Sunday, 29 May 2016

Catching Up

The sun is shining, England are winning easily in the cricket and my crafting is all going well.  My husband and I have just come back from a lovely couple of days in St Albans.

The weather was a lot better than when we visited last year in November and Eve got the train out of London to meet up with us - so a perfect time we had.

We had a lovely walk around Verulamium Park, a visit to the cathedral and a relaxing lunch.

It was all over so quickly but such a great time.

This past week I've been busy with my dressmaking.  I'm definitely growing in confidence now and enjoying the process more rather than just finding it stressful all the time.

I made a practice dress for a pattern I had recently acquired- McCall's M7116, using a bedsheet in a lovely aubergine colour - I made view B.

I liked the style of the dress, it's different to the usual dresses I make but there were a number of issues that I wasn't happy with.  The sleeves were rather short, the bodice also too short and the neck too wide.  I think I could probably address these issues without too much difficulty but in the end I went out and bought a new pattern that is more to my taste in style - Newlook 6262.  I particularly like view B with the short sleeves (shown in yellow on the pattern envelope) - all my dresses so far have been sleeveless.

I didn't feel I needed to make a full practice dress but I did want to have a go at fitting the sleeves, so I used some leftover sheet and I'm so glad I did.  The sleeve went in no problem, but the neckline was surprisingly high and uncomfortable.  I altered the pattern to lower the neck and now I have a dress that it very comfortable to wear.

The fabric is from my stash, bought sometime last year and it's so pretty and very summery.

So happy happy happy.  I have three more dress lengths of fabric in my stash so now that I'm on a roll with the sewing I'm hoping to have some lovely additions to my wardrobe.

I could do with knitting up a light coloured cardigan to go with the summery dress, but instead I've just finished a navy coloured cardi.  It's just a plain cropped style - my favourite and it goes well with a number of dresses I wear a lot, which is why I made it.

Please excuse the bad photographs -
they were taken in the hotel room by my husband !!
I don't have enough light coloured wool in my stash to make a plain cardigan and as I'm on a yarn diet, I'm restricted to knitting from stash.  I reckon I have two more cardigans worth of stash knitting to get out of the way and then I'm going to treat myself to some nice cream wool.  Looking forward to that.

As I find it almost impossible to not use up every scrap of yarn, I've made six more little sock yarn sweaters to add to my bunting.

So that's what I've been up to.  I'm planning on spending the rest of the bank holiday weekend working on my Mandala Madness blanket which hasn't been shown any love for some time.  I'll also be catching up on all the sporting events that are happening this weekend on the television.  A nice relaxing few days ahead of me.  I hope plenty of relaxation comes your way too.  Bye for now.

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

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

pic from

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.