best layer of the month #May

egg photo 01

We have had a really hot month of May, with temperatures shooting above 30°C and breaking records for hottest temperatures (for the time of year) over the last 70 years!  My hens don’t like the really hot weather.  It either puts them off their laying or it makes them go all broody . . . and as a result, the egg-count is down this Month.  A total of only 45.

Miranda 9;  Miss Marple 16 and Miss Moneypenny, the winner yet again, with 20.

On a brighter note, the hot weather has meant lots of fruit ripening.  We’ve been stuffing our faces with home-grown strawberries, and also with cherries, from our orchard.

cherries

Last year weather was really wet and we didn’t see a proper cherry harvest, so this year, we’re making the most of it.  I’ve already got some stashed away in the freezer, so I can make some delicious fruit crumbles this winter . . . we’’re going to eat the rest fresh as they come.

amigurumi – Roary the tiger

A while back, I showed you a crochet project in progress

tiger WIP

And am now very proud to show you the finish . . .

amigurumi roary 08

There he is . . . very well camouflaged, and hiding in the wild poppies . . .

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amigurumi roary 06

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amigurumi roary 02

amigurumi roary 03

I used Stylecraft Special DK yarn, and a 3.5mm hook.  On hindsight, I could have used a 3mm hook for a tighter weave, but I am rather pleased with my little tiger.  He sits up nicely, all by himself, just like he’s supposed to, with the rear legs & tail to make sure he doesn’t topple over.  While making him, his head seemed HUGE, which it is, but . . . that’s all part of his charm.  He measures 15cm high, in this sitting position.

Anyway, in case you’re interested, this pattern is by A Morning Cup of Jo and is one of the 15 designs in the book “Zoomigurumi” (the first in the series).

Zoomi 01

unbirthdays in May

Two packages were posted this month, to far away.  Each containing something handmade, and something else.

un birthday Kathy

Now, this “K” could have been for quite a few of my blogging friends . . . who was it for?  For Kathy of Sewing etc in the United States.  I finished the monochrome K off as a fabric tray, all in blue because I think that’s one of Kathy’s favourite colours.  I also sent her an old copy of “Création Point de Croix”, thinking she might like to see the kind of designs French stitchers like to sew.

Second package was for Kate of by the babbling brooke in Canada.

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To Kate, I sent one of my monster felt zippy pouches – he could be used as a thread catcher, perhaps?  And a semi- kit (no fabric) with some farm embroidery designs and 4 skeins of DMC.

So happy unbirthday to both Kathy and Kate.  Who will be celebrating their unbirthday in June, I wonder?

F2F2 blocks – quilting has begun!

Some rather exciting news to share with you . . . orange sashing has been added to all 30 blocks, and now quilting has actually begun!  Yay!  I’m rather amazed myself, at how motivated I am to get these blocks all assembled and made into a huge quilt.

But motivated I am!  Also somewhat scared . . . because the quilting stage is where things can go wrong.  I’m more of a piecer, where patchwork goes.  Not a very proficient quilter, and this project is even more scarey because I’m quilting so many gorgeous blocks made by other ladies.

quilting 6 down

For the moment, I have done six of the thirty.  Here they are (three from Lynn and three from Kate).  They’ve each got a little label pinned on to remind me of where they belong in my layout.  I’m quilting in orange thread and keeping things very simple.  A fair amount of echo quilting going on.  Some in the ditch.  And a very relaxed “let’s see what happens here” design.

quilting 6 down 01

Don’t know if you can see, but I’ve got a sort of “maze/labyrinth” thing going on on a couple, which seems to be working quite well.  Basically, each block will be quilted differently, depending on what the block pattern inspires, and within my limitations. 

In case you’re wondering – I cut wadding & backing fabric slightly bigger, and only trimmed once I’d quilted each block.  I’m using the QAYG method, so the plan is to quilt all 30, make sure they all measure the same, and then assemble with thin strips. 

stitching & knitting

Just so you don’t think I’ve gone off on a tangent with my knitting . . . here’s progress on “Victorian Charm” by Dimensions.  This photo was last month

Victorian charm 02

And this month

Victorian charm 12 05

A third window is almost finished, and I’ve been stitching the pointy roof on this part of the house.  It’s slow going, but I’m trying to stitch on it little and often.

Of course, the new knitting project is also keeping me amused.  I showed it to you only the other day

knitting 01

Well, I’ve just finished the first 50g ball of the main colour, and things look like this

knitting 02

This photo is a better one of the colours.  Main colour, a dark teal, with light aqua stripes.  This is the back of my sweater (or will be).  Three stripes so far, a total of seven to do.

Over the next few days, I need to get back to some sewing . . . that orange sashing on F2F2 blocks isn’t going to sew itself on  without a bit of help from me!  And then there’s the amigurumi tiger, still waiting for legs and a tail . . . it’s all go!  So many projects to work on, and not enough days in the week lol.

Abby & Ducky – 2 years

Oops, I missed birthday celebrations for our two youngest cats: the sister & brother act, Abby and Ducky.  They turned two a few days ago. 

Ducky was in the wars on the day.

ducky swollen

Can you see?  Swollen face on the right side.  That was the only visible symptom.  We figured he’s either been stung by an insect, or had an abces.  Quick vet’s visit the next day, even though the swelling had gone down – it was an insect sting.  Probably bee or wasp.  Anyway, he’s right as rain now.

And here’s Abby

abby may 01

In one of her favourite spots on a little wall. 

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abby may 03

And a couple more photos of pretty colours . . .

violets

These little flowers growing in abundance, mixing in with the ivy . . . and in our neighbour’s garden

wild poppies

Which I suddenly realised were, what is known as “Wild Poppy”, therefore the colour inspiration for one of my current stitching projects!  Stitching with the colour “Wild Poppies” by Threadworx – what a coincidence!

CdesT stage 4 03

like riding a bike

I have discovered, that crafting is like riding a bike!  Once you learn, even if you don’t do it for years, you never forget.  The brain seems to remember what it needs to do.

As a child, I learned the basics of knitting.  My Mum and gran were both expert & prolific knitters, so at some point, it seemed logical they would try and pass on their knowledge.  I just wish now, that I’d been a more willing pupil because all I picked up were the basics: how to cast on, knit, purl, and how to cast off.  I never learned how to follow a pattern, and all I’ve ever knitted in the past has been scarves.

Saying that . . . after having taught myself to crochet, from scratch, these past few months, and gaining in confidence with my hook, I’ve been wanting to pick up some knitting.  Husband is partly at fault here.  Seeing me crochet on my little amigurumi projects, and churn out a few beanies, he unwittingly told me that: “If you make me a sweater, I’ll wear it with pride!”.  Hmmm !!!! 

I wasn’t thinking about knitting at this point.  My brain was locked into crochet mode, so I started browsing the net for free crochet patterns for men’s sweaters.  I only found one.  The rest were knitting patterns.  And the more I looked, the more lovely free knitting patterns I found.

What to do?  Pick up the knitting needles and see if the brain remembers how to knit & purl, I say! 

Husband is going to have to wait a while for his sweater, I’m afraid, because I don’t have enough of any yarn in my stash to make a men’s sweater.  I didn’t even have any long needles to make any kind of sweater, since mine were all 25cm needles (which are fine for scarves, but not much else).  A trip to the shops remedied that.  Several sizes of 40cm needles have been added to my stash.  And I’ve begun work on my first ever sweater . . . for me.

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This is the beginning.  I’m following an easy pattern from Red Heart.   Using a cheap acrylic yarn (I did my gauge swatch).  The main colour is actually a lot more teal than it appears in the photo.  Pattern is easy.  Ribbing, then 16 rows of stocking stitch with 2 rows of knit thrown in for the contrasting stripe. 

Husband is looking on with interest.  If I manage to make something wearable, then I’ll be ordering in yarn for husband’s sweater.