A slight obsession with books

Reading and Fibrecrafts


An adventure playground for our cats

I posted pics of our garden a couple of weeks ago to show you the area that we’d cleared ready for the new enclosure to be erected. It looked very bare and muddy. Very muddy.

We’ve been so excited about the enclosure since we planned and ordered it last year. It’s taken a lot of hard work on Stephen’s part to get the garden ready for it and there’s a lot more work to do but the framework is now up. It’s been made to order by Bespoke Aviaries. They’ve made some beauties, which are all on their FaceBook page but I believe ours is one of the largest. It was hard to decide on colours but we went with a pale green that matches the house for the main colour and a zingy yellow for the contrast. I like it and when the landscaping is done I think it’s going to look amazing.

Would you like to see it?

It’s not the easiest thing to  photograph. It takes up so much of the garden that you can’t get it all in from outside the enclosure so you’ll have to get an idea of it from various photos taken inside it. It’s almost as wide as the house and is attached to it so the cats can come and go through the back door and a couple of windows if we leave them open for them.

The morning after it was installed and the paint was all dry, (some bits had to be touched up) we opened the back door to see if the cats would go out. Frodo was out before we had a chance to get out ourselves and Sammie wasn’t far behind him.

As you can see, we quickly added some cardboard to the ground to avoid having muddy cats. Knowing Frodo, he’d have been rolling in it. We’d been hoarding cardboard for a while as we thought we’d be needing it.

There are lots of shelves around the walls so the cats can run and jump all the way around the three sides without touching the ground if they want. Frodo soon discovered that and started to explore the higher levels.

He loves the ladders!

One of the roof supports is a brilliant scratching post with several ledges. Sammie took possession of that early on and absolutely loves it.

She’s quite fond of the other roof supports too and pretends to be a gymnast, swinging from the bars and balancing on them.

You might be wondering where Rosie is. Rosie was a bit scared of all that open space, especially as the first day was quite windy and she’s a very fluffy cat. Frodo seemed to be enjoying having the wind ruffling his fur but Rosie was not at all keen and didn’t want to go out. We’ve let her think about it over the past week or so and gradually she’s got closer and closer to the back door and eventually she ventured out onto the patio.

She wouldn’t go far or stay out long and if we went near the door, she’d bolt back inside. On one occasion, she was lurking in the doorway and Frodo left his perch at the top of the garden, where he’d been bird-watching, and came right up to her chirping at her. It’s as if he was reassuring her that it was ok and he’d look after her. She did come out a bit further that day and has been a bit braver each day since.

She had a little look at the shelves today but wasn’t too sure about them but I think once she feels more secure out there she’ll be whizzing up and down like the other two. It’s easy to forget that she’s still just a baby sometimes as she’s bigger than Sammie and catching up to Frodo. We think she may end up being bigger than him if she keeps up this growth rate.

So, there it is, the adventure playground for our cats. The plan for the landscaping inside it is some slabs round the edges, artificial grass, lots of ornamental grasses with different heights, colours and textures, plus lovely chunky pebbles around the grasses. There’ll also be a water feature for Rosie to play with if we can find what we’re looking for as we want a solar-powered one.

Then we need to tidy up the rest of the garden so it doesn’t look such an almighty mess when we’re sitting on the patio with the cats.



CAL – Last dance on the beach #16

This is the scheduled three-weekly post for the SAL that I’m doing with several other crafty blogs. As I’m struggling to find time to do any cross stitch, plus keep up with all the crochet that I’m doing, I’m going to use these posts for the Last Dance on the beach blankets. That’ll make sure that I finish them, and then I can get back to some stitching.

Blanket one is finished! Dance under the stars.

The joining took forever so I was happy to finish that. I’m trying not to think about the next blanket that’s waiting to be joined. I’m also happy that I managed to get all the squares the right way up.

It’s very soft and squishy. I really liked the Scheepjes yarn. It’s lovely to hook with and feels beautiful. It’s going to be great to snuggle under.

The border was supposed to be a bit wider but I liked how it looked after five rounds so decided to stop there.

I’m now debating whether to carry straight on with the other blanket or maybe do some cross stitch. Maybe I’ll surprise you next update LOL

For the stitch-a-long I’m linking up to these lovely blogs:

 Kathy MargaretCindyHelenStephLindaCatherine,  Wendy

Not everyone does an update each time, but their blogs are always worth a visit.


Temperature blanket #2

My temperature blanket is growing nicely now. There’s still more Indigo than Violet in it, especially over the past week or so as it’s been quite chilly at times, but I’m hoping to see some more Violet this month and maybe some Heather too.

You can see the hexagonal shape of it much more now that it’s a bit bigger. I’m really pleased that I chose to go with that shape instead of trying to do a rectangle or square with the hexies.

02hexies-03It can be a bit tricky seeing where my next hexie is to go though, so I’ve got markers on each hexie of the previous round and a purple marker on the leading edge of the current round just to make sure I don’t go wrong. I may need to start using yarn scraps as markers for the next round though as I’m running out of the plastic ones.



A very bare garden

A few years ago we cleared the jungle that was lurking outside our back door and turned it into a vegetable garden. We’ve grown tomatoes, beans, courgettes and lots of other lovely veggies.

Last year, Stephen had to do most of the work himself as my legs and back were getting worse and I was so tired from the full-time rota at work. We decided that this year we’d drop the gardening as it was too much for us to cope with, and we’d use the space for an extended cat enclosure instead.

Stephen has been very hard at work outside over the last couple of months and has cleared away the old enclosure, a shed, and lots of junk that had piled up.

garden04 garden05That small shed has now gone too, as have some more of the slabs. Just in time too as they’re coming to install the new enclosure in a few days.

I can’t wait to see the cats when they can just stroll out the door and play outside. We’ll be landscaping inside the enclosure with hard and soft areas, plus some non-toxic plants for them to hide under to bird-watch. I’m planning a solar-powered water feature for Rosie and some tunnels for Frodo. Sammie will love all the climbing areas.

More photos to come soon.


CAL – Last dance on the beach #15

This is the scheduled three-weekly post for the SAL that I’m doing with several other crafty blogs. As I’m struggling to find time to do any cross stitch, plus keep up with all the crochet that I’m doing, I’m going to use these posts for the Last Dance on the beach blankets. That’ll make sure that I finish them, and then I can get back to some stitching.

Last time I finished the squares for the Rain blanket which was a huge milestone. This time I’ve finished the last squares for the Stars blanket! Whoo hoo.

stars-wk12That’s all the squares done for both blankets now. I am so chuffed!

As you can see, once again I decided not to go with the scheduled square and did one of the previous squares. I think this one, the corner to corner square, was probably my favourite to crochet. it’s so easy to do and works up so quickly.

The Stars blanket is definitely going to be colourful. This is all 48 squares, sitting in their piles.

stars-12-weeksPretty, yes? So, while I’d got them all out, I got some paper out and labeled each square with its week number to make it easier to lay them out in the right order. The instructions come with a chart for how to do that and it’s very random so I needed to make it as easy as possible.

Once I’d done that, out of curiosity, I laid it all out on the floor. Just to see what it would look like.

stars-12-weeks-aAnd then, I somehow found myself with a crochet hook in hand, doing the zipper stitch to join the squares together. I haven’t finished the joining, but I have done all the vertical joins and two of the horizontal joins. It looks quite good.

stars-join01It feels about three times larger than it actually is when you’re joining it as all the squares are on your lap at the same time but are all trying to go in different directions. I’ve been using stitch markers to hold the squares together, while doing the vertical joins, to stop them twisting as otherwise they flap about all over the place. The stitch itself is easy peasy, but wrangling the blanket is not. There’s not much more joining to do though so there’s every chance there’ll be a finish for the next update as I only have the border to whack on next.

For the stitch-a-long I’m linking up to these lovely blogs:

 Kathy MargaretCindyHelenStephLindaCatherine,  Wendy

Not everyone does an update each time, but their blogs are always worth a visit.


Fat bottomed bags

When I first started the Last dance on the beach CAL, I took a look around the website of the original designer. The CAL was in her memory and her website, with all its inspiration, was still up for people to enjoy. I found a pattern on there for a bag that looked so pretty that I filed it away for future use and a few months ago, decided to make two of them for birthday presents.

It wasn’t a difficult design and the instructions were clear so I felt fairly confident although it was something that I hadn’t tried before as it combined crochet and sewing with a bit of decoration.

These are some of the bits and bobs from my stash, although I changed my mind on the lining fabric before starting the bag.

blue05Obviously there was yarn as well, but I’d already started crocheting before I thought to take a photo.

First I needed to crochet a granny square. For the pink bag I did a solid square but I went with a more open square for the blue bag.

blue04Next it needed to be lined, which was a bit trickier than I’d anticipated but once I’d got my walking foot on, my sewing machine coped nicely.

blue06The next stage was to add lace. Whatever lace I wanted and as much as I wanted. I did the two bags slightly  differently to keep it interesting. This is the lace on the flat square.

blue07Once that was done it was just a case of putting some crochet on the non-lace edges and then the lacy edges, which enclosed the handles.

That made the structure of the bag so then came the really fun bit, which was adding the ribbons, beads and crocheted flowers with button centres.

blue02 blue01And the finished bag –

blue03And, this is the pink one, details first –

pink02 pink01The lining –

pink03And, the finished bag –

pink04They were fun to make and quite easy and hopefully my friends liked them 🙂




Temperature blanket #1

My blanket is coming on nicely. I’ve managed to keep up with doing a hexie each day without any problems. I’m getting faster at doing them too. I am getting to the point where I’d quite like to use some other colours though. I was chuffed to bits on the one day in January when the temperature reached the range that I’ve allocated to Violet, but sadly that was the only one so the lone Violet hexie looks a bit lonely.

01hexiesjanIt’s about 20″ across now so is growing nicely. It looks a bit lop-sided but that’s because I’m part way through the fourth round.

Fingers crossed that we get a bit more variation in the temperatures in February. That Violet hexie would really love some company 🙂