Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Back to four

Thank you for all your lovely comments on my previous post. You're
 all so kind. I'm sorry I haven't been around much lately, here and over 
on Instagram. I had a busy week last week. My husband was away and
 I had my hands full looking after the girls and doing all the everyday things on my own. I thought I'd be spending my evenings reading and
 doing crochet once the girls were in bed but there was none of those
and there wasn't much time for visiting blogs either. By the time all the
chores were done I was ready for my own bed too. 

Last week was actually a very new and unusual experience for us. 
He's only ever been away once before and that was just in London for
 a night. This time he was thousands of miles away in the east coast 
of America! Quite a distance, I know, and we missed him terribly.
 He went to the wedding of a very dear friend of ours, one of the two 
best men we had when we got married. We couldn't all go to America unfortunately so he had to go by himself (poor him!) In his absence
 the three of us did our best to keep going with our day to day routines and I think we managed it with some help from my in-laws. I'm so grateful to them. We all got a bit ill during the week ('funny tummy' was what it's called around here) but we got through it, we survived. And yesterday he came back-- hurray! And now there are four of us again here and it's definitely lovelier, better, easier and more fun this way. 

Last week was quite a challenge. I had to be more organised, more patient, just more of everything for the girls and it was exhausting.
 It's so nice to be back to 'normal', to not have to think of everything
 for everyone all the time. I can relax again and hopefully there will be time for crochet, reading and catching up with everyone in the next
 few days. 

I hope you're all having a good week. It was quite warm here today
and they say it will be even warmer tomorrow. Enjoy the lovely
weather whatever you're up to!

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Honeycomb Lace Shawl

Hello. I hope you're having a lovely day. I have a finished project
to share with you today: my crocheted shawl. It was actually finished a couple of weeks ago but it was only yesterday that I got around to taking photos of it.

This shawl is designed by Sally Shepherd and is in issue 65 of
Inside Crochet. I started off with another pattern that I found online
 but halfway through the project I decided I wasn't happy with it and
unravelled my work. I was looking round this website and saw the
Honeycomb Lace Shawl. I thought I'll give it a go and I'm very glad
 that I did!

The pattern, which is a repetition of three rows with decreases as you
go along, is simple and easy to follow. I really like the lace-like design
it creates. Simple but very effective.

This really is a shawl for summer but because I used a slightly heavier yarn (Drop Merino Extra Fine in pistachio) than the recommended
cotton, it feels heavier and cosier which was what I wanted. I want
to wear this all year long and I think I'll be able to.

If there's one thing I'd like to change, I think I'd like it to be a few inches
wider. The base is about 50 inches wide, wide enough to wrap around
the shoulders comfortably but if I'll make another shawl- and I'm 
planning to- I'd want it to be even bigger and wider so it's even more
snugly and cosier. That's in my to-make list now, but first I have
teachers' presents to make.

And if you're wondering, I used five 50gram balls of yarn for this shawl.
It's been a great pleasure to make and fun too.

Thanks for stopping here. Enjoy your week whatever you're up to.
See you soon!

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Five and Three

Making spring rolls

My girls turned five and three last weekend. We had two full days of
birthday celebrating with a trip to a toy shop, Happy Meals (their first
ever), spring rolls and their favourite pasta dishes, cakes, ice cream
plus lots of cards and presents. They were both in birthday heaven
 and it was wonderful to see them so happy.

Amongst their presents were some lovely books and my two favourites
are an old copy of The Children's Illustrated Dictionary and A First Book
of Nature by Nicola Davies and Mark Hearld. The dictionary once
belonged to a girl called Anna Marie Veazay. It was a Christmas
present from her dad back in 1965. It's all handwritten inside
the front cover. I think it's brilliant that this book that was owned
 and  (hopefully)  enjoyed by a girl fifty years ago has found its way
to our home and to our girls. It will be a useful book for them
 for many years and we'll make sure we'll look after it just as
 well as all its previous owner(s).

On Sunday, Lulu's birthday, we had to cancel a picnic in Chatsworth
because of the awful weather. The birthday girl didn't really mind and
we went instead to David Mellor visitor centre, also in Derbyshire.
The cakes at the cafe there are top notch and we sampled a few. If
you're ever in the area, we highly recommend a visit. David Mellor
is a renowned cutlery maker and designer and you can see all his
various designs on display there from cutlery sets to post boxes and
traffic lights. The cutlery factory is a circular building and there are
free guided tours for the public every weekend. What we always like to
do whenever we stop by is have a look around the shop. We don't often
 buy anything but just love looking at all the beautifully designed kitchen things on display. So if you happen to be around this side of Yorkshire
and Derbyshire this place just outside Hatherasage is well worth a stop.

At the end of the weekend we were tired out from all the birthday
celebrations. The girls spent much of Sunday afternoon napping and
 then watching Toy Story. As soon as they'd gone to bed I put my
feet up, had a cup of tea and some macaroons. We've had a busy
couple of days, busy but also happy. I'm so pleased and proud of
both girls. At the toy shop there wasn't any crying or whingeing.
They were genuinely happy and content with the toys they'd chosen
as well as the gifts that they'd received from everyone else. It's been
truly lovely celebrating their birthdays and they'd both been really
wonderful birthday girls. They make me so happy and as always,
very, very proud.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

A Patchwork Blanket

This is my patchwork blanket. It's taken me awhile but here it is
finally all quilted and finished!

It was back in February when I started piecing together my fabric squares. I used two Moda charm packs called 'Marmalade' by Bonnie
and Camille. This was the part that I enjoyed most. It was easy and
relaxing to do and it didn't take me long to stitch them all together.

The next step was basting the quilt top, batting and backing material together. I used normal safety pins for this and didn't have much
trouble doing it. Now I can start hand-quilting but this stage didn't
go as smoothly and as problem-free as the previous two.

Quilting is basically just running stitch worked through all three
layers to keep them together. But even with a no.9 quilting needle,
the longest in the set of six that I got, I really struggled to do this.
I thought the batting, which was leftover from other projects, was
perfectly all right to use. I didn't expect that it would be a little too
thick for quilting. I didn't want to change it though so I had to find
 an alternative to the (useless) quilting needle.

I tried a curved one. It went through the layers easily but it was very awkward to hold, making it difficult to make even and straight stitches.
I gave up on this too. Then at the suggestion of a lovely old lady who
 runs a haberdashery in Whitby I decided to use an embroidery needle.
It's as thin and as sharp as the ones for quilting but it is longer so can
 be held easily while working through the layers. This time it worked! Finally I was able to make progress with the quilting. Hallelujah!

 My stitches are not small, even and perfectly straight as quilting
 stitches are supposed to be but they are neat and effective enough.
And after all that kerffuffle I was just relieved that finally I managed
to get the quilting done.

When it came to adding the binding, I found I didn't have enough
blue bias binding to go round the blanket. It was Markie's brilliant
idea to use two colours instead: dark pink and blue. Well, why not?
It's a bit unusual but again it worked. One of the many things I've
learned from this project is that sometimes you have to think outside
the box or in this case, outside the square!

Despite the quilting hiccups, I'm still glad I kept going and didn't
give up on this blanket. It's actually not very big but just perfect
for covering my lap or both girls' laps when they're watching tv.
The backing material is vintage brushed cotton. It is super soft
and cozy, I'm very sure this blanket will be very popular around
here when the colder months come.

 One other thing that pleases me about this project is that once again
 I made something from materials I already have. It is always so
satisfying to be able to do this. Plus the fabrics are just gorgeous.
I'm actually really happy with this blanket. I love it!

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

A birthday party and other happy things

Last Saturday we celebrated the girls' birthdays.

We had a party for them and their friends and they had a wonderful
 time. I'm so glad it went well, especially after all the baking and party
 preparations that we did. I just wish I had remembered to take photos
 while the party was happening. It got so busy that I forgot. Ooops!
 But it was still lovely though, and now we are all looking forward to having our little celebrations on their actual birthdays this weekend.
We're going to have a picnic and on Sunday there will be a trip to a
 toy shop. It's going to be great. I'm so excited for my birthday girls!


I always appreciate a quiet day at home and we had this on Sunday.

It was so nice to slow down after a busy week and all the previous
 day's partying. We napped in the afternoon and there was time to read
and crochet. It was just what we needed and it did us all a whole lot
 of good. I love quiet, restful, staying-in days, just can't do without them.


I was given this orchid as a belated birthday present.

I always love an orchid. We had many orchid plants in our back
 garden when I was growing up. My father was a very keen orchid
grower and he was very good at it. So this reminds me of home,
family, sunshine. Good memories. It's a lovely gift.


These are my recent charity shop finds: two novels by two
excellent authors.

I've started with Kate Atkinson's book. So far, so very good and
a lot of people have told me that 'Death in Pemberley' is also a great
read. They're very good finds then. I'll be looking for more to add to
my summer reading. Hope I'll get lucky again next time I do a charity
shop stop.


Markie loves to draw and her work just keeps getting better
and better all the time.

They have so much more detail now and they're always so colourful.
It's wonderful to watch her draw and see how much she enjoys it.
There's always a story behind each picture too. Our little artist's
work always make me smile and I'm very proud of her.


I'm not too far away from finishing my shawl. Hooray!

I really like this stage in every project when I'm just a few rows and
stitches away from completion and whatever it is I'm making is looking
all right. Fingers crossed I'll have my very own handmade shawl soon.


Those are some of my happy things from last week. I hope your
weekend was lovely too however you spent it.  I'll be back with my finished patchwork blanket. See you soon!

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Cow Parsley

There's a great, great number of cow parsley growing in the woods
near Markie's school. The footpath edges and hedgerows are draped
with their tiny, lacy white flowers. It was very beautiful there this morning, almost magical.

Cow parsley flowers are so dainty and pretty and there were so many
 of them along the path that I was tempted to take some home with me.
 I don't normally pick wild flowers but today I did. I couldn't resist!
I'm sure no one would mind but even then I still felt a little guilty gathering a few sprigs.

When we got home I arranged my posy in one of my favourite jugs.
Here it is in our bedroom: I think it looks lovely. 

I've just found out that cow parsley is also known as Queen Anne's
Lace and have enjoyed learning more about the fascinating legend behind the name. I also came across a poem about cow parsley
 by Mary Leslie Newton titled 'Queen Anne's Lace' and I'd like to
share it here:

Queen Anne, Queen Anne
 has washed her lace
(She chose a summer's day)
And hung it on a grassy place
To whiten, if it may.

Queen Anne, Queen Anne
has left it there
And slept the dewy night;
And waked to find the sunshine fair,
And all the meadows white.

Queen Anne, Queen Anne
is dead and gone,
(She died a summer's day)
But left her lace to whiten on,
Each weed-tangled way!

Another thing I learned about this wild flower is that its
 blossoming signals the start of summer. Well, not around here
today, but in the coming days perhaps? I really hope so. We're
 due a summer now, don't you think? Anyway, you can probably tell
 I'm a bit smitten by these white, lace-like flowers. If I have to choose
a favourite wild flower I think this will be the one.

Thanks for stopping here. Enjoy your evening!