Sunday, December 14, 2014

"Stained Glass" Windows

At church we have had the same display for a number of years.  I suggested we could have something different, and was asked "Are you willing to do it?"  People were surprised when answered in the positive.  

Card frames were made, and a sheet of clear cellophane placed on it.  Then the children from Junior Church added squares of coloured cellophane on top.  They were attached with a re-positional spray adhesive.  Another layer of clear cellophane was added to keep it all in place.  Then the black paper silhouettes were added.  

Many people have made favourable comments.  One of the members of the congregation has expressed an interest in doing a silk painting for next year. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A tidier, non-exploded house

Whilst I haven't been blogging about the mini-challenges, I have been continuing to do them.  Slowly, bit by bit the house is getting tidier and de-cluttered.  

Recently we had a gas leak and needed to empty the under stair cupboard.  This cupboard had not been fully emptied by the previous owners, or the one before them!  They had left 'useful' things like tiles (3 sorts), laminate flooring, cork matting, random bits of wood, and lots of emulsion. We have had a massive clear out from that cupboard, the hall and the front porch.  Lots of things have found new homes and some things have gone to be recycled. 

After this huge endeavour, it's back to the dining room and bringing that room into good shape.

When I think of house was just before Easter, I am amazed at the changes.  It feels so good to have so many good spaces, and that we are able to maintain them to a reasonable standard. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Crazy Knitting Lady?

Last week, my joints were in serious 'whinge-mode' due to the bad weather.  A beautiful purple lace scarf was draped around my neck and shoulders, fingerless gloves in 'blue jeans' kept my wrists warm, and rainbow socks resulted in toasty ankles.  Sadly, it mad me look like 'crazy knitting lady'.   One person suggested that I had been 'yarn bombed'.

This winter might be just the time to make some wrist warmers/fingerless gloves and socks in neutral colours. Then I wouldn't look like I had dressed in the dark.  The plan starts with fingerless gloves in black.  When they are finished, I'll make some matching socks.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Monthly Goals - October

I didn't meet many goals for September, although I did manage to accomplish a number of other things.  Some of these things included keeping up with the Mini-Challenges, re-starting at choir, going to the Embroiders' Guild, starting the renovation of the dining room, significant tidy up of daughter's room and a general improvement in my health and stamina.

This month, my goals are going to be kept to a minimum, and there will be a 'It would be nice to do'.  

  • finish the knitted jacket
  • finish the sunflower quilt
  • paint the duvet cover
  • make progress in the dining room
  • keep going out and meeting people
That's my list of things I want to achieve this month.

It would be nice to:
  • knit some hats from stash
  • start a Christmas quilt
  • empty the laundry basket
  • keep up with a daily exercise program - at the moment it is 10 minute on the bike, 10 weighted lifts whilst lying down, 10 standing lifts and a daily incrementing number of full squats.  
It was lovely last Sunday when an older friend saw me sink to my knees to pick up something, and then just rise again.  Straight down, straight up.  She was amazed by it.  

Monthly Goals - September

Last month I set some goals for myself:

  • finish the current project, a knitted jacket
  • finish Christmas socks for Mam
  • make a fish hat for Daughter #2
  • transform old kitchen stool into toadstool
  • use fabric paint to make a Christmas present
  • to finish chicken pin cushion (1st Sept)
  • learn applique (2nd Sept started work on it)
  • learn quilt-as-you-go technique
  • use the technique to start a quilt 
  • keep a tidy kitchen (managed mostly)
  • maintain an almost empty laundry basket
And, I have managed to do two things!  I have been doing other things as well, but, I'm sad I only achieved two of my goals.  The kitchen has mostly been kept tidy, but the laundry basket overflows!  

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Poppies for a friend and colleague

A friend and colleague is about to leave our little island home.  She loves poppies.  With this in mind, I made this card for her.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Growth of a Sunflower

So far, I have made three quilts.  The first was a incredibly simple - squares and strips.  The second was made from denim and fleece and was a single bed quilt.  The latest completed quilt was a quilted table runner for my parents' golden wedding.  With each project I have learned mover about quilting and techniques.  

For September, I decided to set myself some goals and learn some more skills.  On my list are appliqué, hand quilting and free motion quilting.  My first attempt at appliqué was on the pumpkin peg bag, and I learned a great deal.  After watching tutorials by Jenny of the Missouri Start Quilt Co on YouTube I was inspired to have a go at a Dresden plate block

But, instead of using lots of different fabrics, I wanted to use the design to make a sunflower. 

You can buy Dresden rulers in shops and on-line, but I wanted to make it NOW.  By using the 30° line on my quilting ruler, I was able to make a Dresden sunflower.  Normally, the Dresden pattern calls for 20 'petals'. Using a 30° angle has reduced this to 12 petals on my sunflower.

The yellow petals are made and sewn, and I'm just about to start work on the brown centre of the flower.  All of the bits were laid out on the backing fabric, and that is when I realised the background is too dark and too fussy.  

The colour balance on this photograph is off.  The yellow is a lovely, vibrant yellow, and the greens for leaves and stem are good mid-greens.  However, this photograph does make it easy to see that the blue background is too close in saturation to the greens.  Something softer and more background-y is required.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Peg Bag for Jack?

Today's bit of craftiness has come in the form of trying something new. Given the number of crafty things I have done over the years, this is my first attempt at appliqué.

It's not bad for a first go, and I was able to improve on it as I was working on the project. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

A Crafty Day

There are times when a person realises they are engaged in self-sabbotaging behaviour.  Last night I realised I spend far too much time playing on my computer.  I get sucked into playing games and watching television programmes I don't really want to watch.  This is not what I want to do. 

Today has been spent knitting, and sewing.  The knitting is an on-going project.  Below is a Manx chicken pin cushion, and a couple of Christmas decorations.

The Christmas decorations need a little bit of gold cord (for hanging purposes) and a nice bead in the centre. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Lemon Swiss Roll

3 eggs (at room temperature)
75g sugar
75g plain gluten-free flour

Line a Swiss roll tin with greaseproof paper and heat oven to 220C.

Whisk eggs briefly, then add sugar and whisk on high with an electric mixer for 5 minutes.  All of the air that is incorporated at this stage is to give lift to the cake.  

Sift the flour into the whisked eggs and fold in with a metal spoon.  

Gently pour out into the Swiss roll tin, and bake for 9 - 10 minutes until just done.

Whilst hot, turn the cake onto a sheet of baking parchment and roll up tightly.  Use oven gloves whilst rolling.  Leave the cake to cool in the roll.

When the cake is cook, gently open up, and spread with a mixture of whipped cream and lemon curd.  Roll back up again and decorate and serve.

Little and often!

It's amazing the difference these mini-challenges are making to the house.  The kitchen is looking really tidy, and the sitting room is in need of a 5 minute spruce up, but apart from that, it's looking good too.  There must be something to this 'little and often' thing. :o) 

Today, I'm moving on to a larger challenge, called Un-foo your weekend.  It starts off with 'strip the bed, throw the washing in the machine, and then make the bed'.  Then it goes on to 'wash the dishes'.  I'm feeling proud as I have already done that, along with washing the kitchen floor!  

The weekend challenges are bigger, but designed to be accomplished within 20 minutes.  The rule is 'work for 20, rest for 10'.  It's a great way to operate as so much can be done in 20 minutes, and by adding in these rest periods you don't get burnt out.

Since having the massive pre-Easter declutter, tidy and clean in the bedroom, we have been keeping that room looking good.  There's isn't much needing done there.  Today the bedding will be done, a bit of dusting, and then the floor will be swept and washed.  That will take the bedroom from 'good' to 'excellent'. )

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Mini-challenge: Wash the dishes

Mini-challenge: Wash the dishes.  If there's not many wipe down a few surfaces and do a bit of tidying in the kitchen.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Mini-challenge: Clean the kitchen floor

Mini-challenge: Fill a bucket with hot soapy water.  Dip and cloth in the water, and wring it out.  Wash the floor.

Mini-challenge: Declutter the sofa

Mini-challenge: Declutter the sofa.

My sofa turns into a little nest, with all sorts of stuff close at hand.  And it looks a mess!  Time to make it look like a sofa again.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Mini-challenge: Five minutes in the garden

Mini-challenge:  Spend five minutes in the garden.  This might be weeding, picking up rubbish, sweeping leaves, etc.  Have a look at the garden and spend five minutes improving it.

Mini-challenge: Stop Procrastinating

There are times when I can be the queen of procrastination. 

Today, there is something I have been putting off for probably 2 weeks, and that's phone my GP for an appointment.  Simple - pick up the phone and make that call!  Come on you're an adult and you can do this.

Mini-challenge: Do the thing you have been putting off.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Mini-challenge: Tidy Up

Mini-challenge: Pick up five things and put them away in their proper place.


Stop It and Tidy Up was an animated children's television programme.  All of the characters were names after commands that parents give to children - Go to Bed, Clean Your Teeth, and  I Said No.

Mini-challenge: Kitchen

Mini-challenge: Microwave a bowl of water for 3 minutes.  Wipe down the outside of the microwave and fridge,  and any other kitchen you have time to do.  When the timer goes off on the microwave, clean the inside of the machine.

Un-Foo Your Habitat

When the children were small I realised I needed help in learning how to manage my home.  My Mam used the practise of 'stuff it all in cupboards and keep the surfaces clean'.  I was operating on a different model, 'keep the cupboards tidy and all the clutter on the surface'.  Neither of those approaches to housekeeping is good.

A friend introduced me to FlyLady.  She taught me how to tidy up, declutter and organise a home.  However, I did find her a home-grown wisdom just a bit syrupy sweet for my tastes.  Roll on a number of years, and I came across UfYH.  'Foo' isn't really the word they use, but I very rarely swear, and I'm such a delicate little flower...

FlyLady has a 'spoonful of sugar', whereas UfYH is much more a kick up the bum.  At the moment, I am more responsive to a kick up the bum.  :o) The idea is that you behave like an adult, and just get on with it!

I am really enjoying UfYH's mini-challenges.  They take a few minutes to do, literally a few minutes, and there's a feeling of accomplishment.  As part of the whole 'be an adult' thing, I'm going to use their mini-challenges, and also write up some of my own.  The idea is when I have a few minutes to spare I can look up these mini-challenges and get something accomplished.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Masculine Hat of Strenght and Power

Fiona's partner rather liked the hat, and when I asked if he might like one, the offer was readily accepted.  Instead of the girly pink and orange combination, I have gone for a more masculine orange and pink look.  :o)  The colours were at his request, but rather than making identical hat I opted for a set rather than a pair.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Hat of Power and Strength

A hat for Fi to wear whilst marshalling.  It should enable her to stand out from the crowd.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Autumn Leave Table Runner

This is the table runner I have made as a gift for my parents'  50 wedding anniversary.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Tour de Yorkshire

The name 'Tour de France', as the name suggests is a tour of France, but this cycling competition also takes in parts of neighbouring countries from time to time.  This year, the cyclists will be spending some time in England - Yorkshire to be exact.

There are many good French-English dictionaries available, but I haven't seen a single French-Yorkshire one.  Some kind soul has translated a few key phrases to help.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Manx Cottage

There were many cottages like this on the Isle of Man at one time, now there are few.  This is Rose Cottage in Cranstal, Bride.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Autumn Leaves Quilted Table Runner

My parents have almost been married for 50 years.  This table runner is a wedding anniversary gift for them.

First there was 'the plan' - an autumnal rainbow of colours.  Half of the leaves would be in very saturated tones, and the other half in almost pastel colours.

I am on holiday for 10 days and yesterday was a half day.  My hope is to make three rows of the pattern each day. This is what has been made on days 1 and 2.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Individual Cheesecakes

400g soft cream cheese (eg Philadelphia) Brick Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup icing sugar
2 eggs
150g gluten-free biscuit crumbs
60g butter

Melt the butter, and add the biscuit crumbs to the butter.  Mix and put into individual ramekins.  I use ramekins which hold about 350ml, and the recipe fills 4 very nicely.  Gently press the crumb base flat.

Place 1/2 cup of icing sugar in the bottom of a mixing bowl, and then add the cream cheese. Blend well.  Add the eggs, one at a time, until they have been combined with the cream cheese mixture.  Pour the mixture into the ramekins.  Bake at 180C for 25 to 30 minutes.  Refrigerate for 3 hours.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Note to Self

Dear Maghouin Beg,

It would be immensely handy if you could index things properly by use of  'labels'.  Some words make excellent search terms. 

In this particular case, when you know that you have posted your recipe for Chocolate Brownies, the 'excellent search terms' are 'baking' and 'recipes'.  It makes life so much easier, well, the baking element of life, so much easier when you think to label a recipe for gluten-free Chocolate Brownies with the keywords 'recipes' and 'baking'.  It doesn't take anywhere near as long to search for the recipe.

Best wishes,


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Rainbow Socks

If you are paying close attention, you might be able to recognise some of the colours in these socks with the colours of the mitred squares.

Mitred Squares in Sock Yarn

After knitting a few pairs (cough) of socks, I seem to have a few (cough) little balls of sock yarn left over.  This is what happened when I started trying to use up some of the yarn.

I haven't quite decided what I am going to do with this fabric as yet.  It might become a cushion cover, but it might be a baby blanket.  Who knows?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Spring Cakes

A few lemon cup cakes with fondant flowers and leaves.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Candy Stripe Socks

After the bright, bright pink socks, here's a toned down version - Candy Stripe Socks.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Minion Time

My delightful children are asking for interesting birthday cakes.  Here's the latest.


Sock it to April!

February had the hat-a-thon, and April has been designated 'sock month'.  April is also my elder daughter's birthday, and she has a love of hand knitted socks in bright colours, but with no pattern.

The leader of my choir always has cold feet, and last week I asked if she might like some woollen socks.  There was a resounding 'Yes'.  It just so happens that pink is her favourite colour, which is rather handy as it means I can use up the remains of the sock yarn from my daughter's socks.  One sock has been made, but I don't want to start the other one just yet.  S needs to try on the first sock to ensure it fits well before I start the second sock. I'm fine about ripping back one sock, but not two. :o)  

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Yarn no longer whispers; it shouts!

It used to be that yarn would whisper to me, singing a quiet gentle song of soft, warm, tender love.  Now the stuff is starting to shout! This might be because it has been left on a shelf, in a box, in a bag, discarded, forgotten. 

February was the hat month - a marathon of 26 hats.  I thought that I was hatted out, but it seems not.  A lovely friend was in need of a new hat.

And this has brought hats back to my attention, and a certain little ball of yarn...

The yarn was originally bought to make a pair of socks, but the left overs were set aside.

The left over yarn had enough of being neglected and unloved, and started shouting at me "Knit me!  Knit me.  I want to be a hat."  Therefore I duly started knitting it into a hat.  I was fearful of not having enough yarn to make a complete hat, so I added in some love dark, dark navy yarn.  And one hat was finished (the one on the left).  There was still yarn left, and it was shouting. Hat two was made.  And there was still yarn left over!  Hat three was made, and there was only 15cm of yarn left.  At last the yarn had stopped shouting.

These hats will be added to my charity box, and will most likely be given to the Southern Befrienders for their Christmas gifts.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Something woolly has happened to Douglas!

The Manx Yarnies have been doing a little bit of spring decorating.  

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Cold Sheeping

Sometimes knitters, and other crafters have a little problem when they buy materials faster than they use them up.  The crafting stash grows and grows out of control.  Last month's Hat Marathon was a reaction of the vast amount of yarn I have.  Making 26 hats used up an amount, but there is still a way to go before my stash is down to a more manageable level.

Yesterday I hit my 60th day at Cold Sheeping (buying no yarn at all).  I have been awarded two 'clips' for my abtention.


I have realised that it is not for me. I am a Moderate Merino (limited yarn purchases) lass through and through. My plan for the rest of the year is to work through as much stash as possible. But I will be allowing myself to buy some new yarn to make gifts for others, and if I have been really good, to make an odd gift for me too. :o)

Today is my first day as a Moderate, and my first act is to buy some yarn for two projects.  This yarn is to make a hat for a good friend, and as a highlight yarn in a shawl for myself.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Borromean Cowl

3 colours of Double Knitting yarn, approximated 30-50g of each.
5mm circular needle.

Ring  1: Holding yarn A  double, cast on 100st, join. Knit 10 rows. Cast off. Weave in ends. 
Ring 2: As Ring 1 using a different colour of yarn (yarn B).

Ring 3: Holding yarn C double, cast on 100st. Do not join.

Arrange Ring 1 and Ring 2 as shown.

Weave the circular needle under Ring 1, over Ring 2, under Ring 1, and over Ring 2.  Join.  Knit 10 rows.  As you knit move Rings 1 and 2 out of the way.  Cast off, and weave in the ends.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Shoulder Exercises Log

Thursday, 27th February
Shoulder Flexation 10, 10

Scapula Setting 5, 3

I have been doing these exercises for a week on and off.  The benefits in mobility and stability I have experienced have convinced me that they are very well worth it.

Currently, it is easy to get the walking stick all the way over the top, but when my arms are almost on the bed, my arms start shaking, and it is very evident that my muscles are working.  I'm having low grade grumbling discomfort from the arm muscles - but it is less intense than it was before I started these exercises.    The first two scapula setting repeats are easy, but by the time I get to 4, I'm working hard, and 5 is a huge struggle.  Often I don't manage to count to a full 10 in the 5th repetition.

Shoulder Exercises

I have social shoulders - they pop out to visit from time to time.  Over the summer, my left shoulder partially dislocated, and the muscles covered for the shoulder.  There was no real pain, but a lot of mild discomfort and a reduction in the range of movement. The reason behind the partial dislocation?  I had been trying to strengthen the muscles around my shoulder to help prevent future dislocations! 

After using the tried and tested method of 'do absolutely nothing' for a few months, I started seeing a chiropractor, and this has helped my whole grumpy body feel better.  One downside is that as my shoulder muscles have learned (slowly) to relax again, it has meant there has been a time when my shoulder has been dislocating on a regular basis.

However, I think we have turned the corner, and the chiropractic manipulations, massage and exercise are stacking up against the dislocating tendencies!

This is a place to record my progress through the physio exercises.  These are a mixture of the ones set by my chiropractor, a former physio, and the exercises in an NHS booklet Rehabilitation after shoulder dislocation.

Shoulder Flexion  My first exercise is to lie down on my bed, with a walking stick between my hands.  The hands are shoulder-width apart.  Starting with the walking stick on the stomach, lift the walking stick up and over the head, until the upper arms are lying flat on the bed.  Hold for 5 seconds, and bring the arms back down.  Repeat 10 times, four times a day.
Scapula setting exercise Stand close to a wall.  Lay the forearms on the wall, fingers point to the ceiling.  The upper arms should be at shoulder height, and perpendicular to the body.  Draw the shoulder blades back and down, causing the muscles between to be squeezed. Hold for 10 seconds and release. Repeat 5 times, 4 times a day.

I've been doing these two exercises for a week, and the improvement is great.  There is so much more movement.  But there is still a long way to go.  As these exercises get too easy they will be replaced by other ones.  The shoulder flexion exercise can be made harder simply by standing up.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Leftover socks

"Leftover socks" are socks made from leftover yarns.  These socks were made from the leftovers from turquoise and teal socks I made for my DM-wearing daughter.  Two balls of yarn is just enough to make three pairs of socks for her.

The joyous news is that my next two balls of yarn are pink and red.  This will great a gloriously awful combination. But, as I happen to love the daughter-child, I will not inflict this combination upon her.

Project 38

The Hat-a-thon has been completed!

The stash that was overwhelming me has been reduced.  Twenty six hats have been made!  

Behold, a photograph of 25 hats. 

The 26th one has already been sent to it's recipient.  (This is now the recipient.)  It has been given to a friend who works at the airport and de-ices planes. It is cold work. He asked me for a baklava to keep him warm. I explained that as I’m gluten-free, I don’t make baklava. He explained “I can’t say balaclava, so I’m asking for a baklava.” I hope he won’t be too disappointed when he gets a balaclava.

It is very warm, and looks perfect for robbing a bank. It might also be good for wearing at the airport on cold shifts. But I worry that there are strands of my hair knitted into the balaclava. He gets up to some crazy stuff.  Just in case, can you all be my character witnesses?

37 Projects completed - I'm now at 70% of my 52 in 52 challenge.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Skating Minister

There's a Facebook thing where if you 'like' a person's post of a work of art then you are given an artist, and you have to choose a piece of their work.

I was given Henry Raeburn, It is  a-typical of his work. Most of Raeburn's work was made up large portraits of 'important people' sitting in slightly pompous poses, but this miniature seems to have more life to it. There has been quite a bit of discussion as to whether this painting was indeed painted by Raeburn. At the moment, it seems that opinion says 'yes'.

I couldn't get a picture of this painting to show up as a thumbnail in Facebook, hence posting the picture here.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Sunken Garden

A sunken garden.

This is what it normally looks like.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The second hat of the Hat-a-thon

And behold, the second hat of the Hat-a-thon.  It is a garter stitch, sideways hat with short row shaping.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

And the Hat-a-thon has started!

In January, I was confronted by the size of my stash. It was overwhelming. I decided that something needed to be done about it.  And the Hat-a-thon Challenge was born.  A group of us are having a marathon of hat making in February.

A full marathon is 26 hats.  Others will be taking part in the half marathon, and there is a third group are taking part in the ‘relay.  

My hats will be going to a local charity called ‘Southern Befrienders’. Elderly people can ask to be paired up with volunteers who pop in to visit them, normally about once a week. Last Christmas, the elderly people all received gifts from the organisation. Many received hand knitted and crocheted items, things like hats, socks, gloves etc. They were greatly appreciated.

This is my first hat of the hat-a-thon, and my  12th project of the year.

I forgot to add my 11th project.  It is a needle holder for my circs.  Effectively it is a garter stitch scarf with a point, and D ring at one end, and a pocket for a needle sizer and measuring tape at the other end.  That is project 11.

Friday, January 17, 2014

A sea of yarn

Since the 15th of December I have finished 5 UFOs (UnFinished Objects).  Some of them have been incredibly close to being finished, but something has happened that meant they were tossed into a work box and forgotten about.  Whilst it is good to finish projects, the number of item that were almost, almost done makes me feel sad.  

I have realised that I have a blindness - I simply can not see the projects that have been started and are unfinished. As this is perceptual blindness, the solution is pretty simple - stop and register what is actually in front of my eyes.  But I must admit, I am frightened by what I will find.  The adapted solution is to look in one box and deal with that one box.  

There are a few different things that can happen to these UFOs.
1. Finish it
2. Frog it and donate the yarn
3. Frog it and return the yarn to my stash

 Last night I found a UFO that was not mine!  It was my daughter's.  I'll chat with her today and see if she would like me to finish those slipper socks for her.  It would mean one more UFO leaving my work box!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Christmas Pudding Hat

My first Christmas present for 2014 has been made!

This is my husband kneeling before me.  It was the only way I was tall enough to take  the photograph.  

More Socks for a DM Wearer


My daughter is an art student, and works in various different materials. Safety equipment is import. Doc Marten boots form part of her safety wear. She asked for a pair of woollen socks to wear with her boots, and then a second request came for socks. 

A request to 'Keep 'em coming' has now arrived. The socks are comfortable and warm. Her friends (fellow art students) think it's rather cool to have hand made socks.