What about you?
I started a ripple on Monday night but had to order some yarn before I could continue. Luckily I already had two of the greys I wanted to use as they’re the same I’m using for my other blanket, so at least I could make a start. I actually haven’t touched a hook for weeks; a combination of a sore elbow (acupuncture is really helping) and just wanting a break. It was a refreshing break, but I was absolutely raring to go once my plan was approved at the weekend. I’ve offered a crocheted blanket birthday pressie to a special someone as I’ve had her kind of colours in mind for ages, and fancied crocheting another ripple. I’m a little surprised I’m so keen as I became quite bored by the end of The Rhubarb Ripple. My offer was immediately taken up and so I’ve been happily zipping along the rows today. The motif blanket will wait for a while. This is easier crochet; it’s fast to add new colours and decide which next. I tend to need my leg up to join as you go (do you?! Is this just me?!) so it makes it sofa crochet, not al fresco crochet so much.
Hurrah! My new yarn came this morning! I could hear the rustle of the sack arriving from my spot (reading in the bath, hard work these summer hols.) Deramores have been undercut by Wool Warehouse on Stylecraft Special DK by 30p a ball at the moment. I have to say that as both offer speedy service and free p&p when you spend £25 it wasn’t a tricky decision to use WW for this order. 30p less for a ball is 30p saved. Or, spent on more yarn…
The bright pink was always going to be a gamble without actually seeing a ball. It’s not quite right is it? It jars with the scrummy raspberry, the sharp lime green (new colour) and the delicious graphic, silver and grey. The darker shades are midnight blue and emperor
penguin purple. Someone suggested I use the bright pink to embroider “Get off, this is Mummy’s!” Ha! I must tell her this when I give the blanket.
My charity shop find basket is perfect for al fresco crochet. It’s very good at standing to attention with the yarn ball in use rolling around on top. I need a yarn bowl really, but it does the job of keeping it off the grass. Can you see I replaced the bag’s sequins? I preferred the scuffed brown originals really I realise, now it’s done. Too late!
What are you crocheting or making? Or are you having a crafty break?
This is maybe a bit of a syrupy sweet title but it nicely describes my Summer days at the moment.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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…
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.
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?
I’ve wanted to visit Sissinghurst for a long time. I’ve come across Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson many times when reading books concerning English social history in the last century, but their garden is also famous of course. I loved my visit.
“Vita Sackville-West, the poet and writer, began the transforming Sissinghurst Castle in the 1930s with her diplomat and author husband, Harold Nicolson. Harold’s architectural planning of the garden rooms, and the colourful, abundant planting in the gardens by Vita, reflect the romance and intimacy of her poems and writings.
Sissinghurst Castle was the backdrop for a diverse history; from the astonishing time as a prison in the 1700s, to being a home to the women’s land army. It was also a family home to some fascinating people who lived here or came to stay. Today you can take in the ruined architecture of the extensive original buildings, vast panoramic views from the top of the Tower, the current working farm and the 450-acre wider estate along with Vita and Harold’s gardens.” Taken from the National Trust website.
I really like looking at vegetable gardens on this scale. Just look at those lettuces! Those at Hidcote (not included in the blog post, but you might want to look at more photos from another glorious English garden) were well worth seeing too. I had serious vegetable envy that day too!
Vita favoured planting in abundance; she didn’t wish to see any soil, so the beds were filled to bursting with plants. It would be amazing to be able to fly back in time to see the garden in its heyday.
Apart from the gorgeous garden and grounds it was envy inspiring to see Vita’s writing room in the tower. A room of your own up in a tower – wow!
It’s hard to capture the beauty of the white garden properly. It’s one of most striking areas of the gardens.
Which garden to visit next? Decisions, decisions!
One of the nicest things about coming back from a holiday is seeing how much the plants in the garden have grown. There are tomatoes all over the vines now. I harvested some new potatoes yesterday and just picked the first ripe cherry tomatoes. Hurrah!
Something’s nibbled a couple of the strawberries, but as I’ve already picked a bowlful I don’t mind. Share and share alike. There are runners coming off the plant so I’m starting new – that’s the reason for the smaller pots around it, there are another two behind. I’ve promised a few new plants to friends and family.
The pumpkin plants (one shown) are both coming on in leaps and bounds. I can see where the flower buds are forming. I’ve never grown any before so this is exciting.
There are lots of tiny peppers on the three plants, but as you see only one decent sized pepper so far. It’s a waiting game at this point…
I’ve been searching for light and healthy recipes, after many holiday treats (and a few too many when I was laid up in June with the spider injury) and have started a board on Pinterest if you fancy sharing them with me, if you’d like to send more my way too that would be fab. Googling 5:2 recipes brings up lots of lovely things – whether you’re doing the ‘fasting’ thing or just aiming to eat lighter food. I’m taken with roasted red pepper & tomato and also courgette & watercress soups. I used to make a roasted red pepper soup and can’t think where I’ve put the recipe.
What are you up to at the moment?
Yeah right…impossible isn’t it?!
There’s a sale on fat quarter packs -they’re half price so this felt like a good buy for £6.50 as the fabric is 100% cotton and has a good thread count. It’s so much easier, and nicer, to sew with good quality fabric. I really wanted a new skein of lime green thread, it’s the colour I’m drawn to at the moment, and the sequins are to spruce up the following.
I discovered great charity shop treasure on Saturday, when browsing my local shops with a friend. I’ve been looking out for a basket, for crochet and knitting storage, in regular shops for ages. I just couldn’t find one which was lined, which would stop any wooly stuff snagging. This is fully lined with an internal drawstring bag which extends the same height again of the basket. The drawstring will keep everything clean and intact during holidays.
I think I’ve seen this bag in M&S in the past. The silicone packet was still inside and the lining was spotless. I doubt it’s been used much. The only issue was scuffed and scratched sequins, which might have happened while it was hanging on a hook, or in a wardrobe. They spoilt the overall look so I snipped them off – a very satisfying task. I was hoping for red, blue or green replacements, but gold will be fine.
The bag was £3.50. The free Clover pom-pom maker (leaflet from Mollie Makes mag) from Hobbycraft cost me £8.39 for the visit! Not an expensive shopping spree really.
Have you found any bargains lately? Claimed your free pom-pom maker?
Wondering if embroidery in hoops displayed on the wall is much cooler than on tea towels? I somehow doubt cool and embroidery are two words that have ever gone together. I don’t really care. I especially enjoy embroidering something which has a practical purpose. I need more tea towels – I’ve got more ideas. The glasses were from one of my Sublime Stitches transfers books, the writing is mine, scruffy and all.
Harvesting strawberries! So yummy and surprisingly the birds haven’t gone for them. The other day a squirrel was spotted in a friend’s garden picking their strawbs, holding them gently in both his paws and nibbling away!
Opening a free copy of Garden Illustrated to my best page first! I’ve said:”Really sheds are so expensive but just think; when you move you just roll this onto the back of a truck and take it with you!” to raised eye brows.
Carrying my blanket yarn in a completely coordinating bag. This was a coincidence but made me smile when I realised. The motifs are now joined in one long strip of about 180cm, this is the length of the blanket. I’m halfway along the second row now. Zippidy do dah.
Reading The Lieutenant by Kate Grenville, only to p.5 so far but it’s going to be a cracker. I read the first of the trilogy The Secret River in Australia one visit.
Not missing resting my injured leg. I’ve washed laundry, hung it out, hand washed my car, washed up, baked 2 loaves of bread, cooked dinner, cleaned walls, hoovered, cleaned the filters, folded laundry and tidied it away, watered all the plants, emptied the bins, cleaned bins, re-potted plants, rearranged outside pots, ironed (the tea towel above ha ha strenuous!) driven – once so far, yesterday, but it was fine with an old lady tubi-grip, food shopped, collected a library book, am walking downstairs nearly normally again. It’s good to be busier again.
How about you, what are you up?
I’ve just unravelled the matador red motifs, apart from those with it in the middle. It’s not going to work. It was always a bold colour choice – to match William Morris’s red flower centres – but any more than a little splash is going to set the teeth on edge, especially with so much peach going into the mix too.
Random fact: the curtains were originally chosen, in fact the whole room was coordinated, around a cream and peach tapestry cushion I made years back. I know this probably isn’t that interesting without pics but I’m still under house arrest. I’m going to try driving tomorrow with a heavy duty support on the peg. See, you get all the highlights during these days of being patient.
I just had the nicest compliment, via the tweet machine this morning, about my last post. It was from Jennifer Reid who is a crochet designer for Inside Crochet and Simply Crochet magazines. You’ll recognise her patterns straight away if you buy those mags and check Ravelry. It’s always a lovely surprise to hear from different people. She’s also a member of the Darning Sisterhood – the leave them to the end club. Anyone else want to join?
Friday night’s been G&T time for a long, long time but nowadays Friday night is cocktail night. This week it was mojitos. Mmmmm. I might do a cocktail post of my faves, with recipes sometime. I keep sorely trying someone’s patience while I photograph them before drinking commences!
Fresh juicy cherries and crochet go well.
My Japanese steel snips are incredibly sharp; I have to take care around these. So much faster than grappling for scissors can be, they slide into a plastic cover when not in use. It’s a good job as even the ends are razor-sharp. They were a gift from a posh shop which sells household goods.
I can’t believe how many half completed motifs I’ve done, already. I edge a diddy little middle with a second round and throw it into the basket I rescued from a friend’s jumble sale bag. One (wo)man’s trash is another (wo)man’s treasure.
It’s nearly time to edge some with the third row and join while crocheting the fourth. I’m looking forward to placing the colours and seeing how the overall effect works. It’s definitely a different sort of palate for me.
….Oh and oh yes…the ends. Well I just read Heather’s thoughts about darning, rather than crocheting over them, and realised she’s a kindred spirit in this respect. I groan about them a bit and resolve to tackle the ends as I go but rarely do; getting absorbed in the act of creating. Select the colour, crochet the round, snip the tail, throw the motif into the basket and onto the next. Usually I darn them listening to an audio book, or semi watching a film and find it a soothing activity in itself. This weekend’s film was one I seem to have missed at the time. I really enjoyed the undemanding, sweet, sometimes funny, little story.
What are you up to at the moment?
Well I never! Zippidy do-dah as in
The J ungle Book Disney’s Song of the South (Never heard of it! Is it one to watch?) is actually spelt Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah! The things you find out when checking spelling. I’m sticking with my version.
I wasn’t planning to write this down, but I actually though I was a bit off crochet. Maybe the huge enthusiasm I’d had for it over the last few years had died down, and that was ok. But it turns out it was because I last bought a big batch of new yarn in Autumn 2012. Waste not want not, I’ve been using up left-overs, plus I’ve gradually been buying sewing materials. But the pleasure in taking off the bands of brand new yarn – 11 brand new balls of yarn! Using virgin yarn which hasn’t been unraveled, or wound into a smaller balls and put in an oddments bag and in new colours too is so enjoyable.
I didn’t choose the colours for this project (apart from substituting the gorgeous new Spice for Jaffa, as I found out Jaffa is Nemo neon orange.) I just left my Stylecraft catalogue and picked it up with all the ticks under the shades, but the combination is pleasing. I particularly like the rich Walnut brown, the teddy bear Mocha, orange Spice and Matador red paired together. These have a rather retro, back to the 70s feel. Sometimes it feels as if brown is an outcast, with the current craze for Cath Kidson reds, pinks, pale greens and blues – I love them too. Brown isn’t a colour I gravate to usually, in yarn or clothes, but this palate is somewhat rich and earthy. It’s to coordinate with curtains of a William Morris design, and I’m really enjoying the new colours. I can’t find the WM design on Google images and didn’t think to photograph the curtains. I will next time I visit.
Why Zippidy-do-dah? Because this is my progress from just two sittings. The first evening I started to crochet I ended up making 44 middles – 4 of each of the 11 colours. I do like the magic loop method. Then before I knew it I’d completed the second round of 22 of them. Last night I completed the second round of all but a few of the other 22. I’m making sure I use all the colours, but also ordered extra balls of camel, cream, silver and parchment so I can make extra motifs with just these to balance out the stronger colours. Matador type red only features a little in the curtain fabric, as the centre of some flowers, so although I’ve discovered I love it and Spice together I must be careful not to overwhelm the blanket.
Did I mention the mmmm smell of a sackful of new yarn? There’s something new car-ish about it. Oh Wool Only purists please don’t shake your heads like that!
Here are the colours listed from left to right, top row first, in case you’re feeling 70′s retro inspired (or have William Morris fabric!)
silver :: grey :: walnut :: copper :: spice :: mocha :: matador
parchment :: cream :: camel :: apricot::
I’m hobbling now, with only a small lurch and can go upstairs slowly one foot at a time, not crawling or one foot, then the other per step. Hurrah! The Goldfinch Audio book has been great company – wow – I listened to 7 hours 43 minutes of it yesterday. Kudos to David Pittu for being about to narrate young and old, male and female voices so convincingly, accents too. It’s 32 hours long so 7:43 is a drop in the ocean. I’m glad because I’m enjoying it so much. AND How to Make an American Quilt is on the way via LoveFilm by post, my last DVD before my membership ends. It’s all looking up.
This morning I read this blog post on one of my favourite blogs. Look at the clarity of those photographs! Doesn’t it make you want to run out into the garden with a packet of seeds? Sew some leaves? Tie something up in twine? Actually my little seedlings have grown like crazy and I need to hobble down to the sweetpeas and tie them gently to the wigwam of poles. They’re getting a little over enthusiastic.
SEWING: Embroidery is the perfect thing to do when you’re not moving around. It’s been ages since I did any and it’s been lovely. The light is so good when I’m sat on the bed upstairs near the window, far better than downstairs actually.
LOVING: I signed up for Netflix and Amazon Prime free trials for a month so I could occupy myself over the weekend. It’s worked well watching things on my ipad. I absolutely loved a film called Sweet Land. If you haven’t seen it – you must. Others I’ve enjoyed seeing again during my film festival: The Lake House, Mamma Mia, The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood. TV: The Inbetweeners, The IT Crowd.
I’m really really tempted to hire How to Make an American Quilt but it’s annoying to pay when it should (by my decree) be available on the above trials.
MARVELLING: That the cravings for chocolate can be satisfied just by leaving a piece of Green & Black Mayan Gold to melt on your tongue. Mmmmm. Rachel’s marvellous medicine.
WAITING: For my leg to heal and feel stronger so I can become my usual active self again. I’m hoping to go for days out over the weekend to catch up on what I’ve missed. Meanwhile this L’Occitane hand cream is helping to lift the spirits as the smell is divine. Whenever I feel down I’ve always used scents and colours to cheer me up. Lavender works well for me, as does wearing red.
MISSING: Walking around and being outside, but I have a lovely breeze coming in through the window and a super view of swaying leaves, blue sky and fluffy white clouds. I moved around a little too much yesterday, as my man servant was working away for the day, so am trying to rest my leg more and use a cold pack regularly today. I think the muscle’s healing well, but it’s slow. Trying not to think of all my missed plans at the weekend and this week. The ironic thing is I had to reschedule my GP appointment for my physio referral for my elbow ….because I couldn’t walk! It’s a little bit funny.
WONDERING: If now is the time to continue embroidering this IKEA cushion? It could be crazy colourful. It’s good practise for my rusty embroidery skills too. If you search this blog you’ll see when I first had the idea and will notice I didn’t get very far with the plan…
OPENING: A big parcel of yarn which arrived as I started to write this post!
CROCHETING: I will be using this lovely lot to crochet a blanket, as requested, for a room in a relative’s house. It has curtains made with a William Morris design and so the colour choices have been picked to coordinate with them. I think they’re going to work well together.
LOOKING: well, the plan was to watch something on my ipad and embroider, then the yarn arrived. Decisions, decisions!
I loved your links and comments, THANK YOU. I need more please! Well, why wouldn’t I ask again when you’re so good at it? *charming smile*
I really fancied doing some more embroidery but thought I’d only do a little Thursday evening so as not to aggravate my elbow. I really enjoyed semi watching, mostly listening, to an episode of Lewis (the psychology student/psychics/elephant tranquilliser one) using stem stitch to sew the letters of my personalised tea towel which is to be a gift.
The arm was indeed a bit iffy Friday but hey ho, it was still a great day. A great week in fact, and generally all is going swimmingly. That is until 11:14 pm when the most ginormous spider hurried across the lounge from under a sofa to behind the TV. There was some wine or beer fuelled discussion along the lines of: “But he’s happy, let him be.” “He’s not leaving cobwebs all over my house.” “Don’t kill him.” “Don’t be ridiculous, you know I never kill them…” All this while I’m tipping a nightlight out of a holder and grabbing a postcard (flower fairies – such a pretty card that I carry it downstairs to recycle then end up propping it on the mantelpiece.) This spider is big and aggressive, he’s sassy and won’t be caught in a tea light holder and trapped by a flower fairy postcard. But we both know who’s going to win…
…in the end after a skirmish behind the TV stand it’s actually neither of us. He gets half trapped under the holder after I execute a niffy half turn when he tries to fox me, and head back to sofa-land, and I feel a muscle at the back of my knee go POP!
OMG THE PAIN.
Actually the spider was ok, no broken legs and I’m sure he enjoyed his flight out of the window to the garden.
Today instead of a super day out nerding with one of my favourite friends I’ve been sat on the bed with an ice pack and haven’t gone downstairs once; as I had to semi crawl upstairs last night and can’t bear the awfulness of needing the littlest room and the slow hurry. It’s best to rest it as much as possible too.
This app is great! Although after quietly downloading it and trying it out with a few good dings, then testing the ring-a-ding-ding function with a good shake Someone marched into the bedroom with a grin and said, “You can get rid of that app for a start.” “But it was my nerdy friend who suggested I get it, to help you know when I need something!”
The bright side is I’ve listened to a little more of The Goldfinch audio book, watched the first ever few episodes of The IT Crowd, the inflating boobies episode of Mrs Brown’s Boys (thank you free catch up TV and ipad magic) and downloaded some interesting looking free Kindle novels. There have also been a few homegrown strawberries, YUM, some cheer up surprises: mini Reeces, ice cold 7Up and as requested; a yummy Greek salad with pitta for lunch. The service is pretty good, the bedside chat could be improved but it’s tricky to provide uplifting banter when an important rugby match is on in the other room.
So, it’s after 5pm and I’m feeling a bit restless. Can you tell me something interesting, a story, a fact about yourself, a snippet from your weekend, whatever? A good link? Please. Chances are I’ll still be up here tomorrow so anything will be gratefully received.
Because it made me smile the other day when I noticed how tidy the Rhubarb Ripple looks amongst the other unruly blankets in The Little Room…
Sunday was a perfect day to visit Hidcote Manor Garden, which has been in the hands of The National Trust since 1948. With bottles of chilled water, a couple of ham rolls, a box of salad and some crisp green grapes to share (‘lashings of ginger beer, jam sandwiches, slabs of fruit cake and a bar of chocolate’, plus whatever Timmy used to eat?!) Mum and I were all set for a day out.
Meanwhile, elsewhere, a monster 10lb trout was caught and later bartered at the village pub for bottles of wine!
Hidcote is an extraordinary place to visit. I love the twists and turns, little paths and hidden corners. If you read and enjoyed imagining the Secret Garden when you were young, this is somewhere for you.
Here’s some information I’ve lifted from the NT website:
“Hidcote is an Arts and Crafts garden in the north Cotswolds, a stone’s throw from Stratford-upon-Avon. Created by the talented American horticulturist, Major Lawrence Johnston its colourful and intricately designed outdoor ‘rooms’ are always full of surprises. It’s a must-see if you’re on holiday in the Cotswolds.” (Or are near enough to visit for a day.)
“Explore the maze of narrow paved pathways and discover secret gardens, magnificent vistas and plants that burst with colour. Many of the plants found growing in the garden were collected from Johnston’s many plant hunting trips to far away places. It’s the perfect place if you’re in need of gardening inspiration.”
“Find a quiet spot and sit on one of the ornate benches and watch green woodpeckers search for their lunch or listen to the calls from the buzzards circling overhead. Time it right and you might catch a glimpse of the elusive hummingbird moth.”
“Meander through the intricate gardens and into the Wilderness. This secluded stretch of tall trees is just right for a picnic. Take a glimpse beyond the boundary and see the garden blend effortlessly into the countryside beyond.”
I heard beautiful birdsong while I walked among these trees.
The sunny weather began to look very grim after lunch, rain clouds covered the sky above and we felt a few drops of rain. However it stopped after about three drops per head and returned to glorious sunshine. Happy days!
“The Monarch’s Way path runs close-by. Follow it for a brief time from the car park and into the chocolate-box Cotswold hamlet of Hidcote Bartrim. You’ll be treated to traditionally thatched stone cottages that were once home to Johnston’s gardeners. They’re now owned by the Trust and rented out.”
You can enlarge the pic and read the gate’s sign. I took this photo with a specific friend in mind, she’ll know it’s for her!
What a lovely day out. I really enjoyed returning to Hidcote. It’s not a place to visit once a year; as you can probably tell from the photographs, there are many, many other plants ready to spring into life. I’m told that going every four to six weeks is an excellent way to see the garden change. Ginger beers and jam sandwiches at the ready!
Have you visited anywhere lovely which you want to share? Add a link below. I’d love to read about your day.
After Carina commented on my last post, reminding me that she’s crocheted some of the motifs from Edie Eckman’s fabulous Beyond the Square book, I emailed her the photo above and asked how she would have joined them. It’s the first time I’ve used the join-as-you-go technique with anything apart from granny squares. I was really dithering and feeling unconfident. When I start saying, or thinking, ‘Well, I’ve only been crocheting a few years’ I know I’m struggling with something. It’s not the end of the world, but is an irritating feeling.
Carina is one of those bloggers that you just know will answer a query and try their best to help. I rushed to work yesterday having fired off a HELP ME! email, and in the evening found not one, but two replies from her. The first saying she’d had a busy day but would get back to me shortly. The second, sent less than an hour later, had detailed ‘This is how I would do it’ instructions and an attached photo. She’d obviously pulled out her BtS book and had a go at joining two motifs. How kind!
I do prefer Carina’s joining method which replaces the 3 corner chains with 1 ch, 1 jss (joining slip stitch) 1 ch. This was the part I wasn’t sure about. Do you replace all the ch with one jss, or only one? How many jss would you need overall? What about the 5 ch in the middle? Carina had also joined this motif in four places, rather than three.
If the motifs were making up a blanket it would probably be more…I’m struggling for the word….connected? Strong? Less gapy? I just checked the spelling of gapy, so I didn’t type gappy by mistake instead, and asked ‘Is it gay-ai-pee-why?’ I’m tired!’ Taking non-drowsy cough med is so stupid right before bed. Consequently I was wide awake and reading my Kindle after midnight last night. (The book was Necessary Lies, if like me you like to know these details. It was a 99p Kindle deal I bought weeks ago. Diane Chamberlain a new-to-me author but the blurb interested and readers’ reviews and stars were impressive on Amazon. The first two chapters have me completely intrigued already.)
The point which I’ll try quickly to come to now, I always waffle far more when tired, is that when I popped into the library today I swerved to the fab craft section and ended up having a quick flick through a Crochet Guide by Jane Crowfoot. She writes that joining motifs is similar to free-form crochet; no two people will join them in the same way. I’m really grateful to Carina for her help, will be joining the motif using her suggestion, but also have learnt a good lesson and a bit of a confidence booster on the way. Sometimes there isn’t always a right way or a wrong way. There’s your way and there’s my way.
I was given Beyond the Square for Christmas, but haven’t made a single motif until this week. The other evening I thought I’d play with #118 and figure how to join it as I went. It took five tries and I got it, I think. Others might have sussed it out differently but mine looks like it will probably work. Since then I’ve had a little production line going making middles and am now round twoing them all.
I have no idea what I’m making, or for whom, as it’s been so spontaneous but it’s another way to use up some of my oddments of Stylecraft.
As I crocheted half-finished motifs, and tossed them into the basket beside me, I realised the colours are echoing those in my bouquet. This is nice, I like it.
Some stack their middles and half-done motifs beautifully, others lay them out in imaginative patterns to photograph; mine are tossed into a basket ends up and bedraggled! It’s all about doing some crochet again, not artful photographs. I can attempt to redress the balance and make sure they’re laid out with a CK mug of coffee in the background (tho I mostly drink tea) or my socked feet in the picture if you like? All the blogging photo cliches by request.
Stop being silly and go into the garden.
The potato leaves are looking lush and healthy, hopefully the potatoes are too. I can’t wait to dig into the soil and see them.
So many strawberries for one plant! My friend’s are redder and huge too, I think they get more sun in her garden, but I’m pleased my plant came through our wet Winter so well.
The first tomato. I bought two varieties this year; yellow Golden Sunrise and Gardener’s Delight, a red cherry.
The pepper plants look ready to fruit too. I’ve grown extra to swap with family this weekend.
I’ve baked wholemeal and a white seeded – poppy, sunflower and pumpkin – loaves for this week’s daily bread. The white is a bit darker brown than usual on top, I blame that motif I was trying to whizz around – rather than just putting it down and getting to the oven a few minutes sooner. It’ll be fine though. The bottom and sides are a nice colour.
For a week I’ve felt under par, waking up in the early hours with a thumping headache and sore neck/throat, had a hacking cough with lots of sighing and a bit of grumping. Today is the first time I’ve truly felt like myself and even slightly dynamic, rather than going through the motions. Three lots of washing washed and hung on the line too. It’s been a good day.
Oh and now it’s raining again, doesn’t that always happen just after you’ve done the watering?!
How are you feeling this week?
Oh by the way rather than just staring, hearting and commenting on others’ pics (only in the last few weeks – what can I say, I’m slow) I’ve started to join in on Instagram. Only three pics so far, but there’s scope for more! Let me know if you’re there too. I like the way you can swap quick chatty comments and search for hashtags, it feels like the best aspects of blogging and twitter. However I can’t imagine it replacing blogging, for me, because you’re limited word-count-wise…!
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.
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.
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.
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.
The thing is that there is a fact which cannot be disputed; even with all the blocking in the world if one crochet square is bigger than the other five, it will still be bigger at the end of the steaming, pinning and drying.
The blanket’s now edged with rows of plum, pomegranate and that pinky pink (‘sugar mouse’ ‘baby doll’ ?!) and has neat corner holes, but that larger diagonally worked block is still straining up, asserting that it’s the biggest and best, wanting to be out on it’s own. Lots of us on the CAL used to moan about these blocks being larger, misshapen and pretty ugly looking.
You’re not going to see a photo of the finished mini blankey. It’s been thrown into a basket ready for giving away. I couldn’t spare the energy even to photograph it I’m afraid. I couldn’t bear to unravel every row and all the DC joins and make a replacement block either. Still, soon it will be covering dolls, hopefully without any design critique.
It’s a lesson for when I eventually join my other CAL blocks: too big and you’re out, or in a special project of your own, as the thing is there’s no way to make you fit.
I don’t think there’s anything better than a stroll along a seafront, a paddle in the sea, fish and chips on the beach and a creamy ice cream in the sun on a bank holiday weekend.
The pebbles pic could be used on that clever website (I don’t know what it’s called, and am feeling too Bank Holiday Monday lazy to press a few buttons to find out) which gives a colour chart, based on the range of colours in a photograph, for a blanket, or fabric patchwork.
A spot of retail therapy today (damn you Cadbury Outlet Shop; you are bad, BAD, very Bad!!!) and a wander around the historic dockyard of Portsmouth. Even though today was rainy the queue for the Mary Rose museum was long. Must book ahead and go early one day.
A dicey drive home on very wet roads, home to my Stanley who’s very interested to see on Instagram that someone is having all sorts of adventures with Kate and family (Stanley at Legoland) I did eight more rows of knitting after we’d unpacked, made some cups of tea and tried a terribly bad (good) Cadbury Crunchie biscuit. I’m limiting myself to short bursts at the mo. I started this Friday evening, after a friend said she’s knitting two to sell for charity. Guess what it’s going to be? Bet you won’t be able to get it. (Just remember I will never ever knit a toilet roll holder. I promise this much.)
Have you been tempted into eating naughty things this weekend too?
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?
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.
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.
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?
When I saw an ad for a gin tasting session and afternoon tea in Camden, north London with GandTeatime (such a clever name) the name of a friend of mine popped straight into mind. Over the years we’ve continually discussed our favourite gins, given each other many a birthday or Christmas bottle and speculated about the worthiness of a new brand.
The afternoon got off to a great start; we grabbed a table, filled a plate with all kinds of garnishes: lime, lemon, mint, coriander, mint, cucumber and/or pink grapefruit and enjoyed a glass of punch as we got to know the others.
Throughout the tastings we were given all the facts you could possibly want about gin, the origin and process of making it, as well as some historical facts about the time leading up to the Gin Act. We looked at Hogarth’s prints (see here) of London’s ‘Beer Alley’ and ‘Gin Lane.’ These are the martinis we were given to finish with, I actually liked mine and realised the reason I’ve never thought I liked it before is because one of my family makes them firewater strength!
We sampled this selection of gins, tasting each neat, discussing the flavours and then mixing it with tonic to our taste, adding all kinds of combos of garnishes. One of our table was extremely creative with hers, when she crushed some juniper berries into one glass we all stopped and admired her panache! As we went through each gin everyone gave a show of hands as to their favourite. No one voted for Beefeater, but I reckon it’s because it’s the cheaper one you grow up drinking (this did raise a few eyebrows as people wondered if I’d been suckled on a bottle of the good stuff) and your tastes move on to other tastes? The saffron gin was interesting, but ended up tasting exactly like Pimms when I drank it with orange and mint.
We decided Plymouth gin was the winning favourite on our table. I’ll buy a bottle next, after the Butlers (buy this gin if you too love the flavour of cardamon, it’s delicious drunk with tonic, lashings of ice and slices of cucumber) Chase and Hayman’s are dry…
We shouldn’t have but the girls on our table were so nice that we got chatting and had a cocktail with them. Then we had another cocktail and lots more chat and it was early evening and time to head off. We all staggered together to the tube, then after quite a few tipsy hugs and kisses we all went our separate ways!
If you can do something similar then make sure you have lots of afternoon tea. I swear the cake soaked up the gin superbly. (Trifle tummy?!) This was a really fun afternoon, and a bit of different thing to do with a friend.
A few days later I went to have lunch with another friend in Shoreditch. The East End is not an area of London that I know very well so it was interesting to have a look around. Tube trains on a roof? What’s that all about?! I’ve found a GREAT blog post here which tells you who, why, when and what. It’s fascinating.
Next time we’re going here for street food. It looks funky and the smells smelt good.
After lunch I dived into Forge and Co on Shoreditch High Street to see Grant Fleming’s The End of Apartheid (free) photo exhibition.
This greets you as you go down the stairs to the gallery space. It gave me goosebumps.
The room was big, you start on the left-hand side (not shown) and work your way around. The candid style of photography is really effective; conveying so much of the emotion of the time.
Goosebumps on goosebumps.
When I left the exhibition it was pouring and I got a jolt peering out from my raincoat’s hood and seeing Boxpark which I recognised from the last series of The Apprentice. It’s a pop-up mall made from containers and is much smarter than it sounds.
Move closer and get a better look… I need to do some Googling still for this one. Why is the facade left there? Is it the long left remnant of a WW2 bombed building? A listed building which best feature has been kept? Google google google incoming.
This is only a small collection of photos of what I noticed as I walked along to Brick Lane (my previous visit included here.)
Are you around London this Sunday? Either way this street art’s employed very effectively to advertise an event and campaign for a cause. That (aquamarine?) blue is to die for…
“I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date.”
Nightmare in paint?
Forget my crocheted owl, perhaps this should be my new gravatar????
A wholesaler’s fabric warehouse, well I don’t mind if I do….
They supply fabric to tailors. You can buy a metre upwards of anything, even if you’re not a business customer. It’s not seasonal, and I don’t wear kilts, but I was so drawn to the tartans. They felt so soft and came in a selection of pretty colours. There was one beauty with pinky purpley lines.
I enjoy this kind of sign, it can give lots of clues to the history of an area. London street names can be very informative. Go and explore South London and you’ll soon figure out what was oringinally produced there.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my little photo tour.
My craft hiatus continues due to my very sore left elbow. It’s ok if I don’t do anything much with my left hand but that’s not too practical really as a leftie. It will settle, with some help, but hasn’t been this bad for about 10 years. I’m pretty sure it’s kneading dough while I make our weekly bread that’s done for it. Boo. I’m now only using my mixer’s dough hook which isn’t quite such a tactile or satisfyingly stress relieving exercise, I really like doing the knocking back and second short knead by hand.
I have been wondering if I should wrap up the blog until it’s better as it’s a craft focused blog with no craft, but then I look at BlogLovin and my fave craft bloggers are sharing: country walks, train trips, trips to the local market, their emerging Summer garden, a long lost and now found cake recipe and so I think FINE. Just relax; it’s your blog, write and show what you want. It’s diversification and I’ve always shared non-craft posts, there are just lots more of them right now.
How are you doing? Enjoying lovely Summer weather, like we have here today, or relaxing into Autumn and thinking of hot chocolate and winter wooly making?
Very exciting post has just arrived! It’s a preview copy of Kate’s (from Greedy for Colour) book: Stanley and the Hot Air Balloon.
My Stanley ran around beside himself with excitement to see it. He acted out many of the parts of the story as he read all about himself. Very sweet story it is too. There are crochet patterns at the end of the book to create your own characters and the hot air balloon. It’s so clever and full of little touches like using particular colours and fonts for specific words throughout the book.
Stanley and the Hot Air Balloon will be available to buy from July. See Kate’s blog for more details nearer the time.
Mottisfont in Hampshire is a lovely National Trust property, there is so much to see and do (particularly if the sun is shining) that you can easily stay for hours. I’ve read about Gilbert and Maud Russell during my study of social history of the last century and so it was fascinating to see where they lived and entertained during the 1930s-50s. The NT has done a great job of recreating the rooms as they might have looked during this period. There’s a gallery of rooms upstairs in the house, which were where Maud lived when it was first passed to the Trust. I have to admit to distracting myself from the art on display by chatting to a woman after admiring her (Swanky Swans) butterfly bag. She was with her husband and two lanky teenage sons and seemed delighted by the respite of a girly chit chat.
This is a diverted tributary of the River Test, you can walk along to the fishing hut at the end of the stream, cross a dinky little bridge and wander back along the other side. Apparently the Test is probably the most famous trout fishing river in the country, and probably the most expensive. I try not to laugh when Someone gets animated about spotting mayflies and trout rising as I think there’s been a lot of crochet and crafty talk during the last few years!
Thank you by the way for your sweet comments, I’m still elbow and knee sore but taking it easy and hoping my jointy left side calms down soon. I’m itching to carry on crocheting my odd-bod blocks together and complete my latest string bag but know it’s not a wise move.
Although there were many people visiting on bank holiday Monday it didn’t feel crowded. So many people had gathered to picnic. It’s always fascinating to see what people are eating. I try not to stare too obviously, or put my neck out! The one that sticks is a family who had a nice selection of salads and a tupperware of boiled new potatoes (Jersey Royals perhaps but I couldn’t get close enough to really see) but ate them with….cold pizza. This seems so odd, though no one would rise an eyebrow at cold quiche or a savoury tart at a picnic. Maybe it’s just me.
I like seeing shepherds’ huts as they might have looked inside. This struck me as being a very short bed if you happened to be tall for the times. The poor man would have been bent into a W as it’s just the width of the hut. Were there ever female shepherds?
The walled garden is famed for its national collection of old fashioned roses. I really want to visit again in the summer and take in the sight and smells. If you’re interested in a little historical detail to the house and rose garden read here. Anything which mentions Richard the Lionheart is worth a look in my opinion. Meanwhile just staring at the colours and textures of the old red brick garden wall gives so much pleasure, reminding me of Waterperry Gardens.
I’m really pleased to be a member of The National Trust again, I’m looking forward to some lovely days out. The icing on the cake is always visiting the shop; I don’t necessarily need to buy anything, I just enjoy a good mooch and admire the quality of the goods. This time though I was treated to some gorgeous Tuscan Rose hand & body lotion, I can’t adequately describe how lovely it smells. I’ve always enjoyed old fashioned scents like lavender, lily of the valley and rose. Mmmmmm.
Next week maybe I can get back to some craft? Fingers and toes crossed.
It feels like eons since I shared any craft here but that’s because I’m temporarily unable to do any, so have nothing to share. My elbow pain has flared up and I’m trying to avoid anything that might aggravate it. I’m feeling a little sorry for myself as I’m in the middle of a few makes and watching tv with still hands feels incredibly unproductive. At the risk of sounding whiney my knee is also sore. When I sit with an ice pack on it at least I can usually listen to an audio book and make something but that’s not happening. Boo!
Still, it was a lovely sunny bank holiday weekend and we hopped over to the Isle of Wight and had a super time. The Garlic Farm is a must-see. You can go to the tasting experience room and try most of the products, then spend way too much money in the shop. My tip top favourite product is their smoked garlic bulbs. I first tried some years ago and if anyone I know is visiting that’s always my “please buy me” request. It’s truly delicious added to tomato sauce or roasted with chicken. I added some to a homemade BBQ sauce last night and I can’t wait to eat it later.
We drove to Shanklin and wandered along the beach to Sandown, collecting a trove of sea glass. Finding a few different shades of blue felt like coming across treasure! My collection’s growing now so it’s been re homed in a larger jar.
Ventnor and the excellent Spyglass Inn is a must during any visit. Lager shandy, a shared plate of whitebait and a wander along the sea front rounded off the day beautifully.
We visited a National Trust property on Monday and I’ll share some photos from the visit soon. I’ve found another Shepherd’s hut…
What did you do over the weekend? Are you busy making anything?
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.