Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Seamless Yoked Baby Sweater

This is the Seamless Yoked Baby Sweater by Carole Barenys, a free pattern on Ravelry.

Eleanor's asked me to knit a couple of things for her friend who is expecting her first baby and when I was looking for patterns on Ravelry, it was the Seamless part of the name which grabbed my attention. I hate sewing things up so I try to knit everything I can in one piece, it's just so much easier for me.

I used Stylecraft Wondersoft Baby Double Knitting in the Humpty Dumpty colourway, a yarn which Eleanor chose when we were on holiday in Cornwall. I wasn't sure about the colours or the patterning in the yarn but I think it's knit up rather nice.

I picked up the buttons on a recent visit to York. Duttons For Buttons have just about every colour and shape you could ever want. I wasn't sure which colour to go for but in the end I went with Aqua. I'm pleased with my choice.

Babies tend to grow rather quickly but as this is a size 0-6 months it should last a little while before she outgrows it. I'm enjoying knitting some baby garments, they're an easy knit and are really cute when they're finished.

Sunday, 12 August 2018


I spent Friday afternoon in A&E where it was discovered I have a broken toe. To be honest, I knew before I got to the hospital that something was broken as I heard it snap.

I was having a shower on Thursday when I realised that I'd left the big window open in the room downstairs so I quickly finished my shower, wrapped a towel around myself and managed to bang my foot on the sofa as I went to close the window. I heard a horrible snapping, well actually it was a crunching, noise in my foot.

Though my foot hurt when I put pressure on it, I waited until Friday to go to the hospital to have it x-rayed as I thought the pain might subside but when I got up on Friday morning, I found my middle toe to be bruised right the way around and I couldn't put any weight on my foot.

The hospital have said that it's an intra articular oblique fracture and it will take six weeks to mend, but I'm sure it will feel better long before that. Meanwhile, I can't stand any pressure underneath my foot so there'll be no driving for me for a little while. It's not painful unless I try to put my weight on it so I'm hobbling around a bit at the moment.

I was told to sit with my foot elevated for two or three days so I'm spending the weekend being waited on whilst I amuse myself with knitting, blog reading and TV watching. I've got my Kindle by my side too. It's a good job that Mick didn't have a cricket match yesterday, though I know he'd have definitely preferred to be there than fetching and carrying for me.

Thursday, 9 August 2018


It's taken quite some time but Boxy by Joji Locatelli is finally finished.

I cast this on for Eleanor right at the beginning of the year on the 1st of January. It's taken quite a while to get it finished but in my defence, there have been periods when I haven't picked it up to work on at all for weeks at a time, and periods when I've been waiting for Eleanor to come home from university to try it on before continuing on the knitting.

It's quite a big undertaking though, there were nearly 400 stitches on the needles and as it's knit in 4 ply, or fingering weight yarn, it grows very slowly. A boxy style which is knit in stocking stitch, it's a great project for TV knitting or for working on whilst chatting as you really don't have to concentrate on it.

Eleanor chose which colour she liked from the Drops Baby Merino range and I think she made a good choice. This is Light Grey.

I've got a couple of gripes about the sweater, the first being the hem. It tends to curl upwards and I was worried the whole time that I was knitting the sweater that it would curl when being worn. I knew about this problem before I started the sweater so I knit double the amount of rib that the pattern instructed and this, along with a good blocking, has just about cured the issue but many people have highlighted this problem in their notes on Ravelry so I'm surprised that the designer hasn't looked at this and solved the issue. The second gripe is my own fault. There's a bit of an issue to the side of the neckline where I picked up stitches and though I knew about it after a couple of rows, I couldn't be bothered taking it back as I just wanted the sweater finished by this point. It's only a little untidiness and when I showed Eleanor she didn't know what I was fussing about, and to be honest, it's much less noticeable now that the sweater has been blocked.

I like the yarn I've used, Drops Baby Merino is really soft, it was nice to knit with and has made a lovely drapey fabric but I think it will be prone to pilling, time will tell.

I'm pleased to have finally finished this project, I like the finished garment, I think it really suits Eleanor and Eleanor's very happy with it.

Monday, 6 August 2018

The Ballroom

I often read book reviews on blogs and many of the books I read about end up on my list of books I'd like to read. I'd never have enough time to read everything that makes it on to the list, however, sometimes I do get round to reading a book I've read a review of. The Ballroom by Anna Hope is one of these books.

'1911: Inside an asylum at the edge of the Yorkshire moors,
where men and women are kept apart
by high walls and barred windows,
there is a ballroom vast and beautiful.
For one bright evening every week
they come together
and dance.
When John and Ella meet
it is a dance that will change
two lives forever.

Set over the heatwave summer of 1911, the end of the Edwardian era, THE BALLROOM is a historical love story. It tells a page-turning tale of dangerous obsession, of madness and sanity, and of who gets to decide which is which.'

I've read such great reviews of this book and though I did enjoy it overall, I found it quite slow in places, especially in the first half of the book. The story is told from three people's perspectives, Ella, a mill worker who is sent to the asylum for breaking a window, John, an Irish man who was admitted to the asylum from the workhouse, and Charles, a doctor who worked at the asylum.

The character I enjoyed reading about most was Charles, the doctor. He brought music to the wards of the asylum whilst he worked on a paper to present to the first International Eugenics conference. A complex character who's desperation to prove himself shapes Ella and John's future.

I would recommend this book, however, be prepared for the story to build gradually.

The setting of the story is Sharston Asylum but it was clear to me as the story progressed that this was based on the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum which was opened in 1888 and later renamed Menston Mental Hospital. In 1963 its name was changed once more to High Royds Hospital and this is where, in 1985, my grandpa died after being transferred there as he was suffering from dementia. The hospital closed in 2003 after it was declared to be outdated and unsuitable to modern psychiatric practice.

Anna Hope's great-great-grandfather died in the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum in 1918 and whilst looking for more information about the place online, she came across photos of the beautiful ballroom and knew she had to write about it.

It's sad to think that people ended up in asylums through poverty or petty crime as well as mental health problems, and of their treatment in places such as this.

More information about High Royds Hospital can be found at and photos of the magnificent ballroom can be found here.

Friday, 3 August 2018

Works In Progress

It's funny looking back at how I used to knit one project at a time and ensure it was finished before I started something new. These days I have lots of things on the needles at any one time and I really enjoy knitting in this way as it allows me to work on whatever takes my fancy at the time. Sometimes I want to have something to do with my hands whilst I'm watching TV or chatting, it's at times like this that it's good to have some plain knitting which doesn't require any concentration, whereas I like something a little more challenging at other times. Having different projects on the go means that I usually have the perfect project for what I want at the time.

I have a few pairs of socks on the go at the moment. I think I tend to favour a textured sock, I enjoy knitting them and I love the fabric that's created. These are Petty Harbour by Rayna Curtis. It's an easy four row pattern. I'm using The Yarn Tart yarn in the Playground Politics colourway and this has to be one of the softest yarns I've ever used, I can see more purchases from this dyer in my future.

I'm really enjoying knitting the Woodland Walk Socks by This Handmade Life. This pattern is different from any sock pattern I've used before as the pattern is charted but it's very easy to follow. I'm using Tamiwicolors yarn in the Beth colourway, it's so pretty.

Mick's become a convert to handmade socks so I thought I'd get him a new pair knit up ready for the colder weather. I've used the Vanilla Latte Socks pattern by Virginia Rose-Jeanes many times previously, it's my go to pattern when knitting for other people as these socks seem to fit feet so well and owing to the ribbed pattern, are quite forgiving. They tend to grip the feet well but have some stretch too so it's a good pattern if you're not going to be trying the socks on a foot as you knit them. I'm knitting these out of West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4-ply in the Bullfinch colourway. I'm a big fan of this yarn as it holds up well to everyday use. I wash socks knit in this yarn in the washing machine and they're always fine.

This is the Seamless Yoked Baby Sweater by Carole Barenys. Eleanor's asked me to knit a couple of things for her friend who is expecting her first baby so we chose some yarn together whilst we were on holiday in Cornwall. This is Stylecraft Wondersoft DK in the Humpty Dumpty colourway. The pattern is easy but the directions are not always very clear, you do have to use your own intuition in places. I like the fact that it's knit in one piece, it means there's no sewing up at the end which is a big bonus for me. I've just got the sleeves to knit and then this will be finished.

Eleanor also chose some King Cole Big Value Baby Spot 4 ply in the Nectarine colourway whilst we were on holiday in Cornwall, I'm using it to knit a Flax Light by tincanknits, another little garment for Eleanor's friend's baby. She knows she's having a girl. I'm just at the place where I'll split for the sleeves so it should be straight knitting from here on.

I'm still continuing to knit hats for the homeless. I'm using up yarn from stash and knitting a variety of patterns. I'm hoping that I'll have quite a few ready to donate to a homeless charity ready for the colder weather.

As you can see, I've got a few things on the needles at the moment, and there's the scrappy blanket too, but I have managed to finish the Boxy by Joji Locatelli which I was knitting for Eleanor, I'm quite pleased to have that off the needles and I'll tell you more about it another time.

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Adding To The Stash

I've been a bit naughty lately buying some new yarn and adding to the stash.

First up is some Bergere De France Goomy 50. I've seen a few people knit the Yellow Print colourway into socks and I really like it so when I saw it was in the John Lewis clearance sale at less than half price, not only did I pop this into my basket but another three colourways ended up in there too. I wouldn't say this is the softest yarn I've ever used but it's fine for socks.

Whilst we were on holiday in Cornwall we popped into a yarn shop in Wadebridge. The Woolly Empire carries well known brands such as Stylecraft and King Cole and you can also find dressmaking supplies here too. Eleanor has asked me to knit a couple of things for her friend who's expecting her first baby so I thought it was a good opportunity to choose some yarn whilst Eleanor was with me. I bought two balls of the Stylecraft Wondersoft but one ball is already in use.

I've been wanting to order from Ellie's Craft House Magic Etsy shop for a long time and could resist no longer. Ellie names most of her yarn after songs and Strawberry Fields Forever is one of the first colourways she dyed up. I've been wanting a skein of this since I first saw it, isn't it pretty? I've got a bit of a thing for yellows at the moment, coupled with the fact that I was a big Duran Duran fan in the 80s, so I was always going to buy Rio at some point.

The yarn is scrumptious, beautifully soft, and just look at those speckles.

There's a post on the way soon telling you what I've got on the needles.

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Some Good Archie News

We took Archie to see the vet before we went on holiday, primarily for his booster injection but also for a six month health check. It's quite important that the vet sees him on a regular basis now that he's been diagnosed with a heart murmur, and especially so since he was put on medication to slow down the onset of heart failure.

I'm always apprehensive when taking Archie to see the vet these days, it's concerning to think that there may be more bad news on the way, so imagine my relief when the vet told us that not only is he doing really well but she said that if it wasn't for the heart murmur, which is quite deafening, she'd consider him a really healthy dog.

She was surprised that his heart rate was that of a dog without a heart problem and his lungs were clear. We haven't seen any difference in Archie ourselves so it was good to be told that we're not missing anything.

Of course, he's been struggling a bit in the heat we've been experiencing, as have most of us, but I could feel that weight lift from my shoulders as we left the surgery. I know it will come one day but for now, our little doggy is fighting fit.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

After The Fall

I've said before how I enjoy books by Charity Norman but After The Fall is my favourite yet.

It's funny because I've been gripped from the very first page with a couple of her books, however, this one took a bit of getting into. Once I was a few chapters in, I couldn't put it down.

A five year old boy falls from the upstairs veranda of an isolated farmhouse. It looks like an accident but his mother, Martha McNamara, knows exactly what's happened, though she's keeping it to herself. Emigrating to New Zealand was a dream for the family but it quickly turns into a nightmare.

I've enjoyed every book I've read by Charity Norman so far, and there's only one now left for me to read. I do hope she writes some more soon.

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Dorothy In Oz Socks

These are my Dorothy In Oz socks and I love them.

The Mercury Socks pattern by Kim Drotar has been very popular but I've only just got round to knitting it myself. It was a change knitting a lace pattern. I used Giddy Yarns in Helen's Dorothy colourway. It was a dream to knit with but in hindsight I should have used a contrast for the heels and toes as the colour pools quite a bit where the stitch count changes. A yarn will only provide a constant pattern whilst the number of stitches remain the same, once the number of stitches change the colours in the yarn will work up in a different way.

I love this yarn, inspired by Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, it contains the blue and white of her dress, the red of her ruby slippers and speckles of green and yellow to represent the Emerald City and the yellow brick road, so I've decided to call these socks my Dorothy In Oz socks. I think the yarn would look really pretty knit up in a plain stocking stitch too.

These are another pair of socks which are for me, I'm getting quite selfish with my sock knitting just lately, I think that's what becomes of knitting sixteen pairs of socks in one year and only two of those pairs finding their way to my own sock drawer. It will be nice to have some brand new pairs of socks to warm my feet this winter.

Thursday, 19 July 2018


Number 40 on my 50 Before 50 list is Watch a sunset from a beach and I thought one of our evening picnics on Black Rock beach in Cornwall would be perfect for this.

The weather was beautiful, it had been a hot day but it was cooling down nicely much to Archie's delight. It's been rather stifling for him just lately but the evening temperatures are more to his liking.

We laid out a couple of blankets on the sand and ate a simple picnic whilst many of the families who had enjoyed the beach during the day packed up and left. There weren't many people still on the beach by the time the sun was going down.

It's such a peaceful time of day and rather special to be in a beautiful place watching as the sun disappears and makes its way to another part of the world.

We've been really spoilt with the weather on holiday, it was still warm enough at this time of the day to be in T-shirts without the need for anything to cover our bare arms.

There was a line of cloud just above the horizon, the sun bobbed behind it for a minute or two before making a final appearance.

The sky was such a beautiful colour but all too soon the sun had disappeared for another day.

Watching the sun set is such a simple pleasure in life but one we can all enjoy.

Monday, 16 July 2018

A Wonderful Holiday

We're home again after our fortnight in Cornwall. We got back on Friday night after leaving at 10am, there were so many hold-ups with accidents, roadworks and rush hour traffic that it took nearly nine hours to travel the 327 miles, we usually do it much quicker.

We had a wonderful holiday, we had some really lovely weather for a change. We spent lots of time on Black Rock beach at Widemouth Bay, so called because of the black rock which juts out of the sea, but we also visited Trebarwith Strand and Constantine Bay, other favourite beaches of ours where dogs are allowed to run off their leads.

Archie loves it on the beach. He's still not all that keen on waves but he loves to run and splash in the rock pools, and it was good for cooling him down on the hot days we encountered.

We had a couple of cloudy days but there's always something to do in Cornwall. We took ourselves off to visit some favourite places like Boscastle and Tintagel, though we misjudged it the day we visited Padstow as what we though was going to be a miserable day turned out to be scorching.

We didn't miss out on beach fun though, we spent the evening by the sea instead and enjoyed a lovely picnic, as we did on many evenings.

The same thing happened when we visited Port Isaac, it started off cloudy but the sun ended up putting in an appearance. You can see the house which is used in the TV drama Doc Martin to the left of the photo.

We only encountered one instance of rain in the whole fortnight and boy, did it rain, it was torrential, however, it came out nice mid-afternoon so we still managed some time on the beach that day too. I think our worst day, weather wise, was the 4th of July. Not only was it cloudy but it was really windy too, and though it was still warm, it definitely wasn't a beach day. We decided to take the two hour drive to visit Lands End, the most westerly point of England.

Of course, we had to take a photo of the famous signpost.

It was a relaxing holiday. I took my laptop and plenty of knitting but hardly picked up either one. Instead, as is often the case when I'm on holiday, I did lots of reading. It makes a change to be away from technology for a period of time, though there's always lots to catch-up on afterwards.

I think the holiday provided Eleanor with some down time after being stressed during her uni exams, a couple of which she hasn't done so well in and has to resit. She suffers terribly with anxiety and this, unfortunately, comes out in her exam results. It's a good job that she's been getting high grades in her coursework as this will balance out her overall grades somewhat. On top of this, Eleanor split-up with her boyfriend of four years just before the holiday. It was her decision but still upsetting, for us as well as her as he's such a lovely lad and he had become one of the family.

The weekend has been busy. Saturday was spent catching up with all the necessary chores which are waiting after being away from home for a fortnight and yesterday was Eleanor's 20th birthday. It's hard to believe that both my children are now in their twenties and I no longer have any teenagers. We went out for a nice meal and today, friends from university are coming for a night out with Eleanor and her friends from Leeds.

Things are rather busy round here at the moment but I shall be round to check out your news in due course, it may take me a little longer than usual though.

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

And We're Off

Well, we will be on Friday. I've still got lots to do, including washing, ironing, packing, changing the beds, housekeeping for my parents and shopping for them to make sure they've got plenty of food in whilst we're away, and other last minute things so I'm signing off the blog now. We're setting off to Cornwall very early on Friday morning as it usually takes us about seven hours with convenience stops for Archie. The lodge does have wi-fi, though I love spending a couple of weeks away from technology so whether I'll even unpack the laptop remains to be seen.

See you in a fortnight.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Tasteless Toms

I've grown my own tomatoes for many years now, I think once you start growing your own, you realise that the taste of a shop bought tomato is poor in comparison. There's only me in our house who eats tomatoes so I usually give them a miss until harvest time comes around when I can pick my own, however, I decided not to grow anything at all this year for a couple of reasons, but it means that if I want some tomatoes on my salads, I'm having to buy them.

We had a greengrocer within walking distance who sold locally grown produce which wouldn't have been so bad, but the shop closed towards the end of last year which means I'm now having to buy from the supermarket.

Perhaps I should have grown a couple of tomato plants after all.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

All-In-One Baby Top

Knowing that one of Eleanor's friends is expecting a baby has given me the opportunity to do a little bit of baby knitting. I used to knit lots of baby garments when I was in my teens. Coming from a large extended family and being the youngest cousin, there always seemed to be someone who was pregnant that I could knit for, but I haven't done any baby knitting for quite some time now.

I already had a ball of Hayfield Bonus DK in my stash so I looked for a pattern that would suit this yarn and I came up with the All-In-One Baby Top by Marianna Mel, a free pattern on Ravelry. As well as it being such a pretty little jacket, it was the All-In-One bit that attracted me as I hate sewing up seams. Knowing that Lucinda has already had a scan and found out that she's expecting a girl, I'd have probably gone for a different colour had I got a choice, but lemon was all that I had in my stash and I really wanted to get it knit up as I knew that Eleanor was seeing her before she went to London last week and would be able to give it to her then.

It didn't take much yarn so I knit the matching hat too, the pattern calls for this to be knit flat but I found modifications on Ravelry to enable me to knit it in the round.

Lucinda was really pleased when Eleanor gave her the little gift so I may have to knit something else now for when the baby's born. I really enjoy knitting things for babies as they're so small, they don't take very long at all.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Wartime Weekend

This weekend was Wartime Weekend at Lotherton. One of the great things about our annual pass for Lotherton is that most of the theme days and events they host are included in the price. We pay just £28.80 for a joint membership as Mick has a Leeds Card, which in itself costs £10 but gives us discounts and offers in and around Leeds. Without the Leeds Card it would cost £36, which is still a good deal considering how many times we visit throughout the year. If we were paying on the gate it would cost us £5.50 each, or £4.20 each with a Leeds Card, every visit.

Anyway back to this weekend. We were told to bring our dancing shoes as there would be vintage singers and military reenactors to take us back to the 1940s. We were forecast thunder storms on Saturday so we decided we'd go on Sunday. As it happened, the thunder storm consisted of one heavy downpour and one clap of thunder late on in the day. Sunday was rather dull but at least it stayed dry. Unfortunately, there weren't any vintage singers on the Sunday, I wonder if they'd been there on Saturday, but there was someone playing prerecorded wartime songs and plenty of people were having a dance.

There were many people sat on the grass enjoying a picnic and although I never join in with a theme it's nice to see that others make an effort, they looked really good dressed in vintage clothes and with the hairstyles of the day.

After stopping for a while to listen to the tunes and watch the dancing, we crossed to a nearby field where the military reenactors had set up.

There were various displays which showcased the uniforms, equipment and weapons from around the world.

I wonder how many of the troops watched this.

It wasn't a huge event but enjoyable to take a look at before our usual wander around the grounds with Archie. As we passed through the orchard we saw that the grass has been allowed to grow and the area is full of buttercups.

I don't know why this little hedgehog was out, they're nocturnal animals and usually sleep during the day.

It was nice to see so many families enjoying the entertainment and it added a little something extra to our walk.