Category Archives: market

oops. been a while.

It’s challenging fitting everything in sometimes. A lot of times, actually. But then you all know all about that, too!  On days when I’ve really overextended myself, supper is yogurt and a banana and then I’m in bed quite early. It’s all I’m good for. Plus I think I deserve it. And on days when I’ve haven’t extended myself much at all, I tell myself I was busier in my head than usual so I still think I deserve my bed and book when I please.

Tomorrow the Festive Ideas market opens at the Simondium Country Lodge, for five days. Everyone set up today – usually a bit stressful at the best of times, but the weather wasn’t playing fair and the temperature shot up to over 40 degrees.  Simondium is an hour’s drive for me, and by the time I got home at about 5.30, I was crazed with heat-brain and heat-body. I don’t know how else to put it. I was the most finished I’ve ever been. It took an very stationary hour under a wet towel to recover.

Here is part of my stand (the focus is on pillow cases, you’ll gather, rather than hats, beanies and bags)

sim 2

and here, if you look carefully, you can see one of the many peacocks that has given its name to the Peacock Palace – the ‘hall’ where I am set up, along with 8 other traders.  If the windows aren’t closed at night, apparently they come in and crap mess all over everything.

sim 1

There are 130 traders in total, and the venue is just perfect for such a huge variety of products and styles. It was still pretty overwhelming today, though, and I was mighty glad to get home to my wet towel and some peace and quiet.

Ah well, tomorrow is another day, and the weatherman says it’ll be about 10 degrees cooler than it was today. Fingers crossed.


Just got home from my first Swartland Skou in Moorreesburg (about 1.5 hrs from Cape Town, in wheat country). Four days of speaking Afrikaans, enduring the wind from the west coast, and sleeping in a bed that isn’t mine – new customers and the sales and orders make up for it, but boy it’s good to be home.

My mom and I drove through on Wednesday afternoon so we could take our time setting up. This is the little Victorian house we stayed in, along with Suzette and Antoinette, and later joined by Rob and Pierre, Suzette’s husband. (Superior strength and cooking skills —- men are so wonderful to have around at these events…!)


There was more farm equipment and vehicles on show than I knew existed. You wouldn’t want to mess with anyone driving one of these babies.


The first two days of the show, compared to recent years according to those traders who’ve gone there since it began, were comparatively quiet. Most of us only just managed to cover our costs by the end of the second day, which was a very bleak feeling. On the third day, however, everything suddenly came to life and it ended up being one of my most successful trading days ever. There are many many little kiddies in and around Moorreesburg with a Jam Tarts beanie on their heads right now!

Me with Suzette and Antoinette.

j s a

I have four days before leaving for another market in Darling, this time the Wild Flower Show.

wild flowers

It’s going to be a busy busy week :-)

Grahamstown – 5 days in

The last few days have just whizzed crazily by. It’s Monday evening now and the Festival opened on Thursday last week. Still six days of trading to go – and I’ve sold out of slouchy beanies for men! The kiddies’ beanies are also doing really well, and every night (before I collapse into bed with a hot water bottle), I crochet a batch of eyes to owl up some of the plain beanies!

rob and jill

Rob has been a star, as ever.

sean and jill

This is Sean, Rob’s cousin. We are staying with him and his partner Melinda in their cosy, underfloor-heated home just 5 minutes from the Village Green. Most other traders have to stay in B&Bs or rented houses, and some poor buggers even camp….if I had to try that, through one of these freezing cold nights in the Eastern Cape, I wouldn’t make morning.

Being at an 11-day festival is a lot of things – exhilarating, exhausting, entertaining, frustrating, enriching and – hopefully – very profitable. More on all of that later because right now I’m off to claim the glass of wine that Melinda has poured to go with the baked cob in garlic and pesto that Sean has cooked. Yes, I do know we’re being spoiled.

Back soon x

dare I use the f word?

I was a trader at a big event in Cape Town in February. In advance of the event, I read through the list of stallholders. Two other people would be selling hats, one as a reseller of mass-produced straw hats and fedoras, and one as a crafter selling her own makes.

During setting-up time, I introduced myself to the crafter and said I’d looked for her website or facebook page to view her stuff, but couldn’t find anything. She said she doesn’t advertise at all because she’s already so swamped with orders that she wouldn’t be able to cope if more people saw her products. Knowing the kinds of difficulties that a small hand-made production business faces, as I do, I was amazed and impressed by this. I couldn’t wait to see her hats, and thought perhaps I could even learn something from her.

The event opened, and I beetled off to ‘network’ as soon as I could. As I approached the row of stalls on the other side of the park, I saw a display of animal novelty hats and hoodies that I recognised from a school event last year, which stood out for their uniformity and unmistakable mass-produced nature and low prices. They are also readily available at various pavement stalls around Cape Town and in the Chinese shops.  So, no problem – you can buy and sell what you like. Good for you (and you’ll see below, I do it myself sometimes). — but it turns out that this was my fellow crafter! I greeted her and said something along the lines of wow, you’ve got quite a range here – are these the ones you make yourself? And she said Yes. And looked away.

I’m so mad that someone does this. Claiming cheap imports as your own work is – what? fraud? or just a big fat stupid insulting lie? And I don’t understand why someone would do this. There’s nothing illegal in being a reseller of hats, after all.  For a big event, working on my own, I’m not able to produce enough stock by my own hand.  I buy in about 30% of my stock, and either modify it by adding handmade flowers or a band or a crochet trim, or resell it as it is. If I haven’t made an entire item myself, I don’t put my label on it and pretend to have made it. I don’t not put a label on an item and pretend it’s my own work.  I point out which my own handmade items are, and which are not – and, frankly, the difference is very evident !!

I wrote this post a good few weeks ago, and was going through draft posts when I came across it and got all riled up again and decided to publish it. I’m trying to work out why I actually care about this – presumably Imported-Animal-Hat Woman wants people to think she is a creative genius, and what do I care if she is or isn’t?  People are still buying my hats and asking for special orders. There’s enough work to go around. Am I so morally above reproach that someone else’s lie rocks and jolts the foundations of my innately faultless nature? Um….no, hardly!!  hahaha    Is it because she’s just stupid and thinks everyone else is as well? Aha, could be that.

Okay, rant over. F is for fraud, by the way, not the four-letter word beginning with F and ending with K. But that too.

the things people say

One of the best overheards in a long time came from Saturday’s Harfield Carnival:

Girl to boy:  Try the hat on.

Boy: No, man, I don’t want to look like a twat.

Girl: The hat won’t make a difference with that, Dylan.


And then a classic put-down from a lady who was deciding between one of two summery sunhats:

To me: Which do you think is better, the grey one or the pink one?

Me: I like the pink one on you, plus it goes with your dress.

She turns to Rob, who is sitting next to me: And which one do you – oh wait, no point asking you, you’re wearing tie-dye.

(He’s still recovering from that one ! hahaha)