art, cats, craft, knitting, travel, Uncategorized

30 Day Knitting Challenge – Days 11-16

Unfortunately I had to go away with work unexpectedly for a few days and therefore have to catch up now on my 30 Day Knitting Challenge.

Day 11: Do you have a “Knitter Hero” or someone that is just way too awesome for their own good? Do share!

My knitty heroine is Lauren O’Farrell AKA Deadly Knitshade – a graffiti knitting artist with a fabulous sense of humour, she also loves cats, so what’s not to like!?

This is one of my many favourite pieces…  A Phone Box cosy from her book Knit the City.

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Day 12: Where do you keep your stash?

My stash is finding itself strewn across the house – it started off in my purpose-built Tardis cabinet but has now stretched across to the bottom of my dresser and to many different nooks and crannies downstairs.  It hasn’t yet trickled upstairs yet but I think it’s only a matter of time…

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Day 13: Do you have yarn that you love but can’t find a project for?

I love Noro yarn and bought this bargain-tastic lot recently – but not yet found a project for them all…

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Day 14: What’s the worst yarn/fiber that you’ve worked with and why?

When I started knitting and crocheting, i started with a lot of cheap acrylic double knitting yarn to practice – such as the one for this mobile phone cover which I made for my friend…  I rarely work with acrylic now.

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Day 15: What was your least favorite pattern and why?

I tried this Eyelet Scarf in Jarol Heritage 4ply, which I was never very happy with, but looking back it is not as bad as I thought…

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Day 16: Have you ever had a knitting related injury?

When I first started knitting, I found it very hard to wrap the yarn with my right hand, as I am naturally left-handed, however after a few teething pains it became bearable over time.

My worst injury was a series of small, odd-shaped bruises on my legs and shoulders, which I could not work out where I had got them from.

Eventually I worked out that I was using needles that were too long and was pushing them into my legs or shoulders to help move the yarn along sufficiently!  I soon moved onto better yarn and needles which resolved the issues.

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cats, travel

Cute Cats on Holiday

OK, so the cats aren’t on holiday, but I was!

As I mentioned in my last blog, I had a few days down with Mum and Dad in Worthing, on the South Coast.

They have two gorgeous Balinese rescue cats, Mimi and Timmy (well, technically Mischa and Timor, but I’ve always tweaked their names a bit!)  Mimi is the pretty Burmese-looking Seal Tortie Point – she is very intelligent and careful but sweet and Timmy is dopey and loveable.

Mimi was amazingly attached to me during this visit – she hardly left my side – and started doing all of the things with me that she does with Mum – like sitting on my lap and trying to get into bed – which is very unusual, she’s never done this with me before.  As you can see from the picture below right, she is also very talkative!

So a lovely time was had by all…

Finally I had to finish with another cat who I met on my travels this week – in a tea shop in Steyning, my favourite little village near Worthing, was this very relaxed girl, Maisie.  She doesn’t live there, but comes in every day and sleeps on the same chair!  When she gets hungry she wanders around the tables to find someone to give her the odd little treat.  The staff all seemed to love her and she was a very happy little kitty…

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art, craft, crochet, garden, knitting, nature, photography, sewing, summer, travel, yarn

End of a Lovely Crafty Week

This week I’ve been off work – holidaying at home – with some lovely days down on the South Coast with Mum and Dad and then back home via a day-trip to London.

It’s been super-busy but then again the time has flown by – can’t quite believe I’m back to work on Monday…

The start of my week was with Mum – I wasn’t feeling great so we did a bit less shopping / visiting and a bit more crafting which was fine by me.  I started on a crochet shopping bag and Mum showed me these clever little pouches which hang on a door handle and can be filled with anything you don’t want to lose – i.e. keys, crochet hooks, cat biscuits, or whatever!

I then travelled back to Wiltshire and had a day trip to London (about 2 1/2 to 3 hours on the train) to see my cousin Cathy and visit the Royal Observatory in Greenwich.  As a keen amateur astronomer, I was desperate to see the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition – having meant to go every year for the last few years.  This view is from the steep climb up Greenwich Park to the Observatory.  In the distance is Canary Wharf and the edge of the City of London.

The rather unimportant-looking line below is the Greenwich Meridian – from which all time zones are measured here on planet Earth!  This is the home of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time), although technically we are now on BST (British Summer Time) which is +1 hour and will revert to GMT in October for the winter months.

Greenwich is a lovely part of South London – very near where I used to live, but as often happens, I only visited it once in the 9 years I lived there!  There are lots of cafes and meeting places and the park was spectacular.  Nearby is also the National Maritime Museum and the Cutty Sark (the only surviving 19th century tea clipper) but we didn’t have the time or energy to visit this (it was a really warm day!)

Finally I was back to Wiltshire with some crafting and catching up with friends.  I went to Frome with my friend Anna and bought this cute bunny pencil sharpener (I won’t reveal where the hole for the pencil is!)  We had breakfast in the Garden Cafe and these gorgeous ferns appeared to be creeping up the wall as if to make their getaway…

I bought these glow-in-the-dark Toadstool lights for the garden in Worthing and can’t wait to try them out (the garden needs a bit of work first!)

I couldn’t get away without doing some yarn shopping – in Frome I happened to ‘pop in’ to Marmalade Yarns and buy these gorgeous fibres…  Firstly some Autumnal shades – Fyberspates Scrumptious 4ply silk/merino mix in a shade called Burnt Orange but that I would describe as more of a conker / nutmeg mix – and secondly Skein Queen 4ply merino in Squash which is a slightly more red / orange – both delicious and perfect for a delicate shawl / wrap or scarf.

Finally, some Debbie Bliss Angel Prints laceweight in a blue/green/red/grey-brown mix – this is for Mum to make another gorgeous knitted scarf – we saw a technique at John Lewis in London last December – using a large and a small needle to produce a really beautiful finish – delicate but effective.

I bought myself some Angel Prints in December, but never got started on it.  Perhaps this weekend will be my time to get another knitting project on the go!

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craft, crochet, garden, knitting, nature, summer, travel, Uncategorized

Stourhead Revisited

Part of my plans to get fitter (and therefore feel less guilty when I sit down to knit / crochet!) has included a new exercise regime.

As I had a couple of days off last week, I decided to go to Stourhead, one of my favourite National Trust gardens and only a short drive from home.  The grounds are absolutely beautiful – so much so that in my many visits, I haven’t yet ventured into the House!

There are many buildings around the lake, which all offer a different view of the surroundings.  The gardens are most famous for their rhododendrons and azaleas, but there are many other wonderful trees and shrubs to enjoy.

I was much later visiting this year than previously, but the show of colours did not disappoint…

Stourhead Head Gardener, Alan Power, was very kind to respond to my Tweet asking what these two lovely and unusual specimens were – the first he told me was Crinodendron Hookerianum – the Chile Lantern Tree and second was an Enkianthus.

The next two are reverse views – my favourite view from my favourite place, the Temple of Apollo – and the view of the Temple from the other side of the lake.  This lovely monument featured in the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice – in the proposal scene.

All in all it was an inspirational visit, and a lovely start to my new regime.

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craft, crochet, knitting, nature, photography, travel, Uncategorized

New Discoveries

Do you sometimes feel like you are getting stuck in a rut and do the same old things every weekend?  Working full-time, my leisure time is very precious to me.

This Bank Holiday weekend I formulated a plan with my friend and neighbour, Anna. We decided that we would try to visit somewhere new at least once a month and started this month with Shaftesbury in Dorset.

We did have a teensy ulterior motive, in that Hanson’s Fabrics and Crafts, a massive craft warehouse, is a few miles south of Shaftesbury…

I even managed to persuade Anna’s son Mikey that buttons are magical… (have you ever seen a cheesier face?)

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After buying a few bits and bobs there we moved on to Shaftesbury.  It was a beautiful day but I needed to get some shelter from the sun as I am photosensitive due to my Lupus.  We stopped at the Ugly Duckling cafe and what do I spy next door, Knitting Well, a yarn shop!!  Both places gave us such a warm welcome, so I think a return journey will be on the cards.

We then headed off to the High Street, with lots of quirky little shops, I can heartily recommend a visit here.

Finally we found, almost by accident, Gold Hill which is the site of the Hovis ad from the 1970s which ran for many years and was directed by Ridley Scott (no aliens around thankfully).  It also featured in the 1960s adaptation of Far From the Madding Crowd and is your archetypal ‘chocolate box’ scenery…

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It was such a lovely day but by this time I was quite exhausted, so I didn’t get to walk down Gold Hill but I will save that up for another visit.  Now we just have to plan where our next trip is going to take us…

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Andalusia, craft, crochet, knitting, Spain, spring, travel, Uncategorized

Marbella Yarn Bonanza

After my latest visit to Marbella and another round of the haberdashery stores, I came away with some new ideas and some fantastic cottons.

First up is one of my new projects using more of the fabulous Marbella Cotton which I bought last time.  I’ve decided to make a range of vintage-style cotton shoppers – in the UK as in many places, we’ve become more aware of the use of non-recyclable and plastic bags and so I thought these would be a welcome addition to my range.

These bags will be finished off with straps and lovely large buttons with some ribbon or cord threaded through the top.

As a true yarn freak, I couldn’t help myself but buy, erm, a few more cottons in various colourways – oops!

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My next project is to make a few different versions of my favourite shawl – the original grey one is in a cashmere/cotton blend which makes it a bit on the pricey side, so I felt that a range of different yarns would suit all pockets.

These lovely cotton yarns in coral and soft pastel pinks and blues (again from Marbella) will certainly fit the bill.  I shall be delving into my stash to find some other possibles.

Finally the post-holiday blues meant a visit to my favourite local yarn shop – Marmalade Yarns – I must truly be a regular as this time I earned a discount – yay!  I came away with the three gorgeous yarns above – without a definite plan for them other than I can see them all as lovely wraps or shawls.

First is Fyberspates Vivacious 4Ply, a 100% superwash merino in ‘Sunshine’ – a yellow which is just so bright and spring-like, it makes me smile just to look at it (the test of a true yarn-mad person).  The next yarn is Skein Queen Entwist 4ply, another 100% superwash hand-dyed merino in Emerald Lies, a breathtaking mix of gorgeous greens.  And finally, Rowan Fine Art in Pheasant – a beautiful mix of autumnal colours – reds browns and chestnuts.

So, you would think I have enough to be going on with, but I also have some other plans that I have been working on (more of them later in the week!).

 

 

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Andalusia, architecture, art, photography, Spain, spring, travel

Andalusian Art and Culture

Having been to Andalusia a few times now, I have a real appreciation of the lifestyle and culture, the laid-back attitude and, of course, the need for a siesta in the middle of the day…

Marbella is a lovely resort which has been revived and refreshed to something more like its 1960s heyday (although, thankfully you don’t need to be a millionaire to go there now!

Apart from the miles of golden beaches, the main draw of Marbella, for me, has to be the Old Town.

The Old Town is a winding maze of cobbled streets, cafes, restaurants and shops, selling everything from linen and cotton clothes and home furnishings, to local artisan shops and designer handbags, with wisteria, bougainvillea and hibiscus spilling over you from the balconies above.

Only 45 minutes away by a very reasonably priced direct bus, is Malaga, birthplace to the artist Pablo Ruiz y Picasso.  A beautiful city with architecture old and ancient a-plenty to feast your eyes upon, including this beautiful former Hospital and the Roman Amphitheatre ruins.

As Picasso’s home town, there are a number of Museums / Art Galleries – we decided to go to the Museo Picasso Malaga – which appeared to be the largest, but also had an additional exhibition on which we wanted to visit.

I must admit to never having been a big fan of Picasso, from the few pieces that I have seen, but my view has definitely shifted now, having seen the range of oeuvres including sculpture, ceramics, print-making and his early, more naturalistic paintings.

The additional exhibition was a touring exhibition called Energy Made Visible, focusing mainly on Jackson Pollock’s Mural which was commissioned by Peggy Guggenheim for her New York abode.

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Although I love Pollock’s drip painting, it was one of the rare occasions when the other exhibits – including those who both inspired and were inspired by Pollock – were more interesting than the main feature.

There were works from artists and photographers that I did not recognise, such as Barbara Morgan, Herbert Matter and this painting by Antonio Saura – La Grande Foule (the Great Crowd) which made more of an impression on me than Pollock’s work.

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Initially this looks a bit bleak, but in reality the faces vary from comical to the downright scary.  Being a complete geek, I couldn’t help but see a misshapen Darth Vader in the figure on the bottom row, just before the half-way mark.  Can you spot him?

My final surprise was to see a work by Andy Warhol, another artist who I have always thought was over-rated.  This work, entitled Yarn Painting was so eye-catching and bold.  Regular readers will know why I laughed when I found out the name of the work – as a mad-keen crafter, I spend half of my time looking at or working with fibres and yarns!

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This exhibition is on in Malaga until 11 September so, if you get a chance, take some time out and enjoy Andalucia!

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