best layer of the month #March

I haven’t bothered taking any recent photos of the gals these past few weeks, but they’re all well, and strutting around, enjoying the milder weather.

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I have been counting eggs as usual though, as I collect them on a daily basis, and this month there have been quite a few days when I’ve found four eggs, all snuggled up together in the straw. 

Miss Plumpton, however, is our best layer of March.  She only took a rest for 2 days this month, and laid a total of 29 eggs.  Her shells are very pale, compared to the other gals, so very easy to recognise.  Other gals all laid very well too, including the older hens. 

22 laid by Mauricette, 19 by Miranda, and 18 by Miss Moneypenny, so a grand total of 88 eggs in March.  And, yes, neighbours have been enjoying fresh eggs aplenty this month.

the chicken or the egg?

This is the title of an exchange which was proposed on a French cross stitch forum, where I’ve been a member for quite a few years now.  “The chicken or the egg?”.

Even though I don’t celebrate Easter, I quickly signed up because you know me:  crazy hen lady, with my lovely laying hens who keep me amused what with scooping up poop, collecting eggs and chatting to the gals every day.   I couldn’t not join in this exchange, now could I?

The “rules” were simple: to send a hand-made gift, with a chicken or egg theme, and to add some choccies to the parcel.  Originally, I was going to cross stitch a design, and make a little egg cosy.  But then I got to wondering: do people really use egg cosies these days?  I mean they’re pretty, and decorative, but they’re not really something we use.  At least, I don’t.  I usually soft boil my eggs and eat them while they’re still piping hot.

So . . . a change of plan . . . and a rummage through my crafting stash followed, during which I unearthed the following.

easter bag

Perfect!  A “chicken and egg” fabric . . . but not very big.  Little brain then started thinking “patchwork”.  As any patchworker knows, the ideal solution for making a small piece of fabric go further is to chop it up and sew it back together again.  But still, I couldn’t think of something useful to make.  And for some reason my brain was set on “useful” not “decorative”.

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First things first, I decided to slice up my fabric, and make bands (sacrificing the wording “Springtime”) and doing my best to pattern match.  Not perfect – it worked on a blue chicken but the egg was off somewhat.  And then I knew what to make!

easter bag with pouch

A cotton tote bag, and matching cotton pouch.  I’ve made several of these bags now, so I can literally do it without having to think too much.  On this one I overlocked the seams of the band, and top-stitched so make sure it doesn’t fall to pieces.  For the bag assembly, I used French seams, including when boxing off the bottom corners.    This gift was sent to Michèle, who will be moving (permanently) to live in Spain.  When I think of Spain, I think of outdoor fresh fruit & veggie markets and I hope this bag will come in very useful when Michèle is out doing her shopping.  I also thought it appropriate that colours are blue, white and red: the same as the French “tricolore” flag.

easter exchange

So there you have it.  One practical tote bag neatly folded away in its matching pouch, a little crocheted amigurumi chick (just for fun) some choccies, and a card.

a bit of this and a bit of that

A non-crafting post today, to chat about a bit of this and a bit of that . . . punctuated with a few black & white pics.  But first, some colour.

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Spring has sprung – yay!  With little clumps of primroses growing in lots of nooks and crannies.

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Daffodils which are my favourite flower, also popping up in places we’d forgotten they grew.

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Gibbs, striking a lovely pose for me just seconds before he got distracted by . . .

Gibbs and Moka

his best buddy, Moka, who is a chocolate lab, just 6 weeks older than Gibbs.  Moka (still not wearing his brand new collar, Lynn) has come round to the back gate to ask if Gibbs is allowed out to play.  Their favourite games being: to charge around in the orchard doing some dog-wrestling or to go splashing in the stream.

Other pics . . .

tooth

I was quite upset the other day to find this on the floor in our bedroom.  A cat tooth (that dark bit is the root) . . . and on inspecting Merlin’s mouth (Merlin being our oldest cat) discovered that Merlin is now completely toothless.  Even as a young cat he had bad teeth, and had to have a couple pulled when he was about 6 years old.  He’s now 12, and officially toothless . . . which explains why he’s been such a messy eater of late!  Now I realise he’s all gums and no teeth, I’ve bought some special wetfood in for him, completely smooth, no chunks of meat and he is tucking in with gusto.

Now for the black & white pics, and two snippets of news: one good and one not so good.

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The not-so-good first . . . my feet.  Long story short:  According to the orthopedic surgeon I’ve got abnormal feet, with the metatarse being too long which, with age, is causing foot pain, one hammer toe and others heading in the same direction.  So, before things get worse, I’m booked in for surgery on my right foot on 13th April.   Right foot first, and probably back again next year to get the left foot sorted.

I’ll be in and out of  hospital on the same day, but I’m then in for 3 days of complete bed-rest, drugged up to the eyeballs with painkillers and with a week of blood thinner injections to prevent embolism.  Then 3 weeks where I’ll be allowed to put weight on my foot (wearing a special support shoe) but will need to keep foot up as often as possible and stay indoors.  Then 3 months where (still wearing the support shoe) I should be able to walk short distances.

By late summer, early autumn I should be good to hop on a plane and visit family in England because . . .

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N and Second Son are expecting their first baby in August.  And we’re all wondering whether the baby will inherit its Dad’s lovely head of hair.

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Which would be fun, but unlikely.  Anyway . . . I’ve decided that once baby is here, I’ll need to think up a blog name and seeing father’s hair . . . have decided that from now on I’ll be referring to Second Son as Daddy Viking, N will be Mummy Viking and (how original) baby will be referred to as Little Viking.

So that’s all for today . . . my crochet hook is waiting for me.  Photos very soon of what I’ve been up to there.

“Getting Ready” #9 – SAL

I really stitched up a storm this time, on “Getting Ready” a design based on the original artwork of Ronald West.   Last time I was here

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This time, I’m here

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And just for fun . . . I was browsing some of Ronald West’s artwork which is very colourful and fun . . . and this cross stitch kit: “Getting Ready” is actually only half of one of his paintings.

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Anyway, don’t forgot to do some blog-hopping if you have some free time on your hands today.  Other SAL members live world-wide, and have been up to a variety of different projects.

Avis, Gun, Carole, LucyAnn, Kate, Jess, Sue, Constanze, Debbierose, Christina,

Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Helen, Steph, Linda, Mary Margaret,

Heidi, Connie, Jackie, Sunny, Hayley, Tony

(And apologies to Sunny, I can’t comment on your blog because I don’t have a gmail account, but wanted to say your needlepoint is fabulous!).

Next update on 15th April.

happy un-birthdays in March

March is traditionally the time we think of Easter, with bunny rabbits . . . Mad Hatters and March Hares . . . so time to send off a few un-birthday gifts.  This time to two French forum friends.  Sadly, I didn’t have any time, or imagination, to make any original gifts this month –I’ve been a bit busy working on an exchange gift and a birthday present – which I will reveal in due course.  But luckily, I always have a few little bits “made earlier” . . . so this is what I sent.

march Corinne

To Corinne – a little coaster with a cross stitched teapot (a free by Lindashee), a fun chicken card and some DMC threads.

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And to Selenh, another fun chicken card, different shades of DMC threads and a lavender bag (which I had stored in a zip-lock freezer bag so it still smells as fresh as the day it was made).

retail therapy

I’ve been doing a bit of retail therapy lately . . . and not feeling in the slightest bit guilty!  I read recently on Nanacathy’s blog that knitting is apparently excellent for our health and well-being.  If we follow that thought through to its logical conclusion:  retail therapy for crafting supplies must be good for us too! In moderation, of course!

I started off with some necessary shopping for sewing and patchwork . . . Not more fabric, as one could expect (that would have been naughty!).  However, my iron had seen better days, and was leaving dirty marks everywhere so I decided I needed to invest in a new one.  While on a mission to buy a new iron, I found a pretty pink full-sized iron (in Lidl for only 6€).

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And then  (on amazon) a mini travel iron and a mini ironing board.  This ironing board is called a “Jeannette” in French.  It’s tiny and its original use is to iron shirt sleeves or other small sewing projects.  The travel iron (purple, of course!) is very dinky and perfect for ironing small patchwork pieces or for future reborn sewing projects.

I call these buys an essential investment because it’s impossible to sew decent seams & patchwork blocks if you can’t iron your fabric properly!

After taking care of my sewing/patchwork needs . . . I then went browsing on The Wool Warehouse, in search of a few packets of safety eyes.  And while adding those to my cart, decided it seemed only sensible to add a few balls of yarn (okay 10) to my cart, since p&p would be the same regardless.

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I love how supplies arrive from The Wool Warehouse.  Always packaged and sent in a very practical draw-string bag.  I first started shopping here, because of the very reasonable postage costs to France, and since they also stock fabric for patchwork and safety eyes/noses for amigurumis, they have become one of my favourite on-line shops.

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These are the ten balls of Stylecraft Special DK I have added to my stash.  Stash I am slowly building up in order to have a wider choice of colours for future amigurumi projects.  I added some neutrals to this order, as well as some nice bright colours.  I now have 20 colours to choose from in my Stylecraft Special DK stash.

stylecreft dk stash

Only 60 more colours to buy, to complete the set of colours lol.  By my calculations, if I order in 10 new colours every month, I’ll have them all by the end of September! 

ScrapHappy # March

I have decided to join in the ScrapHappy fun – a monthly “event” organised by Kate in Australia and Gun in Sweden.  The idea is simple and very economical . . . all you have to do is post on 15th of each month about something made during the month with scraps!  Can be fabric, yarn . . . anything so long as we’re working to keep that scrap pile under control.

Since I have more fabric scraps than anything else, I was inspired by a free pattern by Lauri to make a soft toy fish.  She published this delightful pattern on her blog way back in 2012, but I only stumbled across it the other week.

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The printed picture in the background is from Lauri’s block, with the step-by-step instructions.  I opened my “orange” scrap bag and also my “very small pieces” scrap box (perfect for scales).  Some of my regular readers may recognise a few of these scraps, leftovers from so many fun patchwork & sewing projects.

Lauri’s pattern has scales only on one side of the fishy, and she says to lightly stuff them.  I did things slightly differently.  Didn’t stuff scales, and I didn’t like the idea of a plain side, so . . .

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Whichever direction my fishy swims in, she has 5 very colourful scales on each side to warn off predators.

I also made a couple of 12″ blocks, using leftover fabrics from the sewing session with Cléo in Fébruary.

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The second one isn’t strictly a scrap block as I had to use some solid white from my stash rather than scrap box, but it’s a twin to the first one, which is why I’m posting it here.

Here are the links to other people participating in ScrapHappy.  Not everyone posts everytime, but it’s lovely see what wonderful things can be made from scraps.

Kate, Gun, Titti, Heléne, Eva, Sue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan, Karen,
Moira, Sandra, Linda, Chris Nancy and Alys.

giving and receiving

I have yet to decide whether it’s more fun to give or to receive.  I do love to be on the giving end, especially when it involves some secret crafting or shopping.  The waiting for the person to receive the parcel and wondering if gifts will be appreciated.  But then it’s also such fun when an unexpected parcel arrives, and to be on the receiving end.  Photos today because I have been a giver and a receiver . . .

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Here is what I sent to my daughter, Lindashee, who turned 24 yesterday.  A Michael Powell book with 20 charts for xmas decorations/cards; 15 different colours of A4 sized felt (for future crafting projects); a pink “lipstick” needle holder and . . . a “bag bag”.

megan bag

I’m getting rather good at making these now, even if I do say so myself.   I made this one in a turquoise “umbrella” nylon fabric, so it’s completely water-proof.

On the receiving end . . . an unexpected surprise from Avis who decided I needed cheering up (after having had to listen to me whinging via email about various things I won’t go into here). 

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Some chocolate – we all know about the positive effects of chocolate.   A tin of Spam because Avis knows that’s something I can’t find in France, and I love the stuff!  And the most gorgeous zipper pouch, made with fabric that came all the way from China.  When I say, all the way from China, I mean that Avis’ daughter was visiting China and bought the fabric for her Mum.  Fabric which Avis then made into a zippy pouch, using her gorgeous hand-cranked Singer 99k (you can read more about that on her blog).

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There was also a matching bookmark hidden inside.

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This zippy bag is going to come in handy for crochet amigurumi projects.  I am currently making a monster, and have lots of loose body parts including three eyeballs, and lots of tiny fingers & toes . . . sorry, I’ll rephrase that . . . my MONSTER has loose body parts, including three eyeballs etc.   A bright zippy bag is the perfect place to keep that lot safe until I get around to the job of assembling body parts.

meet Manfred (amigurumi happy dancing)

Last month I showed you the beginnings of another amigurumi

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‘Manfred the Mouse”, a pattern by Pii_ Chii and published in

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Well, I’m am very pleased to be able to introduce you to my finished Manfred. 

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He was lots of fun to hook, and I am really pleased with how the bright neon green of his dungarees contrasts with the denim blue of his other bits. 

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He’s got a cute pink tail (husband reckons it could have done with being longer, but I followed the pattern).

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Manfred can even give us a little wave  because I put a short length of pipe cleaner into each arm (although that wasn’t suggested in the pattern).

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I finished his little dungarees off, with two “sheep” buttons.   I realise they’re not really to scale, but they’ve been in my button stash for years and I think they liven up Manfred’s outfit. 

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It was a very interesting pattern to follow.  Marked as “easy” in the book, which is fair enough, but in my opinion would be too tricky for an absolute beginner.  I really loved how the dungaree effect was obtained.  Basically using green for most of the body, and then crocheting small bands for the straps, as well as extra bits which made little “cuffs” to slip over the legs before attaching.  All very cleverly thought out by¨Pii_ Chii.   I also love Manfred’s nose . . . which was fiddly to manage but well worth the effort.  

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I’ve already begun work on my next crochet critter . . . won’t tell you what I’m making next except that I’ve begun hooking in shocking pink lol. 

not one parcel, but two!

I was expecting a little parcel in the post recently . . . some supplies I’d ordered with a new sewing project in mind . . . so when postie knocked on the door, I was rather surprised to be handed not one, but two parcels.  One was my order (more on that further down) but one had come all the way from New Zealand!  A surprise parcel from Susan, containing lots of lovely goodies!

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Susan sent me: a copy of New Zealand Quilter magazine – their last issue, so that’s a very special one!  A very cute little xstitch kit, complete with scissors, to make an adorable scissor fob, some lovely lavender bags (I do love those hearts – so bright and cheerful) and a very cute little embroidered pig keyring: 

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So a very warm thank you to Susan!

Gibbs was very excited at parcel opening time . . . he was sniffing at those lavender bags, hoping one was for him.  Nope!   And when I opened the parcel of supplies I had ordered . . . he was hopeful there was something in there for him.

teething bits

Again, nope!  Sorry Gibbs.  These are for toys, and most of the items are even for chewing on . . . but not for dogs!  Yay, I ordered in a selection of silicon teething shapes plus some squeakers AND four little things that make a sort of rattle sound.  You’ve guessed . . . I’m planning on making some baby toys.  I fancy having a go at making some with different textures, in bright colours, adding squeakers, rattles or even crinkly paper so that they make lots of fun noises too.  Stay tuned!

And a last photo . . . to show a very quick & easy sewing project.

easy trousers

These, made following a free pattern by Made by Rae.  They are newborn size and are my first sewing project for my reborn dolls.  Fabric is a light-weight cotton, left over from a skirt I made myself in 2016.  I did also make a matching kimono top (a free by someone else) but it didn’t turn out quite as planned, so I’ll be trying that again and will show you when I have success.