Tuesday, 31 May 2011

A Week of Crafting

I hope you are all well and feeling totally chilled.
You will probably remember that yesterday I was telling you that my Bank Holiday had been a bit disappointing and that I hadn't actually done very much.
I got to thinking about this today and realised that even when I am not doing anything I am still doing something and that usually consists of a little thing called crafting.
My hobbies include knitting and sewing primarily with anything else that takes my fancy thrown in for good measure and this week has been no exception.
Here is one weeks work.  One back, two fronts and one and a half sleeves of a baby's cable cardigan, one and a half fronts of a white baby cardigan and a piece of applique which will eventually be made in to a shopping bag.  As you can imagine, I was quite surprised to see how productive I had actually been considering that I also work six days a week, full days not half ones.
I am especially pleased with the applique because as I explained I have never been brave enough to attempt it since my unhappy experience at school.
The two flowers and four leaves have all be fused to the backing material and then machine stitched in place following the very detailed instructions in my Elna Sewing Machine Guide.
Following my success I intend to do a lot more types of applique and can't wait to get back to my sewing class next week.  Watch this space for further details.
I must just let you know that the pink flower stained glass applique I started and showed you in Computers and Applique has had to be pulled out.  It was starting to look all lumpy and my intention was to fuse the flowers to keep them firm and flat.  I'm not sure now whether to re-tack them but to just do a lot more to ensure it remains in place.  I will have to put my thinking cap on or maybe I will wait and have a chat with my sewing teacher.  I'll keep you posted.  Pardon the pun.
Whilst writing I would just like to thank you all for taking the time to take a look at my blog.  My first target was to just have one person take a peak and the next was to get to one hundred page views.  The blog and now reached the heady total of one hundred and thirty five viewings which is beyond my wildest dreams.  However my next target is to receive a few comments from you very kind people.  I did receive one from Roger but since then nothing.  I suspect a lot of you are perhaps looking for other things when you find my site but for those regular visitors I would love to hear from you and promise to reply.  It is probably asking too much but if you don't ask you don't get.
Many thanks to you all and keep on visiting.  Lots of love, Paula x

Monday, 30 May 2011

Lazy Days

Hi Everyone
I am trying to get as many blogs in as possible this week because as it gets closer to the weekend the less opportunity I have to sit at my laptop.
I hope you have all enjoyed your Bank Holiday.  Mine has been abit of a damp squid as far as excitement goes.  Yesterday and today have been spent knitting, which I thoroughly love, reading which I like immensly and watching television which is pretty good.  However when that's all you do for two days it does feel like a waste of ones prescious time.  I know I said that I was looking forward to a time when I could slow down abit but I didn't mean just yet.
I was looking through my photograph archive looking for an appropriate picture and I came across this one.  I love fairies and angels and bought this little beauty a while ago at a craft fair.  I can't even remember which one, I think it was at the Doncaster Race Course but I couldn't be sure, but just looking at her sums up my mood today.  Very sleepy and content with a touch of serenity thrown in for good measure. 
'Give me, kind heaven, a private station, a mind serene for comtemplation.' That was written by the poet John Gay.  It does continue but I like this part best.
Ok well on that note I shall bid you a good evening.  Best wishes from Paula x

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Kruger Brothers

Hi there,
It's been another busy week.  It wasn't until Thursday when someone at my sewing class wished me a happy bank holiday that I realised that one was approaching.  I don't seem to have a minute spare at the moment.  I know that everyone is in the same boat nowadays.  I dream of a time when I can slow down abit.
Today has been a day when not much has been achieved.  I have been forced to take it easy as my body decided enough was enough. 
I slept solid until eight twenty five which is unheard of and then sat and knitted for a good long time.  Breakfast was a huge fry up followed by a photo shoot of my lovely flowers in the garden.
I then sat in bed and started reading a book my son bought me for my birthday last year called Died in the Wool by Mary Kruger (I don't think she is a relation of the Kruger Brothers) and then fell a sleep for a couple of hours.  When I got up I watched a bit of the Waltons on the True Entertainment channel and then it was time to cook the evening meal. 
Why is it that when you are given a lazy day on a plate you just can't help thinking that you could have spent it a whole lot more productively?
Last night was a night to remember however and hence the title of this blog.
Steve and I went to see the Kruger Brothers and what a magical experience it was.
The two guys on the outside are the brothers with Joel in the centre who is the bass player.
It's hard to describe their music which ranges from Irish folk through to classical and out the other end.  They are brilliant.  We were able to have a chat with them afterwards and they are such humble, quiet, gentle characters with hearts as bit as dustbins.  They are the type of people that you want as your best friends.  Wonderful.  Have a browse on u-Tube if you don't believe me.  I can guarantee you will be hooked.
We have seen them three times now at the Deering Banjo Festival held and organised by Eagle Music which is a shop which is the worlds top seller of Deering Banjos.  The shop is great and is in the middle of no where between Huddersfield and Holme Firth in a place called Honley.  Steve owns and runs the shop with his wife and daughter together with an expert team of musicians who know all there is to know about all types of instruments.  My husband has bought a Mandolin, a Deering Banjo and my Ukelele from them together with all sorts of accessories, books and CDs. They are very special people.

I must mention this man too who was the supporting act.  His name is Jon Strong.  What an amazing artist he is.  To look at him I was expecting something fairly ordinary but his voice is so clear and distinct and his guitar playing was just amazing.  He is a really cool person and so funny.  He had everyone rolling about even though he didn't really say anything.  He was just really laid back.  Apparently he has or had his own band called the Jon Strong Band and I suspect there will be albums and u-tube stuff out there.  He was selling a CD last night of his solo songs and I could kick myself that I didn't buy it.  I will when we go to see him at the same venue in September.
And finally,
Here are a few photographs of the flowers in my garden.
I love roses, don't you.  They are pure perfection.

 I took this picture with the camera pointing upwards as the beautiful flower which is an Aquilegia, was hanging down and I couldn't even see what I was photographing.  I love the way the light is shining through the petals.
OK well I'm going now as my laptop has decided to wind me up again.  Why won't it just let me do what I want to do?  The wonders of modern technology I don't think!
Bye for now.  Paula x

Monday, 23 May 2011

New Baby

Doesn't time fly.  It doesn't seem two minutes since I was holding my niece at her christening and now out of the blue we have received the news that she will be having her own baby girl in approximately seventeen weeks or there abouts.  She has only just found out herself as she didn't have any of the usual symptoms.  That must be great.  I was never sick with my son Joe but I felt decidedly queasy which wasn't much fun.  I was six weeks pregnant when we went on a bus trip to Yugoslavia as it was known then.  I have never eaten so many rich tea biscuits as they were the only thing that seemed to settle my tummy. The journey took thirty one hours and was the longest thirty one hours of my life.
It's quite frustrating really as I have just been asked to knit a couple of baby cardigans for a lady who has a stall at Worksop next door but one to mine.  That means no knitting girlie things for the time being.  Never mind there's plenty of time.
Anyway back to the photographs I promised from our day out yesterday.  You may have noticed that the blog I posted has been slightly modified.  I was getting my self in a tizzy last night because things were going all wonky so in the end I gave up and posted it as it was.  I wasn't happy with the layout though so I have been back in to it today, added another picture and have tweaked it slightly.
Above is a picture taken of the Ashby canal.  If you walk down the path from Shackerstone station it arrives at the canal where you can see this bend to the left and the moored boats to the right.  We have had several boat holidays with the Ashby boat company, the last being in April when we celebrated out fourteenth wedding anniversary.  We find boating holidays so very relaxing and the pace of life slows down to a crawl.  Fantastic.

OK well that's all for today.  I am enjoying talking to you all so much and would love to hear from you if you would like to leave a comment.  I seem to be receiving lots of viewers which is absolutely amazing.  I didn't expect that anyone would find me on such a vast network but it just goes to show that there are lots of like minded lovely people out there.  Please keep visiting. Best wishes Paula x

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Birthday Boy

It's my husbands birthday today.  He is fifty and probably won't thank me telling the world.  I'm only three months behind him so there you are, that makes us equal.
Today we had a trip to Shackerstone where there is a lovely old railway station.  They run steam train trips to Shenton which is another old railway station a few miles from Shackerstone.  It was great.  The weather was warm and sunny although it was a little bit windy.

We got out of the train at Shenton and walked through the woods at Bosworth where the battle took place.  The woods were beautiful and every few yards there were information plaques  and sculptures.  It made a  refreshing change to find everything so well kept without the usual graffiti and general vandalism.

The wood ended at Bridge 34a on the Ashby canal so we then had a stroll by the water side enjoying the views and nodding to passers by. We spotted Mr & Mrs Duck with their oh so cute little brood of ducklings. 

 This was the enormous piece of carrot cake that we shared in the tea room on the station at Shackerstone.    It was very tasty in deed.  I didn't finish it all and Steve did kindly help out at the last minute. There's a fund raising shop situated in an old carriage station.  I bought a few craft books which were on offer so I got them for half price which was great.
Well that's a bit about our great day out.  I'll post a few more photographs tomorrow all being well.
It's now bed time. Night Night, God bless.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Computers and Applique

Good morning folks

I'm having rather a difficult morning so far.  It has just taken me half an hour to transfer two photographs and read my emails.  This process should have taken me a couple of minutes tops but due to the age and obsolete condition of my laptop my time has been spent staring hopelessly at the screen whilst the thing decides to do what it was invented to do.  Anyway less of that, all being well once I've moaned and groaned to my lovely husband he might, just might give in and whisk me off to PC World.  We can live in hope.
This is actually what I wanted to show you today.  I go to a Quilting and Patchwork class on a Thursday evening and this is what we are doing at the moment.  It was the start of a new term last week and we are learning all aspects of Applique.  This is a French term meaning 'to apply'.
I was very sceptical when Helen our teacher said that this was what we would be doing because I am mentally scarred following a run in with my needlework teacher and an applique apple on a school apron.  Of course this was many years ago in one of my very first sewing classes at school but the horror of applique has stuck with me ever since.  Apparently this is a common reaction that Helen sees all too frequently.
Well above is my first attempt at facing my fears and I am very happy with the result.  Unfortunately I have a malfunctioning bias tape maker so the black binding you see is all hand tacked before it has been applied.  I hope to rectify this by visiting my local quilting shop tonight.  I need to buy a Clover one as the rest are pretty sub-standard.  I will show you what I mean when I have the new tape maker in my possession.
Right well I would have liked to talk to you all for longer but I have to be out of the house for eight fifteen and I need to shower, dress and apply my face before then.
I hope you all have a lovely day and will chat again soon.  Best wishes Paula

Monday, 16 May 2011

Jane Brocket

Hello again

Today I would like to talk about my latest purchase from Amazon which just happens to be the brand new  book by Jane Brocket.
I have followed Jane's blog from the very beginning and have admired the way that she began in such a small way and evolved in to a force worth reckoning with.  I own all of her books but find that the ones where she talks about her own interests which of course involve her family, to be her most inspiring.
I absolutely love The Gentle Art of Domesticity which show cases her unique style of photography and love of colour.
This is my next knitting project. It's a sloppy chunky plain knit jumper which will be perfect when I'm freezing to death next winter on my stall.  If you would like to visit Jane's blog please click here.

Well I must go now as I want to watch a program all about canal walks.  Will talk again soon. x

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

My New Project

Good morning.  It doesn't look that great from my window but it's early doors and it might just brighten up.
Yesterday I had a run out to a lovely little craft shop in Ollerton, called Heaths Stores, which is about a twenty minute drive from Retford.  I have this visit down to a fine art now as I go in my lunch hour, so with the drive there and back I get exactly twenty minutes to dash round the shop picking up the things that I obviously just couldn't live without.  Forty nine pounds lighter I then make the quick dash back to work.

Here are a selection of the fat quarters (18 - 20 inch squares of fabric) I couldn't resist.  I don't know what I will use them for yet but that hardly matters. The one on the right of the picture will the lining in a patchwork bag I am currently working on.  Following my visit to the art exhibition last Sunday I realised I lacked colour in my life.  I mean bright colour as my taste usually leans towards the typical paler pretty hues.  The fabrics above are certainly brighter than usual but I don't think I'm quite there yet.
Have a great day.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Chocolate Cupcake Recipe

Hi again.

I was thinking quite carefully about what to blog about today.  I had a very restless night last night.  Not for any particular reason but even so it left me alittle frazzled today with not a great deal of get up and go.  All I could think of was getting home to a good meal and a long restful night.  However I couldn't rest knowing that you just might have been checking to see if I had posted anything today.  I am extremely conscious that my blogs don't really contain anything particularly profound and I am also determined not to make this a place where I let off steam about my upsets and grumbles.  My blog has to be a place to escape to, where all is well with the world. And so what was my blog to be about today?  Well all I could think about was scrummy chocolate cupcakes.  I don't know about you but I love to bake and when I find a recipe I like which works well and tastes delicious I have to share it with the world so here it is.  The best cupcake recipe in the world, probably.  Certainly in my humble opinion anyway.

For the sponge

3oz butter or margarine
10oz caster sugar
7oz self raising flour
1.5oz cocoa powder or drinking chocolate
Quarter teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs
8.5 fluid oz milk
Chocolate and marshmallows to decorate

Heat oven to Gas mark 5(375 degrees F) and put paper cases in cupcake tins.
Using a hand held electric whisk mix together flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder with the butter and sugar until the mixture is free of lumps.  Alternatively rub the ingredients together my hand like making pastry.
Mix eggs and milk together in a bowl or jug and add half the mixture to the dry ingredients. Mix slowly and then add the rest and mix until smooth.
Spoon the mixture in to the cases filling two thirds of the way up and cook in the oven for approximately 18 - 20 minutes or until firm to the touch.
Allow cupcakes to cool and spread with melted chocolate topping each cake with a generous helping of marshmallows.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Simon Mayor

Hello All
Let me apologise firstly for not being in touch for so long.  This week has flown by.
On Friday evening me and hubby Steve went to see Simon Mayor and the Mandolinquents in Beverley.  They are a group of four including Hilary James who is the vocalist.  Her voice is beautiful.  I suppose they major in classical music but hit on folk and jazz too.  The evening was very enjoyable with lots of laughs thrown in too.  I would recommend to everyone to go and see them if you get the chance.
The closing song called Spider in the Shed is hilarious.
The Mandolinquents were joined by the Beverley Community Choir who were marvellous in their own right.  They sang a Scottish folk song which reduced me to tears it was so moving.
Yesterday was a day spent on my wool stall in Worksop.  It was another successful day.  Each week sees more customers and the people I have met have all been lovely and very supportive.
Can I say a big thank you to Rojer a gentlemen who left a comment wishing me luck with my stall.  It was great to know that someone had taken the time to leave me a message and it was really appreciated.
Today was spent visiting an exhibition held at the Triton Gallery at Sledmere House in East Yorkshire.
The exhibition was named Form and comprised of art and textiles created by a group of artists, Joan Currie who is a friend of mine, Gill Dearman, Jacqui Riding and Rebekah Staples.
Their work was displayed in three rooms in the gallery and showed a number of different types of art using fabric, threads, felt, paint and one of my favourites, machine embroidery.  The work was awe inspiring and although we couldn't quite afford one of the big pieces we did buy a sweet little machine embroidered picture of the little house with the title Home Sweet Home.  I will show it to you when I get the right light to take a photograph.  We also bought lots of cards showing pictures of our favourite pieces so we have something to remember them by.
The picture above is of the little courtyard outside the restaurant.  The food there was excellent and the homemade cakes to die for.  Not too expensive either which makes a refreshing change.
Anyhow you now know what we have been up to.  Will blog soon. 
Paula x

Monday, 2 May 2011

Knitted Tidy Bag

At last I am pleased to present the knitted tidy bag pattern I promised you a while ago.  Note to myself, never promise something until you are sure you can deliver.  OK here goes.
You will need approximately 100gr of chunky wool and a pair of 4mm (size 8) knitting needles.
Cast on the required number of stitches to make the size of bag you would like.  I used 30 stitches for mine and suggest that you only go up to a maximum of 35 stitches.  The bigger the bag the less stable and more floppy it becomes.
Starting with a knit row continue in stocking
stitch i.e., one row knit, one row purl, until you have a square.  Cast off.
Knit four more squares in the same way.  At this point can I point out that you can use any stitch of your choice.  Garter stitch or plain knit on every row would look lovely.  It's your choice.  As you can see in picture two I have made the base square in garter stitch just for a change.  Once you have completed your squares sew four of them together to form a line, making sure that they all face the same way.  With the right side facing you pick up a number of stitches evenly along the top edge.  The number of stitches will depend on the size of your squares. Now knit a rib by knitting one stitch and then purling one stitch.  When the rib measures approximately two inches. Cast off.
Sew up the final seam and attach the base to form a square.  Turn down the cuff on the outside and stitch it in place.
Hey presto there you have it.
I hope the instructions are simple enough to understand but if you have any questions please contact me.
I now have several of these bags and keep my ribbons, threads and buttons in them.  They are so handy.
Happy knitting, Best Wishes Paula x

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Isn't she lovely?

Oh wow, did you all enjoy the Royal Wedding?  I certainly did.  I didn't intend to get excited over the event as I haven't followed their romance over the years and felt that under the circumstances I was being a little bit of a turn coat suddenly becoming interested.  Then I thought oh what the heck.  If I want to enjoy the whole pomp and ceremony of the day well why not?  So I did.  I didn't watch all the morning stuff as I had a bit of a lie in but from about 10.15am I was firmly glued to the television set.
I decided to have a go at taking pictures and was absolutely amazed at the result. 
I thought that Kate's dress looked beautiful with all the gorgeous lace detail.  Fantastic. Prince William was every bit the gentleman, and they both looked as though they thoroughly enjoyed themselves.  There was none of the stuffiness often associated with these occasions.
Oh and that kiss.  Ahh bless.
I cried through most of the church service and beyond and the whole episode left me very emotional.  Thank you to the BBC for bringing so much joy and hope in to my front room.  I wish the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge a life time of happiness and I think we can all say Amen to that.
Have a great Bank Holiday.