Ducky’s home

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I wanted to share the glad tidings with everyone – Ducky is home!

He had disappeared on Sunday 6th, although a neighbour is positive he saw Ducky on the Monday afternoon.  We’d been searching and calling until we were blue in the face. Looking in all the probable and most improbable places.  I printed out flyers which I distributed in every letter box in the vicinty as well as the on-line ad and ads with the local vet. We asked all neighbours to have a good look in their homes and out-houses/barns etc.  I even went and rang on the door of the local château and asked the “Châtelaine” if she would give us permission to explore her 2 hectares of dense woodland.  Permission which was given, so husband and myself spent a couple of hours in wellie boots, with big sticks, fighting our way through the over-grown undergrowth. 

And then this morning, who should come scratching at the door?  Yep, Ducky.  Not a scratch on him, a little bit thinner and very hungry, but apart from that, he’s fine.  He obviously managed to get himself locked in somewhere and was freed or escaped this morning. 

So big sigh of relief here!  He’s been fed, had lots of cuddles, and I’m hoping he’ll now curl up somewhere indoors and sleep.  But then again, if he’s been trapped inside for the last few days & nights, he’s probably going to want to go out. 

a dog can never have too many toys!

You will remember the success of this

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The floatable toy I made for Gibbs, using an empty dairy cream bottle and crocheting in the round with some rather gawdy-coloured yarn.  You’ve already seen photos of the incredible floating toy in action, thus

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Well I decided it would be a good idea to make a few more, in case of loss or damage.  For the moment it’s holding up very well.  Okay, it’s now a bit flattened, but Gibbs’ teeth haven’t made holes in the plastic yet, nor has he ripped the crochet cover to pieces.  He’s a good boy – he knows it’s a “fetch” toy, not to be confused with a “chew” toy. 

Still, I crocheted up two more, just so we have a couple of back-up toys in the future.  And here they are, alongside the flattened first toy (on the right).  I’ve kept the idea of long chains which serve two purposes: 1) to knot together and therefore close the cover, which can be removed if the bottle is ever pierced.  2) when holding the toy by the chains, it’s easier to fling it quite far out into the lake. 

jouets flottants x 3

These were made to fit around 340ml drinkable yoghurt bottles, which have something of a waist-line.  They might be a better shape for Gibbs.  The new ones look very bright compared to the first one.  This isn’t because yarn colour has faded, but rather because the colour of the second ball had less yellow than the first one (despite being the same dye number).  Gibbs won’t care.  He sat beside me while I was making them, knowing full well I was making something for him. 

And, still on the subject of crochet . . . a photo to show my growing collection of crochet books.

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There are a total of six in the series.  I started out buying the first (with the monkey) and pre-ordered number 6 which came out in May this year.    Then in June and July, I treated myself to numbers 2 and 3.  Buying one book a month is fairly reasonable, and by this autumn I will have the complete set to drool over. 

I’ll do another post in a few days time to show you a couple of the inside pages, perhaps to make you drool too. 

cat ‘n mouse

Abby mouse

Can you see the mouse?  Nope, neither can I and neither can Abby.  She did have one in her mouth, when she came into the veranda from the garden.  A live one.  Which she then dropped, and has since been searching inside shoes.  I’ve lost count of the number of live mice Abby and Ducky bring home.  I do wish they’d just stay outside with them!

Meanwhile, indoors . . . my current small cross stitch project has evolved, very slowly from this

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to this

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I could have worked on it a bit more, but I chose to keep busy last month with patchworking, mainly.

Postie brought me some surprise mail from Lilubelle

bookmarks from Lilu

a lovely selection of bookmarks with a nature theme.

And postie also delivered another fabric order.  I know, I know, I have drawers full of the stuff, I don’t need more but . . .

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It was so pretty, I couldn’t resist, especially the second one.  My first thoughts, when I ordered, were that it would be lovely as backing fabric for a quilt (it’s 160cm wide off the bolt) but now it’s here, I’m wondering whether I’d dare wear a summer tunic in one or the other.  What do you think?  Would it be a too much?  A bit too “Dances with Wolves”?

And back to cats . . . slightly worried here, because Ducky has been missing since Sunday.  We’ve been calling him, and I’ve already put an “alert” on a dedicated site for lost & found pets.  Fingers crossed that he comes sauntering home soon.

mad dogs and Frenchmen . . .

Temperatures are boiling hot in our corner of France again this week.  It’s approx 36°C here at the moment (in the shade) during the day, and not going much below 25°C at night.  We’re sweating.  Staying indoors during the hottest part of the day, and then enjoying a dip in the spa late afternoons to cool off.  But, also having to brave the heat because Gibbs needs his exercise.

Last week I showed you the floatable toy I made for Gibbs, and I’m pleased to say, it’s holding up very well.  We’ve been taking him to the park every day and the first thing he does is dive into the lake.

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You can just make out his toy, in the centre of the ring of water circles . . . he’s become a very competent swimmer in a very short space of time.

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And this game could go on and on and on, if Gibbs had his say.

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However, we also go to the park for a few “educational” activites.  Including obstacles.  Of which this is one.

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It took him a few days to become brave enough to do this, but now he walks up the ramp, across and down the other side on his own. 

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There’s a lower platform where he hops up, sits and then jumps off.

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And then there are tunnels to run through, hurdles to jump over, tyres to leap through, and much much more.  For the moment, and in the space of only 10 days, Gibbs has learned to do 6 of the (approximately) 12 obstacles on the course.  But what he really enjoys is swimming in the lake and charging around playing with the other dogs we meet.

my little helper

Just wanted to let you know that I’ll be having a happy dance in the next few days, depending on how much help I get from my little helper.

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Yep, that’s my F2F2 quilt you can see on my lap.  All quilted, assembled and with binding machine sewn on.  More than 300 inches of binding.  And I’m now on the last stage of hand-sewing the binding to the back.

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Don’t I look enthralled?  lol.  It’s not so much the (more than) 300 inches of hand sewing that’s the problem.  It’s my little helper.  Le Bleu seems to think this quilt is fine and finished, just as it is.  And not helping at all.  My husband’s reaction is “Just push him off!” but awwwww  he looks so peaceful.

Meanwhile . . . photo of another of our cats.

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Yup, Ducky, who still looks as if he lost a fight with a mini lawn mower.  Fur seems to be taking ages to grow back!  It’s been 3 weeks since the operation.

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Now that the scar has healed, it’s almost invisible, but you can still distinctly see the two darker marks of the nasty cat teeth that bit him.  All that will be a thing of the past, once fur grows.

it floats!

My followers will know that we are the proud parents to Gibbs, a gorgeous Flat-coated Retriever.

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Gibbs is only 10 months old at the moment, and still putting on muscle.  Like all pups, he’s full of beans, and needs lots of exercise and intellectual stimulus to keep him healthy and happy.  And, like most Retrievers, one of his favourite pass times, is to splash around in water.

Now . . . there’s a huge dog park, at the kennels where we bought him.  You have to pay to go there, so we’ve taken out a subscription which gives us entry to the park all day and every day.  Living in the countryside, it might seem wierd to have paid out, to exercise the dog, but the park is HUGE . . . has a couple of lakes, and an agility course.  It’s also a great place for Gibbs to meet other dogs and socialise in.  While we enjoy a good natter with other dog-owners.

Anyway . . . Gibbs loves for us to throw a stick into the lake, and jumps in to swim after it and fetch.   However,  one stick looks very much like another, and he sometimes gets confused, when surrounded by several floating bits of wood, as to what it is he’s supposed to be retrieving.  I went on-line, to see if there were any specific floating toys for water-dogs.  There are, but I was loathe to pay out and started wondering how I could make my own.  My friend, Avis, came up with a brilliant idea.  An empty plastic bottle!  Genius, why didn’t I think of that?

A quick rummage in the recycle bin where I fished out an empty bottle of dairy cream.  An hour with my crochet hook and some cheap acylic yarn, and voilà!

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I just crocheted a circle the same size as the base of my bottle then crocheted in the round until I had something that fitted half way up.  With the crocheted base part on the bottle, I started decreasing so it would fit the shape of the neck.  And rather than sew the top closed, I crocheted a couple of chains which I knotted together.  The idea being . . . if Gibbs manages to make a small hole in the plastic with his teeth, I can still open the casing, unscrew the bottle lid and empty any water that seeps in before the bottle become too filled with water to float.  The chained bits, are also very handy to hold the toy by, as you fling it.

So . . . of we headed to the park, to try out the new toy.

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Not only does it float, but it’s very easy to spot in the water, and Gibbs appears to love it.   We don’t even have to say “Fetch!”.  He knows exactly what we expect of him.  Those Retriever genes!    So, a floaty toy (total cost, approx 20 centimes and 1 hour of my time), which is now hanging up to drip dry before we go back to the park tomorrow.  You can bet, I’ll be saving more small plastic bottles and crocheting up a few more floatable toys, so that we have a replacement to hand should Gibbs ever lose (or destroy) this first one.

Ducky update, crochet WIPs and an upcoming patchwork

I am ever so pleased to say that Ducky’s ordeal is now over.  After going to the vets for an op, following a cat bite, and having to wear his bandage suit.  After being shut up in the guest room for endless days and nights . . . stitches are now out and Ducky is free to come and go as he pleases.

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Okay, he looks a bit strange still, with a huge, rectangular bald patch.  But fur will grow back eventually and this incident will soon be a thing of the past.

My only worry now is that our other 3 cats are all being very hissy towards him.  They don’t seem to recognise him anymore.  We were expecting Le Bleu to get antsy, because he always does.  However, even the usually docile Merlin and Abby have been hissing and trying to whack Ducky, whenever he gets too close.  In order to try and keep the majority happy, Ducky is therefore still having to sleep on his own in the guest room at night, just until the other cats get over their amnesia.

Apart from spending lots of time giving Ducky extra cuddles in the spare room . . . I have done a little bit of crafting recently.  Not as much as I would have liked, but even so, a few photos to share with you.

WIP monkey

I’ve made a start on “Johny the monkey” – a pattern in the first Zoomigurumi book.  This one is labelled as being for “experienced” crocheters, probably because of the shaping on the face part.  It wasn’t difficult though.  I just followed the excellent stitch by stitch instructions and it hooked up with no problem.  So far I’ve made the head, body, face bit and 2 ears.  Next to tackle the other parts.

I also started a second pattern, from the same book, because working in dark brown isn’t always easy.

WIP pony

This one, “Leila the pony”.  My pony is going to be mainly baby pink, and I’m thinking of using a dark grey for the hooves.  With (possibly) a purple mane and tail, but I haven’t decided yet.  So far, one body, waiting to be stuffed.

And more pics of some new fabrics I am eagerly awaiting . . .

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One of our neighbours is expecting a baby girl later this year . . . any excuse eh?  I’ll be making a baby sized quilt, with the bird print as my main fabric, and other pretty colours too.  Can’t wait for fabrics to arrive and to make a start!