I was quite nervous as I haven't done a craft fair for about three decades and my knitting group had been full of doom and gloom about how my efforts would be received by the more income-deprived of our local citizens. With that in mind, I had priced things quite cheaply compared to what it cost to make them: wall hangings for £10, bed quilts with a top price of £40 for the biggest ones. Not a business model that Lord Sugar (of TV programme 'The Apprentice' and no, I don't watch it) would approve of. But the whole point of this was to pass things on to new homes that would cherish them. I've had my fun of making them, displaying them, and using them for many years and a couple of house moves, and it was time to break up the museum collection and create some space at home.
I had puzzled over how to create vertical hanging space, and in the end improvised with our laundry airing rack, and a wooden quilt ladder that my f-i-l built for me last Christmas. When I arrived at the fair, I found I had been allotted a good location in the entrance lobby facing the entrance door. The downside being that they left the door open all day at temperatures down to below 5 degrees C so it was quite chilly. I had anticipated being cold and had dressed in layers with a quilted jacket to top it all off but I was still cold.
I had braced myself to sit there for six hours and not sell a thing, but in fact it turned out to be quite a positive experience. I sold about half my stock, and was flooded by positive comments and appreciation for my creations. Several other stallholders bought things, I think because they are all makers and appreciated the work that had gone into my items. There were a couple of people saying they loved them but couldn't afford them, but those people were outweighed by the people telling me I was selling things too cheaply. I had several nice chats with other quilters and crafters who wanted to tell me about what they make, and loads of people stopped to tell me how beautiful the work was. My favourite was the woman who came by with her husband, turned to glance at my stall, and her jaw literally dropped. You read that in books but don't often see it happen in real life. She stared for a while at the quilt ladder display and shut her mouth, but then moved over the the lefthand display and her jaw dropped again. She was quite excited and I was hoping she would buy something she liked, but in the end after talking to her husband she didn't.
It was really nice for me because for the last couple of years my quilts have just been 'stuff' that I didn't have room for, had to pack up, had to store and pay for them to be stored, then to be moved by removal people who obviously felt I had way too much of my stuff. I think my work had become very devalued in my mind almost to the point of being an expensive self-indulgent waste of time. But at the craft fair I could see again and again that my quilts were making people happy. Purchasers bought them with specific people in mind and told me so: "This is going to make someone very happy at Christmas", "I know someone who is just going to love this", "I don't know where I will put this but it is too beautiful not to buy it", "This will look lovely on my sister's sofa".
So all in all it was a very positive experience plus I made enough money to buy a great Christmas tree and some Christmas treats. I can see myself doing it again perhaps in a couple of years, but one of my friends (Hi Anita!) is counselling me to start up an etsy shop as a better economic model. She's probably right, she's very sensible about things like that.
Other stuff this week
While I was sitting at my craft stall, I finished the second one of my Fetching fingerless mitts. I actually put them on as soon as I finished them, to help stay warm.
I've also been knitting on my Seven-pointed Star Tam which I'm still really enjoying. I'm currently decreasing towards the centre. I didn't plan it that way but the colours seem so Christmassy. I'm still getting sore hands though doing stretches before and after knitting seems to help a little.
And in keeping with the Christmas spirit, I tried roasting chestnuts over an open fire, using our little fireplace shovel in the dining room pictured above. It worked really well apart from when one blew up in my face when I was leaning over to turn them over with tongs. It made me jump which caused me to smack my head on the mantel, so when DH came running in to see what the ruckus about, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself and covered in bits of chestnut. But the surviving chestnuts were delicious and I've now ordered a safer chestnut roaster from Amazon.
Are you making Christmas things? Are you on a deadline for handcrafted gifts?