The two day Handmade Markets in Canberra are finished, and it is a public holiday here in Canberra, so I am lounging around with my chicks, ignoring the mess and chaos in the sewing studio (and in fact the rest of the house) and enjoying reflecting on a great weekend.
I will be re-stocking the shop over the next few days with new items, new photos of items, and some new descriptions, so stand by for a bit more flash and colour! I am also thinking about a sale by the end of the week, so will be back with news of that soon.
A quick recap of the markets is required, after all the build up. For those who aren’t familiar with these markets, they are held 4 times a year, and coordinated by the lovely women who run the Handmade Shop here in Canberra. They provide wonderful opportunities to showcase high end Australian made designs, food, accessories, etc. This was my first time applying to appear at the markets, as I knew that I had to be ready – have the right style of stock, the right display, and the right approach. However I have always loved being a customer at the markets, so knew what to expect in terms of great atmosphere!
I had a great time – I love chatting to customers, stall holders etc. There are so many interesting people who attend markets, it is never a boring experience! It also gave me a chance to tweak my display set up. On Sunday I took a few extra props in with me, and my two eldest chicks, and they helped me to rearrange my display before customers arrived. We all agreed that it was much more effective! I have assured them that they are my official display design helpers from now on.
Day 2 (with gorgeous helpers)
It also gave me a great chance to learn what customers are interested in. After all my protests that bibs were outside my ‘scope’ they were, of course, my biggest seller! Always learning.
The next steps here, once the chicks are back at school tomorrow, is to clean up the piles of fabric, unpack the stock that I still have, and load it onto my Etsy shop, and start on the custom orders that I took over the last two days. In between I will be playing with some new ideas that I have had for new designs…… always fun!
I have realised that after all the hype about the boy’s birthday last week I didn’t report any of the details! It was a great success – he loved his quilt (and I promise that a photo will follow within a few days – I just need to remember to do it when he isn’t sleeping under it!) Mum ended up doing the quilting, and attaching the binding and then we both handstitched it down together. She used the girls’ very basic Singer sewing machine – no fancy feet, attachments or anything special and it all worked really well, so I have the confidence now to try one myself at some point in the future!
I also made the boy a hat from various Star Wars themed fabrics. It is reversible, so there is different fabric on the inside and he has had great joy in flipping it inside and out! I used this free pattern from April Cobb Designs and it worked really well. The pattern includes adult sizes, so I might have to work on a few more (you know – in all that spare time I have!).
I have had a slow return to sewing this weekend. I started doing a few little bits and pieces on Saturday but was making lots of mistakes and was not feeling great. I then had an email from my ex-husband who has never had good timing, so decided on the spur of the moment that it was time to get out of the house, get some fresh air and look at beautiful things. Mum and I were out the door a few minutes later and off to the National Portrait Gallery where the 4th annual Undercurrent Design Market was being held. I knew about it as one of my fellow Etsy sellers, Kyoko from So Soap, had told me that she was having a stall there, but that was about the extent of my knowledge. It was great! Full to the brim with beautiful, innovative and colourful design – jewellery, homewares, clothing, ceramics and more. I got to talk to a number of stall holders whose products I have stalked online. I have to give a big piece of praise to Briana from Mrs Peterson Pottery who not only has just beautiful pieces (one of which is now hanging on my Christmas tree) but was so generous with her knowledge of all things to do with market stalls. I walked away full of ideas and inspiration! (And determined to buy one of her bangles one day soon too!)
Mum really enjoyed the markets and seeing all of these beautiful designer items. She bought beautiful ceramic pieces from Tania at Kittila who uses vintage hand crocheted doilies made by her family to imprint on the porcelain – just beautiful! Mum bought a candle holder to use on her prayer table and she and Tania had a beautiful conversation as a result. It added to the experience for both of us.
I was able to talk to Kyoko who makes the most beautiful body products – she is a qualified herbalist and the smells are just lovely! I also ran into another couple of people I know and talked to a number of stall holders about all sorts of things (where to get digital prints on fabric in Australia, colours, market stalls, etc!). It was a delightful outing and I arrived home tired but full of inspiration again. The results? Little pieces of sewing – because I need some smaller things for my market stall. I am still not producing anything at my normal rate, but have accepted that I can only do what I can do, and as a result am not putting too much pressure on myself. I have been making little coin purses that can have a key-ring attached – and made sure I got some ‘boy’ ones in there, and some zip up pouches that can be pencil cases, make-up bags, charger cord organisers – anything you want really! It is a good way to build back up to constructing larger things – and they are cute!
However the best bit of creativity that has happened this weekend was after the chicks returned from their trip to Victoria. As it is the first day of Advent and December – ta-da! The tree is up, and the Nativity is in place (before it is rearranged multiple times a day by children.) This little tree was purchased for our first Christmas after the eldest chick was born – and until this year the chicks have resisted any efforts to replace it with a larger one. Of course every year we add new ornaments – so it is getting quite full. Each ornament has a story – and the chicks have amazing memories for the stories. The middle chick’s favourite ornament is a little wooden angel that I have owned for at least 25 years. She searches for it every year to hand it beside the glitzy, the handmade, the artisan and the pre-school produced.
Mum and I tried to redistribute them a little bit but gave up so the decorating is well and truly as the chicks wanted it. They have agreed that we might need to think about a bigger tree next year…….
Thank you to all who have reached out to offer words of support over the last few days. I am following all the advice of the professionals and am on the road to recovery. Lots of sleep, good food, exercise (the dog is in seventh heaven) and listening to music – with the occasional browse of a crafty website – is great medicine.
I hope that you are enjoying the beginning of the festive season. A friend of mine who has some health issues noted that this year she couldn’t do all the extra stuff (cooking, presents, parties, etc) and that Christmas had been stripped back to the most important focus – family. She and I agreed that this will be a great Christmas as a result. Keep it simple and remember what is important. Feel free to take our advice!!