Monday, 25 November 2013

Why Doctor Who Makes The World A Better Place

For me, this past few days have been like Christmas. Only better, because Christmas happens every year and you can never guarantee whether the telly’s going to be any good, whereas this weekend we had The Day of The Doctor – the 50th Anniversary episode of Doctor Who.

I have been a fan of all things sci fi since I was tiny. Some of my earliest TV memories are of watching The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy and Sylvester McCoy fighting daleks. I clearly remember being asked at age 7 what I wanted to be when I grew up and my answer was ‘Ace’. Although to be fair I also wanted to be Long Distance Clara the lorry driver from Pigeon Street so I was nothing if not fickle.

My childhood Doctor Who memories begin and end with the Seventh Doctor, as of course the series was plunged into hiatus until 1996, by which time I was well into my career as a teenage geek and watched with passionate interest, wearing my Red Dwarf t-shirts, while Paul McGann pitted against an eye-rollingly  camped up Eric Roberts as the Master. I was immediately smitten. I knew hardly anyone else who had watched it and had no real frame of reference  but it rekindled my vague, Davros-tinted memories and by the time the series was properly rebooted in 2005 I was an ardent lover of all things Whovian. Like any relationship, we've been through our good times and bad times - I loathed and detested the Ponds but continued watching anyway because you don't walk out of a 50 year relationship just because it gets a bit rocky. "I'm watching out of loyalty", I said at the time, something that baffled my non-fan friends.

In 1996 when I watched Paul McGann in the first Doctor/companion clinch, it was still pretty uncool to be a Doctor Who fan. On Saturday, 10 million people watched the special (not counting repeat viewings and timeshifting), and it was simulcast to over 90 countries. 3D cinema screenings all over the UK sold out within hours, and social networks have been buzzing with excitement for months – not just the niche forums, either. It's mainstream now, and that's just wonderful.

It is a glorious time to be a nerd. And I truly believe that the rise and rise of Doctor Who is a Good Thing for everyone. It’s not just a TV programme. It’s more special than that. So without further ado:

My Top Five Reasons Why Doctor Who Makes The World A Better Place

1.      It’s made by fans, for fans

      When Russell T Davies brought Doctor Who back in 2005, he ended a 16 year hiatus since the last ‘proper’ series. But the Doctor hadn’t been idle in that time; he was saving worlds and battling bad guys in audio adventures, books, magazines, and – importantly – in the hearts and minds of one of the most loyal fandoms of any show, ever. Many of those fans now work on the series. David Tennant was famously inspired to act by watching Doctor Who as a nipper, Steven Moffat relishes writing for a show that he has grown up with, and the incoming Doctor, Peter Capaldi once wrote to the Radio Times in praise of an episode in 1974. You only have to look at the number of ex-stars who turn up for conventions and wax lyrical about their time on the show to see how fondly it is remembered. "It's the best job in the world" is a quote that can be attributed to several actors lucky enough to pilot the TARDIS. Tom Baker once said that he loved playing the Doctor more than he loved being himself.  The affection and humour with which this 'little show that could' is made transcends cheap props, dodgy effects and quarries in Wales and shines through the screen. 

2.       The Doctor Makes People Better

While that other great British stalwart, James Bond, shoots and kicks his way to victory, the good Doctor will always strive to show his enemies the error of their ways rather than destroy them. Granted, occasionally he’ll whip out some Venusian Akido but that was really just to make that velvet coat whoosh around in a satisfying manner.

 He’s been given the chance to wipe out the Daleks more than once but ultimately stays his hand.  

"But if I kill, wipe out a whole intelligent life form, then I'd become like them. I'd be no better than the Daleks."

He always finds the best in his human companions, too. Donna Noble might be ‘just a temp’ and Rose Tyler may be 'just a shop assistant', but to The Doctor they are brilliant; he looks below their mere workaday definitions of success and sees their cleverness and compassion, their bravery and determination. Nobody is ‘just’ anything to the Doctor. 

"It was a better life", says Rose, "and I don't mean all the travelling and seeing aliens and spaceships and things, that don't matter. He showed me a better way of living your life." If we look at the world and our fellow humans like the Doctor does, anything is possible. The Doctor has an infectious enthusiasm about the wonders of the universe, a boundless curiosity in heading forth into the unknown carrying ‘a teaspoon and an open mind’, that is free of dogma and leaves you believing that even the sky doesn’t need to be the limit. We’re all fantastic in our own ways and so is the human race. Right down to whoever it was that invented edible ball bearings for cakes.

3.     Because SCIENCE, bitches!

The Doctor is clever. I mean really clever. Properly clever. And he just loves exercising that grey matter. He’s a scientist, a professor, an historian, an engineer. He wears glasses. Forget hipsters, the Doctor has been rocking geek chic since before most of Shoreditch was born. Here is a role model for swots everywhere – you don’t have to be good at sport (except, arguably, cricket) and you don’t have to hide your books on astronomy from the cool kids, because The Doctor makes it cool to know things! Way back in the 60’s, a generation of schoolchildren were checking books out of the library on Roman Centurions because they wanted to know more about where the Doctor had been. Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London saw a surge in visitor numbers when an episode was set there in 2007. A role model who encourages kids to learn about the world rather than shoot chunks out of it with Uzis – that’s a powerful and glorious thing.

Some incarnations have even been rather fanciable – imagine that! A sex symbol that can calculate quantum mechanics! Beat you to it, Professor Brian Cox.

Because licking things is also Science.

4.       It’s just so damn BRITISH.

There’s something beautifully British about Doctor Who. Yes, there’s the police box, the Brigadier, the eccentric clothing, but what makes it so completely recognisable as coming from these rainy islands is its sense of humour. Moments of pomposity are punctured with self-deprecation – in the 50th anniversary episode a spectacular Reservoir Dogs –style entrance of the three Doctors is deflated by a ‘sorry for the showing off’ put down. The Doctor can laugh at himself – sometimes literally, as in John Hurt’s relentless piss-taking of his successors in the same episode ("They’re not sand shoes!") .This is a character who can save the world in his pyjamas, with a satsuma, while quoting from the Lion King. After being revived from near-death by a cup of tea.  A programme that will devote a chunk of precious airtime to putting Tom Baker in a Pythonesque Viking costume just to get a laugh before sending him back into the TARDIS to change. A show that can include the line “Don’t say that, that’s like saying ‘this is going to be the best Christmas Walford’s ever had’” without worrying about whether it will translate on BBC America.
The omission of Doctor Who from the opening ceremony of the London Olympics caused ructions that could be measured on the Richter scale, because it’s as much a part of our national identity as James Bond, tea and scones or the Last Night Of The Proms. And I love it for that.

Very Arthur Dent.

5.       Bernard Cribbins.
       I'm just leaving that one there.
No explanation necessary.

    And, if you're still unconvinced, here's bonus number six:

6. Because any show that can inspire this sort of shenanigans at a wrap party is one that deserves to last another 50 years.

   Happy 50th Birthday, Doctor. We love you, no matter what face you wear.


Monday, 2 September 2013

Creatures of the Night - A Short Story

With apologies for the dreadful teenage schoolgirl quality of the writing. This was in my head and wanted out and there was nowhere else to put it.

Names changed to protect the guilty.....


Ben sat on the steps of a London house, sheltered in the doorway.  A cool breeze scampered past, trailing familiar night-time smells of chicken bones, cigarettes and the faint far-off whiff of a fox doing its rounds of the neighbourhood dustbins.

His steady gaze took in the darkened street. The blue glow of televisions seeped beneath curtains, the steady thump-thump of some generic r-and-b track escaped through the open upstairs window of a teenager sent to bed hours ago, and the hissed tones of a one-sided doorstep argument on a mobile phone momentarily caught Ben’s attention before melting back once more into the general white-noise of the city.

He stood and stretched, feeling the hard ground cold beneath his bare feet. He had spent countless nights this way. He was as much a part of this secret moonlit life as the fox, the insomniacs and the rat that his eyes now fell upon, its tail slipping behind the rubbish bag as it scuttled by in search of tasty scraps.

Slowly, silently, Ben stretched one long leg in front of another and made his way down the steps. Despite his scruffy outward appearance, he had the natural lithe grace of a dancer, and his soft tread made no sound as he crept towards the rodent’s dark hideaway. His senses were taut as piano wire, the level intensity of his eyes such that his head barely moved on his shoulders as he rounded the corner. 


With half of its small body buried in an empty tin, the rat's twitching rear end made an oblivious target to Ben’s experienced hunter’s eye.  No flicker of doubt played across Ben’s face. Not the slightest whimper of conscience. He was hungry. It had been an impossibly long time since he last ate. Perhaps this unfortunate creature was an unorthodox meal, but what might incite horror in others was an everyday truth for one with such constant, gnawing need as Ben. 

In a flash of fur and blood, the rat was his. Clamping his jaw on the neck of the struggling critter, Ben felt bones crack and crunch beneath his teeth. A moment later, a last desperate convulsion, and the creature hung, limp, from his grasp.

Ben turned and carried his prize back up the steps. He sat, calmly licked a trickle of warm blood from his lips, and turned his cold stare back upon the street. Satisfied that nobody had witnessed his crime, he began to gorge on his unwholesome dinner.

He heard a soft noise behind him. Jealously guarding his food, Ben risked a glace over his shoulder. It was his sister, another creature of the night like himself.

She sniffed the death in the air, registered his kill and settled herself a respectful distance from him, her beautiful amber eyes quietly surveying the street as his had done only minutes before.  With her willowy frame and copper-coloured hair she was able to twist others to her will, but Ben gave no quarter to her beguiling powers. She was family, but they had not spoken in years.

Her presence diminished Ben’s pleasure in his meal. Taking hold of the rat once more, he lifted its mauled corpse and strode past his sister. He would enjoy this kill alone, indoors.  A small ‘click’ sounded as the magnet on his collar activated the catflap.

With the rat in his mouth and blood on his furry white paws, Ben headed for the bedroom. Perhaps The Staff would appreciate his trophy.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Time management skills

I have recently been taking a bit of a self-enforced sabbatical from my creative endeavours to sort out the bit of my life that actually brings in the cash - the boring, day job side. I recently read an article which said that, when self-employed, it is important to take a good look at your time management. It suggested drawing a chart of how you divide your working day. This seemed like an eminently brilliant bit of procrastination, so instead of doing work I made this:

This is a very simplified version, of course. I actually do much more. Like drinking tea.
They were right. I now see where I'm going wrong. From now on, I'm going to cut right down on the baby sloth videos. Sorted.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

In which Significant Otter and I try to sort out my exercise regime

Me: Now I'm working at home I'm not cycling to work anymore and it's making me fat and lazy. I think I might have to join a gym or something awful.

SO: What gym are you going to join?

Me: I have no idea. I don't even know where there are any. Or what happens at them. I thought of maybe doing 'spinning' lessons, but then I discovered that it's not just aeroplaning around a big room with your arms out until you fall over. It's just a fancy word for exercise bikes.

SO: And they stick your feet to the pedals so you can't stop.

Me: WHAT??? F**k that. That sounds awful. Plus I can't do classes. I'd have to speak to strangers - sweaty ones - and they might even want to have coffee afterwards or something and you know I'm not great at interacting with other people on my own and not freaking them out.

SO: True. What about jogging round the common?

Me: Jogging's boring. Plus I have bad knees. Probably.

SO: Cycle to Sainsbury's instead of taking the car?

Me: Are you kidding? There's a massive hill on the way back. It'd be knackering.

SO: So you wouldn't have to do it as often.

Me: Yeah, but every time I did do it I'd have to stop for a little cry at the top. And I could only carry, like, one apple back from the shop at a time. Not that I buy apples. But I would have to if I was fit.

SO: Swimming?

Me: I'm really bad at it. And people tut at you if you want to do widths because you get scared doing lengths when you get to the deep end and can't put your feet down. Plus I always want chips afterwards because swimming makes me really hungry. I think a gym might be the only way. Gym machines are kind of like computer games but with physical stuff, right? Like Wii Fit?

SO [losing the will to live]: Yes. Yes that's just what it's like. Shall we just get you Wii Fit?

Me: That is a brilliant idea. Except I can't do any of the really energetic stuff because we have downstairs neighbours.

SO: You could do them in the day while they're out.

Me: They're in all day. I know that now, because they keep saying hello to me in the garden. I can't go in the garden now in case I see them and I have to make small talk. I wait for them to go out before I go to put the laundry on the line.

SO: I think the exercise is the least of your problems.

Friday, 21 June 2013

I'm a lonely soldier. But I like it.

I am writing this from my bedroom. I am not in bed - in fact, I am up and cleaned and dressed despite it being barely noon. But I am sitting in here to write because the rest of the house is so hideously messy and cat-hairy and in need of housework that if I go out there I will never get anything done due to the sheer, paralysing, deer-in-headlights horror of the Clean All The Things list. I won't actually clean anything, either. I'll make tea, or come across an important magazine article that needs reading, or play with the cat because it looks lonely (translation: "Wake UP, Doug. Play with me. Please?"). Only the other day I ended up doing my tax return in a supreme bout of championship-level procrastination whereby it somehow became a better option than whatever small, less complicated task I was supposed to be doing.

Procrastination and housework avoidance are just one a few of the issues I have come up against since becoming a full-time work-at-home person a month ago. Due to a very amicable redundancy, I switched from going to an office to sit at a desk (procrastinating), every day to being self-employed, doing much the same work, sitting on a cat-filled sofa (procrastinating), every day. And I have to say, on the whole, I'm enjoying it. I find that I actually get more work done in less time, as I'm more painfully aware of the tasks I need to complete every day. And while I do procrastinate wildly, I do eventually Get Shit Done, partly because I feel like I need to justify my time and prove that I'm not just stroking kittens (I am), drinking tea (I am), and wearing pyjamas (usually).

I find myself trying to fit more into every day because I'm not constrained by the 9-5. Popping out for a loaf of bread becomes a trip to Sainsbury's followed by Ikea followed by oh I might as well stop for some cake followed by Hobbycraft followed by oh well it's not that far to that nice fabric shop in Tooting I might as well do everything at once seeing as I'm oh dear it's 6pm and I haven't actually done anything of any worth. And I will have invariably forgotten the bread.

Internet social networking, which was once a horrible, dreadful time-sucking vortex of pointlessness, becomes a veritable boon for the home-worker. Deprived of water cooler moments in the office (we never actually had a water cooler. Who does, really?), my social interaction is reduced to 140 character tweets about how many cups of tea I've had or long, entertaining conversations on Facebook with fellow procrastinators about how we really should get off the internet and do some work. The world of craft is fantastic for this - Facebook is populated by dichotomous agoraphobic socialites working away on their solitary artistic pursuits, stopping to post a picture of a tangled bobbin, a cat eating their knitting, or an anecdote about the post office queue (a rare outing and one which often necessitates the first Outdoor Clothes of the day).

Then there are the more complicated issues of fending for oneself all day, alone. No longer able to run across the road for an Americano, this week I had to learn how to use the coffee grinder, something which is normally the task of the Significant Otter. This occured:

Not pictured: floor. With coffee.

Honestly, I feel like Bear Grylls in the wilderness. Only I'm not drinking my own pee. Yet.

Friday, 24 May 2013


The national press may have gone quiet on the Badgerocalypse front but they have missed out on today's important development - we now have an artists impression of the attack of the 50ft badgerzilla from hell which may or may not also be a zombie:

Thanks to our artist-on-the-scene Little Black Heart for this hard-hitting reportage. We can only imagine the atrocities she must have witnessed in the pursuit of the truth.

You can see more of Little Black Heart's awesome work here and follow her on Facebook here

Don't have nightmares, now.

Thursday, 23 May 2013


I'm not going to beat around the bush. Yesterday, the best headline in the history of the printed word burst forth onto the world. I give you:

BADGERGATE!!! (click for original - hilarious - article)
Now, already this is the most brilliant thing I've read in ages. But what makes it even more fantastic is that this is happening AT MY OLD SCHOOL.

Fame at last! I'm a bit jealous, if I'm honest; in my time there we had absolutely no giant wildlife scares. This is literally the most exciting thing to happen at that school since the whole Sixth Form got suspended in leavers week 1997 for drawing massive cocks on the school field with bleach.

Terrified schoolgirls are apparently being held hostage by this Godzilla of the badger world:

"On one occasion it was spotted underneath one of the mobile classrooms and the pupils were told to close the window and not to leave until it was safe."

 If they are the same mobiles that were there when I was, their flimsy walls will provide little protection against an attack-badger, especially this one who, we must presume, shares the size and bloodlust of a rabid grizzly bear on acid.
Angry badger. He will CUT you, yo.

This morning, it's gone viral. Even the Daily Mail is covering the story. I haven't actually read their take, for fear of catching Nazi, but I assume they are going with the angle that this is an immigrant gay badger intent on stealing our jobs and giving us all cancer. Who also killed Princess Di.

Sadly, I have it on good authority that this is not actually a hitherto undiscovered Giant Badger species, nor a mutant badger that has grown to the size of a small car after ingesting radioactive fish washed down the coast from Dungeness B power station. My sister is a pupil at the school (yes, I do feel old), and she reported first hand, with the practiced pragmatism of the 16 year old proto-goth:

We'd never need a DNA test to prove we were related...

 So it seems that it is, in fact, just a normal sized badger, but the average teenaged girl thinks that badgers should be the size of hamsters. I sympathise with the confusion, really, as for years I was convinced that puffins were at least as big as emperor penguins. I'm still slightly disappointed at how small they actually are.

This is clearly an ENORMOUS GIANT MAN. (photo from
The final line of the original article gives me hope, however, that Badgergate may yet take a dramatic turn. Check out how curt the school have been with their official statement.

"A spokesman for the Folkestone School for Girls said there was no problem with badgers at the school and that they had no comment to make."

Methinks they protest too much. It's a badger CONSPIRACY, people!


I don't have any badgers in my shop. But I do have foxes. See what I did there, woodland animal fans?

Click the picture to visit and buy my stuff. No angry badgers.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

The further adventures of Flat Stanley and his tragic almost-demise.

Those who have been following this blog for a while, or who have maybe just been putting very odd search terms into Google, may be familiar with Flat Stanley, the result of my first (and so far only), foray into the art of taxidermy. Stanley was an ex-guinea pig, who had been humanely sourced and who I raised from the choir invisible under the expert tuition of Amanda from

Flat Stanley, as his name suggests, did not turn out to be the most handsome of specimens, but a little Phantom of the Opera costume both hid his disfigurements and gave him a jaunty air. (Original blog post here....)

Since then, Flat Stanley has been happily housed in a glass case (um, ok, it's actually a giant sweetie jar. But we took the labels off and washed out all traces of sherbert lemons), on the mantelpiece. His fame has been such he and his jar have even been on stage:

He was such a diva.
Then, last night, something TERRIBLE happened.

We came home to a scene of devastation. Flat Stanley's sweetie jar, with Flat Stanley helpless within it, had fallen off the mantelpiece. Glass was everywhere. As for Stanley...well. Let's just say it wasn't pretty. Doug the cat (for we know it must have been him, his sister is far too thick to work out how to extricate a stuffed rodent from a jar), had no intentions of letting Stanley rest in peace. This conversation occured:

LL: What is that? Is that, like, a dead bird or somethingOHMYGODITSFLATSTANLEY!!!
SO: Don't look. Oh God. Don't look.
LL: He...he....he has no hands!
SO: Nope. Or feet.
LL: And his FACE! Doug has eaten HIS FACE!!! What is WRONG with that cat? He's a psychopath!
SO: At least Doug didn't hurt himself on the glass or anything while he was carrying out his abominations.
LL: Yeah. I wouldn't have wanted to explain that to the vet.

SO thought that the cats had knocked the jar off the mantelpiece. I maintained that Stanley had been up there since last September and they'd never knocked it down before. BUT I don't think it is any coincidence that this happened very shortly after the arrival of Super Rat (who I think might have evil kinetic powers. SO says I have been watching too many films). Our mantelpiece became a lineup of suspects:

The skull is plaster of paris. I promise.

Whether he fell or was pushed, Flat Stanley had gone from being a slightly odd but kind of adorable ornament to a TERRIFYING FACELESS ZOMBIE RODENT that I couldn't have in the house any longer. I wanted to throw it out, but SO was all "no, I can save him and make him less like the stuff of nightmares". I was off out for the evening, so I gave SO an ultimatum - by the time I got back, the Thing that used to be Flat Stanley either had to be buried at a crossroads or somehow made into something that I could bear having under my roof and that wouldn't rise in the night and kill us all.

While I was out, this text conversation occured:

SO: Flat Stanley looks like a burns victim. in his bandages.
LL: Are you trying to make him into a mummy?
SO: i might have to age his wrappings with tea bags.
LL: I'm not sure if you are a genius. I think you might be. i also think Flat Stanley might be haunted.

So. Long story short. When I got back, this had happened...


 If you read this, Significant Otter, thank you. Thank you for fixing my faceless, limbless, possibly haunted dead guinea pig. It's these little things that make a marriage.


Epilogue: I almost wasn't going to share this last bit, for the sake of everyone. But a problem shared is a problem spread around, so I don't see why I should be the only one holding this hideous information in my head. Shortly after this picture was taken, this occurred:

LL: Where did you get all the cotton wool to reconstruct his feets? We don't have any cotton wool.
SO: Um. I owe you two tampons.


You're all welcome.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Stuff I did when I wasn't here (with apologies for title nicked from The Bloggess)

While I've been cracking on with keeping the shelves filled at the Emporium, you may have noticed I've been a bit quiet recently (damn, I hear you cry, she's back). This is because I've been beavering away with various other creations in the meantime. So to prove I'm not lazy, here's what I've been up to...

This spring has been frock-coat-ageddon as I've been helping with costumes for various plays at my local haunt the South London Theatre. April saw my most ambitious task yet as I made a tail coat for the character of Branwell Brontë in Polly Teale's Brontë. It helped that a) the director of the play is an all-round sewing ninja herself and chose and cut the pattern, so all I had to do was fit it and sew it together, and b) the character in question was being played by Significant Otter himself, so I had a live-in model to stick with pins.

Still, it was pretty tricky considering I very rarely dabble in clothesmaking. Significant Otter is, basically, shaped like Johnny Bravo, which resulted in lots of extra fitting around the waist and some serious shoulderpad action up top. And I have resolved never to work with velvet again, mostly because of the quite ridonkulous amount of fluff and fuzz it created in my sewing machine, on the floor, in my hair and all over my pyjamas (yes, I sew in my jammies, what?). Turned out rather dashing in the end though, I think:

Picture by Philip Gammon. (NB this was part of the play, not an emergency onstage hem repair. Honest)

Buoyed by this, and while waiting for some fabric to arrive for some custom orders, I decided to have another crack at making something for myself. My sartorial leanings are eclectic but generally err towards the vintage. The problem with genuine vintage patterns, however, is that they can be fiendishly difficult to make and fit - something I don't have the time, patience, or dressmaking experience to be doing with. The joy of bags and purses, you see, is that they don't have to fit actual humans. Give me a complicated buckle fastening or a folded strap and I'm all over it, but ask me to grade a dress pattern and it's tantrums and tears before bedtime.

Enter my saviour: Eliza M ( The UK-based Eliza M creates patterns based on staple vintage styles that do away with all the complicated stuff and are simple enough for beginners and intermediate sewers to approach without fear.

This was my first experience with an Eliza M pattern but I will be buying many more - I really can't recommend her enough if you have vintage tastes but modern skills (i.e. you are not an actual sewing wizard like Anne on the Great British Sewing Bee. Incidentally, does anyone else think that 75 years of experience is basically cheating? She was like a sewing Yoda).

I chose the 'Pussy Galore Blouse' (stop sniggering at the back), and a cheap, £6.99 a metre cotton lawn from my local haberdashers in a cornflower blue with white swallows (or possibly ducks. or geese? pigeons, maybe).

The pattern itself comes in a clever A4 slip folder which means no more stuffing bits of tissue back into suddenly-too-small envelopes. I was immediately heartened by the final instruction:

Clearly, these are my kind of peoples.

The instructions are for the most part simple and clear, although I had a bit of an argument with the facing on the inside of the neck, which at one point turned into an Escher-like puzzle and I was in danger of creating the worlds first Mobius-blouse. However it resolved itself eventually and I came out the other end with an Actual Thing:

It's got arms and buttons and everything!

The fit is a tiny bit off, but that's more my own inexperience than anything, and I did mess up the collar a bit, but it doesn't show because of the whacking great bow at the front covering a multitude of sins.

All in all it took me a couple of evenings and not all that much swearing at all. I'm now mulling over which of the Eliza M trouser patterns to attempt to complete the outfit.

So if you've been scared off vintage dressmaking because you wouldn't know a princess seam or a pintuck if it smacked you in the face, fear not! Eliza M is there for you. Go for it, my sewing paduans!

In other news.....this is the fabric I was waiting for. Yup, they now make Star Trek fabric. Bow down in awe.

The middle one is currently available as a made-to-order phone cover , but if you have a burning desire for a Star Trek/Star Wars purse, Kindle cover, bag, teacosy (maybe not the teacosy), then head on over to and get in touch.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

The Massive Patriotic Stripey Crafting Insect

Not a sewing bee.
Hands up who watched the first episode of 'The Great British Sewing Bee' last night?

Keep your hands up if you started watching with the intention of going "pffft, I could do that". Quite a few of you? Yeah, me too.

Now keep your hands up if you still thought that after the first round of judging? Yeah. Not so tough now, are we?

The challenges sounded pretty simple - make an A-line skirt from a pattern, alter a neckline, fit a dress. But that was before the scariest HE teacher in the world (who looks like she might have swallowed a bee herself), and her sharp suited friend stepped in with their eyes for microscopic detail. Those poor contestants are going to be having nightmares about slightly puckered zips and unbalanced hems for years. I'd have run away, crying, trailing bias tape in my wake within the first half hour.
Also not a sewing bee.

But let's not be downhearted, fellow sewists. Because we all know that what the GBSB contestants face is not a patch on the challenges we face every day of our crafting lives. In order to really give them a fair test of what the real-life home sewist has to cope with, I think they should add the following tasks:

The All-Nighter
Contestants must create a school nativity costume/theatrical prop/fancy dress outfit/party dress from only items they can find in their own house. The challenge will be presented to them at 8.45pm the night before the item is due to be needed. Extra points awarded for sewing quietly and not waking up the house.

Speed Unpicking
Contestants must race to unpick a sleeve from a garment which has been put in upside down. Extra points given for creativity of swearing.

Pin Management
Contestants must tip a box of pins on the floor and attempt to collect every single one within a two minute time limit (the maximum amount of time one realistically has before a barefoot child/spouse/family pet comes in and treads on them all).

Bumblebee does not sew.
Additional Rules

  • For maximum realism, contestants are allowed a constant supply of tea (however, any contestant seen finishing a cup, rather than letting half of it go cold, will be disqualified). For the All Nighter challenge, wine may be substituted for tea.
  • At irregular intervals, several cats will be released into the studio to walk all over the tables and sit on the ironing boards. 
  • And, most importantly, no matter how tight the deadline, contestants must spend at least twenty minutes of every hour procrastinating on Facebook and/or making toast.

 Yeah. That's more like it.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Bear with...

It's been a bit slow going today at Lemur Towers, on account of how earlier this week, this occured:

See how brave zombie lemur tried to call for help by waving his little arms...
This is right above my sewing desk, and luckily didn't happen while I was in there as I would have been buried to death under All The Boardgames in The World. Which would have been humiliating to put on my tombstone.

Luckily, Significant Otter was there to tidy up the immediate aftermath of Shelfgeddon, which involved picking up, among other things: 5,634,579 playing tokens from various games, all the Trivial Pursuit cards, several chess pieces and a 'Make Your Own Morph Out Of Plasticine' kit. Even more luckily, Banana the Bernina was unscathed as the shelf itself created a ski ramp for all the Cluedo counters to whizz over the top of the desk and straight into the cats' bowls on the other side of the room, with spectacular results.

On closer inspection this morning, though, it appeared that the the shelf contents had brought with them a Sahara's worth of accumulated dust, which took an AGE to wipe up, and something surprisingly heavy (possibly a Monopoly Iron, travelling at critical velocity?), has gouged a sizeable dent right in the middle of my cutting table. Which is highly annoying.

Still. I think I'm back in the game now (pun unintended - too soon), and ready to start stitching again. Might just take all the stuff off that shelf underneath first, to be on the safe side....

Friday, 8 February 2013

Where the magic happens

My little sister Ellie is embarrassingly, horribly talented. She's only sixteen and the artwork she creates is already enough to send grown artists slashing their canvases and cutting off their ears in despair. Her Facebook page, where she posts under the moniker 'Paint Dipped Pixie', showcases her emerging talent.

The only consolation I have is that she still has to go to school and do exams. With this is mind she posted the following plea a couple of days ago:

Now, I often see fellow crafters posting pictures of their studios online and they are generally airy, beautiful, co-ordinated spaces, with complex and attractive fabric storage systems, inspirational art on the walls and handmade angora throws on the ergonomic furniture. The sort of place, in short, where a creative soul might waft about, creatively, sipping herbal tea while gazing at the moors out of the window waiting for inspiration to strike.

So I originally wasn't going to make my space public AT ALL. But in the end I felt I owed it to all those crafters - I know you're out there - who divide their working time between Facebooking, searching for your pincushion for the seventeenth time that morning, shooing the cat off the ironing board, desperately trying to find a single clean cup that you haven't already used to put tea in then left somewhere and forgotten about, and occasional short bouts of feverish creativity. We don't normally show off our 'creative spaces'. Often because we can't find them under all the mess. But I'm going to let you peek in to mine, right now. (Not a euphemism).

All of my sewing room can be photographed from the doorway. Thusly:

Note inspirational view of brick wall.

At my feet, where you can't see them, are the cats' bowls. I have the luxury of a cutting table on the right, there, which only has one wobbly leg. Banana the Bernina sits faithfully on an old Ikea desk, while my laptop (for Facebooking and listening to audiobooks), is propped on boxes of fabric.

Come with me, if you will, all the way over to the Other Side of the Room. 

No. I don't know why the air compressor' is there either.
EVERYTHING lives on these shelves. Except for what is jammed into the drawers, which is mostly fabric:

My name is Lemur Lady and I have a hoarding problem.
The Fabric Drawers of Joy are my second favourite bit of the room. My favourite is the Accidental Shrine of Inspiration:

OK. Now I realise it looks a bit obsessive and murdery. 
The mantelpiece and the wall above it have sort of acquired lots of handmade bitses and pieceses I have bought or been given from other crafters. The picture at the top is my all-time favourite quote from Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome, done as a letterpress print. Under that is my FionaT original 'Dawn of the Thread', which makes me smile every time I look at it. Then we have a drawing done by the aforementioned Ellie a few years ago - me as Wonder Woman getting a piggyback from the Wolverine (the Significant Otter's alter-ego). You may also spot another couple of FionaT's (I promise this isn't a stalkers shrine. Honest.), and a Little Black Heart ACEO along with a Quernus Crafts teacup mouse and my wonderful Prince Charming Adam Ant-Mouse.

Also, *cough*, my lanyards from the preview week of the Doctor Who Experience which S.O. took me to for my 30th birthday. It was brilliant. There were daleks and EVERYTHING.

Not pictured:
  • Enormous poster of David Tennant looking all brooding in Hamlet, 
  • Very precarious shelf barely supporting carrier-bags of half-finished and forgotten projects
  • Slightly OCD arrangement of hooks above desk holding scissors and other Important Things so I don't spend hours looking for them every day
  • Three half-drunk mugs of tea
  • Cat litter tray
  • Cat

So. I hope that wasn't too disappointing, Ellie. One day I will have a grown up studio with big sweeping tables and those slanty desks that you can stand up at and draw things, and not-dead pot plants. But it'll still be full of tea cups and the cats will want somewhere to sit, so don't expect too much.