Bird In Borrowed Feathers Craft Market

Nottingham is a very crafty city and last weekend hosted Bird In Borrowed Feathers,  a craft market that ran from Friday through to Sunday with loads of great stalls and a variety of workshops that visitors could attend. I arranged to meet some friends for lunch beforehand and then go for a wander around the market. By sheer luck, I won £25 on the lottery the night before so that was my spending money for the day!

On arrival at the market I paid the princely sum of £1 which covered entry for the entire weekend – a bargain if you would be going on more than one day for workshops. Rather than giving visitors a ticket or a stamp, entry was marked with a handmade badge that you could choose from the variety of prints available. Such a lovely idea! This was mine, which I pinned to my handbag:

Entry Badge

As a co-organiser of Cake Eaters Anonymous and a devotee of all things delicious and baked, I loved these biscuit brooches:

Biscuit Brooches

This stall was selling tote bags that you could have personalised with anything you wanted from their collection of transfers. This one made me think of Eleanor of Knit Nottingham, who is known for her love of a good beard!

Real Men Have Great Beards - Tote Bag

These geometric necklaces appealed to my geek side:

Geometric Necklaces

This stall had a gorgeous collection of prints, most based on quotes from nursery rhymes:

Nursery Rhyme Prints

These badges and fridge magnets were hilarious! There were too many funny ones to photograph them all, but Steph, Natalie and I spent a good while at their stall rifling through and giggling.

Hilarious Badges

I loved the clever use of yarn in these necklaces and bracelets. I was very tempted by the lovely pendants, such a cute and innovative idea for jewellery!

Yarn Pendants Yarn Loop Jewellery

As a child of the 80s, I am genetically incapable of resisting anything Labyrinth-themed. I almost bought this brooch on the spot for Liana of Swirls Bakery as she is also well known for her Labyrinth love. There were various other quotes about books and from works of fiction in this collection.

Labyrinth Brooch

My crappy phone camera doesn’t do these justice at all. Made with copper foil pressed between glass, they look stunning and had a wonderful weight to them as well. We’re currently in the process of buying a house and if we had the purchase all wrapped up, I would have bought at least one of these for our new home! Until it’s built and we’ve actually completed on it, I’m restraining myself from buying any new homewares. I’ll definitely be back to this seller if I can, though!

Glass & Copper Foil Hanging Ingots

A great collection of funky brooch prints:

Funky Brooches

The lovely Amy of Amy Blackwell Art & Design and Audrey & Illya had a stall, but clearly the heat got to my brain as I completely forget to take a photo of her or her stall. We were clearly chatting too much, sorry Amy!

After two circuits of the market I was really struggling to choose between all the gorgeous things without busting  my budget or making any premature homeware purchases. In the end I decided on this lovely necklace of a little bird in a cage and vintage flowers hair grip from Oh Daisy.

Birdcage Necklace Vintage Flowers Hairgrip

Oh Daisy Tags

It was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon with friends, appreciating beautiful things and supporting local craft businesses. Have you enjoyed any good craft markets recently?

Nottingham Knits For Royalty

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook then you will have seen me post recently about the fact that the shawl in which new-born Prince George of Cambridge was wrapped when he emerged from the hospital to meet the world for the first time was knitted in Nottingham. How exciting!

Prince George in his shawl from Nottingham

Source: The Independent

This may surprise some of you – I find that most people who aren’t from Nottingham will know us best for the legend of Robin Hood, and are not aware of many of the other things this city is famous for. Did you know that Nottingham is also the home of…?

  • John & Jesse Boot, founders of Boots the Chemist
  • Raleigh, bicycle manufacturer
  • Paul Smith, fashion designer
  • Torville & Dean, figure skating champions
  • Notts County FC, the oldest professional footall club in the world
  • …And much more!

Nottingham also has a very rich heritage in the textile industry, particularly in the manufacture of lace. The knitting frame was invented by William Lee of Calverton (Nottinghamshire) in 1589, reportedly when he became frustrated at how long it took his wife to knit him stockings by hand! The design Lee devised was the only one used for stocking knitting machines for centuries afterwards.

The rise of the knitting frame and mass-scale lace production saw Nottingham become a huge employer in the industry, right up until the late 19th century when hand-driven machines were gradually replaced by steam-driven ones and later by electrical machines, reducing the need for so many manual workers. There is an area of Nottingham city centre still called the Lace Market to this day, because it was so dominated by buildings and businesses making lace, producing garments from the new lace, or mending damaged lace for customers.

Nottingham's Lace Market

Source: Adam Clarke || Flickr

Have you ever heard the adage that Nottingham’s women are the most beautiful in the world? Or that women outnumber the men by 2 or 3 to 1? Both of these myths are rooted in the city’s lace industry. Women making or mending lace items would often work sat outside, sometimes just on the street, in order to get enough light to see their work by. This meant that many more women were visible day-to-day in public than in most other cities, and hence the myths began!

When I was in secondary school, a girl in my year once told me that her aunt used to make Nottingham lace. In the early 1980s they worked on a top secret project. The lace workers weren’t told what the lace they were making was for and apparently they had to destroy the copies of the pattern they worked from once the lace was finished. My friend’s aunt was very excited to see the lace she had made appear in one of the most exciting events of 1981 – it was Princess Diana’s wedding dress!

Princess Diana's Wedding Dress

Source: Top5ives

Other royal commissions from Nottingham include Sarah Ferguson’s wedding dress and baby shawls for new born Prince Charles and Prince William (the latter two again provided by GH Hurt and Son Ltd who made Prince George’s shawl)

This strong vein of textile history in Nottingham is still going strong today, with Nottingham Trent University running a huge range of internationally renowned courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, including Textile Design and Innovation, Knitwear Design, Fashion Design, Fashion Management, Fashion Marketing, and more. You can check out their Art & Design department’s course guide here.

Lastly, I was both surprised and pleased to find that just one day after Prince George emerged from hospital wrapped in his Nottingham-knit blanket, a visitor arrived at my blog by searching the Internet for “nottingham knitware royal baby blanket”. Clearly Nottingham remains a leader in the world of textiles, and I hope it will continue to be for many more years to come!

~A very proud Nottingham Knitter

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