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!


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

Be my Valentine…?

I don’t know where this week has gone. I seem to have been busy every waking moment and yet so many ideas have yet to be realised. I am now starting to turn to ideas for Valentines Day – for the shop, not for Mark and me! At best we are likely to have something nice for tea, although the last couple of years when we agreed not to get each other gifts, Mark has come home with a large bouquet of red roses anyway.

First things first though; I have framed the Little Red Riding Hood piece. What do you think?

Little Red Riding Hood, framed
Little Red Riding Hood, framed

Also, while my mind was full of woodland farytales, I made a batch of mushroom/toadstool pincushions – so much fun to make.

I think my next fairytale will be the Princess and the Pea – I can picture it very clearly in my mind.

So now to Valentines. I have a load of ideas and started working out some free-motion/applique cards. I hadn’t tried much free-motion writing until this week and have been pleasantly surprised with the results (although I think you can see the difference between the beginning and end of the week). These will be in my shop next week, once the packaging arrives.

Firstly, my love of bees could not be contained:

bee mine!
bee mine!

Secondly, I am a big fan of Peter Pan and love the idea of Wendy giving Peter a thimble, when she offers him a kiss – as he does not know what a kiss is (of course, having no concept of what a kiss is terribly sad). I am hoping that the thimble/kiss reference is not too cryptic.

Wendy's 'kiss'
Wendy’s ‘kiss’

Lastly (so far), as a resident of Bath, I felt I needed a little Jane Austen.

Mr Darcy to Lizzie Bennett
Mr Darcy to Lizzie Bennett

In the coming week I will make some more of these, along with some ‘You are my Mr Darcy’, ‘Fly me to the moon’ with some gorgeous space/planets fabric I have, and maybe even some straight forward ‘be my valentine’. I also want to use some of these ideas to make zipper pouches, bunting and lavender bags. Oh and I picked up a pack of 50 small tobacco tins I am going to decorate and fill…along with planting the raspberry plants, sorting out potential crafty nights out for the Bath WI, a bit of mending (I am putting off replacing the zip in a pair of Mark’s trousers, but I need to be brave and get it done!) and of course some guitar practice!