Because I want to minimise my impact on this planet, and also because I’m a bit cheap, I like to shop as little as possible in the run up to Christmas. Instead I try and make most of the presents I give to people.
Often though, there is till a need for some shopping because a) you can’t make enough things in time b) not everybody wants crocheted cowls and beaded earrings every goddamn year and c) men are really difficult to make things for. In these cases, I like to support independent stores over large high street retailers. Last year, I bought pretty much all the presents I didn’t make from Kinship of Oxford.
I love this online store. It’s the kind of website that I barely have to browse before stumbling on something I want right now. Everything I’ve bought has come wrapped in tissue paper in a brown paper bag with a hand written thank you note – this makes me so excited. Not only that, but because I live in Oxford, Rosie hand delivers my order so the exchange feels much more friendly and doesn’t cost me anything extra for delivery. So when I got an email asking me if I would review some products, I couldn’t be more pleased to do so.
As usual, my package came as a paper bag with each item wrapped individually in pink tissue paper.
The first thing I unwrapped was this Green Seedware Mug. I love almost everything about it: the pattern, the size, the weight. The first thing I did was go and make a cup of tea in it, which wasn’t a great idea because I’ve been trying to do without caffeine. But the tea tasted amazing in this mug, even if that was mostly to do with the fact that I hadn’t let myself have any in two days.
The mug was made in the Royal Stafford Potteries in Stoke on Trent, and designed by Sarah Heaton. It is from a collection for which Royal Stafford have been working with independent designers to showcase their work. Sarah is a leading ceramic tableware designer who lives in the heart of the English Peak District. Her house is apparently one of historic Ashbourne’s oldest buildings and was once a gaol that held Napoleonic prisoners of war.
Drinking from the mug was great, it’s size was perfect for me to wrap my hands around. It is quite a chunky mug, the rim is wider than the mug I usually drink from so that took a little getting used to.
At £14 it might be a little more pricey than the mugs you can buy in Ikea or the supermarket, but how often do you know which pottery those cheaper mugs were made in, or fun facts about the designers house? It also feels like a better quality than a mug you would buy from Tesco.
The next thing I unwrapped was this Rosemary and Thyme Candle. I have to admit that my heart sank a little bit because I have a lot of scented candles, most of them unlit, that have been given to me over the years by people who didn’t know what else to get me as a present. But that disappointment only lasted until I smelt it, which was almost straight away. Unlike a lot of so-called scented candles, this one smells very strongly of what it is supposed to smell like. I have it lit on the other side of the room while I am writing this blog post. It’s a good six feet away from me and the window is open, but I’m still getting whiffs of rosemary and thyme every few minutes.
This candle was hand poured in Wiltshire for Kinship, and made from essential oils and plant wax so it burns evenly for up to 50 hours. Apparently Rosemary has energising qualities, so I didn’t even need to make that cup of tea.
The third thing I unwrapped was this Seedhead Notebook. I love the Art Nouveau inspired design on the cover and the off-white paper inside. It’s A6 size, which makes it perfect for carrying around in my relatively small handbag for when inspiration strikes. (I know, but writing notes on my phone just isn’t the same.) It feels relatively sturdy, as though it would stand up to being carried around for months. The pages are think enough for pen not to bleed through to the other side, which is often what happens with cheaper stationery.
The notebook was designed and made in Bristol by Rosehip. Their website tells us that “Rosehip paper goods are the perfect fit for those who appreciate the importance of independent British made, good quality & environmentally friendly paper products.”
Finally, I was also sent the Sky Blue Pom Pom Key Ring. I wouldn’t normally buy this kind of thing because I make pom poms myself from yarn left over from a crochet project. But I have to admit, I’ve never been able to make a pom pom this large or this even. Handmade by artisans in India, this adds more air miles to your purchase than some of Kinship’s other products, but you’ll be supporting traditional wool crafts and be able to see your keys from a long way off. (Although probably not as far away as India). Pom Pom key rings are part of Kinship’s Bohemian summer collection, which features some amazingly brightly coloured picture frames, accessories and cushion cover.