I’ve always been drawn to Scotland and have had some lovely holidays there in the past. My partner is from Paisley, near Glasgow, and I’ve visited both quite a few times since we’ve been together. This summer it was a right Scottish bonanza with two holidays there! First I went to a cottage next to Craigievar Castle in Aberdeenshire with max, my friend Salima, her son Haroun and their dog Otis. It was a relaxed time of walks and food, knitting, forests and beaches. And the castle was bonkers, all pink and turrety… Then Max went on holiday with his dad and Sean and I got on a sleeper train to Fort William, then changing to a fab little train to the west coast, going through some of the most gorgeous countryside, no roads, no towns, just moors, valleys and lochs. We arrived in Arisaig, a gorgeous village on the East Coast where we stayed for three days, in a gypsy caravan in the back garden of the lovely Carol and Rory. We walked and saw amazing musicians jam in the local pub, and just completely relaxed. Then it was on to Millport, a tiny island just off the coast near Glasgow for another caravan stay, much less romantic but no less remote and peaceful. No internet or phone reception meant lots of card games and reading and talking, rain keeping us indoors a lot. The caravan was spacious so we didn’t mind. Four days in Paisley, lots more walking and talking, knitting and reading meant the whole of August pretty much was extremely peaceful and quiet. London and getting ready for school is kinda assaulting me this week but I’m sure I will get used to it all again. It certainly set me up with renewed energy and creativity!
Here’s some photos
Max, Haroun and Otis awake at 3:30am when we set off
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Cheekyhandmades is five!
On 11th July 5 years ago I left my job at Whipps cross hospital. I had handed in my notice in April and by the time I left not only was I without a proper job, I had also just separated from my partner of 8 years, the father of my youngest son. All was up in the air. What had seemed like a viable idea when there was still a breadwinner in the house, to give up work and spend more time with the kids whilst making the odd bespoke quilt, now with me being a single parent of three boys, a huge mortgage to pay and no business plan, or even much of a plan full stop, seemed madness.
I spent that summer making some stock as I had a stall booked fort first e17 art trail event at the end of the summer holidays. It was a tiny table in my friend Sarah’s back garden. She was an established artist, drawing astonishingly beautiful and detailed pencil drawings of insects. She always drew a respectable crowd to her open studio event but it was hard to predict how they would take to me and my colourful fabric wares. As it was I made some pocket money, and met some lovely people and felt very encouraged especially as there were a few people who had come to Sarah’s garden specifically to see my wares.
E17 Art Trail quilt
Never having got round to writing a business plan, free wheeling and improving all along, never forgetting how fortunate I was compared to my colleagues still at the hospital, never forgetting how much I cherished being my own boss and being to just do rather than endlessly talk about doing, I somehow made it work. I added teaching to my repertoire in January 2011, cutting my teeth in the lovely Create Place, where I found my feet as a teacher, as a fixer upper of sewing machines and where I made some lifelong friends. Fast forward to July 2015 and I now teach from my gorgeous bespoke studio in my sunny e17 garden, I still do the art trail each year, I still make and sell bespoke quilts in my Etsy shop, and I still love my job. Not a day goes by where I don’t appreciate not having to ever sit in another stifling meeting room taking minutes (now my meetings are with great creative people in cafes over coffee and cake!), not ever having to sit on my hands not being able to implement changes, having to deal with power crazed managers and a behemoth of a system, having to beg for days off to be with sick kids and never being able to go on school trips. I cherish my days alone sewing and planning and doing admin, I even love doing my accounts, I love being able to go into school to read with my 7 year old, I love downing tools at 3pm for the school run. I love writing this blog post in a sunny park in Barcelona under a palm tree with parrots playing overhead, I love meeting new students who are nervous and excited about their class and go away full of joy and pride in what they’ve achieved. I love keeping in touch with my old students, a great many of whom have become friends. I love interacting with other amazing women running one women businesses and exchanging skills rather than money to pay for each others’ services. I love working in my fabulous garden studio with the baby foxes streaking past and the cats keeping me company.
My kids have got older, I’ve met a wonderful new partner, I’m as happy and fulfilled as can be. It’s been an amazing journey and I’m grateful to everyone who has joined me along the way. I’m even grateful to Whipps cross hospital for being such awful place to work that I just had to leave and try making a go of cheekyhandmades!
To celebrate my birthday I am offering a 3 for 2 deal on all classes booked before the end of August. Just book in for 2 and email me on [email protected] to let me know which 3rd one you want free.
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At the beginning of 2015 I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t buy any clothes this year, apart from knickers and socks and maybe a coat if needed. All the rest including bras and jeans I was going to make. I had just got into making bras and had bought several jeans patterns so I was all set to go.
So how am I getting on, 6 months in?
Well I have made two bras and a pair of jeans as well as innumerable tops and dresses. However I seem to have a mental block about finishing the more complex things so the bras are near enough done, bit not quite , and the jeans are waiting for their buttons. I haven’t even tried them on yet. Epic fail in a way. I think I must be scared of these items not fitting as the pressure is so high to finally have a bra and a pair of jeans that fit me… I don’t know, it’s weird but I seem to have a real mental block about them. Every time I sit at my machine it’s other things I pick up. I have lots of quilt commissions on and have been making stock for a wonderful little shop Xylonite Arts, and I have made several new tops and dresses from new patterns (which are exciting to make as I like new things) and I am confident about the fit and they don’t take anywhere near as long as trousers or bras, and I have also made several versions of the Colette Ginger skirt and the April Rhodes’ Staple dress in classes along with my students.
This week I am going to try and get down to finishing those damn UFOs once and for all! Look at those funky bras…!
I did cheat when I went to see my parents in Holland in April and bought some clothes. I had packed super light and at the end of a really warm few days, and then when the weather turned in Holland I was cold. Very cold. I ended up buying a jacket which I wear every day, a scarf and a really cool tunic, all in the H&M sales. And my mum paid for it all, so it was kinda like a present and maybe that doesn’t count :-). It is totally do-able to not buy clothes (unless you go on holiday unprepared!) and make it all yourself if you have time and fabric and patterns and skills. It’s not cheaper but it’s much nicer, better fitting and satisfying to make your own.
I’ve also knitted and crocheted quite a few things this year; two ponchos, at least one pair socks and various shawls/ wraps/ snoods
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