Friday, 26 February 2016

Five on Friday Spring Garden

The garden is edging back to life so I thought I would share the plants that are beginning to emerge for my Five on Friday. They bring so much promise and hope that although much of the garden still looks brown and uninspiring, things are beginning to stir. 

1. Helebores

The Helebores are always the first flowers of the year in my garden. They live in a very shady spot at the back, but their cheerful flowers peek out brightening that dark corner. I love the way their heads nod and appear shy but when you get close up they have dramatic impact with their beautiful markings. They look so delicate but are tough enough to withstand snow and frost regardless.

2. Daffodils

It is impossible to look at a daffodil and not smile. They are so exuberant in the way they push themselves through the earth with their acid green shoots and burst into yellow trumpets of joy.
These Tete a Tete's are always the first to pop up and shine.

3. Primulas

The primulas come up year after year bringing paint box colours to the garden. The primroses, (which are secretly my favourite) bring bright splashes of yellow to the shady area they share with the Hellebores. 
They are wonderful at seeding themselves around the place too, which I fully encourage.

4. Muscari

One packet of Muscari or Grape Hyacinth bulbs were planted in the front garden many years ago and now they form a carpet across this small area. They come up every year despite being covered in gravel and never getting any sun as the front of my home faces North. The second picture above is of one that has migrated to the gravel path in the back garden. I am not sure how that happened! It is a paler blue and has had it's leaves nibbled by a critter, but is determined and I haven't the heart to remove it. 
(Although it may be moved to a new home once it finishes flowering).

5. Camellia

After a few days of sunshine this week, even though there were some cold, frosty mornings the Camellia is just starting to unfold it's buds. This shrub was one of the first plants to go in the garden after I moved in. It is special to me because it was a gift from my parents. Although I was concerned in the early years that the frost might kill it, it has thrived and never failed to flower every Spring in the many years I have lived here.

Seeing those delicate petals unfolding to reveal the bright yellow centre tells me that Spring is definitely on its way and it is time to get out in the garden again. 

No guesses about where I will be this weekend!

Friday, 19 February 2016

Five on Friday

I regularly read the Five on Friday blog posts and have considered joining in but quickly dismissed it as I am still just getting to grips with blogging. I read Amy's post at lovemademyhome last week and discovered it will be the first anniversary of Five on Friday today and she hoped more people would join in to celebrate, which made me reconsider. 

Time to be brave, so here are my Five on Friday. 
They are a little random but sort of sum up my week.

My very first pair of knitted socks completed this week. I am a fairly basic knitter and the idea of turning a heel has put me off attempting them before. There are so many wonderful yarns that are hard to resist that I was finally tempted to have a go. So I joined the Sockalong Group and bought Christine Perry's wonderful book Super Socks, a set of double ended needles and a 30cm circular needle. It was hard going to begin with and the first sock is not perfect but the second sock was much quicker and I think I am now hooked as I have already bought more yarn for another pair. Well, the wool was on offer so it would be rude to refuse.

There have been some cold and frosty mornings this week but with bright sunny skies too. It is such a relief to see blue sky after the many grey, damp and wet days that seem to have dominated this winter. A friend and I took my crutches for a walk in our local wood. It is part of an ancient woodland that has been protected from development and managed by the Parks Trust. There are some gravel paths and others covered in bark chippings so perfect for disabled access. It is not quite the same as walking in my beloved Yorkshire Dales but great to be able to get out and about and feel the fresh cold air blowing the cobwebs away. We were rewarded with this lovely hazel tree showing off it's catkins in the sunlight. 

There is something very relaxing about crocheting basic granny squares. I have been working on these 3 inch squares for Jill at Emerald Cottage who is planning to create a banner to raise awareness for World Autism Awareness Week in April. Jill is also running the London Marathon to raise money for the National Autistic Society. This charity is close to my heart because I did voluntary work in a nursery for Autistic children many, many years ago. It was quite difficult but incredibly rewarding and encouraged me to follow a career working with children. 

The hyacinths I planted in January and wrote about here have straightened themselves up and look much better than expected. Nature is amazing! They smell wonderful too and it is great to be greeted by their perfume as soon as you walk in the door.

Work in progress. A friend came round with instructions for a Twiddlemuff  and asked if I would make one or had any spare wool to donate to a local group who create them. I had never heard of a Twiddlemuff before but apparently they are really useful for patients with  Dementia. They provide comfort and warmth and something to twiddle rather than plucking at clothing or pulling out medical equipment. The instructions are very straight forward and a great way to use up left over stash. I am looking forward to decorating it with crocheted flowers, buttons and all the other thousand things in my 'bits and pieces' drawer.  

So that is my Five on Friday and was not so difficult. 
I just hope I can link it in now.
Fingers crossed!

Monday, 15 February 2016

Stitching Together (JETS February 2016)

Well, I think I can safely say the February JETS meeting on Saturday was a success. We started the group last September and initially it was difficult to find a regular meeting place, which led to a few complications. But with the help of some super people in our local community we now use the Parish Council meeting hall. This is a lovely building which has been converted from the old village Cartshed.

Logo by Mike Spike

Now we are becoming more established, numbers in the group are steadily rising. There were 4 new faces on Saturday and there was a lovely buzz with everyone busy and chatting. The age range of the students is from 5 to 12 years and with the volunteers, mums and a few grandparents it created a lovely atmosphere. 

There was lots of industry too.

Three students chose to finish their Miss Mouse project from January and add lots of embellishments to their mice.

Whiskers and tails and lots of sparkle.

This is a fairy mouse with delicate silver wings.

The rest of the group learned to do cross stitch and make hearts for someone special.

There was a choice of working on Binka or Aide

And these dinky plastic frames kindly donated by a member of our Guild made excellent embroidery hoops.

The cross stitch heart was then stitched onto fabric.

This one was carefully positioned so the Owl peeped over the top of the cross stitch.

Backing fabric and stuffing were added, then great concentration (and a little bit of help) to cut the heart out with pinking shears.

Here are the completed hearts with added bows, beads and ribbon.

Look at that neat stitching above from our 5 years old student. She had never stitched before coming to our January meeting. I think she may take after her Grandmother who is a very talented stitcher.

Some of the older students who are more experienced created their own cross stitch designs.

Here are mother and daughter hearts. 

Mum joined in because she wanted a heart too and her daughter was planning to give her's to Grandma.

It was such a pleasure seeing everyone go home happy with their creations after a busy morning stitching together. 

I just hope they are looking forward to the March meeting as much as I am!

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Travel Bag for sock knitting

The sock knitting is making progress all be it very slowly, but there has been lots of crocheting and sewing too.

 I actually managed to turn my first heel last weekend without too many difficulties. I think that was mainly due to Christine Perry's excellent book Super Socks. She takes you through each step with clear pictures at every stage, whether you use a small circular needle, DPNs or a long circular needle. I am using a small circular needle and DPNs and just getting the hang of using the continental method of knitting with the yarn round the left hand. Don't look too closely as my tension leaves a little to be desired but there are no holes, just the odd wobbly stitch.

I love the way sock knitting is so transportable. It is small and light and would easily fit into a bag so great for taking round to my mother's house, waiting for physio appointments or trips to the hospital. The only problem is I use a small handbag, (it is so much easier to deal with when you use crutches) but it is not big enough to squeeze my knitting into.

I have taken it in a larger bag to appointments but the ball of wool has tried, with some success, to escape, which can be rather embarrassing. Scrabbling behind people's chairs in a waiting room tends to causes a bit of chaos, not to mention odd looks.

So there had to be a solution to this problem.
I enjoy making bags so why not a travel bag for sock knitting.

And here it is............

The pattern is a bit like origami with two squares of fabric. A few simple seams and a couple of folds and you have a draw-string bag with a pocket on each side.  The contrasting fabric creates the interior of the side pockets, so there are no raw edges.

Plenty of room for the knitting............ 

................ and pockets for accessories such as stitch markers, and scissors.

It is big enough to keep the DPNs safe when they are not in use.

Everything is wrapped up neatly and ready for adventures.

 Whilst working on the sock the ball of wool can sit inside the bag to stop it rolling around.

It is working well at home so I am looking forward to testing it out in the wider world.
 It might lead to some sock knitting adventures!

Monday, 1 February 2016

New month, New shoots

It is February already and January seems to have passed in the blink of an eye. January always seems to be a difficult month, usually cold and grey with too many bugs floating around and Spring a long way off. Maybe it is a sign of getting older but for some crazy reason time appears to pass more quickly these days. January has passed quietly without any major problems so I am grateful for that. 

These lovely hyacinth bulbs were discovered in the sale just before Christmas but I did not get around to planting them until the beginning of January. They had already started to sprout, probably in protest at not being planted, but I loved their shiny, purple skins. New buds always give me pleasure and provide a hint of Spring to come.

The first bowl I found was not big enough to take all 5 bulbs so had to have another search as I wanted to plant them together.

This bowl had been in the conservatory full of pretty pebbles but was just about big enough to squeeze all 5 bulbs in. Great, into a cool, dark place in the hope roots would grow and catch up with the shoots.

Oh dear............. spot the mistake that may not be obvious from the photo above.
The sides of the bowl are rounded and the roots have grown down round the side of the bowl, pulling the bulbs with them resulting in this..........

......... not quite the effect I had been looking for!

They don't look too bad sitting on the dresser and I'm fascinated to know how the flower spikes will grow. Will they grow upright or at an angle too?

Better luck was had with pots of supermarket daffodils. 
(Probably because someone else had planted them.)

Just 50p each and they have given so much pleasure, growing, budding 

and finally flowering today, just in time for the new month.

Maybe Spring is not too far away.