animals, cats, home, Uncategorized

Kitty Update

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted about my kitties…

It has been a hard year and a bit since Paddy (AKA Sir Patrick) joined us, since Ella prefers to be the only cat.  But he had to be rescued from his horrible situation, and in time, Ella has grown if not to completely accept him, then at least reconcile herself to the fact that he is staying!

They are extremely hard to photograph at this time of year, mainly as they are both out a lot, but also because, as you can see from Paddy above, he never stays still long enough!

He’s a really happy little chappie and always wants to be around me, he is such a baby, in contrast with Ella, who is very independent but loving in her own way.  We have progressed to the point where they can eat together, although Ella still grumbles away if he gets too close!

During this cold snap we’ve had this Winter, they have both wanted to be on, or near, my lap.  Paddy has never been a lap cat, but he loves it now, if I dare sit down with a blanket or throw on my lap he’s on there in no time.

I have (albeit very poor quality!) photographic evidence that they can live together in harmony.  Here they are on my lap, Ella to the left and Paddy on the right, sat on my blanket.  It was such a breakthrough for us all, I have to admit that I had a little cry!

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Paddy is so fascinated and in awe of Ella, when she rolled over, as you can see, very relaxed even though she knew he was there, he couldn’t quite believe it.  It was a lovely moment in what has been quite a difficult time in getting them both settled.

Clever old Ella has proved elusive today – she must know that I’ve got the camera out…  So I will have to go and seek her out later.

Paddy’s brother was also rescued by my friend and neighbour Anna, and he is doing so well…  Here he is in all his glory – (Professor) Brian.  I love his little nose and bow-tie combination markings and his long socks at the back and fingerless gloves at the front!

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Autumn, charity, craft, crochet, knitting, sewing

Seasonal Plans

We are now coming into my favourite time of year – Autumn.

I love Autumnal colours, smells and the darker evenings where you feel happy snuggled up with a project or a book and some music on the stereo.  I would say also the lovely crisp sunny mornings but, well, the UK is going through a bit of an Indian Summer and the heat is rising rather than abating, even Patrick can’t take it…

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It’s a hard life, isn’t it!

Last year I didn’t do many Craft Fairs and I really missed it.  I’ve been thinking about some ideas and have a few days off now to take them forward (as well as relax…)

Firstly some Wreaths – firstly I was just thinking about Christmas, but once I got started I couldn’t stop!  I’m trying to decide the decoration for these (apart from ribbon to hang them with) – I’m thinking something simple and not too fussy.

Over the last few years I have made some Halloween baskets, and even shared a pattern here last year.  This year I decided to focus on four of the designs and have been asking for votes on which people like the most… Comment below by 5pm Sunday (GMT – UK time) with your four faves and I will enter you in the draw to win a set of four!

Finally, I am still struggling on with my brother’s scarf – reversible half-moon stitch in this gorgeous wool – Katia Basic Merino Flash – going from bright crimson to a dark rich red.  Hopefully it’ll be finished soon-ish…

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With more to do I’ve started looking at a couple of local Christmas Craft Fairs so I will soon have to start making my very popular Christmas Puds and stockings, and maybe a few more ideas to come.

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cats, craft, crochet, knitting, music, Uncategorized, yarn

Top Ten Review of the Year

Well, another prolonged absence due to work – I’m not one for making New Year’s resolutions, but next year I will make more time to post on my blog as I have missed not being able to post so regularly.  Getting organised is half the battle I think…

This year has been an interesting one (in all senses of the word!) – a new addition to my family (OK, so he’s a kitten) and a rebranding of my blog and business as well as opening my Etsy Shop.

Add to that the most manic year of my (full-time) working life and major changes within my working structure – which are all still in a state of flux!

But in many ways a fantastic year, much love and laughter with friends and family, and finding a kindred spirit in crafting in my friend Anna (and her five-year-old Mikey who’s favourite phrase is now “let’s get crafting!”)

So here is my Top Ten Review of the Year on looking back through my blog, I do hope you enjoy it!

One – The arrival of Sir Patrick of Naughtiness

As an Astronomy geek, I managed to persuade Anna and Mikey to name their rescued kitten Professor Brian (Cox) after everyone’s favourite physicist and ex-popstar.  I was amazed they went with it…

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I was even more amazed that I ended up rescuing his brother, whom I named Sir Patrick (Moore) after the famous and much beloved Astronomer and BBC Presenter (RIP).  It particularly helped that he had a squinty eye in which I could imagine the real Sir  Patrick’s monocle.  I met the real Sir Patrick once, he was absolutely delightful, and was very kind to me when another celebrity was very rude to me (you know who you are, Michael Fish!).

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Two – Opening my Etsy Shop

This was a long-term aim over the year and was delayed many times due to factors outside of my control!  In the end it was opened in October and I had my first sale within 24 hours.

I haven’t quite had the time since then to promote it as much as I would like, and I have exciting plans for my Etsy shop for 2016, so my upcoming week off in February will be spent at home getting things sorted…

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Three – Vintage Shopping at the Car Booty

Regular readers will know that I love a bargain.  Most Sundays I can be found at Frome Car Boot Sale, rummaging around in other people’s junk.  For several months this year I had an amazing run on vintage notions and patterns and went a bit overboard buying them.

I have now decided to offload some of them in 2016 when I take part in a Craft Fair which also lets you sell related goods.  Some, though, I cannot bear to part with!

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Four – Yarn, lovely Yarn

I wrote about my yarn addiction on several occasions, it has perhaps got a little out of hand, especially after I visited the Kensington Olympia Knitting and Stitching show in March – but I did get some beautiful yarns, including the cashmere / cotton blend to make this lovely shawl on my Etsy Shop.

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Five – Devon knows how they make it so lovely

Through my lovely friend Anna, I’ve had the chance to visit Chagford, in Devon on the edge of Dartmoor, twice this year for Craft Fairs.  Such a beautiful place and the people are so friendly and welcoming, it’s a real treat to visit there.  Bonus treat – the tiny ponies and other cute critters at the Miniature Pony Centre nearby.

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Six – Holidays-a-go-go!

I’ve been extremely lucky this year with holidays – having a gorgeous week in Marbella in March, with Mum, and then again in Bayeux in June with Mum, Dad and my brother.  The first time we’d all been away together for several years.  Both were fabulous holidays, much needed and much enjoyed, and allowed me to expand my stash even more with some really lovely yarns and notions (as well as some cheeky goats producing the softest mohair)

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Seven – My first giveaway of Crochet Patterns

In October I gave away the pattern for my first designed project, some mini Halloween Treat Baskets – to fill with yummy chocolates.  I had great fun designing the different faces and putting together a beginner’s project which I was happy to share for free.  Although a simple design, it has given me a taste for more!

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Eight – Geek Loveliness

A fabulous year of nerd-dom has been bookended by Star Wars.  In May I posted about my trip to Marbella and the surprise of hearing a youth orchestra starting up with the Star Wars soundtrack – I have never departed a cafe in such a hasty fashion before…  In May I also posted a cheeky geeky guide and then followed up with a visit to the Doctor Who Exhibition in September with my family.  There is an adventure to go through which is rather interactive – I was more scared than the kids!

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Nine – Animals A-Plenty

It never surprises me that my most popular posts tend to be around my two black cats, Ella and Sir Patrick.  After all, they are endless sources of amusement to me!

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Ten – Art and Crafts

And back to my main loves – art and crafts.  In April I visited Standen, a home filled with delights from the Arts and Craft movement which I so admire.  Moving on to June I waxed lyrical about Salvator Rosa, one of my favourite artists, and in July I wrote about the beautiful lace that I encountered on my goaty adventures in Bayeux (and of course the famous Tapestry).

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And finally, throughout the year I have been extolling the virtues of crafting, thank you for joining me on my journey this year, and here’s to 2016!

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cats, craft, crochet, knitting, Uncategorized

Feeling Festive and Feline Fun!

Since my last post, so much has happened.  Having had nearly a month off from posting due to a mad few weeks at work which has consumed all of my time and energy, I’m finally having some time to myself and am able to get back to my crafting (and blogging!)

I completed two Craft Fairs, the one in Devon went really well and I enjoyed the mini-break, meeting some lovely folks.  I then did a small Christmas Fair locally which was not so successful, but great fun nonetheless.

Adding to all the madness is the preparations for a certain festive period – I have done most of my Christmas shopping, and am now moving on to last-minute gift-making…

First off is a crocheted scarf for my Dad which I am making in Katia Kathmandu – a gorgeous colourway in blue/green/grey which hopefully keep him toasty warm through this winter.

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Next up is a scarf for my brother – I am trying to decide whether I have enough time to knit this or if I should crochet it a bit more quickly.  Again I have decided on a Katia yarn – Basic Merino Flash, a soft wool/acrylic mix with a soft variegation in colour from bright crimson to a more mellow maroon.  My brother looks fantastic in red and as both he and Dad loved the scarves I made previously, I hope they do also with these.

 

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My Mum is also getting something, but as she reads my blog I am not putting anything on here about it – she will just have to wait and see!

Another present in the making is an upcycled project that I made and then was never happy with.  It is a lovely pattern and the first major item I made when I learnt to knit.  It is from the book Knitty Gritty by Aneeta Patel, whom I wholeheartedly recommend as a knitting teacher.  I wish I could have made it to one of her classes, but the two Knitty Gritty books gave me a firm foundation to start from.

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I am going to remove the pink flower (which I only put on as a tester) and am going to crochet some pretty embellishments around the shoulders of the hot water bottle.  This has been sadly sitting in a box since I made it, and Anna has remarked on it a few times, so I hope she likes the final result.

I will then turn my hand to a secret project for my little friend Mikey, who turns 5 on Boxing Day.  I may not complete it in time, so will save it as a January present…

And finally, a project for myself – Mum and I had our annual pilgrimage to Peter Jones in Sloane Square (part of the John Lewis brand) and we saw some beautiful yarns.  I bought some for myself which I am going to knit up on different sized needles.  This stunning yarn is Debbie Bliss Angel Prints, Kid Mohair and Silk, as soft and strong as you would expect with that gorgeous mix.

I have never made anything for myself so this is going to be fun.  I am going to try it with 3 1/4 mm and 5 mm needles and adjust it if I am not happy with the result.

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Finally, a little update on Sir Patrick, who is now 7 months old and a real purr-sonality.  He doesn’t ever stay still enough to take any pictures, but I managed to snap these today.  He is fascinated by all the knitting and crochet activity and has a penchant for lace (he has excellent taste!).

The final picture is just typical Sir Patrick.  He was checking out the camera lens and managed to fog it up with his breath, in true soft focus style…  Ella is just beginning to cope better with him, and he is calming down a little, which is a relief for us all!

 

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Cat Politics!

Morning all

What a manic couple of weeks… After Sir Patrick the black kitten had his ‘op’ I’ve started letting him out in the garden. From the start I knew introducing another kitty into the household was not going to be easy for Ella, my black cat.  Luckily I used to work for Cats Protection so I used their leaflets to advise me. It appears to be a mix of time, Feliway and Dreamies cat treats work for them!

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Ella (above, left) very much loves her garden and is not thrilled about the interloper in her midst (above, right), especially when his two sisters live next door and his brother next door-but-one!  All in all, including the other neighbours, we now have eight cats within four houses.  Cat politics are playing a huge role outside.

We seem to mainly have periods of calm, with the odd stressful moment.  Take Ella and Sir Patrick below, for example.  He is so fascinated by her and often forgets to keep calm and rushes at her.  She of course takes offence to this, but doesn’t ever strike him, she just warns him.  At other times he goads her and stalks her, which can be funny to watch, especially when you know what the outcome is going to be (let’s face it, Ella will always win!)

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They are both very loving and sweet cats, and I fully understand that they may never be friends (although he would really love that) but Ella is top cat and always will be.  I think the best I can aspire to is grudging acceptance.  I’ve been working on the garden so they’ve had more time to mingle and get used to each other.  I love the two pictures below – firstly Ella asserting her dominance, calmly for once, with Sir Patrick doing an about-turn when he realises she has the (literal) high ground.  And the second – where’s Sir Patrick?  Check out the blue pot – the two of them are actually quite physically close without any arguments.

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They are both such strong, but sweet and loyal characters, so I’m sure some sort of compromise will be worked out between them.  I’ll leave you with some typical Sir Patrick poses – ‘I can’t stay still’ and ‘catch-the-lens-cap’

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Happy catting!

Lou

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You Have To Be Kitting!

What a week I’ve had, best laid plans and all that!

On Thursday I had an early finish from work and was planning to finish a few items ready for my Etsy shop.  I was having a little mooch around the garden, planning for my fences to be put up.

Suddenly I saw this cute little black kitten strolling up the garden path, and he walked straight over and threw himself at my feet.  I knew that he ‘belonged’ to a neighbour due to a recent incident of neglect we witnessed, regarding him and his siblings.  He was outside without being vaccinated, microchipped and neutered, too young (only 12 weeks old) and the neighbours’ children said that he was unhappy at home.

With help from my friend, we managed to get him rehomed with me.  By this time I had to go out to complete a Dementia Friends talk and so I borrowed some kitten food and left him with a bowl, some water and Ella’s litter tray (much to her chagrin!)

 

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Ella is not keen on other cats and I had always planned to keep to a one-cat household.  Of course all of that is up the swanny as he has bonded so strongly with me within minutes.  I can’t imagine life without him now, he is so tiny, sweet-natured and gentle.

I used to work for Cats Protection so have followed their excellent guidelines about introducing him into the house and taking it slowly, to ensure long-term happiness for all inhabitants!  I got a Feliway diffuser which relieves tension in cats, for Ella’s benefit more than his…

 

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Ella is a bit put-out at the moment, but has at least not been aggressive or overly anxious, as these piccies attest to!

 

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So we will (hopefully!) be a happy cat household, he has had a check-up at the vets and his first immunisations, soon he will be free to go out into the garden, safely this time.  He is only 1.2kg but not too underweight for his age, and otherwise the vet gave him a clean bill of health.  Phew!

The only thing left was to pick a name for him, and since his brother is named Brian after the wonderful physicist Professor Brian Cox, my first idea was immediately to name him Patrick after Sir Patrick Moore (the late, great amateur astronomer and TV Presenter of The Sky At Night).

So welcome to Patrick – and lots of fuss and hugs for Ella, to hopefully smooth the transition so that she comes to terms with the interloper and they can live together in harmony.

Hopefully next week I’ll have more time to get on to other priorities including my delayed Etsy shop!

Happy catting!

 

Lou x

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Bad Cats III – The Final Catdown

AKA cats in places that they shouldn’t be…

As a long-time cat owner, I am never surprised at the scrapes these little devils get themselves into.  And I certainly don’t love them any the less for it.

This seems to be a family tradition – so I proudly present another rogues gallery of naughty cat behaviours for your delectation!

Firstly – Puschka – who has been through a tough time recently with her health, but we are glad that she is now returning to her previous matriachal state.  Note the guilty expression – she has just ordered a lifetime supply of tuna despite supposedly being on a special diet.

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Secondly – Mum and Dad’s cats Timmy and Mimi (really called Timor and Mischa but I never call them by their proper names)…  Laundry baskets, a speciality!

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Also available in cupboards and plant pots…

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Favourite hobbies: bird-watching and world travel…

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And finally, no rogues gallery would be incomplete without Ella – her most popular locations are cardboard boxes (of course!) and, occasionally, the top of the 7ft wall outside my back door.

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So these are our family bad cats named and shamed!

What is your bad cat story?

Happy catting!

Lou x

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Bad Cats… Part Deux

Back in March I published a post on the bad cats in my family.  I thought my Ella was bad, but Mum and Dad’s Balinese cats Timmy and Mimi take the (cat) biscuit…

Much beloved, these cats are all full of personality and naughtiness.  They are very sweet-natured but so jolly naughty!

Timmy is a typical boy cat – not particular big in the brains department, a real softy who tries to pretend to be Mr Big but actually doesn’t have the brains nor the bravery to carry it off.  He is the real-life embodiment of the cowardly lion in the Wizard of Oz (with the Scarecrow’s brain!)

 

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You ain’t seen, me – right!

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Wake up and smell the roses (well, Chrysanthemums!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mimi on the other hand is so clever and sometimes sneaky.  She has worked out all of the angles, how she can do as little as possible with the biggest reward.  She does, however, have an Achilles’ Heel – what I like to call…  Bag-gate.

Stick a plastic bag anywhere in the house and she will find it, get in it, lick it and get very distressed if you take it away from here.  Witness this Hall of Kitty Shame.

 

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Ha ha! Can’t see me!

 

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Honestly Mum, what have you got in here?

 

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Does this contain real robins? I like robins.

 

She also has my folks wrapped around her little paw.  She has a routine with Dad every morning, where she waits for him to finish his cereal and then she has the leftover Goats Milk (weirdo cat alert!)

As you can see from these shocking images, sometimes the wait is too long.  As The Kinks famously sang (so) Tired of Waiting

 

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OK, be cool. The milk is coming.

 

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But when?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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At last. I could have died of starvation in the meantime!

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Slurp, slurp. Success at last!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If Dad isn’t quick enough she puts her paw on the bowl and tips it towards her mouth.  So, so bad!

I am now making preparations for a cocktail and karaoke night so this will have to be the end of my kitty tail (sorry!) for now…

Happy catting!

 

Lou x

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Knitting and Stitching Show Madness!

Well, it’s a week since I went to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Olympia in London.

My Mum was kind enough to come up with me and left me with a little present in the form of a nasty cold!

So I’ve been feeling a bit sorry for myself, what better way to cheer myself up other than having a gander at the lovely stash that I brought home with me!

I don’t think I’ve ever been to Olympia before, for the uninitiated, it’s an exhibition centre in Kensington, West London.  I love this old photo – much has changed in the area, but Olympia remains pretty much as it is here.

 

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I was a bit remiss in taking photos on the day – blame my yarn obsession for that!  As we arrived we only just had time to book into a needle-felting class which began immediately…  We were making a bee – mine wasn’t quite finished and a bit, erm, shall we call it ‘rustic’ so I haven’t taken a picture of it to post here!

As well as the expected suppliers and manufacturers, there were a few fun surprises.  The lovely people at Toft had brought their crochet jungle with them (sadly I didn’t get a picture!) full of monkeys crocheted by newcomers and experts alike – with funds and awareness-raising of Birmingham’s Children’s Hospital and Noah’s Ark Hospice.

Another fun thing was the Knitted Farm – some of the work was quite remarkable.

 

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This was a competition organised by the Show and the winners can be found here.

I was thrilled to see a stall there by Cats Protection – I worked for them for several years before I moved down to Wiltshire.  I also met up with an old friend who was manning the stall – she arrived just at the same time as I found the stall – what a happy coincidence!

So, onto the really fun bit – all of the wool / yarn…  I did go a bit mad, I had a budget and only slightly blew it!  But what I did get was such lovely and unique pieces and yarns which I have never seen before as well as some bargains…

Firstly my bargain yarns – I got four balls of Sirdar Escape DK as well as three balls each of King Cole Galaxy Chunky – all for £20 – bargaintastic!

 

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Next up is some beautiful yarn by the Japanese firm Noro – a gorgeous mixture of 45% Silk, 45% Kid Mohair and 10% Lambswool.  The overcast weather here in Wiltshire has dampened the colours of this – it is absolutely glorious.  The colourway is a mixture of blues, green, purple and yellows.  I’ve wanted to try Noro yarns for ages – I have a great respect for the craft skills of the Japanese people.  One day I hope to go to Nippori in Tokyo – my dream craft destination!

 

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This Debbie Bliss Winter Garden is a tweedy mix chunky yarn made from 30% Llama, 30% Merino Wool, 20% Silk and 20% Linen.  The colours are gorgeous – rich purple and a russety conker colour.  Makes me think more of Autumn than Winter!

 

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These next yarns are made from recycled Sari silk and are such beautiful, vibrant shades, unfortunately again my overcast weather doesn’t really show them at their best!  I’m looking forward to working out what I can do with these…

 

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Further rummaging was needed to find the next ones – by this point Mum had given up and gone home.  I couldn’t resist these from the Little Knitting Company – 80% Cotton and 20% Cashmere, they have the most lovely feel to them.

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Finally I went a little mad at the last knockings, buying (left) Debonnaire Silk/Lurex mix in jewel colours (regular readers will notice a pattern here!) from Ehdknits and last, but certainly not least, my most favourite stall was Watercolours & Lace – (right) – such wonderful hand-painted and dyed natural fibres.  I bought two and then went back for another one – I couldn’t resist!  I bought Cashmere Silk lace in the softest purples and blue-greens, a Baby Alpaca/Silk mix in soft rose pinks and at the back a Merino Fine Lace in gorgeous blue-purple, reminding me very much of Delphiniums.

This is such a beautiful shop, I heartily encourage you to seek them out at a Fair or even buy online.  I can’t think of a more gorgeous range of quality yarns.

 

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So that was the sum total of my first Knitting and Stitching show – lots of beautiful wools and yarns to be going on with.

When is the next one!?!

Happy crafting

 

Lou x

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