Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I Miss Woolworths : (

Today we started the ritual of Getting Down The Christmas Decorations and the all important Test Of The Lights. The lights didn't then starts the ritual of Testing Each Light and Checking The Fuses...lots of grunting and clucking noises from DH...still no joy. It seems several of our lights need new bulbs.

Off we go trawling around ASDA to look for new bulbs, but our local one doesn't sell bulbs. They do, however, sell Christmas Tree light sets at 100 lights of £4 so, after a hasty discussion, we think that maybe it might be easier to just start afresh with new lights......BUT our ASDA only sells sets of white lights, not the pretty coloured ones we have had at home for 10+ years so.......

Off to the local electrical shop who sells bulbs, lots of bulbs for lots of types of Christmas Tree lights, but not our obsolete ones. Nor can we find anywhere local where they sell pretty strings of coloured lights for indoor use, or those foil decorations for hanging from the ceiling.......When Woolies were around I was guaranteed to find every ornament and light I wanted in any shape or form : (

So we are improvising with Holly from the allotment, and Ivy from the back of our garden.

Bah Humbug!!!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Its that time of the year when I have loads of knitting to show, but cant do it because the recipients may see them here or on Ravelry......

Roll on January!!!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Something Old...Something New.......

Something Old and wrecked....

Some thing shiny and new and not borrowed and definately Airforce Blue!!!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

New tree and new-ish tree

We needed an new apple tree for our allotment. There was an open day at Ryton Organic centre last month and they were doing an apple tasting and showing lots of organic trees, so we went.

After much munching - purely for research purposes - we settled on a lovely eating apple called Red Devil. We picked it up a few days a go, and have now planted it:
It wont be ready to produce eatable fruit for a couple of years, but they are worth waiting for and we are keeping a heritage variety going at the same time.

Last year we bought a heritage crab apple tree. It is still very small, but, as you can see below, it has started to produce fruit already!!

I love our allotment : )

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mutant Flowers

Last year we had red nasturtiums and yellow nasturtiums........this year we have stripey ones too!!!!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mitten Time

These are 2 pairs of bog standard mittens made on 2 needles. I finished them last night. The yarn is Artesano Alpaca inca cloud DK and I used 65g for each pair.
The pattern is Wendy DK 4008 and the mittens are adult sized for me and DS.

I'm feeling grumply today...lots of little things going wrong, nothing major, but irritating. It seems I can cope with major stuff like the car, but the daily niggles get to me. Especially when 99% of them seem to be avoidable if people just thought ahead, or thought of others when making their plans and decisions.
Hot, sweet tea...I need you !!!
Now I have nothing on my needles and should be thinking of what to knit next, but the black pit of depression beckons me and 'cant be bothered' is taking over.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fried Brains

Today my brains feel fried and I am lost for words verbally. We have spent 2 whole days going around Car dealerships and talking a bout cars. We have to have Citroen Berlingo because it is the only vehicle in existence which will carry a continuo organ, plus all 3 of us, plus has a seat low enough for DH to see out the windscreen, and is the right price bracket.

Knowing exactly what we want should be easy - right??? WRONG. We have 3 dealerships in the vicinity. All offer different prices, none of them seem capable of cutting the bull**it and actually discussing figures, none of them can answer a straightforward question and ALL of them are pushing extras and add-ons despite being told our specific requirements.

Its like going to the Supermarket for cheese and no-one will tell you the price without an hour long discussion. None of the car salesmen seem able to get out of the sales pitch loop so we have to sit there while they go through the presentations.

They also seem to be incapable of understanding words like - NO FRILLS, CASH PURCHASE, and WE NEED AN ACCURATE DELIVERY DATE PLEASE.

This morning, 25 miles from home, we actually found a salesman who cut out the cr*p. He did exactly what we asked, got the accurate prices we needed, found the model we want in the colour we want, and bypassed the PowerPoint presentations.

We bought the car from him.....after 2 wasted days. Why couldn't the other salesmen have been direct and helpful? It seems salesman training is still firmly rooted in the 70's before we could do our own research on the Internet.........and I wont even go into the salesman who quoted £1000 more than the book price, insisting his price was the book price, then offered a a £1000 'discount' salespeople really think the public are that stupid!!!

On a positive note, I have started spinning my Safflower and it is lovely : ) Spinning is great therapy and I'm sure it is stopping me throttling salespeople LOL

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Cosmic Karma & Premium Bonds

OK, yesterday and Thurs were a disaster but today the vet gave my puddy-tat the all clear from her injuries in a dog/cat fight and I won some money on the Premium Bonds........

I accept that a £25 win isnt going to buy a new car, but it will buy some fibre therapy...

And 1 of the fish died so we are down to 3 now. Isnt cosmic karma wonderful, the chaos theory is my reality LOL

PS The new windows we ordered arrived and they are all too small - not our mistake but more hassle. Where is my duvet??

And it is so windy here I swear I just saw Mary Poppins fly past, but the sun is shining and the rain last night has made all the late blooming flowers sparkle : )

And we took DS out last night in the hire van and all had a lovely meal and a good (if slightly hysterical) giggle later watching HIGNFY and the other comedy programme that come after which I cant remember the name of.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Car Crash!!

Yep, the title says it all. Last night DH and DS were travelling to Leamington at 5.30pm and were in a collision with another vehicle. No-one was hurt, thank God, but both the other car and our car have been wrecked : (

DH managed to coax the car home somehow, it took ages as the radiator was cracked and we had to stop every 3 or 4 miles to fill it up with more water. The garage today said it would cost £3,500 to repair it and, as it has done 170,000 miles and is rather old, we arent going to even try. The insurance only covers third party, fire and theft so no joy there either. The chassis is twisted and the engine block cracked etc.

Next time I am going for fully comprehensive cover.

Anyone know of a Citroen Berlingo diesel going cheaply second hand?????

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Misleading Tension

Some of you may remember I was making a Forest Canopy Shawl. I did my tension square on 4mm needles as instructed and it was OK. I knitted the shawl and did 12 pattern repeats and 10 edging rows. Alarm bells started to tinkle when I realised I had only used 60g of Opal sock wool. They positively clanged when I looked at it and realised how small it seemed. I looked on Ravelry and everyone extolled the wonders of blocking - so I blocked it for all it was worth.

The result wasn't a Forest Canopy - more of a Thicket or Copse. It isn't even big enough for a headscarf.

So, after much musing and head scratching and unladylike language, I measure my tension on the shawl and it was 28 sts x 38 rows to 4" - much, much smaller than my tension square!!

After more thought I realised that my tension on 4mm Addi lace circular needles must be different to tension on the 4mm straight needles I used for my tension square. I went back and did another tension square using the circs and it was very different. I then did a tension square on dpn's and, lo and behold, my tension was different again. I have now frogged the shawl and will start again making a tension square on circs this time.

The moral of this story is: I must always do my tension square on the actual needles I will be using as different types of needles give different results.

On a positive note though, I have finished my spindle spun Alpaca. It weighs 100g and measures 350 yards - maybe I should use it for another Forest Canopy??????

Monday, November 2, 2009

Not Just Bread

Having watched various programs highlighting the horrors of commercial bread (emulsifiers, flour improvers etc) I thought it was about time I made my own.

I looked at Breadmakers, but they can only be used with yeast sachets containing flour improvers, and I want a natural loaf using ingredients that have been tried and tested for hundreds of years, so that ruled breadmakers out.

Then I looked at flour and discovered how the steel grinding method destroys so many vital vitamins in the flour, so I needed to find a supplier of stoneground flour which didn't cost the earth.

That lead me to Shipton Mill organic stoneground flour made from wheat grown in the UK. The price is competitive and they deliver.

Then I considered the time factor. It takes hours to make bread apparently.......well, it doesnt. It took no more time to mix and knead my loaves than it does to load my washing machine. The actual proving time is spent doing other things, just as I do other things while my washing machine is working. The knocking back took 5 mins and my oven was only on for 40 mins, 10 mins to warm up and 30 mins cooking time.

So 2 weeks after my inital decision to make my own bread, here we have traditional home made bread, no additives or extra chemicals. No machinery needed, not even a food mixer or processor. Just flour, Allinsons natural dried yeast, water, sugar and salt. The only equiptment needed is a bowl, scales, a teaspoon, a jug and a knife for slicing the cross on the top of the loaf (optional) and 2 baking trays. And it tastes fantastic too!!!

Meanwhile, during the first proving of my bread, I plied the Alpaca:

And whilst it proved the second time, I finished off the Belfalas merino and labelled it ready to put away for a special project.

All in all, a pretty good morning!!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Michelangelo reincarnated???

OK, maybe I'm going a bit far by mentioning Michelangelo and my son in the same sentence but......below is my 14 year old sons first assignment for his GCSE Art class, in pencil:
I may be a doting mother, but I'm impressed!!! My latest creation is a Forest Canopy Shawl in solid powder blue Opal sock yarn. Its my first attempt at lacework of this magnitude and so far, its working out OK

And finally, if either of my daughters are reading this - cue the giggles. I have finally managed to drag DH into Curry and bought us a 26" LCD digital, HD ready TV. This is a momentous event as it took months to persuade him, 10 years ago, that we needed a TV which used a remote and didn't have a fuzzy screen. This time is took weeks of banging the sides of the old TV when the sound kept cutting out - but he gave in and we have now entered the 21st Century LOL

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Boys, Germs and the colour Blue

My DS is poorly. For 3 days now he has coughed and snivelled and I think he has finally had enough.......he has taken to hiding under his quilt!!!! It isnt the dreaded swine flu however, just a cold.

The last tiny bit of Belfalas is ready to spin - then the joy of plying : ) I think I need 3 hands for plying LOL
And this is waiting in the wings. It is 100% Alpaca and I have 120g of it. I have spun 90g on my spindle and just have this 30g to do before that too can be plied : )

Knitting seems to be taking a back seat at the moment - I love this spinning lark too much : )

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Introducing Ebony Cat

I managed to take a photo of my elusive black cat. He usually moves whenever I point a camera at him. His name is Ebony and he is 9 years old now. His eyes are a deep green, but the photo doesn't show them very well. We got him from the PDSA, along with his sister Rowan, when they were 10 weeks old. He is very loving, has a loud purr and dribbles when I stroke him : )
Unfortunately he hasn't got the hang of catching mice etc yet and I don't hold out any hope that he will. A few nights a go a mouse wandered across our hall and lounge and disappeared into the cupbard under the stairs - and he just looked at it with a confused expression on his face!!

Hopefully I may get a photo of Rowan (a tortoiseshell) soon.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Socks and Spinning

I finished by socks in Regia Hand-dyed effect yarn and they are beautiful. Having worn the said socks twice now, I wouldn't recommend this yarn for socks!! On the plus side,the yarn is very soft and drapes beautifully and has the most fantastic colours in it. Unfortunately these same qualities make it pill like crazy and the rib is all floppy because there isn't enough elasticity in this yarn. I know its not the fault of the pattern because I have used this pattern successfully many times before.

The verdict: A wonderful yarn for shawls etc, but not for anything requiring elasticity or strength. Meanwhile, I have been getting adventurous with my wheel and am spinning colours!!! This is Belfalas Superwash Merino from Freyalyn and is very soft and well dyed with no white bits where dye has been missed. I love Freyalyn's work : )
Finally: My first wheelspun is finished. I have it hung up by my wheel for drooling and petting purposes at the moment. It may become some mittens.......but it may not LOL

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October Special Offer

Until the end of October we are offering free postage within the UK on our swifts to members of Ravelry.

The full details are HERE

Happy Autumn : )

Monday, September 28, 2009

Musical Hands Need Mittens

My son is nearly 15 years old now and has very definate ideas of what is cool, and what is not. I was pleasantly surprised last week when he asked if I could knit him some new mittens for Winter as his old ones are now too small. He is funny about his hands, he doesnt like them to get cold, or dirty, and is sensitive to the way things feel. If something feels 'wrong' then wild horses wont get him to touch them again.

After a trip into the loft AKA the stash room, he decided on Artesano Alpaca Inca Cloud DK. The actual colour is a mossy green, but I couldnt get my camera to play nicely today:

I used a very old Wendy pattern from the 80's which is still for sale nowadays. Very simple, very quick, and done on 2 straight needles. I only used 65g in total so value for money too : ) Number 1 Son loves them (at least, he smiled and grunted in an approving way) and has happy, cosy hands again.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Spinning, Socks & Summer's end

I have started some more socks for me. I just couldn't face another pair of giant socks for DH, so its my turn. They will be basic ankle socks, nothing fancy as the yarn is so beautiful I think a pattern would spoil it. The yarn is Regia Hand-dye Effect from Get Knitted in colourway 6556.

I have also spun my first bobbin on my Elizabeth. It is really exciting to have got so far and now I am looking forward to doing my second bobbin and attempting plying. I have a blister on my 1st finger and thumb where I have been holding the yarn too tightly when drafting. I am gradually learning to let go a bit LOL and a friend is giving me a one-on-one lesson tonight which I am looking forward to : )
Autumn seems to have definitely arrived, so I leave you with a photo of the last of my Dahlias and a view of the Cherry tree at the bottom of my garden in all its Autumn splendour.

Friday, September 18, 2009

My Spinning Wheel

I have a spinning wheel - I HAVE A SPINNING WHEEL I CAN USE Yippee!!! OK, I know I'm shouting etc but I am so happy : )

My wheel is an Ashford Elizabeth 2 and she has ball bearings in the wheel so treadling is simply, a mere flick of the foot and round she goes. No strain, pain or effort involved. We finally finished sanding, waxing and assembling her last night so today I had a go.

And below is the result:

The wheel came with a £25 fibre vouchers so I bought nearly 2 kgs of undyed shetland tops to practice with. I have her set up for scotch tension at the moment. Having become proficient with a spindle over the last 2 years has really helped with getting my foot and hands co-ordinated I think.
On the walking front, I think I am also making progress. I can now walk half a mile at a time before I need to rest. Yes, it still hurts and is very tiring and I have to get cross with myself to make myself keep going............but I am not giving in and becoming more and more housebound just yet. Where there is life and strength I am keeping and reclaiming my mobility for as long as I can.
PS I now have skirting board and proper electrical sockets at home too - no more extension leads snaking around the floor : )
I hope to have the energy to resume my knitting groups soon instead of flaking out at 7 pm, but walking properly before Winter sets in comes first and everything else (including housework) must take second place. Once I can walk a mile, I can get to the gym and swimming pool and get strong in all my muscles, which can only be a good thing for all other activities.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Wedding

My eldest daughter got married yesterday at Kenilworth Castle. Here is a photo of yours truly with my 3 beautiful children : )

And the bridge and groom:

It was a lovely sunny day and the venue was breathtaking. The ceremony was held at the gatehouse at 4pm so, by the time we ventured out afterwards, the grounds had closed to the public and we had the whole castle to ourselves for the rest of the evening. Glasses of chilled Pimms at the Elizabethan Knot Garden as the sun goes down is not to be missed!!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

New Spinning Wheel

This photo sums up how I feel right now:

Sort of serene and dreamy and very warm and contented inside. If I were a cat I would be purring now : )

I have just ordered my first spinning wheel - and Ashford Elizabeth 2 from Wingham Wool Works .
The wheel comes with a £25 fibre voucher so I have ordered nearly 2kgs of Shetland white tops to learn with. A very kind friend who lives nearby is going to show me the basics. I am so thrilled because I didnt think this could happen. I tried several at Woolfest and the ball bearings on the Elizabeth made treadling easy for me. I was supposed to wait until December as my birthday and christmas are close together understand I just couldnt????
PS The photo was taken by my son at Woolfest. It is the view outside our bedroom window in the B & B on the second night.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Goin' Quilting

I am sooo happy. On Wednesday I am off quilting for 5 days with a group of fellow quilters in Leicester. I will have 5 days of peace, no housework, no phone, no internet - nothing. Just me, my sewing and about 40 other quilters for company.


PS This is the link to all the details if anyone fancies coming some time: Quilting retreat

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Not Woolfest-ing

This is what DH, DS & I were doing up in Cumbria when we were not browsing around Woolfest or having a great time on the campsite with other fiber-loving people:

The men-folk were canoeing on the local lake whilst I sat in a comfy picnic chair by the lakeside knitting. While I was there I met 3 ladies who were walking past. They saw me knitting and said hello. It turned out that they were from the Medway Guild of WD&S and were here for Woolfest. We had a lovely chat about wooly things and duck calling : )

Saturday, July 4, 2009

More Socks & A Cardigan.

I made another pair of socks for DH's size 13 feet. I really enjoy knitting these. There are so many plain rows that they are idea as a project to take anywhere or knit while I am watching TV. DH is also very appreciative of them so that is a plus too : )

I have finished my latest project, a Cardigan in DK for me. I altered this pattern a bit by using 4.5mm needles and changing the shaping of the body. In the pattern there is a shaped body starting with rib but I did double moss stitch for the bottom border and then continued straight to the yoke shaping. I also altered the sleeves to make them taper all the way up instead of straight to the elbow and I put a double moss stitch border at the wrists too.

I used Cascade 220 and found that my tension was too tight on 4mm needles and it didn't drape very well, so I switched to 4.5mm needles and made a smaller size. Iso had to make the body and sleeves 3" shorter than the pattern......small, me????? No way, these patterns are designed for giants LOL

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Taking a Break

Normal blogging service will resume after Wimbledon....and the heatwave : )

Friday, May 29, 2009

Spinning Frustration

WARNING: Self pitying whinge in progress!!!

OK, I am feeling very sorry for myself because I cant spin on a wheel. My ankles wont let me (long boring medical story) and it just isnt FAIR!!! Stamping feet and pouting are going on here. I am off to Woolfest and I will have to ogle all these lovely wheel, shake my head sadly and walk away (with my stick in my hand)

I love the way wheels look, the faint whirring sound they make, the feel of the wood, everything - but I cant use one.

I dont want an electric one (adopt whiny tired toddler voice here) I dont want a Charkha (been there, tried that, the spindles are too small and the ratios too high)

I feel a serious sulk coming on to get it out of my system before the spin-in where I will be surrounded by wonderful wheels and - even worse - people SPINNING with them.

I love my spindles and can (and do) use them everywhere, but DAMMITT - I WANT A WHEEL TOO!!!

OK, and relax, breathe and think of your blessings woman - rant/whinge over.............thanks for listening LOL

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Fabric Stashing - again

Sorry for the delay, life got in the way of me posting this LOL. These are the fabrics I bought at the Malvern Quilt show last week. They are all Oakshott fabrics

All of the above fabrics are 1 metre lengths.

These are packs of fat eighths.
I enjoy using plain and marbled fabrics to highlight the patterned ones, but these are uniquely different. They are woven using mercerised cotton which gives them a sheen like silk. The weft is a different shade to the warp which then appears as a two-toned material. This gives life and depth to the fabric instead of the 'flat' look of true plain cottons. The new range shown here had its debut last week and is called 'Gemstones' and they truly have the shine of opals or jet.
I am going to enjoy using them, along with the free patterns I was given. I have favourited their website so I can order some more online if I 'need' too.
My only other purchase was the new quilting book by Pam & Nicky Linnot called Layer Cake, Jelly Roll & Charm Quilts. The authors were signing the books on their stall so I was able to get a signed copy. I have several jelly rolls already so I am looking forward to using them in the Summer : )

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Malvern Quilt Show part 2

I thought this applique cockerel was such fun. It is a wall hanging.
I have weakness for hand quilting on a plain background and applique and this one combines the two beautifully. I love the colourscheme too.
This is a colour combination I would never have thought of, and it works wonderfully. The photo doesnt do justice to the depth of colour in the original.

This is a close up of some of the hand quilting on display:

And this is the whole quilt:

The last one is of appliqued trees and the detail is breathtaking:

Tomorrow I will show what I bought : )

Friday, May 15, 2009

Malvern Quilt Show part 1

Yesterday DH and I went to the Malvern Quilt Show. It was a fabulous day out, the weather was good too, and I thought I would show you a few of the quilts that took my eye. First up is this wonderful quilt which was foundation pieced and aplliqued. I love the colours on this one and the attention to detail was phenominal.

I love this quilt because it is interesting and pretty without being fussy. All the elements here were foundation pieced with no painting or other non-sewing tricks used. Just plain old hard work and excellent piecing skills.
Finally for today is this one. The colours spoke to me, the hand quilting was even and elegant and the piecing of the blocks was perfect.

Not that I envy their skill you understand ; )
More tomorrow when blogger is behaving a bit better.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My New Cardigan

I have nearly finished a cardigan for me. Its this one: Escape 9078 but I am making it in Cascade 220 on 4.5mm nedles and have modified the edgeing on the sleves, front and back and completely re-worked the sleeve shaping. Its nice to be knitting again, and double nice to be knitting something for me : )