impressions of munich

I have enjoyed a wonderful weekend in the beautiful city of Munich, which was not at all as I expected and was an absolutely lovely city to visit... gorgeous buildings, elegant squares, delicious food, trams, trains and an underground, museums, galleries, lots and lots of parks, trees and green spaces, refreshing beer, friendly people and terrific warm weather!

I went to meet my old friend Sarie who teaches there... we had a lovely mix of whizzing around seeing interesting places and experiencing the city, and lazing around in her lovely modern apartment near the Englische Garten, drinking wine and tea and catching up with each other's lives.

Mistletoe grew everywhere in the tall birch trees, giving a wintry feel.

All the shops were getting ready for Christmas and there was masses of greenery everywhere.

The Germans love flowers and sell them on every corner.

We bought fresh dates to eat on the tram, and clementines in a little cone of paper.

Munich is a devoutly Catholic city and there are many many madonnas and little saints statues embedded into the walls of buildings and apartments, or high up above the street.

On Sunday all the museums and galleries reduce their entry fee to one euro. We chose to visit the Pinakothek der Moderne, where we visited their exhibition on the history of design as well as getting to see some amazing modern masterpieces including works by the Blaue Reiter group.

Here we are having a well-earned rest on the space-age modern rocking chairs in the design exhibition.

I can't recommend Munich highly enough as a place to visit... next time I have been promised a trip to the mountains which are only an hour or so away. I was hugely impressed by the German way of life, their sense of design and style, civic pride and forward-thinking approach to the environment... and of course their delicious wurst and weissbier...


Not that I'm the sort who goes jetting about for the weekend normally, you know, but tomorrow I'm flying off to Munich very early in the morning for a little adventure... it's just what I need at the moment... I've never been before so am quite excited. Early next week I'll post some photos and hopefully have some stories to tell and inspiration to share.

Thank you to everybody who kindly bought things from the shop in my autumn sale. The shop has now closed for a while but there will be more soon, I promise. I'm looking forward to some creative time on my return.

This week I sent off my ten little packages of christmas decorations to my partners in Freshly Blended's 2009 Christmas Ornament Swap. I meant to do it last year but forgot to register, doh. It was fun packing them all up and posting them off all over the world... and should be even more fun receiving my own ten surprise ornaments over the next few weeks.

So now it's off to try and fit all my things in a rucksack and wrap up against the stormy weather to go and get some euros from the post office.

See you next week.

making discoveries

A parcel of linen hearts went off in the post to my London lady this week. I was very pleased with how nice they looked with the new labels.

I have managed some creative time this week but it is interesting how my thoughts keep coming back to bags... I don't know why. I went to the post office with the hearts and had an idea for a new shopper... four hours later I admitted defeat... I think maybe my head is not geared up for all those technical challenges at the moment... maybe I just need to draw and paint for a bit, loosen up.

I think if your aim is to make a decorative item you are thinking primarily about the finished product and how the embellishment or decoration will slot into the making process... whereas if you are simply creating, exploring, mark-making, the creative process is freer.

It is so interesting to make all these discoveries. Giving myself time and freedom allows these explorations and mistakes become useful rather than a waste of time.

This afternoon we have been treated to a rare daytime visit from our lovely resident owl. We often hear hooting at night but seldom see anything other than a brief rush of feathery wings in the day. Today he, or she, has been sitting for hours in the rain in our neighbours' beech tree, beautifully camouflaged.

Later: when we looked out at dusk there were two owls there in the tree, one above the other... magical.

freer and lighter

Since my decision not to make anything as a purely commercial venture anymore I feel so much better. I felt my creativity was being utterly stifled by the need to time and cost everything and it wasn't just that I was producing stuff I didn't like - I completely calcified and couldn't produce anything. Like a rabbit in headlights I just felt fear and alarm and with no idea which way to go next.

I've started to re-examine my decisions and the way I'm working. For example, the labels I was using were bothering me and so I made a new choice to bin them and make hand-stitched, hand-written labels instead. More work but the result is me. The colour is chosen by me instead of off a swatch card, the fabric is cotton and linen rather than scratchy polyester, the paper is proper laid paper and not bargain-price card. Now that I plan to make fewer, better quality and less commercial items for sale, this all becomes possible. I can change them when I like, move, breathe, feel, dream...

I feel free again and it is a wonderful feeling.

even more lovely bargains!

Firstly I want to say a huge and heartfelt 'thank you' to those who posted such thoughtful and wise comments yesterday... I have heard you loud and clearly! I know what I have to do... the words kept repeating themselves... 'follow your heart'...

And my heart is telling me that it is tired of designing to the lowest common denominator. It wants to think bigger and more beautiful. I simply can't make things as lovely as I'd like them to be at a price that will appeal to the mass market.

And so... I am having a total, utter, complete and entire STOCK CLEARANCE! I kept a few things back from the sale last month, thinking they might 'do' for the London Lady... but I have decided on a clean sweep with a new broom. Out with the old Mouse, in with the new, whatever that might be...

So this is your very last chance to grab a bargain - and these are really good bargains - post and packing is FREE to anywhere in the world so the prices you see are the prices you pay.

We have lovely, delicate wire and paper heart decorations...

...which are only £4.50 including postage to anywhere in the world...

And there are a very limited number of the brown gingham check Market Bags...

...which come neatly packed up in their own little pouch and are only £5.50 including postage and packing.

Last but not least there is a Pincushion Bonanza! I have several pincushions left over in lots of different designs and colours so it's a Lucky Dip - you choose the shape and colour and for only £3 including postage you get a surprise design.

Please do have a look and maybe you will be able to tick off a few more presents on your Christmas list... this is your last chance to own one of these Mouse originals! Thank you all.

my intention

" intention was never to become famous... my intention was to tell my story and to tell the truth..."

Jay-Z in this interview with Andrew Marr*

I find myself asking this question of myself yet again... what is my intention... if you pop in here at all regularly you'll know that I'm always tying myself in knots over this... first of all I'm making bags, then I'm giving that side of things a rest and concentrating on my art, then I'm experimenting again, then all change again...

All this has come about because of a frustrating day attempting to design some new embroidered bags. I thought this would be easy and quick... after many false starts, several total turn-arounds and an emergency dash for more threads, three Kit Kats and gallons of tea, I am sitting staring at... nothing much.

The problem as always with trying to make products to sell is the equation involving labour hours, aesthetics, practicality, saleability and a fair price. What works in terms of cost looks rubbish. To make something really beautiful from the heart would be a work of art, not something to carry groceries in.

I have been seduced into saleable stuff again because a nice lady in a trendy shop in London wants to stock my work... this seems like such an opportunity and one not to be missed, so I've been trying so hard to come up with designs that I like and feel connected with and that I can make over and over again and make a fair profit on.

And yet, and yet... what I am making is not giving me that deep-down rich sense of fulfilment that I crave.

And yet and yet... playing and creating for its own sake won't pay for dinner.

And time is not infinite, Christmas is coming, and I'm getting fat. It's a conundrum. One I don't know the answer to yet. What is my intention? I've a feeling I won't achieve it unless I know for sure.

*I know, you didn't think I was into rap music... well I'm not really, but I'm kind of fascinated by the stories they tell and the way it's a sort of contemporary poetry... this interview is worth a listen... his intelligence and sensitivity is quite something.

pushing the narrative

I'm not too sure what the phrase 'pushing the narrative' actually means but Lucy used it here and I rather like it. What I would like it to mean is... hello... this post has been a long time coming, partly because of the flu but partly because of the after-effects of the flu, which have not been at all creative but have been about tidying and cleaning, drinking tea, collecting firewood, welcoming autumn and spending time with this little person who is delightfully new to cold weather and warm fires and going to sleep on her own...

...and because I never wanted this to be a happy housework blog or a what-I-had-for-lunch blog or a beautiful baby blog, there hasn't been much to blog about at all.

What is more interesting is all the thinking and reading and slowness that's been happening... I have started a new soft blue scarf for the winter with five balls of cashmerino astrakhan that I had been saving. It's very plain but the yarn sort of needs that, and I'll do a scallop edge all round when it's finished. It's nice and easy but there is pleasure in that, in just enjoying the soft colour of the wool and the in-and-out, in-and-out.

One of the many books I read was Audrey Niffenegger's second novel, Her Fearful Symmetry... I was rather disappointed with this, as I loved Time Traveller's Wife, so much so that I wouldn't go to see the film, knowing it would spoil it. But this one didn't work for me... the different strands of plot didn't knit together well, the characters were rather unloveable and I kept stumbling on editorial errors... they do say that second novels are the most difficult, so here's hoping for her third..

I am still working on the linen hearts and have a pile unfinished that need attention very soon. A new embroidered bag design is on its way, and I've planned a crochet extravaganza once the scarf and the dotty blanket is finished, that will use up all my odds and ends of lovely coloured yarn. When I make a start, I'll show you what I'm up to.

Now it's off to my newly tidied work table to embroider those poor naked hearts and put their buttons on...