Shopping & selling at handmade events

It’s been a busy few weeks lately at PepperPot and I’ve been really enjoying branching out into making a new range of dolls. I’ve also been spending my weekends at handmade markets. A few weeks ago I visited Crafty Vintage at Bowland Brewery in Clitheroe. I love Crafty Vintage events – always in brilliant venues with amazing handmade and vintage products and delicious food. I haven’t been to Bowland Brewery before but I will be going back in the future – it’s a stunning venue for a restaurant and we were able to get a table afterwards for some fab burgers. 


The handmade stalls at Crafty Vintage were brilliant as ever. I didn’t manage to get photos of everything on show there, but here is a selection from sellers including jewellery from HandmadebyEmma, home fragrance from TheThomasColes, homewares from TillyandSage &  Lottie&Bea and sparkly baubles (my photo doesn’t do them justice!) from 7lemons and loads more beside. 

You can find out more about Crafty Vintage events at www.craftyvintage.com.

I was going to write this blog when I came home from Clitheroe, but I was busy making products for my next handmade market the week after. I really enjoyed being part of the first St Anne’s handmade market by MWLevents. I’ve never visited Lytham St Anne’s before, the venue was right by the promenade so I got to have a little walk along the sea front (thank you to all the lovely beach hut residents who let me interrupt their day to talk about the market!) 

MWLevents runs handmade markets in venues around the North West and like Crafty Vintage they are full of talented sellers. I managed to get a few pictures of the day in between talking to customers including wood art from TheCraftyChap, delicious chocolates from Lloyd’sChocolatier, handmade soaps from Ma’sBars, typewriter arts from OiDoris, gifts from MoominDesigns, pictures from MWLDesigns and JRHayesDraws – the list goes on…

 

And of course I had my own stall too ūüėä


It was interesting to meet visitors to the market – so many people were so impressed by what was on offer and  the standard of all the products. Crafty Vintage is well established and many of its visitors are regulars who know what a fab event they will be going to. St Anne’s handmade market brought something new to the area and I think people were surprised by what they found. There are more markets coming there later in the year – you can find details of all MWLevents markets at www.twitter.com/MWLevents 
One thing both proved is that handmade is best – so go and find the next market near you, it’s so much better to shop local and buy things made with love that aren’t just mass produced. 

Just a Card

The #justacard campaign aims to support small businesses and makers by showing people how even a small purchase – just a card for example – can help independent, creative businesses survive. The name comes from a simple statement by a gallery:

‚ÄúIf everyone who‚Äôd complimented our beautiful gallery had bought just a card we‚Äôd still be open.‚ÄĚ

You can follow the campaign on twitter using #justacard – if you want to see how many talented people there are out there then follow the posts on Thursdays from 8pm for #justacard hour.

You can find out more about the campaign on the blog at https://www.justacard.org/

The team behind the campaign also release shopping guides to highlight some of the beautiful handmade products available to buy and i was really proud to have one of my felt and bead brooches appear in the latest spring gift guide as part of the green theme

gift

Crafty Kids and April Showers – fun Easter crafts

Easter is fast approaching, and so are the holidays. I’m looking forward to some time off and hopefully some beautiful spring weather but most holidays come with some rainy days and my kids love getting creative, so here are some ideas for some crafty Easter fun…

I looked back at my old blog and found a post about the Easter bonnets we made when they were really little. Lots of craft shops sell plain bonnets and decorating them can be fun (as can wearing them round the supermarket).

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We’ve been trying out some more crafts lately that are perfect for Easter. Pom Pom animals are great – you can buy Pom Pom makers in various sizes or make your own out of cardboard. Add on a face and some feet, put two together to make a head and body, put lots together and make a caterpillar – it depends how adventurous you are! You can make eyes, mouths, ears, feet – whatever your creature needs – and glue them on. Use buttons, beads, or cut shapes from felt or even paper – here are some we made earlier….


Pom poms are simple to make but they can take a lot of time, and kids don’t always have the will to finish them, so for a really quick option wind wool around your fingers instead – tie in the middle and cut the ends to make simple Pom poms – this little guy took us a few minutes to make.¬†¬†532A35D6-2325-4B69-9E00-B70A9A3A54C2
You can’t mention Easter without chocolate, so why not make some chocolate treat bags – cut felt shapes and sew, or even glue together and add the eggs. You could do egg shaped bags, or bags with bunny ears. These carrot treat bags with a little felt bunny are in my Etsy store right now


Easter is all about spring too, so there are lots of fun flower crafts you can do together. My daughter comes up with the most amazing craft ideas by herself – she used some jumbo pipe cleaners and tissue paper to make me some flowers on Valentine’s Day, and recently drew some flowers, cut them out and stuck them to twine to make a flower headband.


If you want to make flowers then try cutting simple shapes from felt, add some beads or buttons and stitch on some embellishments. Use strong glue to attach them to florists wire, or even paper straws and put them in a vase, or add a brooch back for a pretty flower pin for your coat or bag. ¬†These are some I made…


If you want to make ones like these you can buy a craft kit in my Etsy store.

Happy Easter crafting!

Chorley Handmade Market

It was my first Market of the year today in the Lancastrian Suite of Chorley Town Hall.

There’s always a good mix of stalls at Chorley Handmade, and lots of talented crafters so it’s a great market whether you are a stall holder or a visitor.

I’ve brought new items to this market so I laid my stall out differently. It’s always nice to bring new products ¬†– the tooth fairy pillows and needle felted fairies were a hit!


I managed to get round to see some of the stalls and take pictures of a few before the market opened.

There were tasty treats like marmalade gin & tonic from Gribbin and Bear, muffins from The Muffin Mistress and the gorgeous Rivington Chocolates


Then lots of amazing handmade items from ¬†MWL Designs‘ framed pictures, to Sarah Brelsford Studio‘s glass work, That Silver Touch jewellery,

Lovely images of the Lake District from Northaway Photography, wood crafts from Smallthingswood and the clever pebble pictures from Out Of The Blue.


John Pindar Arts was also on hand letting children create their own art to take away.

There were so many others there who I didn’t get a chance to photograph – needle felting, ceramics, glassware, thread art… b2greenwoodworking, Peacock Chic, RELEASE into Victory ‘Angel Gifts’ project, Blue Butterfly Crafts, Needle-Felt Art and fibre-crafts by Sharon Shaul, Click Handknitted, Janes Bees, Frances Smith, Going Potty with Sam, Kat Pearson Designs, MaggieJacksStudio, JT Crowley Books, Suzanne Kelly, The Crafty Chap ¬†and Hidden Treasures all had stalls at the market.

The next Chorley Handmade Market is on Saturday 13th May – follow event organiser MWL Events on Facebook or twitter to keep up to date.

Want to know which markets you can find me at in the future? You can find me on Facebook or twitter too!

Feeding birds and baking with kids – handmade school holidays

Our half term was last week, but I know lots of other who are on holiday this week, and with all these grey skies and rainy days you might want some more indoor activity ideas…

Although the days are getting a little warmer, we still have lots or birds at our feeders, so we decided to make a homemade bird feeder.

We bought bird seed, and bird peanuts and the kids mixed it together in a big bowl along with some raisins and a few breadcrumbs. I melted a pack of lard in a pan and poured it into the mix then we stired it all round again.

If you have any disposable cups you can use them for the next bit – I didn’t have any so I lined normal mugs with grease proof paper instead. First put a piece of string into the cup – with a disposable cup you can put a hole on the bottom and poke the string through.In a proper mug I put one end on the outside of the greaseproof paper so it would be left hanging out. Then pour the mixture into the cup(s) and leave to set. This might take several hours – we left our overnight.


When it’s set you can take it off the cup – either cut away the disposable one or slide it out of a proper mug. You should have string sticking out of both ends which you can tie together to hang your feeder outside. We have had blue tits, robbins and starlings visiting since our feeders were hung out.
So the birds were well fed but the children were still hungry Рit was time for some baking.  We made this gluten free banana cake together as it is always a winner and it fairly easy to make with lots of opportunities for little ones to measure and stir. I tend to cook it for longer than the recipe though so it might need checking a few times Рjust keep testing with a skewer until it comes out clean.

My daughter also wanted to do her own baking so I gave her this recipe for gluten free jam biscuits from homeonalake. All I did was to separate out the egg yolk and melt the butter but she measured and mixed the ingredients then shaped the biscuits and added the jam. They were delicious – like a jam topped shortbread.


So there you go – a handmade holiday activity day!

Adventures in Blackpool Zoo…

It’s been half term this week, today we took a trip to Blackpool Zoo. Looking at revuews online last night it seemed that not everyone was impressed, so I wasn’t totally sure how our day would go, but we have really enjoyed our visit.

We stared in the Dinosaur Safari, which we did manage to walk round the wrong way, slightly messing up the chronology of the story but the dinosaurs were all there and the kids loved spotting the ones they knew.


Then it was on to the real animals. We started with a bird display – a beautiful parrot and some birds of prey – aparently the colour of an owls eyes can help you work out if it hunts at night or in the day….

There were lots of animals to visit and talks all through the day, which we really enjoyed. We watched penguins being fed (they had to be quick with seagulls around) and saw camels, lots of birds and monkeys, zebra and reindeer.

One of the highlights for us were the cute monkeys wandering around in the rainforest enclosure – the kids loved being near enough to be able to touch them, and we all wanted to take one home!


We went to the elephant talk and learned about Kate – it’s good to hear that she’s getting a new enclosure and some new friends this summer. Although looking at her routine I’m thinking of booking myself a break at the elephant enclosure – she gets more pampering that I do!

The best show of the day was the sea lion display – they were amazing!


We saw the tiger and lion being fed, I always forget just how big those big cats are – the robin sitting in the tiger enclosure was much braver than me!


With two coeliac children I often have to take food in case we don’t find anything gluten free, and the only review I had seen said that there was very little choice. We found there were several options available, including chips, jacket potatoes and curry & rice. Lots of reviews also said the food was poor and expensive but we paid ¬£23 for 4 hot meals and drinks which I though was reasonable and I was pleasantly surprised by the food.

Yes the zoo needs a lick of pain in a few places and it isn’t as big as other places like Chester Zoo, but it was a good family day out that we all enjoyed and we will definitely go back in the future.

(For the record this is not in any way an affiliate post – just our experience of a day out)

My (mostly) make ahead Pinterest Valentines meal

Valentines Day, and I’m at home with the kids for half term so I’ve spent the day preparing a fab three course meal to celebrate Valentines Day. As always I’ve dug around Pinterest to find my recipes.

For a starter I made these goats cheese puff pastry tarts Рready rolled pastry made them so easy, just a couple of minutes to put together then put them in the oven for about 20 mins, they can come out 5-10 mins before you serve.


For the main course I went for a beef stifado – I always love Greek food and I found this recipe, but I cooked mine in the slow cooker for 4 hours so I could get it started early and have no last minute prep. I served it with Orzo, which just takes 10mins to cook.


And to finish – a fab eton-mess style desert, I made all the bits up in the morning then just layered it together while I waited for the starter to cook.


All great recipes and not much stress in the making – time for chocolates and prosecco….

Brighten your day Рa wet felting tutorial 

It’s a cold grey February day so I’ve been trying to brighten things up making felted wool balls.


There are loads of tutorials around for making wet felted balls, you can make them in the washing machine, or even shake wool around in a pot, but this is how I like to make them.

All you need is some wool roving, hot and cold water and washing up liquid.
Take a small section of wool roving Рit needs to be quite loose with soft edges. Obviously it depends on the size you want the final item to be but a piece about as large as my hand was enough to make the balls that were approx. 1cm in diameter. If you want them to be larger it is often better to make a smaller ball then add more layers Рotherwise the centre may not be firm enough.


Start with 2 bowls – one with hot water (as hot as possible for your hands to go in) and the other as cold as possible. Put some soap on your hands and very gently roll the roving, keeping your hands a little apart, until it begins to form a loose ball shape. I once read a tutorial that said to imagine you are rolling a baby chick in your hands – I remember that comment each time I do this…

From there it is about dipping it in the hot and cold water bowls alternately, rolling the ball round in the palms of your hand in between – the longer you roll the firmer the ball gets and the harder you can begin to apply pressure to it. At first it will be very squishy and hard to keep in a ball shape, be patient it will suddenly begin to firm up.

Dipping it in the different temperature waters it will help the felting process, it will also help to get rid of the soap as you progress.Keep rolling until the ball feels really firm. You will need to leave it for several hours to fully dry out.


My daughter loved joining in on this activity too – a great idea for a rainy day craft. I was very impressed with her finished leaf and flower!

There are loads of things you can do with your finished balls Рcreate bouquets of flowers, garlands or even rugs. I use lots of colours, gradually layered together to make the balls and flowers in my Etsy shop:

 

Handmade Felt BallsHandmade Felt Ball Flowers

Sunday Pinterest Pancakes 

I’m a big fan of Pinterest¬†– I could spend a whole day drifting through totally random collections of images. I find inspiration for my makes,¬†¬†ideas of things to do with the kids, and I’m pretty sure I could plan 20 weddings, redecorate a thousand houses and book enough beach holidays to last a lifetime.

I hardly ever look in a cookery book now – I find tons of new recipes online and it’s easy to store them on my tasty stuff board. This weekend we’ve been trying out some pancakes from a Japanese hot cakes recipe I pinned. First version – Nutella filled pancakes.


I made the batter and put a spoonful in the pan, added a blob of chocolate spread and topped with a bit more batter, a bit fiddly  to do but turned out to be worth it. They rose really high and the Nutella melted in the middle, we loved them!


Next version? This time I substituted some of the flour for cocoa powder to make chocolate pancakes – served with blueberries and sliced bananas


Sunday morning breakfast success!

Squirrel coats and bunny trousers – getting crafty with Sylvanian Families

Christmas may be over but it’s still cold outside, so today we made sure that some of our Sylvanian Family friends got some nice warm clothes.

There are some amazingly talented makers who knit, crochet and sew beautiful, detailed clothes for these tiny creatures but I know from past experience that these can be tricky things to make.

I love working with felt. It has a lovely feel, doesn’t fray and and is easy to use – perfect for today’s task. I wanted simple, easy to make clothes so these are perfect for beginners, the jacket doesn’t even need any sewing at all.

First, some trousers. Cut a rectangle of felt long enough to go around the doll and wide enough to go from feet to waist.

Sew the two short ends together to make a tube, but only about 1/3 of the way – leave the rest open to go around the tail.

Sew the join to the other side of the tube with a few stitches to create two leg holes – don’t forget these little guys can have quite big feet so keep the holes as big as possible.

There are various ways to fasten the trousers at the top of the unstitched section – what you do might depend on how big a tail your critter has. You could add a small press stud, some Velcro or elastic. I usually use Velcro, but today I tried sewing a loop of thin elastic and sewing that to the inside at the waist, the tail fits into the unsewn section and the elastic loops over the top of the tail.

And that was the trousers – finished!

Next we made some dungarees for another rabbit friend. I cut a piece of felt in a T-shape – Sylvanian Families come in different sizes and tails make a difference so giving exact measurements is tricky – felt is easy to bend round and cut to size.


Fold the two long ends into the middle and stitch them to the other side at the bottom with a few stitches in order to create the leg holes.

Use thin elastic to make straps, sewing from one (unstitched) corner of the back to the opposite shoulder strap, then repeat for the other side. Then the dungarees are all done.

Finally I made a no-sew jacket. These are quick and easy to do, although you can add buttons, pockets and fastenings if you want to make it more complicated. For a simple jacket, cut a rectangle big enough to go round the doll, snip two small arm holes and add a slit or gap big enough to go round the tail – and that’s it!


Once they were all dressed and ready we decided to make a teepee tent for them to play in. Again I went for a simple, easy to make tent – all I used was a sheet of felt and some drinking straws. First build the straws into a frame – there are different ways of making teepees – i used 5 straws for mine. First I tied them together, then to make it more secure I sewed through the straws to keep them in place.

There are lots of templates and patterns online for making teepees – it basically involves a semi-circle, I used a little trial and error, pinning the basic felt shape onto the frame and trimming from there. Then I sewed the felt and straw together at the top and bottom of each straw. At the entrance I folded the edges back and sewed them open for easy access.


And now they are off to play with their tent in their new clothes, and I’m off for a cup of tea!