Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Reliving the Past

What another gloriously hot and sunny week we are having.  I hope the sun is shining down on you, wherever you are.  I've been busy again in the garden each morning, keeping it tidy and admiring my handiwork.  Keep up the good work, Janet!

I've also been out and about this week.  My husband had a meeting down in Hinckley, so my Mum, my Step-Dad and I accompanied him and while he was in his meeting we visited my Auntie in one of the nearby villages.

When I was younger, we used to spend a week of the summer holidays staying with my Auntie, Uncle and cousins.  We would wander around the countryside and the local farms and I remember going to Burbage Woods on a nature trail with the Rector's wife.  Children were so much freer to go out and explore and have adventures by themselves in those days.  Memories!

I had a lovely time wandering around the village trying to relive the past.

Forty years ago, I was a bridesmaid in this church.

It really is a very pretty village.

Obviously I took some knitting with me for the journey.  My Last Chance Scarf has been accompanying me on all my car journeys over the last few months.  It's prove to be an ideal travelling project.  I finished it off once we got back home.

I like the end result and I'm hoping that I will actually wear it when the weather turns cooler.  I think the colours work well in the scarf, but as the yarn has been frogged from a sweater and then from a shawl, we shall have to see if I really take to it now.  The pattern is called Be Simple Variations, and it's a freebie.  You can see details of this project on my Ravelry page, here.

So I'll have to start a new project for travelling now that the scarf is completed.  But first I've off out into the garden again - just to admire its tidiness!

Thursday, 18 August 2016

I Don't Like Gardening...

It's amazing how creative I can be when it comes to making excuses not to do the gardening.  Mostly I rely on the weather to back me up - it's too wet, too windy, too cold, too hot.  This week has been a gloriously hot and sunny one and guilt about the garden has finally caught up with me.  The flower beds are full of willow herb, moss and grass, so some action was needed.

My usual excuse for it being too hot might be worth a try but the guilt won in the end.  So this week I've been out in the garden having a good tidy up and do you know what, I've really enjoyed it!

I made a point of starting early before the sun was too scorching and I was surprised at how much progress I was able to make each day.  Just goes to show what you can do if you make an effort.

The garden is looking so much tidier and weed free.  The flower beds, now stripped of the weeds, don't look as green as they were, so there are a few gaps that look a bit bare.  But on the whole it's been very satisfying.  I don't have much in bloom at the moment but here's a few photos of what there is.

I don't think I'll ever be a true gardener, but my fingers do feel just a touch greener this week.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Working My Way to Gold

How are you?  I hope that life is treating you well.  Have you been watching the Olympics?  I've tried to catch as many events as I can but it's a pretty packed programme so it's difficult to fit everything in.  There's been some very impressive performances, you've got to take your hat off to the dedication and hard work that all the participants have put in.

I thought about trying to have a themed knitting and crocheting event to coincide with the Olympics, but in the end I decided I just needed to get my works-in-progress progressing!  As it turns out, I'm actually doing a triathlon.  I have three projects I'm working on.

The first of my triathlon projects is a knitting one.  It's my Fair Isle cardigan.  I'm trying to get this off the needles because it's a summery cardigan and I'd like to be wearing it sooner rather than later.

It's slow going but I've reached the armholes on the body and one of the sleeves.  I need to work out my shaping of the armholes and hopefully hit the home straight soon.  I have a horrible feeling that I'm going to run out of my main colour but I'm putting that to the back of my mind at the moment and just concentrating on getting as much progress made as possible.

My second triathlon project is a crocheting one.  My Mandala Madness blanket has been hibernating for quite some time now.  I put it to one side whilst I had a sock blitz and then there was the stash busting blitz, so it has been sadly neglected.

Having picked it up again, I'm loving working on it.  At the moment it's my project of choice.  Such fun picking the colours for each round and seeing how it all comes together.  There's still quite a long way to go with this project, but it's a super way to use up my acrylic yarns, so it all helps to reduce the stash.

Finally, the third triathlon project is a crochet pattern I'm hoping to publish shortly.  It's for a colourful mandala that I designed last year.  Grace kindly tested the pattern for me  but I've been very dilatory in completing the pattern.

At the moment I'm working through the pattern again and taking round by round photos to support the pattern.  Every time the pattern has been worked, the variety of colours used creates a unique interpretation of the pattern.  It's such fun to play with the colours and see the effects produced.

All these projects will take some time to complete so there will be nothing off the needles for some time.  They will eventually make a significant dent in the stash, so that's good news.  I did finish my August socks last week.

Again these are toe up socks - firmly established as my favourite way to knit socks.  The pattern is called Fine and Dandy and you can see full details of this project on my Ravelry page, here.

So, now I'm back to my triathlon projects for the duration of the Olympics.  I hope you have a good week and I'm looking forward to picking up my gold medal shortly!

Monday, 8 August 2016

Lazy Summer Days

The weather is warm and the days are long and I'm feeling oh so lazy and relaxed.  There's definitely been a lull in activity in blogland, myself included.  I appreciate the efforts of those who have soldiered on and continued with their regular posts.  You have my admiration.  Every day I think to myself, I'll do a post today, but it never seems to get from my head to the blog.  So I'm making an effort today, to catch up with what I've been up to over the past two weeks or so.

Since I last posted, I've a few finished objects, plenty of works-in progress and I've had another weigh-in of the stash.

So let's get started, and here are my finished projects.  Firstly this shawl.

I just adore the colours.  I wear pink and grey more than any other colours, so this shawl is perfect for me.  I love the gradient colour changes.

The shawl is lovely and I used all of the 200g I had bought of this yarn, so it's a very generous size.  It's Ullcentrum 2 ply sport weight yarn and the colourway is Sky Pink.  It was the first yarn I bought at Yarndale last year and I'm surprised it's taken me this long to knit it up.  You can see details of this project on my Ravelry page, here.

Next up is the Block a Month Blanket I started back in January.  I decided to just crochet 16 squares for this one.

Each square is 10 inches square, so it makes a lovely lap blanket.  I added a fairly simple edging and I'm very happy with the result.  Details on Ravelry, here.

Another crochet project, a much quicker one, was these cute little flowers.

They are made from a free pattern by Ali Crafts Designs.  The pattern can be downloaded from Ravelry, here, and it really is a simple but very effective design.

My dressmaking is going well.  Yesterday I completed my pink dress.

I'm not sure that the mannequin is showing the dress off very well, so here's a badly taken picture of me wearing it.

The dress is very simple, it has princess seams, a side zip and a gently flared skirt.  It's New Look 6020 and I've made the pattern several times now - a very wearable dress.

I've treated myself to a new dress pattern, the Vintage Shirt Dress by Sew Over It.

It's the first independently designed pattern I've tried, the instructions look very detailed and helpful, so I'm looking forward to giving it a go.  Before then, I want to make a button through skirt (a bit of practice at buttonholes!).  So I need to make some time to get on with these.

And having finished my pink dress, I thought it deserved a pretty coat hanger, so I crocheted up this one, using my Floral Embellishment pattern.

It only took a couple of hours to complete and I think it looks great.

On the needles at present are my Fair Isle cardigan.

Some, but not a great deal of progress there.

A pair of socks.  No photos yet but they should be off the needles in the next day or two.

I also have my crochet Mandala Madness which hasn't made any progress and is in desperate need of some love and affection.

So plenty to keep me busy.

Finally, it's been six months since I decided to be brave and weigh my stash (inspired by Linda from Linda's Crafty Corner).  In February the stash weighed in at a bouncing 18.2 kg - wow!

After being on a crash diet for six months I'm pleased to say the stash now weighs a more healthy 11.6 kg, that's even allowing for the 850g of yarn that sneaked its way in when my back was turned!.

There's still a long way to go and with Yarndale coming up at the end of next month, I need to clear some more works-in-progress, but I feel satisfied that things are reaching a more manageable level.

Well that was a packed post!  I'll be back shortly (no more laziness) and hopefully with some more finished objects.  Enjoy your week.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

And It's Over in the Blink of an Eye

The three weeks of the Tour de France just flew by.  I've spent the time, whilst watching the cycling, concentrating on my stash busting and I'm pleased to say that it's been an enjoyable three weeks.

In my previous blog post, I showed you the first six projects I had completed.  I'm pleased to say that I managed to complete another six projects by the end of the Tour.  That's one better that last year.

I blitzed the Schmancy Shawl that I had started knitting.  It blocked up beautifully.  For this project I was using up some frogged Rowan 4 ply.  You can see full details of this project on Ravelry, here.

The edging blocked out beautifully and I love the drape of the shawl.

The next project completed was a crocheted basket.  I had two balls of rather rough cotton which I used doubled and it created the perfect fabric for the basket.

Next, some mittens.  I used some beige 4 ply for the cuff lining and the main body of each mitten was knitted using some unidentified yarn that I had picked up in the charity shop very cheaply.  These should be lovely and snug when it gets colder.

Some leftover angora yarn made a colourful and fluffy yarn bag.

And some leftover lace weight wool & silk yarn became a mini shawl and a doily.

In total I used 603g.  This was less than last year but in my defence, I was using much finer yarns than last year, so I reckon the yardage used this year was higher than last year.

So all in all, I'd say that Chris Froome and I have had a very successful 2016 Tour de France.

With all this successful stash busting, I'm joining in with Linda's Stash Buster Party once again.  I must admit, it has been a great incentive to me over the last few months and I can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel (or even the craft room).  Next month it will be six months since I had my stash weigh in and I'm planning on getting the scales out again to see how I am progressing.  At the moment I reckon I have busted over 6kg of stash, which is one third of my starting total.  I have a few works in progress that I'm hoping to get off the needles in the next few weeks and reduce the total even further.

In other news, we had a lovely weekend down in London visiting Eve.  We went down on Friday and came home yesterday.  The weather was hot and sticky but we manged to get out and about with Eve every day.  We had a great trip to Greenwich on Saturday - so much to see and great views across the river to Canary Wharf.

It was lovely to see Eve again and to be able to explore more of London.  There's still so much more we'd like to visit, so plenty more trips down to London  are definitely on the cards.

Well the Tour de France may be over, but we have the Olympics to look forward to very shortly.  I haven't decided if I'm going to do a themed knitting and crocheting challenge for this, but whatever I decide, I'll be glued to the television for the duration!

Have a good week.  See you soon.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Tour de France Time Again

Here we are more than half way through the Tour de France and I haven't up dated you on what I'm doing!  How lax of me.

Last year, I joined in with the Tour de France group on Ravelry and did some stash-busting.  I managed to complete 11 items and used up 768g of very old stash.  This year, although I was tempted to just work on one major project for the three week duration of the Tour (the Yellow Jersey), I decided that my stash-busting mission is still very much ongoing, so I should repeat last year's endeavours, sprint for the line and go for the Points Jersey (the Green Jersey).

So far I have made three pigeons!

Two Coasters using my Eveline's Motif Pattern.

A pair of very red socks.

A colourful meditation mandala.  I made this up as I went along - great fun.

Some pretty bunting using my Daisy Chain Bunting Pattern.

Three coat hangers, incorporating my Floral Embellishment Pattern.

I'm currently working on a shawl.  It has an applied lacy border and I'm just over a quarter of the way along the edge.

I've also recently cast on some mittens and I'm hoping to fit in a few more small items and another shawl!  I've only got until 24th July, so time is of the essence.

Last month, I finished two more pairs of socks whilst watching the European Championships (congrats to Portugal).  Usually I only knit one pair of socks from each of the 100g of sock yarn I have, but because I prefer to knit ankle socks, I find that I have about 45g leftover.  So, these two pairs of socks are knitted with the same yarn, but for the second pair, I have knitted contrast toes, heels and cuffs.  This used but virtually the whole of the 100g, so I was pleased with this.  For both these pairs of socks, I again used the Sockmatician's Toe Up recipe, which is now firmly confirmed as one of my favourite recipes.

I entered my four pairs of socks that I knitted up during the Euros into The Sockmaticians Toe Up KAL and whilst watching his latest podcast I was very excited to hear my name mentioned and find out that I had won a skein of fingering weight yarn - Thank you so much Nathan.

This weekend, besides the Tour de France, we will also be watching the first cricket test match between England and Pakistan, the Open Golf from Troon and there's also some darts on.  It's hard work being a sports fan!  At least I should make excellent progress with the shawl.

Until next time, happy crafting to you all.