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24 July 2017

Blogtacular 2017: My Creative Tribe


At the beginning of June I took the train to London for my first ever Blogtacular. For those of you less familiar, Blogtacular is an annual conference full of workshops and inspiration for bloggers and indie business owners. It's the talked about conference and one I've been wanting to attend for years. 

Review of Blogtacular 2017 by Joanna Payne from creative lifestyle blog, Adventures & Tea Parties


Having recently moved counties to begin a new, happier chapter in my life, I've had more of an urge to meet new people who are on the same wave length as me, be with positive and friendly people and well, find my creative tribe. With that all-encompassing thought, I knew this was the year to finally go and find out what Blogtacular was all about. And my aim? I wanted to go and learn, be inspired, meet my friends and quite simply, hang out with a creative tribe; a good enough reason as any.


Blogtacular 2017 Photowalk - review by Joanna Payne, creative lifestyle blogger from Adventures & Tea Parties


Heading over on the Friday, I checked into my hotel, quickly changed, then dashed over to Shoreditch in time for the Photowalk hosted by Nikki McWilliams. Only knowing a few people who were due to be at the walk, I was a little nervous to say the least, worrying that I would be stood like a big lemon and have no one to talk to. I don't know why I even worried for as soon as I turned up Kat waved at me (was it my bright yellow dress and pink tights that gave me away as one of the Photowalk attendees Kat? Ha-ha!) as I headed over to join the group where I instantly started chatting to so many lovely, wonderful people, feeling completely at home and not in the slightest bit nervous. 


Blogtacular 2017 - Blogtacular Photowalk East - hosted by Nikki McWilliams.


As soon as we were gathered we set off, spending two glorious hours taking photos of the most colourful things we could find including incredible street art, colourful doors and anything that caught our eye (more pics here). I really enjoyed the walk because we simply took our time and enjoyed taking photos, recording funny Boomerang videos and chatting as we walked. It didn't feel rushed and was a real geek out over taking pretty pictures.  It was also a fantastic ice breaker. 


Unicorn smoothie from Blogtacular 2017 West Elm Party. Photo by Joanna Payne, creative lifestyle blogger, Adventures & Tea Parties


Before I knew it, I was back at my hotel getting ready to meet one of my longest online friends and head off together to the next Blogtacular event, the West Elm party. This particular friend I had never met in person before but we've been emailing and chatting about blogs, business and life for a good 5+ years, so I was very excited to finally meet Sophie from Onetenzeroseven. And my word, it was amazing! I know we've been online friends for so long but it seriously felt like I'd known Sophie my entire life. 

Chatting ten-to-the-dozen, we headed off to the Blogtacular party, hosted by West Elm where we ate slider burgers, drank unicorn smooties (yes, that is a thing!) before being put into groups to have discussions on set topics. At 9pm, it was time for West Elm to shut up shop, quite literally, so that we could all head off and get some sleep before the main event on the Saturday. 

Blogtacular 2017 Goodie Bag designed by Spoonful of Sugar. Photo taken by Joanne Payne, creative lifestyle blogger at Adventures & Tea Parties and from her blog post review on Blogtacular 2017.

Heading back to my hotel I proceeded to spend the entire night not sleeping a wink. The hotel itself was wonderful - clean, tidy, quiet and comfortable - but being in a strange place on my own resulted in my brain staying alert and so I got very little sleep. Still I got myself up, full of tea and off to the conference.

Photo Credit: Blogtacular and Amber-Rose Photography

Unsure quite what to expect from the main part of Blogtacular I was more than pleasantly surprised by the venue, which was spacious, light and well laid out. There was a small market place full of gorgeous goodies to buy, a colour themed balloon extravaganza of a photo booth, a genius bar full of experts to put your questions to and an entire area full of food and drinks, with plenty of places to sit. There was a great vibe on entering as everyone was greeted with a very friendly welcome, given a free conference programme and presented with a mountain of food and drinks to choose from, so I was one happy bunny.

With an hour dedicated to eating, filling my sleepy bones with caffeine and meeting more long time internet friends, including the super inspiring Claire of Claireabellemakes, this was another great ice breaker and chunk of time to mingle, check the programme and eat even more food!


Items in the Blogtacular 2017 goodie bag. Photo taken by creative lifestyle blogger, Joanna Payne / Adventures & Tea Parties
Blogtacular Goodie Bag Contents


The programme was cleverly designed giving you a choice of workshops to attend with tea, coffee and food breaks between each one, so no rushing from one workshop to another and a lovely long lunch break to allow you time for more mingling, a rest to take it all in and time to browse the market place.

After hoovering up breakfast, the day truly began with a keynote presentation by the incredible Natalie Lue, an author, blogger and podcaster. Natalie definitely set the tone for the day with her over-riding point about listening to yourself, not being afraid and going for it and being true to yourself.


Kayte Ferris. Photo Credit: Blogtacular and Amber-Rose Photography

Feeling set up and motivated I chose to attend Kayte Ferris's 'Foundations of marketing' workshop, which was fantastic! Not only did I make copious notes, learn so much about marketing but Kayte's presentation style was incredible. She's engaging, inspiring, approachable and really knows her stuff. Something that also stood out for me was the fact that Kayte stayed for the entire conference, chatting and mingling with everyone, being on hand to answer any questions and being so approachable and friendly.

Photo Credit: Blogtacular and Amber-Rose Photography

After lunch I was completely torn about which workshop to attend, I could easily have gone to all three but opted for Cath Dean's 'Finding your niche'. Being the editor of Mollie Makes, Cath knows her stuff and she really got us thinking about how to discover what your niche is. I've since used the exercises she taught us and feel like I have gained a better understanding where I fit as a blog and business.

For the last workshop I didn't even have to make a decision, it had to be the 'Creative business masterclass' run by biscuit queen Nikki McWilliams, Kim Lawler of Finest Imaginary and Rachel Basinger of ONR Shop. Their group presentation was brilliantly done, giving not only a whole load of incredible tips on approaching, balancing and building your business but crucially, the inspiration to do it. I came away feeling I can and should carry on with Adventures & Tea Parties.

Photo Credit: Blogtacular and Amber-Rose Photography


The day ended with a keynote presentation by Emma Gannon, which rounded the theme of the day off nicely - being true to yourself, playing to your strengths and working with people, not against them.

I learnt so much from Blogtacular that it took a while for it all to truly sink in, which is why I decided to hold off writing this blog post until I'd given it further thought and reflection.

If I have the chance to go again next year, then there's one over-riding thing that I would change and that's to have longer conversations when mingling, rather than those 5 minute introductory style chats you have at conferences. Having lengthier, more meaningful conversations at conferences is a tough one because everyone is wanting to do the same and time is limited but I would definitely push myself to not just find out a name and what the person does but actually go grab a cup of tea and spend more valuable time chatting with new and familiar faces.

That aside, the positives I got out of it were not only the wealth of knowledge from the workshops and being with a creative tribe who get what I do but gaining confidence by going on my own, even staying in a hotel on my own for the first time ever and just being myself; I think that's the biggest achievement of all. I feel like I can do more things on my own now and that feels good.

Photo Credit: Blogtacular and Amber-Rose Photography


21 July 2017

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

Rainbow pug key rings by Adventures & Tea Parties and available at Etsy


If you've seen my Instagram Stories then you'll know I had a massive slump this afternoon. Nothing negative, just tiredness catching up on me as it's been a non stop week, with some serious desk mileage; 13 hour day anyone? Yup! But it was so worth it as I got my dog and cat key rings launched in my Etsy shop, woohoo!

Here are some other good things that happened this week too :) 


Happy #1 / Taking Monday off and hanging out with my besties :)

Happy #2 / I know I've just mentioned it but I was seriously hopping with excitement when Bespoke Laser did it again with their incredible laser powers, cutting my dog and cat designs to perfection! 

Happy #3 / Starting a new knitting pattern and watching the first series of True Detective. In other words, knitting and binge watching may have happened this week, ha-ha!

Happy #4 / Finishing another new design and the prospect of the samples of it arriving next week.

Happy #5 / Seeing the first beans sprout in the garden. Yay for home grown food!


Aaaannnd, here are some tunes I've most definitely had on repeat this week. So, pop your Friday feeling shoes or slippers on and have a listen and dance to these.


Happy Friday everyone, have a great weekend!


16 July 2017

A day in the life of a knitwear designer

I'm so excited to share this next 'Day in the life' feature because not only am I a huge fan of knitting but I've seen this knitwear designer grow over the years to create an absolutely incredible brand. So, without further ado, let's find out what the day in the life of knitwear designer is like...

Miss Knit Nat - Day in the life feature on creative lifestyle blog, Adventures & Tea Parties

Hi there Miss Knit Nat, can you introduce you and your job to the Adventures & Tea Parties' readers?

Hi I'm Natalie - I'm based in Woking/Surrey and I'm part of the now Miss Knit Nat duo with Mr Knit Nat!

I started my business back in 2011. Knitting was initially a hobby and a really good way to relax. I would make things mainly for myself and some of my friends, who then started asking if I could make things for their friends and it started to grow from there.

I soon realised there was potential to make some money out of my hobby and six years later, after turning that into a business selling to both retail and wholesale customers, I'm no longer allowed any hobbies!

I learnt to hand knit when I was really young from my Mum and Nanny and I used to continually make and create things, either by knitting or using my old wind up singer sewing machine (sadly, I don’t have this anymore). I've always been interested in fashion and textiles, including working as an assistant manager in high-end high-street retail and have always loved accessories as they can really finish off and make an outfit.

Combining my love of fashion and textiles with my hobby to create Miss Knit Nat made perfect sense. The name of the business was already in my mind too as it is a simple mix of two my nicknames from my university days.

Miss Knit Nat - Day in the life feature on creative lifestyle blog, Adventures & Tea Parties

I started Miss Knit Nat with just two balls of chunky merino wool and a pair of needles to make my first snood. I then sold that snood and bought four more balls of wool and it grew from there. I remember vividly the first wholesale order we placed for our yarn and the dilemma of whether to take the risk of spending £400 on wool and I'm so glad we did!

Although I loved hand knitting and creating texture through the fabric, I then discovered machine knitting and became fascinated by what you could achieve with it and how you could blend pattern and colours together. I trained in how to use the machines alongside continuing to hand knit and even took the same course twice, once to find out the functional basics and the second to break the boundaries – machine knitting and hand knitting are both similar and different, the stitch structure is the same but the way they are created is not necessarily - and it got me wondering what else might be possible!

I originally started Miss Knit Nat with a view to create brightly coloured accessories, and finally after getting my own knitting machines I could then achieve that goal and brought the lambswool knits into my collection alongside the hand knits. As I grew to love the machine knitting, and mixing different colourways and patterns to create my geometric designs, these grew and the hand knits were gradually phased out.

Last year we started working with a manufacturer to create our hats and gloves, which felt like a huge but brilliant step. The scarves, headbands and cushions are still made by myself, from the knitting to steaming, linking and finishing.

Miss Knit Nat - Day in the life feature on creative lifestyle blog, Adventures & Tea Parties

How does your day start?

Both myself and Mr Knit Nat get up around 5am as we have full time jobs as well as running the business. I tend to travel in early as I commute into London and the early start means I have more of the evening free for making.

At the moment I have breakfast at work (currently peanut butter on a wholemeal bagel with either tea or coffee - I tend to eat the same thing for a few weeks and then switch it when I get bored!). The journey in usually consists of catching up on emails/social media, and with other designer/maker friends on Whatsapp. 

At the weekend we are also up early, and usually have breakfast with a much-needed cup of tea in a Miss Knit Nat mug (couldn't resist) followed by either planning/designing, or at the moment stock building for the winter. Clothing wise for knitting days it’s pretty casual, lots of leggings/loose jersey, but for trade shows we tend to be fairly smart but comfortable. Music is a great motivator and we tend to listen to varying Spotify playlists, on a long knitting day you can get through quite a few genres! 

Any finished orders are packaged up and taken to the post office by Mr Knit Nat – a regular in the post office especially at Christmas time!

Miss Knit Nat - Day in the life feature on creative lifestyle blog, Adventures & Tea Parties

Do you take a lunch break?

Lunch is timed between scarves and is usually something healthy but substantial (machine knitting can be a bit of a workout!). After lunch I then continue with making, from creating the knitted fabric on the knitting machine, steaming, to using the linker to join the circle scarves/headbands. I also try to vary what I'm doing a bit as last year I got tennis elbow from knitting after doing too much on the machine in one go, so I do have to be careful!

We're starting to get Mr Knit Nat more and more involved in the business. You've probably seen him at craft fairs while I've been at home making more stock, but he's also starting to become one of the main contact points for wholesale and our manufacturer as well as keeping track of the accounts, as for the items made in house I still do the full making process. 

Miss Knit Nat - Day in the life feature on creative lifestyle blog, Adventures & Tea Parties


What do you do in the afternoon?

As well as the weekend making I manage to knit some scarves after work, no more than one or two items though and then later into the evening I concentrate on any finishing and sewing I need to do. I juggle this between exercising to keep strong and healthy for using the knitting machine, and catching up with friends (although November/December do become a bit chaotic!)

At this time of year I'm working on wholesale orders and stock building – last week we also created a new section on our website for wholesale customers to view the new AW17 collection. I'll be launching the collection to our retail customers later in the year but wanted an area for stockists to be able to view the items and see all of the images in one place.

Of course we like to ensure we are always up to date with Neighbours and Home and Away – total Aussie soap fans and it’s the perfect background to sewing up scarves!

Miss Knit Nat - Day in the life feature on creative lifestyle blog, Adventures & Tea Parties

What's your weekend like?

Hmmm, I used to knit to relax! Most of the making is done during the day at the weekend and on an ideal Saturday I like to start with an early morning gym visit, work on the business all day and then catch up with friends/family in the evening. Sunday would ideally start with a yoga class followed by more making, and also the occasional afternoon tea club with a couple of my local friends. Usually by the time we get to the end of the weekend there is a fresh batch of scarves or headbands all drying ready to be pressed and finished during the week.


Miss Knit Nat - Day in the life feature on the creative lifestyle blog, Adventures & Tea Parties


What do you love about your job and do you have any tips you can share or maybe future plans for Miss Knit Nat?

I absolutely love having my own business! It can be quite hectic at times (you do really have to want to do it as there have been a lot of tears!) but the reward and feedback from customers is just so lovely.

I would say to anyone wanting to start out, give it a go! It can take a little while to build momentum so be patient, try things out and see what customers respond to. Craft fairs are also a great way to get customer feedback. 

One of the things I’ve learnt along the way is getting the balance right; from making sure you have time for yourself, but also the balance of your business, e.g retail vs wholesale and which direction is best for you to focus on.

This year we’ve expanded the collection and have also changed the finish of the items I make myself, making them more luxury/fluffy and with a slightly thicker feel than in previous years, so we’re really excited to be launching the collection later in the year.

Thank you so much Natalie, it's wonderful hearing all about the behind-the-scenes of your knitting world and what running a business is actually like. Keep up the incredible work!


I hope you've all enjoyed the 'Day in the life of a XXX' and are now heading off to Miss Knit Nat to look at all the beautiful knits! You can also find Miss Knit Nat on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, so pop along and give them a like! If you'd also like to read more 'Day in the life' features, head over here to discover what a day in the life is like for these incredible people

14 July 2017

What's on the jukebox, Jo?


Behind the scenes at Adventures & Tea Parties, creative lifestyle blog and accessory brand.


How was your week? Did you have a good one? Any highlights?

I don't know why but for some reason my need to sew clothes came flying back out of nowhere. I had put it on the shelf and actually put one pattern I cut out in the cupboard for two years! For whatever reason I pulled the dress out and over a couple of evenings I'd nearly finished it but then got to that stage where I realised I clearly hadn't measured properly at the time of cutting it out...two years ago. So, I'm planning to do a bit of taking it in at the seams and see how it fairs. With this renewed energy to sew, I felt encourage to start the design idea that's been floating around in my head for months. It's one for my shop, not a personal sewing project and I'm still tweaking it, then going to look at getting it launched in my shop asap, yay! So, the need to sew that dress pattern again lead to something good and ooh, it felt wonderful!

That was the highlight of my week for sure but as I like to keep focused on the positive and acknowledge the good stuff that happens, here are 5 more happy things that happened this week.

Happy #1 / I designed and sent off my idea to Bespoke Laser UK for feedback and we're working together to try and make it happen, exciting!

Happy #2 / Picked the first crop of peas and spinach and they were the sweetest, freshest ever.

Happy #3 / Wore a dress every day this week, mostly handmade ones I created years ago.

Happy #4 / Got orders for my new pin design, woohoo!

Happy #5 / Laughing over stick-in-your-head-annoying-songs with my friends.

Here are seven songs that are fun, happy and might, just might, stick in your head for the weekend! ;)

Ghostbusters 
Ca Plane Pour Moi by Plastic Bertrand
I can't stand the rain - Ann Peebles
You Got It by Roy Orbison
I've got reasons by Mary Jane Hooper
Something good going to happen by Utah Saints
Kids in America by Kim Wilde

Happy Friday everyone, have a fab weekend!


13 July 2017

Gardening jobs for July

Gardening jobs for July. Some tips, hints and suggestions for jobs you can do in the garden in July. Written by Joanna Payne from creative lifestyle blog, Adventures & Tea Parties and shared on creative blog, Simple Stylish Makes.

Over on the Simple Stylish Makes blog I'm sharing some lovely gardening jobs for July, which include looking after your tomatoes and eating all those yummy home grown veg!


10 July 2017

Blogtacular 2017 Photowalk

Blogtacular 2017 Photowalk. Photo in Shoreditch and taken by Joanna Payne from creative lifestyle blog, Adventures & Tea Parties

I can't believe that Blogtacular was over a month ago now. Where on earth has the time gone? I've been flat out with work since I got back, so I'm only now getting around to sharing some of the Blogtacular Photowalk pics I took.

There were four Photowalks hosted by Blogtacular on the Friday before the conference, one of which was a video walk, which looked like lots of fun! I got to go on the photowalk around Shoreditch lead by Nikki McWilliams. Being a first timer at Blogtacular, I was a little nervous to say the least about meeting so many familiar faces that I've known online for years but haven't had the chance to meet in person. Meeting an online friend in person is the most surreal but also best experience and is definitely something I'll be blogging about soon. Having the chance to go to the photowalk the day before the Blogtacular was a brilliant ice breaker and made me way less nervous for the conference on Saturday.

Blogtacular 2017 Photowalk. Photo in Shoreditch and taken by Joanna Payne from creative lifestyle blog, Adventures & Tea Parties

Arriving at the photowalk I immediately saw faces I recognised and totally surprised myself by not being overly shy, chatting away and actually feeling at ease as more and more people turned up.

The walk took a lovely slow pace with plenty of hovering around to gorge ourselves on photographing all the incredible street art. It was heavenly to be able to take photos without the pressure of having to catch people up or have someone wait "patiently" as you try to take that photo. I could easily have spent a whole day there taking even more photos. Here's a selection of some I did take. And before I forget, actually more as a promise to myself, I will be blogging about the conference next week and sharing what I learnt from it, so watch this space if that's of interest to you.

Blogtacular 2017 Photowalk. Photo in Shoreditch and taken by Joanna Payne from creative lifestyle blog, Adventures & Tea Parties

Blogtacular 2017 Photowalk. Photo in Shoreditch and taken by Joanna Payne from creative lifestyle blog, Adventures & Tea Parties

Blogtacular 2017 Photowalk. Photo in Shoreditch and taken by Joanna Payne from creative lifestyle blog, Adventures & Tea Parties

Blogtacular 2017 Photowalk. Photo in Shoreditch and taken by Joanna Payne from creative lifestyle blog, Adventures & Tea Parties

Blogtacular 2017 Photowalk. Photo in Shoreditch and taken by Joanna Payne from creative lifestyle blog, Adventures & Tea PartiesBlogtacular 2017 Photowalk. Photo in Shoreditch and taken by Joanna Payne from creative lifestyle blog, Adventures & Tea Parties

Blogtacular 2017 Photowalk. Photo in Shoreditch and taken by Joanna Payne from creative lifestyle blog, Adventures & Tea Parties


Blogtacular 2017 Photowalk. Photo in Shoreditch and taken by Joanna Payne from creative lifestyle blog, Adventures & Tea Parties


Blogtacular 2017 Photowalk. Photo in Shoreditch and taken by Joanna Payne from creative lifestyle blog, Adventures & Tea Parties


Blogtacular 2017 Photowalk. Photo in Shoreditch and taken by Joanna Payne from creative lifestyle blog, Adventures & Tea Parties


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