Christmas decorations 2018…

Yet again we have gone with ‘tat’ tree this year, decorated with an assortment of ‘vintage’ tinsel, plastic and glitter. It’s interesting how taste can change, a few years ago my tree had a kind of colourful but matched nature/Scandi feel but now I’m all for bright and garish all the way with plenty of clashes.IMG_20181202_170256I guess it’s just an extension of how my general taste has changed. This house was all white with wooden floors (a definite and intended Scandi feel) and although I’ve always liked bright accents of colour, colour is now creeping onto the walls too with bold colours in the kids’ bedrooms and green walls in mine.IMG_20181202_170900Some of the old favourites are back, though, including baubles on ‘the dog’.IMG_20181202_171338and a knitted Santa that my Gran made and that was always in my room at Christmas when I was a kid.IMG_20181211_124111The Pelham puppets are up again in the kitchen…the star lights never actually came down!IMG_20181211_124138 And some of my really old decorations have gone on a tinsel tree in the kitchen this year.IMG_20181211_124208When I think of Christmas I think of the colours of a box of Quality Street, all foil and bright with purples, greens, blues and golds. I guess it’s a childhood nostalgia thing. I recently bought a box of Quality Street to use as props for photos (of the Christmas Stockings) and it sadly reminded me that although I like the wrapper colours I don’t actually like the chocolates inside!IMG_20181209_104632So instead, I’m going to think of this bowl of Lindt chocolates bought for me as a gift last weekend….there is an entire Lindt shop in Bluewater – who knew! I just LOVE the colours (and the chocolate) and I have some plans for Shop makes for next season that will definitely be inspired by these.

Foxes, badgers and MORE foxes…

I know there were supposed to be more Christmas things coming, but I got distracted by foxes and badgers, I’m afraid (sorry to anyone who was waiting).BetsyPinkFox2I sold out of all ‘Woodland Animals’ after the Badgers were in Country Living so it seemed right to make more. It was originally an experiment in how long it takes to make them (let’s just put it this way, I am earning waaaaayyyyy below minimum wage) but I just kept going with new colour versions, as they were selling as quickly I could list them.PinkFoxTwinsFirst, there were some pink ‘Betsy’ boys. I’m not sure why I’ve never made pink fox suits before, it seems like a winner and they flew straight out of the shop.DSC_02791Then, after Saffa asked on Instagram if I might be making some girls I thought I would, so I made some pink caped lady foxes only I went with ‘Mirabelle’ as the print instead of Betsy. I LOVE Mirabelle, it’s one of my favourite Liberty lawns, there’s something about the strawberries and flowers on the white background that really works for me.MrsFoxPinkMirabelleI haven’t made girls for ages and it was quite good fun. They have red ric-rac sandwiched between the hem and I used some crochet flowers I already had rather than making new ones with my Hana flower maker. One flew straight off to the Netherlands!MrFoxBrightBlueNext, came a batch of bright blue boys. MrFoxBrightBlue2All the linen is offcuts from apron making and it felt really good to finally use it up. I have a habit of keeping all of my trimmings (in this case, quite big bits of trimmings, so well worth keeping!) but I can go a bit overboard with my reluctance to throw things away. The tweed wool for the bodies was also the final length and I (forced myself to) throw the scrap bag of leftovers from this once I’d finished my last fox. They really were little bits that were too small for even fox ears so it felt quite good to finally say goodbye to the bag which has sat in my scrap drawer for years now.

BadgersThere was a little badger interlude here as I’d had quite a few emails asking if I’d make more so I did one last batch of those.IMG_20181204_140320One of the reasons I made new foxes over badgers or wolves is so I didn’t have to make the brooches. It isn’t that I don’t like them, in fact, I think they finish the animals’ suits off in style, it’s simply that they take a really long time to make (they take the same time as a full-sized flower brooch) and I don’t really charge much extra, so it really is a labour of love.DSC_0318There was one exception. A lovely lady has bought a lot of the Woodland Animals asked if I could make a red fox in mustard. I pretty much never make to order as my life can get a little stressed and I hate the idea of letting anyone down so I decided years ago to always say no, but as I was making badgers in mustard anyway I figured I would make an exception (and I was happy to do so, I should add!)MrFoxMustardMr Mustard Fox got a special Liberty Betsy cravat in a colourway I imported from Japan. I only have a short length of it but it was perfect with the yellow linen. I then made a matching green auricula brooch. I have to say, I was really pleased with him….it’s a bit of a shame the weather was so crappy and dark so I couldn’t get a decent photo but he’s gone off to his new home.

Most of the foxes and badgers are gone now, I think there is a pink girl left and a blue boy, but that is all. I need a break from them now and I don’t plan to make more, certainly not in the near future but then I said that in my last post so never say never!

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In a feeble attempt to kick my social media mojo back into action I have finally started a Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/thelinencat. I have no idea if I’ll be able to keep it up, I think I just want to see what works best and I’ve not tried FB yet so you never know, it might be a winner! Time will tell 🙂

Vintage Christmas Stockings

I loath using the word ‘vintage’. Not quite sure why, I think it’s because of it’s overuse and the fact I’ve been collecting antique clothing and objects since I was a child so I slightly hate how fashionable it has become (I was so before my time *joking*). It’s also an age thing, I think, I struggle to think of 1980’s as ‘vintage’….probably as I wore the stuff first time around. Still, it’s often the only word that fits, so welcome ‘Vintage Christmas Stockings’.DSC_0098It started as an idea a couple of years ago. I had bought some vintage (I’m going to use the word with abandon now) napkins when I was buying old Christmas stuff on Ebay and I couldn’t help but think they’d make great cuffs for Christmas stockings.DSC_0100The plan was to combine them with some stash busting, specifically reducing my tweeds and a few Christmas cottons that I have. The problem is, as always, I tend to imagine the finished thing in my head and I then struggle to compromise on that vision.DSC_0104The red tweed looked too ‘dull’ so I considered some linen, also from my stash, but that felt too similar in texture to the linen cuff. I like contrasts of texture 🙂DSC_0156I ended up buying some bouclé wool in a crimson red. I also abandoned using the Christmas printed cotton for lining as the wool is a little stretchy and I wanted a matching stretchy lining so I opted for some nice, cosy, green brushed cotton.DSC_0208I’m not sure if it show in the photos, but I added a little shaping to the top cuff to make it kick out slightly (I like to think it’s these details that make my work my own).ChristmasStockingTeddy2Then I embarrassed myself by buying the newly arrived Christmas stuff from the local supermarket as photo props – coins, Quality Street, a Lindt Santa and some walnuts and oranges.ChristmasStockingBaubles1But I liked the photos taken with some of my vintage decorations best.ChristmasStockingsAllThe photos look really dark on here…it’s one of the problems when photographing red and at this time of year.ChristmasStocking2

You can find them in the shop and on Folksy.

 

 

 

 

Green Foxes and Country Living

I’m ridiculously pleased to have made it into Country Living magazine this month with Mr Badger.MrBadgerCountryLivingI’m very lucky that I’ve been in the magazine before (a few times, actually) but not for some time. In fact, I think it’s a lot harder to get into magazines in general these days, there is so much competition in the handmade market that it’s difficult to stand out and it’s increasingly important to keep up any marketing which is an area I really struggle to find the passion to maintain.il_570xN.509627634_4hdz

It’s given me a well needed kick up the bum to get on with some neglected jobs including listing some things that have been finished for a while but where I simply hadn’t edited the photos (it all takes sooooooo long!)IMG_20170607_135833So, welcome, Mr Fox (in a Green Dandy Suit!).DSC_0003These started with some amazing Liberty Tana Lawn that I bought and imported from Japan. Why are all the nicest Tana Lawns only available abroad? I’ve never figured this out, it seems wrong, especially as it’s such an iconic British brand. Anyway, at much expense my single meter arrived (back in 2010!!!) and it was yelling animal cravats at me, so that’s what I made.GreenFox1With the addition of real leather buttons (I bought the entire remaining stock from Cath Kidston a few years ago when they went into the sale at a silly low price – one of my best buys as before that a lot of the leather buttons I used were vintage and they were getting hard to source at a sensible price).MrFoxNewGreen3There isn’t a lot else to add. Of all the foxes I’ve made, these are my favourite combination (but they don’t beat the wolves!), I really do adore the cravat fabric and bright green is very much my colour. They seem like a summer animal to me.FoxesIt’s likely that the remaining ‘Woodland Animals‘ will be my last.

I love them and they are very much in keeping with The Linen Cat. DSC_0269I’ve been making them in some form or another since 2010, but they take an enormous amount of time to make and the fabric alone is quite expensive so there is little profit.DSC_0017They really are a labour of love.DSC_0019There are still a few to be found in the shop (the badgers are almost gone now!) and some were moved into the Sale section a while ago so there is a bargain of two to be found there.DSC_0017Christmas things are coming next!

Glyndebourne 2018: Saul

It was time for one of my regular yearly outings with a trip to Glyndebourne Opera House. It’s always such a treat as I don’t get out a lot (boo hoo, poor me) and I always make the most of the opportunity to dress up. As all those who regularly read my posts on this subject know you can wear anything you like to Glyndebourne and I embrace that entirely, but I also recycle outfits quite a bit as it’s not practical for me to buy new things each year.IMG_20180722_121318

So, this time it was an old dress (I wore it last year too, as some of you will spot) but new shoes!

IMG_20180722_121206And what shoes they are. Quiet and understated they are not. They’re from Irregular Choice’s Aloha Hula range and I absolutely love them. Clearly, they are not for everyone….some of the ladies I attended Glyndebourne with were not very impressed, but I don’t mind, I don’t dress for other people I dress for myself so I don’t really care. I got lots of positive comments from other Opera goers, mainly elderly ladies some of whom stopped to take photos of my feet!IMG_20180722_124029Here is the rest of the outfit with me attempting to smile (I don’t like taking my own photo). I put these photos up on Instagram and some eagle-eyed folk spotted I have my usual Paperself bird eyelashes on too. Sorry, no close-up photos of the eyes this year as I was too lazy to take one, I also didn’t vintage set my hair as it was simply too hot.

Screen Shot 2018-08-09 at 12.29.49The opera was a delight. I must admit to finding the ‘story’ pace a bit slow in the first half but the music was beautiful and the choral sections were especially good.poaztwm9b0et2l27hoypThe staging was magnificent! 'Saul' Opera performed at Glyndebourne Opera, E Sussex, UKThere was a moment in the second half where I thought we’d swapped to watching an episode of League of Gentlemen (anyone who has seen Glyndebourne’s version of Saul knows exactly what I’m talking about here…’bitty’ *shudder*) but it just added to the slightly bonkers feel of the whole thing.ygtsadzmby0oj4ikgvs7I especially loved the raked ‘soil’ floor, the contrasts of colour against the black background and the mix of modern and period costume. Fabulous.

Anyhow, that’s my yearly outing done (small violin playing in the distance here); the shoes have been put away (actually they haven’t, they are in my newly decorated bathroom, on the shelf, where I can admire them for a bit longer) and it’s back to sewing, surviving the heat and refereeing the kids.

 

Time to say goodbye…

My youngest is about to make the move up to secondary school so it’s time to say goodbye to his primary. I pretend I won’t miss it, but I will; I’ll especially miss my daily snippet of adult conversation (I once read a blog post of someone who also works from home and they wrote about coming across as a little crazy when they finally got into the ‘real world’ by over talking and being a bit loony with enthusiasm about being out of the house and around people – I can relate!).DSC_0060We’re ready, though. The enthusiasm has gone now for all the little necessities of primary school; I’ll be happy not to have to magic a costume out of thin air with no notice to be worn for just one day, and I dream of not doing the school run (although with two spectrum children that won’t be possible for a good while yet, in fact, it’ll get worse as I’ll have a double pick-up – they will be in two different schools – with daily motorway drive then a stressful drive directly through town, between the schools).DSC_0009One thing we stopped doing ages ago was making teachers gifts. We started off well but then dropped into the habit of adding money to the class joint pot (actually, we used to do both). Looking through old photos whilst cleaning out my library I’m amazed at how much effort we went to, so here are a few (click on the titles to go to the relevant posts):DSC_0241(when were my kids EVER this cute!!!)

2010: Strawberry Jam and Lavender Birds

 

2011: Blackcurrant Jam, Little Birds and BagsDSC_0026

(Jam recipe is here)

2012: Apple Lavender BagsDSC_0012I can’t find a post for these but I remember I embroidered messages on the back of them for each teacher.

2013: Flower BroochesDSC_0044DSC_0050

2014: Flower Brooches and Linen MiceDSC_0066

The Christmas ones…

2010: Santas

 

2013: Chocolates and Little BirdsDSC_0049DSC_0054

There will have been other Christmas gifts but I can’t find them in my photos and I’m getting vertigo from scrolling on the laptop (not kidding, sadly).

As anyone with kids will know, the last few weeks of school are crazy, especially when in year 6 and it is definitely with mixed emotions that we will be saying ‘goodbye’.

Gran’s Pouffe…

Continuing the ‘nibbling’ I thought it would be good to post some of the half-written blog entries; this one is from 2014 (!!???) and the reason it hasn’t been completed is that I never actually finished the inside of the pouffe so I kicked myself into action and got it done on Friday – hurrah! – another satisfying ‘tick’.

2014….


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Along with my attempts to work on winter things, I am also trying to make a little time to finish projects for myself and the home. Some are long overdue, like covering this pouffe which is past it’s best. It belonged to my Gran and she used it in her bedroom; it had a loose cover on top, in fact, one that I made to match her curtains (I remember, with great guilt, that it took me forever to get around to doing this for her), what you can see above is what was underneath the loose cover and it’s in a bit of a state.

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I believe Gran made it herself and in true sentimental ‘me’ style there is no way I’d ever get rid of it, despite it looking like a dog’s dinner. It has followed me around for many years from home to home (it came to me after Gran passed away) and at one point it had a Marimekko lose cover to match F’s baby room, but I’ve always planned to give it a more permanent finish.

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These photos were taken in November 2012 (2018 – insert eye roll here as even I am amazed it’s been in production for so long!), so I guess that’s when I actually started to put my plan into action. I was up for doing the job properly, I had furniture tacks and everything and with scant memories of upholstery classes whilst doing my degree I was full of enthusiasm but, the honest truth is that the staple gun won in the end and did a very decent job too.

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The fabric is Almedahls Mustard Körsbärsträdgården Scandinavian Fabric bought from Hus and Hem.

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I’ve had is squirrelled away for quite a while, but, I really like it and wanted to save it for a special project, which I think this is. I like the idea of a bold, slightly oversized print.  I must say, I am slightly worried about sun fade damage, which I think will happen quite quickly (2018 – it hasn’t faded that badly, but then it’s not in direct sunlight and I’ve gone on to buy some of the same fabric to make a door curtain in our utility room to match the bright yellow rubber flooring).

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The pouffe is built from a simple handmade wooden box, similar looking to a wine crate, that’s then covered in wadding and finally a layer of cream fabric.  All of this was base was in an ok condition so I kept it and simply covered over the top.

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Underneath, the original rubber feet had started to disintegrate so they had to go and I replaced them with Kendrick Shepherd casters because I have an obsession with putting everything on casters.  I used some linen that also came from Gran via my Mum (curtains that were left in the farmhouse when Mum and Dad moved in there) and some badly attached bias binding to line the edges.

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And this is where the pouffe got abandoned, as it’s easy to forget that the inside needs doing when it looks OK closed. So we jump to March of this year (we’re still in 2014 here, blimey I dragged this one out!), in the above photo.  I had forgotten I’d taken this, I tend to load photos into blank posts ready to add the words at a later date.  This is Smelly, my cat, I mentioned in an earlier post that she has been ill for a while and the vets couldn’t find out why, despite trying many things and spending a small fortune, sadly she didn’t make it and I had to have her put down at the end of the school holidays. Gutted. I’ve had her for 16 years and it was one of the many ‘pants’ aspects of the hols but, as I said at the start, let’s not dwell…(again, this is all from 2014 and we’ve had two other cats die since!! We also now have two alive and very healthy cats so it’s not all doom and gloom).

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I wanted to copy the original cover as closely as possible, I’d already done the same folding on the sides, next I made a copy of the fabric handles.  I love the bird pattern and wanted to make sure the handles didn’t interfere with the continuity (I spent FOREVER getting the pattern in a good position for the main cover and lid to give maximum appeal) so I took the time to match everything up and I think it works well.

2018

This is clearly as far as I got in both writing the post and the pouffe itself; it’s been sitting in the living room by one of the chairs where it has a lovely wooden chess board on top to stop anyone shoving a coffee cup directly onto the fabric!DSC_0082The hold up was the inside. I had bought some shot orange linen to sew a lining (similar to the original) but it just never got done and the idea didn’t sit well with me either. The original fabric lining was quite stained and dirty and the neat side of my brain couldn’t cope with the same thing happening again, I wanted something more practical inside and that could be wiped and cleaned, if needed.DSC_0087So on Friday, I bought a sheet of MDF and it got a permanent box lining instead. Today it’ll get varnished and then I’m attaching two brass chains on either side of the lid to stop it flopping back and toppling the whole thing over when opened.

Job done 🙂