Monday, 31 March 2014

Happiness

Hello, we had our first real glimpse of spring weather this weekend and it was lovely. Bit breezy but plenty of sunshine. It was a weekend of pottering, doing jobs around the house and playing with the children. A friend came over on Saturday afternoon and we spent a pleasant few hours eating cake and making stuff. She brought her button stash along and youngest child was delighted to have a new treasure trove to trawl through.

I've been wanting to get myself a glue-gun for ages, and whilst making one of my surprises decided that I could do without one no longer and ordered a mini one from Hobbycraft. It came in handy on Saturday to make button brooches and earrings, plus I finished off surprise #4. The photo above represents one of my other surprises, which I delivered on a rather rainy Friday morning. They're hyacinth bulbs, hopefully they'll soon settle in at their new home.

In my day job I work for a charity that aims to tackle loneliness in old age. When I talk to our clients, particularly those in their 80s and 90s, it becomes so apparent that relationships and human contact are what really matters. It's really easy to get caught up in everyday life, but hanging out with friends will never be a waste of your time.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Who likes surprises?

I was going to blog last Friday, when I got caught up in running errands. Then on Saturday the rumbling earache I'd been ignoring for a week or so flared up into hot knitting needles of pain, leading me to sit sobbing in the NHS walk-in centre.

But anyway... after a week of antibiotics and strong painkillers, I'm now feeling much better and looking forward to a weekend that might actually include some sewing, hurrah!

Last weekend I was expertly looked after by my other half (I on the other hand am definitely not a Florence Nightingale, and really must make more of an effort next time he's ill) so a Sunday roast and probably some home-made cake will be on the agenda too, because I think he's earned it. I'm also lucky to have some great mates who helped out with school runs on Monday, you know who you are, and thank you!

Biscuits also played an important part in my convalescence, the tin above was a Facebook surprise present from my mate Jo. Knowing me as she does, she knows I appreciate biscuits, but even better than that, a lovely tin to put things in. Now it holds little more than crumbs, I shall find a space for it in my sewing stash - maybe for buttons? And now I'm feeling better I can pay forward the surprise, so here's the deal:

The first five people to post a comment on here or on the link I'm about to post on my Facebook page will receive a little surprise. It probably won't be biscuits, but it will be something nice...

Friday, 21 February 2014

Books, Books, Books

Today has been mostly about books. I have always been a bookworm, some of this I put down to the lack of a telly in my formative years. My parents weren't ideologically opposed to the box, but were undergoing an economy drive in the late seventies and the TV rental was one bill they decided they could do without.

Turns out they could do without the telly too, and they didn't get another one for ten years. They still don't know who shot JR...

But much as I moaned at the time (a lot) about not getting being able to watch Dr Who like all my friends, there were always books to fall back on. Also my father was an antiquarian bookseller who specialised in illuminated manuscripts and early printed books, so throughout my childhood and adolescence I got the chance to see some beautiful things. Although being a kid I of course took this for granted at the time.

These days I do have a Kindle, and I read plenty of novels on it, I'm not fussy about how I get my literary fix. But I do like to get books as presents (including the lovely one above, which was a birthday present, thanks little bro!) pick up secondhand stuff, and go to the library every couple of weeks. Not just for me but because I have two bookworms in training in the house, and we'd have to take out a second mortgage to keep up with the oldest's thirst for words. I discovered recently that you can access any kids books FOR FREE from the whole of the LibrariesWest area (which is pretty big and covers Bristol, Bath, Somerset and Gloucestershire). Oldest child has recently discovered Percy Jackson, so I ordered the second in the series for him when we visited the library today, I'll get an email when it's delivered to our local branch.

Having lugged our bag of goodies back from the library, I sat down with youngest and made her some quick instant books out of some ordinary sheets of A4 paper. She then set to work filling them with pictures (she's a bit of a reluctant writer at the moment). One of them featured a series of instructions for making cornflake crispy cakes...

'Basic Instant Book' from How to Make Books by Esther K. Smith
Interestingly, it was while flicking through How to Make Books in a bookshop nearly two years ago that I was inspired to make a little fabric baby book, which turned out to be one of my most viewed blog posts. How to Make Books has been on my wish list ever since, so I was very pleased to unwrap it on my birthday yesterday.

Another birthday present makes an appearance in the top picture, a fantastic new lamp. If you're me, then that's a super cool present, as my old lamp is busted, and having a really good light is essential for sewing. It's given me the push I needed to have a good tidy up my workroom and I hope to be spending some time over the weekend making stuff in here (it's where I'm sitting to write this post).

When a bit of winter sunshine comes streaming in, I'm reminded that this is a really lovely space to be in, and I just want to get on and make some stuff. Hope you enjoy a crafty weekend too.

Monday, 27 January 2014

New Year, New Knits

So January is nearly over, how's 2014 treating you so far? I note from my stats that most people reading my blog at the moment are from the US, which surprised me a little, power of the Internetz eh?  Must tell you that my children refer to the "Pesky Americans" fairly frequently, mainly due to the fact that my husband's American colleagues often phone him at work just at the time that he's supposed to leave the office (due to time difference they're just getting going as he's clocking off). So I'm afraid the Pesky Americans get the blame for Daddy not being home in time for bedtime, sorry about that.

Socks in waiting...
Anyway, this is supposed to be a craft blog, so how about some lovely colourful photos of knitting amd yarn? Winter is all about knitting for me. Knitting and listening to The Archers early evening is especially good (I've been listening to The Archers since I was a little girl, it's full of irritating people I love to grumble about). If you *are* a US reader, then you may not know the delights of 'an everyday tale of country folk', so here's a handy wiki page.

Socks in action



I've made some lovely warm socks for me (think the yarn is a Regia Kaffe Fassett but I've lost the label). I also knitted some for the Husband before Christmas as he approached me sheepishly and said 'you've never made any socks for me'. So a suitably manly yarn with blues/greys stripes was purchased and the resulting socks have proved very popular.

My five year old daughter asked for a red hat with snowflake patterns, so I had a go at some fair isle with reasonably successful results. I'm going to write a separate blog about this as my husband wrote a little computer programme for me to produce the snowflake pattern which we'd like to make available to other crafters. I'll link to it here when it's up.

And the last little project is a gift for a friend, such lovely soft yarn...

Work in progress

Hopefully by the time I've knitted a few more pairs of socks, winter will be on its way out. In the meantime, clickety click and tum ti tum ti tumpty tum...

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Festive Crafts

Now that my children are 7 and nearly 5, we've finally reached the stage where they will sit quietly and do craft activities, and the whole experience is a lot less stressful than when they were toddlers. This afternoon they very much enjoyed some craft kits from Baker Ross including paper-chains and colour your own Christmas crackers.

After many years of fretting about doing 'enough' at Christmas, I think I've finally learnt not to get too bothered - as an old friend of mine likes to say, to "let the ash drop off..."

I've bought presents and food, but not stupid amounts. We have some tinsel and lights up. I also had a day off yesterday with the Husband, before the children broke up from school. We both did a big cleaning blitz and got rid of a whole load of junk that had previously spent most of its time being shuffled from place to place or ignored completely while we were caught up in working and school routines.

Also this afternoon we 'made' a Christmas wreath. I say made, but what I actually did was buy a plain fir wreath from the local florists for £4 and then add a few bits and pieces from the craft stash. I used thin wire to attach some holly sprigs from the garden (much swearing, fiddly *and* prickly - yay!). The 'berries' are red wooden beads attached with more wire, along with some little gilt bells and a scrap of fabric for a bow. Just hoping it doesn't get blown away - it's pretty wet and wild here tonight.

And tomorrow some friends and their children are coming round for Christmas drinks and nibbles. I'll happily serve up shop bought snacks and crack open the mini-keg of Bath Ales that we've bought for the occasion.

Today is the winter solstice, which means lighter days are on the way. Have a wonderful and peaceful Christmas wherever you are. See you in 2014 for more making and wittering. Thanks for reading :)

Monday, 18 November 2013

Goodbye Autumn

I feel a bit rusty on the whole blog front at the moment. When you haven't posted for a while it feels a bit embarrassing to get started again, consider this first paragraph me clearing my throat and taking a sip of water.

So I thought I'd put a couple of photos up instead, which I think show what's been going on Autumn-wise with me.

Apples featured heavily, as @BristolGardens invited us round on a sunny afternoon to help pick apples from his back garden. Good to see my urban urchins getting a bit of fresh air. Youngest ate so many on the day that she ended up with a raging belly ache. Both children were fascinated by getting apples from a tree rather than in a plastic bag from the supermarket.

Since then we've had countless apple crumbles, I've made huge batches of chutney, a couple of Dorset Apple cakes (the loaf cake pictured is half size version of this recipe from BBC website) and there's stewed apple in the freezer. I still have a box of cookers in the garage that apparently should keep well. Good job they're so tasty, as a whole lot of peeling has been involved.

And I've decided that I'm only knitting socks, a jumper feels like too much commitment at this point. I can finish a pair in about a fortnight and I find it soothing to wind down with an hour or two of knitting in the evening.
 In other news, I've joined the WI (well it was pretty much inevitable wasn't it...) and at some point I seem to have become a cyclist rather than just a person on a bike, as I use my bike most days and have new panniers on my Christmas list.

I have a couple of Christmas Fairs booked in, so am making a few bits an pieces for that. Will try and put some more pictures up soon.


So in summary: Autumn - apples, well mostly apples.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Rainbows Again

Just a quickie post to show off my latest completed project - rainbow wrist warmers! They're made from yarn left over from my son's socks and are lovely and snuggly warm. They're not as long as some armwarmers I've seen, but that's mainly because I knitted right up to the last scrap of yarn, and that's how much there was...

They were knitted in the round on 2.5mm double-pointed-needles. Basically just tubes with thumb holes. They're for keeping me warm whilst sewing/knitting/internet noodling on cold winter evenings. Photography credit goes to my other half, as couldn't work out a way to take a picture of both my hands and still hold a camera.