Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Best of Scottish Crafters - Sheila Fleet

At first glance Sheila's jewellery instantly tells you it's made in Scotland - Celtic, Ocean, Sea and Landscape - it's all there and in beautifully made small and shiny packages.

I have a good friend in California who purchased a ring from Sheila last year and it is so beautiful (especially on Jan's wonderfully tanned Californian hand!) that I was quite envious and will make sure I visit when next on Orkney.

Meanwhile, enjoy and dream.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Featured in my first Etsy Treasury

Just had to shout it out loud. A member of the McEtsy team chose my knitting bag to be included in her treasury and I'm just thrilled.

Here's the link:

Posted by O V Gillies who makes jewellery from the beautiful island of Aran. (

Monday, 15 February 2010

Craft Fair - Lessons Learned

This is what my stand looked like at the beginning of the day .................................. and sadly it's exactly how it looked at the end of the day too! It was a very slow day and I wasn't the only stall holder to sell absolutely nothing, zilch, zippo.

That's the bad news. The good news is that I met some great people, handed out a bundle of cards, made some interesting observations and my products received some nice compliments. If you are thinking about taking a stand and are hesitating about it then don't - just do it. This one in North Berwick was organised well and I can't believe I had any anxieties - it was well run, well advertised, just short of any cash buyers. BUT, it was a small show in February and the list of items to take will be different than if you were attending a larger craft fair. That was Lesson No. 1.

Apart from my stock, this is what I will take to the next similar show:

Table cover - approx 6ft x 2ft min
Advertising banner saying who you are and what you do
Business Cards
Order forms
Notebook and couple of pens
Cash box and change
Gift wrap

Coffee mug
Something to do during the quiet moments (knitting)
Headache pills

I didn't feel lighting was necessary. The hall was well lit and unless you were selling something small like jewellery then I don't think it would have helped much. I was also in the middle of the room and getting power to the table would have been difficult.

It was evident from the beginning that it was going to be slow so I made use of my time in talking to the other stand owners and finding out from them what other local shows worked for them and getting details of their best websites. Everyone was happy and willing to share their experiences and I learned much from them.

Lesson No. 2 for next time would be to label items and price individually. I thought one large printed pricelist would work well and to a certain extent it did. However, I thought that it was obvious what my items were and I was surprised at how many folk picked up a coaster and didn't know what it was. Next time I will have cards for each group of items and price them up.

Lesson No. 3 would be to be aware of where the potential customers were coming from. I set up my stand without thinking about this and found that most folk came from the left hand side and my best items should have been positioned on the right hand side of the table which would catch their eye first.

Lesson No. 4 would be to have more general items for sale and not customised orders. Folk were there to make a purchase on the day and generally didn't want to place an order.

That's it! I really had fun and am still very optimistic. Off now to book a stand for the Easter Fair.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Craft Fair - it's tomorrow!

Short blog for today - waay to busy! Got my change yesterday so I'm ready to go. All I need to do today is put together a carry bag for all the bits and pieces (pens, pads, order forms, etc) - I'll publish this list next week.

I ordered some bags yesterday. I was thinking of using supermarket bags but, despite the recycling argument have decided to go with paper bags for the small items and some plain white carry bags for the cushions - I don't want to risk them getting soiled.

So, that's it, wish me luck and I'll post on Monday with the results.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Craft Fair - just 2 days left

I'm not panicking yet - honest! In fact I'm so sure that I'm not going to sell anything and that nobody wants what I'm offering that I'm very relaxed. I went onto an organised chat group last night and the best advice I was given was to visit the toilet before the show starts - great advice!

Yesterday I did finish the ring bearers pillow/cushion but still need to get some white ribbon just to attach the rings. I'm very happy with the result.

As I'm so organised (!) I'll not be doing any crafting today. Instead I'll head out to the bank and get change and probably head to the Peter Potter Gallery in Haddington for a coffee and cake - they have a new chef who makes amazing food.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Craft Fair - 3 days to go

Yesterday I did manage to make some coasters and purchased some ribbon to tie them all together. These are 3.5" square, made with cotton fabric on the top, padded and backed with felt. They are time consuming to make because of the padding so I am experimenting with making them slightly bigger and using a thick interfacing.
I've also been experimenting with embroidering on satin so I can make some personalised ring bearer cushions. With the fabric being so slippery I thought it might prove difficult but I've worked out a technique that works and am happy with the result. I'll finish one today and post a picture tomorrow. I starched the fabric and used a medium tear-away stabiliser but didn't hoop them both together, instead just hooped the stabiliser and used a temporary adhesive to attach the satin to the stabiliser and then fixed it in place with a border of tacking stitches.
Another busy day ahead .....

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Craft Fair - 4 days to go

I did pretty well yesterday and got most things cleared from my list. I did a practise run by setting up my stall. I'm using a large white tablecloth and adding a large square of black felt over the top. I managed to find some useful items that I had around the house that will act to give me some height to the stall but without taking up much room (space in my car is limited). There was a wicker hamper, a large wooden crate and a small wooden stand that I think will work. After all, I don't want to be spending too much on props until I've actually sold something!

I've decided that half of my stand will be used for a display of my cushions - that's what I enjoy most of all. The remaining half will be a combination of golf items, bags and coasters.

This was a really useful exercise as I discovered that I actually have more space than I thought to display my goods (although I don't want it to be too crammed).

One useful hint I picked up was to have items across a range of prices which is why today I'm going to be making some useful (but really cheap) coffee mats/coasters. I'd really have liked to make some from Cath Kidson fabrics but haven't got time today to get into the Edinburgh shop so will make them from my existing stash of fabrics. I want to make them in really bright, spring like colours that will really stand out on the black felt. So far, I've got a selection of 8 different choices but they look lost on the table so I'm aiming to get another 6 choices to add today. Well, that's my day planned out for me. Off for a coffee now!

Sunday, 7 February 2010

My First Craft Fair

This is an exciting week for me. I've booked a stand at a local craft fair and am getting myself prepared for the event at the weekend. My first decision was which one to attend and I've decided to go with local and small. However, North Berwick is a fairly bustling town and it's a church hall along the high street so I'm hoping that there will be quite a lot of passing trade. I've also been telling folk on the newest community website, East Lothian Buzz, and offering a free gift if they tell me they heard about it on the Buzz.

I'm hoping to receive an e-mail soon to tell me what all the arrangements are. Somehow I'm sure I'll have lots of questions but on the other hand, how hard can it really be. Take my merchandise, lots of change, bags and hope for lots of folk to be interested in what I'm offering.

I've found a couple of websites that offer a good list of things that you need to take with you but after my experience I'll be posting my own list - in fact, more of a reminder for me so that I'll know what not to forget next time! Most importantly it seems that I shouldn't forget to take a packed lunch and hot/cold drinks to keep me going throughout the day.

So for today I'll be thinking about how I'm going to set up my stand and that will involve:
  • table covering (I'm thinking of black felt and creating an overhang where I can applique the word 'Lifecovers');
  • lighting (although I don't think I'll do anything special this time - keep it simple silly);
  • display material (I want something that will add height to the table but don't want to really buy any especially for this fair);
  • pricing - not sure whether to create a price list or to individually price items.
  • order form - this is really important as much of my offerings are personalised

Wish me luck!

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Best of Scottish Crafters - Highland Stoneware

Good morning. I'm really enjoying putting together this list of my favourite crafters. I'm already aware of some of them but it's making me go out actively and search for other talented people. In selecting this pottery I do ask myself at what point does a crafter become a retailer? I suspect it's when, as a retailer, you employ more than one crafter - what do you think?

I love puffins - in any form. I was fortunate to visit the Fair Isle (yes, home of the original intricate knitting pattern and they are very proud of it); a tiny island measuring approximately 3 miles x 1 mile with no trees at all. It's way north off the mainland of Scotland between the Shetland and Orkney islands. I was able to get within a few feet of the puffins and watching them is such fun. Well, I like the way this pottery has created their range of puffin pottery so I wanted to share it with you.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Best of Scottish Crafters - Tweedmatters

Harris Tweed has been made for centuries and because of the quality of the fabric it still continues to appear on the London, Paris and New York fashion walks. The quality is controlled by the Harris Tweed Authority who state that all fabrics are hand-spun, hand-woven and dyed by the crofters and cottars in the Outer Hebrides.

I think we should be very proud to produce this tweed and this crafter is making the best of using just very small pieces of fabric. In fact, I might just have to get to a craft store and buy some blank cards ....