Sunday, December 22, 2013

Dogs are better than human beings because they know but do not tell.

Morning all! Apologies for the radio silence over these parts - since I last wrote, I came back to Northern Ireland for Christmas and everything has been really busy since then. It is really nice to be home and even more so because I'm able to spend lots of time with my siblings. I've met both of my new nephews, Joe and Fionn. They're equally gorgeous and delightful; both hilarious and darling in different ways. There's only a four-week age gap between them and already you can see their distinct personalities emerging. My parents love being grandparents and my sister and brother have each taken to parenthood very well. I'm thoroughly enjoying being an aunty and it has very definitely NOT made me broody.

Sadly, our beloved family dog Paddy died yesterday. He'd become very sick in October and although he'd made an amazing recovery then, over the last few weeks he'd become very ill again. He couldn't see or walk, he could only eat when Daddy was syringe feeding him and over the last few days he'd lost his hearing as well. It was heartbreaking but also sort of a blessing when he died yesterday afternoon as he had no quality of life left at all. Daddy had been nursing him basically around the clock and it hurts to see someone you love suffering.

Daddy sent us all this picture of Paddy last night.

Paddy was a great dog. He came to us as a puppy and he had been abused, so he was scared of everything and couldn't even bark. As he gained in confidence he started to try and he sounded ridiculously hoarse. He wasn't the brightest dog - he lacked balance and frequently fell off things. He loved to sleep in a flower pot, despite being far too big for it. He stole washing off the line and tools out of the wheelbarrow and one day he came home with a whole cow's leg that he either found on the road or stole from a nearby meat-packing factory. Despite his size and his eventually very loud bark, he was the softest and gentlest dog. He'd chase and hunt rabbits - as dogs do - but that was the extent of his aggression. He couldn't give you his paw without falling over, but he always gave it a good go. One of my favourite memories of Paddy is from this past summer when we took him and Mini to Benburb Priory. Next to the river there are some metal steps. Daddy carried Mini down and we tried to encourage Paddy down them. Try as he might, he couldn't get up the nerve to go down them. He kept getting to the edge and you could see him trying to will himself on, but he just couldn't. He'd lost his nerve so much that Daddy couldn't coax him down the bank either. We had to go back up the steps and take an alternative route and then Paddy was away, tail up, barking in happiness. It won't be the same without him around here.

Here's Daddy with the dogs on top of Navan Fort in the summer. Paddy is just like a streak of movement in the top of the frame because he was so excited - there were lots of rabbits around!

So, while it has been very sad these last few days, it's good to be here. I would have found it much harder if I hadn't been here to share this with my family. And, while it's heartbreaking it's also good to remember what a happy life Paddy had and how much he was loved.

I can't really imagine ever moving home now because I have made my life in England, but a big part of my heart will always be here. It's good to be able to come home. When Nic and I were home in the summer I bought some fabric in Belfast. In fact, it was on the day that we got engaged! It took me ages to sew something with it. Not because it was very precious or rare - I've since seen it in a few other fabric shops - it was just hard to know what to do with it. Eventually I settled on an old favourite - Simplicity 2444. It just seemed right.

Beech Valley dress and Irregular Choice Can't Touch This heels

The fabric came from Paragon Fabrics on Donegall Pass, which I visited following a recommendation from Lynne. It's a great wee shop - packed to the rafters with fun fabrics and staffed by very helpful people. I'd never been down Donegall Pass before - to be honest,  you'd not have much call to unless  you were going for something specific down there - so I'd never have stumbled upon it, but I was glad to visit.  This fabric is cotton poplin by Hill-Berg fabrics and I bought 2 metres at £4 a metre. There's enough of the purple in the print to make the white wearable, I think, and I really like how it looks.

The fit in the bodice looks a bit screwy in these photos, but it doesn't so much in real life! I made my usual shoulder adjustment to the bodice and used my narrowed skirt pieces to fit them onto the 45" wide fabric. I guess you'll just have to take my word for it that it fits fine. I'm happy with it anyway.

I might have to put 2444 on time out for the start of 2014. Gosh knows, I love that pattern, but maybe it's time to branch out a bit. Maybe. 

I named the dress Beech Valley after an area of my home town of Dungannon. It's a pretty name for an area that's not hugely attractive, as it's home to the bus depot and a massive supermarket! Still, I spent a fair bit of my teenage years in that bus station and this dress will always be a wee taste of home, so it seemed fair enough.

My posture is delightful in this one but I'm including it because it made me laugh - I can't remember what was making me laugh here but I look so goofy!

I have one more handmade dress to blog about this year and, as I'm separated from my sewing machine now, it will be my last of 2013! I'll try to fit in taking part in Gillian's Top 5 of 2013 series as I've been enjoying reading everyone else's entries. I'll need to pick up the blogging pace a bit. In place of sewing, I've been getting back into knitting and have been teaching myself to knit a cardigan. I think it's safe to say I'm not a natural knitter as I've had to rip back many mistakes and even now I've made progress, I have a fear that I'm going to have to rip right back to the start. Still, as Rehanon would say, what is life if not for learning. I'll get there eventually with it I'm sure. 

Right, I must away and get ready. My sister and I are heading into town to do some last Christmas shopping and to go for coffee somewhere. I will be back with further dresses and cheerier subjects soon.