best layer of the month # July

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Apart from Miss Moneypenny (on right in photo), the other hens seem to be taking something of a holiday at the moment.  Total numbers of egg was Miss Marple 9; Miranda 11 and Miss Moneypenny 17.  So 37 this month, which isn’t actually too bad.  We were able to enjoy a couple of omelettes, some hard-boiled eggs with salads, gave some to the neighbours and I also made some chocolate mousse. 

“such fun!”–happy dancing

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One of my favourite quotes (for all you Miranda fans) . . . and photos of “such fun!”, made with blocks from the F2F2 swap, organised by Kate

Those who follow my blog will remember this adventure began in June last year, when I joined a block swap, and spent 9 months, making and posting blocks to other ladies in their chosen colourways.  Until it was my turn, in February.  My colour inspiration was

Claire

And I think you’ll agree that the finished quilt as just as bright and colourful as these Rainbow Lorikeets.  A big thank you to Kate, the organiser.  But also to Lynn, Sandra, Sue, Susan, Moira, Gun, Esther who were the other official members of the swap.  And a thank you to Avis, who made and sent 3 blocks for my birthday, so I would have a total of 30 blocks for this patchwork.

It’s big.  It’s the biggest I’ve ever made.  Finishing up at 87” x 73” (that’s 220cm x 185cm).

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I added 1” orange sashing to each block before quilting and did the assembly using the QAYG (quilt as you go) method.  Using a splodgy/dotty print fabric on the back and repeating the orange bands.   Each block was quilted differently, by machine, and each block has the name of the maker embroidered on it, very discreetly, in orange thread.  That way, in the years to come, I’ll remember exactly who made what.

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So there you have it!  The swap was a wonderful learning experience, helped boost my confidence and really was “such fun!”.

my little helper

Just wanted to let you know that I’ll be having a happy dance in the next few days, depending on how much help I get from my little helper.

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Yep, that’s my F2F2 quilt you can see on my lap.  All quilted, assembled and with binding machine sewn on.  More than 300 inches of binding.  And I’m now on the last stage of hand-sewing the binding to the back.

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Don’t I look enthralled?  lol.  It’s not so much the (more than) 300 inches of hand sewing that’s the problem.  It’s my little helper.  Le Bleu seems to think this quilt is fine and finished, just as it is.  And not helping at all.  My husband’s reaction is “Just push him off!” but awwwww  he looks so peaceful.

Meanwhile . . . photo of another of our cats.

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Yup, Ducky, who still looks as if he lost a fight with a mini lawn mower.  Fur seems to be taking ages to grow back!  It’s been 3 weeks since the operation.

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Now that the scar has healed, it’s almost invisible, but you can still distinctly see the two darker marks of the nasty cat teeth that bit him.  All that will be a thing of the past, once fur grows.

it floats!

My followers will know that we are the proud parents to Gibbs, a gorgeous Flat-coated Retriever.

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Gibbs is only 10 months old at the moment, and still putting on muscle.  Like all pups, he’s full of beans, and needs lots of exercise and intellectual stimulus to keep him healthy and happy.  And, like most Retrievers, one of his favourite pass times, is to splash around in water.

Now . . . there’s a huge dog park, at the kennels where we bought him.  You have to pay to go there, so we’ve taken out a subscription which gives us entry to the park all day and every day.  Living in the countryside, it might seem wierd to have paid out, to exercise the dog, but the park is HUGE . . . has a couple of lakes, and an agility course.  It’s also a great place for Gibbs to meet other dogs and socialise in.  While we enjoy a good natter with other dog-owners.

Anyway . . . Gibbs loves for us to throw a stick into the lake, and jumps in to swim after it and fetch.   However,  one stick looks very much like another, and he sometimes gets confused, when surrounded by several floating bits of wood, as to what it is he’s supposed to be retrieving.  I went on-line, to see if there were any specific floating toys for water-dogs.  There are, but I was loathe to pay out and started wondering how I could make my own.  My friend, Avis, came up with a brilliant idea.  An empty plastic bottle!  Genius, why didn’t I think of that?

A quick rummage in the recycle bin where I fished out an empty bottle of dairy cream.  An hour with my crochet hook and some cheap acylic yarn, and voilà!

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I just crocheted a circle the same size as the base of my bottle then crocheted in the round until I had something that fitted half way up.  With the crocheted base part on the bottle, I started decreasing so it would fit the shape of the neck.  And rather than sew the top closed, I crocheted a couple of chains which I knotted together.  The idea being . . . if Gibbs manages to make a small hole in the plastic with his teeth, I can still open the casing, unscrew the bottle lid and empty any water that seeps in before the bottle become too filled with water to float.  The chained bits, are also very handy to hold the toy by, as you fling it.

So . . . of we headed to the park, to try out the new toy.

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Not only does it float, but it’s very easy to spot in the water, and Gibbs appears to love it.   We don’t even have to say “Fetch!”.  He knows exactly what we expect of him.  Those Retriever genes!    So, a floaty toy (total cost, approx 20 centimes and 1 hour of my time), which is now hanging up to drip dry before we go back to the park tomorrow.  You can bet, I’ll be saving more small plastic bottles and crocheting up a few more floatable toys, so that we have a replacement to hand should Gibbs ever lose (or destroy) this first one.

“a little bird told me” – ready for quilting

I had said I wouldn’t be showing you photos of the new baby quilt in progress until it was finished . . . but I’m going back on my word ecause these fabrics are just too much fun not to show off.

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The quilt top is done.  I had a rethink along the way, and have toned things down a little towards the end.  Originally I was going to add purple bands all around, but I’ve added ivory sashing instead.   Ivory  rather than bright white, because it turns out the bird background isn’t a bright white.  Purple will be used again though, for the binding.  Here, just laid on top to get an idea of what it will look like.

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And will, methinks, be just perfect.

I found inspiration for this fun quilt in the book

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“Quick and easy quilts for kids” by Connie Ewbank.  It’s packed full of 12 very easy designs, mostly with novelty prints and bright colours.  They’re all very simple, but it was a useful source to give me the ideas I needed and not have to work out fabric requirements by myself.

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This is the pattern I followed from the book.  As I said above, I was going to have purple borders and ivory binding . . . but when push came to shove, opted for ivory borders and purple binding.

This top is now going to be folded away and the job of quilting and binding will wait a few weeks.  Baby isn’t due yet, so no immediate rush to get this finished.    I need to give Juki a good clean, before the next sewing session, and I’ll be threading her up with orange thread so I can have a F2F2 happy dance by the end of July!  

“a little bird told me”– baby quilt in progress

Only the other day, I showed you some fabrics I had ordered, with a baby quilt in mind.  For a baby girl, soon to be born.   The seller was incredibly efficient and sent my parcel off the same day, so I didn’t have to wait long to receive all my yummy new fabrics. 

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The main fabric for this baby quilt is a bird print.  Other fabrics were ordered accordingly.  Anyway . . . as soon as my parcel arrived, I nipped into my sewing room and delved into my stash drawers (including scrap bags and 5” charm square box).  Being true to myself, I always have trouble cutting into gorgeous new fabric, and some of the long quarters I ordered just seemed too pretty to cut into lol.

I did cut into them though . . . but also found about 20 charm squares and a few scraps that mixed well with the colour palette of birds . . . so they are being incorporated into the quilt too. 

For once, I’m actually following a pattern.  As in, a real pattern, from a book!  I’ll tell you all about that when the quilt is finished (credit where credit is due and all that).  At the moment, I do have something to show you though.

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The beginnings!  Here, you can see the piecing so far.  I’ve cut 4 bands in the bird print, 6.5” wide by 54.5”.  And so far, have assembled one band of 2.5” squares (so 54 little squares in assorted fabrics). 

It’s going to be very quick to make, this one.  And such fun, to be playing with all these bright colours.  The only colour I haven’t tried to include in my squares is that of the little the orange/red bird because I wanted to add bright pinks. 

If I had any self-discipline, I would have spent the afternoon working on my F2F2 quilt, which is almost completely joined together, but not quite . . . but new fabrics were just too tempting not to dive in straight away! 

Ducky update, crochet WIPs and an upcoming patchwork

I am ever so pleased to say that Ducky’s ordeal is now over.  After going to the vets for an op, following a cat bite, and having to wear his bandage suit.  After being shut up in the guest room for endless days and nights . . . stitches are now out and Ducky is free to come and go as he pleases.

stitches out

Okay, he looks a bit strange still, with a huge, rectangular bald patch.  But fur will grow back eventually and this incident will soon be a thing of the past.

My only worry now is that our other 3 cats are all being very hissy towards him.  They don’t seem to recognise him anymore.  We were expecting Le Bleu to get antsy, because he always does.  However, even the usually docile Merlin and Abby have been hissing and trying to whack Ducky, whenever he gets too close.  In order to try and keep the majority happy, Ducky is therefore still having to sleep on his own in the guest room at night, just until the other cats get over their amnesia.

Apart from spending lots of time giving Ducky extra cuddles in the spare room . . . I have done a little bit of crafting recently.  Not as much as I would have liked, but even so, a few photos to share with you.

WIP monkey

I’ve made a start on “Johny the monkey” – a pattern in the first Zoomigurumi book.  This one is labelled as being for “experienced” crocheters, probably because of the shaping on the face part.  It wasn’t difficult though.  I just followed the excellent stitch by stitch instructions and it hooked up with no problem.  So far I’ve made the head, body, face bit and 2 ears.  Next to tackle the other parts.

I also started a second pattern, from the same book, because working in dark brown isn’t always easy.

WIP pony

This one, “Leila the pony”.  My pony is going to be mainly baby pink, and I’m thinking of using a dark grey for the hooves.  With (possibly) a purple mane and tail, but I haven’t decided yet.  So far, one body, waiting to be stuffed.

And more pics of some new fabrics I am eagerly awaiting . . .

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baby 02

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One of our neighbours is expecting a baby girl later this year . . . any excuse eh?  I’ll be making a baby sized quilt, with the bird print as my main fabric, and other pretty colours too.  Can’t wait for fabrics to arrive and to make a start!