of mice and men..and cats

Last night was wild – and not in a good way! The noise of the wind and the feeling that the house was shaking was somewhat unnerving and watching the updates on the Dorset coast (where we have a tiny wee holiday flat) was downright scary. We have friends who live there permanently and I hope they are ok as I see many people were evacuated and spent the night in a local pub or in a school. If the flat flooded, it’s just things, but people are far more precious. It has been one storm after enough, each stronger and more damaging than the one before. I heard on the radio this morning that 41,000 properties are without power this morning. Watching it from our safe, dry house in Bath it feels apocalyptic, so how must it feel when the waves are crashing over your home or your farm is is two or three metres under water or even in the middle of London buildings are collapsing in the path of the storm? It is still windy, but the sun is shining and the worst of the latest storm is over. It feels as though the whole country is praying for calm and sunshine and Spring.

This morning I opened the living room curtains to evidence of a stormy Valentine’s day…I wonder who attempted to charm their loved one and was beaten by the wind?

after the Valentine's storm
after the Valentine’s storm

I know this post is supposed to be of mice and men and cats, but I want to reverse the order and start with the cats.

of cats

Our two cats were as freaked out by the storm last night as we were, and it is so nice to see them calm and soaking up a sunny respite in the weather…

Max, dozing in the sun
feline sun-worshipper
who? me?

…even if naughty Rio tries to destroy the sofa! (it’s ok, I made extra strong covers for the parts of the sofa he scratches…not a pulled thread in sight)

naughty cat!
naughty cat!

…and when I made him stop, he decided to read the paper, and really got in to it!

Rio in the paper
Rio in the paper
newspaper cat
newspaper cat

of men

Yesterday was Valentine’s day. Mark and I don’t tend to do a lot to mark the day, but had intended to go out for lunch yesterday as Mark had the day off. The weather was so awful, we decided to stay in and had a Chinese takeaway in the evening instead. I made Mark a card…a free motion machine embroidery of Max the cat. Quite proud of it actually; didn’t draw it on the fabric first, just sketched it in stitches. It is so much fun drawing in thread!

free motion machine embroidery cat's whiskers Valentine's card
free motion machine embroidery cat’s whiskers Valentine’s card

I also made some shortbread hearts and split them between Mark and our elderly next door neighbour…sharing the love (and the calories!).

shortbread hearts
shortbread hearts
glittery shortbread hearts

As for me, I was treated to red roses, champagne and a big ole chocolate heart! (sorry phone photo is so grainy – had just come back from doc pulling around my dodgy knees and was not getting up to fetch proper camera!)

Valentine’s treats
red roses!

of mice

I keep an old style Ellen Mouse in my work room/dining room (not CE markable as has bead eyes and whiskers that will pull out under 7kg of tug) and I use her as a model for when I get requests for additional clothes for a re-homed Ellen Mouse. Until this week she has had to sit on my fabric shelves in nowt but her vest and frilly pants so I pinched a tiny bit of some trim I was given to make her a dress…reminds me of a 1970s Laura Ashley maxi dress.

Ellen Mouse in her vest and pants
Ellen Mouse’s new maxi dress

What’s more Ellen had nagged and nagged about extending her range…so now in my online shop Ellen Mouse cards and Ellen Mouse zip pouch bag!

Ellen Mouse greetings card
Ellen Mouse zip pouch

While in the mood for free-motion machine embroidery I made a couple more zip pouches, sketching first and then doing a bit of applique and embroidery: available in my shop.

blue tit sketch for free motion embroidery
blue tit zip pouch
cone flower and bees sketch
cone flower and bees zip pouch

I also made a little zip coin purse/makeup bag – the fabric is just too pretty to need any embellishment!

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I am still experimenting with products to decide on my ‘niche’ and plan to make some paper sculptures in the coming week, to see how they go down with my customers. Here is one I made earlier (lots of years earlier).

paper geisha
paper geisha

a splash of colour

After what feels like months of grey, rain and gale force winds, we have had spells of sunshine today and I am choosing to focus on colour.

In the January sales I treated myself to a set of colourful ribbons (Cox and Cox) and a set of threads (Amazon) and some bright pins (eBay). On grey days, they hint of Spring.

 

The cats have been spending the long rainy days keeping me company – Max asleep on the ironing board (why must he do that? I always have to go over it with sellotape before I use it!) and Rio on the chair next to me.

company in my workroom
company in my workroom

I think the cats have become so used to constant rain they had not noticed today’s sunshine, so I ushered them outside.

I went out with the cats and found the crocus and snowdrops are coming out!

The pots of young raspberry plants where the raised beds will be in due course, and the wind chimes in the Bramley tree add further pops of colour.

bright tubs of young raspberry plants
bright tubs of young raspberry plants
wind chimes in one of the apple trees
wind chimes in one of the apple trees

In the kitchen, I have been making seville orange marmalade, stacking them on the windowsill to catch the light.

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All these thoughts of Spring make me want to dig out the bright Easter fabric I bought a few weeks back. Now, what to sew….!

 

 

 

 

 

I think mice are rather nice!

I don’t know where the week has gone! I spent last weekend in London with my stepmother – a lovely chance to catch up, indulge calorifically and enjoy the ballet (Matthew Bourne’s ‘Swan Lake’ at Sadler’s Wells). Then I have been researching and approaching some fantastic crafters to run crafty nights out for the Bath WI. We had an energised and enthusiastic committee meeting, complete with smoked salmon sandwiches and sparkling wine (well it is Bath, darling!). My only concern was the talk of working with the Federation…am I the only one who grew up watching ‘Blake’s 7’ to know that the last thing you should do is work with the Federation!!! (looks around nervously for Servalan and Travis).

My stepmother sent me home with a bag full of her mother’s grandmother’s and we think maybe great grandmother’s lace, table linen, nightdresses and bloomers. Some I will make in to bags, as I am doing with the antique Russian embroidered linen I took home with me the last visit.

drawstring bag made from antique Russian embroidered linen
drawstring bag made from antique Russian embroidered linen

The bloomers are going to theatrical Maddie to adorn Alice in Wonderland.

lace detail
lace detail
antique Russian bloomers
antique Russian bloomers

The nightdress is so perfect it is tempting just to keep it as a nightdress, but it might get more use if I were to turn it in to a Summer dressing gown.

antique nightdress
antique nightdress

 

Sewing wise I have been making aprons and lavender bags and some more Ellen mice…I am thinking of selling sweaters separately, so I can reduce the price of the mice….what do you think?

‘If I knew you were coming I’d have baked a cake’ apron.

A few lavender bag hearts and cats.

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lavender bag cats

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Ellen Mouse in grey and white, sporting reversible Spring tunics.

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I will put the new mice in the shop on Monday, when I can take some better photos for Etsy. For now I need to chop seville orange rind – baked in the oven earlier – and boil up the marmalade and pour it in to sterilised jars. I love homemade marmalade! Then I need to get my head around mailchimp for my first Deerey Me newsletter, oh and plant some seeds in the grow house. I guess this is where the time goes…on stuff.

 

 

 

some more Valentine’s cards

I am still grabbed by the free-motion bug and have made a load more cards (in my shop now: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/DeereyMe) Here are a few of them.

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This week I plan to make some zipper pouches using the same techniques.

 

Christmas seems like a long time ago now, but I would like to share a couple of my presents that really help with the day job.

1) A bobbin sidewinder from Mark’s mum and dad. This fantastic little gadget is battery powered and allows me to wind bobbins really easily and without having to unthread and rethread my sewing machine…cool!

bobbin sidewinder
bobbin sidewinder

2) A Roberts DAB radio with bluetooth from Mark. I know it is lazy, but the bluetooth aspect of this lovely retro style radio is brilliant – I don’t have to leave my sewing machine to change music or audiobook or volume and it stops when my phone rings – perfect. I love it. I couldn’t photograph it without including the painting on the wall beside it. An oil painting by Helen Campbell. It never ceases to inspire me – I see more in it every time I look at it and can find myself staring at it for far too long. Helen and I worked together in a London investment bank 25 years ago or more and it is strange to see how far away we now both are from our banking days.

Roberts radio
Roberts radio

 

In other news…for months and months there has been a note on the chalk board in our kitchen reminding me to mend Mark’s work chinos (actually for a while it reminded me to find and mend them). It is quite some time since I did any dressmaking and I have never made trousers (except for a bridegroom mouse) and I guess I was putting it off. This weekend I finally got around to taking out the old broken zip to see how it had been fitted and sewing in a new zip. It was fiddly, but I am quite proud of myself for having persevered and not just throwing out the trousers. A bit of an iron and they are fit to go!

replaced zip
replaced zip

 

In addition, you may remember I shared with you Max the cat’s efforts to fit in to a too small box…

cat in a box...well almost
cat in a box…well almost

…well I am pleased to announce that he has now found a box he can squeeze in to! Yay for Max!

Max in a box
Max in a box

 

Finally, we had another sunny day yesterday so Mark and I went for a walk locally – heading away from the city in to the countryside. There is more in Deere Diary.

 

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year!

A little early you may think, to be wishing everyone a happy new year, but my online shop is now closed and I will not be around next week. The house is all clean and tidy awaiting our kind and lovely house/cat sitters, the bags are packed and the seaside awaits! I am hoping for icy, blustery walks with wild seas…but no flooding please! I may have to bore you with a photo or two when I get back.

Edit: Oh dear – just had a flood warning from the Environment Agency for West Bay. It doesn’t look like the drive down would be very safe and the forecast is for rain all week, so we have decided to stay here…I will go now and reopen my Etsy shop. We will make the most of it – after all Bath is a pretty nice place to be anyway – perhaps dinner out and maybe the Hobbit at the cinema.

Talking of photos, I often get my sewing inspiration from the photos I take of gardens and birds and bugs…and seascapes of course. This morning I woke to a world white with frost and was out at first light with my camera. I thought you might like to see some of my shots…

windchimes
windchimes
frosty leaves
frosty leaves
frosty leaf detail
frosty leaf detail
sunlight on a bed of leaves (really must clear these up!)
sunlight on a bed of leaves (really must clear these up!)
early morning sunlight on frost
early morning sunlight on frost
Rio the cat
Rio the cat
playful Rio
playful Rio
the frost sent Rio a little crazy
the frost sent Rio a little crazy
sunlight on the windchimes
sunlight on the windchimes
sunlight catching the frost as it melts
sunlight catching the frost as it melts
geranium veins
geranium veins
bug house
I can see you!
I can see you!
frosty seed heads
frosty seed heads
frost on the sage
frost on the sage
sunlight and frost on the windchimes that hang from one of our apple trees
sunlight and frost on the windchimes that hang from one of our apple trees

Now I had every intention of stopping here, but as I uploaded the images from camera, Max the cat decided he would fit in the small box on the table beside me. My phone was to hand and I recorded his valiant attempts…! I guess I am not the only one who needs to diet in the new year.

cat in a box...well almost
cat in a box…well almost

I hope everyone has a fun new year’s eve and a happy, healthy and creative 2014.

pinnies and pencil cases

Much later typing this than I planned. Spent most of yesterday in the garden – a bit of tidying up straggly plants, sweeping leaves and lifting turf where we plan to put raised beds. I confess that my arms rather gave out – it’s hard work! – and I left Mark and his dad lifting turf and his mum picking up leaves and went to make soup and put together bacon butties. Foolishly I decided to do some sewing in the afternoon, planning to do the last hour’s work turf-lifting this morning, but today has been wet all day! It did however, mean I could do more sewing and make some more jam jar snow scenes today.

First, however, my lovely neighbours whose house backs on to ours kindly agreed to model some of my aprons – thank you! I had a really nice time, chatting away and drinking tea (and their little girl is so fab, I might see if I can borrow her sometime if she perhaps fancies decorating gingerbread houses for Christmas…my nieces are all far too old for such things these days). Unfortunately, I clearly was paying too much attention to the foreground (and the chatting…I do like a bit of a chat!) and realised when I looked at the photos that quite a few have my bags and the other aprons messing up the background. Some judicious cropping has resulted in some usable photos, but I must concentrate more another time.

Yesterday’s sewing took the form of a couple of pencil cases. I love this Star Wars fabric and had seen a pencil roll for coloured pencils and wanted to have a go. I think I will change the design a little another time, but it’s quite fun. Sorry about the poor quality photos – should have taken them earlier in the day!

coloured pencil roll
coloured pencil roll
pencil roll
pencil roll
pencil case
pencil case

Today’s bit of rain-induced sewing was a larger version of the Autumn artist trading card (ATC) I did for the Very Berry Handmade ATC swap – another ATCer liked it and asked if I would make her one too (and what’s more she is making me one in return!).

bigger version of the little dog Autumn ATC
bigger version of the little dog Autumn ATC

Finally, a thank you to the Book People – not only are the books I ordered as Christmas presents really nice, the cats really appreciate the box!

oh cute!
oh cute!
cats in a box
cats in a box

getting old?

Maybe it’s the effect of a wet, grey day or two, but I have been feeling a little old this last week. Old dodgy knees (to be fair they have been dodgy since I was six years old, so I cannot entirely blame old age), tinnitus that had me saying “pardon” every couple of minutes at the Bath WI wine tasting and an inability to sleep beyond 04.00 have worked together to make me feel 40 years older than I am.¬† I’m actually not feeling terribly sad about it all, just…pensive. As I tidied up the flowers Mark bought me a week or so back, it struck me that some people are like roses – glamorous and showy when young but quick to fade and wilt, and soon on their way to the green recycling bin.

faded rose
faded rose

Perhaps others are more like the ornamental cabbage – rather homely but with a delicate beauty as they grow older. Well I know I was never a rose, but maybe, just maybe, I’m a cabbage!

ornamental cabbage aging gracefully
ornamental cabbage aging gracefully

Even my once fierce pumpkin…

grrrr...
grrrr…
trick or treat
trick or treat

…has become old and gummy. Ah well, at least I’m not mouldy!

gummy and mouldy...not a good look
gummy and mouldy…not a good look

These cooler Autumn days I do have to hold on to a little ferocity though, or lose my work chair to the cats…well fierce isn’t so much my thing…and the wooden dining chairs are not so uncomfortable. Would you have the heart to move them???

brotherly love...or at least warmth
brotherly love…or at least warmth

While the cats don’t want to move much at all, George the spaniel from down the road gets quite huffity with me if I hold him up on his walk to take a photo. Although, he may just have the cafe in the park in his sights – he always pulls to go in.

what are you stopping for?
what are you stopping for?

Ah well, had a lovely family lunch yesterday – laughing so much my face hurt. I have the best sister! Mum seemed to have a good time too as she modeled her new scarf.

Mum
Mum

I suppose I should include some craft – it is supposed to be a craft blog – so here is the birthday card I made Mum. It was quite a change to make a card that was not Christmassy – I am so hooked on free motion machine sewing, and will be making a load more this afternoon. I have an idea of a snow globe…!

birthday card for Mum
birthday card for Mum

ta dah!

Just a quick post – the lovely people at Making magazine chose my dalek pincushions as the winning entry for this week’s Monday Makes! I have been getting Making for a little while now (since Sue in my old office recommended it) and have sneakily been waiting for a good subscription offer. Last month’s issue offered a huge bundle of sewing goodies; really useful things like shears and pinking shears and a number of large reels of extra strong thread and…well you get the picture…so I took the plunge and took out a subscription (you don’t need to subscribe to enter the weekly competition on Facebook). I have entered a few things in the weekly competition on the Making Facebook page and was really delighted to win this week. I know it’s just a weekly Facebook competition, but it means a lot to me!

While I am here, I have made a few more things:

Christmas cards with robins…

robin Christmas card
robin Christmas card

I like the way the fabric frays a little around the edges; rather like feathers I think.

robin detail
robin detail

 

glove cats and dogs (not in the shop, as I can’t CE mark them as have not yet been able to track down reasonably priced gloves with EN71-3 dye data – if anyone knows of a suitable manufacturer, do let me know!)…

glove cats and dogs
glove cats and dogs

and a couple more linen zip pouch bags with round trees and little bird buttons…

green tree, red birds
green tree, red birds
green tree, white birds
green tree, white birds

 

I also made a child’s apron with a flower pot pocket and a white daisy growing out of it – will take photos tomorrow.

 

 

the cat’s whiskers

Two mile stones today…or you could even say three:

1) I finished the quilt I started in November;

2) I made my first glove cat; and

3) I have 52 likes on my facebook page – not a lot compared to other pages but definitely not bad, given I don’t even have my Etsy shop open yet (thank you everyone!)

vibrant quilt with hand-appliqued hearts

I have decided to keep the quilt myself. This sort of hand stitching is too time consuming to make it practical to sell at a price that would cover my time, and I love the colours, and I have never kept a quilt before – it is something I have only ever made for other people. I think I also prefer more quilting, to keep it flat, and may go back and quilt it more in due course. Max the cat has already made it clear he wants to share the quilt with me…hence the cat fur!

finished quilt
finished quilt

Oops; this really needs pressing!

vibrant quilt
vibrant quilt
vibrant quilt detail
vibrant quilt detail

I used blanket stitch variations – whipped, crossed, closed and alternating between short and long stitches – and I really like the effect of the stitches on the back of the quilt (despite the cat hairs!).

reverse of vibrant quilt
reverse of vibrant quilt

glove-cat

Having made a number of dogs from Miyako Kanamori’s books, I thought I should try a cat. I have used stitching to shape the paws, rather than the pipe-cleaners that Miyako uses, as I want these to be suitable for babies and don’t want any wire poking through. No buttons either, as I don’t want any choking hazards.

glove cat
glove cat

I also got to spend a wonderful afternoon yesterday with a Bath WI friend and her daughter – two amazingly creative ladies. I came away full of enthusiasm, confidence boosted and excited about the future.