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.

Monday, 8 July 2019

The Ship Of Brides

I haven't been reading all that much since my mum died, I've found it quite hard to concentrate on anything and I believe reading does take a certain amount of focus. Since reading Me Before You back in 2016, I've become a big Jojo Moyes fan, I've read quite a few of her books now, so when I saw The Ship of Brides in a charity shop, I grabbed it. I have to say that my reading mojo was swiftly reestablished as soon as I began reading.

'The year is 1946 and all over the world young women are crossing the seas in their thousands en route to the men they married in wartime, and an unknown future. In Sydney, Australia, four women join 650 other brides and hundreds of naval officers on an extraordinary voyage to England - aboard the Victoria.

Rules of honour, duty and separation are strictly enforced, from the aircraft carrier's captain down to the lowliest young stoker. But the men and the brides will find their lives intertwined in ways the Navy could never have imagined...

And Frances Mackenzie, an enigmatic young bride whose past comes back to haunt her thousands of miles from home - will find that sometimes the journey is more important than the destination.'

This book is based on a true story, that of Jojo Moyes own grandmother, who made this same journey. I didn't know anything about brides, married during wartime, being shipped across oceans to be reunited with their husbands when the war ended so I was really interested in this part of the story. The book follows the fate of four brides, each one of them very different.

One thing I would say is that the very beginning was a little slow and I didn't know where the story was going, but that soon changed.

This is the best book I've read in a long time, I absolutely loved the story and it's so well written. A definite recommendation from me.

Friday, 5 July 2019

Twenty Years

It's twenty years today since my wonderful sister died, she was just forty two years old.

My sister was my bridesmaid.
There were twelve years between us, she used to spoil me rotten as a child and we were very close as adults, she was my best friend. She was such a kind and caring person and we always had lots of laughs together.

It doesn't seem long since I took that dreadful phone call from her husband on that Monday morning in 1999, but then on the other hand, such a lot has happened since.

We'll be taking some flowers to the crematorium this afternoon, though I don't need any special place to remember her, she's in my thoughts every day.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Shapely Boyfriend Cardigan

At long last I've finished the Shapely Boyfriend Cardigan by Stefanie Japel. I started this right at the end of October last year and being knit in aran weight yarn, it shouldn't have taken long in theory but it's been picked up and put down, picked back up and put back down again, but finally it's off the needles.

It hasn't been blocked yet, I'll probably just give it a bit of a steam blocking, and it's quite hard to get a good photo of it, but you can get an idea of what it's like. I'm really quite pleased with it.

It was working up rather small when I first started it so I pulled it back and started again, knitting a bigger size, and it has now come out on the large size, but I don't mind that, I like oversized sweaters, especially cardigans so that I'm able to layer up. I've also knit it a little longer than suggested.

I used Drops Nepal, a 65% wool 35% alpaca blend, in the Camel Mix colourway. It's a good budget priced yarn, especially as Wool Warehouse often have sales on Drops yarn so you can buy it even cheaper.

I'm sure I'll be very thankful for it when winter comes round, it's lovely and warm and will be perfect to snuggle up in.

Saturday, 29 June 2019

The Girl In The Corner

As I've said before, I'm a big fan of Amanda Prowse. I've read and enjoyed most of her books. The latest one I've read is The Girl in the Corner.

'Rae Valentine and Howard were childhood sweethearts. They've shared twenty-five peaceful years since they were brought together by Dolly, Howard's larger-than-life sister. But now, on the night of their wedding anniversary, Howard reveals a shocking betrayal that leaves Rae reeling.

Heartbroken, she takes Dolly on her would-be anniversary trip to Antigua and the two women drink and dance and talk like they haven't in years. But in the break from real life, Rae realises her choices have always been made for her, and suddenly she's questioning not only her fragile marriage but also her one-sided friendships. Is she really the pushover everyone else sees?

When Howard comes looking for reconciliation, Rae has a choice to make: keep the peace, as she always has, or put herself first for once and find out who she really is.'

Anyone who has felt like 'the girl in the corner' will identify with the way Rae Valentine feels at times so I think the book will touch many people, even if they haven't had the same experiences as her. I must admit that there are certain characters who I didn't like but that didn't stop me from enjoying the story. I had to reach for the tissues towards the end and if you read this book you'll understand why, though I didn't expect the ending at all, there was a bit of a twist.

I think the story was a little slow in parts but I thoroughly enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it.

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

What I'm Watching - June 2019

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

I'm really pleased to see that The Handmaid's Tale is back for its third series, I loved the first two and this series has started off just as well, picking up from where series two left off. During the first episode June is given a new posting with Commander Lawrence, the man who tried to help her escape in the previous series. I thought this was setting the scene for a revolution in Gilead but the next couple of episodes left me feeling a bit bewildered and I didn't know where this storyline was taking us but I think the end of this week's episode left us in no doubt that June is still no pushover.

I read Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty back in 2016 and really enjoyed it. The story is set around a group of kindergarten parents and a school event where the murder of one of them takes place. The book was made into a television series starring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman and Shailene Woodley and shown on Sky last year. I thought the story echoed the book well. Series 2 has just started on Sky Atlantic and takes up where the book, and Series 1 ended so it will be interesting to see what happens to each of the characters. Meryl Streep has joined the cast and is taking the part of the murder victim's mother.

Dead To Me is an American dark comedy which I watched this month on Netflix. Jen and Judy meet at a bereavement group which Jen attends after her husband is killed in a hit and run accident. It isn't long before she invites Judy to move in with her and her two sons but Judy is harbouring a secret. I really enjoyed this series and I'm pleased to hear that it's been renewed for a second season.

My knitting and reading mojo may have left me just recently but it's freed up a little time to discover a couple of new podcasts, one of which is Sew Ray Me. Rachael is a crafter from Scotland and has an Etsy shop where she sells her project bags and other crafting paraphernalia. This month she's been sharing June Vlogs, showing a little snapshop of her life each day and it's been lovely viewing. There's a little bit of everything in there, knitting, sewing, cooking, gardening, and she even takes us along to Falkland Palace where she volunteers. If you haven't yet discovered Rachael's podcast I'd recommend you giving it a go.

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

Sunday, 23 June 2019

She Passed

It seems like only yesterday that I was waving Eleanor off to go to university but it was actually three years ago and her time's now up. She's on holiday with her boyfriend in Tenerife at the moment but she's had confirmation that she's passed her degree.
She really enjoyed the course but she's certainly had to work hard. She developed exam anxiety whilst at school so she suffers panic attacks, a horrible thing to have to deal with. Whilst she was gaining Firsts and 2:1's for her coursework, lab assessments and oral presentations, and a high 2:1 for her dissertation, the results in her exams have brought her overall grade down to a 2:2. In fact, she was convinced that she'd failed at least one of her final exams so it was a huge relief to discover she'd been worrying for nothing. She came out with a high 2:2 in the end, being just 0.7 grade points off a 2:1.

If you fail an exam in some degrees, you could still obtain a pass by meeting the minimum required pass mark in other elements of the module, such as coursework, but Eleanor chose to take an accredited degree, which means that it's recognised by the Institute of Biomedical Science which some employers, including the NHS, require. As such, every part of every module has to be passed.

The course covers pathology, histopathology, clinical chemistry, microbiology, haematology, transfusion science and immunology and virology. Eleanor's found that her biggest interest is in microbiology and she hopes she can put her knowledge of this to use when she starts work.

And for anyone interested, Eleanor's dissertation was Do Polymorphisms in Toxin Genes Predict Helicobacter pylori Strain Pathogenicity? Yes, it's gone right over my head too but I know there's at least one biologist who reads my blog.

Graduation day is next month and then Eleanor will be waving another chapter of her life goodbye as she embarks on a new adventure, finding a job!

Well done, Eleanor, we're all so very proud of you. We hope your future is rosy!

Thursday, 20 June 2019

In The Making - June 2019

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

I thought I might have had at least one finish this month but I'm afraid not. I seem to have lost my knitting mojo and have only worked sporadically on the projects I've got on the go.

The Flax Light I was working on for Eleanor's friend's baby was pulled out and started again. I'd changed from magic loop to double pointed needles and as I looked at my knitting, I could see where the tension had changed. I'm sure a soak in some warm water would have relaxed the stitches but I decided not to take the chance. Instead of taking it back to where I could see the difference I just pulled the whole lot off the needles and started again. I then made a silly mistake when increasing so ripped it all out again. I'm just not enjoying working on this project at all. I think my experience when knitting the Flax Light the first time round has really put me off. I've put it all away and I'm not sure whether I will restart the project at a later date or not as I'm just not in the frame of mind at the moment to be doing anything which I'm not enjoying. I'm sure Eleanor's friend will understand.

After treating myself to A Rainbow Of Colours I picked my Scrappy Blanket up again. I haven't added that many squares to it but it's lovely to see it slowly growing. It's such a relaxing project to work on and it's been perfect to just knit a square here and there as the mood's taken me.

Not much to show for a month's knitting, I'm hoping I'll have made more progress next time.

Monday, 17 June 2019

Tissington Well Dressing

After my post a few weeks ago about A Day Out In Derbyshire, I had a lovely message from an Instagram friend who reads my blog telling me about Tissington, which isn't very far away from an area we visited. When we returned later on in the month to look at A Little More Family History, we decided to also call in at Tissington as it coincided with their well dressing festival.

Tissington is a village in the Derbyshire Dales. At the heart of the village is Tissington Hall, a Jacobean building and seat of the FitzHerberts.

It's a pretty village with a population of around 150.

There's some beautiful cottages in the village.

It was quite late when we arrived, after 5pm, but it was the best part of the day, the sun had decided to shine, and there were plenty of people about with the same idea as us, they'd come to see the well dressings.

Tissington has six wells which are decorated for a week each year with pictures formed by pressing flower petals into a clay substrate. There are different theories as to why the tradition exists, one theory is that it dates back to 1348, just after the black death when all in the village escaped, even though those from villages around them were ravaged by the disease. They put their good fortune down to the purity of the water in the wells and began to decorate them in thanksgiving.

I'm sure you'll agree that the pictures are stunning. When you consider how many individual flower petals are used to make each one, it must take a long time and a lot of effort, but definitely worth it for the end results.

There were a couple of refreshment tents on the verges but, unfortunately, they were closed. We'd had a long day and could have done with a cup of tea and a slice of cake before our drive home and there were still plenty of people milling around the village, certainly enough to make keeping the refreshments flowing worthwhile, especially when all the money raised is going towards village projects and charities.

As we walked back through the village to get back to the car we were aware of a man in front of us picking up litter. He turned into a gate which led into the Hall and as we passed a different gate there were a number of dogs, including a cute Pekingese, some Dachshunds and a Labrador, barking at Archie as we passed. The man came and ushered the dogs back inside and after watching Countryfile on catchup from the 26th of May after we'd visited Tissington, I now realise this was Sir Richard FitzHerbert, 9th Baronet. He's certainly a hands on landowner.

We really enjoyed our visit to Tissington and the area is absolutely beautiful. Another place I'm sure we'll return to in the future as we seem to have missed out on a lot of the village visiting after hours, as it were. If you can still find Countryfile on catch up from the 26th of May I'd definitely recommend it, very interesting, and if you're in the area, do visit, though you'll have to wait to see the well dressings until next year now.

Friday, 14 June 2019

Bakewell Pudding V Bakewell Tart

I mentioned Bakewell Pudding in my More Of Derbyshire And A Bit Of Family History post and I had a comment asking what was the difference between Bakewell Pudding and Bakewell Tart, so when we returned to Derbyshire a couple of weeks ago, we stopped off in Bakewell and had another trip to The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop.

Here I purchased a pudding and a tart so that I'm able to show you that they're two very different things.

Taken from their website: 'The traditional Bakewell Pudding comprises a buttery puff pastry case with a layer of indulgent seedless strawberry jam. It is then topped with a mixture of ground almonds, whole egg and sugar and is cooked to perfection to make a soft set, silky custard-like filling on a delicious crunchy base.

The original iced Bakewell Tart comprises a shortcrust pastry case filled with lashings of luxury seedless strawberry jam. It is finished off with a pale, fluffy sponge filling made with whole egg, almonds and sugar. The tarts come both fondant iced with a cherry or topped with flaked almond.'

Here you can see them cut in half to reveal the inside.

So my verdict. Well, this is the first time I've tried a Bakewell Pudding, I've just never liked the look of them and I should have stuck to my instincts because neither Mick nor myself liked it. I did like the Bakewell Tart but I'm not very fond of icing so I should have gone with the flaked almond topping, I think that would have gone down a treat.

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

A Little More Family History

It was in my More Of Derbyshire And A Bit Of Family History post that I mentioned we'd visited the village of Stanton and found my great grandparents' final resting place. Seeing the village where many generations of my ancestors once lived reignited the urge to find out more, so a couple of weeks ago, as Mick had a final day to take off work from last year's holiday entitlement, we decided to head back to the area and see if we could find out more.

This time we headed to the church in Ellastone where many family occasions such as christenings, weddings and funerals took place. The church in Stanton was only built in 1847 so the villagers worshipped in nearby Ellastone.

The church in Ellastone is much bigger than the one in Stanton and I was hoping that we may find some graves belonging to my family but the churchyard was very overgrown and some of the gravestones so old that even when you could wade through the long grass, the writing on them had long since disappeared, which was quite disappointing.

Ellastone is a rural village on the Staffordshire side of the River Dove. It's set in beautiful countryside.

We also went back to Stanton where we found my mum's Auntie Betty. She was married to Harry, who we found last time we visited.

I managed to find a few leads but nothing concrete at the moment so more research is needed. It's all good fun though and wouldn't be half as satisfying if it were all straight forward.

Saturday, 8 June 2019

A Rainbow Of Colours

Last week, I treated myself to a  Dinky Box from Lay Family Yarn.

These boxes contain five 10g mini skeins in an assortment of colours and are a great way to try out a dyer who you haven't bought from before or, as in my case, pick up a smaller quantity of yarn in different colours in order to add to my scrappy blanket.

I can't often tell how a colour will look knitted up when I see it in a skein but it's exciting to start knitting and seeing the pattern and colours emerge.

One thing which puts me off ordering mini skeins from many dyers is the postage cost. There's only 50g of yarn in small mini skein bundles yet they're often bunched together in a ball band, making them too big to send by letter post so the postage ends up costing the same as a parcel.

Just look how these mini skeins were sent. Genius! There was a large letter stamp on the box and they were sent as a letter. What's more, the packaging is recyclable, no plastic bags here.

A big thumbs up to Lay Family Yarn. It's little things like these which make for a great shopping experience. I'll definitely be back for more.

Wednesday, 5 June 2019


Mention Clapham and most people will think you mean the district in south-west London, however, there's another Clapham which nestles below Ingleborough on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park and we visited it whilst having A Day In The Dales.

We've never been to Clapham before but we struck lucky on this day out in the Dales, we literally stumbled across it and what a gem, such a beautiful little village.

We parked up by the side of Clapham Beck, though there's a good sized car park in the village too. The village seems to be geared up for walkers and people taking part in local outdoor activities such as the 3 Peaks, caving including Ingleborough Cave and Gaping Gill, cycling and sight seeing.

Mick always heads for water so as we spotted the beck as we got out of the car, it was inevitable that the first thing we'd do was take a walk along the path by the side of it. Not really a path, more of a track which has been made by many feet taking this route before us.

Archie loves water too and he was very happy to have a little time free from his lead after the car journey.

We walked along the lanes in the village too, there's some beautiful cottages and stunning houses. We saw this gorgeous wisteria on the side of one of the cottages.

Looking across the beck through the greenery, we could just make out a church so we decided to take a closer look.

The church was founded in Norman times and was dedicated to St Michael, it's mentioned in records dating back to 1160, however, the village and church were burned down during a Scottish raid following the Battle of Bannockburn in the early 14th century. The church tower was probably erected following this incident but the rest of the church dates from the 19th century and is now dedicated to St James.

The local village store is owned and run by the community and has won awards. There's also an Aladdin's cave of a shop in the village selling all manner of things vintage. Stepping over the threshold was like going back in time and I found more than a few things from my childhood in there. It was jam packed with its wares even spreading out onto its forecourt.

I was thrilled to find a fabulous yarn shop in the village. Beckside Yarns is situated by the side of the beck and is stocked full of fabulous yarn over two floors. I thought it surprising that such a small village would have such a wonderful shop, after all, I know of many large cities that can't boast of such a well stocked yarn shop.

I'm sure you can see just why we were so taken with Clapham and it's definitely somewhere we'll return.