Monday, 30 September 2013


Because I can have a few days off being on High Productivity mode...

The craft fair was fun. Tiring, but fun. Here's my stall (complete with assistants) - we were all set up in plenty of time and had a nice spot with a welcome breeze. Come midday the sun was shining directly overhead and polytunnels are very warm places indeed.

This is the view from outside: a pumpkin field. It was lovely in the morning to wander around, breathe in the fresh air and take it easy before the day began.

I got a chance to chat with other, more experienced stallholders. One lady in particular had some very lovely things and gave me lots of helpful advice. And she even bought some of my wares.

We had family around too so Joe got to play outside (he particularly liked the chickens). We had a bit of a picnic, and Jay took him home for a couple of hours in the afternoon for his nap. Kenyon Hall's pretty near home so it worked out nicely.

It was definitely a learning experience but the aim was to recoup the cost of the stall. I managed that and also made quite a tidy profit. For someone who hopes to earn money flexibly and enjoy what they do, it was a huge boost and a good start.

Here's what I learned:

Selling at a fair is hit-and-miss but it's great to meet people face-to-face
Prints (lino cuts) and vintage pottery are popular
Knitted and sewn items, not so much (although I sold some wristwarmers)
Networking isn't that hard or intimidating
Selling online is a good option too so I'll try both.

So I've set up a Facebook page and decided that the more time-consuming crafts are probably better done purely for enjoyment and gifts for family and friends. And I'll be concentrating on art and vintage bits and pieces for the commercial side of things.

Yesterday was nice and relaxed. No deadlines or plans to work to. Although I did make a little something: a fox brooch from a kit (from this month's Mollie Makes magazine). I think I must have the bug....

Thank you all for your good wishes. It was tiring but inspiring!

Friday, 27 September 2013


It's been a busy few days. And Joe had to see the emergency doctor again last night so we were sitting around in a waiting room for ages. Luckily he's fine - just a cold and sore throat. Calpol is a wonderful thing.

Jay booked today off work to help out with last-minute preparations for the craft and vintage fair tomorrow. My first ever one!

I did a mock-up of the stall in the kitchen. It took a lot longer than expected.

Apparently the tables are 6 feet long. I seem to have more things than space so there was a lot of considered arranging and rearranging.

I've also been busy pricing, printing out contact details and writing labels. And I'm in love with the fabric. Ikea, if you're interested. I think it was £5 per metre which is very reasonable (it's really nice quality).

I'd been hoping to model some of the wristwarmers tomorrow but if today's weather is anything to go by I won't be needing them - the market's being held in a huge polytunnel. Things could get very warm indeed.

Everything's all packed and ready to go. Lots of change (should anyone actually makes a purchase), props, stock, just-in-case things like scissors and sellotape...

And the wooden crates (which Jay painted for me) are nice and dry, ready to display my wares.

Hopefully I'll get some sleep tonight - no lying awake in a panic. I'm determined not to be disheartened if people just walk past tomorrow. You win some, you lose some. If at first you don't succeed etc. etc...

Wish me luck!

Sunday, 22 September 2013


It's been a busy weekend. Busy in a good way. Yesterday we went back to Lancashire in the mist and drizzle and had a thoroughly enjoyable family meet-up and walk before playing in the park where I (mis)spent my formative years.

As usual I seem to be watching Joe - can't take my eyes off him!

Here he is again. I've been playing with photo editing (thanks to Annie for the links) and they made an interesting change from Photoshop...

I also picked up a few vintage bits and pieces for the craft fair. Although I may struggle to bring myself to part with this 1960s set.

The plan was to buy mid-20th century crockery and vases then put them on my stall alongside the things I've made. I'll just have to be firm with myself.

I'll be sad if this dish goes too - I love the pattern and colours.

And this little vase is sweet (but has a tiny chip in it). Actually, the '60's coffee set has four perfect cups and saucers. The fifth cup has a little chip. So I can keep that one - it has its own saucer too so that all works out.

The little nook under the stairs has become a work area as we now have a PC and it needs somewhere to live. Any excuse for an organising session.

And a moodboard making session (love that cushion). The photo is from Living etc magazine I think.

The tidiness didn't last long. Already the desk has been invaded by pots of pencils and charcoal, paper flowers, bits of lino printing and a stack of empty picture frames.

I've been printing all afternoon today and the kitchen became a temporary studio. There are now prints drying all over the place. I'll share some pictures in my next post. Hope you had a nice weekend!

Friday, 20 September 2013

Afternoon delights

Figs, honey and Greek yogurt. Figs are one of the most beautiful fruits to look at: the purple-blue skin, the rose-coloured flesh (pretty vegetables would have to include artichokes and those blue-green squash).

A tester print from a lino cut of a sunflower seed head. A bit patchy but that can be remedied - I'm happy with the actual cut so that's the hard work done...

I recently bought an old-school spider plant from a stand run by volunteers from a mental health charity. Spider plants are actually quite hard to get hold of these days. They must be out of fashion. And I mean 'old school' quite literally - they remind me of the dusty windowsills of my primary school classroom.

It seems quite happy in the kitchen but I don't know how to take these little spiderlings off and plant them. Google, here I come.

I always have dark chocolate in the fridge. Jay brought this one home: dark chocolate with cocoa nibs. I can't leave it alone. Little crunchy, smoky-tasting bits inside. We will be stocking up.

We've been harvesting the chillies and stringing them up to dry.

These Honesty stems were growing by a lane I walked along with Joe on Wednesday so they've been added to the enamel jug on the table.

Do not adjust your set... a bright orange gourd turns luminous in the afternoon sun.  

Sea-holly shadows on the blackboard: it was a bit of a challenge getting this photo as the sun kept disappearing behind fast-moving clouds. 

We've been out walking a lot this week, enjoying the freshness in the air and spotting conkers, toadstools and the leaves turning brown.

I love Friday nights. There's a bottle of prosecco in the fridge waiting to be opened, a blanket on the sofa to curl up underneath and a programme I recorded from BBC Four on knitting. Sounds dull, looks good. Hope you have a nice weekend!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Saying one thing but meaning another

Today's post really is sent to you from the blustery North. The past two days have been cold, wet and windy.

My parents just returned from a long weekend in Whitby which by all accounts was surprisingly sunny and reasonably warm. Having spoken to both of them on their return, we complained about how awful the weather in these parts is at the moment. 

But actually, I like this kind of weather. Maybe it's because I'm still getting used to it after that searingly hot summer. More likely is the fact that I do like it. Even the staying indoors doing housework part of it. I've made a big pan of soup, read to Joe and (when he has a nap) knitted like crazy. I've enjoyed the fresh smell when I open the kitchen door and the upstairs windows, and I've watched the wind whipping the trees about.

I follow Very British Problems on Twitter ('Spending the entire evening debating whether or not to put the heating on' and 'Saying "It's definitely getting chillier" upwards of fifty times a day'), and we all know that talking about the weather is very British. Complaining about it is also a national pastime. But in reality I like wellies and umbrellas and puddles. A true pluviophile (as mentioned in an earlier post).

Having said that, the forecast for tomorrow says it'll be dry so I'm going out for a walk before cabin fever sets in.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Early autumn at the allotment (part two)

I promised a second post about our recent visit to Jay's Auntie Cath's allotment near Liverpool (and I was snap-happy so came away with a ton of photos). 

One of the best things about allotments is that they're little communities with people each doing their own thing: some are all about impeccably tidy plots with flowers growing for cutting whilst others are real working spaces with little regard for prettiness and a focus on functionality.

There were some late roses blooming. They were just asking you to go and stick your nose inside and inhale deeply.

This 'pond' is sited on the abandoned plot Cath has her eye on. I love the whole idea of re-using an old bathtub.

There were lots of plummy plums growing - hopefully they'll be picked and eaten. There's no sadder sight than a fruit tree with all its harvest lying rotting on the ground. I'd love an apple, pear or plum tree - people who have them are very fortunate. 

These were growing on the empty plot too. I took a few stems for my everlasting display in the kitchen.

I'm not sure why but abandoned gardens always seem to have an old mirror lying around. I kept a respectable distance - seven years' bad luck is not what I need at the moment.

Cath sent us home with lots of produce including these huge yellow courgettes. They were promptly added to stir-fry, soup and a big batch of tomato sauce. The freezer's very well-stocked at the moment. In fact I've recently started daydreaming about getting one of those big chest freezers. 

Once upon a time I dreamed about expensive shoes and bags.

I don't miss that.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

A night out and a day at home

Jay's week off wasn't quite as relaxed and stay-at-home as we'd planned, so this weekend we decided to do very little. Having said that we did go into Manchester last night to see these. It was loud, sweaty and very crowded.

We left with our ears ringing and stopped off for junk food on the way home. The last time we watched them was in the same venue a couple of years ago, long before we had to consider babysitters.

Joe actually had a lie-in this morning (possibly because he's on medicine for an ear infection) so we had an easy day: I did a bit of making for the craft fair then we had a wander around the Moss in the afternoon sunshine.

It was slightly chilly but just right for me. In fact I decided that if I had to choose a time of year to be stuck in for eternity, this would be it.

Now Joe has his new carrier we can go off-piste a bit. So we wandered down to an open area which is a preserved peat bog. There were lot of blackberries. Fat, juicy blackberries.

I can only assume they're so good because of the soil. That and the fact that they get bright sun for most of the day.

Oops. I told you they were juicy. And no, that is not suitable foraging footwear. The picking session was an impromptu one.

Tomorrow: apple and blackberry crumble with custard.
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