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18 August 2017

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

Dachshund key ring by Adventures & Tea Parties. Great dog themed key chain for dog lovers and sausage dog owners. Available at Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/Adventuresteaparties?section_id=18554798

Like the weather today (one minute glorious sunshine, the next minute torrential downpours and cracking thunder enough to make your heart jump), this week has been full of extremes. But, as I like to do every Friday, I'm going to focus on the positives from the week. The reason I do this? Well, it's oh so easy to focus on the negative and it's definitely something us humans tend to do, a bad default really. So, I like to end the week on a positive, putting myself in a happy frame of mind for the weekend ahead. I then like to pick out a selection of songs that I've either heard on the radio this week or choose favourites that always make me want to get up and dance my way in to the weekend.

Here are my five positives from the week:

Happy #1 / I've become completely and utterly gripped on the latest Paul Auster novel (a favourite author of mine) and I got to see old family friends who I haven't seen in five years! Lots of catching up was done, biscuits were eaten, several coffees were had and photos, of us all together, were taken. Happy times :)

Happy #2 / Ordered delicious yarn from Wool and the Gang for Christmas knitting projects. You can never be too early starting winter knitting projects, right?

Happy #3 / I figured out two new pin designs to join the #ColourMyEveryDay pin in my Etsy shop, yay! 

Happy #4 / Saw a sample of my latest design being expertly cut and printed by Bespoke Laser UK and oooh, I can't wait to show you all!

Happy #5 / My new fabric selections arrived in the post, ready for me to make new shop accessories this weekend. Head to my IG Stories if you fancy a sneak peek at them!

And here are five songs to kick start the weekend with :)

Ka-Ding-Dong by Captain & Tennille
Burning Down The House by Talking Heads
Let's All Go To The Bar by Deertick
Living on a Thin Line by The Kinks
Proud Mary (Rolling on the river) by Tina Turner

Happy Friday my lovelies, have a fab weekend!

14 August 2017

Somerset Etsy Team Photowalk

Somerset Etsy Team Photowalk organised by Joanna Payne and Joanne Hawker. Blog post all about the event, with lots of photos.

On Saturday I went on the Somerset Etsy Team Photowalk around the beautiful city of Wells, organised by myself and the fabulous Joanne Hawker. For those of you less familiar with a photowalk, it's basically a walk around a planned route where you have an opportunity to let the photographer or serial iPhone picture taker in you, take photos of absolutely anything that grabs your fancy. And the most wonderful thing of all? Everyone else in the group is doing the same thing, so you don't have to tell your mates you'll catch them up or get huffed at for continually taking photos. You are free to snap away! 

Somerset Etsy Team Photowalk organised by Joanna Payne and Joanne Hawker. Blog post all about the event, with lots of photos.

I had been on two photowalks previously to this, one up in Bristol and the second for the Blogtacular conference (head here to see the pics) and I loved them so much I couldn't believe I hadn't been on one sooner! What could be better then walking around a beautiful place with a friendly bunch of people who all want to do the same thing as you - take photos and chat. It's a truly wonderful experience and a great way to get to know people in a less formal capacity. And as someone who goes into a cold sweat doing formal introductions, this is perfect for me.

Somerset Etsy Team Photowalk organised by Joanna Payne and Joanne Hawker. Blog post all about the event, with lots of photos.

Organising a photowalk was, of course, a different kettle of fish to simply going on one. Figuring out the destination and the route, then crossing everything that people will turn up for it, certainly takes some prep but it's well worth it. If you're thinking of organising a walk, make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to decide on a route and advertise it. Don't forget to have a back up plan too if the weather is bad or make a feature of the rain by encouraging everyone to bring fun umbrellas and wear bright wellies. 

Somerset Etsy Team Photowalk organised by Joanna Payne and Joanne Hawker. Blog post all about the event, with lots of photos.

Somerset Etsy Team Photowalk organised by Joanna Payne and Joanne Hawker. Blog post all about the event, with lots of photos.

Thankfully on Saturday the rain stayed away and we spent several fun hours walking around the Bishop's Palace in Wells before the sun finally caught up. We also couldn't resist the car boot sale that was on, each of us having no problem buying something! We ended the walk at a gorgeous cafe called the Square Edge, which not only serves delicious food and drinks but it is a very photogenic instaworthy place, bursting with old artefacts; definitely a place to return to.

Somerset Etsy Team Photowalk organised by Joanna Payne and Joanne Hawker. Blog post all about the event, with lots of photos.

Somerset Etsy Team Photowalk organised by Joanna Payne and Joanne Hawker. Blog post all about the event, with lots of photos.

On Saturday we weren't the only group going on a photowalk, lots of other Etsy regional groups were too with each team tagging their photos with #EtsyPhotowalk. So, if you fancy seeing where each group went, head over to Instagram and search the #EtsyPhotowalk feed for all the fab photos! And if you fancy seeing more pics from our Somerset Etsy Team photowalk, head over to our Instagram page where we will be sharing more pics over the coming weeks and have a look through the #SomersetEtsyTeam feed too!

Somerset Etsy Team Photowalk organised by Joanna Payne and Joanne Hawker. Blog post all about the event, with lots of photos.

Have you been on a photowalk recently? Where did you go and what did you love about it? I'm now itching to both go on and organise another one!

11 August 2017

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

Red polka dot dog bow tie designed by Joanna Payne at Adventures & Tea Parties

Coooeeeee, that was a week and half! Way too much stuff to deal with than is healthy but it's Friday evening and I have the Somerset Etsy Photowalk to look forward to tomorrow, now that makes me happy. If you want to see where we're going on the photowalk (currently, it's TOP SECRET!), check out my Instagram Story feed tomorrow morning from 10am onwards!

Now as it's Friday that means two things: picking out five positive things that happened this week and sharing some songs with you all that made me smile, laugh, sing, and dance to this week.

Happy # 1 / The arrival of my latest designs, cut to perfection by Bespoke Laser, who are a dream company to work with. Not only are their laser cutting skills top notch but their customer service, professionalism and turn around is what dreams are made of.

Happy # 2 / This guy keeping me company in the studio. He may look grumpy but he actually has a heart of gold.

Happy # 3 / Eating pink soup with potato croutons. It is heaven in a bowl.

Happy # 4 / My blissful end of the working day walk, where I usually see the odd dog walker but on this walk the entire town seemed to be out. It was like Piccadilly circus and that made me giggle. I'd turn a corner, take a few steps and there would be someone else. I bumped into three lots of neighbours too. I also ate a load of blackberries straight from the bush that someone had cleared missed; they were yummy.

Happy # 5 / My dearest, most wonderful friends.

And five songs...

TCR by Sleaford Mods
Wow by Beck
(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party) by Beastie Boys
A Far L' Amore Comincia Tu by Raffaella Carra
Put Your Money On Me by Arcade Fire

Happy Friday everyone, have a fab weekend!

4 August 2017

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

Street art from Shoreditch / Brick Lane, London. Photo taken by Joanna Payne, designer maker and creative freelance blogger at Adventures & Tea Parties

It has been rain central here in Somerset this week. Non stop in fact, which has meant hardly any walking for me but I'm hoping to get out this weekend, after I've checked out the latest exhibition at Ace Arts, of course. They have a pop up book themed exhibition, which I had a sneaky look at on Thursday but I'm going to immerse myself in it this weekend, heaven!

I hope you all had a good week? Any positive highlights? Here are my five happy things from the week.

Happy #1 / Saw my creative tribe at the Somerset Etsy Team meet up, which was fab. We had a really good chat about Pinterest. Head over here if you want to see what I've been pinning lately.

Happy #2 / Learnt how to do a provisional cast on in knitting (thank you YouTube!), so that I could start knitting a secret present for a friend :)

Happy #3 / Spent the majority of the week listening to TED talks while working. I learnt SO much and have come away from them feeling incredibly inspired and motivated. The people that stand up and do those talks are truly amazing and I cannot recommend listening to them enough. Click here and browse the topics or just pick something at random; seriously you won't be disappointed.

Happy #4 / Was recommended the Deliciously Ella cookbook by Louise Wright (FAB illustrator, who I interviewed here!), which resulted in a lovely chat about food and further lead to me going to the library and borrowing the cook book. Plan this weekend is to choose one yummy recipe to try out, yay!

Happy #5 / Nearly finished my first attempt at the Tilly & the Button's Cleo dress pattern. If you fancy a look see, head to my Instagram to see a pic of how far I got. I'm planning to take it in this weekend as it's a little big and then I'm super keen to make another one. Such a great pattern, which I can highly recommend if you're thinking of giving it a go! 

And, so that I don't break a habit of the blog, here are some songs that I had to play on repeat this week when I heard them on 6 Music. Pop them on, turn them up and have a dance!

Frontline by The Selecter
Gimme Shelter by Merry Clayton
If Before I Wake by The Districts
Nouveau Western bt MC Solaar
Dance To The Music by Sly & The Family Stone

Happy Friday everyone, have a fab weekend!

3 August 2017

Five minutes with Fairy Tale Collars

Fairy Tale Collars - UK indie brand. Interview with the designer/maker available at creative blog, Simple Stylish Makes.

Over on the Simple Stylish Makes I'm chatting with the absolutely, incredible designer/maker behind indie brand, Fairy Tale Collars. Her designs are totally unique, fun, colourful and make me feel oh so happy when I look at them. So get yourself over to the Simple Stylish Makes blog to read all about her creative inspiration and process and then go give her a follow on Instagram because it's a super colourful feed and definitely one of my favourite accounts to follow! 

2 August 2017

Gardening jobs for August

Gardening jobs for August. Some key jobs you can do in the garden this August. Article and image by Joanna Payne of Adventures & Tea Parties and written for Simple Stylish Makes

For all my green fingered friends, I'm sharing some gardening jobs you can do this August over on the Simple Stylish Makes blog. Click here to read more, then go put your wellies on and go garden!

1 August 2017

Meet the local artist - Victoria Fitton

I first came across Victoria Fitton this year via Instagram where her illustrations completely stood out to me. The range of colours, the soft and playful style, the gentle shapes, the beautiful patterns and the gorgeous themes of nature throughout. Victoria's style of illustration is the type that I cannot stop looking at and I know that when I seek it out, I'll instantly feel happy. And this extremely talented illustrator is local to me in beautiful Somerset, so I've been itching to learn more about Victoria and her work. So, let' find out!

Victoria Fitton, Somerset Illustrator. Interview feature at Adventures & Tea Parties creative lifestyle blog.

Hi there, can you tell my blog readers a little bit about yourself?
Hi there. I am a freelance UK based illustrator/designer. I live on a working farm in Somerset with my husband, 3 lively children, Willow the dog, 3 cats and many cows! I LOVE all that is farm life, but if I am not running around after cows or children, you will find me drawing, painting, snipping and sticking in my studio - my proper happy place!

Victoria Fitton, Somerset Illustrator. Interview feature at Adventures & Tea Parties creative lifestyle blog.

What kind of art do you do?
My work is typically stylised, nature inspired design and pattern, produced for the surface pattern industry. I enjoy using a mixture of mediums; inks, pens, collage with the overall aesthetic being hand rendered. I then clean up and develop further using Photoshop.

Victoria Fitton, Somerset Illustrator. Interview feature at Adventures & Tea Parties creative lifestyle blog.

How do you work and get inspired?
Inspiration is pretty easy to find and comes essentially from being happy inside. The happier I am, the more creative I am. Having said that, there are lots of little daily rituals for me, which rarely fail to get the creative juices flowing. First thing each morning at around 6am I take Willow out. One of our first jobs is to check that all of our cows and calves are happy and where they should be. Once we are satisfied all is well, we can really stretch our legs and soak up all that is around us. I am constantly looking at leaves and birds, collecting feathers, or bits of twig, anything that catches my eye as we walk. I often press flowers and leaves and use them to draw or print from. 

On return from our walk it's a mad dash to get everyone ready for school. Then once the school run is done, I treat myself to a cup of tea and a chill out for 20-30 min where I look at a couple of blogs, which I follow and a quick scan of Instagram or Pinterest. There are so many wonderful artists and designers out there who spur me on to do better and better. Pretty much as the last drop of tea hits my lips, I am ready to 'rock n roll' with whatever I have on the go at the time!

Victoria Fitton, Somerset Illustrator. Interview feature at Adventures & Tea Parties creative lifestyle blog.

What do you love about art?
I believe people should have beautiful things around them in their everyday lives, be it a dreamy hand thrown mug (I do have a seriously good collection of these), a print in a frame, a gorgeous applique quilt, or a floral design on a biscuit tin. All of these things just make life that little bit better! And I love the feeling I get from making art. I only hope that in some way, that feeling shines through in what ever I am making.

What's the art scene like in Somerset?
So alive and kicking! Right around the corner from me in Glastonbury, we have The Red Brick Building, an ex-factory site which has been rejuvenated by the community and hosts an ever changing array of art exhibitions, work shops, live music and seriously yummy lunches! 

Annually, we are lucky to have the Somerset Arts Week; an open studio event for local artists, designers and craftspeople, which invites the public to pop along and see their work. With maps provided and sign posted, it's the perfect opportunity to discover someone new.

Obviously there's masses more I could talk about, but a final little mention must go to The Frome Independant Street Market; a monthly event where the high street in Frome is shut off and taken over with stalls from local designers, producers and crafts people alike. Such a good day out!

Victoria Fitton, Somerset Illustrator. Interview feature at Adventures & Tea Parties creative lifestyle blog.

If you had to take only one art tool to a desert island, what would you choose and why?
A pot of something would be great. Maybe ink. Maybe paint. Then I would find lots of different things, twigs and such like to use as mark making tools! Only this week, after realising that my dip pen had seen better days, I decided to use a cocktail stick to draw with. Who knew it could be so good? Where there's a will there's a way! 

If you could go to an Art Award evening with any 5 people (dead or alive, real or fictional), who would you choose?
I would be delighted to attend an award evening with Cath Kidston, Orla Kiely, Anna Bond, and Ophelia Pang, as with so much creative wowness between them, some is bound to ooze my way... and oh erm, Gerard Butler, as I am sure he would be a welcome addition to the group!

Thank you so much Victoria! It's been truly wonderful hearing all about you, your work, how you get inspired and what the art scene is like in Somerset. Keep up the beautiful work!

If you'd like to learn more about Victoria and see her work, head over to her website and don't forget to check out her Instagram page too, which is gorgeous! For previous 'Meet the local artist' features, click here and scroll away to your heart's delight!

28 July 2017

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

I have this thing with doors - photo by Joanna Payne, creative lifestyle blogger from Adventures & Tea Parties.

How has your week been? What was the best thing that happened? I've got into a bit of a routine on a Friday now. I look back at the working week and write down five good things that happened. It helps me focus on the positive, instead of worrying about things that I can't change or things that haven't even happened. By writing them down and sharing on the blog, I get myself into a positive mindset for the weekend. So, here are my five.

Happy #1 / Laughing my way through the entire week with the lovely Jenn from Somerset Cool about #fieldclub. What is 'field club'? Well, it's taking too many pictures of beautiful looking Somerset fields and sharing them with each other because seriously, the fields are stunning down here. Oh and I don't think I'll ever stop referring to Somerset as 'down here' because the northerner in me will never leave, ha-ha!

Happy #2 / The arrival of my first ever soft enamel pin design, woohoo! Click here to have a look at it in all its colourful glory and oooooh, thank you all SO MUCH for the orders AND the fab pictures you've been sharing of your #ColourMyEveryDay pins!

Happy #3 / Lots of happy post in the form of fabric to make several dresses from and lots of silly, glittery and fun paraphernalia for an up-and-coming music festival I'm going to, soooooo excited! I've even invested in a collapsable little chair that fits in my rucksack, so I can sit down to drink my festival ale this year, ha-ha!

Flat lay photo by Joanna Payne, creative lifestyle blogger at Adventures & Tea Parties

Happy #4 / Doing a dry run (quite literally as it didn't rain that day - this week has been full on rain and sunshine down here) of the Somerset Etsy Team Photowalk that myself and the lovely team captain, Joanne Hawker are running for the group. We're basically going to go on a walk, chat and take pictures. What could be better than that? I'm very happy Photowalks are thing now; I think they're ace!

Happy #5 / Becoming friends with a lovely neighbour who is rallying around to get traffic calming measures brought to our town, especially along the road we all live on. People seriously drive like loons through here and it's very flipping scary. Anyway, if he hadn't knocked on the door to ask if Mum and I fancied signing the petition, then we might never have met him and discovered he has the same political views. He is doing such amazing work fighting to get something done about the road and it feels like everyone is with him and that something will get done. How incredible is that?! Someone fighting for what they and the community believe should happen. I've felt so down beat about politics in recent years and people not fighting for change because it never goes anywhere but he made me feel better about standing up for your rights again. Power to the people!

What are your five happy things that happened this week? Seriously, go grab a bit of paper and write them down. You'll view your week in a totally new light and feel great about yourself as you head into the weekend. And if you need an extra boost or maybe you just want to jump around because you already feel great, then here are five songs to sing your heart out too and dance around like you just don't care. So, go turn the volume up and wrap your ears around these!

Get It On by T. Rex
Let's Work Together by Canned Heat
Ready to Go by Republica
Common People by Pulp
Get Up, Get Into It and Get Involved by James Brown

Happy Friday everyone, have a fab weekend! And if you want more positivity and happy vibes, check out my previous weekly posts here.

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


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