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.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Enjoying the Sunshine

There are times when I feel that I devote too much attention to the weather - but I'm British and that's what we do.  So yesterday was gorgeous and unbelievably hot and sunny.  Yes, I should get outside and do some gardening.  Well I made it outside, but somehow the gardening just didn't happen.  It was far too nice to worry about gardening, instead I sat and read and did another row of knitting... and another.  So the gardening never got a look in.  But I did get my first suntan of the year!

Anyway, enough about the weather, let's move on to more important matters - knitting and crochet!

This week has been another productive week. I'm in such a good creative place at the moment, everything seems to be flowing along.  Firstly, the socks for April were finished. I used the yarn Grace bought me for my birthday.

I endeavour to try something new each month with my sock knitting.  It's just over a year since I started knitting a pair of socks each month and I feel I've still got so much to learn.  This month I was trying a new heel.  I find I'm drawn to toe-up knitting rather than cuff-down, so I'm trying to find a heel that works best for me with this method.  So these socks were knitted with a Fleegle heel.

And I must say I loved it.  It was a great heel to knit, I loved the process.  I'm not sure about the finished look of the heel yet.  I think I need to explore some more styles of heel before I settle on my perfect sock "recipe" but this is one that I will knit again.  You can see full details of this project on my Ravelry page here.

I've got the sewing machine out at the moment.  There's a dress in progress, but still a way to go with that.  I'm taking a leisurely approach to sewing it up so that it doesn't feel too stressful - it just means the dining room is littered with fabric and sewing patterns.  In between sewing the dress, I ran up a work-in-progress bag for one of the shawls I'm knitting at the moment using leftovers from last week's Dottie Angel dress.

I also found a sample of some crochet flowers I had made years ago that was hanging around, being idle, so I put it to use as an embellishment for the bag.

I should then have been concentrating on completing one of the two shawls that are on the needles, but there was a distraction!  And I blame Meredith - yes, you Meredith.  I sat drooling over your South Bay Shawlette and saw that you were making another one (and had got Lynne to join you).  How could I resist making another one myself.  It is a great pattern, so easy and it grows quickly.

 I had some lace weight yarn in my stash that needed some attention.  I knew it wasn't enough to make a full sized shawl, but there was still enough to make something of a decent size that would satisfy my South Bay Shawlette distraction.  And here it is.

It took two evenings to make and used up 27g of Regia Lace.  It's just the right size for a doll or Teddy Bear and I know just the bear who would appreciate it.  So I'm gifting it this weekend to someone's well-loved and cherished companion.

The squares for my crochet blanket were also completed this week.

I have 11 squares in total now, only 5 more to go to get the size of blanket I want.

So that's it for now.  The sun has come out again, so I'm off into the garden - to actually do some gardening this time.  Then later it will be back to the dressmaking and in-progress shawls.  (Actually yesterday I started a new crochet along for a blanket, but I'll tell you about that another time).  I hope the sun is shining for you.  Enjoy your week.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Floral Embellishment Pattern

Sometimes, you just have to sit yourself down and get on with things.  So that's what I did yesterday - pattern writing.  Not my favourite activity. I'd much rather be making, but these things have to be done - eventually.  There are a number of patterns waiting for attention, but I started with a gentle one, to ease myself into the job.

And here it is the Floral Embellishment crochet pattern.

You can use the motif to embellish all your crafty goodness.  The pattern can be downloaded directly, here, or you can access it via Ravelry and add it to your library.  As always this is a free pattern, because I love sharing with you all and it's great to give something back to the  knitting and crocheting community.

You will need scraps of DK weight yarn in four colours and a 3.5 mm (Size E) crochet hook.  Any weight of yarn woud work for the pattern but the size of your crochet hook would need to be adjusted.  The pattern is written using both UK and US crochet terms.  The pattern PDF contains photos for each step of the way and I hope that you enjoy the pattern.

Right, that's one pattern done, now I'm back to some knitting before I tackle the next one.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Waiting for the Warmer Weather

It's April, and don't you just feel that it should be a bit warmer outside?  Apart from one sunny day this week, I don't feel particularly drawn to the great outdoors yet.  I did venture out to eventually cut the grass for the first time this year - guilt had got the better of me, and it desperately needed doing.

So it's been a quiet indoors week (although I love the indoors and love the luxury of not having to venture out if I don't want to).  I'm hoping to get these socks off the needles today.

Aren't they lovely and colourful?

As part of my stash busting blitz, I gathered together all my bits of aran weight yarn and decided to make them up into a Sophie's Universe blanket.

The colours aren't very inspiring, but I don't knit with aran weight yarn very often, so I wanted to clear the stash completely of these pesky bits and pieces.

I didn't have enough to do a full Sophie's universe, you can see the one I made last year, here.  Instead I kept the central square shape and just added as many borders as I could.  I like the effect, the colour combinations work quite well, even the hot pink and bright red work well together - they give it a jewel-like colour scheme.

It's just the right size for a lap blanket. so I have it by my side on the sofa, ready to throw it over my legs when it goes chilly in the evenings.

So that's a very welcome reduction to the stash of 650g.

Last week I popped into Liverpool and bought some fabric to make up a "proper" version of the Dottie Angel Dress (you can see my prototype, bedsheet version, here).  From the prototype I had learned that the armholes on the pattern are quite deep, so I adjusted for this.  Also the point at which the ties are attached to the dress were a little high.  I needed to lower the point of attachment to allow for my more mature, gravity affected body!  This time I also wanted to make a two colour version.

And it all went well, I didn't bother with the patch pockets, but I did add pockets in the side seams.

This will be a lovely comfortable dress to wear, when (or maybe, if) the weather gets warmer.

I also bought more fabric for one of my other favourite dress patterns - because you can never go into a fabric and haberdashery shop and only buy what you went in for!  Maybe later this month I'll get started on that one.

For now, I'm back to my socks - and then there's the shawl, the cardigan, the crochet square etc etc etc.  Don't you just love being surrounded by so much craftiness!  Have a good weekend.