Tuesday, 23 October 2018

I am the storm

I had a moment last week. It was very clearly the moment I realised I was doing it; I'm an entrepreneur!

I've been feeling good for a while now. Business is steadily flowing in, I'm winning more contracts than not of the ones I choose to go for - which is a bit because I know what I can do better and also I know which jobs work better for me too. I opened my Etsy shop back up after a few months on holiday and the sales are steadily starting to come back in from there too - which is good news as it means the break hasn't hurt my business or reputation.

I still feel like there are far too many options on the table for me. I have to choose which things to cut now when I write a to do list, rather than which to start. I just have so many ideas and possibilities and avenues keep opening up for me. I'm thrilled, I'm grateful to the universe (as I am a massive hippy really) and I find that the more I keep working the more opportunities there are.

I often use that quote actually "Inspiration will strike, but it needs to find you working". I would say that 80% of my working time is either problem solving or designing so actually inspiration is very crucial.

I used to think the best ideas came at midnight too, but as my business grows I can find ideas come anytime really. A quiet place without lots of distractions is good, so trying to get to sleep can be one of my best inspiration striking places, which is probably why I used to think the ideas came late.

Let's go back to my moment. I was sick last week - proper sick, unable to leave my bed with chills and a fever and everything hurt. I was a bit disoriented so I put everything I could on hold and focused on the most important tasks. I'd signed up for some training on Wednesday and it was training that I knew wouldn't be on offer for another year. The last thing I felt like doing was leaving my sick bed and trying to pay attention to a course on bookkeeping. But - I did it, I went. I took some day nurse and got through it. 

The moment that my feet left my bed, the moment that I stood on the floor, feeling pretty darn rubbish but dragged myself to the shower. That was the moment I knew it; I want this enough. I will do whatever it takes to be successful day in day out. I am doing it, I am in charge of my own path, my own destiny, I am the storm.


Thursday, 26 April 2018

Making Memories

Making memories is a bit of a buzzword at the moment. We’re not going shopping kids, we're playing board games and making memories. We are not just going for a walk, we are making memories.

You know what though, it works. Laughing together over silly things, it matters. When I think about my childhood I think of lots of walks on the moors, climbing trees in the field, meeting friends on my bike, going to see relatives, creating slug and snail obstacle courses in the garden ( yes really! ), doing jigsaws in front of the fire, that time I stood on a rusty nail and had to hop all the way home, climbing inside the paper recycling bins - the smell! 

None of those things were expensive, although they may have been quite specific to a rural childhood. 
When I ask others about their memories of people, it’s very rare that material goods are mentioned. This may start to change due to the rise in consoles. I’m not a gamer, but everyone else in my family is and my friends who are ten years younger all seem to play. 

I asked others for their favourite childhood memories and one stood out. It was about being 'bed gnomes' where my friend and her sister used to pile onto their parents bed at the end of the day and tell them all about their day. They called it being 'bed gnomes' and still do this as adults when they are all at home together. I absolutely love the phrase and have a probably-completely-wrong mental picture of her and her sister perched on the bed like a little gnome. I'm seeing pointy bed sheets to give the impression of hats too, but then I do have a massively overactive imagination! 

We have a similar tradition in our house; we all pile onto our bed and eat cake and open presents at breakfast time whenever it is one of our family birthdays. The birthday boy (usually - as I'm massively outnumbered) picks the kind of cake in advance and that is how we start the day. 






Place names can be so evocative too. I recently made some signposts where the places were special names to the pair of them; 'The Crossroads', 'The Lane', 'Daisy Farm' and it was wonderful to imagine what those places looked like as I cut and sanded the wood, assembled and stamped, glued and clamped. 

Where are your happy places? I have different ones for different friends; some I remember through songs we always danced to, some through the trips we have taken together to the cities in Europe, some through the pubs and clubs of our youth. 

With my family and childhood it's more about days out for me; long walks along 'Ilkley Moor', afternoons spent fishing and paddling at 'Jeremy's field' with my cousins, climbing the 'Big Tree' on summer days, pushing my toy doll around 'The Rec', actually swimming in the river at 'Edisford' and walking along the river to the 'Swing Bridge'. 

My husband would be a whole other set of names; 'Paris' as we have a fabulous tradition of always spending the 29th February in Paris, 'Skipton Castle' where we got married, 'Marrakech' where we went on honeymoon, 'Plitvice Lakes' where we spent a memorable holiday, 'Ilkley Moor' where our favourite family photograph was taken, and probably 'Rolls Royce' which is where the majority of our nights out occur! 



I think this is why my signposts are my best seller. They are a gift which reminds people of special places and occasions. 

Recently many of the signposts I have made have been gifts for men; Dad's, Friend's, Uncle's, Granddads... I think I'll be busy with these in the run up to Father's Day, which falls on Sunday 17th June here in the UK. I need up to two weeks to make these (depending on how busy I am) and will take orders for Father's Day until early June. 

They have had names of places in the Lake District for keen cyclists and walkers, names of places people have spent happy times together on holidays, names of rivers for fishermen, beaches and hills. One was even football grounds. Restaurants, boats, favourite real ales, golf courses, train stations, my signposts can say whatever you like, to convey whatever memory you would like to share. 


They are also available as a free standing signpost; just in case you're not a fan of bookends or books on display. 



We all like to be remembered and 'the thought that counts' is certainly true! I know when I receive a gift which is thoughtful it means so much more than the cost. Although, quick plug, my bookends are very reasonably priced and can be found here in my Etsy shop. 

I don't want to end on a plug, it just feels wrong to my British brain! I'm not sure I'll ever get the hang of the sales part of my business. I love the making, and I really enjoy writing a blog, taking pictures and most of the other tasks. I've got to tidy my studio and I don't even mind that, but when it comes to sales I'm still a bit clueless! 

So let's quickly end on birthdays; destabled has just turned One! One whole year. I'm so delighted and I have learned so much. It's still quite thrilling to think that 'stuff' that I've made is dotted around the UK in different people's homes. Sometimes people tell me I'm brave to start a business and just put myself out there, but I don't think I am. I'm just a person with a burning desire to make things and the grit and stamina to just keep doing that. Notoriously the first few years in business are tough, and I do agree with that, but each day you just have to keep going. Keep making, keep talking, keep having the ideas and hopefully one day soon I'll get chance to actually learn to be a better saleswoman. Wish me luck! Or better still - tell me how! 




Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Evolving Interior Design; The Dining Room and Craving a Simpler Life

I have been craving a simpler life. Despite being a committed hippie-boho-style-clutter-loving-maximalist I find I actually want to have more space in my life and less overall stuff. This doesn't mean I will become a minimalist, I don't think that will ever be me, and I'm resigned to remaining messy! I figure that just goes hand in hand with being creative.

I do however find that I desire things that mean something. Memory sparkers rather than just stuff I like, or stuff I love.

I think the world is changing with me, I feel like this is a time of change, a reaction to lots of plastic and mass consumption. A hankering for slower, handmade, moments and feelings of contentment rather than shopping and purchasing.

As a handmade seller, I'm very pleased about this, and as an individual it just feels right somehow. With this in mind, I've joined a couple of facebook groups and started a journey to less stuff. I'm decluttering with the help of Organise Your UK Home, and feeling better about the stuff I don't want anymore with the help of Konmarie Uk.

Organise Your UK Home is the group who have helped me develop some routines to try and be less messy. It is having an impact but it will take time. 37 years of creating chaos cannot be banished in one go.

Konmarie UK is based on the principles of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. I originally bought this to try and get rid of some of my clothes, and wrote a blog post all about that here. Since then I have come around more to the idea of having less in the house and have been working away on selling a few items, and donating a lot too.

In the spirit of these two groups, I thought I would share the evolution of my dining room. I originally blogged about this here. And it has changed quite a bit. I no longer use this room to blog and paint, I have a dedicated studio indoors now. I will share that at some point.






This space is dedicated to eating together as a family, having friends over for takeaways and drinks, somewhere where I can sit and natter with my bestie. All the lovely things in life really. It's also my yarn storage space and we have plans to make space to play records and more music - it's evolving, not finished! 


This alcove is a work in progress, hopefully I've just found the perfect piece of vintage furniture to fit the space. 


I've also embraced the Danish concept of 'hygge' after my brother's Danish girlfriend bought me a book all about it. It's a way to cope with the long winter days by bringing nature inside more, creating a cosy atmosphere with candles and lighting and feeling content in the moment. 



Here is my dining room and yummy yarn storage at night. It really glows, which is an amazing feeling in the dark. 

I've just made some shelves for the speakers we need to put up in the room and am thinking of planning a party to celebrate it all being the way I can see it in my head! 






Thursday, 11 January 2018

Making a blanket; or how I cope with the long winter nights.

I don't do so well in Winter! I really do try to appreciate it, and try to not let the season get me too down but I struggle a lot, especially as it gets darker in the evenings and some of the days never seem to get very light. I think it is all about the light. On the days where it is grey and raining I am often glum, bright and crisp days - no matter how cold - seem to make me much perkier.

This year I decided to set myself some Winter challenges - first, to follow a pattern and make a crochet blanket. I like making things up as I go usually and am not a huge planner for my crochet projects. I do believe concentrating on something new to learn helps to pass the time when I am not feeling so great, and crochet has helped me through my darkest times. Remember when I was really poorly while pregnant and made a huge blanket... 

I know I use crochet in my business, added to shelves and bedside tables, but I also still crochet for fun, just for me. It is a passion, so it isn't at all like a busman's holiday! I am quite a slow crochet-er, a large blanket would take me sixty or seventy hours to do. That is quite freeing really as there is no way that I could sell the blankets, even to make minimum wage, so I know that these will only ever be for gifts or for myself and that takes a little bit of the pressure off.

Why did I choose to make a blanket as my first Winter challenge? There were a few reasons that all came together really...

The challenge of following a pattern - actually starting and finishing a project that I haven't made up, which means I don't have to make any decisions at all. I'd never followed such a large pattern before, and I'd never made anything in the colours suggested! I always amended, and have green bears and pink monkeys to prove it!

I met Lucy from Attic24, who is a super lovely crochet blogger, and one of the amazing people behind Yarndale. Lucy blogs to people all over the world from Skipton - which is my nearest town. She is very lovely - despite being an international award-winning crochet superstar, she is down to earth albeit super talented. Here is a picture of the two of us at Yarndale.






Lucy is a blanket designer, among other things and I really liked her blankets. They come in packs from Wool Warehouse, which cost £26. It's a good price and I decided this was a lovely and affordable Winter Challenge. I actually treated myself to a new crochet hook too - so the total cost was £31. 




Here is the start of my blanket. The start is always the hardest, as you don't have the feel of the pattern and it also can look a bit strange. It's quite bobbly (is that even a proper word), but I trusted that in time it would all work out for the best. That's kind of my life motto really! 



Here is a close up. I actually made a yarn buddy, Hi Margo!, and we sent each other pictures as we were both making the same blanket. It was such a lovely and slow, but pressure free way to get to know someone, I can heartily recommend it. 


This blanket is called The Moorland Blanket, and is supposed to reflect the colours of the moors. Now as someone who grew up very close to the moors and who still sees them regularly, I can say, it is exact. This pattern and the colours above show the earthy ness of the moors, browns and greens with the odd flash of purple heather. I think the shapes tell of the way the land is springy underfoot when you walk on the Moors. 






I always knew I wouldn't keep this blanket and that is was a gift. It was for a friend who was struggling, as she watched one of her close friends die. I couldn't do anything to help her, no one could really but I could make her something to hug her when she needed it. 

I am very lucky to have some really special friends, who are always there for me, who are unconditionally supportive and who just make my life so much better. She is one of those friends who is really lovely and, which is crucial, she appreciates hand made things. Not everyone does as I have learned and I would not want to make something that took a very long time without knowing it would be cherished. 




It got colder and darker as the blanket grew and the warmth was much appreciated. More shades of purple were used to represent the swathes of heather. 



I really liked the way that counting stiches helped me to feel  relaxed and that the pattern here was something that I could do while the toddler played, it was something I could pick up and work on for twenty minutes or so and then leave for a few hours or days. 



It was around this time that I started to really look into the concept of 'hygge', which is a Danish word which translates to a feeling of cosyness, of being content in the moment, and as a way to survive bleak winters. Understanding this felt amazing. It's that feeling of not being alone, not being the odd one out. Other people struggle with this too - in fact almost a whole country does and they have found ways to cope. Hot drinks, candles, blankets. Easy things that make the darkness more bearable. 

I hope that this could be my salvation. 




This picture of me with the blanket represents row 89. That is about 45 hours of work! This was a real moment for me, hence the quite cheesy grin! Row 89 was Duck Egg, and this meant I had reached the sky in the blanket. I love Summer skies and blue is my favourite colour.





Look at these wonderful shades of blue glinting in the sunshine. This made me feel really happy. 





And then it was done! It's taller than me, so I made husband pose with the finished article. It's been a good challenge.

I feel proud to have finished this. My friend seems very pleased with her gift. I started another blanket almost straightaway as this may be one of the ways I start to learn to cope well with darkness. 

I've also found my next challenge and will post about that at some point too. 

Saturday, 6 January 2018

I have the January Blues

It's really hard to admit to myself. I'm a fairly confident individual and I usually know my own mind. But it's not working right just now. I'm feeling down and I don't know how to stop it.

Every day I take time to feel grateful, for the weather, for my life, for my friends and family, for my ideas, for my businesses. In fact, there is little in my life I would change, I am very lucky. I feel lucky and I feel grateful. I have time to look after myself and I do so. I light candles to chase the darkness away, I take time for a lovely hot bath. I try and see people as often as I can, I go outside for a walk - even if it's raining. I do all the things you are supposed to do.

I have hobbies, I crochet and this helps me calm down.

But, right now, none of it is working.

I have some sort of virus and feel pretty crappy, its been lingering for a few weeks and almost everyone else at home is sick too. I know deep down that that isn't helping and is probably the root cause of these particular moods. But I can't fix it and I feel frustrated and angry, with myself mostly although I know this is leaking out and I'm cross with those around me.

I have so many plans, and ideas for lovely things to make and do. Ways to improve my own home, ideas for blog posts, plans for amazing pieces of furniture and new collaborations. I wanted to spend January business planning.

Instead, I'm in limbo. I'm moping and time is passing incredibly slowly - which is when I know that things aren't right. Usually I am never bored. I have so many things to do that the days fly by, and this is the way I like it.

This week I gave myself permission to have two days of rest - with no to do list and no jobs to accomplish. I thought the rest would help me kick this lingering cold/virus/ fluey thang - but instead it's made me feel worse.

I'm not sure at all that posting this is the right thing to do, but in the past I have found blogging to be quite cathartic and helpful. Alongside keeping a creative journal. So I plan to press publish on this and then to chuck some paint around in my journal and see what happens.

Fingers crossed, I'll be writing a much happier post shortly.



Thanks for reading - if you made it this far. If you empathise with this - I'm sorry, I don't want people to feel like me, but if you do and it helps to know that you're not alone then I am glad.




Sunday, 17 September 2017

Interior design series: No more boring walls! Ten stylish and unusual ways to use wall hooks


You know that feeling when you walk into a beautifully styled shop or cafe and you get an instant wow. Sometimes it's a wow of relaxation and a kind of peace comes over you and sometimes it's inspirational and you start taking note of the design, thinking I could do that. I could totally have a giant hot air balloon in the hallway, a vertigo inducing floor in the kitchen or I could actually keep an all white space clean!! Note - I absolutely could not keep anything clean enough!

But, I do pay attention to that feeling and try to recreate this in my own home, on a smaller live-able scale. I'm a homebody by nature and usually feel that sense of peace when I get in, but I also want to create a bit more wow!

In order to achieve this, I make wall hooks, which are simple and elegant, and which are designed to enhance displays - not to distract from them. Tactile and subtle to show off whatever it is you want to display.

Here are a few images of how I use them in my own nursery...




I bought a grand total of one item of clothing for my baby while pregnant that wasn't practical white stuff. This top was it. I didn't know if I was having a boy or a girl, but I'm a girl and love to wear blue so I picked a baby blue top with gold lettering which says hello world. I love it. But my baby turned out to be rather fast growing and so I decided to display it with a dreamcatcher I made when I did know he was a he. The navy blue wrapped around the circle was the colour of his eyes when he was about a month old. Yes I did take him to a wool shop to colour match!

And then, life took over. I had a tiny baby and was shattered, and I didn't find the time to make displays or share any other images of the hooks I made. I'd like to rectify this here.

Let me share ten different ideas I have for displaying lovely items on my wall hooks. You can use any, but I would prefer you bought mine. They're £8 including p&p for one and £15 including p&p for three in the UK and I do have a few different colour options available. Purchase them here in my Etsy shop destabled.etsy.com

Idea Number One:

Fabrics - fabric quilt/ pieces. I have a tendency to hoard fabrics. I just love them. I have beautiful pieces and lots of them but despite taking a dressmaking course, I have to admit my sewing skills are just not good enough to make the things I can see in my head. Thankfully, my woodworking and crochet skills are, so I get to fulfill my making needs in other ways. I am going to have to destash fabrics and have a big clear out. Has anyone done that? I'm not sure the best way to go about it.

However, I am lucky to have very talented friends and family and my lovely Sister-in-Law has the skills and the patience and painstakingly made this stunning hand stitched quilt for my baby boy. It's so beautiful and too nice to let him get dirty at the moment, so I wanted to hang it on the wall. Heirloom pieces like this can make a real statement.



Idea Number Two:

Somewhere to hang your dog lead or leads. If you're anything like me, you are always looking around for this when taking the dog out. Having a dedicated place is so important, especially if you have an impatient dog who gets totally overexcited when you put your shoes on and then just generally is a bit annoying while you look for the lead.

Idea Number Three:

Handbags - one, two, many! It's kind of the same as above. You are already to go out and just need to grab your going out bag, rather than the luggage sized one with all your work stuff/ kids stuff / general detritus. Having them in one location makes it so much smoother to leave the house and keeps your make up looking fresh rather than ending up all sweaty and flushed before you even shut the door and get outside.



Idea Number Four:

It's very very fashionable right now to have lots of lovely plants in your house and a hanging plant is the best. It looks amazing, makes your home feel better and you get major style points, and something beautiful to instagram. I've been on the plant bandwagon for a while but this year it's started to get out of hand. Nevermind - there are worse obsessions to have.

Here is my lovely hanging plant in it's vintage holder. These plants do look amazing hanging from the ceiling but if you don't fancy drilling lots and lots of holes in your ceiling to locate a joist, then using one of my hooks makes them a sturdy holder - and can be placed where you want them and where the light is right.



Idea Number Five:

Why not use fairy lights, either at Christmas (there I said the C word), or all year round. I absolutely adore the ambience that these lights give and although I did start using these in my student days, I don't think there is anything wrong with using them forever and in every room!

Idea Number Six:

Bunting. Is there anything more cheerful than lovely bunting? Bright or pastel, triangular or semi-circle, fabric or paper, handmade or bought, vintage or new. Whichever your style or preference, this is instant make you smile decor.

Idea Number Seven:

The hooks I make are not just for the more girly items. They would also work very well to display a collection of scarves or ties or cravats. Gorgeous items that don't need to be hidden away; collections should be celebrated if you have the space.

Idea Number Eight:

Statement necklaces. I've always envied people who wear jewellery and who take the time to build up impressive selections of statement necklaces and then actually wear them. I'm not really a jewellery person but I do love the look of displaying your accessories and am sure it would help wear more of them.

Idea Number Nine:

Towels while you get in the shower. I hate leaving them on the floor and I don't think I'm alone in that, so it's great to have a place to hang them while you shower. The large round design of my hooks helps to hold larger and heavier items like towels too.

Idea Number Ten:

Tomorrows outfit - why yes I am going to a ball tomorrow! Haha. In all serious-ness though, I do try and pick out tomorrows outfit the night before, especially when I have a busy morning. It helps to start the day more relaxed.


This is very helpful for little ones too, especially if you may not get them dressed every day. For example my husband always wants me to do this if he is getting the little one dressed as one time he took the baby out in pyjamas. It didn't matter at all - he's  a baby and can totally get away with wearing pyjamas anywhere and everywhere but hubby won't choose anymore as his confidence in clothes wasn't high to begin with. I just want to add, I was super chilled about this, I'm quite laid back about outfits!



I couldn't resist sharing these baby dungarees. Aren't they the cutest little outfit you ever did see!

Do you like these ideas? What would you pick? I'd love to know how you would use my hooks. Don't forget you can buy hooks through my Etsy shop at destabled.etsy.com




Monday, 11 September 2017

Painting techniques; Three simple tips to make your wall painting as good as the professionals

I paint things, I paint things all the time. Chests of drawers, cupboards, wardrobes, plant pots, walls, ceilings, walls, did I mention walls? I run my own business making shelves which are usually at least half painted.

I paint a lot of things. I've practiced a lot. I'm a painting person. I'm hoping this answers the question why I'm telling you how to paint!

This experience has shown me the best way to paint. I've taught myself over the years and the old adage 'practice makes perfect' is true. I'm proud to say that often when I have painted something people ask me if I've done that myself or paid a professional. Because of that I consider myself an almost-expert painter. Today I'd like to share my tips.





In case you haven't watched the video, here are my three tips.

1. Not too much on your brush

Only the top centimetre of your brush should have paint on it. Don't dip it too far. It runs down your hand, it runs on the wall and causes drips and you end up with a messy - not perfect finish.


2. Start a brush width away and work back

This is how I avoid over-painting lines. It helps to automatically make you blend the paint together and achieve a better finish.


3. Go over with feather light long strokes

This does not look perfect when wet but does dry in a perfect way. It's the absolute best way to get a even finish.


In the video I do talk about my favourite materials. They make a difference but in reality you can get a great finish with rubbish materials or a brilliant finish with rubbishy materials if your technique is correct . However, once you have mastered your technique - good paint and a good brush will make a huge difference and are worth investing in - in my honest opinion. You absolutely can get a fantastic finish with cheap paint and cheap brushes but it may take you two or three times as long and if you value your time, it's not always worth the money saved.

My favourite brush is a Purdy, I also like the Harris No Loss. I occasionally use artist brushes, but I never use anything else.

I love Farrow & Ball, Fired Earth and Little Greene paints. My all time favourite is Dulux Trade. It's very thick and gives great coverage. Plus, they'll mix any colour for you which is great. I always use water based paints if possible. This is because they are much easier to clean up and that way I can use my good brushes. I tend to use eggshell paint on my furniture as it gives a lovely end result, where you can see the shape of the grain in the wood.

On a side note though. I still haven't found a white paint which takes less than three coats! Four if I'm being picky. Please let me know if you have found a brilliant one. The best I found so far is Farrow and Ball All White for wood, and Polycell 3in1 Base Coat for walls. I use this all the time in my house as it's great coverage and a really clean matt white.

Lastly, but not leastly, here is the finished wall I was painting in the tutorial. I love the finish, I love the colour and I really love how it enhances my white half-painted furniture.