Monday, 21 October 2013

Fordwich, Britain's smallest town

We walked from Fordwich village along the side of the river Stour (isn't it lovely?) to the "highly attractive" Reed Pond (according to the directions) ...which currently is infested with toxic algae and not that attractive after all. Lots of invisible birds in the treetops but only one item of wildlife to be seen...

The walk passes through Ministry of Defence land which explains this sign - haven't seen one of these before! I didn't stop for long, honest officer.

The picture below shows the contrast between the public land - the side I'm standing on - and the other bank of the river which is somebody's garden. Gorgeous!

We then strolled around the village - which apparently is a town.

 A VERY small town, two pubs and a decommissioned church and fabulous architecture.

We had a drink in the George and Dragon, our table started life as a huge bellows, presumably from a blacksmith. Isn't it great?

The town sign shows the legendary Fordwich trout which was known to Izaak Walton who wrote the Compleat Angler in 1653, I'm guessing the fish is long gone :-)

One of many fabulous historic buildings - this was the home of artist Alfred Palmer from 191 till his death in 1951.

I really like the brickwork at the roofline on this next building, which according to its blue plaque was the home of  John and Gregory Blaxland who lived here between 1769 and 1806 in between exploring Australia. According to wiki "The government promised them land, convict servants and free passages, in accord with its policy of encouraging 'settlers of responsibility and capital" (not like the other settlers who had made the mistake of stealing a loaf of bread then.)

This next building, unbelievably, is the Town Hall. It's closed for the winter but has a ducking stool and is registered as a wedding venue (at which presumably the ducking stool is not used).

Th other pub - the Fordwich Arms - look at the chimneys! The window brickwork is great too.

I loved this little cottage next to the church, not sure how I would feel about graves next to my window but then I took a closer look...

I don't think I've seen tombstones with skulls before, aren't they wonderful?

One last architectural gem, look at the way these windows are leaded. Beautiful.

Monday, 14 October 2013

100% handmade, by me

I'm republishing a post I wrote a year or more ago, as it seems extra relevant now in the light of Etsy's recent "Town Hall" announcement that some Etsy sellers may now allow others to make their wares.
Needless to say, I have always, and will always, be knitting everything I sell.

Some people even grow their own sheep, shear, spin, design and knit, pack and ship completely alone.

And then there are those who say even factory-made items are handmade - because there are hands there somewhere, pressing levers or taking part in a production line.

I'm at neither extreme but I'd like to show you a little of what handmade means to me.

I certainly don't grow my own wool, in fact I mostly use acrylic as it is hard-wearing and comes in the bright colours I prefer:

This photo was taken a year ago, the stash is even bigger now. The bag at top right holds bits of fleece I use for hair and other embellishments, the big wooden box holds all my fancy yarns. 

My patterns are my own, and are rarely written out in much detail which means each meerkat may differ slightly. I think this adds to the nature of "handmade", and have argued fiercely on the forums with those who hold the opinion that this is proof that handmade is "not perfect".

 You can see some of my essentials here - modeling wire, jeweller's pliers and cutters and of course a comfy chair! Did you guess what I was knitting?

What else do I do? I print my signature labels on the computer, though I have to confess MrNifty's computer skills were used to design the original sheet  - but using my photo and text. I sew a label on to each meerkat (except the very tiny ones), usually on their little bottom.

I also designed and print Certificates of Authenticity to go with each meerkat, using my product photos which...who'd have thought?...are taken by me with the aid of lovely photoshop elements which I can't recommend highly enough.

Finally each kat is wrapped in tissue paper and popped in a padded envelope for his or her journey to a new home. Sometimes MrNifty does the post office run for me.

So - is my work handmade? YES! 

Have you been affected by the recent changes?