Friday 30 November 2018

Strictly Cha Cha Chevron Socks

I decided that I'd join in with the Strictly Sockalong this year which Ali hosts on her Little Drops of Wonderful podcast. You can use whatever pattern you choose but Sandra from the Cherry Heart podcast designed a pattern especially for this sockalong so I thought I'd go with that. It's called Cha Cha Chevron and is available on Ravelry.

The socks were to be started during the first official Strictly Come Dancing show on the 22nd of October and knit whilst watching episodes of the show on a Saturday and Sunday or It Takes Two with Zoe Ball on weeknights. Ali does encourage rule bending though, and there's a lot of it going on this year, though I must say that I haven't bent the rules at all, I've only knit these socks whilst watching Strictly or It Takes Two.

I've used Elm Tree Yarns in the Blue Fairy colourway. It's on a stellina base, though you can't really see it in these photos, so there's lots of sparkle, essential for anything to do with Strictly. It's a blue and lemon colourway, though there's the odd pink blush here and there too, so pretty.

I've followed the pattern exactly, though I did have my reservations. The cuff consists of more rows than I usually knit and the leg seemed to go on forever, I very nearly decided to miss one pattern repeat but I'm so glad I didn't as they've turned out to be a fantastic fit.

It's been a fun knitalong to be involved with and I've now got another beautiful pair of socks to add to my sock drawer.

Speaking of Strictly Come Dancing, I'm loving it this year. I wasn't sure I was going to as I didn't know who half of the contestants were when they were announced but I think they've got a really good mix and some great dancers. We're coming to the end of the series now and I'd like to see either Stacey or Joe win. They haven't got any dance experience at all, unlike others, and you can really see the improvement in both of them from week to week. How about you, do you watch Strictly and do you have a favourite?

Tuesday 27 November 2018

Treat Night

It was lovely having Eleanor home for the weekend, we got to spend plenty of time together and had lots of fun. She went to see her friend's new baby on Saturday and then afterwards, we went out for something to eat.

I've been dieting over the last few weeks and have managed to lose 1 stone 5 pounds so far so I was due a little treat. I've been really careful about what I've been eating, though I have been allowing myself treats, you can't go through life sticking rigidly to a diet, but I decided that I'd throw caution to the wind on Saturday and order exactly what I wanted.

I had exchanged some Tesco Clubcard vouchers for Bella Italia vouchers so we ate there. I chose the Cotto Pizza, smoked ham, mushroom and mozzarella.

Mick and Eleanor always choose a made to order pizza at Bella Italia with ragu and pepperoni. It's not on the menu but they're always happy to meet their requirements. Mick had a classic base but Eleanor chose the ripiena crust which is stuffed with mozzarella and garlic butter.

It's very rare that we have dessert when we eat out but we did on this occasion. Mick and I shared a chocolate orange brownie which was warm, topped with a rich chocolate ganache and served with vanilla gelato. I'm glad we'd decided to share it as it was really rich and neither of us would have managed a full portion.

Eleanor wanted the Cookie Dough Al Forno but it was off the menu, so instead she chose the Ultimate Framenti for one. Strips of warm crispy fried dough, dusted in icing sugar, with strawberries, marshmallows and brownie pieces, served with rich chocolate sauce. What a huge portion, she didn't manage to get through it all.

We all enjoyed our meal out. Eleanor went back to university yesterday morning ready for lectures in the afternoon and I'm now firmly back on the diet.

Saturday 24 November 2018

A New Arrival

Eleanor's friend, Lucinda, had her baby last weekend, a little girl who was born on her mummy's birthday, what a perfect gift.

Eleanor came home from university yesterday for the weekend so that she can go and visit Lucinda and the baby, she's got a few gifts to take with her.

I knit these cute little socks for the new arrival, I'm not sure how long they'll fit her though as babies tend to grow so fast. I used the Knox pattern by Galt House of Yarn. They're knit in one piece, exactly like a larger pair of socks are knit with a heel flap and gusset, just fewer stitches. They only took 13 grams of yarn, they're perfect for using up oddments so I used some of the Fondant Fibre yarn in the Amazon Orchid colourway which I had leftover from my V For Valentine socks.

Lucinda sent Eleanor a photo of the baby all dressed up and waiting to leave hospital. She was wearing the All-In-One Baby Top and hat which I knit for her, it's nice to know that the little knitted gifts that I've made are being used.

Wednesday 21 November 2018

A Sight For Sore Eyes

I like nothing better than seeing rows of hand knitted socks blowing dry on the washing line. Only second to that are rows of hand knitted socks drying on the clothes horse.

There's no way that any washing will dry outdoors today, it's damp and dull and very little wind so the clothes horse will have to do. It rained all day yesterday, there was no let up, and the temperature has dropped, I fear we've seen the last of any good weather.

A week's worth of socks. Don't they all look pretty?

Sunday 18 November 2018

Keeping Warm

With a cold snap set to drop in I decided to start knitting myself a cardigan. I bought the yarn for this back in May of 2017 when Wool Warehouse had a 35% discount on their range of Drops yarn, it was such a good price that I didn't want to miss out. I thought it would make a nice cardigan but it's taken me all this time to get it started.

It doesn't look much here as it's bunched up on the needles but it's the Shapely Boyfriend, a free pattern on Ravelry by Stefanie Japel. It's knit from the top down all in one piece, so no sewing up at the end, a big bonus for me. The recommended needle size is 5mm but I wasn't getting gauge with this, even when I went up to a 5.5mm needle it was still knitting up small, but I didn't like the fabric created with a 6mm needle so I decided to stick with a 5.5mm needle and knit a larger size. I like my cardigans to be a bit on the big size so that I can layer up so I was knitting a size large but I've now decided to go with the extra large size and just hope that it fits, time will tell. I've just got a couple of rows left to do before I split for the sleeves.

The yarn is Drops Nepal, an aran weight yarn so it's knitting up quickly, and I chose the Camel Mix colourway, I thought it would go with lots of things.

Yesterday, I picked up a ball of West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 ply to knit a pair of socks for my dad for Christmas, so the cardigan will be put to one side for a while whilst I work on these. I really wanted the Owl colourway which is a mix of shades of brown as my dad tends to wear lots of brown but the shop didn't have that so I ended up going with the Blue Tit colourway which is a mix of blues and yellow, I just hope he likes it.

My dad is the most appreciative of everyone I knit socks for, he always had hand knit socks as a child and I think he prefers them to other socks, especially in winter as they keep his feet nice and toasty warm. This is the only hand made gift I'm making for Christmas this year.

Thursday 15 November 2018

Christmas Gifts For Men

As it's now just over five weeks to Christmas my thoughts have turned to present shopping. I don't buy for many people these days, I've cut right down, buying for immediate family, my parents, and Mick's auntie and uncle. I think you could go on and on buying for extended family and friends but it has to stop somewhere so we made the decision a few years ago that we would streamline the number of people we buy for.

I could go on and on buying things for Eleanor, she's so easy to buy for and always so appreciative of whatever she unwraps on Christmas morning. It's not so easy buying for Mick and Daniel, I find shopping for men really hard. This year, Daniel will be in Colorado for Christmas, he's going with his girlfriend, Jasmine, to spend three weeks over the festive season with her family. I'm sure it will feel strange not having him at home, it's the first time our family won't be together at Christmas, but I'm sure we'll catch up on Skype and he'll have an amazing time. We're hoping to see them before they go so I've bought them a few bits and pieces to unwrap, they won't be able to take them with them so they'll open them when we see them, and then we'll give them money so that they can open that on the day.

Mick's my biggest problem, I like to get him a main present and some little ones but I really run out of ideas for him. I've had a couple of great gift ideas in the past which he didn't know he was getting but was really pleased with. In 2012 I bought him a Tassimo Machine. There's only Mick who drinks coffee in our family, apart from Jasmine when she's here, but this coffee maker gets used every single day. We don't buy instant coffee any more as Mick says it doesn't taste anywhere near as good as what the Tassimo makes.

In 2013 I bought Mick a Kindle Fire. I had an idea that he could read books on it so I was going to buy him the eReader version but I asked Daniel's advice and he said he'd go for the tablet. I'm so glad I listened to him as not one book has been read on it, but Mick uses it for internet browsing just about every day.

I bought Mick a Fitbit in 2015, he didn't even know what one was at the time, but he uses it continually. Actually, the one I bought him broke so I bought him another one, at his request, last year.

There's usually cricket paraphernalia which Mick wants for Christmas so I might buy him gloves one year, or pads another year, but it ends up being his main gift when he requires a new bat, such is the cost of them. He last got a new bat in 2016, we took a trip to St Austell while we were on holiday in Cornwall so that we could visit The Cornish Cricket Company. Here he chose a piece of wood and his bat was hand made from it. It was a special present for his 50th birthday.

Goodness knows what I'll be buying him this year. Do you struggle knowing what to buy the men in your life?

Monday 12 November 2018

Nottingham Yarn Expo 2018

I visited the very first Nottingham Yarn Expo last year and was so impressed at the way it was set out and the number of exhibitors, over 100, that I decided there and then that I would return again this year. Unfortunately, my trip there yesterday was quite disappointing. Instead of the market place being held on two days over the weekend as it was last year, it was only open on the Sunday as Saturday was reserved for workshops. That was fine, I wouldn't have visited both days anyway and I was free to attend on the Sunday. What did disappoint me was the fact that several of the advertised exhibitors were not there. Some may have dropped out several weeks ago, I admit that it's a while since I looked at the list online, but tickets were on sale at the time these dyers were still being advertised. I checked the online exhibitors list when I got home and some businesses are still on there even though they weren't at the show. It was so much smaller than last year, yet the admission price had increased. I didn't find the shopping experience as relaxing as last year either, it's quite a large venue so it was nicely set out last year meaning there was no hustle and bustle but this time the stalls on the upper floor were squashed together and at times it was hard to tell where one person's stall finished and another began. It was much better on the lower level though. I was sorry that I didn't get to sample the wares of dyers such as Norah George, Lay Family Yarn and Beehive Yarns amongst others, all these dyers were originally advertised but weren't there on the day.

Disappointment aside, I did manage to do a little shopping so I'll show you what I brought home with me.

Jellybeans Yarns is new to me, I haven't come across this yarn company before but I was so impressed by the gorgeous colours which were available. I bought three different semi solid colourways, Golden (one of a kind), Midnight and Red Ember, but it was very hard to make a choice as there were many which took my fancy. The colours are more saturated than these photos show, I could have spent a fortune on this stall and I'm sure I'll be buying more from this dyer in the future.

I picked up a couple of Christmas colourways, Little Elf from Dina's Home of Crafts on a stellina base, there's got to be a bit of sparkle at Christmas time, and I also picked up Fairy Lights, this year's Christmas colourway from West Yorkshire Spinners. I'm not sure I'll get either of these knit up in time for this Christmas as I've got other things on my needles at the moment but I'll be able to knit up some socks ready for next year.

I went to the show knowing that I'd like to bring some mini skeins home with me to add to my Scrappy Blanket. I picked up a bundle of 10 gram minis from Down Sheepy Lane and an odd 20 gram mini from Snuggly Stars Yarns.

Helen from Giddy Yarns and the Giddy Knits Podcast was exhibiting for the first time at Nottingham and it was lovely to finally meet her as I've been watching her podcast since she started it. I believe I was one of her very first customers when she started her yarn business too. My Dorothy In Oz Socks were knit in Giddy Yarns and I have another four different colourways from Giddy Yarns in my stash so I didn't buy any full skeins from Helen on this occasion, however, Helen's four year old son, Arthur, had dyed some mini skeins especially to be sold at Nottingham with all the profits going to him so I had to have one to add to my blanket. These were being sold under the Kiddy Yarns logo rather than Giddy Yarns, how cute is that? There's no surprise that there's plenty of purple in this colourway as it's Arthur's favourite colour. I did peruse Helen's stall though and I have to say that her Lost At Sea and Loganberry colourways are on my wish list.

I'm really pleased with my purchases but I'm not sure it's a show I'll go back to next year.

As you know, Eleanor is at university in Nottingham so we paid her a visit whilst we were in the area. We turned up with a bag of supplies for her so she'll be eating well this week. It was lovely to see her.

Friday 9 November 2018

Let Me Lie

I Let You Go, the first book by Clare Mackintosh, was my favourite book of all the books I read in 2015. I subsequently read her next novel, I See You, and although I enjoyed it, I didn't think it a patch on her first one.

Clare Mackintosh has now released her third book, Let Me Lie. It popped up on Kindle daily deals so I downloaded it. This author writes books with more than a couple of twists in the story line and this latest offering is no different.

"The police say it was suicide.
Anna says it was murder.
They're both wrong.

One year ago, Caroline Johnson chose to end her life brutally: a shocking suicide planned to match that of her husband just months before. Their daughter, Anna, has struggled to come to terms with their loss ever since.

Now with a young baby of her own, Anna misses her mother more than ever and starts to ask questions about her parents' deaths. But by digging up the past, is she putting her future in danger? Sometimes it's safer to let things lie..."

I actually guessed the main twist but it didn't spoil the story for me, there were lots of other twists along the way too which I didn't guess.

I should say that each of this author's three books are stand alone stories but I must admit that my favourite of the three is still I Let You Go but I did enjoy this one.

Tuesday 6 November 2018

Eleanor's Christmas Socks

I'm a big fan of West Yorkshire Spinners yarn so when I saw their Candy Cane colourway last Christmas I couldn't resist. I knit myself my Aunt Petunia's Christmas Socks in this colourway but as I'd knit the cuffs, heels and toes in a coordinating colour, I had lots of yarn left over. I recently pulled it out of my stash and decided that I'd use this yarn to knit up a pair of Christmas socks for Eleanor to wear this year over the festive period.

I knit a plain pair of socks, no pattern this time, but once again, used the Cayenne Pepper colourway for the cuffs, heels and toes. Yarn goes so much further when you introduce a second, complimentary, colourway.

They're a bit shorter in the leg than I usually knit but Eleanor doesn't like her socks quite as long as I do so I think she'll like them. She's got small feet, she's a UK size 4 so her socks don't take up too much yarn. They're quicker to knit than socks for other people too, she's got the smallest feet in our family, though the men in the family aren't too bad, they've mostly got size 8 or 9 feet.

I've seen the Christmas colourway which West Yorkshire Spinners have released for 2018, I'm not sure I can resist.

Saturday 3 November 2018


One thing I didn't already have amongst all my Christmas decorations was a nativity set or scene so I was thrilled to be the winner of Mary's Pre Christmas Giveaway over on her Trundling Through Life blog.

This little wooden nativity set was made at The Rock Foundation, a charity local to Mary which supports people with learning disabilities and disadvantages. The scene just slots into the base so it will be easy to assemble and also easy to store once all the decorations are packed away for another year.

Thank you, Mary, I'm really thrilled with my prize and I'm looking forward to having it on display during the festive period.