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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


7 July 2017

#ColourMyEveryDay Enamel Pin

#ColourMyEveryDay Instagram Challenge soft enamel pin by Adventures & Tea Parties

I have just this minute launched my first ever enamel pin, woohoo! It's totally inspired by the #ColourMyEveryDay Instagram challenge and is available to pre-order over in my Etsy shop. All orders will be sent out in approximately 2.5 - 3 weeks time.

The pin is gold plated soft enamel with a metal butterfly clutch on the back and it has pretty gold borders around the cloud, rainbow and #ColourMyEveryDay letters. I decided to design the rainbow in the colours I used for the challenge - pink, orange, yellow, green and blue.


I've also designed a colourful card to attach the pin to because I don't know about you, but I love the cards pins come with just as much as the pins themselves! I wonder if the cards will be a collector's item like cigarette cards are now? 

Anyway, I hope you all like it! Have a super colourful weekend everyone!

Toot toot!

3 July 2017

Five minutes with designer/maker, Sweetiepips

Five minutes with designer/maker Sweetiepips. Interview by Adventures & Tea Parties available on the Simple Stylish Makes blog.


Head over to the Simple Stylish Makes blog where I'm chatting with the most incredible designer/maker, Sweetiepips who creates gorgeous jewellery like this! I want to buy her entire shop, love it!


1 July 2017

Meet the local artist - Louise Wright

I first came across Louise Wright on Instagram - my go to social media platform for all things visually inspiring. Her illustrations are not only beautiful but they're playful, colourful, and have such a story-like feel to them that I just had to find more about Louise and her work. Read on to find out how Louise gets inspired and what one tool she would take to a desert island...

Louise Wright Illustrator - interview feature on Adventures & Tea Parties' blog

Hi there, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hi I’m Louise! I’m an illustrator based in Leek, Staffordshire and I have 2 Doggos, so when I’m not at work I’m usually out and about in the countryside!

 
What kind of art do you do? 
I create quite quirky illustrations that are mainly used in Children's publishing. I do also create for licensing and my own range of cards and prints too. My favourite things to draw are animals. In fact, I’m currently just over half way through a 100 day project on Instagram where I’m painting a bird a day.
Louise Wright Illustrator - interview feature on Adventures & Tea Parties' blog
 
How do you work and get inspired? 
I usually start my work either in my sketchbook or by grabbing some cheap paper out of the printer and creating pencil roughs, just really to get ideas down without being precious. Then, once I have a sketch I’m happy with, I will usually scan it in and paint it in photoshop using my Cintiq. Lately, I’ve been needing to get away from the screen a bit more so I will sometimes just create some little fun bits for using gouache (I’ve done this with quite a few of my birds).

Most things around me inspire me. When we walk the dogs we are surrounded by nature and I see the birds flitting around and all the plants and flowers, but if it does start to run a little dry I find a change of scenery or a day out does wonders for my creativity.

Louise Wright Illustrator - interview feature on Adventures & Tea Parties' blog

 
What do you love about art? 
I love how absorbing it is. When I get really into a piece that I’m working on I can pop an e-book on and just spend my afternoon painting and those are the magic moments I suppose. I can’t believe that this is my job sometimes!

Louise Wright Illustrator - interview feature on Adventures & Tea Parties' blog
 

What's the art scene like in Leek?  
I haven’t lived in Leek too long so I’m still finding my feet but it seems very alive and vibrant. There is an art college here, an arts centre with artists’ studios and the town centre is full of independent shops. We also have an art market once a month and so, although it’s only a small place, we have a fair bit going on!

Louise Wright Illustrator - interview feature on Adventures & Tea Parties' blog
 

If you had to take only one art tool to a desert island, what would you choose and why? 
Oh god! I would hate to actually do this as I’m one of those people who packs loads of stuff ‘just in case’ and then never uses it! I would take my gouache paints because I could use some practice, and they are so versatile. I could just paint on rocks and trees.

Louise Wright Illustrator - interview feature on Adventures & Tea Parties' blog
 

If you could go to an Art Award Evening with any 5 people (dead or alive, real or fictional), who would you choose?  
Oliver Jeffers, Alexis Deacon, Beatrix Potter, Quentin Blake and David Roberts……I’m sure we’d have a great time!

Thank you so much Louise! It's an absolute treat hearing all about your artistic world. Keep up the incredible work!


I hope you've all enjoyed reading about how Louise works and gets inspired. Don't forget to check out her beautiful website and find her on Instagram, TwitterFacebook and Pinterest too. If you'd like to discover more artists, click here and scroll away!


Thanks for reading!

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