Archive for category Pets & Problems
Having honed my crochet skills on blankets – an ongoing process by the way – I’ve never tried amigurumi. Difficult enough to say the word, I’d always intended to give this sort of crochet a go and even bought a couple of pattern books but, when the Dog one came out it was a ‘had to have’.
Not that I need more dogs in my life but I thought, if they were quick and easy enough, they might be a good thing to sell in aid of Twilight, the home for old and disabled dogs I support.
It will be a while before I get to the long haired varieties like this.
So I thought I’d start with a beginner pattern – a little labrador
Searching through my yarn stash, it became clear that I had no ‘neutral colours’ i.e. black, grey, white, cream in the required thickness. However, I did have some oatmeal coloured yarn in ‘Chunky’ which meant, if I wanted to make a start straight away, I’d have to do the large sized dog – there are three sizes to choose from for each dog – it’s just the size of the crochet hook and the thickness of the yarn that changes. So that’s what I’m doing – not a little labrador but a large labrador.
Any resemblance to a big butternut squash is purely coincidental.
For scale see the vintage wig stand behind which is, more or less, about the size of an actual human head.
I wouldn’t mind but the dog’s head is a slightly smaller butternut squash which I will attempt to balance atop the body once I’ve got the legs on for stability. I’ll let you know how that goes
The Twilight Easter Fair fundraiser is next Saturday where we are raising money to make life more comfortable for the for old and disabled dogs who have been abandoned or who have been separated from their owners for one reason or another. I don’t think I’ll be churning these out quickly enough to be able to put them up for sale by then – certainly not at this size – but I’ll have to buy in some neutral colours in double knitting yarn in order to make some smaller ones which – looking into the future – might be ready for the Christmas Fair and, by that time, I might have progressed to the shaggier versions.
Meanwhile, I have another nine Twilight tea towels to turn into aprons before next Saturday so I’d better leave ears, legs and tail until after then.
The weather here continues to be complete pants and the real dogs are bored.
Flo couldn’t even be bothered to choose which woolly doggy she wants me to crochet for her to play with.
You may remember that last year my dogs ate the plums from our trees from the unripe to rotting stage and would do so all day long if allowed to. The evenings were not pleasant.
Mr. T. decided that he would cut all twelve trees down as they are very old and the plums are not particularly nice anyway – well, at least we didn’t think so. The fig trees are also a doggy favourite but I couldn’t quite part with them so they are staying for the moment.
In future, all fruit trees will be planted on the other side of the fence that cordons off a part of the garden that the dogs haven’t got access to (apart from when they dig holes and get under the fence).
All three dogs have now discovered acorns so our walks are slowed down considerably by them snuffling around eating all the acorns they can find but, luckily, these do not seem to produce the gaseous emissions that plums do so I’m not overly worried about it although I must check they’re not toxic to dogs or anything. (Update: Yes, they are – please see note at the bottom of the post). I truly believe my dogs will eat anything – the more disgusting the better.
I have also become a bit more squirrel this month and have reverted to my old habit of hoarding fabric. I made a pair of trousers at long last and, flushed with success, placed an order for dressmaking fabric in the mistaken belief that I need more clothes or that Mlle. Tialys the Younger will be persuaded into dresses any time soon. The trouble is, dresses are my favourite clothing item to make but I live in jeans and so does Mlle. T. What am I to do? I think perhaps a solution might be to make more ‘tops’. That way I can indulge myself with nice fabric and make pretty things but put jeans on underneath. Of course, that might mean I’ll have to buy more patterns as most of mine are for dresses.
I have a clear cutting table at the moment while I await Mr. T’s return from the U.K. with my latest haul so I will make a second pair of trousers while I remember how to do it.
Meanwhile, I am making progress with the Eastern Jewels crochet blanket and have joined the first two rows together – only two more to go! The more I do, the more I love it, the less I feel I will be able to part with it.
I took some time off from the crochet to knit up a couple of cotton dishcloths in my bid to cut down wasteful buying of kitchen towels, etc. but I’ve only managed two so far. I’m going to try crochet ones next as they will probably be quicker.
I’ve also been making waxed wraps in an attempt to cut down on single use plastic such as cling film but they are in use around cheese and the tops of bowls. When I make some new ones – using beeswax this time instead of pure soy wax – I’ll show you some pics.
My fabric arrived from Laughing Hedgehog – don’t you just love the name – a company I hadn’t used before but they had the French General fabric I was looking for to back my Shabby Union Jack.
I was very lucky because I had ordered 1.5m which was being very optimistic but this was apparently the end of bolt so she kindly put all 1.8 m in for me which turned out to be just right. I used the plain grey/brown for binding and, as you can see, decided to put a sleeve in just in case it ended up as a wall hanging rather than a throw.
Here it is as a throw
and here is the long, plain corridor – leading to the loo and Mlle. T. the Younger’s
chamber of horrors bedroom – where it might end up on the wall.
I think it needs a bit of something don’t you?
I’ll let you know where it ends up.
I did eventually Google the risks and found this amongst lots of other warnings –
Exposure to acorns in dogs is common in the autumn and winter months. The toxic ingredient is thought to be tannic acid, which can cause damage to the liver and kidneys. Signs include vomiting, diarrhoea (with or without blood), abdominal pain, inappetance and lethargy. Ingested acorns can also cause an intestinal blockage.
So, best not let your dog be more squirrel after all.
Last Saturday I was supposed to be helping out at a fund raiser for Twilight the retirement home for old and disabled dogs here in France which I think I’ve told you about before. It’s run by a British couple who take in dogs who would otherwise be spending the rest of their lives on a concrete floor at the back of a refuge somewhere being ignored by prospective owners – and that would be the lucky ones! You can read about their work here.
Anyway, I wasn’t able to help set up on the Friday afternoon so arrived early on Saturday morning but our esteemed team leader and champion cake maker Deb was in a state because she had just found a dog on the side of the road which she thought might have been hit by a car as his eye looked swollen and red and he was holding his head on one side. She wanted him taken to a vet to be scanned for a microchip and his state of health assessed but she couldn’t leave the venue and her husband doesn’t speak French so I went with him and the dog to find a vet open on a Saturday morning which happened to be the one right near my house that I’d left just half an hour before.
Here’s the little chap – a French bulldog who has definitely seen better days.
The waiting room was packed so I told Deb’s husband to leave me there and I’d call him when we’d been seen.
All the other patients seemed to be tiny little yorkshire terrier puppies and pristine white kittens waiting for their first vaccinations and there I was with this little fleabag straight from a horror film.
I sat up one end of the waiting room hoping that his gaseous offerings would not offend too many people. They did. A window was opened. Many fleas were visible on his body where his constant scratching had caused him to suffer from eczema and lose his hair in patches. I could sense people moving away from us and clutching their pets closer torn between sympathy and disgust.
I took him out to see if he wanted to do his ‘business’ in the vet’s garden and, when we went back inside and sat in the same seat, I noticed the floor was wet and could smell something that reminded me of flea spray. The nurse had taken the opportunity in our absence to spray all around where we’d been sitting in case we infected all the others. The shame! I felt like a pariah and he wasn’t even mine. I did make it clear to the assembled pet owners when we first arrived that we had found him that morning but as he kept putting his little paws up on my knees and gazing at me adoringly, I’m not sure they believed me.
The good news is he was microchipped and, even more miraculously, we managed to get hold of his owner who met us back at the venue and I was prepared to give her what for but it turned out she seemed to be guilty of casual neglect – mostly due to lack of funds – rather than cruelty. We would have preferred her to have signed the little chap over to us so we could then get him properly treated – that eye will probably need to be removed – but she promised me she’d go and at least discuss treatment with the vet. I don’t think there’s any equivalent of the P.D.S.A. or Blue Cross organisations where people with financial problems can take their animals for cheaper veterinary treatment although I might be wrong.
Anyway, I finally got back to the venue at midday and they obviously managed without me because we raised a nice amount for Twilight which was brilliant considering we were only really selling cakes, bric-a-brac, second hand books and clothes and holding a raffle.
I had pre-ordered one of Deb’s gorgeous ginger cakes which are always just the right sort of stickiness but I wasn’t keen on the label.
I’m more of a strawberry blonde.
So, a day of high and lows and I hope the little dog gets the treatment he needs for his eye and his skin and flea infestation.
Still, it could be worse, he could be a magpie.
75 euros if anybody wants me to go back to the junk shop and get it for them.
The little dog has now been taken to the vet by his owner, his eye has been treated and he is no longer constantly scratching. Perhaps we made the owner sit up and take notice and, in that case, I consider my two hours in the waiting room with a flea ridden, red eyed, farty dog time well spent. Let’s hope she doesn’t allow him to get in that state again.
In keeping with my pledge to add to my Liberty Hatbox wall hanging project at the end of each month I’m afraid I have failed miserably as I still can’t decide on the final block.
So, I made another one.
I won’t bore you rigid with the choices I face again but I’m still not sure and now I think I’ve made it worse by having three to choose from instead of two. Kate, on the other hand, is making great progress and has started hand quilting (yes hand quilting) her full size quilt and putting me to shame. See and admire here.
So that’s the hatbox pledge dealt with which would make for a very short post indeed .
Your hopes, however, are dashed!
Did I mention Liberty of London fabric? I think I told you they had a sale and I think I told you I indulged. I’m not sure I realised there were actual skyscrapers on this fabric when I ordered it but, now I know, I like it even more. The simple shell top on this New Look pattern that had come free with a magazine seemed just the thing….
and so it was.
I’ve decided I have a back problem in that nearly everything I make gapes a little at the back of the neck. I think I have narrow shoulders in comparison to my bust so, next time, I’m going to cut a wedge out of the centre top of the back bodice and see if that fixes it – a tip I found on By Hand, London. Unless anybody has any better ideas.
Also, I bought this astrology themed tana lawn in the Liberty sale to make a shirt for Mr. Tialys who had a hand in choosing the fabric.
I’ve never made a man’s shirt before but thought it was time I gave it a go as my wardrobe is full, one daughter makes her own clothes, the other doesn’t much care about clothes so that leaves the husband (or the pets and don’t think I might not go there!).
I chose the Negroni by Colette as it’s a nice, casual style but with some interesting features, it has good reviews and there is a very detailed sew along (from about six years ago!) on the Male Pattern Boldness blog so what could go wrong? Actually, so far, very little. I’m working on a muslin using fabric that was more expensive than the tana lawn due to the fact that there was 60% off in the Liberty sale but I always hope my muslins (when I actually bother to make one) will be wearable otherwise I get upset if all the work comes to nought – apart from ensuring you’re making the right size of course which is the main purpose of them after all.
Anyway – how’s this for a flat felled seam?
An inside view of course – the fabric is dark on the outside and I certainly wasn’t confident enough to use contrasting thread so you wouldn’t be able to make it out. This is the first time I’ve tackled a real flat felled seam, although I did mock ones on Tilly and the Buttons’ Rosa dress, and I’m pleased with the way this one turned out. I say ‘this one’ because the other one didn’t turn out quite as neat but I’m not going to show you that now am I?
Did somebody mention a sale by the way?
Fifty six 50g balls of cotton double knitting yarn in all the shades in the range and no, I don’t know what I’m going to do with them, thank you for asking.
Mr. Tialys is still creating awesome leather things in his ‘spare’ time which is strange because I didn’t think he had any of that or that’s what he tells me if I ask him to do anything in the house or garden 😉
This is a laptop bag he designed himself and is in the kind of leather that already looks as if it’s been ‘lived in’ which is the kind I like.
I decided to have a clear out in the cupboard in the conservatory and threw some stuff in a box ready to go to the charity shop.
I know I sometimes get fed up with having so many animals but I haven’t quite resorted to this yet.
What is it with cats and cardboard boxes anyway?
WARNING: Photo Heavy and mainly of dogs, cats and plantlife – look away now if you are here for knitting/crochet/sewing/baking.
When Alys at ‘Gardening Nirvana‘ recently compiled a video of the lovely plants in her Californian garden, I commented that we didn’t grow cultivated sweet peas (she has lots and lots) but we do have wild ones up on the hillside and she said she’d be interested in seeing some of my garden so I took my camera with me on the morning dog walk and, even though the wild sweet peas aren’t in bloom yet and we are desperate for rain, here it is now in mid-April in S.W. France in the midi-Pyrenees. Our garden is very large and very steep and terraced. We only plant up the first couple of terraces – the rest we keep brushcut but only lightly so that it is a haven for insects and birds. ((Note, the use of the word ‘we’. It should really be ‘he’)
Sometimes one of the cats accompanies us …….
….and sometimes one of the dogs spots it
He should have paid attention to the notice! I put this here at the top of the garden to prevent people thinking it’s a public footpath although it doesn’t always work.
This Judas Tree has been quite spectacular in previous years but seems to be getting a bit old now and the purple flowers are a bit more sparse. You can see it from Montségur which is on the green mound just underneath the highest snowy peak opposite. The Château de Montségur is famous as the last Cathar stronghold, which fell after a 10 month siege in 1244. A field below the hilltop castle is reputed to be the site where over 200 Cathars were burned alive, having refused to renounce their faith. It’s quite a climb up to the ruins but the views are amazing and it gives me the opportunity, when my heartbeat has returned to normal and I can speak again, to say ‘you can see our house from here’.
Back on our walk – Flo usually leads the way.
I keep Stan on the lead on the way up, and Flo on the way down, otherwise they tend to run off together and make mischief – which usually involves fox poo and a wash down afterward.
Taz is our old boy who usually brings up the rear.
Somebody has made a little monument. I don’t know who as we don’t walk on the public footpath and it is rare to see anybody else up here. The hunters come through in the season but I can’t imagine them faffing about with something like this. I like to think it’s a secret admirer who has found an ‘L’ shaped rock and placed it as a little message to me. Actually, I hope not as that would be beyond creepy.
Although the wild sweet peas aren’t out yet, the wild orchids are.
Back down through the garden gate now and the ball game can begin.
Though somebody is only interested in the newly turned out compost bin contents.
I love this viburnum which, soon, will turn white and look like lots of little snowballs.
Phlox does very well here and this is growing over one of our many dry stone walls.
A beautiful tree peony being photobombed by Flo.
The chooks in their lilac bower. This is just one of many lilacs we have and the scent in the late evenings and early mornings is lovely.
A tiny yellow rose growing up another stone wall on our terrace. It blooms its little heart out for ages and, if we’re lucky, we get a second flush of flowers a bit later on.
Just in case you were worried about Leon.
He made it down the tree and back down the garden safely.
He’s not a year old yet and not a large framed cat and I couldn’t understand why he has such a saggy tum.
After a bit of research I discovered that some cats are genetically prone to something called a ‘primordial pouch’. This is meant to protect their internal organs from damage in a cat fight and also provides extra space to stuff with food in times of shortage. It also gives them more leeway to bend and stretch . That’s something new I’ve learnt and also saved money by not buying special diet food from the vet. So, if you have a cat that looks a bit saggy underneath, this may well be the reason. I wonder if the same principle can be applied to muffin tops.
I’m not fat – it’s my primordial pouch.
Last but not least – the first poppies are opening.
How’s your garden doing at the moment – is it too dry like ours or are you having too much rain? Are there plants you would really like to grow but aren’t suited to your soil or climate? I would love some foxgloves but they wouldn’t grow well here
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.
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.
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.