Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Alpaca Blanket

My first purchase of yarn in one year was two 50g balls of Drops Alpaca in turquoise.  I've decided to make a Granny Square blanket in various shades of blues and greens.  When I've used up the 100g, I'll buy some more yarn from Sweet Ginger in Ramsey.  

Yarn: Drops Alpaca (5 ply)
Colour: 2918 (deep turquoise)
Dyelot: 312260
Hook: 3.5mm

Pattern: 8 round Granny Square

A year without new yarn!

This last year has been rather odd.  I decided to go a year without buying yarn in an attempt to bring my yarn stash under control.  There was a minor hiccough in November when I was asked for a fox hat as a Christmas present, but didn't have the yarn to make it.  The Beloved bought the yarn for me, to enable the present to be made.  After the fox hat was made I started using up the leftovers.  This resulted in a second hat, and four pairs of fingerless mittens! 

My year has come to an end, and I have my 'one year chip'.

Whilst this is a lovely accomplishment,  it has come at a certain cost.  Instead of yarning (knitting or crocheting), I have been fabric-ing.  Two quilts and a Christmas table runner have been made.  Fabric has been bought.  Essentially I have switched from one form of stash enlargement to another!

Therefore, I am ditching the 'Cold Sheep' method of stash reduction, and am returning to 'two from stash, then one new'.  To get new yarn or fabric, I need to complete two projects from stash yarn or fabric, and only then can I buy something new.  There will be a little bit of wiggle room, and a tiny bit can be bought to finish a project.  However, the underlying principle is 'two from stash, then one new'.  

Monday, November 30, 2015

Getting crafty, and tidy

Mondays are days to do what I want.  

Today, is wet and wintry.  I want to snuggle up on the sofa and craft.  One fingerless mitten has been finished, and then second one is at least half way done.  The pattern for the fingerless mittens is currently being written.  

My house is in need of some attention, and today the kitchen and the laundry room are receiving a little bit of TLC (tender, loving care).  But I am fearful about those rooms going into shock, so they are only getting the TLC for about 10 minutes in each hour. :o)

This gives time to improve the situation, and get some crafting done.

So far, there has been knitting, pattern writing and testing.  In the kitchen the chicken has been transformed into stock, and the stock into carrot soup.  In the laundry room, three loads of laundry are/have been washed.  One load is in the dryer, and two load have been sorted and folded.  These will be disappearing upstairs soon.    All in all, it's looking tidier.

Reasons to be cheerful

A few days ago a friend on Facebook lined to a quiz about 1980s music. I scored a very respectable 12 out of 12.  This was on 'Black Friday', and rather than have a rant about the insidious nature of this  despicable import being forced upon a culture, I decided to be thankful instead.  The words of Ian Dury and The Blockheads started running through my head, Reasons to be Cheerful.

This is so much better than being ranty!  Reasons to be cheerful.  There's so many reasons to be cheerful, and I'm having a hard job choosing just the one thing to post about each day.  There is no real order to them, just what pops into my head, and then isn't displaced by something else by the time I come to post it.

1.  My first reason to be cheerful is someone named in the song, 'Miss Molly'.  Miss Molly was a person I knew on-line.  She died almost 13 years ago.  The way she approached death was an inspiration to all who came in contact with her.  Even though death was stalking her, she was very much alive.  She encouraged people live life, and not to fear death.  

Reasons to be cheerful - part 1:  I am alive, and have a life worth living.

2.  I have a stash.  No, two, sorry, three... at least, stashes.  There's my yarn stash.  There's my fabric stash, and there's books.  These stashes represent the potential for many happy hours.  There's happiness in planning, joy in making and a delight in using or giving things away.

3.  Reasons to be cheerful - part 3:  This is the song that started the whole thing.  It would make no sense if it were not included!

4.  A wet and wintry day off has created the perfect excuse to smuggle up on the sofa and do some Christmas crafting.

Monday, October 12, 2015

My quilts

I realised I didn't have photographs of my quilts on my blog.  This post is to remedy the situation.

My first quilt: 

The second, a table runner for my parents' golden wedding:

And my third, a lap quilt for me:

The time between the first one and the second was about three years.  Then it was one year between finishing the second and starting the third.  The time between the finishing the third and starting the fourth was 5 days.  And it was only that long because I couldn't get to the fabric shop to buy supplies!

There are unfinished projects around the place.  After the two Christmas present quilts are done I am going to get back to them and sort them out. 

Machine Patchwork can be incredibly swift!

Today I started work on a Christmas quilt, well, a Nightmare before Christmas quilt.  This is one side.

And this is the diagram for the other side.

The yellow has been changed to a bright pumpkin orange.  The yellow sashing will be white, and the outer purple will become a dark grey pattern that looks a bit spider-webby, and echoes the colours in Jack's suit.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Granny's Flower Garden Quilt

My summer project has been completed.  This is my third quilt, and my first hand stitched one.

Previously, hand stitching and quilting is something that I would not have tried. It takes a huge amount of time to make a quilt by machine, and it's even longer doing it by hand. However, I have found the experience to be strangely compelling.

This quilt is a lap quilt. My next quilting projects are also lap quilt. &They are for my offsping. There will be a TARDIS quilt, and a Nightmare before Christmas one.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Twelve week fitness course

The National Sports Centre offers a system whereby your GP can refer you to trainers to help with your health.  In the last 6 years my shoulders have dislocated 3 times, and there are many, many subsequent dislocations.  It takes about 18 months for my shoulder to heal, and I've had enough.  I've asked for help in targeting the muscles that will help hold my shoulders in the right places.

The system means I have 12 free sessions at the gym and swimming pool between now and Christmas.  The woman handling my induction this morning will be seeking out exercises specifically for my shoulder issues.  

Today I spent 10 minutes on the treadmill, keeping my heart rate at around 130.  There was 5 minutes on the bike, again at 130 bpm, 50 repetitions on the rowing machine, and having a go on various other bits of kit.  This evening I took a half mile walk.

Next week, I'll do more work on the treadmill, bike and rowing machine, and hopefully add in some shoulder-specific things.  Then, it will be time to go swimming.  When I was swimming back in May I found it to be very useful for my shoulder.  

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Update on Grandma's Flower Garden Quilt

The central flower section of the quilt top has been made.  The top, wadding and backing have been sandwiched together and pinned in place.  I've even managed to quilt 3 of the flowers!  

When this section has been quilted almost all of the hand sewing will be completed.  A purple border will be added, and then a wide white one.  There are a few flowers left over, and these will be appliquéd onto the white border (the bit that hangs over the edge of the bed.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Oops, I wasn't meant to eat those things!

Learning the dos and don'ts of Whole30 is proving to be a bit of a tricky business!  I've managed to have corn with every meal today, and had peas at dinner time too.  Ooops.  We live and learn.

Breakfast: chicken and sweetcorn risotto
Lunch: chicken and sweetcorn risotto with salad leaves
Dinner: roast chicken, jacket potatoes, gravy, peas and sweetcorn
Fruit: honeydew melon

The last two days I seem to have done nothing but think about food.  However, there is a very helpful little paragraph on the Whole30 website:
It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. You’ve done harder things than this, and you have no excuse not to complete the program as written. It’s only thirty days
It isn't a trivial thing to do the Whole30.  I've been trying for 2 days, and I messed up on both days.  It happened by accident, not by design, and tomorrow will be a better day.

My guts were in uproar last month, and my energy levels were all over the place.  I want to get to a place where the food I am putting into my body nourishes me properly and doesn't cause problems.  

I've love some chocolate just now.  My body wouldn't.  This month has to be about my body's 'needs', rather than my brain's 'wants'.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Whole 30

July was not a good month for my gastro-intestinal system.    The slightest little thing could set things off.  Whole 30 was suggested as a way to give my innards a bit of a rest, and try to re-set things.  A dietician recommended some rice was added to the standard Whole 30 program.  This is wonderful for me as when my guts start acting up my go-to meal is chicken and vegetable risotto. 

"The Whole30® is our original nutritional program designed to change your life in 30 days. Think of it as a short-term nutritional reset, designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system."  This is done by removing, for one month, grains, legumes, dairy and processed foods.  I already know that it is these food that are causing me problems.

Most days I am not hungry in the morning and breakfast isn't something that happens.  There was some dairy in last night's dinner, and let's just say my system had a bit of clean out.  This meant I was very hungry this morning.  Many of the suggest breakfasts rely very heavily on eggs.  They are another one of my trigger foods.  Today's breakfast has been sweet potato, onion, leek and bacon.  

Lunch was a couple of gluten-free sausages with a green salad and some home made lemon mayonnaise.

Dinner came in the form of chicken and sweetcorn risotto.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Flowers are in bloom

My summer holiday project is coming along nicely.  There are 11 colours of flowers, and currently there's two flowers of each colour.

It is working well to make a flower at a time, then add partial ring of 5 white hexagons.  This gives a block of 12, and it tiles nicely.  Then one flower of each colour is placed beside the part that has already been sewn and the family collaborates on a pleasing arrangement.  

This fabric flower garden will form the top section of a double bed quilt.  There will be a strip of one of the purples around the hexagon section. This section will be hand quilted by stitching about 3-5 mm away from the colored hexagons.  It will make the flowers 'pop'.  

I haven't quite decided what to do with the sections that will fall down the sides of the bed.  They might well be deep sashings of white.  I am loathed to try to buy any fabrics to match the existing ones as they were bought in Hereford, mid-Wales, and Chester. Hmm, I'm sure I could order more of the purple bought in mid-Wales.  It was bought from Cross Patch in Velindre.  

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Granny's flower garden, part 2

The flowers continue to grow.

Birthday cake

A birthday cake made by the wonderful offspring.  When they brought it through, they were like two little children again, full of gleeful delight in their creation.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

A Scrabble Bag

A friend commented on the picture of the Rummikub drawstring bag and said she really needed to make something similar as her Scrabble tiles are currently in an sock!

Being on holiday, having the rest of the fat quarter, and a bit of ribbon, I offered to make her a bag.  This is the result.   Tomorrow it crosses the Irish Sea to its new home.

Ideas for Sustainable/Eco Housing

For as long as I can remember I have been designing houses I would like to live in. At the Centre for Alternative Technology I came across a couple of ideas I really liked.

The first is using photovoltaic cells to form the roof of a cloister or corridor. On a bright summer's day it is rather like being under the dappled shade of a large tree. There's still significant amounts of light, and there's also shade too. Being photovoltaic, the roof also supplies electricity too. I had initially thought of it as being a way of creating a covered 'outdoor' space with good natural light, but this image from the University of Southampton has made me consider whether it would be possible to do this on the whole of the south-facing roof space. The big question would be whether it would be suitable in the winter.

A conservatory is a must. It provides additional living space in the summer, and in the winter it is an excellent thermal barrier, keeping the house itself a little bit warmer.

Cordwood construction struck me as a very low-tech way to build, whilst at the same time having visual interest and appeal. I'd love to try this for a garage or outbuilding. I'd prefer my house to be a bit sleeker, with clean lines.

In cordwood construction the "cordwood" or short pieces of debarked tree are laid on a bed of lime or cob mortar. The whole wall can be made this way, or an infill of a thermally insulating material can be used. The eaves of the building extend 30-40cms beyond the walls to throw off as much rain water as possible.

Another little bag

We packed the game Rummikub to play on holiday.  I thought I had made a bag for the tiles.  And it wasn't until the contents of the box spilled open whilst we were away I realised I had made a bag for the tiles, but I had given it to my Mam for her Scrabble tiles!

Time for another bag.  This one was made from half a fat quarter of fabric, and 1.25m of navy ribbon.

These drawstring bags are so easy to make, and quick as well.  They make great little bags for games, but can also be used to store bread, vegetables or as a re-usable present bag.

Little Living

This year we spent part of our holiday in a static caravan in mid-Wales.  The whole caravan was about a quarter larger than my bedroom at home!  

Whilst on holiday I learned a few lessons about 'little living'.  The first was the vast importance of tidying up as you go.  If things are left out beyond the time they are being used then the whole place looks untidy, cluttered and claustrophobic.  Tidy as you go.

Another lesson was the importance of good storage.  One very nifty storage solution in the main bedroom was a bed where the mattress could be raised to offer access to the divan.

My parents have drawers in their divan.  They are useful, to get access to the drawers at the head of the bed you have to pull the bed out, away from the wall.  This isn't practical if you need to use those drawers more than a few times a year.  At home, we have a wooden framed bed, no divan.  Under the bed I have a couple of large, flat plastic boxes with lids.  They are great for storage, but it gets rather dusty under there (if I am not diligent at evicting dust bunnies). 

Another lesson was I have too much stuff!  From books, to yarn, fabric and clothes, I have too much stuff.   Eight years ago when we moved into our current home we rattled around in it for a good while.  Now, there's stuff everywhere.  

It's time to use these lessons.  Since the start of the year I have bought no yarn.  My stash must have reduced, but I am having problems seeing much of a difference. At the start of the year I couldn't imagine not buying yarn for a whole year, but I reckoned I could make it until Easter.  At Easter, going until the summer seemed possible.  Now, 6 months later, I am ready decide not to buy yarn for the rest of the year.  But, I suspect I need to do something similar with fabric.  It's time for no new fabric either.  However, to give myself some wiggle room, I am going to say that I am allowed to buy just enough fabric to finish a project.

And each time I leave a room, I will cast my eye around to check that things are tidy.  I will tidy as I go.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Holiday creations: hexagon patchwork and project bag

This holiday, I decided I wanted to try a project that was small & contained, didn't need electricity, and was a bit different from my usual projects.

Doughty's of Hereford do a fantastic range of fabrics, and it was a little pack of 20 strips of patchwork fabrics that caught my eye.  Next I spotted a little pack of hexagons, and my holiday project was decided.

It feels very weird to be doing all this hand sewing.  But I am enjoying the simplicity of it.

At Christmas, the Beloved bought me some lovely yarn from Wool Warehouse, The yarn came in a drawstring bag.  I have been using this bag on and off since then, but over the holiday the bag started to fall apart.  This morning I remade the bag, making sure that all of the voile was carefully enclosed within seams.  I also added a much stronger cotton top to the bag.  

I love that the bag is see through, and I can easily find the little hexagons, the threads etc.  It is much easier to use than an opaque bag.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Chocolate Cream Cheese Muffins

Today's time in the kitchen was spent cleaning the cooker, hob and surfaces. There was also so indulgence in baking - chocolate muffins with a cream cheese icing, topped with strawberries.

The recipe is the same as the Chocolate Cheesecake Muffins, but instead of adding the cream cheese to the middle of the muffin, it was spooned on the top.  Also the milk in the recipe was substituted for apple juice.  Both versions are quite delightful.

Monday, June 1, 2015

IronMay Challenge: Finished!

During May a grand total of 2.4 miles was swum, 116 miles cycled, and 26.2 miles walked!  I have completed 1.01 of an IronMan spaced out over the month.  

Apparently there's people who do this within 17 hours!  My poor body is still rather tender, and just plain grumpy.  It is a lot of physical active activity.  

Saturday, May 16, 2015

100 Crafty Days: with a sudden halt in the middle, but a sweet bit just afterwards

Having an acute asthma episode(s) left me totally wiped out.  There are times when even sitting on the sofa takes effort, and during those times a person should do as little as possible.

It's also at such times I re-discover my love of the National Health Service.  It cost me more to take a taxi back from the GP's surgery than to see him, and come away with medication that makes it so much easier to breathe again.  (sigh) Breathing is something that should never be under-rated!  

After a week of being weak, I managed to swim half a mile on Friday afternoon. I'll be hitting the pool again on Monday afternoon, and again on Friday.  At this rate it is not going to be long before I've finished the swimming section of the slow triathlon!

I baked for a coffee morning, only to find I'm a day early.  Here's a picture of the cookies:

The top ones have a walnut half pushed in before baking.  The cookies on the bottom tier are the same mixture with a bit more flour added.  Then rolled into balls and baked.  They were then topped with some water icing and a jelly sweet.

And, (yes, there's more of today to describe), the lovely Mrs B was a very patient teacher today.  She talked me through how to crochet a star blanket.  The only problem is that my hook is a metallic red, and it clashes horribly with the red yarn I'm using.  Thankfully the red yarn is just the centre of the blanket, and I'll be able to clash some orange against the hook soon.  

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

100 Craft Day: a new chip, and a complicated pattern

It passed me by!

It's now 128 days since I last bought yarn. This means that just over a week ago I earned my Cold Sheep 120 Days chip.   It passed me by, and I didn't even notice.

Last night I was working on a pattern called 'Dutch Windmill'.  It was going well, and I decided to draw it to make it easier to piece it together. 

It wasn't until I had drawn it out I realised that the repeat is 100 squares!  The design is really simple in concept.  There's a tessellation of purple and cream plus signs, and in each plus there's a little windmill. 

Iron May: a rest day

Four weeks ago, if anyone had said that cycling four miles would count as a 'rest day' I would have laughed and laughed. Quite a bit can change within a month!

My muscles/joints were a tad achy due to use, and horrible weather.  I've long known that the best remedy (for me) for aching joints is to take some gentle exercise.  It feels as it the movement allows my joints and muscle to work out their kinks, and be far less grumpy. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Iron May: mini triathlon

I can't express how delighted I am not to be in last place on the board!  I'm currently second last, but I can deal with this. It's far better than I had hoped for.

This morning on day 4, and having not yet exercised, I have cycled 17 miles and walked 3.  I'm right on schedule with the walking, and a bit over with cycling.  Today in my first swimming day, and I'm going to turn it into a mini-triathlon.  It starts at home with 4 miles of cycling, then a walk to the swimming pool (1 mile) and finishing with a swim.

There's a mini-challenge of a 'sprint triathlon', and I hope to be able to work up to that.  There's 400m of swimming, 10 miles cycling and 3 miles walking. 

One of the benefits of the IronMay is that I'm eating better food.  I want, crave, lots of vegetables and fruit.

100 Craft Days: A very crafty weekend

This weekend has been pretty full on.  It's been great.

Saturday started with a trip to Peel for the WOSAT festival of arts.  We met with Nicola Dixon, a wonderful Manx artist, and we bought a few tiny paintings and a large print.  These are going into my new craft room (it doubles as a dining room when needed).

Another artist's work we bought was Juan Moore.  The one that really took my fancy was a sepia water colour of a giant walking nose with a hankie.  When I was in my teens my parents could tell when I had wakened by the sneezing.  
My elder offsping has the same thing.  «sneeze» Ah, H has just woken.

Saturday also included a trip to Sweet Ginger.

This was primarily to buy fabric for C's blanket, but also to buy some new fat quarters for the Friendship Blankets we started at Messy Church.  I've managed to make 6 little lap blankets.  These will be given to people in the church family would would love to get along to church, but aren't able to do so. 
The crafty road trip concluded with a stop at Joan's Wools and Crafts.    

A few more fat quarters were purchased, as was a wad of fleece for backing C's blanket.

It was rather touch and go whether I would be able to get all the blankets finished for the Sunday service, but they were.  The minister invited me up to help explain what they were about, and was asking questions about Messy Church.  Six people who had been involved in the making of the Friendship Blankets came up to the front to hold them up so everyone could see.

At coffee time afterwards, one person asked that we do not stop with the blankets, and make more as people's situations change.  Another person said she would be very happy to get involved with the blanket construction.  Children and arty/craftsy adults said they would be happy to make more squares for future blankets.  I'm delighted.


Saturday, May 2, 2015

Iron May: Top of the Leaderboard

I was the top of the Iron May Leaderboard for a whole 14 minutes.  Then my crazy friend came and pushed me off the top slot!

The relative rankings appear to be worked on how much of each stage of the triathlon a person has completed.  One mile of swimming counts for far more than one of walking/running, which weights heavier than cycling.  The swimmer of the mile would have completed 42% of the swim,  the marathon-er, almost 4% and the cyclist would be pootling along  at less than 1%.

So far, I've managed 8 miles of cycling, and 1 of walking.  After posting this I'm going to get in another mile of walking.

100 Crafty Days: Cooking up a storm in the kitchen

Yesterday was a high successful day with regards to the kitchen. Creative chaos was perpetrated, and deemed extremely tasty.

First up was apple and cinnamon pancakes at breakfast time. 

At dinner time I was inspired by a tale of a glorious Cottage Pie. The idea of a meat dish being topped with potatoes stayed in my mine.  My chicken dish started out with two onions sautéing in a pan.  When they has been softened, chopped garlic was added.  A few minutes later stock joined them, along with cream cheese and then end of a lump of Stilton.  Water was also added until it all looked saucy.

At this point diced chicken, sweetcorn, broccoli florets and sliced courgettes joined the sauce.  This was transferred to an oven-proof dish, and was finished off by adding sliced potatoes to the top, which were brushed with a little butter.  It was left in the oven until the tops of the potatoes were a beautiful golden brown and everything was hot and smelling fantastic.

The day was rounded off by 'apple roses' - apple slices tucked into a dough (gluten-free shortbread for me) and arranged in such a way as to look like a rose. The roses tasted fantastic, but a great deal can be done to improve them. Three big things come to mind. Use a softer dough. Cook the apple slices for longer - this makes them far more flexible, and this is required. And lastly, line the bottom of muffin tray. I buttered it, and that was not enough. The roses look good in the tray, but not so good when hacked around when I try to remove them!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Iron May, or A Slow Triathlon

One of my friends has roped me into taking part in a 'slow triathlon'.  Normally a triathlon is completed with a 17 hour window.  With the slow version you still swim 2.4 miles, cycle 112 miles and walk/run a marathon, but instead this being confined to 17 hours, you have the whole of May to do this.

Today, being the first of May, saw the start of the slow triathlon.  At 6am I was up on my exercise bike for 17 minutes.  The Iron May Challenge rates this as a 4 and a 1/4 mile cycle ride.  Having been ill recently, I know that the chances of this being accurate are small.  My pace will be picking up as my health improves, and as the month goes on. Tonight I shall walk my first daily 1 mile walk.

My goal is complete the challenge by breaking down the cycling and walking into daily chunks.  The swimming will happen in bigger chunks.

100 Crafty Days: an update

One of the most important things I have learned from this experiment is that don't just suck at giving daily updates, but I truly, truly suck at it.

Since my last post, almost a week ago, the knitting on the cardigan has been finished and it has been blocked.  Now it's time to add the crocheted edging, and then add the decoration.

I've also been playing with watercolours, and am part way through a paper and watercolour picture of a sunset at Peel Castle.

On the baking front, I'm adapted my great-grandma's recipe for Scottish pancakes.  Out goes the refined sugar, and instead in comes apple sauce, apple juice and cinnamon.  These pancakes are now gluten-free and dairy-free, but they still taste good. :o)

The recipe is:
2 cups of self-raising gluten-free flour (eg Dove Farm)
1 egg
1 heaped tablespoon of apple sauce
1/2 level teaspoon of cinnamon
about 2 cups of apple juice.

Mix the ingredients, and then pour some of the pancake batter onto a warm, but not hot, non-stick pan.  When there's lots of bubbles all a- bubbling, turn the pancake and cook the other side.

My family has enjoyed them with butter, and also Nutella.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

100 Crafty Days: Blankie Time

At Messy Church today we were making Friendship Blankets.  People drew their design on squares of white fabric, and these squares were sewn together and backed with fleece.  The blankets will be given to people who would love to be able to come to church but can't.

Crafting for others can be a sign of friendship and of love.  It takes time to make things, and it shows the person that you want to spend your time making for them.

100 Crafty Days, quite a number of them!

I was supposed to write each day about my crafting and my thoughts on it.  And, as you can see, I didn't even make it to the one week mark!  This last week has been so very busy.  The only time there wasn't something happening was Thursday evening.

It might be reasonable to expect that with a free evening I would be rather crafty, but no.  All the other days I managed to knit a chunk of the cardigan, but on Thursday all that was accomplished were 12 stitches.  Twelve whole stitches! 

Yesterday was Day 10.  And, for the first time, no knitting was done! 

As I was walking home from work I saw some guys re-roofing a building.  To one side were some hugely long pieces of wood, and to the other side, offcuts.  A number of these offcuts are taller than me.  I had been offered some strawberry plants and thought that the offcuts might make a good strawberry container.  The guys very kindly said 'Yes' to my request for offcuts.

My crafting yesterday was cerebral.  I spent time planning how the strawberry planter will be constructed, and then went to buy the supplies needed.  The actual construction will be done almost by proxy.  I will draw up plans, mark the wood, and where it should be screwed together.  The Beloved will do the actual cutting and construction, and I will be his 'chippy's mate. 

Oh, I've just realised we have some green wood stain.  That would look nice on it!

Monday, April 20, 2015

100 Crafty Days: Day 6

Two very different activities today, gardening and baking.  Oh, a bit of knitting got knut.

After planting a new rhubarb plant my hands and nails were absolutely filthy!  To get those hand ready for baking I washed them, then the dishes,  and some handknitted socks, and then scrubbed them again!

A sponge cake was made, and tomorrow cream and strawberries will be added.

Oh, a bit of knitting got knut.

It was whilst the cake was being mixed I realised that I hadn't used a recipe.  I do seem to have been making a number of cakes recently.  This is one that was made earlier this month.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

100 Crafty Days: Day 5

A very short post tonight.

I want a goat.  Sadly goats don't like to be alone, so I need a pair at the very least.

Today my yarny group visited a goat farm.  They had Boer goats and Angora.  Both were wonderful.  It has left me with a hankering after a goat.

And knitting on the cardigan happened.  Goat!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

100 Crafty Days: 3 and 4

Two days filled with craft!  My own crafting has continued on the baby cardigan.

On Friday evening a group of crafters met up with Norwegian crafters over on the Island for a holiday.  There was coffee, cake and crafting.  It was a truly delightful evening sharing with them.

Today, Saturday has been very busy!  There was  a craft fayre in Sulby with loads of different items for sale, and some crafts being demonstrated.  I was talking with a Ken who works in willow, and he very kindly gave me some willow to make into some climbing structures for sweetpeas. The demonstrated crafts were wood craving, willow weaving, signs made by wood carving, stone painting, latched rug making, spinning, and metal striking. 

Nicola Dixon was there too, and I have decided to buy one of her prints.  Her work is beautiful.  I also loved the rug making using locks from a fleece.  

I have been inspired  to make a stone cactus decoration, and also the support structures for sweetpeas.  But this cardigan needs to be finished first.

100 Craft Days: Day 2

Being crafty doesn't always translate into being able to write about it! The work continues on the raglan baby cardigan.

My Mam is a very crafty person, as was my Grandma and Great-Grandma.  When I was four I badgered them to teach me to knit, and they did.  With three experts around, and also a Daddy and Grandpa who could knit, I learned quickly and there was always someone who could help.

As an adult looking back, I think of my grandparents and my Great-Grandma with great love and affection.  Daily, they showed me  the importance of work and  spending time getting things right.  They also instilled within me the idea that if you love someone you spend time on that relationship. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

First Day of Craftiness

To start things off, I am engaging in one of the crafts I am most at home with, knitting.

I grew up surrounded by knitters.  Everyone I knew could knit, Mam, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, Great-Grandma, aunts, everyone.  At the age of 4 I picked up needles and asked to be taught how to knit.  

This project is a top-down, v-neck, raglan cardigan for a baby.  The yarn was bought at Sweet Ginger and came from the £1 bin.  It  is 'Lilac Blossom' and is a beautifully soft Merino yarn from Millamia.

The raglan section is worked by using yarn overs and the knitted increases I have used are Lifted Right Increase, and Lifted Left Increase.  Social Knit Girl has made an excellent demonstration of these increases. If you are not familiar with these increases do have a look, or feel free to substitute your preferred increases.

Using 3mm needle, cast on 38 sts.  Knit 2 rows of stocking stitch.

1.  K1, lri, yo, k1, yo, k2, yo, k1, yo, k26, yo, k1, yo, k2, yo, k1, yo, lli, k1
2.  Purl (and every even row)
3.  K1, lri, k2, yo, k1, yo, k4, yo, k1, yo, k28, yo, k1, yo, k4, yo, k1, yo, k2, lli, k1
5.  K1, lri, k4, yo, k1, yo, k6, yo, k1, yo, k30, yo, k1, yo, k6, yo, k1, yo, k4, lli, k1
7.  K1, lri, k4, yo, k1, yo, k6, yo, k1, yo, k30, yo, k1, yo, k6, yo, k1, yo, k4, lli, k1

Continue in this manner until the work measures X cm from the middle of the back.  

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

100 Crafty Days

A friend was blogging about her involvement in the 100 Days Project.  Initially I had thought it was to try 100 different things, and this rather appealed to me.  However, the idea is to repeat a simple creative task every day for 100 days and record each days effort.

At the moment I can't see myself being about to do this, so I've changed it up a bit into  "100 Crafty Days".  With this, you do something crafty each day for 100 days, and record it.  This will give me a chance to include knitting, crochet, baking, quilting and other random things.  The crafting can be a one-off item or can extend over days or even weeks.

Dry January

It was a wild success!  No fizzy drinks passed my lips in January, and this has had a knock-on effect.  My consumption of carbonate beverages has been reduced radically.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

'Dry January'

It's now 18 days since my last Coke. My eyes have been trained to simply glide passed those little bottles and cans of loveliness.  The more Coke I drink, the more Coke I want to drink.  However, when I stop drinking it the desire dwindles.  

I have been wondering if the same might be true for crisps.  If I don't eat them will my desire decrease?  It seems there is some truth in it.  This month I'm concentrating on 'No Coke', but I've also had a week free from crisps.  Me thinks that next month I will make into a 'No Coke, No Crisps' month.

I've done this before, and the weight gently slid off me, little by little.  This new year feels like a good time to make one healthy change each month.

- - - - -

In other news, the first two projects of 2015 have been completed!  The first was a new small shawl for myself, and the second a hat for charity.  Last year many hats were made, and it was a great way to use up stash.  I don't know quite what happened, but my stash seems just as big this year.  Actually I do know what happened.  I bought yarn to replace it, and was given yarn as gifts.

This year is a Cold Sheep year.  I am not buying yarn.  Everything will be knitted from stash.  The only exception will be if I am commissioned to make an item.  They will need to provide me with the yarn.  

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Day 6 and going strong!

My health isn't the best at the moment, and I'm very tired a great deal of the time.  However, I'm still 'dry' - no Coke has passed by lips since the turn of the year, and I managed to avoid yarn shops.

French learning has taken a bit of a back seat whilst I am unwell, but as this is a year long goal, I don't feel I have to be doing it each and every day. 

Today is the day we started taking down our Christmas tree and decorations.  It's also the day when I start putting the sitting room to rights again.  

I've tried to be sensible and tackle jobs that are achievable within my limited means to expend energy.  It's good being able to get one area done, and know there will be time (and energy) tomorrow to expand the area of 'domination'.  My  plan is to get one area into the state it should be, and each day expand a little whilst maintaining what has already been done. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

Day 2 and the Resolutions are still in place!

French has been spoken, exercise taken, no yarn bought and no Coke drunk.  This is going well.  I am fully capable of sticking to my resolutions for a day.  It might be an idea to make daily resolutions. :o)

The sweater for H was restarted last night.  This is based on a short-sleeved top she saw in a charity shop.  She loves the pattern, and most of the design.  The brief was to make one in a greeny blue that would reach almost to the knuckles, and fit nicely.  H is a crafter, designer and maker.  She understands what is possible, and what her Mammy is capable of.

To keep the shaping consistent on both sleeves I am knitting them at the same time.  The yarn is Scheepjes Stone Washed. It is a cotton and acrylic mix and feels very lovely.  The colour is Green Agate, and it was bought from Deramores.


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Welcome to 2015

A very warm welcome to 2015.

There have been many changes in my life of late, but the great majority of them have been tiny, incremental changes.  They have lead me to a happier, healthier me, and I so want this to continue.

This year I have made a few New Year's Resolutions.  The first is to re-learn French and the second is to be healthier in 2015 than I was in 2014.  

There's also a 'cold sheep' challenge - I will not be buying any more yarn until Easter.  I wanted to say 'this year', but that seems to be far to big a challenge.  I know I can last until Easter, and then, I hope I will be able to continue it on until the summer.  There are two exceptions to the 'no new yarn' rules.  The first is that if I need more yarn to complete the sweater I am making for my daughter, I will buy it.  The second is that yarn can be bought for commissions.

The last resolution is to have a 'dry January.  This challenge was orginally not to drink any alcohol during the first month of the year.  That is no challenge to me at all as I don't drink alcohol.  However, my consumption of Coke has increased greatly over the last couple of months.  My version of 'dry' means 'No Coke'.

And with that, I'm off to do a bit of cycling. My health has improved year on year these last couple of years, and I want it to continue!