New Blog: Cycles & Satchels

It’s time for a fresh start! I’ve launched a new blog over at Cycles and Satchels which I’m really excited to be sharing with you.

I realised the reason I had struggled to blog in this space in 2020 was because I have outgrown it.

As Claireabellemakes was linked to my business, it’s also time to close the door on this chapter and venture into a new online space.

So this will be my last post here on Claireabellemakes and if you’re interested to see what I get up to next, come and join me over at Cycles and Satchels. I’m really excited about the new start!

The Cambridge Satchel Company – Picnic Collection & Notebooks (Gifted)

As non-essential shops continue to reopen around the UK, I had the opportunity to visit The Cambridge Satchel Company this week to take a look at their new collections and range of leather notebooks.

Made in the UK, the Cambridge Satchel Company notebooks are 100% leather with lined pages, available in a number of different colours. The new Bluebell Matte A5 notebook (which was kindly gifted) is absolutely gorgeous. The leather is really soft and embossing options range from logos (I went for the bike logo obvs) to lettering for personalising it with your initials.

It was great to be able to browse the new satchel collections in the Cambridge store which is all safely set up for Covid with sanitiser stations and limited customer numbers. The team are always so happy to chat whilst I collate my mental shopping list to work out which colours I want to add to my personal collection.

The new Chilli Jam satchel colours caught my eye, especially combined with the blue which is named Midnight Picnic. Orange and Blue are a perfect match in my eyes.

Another winner in the Picnic Collection is the Lemon Curd Daisy Bag and I adore the Rambling Rose pink satchels with gold hardware.

Now that travel is opening up around the world, I also had a look at the travel accessories including the leather passport covers. It actually reminded me to renew my passport so I can hopefully take a few trips next year. As always, Amsterdam is on my list as well as visiting a friend in Cyprus for some sunshine.

The classic satchel colours are always available too – the red satchel was my first ever one when the brand began so it’s great to see it on display.

Now I need to get over the first page fear of starting a new notebook for the Bluebell Matte beauty. I might use it in a few months as a 2021 journal….it feels like we need a fresh start on the year in so many ways!

I hope you have enjoyed a look at the new collections and if you get a chance do pop into the Cambridge store as I promise the satchel colours are even better in person.

If you’re not able to visit, the full collections are available online and they offer 10% off if you sign up to the newsletter.

Claire x

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and gifted items.

Easy Crochet Baby Blanket Patterns

The weather has turned here in the UK and the urge to stay indoors under a blanket has been strong. With a few friends welcoming new arrivals in lockdown, I’ve been busy working on some easy crochet baby blanket patterns to keep the little ones warm.

I started with a simple pastel granny square baby blanket for Leon using Paintbox Yarns Cotton DK. It’s a super affordable wool for baby blankets and was great to work with. A granny square is an easy crochet pattern for beginners and this is just one giant one, so you can keep going round and round without thinking too much.


Next up was the Rainbow Ripple Baby Blanket which I made in pinks and greys for baby Niya who arrived a couple of weeks early in August.

The crochet ripple pattern is a really relaxing one to do once you get into the rhythm of it and all you need to learn is the treble stitch (Double in US).

Here’s mama Niv with the finished blanket which was made with Rico Baby Classic DK – so soft!

I also made this rainbow ripple baby blanket about 4 years ago now when my niece arrived using the Paintbox Yarns Cotton DK.

This one is about a year old now, a granny stripe baby blanket with a simple treble stitch edging. Also made with Rico Baby Classic DK in greys and white.

I used a pom pom maker to add pom poms to each of the corners.

Hannah and Ian welcomed twins Seb and Zoe just before lockdown, so I ventured away from crochet baby blankets to make these cute elephant comforters. The pattern is great if you’re venturing into amigurumi for the first time and they are pretty quick to make if you aren’t keen on a more involved blanket project.

This summer has been quiet for the blog, but I’m planning to share more creative projects in the next few months, as well as an update on summer 2020 and life this year. Hopefully there are still some of you out there reading!

Claire x

Lockdown Diaries – Cambridge During COVID-19

It’s hard to know where to begin. The world is experiencing a global crisis and somehow writing a blog seems insignificant and a bit odd.

However, this space has evolved into a personal journal for me and despite a few months of neglect, I feel compelled to document and to share again.

Wherever you are in the world, Corona virus is having an impact. Sometimes, it is hard to comprehend just how much of an in impact because it feels so surreal. But as the situation progresses, I have found myself experiencing the reality and consequences in so many different ways. Loved ones have lost jobs, friends are in isolation and family members are struggling to get basic supplies. Like many, I am experiencing anxiety and have realised I need to check on the news just once a day in order to protect my mental health. I have felt anger when I hear of others selfishly living life as if they were before this awful disease took over everything. I feel sadness when I see the death toll and the strain on our health system. It is a massive rollercoaster of emotions.

The lockdown in the UK has been a wake up call and has highlighted so many things I took for granted in life. I am hugely grateful we are still able to go our for solitary exercise each day, but living in a city, I have found it difficult to avoid people at times.

On Friday 27 March I took my lunch break from working at home at 2pm and decided to cycle through the city centre for daily exercise. In the 14 years I have lived in Cambridge, I have never experienced it like this.

No bikes, no cars, no people. All shops and restaurants closed.

Kings Parade is usually the busiest tourist hotspot. Not in lockdown.

The Corpus Clock with no one infront of it.

The Mill Pond without any punts or people. So strange to see.

I took a couple of videos whilst cycling the empty streets.

As the situation takes hold, like many, I am trying to find a new normal and take each day as it comes. I am feeling very grateful to be able to work from home and for video calls with family and friends who are distancing or in isolation. My flatmate and I are taking moments to appreciate our home and spending time together after work to try and separate home and work life.

Dating at a distance in a lockdown has been another challenge to get my head (and heart) around. But I know that it is a minor adjustment in comparison to others who are struggling with so much more.

If you are isolating during this tough time, I am open to finding light together on the difficult days. My flatmate Emily reminded me that literally the whole world is in this together and I feel there is strength and comfort in that thought alone.

Stay safe and well x

Year of Claire – December and the year end

I can’t quite believe my Year of Claire project has come to an end. One whole year of focusing on myself and prioritising personal growth. There were highs and lows, lots of laughs and plenty of change.

Before I reflect on the entire year, here’s a little round up of what happened in December!

My work schedule was incredibly hectic for the entire month (more on this later), but I managed a couple of quick catch ups with friends. I visited the Mill Road Winter Fair (that tartiflette was amazing), crocheted a baby blanket for friends and walked Leo for Hannah and Ian.

My job as a Facilities Coordinator was very busy in December! The tech firm I work for were moving to a new office and it was our Department who managed it all and worked on the fit out. As a Department of only 4 people it was a lot of work (250 staff to move!), but a great project to be part of.

We worked long long hours and weekends too, but it was worth it! My boss and I are really proud of the new space. My favourite part of the project was working with a plant contractor and picking furniture for the Library space. Despite the exhaustion and hard graft (we cleared the old office too so I am a pro at chucking stuff in a skip and moving crates now!), I’m grateful to have had the chance to throw myself into work this year.

The day we started to move offices was also our work Christmas do. We decided to pop by for the meal for a couple of hours break, so I got ready in 15 minutes and rushed off to our NYC themed bash. My work colleagues are so much fun, so I was glad to make it for a while.

Jo and I decided to throw a more low key Christmas do for the Cambridge Creatives group this year. We met for drinks and delicious vegetarian meze at Thirsty and Hungry. We got very tiddly on a school night, but it was great to celebrate everyone’s achievements and let our hair down a bit. Even though I’m no longer running my shop. I’m happy I still get to hang out with my creative pals in the city!

Even though I had limited time to get festive this year, Em and I managed to get a tree and I had Christmas Day and Boxing Day off work to spend with family. I watched TV with the pets, saw my Grandad, played games with my cousins and read festive books with my youngest niece.

December was definitely the most hectic month of the entire year.

The Year of Claire project was one where I continued to embrace change and positivity and it felt good. I had a couple of weekends away to Amsterdam and Brighton. I upped my fitness regime and got stronger. I worked on my anxiety through therapy. I moved out of a houseshare into a wonderful flat with Em. I did so much flat pack. I fell in love and had my heart broken. I went on dates and met some great people who opened my mind and heart again. I closed the door on my business and threw myself into work. I got creative for fun again. I spent a lot of time with friends and family making memories. I rode my bike. I went paddleboarding. I flew in a vintage plane over my city. I drank coffee and went for solo brunches. I read books. I ate a lot of ice cream.

I’m hoping 2020 will allow me more time to blog, make, date, and work. I haven’t set any goals yet, but I’ll be taking January to reflect and plan in my new journal.

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!