Ticking the list off…

I’ve knuckled down a bit here and thanks to a rainy day today have worked though some more of the half done projects.

First up I finished the lavender stack.  It’s pretty high when piled up (it will be fastened with a nice ribbon and tag for selling) so I’m now wondering if I should actually sell them in stacks of two instead?  I should also mention these are quite big 13 x 12 cm in fact and stuffed only with lavender, also the backs are in plain linen, which annoyingly cost more than the Echino so was a bit of a stupid move.

I guess they would then be sold in the pairs above, I haven’t worked out the pricing yet but it’s going to be about £15 for a 4 stack and £7.50 for a 2 stack (before P&P), all thoughts on this are most welcome.

I also spent today making up some new brown Linen Cats (shocking light today so please excuse the photos)

I used to make a dark-ish green linen cat but I found the weave a bit flat in colour whereas this brown has a different warp and weft thread so it has a bit more life to it.  I really like the green button eyes.

I had some dresses already made up but still need to pick the final bead details (for the ‘hair’) and the third is a boy so he needs his tweed trouser/scarf combo.

So, all in all a pretty productive day.  I want to work through all my open projects (which could take some time) and then sort out the studio.  We are having the flooring fitted downstairs soon (wooden over electric under floor heating) and it’s the final biggie of the house, I have become mightily sick of staring at the cheap unfitted lino and I’m ready to put skirting on and pictures up throughout the house, after 4 years here now I think I’ve earned that 🙂

And the winner is…….

Jill of I should have listened to my Mother blogspot (Jill writes a lovely blog, you should go and check it out) who wrote comment No. 16.  As you can see, I didn’t use the old random number generator, I enlisted the help of my glamorous assistant (oh and mental note: do remember to tidy the background of the shot next time – doh!) and he obliged only after I took photos of his new Gormitis, he was a bit grumpy so I’ll be using the younger but happier to help glamorous assistant next time!  He’s cuter but slightly harder to control.

So, one of the gang will be on it’s way to Jill soon, after which I will pop the rest in the shop.  I have been in the studio quite a bit this week working on some replenishment products in new colours, which deserve a post of their own but I wanted to ‘announce the winner’ before heading outside to make the most of this lovely weather.  I hope you are having some sun and a very relaxing weekend 🙂

101st post?!! Blog Anniversary Giveaway…

Ha, ha, so I wanted to do a Giveaway for my 100th post but I have somehow got myself muddled so this is in fact the 101th post Giveaway…oh, well, the best laid plans and all that 😉

I guess I should really write about how much I love blogging (which I do) and how I enjoy the on-line community it has brought (which is also true) but instead I’m going to waffle on about my favourite product, the Linen Cats & Bunnies.

OK, so the first shop item I ever made was a Linen Bunny, which I created for my oldest son (now about to turn 5!) followed by a Cat version and that’s how The Linen Cat was born, as simple as that.  They remain one of my favourite things to make, not least because I don’t make any two alike, I will often make more than one dress or set of trousers in the same fabric but they will always have different trimmings.

(I have just checked my blog for a link to the full bunny story only to realise that this is a double celebration as The Linen Bunny itself is now 2 years old!!)

It’s been a while since I made any, as they sell in flits, nothing for a while then I’ll sell quite a few, usually to the same family or group of friends, so it appears that they sell better in ‘the flesh’ as it where.  I think the price might put people off as compared to many homemade looking, but mass produced softies they cost more but they take quite a long time to make and the material costs are one of the highest, I also think the attention to detail doesn’t come over very well in the photos and the restriction on MrSite to 1 photo is a bit of an issue (I could pay to upgrade, allowing me 3, but I am a little unhappy with some bugs on MrSite right now).

Finally, the ‘not suitable for children under 36 months due to small parts’ I know puts people off.  Quite a few Linen Cats & Bunnies have been given as Christening presents and I guess most sensible parents would not be daft enough to put an item with buttons and beads in bed with a chewing baby, or allow them to play unsupervised….I could loose all the beads/buttons but I so love the detail of the back button on the boys tweed trousers, I’m not sure I could part with that.

So, for giveaway, we have either the Oatmeal Girl Linen Cat in Flower Dress with Red Buttons (as above) OR an Oatmeal Boy Linen Cat in Tweed Trousers with Red Trim (also as above).  The winner can choose which of the two they want.  To enter, please simply leave a comment on this post.  That’s all, nothing fancy just say ‘hi’.  I will close the giveaway on Friday 14th May (midnight BST) and I’m happy to post worldwide so anyone can enter (but the package will be sent by Airmail so might take a while).

Finally, I know you know this, but I really enjoy reading everyones comments on my blog and I totally appreciate anyone who takes the time to write.  I do try to reply and rest assured that anyone I know about I do also read your blogs, some as a lurker and some ‘out in the open’, I am just quite bad at leaving comments sometimes, for which, I do apologise 🙂

I’m back….sort of…

After the blog lull of the Easter Holidays everyone else seems to be back in the swing of things and I am feeling suitably guilty at my lack of posts.  We had a nice break, once we got over the flu/cold/eye infections, we made the most of the beautiful weather with lots of trips to our local parks, zoos and woods and there was a daily ‘picnic’ in the garden for the boys lunch.  I have to admit though, I was ready for them to go back to school, they had become a little bored towards the end and I was starting to feel like one of those stressed entertainers you see at some kids party, all smiles and jolly faces, frantically trying to keep the kids entertained but inside screaming, “get me out of here!”.

I was holding off blogging in the hope of showing you all my lovely new makes but I am finding myself distracted by the house which I want to Spring clean and decorate (and tidy first!) and there just aren’t enough hours in the day.  I have found time to made a start on some new Linen Cats and Bunnies,

there is a bit of a boy shortage in the shop plus it will soon be my 100th post so I am planning to give one away (I will hopefully be blogging the giveaway shortly, once the girls are completed).  As you can see I am enjoying the bright colours of Spring flowers in our garden and this is reflected in my fabric and trimmings choice.

That is, of course, the final distraction, April is rather a busy time in the garden but things are getting under control now so I should be able to spend some proper time in the studio soon and finally finish some of the projects in process, now wont that be nice!

Is it a mouse, a cat, a bear…?

For those who know my work, The Linen Cat started with, in fact, a linen bunny which quickly progressed to a cat and these are still my favourite things, I especially love the mix of linen against the bright cotton prints.  The cats/bunnies are, however, one of the most expensive things that I sell as there is a lot of work and fabric involved (all the tweed trousers and dresses are removable and lined) and although I go to every length to make sure they are hard wearing and washable the buttons mean I have to state they are unsuitable for children under 36 months.  I have thought for a while about making something that mixes the same combination of fabrics but is a bit smaller, simpler in construction and young child friendly and also has a hint of my mouse egg cosy.

Some designs are very organic and ‘just happen’, others I think about, draw down and tweak a lot before I am happy.  In this case my starting point was the linen cats/bunnies, the mouse egg cosy and existing patterns (as I have written before I like to try and keep some continuity with shapes and sizes – the latter to make easier packaging and posting!).

Pattern one is based on the one used for the Wool Bunnies, and it’s passable but not right.  The head doesn’t work, I quite like slightly weird shaped heads but I know from sales, not to go too abstract.  By the way, the cute owl fabric is from the new additions at Fabric Rehab and was an extra sent to me on my last order (thanks Sally), I am rather smitten and will have to buy more.

Apart from the head shape, I struggled to stitch up the body, there wasn’t enough room to tuck the arms and legs in (the legs in the corners of the triangle dress were a nightmare) so I have made pattern two wider at the top and I’ve moved the legs in a bit.

I am also trying out new heads in cotton, so I can draw on them and not waste good linen and also because the shapes change so much once stuffed.  I think the cat is the winner but I am worried about making my lovely full size Linen Cats redundant if there is a cheaper smaller more ‘young child’ friendly version.  As always any opinions greatly appreciated.

Hummm, plenty to think on, in the meantime I am waiting for fabric ordered for the project and I need to pre-wash and dye some existing linen.  Little mouse has gone to live on the shelf with some of my other samples…she may get buttons on her dress, just for fun, at a later date.

Early Christmas Celebrations…

It’s been a slightly odd and busy few days, F missed his last day of school due to an overnight pile of snow and everywhere closing up.  It was a good 20 cm, which for Kent is a lot, in fact the most I’ve seen here ‘down South’ and despite the sun it’s still with us, as I write it’s all rather dripping and wet but still quite thick on the ground so I think we’ll have a few more days of snowiness yet.

I closed my shops last Thursday, which was lucky considering it was Thursday night the snow came, some of the last packages to go were the Foxy Twins, for which I made an additional butterfly lavender bag (to my original lavender bag design, set to make a come back in the New Year).  Thanks everyone for bidding on them (and Nicky for winning – hope they have arrived OK).

Another order going out last week were these Linen Cats, I couldn’t help but think they went very nicely together as I was packing them up

I am now running very low on Linen Boys but I have packed up the sewing machine until after the New Year, so replenishing the shop will wait.

I finally finished the last Roman Blind for my sister’s cottage in Yorkshire, altogether there have been 6 to make and they are VERY large, about 230 cm wide which is about as big as you can go with Roman Blinds.  The last two (for her kitchen) had stripes of my favourite Linen from Tinsmith on the sides so I used it as an excuse to buy a little for myself, it’s expensive but I have a special project in mind for next Spring.  As always, Mr C ‘helped’, he likes to drive his car up and down the lines, complete with F’s Gormitis inside as he only gets to play with them when F is at school (this is not a posed shot, I came back into the kitchen to find the car as photographed).

The blinds are now on their way to Yorkshire with my brother who has just been to visit us for the weekend.  We were very happy to see him (especially the boys, he is F’s new BF), he rarely gets away from the farm as it’s hard to find someone willing to look after it for a couple of days and he still made the journey despite the snow, so we were very pleased.  As my sister lives around the corner but is away for Christmas we had an early pretend lunch, complete with all the trimmings followed by some snowy antics outside and a little competitive brother/sister snow fight (I stood inside watching and taking photos which seemed like the best option to me).

All in all it’s been a great weekend, it’s becoming increasingly rare for me to see my brother and sister at the same time and we had such a nice day, I am now looking forward to a nice quiet Christmas with just M and the boys and hopefully some time to relax, we have such a lot to be grateful for and I feel very happy and contented right now.  I hope you have all had a nice weekend and f I don’t post again and for those who celebrate it, I wish you a very Merry Christmas!

A Mixed Bag…

It’s all gone a bit Pete Tong.  Just in case you were hoping to see a lovely patchwork bag or something as the title suggest, sorry, but there are some highlights so do keep reading (and I’ll apologise now for the dodgy photos but the light is very bad here today).

The Good

It all started last night, I received a late night order, from a Gentleman no less! (not many of those order from my website) and he chose very well….unless it’s a girl using her other half’s PayPal address which has happened in the past…either way, I said good bye to my last SALE cat, which was ordered along with an Orange Winter Berry Cushion, they look good together don’t you think?  I added a little Egg Cosy as an extra.

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The Bad

Now, I am going to have to divert here for a little introduction to

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Smelly, my cat.  Her real name is Smilla after ‘Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow‘, one of my favourite books but she has always been called Smelly.  I will give you a full cat history another time, the thing is, Smelly has only had part house access since we moved here 3 years ago as she daily brings dead animals in.  I am OK, with this, she is a cat after all, but when Charlie was younger and mostly crawling it wasn’t very nice so at night she has been restricted to the utility room in a cosy bed by the boiler and she isn’t allowed in bedrooms.  As we have no door in our new (old) extension she has been lounging about on the beds at night and last night she PEED on my bed!  She has a history of doing this and it’s partly how she became known as Smelly.  I was not best pleased but luckily the cat wee hadn’t gone all the way through to the mattress, only the duvet and sheets.

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The Really Bad

This morning, after getting some of the bedding into the wash, I packed up my order and was about to pop off to the post office when F’s school rang.  My should-know-better 4 1/2 yr old had shoved a bead up his nose, buried Pirate treasure apparently, so I had to pick him up and take him to A&E, along with Charlie on the doctor’s orders.  After a 2 hr wait (with me trying to get F to blow his nose really hard and yes, I did try tweezers) he had the lovely pink bead removed.  He wont be doing that again in a hurry.

Getting Better Again

I came home to find I had another order, this time for a Betsy Wool Bunny

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if you are wondering what the little bird attached to a card is all about, I have a big packaging post on it’s way that will explain all.

The Best Bit

Whilst out, the postman came by with a number of parcels.  This could have been bad, except we have great postmen who often sign for my packages leave them in a safe place.  So I came home with hungry, tired children and chips to cheer them up, to

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find my 2010 Calenders as ordered from Snapfish.  This has become a staple Christmas present for my immediate family, all my Father’s photos are on slides, which I am slowly scanning so each year I put together a Calender with a mix of old and new photos, I always wait for the half price sale and then get them ordered.

The Very Best Bit

Having saved the best bit until last (I waited over an hour to open this parcel as I knew what was inside and wanted to be relaxed with a coffee to hand, so as to really enjoy the experience) here is an order I placed with Nicky, of NickyNackyNoo.

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Nicky makes lovely things, plenty of which are for boys, an area I fail dismally to cover.  I have bought some of her great traffic jam bunting in the past and thought it would be nice for the boys to have hot water bottles so I ordered these covers.  Nicky added some fab tweed, for which I have a perfect project in mind and a bonus bag of flower fridge magnets, made using photos taken in her garden – how great is that!

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So it’ all looking up, best go and get the next load of laundry in and maybe fix our bedroom door so I can close it in future.