Panic Saturday..?

Not around here it’s not.  Here it’s more like ‘Smug Saturday’, as all my jobs are finished and I’ve just sat down with a nice glass of wine, ready to watch ‘Murder on the Orient Express’, as I feel like a bit of snowy, period drama.DSC_0138 DSC_0172 The tree has been up and twinkling for over a week now, DSC_0153DSC_0154I’m really pleased with the new mice and they fit in well with my existing decorations – bonus!

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As always the house is peppered with things the boys have brought home from school…
DSC_0183Charlie has made a table decoration….clearly he doesn’t take after me! (JOKING!!)

DSC_0175I received a really wonderful gift in the post (thanks J!), some of my Gran’s cross stitch cards.  I’m sure I’ve mentioned these before, she used to stitch them constantly throughout the year in order to have enough to send to everyone.  It’s lovely to know that people have kept them all these years.

DSC_0176 I finished, and wrapped, my last gifts earlier today.  I’ve shown you the above felted goodness by Miss Bumbles/Ruth Rivers some years ago, Ruth makes the most amazing little animals that always make me think of the illustrations by Racey Helps or Molly Brett, I noticed a while back that she had some felting kits in her shop and was unable to resist.DSC_0178 I’d hoped to take lots of making photos for you, but the light wasn’t always great, plus I got rather carried away with the actual process and forgot to grab the camera.DSC_0180 The only thing not included in the kit is a felting block, I was too impatient to order one and used some polystyrene that I had hanging around instead – worked a treat!DSC_0163I really enjoyed my first foray into needle felting.  One of my early jobs in life was as a visual merchandiser for a company I hated, there was a total split between management and the floor staff, lots of people with big egos trying to lord it over the minions below them, something that I can’t stand, and when I got annoyed, I used to sneak into the back area where a friend of mine worked in the stockroom and stab his empty piles of collapsed cardboard boxes with a screwdriver (in a jokey manner, clearly, this does make me sound a bit psycho), the process of needle felting felt similarly therapeutic, I could happily get rid of all my frustrations stabbing away repeatedly at felt.

DSC_0187 F keep coming to watch and asked if he could have the finished deer for Christmas, as I don’t like to disappoint and I can’t give to one without the other, I bought a second kit to make another little critter for C.  I gave them extra scarves and a little pile of gifts to hold.DSC_0189Sorry about the crap photos, I was in a hurry to be done.  They are now wrapped and packed away ready for the big day.

So that’s me ready.  The house is clean(ish) I just polished my nails and tweezed my eyebrows. I’ve planned a nice outfit for the big day itself (I’m morphing into my Mother, who would always put on something nice) and I’m about to get back to Poirot and a large slab of Christmas cake with a slice of Wensleydale cheese.  I hope you’re all set and if not that it goes smoothly next week.

Merry Christmas and see you in 2015!!

A Bit of This…

This is going to be a quick catch-up post, just in case you think I’ve totally disappeared.

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Big thanks to everyone who entered the birdie give away, the winner was picked randomly but my youngest son, closing his eyes and putting a highlighter pen down on the list I’d written – not very high-tech but it worked – oh, and if you can’t see your name above, I’ve zoomed in for the photo so that’s why, I promise, everyone was on there, I double checked.  So the birds flew off to Caroline Joynson, who writes a lovely blog so please do pop over and visit (http://carolinejoynson.blogspot.co.uk/), which reminds me, I found loads of lovely new blogs to read from the nice comments left, always one of the best things about doing a give away, but I’ve been rubbish at saying ‘hello’ and catching up generally with my blog reading, I blame the kids illness, my vertigo (again!) and a morning at the doctors trying to get the oldest seen for an infection.  Life is rather like that around here at the moment.

On a happier note, I have a few things to share.  DSC_0138

These lovely bibs are made my Jenny of A Crafty Hen, they are super soft and so very well made, I always go to Jenny for baby gifts.

DSC_0139I also wanted to show you this fabulous book containing vintage knitting and crochet patterns by Susan Crawford and Jane Waller, I’ve had it on pre-order forever as there were a few delays with its first run, being self-published, but it was soooo worth it.DSC_0141 It contains 60 original patterns that have been re-written and updated, the photographs and snippets of accompanying history are just lovely.DSC_0143This isn’t a book review, I cannot knit so I don’t know how easy the patterns are to follow, but for eye candy alone it’s a wonderful thing and I am planning to bully some friends into knitting something from it for me (for a fee, of course!).

DSC_0151 I also wanted to do a quick shout out for these cute vintage style cake decorations and frill from Cox and Cox, they really hit the mark for me as we had similar on the cake Mum always iced, they will be coming out every year in this house now.

DSC_0137In terms of Christmas, we are getting there (it must be soon, as it’s started snowing on both my blogs…which rather annoyingly tries to crash my laptop when I’m using Chrome), the kitchen table has turned into a card writing factory for the boys, who insist, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, on sending a card to very child they know.DSC_0148 I have put the tree up, all my gifts are ordered and today I started wrapping.  Luckily I had lots of bits left over from last year, for this, so the fabulous Meri Meri tags are back again.  I’ve taken photos of the nice things I’m giving but as so many family and friends read this blog, I’ll have to wait a few weeks to show you.

You’d think I’d enjoy wrapping gifts, I certainly used to, but with two boys it can rather take the fun out of it, especially as I live away from most of my family so in the past I’ve not only had to wrap all my gifts, but also things that other people have ordered to be delivered directly here.  I have to say, the boys stuff is pretty hastily done, I will just blame Santa ;)crapwrappedI did seriously try to buy some things from Firebox, just so I could get then ‘CrapWrapped’, which is a genius idea, but the bits I wanted were out of stock – boo!  They have some great things, though, if you’re looking for quirky but cool gifts.

Right that’s it, just a quick fly by visit before I dash off on school run :)

Christmas Mice…

This is the last of the new festive designs, but it was the first on my list when I decided on the stunning, cunning plan to ‘get-ahead’ and sew only for winter this year.

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As you know, I am a hoarder and I especially struggle to throw things away that have sentimental meaning, I blame both my Gran and Mum for this trait (despite their not being blood related, my Gran having being Mum’s MIL)……yep it’s all their fault!  As part of my collection of ‘things’ I have a little mouse that I made for Gran when I was a kid; after she died it made its way back to me (she’d kept it for years – see, inherited hoarding tendencies ;)).  The pattern, I remember, came from a magazine article that was to sew an entire mouse family living in a fabric log that zipped apart, for years I also kept the pattern but alas, no more, that did actually make it into a bin at some point.

On one of my Etsy trawls, I came across a shop selling old craft book pages and one listing was for the same mouse and log set!  I got all excited and bought the pattern (I assume the magazine article I had originally used was to promote the book), I noticed there were loads of other things in the same shop that I recognised, including many pages from a sewing book that I had once owned and which contained a second mouse I’d often made so that hopped into my basket too.  Etsy is a wonderful thing.

(Part of my writing this post so late is that I was trying to find both the vintage mouse patterns to photograph, but alas I’ve ‘stored’ them away somewhere safely, so safely I don’t know where, exactly).

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I’ve really enjoyed making things with a vintage twist recently, such as the Christmas Fairies and last year’s Winter Deer Aprons (the last of which is listed in the shop).  I think they sit well with my original work and I enjoy the challenge of altering them slightly to make them my own.DSC_0130With this in mind, I immediately saw the vintage mice as a perfect starting point for some little Christmas hanging decorations and being super keen, I got straight down to working out a pattern.  I didn’t alter things too much, although I did completely change the scale and construction method.

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As you can see, I was working on the fabric choice whilst I still had my lovely vintage tree up in the studio……can’t wait to put that up again this year.
DSC_0134This is one of those critters where a production assembly line process really pays off, plus I get a kick out of the neat little piles, just waiting to be stitched up.

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I had lots of fun picking out the fabrics colours and details.
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And by the end of last December they were done!DSC_0148

I say done, but actually they were missing whiskers until quite recently.  
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I spent a long time obsessing about the packaging.  These mice are well over the maximum 2.5cm depth for a ‘large letter’ so they have to be sold in sets of three to warrant the heftier ‘small parcel’ postage price.
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Ideally, I would have liked them to be packed in pretty boxes with clear lids, neatly tied with a  nice festive ribbon, or even entirely clear boxes would have done.  I spent an age trawling for something suitable on the internet, but everything was either the wrong size or insanely expensive, so alas, they will be left separate and simply packaged together for posting out.DSC_0200I’m really pleased with them, they were fun to make, I had plans for further development of the idea but I’ve run out of time this year.  I am less pleased with the photos, it’s so hard to get good images when red is involved, especially in the current light, so I’m reluctantly using the images I have.  That maroon felt used for the boy’s jacket is my very favourite but it’s a total arse to capture!

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Look, they are kissing…do you think they are in love?  Is ‘berry’ girl mouse left out and jealous?!

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The obligatory hand shot, to show the scale.

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They come to life once their whiskers are added.  I did consider further details, like a little top hat for the boy (which is part of the original pattern), but I’ve learnt that sometimes it’s good to just stop,
DSC_0150so they are as they are, finished and ready to go to new homes and hang on trees/cupboard doors/be tied to gifts, whatever you fancy.  You can find them here.

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I’ve kept a set back for our tree as they go really well with the ‘Little Birds’ that I always use.  I imagine that one day, I might have a tree entirely covered in Linen Cat ornaments.

Thanks for all the lovely comments on the last post, especially from anyone who hopped over from the interview at Bugs and Fishes or who is new to the blog, I forgot to mention that I tend not to reply to give away post comments as it messes up the numbers for the good old random number generator, so please don’t think I’m being rude.  There’s still a week to leave a comment if you fancy a couple of birds with wonky tails :)

Thank You and a Give Away…

Well, winter’s here then, I know, as I’m currently wearing thick wool tights that are wrinkled fetchingly at the knee and ankle, in the style of Nora Batty, and it must be cold if I’ve broken out my winter staple wardrobe of wool tights.  It’s also pissing it down and so dark that it appears like it might be the middle of the night, which makes me want to snuggle up in a corner and read all day, shame I have loads of work to do.

I’ve been meaning to do a quick give away for ages and say an overdue thanks or two.

DSC_0198To get right to it, ages ago I blogged about Royal Doulton Fable Tableware (I just noticed the hilarious typo in the title of the post, how is it I don’t see my mistakes whilst I’m writing, yet they are so obvious later?  I know you all forgive me, it’s clear to anyone who reads my blog that I wont be winning any prizes for my grammar and spelling) and shortly afterwards I received a package in the post containing a gift of one of the mugs and a lovely letter from the Royal Doulton team.  Made my day, which at the time was all a bit pants, I may even have cried a bit (yep, it was the kind of day when the John Lewis Christmas ad makes you weep).

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The mug is lovely quality and as my current china is old and getting quite stained I figured I’d buy more as a replacement.  Weirdly, after my little moan in the post about not being allowed such colourful crockery, I ended up with a box set in the plain white version, the only pattern pieces I chose being some ‘Mixed Accents Mugs by Charlene Mullen.DSC_0142Basically, I need my everyday china to sit well with my vintage pieces, so white is the sensible option, but the lure of the little animals hiding inside the mugs was too much so they also jumped into my basket.

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I will be sticking with Fable in the white (which you can buy via Ocado as well – bonus!….oh and there is 1/3 off at the moment – double bonus!!) but I can see the lure of Charlene Mullen’s ‘London Calling’ range, which is also rather lovely.

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Now to the give away.  I haven’t done one in ages, which is a bit crap of me, so I have two little birds that need new homes, they have wonky ribbons in their tails but otherwise are in good order so I’ll send them both to one name picked out of the hat in two weeks time (Friday 28th November).  I’m happy to post anywhere in the world, just leave a comment on this post and please make sure it’s linked to an email address.  That’s all, nothing fancy, just a ‘hi’ will do.

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Lastly, but by no means least, I was lucky to be asked to take part in Laura’s (of Bugs and Fishes) ‘Crafty Ladies’ series.  I’m amongst great company, so was thrilled Laura contacted me, you can read all the interviews, including mine, here.  For those who don’t know Laura’s work, she writes a wonderful blog and creates beautiful pieces in felt, so it’s well worth a visit to her shop.  She’s also a craft writer and I see has a couple of books out that are ‘starred’ nicely on Amazon.  Jealous, me? Noooooo.

It’s stopped raining so there are no excuses not to get to work, which is a shame as I was quite close to giving myself a rare day off to just read.  Ho-hum, well at least it’s Friday :)

Crochet Birds…

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A long, long time ago, I was asked if I would provide a bird for a charity event (you can see the details here), the size needed was very specific and I didn’t want to send along one of my regular birds so I got creative with some linen and a large crochet snowflake I had hanging around.  I’ve always liked the result and earlier this year decided to attempt to make something similar for the shop.
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Part of the delay was in simply finding some crochet snowflakes that scaled with the price of selling the finished bird (BTW, there is a GREAT Folksy piece here about how your customer sets the price for your work and not a calculation of materials and time, it’s absolutely spot on, although I also think you do need to track your time, but only in terms of if what you are making will ever be profitable to sell, I also hand clapped at the bit that talks about the reality of selling wholesale, well worth a read), I think I thought I would learnt to crochet myself, clearly that is not going to happen, but luckily after the festive season last year, I managed to pick up some lovely bits of crochet on Etsy at very reasonable prices.DSC_0154This photo was taken last February (hence the crappy light, sorry!), I remember loving all the colours on my desk together.  The mug was Mum’s, bought for her by my SIL who kindly let me have it when we cleared through the house (thanks A) I really like using it, in a good way.  The hat is a vintage one that’s covered in pheasant feathers that I was trying to stretch out, something I still haven’t finished doing.DSC_0161I was really keen to get at least a bunch of samples made so I could get good photographs of them over summer (big fail on this, as you’ll see later). DSC_0048Size wise, they are in-between the little birds and the lavender ones, I did consider putting lavender in them but then I’d have so stuff them to order (as I do with anything containing lavender) which is very time consuming plus I consider them more of a decorative thing than a ‘lavender bag’.
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They each have a tag attached with a ribbon, as I think it presents them nicely.DSC_0159And now for why I haven’t listed them sooner, as I’d planned to get them in the shop in early autumn as part of the whole pink phase, it’s simply that I’m not entirely ecstatic with the photo, I somehow forgot to actually get pictures of them over summer and now the days are not getting any lighter so I’m not sure I can do any better until I get a chance to set up all the lights in the studio.  I never like using photos I’m not happy with, but I also don’t want things sitting in a box and missing their ‘slot’ so for now, with not the very best image, here they are :)

Tree Fairies…

I packed up the last of the acorn brooches today, thanks to Folksy, for linking through from Facebook, which was rather nice of them.  I was really lucky and got positive comments, because, I tell you, I couldn’t help noticing recently a Folksy featured photo on FB (of a piece of work that I thought was fabulous) got some quite mean and critical comments….why?  What happened to ‘if you can’t say something nice, shut up!’, I just don’t get it, but then I’m totally soft like that and generally hate the idea of hurting anyone’s feelings so I’d just keep my mouth shut if I didn’t like something, I’d certainly not go out of my way to write a negative or snide comment.  People are weird.

2.fairies+miceStill, back to the post.  It’s all very pink around here, as part of my effort to work through all the half-finished boxes, I finally came around to the fairies.  I’ve been avoiding them, they were started so long ago (2009, as you can read here) and part of the problem is I’ve learnt a lot in those intervening years so I would probably make them quite differently now,
DSC_0036but I couldn’t leave the poor bodies, already with faces embroidered on (if they hadn’t been sewn to this stage, I’m pretty sure I’d have binned them as it’s the mainly body making method that I would change) sitting any longer in their box, looking lonely, so I figured I should get them finished.  I had fun (not really) trying to find a ribbon match as the original one I used is no longer made, I tried out quite a few but they just didn’t look right.

DSC_0038Hair was plaited from a huge bag of wool I once bought specifically for this project.DSC_0200They were hanging out on the bed, in my studio, on one of my Gran’s old eiderdowns whilst at the bald, alien looking stage.  I love all the pretty pink colours together. DSC_0192 And finally, after a few days hand sewing, they are done.  Phew, and ‘tick’ to the ever-decreasing list.DSC_0193 So what would I change if I were starting from scratch?  Well mainly how the body is constructed, back then was in the pre big bag making/sewing boom that allows easy buying of pelmet weight interfacings etc, plus there weren’t nearly so many on-line fabric shops back in 2009 and if I remember correctly, these were constructed with multi layers of standard dressmaking interfacing to try and get the bodies as stiff as possible, which wasn’t all that stiff!  Don’t get me wrong, they work (mine is still put on the top of the tree yearly and will be until is disintegrates!) but it bothered me so I cut holes in the body areas of these and shoved wire as far as I could into the legs and arms.  It’s better and definitely makes me happier but I would just approach the construction differently now.DSC_0197 For those who are new to the blog, you can click the link at the start of this post to go back and read how they originally came about, but basically they are a fabric copy of my Gran’s tree fairy, which I grew up with as a child.  My Mum kindly brought it down one Christmas to put on the tree when the boys were born, after which she came to us so often that she told me to just keep her.  The card and paper fairy is quite fragile now and mostly lives in a box, out of direct sunlight to try to keep her in one piece, but re-visiting the sewn version prompted me to get her put into a box frame (which I was always planning to do) so she can be propped in the mantle piece, come December.DSC_0202As with the original batch, they look quite different from each other once they get hair, some are a tad grumpy or cross-eyed looking but I do think it’s part of the charm.

DSC_0186They are listed in the shop and I’m happy to see a nice tidy box, with just my remaining sample left :)

Heather Hues…

I started writing a very different post, all about big decisions (like where to live) and such, but quite frankly it all felt too serious so I deleted it and instead will just get straight to the subject.

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On of my favourite times of the year to visit the Yorkshire Dales is when the heather is out, it’s when I’m most keen to go walking and not just because the weather is often at it’s best but because I just love the colours.  I took this photo back in August, when I last visited, it’s taken from Burnsall Fell looking back down on the village, I realise that G+ has done some nifty ‘Auto Awesome’ thing but the heather hues and greens are so pretty so it’s exactly what I imagine when I picture home.DSC_0207 It’s also why I tend to think of this purse as my ‘Yorkshire’ purse, the colours in the tweed reflecting my mind’s image of the colours of Yorkshire, of green rolling hills and Dales and heather moors (OK, I know this is totally romanticised and often it’s actually grey and pissing it down….which reminds me, I once saw a program about buying houses, it was for some Yorkshire lady who’d moved to Australia who was trying to make the big decision of whether to move her family back, apparently someone from ‘home’ had sent her a video of driving around in the rain for an hour to remind her how grim it really is, only she kept watching the video in repeat and feeling homesick as she actually missed the Northern rain – that would SO be me!!!).DSC_0200Sorry for those with good memories who have read about these purse colours from the first time I made this combination, but it proved so popular I wanted to make a second batch.DSC_0187I’m so in love with the brown tweed, with it’s lime green and purple shades running through, I think it’s my favourite so far and I’ve still got enough squirrelled away for a 1940’s suit.DSC_0205

As I’ve covered this subject before, there isn’t much more to say, simply that they are back in the shop.DSC_0121Whilst I was in purse making mode, I figured I’d add another acorn version.  DSC_0120I liked the idea of sticking to brown tweeds for this one, although there is a hint of wine red in the herringboneDSC_0194and for a contrast pop of colour, I lined them in orange silk.
DSC_0200 The down side of using silk is it shows every little crease and bump and even though I’m super careful to push the bag evenly into the frame, it’s inevitable that there are some bumps that look worse for being in a shiny fabric….this really annoys me, as I’m sure those who know me can imagine.DSC_0221 DSC_0235I’m nearly there with all the shop posts, I know it’s been a bit ‘product’ heavy around here and I’m quite looking forward to working on new things, even possibly some sewing for myself which has become a rare thing around here these days.  Watch this space ;)