Wednesday, 31 March 2010


Oooh - today I got a parcel! A rather special parcel, courtesy of Debbie from Dreaming of a Simple Life. We were swap partners in Dolly Dollop's colour swap and I chose denim blue as my fave colour. And as you can see, Debbie has sent me some really lovely things. I love the lacy mat, I think it could be one of her vintage finds. Some crafty ribbons, some cornflower seeds (lovely idea!), a spotty pen, some choccy and did you spot the card? Very appropriate!

And a rather interesting piece of fabric there with irons and teapots and kitcheny gadgets on. Hmm, what shall I use that for?

Also, this lovely tea cosy, handmade of course. And perhaps the piece-de-resistance - this beautifully crocheted cushion, which I assume Debbie made herself - must have taken her ages.

So a big THANK YOU to Debbie - she put lots of extras in there as we were only supposed to swap 5 items, so thanks again for the gifts.

Meanwhile, I've been frantically trying to finish the boy's jumper. Here it is being blocked (on the bed!). I have to admit that it's the first time I've ever blocked anything and what a surprise - when I took the pins out it stayed in shape! Blinking marvellous. I want to finish it before the weekend away because it's freeeeeezing, isn't it? It's actually been SNOWING here today, all day long, not to mention the non-stop rain we've had all week.

Even for 5 days away, the preparations are endless, aren't they? Washing, ironing, airing and packing of clothes. Planning, preparing and packing of picnic/snacks for journey. Presents of the chocolate variety. Cameras, phones and all sort of chargers - don't forget. Music for the car. A full tank and off we go.

The boy will get a nice surprise on Good Friday morning as we set off - his car 'activity' centre is finished, complete with a steering wheel (not shown), binoculars, colouring books, sticker books, pens, and cars. Let's see how long that keeps him going for!

Wishing you all a very chocolately Easter - I'll be back after the break xx

Sunday, 28 March 2010

The Allotment

So here we are on our new allotment. It's actually a piece of land that a friend has let us have, in his garden, next to his turkeys, chickens, ducks, bees and pigs ... here's George ...

His 'partner' Mildred is expecting their first litter of piglets on Easter Saturday. Ahhh. Actually, we also have a half share in all these animals.

And here is me, planting up my seeds for the very first time ever. I have to say that, for years, I've fancied growing my own veg and living the 'good life' but have been completely clueless as to how to start out on this mission. However, now that we have managed to secure a plot with our friends - who actually know what they're doing (she grew up on a farm) - it turns out to be easy peasy!!

All you do is buy some compost and some trays, like these (below), then get some seeds and put them in! And water them. We splashed out 20 quid on a pop-up greenhouse too. You just keep them in there until the little sprigs appear and then you can take them out for a week or two to 'harden' them off before putting them in the ground.

I sowed (no, not that kind!) leeks, parsnips, courgettes, cucumbers, pumpkins (the boy insisted), purple sprouting broccoli, spinach, onions, sweetcorn - think that's it - oh and the carrots and potatoes go straight in the ground. I've also got some pots to put some herbs in, for the back garden.

And this is our patch (the one at the back).

This was yesterday, but today we started digging it over and preparing it for the seedlings. Ooooh - it's quite exciting really and has made me all of a sudden want to cook! Just imagine, cycling down to the plot in the summer, picking some veg and then coming home and cooking with it! Just call me Jamie Oliver ;)

Now, I would just like to say that my computer asked me if I'd like to change browser, and stupidly I said yes, and now I can't do all the things I used to do. Arrggggh! I don't know how to move my pictures around my blog anymore. MOST annoying. Do not ask me why this picture is to the left. I do not know. But anyway, it's the pop-up greenhouse, full of our seed trays.

I shall try to figure out what is going on in my corner of cyberspace before I return. Honestly. WHY can't they just leave things as they are?

Friday, 26 March 2010

End of Term

Can't believe it's the last day of term today - where does the time go? Since the boy started school, the time just whizzes by - half term, then hols, then half term again. He'll be 5 next month! Where did my baby go?

Anyway. In amongst all the thinking I've been doing this week, I have managed to make 2 dresses.

Well, the blue one isn't finished yet - just needs the frill. They are sort of pinafore/tunic dresses, and I actually wore the purple one yesterday for lunch with the girls. The blue one is a sort of linen mix and a bit more casual than the purple.

Have also ploughed on with the boy's jumper. The yarn is the Debblie Bliss aran and it's beautiful to knit with, although I have had more than a few knots in the yarn. Not good. Am hoping to get it finished for his Easter break, although goodness knows what the weather will be like. It's been wet, wet, wet all week here, although I know it's been glorious in the south.
I have finished my colour swap package! Hurray. Just need to parcel up and send off to the lovely lady behind Dreaming of the Simple Life. We are both taking part in Dolly Dollop's colour swap - we had to choose our favourite colour and then send 5 items by the end of March. Of course, I can't show you what I'm sending yet - but hopefully next week I will be able to reveal!
Okay, I must away to attach that frill whilst I still have chance (i.e. with no small hands getting in the way).

Monday, 22 March 2010

Thinking Cap On

Well I have to admit that the last week has not been terribly creative - at least on the making things side. Instead, my mind has been occupied by various ideas. Am thinking about having an etsy shop. Soooo many friends have said to me, why don't you sell your stuff, but I've always shied away with various excuses. However, I am now giving it some serious thought. I don't expect there's much money to be made, realistically, but it might pay for my obsession and thus remove the guilt every time I buy some lovely wool or fabric. Hmmmm.

Meanwhile, I've had a couple of offers, completely out of the blue. The local BBC radio station have asked me to write a diary for 5 days, just about every day life, to be recorded by me and broadcast on BBC Radio Cumbria. Sounds fun - but it's quite hard to pack a day into 45 seconds and still make it interesting and even, hopefully, witty. Will keep you posted on progress.

And secondly, my husband is currently converting a very large house into a B&B - they're having 4 new en-suite bedrooms put in - and hubby has volunteered me to advise on colour schemes, with a view to making the curtains and cushions, etc. Am somewhat daunted by the idea, but on the other hand it will give me a chance to try my hand at a spot of interior design, which might be fun.

So a couple of things there that were really unexpected and have somewhat thrown me off course a little. Luckily, my son has brought me down to earth with a bump. Yesterday was the fundraising Table Top Sale for his school and as I was manning a stall, we got there early. After one hour, my son had managed to accumulate 3 bags FULL of tat - sorry - toys, including this rather lovely statue that he bought for me:

Isn't it gorgeous? To say I was speechless would be an understatement. There is so much I could read into this but I dare not. He proudly told me that he paid 10p for it - again, laugh or cry? As my friend pointed out (after she'd recovered from hysterics), I will now have to display it in the house. I'm still speechless.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Pay it forward

Don't you just love blogging? Yesterday I had a lovely comment from a lady called Meream and so of course I took a look at her blog. She is into all things sewing and creative and lives in the Phillipines - it's so funny to think of people all over the world, sat creating at their machines, don't you think? Anyhow, she had this brilliant idea for a pin cushion tied to your sewing machine - like, doh! - why are all the brilliant ideas the simplest? I literally had to race upstairs and make one, there and then.

And then of course I was all set to make cushion no.2 (above). I am a bit of a hearts addict, I'm afraid, in true country cottage style, so a heart cushion was a certainty. The pictures, as usual, don't really do it justice because you can't really see the red border. I just did the simple envelope button back again, edged in red.

So here are my 2 cushions in 2 days.
But today I fear it's a housework day. The way I do it is blitz it all in one day and then have the rest of the week free - simples! However, I saw a programme on BBC4 last night called Women, which was supposed to be all about feminism, but wasn't. It was just a series of interviews with couples about who does the housework - I'll give you 3 guesses as to who does the most. Anyway, one lady had about 4 kids and was Super HouseWife. She not only planned every meal (including breakfast) but actually TYPED it out into a SPREADSHEET. I was, at once, full of admiration and horror. She also had specific days for each of the household tasks, e.g. wash towells on Monday, wash sheets on Tuesday, dusting on Wednesday, etc. Now that did freak me out a bit. Surely any sane person just looks in the basket and pulls out whatever is in there?
Then again, I bet she never finds herself in the position I am in this morning - in need of an urgent haircut. I expect she has regular, 6 week appointments scheduled in advance for every head in her house. You see there's part of me that craves this sort of organisation and another part of me that refuses point blank to have any part in it at all. I think that bit's the sane bit ... or is it ...?

Monday, 15 March 2010

The lady and the Revamp

Well having said that I was all set to re-vamp my kitchen cushions, the first thing I did was go straight upstairs and start to make the above. Which is clearly not a cushion.

It's a needle roll for my knitting needles! I've been wanting to make one of these for ages, mainly because I drive myself batty everytime I try to find the correct needles, and also because I never know whether I've got the needles I need when I'm buying new wool. So - hey presto - problems solved.

And then yesterday, on Mother's Day, after I'd recovered from the card and the breakfast in bed (ahhh!), I suddenly got it into my head that my sewing area needed a revamp. As you may know, I use the corner of a bedroom and it's a struggle to get the balance between a functional sewing corner and a neat bedroom. I threw the question out for discussion to hubby and his immediate answer was book shelves. DOH! Why didn't I think of that?

With nice, neat baskets to make it all look organised. One trip to Homebase and the transformation was complete!
Now - did you spy these fabrics on the desk (above)? I have to admit to purchasing these on Saturday as - yes - I still had the kitchen revamp in mind.

These are the current, rather uninspiring, shot-bought cushions on the window seat. Dull, dull, dull. I was going to go for spring greens and pinks, but then realised I'd have to change the entire colour scheme of the kitchen (rug and all) and decided that was a bit OTT. So I just went for light, floral fabrics on the red/cream scale. And here is my first one:

It only took a couple of hours from start to finish, yesterday, even with the piping and an envelope button back. Sometimes I wonder why I leave the simplest projects till last.

Now, the little shop where I bought these fabrics is, in fact, on a farm! Yes, in true Cumbrian country style, it's a farm AND a rather lovely fabric shop which also runs sewing and knitting courses. Talk about a little gem. Whilst in the shop I spied a jelly roll. Have you ever used a jelly roll? I have always wondered what they're about - apparently, they are just rolls of different fabrics, roughly 40 inches long x 2.5" wide and you use them for patchwork. The one I had my eye on was reds/blues/denims and would make a perfect quilt for the boy's bedroom. And only £26! And you do seem to get masses of material so I'm thinking it's a bit of a bargain. I did resist buying it, as I have these cushions to make first, but I may just have to go back and snaffle it up :)

Friday, 12 March 2010

Spring makeover

I blame it on the housey mags that I just CANNOT stop buying. All those lovely Spring pictures of pinks and greens and yellows and everything looking sunny and jolly and ... Spring like. I saw some bunting and thought - YES - bunting for the cousins! So off I went to chop up my dwindling stash of colourful fabrics to do them some personalised bunting each. Crikey - it's only now I realise how long their names are! Mind you I did cheat a bit by using the old pinking shears instead of hemming them properly.

And now I am thinking perhaps a little makeover is in order in the kitchen/diner - this is the dining area:

You see how it's all reds and golds - CHRISTMASSY - in other words. And the cushions on the window seat have always annoyed me because I bought them and although they were the best I could find at the time, to fill a gap, but I really don't like them. Of course, I have always meant to make my own but you know how it is with time flying, etc.

Wouldn't it be nice to be the sort of person who changes cushion covers with the changing of the seasons - bright and airy for summer and warm and cosy for Chrimbo? As you know, I am a secret Bree Van Der Kampf (from Desperate Housewives - she puts Martha Stewart to shame). Another fantasy of mine is to own an Armoire - one of those wardrobes with shelves and glass door panels - and fill it with lavender scented laundry all tied up in bundles (with ribbons) and patchwork quilts. Sadly, there is no room in our cottage to put one as we have slopey ceilings in bedrooms and no 'landing' as such. Believe me, I have tried to suggest moving walls and windows - ha ha, very funny. The only possible spot is in the kitchen (where the little table is, bottom right of above picture) - but even I draw the line at laundry smelling of bacon sandwiches. Hey ho.

Well we are off to see Alice in Wonderland in 3D tonight. It was hubby's choice, for his birthday, but I cannot say I am too upset at the prospect of Johnny Depp in 3D ;) Ahhh. I shall leave you with that rather lovely thought.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Getting organised

So last week at my sewing class, when I was making the toy bag, my teacher suggested making hanging pockets for the car seat - you put them over the back of the front passenger seat and fill with activities, so that small boy can keep amused for long journeys. Et Voila! As we are going on a very long journey at Easter, I thought I'd whip one up. I put little dowling rods in the top and bottom to keep its shape, and then just added pockets. It's not quite finished yet - I think another pocket top right with a small pad in, plus the addition of a long strap, buttoned to the front. On the end of this strap will be a steering wheel - yes, the boy has been watching too much Simpsons and now wants one like Maggie has in the opening credits! You try finding one in the shops (or online)!! Talk about mission impossible. In the end, I've got a very basic wheel - no fancy dashboard or bells and whistles - so that I can attach a strap to it and it can be part of the pockets.

In the big pocket is a sticker book and a chalk board book - a great little thing that has blackboards in it so that he can chalk and wipe off. The top left pocket has some binoculars - perfect for spotting Steady Eddies (Eddie Stobart vans!).

Meanwhile, I've been preparing some goody bags for the 4 cousins who will be together at Easter. Inside these are:

a pair of these:
some of these:

plus a pad and pen, lots of chocolate and - most importantly - the 2 eldest have a ball of wool and some knitting needles and the 2 youngest have a french knitting bobbin and some wool! Yes, I am planning on teaching them how to knit!! Should be fun, given they are 4, 5, 7 and 10! (nb: my son is one of the 4 and no, he will not be getting hairslides - I thought he may just prefer a cuddly dinosaur).

Well, hubby's birthday today. A cake is being prepared and an 'outing' planned to see Alice in Wonderland, on Friday. Well, wouldn't want to interfere with my sewing class tonight, would we ...

Friday, 5 March 2010

I used to be indecisive ...

So, last night I was trying to watch telly and knit the above cable loveliness at the same time. Uh-oh. No can do. Too much concentration required on the knitting to make this a good option really. So I decided that this is obviously going to be a long project, perhaps only to be undertaken when my full attention is given. Therefore, I thought, why not go to your (new) favourite wool shop and get some wool for a jumper for the boy (from new Debblie Bliss book)? Hee hee. Sounds like fun.

Firstly, they didn't have any of the correct yarns (I had 2 patterns up my sleeve to choose from), which was a tad annoying. However. Still a whole shopfull of glorious yarns to go at, I thought, so don't worry. But then I had to start examining ball bands to find the correct match in terms of tension. And then I had to choose a colour. And preferably a colour with enough balls of yarn left in the shop. And then I got that feeling - that mid-buying-panicy feeling - where no decision has been made, but there are lots of options, each of them requiring some sort of compromise. At one point, I was even contemplating knitting myself a cotton cardigan. Confusion! Oh dear. I was in there nearly an hour in the end - the poor woman obviously thought I was bonkers - "I'll do the cardi in pink, I think" (off she goes to get the pink) "Hang on, no, no I'll do the kid's jumper in green actually" (not enough balls) "oh in that case, I'll do the cardi in blue then -although, hang on ..." I did keep reassuring her that I would definitely be buying something, if only I could decide what. In the end, I managed to make a rational decision - a jumper for the boy is what I set out to do and that is what I am going to do - so this is the winning yarn:

It's actually a lovely mid-sea green/blue - the sort of colour that goes with chocolate brown and also denims. The compromise here was that it's an Aran weight - not the best choice for summer, granted, but it is soooooo soft and snuggly that I figured he'd love it anyway (he's a sucker for anything cuddly). Crikey. I'm so glad I did the food shopping first because I don't think I could have made one more decision, even if it was between green or red apples.

Moving on. This is what I made at my sewing class on Wednesday. It's a toy bag, to be used mainly when we go to granny and grandad's, or on holiday. Big enough for as many trucks, cars, tractors and vehicles of any description that he can possibly lay his hands on.

Actually we are going away at Easter to meet up with his cousins, so that was the main inspiration. All his cousins are girls and I just can't resist making some bits and pieces for them. They will each get a pair of the fingerless wrist-warmers, plus these:

Aren't they cute? Just made from felt, sewn onto hair grips. I thought I'd make them a little drawstring bag to put the goodies in (plus chocolate eggs, etc) and then, on the way to the wool shop, I had a bit of a brainwave. Why not put some knitting needles and a ball of chunky yarn in there? Their mothers are hopeless at any kind of handicrafts and if we're all stuck for something to do over the Easter weekend I could teach them how to knit!! You never know, one of them might just love it forever.

And here, as promised, is the living embodiment of a bottle of ketchup. It's World Book Day today and his favourite book is called "Ketchup on your Cornflakes" - hence the bowl of cornflakes too.

He was up at 6.30, desperate to go to school! This is the only picture of him not pulling a face or deliberately looking goofy - it's all or nothing with them, isn't it?
Happy weekend, folks xox

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

All about the Bag

So this:

is my version of this:

... the lovely Debblie Bliss pattern from my new book, Junior Knits. As you can see, I made a few adaptions as I was using yarn I already had, instead of buying new (mainly because I just couldn't wait). You were supposed to knit the lining in a constrasting colour, but instead I just made a lining out of some spotty fabric and hand stitched it in:

Again, the purple I used is actually a much nicer colour than it looks here. This was so easy to knit and I'd definitely do it again, perhaps with the correct yarn this time as I really do love that pink. It's quite a substantial bag, which can stand up on its own, due to the superchunky yarn used.

It's for an Easter birthday girl, so I think I'll put some little eggs in there.

Meanwhile, I have started Spring Cleaning ... well, actually, I've just put the kitchen curtains in the washing machine but it's a start, isn't it? I MAY, may, just attack the cooker today - we have one of those range cookers, like an Aga but not an Aga, which is great apart from the fact that they do get utterly filthy because they are permanently hot and so grease sticks and then the dust sticks on top of that. It requires a special cleaner and some green baze and a fairly light touch, so as not to take off the layer of enamel. And patience ... lots of patience.

Thankfully, you cannot see the full horror of the situation here, but believe me, it needs a damn good clean. Oh joy:)

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

It's a Mystery

Another beauuuutiful day here, today. This is the view from the bedroom window - you could (if you had a magnifying glass) just about make out snow still on the mountains, but the sky is so blue, it really doesn't matter. The building that you can just about make out through the trees (top right'ish) is my son's school - I know, how lucky? He can see his bedroom window from the playground.

Well the Tomato Ketchup costume is finished. Like the donut that I am, I completely forgot to take his pic in it, so here it is layed out on a (rather crumpled) bed.

This is the top of the ketchup bottle:

The boy keeps taking the hat off and leaning over and saying "squirt, squirt".
Now. Something totally bizarre happened yesterday. There I was in my sewing corner. I had just finished knitting the boy's first wrist warmer, put my needles down, turned round and sewed up the seam. I turned back round to cast on the second glove and - hang on - WHERE has my needle gone? I looked under my chair, on my desk, on the window sill - NOWHERE to be seen. Completely. Vanished. Half and hour later and I STILL had not found it and I STILL have not found it today. Very, very strange. I had not moved from my seat and it has somehow managed to walk away from me. When I told hubby about this, in a sort of half-shreaky voice, he just shrugged and said it happens to him all the time at work - he puts down a tool, turns round and it's gone. Of course, there are other people around him so it's obvious that someone else usually takes it. But I was alone. All alone. Or was I? ...
Talking of husbands. Mine is a builder, God love him. Which means he wears builder's boots. Which means that when he comes through the door I say hello, give him a kiss, and then immediately check out his boots for mud. Sometimes, he pops home in the middle of the day and if I'm upstairs I shout 'Hello' and then 'Boots!' because I know he will be striding across the kitchen deposting large clumps of the brown stuff all over the floor. 9 times out of 10 he will reply 'They're clean' - !!!!! - what a LIE! - and then he'll turn round and say 'oh ... sorry'. ARGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!
This morning, I actually mopped the floor so that it was all shiny and new. And half an hour later the clumps of mud had returned.
You know, I was contemplating Spring cleaning, but there is a part of me that thinks WHAT'S THE POINT?
Okay. Deep breaths. I can do this.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Spring is in the Air!

Good Morning All! And Happy Dewi Sant (to all the Welshies, me included)! What a gloooooorious day it is here today - bright blue skies, wonderful sunshine - in fact, if it wasn't for the fact that there's still a chill in the air, it could be a summer's day. Absolutely fabulous (dahling). But how to celebrate? Get as many loads of washing out on the line as possible, of course! At this rate, I may even see the bottom of the basket.

Well here is my February page. I am finding this a really nice project - a good way of remembering what we've been doing each month and a record of all my projects, too. It will be so nice to look back over the year and remember what we've done.

This weekend we had a day in my favourite local town - Kendal. I love Kendal - it's a large market town with lots and lots of lovely little shops, as well as all the big ones. And lo and behold, the answer to all my prayers - a NEW ROWAN SHOP!! Can you believe it? The most beautiful wool shop I have seen for ages, full of every single Rowan yarn you can imagine, plus the full Debblie Bliss range and lots of other luxury yarns. I mean, hellow? Talk about heaven for moi. I was even allowed a child-free hour, on my own, just to marvel at the place. Of course, a purchase was made, although it was extremely difficult to know where to start. In the end, I went for a Debblie Bliss book - Junior Knits, I think it's called - with 25 beauuuutiful kid's knits. I also bought some Debblie Bliss yarn and by Saturday night I had already knitted these:

Wrist Warmers! Modelled by my boy, but they are in fact not for him (he was most put out), as they are in, what I consider to be, girl's colours and I did have some girls in mind when I made them. (Don't worry, I shall run him up a pair!). Fab, aren't they?
Next on the list is this utterly, utterly delicious bag:
I've already started it, although not in the correct yarn, just in some purple chunky that I had spare:

It's a much nicer purple that it looks, by the way. You are supposed to knit the lining too, but I thought I'd line it with some girlie fabric instead. It's for a birthday present for a 7 year old cousin. Yes, yes, I know I have a BOY, but the girl's stuff is just so lovely and I can't resist it. But he will get his fare share - there's some lovely jumpers in there and a rather fetching gillet, too.

Meanwhile, I have started my cable cardigan. Seeing as I spent so much on the Rowan yarn, I did my tension square:

which was perfecto, so off I started on the sleeve:

It's slow going, I'm afraid, as I have to follow a chart, which requires concentration. But I love doing it - I just love seeing how it all turns out.

Oh, I finished the other cable cardi, by the way:

Although I love the pattern, I'm not very impressed with the finished result because of the yarn. It was cheap yarn, really - only 2 quid a ball - and I think it lets it down. The ball band said strictly DO NOT PRESS, which I completely ignored, but it made absolutely no difference anyway. It's not a very uniform finish - sort of holey. However, I will wear it in the summer, I expect. But it has taught me a good lesson - never skimp on your yarn! Really, if you're going to put all the effort into making a garment, it makes sense to use the best, does it not? (can you see how I am effortlessly justifying my recent splurges on expensive yarn?)
Yesterday, I spent the day making a costume - yes, it's dress up day (again) at school. This time it's for World Book Day and I DO NOT want to be caught out again. They have to go as their favourite character from a book - guess what the boy's favourite book is? "Ketchup on your Cornflakes". Yeah. Exactly. But I am not going to be defeated by this. He is going as a bottle of Ketchup. At first I thought, large piece of cardboard strapped to his front. Then - brainwave - why not make it an apron, then he can use it again? Bloody marvellous idea. With a white hat for the lid. I shall reveal all tomorrow ... it's not quite finished yet, but I am already bathing in smugness ;)

By the way, this is George. George is half owned by my husband. I'm not sure which half he owns. He and his business partner have some pigs, some chickens, ducks and bees - yes, bees - in a sort of half-hearted attempt at the Good Life. His wife is called Mildred (naturally). He is rather lovely, actually. You can put your hand flat on his snout and it's all wet, like a giant dog's nose!! George is a stud and we are waiting to see whether he has managed to impregnate Mildred. It's doubtful, as she bites him every time he comes near. Poor George. Still, he's better off than his siblings - but they were extremely tastey.