Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Joining In

First of all I'd just like to thank everyone for their good wishes for my dad. It was a stressful week, to say the least, for us all but things are settling down again now that he's home. Obviously, it's a worrying time when a loved one is in hospital but it's also very trying when we're having to also look after my mum, who has dementia. Any change to her routine upsets her so she was very glad to have my dad back home again. As I've mentioned before, my dad is fiercely independent and won't have any outside help, other than from family, so it does put a bit of pressure on us, and it's obviously having an effect on his health so we've mentioned it again since he's been home but he's still resisting. There's not a lot we can do if he doesn't agree.

I've recently completed three pairs of socks which were on the needles, just in time to join in with a couple of knitalongs.

Ali from the Little Drops Of Wonderful podcast is hosting a Strictly Sockalong so I cast on this pair of socks during the first Strictly Come Dancing show. I'm using the Blue Fairy colourway from Elm Tree Yarns, there's silver stellina in the yarn but the photo doesn't show how sparkly it is. I'm using the Cha Cha Chevron pattern by Sandra Paul which was designed especially for this sockalong.

I knit myself a pair of Christmas socks last year and had quite a bit of this Candy Cane yarn by West Yorkshire Spinners left over so I thought I'd join in with Amy's Christmas Knitalong on her Stranded Podcast and make Eleanor a pair of socks to wear over Christmas. I'll knit the cuffs, heels and toes in the coordinating Cayenne Pepper colourway to make sure that I don't run out of the main colour.

Ellie over on the Craft House Magic podcast is hosting a Xmas Craftalong so I'll be able to enter the Christmas socks in that too.

It's fun joining in with knitalongs, it really spurs me on when I see other people working on their projects. It's not too late to take part in any of these knitalongs if you fancy joining in.

Saturday, 20 October 2018

A Second Heart Attack

I'm afraid I haven't been around much this week, we've been hospital visiting again.

We got a phone call late on Tuesday night from my dad who was having chest pains, he thought he was having a heart attack so he'd rung the doctor who said he'd send an ambulance. Why he didn't just ring 999 I don't know. I was in bed at the time so I jumped out, quickly got dressed and got to his house just as the first responder arrived. Not long afterwards, the ambulance turned up. He'd had a heart attach back in 2011 and ended up having stents fitted then, he said the pain was very similar but after looking at the information provided by the heart monitor, the paramedics didn't think he was having a heart attack this time. They said it could be a touch of angina.

We ended up in A&E until about 3.30am when the doctor said they'd be keeping him in and that he'd be transferred to a ward. When we enquired on the ward later on that morning it was confirmed that he had indeed had a heart attack.

As most of you know, my mum is now suffering from dementia and it's getting steadily worse. She couldn't be left in the house alone whilst my dad was in hospital so I've spent both days and nights there with her when I haven't been hospital visiting. It can be quite trying at times.

I'm pleased to say that my dad's now home, none the worse for wear, though he's got another tablet to add to the numerous pills he already takes. I'm just hoping that we can steer clear of hospitals for a while again now.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Anna & Theo

Anna and Theo are two separate books by Amanda Prowse but each tells the story about what happens when two very different people fall in love with each other.
"Theo and Anna are two damaged souls, from two different worlds. Is their love for each other enough to let go of the pain of their pasts? Or will Anna and Theo break each other's hearts?"

There are two sides to every story and each book tells Anna and Theo's own stories.

I thought this was an unusual concept, two books, one story, but each book telling Anna and Theo's own side to it. Each book could be read as a standalone story, however, some things from one book are explained in more detail in the other, so to get the full story you would need to read them both.

I actually enjoyed Theo more than Anna, I'm not sure why, it just seemed to grip me more than Anna did. I find Amanda Prowse books a bit hit and miss, some I love and some are just okay. I'd recommend Anna and Theo, I like the idea of two different sides of the story and I did enjoy each book but I wouldn't say they're her best.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Mick's Bullfinch Socks

Mick's a fairly new convert to hand knitted socks, it's only last year that he really started wearing them on a regular basis. He doesn't have many pairs in his sock drawer so I thought I'd better get him another pair knitted up ready for this winter.

I used West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 Ply in the Bullfinch colourway and the Vanilla Latte Socks pattern by Virginia Rose-Jeanes.

I never hand wash socks which have been knit in West Yorkshire Spinners yarn, they wash perfectly well in the washing machine without any felting or shrinkage so it's a good yarn to use if you're knitting for other people and aren't sure they'll want to hand wash their socks. Not that Mick does his own washing, he's very good around the house but the washing and ironing is something that's always left to me. The Vanilla Latte pattern is really good if you're knitting for other people too as the rib pattern tends to hug the feet so the socks don't have to be such a precise fit, very handy if you're not trying the socks on someone as you knit them.

That's all my old sock projects off the needles now but I have cast on more, I'll tell you about them very soon.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

50th Birthday Gifts

My birthday was at the beginning of September and I received some really lovely gifts. In fact, I received one or two belated gifts too, one of which was from my lovely blog friend, Susan. She lives a very long way away over in Australia, though I have met her a few times when she's been over in the UK. She blogs at Granny Smith's Quilting.

A parcel arrived towards the end of September and as I hadn't ordered anything, I wondered what it could be. There was a card enclosed with the gift which had the most lovely words.

Oh my word, I wasn't expecting what I found inside the wrapping, the most wonderful portrait of Archie which has been painted on slate. Isn't it fabulous? And unusual too.

It was painted by one of Susan's friends, Kate. You can find her website here. Kate really has got such a good likeness of Archie in the painting, right down to the little brown patch on his cheek. It deserves pride of place so I must find the most perfect place to hang it. Thank you, Susan, it's such a lovely, and unusual, gift.

My lovely friend, Maggie, who blogs at BlackCountry Wench bought me a bumper gift of knitting goodies.

She knows me so well as I love everything in this package. Beautiful Craft House Magic yarn in the Time After Time colourway, Regia Pairfect yarn which I've been wanting to try for ages, and Wrapture wool wash which has a gorgeous scent, my woolens will smell fabulous. She also bought me a project bible and WIP cards, which will come in very handy as I usually jot things down on bits of paper and end up losing them. I'm a bit of a stationery geek so these are right up my street. I've got to admit that the Toffifees which were also in the parcel have long gone. Yum yum!

Thank you so much, Maggie, such a thoughtful gift, I shall enjoy using everything.

Lisa, my oldest blog friend who blogs at Jumble and Jelly, celebrated her 50th birthday just six weeks before I celebrated mine. She knows I love my garden so she bought me a National Garden gift card so that I can choose something myself.

Isn't that hedgehog the cutest? Thank you, Lisa. I think I'll buy a lovely plant which will remind me of our friendship whenever I look at it. I'm enjoying doing a bit of research to find something I really love.

I'm so lucky to have made such fabulous friends through this wonderful world of blogging.

Monday, 8 October 2018

Hats For The Homeless

Last winter, as the temperatures plummeted, a call was put out for clothing, coats, hats and gloves, to help the homeless. It's a terrible thing to have no home and my heart goes out to those in this predicament, especially so in the harsher weather.

Back in May, I decided to start knitting some hats from yarn I'd got in stash, ready to donate to those in need this winter. I've managed to knit ten in different sizes, styles and colours.

The Yorkshire Building Society are running Socktober, their month long appeal throughout October where they request donations of socks and other items to help support homeless people. The campaign is part of the society's charity partnership with End Youth Homelessness and to raise awareness of World Homeless Day which is on Wednesday the 10th of October. I popped along to my nearest branch and popped the hats I've made into their collection bin.

I'd like to think that ten people will be a little warmer now this winter.

Friday, 5 October 2018

Petty Harbour

I'm still not back in socks yet but I know I will be soon as the weather is much cooler now, so I'm pleased to have another pair of socks off the needles and at the ready.

This pattern is Petty Harbour Socks by Rayna Curtis and I really enjoyed knitting it. It's a four row repeat, so very easy to memorise, and works up into a lovely textured fabric. I've used the Playground Politics colourway from The Yarn Tart. They don't look as if they quite match in the photo above but I can assure you they do. I've often found when taking photos of socks, one of them looks bigger or smaller, or the pattern doesn't look the same on them both, I don't know why that happens.

I must say that I've absolutely loved every minute that I've spent knitting these socks as I really enjoyed the pattern but also, the yarn was wonderful to work with, beautifully soft.

The only problem I did encounter was after I'd finished knitting them, I popped them in the sink to soak for ten minutes before blocking and I couldn't believe the amount of dye which was left behind, I've never come across anything like this before. I do think they lost a bit of their vibrancy after this first wash. This small amount of yarn was left over and it does look brighter than the socks do now which is a shame, I wouldn't expect the colour to fade so quickly.

That was a little disappointing but I think the socks will be a delight to wear.

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Time To Say Goodbye

It was back in 2000 that we bought our Renault Laguna, it was just eight months old. Mick was working in Bradford at the time so with a daily round trip of over forty miles he needed a decent car.

Later that year, Mick was promoted and with that promotion came a company car. This meant that we could afford for me to have a car myself. I would have chosen a much smaller car as it was just going to be a little runaround, but we would never have got back the price we'd paid just a few months earlier for the Laguna had we sold it at that point, so we decided that we'd keep it.

The car is now nineteen years old and I'm sure you'll agree, it doesn't look in bad nick for its age. It would cost far more than it's worth though to get it through its MOT so it's gone to the big scrap yard in the sky. I must say that I was quite sad to see it go. It may just be a lump of metal but it's served me well over the years, back and forth to school, taken Daniel to cubs and Eleanor to her singing lessons, as well as giving me a bit of freedom to go here and there. I waved it off with a heavy heart.

Having a car is a luxury, especially when I don't actually need one as I don't work. The one thing it was really handy for was getting me to my parent's house now they're elderly and in need of help, but I can walk there, though it will take a chunk out of my day. I've decided that I won't be replacing the car, we're more fortunate than some as Mick still has his company car. I shall have to start walking to places I would normally drive to, or take public transport. I'll just have to see how I get on.

Saturday, 29 September 2018

Three Sisters, Three Queens

I read The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory last year and enjoyed it so much that I immediately downloaded Three Sisters, Three Queens by the same author onto my Kindle, however, I've only recently got round to reading it.

Three Sisters, Three Queens is about Henry VIII's elder sister, Margaret, who married James IV of Scotland, Henry VIII's younger sister, Mary, who married Louis XII of France, and Henry VIII's first wife, Catherine of Aragon. It's told from Margaret's perspective from the time when Catherine of Aragon arrived at the Tudor court right the way through to the early 1530's.

Much has been written about Henry VIII and his six wives but I knew much less about his sisters so I enjoyed getting to know more about them. Obviously, being a novel, fiction is mixed in with fact, but I've found only recently that I enjoy reading books of this kind. They certainly encourage me to look into particular events and I find myself googling to find out more.

The relationship between the three queens was complex, changeable according to what was happening in Tudor England and Scotland at the particular time, but they eventually discovered that their special connection bound them together.

I really like the way in which Philippa Gregory writes, she makes the books easy to read and easy to follow, however, I must admit that I preferred The Constant Princess to this book. I found Three Sisters, Three Queens to drag a little in places, however, I would still recommend it.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

So Long, Farewell

It seems a long time since Eleanor arrived home at the end of her second year at university. The summer break is a long one so we get into a routine of being three again, it's quite a wrench when she has to go back.

Fresher's Week started at the weekend and though Eleanor isn't a Fresher, there are some Refresher events lined up for students in other years this week. She chose to stay at home for the weekend though so that she could work a couple of extra shifts at the little bar job she has when she's at home, returning to university on Monday.

The boot was jam packed, and this wasn't it all, the back seat was full too.

You may remember that she failed a couple of her exams and had to resit them. She's got the results and has passed them this time, coming out with a 2:1 for the year, which is a very good result overall. The good marks she got in her coursework throughout the year has pulled the grade up for her. Eleanor suffers terribly with exam anxiety, it started in school and has carried on at university too. Failing a couple of exams made her realise that she must finally bite the bullet and see the doctor. She's been given some anti anxiety medication and is being sent for counselling. I hope this will help her when it comes to sitting exams this year.

This is the last time she'll be packing everything up to return to university, how did her final year come round so quickly?

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Woodland Walk Socks

Aren't these the most perfect socks for autumn? The pattern looks like leaves falling from the trees and tumbling down the legs.

The pattern is called Woodland Walk Socks and it's a free pattern by This Handmade Life on Ravelry. It's the first pattern I've used which calls for an Old Norwegian Cast On, but I'm so impressed by the stretchiness of this method that I'll be using it on a regular basis when I'm knitting socks from now on. There's a 1x1 twisted rib, which, in my opinion, gives a neater cuff, and an Eye of Partridge heel. The pattern is charted, but very easy to follow. The leaf lace stitch is knit either side of the socks, so there's a definite right and left sock in this pair.

I used Tamiwicolors Tough Sock which is a little more woolly than other 75% superwash merino and 25% nylon yarns which I've bought in the past, and though it's not the silkiest yarn I've ever used, it does soften up when washed.

I chose the Beth colourway and I absolutely love the pops of yellow in with the pink.

I got these off the needles just in time so that I was ready to join in with Ali's Strictly Sockalong on her Little Drops Of Wonderful podcast. I cast on during the first Strictly Come Dancing show last night. I'll tell you more about the pattern and yarn I'm using for this at a later date.

Thursday, 20 September 2018

In Search Of Colour

I wrote about our trip to Lotherton in The Changing Seasons post and although we found lots of signs that autumn is on the way, we weren't very lucky in seeing much autumnal colour so on Sunday we headed off to Temple Newsam to see if it was any different there.

A first glance made us think that there wasn't much seasonal colour here either.

As we looked further we could see some small changes in the trees which shows that autumn is definitely on the way.

The trees seem to be changing colour very slowly. There's subtle changes at the moment but somewhere down the line, it will seem as though the changes have happened overnight.

This tree was covered in berries. I hope it doesn't mean there's a harsh winter on the cards.

Now this is more like it, a tree dressed in its autumn finery already.

It was a dull morning and really quite windy as you can tell from the ripples on the lake.

These little birds were right by the edge of the lake, their brothers and sisters were swimming close by.

I wonder how long ago these carvings were made on the trunk of this old tree. They look as if they've been there for some time.

Ahhh, here it is, the colour I was searching for. It would have looked better with a blue sky though.

I think it will be a different story in a few weeks, many trees will have lost their leaves by then and those that haven't will stand radiant in their autumn splendor.

Monday, 17 September 2018

The Changing Seasons

I make no secret of the fact that I'm a summer girl, I love long, bright days filled with sunshine and I'm quite sad when they come to an end, but it doesn't stop me from appreciating the beauty that autumn has to offer.

It's over five weeks now since I broke my toe and though the toe itself feels much better I'm still struggling to walk properly as the top of my foot is quite painful. I pulled all the muscles in my leg when it first happened which, I think, was down to the fact that I was walking totally different to how I usually walk because my toe was so sore. I haven't  had many days out during these past five weeks and I was feeling quite cooped up so on Saturday we had a short trip to Lotherton where I managed to hobble around and photograph the signs of autumn

Autumn is usually ablaze with beautiful hues of red and gold, not so at Lotherton. Many of the leaves on the trees are beginning to curl and die and there's lots of leaf litter too, but no real autumn colours as yet. Perhaps it's just a bit too early, after all, the autumnal equinox isn't until the 23rd of September.

There are lots of other signs of autumn around though and the woods are a great place to find them.

These conkers were still hanging from the tree but there were a few cases on the ground which we opened up so that we could bring the conkers home to lay on the windowsills. It's supposed to deter spiders from entering and nesting in the house. I don't think it really works but I wish it did.

I found this fungus at the base of an oak tree. I believe it to be Inonotus Dryadeus, or more commonly known as oak bracket or weeping conk. It secretes an amber liquid which weeps from tubes in its upper surface. It doesn't look very pretty, does it?

Have you turned your heating on yet? It's turned quite cold here and not only have we turned on the heating but my hot water bottle is out again too. I don't know about us Northerners being made of tough stuff, this summer girl is really quite a wimp when the cold weather arrives.

Friday, 14 September 2018

Traveller's Notebook

I absolutely love my Filofax. Actually, Filofaxes, I have a few, but only two that I use on a regular basis. I have a red Chameleon in the A5 size which I use for finances and household things and a crimson Malden in the personal size which is for everyday use.

My set up is still very similar to what I blogged about in my A Tour Of My Filofax Crimson Malden post back in 2014. A few things have changed but not a great deal.

I still love using my Filofax, it keeps me organised and it contains so much information at the tip of my fingers. There's so many other organisation tools out there but I've never been tempted to try any because of how happy I've been with my Filofax, however, reading Nikki's Stationery Sunday: Elrohir Leather Steampunk Traveller's Notebook post on her Notes of Life blog, something clicked and I decided that I'd like to give a Traveller's Notebook a go. I'm still really happy with my Filofax so I don't want to change my system of organisation but I thought I'd like to try a Traveller's Notebook in conjunction with my Filofax.

I mentioned this to Nikki and asked her advice about buying one and she kindly offered to make one for me.

A Traveller's Notebook is basically a book-like cover which holds one or more smaller notebooks with elastic bands.

I'm absolutely thrilled to bits with the Traveller's Notebook which Nikki has made. Isn't she clever?

It's in the most beautiful soft purple leather and Nikki has added a little charm to the band which keeps the notebook closed.

The binder holds four notebooks in the Field Notes and Pocket size and Nikki has very generously supplied the first four to get me started. There's one with plain purple pages, one with plain green, a lined notebook and one with dots.

It's a lovely size to hold in the hand and won't take up much room if I pop it in my bag to take it out and about with me. Nikki said that she prefers a more rigid leather but if I'd bought one, I'd have gone with a soft leather so I'm really pleased with this.

I always love reading Nikki's Stationery Sunday posts, I'm a bit of a stationery freak and have always loved paper and pens. If you're the same and haven't yet checked out Nikki's blog I would urge you to do so.

Thank you, Nikki, I'm thrilled to bits with my Traveller's Notebook and I'm looking forward to using it.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Eighth Blog Anniversary Giveaway Winner

Thank you to everyone who left a comment and entered my Eighth Blog Anniversary Giveaway. I was overwhelmed by the number of comments left on that post and all the lovely things you all said, I just wish I could give a prize to everyone.

The name picked at random is Crimson Kettle. Can you please let me have your name and address details so that I can get the prize sent out to you. You can find my email address by clicking on my name in the About Me section at the top of the sidebar.

Thanks again to everyone for entering my giveaway, reading my blog and commenting. I've made such wonderful friends over the last eight years through this little blog of mine and it's all down to the connections made through your comments so please do continue to read and comment. Blog friends are the best.