ScrapHappy January 2021

I was determined to join in with Scraphappy this month, having missed some due to the move.

Even though we’ve downsized massively and I affectionately refer to our new home as ‘the dolls’ house’ I’ve always found dolls creepy – I’m more of a teddy bear girl myself.  However, a request for dolls’ clothes was made and scraps were dug out.

A scrappy bit of fleecy stuff found lurking amongst Mr. Tialys’s rolls of leather got turned into mini Ugg style boots.

Some thin, stretchy fabric left over from a dress and a bit of French terry from who knows where got made into a t-shirt and trousers.  This fiddliness prompted a successful search for my rotary cutter and unpicker in the depths of my still disorganised sewing room so that was good at least.

*shudder*

Be grateful I forgot to take a photo of the heart patterned boxer shorts.

With that I shall remark only on how I marvel at people who can make detailed teeny, tiny things for all sorts of dollies and softies without harbouring any wish to join them.  If I’m going to make a pair of jeans with a fly front, belt loops, contrast top stitching and decorated back pockets I want to be able to wear them myself.

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Scraphappy Day is organised by Kate & Gun for anybody who wants to make new things from scraps of any kind – doesn’t have to be fabric or yarn.  Here’s a list of participants – both regular and occasional – if you want to have a look at the sort of things you can do with scraps.

Contact Kate (first name on the list) if you want to join in.

Kate (me!)Gun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancyAlysKerryClaire,
JeanJon, HayleyDawnGwen, Connie, Bekki,
Sue L, Sunny, Kjerstin, Vera, Nanette and Ann

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Mélange

Pretentious? Moi? Get me with that title – can’t quite shake off the last 16 years of Frenchification.  I still sometimes say ‘Bonjour’ or ‘Merci’ to people out of habit which comes over as a bit odd as not many people would mistake my accent for a real French person especially the real French person who lives just down the road I haven’t yet met and can’t quite believe exists considering we are in the middle of nowhere.

Anyway, I’ve recently written a couple of posts about our new garden and, as Mr. Tialys is starting to get into gear with it at weekends, thought I’d start taking a few before and after photos although the ‘after’ ones might be a long time coming as he’s working during the week.

You may remember that the previous occupant was a bit eccentric, shall we say, in her gardening methods and design and this birds’ eye view (or out of my sewing room window’s view) of the extreme right hand side of the front garden is a prime example.

Obviously Mr. T. had concerns about losing the wheelbarrow in the garden as he seems to have bought the most garish colour available 🙄

In her defence, Mr. Tialys has spotted lots of evidence – backed up by neighbour testimony – of a ground elder invasion.  However, he has decided to do away with a lot of the gravel, black plastic mulch and slate little by little and resort to a regular good digging over and perhaps some root barriers.  This small section is where he’ll start and the straight box hedge with no apparent purpose apart from to make it look as if it marks the end of our garden – which it doesn’t – will be dug up and planted alongside the path that runs along the front of the house instead.

I took this view of our lovely old oak tree because on a sunny(ish) day it started to rain but, on closer inspection, it was only raining from the tree.  It seems that any leftover frost from previous days had begun to melt in the admittedly weak heat from the sun and it rained down for a good twenty minutes or so.  I took a  photo from the front door porch but the raindrops haven’t shown up so you’ll just have to believe me.

It does, however, show the section on the other side of the little, irrelevant box hedge.  At the moment it is also covered in gravel and will probably become incorporated with the first section I showed you once the hedge is put to better use.

My sewing room is still a mess.  I’ve managed to get all the boxes unpacked – well, nearly – but now I can’t find anything.  Mr. T. said to push a couple of projects through and I’d start to find stuff out of necessity . I’m not  very motivated at the moment as, like most of us,  I don’t go anywhere to wear anything other than jeans and comfy tops and I have enough quilts and crocheted blankets to fill a much bigger house than we now have.

However!! In the last minute madness that accompanied our packing when leaving France for England, I made some strange choices as to what to leave behind and what to bring over.  As we haven’t sold the French house yet we were fortunate to be able  to leave quite a bit of stuff there to either be retrieved at some time in the future, sell it, give it away  or call in the house clearance company – it will probably be a combination of all those things.

Why did I pack a ‘posh’ dinner service we have had for 30 years and never use and eight – yes, eight – antique mannequins and then, on only the second day I could possibly have hung washing up to dry outside (well, it is winter and it is England) I realised I hadn’t packed the peg bag?

In a nod to the cows that were grazing in the field behind I found some fabric in deep stash (though what I’d originally intended it for I can’t imagine) and a pattern for a slightly different style than I’ve had before. This ‘wigwam’ style means I can use a trigger hook at the top to attach it to the washing line and it won’t blow off in the wind as the more common clothes hanger style tends to do and it was very slightly more challenging to make which forced me to employ some methods I haven’t used for too long now such as pattern cutting, making and attaching bias binding and some simple quilting.

In the process I finally set up both my sewing machine and overlocker, unearthed my rotary cutter and unpicker (hooray!) and used some fabric stash.  Plus, I think these would make good rat/hamster/insert other small pet/ beds which might be a fun item to put in my Etsy shop should I ever get round to stocking it again.

Since learning to crochet I’ve severely neglected my knitting and some yarn that escaped my pre-move cull was eighteen 400g balls of aran (medium worsted) weight yarn. I had six balls of three different colours because I used to make big chunky blankets with this wool which were made knitting six strands at a time on huge circular needles. You might remember if you’re a long term follower.

Everyone I know and love – and even one or two that I don’t – now has one of these blankets so I searched for a pattern I could use to make a comfy jumper for my daughter’s birthday next month and found this one.  Perfect lockdown wear.

I had some of the yarn in red fleck, black fleck and cream so chose the cream and this is as far as I’ve got.

I’d forgotten how long knitting takes compared to crochet.

A 400g ball of wool won’t fit in my usual yarn bowl so I put my huge Mason Cash mixing bowl into service – in case you were wondering.

Not to be outdone in the creative stakes Mr. Tialys made some rather nice shortbread which is one of the good things about having him working from home rather than in another country entirely and, although it’s taking some getting used to it definitely has more benefits than disadvantages.

 

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Just Checking In

After our move from France back to England, we are starting to settle in a bit in our new house and finding out new things.

Our big old oak tree is home to many different species of birds and has prompted Mr. Tialys to unearth his binoculars and run the risk of being marked down as a voyeur if anybody walking down the country lane behind spots him lurking behind the window.  Looking even more suspicious, I broke out my telescopic lens in order to spy on the wildlife.  No birds in the feeders in this photo but there are many, many rooks up in the high branches plus blue tits, long tailed tits, the occasional woodpecker, starlings, collared doves, wood pigeons, thrush, chaffinches, robins, etc. plus egrets and pheasants in the fields.

I worry about the effect our cats might have but I read that the more birds there are, the safer they are as they set up a clamour if they spot a cat and warn each other.  Certainly, the rooks go berserk if they see anything untoward.

Our new neighbours seem really nice as far as I can tell with socially distanced chatting – which is a relief after our recent experiences with one of our French neighbours.  One man in particular has endeared himself to me by telling us he has a routine before bed each night where his two Labradors lie on the floor for him to rub their tummies while he sings the song ‘yummy, yummy, yummy I’ve got love in my tummy’.  I love him already.

He told us the other day that we should keep the cats in because the local hunt was coming through.  The hunts now are not supposed to chase actual foxes but to follow a trail.  This claim is often disputed by animal rights organisations.  I have my own thoughts on the issue but it’s certainly not as crazy as the hunting with dogs they did in France every weekend throughout the hunting season using powerful rifles which, more often than desirable, wounded or killed other hunters or people hanging out their washing or chopping wood in their own gardens.

Still, out came the binoculars and camera when the horses and followers started to assembe on the distant hill.

The hunting dogs were released and once they appeared to pick up a scent the riders came down into the field.

The next thing was they were all trotting down the lane and disappeared out of sight so I’m not sure if anything came of it.

Meanwhile, the aforementioned cats had to stay inside for two weeks when we moved in so that they would become acclimatised to their new surroundings and not get lost when finally let out.  Having been on an unscheduled tour of Europe with the animal transporters (a whole different post!) followed by a stay in a cattery for a week waiting for us to arrive, I think they were used to confinement but Leon at least looked very miffed that he couldn’t sample the new ‘outside’.

Yuki seemed less bothered……..

if at all.

Although, when the time came to let them out, she was the first one to brave her new territory.

She still spends time ‘helping’ us unpack though.

If only they could help me with the mess that is my sewing room – the result of trying to squeeze in most of the contents of a room three times the size of the one available to me now.  Still, I’m grateful to have one at all in the new ‘dolls’ house’ so I don’t have to perch on a table in the dining room and pack everything away when finished for the day as I know is how some people have to manage.

It’ll be a while before anything new gets made in there though as the sewing machine isn’t set up yet and, anyway, we’ll have to keep the centre clear for the inflatable mattress Miss (not Mademoiselle any more) Tialys the Elder will sleep on when she comes for a couple of days at Christmas which is fair enough as this room is the biggest of the three bedrooms and I’ve nabbed it for my workroom.  I have a very indulgent husband.

In case I don’t have time to write another post before Christmas – and I haven’t managed many at all lately so it’s a distinct possibility – I’d like to wish you all as jolly a festive season as you can manage in these strange times and a healthy, happy and peaceful 2021.

Lynn xxx

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A Walkie Round The (New) Garden Part 2

‘How many kinds of decor can go

In an English country garden

I’ll show you now of some that I know

and a few you might find hard to pardon’

(with apologies to the original 18th century folk song ‘In An English Country Garden)

In part one, I gave you a glimpse of some of the ideas put into play in the garden by the previous owner of our new house.  Mr. Tialys is less than enamoured by the use of the black plastic mulch and gravel everywhere but he has since seen signs of the dreaded ground elder so at least he understands why she might have gone down that slightly ugly road.

She also had some weird and (sometimes) wonderful ideas about outdoor décor and I’ve been having fun seeking them out in nooks and crannies all over the garden.

I’ve always wanted a weather vane and this one on the garage roof is appropriate considering we are in an area with much horsey business going on as they stable and train racehorses in this area.

That one was easy to spot but the rest have been placed in semi-hidden places around the garden and I’ve been, by turns, delighted and astounded (!) by some of the choices.

I’ll leave you to decide which ones evoked which reaction,

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Which one is your favourite?  Would you give any of them house garden room?

I’ll give you a heads up and tell you that the last one is my favourite but that’s because we brought him with us from our garden in France much to the annoyance of the removal men because it weighs a ton.

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A Walkie Round The (New) Garden Part 1

One thing that has taken me by surprise now I’m back in England is that the days are so short- like my memory apparently seeing as I lived here for most of my life before my French adventure.  It’s not properly light until gone 8 in the morning an,d it’s almost dark by 4 in the afternoon, even on a fairly sunny day like today.  The days in France are also shorter in the winter obviously but, maybe because the weather was generally much better where we lived, the daylight seemed to last longer.

So, even though it was a relatively bright day today my photos of the garden don’t really reflect that.

As Cathy (of nanacathy blogging fame) did when she moved house earlier this year, we are looking at the garden and wondering what the changing seasons will bring.  Some things are obvious but I’m sure there’ll also be some surprises.

This massive old oak tree rules over part of the front garden and is often full of huge black crows but there are smaller birds in residence too, lots of blue tits, blackbirds, wrens and we’ve seen two types of woodpecker up there too.  A pair of binoculars has suddenly appeared from who knows where.  I’ve become a twitcher – who would have thunk it?

The former owner, perhaps in a moment of madness,  had two ponds built.

This is the large one and is full of fish.  Also, the pond plants look as if they will be glorious come Spring/Summer.

Spot the badger trail leading down to the pond from the field behind.

Apparently,the pond is so well balanced she never fed the fish nor needed to mess with the planting so, hopefully, it will be low maintenance.

This is the smaller pond which has no fish but apparently has frogs and newts at the appropriate time of year.

It’s tucked away in a corner of the garden – I’m imagining a bottle of wine and a couple of glasses completing this picture in the fullness of time.

Mind you, a bigger surprise than the short days – well, shock really – is the price of wine.  Lordy!  I’ll have to cut back my consumption of the fermented grape or do without food.

Some things in the garden seem a bit ‘niche’ – I’m being polite here.  The little hedge planted for no apparent reason and the shale path that leads nowhere will have to go (says Mr. Tialys).

Something else that will have to go is most of this black plastic stuff  – stop me if I’m being too technical – I know it keeps the weeds down but it also keeps other things down and it looks a bugger (says Mr. T.).

Indeed, he has already made a start and uncovered some rather nice looking soil – but then we are used to soil full of rocks having lived in the foothills of the Pyrénees.

The empty greenhouse awaits

as does this ex-chicken run which was more recently put to use for growing strawberries.

Anyway, anybody would think it was me going to work my fingers to the bone in this new garden,  Not at all.  I might pull the odd weed, prune a rose and dead head a daff from time to time but anything involving spade, fork or shovel is not my forte.  I would say it’s because fault would be found with anything I did in the garden by the head gardener but, although that is true, it is also a very good excuse.

I’ll just go off down the lane with the dogs for my exercise instead, dodging the horse poo and general mud – how I’ve missed hosing the dogs down after walks and wearing wellies.  I have some rather dapper shiny black ones although it’s actually hard to make the colour out after five minutes of ‘mud, glorious mud’.

More in Part 2.

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A Change of Scene

Well, we’re here at last.

Physically moving from France to England during lockdowns in both countries was actually easier than I would have supposed although it wasn’t without its ups and downs in the preparation stages!!

So, instead of seeing this view in front of my house

I’m now seeing this one

Fair exchange is no robbery as they say.

We’ve still got a lot of settling in to do and our internet connection is not yet sorted so I won’t be as visible in blogland as I usually am for a while but I just wanted you to let you know that mission has been accomplished.

Thank you so much for all your good wishes in the comments on my last post – they were much appreciated.

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The Last (French) Hurrah

If only I had known what a traumatic/dramatic/stressful/upsetting/labour intensive/expensive/all round pain in the arse moving house (and country) with five cats and two dogs would be during a global pandemic and just before the end of the Brexit transition period, I would have written a running blog about it and bored the pants off you.  Luckily (for you) it has been so ‘all of the above’ that I haven’t had the inclination, time or energy to write about it.  One day, when the memories fade, I might try to relay some of it as a warning to anybody thinking about doing something similar but, for now, the cats were picked up two days ago and we will follow next week with the dogs so, instead, I will show you the last projects I’ve managed to complete amidst the general disarray that my life and sewing room have become.

Just before I packed up the last of my sewing/knitting/crocheting/needle felting supplies in the umpteenth box, I thought it would be easier to finish this small quilt up so I could pack it flat instead of rolled around a cardboard tube which I did last year some time after spray basting the layers together.

I quilted it on the machine in a simple diagonal cross stitch – my quilting is not a thing of beauty so the simpler the better.

I backed it with some fabric I had rather a lot of and the reason for that is lost in the mists of time.

Then I bound it with some spotty fabric I’d used in a quilt I’d made for my niece’s new baby last year.

I had some pieces of panel left over and used them to make a titchy matching cushion with a hare on one side

and a rabbit on the other

so I’m thinking that cushion might mean I could enter for this month’s Scraphappy Challenge too, thus killing two projects with one stone.

If you think that’s cheating, I have another entry.  I found lots of things during my sewing room clear out and some fabrics I’d forgotten about were just crying out to be made into masks.

This has become my favourite mask pattern, very comfortable with full coverage of nose and mouth and, once I can crack the comfort of the ear loops, I should be on to a winner.

This was my favourite, modelled by my handsome young plaster head, yet to be packed.

When I sent her a photo, it also proved to be Mlle. Tialys the Elder’s favourite so off it went in an envelope to England.  I am determined to make another for myself when I can find my supplies again.

Anyway, back to  the small quilt which is destined to be artfully slung over the white wicker armchair – in  the manner shown below -placed in whichever room it will fit into in the dolls’ house we are moving to.

A full view of the finish so that you can be mightily impressed at the empty cubes behind, usually stuffed full and, if I’m honest, soon to be so again.

Next time I post I will be proper English again.  I’ll see you on the other side of the Channel. x

As I snuck in a bit of Scraphappy chat, and it’s the right day for it,  I’ll share the following with you

Scraphappy Day is organised by Kate & Gun for anybody who wants to make new things from scraps of any kind – doesn’t have to be fabric or yarn.  Here’s a list of participants – both regular and occasional – if you want to have a look at the sort of things you can do with scraps.

Contact Kate or Gun (first names on the list) if you want to join in.

Kate (me!)Gun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancyAlysKerryClaire,
JeanJon, HayleyDawnGwen, Connie, Bekki,
Sue L, Sunny, Kjerstin, Vera, Nanette, Ann and Kym

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24 Comments

Tight Lipped Tuesday #28

Trying not to totally disappear from the blogging scene whilst trying to buy and sell houses in different countries during a global pandemic, I remembered my ‘Tight Lipped Tuesday’ series of sparsely worded (for me) posts and, as luck would have it, it is Tuesday today and, as more luck would have it, I made something.

Home made granola because the commercially made stuff gives me terrible gas.

I know you’d want me to share that with you.

And if that wasn’t enough excitement for one day, I made some oat milk to go with it.

Anything to get away from packing boxes for half an hour or so.

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Sunday Snow

We’ve had a lot of rain over the past few days which fell as snow up in the mountains. It’s very early this year. It looks beautiful against today’s blue sky and this view from my house and garden is definitely something I’ll miss.

Still, I can’t wait to get back to England.

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Scrapping Scraps

This is the second time Scraphappy Day has come around and I have nothing to show for it.

Regular readers will probably be aware that I’m in a period of transition (housing wise) at the moment and am finding it difficult to concentrate on anything unrelated.

I am slowly but surely starting to sift through some of the outrageous stash of various craft supplies I have. (A nice sibilant sentence for you there. – Ooh, and another one 😄)

These are on their way to a new home

My cupboard, once full of balls of yarn now fallen out of favour and part balls of yarn not suitable for any of the sort of scrap blankets I’ve made for previous Scraphappy Days, is now (almost) empty.  The contents have been split between two local ladies – one who will use her share to make dog coats for the Twilight Retirement Home for Old and Disabled Dogs here in France and one who will use hers in a workshop she runs for children.

Of course there were other baskets, bags, etc. containing yarn scraps but too numerous (embarrassing) to show.

As the bedroom I will be commandeering in the new house for my workroom is probably a third the size of my current one – and will have to have a guest bed in it to boot – I don’t think I can justify taking my bins of cotton scraps, jersey scraps and selvedges (!!!) across the channel with me.

Again, more can be found in various bags and bin sacks but this will suffice to make my point.

Sad, but sacrifices have to be made and I daresay I will quickly build up more scraps once the dust has settled.

Meanwhile, my creative mojo is still missing, only emerging intermittently, which will explain why I still have only half a basset hound face on my worktable after a couple of months.

Those eyes look at me reproachfully every time I go in the workshop but I keep managing to resist.

If you want to see what could be made with all those scraps – and other types of scraps too – by people more focused than I am at the moment, see below.

 

Scraphappy Day is organised by Kate & Gun for anybody who wants to make new things from scraps of any kind – doesn’t have to be fabric or yarn.  Here’s a list of participants – both regular and occasional – if you want to have a look at the sort of things you can do with scraps.

Contact Kate (first name on the list) if you want to join in.

KateGun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Lynn (me), Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancyAlysKerryClaireJean,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawnGwen, Connie, Bekki, Pauline,
Sue L, Sunny and Kjerstin

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