Sunday, 28 September 2014

I can resist everything but temptation...

I can resist everything but temptation and more yarn. I succumbed, and ordered the yarn for Scheepjes Wol's Crochet-A-Long. The colours are just so lovely! I ordered the 'Succulent' colourway, after much deliberation, and it should be arriving this week.  The first part of the pattern is released this coming Friday.  Excited!

In the meantime, I've finished the blanket I started a couple of years ago.  Very pleased with that. Except for the small issue of the ends not being quite the same width.  That'll be down to one end being granny squares and the other being granny stripes.  I padded the short end out with stitches as much as possible, but it's still a little uneven.  Not noticeable as long as I don't fold it up...

It is just the right size to go over our bed in the winter.

The pattern came from Nicki Trench's Cute and Easy Crochet, but I widened it to go over the bed, and changed the edging. I was going to do a zigzag edging I found on Pinterest, but in the end I did pretty much the same thing in a straight line. It's crocheting into only the back loop for each row, so it comes out with that little ridge.

I'm trying out some patchwork too, right now.  I got a book for my birthday called 'Quilting On The Go', about English Paper Piecing.  I prefer to work by hand, so it suits me nicely. I've learnt some really good techniques for making the patches, and once I realised I could order precut paper templates, that was it! It was always the hours spent cutting the inevitably wonky hexes out that put me off when I was younger.  These must be die-cut or something - they're so magically even! It makes the patchwork even too.

That's it so far. It's going to be built out to a rectangle, then evened up with some half-hexes.  After that, I'm feeling my way a bit, but the book is very informative. Finally, it's going to be a little quilt for Hattie to sit on my lap on. She's not majorly fussy about perfection, but I'd like to make this as nice as possible. It's a good practice piece.

I also found a good way to keep my patches in the right order while I stitch them on. That photo there is a quick pic on my phone to remember the order for the next row, but then I thread the patches onto a length of cotton with a button on the end, so I can slide them off one by one in the right order. I'm sure this is a very well known method, but I was really chuffed with myself for coming up with it.

And of course there are always multiple projects on the go. A while back, I got a job lot of Sirdar yarn from eBay with the idea of doing a blanket from squares.  Each square is small, so it can be worked in the car or with a cat on my lap (a permanent fixture in the winter). I just make as many squares as I can get out of each ball, then I'll work out an order to put it together in.  That'll be fun.

Nice colours. They screamed 'blanket' as soon as I saw the eBay pics.

And no post would be complete without a portrait of a pusscat!
Penny on my birthday.  Or her birthday. She certainly thought it was her birthday when all these bags and paper turned up one morning!

Monday, 15 September 2014

Blanket joy

I've just finished a blanket, and I've started making squares for another one, but I really fancy doing this.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Flowers everywhere!

Spring has really taken hold on me!  This weekend (another beautifully sunny one), I cleared a little space in the greenhouse and started sowing seeds.  I must confess that I didn't clear the greenhouse out completely - just enough space for me to stand and to work.  Got to leave a little job for another weekend, yes?

I found these shallow pots to do the initial sowing of some snapdragons and rudbeckias.  They'll get individual little pots later, when they've germinated and are big enough to handle.

 These are the rest of this weekend's sowings - they don't look much like this...

 ... but this is going to be the end result, hopefully.  Sunflowers (short, multi-headed ones), stocks, begonias (seeds like dust!), ageratum, rudbeckias, sweet peas and snapdragons.  I have to keep these lovely pictures in mind while the seeds are germinating, because nothing's happening right now.  (Only sowed them yesterday, of course nothing's happening yet.  Even though I keep going to look...)

 In the meantime, pretty gardening gloves.  I'm not really a pink and white girl, but these are light enough for me to feel what I'm doing and waterproof enough to keep my hands clean.

 This is what I'm planning to plant the seedlings into when they sprout.  They're cardboard pots that can be planted out as they are, and rot in the soil without disturbing the plants.  Once I'd bought them, I remembered you can do the same thing with eggboxes, so I've saved some of those too.

 The seed trays are on the shelves in the extension, soaking up the light from the Velux window.  My little crochet hanging birds are watching over them.  No eating the seeds, birdies!

 So if my seeds aren't flowering yet, I can still have flowers!  I'm trying to choose light summer colours for these flower brooches, and I've used some slowly variegating yarns, so that each layer is different without changing the yarn.  I've borrowed a pattern from Lucy of Attic 24 for this bit - her beautiful Triple Layer Flower pattern - and then I add fabric, ribbons, beads and buttons to make them all unique.  Many thanks to Lucy for sharing her patterns!

And even more flowers, using the granny flower pattern this time.  These are for some bunting.  I have lots of different colours of Paton's 4 ply 100% Cotton, and I'm planning to make a few flowers in each of those colours, before mixing them up to make bright strings of flower bunting with randomly mixed colours.  I'm not very good at 'random', so that might be a bit of a challenge.  Maybe throwing them all in the air and seeing how they land will work for that...

Monday, 10 March 2014


 Himself's jumper is finished!  I'm quite pleased with it, and he's chuffed to bits.  I think it may be a little bit close under the arms, but he insists it's perfect.  Now, we need some colder weather for him to wear it...

This is one I'm making for myself.  It's got a really intricate pattern, which I love knitting.  It's so much more interesting than just stocking stitch.  It's going to be a big slouchy jumper, but it probably won't be finished until it's too warm to wear it.  :-S

And finally...  I love Fat Face clothes, but not as much as the cats love their bags.  There's another cat inside this bag and they're having a fight through the opening.  Such fun!


Planting alpines

It's been a glorious weekend!  What a relief after such a wet winter!
We've brought spring indoors this year, with these three little plant pots.  We fill them with spring bulbs - miniature narcissus, and now some grape hyacinths.  

There's a trough of flowers in front of the porch, full of pansies all winter, and now the bulbs are doing their thing.  I know realise that I planted crocus bulbs along one side of the trough and daffs along the other, with the intention that the daffs would be at the back, and I put the trough down the wrong way round.  Crocuses at the back.  *sigh*  It's too heavy to turn around now, and in any case, the daffs would all be looking at the wall if I did turn it round.  The crocuses will just have to remain a little secret...

It must have been a bumper weekend at the garden centres, with the lovely weather.  We certainly did our share!  We got a lovely new rose to climb up our arch.  This one's got a great reputation for beautiful flowers and disease resistance.  

We got this lovely tub a few weeks ago.  It's wide and shallow, so I immediately thought of alpines.  I love alpines - they're like perfect little jewels.  We put the tub on bricks to make sure it can drain properly.  Remembered to do that before filling it - a small but important point!

Compost for alpines needs to be really free-draining.  It's almost half-and-half compost and grit.  I always think it looks like a fruit cake mix when it's right.  (Don't ask about my fruit cakes.  They're probably about as edible as the contents of the alpine pot!)

And here it is planted up!  Saxifrage, sedums, variegated aubretia and houseleeks.  Little jewels, set off by a covering of coarse grit to help the drainage.

We did have another little trough with houseleeks in it, that was falling to bits.  Himself made it from a recipe given out by Geoff Hamilton on Gardeners World years ago.  A pretend stone alpine trough.  It doesn't last as long as stone, but twenty years or so is reasonable, I suppose.  I took the houseleeks out and replanted them in a little pot.  They're so easy to grow that they'll soon fill out and take it over.  

And this is the results of our gardening afternoon.  A pretty alpine pot, a little pot of houseleeks, and the rose is planted next to the arch.  You can't really see it yet, but it should take off soon.  There's a big row of primroses in the background.  They come up every spring, and we're aiming to spread them right along the edge of that border.

I must confess, I have another alpine border.  Yes, I like these little plants.  I had a couple of plants left over from the pot (it was a special offer at the garden centre...) so I popped them in here to replace a couple that had gone tatty.  

These pots are waiting for some roses.  Himself is shopping around for some nice roses to be specimen plants.  Penny (who completely wore herself out with excitement that Mummy and Daddy were playing in the garden) thinks they're for her to play in.


Saturday, 1 March 2014

Knitting again, etc...

It's been a long time, but I haven't been idle.

Firstly, a knitted jumper for Himself's son.  I did him one years ago when he was a student and he wore it until it stretched down to his knees, so I thought it might be time for another one!  This one he put on on Christmas day and didn't take off for three days.  I think it might have gone down quite well.
It got ironed and everything!  I was pleased with the way it turned out.

I was especially pleased with the neck.  I'm always worried about necks - whether they'll be big enough, too big, whatever.  This one worked really well, done with needles one size larger than the rest of the rib.  It fitted well too.  I tried it out on Himself before wrapping it up to be sure it would fit - he's pretty much the same size as his son.  Now he wants one too.  The back, front and one sleeve are done.  Half a sleeve and the neck to do...

The trouble with men's jumper is that they only want such dull colours.  My soul needs some more cheerful colours!  Back to the crochet! 
A couple of blingy hanging hearts to ease myself out of the dull, masculine colours rut.

And a Hippoo for my friend's birthday.  I had some pink wool that was absolutely her.  I've started embellishing my Hippoos, sometimes chain-stitching around a heart motif, and now expanding into freestyle loops and squiggles.  Every one unique!

In the middle of all this, I had a destash on eBay.  Thirty packages of varied yarns that I'd managed to persuade myself that I really wouldn't use.  (I still have a big Really Useful Box of yarn in my cupboard.  And another by the sofa.)  I've taken to posting things in bin bags, bound with packing tape, because I've found that packing tape doesn't stick to brown paper any more.  Don't know why.  It wasn't until I'd packed all these and piled them up that I realised how much like a drug-smuggler my study makes me look!

Another Hippoo, for my sister-in-law's birthday.  The yarn's sparkly, but it doesn't really come out on the picture.  

These Hippoos are for the shop, when I get round to putting them up there.  Things have got a bit behind because I haven't been very well, but I think I'm coming out of it now, so time to get stocked up again!

I was contacted by a lovely customer a few weeks ago, who wanted my little Grunge Bunny - see here - and also wanted to make a custom order.  Easter gifts for all the staff at her school.  Flower brooches for all the ladies, and something suitable for two gentlemen.  I suggested little hanging birds for the men, done in subtle colours.  They are a little sparkly, but not too much, I hope.

And the full collection!  Thirty different flowers, letting my imagination run wild,

Wrapped up in tissue paper in a posting box, like a box of chocolates.  Bottom layer...

... and the top layer.

It's all been so exhausting.

Now it's time to restock.  Someone also bought my entire stock of bunting, so I'll make some more of that.  Along with a number of new brooches for the shop, that'll get some bright colours going again.  That will make up for the dark greys in Himself's jumper.

And it's Spring!  March 1st, thank goodness!  There are daffodils, crocuses, snowdrops and primroses in the garden.  We're planning some new planting and we'll have some pretty flowers to look forward to this summer.

Blogging is good for the soul, I think.  I mustn't neglect my blog, because it gives me space to picture my life and really appreciate that little lovely stuff.