Inspiration, Uncategorized

Spring is Springing!

Dare I say that spring appears to be well on its way?  I don’t want to jinx it, but the last few days have been considerably warmer, the nights are getting lighter, and my garden appears to be blooming!

I like this time of year – it sounds a little twee, but it really is a time of new beginnings.  I see it as a time to dust of all those things that have been dragging you down, and start afresh with a spring in your step. 

For crafters, inspiration really is all around us now.  The flowers are blooming – cheerful daffodils with their faces up to the sun, the pretty crocuses and tulips in the fabulous colours, and my personal favourite, muscari in all its purple glory!    The birds are nesting, there is plenty of billing and cooing, and you can see the signs of nests being built all over the place!

So what has all this got to do with Athena Makes you may ask!  Don’t worry, I haven’t lost the plot – on the contrary I think I may have found it!   Followers of my Facebook page, especially those I am also friends with, may have noticed several references to losing my mojo.  This has been the case for quite a while now.  I have been going through the motions, making hoops, making jewellery, but my heart has not been in it, and I believe this has been reflected in my work.  When you are not putting your heart and soul into something, it shows.  This is made particularly obvious when your work isn’t selling.  I hate to talk about “sales” and “money” but the simple fact is that I have been really struggling to sell my work.  The last few sales events I have taken part in have been the worst financially, and by number of sales, that I have ever done.    This has given me a bit of a wakeup call that things need to change.  Quite frankly, there is no point in making large numbers of items if no-one wants to buy them!  for a short while I even toyed with the idea of closing Athena Makes down altogether.

But……I don’t want to.  I don’t want to give in to the niggling voice in the back of my head that says it’s because my work isn’t good enough.  I want to prove it wrong.    After much thought, and consideration, and taking advice from a very valued friend who got me into this in the first place, I have decided to do things differently.  Instead of focusing on making a dozen hoops or a dozen pieces of jewellery, to get the maximum number of items in events etc. I am just focusing on doing one or two.  But those one or two will be more complex, using more detail, different techniques, and making them to the absolute best of my ability.  There is still so much to learn in embroidery, and I am devoting my time and energy into progressing my skills – and hopefully making some embroidery art that people love!  My first endeavour into this new mind-set is my lion hoop.  I have had this pattern for nearly a year – I love it as soon as I saw it, but I never had the confidence to tackle it as I was scared of mucking it up.  So last week I bit the bullet and I did it!  And you know what?  I think it turned out great!

There are so many different forms of embroidery – stumpwork, whitework, crewel, kantha.  I intend to embrace them all!  This is going to be a real period of learning for me, and I will be sharing it with you along the way! 

I do apologise for the length of this blog post – I have a tendency to waffle once I get going!  But I really just wanted to share my thoughts and feelings with you.  If anything I have said has struck a chord with you, please let me know – sometime we all just need a tweak to our mind-set!

Congratulations if you have got this far!  

Hugs, as always

Zoe

Events, Uncategorized

Knitting and Stitching Show

Last Saturday (24th November) I took myself off on a coach trip to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Harrogate.  That’s right – me, on a completed unsupervised day out shopping!!!!  Now obviously this trip was all for business purposes…..Honest!!!!!

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After joining my coach, which very conveniently picked up about two streets from my house, I settled myself in for the hour and a half journey to Harrogate.  After a very smooth, and relaxing journey (toilet on board – very civilised!)  the approach into Harrogate itself gave the first indication of how busy the day was going to be!  After a few quick instructions from the driver, it was just a couple of minutes walk to the Convention Centre, and the crowds were already massing!

After a quick check ticket check, I entered the centre itself – and straight in front of me was an amazing exhibition of crochet work by TOFT – the entire Edward’s Menagerie of over 300 amigurumi were there in all their glory, including this gigantic handsome fella!

As well as the over 200 trade stalls to peruse, there were a number of special exhibitions on show.  They were all extremely awe-inspiring in their own way, but these are some of my favourites;-

The Royal School of Needlework had a display showing off some of their students works – which were absolutely amazing, and so different in the styles and approach to needlework – the poppy necklace is my absolute favourite – so beautiful!  The dragonfly is stunning, so delicate. 

These boots are so fabulous!  I am not sure I could wear them without breaking my neck, but I would certainly give it a go!

Last, but certainly not least, this beautiful example of goldwork embroidery, on the Peter Pan bookcover – how gorgeous is this!

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The next part of the show I wanted to share with you is the amazingly touching display of historic pin cushions  – the story of these is told so beautifully by Diane Grant.

I then moved on to a display of caskets, by students of ornamental embroidery inspired by works from the 17th century currently on show in the Ashmolean.  These were so awe-inspiring!  I have long wanted to give stumpwork embroidery a try, and these have completely inspired me!.

For those who know me personally, you will be aware of my love/addiction/obsession with embroidery scissors – imagine my glee and delight, when I saw this!!!!

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There was obviously an awful lot of shopping involved in the day – gorgeous threads, hand dyed fabrics, silks, and speciality threads were all purchased!  I have soooo many ideas rattling around in my brain following the event – I can’t wait to get started!

All in all, it was an exhausting, but completely inspiring day – I can’t wait to go again next year!  I just need to start saving!!!!!

 

Inspiration, Uncategorized

Inspiration!

Inspiration!

One question I do get asked quite a bit, is “Where do you get your ideas from?”  and it is a question that I struggle with sometimes!  By nature, I am quite a random person, and rarely have any type of plan!  And much as I hate to admit it, quite often I just make whatever I feel like at the time!  Great from a creative point of view, lousy from a business point of view!

At any one time, I have a huge list of projects that I want to do – ideas that come to me, suggestions made by friends, or by my lovely Facebook group members.  Sometimes they involve purchased patterns – these tend to be embroidery, and are very straight forward – you buy a pattern, and you stitch it!  Even then, I do rebel against instructions, and if at all possible, I alter a stitch, or a colour, to make it that little bit more unique!  One of my favourite places to purchase patterns online purely provide an outline drawing – perfect for me!  I can choose what stitch to do where, what colour scheme to use, and even leave out sections, if I choose.  Wonderful for someone who can’t draw for toffee!

Sometimes though, inspiration does strike at the strangest of times.  I visited a town near me called Bakewell – famous for its tarts!  Also famous locally for its fabulous Monday market.  Bakewell is a very picturesque town in the heart of the Peak District, on the banks of the River Wye.  To get to the market from the carpark, you have to cross the famous Lock Bridge, and this is the view!  How beautiful is this?

I have been looking back at these photos for a while, trying to decide how I could translate them into an embroidery.  I really wanted to incorporate the water, and the trees, but with a distinct lack of drawing skills, I was a little stuck!

Inspiration struck when I was browsing Facebook, and saw a post from one of my favourite jewellery makers, Louise Goodchild designs.  Louise was taking part in the #Inktober campaign, and the prompt for that day was #tranquil  It really struck me as soon as I saw it, that it was the perfect interpretation of what I had in my mind!  Louise very kindly gave me permission to use her sketch as the basis of an embroidery, and this is the result.  I was so pleased with how it turned out.

This just goes to prove that inspiration strikes at strange times, and things come to pass in strange ways!  Now, if only I could get someone to sketch all my other ideas for me………….