best layer of the month # April

eggs

81 fresh eggs this month in the coop!  Oh yes, indeed!  With Miss Plumpton being the best layer yet again.  She laid a total of 25 eggs, followed by Mauricette and Miss Moneypenny in joint second place with 21 each, and Miranda laying only 14.

Egg count is likely to go down in May . . . weather has been unseasonably warm and Miss Moneypenny is broody.

And in case you’re wondering if they’ve started laying funny eggs this month . . . no, that was just me, messing around with my crochet hook lol.

“row of cats”

I was looking back over recent posts on my blog the other day, also updating my galleries with photos of finished projects, and realised I’ve been very productive with crocheting of late, but hadn’t been doing much cross stitch.  So . . . I picked up my WIP: “Row of Cats” by Bothy Threads which looked like this in February

Bothy

and got busy.

bothy cats april

Two new cats, and backstitch . . . which means only 5 more cats to stitch. 

One of the reasons I’ve been less than enthusiastic in working on this project is the horrible backstitch detail.  Horrible is the only word which describes it.  The kit came with 16 count aida which really is NOT the fabric adapted to the backstitch involved where lines don’t follow holes, but need to come up as quarter stitches in most places.  On  24 count evenweave it would have been a doddle, but on 16 count aida, even using a sharp pointed needle, adding backstitch detail is extremely laborious and messy.  Another criticism:  the kit comes with several colours in Lana threads, which is like a very fine wool.  The idea being to brush some of the cats after stitching, to make them fluffy.  Again, the choice of supplying 16 count aida in the kit is a bad one.  Instructions say to stitch with 2 strands of Lana . . . but it’s impossible to stitch neatly with 2 strands of this wooly thread on 16 count.  I tried, gave up, and have substituted normal cotton thread. 

A side note to Avis, who gifted me this kit and who will be reading this: don’t take my criticism to heart!  It’s not your fault!  The design itself is totally my cup of tea, and it’s going to look fabulous when I’ve finished!  I am mentioning the negative aspects of the kit here in case there is anyone out there who is about to start this design.  If yes:  I suggest you put the 16 count aida to one side, and prepare a piece of 24 count evenweave or linen.  I will also, be contacting Bothy Threads when I’ve finished, to leave feedback since they supply a “customer satisfaction” questionnaire with the kit.   

prepping in the veggie patch

Husband has been keeping himself busy, while I’ve been lounging with my feet up indoors, preparing the veggie patch for the 2018 crops.  For the moment, he’s still in the prepping stage for most things, so the following pics aren’t going to have you drooling . . . it’s much too early in the season for anything exciting.

The hens are currently fenced in on approx 20m2 of pecking ground and, seeing the egg count, they’re happy enough.

hens april 02

Husband had the rotovator out yesterday, turning soil on a previous coop site.  Hens were on this plot over the winter months, and everything had become hard, compressed mud.  Now that it’s been turned over, it can be sowed with fresh grass seed so it should grass over in time for October.

rotovatored

Very soon, though, we’ll be moving hens to their summer residence in the orchard, where they’ll be able to enjoy the shade of the apple trees.

ready

This little plot is all nicely rotovated, weeded and ready.  Hubby is going to plant flowers on 2 strips, to attract bees and other pollinators, and then a couple of  red pepper, chili and aubergine plants.

artichokes

Two artichoke plants are already in, and behind, you can see the rather big, bushy, spikey cardoon plant which is thriving.  I’m not a fan of cardoons but that doesn’t mean we can’t grow them.  To the right, husband has prepared 2 strips where I’ll plant green beans. 

seedlings

A few rows of seedlings will need thinning out soon.  Chard to the left and beetroot to the right.

spuds

What looks like a wooden coffin, is the husband’s 2018 trial for potato growing and in those sandy “trenches” . . . he is also trying asparagus this year.  Asparagus won’t be ready to harvest this year, even though the first shoots are popping up.

asparagus

rasps

Raspberry bushes, which were cut right back, are thriving . . . and we re-planted our strawberry patches with new plants in the autumn which are already starting to flower.  We have 4 little patches, with 9 plants each.

strawberries 01

We’re listening to the neighbours tihs year.  They seem quite knowledgeable about the micro-climate we get here, and their advice is to wait until mid-May before any more planting.    While weather has been very hot this past week (27°C) we’ve heard temps could drop dramatically early May.  And since summer tends to last well into October, there will plenty of time to finish plantations in May and enjoy fresh produce as it ripens.

view

Last photo, an overall view of our veggie garden, which is approx 250m2.  With the portable net fencing for hens, waiting to be moved and set up in the orchard.  No photos of the orchard for now as I can’t hobble that far yet.

resting feet not hands

As you all know, I’ve been having to keep my feet up since foot op.  The first few days of complete bed-rest actually whizzed by.  I was rather zonked out with painkillers and content to just vegetate and snooze while watching DVDs in bed.  However, the surgeon had said I could get up after 3 days and put weight on my foot as long as I wore the following.  So get up after 3 days I did!

shoes

A very elegant (not) pair of clumpy shoes with velcro straps for fastening.  They do the job of keeping foot supported, not allowing the foot to bend or flex, but enabling me to walk around without crutches.  My foot still looks huge, partly because it’s still swollen but mainly because of the bandages. Oh, and I even have to wear the right shoe in the shower (protected by a plastic bag of course).

Elegant or not, I’m going to have to get used to them as surgeon has said I’ll need to wear them for approximately 6 weeks.  To be honest, I’m not really that fussed.  I never wear anything elegant or fashionable anyway . . . so I’m just pleased to be able to get around (crutches being rather difficult to coordinate when trying to go up and down stairs).

Anyway . . . before my op, I had gathered together several crafty WIPs all within easy reach, and in preparation for the enforced bed-rest.  As it turned out, the only crafting I felt like doing was crochet. 

monster

This fun 3-eyed monster is something I had actually begun in March, but it was awaiting arms, legs and assembling.  So, while looking at my own swollen toes, I crocheted 4 sets of 3 blue toes for this monster and sewed all parts together.  This is a design by Moji Moji Designs, and published in

51p79fqhfcL__SX413_BO1,204,203,200_

I had also printed out a free chart from the internet, and prepared a shoe box with the necessary yarns to start a new crochet project.  New project being

crafting granny WIP

A “Crafter Granny” and the design generously offered by Zhaya Designs.  If you click on the link you can download the instructions, available in several different languages.  As you can see, my Granny has a head already, and I’ve begun work on her hair. 

whhoo whhoooo!–or happy unbirthdays in April

Another month, another excuse to celebrate some happy un-birthdays  . . . for April, I decided to send out something “fun” and “silly”

non anniv x2

Yup, two of my little amigurumi owls have flown off to new homes where, I hope, they will bring a smile to someone’s face, despite their obvious imperfections.  These little fellows crocheted following a free pattern by Moji-Moji Designs.

The green one, flew to Corinne of Passion Broderie, who loves owls and has quite a collection, I believe.  She is also a cross stitcher, so I added two skeins of DMC thread.

non anniv passion

And the pink owl flew to Sandrine, also a cross stitcher, so also posted with 2 skeins of pretty  DMC thread.

non anniv Sandrine

I kept the nest, as my remaining two owls do like somewhere to snuggle up together, when they’re not out hunting mice at night. 

thank you Lynn

I celebrated an unbirthday this month!  And such fun it was, thanks to Lynn, aka The Tialys, who sent me loads of wonderful goodies.  Do you want to see?  Of course you do! 

Well first up, there was a selection of fabric, for future patchwork and other sewing projects.

from Lynn 02

Four animal prints – I do like a big cat! 

from Lynn 01

More interesting fabrics, with one large panel covered in patchwork houses, a lovely bright pink “cat” fabric, and some very vintage looking “vignettes” all on a wild flower theme.  Plus, at the bottom of the photo, two patterns to make vintage style teddy bears!

from Lynn 03

And . . . two gorgeous hand-knitted baby cardigans (colours are to die for – a shame they won’t fit me), a book mark, two skeins of Anchor thread and a lovely owl card.  The cardies are simply adorable, and the perfect size for my reborn dolls . . . so we had a quick photo shoot.  First the moss green & purple one, which seems to fit all girl dolls nicely.

from Lynn 06

Here it is on Alice . . . then on Grace

from Lynn 07

and on Lily (who isn’t assembled, just has head & limbs sort of stuffed inside, but you get the general idea).

from Lynn 08

And then the plum coloured one on Grace

from Lynn 10

And on Lily

from Lyn 09

I really am going to have to get my act together and take care of my reborns.  Lily and Noah have been waiting for ages for me to reassemble them.  The only clothes making I’ve done so far has been a couple of crocheted hats, one pair of trousers and a nappy – that’s not really good enough, is it?   So, once I’m back on both feet (literally) I really will have to set to work! 

twinkle toes

right foot

Hello everyone!  A very quick post to say foot op went well and I’m already on day 3 of the complete bed-rest phase.

Photo above is of the xray taken just after (different views of my right foot) so surgeon could check the little screws are where they should be.  Don’t know if you can see, but they are in the three middle toes.

From the outside my foot looks like this

photo_1523637145012

All bandaged up and still really swollen but, I am very pleased to say, I am experiencing very little pain.

The op was done on Friday, and the worst part was the anaesthetic.  I chose to have a local nerve block anaesthetic which wasn’t very pleasant while being done.  However, the advantage, once done, is that my leg went completely dead from the knee down.  I was given something to help me relax a little during the op.  Have to admit to having stage fright even if I knew I wasn’t going to feel pain.   In the end, the sounds of sawing/drilling etc were no worse than a visit to the dentist and the op only lasted about 40 minutes.

Surgeon’s instructions are for 3 days complete bed-rest, and 8 days of blood thinning injections.  I’ve got a pair of crutches which I needed for the first 2 days as right leg was still numb . . . but also have a pair of rigid support shoes, and have been managing to walk wearing those, without crutches.

Meds have been keeping pain and inflammation at bay but probably frazzling my brain slightly as I haven’t done much crafting at all.  I’ve been lying in bed, with crafting materials all around, watching DVDs and then dozing off.  I suppose that’s all part of the healing process and won’t do me any harm.

ScrapHappy # April

It’s 15th April, time for some ScrapHappy fun with Kate in Australia, Gun in Sweden and a whole group of crafting people world wide!  Other members of the group, who don’t necessarily post each month, being:

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

The idea behind ScrapHappy is to do some crafting sometime during the month, using only scraps.  It can be any kind of crafting, and doesn’t even need to be a finished project.

For this month I played around with some of my patchwork fabrics, and I put together a simple block.

scraphappy April

This has actually finished at 13” square but I’ll probably trim 1/8” off all around at some point because I have added this pretty block to a small pile of other blocks I have in my stash

scraphappy April 02

The plan, one day, being to have enough blocks to make a quilt.  But it’s really a coincidence if all blocks blend in with each other more or less . . . or simply proof that I do lots of sewing with turquoises and teals.

“Getting Ready” #10 – SAL update

It’s time to share progress which was made over the last 3 weeks, and how my SAL project has evolved from this

GR 25 03 18

to this

GR 15 04

I’m still a long way from having this piece finished, but things are taking shape.

The list of SAL members seems to be growing . . . for this update we welcome Megan, aka Lindashee, who has decided she could do with some group motivation.  And Timothy is back!   So the complete list of links is now:

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

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

Heidi, Connie, Jackie, Sunny, Hayley, Tony, Megan, Timothy

Oh and before I say goodbye until next time . . . I received a lovely email from Terri, with the attached photo.

P1030538 (2)

Now the photo is Terri’s stitching, of one of my free charts:  “square in a square” . . . so that in itself was a lovely treat, for me, to see one of my charts stitched and framed.  The reason I’m sharing here, on the SAL post is because Terri has been following our SAL adventures and our 3-weekly updates helped to motivate Terri while she was busily working on this.  So, there may officially be 26 now in the group . . . I’ll also be thinking of Terri (who doesn’t have a blog) in future, wondering what she’s working on.  And maybe there are some other silent stitchers out there, stitching along with us?

Next update  6th May.

the chicken or the egg (what I received).

At the end of March I showed you what I had sent to Michèle for an Easter exchange the title of which was “the chicken or the egg?”.  I can now show what I received . . . from one of the few male cross stitchers out there.  Real-life name, Thierry, forum pseudo: The Old Druid.

from thierry

A metal tray and a keyring, souvenirs from Paris;  a box of Dardenne chocolates and a gorgeous, cross stitched, Fabergé egg.

from thierry 02