It's exactly two years since I first walked up the winding wooden stairs of the cosy little café that had recently opened at the bottom of town. I remember it as if it were yesterday, that feeling of bubbling excitement and amazement, it was like standing on the edge of a dream world not daring to believe it could actually be real. Finding myself a studio space to work from really was a dream come true for me, I had so often wished for it over the years since my art college days, daydreamed about it, talked about the possibility of it with friends.
Do you remember me telling you the story? It took Tracy and I almost a month to renovate the tired old room, bringing it back to life with a lot of hard graft and optimism. But it was SO worth it and as we each settled in to the room, we managed to create a beautiful, colourful, inspiring place to share and work. Over the past two years, we opened our doors to friends and visitors and held a number of Open Studio days (you can read about our very first one here). Tracy worked hard on her "Handmade Over Yonder" textile business and I ran my first lot of crochet workshops....
.... and our cosy little textile studio became a well established place for us to each carry out our creative work.
On the first floor above the café, there are actually four rooms in total. Our old studio room is the biggest and stretches the length of the building with windows at both the front and the back. Next door there is a smaller room which is used by the café, providing extra seating for café customers. It's at the front of the building and has a square window set into the very thick old walls. It also has oodles of character - the picture above was taken in December when it was all decked out for Christmas....
....you can see that this room also has the same beautiful old wooden floor boards as well as a rustic open fireplace. It's much smaller than our studio room and not quite as bright, but there is a delightful atmosphere in here that makes it feel special.
In October when Tracy decided to work from home, the café owners announced that they would quite like to use the opportunity to have a bit of a change around upstairs. In the time since our studio had been established, the café had grown increasingly popular and was in desperate need of more space. It seemed the obvious thing for us to swap rooms, for the café to take the larger room and for me to transfer my clutter to the smaller room.
So at the very beginning of the year, everything was swapped about and I began the task of making this new room my own.
It wasn't too big a job, and I enjoyed working there each day and seeing the transformation slowly take place.
The walls were painted a soft grey which had suited the café, but I wanted to maximise the light and provide a clean backdrop for all my colourful stuff. White emulsion went onto all the walls (three coats of it) and then it was time to add some colour.....
....I was inspired by Tracy's love of this gorgeous shade (she painted up a thrifted table for the studio, and I had also used it to paint a little peg shelf) . It's a glorious, warm shade of blue called "Blue Ground" by Farrow & Ball and I had a strong desire to see this colour on one wall in my new studio..........
...........oh yum!!!! The colour is incredibly uplifting and happy, reminding me of soft summer skies and calm seas.
The colour changes a lot depending on the light and sometimes looks slightly grey, but having it on only one wall keeps the room looking light and bright.
Do you like my butterfly picture? I have to thank Lou of Little Green Shed blog for this - I noticed it hanging on her wall in the background of a snap on Facebook, thinking it was an expensive arty print. When I admired it and asked where it was from, she told me it was actually a sheet of wrapping paper! So I googled "butterfly wrapping paper" and sure enough I managed to find it online (similar on Amazon here ). Popped into an Ikea Ribba frame, it looks amazing and I am smitten with those pretty butterflies. In fact, I am planning on attempting to crochet some butterflies this year and this chart will provide some great reference material.
So...........would you like a little tour of my studio?
It's not quite finished yet, I've still got a little shelf to hang and I'd also like to create a big sample/inspiration pinboard on one wall, but actually I just can't wait any longer to share it with you!!
Come in, come in, make yourself at home! I'm going to walk and talk you round the room, are you ready?
As you come in the door, to the left is my Yarn Wall. It took me aaaaaaaaaages to arrange these shelves as I had a good sort out of my considerable yarn stash at the same time. I'll move around a bit to show you more......
.....ooooooooooooh, just feast your eyes on that little lot! I've got two Ikea Billy Bookcases side by side here which are perfect for yarn storage purposes. The best thing about them is that once you've bought the bookcase (which comes with 1 fixed shelf and 4 adjustable shelves), you can buy additional shelves to add in so that you can tailor your storage to suit your yarn/book needs.
I find it incredibly inspiring to be able to see all my yarn set out like this, it feeds my creativity on a daily basis. My shelves mostly contain Stylecraft Special (two shelves of DK and one shelf of Chunky) and a mixture of Drops yarns (merinos in various weights and the left over Alpaca/wool from my poncho). The clear tubs towards the bottom contain my cotton yarns - Drops Paris, Muskat and Cotton Light, plus Rowan Handknit and some Debbie Bliss cotton.
I keep my crochet books on these shelves too, it's lovely having them all in one place.
Moving round, awww there's my beautiful blue wall and butterfly wrap....lets step back a tad and I'll show you a bit more.....
I've got my old farmhouse pine table in the middle of the room now, with a motley assortment of thrifted and gifted chairs around. I usually sit at the head of the table in the blue painted chair there, it's a lovely place to work and I've felt very inspired being surrounded by so much colour every day.
The biggest change for me in this room has been the arrival of a new computer. I found an old side table at the local collectors centre which was just the right size to tuck into the corner there next to the window.
Although it's still early days (I only got the computer about a fortnight ago), having a computer at the studio has transformed my daily routine. I had gotten into the habit of coming home after the school run to use my computer in the mornings, then heading to the studio to spend a few hours once all my admin/writing work was done. Often the studio time disappeared almost completely as being at home I was quite easily distracted (no surprises there!). But with a computer at the studio now I head there straight after school, arriving at 9am to have a coffee and get straight down to work. I spend the first part of my day catching up with emails and social media, then I either choose to write my blog (I wrote my first post there last week) or spend time doing creative work.
During the past fortnight, some days I've happily spent all day (six hours) at the studio and other days I've stayed until after lunch before heading home to do a few bits and pieces prior to the afternoon school run. I'm hopeful that my days will be much more productive with this routine, with a good balance between work and home. I'm also hoping to get back into the habit of writing my blog during the day when I'm generally much more full of energy, rather than at 8pm when often I am just too tired for it at the moment.
The day was very bright when I took these photos - that bright patch of nothingness on the left is the window next to my desk. I've got one of my old Lloyd Loom chairs there right next to the window for times when I want to crochet and need good natural light.
Aww, I just LOVE that dilapidated old sideboard! I spotted it two summers ago outside a local restaurant and rescued it from landfill, you can read more about it here. It's great for storage but also makes a beautiful display area too. I bought the old oak book case from eBay for £20, this area is still a work in progress but at the moment it holds an assortment of favourite objects which make me smile every day.
This is the wall directly opposite the blue wall. I've got another Lloyd Loom chair tucked up in the corner there (for cold days when I want to sit and crochet next to the radiator!) I'm planning on creating a large inspiration board on this wall, a place to pin up crochet samples, cards, colour ideas, photos etc which will change depending on what I'm working on.
I've been making up some crochet "colour blocks" for each of my blanket packs as a visual reference for the studio. The above one shows my original colour choices for the Granny Stripe blanket which is almost 5 years old now. By the way, I've been writing up the colour stripe order for the granny stripe with a more detailed set of instructions for making the blanket as so many people keep writing to ask for it. Hopefully I'll have that finished and ready to share very soon.
I love surrounding myself with colour, it continues to totally rock my world. Looking at the colour blocks for the four blanket packs I've already made makes me so happy! I love each one of them and the memories attached to the resulting blankets, but I absolutely love-love-love seeing them all together. Thinking - wouldn't it be amAZing to make a full colourful patchwork crochet blanket with these little 3-round target squares????!
I've been working on fresh colour ideas for my next set of projects which I am soooo excited about!! This is one of MANY colour palettes I've been pondering over for my next blanket (using my new granny square design, oh the excitement of a new granny blanket!). I'll be choosing fifteen super-pretty colours of Stylecraft Special DK with a happy Spring/Summer feel to them - my heart is going boom-boom at the sight of this photo, I kid you not! I really am not normal.
Talking of Stylecraft colours, there will be some fabulous news coming very soon regarding a very SpEcIaL competition, I can hardly wait to share with you. All will be revealed in the March edition of Lets Knit magazine (out on 20th Feb) - I just know that all you colour/yarn lovers out there are going to absolutely love it - keep a look out for more details at the end of next week.
Well my lovelies, it's been an absolute pleasure to chat with you, thanks as always for stopping by. Back soon....
ps I'll be running some crochet workshops at the studio from March-July, hoping to have dates and more details of those very soon x