The Trial and Error Cats

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As every pet owner knows (and I’m using the word ‘owner’, here, in the loosest possible sense because we all know who really owns who), now and again, when you are not thinking too much about it, you fall quite naturally into speaking each other’s language.

And so it happened the other afternoon. It was bitterly cold outside so we were all together in the Makery. I was sitting, knitting in the blue floral armchair, Poppy was snoozing in front of the fire, Fiona was in her box on the desk and Mrs Hare was busy sewing.


“I really should make something else to go in my shop,” I said, more to myself than to anyone in particular.

“Why don’t you make some cats?” asked Fiona.

“Cats…”, I pondered.

“Yes! You make hares and birds and dolls and dogs…”

“Only sausage dogs!” interrupted Poppy (we have discussed before the difficulty of making a spaniel).

“And sheep!”, added Mrs Hare, without looking up from her work.


“But cats would be better,” said Fiona decidedly. “I’m sure you’ll find there’s quite a market for them.”

I wasn’t entirely persuaded but, by now, Fiona was in full flow. “What you need is some black cats – perhaps other colours later – and I’d start with nine.”

“Why nine?”

“Oh, for the nine lives of course”.

Mrs Hare and I looked up from our sewing and knitting and even Poppy looked a bit a surprised.


And Fiona laughed. “People always think a cat’s nine lives are nine narrow escapes from death! That’s not it all – and no one wants to buy a cat falling off a roof”.

And she turned around and started cleaning her paws and we all waited for her to tell us what a cat’s nine lives really are. And we waited and waited, all of us knowing quite well that she is not an animal to be pressed for information, but, so far as she was concerned, it seemed that the conversation was over. In the end it was Poppy, who is not usually known for her respect and diplomacy, who broke the silence.

“So, dear Fiona, beautifulest of cats,” she asked in her most polite voice, “What are these nine lives then?”

“Oh, it’s just what we do,” replied Fiona casually. “Humans and dogs and hares have one life at a time and we have nine different lives and live them all at once”.

“But how can you?” asked Poppy. “We see you having your one life, here in the Makery with us”.

“No. You see me having one of my lives here in the Makery with you. That is my life as a Makery cat. And sometimes you see something of the other eight”.

“Like a lady detective?” asked Poppy, getting the idea at once – we all call her ‘Fiona the spy’. But Fiona wouldn’t be drawn into details. “Seven are based on the seven skills of cat, which you can easily observe, and two are personal choice,” she said. Then she sprang effortlessly from the box and was out in the garden before anyone could ask her anymore.

So we just had to guess the seven skills of cat. So far we have come up with these:

  1. Sewing/Knitting/Crochet Assistant.
  2. Spy.
  3. Explorer.
  4. Astronomer.
  5. Acrobat.
  6. Dreamer.
  7. Teacher (Poppy insists that she learnt everything she knows about hunting from Fiona).

Who knows whether those are right or not. You may have some suggestions of your own and we’d love to hear them.

From a sewing point of view, it certainly gave me something to be getting along with and so began the Trial and Error Cats.


So far, there are miscellaneous body parts +  four whole large cats without faces +  two small cats. And all are without clothes…


So, at the moment, they are rummaging in the vintage scraps and playing dressing up and suggesting all sorts of outlandish attire that it may or may not be possible to construct from from some odd lengths of lace, old table cloths and vintage hankies…


I suspect they will be back soon.

I wish you a warm and happy week!

Janine @ Rainbow Hare

A tale of an Old Sideboard and an Unwanted Armchair…


I love how things can move from old to new and so it has been with these drawers. Once, long ago, they was my Uncle Peter’s sideboard (and before that, I think, they belonged to my Granny). In those days, they were dark stained oak and had some other kind of handles, though I can’t remember what those looked like. Truth to tell, they had seen better days and were in a rather sorry state. I never for a moment doubted their potential but Mr RH was not at all impressed and threatened that, unless I had transformed them by the time he got home from work, they would be going to the dump! And off he went to his office looking very smug. Sometimes Mr RH can be such a delight!

By the time he got home, however, they was sanded, undercoated and painted the royal blue (below) and he, grudgingly, agreed that they could go in the larder. Over the years, as we moved to a succession of larder-less houses, I managed to keep them with us, albeit in humble places like under the stairs until I happily came into possession of the Makery, where they was elevated to the grand status of a fabric store. And I hoped that would, at last, be an end to the fight to keep them. So imagine this! After the floor sanding, when we had the great mixing up and putting back of furniture and we eventually came to those very blue drawers, Mr RH asked, “Do you really need those in your sewing room?” Naturally, I braced myself for another round of the battle. And I don’t know if I or the drawers were more surprised when he continued, “They’re looking a bit shabby now but if you give them another coat of paint, they’d go well in the kitchen…”


My next old-to-new is a much more recent acquisition. An armchair that belonged to my late MIL. In the short history of the Makery, there have only ever been old dining chairs. These are ideal for sewing and desk work and have been perfectly adequate for sitting to knit or crochet but I may have looked longingly at some Granny Chic armchairs on pinterest from time to time. And, when it came the question of what to do with an old unwanted armchair, I was immediately convinced that it would be the most luxurious thing to sit comfortably knitting and listening to the radio of an evening (spoiler – I was not wrong!).

Mr RH, true to form, said it was far too big for the room and an eyesore to boot. And, to be absolutely honest, even with the space made free by the blue drawers it did rather overpower the room and looked, to say the least, cumbersome.

But it is so comfortable.


So I concluded that covering it in a different fabric would surely help. But I trialled and trialled to no avail until, at last, I decided to try the matching pair to the second hand curtain I used for my favourite Dottie Angel dress. I think this is my favourite dress in the history of the world so I long resisted trialling this fabric as I have been keeping it for another dress when my current one wears out.


As soon as I saw it draped over the chair, I knew it would be perfect. This fabric somehow blends the chair into the room and, in my view, it looks like this chair and the Makery were made for each other :)


Beauty, I concede, may be in the eye of the beholder, but, it seems to me, that now I find myself with a very stylish kitchen cupboard and a most beautiful and extraordinarily comfortable armchair.

And in the (unlikely) event that, after twenty years or so, Mr RH should invite that into the kitchen, I shall most certainly decline :)

Janine @ Rainbow Hare