Nice and tidy….not!

Before I get into this blog post, huge thanks everyone who has left a comment on the Blog Birthday Giveaway, it’s really lovely (gush, gush) to hear from you all, still plenty of time to enter and win a cute Linen Mouse if you haven’t left a comment already.

Thanks, also, for your get well wishes for the boys, there are both back on tip top form and it’s great to have everyone healthy for a change (cross finger & toes do a hop, turn around etc).  The relay of sickness in this house has meant both plenty of time to sew (as I’ve been stuck in the kichen/living room attending to the every whim of the boys) and yet no time at all, if that makes sense.  I have found myself standing around, rapping my fingernails but cannot leave the area to come upstairs and use the machine or my studio as quite a lot of cuddling and general Mumminess has been required.  So I have spent this time prepping projects and hand sewing, I could have cleaned the kitchen, of course, but I would much rather sew!

I took a quick photo this morning before starting a general ‘tidy up’ to show you how messy things were getting

it’s like a Jenga tower of work, I tried to remove some paper from the bottom of the ‘pile’ and everything started to topple, still it’s all back upstairs in the studio now and I have made a little order of the mayhem.

I’ve mainly been sewing beady little eyes onto the remainder of the spring birds, they just need to be mounted on cards and photographed ready for the shop (I am waiting for a new long armed hole punch to arrive).  These have proved so much fun to make I have plenty more planned

I really enjoy picking the ribbon colours for the tails, I think the number of small jobs involved making up the birds is part of the attraction, I can spread the work over a number of days and it’s easy to pick up if I only have half an hour or so.

I do now have a large bag full of the off cuttings of felt that I can’t manage to throw away.  I feel sure they will come in handy for something, the yellow have already been used for birdy beaks and I have a new project in mind for small circles cut from some of the larger trimmings.

Right, I need to get back to work, my sister has just invited herself over to stay as she has no hot water or heating at the moment (she lives 5 mins away and generally prefers to ‘drop in’ around the time she knows we are eating!) so I have bedding to change and plenty more tidying to do.  I did want to mention I have had problems leaving comments on Blogspot blogs, it’s all sorted now but please don’t think I am being rude by not saying, “hello”.

Blog Birthday Giveaway…

It appears I have been writing this blog for exactly a year (whoo-hoo) and to celebrate I am giving away one of the new Linen Mice.  It’s nice and simple, all you have to do is leave a comment before Midnight (GMT), Friday, 5th February and please be sure that I can contact you via the comment.  I am happy to post worldwide (although worldwide postage will be by regular Airmail so may take a while) and  I will remember not to reply to comments this time (duh!) so that I can use a random number generator to pick the winner.

Nice and straight forward.  Sorry for the brief post, both boys managed to get sick over the weekend so we’re running a little behind here and I am in Nurse Mummy mode, but I didn’t want the occasion to pass by without a mention, especially as blogging has opened a whole new world for me and I love it.

Good luck!

Linen Mice…

I love Ocado, there is a feeling of satisfaction having a fridge well stocked with nice food and I’m afraid in my case not having to take the kids with me shopping.  The only hard bit is getting the bags emptied quicker than Charlie can remove all the things he wants to eat, seriously, I am amazed how much a 2 yr old can pack away.

Mr C started Pre-School yesterday, there has been a delay to the new term due to road works, I have been waiting for this moment for 5 years it will be my first regular time alone and please don’t think I am wishing my children’s early years away, I am aware how precious this time is but I am more than ready for a little time to myself.  So what did I do, dance around the house to loud music whilst sipping a mini bottle of Champagne, watch day time TV other than Cbeebies?  No, rather pathetically I did some sewing and not a lot of it at that.  I sat down and suddenly it was time to pick Mr C up, where did the time go?!  He had a great time by the way, after the initial tears just to make me feel guilty he was, “brilliant” apparently.

Shall we get to the photos?

I stitched together the first batch of mice, sadly my dyeing session of unusable linen didn’t improve it enough so I have some on order (in brown), but the first 2 colour ways are up, boys in Kaffe Fassett’s Asha in grey with royal blue cord shorts and girls wearing Dots dresses in magenta.

After the recent pattern tweaking, I ended up back at almost the original, with the neck a little wider to allow space for the stuffed arms and legs to fit inside.  When I see the above photo I tut at myself for cutting the corners, it weakens the seam and when making costumes is a big no-no.  Old habits die hard, but it was difficult to get the corner shape without a trim.

I love the ‘road kill’ shot, I had to resist the urge to stuff them as I went along, just so I could take a photo of the piles of flat little mice.

I am really pleased with the finished result, I was worried they may end up a bit twee and not fit in with my other designs but I think they have kept a ‘funky’ feel (or I hope so).

The light was awful this morning so these aren’t great photos and please excuse that fact that they are not stitched up yet on the sides but I had decided to have a no sewing day and get down to some house tidying.  It’s all getting a bit out of control and I am slightly jealous of the number of spring cleaning bloggers out there, I do feel much more relaxed when it’s not such a tip but have a habit of putting housework last on my list.  On which note, I had better get on as it’s already lunchtime, oh, thanks for all your lovely comments it really is nice to read what you think, makes me feel a bit more connected.

Awards and the perfect fabric…

First I wanted to say a huge thank you to Nerys over at Crafty Jemima for passing along  the ‘Sunshine Blog Award’.  I was most definitely not a little ray of sunshine that day, I was a grumpy old bag to be honest so it cheered me up no end to be on her list of 12, go read about her other choices here (I was in very good company!).  It also shamed me into remembering that Anne of Andamento passed along a ‘Kreativ Blogger’ award agggggeeees ago (read here) and I never told you, or linked back to her (really sorry Anne).  It’s one of my failings, I need to reply to emails and texts asap or they get missed in the mayhem of life with young children.  Back to the point, thank you ladies for thinking of me when you chose your blogs, I will be passing them along, but need to take time to find bloggers on my list who haven’t received them already, I just wanted to say thank you whilst it’s fresh in my mind.

Right, on to the second part of todays waffle, the perfect fabric.  Don’t you just love it when you match the perfect fabric with a project you are working on?  For instance, the Liberty Tana Lawn that I use for Wool Baby Bunnies is just right for the dresses, but wouldn’t work for the Linen Cats, they need a quilting weight and I seem to favour Japanese prints (mainly Kokka), or fabrics with a retro feel.

So I was very pleased when my little bundle of Kaffe Fassett fabrics arrived from Saints and Pinners and I just knew they were perfect for the Linen Mice.  I have never taken much notice of them before, they have never appealed but I am suddenly in love with both the Dots and Asha prints.

Lastly my fabric arrived back with M from the US, I can only order small amounts as he generally travels with a small bag but it’s so much cheaper, so here we have:

Alexander Henry In the Kitchen Fabric, Apples and Pears in Blue

Alexander Henry In the Kitchen Fabric, Apples and Pears in White

Alexander Henry Monkey’s Bizness Fabric, 2D Zoo in Primary

Girl Friday by Cosmo Cricket, Flowers and Butterflies in Green

Michael Miller, Joyful Damask in Lime

all from the Fabric Closet and mostly destined for Linen Cat dresses (oh, yes, I use quite a lot of Alexander Henry fabrics here as well).

I see the Shopping man in his nice Ocado van arriving, so best dash.  I have a Linen Mouse post to follow.

Bunny Egg Cosy…

Last night I finished the first batch of Bunny Egg Cosies so I’ve just taken a quick photo for the blog.  A real photo session will be needed but I’ll wait until I’ve made up some other new designs and the light is better.

It is pretty much as doodled last year in my sketch book (optimistically entitled ‘Easter’ I noted…I only made a fraction of the designs up as I ran out of time).

They have cute red herringbone brushed cotton linings to keep the eggs cosy and I even used my new scary maroon labels.

The labels have been inserted into the lining side seam, on the original Egg Cosies I stitched them flat into the back but it’s quite time consuming to do it neatly and get them straight.

They are a bit ‘Winter’ looking and not very ‘Spring’ like if you know what I mean.  I am torn between a kind of  fairytale-woodland-creature-deep-red and a more modern pale-linen-against-bright-cotton design style at the moment.  It could be the snow that’s throwing me back into Winter colours (or the fact that it is, after all, Winter!) but I like to try and keep a ‘collection’ feel about my designs so need to get into a colour palette and stick to it.  I am also running out of the beloved Lecien ‘My Folklore’ fabric used above for the ears, which I also use on the Cashmere Bears so need to go easy on that.

In the meantime I am waiting for M to return from the US (Hurrah!  Thai take away, wine and a huge backlog of TV to watch tonight, Lost, House, Heros, Wallander…have I ever mentioned my addiction to US TV shows?  Don’t think less of me ;)), he is also bringing back some fabric I ordered on Etsy which I am most excited about.

I am in the process of dying linen for the new mice in the machine.  I used to love dying fabric when I was designing and making costumes, I could spend many a happy hour mixing colours but it’s not the same doing it in your own washing machine.  The last lot I did was a dark navy and I swear, no matter how many cleaning washes I did the dye was there for weeks, seeping into my whites.  I said then I wouldn’t do it again but I made a mistake buy a while ago of a large amount of natural Linen, I then made it  worse by over washing it causing pilling.  I’m hoping a dye session followed by some good ironing will make is useable, we’ll see I guess.

Right, best get the house into order before M gets home.

Projects in process…

It’s warmed up today and after a few more inches of snow yesterday, we now have a snowy drippy mess.  I am quite looking forward to seeing what’s left of my garden once the final bit has gone and I’m happy, for now, to say goodbye even though I’ve loved every minute of the Winter Wonderland we have been experiencing.

One thing I will be grateful for is the delivery services getting back to normal, UPS were happily holding onto a number of parcels and the post is a rather slow, as a result I have to keep stopping mid project.

I was waiting quite a while for the new labels, as above, which I’d hoped to use in the spring birds.  They are a slightly scary maroon colour with gold lettering but I needed a colour that would ‘mingle’ with the ribbon tails of the birds and allow me to add a tag without it being too intrusive.  In the end I decided not to use them, I will on next winters birds but they didn’t look right here.

(The labels come from Woven Labels, I normally use orange or green lettering on a white background, also I had just been kneading bread on the below photo so please excuse my grubby nails)

So, having waited a few weeks for the labels I am no longer using (duh!) I got to work on putting the first batch of birds together, only to run out of stuffing.

Yellow are done and the rest are waiting half finished for their stuffing and marathon bead eye stitching session, then I will need to wait for a sunny day to photograph them.

I wanted to mention the amazingly cheap plastic ‘boxes’ I’m using from Ikea.  They are part of my new organised self,  I’m very lucky to have a studio space even if it also serves as our spare room but I do frequently move between the kitchen table and the studio, due to being a full-time Mum and having to go where they boys need to be.  The stacking boxes make life a lot easier, I can keep projects separate and empty the kitchen table quickly for eating.

The lack of stuffing means I’ve also had to halt the Linen Mouse project, even though the fabric and dye have arrived.  Thanks for all your advice, I am sticking with the mouse design with stitched ears (which I was supposed to do before fully stuffing the original) and a bit of pattern tweaking.  I love being able to ask advice via blog, sometimes I feel a little isolated in my own small creative world and the whole blog thing helps me feel connected.  I love this online community.

After a bit of thumb twiddling boredom mingled with the guilt of knowing I should be tackling the mountain of housework I started on new egg cosies, rabbits to go with the existing mice.

Right, best get on, they wont stitch themselves up!

Is it a mouse, a cat, a bear…?

For those who know my work, The Linen Cat started with, in fact, a linen bunny which quickly progressed to a cat and these are still my favourite things, I especially love the mix of linen against the bright cotton prints.  The cats/bunnies are, however, one of the most expensive things that I sell as there is a lot of work and fabric involved (all the tweed trousers and dresses are removable and lined) and although I go to every length to make sure they are hard wearing and washable the buttons mean I have to state they are unsuitable for children under 36 months.  I have thought for a while about making something that mixes the same combination of fabrics but is a bit smaller, simpler in construction and young child friendly and also has a hint of my mouse egg cosy.

Some designs are very organic and ‘just happen’, others I think about, draw down and tweak a lot before I am happy.  In this case my starting point was the linen cats/bunnies, the mouse egg cosy and existing patterns (as I have written before I like to try and keep some continuity with shapes and sizes – the latter to make easier packaging and posting!).

Pattern one is based on the one used for the Wool Bunnies, and it’s passable but not right.  The head doesn’t work, I quite like slightly weird shaped heads but I know from sales, not to go too abstract.  By the way, the cute owl fabric is from the new additions at Fabric Rehab and was an extra sent to me on my last order (thanks Sally), I am rather smitten and will have to buy more.

Apart from the head shape, I struggled to stitch up the body, there wasn’t enough room to tuck the arms and legs in (the legs in the corners of the triangle dress were a nightmare) so I have made pattern two wider at the top and I’ve moved the legs in a bit.

I am also trying out new heads in cotton, so I can draw on them and not waste good linen and also because the shapes change so much once stuffed.  I think the cat is the winner but I am worried about making my lovely full size Linen Cats redundant if there is a cheaper smaller more ‘young child’ friendly version.  As always any opinions greatly appreciated.

Hummm, plenty to think on, in the meantime I am waiting for fabric ordered for the project and I need to pre-wash and dye some existing linen.  Little mouse has gone to live on the shelf with some of my other samples…she may get buttons on her dress, just for fun, at a later date.