Monday, 23 November 2015

Wonderful Maggie

My husband went off to watch the football on Saturday afternoon, so I treated myself to a trip to the cinema, to see The Lady in the Van.

Maggie Smith is at her best as the rude, obstinate and selfish homeless lady who "temporarily" parks her van on Alan Bennett's drive way and ends up staying for 15 years!  And the amazing thing is, it's actually true.

Maggie Smith was clearly having the time of her life playing Mary Shepherd and Alex Jennings as Alan Bennett (both versions of him - yes there are two Alan Bennetts)  is excellent.

A fun film with plenty of laughs and humorous observations.  Definitely worth going to see.

Continuing with my small successes, I made another of my Handy Dandy Sock Yarn Bags.

The sock yarn I used was leftovers given to me by Grace and the colours are just so gorgeous.

The yarn is Rico Superba Poems in, I think, the Candy colourway.

Such fun colours.

Because of my small successes,  I'm finding that I'm also making progress on my larger projects - I'm not sure what the psychology behind that is, but there's a positive energy in the air and I'm making the most of it.

I hope positive energy finds itself your way.  Have a good week.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Small Successes

I think I've worked out why time seems to be flying.  I tend to measure things in terms of finished projects. This month has been a pretty barren month for finished objects and so it feels like time is going quickly and I'm not getting anything completed.

I love casting on for new knitting projects, but too many works-in-progress becomes stressful after a while.

So I'm trying to engineer some small successes - to have some finished objects to stop November speeding away.

So first up, I completed my socks for November.

I used leftovers from my Love of a Pirate shawl I made last month.

I used the good old Vanilla Latte pattern, my "go to" pattern for socks.

Although I've only been knitting socks on a regular basis since earlier this year, I seem to have got into a bit of a rut.  I need to move from my "comfort zone" to a "stretch zone" - so maybe for next month's socks I'll be more adventurous!

Despite the fact that I do have several projects on going, I needed something small to do and I haven't done any colourful crochet for a while.  With perfect timing, Tatsiana from Lilla Bjorn Crochet released a new pattern yesterday called Frozen Snowflake, so I bought it straight away and reached for my crochet hook.

I used DK weight yarn and a 4mm hook.  The finished size is 5 1/4 inches.

A fun pattern to make and it would be lovely as a wall decoration for Christmas.  I'll have to  make some more and have a play with colours.

So with those small successes under my belt, I'm ready to tackle some of my bigger projects.  I hope that you are achieving successes, both small and large, with your projects.  Until next time, happy knitting.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Despite the Weather, Let's Spread Some Happiness

Hello everyone, how are you getting on in the wind and the rain?

We had a rather damp night away, staying in St Albans.  I'm sure it's a lovely city, but when the weather isn't good, it's difficult to enjoy walking around.

We did spend some time in the cathedral, which was very interesting.

We had a lovely meal in the Wetherspoons in the city centre - a bit like being in a medieval banqueting hall.

November seems to be going just as quickly as October did.  My resolution for next year is to work out how to make more time - it may require some magical prowess, but I'll see what I can do.

I've just finished reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.

What a fabulous book.  It's not a newly published book, it's been available for quite some time, but I've only just discovered it and it's got me so excited.

Gretchen spent a year thinking about ways to maximise her happiness.  She wasn't unhappy, she wanted to see if it was possible to find ways to be even more happier with who she is and what she does.  She devotes a chapter and a topic to each month - relationships, friendships, money, leisure activities, spiritual matters, health etc.  This is not a book that tells you how to live your life.  It is Gretchen's own experiences that she relates, in a humorous and entertaining way.  It is very inspiring and I've already started planning for my own happiness project.  Like Gretchen, I have a happy life, I have everything I need and I have a wonderful family, but I think it's important that we constantly try to improve ourselves so that we can be more supportive to those around us.

Happiness is infectious and I'd like to do my bit to spread it around.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Christmas Is Coming

Hello everybody, how are you today?  I hope you're well.  I'm having a good week tackling jobs around the house and ticking them off the list - always a good feeling.

At the moment I'm reading this book -

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin - a very inspiring read and I'm aiming to put into practice some of her wise advice.  No one ever said "No" to more happiness in their lives.

So I'm tackling jobs I've been putting off, one of which was making a start on getting organised for Christmas.  I'm not brave enough to leave it for any longer.  At last, and with a sense of relief at having got started, I've conjured up some Christmas cards.

The inspiration came from Pinterest, where else? (Although I can't seem to find the original site that the inspiration came from to give it full credit)

It's a simple idea, using upturned paper hearts to create the shape of the Christmas tree with a few little sparkles and a ribbon added.

So that's one Christmas job complete - only a few dozen more to go - but at least I've made a start - and therefore it adds to my happiness!

How is your Christmas preparation coming along?

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Purple Edith Cardigan

Isn't it a wonderful feeling when a project is completed and has turned out how you wanted it?  This week, I have completed the purple version of my Edith Cardigan pattern.  

I made this version slightly longer, but other than that it follows the pattern.

The wool is gorgeous Jamieson & Smith 2 ply jumper weight in the most delicious shade of purple.

I'm really pleased with the cardigan.  I wear the original Edith all the time.  It's such an easy style to wear.

You can see full details of this project on my Ravelry page, here.

I intend to update the instructions for the Edith pattern, just to make it easier to follow.  In fact, I've set myself the job of updating all of my patterns, so that they get a fresh look - no rest for the wicked!

I also need to get on with making stuff for Christmas - as always I feel it is sneaking up behind me ready to give me a fright.  I know many of you are already organised and well on with your Christmas gift projects, I hope I'm not the only one who is dragging their feet again.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

My New Favourite Thing

If you are of a certain age and in the U.K., you may remember a children's programme called Vision On that ran from 1964 to 1976.

It was an art programme designed for the deaf, so it was very visual.  Tony Hart was one of the presenters and I loved the amazing pictures he produced and the way he made creating them look so easy.

Anyway, I think I've discovered a modern day equivalent - mixed media collage videos on YouTube!  I'm enjoying watching the fabulous designs created by numerous talented artists, who make it look so easy.

Like the television programme, Vision On, many of the videos have a musical soundtrack rather than a spoken commentary, so they can be watched with the volume on mute - handy when you have one eye on the sport on the television!

One of my favourite artists (there are so many, I have plenty more yet to discover) is Gabrielle Pollacco.  Here's just a small sample of her work.

Isn't it amazing?  I particularly love the Steampunk journal cover.  The videos showing how these are made are very addictive, it's easy to see why I'm not meeting my targets (please see previous post!).

Anyway, I just had to have a go at creating my own mixed media canvas.  I chose as my theme BLOSSOM.  Here's my effort.

I basically threw everything I had at it and tried to incorporate all the techniques I'd seen in the videos. I don't have all the fancy paints, stencils and other notions that are used in the videos, but it was good to make use of what I did have to hand.

What fun.  It grew by itself and, for a first attempt, I'm really pleased with the results.

I can't wait to try another one soon.  I'm so glad I've discovered these videos - I suppose when you look, there's just about a video for everything on YouTube.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

She's a Rebel

Well hello everyone, I hope you're having a good weekend.  Lovely foggy morning for my walk this morning - makes you feel as though you are the only person out and about.

Can you believe it's November already?  Time seems to be flying past.  Last week I had set myself the target of finishing the knitting of my purple cardigan by the end of the month.  Do you do this - constantly set yourself targets that end up making you feel under pressure?

I'm a list maker (like so many fellow bloggers).  I love being able to tick things off, a sense of achievement, a job well done - you know the feeling.  Any way, yesterday, I was getting stupidly stressed over the fact that I probably wasn't going to get the cardigan finished, as planned.  It put me in a real niggly mood.  But by the end of the day, I only had the button bands to pick up and knit.

This morning, I woke up in a rebellious mood - why was I forcing myself to comply with deadlines that are completely unnecessary?

So today, I'm NOT going to finish the cardigan, I'm NOT going to tick anything off the "to do" list I had written for today.  Today I am being a rebel!

So I've just spent the last few hours knitting up another mini sweater for my bunting.

This one is using some of the leftovers from my October socks.  I still have enough left for some fingerless mittens.

I've also started a new shawl - this one is crocheted.

The pattern is South Bay Shawlette, a freebie.  It's a lovely easy pattern and it grows really quickly.

We're having a lazy day, watching sport on the television.  Cricket this morning, football at the moment (Everton v. Sunderland), then it will be darts later.

So I think I'll cast on for some socks next - why not - I'm just about managing to ignore that purple cardigan and the "to do" list - I'm not sure I'm very comfortable being a rebel!

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

New Hamsters and a Knitting Round Up

The previous weekend, we were on our travels again, this time to Sheffield to see Grace.  She has just got two new dwarf hamsters, girls this time, and we were very excited to see them (we were excited to see Grace as well!)

They're very shy at the moment but hopefully will settle in their new home very soon.

It was good to spend time with Grace, knitting and chatting about knitting (my husband's attention is lost as soon as I mention the word knitting!)

Here's a round up of some of my finished projects.  I mentioned last week that I had finished a shawl, so here it is.

The pattern is called The Love of a Pirate and I really enjoyed knitting it.

For full details of the pattern and yarn, please look on my Ravelry project page, here.

I've also knitted up another mini sweater.

It's great fun making these sweaters - the plan is to make bunting with them, but I'll need quite a few more yet.

I've also crocheted another bag using my Handy Dandy Sock Yarn Bag pattern.

I love the colours in this one.

I'm hoping, this week, to get the purple cardigan I'm currently working on finished.  It's 4 ply so slow going, but I feel as though the end is in sight.  So, at last, I feel as though I'm getting on top of things.  I hope you are all having a productive week.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Fantastic Beasts in Liverpool!

I was in Liverpool city centre last week.  I'd popped in to pick up some curtain fabric for the newly decorated hall and landing.  And when passing St George's Hall, I noticed there was a lot of metal fencing surrounding it and what looked like fake snow on the steps.

Later that evening my husband and I were back in the city centre to meet a friend for a drink and there was considerable activity in and around St George's Hall.  I took a photo - just in case!

I've since found out that they are filming scenes for J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter spin-off book "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them".  The film stars Eddie Redmayne but unfortunately I haven't spotted him around, although one of his co-stars, Jon Voight has apparently been seen in one of the Liverpool night clubs.

Picture from Liverpool Echo

Picture from Liverpool Echo

Picture from Liverpool Echo

Picture from Liverpool Echo

Apparently, Liverpool is the only non-studio location for the film, and the city is doubling up as 1920s New York.

The film isn't being released until November next year but I shall be looking out for Liverpool when I go to see it.