Monday, 29 August 2011
Made a wish - do you make a wish when you see a rainbow?
Weather like this gives me a good excuse to stay indoors when I should be going out. Last week I had to go out to book my stall for the second Arts & Crafts Market which is on October 2nd. Due to a huge rise in interest from crafters I had to book way earlier than expected. Ms Cat told me that the next market will also be much bigger, expanding from one room to two! All good news but on the day I was going to Hackney City Farm, the morning began with grey clouds and lots and lots of rain. I planned to get my bike out of the shed but riding in the rain... no thanks.
Luckily for me the rain stopped and the sun came out.
I didn't ride the whole way as I am so unfit that I had to walk for some of the way, especially anywhere near busy traffic. I am a very nervous cyclist. Even cycling through the park is nerve wracking because of all the speedy young fit ones whizzing by with barely a ding of their bell... that makes me wobble. But I made it there and back in a couple of hours. Just as soon as I got in the rain fell again.
I also created a new step-by-step project on my VideoJug page using a digital stamp I found a few years ago. It shows you how to create a decoupage poinsetta for Christmas cards. I'm going to use this for some personal cards myself but I am hoping some of you will give it a go and show me photos of your completed cards.
Arts & Crafts Market in October. I don't usually make Christmas cards to sell so this is a new venture brought about because of the craft stall.
my own project but for a fundraising campaign for Age UK. I'd never heard of The Big Knit but apparently it's been going on annually for quite a few years, some of that time under a different name - Supergran would you believe. All you have to do is make mini hats which will be used to put on Innocent drinks. For every one sold Innocent will donate 25p to Age UK which will be used to support elderly people and ensure they are kept warm over the winter. So if you're into knitting or even new to knitting this is a great way to use your skills for a worthy cause. There is loads of time to get involved - deadline for sending in your hats is October 14th. Visit the site to get knitting patterns for each skill level, videos showing you the basics of knitting and a great gallery of hats to inspire you more, if not already inspired by the photos of those I've made so far myself, some finished and some still in progress.
Look out for that soon :)
Sunday, 14 August 2011
At the beginning of my summer break I hinted at a project I'm working on outside of card making. It is, as the title describes, a BIG project. I'm making it as a gift for my beloved grandson who loves Sonic (among other games). But you guessed what it is already didn't you, from the title and the picture at the top of this post? I am knitting blanket squares. I say squares but what I'm attempting to knit are actually pixels. The pixellated picture of Sonic the hedgehog was kindly given to me by my brother when I told him about an idea I wanted to start working on... that was last year.
Sorry to say we're dealing with some daunting family issues which means I am further away from completing this project than I would like but this summer my enthusiasm is reignited and work is continuing whenever I get the chance.
The great thing about knitting is you can do it anywhere... in the garden, at the bus stop, on the bus, in hospital waiting rooms and of course in front of the TV. I've been visiting hospitals regularly (a bit too regularly for my liking) this past year as I am living with a condition that the doctors have decided requires surgery. They said it would be done this summer but NHS waiting lists are living up to their name. But I'm not tapping my feet impatiently. I'm working on my cards and I'm planning to occupy myself with working on this project as often as I can before, during and after my recovery. Yes I am bringing it to the hospital. As soon as the haze of anaesthetics drifts away and I can sit up, I'm getting the knitting out.
Looking through my posts tagged 'knitting blanket squares' or 'knitting project' you can find reference to this current project and the inspiration for it in a post called 'Knitting Blanket and More Craftivity'. There you will see when I started planning and working out what I would need to get started.
The hardest thing about this project aside from the amount of time it will take to complete, was working out a guide to work from. It was not easy to match the colours in the spreadsheet program I used to create my pattern from the original pixel pic. On screen the colours look one way, the hard copy looks another. Printers eh! Therefore I am not even certain I've done this as well as I'd like.
Then trying to match the colours to available yarn in my nearest arts and craft store is another challenge. One rule I have is to buy all the balls of yarn I need for one colour at a time. This is one reason why I used a spreadsheet program to create the pattern. It was easy to work out how many squares for each colour, totals for the whole blanket and will help when I come to the sewing bit. One ball of yarn can make almost 80 'pixels'. The various shades of blue is the biggest colour challenge and I've yet to find the pale, pale grey/blue that fits. Still let's hope I manage to make it at least look like Sonic when I am done.
Each square is ten stitches wide so in a good hour I can make about five or six. Last week I had a long wait in the local hospital outpatients and made about seven during the time I sat waiting for my name to be called.
Well I've just worked out I've completed 290 squares out of a total of 1345. Doubt I'll finish it by Christmas as I'd like and I'm not even sure if I can complete it by my grandson's eighth birthday in February. So now I've got another challenge. Do you think he'll still like Sonic by the time I'm finished? At this rate he'll be about ten!
Tuesday, 9 August 2011
In the end it was a disturbed night. I woke too early and did not immediately go back to sleep. Not surprising considering...
Sunday 7th August marked the day when I would manage my first craft stall and present my work to visitors to the launch of the Arts and Crafts Market in the Hackney City Farm as featured in my previous blog post.
As the day began with bright sunshine and lots of butterflies of the tummy kind, hopes were high for a good day. The room being used for the Arts & Craft Market was busy with crafters setting up their stalls. I was greeted warmly by Ms Cat, the organiser who directed me to the table which was my stall. Everyone looked like they had done this before.
I took out my pretty cloth which I'd ironed that morning. It fitted perfectly. Then I took out the card display units handmade at home from cardboard boxes and the printed signs made to make my stall attractive to potential customers. With almost an hour to opening, there was plenty of time to select which cards to set out first. Ms Cat advised me that the cloth I'd chosen was going to detract attention from my cards but fortunately I could use blank areas to lay out my cards using the coloured areas to frame them. I also had a couple of shelf areas on which to arrange my cards behind the table. It all looked as good as I could make it.
A moment or two outside in the breezy morning sunshine allowed time to relax and take a breath to prepare for the next five hours which I expected I would spend smiling and greeting. There were already lots of familes and couples visiting the farm and the cafe was buzzing. I saw a chicken walking around over the farm gate, pecking at the ground and people were arriving with arms full of flowers and plants, purchased from the nearby Columbia Road Flower Market. The promised rain appeared to be staying away and so it looked like it was going to be a good launch day.
During the first hour of the market we had a few visitors but most were either on their way to or from the cafe. Much the same during the second hour. The smells from the room next door were making me hungry but it was too early to start eating so I concentrated on greeting anyone looking at my cards with a smile and sometimes even a few words, watching them as they checked out what was on offer. The ten stalls offering all kinds of wonderful handmade craft were politely admired by those passing through. Then there was a sale. Not on my stall but I felt happy knowing one of us sold something.... at last.
Of Cabbages and Kings, which took place the previous Saturday in Stoke Newington and our use of Twitter and Facebook. There was an interesting discussion on the merits of Etsy v Folksy. I was encouraged to set up shop on Etsy when I revealed I did not have a sellers account on that site, saying that I would find it great to use as there are many UK based crafters to be found there.
By mid afternoon it was so quiet that each of us found time to have a snack, browse or tweet on our phones. Ms Cat made a new sign to direct more traffic to our market placing it outside the door. I was optimistic that there would be a rush in the last couple of hours probably from people who having filled their bellies in the cafe would be ready to spend some money on something handmade. Then the rain came down.
It poured down actually.
That target was very important to me.
One of the cards I sold was bought by a woman who wanted a birthday card that would cheer up a friend of hers who was going through a difficult time. I directed her to the cards on my handmade display unit by the window and she selected one of the cards I created most recently, pictured below. I was particualrly pleased with that sale and I really hope it lifts the intended lady's spirits.
The rain stopped and then started again drawing more people, including children inside. There were still moments when it was quiet enough for stall holders to chat and talk about their creativity or welcome friends who passed through in support. One of my work colleagues suprised me by stopping by with her partner who bought one of my cards and another item from another stall. It was really good to see a familiar face. The sale was a bonus and I am very grateful.
Even before we packed up we were all agreeing that it was a good launch but were sure that the next one in October would be even better. I'm planning on being there myself. I'm going to make sure I bring a plain coloured cloth though so I can display more cards.
I thanked Ms Cat for all her support as I said goodbye, assuring her I'd enjoyed my first day as a craft stall holder and I plan to be back.
Think I'll make some Christmas cards for that one.
Tuesday, 2 August 2011
Hackney City Farm is very local and a familiar landmark on Hackney Road for at least two decades. It's a popular location for school visits and is visited by families on weekends.
The best thing about this market is that is small and is a real community market - just right for my first craft stall. I am looking forward to meeting other crafters and presenting my work to potential customers live. I do have some butterflies which is natural. It is a first step which is vital to progression. Plus I've had lots of encouragement from family and friends and on my Facebook page and Twitter stream.
For the past couple of weeks and for the rest of this, I am busy preparing for the big day this coming Sunday, making more cards to boost my stock and taking advice from articles such as this one Preparing your first craft fair on UK Handmade. Lots of great tips to guide my preparation.
There's no time to create a large fabric banner and no money to buy card display items like card spinners but as it is a small community market I think I'll be able to do without these things for this occasion. I am hoping to come up with a good handmade display idea but I won't stress myself. I'm sure I will get lots of ideas and tips for future occasions as there will be more - it's scheduled to take place every other month. I will take lots of pics and blog about the experience. It will be very special.