Friday, December 30, 2011

In the Gloaming Between

Bernadette Bohan's fabulously decorated Christmas cakes.
The Kerry Christmas Market was a big success.  Lots of work and I made very little money out of it, but the vendors were all very happy.  I have to think about whether I would do two days next year and I would certainly move it up a week so it wasn't the weekend right before Christmas.  Too many people had finished their shopping.  You certainly see the recession on the craft fair/Christmas market level.  Last year, most vendors agreed that they made 2-3 times as much in sales, but all were realistic this year and didn't seem upset as they did better that they expected.  I had two excellent Santy's and it was a shame to see that there weren't many people there for them as I thought they were better than any Santy Fionn has even seen.  Thankfully there were people there for sales.  I have to rethink the top floor as people don't seem to want to go upstairs, even with a lift.  All part of the strange psychology of selling.

Christmas Day came and went and it was as relaxing and chaotic as it should have been. By the time I get to Christmas, I am usually so tired that I am longing for my stack of new books and new pj's to just relax and completely unwind.  This year was no exception as I was going and going for what felt the entire year without much of a break.  I think if I hadn't the two weeks off, my body would have made the decision for me!  Despite the hard work, I didn't make hardly anything in December, which does not bode well for the rest of the year.  I am hoping that will end up being a good thing in the New Year to kick of Irish craft online.  I have been part of for over a year now and my sales are horrible.  Granted, my cost is not high, but I find it a total waste of my time.  There are just too many other artisans to differentiate yourself from and it seems like you could spend a whole day marketing and get absolutely nothing made.  Etsy is probably a good option for Americans, but I don't see the majority of Irish shop owners there doing as well.  Changes must get made.

We made these felt Christmas decoration
in craft club.  Girls are getting to be quite
good on the sewing machine!
I have to get more students on board or I will have to give up my studio.  That is the hard reality of this recession.  I am desperate to keep it so I will spend the first week of the New Year going around to the schools that are likely candidates and talking to students about the Craft Club that I do.  It would only take about 5-7 more students to cover the cost of my studio expenses, which isn't much and a realistic goal.  Otherwise, I haven't room in my house to even move things back home as the tables won't fit and I wouldn't have room to make larger items.  The Irish government is just sucking the life out of the economy and people are afraid to spend or are spending all they have just to keep going.  We all talk about trying to just keep going and wait it out until things improve, but I see this year will be the watershed year of the recession.  People are giving up their craft and are quite dejected.  I am not sure what the answer is, but I know that something good has to come our way in the New Year.  The Year of Craft is very nearly over and I know it gave craft a boost visibly, but it would be interesting to see in terms of figures how much it increased sales.  Part of the problem is that I think Dublin shoppers were much more in touch with buying Irish and buying craft this Christmas, but Kerry buyers were not.  I need to get my work out of Kerry, simple as that.

Meanwhile, I need to get a copy of the Examiner today as there is supposed to be an article on people starting businesses during the recession and I am included in it.

Colleen Bowler's beautiful, hand-thrown pottery.
And the New Year is almost here, so must make plans!  Happy New Year to all and wishing you a relaxing time for the rest of the holidays!!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Kerry Christmas Market

I've been a bit quiet lately, but I haven't been idle!    I am putting together a big two-day Christmas market for Kerry food and craft producers.  Sales this year have been so poor, that we really need a good event to give us a boost for the holidays.  And it's really shaping up to be a great event!  Lots of fantastic vendors and the Díseart will be beautiful for the weekend.  As Santy himself is too busy to leave the North Pole at this time of year, he has sent two fellas to stand in and make sure boys and girls are being good and are really deserving!  Saturday Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh will be present as Dadaí na Nollaig on Saturday and on Sunday Brendan Griffin will be with us.  Great fun!  Santy will arrive via Dingle Jaunting car at 12pm on Saturday and on 1pm on Sunday.  Loads of details to see to in the final planning, but things are going well...

Another craft fair done yesterday and it was pretty dismal for all, if I am honest.  Most of Ireland is full of anxiety at the thought of the year's budget being launched tomorrow and are just afraid to spend.  We are promised another year of woe and punishment.  I am not sure how many more years of this average people can take.  The politicians have given themselves raises yet again.  It is beyond a disgrace to cut hospitals and creches and people on low income and then to give yourself a €27,000 wage increase (or one for your friends).  I am not sure if people aren't too downtrodden to riot at this stage, but most other countries in Europe would be raging.  Hard to say if it would actually do any good.  It makes keeping a cheery Christmas attitude that bit more daunting, I tell you.  I'd love to say that things will bounce back in the New Year, but I think people are largely thinking craft is a luxury and it is just not on the list of things to purchase.  As well as excellent value, it must be said that not all craft is expensive.  And the negative repercussions of buying overseas imports can be seen as close as our neighbors.  We all buy a certain amount of things that are made out of country, but Ireland has lost so many jobs in the last 3 years that it is critical to keep that money in our economy.  And if people aren't buying craft at Christmas, then I fear for sales the rest of the year.

Tree top angel,  Handmade out of pure wool!
Meanwhile, the craft club is going strong.  We made these little ladies last week and were working on felt Christmas ornaments this week.  I think the last session before Christmas will be Christmas stockings.   I am making these angels for hampers for Bluíríní Blásta Cafe for the next week.  It's all go!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Oh, Knit & Stitch, how I do love thee....

One of Ruth Issett's stunning
textile pieces on exhibition
at K & S 
 We made it up and down to Dublin, Fionn and I, and had a great time.  Knit & Stitch time is my favourite time of year: a chance to get great new supplies, take in inspirational exhibitions, and meet up with friends you see mostly online.  I took a mini-workshop with Ruth Issett called "Running with Colour" and it was fab.  I adore her work and her use of colour--so vibrant and full of life.  I tend to like a lot of abstract work in the last five years and so I could get lost in the piece on the left.  I had this one on my computer desktop to study every day and so it was a thrill to see the original!

Fionn learned a bit of weaving, but it was disappointing that much of the student classes were rather flat.  There were school tours there on the day we were there and most of the craft learning stations were geared towards girls, which was unfortunate as there were plenty of lads there.  I am a strong believer in teaching boys to sew as its part of my Basic Skills for Life training that I teach.  Who wouldn't have to know how to do an emergency repair of a seam or how to sew a button back on?  Even if they aren't going to pursue a creative career, its a great thing to learn to express yourself creatively.  I was told that a group from England decline to come over and tutor in craft.  My response to that is WHY do they have to come from England?  I know Twisted Thread, the organizing group for K & S, comes from England, but there are plenty of talented people in Ireland who could organize and teach young people interested in craft i.e. patchwork, weaving, spinning, felting, stitching.  I did love their great emphasis on repurposing and upcycling clothing and the awareness of who is producing clothing and how they manage to keep their costs low (cheap labour overseas...).  But, it's my third show now and I do notice that the cream of the craft doesn't always travel over from the English shows; it's time that we make sure that the Dublin show is just as good as the English ones.

Now I am back in Dingle, it's time to start working on the Kerry Christmas Market full-tilt.  The deadline to apply is tomorrow and I have lot of PR to do, a poster to design, and one more celebrity Santy to find!  It's coming along great and we have a wonderful group of artisans so far.  The children Christmas carol service will be wonderful on the Saturday and I am working on music performances for the Sunday.  If you have time and a few presents left to get, please DO come to Dingle for the weekend of December 17/18.  Come on the Saturday and spend the day taking in the wonderful food and craft at the Christmas Market and the unique and vibrant shops of Dingle.  Splurge and spend the night and have a fab dinner at Doyle's or Global Village.  Appreciate Kerry as much as we do!

Craft club is going strong.  We felted the pieces to make angels for the top of the tree and next week we will sew them together.  For now until Christmas, we will be making Christmas decorations or presents.  Great fun and the kids are learning so much (and they are a great bunch to work with).

If you have any inquiries about workshops or participating in craft club, please ring 087-9111793 or email to register.


Tuesday, November 29th
Wednesday, December 7th


Wednesday, November 16th
Tuesday, November 22nd
Saturday, December 10th

Absolutely amazing quilt close up.  Won Judges Choice 2011.  Artist is
Janneke de Vries-Bodzinga.
Love this guy!!  

I also loved her sketchbook on how she designed the wonderful seahorse

Very impressed with this one as it was a kid!
Leif Sinclair from Leominster.
This is a panel of a quilt series from Genesis.

Part of Seascapes exhibition sponsored by CCOI.  This is
Marika Miklosi-Manning.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Rolling in November...

Merino and silk hat with resist
patches--looks fab on!
I've been busily felting for a pop-up shop that is opening in Limerick.  New hats and scarves are on the way.  All things going well, I will need to felt more!  Here are two new hats. Both are merino with silk pieces and hand-dyed.  The turquoise one is finished, but I have to think about the burgundy and see if it might need another bit of embellishment.  I have three new scarves I felted and dyed yesterday that need ironing and labels sewn in.  

I'm working on samples to send to Boston for a shop there.  I need to send my lovelies out into the world as the sales in Kerry just aren't enough.  I don't make as much money per item, but I am not making anything in Kerry!!  The studio is great and has put me in great space to produce a lot more, so now I need to put the head down and get some serious production going.  

Deadline is fast approaching for the Dingle Christmas Market (November 11th).  Participants must be in Kerry and all goods must be artisan produced/handmade.  I really want to showcase the talent in the county.  If you are interested in participating, please get in touch with me and I can forward you an application (087-9111793 or leave a message here).  Price is €25 per day and I would prefer that you are present for both days.  I know its a long way to travel, so if you come up with friend, I can assign you space next to each other so you can watch each other's work and not have to be there both days.  I am hard at work on all the details.  It promises to be a great weekend!!

Merino and silk pieces, hand-dyed.  I think these needs a
bit of bling yet!

I also wanted to let you know about an Indoor Christmas Market in Kenmare, Co Kerry. They are looking for potential stall holders that sell Irish Crafts and Christmas Gifts. The market will run from Dec 1st to 31st, 10am to 6pm. Prices depend on size of stall and are very affordable. Contact Sue O'Neill at 087 765 3319 or Anne-Marie on 064 6648907 to reserve pitches. Kenmare is a beautiful place and well worth visiting, so let's keep spending our money on original craft this year. 

 Buying Kerry goods = keeping Kerry jobs.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

October is Transition Month...

Crocheted merino hat with hand-dyed felt pieces
Lots of transitions these days.  Transition to self-employed person, which is simultaneously exhilarating and creative and also very worrying on how I will manage a regular income.  Transition to a car owner once again.  Yep, I picked up my darling on Monday and so I am now the proud owner of a 2000 navy blue Ford Escort station wagon.  She has low miles and is ready to go!  I must get her washed again because she is filthy after driving up from Cork, but otherwise seems in great form.  The relief of having a car again!  Plenty to be doing, but must get the final license sorted ASAP as motor insurance is shocking here.

Felted and dyed three scarves yesterday with pics to follow.  Craft fair on tomorrow, so must get labels sewn in and all new pieces tagged.  Trying to keep a high production level, but darn busy life keeps interfering!  I do have samples to make and send to the USA for two shops who have expressed interest, so that will help me sleep at night if I can get that going.

All Kerry Christmas Market on at An Díseart in Dingle December 17 & 18 (Sat & Sun) from 10-5pm.  Standard 6 ft stalls INDOORS €25 per day.  Please give me a ring to register as space is going quickly!  There will be charity Santy, facepainting, excellent food and craft, and more surprises being organized.  Should be great craic! 087-9111793 for more info.

If you are interested in felting workshops, please note the dates below...

Saturday, November 5th
Tuesday, November 8th
Tuesday, November 29th
Hand-dyed merino felt hat with seed bead
Wednesday, December 7th
Friday, November 4th
Wednesday, November 16th
Tuesday, November 22nd
Saturday, December 10th

Ring 087-9111793 or email to register.  Space and materials are limited.  Plan to make something lovely for yourself or a loved one for the holidays this year!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Time to think about your warmies...

It's mid-October and if the weather hasn't turned cooler where you live, then it will likely do so with a bang in the next week.  So!  Time to think about updating your lovely cold weather gear.  I am listing workshops for making hats and scarves on the following dates.  The price is €40 per workshop, materials included.  We will be using high quality Merino wool and some silk and alpaca fibres to create lovely scarves or hats for winter, which we will then custom dye to the colour of your choice.  All workshops 2-5pm on John St in Dingle, Co Kerry. 

Saturday, November 5th
Tuesday, November 8th
Tuesday, November 29th
Wednesday, December 7th

Friday, November 4th
Wednesday, November 16th
Tuesday, November 22nd
Saturday, December 10th

Ring 087-9111793 or email to register.  Space and materials are limited.  Plan to make something lovely for yourself or a loved one for the holidays this year!

I am also busily planning Kerry Christmas Markets in Dingle this year, with Kerry made food and craft.  Santy will be there with mulled wine and lots of fun.  Dingle has a fantastic array of original food and craft, so plan on spending some time with us!  We have a Jingle Bell jaunting tour and penguins for the kids.  The Christmas tree will be lit Sunday, December 4th. Plenty to do and see, so watch this space for more details...

Monday, October 10, 2011

Hikes and Tests and Christmas

Crocheted hat with hand-dyed red flower &
glass seed beads
I am starting to get that frantic feeling, like time is running out and I need to find a way to duplicate myself so that I will have MORE of what I need.  This week seemed to have so much crammed into it: Scouts meeting, craft club, special orders, planning meetings, Scouts hike, Dingle Business Chamber meeting, and insurance company issues.  It's no small wonder that I have had a hard time finding time to sit down and read my road theory test book, but I spent my day off yesterday reading the dang thing.  I think none of you will be surprised to know that it isn't the most interesting reading.  I have the test on TODAY and the good news is that most of the info was repeat on the test I took 28 years ago in the US.  The Irish government seems to think that they hand out driver's licenses on street corners with reckless abandon, but I did take 3 months of theory and driving lessons before I was allowed to sit my exam.  Ugh.  So aggravated to have to do it again, but it should be over with today and then 12 driving lessons and I can take my road test.  All the drama of this I don't need.

I've been finishing hats like mad and put in an order yesterday for supplies so I can start felting like a lunatic. I have so many hats and scarves to make and so many test pieces to get right so I can start making more.  I have a pile of finished product to upload onto Etsy, if I could find 2 hours to do it.  I ran out of labels to sew into my hats and ordered more, so that will be another relief.  I want to close my studio door and stop answering the phone so I can really concentrate.  I must find a kind of Zen calmness of I will not make it through the busy holiday season...

Craft club going well and we finished the books!  Pics to follow as haven't uploaded them yet.  We felted last Saturday and will cut them into strips and the girls want to make bracelets, so stitching and beading this Saturday--all good!

As much as I would like to rest now, I must get ready to head into Tralee to face the music.  Wish me luck on my second driving test!  

Crocheted hat with orange & yellow
flower and seed beads
Merino, Alpaca, and silk pieces resist-felted
and hand-dyed.  Hand dyed star decor &

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Foodie Hangover...

The Handmade Sessions on the Dingle Food Festival taste trail was a great success!  We teamed up with Bluíríní Blasta cafe in Lispole and offered up sublime, jamtastic desserts: they baked meringues with their Blás na hEireann nominated lemon curd, fresh cream, and raspberry coulis; lemon drizzle cake with lemon curd on the side; and strawberry jam sponge with fresh strawberries.  All gone by 445pm!  Craft sales for the day weren't great, but there were a lot of people in and out and appreciating the work, so hopefully a preview of Christmas sales.  It was pouring out of the heavens by 4pm and is quite wet now, but still another day of the Festival to go!  We are heading out on the taste trail ourselves and it should be a relaxing, enjoyable day.  I need me some oysters!

It was a rather frantic week of felting and embellishing.  I felted 7 scarves and resist-dyed them and felted two new hats and resist-dyed to match two of the scarves.  I embellished three hats.  And cleaning and hiding all the clutter so the studio would be ready for the general public.  Really, I need a good closet with shelving inside to just store things in and shut the door so my mess isn't out in the open.  The new hat wall looked well and Colleen Bowler and Ursula Tramski's pottery was fab, and the company great all day.  A huge success!

I held the Craft Club on Friday afternoon to make room for the Taste Trail on Saturday, so it was a mad two hours of sewing and helping the girls learn to use the sewing machines.  They really are learning the sewing machines fast for 10 year olds.  Their books are nearly done and next week we start on two weeks of bracelets.  We will felt a lot of pieces and then decorate our bits the next week with stitch and beads.  And then two weeks of Halloween projects, but I have to have a think about what we will do there...

It's all go these days.  I need to do a big stock up on wool as I have a lot of stock to make for Christmas.  Once I have many kilos of wool under my roof, I will sleep well!! New calendar of events for October up, but must get it online still--tomorrow as my day off and then will plot dates for Christmas gift making...Meanwhile, Ireland killed Italy today in the Rugby World Cup and we are slated to play Wales next weekend in the semi-finals--GO GREEN!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Quickie...

This is just a quick post to show off two new hats I completed this week.  I have a load of purple on the brain as I have a custom order and I am doing 2-3 different styles and the customer will choose their favourite.  So far, they are totally different!

The first one is hand-dyed Merino with dark purple Gotland curls on the brim.  I carefully stitched the brim up and added grape-like clusters of purple glass seed beads.

The second hat I resist-felted and was trying to
develop the pattern into a cute style I saw online.
The side tail was supposed to collapse inward into a swirl on the side of the hat, but the tail is too long, so must adjust the pattern and have another try at it.  I do like the tail, however, and I over dyed the hat which came out quite dark purple with hints of pink where the silk threads peek through.  There are also pieces of silk habotai and Wensleydale curls felted in, but it so dark that its hard to see them by camera.  I think I might do a sprinkling of beads on the tail...

Meanwhile, it's time to get myself ready to head back into the studio.  Lots to do!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Getting the Head Ready

Felted with Merino and silk pieces, hand-dyed, and then
embellished with hand-felted and dyed pieces and glass
When I go full tilt all week, it is completely essential to have the relaxing Sunday at home.  I try to sleep in, but my eyes open at the same time every day.  However, when it's raining and I am snuggled in the flannel sheets, it's enough to know that I don't have to get up and rush around.  Eventually, I gather laundry, strip beds, and head down to put a load on and start the essential coffee.  I potter around for the day, detoxing toilets, cooking, doing computer work,  and trying to gather the approximately 7,000 pieces of Lego that are in every corner of the house.  I can't complain about the Lego because I have wool all over the house!  I never have a dirty house, but it's some job to keep the level of clutter down.  Children don't seem to MIND the clutter all over the place...

Crochet and then machine felted with hand-dyed yarns.
Over sized flower handmade and dyed with stitching
and glass seed beads.
I finished my green and gold hats and got my window done for the Kerry match.  We will not discuss today's Kerry match.  Here's another pink one finished.  I felted a purple hat that I forgot to photograph and I found a whole stash of completed hats when I was cleaning out my old studio.  They need to be embellished, so I imagine I will be beading and sewing a lot next week.  I am in the middle of moving my old studio into my new space and I am trying to organize so that when we are on the taste trail for the Dingle Food Festival that there will be space for everyone.  I found the new fixtures for displaying hats online and so now I just need the money to purchase!  It isn't too expensive.  I was hoping that I might have them for the Food Festival so things are looking good, but money is slow to come in the door--as usual.  Priority number one is getting the outside of the shop painted as it will make a major difference.  That and a big sign proclaiming Ciarraí Creations that can be seen from the bridge.  All in due time...

Doll competed by a 9 year in Dingle Craft
Club.  Her name is Aisling!
We had our second session of the Dingle Craft Club and the books that we are making are coming along great.  After a bit of sketching, I cut Vilene for them and they painted them up.  I meant for them to only paint a background colour as we would be collaging over it, but they put details in.  No matter, they will see what I meant by next week.  Saturday, they added more items in layers and started working on the fabric pages.  We used coloured inks on the pages as it creates a watercolour affect and dries quickly.  Then we will start sewing in earnest next week, adding layers and details.  Also, with guidance I will introduce them to the sewing machine.  And we have to seal the covers with decoupage.  Must get pics next week as we are so busy for that two hours that time just flies!

In the meantime, the bacon and cabbage is ready.  Time to drown our football sorrows in piggy!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Keeping the Faith

New hat: merino, alpaca, & silk fibres & pieces.  Decor
in progress!
I try not to be a worrier, but it is very hard not to at times.  And these are worrying times that we are living in.  Quite a lot is changing quickly and we are coping as best we can with limited resources and changing incomes.  But I also reach a stage where I think "To Hell with it!"  Either the hard work pays off or it won't.  Either you can make a difference or you won't.  I take time out to think and find the solution for myself and just keep plowing on...

So, I am relieved to see modest progress with my new workshop space.  Craft in Kerry is no longer part of the Handmade Sessions as the summer was just too slow and the guild did not have the resources to keep going forever.  I personally paid out quite a lot of money from my own resources and that could not continue.  I took over the place as a studio/teaching space for myself as of September 1st and things seem to be falling into a nice routine.  The kid's Dingle Craft Club started yesterday and I had a good start.  It will pay the rent and keep me going while I work hard at developing new hats and scarves.  I am looking into exporting as sales are just too slow in Ireland.

Closeup of the texture of merino and silk
I will be on the food trail of the Dingle Food & Wine Festival with Blúiríní Blasta cafe (located in the Seal Sanctuary in Lispole).  The girls make WONDERFUL food, but also sell their homemade jams and are developing other products for sale in their cafe.  The are going to be making their homemade jamtastic cakes for the trail and I will be felting.  Should be great fun!  

I have a whole pile of new hats that are ALMOST done.  Mostly the finishing decorations.  So, it will feel good to put four new hats out by end of day on Tuesday and start work on yet more.  Being productive is a big relief for stressful money juggling!

So, these developments are good. Yes, I would love to be making actual money instead of breaking even, but sometimes you just have to keep going and hope for the best...

New fabric collage for my Green & Gold window that
is going up very SOON.  The All Ireland is next Sunday,
so it has to happen soon!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sundays are my best day...

Teal hat: merino, alpaca, and silk.
Thank God, August is over!  I am thoroughly exhausted and run-down, despite eating properly and getting enough sleep.  Working 60-70 hours per week just does not suit me.  Or, rather, I could do it for a week, but heading into the sunset working that much is not good.  And no holiday in sight it seems.

The Heritage Week event with Camphill went very well and we had a modest turnout of 125 people.  Despite our best planning, we ended up competing with the Dublin/Donegal match to see who Kerry would end up playing in the All-Ireland Final--you just can't compete with football around here!  Many thanks to Camphill who demonstrated candle-making, weaving, and spinning and Craft in Kerry demonstrated felt making, wood turning, and pottery.  Kerry County Council Heritage Office was kind enough to give us a bursary for the event, so that helped sort out operating expenses and gave Camphill a bit for their time and effort.

I got quite a few scarves made in August, so I am in a good position to start on hats. It is time to consider hats! I made a lovely teal felted hat and now much start a range of colours going. I am also crocheting hats because they really do sell well and are less expensive for me to produce and for consumers to buy. As per usual, nothing drab.  If we are to endure these cold winters, we need a little colour to pick ourselves up!  

In the meantime, I am planning 8 week courses for autumn.  I will be teaching a basic felting course at Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne and a class in Handmade Home.  This class will focus on personalizing your home with your beautifully made items, concentrating on Christmas decor as the term ends.  The first few weeks will be spent on basic instructions and practice and then students will have time to concentrate on an area that particularly appeals to them.  We will felt, crochet, stitch, and see what comes out on top!  I am looking forward to it.  It will be offered 1030-1230pm and also 7-9pm, both on Thursdays beginning September 29th. Leave a message here and I will get back to you with details.

New nuno felted wrap: silk chiffon and merino/gotland curls.
All hand-dyed.

Yes, it is what you think it is!  People keep asking me
for tea cosies and so I finally made a few. These are
hand-dyed with silk pieces.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Heritage Week is Coming...

 Celebration of Traditional Crafts withCamphill Community and Craft in Kerry
Ceardaíocht Traidisiúnta a cheiliúradh le Pobal
& Ceardaíocht Chnoc an Choma i gCiarraí

Join Camphill Community and Craft in Kerry craft guild for our day of traditional crafts for Heritage Week! Try your hand at weaving, candlemaking, wood turning, felting, and more! Food & drink available & great family day out. Music and facepainting. Cost:€5 (fund raiser for Camphill)

Many thanks to Kerry County Council Heritage Office for their kind support!

Sunday, August 28, 2011
Bín Ban, Dingle, Co Chiarraí

Thursday, August 4, 2011

I Been a Busy Girl...

Seattle Seahawk-inspired felt scarf
It's that time of year when we all disappear and relax into the summer, stealing away for a holiday or two--everyone except me!  This summer has been non-stop.  It's no joke trying to get a new business off the ground in the current economic climate.  I am not giving up yet, but this is the slowest summer since I moved to Dingle. People are now here, but they aren't spending.  So, we have a good week and then a bad one to balance it out.  Is it too much to ask that we have two good weeks back-to-back???

I've virtually moved my studio onto the premises or else I would have nothing made the whole summer.  My new line of scarves are coming along nicely, felted with 19 micron Australian merino and resist-dyed.  I need to get quite a lot felted this week as we have events coming up.  August 19-23rd Craft in Kerry will be teaching, demonstrating, and selling at the Rose of Tralee Festival.  Hopefully the crowds will be there and the atmosphere great!
Fionn at Fota Wildlife Park.  Our campground
was so close that we could hear the lemurs
when we got up!

Then August 28th we have a Heritage Week event at the Camphill Community in Dingle.  They provide support and training for people with special needs.  They have a 44-acre farm and make and sell for the Dingle Farmer's Market.  We will be co-hosting a family traditional crafts afternoon at the farm, with weaving, wood turning, felting, ceramics, crochet, and candle-making.  It will run 1-5pm on the Sunday, with a suggested donation of €5 towards Camphill's fundraising efforts to build a home on the farm.  Kerry County Council Heritage Office has been most gracious in assisting us and we are now just hoping for decent weather for the day.  There will be face-painting, music, and food, all going towards the good work that Camphill is doing.

And after that, I need to start wrapping my brain around Culture Night, which is Friday, September 23rd this year (and International Day of Felt, not long after!).

Meanwhile, we have another Women's Woolly Day Out on Saturday, August 13th from 1-5pm.  Come by and learn to felt a scarf and then resist-dye it--head into autumn with flair!  It should be great fun.  Ring 087-9111793 to pre-book your space as space will be limited.

We did manage to go camping last weekend.  I hadn't been camping in twenty years and let me tell you: it's easier to get up off the ground when you are younger!  Even with an air mattress, that first push up off the ground was brutal!  But it was great fun and many thanks to Scouting Ireland's Fota Campground.  It was just adjacent to Fota Wildlife Park and we were a high-spirited group of 17 camping Scouts.  We learned how to clove hitch, lash, and frappe ropes to make a large tee pee out of rope and logs.  Can't wait to do it again.!

A proud Crafty Bootcamp student--her Australian flag

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Flying through July

New 19 micron Merino and silk fibre scarf.
Resist-dyed after felting.
When I look at the calendar, it's hard to believe that it's the 17th of July already. The Handmade Sessions is taking a good bit of time, but I have succumbed and moved quite a lot of my studio down so I can get some of my own work done and still be opened for office hours and inquiries. I've got quite a few scarves felted and that takes some internal pressure off as I was starting to stress that I wouldn't get any personal work done this summer AT ALL. I felted a handbag on Saturday that I think will turn out well.  I dyed it and left it to dry overnight, so pictures to follow during the week.

We also finished the first week of summer camp and I found it a real pleasure to teach the girls.  Not only were they very enthusiastic, I found it easier to teach them than adults because the minds of children are wide open and creative; they don't second guess themselves or worry about how their designs will appear.  They just get on with it!  And it was lovely to see such confidence.  They produced great work: Felted book covers that they stitched afterwards, dyed cotton fabrics and rovings/yarns, patchwork pillows, and they tried crochet and found it difficult.  I let them off the hook as they did so well in everything else.  They were excited to enter their efforts in the Agricultural Show in Dingle this weekend.  See my Facebook page for the photo album.  Tomorrow starts the next cycle and so we'll have to see if I end up with such a great group again!

It was a busy week last week.  Lots of teaching and administration to cover, not to mention a visit from my boss in Tralee and the new Harry Potter movie finally arriving!  Needless to say, Sunday was spent planted firmly at home coming to grips with the disaster of my home.  With the wind howling and heavy showers, I could hardly wash the windows, but everything else got a good scrubbing!  Dull housework done, I think it's time for a cup of tea!  

I love how the blue and purple came together: cornflower

Hand-dyed yarns & rovings.  Despite the wet week, I
did get quite a bit dyed.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Where did that weekend go??

Well, I seemed to have gotten nothing done this weekend bar laundry and rest.  I know the resting has to be done, but there is quite a lot of grass growing and my house could be a lot cleaner!  Nevermind, I will have a shot at tidying tonight.  For now, I have to get going because our Craft Bootcamp is starting at 10am!  We are learning patchwork, crochet, dyeing, felting, and stitch.  Plenty to do for them!

I did get busy in my studio a bit this week.  It probably worked double-duty as therapy and I got four new scarves out of it.  I felted them with 19 micron merino and a small layer of silk and then did the design work at the prefelt stage.  I finished fulling and then dyed then.  Two I dyed as per normal and two I resist-dyed to see what texture I would get.  Very happy with all of them!

Now, I need to get myself in gear and get us out the door!  Will post more during the week....xx

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Another Busy Week!

This week's Handmade Sessions: 

Free-form crochet
Monday: upcycling with Andrea.  Andrea has been designing clothing for almost ten years now and will show you how to customize your clothing to creative innovative, sparkling design.  Bring a piece of clothing that you want to change and we will have the rest of the materials for you!

Tuesday: dyeing with Sharon.  Learn the basics of dyeing protein-based fibres (wool/silk) and cellulose fibres (cotton/linen/rayon).  We will dye cotton fabric suitable for patchwork and wool fibres suitable for felting and discuss safety precautions for dyeing.  Get the great colours that you see in professional work.

Wednesday: knitting with Vicki.  Vicki is a life-long knitter and part of a consortium that knits for Everyone Loves Lilly, a company based in Kenmare that makes children's knitwear and clothing.  Class is suitable for beginners or improvers.

Thursday: felting with Sharon.  Learn the ancient art of felting.  It's said that originally people put sheep's wool in their shoes to prevent blisters from forming and the felt was created by the sweat and friction!  Either way, we will be making felt with lovely, soft merino wool and making our own cloth.  Very easy to learn and suitable for children, as well.

Friday: free-form crochet with Sharon. Learn the basic crochet stitches and how to link them together to create a unique design for yourself.  

All Sessions 2-530pm and cost €35, materials included.  Booking is essential. Please ring 087-9111793 for additional information.

Crafty Bootcamp: crochet

Craft in Kerry’s Handmade Sessions will be starting their Crafty Bootcamp starting Monday, 4 July. Participants will learn craft technique in the following areas:

Felt—stitch a sampler, make a small handbag or pair of cuffs

Stitch—embroider and embellish a felted & dyed piece; hand sew patchwork wall piece.

Dyeing—dye wool yarns for crochet, fabric for patchwork & merino for felting

Crochet—Learn to crochet a scarf, e.g. basic single and double crochet which can be adapted into larger projects

Patchwork-dye fabric and cut and sew a pattern for a small wall hanging

Drawing—learn to draw and keep a design & idea book

The Bootcamp runs 10-130pm and costs €60 per student.  Price concessions can be made for multiple bookings.  Booking is essential. Ring 087-9111793 for more information.