One thing that I make a point of doing in any city that I’m in, is scouting out local independent businesses, and Sheffield was no exception. I had a couple of hours to spare last Monday morning before catching my train back to London, so I did a bit of internet research to track down a place to buy handmade items in Sheffield. Despite spending a weekend surround by designer talent at the Folksy Summer School, it still was not an easy feat to track down! I found it incredibly difficult to find anything on the internet about where to find crafty/handmade shops in Sheffield. It was such a hard task that when I wanted to search out the shop details in order to compile this blog post, I couldn’t even find the link again! After much searching, I managed to track down a lovely shop called Bird’s Yard (although even the website seems to only mention the Leeds store, not the Sheffield branch, but you can find them on Facebook). It’s tucked away down a cheery looking shopping lane, Chapel Walk.
The shop stocks all sorts of handmade goodies by different local designers and crafters, ranging from jewellery, clothing, cushions, to gorgeous handbound books. I can’t leave a city without a souvenir of some description, so came home with a handmade needle case, as I need just the right equipment for all that sewing that I do, right?
Whilst en route I also found the famous Police box, which is situation in Surrey St. I walked past it the first time, went past two officers in the street, but didn’t dare ask them where it was! Turns out it’s on a rather nondescript corner, and was hidden by a white van at the time.
Apparently the box is still in use, but a peek in the window suggests it’s something of a storage unit.
The plaque on the front gives a nice potted history, which I’ll include a few snippets of here:
This Police Box, which is still used operationally, is the sole survivor of 120 boxes which served the Sheffield City Police for nearly 40 years. Introduced in October 1928, the boxes were sited on Police beats all over the City and provided a contact point for police officers and members of the public. The boxes were visited by patrolling officers at hourly intervals when information was passed by phone between patrolling officers and supervisory staff at police stations. A blue electric lamp, controlled from the local police station, was located on the top of each box and was used to indicate that there was an important message to be passed out. Occasionally the boxes served as a temporary lock-up for anyone who had been arrested and was awaiting transport to a police station.
That’s all very well and good, by why is it green, and not blue? Police boxes are always blue! Haven’t they ever seen the Dr Who TARDIS? Someone needs to get out a tin of paint and sort that out.
Friends and colleagues were a bit surprised when I mentioned that I was heading up to Sheffield last weekend, but it was for a very good reason: The Folksy Summer School.
It was one of those events that I signed up for as soon as I heard about it, without really knowing what to expect, and I headed up on my own. The idea of meeting up with lots of other crafty/creative/handmade business type people was just too good an opportunity to pass up.
I decided to catch the train up at stupid o’clock on the Saturday morning, thinking this would be a good idea so that I didn’t have to pay for accommodation on the Friday night. Turned out to be not such a great idea, as whilst I arrived in Sheffield on time, I had a nightmare of a time trying to get to the actual venue, and so missed the first hour or two!
The event was held at the Woodland Discovery Centre in Ecclesall Woods. The location is absolutely stunning, and as I ended up walking half way from Sheffield (due to bus dramas), I wandered through some of the woods and it really is a lovely spot.
It seems I was too engrossed in the formal sessions that I missed the craft demos, and also seem to have neglected the taking of more than a handful of photos!
I finished the weekend incredibly inspired, motivated, and exhausted! The speakers were amazing, and my Filofax is filled with pages upon pages of notes and lists of things to do. A few of my personal highlights!
- Tilly Walnes encouraging us all to craft our blogs as much as we blog our craft (I need to work on both elements of this!)
- Various debated during and between sessions about whether artisans/handmade sellers should be niche, not too niche, or niche within a niche!
- The lovely Andy of vinegar and brown paper reminding us that everyone else is making it up as they go along too (I may have purchased a couple of items from him, but I was planning on doing that anyway….)
- Doug Richard closing the weekend with his hilarious tales of setting up various businesses, whilst maintaining a record of never knowingly being underpriced! Brilliant stuff.
There was a slight mix-up on the train going home, but I thought it was a nice touch that this was the train I was initially on:
As for the summer school, here are a few other blog posts you might want to check out (particularly for more photos):
If you’re London based and sell handmade items through Folksy, Etsy, or similar, you’re welcome to come along to our little Etsy sellers’ meetup morning tea next Saturday, August 29th. It won’t be a summer school, but there will be lots of tea, cake, and great company!
Here’s hoping the Summer School becomes an annual event!
I’m very excited to be heading up to the Folksy Summer School in a few weeks’ time. It’s billed as:
two days of learning for designers and makers. It’s in the woods, in the height of summer, in a little corner of Sheffield where we can’t be disturbed. We’re bringing together experts in branding, marketing, social media, photography, selling, making and creating, all with the aim of helping designers and makers get better at what they do.
It’s set to be a whole weekend full of crafty maker/seller inspiration and it sounds amazing. There will be talks from lots of crafty bloggers and makers that I love, as well workshops and demonstrations (I’m particularly excited about linocutting). I can’t wait!
Let me know in the comments if you’re going too.
It’s amazing how many people in London don’t even know that Walthamstow has a village. Well it does, and it’s lovely! Cute, quirky, independent shops, an ancient house, and a great sense of community. I think I’ll save the detail for another post, but this is just to say that on Sunday I’ll be having a little travelknitter yarn stall at the Walthamstow Village Garden Party (well, if I ever get rid of this cough, but that’s another matter).
Fingers crossed for good weather, and make mine a Pimm’s!
We just got back from our week’s escape in rural Spain, where we stayed at the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in Andalucia, southern Spain. The holiday was scheduled to coincide with me finishing my job (hurrah!) and to mark the start of a new chapter in my life. From my last post you can gather that things didn’t get off to a great start, but The Amazing Molly was determined that we would have our holiday! Once we escaped Malaga airport, we were on the road, and the scenery was fantastic. Even in summer, there is snow on the highest peaks, and I grabbed this snap from the car:
We both wanted a true escape for a week, so we booked a stay at Cuesta Vinas, a casita (small house) situated outside the small village of Valor. After a very difficult journey, the place was a sight to behold:
The location is about a three hour drive from Malaga airport (or a slightly shorter journey from Almeria airport, but that was the flight that we missed) but be warned that there are lots of winding roads to navigate, and the property is at the top of the steepest driveway I’ve ever seen! It’s not for the faint-hearted. Luckily I had a reprieve from driving and Molly did a great job.
The owners, Ginny and Jeff, have a property on the same site, and they were incredibly friendly and helpful. I fell ill on the second day (clearly a bug that I’d carried from ol’ Blighty) and Ginny brought over a selection of remedies to help. They also have two lovely dogs: Lottie and Josh. Josh is a sweet old fella, and Lottie would often saunter over and make herself comfy on a sunlounger, checking out the view from the terrace. She happily amused herself, paying little attention to what we were doing. She clearly didn’t get bored of the view, and neither did I. She made her way in to quite a few of my photos:
The property is situated a mile or two outside the town of Valor in the Alpujarras. The Alpujarras is the region made famous in the book, Driving Over Lemons by Christ Stewart, which documents the story of a couple from the UK who bought a derelict farm in the area. I’d personally not heard of the book before, but there was a copy in the cottage, so I enjoyed reading more about the area.
One of the highlights of the property was definitely the swimming pool. It’s up a track on the next terrace above the house, so it’s completely private. I’ve never seen a pool with such an amazing view; definitely movie-star quality.
Because I was ill we had to cancel some of our plans (including a day trip to Granada) but we did venture in to the market at Ugijar, about a 20 minute drive from Valor to stock up on provisions. The area has a long-standing market tradition, where the markets take place in the towns and villages in the area on set dates each month. The market in Ugijar is held on the 5th and 20th (regardless of the day) and so coincided nicely with our stay.
The market stalls are set up along several different streets in the town. It’s very much aimed at locals (there were few tourists) and so there were a number of stalls of basic clothing, shoes, etc. Nothing too dissimilar to the local street markets here in London. However The Amazing Molly and I were thrilled to discover the stalls focusing on our favourite thing: nibbly food!
There were more varieties of olives, nuts, dried fruit and sweets than I’ve seen before in one place:
Back at the house we also made good use of the the clay oven, which was definitely a new experience for me!
You’ll notice the rather black edges of the crust in this picture; I was a bit impatient and put the first pizza in before the coals had died down properly. Oops. Nevertheless I ate the middle bits, and the next pizza was perfect.
This was definitely a different sort of holiday for me: there were no city wanderings, no yarn shops, and no knitting! I suppose it’s good to get a break from my usual travel itineraries though, but it is hard to plan a holiday of essentially doing nothing. It’s definitely worth it though.
Just a few pointers that I’ve gained from my own personal experience this week. I hope the tips can be useful to someone else:
- Don’t quit your job, having a leaving do, and go out drinking cocktails the night before an early flight.
- Don’t say that you should set two alarm clocks, and then not do it.
- Don’t sleep through the alarm clock, which was correctly set for 3am. Even if there are two of you, you can easily sleep through the sound of crickets when you’ve only had one hour’s sleep.
- When getting a minicab to Gatwick in a fluster at 4am, don’t give up when the driver decides to take a different route to the one you instructed him to take. It will be host to a massive accident and you won’t move anywhere.
- Don’t miss your flight. The next flight will cost a mint. All of your pre-planning three months in advance to get the best fare will be out the window.
- Don’t pre-book your currency collection at the airport and then not have time to collect it.
- Don’t pre-book your car hire with one of the major companies at Malaga airport, especially if it’s a Saturday. The queue will be several hours’ long (seriously, don’t even consider booking through Gold Car). Instead, use local company Autos Lido, who will have no queue and save yourself a good four or five hours. Oh, and just avoid booking with one of the other companies first, and save yourself a couple of hundred euros.
Once you’re there, drive to the Alpujarras, enjoy the scenery, and leave the trauma behind.
A few weeks ago I arranged for a some fellow knitters to meet up at the Fashion and Textile Museum in south London for the Kaffe Fassett exhibition, “A Life in Colour”.
I wouldn’t describe myself as a particular fan of Kaffe Fassett’s work, but he’s a bit of a legend in the knitting and textile world, so it was a good opportunity to find out more.
The first part of the exhibition focused on some of his other artwork such as paintings and ceramics, but I was keen to move on to the knitting. I was delighted to see all the ends left loose on his first ever knit cardigan:
I believe he’s quite renowned for not weaving in the ends on his work, which is quite a sin for knitters. It makes me think that there’s hope for us mere knitting mortals!
I’d joked that I would need sunglasses in order to cope with the bright colours in the exhibition, but the effect really wasn’t eye-searingly bright at all. There were large wall-sized knitted hangings:
as well as some fantastic quilts, which I loved. Quilting is one of those hobbies that’s on my “to-do-when-I have-time” list, and I found Kaffe’s work really inspiring:
I really liked this quilt made from men’s shirts. It’s definitely the sort of thing I’d love to own and use:
And of course there was plenty of the classic Kaffe Fasset knits, such as the Long Leaf Coat published by Rowan in 1992:
The museum also has a lovely little cafe, where we spent about an hour in the cafe afterwards drinking tea and eating cake (they had to kick us out at closing time!). I’d highly recommend a visit, and the exhibition is on until the 29th of June.