Friday, 8 January 2021

New Beginnings

Hello and  Happy New Year to you all !! I hope you had a calm and peaceful, relaxing one; we did. We spent the evening on a zoom call with 5 or 6 groups of friends, we played Countdown and bingo and had a quiz: very different from the usual party we go to, but lots of fun nonetheless. There was lots of laughter and plenty of bubbly.


Since New Year our weather has been very dry but cold and I've been doing lots of walking so I've decided to sign up for another 200km this month.

I've managed to get out for a walk pretty much every day, sometimes with Pixie, sometimes with hubby, sometimes with both, and sometimes with friends.


Often I walk past "spoonville", a little area where lots of local children have "planted" decorated wooden spoons. This initiative began during the first lockdown and continued to grow all through the summer months.


A lot of the spoons are looking a bit worse for wear after being there for so long - the elements have taken their toll - but a few are still looking at least a little decorated, including the rather resplendent Father Christmas, which is obviously quite a recent addition.


A local lady has put together a "gingerbread trail" for the children to follow, here's one of the gingerbread men - actually this one is a gingerbread girl ... the trail is made up of laminated mini-posters attached to lampposts. We also had a Halloween trail and a scarecrow trail last year.  I love that there is so much for the children to look out for to help get them outside with a purpose. 


There is also a house that I pass that has decorated its front tree with lot of hama bead decorations. The lady who lives there has made them for children (and some adults!) to spot whilst walking. They certainly brighten up the otherwise bleak landscape.
 


I say bleak landscape, but there are always bright splashes of colour to be found if you look hard enough.





And some houses still have outside Christmas decorations up, I particularly like this very wintery tree with its beautiful silver baubles...


Back indoors, my hyacinth plant is looking rather marvellous .....


The blooms are so massive I've had to string it up a bit and prop it up against the window to keep from falling over. It probably needed a bigger pot but I never got round to replanting it. I think it looks pretty amazing though  actually and it smells divine.

Meanwhile there is plenty of crafting going on. As is my usual style I have tons of projects on the go and am starting a couple of new ones too. I'm just about to start a year long needlework "blackwork" project. This is where you stitch a repeating pattern, traditionally in one strand of black embroidery floss, though this particular project has muted rainbow colours - how gorgeous will this be at the end of the year.... each block is a different colour and pattern, with the patterns being released weekly by peppermint purple.


I decided that I'd do this project from my stash, and not buy any new floss for it, so I had to delve into my little wooden embroidery floss box thingammy which I inherited from my friend's Mum.




It needs a bit of a sort out, though I was able to find all the colours I wanted to use.


The other new project I am starting is the Meadow Cal from Lucy at Attic24. The first section is being released today, so I'll be working on that over the weekend no doubt. Just look at those colours - gorgeous...


And finally Gaynor, who runs my local crochet group, the Barkham Hookers, is going to be doing a chunky poncho Cal which I'd like to have a go at as well. I don't have a link for that, but when I do I''ll share it with you. Its going to involve some serious stash diving as I have a lot less chunky yarn and have no idea where it is. It could get very messy ......


I'm still working on my stitchonomy SAL ... look at the little reindeer  aren't they so cute!


... and work continues on the Christmas cross-stitch. I rather suspect t will turn out to be an Easter cross-stitch though, what with all the other projects going on. I am very far from being a monogamous crafter.



My Triana Shawl is getting quite big now ...



... I'm onto the last skein of yarn, oh I can't tell you how excited I am to finish this one and get it blocked, its so soft and gorgeous.

Well, I'm just off for another wintry walk - its very very cold today and threatening to snow - it will only be a little I'm sure, but its trying !!

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend,
Jillxxxxx




Thursday, 31 December 2020

End of the Year

Today  is the last day of 2020, can you believe it? And what a year it has been. Who'd have thought, this time last year, what this year would bring, that this Christmas and New Year we'd be essentially still in lockdown, unable to meet many of our loved ones. Hard and strange times indeed.


But let's not dwell on that. This week, mostly spent at home apart from a few long walks, has been actually really lovely and relaxing. I've enjoyed the lack of pressure to be anywhere or do anything much, except crafting and walking - I completed my North Pole Challenge to walk 200km in December. 


I'm really chuffed to report that I did a 12km walk on Tuesday 29th completing the 200km well within the allotted time window :) This was a virtual challenge meaning I signed up online, completed the challenge in my own time at my own pace, and then later I will receive a medal in the post - sometime in January. I really feel I earned it (I enjoyed all of my walks, but rather a lot were undertaken in pouring rain or, at least, persistent drizzle) and I can't wait for my medal to arrive!


I've decided not to enter a January challenge, instead I have signed up for a "5 weeks to 5k" programme in order to get me running again, I used to run, and loved it, but putting on weight made it a lot more difficult. Now that I've shifted some of that weight I feel ready to get back to running - at least I think I do! Ask me again after the first run!!

I can also report that I have finished my  Attic24 Cottage Ripple Blanket - more on that in  my next post. But here's a sneak peek ...


My Stitchonomy stitch-along continues: part 3 - snowflakes - was released last night. 

It was all going very well until I realised I'd made one snowflake too narrow so of course I had to unpick a load of work and redo it. I'd love to be more relaxed about these kind of things but I just know they would always annoy me.


Oh, do you like my new needle minders ? Aren't they super-cute ?


I found them on ebay, from a little shop called Wood and Cat, I thought they were just adorable ....


I'm also progressing my Christmas cross-stitch - more snowflakes ....


... but now I have a decision to make. Should I keep on with this one, bearing in mind its only just over half-finished and is very obviously Christmassy, or do I store it away with all the other Christmas bits and pick it up again next year ? What do you think ? Also bear in mind I have umpteen other cross-stitch projects requiring my attention, including a new one that I received for Christmas, and one I started 20 years ago for the millenium !!!!

Meanwhile I have picked up another WIP to finish - the Triantan Shawl from issue 52 of Crochet Now ...


I'm using a gorgeous Amano Puna peruvian baby alpaca in a rusty red colour, its super soft, I'm really looking forward to the feel of it on my neck once finished. The pattern is a really simple 3-row repeat, even my tired old brain can keep up with it easily. I started it some months ago but it was cast aside in favour of something else, and then the work and the pattern got separated and the tired old brain forgot the pattern, so I had to wait until I found the pattern again before resuming!


Its working up very quickly though so I'm hoping to share another Ta Da with you shortly.


So how are you spending your New Year's Eve ? We will be on a zoom call with friends, doing a quiz and games night, including Countdown, Wheel of Fortune and Bingo! And lots of bubbly!

I wish you all a happy and peaceful New Year, may 2021 bring happier times for us all.
Jillxxxx

Monday, 28 December 2020

Twixmas

 Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you've all had a lovely few days.


Here we are in Twixmas - that strange in-limbo week between Christmas Day and New Year, when noone knows what day it is , what to eat when, what to wear or who they even are! Its Monday (though I had to double check that !!) the 28th, so 3 days after the Big Day. How was yours ???? Ours was pretty fabulously relaxing I have to say. I was awake with excitement (I'm such a big kid) at about 5am but held off actually getting up until about 8am, and then I had to waken the Not So Little People at 9. This was the first year that we didn't leave out a mince pie for Santa (sob!) but he came all the same and left a stocking for each of them, each of which was opened with gusto. We then exchanged our other presents and everyone seemed very happy with their little haul. I didn't take many photos at all on Christmas Day - just didn't think - but oh well, I've taken lots since.

Mr EC and the Little Peeps gave me lots of sausage dog gifts - including a hat and scarf - which I wore on Christmas morning on a beautifully crisp and festive dog walk. 


They also gave me an oven-glove, tea towel and apron - the latter of which I wore to cook Christmas lunch - with a glass of bubby of course - cheers!


I also got some new slippers from my mother-in-law, they have barely left my feet since, they are so cosy ...


 ..... and a lovely new vanilla candle, here it is next to the card she gave us - isn't it brilliant :)


One of my other favourite gifts was this little heart from my friend - I had assumed she'd made it, but she 'fessed up that she didn't - she did make me something but apparently it went wrong so she didn't want to give it to me, I'm dying to know what it was though! Anyway the heart has pride of place above the fireplace.



Another dear friend gave me this wonderfully personalised picture frame ....

All the little peg-words are things that are meaningful to us both and have kept us going and connected through lockdown and its various forms.... zoom calls, drinks in the garden, coffees, walking and so on. Such a thoughtful gift. :)

Speaking of walking, I am nearing the end of  my 200km North Pole Virtual Challenge, I've currently got 12 km to go! In my last post I mentioned I was going to walk the 9 mile round trip for a new crochet hook - well I did it - 16km in total, took me nearly 3 and a half hours and I was dead on my feet when I got home, but such a sense of achievement. Here are some pictures I took along the way ....







.... and I've since done a few more massive dog walks as well. Poor little Pixie doesn't know what to think ...



We saw Santa and Mrs Claus walking their dog ....


And sometimes we ended up at Costa for a cheeky takeaway ....

I saw a penny, picked it up and all day long I had good luck ....


So as I say, only 12km to go, and I'm hoping at most two more walks should do it :)

In crafty news I am still working on a Christmas sampler I started earlier in December ....


I'd like to try and finish it this week whilst its technically still Christmas time, but I fear it may be a bit of a tall order. I'm also doing a winter stitch-along with Stitchonomy. Free sign-ups are closed but you can join Alyssa's Pattern Club if you want to take part. She releases a new piece of the pattern every 3 days. Here's what I've done so far ...


As you can see it's stitched on turquoise aida. I've been cross-stitching for about 35 years but this is the first time I've ever used non-white aida. I love how it looks!


I'm also soooooo neeeeeearly finished my Attic24 cottage blanket ...... I've been working away every evening on it ....



... and have finished the main body and sewn in the ends .Oh the ends. There were sooooo many. Why don't I learn and do them as I go along ??


So now I'm working on the border ....


I can't wait to get it done, I think its going to be used to snuggle under on the sofa, its been years in the making as I've fallen in and out of love with it a few times. The man reason I want it done is that I have a new blanket kit all ready to begin - more on that in my next post :) 

And in between crochet and cross -stitch I've been reading "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng, it was a great read, very interesting exploring all the different mother-child relationships. It's also been made into a TV series which I then obviously had to watch too!


And so I've been putting in these days with lots of gentle crocheting, cross-stitching and reading ... and thoroughly enjoying every minute of it. It's so lovely to slow down and not have the usual frenzy of the school days and the bazilion emails that I seem to get every day. And we still have another week to go - hurrah!

Hope you are all having a lovely Twixmas week, see you next time, 

Jillxxxxx