finish one a month #1 (or unbirthday gift for August).

Early August I shared some photos with you of a whole variety of unfinished projects, some going back 10 years, that are hiding away in my drawers.  And I publicly declared that I needed to give myself a kick up the backside, in order to finish off one a month.

I took an easy option for the first project which was already quilted and cut to a 17” square, destined to become a cushion cover.

2nd cat top

It didn’t take long at all to make the back and sew together.

cat cushion finished front

cat cushion finished back

It finishes up at approx 16” which is a common size for cushion inserts.  And this has been folded up, packaged up, and posted off to a very good friend, Valérie.  Wishing her a happy un-birthday in August.  One F/O down, lots more to go!

zippy fun – how to

Way back in February, I showed you a monster zippy pouch I had made, following a pattern in a French magazine.

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green monster

I then went on to make more of the same, in different colours . . . and they were so much fun, I made some more!  Now, I don’t want to write a full-flung tutorial, since I don’t want to infringe on any copyright.  But I thought, I could at least show you some step-by-step photos, in case you were tempted to try this yourself.  I sewed by machine, but these could be sewn by hand, if you don’t have a machine.

I won’t give measurements, since it all depends on what size zip you use.  I’ll just say that I used a 5” zip and an A4 sized piece of felt for my main colour. Here is how easy it is.

First . . . you’ll need a zip, one piece of contrasting felt, a small piece of white felt cut into 2 circles (I cut mine free hand), two buttons, and (optional) a short length of ribbon.  I cut my felt in half, and then one of those halves in half again.

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zippy 02

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Don’t forget to open the zip before sewing front to back (right sides together) so you can turn it the right way out.

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Next, you play around with your buttons.  Depending on where you place them, you can totally change the expression of your zippy monster . . . like this

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like this

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or like this

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I find these zippy pouches great fun to make.  They’re quick and inexpensive to make . . . and I think they make fun gifts.

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

it floats 03

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. 

a sentimental ramble and a necessary kick up the backside

There’s not a day goes by that I don’t regret having started this blog.  It’s been a way to reach out, and “meet” so many wonderful, like-minded crafters over the years.  Each day begins, for me, with a fresh mug of coffee, and a blog hop, as I scroll down in my WP reader, to see what blogging friends have been up to.  Or checking my email, for the notifications I receive when a non-WP blogger has posted.  My coffee usually goes cold, unforgotten, as I start leaving comments or replying to those left here.  Even my husband, peers over my shoulder as I blog hop and admires what you’ve all been up to!  Although he’s always more interested in the photos of gardens, flowers, animals and interesting walks.

I started out as a cross stitcher, more than 20 years ago, but over the years, I have branched out into other crafts, discovering more and more brilliant blogs as I go . . . finding friendship, inspiration, motivation and encouragement every step of the way.

I want to say “thank you” to everyone who stops by to read me and my ramblings.  When I first started blogging, I didn’t expect my blog to become such a big part of my daily life.  It really started out as an on-line journal for myself.  A “Dear Diary” in a sense.  A way of keeping track of projects I had worked on, which explains why I don’t talk or share much about my private life, except our animals and country surroundings.

Anyway . . . (because you’re already wondering if I’m going anywhere with this . . . ) that’s the sentimental ramble over lol.  Now onto the kick up the backside!

I was looking back over some of my old posts which made me realise how fast time really does fly as you get older.  Things I thought  happened only yesterday, happened much longer ago . . . and I realised, I need to get my finger out!

Because, I still have all of the following, in their unfinished state, stashed away in my drawers, and I didn’t realise (until the other day) just how many projects have been waiting for so long, for a full-flung Happy Dance!

There’s this

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Last posted about in September 2016, which got no farther than being assembled into 3 bands, before being folded and put away.

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My hand-pieced “Let it bee” hexie top, still in this unfinished stage since July 2016.

2nd cat top

A quilted cushion front, still waiting for a back, since June 2016.

indians almost 02

Two native American Indians, cross-stitched in 2013, then assembly begun in April 2016 to make wall hangings . . . still waiting.

And when I start looking at other cross-stitched pieces awaiting some kind of finish . . . it goes from the relatively recent, like these

statement finished

“Statement Flowers” – February 2017, to these . . . .

zodiac x12

Vervaco Zodiac signs – set of 12 finished in June 2016.

SAL friendship quilt finished

“Friendship Quilt” finished in October 2015 – this would make a great cushion cover to go with my recent “such fun!” F2F2 quilt, despite having purple, not blue.

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“Cirque des Triangles” finished in September 2014 and still waiting for a frame.

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“Pentacost Two” finished in December 2013.

And it gets worse . . . with these two that date back to around 2007

“Bramble & the Rose” by Ink Circles on left and the “Grand Marquoir” by Isabelle Vautier on the right.  As well as a selection of “smalls” just folded and sitting in a drawer since I can’t remember when (since I never date my work).

And those are just a few . . .

I am therefore going to try and actually properly finish off some of the above over the coming months.  Even if I only manage to tackle one a month.   It seems  silly to have spent so much time (and money) crafting when the results are hidden from view in a drawer.

happy unbirthdays in July

July flew by, and with it, four more friends celebrated their happy unbirthdays!  Yes, they did, indeed!  And what little surprises did I make to send?  Well, I had such fun making zippy pouches a while back, following instructions from this French magazine

magazine

that I went and bought some more felt and short zips, to make a few more monster pouches.

zippy second batch 01

Here they are . . . a couple with odd eyes, because I didn’t have enough small black buttons, but hey, they’re monsters after all.  Monsters are allowed to have odd eyes.

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They don’t seem to mind, and look happy enough.

Anyway . . . who were the lucky unbirthday people this month?  Well . . .

unbirthday KateC

The bright pink one winged its way to Kate, in Australia, along with a Liberty fabric card kit.  I know that Kate loves Liberty fabric, so this was a must for her.

unbirhtday Emma

To Emma, also in Australia, the green zippy monster (sorry about following photos, taken at night without flash) and a small cross stitch kit.

unbirthday SusanP

To SusanP, in New Zealand, I sent the turquoise blue zippy pouch, which has cat paw prints all over the ribbon, and a different Liberty fabric card kit.

unbirhtday Flo

And to Flo, in France,(Flo doesn’t have a blog) the darker blue monster, along with some DMC skeins for embroidery projects.  I do hope ladies had as much fun opening their surprise parcels as I did making them up.

“such fun!”–happy dancing

F2F2 finished 01

One of my favourite quotes (for all you Miranda fans) . . . and photos of “such fun!”, made with blocks from the F2F2 swap, organised by Kate

Those who follow my blog will remember this adventure began in June last year, when I joined a block swap, and spent 9 months, making and posting blocks to other ladies in their chosen colourways.  Until it was my turn, in February.  My colour inspiration was

Claire

And I think you’ll agree that the finished quilt as just as bright and colourful as these Rainbow Lorikeets.  A big thank you to Kate, the organiser.  But also to Lynn, Sandra, Sue, Susan, Moira, Gun, Esther who were the other official members of the swap.  And a thank you to Avis, who made and sent 3 blocks for my birthday, so I would have a total of 30 blocks for this patchwork.

It’s big.  It’s the biggest I’ve ever made.  Finishing up at 87” x 73” (that’s 220cm x 185cm).

F2F2 finished 02

F2F2 finished 03

I added 1” orange sashing to each block before quilting and did the assembly using the QAYG (quilt as you go) method.  Using a splodgy/dotty print fabric on the back and repeating the orange bands.   Each block was quilted differently, by machine, and each block has the name of the maker embroidered on it, very discreetly, in orange thread.  That way, in the years to come, I’ll remember exactly who made what.

F2F2 finished 04

So there you have it!  The swap was a wonderful learning experience, helped boost my confidence and really was “such fun!”.

it floats!

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

Gibbs 14 07

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.