Wednesday, 18 January 2017

January

Happy New Year dear friends and readers!

Is it really half way through January already ? Christmas seems like a long time ago now, though this is my first post since then. Actually my first post since November, not sure what happened there, just everyday life I suppose.

There's not a lot to report here, Christmas was lovely, quite a quiet one, and we spent it in our holiday house in Donaghadee. 


Even though it was a bit damp and grey I love that place so much, the scenery is just as stunning in the winter as it is in summer. I feel so relaxed whilst I'm there and I think a fair part of that is that it's so removed from school related stuff - uniforms, PE kits, letters, money, lunches, taxi service to clubs, and of course the dreaded homework. Father Christmas was good to us all, including Pixie who got her own Christmas jumper ....



A particular highlight for me was participating in Cancer Focus NI's charity "Dare to Dip" - a New Year's Day swim in the Irish Sea. Brrrrrrr!!!!! Bracing!!!!!

Before .... Cold and very windy ....



During ... I'm in the middle, just behind and to the right of the man in the Santa hat, wading back out and yes I did dive fully in ....



After .... even colder, couldn't actually feel my feet at all!



Great fun though, and a fabulous way to kick off the New Year. And a week later this arrived in the post .... unexpected and a lovely surprise....



Back on the home-front in Reading It's been oh so cold this week. Well, cold for us anyway, with the temperature hovering around freezing. I am training for the London Marathon again this year having had to pull out last year, and should be running, but I'm being a very bad runner and wimping out of it these cold mornings. Ah well there's always tomorrow ....



I did manage a lovely 5 mile walk with a friend last week when it was a bit milder, we walked round a local country park, lots of geese and swans were in residence. 





We went for a cuppa afterwards and since Pixie was with us we sat outside ....



.... and were joined by this wee fellow who clearly thought he was in with a chance of some crumbs ....



On the craft front I've got, as usual, a million things on the go at once .... cross stitch, tapestry, crochet .... Shall I go on ?!


I bought this tapestry kit years ago, actually it may even have been a gift, isn't that terrible, I can't really remember. I took a notion the other night to start on it as I was in need of something that would work up quickly. I haven't done a tapestry thingy since I was about 9, and I'd forgotten how easy it is - no screwing up my eyes for this one (see below!). It's going a bit twisty because I don't have a frame to stretch it over, but I'm sure it'll be fine. I am not getting a frame. I do not need one. I must not buy one. Remind I said that if I ever suggest it please.

On the subject of screwing up one's eyes, hubby won't let me have more lights on in the evening and I'm fed up being unable to see to sew or crochet properly by the light of one pathetic table lamp. So I dug out my running head torch .... I may look like a loon but at least I can see what I'm doing.



The cross-stitch that I'm working in is even older than the tapestry. My Mum gave me it for Christmas in 1999, the pictures are celebrating various events etc from the last 1000 years from the Battle of Hastings in 1066 to the Space Shuttle in 1981. So I've had this kit for 17 years - oh dear! And look how much I've done - hardly anything! So I've decided to just plod on with it a little a week and eventually it will get done, hopefully before the next millennium.



And the final work in progress that I wanted to show you is my autumn blanket. I started this in October 2014 so we are now on the other side of 3 autumns and it's still not finished! I'd forgotten how much I love the colours though, so I'm really enjoying working on this. I'm probably about halfway there on it, so still a ways to go but again I'll just keep chipping away at it and who knows, one of these days I might actually finish something....



Right, I'm off now to start something else - I promise to have it finished before my next post, and I promise that will be before the end of January. Fingers crossed anyway πŸ˜ƒ

Til next time,
Jill xxxx

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Happy Week

Hello dear friends, I hope you're having a lovely week - I most definitely am and have lots of lovely things to share with you :)

Yesterday my doorbell rang in the middle of the day - this is a rare occurrence as the only person ever to arrive unexpectedly is the postman and he always leaves parcels in the porch and never really rings the bell. Anyway I opened the door and was greeted by a lady holding a delivery of a gorgeous bouquet of flowers! Wow! And look, see, aren't they gorgeous .... such happy pretty colours :) 


... beautifully presented in a little spotty hessian bag. Flowers in a spotty. hessian. bag. Does it get any better than that ???!


So I bet you're wondering who they were from ? No, not Mr EC, and sadly not Bradley Cooper either (though - swoon - ), but from my lovely very sweet goddaughter/cousin. I'd seen her on Saturday (more on that in a bit) and mentioned I'd had a bad couple of days last week (autistic child related), so she sent me these to cheer me up :) Soooo thoughtful of her. We are very close, my cousin and I, though she is a good 16 years younger than me. Her Mum (my Auntie) is my godmother, so my Auntie chose me to be my cousin's godmother. I then chose my cousin to be godmother to Little Miss (are you keeping up), and if/when Lovely Cousin/Goddaughter has a baby she has said Little Miss will be godmother. In fact Lovely Cousin/Goddaughter is getting married next year and Little Miss is to be bridesmaid. When my Auntie got married, I was bridesmaid, then when I got married my Lovely Cousin/Goddaughter was bridesmaid, and now Little Miss is being my Lovely Cousin/Goddaughter's bridesmaid. Did you get all that ? I'll be asking quesions later ..... LOL


So the reason I had seen her on Saturday - I drove up to Abingdon (near Oxford and about an hour from where I live) to visit her and to go for afternoon tea and shopping :) We went to this really quaint little tearoom in Abingdon called Rosie's. It was really tiny, only about 6 tables and yet one of the tabes had a family round it with their little baby and associated buggy - how they got in and out still escapes me - and in the middle of proceedings the waitress came out with a little cake with one candle on it, and the whole place sang Happy Burthday To You to the baby - it was his first birthday ! Soooo cute! It felt like a very special moment to share in such an initmate little cafe.


Anyway, back to the afternoon tea. Lovely thick granary bread with smoked salmon and cream cheese. Still warm scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam. Coffee and walnut cake with walnuts all through the cake and not just on top. A large pot of English Breakfast Tea. Ooooo it was soooooo yummy. Really really good. I wish you all could have tasted just how good it all was, especially the cake - yum. We followed up with a wander round the shops, and I managed a few bits and pieces for the Little Peeps for Christmas, and also for the dog :)

I also treated myself to a few magazines. You all know I have an out-of-control a very small magazine addiction, and Christmas time brings out the worst in it. A couple of craft magazines, and good old Country Living. Leafing through the glossy pages you can't help but feel festive :)


I love all their sort of vignettes - I mean who wouldn't want their front door to look like this ....


.... instead mine has a half dead (okay mostly dead) pot plant, some stinky trainers, a load of dead leaves and cobwebs, and a recycling bin. I'd much rather have a log-store and a little wooden table of cuteness! Ah well, I can dream... (well actually I could get off my backside and spruce it up a bit ... another job for the to-do-list).

I've been sighing at all natural look crafts and decorations, I am not a minimalist and I do love a bit of sticks and paper and stuff .... might need to give the twig star a go ....


.... and I am DEFINITELY trying out this recipe. You know when you eat an orange and you chuck the peel away and it feels like a waste, well now you can use them to make sweetie things - candied peel I guess - eco friendly and tasty - everyone's a winner. To be honest it seems a bit of a faff but I reckon just the smell alone will make it worth while ..... lots of boiling of orange peel and sugar ... heavenly....


Country Living also comes with a "Christmas Calendar - Your Day-by-Day Guide to the Festive Season". Some "tasks" are really lovely but not in a million years could anyone, not even the likes of Kirsty Allsop, manage everything. Things like "Homemade Crackers" and "Dress Your Windows" probably won't happen here , but at least I will manage to "Decorate the Tree". Oh look, I've just noticed that I've picked another photo with a log-store. Hmmm ....


The other thing I picked up was a pot of hyacinth bulbs, just at the sprouting stage. They were in a basket thingy but I repotted them into a little spotty red bowl, to match the vase they are sitting next to. And if you look closely you can see my reflection in the vase LOL


And my final little bit of happy this week comes in the form of some Christmas colouring. I think everyone should by law do some colouring every day. Its so therapeutic to sit down, clear the mind and just be still and quiet with a colouring pencil or two. Bliss.


Thats all from me for now, I hope you are all having happy weeks too.

Til next time,
Jill
xxxxxxx

Friday, 18 November 2016

Five on Friday

Hello dear friends and readers 😊 Big hello to my new readers - and thank you all for visiting.

Today I am joining in with Amy of Love Made My Home with Five on Friday - thankyou Amy for hosting.
I've been meaning to do Five on Friday every week but I always seem to forget and only remember on Sunday evening. I know I could schedule a post but that would be far too organised.
Somehow I managed to remember today though, so here are five yarny things making me happy this week...

πŸ’› mostly monochrome ripples on a blanket for my Mum for her birthday. I'll show you more of it once it's finished - which will be before Friday as I'm flying over to NIreland then, it's her first birthday without my Dad, so it feels like an important one to be there for her.



πŸ’™ massive delivery of scrummy yummy yarn, I have 3 mermaid blankets to make for customers, I'm going to be one busy hooker before Christmas!



πŸ’š I found this yarn in a clearance sale a few weeks ago, with around 75% off. Clearly I had to buy it. Would have been rude not to. I've started a scarf with it but I'm not sure if I'm loving it that much, so it may get frogged and used for a more open work shawl type thing. I do love the colours though, very autumnal.



πŸ’œ I've been making a hat and bootees for a friend's new baby. Can you believe I've never made bootees before? New born baby sized are blooming fiddly. Not sure I'll make more again in a hurry. The hat's not quite finished, in case you're wondering why it's looking like more of a skullcap at the moment.



The patterns are from this book ....



❤️ I made this scarf from Simply Crochet issue 50, I'll share more pictures another time. I made it simply because I had a massive 500g ball of aran yarn in the exact colour of the picture in the magazine. The pattern recommends doing the pom poms first in case you run out of wool, but I am not one to heed advice, oh no, I much prefer to rush headlong into things. And then ... you guessed it .... I ran out of wool for the pompoms. So my scarf is pompomless. But I love it anyway ❤️



Hope you all have lovely weekends. 
Til next time,
Jillxxxxx

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Kya's Mermaid Tail

Hello dear friends and readers πŸ˜€

There's a new craze if you're a young girl, or if you're an old one too really - and that is mermaid tail blankets. I've seen pictures of them all over the place from pinterest to ravelry, and on many many shopping sites, they seem to pop up everywhere.  I'd toyed with the idea of making one for Little Miss but never quite got round to it. You know how it is, life is busy and these things just stay somewhere near the end of the ever-lasting never-ending to-do list. I then was asked by a friend to make one for her 11 year old daughter for her birthday, and the colour scheme requested was "very girly, pink and purple". 


When friends ask me to make things, I always confidently go "Yeah! Of course! Absolutely! I can make that! No worries!" .... and then I go off and have a mild panic-attack "Oh my gosh I've no idea what I'm doing or how to do it or where to start, er better look at some pics online" and end up scrabbling around the internet to find a pattern or something. And this time the Internet came up trumps with this great freebie pattern from yarnutopia


The pattern called for chunky wool, and I think I mentioned in a previous post that I rushed out to buy some, and got started straight away. The only problem was I really wasn't liking how the chunky yarn was working out to this pattern, the blanket was really stiff and un-drapey. I do tend to crochet quite tightly so maybe I should have tried a bigger hook. As it was I was using a 6mm hook, and I find if I go bigger I just get more cramp in my hands. So I decided to ditch the chunky and start over in double-knit. So yes I had to rip out the 20 or so rows I'd done - sob! There is nothing more un-gratifying than ripping out work. Especially work where you've changed colour every row so you don't even get a nice decent sized ball of yarn, instead you get multiple annoying little ones.....


Anyway back to the blanket, and the double-knit with a 5mm hook came out really well. I used a purple, a pink, and a purpley-pink (original, huh?!). They're were all from my stash (hurrah!!!) and were various brands. One King Cole, one a strange Sue Ryder label from their charity shops (though the yarn they sell is new) and the pink one was labelless so who knows what brand that was. The pattern is a really simple shell pattern with a 2-row repeat, and I changed colour at the end of every row. I love how this gives it the effect of scales. 


The blanket is worked from the top down, in rows back and forth, and as you get to the bottom you join the sides together and begin to work in the round. Then do a few clever decreases thereby sort of gathering the end together, and this creates a little closed in section that you can tuck your feet into, so it's lovely and snuggly. The fin part is made completely separately, and sewn onto the main body at the end. As the pattern had called for chunky and instead I had used DK, I had to increase the number of starting chains, and work more rows, so I was winging it a bit, but it seemed to work out fine. What I then didn't think about was that of course then the fin would also need scaling up. To do this I just worked a border all around it for a few rows.


The last thing to do, other than sew in the ends - yawn - was to add a border around the open part of the blanket. You could opt to sew the back all the way up making a really long thin tail, a bit like a sleeping bag, but I think it's more flexible if you only have the small part at the end joined up, it's easier to get in and out of for a start, although I will grant you that the dressing-up possibilities may be slightly hampered. So, to get back to the border, I added a row of half-trebles all the way around.


And here it is all laid out. I wish you could have a go in it, it's super cuddly, perfect for a bit of TV-watching, or lazing on the sofa reading a book. Not that I ever get the chance to do that these days...


I adore how it turned out. As a pressie for an 11 year old I love everything about it, I'm really pleased with the colour combination I chose - and believe me I faffed about for ages with goodness how many shades of purple and pink - choosing colours is something I always find tricky - but I think these work well together. And I love how soft and drapey it is, just lovely to cuddle into with your teddy.


I have it on good authority that the birthday girl loves it tooπŸ˜€ Soon I'm going to make one for Little Miss, it's her birthday in about 6 weeks, and one for my friend for Christmas, yes she is grown-up but grown-ups lounge on the sofa too, don't they.

Til next time,
Jillxxxx










Sunday, 25 September 2016

Jack's Baby Blanket

One of my favourite things about a new baby (aside from the fact that it was someone else who had to go through the whole pregnancy and birth thing, and the new born cuddles and the basic miracle of life) is the opportunity to crochet a blanket! Yay! This time the blanket is for my friend's new baby, Jack. My friend is a very close friend, she was one of my bridesmaids, and her husband (then fiancΓ©) was one of our Best Men (we had two!).



I've seen a lot of star blankets around, and I reckoned one of my million magazines must have a pattern for one, so I spent some time leafing through them (SUCH a chore lol) and found one in this magazine .....



It's really more of a book - perhaps a bookazine ? - but made by the same people who make Inside Crochet. They had this pattern for a 12 pointed star blanket, called the Celeste Nursery Blanket.


It was a fun make and easy make, the pattern is basically a ripple pattern but done in the round and increasing every row.


The original pattern had a large pompom on every point but I don't really agree with pompoms on baby things, so I decided to add a crochet trim that looks like mini pompoms. The pattern for the trim this one from Once Upon a Pink MoonOnce Upon A Pink Moon.


As you can see each mini-pompom is really just a popcorn/bobble style stitch, much safer for a baby.


The yarn was from my stash and was a mixture of random DK from different manufacturers, and I've chucked the labels away already so I can't tell you what they are, sorry.


I took some pictures outside today as the light inside is so poor.


But we had to come back in for a shot of the full thing, and that was an exercise in speed and efficiency as Pixie the puppy was desperately trying to keep the blanket for herself!


I'm looking forward to delivering the blanket to Jack and his Mummy this week, hope he likes it πŸ˜€

Til next time,
Jillxxxxxxxx




Friday, 23 September 2016

Five on Friday

Hello dear friends and readers πŸ˜€
Another Friday has rolled around and boy am I glad. A busy and very stressful week for me as you'll see when you read on. Today I am joining in with Five on Friday, hosted by Amy over at Love Made My Home . Here are 5 snippets of my week....

1. Major drama on Monday morning - I was out walking Pixie .... here she is on our walk ....


... and about 5 minutes later she bolted off, terrified by a (very nice, normal) lady, and managed to yank the lead out of my hand. She was then missing for the next 24 hours. It was horrendous. I couldn't find her at all, and after about an hour of searching I was in a real panic. I reported her missing to the vet, the dog warden, the pet shop, and posted on every facebook group you can imagine. My lovely friend made some posters and fliers with this picture of her, also taken that same morning .....


The help and support from the local community was amazing. I myself was looking in hedges and bushes until 10pm, in the day random people were letting me in their gardens and helping me look, loads of local dog walkers (most of whom I didn't know) came down to help, lots of friends, with their kids and husbands helped, and a dear friend brought me cups of tea. I searched and searched all around the local area for about 10 hours - my pedometer told me I'd walked 19km. Reluctantly I gave up at 10pm, it had been pouring for about 5 hours, I was drenched and couldn't see anything anyway. We left out a crate with blankets and water in case she tried to find her way back. As I was leaving another stranger approached me and said he was looking for her as he'd just seen one of the hundred or so leaflets I'd delivered. But I was so exhausted I had to go home. Of course our own children were dreadfully upset and none of us got much sleep.
Hubby got up about 5.30am and went to check the crate, but no sign of her. By 9am we'd got the children to school, hubby has gone off to work, and I'd just printed out a load more leaflets, and was getting ready to go up to where we lost her, with a disposable BBQ to cook some burgers (donated by another friend as I am veggie!) to see if the smell would lure her out, we were convinced she was hiding somewhere, terrified. I knew I'd look like a complete nutcase having a barbeque in the rain at 9am on a random pathway, but was going to give it a go anyway. Before I left the house my phone rang. It was a local dog walker - saying "I've got your dog" !!!!!  OH MY DAYS!! I have never been more relieved in my whole life. I raced out of the door to go and find them - and a few minutes later there she was !! We had a lovely, cuddly, licky reunion. Me and Pixie that is, not me and the man. Though I did give him a hug). And I'm trying to find out where he lives so I can buy him a bottle of whiskey or something.
She had been caught, tangled with her lead, deep in some bushes in a nearby field. The man's dog had found her and barked so madly that the man had gone to see what was wrong, and saw Pixie all caught up in the bushes. We think she had been out all night and had got herself so tangled she couldn't move. The man freed her and she soon perked up. She is absolutely fine now after her ordeal, although it might take me a bit longer. So stressful! Here she is having a snooze later that day....


So all's well that ends well!!

2. We've managed a few more walks this week and I've had the lead superglued to my hand. Everything is looking very autumnal - after all it was the equinox yesterday.


Lots of lovely berries around....


I love the colours in autumn, especially early autumn when the light is good.



3. More nature shots. This was the sky on our walk this morning, such a glorious blue sky, the sunshine is so good for the soul .....


 4. I've decided I really need to make more things from magazine patterns. As you all know I'm a magazine addict, and I do always have a tinge of guilt when I buy one. (Not enough of a twinge to not buy them though). So I spotted this little butterfly kit lying around, and found the magazine it came with - Simply Crochet issue 46.


About an hour later and I had 2 little butterflies, one fridge magnet, and one brooch ...



Aren't they cute ?


I'm thinking that making these would be a great way to use up yarn odds and ends. Little Miss has already requested some to decorate her bags. Oh and here is one of me wearing the brooch though the light and focus is terrible, sorry!



5. Finally here is a little sneak peek of Jack's baby blanket which I will be sharing in my next post.



That's it for now, hope you all have a fab weekend,
Til next time,
Jillxxxx