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.
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:
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.