Wednesday, 30 September 2015

The 2015 Handmade Fair: Knitted it, ate it, nailed it.

It would've been rude not to go really, and in the name of research (ahem!) Jaydee and myself set off for Hampton Court Palace. Please don't go all Henry VIII, it was the parky bit with tents and marquees and a whole heap of ladies getting their craft on. In the interests of gender equality, there were some chaps too, but you get the general idea.

Apart from a small issue with Jaydee being on crutches (I am not destined to be a carer, I wander off with handbags when I see something shiny) and a rather tricky junction in London where Nora the Navigator decided to ignore the fact that there were 6 lanes and we needed to know which one to chuffing get into, it was a pretty awesome day.

We'd booked 'Treat Tickets' which meant you got a free gift at a small (we had a snowflake necklace, super Christmassy), a session in the Super Theatre, a tutorial session for an hour and a 'Grand Make'.

The Theatre session saw Kirstie Allsop get her sew on which was pretty hilarious -the thing I like about her is the way that she admits when she's not a pro at something (no one likes a goody two shoes) and if the cameras weren't rolling I can imaging the odd swear when it goes wrong. Lisa Comfort was the expert on hand, who actually went cross eyed when Jaydee asked in the Q&A whether it was 'alright to bodge it'...apparently not. Turns out we might be better with yarn that sewing machines, but the big top was a great venue and after the manic traffic it was nice to sit down for half an hour and have a giggle.

Our tutorial session was with 'I Make Knots' a super yarney collective who can teach you everything from knitting to crochet, macrame and more. Loved it. The mood was really relaxed, we learned to make knitted necklaces and bracelets and I loved the fact that they managed to come and demonstrate finger knitting 1:1 as we'd zoomed through. Even better was the fact that as the last session of the weekend we got to raid their t-shirt yarn stash and take the extra's home.

The last session was a 'Grand Make' which basically means 100+ people in the room crafting together. We chose block printing with some utterly beautiful wood cut blocks. It was Christmassy, and apart from the fact it was a little rushed, made me try something I wouldn't otherwise have done. Might have a go with a potato for Christmas cards...

We didn't spend all day eating, honest...

The shopping was bonkers -you could have spent a fortune on Christmas gifts, and if you are a keen sewer, there was a huge range of fabric to choose from. I was a little disappointed at the small range of yarns -those stands that were there were super quality (Toft for example) but if you wanted T-Shirt yarn, or needles/hooks, you couldn't get it. That said, this fact probably means my kids will get presents this year as I haven't blown the budget!

Would I go again? Hell yes. It's worth it for a day without the kids, a chilled lunch, a cocktail if you fancy it and some great crafting. Here are some handy tips to help you out:

1. Don't take kids (please!). It was fab to have a day off where I wasn't a mum. It was mostly an adult affair and I'd love to see it stay that way for all crafty-mums-who-have-escaped sake;

2. Flat shoes ladies: it was outside, and you'll be dashing about all day. Heels may make the outfit, but come fit for a craft workout;

3.  Book your sessions in advance: if you want something v. popular, book them up ahead of time, and make sure you look at how they are timed throughout the day. Have you left enough time for food (because it's bloody amazing!);

4. Go on a Sunday: it's the last day, it feels very chilled and you might grab some freebies from the tutors or some utter bargains in the shopping tents.

Did you go to? How was your visit? I'd love to find out more xx

Friday, 18 September 2015

Dad Made It: Crochet Tools for Muvverhookers...

So the last time Dad and I worked on something it was my GCSE maths coursework. There were tears, it didn't end well and I wasn't (quite) old enough to hit the Merlot to take the pain away.

Fast forward 20years and due to a Grandparent-down-size-garage-clearance situation, Dad has taken up wood turning...Like a tired mum to Friday night gin, he's got bloody addicted. I like the fact an ancient skill is being passed on from one generation to the next. My mum likes the fact that Dad lives in the garage.

He's made a lovely couple of yarn bowls, pincushion-cups and most lushly, crochet hook stems. This is the pretty bit that makes me feel like Hermione Grainger (slightly more than usual). And a big plus is the fact that they stop my hand gripping the hook so hard -you sort of roll the hook in your fingers rather than my usual vice-like claw hand. Anything that reduces the RSI pain and awful tension problems is fine by me.

So where can you get them? Initially from some of the Autumn & Christmas Fairs I've got coming up. Come and see the hooks in action and have a go yourself. Then, on my etsy shop. Dad's always up for a challenge and a commission, so drop me a message and we'll see what we can do. After all, it make's Mum's life quieter! xx

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Happy Holidays Mess No. 2: Potty training (or, 'How to crap in a wheelbarrow like a pro')

Hattie is two and a half. She is my second and final child. I can't express how much I am over scraping poo off her butt. She needs to do her thing in the appropriate place. So decision made, it was time to communicate this to Hattie. 

The summer holiday is hailed as the 'perfect time' to potty train your toddler. There is not a perfect time. It is not a perfect process and frankly some well adjusted, professional adults still seem to struggle. We (I) faffed about with knickers and praise and gritted teeth for the first couple of weeks and then honestly, buggered off to my mums. 

***Admission: I've never been in charge of potty training before. My son was in full-time nursery as I was working and I effectively paid them to do it and followed their lead. What I didn't realise until now is how much I had actually paid them to train me how to do it. 

The lowest point (apart from the washing, which actually I don't mind, I like cleaning products) was walking into the living room from the kitchen to find Hattie had taken off her knickers and placed them on her head. She had found and replaced them with a nappy, and was happily throwing Lego bricks at Simon Cowell who was on Top Gear. Most of this situation I thought was fair, but she was no closer to crapping in the right place. 

.....To read the rest of this frankly revolting saga, click here >> .....

Friday, 31 July 2015

The Wheels on the Bus go Where?

The first of our adventures for this summer was to the Firepit Campsite in Norfolk...Sam and Hattie are now obsessed with playing buses, making up stories about where they are going to go, and holding the obligatory fire drills...

Find out more about our adventures by checking out my new 'Happy Holiday' page!!

Friday, 24 July 2015

Keeping track of the days this summer x

There are loads of free printable scrapbook pages, calendars and to-do lists out there at the moment, and they are a cute way to organise stuff. As soon as school was out (less than 30 hours ago as I write), Sam was asking what was happening on what day...over, and over again!

So I sat down and doodled a quick week planner that we could put on the fridge and scribble it all on. It's really straight forward- and if you have a printer that scans at home, you can make multiple copies!

I used these awesome marker pens by Edding to make a clear image -keep it simple and make sure there is space for doodling. I didn't have to worry about sizing as my scanner sort of figures that out to print on A4, but if you are doing it all by hand, you might want to make sure it's the right size to fit in a plastic wallet.

Then I scanned the image and tweaked it a little (sharpened the contrast and brightened out any smudges) using the simple edit tools in iPhoto. Printed off 6 copies for the holiday weeks and bunged in a plastic wallet.

Our planner is stuck on the fridge -Sam can see it and so can Daddy (always handy as he asks me what's happening too). I've also stuck up another plastic pocket next to it to keep all the tickets, pics, labels and invites that we might collect over the summer. At the end, the calendar can be used as a scrapbook for us to remember what happened, sticking in the collected treasures on the right pages.

You can swipe my planner by saving the image at the top of the page, or if you want crisp pdf copy, send me a msg xx