Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Photo Medley - January

I often have lots of photos on my camera which don't make it on to the blog for one reason or another, I may take a photo which doesn't fit in to a blog post or I may have taken far too many photos of a subject to include them all in one blog post. I had an idea that I would combine all these odd photos at the end of each month and show them on my blog. When it's come near to the end of January, I've had a look at what I've got and unfortunately, it doesn't amount to much, probably because the weather's been too cold to be out and about with my camera and the light too dismal to get good shots indoors.

There's just a few here for January.

The unused bug house covered in snow. I've had this for two years now and not one bug has taken up residence in it.

My Granny Stripe blanket. It's grown just a little since this photo was taken and I'm loving how the colours are working out.

Mrs Blackbird in the garden. I was counting the visiting birds for the Big Garden Birdwatch.

A Dunnock hoovering up the seeds which had been dropped from one of the feeders.

I hope to have more photos to include in the posts at the end of future months, we'll see how it goes.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

I Spoke Too Soon

I mentioned in my last post how I'm not keen on starting a new blanket. I dislike making the foundation chain and crocheting the first couple of rows, but I'd started my new Granny Stripe blanket, got past those first tricksy rows, and thought it would be plain sailing from then on. How wrong I was.

I used a larger hook for the foundation chain, moving up from 4mm to 6mm. The first few rows went all well and good but as I added more and more rows, the work started to want to arc like a rainbow. It wasn't too noticeable and it was easy to pull it in to shape. I thought that once finished, putting a border on would probably sort it out, but I knew it wasn't right so I started again.

This time I used an 8mm hook for the foundation chain and it seems to have sorted the problem out. I've never had any problem like this with my ripple blankets and I've crocheted the foundation chain in the same way so I'm not sure why it happened this time.

I'm enjoying putting the colours together and seeing how they work out. There's seventeen shades to choose from so there's plenty of choice.

I'm hoping that this time, it really will be plain sailing with no further hiccups.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

New Projects

After finishing my Christmas Knitting, I had a bit of a break. I was knitting gifts right up to the big day and then, after receiving some lovely crafty gifts for Christmas, as well as having other projects waiting in the wings, I just couldn't decide what to start.

While I was thinking about it, I cracked on and made some dishcloths. They don't take long to make and I like handmade ones much more than bought ones. They last much longer too. I always use Grandmother's Favorite Dishcloth pattern, it's very easy to knit up.

In the end, I decided that I'd start a couple of projects which have been waiting since Christmas 2013. Mick bought me a huge pack of Stylecraft Special DK, it's made up of the 17 shades which are used in the Attic24 Granny Stripe blanket.

I've been wondering whether to use the yarn to make a Granny Stripe blanket myself or whether to use it for something different. In the end I decided to go with the Granny Stripe afterall. I have two cream leather sofas in my room so I'd like to make a couple of Granny Stripe blankets so that I can have one on the back of each, they will add a bit of colour to all the neutral tones in my room. I love the process of blanket making once I get going, though it has to be said that I'm not keen on those first few rows, making the foundation chain and the first couple of rows after that, but I made a start last night so it should be plain sailing from now on.

Another project which has been waiting since Christmas 2013 is the cross stitch kit which Mick bought me.

I've only attempted cross stitch once before, that was many many years ago and it never got finished. I started this one a few days ago but goodness me, my eyesight is worse than I thought. I'm finding it so hard to see the tiny holes so it's very slow going. This tiny patch which I've completed so far took me a very long time, I can see that this project will take ages to complete. I thought that cross stitch may be a nice winter hobby but I can't see a thing in electric light, I need natural light when stitching, so perhaps it's more of a summer hobby.

I've still got the Yarn From Skeggy to use. I'd like to make this in to a blanket but I'm not sure what style as yet, that's something else to think about. I also think I may add some more colours to those I've already got.

Edward's Menagerie is also waiting to be started. I've decided that the first animal I'll attempt is Emma the Bunny as this is supposed to be the easiest pattern to start off with.

Then there's my hare felting kit which Mick bought me for Christmas this year. I've no idea whether I'll find this easy or hard, needle felting is something I've never tried before.

There's a couple of knitted items I'd like to make. I've been promising myself a hat for the last few years but still haven't got round to making one. My ears get rather cold when I'm out walking Archie, especially when the temperature plummets as it did yesterday. In fact, it was so icy yesterday that I went flying whilst I was walking him. I did that thing that many people do when they take a tumble, get up and pretend it never happened and then have a sneaky look round a few moments later to see if anyone saw you. Luckily, I didn't see anyone about so I hope my fall went unobserved. I didn't think I was hurt at the time but I've got a very sore leg today. Anyway, back to the hat. I've seen a lovely pattern in Issue 128 of Simply Knitting so I'd like to get the yarn for that and I've seen a couple of patterns for scarves which I'd like to have a go at too.

So that's lots of new projects, either just started or waiting to be started. I think I'm going to be very busy.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Yarndale Gifts

I didn't have much in the way of purchases to show you in my Yarndale 2014 post. There were so many things there that took my fancy but I found it all a little overwhelming and I came home with fairly empty bags. Mick, on the other hand, did quite well. He watched closely what I was admiring and went off shopping on his own, only for some things from Yarndale to turn up in my Christmas stocking.

One of the things which I fell in love with on the day was needle felting. There was so much of it shown around the show, it really caught my attention. I loved all the little felt animals on jennymade's stand so I was thrilled to bits to find that Mick had bought me this needle felt hare kit.

A couple of purchases I did make myself, but which I couldn't share on my blog at the time, were a couple of needle felting kits I bought as Christmas gifts. This is the one I bought for Eleanor.

She's already started it and has managed to make the ball shape for the head, but it's been put on standby while she does her exams, she's had mocks all this week and last week, but now they're over I'm sure she'll get back on with it.

I've been wanting an apron for ages, I'm so messy in the kitchen and I get whatever I'm cooking all down my clothes. I came across the Quince Pie stand but there was such a wonderful choice of designs that I couldn't make up my mind. Mick made his mind up though and bought me this one in a fabulous sheep print for Christmas.

I stood admiring the Edward's Menagerie animals for ages wondering if I should buy Kerry Lord's book or not.

I've never read or followed a crochet pattern before so I thought it would probably be too hard for me and decided against. Mick obviously has more faith in me than I do myself as not only did the book turn up in my Christmas stocking but so did the most beautiful ball of Toft Alpaca yarn.

I did know that these ceramic pig earrings would be in my stocking as Mick bought them while I was there. I love all things pig so I just had to have these, they're so cute.

I may not have bought very much myself when I attended Yarndale, but I've now got plenty of things to remind me of a wonderful day out.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Christmas Knitting

I didn't do as much knitting for Christmas as I've done other years, I'm quite a slow knitter so it can be quite time consuming. I thought I'd show you what I did do though.

Eleanor mentioned that she'd like some more long socks. I've used this same Sirdar pattern many times, in fact, it's the one I used when I first started knitting socks as they're done on two needles rather than double pointed needles which seemed scary to me at the time. Now, I much prefer knitting in the round as there's no sewing up to do. I decided I'd make her two pairs as I already had the Sirdar Crofter yarn in my stash, one pair in heather, the other in plumage.

I also knit a pair of socks for one of The Twelve Days Of Christmas gifts which I gave to Lisa from Jumble and Jelly. This is also a pattern I've used before, Thuja by Bobby Ziegler. I used Regia World College Color in library colourway which was in my stash, this yarn is no longer available which is a shame as I really like it.

Hand made soap wrapped with a washcloth was the order of the day this Christmas. They don't take very long to knit up and look quite fancy when tied with a pretty ribbon. Eleanor and Lisa were among the recipients. I used Rico Design Creative Cotton Print in both pink and green mix.

That was the extent of my Christmas knitting. Perhaps I should start earlier this year so that I can get more done.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

The Twelve Days Of Christmas

You may remember back on my Unexpected Gifts post that I mentioned the Twelve Days Of Christmas swap that Lisa from Jumble and Jelly and I had decided to do. You can see the twelve parcels which Lisa sent me in that post.

I had a few people ask me to show what was inside the wrapping so here we go.

On the first day of Christmas Lisa sent to me:-
A Christmas pudding brooch and a chocolate coin. The brooch is so cute and it will be worn all through next Christmas.

On the second day of Christmas Lisa sent to me:-
Mini Christmas list pegs and three chocolate coins. Lisa knows how I like to be organised so these little pegs will stand me in good stead.

On the third day of Christmas Lisa sent to me:-
A keyring and two chocolate coins. I've just had some new keys cut, goodness knows what happened to the ones I had but they've gone missing somehow, so this lovely keyring will keep the new ones safe.

On the fourth day of Christmas Lisa sent to me:-
My Sister Eileen DVD and four chocolate coins. I've never seen this film but it's got some good reviews online so I'm looking forward to watching it. It's a musical so it fits in to my favourite genre very well.

On the fifth day of Christmas Lisa sent to me:-
HEMA washi tape and two chocolate coins. I love this tape, perfect for jazzing up my Filofax.

On the sixth day of Christmas Lisa sent to me:-
A writing set and four chocolate coins. I'm a sucker for nice stationery and this fits the bill perfectly. I'd recently run out of my nice writing paper so this came in the nick of time.

On the seventh day of Christmas Lisa sent to me:-
A pair of socks and a Flump. I never wear plain socks, I always have a picture on them so these are right up my street and Flumps are very popular in our house so I've had to hide this so that I can sit down on my own and savour it.

On the eighth day of Christmas Lisa sent to me:-
A heart hanger and two chocolate coins. A beautiful sentiment, I'm still thinking about the perfect place to hang it.

On the ninth day of Christmas Lisa sent to me:-
An alphabet stamp set and two chocolate coins. I used to make cards and I've also dabbled with scrapbooking, something I'd like to take up again so this stamp set will come in very useful for that.

On the tenth day of Christmas Lisa sent to me:-
A Christmas bauble filled with little chocolate Christmas puddings. I shall refill this with chocolates and hang it on the tree next Christmas.

On the eleventh day of Christmas Lisa sent to me:-
Snowfall in Burracombe by Lilian Harry, a Dogs & Puppies bookmark calendar and three chocolate coins. The book sounds really good and it's got excellent reviews online too. I love the bookmark calendar, there's a different bookmark for each month of the year and I was pleased to see that there's a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel on one of them.

On the twelfth day of Christmas Lisa sent to me:-
A sticky note pad and four chocolate coins. I go through so many sticky notes in my Filofax so these are great, especially as they're so cute.

So there you have it, haven't I done well? Twelve fabulous gifts and all that choccy too. It's been fun opening a gift each day for twelve days after Christmas, it's prolonged the festivities here.

Thank you so much, Lisa, I'm thrilled to bits with every single gift.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Nib Nibs Giveaway Winner

Thank you to everyone who entered the Nib Nibs giveaway. Everyone who entered had the chance of earning up to ten entries and it seems that lots of people would like to get their hands on some to try as there were 856 entries in total, quite an amount.

I'm pleased to announce that the winner chosen at random is Sarah C. The guys from Nib Nibs will be in touch with you directly to obtain your shipping details.

Don't forget, if you fancy trying Nib Nibs yourself there's a page on their website which lets you know where your local stockists are. I can definitely recommend them.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Twelfth Night

It's nearly Twelfth Night, the day when all the Christmas cards and decorations are taken down for another year. I have to admit that ours were taken down yesterday, Mick did the honours. I like to have everywhere back to normal before Mick goes back to work and Eleanor goes back to school, though the house is looking rather bare at the moment.

Both Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury's have a Christmas card recycling scheme. Marks & Spencer are working with The Woodland Trust and for every 1000 cards they collect in their recycling bins, one tree will be planted. The bins are in M&S stores right up until the 31st of January 2015. Christmas cards and wrapping paper can also be recycled at Sainsbury's, who will make a donation to Forest Stewardship Council UK based on the volume of cards collected in its stores. Their collection boxes will be in stores until the 13th of January 2015. Both people and wildlife need woodland so I think these are great schemes and it doesn't cost us anything to help. I know what I'll be doing with the cards I've taken down.

I received some wonderful cards this year but one of my favourites was this one showing York Minster in the snow. Isn't it beautiful?

Don't forget that my Nib Nibs giveaway will shortly be coming to a close. You can enter on my Nib Nibs Review And Giveaway post if you haven't already done so.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

2015 Challenges

For a few years now, I've set myself some fun challenges at the start of the year. It's a great alternative to new year's resolutions which are usually things you're not really looking forward to doing and which get broken before the end of January.

A Kindle was at the top of my Christmas wish list and I was lucky enough to receive one as a gift from Mick so my first challenge is going to be a reading challenge. I'm quite a slow reader, though I'm hoping that I'll read more now that I've got a Kindle as I'll be able to read when I'm awake through the night, so my first challenge is to read one book each month.

Running alongside this first challenge is a secondary reading challenge. I used to read Agatha Christie when I was in my teens and enjoyed them but I haven't read one of her books since. When I saw twelve Agatha Christie books in The Book People sale for £10 I couldn't resist. There are 66 detective or mystery novels to work my way through and I'd like to do this in chronological order. I'll start with book number one, The Mysterious Affair At Styles, which is one of the twelve books I've already got, and see how far I can get this year, bearing in mind that I'll be reading other books too. This will be an ongoing challenge until I've read the lot.

One of my challenges in 2013 was to watch an old film each month. This year, I'm setting myself another film challenge but this is one which will carry on in to subsequent years. I want to work my way through The Top 100 Greatest Movies Of All Time as voted for by regular IMDb users. I shall watch the films I've already seen again so that I'm starting from scratch.

1. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
2. The Godfather (1972)
3. The Godfather: Part II (1974)
4. The Dark Knight (2008)
5. Pulp Fiction (1994)
6. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
7. 12 Angry Men (1957)
8. Schindler's List (1993)
9. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
10. Fight Club (1999)
11. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
12. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
13. Inception (2010)
14. Forrest Gump (1994)
15. Interstellar (2014)
16. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
17. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
18. Goodfellas (1990)
19. The Matrix (1999)
20. Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)
21. Seven Samurai (1954)
22. City of God (2002)
23. Se7en (1995)
24. The Usual Suspects (1995)
25. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
26. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
27. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
28. Leon (1994)
29. Life Is Beautiful (1997)
30. Casablanca (1942)
31. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
32. American History X (1998)
33. Psycho (1960)
34. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
35. City Lights (1931)
36. Spirited Away (2001)
37. Rear Window (1954)
38. Untouchable (2011)
39. Modern Times (1936)
40. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
41. Memento (2000)
42. The Green Mile (1999)
43. The Pianist (2002)
44. Sunset Boulevard (1950)
45. Apocalypse Now (1979)
46. The Departed (2006)
47. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
48. Gladiator (2000)
49. Back to the Future (1985)
50. Alien (1979)
51. The Prestige (2006)
52. The Great Dictator (1940)
53. The Lives of Others (2006)
54. The Lion King (1994)
55. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
56. Django Unchained (2012)
57. Cinema Paradiso (1988)
58. The Shining (1980)
59. Paths of Glory (1957)
60. American Beauty (1999)
61. WALL E (2008)
62. North by Northwest (1959)
63. Aliens (1986)
64. Citizen Kane (1941)
65. Amelie (2001)
66. Vertigo (1958)
67. M (1931)
68. Toy Story 3 (2010)
69. Das Boot (1981)
70. Oldboy (2003)
71. Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
72. Princess Mononoke (1997)
73. Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)
74. Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
75. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
76. Taxi Driver (1976)
77. Reservoir Dogs (1992)
78. Double Indemnity (1944)
79. Braveheart (1995)
80. Requiem for a Dream (2000)
81. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
82. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
83. Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
84. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
85. Full Metal Jacket (1987)
86. Singin' in the Rain (1952)
87. The Sting (1973)
88. Bicycle Thieves (1948)
89. Amadeus (1984)
90. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
91. Snatch. (2000)
92. Boyhood (2014)
93. Rashomon (1950)
94. L.A. Confidential (1997)
95. For a Few Dollars More (1965)
96. All About Eve (1950)
97. The Apartment (1960)
98. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
99. The Kid (1921)
100. Some Like It Hot (1959)

I wonder how many of those I'll manage to get through this year.

My last challenge is to support a variety of charities. I enjoyed taking part in The Big Knit as one of my challenges last year. There's so many deserving charities out there and they're all crying out for our help so I want to support some of them and I'll be doing that in a number of different ways. Some charities advertise certain appeals and I'll be joining in with some of them as well as trying to help in other ways too.

So those are the challenges I'm setting myself this year. Would any of you like to join in with any of the challenges here, or perhaps you've set yourself some challenges of your own? I'd love to know.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Happy New Year

Taken at Roundhay Park on Boxing Day. It was bitterly cold so I wasn't surprised when snow fell later on in the day.

Wishing you all a happy new year and all the very best for 2015.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

2014 Challenge Results

My 2014 challenges were:-

1) Knit one hat each week for The Innocent Big Knit.

2) Do something nice for me.

3) Choose a non fiction book from the library.

I had fifty little hats ready in good time to send in to Age UK for The Innocent Big Knit. These hats will adorn Innocent Smoothie bottles which will be in shops in February and every bottle sold will generate a 25p donation from Innocent to support Age UK's Spread the Warmth campaign, helping older people during the colder months. I shall be looking out in the shops in February to see if I can spot any of my own hats perched on the top of any Innocent bottles.

I found it quite hard to think of nice things for me. I suppose this says that I'm already quite content with life as it is. Over the year, they ranged from days out to watching DVDs to spending time with family and eating out. I did enjoy taking time out from the ordinary though and thinking about myself for a change.

I've loaned some really interesting books from the library over the course of the year. I think the book I borrowed in November, This Was Garforth, which was published by Garforth Historical Society was my favourite as I thoroughly enjoy reading about the history of the area in which I live.

I think these fun challenges are much more sensible that making new year's resolutions which tend to get broken fairly quickly. I'm coming up with some new ones for 2015 but they've yet to be finalised.