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Wedding anniversary

♥Sep. 15th, 2017 // 07:13 pm
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Today was out wedding anniversary.

I made Mike a card:

(I've only had the book on paper quilting for a year, after all!) Worth clicking to embiggen, ifIdosaysomyself.

Mike very kindly did all the mucking out.

(While he did so, I took Jo to the vet. Over the last week or so, she's been occasionally yelping or whining, but it's got more frequent and last night she had a particularly bad spell that involved her making a noise for a minute or so. The vet couldn't find anything particularly, but did think she was maybe not *quite* so keen to take her weight on one of her front legs. It may also be a neck thing, although she did have a good feel around there. Short walks and more painkiller than usual for a week, and we'll see how she goes on.)

We had a quiet lunch at home.

(During which I took some ibuprofen for a headache and Mike had a migraine pill)

After lunch, and Jo's walk, we headed off to darkest Sussex to look at a horse.

He's called Thunder Joe, a name which is definitely going to be unused in full.

We liked him enough to ride, and it seemed to go quite well.

Even if it did hail while I was on him, and we were in a field with overly-long grass, which is one of my least favourite places to ride.

We'll go back and see him again next week, with riding instructor, using a school that they can borrow just down the road.

If riding instructor answers her text messages....

Afterwards, we headed home again.

I'm not sure how the day has been utterly exhausting, but we're both worn out now!

We had a lovely special anniversary dinner...

(Party-left-over soup from the freezer, and the other half of the loaf of bread that neither of us ate much of for lunch

...and now we're on the sofa with a bottle of wine.

Thankfully, Mike did a run to France yesterday!
Link4 kisses // Who loves you?


♥May. 22nd, 2017 // 06:41 pm
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So I may have got the garden weeded but I did it at the expense of my wrists, which have been very sore for the past few days. I've been trying to rest them, which is frustrating as I have things that I want to be doing!

It's also a pain for Mike, who keeps having to do things like follow me around the garden while I point at places where he needs to dig up weeds or plant out seedlings. Still, "we"'ve got most of the veg bed planted out now, so hopefully it will all get on with growing and making tasty food. About the only useful gardening that I can do at the moment is watering things and pulling up nettles, which means I'm covered in stings!

On the assumption that it was actually a combination of gardening and cutting out pieces for quilts wot done it, I've put aside the quilt I started last week until I'm doing a bit better. I did, this afternoon, have a go at making a block for a different quilt on the grounds that it's paper pieced and so involves less repetitive/precise cutting of fabric. I'm quite pleased with the results, but my wrists aren't. Sigh.

The whole quilt will have the dark blue and cream fabrics in the background, and then I've got a range of different blue and cream fabrics for the stars.

The Up-The-Hill's came for dinner at weekend, which was nice and (we think) went well. Various amusing but not unexpected things about TWWOTV, including the fact that she's already not speaking to them although they're not sure why!
Link7 kisses // Who loves you?

Things we have done

♥May. 17th, 2017 // 08:11 pm
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The swallows have come back: we've seen lots of activity in the last few days, including plenty of flying in and out of the stable, so we didn't scare them off. Phew!

The bird 'flu restrictions are, finally, over, which is also a big phew. The ducks are very happy to be back in the garden, and it's meant that we could put the boys in the stableyard, which was getting rather overgrown, so that the field could have a rest. It's currently raining steadily, and set to keep doing so for a few more hours (another phew!), so hopefully the grass will be able to get a bit of growing done tomorrow without being instantly munched back to nothing.

It's been quite hot for the last couple of days, so the Jug Of Minty Water has reappeared in the fridge:

It was much appreciated this afternoon when I came in from weeding the jungle front bed, which is always a sod and got away from me rather this winter, not helped by the lack of ducks disturbing the weeds. It's taken me a week, but at least it's not quite a Forth Bridge job.

I finished off the quilt from my workshop:

("How did you get it done so quickly?" someone asked me at a fabric sale last weekend. "I've had my mother-in-law staying..." I replied. Then she mocked me because I was carrying bolts of fabrics in two solid greys and three beige patterns, so I picked up a plain teal as well and bought some just to show her!)

Does anyone fancy having a go at some orchid identification? I'm stumped by this one, which is potentially more troubling than it would otherwise be as it's in the field we borrow in the summer and I don't want to let the boys near it if it's rare!

It's probably just an odd common spotted, but.... It's not monkey or military, or an insect one. The pink buds make it look like a burnt, which I don't think we get around here and the petals aren't right for anyway. The petal colours look a bit like a chalk fragrant, which is local, but the shape is wrong. That pink border, and the lobe shape, have me quite stumped. It *might* be a lady, but I can't see any 'arms'. They do have the pink buds, and the two-lobes on the petals, though. Hmm. I might go and have another look at it tomorrow....
Link6 kisses // Who loves you?


♥May. 10th, 2017 // 06:02 pm
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I think it's pretty much done other than stitching it all together....

Link2 kisses // Who loves you?

All change

♥May. 10th, 2017 // 03:19 pm
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I've just got around to taking the LJ links out of my style sheet. I guess I've really given up on it, now! One of these days, I suppose I should switch to using a modern style: I'm still on a legacy LJ S2 style....

I had Quilt Club at weekend, including a class on Sunday (fortunately, it turned out that the speaker / tutor was far better at the latter than at the former) where we did a modern take on log cabin blocks.

This is what the class produced:

(Mine are the six entirely beige/grey ones about just over half way up the left hand side of the table. "That fabric's very... grey," said Teddy in disapproval when I showed it to him.)

I've done a bit more on it since, and am probably going to do a bit more again shortly. It's been quite interesting, and I'm enjoying it far more than 'proper' log cabin blocks on account of not having to be super careful about cutting the fabric to exactly the right size.

Mostly today I've been gardening. I've potted on almost all the tomatillos and most of the small chillis, and I've planted out the tomatoes, aubergines and peppers in the polytunnel:

(We did have a frost last night, but the thermometer in there recorded a low of 0.0C with the doors open, so they should be safe.)

Unfortunately, I did it a bit on autopilot and forgot that The Plan was to put one of each tomato variety outside thus leaving a grow bag spare for the big chillis, so they'll have to go in the conservatory instead. Which means that it's a good job that I didn't have enough compost to pot on all the tomatillos, as I'll need pots to do that!

Now that I've watered them all in, the polytunnel smells even more of wet dog than it did before (from the old carpet underneath): lovely! Hopefully the bits of the irrigation system that are on back order will arrive soon, so that I don't have to do too much hose-pipe watering.

(Jo was very helpful: after coming in the polytunnel once and knocking half a dozen plants over she decided that it wasn't a good place to be and scampered around the garden instead, where she's probably dug up something that she shouldn't have. On the plus side, she did hear a delivery driver that I didn't, so I was able to dash out and get the package. It's amazing how quickly the driver ran back down the path and through the gate when she bounded into the front garden barking.)

Jo and I are on our own today, as Mike's taken his mother to Belgium for an overnight stay. My grandad's had a partial hip replacement, the op seems to have gone well but he's quite confused and groggy. He should be ok as long as he doesn't pull any of his usual hospital tricks (eg, pulling his drip out, ordering taxis to collect him, attacking the nurses), but the chances of that aren't great given his past form.
Link7 kisses // Who loves you?

I was going to do some more weeding...

♥May. 5th, 2017 // 06:59 pm
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... but it was drizzling when I got back from walking pooch, so I hit the sewing machine instead.

This is going to be a cushion cover for Sue's Mum's boyfriend, who used to have a tame pheasant in the garden.

Note to self: remember to do the eye!

(It stopped drizzling shortly afterwards, but ah well, the garden will still be there next week.)

While walking the pooch, I saw Mrs Farmer, who had a genius idea: ducks are filter feeders, so I can make their pellets into soup and leave it out all day without the wild birds being able to get much of it. Worth a try to get a bit more food into them, especially as I'm worried that the case that was reported overnight might mean another extension of the bird 'flu restrictions.
Link6 kisses // Who loves you?


♥Mar. 27th, 2017 // 09:47 am
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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1206204.html]

(Only not today, when it's currently rather foggy. Does seem to be clearing, though, and at least the fog is a sign that the wind has died down!)

We've been seeing lots of little flowers appearing in the woods, including wild strawberries and cuckoo flower/ lady's smock. There's a fine patch of violets up a tree, as well:

After the usual sense of weeks with little progress (sewing together piles of small bits of fabric to make piles of slightly larger bits of fabric), I got to the stage of sewing together the blocks for my Storm At Sea quilt (started on a workshop a few months ago) so all of a sudden I've got a quilt top ready to start the actual quilting:

I'm quite pleased with how it's turned out, although Mike says that he can't look at it for too long without his eyes going funny. (Also pleased that, in the end, it turned out that I didn't need to get more of the fabric shipped over from the US!)

Today, we're having the new garage door fitted, as well as having the old living room and hall carpets removed and the floor levelled. The floor guy just said "You might want to look at this..." and showed us a drain cover in the hall. We're guessing that it's at the point that was once the back door to the house, and that it isn't actually connected to anything any more, but we're really not sure. Fingers crossed that it never needs to be opened up!
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1 dpi

♥Mar. 9th, 2017 // 08:06 pm
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I'm getting to the stage where I have to decide what I'm actually going to do with them....

I've vaguely thought about making a bag from them, in which case I'm pretty much done. Or I could go on and make an actual quilt, in which case I'm very much not! Decisions, decisions.

Jodie's sofa has arrived, sooner than we expected. It didn't arrive in Ashford on today's lorry, and when they did some digging they found out that it was actually in Dartford. Rather than drive it to Ashford to then drive it here, they just brought it directly. It's rather bigger than the old on, Jo looks positively small curled up in the corner of it!

We've given up on the Dettol automatic hand wash dispensers, because they start having hissy fits after a couple of years and spew soap everywhere until you take the batteries out. However, we've still got three soap refils: does anyone use one and want them?
Link1 kiss // Who loves you?

The kindness of strangers

♥Feb. 11th, 2017 // 08:00 pm
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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1198338.html]

At my last quilt workshop, I started making a quilt (duh) and then realised after I'd come home and carried on with it that I didn't have enough of one of the fabrics. And that the piece I had left didn't have the selvedge strip on it.

(Fabrics designed for quilters often have fairly detailed product information printed on the selvedge, to make it easier to get more when you get half way through and realise that you don't have enough. I dare say that sensible people make sure to keep the selvedge just in case....)

I thought I'd bought it at the craft shop in Canterbury the week before, but wasn't sure. The next time he went into town, I sent Mike in with a piece of it and he and the shop assistant looked but couldn't find it. I also went online and looked through all the fabrics sold by the supplier that they usually use, but didn't find it there.

Bugger. No idea where it came from.

This afternoon, Mike was tidying his desk in preparation for having the living room redecorated (we're going to decamp to the study while it's being done). I went and got a bin bag, as the bin was full, and when I emptied the bin into it I saw... a strip of selvedge! Admittedly it wasn't the one I was after, but did it mean that I'd not emptied my sewing bin at the workshop but instead brought it home...? It did, and a bit of rooting produced the one I was after.

Ten seconds with Google found me the (US) manufacturer's website (and the depressing news that the fabric's two years old and discontinued), and an hour or so more revealed that no one in the UK seems to stock it, nor did any of the shops listed on the manufacturer's list of 'shops that stock this fabric'. I did, however, eventually find a shop in Maine that had it in stock!

I crossed my fingers and sent them an email asking if they'd be prepared to send it internationally, and got a very nice email in response that said they would but wondered about payment: could I send them a US money order? Argh. Another look at their website showed that they do take Paypal for online orders, so I've emailed back and asked if I could just pay like that instead.

Fingers crossed, and if there's some reason why I can't then I suspect I'll be asking around for people coming from the US to Eastercon!
Link2 kisses // Who loves you?

1 dpi

♥Feb. 8th, 2017 // 05:02 pm
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Can you tell who it is, yet?

The little old ladies at Little Quilt Club were utterly bemused when, having spent a while making perfectly normal square-in-a-square blocks for the storm at sea quilt, I whipped out my EPP box and started sewing together lots of brightly coloured squares. They were none the wiser when I showed them the printout I was using to remind me of the layout!
LinkWho loves you?


♥Jan. 31st, 2017 // 10:21 am
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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1197186.html]

(LJ app still letting me post to my LJ even though it won't log me in. V mysterious!)

It has stopped being quite so cold, for which I am very grateful. It is rather misty, but I suppose you can't have everything.

I seem to have been quite busy, with living room redecoration arranging, pooch wrangling, failing to find a new horse, and several quilt-related things.

...living room redecoration... )

...pooch-wrangling, failing to find a new horse... )

...several... )...quilt-related... )...things... )

The down side of my being out at weekend was that Mike had to horse wrangle by himself when they were coming in to bed. They behaved on Saturday but on Sunday went charging off, spraining a couple of Mike's fingers in the process. They were also behaving like idiots list night, trying to get to the new mares (even GB!): possibly they've come into season. To be on the safe side, even though it's going to be a bit slippery I'm going to just let them run down the hill on their own tonight rather than try and lead both of them in along the road.
Link2 kisses // Who loves you?

Bow ties

♥Dec. 22nd, 2016 // 06:16 pm
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On and (mostly) off, I've spent the last six months folding linen squares into little bow tie shapes.

I've finally finished doing them:

And today I started sewing them together, which is looking like taking *far* less time:

(The fabric isn't actually beige, it's pale purple!)

Also today, the Aga Man failed to fix our Aga (someone with the right part will come back tomorrow), and we took Jo for a run on the beach, where we met an 18 month old Bernese bitch, who was very friendly. We really should have taken a picture for those times when people give us funny looks for saying that Jo's a midget, though.
Link2 kisses // Who loves you?

More free stuff

♥Nov. 20th, 2016 // 03:03 pm
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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1187425.html]

I have, I think, now finished tidying and rearranging, although I'm not sure what I'm going to go with the masses of stuff to go in the landfill and paper recycling bins, which were already full after yesterday's efforts. (Bizarre as it may seem from the stuff I'm trying to re-home, I've thrown away a huge amount of actual junk. I have no idea where some of these things came from.)

(Actually, I haven't finished: I started this because I wanted to get my fabric stash out of plastic boxes and onto a set of Expedit shelves. That part has happened, but not yet the part where I go through and neatly sort the fabrics by type and colour and so on. Maybe tomorrow.)

So, if anyone wants it...
Various crafty bits:

- silver and gold plastic stars
- various colours of star-shaped stickers
- stick-on diamante thingies
- stickers of fancy party frocks
- blue / purple die-cut flowers
- what the package says are 'fabric luggage tags'
- various colours of leaf skeletons
- blue paper tags
- lots of pairs of small hinges
- little glass test tubes with stoppers that have loops so you can put things in them and hang them on a piece of jewellery


- beige-ish pipe cleaners
- blue paper tags (again. oops)
- microscope slides and cardboard holders for them (some for one slide, some for two)

And less crafty stuff:

- three packs of raunchy wrapping paper (I have no idea who this was intended for...)
- red and gold beaded gift bag
- two white and silver angel gift decorations
- white and silver gift decoration stickers
- red and gold gift decoration stickers
- differently shaped gift decoration stickers

Hmm. In retrospect I should probably checked to see if anyone wanted an entire Really Useful Box full of those little shiny rosette things that you always get in packs of Christmas ribbons and that I hardly ever use because I don't like them. Oh well.
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♥Nov. 18th, 2016 // 06:36 pm
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Novacon was mostly nice, and fairly quiet, but involved late nights (as ever).

I decided that I wasn't enjoying my pilates class enough to make up for the driving there and back in the dark part of the experience, so I've swapped to a different class (daytime), with a different instructor but at the same place. I had the first session yesterday and, even though the people in the class were generally creakier and less good, it was a much better workout. Fingers crossed.

TWWOTV is having various building work done. GB is unimpressed: he can hear it but not see it, so he's a bit stressed by it all, poor lad.

The house Up The Hill has finally completed on the sale, so we now have new Mr and Mrs Up The Hill, and two small girl children ditto. I'd better put together a little welcome hamper, though it's a shame the ducks are off lay.

I continue to be impressed with Freddie's Flowers. I've still got about half of the bunch from two weeks ago, and this is today's selection:

I've finished the little table runner I was making using English Paper Piecing. I enjoyed the actual EPP part of it but found hand quilting to be very tedious, fiddly, and hard on my hands; it is very lightly quilted as a result. Still, I'm quite pleased with it even if I did realise about three days ago that I'd cocked it up right at the beginning and have bought another pattern that I'd been vaguely admiring for some time.

For about six weeks now, I've had a plate full of this year's medlar crop sitting on a plate in the hall, bletting. Bletting is a bit like rotting only less so, and you have to let it happen for a couple of weeks in order to make the fruit usable. Today, I decided that they must have had long enough and took them to the kitchen to make jelly from. When I cut the fruit up, about a third of it looked like it was actually rotten, so I stuck that in the compost and put the rest on to simmer. An hour or so later, they were all still rock hard and the liquid was mostly colourless, which rang alarm bells: when I looked online, I discovered that actually my rotten ones were correct and the rest should have had longer to blet. Fortunately, they were only in the indoor compost bin, so I rinsed them off and stuck them in the pan with the rest and stuck them back in the Aga for another hour. The juice is draining off now, we'll see whether the jelly is actually usable tomorrow....

(Many of the recipes call for a mix of bletted and fresh medlars, if in the reverse of the proportions I ended up with, so it's hopefully not too much of a problem!)

It's definitely getting wintery, now, and we very much appreciated the fire this afternoon. On the other hand, my parents had about six inches of snow this morning, so it could be worse!
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♥Nov. 5th, 2016 // 09:18 pm
[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1184793.html]

I've just finished the stuffing that I bought for the Loncon Plokta pigeon. Finally!

Unfortunately, I didn't have enough for what I was doing, so I've had to order another, slightly smaller, sack of the same!
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Dilly Keen

♥Nov. 1st, 2016 // 03:09 pm
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Last night, we went to see Dilly Keen (from Fascinating Aida) at the King's School, part of the Canterbury Festival.

It was a good show, but a bit downbeat for our tastes (most of the songs seemed to be about failed love affairs!). As an encore ("Usually we'd do a song, but we've got this fabulous piano..."), she and her accompanist did a piano duet: I'd forgotten that she can actually play serious piano as well as just noodling along to the songs.

Today, I've been to little quilt club, where I did some folding of squares for the quilt I've been working on for months (it's going to be very pretty, I think, but it's quite tedious so I'm doing a bit at a time) and then started a couple of Christmas decorations. It was nice to see people, and have a natter.

Yesterday when I exercised the horses neither of them seemed quite right: GB's bad leg was bothering him a bit and, more worryingly, I think that Bugsy's leg, which we'd thought was better, might have been a bit not-right as well. I'm going to give him a couple of days off and then see how it looks.
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♥Sep. 30th, 2016 // 08:28 pm
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We're going off to Belgium tomorrow ("Is it a convention?" asked Mrs Next Door. "No, we're having an actual *holiday*!") for a few days in Bruges and then a few more in Ghent. New sitter, so fingers crossed that she does ok!

Today, I went to the Kent Quilt Show, where I had a couple of small accidents to the tune of £60. Could have been worse: I wasn't buying for anything specific other than some Christmas bits!

Also, would anyone like to own up to sending me the WI's book of Home Made Wines, Syrups and Cordials from 1959? I'm not sure if the lack of a note / return address was deliberate or not, although I am currently looking in an Ilford direction! Whoever it was, thank you and I'll be having a proper look at it when we get back. (Six different recipes for metheglin! Two for hop beer: would that not just be 'beer'?)
Link2 kisses // Who loves you?

Swimming lessons

♥Aug. 4th, 2016 // 08:27 pm
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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1172580.html]

Jodie had her first swimming lesson yesterday. Much to my relief, it involved her walking into a tank at floor level before the hydrotherapy nurse closed glass doors at either end and then slowly filled it with water: I'd gone dressed on the assumption that I'd have to persuade her to go down a ramp into a pool, probably by going in first! She was a bit bemused by it all, but took to it pretty well, and the nurse was pleased both with how she did and with the progress she's made since her op. (We also popped into the main reception area, to weigh her, and everyone was very pleased to see her and impressed with how neat the scar is. Everyone at the vet likes Jodie!)

I've finished making the rest of the quilt blocks that I started in my last class. I'm vaguely thinking a snake-like table runner....

Oddly, we had no eggs today. On the other hand, yesterday Mike reported that Esk was behaving oddly and, when I went clambering around behind the barn, I found her next to a little scrape in the ground with two of her eggs in it, neither of them just-laid. I've a vague memory that she went through a phase like this this time last year, as well, and the others copied her a bit. Guess I'd better check the front garden as well.
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Quilt Club

♥Jul. 25th, 2016 // 04:28 pm
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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1170239.html]

Yesterday, I went to quilt class and (mostly: I did a bit of finishing this afternoon) made these:

It was an interesting class but (unfortunately for me) the first half of it was her teaching people the technique -- foundation paper piecing -- that I use all the time for doing things like animals and birds, so not very informative for me. (Except in the "wow, I'd never have imagined you could make the process seem so tediously rote" sense: the method she was using worked for this specific project but wouldn't help if any of the attendees then tried to apply it to a different design.) The second half was much more useful, though, and at least completely ignoring her instructions in the morning meant I had plenty of time to get stuff done.

It was also incredibly Buy My Stuff: you absolutely must have a special ruler, only £6, to use when you trim the excess fabric (er, or just eyeball it. Or use a normal ruler); you absolutely must have this particular brand of spray starch, only £5, to use when you're ironing your seams (y'know, the ones I did this afternoon worked just fine without it...); you absolutely must have this special glue, only £5, to use when you're sewing the bits together (ok, I did buy that one, although I am trying to figure out how to do without it!); you absolutely must have an open-toed sewing machine foot, only £20 (she really banged on about that one to me: she used my machine a couple of times to demo things, and there was much sighing and 'I think you'd find it much easier' and 'gosh, I can't see a thing I'm doing!'. Maybe I just have much better eyes than she does); you absolutely must have this type of needle, only £6 for five, the other kind are terrible (she'd said this the day before; I have a part-used box of 100 of the 'terrible' kind, I'll *consider* switching when I finish it); and on and on. It was a £20 class, and I would guess that half the women there spent twice that amount on buying stuff from her. I know she has to make a living, and I dare say that *she* finds it useful to use those things, but don't try and insist that they're vital when they clearly aren't!

The day before at quilt club, the same woman gave a talk about needles and threads, which was absolutely fascinating and taught me vast numbers of things that would be very tedious to recount here, but did finally explain to me why my new sewing machine (which has a horizontal thread reel holder, as most do these days) came with a little removable plastic stick to make a temporary vertical one (like they ones I learnt to sew on had), and when I should use it.

The quilt club newsletter mentioned, in passing, that a quarter of the members are now people who've joined in their own right, rather than as part of a smaller local club. It wasn't explicitly stated that this is a cause for concern, but it is on two levels: the local clubs aren't getting the few younger members who come in, and (perhaps more significantly) it makes the tea-and-tidying rota unfair: the local clubs take it in turns, so there are a quarter of the (generally more able to do so) members who never help out. When I Take Over Quilt Club, Which I Am Not Going To Do, I will fix these problems relatively simply: 1) put them on the rota (this will require some wrangling to make sure enough people will be there but is doable: they've been talking about it for a while, just not actually done it) and 2) actually tell them about the local clubs (they are occasionally mentioned in the newsletter, but only in the sense of "Twee Name Club last month donated ten quilts to a hospice"; there is a list of them on the website, but it is literally a series of twee names followed by a landline number you can call for each of them: no indication of where they are located other than dialling code (some of the twee names are geographically based, many are not), no indication of when they meet and what they do, no email address...). I'd vaguely like to join one, but not enough to phone random people and ask them where they live!

I shall stop ranting now.
Link1 kiss // Who loves you?

Things unrelated to lame animals

♥Jul. 10th, 2016 // 06:07 pm
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A good one: this morning, I had a lovely ride on GB. He was going brilliantly, and it left me feeling very pleased with how we got on.

A less good one: my upper back / shoulders have been a bit sore for a few days, which I'd vaguely put down to being stressed about lame animals until I thought about it a bit more. I was sore in what I think was the same way about eighteen months ago, which is what lead to the hypermobility diagnosis, and which I eventually decided was being caused by something wrong (for me) in the way my then Pilates instructor taught. (And, indeed, this was a part of the reason I moved to a different one not long after.)

That instructor (as well as working where I used to go to her classes) works for the place I've just started at and, quite conceivably, had a lot of her training from my new instructor*, which makes me wonder if there's some bit of positioning that the new instructor likes but my body doesn't. I'll have a chat with her on Tuesday, I think.

* Who I am liking, although I am frantically Waiting Until The End Of The Six-Week Class Cycle before I say "I thought this was an advanced class?"

This afternoon, I made a stripy top out of knitted fabric. I'm not madly keen on the fabric, but it was cheap (nominally seconds, though I can't see any flaws in it). The sewing went pretty smoothly, once I gave up on trying to backstitch my start and end points (which just resulted in the sewing machine eating the corner of the fabric; I was using a fancy stretch stitch anyway, so it was kind of backstitching itself), and apparently I am a high street size 16. Better go and buy a new wardrobe!

Lame animal update: we're going to be Firm With Vets, so tomorrow I'm going to call Jo's vet and ask if they have a date for the op and tell them that if they don't get me one by the next day then I'm going to go elsewhere (Mrs Next Door recommended a specialist ortho vets, who will probably be able to fit her in much quicker), and then I'm going to call Bug's vet and cancel this grand day out malarky at least until after Jo's op, and tell him I want him to come and give him the same injection as he's already had in the other leg to see if that cures it.
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Oh, you shouldn't have....

♥Jul. 6th, 2016 // 08:19 pm
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Today's Tesco delivery came with a very pleased delivery woman who handed me a special box containing a "thank you for being such a great customer" (we probably are: we get a delivery maybe 45 weeks of the year).

"What's in it?" I asked.

"Open it and see!" she gushed. So I did.

I took out the box of strawberries, and put it on the table next to the small pile of freshly-picked ones that were drying on a piece of kitchen roll. Then I took out the teeny tiny single serving bottle of elderflower cordial, and put it on the table next to the half dozen full-sized bottles of same that she's just unpacked. As I took out a pack of Warburton's finest, I refrained from telling her how good Mike's crumpets are. Still, the pot of cream will come in handy, I'm sure....

ION, Jodie is doing remarkably well on the bunny catching league for an invalid, even if the one she got this evening had mixa. Just think of all the baby crows she's providing for!

Bugsy had his back checked this morning (unexpectedly: she appeared (to much barking from Jo) outside the school while I was lunging Bugs this morning. "I wasn't expecting you until 3 o'clock," I said, confused. "Actually, I wasn't expecting you until tomorrow!" -- there had been an undelivered iMessage mix-up), and she's "as confident as she can possibly be" that it's not his back, which is just what I expected. Now -- as he's finally got back to being nicely lame after I foolishly listened when the vet told me to give him the week off -- I just need to get hold of the second opinion vet and get him back here. I'll give it one more not-returned phone call and then just book a visit anyway.

Yesterday, I was birthday present hunting on a blog I follow: I read it for the patchwork stuff, but she's also a dressmaker, and for all that I usually skim those posts I knew there were some pattern and book recommendations. And then I had a Thought, thusly: "I can never find tops that I like. Maybe I should...." It is the case that the tops I fail to find are made from knit fabrics, which are infamously A Bugger To Sew, especially without an overlocker (which I Can Not Justify At All, although I loved it when I got to play with them at school), but maybe I should have a little try.... I've ordered what claims to be a simple pattern, and some end-of-bolt-cheap fabric, so I'll give it a go. In an attempt to remind myself what a dressmaking pattern looks like (school wasn't the last time I used one, but it wasn't long after), I (mostly: ran out of time to make bias binding before it was time to start dinner) made a very simple sleeveless top out of some left-over quilt fabric this afternoon, so I think I'll give it a go and see what happens.

(I am suffering from too many projects on the go, at the moment: I'm making a silk wall hanging, which is now mostly done except some hand sewing, and I've got a blanket woven but in need of (hand) sewing together, and I've got a bolt of linen that I need to cut up for a quilt, and then do fiddly folding things with before I do the machine sewing, and I've just made something for my sister's birthday.... on the other hand, I'm kind-of stacking up hand sewing things in the expectation of wanting to stay in the living room with Jo rather than leave her to go to the study and my sewing machine. On the other other hand, I'm thinking of moving a table in here, for that and for meals, so that she's not left on her own.)
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Quilt class

♥Jun. 18th, 2016 // 06:07 pm
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Last weekend, I went to a quilt club class. It was about ways to cut fabric so that you get several identical pieces, which you can then make interesting mirror image or kaleidoscope patterns with.

The 'what to bring' instructions for the class were pretty mystifying, specifying that you should bring a fabric with a 24" pattern repeat, but also mentioning that it was possible to use an 8" one without any indication if of it was practical to use something in between. I found one 23" repeat fabric that didn't revolt me, but it was £18 a meter and I needed 4 so bugger that. In the end, I bought a nice duvet cover (with a 24" repeat, no less) in the Dunelm Mill sale. It was only when I took the fabric out at the class (having washed and cut it apart at home) that I realised that the two sides weren't the same: it was a pattern of branches with birds and butterflies, but they'd left the wildlife off on one side. Oops. I'm sure I'll find something I can do with it.

Fortunately, someone had brought a huge stack of fabric on the grounds that she couldn't find anything with a 24" repeat and would any of these do, so I bought a piece from her (13" repeat. Guess what? Perfectly fine. In retrospect, while everyone was muttering about how hard it was to find fabric with a 24 inch bloody repeat I should possibly have suggested to the woman running the course that she update her instructions).

It's not entirely revolting*, but it's certainly not a fabric I'd ever have bought myself and I really imagine using the left over length of it. It did, however, work really quite well for this class.

Anyway. The technique turned out to be pretty simple once it had been demonstrated, but it would have been bad form to go home terribly early so I just got on with it and made enough squares for a small quilt. This afternoon, I put it together with some more of the fabric (if I were doing it properly, I would probably have found a matching plain blue and used that in between the squares, but see above re: a use for the left-over fabric!)

I quit like the Moorish-tile effect that some of them have.

I'm in no rush to turn it into a quilt. In fact, unless someone sees it and falls in love I'm vaguely inclined to wait until I've something of the same sort of size as a result of a different class and just stick them back-to-back!

* "That fabric's obviously your colours," one of the women said, pointing out that they were very similar to the colours of the fabric I'd brought and that I was wearing matching trousers and t-shirt.
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The News

♥Jun. 12th, 2016 // 09:26 pm
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Earlier, I spoke to my parents. After I'd done that, we were putting the boys to bed when I remarked to Mike how odd it was that my father (who, despite being on the boat, does keep up with what's going on in the world) didn't know that the monsoon had failed for the last two years leading to drought in India, or that South Africa has declared a state of natural disaster due to drought (and, natch, similar things going on in neighbouring countries), or that Ethiopia has been pleading for aid for the last year or so because the government knew that they were heading for a crisis (but that there was no aid available, because Syria).

Mike looked at me blankly and said "Well, you do listen to the World Service a lot". And then I came to write this post and, as you'll see from the above links, couldn't even find the SA story on the BBC UK website (and why on earth do they not let you sort search results by date? It's a news site! Ooh! Just got asked to do a survey about what I think of their search, how fortuitous). Is this all under the radar for the UK media? I tend to not keep track of what's on WS and what's on R4 (especially as the same things are often on both in slightly different forms), so I just assumed that everyone knew.

(Here's a great story that I doubt has had much press. There have been similar schemes on the Indian subcontinent.)

Yesterday, I went to Quilt Club Class. I learnt something moderately interesting, and made most of the top of a quilt that I dare say I will finish at some point, but I haven't taken any photos so tough. Today, I have been quilting the current project. I liked the effect in the centre, I'm less sure about the look of it further out. I'll have another look in the morning.

The boys have been happily stuffing themselves silly on Mrs Up The Hill's grass, but are sadly both still lame.
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Busy busy....

♥Jun. 10th, 2016 // 07:32 pm
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With impeccable timing, the vet could only come out on a day when Mike was in London.

That meant that this morning I was out early, to ride GB before she got here for her first appointment (he comes out of his stable each morning looking ok, and only starts to limp when he's done a bit of exercise or spent time wandering around in the field). She was puzzled by both of them, which meant I spent a lot of time running up and down the school so that she could see them in action, and didn't really get much less puzzled as the time went on.

GB is indeed lame on his 'good' leg, but she can't find anything obviously wrong. There was a choice of lots of nerve blocking injections to try to narrow it down or just waiting and seeing, and we decided on the latter. "You could try giving him a week or two off," she said, but then I pointed out that the bad leg would seize up if I did. "You could try 'bute," she said, but then I pointed out that he was already on that for the bad leg and she looked a bit worried that it wasn't helping.

Bugs is also lame, on both the leg that hasn't yet been done and the one that has. She did offer to do the injection in the un-done leg, but worried that the as-yet-unidentified other thing wrong with the done leg would be there with the un-done one too so she preferred to get a second opinion: we've got another appointment, with a more senior vet, next week, so he's off work again until that happens.

And then I did the usual horse-related jobs, washed my hair, had lunch and walked the pooch, and this afternoon I did a bit of sewing, finishing the current quilt top, and a bit of gardening, managing several whole meters of the front border in an hour (all the seeds that have been sitting there going 'bloody leylandii' have now gone 'wahay!') and watering the veg and various new plants (and, bugger, I still haven't potted on those bloody penstemon plug plants that are sitting in the conservatory, maybe I should just throw them to their doom in the garden), and then I got ready for the quilt class I'm going to tomorrow, and put away the laundry, and then it was time to get dinner ready, and there was some fannish stuff I'd had to abandon when the internet got crappier than usual yesterday and forgotten to go back to, and now that I've eaten dinner and washed up I'm just going to sit on the sofa, I think.

Well, once we've put the boys to bed.

I might have found a Pilates class, though. It's an evening one, but I'm starting to think I'll just have to put up with that. It's the first time I've seen anywhere actually listing an advanced class in Kent: I'd been hoping I could find an intermediate, and am now slightly wondering if I'm up to it!
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Positive things

♥Jun. 5th, 2016 // 05:33 pm
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This morning, Mike rode Bugs for the first time in a couple of months (I've been on him a couple of times in the last week or so). Even though it was windy, and he'd had a hissy fit the last time I lunged him, Bugs was very well behaved. It would be even more of a result if our riding instructor wasn't convinced that he isn't right in the *other* back leg as well / now that the one he had done isn't bothering him. We're currently trying to make him do enough work that it gets sore, so that I can then have the vet come when there's definitely something to see.

(Yesterday, they all went a bit mad: our two and The Horse Next Door spent a good couple of hours running up and down their fields. GB was covered in dried sweat when he came in for dinner. We've no idea what got into them, but hypothesise that it might have had something to do with the deer that have been spotted in the area recently. If it is that, I hope they get used to it.)

This afternoon, I went to the Quilt Club show, where I saw Mrs Up The Hill. I was working around to asking if we could use the field by saying how lovely the grass looked when she asked if we could put the boys in there to keep it looking neat, so that's a result. Must get a new battery for the portable electric fence. ("What do you want me to do with the poo?" I asked, hoping that we wouldn't have to cart it down the hill to our skip. "Oh, if you could make a heap that would be wonderful, I need it for my new garden!" "You must be so annoyed to have to start a new compost heap, after all that manure you carted around last summer!" "Oh, no, I took my old compost heap with us when we moved!")

Then I had a look at the quilts on display. Lots of them weren't my sort of thing, and very few of them were the same style that I do (and, coff, those that were weren't as good [g]), but I have come away with a few ideas. When I got to the display of the on-the-theme-of-30 quilts, I had a nice surprise:

Joint second, because (a note said) while first had been blazingly obvious they struggled with second / third. (First was blazingly obvious: the person who made it seems to specialise in dolls'-house-sized quilts anyway, and she'd done a gorgeous sampler with thirty different quilt blocks in miniature.) And Mrs Up The Hill didn't get a rosette [smug].

Also, points to Hazel for plant identification skills, as my plant-or-weed was indeed a poppy:
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Bits and bobs

♥May. 12th, 2016 // 08:23 pm
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I've started on my next quilt project, which is going to be a present for my parents on a nautical theme. My wrists are a bit unhappy with me: I've been cutting out lots of bits of fabric, and for some reason that always makes them a bit sore (in a way that cutting paper doesn't, oddly).

Mike managed to mow the back lawn, which really did need it. He's been in London a lot with work this week, so it remains to be seen when he'll next get a chance to do the front.... I've been weeding, and inspecting plant-or-weed candidates. There are a mass of seedlings in the front bed, with two distinct leaf shapes. One of them is either tomatoes or tomatillos (makes sense, as there were some there last year), but I'm not yet sure what the other is. I must make time to weed the sides of the drive tomorrow, it's a state. Ditto around the fish pond, which I didn't remember to do when I did the rest of the gravel a few days ago.

This evening, Mike went to his first Pilates class. I've been trying to get him into a local one for about six months, and a space finally came up in the nearest. The fact that she has so few spaces opening up is probably a good sign, and it's a bonus that there are some other men in the class so that he doesn't feel too silly!
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♥May. 10th, 2016 // 08:30 pm
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I have, probably, finished the flying birds quilt, unless I decide that the actual birds need quilting. I think that they probably do, but that I'm bored of quilting and want to start my next project. Shall see how I feel about it in a few days.

I've also made my sister a bunny, as well as making another one and a little stuffed elephant for the Quilt Club sales table at next month's show.

Today, it has mostly been moist. I was fretting because GB needed riding and it was raining, but then I realised that I was going to be putting him in the field without his rug anyway (as it's so warm), so it didn't really matter if he got rained on when I was riding. Both horses are now thoroughly filthy, naturally.

When I took Jo out, I ummed and ahhed and eventually put a coat on. As I walked up the hill I decided that I'd made the right call, as I wasn't vastly too hot in it. Then I walked through a thermocline and felt like I'd entered a sauna: yuck.
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Quilt club

♥May. 7th, 2016 // 10:43 pm
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Some very blank faces, mine among them, at Quilt Club today, and I was at least slightly helped by a decade-old knowledge of the current state of the art in US paper-based craft materials / equipment. Even then, I kept looking at her slides and thinking "I know what all of those words mean individually..." and wasn't helped by the complete failure to define terms. Ah well, she did make (and bring along) some moderately interesting stuff!

(There was a note in the newsletter to the effect that they'd asked the venue to give them a quote for putting out / putting away the chairs for us, as it Obviously Wasn't Working. I looked at the sign-up sheets for doing shifts at the upcoming Quilt Show and put my name down for MIMO on the grounds that there were plenty of people who could perfectly well man the desk selling raffle tickets. The woman behind the desk was rather grateful.)

An unrelated question: do Americans *really* drink tea with cream, or is it just that all the American writers who have people doing so are extrapolating from their native coffee-drinking habits? Because it sounds revolting, I have to say!
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In the quilting mines

♥Apr. 23rd, 2016 // 08:23 pm
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It's getting there: I'm about half way done. I had to order more thread, I thought that the enormous reel I'd bought would be enough but apparently not!

Note to self: life is much easier (or at least, more forgiving) when the quilt backing is a similar colour to the background of the front so that the stitches don't show so much on the back. I fear that I have learnt this lesson before but it failed to sink in.

I'm now using the new laptop: seems to be going ok, although I'm still not quite used to the keyboard: even for me it's got very little travel, so I'm sometimes failing to hit a key / hitting a key accidentally on my way past it. People who like Proper Clicky Keyboards shouldn't get the new MacBook. It doesn't have a magsafe power connector (which makes sense given that it's the same port as the USB), but even allowing for that it needs a serious (two-handed) yank to pull it out. I dare say I'll get used to that, though.

Bugs finished his two week rest today, and was still lame: time to get the vet back and spend some serious money....
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Foiled you!

♥Apr. 21st, 2016 // 02:08 pm
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I'm pleased to say that our mighty human intellects (and ability to use a hammer and some chicken wire) seem to have foiled the ducks. It's nice to know we're smarter than some of the animals....

GB, despite his best attempts to bite me on the head (ow) is also foiled, or at least his bad leg seems to be, for now. He's doing really well, so much so that I think Mike will be usefully able to have lessons on him again soon: we've got through another winter, that's the main thing!

I've been quilting, which has gone both more quickly than I expected and less quickly than I'd been led to believe by the throw-away comments of Chap From The Sewing Bee. I am at least generating fewer 'go back and fix that by hand' instances than I was, which is also good.

I also seem to have a new laptop: as ever, I wasn't really listening when Mike said "so, do you want a new laptop?", and vaguely thought I was agreeing to something that might happen in a few months. It was a little surprising when he handed me an Apple Store bag when he got home from work this evening. Tomorrow, I shall play with it, for tonight I'll struggle on with my unusable keyboard!
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Naughty quackers

♥Apr. 17th, 2016 // 02:25 pm
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Our attempt at re-duck-proofing the fence the other day didn't work: they were back in the field this morning. On the plus side, as soon as they saw me come out to get them they ran back under the gate and into the stableyard. As a temporary measure, we put a handy object (poo scoop) over the place where they now seemed to be getting through and left it for later.

Later came, as it does, and I headed up there with a roll of chicken wire. When Mike followed me out a minute or so later, he found me chasing ducks around the back garden....

(Again, as soon as they saw me they headed for somewhere they're allowed to be and, rather sensibly given I was in the way of their usual route, cut across the back garden and headed for the side gate to get back to the front. Unfortunately, the side gate was shut (to make sure that, er, the ducks couldn't get into the back garden), causing much squawking and trying to climb through stock netting fences. Spoiler: ducks don't fit through.)

So, the gate now has Even More chicken wire around the bottom of it, and we'll see what happens: there is a gap at the side, they might be able to squeeze through there....

This morning, I went to a small local village for a fabric sale at the village hall. The village obviously has Parking Issues at the best of times, and adding a couple of hundred bargain-hunting quilters didn't improve matters; I couldn't quite bring myself to park in the church carpark on a Sunday morning (and others obviously felt the same) so I suspect that I stole someone's parking space.... Still, I'm all stocked up for my next project now. (And I'm about to start quilting the flying birds, probably tomorrow. Fingers crossed!)

I've been saying it ever since we moved in, but this year I really am going to get rid of the spanish bluebells that we inherited in the garden: we're just too close to the bluebell woods for me to be happy having them. (Bloody Europeans, coming over here and hybridising with our native species, etc.) Does anyone who's coming to visit over the next few weeks and doesn't live near bluebell woods want them (in the green)? I could also feasibly meet up with someone in the City / near K'sX-St P on Thursday 5th at lunch time (although probably not actually *for* lunch).
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Done! (I think.)

♥Apr. 13th, 2016 // 07:58 pm
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This afternoon, I Caught Up (what on earth is that solicitor thinking? Presumably soon someone will remember that Carol's daughter is a barrister, yes? I do hope he dies, but I doubt that it will as that would make things too simple) and did some sewing: I think that my 30-themed quilt is now done, and it's turned out to be fairly close to my original sketch, except that I abandoned the idea of needle felting some sheep onto the background. I'd quite like to have something alive in November, but I can't really think what: there's not much space, maybe a crow in the tree?


(Click for much bigger!)

This afternoon, just as one of the afternoon's flash squalls kicked in, I noticed that the ducks were in the field.

The boys were over at the other side, but I feared that there would be trouble later when the boys started hanging around the gate looking for their dinners so I went out to move them. Esk immediately went back to the stableyard: good duck! Maggers and Agnes, however, headed further up the field. Until the boys came over to see if it was time for dinner and getting out of the suddenly heavier rain, at which they tried their best to get into the stableyard but did so by trying to get through the fence, not the gate. The boys got quite interested / excited by this, possibly because they were worried about what was scaring the girls (that would be: the boys, with a small side helping of 'oops, we're not supposed to be in here and the human's come to chase us away').

Agnes did her best to squeeze through the fence, which gave me a chance to grab her and lift her over, but Magrat turned tail and ran up the hill. GB excitedly followed suit, and unfortunately that brought his back leg into contact with my shoulder: ow.

(Magrat did the sensible thing, finally, at this point and dashed under the gate while the boys were distracted by running around.)

Fortunately, it was just a glancing blow, and I think it's just going to be a bruise: I've got full movement in it, it's just A Bit Sore. Even more fortunately, it's not so sore that I couldn't drive to the station to pick Mike up, although I struggled a bit with roundabouts!

Oh, and I got soaked. Lovely.

Tomorrow, we need to do something about the gate. It has got chicken wire under it, but I think something larger than a duck is pushing under it and bending it out of shape. Maybe a bit of wood across that corner?
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Hello again

♥Mar. 21st, 2016 // 03:34 pm
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I've been very remiss at telling you all about the exciting things I've been doing, haven't I? Must try harder, probably not helped by the fact that I'll be away from home at weekend!

Recently, I have:
- taken Bugsy's saddle to the saddler, to make sure that he didn't damage it when he rolled in it (he didn't)
- done things with seedlings, including putting some of them outside to harden off (they're back in now, though, as I expect a frost tonight)
- worked on my little quilt, which is very nearly done other than embroidery. I still haven't figured out how to do the geese without them looking crap.
- heard rumours that a very large red deer stag has been spotted at the top of the hill
- got a blister on my heel (spent the whole riding lesson lunging Bugs, in my riding boots), which finally (after a week) now no longer needs plasters
- tidied the barn and (with Mike) moved the hay we had been storing in a spare stable into it. We now have enough pallets that we don't need to balance the stacks of hay bales on a grid of old fence posts, which will be vastly more convenient
- rescued a bumblebee from the front porch, and moved her to inside one of the crocuses so that she could have a nice breakfast
- got various things ready for the Eastercon newsletter
- watched the lambs.

Bugs is doing very well, and last Monday we tried lunging him with side reins for the first time. He'd obviously had them on in the past, inevitably much too tight, but he seems to be relaxing a bit now that we've used them a few times. He's also had a Proper Ride, because it occurred to me that he's either just been lunged or been lunged and then ridden for fifteen minutes a lot recently. I think it was a bit of a shock to his system, but he did very well.

I'm rather concerned about GB, though. Other than the day when Jodie stayed in the garden while I rode him (when he was spooky as a spooky thing until I went and got her, after which he was fine: I don't know if he was worried she was going to jump out from somewhere or if he just missed her), he's been fine to ride, and his leg seems to be doing ok. Unfortunately, for the last week or TWWOTV has been having building work done, replacing water pipes, and he's very unhappy about both the noise of the machinery (which echoes oddly around our stableyard and makes him nervous because he can't see what's causing it even though it's All Around Him) and about the changes that mysteriously happen each day while he's in the field, which he only sees as he's coming in.

Add to that the fact that there's Something Worrying (possibly the stag?) up in the woods, and the fact that Mrs Next Door has been away, so The Horse Next Door has been bored/lonely/cold and so running along the fence as we walk down the road (asking to come in for dinner as well) and bringing him in from the field hasn't been a whole barrel of fun. He's getting really worked up and stressed, which isn't usual and can't be good for him At His Age. I called the vet today, and they've posted me a sedative to try (one that's usually used before clipping nervous horses). I have to go out and feed it to him half an hour before he comes in, but if it breaks the stress cycle then it'll be worth the hassle. Hopefully the landscape plumbers will be done by the end of this week, but she's talking about having a new drive put in as well....

(The landscape plumbers are rather terrifying. I'm forever seeing one of them in a hole in the ground while the other one is digging it with a back hoe. Plus the one in charge not only looks 'im from from Twin Peaks but apparently is called Bob as well....)
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Quilt club: part two

♥Mar. 13th, 2016 // 05:43 pm
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Yesterday's speaker at Quilt Club was Stuart Hillard, who is apparently moderately famous because he was on the first series of The Great British Sewing Bee (or whatever it was called). He did quite a funny talk, including lots of references to famous people I'd never heard of that all the LOLs were very amused by.

Today, I went to a class given by him, which was very good: he's obviously run it lots of times before. It was on different techniques for doing the actual quilting part of the quilt, and we made a sampler with various different styles of pattern on it.

This is what I did:

It's really quite hard to sew a half-circle.

I've now got several ideas for how I'm actually going to quilt the flying birds quilt, which is the main reason I went to the class: it's not the sort of design where you can do lots of straight lines.
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Stash raiding

♥Mar. 5th, 2016 // 06:24 pm
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I'm finding myself in need of a class of fabric and yarn that doesn't feature much in my stash: bright colours!

Does anyone have about 2"sq of yellow cotton that I could have? Doesn't have to be square. Bonus points if it's brushed, so that my ducklings are slightly fluffy.

I could also do with a 6-8" of some sort of fairly fine yarn / embroidery thread, in red, yellow and some other bright colour: orange, or purple maybe.

Can anyone help?
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30 days...

♥Feb. 21st, 2016 // 04:00 pm
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The background of my 30-themed quilt is pretty much finished:

(Slightly concerned that the fence looks more like a railway line, but I don't think it will when I've added the house.)

Just need to do the foreground, now!

I pruned one of the crab apples the other day (for some reason, we have two that are just tree-shaped and one that's been pruned into a denser, smaller crown and so needs keeping on top of else it shoots off all over the place). The cut end of one of the branches fell on my face, skidded off my glasses and bopped me on the nose: given that I now have a little scab on my nose, I'm quite glad I wear glasses! I really need to get out there and do more weeding, but it's very unappealing on a grey day like today, even when it's not actively raining.
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♥Feb. 11th, 2016 // 05:29 pm
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You know, I think that this is much cuter than the tartan one, although that may be partly because it's half-sized.

This evening, we're off to Canterbury for an early Valentine's meal: we've got a half-price voucher for the great-food-dodgy-service restaurant, and it expires today!
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This is what happens when you take my internet away

♥Feb. 10th, 2016 // 06:44 pm
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Baby Next Door's birthday present (he's a bit obsessive about our ducks):

Birds are all sewn together, and this is now going in the cupboard until after I've done a class in a couple of months:

I think I've got a Plan for the 30-themed quilt, based on "30 days hath...". A bit out of my comfort zone, as it's mostly going to be appliqué and embroidery rather than nice precise OCD patchwork:

Also, most of a stuffed bunny and about a quarter of a blanket of weaving....

(Ok, not strictly true: not all of the work on these was done on those three days!)
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In cute news

♥Jan. 31st, 2016 // 09:11 pm
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Months ago, I wandered into the craft items shop in Canterbury (it's a fairly basic place, that moves around empty units in the shopping centre) and saw some very cute tartan stuffed rabbits. I very nearly bought one, but couldn't quite justify spending £40 on one.

A few days later, I was at the quilting show and one of the dealers was selling kits to make your own, almost identical, stuffed tartan rabbit, for £15. So I bought one.

And then it was New Year, and I needed a hand-sewing project for sitting around and chatting time, so I cut the pieces and did some of it. I've been intermittently working on it since, usually while watching Sherlock and often while swearing at the instructions*.

This evening, in a spirit of Keeping Busy, I finally finished him off, and I'm quite pleased:

* The instructions were very odd. Actually, the whole kit was very odd: there was about twice as much fabric as was needed, carefully cut into pieces you were supposed to use for the different bits of the pattern; the order of doing things was all over the place and made some bits much harder to do than was necessary (as you were doing them after it was stuffed when they could have been done with it flat); and the instructions specified that you should sew the glass beads on as eyes after stuffing but the eyes that came in the kit were those two-part safety ones that you have to have access to both sides of the fabric to put in....). On the plus side, I scanned and re-printed the pattern rather than use the one that came with, and hey: I've got enough fabric left over to make another one!
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The first rule of Quilt Club...

♥Jan. 30th, 2016 // 04:34 pm
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... seems to be 'have a cup of tea'.

This afternoon, I went to the East Kent quilt group meeting, because Mrs Up The Hill told me I should and I couldn't think of a good reason not to.

Actually, I had a moderately good time, and went to four technique demonstrations, which I've come away from with a few ideas. (As with programme items at a con, some were unnecessary once you'd read the description handout, some were all over the place, and some were completely inaudible.) I've also signed up for some workshop days (and, indeed, paid to join the actual group).

Then there was a break for tea, to be followed by announcements and other business, but fortunately I had to leave to get back and help Mike with the boys.
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♥Jan. 29th, 2016 // 06:09 pm
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For the past Quite A While, in between various other things, I've been sewing patchwork birds, from The Tartan Kiwi's patterns (in one of those fits of timing, I found them the month that the Quilt Along finished).

This afternoon, I finished the last seagull!

Now I just need to sew them into a quilt....
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Oh, Bugs, you were doing so well....

♥Nov. 29th, 2015 // 04:43 pm
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Yesterday, we took the boys out for a little hack. It's rather muddy, so we went a different way to the usual one, more on the roads. Bugs was a bit nervous once we got past the places he's been to before, and started a couple of times at dust motes, but he didn't work himself up and calmed right back down once he was back on familiar ground.

Today, we took them in the school. It was very windy, so I didn't have high hopes for his behaviour (indeed, it was really Mike's turn to ride him but we thought it best to swap), and he was rather nervous at first but he settled down eventually so I thought I'd risk a canter. Absolutely perfect: instant reaction to the aid, lovely transition, nice steady pace, all the way around once and then a creditable circle at one end, didn't break down to trot until I asked him to. Brilliant.

We had a little rest while Mike cantered GB (I'm still being a bit careful with keeping Bugs under control and out of the way when GB's having a run) and then tried again in the other direction. Pretty good transition, started to get a bit fast at one point but came back down when I asked, all the way around nicely, asked for the circle and woosh. Up in the air, charging across the school. Sigh. On the plus side, this convinces me further that it's happening when he has a case of the don't-wannas, not because he's in any discomfort or struggling to actually canter. He doesn't like doing circles because his balance isn't quite there yet, I know that. I also know that he has to learn, so once I'd got him back under control we did another five, rather than the one he would have done if he'd behaved himself.

I also finally got around to giving GB a hair cut, so he looks much better now. I had tried last week (it had got to the flopping over stage) but couldn't find the big clippers, and the little once just aren't up to that enormous mane. Eventually, I asked Mrs Next Door if I could borrow hers, kinda hoping she's say "Yup, I'll get them, here you go" rather than the "Sure, I'll get them for you later" that was what I actually expected and got. When that hadn't done any good after a couple of days, I told Mike that we'd have to have a better look in the barn for them. "Here they are," he said. "Those are the little ones!" "No, they're the big ones. I wonder where the little ones are...?"

That bloody blue tit's still around, and he's got a mate to join in as well, now. Fortunately, they seem to be splitting their time between the living room and the study, so at least it's not continuous!

Baby Next Door's quilt is very nearly finished, I just need to do the hand-sewn side of the binding. However, my hands are objecting to the fact that I used the clippers and then did an hour of neatening up the quilting around the animals, so I think that will have to wait for another day.
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Things for today

♥Nov. 27th, 2015 // 09:00 pm
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We've has a heron hanging around a bit, lately. Our fingers are crossed that the new pond cover is working, and it does seem that way: no evidence of fish being taken, although it's hard to tell when they're being sluggish in the cold.

(The blue tit was trying for the study windows today. Persistent bugger!)

My legs are considerably less sore today, thankfully. Not sure if it's helped or not but I did do a few gentle squats as part of my morning Pilate today. At least I managed to walk the pooch!

(My only consolation is that if I was that sore then I suspect that most of the rest of the class will have been unable to walk at all. I look forward to the conversation at the start of the next class.)

Earlier, Jodie produced a couple of exceptionally disgusting farts, which isn't like her: we did check that she didn't need to Go Outside, but she seemed inclined not to. Then, just as we were finishing dinner, Mrs Next Door phoned in a panic about her laptop having given her a scary error message as she was using IE: it was just a scam you-are-infected-call-this-number pop-up, but she couldn't get it to close so she brought it around for Mike to poke. As she was leaving, she mentioned that her lab has been incredibly farty all evening. Interesting. Apparently, TWWOTV's hideous rats pugs have been ill all week and had to have visits to the vet, so I suspect there may be something going around the local dog population.

(Mrs Next Door was looking for inspiration for a new hair cut, which initially struck me as an odd choice for nasty pop-ups, but actually makes sense when you think, statistically, of the level of IT security knowledge of the people likely to be looking at celebrity hair styles.)

Speaking of Mrs Next Door, I've finished the fiddly hand-sewing bit of Baby's quilt (thankfully: my hands approve), and pinned the quilt together: should be well on course to finish it in time for Christmas!
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♥Nov. 10th, 2015 // 05:33 pm
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This week, one of the "done a bit before" women didn't come to the needle felting class, so I suspect she's decided it's too noddy and jacked it in. The instructor remembered that there was a form we were all supposed to complete last week. Just as we were packing up, she remembered another one and promised we'd do it next week. It's only a three week course, so I hope for her sake that that's all the paperwork....

Today I finished my birdie, and made the little spherical robin I'd been originally planning to do as well:

It took about a quarter or fifth as long, and I much prefer it!

This afternoon, we rode (thankfully getting it done before the rain arrived). It wasn't a terribly positive session: GB's dodgy leg was dodgy, so I was worried about him, and then Mike couldn't really get Bugs to canter on a circle (Bugs doesn't like cantering on a circle-- his balance isn't quite up to it--so it's hard work to get him to do it. Because his balance isn't quite up to it, he can't go running off, so Mike feels safer that way and wants to work up to going all the way around the school when he feels he can trust Bugs to behave on a circle. It's a wee bit Catch 22-ish) so I jumped on him for the last five minutes. I had to give him a bit of a kick to get it, but he did as he was told. Then I tried in the other direction, and got what was very definitely a "don't /wanna/" buck out of him. Made him do it anyway, trotted for a bit, asked him to canter again and he did with no bother, so I told him he was a good boy and stopped on a good note. I wish I could figure out what's going on in his head. We're going to suggest that the sitter lunge rather than ride him this weekend....
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♥Nov. 7th, 2015 // 06:11 pm
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Today, it was less wet than forecast and very windy, in the direction away from the neighbours, so we've now disposed of the leylandii pile. Of course, we'll be making a new pile tomorrow, but there we go.... It having been wet, and the wood being so green, the fire was incredibly smoky. The ducks were unimpressed when the garden filled with smoke and came charging through to the stableyard to get away from it, only to be met with an enormous fire and, because the wind was very gusty, random puffs of smoke that followed them around.

Other than that, I've mostly been starting on a little quilt for Baby Next Door's Christmas present. I have left this shockingly late, by my standards, but only decided I was actually going to do it a few days ago. Still, I've made good progress with it, and should easily be able to get enough done that I'm ready to do the first hand sewn part at the same time as Novacon, which will be convenient: I can't do long spells of hand sewing any more, but the odd half hour in the bar should be fine.
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Felting and a garden question

♥Nov. 3rd, 2015 // 08:28 am
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This morning, I went to the first of three weekly half-day needle felting classes. I'd been vaguely intrigued by some of the needle felted things I see for a while, so when I saw this one on the Kent Adult Education website I thought I'd give it a go.

People watching )

I was going to make a little spherical robin, of the hanging-on-the-Christmas-tree variety, but my sphere also wasn't terribly spherical, so I turned it into a realistic bird shape, instead. Still needs wings, tail and face, but I'm quite pleased so far! I will have a go at a little spherical robin as well, though. I think I'll try following the instructions that came with my kit, rather than the method the instructor told us today to see if it's easier.

Our hot water tanks's been making those cylon noises again, which always worried me slightly. It didn't think morning, but then neither did the heating come on.... Fortunately, the heating engineer was coming today anyway, to service it and cap off the old oil pipe for the Aga, so it worked out quite conveniently. Apparently, the noise was a failing valve trying to open, and today it actually died. Still, that's all done now, although he did mention as he was leaving that the boiler doesn't have a fire cut-off valve, so that's another job to get booked in with one of his colleagues.

I've got various pots in the conservatory with little plants in them: phlox, penstemon, lupins, hollyhocks. The first pair I grew from seed, the second came as plug plants and got potted on. Am I supposed to leave them as they are until spring, or should they go in the garden now?
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Another busy day

♥Oct. 24th, 2015 // 04:25 pm
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This morning, the decorator came to get ready for the Aga installation: taking off the old tiles and re-plastering (wow, he made that look easy!), chipping the bottom part down to the brick on one side to make the space slightly bigger, and levelling off the floor. All done by lunchtime, which was good, we just need to keep Jo off the floor for a bit.

While he was doing that, we rode (Mike's first time on Bugs since his Little Moment, all went ok but we did end up swapping because Bugs wasn't *quite* sound and I wanted to give him a canter. Didn't seem to make much different, but we'll see how he is in a couple of days) and I went to a local craft and (mostly) quilting show for a nose around. Some nice stuff, and some intriguing ideas, as well as a quilt made by Mrs Up The Hill, which I made sure to memorise a couple of conversation hooks from!

This afternoon, we've had a really big bonfire. We've burnt about half of the fence posts and panels, and none of the leylandii: in retrospect, we should have realised that trees that they removed with a digger would need chopping up before we could move them! We're now trying to decide if it's better to chainsaw them, or just to build the next fire on top of them.

(And now it's raining. That's annoying, it wasn't forecast to start for another few hours. Guess we'll get wet bringing the boys in. At least they've got their raincoats on, unlike The Horse Next Door.)
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♥Oct. 11th, 2015 // 06:09 pm
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Today, I decided to start making the notebook cover kit that I got for my birthday. Happily, there was enough fabric to make one that (fingers crossed) will fit my five-year diary, even though it's slightly bigger and much thicker than the book that was supplied. I've made good progress but probably should have stopped before I actually did, as my hands are complaining a bit now. Oops. I just wanted to finish the bit I was on.... The rest of it is now mostly machine work, other than a couple of little bits like a few french knots for eyes, so I should be ok with it but I think it should wait for another day.

This morning, to some alarums, we put the muzzle on Bugs for a few seconds and then took it off again and gave him sweeties. When we went to do it for real this afternoon, he did complain a bit but was better than yesterday or this morning. Whether that's because he's given up arguing or because I wrapped a rope around his nose and dangled off it when he tried to get away remains to be seen. And he didn't manage to get it off, either because the velcro was in a different place or because we strapped his headcollar on top. Anyway, Mike's working in town again on Tuesday so, as I doubt that I'll be able to do the job on my own, he's probably only got one more day to cope with.

We took Jo to the beach this afternoon, where we met what seemed like half the dog owners in eastern Kent. She did very well with the company (even a pack of four small white yappy things that descended on her) until she got tired, and then she just slunk away from everyone except us. I'm pleased to report that she seems to be less stiff when she gets up, so the drugs are working. Not sure if that means she's on metacam for life or if they'll give her something else instead, but we're back at the vet on Friday to find out.
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Mostly sewing

♥Sep. 14th, 2015 // 08:14 pm
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Muffins! Mike made fresh muffins! Lovely as it has been to have the Aga back in order to toast the ones that have been in the freezer for several months, I do have to say: muffins!

Today, I have mostly been sewing (cushions to match latest quilt), with occasional weaving (nothing exciting, I just picked up my hand loom a little while back when watching a film, and find myself keeping doing so) and attempting to explain VAT rules on which I myself am a little shaky* to someone who cares deeply but knows nothing about VAT.

* On the plus side for my ego, minus side for Getting Things Done, when I phoned HMRC the chap said "Oooh, I dunno..." as well.

(I would post a picture, but I still need to do a bit of hand finishing of the cushions, and anyway I can't face wrangling with Scrapbook, which I suspect is Still Broken for the iPhone app.)

It rained. Then it stopped. Then it started again. Then the sun came out. Then it stopped for a bit. Then the sun came back out. Then it rained. One of those days, although it was quite nice when the sun was out. One of those dog walks, in fact: if I *hadn't* gone out in my long coat, it totally would have persisted down. It's almost like I was doing a public service is getting over-heated!
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Mostly grey

♥Aug. 30th, 2015 // 02:00 pm
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We went out for a hack this morning, with Jo. Bugs was a wee bit frisky a couple of times, but nothing too terrible. We're not sure how much longer Jodie will be able to come with us on hacks, although in her defence it was still quite warm, if not sunny.

This afternoon, we've been out in the garden. I did some weeding and tidying up (which I'd actually meant to do to before we had people visiting, oops) and Mike strimmed the orchard, slightly belatedly: I'd been assuming that we should wait until everything had set seed, but apparently that's not the case when you've got a first year batch of corn field annuals to make it look pretty until the meadow perennials get going, oops. On the plus side, we'd been a bit worried about not seeing any sign of the latter but now that it's been cleared a bit you can see things starting to get established down at ground level. Need to leave it for a few days and then rake the clippings away.

I'm currently torn about fabric for the next quilt: I have a 10% off voucher for the shop in Canterbury (on account of buying the fabric for the previous quilt there), but I've seen a fabric that I think would work really well and that I don't remember seeing in there last time I visited (although it is a brand that they stock a lot of). I guess I'll go along and have a look: I'm sure that there will be other occasions to use the voucher!
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