Saturday, 22 February 2014

The good and the bad. No ugly here!

February, comes along every year, bringing all sorts of unwelcome gifts. We've had colds, sickness, sinusitis. Not a day goes by without one of us feeling bleurghhhh. I'll be glad to see the back of it. There have been a few positives though.

geometric bird embroidery in hoop

I've had a few commissions. This one was finished last weekend. Another bird surrounded by geometric chaos. Still love doing them. I was hoping to do a budgie but discovered budgies don't have much of a profile. Something to do with the beak. No good for this type of silhouette style anyway. Would still like to crack a budgie though. Someday.

Me and the other Crafty Muthas have found a great new venue for our regular handmade fairs. It's not a million miles away from the old venue, but it'll be like starting over again. Relationships to build, table plans to work out, and there's some outside space we're thinking of using too, in the warmer months. Exciting for us and hopefully great for all of Bearwood Handmade's stall holders and customers.

I've been blogging elsewhere and really enjoying it. I've started writing for Craft Business, a blog for anyone interested in making some money from their passion for crafts. I've been researching and writing some seriously long posts about craft fairs and I've learned loads in the process.

handmake me screen grab of home page

At work, we've been testing a new site out which I'm really eager to share. Handmake Me is all about commissioning one-off pieces, something totally bespoke or maybe personalised. We're connecting buyers with makers and I think this site has huge potential. We could become the go to site for anyone wanting to commission personalised gifts, customised fashion, one-off jewellery etc. Lots of hard work in the meantime. I say work, we're actually scouring the country for great designers and makers for the site, which means I get to check out lots of creative, fun stuff. Getting a right little wish list together!

So February hasn't been all bad. I'm still sniffing and freezing but Spring is nearly here. And I LOVE Spring.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Reading Lists

Beautiful Ruins book by Jess Walter

I've decided to blatantly rip off my lovely friend Jo and record what I read every month right here on my blog. This is in part because books are so important in my life, and also because for my last birthday I received a Kindle from my lovely Muthas.

I was a bit unsure at first. Could I really enjoy a book if I couldn't hold on to it - admire the cover, rest a coffee cup on it, fold page corners and break spines? I adore the books I have but I don't treat them particularly well (unless they're from the Library!). In years to come, when I pick up a well read favourite, it won't just be the story that speaks to me, but the creases and stains, the little notes from the kids used as bookmarks or the occasional receipt for mundane essentials, that stir the memories. A book is a very special thing.

Five months on from receiving my Kindle and after a very slow start, I'm hooked. Yes, the ease and convenience of buying cheap books while I lie in bed, and being able to read them immediately, has won me over. The flat, dull screen can't compare to a book's pages, but it doesn't have the glare that comes with phones or tablets and it is very kind to my eyes. Yeah, page turning with a clicky button isn't great, and I have a few other niggles, but this isn't a Kindle review.

What I am hoping to do though, through recording the books I read on a monthly basis, is hold on to a few of the memories. This is a place to record my favourites, make recommendations and highlight the little details that have made each book memorable. So here goes with January's reading list.

Don't Eat Cat - Jess Walter - a Kindle Single by the author of the above pictured book 'Beautiful Ruins', which was one of my favourite reads of last year. This is completely different to that book. It's a dark, funny, dystopian zombie short that kick-started my New Year (and established a theme for the month). Planning to read more of Mr Walter's work.

The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins - Started late New Year's day and finished by the next morning. I became so obsessed with the series that I hardly slept....great holiday reading.

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games Trilogy) - Suzanne Collins - My favourite of the three and devoured in the same way as the first.....

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games Trilogy) - Suzanne Collins - I felt bereft when I'd finished. Such a great story. Simple prose, with many twists and turns. So pleased that someone is writing strong female characters that young people can identify with. And I have to admire a writer that can get me to enjoy a story about children killing each other!

The Invisible Circus - Jennifer Egan - Another favourite from last year was Egan's 'A Visit From The Goon Squad'. I love her writing and this book, her debut, is a coming of age story that takes place in the US and Europe. It was an emotional, beautiful read. Loved the sex scenes too ;)

Positron : Episodes 1-3 - Margaret Atwood - Oh yeah, straight back to dystopia! Nice short reads, amusing and horrific as you'd expect. Already read episode 4, but that's for next month!

Rooftoppers - Katherine Rundle - Started reading this to the kids at the end of January and haven't finished yet but I couldn't not mention it. So brilliantly, beautifully written. The language is so striking. It has started many conversations about words or situations, history or convention. There's something of the Pippi Longstocking about it. My kids love an orphan's story!

Rooftoppers book by Katherine Rundell