Saturday, 18 February 2012

new header, new design, new me

Thanks to the lovely Laura my blog is looking all smart and professional. (unlike it's author unfortunately). I am only hoping my sewing and writing can live up to its grand image.

What do you think to the revamp?

Sunday, 12 February 2012

From a simple stitch

I was fortunate enough to meet the lovely Julia last week at Carluccio's in Bicester. How decadent eating brunch over coffee, midweek, whilst talking sewing. It would seem that our passion and technical know how for sewing increased after finding the wonderous blog written by the incredibly talented and now blooming mum to be Lisa Lam. I wonder how many careers / sewing enthusiasts Lisa has created?

Before I stumbled upon her blog, looking for frames to house my knitted bags and instructions on how to better them, the only thing i had ever sewed with a machine was a few cushion covers and an ill fitting pair of pyjamas. In fact at school I rejected sewing and cookery in favour of metalwork and woodwork; a rebellious act that turned out to be a tad futile. Although the teapot stand i made stood the test of time, I leave the sanding of wood to experts and much prefer perfecting a lemon drizzle cake or choosing fabric for purse-frames.

Metal bag frames, leather straps and any kind of bling for a bag are my weakness. I quickly found that they could take my meagre efforts and turn them into something professional looking. The joy of seeing a finished glasses case is still incredible.

Getting over my fear of zips was also a big stepping stone and the power of Lisa Lam and the other helpful blogs littered around cyber space are a bottomless pit of knowledge. I even summoned up the courage to make my own overnight bag last year when i was fortunate enough to go to Claridges for the weekend with Andrew. It was hilarious seeing the doorman grab my bag which stood out with it's delicious primary spottiness against a drab background of Louis Vuitton designer blandness. I am sure he enjoyed the pleasure as much as it made me giggle. Once again Lisa was to the rescue with her patterns and know-how.

All of this help over the years has given me the courage to try my own patterns which have taken the form of yoga bags (see previous posts) and handbags. I need to remember the joy of sewing and the happiness at seeing a pretty finished bag that looks flawless, when either the glue spills on the fabric when fitting into the frame or the tension on the machine plays up for no apparent reason. Sewing maybe a lovely and gorgeous art but it doesn't stop it being frustrating and annoying. At these times it is best to provide me coffee and duck!

Friday, 10 February 2012

Moving on

It is impossible to get to the age of 40, a momentous age that I will hit in May without hitting bad and emotional times on the way. How we deal with them and move on is a different thing. Do we keep them compartmentalised in our brains, shut away in a filing cabinet at the pit of our brain with a massive neon sign saying DO NOT ENTER IN ANY CIRCUMSTANCES or do we deal with them head on?

I have in the past been tempted to shut the door to the filing cabinet, turn the light off and forget it is there. It never stays locked though does it? Things manage to seep out when you least expect them to. A photo that you didnt expect to find, a song on the radio or simply too much time on your own thinking.

So what is the best way to deal with life and the crap it can throw? Is this the reason why people approaching 40 suddenly become manic about exercise as it clears the mind? Most men I know are constantly entering into longer and longer races, triathlons, mountaint climbs. Exercise makes you happy and clears the mind, having a target focusses the mind and keeps you at it. It is definitely one of the reasons i practice so much yoga. In fact yoga and regular practice got me off the magic pills prescribed by the doctor. Ashtanga yoga especially is extremely powerful. Some people eat and obviously in my years as a Weight Watchers leader I see this time and time again.

Is the best way to sit down and talk it through with someone? Do the Americans have the best idea of going to see therapists and hearing an objective view. We are all seeking something, some inner happiness, some sense of fufillment. Sometimes it is just good to let the tears flow, let the thoughts flood back in, accept them and then put them back and move on.

ANy thoughts?

While I am here have a photo of a new yoga bag I have made complete with iphone pocket and water bottle pocket

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Behold the Turtle

Behold the turtle, he only progresses when he sticks his neck out
I heard this quote a couple of weeks ago and it absolutely sums up how I feel about changes I am making to my life right now. I thought i would share.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Not fans

My poor chickens are not fans of snow it would seem.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Alone in the playground

Trying to resurrect a blog is a bit like being away from school as an eight year old for a very long time and then suddenly reappearing, only to find that everyone has forgotten you and made new friends. Or if you move away from an area and promise to others as well as yourself that yes, you will keep in touch and yes, obviously you will remain close friends even though 200 miles separate you. Two years later you stumble across their name in your address book whilst writing Christmas cards and it actually takes you 5 minutes to remember who they are and when you phone, surnames are required. All of the lovely bloggers and crafters who I became close to cyberly before will now not remember who I am and really why should they? 
So, a lot of effort needs to be put in by myself too reacquaint myself with the fantastic crafters out there and hopefully some yoga made people as well. I'm not a shy type so I am happy to put myself out there, I will return to my old chat up line that saw me in good stead through my early twenties.

"Hello, my name is Joanna". Simple but effective.

I am just in from yoga, I practice Ashtanga Yoga and although I have practiced yoga on a regular basis for 4 years (although dabbled since I was 23) I started a regular Ashtanga practice a year ago and quite frankly I have never looked back. Ashtanga is a set sequence of postures that link one from the other. IT takes me 90 minutes to get through the practice and believe me you sweat, sweat, sweat. So twice, sometimes three times a week I take myself over to BAYoga to do my stuff on the mat. It is a Mysore style practice and leads you to places within your mind and body that are incredibly powerful. It works as a moving meditation and calms my chaotic brain for that 90 minutes and leaves me buzzing afterwards. Physically it teaches you that things are possible if you practice and perservere; a hard lesson as an adult but one that we accept as a child. If you have ever watched a toddler learn to walk, they constantly fall over but they never give up. I have yet to see a toddler sit down and go "sod that for a laugh, I'm just going to stick with crawling." Time and time again they get and have another go 

When you start the Ashtanga practice some of the postures just seem impossible and at first they are out of your reach but each practice brings you closer and closer to having the necessary strength and flexibility.

One of the items required for a yoga practice is a mat, and what better thing to carry a mat around in than a yoga bag. Can you see where I am going with this? Yoga bags made by me. Marvellous.

Last week I took myself off to an area in Luton called Bury Park and stocked up on gorgeous sari fabrics. I will also be getting some stronger home decor fabrics for a different range. My idea is to stock them in my folksy shop but also to stock them at the studio. The designs I have floating through my head are varied and this is the first one I have trialled. The fabric is just amazing. My personal home made yoga bag is really functional and has been going for a couple of years and has stood up to being lugged around everywhere but is slightly too small and the mat has to be rolled up incredibly tightly. So, the future designs will be slightly roomier.
modelled by the marvellous Rachel


I have made two sales today as well which is also incredibly exciting so I foresee busy sewing times ahead. I  Have you got any exciting plans?