SAL “together we are magic” #9

It’s time for the 3-weekly link-up with other SAL members.

AvisClaireGunConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunny,

MeganDeborahReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneAJCathieLindaHelen

who have all been busily stitching (I hope!) on their currents projects.  Mine is a kit by Letitstitch, and last time I had just begun on page 2 (of 4) of the chart.

Since then, I allowed myself to get distracted by other projects, so sadly, I didn’t get much done.

Still having to juggle with lots of different blues for the background, but I did also add some beige which is the beginnings of an ear.

We’ll be back in 3 weeks time, on 7th November.

ScrapHappy # october

It’s 15th of the month, the day to link up with other ScrapHappy people around the world and play around with our scraps.

Last month I didn’t have anything to show you except this photo
of leftover yarns and a pattern I’d found on the internet by Zhaya Designs.  The pattern is to make what Zhaya calls “smooching balls”.  I thought I’d give them a go.
Mine are still a work in progress.  I’ve made one little “fellow” but he needs to have his pink feet sewn on and then some kind of hair & facial featurees.  The second one is just a stuffed ball for the moment.  Also needs a face, legs and some kind of hair.

knitting & stash busting

After a couple of crochet projects to help with my yarn stash busting I picked out a knitting pattern (from my stash) that would be suitable for using some DK yarn I bought at least 6 years ago.

The yarn, bought before I really knew much about knitting, was sold in bags of 10 x 50g balls.  Label gives tension as DK equivalent, and the bags stated that 500g would be enough to knit something in a size 42 (EU sizing).  Therefore, at the time, I bought TWO bags lol.

I also had this pattern, bought a couple of years ago, but never knitted . . . of a very ordinary looking long cardigan/jacket in stocking stitch.  Pattern model made using a self-striping yarn. I  bought this pattern because it’s so simple, and is something I would wear in the colder months.  So, with colder months not far away, I finally got around to casting on

Pattern is Sirdar Hayfield #8159.  It’s all 2×2 ribbing and stocking stitch.  Nothing very exciting but, with the raglan sleeve style, after over 22″ of rib & straight stocking stitch, I finally got some practice with my decreasing over 60 rows.

So far, after many many hours of knitting, due to the fact I’m knitting this in a very large size, I have a back – yay!  And, after racking Avis’ brains, plus lots of watching of videos on youtube on how to decrease neatly, when the pattern just says “dec 1 stitch at each end on every row”  or “dec 1 stitch at each end of next and foll alt rows”, without specifying which decrease method to use . . . I opted to not just do the K2tog or P2tog at both ends, but to try the SSK and the SSP where appropriate to work on getting my stitches sloping inwards.

Not sure if I’ve done it properly, but it looks neat enough to me.  And big sigh of relief when that back part was done because it’s huge and was getting quite heavy on my needles.

monster crochet stash-busting

After making the bright pink crochet dragon, I had a tidy up in my “discount store” yarn drawer. Very happy to see that, whereas once upon a time it was overflowing and difficult to close, now there’s plenty of room in there.

I had lots of bright neon colours in there, just crying out to crocheted.   So, a quick flick through my pile of crochet books looking for a pattern to make something in another bright colour.

And this is what I made.

Pattern from the book “Amigurumi Monsters”.

Design by YOUnique crafts:  Toby the triclops.  My Toby turned out at 6″ tall (that’s the measurement to his middle eye).  I love his feet, with 4 toes each, and he has a thumb on each hand.  He was a nice, relaxing, easy project to make.

best layer of the month # september

After the events of last week, with “murder in a French orchard” we went out and bought 3 new laying hens to keep Ruby company.  Hens are back in the veggie garden coop, so they’re closer to the house and (we hope) safer.

Anyway, before I do the introductions . . . first, let me tot up the number of eggs this month.  Before their untimely deaths on 23rd Sept, Mauricette had laid 12 eggs  and Florence had laid 18.  Ruby, understandably, has been a bit off her laying since, what with seeing two hens killed before her eyes, and then having 3 new companions arrive.  She laid a total of 21 eggs this month.  Big surprise, only a few days after the new girls arrived – they started laying.  Only tiny eggs for now, but we’ve had a total of 13 small eggs in the last 7 days.    Which makes a total of 64 eggs for September.   I think in future, I’ll stop the “best layer” posts, and simply do a monthly round-up of hen life.  I haven’t been able to identify who is laying what, so from October, I’ll just do a monthly hen & egg-count update.

In the meantime, let me introduce you to the new hens!

Here they are, on day 3, when they finally felt brave enough to come down the ramp and start exploring.

This is Doris – a red hen.  She doesn’t appear to have the same dark brown tail feathers as Ruby, and she’s a darker red, so I shouldn’t have any trouble telling the two apart when Ruby’s feathers all grow back.

Agatha is a black & tan.  She seems the less adventurous of the three.   She’s also quite happy to be picked up for a stroke.

And finally,

Rita who is a French blue.  She’s a much lighter silver grey than Mauricette (who was also a French blue) but, like Mauricette, she is a very large bird.

We had some fun & games in the first days. Despite clipping flight feathers on left wing, on the 3 new gals, they were managing to helicopter out of the enclosure.  But after adding some extra netting higher up, we seem to have solved our Houdini problem.  There is also a certain amount of confusion at bed-time with Rita heading up the ramp, closely followed by Doris, then Agatha . . . only for Rita to turn around at the top and want to come back down. This causes a hen-jam on the ramp before Rita does another 180° turn and goes to bed properly.  It’s early days yet though.  On the whole, they seem to have settled in very well.

SAL “together we are magic” #8

It’s the 3-weekly meet-up with other SAL members, organised by Avis, to show photos of the projects we’re stitching.  We’re an international group, all working on different projects, with the SAL being our way of motivating each other.

Full list of members.

AvisClaireGunConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunny,

MeganDeborahReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneAJCathieLindaHelen

Last time I had managed to complete page 1 (of 4) of the chart of my project: “Together we are magic”, a kit by Letitstitch.

For this time, I began work on page 2.

Next update on 17th October.

murder in a French orchard

A very unwelcome bit of excitement in our part of the French countryside yesterday . . .

I’ll spare the gore but, heading to the orchard yesterday at noon, to collect eggs and have a chat with the hens, I was very surprised not to see all three out pecking & scratching in their enclosure in the shade of the apple trees.    Everything was eerily quiet . . . and the only hen visible was Ruby, looking scrawny & hen-pecked as usual, but also acting worried and wary.  At first, I thought the other two were in the nesting box, but no.  Coop & nesting box were empty.  It was only then that I noticed , in one corner of the enclosure . . .  a pile of feathers and a corpse:  Mauricette.  No visible signs of injury, just dead, on her side. On further inspections, in another corner of the enclosure, I found a different pile of feathers

but no corpse.  That would have been Florence (missing, presumed dead).

We took Gibbs out in the orchard, where he sniffed and followed a scent trail which stopped at the boundaries of the orchard and a neighbour’s garden.  We even had Moka, a neighbour’s labrador) out in the orchard, who sniffed and followed the exact same scent trail as Gibbs.  There were more Florence feathers the other side of the fence . . . so with our Sherlock Holmes cap on (plus the husband googling fox hunting habits) we deduce that deaths were caused by a fox even though it occured in broad daylight.

We’d been lucky up until now.  We’ve lived here for 7 years, and kept hens for 6 years.  This is the first time hens have fallen prey to a predator.  Anyway . . . Ruby, as I say, was completely shell-shocked yesterday, poor thing.  Yesterday evening, we moved her back to the hen coop in the veggie garden.  And I got on the phone to our usual hen breeder.

This morning we went and collected 3 new laying hens:  a black & tan, a red hen, and a French blue.  I’ll show you photos as soon as they’re settled in and brave enough to leave the coop.  In the meantime, Ruby is even more worried, because of the 3 strange birds in the coop.

Saying that, it didn’t stop her laying an egg in the nesting box earlier today!  I hope she gets on well with the new hens and that her plumage eventually grows back to its former glory.

Dazzle the dragon

I’m having a very bright crochet happy dance here – yay!  The other day I showed you this photo of a new crochet project in progress.

A pink head, and beginnings of body parts which could have been just about anything in the making.  Well, now I can tell you it’s a dragon.

who started to look more like a dragon as soon as I added snout, nostrils, eyelids and a belly plate.  This was a pattern of many pieces . . .

The wings were a lot of work, making 12 membrane panels, assembling them into groups of three, and then sewing 2 pieces back to back to make a lovely pair of very sturdy dragon wings.

 

I’ve named this little dragon Dazzle, because it’s a little girl dragon and she’s very bright.  She finished up 7″ high, because I didn’t use the same yarn as suggested in pattern. The pattern is by Janine Holmes, also known as Moji Moji Design.

Her dragon is a boy dragon called Drake, in green & yellow.  This pattern is one of the 14 patterns in the book “Unicorns, dragons and more fantasy amigurumi” published by Meteoor Books, but you can also buy the pattern in pdf format.  You’ll find links to Janine’s Ravelry & etsy shops on her blog Moji Moji.

This pattern is skill level **** (expert).  I would say this is because of the number of very small pieces that need to be made & sewn together.  The wings and spikes required a fair amount of patience.  And pieces like nostrils, eyelids & ears need to be sewn on taking care to follow pattern instructions with plenty of pinning to keep things symmetrical.

When I first began making this dragon, I was imagining an entire family in different colours, but I have to say, now Dazzle is finished, I don’t think I have the patience to go through it all again.

 

 

two very good reads in September

Two very good books I want to share with you today.

“the truth about melody browne” – Lisa Jewell.

(text from back cover)

When she was nine years old, Melody Browne’s house burned down, taking every toy, every photograph, every item of clothing and old Christmas card with it.  But not only did the fire destroy all her possessions, it took all her memories too – Melody can remember nothing before her ninth birthday.

Now in her early thirties, Melody lives in a small flat in the middle of London with her seventeen-year-old son.  She’s made a good life for them both and she likes it that way.

Until one night, something extraordinary happens.  Whilst attending a hypnotist show with her first date in years, she faints – and when she comes round she starts to remember.  At first her memories mean nothing to her but then slowly, day by day, she begins to piece together the real story of her childhood.  But with every mystery she solves, another one materialises, with every question she answers another appears.  And Melody begins to wonder if she’ll ever know the truth about her past . . . 

This is only the second novel by Lisa Jewell I’ve read (the first one being “the house we grew up in” which I thoroughly enjoyed).  And after devouring “The truth about Melody Browne” I think it’s safe to say, I’m a Lise Jewell fan!  So well-written!   The chapters flit between Melody’s current life and her early childhood, so the reader actually learns more about Melody’s past as the novel progress than she does.  However Ms Jewell knows how to keep up the suspense and while we do learn about Melody’s early years we still have to keep on reading until the adult Melody can finally piece everything together.

It was a real page-turner.  I wanted to give little Melody a big cuddle, many a time and tell her that everything would be all right.  This is definitely a novel I’ll be keeping on my bookshelves and reading again.  Even though I now know the truth, I’ll want to re-read simply because it was a lovely tale.  A 5 star book for me.

The second very good read I enjoyed this month was something completely different.

“The Undead Mr Tenpenny” by Tammie Painter.  It’s number one in the Cassie Black trilogy.

(text from back cover)

Cassie Black works at a funeral home.  She’s used to all manner of dead bodies.  What she’s not used to is them waking up.  Which they seem to be doing on a disturbingly regular basis lately.

Just when Cassie believes she has the problem under control, the recently-deceased Busby Tenpenny insists he’s been murdered and claims Cassie might be responsible thanks to a wicked brand of magic she’s been exposed to.  The only way for Cassie to get her life back to normal is to tame her magic and uncover Mr Tenpenny’s true killer.

Simple right?  Of course not.  Because while Cassie works on getting her newly-acquired magic sorted, she’s blowing up kitchens, angering an entire magical community, and discovering her past is more closely tied to Busby Tenpenny than she could have ever imagined.

 

What can I say say?  I loved this book!  I’ve read it twice already  and laughed just as much the second time as I did the first.  I’m giving it 5 stars and I’ll be buying the next two in the trilogy.   I prefer “real” paper version books so I bought my copy on @m@zon (in stock even on French @m@zon). It’s also available on kindle and in the googlestore.   Be warned, if you read this one, chances are, you’ll want to read the rest of the trilogy.

You’ll need to have some knowledge of the world of Harry Potter in order to get some of the jokes, but since I know my HP inside out, nothing slipped past me.  Cassie, despite being an introvert and socially inept, is such a likeable character, with a quick wit and quick reflexes.  Ms Painter had me page turning late into the night, and left me with a big grin on my face, especially with the very last paragraph! (no sneak peeking if you decide to buy it!)  I can’t wait to read the next two:  “The Uncanny Raven Winston” and “The Untangled Cassie Black”.

Tammie Painter runs a blog, where you can find out more about her writings, and even enjoy some of her short stories for free.