Handmade Monday 77 – The Lounge

Welcome to this week’s Handmade Monday – if you’d like to join in, please visit Handmade Harbour for more info.

This week’s post isn’t about what I make, its about what makes it easier for me to be creative!

One of the “dread” aspects of running a small business for me is the admin – I can sense a few hands going up as this post is read too! I love to create, I love to teach and I love to be out chatting about what I do. What I struggle with is having to spend time sat in front of the computer typing away at things. I’ve been talking some things about my work life balance over with Tarryn from Mum’s Who Care and one of her challenges for me is to compile a work planner / timetable that gives me sufficient time for me and for family stuff within my working week. I realised in late June I was in danger of drowning under a sea of admin and had in some ways completely lost the plot with regards to business organisation and marketing. However I was offered the opportunity to try out a workspace away from home at the Lounge and although I was only there for half a day, my head miraculously cleared, I could shift from “worker bee” to “manager” view and sort out my workload.

On that Thursday afternoon I left with a plan  – ok it was broken down in different ways across 3 note books but it was a plan! I had a to do list and everything felt managable again. As each week has progressed my Thursdays have turned into this hive of “back room” stuff. I’m in a peaceful place and I can put my head down, sort out my priorities for the week and get on with it.


My workspace at home is the family PC, in the lounge. Living in a 2 bedroom flat with no storage and having to accomodate all my disability equipment and yarns means space is at a premium. Yes I try and keep the “office” area uncluttered and try to leave things where I can pick them up easily but sometimes it just doesn’t work out. Having an older teenager also means friends in and out during the summer break. And yes they can be loud and interupt my train of thought frequently, and if she’s in on her own afternoons are a mishmash of “Jeremy Vile” and American canned comedy, flicking to the Disney channel in the commercial breaks – she’s never been the sort of teenager who will happily sit in her room. So concentration and getting things done becomes a real challenge.

Working at home, can be isolating and that can block creativity for me too.  Yes there’s the internet and social media but I find I get far too distracted if I pop on Facebook or Twitter if I don’t have a specific job to do. I then start clicking on links and wandering through craft sites, thinking Oooooh I could do that and end up realising an hour or two has passed and I’ve done not much of my list!  What I love is working as part of a team, having people to bounce ideas off – opportunities to network and make links with people. And  the Lounge also provides this – sometimes its just myself and Theresa or Terry, the dynamic duo behind the concept, but other times we have a few ladies dropping in and out – sometimes for somewhere to work in peace and quiet and others for meetings. And suddenly opportunities for exchanging ideas, networking and building links appear. Sometimes its about helping to refine ideas or thinking about having a structured business plan. Others its about finding out who’s good to approach or work with on a specific topic. And hopefully there will be times when commissions arise too! The beautiful rural setting is inspiring too and I can’t wait to see the hedgerows in Autum. I already have some ideas I want to follow up when I’m out there!

By having the Lounge as “my office” I certainly feel freer and happier at home and making has yet again become more pleasurable and from that pleasure ideas flow more easily and I can “switch off” from the admin when at home. I obviously still use the home PC and do bits and pieces here, like the books and designing publicity materials but the majority of my admin is done, the laptop which acts as my “briefcase” can be popped into its corner and the following Thursday I can trot off to the office again!

Handmade Monday 76 – The Fair

Welcome to another Handmade Monday – to take part, pop across to Handmade Harbour where you’ll find all the instructions. its a great way to meet other crafters and find out all about them, whilst giving them a chance to know more about you!

Regular readers will know that for the last few weeks the only words leaving my finger tips…. and in the real world my lips….. have been “Craft Fair”. Alongside a team of others I’ve been organising my first fair, mainly co-ordinating the admin, sorting out press releases, blog posts, persuading people to go and persuade others to display posters and annoying everyone on Facebook with a myriad of posts about it! And that’s just the bits I can remember lol! Its been fun, hard work and a great learning curve – but more about that another day and I’ve got a great new feature for my blog from it – Friendly Fridays, where I’ll be featuring other local and maybe not so local creative people!

Anyway as tiredness has now taken over, here’s a photo montage of the event:

And now table by table:

Cafe Area in Books for Free


Ground Floor

Floristry Demonstration

Main Room


First Floor


I’d also like to thank the team of volunteers who helped out on the day, The Books for Free Team ran the coffee bar and yomped up and down the stairs on many an occaision providing stall holders with tea! Rozi for rescuing us and making 150 bahjees at the 11th Hour. Arzool who recruited ladies from the local community and went all over the place with posters. The guys from Awaaz FM who likewise walked a fair distance round the local faith houses handing out posters. Lucy and Angela for being kidnapped and sent out to deliver posters in all weathers, whilst I mainly stayed dry in the car and “supervised”;  Gwyneth and Mrs O for helping out with my stall so I could go wandering when needed. Wendy and Holly Press for organising and running the raffle, getting out and about with yet more posters and Holly for tweeting above and beyond the call of duty! And of course the team – Jenni Clemmens from Craftizan who was my partner in crime, Stephen and Ross from the 3AC who  did alot of the backroom stuff as well as promoting the event to all and sundry and

press ganging their families into helping. Cara who not only organised the BFF team and made her own stock but also tramped the local streets with posters and fliers.  And Kelly and Sam who helped out with front of house, helped recruit stall holders, spread the word and ably stepped into the official photography gap when our photographer was taken ill. And if I’ve forgotten anyone

The Prequels 3: Introducing Federica and Louisa

Yes another shameless plug for the Southampton Vintage and Artisan Craft Market! However the real aim, apart from getting you along to see an amazing pool of local talent,  is to showcase another pair of dedicated crafters who will be there this Saturday!

Louisa Slade – selling jewellery, vintage clothing and body oils

ImageHi, I’m  Louisa Slade. I’ve been making jewellery for 2 years now. My business started up when a few people asked me to make them a necklace for  friends birthdays and from there the word spread! More and more people became interested in purchasing a piece of jewellery that was custom made, and tailored to their needs and wants. 
My inspiration and passion is making jewellery that has meaning, whether as a personal gift for a loved one, or something designed and made to an individual’s exact specifications. My favourite things to make are wedding rings and personal gifts, as well as my ‘Heartstrings’ range which raises money for children in Africa.
I hope to gain exposure, experience and to meet a a broad range of people also inspired by the world of crafts by attending the Vintage and Artisan Craft Fair at 3AC
The best thing I’ve ever created is the tree that I cast in silver using a cuttlefish as the mould. It ended becoming the symbol for my logo, and it inspires me every day.
My name is Federica and I’m 26. Since I was a child I used to make small things with my sewing machine. Now I spread around the world my little creations like handbags, brooches, cases or purses.
I  love to let myself be inspired by printed fabrics and everything that arouses my curiosity.
I started 6 years ago and I’m very proud of my experience in sewing and embroidering.
I hope to meet a lot of new people and gorgeous crafters….and to drink a nice cup of tea as well, at the fair on Saturday.
I’ve chosen the photo’s for this feature because I want to give a little bitty of my creations.
The best thing I’ve ever created?….Good question…maybe when I’ve created 30 paws brooches for a dog club

The Prequels 2 – Introducing Cara and Sarah

The Southampton Vintage and Artisan Craft Fair will be held this saturday, 21st July, from 10am to 1pm at the Millenium 3rd Age Centre, Cranbury Terrace, Southampton, SO14 0HL

Artists and Makers List:

Pandora Style Jewellery; Sew Now; Crafting Cronies; Silk Dreaming by Cara Sandys; Cake a Moment; Crowns by Penny Cox; Lynne Bartholomew – Vintage wares on behalf of Basics Bank; Arts and Murals by Donna Mcghie  includes face painting; AussieJax; Louisa Slade Jewellery including hand blended body oils and vintage clothing;  Bits and Bobs Crafts; Glowbox Solar Lanterns; Zeenat Khan – Asian Dressmaker; Nazreen – Fusion Snacks; Birthday Cakes; Angels on Loan; Rosalind Rose, Artist: Katie Hatch, Photography

This week we are featuring a small selection of the Artists and Makers in depth, starting with

Cara Sandys from Silk Dreamings:

 Cara is an artist who has developed her skills into jewellery design. Having taken O Level art in school, she took a different path for sometime and went into teaching. Having made jewellery  as a hobby, she went professional in 1996. And went on to gain an Art Degree too!  She sells her creations at a variety of small local outlets, mainly galleries that care about their artists in the UK and Australia. She found her varied sales outlets during an epic, public transport based tour of both countries! And still splits her time between the UK and Australia.  Cara has a passion for recycling, upcycling and repurposing and often uses these themes when selecting the raw materials for her creations.

She also runs the Books for Free store in the basement of the Third Age Centre, you can pick up 3 free books and 3 free videos per visit and they always welcome donations. Make time to have a look whilst you’re at the Fair, and browse the eclectic collection whilst enjoying a cuppa and cake!

Sarah Murray from Sew Now 

Hi, I am Sarah, Mum to 2 children aged 4 and 10, and I have to craft to be happy! I have been sewing for 5 years, crocheting for 2.I filled the house with sewn and crocheted items, and then started selling to friends, started a blog, then a Facebook page, and have been really busy with orders. I will custom make almost anything from fabric or yarn.Fabric and patterns inspire me – they give me a physical jolt of excitement  – and act upon it. 

This my first fair – so I want to survive, get some feedback in person, and hopefully sell some of what I make.

The photo’s Ive emailed show that  I make a wide variety of things – and I wanted to give a taster of the many different things I will be bringing along. The best thing you’ve ever created are HaPEE Mats – a brand new eco friendly toilet/night time training mat.

The Prequels – Count down to the Vintage and Artisan Craft Fair

I went along to the venue yesterday and have sorted out the final plan and fitted everyone into the space. We’ve obviously had the odd grey hairs moment but yesterday it felt, as in the words of the “A team” that a “plan was coming together!

Whilst we are waiting on a couple of confirmations we have a stunning line up of designer – makers, artists and vintage sellers, who’ll be featured on this blog in the coming days!

To start us off, here’s a tantalising glimpse at the work of the talented ladies and gents who have confirmed stalls so far. Please click on their name to visit their website / facebook page:

Pandora Style Jewellery

Sew Now Are We

Crafting Cronies

Silk Dreams by Cara Sandys

Cake a Moment

Cakes for All Occasions

Crowns by Penny Cox

Lynne Bartholomew – Vintage wares on behalf of Basics Bank

Arts and Murals by Donna Mcghie  includes face painting


Louisa Slade Jewellery including hand blended body oils and vintage clothing

Bits and Bobs Crafts

Glowbox Solar Lanterns


Zeenat Khan – Asian Dressmaker

In the run up to the Vintage and Artisan Craft Market at 3AC, each maker who has confirmed will have a mini interview featured on the blog, along with more images of their stunning work! So watch this space!

Handmade Monday 74 – Bangles at the Fair

Welcome to this week’s Handmade Monday – if you want to join in, and its well worth doing – then pop over to Handmade Harbour for more info.

As I mentioned in my previous post I was concentrating on the smaller things in craft last week for quick “wins” to regain my mojo – which is definitely back! Now have the jumper I’ve designed for a client on the needles and am upscaling a crochet pattern to make a cardigan for a one year old, so am well and truly rejuvenated. The massive to do list has shrunk greatly and the craft fair bookings are rolling in – but more about that later in the week!

So back to Handmade Monday’s topic – Bangles at the Fair! Another reason for making the bangles was to ensure I had prices for all pockets on my table at the two events I was booked to do over the weekend. Saturday’s event was postponed due to rain sadly but Sunday’s went ahead. It was a charity gala for the Mayor of Fareham’s Charity Appeal. Their aim is to raise funds for Wessex Heartbeat, who support the local cardiac unit at Southampton General. They’ve just been appointed one of the new regional childrens’ cardiac centres after a long and well fought campaign from the parents of the children who have survived only due to their excellence. Ocean Ward are now raising funds for new equipment to ensure they can help even more children have a fantastic life, free from the restrictions of cardiac problems.

On arrival we realised that we had the stock and gazebo but the table had been hit by “everybody, somebody, nobody syndrome” and was sat in the hallway. The organisers scrounged us a table from the onsite clubhouse so we were fine!

Here’s the stall all set up and open for business:


The display boards didn’t last long however as a gust of wind took them out, hitting a cup of black coffee and spilling it down my legs and feet and pooling in a shoe.  The local St John Ambulance were fantastic, and thanks to their expertise my foot is fine! Though 15 mins of iced water ended up feeling like torture come the end! What I really appreciated was that as well as getting on with the job, they took time to find out about my spinal issues and how that would affect how I experienced the pain from the scald. We’ve now decided that display boards will now be set up on the floor at outdoor events – think that means I’ll be writing another risk assessment!

Due to the weather the number of people who came was really low and no one got many sales, infact most of the crafters sold nothing and even the stunning cupcake makers didn’t sell much stock, so we all felt a bit disappointed but at least our table fees went to charity, which was worthwhile in itself.

I was struggling for ideas intially of how to show the bangles, but finally hit on an idea I think worked well. We covered a cardboard tube in green paper, then stood the tube on a green ramekin. When I stacked the bangles on it, I realised that it would make a really eyecatching table centrepiece for a wedding table or an everlasting corsage for a bridesmaid, so I’ll be making up a set in the colours we’ve chosen for the Handmade Wedding event, Inspire, Create and Celebrate have planned for September. I’d be interested in feedback about this idea – do you think it would work?












I designed some of the flowers myself and used a couple of crochet books for inspiration for the others. I also played with the colours to build up layer that toned with bangle covering I’d created. I’m contemplating developing a pattern book and instruction guide for them in the future


Here are a few I’m really pleased with:

Black Primrose

This black and white flower is inspired by primroses. I liked the contrast between the black and silver on the bangle and chose a white yarn with a sparkle highlight to echo the contrast in the decal.









White Rose

White and green always work well together and are key colours in White Gardens. The rose starts life as a crocheted circle, made with a spiral technique and back loop double crochet. I then changed direction and worked towards the centre creating a ruffled edging into the front loops with chain stitch and slip stitch. I first created this rose sometime ago when playing around with techniques.






The Heart

I created the heart from making a simple 3 petalled flower in white. I then started experimenting with stitch heights in pink. I added a bead to the centre of the heart to catch the light.

I’d love to do a stack of hearts in toning shades as I think they’d make a stunning ladies accessory for an evening out.






Furled Rose

Thwe photo here doesn’t fully capture the 3 dimensional quality of this rose but it shows much better on the stack photos at the top of the page

Again this is made using a similar spiral base to the white rose but instead of using dc all the way along, I increased the stitch height everytime I reduced the number of increases on a round – so I started with dc and ended up with double trebles. I had a sort of cup shape which transformed into a rose when I worked back into the front loops with a pink edging. I want to attempt a spray of roses in this style to decorate a flower vase cover. My Mum used to have a similar vase, which I nabbed from Dad some years ago when he was having a clear out. Sadly it got broken a couple of years back and I want to create a tribute to it – just for me!



Dianthus Cuff

This cuff is truly stunning in “the flesh”. I created the flower inspired by the dianthus flower, edging the centre and each petal with a deep red. To accentuate the centre I added a clear vintage button.

The cuff is crocheted in treble stitch and closes with deep red vintage buttons






Orange Rose Cuff

Another version of the black cuff above. I crocheted the rose in orange mohair yarn and then went back over the front loops with black single crochet with no chain stitches in between. It gives a really fantastic running stitch effect. I had no idea what the finished rose would be like – I think one of the things I love about creating flowers and other embellishments is the scope I have to “play” and come up with a variety of stunning effects.






Pink Princess Daisy Cuff

I also wanted to make a child sized cuff, and came up with a pink based which I edged in peach. I then created a daisy with a pink centre and peach petals. To accentuate the centre I sewed a vintage button in place to help secure the flower to the base.








Here’s a little sideshow including some bonus images:

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What I’ve Learned Wednesday – The Importance of Setting Goals

I’ve always thought I was pretty focused on what I need to do, until I woke up in  total panic last week and felt totally overwhelmed. I grabbed some time out, sat down with pen and paper and made a rough list of what I needed to do in the next 7 – 10 days and realised I’d completely lost the plot with making goal and to do lists.

Whilst goals are not to do lists, they are the essential thing that makes a to do list functional. So after a couple of peaceful hours at the Lounge on Thursday afternoon I managed to come up with something that helped me plan my diary…. and yes whilst I’m in confessions mode, I’ve not been doing that either, which is probably another reason for feeling overwhelmed. My relapse recovery is also at the yoyo stage where I have good days and bad, and that further complicates life as I have to reign myself in on good days and rest more on bad days, so feel I’m not achieving as much as I should! I’ve also noticed the urge to be distracted by “shiny new things” creeping in – any idea I can grab at that seems good, despite the fact that it might be contributing to the “overwhelm factor” and distracting me from my real goals!

I used to teach goal setting in a previous job, alongside action planning or sub goals and the main thing we used to emphasise was realism! I can almost chant the rules we encouraged our classes to take on board like a mantra:

1. Don’t set a goal that you need to work on 7 days a week – why? Because if you have a “lift gets in the way” moment and don’t complete it, them you say to yourself “I’ve failed”, hit the “To hell with it” button and give up trying

2. Be kind to yourself – if you think you can do something for an hour at a time, half it! Why? again its about not setting yourself up to fail – us human beans tend to over-estimate what we can achieve, and as a result set the bar too high. There’s nothing wrong with aiming for the moon, over shooting and hitting a star, but if we aim for the stars and hit the moon – a massive achievement none the less, we see ourselves as having failed.

3. Make sure its something you won’t see as a chore – if you resent your goal, you don’t put half as much effort in and try very hard to procrastinate and avoid.

4. Use problem solving techniques if you hit a barrier – these include asking for help ( am now hiding under desk in shame at my refusals to do so) and delegation……. least said etc!

So having realised I was disappearing up my own bottom in a state of confusion, was resenting and hating the very things I love about what I do, making and teaching and feeling lost in a stormy sea of paperwork and feeling life was generally chaotic, I set to and….

1. Wrote it all down on paper – things on paper seem smaller and more tangible, you can get hold of them and look for areas of overlap – or discover the art of killing 2 birds with one stone

2. Once I had a key list of targets, I then got a second sheet of paper and produced a task list and soon identified some ways I could combine my efforts.

3. Prioritised – worked out which things were a must do!

4. Grabbed the diary and wrote in jobs for each day

5. Got another pen and blocked out time off! That wasn’t comfortable but it meant I could see making as a leisure activity again and I’ve now got my “mojo” back

6. Went to a “Kick Start Monday” workshop at the Lounge – Theresa and Terry ran a great session for around 8 ladies. We all set our business goals for July and gave each other lots of ideas and support in refining them and making them tangible and measurable.

7. Have committed to asking a couple of friends to come round whilst my daughter is on holiday and help me get my workspaces organised – trying to find the things I need is a real source of stress at times, so having the ability to put my hands on things will help immensly and I know that I cannot do it all on my own as I’ll physically crash again!

So if you are feeling like me, then all I can say is that avoiding the overwhelm is just a recipie for it all feeling worse. Once its out of your head and on the page, you can see the stuff that’s driving you mad – and once you can see all the issues, you can grab them, give them a good shake up and sort out a prioritised to do list. And trust me the sense of joy that comes from ticking each item off is fantastic!!

I’ve also decided to work on small items until the list is complete – crafting small items is a fantastic way to feel you’re winning as you can produce lots in an evening, adding to that glowing sense of achievement! As you can see they are all based around bracelets and cuff. I’ve been toying with the idea of ways to cover thing silver bangles in crochet for a while – I want them to look woven – the silver weaving through the yarn and think I’ve achieved it. The pictures don’t do the final products justice as they all need finishing and joining, but I’m really pleased with them as I’ve managed to make them up in 2 evenings!:

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