Sunday, 27 January 2013

Retail therapy

I have been cheering myself up this week by choosing the summer clothes I will take on our February holiday to Miami Beach (strange to be trying on sleeveless tops when there was snow outside) and also with some retail therapy of the mini variety.

Today I went to the new City of London dollshouse festival, a new fair organised by the same people who do the London Kensington dollshouse show.  It was in the Tower Hotel, tucked in next to Tower Bridge.  The location is spectacular, with a stunning view of Tower Bridge, plus you have to walk around the dry moat of the Tower of London to reach the hotel from the Tube station.

On the downside, it was difficult to find, as the area around the Tower is a maze of walkways and underpasses.  There were two friendly people holding signs for the Dollshouse Festival, but their placards unhelpfully told you to follow signs to the Guoman Hotel - and none of the subsequent official signage included the Guoman Hotel at all.  Instead you should follow signs to St Katherine's Dock, but before arriving you need to head off down a narrow alley hugging the bridge approach which apparently goes nowhere but does eventually arrive at the spectacular view of the bridge as seen above.  Luckily there was a steady trickle of women of a certain age all heading down the alley, so I was fairly sure I was going the right way. Arriving at the show was not any more encouraging as the entrance took you into a small chaotic room about the size of a large bedroom, which housed a reception desk but no signage as to whether you needed to hand in your e-ticket there, no apparent queues and jam-packed with women who seemed to be exiting in several directions but the majority were heading up some narrow stairs so I went up there as well.  That turned out to be the right decision, as we emerged into an anteroom with several stands, and two entrances into a crowded large convention room.

There were the usual issues with it being very crowded, too hot, and dim unsuitable lighting made even more challenging by the many glaring spotlights on dealers' stands.  But other than that, it was a good show and I did feel it was worthwhile.  It didn't feel as big as Kensington but there were several dealers that I either hadn't seen before or perhaps they looked different out of the repetitiveness of the Kensington show. According to the programme there were 88 dealers, of whom 12 do not attend Kensington.  I did very well and ended up spending more than I intended.

These lovely boxes are from Jacqueline Crosby.  The teacaddy has a mother of pearl inlay set into the lid, as does one of the boxes.  The third box has a design of Tunbridgeware on the lid.  The little carousel is adorable and actually pivots around.  I am going to try it in my 1:24 scale Fairfield girl's bedroom and see if it looks like a large playscale-size toy in there.

I picked up another teapot from Sally Meekins to add to my collection.  Hopefully I don't already have this one - I really need to take pictures on my phone of which ones I already own.

These were on a wonderful stand from Pat Kay Toys and Dolls (  The tiny bear is fully jointed, and I am going to put him in the Fairfield girl's bedroom also.  I couldn't resist the tiger.  He is a soft toy enhanced with paint, but not jointed.  He will go in the Fairfield boy's bedroom.

This stand was new to me as well:  They had loads of Art Nouveau fantasy decorations, accessories and lighting, made out of beads and findings quite cleverly.  These are two collections of perfume bottles, a non-electric lamp, and a little box with seashells on the lid.  The seashell box will go in my Canadian house and I might see if the lamp fits into my French tower house.

I thought this couple were another foreign trader until the very end when they told me they were from Essex. I'm rubbish at accents but I thought they had one.  They had some adorable things on their stand in all scales.  This is a 1:24 scale bed, a 1:12 watering can, and I suppose the painted cabinet could be either a 1:24 wall cabinet or a 1:12 nightstand. Unfortunately (or fortunately) they only took cash so I did not come home with the 1:48 shabby chic French dollshouse which was very attractive nor some of their 1:12 painted furniture.

The quality of offering was very good, almost no tat, a lot of mid to good quality stuff, and a few top makers like Tarbena.  There were several house makers there, several lighting stalls, people like Sue Cook and Susan Bembridge selling upscale interior decor.  There was a new-to-me dollmaker called Fashion Dolls in Miniature ( from Belgium by the look of their email address.  They had some exquisite but affordable dolls which they sell even more affordably as complete kits including all the fabric, costume pattern, instructions etc. and their USP is representing  historical or fictional characters like Eliza Bennett or Empress Eugenie's handmaidens.  I almost bought Lizzy but couldn't think where I would put her.  Also the stallholder wasn't letting me think as he was constantly at my elbow pointing out all the features and benefits of their kits, and patting my arm in a very non-British invasion of my space.  So I took their card and escaped to think about it.

On the way to the fair, I finished the body of my first Cranford Mitt and picked up for the thumb.  I am really enjoying this pattern, I love the way the thumb grows organically out of the lace.  I will definitely be donating to p/hop for this one.

I also finished the Pretty Thing cowl this week.  These pictures have come out fuzzy for some reason.  It turned out fine, but unfortunately the Adriafill Carezza angora blend which feels so exquisitely soft on my hands in my fingerless mitts, feels slightly prickly on my over-sensitive neck.  I can tolerate it, but it's not the fuzzy gloriousness I was hoping for.  I am wearing it around the house as an extra bit of warmth on the cold evenings.

I also finished the Medieval Panels wallhanging and it will be on its way to France soon to its new owner.  I gave it a wash to remove the markings and it unexpectedly shrank quite a bit, so it has more of a vintage look than I was intending.  I did a cable design in the borders, and a free-motion rosette in each corner block.  The main lines are stitch-in-the-ditch and I did some free motion in invisible thread inside the panel following some of the design lines, to secure the layers there.


Daisy said...

You probably chose the right time to go summer clothes shopping - N went shopping yesterday for a new winter coat, and, of course, they only had summer stuff in stock!!

Sandra said...

Love the things you bought at the show. I missed the Sydney fair because I have bronchitis, and am so disappointed because I wanted some 1:24th scale things for the Fairfield. Your knitting as usual is great. Hugs, Sandie

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