90. the one with the very important business of pricing

when i first started making & selling my work, years ago now, i found pricing a fucking nightmare.
on all the helpful websites, there was the formulas of: this plus that, plus a decent hourly wage. and then you times by something and then double it. complicated mathsmaths.

there were the lovely friend-colleagues & customers who understood that i didn’t learn free motion embroidery off of a youtube video one day – that i’d actually been sewing since Ago, plus i’d suffered through an entire degree at Embroidery University.
they thought i should charge more. <3

but there were also the Angry People who insisted that by not obeying the law of mathsmaths formula, by under-charging, i was doing an evil disservice to everyone who’s trying to earn a proper living from making. i was reducing its worth. *tut*
they thought i should charge more.

<tbf, they’re probably doing something a lot more commercially viable than me.
because show me the person who will pay £324623mathsmaths x2 for a handmade embroidered bookmark, and i will show you an emperor with no clothes who probably doesn’t read paperbacks anyway>

it was all SO CONFUSING and i tried all manner of combinations of advices.
but, finally, after all these years, i have it figured out! …or do i?
AND IT’S SO SIMPLE! …or izzit?

this month i’ve been scribbling & fiddling, updating some old designs; like these fancy zombie ladies with their fresh florals for spring 2018.

floral zombie applique

^ as ever, when it came to actually cutting out all the teeny tiny bits, i realised i was being mental. it took a good 5 hours just to get all the microscopic parts snipped & in place ready for stitching.

then each little lady took an hour to embroider, with all the stop/start of the intricates. roughly one bobbin per beauty. that is a lot of stitching-metres.
floral zombie free motion embroidery

but it didn’t matter because IN THE ZONE,
being ON FIRE

<… that night, 3am: shoulders & neck ACTUALLY *on fire* from Too Much hours of best sewing angle contortion-ry… morphs into migraine…. delirious kicky-feet fever dreams…
what was i thinking oh i hope i still have time to make bunnies for easter maybe i’m having a stroke god i’d kill for a cup of tea right now why am i visualising the floor plans for a house i looked at on right move yesterday maybe i should start charging for materials what if i AM having a stroke what was the name of that guy who was in that film we watched  … 
lose sunday & monday lying on the couch with a migraine hangover and very closed eyes. >

tuesday: right. back to work!
bookmarks. and wtfpricing.
so far, each one has taken… rounding down… approx. 3 hours. “SO FAR.”
and what even *is* minimum wage these days? mine should be less because pyjamas and netflix. but also, mustn’t forget commission, listing & selling fees…
what if i price them at £15? that’s like £5 per hour. ish.
that seems like a fair price for a special bookmark?

it doesn’t take long to make up the finished item, so i’ll just disappear that half hour(ish) from my mathsmaths formula.

free motion embroidery bookmarks handmade

^ as ever, when it came to actually pinning, backing, cutting, measuring, sewing, trimming, turning, pressing, topstitching, pressing again, i realised i was being a mathsmaths-stupidstupid. Y, it only takes an hour to make up a couple… but i was not making “a couple”.

another 2 bobbins and a day later…
handmade embroidered bookmarks

18x beautiful and/or very spesh freehand embroidered bird / sheep / zombie textile bookmarks all ready to be photo-ed & listed for sale. once i’ve decided about prices.

birds zombie sheep bookmark.jpg

i still don’t have a fucking clue what i’m doing.

***edit: bookmarks are available here fiona t.


89. the one where it’s suddenly 2018

< time passes >

suddenly! it is 2018 and i have a 3 year old border collie called cassie.

everything is different now, everything has changed.
but last week, we were back here again

colours and textures
and i was pleased to note
that, actually, everything is the same.

annie cassie

^ me & annie (2013)                                                ^ me & cassie (2017)

everything is different, but everything is the same.

annie cassie 2

^ annie (2009)                                                           ^ cassie (2018)

86. the one where i stopped. and then start.

on a day by day (or hour by hour) basis, during regular normal life, my ‘mazing mood swings look like this


and for the most part, i enjoy the ride.

but when actual depression takes hold, i get stuck under the horizontal axis of the graph, thus:
everything and nothing conspire against me and i’m trapped, tap-tapping along the bottom there, still looking for a way back up but… exhaustion, apathy, irrational thoughts, agoraphobia…

then! magical anti depressants:

i’ve been bouncing off the meh-line for the last couple of years which has been good
(like, who/whatever had been standing on me finally climbed off.
like, doing simple tasks didn’t take all day every day nor require every bit of willpower and stamina that i had.
like, having a rest from the crazy so i could just get on and do *something*)
and it was also useful, as most of 2014 was dedicated to end of life care for my beloved anakin collie.

me & annie

anakin was my very best pal and constant companion during the last 15+ years, so to say 2014 was “hard” is an understatement. also, Husband ‘n i had put Eveything Else on hold, so 2014 was some kind of miserable limbo.

wait, it wasn’t like everything was shit! there was happy times and plentiful good things and so many extraordinary kindnesses – but it was haaaaaaard. and ever so limbo-y.
and after she died, everything was weird and different and peculiar for a long time

but 2015 arrived and for ages my graph has mostly been like

which was getting kinda boring and so very frustrating because
things occurring!

so i’m taking a chance off the pills

and i’m looking forward to feeling things, and getting on with all of the things, new & old, because
things occurring!

but i will miss this special face every day <3
annie teatime

“ain’t no shame in holding on to grief, as long as you make room for other things too” – bubbles, off of the wire.

80. the one at the beach

i wasn’t sure we’d manage a holiday due to anakin’s continuing broken.
plus, the car is also continuing broken, so it was all a bit touch and go… but we made it!

me at the beach

we *aaaalways* have a good soundtrack for our roadtrips – it’s part of The Thing – but this time we couldn’t listen to anything apart from what is that funny noise? or is that a bit of car falling off? and for some terrible, terrible reason the only song my brain was letting me know all the words to, was ‘true’ by spandau ballet (wtf??! I MEAN WTF??!!!).
so i sang that for 4 hours (!)
and took photos of famous landmarks.
and huh huh huh hu-uh huh
i know this much is true.

angel of the north

huh huh huh hu-uh huh i know this. much is. true.
it was a long & painful drive for Husband and anakin :)

for most of the week, the weather was good. too good to do anything other than Beach.
beach, beach, pub, beach.
anakin at the beach

“hey, anakin! where are the guys? i’m not sure we’ll find them in this crowd…”

family at the beach

“oh wait, there they all are.”

the anakin dog was remarkable. she’s very tired, stiff & wibbly now that we’re home, but she wasn’t going to let a silly thing like stroke or arthritis ruin her holiday – she managed plenty of digging, splashing about in rockpools, clambering over rocks (sort of), running (a little bit) and walking (miles!)



i spent an awful lot of time letting my obsessive nature run wild helping my sister collect perfect rocks for her work, and building little stonehenges.


one evening i went down at sunset to watch high tide occurring, and found this
lol henge
“some c*** has ruined me stone’enge!”
“i think some wrathful god has smited your stonehenge with an asteroid, dude”

Husband: “OWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW my b*******!”
me: “mine are fine. i’m diving in”

“i can’t believe i got sunburnt yesterday, and today i’m wearing my winter coat”

happy collie
“are you happy, anakin? did you have a good holiday?”

collie driving
man in the next car: “i saw that program about border collies last night. i knew they were intelligent dogs… but i had no idea they could drive!”

79. the one where august occurred – part 2

part 2 – my birthday week! yay! (*contains more moaning)

while the all-consuming anakin thing was ongoing, august continued to race by. suddenly it was my birthday.

ani was much better by then, but loudly unhappy about being shut downstairs alone. i’m not a good sleeper at the best of times, so by then i was achieving 3 hour bursts of zzz & hadn’t left the house in weeks. i was also severely good humour deprived.
for my birthday treat mum & dad were coming to visit – the plan being to break the monotony of my pyjama dog carer days weeks… but

SURPRISE! birthday flu!

luckily, despite my fever, i had the good sense to warn my (en route) parents of contagion danger.
or i would have, if i could’ve gotten my stupid phone to work.

stupidberry 2

stupidberry 3

*** 1. ^ i thought emailing facebook screenshots to mom’s ipad was sensible.
i had a fever, remember – not just stupidity.
2. not just stupidity. honest.

is it weird to say i had a lovely birthday?

i was thoroughly spoilt by family, real life friends, internet friends … internet friends who’ve become real life friends … customers who’ve become internet friends who’ve … just so much spoiled. and all week long :)

the paradox of me, perfectly illustrated by the medium of birthday gifts.

and something from a cool little shop in belper that always has lots of odd things i covet…
metal mini

anakin approves.  (**for them’s that’s asking… metal sheep is from here sundial style )

Husband had ordered me some beautiful ceramic pieces from one of my new favourites, camila prada. but he knew they weren’t going to arrive in time, so one of his work colleagues made this to tide me over… *snorrrrrrrrrk*
crai prada

…until the good stuff arrived <333
camila prada

one of the best bits about Birthday Week, was finally leaving the house. even if i was dosed up, mildly infectious and had a box of tissues in my handbag. we went to a local pub for a lovely lunch (with fruit juice. meh) followed by – my favourite – tiramasu. i couldn’t taste ever so well, but the textures were lovely!

nipped in to buttons & bows for a fabric fix on the way home and…
(well, as of now, i have a few pieces in there. i’m pretty much done with stocking real life shops, but this is different – no faff,  just a few things made with fabrics bought from her shop, and it’s so very, very local :) )
robin sketchbook

meanwhile, dad and Husband had walked on ahead to see how anakin’d fared during her first Home Alone.
all was well! the dog that could not walk had leapt onto the couch, rooted around under the cushions, become entangled in my knitting, leapt off the couch, run around the room a bit… i wish they’d taken a photo of the devastation.
ah well, the big shredded hole in my new scarf will always remind me of Birthday 2013 :)


she does seem to like my NOT FOR DOGS knitted stuff.

78. the one where august occurred – part 1

part 1 – canine vestibular syndrome

*** i think i’ve avoided blogging because of this. i’d ignore it completely if i could, but it’s kinda impacted on everything every day since.
and i don’t want to understate How Distressing, but i’ve successfully blocked out most of my thoughts, feelings & emotions from that day, so do *brainskim* along with me, as we get it over with :) ***

way back in july, right after i last blogged, the anakin dog suddenly became very poorly.

we were heading up The North to visit my parents that day – my godparents were visiting from south africa and i was desperate to see them – the car was packed, electrical things had been ocd-checked & double checked, i was wearing clean dayclothes, we were ready to set off…
and then anakin staggered out.

she couldn’t walk, and when she tried to stand her legs kept collapsing under her. her head was tilted at a crazy angle, she was panting & drooling, and her eyes were flickering & rolling…
Husband had to carry her in to the vets and she wasn’t even arsed about the indignity of that.
i was expecting the worst.

fortunately, as soon as the vet saw her, “it’s not what you think. it’s not as bad as it looks”
like a stroke, but not a stroke (although maybe a little stroke). like the worst kind of vertigo. with nausea. inner ear somethingsomething. wordswordswords. she should make a full recovery. wordswordswords.

it was a really hot & humid day, so my sensible bit of brain knew the last thing we should do was put her in the car for a couple of hours. but rest of brain knew i couldn’t cope with sitting at home all weekend, just watching her and feeling helpless. so later on, we did go The North. anakin slept on my lap and i syringed water at her.
approx. 12 seconds after we arrived i burst into tears.

is it weird to say i had a lovely weekend?

anakin was happy to have all her people around her, we took turns lying on the floor feeding & watering her, and Husband slept downstairs so he could help her outside in a toilet emergency.
except, when i tiptoed down at 4am to check on her, they were both sleeping soundly. next to a little pile of sick. the funniest part, is that my parents only had the BRAND NEW CARPET fitted 17 days earlier. ahahahaha

accidental sick

^ it was the best i could do at 4am. sorry mom.

the next day, while the menfolk golfed, us ladies played at sewing. i made anakin these very smart carry handles…
collie carry handles

once they existed, it became a lot easier to help her walk – we used the handles to take her weight, used her collar to steer – and she was awfully pleased that i no longer had to hold her bum up while she pooped.

on the sunday, we were lucky enough to catch an impressive display by the red arrows from the comfort of my parents patio. both mom & godmom are from RAF families so that was a bit special. i didn’t have my camera to hand, but it looked a bit like this
red arrows *artists impression

home again, we covered our slidey tile floors in a jumble of carpet scraps, rugs & duvets so anakin would have purchase when she tried to walk again, and resigned ourselves to the fact we’d be living in the lounge while she needed 24 hour care. Husband and i took it in turns to sleep on the couch (i did 2 nights, he did the other 42)

head tilt

the first days were about tempting her to eat & drink – she couldn’t seem to work out where the end of her face was, so it was all by hand – everything saturated in drool, gravy & flakes of salmon. it smelt heavenly.
the weather was still being ridiculous hot, so i was cooling her down with ice packs. she was shedding great chunks of fur from the stress. it all ended up in the freezer but i didn’t even care.

improvements were gradual – her eyes stopped moving & she could lie down properly, after that she was able to sleep restfully. she could hold her head up a bit better, which meant she could drink. her appetite returned, and she was keen to get back on solid food (if i held it just right so she could bite down). she could stand up on her own, she could wobble-walk unaided. she still fell over if she tried to turn… so she realised walking backwards was sometimes safer, and that she could use her tail for balance.
she could chase cats. she could manipulate us.
but she still couldn’t go upstairs.

we fell into a new routine of no routine. getting up at 4am because she fancied a wander in the garden in the rain. getting up at 6am because she didn’t like Husband going off to work. 20 minute bursts of sewing time because she didn’t like being alone.

you've got thread on you zombie hobby horse zombie pandas

“excuse me, where are you and what are you doing? we have good games to play”
collie mong

(i had a little video to add here, to show how mobile, active, playful and happy she is now, almost 2 months on. but i was accidently in it. in my pyjamas. so, sorry internet, you cannot see.)

76. the one with belper food fair

now listen, right, it’s very important to bear in mind that
1. i don’t like leaving the house
2. i don’t like crowds of people
3. i really don’t like leaving the house to be amongst crowds of people
4. i especially don’t like leaving the house and being amongst crowds of people when there’s too much hot.

but i do like belper, and i do like food. and i especially like local stuff.
so yesterday i braved all of the things to attend the annual belper food fair :)

belper memorial garden 1

i’ve only ever been in the memorial gardens in november(s), so it was nice to eat my breakfast here on a glorious summer day in july. there were musicians on a stage nearby, so we sat on the grass, under a tree, and ate our (lincolnshire) ostrich burgers.

belper’s quite a small town – we’ve only got 1.5 supermarkets and one(ish) main high street – so it was pretty cool to see it packed with market stalls and people (gawd, so many people :/ ) all the way down the hill.
belper food fair king street 2

being an awesome blogger, i’d remembered to take my camera and use it.
being terrible at CROWDS OF PEOPLE, i was continually pissed off that they kept getting in the way of photos i might like to take (if i was an awesome blogger).

down a side street, (also with TOO MANY PEOPLE) was a classic cars display. i’m not interested in cars at all. but i liked this :)
delorean 3

(although marty mcfly and his grandma got in the way of all my shots)

there were very many wonderful stalls that i didn’t take photos of, but i elbowed everyone out of the way to take this – mrs bishop’s doggy deli – so i could show anakin when we got home.
mrs bishops doggy deli 4

fresh basil is one of my favourite shops in belper… but i couldn’t even get near it yesterday
fresh basil 5

as well as amazing cheeses, fancy olives, interesting chutneys and naughty meats, we bought lots of cakes… and did i mention how hot it was?… i kept everything safe in my handbag until we got home *thumbz*

after we’d spent all our pocket money, we walked home – it really was a most glorious and enjoyable day, and reminded me why i SO love living in a town that has no tesco and is not full of The Same.
home 6

for lunch, we had handbag cake and blueberry cheesecake – it was all a little squished but delicious n’ertheless
handbag cake 8

i didn’t mean to drink Husband’s beer, i only wanted a little taste because it was brewed on a farm just up the road a bit. but it was reeeeeeeally good. 3 bottles was not enough.shottle farm brewery 7

i googled them – shottle farm brewery – and after reading the “our story” bit on their website, that beer tasted eeeeeven better. need more. srs.

here is a picture of anakin forgiving us for leaving her at home / anticipating her fancy afternoon tea  (in her excitement, she walked backwards all the way from the kitchen)
anakin cake 9

i am practically walking backwards after such a brilliant week!

75. the one where C. comes to visit

on sunday, we returned from our glorious weekend away just in time to watch andy murray winning the wimbledons. the drive back had become increasingly “glorious” –  derbyshire is much closer to the equator than lincolnshire – so i was pretty much dying of hot when we got home.
but despite the wimbledons and the Too Glorious and the temptation of this,
glorious july
i had 2(ish) months of neglected housewifering to attend to real quick… because my friend C. was coming to stay! :D

the last time she visited, this occurred so we were both determined to Do Better this time. we’d planned leisurely local shoppings, girlie stuff, meals out, no passing out or alcohol-induced blackouts, romcoms, and much catch-up chat whilst sitting in the garden enjoying the glorious.
and then we actually followed through and did all of the things on our list!!!

there is usually some sort of public transport fuck up when C. visits, and this trip was no exception.
signal failure

^ signal failure in nottingham / trains delayed for hours *grump*

we had a lovely week though, doing all of the things.
i meant to document it, with smug photos of belper being glorious, of our independent shops, the variety of good places to eat… but i forgot.

the day that was slightly cloudy? that day we walked to ‘the devonshire’ on bridge street for a late lunch at their awesome carvery.
and the day that was Husband’s birthday, we drove out to…

(well, we went some other place first, but there were too many people there for my liking, and they weren’t sitting in the right place – i wanted to sit under an umbrella next to the river. also the menu was laminated and had pictures :/
“sorry you guys, i just don’t think i’m going to be able to eat here”)

… the day that was Husband’s birthday, we drove out to ‘the hanging gate’ in shottle. it was super glorious again, and we were all super relaxed (plus super starving) so we had a big lunch, and then sat out in the gardens for coffees and puddings.

hanging gate

hey, look! i remembered to take my camera!
but i was too stuffed / idle to go beyond the shade to take photos of the pretties and the countryside bathed in glorious.

for all of the other meals (including breakfasts), we mostly ate deli stuff from ‘fresh basil’. normally C. and i only have whisky (including breakfasts) so we were quite extreeeemely proud of ourselves. *proud*

all too soon though, it was yesterday already, and i had to put her on a coach to heathrow
derby coach station
in time for her flight back to south africa.

or not.heathrow shut



74. the one with dad’s birthday present

subtitle: the one with the crow road

crow road cottage

back in the olden days of black and white, when my dad was a wee boy, he used to spend time at this little cottage on the crow road in glasgow.
it was owned & run by his aunt and uncles – they had lock up garages for rent, and petrol pumps for the customers.

crow road cottage 2

when we were kids (oh, and still), dad *always* told us about the time auntie eva sent him out to serve sean connery…
there’s other stories too, part of family lore, but i promised dad i wouldn’t say on the internet due to possible libel reasons :)

sadly, their little cottage was demolished in the late 70’s to make way for Progess, but it – and its peoples – are still remembered fondly and talked about often.

for dad’s birthday present, i had the idea of commissioning kirsty elson designs to re-create the crow road cottage as one of her gorgeous little driftwood cottages… and she agreed :)

kirsty elson designssuper f***ing cute, right??!kirsty elson commissionthat was back in MARCH, so i’ve had a really hard time keeping my mouth shut about it until july!

mum & sal knew about it (obviously. because i’m not THAT good at secrets) so there was much conspiratorial lol-collaboration via the internet on some “finishing touches”

mum: “i’ve bought a ‘to scale’ model of an olden car. i’m not sure which scale though so it might be too small”
me: “i’ve made some miniature saltire bunting to drape…”
mum: “but did they even have bunting in the 50’s?”
me:  >:(

sal: “i’ve got the rowan tree for in front of the cottage. and i’ve made some driftwood petrol pumps… but i think they might be too big?”
me: “hmm… i fear your pumps’ll be towering over my teeny tiny sean connery”

miniature sean connery

last saturday was dad’s birthday, so Husband, anakin and i made the trip up north for a little family get together and deliver his special gifts…

“happy birthday dad!”

crow road

dad: “did i ever tell you about the time…”

crow road cottage 3no. 507, crow road.