For the last few years, Instagrammer Joanne Hawker has run on Instagram challenge called March Meet the Maker. A message from Joanne, 'For those of you who are new to this, this challenge is to help small businesses such as you and me to tell the story behind the brand. It also aims to give an insight into the face, process and hard work that goes into creating all of the beautiful products we have to offer.'
This year, I decided to commit to it to in order to share a bit about me with my followers. I will also record my contributions here.
Day 1 - You
I'm almost 38, my birthday is on the first day of (astrological) Spring so daffodils popping up everywhere starts the countdown to my birthday. I have three kids; the oldest was 3y 4m when the youngest was born so life was a bit crazy for a while and being uber organised and efficient saw me through it! The youngest is due to start school in September so I'll return to primary school teaching then but just two days a week to keep on with Crafty Kilner and raising the kids. I only learned to sew and crochet after I had children! I need a lot of sleep or I can't function. I've been teetotal all year but love a glass of wine. I enjoy running (AKA jogging). I don't know how to do nothing so do a lot of work co-running Highams Park Creatives and Highams Park Arts & Culture (ARC) as well as being a Parent Governor and helping the gardening club on my road! My absolute best friend is my husband, together for 10 years this year, he is the most loving, caring and thoughtful person. He always tells me how proud he is of all I do and is totally supportive of me.
Day 2 - Where
I was born in Hackney, London and like many people was priced out. We moved to Highams Park 10 miles from my birth place 6 weeks before my our child was born, in 2010. Highams Park is in the London Borough of Waltham Forest, not far from Walthamstow and Chingford. Epping Forest is close by and is just 23 minutes on the train to Central London. It has a lovely friendly community and we are very happy here. I’m heavily involved with the community co-running Highams Park Creatives and ARC and I’m a Parent Governor. I am very excited that the vibrancy is going to be celebrated hugely over the next few years as Waltham Forest has been named as The First London Borough of Culture.
Day 3 - How you started
I had been taught to sew as a child by my mum (who sews, knits, crochets etc) and did a bit of sewing at secondary school but really had no interest in it at all. UNTIL... 7 years ago. My baby daughter was gifted the patchwork blanket above by my sister-in-law. I was blown away by how beautiful it was and how much love and time had been spent making it. I decided I wanted to have a go so, guided by my mum, I made a patchwork quilt for a friend. Shortly after I made some bunting with names on and started giving it away as gifts. After a while a friend asked me if she could buy some from me to give to her friend. I was shocked that she felt it was good enough to buy and it spurred me on to start up Crafty Kilner. It wasn’t until my 2nd child was born 17 months after the first that I learned to crochet. They both napped at the same time so I had a couple of hours to myself each afternoon and prompted by an episode of a Kirstie Allsopp craft TV show I taught myself how to crochet following YouTube videos. It took ages to get right and I would have loved to have had some lessons. In May 2016 I started to teach crochet and now teach both beginner and intermediate crochet lessons. I was a primary school teacher for 13 years but left after my third child was born and I love keeping my hand in teaching albeit in a very different way!
Day 4 - Favourite to make
This is hard!! I don’t have one favourite. I LOVE making bunting knowing it is going to a home where it will be so proudly displayed. Bunting is the reason I started Crafty Kilner and I love the rhythm of drawing, cutting and sewing each letter. BUT I also love making anything in pastel colours. CURRENTLY I’m obsessed with making Hama Bead cards, mainly because my seven year old daughter loves doing it with me 😊. I also love crocheting blankets but I don’t sell many as they are expensive for customers once I’ve charged for my time (only £4p/h) + yarn. A cot sized blanket can take around 16 hours!
Day 5 - Photography
I use my iPhone 6S for all of my photography. I did a workshop with Emily Quinton at Makelight and learned a lot about using my phone effectively. I have a white desk at the bottom of my conservatory surrounded by windows so I wait for good light and close the white blinds on sunny days to make a light box! I edit my photos with PicTapGo before I add them to my website/social media.
Day 7 - Workspace
I have a desk at the bottom of our conservatory with my sewing machine, overlocker, printer, laptop etc. Boxes of fabric, cupboards full of fabric, bias binding, tools, packing materials, files, threads, magazines, books etc etc etc! In some ways it works well; I can be near the kids when they’re home but still (try to) work and that is the same reason it is terrible! It’s in the firing line for flying porridge and they love to fiddle with my pins, pegs, bits and bobs. It means I have to keep things very tidy as it’s on show for anyone who visits. It’s a nice sunny spot overlooking the garden but it gets very hot in the summer and very chilly in the winter. But, it works for now and my dreams of having a little studio will come true when we start renovations to the house later this year. I also crochet in the evenings in front of the sofa, feet up, TV on!
Day 7 - Routine
I do love a good routine but after a few weeks I definitely need a break from it! The week involves the school run, kids' clubs, cleaning, washing, ironing, cooking (I do a lot of batch cooking to cope with the craziness!). I have three days with all three kids out the house at school/nursery so they are my work days (although I'm working most of the time, regardless of who is home!). I prioritise sewing for these three days as I can't focus with the kids at home. Crochet often gets taken to swimming and gymnastics lessons. I seem to be spending more and more time on my laptop doing Highams Park Creatives and ARC work. I have weekly meetings and daily WhatsApp/Messenger communication running these with the other my co-workers. Social media is a big part of my job, I don't think my business would have grown without it (watch out for another blog post about that!). I teach beginner and intermediate crochet. My evenings are spent flaked out, crocheting or on the laptop. My poor hubby! I listen to Netflix and can't do subtitles anymore as I never actually look at the TV screen! Weekends are for family, seeing friends, doing three sets of homework and occasionally some selfish crafting just for me! I try and squeeze a run in where I can, sometimes 6.30am, sometimes after the school run if I'm not to pushed with my workload. I have just started doing some runs with a friend which has been a lovely way to gossip whilst getting fit!