At the beginning of last year I was contacted by Ikea about the possibility of our house being included in their Live magazine. To anyone that has visited the house, or seen images of it in other magazines or here on the blog, it probably wouldn't be a shock that Ikea would get in touch.
I love homes with personality, homes that don't look exactly like everyone elses. And I would love to have a home that was full of one off design pieces or amazing junk shop finds. But the truth is, a combination of lack of space and needing to watch the pennies, means that nine times out of ten, when we need something for the home, we head to Ikea. A fact that can not be missed as soon as you enter the house.
But although every room is furnished mainly by ikea, to stop it all looking too mass produced I mix it up with different textiles, art work and vintage pieces, creating a look that I feel reflects who Jim and I are. Although I do use some Ikea textiles, I buy almost all my artwork from Etsy (its the one thing I won't buy from Ikea) and I tend not to buy Ikea cushions. As much as I would love to buy all the Orla, Lisa Stickley etc bedding, most of the time it's just not in my price bracket, so instead I buy Ikea bedding and treat myself to just the pillowcases from the designer sets and mix the two.
It's lovely to see the house in the magazine, although it doesn't mean that we get free ikea furniture as Lily had hoped. Not that we could fit anymore in. Apart from the shoe cabinets we need and the new bedside tables of course.....
Whilst exhibiting at the trade show Top Drawer in London for the first time a couple of weeks ago, I debuted my new Romper suit collection.
I loved rompers when both the girls were little. They're so easy to pull on and off, and they layer up or down really well.
I'm also completely obsessed with piping on clothing at the moment. When I first started making piping and using it on my cushions I knew that I wanted to use it in my childrens clothing, but it's taken me a while to come up with just the right design for it.
I love the way the piping adds an extra layer to such a simple design. The accent of bright colour adds a fun element to the romper, especially when teamed with almost utilitarian ginghams and linens.
And I love the fact that this is such an easy design to wear. When Bella was a baby I chose lots of beautifully designed clothes for her. But time and again I found myself putting her in the same easy to put on and easy to wear clothes and found that I didn't like anything too fitted or anything that would hinder her rolling about. Which is why I stick to simple designs that have plenty of space for comfort and growth and try to offset the simplicity by introducing more sophisticated pops of colour and detail.
These are available in sizes that range from 6 months to 3 years and are in the shop now.
One of my bug bears is watching the girls run in to school wearing a lovely (often new) warm scarf, only to see them run out hours later, not only without the scarf, but with no idea where it is, because at some point during the day it's dropped off and they have no idea where or when.
And one of Bella's bug bears, is having something wrapped too tightly around her neck, so that it won't drop off while she's running around.
So, the very obvious solution (after making grown up snoods for the last few years), was to make snoods for children.
The main problem with wool snoods for children is the itchiness, so to combat that, as well as making the snood even warmer, I've lined them with cotton jersey.
The lining also makes the snoods look a bit more fun, and if they really wanted to, they can be reversed.
Both Lily and Bella (who snarfed the first few that I made), have worn them constantly. They both agree that they don't itch, (unlike Bella's new expensive scarf that I bought her just before making the snoods!) and most importantly, they don't fall off!
I can tell you what it's like to design something new and not be able to show it to the person who's opinion I valued the most. Or to write a blog post and to get no feedback about whether it's any good.
But it's so much harder to just write about new clothing designs or my collection of patchwork crocodiles, without sounding hollow to my ears.
I'm assuming though that like so many other things in life, if you just keep doing it, it will get easier and become normal again. I know that whenever I get stuck with new designs and lose my sewing mojo, I just keep making familiar designs, until everything goes back to normal.
Which is how I'm also facing my life on a daily basis. I'm doing all the things I used to do. And at some point, it will all seem normal and natural again. I'll stop feeling like I'm forcing the conversations that I dont really care about, and that the words that I say over and over again, every single day..."I'm fine thanks"...will actually start being true.
So I'll just keep going and tell you about my patchwork crocs, that come in 5 colourways - blue, green, yellow, orange and pink and that are all a little bit different, with their fabric combinations and soft tummys.
And I'll hope that tomorrow, when I write again, it will be just a tiny bit easier.
I've been working a lot recently on new childrens clothes, using a new range of fabrics that I really do love for lots of new girls blouses, tunics and trousers.
And because the question I get asked more than any other is 'when am I going to design some boys clothes', I've finally designed some boys clothes!
At the moment it's just simple tunics and trousers, but I'm pleased to have finally made a start. It's a lot harder to design clothes for boys that aren't boring or the same as everything else that's around. So as with the girls collection, I've relied on my choice of fabrics to hopefully elevate the simple designs in to something a little more interesting.
Thank you to everyone that has left comments and sent encouraging emails about the loss of my mum. I'm obviously still trying to come to terms with everything that has happened and how different our lives are now.
I've been lucky enough to have work to try and focus on when I've desperately needed distraction. And even if I haven't wanted it, the deadlines of two Country Living Fairs (one 4 days after mums funeral) have meant that I've had to buckle down and get on with things.
Doing the Country Living Fair in London was one of the hardest things I've done. I was unable to make the amount of stock that I wanted to make and was on my own for the full five days, but I'm pleased that I got through it.
I'm now finishing getting ready for Country Living Harrogate, which opens next week.
This is the first year that Country Living have held a fair in Harrogate and I'm quite excited about it, especially as it's so close to home, and features so many great designer/makers as well as a lot of great retailers. The CL Fairs always have a great atmosphere, especially the Christmas ones, and I'm hoping that with this being the first in Harrogate (which is especially beautiful at this time of the year), this one will be even more fun.
To get in the mood for the season of giving, I've got 3 tickets to give away for the Country Living Fair, to be used on any of the 4 days except the Saturday. All you have to do to get hold of one, is leave me a comment and on Sunday, if there are more than 3 people wanting one, I'll pull a name out of a (proverbial) hat.
Having just published this post, I've realised that one of the reasons I've not wanted to blog in the last month, is that in the 7 years that I've been writing this blog, I've followed every single post with a phone call or text to my mum to tell her that I've blogged, or to ask her what she thought of my post. My blog has always been something that my mum was very proud of, and that made me proud. As much as I've enjoyed all the comments and emails and friendships that have happened as a result of writing this blog, the reality is that I always really wrote it for my mum to read. And that's what gave it meaning for me.
As soon as I finished writing this post I automatically reached for my phone. But like so many things now, I have to find a new reason for doing this.