Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Marketing for Artists

Today I attended this fabulous workshop organised by Community Arts North West/Toolkit. The trainer David Parrish was equally fabulous. I don't think I've ever attended a workshop or lecture by someone who could hold my attention the entire time but he managed! 
I feel totally inspired, have got a head full of ideas but as I am already thin on the ground I feel I need to start deleting plans from my to-do-list and focus on just a couple of ideas instead. Am exhausted now and going to sit down with David's book (see my list on the left). 

Monday, 30 March 2009

Yarn wrapping Manchester

I just picked out the yarns for the piece  I am going to knit for the banister in the Manchester Craft and Design Centre. I've picked all pinks, I will call my piece Think Pink and hope to raise some more support for Breast Cancer Awareness.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

The Betsy's go to Another Place

It was another beautiful day in the North and after yesterday's long day at the craft fair I decided to : 

The day started with a wonderful performance from girl monkey and her drama school. As it was such a glorious day we decided to go out and get some fresh air. One of the things on my list of 'a million things to do and places to visit' was go and see the Antony Gormley sculptures in Crosby.

Another Place is a group of one hundred life-size cast-iron sculptures that spread out along three kilometers along the beach and one kilometer into the sea. Depending on the tide they are emerging at various depths out of the sea with some of them halfway under sand. It is an absolutely beautiful sight. 

Not only was it an awesome sight and a beautiful day, I also met the nicest couple on the beach. Julie and Liam gave me very useful local information which made me decide to come back again but above all they were just so lovely. It doesn't happen every day that you meet people like them. 

Even though it would take me some time I was hoping to see all of these sculptures one day (and had started to take pictures of the numbers on their 'bracelets') but then I read that due to the quick sand it is actually quite dangerous to see the ones further out. When reviewing the pictures that I had taken at home I realised that there were funny marks on them. I suppose boy monkey's ice cream finger shouldn't have touched the lens!

The monkeys had a ball. We couldn't get them to leave. I think I impressed them with finding three star fish. Apparently that is quite unusual. They looked like a mummy, daddy and baby star fish and we are hoping to dry them, although I don't think it is sunny enough quite yet. Before anyone feels like commenting, they are dead! I wouldn't be so cruel to take them away from their lovely home to cruelly dry at home, just in case you were wondering.....

I feel totally refreshed. The seashore always has that effect on me. Ready to start the week again!

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Happy Funimals and other creations

A few more days to go before the Ivy Cottage Craft Fair and I'm in full production. I am very happy indeed that it is all going well. I finally feel that I am getting somewhere and that my dream and long term goal are really not that impossible any more. 

A snapshot of today's production :

The monkeys wanted to keep two Funimals for themselves. They have been named Ben and Sophie; they look terribly cute in their beds.

Monday, 23 March 2009


There, I've said it, shouted it even. For those who've read about my relationship with purple this must come as a surprise but as with any relationship feelings change, sometimes good, sometimes not so. My feelings for this colour though, have drastically improved in the last six months or so. 

Anyway, I found the most fabulous purple items in the charity shops in the village here. I love this bag, used it yesterday when I took the monkeys to the Bridgwater Hall and carried it with a smile on my face. 

To complete my outfit I added these funky Julien MacDonald Shoes. 

I suppose it is official: Purple I rest my case!

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Manchester Tourism

As Mr Betsy is coming to work in Manchester again, the monkeys and I thought it would be a good idea to familiarise him with some of the cultural hotspots in town. It is great to be a tourist in the place you live sometimes. And for those of you who didn't know, truly :

Our first stop was Afflecks (previously Affleck's Palace). A fabulous place for original gifts and clothing but worth a visit for the elevator alone. The lift makes funny sounds at every floor and the pictures on the walls are great. The monkeys love it. 

Next stop was the Manchester Design and Craft Centre. The Northern Quarter is full of fabulous shops but this centre houses some truly fabulous designers. I fell in love again with a beautiful coat (I am saying again as I'd seen it before at a fair). Today saw the opening of an exhibition organised by UK Craft Mafias. 

There was live music, a funky knitting corner and a craft table for little ones but above all a lovely cup of tea and a mountain of delicious cupcakes served by the nicest ladies. 

ArtYarn organised yarnbombing, a wrapping of the banister on the first floor with some knitted and crocheted pieces. I think I'll have a go as well. 

Last cultural stop was Urbis. Girl monkey doesn't really like lifts (the one if Afflecks was just about OK) but she really does like the glass one in Urbis. On the way there boy monkey spotted the guitar on the Hard Rock Cafe. He's always been drawn to guitars so when we left Urbis to go for some dinner there he couldn't stop smiling. Girl monkey was in for a treat as well. She happened to go to a toilet with text from one of her favourite bands:

Smiles all around. Looking forward to Mother's Day tomorrow!

Friday, 20 March 2009

Spring has sprung

Finally after a long and very cold winter we've had the first days of Spring! I had my washing out and went to the park without my coat. I just love that smell when I take my clothes of the line, keep sniffing them; I would be a perfect candidate for an advert. 

Oh my, just noticed that I haven't posted anything for over a week. Several excuses (of course!) one of them being that I had my lovely friend Katinka to come and stay with me for a few days and of course spending all that time outside this week. 
Another reason is that a lot of my time was taken up making curtains for a customer from this beautiful piece of silk that she brought back from India years ago. It really was a pleasure to make them. Silk does that to me, especially when it is embroidered. 

I did make some bookmarks too ....

and cut the fabric for pincushions and beanbags.

The laminated bookmarks I made from old UK road maps and bits of decoration (glitters, bits of gift wrap and fabric). 

On my way to the fabric store yesterday I found these red, white and blue clothes hangers for the monkeys. I bought them a set each, they'll love that Dutch touch in their wardrobe. It's nearly Queen's Day (30th April) so we'll be having lots more red, white and blue things as well as orange around the house. 

Planning to go to the Manchester Craft Mafia opening at the Craft and Design Centre tomorrow, sounds fabulous. 

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

From curtains to bags

A while back I wrote about my plan of making something with the first fabric that I picked up that day. I realise I had a few targets for this week but I did make some necklaces so when I picked up this fabric I decided to knit a bag with it. Part of the material I had used for a scarf and it looked great, although the fleurs de lys are not visible when knitted, the shredded fabric gives  a nice fluffy effect. I have had this material for quite a few years, it was used for curtains for one of my cousins and there is quite a bit left. I figure I could knit another six bags with it. Better come up with another idea! Don't you all love my dotty pink knitting needles?

Monday, 9 March 2009

Craft supplies

Oh dear, what can I say. Instead of producing some work today I went out to buy more supplies for my never ending list of ideas. However, the craft fairs are looming and I've only got a few weeks to prepare. If I could just focus on this it would be great but there are some other fabulous things going on that need my attention. A few hundred bags to decorate, a pitch for art classes to be prepared, some nighties to be designed and I need to get the Phoenix stall up and running. 

The last few days I've spent recovering from my stage debut at the Manchester Opera House. A rather grand way of describing my experience but it was fabulous though. I had the part of a Chinese peasant in Turandot and an Egyptian slave in Aida. I absolutely loved it! And after coming off the stage I thought the best parts were taking off my wig and seeing my own hair again and walking out of the stage door into the big wide world again. I can see this being addictive! 

Here's what I need to do with the materials above :

1. Beads for necklaces (started one, in PURPLE!)
2. Ribbons for more pillow cases
3. Kensington Lace, silk ribbon and marabou trimmings for a nighties order

Let's see if I can get this done this week......

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

More Dutch imports

Apart from making the house more organised and decluttered, I am also trying to make it more colourful. Hence I dyed my grandmother's white knitted and crocheted blankets in my favourite turquoise and a lovely bright flamenco pink. They look great in my new look bedroom but as soon as the monkeys will have spotted them, they'll undoubtedly disappear to their room. 

Monday, 2 March 2009

Busy Betsy's Getting Organised

Two months into the year and I am getting there with getting the house organised and free of clutter. I pledge this every year and truth be told every year I do make more improvements. 
Remember this shameful picture? 

Well two months on and my sunny reading corner in my bedroom now looks like this : 

I am pleased! I upholstered the chair, made some cushion covers and today I finished sewing on the woven gimp on the back. Why did I ever say I have a problem with purple? I found this woven gimp as I was working on the mobile swap and I had exactly the right amount for the back, not a cm more. Luck again for Busy Betsy.