned up recently offering the shop decopatched dinasoars.) 

Craft has certainly come a million miles from war time thrift when everything had to be re-used from adult clothes cut down to fit children to laddered stockings and worn fabrics cut to make plaited rugs. Admittedly there was probably more grim satisfaction than fun in making things like that. 

But now when people want to find more time to  get back in touch with their creative side to make things both beautiful and useful, what is more satisfying and fun that tapping in to our own imaginations to come up with something as wonderful and individual as we are!

Monday 10 February 2014

Making clothes for babies

Christine saw this on ebay and kindly bought it for me!

I am thrilled with this pattern I just received in the post. Christine, who makes the lino cut gift wrap and cards you see in Handmade Happiness found it. Thank you Christine.

It's marked 1973 and it's interesting to see that although fashions come round again some details don't look quite right for now. I would make the dress longer and leave off the lace insert on the nightie top left. I like the idea of the baby sleeping bag, bottom right but would that design allow the baby to kick freely?

I don't know whether my daughter's baby will be a boy or a girl. These fabrics are some I already own. I particularly like the brushed cotton (wincyette?) blue rosebud design. That one I think would look perfect on any tiny baby.

I was hoping to go up to London today but having just heard the news I think trains may be affected by flooding and impending flooding so I'll stay closer to home. If anyone reading this has been affected by floodwaters, my heart goes out to you. I hope and trust we'll get back to normal soon with warm spring sunshine and months and months of good summer weather not too far away.

 Maybe today I'll check out Hobbycraft - I haven't visited that store for months... I'll take my camera with me.

Saturday 8 February 2014

Fluffy chicks and bunnies

I am in love with these knitted fluffy chicks by Sue Inglis
Each bunny has been given a carrot this year. New from Sue Inglis
 Sue Inglis came in yesterday with lots of new knitted things. I love the fluffy chicks with their flappy wings. They also come in primrose yellow. £5-95 each for chicks and bunnies. Sue also makes striped mice and plain mice (pic to come) and I want to make a baby mobile by tying Sue's white chick, mouse, cat and rabbit to an embroidery hoop at different levels.

Sue's cats are pictured on the blog   which I've added to my blog list 'Nice to Look at.' The sisters, Maya and Freya are travelling round Asia. Locals will know them from The Natural Apothecary cafe in Petersfield where they worked until recently. It's the best cafe in town and Maya and Freya are the nicest waitresses you can imagine. Hope they're having loads of fun.

It's busy Saturday again. The weeks pass so fast. Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday 6 February 2014

The importance of yellow

Daffodils in the window of Handmade Happiness.
For years I didn't like yellow. I didn't want yellow or orange in my garden or in my home. But now I like them. Yellows look good with greys I've realised and now, when every day has grey leaden skies and rain a big bunch of daffodils is just what you need to bring a cheerful splash of colour.

Seeing daffodils in the shops also marks the beginning of the end of winter and the start of the beginning of spring. Joyful blooms. This picture is for Bee my friend in Australia. Where she lives in Queensland every day she says is much the same. Warm or hot. She misses the changing seasons and although we Brits moan a lot about the weather I think we'd miss the changing seasons too if we lived elsewhere.

Yesterday I tried only using landscape colours in my knitting. Blues and greeny-greys for skies and sea; sandy beige for sand and browny greens for land and hills. Strange how restricting ones colour palette to those colours of nature immediately made what I was making look more expensive. Note to self  - use these colours more!

Today and tomorrow my daughter will be with me in Handmade Happiness. I am feeling very lucky right now!

Tuesday 4 February 2014

A beautiful sky

The sky at dusk last night - about 5pm
The chalk line through it made by a plane
The white streak looks like lightning but it's man-made
As I drove back from Chichester yesterday there was a dramatic white cross in the sky reminding me of the time I saw the Red Arrows doing their aerobatic display. By the time I could safely take a photo just one line remained but it reminded me of how the subtle beauty of the sky can be dramatically affected by man. Because we haven't protected the planet properly from ourselves for decades we are now suffering climate change. Maybe it's time to stop pretending that what we do has no long term effect and to confront the problem face on.

So yesterday I visited all the shops in Chichester to check whether anywhere stocked baby nighties. As I couldn't find a pattern in C&H fabrics I thought that maybe Mothercare or Next or M&S or H&M would have something I could take the pattern from. I am looking for a brushed cotton nightie with a drawstring hem. The sort that my mother made for my first baby. I drew a blank everywhere and was told that mothers prefer babygros now. 

I remembered Mothercare stocking them, admittedly a fair few years ago and the assistant helpfully pointed out the Jules Oliver range for Mothercare (Jamie Oliver's wife.) She has designed a nightie just like the ones Mothercare used to make with the addition of an elasticated hem but it cost £12... so I came home empty handed but not discouraged.

I think Pinterest is partly responsible for my determination that this baby (my daughter's first child is due in July) should have lovely things. On Pinterest you can see the best of everything worldwide. So I am looking at wool handknits from the States; cotton garments from Spain, France and Italy and felted wool from Scandanavia. Natural, breathable fabrics that we create from what nature provides. I don't want fleece or nylon mixes. That would be like drawing a white cross on a perfect sky.

Sunday 2 February 2014

New handmade gifts

Chicken cushion made by Petersfield textile artist Pam Dew £39.50
New spring flowers designs and bunny mugs by Kate Hackett
As promised here's a look at Pam Dew's latest cushion and Kate Hackett's new ceramics for spring. What is special about Kate's work is that she is an artist and a potter. She buys clay, throws it, shapes it on the wheel and creates her pieces. Then she is equally adept at painting her own designs on them.  These spring flower pictures are particularly pretty. Handmade Happiness also stocks Kate's handmade decorations - lots of new hearts, chickens, bunnies and chicks for Valentine's Day and Easter tree decorating.

So many new things in the pipe line. The talk continues about womens' clothes and baby clothes for the shop. I know the kind of thing I want it's just a matter of persuading someone a lot more talented than me to make things!

My idea for setting up a work table where I could create during opening hours has not happened. I was forgetting that January is tax month and I seem to have spent most of that month doing paperwork.  Hopefully February will be the time to put those New Year resolutions into effect.

 Let's use Valentine's Day as a signal to Be Kinder to Ourselves day. Yes, lots of love to nearest and dearest and to everyone that comes within our radar but also, sometimes we have to remember that if we treat ourselves well everyone else benefits! 

For example how many times a day do you hear yourself saying no to yourself? 'Yes I need some more shoes and those ones in the sale look fine but no, I'd better not spend the money right now.' Sound familiar? The silly thing is that the financial position is not likely to change. It's the attitude that needs to change. 

With Spring on the horizon I feel the urge to decorate the house. It would be lovely to rip out the kitchen that I've disliked since I moved here and re-design the space. But new kitchens cost thousands of pounds. Maybe a fresh colour on the walls and some extra shelves would be enough...Now I'm saying no again!

 I once read that if you truly believe you deserve to have money that attitude creates wealth. On the other hand if you believe you aren't entitled to have money your money will never accumulate. You will somehow self-sabotage your chances of ever becoming wealthy! Now all we need to know is how to change the attitude!!