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Twins and triplets

Hug Me Sock Toads, Dark red and red polka dots with orange hearts, by Elizabeth RuffingI just finished a red polka-dotted Hug Me Toad for my number one toad collector. I made “Davey”, on the left, a toad sibling, on the right, for good measure. I will be posting my new handmade stuffed animal toys in our Ruffing’s shop.

Hug Me Sock Toads, Lavender, light blue, pink, and yellow by Elizabeth RuffingI had to sew these toad triplets by hand because the pattern on the socks was so complicated that was the only way I could line up the stripes and flowers.

Hug Me Sock Toad, Lavender, light blue, pink, and yellow by Elizabeth RuffingI like stripes, and often pick up socks with striped patterns, even though I know I will need to sew them by hand. My toys take a lot longer to make than people probably imagine! I use a lot of hand sewing and hand embroidering. I’ve realized that things take as long as they take to make. Rushing never works for me.

Fleece Hug Me Slugs, Pink and light green, by Elizabeth RuffingI also finished two new pink fleece Hug Me Slugs, a medium pink, and

Fleece Hug Me Slugs, Dark Pink and Medium Pink, by Elizabeth Ruffinga deep watermelon pink.

Two tabby kittens on a cat bed, photo by Elizabeth RuffingI’m tempted to call these two twins as well, but they are more likely part of quadruplets or even sextuplets. Phoebe, on the left, and below, is still withdrawn, but she is starting to run away less. Bertie is making great strides. Even though she is still skittish, she comes up to us for pets and snacks. We were able to get her to the vet to get checked out, and she is negative for leukemia and FIV, which is great.

Tabby kitten lying in a cat bed, photo by Elizabeth RuffingWe’ve been giving them some medicine for the past week to clear up a little bacteria that was causing minor digestive tract issues, and they are doing well. We’re hoping Phoebe will come around in the next couple of weeks and let us pet her too. Then they can both go in for vaccines. Once they have they vet work done, they will enjoy playing with the other cats in the house.

Lucinda and Ida, Original One-of-a-kind Black and Gray-and-white Cat Art Doll by Max BaileyWe have a lot of cat dolls to photograph. Please see Max Bailey’s new original, one-of-a-kind gray-and-white cat doll, Ida, here (right). We just posted her story today. Her friend, Lucinda the black cat is here (left).

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Blue-spotted sock toads and Mother’s Day kittens

Hug Me Sock Toads by Elizabeth Ruffing, green with blue polka dots The mom of a girl named Emily, who has a collection of my Hug Me Toads, wrote to tell me that Emily’s grandma let her pick her own birthday gift this year, and a Hug Me Toad was her first choice. I thought that was so great. I felt very touched hearing that. Emily picked out her own colors, from the socks I had, green with blue polka dots, with an orange fleece heart. It turned out to be a super combination. I liked it so much, I made a toad sibling with a tomato-red-orange heart too.

Hug Me Sock Toads by Elizabeth Ruffing, green with blue polka dots The first toad is already on his way to Emily and the one with the tomato-red-orange heart ready for a home. I will be posting my new handmade stuffed animal toys in our Ruffing’s shops.

Hug Me Sock Toads by Elizabeth Ruffing, green with blue polka dots Another of my Hug Me Slugs left for France today. He stopped to pose with the toads before they got ready to go. One of my Super Slugs went to Paris just last week. My slugs are becoming well traveled.

Hug Me Sock Toads by Elizabeth Ruffing, green with blue polka dots I am still working on getting more sock dolls and fleece animals together. I will add them as I get them ready.

Hug Me Sock Toads by Elizabeth Ruffing, green with blue polka dots My workroom is full of fleece and socks right now!

Hug Me Sock Toads by Elizabeth Ruffing, green with blue polka dots This is my redone hang tag for my Hug Me Toads. I’ve been going through all my tags, sprucing up the designs a little.

Hug Me Sock Toads by Elizabeth Ruffing, hang tag I also scanned and resized our art doll body pattern for Max Bailey, and Max got right to work. I expected to see one or two bodies when I went in to look, but there are five! Max is always puzzled by my tendency to make things in groups, and I always say it is easier for me that way. So, I was extra surprised to see a group sitting on the desk.

Doll bodies by Max BaileyOn Mother’s Day, I went along with volunteers from a local cat rescue, Alley Cats and Angels of NC to see a huge group of real kitties. They have been working hard to TNR, trap-neuter/spay-return, a colony of feral cats. I went along to take photos, and took a tremendous number of them. They “debriefed me” on the way there, because the size of the colony was a shock to them when they first arrived. I had already seen photos, and so I was prepared for that part. I wasn’t quite prepared for the surroundings.

There were also lots of goats and dogs on the property, which is owned by an older man, who appears to have a disability which gives him limited mobility. He has been trying to take care of all these animals himself, and more and more strays kept arriving. The rescue responded to his call for help, even though it is an hour trip each way, because there were no similar resources available to him where he lives. They’ve been working very hard for weeks, to trap all the cats and get them spayed or neutered and vaccinated. Several litters of kittens were newly born when they first arrived, and many of them disappeared.

Spring Hope rescue kittensWhile they were busy trapping cats, something they needed to do for hours, trying to get the few remaining unfixed cats, I wandered around the property, which had many, many old, abandoned pens and coops, looking for kittens. They found this first one, under the front porch, and I managed to reach in and grab him or her. He was in pretty good shape.

Then I went back to looking through the pens. Sadly, I saw a dead kitten, apparently killed by some predator, in one of the pens, and went in to look for others. It appeared that no one had been in the pen in a long time, probably years, and there were no open doors. The mama cat had to have carried the kittens in, over the roof. I squeezed inside, whacking at the tall weeds with a flashlight, not sure what might be in there, and wanting to scare off anything dangerous. On my first pass through, I didn’t see any more kittens. I went back and got everyone to come along. The owner told me there were poisonous snakes in there, but I knew I’d worry that there were kittens still in there, if I didn’t look, and I’d already been inside. Marie squeezed in the pen with me, while I poked at things, peeking around with the flashlight.

I was about to give up, when I was surprised by two little faces looking up at me! Two tiny kittens were wedged between a board and some rusted old chicken wire and corrugated metal, just a couple of feet from the one who had been killed. I tried to pull the board off, but couldn’t get it by hand. I tried to reach in, but the little tabby was scared and hissing. I asked Tia for a towel, and Marie helped “herd” the little ones out with a stick from the other side of the wire.

Spring Hope rescue kittensThe little hissy one seemed to be trying to protect himself and the gray kitten behind him, but he finally emerged. I waited for the hissy end to get past me, and grabbed him around the tummy. I passed him over the chicken wire to Tia, who kept him wrapped in the bottom of her T-shirt. The gray one came out next, and I passed him over to Tia too. She put all the kittens in a carrier and got them some food.

The hissy one kept on hissing, and his one eye looked very bad. The gray baby had some eye infection too. Tia and Marie got them to the vet the next morning, and happily, they are all doing well. The vet even thinks she can save the bad eye. And…the hissy kitten stopped hissing. He just needed some love. The gray kitten is eating up affection too. They are staying with the rescue now, and when they are old enough, well enough, and fixed and vaccinated themselves, they will be available for adoption.

Spring Hope rescue kittensWe were at this location a long time, and I took a great number of photographs. I am working on getting the photos adjusted and resized in batches, and then I’ll put them together, like I did last time. A couple of my photos from that last trip are in Heart2Home, The Triangle Pet Adoption Magazine, this month, in a great article written by Tia all about TNR and how you can help feral cats in our community.

Update: I’ve uploaded my trapping photos to Facebook, along with captions. You can find the Spring Hope album here (my Mother’s Day photos start a few photos into the album), and the fast food cat-trapping photos here.

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She made herself at home

Grandma and a Scotty dogHappy birthday to my grandma this month. She just turned ninety-six and is still doing well. On a sad note, about the same time as her birthday, we got news that my cousin, Steve, who has been battling peritoneal cancer for the past several months, is back in the hospital, and his cancer, which the doctors thought was gone, has returned, or had never entirely left. We are all hoping for the best, and hoping he can feel better. He is such a nice guy, and a great person, to be going through such an awful thing.

Kitten steals someone elseDuring this time, since I last wrote, I have also been kitten-sitting, for Frosty, who is now Josephine. She had another potential adoptive home lined up, far away, but that didn’t turn out to sound like the best option for her. She didn’t mind. She had already decided she wanted to stay here, and we all wanted her to stay too. So, it did work out, after all, and she has brought us some good cheer.

Kitten sleeps on a teddy bear, Beau Bear, Vogue patternShe has been trying out all the cat beds, and toys, and furniture, and has found it all to her liking. She was very shy, and liked to hide in small spaces, when she first arrived, but she has rapidly changed.

Kitten steals my chairShe is out and about now, participating in all we do around here, in between playing and napping.

Kitten steals a new bedI went out and bought new cat beds (actually these are dog beds from Petsmart) because Josephine kept taking everyone else’s, but she took a new one too, along with the new blankets that came with the beds.

Kitten steals pillows and blanketShe is a big fan of our kitty gym, and now sits up at the top of it. No more hiding for her.

Kitten on the kitty gymJosephine seems to be very happy, and is friendly to eveyone. I thought she needed a new name, since she isn’t “frosty” at all. I thought a more self-assured name would be fitting. I renamed her after Jo March of “Little Women” and Empress Josephine. I later read that Empress Josephine had somewhat embarrassing teeth, which made me smile, because kitten Josephine has funny teeth herself.

Kitten rolls in the sunshineI had tried out different names, saying them to her, and she seemed to like this one. She mewed back at me. I took that as a sign of approval.

Hug Me Toad by Elizabeth Ruffing, in a blog feature of stuffed toysIn art toys news, my Hug Me Toad was in this very cute blog feature from Harmonica Mama, and my toys continue to show up in treasuries on Etsy. Toys make me smile too. I enjoy making them, and I like that they brighten someone’s day.

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Hug Me Toad and Cat stuffed animal sock toys and machine appliquéd Hug Me Slug decorative throw pillows

Mary the Hug Me Sock Toad by Elizabeth RuffingThis is Mary the Hug Me Toad. Mary had to wait a little while before taking the trip to her new home, due to the ice storm we had the other day. This morning, the roads were clear, and Mary happily hopped into her box and left for Kentucky.

Mary the Hug Me Sock Toad by Elizabeth RuffingMary had a couple of new friends to play with in my workroom, while we waited for the ice to melt. This turquoise Hug Me Sock Kitten has an orchid fleece heart. I love her sweet face.

Turquoise Hug Me Sock Kitten by Elizabeth RuffingI had quite a time trying to photograph her and the rest of the sock animals this morning. The wind was blowing and it was so cold outside. Icicles were dripping on us, and on my camera. I even had to blow dry a Hug Me Toad, when she got a drop of icicle water on her head! I think we were all glad to get back inside.

Turquoise Hug Me Sock Kitten by Elizabeth RuffingThis dark pink Hug Me Toad with white polka dots is one of triplets I made earlier. Her sisters have already been adopted. I actually have lots and lots of socks waiting to grow up to be Hug Me Toys, but I just happened to like this pattern and made three in a row. I tend to be that way.

Dark Pink with White Polka-dots Hug Me Sock Toad by Elizabeth RuffingI will be sure to add some new sock animals in different colors and patterns to my menagerie soon.

Dark Pink with White Polka-dots Hug Me Sock Toad by Elizabeth RuffingI’ve also had these two decorative Hug Me Slug accent pillows for a while. The are made with cotton fabrics sewn by machine appliqué.

Turquoise, Purple, and Oatmeal Hug Me Slug Decorative Pillow by Elizabeth Ruffing

Gold, Brown with Polka Dots, Light Blue, and Oatmeal Hug Me Slug Decorative Pillow by Elizabeth Ruffing