Monday, 30 July 2012

Holiday hopes

Very excited to be on leave for 3 whole weeks!  Friday night was Tess' first walk.  She was a bit reticicent at first - after all a field is a very big place when you are 10 weeks old.

But Rosie led the way ...

.. and Tess soon followed.

| So many things I want to do over the next three weeks, and watching the olympics is one.  Firstly we enjoyed the opening ceremony on Friday night - although we started off a bit concerned with what appeared to be a teletubbies set, but when it got going the staging was fantastic.  I am also incredibly proud to have seen my step-niece Rachel in the GB team .... and can't wait till her event - K1 individual and K4 sprint (canoeing!).  Rachel is the blond girl in the centre.

I've already had some lovely times watching gymnastics and the womens' road race while working on my farmer's wife quilt.  I've really enjoyed the challenge of this and here are some of the lastest blocks.  The very latest one is broken dishes and I'm featuring this one paricularly, because way back when I first started making my blocks I saw some blocks by others particularly Helen Phillips, and I thought no way would I ever be able to attempt the more complex blocks and I have!  So I am quite proud really and the piecing is actually not bad!

This is sort of how half my  blocks are  looking at the moment (though I have about 20 blocks finished)

I have now planned my final 12 blocks.  This is one project I'm not trying to finish though.  I haven't enjoyed the cutting out, but I love the challenge of trying to get the pieces to fit together.  I'm already planning the next one, which will be to auction for my favourite charity.

By the way speaking of the Olympics and men's gymnastics we have just won the silver medal!  Brilliant, the lads worked their socks off!  No ... there's an appeal by Japan ... and we have .... a bronze, such a shame, as we would have been delighted with a bronze originally but now its disappointing.

What's on my needles? Well I'm knitting a very simple jumper which I'm not really into that much.  I liked the wool in the skein, Manos Del Uruguay Maxima, but actually not enjoying working with it as much as I thought I would.  I picked a very simple pattern because I thought the wool was busy enough and I've actually made an adaption by giving the waist some shape.  First time I have ever deviated from a pattern!   Its a quick knit so hopefully a reveal next weekend.

Loved waking up on Saturday thinking of all the days I have to wake up without an alarm.  The peaceful starts to the day, however, are a thing of the past as the pets are allowed in with my first cup of tea ... and they are crazy after a night of sleep.

Then followed a lovely day in Manchester  looking for a new flat for Dan and Gemma.  This is one of my favourite buildings in Manchester, the Victorian baths bathed in sunshine!

Then a lovely snack at our favourite vegetarian restaurant Eighth Day.  Dan managed a spicy brunch ....

... but I stuck to tea and cake! 

Then there was a trip to the Cath Kidson shop and a new knitting bag and dress bought in the sale (photo to follow later).  On the way home we stopped at Botany Bay which is a massive factory-style building with lots of quirky shops like this lovely sweetie shop.

Gemma and I also embarassed ourselves (at least I got the skinny one)

Sunday was also lovely, with a yummy meal at the Brewery in Kendal followed by the Dark Knight Rising which I thought was a bit slow to start with but ended well.  So all in all a very good start to the hols! 

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Wooly thoughts

It's been a pretty full week.  Two trips to the Dukes playhouse in Lancaster; to a play called Sabbat about the Pendle witches and to see the film of the NT production of Frankenstein which was excellent!

There was also a lot of puppy time - I'm pleased to report Tess is settling well and very impressively going in the garden (most of the time!).  Rosie is getting on very well with her and there are many manics bouts of chasing each other.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I had been buying wool on ebay and a few other sources!  I think its time I confessed to what extent this has been!   

It doesn't look too bad does it?  Only thing is this is just the Baby Cashmero - which I'm using for my ripple blanket and also have been saving up for a Fair Isle jumper.   There is also wool for 3 jumpers and one jacket stashed, as well as for a couple of shawlettes!  Better get knitting then!  

I finished the Rowan jumper, quite pleased although I did struggle with so much moss stitch and changes in tension do show a lot. 

I've always been impressed when people say "I whipped up a .....", making it sound like the work of moments, but my next knitting project was just that.  I took about 4 hours to "whip up" this little shawl and as I was knitting it I thought I would never wear it, but I absolutely love it.  It's so soft and easy to wear and it took an afternoon.  Fantastic.

There has also been a bit of crochet.  I used some more of my cotton to make a cover for a hot chocolate tin!  The inspiration for this came from Lucy at whose crochet is just gorgeous.    I have to say that I don't enjoy crocheting with this cotton and its tiny 2.5 crochet hook as much as I do the thicker yarn ... and indeed it took me quite a while to finish this.  Still got a lot of the cotton to use up though!

I probably should point out I've had an extra 2 days off work this week to play!  Hence quite a bit of lovely crafty time.  Shame there was little sun though.  Still the wild flowers at the moment are stunning and I'll finish with a couple more of the lovely meadow we walk through.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

And now for something completely different ...

I had hoped to be able to reveal my sweater this weekend, and I was on track to achieve this when I got a bit distracted!  I can be a bit impetuous ... and although I have been thinking about this for sometime rather suddenly I made a decision.  There was considerable internet research and then Sunday found us on the way to Stoke - three went - and four came back .......

Yes, call me a glutton for punishment but we have a new addition to the family, another cavapoo, Tess who I hope will be wonderful company for our lovely Rosie.  Rosie is such a happy, friendly dog and is always desperate to play with other dogs she meets (many of whom seem to be eyeing her up for dinner) and now she has her own playmate at home!   And play they did .... Tess settled straight-in ... there were a few tense moments with the cats ..

But when Rosie got to be with her they just ran and ran and ran for ages (took Jess about an hour to recover)

I think they are going to be great friends.  You can just about see the difference in size here.

So far she's very quickly settled in (just hope she sleeps tonight).  So normal crafty posting will resume next week but hope you've enjoyed a bit of cuteness ... I certainly have ...

(ps. first accident now happened in the house, so I don't look quite so blissful!)

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Colour Therapy

Usually I am a bit torn about staying in to watch the Wimbledon final or stitting in the garden enjoying some weekend sun ... but no contest this year!  (Shame Murray didn't win).   We did have a bit of sun Saturday and enjoyed some time in our favourite spot by the river.

As I mentioned previously Dan and Gemma got engaged last month and they are planning to marry in July next year, just after they graduate.  So yesterday we went looking for wedding venues.  I think it has now been decided that student finances don't run to a hotel and we are looking at village halls.  This is a rather special one in Hornby, with lovely staff and you get the whole place for £425.00.  I think with copious amounts of bunting, flowers and loving friends it will look great ... no outside though so we practised some weddingy looking shots at the nearby bridge. 

Given my quite prolific crafting over the past few months, you are probably waiting for my next completed item!  Fraid it won't be coming this week because I'm still working on bigger projects.  All I've managed is another couple of Farmer's wife blocks and it wasn't my most successful week for this ... not quite as accurate as I would have liked.

Mostly I have been knitting.  I mentioned a few weeks ago that I had never had a "stash" before, rather I bought what I needed for the next project, one at a time.  This was very disciplined ... but not much fun .... and I am slightly ashamed to say that I have now thrown myself into the crafty stashing fraternity with a vengance (this has not been helped by spending time on ebay where you bid on things because they are a "bargain" rather than you really need them).  In this spirit I already have the red noro spring garden waiting from last week (ebay), then I saw these 10 balls of Debbie Bliss baby cashmero in raspberry (£25.00)

and I'm also waiting for some manos del urauguay yarn!  I am really enjoying handling my purchases ... the only thing is if you don't have a pattern in mind then you are probably going to have the wrong amount!  I have, for this reason, found some shawl patterns which use small amounts of wool  (though I've never warn a shawl in my life!).  Speaking of shawls I also popped into a shop in Arnside on Saturday and bought this wool

... which is for a shawl pattern.  It looks a little like a gothic birds nest in the picture, but it is a skein of soft multi-coloured yarn and a skein of ribbon, and I think it might be a nice combination.  On top of this I have already bought the wool for my two next big knits.  Think I've gone knitting mad at the moment, and have been neglecting my ripple blanket and cross stitch.

The best colour of all though, are the flowers at the moment which are blooming despite the lack of sunshine, both in the garden ....

and better still in the wild.  My walk today finished in a field which was just filled with flowers - one of the most beautiful sights of the summer.

And on that happy note I will finish my post and return to my knitting and Elizabeth II on DVD.  Have a good week ... till next weekend.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

crafty confessions

Have no actual finishes this week to show as I've been working on some of my longer projects so I will give you a few updates.  Just to make sure that you don't think I'm more adept at crafting than I actually am, I also thought I would make a few confessions about the mistakes I make (especially as photos can hide a multitude of sins!).

First my knitting; a Rowan pattern called Ryder.  This is lovely wool (wool cotton) and a pleasure to knit.  Also enjoying the cabling (though not so much the moss stitch), so generally hopeful that this will be a wearable knit eventually, but there is an obvious mistake.

Looks OK here and a good shot of the interesting vent in the back, but perhaps a close up will help... 

As you can see the right side doesn't match the left and yes, you would need a strange body to fit this.  I can't believe a) I didn't increase the stitches evenly, b) didn't spot this until almost at the armholes and c) thought I could get away with making lots of increases near the arm.   This might be OK, in the end because I might be able to sort it out at the sewing up stage.  So I'm knitting the front (correctly) to help me see if this will work, otherwise I may have to pull it back to the waist.  My mistakes are frequently because I don't take enough care to follow patterns exactly.

I've made quite a few of my farmers' wife blocks, and really enjoying these.  I thought I would photograph them all together.  So what's the mistake here you might ask (there are a few little ones, but not worrying about that).  No its not about the things I've been making but my actual sewing machine.  I only got my machine in November and hadn't sewn since school.  Over the last month I've been having trouble with the tension and the stitches not being right.  I was thinking I would have to take it back to the shop, when I read a magazine yesterday morning that said you should change the needle after 8 hours of stitching ..... woops!  It hadn't even occurred to me to change the needle and I've made two quilts.  Sure enough that was the problem.  Rookie mistake indeed!

Rosie helped with organising them!  Really must get her to the doggy hairdresser!

Also been working on my crossstitch.  I am loving how this is looking, though it is quite bitty to do .... and yes I have had to take back quite a bit of stitching which was in the wrong place. 

So that's just a few of the mistakes made, but actually its part of the learning for me and as my crafting really only started last March with a cross-stitch  I really am happy with my achievements since then.

My  week ended here on Sunday night ....

One of my favourite places in Manchester, Salford Quays.  The sun was shining!  A quick pizza and then to the Lowry for ....

Hugh Laurie.   In case you don't know, as well as acting and comedy, Hugh is a great musician ... mostly New Orleans blues and Dan, in particular, is a great fan.  Great show and the Lowry is such a good venue as you feel really close to the artistes.  So it was a good end to what had been a really difficult week.   Roll on July and surely the sun will shine a little more.    Until then a little colour!

First some wool bought off Ebay - it wasn't the colour I was expecting - red rather than purple, so that will teach me to check the colour number with another site.  It was much cheaper though just under £5 a ball at least £4 cheaper than I have seen elsewhere, and I have a couple of ideas for shawls ...

.. and some lovely flowers, just love peonies!