Citrus stripes

Garter stitch stripes with 250 stitches a row is not as boring as I expected. I thought it would be a two row job at the most, each sitting and then the yawning would begin. Changing colours every other row seems to keep it feeling fresh, and with my citrusy lemon, lime and orange it’s definitely that! I’ll tone it back down with the next colour; otherwise we’ll need sunglasses just to look at it. I’m carrying on with a colour until the ball runs out, then grabbing another from a big bag. It’s a stashbuster so is going to have an ‘interesting look’, not my usual blend of colours. I tend to buy yarn only for specific projects and these are leftovers from blankets, and a few from a yarn kit I bought when I was new to crochet. There are a couple of colours that I dislike but I’m hoping blending them with others might help. If not, l’ll donate them to a charity knit group.  I took it to an outpatients clinic on Monday, while I waited for someone, and the nurses all seemed to walk past smirking. I guess I was an incongruous sight as everyone else was staring at the wall or their ‘phone. No one had a book, though I guess some might have been reading an ebook. That old chestnut about knitting helping to calm and provide a distraction is so true, once you’ve got over the smirking nurses and disinterested stares. But I have to admit I thought taking my knitting while I waited might be nice for other people too. It would be my way of helping anxious outpatients. A Florence Nightingale of yarn. They could be soothed in the manner of those slow tv programmes; where you’re following the journey of a canal boat, or seeing someone hand turning a wooden bowl in real time. Maybe it would even provide distracting opportunities for them to talk about how they’d love to learn to knit, or prompt them to reminisce about their Grandma knitting jumpers when they were young. Serves my vanity right! 

As for reading: I’m still going on with The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan. It’s all going to connect soon and I’m quite intrigued to see how the four (or is it six?) characters share the story. I’m listening to The Plays of Alan Bennett and yesterday finished The Madness of George III,  now I hope the next provides some lighter relief. Really I’m waiting for The History Boys.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched the film and I’ve also read the play, there’s just something I love about it. The flowers were taken a our visit to  Saltram House  (see below) and garden, Devon, on Sunday on the way home. This week my body can’t understand why it’s not allowed pasty for lunch, cake for afternoon tea and cider before dinner…it’s definitely got the holiday blues. We walked 69 miles while away to try to balance these out. And because we love the coast paths around there. 

If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday too, leave a link in the comments. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

Basildon Park

  

These photos are from a visit to Basildon Park a National Trust property in Berkshire, which we visited on Sunday. I’m glad we went before the storms of this week, as I reckon the petals of the rose garden might now have been blown away!

The interesting thing about this is that Lady Iliffe didn’t die until 2007 and so there is a video of her speaking about how she and her husband came to buy the property after the War. It’s not very often that you have the opportunity to see and hear the last inhabitants of an NT house, for obvious reasons. They had seen it before, in the late thirties, and hadn’t forgotten it. One day they passed nearby, wondering what became of the place, and ended up joining Men from the Ministry of Works on an impromptu tour. It had sat empty for fifty years, apart from being requisitioned during both the First and Second World Wars. As you see it’s a solidly impressive building. It must have taken a big pot of money to renovate and restore; but as Lord Iliffe was a newspaper magnate, photographed with Winston Churchill and Lord Beaverbrook amongst others, that probably was not a huge issue….

 I loved the view from the gardens at the back. The Berkshire (pronounced “bark-sher”) countryside rolls beautifully on. We had a good walk in the woodland and looked around the house. It was good to revisit as I had memories of some horrible 1950s decor in the house in the early noughties (I think): a plastic bed-surround with a white plastic teasmaid and polyester bedspread. The lovely gallery guide told me the house was now much improved and we’d find it very altered. I was much younger (practically a child) that first visit and expected faded grandeur, not a pink telephone by the bed! 

When I win my pot of Lottery money I shall buy a Lifetime Membership of The National Trust. It’s always a great day out, with chances for a good walk too. (This reminds of a film we had a recommendation to watch: Golden Age, it’s fun and has a fantastic British cast.)

Greys Court 

Such a lovely day at Greys Court, National Trust property, yesterday.

We did the woodland walk and ended up sort of mindlessly following a couple who were far ahead along the path, although for most of the time we hadn’t seen anyone else at all. I’m glad there were still some bluebells out. The upshot of following others, and not taking much notice, was that the 1 3/4 mile trail turned into 3 miles! But actually that’s perfect as 1 3/4 miles is not really a long enough walk for me. Things turned a bit surreal when we got chatting, as we all tried to find the official path, and I recommended they visit The Fan Museum in Greenwich, not so much for the fans but for a perfect example of a merchant’s London townhouse. She then mentioned a town up north where there are a number of great NT properties to visit. He interjected with “Oh, where your friend X lives?” And I’m not sure why, but I asked if it was the X married to X? This is something that’s always amused me when I’m travelling abroad; someone will ask if I know Liz in Ealing when I mention London. But, would you believe it was the same X who is indeed married to X! The woman and my friend are trustees of the same charity and know each other very well. It just shows that however random the question seems, sometimes it’s really worth asking.

We then moved on to girl-talk about the best place to buy girlie shoes while the men plodded on behind, trying to make sense of the map and find the correct path! Eventually we four found ourselves back at the car park and had completed our circular walk, in a wiggly fashion.

I really love NT days out as there’s usually a good chance to walk amongst stunning countryside. They’re often built on the side of a hill so there are plenty of great views and you get out of puff, which always makes you feel like you’ve done a ‘proper walk’. Of course then there’s a cafe or picnic, if we’re really organised, for lunch (and cake?) at the end. Basically if you’re stuck for what to do on a Sunday, I’d say choose to visit a NT property for: great walks, gardens to explore, a house (…cottage, townhouse, manor, priory, windmill, castle….?) cafe and shop. The free tours can be fascinating and well done too.

I spend much of the time imagining I’m the lady of the house wandering around. Or perhaps the Governess, or the house-keeper. When I’m not drifting about in a day-dream I find the other visitors are usually friendly. I always end up chatting to someone anyway. I’m not keen on some dogs, but they all have to be kept on leads and are mostly the relaxed and well behaved type of family dogs, that don’t make my hands sweaty and my heart race.

Greys Court have a very easy and unfussy system of selecting free flow tickets to see the house; we simply selected our own ticket from a box for the time we fancied. It was so much easier than being offered and accepting a specific slot, without time to think and opportunity for a quick conflab. I am so glad we left 2.5 hours for exploring, since our prolonged walk and leisurely lunch were not rushed at all. By the way: I always go for the ham salad sandwich at NT cafes as I reckon they’re usually the best.
The gardens were a delight too, kitchen gardens in particular fascinate me. I stroll along imagining snipping a bit of this and digging a few of those to cook. Or in Housekeeper mode it’s the kitchen lad or maid, of course. It’s also the pleasing parallel rows of vegetables that are so soothing to my orderly soul. (Another word is sometimes used, but I live with a barbarian.)

Mum has been telling me for a while that I should visit when the wisteria is flowering. I see why now. The scent was heavenly and it wasn’t at its best either; after weeks of very dry weather, then torrential rain. Plus I guess it’s coming to the end of its flowering season. I’ll make a note to go back next May…

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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?

 

Bunch of pretty 

On the way out of Sainsbury’s yesterday this lovely bunch of spring flowers caught my eye. They smelled delicious too. On offer, reduced from £8 to £4, I couldn’t resist. 

My lacy cowl is coming on, I think I might see if it’s long enough at the end of this skein of wool. Then I can move onto something else. I wish I could knit faster. Maybe I’ll have a go at continental if I can find a good tutorial. I know I’ve said this before.  

I’m rereading The Camomile Lawn for the nth time. It’s got my name and Christmas 1993 written inside…so it will be many, many times over the years. On the train to London, on Saturday, I asked the girl next to me if I could be cheeky and read the blurb on her upturned book. It was Human Voices by Penelope Fitzgerald. The title and the white cover really attracted my attention. I’m planning to order it from my library. We spent some time talking about the author, books and reading. In return I recommended this and Mary Wesley’s subsequent novels. This discussion prompted me to run downstairs late that evening to reread it, yet again. 

2016

Here are my makes of last year, well most of them. There are quite a few other things that were started and unravelled, for various reasons. None of which I regret! Despite my intention to knit or crochet smaller makes (including socks) I seem to have hooked quite a few blankets again. Why does that keep happening?!

I’m not really sure what I want to concentrate on this year. I’m working on the Blackberry ripple and that’s not far off from being a good snuggly size. Then I’ve just got to do the darning and crochet a border.

Next I think (and don’t hold me to it) I might use a posh skein or two of wool and knit another sort of cowl. I think I’ve come round to them after wearing the Mira cowl a lot this year. I’ve always preferred wrapping scarves as tightly or as loosely as preferred, but this has been very cosy and you don’t have so much of it stuffed down the front of your coat! Hey-ho, hey-ho it’s off to Ravelry I go.

My friend has sort of lost her slouchy bobble hat (there’s obviously a story there) so I might be hooking one of those again, for her birthday in April. If only she knew someone with a fishing rod, who’s a dab hand at casting, I’m positive she could retrieve hers…

It’s Day 1 of the New Year, where normal non-festive life has resumed and no alcohol, mince pies, chocolate or twiglets have been consumed. I do fancy a hot chocolate though, that’s surely alright? It’s COLD out there.

Six things


My first sweetpea! I planted these late this year, and then because of the recent weeks of dry weather they got covered with  aphids. I thought the chance of flowers was zero to none. But I got rid of the aphids, carried on watering every day and now look at this beauty. There are plenty more buds too.

On Tuesday we met up with Trish of Made by Patch blog and her family, including Grandma and Grandpa Patch.  We’ve been in touch through our blogs since 2012, but have only met once before, last Spring. It doesn’t seem to matter; when you’ve been the 21st Century equivalent of pen pals for nearly five years you do feel like you know each other. We all had a lovely meal together and I had birthday presents! Birthday presents made by Trish’s clever father. I’ve been wishing for one of his yarn bowls since she posted a picture of hers. I now need to learn how to use the nostepinne, to wind centre pull yarn cakes, apparently there are videos on You Tube. I’ll show you my efforts when I’ve tried. (If they’re not too embarrassing!)

The time for my annual cross stitch has come. Oh, but if you’re a purist and check each stitch as you go for perfection, use a laying tool or trolley needle for ensuring the threads lie perfectly flat side by side or anything half as professional, please look away now. I’ve been googling tips for cross stitch, I really wish I hadn’t. Sometimes the truly professional take away all in the fun in something, don’t they?! I find summertime cross stitching so absorbing and relaxing to do, when the daylight is good and it’s not as hot as knitting or crocheting. My enjoyment is definitely in the process, not so much in having a perfectly perfect outcome.

A long weekend away in Lincolnshire and another BBQ in the field with friends and family. Just look at that sky! When it was truly dark we stood by the chiminea and just looked up at the stars. I think I need a guide to the constellations since I can only really pick out The Plough aka The Big Dipper.

Lincoln Castle and The Wave. I’ve now seen the commemorative poppies when they were at The Tower of London, The Yorkshire Sculpture Park (after Yarndale last year) and now, unexpectedly, in Lincolnshire. 

A visit to Waterperry Gardens yesterday and another bee on another thistle. I often seem to take a photo of these at gardens. I’ve just enjoyed looking back at posts of previous visits in August 2013, September 2014 and last March. The next time I go it will be for Apple Weekend in October, that’s a lot of fun; sampling so many types of Waterperry grown apples and trying to decide which bag(s) to buy. Then there’s the added choice of whether to buy juice too, cheese and maybe a pie…it’s a nice trip out.

If you fancy writing a post about five or six things you’ve done in the last week, then please leave a link in the comments below. I always like to know what you’ve been up to.

Thank you very much for all your likes and compliments on my Baby Hexagon Blanket, here, on Facebook and Instagram. They made my day.

Lately 


  • With a little help from my friend Trish, of Made by Patch blog, I’ve figured out how to crochet a half hexie so I can finally finish the little blanket off. Hurray! I’d worked it out apart from the beginning; where I was crocheting a chain of 4 and slip stitching them together. Ingeniously she chained 4, but then made the first stitch into the first chain made, making the other 3 into a treble – so no lumpy bumpy circle at the bottom in what should be a half. 
  • Cooking king prawn linguine – so delicious! You want to as well? Roast cherry tomatoes with a teaspoon of olive oil and a teaspoon or two of balsamic vinegar. While the linguine is cooking, gently cook the king prawns in another teaspoon of olive oil, some cloves of garlic and red chilli. Top with basil and a shaving of parmesan. What you can’t see is a hungry man with a slight frown on his face and his fork poised, while I make him wait to take a photograph of his dinner!
  • A gorgeous sunny, relaxed Friday with drinks and dinner at Samuel Jones Smoke & Ale House by the river Exe, in Exeter – thoroughly recommended 
  • A return, after about 14 years, to Lanhydrock a National Trust property, near Bodmin in Cornwall. It was just as good as we remembered and still one of the best houses; due to the sheer number of rooms to see. There’s an interesting focus on the upstairs-downstairs lives of the former inhabitants.

I’ve brought my hexies away with me, to deepest sunniest / rainiest Cornwall, but so far they’ve stayed zipped inside my Cath Kidson bag. I think it’s official: I’ve lost my crojo, or my crajo in general. I’m wondering if by putting this out there now it might mean I do some later?! But there are other things I AM doing: walking lots, as usual, visiting the gym to use some of the equipment, doing an Aqua Zumba class and rediscovering my swimming skills (used to be part of a swimming club.) As it was pouring yesterday morning we went to the local leisure centre to swim lengths, then played race and dive for the locker key and I even did a few handstands in the pool. I dread to think what the expression was on the faces of the young lifeguards! I don’t actually care. When I am old I shall wear purple…. (This poem.)

Spring Day and inspired by another Rachel

   
     

  
   
One walk – so many flowers, the air smells so sweet, the birds are singing their hearts out, the thwack of the cricket ball on the bat, warm 16 degree sunshine. England really does put on a beautiful Spring show.

Inspired by a talented friend who speed crocheted a cardi to wear to a wedding last Saturday, I borrowed Anna Wilkinson’s book from the library yesterday to check out the pattern. It sounds rather dodgy making part of an outfit for a wedding, but it looked so good on her; not dubiously homemade at all. She’s one stylish chick and just doesn’t seem to do naff. It must be the Art Degree, I always think people who are arty have a certain pizzazz. 

I’d forgotten how good a source of inspiration the library shelves can be, I’ve lost the habit of popping in to see what’s there. Reading The Little Shop of Happy Ever After by Jenny Colgan over the last few days has reminded me to use my local libraries. 

Want to see my haul? There’s so much I want to make now, after a bit of an uninspired time, visiting the library was a good move. 

  

  

 The question is can I crochet a cowl in an evening, tonight, to give to my friend tomorrow?  As well as drink G&T and a glass or two of white? 

 

Gunby Hall & Gardens 

   
    
    
    
    
 Gunby Hall and Gardens in Lincolnshire were looking spectacular yesterday. Yes, this was yesterday not mid-July! What a beautifully warm day. Gunby is definitely one of our favourite National Trust properties of the year: the staff were extremely welcoming, but not intrusive, the hall and garden were immaculate, fresh produce from the garden is sold cheaply in the shop, I picked up a brilliant bargain in the secondhand book area and the coffee and walnut cake was delicious. Win win! 

On Saturday there was another BBQ in the field, the last of the year I guess now. If you fancy seeing a couple of the charity shop crochet blankets, which my cousin picked up for people to use when the sun goes down, then check out my Instragram pics (click on the camera icon in pink,  top right of this page). Because nether of us had made them, there was no worry about ketchup/wine/beer spills, sweet little cocker spaniels  jumping up to sit on your lap for a fuss, or whatever else! Apart from a China Teacup Poodle, which I used to have to suffer sitting on my lap in a friend’s car in Australia, this is the first time I’ve willingly had a dog sit on my lap. It’s actually ok, but I’m not making a habit of it. Cats though are welcome. 

Hidcote, again 

   
    
    
    
    
 It’s so lovely at Hidcote that you could visit every week and notice something new. In fact I know someone who once visited every month one year, so as to see the garden changing throughout the four seasons. She can give you the Latin and common names for most of the plants, describe where they used to stand in her last garden and where they are now planted in her new one.

 As for me I just like to sniff the scented air, admire the colours and shapes and imagine myself wafting around the garden with a book under one arm and a craft bag hanging from the other. A bell to ring for an afternoon gin and tonic, cocktail or pot of tea would also be good.

A summer weekend 

   
    
     

  
  
    
My cousin has a cottage in the middle of the Lincolnshire countryside. She bought the field opposite the cottage and now she and her Mister host BBQS for friends and family during the summer. It’s really lovely there. The skies are huge, you can see nothing but sky, fields and the owl flies over every day at five or six o’clock, depending on the season. He usually hoots me to sleep late at night too. 

To make the most of the weekend we fit in a lot of fun including: a visit to the smart shops and deli at Doddington Hall (must go back to see the quilt exhibition, or see if it moves somewhere else) a long seaside walk topped off with locally – Skegness – made ice cream at Mabelthorpe. It never changes at Mabelthorpe which is part of the charm of the place, that and the wide expanse of sandy beach. It was a good job we’d walked miles; the ice cream was followed up by freshly made doughnuts – the danger of burnt fingers is worth the bliss of the eating –  and then fish & chips in the excellent Monty’s. We also visited the pretty market town Louth with its plethora of independent shops, the Lincolnshire Wold Railway (a slightly unnerving experience, I’m not going to lie) a relaxed visit to a country pub nearby and a good look around Belton House and some of the extensive grounds on the way home. This is one of our favourite National Trust visits. I particularly recommend the Below Stairs timed ticket tour, it’s so interesting.

I’m loving making the most of the long light days and warm summer.

How can I have forgotten this – Colin Firth sits at the writing desk in one of the bedrooms at Belton House. Some of the house was used in Pride Prejuduce – though not for the wet shirt lake scene, as there is no lake! A sweet old man, who is one of the room guides there told us that you will see him in a room at Belton, then he walks out of it and into another – that is at another location altogether. It’s really cleverly edited, the continuity must be extremely challenging! 

 

Summer Snapshot

   
    
    
 I’ve been holidaying in West Cornwall during a really beautiful week of weather, walking over 55 miles of coastal paths and local trails, exploring the local area, eating all the seaside holiday faves: pasties, fish and chips, cream tea and loving trying the local ciders.  Rattler (apple) cider is definitely my favourite. 

There was so much to see and photograph: particularly the spectacular coastline from all angles on the peninsula. As you headed away from the sea over a hill, or around a bend you would see it again. We were based only 8 miles from Lands End and wild flowers, butterflies, rabbits, birds and fish abounded. 

Then it was time to come home and I found my plants had grown inches (the dahlias are a foot taller – really) my porch pot has taken off, as you see, compared to the mere 3 flowers it had when I last saw it. There were juicy strawberries to eat, chillies had appeared in abundance and the herbs are bursting out of their pots. We have a very good neighbour who waters while we are away!

Although I took all my crochet kit away, to work on the border of the motif blanket, I didn’t do any. In the evenings it was too hot, or we were eating at a local pubs or sipping wine on the terrace looking out on the 180 degree view of the sea (taking far too many photos of the sunsets), or we were walking by the sea in the evening breeze. All I’ve done, since coming back, is a few rows of knitting of my Hitchhiker shawl. It’s really a scarf isn’t it? I’m not sure where/when calling everything a shawl started.

Now it’s far too hot to have a wooly blanket on my lap!  Today it’s 32 0c and reportedly the hottest day in 9 years. I was in Australia and missed the last one, but remember seeing news reports of tarmac on roads bubbling and railway lines buckling; much to the Aussies amusement. 

  
Like many I have reeled on reading about the death of Wink, there are no words to express my sadness. She will be missed by so many. XX

Glorious Spring sunshine

A long weekend by the sea, in glorious sunshine…  Sun, sea and ice-cream. The first of many this year, I hope. This was Friday at Bognor Regis after a good walk along the prom. It’s lemon meringue flavour; and had fizzy crunchy little meringue pieces mixed into the tangy lemon. I’m looking out for this again!  West Wittering has a beautiful sandy expanse of beach. On Saturday lunchtime it was full of happy dogs playing, kite surfers, kite flying families, horses galloping along the beach and walkers striding out in the sun. It was t-shirt weather again, woo hoo! Apart from watching others enjoying the beach, stopping to examine interesting looking pebbles (I have one with a fossil) and look for sea glass, we played ‘which one would you like’ as we passed beach houses. I like the chalet style on the right. What about you?   We’d walked 5 miles along the shore, not easy going on pebbles towards the end. We walked on sand some of the way, but the tide was coming in fast and covering it as we got to East Wittering and Bracklesham Bay. We stopped at the Medmerry Holiday village, which fortunately had a very comfortable pub. This gate made me smile as we walked back to the beach after lager shandy, crisps and a well needed pit-stop. (You know that feeling of relief girls?!)  How’s that for driftwood?  Although I had a rule that I wouldn’t start any new crochet until I’d finished the motif blanket, my fingers felt sooo itchy to do something. It feels like weeks! I packed my basket full of new yarn, but with the great weather for walking I didn’t open it at all the whole weekend. Evenings were for wine, a little chocolate, reading or a film. On Sunday we visited Uppark House and Garden. It’s become a tradition to seek out a new National Trust property on the last day of a holiday or mini-break. It’s perfect for a good wander inside and out in lovely surroundings, a drink and snack, then a good mooch in the gift-shop.

Do you remember my Wool Money post? I still don’t look at odds, history or jockeys or trainers, it’s completely randomly based on the horses’ names. As I sat on a picnic bench back at West Wittering on Saturday evening I checked the Grand National results, with the last 1% of my iphone battery. I leapt into the air and looked everywhere for the Mr. I probably looked like a mere-cat on sentry duty. One of mine had WON! Last year’s joint membership to the National Trust was funded by his lottery win, this year’s renewal is thanks to Many Clouds.    I had low expectations for the scent garden at Uppark, this early in the year, but wow! The scent from so many hyacinths was stunning. Unfortunately my nose and eyes ran for the rest of the day! Oh well, we’re heading to hay fever season. I’ve just checked my anti-histamine supplies and typically all are out of date. There’s obviously good business in the hay fever relief industry.
  Aren’t these fritillieries beauties?  I did start some new crochet (tut, tut) when home. It’s bright and sunny again today; so I’ll nip into the garden later to try to take some decent photos for you.

What are you up to?

Five things

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This is my bargain of last week, a 1,000 piece jigsaw from my favourite charity shop for £1.95. I have to admit that I would never have mentioned it here, but when I sent a ‘look at my bargain!’ message to a few friends and family I realised from their replies that puzzles are people’s guilty pleasure. Or maybe we are just a really uncool lot! Actually today I saw that Hobbycraft sell them, so maybe they’re popular again?

I’ve harped on about wanting to do a jigsaw after reading a Christmas novel, which I bought from a charity shop sale shelf for 25p last January. My friend got me onto Christmas fiction and so I keep my eyes open for a few books for December every year. Anyway, the main character in Twelve days of Christmas by Trisha Ashley cooks for house parties in the summer and house sits for a rest in the winter. This year things turn out rather differently and she ends up with a houseful of the client’s family. While stocking up with food and presents she sees the village shop has a jigsaw, which she leaves on a table in the dining room for everyone to do gradually as they pass by. It just caught my imagination for some reason. Suddenly I really wanted to do my first jigsaw since childhood. It’s a joke really as I found the outside so hard to do, the red background and yellow script are REALLY hard, and I lost my mojo. However it turns out I live with a puzzle genius who has now completed nine tenths of it. I deliberately chose one with a fly fishing theme, as I thought it might interest him into helping me. It worked, with bells on. I don’t give up on them all though – I await a delivery of some of my friend’s jigsaws (“Not hard ones please!”)
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I found this personalised tea towel the other day. I’d forgotten I embroidered this, I was asked to add a trout but that wasn’t the original plan so I’m not. It’s going into service. I might do a ‘moron’ one to complete a set….! It’s a family joke.

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I’m baby hexieing still, mostly just doing a group of seven at the weekend, so am sticking to the original one-a-day plan now, though might have a splurge and make lots more at points during the year. It depends how I feel. The thing is that the material doesn’t have a lot of drape because the hexagons are so small.
This is the boring part of the process….
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Yesterday there was a knock at the door with what I guess is the signature flourish of a local florist’s delivery driver. Isn’t this a beautiful bunch of flowers? Forsythia, tulips, freesia and something which look like hyacinths. The card says they are to brighten these drab February days. They certainly do and smell delightful too. Lucky me.
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I did an incredibly nerdy thing the other day – I made an inventory of my Clover Amour hooks, just so I know what I’ve got. My new 5.5 mm and other (I can’t remember!) sized one arrived in the post and I thought it seemed a good idea at the time. This is more embarrassing than the jigsaw puzzle probably. I hang my head in nerdiness.

What’s happening with you? Do you want to write a Five Things post and put the link below?

Why would you put an egg on it?

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A wander by the river admiring the beginnings of autumn colour then lunch al fresco. The pub fires were lit but it was really too warm to be inside, such a lovely day. I had a starter of wild garlicky mushrooms on sourdough toast with a surprise poached egg on top which I ate, although they’d obviously done that poaching trick as it tasted faintly of vinegar. Then my friend and I decided a starter and a sinful pudding would be perfect, because we were only having a light lunch. Women’s logic is infallible. Mine wasn’t around long enough to snap but I can tell you it was swimming in sauce and had a good dollop of clotted cream on top!

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By noon today and yesterday it’s been 18 degrees and people are strolling about in t-shirts again. It’s incredible weather for October, we haven’t even had a frost yet.

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The flowers in the photo were in troughs alongside the tables and there were stunning hanging baskets behind us, all bursting full of begonias, freesias and other pretties. This is weird weather – but I like the temporary respite from autumn and I’m trying to make the most of the mini Indian Summer.

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I popped into my favourite yarn shop after lunch and grabbed an extra graphite, raspberry and lime for my ripple. £1.60 for 100g, super value isn’t it?

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I’ve just remembered that I was told off for pausing and squealing at the celeb version of Gogglebox the other night – Miranda and co were on a sofa with a granny square blanket hanging off the back, but also…..THIS:

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Even ripples are mainstream now. Is it the death knell for crochet? My e-pal and I were saying typing at the weekend that the handmade revolution can’t last forever and she reckons the cool kids will stop as everybody else gets on board. White walls and minimalism will be back with a vengeance, and the yarn shops will close again. But not for a while I hope!

There is an interesting feature in the new issue of Inside Crochet with Sara of Black Sheep Wools, all about how the business began, subsequently stalled and what happened when knitting and crochet came back.

I’ve just caught up on the first of the specials of the Great British Sewing Bee for Children In Need, it’s not great without Claud and doesn’t feel half as good as the usual series, but I like Edith, she’s very cool, and Dave makes me giggle. I won’t say who won in case you’re catching up too. I’ve got the other two to see as well.

You?

I don’t take any responsibility for the lame title, I asked for suggestions and it was better than my ‘Not cool’ or ‘Washing on the line again.’ Not cool was obviously because of the temps but …..well….it describes this blog too! Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. Be yourself. Ya de yah. *Grin*

Snowshill Manor & Garden

Yesterday we had yet another late Summer day; t-shirt, sandals and sitting outside weather. We’ve been really fortunate this week. It seems that oop north the weather is not being so kind. I overheard a couple from Yorkshire saying that it’s much warmer down here. Being determined to make the most of it we went to explore another National Trust house and garden. It’s about twelve years since we first visited and found Snowshill Manor and Garden a delight.

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“Snowshill Manor is a Cotswold manor house packed with extraordinary treasures collected over a life time by Charles Wade

Inside these rooms you can discover this eclectic collection that he restored and displayed. We have maintained the atmospheric settings he created with low lighting and few labels. From tiny toys to Samurai armour, musical instruments to fine clocks, thousands of objects are laid out for you to see just as Mr Wade intended.

The garden is the perfect place to unwind and explore hidden vistas, quiet corners and unexpected delights including Charles Wade’s uncomplicated home, the Priest’s House.

“Let nothing perish” was his motto, and his life was dedicated to doing just that. From the everyday to the extraordinary, you can discover his passion for craftsmanship, colour and design.” National Trust Website, 14th September 2014.

You’re never quite sure what you’ll discover next when exploring the house. The collection is not to everyone’s taste; in one room a woman exclaimed that it was all a bit spooky. This might be due to the gloomy lighting, the strange mix of things or perhaps the many faces depicted on items, which can be unsettling. I know exactly what she meant, but it’s a fascinating place to look around. For me the garden is the best part…

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I hope you’ve enjoyed these photos. I always think of people far away from the English countryside who enjoy seeing glimpses, but know picture heavy posts of outings and holidays are not everyone’s thing.

~~~~~

I’ve heard that there’s a new crochet magazine coming out in the UK this coming week called #crochet. I’m trying to find who, when, where but my friend Google has surprisingly not thrown up any answers at all. If you have any info about the mag, please share!

Waterperry Gardens

Although it’s quite a bit cooler now and the nights are drawing in at an alarming rate (curtains closed by 8pm) it still feels like late Summer.
I took a trip, with a friend, to Waterperry Gardens at the beginning of the week. It was lovely and warm outside, so I took a picnic for us to eat at one of the outside tables. I’m glad because car picnics aren’t much fun; tubs slide off the dashboard and you end up doing a balancing act with a plate on your knee!

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The gardens are so well tended it’s a pleasure to wander, or sit, and take in the colour. There is a new ‘Truth Walk’, it would be good to go along the paths when the snowdrops are flowering.

My friend knows many of the staff at Waterperry and we stopped to chat several times. Apparently two of the head gardeners at Sissinghurst, when Vita and Harold established the garden, were trained at Waterperry. I was asked if I’d had noticed any similarities in the designs? You can actually; as I mentioned after my visit to Sissinghurst Vita didn’t wish to see any earth between the plants, the beds were crammed full, this is also striking in the long border at Waterperry.

Have you been on any day trips lately?

Happy weekend all, have a good one.

Create Make Bake Nurture Enjoy

This is maybe a bit of a syrupy sweet title but it nicely describes my Summer days at the moment.

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Picking strawberries; Mum on one side of the row, me on the other. Trying to keep up my end of the conversation with strawberry juice running down my chin! Sun warmed, juicy and sweet they were – oh yum.

Three large punnets of raspberries and one of strawberries picked, some very posh meringues bought from the farm shop and then home to my sugar mountain.

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The recipe was from my Good Housekeeping Book of Preserves It’s here in my jam making post from 2012 if you fancy making some too. It’s so easy and pretty fast; my eight pots were full of raspberry jam by 10:30.

Brrrr if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere! It seems to be all about sock knitting, blanket making, log fires and snowfall with some of you this week.

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Homemade breakfast. Yum. There is nothing more satisfying than eating homemade toasted bread and jam. It really gives a glow to know that you’ve created something from scratch; whether it’s food, flowers or craft, doesn’t it?

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I’m doing the sourdough starter thing again, I started this on Monday.

Get a 1 litre kilner jar, or similar, put in 70g strong white bread flour and 70ml water, mix well until there are no lumps. Repeat this feeding process daily for a week. After 3-4 days it should be bubbling nicely. At the end of the week it’s ready to use. It’s as easy as that.

Google sourdough starters at your peril; there are so many sourdough starter nerds and pages of bumpf out there detailing exact temperatures and micrograms of this, that and the other when it’s basically a very simple process that people have been doing for hundreds (thousands?) of years.

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I took these two pics yesterday afternoon, it was doing great. Then late last night I came downstairs to whip the aerial out of the socket, after seeing the sky lighting up with strange horizontal silent lightning, and smelt the starter really strongly. The jar was sat in a puddle of starter, it was seeping out of the closed container like a slow volcano! It was about 28 deg here yesterday, probably hotter in the house, and look how much it grew in a few hours. I must have trapped some super-powerful natural airborne yeast! It’s now in a large mixing bowl…

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My first posy of sweetpeas. I sent Trish a packet of seeds as part of her birthday present in the Spring and we’ve been sharing pics of our first sweetpeas on IG.

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Some Saturday mornings I get up and really feel like baking something. This morning I chose to bake Citrus Muffins from this book. A little like lemon drizzle cake with a zesty lemony syrup drizzled on top when they were hot from the oven. You also put lemon and lime zest in the muffin mixture. I’d double the zest next time to make them even more citrusy.

Have you created, made, nurtured and enjoyed something this week?

Lots of pretties

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Choosing a range of Stylecraft colours for my next make – a crochet blanket. The colour scheme needs to complement some William Morris fabric. I’m enjoying selecting them as they’re a new combination. You might be able to see my light ticks on the colour chart if you look closely, or enlarge the pic.
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A lovely post-Sunday lunch was spent in this garden yesterday, sitting in the sun flicking through magazines and chatting. We make the most of the weather when it’s sunny. The cottage garden style border is poised to break into an abundance of colour.

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Twinkling and sparkling this huge sign is pretty, it’s on the front of the Selfridges store, London. Many were taking photos with themselves in front. I enjoy having strangers hand me their iPhone so I can take their photo. It happens a lot. A lot. I must look so trustworthy (or maybe like I’m not going to be running anywhere fast), this always amuses me.

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My beautiful bouquet of flowers. Stocks and freesias scent the air.

If you fancy a very slow, beautifully shot film, directed by Jane Campion, which features Love, sewing, fancy dresses and bonnets, Love and plenty of romantic poetry from the young Love struck Keats then watch Bright Star. Even the slight twang of antipodean accents at times (aiming for English) can be forgiven.

April showers in May (with a tiny bit of crochet !)

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An impromptu picnic lunch at Blenheim Palace, sitting on a rain coat munching on salad and watching the swans paddle serenely along the lake. The weather is so April showerish still, even though it’s now May, the sky changed so fast from blue to grey. Even the pheasant ruffled his feathers and wandered off for cover, giving up all hope of sharing my lunch.
Time for a train ride?

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Ah, it’s oh so quiet. There’s a new train (‘Winston’ – Blenheim is the birthplace and family home of Winston Churchill so there’s lots about him and now a train too!) and tunnel which I was quite excited about, it will be good for children to go through a dark bit, but for adults it’s actually a long wooden structure (shed) which can be locked to house the new carriages. Oh well, the anticipation has been nice. Serves me right for being such a child!
The overhauled butterfly house is different. The bridge over the water has gone, lots of the green bushy plants have been removed and new brightly flowering shrubs are in place. You can see the butterflies clearer against the new white screens, it will be worth making a special trip when more have hatched later in the season. I virtually chased one up and down the length of the house to try to photograph it; a HUGE bright beautiful blue one, but he was obviously camera-shy.

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This bank holiday weekend we’re meant to be at the coast enjoying some walks and time by the water, the weather had other ideas however…

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We’ve cancelled the hotel tonight and will see if it’s worth going for the next two days. At least I won’t have to water any plants!

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My elbow is getting much better, though I am going to organise some acupuncture as I’ve found a way to get some free again, after a break of 10 years of needing it. Hurrah! Here’s to another ten years without the need?! I’ve had a few days without painkillers and am using my left hand much more to lift heavier things without aggravating it, I’ve noticed, so as it’s such a rainy day I’ve decided to try a bit of crochet. I haven’t done any craft since before Easter when I made the chicken bags. It’s been odd having still hands in the evenings.

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This is not exactly a thing of beauty, it’s just six blocks I rooted out when I was looking through my stash sometime ago, but haven’t been able to join them. When I began crocheting the CAL blocks I made some test ones with Stylecraft Special DK before the posh yarn. I don’t like wasting things so I’ve decided to crochet them into a ‘thing’. Maybe a dolly blanket to give away to children I know or donate to a Foundation Stage class. I don’t know where it will end up, but I know it’s been so lovely to sit on a rainy day and crochet a little bit just for the sheer pleasure of it.

As I’ve been typing Someone’s decided to go fishing because trout don’t really mind the rain apparently, and when you’ve got good waterproofs it’s not an issue for humans either. As for me I’ve declared I am doing “Bugger all” I’m so good at it too, it seems a shame not to try.

What’s the weather like where you are? Are you also curled up and making something today?

 

In & out the dusty bluebells

IMG_2752 IMG_2753IMG_2756IMG_2757IMG_2758IMG_2763IMG_2765IMG_2767IMG_2769IMG_2776Visiting a wood which you grew up walking to regularly is wonderful, every step prompts a memory and even the oak trees seem to wave a greeting.

Driving past a farm where a territorial dog was always likely to rush out barking at us all still provokes sweaty hands and a racing heart. Once I suggested ‘Let’s go back another way’ but that brought head shaking and “Come on, he’s only saying ‘Hello, this is my patch.'”  I tried just stopping, standing stock still in the middle of the lane, but realised the others were taking no notice and were wandering further away back down the hill.

This visit there was no dog, at least not one silly enough to run out in front of a car. As we stepped out into the dandelion field at the back of the woods Mum and I heard a galloping noise; two very large deer were running straight towards us with a sound like horses pounding along a racecourse. Simultaneously two things happened; Mum whispered ‘Look aren’t they wonderful, stand really still’ and I rushed to stand behind her. One deer changed course immediately, turning in a sharp circle bounding to the other end of the field. The other continued galloping along, it seemed to be charging right for us, hooves pounding in time to my racing heart. It was probably only a few seconds and then he too turned. The pair gracefully jumped through a gap in the trees and into the wood. I remembered I was holding my camera too late. They had gone.

10 random things

This morning I saw this post from Kate of the bloody excellent Foxs Lane blog and it inspired me so much that I grabbed my iphone and took some very random photos during the rest of my day.

I relate when Kate writes from time to time that she’s doubting the whole blogging thing and wonders who’s interested, why she does it and feels that it’s purely self-indulgent. I often feel the same, pause for a bit, then whack a post out into the ether and get busy in real life again. The often interesting, lovely and thought provoking comments which come back from you guys, plus all the connections I’ve made in the bloggy world, make it feel like a totally good thing, and so those feelings pass again for a while.
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What I didn’t mention when I was rhapsodising about my porridge habit the other day, was that even though I leave it cooking on the lowest setting I often burn it in the pan. I’ve got the knack of stirring it, very carefully if that’s happened, and pouring it out so there are no black bits in my bowl! I must look out for a small non-stick pan.

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I love daffodils and buy lots of bunches every year. These were a present from the market on Saturday. I always think they’re smiley happy flowers, a bit like pansies who have the cutest little faces.

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The knitted poncho has been used plenty. It’s so good for pulling on when I feel too lazy to go upstairs and get a warmer clothing. But the rhubarb ripple hasn’t really ever been used since it was crocheted. It’s been folded with other blankets at the end of the bed in the little room because it doesn’t really ‘go’ at all downstairs. The other day I decided to grab it because it was so chilly when I was sitting knitting and watching tv. It’s now downstairs to stay this Winter – so soft, warm and big enough to snuggle!

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This book is so British!

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A very small section of the many books in The Works which is becoming the place to browse and actually buy craft books, as opposed to looking elsewhere and going home to order more affordable copies online. They have Kat Goldin’s Crochet at Play (it’s where I bought my copy,) Lisa Comfort’s Sew Over it and The Great British Sewing Bee book (NEW SERIES begins next week) as well many other well-known and not-so well-known titles.

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I had to choose a plant for my summer pot for the porch so it can slowly grow on. It was nice to contemplate fuchsias (last Summer’s choice) lilies and geraniums.
I opted for this beautiful apple blossom geranium. I’ll chose some complimenting trailing plants nearer the time of potting up. Some gorgeous verbena (aztec dark pink magic) plants have caught my eye. They’re definitely on the short-list.
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Annoying! The back door is jammed, the lock has a fault now for some reason. A guy came to fix it last week and broke the key off in the lock. I came home to half a key on its keyring on the kitchen worktop, which made me giggle despite myself. Let’s hope he does a better job of sorting it out on Friday!
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You’ve seen this meadow here many times, but it’s never been this flooded in all the years we’ve lived here. It’s now turned into a lake really, especially further out. I’m glad to see there are still green bits showing as there’s still somewhere for more water to go. (Not thinking about the water table.) I read recently that if it hadn’t done such a good job as a flood plain over the centuries the centre of the city would have been under water many times.
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A cheering end to my 10 random things: my Winter pot of violas with the bulb shoots showing through. Despite the appalling weather it’s actually very mild here, snowdrops and other Spring flowers are appearing early. We’ve had up to 80mph winds and battering rain here, this pot sits in the front porch which is not enclosed, but these fragile little beauties must have a hidden strength!

I hope this hasn’t been too random to read. It is definitely self-indulgent but is the most fun I’ve had in a while making a blog post. Do you feel like doing one too? I’d love you to link to it here in the comments, or just let me know if you have.

Inspirational

On bank holiday Monday, last week, we visited Winchester. “You mustn’t visit Winchester without going to the cathedral” we were told.

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It’s a truly magnificent building. I can’t even begin to describe its size and features, it’s immense. The Cathedral website is really informative if you want to take a look.

Many people will have visited the Cathedral simply to pay a visit to the last resting place of Jane Austin.

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Interestingly it wasn’t until many years after she was buried that the number of people visiting her grave were noted, as her work gained popularity.

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These lilies were heavenly scented, I love them.

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I really like the Antony Gormley sculpture ‘Sound II’ in the Cathedral crypt.

However it was the tapestry work that really, really, caught my eye, as you shall see. I used to enjoy tapestry, but when my elbow was very painful I gave it up. Plus it was far from cool to be making tapestry cushions. Now I wish I had just taken extra painkillers, had a treble G&T and stuck my fingers up to cool. I bought most of my materials from Liberty of London, they used to have a wide selection of wool, canvas, kits and materials. They really have scaled back the selection but you can still find some nice choices. There was a postal ordering service I used to buy from also, which will now have a website but I just need to remember the company’s name…

What follows are many, many (I seem to be in a repeating the-same-word-twice-mode today, sorry. I can control this mode and hit the delete button, but choose not to, just in case you’re wondering if there’s a compulsive issue going on here) photos of tapestry work. Some are faded from use, sunlight and age, others are newer. I find all beautiful and inspirational.

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Inspirational colours, designs and because of the amount of hours that they took to create.

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Fuzzy, but I don’t want to delete the above. Partly close your eyes and squint to focus?

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A windmill and what I think is a plough, surrounded by the fruit of the land?

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I would also have stitched my initials & the year on the back too!

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When we bought our entry tickets we were told they are also season tickets, so we’re planning to go back to take a tour and find out more about the history, carvings, art, sculpture etc etc of this incredible building. I have a feeling that all photographing devices will be taken from me prior to the tour; I was a long time sighing over and photographing these beauties!

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I’ve always been a huge fan of Kaffe Fassett, particularly when I was first interested in tapestry. I’m going to A Life in Colour, an exhibition celebrating Kaffe’s work, with Natasja of the CrocheTime blog. I can’t wait!

Week 22: CAL Blocks #64 #65 #66

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#64 Sunshine Lace
5 1/2 ” square

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#65 Patriotic Sunburst
Nearly 5 1/2″ square
I’m not sure about the rounded corners on this one, perhaps it just needs stretching out flat…

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#66 Abstract
5 1/2″ square
I laughed a bit when I read that one blogger has decided she mustn’t watch tv and crochet at the same time. It made me think that I must be way more accomplished and had really mastered this crochet thing. Ha ha ha Rachel…

I crocheted these blocks last weekend during writing breaks. This one was ‘completed’ during Saturday Morning Kitchen, then half undone and re-crocheted during the week when watching The Gilmore Girls. Then, finally half redone this morning during Saturday Morning Kitchen (very, very gritted teeth.) I just kept making the section above the splodge too wide. I don’t know why really; I blame the gorgeous James Martin (A Yorkshire chef & presenter on SMK. Phoar!!!)
The splodge looks like a splodge in the book too. This one’s darnarama also. Needless to say I WILL NOT be making this one again.

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Curly twirly corners ;-)

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Just after I posted here yesters a beautiful bouquet arrived! :-D
I’ve had such lovely messages from friends and family too. My favourite text was from my friend Sarah when she saw my two bound dissertations – ‘Holy Sh**!!! Well Done!!!!!!!’ She’s working hard on hers at the moment and I know exactly how she’s feeling. It’s so good to be at the end of a lot of hard work. I’ve got that school’s out for summer feeling now.

The icing on the cake is while I’ve been writing this the postie has just brought me:

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I took advantage of the first 3 issues for £5 offer. I did the same with The Simple Things mag, but really didn’t like it much. I have high hopes for this one…I’ll let you know my thoughts if you like?

What are your plans this lovely weekend? Tell me what you’re up to. :-)

Afterwards

It’s finished. All over!

The feeling that I should always be doing something else and not really crocheting, or watching The Gilmore Girls, or wandering around shops or meeting up with the girls; drinking, eating and chatting or or… or… or… or….  is over! I can do it all at once if I choose to from now on.
I have handed in two bound copies of my research dissertation, and at some point this year I’ll (hopefully) once again be wearing a silly cap and gown. It’s odd but you’d think today I’d be out there looking for a hill so I can fling my arms around in the air singing loudly, a la The Sound of Music, but actually I’ve got that massive sense of anti-climax.

I’m in the Little Room typing this properly (two fingers and all) instead of on my iPhone which is how I’ve been posting lately during  this very, very busy last month. I actually missed the sitting here at my desk, in front of the window doing my daily surveillance of the neighbourhood. It’s only been a morning (!) but I’ve missed seeing my elderly neighbour go out to meet her friends. I haven’t seen the 3 year old opposite, who is the size of a pin-head,  come back from nursery on her teeny scooter wearing her teeny helmet with her Dad at lunchtime.  I haven’t spotted the lady who looks like Jilly Cooper either. Around this time she usually walks past wearing her welly boots with a little terrier at her heels. I also haven’t noted who’s got their Ocado/Sainsbury’s/Tesco food delivery today or how many courier parcel deliveries have arrived. But after such a non-stop 7 day a week routine writing this month it’s bound to take a bit of adjustment huh. It feels a bit like it’s the first week of January because really the whole month passed me by, apart from a few walks in the snow.

First things first:

1. Make some hot chocolate with as many marshmallows as I can fit on the top (it’s a pint mug)

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2. Finish the third CAL block of the week (new wool, new wool!!!)

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3. Go and find some flowers to celebrate The End

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(Liberty of London when we visited in December.)

PS: It should be noted that setting up the CAL was in no way to distract myself from all the work I should have been doing. In no way. At. All.

It should also be noted that when we enjoyed a bottle of Taittinger last night S did not toast The End saying ‘TF it’s over” :-D

2012

It’s my blog birthday today !

A year of crochet, a little knitting and embroidery, people, places, food and quite a lot of  chat.  I’ve enjoyed making bloggy contacts, having a peep at what you’re making, reading about your favourite things and getting to know your part of the world.

I look forward to maybe meeting some more of you in person next year for some social crochet-knitting-sewing-whatever get togethers. :-D

birthday cake

HaPpy NEw YEaR EvERyOnE!

New crochet books

My books have arrived! I won them in a blog giveaway by Erin Bassett

I never usually win when I enter prize draws, raffles or lotteries but I’ve received two prizes in a week! Woo hoo!

It was hard trying to pick my favourite patterns to show you but I narrowed it down to the sunflower from the crochet flowers book, and the log cabin block (love this!) and paisley motif from the Vogue crochet stitchionary.

What is immediately impressive about both books is that they have written and diagram patterns; so although the stitches are in USA crochet terms they are easy to use whatever you are used to. Plus it should get me used to the symbols as well. I still have my Japanese and Chinese crochet books to play with at some point.

I’ll be back on Tuesday with the results of the CAL theme vote (still getting votes every day!) and a link you can put on your blog if I sort out the technology.

Happy (bank holiday) weekend everyone!

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Safron’s flowers

My friend Safron’s favourite colour is green, and when I offered to crochet her something she asked for flowers in different shades of green that she could play with; to make into brooches etc.

I turned to my crochet magazine archive for pattern inspiration, and also made up another few simple flowers…

I’m looking forward to seeing what Safron makes with her flowers.

(Did you spot the one that looks like a cauliflower?!)

In other news: Guess what?

Prachi’s bag has arrived and she was delighted with it!

“Let me start with a big big HUG and THANK YOU for the lovely, lovely bag you made for me…it’s so beautiful, and already the envy of my colleagues! My apologies that you had to wait for so long and get worried about it not turning up…I guess it did take a while to reach, but due to some last-moment work plans I too have been out of the area for about 10 days now……Been very swamped with work lately, so this present has not only made my day but my week and month! It’ll hold my everyday items nicely and will be ideal for walks around town…love that I can knot up the strap and adjust it according to my need, very funky touch that is…and the colours are gorgeous…Rachel, you’re one talented lady, and prompt and super-thoughtful on top of that :) :) :).”

*Blush*

SOoOo glad it finally got to Prachi and most importantly that she liked it. :-D

Crafty treats & birthday presents

>A wander around a new craft superstore20120816-160103.jpg

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20120816-160121.jpg> This is a little different but each to their own! It’s probably more comfortable than being carried in a little handbag…20120816-160134.jpg> A few treats 20120816-160141.jpg> A surprise in the post. But this was a disappointment for the one who collected it from the post office and thought he’d won a fishing reel in a competition! The look was priceless when it turned out to be a subscriber gift from Mollie Makes magazine.  So, I get the magazine for a year of birthday present that keeps on giving, and the Amy Butler fabric! Win, win.

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>Stopping to admire my doorstep20120816-160318.jpg> Greek salad for lunch, not craft or a birthday present but a very tasty meal sitting in the sun listening the Best of David Bowie…..Let’s Dance! We could be Heroes….Little China Girl…..Fashion!….Ashes to Ashes…..20120816-160326.jpg> Trying out one of last week’s birthday pressies – my new slow cooker. I had to use pliers to turn the knob round on my last one and like this red model very much. I’m cooking Malaysian beef and aubergine curry for dinner (smelling good!)

The recipe’s from Ultimate Slow Cooker by Sara Lewis if you fancy trying it.20120816-160332.jpg

Happy days

Ooooh a lovely day today; flowers and thank you cards from school as its the end of the academic year tomorrow, and one of my lottery winnings (£10!) gift to myself has arrived.
It is good to give, but even better to receive!
It’s been one of those super weeks in all kinds of ways. Hope it has been a satisfying one for you too.
Have a good Friday and a lovely weekend. I’m off ooop north ish to catch up with friends and check out the shops.

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Blooming thing

I have finished my blooming flower cushion, well thought I had anyway…
After I’d dc-ed the edges together at the beginning of the week, around the sumptuous feather cushion pad I bought from a seller on Ebay, I realised that the joins of the red rounds in the middle are quite not very good. B****r!!!!
I’m going to have re-do it I think. It’s going to be a present along with the Rainbow Granny Stripe blanket but even if it wasn’t I don’t like knowing its not very good.

I have yet another cold this year, I haven’t had so many for years. I can’t believe it. The new Let’s Get Crafting Knitting & Crochet magazine was going to help operation cheer-up Rachel this morning, but wasn’t in Sainsbury’s this morning. Boo.

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Sunday

We had a lovely day out yesterday, to a pottery then a pub where we sat by the river in the sunshine (yes! we’ve had some more sunshine!)

Then we took some nutty oat and raisin cookies I baked on Saturday to a friend. That was quite funny. We arrived and were saying what we’d been up to for the day, but honestly it was like seeing Scooby Doo in action; the nose went up, the eyes were fixed on the tin in my hand. “Cake? Is that cake? I haven’t had CAKE for ages!”

I’ve used a gallery setting for these photos, click on the first one to view in a slideshow setting at your own pace….

Summer Flower Garland

I planned to make this garland as a quick easy project, a break from crocheting the mega Rhubarb Ripple and Spring Flowers blankets. I saw the pattern in my crochet magazine last weekend, started it last week and finished it on Saturday, basically that was in two sittings. It’s fast, easy and satisfying to create.

I’m not entirely sure what to do with it. The Little Room already has bunting, a bird, three jars with crocheted jackets and Gilbert the owl, oh and the Yorkshire blanket. Less now is probably more; otherwise I might start having nightmares about waking up wrapped in crocheted strips, a big mummified crochet addict. I might send it to Alice May, I bet her creative Mummy could make a mobile or attach it somewhere to hang prettily.

If you like this and fancy a go at your own then grab a copy of Let’s Get Crafting Magazine for the pattern. I think it’s a goodie.

Happy Weekend Things

::Halfway through the Rhubarb Ripple blanket now::The first in the series of books. It’s predictable and easy, very comfy weekend reading in fact. The UK edition was originally called ‘Diva’s don’t Knit’…there are lots of not-so-happy comments on Amazon about this; disappointed buyers expecting this one to have been another in the series and finding they’d already read it…just to let you know.)

::A charity shop find for £1:50. It’s JAM-PACKED with patterns (charts as well as written patterns, so I ‘might’ crack charts soon – but I’m not concentrating on this until the blanket is finished.)

::And this page which makes my strange joining obsession happy!

::Some more Spring Flower circles completed (yes, yes I’m darning in the ends as I complete a batch. I’ve learnt my lesson now…:-D)

I’m watching episodes of the BBC’s Little Dorrit at the moment, my lovely friend N has lent me the box-set, today’s episode was when Mr X gets the news about X (no spoilers from The Little Room, oh no – not from me!) and I confess to having to put down my crochet and wipe my eyes…

::Loving my bucket still.

::OOoh a new edition. This magazine is improving all the time. Now with great shopping, craft courses, craft holidays(!) and blog and knitting/crochet fiction recommendations. I tend to ignore the knitting patterns and power on through to the crochet, but I might head back to knitting one day, so I have saved a stash of the magazines for then.::NO NEVER (remember my 1970s poodle wine bottle cover and Barbie toilet roll cover comment?) Susie Johns what were you thinking??!?…….This must have been a blip?

::Maybe! These are pretty.

HAPPY WEEKEND TO YOU ALL

HAVE A GOOD CRAFTY ONE

….maybe with a drop of something nice to drink…but please PleAsE don’t let it have come out of a knitted or crocheted bottle covered….ummm bottle. I implore you!!!!!

Bank holiday

Well, Plan B has happened this bank holiday weekend. Instead of being whisked away for a long weekend to the south coast, walking along beaches looking for messages in bottles washed up upon the sand, sea glass and interesting looking pebbles, I’ve had my leg up with ice packs on my knee and am going downstairs backwards. It seems that it is possible for your knee to go on holiday without you. You discover this when you try to get out of bed, but roll on the floor instead.

Ah well, the disappointment hasn’t lasted long since Plan A has been rebooked for another time. I’ve listened to hours of a fantastic new audio book and enjoyed the sunshine streaming into the house.

Here’s what I’ve been up to….

Now The Rainbow Granny Stripe is done and dusted its full steam ahead with The Rhubarb Ripple blanket.

Look what I’ve just bought, it stops the yarn rolling all over the place as I crochet. I might say that it also means less fluffy, bitty, velcro like yarn, but that would imply I haven’t hoovered for a while. So I won’t.

It’s a herb bucket, sooo pretty,  and less than £5 from Aldi.

Then on to The Spring Flower blanket. Now this turned into a bit of a saga, enjoyable but a saga all the same today.

I’m going to start darning ends in as I go. I promise. I do like darning but it is a major faff when all you want to do is the end bit of a project as I found out last week!

Patch is right; I do have a new obsession about joining methods. If I’ve asked you 1000s of questions about your method, and you’ve answered patiently, then a big thank you to you. I’ve also watched lots of YouTube videos and scoured my magazines and crochet books. I just wanted to find the method that I enjoyed. Not necessarily the best, but the most fun. So, the above is Patch’s sewn whip-stitch method. Ho hum, the tension is bad and it was a real fiddle. I used to do lots of cross stitch, tapestry and pathwork but am out of practice and it shows.

Next I tried double crochet which I used before on the dolls blankets

S has never been involved in my crochet endeavors so far, apart from nodding his head in a complimentary fashion (and using a piccy of The Rainbow GS on his desktop background. Now that must be high praise eh?!)  but he didn’t like the green. It was just too green, he said. I tried white as I wasn’t too sure about the greenness either.

DC versus sewing is definitely the most satisfying and the tension is a perfect match too. I really like the ridge, it’s a bit different and adds a nice texture to the work. But I’m not sure about the white. It doesn’t quite make sense to me. Why would you suddenly have that white? Has it snowed in Spring?! S isn’t sure about all the random colour combinations either. I’m happy with them though. I think…

Not sure. Really not sure…

More comparison….

Bye, bye white. Zip! It’s gone!

How long should it be? I’ll see how it measures up against the RR. I’ll do some edging on it too. I’ve undone my original green joins and rearranged the colours into less random pairs. I think S was right and it is easier on the eye.

It’s been really satisfying deciding on a method of joining, rearranging the squares and realizing that my Dublin hotel crocheted squares are going to come together nicely to make a blanket.

PLeAse DONt TelL mE YoU PReferReD ThE WhItE.

:-D

Dublin. A little itty bit of crochet is featured.

A little indulgence early in the morning in a very comfortable hotel room in Dublin.

Ok, I lie. It was probably 8am or maybe 8:30am but that’s early on hols right?

Meeting an Irish friend in Bewleys, Grafton street for coffee at 12:30 turns into a fantastic mini walking tour of the centre of the city,  a mooch around the National Gallery, a very, very late lunch and then a mini pub crawl. Her partner joins us after work at 6pm and happily joins in. Cheers! Lots of drink and a baby guiness (yummm! It’s not what you think. Look it up.) later I go back to the hotel and meet up with a large group of friends for more cheering rounds. Hurrah!

Not mentioning the paracetemol breakfast the following morning.

Now when they taught us the song at school they omitted to mention that sweet Molly Malone was ‘the dish with the fish’ or ‘the tart with the cart.’ By day a respectable fish seller and by night holding another profession altogether. But, as one of the Irish in my hotel said: it was hard enough to have one job, let alone two during those times.

These fantastic signs are everywhere. Protected apparently now. Quite right.

Not entirely sure about the Italian teen who clambered on poor Oscar’s leg to have her photo taken after I took this…

And that’s it for now, I’ll post a few more from Dublin’s fair city soon.

 

Flower pincushion

I decided that I needed a new upstairs (The Little Room!) pin-cushion so made this the other day.

The floating pincushion could carry on doing sterling work downstairs. I’m umm errr darning in the ends of the little pieces I’ve made for my *cough* *cough* 3rd/4th blanket at the moment.

I know…. “Hi, I’m Rachell and I’m addicted to starting multiple projects.”

See why it’s been christened the floating pc now?! (Here’s the original blog post)

The plan for the rainbow granny stripe is to take it, and only it, away on trip #1 soon.

Maybe for trip #2 I might take the alternative granny squares, the rhubarb ripple or the new spring flowers ‘squares,’ or maybe I will have some time off crochet?! Hmmm but bad shopping things may happen if I do the latter. I am remembering this earlier in the year.

 

Sunny morning hooky

Lovely bright morning for a bit of hooky.

I’m experimenting with this word hooky; it does have overtones of dodgyness to my sweet innocent mind. Hooky though seems to be what the happening crochet kids on the block are saying, so if I wanna be kool I’ll give it a whirl…

The plan was to make wristwarmers now I’ve got the yarnalicious stash, but then I began wondering if I really, really wanted to wear rainbow coloured wristwarmers when I’ve got around four pairs of gloves already.

Let’s get Crafting magazine did a twitter poll the other day asking their “Question of the Week: do you still buy #knitted & #crocheted garments from shops or do you prefer to make everything yourself? #craft

…and my reply was:  “I’m not that talented and actually some machine made knitted items look far better than handmade. #honestopinion” and that really is how I feel about lots of home-made do-dahs.

Controversial?

So, I’ve decided to start a Granny stripe blanket for the little girls I love to be Aunty Rachel to. They apparently like to snuggle under a fleecy blanket sometimes to watch tv, but I think a GS snuggly soft (reliably machine washable I’m told) Stylecraft yarn blanket is the way forward for them. :-D

Deciding which colour comes next is the challenge at the moment. I’ve completed two colour stripes now and do I go purpley again or change to pink? Dark or light? I’m off to ponder one of life’s happier and easier choices.

PS: it’s been flowerarama this week so a pint glass had to suffice for my second bunch of daffs!