All about the animals

This week has had a distinctly animal theme, even more so than my normal weeks!

First up I have to mention that it was International Cat Day on Thursday. I remember celebrating this last year while my blog was in its infancy. I didn’t have time on the day this year to do a blog post (because we had a very nice man from Hillaries round to price up some blinds for the bay window in our living room) but I posted this picture on Instagram in recognition.

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The main picture is one of my favourites of our girls. I love how they’re cuddled up together on my Eeyore teddy but both looking round to have their photo taken. Aren’t they beautiful? The kitten picture was taken in the first week that they lived with us and they were already completely settled in (and we were already utterly in love with them). They were eight and a half weeks old here. They were completely fearless as kittens – that didn’t last! These days Tink seeks refuge in the corner of our living room as soon as anyone dares to touch the hoover and Olive makes short work of the stairs in pursuit of safety under our bed whenever anyone knocks on our door!

I’m going to jump back two days now to Tuesday morning. Anyone who follows me on Instagram or Facebook (or pretty much anyone with whom I’ve come into contact this week) will have already heard or read about my hedgehog drama.

I was later than usual leaving the house on Tuesday morning for reasons involving a key, my car bonnet and some chavvy-scumbag-waste of oxygen (that’s the more polite version of the moniker I was using for much of this week!) I don’t know what made me decide to pop down to the greenhouse to check on my tomato plants, but I did and I’m thankful to the God of luck or hedgehogs or fate or whatever it may have been.

As I approached the greenhouse I gasped because there was a hedgehog sitting looking at me. I was so happy for a millisecond as I snapped a photo to see a hedgehog, but almost immediately thought, why aren’t you running away from me? It was moving so I knew it was alive.

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Then I realised it had got trapped in the netting round our strawberry raised bed. Oh no, no, no! I started running around in a similar way to Rabbit when he realises Pooh Bear is a wedged bear in much tightness, and in his front door, no less! I got scissors from the greenhouse and started gently trying to free him.

The netting came away reasonably easily from his back as I carefully snipped away, but as soon as I’d freed him slightly he must’ve got some room to move and he adopted typical ‘I’m a scared hedgehog’ pose and curled up into a ball. I went and put gloves on at this point because I needed to pick him up to detangle the netting from his little feet. I was so scared I was going to hurt him, so I really lightly tugged at the little bit of netting that was left but it came off without having to apply any force.

I put him back down and ran back to the house and got some water and hedgehog food that I was given in my goodie bag from Gardeners’ World Live. I had no idea how long he’d been there so I didn’t know if he’d be hungry and/or thirsty. I sat back and tried to be completely silent so he’d think I’d gone, to see if he uncurled and tried some food or ran away, but he didn’t. I think the poor thing was just petrified after his ordeal.

It was approaching time for me to leave, and I had no idea if he was injured at all, so I decided I’d take him to the vet. If he stayed there curled up all day I didn’t know if a fox or cat or even a squirrel or bird might attack him. I already felt guilty enough for not having been careful enough with the netting in the first place to let this happen, I didn’t want a hedgehog massacre on my conscience too.

Luckily we’ve been somewhat remiss with keeping on top of taking our bigger recycling to the tip, so I had a box in the kitchen.

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I scooped him up and threw in a few hedgehog snacks just in case and trundled up to the vet. I didn’t go to our normal vets because it’s further away and I didn’t want him to be stressed out any longer than necessary. I think he’s upside down in the picture. Poor thing.

I rang the vet later in the day and he’d been walking around and eating. Phew! I offered to collect him and release him back in our garden (now the netting has been safely removed) but they said he’ll go to a hedgehog sanctuary to be monitored for a couple of days and will then be released again. Let’s hope by now he’s happily snuffling around someone else’s garden.

I was a bit concerned in case he was a she, and there are babies around somewhere wondering where their mum’s gone. It seems, according to the oracle that is google, that hoglets are reasonably self sufficient pretty soon after birth so hopefully all is ok. I decided to invest in a camera to install near where I found the hedgehog just to see what might be wondering through and around our garden.

I found this one on Amazon for a pretty good price.

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How irritating! It’s now on a lightening deal reduced by £7.51! Oh well, we wouldn’t have the last two nights’ photos if I hadn’t bought it full price.

I made the mistake of sitting on the swing chair straight after fitting it to the raised bed so we got some pictures of me!

Me in relaxed mode, me in deep social media concentration mode and me joined by the man of the house!

We did however get some pretty decent animal pics. There were several pigeons.

We even got the elusive Jay.

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Not the best of photos but better than anything I’ve managed to get thus far because Jays don’t seem to be as brave as pigeons and magpies. The camera’s set to 5mp so I think I’ll change to the maximum 12mp to try and get some better images.

By the way, have you spotted the deliberate error? I’ve changed the time settings now!

We had a feline visitor. This is a new cat to the area. There are actually two of them, both black and white – siblings I’m guessing – but I think this is just one of them.

We almost got the perfect close up …

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… but only almost!

I’ve saved the best for last.

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What a handsome young fellow!

I’m amazed that we didn’t capture any squirrels because there’s pretty much always one there when you look out. I guess they spend a lot of their time on fences and up higher.

We did manage to catch the Greater Spotted Green Girl Gardener!

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It’s impossible not to get snapped when you go to retrieve the memory card!

Right, I’m off to put the prawn crackers that came with our Chinese tonight up there in the hopes of enticing some wildlife. A bowl of water might be a good idea too. I really want to snap another hedgehog or even a badger. That would be amazing!

Enjoy the rest of the weekend folks.

September Little Box of Crochet

Good evening all!

I’m just quickly checking in because I’ve finally finished September’s Little Box of Crochet which I told you about here.

Oh my goodness I found this one hard, and it took a good deal of grit and determination not to have a hissy, stampy feet fit and give up!

As a quick reminder, September’s project was Gareth the Sleeping Fox.

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Gareth is crocheted entirely in waistcoat stitch which is how he got his name. Gareth Southgate, England Manager, became one of the most talked about men in the country when he dressed so snappily during every game that England played at the World Cup, always including a waistcoat.

I’d never heard of waistcoat stitch before I received my box, much less attempted it. Having googled it, I’ve discovered that it’s often called knit stitch, and it really does look like knitting rather than crochet.

The effect is achieved by inserting the hook in a different part of the stitch to normal crocheting. For any crocheters out there I’ve tried to illustrate the difference in the following photos.

The arrow on the first photo is pointing to where you insert the hook to create waistcoat stitch, right in the v of the knit like stitch. On the second photo the arrow points to the very top of the stitch and this is where the hook goes in regular crochet.

You wouldn’t think this would make much difference to the actual crocheting, but gosh it did! I almost had to resort to using a thimble because it’s so much harder to push the hook through.

Anyway. Enough of that. On to Gareth!

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Here are all his body parts before they were foxed up!

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Tail and body now attached.

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Slightly out of focus. Whoops! Foxy face stitched on.

…… and, drumroll!

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Rubbish lighting! Couldn’t decide whether he looked best with the flash, without the flash or just with the big light on! I had to go rootling around in the garden with the torch on my phone to find some nice leaves for staging purposes! Quite creepy I have to say with ghosts and ghouls still lurking around the corner from Halloween and fireworks banging around me! The things I do to try and get a good photo!

I can see a couple of little errors on the Fairisle parts (the bits with white and orange together) but on the whole I’m pleased with how he’s turned out and I’m glad I persevered.

I can’t say I’ll be rushing to do waistcoat stitch again, but I’m happy that I mastered it and have an extra string to my crocheting bow. I might find it easier using acrylic yarn since it’s not as rigid as cotton, but the downside to that is that the stitches wouldn’t look as defined.

So, onwards and upwards to October’s box and another new technique – Tunisian crochet. This one’s coming on holiday with me in four days, twelve hours, five minutes and forty two seconds. Forty one … forty … thirty nine … thirty eight …

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Fantastic Mr Fox

It struck me yesterday that there’s quite a lot of foxy business going on in our house at the moment, but a lot less going on in the garden.

I told you a while ago about our fox pooping problem in the garden. Well that seems to have stopped, which is good for our garden but potentially not good for the fox! I googled the life span of a wild fox, and it doesn’t make for happy reading. Although in captivity foxes have a similar life span to their domestic counterparts, in the wild foxes only live for two to five years. It’s a hard life out there, they have to contend with disease, parasites and predators (which in the UK is pretty much us with our cars and chemicals).

I’ll be quite happy if I see the fox again (even if it does mean picking up fox poo) but if, as I suspect, our fox is one of these cubs that were born in our garden a couple of years ago, then he will have reached the lower end of his life expectancy. I’ll think positive: he didn’t look diseased or parasitic and I never saw him roadside, so maybe he’s just gone to poo elsewhere!

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Inside our house it’s a different story. I have a crochet drumroll moment for you coming up.

I’ve been working on a Christmas gift for my mother-in-law for a few weeks. She has a fox that visits her garden that she feeds every day so when I bought this book by Sarah Zimmerman ….

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….. and saw the fox motif, I knew I had to make it for her. This was my first experience of corner to corner (c2c) crochet, and I have to say, while I love the finished project, I didn’t love the process. In order to get the different colours in the right place you end up having lots of different little balls of yarn attached to your work which get tangled up as you crochet and turn your piece.

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I do love the effect when it’s finished though. I think it makes all the detangling and rude words worth it!

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Here’s the motif finished. I decided to make it into a cushion with a stripy back. The stripy c2c was much less faffy than the fox because the colour changes were much less frequent.

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You can see my lovely new clover hook had arrived by this point. This hook practically glides through my work with no snagged yarn and very few dropped stitches. I’ve since ordered lots more sizes so I’m never without a clover hook.

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Anyway, back to the foxes.

Time for the drumroll moment …….

Whoop! Not even into November and I have one Christmas present sorted already!

Now you may think one fox is enough for one house, but not this one. My Little Box of Crochet for September arrived on my birthday (what impeccable timing). Obviously I opened it straight away to drool over the scrummy contents, but I was very disciplined and didn’t start it until after I’d finished the cushion. Look at the box.

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Gives you a good clue to what the project might be, and I’ve also given you an extra hint with our foxy tray behind. 

Here’s the fox himself on the cover of the pattern booklet.

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As ever, the box is crammed full of everything needed to make Gareth the Sleeping Fox as well as some super cute extra gifts.

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There’s a foxy stitch marker which is needed to keep track of your rounds with this project. This was designed by Beth from Koruclay. You can find Koruclay on Facebook, Etsy and Instagram if you’d like to have a quick peek at the goodies.

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And some gorgeous little chicken buttons by incomparable buttons, who are also on Etsy.

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This beautiful, and so so useful tape measure is in perfect keeping with the theme. I told you about the tape measure before here, but here it is again in all its wonderfulness.

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Little Box of Crochet always includes a postcard. This one is designed by Jennie Maizels.

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I’d love to know what other Little Box of Crochet subscribers do with their postcards. They’re far too lovely to actually send (or is that really selfish of me?) I feel I should display them somehow because they’re sooooo pretty.

This project uses waistcoat stitch which I’ve never done before. I started it last night and, oh my goodness, I found waistcoat stitch difficult. I just couldn’t see where my hook was supposed to go, but after frogging my work a hundred times, I think I cracked it, although it doesn’t look perfect!

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I really like it, it looks like knitting. In fact, one of the tutorials I found on YouTube called it knit stitch.

I should probably explain frogging for non-crochet people. It’s a fairly new word to me, and I have to admit I thought it sounded a tiny bit rude and had to google it to reassure myself that the crochet world hadn’t lost its collective marbles, but I get it now I know what it means. I’m sure it wasn’t around before I took my kitten enforced crochet hiatus. It comes from the frog sound ribbit, ribbit. It sounds like rip it, rip it which is essentially what you do when you undo your crocheting.

Well, I think that’s all I have to say about foxes for now. I’ll be sure to show you all my finished Gareth when I get there.

Hope everyone enjoys the rest of the weekend, rainy and blustery though it may be!