New wool bunnies…

One of the earliest designs for The Linen Cat was a wool bunny in a Liberty print dress; there were two girl colour versions plus boys wearing denim shorts with ric-rac and shirts, and although I loved them dearly (especially the shirring and the crochet flowers on the girls) I felt, last year, that it was time for a re-design. I often debate moving into more of a 3D design with my softies but it’s not how I had originally imagined them, I have always tried to keep to simple shapes and an almost flat childlike profile so I don’t want to move too far away from this, instead I have given the new bunnies ears similar to the rabbit egg cosy and generally moved the body design to one similar to the linen mice (which ironically started out as the same pattern as the original wool bunny but thinned and tweaked – are you still with me?!).  As a result the new bunny has thinner arms and legs which are ‘jointed’ and a more triangular-shaped head. Next I tried making a bunny in the cream cashmere & wool mix that I normally save for the cashmere bears.  I have a very limited amount of this fabric left but it’s so unbelievably soft that I couldn’t resist.  I would say now that I prefer the more pure white colour of the original wool flannel but it has a much firmer feel and is an entirely different texture, not quite as huggable as the cashmere. I then splashed out on some good old Liberty Tana Lawn in Betsy, but in a new colour way for me, turquoise.  I have always loved and used the pink but the turquoise version has such a retro feel and it looks so good with the cream wool. All this happened almost a year ago, the sharper amongst you will already know that I listed a boy bunny to this new pattern wearing a jolly red waistcoat last year, but the girls have been sitting in a box patiently waiting for their turn.  I had even made a final sample of the dress so it was really only a question of pulling my finger out and getting the actual ones made-up.

And so last week, as I found myself jumping from project to project (I can’t seem to settle on one thing at the moment) the pile of bunnies called to me and begged to be finished in time for Easter.  One of the points of stalling was my desire to have a larger number to list, I generally prefer to have a small pile before adding something new to the shop and I’d planned to make more of the cream bodies, having used half of the original for the boys; but I figured we could be here in a year’s time and they might still be waiting, so I got on with it.

They have cute dresses with an attached white underskirt and broderie anglaise trim and as always everything is in natural fabrics except for the safety stuffing.  I had a bit of a nightmare trying to buy 100% cotton broderie anglaise and now have a stash of polyester mix to find a use for, it’s not that I refuse to use anything other than natural fibers, it’s just the polyester mix doesn’t feel right and I do generally prefer cotton.

I might be a little bit in love with the turquoise version, it reminds me of toys from my childhood.

They have sweet bobble tails

and are listed in the shop.  I plan to put a couple of the pink on Folksy given time, but I’d like to re-photograph them first, when the light is better, it was a bit too dingy today.

I am attempting to have a general clear out and re-create a sale section for the shop.  I did my tax return in good time this year and it gave me an opportunity to look back on both 2010-11 and on 2011-12 (so far) and see exactly what has sold and what hasn’t, I need to use my storage space better as Linen Cat stock is taking over the house so it’s time some things went.  Probably one for another post all to itself, I need to go now and but my little monsters darlings to bed before they dive me crazy 😉

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 🙂

All Smiles…

The holidays are still going well.  I am genuinely surprised how much sewing I’m managing and in such a way that I don’t feel guilty about ‘abandoning’ the boys either. One large factor is that they are playing quite a lot together, this has never really happened before but they appear to have hit an age that works for them both to be interested in the same games and it’s something I am very grateful for.  We are also still enjoying our daily walk which is a huge bonus and bodes well for our up-coming holiday in the Dales, but more on all that another time.

I was absolutely thrilled to get an unexpected package this morning from the lovely and very talented Mia (who makes the most beautiful felted and knitted bags and pouches, so worth checking out).  It’s a ‘thank you’ gift with card, for some recent orders Mia had placed with me (she was one of the people who pre-ordered a Mr Fox and wrote a blushingly nice post about him here).  How great is that?  You find people who like your work enough to buy some (and who return for more, always a good sign) and then they send you a gift as a thanks!! I could get very used to this 😉

Note the tweed, the felted bird, the colours (all so ‘me’) and the perfect touch of handmade notecard.  I was very smiley this morning.  Thank you Mia.

I also packed up an order for a Wool Bunny (in a Betsy Dress) for a friend who I sadly don’t get to see often enough.  I decided to pop an extra cape in with the package as I’ve been making them for the new Foxes, I’m pleased with how well they also fit the Wool Bunnies.

I always find the Bunnies quite difficult to pack; they go in a padded envelope, but really need an bit of extra protection

for the moment I use brown paper for a bit of added support but it’s one of those nagging packaging issues that bothers me.  Once I have planned all my new Winter products I’ll take some time to look at possible new solutions.

Right, I have plenty to do this afternoon, including making new Betsy dresses as I’m down to my last one, quick coffee and play with the boys then back to it!

In the Pink…

Well, without wishing to jinx the whole thing we seem to have fallen into quite a nice routine over here.  I do house ‘stuff’ in the mornings (we have a skip at the moment and I am thoroughly enjoying throwing half the house into it!) we (me and the boys) then go for a walk, which I would like to smugly point out is F’s idea and doesn’t involve any bribes at the end like popping into the garage to buy sweets/magazines; he really is growing up fast.  Then I get a bit of time in the afternoon to sew and potter in the garden.  Perfect.  It wont last, I’m sure, but whilst it does I intend to make the most and so I’ve been cracking on with some odds and ends for my sister

she requested pink tweed bunny purses a while back and these are definitely pink

as per last time, they have invisible zips in the back and the tweed patterns are lined up

they have matching linings from my Kaffe Fassett spots stash

and matching bows, with the usual removable wrist strap.  They are intended for two little girls so it really was an excuse to go overboard and makes a nice contrast to the boyish life all around me.  They really have been a treat to make 🙂

Easter Bunnies…

I mentioned a while ago about buying some tweed that arrived smelling rather musty, it was no use for the intended project  but I knew straight away I would like to use it for making tweed bunny purses

All the tweed has been washed, which has slightly thickened it (a bonus in this case) and I’ve made up a batch of four to see how they go in the shop (not yet listed but due on Folksy soon) and maybe I’ll tweak the design a little.  I haven’t made a purse before but I have made bags so have a pretty good idea of interlinings etc and it was great fun trying out the different processes.

I made a little extra work for myself by using concealed zips but I think they look really nice and tidy

and I lined up the fabric on either side which looks pretty neat

the insides are lined in ‘Snow Flower’ fabric by Westminster which I was saving for next Christmas but it was so perfect for the job.  What do you mean, they look a lot like a certain golden wrapped confectionary available in every store at this time of year?  I have no idea what you’re talking about.  Oh, OK, it’s not mere chance, I was eating a mini one when the tweed arrived and I thought, “now there’s an idea for Easter”, which no doubt you will have noticed I am too late for, serves me right for taking so long to put a thought into action.  Still, next year I can pretty much guarantee a golden linen or tweed version complete with bell.

I wasn’t sure about the face and how much to do so opted for some understated whiskers and bead eyes, I always notice that the glass bead eyes make the Bright Birds come ‘alive’ so I figured it might work here.  I also added a detachable wrist strap, this was in the plan from the beginning, either in case bought for children (less lightly to lose) or if used by a grown up for, say, a Wedding as I hate trying to hold a purse and glass of champagne at the same time 😉  I write this because I am desperately waiting for someone to have an Autumn or Winter Wedding so I can wear either of these,

both of which I made on Millinery courses at the London College of Fashion, many years ago when I wanted to brush up and improve on skills learnt on my Degree, I rather liked the idea of setting myself up as a Milliner, something I might still do down the line.

Right, enough, time to go and look after the boys and think about their tea.  Was that Spring by the way?  has it been and gone and we are now in Autumn?  Oh, so British, always moaning about the weather!

Here comes the rain again…and again…

Well isn’t it just sods law that come half term and all it does is rain.  It’s getting into the time of year when the garden will start to take up more time, as always I am sure most of April will be spent pottering in the vegetable patch and I would have liked to get a head start over half term as well as get the boys outside for a good run around but hey-ho the bright side is I get to sew instead 🙂

So, I have been batching up Cashmere Bears as they have proved very popular, especially in the woodland print

and, I finally got around to starting the new Lavender Bunnies.  The basic wool shapes were cut out back in Jan 09 when I made the first batch but I found them quite a chore and only did half so I’ve been putting off the new batch.  It makes sense to get them in the shop in time for Easter as they do make quite a nice alternative gift to chocolate, or better still, as well as chocolate!

I was quite enjoying myself until the final stitching then I remembered why I was in no hurry to make more.  Still I do like them in the Kaffe Fassett Asha, which is sadly hard to see in these photos as the light really isn’t helping to show the colours at their best, they are much brighter and prettier in real life.

I will make some in girly colors for the next batch which will use up the final pre-cut shapes then they may get relegated to the ‘past design’ box despite their popularity  (I still have to stuff them with lavender which I also remember was a bit of a nightmare, getting the lavender into all the corners through a small gap).

As I wrote recently, I am rather in love with the Kaffe Fassett, Asha and Dots fabrics at the moment.  I had seen them a number of times over at Saints and Pinners but they hadn’t taken my fancy until choosing fabric for the Linen Mice, now I can’t get enough.  Oddly, I had a look though a few other K F fabrics but really didn’t like many, so maybe that’s why I had dismissed them so easily.

I have been trying to photograph the finished Linen Mice ready for listing but the weather is making it rather difficult, still, here are the last two colour versions and I am oh so in love with the boy mouse with his yellow shirt and brown cord shorts.  I don’t like to have favourites but if pushed brown mouse wins my heart.

Best off and get the boys dressed as we need to do a food top-up shop.  Hope those of you with children are enjoying half term and the rest of you are avoiding any public place with kid appeal, in order to keep your sanity!

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!