Open-top bus celebrations…

Well, not quite… but, I am really delighted to let you all know that Very Berry Handmade was voted Best Quilt Blog in the 2017 British Craft Awards. Thanks so so much to everyone who voted for me, I was absolutely delighted to be nominated in such brilliant company in the first place, but to come out as the winner was something else entirely. Thanks so much to all of you for your support – you are all so fabulous!

Sadly, I couldn’t get to the awards ceremony, but lovely Sarah, who is the owner of my local fabric shop Hollies Haberdashery¬†was off the CHSI Stitches Show, where the ceremony was held, and very kindly picked up the award (and a bottle of fizz – yay!) for me. Here’s my very fancy award, in pride of place down at my studio at ACAVA Studios Spode.


And here’s me – I just will not be parted from my trophy ūüėČ


Thanks to Immediate Media, and to all of you, for this lovely bit of recognition, it means an awful lot.

Making Space and Decluttering- part 1

Like most sewers, I do a self-deprecating routine about the terrifying extent of my fabric stash on a regular basis. But, much as I joke, the clutter of fabric, trims, habdash, books and the rest, really does cause me quite a bit of anxiety¬†and frustration. Here’s¬†why:

  • I feel guilty that there is stuff there that I *know* I will never use – why did I buy it? I am such an idiot and so wasteful… blah blah blah (I am specialist at negative self-talk – something else I am working on this year…)
  • I don’t have the space to store loads of stuff I will never get round to using
  • It’s always messy and unmanageable – I am not great at working in untidy surroundings – I find it distracting
  • I can’t find the lovely inspirational fabrics, haberdashery and trims that are definitely there, in amongst all the rest

All of this clutter-related negativity really gets me down.¬†So, working towards my goal of moving forward in the¬†positive, unapologetic pursuit of creativity this year, I’ve given myself permission to spend some money on storage, and I’ve started a big declutter.

Here are some of my larger fabric scraps – mostly sorted by colour, although the top box here is for larger pieces of linen prints. I was delighted to discover that 2 9L Really Useful Boxes fit nicely on my IKEA Kallax shelving.

I started yesterday, working through the contents of one of my big storage baskets. At first I hummed and hawed, dithering about how to sort things in a way that made most sense, and, in a weak moment, almost decided to put it all away again. But, spurred on by spotting lovely fabrics amongst the clutter, rendered unusable by my inability to find them, I reminded myself that done is better good (no, it really is), and got started.

Low volume scraps stored with linen prints, and blues and greens sorted together. I may need to get a few more boxes…!

As I worked through the fabrics, I started to develop a system. I haven’t read Marie KondŇć’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, but I have friends who are very deeply enthusiastic about it, so I know all about her idea of only keeping the things that bring you joy. Although I wouldn’t necessarily choose to apply this idea to the contents of my garage (the car would definitely have to go, and that could be a problem), I really see the value when it comes to sorting through the materials I use for my creative work.

I have been building up a stash of magazines, fabrics, haberdashery, notions and books relating to sewing, crochet and textiles for over ten years now, and a fair proportion of what I have relates to other enthusiasms and interests. They feel irrelevant to me as I move forward, so I am putting them to one side, enthusiastically, choosing to give them away to people who will be inspired by them anew. Hopefully they will bring joy to other people, even though they don’t do it for me any more.

As I was working, I thought more about creativity and how it works for me. The more I read and research, the more I am coming to see that creativity is born out of curiosity – a spirit of ‘what if?’. I have thought of this, with typical negativity, as my butterfly mind, but actually, it’s about me pursuing ideas with interested enthusiasm – and sometimes these ideas (which often involve acquiring materials to work with) go somewhere, sometimes they don’t. There are many failures along the way, and that’s ok, I’m learning all the time.

Tiny scraps that I am going to sort into low volume and high volume for starters. I might sub-divide by colour too at some stage, but done REALLY IS better than good.

So some of the stashed away materials are reminders of those old ideas that didn’t work out and it’s good to get rid of them and just move on. But sometimes, as I work through the boxes and baskets, I find stuff that reminds me of ideas that I wanted to pursue, but didn’t because I didn’t have time. Or I find materials that could be re-purposed, or half-made pieces that could be used in other ways. I find it is really important to have a notebook to hand, to record the ideas as I work.

So I’m going back into the studio tomorrow to do some more sorting. Although I’m not exactly enjoying the process, I am beginning to feel a sense of freedom and clarity that will hopefully increase as I get closer to the top (bottom?) of the fabric mountain.¬†Keep checking back because I’m hopefully going to sort out some fabrics to give away over the next few weeks, in the hopes that dispersing my collection can bring some inspiration elsewhere.


Handmade with love

Not a resolution, but one of my hopes for 2017, was to give myself the time to make more gifts for friends and family  Рalthough only to people who will appreciate them..!

Looking back over the last couple of weeks I seem to have been doing really well so far (perhaps I will pretend it was a resolution). As I haven’t blogged about¬†many finishes so far this year, it seemed appropriate to share a few photos of these gifts, handmade with love, on Valentine’s Day.

Mini-hoop for friends who are having  hard time just now. Nano Iro fabric from years ago, with silver embroidered stars and a bit of appliqué.
A crochet hook pouch for a good friend who’s birthday I missed last year. Featuring fabrics by Melody Miller (View Finder) and Sarah Watts (Tokyo Train Ride) for Cotton+Steel.
A pencil case for a very generous internet friend I have known for 12 years, and met for the first time last summer! Drawn a total blank with the text fabric, but the cute houses are from Sevenberry’s Go Go Vacation collection.
A brooch, made for my sister. I used beautiful wool fabrics from Beyond Measure.

Valentine’s Day is a bit daft really isn’t it, with it’s focus on romance… when that’s such a small aspect of our human relationships. But I will be subversive, and use it as an opportunity to send much love to all of you out there, with thanks for your kindnesses and thoughtful words throughout the year. I am choosing to¬†celebrate love, friendship and community today, so here’s to you all – *raises a big cup of tea* – you’re all fabulous..!