Friday, 8 December 2017

The Great Christmas Knit Off

I included The Great Christmas Knit Off by Alexandra Brown in my #stitchingsanta parcel last year which I sent to Kim at The Material Lady blog. Kim emailed me to let me know that she'd read and enjoyed it over the Christmas period and asked if I'd like her to post it back to me so that I could read it too. How kind and thoughtful of her. Unfortunately, I didn't get round to reading it last year as my book time was cut short as I was ill myself leading up to the festive period and then my dad ended up in hospital so I kept it to read in the run up to Christmas this year.

I really enjoyed this book, there wasn't much substance to it, you certainly didn't have to think much, but it was just what I needed to come home to when my mum was in hospital. I don't think my brain would have coped with much more. It's a touching, feel good story with lovely characters which is perfect for reading during the festive season and having knitting as a theme appealed to me too.

Incidentally, my mum is now home from hospital and much better in herself, though a district nurse is visiting daily as she developed a DVT in her leg whilst in hospital so she'll need a daily injection for at least the next twelve weeks.

It would be a shame to just send this book off to the charity shop so I've decided to add it to this years #stitchingsanta parcel. I hope my partner enjoys it as much as Kim and I have.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Dragon Scales Shawl

Now that I've finished all my Christmas knitting, I can concentrate on other things. First of all, I thought I'd better get the Dragon Scales Shawl, which I started back in July, finished.

The pattern is the Oaklet Shawl by Megan Goodacre, a free pattern on Ravelry, and it's a simple design with a little extra decoration for the border.

I used yarn which I'd purchased at Spring Into Wool earlier this year, it's the Dragon Scales colourway by Third Vault Yarns in their Companion 4ply base, a 100% Superwash Merino. These photos don't do the yarn justice, it's a beautiful mix of greens, greys, blues and purples and it's iridescent so the colours seem to change when you look at it from different angles. The shawl's lovely and drapey.

This photo shows the size a little better, it's not a huge shawl being knit from just one skein but it blocks out to a decent size to wrap well around the neck. Just what I need now that the weather's turned much cooler.

Next project - Christmas socks for me. Well, it's only fair. I've knit socks for the rest of my family which they'll open up on Christmas Day so I'd like a pair to wear myself. I just hope I get them finished in time.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Yorkshire Dales Socks

Phew, I'm finally done with the Christmas knitting, this is the very last pair of socks off the needles. These socks are for Mick.

Yet again, I've used the Vanilla Latte Socks pattern by Virginia Rose-Jeanes, a free pattern on Ravelry. I think this is a super pattern when knitting socks as a gift as the rib pattern has a bit extra give in it than a plain stocking stitch sock does, so it tends to grip the foot a little better and doesn't have to be such a precise fit, just what you want when you're not trying the socks on feet as you knit them.

The socks are knit in Knitglobal Sock Yarn in the Dale colourway which I purchased at Yarndale this year. Yarndale is held in Skipton right on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, so I've decided to call these Yorkshire Dales Socks. Besides, the Yorkshire Dales is my very favourite place.

I've enjoyed my Christmas knitting this year. I started early enough so that it didn't become a chore and I've managed to finish in good time. Now for some selfish knitting for me!

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Raindrops On Roses - November

These are a few of my favourite things.

Candles. As most of you know, I'm not a fan of the winter months, the cold days and the dark nights, but I do get the opportunity at this time of year to use my candles more. I'm a big fan of Yankee Candles and always have lots of different scents ready to burn. This one is Tropical Fruit but the Citrus Water I've also got at the moment is very nice too.

Sunny days and blue skies. I appreciate the sunshine more at this time of year when every drop is precious, after all, who knows when the weather will change for the worse. I find that a sunny day lifts my mood and makes me altogether happier, I just can't stand the endless rain and gloomy days of winter. I try to get out when the sun shines and make the most of these last drops of good weather.

Happy texts. As I've mentioned before on my blog, Eleanor has found her university work very challenging since starting back for her second year. My most favourite thing this month was receiving a text from her telling me that the first piece of work she'd handed in, which she was sure she was going to fail, had received a first. The following few days I received another two texts, one telling me that she'd got a 2:1 for another piece of work and then another first for a presentation she'd done. She's obviously doing much better than she thought, it seems the hard work is paying off. I'm hoping that these results will give her a little more confidence in her abilities.

Hand knit socks. I show lots of socks that I've knit on my blog, but when it gets to this time of year, I'm so thankful for them. I've always worn socks during the winter months but I rarely wear any other than hand knit nowadays. They're so warm and cosy and I find that if my feet are warm, then the rest of me is warm too.

Toasted teacakes. My mum's back in hospital again, she was taken in ten days ago and all the visiting is playing havoc with our evening meal time. We get off to the hospital as soon as Mick gets in from work and we're usually there until visiting time ends at 8pm. By the time we get home and get sorted, it's going on for 9pm and I'm past eating a meal at that time. A toasted teacake does just nicely though, slathered in butter, it's the perfect comfort food.

What favourites do you have this month? How about joining me and writing a post about them?

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Dobby Socks

It was as soon as Daniel started university that he started wearing odd socks. For some reason it really annoys me, I mean, how long does it take to sort a few socks into pairs? On the odd occasion that he came home for a weekend, he would bring his washing with him and I'd, once again, sort all the socks into pairs, but the next time I saw him he'd be back to wearing odd socks.

When it came to knitting his Christmas socks I decided that I might as well just play along with him so I've knit one sock with blue heels and toes and one with green heels and toes. Perhaps he'll wear them more than he would if they match.

I've used Virginia Rose-Jeanes' Vanilla Latte Socks pattern which is free on Ravelry. The main body of the sock is knit in West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 ply in the Poppy Seed colourway and the heels and toes have been knit in Cascade Heritage Sock Yarn in the Sage and China Blue colourways. Dobby, the house elf in the Harry Potter books likes wearing odd socks too so I've decided to call these Daniel's Dobby Socks.

They look a bit odd in the photo above as they're bigger than the sock blockers they're shown on, but they should fit Daniel's feet perfectly.

I'm now very close to finishing my Christmas knitting.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Stitch Or Ditch?

It's quite some time now since I worked on my Spice Of Life crochet blanket which I started when the Spice Of Life Crochet Along was running back in 2015. I put Finish the Spice Of Life crochet blanket at number 44 on my 50 Before 50 list to encourage me to start work on it again, but having got the project out of hibernation and taking a look at it again, I'm not sure whether to carry on with it or pull the whole lot out. Stitch or ditch?

I loved this blanket when I first started it, however, as it's made up of lots of different stitches, it's quite easy for the tension to vary and this is exactly what happened with my blanket. I ended up having to Start All Over Again, and I think it was at this point where I fell out of love with the project. Having wasted quite a bit of yarn in my first attempt, I found I had to buy extra as I was running short of some colours, so there's still quite a few full balls of yarn left waiting to be added in. Stitch or ditch?

It's knit in Rico Baby Classic DK, a 50% acrylic 50% polyamide mix which is extremely soft and also easy to care for, so it would be a shame to waste the yarn, but what to do, stitch or ditch?

After my first disastrous attempt with the blanket, I learnt my lesson and decided not to sew in the ends as I went along, it made it impossible to pull out and so much yarn ended up being wasted. If I do finish the blanket I'll have all these ends to sew in when I'm finished, however, if I decide not to carry on, it will make it easier to unravel. Stitch or ditch?

When laid out, it does look pretty with all the different stitches, and it's really soft and snuggly too. I'm not sure if this is enough to make me want to carry on with it though. Stitch or ditch?

I don't think there's very much left to crochet in order to complete the blanket. On the other hand, I could pull the whole lot out and start a different blanket project with the same yarn. What would you do, stitch or ditch?

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Nottingham Yarn Expo 2017

Another new yarn festival has popped up, this time in Nottingham. As it was being held at Nottingham Trent University, where Eleanor's studying, I'd already decided that I'd like to attend it so imagine how thrilled I was to win tickets on Katie's Inside Number 23 podcast. Thank you, Katie, not having to pay for entry meant I had a little extra to spend on yarn at the show.

To say that this is the first time that this yarn festival has been held, it attracted lots of wonderful yarn dyers, there were lots of stalls and plenty of choice. The booths were spread out over two floors and in separate areas so there wasn't any jostling and it made for a happy, relaxed atmosphere whilst yarn shopping.

I didn't take any photos of the actual show but I'm sure you'd like to see what came home with me.

I've been after this year's West Yorkshire Spinners Christmas colourway, Candy Cane and I picked up a ball of the Cayenne Pepper colourway to go with it, this will make coordinating heels and toes in the socks I'm planning to knit. I couldn't resist the Van Gogh Starry Night colourway in Joanna Wood Paint yarn. I haven't heard of this dyer before but the yarn really does resemble Van Gogh's painting and I'm looking forward to seeing how it knits up. I'd already decided that some Norah George yarn would be coming to live with me before I'd even got to the show. I haven't used this yarn before but everyone raves about it and I can see why, I actually wish I'd picked up an extra skein now but I do love The Room of Requirement colourway which I chose, a Harry Potter reference. I've heard Beehive Yarns mentioned here and there just lately so I was looking forward to perusing their stand and I chose a skein of the Navajo Trail colourway to buy. Unfortunately, I didn't read the label carefully enough and have now discovered that this is on a 100% merino singles base. This won't be suitable to knit socks with but I'm sure I'll find something else to knit with it, and it will be interesting to use as I've never knit with a single ply yarn before.

I also picked up these cute stitch markers from Thimble and Thread Make. I like the umbrella but it was Big Ben which made me reach for my purse.

Of course, I couldn't go to Nottingham without visiting Eleanor. I think she was pleased to see us as she's been struggling a little with her course since starting her second year at uni. This is where the hard work starts and it's taking its toll. She's a hard worker though so I know she'll be putting plenty of time in so I just hope that it pays off.

Squishing yarn and hugs from my daughter made for a lovely day out and as Visit a craft show is number 47 on my 50 Before 50 list, it's another one to cross off.

Friday, 10 November 2017

A Gift To Me From Me

I've been wanting to have a go at sewing on a sewing machine for a long time now. I've kept saying that I'll have a go on Eleanor's machine but I still haven't got round to it so when I saw an offer on a basic model I decided to grab the bull by the horns and treat myself. Perhaps having my own sewing machine will spur me on.

It doesn't do anything fancy but I think it will be good enough for me to learn on and I won't be nervous about breaking Eleanor's machine.

What with all the worry over my mum over the past couple of weeks, it's still sitting in its box but I'm raring to have a go with it. I had a few lessons at school where I used a sewing machine but I can't remember a thing from those lessons now, I don't even know how to thread the thing so I'm going to be starting from scratch, but there's plenty of tutorials online, I've got a few books, and Eleanor will be able to help me once she's home from university.

I've got a very healthy yarn stash but nothing in the way of fabric so I think I'm going to have to make a few purchases.

Treat myself to something I really want is on my 50 Before 50 list so this little gift to myself fits the bill and I can cross off number 42.

Thank you for all your good wishes for my mum. Unfortunately, she ended up having to spend her 83rd birthday on Tuesday in hospital but she was allowed home on Wednesday. She's still very poorly having lots of ailments now, and she'll never be well again but I'm sure she'll be happier and comfier in her own home where we can spoil her and give her lots of love.

Monday, 6 November 2017

See You In September

See You In September by Charity Norman is one of those books which I couldn't put down.

When Cassie waved goodbye to her parents at the airport telling them 'See you in September', little did they know it would be years before they'd see her again.

She was on her way to New Zealand with her boyfriend, but after the pair split up, Cassie hitchhikes a lift with strangers who persuade her to stay with them amongst a farming community. It isn't long before Cassie is swept up in the atmosphere of the place as well as the charisma of their leader, Justin.

Cut off from her family, her frantic parents fight to bring her home before Justin's prophesied Last Day arrives.

I'd thoroughly recommend this book, I enjoyed it from start to finish, a real page turner.

If you want to know what else I've been reading lately, you can find a list in the sidebar. This shows all the books I've read this year and there's also lists of the books I've read right back to 2012.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Tequila Sunrise Socks

Yes, another pair of socks. I might just manage to get a pair of hand knitted socks on all my family's feet this Christmas. This latest pair are for my mum and as they're knit in West Yorkshire Spinner's Signature 4 ply in the Tequila Sunrise colourway, I've unimaginatively named them Tequila Sunrise Socks.

Once again, I used the Vanilla Latte Socks pattern by Virginia Rose-Jeanes which is free on Ravelry. I knit a 1x1 rib and put in an Eye of Partridge heel. I didn't think the stripes were matching up, but they're almost perfect.

I'm very happy with them.

My poor mum is back in hospital again, she was rushed in by ambulance on Tuesday morning as she was having trouble breathing and her oxygen levels were very low. I'm not sure how long she'll be in for so it's back to hospital visiting for us, so please bear with me if I'm not around as much as usual.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Spooky Goings On

There's something spooky happening at Lotherton Hall.

The Scarecrow Trail is back with clues around the house and estate leading to the super spooky scarecrows.

We didn't follow any clues and we didn't go in the house but we still managed to see lots of scary scarecrows.

I think this diver near the pond must have been here for some time.

A howling black dog was stalking the pet cemetery.

There must have been some apples left in the orchard after the recent Apple Day as this scarecrow has filled his trug.

There were skeletons in the woods.

There were giant spiders on the house.

The gardeners had turned into scarecrows.

One gardener was headless.

There were ghouls in the trees.

Even some of the visitors had turned into scarecrows.

A sign on the stable.

That doesn't look like a horse to me.

Skeletons trying to get into the house.

I'm not sure what these three were up to but there was a lot of spooky sounds coming from the temple.

Lotherton's Spooky Scarecrow Trail runs until the 5th of November.

Happy Halloween.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Christmas Reading

I had loads of Christmas themed books lined up to read last year and then disaster struck, as well as being poorly myself for most of December, my dad was taken into hospital and was seriously ill. Luckily, he made a good recovery, though it hadn't been expected. It's no surprise then that I didn't get half the books read that I thought I would. I decided that instead of reading them into January, I'd hold onto them ready for this year.

There's more Christmas themed books waiting for me on my Kindle as well as these four paperbacks so I've decided to start early this year and begin reading them in November. I just hope that all goes to plan this year.

Nothing like getting in the Christmas spirit early.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Raindrops On Roses - October

These are a few of my favourite things.

Catching up with friends. I used to see some of my friends all the time when our children were little. I live just around the corner from the primary school which our children went to so it was really easy for friends to pop in for a coffee just after dropping off time or else they'd call in for a coffee an hour before they were due to pick up their little ones. Once the kids went to secondary school, I saw these friends less as it was a case of arranging a time to meet up, it was less convenient than just popping in for a coffee on the way home from school. We have lots of news to catch up on when we do meet up so we usually arrange to meet in a cafe and spend a couple of hours hearing what's happening in each other's lives. I had one such meet up this month, a new garden centre opened very close to where I live last year and it's got a lovely cafe so we arranged to meet there and we spent a lovely couple of hours putting the world to rights.

Autumn colours. I can't say I'm a huge fan of autumn, I'm definitely a summer girl so it's with a heavy heart that I admit to my favourite season ending and the arrival of the cooler weather. One thing I do love about autumn though is the colour pallette. We're now at the time, just before the trees lose all their leaves, when there's an array of yellows, oranges, reds, pinks and purples brightening up the parks and the trees put on a fantastic display.

October television. As soon as the darker evenings descend, we're treated to new series of old favourites on TV and some new goodies too. I'm pleased that Strictly Come Dancing is back on our screens, though I don't know many of the celebrities, I'm still enjoying watching. The second series of Victoria was just as good as the first. Liar has had it's fair share of coverage in the media, and though I did enjoy it, I found I enjoyed Rellik, over on the BBC, more. This thriller was told in reverse, apparently showing us the killer at the beginning of the series, but as each episode unfolded backwards, there were twist and turns aplenty. Even the title of this programme was in reverse. Cold Feet, ahhhh, I loved this series in the 90's and I think the revived series works just as well.

Shopping with Eleanor. A lovely day was spent with Eleanor in Nottingham, and though we were shopping, which is definitely not my favourite thing, we had a lovely time. I'm not a particularly girly girl so I could never imagine myself with a daughter, especially after having Daniel. How lovely it is though to spend time with my gorgeous girl.

The Body Shop soap. I'm not a lover of scented soap really, not only do I have sensitive skin but I have many allergies too and lots of things make me sneeze. I do love soap from The Body Shop though, I've used their products for many years. I tend to go for the citrusy scents, pink grapefruit and satsuma are favourites, but I like the tropical fruity scents too, I'm using a mango scented soap in the bathroom at the moment. One complaint is that they no longer do the lemon soap which used to be my absolute favourite, and I liked the apple one which they no longer do either. I wish they'd bring them back.

What favourites do you have this month? How about joining me and writing a post about them?