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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nature, spring

Springtime in Wiltshire

This week I’ve been¬†holidaying at home, and what a lovely week it has been!

I’ve managed to get in some fun days out and shopping trips as well as getting some of those long-overdue jobs done at home…

On Thursday I had a lovely trip out to Lacock.  This is a beautiful village owned by the National Trust, and includes a beautiful Abbey and grounds.

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The village is beautifully kept and as most of the buildings range from 14th to 18th Century, it is heavily used as a filming location for many period dramas, including Downton Abbey, Pride and Prejudice and Cranford. ¬†The Abbey cloisters have also been featured in many of the Harry Potter films. ¬†It is a film and TV buff’s dream destination!

We’ve had such a mild winter here in the UK that strolling through¬†the Abbey grounds, I found a wonderful carpet of spring flowers as far as the eye could see…

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Carpets of yellow and purple Crocuses, Cyclamen, my favourite Snowdrops, and even the odd patch of Daffodils and Narcissi already in bloom.

 

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I then wandered into a part of the garden that I have not visited before and found this wonderful Botanical Garden.

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What a lovely way to finish my week off.  And to top it all the Fox Talbot Photography Museum at the Abbey had an exhibition of Icelandic landscape photographs Рa year from now I am hoping to be back in Iceland, probably one of the most beautiful places on this planet, and certainly one of the most fascinating.

One of my earliest blogs was about Iceland, so I may have to revisit that one now and ramp up the excitement factor for next February!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Uncategorized

Bamboo Envy

It’s not even that hot yet and I’m exhausted with the weather!

Just had a little jaunt down to my parents’ house in Sussex. ¬†The climate there is always a little warmer, less rainy and more pleasant than where I live in Wiltshire.

Mum and Dad’s garden is always a treat to behold. ¬†Even to a novice gardener such as myself, I can appreciate the beauty in nature in so many places. ¬† Here are just a few of the treats I have enjoyed on this visit.

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Their poppies are out in force – this is such a wonderful flower, with such strong links to us Brits, every year but especially in the¬†last year¬†with the centennial of the start of World War I and the wonderful poppy installation at the Tower of London (which sadly I didn’t get a chance to see).

Their roses are amazing РMum buys the heavily scented old-style roses Рshe is very keen on giving the bees something to get excited about, as well as tantalising our noses with their rich nectar.  The one on the left is an usual one as it is a double rose with a heavy scent, which the bees love Рmost double varieties I tend to avoid as they are usually over-bred for looks but with no oomph!  This is definite exception to the rule, what a show it makes!

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The next is one of my favourite parts of the garden, with beautiful blue campanula and pinks (carnations) in purple and, erm pink!

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Next is a type of wallflower which I’ve been lucky enough to get a cutting of and is growing well in my garden. ¬†It is so pretty, it livens up the borders…

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The hanging baskets also look spectacular, such a gorgeous combination of verbena, fuchsia and petunias.

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And finally, my real envy of their¬†garden – black stemmed bamboo – nothing like as invasive as the other varieties. ¬†It also provides good cover (which I need desperately…) and I’m sure I could make some interesting attempts at using the stems – methinks I shall have to ask Mum for another cutting!

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What is giving you delight (or envy!) in your gardens at the moment?

Happy gardening!

Lou x

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Uncategorized

Wiltshire and Somerset Travels

I am very lucky to live in the beautiful county of Wiltshire.  Within a few minutes of my home is beautiful countryside Рheading north, the beautiful Bradford-on-Avon and the spectacular Roman city of Bath.  Heading south there is the world-renowned Stonehenge and Salisbury, dating back to the iron age.

To the west, my best-loved town, Frome (OK so it is technically in Somerset!), with its arts and crafts and to the east the even more magical stone circle of Avebury and the up-market Marlborough.

This weekend has been a wash-out so far (typical British weather!) so I have been limited to a quick trip to Frome. ¬†Visiting Mary Kilvert’s fabulous shop I bought a few goodies (can’t spoil the surprise on those by posting piccies!) and enjoyed my chat with her very friendly and helpful staff. ¬†I also visited a little Italian cafe called Paccamora¬†opposite Mary’s shop, which was full of character, and the tea’s not bad either…

I also just happened to, ahem, pop into Marmalade Yarns, which is fast becoming my go-to yarn shop.  Maxine very kindly offered knitting advice, and I got a sneak peek of her latest ideas for the next window display.  I treated myself (quelle surprise!) to some lovely yarn Рsome for more makes for my forthcoming Etsy shop, some to make a fancy scarf for Anna, and a bit of beautiful lace to perhaps make myself a wrap or shawl.

My camera has given up the ghost so I have no piccies sadly, but have now treated myself to a new one Рyay!  So that means I will have to go back.  And, perhaps, buy some more yarn?

Despite the current inclement weather, over the last week or so, I had time for a couple of trips to one of my favourite local destinations РThe Courts Garden in Holt Рa National Trust venue.

 

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The borders were jam-packed with beautiful specimens – unfortunately I only had an hour to walk around so i didn’t get to enjoy it fully. ¬†The pond is my place of solace and reflection¬†(well, not in it, you understand!)…

Another day I met up at the local Country Park, for a long walk in the sunshine, with my friend Anna and her little boy Mikey, amiably and ably assisted by their bonkers dog, Dave (known to me as Dave-a-roo).

 

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As you can see Mikey is incredibly photogenic.  Dave, on the other hand, is a Rottweiler in a Chihuahua body whilst out and about.  I have promised him that I will never reveal his secret.  When at home he is known to me as Shaky Dave Рhe literally quivers at the slightest approach of my cat Ella or anyone else.

Oops Dave – sorry – the secret is out…

Happy weekend all!

 

Lou x

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Uncategorized

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 РI 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 Рshe arrived just at the same time as I found the stall Рwhat 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 РI got four balls of Sirdar Escape DK as well as three balls each of King Cole Galaxy Chunky Рall for £20 Рbargaintastic!

 

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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 Рrich 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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