Friday, 20 January 2012

Holy Scripture

Here's what I've been doing this week....

 And I couldn't have done it without my bible. 
Good Housekeeping Step-by-Step Encyclopaedia of Needlecaft, by Judy Brittain.
I learnt to knit from this book, well, not *this* one, but the one my Mum has at home. (I got mine second hand on Abe Books, which I highly recommend if you're ever looking for a particularly old tome). It is the most comprehensive work, covering nearly every craft you could ever want to learn, so long as it involves fibres and fabrics. And being from the 70's it's full of fantastic Aran clad men with beards, babies in crocheted romper suits and all kinds of folksy embroidery on peasant blouses and waistcoats.
Every technique is very clearly illustrated, with colour photographed examples for every section, and precisely written instructions. The start of each chapter has a brief history of that particular craft, and after all the technical instruction there are often projects incoorporating the techniques descibed.

 I cannot recommend this book highly enough, so if you're interested in....

Rag rugging...


Monday, 9 January 2012

Retail Therapy, Part 3

I was given a great opportunity last year to sell my knitted baubles through the cafe where I work, no commission, no strings, just put the baubles on the tree, see if they sell and keep the profits. Brilliant!

I bought the wool....
I did the designs....
I knitted as though my life depended on it....
When the festive season rolled around I labelled them individually, and hung them on the tree...

And four days later not one of them had been sold but 9 of them had been nicked!

If they'd been on the tree all christmas and hadn't sold I'd have been a little disappointed, but no harm done. For so many of them to have been taken and in such a short time, that just made me sad. I probably served those people drinks!

I took the rest of them off the tree after that. And it made me wonder, if as a crafts person you take your work to a craft fair or market and you are the victim of 'stall-lifting', is there a way of recouping your losses? Is there an insurance you can put in place to deal with these events? Perhaps this is the kind of thing I should have already looked into but, to be honest, I never expected that it would happen to me. Naive? Perhaps.

Has anyone else had an experience like this? I hope not, and I hope you never do, because it feels horrible, and there's nothing you can do about it. Unless you fit all your handmade goods with tracking devices, or tiny explosives that you can detonate remotely when you know they've been stolen. But that's a little extreme.

Oh well, at least someone, somewhere had a beautifully baubled tree, even if they didn't pay for it.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Retail Therapy, Part 2

In Christmases past I have tried to be superwoman and make all my gifts, or at least make one thing for each of my immediate family. I enjoy being able to make something specific for someone and know that it's exactly what they'd like and when time isn't an issue it's well worth the effort. But sometimes there just isn't time, and that was the case this Christmas. Instead I resolved to buy each of my family something handmade, and support my fellow designer-makers. Here are my handmade Christmas Highlights:
Both of these beautiful items are by Chatty Nora, a graphic designer based near York. The tote bags she makes are all so beautiful, it took me an age to choose one for my older sister, but as we are a family of cat lovers I think any one of them would have been perfect. I particularly liked the scrolling Art Nouveau text on this one. The Jane Austen quote poster was for my younger sister, and the picture here doesn't show just how much work went into it. All her posters are hand drawn in pen, so each one is unique, and I can't imagine the time that must take, I certainly couldn't have found anything better for my Austen addict sister!

This lovely sock yarn from DyeSpinKnitUK is hand dyed by Kerry, a fellow Merseyside Etsy Team member, and with another skein I bought, made the perfect present for my Mum, who's been knitting and crafting for as long as I can remember.
The colours in the yarns are so beautiful, and there's lots more amazing colours in her Etsy shop, it was hard not to choose things for myself while I was shopping for gifts!

I had a similar problem when I went to Landbaby, so much to look at and so much to want! It might sound odd but I always forget to look up in shops, eye level is buy level as the saying goes. I thought I'd seen everything there was to see  and was struggling to choose, and then I glanced up at the top shelves and saw so much more!   I managed to restrain myself though and only came away with presents, a lovely pink felt brooch by Love Ruby Red, and some amazing birdie hair slides by Layla Amber for my friend Jo. I don't have a picture of them but here's some lovely budgie studs, and you can see other lovely illustrated items in Landbaby or in her Etsy shop.

I'll admit I struggled with my Dad, handmade for men is always a little trickier, but I'd seen this for sale from one of the exhibitors at the Liverpool Design Festival, and it seemed just the thing, not handmade but definitely not high street either, a happy compromise!

Next time, a tale of retail woe....

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Retail Therapy, Part 1

As I mentioned in my previous post this past month has been a hectic one, with some great opportunities for selling my designs and meeting other crafts people. 

I began at the end of November with the Christmas on Hope Street event at Blackburne House. I wouldn't have known about this at all had it not been for the Merseyside Etsy Team, and I'd have missed out on a really lovely event. I have a particular soft spot for Hope Street as I spent three years in a shabby building at the very end of the street while doing my BA, and know the area well. The event itself was a lot bigger than I was expecting even though it only occupied Blackburne House itself and the grounds outside.There was so much to see and do and unfortunately I saw and did very little of it, the pitfalls of going solo to these things, there's never a good chance to look around. I did manage to pick up a couple of treasures for myself, and heard good things about the rest of the event from friends who stopped by for a chat. It was really well attended and brilliantly organised by Orb Events, a great start to the season!

Next up was the Winter Arts Market at St Georges Hall, this was the biggie. I'd heard so much about last years event from other makers, and having been there as a shopper I knew how busy it would get. So I booked a week off the day job to prepare. Excessive? Well, I had holiday to use up!

The Saturday was brilliant, despite the awful weather, and I had a great day, talked to lots of lovely shoppers and had some repeat custom from folks I'd sold to at Hope Street and the L1 fair in September too. Sunday started out much slower and looked to be a bit of a disappointment, but I had a bit of a peak later in the afternoon, most noticeably when I sold both my upcycled muffs! These were some of the first things I ever made and never failed to get compliments when I've had them at fairs, but they never sold. I even had a conversation with my boyfriend on the Saturday night and he said I should just accept that now was not the time for muffs. Proved him wrong! Overall I had a fantastic weekend and I'd love to do more fairs with Open Culture in the future.

I rounded off my trio of fairs with the Made Here Chistmas Market on Bold Street. As ever this was a lovely event to do, the organisers do a great job, the location is brilliant and the other stall holders are always wonderful. This time round I even had a surprise visit from my sister bearing christmas presents and a hangover!

Hopefully next year will bring many more opportunities like these, so I'd better get making!

Retail Therapy, Part 2: Handmade highlights in my Christmas shopping, coming soon...

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