Thank You and a Give Away…

Well, winter’s here then, I know, as I’m currently wearing thick wool tights that are wrinkled fetchingly at the knee and ankle, in the style of Nora Batty, and it must be cold if I’ve broken out my winter staple wardrobe of wool tights.  It’s also pissing it down and so dark that it appears like it might be the middle of the night, which makes me want to snuggle up in a corner and read all day, shame I have loads of work to do.

I’ve been meaning to do a quick give away for ages and say an overdue thanks or two.

DSC_0198To get right to it, ages ago I blogged about Royal Doulton Fable Tableware (I just noticed the hilarious typo in the title of the post, how is it I don’t see my mistakes whilst I’m writing, yet they are so obvious later?  I know you all forgive me, it’s clear to anyone who reads my blog that I wont be winning any prizes for my grammar and spelling) and shortly afterwards I received a package in the post containing a gift of one of the mugs and a lovely letter from the Royal Doulton team.  Made my day, which at the time was all a bit pants, I may even have cried a bit (yep, it was the kind of day when the John Lewis Christmas ad makes you weep).

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The mug is lovely quality and as my current china is old and getting quite stained I figured I’d buy more as a replacement.  Weirdly, after my little moan in the post about not being allowed such colourful crockery, I ended up with a box set in the plain white version, the only pattern pieces I chose being some ‘Mixed Accents Mugs by Charlene Mullen.DSC_0142Basically, I need my everyday china to sit well with my vintage pieces, so white is the sensible option, but the lure of the little animals hiding inside the mugs was too much so they also jumped into my basket.

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I will be sticking with Fable in the white (which you can buy via Ocado as well – bonus!….oh and there is 1/3 off at the moment – double bonus!!) but I can see the lure of Charlene Mullen’s ‘London Calling’ range, which is also rather lovely.

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Now to the give away.  I haven’t done one in ages, which is a bit crap of me, so I have two little birds that need new homes, they have wonky ribbons in their tails but otherwise are in good order so I’ll send them both to one name picked out of the hat in two weeks time (Friday 28th November).  I’m happy to post anywhere in the world, just leave a comment on this post and please make sure it’s linked to an email address.  That’s all, nothing fancy, just a ‘hi’ will do.

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Lastly, but by no means least, I was lucky to be asked to take part in Laura’s (of Bugs and Fishes) ‘Crafty Ladies’ series.  I’m amongst great company, so was thrilled Laura contacted me, you can read all the interviews, including mine, here.  For those who don’t know Laura’s work, she writes a wonderful blog and creates beautiful pieces in felt, so it’s well worth a visit to her shop.  She’s also a craft writer and I see has a couple of books out that are ‘starred’ nicely on Amazon.  Jealous, me? Noooooo.

It’s stopped raining so there are no excuses not to get to work, which is a shame as I was quite close to giving myself a rare day off to just read.  Ho-hum, well at least it’s Friday 🙂

Crochet Birds…

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A long, long time ago, I was asked if I would provide a bird for a charity event (you can see the details here), the size needed was very specific and I didn’t want to send along one of my regular birds so I got creative with some linen and a large crochet snowflake I had hanging around.  I’ve always liked the result and earlier this year decided to attempt to make something similar for the shop.
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Part of the delay was in simply finding some crochet snowflakes that scaled with the price of selling the finished bird (BTW, there is a GREAT Folksy piece here about how your customer sets the price for your work and not a calculation of materials and time, it’s absolutely spot on, although I also think you do need to track your time, but only in terms of if what you are making will ever be profitable to sell, I also hand clapped at the bit that talks about the reality of selling wholesale, well worth a read), I think I thought I would learnt to crochet myself, clearly that is not going to happen, but luckily after the festive season last year, I managed to pick up some lovely bits of crochet on Etsy at very reasonable prices.DSC_0154This photo was taken last February (hence the crappy light, sorry!), I remember loving all the colours on my desk together.  The mug was Mum’s, bought for her by my SIL who kindly let me have it when we cleared through the house (thanks A) I really like using it, in a good way.  The hat is a vintage one that’s covered in pheasant feathers that I was trying to stretch out, something I still haven’t finished doing.DSC_0161I was really keen to get at least a bunch of samples made so I could get good photographs of them over summer (big fail on this, as you’ll see later). DSC_0048Size wise, they are in-between the little birds and the lavender ones, I did consider putting lavender in them but then I’d have so stuff them to order (as I do with anything containing lavender) which is very time consuming plus I consider them more of a decorative thing than a ‘lavender bag’.
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They each have a tag attached with a ribbon, as I think it presents them nicely.DSC_0159And now for why I haven’t listed them sooner, as I’d planned to get them in the shop in early autumn as part of the whole pink phase, it’s simply that I’m not entirely ecstatic with the photo, I somehow forgot to actually get pictures of them over summer and now the days are not getting any lighter so I’m not sure I can do any better until I get a chance to set up all the lights in the studio.  I never like using photos I’m not happy with, but I also don’t want things sitting in a box and missing their ‘slot’ so for now, with not the very best image, here they are 🙂

Little Winter Birds 2012…

Another post written a couple of weeks back that I forgot to publish:

I know my posts are very ‘shop’ heavy at the moment.  I am sorry, I do promise there are some non-shop related ones coming up but the flurry of trying to get the stock changed over for the busiest 2 months of the year (for me) does rather take over.

I’ve never been this organised before though, back in May, I had already finished a batch of new robins

and by mid Summer, the blackberry version was also complete.  Brilliant.  It helped knowing that I wanted to make more little birds in these colour ways, it’s for the same reason that I managed to have my lavender bags all done so early as well.  The little birds sell really well over winter, they look so great on the tree or dotted around the house, I have a stash of my own and I add to it each time I make a new colour way.

In which note, I was totally inspired to make a ‘dove’ version by a request on Folksy.

I imagine these will look great on a Christmas tree, especially mixed with the red robins…..they also have a hint of ‘Wedding’ about them, I feel.

They match the new robins in that the last batch have a couple of extra beads in the hanging threads, little gold ones on either side of the large faceted one.  I’ve listed the remainder of last year’s robins on Folksy and the new ones on my own website.

It’s made a huge difference working so far ahead on Autumn/Winter products, even though lots of this stock was waiting to be photographed for months, and there was still plenty to do, I suddenly realised this week that I’m ready.  I am now free to work on new designs, the pressure really is off and anything extra I make is a bonus.

Oh and I haven’t made (and I’m not sure I plan to) and any new linen mice specials, but the last pirates and a red riding hood are listed here.

Summer Lavender Birds…

I was going to talk about how my ‘home alone’ stint is going but so far it’s something along the lines of ‘lack of sleep, 5.30 awake every morning….ill kids…tired…very tired…shout rather too much’ and let’s face it, that may continue to be the pattern for the next 7 weeks so I’ll try not to keep mentioning it.  Much.

So, instead, here are the new lavender birds to match the little felt ones and the Summer collection colours of Racey Helps.

I’ve made similar before and they were very popular, the Ellie pattern fabric by Michael Miller is perfect as not only do the colours fit the theme but so does the simple, bold, retro flower pattern; I’m so glad I still have some of this fabric left.  I’ve only made a very small batch this time as I have quite a few lavender birds made up at the moment, you can find them here.

Still not decided what to do about Folksy, thanks so much for all your honest thoughts on this, and I’m still quite distracted with decorating.  I’m off to Glyndebourne tomorrow, I’m most excited, Mum is looking after the kids.  It’s set to be quite chilly and cloudy so I’ve abandoned the idea of wearing a silky, floaty dress and instead I’m going in a nice plum tulip dress once donated to me by my Sister (some of my nicest clothes come from her, she is also the one generously taking me to Glyndebourne).  It’s a good excuse to wear my Chia Mihara, Colibri shoes which I saved up forever for and had to buy direct from the Chia Mihara shop in Spain (the only place I could get them in plum), and added bonus, I don’t need to squeeze in time for a home pedicure.  Hope it doesn’t rain.

I’m still here..and summer collection…

Really I am.  I know I’ve been kind of absent but I think, from my blog reading (which I am still behind on), that this seems to be the case generally in ‘blogland’.  I have been very distracted with family life; I’ve found myself busy with decorating, gardening and being a Mum, plus we have just spent half term in Berlin (more in that another time), both boys have had birthdays and M is about to go away for nearly 2 months to the US with work, meaning I will not get to sleep past 6am (if I’m lucky) in the mornings for a very long time.  I feel tired.

Although I haven’t been sewing all that much, and when I have it’s mainly been blinds for my sister, I have sneaked in a few hours here and there to complete my Summer collection.  I’ve found in the last couple of years that working a loose series of collections through the seasons works really well for me (I’ve been trying to create some Galleries on my website to view past designs), I tend to take a colour theme, from a fabric or picture or just the colours from the landscape and garden and try to change my core shop products to match.

For this summer, I knew early on that I wanted to use my love of Racey Helps work as an influence, I have a number of postcards tucked onto my pinboard and I’ve talked about Racey Helps before.  He tends to work in a set colour palette and I love the bold, bright but natural colours that he uses, they really do remind me of my childhood, I also really love the extensive use of nature in his work and who can resist animals in clothing!

I started some new lavender bags, little birds and a re-stock of other favourites some time ago, but it has taken me a really, really long time to get any of them finished.  First up are a new batch of Little Birds; these, I think, are my favourite of the little birds so far, there is something about the colours, especially with the bright wooden beads that really does make me nostalgic, they make me smile when I look at them.

I would have liked (and still might) to have made a mobile from these, ideally with a nice blue bird in there as well, but for now, they have been mounted and wrapped in their cello bags and are finally listed here.

I need to do a big Folksy shop update.  I’m undecided what to do here, I’ve rather neglected my Folksy shop recently, in all honestly I don’t sell very much there, I mostly sell (and have from the very beginning) much more from my own website and with the new fees and selling structure I need to have a good look and decide if it still works for me.  I find listing in general a chore and splitting stock etc between sites only adds to the work.  The other consideration is what do I get back from Folksy in return for the selling and listing fees?  I love being part of a British selling community (and it’s why I opted for Folksy not Etsy in the first place) but I think it’s very easy to get lost in the mass of sellers and I have noticed it’s aways the same ones that appear in promotional Folksy ‘stuff’ such as the christmas newspaper.  I do think to be fair, this probably says more about my lack of effort to get involved, rather than Folksy itself, I rarely take part in the discussion boards, but I do wonder what I am getting back in return for my fees.  Decisions, decisions.

Finally, I hope to spend my first week ‘home alone’ decorating so I’m not sure just how much time I’ll get for writing posts, although I do have some nearly ready to publish.  The plan is, get the house sorted (I breath so much easier in a tidier space) and then sew, sew, sew and sleep as much as I can, when I can.  We’ll see how it goes 🙂

Couldn’t resist a photo of one of my recent birthday boys, I’ve only just managed to get his thank you cards done, better late then never.  Notice my rather dyslexic (I assume if you read my blogs often you might have noticed I can neither type nor spell) first version, lucky I spotted that before I printed them all out!

Pop open the champagne…

Seriously, there may be the popping sound of a very small bottle of pink fizz opening tonight (well, some sparkling Aussie stuff anyway, as I am the only drinker in the house I have no excuse to open actual champagne) as I have finally updated my Folksy shop.

Long time coming but there have been so many distractions and today is the first in ages that I have felt in control of things and slightly relaxed.

I spent this afternoon stuffing lavender bags and getting this lot ready to send off to Armagh (another order from the lovely folk at the St Patrick’s Trian Visitor Complex), I had to make up new monster purses and extra brooches as I didn’t have any spare, in fact I still don’t have new monster purses for my store, they are on my ‘need to make last month’ list along with new lavender owls.  I will get there eventually, I’m sure.

For now I am concentrating on new items and I have finally managed to photograph and list the new Autumn lavender birds.  I started these a very, very long time ago, they were one of my sewing projects I took on our holidays to Yorkshire this Summer (stitching the eyes on that is)

and the tails of the green birds were used for the ‘grass’ in my ‘Gone Fishing’ photo as they were sitting on my desk at the time waiting to be stitched up.

I do like the new birds, they have a perfect Autumn colour palette in my mind; a nice mix of greens, golds and reds

I’m sure many of your will recognise the fabric as ‘Cloud 9 – Leaves’, I have it in a few colour ways and jumped on the red as soon as it appeared on-line some time ago, stashing it away for this time of year.

I have also made and listed (go me!) some new ‘Folk’ lavender birds, these were made to match another project which I may be some time in completing so I thought I’d get the birds into the shop now.

I loved the slightly miss match colour of the folk fabric so much it prompted me to also make a matching version of ‘little birds‘.  Now, if there is a prize for the worst photo in this post this last on wins, I do struggle to get the burgundy felt that I love and use so much correctly captured and I will need to re-take this one with a longer exposure, but at least they are listed and I can relax tonight knowing that my poor Folksy shop isn’t shamefully bare.

I have many other things also completed and ready so be prepared for some coherent posts complete with nice matching photos, now that would be nice wouldn’t it? 😉

Neat and tidy, tidy and neat…

I am being good at the moment and working through my many open projects, it feels nice to gradually empty all those plastic boxes stacked with half finished bits and bobs, turning this

into this

Oh how I love these neat little birds all lined up and looking tidy, this is only a third of the ones completed so far, the glass bead eyes take some time to sew but it’s quite therapeutic just sitting there hand sewing whilst the wind howls outside (the wind!!? what’s with the wind?  I keep expecting to be woken by Munchkins giggling, sadly not in my case, it’s usually the boys yelling).

I’m even getting some birds finished for next Christmas, these ones have been sitting in a box for over a year, I just never got around to stitching them together.

The bright colours have also been a pleasure to work with, I love little bits of felt and ribbon, although I fear the pink birds will be  nightmare to photograph properly, the bright pink always looks so muddy.  It did spur me to finally order something I’ve been after for a while, this gorgeous crochet forever flower garland by Emma Lamb

Emma was great to buy from, she took time to help me select my colours, sending images so I could make sure I was happy with my choice.

In fact the above photos belong to Emma, I haven’t put my new garland up yet, I’m determined to paint our fire surround white and then hang it as a reward.

Even the packaging was a delight.

So for the rest of today, I shall be sewing seed bead eyes and making a second batch of marmalade, oh happy days 🙂

Dusting off the Baubles…

I’m feeling very relaxed tonight, about half an hour ago I finally finished my last commission piece, I still have some gifts to make but it lifts the pressure a lot to know that I haven’t let anyone down and they will get their promised products with plenty of time to wrap and post.

I’m looking forward to some time to tidy around the house and prepare for Christmas at a slower pace,

we bought our tree last weekend (please excuse the missing skirting board and wire but this is still very much a ‘house-in-progress’), I confess to a very hasty decorating hour as I simply didn’t have the time I normally would to relax and enjoy it, ideally with a nice glass of something Christmassy whilst I ‘work’.  I did make the effort to be quite nicely colour coordinated but F had his own plans and over the week has added every decoration in the box to the tree and the few that are too heavy he has hung on all the door/draw knobs!

Sitting on the top of the tree is the Fairy I made last year, a fabric version of my Gran’s vintage one as her’s is getting too fragile to use, you can see where the recent Fairy/Ballerina Mice began in her pink silk dress.

And there are plenty of multi-coloured birds that again were made last year (more of which are available in The Shop, sadly I didn’t get around to make more fairies).

I so love the birds and another of my favourite decorations that come our every year are the red pompoms

Genius idea, not mine I’ll add I bought these in the Sale some years ago from Pedlars.

We have quite a busy weekend planned with F’s School Fair and all our cards to write, not to mention Teachers gifts to make.  I am also planning a giveaway in the next post, slightly overdue but better late than never.  For tonight, it’s Thai takeaway and maybe a bit more decorating, this time at a nice leisurely pace 🙂

Busy, busy, busy…

It’s still all very hectic around here but I am starting to feel like I’m getting there.  Thanks for all your great comments on the Ballerina and Fairy Mice, they’ve rather flown and many to people who read this blog, which is always a pleasure.

There’s one Ballerina left here and three Fairies spread between my site and Folksy.  My sister has put an order in for any that don’t sell soon (she is one of my best customers and has lots of friends with young children, sometimes I have to hide things from her or she tries to buy them before I can list them.  I know, I’m very lucky) so I’m happy knowing they will all go to good homes.

I also found a few more Lavender Birds that have been added to the SALE section and whilst I was stuffing those (I always stuff all my lavender bags to order so that they go out ‘fresh’) I filled a few more blackbirds as they seem to be selling quite well (also in the SALE).

Today I managed to take extra photographs of the new Lavender Birds,

I know many of you were kind enough to tell me there was nothing wrong with the original images but the ‘blue’ tone on the white background was really annoying me so I’ve taken them backed on a slightly off-white paper, it feels a little softer.

So, my plan is to crack on next week and in an ideal world finish all my commissions and also the Superhero Mice (which I know some of you are waiting for) then, quite frankly, take a sewing break.  I’m desperate to give the house a good clean and the garden is in need of a tidy plus I’ve promised the boys we’ll get our tree.  I’d like to approach Christmas at a calmer pace (I still have many…oh, OK, most of my presents to buy although I do have some goodies to show you in my next post) and part of that involves admitting defeat in that any further plans I had for Christmas shop products need to get shelved until next year and I feel OK with that, I managed quite a lot in rather a short time so I’m happy 🙂

New Winter Lavender Birds…

Well, as the title suggests I have finally completed the new lavender birds

they are both in fabrics I bought last year specifically for the project, the fabulous Snow Flower/Blossom (which is the nicest Christmas fabric ever, not too over the top but the perfect shade of red) by Dena Designs for Free Spirit Fabrics and Amy Butler’s Wall Flower in gold.

I’ve exchanged the usual brown bead eye for black glass, I love the little glass bead eyes on my felt birds, they always seem to really bring them alive so I’m following suit here.

Although the designs are led by the fabrics used, I also took inspiration from this postcard which faces me every day as it is pinned to my noticeboard; it’s by ‘Belle & Boo‘ and I love the mix of red, beige and white,  so decided to use a similar combination for the Snow Flower bird tail.

In fact, whilst I’m mentioning Mandy Sutcliffe’s lovely work, I should also show you this cushion bought really quite a long time ago but never blogged (at least I think not blogged, apologies if I’m showing you this twice).

These colours are all very ‘me’ and fit perfectly into our house, I love the hand embroidered detail on the tree.

Back to the birds.  Again, I’m struggling to get decent photos, I really need to invest in some professional lights, not just for photographs but it’s becoming quite difficult to work in the evenings as I can’t really see what I’m doing,

still, I figured it was more important to get the new birds listed, I can always change the images at a later date.

Both birds can be found on Folksy and at my on-line Shop and any Lavender Birds from past Seasons are now in the SALE section so grab a bargain whilst you can.