Archive for the 'furry things' Category

What’s new, pussycat?

October 30th, 2013

As per usual I fall off the blogging waggon despite my best intentions (and a lot of IT issues) but he’s to having another go!

There’s been a few changes round here since the last time I blogged.  I’m no longer teaching craft evening classes – a combination of time and energy mainly, and restrictions on how many people need to be enrolled to make a course viable have made it harder to teach.  This is combined with the college needing me to update my teaching qualification, which kind of made the decision for me.  I do miss it, and have done a couple of private crochet workshops since then, which made me realise how much I missed it, and want to organise more of these in the new year.

Private crochet workshop at The Pretty Dandy Flea

Private crochet workshop at The Pretty Dandy Flea

I’ve been trying to take more photographs, and have been on 2 day courses in how to use my digital SLR camera, with Line and Light (who I would highly recommend), as well as playing a bit more with the vintage cameras I have from my parents.  I’m far from being an expert, but I am certainly a lot more confident at knowing what the camera does!

Stereo camera - my dad's pride and joy

Stereo camera – my dad’s pride and joy

We have new (fluffy) additions to the family in the shape of 3 lovely, cheeky chickens.  More about them another time (and there will be another time this time as I’ve already got the post written and ready to publish!)


And last, but certainly not the least, we’ve started a new branch of the Women’s Institute in Sherwood.  There used to be a branch in Sherwood years ago but it closed, I think because it’s members were ageing and there weren’t many new members coming along.  I spoke to Linda, our WI adviser about setting one up last November.  There were lots of people interested in going to the WI, but who wanted something that they could ideally walk to, particularly important if you have children or other commitments that restrict the time you are available.  Once our County WI had approved it, we had 3 meetings arranged to see if there was enough  interest in the group to make it viable, and on the first, very manic night in January we had 60 people there!

First meeting

The room I had booked at the United Reformed Church had a capacity of 50 – plenty,we assumed.  We ended up borrowing extra chairs and pretty much shoe-horning them in.  I knew it was busy as I was making teas for everyone, when my lovely neighbour popped her head in to the kitchen and told me people were queueing out of the door!  It was quite overwhelming that so many people wanted to find out more.  We have so far 42 members, and have had a lot of visitors too.  I was honoured to be elected as President and I’m immensely proud of being part of a diverse, lively and fun group that’s grown so quickly.  I have a fantastic committee along with me too, and although we are “talking shop” even our committee meetings are fun and go on for probably far too long!

Here’s an delightfully unflattering picture of me signing the official constitution and rules making us a WI:

signing the constitution

In fact the amount of pictures taken that night is the only thing that’s really taken me out of my comfort zone as I much, much prefer being the other side of the lens!

We made it into the local paper too -

Sherwood WI celebrations in the Nottingham Post

It’s been a busy year so far, and I’ve met and made friends with some amazing people.   Work has sometimes(often) got in the way, especially when it comes to having a holiday – the only time I have been away this year so far was in late May/ early June we had a lovely week with everyone over in Northern Ireland, and I’ve been ready for another break for months, but that’s not going to happen any time soon.  Next year I intend to change that and get out more!

Thanks for stopping by – will be back again soon x

Reasons to be cheerful

June 25th, 2009


Two – my first ripe strawberries…


Well I think I found more than one, two, three yesterday afternoon. Was feeling a bit out of sorts with myself, annoyed at a certain staff member making bitchy nasty comments about me, to me and behind my back (don’t worry – I have started keeping a diary of them so I can take out a grievance on her – just biding my time, or as my parents would have said, given them enough rope to hang themselves with!) and just MEH! Anyway, after being whisked out of the office and given a lift home by Vicky and Jez I decided to sit out in the garden and sort myself out.
My garden is a source of both delight and frustration for me. Delight that I have a secluded and pretty large outdoor space, frustration that the snails and slugs seem to devour anything pretty I plant within hours, that the weeds triple overnight (they never seem to get eaten by the snails though…) and a huge mess of a pile of chipped slate tiles. Goodness knows who decided it would be a good idea, but over time this blob shape has had foxes having a good old root round and pulling up the membrane underneath, and it’s covered in weeds. Planning to get rid of the slate (if anyone in the Nottinghamshire area would like some please feel free to email me and collect it!) and spread what I can’t get rid of around some of the rest of the garden, and then get some turf so it goes back to being grass again.
For all the frustration though, doing a bit of digging, putting some alpines I bought in the rockery around the pond, putting some more (so far slug un- munched) sweet peas in, was just he tonic. That and finding the first ripe strawberries, and my first (odd shaped) tomato on my plants.I then pulled one of the patio chairs under my Laburnum and enjoyed the sunshine. So a garden, the company of 2 cute (and slightly deranged) kitties did me rightly x

New hobby and news

June 19th, 2009

For the last couple of weeks I have been dipping a (rather hesitant at first) toe into bobbin lace making. Sue who is one of the Stitched Up regulars is an incredibly talented lace maker, and brought along a spare pillow and bobbins and encouraged us to have a play. Now, when Sue does something she does it with such confidence that you could be forgiven in thinking that it’s easy. She even makes bobbin lace look easy. Now to be fair the way Sue explained it it wasn’t as complicated as I thought it was, as you only work on 4 bobbins at a time (get me – instant expert eh?)
Here’s my first piece – a sample of the different stitches. I did find myself talking to the bobbins for the order they go in (although it’s not the only thing I talk to to keep in line!). Sue then scared me by getting me to try out a pattern. Now I love the leaf thing in the middle, and the use of a different coloured thread makes things easier to see, but the edge, well I still don’t feel that confident that I know what I am doing when Sue isn’t on hand to talk me through it!
What has been good is that I haven’t had this level of enjoyment for something new in ages, and it is good to remember that. One of the nicest things when I have been teaching is that people are enthusiastic about the things I have been showing them on the course that I take for granted as I have been doing them for ages, like embroidery or sewing on a machine. It’s that excited, clap your hands together feeling you get when you try something new that I haven’t had for ages.
And now for something completely different – Pinky and Boo will soon be moving to a new home. I have had the domain Pinky and Boo for ages (over 2 years I believe….) and nothing has ever really been done with it, but now Vicky is sticking all the stuff that needs to be on there, and making it work as well as look pretty – I spent a lovely afternoon with her last weekend looking at fonts for the logo and pretty colours for the site, as well as what will go on it – it will be a home for the blog as well as having an e shop and other bits and bobs on it. Vicky‘s another one who makes things look easy… Anyway, more progress on that soon. Til then, here’s some gratuitous cute kitty shots xoxo

Gone to the dogs

October 5th, 2008

Well we did last Saturday. Nottingham Greyhound race track are big into supporting retired greyhounds to be adopted and live a long and happy life and had a retired greyhound day. The weather couldn’t have been better – although I think some of the dogs struggled with the heat and tended to just lay around with their tongues out. We went up to join Beth and Billy (my in-laws as I can now call them!) with their 2 retired dogs.
I have never seen so many chilled out dogs in one area as this – there were hundreds of them, all quite placid and happy to be fussed. Beth entered the fancy dress with Maggie, both of them dressed as leprechauns . Maggie wasn’t impressed at the work Beth had put into knitting her waistcoat. Come to think of it I don’t think she was very impressed at all….There isn’t much more of a surreal sight than seeing your mother in law walking round a show ring dressed as a leprechaun. Other than seeing someone dressed as Cruella de Ville, and dressing her greyhound as a Dalmatian….Beth got through to the final round but was pipped at the post by a kid and dog dressed as bees. You were robbed!

Pretty spring flowers and birdies

April 24th, 2008

Ok, it seems that the only really messy crafter out there is me, or is it just that I am the only one holding my hands up and admitting it? Hmmm, I have enjoyed being tidy, but I am almost scared to mess it up again, and the rest of the house certainly looks like no show home to me! Nothing can when you have 2 cats moulting fur EVERYWHERE! I don’t know how they do it – surely the amount that comes off them, and I also brush them most days, and get huge handfuls of fur from that, by rights they should be looking a tad threadbare by now, but no, they luxuriate in their furriness. I sometimes think that they both deliberately come in when I have hoovered, and they will their fur to shed. I shouldn’t have to hoover wooden floors, but it’s the most allergen reducing thing I can do to get rid of the amount of fur they rid themselves of every minute of the day. Tried sweeping, but it just seems to move things round. I almost wish my eyesight wasn’t as good as it is, cos I’d be less bothered by it then. Anyone who fancies making felt out of pet fur, give me a shout – I’d be able to set up up no problem.
Anyway, my beloved furry rascals are both bouncing around, (shedding all the while) and getting quite excited about spring (sap rising as my Dad used to say), and in particular Betty the other day sitting in a Conifer tree about 12 feet off the ground trying to stalk some pigeons (she didn’t get one, bu they both flew off, minus some feathers – more shedding!) and looking at all the pretty blossom trees I see on my way in to work, got me thinking about some of the other, spring like embroidery patterns I have. So I thought I would post these. Haven’t posted a pattern in a while, so I hope that you enjoy them – they are from a 1932 edition of Woman, and cost me the princely sum of 10p. Best bargain ever eh? Sorry for the wonky scans. I am missing some of the designs from the original sheet though, and at some point I will re- draw them and share them with you then. If you make anything from them please let me know as I’d love to see it. I always fancied putting them around the hem of a swirly summer skirt, and if I ever get the time I may just do that. Enjoy! x


February 22nd, 2008

I thought it was about time that I posted another embroidery pattern – I have chosen a budgie, or for it’s correct name, Budgerigar. I think it must be quite an English thing keeping Budgies – I have a real soft spot for them as my first pet was a Budgie called Billie (I know, not the most thoughtful name for her, but in my defence I was 4 ….). Billie had to be changed from the “y” ending to “ie” as he turned out to be a she. I had her til I was about 10 and she was great – they are very interactive pets, and we didn’t keep her caged up all the time. My parents brought me up to believe that where possible animals should be allowed to be themselves, so birds having the opportunity to fly etc. We opened her cage door first thing in the morning and it was closed as we went to bed for the night, apart from that she had free reign throughout the house. She only went outside twice, and we panicked then but managed to bring her in. Billie was obsessed with my brother, and she would listen for the sound of his bike (pedal, then later motor) outside, and would start squawking and bobbing her head up and down, and wouldn’t stop until he came in and gave her attention.
Having a budgie flying free in your house wasn’t always the bet plan – I remember budgie poo all over one of my music books when I was learning the piano, and occasionally she came to join us on the dinner table. It probably why I am pretty relaxed round most animals now though, and as soft as I am on the cats. I justify it that I chose to have animals in my life and I get enormous pleasure from them, so I need to make sure I make them as comfortable as is reasonable in their lives with us. You can see from Stella’s face here though, that she is obviously mistreated and fed up with life itself. She seems to be having a bit of a love affair with David at the minute – she curls up on his knee, does tricks for him, and even takes one of her toys with her to lay on his side of the bed… Sorry to break it to you dear though, she does fall in and out of love with many people – she’s a not a long term commitment kind of cat – anyone prepared/ able to give her loving is promptly demanded to produce the goods, and as long as you give her good fussing, she’s happy with you for however long it takes for someone else to move on to. Boo, on the other hand is very she, but once she trusts you, you have a friend for life.
Anyway, enough gibbering, here’s the pattern – if you decide to stitch anything with this please let me know as I’d love to see it x

Squatting in the cottage…

February 6th, 2008

It looks very much like the house Rach’s mum made me has squatters….. I’m surprised to see she managed to squeeze herself in. Just goes to prove that cats are actully slinkies in disguise….x

A tale of stoned kitties, and a peek at Pinky and Boo …

November 20th, 2007

This seems quite strange – more posts so far than I have managed to achieve in weeks… Lets see how long this holds up eh?
As I have decided to have the morning off and go in to work about lunchtime (I am working til 9pm tonight, tomorrow and Thursday training new volunteers, so I am not that slack) I thought since David has been working hard on my website, I had better take some decent pictures of the things I have made that I want to put on it. Now the cats are still not happy with me for making them stay in (ideally for at least another week) they usually spend their time complaining loudly at me (Betty), beating each other up, or sleeping in one of their many spots they have adopted. Stella in particular likes either wedging her backside on the very narrow windowsill, and sleeping there, or curled up on my mothers Lloyd Loom ottoman, which is currently on the landing (ideal for rolling over and randomly jabbing whatever is coming up or down the stairs at the time). Betty find really random places, and tends to prefer somewhere dark, so she can’t be seen. She had wedged herself on the spare bed (I say wedged, as it was covered in stuff taken out of boxes but at the minute doesn’t have a home) and I dumped some wet washing on her before putting it on the clothes airer, cos I simply didn’t see her in there.
Now this morning I wanted to clear a space in the rather grandly titled “sewing room” (in reality a room where all my craft stuff has been put – no sewing going on in there just yet…) to take some pics. In amongst a box of odds and ends I had unpacked I found a bag of Catnip I had bought for them. Not all cats react to Catnip but this pair love it. I seem to recall Stella scaling the heights of a 6 foot empty bookcase to get to the bag on top of it the last time I moved. If you have ever spent any time watching people who are stoned and you have access to cats, I strongly suggest you purchase a bag of catnip and give it a try. You really see the different “stoner” personalities coming out. Betty tends to just go a bit odd, and last night kept stalking nothing, just whatever her own mind conjured up. Stella gets really into it, rolling round, luxuriating in it. Then spent last night sat underneath the cupboard in the kitchen that houses the boiler, watching it fire up, run, and then switch off again… For about 2 hours… It wasn’t until I went in the “sewing room” this morning to find why they had been so odd (or moreso than usual) – the catnip stash had been ripped open, was covering the floor and anything nearby, they had knocked over a box of pins (not happy about that, and neither would they if they had had to go to the vets to retreive a pin from somewhere) and Betty was snuffling around in it trying to get her morning fix. As that room is the only one in the house to have laminate (the rest are stained floorboards) it was quite easy to sweep it up and put it in another bag, and be hidden in my desk. I tell you it’s like sharing a house with a pair of teenages the sulks you get when they aren’t allowed out, and then finding them stoned upstairs…. Goodness knows what kind of parent I would make!
I only managed to take pictures of the pin cushions and needle cases this morning – the light is rubbish, and I think I will try something else later before work, but here’s some of the pictures I have taken so far – what do you think?Betty assumed her post again as artistic director and supervised the pictures, occasionally rearranging things with her tail where she saw fit..
More picture to follow when I take some more x

Dog racing and more works in progress

August 28th, 2007

This is how I feel today…

Do you know I just can’t seem to get myself motivated to do anything constructive today.

Had a lovely weekend – I normally don’t get out very much as I am usually flat broke (good job I kow where to find things for pennies not pounds really) but this weekend was different.

David’s mum and step dad own 4 Greyhounds, 2 of which have come over to live at a “stable” in Lincolnshire, so they can race in England. Now I know a lot of people have reservations about dog racing as a “sport” – and I am one of the first ones to be up in arms about cruelty, but I know for a fact that these 4 dogs are spolit rotten! The pair over in Ireland have retired from racing and now are very large, pampered pets. The pair over here, Gemma and Joey have now lost weight and look like racing dogs. Joey was having a trial to see what his time was before he starts racing again after an injury.

I didn’t realise (duh!) quite how hard it would be to get a decent picture of a dog running. I quite confidently said I would take some pictures, digital camera etc…. When your subject thunders past you at 40mph then it’s a somewhat different thing, but I am pleased with this one.
Here he is being fussed and petted after the race.

He made Beth, David’s mum feel guilty as he gave her a look that simply said he didn’t think very much of her not taking him home and he still remembered her leaving him in Dublin and he didn’t rate that at all. Not a happy bunny!
Gemma was racing that night, and as it was some of the nicest weather we have had here it was lovely time to sit out, enjoy a beer in the evening sunshine waiting for her race. Getting a picture of her, however was an altogether harder task.

Here she is standing relatively still.
Gemma is a real live-wire. She can detect hankies at 20 paces, and she has them out of your pocket and eaten (clean or used, she doesn’t care) before you have time to blink. I had a cold one of the times we were over to visit and she was a bit younger – still had a puppy head on a fully grown dogs’ body, and she managed to wrestle me to the floor and lick me to bits trying to get to my hanky. She just never seems to stay still, and she certainly didn’t reckon posing for a photograph was a good idea.

We then took Beth and Billy to Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem – one of the oldest Inns in England that was a favourite haunt for people on pilgrimages, hence the name. If you visit Nottingham, it’s worth a visit – half of the pub is built into the sandstone caves the run through and under most of Nottingham.

The next day I spent some time making progress on some project bags for myself. It was seeing Gemma that got me thinking of hankies, and reminded me of them.
I have a load of my mothers’ cotton handkerchiefs sat in my dressing table, some are really pretty prints, others are embroidered and I felt it was a waste not doing things with them. As I have about 10 projects on the go any any one time, project bags, either for transport or keeping things neat and tidy whilst they aren’t being worked on would be a great idea. I am using some vintage fabrics that I have built up, my mother’s hankies applique’d on and on some, a doily stitched on for good measure.This is a pocket, cut and pinned that is made from some of my grandmother’s fabric. I sound like I have tons of stuff like that hidden away, and I don’t. Just a few precious pieces squirreled away for something at sometime. Maybe even never to use, just to sit and admire. The colours haven’t come out very well in this picture, but it’s mid grey with pink roses climbing up, my grandmother’s favourite flower.

I also decided to sort out my knitting needles. I buy vintage ones when I see them and they are in decent condition, and I have a box crammed full of needles from my first set (plastic, small, size 1) as well as some of my mother and nanna’s after my sister and I split them. I wanted to make myself a knitting needle case, like I have planned for the online shop (when I get my ass into gear and get it running) out of some lovely vintage fabric I have, so I will post more pictures when I am further along than this.

I need to get into the habit of keeping my camera on me at all times. My dad had a period where he worked as a photographer – was entirely self taught, and he was never, ever without a camera. He even invested in a tiny Minolta “spy” camera so he would always have one. That’s maybe why I as an adult hate with a passion my photograph being taken (dreading the wedding ones) – all the hours of having photos taken as a child, although it’s a lovely record of my childhood. My dad would have adored the way technology has moved on and I know he would have been fascinated my digital cameras and computers. Like to think I am carrying some of his, and my mothers’ skills on in what I do.

I had better go an try and be constructive for a bit and get on with some proper work…. though I would rather be sat at my sewing machine!
Claire x


August 10th, 2007

Second post, and this isn’t so scary after all! Thanks for the lovely comments you gave me on my first post, it is appreciated.
Thought I would get the camera out and have a play with a little bit of the stuff I have acquired recently. I go through phases of getting stuff then droughts – if anyone is a seasoned charity shop addict/thrifter like me then you will probably relate to that.

I have a lot of stuff (scary but exciting to think of taking pictures of it!) and it drives my housemate Rach to distraction at my clutter everywhere. It’s part of my nature – I am naturally messy and something I cannot fight against.
David, my other half helped me sort out the tiny box room that holds my craft stuff, fabric, craft books etc a while ago – I discovered that I loved my life being organised into clear plastic boxes that stack really neatly on top of each other – I could see the contents, and the dust was kept out. Most importantly of all when the cats do a bit of orienteering around my box room (it’s a favourite sport for Stella in particular), they can’t knock the boxes over. Genius! The trouble then is, I have to keep buying boxes to put what I have recently acquired into, and I never seem to have enough boxes for my stuff, so it always looks a mess. And I struggle to get to stuff.

Take, for example my room at the minute (I am too embarassed to even take a picture) – it’s full of stuff for the craft group that we have recently started, stuff I have acquired from charity shops and worst of all, the amount of stuff I have been given – I cannot say no to anything. It will get better, I tell myself when my friend Angela is given the pile of stuff that is for her (big pile) – she recycles anything, and organizes the most brilliant craft supplies days. I will post about that at another time. But then deep down, I know I will just acquire more, and it will be back to square 1 again. Ho hum.

So, on a brighter note I thought I would show you the bag I made from my grandmother’s curtainsI don’t know how this piece of fabric survived, but it did – it was just big enough for this bag. The phot doesn’t really show much of the beading – maybe the light was too strong.

Here’s the reverse.
And a bit of a close up of some of the flowers
some need repairing and re- beading, but considering I made this 2 years ago and have used it constantly I don’t think it’s that bad. When I started it I used some of the beads I had from being a child, and didn’t have enough to use for anything else, so I am pleased I used them up. The lining is from a Rose and Hubble fabric I bought when I was 17 and made a lovely long wrapover skirt (which I still have alhtough cannot fit into right now). It’s only since I have been writing this that I realised the fabric on the outside is Rose and Hubble. Coincidence or what?

As Pamela said she was looking forward to seeing my doilies I mentioned in the first post I thought I would put them on too – the sunlight was quite bright so maybe they aren’t as clear as they could be, and the stitching certainly isn’t, but considering I was either 8 or 9 I don’t think are too bad!


The use of colour has developed (I hope) in some of the stuff I will post later – quite a lot of orange in these. I clearly remember the day we bought them. It was a visit to Haworth (best known as the home of the Bronte sisters) in West Yorkshire. My mother lived nearby for about 15 years, when she worked in a woollen mill, and my parents, as they put it, did a lot of their “courting” round there. My dad had instilled a love of steam engines in me, and I was becoming obsessed already with the Bronte sisters – after watching Jane Eyre on TV, so this was a fantastic day out. When you arrive in Howorth on the steam train, as you walk out of the station, to get to the village you walk uphill through a beautiful park, and at the edge of this park, in what must have been an outbuilding for the station was a haberdashery shop run by 2 little old ladies. I had been given a sewing box my brother made for christmas that year, and wanted to practice my new skills on something other than hankies, so my mam bought me these. I was so, so excited and spent hours trying stitches, pulling them out til I was happy with what you see here. My mam kept them and used them for years, and when we cleared her house out after she died it was one of the first things I made sure I kept.

When I was taking the photos, Boo came along and wanted a fuss, and made sure I couldn’t ignore her by parking herself on one of the doilies. This is one of the few of her “helping” out.

She’s so sloppy she just wants to be picked up and fussed. As soon as I picked her up to take her off the table she started purring… who could resist?

Anyway, after a very long post I will leave you with one of my many works in progress – a baby blanket in the very addictive ripple stitch.

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