Friday, 5 June 2020

Staying At Home

I'm generally a homebody, happy to stay at home for long periods of time and busy myself with various projects. My family are hoarders (sorry Mum but we are). Hoarders of activities, crafts, projects, knowledge, interests. We have a love of music, history, archaeology, arts, crafts, textiles, computers, games, fossils, sports....and this manifests in our house in the form of 'stuff'. It's a lived in house and, whilst not necessarily messy, we don't have enough proper storage for it all so generally we end up with piles or corners of interests which get moved around to suit what's going on in the house.
That being said, I'm also a country girl who relishes being outdoors in different places. I love travelling, finding new views and spotting startled wildlife who scurry away as I approach. I love breathing in the smell of the sea and staring out at all that blue, hunting for sea glass as the sand squidges and crunches between my toes.
All in all, being in lockdown due to Covid-19 hasn't been that hard - not as hard for us as it has been for others. Our family have been safe and we've closeted ourselves away in our little home bubble, working on new routines and being very thankful for our house of 'stuff'. However, I must admit, now it's starting to grate on me, the four walls are closing in and I catch myself being unfairly irritable to other members of the household but not able to hold the irritation and frustration in.

Considering that we haven't really gone anywhere for the last 10 weeks (? I think it's 10 - it all blurs together), a lot has happened. I've crossed off so much on my calendar, but added new things too.

❤️ We've had two babies born; one to my sister (I'm an Auntie for the first time!!) and one to a close friend. The Mother has become a virtual nanny, offering nanny-ish advice via FaceTime at all hours of the day and night.
❤️ We now have a very specific Friday afternoon routine - homemade pizza (an absolute must, Friday night is Pizza night and that's that!) followed by a Zoom quiz with my lovely friends, offering a much needed giggle and escape, even if it is whilst sitting on my bed rather than in a pub jostling around the slightly sticky table.
❤️ Saturday night is a family Zoom quiz, which started as a way of demonstrating the wonders of Zoom to some slightly un-educated family members - it seems to have stuck.
❤️ We've had three birthdays in this house (including the cat's) which required homemade cake and presents provided by Amazon and Etsy. One had a surprise Zoom party with his friends, with some highly dodgy singing over the inter-waves.

I think part of our luck and ability to cope with the situation is down to having two key-workers who have a Monday-Friday job working from home. There is still a routine for them. Dad organises traffic lights and various aspects of roads, crossings and bus lanes etc so he has been continuing to develop and improve roadways whilst they are mostly empty. He gets up at the same time as usual as if he were off on his 50 minute commute, made quicker by only having to go down the stairs, and finds it easier to get remote access to his office before the rest of the office world wakes up and clogs up the system.
My lovely other half, Reece, gets up at 7.30am for a shower which means that I get a half hour lie in before I also get up to sort out our breakfast at 8am. He's a computer technician, helping the nation to do what Dad now does, work from home and operate their various computers, laptops, technical devices and phones in perfect harmony.
With one home-worker taking over the kitchen table and the other on a desk in the sitting room, the rest of us have to be as quiet as mice so that we don't interupt Zoom meetings or client phone calls and the space is very limited with five of us knocking around.

The garden is a good place to escape to, and is a project that Dad has been working on with great gusto! We now have a vegetable patch at the bottom of the garden, it having been rescued from the patch of weeds and grasses, and thanks to home deliveries of compost the plants are happier than even to be attended to so regularly. I've mentioned before about how the colour of a garden changes at the beginning of the year starting with yellow (Daffodils and Primroses), on to blue (Forget-Me-Knots and Bluebells) and currently we are on purple (Aliums, Clematis, Foxgloves, Cat Mint and Chives.)

The weather has helped as well, beautiful sunshine is so much more pleasing than endless days of rain.

I started out lockdown with great gusto, using the time well to work on projects that had been overlooked or pushed to one side, working on and developing new kits, making up more of those that sold out and generally being amazed at the amount of stationery I was getting through posting out the orders that were flooding in! I will always be very grateful for those orders as they kept me, and The Mother with her thread card making, very busy in those early weeks and fairly consistently since.
I have started redeveloping the ladybird kit originally designed for Saira at the-stitchery but I must admit I am flagging and feeling less motivated to continue with it.
I find myself saying that "tomorrow I will do this or that" and by the time tomorrow comes, the feeling of 'bleurgh' or 'meh' descends and I can't make myself do whatever it was, finding ways to procrastinate until it's too late to start something new, or would be inconvenient to the household to get that particular project out.
Much as I love having Dotty Textiles and the Stitchscape business, I haven't been able to escape it for over two months. I won't show you photos of our sitting room or my bedroom as The Mother would not be pleased (I refer to you the first paragraph of this post) but I am quite literally living, eating, sleeping, dreaming in a quagmire of Stitchscape paraphernalia! It's all been brought home from the studio and there is no way to switch it off. I fear a little resentment is starting to creep in. I am seriously considering throwing a blanket over the boxes and having a little holiday from it all to try and get my mojo back.

I think I am more worried now about what's going to happen in the future than when lockdown started. You knew where you were with the 'stay at home' instruction. Now it's all becoming a little hazy - stay at home, but not if you have to work, but if you can then do. If you have to use public transport to get to work (I do, three days a week usually) then don't go to work, but if you do get on a bus then you must wear a mask, but ideally don't get on in the first place.
I am currently still furloughed and my bosses don't seem to know when they will want me back in - it depends greatly on what happens when the shops open I think. I imagine they are hoping for a rush of customers sweeping in and ransacking the shelves after so many weeks of not being able to access half of the stuff, but I really doubt that will be the case. People are so wary.
Well, most people are. I struggle to avoid some people on my walks to the Post Office - they don't care whether they are within the recommended meterage of you and are too thoughtless to think about how you may feel about the situation. It's hard to avoid these people and we can no longer leap nobly into the roads to keep distance from them because the traffic is nearly back to normal.
There is no foreseeable end to this weird world of being scared of touching people and it concerns me greatly.
Workshops where I would usually sit next to students to demonstrate stitches are now being considered being done behind masks and screens and I appreciate we must make it work but it saddens me that it can't go back to the carefree, happy environment it was.

But for now I am grateful for the little pleasures we can find. I haven't been able to get to the shops to buy bunches of happy flowers (which I love getting, especially at the beginning of the year) so I snipped a few blooms from the garden where there were lots and made a tiny posy for the table - it lasted a pleasingly long time.
I also came across a company who were offering home delivered afternoon teas so I treated the family to one last weekend. The scones and apple cake were utterly delightful!!

This week when I didn't feel like doing anything I finally tackled the bag of workshop threads which was looking very sad and scarily tangled. I sat out in the sunshine all afternoon (getting my tan/burn on) and patiently untangled everything, threading the used skeins and little lengths onto thread cards. I end up with lots of offcuts of thread cards as I buy them in at a set length and trim them down for each kit. It seems a shame to throw them away (especially as thread cards are expensive to buy pre-punched!!!) so I've just been keeping them, not really knowing what to do but I think this is a great solution as I can also write the thread colour brand and number so workshop goers can purchase more of a particular colour if they like it.
This weekend I think I will be kind to myself and work on a totally non-Stitchscape related project - like sewing on badges to my camp blanket or picking up a crochet blanket that's been half finished for the last two years. Next weekend we have managed to book a timed slot at Scotney Castle, a National Trust property which is one of a select number they have reopened the gardens of. You have to book in advance and it sells out within minutes when new dates are released, we had three of us on the website trying to get different places! Something to look forwards to as I have so missed being able to visit these gorgeous spots.
Be safe and keep smiling!! xx

Books & Postcards

This week hasn't seen a lot of stitching happening. There has, however, been quite a lot of things happening with digital products and projects as that's an area that's been ignored for quite a while. You may remember when I first started out selling Stitchscapes and related items that I invested quite a lot in mounted prints and greetings cards. The cards sold fairly well at craft fairs but not online, and the prints (in two sizes) didn't really sell at all! I have lots of them left over that are trickling out slower than a snail with no foot.
With the pandemic, greetings card packs and postcards stepped up a notch as people wanted to stay in contact with their loved ones and send them a bit of a hug in an envelope but it's not a massive area for me. I do like to keep on top of the postcards though and have just switched up my range to a very limited eight designs, all focusing on textured areas of my most recent embroideries.

I love the quality of these postcards - they are ordered through a company called Moo who are fairly expensive (costs me 52p per postcard - not a huge amount left for any sort of profit whilst still being affordable for my customers) but do have a beautiful print quality. It's hard to describe but the colours of these cards is sort of luminous, especially the Bluebell Garden card, and the shells card is so beautifully detailed.

I've also designed a paper wrap to collate these postcards into a set. Previously they were put into cellophane sleeves but I'm trying to do more to go plastic-free. The only plasticy thing with these cards is my clear sticker circle but that's a by-product of my thread card labels where there are gaps at the side that are wasteful to just throw away. I put a load of circles down the edges and have collected a fair few now!

Hopefully you'll like these postcards too, they'd look great in a skinny frame as a colour set! If you fancy a pack for yourself, click here to go to my Etsy shop.

I've also updated my Little Book of Stitchscapes with a new fresh look. There are only a few left of the previous volume and I try not to reprint the same book twice (only about 10 editions of each are printed) unless one is immediately snapped up. These are printed through an online company called Snapfish and I only print them when they are having an offer on as again they are quite pricey and don't offer me much of a mark up to actually earn anything from them. It's a lovely product to have though and I think well worth it.

The pages are sort of a chunky postcard quality, nice and thick, and it includes 20 pages with different Stitchscapes in. This one has lots of close up images as well as more stylised photos and some shots of the reverse of the embroidery so you can see the mess behind!

If you've had previous Stitchscape books there may be some cross over as I probably won't have produced enough Stitchscapes between times to have a completely fresh set of photos, but this has quite a few new ones as I've been fairly productive on the stitching side of things this year. The nice thing for me is that this book matches my new postcards so they are almost a set in themselves.
If you'd like a little book then click here to go to that Etsy page.

I'm trying to boost my Instagram page as well so my Insta tag is now appearing everywhere - including on the back of my new books! If you don't follow me, please do and share with your friends! I'm sure they'd also love Stitchscape spam popping up on their Instagram feed. Click here, or find me under @power.beth