Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Upfront but impersonal

The weekend fair in Whixley went extremely well thanks to Polly's hard work advertising and signposting. It's a convenient location just off the A59 between York and Harrogate so lots of customers called in out of interest having seen the sign. I was sorry not to see several loyal customers, though, and wondered whether it was this different venue or just other commitments which kept them away.

First sale of the day was this very pretty doll's highchair
Over the 2 days with return journeys home and to my daughter's house in Leeds I calculate I covered almost 500 miles and almost emptied a full tank of diesel, no small consideration these days.
In fact I was praying not to have to refuel as it was almost exactly a year ago following another successful Country Chic fair that I accidentally filled my lovely diesel Saab with petrol and ended up returning home in a tow truck!

Soft faded florals are favourites at this fair
In the earlier days of my business I relied on my husband to help with the weekend fairs; navigating, driving, unloading and reloading at the various venues. He filled the hours of the fair playing golf in any nearby course which would have him. The downside of course was that his rather large bag with clubs had to be accommodated alongside the stock, taking up valuable space.
And then I decided to bravely go.. alone. In fact I'm fairly sure it coincided with the purchase of a sat nav.
And so no more golf clubs and more to the point no more front seat passenger..a huge space to fill with stock particularly that of the more awkward size and dimensions. I recall a Lloyd Loom chair on one occasion although extracting it on arrival was somewhat tricky

More often though I've been accompanied by my mannequin. I make aprons and sometimes sell linen smocks or vintage dresses and these are much better displayed on a dummy than simply folded. We were recalling at the weekend how lone women drivers were advised to put a blow up doll in the front seat to discourage attackers after a motorway murder. I'm not sure how convincing my headless dummy is but you probably wouldn't want to tangle with a woman who travels with one would you?

At present though the most likely "passenger" is a standard lampshade or two. I couldn't believe how huge these could  be when I first started to make them and realised they took almost half of the space in the back. Wedged in the front seat, taking care not to obscure the wing mirror, they are much more manageable.
I've just covered 3 frames with different fabrics. This textured white linen is always a favourite and is equally lovely in a sitting room or bedroom.

I've just acquired a huge piece of this soft linen ticking, enough for a couple of large shades. Really like this shape with a large mother of pearl button trim

Classic mangle cloth stripe is a perennial favourite.

Lots more shades and bases so do email if you want images; the standard lamps and shades are typically £80 complete or £48 shade only. I've been hoarding some enormous boxes to courier these shades but of course they make the perfectly behaved passenger if you collect.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Calling North Yorkshire

This weekend sees the first Country Chic fair of 2012; these popular fairs have been running for many years now and I came on board in 2004. Polly uses pretty village halls in North Yorkshire villages as venues and advertises widely in the locality so fingers crossed we always have plenty of customers. They are small events with about 10 stalls but as these are homogeneous ,if you like one ,chances are you'll enjoy everyone's stock. I just have to hope my offerings are as attractive on the day as Michele's, Alex's Edwina's et al.

This time we're in Whixley, just 5 minutes from the Knaresborough turn off on the A1 so hopefully easy to access for most customers. Whixley is a very pretty village in lovely walking country; I'm always slightly frustrated not to see the surrounding countryside on these occasions but hopefully there will be equal attractions indoors and if the weather is grim you can spend most of the day at the fair. Many people do although the food and drink on offer are at least part of the reason.

I have a really good selection of cushions and lampshades this time as this is the first in a group of fairs over the next few weeks.

 I'm also pleased with the selection of jars and jugs I have at present; interesting rareties include a couple of lovely French wooden horses on wheels

Apologies that there are no images of these; with a great sense of timing my camera broke as my daughter opened her birthday gifts last Sunday. The last one gave up the ghost last year whilst in South Africa so I am feeling somewhat aggrieved although perhaps I'm just clumsy. Happily it was the only blot on a very happy weekend with the whole family here; next weekend will be all about that other love ..matters vintage.
Do hope you'll come along..details on the left or visit Polly's website.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

The beautiful Roseland penisula

Just back from my short holiday in Cornwall and keen to tell you about the lovely Homespun fair.
Gertie and her team had worked hard to make a smooth running day which was busy from the start. The rain fell steadily all day although thankfully not as heavily as it did once we were packed up. Nevertheless, or perhaps because it was too wet for the beach, we had lots of customers and the hall was packed with talent and creativity. I bought lots of cards from Liz on the next stall, they put my designs to shame so I will be sending hers instead.

Just a glimpse of what I brought along but suffice to say that on the way home the car was much easier to pack and Ken remarked that it was lovely to be able to see out of the back window.

Gertie was complaining that her stall looked empty after the busy Country Living fair but of course it was as lovely as ever and with a great selection of sewing baskets and Suffolk puffs. The ladies from The Sea Garden had had a very successful stall at the CLF; read about it on their blog

I hankered after this beautiful horse but he was very expensive, perhaps his owner didn't really want to part with him.

Viv from Hen's Teeth had also made a holiday of it and brought her exquisite work to Cornwall.
The fair takes place in Portscatho, a beautiful coastal village on the Roseland penisula in southern Cornwall.

 The Roseland coastline is much softer than the north side and generally more tranquil.

Walking around the penisula is such a joy, the views across the sea, fabulous hedgerows full of flowers and tiny coves to climb down into make even a wet day enjoyable.

We had mixed weather but 2 lovely sunny days when we were able to take a long walk and eat crab sandwiches and Cornish pastys in the open.

Looking across to St Mawes from the tiny hamlet of Place; I was focusing on the single green house in rows of whitewashed buildings
 However our accommodation was so cosy it was no hardship to stay in and read. We stayed at Maggie and Mike's fabulous barn just outside Portscatho and received a warm welcome from them. It was lovely to pretend to be a local and make a 10 minute drive to the village hall on the day of the sale; just as well as I had forgotten to change the time on my phone and so the alarm went off an hour later than intended!

I sold a lovely green enamel jug filled with cow parsley I had spotted at the side of the road.

This acid green plant is much more common at this time of the year, a lady told me it is known as Alexander but no idea of its botanical name.

These relatives of the garden achillea were growing in the rocks on one of the Roseland beaches.

As usual I pondered the listings in the estate agents windows wondering if I could live in Cornwall; so much natural beauty on the doorstep, so many creative communities to network with but no cinema or theatre nearby and none of the friends I've made over the last 25 years in Nottingham. It remains a daydream although spending time with the Homespun stallholders made the dream more real but for now I just brought home the usual reminder..a pile of pebbles
The next fair is in North Yorkshire, another beautiful part of the world which will have me daydreaming all over again

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

An early summer

I'll start by apologising for the time that has passed since my last post. As I write I feel the arrogance inherent in that sentence; it implies a horde of people waiting on my every musing so I will qualify by adding that this apology is to those faithful few who are kind enough to follow and hopefully enjoy my postings. But then probably all of you like me have been awol in a garden or on a beach during this last sunny week or two.
When I left a salaried position to be self employed I vowed that I would embrace the flexilbility that it brought but too often weekend fairs, stock to be made or other tasks prevent this and I find myself missing out on good weather, exhibitions etc. This early and unseasonable hot sunshine was just too good to waste and of course would be very short lived. I found myself musing on the term for an unexpectedly early an Indian summer but before not after the real thing. In fact of course this could be the real thing and as I write it rains outside so who knows when we shall next need our t shirts and shorts.

So most of last week was spent in the garden and some of it kneeling to weed not sitting to read but I was able to pass off one jaunt as work. On Friday I drove to  a small hamlet in Derbyshire to collect 2 chairs from the upholsterer who lives and works in a converted chapel not far from Chatsworth. He can look out onto fields filled with sheep and lambs and I did find myself envying him the country life. Must add here that later that day I was in a city centre cinema, 10 minutes from home, and I'm not sure I could do without that weekly fix.

I digress as ever; the chairs look great, both covered in vintage linens provided by me. It is a joy to have found someone who enjoys working with different fabrics and sees handwoven linens as a challenge not an annoyance.

Very pleased with this chair which was covered in an 1980s check and looks much happier in simpler mode.
I chose a heavy weight French linen sheet so that it could fit in in a living room or here in a bedroom; perfect spot to listen to our old LPs. Its a neat shape and will be a useful chair to add in to the living room when guests are round. I am however planning to sell this one so do ask for images/price if interested.

Chair number 2 was apparently more of a challenge requiring a seat rebuild as well as recovering. I bought it several years ago covered in a pretty blue stripe and had resisted changing this fabric but as a chair it was uncomfortable and precarious so when I acquired a Hungarian mattress cover it seemed its time had come.

I love the red on cream stripe and it matches the sack I use as a bathmat so it's currently residing in the bathroom. Perfect while waiting for the bath to fill or painted nails to dry.
This week and an Easter fair on the horizon I have had to get back to work. I bought a patchwork quilt for cutting last month and have been turning it into a variety of cushions and lavender bags.

I find the extra bulk of the quilting is great for comfy cushions and well stuffed lavender hearts. It is a mixture of mauves and pinks with a central section of red although as there is a sod's law to all things here it is that the most worn areas are in the most lovely prints.

I have made 4 large cushions suitable for a bed or large sofa and then a collection of smaller ones to show off the prettiest sections of the quilt

This tiny cushion uses all of one part of the design.

I think I have confessed a love of glass jars in these posts and have a new collection to sell.

I've filled these French parfait jars with seasonal painted eggs and hope they'll look good on my stall at the Homespun fair in Portscatho on Easter Monday.

I'm looking forward to this fair in one of my favourite holiday destinations; both to sell, meet up with friends and find out more about the vintage scene in Cornwall. We've been visiting the Roseland penisula for over 20 years now and cinema going apart could imagine living there so I shall be pretending for a brief few days that I am a local.

Hope you'll come along if you live or are visiting nearby.
Details on the left or