Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Olivegroves and Goldfinch!


     It is the end of April and today my thoughts turned back to many years ago when I handbred some Goldfinch. You need to know that the family has some land where they have animals: cows, pigs etc. There is also a dog and several half-feral cats there. In spring there are also always several nests in the old olive trees there.

     One day DH had gone down to feed the cows as he often does. When he arrived back he had something covered in the pail. He told me that he had found that the cats had killed two goldfinch and the hatchlings were still in the nest. He asked me if I could save them. I looked at the nest.  Five tiny birds with no feathers were there. Only one had it's eyes open! Poor little things! They had their beaks open hoping for some food! I was very dubious.

     A quick search online brought up some suggestions from Italian goldfinch breeders. These must be goldfinch although they looked nothing like the adult birds!  We got some food for them, ground it down and followed the hints we had found.  With some difficulty at first I gradually managed to get them to feed. I fed them at first every 2 hours from sunrise to sunset! I didn't dare leave them too long in case they died! The weather was still unstable and they could catch cold easily.

     Slowly they opened their eyes, and started growing feathers. It was fascinating watching as the tiny "buds"sprouted into beautiful gold coloured feathers!
     In the morning as I came downstairs they started calling as if I was their Mum! They would sit on my hand quite happily and fly back to me if free. Drove my poor cat crazy!

      As they grew I moved them from the small canary cage to a big cage designed for a squirrel so they had plenty of room to fly around. DH added a bit of olive branch for them to perch on. They were very tame but I didn't really want bird-droppings all over the house so in the cage it was!
 There was no way I could set them free as they weren't afraid of humans or dogs and cats and would have had a very brief life out in the open!
    I had them for many years. Two actually mated and had little ones. They were very lazy about feeding them,( I really think they expected me to do it!) but 2 out of 4 hatched eggs survived!
     I was so sad when gradually they died, although I knew they had had a reasonable life. Far better than if the cats had got them.
     Never ever steal birds (or eggs) from nests! The probability that they survive is very slight and it is very cruel!
     This morning I came across some old photos which I want to share with you. I wonder if others have had such a wonderful experience! I would love to hear from you if you did.

Aren't they cute here?

Excuse the photo of me looking like a witch! I didn't know she had taken that!

Feeding time!

Starting to get adventurous and perching on the edge of the nest!

Bye for now! Patricia.


Saturday, 25 April 2015

DIY doll tambourine tutorial

American Girl Folk Costume Tambourine.

DIY doll tambourine tutorial

     I have started making a folk dance costume for my doll and have already finished the skirt. Obviously  as usual I got side-tracked!  I started thinking about when my DD used to sing and dance in the local Folk group. They had people who played instruments obviously and she had a tambourine! (I added it to the photo so you can see what I was trying to achieve!)
      Off I went to see if I could find a small one to buy...nothing. The only one I did find doesn't ship to Italy. Ok, so lets find instructions to make my own...again nothing! I couldn't find anything in my search. Is it possible no one else has decided to make one?
So I got my thinking cap on and asked my DH for suggestions as well. This is the prototype of what we have come up with! All the things we used were already in the house. Some could be substituted by better alternatives. I could have done with having my DB here as well to help. Unfortunately he lives many miles away. He is far better than me at this sort of crafting!

Wood border for finishing off shelf edges. (DH used it a while ago for a cabinet he made. It sticks on  with heat, we used an old flat iron)
A ruler and pencil to mark where to cut the holes.
A small container to use as a form for the tambourine.
Some thin wire. A wire cutter.
The metal holders from 10 tealight candles. These are thin aluminium and can be easily cut with scissors. Bottle taps would have been a better alternative but I had none available.
A strong needle to make holes in the discs.
A punch to make holes in a belt. I used this to make it easier to cut slits in the wood border.
A sharp knife.
A stapler. White glue. Sticky tape.
Some narrow ribbon for decoration.

I think that is all.
First  I took the border and wrapped it around the small container. I overlapped the ends a little and cut it. Then I cut another piece the same length.
I used a ruler to mark the center and draw 5 spaces for the "metal" discs. With the belt punch we punched small holes along the line and then with the knife straightened the holes.
I cut 10 small circles from the tealight holders. With a needle I punched a hole in the center, 2 at a time so I was sure they matched.  I cut a short piece of wire, narrower than the wood border, and pushed it through the center of the two discs. I used some sticky tape to hold them in place on the inner piece, before placing the outer layer over. I used a staple to close the circle.
With the hot iron we sealed the two pieces of wood together.It would have been probably easier to just glue them in place!
One last hole near the join to tie the ribbons to.
DH used some wood stain on one of them, the other we left as it was.
Now I just need to get knitting and finish her costume!
Here are photos I took. Any suggestions for improvements are very welcome!

Handmade doll tambourine tutorial

Handmade tambourine

How to make a doll tambourine
Fairly realistic looking?

American irl doll tambourine

Monday, 20 April 2015

Three blankets

Just three of her baby blankets.

Grandma's Darling

     Grandma's Darling!

     It seems almost impossible that my DGD will be one this week!  Last year at this time I was busy finishing a babyblanket for her, which had been a last minute decision. I finished it and rinsed it one evening and the baby was born the next day way before the due date!
     So many things have happened in a year and now she is a smiley toddler with a will of her own. Time flies!
     The blanket I designed especially for this first Grandchild was already waiting long before. I spent a lot of time looking through stitch directories and taking notes, calculating stitch counts and finally decided to make it based on the old traditional "Frozen leaves" stich pattern which can be traced back to the 18th century. Old things continuing into new life!
     If you would like to make your own version of this design you can find it in my Ravelry shop. It is a free pattern. It has both written and charted instructions and, as always, has been testknit. You do have to sign in to ravelry I think but that is well worth it for anyone who loves knitting. It is a completely free site.
     This blanket  is called "Grandma's Darling" I am sure all Grandmas will understand just how much love goes into planning and knitting something like this for a new baby!

     I am lucky to live near enough to my DGD to see her frequently as she grows. I was many miles from my own family when my kids were small.                                                                                                                                                    

Monday, 13 April 2015

Monday Musings.

Monday Musings.

    This morning I was very happy to finish my doll's shawl. It has taken a lot of work: size 2mm needles and thin linen yarn.Although it still needed washing and blocking I rushed to take a photo straight away! Better ones to follow after it is blocked and her hair is styled!

     Still yarn related; my DD bought me 2 spindles yesterday and gave me them this morning. I do have one somewhere but don't remember where!

      I was given some "raw wool", and soon will be trying to wash it and turn it into yarn! Just waiting for the weather to co-operate! A new adventure! I will be sharing how that goes! In the meantime I'm very busy reading up on how to process it and watching online tutorials.

     Recently a very good friend sent me some of her own handspun yarn from Sweden. I designed my "Swedish Blocks" doll sweater especially to use it. (You can see it in my designs on my Ravelry page if you follow the link) Thankyou "A"! It is beautiful yarn. It was my first try at knitting with real handspun wool.
     That is what made me decide to try making my own. I mentioned it to my DH and VoilĂ ! He arrived with 3 big sacks of yarn! Baa baa Blacksheep! But this is white, or should be!
     I was told that I can have as much as I like as there is no market for it here. Free!
Next I will be wanting a spinning wheel!

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Spring has arrived.


The swallows are back! Spring has finally arrived . The damp winter is over.
I will try to enjoy these brief days as much as possible as all too soon the summer heat will make me close the shutters.
Everyone is still wrapped up in winter woolies. Even after so many years of living here I still haven't got used to this.My Mother-in-law would mutter that babies should always be wrapped up unless "the stones start to sweat"! Poor babies! Makes me wonder how they survived in the summer sun! But I digress:
Now itis time to start the spring cleaning, sweeping away the dust and the cobwebs that have crept in over the winter months. Hopefully not too many spiders!
Don't worry! I will still find time for my knitting. In the meantime I will fumble around trying to write on here and find out how it works! Ignorance sure isn't bliss!

About Me

     Well I still don't know my own way around this blog! What to say about me? I am English but have lived in rural southern Italy for many years.
     I was alone for many hours a day. There were no books available to me locally, no libraries and very little money. So I fought loneliness and  homesickness by spending my time knitting, crocheting and embroidering!
     Nowadays I spend my time designing and knitting clothes for 18" dolls. I have a collection of them.
     I live in a small villge which was very oldfashioned when I first came here. I had to learn to adapt to a totally different way of life. It wasn't easy by any means.