craft fair · crafting · knitting group

Today I’m Making… more Gin Poodles

I have made a bit of progress with the Gin Poodles for my Etsy shop and for the craft fair I’m doing this summer. I’ve got four of the cheeky little fellers all ready and waiting to find new homes.


Here they are! I love them, they’re so cheerful, I’ve got room for five on this shelf so  there is an empty spot for my next one, which will be  bright pink and purple, then the next five will be dotted around my living room. You can actually see them from the street, I do wonder what people think when they walk past. I hope they cause a bit of amusement anyway.

That orange feller (Jazzer) is very bright isn’t he? If anything I’d say he is actually a bit brighter than that in real life.

I’m hoping to secure a stall at the excellent Fleet Carnival Makers Market this summer, I’ve sent off my application now so fingers crossed I’ll be accepted and allocated a stall.  Its held just down the road from me so I don’t even have to worry about getting up at the crack of dawn to set up.  I reckon I will need 10 Gin Poodles in hand to fill up a decent section of my stall so I’m only knitting Gin Poodles for the time being.

imageimageimage So here are the three others a bit closer up that I have finished so far, let me tell you the pom-poms take an age to make, there are 10 of them for each poodle and they use a ton of yarn. They are very good value for the amount of work and materials that go into making them. I do love making them and of course I like selling them even more but I do miss them when they are sold.




These are the next two Gin Poodles in production.  The pink one just needs another seven pom-poms (just!) but I ran out of the cerise yarn after making three so this one will have either two tones of pom-pom or will have a full set of purple ones, I’ll see what it looks like when I put them together.  After the pink one  – which I think I’m going to call Justin – will come a green one (Tom).  I do sometimes have two on the go at once because I like to have a project for the train and I can’t really make pom-poms on the train because they cause a bit of a fluff cloud which isn’t fair on fellow commuters really, so the green one is in the knitting stage which means I can carry it about with me.  Can’t tell you enough times how much I love those Brittany needles.

See the book? I’ve had to give up on it, it is interesting but a bit too intellectual for me and by 162 pages I couldn’t take another battle scene.  I want to read Sue Grafton’s D is for Deadbeat next but can I find a copy anywhere? No I blooming well can’t. They don’t even have it in the library. I’m going to have to buy a copy online I suppose but I really wanted to start reading it this weekend.  Could have sworn I had a copy somewhere….


craft fair

Craft fair dithering

I’ve been told I need to get out and sell my work, rather than just hide behind a computer screen selling on Etsy and Folksy. Not that I actually sell anything on Folksy but you get my drift.  A few years ago I did a couple of craft fairs and to be honest I didn’t do well at them.  The first one I didn’t prepare properly for and sold one hair snood all day, it was the wrong market for them so I was very lucky to sell even one.  The second craft fair I did wasn’t advertised at all well and was poorly attended, again I sold one item and that was to someone I knew.  Mark that as a double failure.  I do ok on Etsy, after tax and expenses I do bring in a profit every year and it is slowly building but I would really like to sell more and not just online.

Having to think about selling face to face at a craft fair is not something that fills me with joy, I think its a really expensive way to sell, the stall cost is never less than £15 add to that public liability insurance and a supply of business cards and shopping bags and you can see how its easy to lose money. Lets not even bother to factor in the time spent manning the stall.  Plus you have to be pretty thick skinned and I’m just not.  Its the thickening up of the skin that I need most and craft fairs would help me with that enormously.  I’m much more drawn to approaching independent shops and asking them to stock my wares and perhaps that is the best option for me.  My other big issue is that I refuse to drive so I’d have to lug my stock to any craft fair on public transport which would be a bit limiting to say the least.  I have signed up to do one craft fair this summer at the local carnival, they have a makers market on the second day which is usually pretty good.  I’m having to think hard about what I will make to sell there as my usual stock of 1940s style hair snoods are not going to cut it at a non-vintage event. I do have a short list of things to make for a stall and that will be another skill I will develop – a bit of discipline to make things I need to make rather than just making things I fancy making from one moment to another.

Quite a while ago I had a piece of goldwork embroidery framed locally and got lots of really good advice and guidance from the woman working there, she did say at the time that I should make more of them and come back to have them framed there and they would sell them for me.  Of course I did nothing about it but now I’m thinking I should pop back in there and see if the offer still stands.  I’ve got two weeks off work so maybe I’ll bite the bullet and pop in there this week to talk to them about it.


Books · craft fair · crafting · Etsy · Knitting

Today I’m Making – Gin Poodles

I have an Etsy shop called GinPoodle its where I sell all the things I make, and seeing as it is called GinPoodle the one thing I definitely have in stock in abundance at all times is of course… well actually I haven’t had any Gin Poodles in stock for a while now.

I don’t know who that happened really other than I’m quite often crocheting 1940s style hair snoods but its not really an excuse is it? So yesterday I decided to pull myself together and get at least one finished and up for sale by the end of the day.

The actual knitting part is fairly quick to do, its making the pom-poms that takes the time. I used to use a traditional pair of discs but that takes forever so now I’m a massive fan of Clover pom-pom makers, they really take the pain out of making them, I can whip one up in no time. I do still need 10 for every Gin Poodle though so its still a hill to climb. I did buy a Multipom but I didn’t really like it, I found the pom-poms come out looking quite cubic at this size, I expect its better for smaller ones.  SAM_2493

Then there are the eyes, nose and ribbon to sort out, until those are on I’ll admit the poodles do not look their cheeky best. That wicker storage unit in the background holds all my snood making yarn.  Yep, there’s a lot of it isn’t there? I’m not ashamed to say every one of those drawers is groaning with yarn and that’s not my entire stash.


So here it is finished and listed for sale with a very bright peachy orange ribbon. SAM_2501

One Gin Poodle is very far from what I would call fully stocked so here are the beginnings of the next one, though I’m not sure I have enough of this flecked cream yarn so the body colour may well change.  I’ve signed up to do a makers market at the local carnival in the summer so I really need to concentrate on building up some stock for that rather than making things reactively or more accurately, randomly.


I’ve been very behind with my reading too, I have a very reasonable set it yourself reading challenge on Goodreads – my goal is only to read 26 books this year, which is only one book a fortnight so that should be easily do-able but here I am five books behind schedule and it’s only March. In between bouts of frantic poodle knitting and watching Tipping Point I’m reading as much as I can.  Despite this book being a Daily Mail recommendation its actually pretty good – its about a woman who was put in a mental health institution 60 years ago by her family and then basically just left there and never spoken of again, so when the hospital is marked for closure her granddaughter hears about her for the first time as her only surviving relative.  Its a good read but pretty chilling to think this sort of thing really did happen.

craft fair · Knitting · Shopping

I Knit Fandango – May 2015

Piddling about on the internet one Friday lunchtime at work last month I stumbled across the I Knit Fandango. Well, I nearly cried, I’d had no idea it even existed let alone was on and I was missing it.  Annoyingly I’ve promised myself I won’t go to any more craft fairs this year because I have such a huge amount of stuff I’ve already bought at other fairs and not even unpacked. But it’s the I Knit Fandango, its only on for one more day and its run by Gerard of I Knit London, the finest knitting shop I know set conveniently right by Waterloo Station in Lower Marsh.  There was no way I wasn’t going to go.

So off I trotted in the morning on the train from Hampshire to dearest most darling London dreaming of the lovely stroll I was going to have over the bridge and along to the RHS halls. Good grief how could I have forgotten the tourist hell that is Westminster on a Saturday morning? At one point I was trapped in a vast european school party, lovely well behaved children but quite alarming to find yourself swept along like Gulliver.  Then I got caught up in what seemed to be a procession of cathedral admiring zombies.  Finally, after a restorative mocha in Pret I’m headed towards the delightful venue (and not being one to miss a saucy opportunity, I flagged down a couple of mounted police to ask directions when I was quite near the entrance) and I was IN!

SAM_2438Its not a huge venue and it wasn’t too packed out with people so you could have a really good look at everything and there was a lot to look at, I took this picture pretty near the end of the day so it was nice and quiet but not too quiet. Every single stall was great quality, none of that nonsense filler you get at the bigger shows like people selling wellies. Everything here is interesting and yarn related.  The price range was good so you can come out of there with hand dyed yarn, a cup of tea and change out of a tenner or you can go to town like me and set your budget at ‘sod it, I’ve got a credit card’. I bought a shopping bag and filled it. SAM_2459 


Talking of tea, you know who did the catering? Only the Finchley WI! As you can imagine the cakeage was very good. I had two of these fellers and a lovely chat with another knitter and one of the WI women.

There was also generous seating where you could eat and knit and gossip. I muscled in on a Ravelry group, they didn’t seem to mind. All in all I had the most fantastic day and didn’t really want to leave. I was hideously jealous of the woman working on the I Knit London stand, what a great job that must be.  I bought a copy of Cast On, Cast Off and have already used it to update my Gin Poodle pattern with good results. I’m going to pop in later this week to the shop to buy some of their own dyed yarn (called Knit or Dye) because I keep daydreaming about it.

Now brace yourself for a ton of showing off the treasures I bought.

SAM_2472SAM_2465 The Knitting and Crochet Guild had a yarn winding service, they were charging 25p for 100g I think. Peanuts.  This was a genius idea because it meant I bought yarn and had it wound on the same day and that means I am actually going to knit with it rather than consider attempting to wind it myself at some point in the dim and distant.  The Guild also had made load of shawl pins out of old metal knitting needles and large glass beads.  My one is fantastic and one day soon I am going to open the packet and use it. I may even join the Guild.


I bought this (new) hat pattern and yarn from The Island Wool Company, I had such a nice long chat with the owner, she could not have been more helpful and patient. She has an online shop and was more than happy for people to squeeze and sigh over her excellent yarns.  Took me about 20 minutes to choose a colour.

I had a little splurge at Max’s World on a card and some jewellery, decided against a ‘hooker’ necklace.


I bought two patterns from Medecins Sans Frontieres. They had tons of patterns and the deal was you donated what you thought they were worth. Got chatting to one of the women working on the stall and she told me about an Italian knitting holiday she went on and that is pretty much all I can think about now. Italy might be a bit expensive but I have found a knitting B&B in Blackpool.


I fell in love recently with a pattern on Ravelry called Knit Night, its a shawl pattern designed to show off hand dyed yarns so I bought two skeins from Fibres Exotica to make that.  Again the spinner/dyer was super helpful, she opened out skeins for me to have a really good look and her daughter was really chatty too. I learned how she paints the skeins side by side so that they come out a close to each other as poss. She went to a lot of trouble with me and the yarns I bought were only £6.50 each.  I thought that was a huge bargain. This was the point where I went for a second visit to the Finchley WI while the Guild wound my yarn.


I know I say this about every show I go to but this is the best one. For a specialist knitting show I prefer it to Unravel in Farnham because this one is friendlier and the range is better.  I really hope he does another one next year.  I’d really like him to do another one this year so long as it doesn’t clash with the Festival of Quilts or the Knitting and Stitching Show.

Beading · craft fair · crochet · Knitting · knitting group · Workshops

The Make It Show, Farnborough 2015

I have had a great day at the Make It Show at Farnborough Airport (yes, there is an airport at Farnborough and its quite busy, though lord knows who feels the need to fly in to Farnborough).  This is turning into my favourite mixed craft show of the year, I swear it gets better every year.  Its on tomorrow too if you fancy it – £9.50 entry and there are quite a few stalls doing free or super-cheap informal workshops so well worth the ticket price.  

Personally I bought a 3 day ticket for £15 in advance but that option of course isn’t open to you but I’m giving you the opportunity to marvel at my thriftiness for free.

The first thing I did was walk the whole show just to scope it out.  As usual there is a huge seating area with the usual catering (I’m not a fan, its particularly rubbish for veggies or anyone who fancies something healthy but that’s pretty much the deal at all of them) but they’re quite happy for you to bring your own.  They have staff patrolling collecting rubbish so its always tidy enough.  TONS of seating.  Very unusual for a craft fair and I hope they continue to stick with this policy in coming years.  The loos up at the catering end get busy but they’re fine.  At the other end of the hall behind the workshop area there are chemical loos.  I won’t go into details but expect festival conditions.  This is several shades beyond my idea of acceptable.

The variety of stalls gets better every year. There is quite a lot of card making but also knitting, crochet, UK yarns, kits, beading, art, lighting, storage, food, artisan brewery (See the GIN!!), patchwork, embroidery, cross stitch, stamping, oh blimey so much I’m sure I’ve missed out a ton of stuff.

My first purchase was from Made by Ewe. She has knitting and crochet kits, hand dyed yarn and knitting supplies like knitting and crochet needles. She also had a lovely kit to make a little fox wearing a pirate jumper that she designed because she keeps chickens.


To be honest I wasn’t intending to buy anything on my first walk round I was just scoping but then I saw a really nice shawl/scarf and noticed it was made from that ladder yarn I hate.  Well, my local knitting club has a yearly competition and this year the theme is to make something with ladder yarn.  I wasn’t going to play because I hate novelty yarns and I’m still annoyed that I didn’t win last year after I made a gorgeous cuff with knitted in beads (the theme was Knitting with Beads) and didn’t even get placed.  The woman that won entered a completely repulsive felted bag that she’d tied some beads on to, and the same with the 2nd and 3rd place. Horrible work and the beads were not knitted in.  I’m still put out.  I mean I don’t want to bang on about it but I was robbed. ROBBED I TELL YOU.  So Mrs Made by Ewe had this lovely kit for less than a tenner, you get the yarn, pattern and a big chunky crochet hook with a ceramic bead on the end and I definitely didn’t already own one of those.


I made a bit of a start on it, to be fair it looks like sort of chain mail g-string at the moment but I’m sure it will be divine when its finished.  I’m going to add some skull beads to stop it being too twee.  You’ll see more of those later.  I’m taking home the prize this year or that local knitting group is going to have recounts until I do.


In the background you will see the back of the bag for life I also bought on this stand.  Very fine thing it is too, I now have enough bags for life to turn Buddhist.


Next up I went to Anita’s Beads. Where is Anita? Has anyone ever met Anita or is the nice bloke who runs it Anita?  The woman ahead of me in the queue to pay had bought literally tons of stuff, she’s bought so much that I lost all shopping guilt and added some crystals to my skull beads.

wpid-20150228_173450.jpg wpid-20150228_173509.jpg

I bought a couple of rings from him too, I really like polished semi-precious gemstone rings, they’re so cheap at only a pound each. What I’m going to do is use these to weigh the shawlly wrap thing I’m making with the ladder yarn rather than tassels.


The second picture looks like I have sausage fingers, let me assure you my fingers are mere chipolatas, not bangers.

Last year I tried really hard to get to the Beaker Buttons stand to buy a Dorset buttons kit but it was so popular I couldn’t get near it, this year she has a bigger stand and I managed to get in at a quiet moment and have a bit of a chat.  She’s adorable. Really friendly and knowledgeble about the history of Dorset buttons, she also dyes her own yarn and spins. They do workshops and drop in sessions at her shop and I wish she was nearer to me.  You know one of those people that you instantly want to go to the pub with?


At the end I did a workshop with the excellent Riverside Beads. I did a kumihimo workshop with them last year and it was so well done I was happy as larry when I saw they were doing workshops again this year.

I made this!


Tell me that’s not fantastic?  They do loads of workshops, they’re based in Peterborough so well worth a visit if you find yourself nearby.  This only took an hour to do, I swear you could do it faster.  They sell a kit for only £8.  They ask you not to share the pattern but they are happy for you to sell any you make and only ask you to donate some of the money to The British Legion. She said they make loads of them in November and donate them to the Legion.  You could use the same principle to make other flowers but the poppy is really lovely.  So easy to do too.

I’m going back tomorrow to have a go at Zentangling, some embroidery and to have a massive chocolate and Bailey’s cookie.

craft fair

Festival of Quilts – Part 2

I took so many pictures at the Festival of Quilts this Autumn, there were too many to post in one go so I’m going go blog them in dribs and drabs. Unfortunately I was too stunned by the gorgeous work to take enough notice of who the quilters were. I can only apologise for this, and if you are one of those people and you’d like a mention please do claim your picture. Likewise if you’d like a picture taken down.

This one I love for the colours and the intricate quilting. I absolutely adore the look of all those tiny stitches making these shapes. To me these look like traditional patterns and that’s what I really like. I’d love to learn how to do work like this.


Next up white on white work. I love this look, its so intricate yet simple, I think these three images were all from the same quilt, that diamond or checker-board shape really appeals to me, as does the shape at the bottom of the second picture that to me look like waves.  Then the interlocking hearts, you can’t go wrong with that can you? The tramline outlines are a nice touch and I think its quite hard to pull that off evenly.

SAM_2236 SAM_2237 SAM_2238

I’m not great with colour myself and sometimes riots of colour take away from the beauty of the stitches, its the stitches themselves I love and if your work is as good as this you can get away with white on white.

craft fair · crafting · Quilts · sewing

Festival of Quilts – Part 1

This year I went to the Festival of Quilts up at the NEC for the first time. I love hand sewing, I don’t manage to do much of it because I don’t have a lot of space at home and a lot of my spare time is taken up crocheting snoods.  The only reason I haven’t been to the Festival of Quilts before is because its quite a long way from my home in Hampshire and I thought it would cost a fortune to get there. It turned out to be cheap and easy on the train so that’s me signed up annually for a visit.

First off I have to say its the best craft Festival of the year in every respect, the venue is fantastic, the layout is HUGE but spacious so it’s nowhere near as jostly as the Knitting & Stitching Shows in London.  The stallholders are friendly and interested in talking to you and the other attendees are just lovely. Honestly I’ve never met such a happy and welcoming group of crafters as the quilters.  I want to join their gang.

I took loads of pictures, there was just so much to fall in love with, I only did one day but two would be better, I’m sure I missed most of the displays.

This is the first thing I loved. A gorgeous hand quilted kimono style jacket.

SAM_2232 SAM_2233 SAM_2234I love this style of jacket, this just makes me want to embellish my own clothes. What I love most about the quilt designs is its mainly based on a simple, perfect running stitch. The simplicity of running stitch does nothing but enhance a design without looking show-offy like silk shading can.  Running stitch also reminds me of the basting stitches you use in tailoring which are themselves beautiful. Have a closer look a the wave pattern, it’s just perfect.

craft fair · crafting · Knitting · reviews · Workshops

Workshops – Design your Own Fair Isle. Spring Knitting & Stitching Show, Olympia

When I saw that this workshop still had places available on Thursday I signed up straight away – this is how it was advertised:

“This workshop will give you the opportunity to design several pieces of Fair Isle knitting…” “…learn how to use grids to design [your] own patterns…” “…learn how to change colours and how colour choice determines the finished outcome.”

I imagined we’d be given yarn, needles, graph paper, a pencil, eraser and examples of traditional fair isle motifs and their meanings if relevant.  What we actually got was some graph paper, 4mm needles to borrow and some 4 ply yarn. No option to choose colours.  The only practical advice we were given was to only carry your alternate yarn choice for 3sts before twisting.

Because the needles she lent me were much too big for the yarn my attempt was pretty awful, I binned it as soon as I got it home.  My design wasn’t up to much either.  One of the other people produced the most gorgeous swatch but I think she must have used her own needles?

It was pretty useless as a workshop but nice to sit down for an hour in the middle of the Knitting & Stitching Show.

Next time I try fair isle I’ll use a Susan Crawford pattern.

craft fair · crafting · Etsy · Knitting · Workshops

Unravel – photography workshop booked!

Why do all the craft festivals come at once in the south east? I love going to them but I could do with them being spread out a bit more.

We do a bonus ball sweepstake at work, I’ve won it for the second time now, only £15 each time, I never seem to win when it rolls over above £50. Mustn’t grumble though because that’s ticked off my first craft festival booking of the year.

For £27.50 I’ve now got a weekend pass to Unravel at Farnham Maltings at the end of February.  I’ve booked on to this workshop: A beginner’s workshop in photographing your crafty projects, aimed at those who want achieve great pictures without the professional equipment. Photographer and knitter, Louise Walker will show you how with just a point and shoot or smartphone. The workshop will explore the use of light, props and basic photo editing. An ideal chance to improve your ravelry, etsy and instagram. Please bring your digital camera or smartphone and a finished project and prop such as fabric for a backdrop (optional). Suitable for all levels.

Sounds brilliant doesn’t it?  I do badly need some help with my photos, I had a fantastic piece of luck last year when Dawn Elliott and Vintage Vi agreed to take photos of my snoods for my Etsy shop in return for a bit of cross promotion ( and If you have a look at my Etsy shop all the good photos of a woman wearing a snood are modelled by Vintage Vi and photographed by Dawn Elliott, everything else is taken by me and frankly doesn’t do my work any favours.

The Unravel workshop is such good value, 2 hours of tuition for basically about £15 I think.  I’m going to take along one of my snoods, my nice little camera that is capable or much more than I have worked out and I thought a vintage headscarf to use as a backdrop.  I’m really looking forward to it.

Last year I did a knitting with beads workshop at Unravel with Fiona Morris that was fantastic.

If you don’t know about Unravel its well worth a visit if you are local.  Its a festival of knitting with workshops, exhibitions, tons of shopping and its all held in a fantastic venue.  The Maltings is well worth a visit at any time of year just for the café, last year I had the most ginormous bakewell tart.  If you are going, I would recommend going on both days, its a bit of a crush and you’ll need a few hours to see it all. I like to have a look on the first day and spend on the second day. I’m kidding myself again that I’m not going to spend any money this year but if I can get a seat in the café I’m going to invest heavily in cake.

Beading · craft fair · Knitting

Workshops – please read the joining instructions

Much as I love a workshop, there’s something that irritates me about them.  Its the joining instructions. They’re either rubbish so that you turn up unprepared and don’t get the full benefit, or end up having to buy a load of stuff that you already have at home.

Worse than that though is when the other people don’t bother to read the joining instructions.

I did the most fantastic short workshop at Unravel in February,  Knitting with Beads clearly described as “Suitable for intermediates and experienced knitters” it was only a two hour thing so that’s a sign that there will actually be a pace rather than a cosy day of meandering.

Literally everything was provided, needles, yarn, beads, findings the lot.  We spent a bit of time choosing our colour combinations but we were underway pretty quickly.  First instruction – Cast on 30sts.  This is where I get irritated, there were only about 12 of us on the workshop, yet FOUR people really struggled to cast on 30sts.  One person had to have help making her first loop.  I mean really?  You’ve booked on to a course for intermediate and experienced knitters but you can’t cast on?  That means you have less than basic skills.

It was lace knitting so there was a fair bit of PSSO type action.  Slip stitches and YON nearly caused a melt-down in low-skills corner while the rest of us were all losing out on teaching time we’ve paid for because of them.  Oh and then there was the needy woman that finally admitted ‘a workshop environment doesn’t work for me’ apparently other people’s voices are too distracting.  So why join a workshop?  It was fully booked too so I wonder if there were other people out there who would have got something valuable and enjoyable out of the workshop like I did that lost out.

Really people, no shortcuts.  At least learn the basics before you join an intermediate workshop and if you don’t like workshops perhaps signing up for a workshop isn’t the greatest idea – there’s probably someone out there that would have really enjoyed that class.  I’m off to find lace stitches that I can adapt to incorporate beads.