Happy Easter…

I forgot the below photo on my recent Tweed Purse post.  For those whose who’ve followed the purses from the beginning, you know well that they are blatantly based on the good old Lindt bunny which is gracing the selves of every supermarket and corner shop in the UK at the moment.  It’s the only product I make that isn’t really my own design in that it was always intended as a tweed version of the very delicious chocolate original, but I like to think it has a Linen Cat twist and so deserves a place in my shop.  Just thought I’d mention it in case you were wondering why they looked so familiar.

I hope everyone is off to a good start to the Easter Holidays?  We’ve been off for nearly 2 weeks now so the boys are going a little stir crazy but the beautiful weather is certainly helping, I can’t imagine what they’d be like stuck indoors.  We’ve been out and about on walks, picnics in the park and a trip to Camber Sands and although it’s been lovely I am suddenly really homesick for the Yorkshire Dales.  It’s just so busy here in Kent, I really miss being able to set off for a walk where you can get away from everything and find a nice peaceful spot for a picnic (around us the land is mainly agricultural or horse pastures so you can’t just potter off as you can at home) and I really, really miss being able to swim in the river.  I am sure these things are possible in Kent in the right places, I guess I was just spoilt as a child having it all on the doorstep.

As I’m being all nostalgic for my childhood and I was asked about the images to the left of my notice board recently I thought I’d chat about them; they are in fact some of the cards from the Happy Families set, illustrated by Racey Helps.  We used to stay with my Gran quite often as children (for those who read here a lot, you’ll already know that my Gran was a great influence and encourager of my sewing and drawing) and a highlight was sitting in her bed in the mornings reading stories, singing songs and playing games.  We used to read all sorts but the main books that fix in my mind are the many with animals dressed in clothing and living in their imaginary worlds.  I have very fond memories of Richard Scarry books and also of Racey Helps and recently started collecting old copies of both.

The Racey Helps appear to be out of print, which is really sad as my boys love the stories

and I adore the images, especially the flower and nature details.

I’m sure it has some influence on the fact I like to create dressed animals amongst my products.  You can find out all about Racey Helps in so many places, I wont chatter on, I just wanted to share my current sideline obsession (well, one of them anyhow) and as they have such a Spring feel it seemed like a good time to post a few photos.

Today, we are getting ready for Easter, the boys have been helping me decorate and tidy, F did the above drawings and I promised him I’d photograph them for my blog, so here you go, a bunny, a lamb and a butterfly….apparently 🙂

Lastly, Create are running an Easter Egg Hunt on the 27th April where you can win an iPad2, it’s a twitter competition and promises to be loads fo fun so do join in if you can and pop over to the link to watch their cute promo videos (my boys love the giant egg, I think they assume it really is made out of chocolate – bless!).

Happy Easter everyone!

Making my life easier: Thinking Ahead

I’ve just ordered some new Liberty Tana Lawn, it’s for a project I’m going to keep for next Spring which I’m aware sounds a little bonkers as we’re not exactly out of this Spring yet, but I’ve spent a lot of time recently thinking about the way I design and make.

It was a real struggle last year to get my Autumn/Winter stock out on time, I didn’t get a lot of sewing done over the Summer holidays (and presume it will be the same this year) and I had thought that come September, when C went into pre-school 4 mornings a week I would suddenly have loads of time to work but it wasn’t really the case.  I never actually caught up and felt quite stressed from the beginning trying to get my planned stock actually made up and listed.

I’ll say now, that I do find it works for me to loosely split my work into two collections, it gives me a focus to work towards and creates a cohesive look for my shop front, it also keeps everything fresh and hopefully customers coming back as they know there will be new products as well as new colours in old favourites.

And so, in an ideal world it would be great to have most of my Winter stock made up (or at least designed and made into samples) BEFORE Autumn.  I say ideally as in reality I feel sure I’ll be rushing around next September with not a lot done.

I find it quite difficult to work out of season, I am heavily influenced by my surroundings; the weather and what’s growing in the garden etc and so this week I’ve been sorting my fabrics into seasonal piles and thinking about exactly what I want to make, where the gaps are and what I need to buy.  It really helps me to focus, I can imagine frosty mornings and Autumn leaves if I have the right fabrics and colours around me and as mentioned at the start of this post, I have things that I planned that never got made last year and were put aside for the next time around so I’d like to make a start on these.

That is the plan and with C starting ‘big school’ next September, for the first time in years I will be able to work full days in my studio.  World domination will be mine 😉

Oh, OK, maybe not but I do hope to be a little less stressed at what is for me the busiest time of the year and I can’t imagine a better way than to have some neat piles of finished work ready for listing well ahead of time.

Can you tell I used to work as a Project Manager?

It goes without saying there will always be things I work on simply because I feel like it, it would be no fun otherwise.

Listed: Bunnies and Birdies…

Finally, after a morning of slight stress and ice cream bribes (entertaining kids and updating your site don’t go together), they are listed.

And…

and…

All to be found here in the Spring Specials section and a few here on Folksy.

I had quite a lot to say about the new bunny purses, I bought the tweed forever ago (in the Winter actually) and have fallen in love with it, there is a beautiful golden fleck that runs through it giving a really nice texture, in fact so nice I’m keeping a Turquoise purse for myself.  I’ve also only finished half the pink batch but really feel I need to get them listed.  I wont say any more, I managed to delete the entire front page of my shop this morning by accident (obviously) and have spent the last hour re-creating it so I need to go and have a click through, make sure everything is working, oh and I’ve added ‘customer accounts’ in the hope it stops people having to add their full address details whenever they buy.  Again, hope it all works as haven’t been able to test it.

Back to the boys….how much longer to go? 😉

Thank you…

Well that was fun, if a little tiring!  We managed to upgrade via Weekend First to sit in the First Class carriage.  I wasn’t sure if they still did this, on the old GNER trains, when I travelled regularly to and from London I often upgraded for what was then £15 to sit in the posh seats and get free coffee.  It turns out they still do allow upgrades, depending on capacity, as the train was very full we were lucky to be allowed the option yesterday.  We drank champagne and ate our nibbles then had a lovely lunch with my Bother, Sister-in-law and Mum before making the return journey.  That was a little less stylish as we ended up standing for the first hour,  luckily (and to blow any myths that I am perfectly presented at all times – I am most definitely not!) I had brought along my trusty slipper socks from Collegien,

they have rubber soles and I’d already figured on swollen feet from so much sitting so I happily changed into them and didn’t take them off until we returned home.  I may have looked  a prat whilst transferring through King’s Cross station but I was comfy!

I also wanted to show you yesterday’s jewellery, as I forgot in the last post.  I wore my  favourite cuff and necklace by Jemima Lumley and a new rose ring from Acorn & Will.

Slight diversion there, now back to the post.  As I don’t have a blogroll, which I often feel guilty about, I wanted to say a quick thanks and hello to everyone that kindly links back to here.  I check my referrals every so often to catch up on any new blogs, I guess it’s obvious but I enjoy reading the posts of people who also read my ramblings, we usually have a lot in common and it’s the best part of blogging; ie ‘meeting’ and chatting (or lurking as I am often guilty of doing) with like minded folk.  So, these are all the referrers from the past couple of weeks, I can’t seem to track further back at the moment but there are some great reads in the list so if you have time do have a click around and if I’ve missed anyone off, really sorry just leave a comment and I’m make sure I mention you next time.

8 Hours on a Train…

I’ve just spent the morning at the hairdressers, I know for lots of people this is quite a relaxing thing to do, but I always feel a bit stressed about ‘wasting’ half a day.  As I get my hair dyed (very red) and cut, it takes a couple of hours or longer (I have very, very short hair) and usually the boys and M are chomping at the bit to get out of the house by the time I return.  Today is a little different as F woke all spotty on Friday morning, he finally has Chicken Pox (C had them a few weeks ago so we have been waiting for F’s turn), he missed his school concert on Friday and is now practicing his man flu skills whilst lounging about demanding attention every 5 mins.  To be fair, he really isn’t a well boy, so I shouldn’t joke, but boy, can he milk it!

It’s quite a mixed post today, we are enjoying the sunshine (a blessing with F now housebound for the next few days) and Spring has truly sprung in the garden with the Tulips and Narcissi in full swing.  I picked the above for C’s key worker as an Easter gift on Friday and attached a little birdie.  There was also some chocolates involved, much to C’s disapproval when he found out he had to give them away as a gift.

I have also been rushing to finish another Amy Butler Weekender Bag, this time for my Sister-in-law as my Sister and I are heading up to Yorkshire tomorrow to surprise my Mother for her Birthday.  It’s a day visit (hence the title) and will involve nearly 8 hours on a train, it’s a shame we can’t stay overnight but both of us have to get back and as a busy Mum, I am quite looking forward to that much time sitting doing nothing.  We will, of course, be travelling in style, my Sister is in charge of bringing champagne and I’ve packed a cool bag with some tasty posh nibbles to make it all the more pleasant.

I have also finally made a flower brooch card for my mother.  I had great intentions of getting these in the shop for Mother’s Day this year….in fact I had meant to get them in there last year, but you know how it goes (slowly, in my case).  I will be making more in other colours and along with some other designs hopefully launching the card section of my shop this Summer.

I have just chosen an outfit for tomorrow, we are leaving early so I need to plan ahead and as I’ll be sitting for so long I want to be comfy but smart enough for our lunch at Middlethorpe Hall.  I’ve just started to unpack my Summer clothing (yep, I pack away for the seasons, I have quite a small wardrobe space so it just makes sense) and found a forgotten about white linen dress, it’s nicely vintage looking and will match my new Chie Mihara shoes which I am totally in love with and plan to wear at every possible occasion.

I’ve also pulled out my Hope and Benson bag, as most of you know I’m firmly attached to my Orla Kiely one for every day but I do like to swap for ‘special’ occasions.

The dress needs a little repair and a good iron so I had best get on with it and his Lordship is calling from his tent in the garden (needs more ice cream, apparently, he tells me it stops the spots itching!!) so I had better get on, with the Easter holidays now here I hope to catch up blog comments and reading over the coming days and I’ll be listing new stock next week after F gets better and daily walks to the post office are possible 🙂

Work in Progress: Cream and Turquoise…

I had a rare, excellent night’s sleep last night and what a difference it makes!  Both boys slept through until 6.30 and there was no insomnia (which I’ve sadly started to get again recently), but today I feel full of energy and I am determined to close out some of my open projects so I can take Easter off to play with the boys and work in the garden.

On my (just cleaned) work bench I have

new lavender birds, half the batch here waiting for their eyes to be stitched on,

Sample bunnies with new heads,

those bloomin’ bunny purses that have been waiting in the wings for an age.  I really want to get these finished and listed this week.

As I’ve just tided my worktop, I wanted to show you some of my new ‘bits’, I do love having things around me when I work that I enjoy to look at and that make me smile, in this case a new Wolfie beaker and Snowflake coasters from Donna Wilson.

The beaker is holding a new batch of 2B pencils, I use these for marking up my patterns and on the side there, my new favourite gadget a  Jakar pencil sharpener.  Now, I know it looks lazy, but as most Mums reading this will know, if you have kids that enjoy drawing you spent a huge amount of time trying to a. find the pencil sharpener (even though I own about 10) and b. sharpening pencils.  I have been on the hunt for an old school vintage desktop one for ages but gave up and bought this new one instead.  I can’t link to the shop as you’d be shocked at the price but oh my, it was a dream to use and I spent a happy 30 mins sharpening every pencil in the house, I was in geek heaven 🙂

Lastly, as it’s very dull and wet outside, I’ve just switched on my little rabbit hospital light that was my bedside lamp as a child; I do love it, there were a number of years when I couldn’t get lightbulbs, but with the selection you can buy these days that’s no longer a problem,

I used to be fascinated by the interior scene when I was younger.  My sister has a mushroom house with mice, I think, equally cute and retro.

As it’s Tuesday I get the whole day to work, it’s the only one where C is at pre-school for the full day, it quite excites me (as well as saddens me, where has the time gone?) that all my week days will be like this from September onwards, I will miss having his cheery little face around but I can’t wait to work on TLC full-time.  On which note, I do hope everyone got the school places they were wishing for?  It’s such a hard thing to go through, we are lucky to get a sibling place this year but I feel for anyone who is unhappy with their given school, you really have my full sympathy.

Right, back to work, it wont sew itself 🙂

Sale Bunnies…

I hope all you Mothers out there had a lovely weekend (any everyone else, of course!).  M forgot, which is fine, we aren’t much into holidays in general around here and I think as I received flowers for the first time this year for Valentine’s that’s pretty decent going, besides the boys had both made me cards at school/pre-school which was lovely (I’ll point out now that M made up for it by being on parent duty all weekend and he has been away with work, only returning on Friday so I let him off).

We had our first BBQ on Sunday, after an attempt to visit the Museum of Kent Life on Saturday, which we abandoned in favour of Groombridge (it was way too busy, Groombridge was lovely) we decided to stay at home and avoid the crowds.  It was a whole blissful day in the garden with the kids running about in t-shirts, I even mowed the lawn for the first time this year!

Right, enough chatter, on with the post.  I’ve been having a good look at my stock and have decided that the Wool Bunnies need a re-design so all remaining ones are now in the SALE section.  I will be adding more stock over the coming weeks, including some samples.  I’m not sure when the new bunnies will be ready, probably not until later in the year so snap these originals up whilst you can 🙂