Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Been thinking ...

I've been trying to get my head around my love of making stuff lately and where it's going.  I've all sorts of random thoughts racing around my head and I can't seem to make any sense of them.  While I painted the kitchen this afternoon I had a thought that if I write it here then maybe I'd get a better idea of what I want to be doing.

I've always made things from when I was little and I've always had my head in a book.  Studying textiles at art college somehow led to working for the Met Police and then on to my Literature degree. A stint in PR and then advertising brought me to a post-grad teacher training course and suddenly there I was a fully paid up FE Lecturer. I really enjoyed teaching academic stuff, but I have to admit I was really thrilled when the Head of Media (Mr Bun) and I fell in love and then I found out I was pregnant with Eldest Bun. I handed my notice in quick sharp and got ready to enjoy being a mum.

Apart from making clothes I'd not done any other making for years. First my mum taught me to knit again when I was pregnant with Little Bun. I'd thought it was really dull when she showed me when I was little, but it really grabbed me this time round knitting for my girls. Along the way I started making all sorts of stuff for friends and then I got a few commissions. I knew there was no way I was going back to 60 hour weeks teaching and I'm not ambitious about climbing any career ladder. Couldn't really picture myself ever teaching again to be honest. I can remember exactly when I decided to work for myself. I'd changed nappies endlessly all morning and thought I was going to go doollally if I didn't have something that was just about me. All the stuff I'd been making grew into Bobo Bun and off I went.

I started off selling my work at playgroups, through a few local shops and taking stalls at smaller markets. I've really changed my style from what I made then. It took a while for my ideas to evolve and know what I wanted to do. Four years ago I stopped selling at smaller markets and went for the bigger ones that targetted the people I wanted to sell to. 

Along the way I taught myself to crochet. A year later I was running crochet workshops and started writing this here blog. That led to setting up Pick 'n' Mix Makers Market as a way of promoting handmade talent. Then in the middle of all this we hit a financial burp and some guaranteed extra money was needed each month. Pretty handy I guess that I was a teacher as it meant I could get a job working part-time and earn enough to balance running my business alongside being a mum too.

That's kind of worked for a while now, but I've found this year that I've sort of run out of steam to do it all. This is where all of this is leading to. I teach two days a week now and it's pretty draining stuff as it's a seven hour day being as upbeat and calm as possible while I try to meet the needs of teenagers who have a wide range of  emotional and learning problems. Also it's not really two days a week as there are emails to answer and write on my days off, plus planning and all the other stuff involved.

Basically this leaves me just wanting to make things for the sheer pleasure of making stuff. So I've been making lots of things for the Bun's and our home as I need to relax and switch off. My real dream is to make Bobo Bun grow alongside running creative workshops. At the moment I just don't seem to be able to balance out the demands of my job with my dreams.

Why this all feels odd is that it just happened without me thinking about it. Suddenly one day I just didn't want to get up at some god awful hour and set up my mobile shop. I feel happy not doing any markets for the moment as I don't want the pressure to be making stock. I want to get back to the heart of making and really enjoy it while I work out which direction I'm going and how I'm going to get there. 

Meanwhile I've got quite a few unfinished projects on the go all dotted throughout this post to keep me busy. I figure that I'll work it out as I go along and just think a small holiday from it all's no bad thing at all. I just hope it doesn't take my head too long to work it out.

Apologies if this all seemed self-indulgent, but as it's about why and how I've ended up creating things I thought here was a pretty good place to chat through it all with me and with you.

* One other thing - I thought I'd try replying to your comments in my comment thingy from now on as that makes sense really and then if I can I'll stop by and say hello like I do anyways.


  1. Well.....I absolutely love all of your work, the colors, the patterns, everything! Take a break and get collected again, as I love to see the newest thing you have made, because you quite are an inspiration =) Xoxoxo

  2. I've been reading a lot lately about living your dream and making an income from it. One thing that comes across again and again is that you need to do what is important to YOU. There are no right or wrong choices, there are just choices that help us learn. It sounds to me as if work and passion choices you have made in the past are no longer as relevant to you as they once were. You know in your heart what you WANT to do. Sit down and think about what will make you happy and everything will ultimately flow from that.
    xXx Helen

  3. This is off topic, but I can't wait to see your quilt all finished. I can tell already it is going to be fabulous. Do you plan on hand quilting it?

  4. Hi, I'm new to your blog and I love reading it.
    I wonder if you start to do something you love doing as a job, it becomes hard work, a chore, the pressure is on and the joy gets sucked out of it.
    Perhaps if you take some time to make and create just for you and your family you will get your mojo (oh how I hate that word, but it works so well!) back for the markets.

    Thanks for a good read!

  5. Wow thats a lovely story - just a shame you are not exactly where you want to be at the moment. Still at least you have some regular money coming in and I'm sure you will get there will the rest, when the time is right.

    Loving all your makes though.

  6. I think you are right to follow your instincts. In the past I have also made for pleasure and to try and make some pocket money (not large scale - small craft fairs etc). I eventually felt the same way as you. I packed up all my craft stuff and put it in the loft. Now I just make what I want for myself, for presents and occasionally to sell. Suits me much better and I was never going to make my fortune. Good luck, enjoy your summer and please keep us updated with your day to day goings on, finished makes etc. I do enjoy popping over to have a read.

  7. I found it really interesting, hearing your story, Lisa and I think you're in a situation many mums find themselves in. It must be very difficult balancing that demanding job with home life and somehow squeezing making time in. I really don't have any useful advice on how to make a living from making things (sorry!), it seems nigh on impossible, sadly. Definitely if you could get more workshop/teaching courses paid work that would be great. I agree that it's sometimes nice to just step back from all the fairs, it's draining working so hard for them and can sometimes take the pleasure out of making things. Much nicer working under your own speed but somehow I always feel that's a luxury? I'm sure everything will come good in the end, you clearly deserve it. Sorry for that useless waffle!
    Hen x

  8. Oh sweet Bobo Bun,

    I recognize this feeling you have.
    You describe it very clear.
    Sometimes it's difficult to do it all at the same have to make choices and that's the hard part.
    Don't feel bad if you take a break (i wil miss you a lot!!!) if that's needed, hope you find some balance soon.
    You always have to feel good about the things you're doing, that's the most important thing.

    wish lots of succes and love!

  9. I honestly don't know how you squeeze it all in. It has amazed me how much you have been cramming in to your everday life over the past few months. Good for you for taking stock of what's in your life currently. I'm sure you'll find a happy medium soon. BTW, lovely to see your beautiful girls in your previous post. They really are gorgeous and look like they get on so well. xx

  10. I often wake in the night, either thinking of projects, or " I must get a proper job" or spend more time the the kiddies.........I think that's just how it is with children, and husbands. You are a talented lady, and I adore your making bits.
    Nattie x

  11. Ashley: Thanks for your lovely words. Made me feel ten feet tall.

    Helen: I completely agree, a bit of time off from mmaking as a business will hopefully give me head space to work out which way I want to go. Thanks for your thoughts, they're really appreciated.

    Katie: Off topic is fine, I always go off in tangents in real conversation. I'm hand quilting at the mo and will do a post about the whole process once it's finished.

    Isabelle: Merci Isabelle.

    Janet: Think you've hit the nail on the head. That's exactly the conclusion I'm beginning to come to. I think making to sell was becoming a chore and I hated that something I loved doing was going that way.

    Pretty at Heart: So true, I'll get there in the end. I'm certainly not unhappy, just thinking it all through.

    Two Bones: See it worked for you, so a break is definately the best thing.

    Hen: Definately not useless waffle. Good when other makers understand what I'm saying. You hit the nail on the head with the sense that making for ourselves alone feels like a luxury. I took an age to get over that feeling as I'm used to hard work and always pushing myself. It just felt lazy rather than enjoyable. I think that's why I needed to step back as something had to give and I'm sadly not in the position to give up the teaching job. Thanks for your words, they are really appreciated.

    Silly Old Suitcase: I liked that making choices, finding balance and feeling good about what you're doing sums it up perfectly. What a wise one you are. Oh and I won't be going anywhere with the blog I'll still be rambling away and showing my finds and makes don't you fear.

  12. I was interested in your post - I have this fantasy where I sit around making all day, however I know that it would soon feel like a job. I use craft to relax and enjoy the satisfaction of creating. It is something for me in a life where so much seems to be for others (happily so). Having to do it would take that away. Painting is great thinking time isn't it?

  13. i kind of know what you mean - success means making stock against a deadline and often the enjoyment and creativity gets lost along the way? I'm having a break from it all at the moment!

  14. Well that made me think!
    My first thought is that I WISH I had gone to uni to do textiles or something similar... not even sure if those courses were around then! I was 'led' into a medical career by my family, when the real me loved craft - designing and making. I wasn't even allowed to do art at school! Anyway, I have rebelled in my fifties and now run my little yarn shop online.. it fills the space in my heart and gives me an excuse to live my crafty dream... it's not easy, it's not lucrative ... but it works well with my family and is a nice way to live for the moment... that is the important bit isn't it...Oh and PLEASE don't stop many people would miss your posts! :)x

  15. I always wonder how you fit everything in to your busy only advice I have is don't plan anything too much..sometimes things just evolve,I only truly enjoy making when it is spontaneous and unplanned... I love the idea of you teaching crafts...combining your talents
    x x x x x x x x x x x

  16. Firstly I think it's a really good idea to write it all down as things in black and white often make more sense, rather than going round and round in our heads. How about developing your on-line shop that way you make things at your leisure and add them to your shop rather than having to make loads of stuff for a one off fair. Your making would be much more spaced out and you wouldn't be putting yourself under any pressure.
    Things usually have a way of working themselves out anyway, so just go with it.
    Vivienne x

  17. Many thanks for sharing that. I, too, have been day dreaming recently. I haven't been out to work for many years now, since we have had children - it was a situation rather forced as our company went into liquidation during the last recession. My past working life in radio and advertising has long moved on and so I am now wondering ....... I am really enjoying knitting and stitching these days and plan perhaps to try and sell bits and bobs. I was interested in your market ventures as I thought that would be the place to start? But how much stock does one need to make, should one stick to just a few things or have lots of variety? So many decisions ........ x

  18. It is quite cathartic writing things down isn't it. I think all Mum's have this sort of issue, you can't get fully into anything really as you always feel torn. Take a break and things will become clear in time I am sure.

  19. I feel pretty similar if I know I have to make something for someone somehow the fun is drained from it and it becomes a chore. I don't think creativity should feel like that it should be a free process and for that you need time and space to just think. I seem to never have that time unfortunately it eludes us all. Dishes to wash, house to keep clean, dinner to make, others to look after it never stops. So if I ever do get time I want to do things I enjoy I think alot of us are like that. I hope you find your balance.

  20. Well, you'd have to be super-human to do all those things and not end up in a splodgy heap on the floor crying your eyes out!

    It's good to know that you've seen you need to recharge your batteries and just make stuff you enjoy, as an antidote to the earning-money teaching job.


  21. You have a beautiful blog! So glad to have happened by today. I am a full time teacher and you are so right! It drains you with all the out of school prep and paperwork. It can squelch the creativity and leave one feeling blah. I love my kids, but the paperwork I can totally do with out! Thanks for mirroring my heart today and for presenting so many beautiful eye candy pictures! You are def being added to my blogroll =)

  22. Is there not some way you could combine teaching with creating and run workshops and/or retreats?

    S x

  23. Thank you all so much for your thoughts and ideas. I'm glad I'm helping your thoughts on the subject too.

    It's only when I look over it that I realise a lot has been squeezed in, probably why my mind has forced me to take a break.

    You summed up the eternal guilt thing where as mums we feel guilty that we should always be doing something else. It's never ending.

    Seems like you're pretty busy with four kids. Yes I love decorating a real good relaxing thinking time.

    Glad you're having that rest too. I agree creativity should never feel like a chore as it's a real pleasure to be able to do it.

    How wonderful that you're doing what you love now. See it proves it can be done.

    I'm all for spontaneity and I like that thought of just going with the mood. That's why I'm happy with taking a back seat from it all.

    That's one of the ideas I have been playing with, thanks for your ideas.

  24. I hope you can find the right balance for you and enjoy some much needed time out.

    Your blog is lovely and I wish there was someone like you locally who would run sewing/crochet workshops!

    Take care

  25. Victoria:
    Good luck with your decisions. That's the tricky part trying to work it all out. A lot of it's trial and error and just jumping in really. I guess for me I've tried lots of different angles to it for seven years now and for me I'm taking a step back to hope I can see which way I want to take my creative business.

    Scented Sweetpeas:
    That's just why I thought after a couple of months of having ideas ramble around in my head that I'd be better off putting it down somewhere. Hope it works.

    Squiggling About:
    Thanks for being another person who's shown me I'm not alone in this made work life balancing act. It always looks as if everyone else knows how to do it apart from me, but I'm just as aware that that might be how I appear from the outside too to others.

    Luckily my brain kicked in and stopped me before splodgy heaps and tears came my way. It was just a slow chilled slowing down that seems much needed really.

    K @ ABlythe:
    Thank you kindly for your charming words. Full-time teaching is a distant memory of being permanently knackered. Hope you manage to keep on top and are enjoying the holidays.

    You've made the other suggestion that is floating around in my head at the moment. Thanks for your ideas.


  26. I have nothing to add to all the wise and thoughtful comments above other than I promise that if I ever win the euro millions I'll pay off your mortgage and give you a bit extra just so you can make stuff to your hearts content.

    I'd leave a longer message but I need to go and buy a lotto ticket....


    ps I must try to remember to come back to the post I left a comment on just in case you replied. If ever you do reply on your comments and ask me anything specific and I don't get back to you it's cause I have the most appalling memory and I'll have either forgotten I left a comment, or forgotten to come back, or forgotten what post I left it on!! I'm pretty useless really!!!

  27. Time was when I spent all day making things, not to sell but for my family to wear, use, play with and then suddenly that all came to and end and I had to take a full time job. Recently I've been at home all day every day and I'm lost, completely lost.

    I have the ability to do so many things, even designing knitwear but I just can't seem to get enough energy to do anything. I have yarn, embroidery threads, beads and findings, paints, pencils, brushes, fabrics, you name it I have it but what I really need is darn great kick up the bum, I suppose. So, anyway, I hope you manage to sort out your feelings and get on with your life and I'll keep reading your blog in case I get a sudden burst of energy.

  28. I think it's good to re-evaluate your life every now and then so you don't get stuck in that rut . You need to do things for yourself.

  29. You definitely need to stop and smell the roses Unless you have to, perhaps for financial reasons, try not to put yourself under pressure, slow down. Enjoy your family, enjoy creating, ........ enjoy life. It goes by far too quickly, it really does.
    Carol xx

  30. I totally agree with you, I used to do loads of fairs & fetes but sometimes you can stand there all day & only cover the cost of the table! I now just do a few fairs a year that I know will really work for me. I make more money running my Make,Do and Mend craft group then I ever could selling things. However it's really hard to make a go of it when I'm working full time. I will be unemployed very soon & would love to do it full time but it's never going to pay the wage I'm on now.... Life sucks sometimes!! :)

  31. I've been thinking and I have an idea. I go to a knit club and I pay to do so. It's £9 pounds and you get tea/coffee/cake/toast.... The girl that runs it basically has turned her lovely flat into a yarn shop. She has each wall lined with bookcases filled with yarn that you can buy. Out of the £9 I pay I get a £5 yarn voucher back to spend on her stock. Now it's not practical for you do do that to your home but maybe you could change the format to suit. You could open your home (hire a cheap scout hut or something) and get a club going. Charge say £4 entry fee and for that the people get your on hand help and advice and tuition. You'll cover all your costs and the group will grow, believe me Knit Club is rammed to the rafters each month.

    It could be a general craft club or a yarn club....I expect you have done / are doing / go to / have thought of this already but I thought I'd just let you know how successful it is for Suzie. She often has 30 ladies attend. That's £120 quid for 3 hours minus the cost of tea and toast (it's in her home so no hire charges) She also has kits ready made with yarn and pattern all bagged up so people can buy and start making immediately. You can add a mark up on that. Some weeks Suzie doesn't find her self running from one lady to the next and she actually does some knitting her self.

    Anyway it's just an idea to throw into the mix...

    Have a look at The Wool Sanctuary Weston Super Mare and read about Knit Club, if you feel like it.


  32. Good on you shugs for recognising that something doesn't feel right for you. That's the thing you and you alone have to be happy in what you do. Time out doing your lovely/beautiful work for you and your family sounds perfect. I to have taken a step that at the moment I don't want to be doing my crafting as a business. I just want to get back to basics and enjoy learning and creating and just generally bumbling along. Enjoy twinkle. Loves Ionwen X

  33. Dear Mrs. Bun - Have faith. Experience and accept this for what it is - a moment in time. It will pass and things will change.

  34. Gosh thats spooky . . . .it's like all your words have come out of my head, I teach 2 days a week, run my internet site and workshops and I am finding it all very hard, something has got to give right? But I haven't got to which thing yet!!
    Love H xx

  35. It's so hard to balance everything and have a quality of life isn't it? I think it's good you voice your thoughts, because there will be others out there thinking the same thing, and you might provoke a discussion and helpful comments. One thing that we all find hard is that sometimes we feel tired, and we feel we shouldn't get tired, but it's all part of the natural process of things, and can lead to new beginnings. I think that might be what's happening with you Lisa, new beginnings, exciting things to come! Love Vanessa xxx

  36. Thanks Ali. Maybe I should hit the road and have mobile workshops.

    Well Cuckoo - what an offer indeedy. I'll track you down if you do win you know. Thanks for your really fabulous info and ideas on your other comment, promise I will get over to email you back as soon as.

    Toffeeapple: One day I'm sure that urge to make will come back and grab you.

    Thanks for that Gill. I agree a bit more balance in the me and my family time was needed.

    Carol: I'll listen to you. I think you know what you're talking about. I remind myself daily that the Bun's won't be young and wanting to enjoy my company forever.

    Josie-Marie: Getting the balance right and trying to be paid fairly for all the ideas and hard work is a nightmare at times isn't it. Sounds like your Make do and Mend group is really taking off though.

    Ionwen I think it sounds like there's a lot going on in your life at the moment so good on you for taking a step back and enjoying it all.

    Sewing in CT: Exactly. Wise words.

    Helen: Spooky hey. I think it's because we've all learnt we can be wonder women and then forget we need to just think about us now and again. Hope you find your solution soon.

    I like that Vanessa, new things coming. Possibly - I certainly have many an idea bubbling away, just need the funds, the time and the courage. Also agree about thinking we shouldn't be tired, but just keeping on going. How daft really.

    Thank you all for your fabulous thoughts and ideas X


Thanks for stopping by and leaving me a comment. I read all of them and really appreciate you taking the time to say hello.
I always try to get back and reply, but sometimes this may take a bit longer as pets and children always seem to need attention around here.

Bobo X

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