Friday, 29 July 2016

Five on Friday - Meeting Friends

Hello, here we are again for Five on Friday with Amy at Love Made My Home. A big thank you to everyone who sent good wishes for my loved one last week and I am happy to report they are feeling much better now. It was very kind of you and meant a great deal to me, thank you.

We have had a much better week, so much so that I had an "Away Day" on Wednesday meeting up with old school friends.  The three of us first met at Senior School at the age of 11 and have remained good friends over the years despite moving around the country with family and jobs. We keep in touch by phone, text and email, but try to meet up at least once a year. It never seems to matter how many months have passed since our last meet, we immediately slip into our easy, happy patter. (Often returning to our giggly, teenage selves.)  Last year we met in London with the fourth member of the group, but as they are living in Singapore at the moment it was just the three of us. Jill hosted our get-together at her home in Cheshire and the pictures here are of her wonderful garden.

Although the day had started with drizzle, blue skies and sunshine quickly developed.

The house and garden look out over the picturesque countryside

The garden slopes gently down into the rolling hills
with gorgeous herbaceous borders on either side
There are so many beautiful plants with some that hold special memories 

At the bottom there is a secret corner surrounded with fruit trees and scented flowers.
The perfect place to relax. 

1. The Journey

It is very fortunate that Jill and I are connected by the train line so it was easy to catch the train from my home town to Stockport, close to where Jill lives. Normally when using the train I use my wheelchair but as there would be no great distance to walk I just used crutches on Wednesday. Here in the UK we have great assistance support on the railway which you pre-book and lovely helpful staff  are there to make sure you get on the train safely. Wednesday was no different and although the lift was broken Julie and Tony made sure I got down the steps without a problem. Apparently if I had been in the wheelchair they would have had to try to reroute the train onto a platform where a lift was working. This must be a logistical nightmare for the route operator. I enjoy train travel and settled down to some sock knitting for the 90 minute journey.

2. Meeting Up

Catherine drove over to Cheshire from Yorkshire (our home County) in the morning and they were both on the station platform waiting for me. After big hugs and big smiles all round it was like we had seen each other the previous week. It must be the sign of true friendship that you can just pick up where you last left off.

3. Lunch

Jill is a wonderful cook and had made a delicious lunch for us which included the most scrumptious strawberry tartlets. I really should have taken a photograph of them but I'm afraid we had demolished them before I thought about it. We were too busy chatting and eating to think about the camera.

4. Catching up (and a little bit of planning)

We spent the afternoon in Jill's glorious garden catching up on all our news of family, holidays and plans for the future. Next year we will all share a big birthday so we hope to make next year's meet-up extra special. Nothing was decided but instead of just meeting for the day we might make it an overnight stay. Lots of ideas and lots to consider as a special birthday has to have a special celebration. The biggest hurdle is going to be finding a date - somehow I think we will manage!

5. Home again

Our time together passed far too quickly before it was time for me to get back on the train and for Catherine to drive back over the Pennines home. There is something very special about friends who have known each other from childhood. That is not to say other friendships are not important too. People who  remember and share your history, and have always been there for you no matter what are very precious.

This will be the last Five on Friday until the 2nd September while Amy takes a well earned break during August. I shall continue to try and blog at least once a week as there are several new creative projects on the go at the moment, which I hope to share. I am finally getting into Instagram after a nervous start so there will be pictures there too of recent "makes". Thank you for reading my blog and hope to see you again soon.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Five on Friday - Day Out

Hello, Friday has come round quickly this week and I am joining up with Amy at Love Made My Home for Five on Friday.

This is not the Five on Friday post I intended this week. A friend and I were planning to have a day out at Stowe Gardens on Wednesday. Stowe was originally owned by the Temple family who were very influential in British political life during the 18th Century. It was during this time that the magnificent garden landscapes we see today were shaped. Stowe House is currently an Independent School and the gardens are owned by the National Trust and open to the public. It was photos of this wonderful landscaped and unique Temples and Follies that I planned to share. 

When you care for someone, plans can easily go array. It may have been the sudden heat we have been experiencing this week in the UK but the love one I care for was not feeling very well. Not ill but I felt it was best to stay in close range on Wednesday. So instead of sweeping landscapes, a wonderful lake and historic temples it was a quick walk round our local lake!  

Here are a few pictures of the things we saw, not quite as interesting and not really five but an enjoyable stroll none-the-less. They were taken with my phone camera as I foolishly forgot to put the camera in my bag.

1.Furzton Lake (North side)

It was a very warm, overcast morning and the lake looked tranquil. A good place to unwind and enjoy some fresh air.

2. Heron

The heron in the reeds was very successful and enjoyed a great mid-morning snack. We were amazed at how many small fish he caught in the short time we watched him.

3. Iris

The yellow iris had almost finished flowering but these two brought a flash of colour in the reeds. 

4. Canada Geese

Canadian Geese migrate to the area every Spring and spend the Summer on the lake rearing their young. Their behaviour intrigued us as suddenly, a large flock flew down the length of the lake closely skimming over the water. They came to a water-ski landing close to where we were standing. The way they land on the water always makes me smile no matter how many times I see them do this. The noise is great too as the water swooshes into mini bow waves.

Then they sorted themselves into a line with the front goose honking loudly and set off paddling back to where they had come from.

More and more joined the line just like a goose conga dance paddle.
(I don't think the two in the foreground wanted to play as they steadfastly ignored the conga line and remained where they were as the others disappeared!)

5. Furzton Lake (South side)

We walked on a little further before turning for home. It was lovely to see so many people enjoying the outdoors: fishermen and model boat enthusiasts, mums and children, cyclists, joggers and runners. It may not have been the day we planned but it was a pleasurable morning just the same. 

Monday, 18 July 2016

Gift Tag Cards

Summer has arrived at last and we have had a glorious sunny weekend. It is so good to open the curtains in the morning and see wall to wall blue sky. 
(And not cloud over by 9.30 a.m. as it has been doing recently).

 It almost feels like being on holiday. I had to turn the bathroom cabinet out to find some sunscreen as being very fair skinned I turn lobster coloured very quickly. It was a pleasure to potter about in the garden, have meals outside, knit under the sunshade and generally soak up the warmth. The little time spent indoors, after finishing off the washing and other chores that could not be ignored involved making a few cards.

I found these calico gift tags in a sale recently and thought I could probably use them for something creative. At less than a £1 for a pack of 6 they begged to come home with me - honest.

Going to my default mode of flowers I thought some applique would work well.

The calico was sturdy enough to free machine embroider quite easily. I was initially undecided whether to tidy up the frayed edges of the calico with a border stitch, but thought the shabby chic look worked quite well so left them raw.

A brad was added and some ribbon threaded through to complete the "tag" look. It is probably just as well my immediate neighbour is deaf as she might have wondered what I was doing on a sunny Sunday morning bashing away with a hammer. My hands are not strong enough to use the proper brad tool and I find using a hammer much more satisfying (and quicker!). 
Colour coordinated buttons were added for a finishing touch.

The tags could have been left to add to gifts but as my card box is still quite depleted I thought I would use them to decorated cards.

This card pack was another bargain buy in the sale and with some pretty papers added...

...they made an ideal background for the tags.

They needed a little something else to finish them off but I did not want to commit myself by putting 'Happy Birthday', 'Best wishes' or 'Thank You' on them just yet so I went back to sitting in the garden. This was thinking time of course, not relaxing in the sun you understand.

It must have worked because I had the idea of making little fabric legends. By printing and stitching strips of fabric like so...

.....they would be ready to attach to the card of choice when required.

Having added these new cards to the card box, I went back into the garden for a celebratory glass of something cool. 

The perfect end to a lovely weekend.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Five on Friday - Projects Old and New

Joining with Amy at Love Made My Home for Five on Friday.
This week has been a mixture of completing old projects and starting new ones. Although with the number of unfinished projects still to be completed, it is a little crazy starting new ones. But sometimes the mood or inspiration strikes and surely it would be foolish not to go with it?

1. Shirley and Friends

Shirley, who introduced herself in the last post is now on her way to Yarndale. This was an enjoyable project and it will be interesting to see pictures of the other sheep created for the Woolly Sheep Sale in aid of Martin's House Hospice. I hope to be able to attend Yarndale one day, but it will not be this year. It is held in Skipton, North Yorkshire where I spent many happy times, while living in the area when I was younger.   

2. Spiral Staircase Shawl

The Spiral Staircase shawl has been on my needles for some time, but is finally finished, yippee! This is a lovely simple pattern that is easy to pick up and put down at odd moments. It packs up small and has been to many different appointments and worked on in waiting rooms. I also found it useful for when I was too tired to do anything else but wanted something to occupy my hands. The yarn is Drops Fabel, Berry Dreams and reminds me of Autumn fruit compote.

3. An Odd Sock

When looking back at photos I realised this sock was started back in March and I only finished it yesterday. How long is it going to take me to complete it's mate?! The problem is I quickly fell out of love with the yarn and the mini loop needle I used for it. My first and only completed pair of socks were created using a basic metal mini loop and were enjoyable. This pair were upgraded to a bamboo mini loop and the yarn did not slide in the same way, making it more awkward. It is no doubt my basic knitting technique rather than the tools that are causing the difficulties. Having knitted this one on the bamboo needles, probably it's mate should be too. Perhaps it is time to experiment and see if there is a vast difference if I go back to the metal needles for sock two. As they are for me it should not matter if they are slightly different but there is something in my nature that struggles with this.

4. Couthie Shawl 

This scrummy hand dyed yarn from Truly Hooked has been in my stash for some time, along with another skein that I foolishly forgot to photograph before winding it up. As soon as the Spiral staircase shawl was off the needles I could not wait to get started with one of them. 
Choices, choices..........
I decided to go with the lighter coloured skein as it seemed more summery and the sun was actually shining yesterday when I started.

The pattern for this shawl is by the Winwick Mum and can be found here. It is an asymmetric shape and great for draping. The pattern needs a little more attention than the Spiral Staircase but there is a handy chart to print out so each row can be ticked off easily. 

5. Cards (A change from yarn!)

Last week whilst out having tea with friends, I spotted this pack of cards and linen tags marked down in a sale.

There are lots of pretty papers in my stash and with some machine embroidery on the tags they should look good together. That is my project for the weekend.

What are you planning to do this weekend? Whatever it is have a good one.


Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Shirley the Sheep

Hello, my name is Shirley. Shirley the Sheep but my friends call me Shirl.

My Maker, Annie (that's her up in the corner) has let me loose on her blog to tell you all about myself, my friends and adventures.

I am a Yorkshire sheep. Now that may seem odd because I was created in Buckinghamshire but I am definitely a Yorkshire Sheep. You see, I am made from tapestry wool from the Coats mill in Holmfirth, Yorkshire and my coat is mohair from the British Mohair Spinners. Sadly BMS is no longer there as the mill in Low Baildon, West Yorkshire was closed down many years ago. My coat was made from a scrap left over in My Maker's stash, so you could say I was Vintage. She has a very nice cardigan in it, that is still going strong after many years, so you can tell it is good stuff.

It is probably best if you do not look too closely at my bare wool because I look as if I have sat in something unpleasant. Something to do with dye lot, whatever that might be. Hopefully no one can tell when I have my coat on and I would rather not take it off as I feel a little naked without it. 

Do you like my flowers? Hand crafted they are, just like the rest of me.

I shall be going on an adventure soon to Yarndale.
Image result for yarndale

This is a wonderful festival of yarny things held every year in Skipton, Yorkshire. Yarndale is held at the Auction Mart where the cattle market is normally. Each year there is a creative project that everyone is invited to join in with and then money is raised from the project for good causes. Last year it was Flowers for Memories raising funds for the Alzheimer's Society. This year the creative project is all about sheep. There will be a Grand Woolly Sheep sale for Martin House Hospice and I am GOING. Little me off on an adventure!

Errr excuse me, but could I just check, I am going to a new home, not for lamb chops? 

Phew, My Maker says there will be a new home if I behave myself as my stuffing would not be tasty even if it was smothered in mint sauce.
Mint sauce? That would ruin my coat.

Anyway here are a few of my friends 

This is Nana Sheep. She is a bit of a matriarch and tries to boss us all around but we just agree with her then do what we like.

She has got a bit of a wonky back leg, so we have to be kind to her. 
Nana is quite a character really and good fun. 

Hannah hails from the Hebrides with her brown fleece and is a bit shy. 

Tessa isn't shy by any means and is always swanking about her tweed coat. She claims she is always cold and needs to wear that scarf but how can a sheep be cold? 
(Particularly a stuffed one made of wool).

Hector likes to pretend he is a Herdwick Sheep but he is as white as snow under that fluffy, brown coat.
His coat is made from BMS mohair too, just like mine, so he is a top notch sheep.

Apparently only one of us can go to Yarndale otherwise the organisers would be inundated. You know what sheep are like for flocking together and causing mayhem.  

I'm off on an Adventure - Yippee

What do you mean "Get in the envelope"?

I thought it would be First Class luxury travel as I am the chosen one.
First Class stamp - oh okay, every sheep has to start her adventures somewhere. 

Note from My Maker

If you would like to join in the Yarndale creative project all the details can be found here.Shirley, Nana, Hannah and Tessa are crocheted and all made from Lucy's pattern at Attic 24 and can be found here. Although only one sheep can be submitted per person to the Woolly Sheep sale, Lucy has very kindly given permission for people to use her pattern to raise funds for other charities. Nana, Hannah and Tessa (and maybe a few more) will be sold in aid of Macmillan Nurses in memory of a very good friend and textile buddy. Hector is knitted and made from Frankie Brown's pattern 'Sheep in Sheep's Clothing' a free download on Frankie's Ravelry page hereHector will be staying with me and will not be for sale.

Friday, 8 July 2016

Five on Friday - Flower Power

Friday has come round quickly this week and it is time to join with Amy at Love Made My Home for Five on Friday. At last we have had a dry week and some sunshine too. Ohh it is so lovely to see blue skies and feel the warmth of the sun. The garden has also enjoyed a few warmer, sunnier days. So my Five this week are all flower related.

1. Growing Flowers

All that rain makes things grow.  Everything has grown with great abundance recently. This picture makes my garden look quite big but it really isn't. It must be the angle of the camera and all the plants crammed into a small space. Well, it does not allow much room for weeds to grow (and even if they do it is harder to find them!)

The delphiniums have been in the garden for many years are were originally light blue in colour  but as each year passes they get paler and are now almost white. I am not sure if it is the age of the plants or the soil conditions that have caused this.  

Splashes of yellow are always cheerful, even on a dull day.

2. Flower Power

This was the name I gave to my entry to the Regional Day competition this year. You may recognise the butterflies if you read a previous Five on Friday blog. All the flowers are created from heart shapes because the theme was "From the Heart". Flowers and gardens are close to my heart so it seemed appropriate to create a garden of love hearts!

There were no prizes this year, which was no surprise as it was created quite quickly with no great detail or embroidery skill. It was a fun piece to make, which I will enjoy hanging on my workroom wall and be a happy reminder of sunny days during the winter. 

3. Flower Containers

The containers, wall and hanging baskets at the back of the house are all filling out now. The cracked and battered wall baskets that get dragged out each year are being disguised with frothy bacopa and red pelargoniums. It is incredible to think it is only a few short months since they were tiny wee plantlets sheltering in the plastic planthouse.

The pots and baskets at the front of the house are slower but just as pretty. They get very little sun as it faces North, but the fuchsias, that are just coming into bloom, seem to like it better here.

4. Floral Bag

When buying two new tops in a sale last weekend I suddenly realised my cotton shopping bag was getting very tatty and it was a bit embarrassing putting these lovely tops in a ratty old bag. It has been washed so many times it is almost disintegrating. Time to make a new one. I loved the old bag because it was big enough to hold a few items of shopping but small and light enough to wrap round my crutch handle without causing me or others injury. So I got the measuring tape out and recreated it in fresh cotton with contrasting trim and flower motifs. (It just had to be flowers!)

5. Flower Close-ups

I take lots of photographs of the garden, but some plants just shout out for a close up picture. The mock orange blossoms have delicate petals and smell so wonderful at dusk. The hermerocallis are so fiery and complex, shouting 'look at me'. The wild geraniums would like to take over the garden but who could resist their sunny faces and the a plain old marguerite daisy is just stunning when you look closely. 

Hopefully the dry weather will last a little longer so even more time can be spent in the garden enjoying the flowers (and the sun, if the clouds break).