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HANDMADE BY CAROLINE

design, craft and daily creativity

journal

If you arrive here and think that my journal is a little out of date, do not worry, I am still very active on Facebook and Instagram… I will continue to add thoughts on this page when I can too. Thank you x


8 August 2023

A wonderful experience teaching at The Festival of Quilts 2023

Ok... I am back and have taken a breath, like all the people involved in such a great event. Firstly thank you so much to all the teams, volunteers, staff, stall holders, tutors, customers, guests, contributors, speakers… what an amazing four days! I feel honoured to have been involved and even more so on the 20th birthday of this show.

I am not a quilter, but as is the case with so many crafts, skills and teaching are transferable between them and learning from others who love to make and create is never done. There is so much to pick up and benefit from.

The attendees in my workshops for my Japanese-inspired fabric envelope with hitomezashi sashiko, were wonderful… we had 16 in each workshop and I have to admit my concern was whether I could give everyone enough attention on the day. We had 90 minutes to stitch and chat and learn from each other. I feel very pleased with how it all went. I met some super people, learnt some great tips and tricks to share next time and really felt part of the community on those days. Our environment was light, bright and with plenty of space. I even had guests from Germany and got to use my German language skills. By the end of each workshop I feel we had made good connections and I felt sad to wish people a good day and wave them off. I hope to see some completed fabric envelopes in photos, very soon.

I have tips and advice and many things to take forward to my next workshops along with a great feeling of confidence and a happy heart. Thank you Festival of Quilts x

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28 March 2023

A great experience teaching at The Stitch Festival 2023

I got back home yesterday after a great time being immersed in the environment of The Stitch Festival 2023! My mind is full of inspiration and points to note and my body is tired and weary. While all the thoughts are fresh I note them here, for you, for myself and to make best use of all that I experienced through this process. I am truely grateful and hope to join again next year if it all comes together. Along with this journal entry, do look at my Facebook, Instagram and Workshop page for more info x

Never did I think that within a year of returning to the UK, I would be accepted and preparing to teach and share time with creative people at The Stitch Festival in London. Through a wonderfully supportive contact of mine, I got in touch with the super lady who coordinates all of the (hundreds!) of workshops at this show. I knew I wanted to share my hand-sewing ideas from Japan so I submitted my hand-sewn kinchaku workshop idea that I have had so much fun sharing with my dear friends in Germany too. Deadlines were tight for me because I am just getting going and do not yet have a catalogue of fully formed workshops ready… but with an understanding attitude and a hard work from my side my proposal was accepted.

Preparations took the form of sewing and testing my workshop idea, editing its content, materials requirements, costs, time to make, ethos, details, worksheets, packaging, ease of transport and storage, level of ability suitable for the students… many things to consider.

My workshops ran on two of the four days of the show… each at 2 hours. I think the time was right - students were very cose to finishing in class, I made sure they had all the info they needed to complete at home. I also gave my contact details so that students felt comfortable to ask me any questions once they were home. It is a balance to offer something attractive and with enough of a challenge and learning to be done vs not challenging enough and with nothing new about it. I chatted with the students as we worked through and believe I pitched it about right. Perhaps another 30 mins would have been helpful but also I wanted the workshop to be a time of hand-sewing and mindfulness - breaking up a busy day for us all. This project could easily be completed on a sewing machine but that is not what I wanted to share with those that joined.

My lockable Muji suitcase on wheels might be better for these bigger shows - there is always more than you think to be taken on the day!

One kind lady suggested that online classes would be still be a good additional offering - although it is always very rewarding to be face to face and in person.

There is still a big interest in furoshiki cloth, Japanese fabric wrapping techniques… something that I am actively offering in various forms at the moment.

16 people is a lot when abilities can be so varied.

Change-over times between classes are short and you need to be super-organised.

When you are new and just starting, it a delicate balance between income, expenditure, promotion of your brand and networking opportunities.

Not much time to sell items on the day , maybe just refer to my Etsy shop and take couple of samples to show people.

People are willing to buy on the day - marked up pieces/kits to take home and stitch.

Covid to be considered ofcourse, as ever.

Take a look at the website for The Stitch Festival… I can see that the team are already in preparation for next year. A big thank you to everyone involved in whatever role, I feel very privileged to have experienced this opportunity.

https://www.thestitchfestival.co.uk/our-tutors/

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9 August 2022

15 minutes of calm

I came across the most wonderful video on YouTube and have to share it. Called ‘Handmade Green Living - Zero Waste Life’ it is one of many many great videos produced by NHK World-Japan News Channel. I love to keep up to date with things in Japan and this is one way of feeling like I am there, even if only for a few minutes at a time. Take a look if you love to sew, have a craft room full of precious fabrics and supplies or want to see the rural-side of living in Japan.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W_ZJXp5IAfg

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13 June 2022

Community project

As so many of us did too, I really enjoyed the Queen’s 70th Jubilee Celebrations. Not only was there so much to see and enjoy around the country, either in person or on tv, but each village and town close to us put in such a huge effort to create fun events over the bank holiday days. I was very lucky to be asked to be designer on the project in our village - not only giving me the chance to create work for and on behalf of the Jubilee Committee to then share with all the village, but also to get to know faces new to me in my new home. Meetings ran regularly from March through to the big day and the team of people involved worked tirelessly throughout along with help and support from more volunteers on the day, to put on a great show. Tractors, cake, tug of war and much more, it was a wonderful day that brought together so many people. It was so great to see my posters out in the wild on lamp posts, in the cricket club and on the village Facebook page! I felt proud and love how they turned out.

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9 May 2022

A passion for stitching

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Last week I returned 'home home' to meet with my Godparents. I am in regular contact with them but have not visited them at their home since my childhood. It was just as I remembered with a warm atmosphere, beautiful gardens and a particulary unique and impressive layout. I always remember thinking how special and unusual their house was as a child and it is still the same as an adult. After a very good chat and piece of cake, they went into the dining room and gathered together the wonderful stitching projects that they chose to hand over to me. My Godmother has been doing cross stitch, embroidery, tapestry and Hardanger embroidery for all the years I have known her. This last technique is new to me and I have since discovered that it is originally from the region in Norway with the same name. (I like this website for a good description of it.) She now has so many pieces both framed and on display but also catalogued and stored in drawers, that she wanted to share some with people who would appreciate and love them. I am very lucky to have adopted around 10 beautiful pieces, ranging from one that I remember distinctly from visits to their home as a child (the daffodils at the front,) through to a stunning Japanese inspired one and also the Hardanger Strawberries one. Whether they are taken with me to craft fairs and workshops as a creative discussion piece or hung on the walls of our home, I feel very lucky to be in ownership of these pieces that each took hours of dedication and enjoyment. Thank you A & L x (copyright of photo is my own, copyright of original design of each piece of stitiching is unknown.)


25 April 2022

ISTD inspiration

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I have been a member of the International Society of Typographic Designers since I was awarded membership through their annual Student Assessment Scheme. The work I completed for that project, in the last year of my degree course, required a powerful thought-process and perspective on how to approach design briefs. The wonderful education I had during my degree, alongside the project I completed for ISTD, was a very strong foundation for the way I approach things now, whether that is a graphic design brief, craft workshop idea or even a creative project in the home…being able to identify a project and its requirements, possibilities, solutions, outcomes and then choosing the most appropriate final ‘piece’ is a real skill, which grows each time you develop something from start to end. I am still learning and this will never be complete, but I feel more and more confident in myself as time goes by and projects are set, developed and ‘finished.’ I have been watching their series of online events that can be viewed through the ISTD website. If you are a creative or someone who is interested in learning new perspectives, from great speakers and industry specialists, take a look. It is really great to have access to this information and inspiration so easily. Thank you ISTD! Also note their new website design, it’s fresh and beautiful.


14 April 2022

A little time out, to wander with friends

If you follow my Instagram or Facebook, you’ll know that I took a day trip into London a couple of weeks back. We have recently moved to a new area and I discovered from a neighbour, that the local train station is a very convenient way of getting into town. It worked like a dream and meant that I didn’t need to drive further to Peterborough and take the train there and pay the expensive parking! Days like these with a bit of time dedicated to yourself, are a treat. I was lucky enough to be meeting two good friends from Germnay who were visiting London for a birthday celebration. Together we ate, chat, wandered and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the city. I took them to a few of my favourite sites including Carnaby Street, Trafalgar Square and along the river by the London Eye and the Oxo building. As is always the case, a day trip out to a new place or a place you know well but haven't visited in a long time, is very refreshing and great for the soul and creativity. I can;t wait to plan the next day out….


13 April 2022

Will you join my second workshop of this year? Hand Embroidered Cushion Cover

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Saturday 18th June 2022. My first craft workshop at Scotch Lodge Farm. In this workshop, join me to hand embroider a pretty cushion cover inspired by the British countryside. Using various embroidery stitches to recreate the forms of the leaves and flowers in delicate and realistic colourways. Discover a little about the symbolism of flowers and colour along with stories connected with plants, recipes and seasons from my time in Japan and Germany. Meadow flowers and summer herbs are a feature at Scotch Lodge Farm and great inspiration for this project. Take home your cushion for yourself, or give as a gift to a loved one. I am very excited to be bringing my craft workshops to Scotch Lodge Farm, thank you for the opportunity... it is a place with such a warm atmosphere and beautiful surroundings. Contact me directly to sign up for this workshop. See my Current Workshop Calendar for more information and to join in!


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23 March 2022

My first craft workshop confirmed for this year! Seasonal Felt Flowers - Summer Periwinkle

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Saturday 11th June 2022. My first craft workshop at www.tudorrosepatchwork.co.uk Oakley, Bedfordshire. In this workshop, join me to hand sew and form pretty and realistic felt flowers and leaves, in a choice of colourways. Using wire to add a flexible structure, you can display them in a vase of your choice OR on a real wooden branch. Discover a little about the symbolism of flowers and colour along with an insight into Japanese ikebana (traditional style of displaying flowers and plants.) Purple is strongly associated with the Royal family and this summer we can help to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee with our purple summer-flowering periwinkle. Take home your felt flowers to display, or use them in further craft projects for yourself or loved ones. I'm so excited and proud to be holding this with Tudor Rose Patchwork - thank you so much for this opportunity! Sign up now through their website or ring the shop directly. See my Current Workshop Calendar for more information and to join in!


18 March 2022

Motivation and confidence in myself, my design and my craft work

For the last 3 weeks I can say that I have been thoroughly enjoying a creative rush of ideas, confidence and a feeling of moving forward. I am so lucky to have the advice and support of so many people ranging from professional career advisors, CV writers, life coaches, small business owners, friends new and established, neighbours, family, connections on social media and job sites… the list is long! At any change in circumstances, there is always a period of feeling lost, overwhelmed, confused and sometimes quite helpless. All of these feelings have been with me for a little while, but finally I feel that I am making progress away from these negative thoughts. Even if things only come in stages, it is a proud feeling to chat with potential clients or businesses that would like to use my skills. I have notebooks piling up on my desk with suggestions of directions to explore with my graphic design work and my workshop tutor work. I hope I can keep up this energy and enjoy the fun and rewarding times that I can glimpse, coming round the corner. Like the home page of my website quote says, when you are presented with an opportunity, how will you know what you might miss, if you don't just say yes and embrace it. If you are in a situation requiring energy and persistence, keep it up! You may not know the final outcome, but it is very rewarding to be able to explore the journey as you get there. Surely it’s another part of growing and improving?

PS I often think I should change the home page of my website, but I still like the sentiment behind these words… it’s a little reminder to keep going in a direction that makes me happy and stretches me, as often as is possible.

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22 February 2022

My own new Etsy shop now open!

After a time of research, my first Etsy shop is now open! It seemed a good idea to place all my greetings cards on that platform, accessible to the globe. Take a look if you would like to shop for unique greetings cards, designed using my rubber stamp artwork, inspired by seasonal and local icons. Either click on this link to take you directly to my page on Etsy (www.etsy.com/uk/shop/atHandmadeByCaroline) or click on the tab at the top of this page named for sale and navigate through that way. Enjoy browsing and shopping! If you have any questions please let me know through the contact form on my website or the message box on my Etsy shop page. Thank you in advance.

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18 January 2022

New year, new chapter

There's been a long pause since I made my last entry in my journal here, thank you for your patience. In the time since then, we have made a move back to the UK. It is hard to summarise the huge range of emotions that go alongside such a big change, but things are starting to come together and we feel very proud and privileged to explain our story when people ask where we moved from. I am yet to figure out my craft, creative, career-plan but it will come, watch this space. We are excited to start this new chapter and see what it brings but also sad to say farewell to the previous ‘homes’ that we enjoyed so much. We are lucky to have so many kind people surrounding us, whether physically or remotely. It is people that make life so great.







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