Sunday, 8 December 2013

Craft Fairs and Cats

Being a vendor at a craft fair is very much an occasion for mixed emotions.  Firstly you have the excitement of anticipation, the worry of whether you will have enough inventory to satisfy the customers, always balanced by the fear that your work won't be liked and everything you take with you will come back too.  There is the set up, trying to showcase your wares in the best possible way to whet the appetite of purchasers, then the ticking by of the minutes until "opening time" comes.  Sometimes your face aches trying to maintain a smile when no-one is interested in your hard work and people walk by without even giving the appearance of a cursory glance.  Sometimes the time flies as the public engage you in conversation and are complimentary.  The more people who come through the door the higher the possibility that someone will like your product and want to buy something, but, really it is a crap shoot, a gamble of table cost, gas money and materials up in the air against possible purchases.  One constant I have found is that the vendors are all nice people, maybe because we are all in the same boat, but there is a sense of community amongst the people behind the tables, they feel for you if you are having a bad day, and they cheer along when you make a sale.

I have some experience now of craft fairs, but a new market for me is internet sales. There is Etsy and Folksy, there is Ebay and Kijiji/Craig's List/ or whatever is the local alternative, they all offer the opportunity of showcasing your products on the internet.  I have used Kijiji for selling pieces of furniture, but personally don't think it is appropriate for crafts.  I have bought from Ebay and may yet sell through them.  I have an Etsy page but to date I have not sold anything there.  Today I made my first internet sale, and it was through my Hetty Jean facebook page.  I opened this page on 24th June 2013, and on 1st December I achieved 100 likers so I decided to run a giveaway.  The winner was Heather Poeschel Leary who has chosen to receive a skunk.  Amazingly from the Monday (1st December) to the Friday (when the giveaway closed) my likers grew by 22!  Now I have broken through another barrier by achieving that first internet sale, and to say I am happy is an understatement.  Miss Hippo has been chomping at the bit for someone to love her, and I think she's packed her suitcase already, she'll be parceling herself up in anticipation of the Post Office opening tomorrow.

My friend Diane suggested to me that I supersize my cat pattern.  Previously my cats have maxed out at 12 inches in height, indeed Miss Hippo is a diminutive 7 1/2 inches.  

So, I had a go, and increased the size of two cats.  The first is 17 inches in height and I used a felted merino wool sweater to make him, his tail uses the ribbing at the bottom of the sweater.  He has a pink wool nose and green eyes.  

 The second cat could in fact be a fox.  I used a great red/cream/pink/grey stripey lambswool sweater for everything except the head which is made of red kashmir.  I think this kittie is a girl, and has a grey wool nose and blue eyes.  

These cats are $35.

What do you think, do they lose some of their character being bigger or is it wrong to compare them?  The bigger ones definitely more cuddly because of the wool content, but I would appreciate input.

Have a happy day!

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Hetty Jean Giveaway on Facebook

Hello my lovelies.  I wanted to let you know that as I have reached 100 likes on the Hetty Jean facebook page, I am having a Century Giveaway.  Time for a happy dance!

All you have to do is go to the Hetty Jean facebook page, like the giveaway post (and the page itself if you haven't already), and leave a comment as to which of my creatures you would like to receive if you should win the giveaway.  If the creature you prefer has already sold I will make another for you.  The giveaway will close at 6pm Eastern time on Friday 6th December at which time a winner will be randomly selected.

Facebook rules say I cannot ask you to share my page with your friends, but if you choose to I would be very grateful as it will increase the number of people who know about Hetty Jean, some of whom may be wanting something exactly like my creatures.

Have a happy day!

Sunday, 1 December 2013

A very Happy (early) Christmas or "There's treasure in that there chest!"

Hello there!  Do you remember the steamer trunk I mentioned previously?  Just to recap, I bought an old steamer trunk which we think dates to around 1900.  There was green canvas and wood battens on the top and sides.

In some areas the canvas was ripped.

So, I addressed the outside by trying to clean the canvas.  The glue which, given it's age, could well have been equine gave off black muck into the water.  The canvas on the top of the trunk was good enough, and we have a small paint of olive paint that I might use to stipple the colour to a slightly deeper intensity just to rejunvenate it.  However, the canvas on the sides was just too, too disgusting.  I had to pull it off and then scrape the remnants of the glue from the pine beneath.  Then Pete got to work, he sanded the wooden areas, and cleaned up the tin and discovered that the lock was brass.  He sanded and buffed with Tung Oil so that the oak battens, pine panels and even the tin panels now have a warm sheen to them.  The leather handles, which sadly don't show in the photos, felt very hard, but with liberal use of the Tung Oil the leather is now a mid-brown rather than brownish-black and feels like leather rather than wood!

When I came home last night from a craft fair it was all ready for me. 

How beautiful is that!!

It is now positioned in front of the big picture window, you can just see my pin cushions on the window ledge, my stitchy chair is to the right of the picture.

Of course, we did not forget the inside.  When we got the trunk, the paper on the interior surface was dried and flaking.

It was most probably pretty once upon a time, but sadly could not be salvaged.  I had to peel it all off.

So, the inside was then sanded down, and then Pete applied two coats of polyurethane. We decided that would be best as I shall be storing, among other things, materials in the trunk and if we finished the interior with an oil it might react with the materials potentially staining them.

So the inside is now pristine too - long gone is the smell of age and mould which the paper housed.

It didn't take long for me to be putting things into the trunk.  In fact it is looking rather full already.

The steamer trunk cost me $30 and Pete refinished it as part of my Christmas present.  It is now a fabulous piece of furniture, a relative treasure chest and I love it.  For next year Pete has promised to make a tray for the interior, you can just see the battens on which it would sit in the above photo.  I can hardly wait!!

Monday evening of the past week we had our first real snow.  About 8 inches fell that night and the world really was a winter wonderland the next morning.  You may just be able to see that the road had already been cleared, they are really efficient at that in our area.  This is the view through the front window.

This is the view from the kitchen window on to the deck and then the back yard.

In fact it has been a weird week, weatherwise.  Thursday and Friday we had very cold temperatures, dropping to -20C Friday morning.  Saturday it flipped up close to 0, and today around +3 giving drizzly conditions.  So, some of the snow has now gone, what is left has compacted down.

I have now started work utilising the merino wool sweaters I purchased at Value Village (it was 50% off day).  They are felted down and I have redrawn my cat pattern to see how it looks in a bigger size.  Photos to follow.

Have a happy day!

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Alpacas and The Doctor

My right index finger hurts.  I'm not sure why other than I've been pushing my needle in and out of some felt.  I finally got around to making some alpacas.  Of course first of all I had to design a pattern, but I had met these gorgeous creatures not so long ago at Amazing Graze Alpacas in Stirling, so I had a good starting place.  

Whilst I was there I bought some roving.

The roving on the left is called Pralines and Cream, and the one of the right is blue/purple/green.  I wasn't ready to go straight into a punk version, so first I used some tan felt and the darker, nutty brown roving and voila, my first alpaca which I am calling Pralines.

Then, as alpacas are communal creatures (just wondering if the plural is alpaca or alpacas?) - (ha, just googled it and the plural can be either!), I thought Pralines needed a buddy.  So I made Cream.

I even tried to do a division on the feet to show how they have two toes on each foot. Here is Cream in a close up.  The eyelashes are killer!

So because alpacas are very affectionate, with each other at least, here they are kissing.  
I hope you like my babies.  They will be available for sale, if you are interested just send me a message.

Finally, The Day of the Doctor!  I enjoyed it.  I liked when they were comparing the size of their sonic screwdrivers, and I loved John Hurt.  I also liked that the marriage of David Tennant's Doctor to Elizabeth I, and his subsequent running off before the honeymoon, explains why she was setting the guard on him in the episode "The Shakespeare Code".  I thought it was very clever the way they tied multiple threads together.  However, I did think it a shame that Billie Piper didn't interact with David Tennant as they have always had such good chemistry on screen.

What did Pete think?  He thought Tom Baker's appearance was the best thing about the show, but then he doesn't appreciate anyone else as the Doctor!

Anyway, enough of this nerdy talk.

We had our first snow yesterday, I can still see a little that remains on  the grass.  It was only a smattering, barely covering the ground, but of course it presages the winter weather to come.  At least it has warmed up a bit, it was minus 10 yesterday.  Ok my lovelies, take care.

Have a happy day!

Friday, 22 November 2013

The Mama Market and Children's TV Puppet Shows

I drove on down to Belleville this afternoon to drop off my creatures for The Mama Market at the Quinte Family Centre on MacDonald Avenue.  I am very excited as it promises to be hugely successful.  I'll let you know how I do afterwards.

I managed to get a new cat finished for the Market, but a new monkey mobile didn't make the cut.  But it will be ready for the next show which is Craft Fushion in Batawa on November 30th.

During the week we drove over the Kingston as I had an hospital appointment.  We had a wonderful lunch at the Mango restaurant on Princess Street (Thai and Pan-fusion) which I heartily recommend.  On the drive home our conversation edged into the absurd.  I think the 1970s must have had a truly ginormous number of children's television shows that used puppets.  We began naming them, indeed it was good fun as we remembered some of these shows.

Of course there were the Muppets, but do you remember Sooty and Sweep:

Basil Brush, whose catchphrase was "Boom, Boom":

 The Magic Roundabout.  I do love Florence's hair!

Rainbow.  Characters from left to right are George, Bungle and Zippy.

Stingray, with the silent mermaid Marina, and of course the dishy Captain Troy Tempest.

The list goes on and on, but I won't bore you to death, but it really did prove to be a very good car game. 

Finally, I'm really looking forward to The Day of the Doctor.  I've loved Doctor Who for years, well love is possibly a bit extreme, but I have memories of watching with my older sister Sarah and both of us would have a pillow to hide our eyes behind when it got scary! So, all in all, this should be a great weekend.  I hope your's will be great too.

Have a happy day!

Thursday, 14 November 2013

A Triceratops Commission

I received a commission on Saturday whilst I was at the Craft Fair from a lovely lady called Doreen.  She wanted a Triceratops similar to the one I had already made.  (Remember him?)

But she wanted him to be twice the size and using royal blue.  Also as her daughter is having a baby shower on Friday, she wanted it to be ready by Thursday.  You'd think something that looks relatively simplistic would be a quick sew, but as my creatures are all hand sewn it does take time, especially as I love to embellish them.  

I am happy to tell you that with two hours to go until I meet Joanne for the "hand-over" the new Triceratops is ready.

So first of all, is he twice the size?

Yup, and definitely royal blue.

His spots are of green wool roving.

His ruff is from a felted Shetland wool cardigan, and the band from the bottom of the cardigan gives the ruff even more dimension.

Gentle green eyes.  I think this is definitely a good guardian to ward off any bad dreams for the new babe.  I'm really pleased with how he has turned out.  I hope his new owner will love him too.

Have a happy day!

Monday, 11 November 2013

I had a good time this last weekend.  Didn't sell much, but I met some superior people.  I met Kathleen of Kathleen's Radical Kreations (just outside Picton).  She makes centrepieces, decorating plates with candles and jewellery, and is such a sweetheart. Look what she gave me.

I also bought some salt rock lamps from A Stone's Throw Studio, just outside Picton in Cherry Valley) for the family room.  Here they are in situ on the shelf above the tv.  We lit tea lights in them last night and they look wonderful, giving a lovely glow to the room.

In the corner of the back wall that the tv sits on is our wood stove.  It hasn't been lit yet this season, but Pete worked hard splitting and stacking our wood, and I think on a dull, grey, drizzly day like today we will appreciate the warmth of a fire tonight.  I just realised you can see my slippered feet reflected in the stove's glass door!

I received a commission on Saturday, so I'm stitching away at the moment as it is for a Baby Shower on Friday.

Have a happy day!