The little mouse that (almost) killed me

So, I thought I’d make a little ‘Mouse in a Tin’ for each of the kids coming to Cappers’ slumber party last Saturday night. How hard could that be, right?

Tired of always leaving things to the very last minute, in late August party preparations were well underway. Which is to say that I pinned a few things to my new ‘Slumber party’ board and fell in love with the Wee Mouse Tin picture. I had to have it. Matter of fact, I had to have ten its.

Spurred on by my new ‘early planner’ approach to life and parties, I duly bought ten Altoid tins for $4 from a gal on etsy (typically, you couldn’t get the tins in Australia and postage cost me more than the tins), received the tins within the week and… waited.

So, Wednesday before the party came around quick-smart and I thought ‘wow, what happened there?’. Fuelled by bat-outta-hell panic, I whizzed online and purchased the Wee Mouse Tin pdf pattern from Larissa at mmmcrafts; felt revved up and raring to go when she emailed it to me Thursday morning; had a massive comedown when I saw her opening paragraph: this pattern is written for folks who have some basic sewing and embroidery experience and who are familiar with common sewing terms; drank a quick glass of chardonnay at 11:25 am and set the pattern aside to ‘read later’.

‘Later’ turned out to be Friday night at about 8pm.

Now, despite my propensity to ignore things that overwhelm me and my other propensity to do things that I am completely unqualified for, I’m not entirely daft. I knew I was in trouble. For a start, it was now 8.30pm on a Friday night and I didn’t have half the stuff listed in the ‘to make this pattern you need’ section and for another start, I didn’t have half the crafting skills required either.

But this is where being oblivious to your limitations comes in real handy.

At 9.30pm I finally figured out how to thread the sewing machine. (My friend Jen usually does those sorts of tricky sewing things for me.)

By 10.30pm I worked out that you can’t cut the thread too close to the machine or it will keep coming unthreaded and you will have to keep threading it and threading it and threading it which is great because you are now an expert at threading a sewing machine but so bloody annoying that your inner scream is starting to make your outer shake.

By 11.30pm I had cut out all the little mouse fabric and felty bits and roped LOML into cutting out the mattresses.

At 12.00am I had a little cry because there was no way I had the skills to sew the tiny little legs and arms even if I did have the freezer paper that the pattern required and you can only get in the USA.

At 12:15am I had another little cry because I remembered that I didn’t actually know how to embroider.

At 12:30am I convinced LOML that he should not enable my madness and should in fact go directly to bed and not look back.

At 12:35am My eyes glazed over as I watched a YouTube video (“part 1 of 4″) to learn how to do a french knot to make the mouse eyes. Watching that lady work her embroidery needle (which I did not have) through her embroidery hoop (which I did not have), made me realise that I may have set my expectations a little high with this one.

At 12:55am I finally cracked the french knot thanks to my new mate Mary Corbet and set to it making the little mousey faces, each with its own wonky, terrified french-knot-induced expression.

At 1:30am I decided to abandon the idea of making the little teddy bear that goes with the mice, namely because on Larissa’s pattern it says “this pattern uses freezer paper to aid in sewing tiny pieces. Be sure to use a medium temperature to iron the freezer paper to the wool felt” and I realised that not only did I not have freezer paper, but I didn’t have any wool felt either. Besides, at this point I didn’t trust myself with an iron, warm or otherwise.

By 2 am I had most of the mouse bodies made, each with plain felt feet and arms sewn in. In the end, I just cut out the arms and legs and whacked them in there, no additional sewing attempted.

At 2.05am I had three little cries because I realised that I now had to hand-sew stuff.

By 2:55am My new mice all looked like old mice, instantly tattered by my butcher-like hand-sewing skills.

By 3 am I had the mice all made and set about gluing the mattresses into the tins, feeling buoyant and somewhat light-headed. There were two bits to each – a felt bottom and a cotton ticking top. I forgot to glue the felt bit in first so abandoned that idea completely. I thought about waking LOML to apologise for making him unnecessarily cut out 10 felt mattresses.

By 3.35am I realised that I still had to make blankets and pillows for the little buggers.

By 3:45am I had developed a persistent eye twitch that no amount of chocolate was taking away.

At 4:10 am, I had a little micro-sleep in a pile of mouse sleeping bags, my head resting on a pint-sized pillow.

At 4:15 am I crawled into bed, knowing I would be up at dawn to finish the mouse bedding and start on the meringue mice for the party dessert.

At 4:16 am, as sleep clamped down on my foggy brain with the clang of a prison door closing, I realised that quite apart from the fact that I am a stubbon little mule, sometimes in life we just have to lower our expectations. What we want to do and what we can actually physically accomplish, might not be exactly the same thing. We need to be realistic and not set the bar too high for ourselves.

Near enough is often good enough. In fact, it’s probably always good enough. Just not this time.

When was the last time you attempted something quite beyond you?
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