Upton House & Garden 

Well hello! I know, it’s been a while… I never really do much crochet or knitting during the summer, but this year I haven’t sewn yet either. I thought you might be interested to see somewhere I recently visited and found fascinating. I admit there are a lot of typewriter photos, I just loved them!

Upton House and Gardens in Warwickshire, is a National Trust Property with a current exhibition called: Banking for Victory. It once belonged to Lord Bearstead, whose father founded Shell Oil. (More information here.) In 1939 the family moved out of the house and the family bank relocated from London, for the duration of the Second World War. Mary Berry opened this exhibition last Autumn. I finally got around to visiting earlier this month.

This is the film tent with a little introductory film to the exhibition…      

The exhibition is superb. The great thing is that the NT do not want you to treat it as a museum, you are actively encouraged to open drawers, sit on chairs and sofas and basically be the nosy Parker that I you always want to be, but feel you can’t in most NT properties. Needless to say I sat and typed a paragraph at one of the typewriters, what no spell check? I opened some filing cabinets, rifled through the in/out trays and read some correspondence, read some Wartime newspapers and sat in the Bank Manger’s chair!

The attention to detail in the house is fantastic. For example: there are toothbrushes and hairbrushes in the dormitories, and much more, open magazines and knitting which seem to have been put down for a minute in the staff room, postcards displayed from local villages and towns and maps of cycle routes.

The bank staff left families and friends in London to live and work at Upton. It seems that they had a ‘good war’ living in the relative safety of the countryside, but lived with guilt knowing their loved ones were in danger and suffering in the war-torn city.

This doesn’t seem too much of a stretch to me, but different times perhaps?!

Knitting! I found knitting!

The project is something you can become involved in, if you fancy. See here for details. You have until 30th September deadline if you want to send some bunting. What really impressed me, while I knitted a bunt (is this the singular of bunting?!) and chatted to one of the organisers is that at the end the finished triangles will be stitched together to make blankets for charity. What a great idea and a practical use of the knitting at the end. I often wonder what becomes of things after yarn bombs and record attempts. I didn’t take a pic of my knitting. I’m not sure why, but you really didn’t miss much!

Today was a return visit to Upton as it poured after the tour around the house, so the gardens had to wait. I’m glad actually as the herbaceous border is now stunning with all the sun we’re enjoying. It was a lovely hot day.

Are you crafty during the summer, or more like me?

Valentine’s heart patches

This is a sweet little patch. I intend to buy two blank craft cards and envelopes and attach a heart patch to each using double sided sticky tape. Do they still use that all the time on Blue Peter? I’m going to send them to two little-ish girls for a Valentine’s surprise.

Alternatively you could just knit two rectangles, swiss darn the heart (or one on both sides) and sew or crochet them together, to turn them into a little woolly pincushion or a pointless but cute woolly thing. You’ll probably have even better ideas. If you do, please share them!

Yarn: I knitted these with Stylecraft Special DK scraps, in parchment and did the swiss darning in raspberry. You can use any DK you have.

Needles: I used 3.5mm but use whatever you have or prefer. 4mm would work equally well and will still make a patch small enough to easily fit onto a card.

Knit a moss stitch border with stocking stitch as the main part of the patch

Cast on 20 stitches

Moss stitch for 2 rows:

Row 1: *k1, p1*and repeat * until the end

Row 2: *p1,k1* and repeat until the end

Stocking stitch with a moss stitch border for 8 rows

Row 3: k1, p1, k to last st, p1

Row 4: p1, k1, p to last stitch, k1

Repeat rows 3 & 4 6 more times.

Repeat rows 1 & 2 once

Cast off

Swiss darning/duplicate stitch: decorate the patch with a contrast yarn. See this video from Simple Stylish Knitting if you’re unsure about how to do swiss darning. It’s easy once you get into the rhythm of it. Sew in a good source of light, so you can see what you’re doing properly.

 Both of my hearts are slightly different from each other. The main thing is to start at the top, and do the middle stitches first. Make sure the bottom stitches line up with those at the top.  You can make the heart as wibbly or symmetrical as you like.

Owl Mug Cosy

The problem with craft magazines is that I can’t think of not keeping them. You never know when you might need that beanie, baby blanket, gift tag pattern. It’s so nice to look through your back issues, mug of tea to hand. However I know there’s a real danger of a future magazine avalanche. When a friend’s Mother sorted her craft room I was the happy recipient of all sorts of mags from the 1960s, 70s and maybe beyond. I can well imagine getting to the same point of couriering them somewhere….anywhere but here, unless I begin subscribing to digital copies…

But the great thing is that at the moment I’ve got a lovely stash to spend time flicking through to find a mini project to satisfy my itchy fingers. When Mollie Makes issue 21Mollie-Makes-issue-21 came out last year I loved the look of the owl mitts and mug cosy, but was all about crochet at the time. On Saturday I spent some time flicking through old issues to find a mini project to satisfy those itchy fingers, and ended up whipping up the owl mug cosy designed by Estonian knitter and designer Tanya Antonova.


I can see a purl stitch where there should have been a knit, but other than that am pleased with my second ever time cabling.


I tried these little wooden beads, they are from a bracelet a colleague bought me from her trip to Pakistan. Sadly it broke after lots of wear and was too complex a design to repair, but I scrambled and retrieved all the beads to keep in a tin. They look fine as eyes but didn’t look right when sewn on, perhaps it would be useful to buy some ‘invisible thread’.

I opted instead for slanty woolly embroidered eyes. They are rather piercing in their own way, though admittedly not half as good as the magazine’s beady version.
I crocheted the piece together, not leaving a hole for the handle as it didn’t actually fit any of the mugs in the house! I wondered if my tension was way off, though had used the recommended chunky wool (leftover from the chunky seashell scarf) and size 5 needles but you never know. In moments of doubt Google can really be your friend – I found others who had found the same and decided the mugs in Estonia must be significantly smaller than here. I’ve stitched him up and thought I could either wear him as a wrist warmer (eyes were rolled at this) or make a sweet little jar cosy.


What mini projects are keeping you busy?