A steep, but shiny, learning curve

So, since I last posted, I have left my job and started concentrating more on my jewellery making with an eye to it being my ‘job’. So far, I have had stalls at one carnival, one craft fair and one artisan fair (with mixed results); and updated my Facebook pages. I’ve made lots more stock that I’m really happy with, I just need to find the right market for it! I know it’s very unique and a bit different, so not to everyone’s tastes…but I think it’s more wearable and desirable than first impressions might give.

Anyway, enough justifying! I wanted to share my experiences at the various events I’ve displayed at. First up, the Carnival. My first outing as ‘GoldyLocks Jewellery’ and ‘Talida Creations’, my first stall. Mum came with me to help me set up and keep me company. We arrived, just as it started raining. Just as we started putting up the gazebo. Not a good start! However, we were not to be deterred, so got the gazebo up, the table covered, and the stock set up. It all took three times as long as I had expected, and I learnt a lot about ‘being prepared’ with my displays and prices! We had some lovely people next to us from the Guide Dogs to chat to, so we settled down and waited for the crowds. And waited. And waited. It was quite a while before any of the stalls really got busy, but I don’t think we ever got to that point! I did make sales, and it was nice to see people come back later in the day having seen something earlier. For me, one happy customer is worth  ten who buy because they feel they should, or have to. However, I did get very despondent, and a bit bored. Overall, a big learning curve travelled, and the conclusion that a carnival isn’t really the place for handmade, unique jewellery.

On to the second event – the local Craft Fair. I had mixed feelings about this as on the one hand it was a ‘craft’ fair so should be more geared towards handmade things, but it was a very small event on a weekday, so a smaller available market. Again I had my trusty companion (Mum), and we had access to tea and biscuits, so it boded well! However, Mum got more comments on her knitting than I did on the jewellery; and the ‘market’ wasn’t really my ‘target’ age or demographic. I didn’t make a single sale, and barely gave away any business cards. It was enough to make anyone feel like it was all pointless. Even lunch at my favourite café in town didn’t lift my spirits.

So, it was with some trepidation that I agreed to have a stall at the Artisan Fair yesterday. A friend had suggested me to the organiser, and I don’t think I’d have gone otherwise. Shaun came with me this time, as Mum was away, and we carried our suitcases to the square to find our stall. I spent the next ten minutes looking all round town for the ‘man in charge’, then swapped stalls, then looked at what we had to work with. The space was at least twice the size of anything I’d set up on before, and was slatted! Also, being outside, the wind was an issue. I have discovered that there is no such thing as ‘too many clips’ for tablecloths! Or weights. However, we got it fixed, and managed to display everything without losing anything through the gaps, or off the front. Almost immediately there were people milling around, but no-one really stopping. But it was early days, and our stall neighbours were lovely people who we could chat to.

The day wore on, and there was a lot of interest, but no sales. I saw friends I haven’t seen in ages, chatted to new people, and shared some yummy Indian street food with Shaun; so it was a pleasant time. Then the first sale came. Then a couple more. By 3pm I was feeling quite buoyant, and even after paying for the stall, came away with a little something. I count this a definite success, and not just because I sold things. The whole experience was so much nicer than the other two. The atmosphere was great – live music, singing, dancing – which made the day feel right. The other stallholders were so friendly and helpful, and I’ve made some new contacts! I felt like what I do was appreciated, even if not to everyone’s taste. It has helped me gain enthusiasm once more, to carry on, and keep going.

What I liked above everything, though, was how it felt like a proper, old-fashioned market. There were people sitting knitting and spinning yarn, you could chat to anyone about anything, and there was live entertainment. There’s been some criticism over this town’s local markets, but if Friday was anything to go by, I think they have nothing to worry about and more places could benefit from an atmosphere like that.

‘My favorite things often have a story behind them and are usually handmade or discovered at a flea market.’ ~ Amy Sedaris

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A Crochet discovery…

I decided to start a weekly crochet project that started on 17th March 2016. True to form, I’m already 3 weeks behind! But that’s what happens when you are trying to do too many things at once I guess. A very special sewing commission has been taking up much of  my time (hopefully more on that in the next couple of weeks!), as have costumes for the Attfield’s next production, plus a new cat, and just life in general.

Anyway, back to the crochet! I found a link to a project called ‘Mandala Madness Crochet-A-Long’ on the blog ‘Crystals and Crochet’ which gives a new part of the project every Thursday night. What made me go for it, was how pretty it looked! Plus, it would give me the opportunity to learn new crochet stitches, play around with colour, and do something a bit different from all the Amigurumi I’ve been doing.

Week 1 (4)So, the first week I downloaded the pattern, and I flew through the rounds in a few days. I thought, ‘great! I’m going to keep up with this!’ and couldn’t wait for the next week. I’m actually really happy with how it looks. I didn’t use the suggested colour packs, preferring instead to use up some of Grandma’s old yarns. I’ve tried to stick to DK yarns, but I’ve found there is some variation amongst them. However, it seems to be working out alright.

Week 2 (5)Week 2, I downloaded the pattern and started it. Then life got in the way, and week 3 came round and I hadn’t finished the previous one. As I said before, it’s now week 6 and I have just finished week 3’s pattern about half an hour ago!

Having said all that, I’m really enjoying it! Seeing it grow, working out the stitches, and making myself be really careful over where I join my rounds, and how I crochet. I usually have a tendency to go ‘it’ll be fine!’ then have to fiddle it to work later on. Week 3However, so far, I’ve had to do that once. The instructions are really, really clear. I can’t stress that point enough actually. I’ve worked on lots of different patterns and nearly always found they assume you know exactly what they mean without explaining the seemingly obvious and that can lead to bother. These patterns though are so well written, and the photos are really helpful, that there is really no excuse! I will definitely be considering further projects by the same designer, Helen.

What’s also really interesting is seeing other people doing the CAL at the same time and posting on the Facebook page. There are so many different colour schemes, so many different looks to the same thing! I feel like I’m a part of something really big, when really I’m just sitting in my living room listening to the radio, whilst working away at my Mandala.

So, if you’d like to take part, there’s still time to catch up! (If you’ve got loads of free time, or are a really fast worker). Click here for the main Mandala page. Good luck! And keep checking back to see how I get on with the rest of it…I believe it continues until 14th July. So I get to finish it just after my birthday (in theory!).

‘I can make anything with a hook and yarn. What’s your superpower?’ ~ found on Pinterest

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Being a Care Bear…

A lot of people ask me ‘what I do’, meaning what job do I have. In the past I’ve worked round the subject, laughing off what I do as just ‘helping Mum’ or being in a privileged position. In many ways, yes, I suppose I am, but it’s more than that. I’m a carer for my Grandma.

Cue ideas and images of a little old lady, tucked up in bed needing constant medical attention. A sweet little smile as you hold a cup to her lips, or go and sit on her bed for a chat. Leaving her for a nap while you go and read a book or get on with odd jobs. Not so. Not for me anyway. I don’t have to do the medical things, the physical things. It’s the mental things. Being in the same room to check she’s got everything she (doesn’t) need. If she falls asleep, staying nearby in case she wakes up disorientated. Trying to stay positive and chatty, maybe reading out crosswords to her, because she can’t do anything else to occupy herself. Even when she’s not chatty there has to be someone there ‘Just in Case’. This is nearly always me or my Mum.

Don’t get me wrong, we get respite. We’re not alone. Actually the support we get, especially from Crossroads, is invaluable. When you spell it out on paper, it’s easy to think it’s a lot of fuss about nothing. We get 5 hours respite on a Tuesday, 4 on a Thursday while she’s at a day centre and 4 on a Saturday. Mum gets time on Mondays and Fridays too, as she goes to volunteer at Powis Castle. Not bad really, is it? Well, it can be. It’s the getting started in the morning, the bedtimes, and the arguments.

I suppose that’s the perils of family caring isn’t it? We’re too close, too similar, and tempers get frayed. The smallest things turn into major stumbling blocks because no-one admits they’re wrong. One side reckons they’re right because they can see it, the other reckons they are right because they remember it. You’re told not to correct or disagree, but if you don’t you get it thrown back at you. You suggest something ‘nice’ and it gets dismissed. Then you get told that you pull down every idea they have. Can’t win.

So yes, I live at home. But not really. I live at my Grandma’s home. Then get told off for having my things around me. I don’t have a job. But I do really, I even get paid for it. But it’s taken a long time for anyone to accept this. I get time for all my creative projects. Yes and no. I can hardly ever do anything I really need to concentrate on because nine times out of ten, just as I start to count/read/focus a little voice pipes up. Timing is wonderful :/ So I get bits done. But I have to have those things to stop me going completely crazy. I get to spend time with my boyfriend, but so often within the confines of my caring role. Time for just ‘us’ is precious. Sometimes Mum and I have to take it in turns to just ‘get away’. Half an hour in the garden with a book, an hour over home tidying or looking for something, a day out in Llangollen with Shaun, or in Mum’s case a week long holiday to Turkey. Everyone needs ‘me time’.

So there you have it. What I ‘do’. Things to complain about, things to enjoy, and things to appreciate. I shouldn’t complain as much as I do. I should be grateful I spend so much time with my family. I don’t have to slog at a computer or at paperwork all day. I get to make things and dance and read. Sometimes, it’s a real pleasure to see my help and company being appreciated. But, honestly, I don’t always see that. Not from the person I want it from. I do it for Mum.

Caring is being there, even when you want to be somewhere else. #caregiver

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Dream for a better year…

So, 2015. Hello! A new year…a new set of opportunities. Now to take advantage of them all!

This year I want to push myself, dance wise. Try new styles, try new choreography, make new costumes. I was so inspired by what I saw at Infusion Emporium last year, and the workshop with Rachel Brice that I really want to channel that inspiration into something new and amazing. Wish me luck! I have music I want to choreograph, fusions I want to try and ideas a plenty. Look out, Bex 😛 Costume wise, I have a rainbow one in the pipeline, plus a few themed haflas coming up which could allow me to be creative! Watch this space!

Talking of costumes, I’m hoping to start taking small commissions this year. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while now, but I think it’s time to try and make it happen. I have to be at home for family reasons, but I have a lot of ‘spare’ time which could be filled with sewing and embellishing. If I can get a bit of something for doing that, not just a new costume for myself, that would be great! Not to mention the feeling of sharing my creative love with others. I made myself a tatters bustle recently, based on a few I’ve seen over the last year. Then I made my Mum one for Christmas. Now there’s a possibility I might be making a few more for friends. That’s how things start, right? So we’ll see how it goes. Feather bras also available…:P

One other challenge I’m undertaking this year is a Weekly Nails Challenge. Shaun is giving me a theme each week to paint my nails by. Photos to follow! But the reason behind it is simply to give me an excuse to try all those designs I’ve pinned 😛 I never feel like I can bothered to paint my nails with complicated designs because no-one sees them. Why bother? Well, to prove I can. So I will 🙂

Three very ‘me’ orientated things. These aren’t the ‘do good in the world’ type of resolutions, there’s no health kick, and no high hitting life plan. Just three things for ME. Three things I want to do, and don’t usually have the willpower or chance to achieve. As I said before, wish me luck! And I hope whatever you choose to achieve this year, you achieve it, and enjoy it 🙂 Happy 2015.

Dream it and do it Walt Disney quotes 2015

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The Truffie Saga

As promised 🙂 Five pictures of Truffie that make me smile, and hopefully they will you too! Just a bit of background about her: Her full name is Truffle, she is about 16 years old, when she was a kitten she was very shy and quiet. What happened. She’s now very self-assured, and a little bit crazy. Ok, a lot crazy. She meows at doors, at walls, at humans…she acts like a kitten, but also the grumpiest old lady imaginable! She loves cardboard boxes, string, food and icing sugar…except when it’s meant for her. Then she couldn’t care less. With that in mind, may I introduce: Truffie.

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Truffie enjoying my Black Forest breakfast – yoghurt, cherry jam and chocolate.

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Truffie enjoying another of my breakfasts – toast with bovril and peanut butter!

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One of those ‘Get that camera outta ma face, human!’ moments…

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Shortly followed by another such moment, this one modelling a rather fetching neckwarmer…:P

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Lastly….well, words cannot describe how much I love this photo!

I really struggled to narrow this down to five….and if I looked through all my photos on my external as well I’d probably find a lot more! But, this sums up Truffie pretty well, and makes me smile, so job done 🙂

‘In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.’ ~ Terry Pratchett

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Family…to make me smile

So here are another 5 photos that make me smile. This time all under one theme. One of the most important things to me is my family. I complain about them, yes, but we are very close, and they mean the world to me. Especially my ‘Wales’ family as I see them a lot more often.

1. Christmas 2012

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I love this picture of my parents on Christmas Eve 2012. We were making the last preparations before Christmas Day – stuffing the turkey, avoiding each other to last minute wrap presents, tidying up…:) We listened to festive music, I dug out the silly hats, and we all had smiles on our faces.

2. London 2012

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My parents and I went to London for a few days, predominantly for an exhibition at the V&A Museum. We went down onto the riverside by Tower Bridge, and I told Mum to pose for a photo. This was the result 😛 Her happy hat, and Mary Poppins coat 🙂

3. A May Morning

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In the beautiful weather we had early on this year, we persuaded Grandpa to go out and enjoy it. So, on one lovely May morning, while Grandma was getting up, the three of us (Mum, Grandpa and I) sat out with our coffee on the decking.

4. Golden Anniversary

16.05.14 Golden Wedding Anniversary

Only a day after the previous photo, Grandma and Grandpa celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. We’d had a few ups and down over the previous few weeks, but the day itself was lovely. They were both so happy, and such an achievement.

5. 90 Years

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After a tough few weeks, Grandma had something to be happy about – her 90th birthday. Flowers, banners and cake on the day itself, and then friends and family at the weekend. Love this photo for the sheer joy and excitement on her face. Almost childlike.

Next time: The Truffie Saga 😛

In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future.’ ~ Alex Haley

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Pictures to make me smile

So I don’t do these ‘social media bandwagons’ eh? Ok, maybe sometimes I do. Post 5 photos that make you smile. Sounds easy? Not when you have as many photos as I do! I started going through methodically, then realised I already had 19 photos I love. So…I have a plan! I’m going to post 5 today, the ones that stand out to me TODAY. Then, maybe in a few days time I shall post another 5. And so on, as I find more, until I run out. Some will be photos of me, some will be photos I’ve taken, and some will be old family photos. So here goes…

1. Truffle.

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Our cat, Truffle, always makes me smile. This is just one of many pictures where she is being a bit of an idiot! She was fast asleep, dreaming, and obviously very comfortable! Not bad for about 15/16 years old!

2. STITCH!

23 styleI love Disney’s Stitch, so he always makes me smile in any capacity. My Stitch hoody is just amazing, and when I feel tired or upset or just ‘meh’ I put it on to cheer me up. Plus, this photo was taken when Sean and Caro came to visit, so it reminds of that…which makes me smile 🙂

3. Grandpa

15.04.14 Grandpa's Birthday

This was taken on Grandpa’s 85th birthday in April. He loved his cake, and was still able to enjoy it. Unfortunately it was only 3 months later that we lost him. So it’s so nice to have this photo (and a few others) to remember him by.

4. Shaun and Panda

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This was on my birthday, and Shaun and I had spent the day at Ellesmere’s Music Festival, with lunch in Welshampton…a simple day, but one which I really enjoyed. Plus the fact that Shaun’s Dad won the panda in the raffle but had already gone home, so we had to carry the panda to the car…just a really great day. Plus, I love this photo generally 🙂

5. Zhimah and Talida

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Mum and I went to a Film Night themed Hafla, and decided to choreograph a new dance…to the TIME WARP! Mum’s facial expressions are priceless. This is quite a reserved one by comparison…:P But I love dancing with Mum, I loved our costumes (I don’t think anyone expected what Mum wore!) and I love the choreography. So much fun!

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