Saturday, 6 December 2008

It's that time of year again...

Yes, it's Shoppingmastime again. This year is even worse as the increasingly desperate retailers practically fall to their knees in front of us and offer us sexual favours if we'll only buy some stuff! Please!!! Our Darling Chancellor thinks that knocking two and a bit percent off everything by cutting VAT will help. I doubt it. The massive discounts at the shops will though, and you'd be a fool to buy anything at full price at the moment - there's bound to be a sale on somewhere of pretty much everything. What the hell are the January sales going to be like - free?

So, I got most of mine done with the magical power of the internet but did briefly venture to the high street for a couple of the big discount days at the department stores. Selfridges, for once, was very disappointing, with their 20% off promotion really not applying to very much at all once actually in store - not food, not drink, and only 10% off in beauty - and that was all the bits we wanted to buy. Oh well.  Liberty was much more satisfying with one of their regular cardholder evenings with free drinks and 20% off, including in yarn, including stuff ordered on the night (I wouldn't know of course, ahem). There was 50% off in the more fashionable departments, not that I ventured in. This was the scene in handbags:

Pauline, you in there?

The nice ladies in the knitting department really do need to be allowed to check the rest of the shop though. I found this knitted cardigan mislabelled as crochet in the Gaultier section:

And vintage DPNs being sold in sets of two, because, yeah, that's useful:

Outside, giant snowmen were bouncing down Carnaby Street:

And there were some fantastic metal sculptures of animals in the windows of an office on Great Marlborough Street:

More esoteric shopping was to be had at two, yes two, craft fairs at the same time on Saturday. No idea why the organisers held them in competition - some of the stallholders expressed displeasure with this scheduling clash as well. Luckily (sort of) they were both very small, though good, so could both be done in one session, but one bigger one would have been far better.

Because it opened earlier, I went to the We Make Christmas (by We Make London) fair first. There was a nice professional, colourful sign:

But this one was more suited to a craft fair in a church hall, really:

Here's the scale of the fair:

I'll go through what I bought at both in a moment, but this one was mainly good for cool greetings cards, and at the back on the stage was an awesome cake stall from Simply sCRUMBlicious. I need to work out the recipe for the banana and chocolate marbled cupcake I had, perfectly moist with milk chocolate chunks, buttercream icing, a dried banana slice and drizzled chocolate on top. Marvellous, especially as I'd had no breakfast. There were a few stalls selling knitted goods, but I didn't partake as I can do my own.

Then it was on to probably the bigger of the two, the Bust Christmas Craftacular. I arrived just before the official start time of midday, to find posters:

And a queue! To get into a craft fair!

Most likely because the first hundred people got goody bags. I was one of them but wasn't all that impressed - really the only things in there were a free copy of each of the sister publications Yarn Forward and Sew Hip, neither of which I would buy. The We Make Christmas goody bag was actually much, much better, with badges, sweeties, postcards, and even earrings (I don't have pierced ears but they'll be good for a present at some point) and a knitted flower brooch. Learn, Bust, learn.

Inside, this one was also tiny, but much more packed and very hot:

Whereas outside, it was so chilly that someone had decided the lampposts needed crocheted cosies:

So what did I buy? Well, it was mainly (a) necklaces and (b) things with birds on, including one necklace by Jess Turnbull that was both, like a Venn diagram but with plastic swallows:

Incidentally, I should take this opportunity to show off the silver, rosewood and mother of pearl necklace I got from Amy Bengtson recently, not at Bust:

I then picked up this necklace from Eclectic Eccentricity. I am kind of tempted to take the rose off, but not yet sure:

And then I saw this one by Me Me Me at Hannah Zakari, and knew I must have it:

It is insanely smooth and tactile and makes me think of the Black Rabbit of Inlé from the animated film of Watership Down. I can't wear it, it looks ridiculous, but I own it as some kind of talisman. I can't explain it. After the show I had to go to her website and buy the other, cuter and more wearable, ceramic sitting bunny, which is on its way to me now.

Bunnies are great, they so are, but a bird will win my heart every time, and, unfortunately for my wallet, they were everywhere. On tote bags:

(Goody bag at WMC decorated with a felt and button birdie from My Aphrodite, pictured with a very cute diary from Fur Will Fly.)

(Printed tote from Mr Wingate and purse from notes.)

And on paper goods:

(Notebook actually from Liberty on the cardholder night, and inspired gift tags with international bird stamps by someone whose name I failed to get at Bust but I think it was one of the cake sellers.)

I am going to get a reputation as the crazy bird girl soon.

And a rather cool thing left until last. I was buying these gorgeous padded leather brooches from a stall called Love from Hetty & Dave:

I was paying by cheque as at most of these things, they don't take cards and I never have quite enough cash. Asking the name to make it payable to, I realised that the owner "Zo Zo" was in my year at school back in Bournemouth! And now she's all famous as Amy Winehouse wears her tattoo-like brooches, and she has given up the rat race to craft full-time. Great to see a local girl made good, and best of luck, but I am soooo jealous. Sigh, but I suppose the rate race lets me buy this stuff. Must keep buying those lottery tickets...

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