best layer of the month # June . . . and then there were three.

A bit of sadness in the coop this month.  From four hens

hens feb

we are now back down to three.

june hens

Who’s missing?  Yup, our lovely red hen, Miranda.  She was suffering from “fly strike”, also known as myiasis, earlier in the month (very gruesome, I’ll let you google if you have a strong stomach).  We did our best to treat her, but to no avail, and we had to make the decision to put her out of her misery.  I say “we”, it was actually the husband who did the deed quickly and efficiently – for which I can never thank him enough.  It would have been inhumane to let her linger.

I really miss not seeing her lovely golden plumage, when hens are all strutting about – she was a lovely hen with a great personality, and in the 3 years she lived here, she laid a total of 726 eggs, so she was en excellent layer too.

Anyway, I’m pleased to say the other gals are all healthy.  Miss Moneypenny has finally got over her broodiness (which seems to affect her every May & June) and is now back out, strutting her stuff.  She’s mainly there just to look pretty these days though, aged 4, we’re not relying on her for our egg supply.

For June, the total egg count was 58 eggs.  1 laid by Miranda before she got “ fly struck”, 3 by Miss Moneypenny, 24 by Mauricette and a staggering 30 by Miss Plumpton, who never seems to take a day off.

june plumpton

Saying that, Mauricette laid a 110g whopper only the other day – no doubt a double-yolker, but I haven’t cracked it open yet.

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Anyway, our three gals are enjoying the shade of the apple trees in the orchard.

june hens 02

Temperatures are hot.  35°C today, and forecast says we can expect 37°C tomorrow.

The orchard really is the best place for the hens in the summer months as there’s always a bit of shade.  Apple trees look as if they’ll yield well this year.  I have no idea what varieties we have, but there are two which seem to be cooking apples

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And one which gives nice eating apples.

june garden 01

They’re not ripe yet, but if they can all stay nice & healthy-looking like that, we should be in for quite a harvest.

Pear trees aren’t doing so well.  We’ve got 2 in the orchard, and 2 in the veggie patch.  The latter are totally without pear, but in the orchard there are a few (probably about a dozen in total).

june garden 03

The question is: will they ripen, or simply fall off beforehand?

Stained Glass D9P

Our second son, also known here as Daddy Viking, turned 28 on 21st June.  And what better excuse to start slicing and sewing, to make a quilt?  I realised that since I began patchworking, I have made quilts for eldest son, daughter (Lindashee), Mummy Viking, my sister, my eldest French niece and TWO for my youngest French niece . . . not to mention various quilts as gifts for babies, and a few to fling over the sofas here.  But for some reason, I had never got round to making one for my second son!

I did ask him a while back what colours he would choose, should I find the time.  And he came back with “orange, green, purple and black”.  A son after my own heart!

So . . . a quick delve into my fabric stash revealed a good choice of the above colours, since the first three are my all-time favourites.  And I set to work.

D9P 02

Cutting 5” squares and assembling to make D9P (disappearing nine patches).

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Two afternoons of sewing later, and adding a 1” black band, to give me 1/2” width of sashing and I almost had a quilt top.

Followed by a further 2 afternoons during which I added an outer border before quilting.  And another 2 afternoons to sew on the binding (hand-sewing the final seams).

stained glass 9P 01

And voilà!  A lovely vibrant, cheerful quilt, to wish Daddy Viking many happy returns of the day.

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I embroidered “June 2018” in black at one end, so we’ll remember, in years to come, when this quilt was made.

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And “Stained Glass Nine Patch” on the other end – because the narrow black sashing makes blocks pop, and sets them off, rather like stained glass.

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The backing fabric is a solid orange, which also appears in the blocks.  Quilting, in orange thread,  is simple.  I love the patchwork process, but I still find quilting rather daunting and prefer to keep things as simple as possible.

stained glass 9P 05

Finished quilt measures 46” x 59” so it’s a lap quilt, to be slung over the sofa.

a bit of this & that

Summer officially arrived on 21st June, but we’ve already been enjoying fine weather for a while.  Our spa has been set up in the back garden

summer here

Here it was being filled, but since then, I’ve been enjoying refreshing bubbles late afternoon every day.  I’ve also been doing a bit more cross stitch, with my feet up,  and lots of secret sewing.  Sadly, because of the latter, I realise I don’t have time to make un-birthday gifts this month but hope to have some made for July.

While I won’t be sending any gifts out, I was lucky and received some surprise mail in the post though.  A lovely hand-stitched card from Cathy

from cathy

and a little cross stitch kit, plus hand-made card from Carole.

from Carole

This kit was a free gift with Cross Stitch Crazy, and Carole thought I might like to stitch it (which I do! ).  Seeing that lovely design, spurred me into going on the internet and checking out subscription costs for UK xstitch magazines.  I let my subs run out several years ago because I was stock-piling magazines and not really having time to make the most of all the lovely designs.  However, I did miss the delight of receiving a magazine through the post . . . so I’ve just signed up for a 12 months subscription for Cross Stitch Crazy (so thanks for giving me the idea, Carole). 

Most of my stitching time, of late, has been spent trying to make progress on “Getting Ready” for the SAL.  But I did also finish up a small design.

permin robot

A very cute little robot, kit by Permin.  Three shades of grey, black and a bright green.  I’m thinking I might stitch the design a second time but using three shades of a different colour.  Maybe blue, or pink, or green.  In the meantime, I need to get my thinking cap on and decide how to finish this little fellow.  The Permin kit came with enough aida plus a lining fabric and instructions to make a pouch for mobile phone but I’m not too keen on that idea. 

F2F Season 3 # Miss June

And we’re off . . . ‘tis the month of June, so ladies in the F2F block swap (organised by Kate), myself included, have been busy making 12” blocks for Miss June in her colour choice.

sans-titre

The above being the very subtle range of colours chosen by Lynn.  Shades of grey, beiges, a faded rose pink and cream.

Blocks have been sent and received, so I can show you my interpretation.

Lynn 01

First block is called “Brave World”.

Lynn 02

Second block (which gave me no end of trouble trying to get things lined up) is “Crow’s Feet”.

And the third block

Lynn 03

is called “Folded Corners”.

I wasn’t too sure about Lynn’s colour choice before I began sewing, but as blocks came together, her colours started to grow on me.  That’s one of the great things about this swap:  learning to use colours we wouldn’t normally choose for ourselves.

Anyway, while tidying up my sewing table, folding away leftover fabrics and scraps, I decided to make a fourth block, in these colours, but for myself.  In fact, I have decided I’m going to make a fourth block each month, so I have a souvenir of fabrics used for this block swap.

The pattern I followed for my own block was “Old Fan”.  I went a little overboard on the pink, but I think it turned out rather pretty.

old fan

Kate, the lovely lady organising this swap is keeping the gallery up to date on the F2F blog, so if you fancy seeing what other ladies made for Lynn in these colours, just click and hop over.

SAL “Getting Ready” #13

My SAL stitching on “Getting Ready” has been rather eratic these past few weeks.  Rather like my other crafting where I seem to have been moving rapidly from one project to another (all will be revealed very soon!).

Last time, in May, I showed you this photo

GR 27 05

I really should have done some backstitch to give the waiter on the left a face, but instead, I just kept threading up my needle with different colours, and stitching a bit here & there.  The result of which looks like this

GR 17 06 18

Not too shabby but still quite a lot to do.

Let’s do some blog-hopping now and see what other SAL members have been up to.

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

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

HeidiJackie, Sunny, Hayley, Tony, Megan, Timothy

And our next update will be on Sunday 8th July.

Scrap Happy # June – “crinkle toys”

I’m linking up with Kate and Gun today, for the once a month ScrapHappy post.  The idea being to try and make the most of our scraps which we seem to accumulate and never throw away.   I try to keep my fabric scraps fairly organised, in different plastic bags according to colour, but I also cut 2.5” squares from scraps from time to time, and store them in a little box because you never know when pre-cut squares will come in handy.

I had an idea to make a couple of baby toys and these little scrappy squares were exactly what I needed.   I could have chosen more harmonious colours, but I wanted to keep them as busy and random as possible.

scraphappy 02

scraphappy june 01

Two small blocks quickly sewn together.    The finishing wasn’t entirely “scrappy” but it was definitely very economical.  I had bought some micro fiber dusters not long ago (1.80€ for a pack of lovely bright colours).

crinkle toy 01

And I had also bought a few toy making accessories, namely mini rattles (1.5cm in diameter) and some teething shapes.  So . . . I proceeded to make mini quilts with my two blocks.  Still with ScrapHappy in mind, I pieced scraps of wadding until I had the right size to match the blocks.  And inside  I also slipped a piece of “crinkle paper”  except mine is cut from an empty packet of Senseo coffee bags.

crinkle toy 02

Then added the teething shape and binding.  This one, with spotty fabric from my F2F2 quilt and a bright yellow back will be for a niece’s baby, due in September.

crinkle toy 03

The binding for the second one, leftover from the “a little bird told me” baby quilt.  With a purple key and bright green back – this for Baby Viking.

crinkle toy 04

crinkle toy 05

So there they are!  Two home-made “crinkle” toys.  Each with a soft texture on the back; crinkle paper & tiny rattle sewn inside, and a key for teething.  Not counting the cost of cotton fabrics & wadding, which were scraps,  I estimate they cost less than 2€ apiece to make (with bought supplies of micro fiber, teething key and mini rattle).

2 crinkle toys 01

They measure approx 8” square.

Other ScrapHappy crafters, 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, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean

cloth baby books – warts and all.

Mummy & Daddy Viking are getting ready to welcome Baby Viking.  Still 2 months before due date, but there’s DIY going on in their home, involving plastering, painting, and laying parquet.

I’m keeping busy here and starting to prepare a few things.  My first crafting project being inspired by

vignettes 01

and

vignettes 02

Two different series of farmyard animal fabric squares.  Which I sliced and sashed

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I won’t bore you with all the pages . . . you get the idea!  Then quilted and assembled to make a cloth book.

viking book 01

Assembly didn’t go quite as expected, but I honestly don’t think Baby Viking will be criticising grandma’s sewing (at least I hope not!).  A lovely bright green and some purple for the cover –  2 of grandma’s favourite colours.  And pig prints on front and back because Daddy Viking loves pigs.

viking book 03

The inside looks like this.

Viking book 02

There are a total of 16 pictures in this book, for Baby Viking, and a matching green silicon teething flower.

While on a roll . . . and because my English niece is expecting a baby boy in September.  The cover in orange (another of my favourite colours).

orange book 01

I changed my page assembly technique for the orange book.  And there are only 12 pictures in this one.

orange book 02

orange book 03

I bet you’re wondering what that little orange tag thing is for, aren’t you?  Well, that was something that didn’t go according to plan.  There’s always something, isn’t there?  The plan was to add a tag and popper so this book could be kept fastened shut.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take into account the thickness of the closed book (with all those wadded pages) . . . and my tag was too short.  I couldn’t remove it because that would have meant messing up my seams . . . so it’s just there, for no reason other than for people to wonder why it’s there.  I’m sure my future great nephew will find a use for it. Possibly something to chew on, or simply to fiddle with while turning the pages?

flooding the Close

Well we had a bit of unwelcome excitement last night!

We had rain and a storm  which began around 10pm . . . were woken from our slumbers around 11.30pm by a neighbour banging on the door, and the view outside was

flood

Now, we have a little stream which runs along the edge of our land . . . but all this water actually came from further upstream.  It seems that upstream, there were tree trunks and branches which were stopping the normal flow, and with the rain, the stream had swelled up out of its banks.  Water, as always, looking for the shortest route to flow . . . and that route, bringing it directly down the little side road in the Close and towards our house.

Luckily, we have quite a high pavement just in front of the house, so the flow swept off at a right angle and continued on its merry way, flooding neighbour’s terrace and surrounding land, until it eventually made its way back to the stream further down.

Neighbours and husband were all outside in wellies until the early hours, tryng to clear the drainholes of silt and debris the waters brought with them.  And suddenly, after a few hours, the waters subsided.

This morning we woke up to mud everywhere, but the ground was surprisingly dry, considering.

As far as I know, only one family had to be evacuated, with around 30cm of muddy water in their house.  We and close neighbours got off lightly.  Our garage has about 2cm of mud which will need clearing and there was also a minor infiltration in my husband’s workshop area.

garage

But the most urgent job for today was to clear the mud which had settled on pavements and terraces.  The local council were out clearing the “main” road which was under about 5cm of mud and littered with tree trunks and smaller debris.

They’ll also be coming round to assess the damage because, as water flooded down and around, it literally took half the road surface with it.

road01 (2)

road01

road03 (2)

road03

Husband even found this amongst the debris

fish

The stream running along our land is actually lower than it usually is at this time of year, but the current is a lot stronger.

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The banks are high enough here, that there is no risk.  It’s the part farther upstream we need to worry about.

Another storm and more rain is forecast for tonight.  Fingers crossed the stream doesn’t come visiting again because we haven’t finished cleaning from last night yet. And when we’ve finished cleaning mud, we’ve got a pile of sand to shift too.

sand

That was all deposited there during the night too as the water flooded over the land trying to get back to the stream.  I’m just really glad all our pets were indoors and our hens & veggies patch were not in the flood path.

practical sewing and a thank you

I’ve been quite busy these past few weeks with some very colourful patchworking – which I can’t reveal just yet.  However, I also did some less colourful, and more practical sewing, which I can share.

I’d been meaning to do something about the cushions on our kitchen chairs for ages.  I bought a set of seat cushions a few years ago because it was cheaper to buy ready-made, than to buy inserts and make my own.  They were to protect the chair seats, which are made of straw, from cat claws.  The main problem with these cushions (apart from getting grubby very quickly . . .  was that Ducky

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found a new distraction.

practical 01

He ate his way through the ties that were there to tie cushions onto chairs.  In this photo, you can see one of the ties which was chewed to the knot.  On others, he went so far as to chew where it was sewn to the cushion!  And not just on one chair!  Over time he gradually worked his way through all 8 chairs, chewing sometimes one, sometimes both ties!  This meant, every time we pulled out a chair to sit down, not only were the cushions getting grubby, but 9 times out of 10 the cushion fell on the floor. 

I was suddenly spurred into action to do something about this when our daughter, aka Lindashee, said she would be travelling to France for work, and coming to stay 2 nights with us.  Literally on the day she was due to arrive, I pulled out a large piece of fabric I’d been hoarding for years.  3 metres x 150cm bought about 8 years ago which had cost 10€.

practical 04

The diagonal lines are a pale green which, you will see in other photos, does sort of blend in with the kitchen. 

practical 03

The ties aren’t colour-coordinated  – I used navy blue – but I decided to sew on all four corners.  I didn’t even bother making the covers with an opening (for washing) either.  Just machine sewed the final seam shut. 

practical 05

And managed to tie UNDER the seat part, in the hopes that Ducky won’t be tempted to start chewing.

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They’ll do the job of protecting the seat part from claws, which is their main purpose.  And for only 10€ worth of fabric, I had enough to make new covers for all 8 chairs.

A last photo, totally unrelated:

from Sabine

to say thank you to Sabine, a French friend who lives in Germany.  She went to a patchwork/crafts show not long ago and sent me a lovely FQ plus more bookmarks for my collection.