Sunday 31 December 2017

Here's To 2018

Here we are at the end of another year with illness in the family. This time it's poor Archie. We had to take him to see the out of hours emergency vet on Thursday night as he started being violently sick, so much so that the sick turned into blood. He was kept in overnight on a drip, blood tests were done which didn't show anything untoward, and drugs were given to stop the sickness, however, then the runs started. We collected him late on Friday afternoon and we had a check up appointment with our own vet yesterday morning. He's still got the runs, but the vet said it could take quite a few days for that to stop, but he's otherwise happy in himself, he's got a good appetite, though we're only giving him chicken and white fish, and he's lively enough.

Before all this started, he'd licked out a plastic pot which had contained lemon mousse. There was no quantity of the food in the pot, just a trace around the sides. The vet said that shouldn't have caused such symptoms but perhaps he's had an allergic reaction to it for some reason. She said that these things sometimes happen and they never fully realise the cause.

So far, the visits to the vet have cost us in excess of £600, that's the most expensive lemon mousse I've ever bought. I don't care what it costs us though, I just want Archie to be okay. We'll definitely be more vigilant where human food is concerned in future though, it's scary how an animal can react to something, even in such a minute quantity.

I'd just like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who's visited my blog this year and for all the wonderful, encouraging comments you continue to leave, every single one is very much appreciated.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year.

I hope 2018 brings you health, happiness and anything else you might wish for.

Wednesday 27 December 2017

#stitchingsanta Reveal 2017

This is the third time that I've taken part in the #stitchingsanta swap which Sheila hosts on her Sewchet blog. It's a swap for crafters, a choice is made between a knitting/crochet swap or a sewing swap, so I opted for the first.

It's done as a secret swap instead of it being a straight swap between two people, so I knew who I was sending my swap parcel to but I didn't know who would be sending a parcel to me. It turned out that my parcel came from Lynn at Tialys and I received some wonderful gifts.

Two skeins of Rowan Summer Tweed in a lovely lilac colourway, a beautifully knitted neck warmer which will keep me warm and cosy whilst walking Archie, a cute drawstring bag which contained some lovely charms and stitch markers, buttons, a purse clasp, and an enamel pin badge, and two glass coasters covered in a beautiful crochet design. All these gifts have been photographed on some Christmas fabric which they were wrapped inside. Thank you, Lynn, I'm really pleased with everything.

The person who I sent my parcel to was Hannah from Quirky Hannah blog. One of the great things about any swap is making new blog friends and as I hadn't come across Hannah's lovely blog before, I had a good time reading through her previous posts and finding out what she likes.

This is what I included in my swap parcel.

I wasn't sure whether Hannah knits socks or not but I figured the yarn could be used for things other than socks if she's not keen. There's a skein of Knitglobal Sock Yarn and two 50g balls of Drops Fabel, enough to make two pairs of socks if Hannah so wishes. There's two small kits which came from magazines, one to make a crochet flower garland and one to make a fairy tree topper, two boxes of chocolate novelties, some sachets of flavoured tea and in the bottom corner you might just be able to make out some 'made with love' charms to sew on to finished items.

You may remember the Antarktis Shawl which I finished back in May. This was the first thing I completed for Christmas this year, well in advance, and it was knit with this swap in mind.

Last year, I sent my #stitchingsanta parcel to Kim at The Material Lady blog. I included a book, The Great Christmas Knit Off by Alexandra Brown, in the parcel and after reading it, Kim returned the book to me so that I could read it myself, which I've done. I thought that Hannah might enjoy reading this book too so I popped it in the parcel.

I've thoroughly enjoyed taking part in this Christmas swap again this year so thank you, Sheila, for organising it and thank you to Lynn and Hannah for being great swap partners.

Sunday 24 December 2017

Merry Christmas 2017

Daniel and his girlfriend arrived home, safely, late on Friday night, I hadn't seen them since March so it's lovely having all the family back together again. I will be cherishing the time I'll be spending with family over the festive season.

Wishing you all and your families a very merry Christmas, and I hope it brings everything you wish for.

Wednesday 20 December 2017

Aunt Petunia's Christmas Socks

Once I'd finished my Christmas knitting and the Dragon Scales Shawl, which I'd had on my needles for a number of months, I decided I needed some socks that I could wear myself on Christmas Day. I've knitted socks for all my family, which they'll find underneath the Christmas tree on Christmas morning, but I fancied knitting a festive pair for myself.

I'd bought some West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply from Nottingham Yarn Expo in the Candy Cane and Cayenne Pepper colourways and I thought this would fit the bill nicely.

I've been wanting to knit Petunia Dursley's Double Eyelet Socks by Erica Lueder again since I used this pattern for the socks I've knit for Eleanor for Christmas, so this was my opportunity.

It's a lovely pattern, an eight row repeat which consists of six rows of stocking stitch and two rows of pattern, so nothing complicated there, but it's such a pretty design.

I'm pleased with how these socks have turned out and I think my feet will look very festive on Christmas Day.

I seem to have done nothing but knit socks just lately, and I know many of my posts have been about each pair of Christmas socks as I've finished them, so it's time for something different now. When I finished these socks I actually had nothing at all on my needles so I've cast on a cowl, a nice easy knit for TV knitting, but now that the rest of my needles are empty it's a good excuse to cast on some new things. It'll be fun choosing which projects to start.

Saturday 16 December 2017

Raindrops On Roses - December

These are a few of my favourite things.

It's a Wonderful Life. My favourite Christmas film, I wouldn't like to say how many times I've seen this now but I never grow tired of it. 'Every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings'.This is the only Christmas film I've watched so far this year but other favourites are National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and Love Actually.

Hyacinths. I know that some people can't tolerate the heady scent of hyacinths but I love it. I think these are a pink variety and I'm looking forward to seeing them bloom. I don't really go in for houseplants but I have bought myself a Christmas cactus this year, it's got lots of buds so I'm hoping that it blooms in time for Christmas.

Family. Eleanor arrived home from university on the 9th of December and we're expecting Daniel and his girlfriend on Friday. They were supposed to be staying into the new year but it seems that Daniel's wanted back into the office in the period between Christmas and the new year so he'll have to return to Surrey after Boxing Day. It's a bit of a disappointment but at least we'll all be together for Christmas.

This Is Us. Eleanor watched this series when it was first on TV but I didn't bother. It was only later that I heard other people saying how good it was and by this time it was only being shown on Amazon. I was offered a free trial on Amazon Prime and wasn't going to take it up but I accidentally clicked on the icon to start the trial so I thought I might as well take advantage and start watching series 1. I've nearly finished it now and I have to say that I've loved it. Series 2 is also available so Eleanor and I are going to try and get it watched before she goes back to university.

Christmas music. I do love hearing all the traditional Christmas songs, but not until December. They were being played on the radio weeks before the big day, in fact there's stations which play nothing other than Christmas music, but I refuse to listen to anything Christmassy until December, by then I'm in full Christmas mode and I don't care how many times I hear any particular song. One of my favourites is Fairytale of New York by The Pogues & Kirsty McColl, another is Happy Xmas (War is Over) by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, but Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a blast of Merry Xmas Everybody by Slade.

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

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Hermione's Shortie Socks

I've just realised that I never showed you the second pair of socks I've knit for Daniel's girlfriend for Christmas. In fact, I must have popped them straight in the gift drawer as I had no photos of them and hadn't even set up a project page on Ravelry for them.

They were knit from the yarn I had left over from Eleanor's Sugar Frost Socks and I used an old favourite when it came to patterns, Hermione's Everyday Socks by Erica Lueder.

It's good to be able to get a couple of pairs of socks out of one ball of yarn, knitting shortie socks enables me to do this.

All the socks I've knit for Christmas are waiting to be wrapped up, I've got some lovely gift boxes for them. I hope everyone likes what they open on Christmas morning.

Friday 8 December 2017

The Great Christmas Knit Off

I included The Great Christmas Knit Off by Alexandra Brown in my #stitchingsanta parcel last year which I sent to Kim at The Material Lady blog. Kim emailed me to let me know that she'd read and enjoyed it over the Christmas period and asked if I'd like her to post it back to me so that I could read it too. How kind and thoughtful of her. Unfortunately, I didn't get round to reading it last year as my book time was cut short as I was ill myself leading up to the festive period and then my dad ended up in hospital so I kept it to read in the run up to Christmas this year.

I really enjoyed this book, there wasn't much substance to it, you certainly didn't have to think much, but it was just what I needed to come home to when my mum was in hospital. I don't think my brain would have coped with much more. It's a touching, feel good story with lovely characters which is perfect for reading during the festive season and having knitting as a theme appealed to me too.

Incidentally, my mum is now home from hospital and much better in herself, though a district nurse is visiting daily as she developed a DVT in her leg whilst in hospital so she'll need a daily injection for at least the next twelve weeks.

It would be a shame to just send this book off to the charity shop so I've decided to add it to this years #stitchingsanta parcel. I hope my partner enjoys it as much as Kim and I have.

Monday 4 December 2017

Dragon Scales Shawl

Now that I've finished all my Christmas knitting, I can concentrate on other things. First of all, I thought I'd better get the Dragon Scales Shawl, which I started back in July, finished.

The pattern is the Oaklet Shawl by Megan Goodacre, a free pattern on Ravelry, and it's a simple design with a little extra decoration for the border.

I used yarn which I'd purchased at Spring Into Wool earlier this year, it's the Dragon Scales colourway by Third Vault Yarns in their Companion 4ply base, a 100% Superwash Merino. These photos don't do the yarn justice, it's a beautiful mix of greens, greys, blues and purples and it's iridescent so the colours seem to change when you look at it from different angles. The shawl's lovely and drapey.

This photo shows the size a little better, it's not a huge shawl being knit from just one skein but it blocks out to a decent size to wrap well around the neck. Just what I need now that the weather's turned much cooler.

Next project - Christmas socks for me. Well, it's only fair. I've knit socks for the rest of my family which they'll open up on Christmas Day so I'd like a pair to wear myself. I just hope I get them finished in time.

Thursday 30 November 2017

Yorkshire Dales Socks

Phew, I'm finally done with the Christmas knitting, this is the very last pair of socks off the needles. These socks are for Mick.

Yet again, I've used the Vanilla Latte Socks pattern by Virginia Rose-Jeanes, a free pattern on Ravelry. I think this is a super pattern when knitting socks as a gift as the rib pattern has a bit extra give in it than a plain stocking stitch sock does, so it tends to grip the foot a little better and doesn't have to be such a precise fit, just what you want when you're not trying the socks on feet as you knit them.

The socks are knit in Knitglobal Sock Yarn in the Dale colourway which I purchased at Yarndale this year. Yarndale is held in Skipton right on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, so I've decided to call these Yorkshire Dales Socks. Besides, the Yorkshire Dales is my very favourite place.

I've enjoyed my Christmas knitting this year. I started early enough so that it didn't become a chore and I've managed to finish in good time. Now for some selfish knitting for me!

Sunday 26 November 2017

Raindrops On Roses - November

These are a few of my favourite things.

Candles. As most of you know, I'm not a fan of the winter months, the cold days and the dark nights, but I do get the opportunity at this time of year to use my candles more. I'm a big fan of Yankee Candles and always have lots of different scents ready to burn. This one is Tropical Fruit but the Citrus Water I've also got at the moment is very nice too.

Sunny days and blue skies. I appreciate the sunshine more at this time of year when every drop is precious, after all, who knows when the weather will change for the worse. I find that a sunny day lifts my mood and makes me altogether happier, I just can't stand the endless rain and gloomy days of winter. I try to get out when the sun shines and make the most of these last drops of good weather.

Happy texts. As I've mentioned before on my blog, Eleanor has found her university work very challenging since starting back for her second year. My most favourite thing this month was receiving a text from her telling me that the first piece of work she'd handed in, which she was sure she was going to fail, had received a first. The following few days I received another two texts, one telling me that she'd got a 2:1 for another piece of work and then another first for a presentation she'd done. She's obviously doing much better than she thought, it seems the hard work is paying off. I'm hoping that these results will give her a little more confidence in her abilities.

Hand knit socks. I show lots of socks that I've knit on my blog, but when it gets to this time of year, I'm so thankful for them. I've always worn socks during the winter months but I rarely wear any other than hand knit nowadays. They're so warm and cosy and I find that if my feet are warm, then the rest of me is warm too.

Toasted teacakes. My mum's back in hospital again, she was taken in ten days ago and all the visiting is playing havoc with our evening meal time. We get off to the hospital as soon as Mick gets in from work and we're usually there until visiting time ends at 8pm. By the time we get home and get sorted, it's going on for 9pm and I'm past eating a meal at that time. A toasted teacake does just nicely though, slathered in butter, it's the perfect comfort food.

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

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Dobby Socks

It was as soon as Daniel started university that he started wearing odd socks. For some reason it really annoys me, I mean, how long does it take to sort a few socks into pairs? On the odd occasion that he came home for a weekend, he would bring his washing with him and I'd, once again, sort all the socks into pairs, but the next time I saw him he'd be back to wearing odd socks.

When it came to knitting his Christmas socks I decided that I might as well just play along with him so I've knit one sock with blue heels and toes and one with green heels and toes. Perhaps he'll wear them more than he would if they match.

I've used Virginia Rose-Jeanes' Vanilla Latte Socks pattern which is free on Ravelry. The main body of the sock is knit in West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 ply in the Poppy Seed colourway and the heels and toes have been knit in Cascade Heritage Sock Yarn in the Sage and China Blue colourways. Dobby, the house elf in the Harry Potter books likes wearing odd socks too so I've decided to call these Daniel's Dobby Socks.

They look a bit odd in the photo above as they're bigger than the sock blockers they're shown on, but they should fit Daniel's feet perfectly.

I'm now very close to finishing my Christmas knitting.

Saturday 18 November 2017

Stitch Or Ditch?

It's quite some time now since I worked on my Spice Of Life crochet blanket which I started when the Spice Of Life Crochet Along was running back in 2015. I put Finish the Spice Of Life crochet blanket at number 44 on my 50 Before 50 list to encourage me to start work on it again, but having got the project out of hibernation and taking a look at it again, I'm not sure whether to carry on with it or pull the whole lot out. Stitch or ditch?

I loved this blanket when I first started it, however, as it's made up of lots of different stitches, it's quite easy for the tension to vary and this is exactly what happened with my blanket. I ended up having to Start All Over Again, and I think it was at this point where I fell out of love with the project. Having wasted quite a bit of yarn in my first attempt, I found I had to buy extra as I was running short of some colours, so there's still quite a few full balls of yarn left waiting to be added in. Stitch or ditch?

It's knit in Rico Baby Classic DK, a 50% acrylic 50% polyamide mix which is extremely soft and also easy to care for, so it would be a shame to waste the yarn, but what to do, stitch or ditch?

After my first disastrous attempt with the blanket, I learnt my lesson and decided not to sew in the ends as I went along, it made it impossible to pull out and so much yarn ended up being wasted. If I do finish the blanket I'll have all these ends to sew in when I'm finished, however, if I decide not to carry on, it will make it easier to unravel. Stitch or ditch?

When laid out, it does look pretty with all the different stitches, and it's really soft and snuggly too. I'm not sure if this is enough to make me want to carry on with it though. Stitch or ditch?

I don't think there's very much left to crochet in order to complete the blanket. On the other hand, I could pull the whole lot out and start a different blanket project with the same yarn. What would you do, stitch or ditch?

Tuesday 14 November 2017

Nottingham Yarn Expo 2017

Another new yarn festival has popped up, this time in Nottingham. As it was being held at Nottingham Trent University, where Eleanor's studying, I'd already decided that I'd like to attend it so imagine how thrilled I was to win tickets on Katie's Inside Number 23 podcast. Thank you, Katie, not having to pay for entry meant I had a little extra to spend on yarn at the show.

To say that this is the first time that this yarn festival has been held, it attracted lots of wonderful yarn dyers, there were lots of stalls and plenty of choice. The booths were spread out over two floors and in separate areas so there wasn't any jostling and it made for a happy, relaxed atmosphere whilst yarn shopping.

I didn't take any photos of the actual show but I'm sure you'd like to see what came home with me.

I've been after this year's West Yorkshire Spinners Christmas colourway, Candy Cane and I picked up a ball of the Cayenne Pepper colourway to go with it, this will make coordinating heels and toes in the socks I'm planning to knit. I couldn't resist the Van Gogh Starry Night colourway in Joanna Wood Paint yarn. I haven't heard of this dyer before but the yarn really does resemble Van Gogh's painting and I'm looking forward to seeing how it knits up. I'd already decided that some Norah George yarn would be coming to live with me before I'd even got to the show. I haven't used this yarn before but everyone raves about it and I can see why, I actually wish I'd picked up an extra skein now but I do love The Room of Requirement colourway which I chose, a Harry Potter reference. I've heard Beehive Yarns mentioned here and there just lately so I was looking forward to perusing their stand and I chose a skein of the Navajo Trail colourway to buy. Unfortunately, I didn't read the label carefully enough and have now discovered that this is on a 100% merino singles base. This won't be suitable to knit socks with but I'm sure I'll find something else to knit with it, and it will be interesting to use as I've never knit with a single ply yarn before.

I also picked up these cute stitch markers from Thimble and Thread Make. I like the umbrella but it was Big Ben which made me reach for my purse.

Of course, I couldn't go to Nottingham without visiting Eleanor. I think she was pleased to see us as she's been struggling a little with her course since starting her second year at uni. This is where the hard work starts and it's taking its toll. She's a hard worker though so I know she'll be putting plenty of time in so I just hope that it pays off.

Squishing yarn and hugs from my daughter made for a lovely day out and as Visit a craft show is number 47 on my 50 Before 50 list, it's another one to cross off.

Friday 10 November 2017

A Gift To Me From Me

I've been wanting to have a go at sewing on a sewing machine for a long time now. I've kept saying that I'll have a go on Eleanor's machine but I still haven't got round to it so when I saw an offer on a basic model I decided to grab the bull by the horns and treat myself. Perhaps having my own sewing machine will spur me on.

It doesn't do anything fancy but I think it will be good enough for me to learn on and I won't be nervous about breaking Eleanor's machine.

What with all the worry over my mum over the past couple of weeks, it's still sitting in its box but I'm raring to have a go with it. I had a few lessons at school where I used a sewing machine but I can't remember a thing from those lessons now, I don't even know how to thread the thing so I'm going to be starting from scratch, but there's plenty of tutorials online, I've got a few books, and Eleanor will be able to help me once she's home from university.

I've got a very healthy yarn stash but nothing in the way of fabric so I think I'm going to have to make a few purchases.

Treat myself to something I really want is on my 50 Before 50 list so this little gift to myself fits the bill and I can cross off number 42.

Thank you for all your good wishes for my mum. Unfortunately, she ended up having to spend her 83rd birthday on Tuesday in hospital but she was allowed home on Wednesday. She's still very poorly having lots of ailments now, and she'll never be well again but I'm sure she'll be happier and comfier in her own home where we can spoil her and give her lots of love.

Monday 6 November 2017

See You In September

See You In September by Charity Norman is one of those books which I couldn't put down.

When Cassie waved goodbye to her parents at the airport telling them 'See you in September', little did they know it would be years before they'd see her again.

She was on her way to New Zealand with her boyfriend, but after the pair split up, Cassie hitchhikes a lift with strangers who persuade her to stay with them amongst a farming community. It isn't long before Cassie is swept up in the atmosphere of the place as well as the charisma of their leader, Justin.

Cut off from her family, her frantic parents fight to bring her home before Justin's prophesied Last Day arrives.

I'd thoroughly recommend this book, I enjoyed it from start to finish, a real page turner.

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.

Thursday 2 November 2017

Tequila Sunrise Socks

Yes, another pair of socks. I might just manage to get a pair of hand knitted socks on all my family's feet this Christmas. This latest pair are for my mum and as they're knit in West Yorkshire Spinner's Signature 4 ply in the Tequila Sunrise colourway, I've unimaginatively named them Tequila Sunrise Socks.

Once again, I used the Vanilla Latte Socks pattern by Virginia Rose-Jeanes which is free on Ravelry. I knit a 1x1 rib and put in an Eye of Partridge heel. I didn't think the stripes were matching up, but they're almost perfect.

I'm very happy with them.

My poor mum is back in hospital again, she was rushed in by ambulance on Tuesday morning as she was having trouble breathing and her oxygen levels were very low. I'm not sure how long she'll be in for so it's back to hospital visiting for us, so please bear with me if I'm not around as much as usual.

Tuesday 31 October 2017

Spooky Goings On

There's something spooky happening at Lotherton Hall.

The Scarecrow Trail is back with clues around the house and estate leading to the super spooky scarecrows.

We didn't follow any clues and we didn't go in the house but we still managed to see lots of scary scarecrows.

I think this diver near the pond must have been here for some time.

A howling black dog was stalking the pet cemetery.

There must have been some apples left in the orchard after the recent Apple Day as this scarecrow has filled his trug.

There were skeletons in the woods.

There were giant spiders on the house.

The gardeners had turned into scarecrows.

One gardener was headless.

There were ghouls in the trees.

Even some of the visitors had turned into scarecrows.

A sign on the stable.

That doesn't look like a horse to me.

Skeletons trying to get into the house.

I'm not sure what these three were up to but there was a lot of spooky sounds coming from the temple.

Lotherton's Spooky Scarecrow Trail runs until the 5th of November.

Happy Halloween.