Letting go


January is almost over and I thought I would have a collection of new paintings by now.  My gorgeous studio has been such a cluttered mess that I (eventually) realised that I had been avoiding going in there. I do know that I have a dip in energy and creativity in the darkest, coldest months, but eventually I decided enough was enough, I needed a shake up.

I started my big craft declutter last year, but it kind of ground to a halt before Christmas.  I am teaching this weekend which is always a great excuse for a tidy up and I ended up getting really stuck in over the last week or so and managed to get rid of loads of rubbish I have been hanging on to.  I had so much random stuff that I have kept hold of since the days I first turned my love of papercrafting into a business and I have paid at least three removal firms a stupid amount of money to move this redundant collection of stuff from one house to another.

In the film Men in Black 3, there is a character who can see the infinite potential future outcomes at any given moment in time.   I can totally relate to that guy – I have such a creative imagination, that I can see any number of ways that I could incorporate a scrap of paper the size of a postage stamp into a future work of art.  For the last fifteen years, whenever I created a card or stamped project, I would keep all the work in progress bits, the unfinished bits, even lists and notes of things I might one day create.

This was compounded by the fact that for seven of those years, it was actually my job to demonstrate stamping projects within the constraints of live TV where I had to have a finished project, all the components to re-create it from scratch and one or two half finished versions of the same thing so I could trot out the “here’s one I made earlier” routine.  Occasionally I would be able to use up the half-baked projects at one of our in-store demo days, so it became second nature to never throw the unfinished bits and pieces away.

I have made real progress in breaking this habit and this week has seen me empty more than 20 boxes of stuff, most of which ended up in the bin.  It feels so good to let go!

[Don’t worry, no useful stash was harmed in the process.  In fact it could be your lucky day as I plan on some random gift giving – details below.]

So, when I’ve not been clutter-busting, I’ve been working on a few other projects, including some web design work (‘coz you gotta pay the bills and it gets tricky to sell paintings when you aren’t actually producing any).

I have also been helping Adrian get his workshop space organised and painted ready for a new venture, or rather a return to a previous venture – more on that next month.

I’ve been journaling and prepping some journaling classes for the year ahead. I’m trying to get some dates finalised, but there’s a few things happening this year that I need to work around, so dates will be announced very soon.  My teaching will focus on bookbinding and journaling more this year, with some mixed media project classes in the mix too.  I’ll also be offering some two and three day workshops for those things where one day just isn’t long enough.  I may also be travelling elsewhere to teach, so keep an eye on the Portpatrick Studios website for news (or sign up to our mailing list).

And evenings are taken up with crochet. In fact, the crochet was part of the declutter – I sorted several boxes of  tangled yarn and re-wound it into balls of new, stash busting chunky yarn.

After making the basket with handles, I found Trillian standing with two paws inside it so decided to make her a cat bed.

I finished a couple of hats and have several things in progress at the moment.

But the best thing about decluttering is that it frees your mind up from that nagging feeling you “ought” to be tidying up and lets you find inspiration in the everyday around you.  I have got a couple of canvases on the go at the moment, one of which is pure intuitive playing with colour.  Look what came out while I was playing:


Remind you of anything?

sorting through my Nanna's old yarn

So, to finish off, I have a few little packs of craft stash that I would love to pass on to a good home and maybe brighten your day.  All you need to do is leave me a comment and tell me your top tip for beating the winter blues.  I’d still like to hibernate under a blanket until April, so I’d love to hear your ideas for lifting the spirit or getting the creativity flowing.

Oh, and your ideas don’t have to be practical and sensible – fantastical, imaginary, whimsical, money-no-object dreams are just fine too!

Crocodile Tiers

Crocodile stitch handbag

Did you know I love to crochet?

I think of it as my winter hobby – something to keep my hands busy when semi-hibernating in front of a good film.

I haven’t yet completed an actual garment, but have made an entrelac tunisian crochet travel rug, various hats, fingerless gloves, lots of scarves, a few dozen flowers and now … a handbag!


A few weeks ago I set out to learn a new stitch I’d seen on Pinterest – crocodile stitch.

We spent Christmas with my Mum and she spoiled us rotten so we didn’t have to do a thing, which gave me lots of time to finish off my latest project – a crocodile stitch handbag!


If you search for crochet crocodile stitch you will find videos and patterns explaining how to do it.  For those familiar with crochet, the stitch is made by doing one row of double crochet, then crocheting around the posts rather than into the top of the stitches as you would normally do.  Here’s a close up.


And even more detail, this time turned on it’s side.


Once you understand the basic stitch, it’s not that difficult to do, but there was lots of counting to make sure I had the same number of stitches on each new row.  The yarn is 100% cotton, double knitting weight.  I really enjoyed making something so colourful in the midst of some very grey, dreary winter weather – definitely a great way to beat the winter blues!


I’m building up a crochet board on Pinterest here:

Click here for my Crochet board on Pinterest.

Chocolate Baroque Retrospective – winner


Thank you all so much for your lovely comments last week, it was good to see so many responses and I’m glad to hear it was sparking some ideas.  I hope you all have some downtime around the holidays to get out your craft stuff and play.

I’m delighted to announce the randomly picked winner is Jackie who picked this one as her favourite on day 4:

Jackie, Lesley will be in touch with you to let you know how to claim your prize.

The sentiment comes from the delicious Pretty Poppies stamp set

The trees come from Tall Trees (which I can’t find on the CB website at the moment) and the swirl is from Artistic Expressions.

I blended PanPastels through a circle to create the background and stamped with dye based inks on top.

I’ll finish by saying a massive Merry Christmas to you all and a big huge thank you for all your support throughout 2015, looking forward to an exciting 2016!

Chocolate Baroque Retrospective – Day 5

Thanks everyone for all your lovely comments and may I say you all have excellent taste!  Well I made it- five consecutive days of blogging with a feast of Chocolate Baroque eye candy for you.  I know it’s a trip down memory lane for many of you, but for those of you new to stamping or to Chocolate Baroque, I hope it has given you some inspiration.  Again, let me know which of today’s cards is your favourite and this weekend, I’ll use the random generator to pick out a name to pass on to Lesley.

Hope your preparations for Christmas are going smoothly and you are as organised, prepped and utterly chilled about it all as I am – I can honestly say this year is very relaxed and calm.

Chocolate Baroque Retrospective – Day 4

dreaming of a faster bike

I have more Chocolate Baroque goodness for you today and again, I’d love to know which of these is your favourites.  You may have read yesterday we’ve changed it from a name the stamp contest to a good old fashioned random pick, so feel free to go back to Monday or Tuesday if you want to leave a note of your favourite on any of the other days this week.  The more times you comment, the more chances you have of winning a prize from Lesley over at Chocolate Baroque.