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This week I welcome Becky Queen of Frocks to the blog! As one of the most active creative people I know Becky not only runs her own Etsy business creative wonderful hand drafted garments… whilst working on a full time Phd, but is also captain of the Nottingham Esty Team which has been running for just over a year! Pretty inspiring i’d say. Find out more about her creative practices below.

Tell us a little about your background…

Hello! I’m Becky, and I make beautiful yet functional women’s clothes. I’ve been sewing for longer than I can remember; mum used to let me loose on her sewing machine when I was young so I could make crazy little jackets for my soft toys!

The first incarnation of Becky, Queen of Frocks was born in 2009 when I started making dresses for friends, but real life and a 9-to-5 job quickly took over and dressmaking fell by the wayside until I officially launched my Etsy shop in 2013. Since then I’ve been slowly growing my business alongside a full time PhD – it’s a lot of work, but getting to do what I love makes it 100% worth the effort.

4-product in situ

Do you have creative habits or rituals within your work that help you stay focused and happy?

I always keep my work area really clean and tidy – it doesn’t sound like a big deal, but my studio is at home so it would be really easy to get complacent. I’m a scientist by day so order and planning are key; after each sewing session I make sure everything is organised and ready for me to just sit down and sew the next time.

3a - inspo

What two things can’t you live without?

Apart from my sewing machine I’d say that my overlocker and seam ripper are probably the two tools I use most. The overlocker means that I can professionally finish each piece, and anyone who’s ever had to unpick a bit of sewing will know how invaluable a seam ripper is!

What is your biggest source of inspiration?

I’m not sure I have just one source of inspiration – wherever I am, I can’t help thinking about what I might like to make next. If I’m sitting behind someone on the bus I can’t help having a sneaky peek at how their jacket might have been constructed, or thinking about how an outfit I see in an old film might work in modern fabrics.

3c - inspo

 

If you could collaborate on a creative project or idea with anyone… who would it be & why?

I’d love to collaborate with some international astronomical surveys so I could make fabric with their awesome images – can you imagine how cool it would be to have the Hubble Ultra Deep field on a frock?!

Do you have a favourite piece of equipment that inspires your day to day process?

My pin cushion/thread catcher – my mum made it for me a few years ago, and it’s the perfect combination of functional, yet beautiful, design. These are two qualities that I try to carry through each piece I make, so having the pin cushion/thread catcher next to me while I’m sewing is a great reminder of that.

What is the best thing about running your *business/blog/working for yourself?

Being able to do what I love for a living! Each time I sit down to make an item, even something I’ve made dozens of times before, I can’t help thinking, ‘I LOVE sewing! I really do!’. That’s pretty great :-)

3b - inspo

What is your proudest creative moment in your journey so far?

I think being approached to be a mentor for #EtsyResolution was probably one of my proudest moments. I started my Etsy journey being mentored by an established seller, so it was pretty overwhelming to be asked to be a mentor myself!

5 - pet

Find you very own hand crafted garment here or follow her on FB! You can stay up to date with Becky’s creative adventures on her blog now!

Mollie Makes / Festival Pal Bum Bag. Roll on summer time and all those brightly coloured festival vibes! I am thrilled to share a peek of my latest project for Mollie Makes Subscribers Club from issue 67 which is available now! All my friends will be getting a version of this brightly coloured baby for christmas… I know serious forward planning! You can download the templates on the Mollie Makes website and find the full tutorial in all its pom-pommy glory on page 25 of the latest edition. Yay! I hope you have lots of fun making your own version of this project.

i'm in Mollie-Makes-issue-67

mollie makes subs club issue 67

The Basics Of A Great Crochet Pattern. Most crafters/designer-makers have their way of writing a crochet pattern…. a lot like a handwriting which they develop over time! However standard patterns should contain a few essentials that each have to make that pattern digestible and easy for another reader to use! Here are the basics:

  • A list of materials, sizing information
  • Row by row (or round by round) instructions
  • Finishing techniques
  • Yarn weight, hook size to match – included on the packaging of your yarn ball!
  • A list of abbreviations
  • Stitch diagram key (If diagrams are included)
  • Care instructions

What you look for when buying yarn

the basics of a great crochet pattern

As you can see from the yarn label above most brands come with all the information you need to choose the right hook size, tension and after care/washing instructions! They also include the dye lot number so you can match your ball of yarn exactly if you run out half way through a project… Always keep this information just in case!

Col = shade colour

Lot = yarn dye lot

Ref = product reference

Getting to grips with crochet

Don’t worry if you find holding your hook or working crochet stitches awkward at first… after a few attempts you’ll easily get the hang of it all!

There are 2 main ways of holding your hook…  Here’s a special little video tutorial to get you started on the right foot! This is a super simple way to visualise the method if you get stuck.

And remember learning a new craft skill is a wonderful way to relax, de-stress and even improve your confidence. It will also allow you the opportunity to connect with some amazing creative people!

Women Who Create / Lyndsey Haskell. Welcome to the 8th instalment of my fortnightly interview series with creative women who run, own and thrive in their own businesses, careers, blogs, online shops, dreams. I am so thrilled to be able to share such inspiring stories of creative success with you! This weeks post features my dear friend and business besty Lyndsey of What You Sow. You may have seen this inspiring gardening business in publications such as Homes & Gardens and Khoolect but more recently as one of the entrants for this years Mollie Makes Handmade Awards with her amazing #secretseedswap which is in its 3rd year! Hop over to Pinterest to see what all the fuss is about… I guarantee you will come away seriously inspired!

Tell us a little about your background…

My name is Lyndsey Haskell, I am the owner of What You Sow, on online shop and blog helping people who love to grow things make the most of their green spaces. I work from a studio above the ONCA Gallery in central Brighton which I am lucky enough to share with a lovely bunch of other creative people.

What You Sow plant inspiration

Do you have creative habits or rituals within your work that help you stay focussed and happy? 

I’ve never been a morning person, so it helps to have a fellow creative pal at work who motivates me to get into work and make an early start. Every Monday at 8.30 we meet for avocado on toast with coffee and discuss how our weeks are looking.

What two things can’t you live without?

Greenery – I really need plants and flowers, or pictures of plants and flowers, around me in order to function (I just counted and the plant count in our studio is currently at 45).

What You Sow Office plants

My Canon 600D – as well as taking product shots and plant pictures for the What You Sow shop and social media, I also work freelance taking photos for charities and community groups.

What is your biggest source of inspiration?

Solitude. I am constantly surrounded by so many amazing sources of inspiration but I need a lot of time on my own to process my ideas and put them into some sort of coherent plans and projects. This is often walking along or sitting on beautiful Brighton beach just watching the waves.

What is the meaning of ‘craft’ to you?

It’s about taking the time and care to make something special that will last. Time is such a rare commodity nowadays, so using it to appreciate or make something home-made is something that I think more of us could benefit from.

If you could collaborate on a creative project or idea with anyone… who would it be & why?

I’d love to work with artist Lucy Auge on something for What You Sow when we both have some time. I love the way she sees and documents the plants she comes across and her 500 flowers study is stunning.

Do you have a favourite piece of equipment that inspires your day to day process?

I have a standing desk in the studio which as well as being good for my back, helps with productivity too!

What is the best thing about running your *business/blog/working for yourself?

Having the space to mix the creative with the more routine side of things as fits me best. And combining both parts as necessary to make What You Sow the best it can be.

Potting Sieve from What You Sow

What is your proudest creative moment in your journey so far?

There are loads of proud moments, and I’m always so excited to read a new bit of press about What You Sow (Country Living was a BIG highlight).

 

Also a few weeks ago I was at my nan’s 80th birthday party which was full of relatives I hadn’t seen since I was little. As she introduced me to everyone she told them about What You Sow too and the pride she expressed made me feel really proud too.

2 Weeks Until Summer Enrolment Closes. My how the time fly’s when you are creating a new dream project and sharing it with your creative community! There is a first time for everything, and like most of those first times I had no idea what to expect. So a huge thank you to everyone who has shared, liked, replied to my newsletter, sent me some advice and signed up to the new on-line school. Your input has been invaluable! There is still time to enrol on the course and a chance for a one off exclusive discount via the lovely folks at Mollie Makes here.

Hopefully you’ve also had time to read my previous ‘Studio Tour’ and ‘Craft Journey’ posts and enjoyed getting to know me and a bit about what makes this small craft business with big idea tick!

Here’s a quick reminder what students who sign up to the school then enrol on my début course recieve after they decide a summer’s worth of craft projects at their fingertips is exactly what their 2016 holiday needs!…

You will receive the début 4 project course at the lowest price its going to be available for

an additional 4 ‘Hack’ projects and their accompanying work sheets,

a whole library of 12 crochet technique and styling videos which are bright, fun and super easy to follow

access to a student only online creative community group… where you can share your project progress, ask advice from me and other crafty course attendees

Skype assistance from me if you get stuck on a project, technique or colour choice OR if you think you want to buy the course but need a few more things clarified before you commit

a whole host of printable sheets, patterns & diagrams which have been designed in my lovely little home studio for your course folder

payment plans so that you can spread the cost of the début course over 2 or 4 months if that suites you better

the exclusive yarn bundle *previously only available to mailing list subscribes* which includes ALL yarn + hooks needed for the 4 main projects + free UK postage… at half the RRP posted straight to your door*

Plus a lovely little free project video tutorial for everyone who enrols on the course

Pictures of the course (Project 1 Chunky Colour Clash Pots) from a lovely bunch of creative folk on Instagram

corchet ecourse blogger projectKim Lawler

corchet ecourse blogger projectFinestImaginary.com

corchet ecourse blogger projectClaireabellaMakes

What people are saying…

 

‘5* Amazing crochet projects loved it! Very easy to follow & handy printable guides too x’ Kaye!

‘I can’t recommend this enough.. courses are fun & easy to follow. I’m making things I never thought I’d be able to!’ Zoe

‘…simple to follow but challenging enough you don’t get bored & all the projects are things that I will use’ Lyndsey

You can hop on over to the on-line e course school here and preview sections of the course for free + view the lovely craft inspiration video too.
Drop me an email if you have any queries
Amy x
*Overseas postage prices will vary depending on location

Creative Biz / My Home Studio. Hello Folks! Today to celebrate the end of week 2 of my debut e-course going live I thought I’d give you a little peek into my studio space. Those of you who have followed my creative biz journey for a while now will know that until March 2015 I ran a big studio and teaching space with my besty Claire in Brighton ‘Super+Super HQ’. We closed that space to move to Notts and after weeks of sorting, recycling, giving away and donating I had somehow managed to whittle 3 years worth of craft and studio supplies down to my core treasures! Luckily for me our new home has 2 extra storage spaces… which are now overflowing with craft workshop and hen party supplies, project samples and all my fave bit’s and bobs.

I love my new little studio space! Its bright, cosy, and filled with lovely and useful things…. its most definitely NOT one of those minimal instagram friendly kind of spaces…. I love colour, texture and and pattern and am constantly working on new plans, projects or ideas so need to have my most important things close to hand. Most recently I purchased a huge white board (not in pics sorry) and have made a working plan of my whole year! Plus goals, colourful post it notes and positive affirmation kind of quotes etc. I love it! I’m constantly developing ways to inspire and maintain my productivity and on the days when i’m working on freelance projects out of the studio I wish I could take all my post it notes with me.

My favourite parts include… The 1950’s kitchenette which encompasses my library, fabric stash, is sewing machine storage and craft miscellany draw. My big bamboo desk from Ikea. My stack of creative and craft magazines which include favourites Frankie Mag, Flow Magazine, Caboodle and Mollie Makes. All the plants and hand made goodies! And the photos of my best friends which are dotted around the room.

I hope you enjoy this little tour and that it gives you a feel of how I run Super+Super. I couldn’t fit in all the baskets of yarn, cats or craft book library… but we can save those for another day!

I’d love to hear about your creative spaces too so please feel free to send me an email at hello@supersuperhq.com

Amy x

Inspiration moodbaord

planning is my bag

Flow Magazine and Lars Flower head

Mollie Makes award shortlist 2015 joy

A working desk

my creative business mantra

A little bit of magic energy

my favourite crochet project atm!

Smiling bestys

You can preview my exciting new e-course ‘Crochet For The Colourful Creative’ by clicking here. Its open for enrolment for another 2 weeks.

My Craft Journey…

I’ve talked a lot about what’s going on now with Super+Super, projects, workshops, interviews and future plans… But today I’d love to share a bit about my route into a creative career and what has inspired my love of crafts. So i’ll start at the beginning and talk about some key things, people and opportunities that helped evolve a creative education into my current creative lifestyle and developing business…. Not to mention my love of all things yarn based in craft!

*Disclaimer – I’m going to get a little bit more woo woo at the start of this post than usual.. I hope you enjoy!*

When I was younger craft brought a sense of belonging to my life that I had never found anywhere else. A connection to an area of skill, knowledge and realness. Later It opened my eyes to ideas about sustainability, community and craftsmanship. Having spent my early yeas at a Waldorf Steiner School you could say that this way of learning and viewing the world around me was pretty inherent to my every day. Instead of English/maths/science/French/more science etc etc at the age of 4 I learned to draw, sing, play, grow plants, write, speak German, tell stories, listen, bake, knit, forage, dance, and do math! But most of all be a child learning and exploring the world through the eyes of a child.

I left this wonderful school at year 8 and joined a mainstream state school – a year ahead of my peers – and was gob-smacked that literally none of the other kids wanted to go to school, let alone had a favourite subject! This was a really strange thing for me, this arty, kooky kid who didn’t really fit in but who loved to learn.  I’m not going to lie my first few years in secondary school were a nightmare! After moving to a different secondary school just before GCSE’s, which had a fantastic art department and textiles teacher, I finally began to enjoy school again and realise that creativity at school was once again available to me.

Art and later textiles design really helped me embrace my eccentricities, colourful personality & style. It was where I felt most at home and could express myself most clearly! Working with my hands was so relaxing and as a visual learner I learnt the most whilst listening to teachers talk about art history, historical textiles techniques & vintage fashion design. I soaked up everything I could!

After specialising in textiles design during my foundation degree I knew I had found my place! It took me years to hone in on any one specific skill, but once that light switched on I knew there was no going back…. I was going to pursue a creative path whether that be as a maker, designer or teacher… it was the right fit and an exciting time!

So I studied Textiles for Fashion with Art History & Business Studies at Brighton University and ended up staying in that crazily creative city by the sea for 10 years in total.

Now

Craft allows me to learn through doing and to feel connected to others by sharing my own creative knowledge and skills. To channel my creativity into interests such as fashion, DIY, dress making, gardening, baking, upcycling, sustainability and styling. To make, do & mend.

Craft has lead me to an amazing group of friends which is constantly growing into a wonderful creative community.

From a business perspective craft and textiles design has allowed me to work with some amazing creative talents throughout the UK and beyond. I have been lucky enough to collaborate with some amazing designers and makers on workshops, events and runway collections. I have worked at textiles fairs in Paris and interned in London and Denmark. All of which have been full of colour, creative people and different and interesting perspectives about the meaning of craft, creativity and personal style.

I am most definitely what is known amongst creative solopreneurs as a ‘Type A creative’ always on the go, wanting to do 10 projects at a time, constantly thinking up new ideas, inspired by the smallest thing, over achiever, early riser, can’t stay still for too long, loves a challenge and is constantly learning and exploring new possibilities!

For me the perfect afternoon is calm sunny sitting in my little garden, yarn in one hand and a tea in the other, with a pen and note pad close by… creating new patterns from scratch and designing as I make. However running a craft based business is probably only like that 25% of the time, and the rest is a totally different story. Admin, marketing, planning, budgeting, computer filled! Having said that I still love it, and have found my own creative ways to manage this side of my business. Namely colourful post it notes, tea brakes and most recently an amazing creative coach.

Tea and crafting how I run my creative business

I love the excitement of meeting new people at one of my workshops and hearing about why they want to learn a new skill and helping them gain the confidence in themselves to pursue it after the class! I love the sense of community crafting on-line and in person instils in a person. The huge sense of pride when the answer is ‘I made it’ when someone asks about your summer dress/crochet bag or macramé wall hanging. I love the handmade movement and how its bringing ideas of sustainability back to the forefront. I love knowing who made my garment, with what and that they were paid a fair wage. I love swapping yarns and sharing left over fabric scraps! I love the inherent uniqueness of craft, crafter’s and creative’s but how we are all excited and inspired by creating wonderful things for ourselves and others…. by hand. And then being able to share and discuss them on-line and at meet ups.

Yep my heart is totally full of joy right now and i’m not even remotely sorry!

So what are the wider benefits of crafting?

New research shows that knitting and other forms of textile crafting such as sewing, weaving and crocheting have quite a lot in common with mindfulness and meditation — and are reported to have a positive impact on mind health and well-being.

A recent study by neuroscientist Betsan Corkhill concluded that “Knitting has significant psychological and social benefits, which can contribute to well-being and quality of life.” Also a positive impact on mental challenges and problem solving.

Here is a list of the 9 top benefits of crafting…

  1. Social connection
  2. Mindfulness
  3. Development of hand-eye coordination, spatial awareness and fine motor dexterity
  4. Learning and teaching
  5. Focusing attention and thoughts on a task

  6. Encouraging active creativity
  7. Gives a sense of pride and achievement
  8. Teaches patience and perseverance
  9. Facilitates memory formation and retrieval

You can find more about this at http://www.mindbodygreen.com or searching the web ‘benefits of craft’.

Crafting allows us to focus on the thing at hand, literally. It relaxes and relieves external anxiety caused by technology overload and constant work life balance bombardment!

It allows us to create beautiful handmade gifts for people we care about and that are unique and filled with wonderful personality and joy!

crafting is good for the soul

I am always striving for a creative, handmade movement. Every little helps as a way of connecting with others through knowledge, practice, style, history, colour and texture.

Crafting and creating things by hand in the wider sense allows us to take stock of what we really need and want in our lives. To learn and appreciate where the stuff we use has come from and about the workmanship and skill that has gone into it.

Happy Crafting my loves! I hope this little intro to my crafty background has been of interest. If you know of a local Stitch & Bitch or Etsy team I highly recommend going along to their next meet up! If you have any questions about this post feel free to drop me a line.

Amy x

Super+Super Craft Parties Nottingham

At Super+Super as well as craft workshops & events, I specialise in craft parties. Who doesn’t love craft… AND parties! My aim is to offer a number of different styles of crafty event so you can choose which party best suits your celebratory needs! Whether it be a Birthday, Hen party or Baby shower I will fill your day with creative fun.

With a flexible range of projects, all suitable for beginners and expert tuition on hand I am here to help you craft your way through a lovely afternoon or evening with your best friends and family members. Projects range from vintage style hair fascinators to cool woven wall art or printed tote bags… and all parties include tea on tap, baked goods and a lovely playlist to craft along to! It’s the perfect alternative hen party.

Craft Parties Nottingham // Our Venues!

Focus Gallery Nottingham – A morning or afternoon in the private gallery space of one of Nottingham’s loveliest contemporary art&craft galleries. With tea on tap and craft project of your choice this craft party option is suitable for groups of 10-14. Prices start from £37.50 per person and vary depending on group size and craft activity. Complete with either a cream tea or cake and nibbles please ask when booking. Min booking 10

The Malt Cross Nottingham – Pricing as above but details & booking on enquiry. Groups of 10-20

Craft Hen party Nottingham

Hold a Craft Party at Home or your own rented accommodation in Nottingham!

Choose An afternoon or evening at your home or rented holiday apartment. You bring the fizz, we’ll bring the craft party and a cake. Prices start from £35 per person. Complete with either a cream tea or cake and nibbles. With tea on tap and craft project of your choice this craft party option is suitable for groups of 10-22. Minimum booking 10.

*Package prices includes ALL materials, expert tuition for your chosen project and refreshments!

Each party lasts approx 3 hours and my current list of projects are:

Vintage style fascinators

Festival chic headdresses

DIY printed Motto wall hanging 

Paper or felt Bridal bouquet + corsages

Stencil and stamp tote bag / tea towel

Fancy pants – embellished knickers 

Frida Khalo-esque flower crown or headband making

DIY embellished bunting making

Crochet granny squares

I am still taking bookings for late summer/autumn 2016! If you would like to book a craft party please contact me via email, with details of your chosen date, how many people you’d like to bring and which craft option you would like to go for then we will go through the booking process with you and work out a quote. Take a look at our Hen Party album on Facebook to see some of our recent parties! Parties usually run 10.30am-1pm or 2-4.30pm but this can be flexible to suite you!

Craft Hen party Nottingham

T&C’s Our minimum group booking size is 10. The Full balance must be paid on confirmation of booking. 50% of this total is a non refundable deposit. I will issue an invoice/reciept for your quote/total. Payment must be made by BACS or Paypal in full. Full deposit (100% of party price) will be returned if we (Super+Super) have to cancel your event. Min 3 weeks notice must be given by you of cancellation de receive the balance of your party. Min booking charge is 10 attendees. Please ask for dietary requirements.

Craft Hen party Nottingham

What people are saying…

‘We booked the Super Super head dress and afternoon tea session for my friends hen party, everyone including the hen loved it. The session catered for all levels of sewing ability and the afternoon tea was fantastic, and all dietary requirements were catered for, the dairy & gluten free chocolate brownie was the best I’ve ever tasted!’ Ruth via Facebook

‘Really creative, friendly and down to earth. Loved having my ‘non-hen’ hen party with them. We made the decorations for my wedding!’ Zoe via Facebook

‘A thoroughly fun afternoon and great value for money. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend their craft sessions! Thanks for a lovely afternoon Amy!’ Katie via Facebok

Craft Hen party Nottingham