Thursday, 31 December 2015

2015 Round Up

Well here we are again.  This year has flown by. I can't believe it is a week since Christmas Eve.  Where does the time go?
I am feeling all reflective today.  Is that the correct word as it sounds like I am wearing mirrors or something which I'm not of course.  I am looking back on the year that has just gone and have been reflecting of what I have and haven't achieved.  We all make resolutions and most of us fail to even try to stick to them let alone actually do what we promise ourselves we will do.  My resolutions are usually pretty standard.  Do more of this thing, do less of that, eat less, exercise more blah blah blah.  Well on the whole I haven't done any of them! Oh I did join the gym and I have lost weight, I have also gained it again so that perhaps doesn't count.
I will however make my list of new year resolutions again today and this time I am going to go easy on myself and make a more general list.  Maybe "try to eat healthy meals" would be a better resolution.  "Go to the gym twice a week" would be achievable, "blog once a week", "concentrate on one or two projects at a time", I think I could stick to those kind of resolutions and instead of trying to be a saint all the time just be a bit of a saint when time allows and stop worrying when things go wrong maybe.
I did manage to get all my Christmas presents finished on time though which was a major achievement and something I was definitely proud of achieving.
This was a scarf I made on behalf of my Mum for one of my aunties.  It was out of a Louisa Harding book.
A hot water bottle cover made for my friends little girl.  The pattern is Wendy 5849.  I omitted the pocket and made the back the front so the buttons showed.  It is knitted in James C Brett Party Time chunky yarn.
Socks for my friends husband.  These are knitted on two needles in aran and are so easy.  I made some chunky ones recently and am a convert to two needle patterns, they grow quick too.  This one is Sirdar 7181 and I used Cygnet aran wool. 
A scarf for another friend.  This was a pattern recommended to my and can be found on Ravelry.  It is called a Multi Directional Scarf by Karen Baumer and can be downloaded for free.  The pattern is very easy and looks really effective when knitted in variegated wool.  Mine is done in James C Brett Marble double knit.  I actually made four scarves and in total.  I very rarely repeat patterns so you can imagine that I enjoyed making these a lot.

I made Steve's Nanna this scarf and hat which I hope she liked.  I don't usually get any feedback and I will probably never know.  I made her a gorgeous applique bag last year and for all I know she could have put it in the bin.

 The hat pattern is from The Bumper Book of Accessories by Sirdar number 460.  I also did a hat in little squares out of the same book but unfortunately I forgot to take a photograph.  Silly me.

The wool I used for this was another James C Brett one called Woodlander and contains 20 per cent wool.  The scarf only took one ball which makes it excellent value.
Finally I made this lovely chunky hat.  I actually had this for sale in the shop and my Mum bought it for Steph my sons partner.
So as you can see I was extremely busy during the Christmas build up.  I enjoyed actually finishing things which is something of a novelty for me.  I realised that I prefer making small things better than the usual cardigans and blankets I am known for so maybe that should be a resolution too, to make smaller projects in the coming year.
Who knows what we will all have achieved one year from now and on that note all that is left to say is

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

A Happy Christmas and New Year to you all

Wow it's here again.  Hasn't this year flown by?
I hope you are all up to date and ready to start the festivities.  For once I am and I'm very proud of myself.
I think it has helped to be in the shop as I can at least get the cards written and the presents wrapped and even pop in to the town centre every so often to pick up supplies etc. 
I've really enjoyed the build up this year and have actually felt quite Christmassy which is something of a novelty as everyone around me has been saying it hasn't felt like Christmas to them.  I think the mild weather hasn't helped although there is definitely a nip in the air today.
The shop was really busy last week but the past couple of days have been so quiet although I have been able to finish off a few last minute Christmas presents.  I will reveal these later this week as you never know, someone might be peaking.
Anyhow without further ado I will wish you all a very happy and merry Christmas and a fabulous and prosperous New Year xx

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Special Sunday

Sundays are my favourite day of the week primarily because it is the only full day off I get and so I try to treat it with the reverence it deserves.
Hubby has every other Sunday off work which makes it even more special.
Today we decided to have breakfast at Morrisons which is our local supermarket and although this doesn't exactly fit in with my self improvement regime it does improve my quality of life so in a way I think it does help me move forward even if it is in a rather fattening self indulgent way.
We did however decide to go for a good walk in Potteric Carr which is part of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.
I would love to paint this scene but wouldn't know where to begin
This is a beautiful part of our local countryside and a place where I feel most at home at the moment.  The weather was blustery and threatened rain on more than one occasion but it held out long enough for us to grab a good breath of fresh air.
I have decided that as part of my getting better promise I will also share a few more personal photographs of myself with my readers.
I love my winter coat and my handmade crocheted Road Trip Scarf
I absolutely hate my own photographs and struggle to get used to how I look at the moment.  I still imagine that I look like I did in my late twenties and it never fails to surprise me that I don't look young and slim anymore. It is my resolution to get used to the way I look and in time actually like myself again.
A very cold looking sky although it was unusually mild for the time of year

Monday, 9 November 2015

Just when you think everythings going your way!

It was too good to be true.  I had a great day yesterday, very relaxing, really smashing. Unfortunately my Mum was taken in to hospital last night and oh dear everything grinds to a nasty halt.  The doctors thought is was a stroke as she lost a lot of the use in her arms but it turns out to be a nasty chest infection.  I spoke to her last night before bedtime and apart from being tired she seems to be OK.  Thank goodness.  She is 92 years old and these scares really knock you for six.
Well it didn't put me off being good and I managed to prepare a really nice dinner of pork and vegetables.
The carrots and beetroot were harvested from our own garden and so the flavours were beautifully intense.
Mmm I'm feeling quite peckish just looking at those pictures.
Today started well with a good breakfast of porridge, Greek yogurt, honey and sliced banana with nuts and seeds for my snack.

I joined a gym back in June and surprisingly I have kept up my exercise routine although I missed last week due to feeling under the weather.  I managed to do a good workout today and am currently on 7,258 steps on my Mi Fit band. Obviously my goal is to reach 10,000 today and by the time I've rushed round later I should have achieved that without too much trouble.
Oh the above picture has just reminded me that I never showed you my completed Harmony blanket.

I started this back in August and it took about two months of solid work to finish it.  The pattern is over at Attic 24 and I enjoyed every minute of the making process.  I used exactly the same wool and colours that Lucy recommended and it turned out perfect.

At the moment it is on the sofa in the shop but will eventually have pride of place on our bed at home.
 Right well I better shoot off and get some lunch and I'll check in with you all very soon.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Give it a year - 365 days to a new me

For some time now I have been feeling less than great and it is not unusual to see me popping a couple of pain killers into my mouth before I have even surfaced from my bedroom.
I put this down to a number of factors namely
  • Working a six day week - leaving the house at five to seven in the morning and returning at six forty five in the evening.
  • Drinking far too much alcohol when I finally return home in an attempt to 'make the most of my evenings'.
  • Eating a diet made up of carbs, fat and sugar with red meat thrown in for good measure!
  • Very little fresh air.
There are other things too but I'm sure you've got the picture by now so I won't go on.

Anyway I have decided that I have to do something positive to try and bring some balance to my life before I lose the will to live altogether and to do this I am going to give myself a year (yes - it will take that long) to turn things around.
I intend to change everything in my life that isn't perfect and that includes my health, home life, life style, image, attitude, body, the success of my business -  you name it, I'm changing it - for the better I hope.

I'm sick of feeling rubbish and doing exactly the same thing everyday hoping that things will change - that's the definition of madness by the way.

I hope that you all get behind me during my time of transformation and I am determined to make you proud of me.
This is to show you how I look today - not a great picture but the best I have
I feel that I have got my mojo back and think that sharing with my readers will motivate me to get my finger out and actually put by intentions in to full swing.
Well first things first.  I've had a lovely soak in the bath and I painted my finger nails a lovely shade of pale grey.  This made me feel alot better.  Usually I just slap a colour on but for my first day at becoming better I soaked my nails before pushing back the cuticles and painting on a base coat.  Then came two coats of nail varnish.  I did forget to but a top coat on but Rome wasn't built in a day so cut me some slack here.
I also added a peach coloured toner to my hair just to give it a bit of a lift as I do feel that my bleached blond hair could do with toning down a little but my hair just went orange which isn't a good look for me.  Fortunately this was a wash in wash out kind so although I have a little tinge of the jaffa going on it isn't unbearable.  Note to self - do not buy coloured toners from the £1 shop even if they were by L'oreal.  They were in the £1 shop for a reason!

Lunch today consisted of cream crackers and cheese and although not as healthy as I would have wished I didn't want to go shopping on my day off - will try harder tomorrow - I promise.
I Absolutely adore olives and they are good for you as long as you don't eat too many.
Todays goals are:
  • To eat a nutricious dinner with plenty of vegetables
  • Drink some water
  • Relax
  • Get an outfit ready for tomorrow which is simple and stylish.
Have a great day and if you have any advice please leave a comment.  

Sunday, 27 September 2015

This is Me

Sunday mornings are as you will already know if you know me at all my all time favourite part of the week.  I love the peace and quiet and the promise of a lovely homely day doing exactly what I want to do and not having to be any place but home.
Here I sit in my comfy bed, hubby having gone to work (poor thing) thinking about nothing in particular other than what I want to do next.  I am already on my second cup of freshly ground coffee.  This is a true luxury and one we allow ourselves everyday.  We have a little coffee grinder, a caffitiere and thats it.  No instant coffee allowed.
As I was contemplating I happened to glance over to the untidy pile of stuff on the bed and like a lightening bolt I realised that what lay there was a snap shot of me.

There was the brand new bedding I intend to put on as soon as I prize myself out of the existing covers.

I bought this set from Morrisons one day when I was shopping.  It was totally on a whim and as soon as I got it home I realised that although it was me to a tee; patchwork, flowers and spots - it was never going to look right in our bedroom which is cream and beige with french look furniture.  However I couldn't bring myself to take it back and so today is the day that it will go on our bed regardless of the clash of trends and colours.

A crochet book I have just found on the bookshelf that I had forgotten I had.  I do this alot.  I buy a book that I just can't live without.  Bring it home and then instantly forget that I ever bought it.  I have on occasion re-bought the book which is utter madness.
This is such a cool book.  I love crochet although knitting will always be my first love.  Mum bought me a piece of Angeline last week.  Apparently it draws the angels to you and keeps you safe.  I like that idea and in this book there is a pretty pendant to make where you crochet round a stone which I think will be a perfect way of using my present.  I will let you see the finished creation soon.

A Matalan magizine posted through the door.
I am not a follower of fashion but I love looking through magizines and leaflets and often find something that I just can't live without.  I don't often go in Matalan although there is a massive store in Worksop (where my shop is) and occasionally I pop in.  I currently have four pairs of ballet shoes from there which were as cheap as chips and look lovely with pretty dresses and skirts.  I have a painful middle toe and can no longer where my killer heels so they are perfect for me.
My favourite healthy eating book.
Gosh I love this book.  My friend actually bought it and brought it in the shop.  I liked it so much I bought it off her and she had to go and get another one.  It is written in such a way that you can't help but want to eat better.  I have gained so much from the information and the recipes are excellent.  I have made several and they are all delicious.  There are not many health books that I have read cover to cover and although I am still only half way through this will be read in its entirety I can guarantee.
Paula's note book just waiting to be opened and written in.
This is where I put all my insights, dreams and feelings with a hope that one day I will hit on the next big thing or eventually find the holy grail. I made this some time ago and have since done something similar for a friend of mine who loved elephants and was starting a new job where she has to write down lots of information etc.
The elephants were in the form of the fabric I used and she loved it.
My glasses which are so much part of me I forget sometimes that I am wearing them and try to put my others over the top of them.  Very silly I know.
My laptop.  I am nothing without my laptop.  I love the internet especially Pinterest where I can lose myself for hours. This was a present from hubby for my 50th birthday and as I am a few years older now I suspect I will soon need a new one.
And finally the book I am just about to start reading.
This was another find this morning.  I absolutely adore self improvement books.  My brother once commented that they obviously don't work.  He was looking at me at the time which I thought was very rude and something I have secretly never forgiven him for saying!
I read my first self help book over twenty years ago.  It was How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie and it changed my life.  I wouldn't say I follow everything in these types of book but there is always something to take away and think about and if just one thing helps to improve your life I think that is just fine.  Hubby says that I always seem to be searching for something but it's not quite like that.  I am not an unhappy person but I have a feeling that there is something more to this life and as yet I haven't found it.  Maybe one day I will but today I certainly found a little bit of what makes me tick right there in a pile of stuff.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Harmony Crocheted Blanket - Work in Progress

Hello and welcome.  It is so long since I checked in I am hoping that I can remember how to do this.
It's been such a busy summer even though as you can imagine the shop has been a little quieter than usual.

 Unfortunately crafters are often gardeners and caravaners which means that my customers seem to disappear off the face of the earth for the six week summer holidays.  However they have thankfully returned with added enthusiasm and are now stocking up on my lovely yarns and fabrics.
I never thought I could be so happy and totally get why you are told to find something you love to do and then find a way to get paid for doing it.  That's what I have done and will never regret leaving the drudgedy of a mind numbing insurance job to pursue my dream of owning a wool shop.  Eighteen months after the shop opened here I am sat at my own table surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of balls of wool.  I love it.
Anyway now I can show you my latest project.
I have long been a fan of Attic 24 the blog where Lucy tells us all about her crochet and love of colour.  I  started her new Harmony Blanket design about three weeks ago just before I went off on my holidays to Winston near Durham in North Yorkshire.  The holiday was wonderful by the way and I will let you have a peak of my photos at a later date. 
I am very envious of Lucy's ability to choose amazing colour schemes that you would never think of and which really work.  I wouldn't normally dream of putting a vile shade of lime with a beautiful subtle shade of sage but she does and they just zing. 
Obviously that is why her blankets are coveted by just about everyone I suppose.  Note to self - I must try harder to think outside the box!
I stock Stylecraft Special Double Knit in the shop and on the website so that made things a lot easier to get started. I then just copied down the basics of the pattern and off I went.  I did mistakenly start with the wrong hook size but after measuring one of the finished squares it made so little difference that I carried on with a 3.5mm instead of a 4.00mm.

I still have a long way to go as I only have eighteen fully completed squares, the rest are at different stages depending on which one I feel like adding a round to at the time.  I can't stand making one complete square at a time and opt to take one set of nine and add on round and then move to a different set and do a different row on that lot.  It means I am forever referring to the colour chart but it just feels less monotonous.  When the 126 squares are all complete I will then start joining them using crochet.  The final stage is a lovely simple border.  The blanket looks amazing when it is done and on the Attic 24 website there are lots of instructions and tutorials so there is no excuse to get it wrong.  A bit of advice at this stage - I strongly recommend sewing in the loose ends as you complete each round.  There are 12 ends on every square x by 126 squares = 1512 + the border ones!
My friend Sonya is doing the blanket too but she prefers to complete her squares and has changed a few of the colours in an attempt to bust her stash.  I haven't seen her lately but will be interested to see how she is getting on.
Hopefully I will get this beauty finished soon and will be able to show you the end result.  I can't wait.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Bavarian Crochet

My very good friend Sonya came to see me at the shop, bright and early yesterday morning.
Now if you knew Sonya you would know that with every visit she brings with her a brand new crafty project.  Up until recently this was always knitting but just lately she has got the crochet bug and when I say got the bug I mean this is viral!
This is my attempt at Sophie's Garden/Universe

She would be the first to admit that she can't crochet although she is currently happily and easily crocheting along with the Sophie's Garden CAL and the brand new only launched on the 7th April Lily Pond CAL (Crochet A Long - for those not in the know).
She really knows how to push my buttons and always challenges me to have a go.  I have been crocheting since I was about nine and even I struggle with the things she brings to tempt me with.  Unfortunately she knows me better than I know myself and takes great pleasure in persuading me to try yet another form of crochet when to be honest I would happily go to and frow doing granny stripes for the rest of my life left to my own devices.
Needless to say yesterday she asked "Have you ever done Bavarian Crochet?" "No" I replied innocently.  She then thrust a brand new book in to my hands and said "Happy Easter".
I must say I was pretty pleased even if a little apprehensive but after she left I had a go, as she no doubt knew I would, and produced this quite lovely square.
Bavarian Crochet

I wouldn't say that this is my favourite type of crochet however the results are stunning and once I got the hang of it it did become quite easy.  There are a lot of double trebles involved (Double Doubles for our US guests) but in its favour it certainly uses up the spare wool stash very quickly in deed.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Newark in the evening

Hasn't the weather been glorious this week? Such a change from the horrible freezing cold we have been subjected to recently.
After work last night hubby suggested a quick run into Newark for a walk along the river.  Needless to say I jumped at the chance to stretch my legs.

As you can see the sky was lovely and clear and believe it or not I wasn't even wearing a jacket, it was so mild.
There were some canoes on the river.  I think there was a lesson going on.
How the other half live!

As a treat we decided to stay and have a meal at Pizza Express.  Wow we were a bit stunned at how expensive that little impulse turned out to be, however it was delicious and the odd indulgence can't hurt once in a while can it? It was lovely and we felt as though we were on holiday. Back to work today though and looking forward to our next excursion.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Rose Flavoured Cupcakes

I don't get that much time off nowadays but when I do I still love to bake.
Like many people I have been watching the Red Nose bake off over the last couple of weeks and as a result I decided to make a few little buns.  Not red nose ones but even so I really enjoyed making them.
I always use the same recipe given to me by my good friend Lucy Murray.  We worked together for about six years before I quit to run my own wool and haberdashery shop.

The ingredients I used are as follows:

6oz Margarine or butter
6oz caster sugar
3 eggs
7 oz self raising flour

Cream the margarine and sugar together. Beat in the eggs and fold in the flour.  That's it.

I added 1 teaspoon of rose water to the mixture to give them a lovely unusual flavour.

I got a bit carried away with the decorations.I made a butter cream icing using 8 oz of icing sugar and 3 oz of margarine.  I didn't use as much margarine as usual because I didn't want the icing to be too sickly.
I also added half a teaspoon of rose water to carry through the Turkish delight flavour.

The flowers were made using fondant icing and flower and blossom cutters.

The cupcakes tasted gorgeous with just a hint of the rose flavour coming through.