Friday, 27 February 2015

This Week......






....has been a little hurried.....but not as hurried as I thought it was going to be.......so that was a bonus.

It mainly consisted of getting back into the school and house routine.

I don't really do New Year's Resolutions, but I did decide it was about time I gave my house an overhaul. Sadly, it's in need of a LOT of tlc. You do one thing, and it's the case of flowers on the windowsill. I'm tackling storage issues at the moment. I'm a magpie, a gatherer (I hate the word Hoarder). I live in a little house, and the Bears are getting bigger. It was only ever meant to be a stop gap house, but it's been a little more than that. So, it's small for us all now, but now is not the time to think about moving when the elder Bears' are starting a critical schooling period. So, I make do, and juggle stuff around. Ikea has been a blessing in the storage tub department. I did come back with a bed too though. That was a tad unexpected. So was the sofa cover, minus the sofa (I couldn't fit a bed and a sofa in my car). That's ok though, it just calls for another trip!




Geez, I really do have a lot of crap. Nice crap though, that I cannot bear to part with. Urgh, I'm useless. I have donated about 8 huge bags to charity shops in the last month, and I feel a bit pleased about that. I asked the Bears what they would like different in the house if I was to re-decorate. Weirdly they said they liked the house as it was. So, it's not all bad then. I think just moving a few bits, storing a few bits, slopping a bit of paint here and there and things can carry on as normal.




In between all this, I did mundane stuff like iron. It's a job I really really LOATHE. I don't find it therapeutic, I find it a complete time waster (like dusting). But I did it. A MASSIVE basket of it, and for one teensy tiny moment, I felt like a domestic goddess, instead of a cleaning loser.



I'm that sad that I stick a pic of all my hours work here too. I seriously was proud of myself for sticking with it! 


The weather has been a mixed bag this week. Bright sunshine one moment, and dark grey clouds the next.

This week, the family computer was updated.Whilst I love new technology, I like what I'm used too. New updated versions of everything annoy me. I'm having trouble commenting on peoples posts, and it's such a faff to work out why. I'm not geek minded at all. Oh well, it gives me a chance to have a play.

I have been enjoying having an endless jug of flowers in my house this year so far. Mainly Daffs and Hyacinths.

The pale pink Hyacinths on my Mantel faded so, a Hyacinth bulb and some Narcissi have gone up.




I do have a lovely little pot of hyacinths and tulips bringing me delight. I keep moving them about the rooms. It's amazing how just a few flowers can lift one so much. They seem to be relatively cheap at the moment too.







Baby Bear made my heart sing when he handed me his picture. He told me that he loves how I make the Mantel different (it's often a thing we do together, he's like my little artistic director) and he thought he'd draw the Mantel that day. 



Awe bless him.


I have enjoyed kitchen time. I love it in my little kitchen when the sun shines.



I am currently liking pink and aqua/mint together.

I am loving little additions to the kitchen too, like sheep. Something rather cute about this one.



I love sorting, and noticing. I love bright and cheerful. I like chunky and necessary also.






I like the useful too....






I have been loving making bread. Or should I say 'trying'. I have been trying different methods. Some work and some don't.




I really wanted this one to work here but I just am not getting any results from it. It's not rising. Tastes decent enough and not heavy which is weird for it not rising really. I wonder if it's my conversions. I find it really hard to convert USA cup sizes to UK metric/imperial. There are sites that convert things but I find it a tad confusing. I'm guessing if it says one cup of flour and one cup of sugar for example, you measure in the same cup measurement. If you convert that on a chart it's different weights in grams but I guess it's just done in cups. I know I sound like a complete thicko, but I don't get the accuracy. Well, something is going wrong my end. I've found, actually doing the suggested ingredients from my bread maker pamphlet in my bread maker is working well. I don't like bread made in bread makers. I find the tin sizes annoying, and hate how it bakes with the dough hook in the loaf. Most bread makers can do the first bit for you and then you just do a last prove yourself and bake it yourself. That seems to work well for me. It takes two and a half hours from start to finish. I really quite fancied a loaf in an hour! Really just because I'm lazy. It's not like it's difficult to put the ingredients in a bread maker and then just leave it for an hour and a half.




I still am determined to make a loaf without any help form my bread maker. I shall carry on testing recipes.




Whilst the sun has shone I have been sorting in my little kitchen. It has been a lovely little spot to be in this week.




I have even managed a little bit of relax time. In between wash loads and ironing, my treat for doing it was something naughty and a good hot cuppa. Mundane simply has to be equalled with something lovely for me. I remember being at Uni and having to write a dissertation on Greek Mythology. It wasn't a module I really wanted to do, but I had to fit it around my teaching modules which sucked at the time. Anyway, I remember wondering how on earth I was to write so much on something that I didn't want to do. So, I decided every 500 hundred words, I would stop for a really nice drink and treat to reward myself. That way, it all sort of equalled itself out. In twenty years, nothing has changed it seems.

Also, This week has been a week of creative juices flowing. Oh my, I have so many ideas of things that I want to start or try. It's that nice exciting time, when you just buzz buzz buzz. Also annoying, as I have that excited nervous energy feeling. It's hard to concentrate when I have that. Also annoying, that suddenly I have all these ideas and I want to start them all.

I'm still researching yarn for when I make the 'proper' Bella Wrap. Now I know I can do it, I'm trying to find the 'right' shade of natural to make it in first. No yellowy hue in sight. I like Drops Andes for coloured ones.




I'm still plodding on with the Sunshine Day Blanket, but it is slow going this week. I have made progress on my footstool.



The black shiny fabric that was under the black crochet cover was covered over with a bit of calico. Big staplers are great things for work like this (not great if your youngest decides to check it out and staple your table). 

Of course it had to be pink didn't it. A dirty pink, my favourite shade of pink. I thought it goes so nicely with the lovely bare wood of the little legs. I did think that blue/grey would be nice also (in the background). A little cushion project that was never finished as I ran out of yarn, but I think it could work well too. I may just mix and match when the mood takes me. Hopefully the pink cover should be finished by tonight. Better than the black crocheted cover it came with. 




I also couldn't resist these balls from my local shop. Aren't they delicious? The mottled ones are Drops Fabel in shades 800 and 801, and the mauve one is Drops Baby Alpaca in shade 4314. I'm still in layering mode and thinking these would make super wrist warmers (like I need any more). This shade of mauve is about the only purpley/lilacy shade I can work with (it's a little pinker than the actual pic). I particularly love it teamed with deep forest greens and dark olives. I'm thinking on a Bella Wrap in those shades, so mauve wrist warmers should compliment it well! 

I also have plans for more embroidery. One is a big project, but I like the idea of doing it. Not sure that if I do it, I'll have anywhere to hang it in my little abode, but I think I'll love working on it. The other is a smaller project. The idea is whirring fast in my head, and I'm loving thinking about it.

This year too, I am planning to get to know my sewing machine a little better. I have a dress I want to make. It'll take a mountain of practice. With crochet, I wanted to learn it just to make a granny squares blanket. Nothing else interested me, it was just one simple blanket. I wanted to learn crochet, make the blanket, and then move on to learning another craft. Seven years later, and I haven't yet moved on. The same may be said with sewing. I want to learn to sew, simply to make a particular dress......and an A-line skirt. Two things, if I can master and make, then I should be happy enough to move on. Let's see if that's the case.

So, it's been a making, baking, clearing, sorting, ideas buzzing kind of week. 

A happy one.

I'll take that.

I'll also take another slice of warm bread. The buzzer has just gone. The Bear's are not going to get a look in. Somebody stop me, I'm outta control............




Have a super weekend all

xxx

















Saturday, 21 February 2015

Indulgence, WIP's and a Ta-Dah........






I have had been waiting for this Half Term for quite some time. Life has been REALLY busy over the past 6 months. I haven't really stopped. I've lost my weekends for the time being, so I don't get a day where I'm not up really early and rushing about. I had been waiting......longing......for a week where I could have a few lazy mornings, and a few days to just potter.......and be.

I sort of realised that it was probably going to be a bit of an indulgent week. A week full of naughty treats and sneaky bites.

Well, bread has been made.......a lot. No Pics for that. It didn't last long enough. Warm bread needs to be buttered and eaten fairly quickly in this house. 

I have been trying out different methods. Some have worked.....some have not. We have all eaten a lot of bread this week. I think I have grown twice as wide in seven days, but hey ho, I didn't really want to care.



Lattes. I LOVE them. Warm and frothy. Keeping chills at bay, and feeling very relaxed. A fair few have been made and lovingly sipped. It's been so nice to just sit....be silent......sip.......and think. 


Eeek, scones and clotted cream popped into my grocery basket. My excuse was that I had so many little jam pots to use up (I need the jam jars for a crafty project I'm planning later on in the year). Really indulgent and naughty......but super nice.



It has also been a week for finishing things, carrying on with things, and making plans.

So my Ta-dah.......


Well, that's my Block Scarf



Just a simple shell pattern scarf. I wanted a bit of texture instead of flat lines, and I just wanted blocks of colour. I had seen a picture of some bedding on Pinterest here in shades of pink, ochre, white and brown. I thought they were such a nice combination, that I took inspiration and ordered some Drops Cotton Merino in shades 01 (white) 05 (powder pink) 12 (brown) and 15 (mustard).

I used 50g each of white and brown. 100g of mustard and about 75g of pink.


The yarn is simply gorgeous to work with. It was so soft, you almost couldn't feel it gliding through your fingers. It was the first time I had used it, and I shall definitely be using it again in other projects. The colour range is nice, and the colours themselves in the yarns are lovely. It's not the best picture, granted, but maybe if you look super hard, you can see there is a slight dimension in the colour. It almost could look a little speckled. The cotton thread is slightly noticeable running through the wool...and it's really pretty.




I made it really quite long in length, as I like to be able to wrap my scarves around the neck twice. It's lovely and soft and warm too.





So, another make ticked off.


I have spent a lot of the week, bed lounging. For me, it's the ultimate indulgence. It's also a safe place to retreat to when the Bears are home and taking over the whole house. It's my little space to be quiet, lay all my projects all over the bed. Sit with a cuppa and ponder over crafting stuff.




I told myself that I couldn't start on anything new until I had finished the Sunshine Day Blanket. It was my intention to carry on with it towards the latter part of the half term break. However, my mind is flitting here, there and everywhere. I bought a great little stool this week. Cheap and cheerful with wooden little legs and a toadstool type cushioned seat pad. Fabulously, it already came with a crocheted cover, but alas, it was black.........and I struggle with black for the most part (except weirdly, I'm becoming really attatched to the idea of a big wall of black ikea ribba frames, and I have just bought a black storm lantern). Maybe there will be a slight turn around like my loathing of pumpkin orange.

Anyway, I digress. I found some gorgeous pink chunky yarn in my sort out this week, and  MAN ALIVE, it was perfect for a stool makeover. I think it was wendy Mode chunky yarn. As soon as I discovered it, they discontinued it. Argh, the perfect pink in a chunky yarn, HOW COULD THEY DO THAT?

So, my head is thinking a nice new pink cover that would compliment the chunky little wooden legs well.




Also, this week, on my Ikea visit, I picked up a handy little big french style raffia bag for £2. IT's very handy, but it's very plain.....so......my head is thinking cross stitching on the front to cheer it up. I've got a pattern ready to embroider, I just need to make time for it now.




I picked up a lovely little vintage eiderdown a few weeks back from my local antique shop. A paisley print in duck egg blue was just what I had been searching for. It was a steal too. I was a little 'Phoebe' when I saw it, and whispered to thank the eiderdown gods for throwing it my way that day!

I figure though, that, it should sit with something to compliment it. I'm thinking a ripple in the same shades. It's my mission to get some colour matches and then make a start.







But, although my head is craftily racing with idea after idea, I need to concentrate on the Sunshine Day Blanket, and push to get it finished. I love how this blanket is coming on. The bright colours pop against the mid grey, but I got so disheartened after realising that when I thought I was almost finished, turned out I was only halfway done. I need to gee myself up again to just go for it.





I ADORE these little Motifs



And a sock photo bomb because it was quite clearly a pink and grey day for me.

This week has been much needed. I have felt relaxed. I have pottered, and I have seriously indulged. It has all been much needed though. Come Monday, things go back to being rushed and hurried.....and OH MY WORD I need to be good on the food front!

I shall have lovely memories to carry me through though, and nice makes to have shown for it. What more can I ask for?

Happy Weekend All

xxx



P.S. Thank you for all your kind messages with regards to my Bella Wrap make. I know that some of you had trouble accessing the pattern on Belinda's site, but if you didn't catch my edited bit on the last post, it is up there again for sale as an instant PDF digital download. I know a lot of you loved the pattern too. I know also, that some of you lovely peeps thought I was a tad harsh on my comments of the stylecraft yarn. I am an advocate of acrylic yarn. I make big blankets, and I would be bankrupt if I only used the expensive stuff. I know that Lucy from Attic24 uses it for her blankets and highly recommends it. I haven't really worked with stylecraft yarn much, as my local yarn shops don't stock it. I have used a couple of balls of DK for projects for others and it has been fine. I mix and match my acrylic yarns, as, I have said before, I have found that different dyes can affect the feel and look of the yarn, even in the same brand style. It could well be that this colour way in this super chunky yarn was not its best one in the range. I'm all for  seeing and feeling the WHOLE colour range. Yet, I stand by what I said. I wouldn't recommend this colour and yarn for this project. My own personal opinion. I'm sure others may use and think it's terrific. Good job we are all different. What a boring place it would be if we weren't!












Thursday, 19 February 2015

Knitted Moments Ta-Dah.......






Now.......


....I'm a self confessed 'Pants' knitter. I can do the very basics ONLY in knitting. 

I find it annoying, slow growing......and I realise that I pull the most ridiculous faces as I work. I cannot be distracted, as heaven forbid, I might drop a stitch, or add a stitch. Things which I have yet to figure out how to successfully redeem.

It's actually the speed I find frustrating more than anything. Crochet just appears in seconds. You muck up a stitch or two, and it's so easily rectified. No gaping holes or odd things appearing.

The trouble is......crochet is not really a craft to make clothes.....as a rule. Well, that's my personal opinion. Sure, there are a few great ones out there. I've made a couple of things, and I have a list of about 3 or 4 more to make, but knitting.......well......this is where knitting comes into its own.

I treated myself to a magazine at the beginning of the month. I rarely buy magazines now. Anyway, there was a fashion section......all about layering. 





Now, I LOVE layering......so it appealed to me. One garment caught my eye. A sleeveless cardigan, drapey, wrap thingy.


I fell in love. The trouble was, it was a bit pricey for my budget to buy......and it was knitted. That was that......


........or so I thought.

I kept going back and looking at it, and thinking 'I wonder if I could achieve something similar in crochet?'

The more I looked at it, the more I thought that perhaps it could be done. The basic layout of the garment was quite simple.




I got the details of the garment and thought I'd look up the website, and see if there were anymore pics of it online to give me a better idea of the back view etc. Well, when arriving at the website, I realised that this was a handmade to order item.............or............you could buy the pattern and make it yourself.

Ooooooooohh. This made things VERY interesting.


Suddenly, I was thinking, maybe I could buy the pattern and give it a go. The designer stated that it was a straightforward pattern so I thought 'why not?'. Even a village idiot knitter like me, might be able to pull it off. So, I purchased the pattern.


I decided to buy cheap yarn and make a mock up. That way, if I really was utterly pants, then I wouldn't have wasted a fair bit of money. Also, I could practice my stitches, learn anything that needs to be learnt, and realise what I need to do to make it better.


So.....ya wanna see my mock up?.........



Please view it through squinted eyes! 

It really is a simple pattern for those established at knitting. You could knock one up in a couple of evenings.

It's called the Bella Wrap by designer Belinda Harris-Reid


The yarn I used was Stylecraft Life Super chunky in shade cream. 

I DID NOT like using it and I'm not sure I'd recommend it at all.

Firstly, in the ball it looked more ivory, but knitted up it looked more yellowy/buttermilky......a REALLY DEEP cream. It actually looks more ivory there in the pictures, but believe me, next to ivory, it's really yellowy. Not the best colour for my celtic complexion. When the sun shone on it, you could see that nasty acrylic sheen. There was no denying it was really warm and snug though, and just to be used to do a 'dummy run'; I could not complain. I used just over 4 100g balls. I must admit that it's been worn loads this past week on the chilly days.




I've only ever knitted two things before......a scarf and a hot water bottle cover. Using big, circular knitting needles was an eye opener! 

My tension is laughable at best. The only thing I did fairly decently was the cabling. For a complete novice knitter, the armholes posed problems. After several phone calls to my mum and a you tube video, all was worked out successfully. I'm figuring that I'm after floppy and drapey, so it shouldn't be too bad if my tension is a little wobbly!

After finishing, I blocked it and voila.




I like it. I like it a lot. Who am I trying to kid.........I LOVE LOVE LOVE it. Belinda, I could kiss you for producing something so yummy in a pattern. 


I love how you can wear it several ways. I really really do. I perhaps just wish I was a bit better at this whole knitting malarky. I was pretty excited to have actually finished a garment in knitting. I never thought I'd see the day!

Aside from my uneven stitches, the yucky colour and gross yarn, I'm mega excited I managed it. I achieved what I set out to achieve. I totally love it. I want it in several colours. Talk about G.R.E.E.D.Y! I'm thinking boot warmers, wrist warmers to compliment the layering effect. My mind is working overdrive. 

Urgh....I don't want mundane work and house chores to come between me and a proper beauty to be made. I'm chuckling. As beautiful as I can make it with my big old knitty clown fingers.

My Mum was over for coffee and was desperate to see this thing I had been on the phone to her endlessly asking 'how to' questions about. Suffice to say, when she left my house, her first stop was a yarn shop. She is desperate to make one now.

I think I'd like my 'proper' one to be a tad drapier, which, even for a novice like me, could be easily done I think. 

So, I'm happy. It wasn't a total disaster. I think I will enjoy making others......and I shall enjoy wearing them even more......


....so watch this space!


xxx


p.s It was featured in Country Living Magazine March Edition if you were wondering....

Edited: I know some of you have had difficulty in being able to purchase the pattern on Belinda's site. It is now working and available as an instant digital PDF download.






Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Snippets........








The sun is shining today. 

Woo Hoo.

It has been a grey and cold couple of weeks. Very busy. But quite a nice busy.

A couple of weeks of working, sorting, clearing, crafting, and catching up with friends and relatives. Good coffee. Good Cake. Good Chat. Lots of laughs.

Just a few snippets of life in my little patch.....




Flowers. Just love them. Bringing rosy cheer into grey days.



Whimsical finds. I'm calling it the 'Alice in Wonderland' Clock.



I'm feeling the spot love today.



Flowers on my ledge.



Bread making.



Lazy Half Term mornings.



Loving stripes.




Finishing projects.



Discovering lost items.




Loving colour.



Loving smocking.



Making Baby Bear Smile.



Having outdoor fun.

These past couple of weeks have just zoomed by. I have finished off my knitted project. I'll give it a post of it's own. I've finished my scarf also. I'll do a post for that too when I have a moment. I've been enjoying making bread again. Which is NOT a good thing. Bread is my weakness.....my downfall. Warm, freshly baked bread with butter that just melts on it......well.......need I say more? I think I need to stop for a while.

A much loved trip to Ikea to get storage tubs (yeah, like that's my main reason for going), any excuse.....


I

LoVe

ThAt 

PlAcE


Sunshine, colour, big mugs of tea, crochet, notebooks, lattes, yarn, ideas, charts, smiles, clouds, cosy, homely, blankets, organising, happy.

Words that spring to mind for these past couple of weeks.

xxx