Thursday 30 October 2014

Cat brooches

Karen Boller has made these cat brooches for Handmade Happiness. £9.50 each.
Karen Boller already makes dog brooches for Handmade Happiness. Last week she brought in some bird brooches (pictured recently) which I love too. And yesterday these cat brooches turned up which I know will delight many cat-loving customers. At £9.50 each any of Karen's brooches would make a thoughtful gift for a friend or family member.

All the shops are about Halloween at the moment. And maybe Handmade Happiness is missing out by not hopping on the Halloween bandwagon. The window is dressed in autumn colours but sorry, not a cobweb or scary mask in sight. I've nothing against Halloween but it's a nice opportunity for families to make their own costumes/masks/scary cakes out of sheets and cereal packets etc. Save your money. Spend it on cat brooches instead!!

Monday 27 October 2014

Thinking online

Silk velvet dyed by Alison Crosthwaite

Last night a friend said, 'I do all my shopping online now. It's so much easier.' And I expect a lot of people think the same. But when you enter a bricks and mortar shop like Handmade Happiness it's a sensory pleasure. You can feel the materials,  you can look through the kaleidoscopes, you can share your reactions with a friend,  you get personal service from a real live shop assistant (me!) and a warm (human) welcome.

I love it when customers respond enthusiastically to things in the shop. I encourage them to pick things up and try things on. I wouldn't trust myself to make a decision to buy if I couldn't do that. 
(If I see the sign Please don't touch in a shop or at an exhibition I always read it as Please don't buy.)
 So I personally couldn't buy off the internet. I wouldn't be able to tell the quality from a mere picture. I need to pick things up.

It's much cheaper to have an online shop. You don't have to pay rent, or for your electricity, water, card machine hire and telephone. 

At Handmade Happiness those bills have to be paid whether people spend anything or not. The fact is an awful lot of people come in and say 'I'm just looking for ideas'. If they knew that for the shop to survive it has to take more than £50 a day just to break even would they occasionally buy something? Just a card or a button would do.

Don't get me wrong. I am thrilled when people get inspiration and excitement from seeing the beautifully designed and made items Handmade Happiness has  on sale. I love it when they leave dying to get home and on to their sewing machine to make something for themselves.  I'd just like them to know that for the shop to continue to provide this free service, to continue to be the wonderful, sensory overload experience that makes them happy, they have to occasionally buy something, otherwise bills can't be paid and the next time they come 'just looking for ideas' the shop will be gone.

Thursday 23 October 2014

More new things in the shop

Karen Boller has made these beautifully stitched bird brooches £9.50 each
Great fabric for this bag with matching ceramic button by Pam Dew £24.50
Emily Watson's delicately made silver jewellery, priced from £17.50

An avalanche of gorgeous new handmade gifts is coming into the shop this week:
Kate Box has designed and made some new style wrist warmers, scarves and neckerchiefs all in her trade mark, soft 100%  lambswool in lovely colour combinations. (Picture to come.)

Emily Watson has brought in new silver jewellery designs and more of her popular tiny word pendants.

Karen Boller, whose dog brooches are so popular is now doing birds as well.

Pam Dew is making some gorgeous textural fabric tree decorations I am really excited about stocking.

I've made lots of fairy boxes which are out on display, surrounded by lots more of Tanya Williamson's applique animal cushions.

Each day seems to bring fresh surprises. More to come.

Tuesday 14 October 2014

What I bought at the Knitting and Stitching Show

Love the colours of this silk ribbon pictured on a 'pre-felt' by PIIKU
Reds and pinks silk that will be good for Christmas makes or imagine it tied round a present!
Greyed pinks and bronzes from MoBair
Pre-felt from Piiku, blue wool from MoBair and Drops Alpaca silk for baby knitting
I didn't consciously choose things that blend in with one another but these do which tells me I should perhaps use a bit of everything in one project...

This pre-felt or 'needle-punched fleece' from Finland is interesting. You buy it by the metre and then can felt it by hand or just start off the felting process and put it in the washing machine to turn it into an attractive, thick felt cloth  robust enough for handbags.  I bought a metre of the one pictured and another metre in greens. It will be fun to experiment with using other wools in with it maybe.

I love the colours of this silk ribbon and plan to use it for jewellery, needle-felting and just for hanging stuff on the tree, present tying, and garland making. Gorgeous.

Victoria Smedley spins and dyes the lovely thick wools pictured. She keeps angora goats and her business  is based on their wool.

The Alpaca silk fine yarn is by Drops and I'm picturing a baby heart warmer knitted from one of these. Does anyone know of a pattern for this cross-over little cardigan? Actually more like a little shawl that goes round the back of the neck and fastens at the sides under the arms. I could try and make it up as I go along but it would be quicker to follow a pattern!

I've just noticed the date. 14th October. The shop's third birthday. Wow! 

Monday 13 October 2014

The Knitting and Stitching Show 2014

'Marking Time' by Josephine Edwards
'Swirl' by Helen Mastrandrea (silk fibre cloth)
If you know who made these impressive felted pieces tell me and I'll add their name/s
A pergola covered in knitted flowers in the entrance hall.
Yesterday I had a lovely day off at the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace in London. There is so much to see and inspire.

  This top picture of random smocking has stayed with me. 
This year I bought more than I usually do. Some things for the shop and some Alpaca/silk for knitting for baby Juno. It's the colours I am tempted by. I'll show you pictures of what I bought tomorrow.

 The greatest thrill was trying out weaving on a table loom on the Shetland Islanders stand. Tweed patterned in contemporary colour palettes is produced here and loom owner Andy Ross explained the mechanics of how colours and patterns are interwoven with shuttles through warp and weft threads. Fascinating. I'm inspired to make a basic loom with picture frame and wrapped threads but Andy Ross would say this is tapestry making not weaving.  The tweed used for making jackets and skirts is made on huge industrial machines but a small woven piece for a picture or brooch could be made on a home-made loom. Perhaps I could try out that lovely sari silk ribbon I just bought. Show you next post.

Thursday 9 October 2014

Beautiful pendants and brooches

Pendant made by Bee Mellor from fabric made by Jenny Stacy
Brooch by Bee Mellor and Jenny Stacy with appropriate button!
Heart brooch £15 by Bee Mellor and Jenny Stacy
Pendant £19.50 on silk tube by Bee Mellor and Jenny Stacy
Heart pendant with old lace £19.50 by Bee Mellor and Jenny Stacy
Embroidered needlefelt brooch by Bee Mellor and Jenny Stacy 
Heart brooch £15 by Bee Mellor and Jenny Stacy
Bee Mellor and I have been friends for a very long time and it is fun to work together on this jewellery project. I do the felting and needlefelting providing the base for our items. Bee cuts into and machine embroiders this  adding buttons or dyed silk ties making the brooches and pendants. We tend to like the same colour combinations and both love the designing/making process. This jewellery is only sold in Handmade Happiness.

I never know who is going to come into the shop next. Yesterday I had the first request for a Christmas raffle prize (I get lots of those and I'm not sure, to be honest, whether it is good for the shop to oblige or not!) And a joyful conversation with an expert knitter who loves knitting aran jerseys (the ones with all those cables). Her mother enjoys knitting Fair Isle patterns which I'd also love to have in the shop and her sister loves making all kinds of things. Fingers crossed they will be happy to see some of their work for sale in Handmade Happiness!

Tuesday 7 October 2014

Just thinking...

 Like all of you I was profoundly shocked at the latest beheading of a good man.  A man who risked  his life to help others. And it makes me wonder how we can have a more effective response to kidnap and blackmail. 

Our current bombing response is bound to kill the innocent as well as the guilty. And by innocent I include young people swept up by religious fervour into a nightmare situation neither they, nor we can control. 

I have no hope of a James Bond type hero swooping in to rescue the remaining hostages. Our governments will not allow ransoms to be paid nor negotiations to take place. But if it were my son being held I would want my government to negotiate. By being seen publicly to be the voice of reason in the world we could potentially calm some of the blood-lust and change peoples' allegiances. Right now we are just increasing the misery...

Friday 3 October 2014

Knitting, notebooks and pictures

Handknitted ear warmer headbands by Jenny Stacy
Leather bound notebooks by Sheila Barrow
Leather and painted collage notebooks by Sheila Barrow
View over the South Downs. Embroidered framed picture by Sheila Barrow
Wintery view over the Downs by Sheila Barrow.
Artist Sheila Barrow visited Handmade Happiness this week with these examples of her work and two big pictures, one of trees and and one of daisies and other flowers both not shown. I photographed them but the pictures aren't good enough to show you. I'll try again today!

Anyone who visited the shop this week probably saw me knitting these headbands. The idea was to do them wide enough to keep your ears warm. The wool/silk mix is especially nice to knit with. Like all things handmade I think I can do it quickly but it always takes far longer than I expect. Still a joy though, just a time-consuming joy!

I've also made some new buttons, felted some autumn leaves to hang in the window and I'm starting to collage some Christmas cards. Christmas stockings are also nudging to be made as are dolls and angels. As usual I wish I'd stockpiled for Christmas early in the year but as usual I haven't. I guess I like the sense of urgency that having to make a lot in a short time gives me!!

This month I am looking forward to baby Juno and my daughter coming to stay for a week. I hope Juno approves of the shop and finds plenty to catch her eye and be entranced by. When can I start training her up to be shop assistant extraordinaire?!!