Mill House Designs

I’m Steph and I live in a village at the foot of the Pennines near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire with my husband and 2 teenage sons.

How I got started:
I have always loved making things. From being very young, when I used to bake with my Mum and when my grandmother taught me to knit aged about 6. I knitted my way through university and have continued ever since, with forays into many other crafts, several of which I have continued with.

Although I had always made a few items to support school and community fairs, I decided to set up as a business in September 2010. Initially I traded as Steph’s Crafty Bits (and I still have an Etsy shop and Facebook page under this name) but decided that Mill House Designs sounded a bit more grown up and business-like. The name came from our house which previously belonged to the owner of one of the last remaining family-owned textile mills in the area. The mill has since been demolished but we have kept the name (and a little bit of the monogrammed carpet from the offices!) Our logo was drawn by a draughtsman friend from an original photo of the mill.

What I sell:
As I have said, I love knitting and one of the ranges I make is knitted and felted handbags and slippers. Wool is warm without causing the overheating that can happen with synthetic fibres so it’s great for slippers and it’s always exciting to try out a new felted design and see how it turns out. These projects take a considerable time to make as the knitted fabric has to be at least twice its final intended size, which means that the handbags in particular are part of a fairly small and exclusive range.

I also enjoy creating colour and spend lots of time dyeing knitting yarn, woollen tops for spinners and felters, patchwork fabric and embroidery threads. Many of these are listed in my Etsy shop. I have also created a range of hand-dyed stranded jersey scarves which have been popular.

Again on the woolly theme, big sellers in the run up to Christmas were my dyed and felted phone and e-reader cases which are decorated with needle-felted designs. Luckily, my supplier for the undyed and unfelted fabric and the woollen tops is local and it’s great to be able to visit the factory and choose exactly what I want to work with.
Last February I read an article online about making buttons from polymer clay, tried it out and was totally hooked. I make a whole range of buttons which have advanced in leaps and bounds since my first attempts, as well as polymer clay jewellery in many different styles and designs.

Where do I sell?:
Through a small number of local shops, on line through Etsy, at local craft fairs, and at parties in people’s homes.

Contact me:
Email: millhousedesigns@btinternet.com
Facebook: Steph’s Crafty Bits
Twitter: @steph_crafty

What’s on my work table now?:
Lots of polymer clay as I’m designing new buttons and some special jewellery with Valentine’s Day and Mothers’ Day in mind.

What’s next for 2013?:
I think I’d like to write a blog (and hopefully get lots of followers!)
I’d like some more retail outlets in my local area (or further afield)
I’d love to set up my own website with an on line shop
I’d like to write some more knitting patterns. My friend owns a local yarn shop and I have designed a couple of patterns which we have made up into kits with yarn from the shop www.spunshop.co.uk. I sell buttons here too.

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