Thursday, 25 May 2017

Swimming

Number 2 on my 50 Before 50 list is Start Swimming Regularly, so I've decided that the time is right and I've made a start.


I went to my first session a month ago and I managed twenty lengths. I've been going weekly since then, each time increasing the number of lengths I do by two and I'm now up to twenty eight lengths.

Water was something I feared when I was a young child, probably because I couldn't swim, I was a late learner being nine by the time I managed to get across the pool without my armbands. Once I could swim, however, I loved it and it didn't take me long to make my way up through the classes at my swimming lessons. I vowed that my own children would be able to swim at an early age so we started their swimming lessons when they were very young. They're both very good swimmers now, Daniel got to his Gold award and then wanted to stop but Eleanor went right up to her Honours award and went on to compete in galas.

Those first twenty lengths a month ago were a bit of a struggle but it's getting easier each time I go, even though I'm increasing the distance I swim.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Enabled

Would you like to see the latest bag of squishiness which arrived through the post from those lovely people at Wool Warehouse? I thought you might so here it is in all its glory.


And the back.


Would you like to take a closer look? Of course you would.

I admit it, I read Christine's Easter weekend post on her Winwick Mum blog and I couldn't resist this West Yorkshire Spinners yarn, I was enabled there and then. How can you say no to colours with names such as Sherbet Fizz, Candyfloss and Pink Flamingo? I love how all these colours work so well with each other so that they can be mixed and matched, ideal for socks where the main body can be knitted in one colour and then finished off with the heels, toes and cuffs knitted in a complimentary shade.


I've used Cascade Heritage Sock Yarn on two previous occasions and I love how soft and squishy it is. It's always good to have some solid colours on hand too for more fussy patterns which don't show as well on patterned yarn. I chose two skeins, one in Moss and the other in China Blue. I have to say that the Moss didn't look quite so bright on the Wool Warehouse website, it's much brighter than this photo shows, and I wasn't quite sure about the China Blue but I do love the colour now I've seen it in the flesh.


There's a Drops Super Sale on at Wool Warehouse at the moment where you can save 35% on a range of Drops yarn throughout May. Well, when I saw that, it was another enabling moment for me. I decided that I'd buy a garment quantity of yarn whilst I could get such a good discount and went for Nepal, a 65% wool/35% alpaca mix in the Camel Mix colourway. I can see a cardigan in my future.


Again, taking advantage of the Drops Super Sale, I ordered four 50g balls of Drops Fabel, two in the Pink Dream Print and two in the Blue Sea Print. This is a budget priced yarn made from 75% wool/25% polyamide so ideal for socks.


My stash is looking quite healthy at the moment so it's time to get some of it used up before I buy any more. Just remind me I said that when I feel enabled again.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Raindrops On Roses - May

These are a few of my favourite things.


Fountain pen. I love my red Lamy fountain pen, I've been using it to write in my journal. We used to have to use a fountain pen for a time at school and I got used to using one, however, after leaving school it was many years before I picked one up to use again. Consequently, when using one now, my writing is rather messy. I do wish I could write neater with it.


Knitting magazine. I was given this back issue from October 2016 when I visited the Spring Into Wool yarn festival. It's a magazine I haven't read before but I'm rather impressed by it. It contains some good articles, which I've found interesting, along with a great number of patterns.


Kindle. I wasn't convinced that I'd get along with a Kindle, how wrong I was. I do enjoy having a 'proper' book in my hands when reading, however, I wouldn't be without my Kindle now. It was a gift from Mick for Christmas 2014 and it comes in so handy when I have bouts of sleepless nights, as I'm having at the moment. As the Kindle is lit, it means that I can read without turning on the light and disturbing Mick.


Giddy Knits podcast. This is my favourite podcast at the moment. Helen lives in Surrey with her husband and two young boys and she shares what's on her needles as well as projects she's recently finished. At the moment she's gearing up to host the Summer Stripe Along, a craft along for knitters, crocheters, spinners, weavers, sewers, etc. It promises to be lots of fun with a host of entertaining events taking place in the Ravelry group. I'm sure I'll be joining in along the way.


Evening walks. I'm not one to spend a lot of time outdoors during the winter months but once spring's here, along with the lighter evenings and warmer weather, I love going out for a stroll after tea. We've had some gorgeous evenings just lately and we've certainly taken advantage of them getting out when we can. Archie loves having a change of scenery on his walks too.

What favourites do you have this month? How about joining me and writing a post about them?

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Antarktis Shawl

I thoroughly enjoyed knitting the Antarktis Shawl by Janina Kallio. It's a paid for pattern on Ravelry and though there's elements which I've never come across in a pattern before, it's easy enough for a beginner to attempt.


It was knit in Debbie Bliss Fine Donegal in the teal colourway and though in theory there should have been enough yarn to complete the shawl in one skein, I didn't swatch to check my tension and I ended up running short of yarn towards the end so I just missed off four rows from the border. I don't think it makes a difference to the finished garment. It has a lovely drape.


A closer look shows the pattern better, and also the tweedy bits in the yarn.


Christmas knitting has started early for me this year, I haven't gifted many hand made items over the last couple of years but I want to start again and so this shawl is the first of my Christmas knits, I just hope the recipient likes it.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Everything Love Is

I can only remember one book which I've ever given up on (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo if you're interested) but if I were in the habit of putting a book down when I couldn't get in to it, I'd have definitely done so with this one.


Everything Love Is is Claire King's second novel. I read her first book, The Night Rainbow, back in 2013 and I really enjoyed it but I'm sorry to say that I found this latest offering quite tedious, I found myself not wanting to read as it was so hard going. I was confused as to who was telling the story and the toing and froing in time had me muddled too. The story just didn't grab my attention until the very end.

I really enjoyed the last quarter of the book once the story seemed to take off, it's just a shame that it didn't get going much sooner. This last section of the book was back to Claire King's beautiful style of writing and I found myself wishing that it had grabbed me from the beginning rather than just as the book was going to end.

I've read some fantastic reviews of the book so I don't think everyone feels the same way as I do about it, which is the same with most books, we all enjoy different things, this one just didn't do it for me.

If you want to know what else I've been reading lately, you can find a list in the sidebar. This shows all the books I've read this year and there's also lists of the books I've read right back to 2012.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Eleanor's Grey Day Socks

I've used Erica Lueder's Hermione's Everyday Socks pattern before but I had a feeling the texture would show up better in a plain yarn so I decided I'd knit a pair in some Cascade Heritage yarn in the charcoal colourway. I was right, this time round the pattern shows up much better.


I quite fancied this pair of socks myself but Eleanor was home a couple of weeks ago as she was going to an Ed Sheeran concert, she saw me knitting them and, just as I thought, she quite fancied them too. They'll be making their way to Nottingham in some Happy Mail to cheer up any grey days Eleanor might have ahead of her, it's exam time after all. Mick's working in Nottingham on Monday so he'll drop the box of goodies off in person and if Eleanor's really lucky, he might even take her out for tea.

Whoever said that students have it hard?

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Handspun

You only have to look how well the spinning and fibre stalls are doing at a yarn festival to realise how popular spinning is. I'm always drawn to the beautiful spinning wheels which are either on display or being used in demonstrations, yet it's something I've never tried myself, nor have I ever knitted up any handspun yarn. I've been watching the Knatters Knits podcast, Natalie who presents this podcast is a wonderful spinner and she asked if I'd like to try some of her handspun yarn, how could I refuse?

This is 70% Bluefaced Leicester/30% sparkle and it's beautifully soft. I really do need to find the perfect project to show this off so any suggestions would be appreciated. I thought a cowl might be nice or maybe a pair of mittens. Perhaps you could help me decide.


Here's a closer look at the colours, the lilac and lemon goes so well together.


Thank you so much, Natalie, I'm thrilled to bits with this scrumptious yarn and it will be put to very good use, I can't wait to try it out.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

An Apple A Day

I'm not sure my little apple tree will produce enough fruit to supply me with an apple a day but there's been plenty of blossom on it this year. It's starting to fade though now.


This little tree was bought back in 2012 with some money my mum and dad had given us for our wedding anniversary, it's a Gloster which produces red skinned apples with a crisp flesh. I'd intended to grow it in a container but after a couple of years I realised it wasn't doing so well so I found a spot for it in the garden and put it in the ground. It's certainly happier here as it's produced some decent sized harvests, in relation to the size of the tree, since then.


It's only a small tree, I bought it on dwarf rootstock (the part of the tree planted underground onto which the rest of the tree is grafted, and which determines the size to which it'll eventually grow) to keep it manageable, however, it's certainly grown since I bought it five years ago.


I'm hopeful for another good harvest this year.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Lotherton Hall - Another View

I've done lots of posts about Lotherton Hall in the past:- Lotherton Hall And Doggy Ghosts, Fabby DayBack To Lotherton, A Date At Lotherton Hall, Lotherton Hall Bird Garden, A Muddy Walk At Lotherton. Until now, I haven't been able to show you inside the house but we visited again yesterday as there was a food fair being held there and I noticed a sign saying photography inside the house was allowed without a flash so I thought I'd pop in to take a few photos to show you.


Lotherton Hall has been home to a number of prominent families, the most recent being the Gascoignes. It was gifted to the City of Leeds in 1968 by Sir Alvary Gascoigne and his wife. As you enter the inner hall there's a portrait of Sir Thomas Gascoigne 1743-1810.


This is the Housekeepers Room. There's a beautiful piano here and a well used writing desk.


The tablecloth sports some pretty embroidery.


Just off from the Houskeepers Room is the Servants Hall. The rooms I most like to explore in houses such as this one is the kitchen and scullery but these rooms, along with others, aren't open to the public.

I always thought a boudoir was a woman's bedroom but it can also be a small, private room. This room may be private but I wouldn't class it as small.


The Medal Room. This is most certainly a gentleman's room with it's masculine decor.


These are just a few of the medals displayed on the walls.


There are two large book shelves in the Library, you can see just one in the photo.


The Dining Room. A lovely space to entertain.


I thought this highchair was so sweet. I made sure I got the fireplace in the photo for scale. I remember highchairs like this where it splits in to a low chair and table once the baby's a little older.


Time to visit some of the rooms upstairs now.


They do say that the secret to a happy marriage is having separate bathrooms, this one is the Colonel's.


Lady Gascoigne's Bedroom.


I wonder if Lady Gascoigne was actually a spinner, there's a spinning wheel by the side of her bed.


Adjoining Lady Gascoigne's room is Sir Alvary's Room.


I'm not sure about the fire screen in Sir Alvary's Room, it seems to be a display of stuffed birds, not my kind of thing at all.


Between 1914 and 1918, Lotherton Hall was used as a voluntary aid detachment hospital for wounded soldiers. A few photos are displayed showing some of the patients and the nurses who cared for them.




I haven't included all the rooms in this post, there's more to see, along with many interesting displays and a good variety of paintings. There's usually an exhibition being held in the hall, at the moment it's Fashionable Yorkshire, exploring the history of fashion through the clothes and personal stories of a selection of Yorkshire women.


A bird garden, which is home to an extensive collection of endangered bird species, has been in the grounds of Lotherton Hall since the 1970s. Many of them are part of endangered breeding programmes. At the moment, work is being undertaken to change the bird garden in to Lotherton Wildlife World which will see forest mammals being introduced as well as new bird species.


There's lots of work going on at the moment building new habitats ready for the animals to move in to.

I didn't take many photos in the bird garden this time but I just had to show you the following two. This rhea had obviously had a hard day.


One of the emus took a bit of a fancy to me and was happy to pose for photos.


I hope you enjoyed this little tour. If you're in the area I can thoroughly recommend a visit to Lotherton Hall, allow yourself plenty of time as there's lots to explore: the house and chapel, the gardens, the bird garden, the orchard, the deer park, walks, not forgetting the courtyard and cafe. If you have children you should allow a full day as you'll never tear them away from the fabulous playground and newly installed play equipment.

I think you can tell it's a place we enjoy visiting.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Raindrops On Roses - April

These are a few of my favourite things.


Tadpoles! Following on from last month's Raindrops On Roses post where I showed the frogspawn in my little pond, I've finally got tadpoles. Last year was the first time I'd had frogspawn in the pond but sadly, no tadpoles emerged. This year, I'm overrun with them and it's going to be a very full pond indeed if they all survive.


Easter Egg. Just the one. I rarely get an Easter egg these days but Mick treated me this year. I've made it last and enjoyed every mouthful.


Little House on the Prairie. I'm working my way through all the past episodes of this 1970's TV series set in the 19th century American west. I'm on to series four now, there's nine series in total so I'm not even half way through yet, though I'm in no rush to finish, I just watch an episode here and there when I've got an hour to myself. I used to love watching this programme when I was a child and I'm enjoying it just as much this time round.


Blossom. April's the month when fruit trees burst in to colour and it's always a beautiful sight. My own little cherry and apple trees are flowering at the moment but this magnificent tree is at Lotherton Hall where we went for a walk on Sunday.


Indie dyed yarn. I learnt to knit as a child and followed the hobby through to my teens. I had a break from knitting for many years before picking my needles up again back in 2010. I'd given up work that year and had a little extra time on my hands, it's funny how we go back to old hobbies when we're not so rushed in life. It wasn't long after rediscovering knitting that I came across some independent dyers, I've bought many skeins from Laughing Yaffle since discovering their gorgeous yarn back in 2011 and I've still got three skeins from there in my stash, and I'm using some yarn from Wharfedale Woolworks at the moment that I've had in my stash since 2011. I'm discovering new indie dyers all the time and I'm building up quite a collection of scrumptious yarn, the photo above is just a small selection of what I've got in my stash.

What favourites do you have this month? How about joining me and writing a post about them?