best layer of the month #June

Gosh, June has flown by!  Time to do the egg count in the coop.  For this month, hens laid a total of 75 eggs.  Ruby came in third place with 23, Mauricette in second place with 25 and it was Florence, June’s best layer with 27 !  Here she is, strutting her stuff, and looking very pleased with herself!

washed away

We had a terrific storm with torrential rain the other day . . . resulting in severe damage to the banks of the little stream only a stone’s throw from the house.  Before: photo taken looking downstream.

On the right you can see a white barrier, which is wrought iron sheets, and ran all along the bankside for several metres, keeping the embackment in place. Just to the left of that you can also see the first of 5 stone steps, that led down to the stream.  On the morning after,  looking upstream, things looked like this

Only three stone steps remaining (number 3 looks decidedly wobbly) and the banks completely caved in.

We, and other residents in our little close, have contacted the local council who are going to send someone round very soon to check out damage and decide how (and when) to go about repairing damage.  In the meantime, we’re hoping we don’t get any more heavy rain which will only make things worse.

Apart from that . . . I’ve been keeping busy indoors, crafting for dolls which entails some sewing, crocheting and even some shoe-making.  Am currently playing around with a very small 23cm doll I received for Christmas 2019, and discovering how fiddly it is making things for such a small doll.

Here’s a photo of one of my recent makes:  a little pair of shoes, only 4cm long, for tiny feet.  If you want to see more, just hop over to my other blog: Claire’s Collections.

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zodiac quilt – drum roll

Drums rolling here . . . and lots of photos to share my happy dance with a combi cross stitch/patchwork project.  Begun way back in Sept 2015.  It all started with a cross stitch kit by Vervaco.

This kit came with charts to stitch all twelve zodiac signs, but only enough aida & thread to stitch one.  I knew that when I bought it, and had already planned on swapping the 14 count aida for 20 count aida, choosing my own colours (similar but not exact references) and stitching all 12 designs.

That took me until June 2016.

Then, stitched squares were put in a drawer, with plans of assembling into a patchwork . . . and the years passed.  Until I finally got my act together this year, and made a start . . . and now I have a finish – yay!

Finished quilt measures approx 130cm x 173cm (51″ x 68″) so it’s really only a lap quilt.  I used the QAYG method because quilting is not one of my strengths.  Anyway, enough talk, I’ll leave you with some photos.

And ending with a couple of close ups on cross stitched centres. Had to include one of Gemini (Daddy Viking only just had a birthday!).

 

zodiac QAYG part 1

It’s been too hot here to do much crafting but I have finally started work on finishing my zodiac blocks, in very short sessions.

I did actually get blocks all quilted back in April but then they were left in a pile as I couldn’t decide what fabric to use for my QAYG strips.  After 2 months of walking past the pile of blocks and fabric, I decided I just had to stop second guessing myself, and to get on with it!  I’ve kept things very plain, which is quite unusual for me!  I didn’t want the front to be too busy, because I spent an awful lot of hours cross stitching those zodiac designs, on 20 count aida, so I’d like them to really stand out.

I’ve used a milky chocolate brown on the front . . . it’s what I used for backing fabric, and I’m even using it for my 1″ strips on the back too!

So, when I say plain – it really is going to be plain on the back!  Anyway . . . with 12 blocks to this quilt, I assembled first into pairs.  And then I assembled pairs into panels of 6.

All I need is a couple more sewing sessions to join both panels, and then to add binding.  Stay tuned!

 

ScrapHappy # June

Hello everyone! it’s the monthly link up with

Kate Gun, EvaSue, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill,
Claire, JanMoira, SandraChrisAlys,
KerryClaireJeanJon, HayleyDawn,
Gwen, Bekki, Sue L, Sunny, Kjerstin,
Vera, NanetteAnn, Dawn 2, Noreen,
Bear, Carol, Preeti and Edith

to talk about things scrappy!  I’ve been carrying on assembling 2.5″ squares.  I do love cutting small squares when tidying up my scraps, and at the moment, I’m assembling into placemat tops.  Haven’t used a table cloth in decades, but the husband and I like to have our dinner plates on a mat – it just makes the table look more “set”.

The current series now looks like this.

Six tops, all 9 x 6 squares, which will give a finished size of 18″ x 12″.  Quite a few fabrics make an appearance several times, but no two tops are the same.  They’re all completely random which I think makes for bright & cheerful.  Now to sandwich, quilt & bind!

SAL “together we are magic” #3

Above is the photo I posted 3 weeks ago of my current SAL project:  “Together we are magic”, a Letitstitch kit with artwork by Jody Bergsma).  I had started out hoping to complete segments of 40 x 40 stitches each time, but I’ve already fallen behind.  Gridding does help, but there’s so much thread changing to deal with, and I noticed there’s also some half stitches appearing now, so I need to concentrate.

Anyway, here is progress for this time.

Here is the list of links to other SAL members. I wonder if there have been any happy dances this time?

AvisClaireGunCaroleConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyMeganDeborahReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneAJLauraCathieLindaHelen

And we’ll be back on 4th July!

more sensible sewing

I’ve been busy, cutting, pinning and sewing . . . nothing very exciting, but having a few more sensible sewing sessions.  6 years ago (time flies), when helping with MIL’s house clearance, there were lots of bed sheets, some never used, that I saved and had been storing in a cupboard ever since.  We don’t use sheets & blankets, we prefer quilts and quilt covers . . . but the advantage of bed sheets is, there’s an awful lot of fabric to use up.  MIL wouldn’t have liked for good fabric to go to waste, so I hope she’d approve of what I’ve done!

I pulled out two sheets in “blues” (both brand new), gave them a wash and iron.  And I’ve made a reversible quilt cover.  Added plastic poppers to the bottom of the quilt cover and had enough fabric to make matching pillow cases (2 in each fabric).  Btw:  when I say “pillow case” I use the word meaning “bed linen, so for use on bed pillows.

The hardest part was battling with two whopping great big sheets, and getting them cut square so I could sew and make to fit for a 200cm x 200cm quilt. There were quite a lot of scraps left over . . . the floral might make something pretty for my dolls. Not sure about the other fabric, but it’s going in the scrap box.

Another sheet, in beige, but slightly faded in places, gave enough to make 4 pillow cases (two already in use, so not in photo)  and I also came across a couple of “old” table cloths (mine, from about 30 years ago when we used table cloths).

Table cloths were without stains, but one had obviously been used/washed more often than the other . . . fabric also has a distinctive “kitchen” look to it, but I’ve turned it onto pillow cases regardless.   Before cutting and sewing, I did actually have a proper measure up, and you’ll be seeing more of the green soon because  I cut a couple of rectangles and strips, to finish off some of my scrappy table mats.

I do, of course, have drawers full of fabric I could have used for this sensible sewing, but I liked the idea of using the bedlinen & table cloths to make more bed linen.  Still have a couple of sheets, but I might save them as they’d make good backing fabric for future patchwork quilts.

reading – one very good, the other not

Two books read recently . . . one very good, the other not (in my humble opinion).

The not so good, I’m afraid to say, was.

“The Ickabog” by J. K. Rowling.  I read the French translation because 11 year old Cléo lent me her copy.  I don’t think, the fact I read it in translation, had anything to do with the way I felt about this book because the translation seemed to flow well. I am not ashamed to say, I loved the entire HP saga, which I have read several times both in French and English, never tiring of those adventures.  It was with high expectations, therefore, that I began this book.  The only positive things I can find to say about this are: it’s keeping children reading (which is always a good thing) and the author gave all royalities to a charity she has set up.  Other than that, it was a complete let-down.  Aimed at children aged 7-11 (from what I gather) I found the style to be too childish for an 11 year old and too grown up for a 7 year old.  As for story content:  too much Grimm fairytale for my liking.  People dying, or being murdered, left right & centre.  Young children being orphaned and then dropping like flies in the over-populated orphanage.  The story extends over a period of 10 years (with main characters being only 5 years old at the start, and 15 years old towards the end).  It just went on and on until the last couple of chapters when the author suddenly seemed to remember she was writing a children’s book and needed to find a “happy” end.

Cléo, my 11 year old neighbour thought it was “quite good” and, when I had a chat with her after reading it myself, she didn’t seem terribly phased by all the deaths & murders that had shocked me.  However, she did also think it went on and on, and agreed it probably wasn’t suitable bed-time reading matter for a 7 year old!

 

On a brighter note . . . I’ve been making use of my tablet for bed-time reading.  I usually prefer to read paper versions of books, simply because I like the feel of a real book on my lap, but I went browsing in the google store.  There are hundreds of books to download for free (usually the “first” in a series) most of which seem to be the “cosy mystery” sort.  The first free download that tempted me was this one.

“The Confectioner’s Guild” by Claire Luana.

This is teen fiction, and there are 4 in the series:  “The Confectioner Chronicles”.  I thoroughly enjoyed this one and am seriously considering buying the other three in the series.  The heroine in “The Confectioner’s Guild” is a 16-year old girl called Wren.  I’d say the author is therefore targetting 14-16 year olds with this series, and even though I’m more than 4 decades outside of that age group, I found it to be a very enjoyable read.  Lots of intrigue, magic, action, suspense and, only one murder!  Very funny in places too.

If you want to know more: here’s the blurb from the back cover.

“Wren knew her sweet treats could work wonders, but she never knew they could work magic. She barely has time to wrap her head around the stunning revelation when the head of the prestigious Confectioner’s Guild falls down dead before her. Poisoned by her cupcake.

Now facing murder charges in a magical world she doesn’t understand, Wren must discover the true killer or face the headsman’s axe. With the help of a handsome inspector and several new friends, Wren just might manage to learn the ropes, master her new powers, and find out who framed her.  But when their search for clues leads to a deep-rooted conspiracy that goes all the way to the top, she realizes that the Guild Master isn’t the only one at risk of death by chocolate. 

If Wren can’t bring the powerful culprit to justice, she and her friends will meet a bittersweet end.” 

 

not once, but twice!

We had a bit of unexpected excitement out in the orchard last week.

The husband’s bees swarmed . . . TWICE!

The first time, the husband and bee-keeping friend, were too busy dealing with the swarm to take photos (and I was still fast asleep in bed!), so the above is of the second swarm.   Luckily, the husband had equipped himself, earlier in the year, with a second, smaller, hive (that he painted bright red) so on the morning of the first swarm our two amateur bee-keepers were able to knock the clump of buzzing business, and it dropped (more or less) into the open hive. A fair number of bees did land outside

but since the queen was safely in the box, it was only a matter of hours before the ones outside went inside.

Anyway . . . the husband was really pleased, because it meant the colony in his main hive was thriving, and the captured swarm meant he’d be able to have two hives up and running this year.  However, the following morning, the bees in the main hive swarmed a second time!

Same photo as above, just zooming in slightly.  We didn’t have a spare box or anything to capture this lot, so the husband phoned bee-keeping friend again.  Another gentle knock and this lot was plopped down into the friend’s portable hive.  They spotted a queen bee in there too.

Back at the main hive . . .

 

there was an awful lot of buzzing about and general agitation.  Our bee-keepers spotted yet another queen bee already in residence there, so, in theory, the husband will have two colonies in our orchard, and his friend will be able to adopt the second swarm.

“Life” a finish off

If you vaguely remember having seen a photo of this once upon a time

that means you’ve been following my blog for quite a number of years.  This is a cross stitch kit I stitched from February – July 2015.

A kit by Design Works”, artwork by Jo Moulton.  Not only did I love the colours but I loved (and still love) the sentiment:  ” Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away”.  Anyway, it was very enjoyable to stitch, but like most of my cross stitch projects, once finished, it was folded and put away in “the drawer”.  Where it remained forgotten about for almost 6 years.

However, after my recent bout of sensible sewing, and the making of cushion covers for kitchen chairs using a sage green fabric.

Plus, after the new sofa covers (not been clawed to pieces yet!) . . . I remembered my “Life” design and realised it would look rather nice  on the “new” sofa.  I had plenty of the fraying sage green fabric left so I made another simple back of a cushion (same as above).  Cut a few strips to add borders on the front.  Did some very sparse quilting on the front, just to hold the wadding behind in place, and voilà!

There are still numerous folded cross stitch pieces in the drawer, waiting patiently to be finished off properly, but for now, I’m just very happy to have this one finally on display!