Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Monday is Washing Day!

Whilst at the NEC Sewing for Pleasure show on Sunday I caught sight of some beautiful fabrics by Kaffe Fassett at half price! At that price I thought I would give them a go, not least because I seem to have a mental blockage on finishing a quilt. Son no.2 is still waiting for his, although having seen how he keeps his room at Uni I think the quilt is best kept at home rather than festering in his room.

I chose ten colours and bought half a metre of each, hoping to find a pattern that might fit and I found one in Jelly Roll Quilts called Nine Patch Wonder.

I've washed the fabric, tumble dried and ironed them, so pretty, its really not a chore to iron such colourful fabric. Next I have spent most of my evening cutting out the squares and 2 1/2" wide strips.

I am going to retire to the living room to read the instructions and then to continue sewing up my Lizard Ridge.

Although I might just gaze at these pretty colours for just a while longer.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Yarn Porn.

Whilst surfing the net trying to find the perfect yarn to crochet around my Lizard Ridge blanket I found this, Noro Retro.

From here.

A delicious mix of 64 % wool, 24% silk and 12 % angora.

'nough said.

(apart from why isn't it in the UK?)

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Sewing for Pleasure NEC 2011 (picture heavy)

On Friday I rose at the crack of dawn and hubby and myself readied ourselves (hubby was driver to the train station) to pick Noelle up along with I to catch a train to the NEC, we were both giddy with excitement of what the day would bring. We had both volunteered to teach hand knitting at the Knit 1 - Pass it On stall which is funded by the UK Hand Knitting Association. In return for a couple of hours teaching we were given an exhibitors pass, which was gratefully received. We had a very fun two hours, I knew from past experiences that Noelle loves to teach, she has a way with her and got on very well. Me, well I bumble along like I usually do, but I got there in the end and was able to teach cast on, purl, knit, how to pick up stitches if they were dropped (I think that is really important it takes the stress out of learning to knit if you know how to pick those stitches up) and cast off.

Before our session at Knit 1 - Pass it On we had much fun. I hadn't took my camera so you will have to rely on me that there was much to see in the arty side of things, we could have stayed all day, but shopping called and during the morning I saw Pauline Ineson's stand, she who I worship from afar was giving free workshops. I stopped most abruptly and swiveled my head with the speed of a velociraptor spying game with a gasp of "Oh its Pauline Ineson" and wandered over to see what was going on. Only to be told there were free workshops afoot and that there were places available, can you even try to imagine just how giddy I was at this point., I doubt it. Noelle and I quickly booked up for an afternoon session and then headed off.

Later, much later we came back and settled into our seats to listen to Pauline, she was a wonderful teacher. And soon we both had this,

Firstly we learnt the secrets of candlewicking which is the middle section and then were swiftly taught how to make wavy window tucks. Then, if that were not enough Pauline came over to show us just how to mitre the corner of the bias binding that was included in the kit. Doesn't it look interesting, I have sheer jewel like silks in my imagination to make this project shine.

And then all too soon it was time to go home, although just before we left I had asked if they need more volunteers over the weekend and was told that they might be short on Sunday and so was able to come again to the show.

Come Sunday I was raring to go, even with the loss of an hours sleep with the clocks coming forward I was off again. This time, I had carefully looked at what is available and as soon as I arrived quickly booked myself onto available courses with the go ahead of Fred, (manager of knit 1 - pass it on).

And I took my camera.

With the benefit of the exhibitors pass I was able to gain entry before the general public so took full advantage to photograph (with permission) the Above and Below the Waves Knitting Project, created by Alison Murray, she who also created the 25ft Christmas tree and the most wondrous Gingerbread House. This time Alison is raising money for the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution), a very worthy cause.


Pirates looking very pleased with their haul.

Oyster divers, can you see their string of pearls on their purses and their daggers to open the oysters with?

Called the Nemesis, "Yep, I would think that would be my worst enemy too"

Loved the turtle.

And this fisherman in a full scale adult sized aran jumper!

Punch and Judy with crocodile with his string of sausages, whilst families watched. (I love this the most)

Sunbathing and knitting.

donkey rides!

a light house with people enjoying themselves.

a RNLI boat fighting against the huge waves.

Under the sea in a tunnel you walk through which was magical and beautifully lit, you have a beautiful mermaid,

and more beautiful mermaids enjoying the coral.

lost fish nets become home to beautiful fish.

a huge shark....oooh he was scary.

such atmosphere with coral, octupus, shells and crabs.

and jelly fish and sea weed, (there was lots of sea weed in the photo's, you just have to look for it)


And then there was time for the workshops, which were all given for free by very gifted tutors. Today I learnt how to...

There was Wing Needle and Criss Cross Chainstitching by Pauline Ineson to make a cover for a packet of tissues.

I made a concealed zip, from the dress makers workshop which I thought was amazing, considering this was a red zip can you see it?

I am very pleased with this technique.

Next was Amy Butlers "Blooms quilt" this was fabulous, I enjoyed it immensely, my cushion is not finished by you can get the idea.

And just before joining Knit 1 - Pass it On, I passed Pauline Ineson's stall and noticed that there were three sewing machines not in use, I asked Pauline what had happened and she asked me if I would like to join in, not a second passed before I said "oh Yes Please" (we later learn't that the clocks going forward had thrown the participants)

We learnt Shadow Applique by Pauline Ineson, silk was used to shadow the applique dove and we made it into a pretty card. (the purple pen will fade with sunlight)

I met knitters who I know and love, blog readers that recognise me (once seen, never forgotten) and others that know me from just being at the shows, it was wonderful, I had a wonderful day.

On a much sadder note, I came home to find that a favourite Uncle had passed away, he was one of my favourites not least (although not a blood relative) he was alopecia universallis from the age of five. He was a staunch supporter of me and everything that I have gone through and I will miss him very much. And strangely I have the perfect card, made today, to give to my Auntie. Perhaps it was meant to be.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Spring has sprung.

Everywhere I look there are signs that Spring has sprung, unfortunately I don't seem to have taken any spring like photo's yet this year. But that might be because until very recently I have had my head down and been focusing on this.

Which I have finally finished and managed to sew the buttons on today, which Noelle helped me to choose from our LYS.

It is Audrey in Unst by Gudrun Johnston and I have knitted it in Rowan Purelife Organic Wool which I bought from House of Frazer in Solihull for a ridiculously cheap price. (I have also bought rather alot of the other colours too! - well when a yarn keeps on getting reduced, eventually settling on a 80 per cent reduction, what is a girl to do?!) And yes, I did tell my knitting pals that the reductions were grand at H 0f F this year and there was much whispering of just how good they were.

I have lengthened this pattern by two inches and I think I could have added a couple more inches. It will look nice with a skirt though. It has had a light steaming and really needs to settle into a nice lukewarm bath and then I can stretch it out a little as it is a bit snug. I think I was hoping that I would have shrunk more by this point, but hey ho, that is life.

I slightly altered the lace pattern so that it was wider than the original, to suit the wider person that will be wearing it.

I am pleased, of course now it is finished, it is much too warm to wear it. But that is okay too.

Friday, 18 March 2011

When I wished upon my wishing star

I must have been wishing very hard
because today my dreams came true.

Before Christmas I was waxing lyrical about Indigo Moon and the gorgeous one and only skein I had of it that I was knitting up for my own Christmas treat. And I asked if anyone knew anyone who sold this particular yarn in this country as Socktopus no longer does. I must tell you that everytime I took this project to knitting other knitters were in awe of the yarn and just loved the colourway which was called Starlight.

When my socks were completed just before Christmas I was very happy,

but also a little sad as my only stash of Indigo Moon had gone and I could no longer just admire it in the skein. It was so pretty. And I hadn't realised just how plainly that had come across on the internet especially as a certain somebody was listening. Amelia on hearing of my plaintive cry about my last skein, contacted Indigo Moon and get this.... asked Trish Moon to dye Especially for Me some beautiful skeins of Starlight. And get this... Trish said Yes.. Aren't they naughty!!!!

So today a package arrived for me which I was not expecting. I opened it up and found these gorgeous items.

Two 100 gram skeins of Indigo Moon fingering weight 100% merino superwash in Starlight and... an absolutely gorgeous mini skein of Pur Silk in Green Goddess and a very pretty postcard of Vancouver Island Gardens. What a treat, three beautiful skeins of gorgeous yarn. How lucky am I to have a friend like this.

And just for the cheap seats at the back,

A lovely, large close up.

This has turned my day into a very happy one,

thank you so much Amelia.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Arranging Lizard Ridge squares.

I trundled up to knitting today with my Lizard Ridge squares about my person full in the knowledge that it was a Very Important Day. Well, it was for me. Because today was the day that my blanket would finally start to take shape. I have ummed and ahhhed and then ahhhed and ummed about the colours that I have chosen since January 2008 and if truth be told the colours that I have ummed and ahhed stem back to the first time that I knit a square and lets face it, it was my idea, for a baby blanket, which was a roaring success from a knitting group I belonged to in December 2007. At the time when I suggested such a blanket for a baby that was about to be born into our group, I had no idea of just how complicated a suggestion I was making, well I had never read the pattern. I just knew that if there were, at that time, a thousand odd projects of this pattern that were displayed in Ravelry, then the pattern must be doable. And then there were the pretty colours, need I say more.

When I started to knit my first square I can remember being shocked. There was more to this than met the eye and I quickly learnt what a short row wrap was, but to do that I spent the best part of two days on the internet fine tuning what a short row wrap was that was hidden on the right side. It was time well spent, I will never be frightened of short row wrap again, especially after 36 squares!

I and my partner in crime, at least in gorgeous yarns and colourways, was quickly off the mark and Carie although she has a much heavier schedule than I simply churned out startlingly beautiful squares after square. Not content with her prowess she had to share and it was when startling beautiful squares, not least from her photography skills aided with the internet came landing on my desk that I groaned from the beauty of them all.

Resistance was futile.

It was time to spend several hours choosing colours for myself. At the time the dollar was nearly two to the pound, so it was a good time to choose my yarn. And from my records I chose seventeen balls of Noro Kureyon from Yarnela yarns, mainly because they had a rather better range of colours than had been released into this country by Noro.

Then there were others balls of Kureyon that I bought from the UK, and then most magically word spread and my knitting pals started to give me their left overs. It was wonderful to be given or to be sent random balls of wool, huge bags of left overs, or just bits and bobs, they have all made it into this blanket, which has made it even more beautiful to me. Seriously, it gave and still does give me such a buzz about just how wonderful and friendly the knitting community can be.

After Carie, Diane and I played with the squares we eventually settled on this. Before I go we had a lovely time playing with all of the colours and serious chats were held on the rights and wrongs between pinks, blues and greens. If you ever get the chance, play with colours with your girl friends it is truly wonderful and it is certainly going to be a day I always remember. It was so much Fun!!!

Well here goes....

First shot from me,

and then a photographic shot from one who is taller. (have I told you Carie is even taller than me!) Its a much better photograph,

and then,

and then a black and white to see if the blanket is balanced in the saturation of colours. I can see where it isn't but trust me, we tried with the colours to get it balanced and to be honest I am very happy from the colour photographs.

What fun we have had today.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

What can this mean?

These strange, yet beautiful colours I put before you.

It cannot be, can it?

One has heard of these mirages, can this be true?

It is true, there are thirty six squares knitted up in the Lizard Ridge pattern.

And they have all had their ends sewn in.

Tomorrow, with luck, Carie, Kitty and I shall play to our hearts content with all the pretty colours. I suspect there may be others that find the colours irresistible and may need to come and play.

And look how pretty the ends are, I couldn't bear to throw them away when I had a sudden inspiration.

I could use them as ties in a quilt. Wouldn't they look pretty. I shall have to experiment with them.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Found them!

I spent my spare time in December making hats for my parents for Christmas. Mum had just bought herself a beautiful purple coat and I just happened to have in my stash a purple that would match it perfectly. I also worry quite often about Dad's bare head, he doesn't seem to worry about it but I am sure he would feel warmer with a nice woolly hat. The previous year I had bought a rather nice (and very expensive!) lamb's wool hat but I could see it wasn't exactly the right shape for him and although he tried to wear it, it probably irritated him because he doesn't like hats that go too far over his face.

I knitted the hats up and was considering giving them early as the weather had turned rather fierce, when I put them somewhere safe intending to photograph them in the next couple of days and then I couldn't find them. During the latest upheaval (the windows have been fitted YaY!!!) they resurfaced.

Here is Mum's hat, I am hoping it will look more interesting when it is on. It is Beret by Bernat Design Studio in Katia Cocktail in colourway purple 17 and took 2 balls.

And this is Dad's hat which is much shorter hat from crown to tip and I think suit him much better. It is Hill Country Hat by Clara Parkes knitted in Rowan Renew in colourway Tractor 680 and took just over a ball. It is a lovely pattern, it took me about five hours of knitting time and I finished it in one day which makes it a very useful fall back if you have need of an emergency present. It was the first time I have used this yarn and I like it very much , it feels soft to the skin but has a tweedy effect to which I am very partial. The icing on the cake is that the colourway is called Tractor, my Dad's first job was working on a farm, I am sure it will amuse him and will bring an anecdote forth from his lips.

Now if I could just find hubby's sock that I lost....

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Boswell

Today very sadly we lost our beloved ginger boy, Boswell. He came to us as a rescue in a very strange way. I was in touch with various local rescue societies as we helped transport dogs in need when they were desperate for help just at the time we lost our beloved cat called Brian, our black and white fluffy cat who I completely adored, I'd show you a photo, but they are not on digital. I was a very sad girl as Brian was much loved.

Then a doggy lady in Birmingham who I knew got in touch because she had been feeding a cat who wasn't her's and had found out a neighbour had also been feeding him who had threatened to finish him off, he had become a pest and this ladies husband was not best pleased and would do the job willingly. With much blessings the cat was dog friendly. My immediate response, "Bring him here" which she did in less than an hour.

We dog tested him with Charlie my super friendly golden retriever and they said hello to each other in a very calm and collected way and we decided he was ours.. .. what a story that is. We got him sorted out at the vets and micro chipped him, the vet thought he was about five which was over ten years ago.

A very tentative Boswell on his first day.

Over the years this cat has rung us ragged. He liked to stay with other people until they or he became ill and we always picked up the pieces and sorted him out. Our boys became disenchanted with him often asking me how I could love him when he came home, often skin and bone and I said "Its like the prodigal son, and killing the fatted calf" as I opened a new tin of cat food and enticed him to eat and drink as this cat who was his former self dragged himself over the door step. And when the boys said "But how can you, he is a traitor to us, he abandoned us", I used to say "Would I not welcome you" to which they became quiet. I think it takes a while for children to understand a mothers love.

But never the less he came home in his retirement, well mostly apart from he got lost in the ice and snow this winter when two RSPCA chaps arrived at the house and asked if we had lost a cat, I'd been fairly sleepless for a few weeks by this point and thought they were bringing bad news. We found Boswell had rehomed himself yet again down the road. He was getting pretty senile by this point. We brought him home yet again where he stayed, we sorted him out again and got him back to full health.

Far too suddenly his health failed beyond repair. Today we had to say goodbye.

I'll leave you with my favourite photo's of Boswell.







Good night Boswell and God bless. Sleep tight.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Better late than Never!

That's what I say,

and they were truly delicious.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

"Old friends are like diamonds..."

Precious and Rare"

Some of you may have noticed the rather infrequent blog posts of late. The truth is I simply can't be the creative bouncy person you have all come to know and I hope love (if even just a little) when I am going through the mill - yet again!. To cut a long story very short my rheumatologist and I have been steadily working through why my CRP has been steadily rising for the last three years (its up to 40 now, a well person would generally fall between 1 and 4 it signifies inflammation) and why my IL6 blood test came back showing a very high result. Along the way we have discovered the Fibromyalgia and the Polymyalgia, the Restless leg syndrome, of course there has also been the Atrial Flutter and the hypothyrodism and lets us not forget - as if we ever could - the Alopecia Universallis.

Well, I had a positive result a couple of weeks ago, one that I really did not want to be blessed with, but one that both my rheumatologist and I have been waiting for. I came in sero positive to rheumatoid arthritis. I am thinking of taking the seat in Mastermind with "autoimmune diseases I have known and loved!"

I am glad to have a result, its been a long time. At least I know why my knee's are shot to hell and I struggle both up and down stairs, why my ankles sometimes hurt, my shoulders play me up when I lean on them, especially whilst leaning on them whilst trying to sleep (at times I feel like I am trying to dislocate them!, which wakes me up in agony) and why my elbows play me up at times. I am looking to keep moving and remain very positive and there are plans afoot to keep the positivity going which I shall reveal in due course.

However, on hearing this news I slipped and lost my footing and whilst in my deepest of darkest of holes and lets face it, I have decorated and furnished some of those during the last three years, my old friends kept an eye on me. Either through emails, private messages or phone calls which I was extremely grateful for. Just knowing people are there for you can be very healing. I am still in a pretty dark place but lets just say I can see a brighter place, its just over the horizon.

And whilst in the deep dark place, I received this.

A beautiful shawl knitted by Diane. (Ishbel shawl designed by Ysolda Teague and knitted in The Yarn Yards Ochil)

I was completely bowled over, I don't think I could speak for half an hour, I absolutely love it. So many emotions flooded through not least that a good friend had taken the time to sit and knit me a shawl in my favourite colours. And also knowing full well that this lovely friend has had an aversion to knitting lace through most of her knitting career - she is a very accomplished knitter - and she put that to one side to knit me something beautiful to sooth me and help me to heal.

I think its very beautiful and it will go perfectly with a brown jacket for spring.

And then the next day whilst at knitting Carie whipped this out of her bag (it was beautifully wrapped of course) and after I had unwrapped it, sticky tape can be a bit tricky at times, I found this. My eyes nearly exploded out of my head because I recognised it as the fibre that I had started to spin at Carie's house but my knee's and muscles wouldn't let me progress. (at least we know why now!) Carie had spun it up for me just so that I could have it to stroke whilst gazing at its beautiful colours. Although how she found the time to spin and ply with a baby that is only a few months will forever mystify me and knowing how many hours were also put into this I am very touched. Of course I will knit with it, eventually!

I love it, it is just so pretty with all the various greens, browns and yellows blending with each other.

I have already had an idea of a hat which I am sure will do this lovely yarn justice. The yarn is Blue Faced Leicester, which is gorgeously soft and there are 110 yards and 94 grams.

So, due in no small part to my dearest friends, normal service will be resumed.