Still here…

The Easter holidays were crappy.  Best not dwell.  Let’s just move on…

I have pretty much decided to go ahead with the plan to concentrate on autumn/winter products, and in that way always work a season out of synch, in the hope it allows me to run The Linen Cat on a more professional (not sure that’s exactly the right word, but you know what I mean) level.  It’s going well, I feel more organised already, but that might be partly just letting go of the nagging ‘these should have been done by now’ feeling….on the down side, it means no monster purses, tween bunny purses, linen mice specials and many other things I had hoped to re-stock by now, but I can live with that if it means, come September, I am fully ready for the ‘busy season’.


I had an entirely different post planned, pictures taken an all, but it involves a bit more sewing that I’m avoiding so I figured I had better drop in and say ‘hello’ in some form or many of you might think I’ve dropped off the planet, so instead I’m showing these beautiful new books that I recently bought.

DSC_0052It shows the power of Amazon, as both were in the suggested area whilst I was last-minute gift shopping and I could tell by the covers that they were exactly the kind of books I’d like.  I love Stumpwork, I have some half-finished kits that I bought just to learn the process and a couple of other books that are less….stylized?…in their presentation.


I haven’t had a chance to try anything yet, so I can’t say if the technique instructions are good, but I love how both books look and their contained projects.  Butterflies and Moths by Jane Nicholas also has a great deal of information on the biology of each moth and the history of moths and butterflies in illustrations etc, etc.  It’s a real all-rounder and I’m in love with it already.  I fear the Stumpwork sample I had started (that shows a butterfly on a flower) might get abandoned as these are sooooo much nicer.


The Stumpwork Flowers book (by Sachiko Morimoto) is equally pretty, and contains some lovely project ideas for using the finished embroidery.  I’m not sure if I ever mentioned it, but a degree in Textiles (with the idea to specialise in embroidery) was my alternative choice to the Theatre Design, Costume one that I opted for, in fact I was sure for all my final years of school it was the direction I’d go in and I did get offered a place (at Loughborough University).  I often wonder if I’d have been happier, although at the time, I felt like my work wasn’t free enough and I wasn’t convinced I’d be any good at it long term, this was in the 80’s grunge era, and I think a lot of the textile work also had a grunge style element, I don’t remember anyone being very traditional with their style but then this was before the good old internet so my exposure was limited.


What else?  I’ve been super naughty and chased some Crown Devon on Ebay.  I couldn’t resist, well actually I did resist lots and kept myself quite restrained but I do love the green version, there’s something about the mint colour that appeals.

(sorry about the photo quality, the light here is dreadful now that summer has finished 😉 )


Also, I am sewing some projects other than winter ones.  At the moment it’s all about aprons.  I know to take my time over these or I’ll get apron fatigue and stop enjoying the process, especially when it comes to sewing meters and meters of folded bias binding onto the edges.

I’m away some of next week, all on my own, for a bit of a deserved break.  I’ve never been away completely on my own for more than a night since getting married and having a family, actually I’m sure that’s not true, I’m sure I’ve been at home on my tod, but never away on a short holiday…either way I’m really looking forward to it.  I’ll be staying in Yorkshire, minus a car, and plan to walk every day, come rain or shine (and it says rain in the forecast right now).  The bonus of Ocado now delivering in the Dales is I have the cottage set up as one of my addresses, so I can order all the food in advance, cadge a lift from my brother from train to the cottage and then don’t have to leave.  I may get bored, but I don’t think so, I enjoy my own company.  I had ideas of living in a lighthouse for months on end when I was a teenager, it’d probably suit me, or at least if would if I didn’t have a family I’d now miss too much.  Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy being around other people and partied my way through my 20’s whilst living in London but I also enjoy a bit of space for myself and really relished living on my own back then, in my own flat.

DSC_0100 DSC_0101

Best get on, walking waterproofs to find, travelling sewing box to get together and lists to write for M of the boys schedule, so he remembers to pick them up from school!  We’ve a busy weekend, belated B-Day lunch  for C (don’t you just love the ‘happy face’ kids make when opening presents) and Eurovision (because it’s a tradition, and I HAVE to watch it) at my Sister’s, then yet more bike/triathlon races for M on Sunday followed by my early start Monday…..4 hours on trains all on my own…bliss 🙂



26 thoughts on “Still here…

  1. What did happen to the traditional crafts and traditional embroidery? So glad things have changed..Love Charlie’s face – obviously a wise choice of present!! Have a fab time away..jealous! xxxxx

    • I’m glad too, I love the whole ‘modern take on traditional’ thing….and true traditional as well to be honest, with my vintage hoarding tendencies (but I’m not mad keen on twee). I love watching kids open gifts, it can go wrong though, as they tend to show when they are disappointed as well! Bxx

  2. Love your books Beth, I love traditional embroidery, the moths and butterflies are amazing!
    Your Hb would love it over here this weekend, we have the start of the Giro d’Italia, big excitement, everything’s pink, my Hb is in his element, although not in pink I might add! 😉
    Enjoy your well earned break! 🙂

    • He’d be like a pig in muck V! In fact, he used this as his example against stereo colour dressing and as to why it’s more than OK for men to wear pink to Felix (who in the past has generally favoured brighter red/pink style colours but has just fallen into the trap of thinking them only for girls and refuses anything except blue now….which is fine, BTW, whatever he prefers, I guess). See you when I’m back 🙂 Bx

  3. I’m so pleased you are going to have a ‘me’ break soon Beth 🙂 how lovely and very well deserved! I’m always saying to my mum she should do the same as lookin after a family is hard work and you should have a well deserved break, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it 🙂

    I love your beautiful books, especially the butterfly one! I’ve never heard of stump work before, so I will have a look about it, I think you will love making the embroideries 🙂 I too often wonder if I should have done a different course at uni (I did MA drawing but sometimes I wish I’d done surface pattern design or gone into textile design) not complaining, I’m very lucky I got to study, it so expensive now, but I know what you mean.
    I love your beautiful plates Beth, I am on the look out for some nice china, ours is so boring (ikea white)! I too have been naughty and bought a couple of books this month as a treat, feel guilty but it’s good to have something nice to read. Im also loving the look of your deer apron, lovely pink and flowers! Have a wonderful holiday Beth, safxxx

    • Hello Saf 🙂

      I’ve never really had the chance for a proper break, although I have been on holiday for a couple of nights with my Sister in past years, so that’s not really true, but M is at home at the moment (due to deciding to resign from his job to start something on his own) so I’m taking advantage. I did consider doing a week long course, I have done millinery at the London College of Fashion (beginner, advanced and a period millinery one) before I had the boys but they are soooo expensive and the cottage in Yorkshire is free, due to it being my Sister’s and her being generous enough to let us stay there, plus the courses only run in holidays and I’m not sure M could cope with the boys at home full-time! At Foundation level, they thought I should go into Textiles, pattern design, but I didn’t fancy it at the time….plus I really loved the idea of learning to design costumes and, more importantly, to pattern cut and make them and I did enjoy learning about set design as well. I just didn’t enjoy working for free when I first left college, I needed to pay my bills so it was never a winner and it’s not a great career with kids as it’s very ‘out of hours’….great fun though, when you’re younger.

      I’m so excited about my break away, but as I type it’s tipping it down and I’m wondering if I’ll be quite so keen after 3 hours of walking in the rain on windswept hills….still, at least I’ll have earned my wine and dinner 🙂 Bethxx

      • Oh have a great time, don’t worry about the rain, it will be lovely 🙂 I’m at home at the mo doing house work and wishing I could escape somewhere, your very lucky! It’s well deserved though, I see what my mum has to do all the time and like you it must be hectic with children and sometimes you need to make yourself a priority and think it will do all good in the end 🙂 good luck to M, I’m sure he won’t regret it. My dad owns his own computer company and he loves it. He left a good job when he was young to pursure his dreams and hasnt looked back. He’s a workaholic but he passionately loves it so its good to have your own business 🙂

        I know what you mean about the textiles courses, I have often thought about doing a mini course to see how I’d do and whether I could get a more creative job but then I think it would cost a fortune and I’m trying still to save for a depostit for a mortgage, so it probably wouldn’t work out. I’d love to see how you get on with your stump work Beth, you are a talented so and so and I really don’t think you’d need to take a course in any of it, I think you’ll create lovely things with your own flair. Have a wonderful time in the dales 🙂 Safxxx

  4. Those books on stump work embroidery look amazing Beth. I’m sure all those pretty butterflies, moths and flowers are giving you plenty of inspiration too.
    Enjoy your break in Yorkshire xxxxx

  5. Hope you have a wonderful time in your cosy cottage.Nothing like a bit of wind a rain to blow away the cobwebs. I wish your M all the best with his new venture.I’ve lost count of all the times my h has come home from a job to tell me he’s left. It’s all very unsettling, but we have always worked things out, and usually something better has turned up.
    Very interesting about the Textiles. I did do a textiles degree, but ended up making mostly jewellery! I also didn’t carry on with my specialism, weaving either, and sold knit swatches instead. I do believe that doing a creative course can give you the confidence to go into many other fields. I totally agree with the fees and other costs being astronomic. It makes me wonder about our kids studying further, and I feel incredibly lucky to have studied when I did.
    Those books look wonderful, I’ve never seen such detailed work, they look like tiny paintings.
    Best of luck with your work too, and I’m glad you have made your decision.x

    • I’m glad to read new ventures have worked out for you guys, gives me hope. I’m ok with it just aware of the money side, we’ve become quite spoilt and used to a good income over recent years and that will likely change, which is fine as I lived throughout my 20’s on a very small income, but it feels different now I have the boys, plus I don’t like not being the one in control of money, it’s a side of family life I generally struggle with, I’d prefer to be independent really. I don’t know many people from my art days who still work full time in their chosen field, really only the graphic designers, but most still have a hand in there somewhere. I’m just glad I set up the linen cat, it gives me a focus and it’s made me much happier than the years I spent just plodding along. Bxx

  6. Hi Beth, so lovely to hear from you and know that you’re still hanging on. I do hope you have a wonderful break. It sounds like absolute bliss to me. I love spending time with other people too but after studying always lived on my own until John came along. In some ways I still think I’m better suited to having a bit more space and alone time than I’ve had since then (but I wouldn’t change things, of course)!
    Sending good wishes to M for his new direction. I’m sure it will work out well. I think working for yourself has a lot to be said for it.
    I often wonder about studying and how things would have been if I’d taken a different direction. I still think forestry and ecology was the right thing for me, but it didn’t occur to me to try something creative and that is what gives me the most pleasure now… long as I can get my fill of countryside and fresh air too! Take care and enjoy your beloved Dales, Juliexxx

    • Glad it’s not just me, I can feel ‘crowded’ quite easily. If I’m having an off day and the boys are very boisterous and keep shouting, arguing and physically banging into me etc, I even get a bit funny about being touched, a little voice in my head screams ‘just let me be for five minutes!’….which makes me sound a bit deranged, but there you go (Charlie likes to sit right next to you on the sofa, as in leaning on you, always, which is cute, but sometimes I find myself moving away as he keeps moving nearer!). I have to politely ask the boys to please stop knocking into me as it makes my nerves frayed. I will miss M’s US trips, I think, as although being ‘home alone’ can be a bit exhausting, I also quite enjoy having the evening to myself, I’d often go to be early and read, or watch movies M isn’t interested in.

      I’ll report back a refreshed women in a few days time 🙂


  7. How lovely, do hope you have a really nice time away. Have you read Longbourn? Think you would enjoy it, and it would be a good read for a trip away. We have all just read it for book club, so looking forward to our discussion next week. I did a Spanish degree and am now a fundraiser, funnily enough my neighbour did textiles and is a primary teacher…. Life is uncertain and unpredictable! I really don’t know how I would advise my daughter, other than to have several options available!

    • Thanks for the tip, just bought Longbourn on kindle so I hope to get around to reading it soon. My favourite place to visit is Groombridge, which they used as Longbourn for the Keira Knightley film version (in fact we were there last Sunday) so I’ll be thinking of that as I read. I think it’s normal to not work in your degree field, I have had many jobs, including being a Museum Assistant then a Project Manager (at Yahoo!) so not related at all. I think it was good I studied art though, I wouldn’t have been happy doing anything else at college, even if the job prospects were a bit hit and miss. Bxx

  8. So sorry that Easter was crappy. But yay for a holiday on your own. I totally get that! I’ve always enjoyed my own company (maybe because I was an only child?) and relish time on my own, which rarely happens these days. Like you I loved living in my own flat (with no-one else’s mess to deal with) when I was in my 20s. Bliss! Enjoy your little holiday, I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time. 🙂

    • I was one of three…perhaps it works both ways and I like my own company as I never got it when I was a kid – ha ha! Actually, I’m sure that’s not true….but both my siblings like their space as well, so must be linked to how we grew up in some way. I drive past a tiny run down (almost derelict) cottage on my way to school each day, it has a totally overgrown garden and I have dreams of owning it and having it as my little getaway. Perhaps I’ll win the lottery….or M will become a millionaire…a girl can dream 🙂 Bx

  9. Hello dear Beth,

    Happy to have you back, I have been stalking this spot for a while already 🙂 I am glad you decided to let go of the “should have done”-nag and decided to concentrate on the seasons to come. You will be so happy come September! I totally agree with the more professional-term, that is just it. I am stumbling around with my future plans, I also would need more structured plan to it, hopefully during the summer I will get some decisions made.

    Enjoy your me-time, well-deserved it is! Happy walks (come rain or shine as always), relaxing and some slow wining&dining, just for you! And before that: best of luck to Eurovisions, we (Finland) just cleared the semis, yippee!

    Sunshine from here!


    • Hello lovely Mia! It’s a tricky thing to get right, the structure of work, for you especially as you need to keep your earnings coming in and no-one wants the fun to go out of their creating so getting the balance right is a struggle. Good luck with planning over the summer, I hope you find solutions that work. As for Eurovision, our entry is rubbish, I’m thinking it’ll be a nil points year, but I love the show all the same and will watch with relish, especially the funny acts and I LOVE a good Eurovision party 🙂 Bxx

  10. Enjoy your time up here in Yorkshire. Being on your own gives you headspace and time to think. I bet you will be more creative as a result. I intend to indulge in a bit of eurovision too!

  11. Oh you will have a wonderful time, lots of ‘me’ time, perfect. Those books look very interesting….I just can’t start yet another craft….but the books are now on my ever increasing wish list on Amazon!
    Have fun!

  12. I’ve never tried stumpwork but the butterflies and moths are astonishingly beautiful and would make a humane and lovely display. As for the Crown Devon, I have a small but slowly growing collection of the red. It is delightful.

    • I agree, I think butterflies and moths are perfect for stumpwork. On my jaunt ‘up north’ my android phone has been trying to direct me to your shop the entire time, how funny, it must know I visited your blog and has decided that’s where I was heading!! I know it’s all rather ‘Big Brother’ like but I do enjoy all this modern technology.

  13. Very happy you are “still here,” Beth!! Please share any butterflies, moths or flowers you create. Those books look inspiring. It is good to hear your decision about the seasons. Sending some sunshine. After a very awful winter, it is pure bliss. Happiest May…… Anne xx

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