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27 February 2015

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

I just have to share this song
Heard it on Radio 6 a good few weeks back now and I can't stop listening to it. One of those songs that will sit firmly in the addictive list.
I was also flippin' surprised it was an Abba track.
So, go give it a listen, turn it up and shoulder shake, foot tap and dance along because hey it's Friday and there should always be music on a Friday.

25 February 2015

New handkerchief colours in the shop!

Roll up, roll up, new handerkchief colours and patterns in stock!

All those lovely orders your placed over Christmas for my handmade, personalised handkerchiefs totally cleared me out of fabric! So, I've now replenished my stock levels and I'm introducing a few new colours/prints in the polka dot pattern. The new colours/prints in the examples above are: A, C, E, M and O, which have slightly bigger polka dots.

All my 100% cotton handkerchiefs are made from scratch by me in my studio. They are carefully hemmed and come with various personalised options, which are hand embroidered in a contrasting colour thread. Each handkerchief comes in a free gift box, making them a great, personalised present.

And for all your lovely followers of Adventures & Tea Parties blog, I'm offering 10% off all handkerchief orders in my Etsy shop until March 15th. This offer applies to all handkerchiefs in my Etsy shop only. Just enter the following coupon code at checkout: MOTHERSDAY15

23 February 2015

Simple Stylish Makes official blogger!

Soooo, a little while back I may have hinted at an exciting new project I had been approached about. Well, I can now reveal all.....

I'm now officially writing for Simple Stylish Make's blog and here's my first post.

Simple Stylish Makes produces Simple Stylish Knitting, a brand new magazine that's just hit the shelves and is great for those of you that have just taken up knitting. I'm totally chuffed to be a part of it!

So, head over to the blog, follow the Twitter profile and the hashtag (#simplestylishmakes) and get inspired to knit!

20 February 2015

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

There are so many plates spinning at Adventures and Tea Parties at the moment, so the music is all about loud, rock music! 
Some of the bands/songs that have been turned up particularly loud are Royal Blood's 'Out of the black', Led Zepplin's 'Rock and Roll' and The Raconteurs' Salute Your Solution'.
There's something about LOUD rock music that keeps the motor running if you know what I mean and I couldn't live without it quite frankly. So, here's a nod to all those rock muscians and bands been and gone and here and now, thanks guys.

18 February 2015

Handmade and what it means to me

I love handmade.

I love those small businesses that keep handmade alive and kicking. 

I love the fact that every handmade item out there, whether it's made as a gift, to sell, to decorate a home with, to wear or simply just for the heck of making it, is totally unique.

I love how we have been making things by hand since time immemorial.

I love learning how to make things by hand.

I love how the art of making something by hand can make you feel a whole mixture of feelings - relaxed, frustrated, excited, delighted, and addicted.

I love handmade.

17 February 2015

February Shop sale!

It's been just over two years since I opened my Adventures and Tea Parties' shop and in that time I've learnt so much, met (and continue to do so!) some great people and have even managed to go part time on the day job to spend more time on the biz! BUT I couldn't have done it without all you lovely lot and all those fab purchases you've made! So, to say thank you, I'm offering you all 15% off everything in my Etsy shop for the rest of February. Just enter the following coupon code at checkout: THANKYOUFEB15

And just in case you all had your eyes on my brooches - I have the tools for one only! So, the first one that grabs one will have the last ever brooch! 

Happy shopping and thanks again folks!

15 February 2015

What's on the cutting room table?

I do love a good custom order and when a request came through for a handkerchief with someone's name embroidered in their own hand writing, I was immediately intrigued at the challenge!

Through the post came a copy of their name in their own handwriting and I must add, 'Liz' doesn't know a thing about it or at least she wouldn't have until recently (have kept this underwraps, so as not to spoil the surprise in case she's a follower of my blog)! 

The idea came from a lovely customer who wanted to give a special handkerchief as a gift for Valentine's Day. What a wonderfully, thoughtful idea!

And this is Liz's way of signing off, with her well known squiggle underneath all hand embroidered on to one of my handmade, white cotton handkerchiefs.

I loved working on this custom order and would happily do more! So, if you would like one made with yours or someone else's name, please do get in touch!

13 February 2015

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

With Valentine's Day here tomorrow, check out the song, Love Letters by Metronomy. I love it. So, go grab your t'other half and have a little dance together :-)

10 February 2015

Tea & Craft

What is it about pretty little beverages, cakes and craft that go hand-in-hand? I can't imagine knitting my latest project without one of my favourites cups full to the brim of steaming, hot tea and a buttery tea cake.

The china cup or mug varies of course, according to the type of tea I'm drinking -  yes, I'm that precious about my tea! A mug for some strong builders tea or a pretty, china cup for my latest favourite fruit tea.

I've tried to find out if there's a bit of history behind why tea and craft seem to go together but I've struggled to find anything. I wonder if it's actually a recent cultural thing, especially with the rise of the WI and craft parties being held up and down the country? Or maybe it's simply the case that both activites are so soothing? Or or or maybe craft is thirsty work? What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

And while we're on the topic of craft and tea and you fancy a craft party, go check out Cambridge Craft Parties run by the fabulous, crafty lady that is Claire of Claireabellemakes!

Happy crafting and tea drinking folks!

6 February 2015

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

I had a dream this week that Patti Smith played the upcoming End Of The Road Festival. She's not on the bill....yet! (I'm crossing everything that my dream comes true!). I was first introduced to one of her most outstanding (in my opinion) tracks - Horses as part of her impressive album of the same name. It's absolutely gorgeous and blows my mind everytime. I can easily listen to it on repeat. Have a listen here and ooh, maybe have a little dance along?! 
Happy Friday feeling folks!

3 February 2015

Handmade Valentine's Day Gift Ideas

It's 11 days until Valentine's Day folks! And I've got four Valentine inspired, handmade gifts available in my shop, three of which are brand new*, woooo!

1. Love Heart Necklace, available in my Etsy and NOTHS shops*
2. Love Birds Handkerchief, available in my Etsy and NOTHS shops*
3. Handmade Love Heart Handkerchief, available in 4 different colours from my Etsy and NOTHS shops.
4. Message In A Bottle Necklace, available with a silver or gold plated chain from my Etsy and NOTHS shops*

Last day for orders to ensure they get to your loved one by the 14th is Tuesday 10th February, with your goodies being sent out by first class post on Wednesday afternoon. If you've got a special request, please do get in touch!

2 February 2015

Would you like to share your craft tutorial?

Would you like to share your craft DIY tutorial on my blog? 
I'm currently looking for crafty fingered folk to share a fun project. Tutorials need to be written with step-by-step instructions and include high quality photos. Check out previous tutorials here and if you're interested drop me a line via Twitter or email. Contact details can be found here.

1 February 2015

Blog Gem - Pattern Piper Crochet

Helloooo February! How did you sneak around so soon?! Well, the start of a new month can only mean one thing at Adventures & Tea Parties HQ - Blog Gem interview time! I've admired this particular blogger for some time now and so I'm super chuffed to be finding out more about her creative world! So, lets dive on in! 

Hello there! Who be the face behind the blog, Pattern Piper Crochet?

Hi, I'm Sam. I'm 35 and I like to crochet very much indeed. I live in a lovely village a couple of miles from Barnstaple in North Devon with The Mr, our 2 kids - Missy (12) and Matey (10) - and our delinquent black Labrador, Milo.
When I left college at 18 with my Law, History and Computing A Levels I got a job at the local District Council as an Admin Trainee. A few months in I got a permanent role in the Land Charges and Elections Team and then moved to the Planning Unit where I worked and studied my way through the admin and technical roles to become a Planning Officer. 13 years after starting on this career path, including several years of distance learning at Degree and Masters level, it turned out this wasn't the career for me after all and, with The Mr backing me all the way, I made the decision to leave. That was really scary as I felt like I'd grown up at the Council and thought I'd always work there. Deciding to leave a good job and good money, with no idea of what I was going to do, was absolutely petrifying but also extremely liberating.
That was in 2010. After leaving I went to work for a friend's log house company drawing plans part time and I began volunteering at my kid's school, listening to children read. Fast forward 3 years and I successfully applied for a job at the school as a one-to-one Teaching Assistant. I've been doing that for just over a year now and I really, really love it. Although, it's physically exhausting sometimes (I am getting very good at playing 'It' and I'm awesome on the monkey bars), mentally I'm in a much happier place and my work-life balance is on a far more even keel.
It was also at the time I left the Council that I began crocheting again after a break of about 15 years. The repetition and rhythm of crochet makes it a really relaxing craft - very therapeutic. A couple of years later I thought I'd try my hand at blogging and selling my makes.

What is your creative space like?
Well, I don't really have one. For a little while in the summer I hijacked The Mr's home office and turned it into my craft room. But then it turned out he really does need that space, so I handed it back over. I have retained some shelves in there though for my crochet magazine library, my sewing machine and fabric stash and my crochet hooks and yarn bowl. I have a drawer or two (ok, it's actually 3 drawers) full of yarn in the bedroom. I tend to keep projects all over the house - bedroom, dining table, kitchen. I keep them in biscuit tins and pretty wash bags and lunch bags - a bit strange, I know, but they're very practical.

If you had to take only one craft tool to a desert island, what would you choose and why?
A crochet hook would be the obvious one, but having had no access to my hooks before I did manage to successfully finger crochet a pretty awesome cowl for my sister's birthday last year. So lack of hooks shouldn't be a problem.
I think I'd go for a darning needle and yarn. Maybe I could use it to stitch together palm tree leaves to make a roof for a shelter or to create a tasteful outfit. And of course, it'd be handy for weaving in the ends on my crochet makes!

How do you work and get inspired?
I get inspired by lots of things. Pinterest, Instagram, people, seasons, yarn...... The rainbow V-stitch blanket that I made for my nephew last year was all down to a flurry of v-stitch makes on Instagram and my sister's love of bright colours.
My Vintage Sunburst Motif was purely inspired by some gorgeous delicate yarn given to me by sister and the cushions I make were inspired by a tutorial I saw on The Purl Bee for cross stitching on crochet - ingenious! The Crochet Trimmed Orders of Service I made in the summer were a request from a friend that I'd given a crochet trimmed birthday card to earlier in the year.
I have notebooks that I try to jot my ideas down in but I tend to do this after I've made something and by then I've forgotten exactly what I did and I make it differently next time. I am trying to get better at scribbling things down as and when I think of them. I get a bit obsessed with an idea and won't let it go until it's right. The motif for the Evie Star Blanket was started over several times.
I work wherever the kids are. So, usually in the lounge or kitchen, or in the car if I'm on mum's taxi duty. I'm quite a busy person, always on the go, so I tend not to actually sit down until I know I've absolutely nothing else to do. This is when I will usually crochet as once I sit down I don't actually seem to be able to stay awake unless I'm doing something.

What top tips would you give to anyone starting a blog and running an online shop?
I consider my blog to still be very much in its early stages so I feel very cheeky handing out tips, but here goes.
I know I'm repeating what a lot of Blog Gem interviewees have said before but, to be yourself really is good advice. I think it comes across if you're not. Don't try to be like anyone else. You won't be able to maintain it and readers won't be able to connect with you. I'd also say don't put too much pressure on yourself - don't commit yourself to posting weekly or monthly if it's not achievable - you'll lose your enjoyment. Also, don't be afraid to put yourself out there. I was really worried about posting my first tutorial. What if it was rubbish and didn't make sense to anyone but me? What if people think I'm trying to be something I'm not or am getting too big for my crochet boots? These are all thoughts that went through my head before I posted my Crochet Heart Tutorial, but it was actually really well received and is my most popular post, being viewed everyday since it was posted.
In terms of running an online shop, don't be afraid to ask for advice. Social Media platforms like Twitter and Instagram are a great resource and the craft community is so helpful and giving of their time. Claire of Claireabellemakes was an absolute super star when I opened my Etsy shop. I felt she really went that extra mile to help me get started and I really appreciate that.
Your Starting an Online Shop series is full of great advice and I'd encourage anyone thinking about opening an online shop to read through it. I also took part in Etsy School last year to critique and improve my shop. Both of these resources really made me think about product photos and the appearance of my shop.
What's great about an online platform such as Etsy is that you can do things at your own pace. I closed my shop over the Christmas period - "madness!" I hear you say - because I knew that as lovely as lots of cushion orders would be, we were going through a busy time at home and there's no way I'd be able to cope with it all. I've burnt out before and it's important to me that that doesn't happen again.

Is there a story behind the name 'Pattern Piper Crochet'?
Sort of. Piper is my surname so that's that bit. And to me crochet is all about PATTERN. The first thing I think of when I think of crochet is brightly coloured granny squares and the lovely patterns that they create. But we all know that crochet isn't just about granny squares and whether you are following a pattern or working freeform the end result is always a gorgeous PATTERN, either bright and bold or simple and understated.

If you could go to a Creative Blog Award dinner with any 5 people and/or fictional characters (dead or alive), who would you choose?

Assuming that yourself and Claire (claireabellemakes) are already there because it'd be a travesty if you weren't, then I love to go with Olivia Colman. She's an amazing actress and hilarious! Claudia Winkleman too. I think she'd be a giggle and we could talk Sewing Bee. Lucy from Attic24, hers is the first crochet blog I ever read when I began to crochet again and she's definitely one of my first crochet inspirations. Matt, from According to Matt. He creates the most amazing makes. His crochet wedding bouquet, crochet flower lamp and Japanese Flower Blanket each had me floored when I saw them - all stunning! I hope one day to be able to create things as beautiful.
Finally, I would absolutely have to take my Nanny. She's the reason I crochet, and to me Granny Square blankets will always be Nanny Square Blankets and beanies will always be Nanny Hats. She also loves a good party.

And finally...if you had to choose one song to represent Pattern Piper Crochet, what would it be and why?

We all have our own playlists at home so listen to lots of
different genres of music from Missy's My Chemical Romance to my soulful playlist full of songs from the Scandal TV series (love it!). So, I had to really think about this one as it's not something I've thought about before.
I asked The Mr what he thought and his immediate reaction was to start signing "if you're happy and you know it clap your hands!" At first I told him to stop being daft but then when I thought about it I do think that pretty much sums it up. If I was to think a bit more like a grown up then I'd have to say Pencil Full Of Lead by Paulo Nutini (which my sister had as her first dance song at her wedding). Life is good and I'm very content with my lot. I can be a moody madam sometimes but generally I'm a happy, cheery person and I hope that that comes across on my blog and in my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook feeds.
Thanks so much, Sam! It's been fabulous hearing all about your creative world and how you made the leap from your days working at the Council. Your blogging/shop tips are brilliant! And that's a great song to choose! It's now in my head! Thanks again for dropping by Sam! And don't forget to check out Sam's gorgeous Etsy shop!

I hope you've all enjoyed this month's Blog Gem! Stay tuned for more and catch up previous Blog Gem interviews here.

Have a great February everyone!

All of the images and interview answers are the copyright of Sam at Pattern Piper Crochet. Please do not use without seeking permission first. Thank you.


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