Saturday, 27 June 2015

Tidza Wakes

Ok, so it's been a while since I last posted, and it's been very hectic around here. Yes, I know, when is it not hectic?  But it's been even more so than usual, if that's possible.

Spring has gone and summer is finally here (at last), and I've been enjoying the change on the hills and in the valleys. It's amazing how the flowers change from the yellow of spring (I'm thinking dandelions and buttercups - this one was taken on the approach to Attingham Park when we went to do a mud day(!) at half term)... the white of ox-eye daisies and cow parsley mainly, though apparently that's not such a good thing.  There are some beautiful pink and white flowers on the way to Tideswell, I'm going to have to go back and take a proper look to identify them.

Talking of Tideswell, we visited the well dressing (aka the Tidza Wakes) on Thursday and had a lovely time looking round the village.  We saw the well dressings, as well as two exhibitions and a whole street of houses done up as Victorian shops, and I finally got to see inside the church, known as the Cathedral of the Peak.  You can see the full photo story (thanks to Google) of our day here.

And we had lunch in the Methodist/URC church which was an unusual but delicious curried apple and parsnip soup.

Sometimes it's nice just to have time to explore together, just the two of us, without having to worry about the small people.

And then, just to finish off the day nicely, we had a cream tea in the Angler's Rest (a community owned pub/cafe/Post Office in Bamford, highly recommended, especially the scones!) which is fast becoming one of my favourite places just to sit and relax in.

This photo was taken on a previous visit, as I was too busy enjoying myself to take any on this occasion! They have a enviable collection of teapots, you can see the house one above, and this time we had the most enormous willow pattern one.  And you get different china teacups too.  So much tea - what's not to like?!

After drinking as much tea as we could (and in time to pick up the children) we drove back over the newly repaired Snake Pass. We are so lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the country, and I love watching the seasons change the landscape.  Coming back there were just a few patches of heather starting to come out on some sheltered south-facing slopes.  That'll be the next change - heather and blackberries.  Ah, summer, I do love you!

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Signs of Spring

We went out last weekend for a 'signs of spring' walk, which is where we try to find as many signs of spring as we can (not including the fact that it's warm and sunny enough to go for a walk in the first place).  We went to Etherow Country Park at Compstall, which is suitable for wheelchairs (that's me) and has the added advantage of an excellent cafe.  And did I mention the boats?  There is a model boat club that meets there as well as the sailing club.  If you're really lucky both the model kind and the sailing kind will be out.  The model speed boats were having races which was great fun to watch.

As for signs of spring, they were a bit hard to find.  There were some buds and flowers, but no baby birds yet.  We fed those that were there anyway, which is always fun; I guess the ducks and geese are used to seed being thrown at them by enthusiastic little ones (watch the video in the Google story to see what I mean!).  We found buds, and bees, and amazing tree bark textures, and new leaves, and red stems, and a few flowers, and lots of ducks and geese and coots.  And a squirrel and the mandarin ducks (which I stupidly forgot to photo).  It was a lovely afternoon, and now I'm looking forward to more as the weather warms up (I hope).

So here by the magic of Google (with a little editing) is our afternoon searching for spring.  And in case you need a taster of spring too, here's the mosiac:

Just so's you know, the 'wings' on Stephie's jumper are from when she was a pterodactyl last year.  Obviously.  What else?

Friday, 27 February 2015

Of blankets and other things...

It appears I may have gone a little mad on the blanket front this year.  I have started not one, not two, but three blankets!  Hannah's rainbow ripples are coming on, I've nearly got to the halfway mark with the ripples themselves.  I took Steph's blue and green diamonds to Anglesey and got quite a few of those done too.  And then there is a third granny blanket which I'll talk about another time when I've done a bit more of it.  I must be mad! (I think we knew that anyway.)  Not only have I three blankets on the go, I have still got two jumpers to make too, but those are knitting rather than crochet.  The pile of projects beside my chair was getting rather silly, so I've had to sort it out and find homes for them, but not too far away as I never know what I might fancy working on...  I know I have always had 'startitis' (I love the idea of a new project!) but I think I might have taken it to new depths this year.  Ah well, it'll keep me occupied, especially as my back isn't good at the moment.

Around this time of year I usually get the urge to re-read The Lord of The Rings, and this year is no different.  It took me a long time to get round to reading it a few years ago, but once I'd seen the films I was hooked and swiftly read the books.  So this year, before embarking on LOTR itself, I'm wading through the Silmarillion first.  I'm really enjoying the stories but its written more like biblical history than fiction so its a bit tricky to get the hang of at first.  That, and a lot of the characters have similar names!  Thank goodness for the glossary at the back, and the maps (we do like a good map).

So between Tolkein, crochet and knitting I am well occupied.  Not a bad life, eh?

Saturday, 14 February 2015


We've been on holiday!  We went to Anglesey for a short half term break, and had a lovely time.  The weather was calm and not raining, good for this time of year, and we even managed some time on the beach (all dressed up of course, ski suits are great for this).  We visited South Stack lighthouse on the calmest day possible (very unusual) but nobody felt like going down all the steps, so we just enjoyed the view from the top.  The light was on which was a bonus - look Mummy, the lighthouse is working!

We also had a lovely meal at the Oystercatcher at Rhosneigr - they have a chef academy for training local young people, so Chris had the 'Cadet's table' menu where for each course the cadet who had cooked it came out to explain what they'd done. They were very good with the kids and had some brilliant decor too. The children really enjoyed the swimming pool and games room where we were staying, and we had a couple of very lazy days.  I took lots of photos, mainly mountains, sea views, beaches and a church or two.  I loved all the texture and patterns that were around as well as the beautiful scenery.

[I've discovered the joys of MosaicMaker - great fun and I love the results]

I've been tangling again (no, not tangling up wool, that's not fun, Zentangling I mean) following a visit to a show at EventCity last week and a workshop with Alison from Old Hall Crafts.  I've brought back some stones to try tangling on, and all the textures inspired me to come up with a new (well, maybe reinvented, but new to me anyway) tangle or two, which I'll try to scan in sometime.  The Oystercatcher in particular was full of inspiration in its decor - the middle picture on the bottom row of the mosaic is the lamp in their stairwell, which is ceramic fish hung on lines round the bulbs, and it tinkles slightly in a breeze.  It was two storeys high (long?) and I Want One!

There were loads of things we wanted to do but didn't get around to, hopefully we'll go back one day.  I know north Wales quite well but not Anglesey so it was good to see new places as well as old favourites.  Our main priority was to have a relaxing holiday (well, as much as is possible with three excited children) and we did just that.  We should be all refreshed now for another half term, at least I will be when my back recovers from doing rather too much :-s .

[If you want to see more of what we did, I have a 'story' on Google+, made with much (slightly scary) help from Google.]

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Flying off the needles...

So, at last and with the arrival of more wool, here they are (dun dun dah, as the kids would say):

The owls have arrived!  (Please excuse the washing behind, it's the best place for light at this time of year.)  And, as befits their order (yes, I checked, not genus, order, I like to be accurate about these things), they arrived in the middle of the night ie I finished them late on Wednesday evening, actually more like Thursday morning.  According to the children, the owl with eyes is the one that's awake during the day, the others are all asleep.  It's a very warm jumper too, and is now my official Church Jumper for places what are Cold.

I have also been practicing continental knitting, after I finally got around to asking Michelle to show me how to do it.  After a practice swatch in stocking stitch, I jumped in with both feet and headed straight for Planet Stranded Knitting, which I've been longing to visit properly for a while.  The result was a swatch with which I am ridiculously well pleased. (Is that grammatically correct?  Never mind.)

Just look at those beautiful floats on the back!  I've now ordered (yet) more wool and cast on for the jumper, which is Kyllene, though I'll be doing it without the keyhole, as it's far too cold here for large holes in jumpers.  I'm not sure whether I'll do the colour change at the top or not yet, but as I've started on a sleeve I have a little while to go before I make that decision.  I really like this one though, so I may not.

And then there was another worry cruncher, the last for now and rather taller than I expected,

and a lot of bugs and crawly things in a nearly-finished storysack (Mad About Minibeasts) which I can't take any credit for as I've been busy with Mr Torpedo above.

Lastly I have cast on for yet another jumper, a very simple one in James Brett Marble Chunky (MC46 if you're interested, a gorgeous blue-green mix) where I am actually going to Follow The Pattern. Apart from the length of course, take that as read.  What is it about January that makes me want to knit jumpers?  Can't imagine, think it might have something to do with the snow.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Wednesday Week

[This post was supposed to be published yesterday, hence the name, but as ever life got in the way.]

What did we do before digital cameras?  (it’s ok, I am old enough to remember.)  My first camera was a hand-me-down small Kodak instamatic with a black case, which took square pictures.  I must have been about 9 or 10, and it was so lovely to have my own camera to take whichever pictures I wanted!  I remember having a whole film for a week long holiday somewhere where there were boats (because all the pictures are of the sea) – it could have been at my aunt’s in Brixham.  A whole 24 pictures (hang on, it might have been 12) – what was a girl to do?  But you had to buy the films.  Then you had to pay to get them processed.  So photography was an expensive hobby, especially when the photos came out wonky and blurred as most of mine did.

 (It looked just like this one.)

Fast forward (quite) a few years and now we can take unlimited pictures even on our phones.  I love taking photos, and while I haven’t got a dedicated camera or anything my phone camera sees regular use.  I thought I’d use my photos to look back over the week and see what we’d been up to.
At knitting last week it was Michelle’s turn to ‘show and tell’ as she’d finished her owls jumper – she definitely took the more complicated route with hers, and it’s beautiful.  We had a quick photo session after she’d finished weaving in all the ends. [The video of Michelle doing one of the steeks can be seen on YouTube here.]

It’s been train week in our house.  We've tried a few different layouts (spirals, anyone?), we've had naughty trains banished to the space in the middle, we've had plenty of derailments.  We've even managed some co-operative play at times.

That’s Steph in her pterodactyl jumper, I adapted it with the wings for fancy dress and she won’t let me take them off now.  There was a hat with a big pterodactyl beak too but that didn’t last so well.

Then there was a little tiny bit of snow, enough to get my snow sense going, so we had to pop up the nearest pass (Holme Moss) and take a look at the view.  I always think this sort of snow looks like icing sugar dusting the top of a sponge cake.  There was just enough for Chris to throw a small snowball at me (while I was sitting in the car) which then valiantly hung on at the bottom of the windscreen most of the way back down the hill. 

There were some lovely patches of bright sunshine on the way back down too, which I couldn’t resist trying to photograph.  Shows how dirty our windscreen is though.

Then there was the night Hannah asked, ‘Daddy, how does it rain?’, and Daddy (being a geochemist) and Mummy (being a biochemist) couldn’t help but answer with a full account of the water cycle, complete with diagram on our weekly planner.  This is what you get at teatime in our house.  At least two of our children now know the word ‘evaporation’ and what it means.

Finally my owls jumper is coming along nicely, and the last few evenings have been spent wrestling with the owls themselves.  I even managed to try it on, and it fits! It fits!  (Just as well.)  So I’m now really looking forward to wearing it.  The only slight issue is that I now have 22 owls, but no more yarn, so have had to order another ball.  It’s just as well I like this yarn, because it comes in 400g balls and I only have a little bit left to do, so I shall have a lot left over.  I’m sure I’ll think of something to do with it.

So that was last week, I wonder what this week’s photos will look like?  Hopefully there might be a finished jumper in there somewhere!

Thursday, 8 January 2015

More resolutions

It seems that I might just be getting my groove, mojo, or whatever it is back for dyeing and running a crafty business.  It's been a year since I did anything much in the way of selling, and apart from one craft fair I did as a favour (it was the spinning wheel that was really wanted!) I had a very quiet Christmas season craft-wise.  Which was just what we needed.  I still have stock though, and wool and fibre waiting to be dyed, and driving back from town this morning with the hills all around me and the sun just beginning to come out I thought, I could, couldn't I?  So we'll see.

But further to my last post, there are a few other things I need to think about this year.  One is regular exercise (not easy if you can't walk or stand for long, let alone run around), making time for it and actually doing it.  Another is spinning more, and that might just run into the first one as spinning is good exercise for ankles as well as hands.  And hey, spinning as exercise?  A good reason to spin?  Yippee!  I need to try to get more rhythm to my days, weekdays particularly, that fits in resting and exercise and knitting and spinning as well as the school run and all the other stuff I do.  I don't know why it's so difficult, but it is.

Anyway, I'd better get on with it, I have a jumper to finish before the end of the cold weather, otherwise I just won't have a chance to wear it, and it is thick and heavy, perfect for the cold wet stuff we're having at the moment, plus any snow that might come our way (please let it snow this year!).  The children are back at school and really my time is my own, more or less.