31 March 2019

#MarchMeettheMaker2019
(My Month of Silver Linings)

From the 1st day of March, I was pretty much guaranteed one silver lining for the next 31 days. Nonetheless, #MarchMeetTheMaker2019 has still exceeded all expectations and more! Not only has it encouraged me to share more about my maker life on Instagram, I'm inspired to share more on here and other platforms too... three guesses what I may referring  to? 

I feel a renewed sense of passion for my business, which isn't to say that I wasn't passionate four weeks ago; instead, it's reaffirmed just how much I care about Bumble and Be. From recalling that moment when I first picked up a crochet hook, to sharing my workspace (aka yarn bag) and sharing the story behind my name,  I am saying goodbye to March with a greater sense than ever of my small biz story; my products beasties, my values and my hopes for the future.

Finally, it's allowed me to connect with other makers and discover just how many incredible souls there are. The maker community on IG is an Aladdin's cave of creativity, compassion, courage and commitment - in other words, it epitomises the virtues of all four hogwarts houses! I can't thank Joanna Hawker enough for starting this hashtag and I count my lucky stars to have found it. 

For the last day of March, I decided to rework my Silver Linings Sunday into seven spotlights from Meet the Maker (ft. a special surprise at the end!) So grab a cup of creativity and come et see...



     DAY 2 || HOW I STARTED 


This was possibly my most challenging - and most liberating - prompt of the entire month, so on reflection I'm glad it came so early. I found it so cathartic to write and I think it gave me the momentum to keep going, not least of all discovering how many other people see #CraftAsTherapy -  it was after reading their posts that I found the courage to share mine. So here it is:  

I first picked up a crochet hook in hospital, where I was receiving treatment for an eating disorder and picked up a crochet hook for the first time. I was encouraged to fill my day with things that spoke to SOPHIE - not anorexia - so that’s when I picked my Harry Potter books back up and began to see an analogy: Making + Magic = Me. In other words: Wellness = WitchCrafting Wizardry

While treatment provided physical strength to “sock it” to the ED, crafts were my “light in the darkest of times”. They kept me going when the “mind muggles” told me to stop. It was during those weeks in hospital that the first ever SPEW Crew creature was born - a House Elf I christened “Sir Bumble”, who is now CEO (Chief Elf Operator) of Bumble and Be! Every SPEW Crew adoption  card has “certified by Sir Bumble” written at the bottom, because without his knobbly knees and dropped stitches, none of my other crochet beasties would be flying free! 

"We must never forget one thing. 
It all started with a mouse an ELF." 
- Walt Disney

It was during those weeks in 2017 that a nurse suggested I open an Etsy Store. Fellow patients seconded her comment and one girl in particular is an inexhaustible source of motivation for my maker life. Despite having her own struggles, she ALWAYS finds the time to think of me and surprise me with her own magical creations, like the OWL bunting in my first Silver Linings Sunday post! She was also one of the first to ever adopt a SPEW Crew beastie and now has a whole menagerie! 

Two years on from opening my Etsy, I have made over 100 sales, dozens of beasties and more sickles than I ever thought possible. That being said, I will never forget why I started. Like Walt Disney, I will never lose sight of one thing: it all started with an ELF #sockitandsetyourselffree 
DAY 7 || LESS GLAM SIDE   

For this prompt, I decided to have a bit of fan-fiction fun with "the burrow" chapter in Chamber of Secrets. Along with "Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four privet drive", it is the one passage I know by heart, having recited it for my first ever LAMDA exam in Primary School! Some may think I'm bat-poop crazy, but others are "just as sane as I am" and seemed to really like it!  If this month taught me one thing, it's that you can ALWAYS find your tribe and those are the ones who matter.

Life at the Bumble & Be HQ is as different as possible from life in the Beanie Babies Factory. Big Businesses like to everything neat and ordered; the WitchCrafter’s Basket is ready to burst with strange and SPEWtacular surprises.

 Guests probably got a shock when they stepped through the door and heard the WitchCrafter say “Smile for the camera, beasties!” at a group of crochet creatures. Less of a shock would be hearing “PLEASE tidy your yarn stash Sophie!” or following a Hansel and Gretel THREADcrumb trail to the living room… the witchcrafter tries to stay tidy, but she solemnly swears the wool ravels itself! 

It isn’t unusual to find a random monkey head nestled in a ball of yarn (to paraphrase Molly Weasley, "that’s where you’ve been") and eye-box explosions from the living room are considered perfectly normal. Nevertheless, what this whimsical Witchcrafter DOES find most unusual is the fact that people seem to like her - despite all her rambles and bumbling #SmallBiz moments.

“Thank-you”, Potterheads say, when the Witchcrafter shares her ‘Mind Muggles’ and dares to be #instanotready… even if the algorithm doesn’t always agree. In a world of filters, followers & freebies, it’s ok to share those #LessThanGlam moments. In a world of Dursleys, find your inner Luna. Set your SOUL FREE.
     DAY 10 || BEHIND THE NAME   

This one was quite similar to Day 2, but allowed me to talk a bit about my blog roots too (yes, this old thing you're reading!) Long before there were wizards of WitchCrafts, there were simply the words on this screen and the "why" behind them. My blog name is my "why":

BUMBLE AND BE was born in 2016, after searching for a blog name that truly captured Sophie. Before then I was Writing Possibility, which had a nice story behind it (hello Emily Dickinson), but began to feel a bit impersonal. I’d been brainstorming new names for months, but when I finally found my “chosen one” it was completely left-field... I suppose you could say I “bumbled” upon it!

I was in a keywork session with my favourite nurse and she suggested that we un-invent the word “Perfect" and come up with a new name. So what could it be? BUMBLEBEE! Every time I wanted to say "perfect", I would say Bumblebee and just saying the word helped me feel more free. So how did I get to Bumble AND Be? The inspiration came from two of my favourite characters - Albus Dumbledore and Jennifer Honey, who both owe their name to this beeloved beastie. Neither Miss Honey or Dumbledore are perfect. they share a love for the whimsical, wonderful things in life and both understand it doesn’t matter what you are born, or where you’ve come from. 

It’s who you ARE. Bumble and Be is built on the belief that anyone can bloom, no matter the branches that hang overhead, or any winds that try to blow them off course. Like the bumblebee who symbolises personal strength and possibility. So whether you are buzzing through the world, or simply trying to bumble along, live your BEst life. Let yourself BE.
     DAY 16 || WORKSPACE   

When I saw this prompt for #MarchMeetTheMaker I was a bit stupefied. However, I thought it was an opportunity to show one of my favourite things about crochet: PORTABILITY.

In a KNUTSHELL... the world is my Workspace! Brian Bowtuckle spied my beloved Wool Shop bag in the corner of his eye and immediately got to work setting up this prompt.  Five minutes later, you get the picture - literally. I rarely leave the house without my crafting essentials and have been found crocheting on beaches, bus journeys and - on one occasion - standing at the bus stop. 

Where there’s a WitchCrafter there’s a way and I'll always find a way... even if airport security tries to say otherwise! Surely a crochet hook is safer than knitting needles? One of the reasons I actually switched to crocheting is because I found knitting needles siriusly difficult to transport, not least of all because the stitches kept falling off. Thankfully crochet is all off the hook, so never lets me down!

One of my favourite forms of self-care is coffee shop crochet, ft. "fluffy-as-a-cloud" cappuccino froth and "furry-as-a-cavachon" Niffler yarn. It's honestly like giving Millie a cuddle! Bonus silver lining: March was also the month that Cafe W memorised my order - soya cappuccino with chocolate sprinkles. There's ALWAYS time for chocolate sprinkles! 
     DAY 18 || MAKING MISTAKES   
For Day 18, Mildred and Maud Mooncalf wanted to share some WitchCRAFTING Wisdom with the world and who was I to stop them? Once again, I got very whimsical but it ended up being one of my most popular posts - not because of 'likes', but the thing that truly matters: engagement!

Making MISTAKES can equally mean Making MAGIC and no one shows this better than the WORST Witch of her age... Mildred Hubble! If Maud is Hermione’s kindred spirit, than Mildred and Neville are two peas in a pod. When they’re not spilling potions (paint pots) over the floor, they’re clinging onto their broomstick (crochet hook) for dear life and praying a bottle of Felix appears.

"Why is it when I need a shining white knight,
I get you Mildred? Sighed the headmistress. 
Well, maybe I am your shining knight, Miss Cackle." 
- Jill Murphy, The Worst Witch

Maud may have been my Kindred Spirit growing up, but we all have our Mildred moments and it’s important to accept these! As you can see from the photo, Maud and Mildred have different coloured eyes and this caused quite a headache. I’ve been making so many Mooncalves that I had an eye-supply crisis last week, so rushed to buy more and ordered... the wrong colour.  I’ve used both colours in the past, but decided the right pair (Mildred) are more akin to the FB films.

So what’s a witchcrafter to do? 1) “Correct the mistake” and order more eyes. 2) Take a chance with the lighter pair and see how it looks. from What did I discover? They’re basically the colour of moonlight, aka MEANT TO BEE for Miss Maud Moonshine. I love the fact they’re different too, so these beastie besties are also beeatufully unique in their own way! These eyes may have been a mistake, but they were ultimately my “shining light” and that’s a Maker Memo to life by.

     DAY 22 || COMMUNITY   

This caption was very much the inspiration for my last blog post, as it's about SORTING OUT YOUR PRIORITIES. In a world of likes and lip kits, it's not always easy being Luna; however, like our eccentric heroine, I would choose one message of LOVE over 1000 likes. 

Recently, I’ve received quite a few messages requesting “free products” in exchange for a review. There have been half a dozen in the past week alone and not one made specific reference to my “products” - aka the fact they’re not ‘products’... they’re BEASTIES! I’ve been referred to as “you guys” (nope, flying solo over here) and one promised to “show how my product works.”. Again, they’re BEASTIES - no manual needed. Bumble & Be has different priorities: golden smiles, galleons of cuddles and the promise of “Always.” 

"Our choices show who we truly are,
far more than our abilities ADbilities."
- JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets 

These messengers could have more influence than Kylie Jenner and it wouldn’t inspire me to take up their offer, as I know there are “more important things”... authenticity! I‘m NOT against ads; on the contrary, one of my favourite posts recently was Ellis Jade's collaboration with Lucy & Yak, because she’s loved their brand for ages and embodies their sustainable ethos. I love spotlighting makers like Splatter Palette, Katie Abey and Naomi Lord, because they sing to my soul like Dobby and socks.⠀ 

As a small business, I am indebted to the magical human beans who visit Bumble & Be and CHOOSE to share #TheSPEWCrew magic on IG! It is more than a light for my business; it provides an inexhaustible source of magic for the girl behind it. It reminds SOPHIE to keep being her best beastie self, even if it doesn’t scream #instagoals, because these posts mean more than 1000 silent hearts. In a world that tells us to live by likes, I am “protected, in short, by the ability to love" - Dumbledore.
     DAY 29 || ANYTHING GOES   

This was the day that I decided to reveal a not-so-little secret I've been keeping... BIG FRIENDLY GEORGE! As he's by far the biggest house elf I've ever crocheted and used a new type of yarn, I had a lot od doubts over sharing. What if people didn't like him? What if he was "too highly priced." Nonetheless, when I saw this prompt - 'Anything Goes' - I was inspired to turn these mind muggles into some MENTAL HEALTH MAGIC, with the help of my own BFG.

"'What do we want to be prefects for?' said George, 
looking revolted at the idea. 'It'd take all the fun out of life!'" 
- JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askaban

In a world of perfect Percys, we need more Weasley Twin Wisdom! We need a reminder that it’s okay to stupefy the status quo, bumble off the beaten track and build a swamp in your school (on second thoughts, maybe not ...) In the world of Etsy Making, I need to take a leaf out of their book and LET IT GO. Last month, I found myself fixating more on the “perfect product” and consequently forgetting the fun side. I needed to sort out my priorities...

... so that’s how George came to be! He‘s considerably bigger than any Elf I’ve made before, yet this actually happened by accident... the craft shop that sells my usual yarn was out of stock, but with a 30 minute bus journey ahead of my I wasn’t leaving empty handed! So I decided that “anything goes” and picked the next best thing, which meant upsizing from DK to CHUNKY yarn. The jury is still out on which I prefer, but I kinda love how different he is to any other Elf I’ve made! 

His name suits him to a tee and he’s reminded me to be a bit more gutsy and just GO WITH IT... 

On that note, he inspired me to SOCK IT TO SELF-DOUBT and return to the Studio Vlogs! I go behind-the-scenes of my Dobby-inspired #SockItToEatingDisorder Pins (raising money for BEAT), bumble along to my happee place - Waterstones - for a spot of coffee shop crochet and reveal the full story behind Big Friendly George's solitary sock! Spoiler: it  involves Fred, so you may need to grab a box tissues...


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