Beautiful bluebells

Not many words are needed today. I’d run out of superlatives anyway; trying to describe the beauty of this bluebell wood. 

This year again we didn’t see any deer, though we did stand still several times when we heard rustling in the undergrowth. 

Mum, when I first started blogging, used to say: “You’re taking so many photographs!” Now it’s: “Have a look at your blog later to see when we came here last year.” And: “Take the bluebells in front of that magnificent horse chestnut. There are such pretty celandines here with bluebells behind, the colours look lovely together. Here’s a pretty group of cowslips.” She’s right of course, so I snapped them all for you. 
Here are blog posts from previous visits to the same woods, in 20142015 and 2016. I think you might recognise some of the trees and paths.

Yarn Shop Day 

Yarn shop day was a quiet affair at Masons. It seems they didn’t organise or publicise it until the end of the week, which is a shame for them, however for me and my friend it was a lovely afternoon. She had never been before, despite hearing about it for ages. Masons has its own brand of charm. Until recently you would have seen laundry baskets bursting full of discounted and end of the range balls, all along the edges of the shop. A few friends had told me they’ve had a big sort out in there and to be honest I was a bit worried. But there was no need; it’s still basically the same. It’s old fashioned and, most importantly, is still jam-packed with the good stuff. I’ve loved it for ages (see, I blogged about it in 2012. 2012?! How can it have been sooo long ago? Time whizzes.) It’s warm, cosy and the staff are always usually up for a good natter. Suits me down to the ground!

I took the fifth photo looking towards the front of the shop when there was a lull, and some customers had just left. The staff member said she was happy to pose, while her colleague is out of sight hiding behind the fabric racks! (I would have done exactly the same!) The shop’s crochet group and tutor were in the room behind me, busily working together to sew motifs into a blanket.

I finally got to meet Phil of The Twisted Yarn, after dipping in and out of her blog for a long time now. We both took part in the blog hop to promote Edward’s Imaginarium last September, so it was very good to put a face to the name. We’ve swapped details and hope to have a crafty meet up soon. The poor crochet group had the three of us standing over them chatting for ages while they quietly sewed!

Was I restrained? Or did I give into yarn buying temptation? I was actually an angel and bought just one ball. My friend was much more supportive of the business, but not her bank balance, so I don’t feel too guilty! This is a little PR for the business too isn’t it? (VISIT Masons!)

Hair of the sheep


Oh dear, crochet is very good medicine today as I’m feeling rather fragile. I’ve tried the double shot cappuccino and cooked breakfast, followed with a few sugary sweets ‘cure’. All self inflicted, but not entirely my fault, well not really. Last night I met a friend for a drink and a catch up, following the end of a course we’ve been on since last November. The only thing was I wasn’t at all impressed with his choice of pub, so suggested we move to another for the next drink and somehow it turned into a pub crawl with us taking turns to suggest the next. Whoops! The emergency money I mentioned in yesterday’s post is definitely not being spent on gin! I’m going tee-total for a bit again.

Despite living in the same area for a dozen years I still don’t seem to have memorised the time of the last bus home. So, a fairly expensive taxi ride later I was back here in the early hours, pouring pints of water to take upstairs to bed. Why, I’m wondering in the 21st century is it still so hard here, outside of major cities, to sit and chat over a drink past midnight? There was definitely some frantic last minute queuing at the bar going on. 

Anyway, this is not meant to be daily blogging of my misdemeanours and poor lifestyle choices (want to see my other Blog Every Day in May posts? Click on the BEDM tag below.) Did you know that tomorrow it’s Yarn Shop Day in the UK and Ireland? There are lots of local events listed if you search Yarn Shop Day on Facebook. The above link was the best page I found to explain how it started and I enjoyed learning about the benefits for businesses. Are you planning a visit? I’m going to an event with a friend and will be saying hi to another yarny blogger while there. I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow. I’m back to my soothing crochet and music, the hoovering can wait till the morning…

May the Force be With You!

Hurray! Have yarn, can crochet!

I don’t know what it is at the moment but I’ve seen other people writing that they’ve also really caught the crochet bug again. I’ve seen some very prolific knitters saying they’re finding it boring and crochet is much more appealing. It’s something about Spring maybe, unless you’re in the Antipodes and are also feeling the same way?
When I went into the yarn shop to buy these two at lunchtime I told the woman how I’d felt unwell, stayed at home to be quiet and rest, but had run out of yarn on the two days when it was impossible to restock. She took a hard look at me and said “You don’t sound too clever now either!” Well, it’s Star Wars day today, (May the Fourth…get it?) so let’s just say my dodgy chest and resulting growly voice is part of my Darth Vader persona.

Someone is off on a road trip from today, visiting lots and lots of fisheries and catching up with old friends. I’ve come home to a pretty card, this lovely bouquet and a tip telling me where emergency money may be found. Does running out of gin count? A strong strong hankering for my first Chinese takeaway in a year? Household-wide chocolate famine?

 

Yarning Along: the grey curse


There’s not been much crochet since Sunday since I, for some bizarre reason, only bought one ball of the main colour! So I can’t crochet any more of my beanie. Unbelievably I also ran out of grey when adding more to my Star Ripple on Monday! The curse of grey yarn… I know it’s not much of a Yarning Along post, but it’s entirely truthful.

The good news is that I’m near a yarn shop tomorrow. But I was very keen to do some crochet over the bank holiday weekend, feeling a little under par and needing distraction from the marathon snooker coverage on TV (anyone else suffer experience a lot of this too?!) but couldn’t do anything about it at all due to my local yarn shops being closed on Sundays and for the holiday. I’m better if I only have two things on the go at a time, so resisted the urge to start some knitting. 

I enjoyed Love Nina, by Nina Stibbe so much that I’m now listening to Paradise Lodge, which is a semi-autobiographical account. I’ve found a good Guardian review if you fancy reading a bit more about her books. Do you remember the awful stereotypical character Emily, in Friends, played by Helen Baxendale? She’s narrating this book really well. Apparently a Leicestershire accent is hard to do but she’s doing a good job.

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I’m always making something and I never go a day without reading. I’m really missing Ginny’s Yarn Along as I always enjoyed seeing everyone’s posts, so I’ve decided to host my own version.

Come and share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday. Get inspired by others and motivated to finish your makes. You might even pick up some good book recommendations.  Leave a current link here by clicking on the blue box below, and following the instructions. Don’t forget to include a link back to this post on your blog etc, so others can find us! Tell your followers about Yarning Along on your blog, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc using #yarningalong.

I was hoping your image thumbnails would magically appear here, rather than on an external page (I’ve paid for a subscription.) The issue seems to be with WordPress blogs, but one click on the blue box will take you to view them. If you’ve hosted a link up with a link-up provider, which does work well with WordPress, let me know!

I’m in my happy place

When my friend Gill messages me to find out where I am in London, sometimes I’ll just reply: “I’m in my happy place.” Then she knows where to come and find me immediately. I really enjoy a good mooch around the haberdashery department of John Lewis, Oxford Street, London. I’m often not the only one spending time waiting for a friend, or just having a really really good look around. I think the staff are used to it as well, they’re very laid-back. 

It’s not a huge area, but is full of really, really good quality wool (there’s not a huge amount of acrylic yarn going on here.) I have to admit my spending is mostly confined to a few balls of this and that. I’ve never had a major splurge; probably because I’m always going out and about from there and don’t want to carry a big bag of wool around with me. Plus I haven’t won the lottery yet…

This time I really fell in love with Martin Storey’s Folk Cowl. I actually started gathering some of the Rowan tweed DK I’d need but realised at £7:95 per ball it was going to be a really expensive little make. Drat! I think I’d neeed to find an alternative brand, though the Rowan colours are absolutely perfect. 

Do you think I can try that thing radio DJs do when it’s something like National Pie Week and they throw out masses of hints about wanting to try some? In result they get sent freebies to the radio station… Yes? Anyone want me to test knit this Folk Cowl pattern with these Rowan colours? Do you want my address? I’m really happy to do it for you, that’s the kind of lady I am.

I’m planning to blog every day in May, this is day two and I’m only slightly regretting my decision!

Got to start (again) somewhere 

On a Saturday in March I lugged many bags into a secondary school Maths classroom and wondered how my day was going to go. I’d signed up for a day-long machine patchwork course after far too long not doing any sewing. The skills I once had had atrophied. Funnily enough I’d done a cushion making workshop with the same tutor many years ago. I remembered her as very funny and straight talking. She hasn’t changed at all and is a superb teacher. I even got told off for nearly being silly, she’s that good at anticipating bad behaviour. It appears I haven’t changed at all since I was really in a secondary school Maths lesson.
I baggsied a nice spot at a table for six by the sunny window and waited for others to arrive. The room started filling quite quickly. A very quiet elderly woman set up along from me, this was fine but I fancied a fun day with lots of chat and maybe even some laugher, reasoning that even if the patchwork went badly it could still be enjoyable. I quite liked the professional-sewer look of one woman, who was settling herself at a table across the room. She seemed to have all the kit and a swish sewing machine, plus very cool coloured Liberty fabric. Then another woman came in a few minutes before the start, all of a fluster and panic: “Are you sure I should be here? You have told the others I’m a complete beginner? I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing!” Well this decided it for me; I didn’t have to be the only rusty sewer or novice there, she seemed like she’d be good fun too. So I approached her and turned to Anne-Marie too, saying they should join me at my table. I think I actually said “You can sit there, and you can sit there.” I might even have pointed to their appointed places. This is a bit embarrassing! But I’m not saying I wouldn’t do it again.

By mid-afternoon Anne-Marie was saying to Tracy that she was amazed they both did exactly what they were told, she’d even moved all her stuff from her table to mine! It was a fab day, I picked wisely. At the end we all said we wished we could spend every Saturday sewing. Tracy suggested we set up a WhatsApp group and by bedtime we’d shared photos of things we’d made, more things we were trying to make and discussing when we’d get together to sew again.

I did kick myself for not getting my machine out beforehand to refamiliarise myself with how to thread it and fill the bobbin. Things could have started a little more swiftly, but it was ok in the end. I’ve noticed that whatever the course I’m always the last to finish each step, be it making polymer beads, jewellery making, intarsia or Fair Isle knitting (that was the following Tuesday. I might tell you about that another time.) It’s the perfectionist tendencies I have, whereas others throw themselves at something new, sensibly accepting their first try isn’t going to be the best. Mine certainly isn’t either, but at least I’ve tried very, very hard!

I wish I hadn’t tried quilting my piece (we had time at the end of the day to play) as my patchwork isn’t exactly enhanced by the dodgy stitching around the outside to attach the wadding. I could undo it all, but the thought is rather painful.

From that day sewing in streaming Spring sunshine, laughing, chatting and unpicking stray stitches I’ve made two new friends. They’re great fun and we are all pretty keen on sewing and, it turns out, crochet. Anne-Marie is making a cooked breakfast crochet blanket for her son, freeform style, and when we’ve met for crochet in cafes asks me random (and quite challenging!) questions about how I would crochet a baked bean, or a button mushroom? Tracy has two little grand-daughters aged 5 and 7 months, she’s aiming to make them both a patchwork quilt by Christmas. Yes, she is the flustered “I’m not sure I should be here” novice sewer! But that’s Tracy, she throws herself into things. Why waste time panicking that you don’t know what to do? You just try and get on with it! I’ve just dropped off my blocking mats so she can have a go at blocking her deceased ex-mother in law’s crochet pieces to make up an heirloom blanket for her daughter. She’s You Tubing various joining methods as I type I expect.

Anne-Marie belongs to an exclusive Sewing Group, which started about 20 years ago as the tutor found people attending her workshops said they just wanted and needed time and space to sew. Space physically, rather than clearing off the dining room table to set up (then planning meals the family could eat on trays for a few days), and time as in an allotted time where it couldn’t be put off. She asked if I could join the group and I asked if my fellow novice sewer Tracy could come too. As I told her, I didn’t want to be the only idiot there. This made her laugh and didn’t offend in the slightest. This is why I like her so much. We really are honoured as I think it’s usually by invitation from the tutor only.

We’ve been twice so far and I’m hooked. There’s no teaching, it’s in a village hall like the equivalent of a Knit and Natter group. You take whatever you’re making and get on with it. You can ask questions, and the tutor will come round to each table asking if you’re ok, but you need to be fairly low maintenance. It’s really well organised. There’s a quick meal of quiche or pizza at the beginning, for those coming famished straight from work, and a cake break in the middle. I’ve subverted this by taking grapes and Tracy’s taken strawberries, as we’re trying to walk the healthy eating road. We’re both usually trying to make up for the eating and drinking of the weekend!

I already seem to be the joke of the group as I took along a Rowan Amy Butler jelly roll I got from Mollie Makes magazine (I’ve googled my own blog to find out when and where I got this!) I was thinking that I wouldn’t have to do lots of faffy cutting out and could actually sew at sewing club. Plus I knew it would help me practice sewing straight lines. The issue comes when the others naturally ask me what I’m making? I have no idea, truly. I’m just joining the strips and then again and again, as the tutor has instructed. I reply that it could be a bag, cushion, a thing or skirt. A ‘thing’ looks most likely right now…

The funniest moment so far was when the tutor asked how long me, Anne-Marie and Tracy have known each other. She was visibly shocked when we laughingly said we’d only met on that Saturday in March…

I’m going to try to join in with the Blog Every Day in May plan that knitting designer Vikki has mentioned on Instagram. I’ve never tried that before. It’s quite exciting. They won’t all be as long as this post, I promise!