Life Lately #17: It’s Been A While

As the title says, it’s been a while! Life has been hectic and ever changing this summer so I’m here with an update on what I’ve been up to.

It’s been a sociable summer for creative events, but Jo and I decided not to run a Cambridge Creatives photo walk this year. Jo married Will (catch up on her amazing wedding blog series here) and has been rather busy enjoying some adventures, so we decided on a more low key punting and picnic event this time around. It was a lovely relaxed day with lots of familiar faces and we even had a puppy attend! Thanks to Siobhan for these ace photos.
Cambridge Creatives Punting Cambridge Creatives Summer Picnic Claireabellemakes-HelloSunshine The last few months have also been filled with self care and I’ve been attempting to exercise multiple times a week. After my elimination diet for migraines in April, I have been feeling healthy and I think my new fitness regime has really helped. I’m combining the gym with yoga and weekly swims at the Lido. I used to hate swimming but the early morning outdoor experience has really been refreshing and enjoyable!
Jesus Green Lido Cambridge The UK heatwave has meant I’ve spent a ton of time outdoors this summer. One ridiculously hot day was the London In Colourful Company walk and we also met up in Margate for the annual trip to the Dreamland theme park. It was the perfect seaside day out filled with ice cream, roller coasters and fish and chips to end.

In-Colourful-Company-Walks My personal life has been changing a lot too and I have been packing down my studio. I decided to close my shop for August to take some time to move house and adjust to a smaller space. It has been sad and challenging, but I am determined to make everything work.

My life circumstances have also meant that I decided to go back to a day job on a full-time basis. I’m excited to have a secure, regular income again and will be figuring out how to fit the business around that. I did it for 4 years at the beginning, so I am sure I can do it again! I’m lucky to have worked for a great tech company on a part time basis for the last 18 months and will be increasing my hours there and learning lots of new things.
Claireabellemakes Break timeDespite the shop being closed, there have been some lovely customer snaps being shared on social media. I’ve also taken some time to update to more eco-friendly packaging for my products and I am designing lots of new things behind the scenes!Claireabellemakes-pins-necklaces-packaging Moving has meant I have also had a new space to adapt to and decorate! I have enjoyed selecting what prints to put on the walls as well as arranging my house plants and picking cushions and bedding.
Claireabellemakes-New-SpaceDespite having all the changes and lots of fun this summer, I have been doing some freelance work too. The beginning of August marked the start of Copenhagen Fashion Week where 15 of these stunning bicycles were used as part of Net-A-Porter’s campaign. I was commissioned to make the handlebar streamers for the bikes and it’s been amazing to see how everything was styled! You can see lots more images and videos over on the Net-A-Porter Instagram.
Net-A-Porter Bicycles Copenhagen Fashion Week

Photo credit: Dan Roberts StudioTammy-Studio-Cat

It’s now time to continue the studio pack down and give this one a little squishy cuddle. Hope you’re all having a great summer? Tell me what you’ve been up to!

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Amara Interior Blog Awards & Life Update!

Hello! I’m back in the land of blogging! We are still away on our holidays at the moment, but I’ve scheduled some content for the next few days until I am back in person. (My shop will remain on holiday until 15 September).

Having a blog break was really great and helped me to avoid burnout. Life was extremely busy in August, so the break was not quite as relaxing as I had hoped. One thing I achieved was that I did finally sort out the studio and I’ll be sharing some updates to that very soon.

So what’s new around here? I joined Periscope which is quite fun. You can find me there as Claireabellemakes. So far I’ve shared some snippets of life in my studio, a little tour of Cambridge, some events I’ve attended and clips of Tammy.

You may remember that I’ve been nominated for best DIY and Craft blog in the Amara Interior Blog awards. The voting ends on 18 September, so if you’re reading this before then, I would be so grateful for your support! You can vote by clicking the image below.Claireabellemakes-Amara-Interior-Awards-nominee-2015

I’ve also been applying for the Christmas market season (oh no, the “C word”!) so I’m hoping I can announce some dates for you to catch me in person with my makes if you’re here in the UK. I’m really excited to be a vendor at Crafty Fox for the first time in October, so come along on the 10th in Peckham if you’d like to say hello!

Crafty Fox Autumn Markets 2015

I also have a design out in a new book – Crochet Barefoot Sandals. I love being a contributing designer to crochet titles, as I always learn something new each time I write a pattern! The little blue and pink hearts sandal at the top is my pattern.

Crochet Barefoot Sandals

Later this week I’ll be sharing a look at this month’s Lucky Dip Club box that I was involved with, and later this week I’ll share some shots from a food photography workshop I attended recently!

So now you can see why life has not been so quiet. I hope you’ve all had a fantastic summer?

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Happy Birthday Tammy Cat

Yesterday was Tammy’s 11th birthday. We’ve had her for 10 years now and I swear she gets cuter every day.

G has been at home on sabbatical for a year and he sends me pictures throughout the day of Tammy doing cute things. I think I’ll miss that when he returns to work next month! I might have to get a Pet Cube….

So, in honour of my best studio companion ever, here are some cuter than cute photos of Tammy. Sorry if you’re not a cat fan, but hopefully you can appreciate the squishy face.

Tammy-Sad-Persian-Cat Tammy-Claireabellemakes-Persian-CatTammy-Persian-Cat Persian-Cat-Claireabellemakes Tammy-Persian-CatPersian-Cat-Claireabellemakes Sleepy-Persian-Cat TammyHappy Birthday Fluffy Cat!!

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Migraine Awareness Week 2015 – My Story

As it is migraine awareness week in the USA, I have been inspired to share a little about my condition. Usually it’s craft and positivity around here, so I hope you wont mind if I share a serious subject today. There will also be a little humour I promise.

I believe that in the UK, migraine is the least funded of all neurological conditions, yet 10% of the population suffer. This is more than diabetes, asthma and epilepsy sufferers combined. There are a number of resources I regularly use for information and management of my condition, so I will share these at the end of this post.

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This is what I look like an hour or so before a migraine comes on – oblivious but you can see my left eye is starting to drop ever so slightly!

Fellow migraine sufferer Gemma wrote this post which has inspired me to share my experience with migraine, so here are 30 questions to spread some awareness.

1) My diagnosis: Migraine without aura

2) Migraine attack frequency: around 2-3 a week.

3) I was diagnosed: around my teenage years, but I didn’t get specialist help until I was 28.

4) My comorbid conditions include: fatigue, IBS, anxiety.

5) I take: Triptans, daily preventative drugs, Naproxen and nausea meds (walking pharmacy!)

6) My first migraine attack: was many years ago as a young teen but I don’t remember it specifically.

7) My most disabling symptoms are: searing head pain, asphasia (loss of speech) and dizziness.

8) Strangest migraine symptoms: speech issues – it is crazy and embarassing if it happens when you are meeting people for the first time or if you’re at the checkout in the supermarket. I’ve also had hemi-plegic attacks which appear via stroke like symptoms – SUPER scary.

9) Biggest migraine triggers are: stress, neck pain, dehydration, lack of routine (holidays and travelling are the worst!).

10) I know a migraine is coming on when: I feel sick, yawn lots and my neck hurts.

11) The most frustrating part about having a migraine attack is: it halts your daily activities so much.

12) During a migraine attack, I worry most about: my to do list getting longer whilst I rest.

13) When I think about migraine between attacks, I think: It sucks so much but I have so much to be positive about.

14) When I tell someone I have migraine, the response is usually: sympathetic followed by ‘have you tried xyz’.

15) When someone tells me they have migraine, I think: you poor person I hope they find us a cure soon!

16) When I see commercials about migraine treatments, I think: anything is worth a try.

17) My best coping tools are: my migra-cap, hugs from G and fish finger sandwiches.

18) I find comfort in: cat cuddles (she lays on my head) and crochet – it’s a great distraction.

19) I get angry when people say: ‘you should do this, my friend did it and it worked’ – everyone is different.

20) I like it when people say: ‘how are you/been thinking of you’.

21) Something kind someone can do for me during a migraine attack is: leave flowers on my doorstep (a friend has done this for me and it was amazing), bring me a coca-cola and some fish fingers, give me a hug.

22) The best thing(s) a doctor has ever said to me about migraine is: ‘there is a menu of medicine to try, let’s work our way through them and you can review’ ha!

23) The hardest thing to accept about having migraine is: there is no cure and may not be one in my lifetime (although I still hope).

24) Migraine has taught me: to be productive and make the most of my well days.

25) The quotation, motto, mantra, or scripture that gets me through an attack is: It will pass, just hang in there. And if it doesn’t, G will take you to the emergency doctor and take photos of you looking like shit on the mini chairs in the waiting room.

26) If I could go back to the early days of my diagnosis, I would tell myself: migraine will be in your life forever, but you will not let it defeat you – stay happy.

27) The people who support me most are: G, my Mum (she suffers too), My Dad, My sister and my friends. Also, my migraine twitter buddies and fellow spoonies – you know who you are.

28) The thing I most wish people understood about migraine is: it is debilitating and so much more than just a headache.

29) Migraine and Headache Awareness Month is important to me because: it brings suffers together.

30) One more thing I’d like to say about life with migraine is: although it is a big part of my life, it doesn’t define me. If you know someone with migraine, talk to them about it.

Migraine-Awareness-Week

That visit to the emergency doctor when I tried to remain positive – see my left eye for an indication of pain! Excuse my outfit and hair, it was not my priority at that moment 🙂

I hope that was interesting for some of you! If you have read to the end, I’ve done my job of raising awareness of migraine. Here are the resources I use regularly.

National Migraine Centre – where I sought help

The Migraine Trust – Great for resources and advocacy / advice

Migraine Buddy App – How I track my attacks

Migraine Action – A supportive charity for sufferers / great events

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Ask Me Anything 2015: The Answers

It’s time for me to answer your questions for my Ask Me Anything series! Thanks to those of you who took time to leave a question and for being kind 🙂 Here we go…..

Gill asked “what’s your favourite thing to make? Also, how do you pose for photos and look so natural?!”

That’s a tough question! I do love to crochet and making garments is always really satisfying. However, I love making the personalised Scrabble Inspired Wall Art pieces for my customers as each one has a story or meaning attached. I recently made one for a groom to give to his bride and it touched me how romantic he was!

Valentines-Scrabble-Wall-Art-Love-Forever-Claireabellemakes

Oh and I definitely don’t look natural all the time. Here’s a dodgy outtake from my photoshoot!

Claireabellemakes-Outtakes

Jo asked “Is Cambridge a good place to be a crochet fanatic? For example, is there a network of crafters, lots of good supplies, places to sell crocheted items? I’m moving back to Cambridge myself next year and would love to hear your view.”

Hi Jo! How exciting you are moving back to Cambridge!! If you are a crochet fanatic I would recommend visiting our local yarn stores Sew Creative and The Sheep Shop. Our John Lewis department store also has a good supply of yarn. Ravelry is a great place to find craft groups and there are a few dotted around the city, often held in cafes or pubs. Most people who sell crocheted items actually sell online, but I would recommend talking to the LYS for more advice on this!

Crochet-Ripple-Blanket

Jill said “I’d love to know more about your journey towards becoming a small business owner. How did you start? What has been your biggest challenge? How do you have the confidence to put yourself out there?! Any advice for someone wanting to start their own etsy store?”

My business has grown quite organically and having worked a day job alongside, I have had the financial security to take some risks which has helped. I began writing this blog in 2012 and shortly after I opened my store and then began freelance writing and hosting craft parties.  I love learning so just read blogs, books, articles and took classes along the way. One of the biggest challenges has been finding a balance between work life and home/social life. I find it really tough to have a day off now! My confidence has grown over the years and largely because people have interacted with my blog or purchased a product I’ve made. Everything takes time.

If you’re interested in starting an Etsy store I would recommend doing your research first and spending time on photography as it is so important for getting your items noticed. A good place to start is with the Etsy seller handbook. If you use this link to open your store, you will get 40 free listings.

Business-Card-Giveaway-Claireabellemakes

Lucinda asked “what was your favourite product you’ve developed and sold and why? Where is your favourite Cambridge place and the most important question must be why is Tammy so cute?”

I think it has to be the bicycle bracelets. I feel like they represent Cambridge for me and to see them sell so massively during the Tour De France last year, was so great!

Orange-Bicycle-BraceletMy favourite place in Cambridge is the river! I am lucky enough to live close to the riverside and I always feel like it is a space to breathe. Plus, I love punting in the summer as the vibe on the river is so fun. Don’t tell anyone, but it took me 6 years to learn how to punt.

Punting-Cambridge

Glad you enjoy Tammy pics on the blog. I have to say, this one that Lucy took on our photoshoot is my favourite!

Claireabellemakes-Persian-Cat-Tammy

Alice asked “If crafting was illegal what lengths would you go to that would ensure you could continue?” and “What was the last really vivid dream you had?”.

Wow that first question is tough!! I think I would just craft in my own home behind closed doors! I guess it if was illegal it would be difficult to find supplies, so I reckon I would make my own supplies such as cutting up old clothes for fabric and unravelling old jumpers to get yarn. I would probably have secret craft parties in my house too. Don’t tell!

Hmm the last vivid dream I had…..I can’t even remember! Oh yes! I recently took up roller skating and I dreamt I was AMAZING at it. When I woke up I was super disappointed as I realised it wasn’t true and I’d have to keep practising.

Craft-Lay-Make-It-Sewcial

Pippa asked “I want to learn how to make my own cards as you have inspired me – how would you recommend I start?”

So glad to have inspired you! Definitely experiment and find other card makers that inspire you (I recommend the Sizzix blog and not just because I write for them!). A lot of the cards I make have a simplistic style, so play around with supplies and ideas until you find your style and most importantly, just have fun with it! Mixed media cards are often fun too, so maybe try to combine different materials such as images, fabric, paper etc? Please do share anything you create with me, I’d love to see!

Home-Sweet-Home-Scrabble-Card

Well that was fun! Thanks so much to everyone who asked a question and let’s just hope that crafting never becomes illegal…….I can’t even imagine it!

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