The Barmy Beetroot Blog Hop

Welcome to the blog hop!

Now before you start to swing your pants, it’s not a retro dance but a virtual tour of the creative blogosphere. Swinging pants does sound like fun though.

Like the nicest chain letter I’ve received, I get to answer some questions and then continue the hop by nominating two of my favourite bloggers to do the same next week, thus growing the network between bloggers and their readers.

I was nominated by Louise, from the most excellent Sew Sensational. I found Louise from the Minerva Crafts Network and said hello after discovering she was also nutty about sewing, and lived in Leeds. We are hoping to meet in person soon, and have a grand shopping trip around the fabulous Leeds market. Louise has a really cute style and warm friendly tone to her writing. Her garments are top stuff and she looks awesome in them. Louise is also soon to be a bride and I can’t wait to see her crafty wedding creations! Thanks for nominating me Louise. It was a fun challenge thinking about and answering the hop questions.

My workstation

My workstation – I think I was looking at Jamie Oliver’s pizza dough recipe when I took this, very yummy!

Why do I write?

Having a blog has been a long time aspiration of mine. My background is working with computers, graduating with a degree in Electronic Imaging and Media Communications, and then finding my feet working at Suma Wholefoods, where I set off on a one girl mission to establish an online presence for my favourite vegetarian food cooperative. Initially on my own, and now with 2 people I’ve trained to join the team, we develop and maintain Suma’s ecommerce site and blog site, as well as organise the online marketing and social media strategy. I’ve learned on the job as the years have gone by, and I suppose I’m fairly web savvy, ok a geek, so the techie side of designing with css/html, sourcing a domain, setting up a wordpress blog, server management, online marketing and SEO are all subjects I feel at home with.

At work I enjoyed using Google analytics, watching posts I had written gain in popularity, achieve high viewing figures, and rank highly on Google. It was a buzz. (lol, I obviously don’t get out enough). I wanted my own space online, but I could never really settle on a subject to write about. Discarded ideas were gardening, raising a vegetarian child, and even drinking tea, but none of them seemed to have enough longevity to hold my interest. I needed a subject I could wax lyrical about, remain dedicated to and have plenty of ideas for interesting and useful posts. It was only after having my own stall at local craft fairs that I realised I could blog about my craftiness. I’m always making things when I get the chance, and have done my whole life. Making items by hand has always bought me a lot of happiness and satisfaction. I was finally set and excited about my subject!

One of my craft stalls in Dec 2013, I was also selling vintage style handmade aprons

One of my craft stalls in Dec 2013, I was also selling vintage style handmade aprons

I can’t say I’m a seasoned writer. At university I loved writing essays, researching, forming an argument and to be given the space to think about things creatively, form an opinion, and collect your own thoughts. I actually felt academic! That was almost 10 years ago now, and scarily, despite the odd article I pen for Suma which are mostly recipes I hardly write at all. I felt like I was in danger of losing a skill-set that was incredibly valuable. So for me, blogging is about having a space not only to reflect my personality and creativity, but also to provide a reason to write. When I write my blog posts, I feel like I am exercising a part of my brain that doesn’t get the chance to shine much in regular old life, so you heard it here first, blogging is officially a great workout! – For the brain anyway :)

In addition to writing, blogging is also a great way to employ other creative skills, and in particular photography. A few years back I purchased my first digital SLR, and after much perseverance I finally understand the basic functions of my camera, and the relationship between white balance, aperture, shutter speed, and principles behind photography. I’m no expert, but again blogging provides many subjects and reasons to get out and experiment with photography. I love my camera, and I hope blogging is an ally to me taking better photos.

I love my camera!

I love my camera!

Oh there are so many reasons to write! I adore the grassroots nature of blogging, hearing unbiased, real voices talk about things I am interested in. It’s journalism from the ground up. Bloggers invest in each other, and in their readership. Blogs are an amazing resource of ideas, inspiration and tutorials, offering up free information that benefits the online community. How much of what you have learned or made has been a result of something you have seen on a blog? I wanted to give something back and be part of such a positive online force.

Lastly, writing is also precious time on my own. Lovely peace and quiet. It’s like a cig break only good for you. 90% of the time I’m a busy mother and a model (ha!) employee, but I’m also an individual and this is a reflection of the person who can sometimes feel lost within the frenzy of life.

What am I working on?

Simplicity 1800 - this beauty I'm making for a friend

Simplicity 1800 – this beauty I’m making for a friend

I’ve got 10 WIPS on the go at the moment. Plus a long list of other things on the back burner. I used to be a one project at a time kind of person, but actually find I get a lot more done If I have a number of projects on the go at once. I can always find one to suit my mood and situation.

  1. Simplicity 1800 which I am making for a friend. She approached me to make a dress for her, and I thought it would be a fun experience sewing for someone else, and easier to focus on getting a good fitting. I like making for other people, because you make to their tastes and not you own. She has picked an awesome African wax print which I am totally falling for
  2. The next three makes are all festival related. I’m off to Bestival in a few weeks and wanted to take some handmade items to wear with me. You can be so much more out there when it comes to festival clobber. My first make is a light-weight cropped jacket in a fun cassette tape design (a child of the 80′s) which is from a self drafted pattern.
  3. Next up is a similar version to the above jacket but with a few twists. It’s also my first White Tree Bloggers Network make, and will incorporate some beautiful guipure lace. It’s going to be fun and feminine.
  4. Now, I’m not one of those girls that goes to a festival dressed as a fairy, but that’s kind of what I have planned for the Deer & Doe Centuaree dress. The long version will make a great floaty fairy style outfit, and provides options to mix up different textures and types of fabric. I’m not sure if this will work, but oh my I have a vision! I’m not wearing wings though.
  5. Away from festival plans, I’m also putting the finishing touches on a cowboy style denim shirt for Evan. This is the demo piece I have used in my forthcoming pattern release. I was one week away from launching it before my computer broke down, but as soon as I’m up and running I’ll release it, so please watch this space.
  6. A couple of friends have had baby girls, so I’ve self drafted a simple dress pattern. I really need to hurry up with this one though before the babes grow too big for my pattern!
  7. A peg bag from the delightful Little sew & sew book by Christine Leech. I found the book in my local Oxfam and it’s full of really cute embroidered makes and there are a few things I want to sew from it. The bag will be a housewarming present for a friend who has purchased her first home.
  8. My mega WIP is an Escher inspired knitted fish blanket which I have been knitting since January 2012. It consists of 144 separately knitted fish of which I’ve knitted 73, so over half way. Hooray for me. I can’t wait to finish, because whilst I have this project on the go I’m not knitting anything else, and I really miss knitting quick, simple makes.
  9. A completed hexagon from the knitted blanket, I have 12 hexagons sewn up, 73 fishes done in total, 71 fish to go!

    A completed hexagon from the knitted blanket, I have 12 hexagons sewn up, 73 fishes done in total, 71 fish to go!

  10. Not strictly sewing related but I’m also up-cycling an old sideboard I have in my lounge. I use it for my record decks, and to store all my vinyl in, so I want it to be really fun and bright.
  11. I also love making underwear. I have a pair of Jane Knickers cut from Measure Twice Cut Once that is waiting for me to whip up. I’ve cut into some silk from an old dress, and I’m going to have one happy booty.

Phew.. Good to get all that out of my head and on to paper!

How does it differ from others of its genre?

A bit of Evans handmade wardrobe, he calls them his lion trousers, his Frank Side-bottom shirt, and his pirate waistcoat

A bit of Evans handmade wardrobe, he calls them his lion trousers, his Frank Side-bottom shirt, and his pirate waistcoat

My blog is only 6 months old, and so much of what I want to set out to achieve I haven’t really accomplished yet. My main plan is to focus on offering sewing patterns for boys, as I’ve personally found there is a lot more choice when it comes to making clothes for girls than boys and it seemed to be a real gap I could step in to. By the end of the year I’d like to have four free downloadable patterns for boys, and increase this to 10 by the end of next year. I’ve got a cowboy shirt pattern out in a few weeks, and my waistcoat sewing pattern is also available for download now. In between I’d love to stand out and be different, but mostly this blog is about something I love doing, and I try not to get hung up on being unique, just myself.

How does my writing process work?

Part of my sewing library

Part of my sewing library

It’s really just a matter of grabbing spare time when I get it, and making the most of every minute. I am sometimes lucky enough to get a four hour chunk of time to dedicate to my blog, but mostly it’s 30 minutes here, 50 minutes there, so a lot of my writing is done in small intense bursts. I’m an interval blogger. I usually have a few ideas for posts floating around my head, and I keep track of them on a spreadsheet content planner which I *try to* use to be more organised. However, I should update it more often, I’m quite lazy about it in reality.

When it comes to writing a post, I start out by setting out some headings of the areas I want to cover. I use a lot of bullet points to note down in each section what I want to say and things I want to mention. I find this method works for me, as I can add to it if I remember something at a later date. I also have a think about images before I begin, and these can inform the writing, but are mostly used to illustrate key points within the text. I make a list of these too so I know what to shoot when it comes to photography time.

Once I have a rough outline, I write the body text in a draft version. My previous written cues help to jog my memory and I turn them in to prose. Quite often this can take me a few days. Once I’ve got a 1st draft I add in the pictures, check I’ve included all the links, make sure it reads ok, and move text around a little. I’ll quite often re-write sections to make them read better, and then finally run a spelling / grammar check.

I’m usually really impatient by this time and just want to get my post published, but I try to tell myself there is no point putting in all that effort if you skip the stuff that makes your blog look polished and professional. I spend a little bit of time making sure my SEO data is filled in and images are exactly how I want them (I often try and optimise an image for Pinterest if needed). Then it’s time to hit that publish button. Hooray! Done for another week. I do a little bit of promotion on Twitter and Pinterest, but really don’t tweet a post more than once or twice because I think it’s spammy. Unless it’s a free pattern in which case I’ll put a little more time in to sharing my work.

This process can take me awhile, and I envy people who can blog really quickly, but at the moment this is what works for me, and fits around my full time job and life with a toddler. Full on fun!

Not really relevant, I  just wanted to show off this gorgeous pair of vintage pinking shears I found at a car boot sale

Not really relevant, I just wanted to show off this gorgeous pair of vintage pinking shears I found at a car boot sale!

My nominations

lincoln17

1. Simona from Sewing Adventures in the Attick.

I chose Simona because she was one of my first sewing friends, and it has been a pleasure getting to know her. Simona lives relatively local to me, and is an amazing seamstress who bowled me over with her sewing enthusiasm and talent :) Her handmade wardrobe is adventurous, bright, and full of bold floral prints (despite Simona insisting she doesn’t like floral prints). Most of all it’s fabulous.

louise

2. Louise from Thread Carefully
Louise also lives fairly close to me, (I’m keeping it Yorkshire!) and is one of the lovely people I have met since starting my blog. She has children like me, but gets much more sewing done. Louise started up sewing 6 years ago, and is living proof of how good you can get in a relatively short space of time. I like her commitment to making the inside of her garments as pretty as the outside.

Check out Simona and Louise’s blogs, and look out for their blog hop posts next Monday. I’m really looking forward to an insight in to their sewing worlds.

Thank you for hopping by!

Happy sewing everyone!

Happy sewing everyone!

3 thoughts on “The Barmy Beetroot Blog Hop

  1. Jess

    It’s fun learning a bit more about you – I had no idea that you worked for Suma! I’m a vegetarian (moving back to being vegan as soon as I move out of my parents place) and I love the company :) I will also have to try out your patterns at some point – my boyfriend has some cute little nephews and I think handmade clothes would make a great christmas present! I also had no idea your blog was so new and I never would have guessed! xx

    http://www.jessthetics.com
    Jess recently posted…HomespirationMy Profile

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