Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Real life problems: Yarn Storage

I started to get a bit overwhelmed as I really was drowning in yarn!


Warning the following four images are just gratuitous yarn shots! 






Let's get back to the real life problem. Almost one year ago, I had another beautiful baby boy. My other boys are teenagers so our house had become a more grown up house. We have a playroom for the xbox and massive telly required by grown up boys and apart from lots of sport equipment toys were rare these days. 

Our house had become a bohemian and lovely space. Comfortable, quite messy in a sit-down-and-be-cosy-friends-always-welcome kind of way and I had (have) a lot of hobbies and half done projects which require equipment. This worked out pretty well but once we started to add; changing mats, toys, nappy storage, toys, new baby washing piles, toys, jumperoo's, toys, bouncy chairs, toys, pram, did-I-mention-all-the-bloomin-toys! I started to feel out of control. 

I like the toys, I don't think we have that many just coupled with my personal style which is quite cluttered anyway it soon felt too much and not in a good way. My son has inherited some of my personality as he loves to get every toy out, scatter cushions on the floor, empty the nappy storage (all clean items - don't worry) and we were spending most of our days living in this...





There was a while, where I thought - it's fine, he's going to have awesome orienteering skills! But it has started to get to me more as he moves around more. I want him to have space to play and I want to have space to sit on the floor with him. 

This was the catalyst for coming up with a solution. I love problem solving - it takes time, but I really enjoy it. I have spent a long time thinking through and decided that I needed to change up the furniture as it wasn't working and repurpose some of the items. I had all my yarn in a beautiful old bohemian 1970's storage unit which reached the floor. I decided this would work much better for toys and then started to think about how I could store my yarn. I like to see it, as it encourages me to not go and buy more yarn for small projects as I often have what I need already. If I hide it away, I would go yarn shopping much more often and I don't need to do that. 

I tend to make quite a range of crochet projects - toys, amigurami, blankets, flowers for my shelves and so on. Quite often my projects don't need masses of wool, which means I end up with quite a lot of half balls of yarn and I have started buying lovely hand dyed skeins of wool as they are just gorgeous and I have those rather than lots of different balls. 

I estimated I had around 100 balls of wool to store. As I am a shelf-maker (you can view my etsy store here)  I decided to come up with a wall mounted solution which would display these 100 balls and still be easy to access. I did NOT want them to all fall out every time I took some yarn from the bottom of a shelf. 

Firstly I carried out some market research and looked into what storage is already available. None really. A lot of people use Ikea shelving and while that works well in the main, it doesn't stop wool falling out. There are some beautiful glass fronted vintage armoires which work very well but I don't have £1000 to spend and wouldn't have the floor space either. 

I also asked people how much yarn they had. The answer was a lot! So I started to draw bigger shelves than I'd originally planned. I counted my yarn and there was nearer 200 balls to store too, once I'd rounded up all the stray carrier bags with balls stashed in them. 

Here is an image of my very first design. It worked really well except the elastic wasn't quite covering the way I needed it too. Some balls of wool were at risk of falling out as I reached for another. 





These two pictures above show me testing the shelves in my own dining room/ craft room. It was quite messy as there were 200 balls of wool scattered about the place and that's when I took the picture of me drowning in yarn. 

Teenage son had a lovely time chucking balls of wool at me and then photographing the results! 



You can see above that I used mirror plates to hang my shelves. I always use these as I find them long lasting and sturdy and with this shelf it can be completely invisible when the wool is in there. 

I decided to add more elastic and kept to a strict design, so that the shelf looks beautiful. I didn't want the elastic to detract from the yarn, and chose to make the shelf available with either black, white, pink or clear elastic. 

Here you can see my finished product, in use, in my own home. 



I've tested it out and it works. Nothing has fallen out. All 190 balls of wool (of varying sizes - some full balls, some skeins, some small ones and some chunky yarns) do fit in. There's even a little space to add more! 


This wall makes me so happy every time I see it now. It's a practical problem solver and a work of art! 

My yarn storage shelf is now available for sale on Etsy and all the product features are listed there. I've also protected the design so I am the only person who can sell these. 

I'm really excited to share my problem solving with the world! 





Monday, 10 April 2017

For the love of rainbows

Hello all,

I'm writing this about rainbows. I know, you picked that up from the title, but I couldn't think of another way to begin. There aren't any other words to describe rainbows! 

I'm a colour lover, which if you have ever read this blog before you already know. I like brights and pastels and am a fairly confirmed bohemian maximalist. Is that an actual thing? If not it should be. I like spaces and interiors to feel busy, homely (really-that-should-say-messy) and comfortable. Like you can put a mug down on a surface and not feel guilty. Like you can make yourself at home. Like you want to come to my house. 

When I was around five years old, I remember taking part in a 'wear as many colours as possible' charity event at school. I can't be sure if it was Comic Relief, or Children in Need but it was something like that. My school uniform at five, included a stiff necked blue shirt, and a tie, so getting to wear own clothes was a huge treat. I didn't go to a public school or anything, just no one had thought to let little kids wear t shirts and sweaters like they do now. I vividly remember having crochet socks with a diamond pattern, knee high and in white and my Mum let me colour every diamond in with marker pens. I loved that outfit and felt like a 'bobby dazzler' (Northern Colloquialism for 'outfit on point' for you Non-Northerners and Millenials!).

Fast forward a bit and I moved in with my boyfriend (now husband) six years ago, and one of my first thoughts was that the front room was big enough for a rainbow wall. It was one of my first home renovation projects and six years later, it's got bigger and better and I love it still. Here it is in it's current glory! 




It says homely doesn't it? There is a mix of my handmade shelving, vintage shelves and Ikea staples in there. I do love Ikea, I just don't want purely Ikea in my home as I want it to feel like my home and not a showroom. You get me? 

And now? Now I find myself making crochet shelves, using a rainbow pattern of colours and wools or yarns. I spend my days and nights obsessed with colour combinations, crochet and interiors. I haven't really changed very much from that little girl upcycling her socks thirty years ago! Blimey, it feels strange writing that. 

I've recently designed a yarn storage shelf and when I came to display it I didn't even have to think about the look, it was always going to be a rainbow. 


It fitted into my rainbow mirror wall! This is my craft room/ office. I have the stable for my workshop but I tend to work indoors on a night. Can't be using power tools at midnight now! That sounds really wonderful doesn't it? The reality is that the space shown above is also our dining room (that's why you can see a fridge freezer in the mirror, as the kitchen is so tiny there isn't room for a fridge - cringe!). I'm being pretty honest here. It works pretty well but I do spend a lot of time moving my stuff around to make space for meal times and setting up again. Or we eat on half the table surrounded by my projects! 

All of this is my way of sharing a little of my story of how I got here. Rainbows isn't an accident and if I look back I do see this was never random. 

I've met some lovely people along the way who also do rainbows. I've teamed up with them and this Easter weekend we are hosting an online Rainbow Market Weekend. I've never taken part in one of these before, but as far as I can tell, you click this link


Press going and then facebook automatically tells you the event is live. While you sit in your pyjamas eating chocolate (or-not-perhaps-that's-just-me), you can browse some gorgeous handcrafted rainbow inspired items at special offers, with no obligation to buy! Just have a look. Take part and share the love of rainbows. 





Thursday, 30 March 2017

Interior Design Series: Creating a cosy feel Living Room using texture


I'm going to write an occasional column on here, showcasing the best finds on Etsy and around the web and sharing some of my own thoughts on interior design.

To start with, i'm using a beautiful and timeless combination of white walls and floorboards. This suits any house - old, new, small or large and while I know not everyone has this backdrop it helps with a consistent look which can be easily replicated. Quick word of warning though. I still haven't found a white paint which doesn't take three coats! If you have - tell me please.









Whether you prefer a pure white, matt white, off white, light floorboards or dark floorboards - as a neutral and stylish base you can't really go wrong.

I really like brown leather or tan leather with this base. Easy to clean, hardwearing and again a timeless base. I'd personally choose vintage, quite well loved pieces to add instant, 'oh-it's-always-looked-this-amazing' style. This chair below is quite something, as is the price!






Then, we start adding items to create a cosy feel. When trying to create cosy, there is a fine line between overstuffed and warm and welcoming. That line is easiest if you think of practical items but choose the textures carefully. Sheepskin is wonderful for this. Clean colour but the texture makes you think of cosy and there is nothing nicer than standing barefoot on a sheepskin rug.

Each of these posts will feature my handmade shelving, as I design them to fit in many different situations. In this cosy living room example (which could be easily tweaked to a bedroom) I'd use my Purple shelves to create a warm feeling and as I add crochet to my wooden shelves, you will also get the texture I mentioned above. All my shelves are made with sustainable wood and hand dyed natural yarns too.








and 

As this is a living room styling post, the shelves work well with books and wooden items. But they are incredibly flexible and can be used either freestanding or wall mounted to store whatever suits you. Dvd or Music collections, taxidermy, yarn for knitting or crochet, toys, keepsakes and photo items, cocktail ingredients, cookbooks, art materials, board games and so on and so on.

Now we start to add some decorative items, again with creating a cosy feel, it's all about the texture. Let's start with a chunky knit blanket.




I have had a go at crochet with chunky wool and it works up really fast. So why not buy a kit and try yourself?



Or why not try a more complicated pattern. The Attic 24 moorland crochet colours would really suit this room we are putting together... link here for the pattern and inspiration.

I tend to like quite an eclectic look in a room, I don't want things to feel too matchy-matchy, but I like to have things link in someway. You may have noticed we are using round things, round corners and materials which contrast. That's why this mirror would work so well. I'm a big fan of adding as many mirrors as possible to a room, as it bounces light and makes the space feel bigger.




We have walls, floors, rugs, shelves, mirrors and chairs and texture - now we need to look at lighting. Lighting is so important in a space. I do like to adhere to the rule of three different light sources - either two lamps and a ceiling light or ceiling light, wall light and lamp. I often add more than three but never less. And, I always steer clear of halogen spotlights. They are just too harsh and not my thing at all. I know some minimalist modern types love them, but I want lighting to be flattering! In this post, we are trying to go for a cosy look, so yellow based lighting is crucial. Choose warm white lightbulbs wherever possible and steer away from the LED's which cast an almost blue light as we all look poorly under that!





I have chosen a purple tartan lampshade. The texture is beautiful and the colours will cast a wonderful glow when turned on. I like that you can see how it is woven and again, I like a mix of timeless and elegant items with some more modern and quirky to create a curated feel.

In a living room you should definitely choose a chandelier. I personally would put one in every room - even kitchens and bathrooms but I know that can be a bit much for people. But, your main space deserves one. Thinking about our materials again - mixed up, round shapes, I think this chandelier would fit very well into the space.




Then we move on to a few key pieces of artwork. This is such a personal choice that I do find it hard to recommend, but here a few pieces I think would work well with the colours and shapes and feel of the room we are trying to create.








As you can see with the artworks I have picked, I've started to layer in some natural green colours. I think some plants would work well in this space, heathers or soft leaved, small leaved plants in particular.

Then we move along to feeling cosy yourself, in the space. Firstly, warm feet! Nothing better than sheepskin slippers for that. Here are two pairs, one for little feet and one for grown ups.







It's time to imagine, you may be just arriving home - slipping off your jewellery...



and hanging up your handbag...



If you need storage hooks - I make those too!



These hooks have a flash of turquoise in the centre, which matches the subtle flash of turquoise in the crochet in my handmade shelves.

Then you may well notice it is time...




for a Hot toddy - there is a great recipe here but it talks about drinking out of a glass mug - it is much cosier to drink out of a copper mug.




And you can sit back and enjoy your wonderfully cosy, designed living room. I hope you like these ideas and find some inspiration. You could easily pick and choose the bits you like, or follow along with it all and create a beautiful space.



Wednesday, 22 February 2017

I have a shop

I've actually gone and done it.

Set up a shop.

Of my own.

An etsy shop. It's here; destabled.etsy.com

I'm so pleased to have taken the leap. I worked hard and followed a free course from Etsy, called Etsy Resolution. It was brilliant, I met a group online of other people in the same boat as me and we all supported each other. The support continues and I need it.

Here are some glimpses of the images I have used for my shop.





I have to admit to feeling scared as I pressed publish. (On Valentines Day, no romantic meal for us, I was working away on my laptop and husband was looking after the baby. No, sadly he isn't in bed at that time. Feel for us).

I've learned so much over the last two years of product development, made so many mistakes and often had to tell myself if it wasn't hard then it wouldn't be worth it! But, that means I feel like I put a little bit of myself into my work. You know, kinda like a Horcrux in a not so evil way! 

So now, I need to add more products, take more photographs and learn how to become a marketing genius. No pressure! 




Tuesday, 17 January 2017

The Art of Slow Living



I don't mean the movement about slow living, taking time to be in-the-moment or to linger - which I think is admirable. Sadly I mean living too slowly.

I'm writing to confess something. I used to do lots of stuff. I always had projects on the go, and people often mentioned they were amazed how I got it all done. By projects I mean - learn to crochet, making toys, teach myself woodwork, decorate a house, set up a blog, renovate some furniture, keep a creative journal, make a rug. I looked at Pinterest for ideas and then went off and did stuff. I was one of those people who achieved. I don't really manage to do this anymore.

Back to the Art of Slow Living, in my case; I mean the way time slows down and life becomes slow. I am on maternity leave, It is great but there are some bits that are quite difficult. I don't have to do anything usually, but my days are so full. I don't seem to have any time to do anything. That is what I mean about slowing down. I do less, yet seem to have so much less time. Now I'm not surprised, I've had a baby before and I know how demanding they are and I know this time doesn't last forever but the intensity of the first year has shocked me.

Saying I don't have time to do anything is not really true, I could make time to do some things but I seem to find very few minutes to get anything done. I'm tired, so tired, and that means I do still try to sleep when my baby sleeps. I usually manage one nap a day. This is traditionally the time when all those other mothers rush around, doing things like showering, putting on make up, cleaning skirting boards and all that kind of stuff.

I don't do any of those things. Which makes me feel a bit inadequate.

I have a bath and stay clean, I usually have a bath with my baby though. I manage to eat, not as well as I should as I'm still living off things I can eat straight from the fridge. I have a cleaner thank god, so the house isn't a total write off but it's not tidy and I am a bit of a hurricane who blows through and often creates more mess. I've put on make up maybe three times in the last six weeks (Christmas, New Year and one party).

So what do I do?Aside from not much,  I've been trying to achieve one thing everyday. Something that ideally relates to either making me very happy or my woodworking hobby.



Sometimes it is as simple as that. 

Sometimes I do manage to do something productive; I make something in my scrapbook, I do a necessary or useful job (organise a boiler service, tidy a cupboard, put a picture up), but the thing is, is that I'm frustrated with myself. I want to do so much more. I could write a to do list which lasted many, many pages. But I know there is no point as I'll then feel overwhelmed and overfaced and do none of it. So instead I write two or three things and if I finish them, I delete them and write a couple more. 

I want to blog more - so doing this is a good start, I want to set up an Etsy shop to start selling my handmade shelving. I've signed up to Etsy Resolution, a free online course to guide you through setting up a shop as I don't seem to be getting very far on my own.  

I often set time-based deadlines on myself. I think I need to stop doing this. 

Gosh - could I be any further away from the principals of slow living?  



Occasionally I have good days. Above was the view of my kitchen at 9.46am. Below it's 10.06am. 


That is the one really good side of the time slowing down. I feel like I don't have any but when I'm motivated I can get so much done in twenty minutes. There are days where I look around and wonder at how I've tidied up, put two loads of washing on, done the dishwasher, got dressed, made breakfast and it's only 9am. (If you are reading this and think, well I do that every day, well done you. You are nothing like me. If you are reading this and think, yep - lucky to have had a coffee even by 9am if I'm not at work. Then I feel ya. If you are reading this and think 9am, when not at work, I've never seen such a thing - you are very very lucky.) 

When I manage a productive morning I feel better about myself. I give myself a hard time on the days I don't though. Thinking I am the only one who doesn't manage this kind of productivity every day. I'll be honest - I'm lucky if it's once or twice a week. 

I used to feel like I could achieve anything. I miss that. Now I often feel like I am the only mother not doing it all. 

Luckily I have a great supportive local Mama Tribe. It really does take a village, not to raise the child, but to keep the Mama on an even keel so she can raise the child. It helps to talk to others in the same-ish place, even if they do all iron their sheets and cook lovely meals for their families rather than embrace the ready meal. I see them regularly and it keeps me going. I always feel happier when I have left the house and been somewhere. I go to a lot of playgroups and baby classes and do walk as much as I can. That's my new years resolution to 'walk more'. It's always easier to add something in than to remove it. 

I wanted to write about this as I think it's the side of motherhood that not everyone admits to. I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels like this. I should be grateful for my lovely happy baby, and pleased that I get to spend all day with him, which I am. But I'm allowed to miss alone time and to pine for more time for me and my hobbies. 

I'm trying to be kind to myself. It's my own deadlines that are bothering me, no one else is putting any pressure on me. I keep trying to say it's ok if it takes three months not one week but I'm not that good at it yet. 

I'll keep trying.