I have known Darth since he was an egg
Back in 2006, 0ur four black hens went broody all at the same time and a neighbour gave us four fertile eggs for them to sit on. Only two hatched and the proud parents got off the nest to make sure their little peeping yellow puff balls were eating and keeping safe.
At this stage we had no idea if they were male or female and, by the time it was obvious that one of them was a male, we didn’t want to to do anything about it.
So, the hens got a cockerel and so did we – and so did the neighbours.
Here he is in his prime.
He had various hens passing through his harem and one of his original mothers is still alive. I suppose at one time his mothers became his lovers – fowl I know but that’s the way they roll in the chicken run.
He spent the next ten years or so making a lot of noise and probably upsetting quite a few people although they never said so – or not in so many words.
He survived several new dogs arriving who were not ‘chicken friendly’ at first and there was plenty of wishful thinking going on.
Regular readers will know he’s had a few problems lately including scabby legs, overgrown spurs (who remembers the hot potato treatment?) and wobbly spells but a ten year old cockerel is pretty unusual I think.
Saturday before last he slipped off this mortal perch and is hopefully now roosting on a higher one with the lovely smooth(ish) legs of his youth.
2006 – 2016
(Because even chickens deserve an obituary)
**Warning: Heavy with craft photos and dog related text but all for a good cause.
This is Taz my ‘who knows what mixture of breeds?’ dog – we have had him since he was a pup.
He’s getting on now and, at eleven years old, he’s going grey, losing his hair and getting a bit grumpy. Just like a lot of humans really. Much as I love him, he is a bit of a pain in his dotage. He spends his days foraging for food, grumbling at the cats, lying across the kitchen floor in front of the fridge/cooker/cupboard/wherever you need to get to and bumping into things as his sight is going. He spends his evenings sleeping, snoring and ‘scenting’ the air with the gaseous results of his aforementioned foraging and his nights wandering the corridor and aimlessly scraping at doors before sinking into a deep sleep.
I can only imagine then, what it must be like to care for 30 old dogs in your own home. I don’t think I could do it but, luckily, there are people that can. Mike and Leeanne came to France from the U.K. and have somehow found themselves dedicated to the care and comfort of elderly and disabled dogs by starting the Twilight Retirement Home for Dogs or, as we are in France, Twilight Maison de Retraite pour les chiens you can read all about them here .
This Saturday we are holding a fundraising event for Twilight and, although I don’t do craft fairs as a rule, I’m going along with some of my wares to see if we can’t help with the food, extensive vet bills and general running costs of caring for so many ‘retired’ dogs all in one place that Mike and Leanne face.
Of course, I will have my dog collars for sale….
Some dog bandanas……
some simple tote bags (who let the cats in?)……..
some more cats disguised as angels……
a couple of knitted dog coats…….
a few key fobs made with the leftover dog collar materials……
the results of my recent foray into needlecases……
some mini poufs that have been taking up space in my workroom for a little while…….
likewise some doorstops……
four or five padded message boards……
a set of coasters…..
a rather fetching linen handbag I made which has Eiffel Towers on the lining fabric – très chic …..
partridge in a pear tree an owl with a Christmas tree
I just hope there will be people looking to buy some stocking fillers and I don’t come home with all of it . I usually do my part by buying home made cakes (especially the ginger cake and Christmas pudding as they aren’t easy to come by here and Debbie makes some scrummy ones), the bottle tombola (the bottles are generally full of something alcoholic) , some second hand books and whatever else takes my fancy.
I can always go and fling myself around in Zumba next Saturday but I’ll leave the last words to Mike and Leeanne to explain how Twilight came about.
We started Twilight in the summer of 2009, in memory of losing our Kizzy, and needing to find a friend for our elderly but happy retriever, Teg.
It became evident, searching the pounds and refuges, that if you were an old
dog, life was not always so good, and your ending might be premature and/or without dignity.
So now we offer limited places for elderly dogs who are lost, abandoned or bereaved of their owners.
We are not a formal refuge, just mere volunteers with the time, space and love to share our calm home with the dogs ?en famille?. Twilight, La Maison de Retraite pour Les Chiens, the old doggies home.
The first snow has appeared on the mountains opposite our house. Despite taking this from my bedroom window on the top floor, I couldn’t omit the wires but there you go – that’s the reality, I won’t whitewash it. I could have gone out in the back garden and taken it I suppose but I happened to be in the bedroom when the photography mood came upon me.
Anyway, with the snow my knitting mojo comes back into play although this embryonic lacy scarf doesn’t look as if it would keep anybody particularly warm but I had a 25g ball of Rowan Kidsilk Haze left over from the boyfriend cardigan I made last year and Sheila at Sewchet made some beautiful scarves with this pattern last year so I was inspired. I’ve never knitted lace before and I found the first few rows a little difficult – I kept losing count of the stitches because the yarn is so fine – but once the pattern started to establish itself I was away. I didn’t thread beads on to the first row as the pattern (available here for free) has you do because I’m not sure the intended recipient is a ‘beady’ person and also, that might have been a step too far for my tolerance with ‘fiddly’.
What bothers me a little is how this scarf is going to grow long enough to go round somebody’s neck. I appear to have used about a third of the 25g ball already and it’s supposed to end up around 53inches (135cm) long and the bit above is only about 8 inches so I can’t see that happening. Does a miracle happen at the blocking stage?
Unlike with sewing, I don’t normally have two knitting projects on the go at once but, as the lace will be a gift, I had to make a start on it and I had already begun a second Drew (boyfriend cardigan) in a different colourway as I already had half the yarn I needed to make another one. As you can see below, the fine Kidsilk Haze is knitted together with Rowan Kid Classic so is much easier to handle than the skinny one on its own.
Last year I knit a jumper while my Mum was visiting because she knits and we can have some mother daughter bonding time over the needles. I sort of knew I wasn’t going to like it much so, once finished, it languished in my ‘I Like Big Balls and I Cannot Lie’ knitting bag all summer waiting to be sewn up.
The sleeves were supposed to be holey too but I didn’t do that for a reason I now can’t remember but I’m glad anyway.
It’s O.K. but I don’t love it.
What I do like is the shape – it’s quite hard to find a knitting pattern that is fitted and has a nice scoop neck.
The yarn – and pattern – is from James C. Brett and it’s called Marble Chunky, in case you’re interested.
I like the variegated colour and, if I were to knit it again, which I won’t, but if I did, I would omit the holes from the front too.
As with the vast majority of my knitted garments, I will probably only wear this ‘around the house’ as, although I love to knit, I’m not a big knitwear wearer. Bizarre I know.
It’s always good to end with a cat (or dog) photo in my opinion so here is one of Mac who climbed into my antique bowl while I was trying to photograph it for my shop. (It is a very big bowl)
I was going to use it as a product photo but thought it might put people off who are allergic to cats but it was too cute to waste so I’m sharing it with you instead.
When Mr. T’s birthday pressie didn’t look as if it would arrive on time – it was coming from China – I was panicking to think of something I could give him so that he didn’t have to look all stoically brave yet secretly upset that he didn’t have anything to open apart from his birthday card.
I’ve mentioned before that he has embarked on making leather goods – mainly handbags (hoorah!) – so he does need a certain amount of sewing equipment including needles and, being a bloke (and an untidy one at that) he tends to scatter his haberdashery items around the table top in the shed. I love any excuse to use the word ‘haberdashery’ it’s one of my favourite words – the French word for it is ‘mercerie’ which doesn’t sound nearly so exciting.
Anyway, I decided to make him a needlecase so that he can keep all his leatherworking needles in one place and off the floor where our dogs could step on them on their way through the shed into the garden as, unlike us, they don’t wear slippers in the house.
I used all scraps for this so, conveniently, it allows me to link to Kate’s Scrappy Happy day this month.
I didn’t give him my stork scissors – they are in their just for photographic purposes but I haven’t seen my seam ripper for a while and, I don’t know about you, but I can’t survive long without mine.
His present did turn up on the day in the end so he got a bonus and all feet and paws will be safer.
While I was at it, I made another one which will be a stocking filler for Mlle. Tialys the elder – she says she reads my blog but seems suspiciously ignorant of anything I put on it so I think the secret is safe
I can’t really claim this one as a scrap project as the cover fabric was new but the rest is from the scrap bin.
Finally I’ve found a use for the Kam snaps I seem to have a stock of too.
Did I say ‘stocking filler’? That brings me to the subject of Christmas and as it’s such a miserable Monday – weather wise and world news wise – I thought I’d cheer you up by giving you the links to the annual battle of the ads designed to win your hearts at this time of year between Sainsbury’s and John Lewis. If you’re in the U.K. you might already have seen them. Manipulatively sentimental, of course, but both beautifully done. I bet you can guess which one is my favourite.
I don’t know who was more excited today – me or the dog.
Of course, she was only interested in the cardboard box but this was inside
My new baby.
With jet air threading and no fiddling with tension, I won’t know I’m born.
Can’t wait to run up a wrap dress or two.
I could have ordered it here in France but I wanted to use my U.K. bank account to pay for it and I have used this company in the U.K. several times before and have always found them to offer an excellent service. Plus, it was free delivery even to France.
Look at all the free goodies I got too.
There’s a blind hem foot, an elastic foot and a beading foot and even though I’ve never felt the need to put beads on a garment before, you just never know. Bless them, they even included an adaptor plug as I’m in foreign parts.
I’m a little worried about this though.
It brings to mind the card in the back of the seat in front on aircraft that you have to look at but it scares the life out of you when you do. I always cringe when they say ‘when you hear the words ‘brace, brace’, ‘ and fervently hope that I never do.
I haven’t had a play yet because I want at least a clear afternoon when I can closet myself away with my new baby so that we can bond.
I’ll let you know how we get on.
For any of you who sent good wishes for Stan and his dodgy foot – I’m afraid it didn’t clear up with the anti-inflammatory tablets so, this morning., the vet removed it. The cyst, not the foot.
He’s not a happy chap.
It appears to have been an interdigital cyst or furuncle(!) which means she had to mess with the webbing between his toes and try to stitch it back up again without joining two toes together – at least I think that’s what she said. Now I know what it is I have been doing some research online and it appears that some consider surgery to be a last resort – rather than a second one – or even not something to be considered at all and some say that the cyst can come back again. So now I’m worried that I shouldn’t have just taken the vet’s word for it and, instead, bathed it with an athlete’s foot solution or Epsom Salts or even changed his diet as some people claim they have had success with. Sometimes the Internet is a double edged sword :(
Still, what’s done is done and I will change the dressing after 3 days, keep giving him the antibiotics and the vet will look at it again after a week. The offending item has been sent off for analysis so let’s hope there is no bad news from that.
In the meantime, I have to contend with a demented, animated lampshade that is desperate to run about on 3 feet, play ball and forage for fallen figs as he did before the cone of shame was fitted. The cats are terrified of him in his new guise.
Please keep all those fingers and paws crossed for the time being and I’ll keep you updated.
It’s October now – so can I say ‘Santa’?
Do you have lots of friends and family who understand just what a sewing/knitting/crochet addict wants for Christmas? If you have, you’re lucky. I find it difficult to make a wish list for my family unless it’s very specific and then that spoils the surprise.
For the third year running, Sheila who blogs over at Sewchet, has the answer.
She is organising Stitching Santa again .
In a Christmas nutshell :-
Sheila will partner you with somebody in your category – you can participate in the one for Knitting/Crochet or the one for Sewing – or you can enter both. I am!
If you don’t already follow that person’s blog, it is a good idea to ‘blog stalk’ them to get an idea of their likes and dislikes and their taste in general.
You send a parcel containing a gift costing no more than £10 (other currencies shown over at Sheila’s blog) and anything else you think your recipient would like such as little handmade gifts, accessories, notions, etc.
You will receive a parcel in return (woohoo!) which you should put under the tree until Christmas morning even though you might be tempted to squeeze and manhandle it a little
You can enter from anywhere in the World and Sheila will try to match you up so the shipping costs aren’t too bad.
For full details and to register, go over and register on Sheila’s Stitching Santa page here
I entered last year and it was great fun to choose gifts to include in the parcels and to have pressies under the tree that I knew would be themed especially for me and my sewing and knitting habits.
Sorry, I think I put the ‘C’ word in there somewhere as well but there’s only about 84 sleeps left.
For all of you that were concerned about the nasty thing on Stan’s paw I’m pleased to say that it appears to have shrunk to nothing after his course of anti-inflammatory tablets. I will keep an eye on it but, for the moment, he is back to normal which means he is constantly worrying the life out of me to throw a ball for him
To celebrate I spent some rare moments making sweet things. I could probably hold the Bake Off in my kitchen with the amount of equipment we have despite the fact we are not really big dessert/pudding/cake eaters – although Mr. Tialys can put a whole McVities Digestive biscuit in his mouth at once – and does – sometimes until the biscuit tin is empty. Anyway I made these Coconut, Cherry, Chocolate Fingers and very nice they
are were too.
In the photograph accompanying the recipe I made these from (which you can find below if interested), the coconut part was very white but our ‘home grown’ eggs make everything we use them in turn very, very yellow so that’s why mine don’t look the same. That, and the fact that I haven’t cut mine into delicate fingers but rather little slabs.
When you see some interesting looking fabric that says 110cm wide x 2.8m long for 4 euros you just have to go for it even if there’s a sign saying you’re not allowed to unroll it. One of our rare charity shops has lots of such rolls and I suppose, if you ask one of the volunteers to have a better look, they would let you but I like surprises.
It had a sort of Liberty look about it. Anyway this is the fabric unrolled.
The panels run down the length of the fabric.
So this is it turned on its side.
It’s pretty but what could I make with it? I don’t know what the fabric is but it has a very nice drape to it. The only thing I can think of is a summery maxi dress for next year (or a midi dress as I’m short but not that short) or a maxi skirt also for next summer. Anybody have any other ideas? Have you had any experience with this sort of panelled fabric? They must have a purpose in mind when they manufacture it mustn’t they?
Out of interest, I did a burn test on the fabric to see if I could tell what it was. I do like an experiment especially if it involves flame but, typically, my results were inconclusive as it seemed not to fit any of the categories given in the burn test list you can find here. This burnt brightly with a yellow flame and didn’t melt or smell icky but it didn’t leave a soft grey ash. It left a black residue but it crushed easily so wasn’t a ‘bead’. I think it must be a blend but there is definitely something natural in there.
Stan is very grateful for you all keeping your fingers and paws crossed for him and would like to invite you for a game of ball any time you have a few hours to spare.
Be warned, I got tendonitis!!
Coconut, Cherry & Chocolate Fingers
200g dessicated coconut
85g caster sugar
150g dark chocolate chips
85g glacé cherries, halved
2 eggs, beaten
150g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
Combine the coconut, sugar, choc chips and cherries in a bowl until evenly distributed then mix in the
eggs to make a gooey paste. Spoon the mixture into a 30cm x 20cm brownie tin that you’ve lined with baking
parchment and spread evenly with a wooden spoon, packing it down firmly. Bake for 20 minutes at 180°C/Gas 4
until golden brown and set. Melt the chocolate pieces carefully
(in a bowl over hot water or watched like a hawk in 20 second bursts in the microwasve is best)
and pour over the top of baked mixture spreading evenly
over the top. Leave to cool in tin, cut into fingers with a sharp knife and refrigerate until well set.