Wednesday 30 April 2014

New cushion and jewellery from Pam Dew

Sheep and lamb cushion by Pam Dew. Note her own make ceramic buttons
A Jenny Stacy button on the back!
Pam Dew is an excellent needlewoman who makes beautiful quilts and applique cushions. She is also a keen cyclist who has now been inspired to make jewellery using bits of bike! Her third passion is ceramics and as you can see she has used her own ceramic buttons on this latest cushion. 

You can see her new website by clicking onto the top picture. I'll show you the jewellery - earrings, necklace and bracelet made from bike chain (well cleaned and polished) and slivers of rubber tyre - in another post.

Amazingly Pam also works full-time in a quite unrelated job but is always buzzing with energy and enthusiasm. She is a fan of 'green juice' where you turn cucumber, apple, spinach and basically any edible green thing into a juice and drink it and it's healthy and energy producing.

I haven't got a juicer at the moment but I reckon I need to get one. Yesterday I worked out that out of every 24 hours there are 9 whole hours when I am neither sleeping nor working in the shop. I need more energy to overcome the dragging effect of sciatica and be more productive in those hours. Green juice may be the answer! Have you tried it? 

Monday 28 April 2014

South Downs oil paintings by Claire Paul

South Downs view by Claire Paul
Oil painting by Claire Paul
by Claire Paul
South Downs view by Claire Paul
Hay bales in the sunshine. View over the South Downs by Claire Paul
New at Handmade Happiness are these oil paintings looking out over the South Downs. Local artist Claire Paul, whose house has views like this, brought in her original art on Friday and I am delighted to offer them for sale on her behalf.

Friday 25 April 2014

Baby Knitting and Sewing

Simple garter stitch cardigan and pretty cotton bloomers
This pattern allows for a large nappy I think...!
Same cardi different bloomers. I haven't gathered the waist yet.
I made this a while ago with cotton/wool yarn Amy chose. The pattern is by Erika Knight
 Today I'll be puting elastic into the waistbands of three pairs of bloomers. I was making them them in the shop yesterday and it's nice to work at the sewing machine between customers. In fact I plan to have a corner of the shop where the sewing machine is out permanently.

We don't know if baby will be a boy or a girl and I realise I'm making blue things. Girls look lovely in blue but I wouldn't put a boy in pink. But I did enjoy making the pink bloomers. I find it hard to find the right kind of material. I want 100% cotton or brushed cotton but finding them in small prints to suit babies at a reasonable price is hard. 

I recommend Erika Knight's patterns for knitting baby things. The green cardigan is the most successful cardigan so far. I knitted a white one a while back with a few pairs of socks- you may remember. The blue cardigan pictured above has turned out a bit wider than I intended ditto the knitted romper above but I hope they'll still look sweet on a baby.

Now I want to make some cotton tops. Just a simple long sleeve t shirt shape. Ideally with an overlap at the back and cotton ties at the back of the neck. Experimenting is needed... 

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Handmade Happiness - advertising

The under-advertised exterior of Handmade Happiness
 A challenge. I want a sign writer to use every white space above the shop (four spaces) to write Handmade Happiness in a hand-writing style way with perhaps the telephone number as well, but how to position that?

Second challenge. As you can see the shop has a flag pole from which a sign could be suspended. What do you think? A big wood sign would attract attention but personally (and I know this is silly of me) I am always wary of wood signs dangling over the pavement as I think they might fall and hurt someone one day. Is that totally daft? 

Other possibilities are one of those surf shop signs (too plastic) or a quilted fabric sign (too flappy). Whatever is suspended must tie in with the age of the building (400 years old) and the character of the shop (handmade art). My imagination is telling me a collaged sign on foam board  but I wouldn't want to get the step ladder out twice a day to take it up and down. I think it should be permanent.

I now regret the way HandMaDE Happiness is written because people ask if the letters MDE have a special significance. No. I just thought it would look more interesting written like that.
Ditto on the A board outside the shop which has more function as a childrens' plaything as the kids from the primary school love to walk through it! (And I'm happy for them to do so.)But at the same time I think the wording on it (which is green, another mistake) should again be more reflective of what the shop is like on the inside. Maybe the A board would be better collaged? 

Tuesday 22 April 2014


The view from my window at the New Orient Hotel
The Parc de Saint Cloud just outside Paris
Another view of the Parc de Saint Cloud

Notre Dame
I'm wondering if I'm testing your patience by writing about Paris again. From now on posts will be about Handmade Happiness ok?

Did I ever mention that we lived in Paris when Tim and Amy were small? Three years living in Saint Cloud which is just outside the centre. Our rented house had two cherry trees in the garden and was just down the road from the Parc de Saint Cloud pictured. We often walked there and Tim was keen that we went there this trip. It is very beautiful especially on a warm sunny day.

I've included a sardine box because one of the things I like about going to different places is seeing the packaging in the food shops. Different to ours. And if I liked sardines I'd use it in a collage. 

When we lived there before I remember that even if you were just served one croissant it was handed to you in  a white box with a white ribbon round it. I didn't notice that degree of packaging this trip but I love that attention to detail that leaves a good impression with the customer. And we all want customers to feel they want to come back to our shops!

Sunday 20 April 2014

Eating in Paris

Laduree window
Laduree window 2. The packaging is sooo pretty
We ate in a creperie. This one has a good look but we didn't stop here.
Beautifully made cakes!
Our picnic. In the bags are avocados and pains au chocolats
 I confess I put on four pounds in Paris but I hope it will disappear now I'm not eating pain au chocolats, baguette sandwiches and restaurant meals. 

On my birthday evening we had a wonderful meal at Chez Toinette in Montparnasse. I recommend this place. It's small and intimate, very French with delicious food cooked traditionally with a lot of butter(!) The family had duck or beef in rich gravy and I had salmon in a Parmesan and cream sauce (I know!). All meals accompanied with brocolli, sweet potato puree and a mould of potatoes gratin dauphinois. For desert I wanted the strawberry soup with lime sorbet or the creme brulee but no I was almost forcibly persuaded to have the chocolate cake which turned out to have my new age in giant candles on it!! The whole restaurant led by the waiter sang Happy Birthday or 'Joyeuse Anniversaire' to me...

On the first night we went to a creperie near the hotel. We all enjoyed a 'gallette de Sarazin' the savory pancakes made with  greyish, tasty buckwheat flour filled with meat, cheese and vegetables. (Amy and I had mushrooms, cheese and spinach in ours.) Followed by a sweet pancake with cooked pear, ice cream and caramel in my case. The men had Calvados (apple brandy) or Cointreau (orange flavoured liqueur) poured over theirs and then spectacularly set alight.

My son Tim who is very tall and slim was on a personal mission to find the best pain au chocolats. He found the best place to buy them. Why are croissants and pain au chocolats much better in France? So melt in the mouth buttery with so many doughy layers and a lot of chocolate.

We had two picnics in parks. We found strawberries to be very sweet and tomatoes soft and tasty. A bit more ripe than those in England in April.  Runny Brie and strawberries and avocado baguette sandwich anyone? That was my self assembled choice. The others put ham and slices of hard cheese and tomatoes in theirs. Fruit and/or pain au chocolat after.

We found that cafes in the tourist areas were very expensive. A mineral water for three euros ninety for example. The same price as a beer. Better to walk to somewhere in the back streets used by the locals.

I hope this post brings back some good memories of Paris for you or makes you want to visit Paris one day. Curious how it's very near London but so completely different! 

Saturday 19 April 2014

La Drougerie, Paris

Linen yarn above wool yarn
Fake flowers, fabric and butterfly in display cabinet
I like these little velvet flowers
Luxury ribbons
Luxury ribbons close up
Pretty glass beads
Nearby a minimalist shop front at agnes b.
I'm back from Paris. Foot weary but I had the best time. I've taken 117 photos. Thought you'd like to see the ones of la drougerie - every makers' heaven, first. Another year older but hey, I'm so lucky. I have the most wonderful kids who gave me 3 days in Paris as my birthday present.

The trip was easy and fast by Eurostar. The New Orient Hotel was within walking distance from the centre but peaceful and less crowded. I would thoroughly recommend this hotel in rue du Constantinople in the 8th to anyone visiting Paris. Clean, with very comfortable beds and thoughtful, friendly service. And an easy walk to the nearest metro (Europe or Villiers) though if you wanted to you could walk to Gare St Lazare which we did a few times.

At la drougerie I bought a baby clothes pattern and some thick pale blue felt. Sophie and Amy my daughters and Jess my son's partner all bought earring ingredients. I particularly liked the wing charms and wish I'd bought them now. After popping their heads round the shop door for a few seconds the three men found a nearby cafe to wait for us. We surreptiously took photos as you're not really allowed. Sophie's are the best. They look like gorgeous postcards. More of my less proficient photos to come. Happy Easter!

Tuesday 15 April 2014

Easter tree

Easter tree by Sue Inglis. Chicks, bunnies and sheep £5-95; pom-poms 50p; ceramic chickens by Kate Hackett £3.
Sue has cut branches of twisted hazel (sometimes called curly cob) and stuck them in a block of oasis. I am hoping that with regular watering some of it will take root. These branches would also be great to hang jewellery from, especially earrings.
Speak again soon.x

Monday 14 April 2014

Handmade buttons etc.

Buttons by Jenny Stacy
more buttons by Jenny Stacy
 Sometimes people ask if the buttons are made from Plasticine. No I say, they are made from Fimo. But I can understand where they are coming from. 

A lot of people assume they are painted but actually the colours are in the polymer clays already. You can mix colours to some extent or use them separately to make patterns. 

 Making buttons is fun and very creative because you are constantly experimenting, not quite sure how colour combinations and patterns will turn out.

If you want to see me this week come to the shop on Tuesday or Saturday. Because my birthday is on Thursday and I'm away with daughters and son to celebrate it -in Paris! It's their present to me and I plan to enjoy every second! 

I intend taking hundreds of photos to share with you but I may not be able to blog while I'm actually there. So bear with me and Saturday's post should be a good one. 

The shop will be open as usual while I'm away of course it will just be an unfamiliar face behind the counter! Look out for another blog post tomorrow. 

Any suggestions of special inspiring shops to visit in Paris will be appreciated. La Drougerie is already on the list!

Thursday 10 April 2014

Buying yarn

Cotton yarn by Debbie Bliss I bought in Chichester
 One of the things Petersfield lacks is a wool shop and before Handmade Happiness opened its doors I did think that it would stock wool but the yarn companies supply a shop six miles away and therefore they could not supply me as well. Since then a wool shop opened and then closed in the Folly Market but they also had outlets towards Portsmouth so they could simply shift yarns to Petersfield. Now I am happy to stock yarn handspun by individuals  and that blends in better with the all-handmade ethos of the shop.

Whenever I go to Chichester I check the yarn bin in C&H fabrics. When there are just odd balls of one colour they are sold off at half price in the yarn bin. That's where I got the three balls of blue above. The pink I just got because of the colour...

I am writing this standing up. Today I will seek out a physiotherapist and get my leg sorted out. I have been waiting to see one on the Nhs but I understand that could be many more weeks of waiting. Regular readers will know that I injured the leg at an excercise class. My plan for rejuvenation before grandmotherhood backfired. Why didn't I stick to brisk walks?!!

Tuesday 8 April 2014

How did this happen in Chichester?

One of the extensions to Pallant House Gallery, Chichester which faces....
...these historic houses in the Pallants, Chichester
The extension to the left of Pallant House Gallery which faces....
...this building in The Pallants, Chichester
The original Pallant House gallery building which was extended
Chichester has some glorious architecture. Walking through The Pallants yesterday I saw as if for the first time the extensions to Pallant House gallery and wondered how on earth these utilitarian buildings plonked down so incongruously amongst Georgian houses got through the planning committee? I'm not pretending to be an expert but yesterday my heart went out to the people who live here and have to see these boxy buildings on a regular basis.

Perhaps some people prefer boxy buildings and can see some artistic statement in them that others can't see? Perhaps if I knew more and had listened to the architect's justification for designing buildings like these I would appreciate them? Can we be told what we should like or should we feel free to make up our own minds about what pleases us as individuals? 

Years ago there was a pile of potatoes in one of the rooms of Pallant House Gallery. I asked one of the curators why they were there? Did you go to the talk by the artist? I was asked. If you had heard her explanation you would see the potatoes differently. Really?

Sunday 6 April 2014

The first dress!

Purple linen dress handmade by Roly Phillips, orange cashmere cardi by Seonaid Noble, hair band or could be worn as scarf by Pam Dew and bag by Jenny Stacy
As usual my camera has made the colours above too light. The cardigan is actually a clear singing orange. The bag and hair band brighter and the dress a rich shade nearer to aubergine than purple. Hey ho. But you get the general idea. Size? 12 to 14. The next dress, which I have a feeling will be red, will be in a larger size.

Meanwhile I am busy knitting baby things and trying to draw a pattern for baby bloomers but with legs on to brown wrapping paper.

Friday 4 April 2014

Shop change around

Penny Seume's velvet cushions and lampshades and behind Kate Hackett's ceramics and Pam Dew's quilt
Close up of Sheila Barrow's stitched sketch book cover
Kate Box's knitted textiles, Ali Cooper's ceramics and Penny Seume's lampshade
Lulu, my shop neighbour's dog likes to occupy my doorway when Tara pops out!
 My shop is 400 years old. The building used to be a coaching inn called The Green Dragon. A stopping off point between Portsmouth and London. Hence Dragon Street. This old stone step where Lulu likes to sunbathe is worn down by thousands of feet over the years.( I like having double doors which open out to allow buggies and wheelchairs in to the shop.) 

Lulu has many fans. You'll only see her in my shop when Tara goes out. Lulu ambles round (she's an old dog) seeking human company. Never be afraid to step over her. She won't move. Any command from me falls on deaf ears. She's waiting to see Tara, her mistress and that's that!

Though I say it myself I'm quite proud of the way Handmade Happiness looks at the moment. Encouraged by my 'international consultant' - an unpaid role held by my friend Bee who lives in Australia - I've shifted things round and the effect pleases me.

A lot of talent is showcased in this shop. A lot of people spend time looking in and through the window, sometimes they come in and when they don't I wonder if they fear that actually coming in will mean having to spend money. Well I like people looking and I never expect them to buy anything. If they do it's a welcome surprise but in terms of being a saleswoman I'm about as soft as Lulu the dog. So come on in, it's an inspiring place.

Wednesday 2 April 2014

New knitted cushions by Kate Box

Kate Box has made softest knitted cushions. Pictured with Kate's wrist warmers, baby snugglers and baby blankets.
 I love these cushions. The backs are plain grey knit and these cushions have the softest, cuddliest feel. Kate Box assembles many colours and somehow it works every time. Come and see Kate's work for yourself in Handmade Happiness. Open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 to 5.