I first met Aquila Cook from Love and Lovelier back in 2013 when she applied for a stall at the very first Little Otter Market in Rhiwbina. Shortly after that, I booked on to one of Quil's workshops and had a go at making my own ceramic Christmas decorations. The workshop was a lot of fun and provided me with a chance to get to know Quil better.
Quil is amazing. Not only has she created a successful business from scratch but she has done this whilst looking after her two daughters Sasha and Erin, who both have Cystic Fibrosis. It is a daily struggle for her juggling their care and her business but she never lets this show on market days and her professionalism is flawless.
Ahead of Mothers' Day on Sunday 31st March, I asked Quil to share with us her journey in to motherhood and to talk about the challenges she has faced....
I became a Mum when I was 27 in 2006 - that took a bit of working out! We were living in Lanzarote at the time and the whole process of pregnancy and birth in a foreign country was not one I'd like to repeat EVER! So Erin who is now 12 was born in Lanzarote and then almost four years later Sasha was born in Wales.
I was about 20 weeks pregnant with Sasha when we found out that Erin has Cystic Fibrosis. In Wales CF is tested for in the 'heel prick' test in newborns. But every country tests for different things depending on what they feel is most prevalent, so it was un-diagnosed for three and a half years in Erin. CF is genetic, so there was a a 1in4 chance that Sasha would also have it. When she was tested after birth we found out she too has CF.
Prior to having Sasha I had a well-paid (but boring and un-inspiring) office job. I never went back after my maternity leave. I started a evening course in Ceramics just to get out of the house for an evening, and after a while I started looking for somewhere to sell my pieces, and Love & Lovelier has taken off from there.
CF is tough because there is a heavy load of daily medication and physio that needs to be adhered to. Erin takes about 40 tablets and 5 nebulised medicines a day, and Sasha has about 25 tablets and 3 nebulised medicines. Also Erin has regular in-stays in hospital for IV antibiotics. Each stay lasts about two weeks and they are every three months at the moment. Try holding down a regular job with all that going on! I've made L&L fit round this crazy life but it's still tough at times. There simply isn't enough of me to go round sometimes.
The best thing about motherhood is seeing your kids blossom into their own characters. Erin's really emotional and gets really excited about things and equally quickly gets anxious and worried. There are no grey areas with her. She is so kind and can't stand any kind of meanness or cruelty at all. Sasha is hilarious and will definitely be treading her own path. She doesn't care what others think of her and takes it all in her stride.
Advice for new Mums: whatever you think it's going to be like, it'll be much better and much worse. Get ready for a roller-coaster ride! You'll get through the bad times and wonder what all the fuss is about in the good times.
To find out how to get in touch with Quil, please visit her directory page where you will find all her contact details and more examples of her work.
It is indicative of the high standard of stalls at Little Otter Markets that many of our makers are also exhibiting their work at the renowned exhibition of contemporary craft Made by Hand held in City Hall, Cardiff this coming weekend - including poet and print maker Francesca Kay.
I love seeing Francesca Kay at our events. She has a fabulous personality and is such a lovely fun person to chat to. Her range consists of poems in seed packets and on postcards, lots of words made into letterpress prints, handmade books and badges - in fact, everything to do with the joy of words and ideas.
I asked Francesca to tell us how she spends her Christmas...
Come and meet Francesca Kay at Penarth's Handmade Market on Sunday 18th November 2018, 11-4pm in the Paget Rooms, Penarth.
This year's Penarth's Handmade Market on Sunday 18th November promises to be a Christmas cracker of an event with ten makers joining us for the very first time at Little Otter Markets.
From jewellery to ceramics, homewares to accessories, these makers will be showcasing some amazing work and if you are struggling to find presents for those hard to buy for relatives, come along in November.
I don't know about you but I love to get out of storage all of my scarves once the cold weather arrives, and there is always room for one more in my collection. So I am very excited to welcome on board Karen Vosmer aka the Artisan Scarf Lady. I asked Karen to tell us a little bit about herself and her work....over to Karen.
"My name is Karen Vosmer, and I am a Textile Artist living in Wales. I dye and felt, quality one-off scarves, accessories and other products using fine merino wool and silks. I love to “play with colour” and describe creating a felt scarf as “painting with wool”. "
"My current work for Christmas - inline with current fashion trends - includes wool felt neck collars in warm purples, mustard, teal and reds. I am also making silk roses and wool felt brooches.
How do you spend Christmas?
Relaxing with family, and playing games with my Son and Mum :)
Any worst Christmas "pressies"?
I won two prizes in last year's Christmas Raffle - A £5 voucher for the local Butcher - I am Vegetarian; and a gift box of beauty products - I only use natural skin Products!
What is your favourite Christmas song?
Band Aid - "Do they know it's Christmas"
Come and meet Karen at Penarth's Handmade Market on Sunday 18th November, 11-4pm in the Paget Rooms, Penarth. For more information on the event, visit our PHM page.
April Liddell. Founder of Little Otter Markets. Lives a crafty life. Loves going for walks with her dog Betsi, listening to music, and eating chelsea buns.