Friday, 23 August 2019

Warty Pigs And Rock Hyraxes

Sometimes, when Mick works from home, he's able to take a bit of time off during the day if he starts early and finishes late. Wednesday was one such day. As it was a nice day we decided we'd head off to Lotherton for an hour around lunchtime. Archie's been suffering from a limp for the last few weeks so the vet advised short walks on a lead. He's much better now but we're still not allowing him to go galloping around just yet, so unfortunately, Archie was on enforced rest at home. It did give us the opportunity to visit Wildlife World though, something we don't get to do when we have Archie with us.

The first animals you encounter as you enter Wildlife World are the Visayan warty pigs. This animal is endemic to two of the Visayan Islands in the Phillippines and is a critically endangered species, threatened by habitat loss, food shortages and hunting. Little is known of their behaviors or characteristics outside captivity due to the small numbers of Visayan warty pigs left living in the wild.

I think a favourite of many visitors are the Humboldt penguins. Named after the explorer Alexander von Humboldt, their natural habitat is most of coastal Chile and Peru.

They're such cute little things, they actually come up to the viewing windows to look out at the visitors.

The penguins have been at Lotherton for about two years now and seem to have settled very well into their new home.

There's been a bird garden at Lotherton since 1980 when there was just a small collection of waterfowl, poulty and ducks. Today there are more than 130 different species. This is a Coscoroba swan, a species of waterfowl from southern South America. It is the smallest of the birds called swans, but still a large species of waterfowl. Coscoroba swans live to an age of approximately twenty years.

Work at Wildlife World is ongoing with new animals being introduced on a regular basis. A group of rare Chacoan maras arrived last year, a South American relative of  the guinea pig and one of the world's largest rodents. They will be taking part in an international breeding programme to help protect the animals for future generations.

A new arrival this year is a group of rock hyraxes, a medium-sized mammal native to Africa and the Middle East. They're distantly related to elephants and manatees.

I'm glad we visited at midday as it started raining during the afternoon. I don't know what's happened to summer this year. We're forecast a nice weekend though, the sun has arrived this morning so I hope it's here to stay.

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

A Change Of Plan

I told you about the What Lies Within Socks in Another New Project post and then gave an update in my In The Making - August 2019 post.

I was giving magic loop a try and though I'd initially encountered some difficulties, i.e. ladders being created where the needles join, as I worked down the leg the problems seemed to disappear. I do seem to have a tighter gauge though when using the magic loop method, probably because it's a new technique in sock knitting to me, and once I'd turned the heel I discovered that the socks just weren't going to fit so there wasn't any point continuing. I ripped it all out.

I wasn't sure if the problems with the ladders were actually resolved or if it just seemed that way as it was a cable pattern I was knitting and the cables happened to be where the needles join so, instead of knitting the same pattern again, I went for something different so I'd be able to tell if my laddering issues had been resolved or not.

These are the Winters Frost socks by This Handmade Life. I didn't realise this pattern was by the same designer as the Wildflowers & Honeycomb Socks, which are also on my needles at the moment, until I started knitting them and realised that the pattern is written in exactly the same way.

As you can see, I've made a good start and yes, the ladder issue seems to be resolved in the main body of the sock, however, I've still got problems with ladders on the cuff where I've knit rib. You can see the ladder on the cuff to the right of the pattern. Perhaps a soak in some water when I come to block the socks will sort that out, we'll see.

Anyway, I seem to be getting on with the magic loop method okay. I'm not sure it'll take over from double pointed needles, which I still prefer, but I'm quite enjoying using a different method of knitting socks for a change.

Saturday, 17 August 2019


I wasn't going to bother growing potatoes this year but I came across a new variety called Jazzy whilst browsing in Wilko's and I couldn't resist. After doing a bit of research I discovered that Jazzy is a waxy potato which gives a huge yield and it's been given a RHS AGM (Award of Garden Merit) for its superb performance. I bought just one packet containing five tubers and planted three in one container and two in the other. They romped away and were slow to die back, hence me leaving them so long before harvesting, but Sunday was the day and this is what I found.

After reading about the huge yields I was expecting the container to be full to overflowing with potatoes but it certainly didn't look that way on first inspection.

After scrabbling about in the compost we managed to unearth just fourteen usable potatoes from the first container.

Okay, better luck second time around?

Slightly better first impressions.

Unfortunately, no better overall results. Twenty one potatoes from three tubers in the second container, so each container yielded just seven potatoes per planted tuber.

How about the taste test? I meant to take a photo after they'd been cooked but I forgot and there weren't any left on the plates afterwards, they were a big hit. They held together extremely well on cooking and they tasted delicious, so much so that Eleanor's told me she shall be growing this variety when she gets her own place, not that she's moving out anytime soon, but it's always good to have plans.

Perhaps the weather conditions haven't been so good for potatoes this year, I don't know, but I was disappointed with the yield. The taste has encouraged me to give them another try in the future.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Happy Birthday Mick

Happy birthday to my wonderful husband.

I couldn't have chosen a more perfect card, could I? Me sat there knitting whilst he reads the news. Admittedly he usually reads it on his iPad rather than a newspaper, but still.

Mick used to take a day off work when it was his birthday, he hasn't done that now for a lot of years, unless his birthday's fallen when we've been away on holiday. He's working from home today though so he's got no travelling to do, and we'll be going out for something to eat later on. Well, everyone deserves a treat on their birthday, don't they?

Sunday, 11 August 2019

In The Making - August 2019

A roundup of the things I'm working on at the moment.

There have been a few new cast ons this month which I've told you about in earlier posts so I've continued to work on those.

I've got well into the Wildflowers & Honeycomb Socks pattern now and I'm loving how it's working up. It's such an easy pattern but gives a pretty, all-over design. I think I've chosen the perfect yarn too, this is by Craft House Magic in the Rio colourway. I'm now ready to turn the heel.

I usually knit my socks on double pointed needles but I fancied having a go with the magic loop method using a long circular needle. I've tried this in the past and haven't got on with it for sock knitting, though I don't seem to have any problems when using it for hats or sleeves. Anyway, I started the What Lies Within Socks and I was having problems with it again right from the start, I seemed to be creating a ladder between each of the needles when knitting the rib but I decided I'd continue down into the pattern to see what happened there. I'm pleased to say that there doesn't seem to be any issue now, though that might just be because I'm knitting the cable pattern where the needles join, so I'm reserving judgement yet. I'm ready to turn the heel now but the leg of the sock looks very narrow. I think that's just the cable patterning, it does stretch so I'm hoping it will still fit.

My third new cast on this month was the Beach Days wrap and I'm absolutely loving working on this. I think the changing pattern and the change in yarn keeps it very fresh and I find myself wanting to knit just one more colour block. The first wavy sequence of colours is now finished and I'm ready to start the third colour and the eyelet pattern.

I haven't got any more cast ons planned at the moment, my intention for this month is to continue working on everything I've already started.

Thursday, 8 August 2019

All The New Cast Ons

Yes, I've got another new cast on, that's three already this month, where will it all end?

With two new pairs of socks already on the needles, I decided to have a look for a shawl pattern. I was rather taken with quite a few wraps which I came across and thought they'd make a nice change from a shawl. It was hard to decide between them but in the end I've decided to go with Beach Days by Tracie Millar. By the way, isn't my new project bag so cute? I bought it from AnnieOBTextiles on Etsy and it's a lovely size to hold this type of project.

I'd already decided that I'd like to knit a three colour design when I was originally looking for a shawl pattern and I'd chosen the yarns I was going to use from my stash. As it turns out, the Beach Days wrap sample shown in the pattern isn't a million miles from my own colour choice. I've gone with two semi solid colourways from Jellybeans Yarns, Midnight and Golden (a one of a kind), and a speckled yarn from Norah George Yarns in The Room of Requirement colourway. These are all 75% superwash merino 25% nylon.

I haven't got very far as yet, I've just used the blue and made a start on the wavy edging, but I'm loving the pattern already.

This is the last of the new cast ons I've had planned but never say never, there may be more very soon, there's always lots of patterns which catch my eye.

Monday, 5 August 2019

The Key

The Key is Kathryn Hughes third novel and though I've enjoyed each one, I think they just keep getting better and better.

It's Ellen Crosby's first day as a student nurse at Ambergate Hospital. When she meets a young woman admitted by her father, little does Ellen know that a choice she will make is to change both their lives for ever...

Sarah is drawn to the now abandoned Ambergate. Whilst exploring the old corridors she discovers a suitcase belonging to a female patient who entered Ambergate fifty years earlier. The shocking contents, untouched for half a century, will lead Sarah to unravel a forgotten story of tragedy and lost love, and the chance to make an old wrong right...'

Being set in a lunatic asylum, I wondered if the story would be similar to The Ballroom which I read last year and though I enjoyed both books, they were both completely different.

The inspiration for this book came from the true story of the Willard Asylum in Willard, New York, where workers discovered hundreds of suitcases in the attic of an abandoned building. Many of them appeared untouched since their owners packed them decades earlier before entering the institution.

My reading mojo has been very hit and miss since my mum died at the end of March but I've been lucky to have read two great books back to back in this and The Ship of Brides, which I posted about last month, and these have definitely kick started my reading habit again.

I was hooked from the beginning and I can thoroughly recommend this book. Kathryn Hughes' fourth book has recently been published and is already downloaded on my Kindle.

Friday, 2 August 2019

Working 9 To 5 (Or 8 To 4)

I posted about Eleanor's Graduation ceremony, which was last Thursday. Well she had a job interview the following day and on Monday she got a phone call telling her that she's got the position she applied for.

Her degree is in biomedical science and ultimately, she wants to become a Biomedical Scientist, but she has to complete an Institute of Biomedical Science Certificate of Competence in order to apply for Health and Care Professions Council registration as a Biomedical Scientist. Her degree counts as her academic training but she also has to complete the IBMS Registration Training Portfolio in a laboratory which holds IBMS pre-registration training approval before she can become registered.

Eleanor (on the left) in the lab during her first year at uni.

The job she applied for is a Medical Laboratory Assistant in a haematology lab in Leeds and she will be able to complete her portfolio whilst working.

It's all happened so quickly. She hadn't seen a job advertised, she just sent some letters off on spec. Some hospitals answered saying that there were no positions vacant, some gave her some advice about where to look and this one called her on the Wednesday, telling her that they had this position vacant and asking her if she'd like to attend an interview the following day. Eleanor had to tell them that she would be unable to attend as it was her graduation so they invited her in on Friday instead. From receiving the phone call asking her to attend an interview to getting the job offer was just five days.

She hasn't got a start date as yet, she has to be DBS checked first, which shows details of any convictions or cautions held on police records. I believe that can take a few weeks.

We're all thrilled that she's managed to secure a job so quickly, it's so hard for young people today to find suitable work, especially something they really want to do and in an area which is convenient. Daniel didn't start work for about four or five months after he finished university, and even then he had to move south to obtain a suitable position.

Perhaps the Bank of Mum and Dad can finally close down, though I suppose that's just wishful thinking!

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Another New Project

I've only recently told you of A New Cast On and now I've got another.

I won the What Lies Within Socks pattern by Naomi Buchanan in a giveaway hosted by Ali on the Little Drops of Wonderful podcast. This pattern comes from the Charmingly Magic Sock Collection which is inspired by the Harry Potter series. This is the second in the collection and is based on the basilisk which lies within the Chamber of Secrets.

I'm using Paperstories Sock Yarn in The Goblin's Revenge colourway which Mick bought me for Christmas 2017. It's such a pretty colour and I think a semi solid colourway will show off the cables in the pattern.

I usually use double pointed needles when I'm knitting in the round but I fancied having a go at magic loop. I've used this method when knitting larger items, such as hats and sleeves, but when I've had a go with it for sock knitting in the past I just couldn't get on with it. Never one to be deterred I decided to have another go so I asked on Instagram for needle recommendations and decided to go with Addi. I'm still not convinced with this method for sock knitting, I seem to be creating a ladder between each of the needles and I don't think my knitting is as neat as it usually is. I've only knit the cuff so far so I'll continue into the pattern and see what I think then. It may be that magic loop is just not for me, we'll see.

So that's two new projects on the needles but I'm not finished yet, there's still another waiting in the wings which I'll tell you about soon.

Saturday, 27 July 2019


Eleanor Graduated on Thursday from Nottingham Trent University. She now holds a degree in Biomedical Science.

It was such a hot day, the hottest July day on record. I felt so sorry for all the graduands having to wear their robes and caps.

Eleanor started off with her hair down but it wasn't long before she tied it back to keep her a bit cooler.

After the ceremony there were post ceremony refreshments. We were all in need of something cold and refreshing.

Eleanor hasn't come away from university with just her degree, she also met her boyfriend there. He was her lab partner. Funny that as Daniel met his girlfriend at university too, she was his lab partner!

We were going to go for a meal afterwards to celebrate but we were all just so worn out with the heat, we decided to have a takeaway instead and we'll go out for a meal this weekend. It was a lovely day, despite the temperature, and we couldn't be prouder of Eleanor.

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

What I'm Watching - July 2019

TV and film that I've been watching this month.

I was sad to see the end of Gentleman Jack, which I wrote about in my May's roundup, but another great series has taken over the Sunday night spot. This is the final series of Poldark and it promises to go out on a high. I won't give away any spoilers for anyone who hasn't watched the first couple of episodes yet, except to say that I think George is finally losing the plot. Suffice to say that I'm looking forward to the next instalment.

The 16th series of Who Do You Think You Are? began this week with Daniel Radcliffe finding out about his ancestors and I found it very moving. I think I've watched every programme in the previous fifteen series, some have been more interesting than others, but I'm always amazed by the characters who turn up in people's pasts. As usual, there's a mix of celebrities in this present series, and even those personalities who I don't know usually turn out to have an entertaining story to tell.

I saw Alias Grace advertised on Netflix and though I'd never heard of it, I saw that it was based on a novel of the same name by Margaret Atwood, the author of The Handmaid's Tale, which I really enjoy watching, so I thought I'd give it a go. Though it's fictionalised, I only discovered afterwards that it's based on the 1843 murders of Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper, Nancy Montgomery, in Canada. I had no idea what the mini series was about before watching but I enjoyed the way the story is told, by Grace Marks, a servant who was working in the Kinnear household at the time and who was convicted of the crime and sentenced to life imprisonment, as she recounts the details of her life leading up to the fateful day of the murders to a doctor who is researching the case. It's definitely worth a watch if you've got Netflix.

ITV have been showing a Harry Potter film each Sunday for the last eight weeks. I've seen them all before but I decided to record them for Mick, Eleanor and I to watch together. Harry Potter passed Eleanor by when she was younger, she didn't read the books and only watched a couple of the films, she just wasn't interested in it so I wasn't sure she'd watch the films now but she did and she enjoyed them. Harry Potter was more Daniel's thing, I remember Mick taking him and his friend to the local book shop at midnight on a couple of occasions when a new book in the series was released so that he could get it the minute it became available. They're entertaining films but I still prefer the books.

Have you been watching any of these? What else have you been watching this month?

Sunday, 21 July 2019

A New Cast On

It seems ages since I've cast on anything new. I've been trying to finish off what was on my needles already and now that the only things I've got on the go are long term projects, it's time to start some new things.

The Wildflowers & Honeycomb Socks pattern by This Handmade Life has been in my Ravelry queue for such a long time, I'm so pleased to finally make a start. It's such a pretty design and reminds me of the white ankle socks I used to wear to school with the little eyelet details.

I went stash shopping for some yarn and pulled out a skein of merino/nylon by Craft House Magic in the Rio colourway, inspired by the Duran Duran song. I thought the beautiful pale yellow with speckles would be perfect for this pattern.

As you can see, I haven't made much progress yet but I'm sure it's going to be a lovely knit.

This is just the first of my planned new cast ons, more to follow.

Thursday, 18 July 2019

In The Making - July 2019

A roundup of the things I'm working on at the moment.

I've had two finishes this month, the Shapely Boyfriend Cardigan and the Goomy 50 Socks. The only things I've got on my needles now are the two Scrappy Blankets which are long term projects.

I had a bit of a tidy up and clear out in my craft room at the beginning of the month. I decided that I'd give my languishing projects to the charity shop. The first thing I decided would go was the Joyful World cross stitch which I started back in 2016. It had already been put to one side when I wrote my More Than I Can Chew post last year but it was time to pass it on. I also came across a granny stripe crochet blanket which had been started some time ago and though I initially decided to send that to the charity shop too, I quickly retrieved it as I had second thoughts. I'm pleased that I did now as I've been enjoying working on that this month. The granny stripe is such a repetitive rhythm, just what I enjoy when I'm watching TV or a podcast.

Another few squares have been added to my scrappy blanket too. This grows so slowly but it's nice to work on between other things. I've started my seams as a cross in the centre four squares and I'm making all the seams radiate out from them. Other people work them as a chevron or in straight lines, there's really no right or wrong way, just what you prefer.

So to sum up, the only things I've now got on the go are two scrappy blankets and a granny stripe crochet blanket, which are all long term projects. Time to cast on something new.

Monday, 15 July 2019

She's Got A Key To The Door

She's 21 today, 21 today
She's got a key to the door,
Never been 21 before,
Her father says she can do
what she likes,
So shout hip-hip hooray!
For she's a jolly good fellow,
21 today!

Happy 21st birthday to my gorgeous girly.

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Goomy 50 Socks

I've named my latest socks Goomy 50 Socks because they're made from Goomy 50 yarn by Bergere de France, I really need to get an imagination.

I really enjoyed knitting the first sock but once I got to the second one, I just couldn't get the pattern to match up. I wound the yarn and cast on in different places according to where I thought I'd get a match but it just didn't work. I know that there is a pattern and the colouring isn't just random as I've seen other people manage to get two matching socks but, to be honest, it wasn't long after my mum had died and I just couldn't be bothered faffing about.

I didn't think the two socks were going to match at all but they're not actually that bad now they're finished and I can see them side by side, though to be honest, I just don't really care at the moment, there's more to worry about in life.

Anyway, I'll tell you a bit about these socks. I really like the patterned yarn so I decided that I'd knit a plain sock to show it off. I did dress the socks up a bit with a couple of pretty details. I don't often knit a twisted rib but I decided I would on these socks.

I've also knit a fancier heel than I usually do. This is a modified Eye of Partridge heel, it's such a pretty design. I used the instructions from the Hermione's Everyday Socks pattern.

They haven't turned out quite as I'd imagined as they don't match completely but I do still like them.