Secret Cinema – Star Wars

Secret Cinema, for those that don’t know, is an events company specialising in ‘Live Cinema’ experiences, combining film screenings with interactive performances in purpose-built sets.  I have been on their email list for years and cry a little each time they put on a show featuring a movie I love, but that I can’t go to (I was quite desperate to see The Red Shoes and I’d have sold my children to go to Blade Runner ).  So when I heard the next film would be Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, I jumped online and bought tickets and decided I’d worry about getting someone to look after the kids at a later point.

DSC_0136I am a big Star Wars fan (see my house keys above!!), not in a crazy way, just in that it was the main series of films of my childhood (and I’m talking the original three here, naturally), if I ever had to commit to a top 10 list of my favourite movies they would be in there…probably in the top 5, and as anyone who’s been reading this blog for a while knows, I do love an opportunity to get dressed up (again, long term readers know already, but for any new folk my sadly no longer used degree is in Theatre Design, specialising in costume, so I can get a bit geeky when dressing up is involved), going to this kind of event was a no-brainer.starwars4

I bought the above book last year (Star Wars – Costumes by Brandon Alinger), but hadn’t really read it properly, so researching costume ideas was a good opportunity to geek out on all the details.  It’s such a good book, I had lots of fun deciding on which greeblies I would make.

02319506

Without giving anything away, when you register for the event, after buying your tickets, you are put into a ‘faction’, I had originally decided, in my head, that I was going to be a Mercenary (Han Solo costume here I come) but no, apparently, due to my being highly organised, my analytical mind and my leadership skills (????!!!! to this last one) I was given the role of a Governor of the Alliance.  You are then given a basic outline of the costume brief for your group, which for mine was pretty much a military style, white or metallic jumpsuit.  Now I’m quite lazy about making actual costumes, I find the cost of the fabric and the time involved often outweighs the time it’s worn, so I bought a very cheap sale jumpsuit from Warehouse and pimped it.

starwars

I can’t really wear off the shoulder, so I added some padded bits to the top and my oh-so-carefully-made *ahem* rank badge.  I was quite pleased with the result, actually.

DSC_0138This then left me with lots of time for the fun bits, which in my case involved deciding which false eyelashes I’d wear (still loving Paperself for crazy lashes) and how much glitter is appropriate for my attempt at space style make-up.

starwars2Lots of glitter, apparently.

starwars3I’m afraid there was no chance of a full length photo, this is the best I could get.DSC_0145I had equal amounts of fun gathering any bartering items needed (listed with your faction details) , my Sister (who I went with) laughed when I told her I’d tea stained my blueprints…hey, I have two kids in primary school, I spend half my life distressing and tea staining paper!!

I can’t say a lot about the show itself because it’s, well, a secret.  You are not allowed mobile phones or cameras inside (any ‘devices’ you have with you are sealed in pouches before you enter, I just didn’t even bother taking mine) but I can say it was absolutely awesome, one of the best theatre experiences I have ever been to and worth every penny of the ticket price, which I know has been quite grumbled about on the web.  You can enter into the spirit of it as much, or as little as you like, personally I think it’s more fun if you just go for it, we were very early in (which I recommend) and so found we had time to absorb all the details, and it really is all in the detail, a huge amount of effort has been put into the staging and sets, the atmosphere is great, we chose to do all the available interactive options which involve quite a lot of running around (it’s set over 18 acres, apparently, which I can well believe), dancing and being shouted at by various Rebel leaders and Imperial Guards.  I must say, a polyester jumpsuit is not necessarily the best option as you do get quite sweaty, but then full marks to those dressed in the full gear and big shout out for the girl wearing an amazing R2D2 dress.DSC_0141

I wasn’t expecting to buy anything from any of the stalls, but I fell in love with these stirling silver rings made by Iris Musel of Amygdalae Design (she has an Etsy shop here), sorry about the appalling photo but the rain is tipping it down here so the light is dreadful.

Do I have any other tips if you’re thinking of going along and a recap? (and do go, I really do recommend it and you can often buy late tickets for sold out days via the SC FB page from people who can no longer go)….arrive early, we were there for 5.15 and were amongst the first in, by which time the queue behind us was huge, they do have lots of great tactics to stagger the audience so everyone gets to make the most of each section, but it was nice being amongst the first group in.  Take your time and soak up the details, chat to any cast members you get the opportunity to talk to, it’s fun and they tell you things that lead to bits you might otherwise miss.  Make sure you do bring any items you are asked to, you will need your scarf and trading things.  It’s hot, hot, hot in there and you do have to move around a lot, they say no heals and I’d go with that as good advice.  You can’t bring in drinks etc (your bag is searched at the beginning) and any gadgets are sealed up for the duration.  It’s credit cards only, ideally contactless, I’ve read on the web that the food and drinks are considered a bit pricey, but we had a delicious chicken satay and I drank (rather a lot) of wine during the movie, the cocktails have a decent kick to them too, yep I felt it was necessary to try those as well, so for me, the price was worth it.  One thing I would say, I felt quite bad about not taking the boys, but apart from the fact it would have become a very expensive night out, had they come too, I’m really glad I didn’t bring them.  There were a few kids there and they were well included by the actors, but it felt like quite a grown up show to me. It’s hot, dark, and in places crowded.  You do genuinely get shouted at quite a bit and I think the boys might not have got some of it, or perhaps have felt a bit intimidated, and they would have been bored in places so I’d have had to concentrate on looking after them, rather than immersing myself, saying that the kids I did see where having lots of fun.

DSC_0196Well, that’s all, I guess.  One last photo though, this is Buster, the final animal to come and live in the Foster zoo.  We’ve had him a few weeks now, he’s a ‘proper’ stray from Battersea, a bit mangled in the ears and some nice scars on his poor face from his years of living rough, but a nice addition to the other two (pretty, young) girl cats and I was very happy to adopt an older, black cat as I know they are difficult to re-home.  He gets to appear here because I tried very hard to persuade the boys that Vader was a good name for a black cat, but they were having non of it and Buster was the only name we could agree on, so Buster it is.

I’m busy sewing blinds, which isn’t very inspiring for blogging, but come September I’ll be back to Linen Cat work so hopefully I’ll be back in blogworld more frequently :)

Wolves and Kitty-cats!

School charity day and yet another opportunity for me to try and weasel out of making costumes for the boys to wear, in this case, a call for animal theme of their choice (I suggested a stoat, as F made a fab stoat mask some years ago for topic homework that is still stuck to his noticeboard in his room, but he was having none of it).

Screen Shot 2015-07-14 at 16.19.16

Under pressure, I agreed to make masks (to be worn with their own clothes as the pay-off).  F asked for a wolf and C a ‘kitty-cat’.  I forgot about it until the day before, when having a lovely ladies lunch, but luckily I remembered I had this pdf download from oxeyedaisey

DSC_0231I used a mix of linen and tweed, as that’s what I had in stock and totally ignored the making instructions (which I have no doubt are brilliant) and went with the same method I used to make skeleton masks back in 2010 (see here), ie layering fabrics and interfacing and using various machine stitches to attach them together.

DSC_0162I thought they would be quick.  They weren’t.  To be fair, this was mainly time taken up with stupid things like hunting for fabric and elastic, but I got there in the end and I was quite pleased with the results.  The cat is just the wolf pattern adapted, shorter ears and snout and added whiskers as C was very keen to get whiskers.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 18.23.29On a completely random note, Grimwith House came up for sale a few weeks back.  It may already have sold, I don’t even look any more, as I get little flutters of want just at the idea.  I’ve been hankering after this derelict property for many, many years, wondering why it was unlived in and unloved….it once belonged to my relatives.  I could buy it but never afford to do it up.

Ah well, I’m sure someone will make a beautiful home of it and I’ll jealously try not to stare next time I’m walking up in the Dales :)

Back Camera

Pretty Pink Lavender Birds…

This is going to have to be a quick post as I’m due on school run soon.

DSC_0140

I have new lavender birds.  They are pretty.   They are pink.

DSC_0143

They are still not photographed as well as they should be (curse you iPhoto for changing your editing tools grrrrr, why yes, I am a bad workman and will happily blame my tools in this case and not my shoddy camera skills), but they are listed here.

DSC_0136

Incidentally, I have just reduced my SALE section by another 10%, partly because I need to make room for new stock.  It will break my heart slightly to see so much hard work go for such a low price, but that’s the way of the world and I’d rather they go off to new homes than sit in a box unloved.  I need to update all the photos and see what else I have to add, but for now it’s mainly linen cats and bunnies, with the odd squirrel.

That’s it, short and sweet as I need to dash :)

Pink Auriculas

Spring is the time for new auricula brooches…..and as we are now very much in Summer, I thought it was time I finished them!8811757633566As always, it starts with me trawling through photos in the internet, looking for inspiration.  I was sure I wanted to make a pink version and originally, I was very keen on the idea of a nice pale pink, like the middle blooms above (I have NO idea where this photo came from, I’m pretty sure it was a seed catalogue so I don’t feel shockingly bad about posting it here, but if not, and it belongs to someone I’m really, really sorry, just let me know and I’ll credit/remove it, as you wish).

DSC_0160

But, I am very picky about the felt I use, it’s always 100% wool and I’ve tried many suppliers but some are a bit too thick to be easily manipulated into the petals, so I’m sticking with my original source, the only problem there being that I’ve used most colours available and all the pale pink options just didn’t look right, so I changed plan and went for the brighter pink in the bottom left corner.
DSC_0139

I’m really pleased with the results, they are quite zingy, without being too bright.  Annoyingly, they are really difficult to photograph and get the colour to show, so like the trooper I am, I just gave up and decided to use the photos I have ;)
DSC_0150

I’m also struggling, generally, to take process shots as I changed my lovely Victorian trestle table some time back for a more modern glass worktop, it is very practical and looks good, but it’s not nice to take photos on (I have just re-arranged my entire studio, which took me FOREVER, although I am now the Queen of solo furniture moving, photos to follow at some stage).DSC_0155

I’ve been resorting to taking photos on my wooden work tray and also my old desk, that now houses all my packing supplies.  My Mum bought me this.  I know I’ve mentioned it before, but it was back in the mid 80’s and I was disappointed about being told I would be getting a second-hand bike for Christmas (long story, I wasn’t allowed a new one as apparently us kids ‘didn’t look after them properly’) and Mum knew I was upset so she used her own money to buy me a desk as a trade-off.  I wanted a melamine thing in bright colours (but of course) and luckily, Mum having clearly much better taste then me, bought this beauty instead.  Thank goodness my 80’s early teen style didn’t win, the melamine would have long since been binned.

(Oh, quick mention, the two lovely drawings on top of the desk are by the fabulous Saffa, who has a new website – Saffa Barkhorder – for her beautiful drawing work).DSC_0162

See, grainy, dark photos.  Poor show Beth.  If you can’t take the time to photograph things properly how do you expect them to be shown at their best! (I talk to myself all day long, I may as well do it in my blog too, thank goodness for cats and guinea pigs, at least if they are in the room I appear less mad).pinkariculacutout

Better, but still not great.

Oh, and whilst I was making a new colour batch I re-stocked some of the green ones, as they tend to be quite popular.  They are both to be found here.
DSC_0138Right, I’m off to read a book about taking product photographs as that seems like a good plan.  Toodle pip for now.

Guinea Pigs…

I keep starting to write blog posts, but then never get around to finishing them or I don’t get the photos together to support the writing (and goodness knows, my writing does need supporting ;) ).  In fact, I spent some of yesterday writing a bullet point post just to get my news together, but it sounded so moany and depressing I’ve scrapped it (I must have seen the new moon through glass again as I’ve never had such a crappy run of bad luck).  Let’s forget all that and talk cute fluffy animals instead.

boysguineapigsThe boys got a guinea pig each for their Birthday.

Scratch

Oh my goodness, how have I missed knowing how adorable little piggies are?!  I had hamsters growing up but these little critters top them by far.

(I had planned to take nice arty photos for the post, but I’ll never get this published if I try that, plus iPhoto has totally changed and I can no longer edit the way I could, that’s going to be a problem, I might even have to learn Photoshop properly!).

Nuzzle

Sadly, Nuzzle died after only one week :(  No idea why, by the time I took him to the vets (I noticed he wasn’t quite as perky as he had been on the Saturday, but it was clear by Sunday that he really wasn’t well and I managed to get an appointment  in the store we bought him from) he was dehydrated and they advised me he was in pain and it was kindest to have him put to sleep.

DSC_0145

Big shout out here for our local Pets at Home now, they paid for the vets bill, and allowed C to choose another piggie.  They were also amazing with advice and help when we went to originally choose a pet.  Incidentally, considering the reason we chose guinea pigs was partly because C couldn’t stand the idea of a pet dying on him after only a couple of years, and piggies live for about 8, he wasn’t nearly as upset as I was at the demise of Nuzzle.  Oh and the new guinea pig is named ‘Cuddles’…..I might have to intervene in future pet naming!!

DSC_0046

I can’t think of guinea pigs without thinking of Miss Bumbles and her needle felted creatures.

DSC_0049

I’ve shown all of these photos before, but Ruth’s work is spot on and well worth another mention.DSC_0043 DSC_0029

Guinea pigs also make me think of Racey Helps, who I know I also mention a lot on this blog,

DSC_0161mainly because of ‘Guinea Pig Podge’….oh how I wanted to call one of the new little furries Podge.

DSC_0164

This is one of the few of his illustrated books where the animals don’t wear clothing, but it’s the one I remember best from when I was a child and Gran used to read his stories to us.

I am busy sewing, things for this summer, and also for next winter (trying to get ahead before my first long holiday as a single parent) I really need the shop to pay, it has to bridge the gap between part-time work plus the resulting cost of childcare and remaining flexible for the boys and at home and sewing, but I’m finding it a hard balance plus between that and all the other jobs that need my attention there just aren’t enough hours in the day.  I think that might deserve a blog post all of its own.

Right, off to do a quick animal cuddle before cracking on with the day :)

Gold Tweed Bunny Purses

Forever ago, I started a new batch of tweed purses.  I get emails asking after them often, they are quite popular and sell well but I don’t enjoy making them as much as other things, there are simply too many areas that are difficult and there is always the possible outcome that the zips are so stiff I can’t sell them (it’s because of the curve that I’m forcing the invisible zip into, it doesn’t like it) so it’s taken me a ridiculously long time to finish this last batch.

DSC_0166Last February, I tweeted the above image as I couldn’t decide on bows, or flowers and the answer from lovely twitter peeps was flowers.

tweed bunniesAdvice I then totally ignored, as I’ve had this fixed idea in my head, since I made the first purse, many years ago, that I really wanted to do a gold and red bow version, like the Lindt chocolate treat they are based on.

DSC_0161I then fell out of love with making them, in a big way and they sat all lonely in a box for almost a year.  Poor bunnies.

DSC_0158The thing I was mainly avoiding making were the handles, which is mind numbing and challenges my machine with the thickness of tweed I have to sew through.

DSC_0180I also constructed these a bit differently, in an attempt to make sure the zips moved freely, and as a result had to hand stitch the red silk linings in, which I also kept avoiding.

DSC_0167But the realisation that Easter is nearly upon us, and the idea that another year might pass before these were actually photographed and listed spurred me to get my act together and get them out there.  As you can probably see, the light was less than perfect yesterday, but I knew we were in for some rain so I just did my best to take decent photos, in order to get the purses listed (here if you’re interested).  I hate doing this, I always intend to take updated images at a later date, but find I never do, which is very unprofessional, but it’s that or miss my target again.

DSC_0179On other things, life isn’t really letting up around here, I have a million things to do at once and to top it all off, poor F broke his arm at the end of last week.  On the plus side, I feel like I’m staying on top of it all (only just!) and I’m really enjoying having the kitties around for company during the day.  At least I can pretend I’m talking to them instead of myself, which makes me feel a little less like a crazy person :)

Kitty Cats…

I don’t think I’ve been absent from my blog for so long before, I’m not quite sure what happened as I’ve been meaning to write a post for ages, but a bit like when replying to emails, I’m good when I’m on a roll, however, when I drop the ball for a while I really struggle to get going again and then I feel guilty for not replying and put it off further.  Stupid really.  I have a saying with the boys about eating the frog, ie getting the thing done first that you don’t want to do as then you can relax and do the fun stuff rather than worrying about munching amphibians.  Not that writing this blog is like eating a frog, but it can feel that way when you’re out of the groove.

DSC_0018

I remember mentioning, last year, that the Easter holidays had been a bit crappy, one of the bad elements was that my lovely can Smilla died, and it wasn’t a quick death, it was drawn out and sad and in the end I had to have her put down.  She was 16 and ‘had, had a good life’ but I was gutted.  This was her favourite spot during the day, sitting under my desk, sunbathing as I worked.

DSC_0143

I’ve always promised the boys we could have kittens, so over the summer I’ve been avidly stalking our local RSPCA website, as I know you need to be quick to get your name down to reserve kittens (in all honesty, I’d have been more than happy to have cats, but then I’ve had the pleasure of playing with kittens many times as a child, so it felt fair to offer the boys the same).  A few weeks back we were lucky enough to be approved to bring home two sisters, now named Birdie and Tuppence.  As with many rescued cats, they are a little timid but are getting braver daily and we are very excited to have them.

DSC_0141

Granny Square Crochet Blanket by Driftingalong

I wanted the transition for coming home, to be as gentle as possible, so to emulate their beds in the cattery, I bought crochet blankets for lining the cat baskets.  DSC_0142

Retro Ripple Crochet Blanket by Woollie Treasures

They seem to use hand knitted and crochet bedding a lot at the RSPCA, they have a room with it all stacked up, neatly washed, it’s like Granny square heaven!

DSC_0141 2

Crochet Blanket by Grannyman Crochet

I like to think it made a difference (plus the blankets looks nice covering the spot on my sofa where they prefer to sit….in contrast to the foil wrapped around the arms to attempt to stop any scratching.  I can highly recommend all the sellers above, they are all beautifully made (you can click on the links below the photos to get to the shops and I hope they forgive me for using their lovely creations for cats and not babies).DSC_0151

One a last word on adopting a cat, I do recommend it, don’t be put off by the process or even the price, the cats all come spayed, micro-chipped, wormed and ready for re-homing, many are quite timid and will need help settling in, but it’s just so lovely to see them relax and show their true characters and you can give yourself a pat on the back for giving an animal a home that needs one.

DSC_0139

What else?  World Book Day.  As usual, I was rather lazy and bought an incredibly cheap outfit on-line, then pimped it with some trim, a better top hat, leather gloves and my purple brogues for ‘Willy Wonka’ and C went as his namesake, complete with a Wonka bar (did it contain a golden ticket? – of course it did, I’m not that mean a Mum!).  My enthusiasm for providing costumes really is zero, I know this makes me a bah-humbug, as the kids love dressing up….do I still have to do this once they go into secondary school??DSC_0145

My top tip for buying cheap costumes on-line, especially when you have tall kids, is to buy the adults ones and adapt them, they are always far better made then the kids versions.  I did have to take a tuck in the shoulder of this one that ran down the front and back as for once, it really was an adult size (I find they nearly always come small), but I couldn’t have bought the fabric to make this for the price I paid and it didn’t take long to alter.

DSC_0145In the studio, I’m back sewing things for the shop.  We’ve had some beautiful sunny days, despite the cold mornings, and the heat on the glass wall gives a promise of spring.  I need to get photographs taken and the site updated and hopefully, as I appear to be on a roll, that will happen soon.

Roll on 2015, a bit late, but I am now ready :)