Sunday, 31 October 2010

The view from my window

Sunday morning and it is overcast and dull...very different to the beautiful Autumn sunshine of yesterday. I took some photos around my house yesterday as everything looked so gorgeous and full of colour. I often take where I live for granted. I think may of us do. But yesterday it seemed to throw itself at me and reminded me how lucky I am to be surrounded by such beauty. I thought you might like to see it.....

We were burgled last week and it upset us both. It made us feel quite exposed and vulnerable, living as we do surrounded by trees and fields. But I think you have to hang on to the positive; we have loved living here precisely because we are surrounded by beautiful countryside. So this is a little celebration!

The village is very old and was mentioned in the Domesday Book. It used to quite a hub of industry in the 17th and 18th centuries as a lot of cloth was woven here. There is a stream at the bottom of my garden that used to power a mill. Now all that remains of that industry are the beautiful stone cottages.....

I love this tree. It is the first thing I see when I open my curtains in the morning. It is always the first to lose its leaves in Autumn, but it puts on the most fabulous display first. The colours change from deep wine, to copper, to pink depending on the time of day and the amount of sunshine....

Here it is again, seen from my back door.

Washing drying in the lovely sunshine....

And the world beyond.....

You know, I was feeling a little bit down this morning. Not seriously, but a little bit flat. Uploading these photos has made me feel very happy! As much as I love my crochet and knitting and being cosy inside my house, I must remember to keep lifting up my head and looking at the beauty around me. xx

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Last rose of the year

 I found this solitary little bloom just outside my kitchen door. She is making a very determined show of hanging onto summer.

The hydrangeas are hanging on too, but autumn is taking over....

I love the blue and pinks and greens in the leaves...gorgeous.

It is a beautiful Saturday here in West Yorkshire. Bright and sunny and even warm. I have been rather ill with a virus this week so it is really healing to have some sunshine. Little Boy and very, very old cat are making the most of it......

I have begun yet another striped blanket....a Christmas present for my Mum. She loved the granny stripes I had made but I wanted to do something different this time and chose a zig-zag stripe. I started it about week ago and it is really growing. I don't think it works up as fast as the granny stripe, but it is nice and rhythmic and easy to do.

I am using Stylecraft Special dk yarn once again as I think it makes lovely blankets. They are light but very warm. I must get this finished soon as I am also making a granny square blanket for my sister! I have started it but still needs a lot more work......

The colours are not terribly accurate in this photo...they are more autumnal, with dark greens and rusts. But you get the idea!

The problem is....yes, I've had another wool delivery from my new favourite yarn supplier. I have found this gorgeous cable pattern by Ysolda Teague and just can't wait to get started....

It is knit in the round. I am beginning with three double-ended needles and then will change to a circular one. I could't help myself this morning....I started experimenting with the tubular cast on method that Ysolda recommends and after ripping it out a couple of times I finally got it. Here is the beginning.....

You can see the blue yarn I have used in the tubular cast on. This will be pulled out once I have finished the rib. But that will have to wait, the crochet is calling.........enjoy your weekend x

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

In the raw :: the beginning

I am overweight. About 4 stones overweight. I work full time, have a small son and am exhausted most of the time. I had a blood test recently and have been called to see my GP on Thursday to discuss my cholesterol levels. I can only assume they are high. I am fed up with feeling fat, tired and unhealthy. So I am taking my health into my own hands and am beginning to eat only raw food. I did this about a year ago for a few weeks and felt amazing; I lost weight, had energy, my skin glowed and I found I was waking much earlier than usual but feeling much more refreshed. So why didn't I carry on with it? It is hard to work and then try to sort out a nutritious diet of raw least I found it hard. But I have to find a way because it really made such a dramatic difference to my life in such a short time. I am nudging 50 and don't want to feel like this, or worse, as I get older. is the day!

I am taking inspiration from this book.....

It is by Julie Rodwell and is full of fantastic recipes as well as a wealth of information on the health benefits of eating raw.

I have also found this book incredibly useful....

It is about the advantages of alkaline eating but also about how we are all slowing making ourselves very ill by eating the typical Western diet.

I thought it would be interesting to chart my progress, triumphs and struggles as I try to adapt to a raw diet.

So this is day one! I had half a fresh pineapple for breakfast along with a green smoothie made from spinach, banana, an apple and whizzed up in the blender with filtered water. My son calls this Shrek juice!!!! It is a vivid green and looks very healthy. I love it and usually make extra to take to work with me. I will report back in a week to let you how I've done!

Sunday, 24 October 2010

On the go #1

I don't know about you, but at times I feel overwhelmed by the amount of yarn and unfinished projects I have around the house. Each project has its own bag or basket and they are all over. What does it say about me? That I am not a completer finisher!!! I love the starting of a project...planning, sourcing and choosing the yarn, getting the yarn through the post and opening it (the very best bit!!!). Do I have a short attention span? Maybe I do. I know that I like to flit between projects; a bit of blanket, a bit of baby jacket, a bit of aran knitting. It keeps me interested. Some projects get left for longer than others. However, I never throw anything away and at some point I always return to unfinished things.

I recently rediscovered a stash of crochet squares I first began a couple of years ago.

I remember finding the pattern in Jan Eaton's excellent book on crochet blocks.

I was fairly new to crochet and so some of the blocks, on reflection, are a bit shabby. And the colours....mmmm. Not sure. I had convinced myself that I hated the colours but now...well.... I actually quite like them. Exotic, spicy, warm. What do you think?

It seems such a shame to not do something with these squares and so the other weekend I laid them all out on the table to get a better idea. I think I have enough to make a smallish throw. Yes, these squares have been moved out of the cupboard and upgraded to the on the go pile in my hallway! So I'm now in the process of joining them together and am thinking ahead, planning the border.

The thing is, when I finish a forgotten project I get such a buzz. I feel a real sense of achievement and closure. I can put that thing to bed and don't have it cluttering up my home or my head. Now there are only another five or six......and my aran yarn for a beret is arriving this week......oh dear

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Baby blanket #1

My lovely niece arrived last month and Little Boy and I went to stay with her and my sister by the sea. She lives in South Africa and I hadn't seen her for a couple of years. She is expecting her first baby and, of course, I had made a baby blanket!

This was made from Kool Kotton and is quite heavy. However, the area of SA where Niece lives is very hot and so cotton seemed the best option. I am happy with it and love the colours. Niece liked it too and it was fantastic to spend time with her and chat about Bertie Bump! I am now working on another baby blanket and will post progress on that soon.

Sunday, 17 October 2010


I always struggle with autumn. Something about the sadness of losing summer, and something about the dread of the long, cold, dark winter months to come. It usually takes me a good month to accept that summer is really and finally over. By that time, I come out of mourning and start to look around and realise that autumn is really a beautiful time of year. I do this every year! Leaves display the most gorgeous, warming colours and berries appear on shrubs.

Autumn is a time for taking stock and for getting all the stuff in the garden out of the way before winter sets in. I have a very big garden, and this can be a bit daunting. Especially the hedges! You can see below a fraction of  the hedge around the garden. Where are Boy Scouts when you need them!

Autumn is also a time for cosying down and planning woolly project for the winter months. This is the fun bit. I am still searching for a fair isle pattern but have been inspired by some things I found on the web. Like these....

I'm also planning to make myself an aran jacket this winter. My mum has a stash of about 50 vintage aran patterns so will be rummaging. However, I have found this....

This is a cable jacket from a fantastic booklet by Sirdar called Favourite Aran Knits 2.  It has a really gorgeous range of chunky, bobbly, cablishness!

I also recently found a wonderful source of Scottish dk and aran yarn. I ordered some dk and absolutely love it. It has a real rustic, flecky sort of charm and is soft and good to work with. The colours are quite muted but enough of a range to make up a fair isle pattern. I also really like the idea of using Scottish yarns for Scottish form of knitting.

The supplier is New Lanark Mill and can be found here....

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Back to my roots

Some time ago I began to research my family tree. I discovered that my maternal ancestors were from Fair Isle in the Shetland Islands. At first I was very confused because records show birth places as Fair Isle, Dunrossness. Further research revealed that Fair Isle used to be included in the Parish of Dunrossness in the Shetlands. As the family name is Norwegian, it is likely that, along with many of the Shetland settlers, my ancestors originated from Norway.

I was raised in County Durham in the North East of England and my mum, from as far back as I can remember, knitted the most fabulous aran sweaters. In fact, it wasn't unusual for my sister and I to be swathed in aran and I can still remember specific sweaters. It was my mum who taught me to knit as a small child and I have taken up the needles on and off since then. I love aran knitting but my particular love is Fair Isle - coincidence? I have a real love of all Northern design - Scandinavian, Danish, Swedish, Finnish - and love the gorgeous weaving technique that is Fair Isle knitting.

I have dabbled in Fair Isle in the past. This was a blanket I made when expecting my son, some seven years ago.

The yarn is a pure wool 4 ply and the pattern was from Debbie Bliss. For a little blanket it seemed to take an age to knit. But I love it and I loved the appreciative comments I got when I took my baby out in it. I still have it tucked away in a drawer with all the other special things from the Boy's life. Well it's an heirloom isn't it?

I recently found a fabulous book on Fair Isle knitting that inspired me to have another go, but to make a garment this time.

It is rather an old book (1980s) but this just shows the timelessness of Fair Isle. The author has added a twist to traditional patterns by including fruit, vegetables and even bumble bees!

I just love this book...the designs are so colourful and witty.

A friend of mine went to Iceland some years ago and brought me back this hat....

Gorgeous! Not as colourful as the traditional Fair Isle but very Nordic and lovely.

So I am going back to my Northern roots and channeling my Fair Isle and Norwegian ancestors! Just need to find a pattern, a supply of good yarn...and then the real work starts with choosing the colours. This project could take some time, especially as I am also crocheting blankets!