Hotel Chocolat Easter Egg

www.hotelchocolat.com

Did everyone have a great Easter? I still have most of my easter eggs left as I’ve been too busy to eat them which, considering I only had 3, is quite an achievement for me! Mind you one of them was one of these > > >
if you’ve never tried Hotel Chocolat then do.

Children have been back at school 4 days and although I’ve been working ever since they returned I haven’t had a chance to add anything to here. I had planned to do so this morning but then I realised that if I didn’t go and do some food shopping none of us were eating this weekend. Which may benefit my waistline (what waistline?) but really wouldn’t be a good idea. It seems that no matter how much older and more grown up my children get they still don’t actually realise the cupboards are empty nor offer to food shop. They notice if we’re running out of chocolate spread or biscuits quickly enough though!

I have managed to finalise the pattern for a bag style that has been confounding me for a while though.  Trying to line a 2 compartment bag with a fixed divider and achieve a perfect finish around the zip top proved to be less straight forward than I had anticipated but I got there!

This bag has been named Script by my budding actor/director daughter (the teenager who believes the world begins and ends at The Nottingham Playhouse) who decided it was the perfect size for carrying her scripts in.  You don’t need to have any scripts to carry though, I don’t and I originally designed it to be the perfect size for carrying magazines without having to roll or fold them for those long hours we parents spend sitting around waiting for our children to finish their various activities.

With a central divider there are 2 internal pockets and a full zip closure at the top. Additional pockets, internal and external, can be added as per your wishes, this one has a full width wrap around external pocket on one side. Strap length can also be made to whatever length you wish or, as with this example, be adjustable. It holds snacks well alongside those magazines I’ve found.

My youngest daughter has taken possession of the very first prototype of this bag as her school book bag, she doesn’t care about the wonky lines and ragged edges inside of that one, apparently it’s the perfect size for school books as well!

Of course if you are an actor or anyone else who has and needs to carry scripts then yes, it is the perfect size for them. Or you could just pretend that’s what you have in it anyway if you want.

This one already has already found it’s new home but I’ll get some more of these Script bags made up and added to stock soon but it is of course available as a custom order already – just get in touch and let’s talk about how you want your Script bag to be. And of course a custom made Script doesn’t even have to be script size, it can be any size you want!

In this world of online shopping the personal touch can be lost. The seller looses the opportunity to meet and get to know their customers and, more importantly, the buyer rarely meets the seller.  I come from a background in customer service where the customer contact was face to face and I know how incredibly important that contact is and how much I loved meeting customers; helping them, fulfilling their needs and solving their problems, even, especially, when those problems were with the company I worked for,  That contact is limited for me these days, I get to meet customers who live locally to me at fairs and events but those living further afield are strangers to me, And I am a stranger to them.

So enter the world of video.  We’re surrounded by video these days, a video can tell us more in a minute than reading a piece of text. I can write descriptions about the colour and drape of my fabrics, explain the sizes of pocket and how fastenings work, show photos of the details and in text and take photos.  A video lets me actually demonstrate them as if you, the customer, were right in front of me. A video lets you get to know me, to see who I am, the person behind the company name, the one who is actually making the products you buy, not a nameless nobody in a factory somewhere overseas but a real live living, breathing human being right here.

But I come from a generation where video was not available to the everyday man and woman. We didn’t have our childhoods documented by the minute, even snapshots of us on holiday were limited.  This was the pre digital age where the cine camera was a luxury few could afford and photos were taken on reels of film that had to be sent off for processing for you to wait for their return with no guarantee that any of them would even come out.  My childhood holiday photos show us all carefully, patiently, posing as my parents composed the scene before pushing the shutter button ensuring no body parts were chopped off and no strangers wandered into shot.  My children’s holiday photos are plentiful and snapped at every opportunity without such worries, if the shot isn’t good we just delete the file. And I have video after video after video of them doing everything and anything, their entire childhood is documented to the nth degree!

Consequently my children are perfectly comfortable when someone points a camera at them whether it’s to take photographs or film.  They talk direct to camera as easily as they talk to a friend, the camera is their friend.  But it’s not mine. I am not in the least bit comfortable with it. It makes me feel awkward, unnatural, self conscious. I loose my words, I find my eyes wandering all over the place, to anywhere that isn’t actually the camera, I pull strange faces and when I do speak it all comes out odd and I get the emphasis on words in all the wrong places! It is so much more than cringeworthy to watch back, it makes me feel physically ill that’s how much I hate it!  This is the digital age and I do want to be able to get to know my customers and to let them get to know me, I want to be able to use video on my site and social media so I have to get over it!

So I joined a group run by the wonderful Nicola Smith of A Handcrafted Business aimed at helping people like me get over our hang ups and learn to embrace video and grow comfortable with seeing and hearing ourselves on film.  This course has forced me miles out of my comfort zone and to the point of terror but it has been worth sticking with because it’s working.  I have gone from sitting in front of the camera pulling faces and mumbling with no idea what I was doing to being able to walk around talking to my phone almost, but still a long way off completely, naturally.  I’ve even worked out how to use my video editing software for something more challenging than just chopping snippets out of videos of the children, I still have a huge amount to learn but I’m realising what it’s capable of and just what I still need to learn.  I’m not going to be in line for any production, direction or presenting awards but I can do this, I will do this, and with more practice I will get better!

So here’s the first piece of video I’ve made that I am ready to share. it’s not brilliant, it won’t win any awards, there’s a heck of a lot wrong with it, but I’m proud of it purely because I managed to do it, me the person who 3 weeks ago would have hid behind the curtain if someone bought a video camera anywhere near me!  Oh sod it, watch it just to laugh at me if you want, I don’t care – that’s how far I’ve come!

I’m not giving up on this, I will keep trying and I will get better.  I’ve actually added another clip on another page on the website but if you want to see that one you’ll have to find it.  And I may just ask the children to act as my co-presenters, they are, and always will be, so much better at it than I am.

Just some of the fabric saved from the skip

Just some of the fabric saved from the skip

Sometimes you have to leap at an opportunity even though you’re not really ready for it because it will be worth it in the end.

A colleague of mine who knew I was planning to start making my bags available for sale knew someone who had taken over a small industrial unit for their business and on moving in had found loads of stuff left behind by the previous occupants; stuff they would now have to dispose of.  Included in all that stuff were rolls of fabric that along with everything else in the unit were now destined for the skip. Until our mutual contact put us in touch of course.

I wasn’t yet ready to be able to use them, I had no budget for them, I didn’t even know where I’d keep them.  I tried really hard to resist but the thought of fabrics that were perfectly usable going into the skip was just too much and I caved. It was a win win situation all round anyway – the unit occupants didn’t have to pay to have them removed and actually generated some extra income by selling them, I took possession of a load of beautiful upholstery and furnishing fabric at a brilliant price and, best of, all that lovely fabric was saved! I was even prepared to be falling over rolls of fabric for the next few months if need be but then I remembered the kids don’t use their, loosely and grandly named, playhouse (it’s a shed with windows, but its watertight and sheltered) in the winter and joy of joys it was winter, so I stashed it all in there until I was ready to use it. As for budget, they ended up being my Christmas present.

Folded fabrics ready for washing

Off the roll and folded ready to be laundered.

I’ve taken a couple of rolls out since, mainly ones that only had short pieces on and a couple of longer rolls were left inside the house so I could use them for pattern drafting and prototypes, but the bulk of it has sat in the playhouse since then (with regular checks on it of course, just to make sure it wasn’t getting damaged, or feeling lonely and unloved).  Today I took it all out to prepare for use. it’ll be a while before it’s all ready because it all needs checking, laundering, checking again and quite frankly if I prep it all at once I still have nowhere to store it once prepared, on the rolls it all stands up against a wall.  Just taking the shorter lengths off the rolls has left me an enormous pile of folded fabric that has no home. But hey, the kids have an empty playhouse again, it’s spring and, who needs a dining table?

Batch no 1 is in the washing machine as I type, the kids don’t need clean clothes either do they?

Just in case anyone needs to know how to roll up their LosanaB basic roll up shopper bag (for sale here and by custom order of course 🙂 ).  Okay, yes it was just because I had some new software to play with, but now I have the software and I can play I can make more, I might even make some interesting and useful videos in future.

And try us they do!  Finally got the camera sorted then had a few really bad days that have meant having to take time out of work just as I was ready to go, touch wood all is on the up now but we’re about to go into school holidays which makes it hard for me to work due to my daughter. You see I do this work not only because I love it but because I have daughter with autism so need flexibility to work around her needs. Quite frankly while I am eminently employable there are very few employers out there who would tolerate the amount of time off I’d need to take just because of my child’s needs, I used to be a boss and I wouldn’t have been able to do it.  So I work for myself and fit things around her.

Red Bag on FolksyToday I did finally manage to start taking photos but the weather has turned all yucky on me and the light is awful.  So after struggling, and mainly failing, all morning to find places inside where I could get enough/the right light I am now considering a portable studio/light tent big enough to hold the bags, I have a tiny one which is fabulous but the bags don’t fit in it.  Today had to be the day though so the photos have been taken as well as they can be in the circumstances and backgrounds have had to be edited to make them presentable. Which all means it took far longer than I’d hoped. The weather was perfect yesterday as well, just wasn’t possible to take photos where I was.

So far today I have managed to get 2 items added to the folksy store, 2 of the big bucket bags, and have more to add but we’re now at the end of my normal working day, aforementioned child will be home soon and I’ll be back to caring for her. Touch wood, cross fingers, anything else that’s said to bring luck, she’ll settle well this evening (ha! who am I kidding – she never does!) and I can do some more later this evening.

 

 

The view of the far side of the room from where I am was sitting.

The camera problem is sorted. Admittedly by buying a new camera but hey, the end result is my knackered camera is no longer a problem and I can now take photos properly. I am actually really quite impressed with the few shots I’ve taken so far and I haven’t even started exploring what it can actually do which is far more than my old one could purely because of advances in technology since I bought that one.

So next week I’ll be able to get cracking with photographing the lovely stock I am building up and getting them added to the shop. In the meantime these pics are just me playing.

 

 

 

ice skates in gems

A bit of blinging completed for daughter no. 2.

Why does nothing ever seem to go to schedule?  The plan was to have finished items ready to add to the shop this week but it seems the world has conspired against me and I’m not quite there.

Okay, maybe not the entire world, but my children and their actions and activities certainly have! And since they are my world then I guess that’s the same thing.  One of them needed an extra practise session for one of her activities, one had to have 2 days off school, the other has been so hyped up about the practical exams she took for her GCSEs this week she’s been as much, no less, help around the house as a chocolate teapot!  Not only has she been spectacularly unhelpful (when she’s usually very helpful!) but she’s been continuously stood in the kitchen rehearsing lines and working out stage directions consequently getting in everyone’s way.  She’s known those lines off by heart for weeks and if she tweaks the directions any more there won’t be anything left of the original!  It’ll all be worth it in the end though, when she’s a super theater director, with a bit of acting on the side, earning a fortune with a big house complete with annexe for mum.  At least she knows what she wants out of life, apart from a short flirtation with the idea of forensic sciences 3 years ago all she’s ever wanted to do since she was 3 or 4 is work in ‘the dramatic arts’ – I blame David Tennant’s Dr, the first programme she became seriously addicted to at 3 years old!

the big bucket bag prototype

the big bucket bag prototype

Oh, and I had a migraine that lasted 4 days that didn’t help with anything!

So, where am I actually at?  Well despite all the above i do actually have some bags ready to offer for sale. What I don’t have is a camera to take photos of them with, because when I switched that on it refused to work and kept telling me it had a ‘lens control error’.  It’s not worth repairing because although it is a good bridge camera it’s a number of years old now dating from when digital bridge cameras were still fairly new technology.  The good news is I get to treat myself to a new camera, the bad news is I haven’t had time to go shopping for one!

The coming week will therefore be spent making more lovely things alongside researching cameras and deciding whether to stick with a bridge, which I know how to use, or take the leap to a SLR which will involve a learning curve.   Anybody got a decent but not too expensive digital bridge camera with good macro ability they can recommend?

In other news, I set up a YouTube channel, just in case I have any interesting videos to share with everyone. It was just to test it was all working and I do now need to work out how on earth to make it smaller, much, much smaller*, before I can use them here! In the meantime the teeny clip I made to test it all is from facebook.

I will get there, I really really will, this is just a little delay.

 

*as you can see I worked out how to make them smaller!

book and glasses

book and glasses

I have been reading like mad this morning trying to find concise, credible, well presented answers to a question that arose on a discussion board, somewhere on the internet in a craft group, because while I know the answer to the question I can’t just answer it with my list of facts without being able to back them up with evidence. Okay yes I could, but why should anyone believe me any more than those who are giving incorrect answers? The answer is they shouldn’t, nobody should really believe anything they read on the internet is the absolute truth, sadly they do although sometimes this means they choose to accept that which it suits them to accept rather than that which is true.  I could digress here and go off into a rant about fact checking and the passing on, or not, of information you haven’t checked and so on and so on and so on but I won’t, because the point of this post is that I couldn’t find an easy way to back up the facts.

Oh I found lots of factual articles, from reputable organisations that know what they are talking about, but none of it was presented in a way that was easy to digest, concise, not filled with enough scientific twaddle to make anyone’s eyes close as they read it while enjoying their lunch.  The information I found that was well presented was either incomplete because it was presented by organisations with a vested interest in leaving out the negatives of this particular subject or was presented by someone who’s interest is the same as mine and so while what they say is true it couldn’t be verified any more than my own words could.

library

library

Maybe I need to go back to the way I got the information I have stored in my head, the old fashioned way, hours of studying in a library using real books, the type they don’t even lend out so you have to stay in the library and take notes. Can you just take photos of them on your phone these days? I have no idea, in my days of studying at college we didn’t even have mobile phones. I’m pretty certain we remembered it better by taking notes and writing it down than we would have done if we could just take a photo though and the only thing that ever spoiled the library study experience for me was the fact I couldn’t take food and drink in. Although of course the adult me understands why completely, the me of my youth just had to find something to complain about. My daughter tells me they’re allowed to use their mp3 players, so long as nobody else can here it, we weren’t allowed to use our walkmans*! Headphone technology has improved hasn’t it? My teenager wears her headphones around the house, it’s the only way to get her to wash up, and I have to shout at her from a distance of no more than 3 feet to get her attention yet I can’t hear so much as a whisper escaping from her headphones. My teenage headphones you could hear from a distance of 15 feet even at the lowest possible volume!

I don’t have time to do that today though. or tomorrow, or the day after, next week or even next month. In fact I probably won’t have time for a very long time so it’s unlikely to happen.

The point is that there are a lot of self declared experts out there on the internet, I am one on some things but I always try to provide credible references to back up my knowledge and on other things I haven’t the foggiest so I keep my internet mouth shut, others don’t!  It seems too many people don’t understand the difference between opinion and fact so it pays to do your own research, read plenty about a subject and pick the truth out from amongst the dross, keep an open mind where things aren’t so clear, and be prepared to always learn more.  And maybe even check the info in a library.

cotton seed head

cotton seed head

And the question that started all this?  Well, it was more a statement, one statement made by many people using different words with just a few voices trying to explain that while it was their opinion that this was the case it wasn’t actually factually correct and that the situation was far, far more complicated. That statement – “Always make things with pure cotton as it’s completely natural and not harmful to the environment”. If you agree with that statement then please, please, go and do some research, I may attempt again to collate some info here with good reputable references but it’ll have to be when I have a lot of time available to do it.

Oh, and if you haven’t stepped foot inside your local library for a while then go take a look, I promise they’re not really the boring old stuffy research based places I was remembering above. In fact they weren’t even then, it’s easy to remember them as that because I was no more than a teenager for most of it and like most teenagers I didn’t appreciate what I had at the time.  I’d love to go back to some of the old libraries I used back then not just for the books but the atmosphere and to re-live those days when I was young and hadn’t yet let the world blind me to any of it’s beauty.

 


walkman

The walkman. Everybody loved their walkman!

*a groundbreaking, state of the art gadget that made our music portable and at least semi private consisting of a plastic box that was always slightly too big to fit in your pocket but could accommodate and play a cassette tape which we could then hear through a pair of headphones attached to your ears via a fine metal alice band that moved if you dared to shake your head, if you actually bent right over they’d fall off, And everyone else around around you could hear as well, We loved our walkmans!

Interesting, and promising, idea especially as the technology to do it doesn’t even exist yet.

The world’s oldest jeans brand has announced plans to become the first in the fashion industry to make all of its products from 100 per cent recycled cotton by 2025

Source: Levi’s jeans to make all its products from 100% recycled cotton – Climate Action Programme

Touch wood I now have the anti spam measures in place to allow commenting without needing to register in place. So I’ve turned off the need to register.

First comments by any reader will always need approval but after the first one if you use the same name/email it should, in theory, post your comments immediately. There’s going to be an element of trial and error here and settings may need tweaking as we go but it’ll be much easier, and friendlier, if logging in isn’t essential just to say “Hello.”.

So please do add your thoughts, they will be much appreciated.