Friday, 5 May 2017

Garden Flowers

Friday has come round more quickly this week with May Bank Holiday Monday. I seem to have been a day behind all week. It has been chilly here, as we have been mostly under cloudy skies with a brisk easterly wind, so time spent in the garden has been shorter than usual at this time of year. There is still much to do, but the ground is so dry it is impossible to get on with some jobs. It is remarkable how most things are flourishing despite the lack of rain.  When the sun has been out I have taken the opportunity to snap some of the growth and early blooms.

The flower beds are filling out.

The climbers are reaching for the sky and the fence that was repaired last year is beginning to be clothed in plants again.

The shady area at the top of the garden is springing into life

Even in the darkest corner the ferns are beginning to unfurl.

The Ranunculus are simply beautiful in colour and in form.

It may not have been as warm as I would have liked and certainly not warm enough to sit out but every trip into the garden has brought pleasure so that cannot be all bad can it?

I hope you have had a good week. 
Joining with Tricky and Carly at FAST blog for Five on Friday.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Hotel of Bees CAL

While looking through Instagram recently I came across the Hotel of Bees CAL which was being organised by Sandra at Cherryheart and Sam at Betsy Makes. The Hotel of Bees Shawl was designed by Christina Hadderingh, A Spoonful of Yarn, and as I love bees the pattern really appealed to me. Despite having several projects already 'on the go', adding another project to the list was not entirely sensible, but I was unable to resist temptation. My excuse was that if I chose the right colours the shawl would be very useful for a wedding I am attending in June. 

Image and copyright Christina Hadderingh - A Spoonful of Yarn

After downloading the pattern I decided to use the recommended yarn Scheepjes  Stone Washed 4ply in Corundum Ruby, Pink Quartzite and Rose Quartz. 

Here they are with the Honey Bee bag I made to keep the project in.
I am often very lazy about making tension squares but Christina states that she has quite loose tension and my own tension tends to be tight so this prompted me to check. It is a good job I did as I would have had a much smaller shawl as I needed to go up to 4.00mm hook from a 3.5mm in the pattern.

The shawl is Asymmetrical and begins at the long edge with a 145 chain and 144 dc's (UK), which is lovely as the rows get shorted (and quicker) as the shawl grows.

It did not start well as the first Wings Pattern section was not correct on my first attempt and had to be frogged. As you can probably see above my wings were more like donkey's hind legs.

Once corrected, it was onto the Open Honeycomb section and then the Bees themselves.

The bees are made with two bobbles and chain stitches for legs, which are really effective.

The Honeycomb Filet section came next and is my favourite section. I love how the hexegons are clearly marked with the treble (UK) chain spaces. It would make a great overall pattern for a shawl/scarf in a light cobwebby yarn.

The Wing Pattern is repeated in the reverse colourway with the Corundum Ruby over the Pink Quartzite.

The patterns repeat using the new colour with Open Honeycomb, Bees and Honeycomb Filet sections.

The Pink Quartzite is more cream than pink and the bees stand out really well.

The final colour was Rose Quartz and I had been unsure about this colour all along. It looked TOO pink and reminded me of pink bubblegum. The Corundum Ruby had a marl tone to it but the marl was not as obvious in the Rose. Progress stopped at this point while I debated what to do and sent off for the Lilac Quartz to see if that looked any better.

More umming and ahhing ensued and test sections worked but I finally came back to the Rose Quartz.

It looked better once the section developed. You can see how the shawl is really narrowing now and the rows were quick to complete.

Instead of a final Honeycomb filet section the pattern changes to a Flower filet pattern, which is worked to the end of the shawl.

The long side where the colour changes occur are finished with a three row edging. 

The tricky part was working 222 dc (UK) evenly along the length but with stitch markers at regular intervals and a lot of counting out loud this was achieved.

Blocking came next with only just enough mat space.
It always amazes me what a difference blocking makes to knitting and crochet. It really enables the patterns to be shown off to their best advantage.

Finally Taaa Dahhh

Casually tossed over the climbing hydrangea. 
Sadly there has been no sun today so the photo is not as bright as I would have liked.

The shawl works well with the dress I plan to wear to the wedding too, which was my whole excuse for making it. 

I love the pattern of this shawl and will definitely make it again but I shall use a different yarn next time. Personally, I find the Scheepjes Stone Washed quite thick for 4 ply. This may be because I am more used to 4 ply sock yarn which is much lighter. Also my tension may be affecting the finish. Whatever, it has been a great experience taking part in this Crochet Along and I am happy with the result. Thank you very much to Christina for the pattern and Sandra and Sam for organising the CAL.

If you use Instagram there are many lovely pictures of other peoples shawls at #hobcal or on the Ravelry Cherry Heart's Cozy Corner HOBCAL chatter thread. There are so many lovely colour combinations and yarn choices, they are really worth a look. 


Sunday, 30 April 2017

Five on Friday - Late!

I am rather late to the party with Five on Friday or should that be Five on Sunday? It has been an odd week when my 'get up and go' seems to have 'got up and gone' leaving me tired and trying to catch up all the time. April has gone by so quickly, it is difficult to comprehend that May is upon us. So a little last minute I am joining with Tricky and Carly at Fastblog for the Friday round up.

Earlier this week I suddenly realised the workshop I was attending at the end of the month was actually this Saturday. Mild panic as I was not even sure where the venue was and if I had all the requirements necessary. Fortunately the tutor Nicola Jarvis brought packs for all the students and all we needed was an embroidery hoop, a sharp pair of scissors and lunch. Easily do-able so panic over and after pouring over Google maps I worked out my route to the Community Centre where the workshop was held. I do not have a Sat-Nav but I'm seriously thinking about getting one. The workshop was great, creating one of Nicola's Bijou Bird designs in hand stitch. It is such a luxury to sit and sew for a day and not think about all the domestic tasks that would be trying to take priority at home. You can see more of Nicola's beautiful work here
Here is a peek at my progress so far. There is still a lot to do but I am looking forward to finishing it and I shall write a separate post about the day later.

There has been some other stitching this week too as I have been creating some new Project books for a my Etsy shop and prizes for other projects. More about those later.

My poor sewing machine is looking rather dusty in this close up. I do clean it before every sewing session, honest, but working with a felt base does throw a lot of fibres up.

The rainbow blanket I shared last week is continuing to grow slowly although is in competition with a new CAL that I could not resist. It is the Hotel of Bees CAL organised by Sandra at Cherryheart and Sam at BetsyMakes. The pattern is by Christina Hadderingh at a Spoonful of Yarn. It is a lovely pattern that is very addictive, although requires some concentration. There has been some ripping back when I have been too busy looking a the TV instead of my crochet.

I am on the third and final section and will reveal all when it is complete.

The garden is looking lush despite having very little rain for many weeks now. I cannot remember such a dry April in a long time. It has been cold too this week and not conducive to pottering in the garden.

The blossom has been beautiful and the miniature apple tree is still wreathed in pretty flowers despite the cold and a few frosty nights. 

Well, reading through I seem to have promised three future posts so had better get myself organised, projects completed and writing done. Perhaps having a target will help me focus.

I hope you have all had a good week and are enjoying the long weekend if you live here in the UK.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Catching Up

It had been my intention to catch up with blogging and recent projects before Five on Friday came round again but here we are and Friday is upon us. Slowly, slowly I am becoming more familiar with the new laptop but much slower than I would wish. However, here a few projects I have been getting on with recently - happy distractions from technology.

1. Happy Scrappy Patches

Back in March I shared the Spring patch here using a Jessie Chorley screen printed patch. It was so enjoyable doing some simple stitch that I decide to create patches for the rest of the seasons in a similar style. Eventually they will be made into a wall hanging.

2.  New Pattern
Baby Kimono Jacket

This little baby kimono jacket was made from a Joji Locatelli pattern on Ravelry and was completed just in time for the arrival of the latest member of the family. My niece and her husband had a beautiful baby boy at the end of March. They are all well and very happy.

3. Old Pattern
Cardigan and Hat

This is an old family favourite pattern and has been made dozens of times over the years. My mother knitted it for me *!#*# years ago and every family member since. I changed the lacy panel to a cable pattern as I thought it was more suited to a boy. The hat is a very basic one given to me by a friend and again knitted numerous times. 

4. Sock Knitting

There is generally always a pair of socks on the go as they are so useful to take to appointments to while away the time if there are delays. This is a child's pair using up the leftovers from my last pair of long socks. Progress is slow but that is okay as it is useful to have something to pick up and go. 

5. Rainbow Blanket

The Rainbow blanket is growing, although again progress is quite slow. It is lovely and relaxing to do a few rows in the evening when I am tired and not in a mind for stitching or anything else that taxes the brain. The coloured stripes are completely random with no master plan, just bits and pieces of Stylecraft Special DK left over from other projects. There will be a lot of ends to stitch in and I keep thinking it would be sensible to do a few as I go along but it hasn't happened yet! 

Joining with Tricky and Carly at FASTblog for Five on Friday.
Click on the link to find out what others have been doing.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Technology Aaaaaaggggghhhhh

Hello, it is good to be back after a few technological hiccups. Thank you everyone who commented on my last post, I really enjoyed reading your comments but apologies for not replying. There has been quite a lot of frustration and gnashing of teeth going on trying to sort out the laptop. Before sharing these problems I will share some relaxing pictures of the garden, which has kept me sane.

1. Blossom

Last weekend brought glorious sunshine and the cherry tree blossom looked wonderful against the blue sky.

2. Viburnum

The viburnum has been covered in blossom this year and the scent is wonderful. Perfect for sitting by with a restorative drink.


The primroses love the dappled shade at the back of the garden and are increasing in number year after year. I think a primrose must have crossed with a garden centre primula to create the pink one. It is such a pretty delicate colour. Nature is very clever!

4. Clematis and Honeysuckle

On the fence the clematis and honeysuckle have burst back into life. The alpine clematis always flowers first and as it fades the honeysuckle starts to open. I cut the honeysuckle back quite severely last year as it was beginning to invade my neighbours garden but I am pleased to see there are flowers forming.

5. Groundcover

A couple of years ago I planted some periwinkle at the side of the garden that borders the Parks Trust open ground beyond my fence to try and blanket out the weeds that were constantly coming through. When I first moved into the bungalow the open ground was beautifully kept and managed but with years of cut backs the lovely plants that were there have been taken over by weeds and brambles, which I am always battling to keep out. The periwinkle has done a great job and is a nice thick mat with lots of flowers this year. The grape hyacinths have not been put off and are still flowering and the forget-me-nots provide there own ground cover - all over the garden.

After looking through the garden photos from last weekend I feel much more relaxed so will keep the saga of the laptop short. After spending days backing up the laptop, (it took ages because it kept closing down on me for no reason rather than there being lots to save) I took it to a local repair shop that had been recommended to me. They mend, update, sell reconditioned models as well as new ones so I asked for their advice what would be most appropriate considering my needs. The laptop was left with them and they promised to telephone with advice after they had a look at it. I was very surprised to get a call 5 days later telling me it was fixed. Wires must have got crossed somewhere because that had not been the original plan. Yes, the laptop no longer closed down on me and the touch pad no longer jumped but the processor was still too old and slow to achieve what I wanted. Big sigh and rethink.

Not having any savvy teenagers or a technically minded partner it is difficult to know where to go for advice. Friends were helpful but are not much more knowledgeable than me - i.e. "umm don't know"! None of the family are technologically minded and live too far away to be any practical help. I decided  a new laptop was to be the best option and with a bit of research, decided on my basic requirements. All I needed now was the confidence to do some laptop shopping. Is it just me or do others find technology stores daunting? The first one I went in, which will remain nameless, the gentleman 'helping' me was much more interested in selling me multiple add ons rather than showing me the couple of laptops I expressed an interest in. Needless to say I walked out. 

Eventually I ended up at a well known department store where I know they offer good after sales service. I had put off going in there as it is usually populated with earnest men asking lots of technical questions, which makes me feel totally out of place and inadequate. Fortunately a young women came to help and advise and did not try to sell me the most expensive item in the shop. So I am now the owner of a new laptop and slowly, slowly trying to get to grips with the set up and all it's features. I know it is going to take time, practice and patience but the reality is I would much rather be sewing, knitting or crocheting. Well, at least I have not wanted to throw this one out of the window - just yet.

Apologies, as this shortened version is still rather rambling. 
Thank goodness there is escape in the garden. 
Joining with Tricky and Carly at FAST blog for Five on Friday.