Finally *finally* today I finished all of the photo editing for Playful Woolly Toppers (though I do need to take a few more quick shots tomorrow) which left me free to start a few sewing jobs that my TNNA display requires.

Last year one of the biggest expenses (travel, accommodation & booth rental aside) was the hire of a table and other booth fittings. I'm all for hiring as it saves a lot of wastage, although the costs were a little too high for my budget. And seeing as I'm slowly collecting my own suitcase-friendly display materials, we hunted around for a suitable alternative. 



Last summer we found this kiddy - a super lightweight aluminium camping table in Tesco, for £22. It sits at standard table height, with a top measuring 70cm x 70cm (27.5in x 27.5in). It weighs a mere 3.3kg (7.25lb), comes in it's own handy bag and fits very nicely in my suitcase.

Within a few minutes it becomes this...



It's a lot sturdier than you'd think for it's light weight, and it's virtually identical to all the pro tables that market traders and the like use, albeit smaller. Naturally it needed a cover, and this was the perfect job for my favourite circle devoure fabric.



Despite what our grass would have you think, the table skirt does sit nicely on the floor. I never managed to find any more of this fabric so the cover needed a bit of clever thinking to make the fabric go as far as possible. The top of the cover is a classic white cotton table cloth that I picked up in the 2nd hand shop for next to nothing, which was then cut to size and overlocked. The fabric was cut in half lengthways, overlocked, and stitched to the top with vents at the back for ease of fitting.

This sewing job was this afternoon's task and I'm pretty chuffed with it. The cover weighs 380g, so we've a table+cover at 3.7kg for less than £23. Sweet. That's less than a fifth of the hire cost of the table etc last year, and I get to use this over and over again.

There's a few other display bits and pieces that I've been working on, too..



Last year I took a whole bunch of circles for display, including 3 circular acrylic mirrors. This year I decided to opt out of taking the Hats-stretched-on-circles pieces, as I wasn't so happy with how they looked overall, but did want to make a bigger feature of the circular mirrors.



We totally lucked out when looking for raw materials this year. The existing circular mirrors were fixed to a lightweight but very dense, and therefore thin, foam (sandwich) board, which prevents them from distorting. The Hats were stretched over a different board that weighed the same but was twice the thickness, making them much bulkier. One of the local copy shops had one sheet of the compact thin stuff left, which was a tad scuffed as it had been sat at the back of the store for an age, and so we got it at less than half price. (We've been looking for this compact thin board for a couple of years to no avail, and we'd pretty much given up on finding any again) This sheet allowed us to have a further 6 mirrors, giving us 9 in all. My OCD self would have liked 10, but hey.



The acrylic mirrors themselves aren't that cheap (£13 a piece at this size); glass would be a bit cheaper but naturally that's heavier and you'd be a bit daft to want to stuff this much glass into a suitcase that's destined to cross the Atlantic. I ordered the new ones from the same company I'd got them from previously, where they cut to size and do a nice job of it (acrylic mirror is no fun to cut yerself, believe me) and given how they will travel and not shatter, I figured the cost was worth it. 

Choosing the yarns for the cuffs was challenging; the aim was to keep them all tonal, and in a similar weight yarn AND to knit them all from oddments/leftovers. They do look really cool side by side.

Each mirror weighs in at 235g each, giving a grand total of just under 2.2kg (4.85lb). The circles measure 29cm (11.5in) across, with a mirror diameter of 25cm. It's a pretty nice size, and I've a few (wall) display options planned for them.

The wee stand that's holding up the mirror on the table is a great bit of kit!



Previously I've used plate stands of the hinged variety but they look a bit... naff. And neither do they stand up especially well given their relative bulk. I found these kiddies on eBay and bought one pack to try them out, and quickly bought several more!

They fold flat and take up little space, which is guaranteed to please. And when in plate-holding position, they have a perfectly flat base, which is half the length of the gadget, making them as stable as it gets. Certainly a lot more stable than the hinged and frilly variety. Not just useful for standing mirrors, they'll also hold books or stacks of postcards or anything else of a similar nature. They weigh in at 4g each (!) and think they cost about £3.70 for a two-pack. My OCD self is pleased to have 10 in my case.


It's all coming together pretty well, and the savings on the budget make up for the extra spent on the wee Hat stands. Tom should have the second display shelf finished in a few days and then I can try it all out together in the suitcases. I'm pretty excited about this particular exhibit; can't wait to put it all up for real!


ETA/ I guess some folks will find it a little odd that I've gone into some detail about cost and the like, but I reckon it's pretty useful to discuss these sorts of thing, and see how quickly everything adds up. Transparency is a useful tool, and I've a detailed post about the hidden costs of pattern design/development, as well as other areas of this business, planned. I read way too much fiction about how much folk think designers in this industry earn, and a dose of reality wouldn't go amiss.

AuthorWoolly Wormhead