Over the weekend I went to the Unravel festival, a festival of yarn hosted by Farnham Maltings, an arts and cultural centre in Surrey. It was the first major outing I’ve done in a very long time and I was a bit nervous about going on the train, mixing with other people, and even being so far away from home!
This is the first time I have been to Unravel, but it is in it’s thirteenth year and due to the impact of Covid this year they not only had an in-person event, but also a virtual event as well. The ticket was only £13 for the in-person event, but this also included access to the virtual event of talks across the weekend as well. There were workshops you could book to attend in real life too, however I decided not to do any of them as they were mainly based around knitting and crocheting and seemed to require a level of skill in these crafts already in order to participate. I love knitted and crocheted items but unfortunately those crafts just aren’t really my forte.
My main motivation for attending the event was to hunt for new yarn to include in future latch hook projects. I was hoping to find a big range of gauges there, and was especially on the lookout for chunky and super chunky yarns, however I was a little disappointed on that front. The event was very much geared towards knitters and whilst there was a fabulous array of yarns in some amazing hand dyed colours, the main gauges on offer were 4-ply, DK, and Aran. I did see some roving but whilst that would have been great for weaving it doesn’t work quite as well for latch hook. Having said that, I couldn’t resist making some purchases! I bought a lovely trio of blue/purple colour combo DK and an Aran weight stripy brown. I haven’t quite decided what I’m going to use the brown for, but I’m excited about the DK colour combo for a wall hanging.
The Covid safety measures were well managed throughout the event. There were timed tickets to stagger the arrival of visitors, masks were required at all times inside the venue (with the exception of eating and drinking), and a one-way system was operating throughout to guide you round each of the rooms where the stalls were set up.
From the conversations I heard as I went round sock knitting is a huge trend at the moment! I did also find Katie from the Sewcial Circle there too. I introduced myself as I have been on one of her online pom-pom workshops and we had a nice chat. It was good to see her there selling her Loome tools and other craft supplies amongst all the yarn stalls as the sheer amount of yarn was a little overwhelming! There were a few other stalls selling items like yarn bowls and magnetic needle minders too.
I don’t know if I would attend again next year as it was aimed very much at knitters and crocheters, but I did enjoy my adventurous day out and it was nice to be surrounded by people who are just as enthusiastic about craft as I am.
What a week it’s been! The Alt Summit conference is over and I’m finally back in England. I feel like I’ve had a great adventure, but also like I’ve been swept up in a whirlwind of learning, crafting and networking!
One of the best things about Alt has been meeting so many amazing people. I feel like I have made so many great connections. Everybody I spoke to was welcoming and willing to share their experiences and ideas. The networking highlight for me was the craft bloggers meet up. They had an opportunity for attendees to organise meet ups with people who are in to the same things as them. Although I had already met some brilliant people it was so great to have the chance to chat with other creatives who are just as passionate as me about crafting. We talked about lots of different aspects of crafting and blogging and exchanged contact details. That group of women were so genuine and supportive. I know I will definitely be getting in touch with a few of them to tap their knowledge.
My other favourite part of the conference was the opportunity to try out so many different crafts. ‘The Commune’ at the Ace hotel hosted an array of makers running different crafting sessions throughout each day. To be honest I could have just stayed there the whole time, but I thought it was important to do some learning on the business side of the conference too! I tried my hand at a macrame rainbow keychain, sign stencilling, painting a leather business card holder, meditation with macrame, abstract watercolour painting, biscuit decorating and embroidery. It was so fun to have a go at all of them in such a calm environment, looking out on to the sunny pool with a nice breeze blowing through. In fact, it was during the crafting sessions that I met the most people and had the best conversations because everyone was so relaxed.
The other sessions were a bit of a mixed bag. I found some of them really insightful and I was taking notes like crazy because there was so much to learn from the speakers. However, other sessions felt a bit flat or I felt like I already knew a lot of what they were talking about. It’s hard to organise such a large conference with enough content for everyone because everyone is at such different points in their journey. There was plenty of options to choose from, but because the conference took place over three venues sometimes it was hard to get between the hotels in order to reach the sessions you wanted to attend. Having said that, the shuttle bus service between the hotels was fantastic. It was running constantly during conference hours and I never had to wait more than two minutes for one to show up.
There was some great evening entertainment too. In addition to the craft bloggers meet up there was also a 90s themed party which was so nostalgic, and a brilliant improv show on the last night.
Lastly, I’m glad my new friend Ros and I found time for some sightseeing. We took the aerial tramway up to the top of Mount San Jacinto, where there was spectacular views and even snow! Although I had an amazing time at the conference I think it was also important to take that time out to be a tourist.
If you are a creative entrepreneur I would highly recommend a trip to Alt Summit. It is amazing for personal development and you will come away feeling so enthused and motivated to build your business, not to mention supported by a host of fabulous women.
I’m on an adventure! I’ve come all the way to Palm Springs, California to attend Alt Summit, a conference and community for creative entrepreneurs and influencers (https://altitudesummit.com/). I’m so excited to be here and I’ve been looking forward to it for months. I will be doing a post next week on the full conference, but here are my first impressions since my arrival…
I flew in to Los Angeles and spent a couple of days with my friends who live out there before heading to Palm Springs. The big question I had was how would I get here from LA? I debated renting a car or getting a cab but decided both of those options would be too expensive so in the end I booked a Greyhound bus. Well, let me tell you now, it was quite an experience! The bus itself was fine, but waiting to board at the station in a dodgy part of LA and getting dropped in the middle of nowhere and hoping an Uber wasn’t far away was not really my idea of fun! Once I had arrived at my hotel I found Palm Springs to be a lovely place full of cute mid-century style houses and stunning scenery; plenty of palm trees against a backdrop of mountains and blue sky.
The conference is split over three hotels: The Riviera, The Saguaro and Ace. I’m staying at the Riviera, which is where the majority of talks and workshops are taking place. After a nice lunch in the hotel restaurant I headed over to the Chiki pool for registration and the welcome party where they had a soda and popcorn bar. I love attending things like this, but I always struggle with the networking side of things. However, the beauty of attending an event in America is that Americans are so friendly and happy to talk. I was hanging around looking for someone to talk to when a lovely lady called Megan (http://meganauman.com/) approached me and asked where I was from and what I did. As we were chatting several others joined us too and before long there was a nice group of people.
Having got my conference pass and done a bit of networking I accepted a lift from Megan and we headed over to the Saguaro for some sessions. There is a shuttle bus running between all the hotels, which I’m sure I will make plenty of use of during the week.
The first session I attending was called ‘How to Slay Your Days at Alt’ hosted by Amy Webb from This Little Miggy, a lifestyle blog with a focus on disability (https://thislittlemiggy.com/). She has been coming to Alt Summit for years and had loads of great tips on how to maximise your time here. My best take aways from her talk were:
Set goals so you can work out what you want to achieve – you get back what you put in.
Give out business cards and get them back – you never know when a contact may be useful.
Work on your elevator pitch for networking – find your unique spin.
Follow up, not only with new contacts but also on your goals.
Never let an opportunity pass you by – say yes!
We had a short break after this session during which I met another lady from the UK! Ros (https://whomovedcoffee.com/) is in a similar position to me with a new blog that she’s looking to grow. We went to the next session together which was called ‘Plan a Year’s Worth of Social Media Content in One Workshop’, hosted by Carly Morgan, a digital content creator. The session consisted of two parts. First Carly took us through how to plan social media using her worksheets in order to create a calendar for yourself to make it easy to post on a day-to-day basis. Secondly we split in to groups to begin the process and discuss with others what works depending on your preferred platform. The worksheets look really helpful for planning so I definitely think I will download them and give it a go.
I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in to more sessions tomorrow. Tune in next week to see how I got on for the rest of the conference!
I celebrated Galentine’s Day last week with my bestie Madeleine at the Galentine’s party hosted by Tea and Crafting (https://www.teaandcrafting.co.uk/). It took place in their Covent Garden Studio which was suitably decorated with plenty of hearts. There were sixteen attendees all there to celebrate their best girls.
We did two activities over the course of the evening; soap making and biscuit decorating. It was quite a lot to get through in only a couple of hours but everyone chipped in with the tidying up between each activity and we managed to get both done! We started off with the soap making. We used a ‘melt and pour’ soap base which we melted using either a microwave or in a water bath. Jane (the owner of T&C and the tutor for the evening) had a table top hob set up with two pans of water for us to use. The microwave was a lot quicker at melting it but that meant there was a long queue for it all the time, so I mainly used the water bath, which took longer but probably only as long as waiting in the queue!
Once the soap was melted we then added colours and essentials oils and poured it into the moulds. I made a rectangular one, a heart and three honeycomb ones. My favourite colour is orange so that was the main colour I used along with the orange essential oil which smelled so amazing I just wanted to eat it! I did make a pink one with small hearts in though as we were there to spread the love!
We then set the moulds aside to set before taking them home. After clearing up we then moved on to decorating biscuits. We used digestives, but this would be a great technique to use on homemade biscuits too. The technique we learnt was marbling. Using two different coloured fondant icings we rolled them together to create a marbled effect. Once we were happy with the level of marbling we then rolled the icing flat and used cutters to cut out circles of the correct size and stuck them onto the biscuits using a little water. When marbling it’s important not to take it too far otherwise the colours just end up merging together. The best effects comes from using white and another colour. I went with black and white and Madeleine went for pink and white.
Jane also had some letter stamps so we could stamp a little message into the icing and some edible gold paint to give the biscuits that special little touch. When we were finished they looked good enough to eat!
The last thing we did was remove the soaps from their moulds. It was so fun seeing everyone’s designs and the awesome effects they had achieved mixing colours together and layering them up. Mine were quite plain compared to some of the others, but I was really happy with them because they smell so good!
Madeleine and I had such a great time spending the evening crafting together. And the best bit of all was the glass of Prosecco! So all that’s left to say is Happy Galentine’s to all you amazing women out there!
I have done this several times previously and have found it a great way to show my products to people who are genuinely interested in handmade jewellery. I have had many conversations with other makers about the value of selling at craft fairs. I have done quite a few fairs in the last couple of years with varying results. Some fairs I have attended have been awful with barely any people, conversely I have been to some that have had great footfall, but still not made any sales. However I have been to a few that have been successful. Unfortunately with craft fairs and selling handmade products a bit of a scattergun, trial and error approach is required to find the appropriate place to sell. The location, venue and marketing for these fairs are all important but the key is finding the right audience. I’ve found that hosting a showcase in my own home gives me the opportunity to invite people who I know are interested and encourage them to invite their own family and friends in turn to spread the word about my jewellery.
We had Buck’s Fizz, mince pies, nibbles and chocolate to get in the festive spirit and start thinking about shopping for Christmas gifts. I have to say I wasn’t as organised with inviting people this time around as I went on holiday a few weeks before. There were definitely fewer attendees than previous years, but there was a regular flow of people throughout the afternoon, all of whom were keen to view my products and I was really pleased with the amount of sales I made.
I showed some of my older pieces, but the main focus of the day was to display my newest collection. Earlier in the year I was struggling with my jewellery making and had hit a bit of a creative wall, which was part of my motivation for starting this blog. As I began to explore my creativity via other outlets such as embroidery, drawing, crafting and baking I felt re-inspired with my jewellery and decided to go back to basics. When I began making jewellery as a hobby, polymer clay was one of the first materials I worked with, which I think led to my love for introducing colour into my work and the inclusion of resin with my silver work. I think the fact that I put no pressure on myself and just let myself play with the clay allowed me to be more creative. I started by making flat beads which I turned into bracelets. They reminded me of the sweetie bracelets we used to have when we were little! I then took the three colours in each bracelet and blended them together to create marbled beads, which I then used to make necklaces and earrings.
Some people bought things as they were, but I also received some commissions as well. I really like it when customers ask for something a little different. It’s great to hear other people’s ideas and see how the jewellery can be personalised to suit their wardrobes and their own tastes. I had a request for my moon earrings in blue instead of white and ace of diamonds in green instead of red. I also took a commission for a ring. A while ago I made a ring as a gift for my friend. One of her friends had seen it and asked me to make her one of her own, however she wanted hers to be a thumb ring and blue rather than pink. I’m really looking forward to getting started with making it.
On Friday last week I attended the Congregation of Inspiration, a conference for small businesses organised by Holly & Co (https://holly.co/). Holly Tucker is the founder of Not On The High Street (https://www.notonthehighstreet.com/) and has since made it her mission to support, advise and inspire small business owners and entrepreneurs in the pursuit of their own dreams. The event took place in St Mary’s Church, Marylebone; a stunning venue.
The theme of the conference was about finding ‘your diamond’; that unique thing that you are passionate about and want to share with the world. There was an absolutely packed schedule starting with breakfast at 8:30am and finishing with happy hour drinks at 7pm. In between there was a whole host of speakers and panel discussions covering a range of topics from social media to using your business to create positive change. Some of my favourites included Sahar Hashemi OBE (founder of Coffee Republic) on turning your idea into a business, Fearne Cotton on ‘Happy Is The New Rich’, Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones (founder of The Black Farmer) on the danger of playing it safe and Dave Buonaguidi (artist and author) on being distinctive. The content was great and I felt I learnt something, or was at least entertained, at the end of every session.
The whole conference was like one big Instagram photo opportunity. A lot of effort had been put in to the aesthetics of the venue with an amazing neon backdrop to the stage, balloons everywhere and plenty of pretty signage. There was also a marketplace with several small businesses selling a range of items such as eco glitter, etched glass trinkets and art prints amongst other things. Throughout the day there was also a choir performing various songs.
I only found about this event after the early bird rates had finished and I spent quite a while deciding whether or not to attend anyway so my ticket ended up costing £210 plus a booking fee. I felt that this was quite a high price, definitely the most expensive conference I have attended so far. I could certainly see where the money had been spent with the calibre of the speakers and the decoration, however I was disappointed that this price did not include food. It did include pastries at breakfast and coffee (which I don’t drink) in all the breaks, but the lunch options that were offered were in the form of food trucks outside the venue, which were in keeping with the event’s aesthetic, but meant an extra £5 on top; a cost which probably could have been absorbed into the ticket price. The options were limited and the mac’n’cheese I had was pretty bland. To be honest I wish I’d gone up the road to Pret!
The other thing I found disappointing about the event was the networking. Prior to the event I joined the Facebook group where lots of people said that they were attending alone and looked forward to meeting everyone, however during the networking opportunities throughout the day I found that most people seemed to already be in groups and it was difficult to engage people or break in to existing conversations. One of my hopes in attending the conference was that I would have an opportunity to meet like-minded people, but unfortunately this didn’t happen for me.
Despite this I still came away feeling inspired and fired up about my business ventures. The speakers were all obviously passionate about their businesses and you could feel their sense of purpose and drive to succeed.
The tickets are already on sale for next year at the early bird rate but I think I need a little longer to decide if I’ll be attending again…
I had an absolute ball this weekend at The Handmade Festival (https://www.thehandmadefestival.com/) hosted by Kirstie Allsopp! I attended on the Friday and it was such a lovely day. The festival takes place in Hampton Court and it was a beautiful sunny day to be walking around outside (thanks late summer sun!). My friend and I decided to pre-book all of our workshops so we would have a schedule for the day, and also some guaranteed sitting down! In total we booked on four workshops throughout the day and they were quite evenly spaced which left plenty for time for browsing the shopping zones and other tents hosted by some familiar names such as Sew Yeah Social Club (https://sewyeah.co.uk/), Mollie Makes (http://www.molliemakes.com/), and the London Craft Club (https://londoncraftclub.co.uk/) amongst others. Lots of these tents were hosting their own workshops too, which you could just attend on a first-come-first-serve basis or sign up to on the day. Next time I might consider booking less workshops in advance so I can participate in these instead. There was also an amazing food tent which had loads of stalls selling delicious produce like honey, wine, cakes and sauces.
The first workshop I attended was Indian block printing. It was my favourite of the day. The tutor from The Arty Crafty Place ran us through how to apply the paint to the blocks to ensure we wouldn’t get a blobby result and the need for a printing mat to provide a soft surface to help the block make full contact with the fabric. There were a variety of blocks for us to share and we used four paint colours during the class. We started off with a piece of practice fabric before moving on to the tote bag provided. As the fabric paint dries immediately we were able to print both sides. There were lots of assistants walking round, giving advice and showing us examples of items that had been printed. They also told us that by heat sealing the printing with an iron it would then be safe to wash it too. I can definitely see myself incorporating this technique into future work.
The second workshop I attended was felting. We made a flamingo. At the beginning of the class Steffi from The Makerss (https://www.themakerss.co.uk/) said that by the end we would be addicted, but I’m not sure it’s the craft for me! The main shape of the flamingo was formed using a wire armature made from a pipe cleaner. The various coloured wool was then formed around the wire and manipulated into shape using the felting needle. The eyes, wings and legs were attached by punching the needle through both layers of the wool at the place where you wanted them to join. I was amazed at how easily the wool joined together and stayed in the shape it was formed into, but I did wish I had an extra pair of hands to hold it all steady!
The third workshop was Honey Hand Reflexology. We started the session talking about the importance of bees and honey and which kinds to buy to get the best health benefits. We then made an exfoliator using honey, cane sugar and coconut oil. It smelt delicious and we all used our scrubs on our hands straight away. It left my hands so soft. I have quite dry skin generally so I will definitely be using it throughout the winter. Katharine from Bee Potion (https://www.bee-potion.com/) said that we could also use it on our faces. The second half of the session was dedicated to hand reflexology. We had a hand map and Katharine talked us through each of the pressure points as we gave each other hand massages. It was very relaxing and my hands felt lovely afterwards!
The last session of the day was a talk hosted by Kirstie Allsopp with the gardener Charlie Hart. He was very amusing and talked about his move to the country and how his decision to become and gardener and transforming his own garden helped him through his grief over his parents’ death. He also talked about how it can help with anxiety and gave some good gardening advice to questions from the audience.
In between all these sessions we browsed all the amazing stalls. Some were selling handmade products such as jewellery, ceramics and art and others were selling craft supplies. I made quite a few purchases of craft kits so expect lots of blog posts about all of them in the near future!
I was really excited to see some of the companies and individuals I follow on Instagram. It was great to meet them in real life and see their products. I did see a few people I recognised from Instagram attending the festival, it was a bit like celeb-spotting! I didn’t go up and say hello to any of them though as I didn’t want to seem like a stalker!
I had such a great day out and I will definitely be putting it in my diary for next year.