The Bothered Owl

Alex and Sarah's crafty corner of cyberspace

Owl’s well that ends well (Sarah’s goodbyeeee) July 29, 2011

Filed under: Life — thebotheredowl @ 9:58 am

I’ve been putting off writing my farewell post for a week or so.

It’s weird, saying goodbye to life as a Bothered Owl. Doubly weird as I’ve just started my own Folksy shop as Undercover Owl. And painful saying goodbye to two people who’ve been part of our family for the last almost 6 years.

Anyway, here’s a brief look back at almost two years of Bothered Owlishness.



Our very first craft stand. This is October 2009. We were so incredibly nervous. It was in the basement of a pub in South East London over a Saturday and a Sunday and we had a lot of fun. I remember the high of our first sale: a Lego Halloween themed bracelet that we sold before the fair even opened.


Owly at Oscar's

When we first started, one of the first things I did was write a tutorial for making this little fellow. I was much more unfocussed about my sewing back then. It was all about just making stuff because I wanted to. I still have a hell of a lot of fun sewing but there’s more of a theme to what I do these days.

I used some beautiful Japanese fabrics I bought on ebay. I love the dragons and I have the wave print in several different colours. I use a couple of fat quarters as scarves.

This was the first sock pouch I ever made. It’s very different to the current incarnation. No flat bottom, no pockets, sewn by hand. It’s still my most used knitting bag because it fits in my change bag, even when my bag’s stuffed to the gunnel with nappies and clothes.

Not long after that we did some prizes for the Stitch London newsletter. Alex had just started making stitch markers

as well as jewellery and I figured I’d have a go at making some sock bags.

What could go wrong? It was worth a shot.

We ended upgoing to the first Knit Nation as a result.

Scott got some hilarious photos, like the genteel Wollmeise stampede.

And we did a raffle.

The Raffle Prize

IKnit Weekender and Fibre Flurry followed, with Alex and Scott taking on more and more of the front of house stuff as I got more and more pregant.

Alex discovered the wonders of Fimo cake:

and… well, I could go on and on but I’m going to stop this little trip down Amnesia Lane before I get all teary.

Suffice to say, the last almost-2-years have been an absolute blast. I’ve worked harder at this than at anything other than being a parent. I’ve slept a frighteningly small amount, cut up enough fabric to cover London, made more bags, needle rolls and envelopes than I thought humanly possible, laughed my arse off at ridiculous things, met some amazingly wonderful people, some of whom I am lucky enough to call my friends, and generally just had a wonderful time.

Thank you so much to everyone who has come to see us at a show, purchased something from us on the internet, chatted to us on Twitter or read this blog. It’s been a fun ride, being a Bothered Owl and thank you all for being a part of it.

And a huge more than thank you to Alex and Scott. For being amazing business partners. For all their hard work on the Bothered Owl, especially over the last few months as I’ve been less able to help with things.

And most of all for being two of the best friends I have ever had. I will miss you guys more than I can say and I wish you every happiness as you head off on your big trip and start the next part of your lives together. I look forward to seeing you guys have massive success withThe Quizzical Owl.

It’s been so much fun, guys.

Over and out


PS Should you care to follow the continuuing adventures of the owlettes and I, we’re blogging over at Undercover Owl


Oops! May 2, 2011

Filed under: Life — thebotheredowl @ 10:16 am
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It has just been pointed out that I’ve not actually told anyone officially what the new owlet’s name is. Very remiss of me.

Come on, mother. The suspense is killing me.

He rejoices in the name of Elias Pelham Goldzieher Leavesley.

Goldzieher’s my maiden name and I’ve lumbered all three of them with it. Pelham is for dear old P.G. Wodehouse.

So there you go. Officially announced and registered and everything.



Home April 5, 2011

Filed under: Life — thebotheredowl @ 3:53 pm

Hey guys

Just checking in briefly, in between supplying drinks, to say we’re home. Still slightly shellshocked from how quickly everything happened in the end, but very happy.

I guess I got my come uppance for my practical joke on Sunday night, hey! Woke up about 2 hours later in the full swing of labour and had to speed to the hospital. He was born a couple of hours later at 7.15am.

First visit

The new owlet remains nameless thus far. He’s enormous, 10lbs 5oz and apart from the odd melt down when he gets hungry or a bit lonely, he is incredibly placid and peaceful so far, quite content to lie on my lap or in his rocking chair or basket and stare at his own hands.

Baby Surprise Jacket is finally in use. It will fit him for about a week!

Orlaith and Esme are completely entranced with him. Esme wants him on her lap all the time and held hands with him all the way home from hospital. Orlaith sings to him and is busy concocting ridiculous pet names for him.

3 owlettes, all in a row

So now we just have a few weeks/months of settling into the new pattern of family life as five instead of  four.

And we need to find him a name…



World Book Day March 3, 2011

Filed under: General Crafty Chat,Life — thebotheredowl @ 9:12 am
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Thought I’d just very quickly share a few photos of the completed costume for World Book Day. Orlaith headed off to school, very excited in her full Captain Flinn regalia about half an hour ago, waving her sword and looking absolutely delighted with herself.

So full of piratey glee

She was in fact attempting to stab me in my belly in this photo. And giggling unrepentantly throughout her attack too. Rotter.

Piracy is serious business, doncha know?

Like her tricorn? I used a fantastic tutorial from over here, to refresh my memory of how the outer brim should be pinned, mainly. For the most part, a tricorn can be made in the same way as a sun hat, it just has a much much wider outer brim and you have to stitch it up in a particular way to make that lovely pointy triangular shape.

And because it would be wrong to leave Esme out of the action, here is the costume she devised for herself. We’re not ALL about home/handmade here at Owl HQ:

A princess? Seriously? An owlette as a princess? But that's just so... vanilla!

As obsessed as Orlaith is about pirates and dinosaurs, Esme trumps her with her current passion for Sleeping Beauty. We have resisted her urging to buy her a Sleeping Beauty costume so she fashions her own from all the other girly princess dresses we’ve been given. Most days are spent either in this fabulous frothy creation or more often than not, draped in her big sister’s Snow White costume. She insists her name is Princess Sleeping Beauty.

But there’s a twist.

What's that, Lassie? Timmy's in the well? With some dragons? Avaunt!

This princess comes complete with her own pirate sword – I get told off for sugesting it’s a pirate sword, it’s a PRINCESS sword – and she fights dragons. And builds her own towers.

Ignore the sweet smile and pay attention to the flash of sharp sharp steel. Well, all right, foam. But that's not the point.

And there you have it, folks, our first ever World Book Day is off to a cracking start. Onwards and upwards!


PS Have a link to The Guardian’s brand new children’s book site. Huzzah!


Arrrrrrr (For Alex) February 27, 2011

Filed under: Life — thebotheredowl @ 11:01 pm
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This post is mainly for Alex, who missed out on seeing Orlaith’s birthday cake today.

It’s Orlaith’s birthday tomorrow, she’ll be spending it away from us for the first time ever – first day back at school and all that.  So we celebrated with her grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousins today.

And of course, given her obsession with marine based larceny, there was a very specific request regarding the cake. Luckily we bought a pirate cake tin a couple of years ago, last time she made the request.

Alex, being somewhat occupied with being at a certain lovely yarnfest, wasn’t able to join us, but she asked for pics, so here they are:

Had to disguise the horrible brown icing with some carefully placed party rings.

What's that you say, Orlaith? You want sharks? Can do.


Over sized biscuit helm? Never. It's just that this is a ship for Really Big Pirates.

The sharks were made by cutting triangles out of licorice and the canons are licorice comfits. She asked for brown icing, for some bizarre reason, but it came out looking vaguely like an unmentionable substance. So I smothered it in tiny smarties and party rings. Because (apart from me) who doesn’t love party rings?

It was slightly lopsided and not quite as I’d hoped it would look but to be honest, Orlaith really really didn’t care.

Ahh, that smile 🙂



It’s a Mum Thing… February 25, 2011

Filed under: General Crafty Chat,Life — thebotheredowl @ 10:41 am
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I’m not quite sure where the burning need to make Amazing Costumes for our offspring comes from.

My mum had six kids and I don’t think she slept for at least 20 years, let alone took a quiet five minutes for a cup of tea and a chat on the internet (Internet? Pfff! I am OLDER THAN THE INTERNET!) But I remember always having the most incredible costumes for dress-up days when I was at school.

Whether it was a Holly Hobby style stripy skirt and mob cap for our special ‘Olden Days’ open day or a bright pink boob tube and gingham rah rah skirt for the school production of Joseph And The Technicolour Dreamcoat, she pulled it off, somehow. (Yes, somewhere there is photographic evidence of me as an Adoring Girl. No, you don’t get to see it. Ever. Some things are best kept hidden from the world.)

So when the lovely Julie of  Tilly Flop Designs reminded us all that next week is World Book Day (Thursday 3rd March, specifically) I was filled with dread.

Could I live up to my Mum’s amazing creations?

Would Orlaith agree to wear what I made? What the hell would my eccentric child want to wear for World Book Day anyway? She has somewhat… eclectic taste in books and I could see her asking for something completely undoable like a Captain Biceps outfit or Herb The Vegetarian Dragon or something. I have no idea how to pull off a dragon costume. None.

In the end it was fairly easy. One of her favourite books is Captain Flinn and The Pirate Dinosaurs which was a much treasured perfect birthday present from Alex and Scott (I seem to recall). We’ve subsequently acquired and devoured each new episode in Flinn’s fantastic adventures. They’re hilarious, full of swash and buckle and just the right amount of naughtiness. Dinosaurs and pirates are two of Orlaith’s all consuming passions in life, so the books are just perfect.

And of course, she wants to be Captain Flinn for Book Day. (So proud my daughter is continuing my own penchant for cross-dressing on Book Day. I remember going dressed as Prince Caspian at least once. Gender, schmender. Swords are cool.)

Flicking through the book I realised with dread I was going to have to make an actual *gasp* garment. A pirate coat, no less.

It sounds silly to be so daunted, but you have to remember that it’s been almost a year since I last made anything that wasn’t a knitting bag or a sun hat. I haven’t made myself any maternity skirts and I’ve never ever made a top, let alone a whole coat.

Still, armed with my trusty tools, I went to work with a will. I took Orlaith’s measurements and we sketched out what she wanted the coat to look like.

Look! I drew something. And it actually looks like the thing it's meant to represent.

I started out by looking at her existing coat and trying to figure out what I would need to do to adapt that shape to be more… piratey.  SarahAbroad suggested hitting up the thrift shops and finding a jacket to modify. And then I remembered my handy stash of Sew Hip contained in it, somewhere, a pattern for a duffle coat. I hunted like a pig for truffles and sure enough, there it was!

The kid in the photos is just so cute.

I used the pattern pieces for the lining as a starting point. One of the best tools you can get, if you’re going to be working with templates or patterns is a tracing wheel. Looks a bit like a tiny pizza cutter with little bumpy bits all over it and you can use it to copy pattern pieces without having to ruin them by cutting them out.

I traced the lining pieces, then I modified them.

Always, always, always write down what your pattern piece is.

Mark which bit is the neckline, armscye, hem etc. Really important to transfer any markings as well.

Not sure if you can see the markings too well in the photos, but I took Orlaith’s collarbone to ‘waist’ measurement, marked a line at that point on each of the pattern pieces, then basically extended the line of the bottom of the coat, to make it into an A line shape. Effectively, I added an A line skirt onto the bottom of her coat. Sort of.

DIdn’t need to alter any of the sleeve pieces so after that it was time to cut it all out and get sewing.

Sleevish! The funny looking bit at the top is where your shoulder goes.

All pinned together. Pinning is super important when making a garment.

Make the recipient try it on before you sew, scratchy pins and all. It will save you much heartache.

You can kind of see the new shape, no? Slightly swingier from the waist down.

I didn’t take any photos while I was sewing. I was too busy swearing at the thread for breaking and sweating over things like pocket placement and so forth. I roughly followed the instructions from the pattern in the magazine which were really nice and clear. I’d definitely make the duffel coat based on the pattern instructions. One of these days…

Anyway, skipping over the hours it took me to actually sew the things together – interspersed with breaks for taking people to the potty, making lunch, reading stories etcetera – here’s the finished product, like magic.

Ta dah! Pirate jacket, with dinosaurs. See what I did there?

(Um, Alex? I may have been forced, forced I tell you, to raid the stash on the table a little. Sorry about that. But the dinosaurs say they like living on Orlaith’s coat and they really wanted to be pirates rather than knitting supplies anyway.)

Best of all, are the buttons. I am so happy about the buttons.

Anchors away!

Jake bought himself a lovely coat earlier in the Winter – I think it might be a pea coat? – but the buttons were sewn on very badly. I repaired them three or four times in the first week or so he had it, until he finally got sick of not being able to wear his shiny new coat and we cut all the buttons off and replaced them with plain navy ones.

Not being one to throw anything away (Random birthday cards from when I was 6? Still at my Mum’s house somewhere.) I held onto them, just in case I should one day have a need for nautical themed buttons. And lo, I looked upon them and realised they were good. Oh yes!

I bound the cuffs with some offcuts of satin ribbon leftover from making drawstrings for our yarn pouches:

Mmm, smooth.

It took me all blinking day and most of my evening to put it together. But when she saw it this morning, it was all suddenly worth it.

Menacing, no?

She has yet to remove it for more than 5 seconds at a time and she and Esme have constructed a pirate ship on the armchair.

Arrrrr. Etcetera.

I’d like to think my Mum would be proud.

Captain Flinn and Pirate BicBic

Of course, the only problem is that now I have to make one for Esme. She’s already picked out the fabric. A mum’s work is never done…


PS Stay tuned later, we should hopefully have an Unravel Preview Post for you…


The Holiday is Definitely Over January 31, 2011

Filed under: General Crafty Chat,Life — thebotheredowl @ 10:14 pm

Scott and I have been back in London since the 5th of January, after spending 3 lovely weeks in Budapest visiting family and sightseeing. Budapest is a city that both Scott and I enjoy visiting, although it had been a little too long between visits.

We also spent four days in Vienna. We visited the Hofburg and Schloss Schonbrunn as well as a number of other sites. I was very pleased to be able to see the Lippanzaner horses at the Spanish Riding School.  We watched their morning practice and also had a guided tour of the stables.

While we were at Schloss Schonbrunn,  Scott proposed. Of course, I accepted!  There is no ring at the moment as we are going to choose that together. There are no wedding plans yet. We are moving back to Australia in August, so the wedding will be at home, and next year sometime.

We are now back in full swing and there are a number of blog posts that we will write over the next few weeks.

Our next show takes place on February 26 and 27.  Unravel will be held  in Farnham, Surrey, and we will be selling our wares alongside some fabulous yarnies – check them out.

Alex 🙂