best layer of the month # May

A big round of applause for our Sussex hen: Miss Plumpton!


There are 31 days in May, and how many eggs did Miss Plumpton lay???  She laid thirty-one!  Yep, didn’t take a single day out to rest!

Mauricette didn’t do too badly, with 21.  However the older gals are slipping.  Miranda laid 8 and Miss Moneypenny . . . well she’s just been keeping the other hens’ eggs warm, and only laid one egg this month!

So grand total of 61 eggs this month.  Tomorrow we’ll be moving the gals to their “summer residence”: the second coop which is under the apple trees in the orchard.  That will give them lots of fresh pecking ground as well as shade.  I’m hoping the change of scenery will make Miss Moneypenny get over her broody phase which has been going on all month.

F2F3–FootSquare Freestyle season 3

Kate is a gem!  She’s organising the third season of the F2F patchwork quilt swap.   The swap works thus:  there are nine of us taking part.  Each lady has chosen her colour inspiration and each lady has been allocated a month.  Each month, we all make & send three 12” (finished size) patchwork blocks for the lady of the month in her choice of colours.   We will therefore all end up with 27 blocks.   I had lots of fun as Miss February last year, in season 2 (F2F2), making blocks for other ladies, often out of my comfort zone where colours were concerned.  My colour choice last time was bright orange, green & blue on white.  Which resulted in a vibrant, cheerful quilt.

F2F2 finished 01

This year’s F2F swap officially starts on 1st June, running through until February.   I’m Miss August this year, and my colour inspiration is: turquoise, black & grey on white.


Before I get carried away with those colours, though, I need to do some fabric shopping (what a hardship!) because there is Lynn to sew for in June.  She’s chosen neutral shades of grey, some beige and cream, with vintage faded rose pinks.  Greys I have in my stash.  Beige and cream too.  But vintage faded rose pinks are not something I tend to use – hence the urgent need to fabric-shop so I can get patchworking asap. 

You’ll be able to see everyone’s colour inspiration, as well as blocks once they are made here: FootSquare Freestyle.

SAL “ Getting Ready” #12

Hello everyone!  Needle has been flying in order to have some decent progress to show for the SAL.  I worked on “Getting Ready” for a full week, putting in about 2 hours of stitching each evening.  This is a kit by Design Works, and adapted from a painting by Ronald West.

In order to admire progress, here’s a “before” photo from 6th May.

GR 06 05

And “after”

GR 27 05

Not bad, eh?  I’ve been concentrating on the second waiter but also adding a few other colours when I got bored of stitching with white & greys.  The tub of flowers on the right has a few leaves . . . the vase to the left is beginning to take shape . . . and the green shutters in the middle.  No backstitch added this time as I’d like to complete this big chunk and then bring it to life.

I’m now off to see what my fellow SAL stitchers have been up to on their various projects.

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

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

HeidiJackie, Sunny, Hayley, Tony, Megan, Timothy

Next update on 17th June. 

RIP Merlin

A sad day yesterday – our oldest cat, Merlin, died.  He was almost 12 which isn’t that old for a cat, so it was rather unexpected.

amigurumi roary 09

On Thursday he was less active than usual (when you see following photos, you’ll understand how difficult it is to tell “less active” from “active”).  On stroking him, I noticed his body & ears were cold, despite him lying out in the garden with temps around 26°C.  Phone call to vet to explain symptoms.  They said “hypothermia” is never a good sign – bring him in immediately”.  We did.

They hospitalised him to warm him up and set up an IV drip as he was slightly dehydrated.   Body temperature was 36°C, which confirmed hypothermia.  A blood test was done which showed high levels of urea – indicating kidney  failure.  Vet could not determine whether hypothermia was the cause or the result.  When we went to visit him Friday morning, the vet greeted us with a glum face.  Merlin had died an hour earlier.

Sad, and rather sudden, but we have lots of memories.  A few photos of Merlin, doing what he did best

sleeping merlin 1

sleeping merlin 2



happy dancing and a new start

bothy cats finished

I’m having a happy dance with a recent cross stitch finish: “Row of Cats”, a kit by Bothy Threads.  As already mentioned, I wasn’t terribly impressed with the backstitch on this project, which was better suited to stitching on evenweave rather than the 16 count aida supplied in the kit.


I wasn’t terribly impressed by the Lana wool either,  which was supplied to stitch some of the cats & then brush them to make them fluffy. I therefore didn’t use the Lana, and just substituted normal cotton threads (there was more than enough in the kit).  Bothy Threads will be receiving feedback from me about those two issues.   After going cross-eyed with backstitch on cats, I made an executive decision and didn’t stitch cats’ names along the top.  I think it looks nice and “crisp” without.  However, all in all, this was a fun design to stitch.  I changed one cat’s colour simply because I wanted to make him a bit different – can you spot him?  With all cats being quite small, and the various colourful toys along the bottom, it was easy to pick up and make progress even when I only had half an hour to spare.

I’ve given my aida a quick iron for the photo before folding it away.  It will become a cushion cover when I feel in a cushion cover making mood.

In the meantime, one finish means I’m allowed to delve in my cross stitch stash to choose a new project!  I’ve still got a lot of work to do on “Getting Ready” for the 3-weekly group SAL, so I thought it unwise to start anything too big or intricate.  I’m therefore going to start on a very small design by Permin. 

permin robot

Design size is only approx 60 x 35 stitches so it should stitch up quite fast.  This kit comes with a generous supply of thread, and a large piece of dark cream 14 count aida plus a large piece of muslin with instructions to make it into a mobile phone case.  I already know, before starting, that I won’t be making a phone case so I’ve put the supplied fabrics away, to use for something else, and I’ll be stitching on an antique white 14 count.  I checked backstitch first lol . . . there’s quite a lot of it, but it appears to correspond to holes.

eye candy

I’ve been extremely naughty of late . . . unable to resist having a flurry of shopping with Mr Visa and buying in reams & reams of gorgeous fabrics!  First up, I went searching for some “solid” colours to match my recent buy of the Hungry Caterpillar stars.  That’s the fabric I bought to make a baby quilt for Baby Viking. 

I bought in a skinny quarter of each colour and I’ve got 2m of the star fabric.  Solid white will probably also be used, but these are the new fabrics, hand-picked for my first grandchild.

gender neutrals

Some people query the wisdom of buying patchwork fabric on-line because they find it difficult to match colours.  I have to say, I’ve never encountered this problem.  I just placed my star fabric on my computer desk while shopping, and chose colours on screen.  The star fabric was bought from Pelenna Patchworks and the six colours from a French seller on etsy.

You won’t see these fabrics again until after baby is born. 

Next, I took advantage of a 50% off sale on Jaycotts – one of my favourite on-line shops for clothes-making patterns.


I hope to try and make myself a pair of fitted trousers – but that won’t be my priority sewing project.  And couldn’t resist grabbing some baby & toddler patterns (plus a Kids dress pattern, thinking of our neighbour, Cléo).  The 4 baby & toddler patterns all offer options to make for little boys or little girls (even though there’s a little girl modelling for the two middle ones). 

With Baby Viking due in August, and my English niece expecting a baby boy in September, I won’t try and make anything in newborn size for this summer.  Plan will be to make something for NEXT summer.  However, I’ll be able to get in some practice sewing in newborn size for a couple of my reborn dolls. 

And, because you can’t make clothes without fabric . . .  I have a favourite on-line shop located in Paris: les coupons de saint-pierre, which sells 3m cuts at unbeatable prices.   


I completely fell in love with these flamingos and bought two different colourways as well as a fun kid print, some solid white, and some white waffle cotton.  Little brain knows what these are for, but you’ll have to be patient.

And final photo to show a sneak peek of a happy dance.

sneak peek

That’s all I can show you for the time-being.  My first little sewing project as grandma to be, for Baby Viking.  Parent Vikings occasionally stop by here, so that’s all I’m willing to share for now.  It doesn’t matter they can guess what it is from the photo . . . they will still get a surprise (I hope) when they see the real thing. 

happy un-birthdays in May

I had lots of fun cross stitching a couple more freebie designs recently. Two partner designs, with two naughty partners in crime, by Sylvia and called “Der Dieb” and “Der Dieb 2”.  Der Dieb being German for “the thief”.

der dieb x2

I wasn’t sure how I was going to finish these two designs until the stitching was done, and then it came to me.  Two little coasters! Which then winged their way to NanaCathy and Mr E (because I don’t see why husbands of crafters shouldn’t celebrate an un-birthday from time to time!).

dieb 01

I didn’t send the matching mugs & spoons (sorry Cathy lol) but I did make them in two different colours, being inspired by the cross stitched border on each.

dieb 04

dieb 05

They were very quick & simple to make.  Two 5” squares of patchwork fabric for each, and a square of wadding.

dieb 03

I went for contrasting print fabric on the back.

dieb 02

Hopefully these will come in useful to protect wooden furniture from either hot mugs or from cool glasses, with condensation dripping down.  As to which one is for Cathy and which one is for Mr E . . . I’ll let them decide.

ScrapHappy # May

I joined a ScrapHappy group a few months ago, organised by Kate in Australia and Gun in Sweden.  The idea of this group is to encourage each other to use up scraps.  Any scraps, for crafting.  In March and April I delved into my fabric scraps for some patchwork/sewing projects.  For May I decided to do some cross stitch.

If you’re like me, you always end up with lots of threads left over from kits and there often seem to be quite a few small off-cuts of aida/evenweave when preparing fabric for larger projects.  I never throw any of mine out. I keep everything because it always comes in useful for very small designs.

While the sun has been shining, and skies are blue, I decided to start work on a few unseasonal designs.  And stitched up these two in just a couple of evenings.

scraphappy may 01

Colours aren’t necessarily what the charts suggested, but I was using my scrap threads, so made colours up as I went along.  The little snowman to the left is a free design by Lindashee, and the penguin is a free by Lesley Teare.

The “finishing” wasn’t strictly a scrappy finish, although I used only what I had in my stash.  Some scrap wadding to give the cross stitch designs a nice padded effect, and some ready-made aperture cards (aperture is 2.5” x 2.5”).

scraphammy may 02

So two dinky little cards to pop into my Christmas box.  And a feeling of not having wasted some of those leftover threads.

Other ScrapHappy crafters, who don’t necessarily post each month, being:

TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn,  Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, JanKaren,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean


I had a wander about with my camera today, in search of the cats. It never fails to amaze me how they can all want to congregate on the bed with me at night yet during the day time, they keep as far away from each other as possible.

This isn’t my finest photograhy, so you have my humble apologies. I was trying to snap quickly, before they realised I was pointing a camera in their direction, which usually makes them move somewhere else.


Ducky was in one of his favourite spots . . . on the kitchen table, right next to the empty food bowls.  He had his ration of wet food for breakfast, and there’s a bowl of dried food upstairs which I always keep topped up.  But no, he’s hoping there might be more wet food if he looks hungry enough.  I’m afraid he doesn’t – he’ll have to wait until tonight!


Le Bleu is trying to tell me something, I think.  He’s all comfortable on my 2-seater sofa.  You can see my set-up with cushions at both ends to support back and feet while I’m crafting with my feet up.  I’m guessing he’s waiting for me to join him, so he can snuggle up on my lap.  He’ll have to wait a little while too.


Abby is snoozing in probably one of the hottest spots she could have found – the veranda.  The thermometer in there tells me it’s hot:


I read that as 34°C, which is behind glass, but with the veranda door and a few windows open to help let the heat out.  I really don’t know why an animal would choose to lie out in that heat, but then I’m not a cat!


And here is Merlin, being a bit more sensible.  He’s enjoying some fresh air in the garden, where it’s probably a lot cooler than in the veranda.  I think it’s only 25°C today.   Saying that – I usually put a cushion down when I sit on those chairs during the warmer weather, otherwise they burn my bottom!  And oh dear!  Just look at the state of our table (top left) – looks like I need to give that a good wash down if we’re hoping to sit outside for a cool drink!

Now that I’ve seen that mucky table top, I really can’t sit here and leave it.  So table, here I come, with a bucket of soapy water & sponge!

getting better, and . . . how’s Crafter Granny coming along?

I wanted to say two big thank yous, to two French crafting friends who sent me some post to wish me a speedy toe recovery.

pc monique

Thank you, to Monique for this lovely card and bookmark . . .


and thank you to Stéphanie who sent a lovely cross stitched card, with a haul of bookmarks.  Neither lady has a blog, but they follow me over on my French blog, and often surprise me with some thoughtful snail mail.

I’ve been making some more crochet progress. Crochet being an easy craft to do, while lounging with both feet up on the sofa.  However it did also require some sitting in the kitchen earlier on, to prepare a small freezer bag with weighting materials, and cut out a cardboard base, to slip inside the bottom. 

crafting granny 02

My “Crafter Granny” can now stand up, as long as Ducky doesn’t mistake her for a skittle, and try knocking her over!  He’s more interested in the long tail of yarn, waiting for the hair to be attached. 

Anyway, here she is, not looking like much at the moment, since she also needs arms an a pretty apron, but I’m very pleased with her so far.  This pattern, in case you fancy making your own Crafter Granny is a free pattern, generously created and made available on-line in pdf, by Zhaya Designs

Just so you know what she’ll look like . . . here is the photo I posted last time.

crafting granny WIP

I am actually toying with the idea of making 2 little aprons.  One in crochet, and one in a pretty cotton floral fabric.  I think it might be fun to combine crochet and sewing in the one project.  What do you think?