Tuesday 24 November 2015

Meet The Maker: A Christmas Special with Tiny and Toad

You may or may not have noticed that #MeettheMaker has been taking a little break. #CraftyChristmas is the perfect opportunity to bring it back for 2016 and I am pleased to be featuring Louise of Tiny & Toad with her very lovely crocheted Christmas wreath!

Thanks so much for joining us Louise! Let's get settled for the interview. What is your favourite Christmas tipple?
Christmas Day always calls for a glass of something sparkly and for me, it’s got to be Prosecco.

How about some Christmas nibbles? Would you prefer Mince pie or Christmas pud?
Mince Pies - there’s just something about the buttery pastry combined with mincemeat that say ‘Christmas’ to me, in fact, last year I made Mince Pies with my boys (Tiny & Toad!) on Christmas Eve and we delivered them to our neighbours which I think might become a little tradition.

That is so lovely. I bet you're the favourite neighbours on the street haha. Tell us a bit more  about you. 
I am Louise Portass, Mum of two little boys (Tiny & Toad). We live in the small town of Liskeard in Cornwall and I’m just in the process of turning myself into a Work at Home Mum having launched my Etsy store on 16 October. I started blogging about craft and family life as Tiny & Toad as a new year’s resolution this year and I am really enjoying it. The craft business grew out of the blog and my love for all things crafty, in particular crochet. I love all kinds of fibre art and therefore my work combines crochet, needle felting, sewing and anything else that feels right for any particular piece.

What is the item you are sharing with us?
The very first wreath that I ever made and was a real labour of love at the time as I was on maternity leave with my youngest son and about to move house. That said, it was made in May! I gave in during the last week of November last year and hung in up (on the inside of the front door because I couldn’t bare the thought of it being spoiled outside!) as I just couldn’t wait any longer. I guess it’s kind of where Tiny & Toad began.

It is a fabulous wreath. I wouldn't want to put it outside either! What was your inspiration for the item?
I had admired the wreaths made by Lucy of Attic24 and wanted to have a go at one myself, in my own simple style. As a child, I remember Mum nipping out to the garden sometime in December to cut Holly which she then used to decorate the house and it’s something that I always imagined doing when I had a house of my own. However, to date, I haven’t had a garden with a holly bush so this wreath was the next best thing. You could say that it’s actually better than the real thing, because it is reusable!

I love Attic24 and it is also one of my inspirations! How long have you been crocheting and how did you learn?
I taught myself to crochet in the Autumn of 2009 whilst undergoing chemo following a molar pregnancy (a rare form of pregnancy loss ). I needed something to keep my mind and hands busy and a friend had just taken it up, so I thought I would give it a try. I bought a ‘how to' book (which I still have) and really struggled to understand the diagrams, so resorted to Youtube. It was fabulous therapy but the bug didn’t really take hold until after I had my youngest son in 2013 - now, if I am not crocheting or looking after my sons, that I am probably thinking about the next project and sometimes, I can be found doing all three at once.

I am sorry to hear that you went through that. It's great to hear from someone else who has turned to craft as a therapt. Where do you do your crafting? Do you have a designated space or room?
I have a craft room - our spare room - but I find where I work depends on what I have to do. I find it most comfortable to crochet sitting on the sofa with my feet up (shamefully, on the coffee table) and tend to sit at my desk in the craft room to do nearly everything else.

It's always nice to have a 'space' but I love the sofa crafts. So where can the Crafty B’s find you online?
They can find me in a few places; Etsy, FacebookThe BlogTwitterPinterest

What will you be doing this Christmas?
Christmas is always at home, it’ll be an open house affair this year - all members of our families are welcome to spend some or all of Christmas Day and Boxing Day with us. Mr T&T and I always go to town with a big home made spread - we like to try new recipes every Christmas. We’ll eat around 1pm and it may not be Turkey. Last year, we had gammon which was lovely for a change. We always buy a Christmas Pudding just incase someone wants some, but they’re usually too full up of the main event and a fruity desert usually fits the bill instead of Christmas pud. The first words I heard on Christmas Day last year were “Mummy, he’s been!” which was absolutely magical. Tiny wasn’t talking much last Christmas, but this year he knows what it’s all about, so I am looking forward to hearing two little voices waking us up at crazy am.

Sounds like a great Christmas to me! Do you have any personal traditions over the holidays?
The boys have a crocheted stocking advent calendar which we fill each year rather than buying chocolate advent calendars and we have embraced the ‘Elf of the Shelf’ idea. We do our own thing with our Elves (Ahren and Aubrey) and of course, they are crocheted. It’s also become a bit of a tradition to let the boys each choose what to put out for Father Christmas and the Reindeer - one year it was orange juice and a ham sandwich!

What is the best thing about Christmas?
For the first 23 days of December it’s undoubtedly the decorations and the build up - only the bathroom escapes untouched, but once work is finished and family start to assemble it is the opportunity to spend quality time with those that we love. Once the main event is over, it’s the one time of year when Mr T&T usually both have time off work and actually sit still and just enjoy being for a while.

Do you have any big plans for 2016?
Personally, it’s been a big few years since 2011, so I am hoping for a quiet one next year. As for Tiny & Toad, I am planning to expand my made to order range and to develop my own patterns and kits. There's so much that I want to do that I’m not entirely sure where sleep fits in.

Complete the following sentences

I will start my Christmas shopping….
I started it on Boxing Day 2014 with a bit of online sale shopping!

My best ever Christmas gift was….
Spending Christmas in our forever home (hopefully!) for the first time - last year.

My worst (but gratefully recieved ;-) ) Christmas gift was….
That’s easy. My husband once decided that purple was my colour (it most definitely isn’t) and gave me a thinsulate fleece hat, scarf and gloves set together with a top. Not only was the top purple, but it was a large - I was a size 10! He knows very well that I wasn’t at all grateful - and we’ve discussed it, and laughed, whilst I have been typing these responses.

Our Christmas dinner normally consists of….
All the trimmings but not always turkey. We like to experiment with new recipes for veg at Christmas and there is always an abundance of potatoes (I can’t resist cold roasties on boxing day)

Christmas wouldnt be christmas without…..
My family

The best Christmas song is….
It’s got to be Band Aid, Do They Know It’s Christmas - the original version.

My favourite Christmas decoration is…
Apart from my wreath (of course!) , it’s the fairy lights. Whether on the tree, outside or draped across my mantelpiece, I just love the magic that little lights bring.

My most memorable Christmas was…
Oooh, this is s tricky one. I’d say actually the one year that we weren’t at home for Christmas - we went travelling in 2010/11 and spent Christmas in Bali. We managed to find a tiny plastic tree in a supermarket together with a handful of decorations but, other than that, Christmas Day was like any other..except that Mr T&T had a tummy bug and spent the entire day in bed so I went to a yoga class, swam in the pool and I seem to remember had some kind of pot noodle affair for Christmas Dinner. The first meal we had when we touched down in the UK the following March was the Christmas Dinner that we had missed - complete with crackers! That experience has made me appreciate all of the Christmases since just that little bit more.

Well this has been a fabulous way to kick start #MeettheMaker for 2016. Thank you so much for indulging us in a bit of nattering Louise. It has been lovely to meet you.

If you fancy featuring in #MeettheMaker in the new year, send me an email with a picture of the handmade (by you) item you would like to feature and 'Meet the Maker' in the subject. 

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