The Plan and How Christmas Went

997001_546611032164849_2806534199451118964_nThis is how I’m planning to approach the New Year!  Ha ha, although I do admit that The Linen Cat is due for a very big shake up. Decisions have to be made about what I intend to make in the future and certain lines are going to be resigned to the sale section. I need my sewing to be more profitable, although the main reason my shop has been so stagnant is all the blind and curtain sewing I have been doing, and that has probably brought in a more consistent ‘salary’ so it can’t be sniffed at. Clearly I still need to get my blog mojo back, both writing and reading, or perhaps move onto Facebook? I think that Twitter has defeated me and my Instagram account has about one photo on it. I also think I should open an Etsy shop and start shipping worldwide, but I’ve said that before and not quite got on with it.

DSC_0153(Miss Bumbles little deer and rabbits came out again)

For now, I’ll quickly show my Christmas photos before it’s indecent to do so.DSC_0150I got off to a good start, with pretty much all my gifts bought and even wrapped in early December, which was good as then the kids got sick, and I mean properly sick as in days and days off school and lots of vomiting all over beds.  I then also got sick, but as always didn’t have time to be ill, so just got on with it, as you do.  Not quite as bad as the pneumonia year, but heading that way.DSC_0147 (1)Then Tuppence broke her leg, right when Buster was due in for his SECOND hip operation, so I had two cats hopping about the living room, not allowed outdoors.  Thank goodness for pet insurance or I’d have had to sell one of the children by now.DSC_0138For our tree, I was inspired by Maison Bentley Style and I pulled out all the 70’s and 80’s decorations. DSC_0144A few of these came from home, when Mum and I cleaned out the attic years ago and she put a box of ‘Christmas tat’ aside for the bin and I rescued it, because I’m a hoarder and I can’t help it!DSC_0148It mostly contained these foil baubles, from the early 90’s, I think, and some amazingly hideous but fab foil flowers things she took off some crackers one year.  DSC_0147A lot of the other things came from the mixed Ebay batches I bought years ago when I was buying true vintage (vintage to me still means the first half of the 2oth century) baubles.  I quite often bid on big lots that were very mixed with things from the 30’s to the 90’s as they tended to go very cheaply. It’s funny how things come around again, the foil things rescued from home can now be bought for a handsome price on Ebay, which did make me laugh, as a couple of years ago you couldn’t have given them away.

DSC_0140I took some time this year to go through and pack up decorations in proper storage boxes. I’ve kept one large box of modern things, (my vintage stuff is kept separately) and it was interesting to see how my taste has changed, this layer was from when I first owned my own home, I was all set to send it to the charity shop but the boys objected.

DSC_0144 (1)This is the style I’ve had for the last few years, lots of glass mushrooms and fircones etc, that I mix in with my own shop Little Birds and Christmas Mice.  It made me wonder, as we had a new style tree this year if perhaps my work designs might change too?  I can definitely feel a shift coming, but I can’t imagine ever designing totally differently, I think my work will always have a common thread and be very ‘me’.

DSC_0146I did also have a mini tree in the hallway window (as they are very deep) complete with tiny coloured lights so I could put some of my more delicate and older decorations up – sorry, I forgot to photograph it!

boys and lunchChristmas itself was fab. We had all recovered from our various sicknesses in good time and were lucky to be invited out to France again, with my Sister and other half.beth apron

I’m sorry, I didn’t really take many photos worth sharing here (they are all quite grainy, although I did take lots of the boys opening their gifts, as with secondary school looming, I think this will be the last year they believe plus I don’t actually like having my own photo taken) but my Sister snapped one of me in my ‘posh’ outfit, complete with deer apron.

charlie christmas jumperI love it that the boys also like to dress up for Christmas, Charlie spent quite a bit of time planning his outfits and was insistent that we brought along three different jumpers….for the whole three days we were going to be away!IMG_3112 copy (1)

charlie walkWe did some nice walking (no skiing this year, which was good as there was no snow anyway!).airportAnd ended our stay with the usual 2 hour delay at Geneva airport on or way back.  Oh, we flew from Southend Airport, which I didn’t even know existed and is now my top favourite.  There is easy parking and no waiting for customs etc….it’s a winner for me.

That’s it for now, really.  Most of the dodgy photos of us are for the relatives that read this blog, so sorry about the quality.  I need to go clean the house now as it’s had animals and children running around it for two weeks and looks like a pigsty, but hopefully I’ll find time to catch up on my blog reading later, it’ll be nice to read what everyone else has been up to :)

Vampire Purses, Take Two

One of the most popular things I made last year, were the Spider and Victorian Mourning Purses (click on the links to read all about them!).  DSC_0202

I knew I wanted to make more this year but I really struggled to source some of the materials.  I just cannot find more of the appliqued spiders I originally used (there are other options, which I intend to look into next year) and the heavy silk I used for the Victorian purses has been nearly impossible to find.  DSC_0192

In the end, I bought some heavy twill silk from Beckfords and hand dyed it.  The silk was eye-wateringly expensive, but then I do only need a small amount for each purse.  I did, however, totally avoid dyeing it until the last possible moment.  I initially hand dyed it using Dylon black, but it came out with a very blue tinge, not at all as I’d hoped, so I dyed it again to get a better tone, same dye only in the washing machine.  It worked and it’s almost identical to the silk that I originally used, which incidentally was given to me by a lady running a period millinery course I did years ago at the London College of Fashion.

DSC_0150

I couldn’t find the same beaded applique panels either, so these have changed.  I bought plain ones then beaded them myself, which I prefer as I had to re-stitch on all the originals anyway as I was so paranoid they would fall off.

DSC_0170I really LOVE making these purses, they pretty much sum up my work and my taste.  I love the beading, the old feel and what’s not to like about silk and velvet.  Velvet is really rocking my boat at the moment.

DSC_0139

I don’t love glueing on the frames, I tend to put that off as well, but I’ve become a pro, I’m like the ninja purse frame gluing champion and hardly any acetone was needed in the making of these purses, which is good as I was already quite giddy on the smell of fabric glue.

DSC_0175

I’ve changed the name to ‘Vampire’ purses this year, simply as it is what I’ve always called them when I’m talking to myself.  It’s those red linings against the black.

DSC_0141

I’ve already promised some of them to friends, but the remainder are here in the shop.

DSC_0140

My shop generally needs updating.  I started a re-brand a while ago, but the craziness that is finding the right secondary school for F, blind making and trying to get the house decorated is taking its toll, there just isn’t time to do everything, so for now I’ve opted for a quick change of the front page and trying to get my stock levels back up.

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 13.21.10

For Christmas, I’d like a time machine please :)

Glyndebourne 2015: Ravel

Let’s pretend I haven’t been absent for most of this year, we’ll just gloss over that and crack on with this post, which I started forever ago but never actually published.  Sorry.

Earlier this year, I was lucky enough to be invited along to my Sister’s annual Glyndebourne trip, something I get super excited, because I don’t get out much and I love any opportunity to not look like a bag lady.

This year we were lucky to get to see Maurice Ravel’s short operas, L’heure espagnole and L’enfant et les sortilèges.

Now, I really don’t think I’m qualified at all to give an opinion on the singers, the performance or the music, I just know if I enjoy something or not and inevitably, for me, the staging plays a big part of this.  The operas were very short, witty and really enjoyable to watch, below is Glyndebourne’s own blurb and photos (taken by Richard Hubert Smith) to give you and idea (you can read more and see video snippets here)

‘L’heure espagnole , a Feydeau-esque sex farce about a lusty Spanish woman juggling lovers while her husband is preoccupied with clockwork mechanisms, evokes a Spanish flavour through Ravel’s use of native dance forms including the jota, the habañera and the malagueña.’

atymtdnrgyknzjelievozmayxvk244tbklib8gmpkrl1ihd5rbjcqxpckpdu

L’enfant et les sortilèges , with a libretto by the French novelist Colette, is both a whimsical ‘lyric fantasy’ and a morality play with a deeply serious core. Fairy tale characters, furniture, crockery, plants and animals come to life to chastise a peevish child who has been tormenting them. All ends happily, though, when the child learns compassion. The score features echoes of Gershwin as well as an eclectic blend of influences ranging from Bach and Monteverdi through Massenet, Wagner and Puccini.

The set and costume design for  L’enfant et les sortilèges were a complete delight, very clever and only a pinch below The Cunning Little Vixon, which is still my favourite.

et7rkvncjezm7uv7wgnmaprma1fo0irmnrguw5zx
nzs8pmxprbzqs75wwdwn
wbudzhhdoph9jjdzmgz6

yfnbwogrp3fotg0aij9b
(All the above photos are stolen borrowed from the Glyndebourne site and are taken by Richard Hubert Smith, who I hope does’t mind, as I am saying nice things)

Glyndebourne2

As for what I wore (clearly, VERY important)….

Eyelashes2

yet again, fancy eyelashes from Paperself…..

me looking bleurgh

an Orla Kiely dress and Chie Mihara shoes.  I’m so predictable.  (All ‘old’, in fact I think these are the first every CM shoes I bought, many, many years ago).  I hope you appreciate my posting this rather unflattering photo taken quickly in the bedroom I was staying in…my hair is looking rather Bonnie Langford, the curl did drop a bit later.

Glynndebourne

I even polished my nails, which rarely happens as I chip it in an instant, I also took my Victorian purse with me, which I made after the original batch was sold in two days, including the sample one I’d planned to keep for myself.  I have more on these in the next post (oh yes, there will be a next post – go me!).

We had a glorious time.  It seems an age ago now, especially as it’s such a damp and chilly day right now, picnics in the grounds of posh opera houses are but a distant memory.  On the plus side, I’m back to shop sewing after a rather long stint of blind making that’s taken up a lot of the summer and I’m very keen to get things knocked back into shape, so hopefully I’m back on a roll :)

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 :)