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

Cards To Send In Lockdown: Etsy #StandWithSmall

This post contains affiliate links to small businesses on Etsy.

Warning – post contains swears!

Most of you will know I’m a big fan of snail mail. I’ve had the same penpal for 30 years now (Hi Michelle!) and writing letters and cards is something I’ll always cherish, especially when I miss people. Today I want to share some Etsy UK Stationery Finds with you today, as part of their #StandWithSmall campaign.

We’ve been in lockdown for almost 4 weeks in the UK and I’m so grateful for all our posties and delivery drivers keeping the mail moving! I’ve received my prescription, indie food deliveries and cards from friends and family which have lifted my spirits so much.

Here are a few of my favourite UK stationery designers on Etsy if you also want to support small businesses and find some cards to send in lockdown.

Oh Squirrel stock all handmade cards using Katie’s beautiful handwriting, floral designs and fun typography. Most designs have an eco-friendly focus too (bonus!), the cards are made using biodegradable glitter, pressed flowers and recycled board. The floral handmade cards are also a great way to celebrate a spring lockdown birthday and bring nature to someone.

Photography: Holly Booth Studio

You are Bloody Brilliant Glitter Card

Photography: Holly Booth Studio

Pressed Flower Happy Birthday Card

Daphne Rosa offers positive and playful home and paper goods with a newly launched collection of colour block cards. Kate has an amazing eye for colour combos and the hand lettered messages are just perfect for sending a pick me up during the tough days in lockdown.

Photography: Holly Booth Studio

Send Hope & Hugs Card

Photography: Holly Booth Studio

I Miss Your Face Card

Next up, is the bright, playful and inclusive designs of cheerful Canadian Angela Chick. Not only is Angela someone I seek out for chats and banter online, she’s a top notch greetings card designer for pretty much every occasion. I send her cards to pals on the regular and they never fail to make me smile.

This Really Sucks Card

When It's Raining Card

Clare Gray is another eco-friendly stationery designer and she’s local to Cambridge too! Her cards are printed with vegetable based inks, all recyclable and no plastic packaging either. I recently tried out some of Clare’s gift wrap too and it was so luxurious.

Virtual Hug Card

Calming Happy Vibes Card

When you just want to get to the point, Jenna’s latest design for her shop Pilfered is absolutely perfect. I’ve already sent this to the bestie and the guy I’m dating just to get my point across that lockdown is hard without seeing them! Jenna is also out there working on the frontline in healthcare and is an absolute legend.

I Really Fucking Miss You Card

I hope you enjoyed that stationery round up today – all UK based designers, all women and all working hard to keep their businesses going during this difficult time. Each of them are combining their post box drops on a daily exercise outing, or working with couriers for collections if they are self-isolating. It’s amazing to hear how so many small businesses have rapidly adapted to this crazy situation and to ensure they are keeping themselves and others safe.

Don’t forget to check out the #StandWithSmall tag on social media to see more Etsy finds and see the Etsy Editors Picks here.

Stay well 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