OK so it has been over 4 months since that last blog...all those good intentions to write more often...oops!
Well today finds me trapped in my bedroom with a laptop and four snoozing spaniels, who I am having to entertain so the poor plasterer can get on with the house renovations and hubby can work in peace in my office...so a laptop and some relaxation...yay blog time!
December is probably my favourite month for so many reasons. It is that part of the year where the cool air begins to nip at toes and fingers and icy mornings become more frequent...we have yet to have snow! I am currently looking out the window over the valley cloaked in a crisp white silken gossamer from this morning's frost, the sun is weak but the subtle glow highlights wisps of the morning mist and catches the frost in little light fractals as it tips over the valley's edge....simply breath-taking.
December is obviously the real start of the festive season for many and for me too as a completely over the top Christmas decorator, so being covered in glitter and sparkle is normal ... as is letting the house work go out the window for a while, because no matter how many times I vacuum up that snow stuff it still drifts across the floor from the nativity scene and the tree! I love decorating the house, it was mum's big thing when we were children and so I think the gene is in all three of the girls. December is also the month of her birthday...and the month we said goodbye when she left us in the late hours of Christmas Night 9 years ago..so the complete full-on Christmas is definitely a nod to my wonderful mum who I know will be watching me this year with some horror given there is not a single piece of tinsel in sight, but spaniels, glitter and plaster dust are not a great mix...it is OK Mum....I'll make up for it next year!
This is the time that I begin my annual pilgrimage down memory lane, like many others, and have a nostalgic look back at the year both personally and in business terms. I have just received my makers work planner so have also been undertaking a pragmatic (well sort of!) review of the business.
It has been quite a whirlwind. Just 12 months ago I was knee deep in paint and Ikea instruction manuals in the studio and praying my poor longarm had survived the journey West! Then suddenly it was spring, the sun began to add warmth to the day and my studio was bright, pretty and ready for action.
Despite having already run the experiences back in Hertfordshire it was quite nerve racking to begin again. I knew there were lots of patchworkers and quilters here but did they want to come along and have a go at the longarm themselves?...the million dollar question!
It was great to get some early exposure from Liz and Pete at Pinhole Quilting when they came to set up Stumpy for me in the new studio. I have to admit I was not pleased at all at the time, but they wanted to do a video interview about the new experiences...my first time in front of a camera... Liz gave me no time to run!
However that session was not so bad and it put me in front of the the quilting fraternity, but also gave me ideas for some further videos and hence my You Tube channel was born. Somewhere to put just a few videos about the studio, life here at Bumbleberry Cottage and of course following on from that I have been able to run a few Facebook live sessions... and my ease in front of the live camera is getting better slowly!
I also owe a huge amount this year to the delightful Kate at Calico Kate in Lampeter. Most of my followers know this is my go-to fabric shop...and what a place to call Heaven..12 rooms of fabric! Kate has been incredibly supportive and allowed me to join her in a number of ventures that put The Stumpy Quilter front and centre of shop displays and advertising. Kate has also joined me as an Amara longarm owner, so we have had plenty of fun times together...I wonder what you call a group of longarmers.?..I think we should be known as a tension of longarmers ...most quilters will get the subtle joke there...
So with my name on the map people started arriving and booking in...lots of them....woo hoo!
I have felt very privileged this year to have met so many quilters and patchworkers, both those locally and those that have travelled far for a visit to Bumblebury Cottage. All have been on a different part of their quilting journey, but I think they would all agree we have had an absolute blast at the studio, be it on a 1-2-1 day or a taster session with a group of us chatting and quilting the day away. I have thoroughly enjoyed the social aspect and have made some great new friends in this stunning little part of West Wales. Each session is so unique because every quilt has a different story...but most of all they are all wrapped up in so much love and of course hours of dedication.
So to my highlights of year....
Every single time I pull the quilt off the frame at the end of the day and hand it over to the customer, the look of sheer happiness and joy that this is ALL their own work is just beyond priceless....It brings a lump to my throat...every time.
My greatest personal achievement was learning how to make a website and getting it published..AT LAST!
The funniest moment has to be when working on my own absolutely HUGE and way beyond super king size quilt for our new bedroom. Brushed cotton flannel, back and front, double batting... all on the move ... stretchy ... slippery ... and testing my own skills somewhat, especially as I had chosen a tiny pantograph design so ended up with something like 30+ passes. As I was working in the studio for so many days I unusually agreed to have the two pups in with me ... and yes you guessed it ... half way through the quilt my very young springer Tilly decided the batting looked great fun and was so soft ... so she tried to pull it down on her and lay on it. I yelled stop ... she then decided she needed to see me to say sorry and promptly stuck her head right through it. Lots of cutting and binding tape followed amid the laughter!
So what else did this year bring?
I made lots of custom quilts! Some awesome projects this year for customers and even managed to get a few on to my Esty shop too!
Obviously I did the shows at Malvern and the Festival of Quilts, which was an awesome experience (and expensive lol!). I made friends with so many other longarmers including the enigmatic Yorkshire Boy Quilter himself, Graham Farrar. I got to see Abigail Sheridan Van der Graaf and Lynda Jackson, both Handiquilter Educators, place and win in the festival competitions.
I became a Patron the Welsh Quilt Centre supporting this inspiring venture. I have loved popping in to see the quilt displays, all beautifully curated by the very clever Jen Jones in Lampeter...and I am looking forward to the next exhibition too.
Much of the latter part of the year got taken up by the Advent Calendar collection of course....I really must listen to myself and start earlier! The numbers ordered this year as well as those sold through Etsy were fabulous...so a big thank you to the many customers that have purchased them from me.
The studio itself has continued to change and develop. I have had extra tables put in for "making" sessions, a few more gadgets to make life easier and have added many more beautiful creations by unique crafters, from those I have met locally, at the shows and from my Facebook craft world. They adorn almost every inch of space now so the studio is very much a window on the world of craft and I love it!
OK so what about 2023....well I have some new ideas for quilted items to sell. I have just finished the pattern designs for some, so will be trialling them in January...bit exciting! This will all be part of the mantra from my Maker's Club that I belong to which is about "Affordable Joy" this year, so something more gift price orientated but will still bring joy to those who enjoy quilting and craft!
I also have a few commissions to make and a quilt for myself to finally do PLUS I am launching two new experiences! They have already been put up on the web site. I decided I wanted to try and encourage those who might not feel confident enough with their patchwork to bring it along to quilt yet or maybe those who have never done any patchwork before and would like to try something new. So I have a quilt in a day experience now where you will make, longarm and finish a jelly roll lap quilt and a shorter session that makes a table runner and quilts it on the long arm! I do like a challenge but these will be such fun days....super busy but great fun! Check them out HERE
Well that has been my meander through the past and future. 2023 brings plenty of challenge and odd times to us all...we seem to say that is the case every year at the moment don't we! BUT I am certain knowing all of you out there who follow me, have bought from me or have been to visit ..we will make it through together...I hope we can find ways to laugh together ...create together ..and literally just have fun because that is what it is all about after all!
So I wish you all a truly Merry Christmas. I hope you have a memorable and treasured time with family and friends however you choose to celebrate.....I am building furniture and painting all over Christmas so dinner might be a pizza on the 25th! May 2023 be kind to you and may you find time to laugh and love...and quilt of course!
Thank you one and all for travelling this journey with me and I promise to try and find more time to post, write and video in 2023 to entertain you with what I am up to as well as provide some laughter and fun...so stay tuned...make sure you like or comment every so often ....just so I know you are still all out there!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all!
Have a Quiltalicious time!!!