Cat and rabbits and pink silky cheeks all embroidered by hand…..

grey-bunny

I’ve mentioned my friend Sasha on my blog a few times now, I love her colourful creations and happily pile up empty chairs or sofas around the house with her handmade cats and rabbits…. walking into a room full of these never fails to brighten up my morning and it’s only because our house is quite small that I don’t have more of them…(I’ve even got them in the bedroom and my work room too)……

Each creature is completely unique so is a real treasure as Sasha makes them by hand using vintage fabrics from all over the place, more often than not there’ll be just enough fabric for one lone toy….which was the case with this lovely rabbit, the soft grey corduroy is so fine and she said it was a handful of scraps, but just enough to make a face, paws and feet…..

bunny-close-up

What I’m so excited about is that finally you can contact Sasha online…..she doesn’t have an online shop (yet) but does at least have a facebook page where there are photos of a small selection of some of her amazing makes, and you can contact her directly there….previously it was just a case of finding her at a few random craft fairs throughout the year so I think this will be much easier if you’re interesting in buying one of her beautiful creatures.

This lovely grey bunny is one of her very latest makes and I would happily have given her a home.  I love those delicate doiley cheeks and the hand stitched floral ears…..

Bernard and his friends

Like I say, I already do have a fair few of Sasha’s beautiful creations….and as you can see I’m not the only fan of her work in our house…….this is one of our sofas.  When we have guests I quickly lug all of these upstairs so there is room to sit as it’s a bit rude to expect people to sit on the carpet….the orange cat is huge, he’s about 4ft something tall.  He was one of Sasha’s very early makes but I think he’s great…there are also toys on here that I’ve had since I was right little, and a much loved elderly auntie knitted the bear in the orange dress (she even has lacy edged knickers on)….from time to time Bernard decides to cuddle down amongst them, he’ll throw a few on the floor to make room for himself and then just sprawl out quite happy….and often a good bit of time goes by before I realize where he is.

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Another favourite from my personal collection is this gorgeous rabbit, she’s so glamourous.  When Sasha first showed me her I just fell in love…..Her little fur jacket is a vintage dolls coat…I always think she looks like she’s off to a fabulous party where it will be just full of amazing people….she’s quite large, a good two foot as she’s got quite long legs….she also makes me think of music hall girls with those pink silky cheeks.

All the face details are carefully embroidered with antique silk floss and vintage threads, in the past Sasha used to use lovely old buttons for eyes but I think she even embroiders those nowadays too……

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And these are some other toys she made from a few years back, they all live upstairs and keep me company when I’m sewing….it’s been really amazing seeing Sasha’s style evolve slowly over time, I know she always laughs when she sees some of her earlier toys on display here but I thik they’re brilliant.

All of her creatures are made by hand and more often than not are dressed in vintage doll’s clothes or are wrapped in delicate scraps of antique doileys or cloth.  Sasha doesn’t really do bespoke or custom pieces to order as the fabric she carefully chooses to use to sew the toys is already very unique as it’s been brought from flea markets and brocantes, antiquey type shops and carboots and it’s pretty much impossible to then make doubles of anything made…..sometimes her toys come with beautiful vintage accessories like painted beds or prams but sadly she says these are becoming much harder for her to source.

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My most favourite toy she’s ever made though is my darling Miss Enid……in part because she was a present from my boyfriend but I also know Bernard adores her….if we ever had a fire Bernard would be tucked under one arm and Miss Enid the other….I love it when he  snuggles up with his head in her lap, all purrs and contentment.

I hope you’ll pop over and say hi to Sasha, and have a gander at her beautiful makes.  As well as cats and rabbits she also makes ribbon cloud mobiles and very pretty bunting which would be ideal if you are decorating a nursery or bedroom and want that vintage aesthetic…she also makes the most incredible swan cushions but I’m not sure if she has any of those left for sale.

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas colds, soothing syrups and a knitty kitty….

hedgerow syrups for winter throats

Before I can even write anything I need to cough and blow my nose….and in a raspy old croak whisper that I’ve got a cold…my nose (or dose) is all stuffy, my ears are popping and I feel like a right cotton headed noodle head……this happens every year, my good intentions for being all organized seems to go out of the window and November and the start of December is an endless cycle of very early morning starts and late night sewing trying to get everything finished in time for fairs and commissions…..and inevitably it gets to the point where my body says “enough” and everything seems to just shut down….stupidly I ignored the warnings last weekend when my throat began feeling very sore and scratchy, this is always the first sign for me that I’m getting sickly….I guess I was so focused on getting things ready for my boyfriends parents visiting (gifts to make, wrap…biscuits and puddings to bake) and with Bernard being ill too that I just carried on regardless…..til Friday afternoon…..I was on my way to pick up the boy from the vets (a quick check up and he’s doing all nicely) when I just felt all faint and my energy leave me.

crocheted cosy

So for the past day or so I’ve been sipping fruit syrups that I made in the Autumn from foraging and clambering about in hedgerows looking like Catweazel…the syrups arel lovely stirred into a cup of hot water, and drinking soothing honey and lemon teas and have been getting through no-end of tissues as my nose won’t stop running ….most annoyingly, and you’ll know this if you are a regular reader or have ever met me, I am a chatter, mostly it’s just piffle and I can happily waffle on for ages….but for now I’m only able to manage a croaky old rasp…a bit like a dry leafed rustle…gradually it rises to an almost inaudible squeek (the neighbourhood dogs are no doubt running about wondering what the noise is) then dissappears.

 

Luckily almost everything is done….I’ve one last commission, though it’s a big one…two supersized stockings for Peggy and Pearl (the little poppets I made the star quilts for back at the start of the year)…

paws for a kitty toy

At the moment I’m knitting a wee cardigan for “licky paws”…I’m using a lovely bright green colour but the yarn itself is acrylic as I couldn’t see any pure wool in my wool basket (however is often the way, once I started I then remembered a nice soft apple green I have from Jamiesons of Shetland but I figure I can knit up another cardigan for her over the holidays)……the yarn is rather squeeky and I miss the soft shuffly corduroy sound of knitting with wool.

I’ll try and take pictures once everything is ready, the light here isn’t great and I’m really just trying to get this all finishied to be posted tomorrow.

I’ve also got a little dress to sew up for licky paws to wear, I’ve drawn up a teeny version of the dottie angel dress so I’ll make that in the same tiny green floral print as one I made in my size (Eliza’s favourite colour is green so figured that would be the best choice for kitty clothing)….so for now I’m on the sofa, sipping fruit teas and knitting as fast as I can while watching old black and white films and soundign like a right old sick note.

 

Nap time in toyland……..

sleepy little kitty

 

On one of our sofas (actually it’s a futon covered in blankets) I have a big pile of toys, some of these are old and half cuddled to death darlings that I’ve had since I was little, other are later finds or ones my friend Sasha has made.  Normally Bernard chooses to ignore them, perferring to curl up and cuddle on what I call our Nanny chair with his beloved Miss Enid (some times he is very affectionate with her, and sleeps in her lap….other times he ignores her and sits on the sofa instead)……however yesterday morning when I went in to the sitting room there were a couple of toys scattered on the floor, I looked and couldn’t at first see what had happened……

 

Bernard and his friends

 

Bernard, in an effort to find a new place to sleep undisturbed by my going ups and coasing or kissing him, had thrown some toys on the floor so he could have room to snuggle down amongst the toys on the futon.  He looked up as I started picking up toys and was all blinky and sleepy, then promptly had a little wind before rubbing himself on the huge orange cat, stretching out and falling back asleep.

He stayed there pretty much all day and when I woke this morning and wandered downstairs to make a pot of tea, he scared the what not out of me by mewing when I walked past….I didn’t realise he was there so jumped out of my skin.

I think it’s part of his challenge to find the comfortiest place to sit in the house, other places I have found him before include in the middle of a pile of tapestry wool where he’d made a little nest, on top of some books in a books case (it’s a big book case so he wasn’t squashed but nor did it look particularly comfy) in my wardrobe on top of a pile of blankets, and perched on top of fabric stacked up on my fabric shelves………it’s always interesting to see where he’s going to nest for a while…….he does have a beautiful vintage basket lined with crocheted blankets and hand sewn quilts, and for a few weeks recently it was his favourite place to be…but now he’s bored by it and prefers to be a kitty in toyland.

Bear heads and sewing threads…oh my!

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I’m trying to design a new toy for one of the many small people that we know.  I wanted to create a more 3 dimensional face so have been experimenting with darts and head inserts to give more shape to the toys face.

These are my first two attempts at trying to make something a little bit different to the flatter toy head that I have sewn in the past.

I used a couple of toy books from the seventies as a reference and took it from there.

 

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Neither head came out exactly as I thought so still lots more tinkering is needed.  I embroidered the eyes on the smaller head and just put in pins for the bigger head to give me an idea of what the finished face will look like.  And they both need little bear ears sewn on too.

Some years ago I was lucky enough to pick up some vintage lama wool fabric from a charity shop in Wells (it is where Hot Fuzz was filmed), originally the fabric had been a coat and someone had carefully unpicked each seam so the pieces are all odd shapes.  It’s lovely to sew and feels really soft.

For stuffing, I save up all my tiny scraps of threads and fabric pieces (all those teeny tiny pieces that normally would get binned), and have even chopped up tatty old socks and t-shirts. This makes my favourite stuffing, it’s ideal for stuffing pin-cushions, and is brilliant for toys, however it takes some time to make a decent sized amount so probably isn’t for everyone (it wouldn’t be very cost effective if you are making toys to sell, however I only make them for the little cuties that we know)

 

bears, vodka and sewing thread bargain 009

 

On Thursday I spent the day with one of my nieces and we went on a small tour of the many antique and junk shops that now seem to be in Norwich.  I love these types of shops as you never know what you are going to see in there.  I was very pleased to find this pretty tin for just a couple of pounds……

 

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… and was over the moon when I found all these sewing threads (including some beautiful embroidery silks and a reel of  shirring elastic) all for the princely sum of one pound.  I basically skipped out of the shop with happiness.