Sunday, 24 August 2008

Linen Sale at Cowslip Workshops


I have just returned from Cowslip Workshops, Launceston, Cornwall, where I have been working on Friday and Bank Holiday Saturday. I travelled down with my friend and working partner Linda to set up a sale of our French Linen and vintage textiles.

The weather was good to us for our journey down and the rain stopped and out came the sun. It takes two hours to drive to Launceston from Dorchester and the miles sped by as we chatted excitedly about the forthcoming two days. While I had been at the Festival of Quilts held at the NEC Birmingham Linda had been in France shopping. She had a successful trip and we spent the three days before we set off to Cornwall, washing, ironing and in my case dyeing as well. We had a car fully loaded with mouth-watering textiles and were pretty confident that anyone who came to see us would not be disappointed.

We both love going to Cowslip. It is such an inspirational place, set among the rolling Cornish hills with views of the Castle at nearby Launceston in the distance. The view itself is quite historic. The Castle stands at the top of the hill with the town settled around it and from a distance it is like looking at a still from any historic epic film. It is very easy to understand why Launceston was the historic capital of Cornwall.

We managed to get the car unloaded before the rain started again. Then we started to unpack our stock accompanied with many oohs and aahs as we re-discovered some of the things that have been in boxes packed away for a few months. It is not very often that we get the opportunity to get it all out at the same time. At most of the Fairs we do we take a variety of things so inevitably some things are overlooked a few times before they make an appearance again. The other thing is that we have been to France a lot this summer and have bought an awful lot of stuff so some things had still been in the process of being washed and pressed. When we had finished we were a bit gob-smacked to see just how much stuff we had.

The Kaffe Fasset exhibition was on in the Workshop at the same time as we were there so Jo had put us in her dining room and we had no trouble in filling that!! Working in this room was a priviledge as the walls are lined with textile art made by many famous Textile Artists and Quilters. Jo has created something really special at Cowslip. She brings really famous and talented teachers to Cornwall thereby giving her local customers and others who travel to the shop the opportunity to work with and learn from Internationally acclaimed Artists without the need to travel out of the West Country. I am a Southerner born and bred and I can't imagine living anywhere else in the United Kingdom but it does have some drawbacks. We are a little starved of culture at times and it usually means a few hours driving time to get to see things, and Dorset does seem to be right out on the fringe.

Anyway back to Cowslip and our Sale. As you can see by my photographs we took a huge selection of things. The table was loaded with beautiful monogrammed sheets and our favourite rustic hemp fabrics. These are a lovely creamy colour and have a marvellous texture. They are excellent for cushions and other soft furnishing projects. The sheets make lovely curtains. We also had a great selection of striped mattress tickings. We have been lucky this summer and have found a great range of the caramel colour. These tickings are getting harder to find so we count ourselves fortunate to have found these.

We also have a large selection of linen shifts and the linen and hemp workshirts. I have started to dye some of these and we have found a great range of French dyes. The colours are different from the ones we find here. I prefer the French ones, but then I am biased!! Our customers liked them as well as we sold quite a few of the dyed garments in several of the colours.

We had both taken some of our own personal stock as well as our joint. We both had our buttons and I had brought some of my lace and a selection of English linen and printed fabrics. We had geared ourselves to taking things that would be appreciated by quilters and embroiders as well as people looking for household linen.

Another wonderful thing about Cowslip Workshops is the Restaurant. The food is unbelievably good. The menu is excellent and it is at times very difficult to decide what to have. The Restaurant is open on Friday evenings and we had an excellent meal. We both had crab salad to start. This was very good. I haven't had a crab salad for a long time even though I live by the sea!! I had Salmon for the main course and Linda had Chicken and for dessert ....... !!!!! ....... we both had Lemon Meringue Roulade with a red berry coulis. Enough said. This was all washed down with an excellent red wine and a cup of coffee. You might think that we spoil ourselves but we do work hard and it is quite physical with all the loading and unloading heavy boxes so we do need to keep our strength up.!!!!!

This has turned out to be a very long post so I hope I haven't bored anyone.

We had a really good weekend and so did Cowslip Workshops. I hope that some of the success of their week-end was down to us. I like to think so as Jo and her staff work so hard and nothing is too much trouble for them. There is always a smile and kind word. They all deserve as much success as possible. It is sometimes easy to forget while being carried away with the ambience of the place and the beautiful shop with all its temptations that all this takes place on a working Organic Farm, and this has in itself a whole host of different problems to surmount, and Jo is just as at home behind the wheel of a tractor as she is in her shop or restaurant.
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