Thursday, 6 December 2012

Popping Up In The Pop Up Design Shop

It's been a busy few weeks, but I'm pleased to be able to finally announce that you can now buy 'A Crafty Hen' items from the Pop Up Design Shop 
in The Brooks shopping centre, Winchester, from now until Christmas Eve.

Source: via Jenny on Pinterest

The shop looks amazing, full of wonderful pieces and I feel very lucky to have some of my things in there. It's the first time I've been involved with a 'Pop Up Shop' but I think the concept of these shops is great. Such a good way to fill up empty high street shops. And Suzie the owner of the shop and of  Urban Bird is so passionate about showcasing what is out there that it's been a delight to dedicate the last couple of weeks to sewing stock for the shop.

I have sent a selection of baby bibs some new and some of my favourites. 
There is also a selection of my cushions and large cosy blankets.
I hope to get these into my web shop soon but it probably won't be until the New Year, as this year is quickly disappearing!

 Oh and Lavender Raindrops are on their way!

So please if you are in the area, do stop buy and have a browse.
I wish I could!

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Cyber Weekend Sale

Cyber weekend is happening in my Etsy shop
10% off everything,
with code HAPPY10

I am also offering a 10% discount off all Christmas items in my Bigcartel shop
with the code XMAS12

Can you believe this time next month it will be Christmas Eve?!
No neither can I!!

Monday, 12 November 2012

You Just Have To Laugh!

Sunday was a glorious day bright, sunny even quite mild,
the kind of day that is perfect for going for a walk in the woods,

An exploring a new woods kind of day!

Stumbling across hidden gems that get you wondering of the past.

Even #1's homework 'Autumn Finds' was a joy to do.

And then there is always the compulsory refuelling stop of cake and hot chocolate!

All in all it was the most perfect family Sunday, just a shame about the nit discovery at bedtime! Which then saw us washing and combing the kids hair way past their bedtime. By the time we had finished it was nearly ten o'clock and it wasn't only the kids who were exhausted! It's the first time the kids have had nits which I guess is not bad considering #1 is already in year 3. Not quite the end to our Sunday that we had expected oh the joys of parenthood!
Sometimes you just have to laugh!!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Returning To Normality?

Since having children that go to school I have found September to be a mixed month, often the weather remains nice and I do love Autumn and the colours that the season brings. But I struggle with the kids going back to school and the whole routine that it brings upon the family as a whole and I struggle with what so many parents seem to class as 'normality' the amount of times I have heard parents in the playground discussing how pleased they are to 'Be back to normal - now that the kids are back at school!" amazes me!

This September has been a big one for our family as my oldest has entered key stage 2 of school and thankfully has taken to his more independent role well, and my youngest son, our middle child has started reception class in the same school. This time round we are lucky that he has shown signs of being ready for school, and actually started school just days before turning five. So I feel like I should be writing a post about his birthday, a glowing post telling you how much I love this little man, but unfortunately the last few weeks haven't been the perfect start to a school life and I have spent so much time lately in tears, with a stomach full of frustration, anger and hurt, and that's just me.

Yesterday finally I had phone call from the head teacher to say that the school's procedure they follow when tackling bullying has been put in place and that the matter will be dealt with as quickly as they can, and apologises have been made to my son and to us as a family, so now we wait and see.
As I dropped my son off in his classroom yesterday morning, the three boys in question, four year olds, started talking about hair cuts, you see this 'problem' is all because my son has shoulder length hair. They continued in front of my son and I to discuss whether they had been to the hairdressers over the weekend with one of the boys saying that "I haven't been to the hairdressers this weekend but I am going next weekend as I don't want yellow long hair" the other boys response to this was to agree "Yes you don't want long hair as you will look like him (glances at my son) and you'll look like a girl". I stood and listened and the emotions that went through me, everything from wanting to get hold of these boys to yelling, and screaming at them and the assistant in there who was blissfully unaware of the conversation, I wanted to pick my son up and to run as far away from the school as I could physically get, I felt confused, betrayed  and helpless, and I settled my son playing with another child and I walked out of there with the three boys laughing at me, yes they are only four, and I cried all the way home. And I felt horrible, I felt guilty for leaving my son in that environment and I felt guilty for putting him through it and for not being able to defend him.
 So I wrote, I wrote a very angry, a very heart felt email to the teacher, explaining that even though we had already had many conversations about these boys and there behaviour, what I had seen first hand that morning had shocked and appalled me and that I wasn't no longer going to sit back and put up with it and hope that they got bored and they taunting and teasing of my child would stop. And that yes these children are only four but they are behaving as bullies and they should be dealt with. And hopefully fingers crossed, touches wood, this is now the case.

No child however young should be put in a position like this, no child should have to question why there hair is a little different or worry about which toy they pick up to play with, or where they choose to play in the playground, or sit in the class room. No child should cry themselves to sleep, so worried to go to sleep because the nightmares will begin, no child should want to change themselves so that they can fit in to what a bully believes they should be like. My son is beautiful, he is determined to succeed in what he does, he loves to understand how things work, and questions everything! He loves to laugh and tell jokes, he has a very matter of fact way of looking at things, so much so that it can shock us at times, he likes to have a kiss on his lips at night, and he must say to you before you leave the room, "Goodnight, sleep tight I love you" and best of all he gives the most amazing hugs, that make you feel that everything is all right.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

For the love of Organic....Part 1!

I've been slowly reopening my 'shops' back up after closing them for a while whilst we went on a camping trip, and as I've opened them up I've had a good look at them and it's made me question a couple of things. At the moment I have a folksy shop, an Etsy shop and a Bigcartel shop but I'm beginning to wonder where I'm going with a couple of them, more on this later though, as I think I have a lot of pondering over it first to do! The other thing I have noticed is how many of my items are now made using Organic cotton fabric, especially in my Etsy shop which has become the shop that I update the most and put my 'one off' items in.

The use of organic cotton has not particularly been a concious decision. I spend a lot of time browsing fabric sites and making notes on forth coming collections that I like and prints that suit my work and more and more I find that the ones I like tend to be organic. 

I am drawn towards nature and animal prints so its not surprising that the first collection I fell deeply in love with was Circa 52 by Monaluna for Birch fabric and especially their Woodland Party print. It came a firm favourite in my Etsy shop as well, selling well and I was so disappointed when I came to order more and found that it had all sold out! I have since managed to find and buy 1 yard! and have started to make one off bibs using it like the bib below and I hope to have the sets above back in stock before Christmas.

 Baby Bib Woodland Bunting

The second collection that I was drawn to was Ed Emberley's first fabric collection 'Happy Drawing' which was brought out my Cloud 9 fabrics. I love the quirky animals and his scribble print has become a firm favourite. From the moment I heard Cloud 9 were releasing this collection I knew I would like it as his 'How to draw' books are a favourite in our house with the kids and myself, they are just perfect for any parent who gets asked by their child
'Can you draw me a............"! 

We own 3 of his books and have a fourth Ed Emberley's Drawing Book Of Halloween on it's way for my Halloween obsessed son! I love the drawings of the foxes, raccoons and elephants and what is so lovely with his 'Forest Friend' print is that you keep spotting animals that you hadn't noticed before.

At the moment I have a selection of baby accessories made using Emberley's prints available in my shops with more on their way. Cloud 9 are also releasing Ed Emberley's 2nd collection 'Happy Drawing Too' in October, so I'm looking forward to seeing that. Cloud9 also have a lot of new fabric designers working with them with collections due out towards the end of the year. It seems to be a very exciting time in the 'Organic Cotton' world!

Part II of my 'For the love of Organic' coming very soon!

Saturday, 1 September 2012

And then it was September!

September really? 
So where did August go and where was the British summer?! 
It really hasn't been very good here in the South West, very wet and well, pretty cold. It comes as no surprise that we are entering Autumn as the last few evenings its been impossible not to notice the chill in the air, the smell of fires burning and the fact that it is getting dark much earlier. But it isn't that, that bothers me very much. I'm a real lover of the seasons and Spring and Autumn I adore. It is the fact that September means the end of the school holidays and the beginning of a new school year. By the end of next week we will be back to doing school runs, back into the weekly routine that comes hand in hand with school, and I will miss in the day not only my oldest but my middle son also. 
Big sighs.

Summer's go too quick, far to quick.

Summer's are a chance to giggle and play

Stay up late and even scoot in the dark!

See fairy lights glowing even when it isn't Christmas!

Try out new things like a 'barefoot festival'

Watch a bit of Jousting whilst admiring the gorgeous views!

 Build a castle of our own and explore new rock pools.

Go for walks along the river

And ignore the driving rain whilst camping by having a dance by head torch light!

Not a bad summer considering! 
Roll on Autumn!

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head!

Quite literally it has felt that everything you step out the door of the house over the last few months you will get rained on. First there was the jet stream that was affecting the weather and causing all the rain and then just when you think that 'crisis' is over and we did have a week of blissful sun for the first week of the school summer holidays, the rain returns! The constant sight of raindrops on the window that I look out of as I sew and the ever-increasing amount of bags filled with small fabric pieces, that I'm continuously stepping over or moving from one end of the room to the other got me thinking, there must be something I can do with them.

I am lucky that my other OH does not seem to mind too much my fabric obsession! In conversation with him the other day about the amount of bags in the room filled to bursting point with what are best described as 'fabric scraps' I mentioned that maybe I should recycle them. I was quite surprised when he answered 'really you must have some use for them'! I wonder sometimes what size fabric scrap other sewers keep and which they feel are too small to be used, I find it hard not to keep every last morsel! 
I ordered some dried lavender with the intention of making lavender sachets as gifts for my son's teachers but never managed to find the time so sitting staring at the dull winter like weather that was hitting the window the other day and with a head full of the smell of lavender I started playing around with my fabric pieces and doodling.

So please welcome my 'Patchwork Lavender Raindrops'.
I have really enjoyed sewing these, fussy cutting small pieces of fabric to get animals in the right place like this Orange Fox

and this 'Hiding Fox' {below} cut from my very precious last scraps of Cica 52 Birch fabric, the print is one of my favourite fabrics and I've been caught out by not having bought enough. I have finally tracked down a shop in the US that a metre left so are waiting its arrival eagerly, but still its a lesson to be learnt!

The raindrops are filled with dried lavender. I have made them with baby's in mind, thinking that they would look lovely placed in a nursery. Lavender helps to calm and aid sleep, lavender also acts as a insect and a moth repellent so these raindrops will be great for placing in clothes drawers or for hanging in wardrobes. Of course they aren't just for babies and can be hung or placed anywhere in the house.
I have listed them in my Etsy shop here and are hoping to add some to my folksy shop. I really hope they sell as these first six have not made dent in my 'fabric scrap stash'. I could probably make enough raindrops to fill the sky above me and still have small fabric pieces left!

Monday, 6 August 2012

Birthdays come and go

It wasn't my intention to leave it so late after my birthday to blog about it, in fact I ended up having such a lovely meal out that I felt really excited about sharing it with you - but this is the thing my birthday seems to just come and go! It's no surprise that it's often under celebrated as it comes exactly a week after my oldest child's birthday. He's due date was my birthday, I was never keen on that idea and settled happily for him being born 7 days before, but I should have realised that even having 7 days between it would mean that my birthday has no run up, very little excitement and we are often 'still' celebrating my son's birthday, but oh well, I guess that is often the case as we grow older, birthdays just aren't what they use to be!!
So my birth 'day' was pretty awful, to be honest we were still full of the fact that our oldest had just turned 7, still feeling pretty shaken by the fact that we had recently lost my Gran (that's another story) and busy with the fact that #2 was leaving pre-school to start school in September, and that #1 was finishing key-stage 1 to start key-stage 2 again in September, so my day was spent doing well 'parent' things. So it went pretty much uncelebrated. But sometimes this just isn't good enough and we well to be fair needed a treat so at the weekend we went to the River Cottage Canteen at Royal William's Yard, as you can see from the photo someone wasn't so impressed with the place, but my what a place. Royal William's Yard is a former Victualling Yard I'll admit I had to look up the history of the place when I got home and really wish I had done it before we went, it is an amazing place and the River Cottage Canteen fits in so well. 

We had a lovely lunch even with #3 stamping here feet and having a tantrum. The food was gorgeous, locally produced and in season, our waitress was brilliant with the kids which makes such a difference I think when you decide to dine out with kids. We felt welcomed, and the boys loved it.

We felt so at home that it made me question why we don't venture out more often with the kids for food, but then I remembered that this is England and we don't often manage to combine good food and child friendly atmosphere! It is one of the things that I miss from living in France. It was lovely for us all to be able to relax and still be able to eat such gorgeous food. 
Yes #3 mangaed to even sit back down and cheer up once her food arrived!
And for once even I had my photograph taken, well it was my birthday!
River Cottage Canteen is situated in the old Brewhouse building. The whole 'Royal Yard ' makes for a good wander and explore. We had a really special day out, one that we will all remember for quite a while and at a place we can't wait to go back to. And for me it was a real special birthday as I really felt like I relaxed - so for once I can't wait for the next one!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Shop Talk

Summer holidays and sunshine has meant very little time spent in the house and plenty of time spent at the beach which has been a lovely start to the school holidays but has meant that my work has taken a back step, and at what is appearing to be a very busy time for me it has meant that my late night sewing sessions have become that bit longer. Thank goodness the mornings have been lazier than normal with no school runs to have to get up to.

'A Crafty Hen' has had it's first bit of publicity this month with a feature in Folksy's online magazine Frankly Shop Talk, Jennifer Parsons - A Crafty Hen I felt when writing it that I had gone back to college, as its been a long time since I had to write something other than snippets here on my blog! I was really pleased that Folksy asked me and have also been lucky to appear in their 'best sellers' list a few times lately.


{Please excuse the imagine I was hoping to somehow show a picture of the interview and using Instagram was the only way I could think to do it!}

I was also asked recently if I would mind being featured in a new blog Great British Family it's a lovely blog where they aim to showcase the best Great Britain has to offer for the family, a place to showcase the talents we have here in the UK aimed at families, particularly to show case designers, handmade artists and photographers.
I was really happy with the article they did on 'A Crafty Hen' .

So all in all it's been a good week for me and my 'little business'!
It's very exciting to watch it grow and to wonder where it will be in a couple of years!

Monday, 16 July 2012

One Summers Day

I am sat here 10am on a Monday morning in July, I can hear the rain pouring down outside and I have the lights on as it is so dark and grey. I am dressed in jeans and a long sleeved top which wouldn't be out of place on a winter's day and I am surrounded by piles of laundry waiting for a dry day to get washed. The fact that it is mid way through July is crazy, doesn't bear thinking about. Only 2 more days until the boys break up from pre-school and school and the 'summer holidays' commence. So far the British Summer here in Devon has been awful, the wettest and dullest that I can remember, so it was amazing yesterday to wake not only to some sunshine but also to a weather forecast that showed no rain for the day! 
With a chance of a day without rain there was only one thing the family wanted to do and that was to head to the beach.

We can only hope that 'Summer' decides to appear again soon and we can get out and about a bit more. For my oldest it did make a lovely ending to what has been his Birthday week! He turned 7 on Wednesday. Seven I can't believe it, it seems so grown up. I have also noticed that turning 7 seems to mean that taking a photo of him has become very difficult, in fact quite rare! I can't quite decide whether it is because he rarely stays still or if he no longer thinks it's 'cool' to have his mum constantly taking pictures of him! Either way I feel his birthday passed by with only a few photo reminders but hopefully his memories will stay with him for a while well at least until his next birthday!

Sunday, 8 July 2012

And The Winner is.................

Thank you to everyone who entered the Summersville fabric giveaway.
So without any further delay, the winner is.............

Number 26, Mousey Brown!

 Picked at random by the Random Number Generator which has had be baffled all morning as I couldn't paste it to blogger with the result showing, so out of desperation I eventually took a photo, I guess I got there in the end even though I'm sure it didn't need to be so complicated!

Well done to Mousey Brown for being the lucky winner of Seamstar's giveaway. 
For all of you who didn't win don't worry as just as this giveaway has ended another has just begun! 
For Seamstar's next giveaway they are offering a Flea Market Fancy fabric bundle up for grabs. All you need to do is head over to Kerry's lovely blog very berry handmade and leave a comment. 
And the great thing about this giveaway is even I can enter!!