Friday, 30 October 2015

Preparing for Christmas Craft Fairs. A Beginners Guide.

Tis the season to be craft fairing? The newest boom in craft has meant that there are lots more fairs than usual. We have done quite a few over the years so we thought we would share  the things that we wish someone had told us when we started. If some of this is obvious please don't be offended.

Before the Fair
Long before the fair you will be making stock but also check old stock if you have any- we make a 50p box of things that didn't sell last year which is extremely popular with children looking for cheap presents for Mummy, grandad etc.

50p box just visible at child height.

Find out how big the space is if you can, if not assume 2m long, with room for you to stand behind a table.
Do you need to provide your own table? We use pasting tables from B and Q but we regret not spending a bit more on something more sturdy.
Are you provided with chairs - a day is a long time to stand up.

Prepare a float so you have coins and notes for change. Make sure you have a means of keeping your money safe - we use a bum bag. Some people may ask for a receipt so a cheap receipt book might come in handy.

Label boxes of stock so you can find things easily. Hopefully you will be very rushed
Think about pricing and then make sure your customers know the prices - you could use labels tied on the goods or notices that are easy to see. This is always the most difficult thing for Vicky and I, but if you don't sell very much, even though lots of people look at your crafts, then have an end of fair sale and reduce your prices.
Everyones' display will be different and depends on what you are selling but it is worth trying it out at home and making a list of what you used.

trying things out at home.
This made me realise that we needed to get the red cloth straight.

Note these collapsible wooden shelves look good but fall over very easily.

Setting up
Get there as early as you are allowed - easier to park - have time to ask for adjustments to your space/place. There may have been a cancellation and a better place may be available to the early bird.

You will need a table cover, we use double bed sheets because they hang down and you can shove all your boxes etc. under the table and out of sight.

This is the part where I stand back and let Vicky set out our crochet because she has an eye for making things attractive.

When you are ready sit down and have a cuppa before the rush!!!

 Out Doors
We do one or two Christmas fairs that are out doors. They have a lovely atmosphere on a crisp cold day and they are usually the best atended and the best takings, but you need to legislate for the weather.
Wrap yourself up warm, wear boots with thick soles or take cardboard (or something insulating) to stand on, there is nothing more distracting than cold feet.

The gazebo should be the first thing you unload, then the tables and lastly the stock.
The wind is our worst enemy so we have weights for the gazebo feet and we have crocheted around stones so that we can weigh down our work.
Take plastic sheeting to cover your things in case of rain. You can invite people to come into your stall if it rains, they then get a close look at your stock.
You will also need lights and torches if this type of fair goes on into the dark.

Really useful stuff
Paper and pen for those orders you get on the day. A pair of scissors.
Pegs and clips to hold things in place
Spare labels
Carrier bags - although we don't need to we are going to try asking for a small donation and give the proceeds to charity.
Paper bags
Sellotape and string
S shaped hooks to hang things on to the gazebo.
Business cards

This is really obvious but - don't look as if you are not interested in your customers by looking at your mobile phone constantly.
Do take something to do in case there are not many customers - one of our first fairs we took £4 in a whole day - but be prepared to put down what you are doing if people want to talk about or buy your craft. The people who want to talk are usually those who do the same thing or who are interested in learning so it should be easy to share your passion.
Above all enjoy what you are doing, show off, your things are beautiful and you are talented.


PS. The dates and venues of fairs we are attending are on the facebook page

Still want more?  A couple of years back when we were still fudging our way through things I wrote 2 posts under the joint title "Lessons Learned".  Here are the links:

1 - Being Ruthless (That scarf became Persephone one of our best sellers at fairs and one of our best selling patterns!)
2 - Audience Participation

Victoria x

Monday, 19 October 2015

Free pattern for a bag which can be adjusted to different sizes (using algebra if you want)

One pattern lots of sizes.

Since this pattern is adjustable you can use any yarn with an appropriate hook. The brown one is 8 strands of a 3ply yarn the blue one, is using 2 strands of a yarn that Graham has plied for me, each is approximately double knitting. So as long as you have some big hooks you can make the yarn as thick as you like.

Base of the Bag
make a magic circle.
row 1: 3ch, counts as first treble, 10 tr in magic circle. ss in top of 3ch. (11 stitches)
row 2: 3ch, 1tr in base of ch, 2 tr in each stitch to end, ss in top of 3ch. ( 22 stitches )
row 3: 3ch,  2tr in next stitch, (1tr in next stitch, 2tr in next stitch ) repeat 10 times, ss in top of 3ch
(33 stitches.)
row 4: 3ch, 1tr, 2 tr in next stitch, (2tr, 2 tr in next stitch ) repeat 10 times, ss in top of 3ch (44 stitches.)
row 5: 3ch, 2tr, 2tr in next stitch ( 3tr, 2 tr in next stitch ) repeat 10 times, ss in top of 3ch
(55 stitches)

These 5 rows form the base of the bag and determine the diameter of the bag. If you want a bigger bag you can make more increase rows and adding one to the number of trebles between increases in each. This is shown highlighted in yellow. So row 6 would be 4 trebles, row 7 would be 5tr etc.

Sides of the bag
This part is worked in a spiral so after row 1 you will not need the 3ch at the start of the row, and you never need to join with a ss.

round 1: 2ch ( yes I do mean 2ch and mark this with a stitch marker ), using the back loops only, work one tr in each stitch until you reach your stitch marker. move stitch marker up
round 2: work one tr in the gap between the 2ch and the first tr of the previous row, then work a tr between the trebles of the row below all round.

Hook between 2ch and the first treble

rounds 3 to 15: work one treble in each gap between the trebles of the previous row,

To make the bag taller just keep going round and round until it is how you like it.

Round 16: 1dc in each treble
Round 17 : If you have made the bag according to the pattern insert a stitch marker at the beginning of this round: (9dc, dc 2tog) x 5 you should now have 50 stitches.If you changed the diameter of the base by having fewer or more increase rounds you will need to do a bit of arithmetic which is explained later.
Round 18 : dc in each stitch
Round 19:  ( ch 12, miss 10dc, work 15 dc ) x 2 - this is the start of the bag handles. Note these numbers will be different if you changed the number of rows in the base.

Round 20:
(work one dc in each dc and work 12 dc around the 12ch) x 2

Round 21: work one dc in each dc and work 14 over the top and around  the dc of the handle. break yarn and hide ends.

The Science bit or how to change the size of the bag: you can ignore this entirely if you are following the pattern as it is.

In round 17 if you made 6 rows in the base (9dc, dc 2tog) x 5 this becomes x 6, if you only did 4 rows then it is x 4 etc. In each case you will reduce the number of stitches by the number of rows you did in the base. So if you did 6 rows you start with 66 and will have 60 stitches left after this row. If you only did 4 rows you start with 44 stitches and will have 40 after this row.
In round 19: (ch 12, miss 10 dc, work [half the number of stitches - 10] dc). repeat once. Example : if you did 6 rows you should now have 60 stitches half of this = 30 take away 10 =20 so you would work 20 dc between the 12 ch loops.
Continue as per pattern.

It is really much easier if you use algebra but I know this word sends many people into fear and revulsion so I have explained as best I can in words - but for those of you who find algebra exciting and useful ...

Look away now if you find algebra disturbing.
let n be the number of rows in the base
round 17:  (9dc, dc 2tog) x n you should now have n x 10 stitches
round 19: ( ch 12, miss 10dc, work [10n/2 -10 ]dc ) x 2 - this is the start of the bag handles.
Continue as per pattern.

The flower on the brown bag is from the book 'Crochet Bouquet' by Suzann Thompson.

If you try this pattern please let us know if there are mistakes or if you could do with a clearer explanation.

Thursday, 8 October 2015


Graham and I visited West Yorkshire for a week. It was my birthday treat so it was timed to coincide with Yarndale.
Bolton Abbey beautiful and fun.

 These mad people are crossing the stepping stones - I took the picture from the bridge.

The abbey itself.

The festival of yarn is held in the cattle auction building at Skipton so it is all right to bring your friends. These two have obviously sacrificed their coats to a very good cause.
Here is one example of the cause!

He is made of unspun wool/fleece. You really need to stand back to see how amazing this is.
This lady was the only one I noticed who was selling ready made crochet things. She was even wearing a coat that you could buy off her back. Just love the colours
The most amazing rag rugs.

Rainbows of donated flowers!

And bunting.

 And more flowers

All over the town people were celebrating yarn and the animals that produce it ( there was some acrylic too). These pictures were taken in the town hall! I thoroughly recommend a visit to next years festival

If it is ever possible to go on a boat trip Graham and I grab the chance. So here we are on the canal on a trip that goes past Skipton castle - the boatman even sells duck food - I really love feeding the ducks.

Not a duck but a trifle too brave, I wonder if you can make yarn from feathers.

Freeform crochet, glitter and gingerbread zombies.

You can tell that Christmas is upon us crafters. Absolutely everything is covered in glitter. I have discovered that nail art white translucent glitter is amazingly effective and very pretty - it even shows up in the pictures- but now the kitchen has a lovely glittery floor, the table in the dining room looks as if it has been visited by the frozen people and I look as if I have iridescent dandruff. No matter how careful you are it spreads!!!

Christmas stock that also satisfies my craving for more free-form.

I'd like to teach the world to crochet!
A rainbow nation of bears

Not everyhing has been so successful. I really thought that we should expand our range of hanging Christmas ornaments.So.........

The first gingerbread zombie. Run, run as fast as you can or I'll get you


Friday, 2 October 2015

Free Pattern for a Crochet Carrier Bag

I expect you are all aware that here in the UK from Monday 5th October 2015 carrier bags will be subject to a compulsory charge of at least 5p each.  As a very small trader we don't have to charge but I support the attempt to reduce the number of carrier bags in circulation for two reasons: first, naturally, the hoped positive impact on landfill, litter etc and second, the excuse to make more crochet bags!!!

So, fellow crocheters, let's spend the weekend making some crochet carriers to create bag-envy in other shoppers.

I've started a Pinterest board for crochet bags.  Come and see and please let me know if you have a bag I should include.  

Here is a very rushed, out of my head carrier meant for quick dashes to the high street.  Hope it inspires you to make.

I used Textere's Warp Cotton, which works like DK, and a 4mm hook.  

Rounds 1 - 9:  make a granny square of 9 rounds.  

In this case I used 1ch across each cluster on the sides and 3ch to turn the corners.  There are thousands of 'how to' videos and tutorials for grannies online if you're unsure about how to make one.
Rounds 10 - 15: make 1 cluster followed by 1ch in each ch space including the corners, join and start a new row as for your granny square.

I added a splash of colour with some beautiful Natura Just Cotton in Turquoise.  It is too thin and so I held it double.  Be creative.  If you love colour add loads!  Anything you've got in your stash that will work as DK or be fudged so that it does ;-)

I just put one round of turquoise in at round 14.
Rounds 16 - 33:  If you like the granny look you can just continue repeating the same round until the bag is big enough.  I've made 33 rounds so skip to round 34 if this is your preference.  Or ...
Rounds 16 - 33 alternative:  I've added some stretchier rounds so I can fit more in my bag and to add a bit of variety.  Here goes if this is your preference:

Round 16:  Slip st into the nearest chain space, *ch1, dc in same chain space, [5ch, 2dc in next chain space]repeat until last space, 2ch and tr into first dc to join so that you start the next round at the centre of a chain space*

Rounds 17 - 21: Repeat round 16 from * to *
Round 22:  As round 16 but ch6 instead of each ch5 and 2ch, dbtr to join
Round 23:  As round 16 but ch7 instead of each ch5 and 3ch, dbtr to join
Round 24:  As round 16 but ch8 instead of each ch5 and 3ch, trtr to join
Round 25:  As round 16 but ch9 instead of each ch5 and 4ch, trtr to join
Round 26:  As round 16 but ch10 instead of each ch5 and 4ch, trtr to join
Round 27:  As round 24
Round 28:  As round 22
Round 29 - 30:  As round 16
Round 31: Ch3, 2tr to make beginning cluster in first chain space, [1ch and 3tr] in each chain space around.  You should be working in the granny stitch again.  Join to 3rd chain of chain 3.
Round 32 and 33: Granny stitch around
Round 34: Ch3, 1 tr in each tr and each chain space around

Find and mark the side of your bag.  This should correspond to the centre of one side of your granny square base.  You can trace this up from the bottom but I find this leaves the bag slightly twisted and I just eyeball it ... Live dangerously!!  Then count round half your stitches (you should have 144 so half would be 72 if my maths is ok) and mark the 73rd st. 
Round 35: Ch3, tr in each tr until you are 10 sts before your first marker, *ch21, miss 21*, continue tr until you are 10st before your second marker and repeat * to *, tr to the end of the round and join to top of ch 3.   

You should have started your handle like this.
Round 36: ch2, htr in each st and 21 htr in each chain space, join to top of chain 2

You can leave it here if you like.  I bolstered my handle with row 37, though.

Round 37: ch1, make a long dc OVER each htr of the row below, join to ch 1, Cut yarn and finish.   Run your ends in a long way to make sure everything is really secure.  You don't want to watch your shopping rolling off down the road.

I've also added some flowers because ... flowers!!

Shopping completed!! 

As I said.  This is very rushed and out of my head.  Please let me know if you need any clarification or you spot any mistakes.

Usual pattern rules apply.  Feel free to use, gift, sell ... what you make from pattern.  Please don't sell the pattern itself but it is fine to share it, or, even better, link to it, with proper credit.  Pattern rules also apply to photos.

Have fun!

Victoria x