Saturday, 19 May 2018

A New Obsession

I've seen lots of people making blankets out of small squares, some call them scrappy blankets whilst others call them memory blankets, essentially they're made from bits of leftover yarn from other projects. I've resisted starting one myself, up to now that is.

Oh my goodness, what trap have I fallen into? I've made just four squares so far but all I want to do now is add to this blanket.

The squares are quite small, just 8cm x 8cm so I know I'll never have enough leftovers to make a blanket but that's where mini skeins come in. I bought a pack of five when I was at Spring Into Wool last month but I know people swap amongst themselves so I shall be up for a bit of that in the future. Each square only takes about 5g of yarn so you don't need a huge amount. They don't look all that neat at the moment but they should even out when more squares are attached.

So far I've used Third Vault Yarns - Dragon Scales, Laughing Yaffle - Mango Tango, one of the minis I bought in a set from Rosie's Moments, and Fondant Fibre - Amazon Orchid.

I suppose it's a good way to use up all the leftovers, but of course, as with most stash busting projects, I'll end up buying more yarn for it.

What do you do with the leftover yarn you have from a project?

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Blooming May

I love this time of year, not least because the lilac blooms right outside my bedroom window and there's no scent I'd rather the breeze carry into my bedroom.

It's not all about lilac though, there's so much more interest in the garden at this time of year.

Geum - Koi. This is a dwarf variety. I also have Mrs J Bradshaw in my garden, though she isn't flowering yet.

Dicentra Spectablilis or Lamprocapnos Spectablils as it's now known. I prefer its more common name of Bleeding Heart.

Welsh Poppy. These pop up all over the place, they're all self sown. I remove most of them but they're pretty so I allow a few to flower.

Chive. The flowers are only just opening up but once they have, they'll be covered in bees, they love them.

Lily of the Valley. These can be a bit of a thug but they tend to behave themselves in my garden.

Dandelion Seedhead. Who can resist these?

Dandelion. Oops, should have removed those seedheads! The grass is covered in dandelions at the moment even though it was only cut a few days ago.

Daisies. There's still room for plenty of daisies though.

Aquilegia - I bought this one but I also have lots of self-seeded ones.

Saxifraga - Peter Pan. I bought this from the plant shop at RHS Harlow Carr a few years ago to give some extra colour in spring, it certainly does as I'd hoped.

Welsh Poppy Bud. They're so tactile.

Do you have a favourite?

Sunday, 13 May 2018

I Said I Wouldn't...

...but I couldn't resist buying more yarn when I saw what Tamiwicolors had on offer.

I've been under the weather this last week. I started last weekend with a sore chest and I thought uh-oh, this is usually the sign that something else is going to develop and sure enough, I've now got a full blown cold and a hacking cough. I shouldn't complain really as I'm not ill very often but I don't make a very good patient when I am.

So, when I stumbled upon Tamiwi's Etsy shop on Monday, feeling very sorry for myself, my defences were down and resistance was futile, I ended up popping three skeins into my online basket. I know, I know, it was only a couple of weeks ago that I was saying I had to use up some of my stash before I bought any more, but I needed cheering up, and cheered up I was when there was a knock on the door yesterday morning and I saw what the postman had delivered.

How quick was that? I only placed the order on Monday evening from an online shop which is based in Germany and it was delivered on Saturday morning.

I'm so happy with all three of my choices, Yellow Primrose, Beth is the pink one and the green one doesn't have a name. These photos don't show them at their best but if you take a look at the online shop, the colours show up much better there.

I went for the Strong Sock range, 75% superwash merino wool and 25% nylon. I don't think it's quite as soft as some other yarn I've bought in the past, it's a little more woolly if you know what I mean, but I'm very happy with it and it was a fantastic price for hand dyed yarn. Tamiwi does sell a Soft Sock base which, I presume, is softer than the Strong Sock and it's still a very good price if that's what you're after.

Attached to Tamiwi's business card was a cute little owl progress keeper which I'll put to good use and a little packet of Haribos was also included in the parcel.

I'm still feeling very ropey today so I shall dose myself up, squish my gorgeous new yarn, and I'm sure I'll feel much better.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Keeping A Journal

I started using this A4 size notebook as a journal back in 2006. I've never been very good at keeping up with diaries, starting out with good intentions to write an entry every day, but I've come to accept that there'll be periods where I'll write something every day for a week and then there'll be a lapse of a few weeks.

I included Keep a journal at number 1 on my 50 Before 50 list hoping that I'd be able to increase the number of entries to a few each week, and though I'm still not quite there, I definitely am writing in it much more frequently.

My blog is a diary of sorts, I like to write about the things I've done or the places I've been, however, I find that I write more personal things about my feelings, fears and anxieties in my journal and it definitely helps me to work through them.

Do you remember my Dear Mum post about the book which Eleanor bought me for Christmas 2013? Dear Mum from you to me - journal of a lifetime.

The idea is that I fill the book in and then pass it back to Eleanor so that she'll have lots of information about my life, my memories and my thoughts.

I've already completed some of the book but I'm making an effort with the rest of it now. There's questions on each page and photos can also be added along the way.

I wish I'd done the same with my mum, it's only when memories begin to fade that you realise they can never be recaptured. Not only would it be a nice thing to have myself but it might have helped my mum to remember some of the things she can no longer recall.

The best thing about keeping a journal for me is being able to read back through the entries years later. I find it really interesting looking back on my hopes and fears from that time and seeing how things have changed, or not as the case may be.

Monday, 7 May 2018

The Son-In-Law

I've read and enjoyed books by Charity Norman before but The Son-In-Law had me hooked even before I'd started the first chapter with the transcript of a 999 call to the ambulance service by ten year old Scarlett.

Joseph Scott has killed the wife he loved, and their three children, Scarlett, Theo and Ben, have witnessed it. The story begins as Joseph is released from prison after serving his sentence and his in-laws, Hannah and Frederick, have been bringing up the children.

One would think that the story is about domestic violence but it soon becomes clear that it's more complex when the full events of the fateful night begin to unravel. The book is written from three different angles, Joseph's story, Hannah's story and Scarlett's story with each of them having a different perspective on what's happened.

I liked how the author allowed the story to develop naturally and unfold bit by bit. Certain details made for uncomfortable reading and really made me question what my feelings were towards particular characters, and they weren't all favourable.

I would definitely recommend The Son-In-Law, I've enjoyed every book of Charity Norman's that I've read so far, so much so that I've just downloaded another by this author onto my Kindle.

Friday, 4 May 2018

Rip It Up And Start Again

This is all that's left of my Spice Of Life blanket.

I started it back in September 2015 when Sandra from Cherry Heart was running a crochet along and I wrote about it in my Spice Of Life Crochet Along post. Well, as you can imagine the crochet along finished a very long time ago but I lost my mojo with this blanket. I really didn't know whether to force myself to finish it or pull it all out and use the yarn for something else and I asked my readers' opinions in my Stitch Or Ditch? post. You can see how far I got with the blanket in that post too. I got a lot of encouragement to continue with the project and I did, in fact, pick it up and add some more to the blanket but by then it was just too late, I was completely out of love with it and the enjoyment of working on it had been lost. I pulled the lot out.

I'd been running short of yarn for the blanket so I'd bought a few more balls, so I've got five full balls as well as the yarn that's been rewound.

There's also this bag of odds and ends which were left over, and I've just noticed that there's another full ball of the light green in there too.

The yarn is Rico Baby Classic DK, a 50% acrylic 50% polyamide mix, and it's lovely and soft so I definitely intend to do something with it. I think all the odds and ends cry out granny square blanket so I think that's what it will probably become.

Watch this space.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Edward VII And Ashmead's Kernel

I've never managed to grow a tree from a seed or a pip before, well, except for the conker that I planted in the rockery right outside the dining room window when I was a child. It actually sprouted and started to grow but my mum ousted it as soon as she realised, not wanting a huge horse chestnut tree growing in that position. I decided that for a bit of fun I'd put Grow a tree from a pip on my 50 Before 50 list and you can see it at number 49.

I went to the Apple Day at Lotherton in September and brought a few less common varieties home with me so I thought I'd have a go at using the pips from them to grow a new tree.  In autumn, I planted some pips from the Edward VII and Ashmead's Kernel varieties. Apple tree seeds need to undergo a period of stratification, a chilling period, in order to germinate so I left them in the cold greenhouse over winter in order for them to stratify in the soil during the cold temperatures.

It worked. I have two Edward VII and one Ashmead's Kernel seedlings.

They've now been pricked out and are tucked up in their own pots in order to grow on.

Edward VII is a dual purpose apple, it can be used in cooking or eaten raw. It was first recorded in 1902, the year of the king's coronation, hence the name it was given. Ashmead's Kernel is an even older variety dating back to the 1700s. It's supposed to have a unique pear drop flavour but we didn't detect it when we gave it the taste test.

I wonder how long it will take for these little seedlings to go on and produce fruit.

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Harry Potter

I started reading the Harry Potter books to Daniel when he was young but we only got as far as the fourth book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, before he decided that he wanted to read the books himself. I never read the rest of the books. It was a similar story with the films, I got so far with them but because I hadn't read all the books, I never bothered with the later films. I decided that I'd rectify this so I put Read all the Harry Potter books at number 32 on my 50 Before 50 list and Watch all the Harry Potter films at number 33.

I started reading the books again right from the beginning and the same with the films. I usually try to read a book before seeing a film but I didn't in this case, I finished watching all the films quite early in the challenge and I really enjoyed them.

You can see from the above photo that the earlier books are much shorter than the later ones, I've read them over a period of time and have just finished them. There were some things in the films which I didn't quite understand but the books answered the questions I had. I often find that a film skates over an important issue whereas a book provides greater attention to detail.

I really enjoyed the story as a whole but I have some favourite books. I love Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone as this is where it all began. I really enjoyed being introduced to the characters and getting a feel for how the story would progress. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is another favourite. I enjoyed the Triwizard Tournament and found this a really exciting story. I also enjoyed Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows because this is the book where everything is explained.

Have you read Harry Potter or seen the films? Which ones are your favourites?

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

A Tour Of My Craft Room

I've been meaning to write this post since last summer when we decorated what was Daniel and Eleanor's toy room.

We had a two storey extension built on the side of the house when the children were small. Upstairs, Eleanor's bedroom was extended from a box room into a decent sized space, she now has a double bed in there along with fitted wardrobes, and downstairs the kitchen was made bigger, and a new room was created. The new room isn't huge, it's long and narrow, but we made it into a toy room, somewhere to store the many toys that Daniel and Eleanor had, and occasionally they'd play in there too. As they got older, Eleanor would use this room to mess about on her musical instruments and practice her singing and eventually the room became a bit of a dumping ground, a place where we started hoarding things. It got out of hand and we decided to have a massive clear out, most of the things we were storing in the room were of no use to us so they were either passed on to someone who could make use of them or sold on Ebay. We made a bit of money which will come in handy, but the best thing about sorting everything out is that the room has now been made into my very own craft room.

The desk is an old computer desk. It had a bit of ink staining on the top of it so I bought a piece of PVC from Dunelm to lay on top. I think the button design is perfect for a craft room.

Daniel bought me the lamp as one of my Christmas presents and it's brilliant. It gives out different types of light depending on what you're doing and has different brightness settings too.

Once I start using my new sewing machine it can sit on the desk and I won't have to put it away after each use.

To the side of the desk is one of my dining room chairs, we have six but only have four set around the table so it gives me somewhere to keep one of them if I use one in my craft room. On the back of the chair is the lovely bed runner which my lovely friend, Susan, from Granny Smith's Quilting, made for me. She brought it all the way from Australia and you can read all about it in A Beautiful Quilt post. I like to keep it here where it can be seen and enjoyed.

There's a couple of shelves above my desk which hold knick knacks, notebooks, a candle, a little tray where I pop all manner of things, and Paula Pig who you can read about in my Itty Bitty Craft Projects post.

The main shelves were here when the room was a toy room, they stretch the whole width between the walls and they were so handy for storing Daniel and Eleanor's toys, but now they're perfect for all my craft items.

I've bought quite a few storage boxes in different shapes and designs, I think they look more attractive than having lots of craft items piled up, and it makes it easier to find what I'm looking for.

To the left on the top shelf is a big box of Stylecraft Special DK in an assortment of colours. The pink plastic box contains oddments of acrylic yarn. The box on the right hand side contains lots of papercraft items.

On the middle shelf is Eleanor's sewing machine, two needlework boxes, the largest of the two is Eleanor's, the smaller one is mine. The pink spotty box contains a few fat quarters and some bits of material ready for when I start on my sewing adventure, the box underneath it stores knitting patters and the one underneath that holds bits and bobs for cross stitch. The large plastic box contains more Stylecraft Special DK, this time in autumnal colours. I was going to start on an autumnal blanket but still haven't got round to that. At the end of this shelf are some of my craft books and magazines. I've got more which were put in the loft when we were decorating and I still haven't got them back down yet.

To the left of the bottom shelf are an assortment of tins containing buttons, needles, ribbons, all sorts of things really. There's also my weighing scales there and my yarn winder. There's a couple of needle felting kits, one is mine which I haven't had a go at yet, the other is Eleanor's. Would you like to see what she made?

On the right hand side of the shelf is a box containing all my indie dyed yarn. It's full to the brim.

The next box along is full to overflowing with commercial yarn.

The pink box is full of both types of yarn which won't fit in the other two boxes.

The wicker basket sitting on top of the boxes held an assortment of gifts which Daniel's girlfriend bought me for Christmas. It now holds the beginnings of my mini skein collection. I've decided that I'm going to make a scrappy blanket. In theory, these blankets are made out of oddments of sock yarn left over from knitting socks, but you'd have to knit a hell of a lot of socks to get enough leftover yarn to make a blanket of a reasonable size so I think mini skeins are the way to go.

You'll see quite a few little suitcases dotted here and there. These hold my scraps of sock yarn, both commercial and indie dyed, though I do keep each type separate. There's quite a lot left over from some projects and not quite so much from others. These will be knitted up into my scrappy blanket.

There's also room on the floor underneath the shelves where I can store things.

On the bottom shelf are baskets and tubs holding the larger projects I've got on the go, including my Spice of Life blanket, a granny stripe blanket and my Joyful World cross stitch. There's also a cross stitch frame, toy stuffing and a brown paper bag which holds the things I've just bought ready to have a go at dyeing my own yarn.

In the corner is my flower press, a jar holding lots of teeny tiny colourful pom poms and my collection of old knitting needles which were passed down from my mum and grandma. I've got lots of different sizes and makes but the pouches to the side hold all my more up to date needles and crochet hooks, and you can also see the interchangeable set that Mick bought me for Christmas.

There's a little hook on shelf here where I keep the project bags I'm not currently using along with my sock blockers.

On the floor, underneath this shelf, is my guillotine, my still boxed sewing machine, blocking mats and my swift.

Would you like to see who's at the other end of the room?

Anyone who has a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel will know that you can't go anywhere without them following, they don't like to be left on their own, even for five minutes. The last time I was able to go to the toilet alone was back in 2010. Needless to say, Archie has a bed in this room where he can settle down whilst I'm crafting away.

He's looking a little bedraggled at the moment but he's going for a haircut on Monday so he should look his usual handsome self again then.

I'd like to get some sort of bookshelf to go between my desk and Archie's bed, as you can see, there's plenty of room for one.

On the wall are two prints of original embroideries by Amy Butcher. I bought them at Spring Into Wool last year.

So there you have it, my own little crafty space. I think the best thing about it at the moment is having everything organised but it will come into its own once I start sewing as I won't have to put the machine away each time I use it.

And yes, looking at these photos it does make me realise how much yarn I've got. I really need to make a concerted effort to use some up before I buy more. Having said that, I've just had a delivery from Wool Warehouse. Oh dear, where's it all going to go?

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Simply Knitting

Number 16 on my 50 Before 50 list is Subscribe to a magazine. I used to subscribe to many gardening magazines when I had my allotment but they all became a bit 'samey' and each month's publication in one particular year was very similar to the same month in other years.

I've read Simply Knitting magazine in the past and have enjoyed it so I thought I'd subscribe to this, however, the first issue of my subscription came with an accessories pamphlet and the first page I opened shows a pattern for Spring Green.

I knit this hat three years ago when it was featured in issue 128 of Simply Knitting magazine with Winter Green as its name. I haven't checked the pattern but it's got exactly the same photo, and it's also listed on Ravelry as Winter Green, so I expect it's the very same.

I just hope that I don't come across any more regurgitated patterns.

My 50th birthday is less than five months away now so I need a final push with the list, there's still lots of things to tick off and I don't expect that I'll fully complete it but it would be nice to tick off as many things as I can.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Spring Has Sprung

Spring is here. After what seems like months of cold, wet and dull weather, that great yellow thing was seen in the sky yesterday and it finally warmed up. Mick got in from work early so we went to Lotherton for a walk before tea and it was actually warm enough to leave our coats behind and wear T-shirts.

I'm sure the spring flowers must have been blooming for a while now, but I don't think you notice them as much until they're bathed in sunshine. Here are just a few things we saw on our walk.

The trees at Lotherton are full of blossom though the same can't be said for my trees at home, there isn't a single flower on any of them yet, I do hope they haven't missed the boat for this year. The wild garlic is ready to bloom, every year I say that I will try doing something with the leaves but I still haven't given it a go. Procrastination in my middle name. They do say that wild garlic pesto is delicious. Though we've seen frogs in our little pond at home, we don't have any frogspawn this year and there's none in the pond at Lotherton either, there were lots of goldfish basking close to the top though. The magnolia stellata looked glorious against the blue sky. There's still patches of mud around which, of course, Archie heads straight for, though it was something far more unmentionable that he rolled in yesterday which resulted in him having a bath when we got home.

And what happens as soon as the sun puts in an appearance, why, so does the ice-cream man.

Today has got off to a good start again, it looks as though another beautiful day is on the cards.