Tuesday, 24 December 2013

HAPPY CHRISTMAS

Just to wish everybody a very Happy Christmas and a healthy and happy New Year. I was going to write a long ramble about some of my clumsiness over the last couple of weeks but am not going to bother tonight, as nobody will want to read about it just now.

Just posting a picture of a little card I painted for a friend, who I know appreciates my amateurish efforts rather than a 'real' card.

Yippie, no dinner for me to cook tomorrow, going off to my little boy's and his wife for Christmas dinner. Walking over too so we will be able to have a little champers. I really do appreciate this, they have a bigger house and they want to show it off. I really hate cooking for people other than ourselves, as my tales of woe from the last weeks will show, when I post them.



Looks amateurish as my acrylics had all dried up and I couldn't find the others, so had to do it in water colours. Gosh it looks worse than I thought! My friend loves it though.


Sunday, 8 December 2013

ANOTHER PROJECT COMPLETED

It's a few weeks since I blogged and I have to look at my iPhoto page to see what has gone on since, unless I go back and talk about something else.

The tunic top I was knitting in Noro Silk Garden Chunky is now finished, after being a WIP for over 18 months. It was intended to be knitted in DK wool but I didn't realise and so had to do a small size, but with the chunky wool. It worked. The only thing is, the pattern is shaped such that it is almost like a halter neck as the armholes go right up towards the neck. When I had finished it, it made my, well chest, look rather large. So it was undone and then I knitted the border around. Result, success. It was surprisingly difficult for me to remember which row I was at unless I ticked each row. I am not an expert knitter.

Anyway here is the photo and the colours are fabulous.




I finally finished crocheting my ripple blanket which is for ME! It's a bit of a cheat really as I've not sewed in the loose ends nor put a border on the side but I couldn't wait to post the photo as it is. I'll do another one when I've finished it properly.



I went to a Sustrans conference at the National Cycling Centre, AKA
the Velodrome in Manchester. It was the usual type of conference but we had lunch overlooking the track and there was training going on. I have never been there before and was very excited. We had the conference in the Reg Harris Room and there were various items of memorabilia behind glass. Strange, because when I was younger, I used to see Reg quite often, as he used to come into a cafe we cyclists used to visit. He just used to sit with us and chat.













This might sound rather silly but sometimes when I visit my Mum and we decide to have a bite of lunch we will have spaghetti hoops, this is my suggestion as it means there is not a lot of fiddling about and it is just simple. I have noticed when I shake the hoops out into the pan that all the hoops seem to stick around the tin, and I have never had my camera with me to take a photo. Well, I did some pasta the other day and when I had drained the pan, this is what was left around the side before I scraped it off! Strange. I do have some silly ideas what is photo worthy! I took a photo of my veggie sauce too. I'd taken half out to add something meaty for husband, that's why it doesn't look much and it is also a large pan.



















And lastly, does anyone remember I completed the Cycletta event from Tatton Park in May? Well my patience was rewarded as the photos were offered half price, so I bought them and received a download the other day! Here are a couple of the official photos. I look as if I were on a 'ride in the park'. I wasn't and worked very hard that day.





Ah, before I leave I must mention that Barbara, of March House Books has awarded me a Liebster ward! I've just had a quick look at her blog and, oh, dear, I hope I can do it. I've never done anything like this before. I'm not sure that I know enough bloggers to award them. Do I have to know them reasonably well, ie do they have to comment on my blog, I'm not sure. I'll look at it at some time in the future, unless it has to be done very quickly.







Thursday, 14 November 2013

MY HANDMADE SLIPPERS (POTHIES) HAVE ARRIVED

I can't remember if I wrote that I won a pair of Pothies on a Facebook Page draw. Like you mostly do, you enter a draw without any expectations of winning but just like to take part anyway.

A little while later, I just casually looked on the site concerned and there in print was MY NAME! I had won the pair of slippers. If any of you remember how excited I was when I won a camera, you can imagine what I was like. Not only are these slippers hand made, but they are unique, made from many strands of multi coloured yarn and crocheted. They are hand made in Wales and the link is Handmade Slippers - Pothies I hope this works as I've never inserted a link in text before so it is new to me.

Here are a couple of photos of the slippers:




There is a rubber substance on the bottom, with a gap for the instep, presumably to keep the slippers flexible. Don't you just love the colours? If you look back at my Wingspan scarf I knitted you will notice the yarn seems to have very similar colours, with the scarf having a bit more green in. Did I choose the yarn? No, just listed a few colours I liked. I couldn't have chosen nicer myself.

They arrived wrapped beautifully with a yarn cord, and lovely labels, in tissue paper, boxed and I couldn't wait to open the box! Thank you, Belinda for making me such a lovely prize!

I'm not writing any more today, just leaving you with the pictures of my Pothies!


Sunday, 10 November 2013

SHOPPING BY BIKE

I decided to go for a little ride the other day, not too far, as I'm not really fit with us having so much rain recently. Most people who know me know I hate cycling in the rain unless I'm caught out in it. I dislike the spray that comes up from the ground and as I wear specs, they get wet and steamed up. I used to cycle in contact lenses but don't wear them so often now and would wear goggles in the wind and rain anyway, to keep grip out of the eyes.

So, may as well do something useful as well as cycling - go for some potatoes and eggs from my favourite smallholding. I always stop to chat to the man there, he has some lovely little dogs, and a couple of ponies. Sadly his wife died earlier in the year and it hit him really badly, they had been married for so long, in their 80s.

A dozen eggs, medium, £2.00, chickens running around the place! Potatoes, not from them but grown within a couple of miles, £1.25 for 5lb. Carrots 3lb for £1.00. I didn't need any this time so helped keep the weight down didn't buy any.

Here are a few photos of the old ads on the wall.



Isn't it quaint. I love these.

I then made my way back home via The Black Sheep Wool Barn, a little detour, thought I'd have a cup of tea there. I took my Wingspan scarf to show them, as the girls love to see what you've created out of their yarn. I sewed crystal droplets at the end of each point.

Took a few pictures of the way back. Sorry for the poor quality but they are on my phone.






The previous two photos are taken in Birchwood park, where there are two or three football pitches. The pitches are used very often for matches. These sculptures remind me of the Henry Moore ones, although not anywhere near so good. It's a pity they weren't in a better location and sited in a proper 'area' not just put in.

The last two were taken at home. I can't understand why my Rowan tree still has its leaves, whereas just down the road, the ones with red berries have berries but no leaves!



On Saturday we had such a hail storm. Also thunder and lightening with the storm right above us. I pulled the plugs on the TV and computer, even though I've a surge protector on the computer. I have seen peoples houses being hit by lightning going through their TV and all the wires, so didn't want to take any chances. It took a lot of non technical fiddling to get the time back on the video/dvd box (which is also a Freeview and I don't understand but can mostly work it by trial and error). The road was white over and the lawn was covered in hail. A miserable day when I didn't go out of the house!!!


Anyway, that's enough for now. It's 23.49 and I need to wash some dishes, not having any hot water earlier. I will be posting some pictures of my latest creation, a pointed front vest top in a lovely stripey Noro Yarn. I can't wait to sew it up and show you the pictures. I just hope it looks as good on as it does off.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

DAMN TECHNOLOGY

I bought an Epson printer as the ink jets on mine had all bunged up. I also didn't know how I could change individual ink cartridges (doh). Now I will do a check every few uses to see which ones are running down. I hate just buying new when the other sort of works but to buy new ink cartridges for the old one would have been almost the price of the new one.

Anyway, I realised it is not a half hour job installing a printer, I had visions of just plugging it in and it working. Noooooooo. You have to do all these things, then instal a USB lead to link it to wireless, then remove etc. Yes, all going well, just the last step to go. The arrows were bouncing back and forth on the diagram, then this stupid message comes up, telling me it was either one thing or another. Tried again, six times and still the same ruddy message. Gave up. Keep USB lead in.   I could have just got one that was NOT wireless, cheaper if this was going to happen. I have no idea what went wrong, checked all the things to check but some I don't understand. Will have to ask son after he has moved house.

One positive thing, I have finished my Wingspan scarf. Do you like it?






















I have also sort of finished my Noro vest. However, the increasing/decreasing thing seemed to awry on the second side. I think it is going to be too high in the neck for what it should be. I think a solution would be to sew up the side seams, leave the couple of stitches open at the shoulder (they go to a point), then pick up stitches around the armholes, as it's not very neat, knit a couple of rows, which will give a larger shoulder area. Then, if necessary, will pick up more stitches around the neck, but really don't want to do that. Tomorrow I will lightly press the two pieces, before joining the sides. It looks generally lovely, colour and style wise, I just hope the top can be worked out.

I feel a bit angry tonight after having listened to the news about the old man whose wife died and the carer who subsequently worked for him privately afterwards, sued him for redundancy. The world's gone mad, I can understand anyone sueing a large company but not a very vulnerable old man. I really would like to shake her, I would. I can't put into print what I am feeling. I really hope that people who know her and know what she has done, will make her feel really, really bad.

I've almost finished reading my cycle journey around Britain's coastline. I am enjoying it immensely and love Mike's sense of humour and his ability to laugh at himself. I have ordered from Ebay another book which is by Peter Mortimer, who walked in Britain, without any money apart from an emergency fund stashed away to be used only in dire necessity. He has written another book about a year on Holy Island. Now anyone who knows me know I am totally besotted with that place, only been there once but if I could go again, I would really love to. I'll let you know what it is like when I've read it.

Shouldn't have done this, but well, at least I will have it there for the future - I've ordered a few colours of Stylecraft Special DK in rich, bright colours. I want to start another blanket and having seen the yarn at Lucy's corner at Yarndale, would love to try it myself. I am not really keen on synthetic yarn at all but can't keep buying lush stuff and everyone raves about the Stylecraft, so why not try it?

Sunday, 20 October 2013

TIME TO RELAX AND UNWIND

Phew, the visit is over. Mind you I didn't know when they were coming until the actual morning. I'd got all this food prepared and had a phone call at 08.30 saying they were coming over that afternoon. So, decided on a quick tea, sausage, mash, beans, mushrooms and egg rather than hoping the Shepherds Pie would defrost, followed by ice cream. They wanted to take us out for dinner the following night.

So, made one large mess of the kitchen cooking the above, funny how something so simple can use lots of pans and take up lots of room and more difficult than something like Shepherds Pie? MiL didn't like beans, only ate one sausage and left most of the potatoes. Step FiL ate everything, plus the spare sausage and I think husband ate the beans, typical. They didn't want blueberries with ice cream, nor yoghourt. Eventually washed everything up, phew again. That's the in word this week.

Before dinner, we sat and chatted and despite my nervousness, it went well, I'd baked some wholewheat scones which went down well. Mind you I could have thought of a nicer drink than hot water!!!!!!!

The next day I had to be out of the house at 8.30 as I was doing a work day for Sustrans on the Transpennine Trail, and had to go right across the town and be there by 9.30am. I'm not too good on mornings and getting out, since I finished work. When I was working for the last few years and gave up my 'good' job, I worked for NWAutoTrader and worked nights in Production, getting the magazine off to the press was the last stage in its generation, so was almost in the land of nod at 8.30.

7 of us cut back about three feet of brambles and lots of undesirable trees were coppiced. I'll show a before and after picture and here's one of me brandishing a machete! Don't you think I look fierce? Would you like to meet me on a dark night? Someone mentioned I still had my helmet on, but I just forgot to take it off and didn't have a cap or hat.

It rained just as I was leaving to cycle home and I managed to get saturated on the outside and just a little damp on the inside but was cold and a bit shattered from the constant really hard physical work. Also, was tired because had trouble with the asthma so legs weren't working as well as they ought to have been. So, home, dripping, fire on full belt to warm up house for a bit, water on for bath, cuppa and a little read in the bath where I do admit to falling asleep for about 10 minutes. Then afterwards, fell asleep for about 30 minutes.

Out to dinner at the hotel that night and I do really think that eating out is an expensive luxury and grossly overrated. We were being treated but I still think it is a waste of money, if they didn't want me to cook, we could have had some sort of a takeaway and chatted at home. The hotel was one of those which has just this last couple of weeks been taken over and totally refurbished in the ground floor, even though it's only a few years old. It's been rebranded in a warehouse style, lots of exposed bricks, 'flames' in fires between room sections and painted furniture, urban style. Flashing disco type lights on the bar and too loud, not our kind of music, which for some reason, was unable to be turned down.

The next day they were off so I went back to the hotel, husband had to go to work, to see them off, so we had a coffee before they went.

Husband said afterwards to my son, that I was 'magnificent' in coping with the visit as I'd done most of the hostessing.

Saturday afternoon, I went to fill up the Defender with diesel and didn't need to do any shopping at all, so much of the food was untouched. In the afternoon, I called to a jumble sale to see if I could find some long sleeved long in the body sweatshirts for husband to trash at work. I managed to find, one pink M & S cashmere sweater, c/w two moth holes, both of which can be sorted, one angora jumper and a couple of other things. Today, I've been reading my travel book of cycling around the UK, knitting, washing the two woollies I bought to rid them of any possible moth residues. My No 1 (only) son visited and told us about his impending house move, and quite a nice day really. Leftovers from food bought in for tea, a bit of an easy day. Rained on and off all day.

I've just downloaded a pattern for crochet socks, sideways and started to print it off but annoyingly, the printed ran out of ink after two pages. I have a new printer so can't refill the ink, will have to wait tomorrow to instal the new one.

That's enough for now, I'm exhausted thinking of it all.






All that will too quickly grow back but it should take two or three years before it gets back to the former state. The idea was that between the two bridges, one the M6 and the other the main road, as it is a bridlepath as well, the bit jutting out prevented sight round the corner and if you were coming downhill fast, or riding down, people coming other way couldn't be seen. Apparently our work was almost £300 in value.

Next time I have a picture of my Wingspan scarf to show you, after all this time of knitting and then leaving in the cupboard over summer. Until then.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

BEING A BIT BUSY

As Mother in Law and her partner are coming to pay a visit next week (not to stay, phoooor) I've been thinking of what I can give them to eat without getting into my usual panic mode and last minute cooking, then having too much stuff in the fridge that I lose things in their, never to be seen again until they're compost. Last week I made a Shepherds Pie base from a recipe which was in Country Living Magazine a few years ago, named something like a Proper Ragu. I have made it with Quorn mince too and it is a nice flavour. I haven't made a Quorn one yet but that's not a problem. I only put the base in the freezer as sometimes I think that potatoes go a bit wet after being in the freezer. Today I made a casserole and it is as I speak in a slow cooker and I'm going to take it out in about half an hour and let it cool, then I will freeze that. I also made a veggie and bean stew for me.

Now I've finished my blanket I am at a loss what to do. Not that there is nothing going on but I have a few things waiting, half finished. I think I'm going to continue with my Noro chevron tank top. That would brighten up a dull Autumn/Winter day nicely, the colours are gorgeous. Then I have a Wingspan scarf to finish. And socks!

I've been going through books like wildfire for the last few weeks, but nothing much of note, as they have been ones requiring very little concentration to be despatched to the charity shop immediately. Some of my friends/acquaintances are like me in that they like to read children's books of note, ie adventure, old school and horsey/riding books. Some of them are collectors' items and one particular author has written a complete set of books which encompass a ballet series and a horsey series. This is Lorna Hill, who started writing books for her children which started to be published in 1948. I now have the whole series, collected piece by piece. I had a few when I was a girl then they disappeared and when I realised they could be obtained, started collecting.

I love the Arthur Ransome books involving stories around the Lake District, like Swallows and Amazons, Picts and Martyrs, Pigeon Post and Winter Holiday. I'm not too keen on the sailing on the broads ones. The first four I have re-read recently, with as much enjoyment as if I had been a teenager.

I'm now reading a book about a guy cycling around the coastline of Britain. There are various books describing this but this one is written in a very humorous manner and although it has been put aside for a while, have picked it up and enjoying it. It is called "One Man and his Bike" by Mike Carter. It is described as "Wonderful" by William Fotheringham, who is an expert on cycling stories.

On Sunday I went to a memorial invitation bike race just past Knutsford, and my Mum actually turned up. She wouldn't come with me so I told her to drive herself, then she could go when she wanted to. She was so pleased to have gone, and saw so many of her old friends, whom she hadn't seen for years and years. I saw lots of people there too.

I actually only took one photo, usually I take lots. Nobody would remember most of the names and I don't know some of the newer ones.  I just took this picture of a young man who rides for the Rapha Condor team who feature well in the Tour de France and the Tour of Britain, and he competed in the latter race. He had raced in a hill climb at Llangollen in the morning and then drove over to Cheshire to compete in this race, partnered in the two-up by another member of the Rapha team, who used to be a rider but was not involved in the team training etc. The young man's name is Richard Handley and the other member of the team was John Herety. Richard is pictured with his girlfriend.

I know it probably won't mean anything to most of you, but he was such a lovely young man and was most bashful when I asked to take his photo. I think he has a great future ahead of him as he is only 23.

That's it for now. I'l try to find something more interesting to write about, I've got an idea but it is something in the past, as there's not much going on at this time of the year.

Friday, 4 October 2013

BRIGHT RIPPLE BLANKET IS FINISHED

Hurray, it's at last finished, bar sewing in ends etc. Here's a picture of it before I give it to its new owner.





























Today I went around the corner to see the three Bengal kittens that my friend has. Two of them are going in about two weeks, so I'm pleased to have seen them before they go, the last time I saw them they were blind mice! Now they're running around the house like wild things. Gorgeous!

I am sorry about the quality of the pictures but those kittens just wouldn't stay still and the room was a bit dark.















This looks really funny, as it looks like a cat in two colours!














This is Daddy, who is also a Champion!

























Like most people in the UK, we have had a lot of rain in the last couple of days but it's still warm. Apparently coming warmer over the weekend too. I'm hoping to get out on Sunday to go to finish of a bike race, where older great named bike racers race with a younger one, and it is by invitation only. It's always a chance to see people I've not seen for years, some I saw the last time, and we are all getting older.

I sold a bike on Ebay last week. It was my lovely vintage French bike, by Cycles Gitane, a very lightweight one that I bought when I was thinking I would ride about the parks, in a very girly manner - but - I didn't!  I have used it quite a few times but so little that the new tyres I bought still had the rubber strip along the centre, which wears off after a few hundred miles. It was quite fast for short distances, but with it being a lady's bike, rather than a road bike, it wouldn't have been a bike for distances. Anyway, it's always difficult to get little jobs done on older bikes and the brakes could have been better, so even though I didn't get what I really wanted, it's gone. And to a good home too! A lady bought it for her daughter for Uni, which is where I hoped it would go. The family were also bike mad, and said the bike was far better than they had thought and couldn't believe how light it was.

Bye, Bye, Gitane! I know you will be loved and used.



















Well, nothing really has happened since Yarndale. Mother in law is coming to see us, not staying but I am having to think of places we can go to, difficult because they are from a very scenic place and so what can I show them over here. I suppose there is the Trafford centre! And what can I feed them on too?

Well, that's all folks. Till the next time.










Tuesday, 1 October 2013

YARNDALE

I had a wonderful weekend after deciding to visit Yarndale at Skipton on Saturday 28th September. Having discovered the train fare was no cheaper booking in advance, I left it until the very last minute to decide whether to drive or go by train. I chose the train and was very glad I'd done so as the traffic was so very heavy through Skipton town. I like train travel too, as I can relax.

It was going to be a warm day so I didn't take a coat and it was a bit chilly going out at 7.30 for the train to Leeds. Wish I'd put a scarf on. Never mind, would be indoors most of the time. When I scurried from the Transpennine Express to the local train which took us to Skipton, I met some other people going to Yarndale, in fact most of the passengers were going and there was absolute mass excitement as everyone had been waiting for the day. The station had been decorated in honour of the occasion with bunting.

There are lots of pictures, so click on them and they will come up lovely and large!!!

You could either walk through the yarn bombed park or take the lovely decorated red Routemaster bus up to the cattle mart, where Yarndale was being held. I wanted to see the studio that Lucy from Attic24 shared with Handmade Over Yonder. Most people who are interested in crochet will know Attic24's beautifully colourful blog and Handmade Over Yonder makes gorgeous long legged dressed linen mice and rabbits, and a magnificently handsome Mr Fox, complete with tweed breeches, waistcoat and scarf. Sadly, I forgot to take a photo of him and the mice/bunnies as there was so many people crowding in a tiny room which is the studio.

Whilst I was there I had a pot of tea and an almond croissant, which was a good choice.

Coopers Cafe, the Studio is above.


















Lucy's ripple blanket and posy cushion 














A pretty crochet border for an uncurtained window





















The very varied menu at Cooper's Cafe. Lovely friendly staff too.

A quick trip up to the town from there, brought me to the canal bridge and just as I reached the top, coming towards me I recognised Heather from the blog Tiny Tin Bird. Heather is another superb crocheter and her blog is about the lovely blankets she makes and her little, Tiny Tin Bird, son, who just recently was one! I stopped and said "Are you ........"   struck dumb, and she said "Yes". Then I remembered it was Heather and she was with her Mum. When you meet a blogger you have only read about, it makes the blog real when you meet the actual person. I told her who I was and she said she recognised me from the photo on facebook.






















One of the historic buildings on the way to the town.






































































A quick walk back to the station (I didn't need to have done that as the bus went through the town), to get the yarnbombed bus! It was packed and I had to go upstairs, I've not been upstairs in a bus for years and years, and it quite took me back.

Eventually we arrived at the cattle market and disembarked. The entrance for bus passengers was at the back, right into the sheds. Everyone was getting really excited and we all paid our £5 and went in. It was so very busy, it was difficult to move for people standing around in the aisles talking. I wanted to poke my elbows out and get past, as I love to have a quick look, then go back. I hate sauntering, as it's very hard on the knees and joints. It just showed the success of the advertising that there were so many people.

















There was just so much to see, it was like being a child again in a sweet shop. How could you decide what to buy? I had made up my mind I wasn't going to spend a lot of money as I had loads of yarn already waiting to be used. Also wouldn't make any expensive snap decisions. I did buy about 6 balls of Drops yarn, one a pinky marl sock yarn, so very soft, a purple one the same and then a couple of balls of Alpaca for my Mum.

I came to a central area and was amazed to see above me, the thousands of triangles that had been crocheted into bunting. These came from all over the country and indeed from outside of the UK. I can't believe how much time must have been spent putting this together!


















I was trying to find the knit and natter area where Lucy had a display set out. Eventually I found it, She had all her crochet blankets, ripples, granny squares, a beautiful posy cushion and an exquisite flower scarf in an amazing luxury blend yarn. I was pleased to find that the Stylecraft acrylic yarn that she has used on some blankets and projects, felt wonderful to touch, and despite my yarn snobbery of not liking acrylic, it is much nicer than the one I am using for the child's knee blanket and wish I had bought the Stylecraft. One of the highlights was a crochet covered lampshade that Lucy had been showing, stage by stage, on the blog. Heather had done a display of crochet houses in a street which was also incredibly lifelike. Sorry I didn't get a picture of that either, as I managed to get a few words with Lucy and she is as nice as her blog shows her to be. There were so many people had come and wanted to talk to her.




















Another highlight was a pen with Alpaca in.  I am a sucker for sheep and alpaca and these animals didn't disappoint. Their fur was so bouncy, you can see why it makes such good insulation in the cold weather. They are such pretty animals and if I ever had some land, that is what I would have. There were adults and two bigger baby ones.





















There were so many people that I didn't feel like queueing for ages for something to eat, so I waited. Just had some soup and a roll, then a chocolate muffin and coffee afterwards when it had gone quieter. I then walked over the car park to get the bus back to the station. A lovely end to a fantastic day. I hope they have another next year.

On the station, I came across the same ladies I'd travelled from Leeds with, so I joined them on the way back, they were going to Liverpool. We chatted and laughed all the way back, and the journey lasted no time at all, no chance to sleep, which was what I was going to do!

On the way back to Leeds, the line goes past Saltaire, which has now been restored and what a grand building it is. There was a whole community built around the mill. I would love to pay a visit sometime.

The view in the sunset, from the top at Leeds Station.

































Apparently Yarndale was an idea which germinated at a Knit and Knatter group and a committee was formed and it took off from there. I can say it was a well run event, and there was such a lot of organisation required to put together this. You all did well! Congratulations.


That's really all I am going to talk about this time, I've already written far too much. Until next time folks. Sorry if you aren't interested in knitting/crochet but I know there are a few that will be.