Saturday, 18 April 2015

Currently Crafting

As someone who loves to craft I like to try my hand at different techniques, so when Kemper of Junk Yarn set a "never have I ever" challenge I decided it was about time I attempted to knit some socks.  Gauging the size has previously put me off knitting socks so I thought that a toe-up design would possibly solve that issue.  I'm very sensitive to anything rough or lumpy against my skin, so I searched online and discovered the seam-free Turkish cast on.  It's fantastic!  So easy and totally smooth!
I have knitted a rounded toe.
I kept trying it on, until I felt there were enough stitches for a good fit.
I then looked at so many stitch patterns and tried to work out what would be the most suitable.  Eventually I settled on Saba's Slip Stitch Lines design.  Unfortunately this is as far as I have got with my socks as I am easily distracted! :)
Whilst in Norwich I bought some Merino tops and hand-dyed silk for spinning.
I am trying to spin a fingering weight yarn, adding the silk to create highlights of colour throughout the yarn.
 Originally I was going to spin the purple and pink together with the purple silk and create a separate yarn with the blue and white, with some blue silk.  Now I am wondering about spinning all of the colours as one skein, with just the purple silk running throughout.  Maybe in stripes that blend into each other?  I'm thinking it could then be a shawl.  I should say that I have no idea what I am doing and that this is a total experiment!  I think it is the colour combinations that draw me to spinning.  
I have worked a little more on my friend's birthday shawl and I have just started the pattern rows.  I find that I can't always work on this, as my hands are sometimes very dry from gardening and housework and the silk catches very easily on any roughness.
Previously I had crocheted this cup cosy as part of Dani's Cosy Cup Swap.  My partner has now received her gifts so I can share this with you.  It is made from Cascade 220, using star stitch and the button was from my Nana's button tin.
This is what I sent to Mikki.
I crafted a progress keeper and some stitch markers for my swap partner and I also made a set for myself.
These are the lovely cosies that Mikki knitted for me and she also included some sweets, teas and stitch markers in her parcel.  Her sweet 80 year old mum made one of the stitch markers - that is so special!
Having a pair of socks and a shawl to complete, plus a few older WIPs, you would think that I had enough to do, wouldn't you?  But no, I was tempted by a CAL hosted by Dani and Tilly.  They are both making Sandra's Weekender Blanket and as I had this yarn languishing in my stash I had to join in!
 I'm crocheting a Granny's Garden Blanket
 using Sublime Extra Fine Merino DK.  Some of the colours are discontinued so I am playing yarn chicken and I think I may be losing! This will be a lap blanket due to the amount yarn I have.
So I have plenty to keep me busy and also lots of other projects are in the pipeline; possibly more projects than I will ever have time for, but never say never! :)

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Spring Gardening

Here in the South of England we have been enjoying some much needed sunshine and the days have been warm and summer-like.
The earth in the garden has been replaced by an explosion of green and sweetly scented hyacinths.
I have many pots on our patio, filled with spring flowers.

 In the flower beds the tulips are beginning to bloom.

 I have been pottering in the greenhouse.  These are dahlias that I have grown from seed this spring.  I have also overwintered the tubers from last year and will now start watering them again.
 Also sown this year are sunflowers,
and Californian poppies.  I'm also growing bells of Ireland, linaria, nigella, nemesia and zinnias for the garden.
I have several varieties of salad growing in the greenhouse,
plus some onions
and dwarf peas.  This week I have sown my beans, sweetcorn, gourds and squashes; possibly a little late, but I'm hoping that the warmer weather will help them along.
Indoors my window sills are full of tomato and cornichon plants and some Chinese lantern seedlings.
At my allotment we harvested the remainder of the parsnips so that we could dig over the bed.
The purple sprouting broccoli is now ready too.
Also the rhubarb season has started.
The garlic
and overwintering onions are growing well.
The broad bean plants have survived the winter.
I found several caterpillars munching my veggies!!

This year I am hoping to grow some potatoes in an old water butt.  This is Bonnie, a second early variety.  My husband grows most of our potatoes on his allotment.  He also grows our peas, sweetcorn, cabbages and squashes on his allotment as there is more space there.  We have a larger fruit cage there too.
In our front garden the Amelanchier blossom is taking over from the purple-leaved plum

 and the crab apple blossom is almost open.
Spring is such a beautiful time of the year!

Monday, 13 April 2015

Our Easter Holidays

 Our Easter holidays have been a little disjointed this year! M came home from uni earlier than J, which has meant that she has already returned to uni, whilst J is still at home.  My husband had a week and a half off work and is back today, whilst I am now halfway through my Easter holidays!  We managed to visit my parents in Norfolk for a few days, but unfortunately it was timed with my coming down with a flu-like bug!  It is unusual for me to be ill, so this really was bad timing!!  I managed to drag myself around Norwich one day and we popped into a couple of craft shops another day, but I was exhausted and in bed by 6pm!  Luckily I don't seem to have passed it on to anyone else.  I took very few photos whilst we were away; a sure sign that something wasn't right! :)
I took this basket of plants as a gift for my Mum

 and came home with a few purchases:-
some Merino fibre and hand-dyed silk for spinning
 and some fabric for project bags and a cushion.

 Back home we spent a quiet couple of days whilst I recovered.
Luckily I had made a our Simnel cake
and some Easter rocky road before we went away, ready for our return.
 We are on a health kick so most of the baking was for the children, but I have had some cake and hot cross buns! :)
The weather has been glorious, so mid week we went to RHS Wisley.

The scented displays in the glasshouse were amazingly perfumed!

 There were many beautiful orchids on display.  I particularly like the green orchids
 and wacky shaped ones.

 Outside the trees were full of blossom.

Magnolia x loebneri Ballerina.

 Stachyurus chinensis
 I always like to visit the Alpine House.
Primula auricula Purple Velvet.

The meadow was carpeted with spring blooms.
 Narcissus cyclamineus with primulas.
 Brimstone butterfly on Pulmonaria.
 It was a glorious day and we even got a little sun tanned!
 Over the weekend we popped down to Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth for a spot of shopping
 and we were lucky to get two free tickets to see this film.
 Both my husband and I enjoyed it.
At home our garden is full of spring flowers and I have been busy at the allotment and in the greenhouse, but I shall save that for a separate post so that this one doesn't turn into another mega post! :) x