As the current pandemic continues to change the way we go about our lives, I’m beginning to wonder if we’ll need to write off this entire year when it comes to participating in indoor craft fairs and markets. I’ve already been told one of the markets I sell at over the Christmas period won’t be going ahead for 2020, so there’s a good chance the vast majority will follow suit.
On the up-side, there has been a rise in online (virtual) markets – the ones I’ve seen have been on Instagram and Facebook. Having taken part in one last month with Bluebirds Handmade Market, I’ve got the bug and signed up for another for next weekend with Handmade and Creative and have realised that they require as much pre-planning and on the day dedication as a live market. One thing is for sure, I’m now beginning to get to grips with “stories” and all that goes with it on Instagram … Facebook, sadly, is still a head scratching puzzle for me!
So, the Handmade and Creative fair, which can be accessed by using the hasthtag #handmadeindoors on Instagram, will take place on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th June between 7 and 10pm – perfect for when you’ve settled on the sofa after a busy day with a cuppa or glass of something chilled and you’re ready to go virtual browsing and buying from a fantastic selection of UK sellers.
I’ve been busy at the sewing table building up stock levels with a few cute mini brooches and small mixed media artworks added to the list. Commissions will be open before, during and after the market if you’d like something special made. Hope you can join us.
With my last Christmas market on the horizon I’m keeping my needle threaded, my charms and beads at the ready, and boosting stock levels whenever I have a spare hour!
Last week’s fair at Pensthorpe was amazing! The weather actually stayed dry (in fact the sun peaked out for a short while), the line up of independent sellers was fabulous and the organisation was brilliant. I’m looking forward to my final fair of the year, and as it’ll be my third year at Deepdale, I know it will a lovely weekend with a great atmosphere.
If you are in Norfolk (or surrounding counties) and fancy a trip out to start or finish your Christmas shopping, then do consider dropping by Deepdale at Dalegate Market, you won’t be disappointed. It’s free to enter and free parking, and with vast selection of stalls, in marquees, barns, pop up sheds and the church too, plus delicious grub to enjoy, you won’t be disappointed.
Ellie’s Treasures will be inside the Brick Barn and I’ll be accepting commissions over the weekend should you be looking for something specific.
As felt is one of the textiles that I use to produce my items I thought I’d let you know a bit about this amazingly versatile fabric. I chose felt as my main medium because of its vast colour range and the fact it is a forgiving, easy to use fabric. I can gently pull it into shape should I need to (although it isn’t elastic, so over pulling means it can completely mis-shape), it’s easy to cut and needs no hemming making it the perfect base for layering fabrics and embellishments.
Felt is a man-made fabric which has been created from natural materials and is thought to be one of the oldest textiles around. Said to have been created in Asia, the Nomadic people are still using traditional methods to product felt for practical uses including tents and clothing. There are tales of St. Christopher and St. Clement, when fleeing from persecution, stuffing their sandals with wool to ease their feet and finding the wool had turned into felt socks due to the mix of continuous movement and sweat.
The traditional process of making felt is a combination of matting, condensing and pressing the fibres together. When I was home educating my two children, we went along to a workshop where we turned wool roving into felt using hot soapy water and rubbing the fibres in a circular motion with our fingers to eventually end up with a small pieces of felt (you can read my blog post about it here). It was a time consuming but worthwhile exercise with an end result of colourful artwork having combined felt and roving to make patterned pieces. An easier way is to pop an unwanted pure wool sweater or similar in the washing machine on a hot cycle – the heat and water will shrink and combine the fibres to produce felt.
Being a popular medium, felt is now manufactured to use in many areas of life, including the automotive industry, musical instruments, home construction and fashion, to name just a few, and there are different types of felt for different types of use.
100% synthetic is a man-made felt using mainly acrylic, polyester and viscose (rayon). As it is widely available and produced in an array of fabulous colours, including glittery and self-adhesive, it is ideal for general crafting. This felt is stiffer to the touch, strong and easier at keeping its shape.
A blended felt is a mix of pure wool and viscose making it softer than synthetic felt. Again, you can source a good selection of colours including “heathered”, an effect produced from wool fibres being interwoven. The majority of my items are sewn using this type of felt as it has the softness of wool felt combined with some strength of synthetic.
Eco-friendly 100% wool comes in a choice of thickness and has a lovely soft feel. The different thicknesses mean this natural textile can be used for different mediums with thicker felt being good for sturdier creations like wall coverings or art.
100% roving is wool that has been combed and twisted to hold the fibres together ready to be used for needle felting, a process where fibres are combined using a continuous stabbing with a very sharp needle to produce delightful ornaments, decorations and dolls.
I mainly use a blended felt (usually 30% wool, 70% vicose) with a good weight to create my items, occasionally using synthetic should I fall in love with the colour or need to make something sturdier. I will be adding 100% wool felt items in the near future and, if I am happy with how these work for me and able to find a good selection of colours, aim to move over to this eco-friendly felt in the long run.
Commissions are always a joy to complete and this month has seen quite a few coming my way (thank you all so much). One in particular put a big smile on my face, a bi-fold fabric wallet – an item I haven’t sewn for quite a long time. It was good to get the batiks out of the fabric drawer and start the long hours of cutting, pressing and hand sewing. There’s a tiny chance I may start making these again for the shop as they have always been popular due to the striking colour schemes and handy size – we’ll see 😉
I can’t believe our luck with this long run of glorious warm weather (I’ve done it now, it’ll probably rain tomorrow). The garden is coping well and the vast majority are sturdy enough to not need a good dosing of water, just those that are potted need a little help every other day. I think it’s the first time in the 11 years we’ve been here that the water butt has been drained dry so I’m trying to be as economical as possible with water from the tap. Flowers are so beautiful to have around the house too so I pick a little posy each week to display near my desk. The small glass jar is one of a pair we found buried in the garden when we first moved in … I do love hidden treasures of history.
In a mission to step away from the PC and sewing basket for a short while and spend some time with friends, we recently headed out to the small market town of Long Sutton. As it was market day we had a little mooch around the stalls and picked up a few bargain pot plants and dainty lace. We also discovered a little haberdashery squeezed in among the other shops – so teeny tiny you could probably only fit 4 people in there at one time, but it was crammed full of colourful fabrics, felt, wool and all the embellishments you could possibly need. I would never have know it was there, right on my doorstep, if I hadn’t ventured out to explored my local area and this started me thinking how I have slipped a little into becoming a slave to internet shopping. Yes it has its positives, as in prices are often cheaper, but there’s also many downsides, most notably the lack of face to face contact, those friendly exchanges between customer and shop owner/assistant that can easily lead to a beneficial relationship for both of you. Popping out to the local shops to support them and help keep them running is vitally important in this day and age where so many small businesses are struggling to make a livelihood.
Before heading home we popped into another small business – Mal’s Vintage Tea Shop – a treasure trove of vintage and handmade items surrounded us as we sipped tea and coffee from pretty mismatched china and enjoyed the delights of perfectly baked scones, butter, cream, strawberry and blackcurrant jams. This tea shop is a real find and I’m planning on returning with hubs in tow.
Enjoy the sunshine everyone! I hope your month has been a good one – stop by and let me know what you’ve been doing.
The “Up, Up and Away” online market with Facebook’s Showcasing Dreams starts this Thursday evening at 8pm and it seemed the perfect opportunity to launch my new product range – mixed media mini artworks.
Choosing felts, fabrics and embellishments is a big part of my making process (and such a fun part too), and even more so when making these little pictures. As the market had a theme, I chose an aeroplane charm to kick start the creation, adding printed tree fabric, a snippet of ribbon showing a suitcase, pretty trims, buttons and embroidered stitching finishing with the words “explore the world”.
The picture took an age to sew, tweaking this, adding that, and you can see from the work in progress photo that my ideas changed from first thoughts to finished product.
At just 8cm x 6cm (1.2cm depth), the picture is mounted on a little canvas and comes complete with a natural pine easel – perfect for displaying on a shelf or desk and a super gift idea for the traveller.
If you’re looking for original and beautiful presents or a treat for yourself you will not be disappointed by the vast range of lovely items available to purchase so do try and pop along (put your legs up with a your cuppa and piece of cake as you browse). The market will be open from 8pm Thursday 7th June until 9pm Saturday 9th and the password needed to purchase will be supplied at the start of the event. Hope to see you there!