Tag Archives: Etsy


The Empty Nest , Sketch by Kim Tillyer

Let me begin by apologising to all you lovely, loyal blog subscribers who got a wordless, randomly titled version last time ( I panicked and pressed the wrong button which is why I’m not in charge of anything important) . Anyway some recent events made me think wordless was the way forward …but maybe more of that later.

I uploaded the images for this post last Thursday just after I had been to vote in the most scenic polling station in the country; the sun was shining and it felt exciting and optimistic. The fact that it’s rained ever since says it all really but I’m not going to rant on about politics because last week some lovely things happened too and they are things which make the world seem a kinder, more generous and caring place than the cold hearted, money orientated one we seem to be living in day to day.

Polling Staation at Newlands Church

The first thing was a surprise parcel from my virtual friends in the Big Forest, Benjamin and Michael. I’ve never met them in the real world but I’ve loved their bears for a few years now and Benjamin has been so helpful with advice on Etsy selling, as well as being a great promoter of other people’s work on his Facebook page. I had to drive in to Keswick to collect the mystery box which turned out to contain this little chap ( as well as a card and “woodsman ” brooch which I have been wearing on my jumper) …

The Big Forest Bear

So after work and voting we skipped off up the hill to look at the view and chat to the sheep about EU farming policies and the joys of mountain landscapes. I’m not sure but I think the sheep was hoping for a different election result too.

Herdwick sheep on High Snab Bank

So the other good thing that happened was that the divine trinity of Facebook-Etsy-Twitter actually worked for me for the first time ever and a polar bear I’d been struggling to finish ( his feet just wouldn’t behave) and eventually managed to list in my shop, sold before I could even close the page! I wish everything would work so smoothly as it would make the whole process of making so much more satisfying and meaningful…I mean, I love making things but when you have a cupboard full of unsold sheep and bears shouting to get out it can make you think it might be better and more useful to do the hoovering instead.

Needlefelt Polar Bear

Well its nearly time to go, I am preparing things for Art in The Shed again… Jane Thorniley-Walker’s  annual fundraiser for Street Child Africa. It will be the first time back in North Yorkshire since the eviction and while I’m looking forward to the exhibition and seeing friends and family again I’m worried that it will be upsetting.

Polar Bear Print

I recently found out that my totally unfair eviction and my writing a blog post about it, had directly lead to a close family member being refused a tenancy by another landowner in the North York Moors … because they didn’t want “that type of person” living there. Excuse me? What type of person? A family who lived, worked and loved their home and did nothing wrong?

At first I felt devastated by the news, delivered rather tactlessly, and questioned whether I should ever write from the heart again. I felt guilty and dismayed by the way my plight and my words about it had been misrepresented. After much soul searching my fury at fat cat landlords and bigotted cronyism amongst some very unpleasant people, won over and I will not be silenced like a guilty secret.

I told this crowd and they totally agreed…never be afraid to speak out against meanness and unfairness wherever you find it.

The "Alpacaly ever after" alpacas

(These alpacas are part of Alpacaly ever after’s “woolly army” and they are celebrating because they got their Kickstarter project funded, hurray! I was feeding them last week while their proper parents were away at a fair (selling stuff not going on the waltzers) and I want to thank them all for not savaging me and for helping me feel a bit more Cumbrian)

Finally (because I haven’t even got space to describe PrintFest, meeting more artists at the Northern Lights Gallery, battling with stoats or admiring bluebells)  if you’re in London, my dad’s exhibition continues until the end of the month at the Bernard Jacobson Gallery on Duke Street ( near Fortnums) Here is a Lake District watercolour from a few years back…

William Tillyer

Reading:- The Fortress by Hugh Walpole ( god its a long book!) Listening To:- London Grammar “Wasting My Young Years”


Whatever Happened To The Masterplan?

Hard to believe that last Sunday it was snowing. Today I have been looking at the little signs of spring in the garden, planting some shallots and spinach and my gift to myself , three white Dicentra spectabilis plants …the Bleeding Heart plant.I do love this time of year; the first signs of old favorite perennials emerging through the soil, the hamster soft catkins on the willows, the sweet musky scent of the balsams which I breath in from their sticky buds so that the smells stays on my nose. I do not like the fact that there was a wasp in my room this morning, filling me with an irrational fear that goes beyond being stung.

Today I also went to an interview for a waitressing job…..this wasn’t part of the masterplan.

I pondered the protocol; do I write about this at the risk of sounding like a bleeding heart, or do I maintain the myth in order to remain “professional”? Well, I started this blog at college and it while it has evolved over the years I do feel the need to record my experiences honestly, just in case anyone else on a similar path might find it useful. One thing I realised ,just now in fact (!), was that in reality I had no plan post graduation. I’d written essays about becoming a designer/maker or working freelance but never really considered what I would make,how I would sell it and how much of it I’d have to sell to avoid getting the electric cut off and living on lentils. In fact, I think , in hindsight, the weakest part of the whole college experience was the professional practice side which should perhaps have forced us to be a bit harder on ourselves and more realistic.If there are any students still reading this…make a plan, and then a back-up plan!

Hey, its not all doom and gloom. I had a wonderfully enjoyable day at Baron Bizarre’s Vintage Fair where the sun shone and the beautiful people ( quite literally; I don’t think I’ve ever been at an event with quite so many pretty boys and leggy girls!) all came out to marvel at the burlesque dancers while a peacock strutted about on the lawns and I caught up with some old friends ( and hopefully made some new ones). It was especially lovely to have a table next to my very special friend Susie of Drawn by Badgers who had made all the bunting for the event and creates the most gorgeous needle felted animals and precious framed works of art. Susie is an amazing person and I think you should all go and say hello …

So, today I listed a lot of things in my Etsy shop and dashed to the post office with orders to post. These new brooches made with my bird design printed on to cotton have made me keen to do some more digital printing and definitely some new drawing.Tomorrow I have my mentoring meeting with Vicky which I’m really looking forward to and as usual I’m bursting with ideas and dreams…its just figuring out a way to make them real.

Listening to:- Boy & Bear “Lordy May” ( because the battery went on the radio last night at just the wrong moment ) Reading :- The new issue of Selvedge and What Katy Did Next who kindly included my lavender heart in her latest mood board. Thanks Katy x


Well its been a funny old day on the mountain today,starting with a grumpy message from an Etsy group who are kicking people out for not being “active” enough.Excuse me? Isn’t it the creating that’s the point? Aren’t people’s real lives more important than forums and chatrooms? Networking and promoting are very important but its no good if you end up with nothing to promote because the studio has been forsaken for the “office”.

Ok, I’m feeling argumentative but I’ll snap out of it; because I know you only really want to know if you’ve won a polar bear bag! Well, I’m writing this at 11.30 pm so I won’t be picking a winner until I get to the end of the page but I would like to thank you all for entering and I wish I could send one to everybody who left a comment; it really does mean a lot you know.

Today I’ve celebrated the first of February ( Imbolc) by eating alot of chocolate cake with red sugar sprinkle icing and running ( yes running)  to the postbox with booking forms and birthday cards. It is said that if the weather is fine and sunny on Imbolc ,the Cailleach can gather her firewood and therefore intends to make winter last longer! Its been a clear and frosty day here so I’m glad the logman came last week. I also listed some of my little khadi paper prints on Etsy today and searched the hedgerows for bird’s nests . I have become sightly obsessed with the imagery of abandoned nests in winter trees…

Now I’d like to congratulate OLIVE whose name I have just picked from a pink cereal bowl. Your polar bear will be on his way to you just as soon as you message me with your address. If you missed out you may like to know that they will be in the shop later in the week.

Thank you again. I’m off to bed now, I have an appointment with Haruki Murakami and an electric blanket!


Tumbleweed and Too Much Coffee

A blustery Autumnal day on Witchmountain and I find myself in my usual position, mug in hand, stove ablaze, deep in thought. Today I have good intentions to turn over a new leaf regarding butter, caffeine, exercise and positive thinking. Ok, so the mug is full of coffee and I only walked a hundred yards down the road before I realised I’d forgotten the egg money and had to turn back, but I will go later ( honestly) and on the positive side no butter has been consumed!

The garden still has some delicate late colour to cheer me up as I wonder how the “lawn” became a jungle and why the strawberries have decided to flower again just as the first real frosts meant I needed to de-ice the car on Saturday morning…
Saturday morning was the day of Designer’s Marketplace in Newcastle, and also a day of glorious sunshine , the most perfect an October day can get. We managed to get to the Holy Biscuit in plenty of time to set up and the drive only slightly terrified me ( multi- lane roundabouts are a shock after the moors where you only have to avoid aggressive 4×4 drivers,over excited sheep and panic stricken pheasants) .

Now I’m torn between bigging the whole thing up or telling it as it is because I think its more useful and honest? I mean, I think it is easy to be mislead by what you see on the internet, we are all  trying to sell ourselves as best we can and while I do write this blog in order to promote what I do and hopefully get work from it, I also write because I want to be open about the pitfalls, struggles, highs and lows of trying to make a living out of creativity. So, the truth is … it was deadly quiet and if I’d been a politician I’d have lost my deposit, even my “Bargain Box” in aid of Shelterbox  wasn’t going to save the day.Was it the weather, the entrance fee, the location? At least everyone was quiet , not just me, but that makes it even harder to judge myself objectively.On the plus side it was fantastic to meet the other stall holders, talk shop and eat cake. I was particularly impressed with Vicky Trainor’s work; she was one of my tutors at college and her vintage inspired cards and beautiful wedding favours must take her hours to put together, prompting me to question yet again how handmade work is valued and priced…

Have a look at this stunning set of wedding photos from Vicky’s blog. They look like stills from a film and I think I may have to make more of an effort with my personal grooming!!

Here are some of my newest offerings; a small wooden box with canvass lid and some new wallet designs derived from it. I’ll be listing them on Etsy and Folksy later and I’m thinking of making up some as sewing kits too. What do you think?

Now, I really must put this computer down as its burning my knees,I’ve already dropped butternut squash pate on it and I must try to run about a bit before darkness falls.



Peacocks, Penguins and Paracetamol

I’m feeling extremely fragile today after being flattened for three days by an evil migraine…I blame it on Sunday’s enforced dehydration; perhaps I can get a discount on my rent?! Anyway, these things are so horrific you just wish to be knocked out or put out of your misery and the hangover from taking a shed load of different painkillers is almost as bad as the thing itself. Annoyingly I’d just got into doing some designs on Photoshop for a lampshade manufacturer in Vietnam; the first proper designing I’d done for ages, cut short by the unbearable brightness of being in front of a computer screen!

I was so glad to eventually send off my Hand & Lock entry on Tuesday. Really I was less than happy with it and doubt I will get through to the second stage, but it was a good lesson in not biting off more than you can chew and also reminding me how much I like the research/concept side of designing. Its not always possible to reach a satisfying final outcome but its fun dreaming up possibilities.

©KimTillyer 2011

So, with all my sewing stuff temporarily tidied away, I’ve been making a few more necklaces, as gifts and commissions- and now I really should stop typing and make a few more for my sadly neglected Etsy shop. This morning I treated myself to a lazy, convalescent, tea-and-magazine-in-bed session with the lovely “Oh Comely” magazine which featured a few of my Etsy favorites, Jimbobart, as well as a recipe for rose turkish delight and some lovely writing/photography. You can read their blog here.

Have a lovely weekend whatever you’re doing. x

“Time is what we want most, but… what we use worst.”

Today I’ve been trying to manage my time. I’m setting alarm clocks so I get two hours for each task…garden, housework,making, writing, Hand &Lock attempt… I’m already behind schedule, unwashed ( didn’t factor in that bit!) and surrounded by small bits of chaos. It was a great weekend.It certainly makes you feel a bit more inspired when you sell a few things and the art fair at Rural Arts was a great success for me.One of the nicest things though was meeting old friends and making some new ones; talking about our experiences and sharing our common fears about our creative lives. Jane Carlisle makes silk applique landscapes, Jorja Wilkinson designs interior fabrics and Jo works at the Joe Cornish Gallery which is currently running a photography competition if you are interested…

I’d had some more cards printed with three new designs and these along with the bird peg boards will be in my Etsy shop as soon as I get around to refurbishing it, it’s closed at the moment while I do a virtual dust of the shelves and brushing up of  the cobwebs.

So, here on Witchmountain it has become almost earily silent now that the wind and rain has stopped. A whole month of miserable weather has left the garden battered and bruised. It has been so bad that mice have invaded the house which they usually only do in autumn, moles have made a city under the asparagus patch and I’m wondering how to bribe my kids to help me do a big tidy up because its so hard to concentrate on anything else when you’re surrounded by jobs that need doing and being harrassed by small mammals.

At some point I will have to decide whether to invest more time in my Hand &Lock entry…I’ve got some great fabric samples from a company that specialises in outdoor/high performance fabrics and lotsof ideas but not much time until first stage entries need to be in (June 30th). As well as this I’m thinking of doing the Sketchbook Project again. This year it comes to London as well as visiting Vancouver which is quite appropriate! My sketchbook has now been digitised which is so exciting. At last I can see it again, and in order, like a real book. I’d love to know what you think and if any of you are thinking of taking part this year?

Hmmmm, time for my next task…making a moose necklace commission!

Reading “The Help” Kathryn Stockett    Listening to: A play on Radio 4 about catching moles!!

Blue and White

Lovely March…a roller coaster month raising spirits one moment and then dashing them from a great height the next. Yesterday the sun was shining and the first Curlew flew over the garden as I was defending my vegetable patch from next door’s chickens ( when I saw it I actually shouted “Hurray!”). It was a beautiful day – until I got a phonecall from the oil supplier telling me my payments would have to go up by 70% ! And this morning it was snowing, good grief.

So, I have issues with March, getting over excited about spring too soon often leads to disappointment . Still, this morning I got a little parcel in the post containing this lovely old enamel measuring jug which I bought from The HopeTree in the Etsy BNR event the other week, it’s perfect for snowdrops to snap me out of my grumpy mood.

I’m still busy with the shrink plastic , I bought some frosted stuff which takes the colour very well but which I seem to keep cooking at the wrong temperature so that it gets too brittle and won’t go flat. I’m hoping that a shop owned by another graduate from the Textiles and Surface Design Degree course will take some of my stock ;so I’ve been making bird necklaces all day, as well as a particularly mad looking hare…( did I mention the hare treasury I made on Etsy?)

Now, I think it’s probably time for a warm bath and some hot milk because I’ve been drinking coffee and eating chili chocolate ALL day so I won’t sleep till morning at this rate! I wish I could feel like this in the mornings…