Sunday, 22 May 2016

Now That I'm 55....

Now that I'm 55, I have finally finished the embroidery wall hanging.  As a recap, the plan was to embroider 54 little squares whilst I was still 54, sew them all together and make a wall hanging.

Well, I did manage to get all 54 squares embroidered whilst I was still 54, but the sewing them together and making a wall hanging took a bit longer.

But finally, it's done and here it is.


I'm so pleased with it.  Each square is 3 inches square.  I used English Paper Piecing to join them together.  Each intersection of the squares has a button attached.





I love looking at it, and every time I pick a new favourite square.  Which one is your favourite?


So now I'm 55, I don't think I'll be making 55 of anything this year.  Maybe next year I might plan something around the number 56, but for now I think I've got enough stuff progressing without making any more work for myself.

I'll let you see what other things I've been making this past week in my next post.  In the meantime, happy crafting.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Weekend in London

Well I finally it made it to London for the weekend to see Eve.  And what a wonderful weekend it was.  It's always lovely to meet up with my daughters, I miss them so much.  Eve is very settled now in London and it's good to see her happy and enjoying her life.

We spent most of our time chatting and laughing and just enjoying each other's company, but we did manage to fit in a trip to the V & A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green.


There was a very moving special exhibition on Child Migrants, as well as one on the Clangers and Bagpuss.

There were also cases and cases of toys, games, dolls and teddy bears.


A great afternoon out.

On my way to Eve's on the Friday, I walked via King's Cross Station to see Platfrom 9 & 3/4.  There were plenty of people queuing to have their photo taken.

(I don't know who this person is,
she just happened to be in the queue for the photo!)


I then walked to Angel.  A very interesting area of London with many small and quirky shops.  I loved the angel wings statue at the entrance to the shopping arcade.


My main reason for wanting to visit Angel was the gorgeous knitting shop, Loop.  I have heard so many wonderful things about this shop that I just couldn't resist a visit.  As usual, my photos were all shaky, so these are images I googled.

Picture by Homegirl London

Picture by Wonderwoof
I knew that I would have to exercise extreme self-control when visiting, so I thought in advance what I wanted to buy in terms of yarn and browsed the online shop, so that I wouldn't start impulse buying yarn when I got there.

And I'm pleased to say, as far as yarn is concerned, I was very very disciplined.  I bought the 6 balls of Sheltand Spindrift I wanted for a Fair Isle cardigan and no other YARN !

HOWEVER, I did get a bit carried away with knitting needles and knitting patterns - but they are all so lovely.


Whilst in the shop I was lucky enough to meet the lovely Juju Vail.  She was very chatty and we talked about knitting top-down sweaters, about Fair Isle knitting and she helped me select the colours of yarn I wanted.

It was a really memorable and pleasant visit.  Even if I did spend far more than I should have, I'm glad I visited and maybe one day, I'll make another trip there.

Now I'm back home, I need to clear the backlog of yarn, so that I can cast on for the new Fair Isle cardigan and knit up some of my lovely new patterns.  Have a good week.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Happy Sunshiny Days

Hello everyone and welcome to this week's blog post.  I hope you all had a lovely weekend.

I've had a great weekend.  Plenty of knitting got done and we had a lovely day out.  I have also been lucky enough to have two patterns gifted to me over the weekend.

First of all, I'd like to share with you my lovely finished shawl.



I can't begin to tell you how pleased I am with this.  The beautiful gradient yarn was a gift from Grace and it's called Antarctica (she picked it deliberately for me because she knows I'm interested in anything to do with the South Pole).  It's very hard to get a picture that reflects the true colours.  It starts as a deep teal, lightens and changes to dark grey, which in turn lightens to cream.


I used a pattern by Helen Stewart called Spindrift.  The pattern is a paid for pattern, but you can sign up by email for a free workshop and the pattern comes as part of the package.  The link to the pattern page on Ravelry is HERE.

It is a well written pattern and is great for assessing your yarn usage.  I particularly wanted to maximise my use of the yarn so that I got the full splendour of the gradients.  It's also a nice quick knit.

So now I really, really do need to get back on track with my other works in progress - until the next distraction!

Yesterday was such a lovely day, weather-wise, that my husband and I decided to have a day out, so we drove up the coast to Lytham (about an hour and a half away).  As my husband is retiring later this year, we called this our practice retirement day!

There isn't a great deal to do in Lytham, but it was lovely to just walk along the coastal path.  I hadn't adjusted the exposure on my camera, so my pictures are very bleached, I've used some pictures I found online so you can see what we saw.

pic from www.lythamtowntrust.org

We called into the windmill to see the museum run by the local heritage society.

pic from www.lythamheritagegroup.co.uk

And we had a picnic in Lowther Gardens (these are my pictures - it had clouded over a bit so the exposure isn't as rubbish).



A very relaxing day and it's always nice to visit somewhere new.

When I got home, I was watching one of my favourite podcasters, YarnderWoman, Melinda from Perth in Western Australia, whilst doing some sewing.  I was absolutely thrilled when my name was read out as a prize winner for her Hat Knit Along that ran last month. My prize is a beautiful shawl pattern and I'll show you the details when I receive the copy.

The same evening, Grace got in touch with me to say that she was gifting me a new pattern by the Sockmatician.  He has written a toe up sock recipe that incorporates a heel flap and gusset.  This is exactly the construction I want to try next.  So I'm really delighted to receive this.  Now I can't wait to cast on for my next pair of socks - but didn't I just say, no distractions!!!

So everything is wonderful here in Yellow Pink and Sparkly land.  I hope that the sun and happiness are shining down on you, wherever you are.  And if there are clouds, both literal and metaphoric in your life at the moment, I hope that they pass over as quickly as possible.

Have a good week. X

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Socks, Sun and Shawls

Hello everyone, I hope you're enjoying this lovely spell of warm weather we are having here in the UK.  Makes a nice change.

I've been enjoying knitting up my socks for May.  I used West Yorkshire Spinners Yarn in the Goldfinch colourway and they just flew off the needles.


I just love the colours.  These could be my favourite socks of all time.

I had planned that this month I would try knitting my socks two at a time (I like to try something new each month).  I knit these socks toe up - this is now firmly established as my favourite way to knit socks.  I got as far as part way up the foot, knitting two at a time, before I lost patience and gave up.


I found it was taking me longer to do a round for two at a time than it did for me to knit a round individually on both socks.  I tend to knit my socks simultaneously, so I don't have a problem with second sock syndrome, which seems to be the only reason to knit two at a time.  So at least I gave it a try, in the end, it's all about finding the right sock recipe for me.

You can see full details of this sock project on my Ravelry page, HERE.

As the weather has been so nice, we had an afternoon watching a cricket match.  We watched the last day of the three day match between Lancashire 2nd XI and Derbyshire 2nd XI at Northern Cricket Ground (a lovely small ground with about twenty spectators!)



It's very relaxing, sitting in the Sun and getting on with some knitting!  I worked on my navy cardigan, just to try and make some progress.

It may be sunny but I'm not taking my cardigan off yet!

I'm aiming to have this finished this month, but...

...there's always a but , and it usually means a distraction.  So this week's distraction is a lovely shawl pattern by Helen Stewart called Spindrift.

I received a gorgeous ball of gradient yarn from Grace for Christmas, and I've been agonising ever since over which pattern to use for this special yarn.



So this week I finally decided to go for the Spindrift pattern.  The main reason I chose this one was that I wanted to be able to use the whole ball of yarn.  With some patterns I wasn't sure if I would end up with yarn leftover or actually run out.  With the Spindrift pattern, percentages are given throughout as to how much yarn you have used.  So far I have knit 20% of the pattern and this ties in exactly with the amount of yarn I have used, so I feel very happy.

I can't wait to see how the colour changes progress.  At the moment it's essentially stocking stitch.  Here's how much I did on the first evening of working on it.



It's very addictive.  At 50% the pattern changes to eyelets.

I hope to have this finished over the weekend - but if this lovely weather continues, we might have some days out, which might slow me down a bit.

Then, hopefully it will be back to the cardigan and the other neglected shawl.  With that, I'll say bye for now, and get back to my lovely Spindrift shawl.  Happy days everyone.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Some of My Favourite Things

I have very kindly been nominated for a Liebster Award for my blog by Jo from A Whole Plot of Love.  What fun!  Jo has set ten questions that I have to answer.  Here are the questions -


1. Favourite season?
2. Do you eat breakfast?
3. Starter or pudding?
4. Favourite childhood author?
5. Seaside or countryside?
6. Favourite beverage?
7. Do you have a pet?
8. Favourite way to serve vegetables?
9. Do you grow your own?
10. Dark, milk or white chocolate?

So now to answer them -
1.  Favourite Season?
My favourite season is Spring.  I love the bright and beautiful colours of the Spring flowers; the sense of an awakening world and new life; the hope that warmer weather will soon be with us; longer daylight hours - just perfect.  


2.  Do you eat Breakfast?
Yes, I eat breakfast.  It's my favourite meal of the day.  As a child I had a bowl of Ready Brek every morning (central heating for kids - as the advert used to say) ...


...and fifty years on I still have a bowl of porridge every morning - sprinkled with dried cranberries.  And accompanied by a good book.



3.  Starter or Pudding?  
I don't consider myself a food lover.  I eat because I have to and I'm quite a fussy eater.  I do have a sweet tooth, so pudding will always be my choice over a starter - and if given the choice I would also skip the main and go straight to the pudding.  

4.  Favourite Childhood Author?
I've been an avid reader ever since I was very young.  As soon as I finish one book I start the next.  I couldn't imagine leaving home without a book in my bag.  The first book I read that made me cry was The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis.  I also loved the books of Nina Bawden.  My favourite author as a small child was Michael Bond - I still have all my Paddington Bear books.  


5.  Seaside or Countryside?
I am lucky enough to live by the sea.  Every morning when I go for my walk, I see the beach and can look out over the Irish Sea to the North Wales coast.  I can't imagine being landlocked, I just wouldn't like that, but I do enjoy a holiday in the countryside.  


6.  Favourite beverage?
Tea - always tea, I never drink coffee.  Just plain ordinary tea with milk, no sugar.  The best drink of the day.  


7.  Do you have a pet?
No.  I had a cat many years ago but it ran away when my husband (boyfriend at the time) came on the scene.  Maybe it's time to swap my husband for a cat.  I'd like to be a crazy cat lady when I grow up.

8.  Favourite way to serve vegetables?
As I mentioned above, I'm not really a food lover, so I can only answer this question by saying - on a plate!

9.  Do you grow your own?
In an ideal world, I would be growing lots of lovely vegetables and fruits, making jams and interesting meals - but in reality, the only things that grows well in my garden, are the weeds.

10.  Dark, milk or white chocolate?
Yes Please!!!


I've enjoyed answering these questions.  So it would be fun if as many people who want to, join in and answer some or all of them as well, either in the comments section on this blog or on your own blogs.  I look forward to reading your answers.    

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Not in London

Thank you all for the lovely comments both here on my blog and on Ravelry about the Fair Isle Hat pattern.  It really is a pleasure to share my patterns and I hope you enjoy them.

As mentioned earlier this week, I had planned to be in London this weekend, catching up with Eve.  Unfortunately, it being a Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK, there are extensive engineering works on the rail line around Stafford.  This means that it would have taken me nearly six hours to get from London to Liverpool on my way home.  So I've postponed the trip for another two weeks, when hopefully the weather might, just might, be a little warmer.

So it's been another quiet week.  My husband has had a bad cold all week, so we haven't even made it out to the pub for a pint this week!  On the plus side, my manic creative activity is still ongoing.  I'm sure I'm going to burn out soon, but I'm making the most of all my energy to just get things done.

This week, I have completed my dress.  It's a beautiful pale green in a light cotton, ideal for summer weather - which we might get one day!  My husband was responsible for taking the photos but out of the many that were taken, this was the only one that wasn't at a strange angle or very blurred!


The pattern is Simplicity 2444 and this is the fourth time I've made the pattern.  I just love it.  It's a perfect fit and so easy to wear.

I have also finished my Leftie, that I had been working on at Grace's last weekend.  This is more of a scarf than a shawl.


The colour is actually dark grey, not blue, and the stripes and leaves are more colourful than the pictures sugest.  It's a very addictive project and I wish I could have continued knitting it but it was big enough, so I sadly had to cast off after 32 leaves.




The pattern is by Martina Behm.  It's not a free pattern but it's an excellent pattern and I'll be knitting it again at some point in the future.  Next time I'll use a softer yarn for the main part, the one I used was from stash and a bit on the rough side.  The gradient yarn was some leftovers that Grace gave me from her own Leftie. You can see full details of this project on my Ravelry page, here.

And now it's May, and I do love the beginning of each month, it's a joyful time.  It's a time to plan the month ahead and think of the possibilities.  I have two projects already in progress, a cardigan and a shawl, that I would like to get finished this month.  I will obviously be casting on for a new pair of socks.  This month I will be knitting with this gorgeous West Yorkshire Spinners yarn in the Goldfinch colourway.


It's all ready to cast on.  I'm going to use the same recipe I used last month because I loved it so much - toe-up, fleegle heel with Vanilla Latte pattern.  But, as you know, I like to try something different each month.  This month I'm going to try knitting my socks two-at-a-time - that's both socks on the same needles, knitted simultaneously.  It should be interesting, and hopefully fun.


Right, that's me up-to-date.  I'm off to cast on my two-at-time socks.  I hope you are having a good weekend.  See you soon.

Friday, 29 April 2016

Fair Isle Hat Pattern

Just popping in today to share the pattern for my Fair Isle Hat.


I've completed the second version and written up the pattern, so I'm feeling very pleased with myself for getting it all done so promptly.

This version was knitted with Rowan fine Tweed - leftovers from the cardigan I knitted Eve for her birthday.  


It's lovely and bright and I enjoyed knitting the pattern just as much as the one earlier this month.

Version #1

Version #2

Details of this version can be found on my Ravelry page, here.

The pattern can be downloaded for free, of course, HERE.

Alternatively you can add the pattern to your Ravelry library by visiting the pattern page, HERE.

Have a lovely weekend everyone.  Bye for now.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

No Ends, But Plenty of Beginnings

Hello Everyone, I hope you all had a good weekend.  We had a lovely spontaneous trip to Sheffield to see Grace.  Although it was still very cold and windy at the weekend we did get out and about in Sheffield.

On Saturday we visited the cathedral.  Grace has lived in Sheffield now for two and a half years, but this was our first visit to the Cathedral and we were very impressed with the interior.  From the outside it doesn't look very exciting, but inside there is a lovely mix of ancient and modern architecture, plenty of interesting side chapels and, my favourite, lots of lovely angels to spot.






On Sunday, we walked to the Botanical Gardens.





It's always good to meet up with Grace, because we have plenty of knitting chat to catch up on - comparing works in progress, yarns and discussing future projects.  For the trip, I took my Leftie Shawl.  This had been languishing at the bottom of the works in progress pile, mainly because it's a good travelling project so I was saving it for the next long car trip.  I managed to get lots done on this, more than I thought I would. I could quite possibly finish it this week - I'll have to find a new travelling project for future trips.


The other shawl I have been working on and  had intended to finish this week has been put to one side because I've cast on another Fair Isle Hat.


I want to get the pattern written up and the best way to check what I've typed up is to knit it up again.  I'm using leftovers from the cardigan I knitted Eve, so it all helps towards stash reduction.

I've also been doing some dress making - little and often, so it's coming together nicely, without any stress.


Neckline and armholes to finish off, zip to insert and then only the hem.

I've also joined in with a new crochet CAL.  This one is called Mandala Madness and it's by Helen Shrimpton.  The pattern is being released over 18 weeks.  So far the first 6 weeks are available.  Here's the pattern picture of what's been released so far.  Isn't it gorgeous.


The finished object will be a very large circular blanket.  I've only just joined in but I'm part way through the second part.


I would have made more progress but my eye strain problem flared up again - you would think by now I would have learnt that trying to read complicated crochet patterns on my Kindle late at night is not good for my eyes.  Anyway, I've had to put it down for now, but as soon as my eye recovers, I'll be back with it - but only in good light!

I've just remembered that I do have something finished after all.  I've been continuing to make my mini sock yarn sweaters to add to my bunting decoration.  Here's another 7 that have been completed recently.


So that's what I'm up to at the moment.  I'm off down to London on Friday to have a girlie weekend with Eve.  Can't wait for that.  I'll have to sort out a new travelling project for the train journey.

Enjoy the rest of your week.