Friday, 29 April 2016

Five on Friday: New beginnings

For Five on Friday this week I thought I would share some new projects that have begun  this week. Is it the effect of Spring? There have been some very chilly mornings but the sun has shone creating a mood of optimism. Time to start new challenges.

1. My first ever CAL

Until recently I did not know what a CAL was. A friend mentioned she was doing a knitting KAL and I had to ask her what she meant. Apparently it is an event where people get together to knit or crochet for a common purpose. Shortly after our discussion I came across Marinka Slump's blog and read about her last CAL idea: Last Dance on the Beach. Her story, which you can read here, really struck a cord with me. Although I have been very fortunate not to have been personally touched by mental ill health I have friends who cope with it in their families. It is often hidden and can be a sadly neglected area of health provision. 
This inspired me to take part in my first CAL.

I chose "Dance in the Sea" as the colours reminded me of many happy years sailing in Greece and Turkey. Whenever I need to relax I try to imagine I'm on a beautiful beach or splashing in the sea. My days of dancing on the beach maybe over but in my head I am skipping and twirling across that sand!

The first week's squares are completed and I have learned to do popcorn stitch. They just need blocking now - another new skill to add to the list.

This week, Week 2, it is star stitch and attempting to get the tension correct to match the sample tension square. 
I am looking forward to learning lots more stitches and skills over the coming 14 weeks.

2. New Shoots

There are lots of pots in my garden and half the pleasure of filling them is growing the plants myself.I do not have the space to grow everything from seed so cheat by growing some plants on from mini plug plants.

There is something very satisfying about potting them on into progressively larger pots and watching them grow. They can be quite demanding; having to make sure they are warm, have enough light, ventelation and are well watered. However, they bring irresistible pleasure when I go out each morning to check on them.

They start out on a rack in the conservatory.........
.......... then graduate to the plastic mini greenhouse in the garden to toughen up.

It has been a challenge this week with frosty nights but they are looking pretty healthy. 
Fingers crossed they stay that way.

3. New Knitting

After the success of the Spiral Staircase shawl I shared last week I decided to start another. This time in pinks and purples.

It looks darker in this photo than it actually is but I like the randomness of the stripes.  My mother recently gave me all her old knitting needles and the pair I am using here were from that set. I am not sure if it is all the years of use but the yarn moves really smoothly on them and they are a pleasure to use. 

The points have been altered and are slightly smaller and shallower than the original pattern. I'm not sure whether to decorate them with tassels again or maybe go for beads this time. That is a decision for when the knitting is finished.

4. New Buds

Despite the cold and frost this week the cherry tree blossom is just beginning to emerge. It is a miniature tree, which was planted two years ago and is growing in a large pot. 

Last year it actually bore fruit with small bunches of cherries. It was most unexpected as I thought the tree would need to be more mature. A real treat of tart, juicy berries. Mind you, the blackbirds were quick to spot them too! 

5. New start on an old project

These needle cases were started quite a while ago but have been sadly neglected in a drawer in the workroom. The linen outer covers were prepared with Liberty Lawn strips and a couple had been embroidered. I finally picked up my sewing needle again this week and progress is being made.

There are two more to embroider then completion of the inside can begin. Soon, (very soon I hope) there maybe new stock for my Etsy shop. It has been a long time coming!

Well, I had better get on with more stitching,
or shall I knit,
the crochet squares need finishing too............

Linking up with Amy at Love Made My Home

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Spring Birds (JETS in March)

Although March was a strange month JETS junior textile group went ahead as usual. You can find out more about the group here. It has taken me a while to upload and post the photos! We decided to make some Spring Birds that could be hung as decorations to welcome the new season.

First cut out a circle and wings in felt and decorate them. M decided she wanted a goggly eyed bird so chose lovely big buttons.

Some of the older members of the group learned to do fly stitch to create a feather effect.

Fold your circle and stitch the edges together. Lots of concentration needed to do blanket stitch. (I have just noticed the pin holding the beak in place which looks rather dangerous, but there were no accidents, so phew, care must have been taken.)

Add a beak and legs whilst stitching together and stuff your bird with wadding. Some students added tails and finally add a ribbon to hang your bird up.

Here are our flock of Spring Birds.

I love the way every bird has it's own character!

There was more fun at this month's meeting but as it was a two session project I'll post about that next month.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Catching Up with Five on Friday

March and some of April has flashed past spent mainly helping and caring for a loved one. I am back home now and enjoying having full internet access again. Yes it is available on my mobile phone but I just cannot get on with the small screen for more than the essentials. I am having fun catching up with blogs, seeing what friends have been up to and having instant access to information. The enforced cyber holiday had its merits, but having the phone was cheating really. The ability to send and received texts and messages from friends was a great support at a stressful time. It seems like forever since last taking part in Five on Friday. My Five this week are  things I have been trying to catch up with.

1. The Garden

The garden has been busy getting on regardless with the arrival of Spring. Bulbs growing and flowering. A blackbird has been very busy building a nest in the ivy on the back fence. There has been lots of activity from the wrens too who seem to favour the hedge. The beauty of nature is that it just gets on with doing its own thing, responding to the seasons, light levels, temperature and weather. Spring is definitely my favorite season.

The renewal of life brings hope. Shaking off the darkness and shadows of winter. Some of the shadows may remain but seeing the first flush of colour from plants and trees and watching the birds building new homes brings a lightness to my heart.

2. Time to walk in the woods

The weather has been kind this week and a friend and I went for a walk in one of our favourite places: the local wood. The bluebells looked glorious in the sunshine together with celandine and wood anemones.

We found a path we had not explored before and it led to a small pond with a very handy bench close by. So we sat enjoying the sunshine and listening to the birds and the drumming of a woodpecker high up in the trees. Suddenly a muntjac deer appeared making its way quietly through the undergrowth.

A delightful afternoon was rounded off with a visit to the cafe, which has the best home made cakes. We sat outside overlooking another pond and a heron arrived looking for a fishy snack, whilst we enjoyed tea, lemon cake and chocolate chip shortbread.

Yarny Projects
3. Crochet

My ripple blanket was finally completed this month. I discovered Attic 24 last year and was inspired to start crocheting again. I loved the colours in Lucy's Ripple blankets but particularly wanted to use Autumnal colours, so chose a selection from the Stylecraft Special DK range from Woolwarehouse.

It is not subtle by any stretch of the imagination but I am pleased with how cosy and warm it is both in looks and feel. I would probably opt for more earthy, gentler tones next time but  bright, vibrant colours always seem to grab my attention first.

 4. Knitting

Not quite so vibrant as the blanket is the Spiral Staircase shawl I made for a friend's birthday. This free download by LizAnn Petch was found on Ravelry. I used Drops Delight Turquoise/Purple print and really enjoyed watching it grow and how the colour variation changed with the increasing number of stitches. For extra embellishment I added small tassels to the points using the left over yarn. Not really a Spring Birthday gift but it can still be very chilly in Yorkshire at this time of year so I hope it comes in useful!

5. A little bit of stitching.

Knitting and crochet have suited my mood better over the last few weeks and to be honest it is easier to pick up and drop at short notice than stitching.

The Capability Brown piece for the Embroiderers'Guild and National Trust joint exhibition at Stowe was completed just within the deadline in March but I will write about that in another blog.

Some easy stitching was needed and what could be easier than working with felt. A friend had commissioned a cactus for her daughter a while ago, so that was first on the "To Do" list. Finally it was safely delivered and I had a lovely note on Facebook this morning from the recipient to say she was really happy with it.

It is good to be back with Five on Friday and I hope there will not be such a long gap to the next one.

There is lots to write about......... two JETS meetings, Capability Brown project, a great weekend workshop with Gwen Hedley............ just need to find time to get on with it!