Sunday, 30 May 2010

Sunday blues ... and pinks and purples

Missed out on the car boot this morning as I was still lozzicking in bed at 8am.  I wasn't too upset when Anne told me she was on her way there already since it was blowing a gale and threatening rain so I leapt out of bed - metaphorically speaking, of course, I don't do leaping, running, jogging or any such rapid movements these days.  I stayed up far too late watching re-runs of Criminal Minds and doing 'just one more' granny.  I was on a mission to get on with all the finishing off projects that were hanging around.  I set about backing a baby blanket I'd knitted in gorgeous baby cashmere and alpaca garter stitch  - absolute heaven to knot with, so warm and soft.  But boy,  the finishing was a bit of a nightmare.  Will and his girlfriend came home and were rather amused to find me sewing with one rubber glove on - it was the only way I could grip the needle to pull it through the fleece as I blanket stitched my way around the edge - very, very slowly!  I have another one to do but that might have to wait until my fingers have recovered.  It was quite a night for hand sewing.

It's gloomy weather and it's bank holiday Sunday so what to do?  Stay in the warm and craft?  No, go to a BBQ of course!  Having promised to take a pud I put my pinny on and set to making a Pavlova.  Don't you just love the glossy white creaminess of whipped egg whites and sugar?  Anne popped in to show off her car boot finds - she really is master at her craft.  Years of practice.  Hopefully, she'll have them on view on her blog later .

by the way, there are no calories in Pavlova on holiday weekends.

I finished my felted Noro bag - lined with some vintage Laura Ashley fabric that's been in my stash for many a year and trimmed the inside with some purple velvet ribbon and made a little detachable flower embellishment to match.

I think I like the hand sewing finishing best of all.

I'd finally finished a little cotton crochet bag that I started last Summer.  I almost finished it before but I wasn't happy with the lining so I made a new one with some pretty cotton I picked up in the charity shop.  I hunted high and low for the pansy embellishment I'd made for it - found the leaves and the handle but no pansy.  I think I am better off with organised chaos as I knew where everything was before I had a mega tidy up.  After many hours of searching I gave up and turned to Nicky Epstein's Crocheted Flowers (a present from my sister)  for a pattern to make a new one.  Then I remembered I'd given it away when one of the sisterhood was admiring it at one of our gatherings!  Doh! All it needed now was a few beads for the centre to give it a bit of glam.

A little crown picot edging and a long strap of trebles, leaf pattern made up as I went along!  

One o'clock found me still sitting in my pjs finishing off some corsages I made last year - once the beads were out I was on a roll.  I haven't introduced you to my bead stash yet and it's rather depleted as my obsessive/compulsive desires have moved on to fabric and wool but it's still rather lovely - I like to look at them all like little sweeties in their little vials.  I used to spend many an hour bead hunting when I was rather lonely and bored out in North Carolina at the weekends. 

I put a lovely old silk blouse in my recycling stash - to be honest, it's been in and out of the pile so often - I hold it up and think it's too nice to cut up and maybe one day it will fit me again but delusion over, I put scissors to sleeve and it was too late to turn back.   It does look rather more at home on these little silk and mohair corsages than sitting in the bottom of my stash basket.

That made my thoughts turn to some gorgeous Liberty lawn I'd picked up in the antique centre in York some time back.  Ooh, just perfect for these little babies.

And this little lady was rather dull and slightly oversized in her naked form (sounds rather familiar) so with a little bit of Liberty and a nip and tuck here with some Debbie Bliss silk and she's made over into rather an attractive little flower, don't you think?  Who says you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear?  There's hope for us all.

They were all looking a little somber but I think Liberty has put a little life into them!

A few more to the pile and they look almost good enough to eat.  All destined for Anne's website I think, just have to get on and finish a few more.

So, I was looking through the lovely old patterns I borrowed from my Mum for a little inspiration - what would take my fancy?  

One for the Winter methinks


Perhaps not.  A jaunty beret maybe?

Or perhaps, if I had more time (and didn't already have a boot sale hoard in my cupboard) I could make one of these?

Not sure my crochet (or patience) is quite up to it but as Paton's say:

And the housework?  Maybe tomorrow because you know what they say:

Well, the clouds are gathering that must mean it's time I was off to the BBQ - better gather up the wine, minted lamb burgers from the lovely Radford's in Sleights, the Pavlova - oh yes, and the gloves, hat, scarf, fleece and possibly the wellies too - this is Britain after all!

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Let's think now

A bit of a mixed bag of a bank holiday weekend.  Friday was glorious - managed to get the grass cut and even sit outside in the sunshine with a little aperatif and round the evening off with a little more crafting.  Almost stumped by how to convert my hexagons into a square cushion I set to experimenting.  I made some half hexagons for the big gaps and then fiddled about with single, double, triple and double triples to fill the pointy gaps.  I've edged the straight (ish) sides with trebles but am not 100% happy with the result - I may just work on it some more whilst I try and find a cushion pad to fit (why, oh why do I always do things the hard way - less haste, more speed I hear my mother cry).  And then I have to decide how to back it.  Oh, decisions, decisions.

Yes, it still needs some work and another press...... ho hum.

And who would have thought making large grannies out or baby grannies would be such a difficult job - agonising over the colours for the centres - I think I need an injection of 'let the creative spirit flow' rather than thinking too much.  Finishing 'just one more' granny square has taken the place of 'just one more chapter' before I go to bed and now I'm usually too tired to read more than a few pages.

Saturday morning found me slumbering blissfully - no sunshine peeking through the window - until I turned over, settling myself for a few more minutes, took a one eyed peek at the clock and glory be!  It was 9.30!  I never (correction, rarely) sleep late so I leapt out of bed feeling rather discombobulated, my mind already racing with all the things I wanted to do.  Must have needed it, I hear my Mother say.  Mind you, no sunshine means much less temptation to be out in the garden but the distinct and rather grim possibility of doing some housework.  It's getting a bit tiresome stepping over and round all the obstacles littered about - just waiting for me to do something with them - re-home, car boot, just put away!  It all reduces the creative time but sometimes needs must.  Another of my Mother's favourite sayings.  Blimey, am I turning into my mother?  Or maybe it's the book I am currently reading entering my subconscious - The Things Your Mother Never Told You by Olivia Lichtenstein.  I confess I was drawn by the cover but it's an interesting and sometimes humorous read with parallel stories of a woman confronting the break up of her marriage and an imminently empty nest and her mother's untold story of love during apartheid at it's height in South Africa.  I've been to Durban and was quite shocked at how much racism there still is.

Quite why this has imported the wrong way round heaven only knows but I daren't do it again.  Every time I upload photos my youngest, dearest son thunders downstairs in disgust to check on how long it's going to take because it slows down his X-Box, bless his little cotton socks.

Feeling just ever so slightly ashamed I gave the bathroom a good going over combined with showering - very efficient of me.  Oh yes, my bath and tiles are not matt antique white anymore - they are, in fact, sparkly white - who'd have thought it?   A quick trip to the lovely Perry's in Ruswarp - by, it was fair nithering up there, as they say round here - for a few little additions to the garden family.  The pond needed a bit more oomph in the plant division as the algae is already growing like mad and I just couldn't resist a few little extras.

And a photo for Deborah at Fondant Kiss - those flowers (Aquilegia or Columbine) you thought were weeds: putting on a lovely display in Perry's border!  Sorry it's a bit blurry but is was rather windy and cold - I wasn't lingering!

So now I think I'll just give the housework a little more thought and retire to the craft room and see what inspires me.  So many ideas rattling around in there.  I want to try Lucy's method of joining as you go, I've just borrowed some vintage crochet patterns from my Mum (more on that later) and I have a pile of stuff to finish off.  First, I'll just make a quick cuppa .... and maybe a biscuit or two to keep my energy up.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Sunny thoughts and high hopes

So, son number one has come home for a quick visit - wonderful, fabulous - but where is he?  Not here, that's where.  It's his birthday in early June so I suggested we trot off to York for a little birthday shopping trip.  I waited and waited, did my ironing, pottered about in the garden and  lo, he awoke and suggested a hit and run trip to the designer outlet :(  Not quite the mother/son day I had in mind but beggars can't be choosers.  Rather a lot of money and not much time later we were back at home with designer purchases, a diminished bank balance and a promise of help in the garden.  Son number three laid low whilst Ben and I started digging for gold at the back of the garden.  Back breaking, hot work  Ben gives up once the turf has been removed so I toil away hoping no one will pop by to say hello!  Newcastle beckoned so Ben headed North and I continued to toil but now, one broken back, one very red nose and ruined nails later, I have a pond!  Well, actually, I had a black plastic lined hole in the lawn but  high hopes.

Having taken two days off to spend time with said son and finding him absent this is how my second day went - dig a bit, sit a bit, crochet an African flower.  Dig a bit, sit a bit, crochet another flower.  So mow I have a nice pile of flowers and a mind full of plans for the pond planting.  I'd like to think that I've done my year's share of exercise over the past few days but as I slide into the bath I'm not at all convinced.  Oh, but how lovely to slump on the sofa with a lovely pile of wool.....oh, and a very well deserved glass of wine.

By the end of day three I felt sure I must have sweated at least twenty pounds off but the image confronting me in the mirror in my shorts told quite a different story.  Anyway, the pond is in situ, just waiting for six weeks for some fish and I managed to fit in a little bit of crochet along the way.  None of the weekend's projects are much to look at just yet but as I say .... high hopes.

A dear friend gave me this lovely hunk of dead tree - as soon as I saw it I knew what I would do with it - the perfect seat at the edge of the pond where I can sit and eat strawberries while I admire my handiwork.

Just need to do a few more flowers and then figure out how to fill in the gaps and then the cushion should be about done.   The photo doesn't really do the colours justice but I can't seem to get it right.

In the spirit of using up as much as possible I've also been using up all the little bits and bobs of ball ends.  They started off as little buttons ...

but then grew into tiny granny squares - I actually had a few 'spare' navy blue squares but I'm sure the birds made off with them when I was sitting in the garden!  Cheeky devils but I quite like the idea of my little feathered friends lining their nests with a little granny square.

In true British weather form we've gone from tropical heat one day to decidedly chilly overnight.  Oh well, at least I'm not torn between the garden and my craft projects - always got to look on the bright side, hey?

Monday, 17 May 2010

Weekend excess and deprivation

Crafting was a bit on the limited side this weekend as we had a family reunion with our brother.  We don't see him very often so it was a mammoth weekend of catching up, eating, drinking and not sleeping enough.  I did manage to squeeze in three car boot sales with my sister.  She had a rather restrained but quite successful foray despite the ridiculous weather - you can see her bargains on her blog .  I too was restrained - held back mostly by a migraine, nithering temperatures and a serious lack of sleep (no, no, the excess of wine the previous night didn't bother me at all - in fact, I was jolly impressed with myself that I even got up that early - serious bad hair day though and no make up so of course I met quite a few people I know!)  I bought a few doilies and a dahlia for my big bro but nothing much else.    What?  I completely forgot - until I emptied out the contents of my bag - that I also bought some vintage 60s fabric.  No idea what I'm going to do with the paisley but I am thinking the flowery will be made into an apron and the colander (£1) will be home to some flowers for the garden.

Having taken inspiration from Lucy's use of vibrant colours at Attic24  and desperate to try my hand at African Flowers  I was sooo happy to put my feet up last night and commune with my wool.  It's going to be a gentle transition as I don't have too many vibrant colours in my stash but I think this isn't a bad start.  

I'm not sure what to make - a cushion, a scarf, a bag?  We'll see.  Eldest son is home on Wednesday for a few days but I should have some weekend crafting time ahead of me.

Have a lovely week - fingers crossed that today's sunshine is a sign of things to come.  I don't think my beans and courgettes can take much more of this cold!

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Time for a Change - just wish it was the weather!

Well, if it's good enough for the government of this country then it's time my sofa followed suit.  My house is small, my stash is large so I decided this would be the year of converting 'stuff' into 'things' - things useful, things beautiful and things for the lovely people I count as friends and family.  So, in need of a bit of a rest from crocheting corsages what was I going to do with all the 'oddballs' of wool I have?  Why, a granny square throw, of course!  

My grandmother made us all crochet blankets when we were younger and I remember every night looking at all the squares, trying to decide which one was my favourite.  Of course, I never could make up my mind and it's the same now.  

Putting the colours together is part of the joy of creating - with wool, with fabric, beads, buttons, paints ...... it's all just so tempting and more than a little addictive.  I was really quite happy with my result - the textures soft and tactile - a mix if bamboo and cashmerino, joined together with the ridge on the upperside this time, finished off with two rounds of trebles and a last round of double crochet.   A very pleasing palette of muted mixed with the odd touch of vibrant.  Yes, very pleased ... until ... I had a browse on one of my favourite blogspots and saw what Lucy of  Attic24 had created!  Me oh, my oh - what a gobsmackingly wonderful mix of colours!  I am a little jealous and even a little more tempted to abandon my usual penchant for the soft pastels and leap into the world of brights!  I'm feeling a little dull by comparison and the weather isn't helping.  

I think the courgettes and the beans have fallen victim to the frost and my newly planted Actinidia is looking very sorry for itself.  I guess the old saying 'N'er cast a clout 'til May is out' hasn't been around all these years for nothing.  As I finished off the throw last night I ended up with a rather lovely pile of snippings - so pretty.  I wonder if the birds would like them to line their little nests with?

Well, big brother is visiting this weekend so the crafting may be a little curtailed but I have a little practical project in mind which involves a long since knitted and fulled 'bag' in Noro - it's quite bright so I am on the right path and I think it's going to get me a fair few comments on my next business trip.  Intrigued?  I should have something to show you by Monday.  So until then, ta-ta and so long and have a great weekend.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

The North Wind did blow .... but who cares!

A little show of Honesty - self set at the bottom of the garden - brings joy to my heart as the garden comes to life and colour appears all over the place.

After a day spent catching up with myself and a rather late night I was leaving it up to fate to see if I would be up on time to go to the car boot sale with my sister but my eyes opened at 7.10 and when Anne said there were two on today my mind was made up. Got the ironing out of the way and togged up to brave the north wind that would be blowing up on the Moors. The sun kept threatening to put in an appearance but the wind was very keen and almost ruined Anne's day - she hates the cold but how can you be miserable when you see these little beauties - pale blue Legbar hen's eggs - almost too pretty to eat.
I was trying to be restrained and a bit more particular in my car boot shopping today but for 50p this lovely glass dish caught my eye - just right for some bons-bons.
For my jug collection - a steal at £2 for both the jug and the sugar bowl! I also picked up some white cotton thread for 25p and a few more plants for the garden - the lawn area is shrinking as the borders grow in size!
And the quilt? Well, I made a promise to myself - but that was before I saw how much work needed doing in the garden after just 5 days away but yesterday I managed to attach the binding and spent the evening hand hemming it onto the quilt ...

And today ..... I finished it completely!!! I am so pleased with my little self and even Will came to marvel at my achievement. It was a labour of love but now that it is on my bed I am very proud .... and resolve to have a go at another one - but not with such tiny diamonds next time!

So, having spent the best part of the day outside, painting the fence, weeding, cutting the grass, potting on some seedlings and planting out the courgettes and peas I think I deserve a nice big glass of wine .... and if someone could just carry me upstairs I think I'd like to have a long soak in a hot bath......

Saturday, 8 May 2010

A little Finnish Inspiration

I don't normally get much free time when I'm on my jaunts but this trip was a little different - light nights, not too late at the office and not too much wine so I took advantage of the chance to get outside for some fresh air and a little exercise. The shops I really wanted to visit closed before I got back from work but I took a nice long walk taking in a couple of my favourite department stores, Stockmann and Sokos and made a little purchase ..... I feel a crochet bag coming on...

On the third night Ulla and I managed to leg it to one of my favourite - but a bit expensive shops - the name of which I can't remember (or probably spell) but I made another little purchase ..... there's definitely a bag in here just waiting to emerge

On the fourth night I went to visit my favourite little girl in the whole wide world (oh, and her Mum and brother!) We had such fun and she presented me with a late birthday gift - some lovely Marimekko napkins and some girlie tools for doing manly jobs. Siiri made me a lovely fan to keep me cool when I am rushing around ...

And here she is - getting nice and comfy with her favourite pillow ready for the ten stories I promised I'd read to her. By the ninth one she conceded to have the tenth one read in bed as she was sooooo tired. It's great to have some girlie time and I take my hat off to Riikka - two lively little ones and she handles it all so well. Severi is desperately trying to catch up with his sister's grasp of English which is a delight to listen to. I'm sure he's making perfect sense but it gives us all a giggle.How did I spend my hours on the plane? Well, my hands are rarely idle so I started on a mini project I have in mind. It should be a Christmas present but I probably won't be able to wait that long to give it away.

But the best part of the trip..... having my luggage arrive back at the same time as me and coming home to a lovely cup of tea. Ahhh, bliss.

So, now to the chores that domestic bliss entails (whoever came up with that term needs their head looking at), a quick trip to York to replenish the fridge with some nice bits and pieces and then to the garden .... oh, and with any luck the final trimming of the quilt. I may need a few more hours in my weekend... hmmmm......