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).

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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.

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

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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.

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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).

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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.
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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 ;)
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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.

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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.

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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!!

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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 :)

I hate Openreach….

Let’s just get to the point in the title.  We have an underground fault just near my house, directly after the main box, it’s basically a junction that some muppet tarmaced over some years ago and when it rains, the water gets in and loads of people lose their phone line and internet, I am the first house in line to it’s easy to pinpoint exactly where the problem is.  I reported the fault in December 2013 and fought a battle with various people, including management at the phone company and Openreach to get it fixed, but it involves traffic lights and a possible road closure and each time they apply to the council, the sun shines, the ground dries up and the computer says fault ‘fixed’ (I am told) and the proposed work plans stop.  Then it rains again…..

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There’s a lot more to this story (I am the bane of my phone and internet company, they pass me around so they can each take it in turns to deal with me, I’m afraid the ‘project manager’ bit of me just doesn’t get why Openreach pour money into sending out engineers daily, but wont actually fix the fault, and insist that a temporary, intermittent service is acceptable, even after a year.  There’s also a whole bit about a temporary line to try and keep me happy that the wild rabbits keep chewing through, but that’s a whole other story).  ‘Chocolate’ and ‘teapot’ springs to mind.  Suffice to say, it’s been raining a lot and sadly we have been without internet and phone lines on and off for a while, but today – hurrah! – the internet, at least, is on, so I’m rushing out a quick blog post to say hello and try to do a catch-up.

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Christmas was wonderful, one of the best in fact.  We were lucky to be invited out to France to stay in my sister and BIL’s chalet.  The boys and I had our first skiing lessons…..I’m a natural ;) (ha ha, well I wasn’t awful, anyway) and we really loved it, so we will be hitting Chatham dry slopes to get up to standard, before we move permanently out to live in France (just kidding V).  My brother and his wife also came along, our first Christmas together since Mum died, it was really special to be with my siblings, I just wish we all lived closer together and could see each other more often.  I got my vintage glad rags on for the day itself and meant to take a photo but never did, this headshot selfie is the best I have.

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I’m sorry the images in this post are quite ‘festive’ looking, I know that come the new year, everyone’s moved on from red and gold, but I wanted to show some of the things given and received.  Sneaked in at the top there (so you didn’t get too bored of my moaning about effing Openreach without a photo to soften the rant) is an Isak ‘Tingleby’ serving set, bought as a gift.  I love these pieces, I have a platter myself, bought some years ago, and I use my own little dishes daily.

DSC_0151Above, the genius fun gifts from BIL, involving a 1970’s quiz and relevant prizes.  I won a bottle of ‘Charlie Gold‘, which is hilarious and smells just as I remember (it’s quite scary, my advice would be to only spray it in large open spaces, we all nearly choked on the mix of that and the ‘High Karate’ which my brother won) and some Bazooka gum.  The sweet lip balms (bought via Amazon) are nothing to do with Christmas gifts, I bought them as pinata prizes quite recently but they are great fun, really do smell like the relevant sweets and I thought would be ideal cracker gifts for next year, if you’re making your own.banglesAbove, is a gift received, some beautiful celluloid bangles that I had on my ‘wish list’, from Passionate About Vintage.

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I also got this Esther Williams swim suit (clearly NOT me in the photo!).  I already have it in red but this is the very best swim suit I’ve ever found for my *ahem* curvier figure, that also has a retro vibe about it and as I swim with the boys every week, it was right up there on my list.

DSC_0156Again, in given was this little bundle from the amazing Etsy shop Jurooma.  I’ve blogged about the beautiful felt work from here before, and specifically about the minimalist, but delightful packaging.DSC_0169 Inside is lots of felted goodness.DSC_0171 Including a poppy for my Aunt.  I have a similar one and always get lovely comments when I wear it on my winter coat.DSC_0176I’d originally planned to use the berries as part of the gift packaging, but then I thought it might detract from the fact that each piece is handmade and individual so I gave them wrapped in their original bags and ribbons.

DSC_0146 Finally, a couple of gifts from me to me, just because.  This beaded pouch, which now holds my make-up came from Anthropologie.  I got it on offer when I was buying other gifts to give, yet again it reminds me how hard it is to compete with mass marketed loveliness that is available out there these days.

il_570xN.694098073_sgr7And not exactly new, I’ve owned it quite a long while now but I know I’ve never blogged about it, a vintage, hand-knitted 1960’s jumper from Zest vintage.  I have shown a similar sweater, that also came from Zest, and which travelled to France with me this year, but I’m wearing this little number today as it’s a bit nippy.  I always get stung on the custom tax when I order from Zest (I don’t mind paying the tax, it’s the handling fee that gets me) but even with that added on, I really do think for such a beautiful hand knitted jumper, which I plan to own and wear for years, it’s worth it.

I hope to try and do some blog reading whilst the internet is playing ball, I haven’t opened the shop back up yet as I’m too nervous that I wont easily be able to process orders when it goes back off and with the forecast rain and snow (oh, yes please to the snow!) I imagine it will be a bit erratic for a while.  Wish me luck :)

PS, I should say, the phone engineers are all lovely, I’ve never met one that hasn’t tried to be helpful, it’s just the organisation that needs sorting out.  Seriously, they need a decent project manager on board…..wonder where you’d find one of those ;)