Splodge & Noodle

If you follow me on Instagram then I’m sure you’re familiar with my cats Splodge and Noodle – but I realised that I’ve never written a blog to properly introduce them! I’m going to begin with my favourite kitten pic of Splodge…

She’s so fluffly!

I can’t introduce Splodge without mentioning her sister Sausage. I adopted them from a neighbour (in the image below) when they were tiny! They were about seven weeks old and their mum had started lashing out at them so I took them a bit earlier than planned.

They were in a litter of four (three girls and one boy). The owner wanted to keep one of the girls and I didn’t think it would be a good idea to take a girl and boy so that left me with these two bundles of fluff… I would’ve chosen them anyway!

As a kitten, Splodge was playful, mischievous and somewhat crazy! Sausage was a bit quieter and often just sat and watched while Splodge raced around.

As soon as I sat down Splodge would be on my lap, whereas Sausage would stare intensely at me for ages to make sure I was staying put before coming to join us for some aggressive kneading and drooling!

They had such different personalities but they were both gorgeous cats. They loved being together and would always sleep in the same basket and groom each other. When they got bigger and I put them in separate baskets for a vet trip, they both yowled until I put them into one basket and then they stopped. They seemed to comfort each other.

When they started to go outside, Splodge was rarely far enough away from the house that I couldn’t see her from the window. She’s still like that today and I’m sure she would happily be a house cat. Sausage however would wander off for ages and only really came in for food and a bit of evening lap-time.

So when they were two and Sausage went missing it was nearly 24 hours before I really started to worry as it was normal for her to miss a meal, but very rare for her to miss two.

I’ll never know where she went for sure, but I guess she ran into the road. We’re not on a main road and when the council said they had a record of a black cat found about a mile away I thought it was too far to be Sausage. But they don’t make a record of collars (which she may have lost anyway) or check micro-chips, so I’ll never know. If she’d found her way over the main road she would have been stuck there and lost – so it’s possible.

Splodge was hugely stressed when Sausage disappeared. They are creatures of habit and she had never been alone before. She became very clingy – yowling whenever I left the room, not going out as much and over-grooming to the point where her belly and legs were virtually bald. I felt guilty leaving her to go to work… but someone’s got to pay for the cat biscuits!

After a couple of months I decided to get another cat – hoping that the company would calm Splodge (or at least distract her!). And that’s when Noodle became part of our family!

Noodle had been taken to the rescue centre because he had been ‘beating up’ his siblings and other cats in the neighbourhood. He was approximately 9 months old and when he arrived he hadn’t been neutered. The rescue centre had him neutered and he immediately calmed down a bit and was living happily in a pen with a brindle cat that looked very similar to Splodge. I fell in love!

I wouldn’t say that Splodge and Noodle got on immediately, but after a lot of hissing and growling from Splodge and a couple of accidents from Noodle (he was too scared to walk past Splodge to get to the litter tray!), things calmed down and Splodge stopped pulling her fur out.

Noodle still has a slightly aggressive side with other cats, but he rarely takes it out on Splodge. Just before meal-times when he’s hungry he will sometimes pounce on her and they occasionally bat each other round the head! They generally seem content in each others company and often sit in the garden together or even curl up in a basket together when they think no-ones looking!

Noodle is like a permanent angsty teenager who lollops around in a slightly clumsy manner – so we weren’t hugely surprised when he broke his foot a couple of years ago! It didn’t heal properly so he has a weakness there but (touch wood) he’s not aggravated for a long time.

He meows ALL the time! He’s the chattiest cat in the world! He has a slight look of a Bengal cat and chattiness is one of their characteristics so we think he might be part posh cat.  He’s very affectionate, likes a lot of attention and he knows he’s beautiful!

Now nine and a half – Splodge has filled out a bit and is like a gorgeous cuddly ewok. She was fat-shamed on her last trip to the vets so she’s on a diet at the moment – but apart from that she is healthy and happy.

She’s still quite a skittish cat and has grudgingly accepted that Noodle is top-cat. She will groom him and stay out of his way when he’s hangry… but if he’s sitting on my lap and she wants to be there – she’s not afraid to sit on him until he moves!

Minimalism 

I recently watched the Minimalism documentary over on Netflix. Since watching it I’ve been following The Minimalists over on Instagram and gathering pearls of wisdom!

I don’t want to live in a blank space but I’m aware that I have a lot of superfluous “stuff”. This stuff actually adds stress and pressure to my life because it’s more stuff to clean/look after/feel guilty about getting rid of because I hate waste!

I love the idea of streamlining and only having things I get value from in my home. Things I use/wear or things that bring me happiness. The following quote pretty much sums this up for me…

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”

William Morris

I’ve already made a start on minimalism. Whenever I see something I want to buy, I’m asking myself more questions. Do I “need” it/is it useful? Do I really love it? Will it last? Where will it go? Is it worth it?

It’s amazing how quickly you can put yourself off spending money!

I really want to pay the Minimalism game but life is rather busy at the moment and just the thought of it overwhelms me! So in the meantime I’ve decided to just set myself some mini challenges until I have time for full house minimalisation! (I’m just making up words now…).

So I decided to start with something simple. Mugs!

Who needs 28 mugs? Certainly not someone who doesn’t drink tea or coffee! But I do get a huge amount of pleasure from making myself a hot chocolate in one of my favourite mugs. It’s my little treat in the afternoon when I’m working from home.

I thought mugs would be easy to sort – but where do we draw the line between how many you need (probably one each realistically) and how many you love (approximately 28 apparently).

Rather than deciding which mugs to get rid of – Beardie and I decided to approach it differently and just choose five mugs each which we wanted to keep. I started by removing these three lovelies from the choice because I will use these as candle holders/small vases/plant pots (which will be minimalised another time!)

And then we chose our five each….which ended up as seven and a half each because we wanted to keep a couple of “builders” mugs that we wouldn’t be upset about if they get broken, and we couldn’t bring ourselves to break up pairs of mugs!

Despite a bit of cheating – it felt like a good first step and pretty satisfying to get rid of ten mugs we don’t use!

Is anyone interested in playing the Minimalism game with me later this year?!

Finished Rag Rug

RagRug_closeupI invited a few friends over at the weekend to celebrate the launch of my book – The Knitted Nursery Collection – but it was mostly an excuse to show off my newly finished rag rug!

I started working on this about two and a half years ago when I redecorated my living room and the room now finally feels complete!

My front door opens directly into the living room so I lose quite a bit of space to the stomping through to the kitchen area. I decided to make the rag rug circular because I thought it would make the rest of the room feel cosy and separate it from the stomping path. It works really well!

RagRug_birdseye1When I started working on it, my friend (who’s mum is an expert rag rugger) recommended that I used fleece blanket type materials so that they wouldn’t fray. I half listened to her! I used a mixture of cheap fleece blankets from Ikea alongside some cheap curtains from Ikea, some old faded curtains I already had and an old tweedy skirt. The fleece has worked brilliantly but the other bits are fraying and I seem to be constantly covered in little bits of fabric! I’m hoping it will be like using a yarn that sheds whilst knitting and then settles down when you start wearing it. Fingers crossed it will stop shedding soon!

I really like the back of it – it looks like pebbles. It was slipping all over the place when I first put it down, so I’ve sewn some non-slip backing on and it’s amazing – I’ve tried dancing on it and it doesn’t slip at all!

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Because the rag rug felt a bit like a mammoth overwhelming project, and was perhaps less relaxing than knitting – I declared Sunday night as rag rug night and it was a great way to chip away at it bit by bit.

My next Sunday project will be scanning in all of my Mum and Dad’s old photo’s so that we all have digital copies. I’ve made a start, but I think I need to make sure I do a bit every weekend – hopefully it won’t take as long as the rag rug!

Crafty Storage

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I love finding out where and how people store their yarn stash – but I would also love to know where you keep all your other crafty ‘stuff’!

DrawDisplayI think we probably all stand united in our love of small boxes, tins and purses for keeping needles, stitch markers etc – but where do you keep your medium sized stuff?

I’m rather pleased with my Ikea drawers. I painted them the same colour as the walls in my knitting room and they’re crammed full with ribbons, pom pom makers, buttons and tapestry wool.

They also came in very handy as display props at Yarndale! The individual drawers made good display boxes for my printed patterns and smaller knitted samples – I also stacked some up to create height.

I’ve always been jealous of my Dad’s garage storage, with his organised bits & bobs drawers and wall of tools.

When Dad came over in the summer to help with putting up our new fence – he arrived with some neat boxes, full of everything we needed, with nails organised by size in yoghurt pots. He probably knew that although I have lots of tools – I can never find them in my huge disorganised box of DIY ‘stuff’!

To have a house big enough to be able to hang my tools on the wall and find things would be a dream! But I do have a bit of space in my utility room and decided to was time for a sort out.

The Ikea drawers were perfect, so I bought a small set for bits & bobs and some larger ones for tools etc. I painted them with chalkboard paint, which covered really easily. I was relieved I didn’t need a second coat because the fumes nearly knocked me out! I used a liquid chalk pen, which was less messy than chalk and I think will stay put better as it needs a damp cloth to wipe it off.

It’s absolutely lovely knowing where everything is and not having to rummage! Where do you keep your crafty ‘stuff’?

Crafty Plans

Now that dad’s renovated my lovely Ercol armchair and the strapping is done, I’m desperate to make the cushions so that I can actually sit in it!

This might be a slow process because I have an awful lot of knitting to do (still secret – sorry). But I love planning a project as much as I love the making process.

If I’m feeling a bit down, nothing cheers me up as much as looking through my knitting books and shade cards. I love emptying a box of yarn or fabric onto the floor and playing around with colours and patterns. I find thinking about and planning projects almost meditative. It’s very difficult to do nothing and even more difficult to think about nothing! But planning a new project forces me to focus my mind on one thing, which is easier than completely switching off, but better than a busy brain.

So – I’ve got the foam ready for the seat pad, a squishy cushion for the back of the chair and a pile of beautiful Parson Gray fabrics.

The armchair lives in my workroom, which also doubles up as my boyfriend’s gaming room. Luckily we have similar tastes and I chose greys and greens for the room. A patchwork of Parson Gray fabrics will fit in beautifully!

What projects are you planning at the moment?

Patchwork Cushion

 When I sorted out my work room, I discovered that I have a ridiculous amount of lovely fabric scraps!

My friend Steph recently completed a beautiful paper-pieced quilt and I felt inspired to have a go. I want to do a double bed sized hexi quilt – which will probably take decades! So I thought starting off with some patchwork cushions would be a good way to give paper-piecing a try.

wpid-img_20150111_184353.jpgI really enjoyed making the cushion. The main reason I like knitting more than sewing is the fact that sewing often needs more equipment or requires digging my machine out from under a pile of fabric. But hand stitching is rather relaxing! I used a Prym fabric glue pen to stick the fabric to the paper pieces so I didn’t have to fiddle about with tacking – it did the job and rinsed out easily after removing the paper.

My list of to-do’s for the living room is gradually shrinking. I’m mostly keen to finish the rag rug because it’s amazing how much colder the room is now I’ve taken up the carpet! I could just buy a rug but that would be too easy wouldn’t it?

I’m happy with the results for my first try and I’m planning to make another with the same fabric but with hexagons rather than triangles.

Then I can start planning the long term quilt project!

Home sweet home

My big project for 2013 was to decorate my living room. It’s over a year since I finished the painting and it’s still work in progress!

I’ve started dedicating Sunday nights to rag rugging– so that’s starting to grow, but I think it’ll be next winter before it’s on the floor. Perhaps it was a bit ambitious?! I’ve started work on some patchwork cushions for my sofa- but I’m currently still living with my ‘temporary’ no-sew cushion!

I have however completed my curtain tie-backs! All you need is lace, starch spray, pearle cotton (or embroidery thread) and a cat (optional).

I was planning to crochet the tie backs, but my lovely neighbour gave me some lace and I thought it would be perfect. It’s made with a thick thread so it holds it’s shape quite well- but the starch has made it even more crisp. I snipped down the centre of each end and stitched the ends together to form a loop, which I then wrapped in pearle to neaten up.

It was quick, easy and cheap to do- why not have a go? A lot of haberdasheries sell lace and broderie anglaise- just make sure you pick a sturdy one that won’t just fold up and lose it’s shape.

If you want to make me feel better about my home improvement procrastinations- let me know what you planned to do this year that hasn’t been done! Maybe we can motivate each other? There’s a few weeks left yet! x