Beautiful gifts…again

I love fountain pens.  I went to a very small (less than 20 kids) village primary school, where we were taught to write with old fashioned dip fountain pens…not all the time, just once in a while as one of the now slightly odd things we learnt at my primary school (we also learnt French, did Yoga indoors when outside gym was rained off, and had lunch outside on sunny days by taking all the tables out).  When I went to the local girls grammar my Aunt bought me a blue Parker 25 with my name engraved on the side.  I think this was the usual ‘going to secondary school’ present as everyone had them and like everyone else, I regularly left it on my desk with the lid off so it fell and crushed the nib.  I gave up, besides they stopped selling the nibs.

A few years ago I mentioned I would like a fountain pen and my lovely husband bought me for Christmas, a vintage Parker Vacumatic, I was very, very pleased.  He also printed out all the info so I could date my pen (the case was made in 1939 but it was put together during the WW2), didn’t he do well?  big round off applause for that one.  I bought myself some nice Mocha Parker writing ink…then some more as the shop told me it was being discontinued…in fact I bought their remaining supply along with some green.  

As I always say, it’s all in the detail for me and so I like to write any messages etc on my Linen Cat orders in green ink but I worry about dropping my Parker Vac or the kids getting hold of it if I leave it for a moment unattended so last week I treated myself to a ‘new’ vintage Parker Aerometric 51 in green (it was £35 so not too bad a price and made in the 50’s or 60’s) at the same time I managed to buy some new nibs for my old Parker 25 so now I have 3 lovely working fountain pens.

I realise this isn’t much of a crafty subject but I think vintage pens make really nice presents, especially for men who can be very hard to buy for.

The two sites I use are:

The Battersea Pens Home

Vintage Fountain Pens

Do I have enough fountain pens..?

Do I have enough fountain pens..?

I definitely have enough ink!

I definitely have enough ink!

I think the postman might collapse under the weight of my deliveries…

He’s not exactly a spring chicken and the wind here over the past few days was ferocious, he sort of leans into it whilst being weighed under with my parcels.

Here are some of my recent purchases:

New print from Emily Martin/The Black Apple

New print from Emily Martin/The Black Apple

I don’t normally buy prints as we still have all our pictures and photos in boxes, waiting for us to finish the house before putting on the walls (only three years on!) but I fell in love with this one from Emily Martin / The Black Apple on Etsy and think it will look great framed on the wall in my studio, I am loving the free bookmark.

Nora's Chihaha

Nora's Chihaha

Nora has started making Amiguruni animals and I couldn’t resist this Chihaha, how cute is he?

Traffic jam bunting

Traffic jam bunting

I bought this fantastic traffic jam bunting from Nicky at nickynackynoo on Folksy, it’s perfect for Charlie’s B-Day (which was last week) as he is a big fan of cars and in particular his toy London Red Bus.  Beep, beep!

 

Mrs Eliot Books/Francesca Iannaccone

Mrs Eliot Books/Francesca Iannaccone

These lovely cards and tea towel (wrapped, as it arrived this way but is a present so I am leaving it in the perfect wrapping) arrived this morning from Mrs Eliot Books/Francesca Iannaccone.  I really like her graphics work, it was Francesca who nominated me as a Folksy Featured Seller but I had already clocked her work and had a few cards I planned to buy amongst other things.

 

Doris and Sydney

Doris and Sydney

Finally, Doris and Sydney the hedgehogs – how cute are they!  Both are made by Sara Carr and I am so in love with Sydney I’m not sure I will be able to part with him.

All lovely things and it makes me feel good to support my fellow crafters/artists.

The Machines in my Life…

I am not adverse to using the odd machine.  I am permanently attached to either a laptop or sewing machine (as, I’m sure are most of you reading this) and I broke the bread hook on my Kitchen Aid making too many batches of bread last year.  It’s not that I don’t love the long way round, I always do a little hand kneading and on occasion bake cakes the old fashioned way instead of the throw it all in a mixer method, it’s just that like most people I have a busy life and trying to fit it all in can be a bit of a squeeze.  

I am also a bit of a perfectionist and this includes my sewing.  I hate raw seams (unless it’s intended of course) and so spend a long, long time working out construction that hides everything, double stitching seams and pushing my machine to it’s zig-zag limit.  Linen cat and bunny dresses are fully lined in white cotton, the internal seams on the tweed trousers are bound in bias binding etc, etc all to achieve a finish I can be proud of but at the cost of lots of extra time.  I have pined after an overlocker since I was a student where we had a room full of industrial machines at our disposal including (now antiquated) overlockers.  I was a student a rather a long time ago and overlockers cost an insane amount back then, had to be industrial and were impossible to thread.  Things have changed so much since then and I decided the time saved made the purchase worthwhile so it was in high squeal, hand clapping, jump up and down on the spot (you get the picture) excitement that I unpacked my lovely new Bernina 1150 last week…then packed it up again after discovering a crack in the hand wheel and waiting patiently for the replacment to arrive.  It did, it was bank holiday weekend, I was not allowed to play 😦

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When I did sneak some time to unpack my new purchase I suddenly had a mild panic that I had wasted a lot of money and for some reason I also felt a bit sad.  I have been using the same old beloved Bernina 1001 sewing machine since my Gran bought it for me during my Degree course (ex-display and even then cost £400…I still have the receipt).  She knew I couldn’t afford one myself, but as I planned to specialise in costume design in my final year (I did a Theatre Design Degree) I really needed a machine so she kindly bought me one.  It’s not fancy by modern machine standards but it has served me well over the years and I have no intention of changing it.  

The first sewing machine I ever used was a manual hand turning one that had belonged to my Great Aunt (see photo).  It’s cool, I still have it and it still works (I took it to primary school where I used it in sewing lessons, yep, we had sewing lessons how weird is that!?).  I also used treadel sewing machines at home (I wasn’t brought up in an episode of Victorian Farm, we just had two old treadle machines in the attic, no idea why, they had probably always been there) and so it feels a bit like cheating to use an overlocker at home, despite designing and making many costumes using them, but ohhh how nice it is.  I spent yesterday zooming around linen cushion pieces at such a pace, leaving a lovely tidy edge with no fray.  I’m won over and once I have understood the Krypton Factor like instructions there will be no stopping me. 

A thing of beauty

The new over locker came from Jaycottes.  This model (Bernina 1150) costs pretty much the same everywhere and I couldn’t find any ex-display  models I fancied.  They were very apologetic about the hand wheel being cracked, it had come direct from the manufacturer and Jaycottes arranged a next day swap.  I feel happy that I have an overlocker that will last me for years, making it’s price well worth it.

Birthday Bunny…

Both of the boys have Birthdays coming up (Charlie turns 2, Felix 4) and whilst planning cakes and presents and wondering where the time has gone, I realised that The Linen Cat, or at least the linen bunny as my first shop creation actually was, must also be a year old as I made the original between their birthdays last year.  

I try quite hard to design things that I really enjoy but that will also appeal to others and my linen bunnies went through a number of re-designs before reverting back to the original, as I feared they were a little too quirky (they have been described as goats and ugly amongst other things).  I made the first bunny from some linen left over from our kitchen curtains and some stuffing from a cushion I was throwing out.  It had button eyes from my Gran’s button jar and trousers made from old corduroy fabric and was based on a child’s drawing.  I fell in love and figured other people might like the bunny too.  I then tried the same bunny smaller, with straight legs with slightly different shaped heads and then in cat form.  I was very enthusiastic to use reclaimed fabrics and especially buttons but I realised pretty swiftly that I had a particular taste in fabric (namely funky bright cotton prints, linens and tweeds) and that old button tins are not that easy to come by as they are quite sort after (although Bex over at Bex Buttons always does well with her finds).

Bunny evolution

Bunny evolution - the original samples

I don’t sell as many bunnies as cats, I understand why but I really enjoyed making new ones last week to replenish the shop.  I also don’t sell as many boys as girls but I am still lightly in love with the boys trousers and the way they fit around the cat and bunny tails, it’s one of my favourite details.  

New Linen Bunny
New Linen Bunny

Linen Cat back button

Overall, the linen cats and bunnies are still my favourite things and I think back fondly of creating that first bunny and where it has now lead me.

Happy Birthday Boys and Happy Birthday Bunny!

Folksy Featured Sellers for May…

I was very excited on Sunday morning to receive an message from Fancesca of MrsEliotBooks saying she had picked me as one of Folksy’s four May featured sellers.  As you can read in her blog I am in good company; with Under The Stairs Studios, Zebedee, and Dolly Knits as her other choices.  

It’s especially nice to have been picked by someone who works in a different area.  Francesca makes beautiful prints, cards and stationary; I had already noticed Francesca’s work and have taken a shine to some of her lovely concertina cards amongst others.  Of course, the email lead to a frantic panic to quickly check my Folksy shop was in order and some hasty changing of photos whilst also getting the kids ready for a trip to friends in London for a BBQ (I am the Queen of multi-tasking).  I am pretty new to selling on Folksy and have yet to fully get to grips with it all, but I love the idea of so many different artists and crafters having a place to showcase and sell their work and I am thrilled to be part of that.

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