It has been a super exciting weekend for me - I got the keys to my new studio on the beautiful Castle Ashby estate just five minutes from my home.
I have been self-employed for nearly three years now and during that time I have been working from home. It has been a bit of a challenge for me, to be honest. I like 'going out' to work; I like the change of scenery, driving with the radio on and the routine that working offsite provides. I am too easily distracted to work from home full-time! Our house has been pretty messy, with boxes piled high in the spare room and the dining table is rarely clear. All of the components for The Stitchery* are made and compiled in-house and it soon became apparent that I needed more space in which to work. Finding the studio felt like fate, it hadn't been advertised and the current tenant was going to be out at the end of the month.
I have been popping along to the unit every so often to measure spaces and drop off furniture but to finally have the keys this weekend and be able to start painting is so exciting! We are going to be working really hard over the next two weeks to get the place ready to welcome visitors. The downstairs space will be a working studio and shop; upstairs is room for me to work. There is a little kitchen downstairs so that I can offer my visitors tea and cake, and a tiny WC. I will share pictures as I decorate but think gorgeous old chippy furniture, tiny drawers filled with old lace and buttons, and handmade soft furnishings. It is a lovely light and bright space so I am going to dress the windows with simple pelmets hiding roller blinds. The furniture and accessories have been bought from independent businesses where possible and other makers whose work I love.
My plan is to work there every day Monday to Friday and I will be holding a Stitch Club on Saturday mornings for people who want to bring their current WIPs and have a bit of a natter. Any stitching goes - crochet, patchwork, embroidery, knitting... just a nice drop-in social session. I will post more details here when we're up and running. I will hold my workshops at the studio (don't worry if you have booked to come to the house, it is a stone's throw from my home) and I plan to have a few shopping events and embroidery taster sessions too.
The studio is opposite a lovely country pub called The Falcon which is currently undergoing work to become a boutique hotel. It should be open this summer and the plans for it sound wonderful. There is a rural shopping area at Castle Ashby with deli, cafe, gift shop and home interiors store, amongst others, plus a pottery studio (which I am personally very happy about, desperate to try a bit of hand built pottery).
If you haven't visited the gardens at Castle Ashby before you are in for a treat. I plan to spend a lot of time there; so much inspiration for art and embroidery. The Orangery is very special indeed, built in 1872 with a heavenly central pond. The house is occupied, I think, by the owner Lord Northampton and not generally open to visitors but there is a walled garden tearoom and plant shop with a play area for children.
I can't wait to share more and hope you'll join me for the next stage of my journey. Working for the bank seems so long ago. In the meantime I am working hard preparing the gorgeous March boxes, putting together catch-up kits and making journals. We've had very bad (beautiful) snow this week which has rather thwarted our attempts to make good progress with the decorating so we are bringing in the big guns (mum and dad) during the week to help get it sorted! My family has given me so much support and physical help with The Stitchery, I am very lucky to have them. Thankful too that dad took early retirement!
Have a wonderful week and enjoy the last of the snow, friends. Spring will be here before we know it and these magical, sparkling days will be a distant memory.
* If you haven't heard of The Stitchery, check it out here. It isn't too late to join; catch-up kits are available and we are still able to make journals to order.