Friday, 5 May 2017

Farewell, Archie

Archie: 2000 - 2017

This morning, I took Archie for his final walk (actually two of them), he had his final breakfast, he made his last visit to Mam and Dad's house, and then he took his final ride in the car on his fluffy blanket.
Do I get a treat for sitting so nicely?
Archie has been in fragile health for many years - he had a really bad back as the result of an attack by a much bigger dog a few years ago, and the injury constantly threatened the feeling in all four legs.  He also had a failing liver and a heart murmur, and the latter was slowly but surely getting worse and meant he was losing power in his back legs.  Throughout all this, he was he usual chirpy and stoic self and always looked well considering how many health problems he had.  He loved his food (particularly biscuits and tuna) and he loved his walks, right up until the end.
I love it here, lots of sniffs to sniff, lots of people to admire me.  Now, how about a biscuit?
Yesterday evening, I took him to the field (one of his favourite sniffing spots) and although initially keen to be there, he lost interest after a few minutes and it was then that I thought 'I think he's starting to fade.'  He was poorly overnight and I got up at half one and stayed up with him, sitting on the floor next to him while he snored away under a blanket without a care in the world.  I just couldn't bear to go upstairs and leave him on what I knew was his last night with me.
It's late, why are you still up?

While I was sitting with him, I thought about where I would take him for his final walk, and eventually decided that he'd like it to be at the beach as in his younger days he loved being there chasing stones, eating seaweed (and then throwing it back up in the boot on the way home) and digging a hole right at your feet if you stood still for longer than thirty seconds.  He was astonishingly good at running into the shallows after a stone and would come back with the right one, even if he'd never seen it before it was thrown.  I don't know how he did it, I can only assume that enough of my scent remained, even when immersed in the sea.  So this morning, I took him for a walk to the headland as it was as close to the beach as I could get him (too far for him to walk/be carried onto the sand and there's plenty of sniffs to be had in the long grass) and he had a marvellous time.  He got straight up off his bed when I asked if he'd like to go for a walk, his ears were fantastic and he wandered round for about twenty-five minutes, even haring off down one of the paths towards the beach.  (Old dogs are a lot like toddlers: they can move faster than you think when they want!)
Just the ticket: one final photo shoot.  Remember our agreement about payment upfront?

Aren't I handsome?

On the way home, I stopped at the top of the road (his most favourite sniffing spot) so he could have one last sniff and say goodbye to all the sniffs he has known and loved. He came back and promptly gobbled up a piece of chicken sausage, and then more sausage along with some chicken.  He was so perky and like his usual self that I began to wonder if I'd been mistaken, but deep down I knew it was a last hurrah and that it was time to say goodbye.  We went to see our favourite vet (and our favourite two receptionists) and he ate nigh on an entire packet of treats while waiting.  It was important that I let him go while he was still happy and still having more good days than bad: I didn't want to hang onto him because I couldn't bear to let him go, I wanted him to still have some quality of life and to walk into the vets', not be rushed in and carried in a blanket.  Me and Mam stayed with him the whole time and he wasn't frightened: I know I made the right decision for him, at the right time for him.

Archie, we met in August 2001 when I visited a small local animal sanctuary with Dad and Charlie, and the moment I saw you in the cage, I knew you were the dog for me and I was the owner for you.  You pressed your side against the mesh so I could stroke you and then you put your paw through one of the gaps and dragged my hand towards your armpit and chest, where you particularly liked to be stroked.  You did that many times over the years and I never failed to remember that moment in the rescue centre.
Aw, you had to pull out your sock again?
Fuss me

Thirty minutes after pulling up, and after a little walk round the woods with Charlie (to make sure you got on), we put you in the car and headed for home.  You sang all the way home and wandered round the back of the car, and I wondered if you were starting as you meant to go on.  In fact, you sang in the car for many, many years as you knew that going in the car meant going somewhere exciting.  I can't say I appreciated it all the time, but it was part of what made you you.
Comfier than it looks, honest!

More sun, fantastic!

People have wondered why I decided to call you Archie The Wonder Dog, and that's an easy one to answer: you were wonderful.  And also, because you used to lie on a favourite bed in such a way that you reminded me of Superman:

You were always obedient and keen to please (except when you nearly killed yourself chewing through the casing on the plug for the fridge-freezer while it was plugged in and switched on and it's only because you managed to pull it from the wall before you got right through the casing that I had you until today.  And the time you chewed my car tax renewal notice and the post master humiliated Mam when she handed it over.) and you only got lost once, when you followed the wrong person in the dark.  You'd been living here for about three months and you ran all the way home and waited for me at the gate, wandering out to greet me with an envious nonchalance as I gasped for breath, having also run all the way home after another walker said they'd seen a white dog sprinting up the cut.
Can we get going yet, I've got sniffs to find!
You were the whitest dog I have ever known and you kept your lovely white coat right to the end - no yellowing or grizzled muzzle for you and you deserved the nickname the local bairns gave you of 'Daz Dog': other dog owners would stop to ask how I kept you so clean, but it was all down to you and the fact that you tiptoed round deep puddles rather than running through them.  Not that you were afraid of getting dirty, just that you were afraid of water (which made bath time very stressful, even when you were being washed outside with a bucket of tepid soapy water and a flannel) and I always wondered if something had happened to you as a puppy.  You were in that rescue centre twice: once as a puppy and then again eighteen months later when your first family took you back.  I could never understand how or why they did that, but I'm glad they did because it meant I got to look after the best rescue dog who ever lived, and for that I will always be grateful.
Thank you for giving me my own way over breakfast - I'm just taking advantage of the sunny mornings while they last, it is almost October, you know.
I'm so white, I shine!
Archie, you have been my constant companion for nigh on sixteen years and I don't know what I'm going to do without you.  The house feels odd and I keep looking to see where you are and if you're okay.  I know you are, though, because you're with Dad, Charlie and Alfie, probably running around on the search for food.  You'll have to be quick, though, to beat Charlie to it!
It's tuna night! Something about her having to keep stocked up on tuna ice cubes, but I don't care about the reason! And wait until you hear this! There was tuna in my bowl with my tea! Actual tuna, not just the smell or the water!
I love tuna!
You loved a walk and you loved a biscuit (or three) and any combination of those made you happy.  You loved to walk on the beach, in the woods, on the moors or just round our local area and you were so obedient that you could be off the lead as soon as we left the roads behind.  You never ran off after something (apart from the odd half-hearted chase of a rabbit when you felt you owed your terrier ancestry to give it a go) and would always come back at the pip of the whistle.  Of course, you weren't always quite so obedient when it came to food and once nibbled a snout-sized hole in the bottom of the spare food bag (which lived under the settee in the conservatory at that point) and ate about a fortnight's worth of food in a few days!

You loved to play find the treat, and I would hide them round the house so you could find and eat them.  You greeted every visitor with the expectation of treats (and weren't afraid to put your nose in their bags to check for provisions) and you once even climbed on a park bench next to a friend who always gave you a treat and ate all the treats out of his coat pocket!  However, you were so charming that you got away with it, and he even got the treats out of his other pocket for you.
There's someone coming and he's definitely bringing biscuits - I requested them!

You were excellent at finding things the food fairy had left for you - an entire packet of biscuits, cheese, burgers, chips, a jam doughnut (although to be fair, that was momentarily left on the ground (in a box) by a boy playing hide and seek with his friends, not by the food fairy, but you weren't to know that and you certainly ate it with impressive speed - the boy couldn't believe how fast you were and how little you chewed it) and the only time you didn't come back when called was when you had your nose in a bag of food or you were searching for the final crumb from a piece of cake.  You always gave yourself away, though, because you'd come back licking your lips and looking very pleased with your find.  You also would spend hours standing at the fence between us and a previous set of neighbours when they had a barbecue because you knew that at some point a substantial piece of chicken would be passed to you.  In fact, they used to cook one specially for you so you didn't miss out!
I love my next door neighbours
Any moment now...
You had a lovely curly tail, which was incredibly hard to photograph, and the most expressive ears (and eyes) of any dog I've met: your ear action was good until the end.

Have you taken enough photos yet?

I think the lilac complements my ear action - what do you think?
The wind is playing havoc with my ears!
You loved a sunny spot, either inside or out:
Archie's to do list has one thing on it today: enjoy the sun!
Wall, I do love you.
and would lie on the front grass bathing in the sun and keeping watch for anything happening on the street.
I do love the feel of the sun on my back, even if the ground beneath my tummy is damp.
Nothing to report as yet.
Enjoying the sun
I'm afraid I can't look at you for much longer, I need to keep an eye on the street!

You also loved the snow, and would run gleefully through it, not at all fazed by the cold under your paws.
Archie in the snow
I love snow!!!
You also loved your sleep and would cover yourself completely in a blanket so that you couldn't be seen.  More than once I couldn't find you in the house, only to discover that you were under the heap of blankets and beds.  You much preferred to be under a bed than on it, and I'd often find you perfectly covered by a blanket...and laid on the cold kitchen floor.
I didn't like being in the kitchen by myself and the noise from the dishwasher meant I couldn't hear the marvellous Sandi and her QI facts so I've moved into the front room. I'm hoping to absorb the facts while I doze...

 The sound of gentle snores emanating from a blanket has been the soundtrack to the last sixteen years (well, that and the sound of you whingeing for another biscuit), and the house is silent now it's stopped.  Like a clock that's stopped ticking and which leaves an echoing silence in its stead.

I will miss you, Archie, in more ways than I can say.  I could fill hours with stories of how wonderful you were: kind, gentle, sympathetic, amusing. However, none of them would convey how much I love you or, indeed, how much I know you loved me.

Farewell, Archie, you were adored by many, and you are missed.

Keeping your eyes open and your head up is very hard when you're in a sunny spot. Particularly when you haven't yet had your breakfast. (I can smell it cooking, though, so I won't have to wait much longer!)
This is the life!

What's that, Mini Archie? Yes, @jenniesthreads has been working hard recently on some of her already started projects, that's true. Do you think we should take that into account when making our decision?
What's that, little one?

My other ear?  I don't know what you mean!

How can you resist this face?   You can't?  Great, I'll have a biscuit, please!

Are you sure pink's my colour?

Archie in the garden

Goodbye, Archie, and thank you.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Sewing Machine Mat

In October 2015, I made a trug to keep bits and pieces in (it's really handy if you're taking a project to someone's house/a workshop as you can fit lots in it!) and in the following months, I made a rotary cutter pouch, a needle book, a scissor holder and a Lola pouch from the leftovers (I started with a yard of the black and white print and a metre of the turquoise solid).  That left this little lot:
Remaining scraps

I decided that I'd make a mat for my sewing machine to sit on when it's on the table, as it's a bit awkward to push away from/pull towards me when I'm working.  And it would be a handy place to stick the odd pin or place a reel of thread on and not have it roll off the edge of the table.  As you can see, there's not an awful lot left, particularly not in large pieces, so I decided to add some bright pink solid (to reflect the pink trim on the inside of the trug and the pink quilting and pandas on the pouch) and the remnants of orange sketch I had left from making the Lola pouch.

As I'd recently published my 2016 FAL tutorial for adding accurate narrow strips, I decided to use that technique to make some pink/turquoise strips for insertion, which would bulk out the pieces and make it a bit more interesting to look at/make.
I'm working on my #ridiculouslylongFALlist and making some strip sets to eke out the scraps I have left from making a trug (and other accessories) to make a sewing machine mat. No proper plan, just a size to aim for (10" x 18"), a few scraps, some thread

I then sorted the scraps of black and white and trimmed the largest pieces square, and then tried to work out how I was going to join them together to make a large enough mat.  I knew I wanted it to end up around 11" x 18", so used the grid side of my board to lay everything out and keep an eye on the size:
Getting there...

In the end, I had to add larger pieces of the pink and turquoise solid to one side, with the tiny bits of orange I had to act as joining strips:
Pieced! And not a scrap of the black/white fabric left and no piece of anything else big enough for the binding, so I'll have to cobble something together, just like the rest of the project! (It's going to be a sewing machine mat, in case you're wondering

For some reason, I decided that I'd quilt lots of straight lines in matching thread, with the odd line of contrasting for interest in those larger black areas:
Quilted #Ivemadedoublebedquiltswithfewerendstodarnin Now to see if I have any plain black in my stash for the binding (which will have a flash of orange spliced in) #ridiculouslylongFALlist #makingthemostoftheleftoverleftovers

It looked a lot better once all 142 ends were darned in and I'd trimmed the excess wadding!

#onehundredandfortytwoendslateranditjustneedsbinding #thatstwohundredandeightyfourindividualthreads #nowonderittookawhile #allthisforsomethingmysewingmachineisgoingtositonandhide #makingthemostoftheleftoverleftovers

Then there was just the binding left to do.  I decided that it needed some orange inserted in it to give it some balance and brightness on that side, and had just enough left!

Finished! I made this sewing machine mat from the left over leftovers from when I made some sewing accessories (I've made a trug, scissor pouch, rotary cutter pouch, needle book and large Lola pouch from a yard of the black/white print and a metre of the

All that was left to do then was decide which way up it went for the photo!  It measures 11" x 18" (yeah!) and is the perfect size for under my machine.   And, best of all, I made it all from scraps, including the wadding!

As it's the end of the quarter, it's time to link up to the 2017 Q1 Finish-Along finishes link up.  My Q1 FAL list can be found here and this post is about item 19.
Just Jude Designs

At least when he's laid down he's less likely to swipe me with that very waggy tail of his, although I'm keeping a close eye on it *sighs* Guess I spoke too soon. Have a word with it, will you, Eddie!
It's lovely that the weather is starting to be nice enough for me to come and visit my favourite wall. And isn't it nice of me to share it with Eddie?
Thanks for popping in!

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Pretty Little Thing Mini Quilt

In May last year, I took part in a blog hop for Oakshott and made a table runner from their gorgeous Lipari range, which was being relaunched.  Before I launched into making the blocks for the runner, I needed to piece a test block to check the templates worked.  Here it is mid assembly:

Test block progress

I couldn't leave it on its own, so let it choose some potential friends:
The block wants some friends, the block wants some friends...

I decided to stick with the fabrics from Monico Solorio-Snow's Sew Yummy collection for Cloud 9 fabrics, so out went that multi dot and in came some tomato pin cushions.  I made an exception for the bead lines second down as that would make an ideal binding.

I pieced these blocks in fits and starts in between other projects as I found that having made sixteen whole blocks and four half blocks, my enthusiasm was somewhat lacking.  To think that when I made the test block I thought I might up the size a bit and make a big quilt!  I think not!

At some point I had three blocks:
And then there were three!

Then I had all the whole and half blocks I needed and laid them out.  This took longer than you'd think as I couldn't remember how they went together and where the half blocks were going, so I took the photo for reference, in case I forgot again!  And also because sometimes you spot changes you want to make when viewing a project on a small screen rather than in real life.  (This is how it looked at the start of the quarter.)
You know you're tired when it takes you a very long and puzzling twenty minutes to work out how to lay out the blocks so they fit together! Might swap the zips block and the scissors block... #handpiecing #prettylittlethingblock

I started joining the orange peel segments to the blocks and, as you can see, I don't tend to pin the whole of a curved seam, I do it section by section:
I'm joining @charmaboutyou for the #Saturdaynightcraftalong and doing a bit of #handpiecing to warm up my hands before starting some #handquilting. This is the mini quilt I'm making from the test for my #prettylittlethingblock and some friends I made for

Then the sections started to come together.  I took this photo as part of a photo hop on instagram when the prompt of the day was favourite technique:
#sewphotohop Favourite technique I love all kinds of hand sewing, particularly hand piecing. I love the way it enables me to easily and accurately sew pieces together which would be tricky on a machine and I love the slower process and the connection it g

By mid January, I had a finished top:
For the past couple of evenings, I've abandoned hand quilting in favour of hand piecing the #prettylittlethingblock test block mini and it's now ready for layering and quilting. I'm slowly plodding my way through my #2017FAL #ridiculouslylongFALlist and h

An hour or so at the sewing machine saw it quilted, and then it was trimmed and had the binding stitched to the front, ready for sewing down while I watched telly.  And then it was finished!  (And less than a year after I started it!!)
Finished! This was a test block for my #prettylittlethingblock #oakshottliparis project and as I didn't know what to do with one round block (7" diameter), I decided to make it some friends and turn it into a mini quilt for my sewing room wall. I used a b

As you can see, I kept the quilting simple and just went straight through each orange peel segment in white 50wt thread.  It's now pinned to my sewing room wall (you can just see the clear push pins in each corner) and I'm really rather pleased with it!

Quilt stats

Block: Pretty Little Thing block (found in 5500 Quilt Block Designs by Maggie Malone (ISBN 4972507749), where it's called 'A Pretty Patchwork')
Fabric: bright pink Oakshott background, Sew Yummy fabrics for the rest of the block pieces, something stripy for the binding
Piecing: hand, using Aurifil 50wt 2600 (dove grey)
Quilting: machine, using white 50wt (either Gutermann cotton or Aurifil, I can't remember)
Wadding: Vilene H640 (fusible fleece)
Size:13" x 18.5"

As it's the end of the first quarter, it's time to link up to the Finish-Along.  My Q1 FAL list can be found here and this post is about item fifteen.
Just Jude Designs

Archie's ideal way to spend a chilly day:
An unexpected dinner and a Friday which turns into Tuna Day and gives you extra perky ears requires a contemplative snooze. It's quite exhausting owning these ears, you know.
Do not disturb

Thanks for popping in!

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

A Finished Table Runner (AKA My Coffee Table Finally Has A Handmade Runner!)

Me again!

(I know, no posts for months and then loads in one week.  I'm going to try to be better next quarter!  Crowd (off): mutters We've heard that before...)

Way back in October, I started work on a tutorial for the 2016 FAL and chose to demonstrate how to accurately insert narrow (1/4") strips into a piece of fabric and, of course, I needed a project to demonstrate it on. I decided to make a table runner from pale grey Oakshott, with strips of darker grey inserted (and with blocks of turquoise inserted into those).  I didn't manage to get the runner quilted, so at the start of this quarter, it looked like this:
Ta dah! Just in case you're wondering, it's a table runner! It's currently about 18" x 36", but the borders are deliberately oversized so I can square them after quilting. Strips are 1/4" wide and there'll be a tutorial on my blog in January about how to

And here's a closer look at those inserted strips:

A closer look at the strips #ridiculouslylongFALlist #ridiculouslylongFALlistgang #Oakshottfabric #Aurifil

I spent a while puzzling how to quilt it until I took it to show a friend and we puzzled together and eventually decided that echoing the strips down the length of the runner would look quite nice.

I measured the width of the inserted section (11 x 0.25" = 2.75") so I knew how wide each quilted section needed to be, looked at the runner and decided how many sections I wanted (four), and then took four lots of 2.75" away from the length of the central section to give me the distance between each section.  (Still with me?!)  I then marked either edge of each section with a hera marker and got quilting, using the quarter inch mark on my walking foot as a guide for the bits in between the marked lines.

Here it is halfway through:
Halfway, if you ignore the border. #inblackandwhitebecausethecamerakeptinsistingonputtingapinktingeinthemiddleofthephoto

And here's what it looked like after I'd finished the quilting, but before I'd started darning in the ends:
#alltheends #nowIgettotrytheeasythreadneedles@cumbrianlongarmersentme #2017FAL #ridiculouslylongFALlist #ridiculouslylongFALlistgang #Oakshottfabric

As well as quilting the sections, I quilted in the ditch along the outer edges of the inserted section and either side of the narrow border (you can just see it in the photo above).

And here it is finished:
Done. Maybe I'll like it more if I wash and dry it so it crinkles? #2017FAL #ridiculouslylongFALlist #quarterinchstrips

I'll be honest, I didn't like it at first!  I think it was partly because I loved it so much as a flat piece of fabric that seeing the quilting took some getting used to and I felt that the unquilted bits were a bit stark.  I almost threw it in the wash to get it crinkled, but decided I needed to live with it first as you can't uncrinkle a quilt.  At the moment, I like it a lot more and it is currently uncrinkled.  Of course, it will need washing at some point and it will crinkle (it'll probably need blocking to make sure it still lays flat after washing), and that's fine, but at least I gave uncrinkled a chance!

As it's the end of the quarter, I'm linking up to the Finish-Along finishes link.  My Q1 FAL list can be found here and this post is about item 18.
Just Jude Designs

Well we thought it was all right but...
We like it, but it would be enhanced by the addition of biscuits
Thanks for popping in!
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