Friday, 30 April 2010

Giveaway prize winning today.

Sorry there are no photo's I'm in the middle of patchworking.

I wrote your names down onto paper, cut them out and picked one out of the proverbial hat. (actually I placed them onto the desk and closed my eyes, rummaged them around a bit and picked one)

Amelia your the lucky winner, well done. Hopefully you'll leave a message for me with your email on it. (don't worry I won't publish it) and we can exchange addresses and you can tell me your favourite colours so I can choose a skein of Wollmeise for you.

Mandy surveys the other presents she has bought and wonders how much this is going to cost to get to the states....


edited to add.


Where are my manners, Thank you everybody for taking part. I really enjoyed reading everybodys stories about there first memories of there favourite fruits and vegetables. It was very good fun.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Phone sock's

It all started when son no.1 came home with a ridiculously expensive brand new phone. (that is mine in the photographs, it costs me about thirty quid a year to run and its ever so old) Anyway, I could see it was a precious object to him so I knit him up a phone sock which he was really pleased with. (I don't have a photo of that, he's never around for long enough to grab it off him, wash it and then photograph it)

The next day he went to work and when he took his phone out of his pocket, well, the phone sock caused a little bit of a stir. There were lots of questions about where he had got it from and bearing in mind he is mainly surrounded by chaps, it was the chaps that were the most interested. I immediately had many orders, I had to calm son no.1 down and say actually I don't want to knit phone socks for the rest of my life. (Well, I would if I was paid a living wage, but you know how these things go) But, I will knit one for the engineer that is teaching you this year, which is this one.

And he was tickled pink by it.

And then son no.1 sort of promised one of the receptionists a phone sock. As I was in the middle of several projects I kept putting it off, but I decided to get it out of the way yesterday and I've made her something that I hope she likes.

I am quite pleased with the flower.

I dread to think how many order's he's going to come home with tomorrow.

And son no.2 has just told me this evening that he was talking about my handmade socks at sixth form and two of his friends have requested a pair each. Thanks for that love...

Edited to add, the flower was not of my own invention. It was late when I posted and I should have referred you to whom the designer was, apologies.

This lovely flower was thought up by Susan b Anderson and is published in her book Itty-Bitty Nursery as Pacifier Clips:Flowers. She has a full tutorial on her blog

Full Moon

Have you seen the moon? I think the halo around it at the moment is wonderful, courtesy of the dust from Iceland's volcano.

I captured these images yesterday evening, even with a tripod my little camera struggles to capture just how jaw droppingly beautiful the moon is at the moment.

Its a full moon tonight, (although it is cloudy here) go out, look up, and if you look carefully you can almost imagine that there is just the slightest hint of blue, a blue moon.

Mandy wanders off singing "blueee Moooon, you saw me standing alone...."

Monday, 26 April 2010

Such a lovely weekend.

If a little exhausting, actually I am still recovering, I am absolutely worn out.

On Saturday I went to a local meet up of the Warwickshire Quilters, which was a meeting of all of the quilting groups in Warwickshire. I believe this event happens about once a year. I had only intended popping in for an hour just to find out about our local quilting group and where they met, I stayed for the whole day! I was made to feel very welcome and I am very much looking forward to seeing the ladies that I met at the next meeting.

The ladies above all followed the same instructions, the centre of their quilts had to be made with diamonds and the next border had to have a block's on the corners and so the instructions go on. Its very interesting to see how their quilts have developed and how they are so very different to each others.

I loved the colours of this quilt, the quilter thought that perhaps it was a little bright, I didn't think so. I loved the use of her black which really makes the colours come alive.

and this very beautiful quilt made by Sue Cook has been published in the magazine Patchwork & Quilting as a tutorial, part 5 is in May's edition. It is even more beautiful in the flesh, I am so glad that I have seen it.

Having gone to bed very early and slept late hubby felt that I could do Wonderwool. I had been saying that it was too far for ages, but he was game and although I was nursing a cold, I thought well I can sit and sniffle at home or I can do it in a car, so I dozed myself up, tissues at the ready.

The Black Mountains on the way up.

We arrived at 1.30 p.m. so I had just enough time to go around the stalls once. I thoroughly enjoyed it, one would think I would have bought lots but I only bought some Noro for my blanket and a few buttons.

I met old friends and new, especially one lady, *waving to Jenny* who came over to say hello because she recognised me from reading my blog. She was lovely and said how much she enjoyed reading my blog, it made me feel all pink. I couldn't wait to tell my boys when I got home, honestly its been such a buzz. I told her I'd love it if she said hello on my blog, fingers crossed.

We followed the River Wye for many miles, such a stunning river, I would love to spend an afternoon relaxing by it.

So beautiful, maybe next time.

And then we wandered slowly home looking for somewhere to eat and stopped in Stratford upon Avon for a bite to eat before coming home and hitting the sack.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Gifts from the Orient.

Do you remember Lucy? ( Son no.1's first love.) I still speak quite often to her, mainly at three in the morning on Facebook when another night has been disturbed and she asks me why I am up. We often have deep and meaningfuls at that time in the morning as you may imagine.

Well, she has a new beau and he is looking after her and she is very happy. He recently took her to China, how fabulous is that. On her exciting adventures many photo's were taken of her wearing the hat and scarf I knit for her, especially when she visited Ice City. She later told me they really saved her life as she was absolutely frozen.

And she came home with gifts for me. Which was a wonderful surprise and I was tickled pink by her thoughtfulness. Fancy thinking about little old me when your having a wonderful time in China, but think about me she did.

One of the presents she gave to me is a beautiful, light as a feather silk scarf, it truly is beautiful. I am saving it for special occasions.

And then I opened another present to discover a very beautiful blue bag. Perfect I thought, I just need a bag for taking my sock knitting around in and that will fit the bill beautifully.

So I opened it and found this.

and then I opened that and found this.. and then I started giggling. It was like the Russian dolls of bags. It was fabulous and such Fun.

and then I opened that and found this....

and my giggling was becoming louder

and then I found the tiniest of bags. (which will be perfect for my sewing notions)

And at that point I was just giggling my head off, it just tickled me completely. So a strange woman sat on her own in the living room giggling at bags.. No wonder my sons don't understand me.

They are such wonderful presents. Thank you Lucy.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Obsession.

I knew as soon as the first folds came together in the shape of a flying goose that I was done fore. I knew when I let out a silly giggle when the first row of geese came flying past that I was falling and falling incredibly fast into a powerful love affair.

And I knew when I finished the final seam and turned my block over to view my work and literally gasped with delight. It took my breath away.

And I haven't been able to stop thinking about these folded flying geese since. I am in love with them.

Fortunately for me, I had gathered a few metres of fabric that another lady had kindly destashed in my direction, which I had fully intended to make Son no.2 a quilt for University. So on Monday I showed my son this fully completed block and asked him if he would like a quilt made with this design. The split seconds that I was waiting for an answer were the longest I've ever known. He likes it and said yes, it would be nice.

So I have been washing and drying old fabric, cutting many, many squares, 240 2" x 2" 120 31/2" x 2" etc etc. And this is just for six blocks. Interestingly you can just about get six blocks out of 2 metres of fabric. (1 metre light and 1 metre dark)

And after working for many hours and getting up at 3.30 a.m. this morning to sew until straight through until 10 a.m. you have this.

This is six blocks worth, I am just in the process of choosing a central fabric, I am not sure if I have anything that will suit. Which may mean another trip to the fabric shop, oh the trials I have to endure, shocking it is, shocking.

And of course if you give in, in any way to your obsessions, especially if you live with male offspring, you end up with this.

I am off for a shower, I'll tackle it after that.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

7 things.

I picked up the baton over at Diane's blog to reveal 7 things about my self, here goes!

1. I used to take my comics over to the graveyard across the road from my home to read them whilst sitting on a bench underneath a tree. I'd sit there for hours, everyone knew me and many people would say hello, it was the only way to get some peace and quiet as there were seven of us at home. I always found it one of the most peaceful places to be.

2. I used to regularly climb the walls of Kenilworth Castle, one of which was about 30ft high. All of my friends did it, until one lad broke his arm when he fell and the warden became a bit more alert as to our activities. These days I look at that wall and shudder at the height of it and I have Never admitted this to my boys!

3. My right big toe clicks if I move it in a certain way. I used to drive my twin sister to distraction with this in the middle of the night.

4. I love to play Scrabble, I'm not fantastically good but I enjoy it, sadly I am surrounded by men who are either dyslexic (son no.1), mentally not into words more into maths (hubby) and a boy that if he put his mind to it could be quite good but refuses to play. (son no.2) I tried to play Scrabble online but found that mostly people were cheating. When challenged as to what the word meant that they had put down, they would bluster but not answer the question. I remain frustrated that I don't have a regular Scrabble partner.

5. I have favourite trees that I always look out for when going down a road/park/motorway. I like to see how they are doing and am deeply affected if I see that they have been cut down.

6. I like to feed the ducks in the Abbey Fields and have got to the stage that I don't need to borrow a child to feed them. I often don't bother in the summer as there are enough children around to feed them but when the weather is harsh in the middle of winter hubby and I often trot over to feed them half a loaf of bread.

7. My dirty food secret is Mr Kiplings French Fancies, especially the yellow ones that taste of lemon. I think they have the right ratio of cake, icing and butter cream and are just the ticket to brighten a Sunday evening.

If anyone would like to pick up the baton, be my guest.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Flower Power.

Whilst at our quilting class today I happened to notice Carie's rather pretty Cath Kidston pin cushion. It is funny how the things that you notice or think about tend to form a theme during a certain period of time, whether it be a day or a week. For the last couple of weeks I have been thinking that I need a pin cushion. Not least because when I am hand sewing in the evening I don't think hubby would appreciate it if I used the leather suit as a place to secure my needle and I have been using whatever garment I have been wearing.

Seeing Carie's pin cushion today reminded me of the various pin cushions that I had made whilst at Junior school. I was quite blessed, not only did I have a form tutor who was very into crafting and painting, I was lucky in that Mr Davis taught me for two years. We also had extra lessons just on sewing, cooking and woodwork and I seem to remember pin cushions came up in sewing too. Sadly I don't have any of these pin cushions but I suspect that my mother still has one in her work box which is not dissimilar from Cath Kidston's flower pot design, - in fact I think she copied me! It was very similar with the use of red felt, the flowerpot shape and flowers (fewer but much bigger) at the top, mine had zigzag tape around the edge of the pot at the top and it would have been stuffed with a pair of my Mum's old tights, such was the glamor of the crafting world in the middle of the seventies.

And there was another pin cushion that I remember giving to my Nan, which from that moment on was in constant use. I was always quite pleased because she obviously loved it so, I often saw it perched on a side table from where it had been used the previous evening when we visited for morning coffee. It wasn't very big, but was just right for storing a few pins and the odd needle. I remembered it was a flower with round petals with a solid centre for storing the pins.. and to be honest that was about all I remember.

Okay, Flowers... That would mean circles.

I cut a few circles out of waste materials that I had lying around. You will notice that some of the circles are made up of more than one colour of material, this was just some waste from my cobweb block. (realises hasn't put up post about cobweb block, makes mental note to remedy)

I used a drinking glass as my template. I cut out ten circles enough for four petals, one centre (which was slightly larger) and one backing.

Made the petals, (I am sure I don't need to give you all of the instructions)

Then I curled the petals slightly and sewed them to secure the shape at the bottom and sewed those together. I achieved it by sewing opposite petals together and then the other opposites. It was a fiddle to do.

Hemmed the bottom circle and

pulled it together before sewing onto the bottom of my flower. Being careful not to sew the flower petals flat, you need them to still have shape.

and it should look a bit like that. This makes the flower stable and you need that at this stage.

I haven't got photographs of the yellow ball being formed, mainly because it took three attempts, there was much swearing at one point and when I did look close to success I wanted to sew it down as quickly as possible.

It is the same technique as for the turquoise circle above but this time you need to use a thick thread which is doubled, you need to pack the stuffing in as hard as you can, you pull the thread up as tight as you can and then (and this is most important) you need to wake a sleeping hubby (I'm sorry the cat won't do, I tried) to put his thumb firmly on your reef knot whilst you secure it and all before your thread snaps and you have to start again.

Whilst I was doing this I realised that the stuffed centre circle needed to be bigger so I tried a larger circle and my results were much better.

And then you should have this (or something like it)

The petals make it perfect for resting on the arms of comfy sofa's, so it shouldn't slip off so easily.

and I know there is one person in particular who will be grinning, especially with this shot.

It is almost a carbon copy of a sketch I drew earlier of how I wanted to hand quilt one of my patchwork blocks. Its true, (for me at least anyway) as I said earlier, the things that you tend to notice or think about tend to form a theme during a certain period of time, whether it be a day or a week.

Flower power in action.

Who is flying?

This is an interesting site showing you planes that are actually flying. I like it. It will be interesting to see how this site looks when we are all back to normal.

Flightrader 24.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Flying Geese turn into roses.

Before I start, I'm loving your stories about your favourite fruit and vegetables for my giveaway, keep 'em coming.

Last month I had an extra class for my block of the month only because I have double booked June's date. (more on that in June) Very cleverly Anita managed to fit me in to an evening class that were doing the very same block that I would be missing. Actually this block takes two classes and I have to bring it along to July's class to finish it off.

The flying geese rectangles were very interesting, I'd wondered how they came together and once I started to work on them it became very logical. Getting my points to stay as points does seem to be tricky. I can see how my work is improving (and has improved considerably since buying the new sewing machine) but I do think it is going to take quite a bit more practise before it all starts to come together on a regular basis.

Excusing the shoddy photography that has bleached the colours out of the material.

I can see the faults, but there are a couple of points that I am particularly pleased about.

Including the way the central cross, crosses perfectly. Of that, I am very proud.

Its tricky this patchworking!

Monday, 12 April 2010

Givaway.

I am still tickled pink by Jenny's lovely giveaway that I think that it is time to return the favour.

The giveaway will run until the 30th April and then I will pick a name at random.

What is in the giveaway I hear you ask, well I thought as it was my first giveaway a skein of Wollmeise would be in order. I'm not sure which colour, mainly because I couldn't decide which one to put up. So if you really favour a colour or hate a certain colour this is for you as we can talk if you win. And there will be a few other bits and bobs that I find put into your package.

And what would I like you to write about.

What is your favourite fruit or vegetable and your first memory of it?

Mine is tomatoes, barely a day goes by that I don't eat a tomato, either a cherry tomato popped into my mouth as I'm passing in the kitchen as they have been sat on the windowsill gently warming in the sun. Or cooked in a sauce or stew, or perhaps just a dollop of chutney on the side. I love tomatoes, my days would not be happy if I did not have tomatoes in my life. Seriously, if I became allergic to them, well, it doesn't bear thinking about.

I love tomatoes even more than I love peas. And I like peas alot.

When I was very small about four years old, my grandfather had a large vegetable patch in his garden which had a greenhouse. And in this greenhouse my Grandfather grew grapes and cucumbers and tomatoes. His grapevine was very old and gnarled I loved it. But it was the tomatoes that really took my attention. And every time I visited him and Grandma I used to toddle off to the greenhouse, I was only allowed into the greenhouse if I stood still in the middle of it because greenhouses are not really safe for children to play in. So I used to sit on the floor. Always being a child that was safety conscious. And I used to stare at the bright red jewels on the tomato plants and beg my Grandfather for a tomato. He always said "no, the tomatoes are for Grandma." And it made me sad, because I loved tomatoes. It was a very long hot summer, the sort that goes on forever in childhood and I was often to be found sitting on the floor of the greenhouse staring at the tomatoes, never daring to pick one. I watched the tomatoes ripen and disappear. (I am sure Grandmother gave me tomatoes in salads, I just can't remember that part of the story) Then one day when all that was left on the plants were just a few leaves that had seen better days and and lots of tiny, tiny red tomatoes no bigger than your thumb nail and many were only as big as your little finger nail, Grandfather said I could pick them and eat them. And I sat on that sandy hot floor in the greenhouse carefully picking these warm and sweet tiny red jewels and popping them in my mouth, they were absolute heaven. I think I was there for at least half an hour before other grandchildren came to find me and they too were overjoyed that Grandfather had said we could have the tomatoes and they helped, although I didn't really need any help, to strip all of the plants bare.

Good Luck.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Project code named Baby Bear.

Not everyone is on Ravelry, although I have no idea why they wouldn't be.

I am just having a silly moment so I thought I would share with you some information about a project that I am just starting. I was going to photograph the yarn cake I had made and realised that would give away some of my surprise to the expectant Mum.

Project Info.

Name: Project code named Baby Bear.

Pattern from: Ravelry, after long consideration, many hours and lots of cups of tea.

Craft: Knitting

Made for: Baby Bear.

Size: Baby Bears Size.

Notes
The yarn (I can't say what obviously) has taken five, yes five hours to wind up. It got into the most dreadful knot which I had to fight my way through but eventually I managed to free it and make it into the most delightful cake.

Pat a cake, pat a cake, bakers man,
bake me a cake as fast as you can,
pat it and prick it and mark it with B
and put it in the oven for Baby Bear and me.

It feels ever so nice to knit for a baby, I'm quite giddy about it all.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Normality returns.

Firstly I have been sock knitting, it was quite weird to start with knitting with these cocktail sized needles compared to the 5mm I am using for my Lizard Ridge blanket and it has taken me the best part of a sock to get into my groove. But now that I have I feel much better, it was quite blissful kitchenering (is that a word?) a few moments ago. I really enjoy the rhythmic spell of that particular task.

These socks I started for myself, but as soon as I started to knit them they told me they wanted to belong to hubby. Hubby is still not sure about woolly socks as they can make his feet too hot, but these socks have Insisted that they belong to him and they fit him beautifully, so what is a girl to do. And this yarn seems slightly lighter in weight than his last pair so that may do the trick on his feet overheating.

The photographs are taken at night, but they will give you an idea of what the yarn is like. I think they look like a manly pair of socks, don't you? Although I do love them and I think I have something similar in my stash for me.

The colours are just divine and the yarn is blissfully soft. This is a skein of hand dyed from Babylonglegs, sock weight, Blue Face Leicester and nylon and is called Apples and Pears.

And,

I have a confession,

for I have sinned....

Its all Alice's fault.

Alice from Socktopus announced that she had finally sorted out the Fiori di Zucca sock pattern and put it up on her website. Its here if you wish to click. Whilst telling us this on Ravelry she also announced that there were seven skeins of Gelato di Pistacchio in Smooshy, Dream in Colour left. "Seven", I hear you say, "yes, just seven".

And this all stems from my knitting pal, who was a part of Alice's lovely sock club and knitted up Fiori di Zucca not just once, twice.. (which actually drove me to distraction because I couldn't get hold of this pattern and she's a lawyer so I couldn't ask her to copy me one over!!!, ) So when Alice released the pattern I was practically first in the queue by some happy coincidence. Which also meant, I was practically first in the queue for a skein of Gelato di Pistacchio. Was I a happy bunny. I thought the marriage of yarn, colours and pattern was perfect and as someone that often thinks things through far too deeply on whether things will work before casting on, you can imagine just how pleased I am.

Alice included a couple of sachets of Soak, always a nice treat, thank you Alice,

and me, well, I'll try to be less naughty!

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Easter for allotmenteers. (picture heavy)

Many people have asked me what I am doing this Easter. Often they talk about holidays to far off destinations or visits to relatives not often seen. As our only surviving parents live locally, Easter does not put so much pressure on us these days. However, the allotment does, although we like it like that, Easter is the time when it is make or break.

We have been lucky this Easter, it was forecast to rain, rain, rain, but we have had a lovely day today, I have fingers crossed for tomorrow. So what have we been doing, well hubby has been planting spuds, lots of spuds, and before he was planting spuds he was planting onions. We may have a surplus of onions this year, its not my fault honest! Well, what happened was, last year we bought one bag of onion sets which were in the size range of 5 to 7 mm, although they were mostly in the larger end of the spectrum. There didn't seem to be many once we had planted them out, so on that basis I ordered two bags this year. This year they came more into the 5mm range and so we have not only had double the number of last year, you could probably add half again. Hubby has planted ten rows with thirty onions in each row.. That in a perfect world is 300 onions !!! And... I'd ordered some Mammoth red and white onion seed and started them off, I should have about fifty of those too. Its a good job we like onion soup and its also good that I most often cook from scratch, thankfully we tend to use an onion a day.

I struggled to find paper and pen at the allotment, but I did manage to make notes of what is either in the ground or in the greenhouse. We haven't worked hard, it just comes in spurts, you do need to be able to water regularly though, that is important. I and hubby have sown into the ground and have seen signs of life, parsnips, carrots, beetroot, radish, broad beans, potatoes, fruit trees that are already established, strawberries, garlic, shallots, not forgetting the onions,

When I say we haven't worked hard, weekends do need to be set aside in March and April, they are the two busiest months of the year. Hubby has had the help of the rotovator and two sturdy boys (otherwise known as son no.1 and son no.2) who really like playing with the rotovator. That really helped this year, last autumn when I was happily engaged in tidying up the plot, we had rainstorm after rainstorm, it was dreadful, many people, not just us had to leave their plots half tidied up for winter.

In the greenhouse we have early purple sprouting, a black Italian cabbage perfect for minestrone's called Black Tuscany, Peas :) both Onward and Hurst Greenshaft, eight varieties of tomatoes, cauliflowers, lettuces, spring cabbage, leeks, marigolds, pansy, busy lizzie, sweet peas, brunswick and red drummond cabbages, chillies and peppers, chives, dill and mint and spring onions.

I'm sure there are vegetables that I have forgotten or overlooked. As soon as it warms up a little there will be the cucumbers, sweetcorn and various pumpkins to think about, not forgetting the ongoing planting of peas and lettuces.

But until that time, let us start with the photographs of todays visit.

I think this time we will start with a photograph that I often put into the middle of the photographs and I think often gets missed. Here is an unsung hero, hubby, he has kept this plot going for the last 12 months. Look how lovely plot number 1 looks, that really is wonderful for this time of the year.

Next let us cozy up in the greenhouse which is my domain, its often the nicest place to be at this time of the year.



sweet peas in their pots planted in January, their root systems are fantastic, I should have lots of gorgeous flowers this year.

tomatoes falling from replanting, fingers crossed, chitted potatoes just waiting to be planted and various brassicas in the background.

Purple sprouting, just another few days before there is enough to cut for a delicious supper. I am really looking forward to it. Lots of butter and black pepper me thinks.

It might look like brown earth to you, but to me and hubby its rows and rows of planted spuds, and we are very happy to have these in the ground. - hubby has worked very hard on this.

Broad beans,, this is such a quandary for both of us. We both have similar taste buds and we both don't think we like broad beans, but then we both haven't had young broad beans freshly picked off the veg plot since we were children. So we are trying them this year.. time will tell.

The shallots are coming up.

and just look at the garlic, isn't it wonderful?

Yummy tender rhubarb.

and peas, I love peas.

raspberry canes coming to life.

and a picture of blue, well actually I tried to photograph a helicopter, but missed! But it is a nice blue for today and it only lasted a short time before cold and windy clouds came through.

What Easter compilation would be perfect without sheep. Look at those twins aren't they just a perfect pair.

And this little chap caught my eye, "come in number seventeen" this little chap was tiny and if you look carefully you can still see his umbilical cord, (trust me he was a boy, there are other photographs to identify this) I'm sure he has only been out for a day, he was strong but very hungry.

and this was taken at some distance, but well worth putting in, it looks like a baa lambs play pen, trust me they are free to come and go as they please, very funny and very cute.