Category Archives: Reviews

Pipers Farm – a Review

I haven’t done a review on here in a long time, but thought I may as well do one for Pipers Farm – sorry, no photos of the finished meals, they didn’t last long enough…

I’ve looked for an online butcher for a long time. As a former chef, if I’m going to pay top whack for a chicken or pork joint, I want free-range meat and want to know where it’s been raised. I get my pork & lamb from a small holding not too far from me, and I have blogged about them before, but I hadn’t found any online butcher for poultry that I wanted to try until I found Pipers Farm in November.

They get their meat from a group of farms in the south-west that raise all their animals free-range without any added feed. This time, as my son wanted duck for Christmas dinner, I was originally looking at just getting a duck, but then added a whole chicken too. Then I saw the packs of chicken hearts and chicken livers and had to get some – I love both but have never seen packs of chicken hearts for sale in the UK before.

I decided to get some duck legs as well – we love crispy duck and I can get the pancakes from an asian food store so… I got 10. I started to look at the rest of Piper’s Meat’s website and saw venison too. I ordered some venison shank and some hearts but they were out of venison heart. I convinced my hubby and son to try beef heart a while ago, and they really liked it, so figured they’d try venison too. I was about to check out when I saw that they had beef bones – I make stock all the time but haven’t seen beef bones for sale to the public so got several kilos.

The order came on the day it was supposed to, in 2 boxes with ice packs and wool insulation. I unpacked it and everything looked really good. It’s all packed individually so I kept out 2 duck legs; it turned out that the cold packing is so good that they were mostly already frozen so we had them the following night for dinner. I packed everything in the freezer except some of the bones to make stock and those 2 duck legs.

I roasted them after rubbing them in 5 spice powder and they were delicious, a good size too. They had lots of flavour and not a huge amount of fat – some duck seems to be all fatty skin and not a lot of meat. I kept the fat for roasting potatoes.

The beef bones actually had a good amount of beef on them still, one looked like a mini beef shortrib! I made a ‘white’ beef stock (I didn’t roast the bones first) with about half of the bones and it made about 5L of stock after simmering with lots of veg – onion, carrot, leek, garlic, celery and bay leaf, peppercorns, parsley, thyme. The longer you simmer stock for the better and this simmered for almost 24 hours. I had taken the meat off the bones at around 5 hours and had our cat begging me for it while I was still stripping the bones – he had some while it was still quite hot. I use this meat for the cat as a treat but also for risottos (chicken) and soups, depending on the meat. I froze most of the stock but we had asian noodle soup first… a good stock makes a good soup.

We had the duck roasted for Christmas as my son wanted; I stuffed it with an apricot & prune bread stuffing which helped stretch the meat a little. Alongside were roasted potatoes, brussels sprouts and carrots, roasted parsnips, gravy made from the juices in the pan. The duck came out with crisp skin (I only pricked it with a fork and sprinkled salt on it) and with most of the fat rendered off. There was a great depth of flavour in the meat and gravy and a 2.5KG duck made 6 meat portions + the bones for stock for another meal or 2. You don’t need huge portions of meat when it’s this good – savour it and enjoy, don’t gobble it down, no matter how tempted you are!

Last night I roasted the whole chicken and it was packed with flavour and not bland at all – and you get the neck, heart, giblets and liver with both the while duck and chicken. I roast them well seasoned with salt & pepper wrapped in foil and eat them before the rest of the meal is done, they were gorgeous. (Hubby and son don’t like liver or the neck so I get them). Yes, I could roast them for the gravy but I’d rather eat them. There’s a higher meat:bone ratio on a chicken than a duck and I use the bones for stock – I’ll probably get 9-10 meals out of this chicken once I’ve made the stock.

I will definitely be ordering again from Piper’s Meats – we have loved each piece of meat we’ve tried. I also like that you can keep the packaging – the boxes, wool insulation & icepacks and then send them back once you have had 5 orders. We accidentally reused our boxes and I plan on using the wool insulation so won’t be sending the packaging from this order back, but probably will for other orders.

This isn’t supermarket meat – think of buying this meat as an alternative to eating out in a restaurant. You’d pay more for bog-standard pizza for 3 at a chain restaurant than the chicken and all the sides cost. All told, the roast chicken dinner was just over £20 and while this is a pricy meal for 3 eating at home, once it’s stretched over 2 meals and balanced out by the much cheaper meals I make regularly – pasta bolognese, pesto pasta, noodle soups, jacket potatoes etc. it’s actually not that expensive. I know not everyone can afford this, or think they can, but if you do a little thinking about what you eat and go for better quality meat less often it’s doable.

Pipers Farm currently have a 15% off sale on until Jan 11, so if you are thinking of ordering, go for it!

Mustard & Black Knitting Bag Review – Gemma

I know several other Etsy shop owners who also knit, and asked Gemma from Snug Creations to test the Mustard & Black knitting bag and review it for me. I’m glad she used it for a couple of weeks before writing the review, it definitely got a good workout! You can get your own here in my Etsy shop.

Mustard & Black Knitting Bag

Here’s Gemma’s review:

As a bona-fide knitting addict, who designs knitwear for babies and children at Snug Creations Children’s Boutique, as well as knitting for myself in my spare time, I know the value of good, well-made project bags, I’ve got through several! With all the time and effort that goes into projects, not to mention the cost of good yarn, you need a bag that is sturdy enough to hold up to to being filled and emptied over and over, that will protect your knitting, will be strong enough that your needle tips won’t poke through and, if you are anything like me, will stand up to being taken out and about – where I go, my knitting goes!

When I received this bag to review, I was excited about putting it through its paces. Read on to find out what I think of it…

Double grosgrain ribbon drawstring
Sturdy, lightweight design
Durable, washable cotton fabric
Fully lined
Contrasting trim detail which complements the drawstring
Wide base
Good capacity for small to medium sized projects

The first thing that I noticed was the simple, but elegant packaging. No unnecessary packaging materials and nothing wasteful. I love that ribbon was used to finish the package – I like to keep them and reuse for gift-giving.


I must say that when I first saw the project bag I was very impressed with its appearance. Denise chose a lovely mustard fabric with a contrasting bold black and white print trim and colour-coordinated black and white grosgrain ribbon drawstrings. The bag is fully lined with ecru fabric, reinforcing its strength and stability. The beautiful colour jumped out at me immediately after opening the package. I love mustard and the contrasting fabric looks great with it. MUCH more stylish than many of my existing knitting bags.

Next, I noticed the IMMACULATE stitching, it made me want to dust off my machine and get up to scratch with my sewing skills – very neat and professionally finished! The overall workmanship really impressed me: with the quality of the fabrics, even seams and stitching gives the bag sturdy construction – not a loose thread in sight.

Stitch detail

The bag closes securely and efficiently with a double drawstring. Grosgrain ribbon is a great choice because it’s not a silky, slippery ribbon, so when you pull the drawstrings to close the bag, it stays closed better. The drawstring is long enough, when drawn, to hold as you would a handbag, or looped over your arm.

At the moment, I only have a few projects on the go (unusual for me): a dress; a shawl and a pair of fairisle gloves, all varying in size. I also have a little kit packed full of my knitting essentials such as my snips, stitch markers, mini notebook, row counter and tape measure, so any project bag I use needs to have room for my kit too.

I’ve had the bag for a few weeks now and have been putting it through its paces. It has traveled with me most places I have gone with a project packed away in it and I have to say, I am impressed with how it has performed. When I go out, I always take my dog with me and a little bag that holds all of the things I need for him (he’s in training – so I need lots of treats on me at all times!). I found carrying both bags easy and comfortable, even with the dog pulling me this way and that. It has stood up well to the beach, a day in the New Forest and a long weekend in Devon totally unscathed.

Bag in use in the garden

Multi-purpose Design
Not only is this a great little project bag, it works great as a knitting bowl too. I even braved knitting from it on the beach – I just rolled the top down and voila – portable knitting bowl!

In use as a knitting bowl
In use as a knitting bowl close up

What I loved
There’s a lot to love about this design. My favourite elements are:
The clever design of the wide base, which increases the capacity of the bag and makes the design stable so that it stand upright on a surface. None of my other bags are designed this way, so I really liked this.
The modern colour (one of my favourites at the moment).
The ability to use it both as a project bag AND portable yarn bowl.

Bottom detail
Drawstring detail

Truthfully, there is nothing about the bag that I do not like. If I had to get really picky, I would prefer an internal pocket to put my little kit in, just incase things spill out, and if I was getting REALLY picky, I’d like that pocket to be zipped.

Overall thoughts
Overall, I think that this is a great looking, versatile project bag that has been made with great skill and craftsmanship. For a small bag it has a great capacity (all of my projects apart from the dress fitted inside perfectly) and I love the choice of non-slip grosgrain paired with the double drawstring design.

This project bag is a fantastic choice for any knitter, crocheter or sewist. It’s perfect for taking along to your local knit-night or out and about on your travels with plenty of room for most small to medium sized projects.

Project bag with medium sized project in

If you are looking for gifts for crafty friends, you can’t go wrong with one of Denise’s project bag creations!

Thank you very much for the glowing, review, Gemma! If my face wasn’t already sunburned, it would be blushing.

You can also find Gemma and her amazing products on
Instagram: @snug.creations
Twitter: @snugcreations

Etsy Shop Review – Fairy Fountain Gifts

I’ve seen Jennifer Dodd AKA “Fairy Fountain Gifts” posting on UK Etsy Facebook groups for a little while, but somehow we ended up getting to know each other a little better than others on FB Etsy pages. I can’t *quite* remember how…. Her shops are Fairy Fountain Gifts and Fairy Fountain Kids She makes cute and affordable costume jewellery for adults and children over 3.

She often helps out other etsy shop owners with advice and suggestions on how to improve their shops, and I have in the past as well…. (see my posts on Product Photography)

She ordered some camera buddies and scarf camera straps from me and left some lovely reviews on Etsy, and I finally got the chance to order from her recently.

My son is finishing up in Year 2 (Grade 2) and is leaving his school to go to a new school for Year 3 instead of moving over to the Junior School at his current one. We had talked about getting a little gift for his friends at the end of the year and when I saw Jenn’s Mermaid/Dragon Keyrings on Facebook, I knew that was what we wanted. I showed them to son, who loved them too.

Mermaid Besties
Mermaid Besties
Dragon Kings
Dragon Kings

So, I contacted Jenn and let her know I’d be placing an order for them in a few weeks…. and we sorted out who would be getting one – just a few friends or the whole year? When son got to 23 out of 29 names….. we went with ‘everyone’ 🙂 We decided that boys would get the dragons and girls the mermaids with initials as well. Son got to pick which colour scale each child would get.

I didn’t place the order through Etsy, but with Jennifer directly and paid through paypal, so I can’t leave her a review…. she’ll have to be happy with this blog post!

I ended up making a spreadsheet for Jennifer on google docs and then sharing it with her, as with a dozen colours of scales to choose from, and 30 kids with different initials… it was complicated! She didn’t get a single colour/initial wrong out of 30, and even put son’s in a different and ‘fancy’ organza bag for him, which he loved.

Some Scale Colour Choices
Some Scale Colour Choices

I gave a deadline for a week before we absolutely had to have them, and Jenn had them made and sent to me by the day I gave her. Each was attached to a small backing card with either ‘Dragon King’ or “Mermaid Bestie’ on it and in a little organza bag. I popped them in a small brown kraft paper envelope and wrote out the child’s name and a short message from son on them.

The first girl who got one said “I don’t think we are supposed to open them now, but wait ’til after school.” Everyone immediately started to rip open the envelopes! I was immediately inundated with requests to put them on school bags, and then the children realised that the scale colours were different and much comparing and querying of “What colour is this? What colour did you get? OOOH, I got xx colour!” started up… Several children didn’t want them on their school bags “They are too special, I don’t want to lose it”. Over the next few days most of the parents let me know that their kids loved their special keychains and planned on keeping them ‘forever’. One mum told me her daughter was ‘over the moon’ and another that her son wasn’t going to use it as it was too special’!

She kept me up to date about waiting for some initials to arrive and let us update the scale colour choices when she got some new colours in as well. I don’t know what the favourite colour ended up being – we picked Green, Blue, Red-Rainbow, Opal, Gold, Hot Pink and Red/Gold so there was lots of variation!

I would recommend Fairy Fountain Gifts whole-heartedly for the great selection of items – many of them themed – along with the excellent workmanship and superb customer service Jennifer gives.

Different Designs
Different Designs

The Saga of the Agate Blue Pendant – part 2

So where were we? Yes, I’d returned the chipped pendant and was looking for another. I ended up with 3 jewellery sellers…. 2 on FB and one on Etsy. And I bought from all 3. Each pendant was different.

The first to arrive was from Aiden Crafts who is also on Etsy and Folksy…. Diane sent me a lovely teardrop shaped pendant with clear patterns. She wire-wrapped the top to add in a loop and bail and sent it with a silver-coloured chain.

Adien Craft's Pendant
Adien Craft’s Pendant

The 2nd one ordered didn’t arrive. Boo. When Hayley from The Wirework Boutique got it, it wasn’t the same colours as in the photo she picked it from and it also had a chip out of the side, so she sent it back and refunded me. This was totally not Hayley’s fault, she was even more upset than I was that the pendant was damaged and refunded me immediately on hearing from her supplier that they couldn’t replace it.

The 3rd one, off Etsy, came from another Etsy seller, Sadir Jewelry. It looked good in the photos…. but she put the wire bail and ring on with glue, lots of it, and bent a fitting to fit the top of the teardrop so it was all bent and twisted up. You can see the glue all over the fitting on the agate pendant, but not in her photos. I am sending it to Diane at Adien Crafts to see if she can sort it out. I wasn’t up to dealing with another Etsy return so soon after the 1st one!

Glue on the front
Glue on the front
Glue overload on the back
Glue overload on the back
side shot
side shot

So…. 4 pendants bought. 1 perfect, 2 chipped/damaged/not as described, and 1 not made into a pendant well….. never mind the number of shops I found that aren’t compliant with EU Consumer Rights Regulations!

The Saga of the Blue Agate Pendant (A Review)

As some of you know, I’ve had a very busy year, and I rarely treat myself but thought I’d buy an agate pendant and I really liked the blue ones I saw. I had a shop on Facebook looking, but she hadn’t found one she liked through her suppliers, so I looked on Etsy.

I narrowed my search to UK sellers with blue agate pendants. I found one I liked and the photos looked fairly true to colour too. The shop (ClaireElizabeths, I’m not going to put a link on here) didn’t follow the EU Consumer Rights Regulations for returns and refunds, but I wasn’t expecting to have to use them. How wrong I was….

I bought it — this one here. I also had another person make me a 26″ cord with lobster clasp to go with it, as I wanted a long cord not a chain. (I got that quickly and it’s perfect).

front of pendant
front of pendant

I received it quickly. Thought “Hmmm….” about the outside packaging, which was narrower than the box inside and only a flimsy thin cardboard box. Opened it up, pulled out a jewellery box in an organza bag, with a £1 coin as I said I didn’t want the chain, just the pendant. There was also a business card and a ‘Thank you’ postcard with a handwritten note from the seller.

pendant, packaging and included items
pendant, packaging and included items

I took the pendant out of the box, where it had been rattling around in as there wasn’t any extra padding in there except for the earring pad that must have come in the box. I flipped it over, to see this:

Chipped back of pendant
Chipped back of pendant
size of chip
size of chip

I looked in the box to see if it had been damaged in transit. Nothing. Then I looked at the listing to see if I missed anything out. Nope, no mention of any chip — and no photo of the back of the pendant either. There was the statement: “This is a natural stone that has been polished, please look carefully on the photographs for imperfections such as nicks, chips or scratches.” If there are “nicks, chips or scratches” on an item, any item it is up to the seller to point them out, not for the buyer to scrutinise the piece to find them. The seller must accurately describe what they are selling when selling online, not play ‘hide & seek the damage’ with the potential buyer.

So I emailed and said how disappointed I was that the piece was chipped as it wasn’t mentioned in the listing and that I would like to return it for a full refund including return postage as it ‘wasn’t as described’. 6 hours later, no response.

I posted in a FB group I am in about my disappointment and no one was very impressed that the chip hadn’t been mentioned – it is 5mm x 5mm so not a tiny one. I received a full refund about an hour after that, no message from the seller, and no return postage. She had also cancelled the transaction, so I knew I had a limited time to leave a review.

This is the review I left, with 2 stars: “Item was well packaged and sent quickly, however the pendant had a large chip out of the back that the seller did not state in the listing or show in the photos. So disappointed as I wouldn’t have purchased had it been accurately described. Seller refunded quickly, however, I received no communication from her at all.”

Accurate to that point in time, factual and to the point. The seller did not respond until the following day with 2 messages: “Please do as you wish, I don’t wish to argue with people over a couple of pence.” then almost immediately a message demanding I return the pendant along with everything else “including the £1 and Thank You card” and that if I “remain unhappy you can open a complaint with Etsy”. She also replied to my review, so even if I wanted to (had her response been more professional), I can’t change it. Her reply: “Item was either damaged in postage or on receipt. A full refund was issued immediately and a message sent with refund saying ‘Please except a full refund with best wishes’.”

The agate pendant wasn’t damaged in transit or on receipt, and there was no message with the refund (grammar not withstanding…)

I told her she had to pay return postage for me to send it back under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 as any return had to be: “free of charge, at no inconvenience to the consumer, and in a timely manner” for faulty items. I also stated that I would not be raising a complaint with Etsy but would hold onto the pendant as long as Trading Standards instructed me to as they were the body enforcing Consumer Rights Regulations.

back in box
back in box

She eventually sent me £3.30 by paypal, however I had 31p taken off the amount for fees. I should then have kept back 31p out of the £1 but didn’t check before I sent it back in the same packaging she sent it to me, taped up with new labels by 1st Class post.

Her responses were rude and unprofessional. No buyer should ever have to quote any legislation regarding returns for any item. It is part of running a business, knowing the relevant consumer rights laws and following them. I am quite sure that she has not changed her policies to reflect them from her attitude to this return. I will not be buying from this shop, ClaireElizabeths, either on Etsy or her shop on Folksy again and I can’t recommend her customer service to anyone, even if the item arrives in perfect condition, as my agate pendant did not.

The Saga of the Agate Pendant, Part 2, the next blog post!

Review – Chris Green Cars

As some of you know, I recently had to buy a new car as my old one blew a piston and valve in the beginning of December, while on the motorway (highway). (Sorry, this is a bit of a saga!)

I ended up getting exactly the same make and model and even colour to replace it, a Nissan Almera Tino. I bought it from Chris Green Cars, about 15 miles from me in Mepal, Cambridgeshire. The car seemed in decent condition when I drove it but there were a few warning signs that perhaps I should have heeded. He didn’t actually show me the car, someone else did, a young man in his early 20’s.

He mentioned the wrong price for the car, and thought that I would take the car that day, when in the UK you have to purchase Road Tax before you can drive a car off the lot, as it no longer carries over from one owner to the next. If you don’t have Road Tax, the car can be impounded and you’ll have to pay hundreds to get it back.

The car only had an MOT until February, and he offered the car with the cost of the MOT taken off (about £50) instead of having a new one done on purchase as the advert stated. I declined and a few hours later, he had done an MOT on the car. I picked it up the following morning, after buying the Road Tax online.

6 hours later, when we went to go grocery shopping, the engine fault light came on. I called Chris Green and he acted as if he couldn’t hear my say ‘the engine fault light has come on’ – “I have a bad signal and can’t hear you, cough, cough.” I took the car back to him the next morning and the code for the “catalytic converter working below threshold” came up on the diagnostic. He told me it was because I had bought petrol from the BP instead of the Esso. Hmm…

About a week later the engine fault light came on again and I took it to my garage, same code came up. A few hours later, you guessed it, back on. Called Chris again and he told me he couldn’t do anything about it until the New Year as he was closed. He wanted me to wait until Jan.9 to bring it in. Why Jan. 9 you ask? Because that’s the day the 30 day return clause was supposed to run out. I told him that was too long to wait, so he said Jan. 4th. I drove the car for almost 2 weeks with the engine fault light on over Christmas and New Years.

I took it back to him on the 4th; that night he called me to tell me he had cleaned the Lambda sensor and thought that would sort it. Cleaning a gas sensor is like dropping a camera lens and giving it a wipe figuring it will work when the inside is now misaligned. I said it would go off again, as he hadn’t actually fixed anything and that I would be back in the morning to pick up my car. I told him I would be there at 9AM, but he wasn’t, it took 5 calls to his mobile and 25 minutes to get him to answer and he had no apology at all, just gave me my car key and walked off. I had to take 2 buses from his business to get home (over 2 hours) and then take them back again the next day with my son in tow).

The engine fault light came on 5 days later, on Saturday. I called the Citizens’ Advice Helpline on Monday (they aren’t open on weekends) and in the conversation with them, found out that I could still hand him the car back that day, as there is a 7 day ‘accept or refuse repair’ regulation in the Consumer Rights Act 2015 for faulty items. I wanted him to replace the catalytic converter, as I need a car, so I called him and left a message on his mobile & home numbers. My husband called him 2 hours later and he picked up. 2 hours after that, I called again and he finally answered. He knew he was going to have to sort out the car, but was probably hoping I’d give up. I was apparently being unreasonable in expecting a quick call-back, and in expecting him to repair the car quickly.

According to the Consumer Rights Act, the repair should be done: “At no cost to the consumer (me), at no inconvenience to me, and in reasonable time.”(A reasonable time isn’t 37 days). He should have also repaid me for the bus fares I spent on Monday and Tuesday the previous week. I didn’t ask him to, as I felt he would just argue again with me and the effort wasn’t going to be worth it for £9. He finally agreed to order the part and pick up the car when he had it.

It took 4 more days before the part even shipped, and another 2 days to arrive. During this time, he never answered the phone if he could see it was our home or mobile numbers. We had to block caller ID for him to pick up, and we had to chase him for everything, the tracking number for the part, when he was going to come and get the car. He wasn’t proactive at all in sorting the car at all. He picked up the car on Jan. 18 and brought it back 4 hours later, saying he’d replaced the catalytic converter. (He came to our house in a little silver BMW soft-top sports car, with a 12” or so rip in the rear window, which is plastic. With condensation on the inside of the plastic. Hmmm…)

I took it to my garage the next day and they had a look; they said they thought it was a reconditioned catalytic converter that had been spray painted to look newer. Not necessarily a dodgy thing to do, but I should have been told it was a 2nd hand part, and he should never have taken 37 days to fix the car – he knew 6 hours after I took it off his lot that there was a fault on it, and knew the next morning that it was likely he’d have to replace the catalytic converter. He also admitted to using the car for a few weeks for personal use – on dealer’s plates – to drive his family in it and had put a few hundred miles on it. Chris Green did send in the paperwork to the DLVA (DMV) right away; I got the log book in about 4 weeks.

All in all, not the best experience to say the least. Would I buy from him again? No, I wouldn’t. Could I recommend a friend look at another of his cars for sale? No, I couldn’t, which is a shame as I do prefer to support local businesses. The car drives well and is in good condition considering its age, but that is down to the previous owner looking after it and servicing it properly.

It would have been lovely to have no worries over driving this car over Christmas and New Years’ – we didn’t go to some of the places we planned on as we weren’t sure if the car would keep running or if the catalytic converter would pack it in. I am hoping that this fault has now been fixed and I can now feel like the car is mine.

Review – Romney Marsh Wools Hand & Body Lotion

We went to the Ickworth House Wool Fair which ran on May 30 & 31st this year. We picked the Saturday to go and we were glad we went early as it got really busy later in the day.

I was slightly surprised there wasn’t as many stalls selling yarns/wool/roving as I expected, but there were a lot of stalls with finished items made from yarn and roving. Hubby and son came along and weren’t interested in looking at all the stalls, so they left to have a look at the house.

One stall, Romney Marsh Wools, had undyed yarns, finished items and also sold their own brand of hand lotion and other toiletries. I tried the hand lotion, and it really sank into my skin quickly, so I bought my own bottle.

My hand lotion
My hand lotion ©Looking Glass Designs

I used it quite a lot on my hands, but there is still lots left as you don’t need very much at all. Even using it right before knitting, there is no greasy feeling and I don’t have to wipe my hands before picking up my project.

The lotion itself isn’t very runny, and doesn’t have much scent, which I really like. I’m not a fan of heavily scented toiletries. I have the 250ml, 5 fl. oz. bottle and I figure it will last me until the end of the year. The lotion is made with lanolin in it, along with the usual lotion ingredients.

I’d recommend this hand lotion to any knitter/crocheter who prefers a lightly scented lotion that won’t leave your hands feeling greasy. I just wish Romney Marsh Wools were a little closer to me! They have stockists all over Kent, and you can order online as well, which is what I’ll be doing when I need more.

Selling on Swanky Maison – Review

This review is of my own experience in attempting to set up and sell on Swanky Maison.

I was invited to sell on Swanky Maison a little over a year ago, but wasn’t ready to look at selling there at the time. In May, I signed up and paid the membership fee. Swanky Maison also take 30% commission on the item price and pay out monthly. The site owners optimise your listings for SEO, then market and promote them in exchange for the listing commission and membership fee. The order comes through the website, so basically they are drop-shipping, in a similar way to Amazon, but without a lot of the functionality on the larger websites that makes it easy for sellers.

Dropbox is used to send photos and ‘media-ready’ shots (white background), as well as a copy of your contract. I also had to email them a logo and avatar as they wouldn’t load on my account page and wait for them to go up. They decided on the password for my account and I was not able to change it along with several other aspects of my account, such as my biography.

I added my camera buddies to the site and waited for the listings to go live. It’s supposed to take up to 10 days but it was more like 2 weeks+. It’s quite labour-intensive to list on the site, not very intuitive, and you have to go back into the listing to add photos, which they prefer be square. The listing page is clunky and you can’t edit your title once you’ve saved the listing, for example. You have to email the new one to the owners. They say they take 10 days for the listings to go live as they “optimise them for SEO” but mine were never changed at all except that they shortened the title to 1 search term from the 4-5 I had listed and then managed to get 3 listing titles wrong… ‘trick and treating’, anyone?

I had to email to find out when they were going live for each batch of listings after waiting for longer than 10 days, and with 2 listings, it was 3 weeks. The photos hadn’t loaded and instead of letting me know, they left the listings with a ‘no image’ note on the titles and I didn’t see it until a few days later when I went into the seller area to add more. The listings went live almost immediately once I emailed, so I’m not sure how much ‘optimising for SEO’ there could have been on them….

When I was thinking about joining, their communication was very good but once I had sent off the membership fee (by BACS) and sent in the contract, I didn’t even get an acknowledgement. I had to email to check to see that they had got the seller’s biography I had emailed in too.

I found that they don’t/won’t show you any data from the site such as views/stats on your items, and if they aren’t selling you have no way of knowing why. You also don’t know if they are promoting your items, unless you see one on the promotional emails that they send out.

I got frustrated that my listings weren’t going up within the 10 days as per the contract, that if there was something wrong I wasn’t informed and told them that 10 days was more than long enough to wait for listings to go live. They asked whether or not I was happy with them and I said ‘No’ and why. The owners (who do all the work, apparently) weren’t prepared to consider that not all their sellers were “happy, happy, happy” with them, and preferred to not deal with me and sort things out.

If my communication with my customers was as bad as Swanky Maison’s owners’ was to me, I wouldn’t be in business anymore. They didn’t answer any of my questions about how they optimised for SEO if none of the text had been changed and why use only 1 search term instead of several? I just got an email that said they had decided to part ways with me and refund me the membership fee. I’m blunt and forthright, but don’t ask me if I’m happy about something if you aren’t prepared for a negative answer!

I think I will do more work on my photos and items and try elsewhere. It’s a shame; the site could be so much better, easier to use & seller friendly etc. if the owners were willing to upgrade the site and allow sellers more usability and improve communication with the makers/designer/sellers who actually are their customers.


I’m starting to get a few reviews/feedback/comments on the items I made over Christmas – a lot were for gifts, so I just hoped they were perfect for the recipient.

Dinosaur Hoods:

Dinosaur Hood
Dinosaur Hood

“Such a lovely idea – my boys are getting one each for Christmas and will love these so much! Beautiful quality and wonderful customer service. Thanks, Denise. 🙂 ”

“Denise went above and beyond to create this dino hood for my eldest son – fantastic Etsy seller and creator!”

“Love it! Denise modified the design slightly to suit our time schedules but she kept me involved & in the loop throughout the entire process. And the end result is just beautiful! Tried on shortly as it’s still a tad too warm for it now, but it’s a perfect fit & it looks like it’s stretch will be sufficient for it to still fit in a couple of months’ time for when we need it. Brilliant!”

“Love it! I had this custom made with bigger purple spikes and was not disappointed. I am actually looking forward to the colder weather now :D”

Teal Herringbone Handwarmers:

Teal Handwarmers
Teal Handwarmers

“Delivered really quickly! bought as a gift and I’m sure the recipient will love them”

“These gloves are absolutely gorgeous, of lovely quality, and were delivered quickly, coming beautifully packaged. I’m delighted with them – and I know my brother will be too! Thank you so much. ~”

Camera Buddies:

Camera Chick
Camera Chick
Puppy Camera Buddy
Puppy Camera Buddy


“Really cute item, very nice.”

“Well made and as pictured, delivered very fast too :-)”

“Fantastic item, really well made and fast shipping. Great eBayer. Thank you!”

“Thank You, Arrived in perfect condition and is brilliant thanks :)”

“fantastic, excellent standard & arrived so quickly”

I love it!

Tool Belts:

Tool Belt
Tool Belt

“Amazing quality and turned up quick Thank u”

“Thank you. Wonderful belt for little craftsmen. Merry Christmas.”

“My order was made ready & shipped extremely quickly and the belt is exactly as described. Many thanks for the great experience!”

Review: TJB Designs Etsy Shop

TJB Designs is owned by Tommye Bunce, a lovely lady who lives in Oak Island, NC. She makes beaded knitting, embroidery and crochet accessories such as markers, counting pins, scissor fobs, as well as eyeglsses chains and book marks to sell on Etsy. She is a team-mate of mine on an Etsy Team called Crafty Folk where I got to know and fall in love with her beaded pretties – even better that they are useful too!

I ordered these purple & green beaded crochet and knitting markers last year – I fell in love with the colour combination – though I’d never wear it!

Green & Purple Crochet Markers
Green & Purple Crochet Markers
Green & Purple Knitting Markers
Green & Purple Knitting Markers

They have never caught on yarn, or come apart; my son loved them so much last year when he was into ‘Treasure Chests” he kept taking them for his “jewels” until I convinced him that buttons would work as well…..

The only issue I have is that I lost some of the crochet markers! Which meant that when I was down to 1, I needed more….. so I got these ones almost exactly 1 year later.

Blue Confetti Crochet Markers
Blue Confetti Crochet Markers

And I *had* to get matching knitting ones…

Blue Confetti Knitting Markers
Blue Confetti Knitting Markers

Both sets were custom-made for me – she had 1 kind of marker already made up and then made the other set to match. They are completely different in look, but have the same great high quality in materials and execution.
They came quickly and were well packaged – Tommye also refunded the extra postage I paid. To be honest, these are great value for the money – I’d pay more for them (but you don’t have to put your prices up, Tommye!)

If you think you’ve seen the green & purple sets elsewhere, you may very well have – I was featured in Craftseller Magazine in April and this was my Essential Item! Tommye very kindly sent me a second main marker for the knitting marker set as I had misplaced it and needed another matching one quickly for the photos! Then of, course, I found the first one as soon as the photos had been taken…. so I now have 2.

If you knit, sew, crochet or embroider, or know someone who does, please do take a look in Tommye’s shop – lots of useful pretties for gifts or for you!