Ballymaloe, Burren Fabric and Cat Beds (not necessarily in that order)

Ginger cat, Skink, lying in her bed
Skink takes to her bed

It’s a day for the fire

As I type, yesterday’s glorious blue skies seem a distant memory with the rain currently sliding down the windows. I’m hugging the radiator in my little studio.  Walking into the lounge, I was confronted by the sight of all three of Bag Making HQ’s animals, Poppy the dog, Coco and Skink the two cats, all asleep in front of or beside the fire.  I reckon they have life sorted this grey, damp Monday. Skink is the least photographed of our animals, mainly because she is camera shy and heads for the hills if I try to take a quick snap of her. Coco positively loves the camera and poses willingly, but this is a rare shot of Skink in her favoured nissen hut style cat bed. It shelters her on three sides from all possible angles of attack (imaginary mainly) and the longer she stays in the bed, the warmer and more snug she becomes. I can’t help but feel a little jealous of her levels of comfort right now.

A competition! How exciting!

Ballymaloe Craft Fair


As November approaches, so do thoughts of Christmas events. I will be at a few events around the country in the run up to Christmas, so that you can secure your bag of choice for Christmas.  I will post more about these in a blog in a few days time, but for now, I have 10 FREE tickets to give away for the special Friday evening opening of Ballymaloe Craft Fair on Friday 16 November from 6-9pm.  It is a fabulous event.  This will be my third time attending.  There are stalls galore of gorgeous crafts from around Ireland, plus a huge array of food stalls so you can satisfy your crafty and foodie urges all in the one spot. I’m already planning my raids on the Green Saffron Spice Mix and Magic Mayan Chocolate stalls.

Ballymaloe House itself is near Shanagarry and Midleton, east of Cork City, and is the perfect location for a Craft Fair. I will be in the upstairs area of the Grainstore, and will have my full range of bags with me. I will also be launching my newest fabric design, Burren (see below for pictures), at Ballymaloe, so all the more reason to call in to say hello.

To win free tickets for the Friday evening event, all you need to do is go to the home page of my website here, scroll to the bottom of the page and subscribe to my blog and updates, and you’ll be automatically entered in the prize draw! As the tickets are limited, they will be allocated on first come first served basis, so don’t delay, sign up today! (I think I missed my vocation as a barrow boy).  As an extra encouragement, all new subscribers to my website get a 10% discount off their first web order too, so it’s win win even if you don’t get the tickets or can’t make it to County Cork that weekend.

Did someone say new fabric?

For the last three years I have been slowly learning the ropes of fabric design. This year I had flowers in mind that I wanted to concentrate on for my 2018 fabric, and so I stalked the fields and ditches all Spring and Summer to find the finest examples of marsh cinquefoil and St John’s wort. Early on I was thwarted by cold weather delaying flowering, then the drought and hot weather meant flowering was fast and furious, with some flowers shrivelling within a day due to the rare, dry conditions. But I managed to get the photos to my graphic designer, and we then worked for months on colours and patterns.  The result is Burren fabric in red and blue colour ways:

A Fiona Small Messenger Bag in my new Blue Burren fabric featuring purple and lilac flowers on a blue background
Fiona Small Messenger Bag in Blue Burren fabric
A Fiona Small Messenger Bag in my new Red Burren fabric featuring yellow and red flowers on a blue background
Fiona Bag in Red Burren fabric

For those that don’t know, the Burren is an area of County Clare, not far from where I live, with amazing geological formations caused by glaciers scraping the topsoil off limestone hills, leaving an almost lunar landscape that despite its seemingly barren rocky appearance, boasts some of the most abundant and beautiful wildflowers in the whole country. Those of you who follow my social media posts on Instagram and Twitter will know that I often post pictures of wildflowers that I see on my morning walks, and this new fabric is a true celebration of two small but spectacularly beautiful wildflowers that flourish in the Burren and West Clare.

Burren fabric made its quiet début at Chapel Lane Market last Saturday, as a preview only. Over the coming weeks I’ll be cutting and sewing like a demon with a view to having plenty of bags in stock by the time I get to Ballymaloe Craft Fair, where Burren fabric will be launched to the wider world. At the same time it will become available for sale on my website too.

A promotional hat

You’ll also be amused to know that I tried printing the Burren design on some fleece fabric. This was not a great success, but over the coming weeks, if you see me at craft fairs you will see me wearing the one and only Red Burren fleece beanie hat. A never to be repeated experiment, but an experiment that gives me the benefit of warm ears!