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


found a new distraction.

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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€.

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

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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. 

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


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.


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




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!

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.


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


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 . . .


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.


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.


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.

best layer of the month # February

BBrrrr it’s been cold this week!  -15°C this morning around 8 o’clock when we had to go out in the car.  Hens are all fluffed up and I keep having to replace drinking water because it freezes into a solid block in just hours. And I’ve given up with their water fountain for the moment, just using a large plastic “trough” where it’s easier to empty the frozen block out, and pour luke warm water.

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Here they all are, lining up for a drink lol. 

The cold doesn’t seem to have put the young gals off their laying, but the two older gals aren’t quite as productive.  I suspect it’s more age-related than because of the freezing temperatures.  Miranda laid 5 eggs this month, Miss Moneypenny 18 . . . whereas the two young gals: Miss Plumpton and Mauricette were neck & neck with 26 eggs each.  That makes a total of 75.  Needless to say, neighbours have been enjoying our fresh eggs this month, since that’s way too many for just my husband and myself.

Gibbs 17 months

And a recent photo of Gibbs, who doesn’t seem to mind the cold either.  Hardly surprising with that thick glossy black coat.  Here he is, now 18 months old and looking very handsome in his unique collar, made by Lynn.  I actually commissioned this for Gibb’s Christmas present.  Being a Flat-coated Retriever we like his collar to be nice & roomy so it doesn’t flatten down his lovely coat.  Lynn makes and sells some gorgeous dog collars and bandanas with 50% of the proceeds donated to a home for retired dog.  Just click here and it will take you to her shop.

A close-up of the design on Gibb’s collar (hope Lynn doesn’t mind me using her photo).  I’ve water-marked it with the name of her etsy shop: ouafouaf.


what a clever boy!


A rather blurry Gibbs in above photo, but a very happy Gibbs.   We’ve been taking him to the park/obstacle course every day since July.  And I am pleased to say, he can now do all the obstacles on the course!  Hurdles and tunnels are easy peasey . . . what took more work, and concentration is


the see-saw.  Learning to wait until weight redistributes so it swings down before jumping off is the difficult part.

Gibbs 02

Then there’s this “bridge” which needs to be taken quite slowly since the plank is only 10” wide.

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And for a young energetic dog who always wants to run, Gibbs has to learn to walk more sedately across this one. 

Gibbs is now 14 months old and a very healthy 38 kilos of glossy coat and muscle. 


Unfortunately, he’s also got a bald patch on his pretty face again – 2 vet visits later and a swab done, he’s on anti-biotics and anti-inflammatories because the area is now infected.  We hope it’s just a minor infection that will sort itself out, but vet wonders if there isn’t a “foreign body”, like a thorn, stuck inside.  If things don’t right themselves with medication she is going to have to sedate, and go exploring. 


such a dashing dog!

I know I’m biaised . . . but when I show you the following photos, I think you’ll all agree, Gibbs is one dashing dog!

First up . . . a reminder of what he looked like as a pup.  Here, aged 4 months, sporting a bandana made for him by Lynn.


Lynn makes and sells bandanas and collars for dogs in her etsy shop ouafouaf and donates 50% of profits to Twilight, a retirement home for dogs.  Twilight is run by volunteers and financed by donations.

Anyway . . . now that Gibbs is all grown up and less likely to chew on things hanging around his neck, he’s been wearing his bandana recently

Gibbs bandana original 

. . . slightly hidden under all that fur and neck!  But it’s a bit Christmasy for autumn.  So what to do? . . . make a few “every day” ones, is the answer!  I had a good look at the bandana made by Lynn first, and then dived in to make my own. 

bandana back 

I used two different prints for the fronts and the same blue for the back.

Gibbs bandana 01

Gibbs bandana 02

And doesn’t Gibbs look gorgeous?  He’s now almost 14 months old, so he’s finished growing.  Weighs in at 38 kilos and has the most glossy coat and the most adorable character.