zodiac QAYG part 1

It’s been too hot here to do much crafting but I have finally started work on finishing my zodiac blocks, in very short sessions.

I did actually get blocks all quilted back in April but then they were left in a pile as I couldn’t decide what fabric to use for my QAYG strips.  After 2 months of walking past the pile of blocks and fabric, I decided I just had to stop second guessing myself, and to get on with it!  I’ve kept things very plain, which is quite unusual for me!  I didn’t want the front to be too busy, because I spent an awful lot of hours cross stitching those zodiac designs, on 20 count aida, so I’d like them to really stand out.

I’ve used a milky chocolate brown on the front . . . it’s what I used for backing fabric, and I’m even using it for my 1″ strips on the back too!

So, when I say plain – it really is going to be plain on the back!  Anyway . . . with 12 blocks to this quilt, I assembled first into pairs.  And then I assembled pairs into panels of 6.

All I need is a couple more sewing sessions to join both panels, and then to add binding.  Stay tuned!

 

ScrapHappy # June

Hello everyone! it’s the monthly link up with

Kate Gun, EvaSue, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill,
Claire, JanMoira, SandraChrisAlys,
KerryClaireJeanJon, HayleyDawn,
Gwen, Bekki, Sue L, Sunny, Kjerstin,
Vera, NanetteAnn, Dawn 2, Noreen,
Bear, Carol, Preeti and Edith

to talk about things scrappy!  I’ve been carrying on assembling 2.5″ squares.  I do love cutting small squares when tidying up my scraps, and at the moment, I’m assembling into placemat tops.  Haven’t used a table cloth in decades, but the husband and I like to have our dinner plates on a mat – it just makes the table look more “set”.

The current series now looks like this.

Six tops, all 9 x 6 squares, which will give a finished size of 18″ x 12″.  Quite a few fabrics make an appearance several times, but no two tops are the same.  They’re all completely random which I think makes for bright & cheerful.  Now to sandwich, quilt & bind!

SAL “together we are magic” #3

Above is the photo I posted 3 weeks ago of my current SAL project:  “Together we are magic”, a Letitstitch kit with artwork by Jody Bergsma).  I had started out hoping to complete segments of 40 x 40 stitches each time, but I’ve already fallen behind.  Gridding does help, but there’s so much thread changing to deal with, and I noticed there’s also some half stitches appearing now, so I need to concentrate.

Anyway, here is progress for this time.

Here is the list of links to other SAL members. I wonder if there have been any happy dances this time?

AvisClaireGunCaroleConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyMeganDeborahReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneAJLauraCathieLindaHelen

And we’ll be back on 4th July!

more sensible sewing

I’ve been busy, cutting, pinning and sewing . . . nothing very exciting, but having a few more sensible sewing sessions.  6 years ago (time flies), when helping with MIL’s house clearance, there were lots of bed sheets, some never used, that I saved and had been storing in a cupboard ever since.  We don’t use sheets & blankets, we prefer quilts and quilt covers . . . but the advantage of bed sheets is, there’s an awful lot of fabric to use up.  MIL wouldn’t have liked for good fabric to go to waste, so I hope she’d approve of what I’ve done!

I pulled out two sheets in “blues” (both brand new), gave them a wash and iron.  And I’ve made a reversible quilt cover.  Added plastic poppers to the bottom of the quilt cover and had enough fabric to make matching pillow cases (2 in each fabric).  Btw:  when I say “pillow case” I use the word meaning “bed linen, so for use on bed pillows.

The hardest part was battling with two whopping great big sheets, and getting them cut square so I could sew and make to fit for a 200cm x 200cm quilt. There were quite a lot of scraps left over . . . the floral might make something pretty for my dolls. Not sure about the other fabric, but it’s going in the scrap box.

Another sheet, in beige, but slightly faded in places, gave enough to make 4 pillow cases (two already in use, so not in photo)  and I also came across a couple of “old” table cloths (mine, from about 30 years ago when we used table cloths).

Table cloths were without stains, but one had obviously been used/washed more often than the other . . . fabric also has a distinctive “kitchen” look to it, but I’ve turned it onto pillow cases regardless.   Before cutting and sewing, I did actually have a proper measure up, and you’ll be seeing more of the green soon because  I cut a couple of rectangles and strips, to finish off some of my scrappy table mats.

I do, of course, have drawers full of fabric I could have used for this sensible sewing, but I liked the idea of using the bedlinen & table cloths to make more bed linen.  Still have a couple of sheets, but I might save them as they’d make good backing fabric for future patchwork quilts.

reading – one very good, the other not

Two books read recently . . . one very good, the other not (in my humble opinion).

The not so good, I’m afraid to say, was.

“The Ickabog” by J. K. Rowling.  I read the French translation because 11 year old Cléo lent me her copy.  I don’t think, the fact I read it in translation, had anything to do with the way I felt about this book because the translation seemed to flow well. I am not ashamed to say, I loved the entire HP saga, which I have read several times both in French and English, never tiring of those adventures.  It was with high expectations, therefore, that I began this book.  The only positive things I can find to say about this are: it’s keeping children reading (which is always a good thing) and the author gave all royalities to a charity she has set up.  Other than that, it was a complete let-down.  Aimed at children aged 7-11 (from what I gather) I found the style to be too childish for an 11 year old and too grown up for a 7 year old.  As for story content:  too much Grimm fairytale for my liking.  People dying, or being murdered, left right & centre.  Young children being orphaned and then dropping like flies in the over-populated orphanage.  The story extends over a period of 10 years (with main characters being only 5 years old at the start, and 15 years old towards the end).  It just went on and on until the last couple of chapters when the author suddenly seemed to remember she was writing a children’s book and needed to find a “happy” end.

Cléo, my 11 year old neighbour thought it was “quite good” and, when I had a chat with her after reading it myself, she didn’t seem terribly phased by all the deaths & murders that had shocked me.  However, she did also think it went on and on, and agreed it probably wasn’t suitable bed-time reading matter for a 7 year old!

 

On a brighter note . . . I’ve been making use of my tablet for bed-time reading.  I usually prefer to read paper versions of books, simply because I like the feel of a real book on my lap, but I went browsing in the google store.  There are hundreds of books to download for free (usually the “first” in a series) most of which seem to be the “cosy mystery” sort.  The first free download that tempted me was this one.

“The Confectioner’s Guild” by Claire Luana.

This is teen fiction, and there are 4 in the series:  “The Confectioner Chronicles”.  I thoroughly enjoyed this one and am seriously considering buying the other three in the series.  The heroine in “The Confectioner’s Guild” is a 16-year old girl called Wren.  I’d say the author is therefore targetting 14-16 year olds with this series, and even though I’m more than 4 decades outside of that age group, I found it to be a very enjoyable read.  Lots of intrigue, magic, action, suspense and, only one murder!  Very funny in places too.

If you want to know more: here’s the blurb from the back cover.

“Wren knew her sweet treats could work wonders, but she never knew they could work magic. She barely has time to wrap her head around the stunning revelation when the head of the prestigious Confectioner’s Guild falls down dead before her. Poisoned by her cupcake.

Now facing murder charges in a magical world she doesn’t understand, Wren must discover the true killer or face the headsman’s axe. With the help of a handsome inspector and several new friends, Wren just might manage to learn the ropes, master her new powers, and find out who framed her.  But when their search for clues leads to a deep-rooted conspiracy that goes all the way to the top, she realizes that the Guild Master isn’t the only one at risk of death by chocolate. 

If Wren can’t bring the powerful culprit to justice, she and her friends will meet a bittersweet end.” 

 

not once, but twice!

We had a bit of unexpected excitement out in the orchard last week.

The husband’s bees swarmed . . . TWICE!

The first time, the husband and bee-keeping friend, were too busy dealing with the swarm to take photos (and I was still fast asleep in bed!), so the above is of the second swarm.   Luckily, the husband had equipped himself, earlier in the year, with a second, smaller, hive (that he painted bright red) so on the morning of the first swarm our two amateur bee-keepers were able to knock the clump of buzzing business, and it dropped (more or less) into the open hive. A fair number of bees did land outside

but since the queen was safely in the box, it was only a matter of hours before the ones outside went inside.

Anyway . . . the husband was really pleased, because it meant the colony in his main hive was thriving, and the captured swarm meant he’d be able to have two hives up and running this year.  However, the following morning, the bees in the main hive swarmed a second time!

Same photo as above, just zooming in slightly.  We didn’t have a spare box or anything to capture this lot, so the husband phoned bee-keeping friend again.  Another gentle knock and this lot was plopped down into the friend’s portable hive.  They spotted a queen bee in there too.

Back at the main hive . . .

 

there was an awful lot of buzzing about and general agitation.  Our bee-keepers spotted yet another queen bee already in residence there, so, in theory, the husband will have two colonies in our orchard, and his friend will be able to adopt the second swarm.

“Life” a finish off

If you vaguely remember having seen a photo of this once upon a time

that means you’ve been following my blog for quite a number of years.  This is a cross stitch kit I stitched from February – July 2015.

A kit by Design Works”, artwork by Jo Moulton.  Not only did I love the colours but I loved (and still love) the sentiment:  ” Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away”.  Anyway, it was very enjoyable to stitch, but like most of my cross stitch projects, once finished, it was folded and put away in “the drawer”.  Where it remained forgotten about for almost 6 years.

However, after my recent bout of sensible sewing, and the making of cushion covers for kitchen chairs using a sage green fabric.

Plus, after the new sofa covers (not been clawed to pieces yet!) . . . I remembered my “Life” design and realised it would look rather nice  on the “new” sofa.  I had plenty of the fraying sage green fabric left so I made another simple back of a cushion (same as above).  Cut a few strips to add borders on the front.  Did some very sparse quilting on the front, just to hold the wadding behind in place, and voilà!

There are still numerous folded cross stitch pieces in the drawer, waiting patiently to be finished off properly, but for now, I’m just very happy to have this one finally on display!

 

best layer of the month # May

Weather is warming up.  Kiwi vine is in flower.  Days are getting long, and it’ll soon be time to move the hens to their summer quarters in the orchard. In the meantime, they’re still in their enclosure in the vegetable garden, and laying well.  For this month, of 31 days, I collected a total of 76 eggs.  24 – Ruby, 25 – Florence, and it was Mauricette who wins best layer of the month, with 27 eggs.

sensible sewing

I’ve been doing some “sensible sewing” for the past few weeks, by which I mean, not fun, but practical.  Sewing jobs that needed to be done.  First up it was mending.  Mending a few holes/rips in a couple of pairs of the husband’s trousers. Also hemmed a pair of jeans I bought myself last year and that were about an inch too long (despite me being tall with a 31″ inside leg).

After that, I decided that the cushions on our kitchen chair seats really needed some attention.

Way back, in 2015, I bought some square seat pads to protect the wicker seats of our chairs from cat claws.  They weren’t terribly pretty, but they did the job.  They had 2 ties on each, to be attached to chairs to stop them falling off but . . . with our cat, Ducky, who loves to chew things, half the ties had been shortened, not to say gone missing, and cushions were forever falling on the floor.  In June 2018 I made new covers.

Made from light-weight cotton, sewing ties on all 4 corners, and fastening under the seat.  It took Ducky a while to eat his way through these, and they did stay on a bit longer lol.  But I was fed up with them slipping about once a few ties were missing and therefore came up with a new solution.  Chairs now look like this (oops chair bars needs a clean!)

!

I removed the purple cotton ones (will be recycling fabric for patchwork) and made new covers in a sturdier fabric which I originally bought to make new sofa covers (but chickened out when faced with complex shapes of sofas and sheer volume of sewing required). Fabric is a lovely sage green and looks almost denim but it isn’t. In fact, I can’t remember what it’s made of but boy, it frays like rotten!

Anyway . . . cushion pads are 17″ so I cut top squares 18″, and the underside is made in two parts, with a velcro fastening.

In order to keep cushions securely on chair seats, with nothing dangling for Ducky to chew on, I added triangular flaps.  I made those by cutting 12″ squares, cutting into 4 triangles on the diagonal, and sewing those in pairs.  Having to overlock at each stage because of the fraying fabric.  I made 10 cushion covers, which meant 40 triangles.

So a big pile of triangles to overlock, then turned right sides out and top stitched.  Once all the prep work was done it was simply a question of sewing cushion covers together (and overlocking).   Front & back right sides together with 4 triangles inside. Seamed, overlocked, and turned right sides out. To end up with this.

And then attach velcro bands to the points of the triangles.

Looks a bit wierd, but once on the chair, it stays firmly in place, and underside of chair is nice & neat.  Nothing dangling!

On a side note, I also found an easy solution for our sofas (on @m@zon).  They were a dark slate grey but looking a right mess because of Le Bleu who had totally destroyed several areas with his claws.

This is the colour, with Ducky, the chewer at full stretch.  Anyway, thanks to on-line shopping, I bought a couple of pretty sofa covers.  They’re “made in China” (but then what isn’t these days?) and I don’t know how long they will withstand any claw attacks, but for the time-being, I’m admiring what could be mistaken for two new sofas.

Each cover came with a matching cushion cover but I’d only put one on for this photo.

“turf wars” – Olivier Norek

I’ve recently finished reading a really gritty trilogy by French author Olivier Norek.  Mr Norek was a police captain for 19 years, working in Seine-Saint-Denis (93), one of the suburbs north-east of Paris.  His writing pulls no punches.  It’s graphic, gritty and gripping.  From what I can make out, only two of the 3 have been translated into English, but if you have a strong stomach, I do advise you to keep your eyes open.

First in the trilogy is “CODE 93”

English translation is called “THE LOST AND THE DAMNED”.

Story outline:  An emasculated corpse opens its eyes on the mortuary slab.  A mobile phone starts ringing inside the corpse of a young drug addict, death caused by unexplained burns.  After 15 years service on the Seine-Saint-Denis police force, Victor Coste, police captain is prepared for the worst. Add to that, a series of anonymous letters leading to a mysterious case file “Code 93” of cases never investigated.

Second in the series is “TERRITOIRES”

English translation is called “TURF WARS”.

Storyline: There’s a new predator in town.  Three dealers are executed within the space of as many days.  Captain Coste and his team have to act fast because the new enemy takes over, contaminating the town like a virus. A town where everyone adapts to survive. Where dealers put pressure on old age pensioners, where young teenagers are there to do the dirty work, where the authorities don’t dare intervene in the high rise blocks for fear of rioting,  where politicians turn a blind eye.

Third, and final in the trilogy is “SURTENSIONS”

Sadly, I don’t think this one has been translated (yet).

Storyline:  Will this woman stop at nothing to help her brother escape from prison?  How far will this father go to protect his family from the four predators who are squatting in his home?  How do five criminels – a pedophile, a murderer, an ex legionnaire, a kidnapper and a robber – all become part of Coste’s latest investigation?  And why is Coste  prepared go in  headlong, even when it means putting those he cares about in danger?