Sunday, 10 November 2013

Too busy to blog, and gremlins to boot

Less of the art gallery please...

The Country Living Fair and the weeks before it passed in a blur of activity. My annual sojourn to the Isles of Scilly last month was filled with walks, birds and the making of cot quilts. (Yes, I took my sewing machine on the boat across from Cornwall and lugged it up the hill from the quay to our holiday flat, there being no bus and few taxis, to the amazement of the woman in the shop where I managed to buy sewing threads from a dusty box under the counter.) And so the weeks passed without a blog, although my fingers burnt and my brain  almost burst with all the things I wanted to share: the glorious colours of Scilly; the fun I had with baby quilts that can be knocked up in a matter of hours with small pieces of left-over but much loved fabrics; the excitement and jitters of preparing for a Christmas fair attended, so the official bumf told me, by 27,000 visitors. Then the highs and lows of the fair itself. And the realisation that my blog had become the victim of hackers, rendering it impossible to access.
...and more of the jumble sale

So, where to start? Why not with pictures of my stand - before (top) and after?  As a newbie at the Country Living Fair, the regulars took me under their wing and kindly pointed out that this was not an art gallery but a market stall. Out went the shelves of carefully folded and rolled quilts at the back of the stand, to become rumpled and crumpled piles of colour at the front, practically tripping over potential buyers who thus were tacitly given permission to rummage. How different from the implicit command in a gallery "Do not touch"; and how difficult I found it not to wince when fingers reached up to rub the surface.
It soon became apparent too that the nice, safe pastels I had assumed that Country Living readers might like were less of an attraction than the brightly coloured, in-your-face quilts. When I saw that the first cot and child quilts to go were those in jazzy turquoise, purple and yellow, rather than the more traditional pale blue and pink, I realised that people really are looking for something different. When I hung a scarlet and emerald green floral quilt on the back wall of the stand in place of a grey and pink one the "oohs" and "aahs" doubled. Memo to self: stick with what you love and don't try to second-guess the market.
The highs? Delicious gluten-free apple muffins for breakfast from a food stall before the show opened to the public, the enthusiasm of visitors who stopped to chat even if they could not buy, and the mutual excitement when one of these visitors said she owned a quilt that had been in the family for years and had been sent from Canada during the war.
The lows? Aching feet, a stand selling cheap imported quilts from China by a company cynically calling itself Forever England, and a woman who walked past, glanced at my quilts and said to her companion: "I like those. My sister bought one from TK Max." Although, upon reflection, the latter was probably one of the highs.