Monday, 25 March 2013

A bed for Nell


Finally, here are some photos of Nell in her bed of Liberty Tana lawn, Oakshott and raspberry-ripple tweed. While I hope that I really have always been conscious that Nell is not a cat, her bed testing processes confirmed this to me in a way where there could be no doubt left in my mind. The initial stage of bed trialling is endearingly human: it involves enthusiastically leaping on to the bed and then repositioning one's self several times, pausing briefly with each turn to assess that it is in fact comfortable whether lying on one's side, back or front. I'm sure I saw her smiling at this stage as she lay and appreciated it for a moment, which did a lot to warm a dog-bed maker's heart.


The next stage was more surprising and the time at which she confirmed that not only was she was a dog, but a direct and discernible descendent of the wolf.


There was rabid clawing at the pillow; a successful attempt to remove the pillow from the bed; enthusiastic and rigorous testing of all the seams of the tweed border to the bed beneath the pillow; chewing, pulling and gnawing of all fabrics; frantic scrabbling at the base of the bed to check if it was possible to tunnel through to the floorboards beneath; and finally playing a hiding game beneath the pillow to see if my worried and confused face was still there when she emerged. The entire process took over two hours of solid and frenzied activity (I didn't watch for the whole of that time, but my husband assured me that the activity was unceasing). However, the bed is still in one piece and has passed all her structural engineering tests for durability and my nerves remain un-frayed because, despite my being slightly startled by just how comprehensive her testing was, I had made it with the attitude that once it was finished it was her bed to treat how she wished. There are so many things in the house that we try to control her behaviour around (books, sofas, cupboards, skirting boards, people's ankles) that I knew it wouldn't be fair to add her own bed to this list.


And now that the testing is over, mainly, she just happily lies on it in a normal - not human or cat, but a sweetly doggish - way and seems to be a calmer presence for being cocooned in Liberty prints as she rests. Although there are differing opinions on this matter, as my husband suggests it's more likely to be the result of having a larger bed to recline on.


The bed is far more girly than I'd intended for it to be. The prints were chosen almost entirely at random and the only criteria was that they were heavy and intense enough to work in our red room. However, when I got to the borders, the only scraps of Oakshott that I had in a large enough quantity and which worked with the existing colours, was this rather bright pink one. And then once that was in place, the only thing I could imagine putting around the edges was a doughnut of pink tweed, which amazingly, I found hidden amongst the bolts of fabric in my local fabric shop exactly as I'd imagined it.


Here you can see the full effect of the Scrappy Trip around the World patchwork - I love the design this creates, which isn't particularly evident close up.


Making a bed that I knew may last as little as a week or as long as a year made me think a lot about why we make things and quite how often creating something may be more about the process than the intended purpose. So many of us spend months working on something and then are happy to give it away almost the moment it's finished, even if we may never see it again. Often, this is because, as well as the enjoyment derived in the process of making it, we're left with the feeling that we have given a tangible piece of 'care' to someone. Other times, whatever I'm thinking about while I'm sewing, in the backdrop is always the recipient - in this case afterwards I wondered whether I'd subconsciously chosen to make something for Nell that would take days to complete so that I could try and slowly untangle my feelings about having this new little creature in our home. And then there are the times when the need to sew is just so overwhelming that I'm not sure whether anything other than pure obsession or a desire to work with particular fabric prints comes into it. What makes you sew? Does any of this ring true for you? I know when I first began sewing I would enjoy the process of making things so much that I would frequently make things in fabrics that looked out of place in their surroundings and that really served no purpose. I quickly changed my tack on this as having a drawer of finished, but ultimately unloved, pieces felt wasteful. William Morris' take of not giving house space to anything that isn't either useful or that I believe to be beautiful is a maxim which I tend to try and sew by.


While this was a rather self-indulgent project, it wasn't a hideously costly way of Nell having a new bed - my stash of Liberty fabrics has mostly been built up buying from places where it's not priced so very differently from a regular quilting cotton (Shaukats and Fabrics Galore price their Tana lawn at around £12 per metre in store) and making this from scraps made only a very small dent in that stash. The tweed and stuffing came to far less than a nice shop-bought bed from the pet shop. The only real expense and extravagance was my time.

Last week my husband and I went up to London for a meeting and before we dashed home he insisted that we pay a visit to the chocolate room in Liberty (this is something of a ritual for him and he does it every time he goes to a meeting in London, irrespective of whether I'm with him). After he'd made his selection I was permitted ten minutes up in the sewing department. We happened to spot some exquisitely beautiful dog beds up there. We stood staring at them in a way that put us in danger of wearing holes in their divine Harris tweed sides and used up at least 2 of my ten minutes. However, at £295, making Nell's dog bed from my beloved Liberty stash seems positively thrifty (although, I do think that these beds are so incredibly beautiful that if you have a life where you can afford to pay £295 for a dog's bed, then it would be worth every penny). I bought nothing from the sewing department as I'm too indecisive to purchase anything in eight minutes, however, my husband did buy me a Liberty print handkerchief (I'm allergic to tissues so I love these), which was my prize for accumulating the most points over the previous week in our tense and fast-paced household game of 'Who Can Spot that Nell Needs to be Taken Out to the Loo First'.

Finally, did you know that Google Reader is closing down? This is the reader that I've always used so I'm sad to see it go. However, after a bit of research I'm now using Bloglovin' as my new reader, which, although it takes a little getting used to, is actually far better (even though I don't warm to the name). If you'd like to follow my blog on Bloglovin' you can click on the link below:

Follow on Bloglovin

And just in case you're not familiar with what a blog reader is, it's a central place where you can keep track of all the blogs you like to read. You simply follow them on the reader (in this case Bloglovin') and it will then update you as soon as there's a new post on one of your favourite blogs.

Florence x

24 comments:

  1. Nell's bed is absolutely beautiful. I wouldn't mind having one like it for my dog Aron. However, he's a very mucky dog (I don't know how he does it, he's a dirt magnet) so I've had to make a bed for him with three layers. This means that I can always wash one of the layers and he still has two to lie on. I might just have to copy the doughnut and make one to go around his bed, he would love it, I'm sure.

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  2. Gorgeous dog and bed! I love that you used Liberty fabric for your dog. I'm starting to like Bloglovin better too but I do think the name is pretty silly. It makes me think of McLovin from the movie Superbad.

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    1. I haven't seen that...but it sounds equally awful! :)

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  3. Nell is positively adorable - she is so lucky to have such a gorgeous bed!

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  4. Such a beautiful bed and pup! I've loved seeing the photo updates of progress on Instgram. I'm currently testing out Bloglovin' and Feedly - Bloglovin' is winning at the moment but I too dislike the name!

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  5. I'm so confused about this Google Reader thing - nobody seems to know whether the Reading List on Blogger will be affected or not.

    *Gorgeous dog bed*, yours is so much better than those £295 cushions! And I love Nell's testing of it. Must be good to know your sewing is that robust!

    Allergic to tissues?! Is it just those ones with the balm stuff on them, or is it the dust? I've been trying to use cloth hankies more just to reduce waste, and I found some lovely ones in a local vintage shop. x

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    1. Yes, allergic to tissues! But only in summer - I think once I've become allergic, I then become sensitive to everything and the dust that tissues produce makes me sneeze horribly. It does seem to be dust and pollen that sets me off though (thankfully not our cats, and hopefully, not Nell!). x

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  6. Oh the bed is beautiful, what a lucky dog to sleep on liberty fabrics. I think I sew mainly because I like to make things in general, I do think about the person while I am making it and it gives me a great deal of pleasure to go it to them as a present I hope they get some pleasure too.

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  7. Gorgeous! And I love your stories about making things. You seriously are one of my favorite blogs to enjoy reading. Can't wait until I'm in London to finally meet!!!

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  8. This really is a gorgeous bed for Nell, what a lucky girl. And you seem to get from start to finish in an extraordinary quick time. I can cut out a blouse and then it sits there looking at me for a week before I find time to go upstairs and sew, but when I do, I love it x

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  9. Such a sweet puppy! Beautiful dog bed too - I hope it holds up well!

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  10. Nell's bed is sooo lovely! If it were a little bigger, I'd sleep in it myself!! x

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  11. hello! have a very cool blog, congratulations! I leave my blog for you to visit and / or follow

    www.latortugapecosa.blogspot.com

    Greetings from Spain and ... congratulations!

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  12. I'm glad you liked Bloglovin' - I do - like I said on Twitter, it's pretty.

    Much like your dog bed. And your dog.

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  13. Oh, Nell! I can't take it-- she's beyond adorable! Love her little face! And what a beautiful bed! I'm glad that she loves it so much. :)

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  14. OMG - I LOVE - LOVE the puppy photos. So cute. Me and my familiy have a soon seven year old Golden Retriever boy called Gordon. And of course we LOVE, LOVE him. We live on a small farm in the countryside of Norway, so he is living a kind of free, spacey life. He brings so much happiness inn to our life.

    There is nothing so cute as a Golden Retriever Puppy. Enjoy the weeks ;).

    Kind regards from Norway ;)!

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  15. I love the photo of Nell with her paws over the edge of her bed, she's so adorable.. She could get a job for Which?; she's such a thorough tester!

    I'm following you with Bloglovin' now.

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  16. Lucky Nell, she has the most gorgeous bed ever made for a dog. Our dog, Monty, has been through so many beds and has eaten every single one to pieces.

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  17. Beautiful to look at and no doubt beautifully made too...but can you wash it?

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  18. That Liberty dog bed is not a patch on yours. Lucky Nell!

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  19. Hi very cute pup, and adorable dog bed. You asked about need to sew. I NEED to sew. Get tetchy if I don't do a little bit each day. i think I choose alot of complex items so they take longer and I don't get too many finished projects around the house. Like you I give alot away as special gifts. Have solved my production rate of items by making homewares that a local charity sell to raise funds. keeps me busy and does a good turn for others

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  20. That is by far the loveliest dog bed I have ever seen, and Nell is a mighty cute girl, too! I admit I was wincing a bit during the first pictures of the test-phase, only because of my own pup's history of bed-and-blanket destruction...but I do applaud your attitude of "it's her bed," etc. Sounds like all is well in the Land of Nell!

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  21. That's just gorgeous! And doesn't she look wonderful in it. I'd love to make one for my puppy Ollie but unfortunately pugs turn out to be a very doggy-smelling breed and I have to wash his bedding weekly for my own sanity. Makes me appreciate my cat even more!

    I need to sew too, I can go for a week or so without too much pain but after awhile it gets to be a bit uncomfortable and then stressful and then ahhhhh when I get some sewing in I can just feel my psyche refreshing itself.

    I also agree that Blog Lovin' has a rather painful name, but I guess if it works then I can just try not to notice it. I'm going to miss Reader though!

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  22. Hi Florence! I came to read your how to get awesome corners post and seen Nell! Well I had to read a long. Your post was so well written I was into every word you said lol! It was a great read and I loved the bed you made for her! Oh and I loved your perfect corner post!

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x