talk about the weather

While sales have been holding up, the weather certainly hasn’t. Being part of an outdoor market means you are completely at the mercy of the weather, which affects everything from your display (no more wine glasses with silk in them to show off earrings, everything Blu-Tak’d/ pinned down to within an inch of its life, comparing notes on the marvel that is the safety pin and its hundred and one uses) to your apparel. Folks, you thought you knew what layering was- you are wrong. The Cow’s Lane folk could teach Arctic explorers a thing or two.

So, when inclement weather bites, you have one of three choices:

(a) hunker down beneath the table with a bottle of Calvados (or in my case, Mi Wadi – sweeeeeeet) and pray to a merciful God that your combination of Blu Tak and fervent wishing prevents your lovingly crafted goods from taking to the air

(b) chalk it up, affect a philosophical world-weary shrug that would make Sartre applaud and move on

(c) concentrate on the brave souls who’ve made it out, commiserate with your fellow traders and get knitting

You can probably tell that I largely favour option C (no blackcurrant until sundown- I have my standards), although it’s bloody hard to have a sense of humour when your catlike reflexes are tested to the max by frequent gusts of wind ;). Forget Pilates- try outdoor markets! The great company helps- as I’ve often said, there’s nothing like Biblical weather conditions to build some cameraderie and get to know people.

This weekend, we experienced those peculiar out-of-nowhere gusts of wind that send everything flying (including, for some unfortunate souls, parts of their displays) and biting cold. The worry of protecting your stock, combined with fewer people walking through, can really get you down.

But then, after chat and gáir and what have you (and the aforementioned knitting), I remembered all the amazing folks who have admired my work, who have bought it and returned for more. I remembered their stories and observations, what they said they liked about my pieces. With this kind of feedback, it’s hard not to feel grateful and blessed.

So, if you’ve ever walked through Cow’s Lane and you’ve seen a wild-eyed, wilder-haired brunette hunched over knitting and you’ve said something nice or you’ve bought her work, (a) yes, that was me and (b) thank you very, very much. I am grateful to everyone who has supported WaterMemory, whether through word of mouth, feedback or buying my work.

P.S And what d’you know, look what I found when I went over Etsy way! A post entitled “An attitude of gratitude”. Ah, serendipity…


the difference you make- thoughts on handmade and the R word

All these posts and yet nothing on the word that begins with “r” and rhymes with “hessian”..

It certainly has been on my mind, though. Like many people, I find it hard to escape the talk and the consequences that have been brought to bear on all of us.

It was encapsulated for me in trips back home in the past few months. The reality is evident in Tipperary- businesses I’ve known most of my life have closed or have shed jobs, and many people have become unemployed, some for the first time in their lives.

Even so, there are a few positive signs around. Tipperarians, aside from their essential generosity, are also capable of ingenuity in hard times. We’ve had enough of them in which to practice, I suppose. Like other parts of rural Ireland, Tipperary didn’t benefit as much as it could have from the boom.

Recently, I’ve made leaflets that (as well as explaining who the heck I am and what I do) thank people for their decision to support the handmade, independent, one-off designers in this country and elsewhere. It means far more to us than the money (although it sure helps)- it’s an added vote of confidence in what we do and what we offer.

reclaiming what you love to do

I recently came across an interesting post about reclaiming your hobbies, which itself comes from a great blog called On Simplicity.

Some time ago, crafting became much more than a hobby for me, but there’s plenty in this article that still applies. Yes, I’m a professional and of course I act like it, but there needs to be a sense of fun in what you do, as well as a commitment to doing things properly. I like the idea of experimenting with the intention of screwing up- once things calm down, I’m definitely setting aside some time to do this (that’s right, you heard me, I’m scheduling fun time! When will the madness end?):

Here’s the bonus benefit of this one: we actually learn more when we fail and then figure out what went wrong.  You might actually find yourself doing more amazing things than you thought if you allow yourself to fail and goof around with no consequence.

When what you love to do becomes more than a hobby, it can be easy to lose sight of why you do it at times (when you’re up to your tonsils in deadlines and orders, when you haven’t eaten a meal that didn’t involve crackers and gentle weeping, when you fall asleep with seed beads stuck to your face.. not that any of that is me for the majority of December or was me in the run-up to the re-opening of Cow’s Lane, of course).

Another gem on the same blog is this one, on managing the inevitable clutter that comes with hobbies. For all my oft-stated fascination with organising pouches, folders, desks etc (much of it meta-stuff, if I’m honest), it’s not much use without a way of using them so you don’t end up crushed under the weight of rogue packets of Delicas*.. (not the worst way to go, but still, no thanks.)

DesignerMart is back, back, back!

And what a beautiful day we had for it*! A major contrast to the beginning of DesignerMart last year, where we had sudden gusts of wind, lashing rain and cold to deal with, as well as trying to get our displays. Nothing like a cold stream of rain down your back to build the in-the-trenches-together vibe, is there?

The vibe in the market was absolutely brilliant- it being the weekend before Paddy’s Day, there are plenty of visitors in town, and they took a lot of interest in our work.

After I was finished grappling with a new display (and unfortunately, sudden gusts of wind) I got a bit of a look around. Many of the designers from last year are in situ this year again, but there are also a few new designers whose work is well worth a look. You can expect lots of incoherent, drooling posts here as I get to see even more of the stuff on offer. There is a full list of the designers and their websites here.

*The Irish are nigh-on obsessed with the weather- news at 11 ;).

moving house

Myself and the Beloved may well be moving house in the next while. My house moves previously have been a haphazard combination of sneaking bulging bags onto buses under the (weary) eye of the bus driver, obsessive checking and re-checking that I have, in fact, packed everything and, on one memorable occasion, being so organised in my packing that for a week afterward, I couldn’t find anything without (a) a lot of rummaging and (b) a lot of cussin’. Highly inventive it may have been, but not the best way to introduce oneself to new housemates nonetheless.

Now, after quite a while of being settled, a move is on the cards and this time, I have materials and supplies to think about. Uh-oh. Why do I have the feeling that I will be so obsessively paranoid about any of my lovely lampwork being damaged that I will be fighting my way through layers of bubblewrap for months afterward?

Another concern is trying to use up as much of my supplies and materials as I possibly can before the moving date approaches. This may involve another of my patent-pending-but-almost-always-doomed buy-nowt months. The idea is simple- nothing beyond the absolutely essential supplies for custom orders may be bought in the timeframe. After the first few days of unfortunate side effects, including but not limited to:

  • sighing heavily while pawing the computer screen
  • twitching when walking past Crown Jewels, my favourite bead shop in Dublin
  • endless justifications of why I should really stock up on x
  • sneaking looks at the tempting emails my various suppliers send out
  • loss of appetite (hah!)

I’m usually fine. It’s also a great opportunity to take a leaf out of the Real Simple book and shop one’s own closet, as it were..