Fairy and Ballerina Mice…

First, huge thanks for the response to the monster purse in the last post, sorry I haven’t replied to any of the comments yet, I’m a bit stressed at the moment and slightly loosing the plot.  Basically, it sounds like if I made these and popped them in the shop they might well sell, it simply comes down to time, first I need to crack on with promised Christmas commissions and we’ll see how it goes.

And so, as the title suggests I have finally finished the Fairy and Ballerina Mice.  I have to say, for some really odd reason these little ladies rather stretched me to the limit, I have broken 12 needles (yes, 12!!!!), thrown 10 little ballet shoe wearing legs in the bin (ribbons too short or twisted and unrecoverable) and twice stitched the fairy wings into a side seam.

The turning out of each Mouse was a squash and a squeeze.

But, I got there in the end and every little bit of effort was worth it as I love them.

So here they are.

Listed here

and here.

I couldn’t resist adding little ribbon roses, so they come with the obligatory ‘not suitable for children under 36 months’ but you could always remove the roses from the Ballerina mice.

I’ve shared them out between Folksy and my shop (as linked above) and now I feel a well deserved pink silk break, it’s on with Superhero Mice next!

PS, Spot the mistake in that last photo 🙂

Work in Progress: Christmas Mice

Well, we followed the boys colds with another one for C, only with added throat infection and then M being away, so as always when ‘home alone’ I’m a bit tired, but getting on with it.

I am always amazed at how much I get done with the boys early starts (we had 4.50 am on Thursday, I was delighted) for instance already today I have done 2 loads of laundry, baked 2 loaves of bread (1 white and 1 walnut, it’s a baking kind of day and we are out of bread), a Madeira cake and done F’s homework with him.  That’s pretty good considering it’s only midday.  I should stress, it’s not always like this but when tired, I kind of force myself to keep moving that way I manage, if I stop I will feel exhausted and unable to cope and although this does happen it’s better for us all if I can just keep going.

And so, I had set myself the task of finishing all the Foxes by the end of this week and it was going nicely until Friday when I was thinking of my list of Christmas designs and how late I am getting.  I then got slightly obsessed with the planned Christmas mice, thinking of how I would construct them, what materials I need to order and whether they should be young child friendly or not (ie no beads or buttons) and the poor Foxes have been put aside for a few days whilst I  play with silk and linen.

There’s a way to go and sadly my machine is being a bit temperamental (time for a service I think) but you get the idea.  I like them, they make me smile 🙂

Christmas Decorations…

Just in case you’ve been asleep and hadn’t noticed that Christmas is practically here, I though I’d share some photos of our Christmas house, past and present to get you in the Festive mood.  As I trawled through photos, I couldn’t help but notice 1. what a really bad camera we used to have hence the grainy photos and 2. how my taste hasn’t changed much over the years and I tend to stick with the same formulas.

The only photos of our last cottage is this one of the stairs (is it worrying that I photograph my Christmas decorations??!….probably!).

We were in the ‘new’ house for Christmas for the first time last year, despite owning it for 3 years.  In between there was a Christmas in Yorkshire and an extended stay at my sisters up the road whilst our house was stripped back to just the walls which went from from 6 weeks to 6 months….whilst very pregnant and with a then 18 month old Felix…less said about that the better I think.

Note the Jan Constantine union jack cushion gracing our chair.  The bits and bobs on a stretched wire on the window (I use the kind people hang net curtains from, stretched into hooks either side so it can easily be removed and stored for next year) has been a standard Christmas decoration for me for a few years, the boys like choosing which ‘things’ from the Christmas box get to hang there.   The cross stitch cards above come out every year as my Gran made them, she stitched nearly 90 every year for all her friends and family, starting in January with the next batch, I kid you not.

This year the kitchen has it’s usual white, bright look

(I emptied and cleaned all the jars as they were getting a bit dusty), even the cake had a bit of a silver and white thing going on due to a lack of coloured icing

and I sprayed the seed heads from Allium Purple Sensation that I have been storing in the greenhouse silver

you just throw them at the tree, after removing the stalks and get wonderful silver pompoms that stick all on their own.  The bright touch in the kitchen (there is always a bright touch against the whiteness) comes from the famous Mouse Advent Calender.

The tree looks remarkably like last years, being in the same place but this time with the addition of the new Fairy and a mixture of the Red Robins and Gold and Purple birds.

They work really well, I think and go very nicely with the wonderful red pompom’s that I bought some years ago from Pedlars, one of my best Christmas buys.

You may also notice some biscuits on the tree, I make these with the boys (to a Nigella recipe) and it’s always funny to see that there are little bites out of many of them after a few days!  I don’t even attempt chocolate decorations as they wouldn’t last a second.  The floor still hasn’t been laid so it’s our third year of cheap lino and no skirting…this is a half done house but we are getting there.  The picture behind is a signed Jamie Hewlett Gorillaz print, bought for me by husband as he knows I’m a Jamie Hewlett fan.  As you can see I have very eclectic taste, old watercolours and etchings sit happily along side modern work in our house, as does antique furniture next to modern design.

The last shot is of Doris/Glenda/Tammy sitting atop the tree, at the end of the day my Gran’s original paper version really is getting very fragile so from now on this is our new tree topper.

For anyone who hasn’t decorated yet (yeah, right!) I hope that gets you in the mood.

And the winner is…

Anne of Andamento.  Congrats Anne, there will be a Plum Fairy and some Christmas Birds winging their way to you Monday.

Thank you everyone who left a comment, I enjoyed doing a giveaway and think this will become a regular item on my blog.  As you can see we did this the old fashioned way with the help of my glamorous assistant, Felix and my old bowler hat.  Sorry for the awful photos but this was, as you can appreciate, a ‘live’ situation and as you may be able to see in the background we are in the middle of the pre Christmas toy culling session which is a little stressful as it largely involves me putting things in a box and the boys taking them out again.  Has to be done though, so best get back on with it.

Thanks again for your lovely comments!

Playing Catch-up…

It’s all go around here, I am ‘confined’ to the kitchen/living area again, this time because we have the decorators working in the hallway.  I am very excited as I am normally the painter and decorator but I really don’t have time, it’s odd paying someone else to do it, feels a bit like money down the drain but it’s so very exciting to peek in and see the transformation and there is no way with Mr C still at home full time that I could have done it.

The shop has also been busy, I seem to be packing and posting throughout the day.  In fact I had a run on fairies which I wasn’t expecting so there has been a lot of this

frantic last minute making, and I ran out of cashmere bears so have had to run up a batch of those

I am slightly alarmed that I will run out of the lovely cashmere/wool blend fabric as I only bought 6 meters and it was an ebay find so is all gone now.  I love it so much, I’m not sure what I will replace it with.  I have been doing a bit of ebay fabric buying recently, in fact this lovely Liberty Tana Lawn arrived this morning

The pattern is ‘Wiltshire’ and I have bought it for next winter (thinking ahead!).  My winter coat has the same fabric as lining and I have had a project in mind for some time, one I had planned for this year but haven’t had time for.

I’ve also packed up some stock for the School Christmas Bazaar,

they were asking for ‘homemade’ items to sell so this is my contribution.

There has been time for a little cooking, the squash I grew makes a great decoration but I wanted to make sure some gets eaten whilst still in it’s prime.  I made a squash pizza from the book Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros, one of my favourite cook books which has the best photos.

I am done now.  No more making for the shop, if I run out, I run out but I have blinds to make for my sister and still a bag to make for my Mother and I want some time to tidy and decorate the house (tidy being the big one right now) so I have decided to sew for the shop this week and then stop.  Yeah, right!  Like that’s gonna happen.

Finally, as always, I have found just a little bit of time for some online shopping (other than fabric) and I treated myself to

some Christmas origami cranes on the Folksy shop Little Crane to hang in the kitchen window and some book name stickers bought from the wonderfully talented (come on, we all know her) Emily Martin over at the black apple.

Right, need to get on, things to do, places to go and all that.  Oh, there’s still time to enter my Christmas giveaway if you haven’t left a comment, go on, it’s free!

(PS sorry for the dodgy photos but the light has been very bad as of late)

Christmas give away…

Yep, I am feeling festive and my Online Shop is about to turn 1 (this is in fact my second shop, the first was created in Google but was a bit hard work so I moved to MrSite last December), so what better way to celebrate than with a festive Christmas give away.  So, I have one Plum Fairy and one set of Purple and Gold Birds up for grabs (she looks rather dull but I promise Plum Fairy is a rather jaunty shade of purple not dingy brown).

All you have to do is leave a comment on this post, any comment, doesn’t have to be long, just say ‘hi there’ if that’s all you wish and comments must be left by Friday 27th November.  I’ll post anywhere, but abroad will be by regular Airmail so it may take a while.

That’s it.  Ahhhh, my first ever give away, almost brings a tear to the eye…

Christmas Fairies…

I talk a lot about my love of hoarding, vintage and especially about my Gran’s belongings, at Christmas it is a custom for us to have her fairy on the tree.  We think it is from her early married days so probably mid 1930’s and sadly, is getting a little worse for wear so say the least.

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My Mother allowed me to use it for the last two years, as she spent Christmas with us (Grandchildren change everything) and I figured it was about time I made a copy before the original disintegrates entirely.  I had planned to make an exact copy of the original, in card and tissue, but realised that it would translate well into fabric so back in June when I was in ‘Wet Yorkshire ModeI treated myself to some new silk and got working on a sample.

I am amazed at how slow my design progress was on this one.  I sort of pottered on a bit every now and again, in fact, the silk inspired me to make my sweet pea cushions in July first.

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By September I figured I had better get a move on so some of the bodies were made, M remarked at the time that they looked like aliens and I fear he was not wrong.

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There are some rather cross and bog-eyed fairies in this batch but I rather think that’s the beauty of handmade, it would be boring if they were identical.  The wings were a bit tricky to stitch in the slippery silk

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but finally they are done, or the first few anyway.  They are a little plumper than the original (but aren’t we all!) and the hair has a definite Tammy Wynette feel, I am sure if I was designing them from sctatch they would be a little more stylised but I am pleased with the result.

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They are made in silk and wool, with the exception of the silver ric-rac.  I am not a fan of using glue, don’t know why as there is no real reason, but I had to UHU then stitch the hair into place and the backs have a long ribbon for tying them into the tree, or looping so they can be hung as an ornament.

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My final problem is trying get a true colour photo of the plum version.  As you can see I haven’t really nailed that one yet, even outside in natural light the colour is very off, in reality it’s a bright plum purple.

I am not sure how I will price these, they take an insane amount of work and the silk isn’t cheap but the price has to be affordable so I’ll need to think on that one.

Right, only a few more days of hand sewing to get the rest finished!

I love Sundays…

M is away.  He goes quite a lot and I always have mixed feelings, not sure if it’s just me but I get a lot done when he is gone, it makes me realise he is rather messy and it’s not just the kids I clear up after.  The flip side is I am on my own with the boys 24-7 which can be very, very tiring.  For those who read this blog a bit you will know I have early risers, the average is 6 am but it is quite often earlier and both our boys tend to wake during the night, however this morning it was 7.30 – hurrah!  and I feel goooooood.  Must admit didn’t sleep great as spent night panicking about not getting enough sleep (as you do) but 7.30 am is pretty amazing for our two.

In the back of such a good start, I feel determined to make the most of Sunday.  The ‘Shopping Man’ is due any moment with our food delivery, which I only booked yesterday (I LOVE Ocado).  We have a chicken on it’s way to roast this afternoon, I have been back reading the ‘52 Weeks, 52 Chickens’ posts at Distracted Gourmet which are great, I haven’t been swayed into Jamie’s ‘Chicken in Milk’ but I have always wondered if it’s any good and I will try some of the other recipes.  I am desperate to get old style Sunday lunch a fixture in our house, M is resisting, he hates how food oriented I can be but I was brought up in a foodie family, we ate quite exotic food and I was surrounded by great cooks.  I really want the boys to grow up with the ceremony of a big family sit down on Sundays, walks in the afternoon, relaxing together, all of that.

The shopping man came whilst I was writing, so it’s 9.53am and I have ‘done’ the weekly shop, put a load of washing on, made up a half batch of Delia’s Mincemeat to steep overnight, tidied the kitchen, fed and cuddled up with the boys; the Sun is shining and I really do feel great!

Before some photos to liven this rather ‘chatty’ post you will probably realise from my happiness that the builders are not here today.  It’s our first day builder free for weeks and we now have windows and a single radiator in the back so it’s not like walking into a dusty freezer, which is a major break through.

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I find cooking very relaxing and I love making jams/pickles etc, it’s a perfect Sunday pottering kind of project.  Above is stage one of Delia’s mincemeat recipe which is filling the Kitchen with lovely aromas.  Last year I made ‘Pear and Ginger suet free mincemeat’ from the River Cottage Preserves Handbook (No 2) which was great but I was inspired by my new book to go back to Delia this year.

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Finally, yesterday’s work bench.  First glance at my Christmas Fairies which I have been working on for a while.  I have managed to get some general photos taken of new shop products so I’ll blog later with the details.

Right, onwards and upwards!