Friday, 15 October 2021

Summer 2021







 Goodness......and just like that, we have slowly sauntered into Autumn. How did that happen?


So, Summer 2021, we came out of the Lockdown and life began to resemble some sense of being sort of normal again. The days have just flown by. Blending one day into the next.....and before you know it, another month has been crossed off the calendar. I cannot say that I can look back over this summer and feel like I have really achieved anything though. I seem to be dabbling in even more procrastination these days. My house really has got to bursting point. Others in the household are still working from home with the decision for it to be a permanent arrangement. Offices have been cleared out which means housing a lot more at home. The decision was made to buy a garden home office to make this permanent situation workable. However, until things are all finalised, the house is full with people and work clutter. I have got used to the limited use of the house on my days off, and keeping the noise very low whilst people are on work calls. Headphones have been a godsend, because not being able to listen to music would have just sent me crazy. My whole life runs alongside one big film score.





I procrastinate, because I don't seem to get anywhere when I try at the moment. That sounds a bit pathetic I know. I am waiting...........waiting patiently to be able to get to 'full steam ahead' mode.































It is with this procrastination and lack of space, I have found it difficult to do anything in the way of crafting. I have been slowly working on my Beatrix Potter Blanket. It is almost there. Only took 9 months. It is all sewn up now and I just love how it turned out. I wanted a simplified vintage look. I think I've achieved it. The colours were just really leftovers from my last blanket, and I don't think I actually purchased much yarn apart from the mint colour way. They were just muted pastels and fitted perfectly with Beatrix Potters colour palette of her watercolour illustrations. 




























I can't say that I'm that confident of my sewing skills. Let's just say, I've told the Bears' (firmly) that it will solely be a chair throw or bed throw. It's definitely not a blanket that can take 6ft boy abuse! I don't know what on earth possessed me to sew up the hexies by hand with cotton thread. Really, cotton thread should be left to cotton fabric, and yarn should be used to sew yarny things. Non flexible with flexible was fine, but whether it will hold is to be seen. I guess my way of thinking was that I wanted seamless hexies sewn together. I know that there is a way to do it with yarn, but to be honest, I'm incredibly lazy, and because my hexies were quite small, I thought the yarn way was far too labourious than the thread way. Like I said, I don't think this blanket would withstand 6ft boy abuse, but it will be fine for me. The dog seems to have taken a shine to it. Seriously, she thinks that any blanket is especially for her. If I am chilly and I snuggle up in one, you can bet she'll hear the blanket rustle from the furthest part of the house and be straight up on me on it for a cuddle. I guess I should be pleased that someone loves my blankets as much as I do!







As soon as that blanket was ticked off the list, I thought I'd put down my blanket hook for a while. I bought a crochet sweater pattern. I find crochet garments a bit hit and miss. My plan was have a go. I find that I'm not terribly good at reading written patterns. I work better from charts. Written patterns always put me off. I have several crochet sweater patterns ready to make a start on, but I seem to put off doing them as much as I like them. So, I bought the pattern, bought the wool.......then saw a blanket idea that I loved and the sweater pattern suddenly got thrown down the list. I've just ordered the yarn and am looking forward to the cosy Autumnal evenings with candles, some spiced drink and a new hooky project. Look out for the next post to see the blankety progression. I don't seem to have that many photos of my Beatrix Potter Blanket. It was finished, and put at the end of my bed ready to take some pics and keep a record of my finished project, but it somehow just progressed to being a dog snuggler. I'm hoping that once my house gets opened up again, I'll be free to have the space to make and pick up my camera again.

















Late spring into early summer I really concentrated on my health. I wasn't happy with my fitness levels or my weight gain over lockdown last year. For a few months I worked really hard and was pleased that I'd reached half my goal. Then I went away on holiday and I enjoyed myself so things have been 'suspended'! I'm still trying to be sensible until I feel in the mindset to give it my all again, but I do feel happier and healthier than I did last year.


   





Bread is pretty much my downfall. I baked A LOT last year, hence the large weight gain. I haven't baked much bread this year, but floral foccacia is something I'm loving. It's so much fun to make.



I also bought a new cookbook, that had strawberry breakfast slices. It's from a cookbook with the word 'Comfort' in the title. Seriously, I should have left well alone. Super quick and easy to whip up. Basic puff pastry, mash some strawberries with either thick greek yoghurt or cream cheese and layer over the pastry. Layer thinly cut strawberries over the top, egg wash the sides and bake for 20 minutes until golden. For a pop of extra sweetness, I layer a thin veil of strawberry jam underneath the cream cheese mixture. Very moorish, so these are strictly Sunday morning baking if I have been good and not naughty during the week! 


Coffee is a staple too. Summer was for fresh, crisp coffee. I'm looking forward to the flavoured coffees now.


These past few days, I've woken up to darker mornings. Misty and crisp. We are on the cusp of the Autumn slumber. It's my mission to find my pumpkins to display around the house. 





As usual for this time of year, one of my most favourite things to do, is to go to TKMax and stock up on the Autumn candles. It's my favourite Autumn thing to do, fill the house with the gorgeous comforting aroma of spiced apple and pumpkin. 


I'm ready for warm knits on crisp days, falling leaves on sleepy trees and the beautiful scent of woody damp decay. Every season truly is a beauty.



XXX











Wednesday, 17 March 2021

Spring 2021

 



Sometimes, when you talk to the universe.....it answers you back.







I had planned to write two blog posts before this. One for Autumn, and one for Winter. It was my plan just to write up a post each season. Posts to just catch up and remind myself what had been happening in my life. I'm not so sure anyone actually reads blogs any more. The fast paced world of Instagram, Twitter and TikTok leaves blogging pretty much a thing of the past now. It saddens me, when I think of blogging in its hey day and what an incredibly lovely community it was. But I write. I continue to write for me, and if anyone happens to read it and even remotely enjoy it, then that's a lovely little bonus I guess. 


Nothing really has been happening in my little world . It feels like months and months of nothingness be honest. Lockdown, after lockdown it seemed and I just found myself being cooped up in my own little space in the house with everyone else crammed in too for good measure.  One thing I realised whilst we were all stuck in the house day after day together, was that my life just became one big Groundhog Day. Cleaning, cleaning.....and more cleaning. Oh, and food shopping because everybody seemed to be hungry ALL of the time. No sooner was the kitchen blitzed, it was a mess again. There actually never seemed to be a break when someone wasn't eating or using every dish, pan, cup, plate there was. It actually became really quite depressing. Forever cleaning, and having to walk around on tiptoes everywhere in case I disturbed a conference call really just drained me of being able to anything creative and visual. 


The frustration that I was starting to feel was getting bigger and bigger inside. 



Autumn 2020 had been a tale of two halves. A difficult one. One where I had felt alone, tired and frustrated. One where I had felt no desire to do anything other than just 'get through the day'. Eventually the turning point did arrive. I had been waiting for it for such a long while. That moment when I woke, and suddenly felt ready to tackle all that I had previously not had the mental capacity to tackle. 


It felt so good. It felt like a thousand tonnes of weight had been lifted from my overladen shoulders. It felt like peace had once again been restored in my whole being. Weirdly, serendipitous events happened to help bring it about. Do you believe the universe has plans for you? Well, I felt like everything that I had been feeling these past 15 months had come full circle and I could begin see the clear road ahead. 


It was suddenly very clear in my head what I wanted to achieve. The year had been one big write off and suddenly I felt like I could move forward. 






I have felt over the last few years that I have been wading through some very thick treacle. Ever so slowly, the world has been closing in on me. Not knowing how to deal with it and just putting it to the back of my mind has been my 'go to' method. Clearly not the best solution, and the longer you leave it, the bigger it gets. With loss and grief big, big factors in my life also this last year, that helped to just not want to deal with anything.


Finally waking up and the fog clearing was such a blessed relief. Finally feeling ready to tackle happiness and what I need to do to achieve it was such a nice feeling. Deep soul happiness, not just on the surface happiness. 


So, the latter part of Autumn I felt  a great positivity. 






The second and third lockdowns slight dampened all that positivity that had flooded within me. Like I said, everyone crammed in at home working, eating and just generally making mess I couldn't keep up with......well.......I have just been silently keeping my head down and making do until such time as I feel I can begin to spread my wings again.






I don't think I realised just how much I value and crave my own space. That quiet. Just yourself and your thoughts. Not being able to freely potter and be as creative as my mind has wanted me to be has seen the frustration grow within me. It has taken everything in me to keep it contained. Sometimes I have thought how great it would be to go to some remote location and just scream my little lungs out. I think that might have made me feel a little better. However, even being all crammed on top of each other, I am grateful for many, many things. I appreciate it all.






In creative news, I did things that pretty much could be done compactly. I was lucky enough to be given the most gorgeous coat for my birthday. 




The most perfect pink. I wanted to make a scarf or shawl to compliment it. I decided upon the Victoria Shawl by Sandra from Cherry Heart Blog

I used Drops Baby Alpaca Silk in Powder for the main body and off white for the edging. It's so pretty a delight to wear.






Once again serendipitous moments happened, which resulted in a new blanket being born. I thought I was really over blankets.......silly me for even thinking that really.


During the annual retrieving of the Christmas decs from the loft, I came across a crafty tub with a much beloved crochet project in it.  














Started many, many moons ago, it was a project that was put aside. When it was retrieved, I sadly realised that, with my usual lack of planning, pretty much all of the yarns had been discontinued and I couldn't carry on with it in the way that I had wanted to ( a decent sized blanket). I couldn't stop thinking on it though. I was absolutely in love with it at the time. It was made of tiny hexagons, that I was planning on sewing together by hand. I wanted sort of a vintage patchwork piece. Anyway, for reasons explained, it didn't come to fruition (when I ever get round to it, it will become a big floor cushion). However, it really would not leave my head. I had loved working with the pastels in my last Irish Chain Quilt blanket and had some left over, so the thought started brewing. Then, over Christmas I watched The programme 'When Roald Dahl met Beatrix Potter'. Oh my gosh, I adored it. Having long been a Potter fan, this was just a delight to watch. Suddenly the idea was born. A small hexi patchwork blanket using pastel shades that were used in the drawings by Beatrix Potter. 


Pretty much like every other blanket colour way that I use, but a good excuse. Literally as soon as the lightbulb went on........













I just love the shades. So totally me.









Coming along nicely. I made the hexies slightly bigger. I just didn't know if I had the stamina to make them as small as the last lot. The size is okay, but if I'm being honest, I prefer the smaller size. I think they look more 'vintage' the smaller they are in a blanket form. I'm okay with that though.




Minnie, thinking that every blanket laid down is for her use only.














All the hexies are made. I have sewn together half of them with needle and thread. I don't know why it was so important for me to sew them up this way. I don't even think it's such a good idea. Yarn works well to sew yarns together, thread works well to sew fabrics together. I don't think it's the best combination to put together, but I have been determined that it should be done this way. Stupid me and my stupid ideas. We shall see how much patching together will need to be done at a later date. For now though, I am loving it. I did take a break half way through to make myself another shawl. Life events needed me to make something quick and rewarding, and also give me something deep to focus on for a short while.


So, I decided upon this......







It's the Denver Sunset Shawl






I was perusing my pinterest boards for inspiration, and this just screamed at me. Quick and easy. Gorgeous colours from one ball. I'm on it. 





It crocheted up in a couple of days. It was a simple pattern repeat, but it took me ages to get going. I really am not a fan of patterns which don't provide any charts of any sorts. I had to try and read the pattern to try and make up my own chart just to try and make sense of the beginning. I did finally get it and once the first couple of rows were done then it was a fine repeat. It was an aran weight hooked on a 9mm hook so it worked up fast.


Typical me to make something Autumnal just as Spring arrives. I just adored the wash of colours. The pattern is available on Ravelry if anyone is interested. I used the yarn recommended, Lion Brand Landscapes. I love it so much, I'm actually thinking on another one. I made a very very long scarf a couple of years back which I named my Dr Who scarf. I love it so much and the yarn was just so beautiful. 





This was in a Cygnet yarn I believe. Totally my colours and I think it would make for such a beautiful Denver Sunset Shawl pattern. Always me, to keep on making something in a billion colours if I like it. I don't need any more shawls, but, like that ever stopped me.


I seem to be drawn to these colour wash yarns now. I bought the Landscapes yarn and immediately had to text my mum with a picture. Throughout my very early years, my mum knitted me jumpers. Think 70's where everything in that whole era seemed to be made in brown, orange or yellow. My whole recollection was not one of fondness for that era. Otherwise known as #jumpergate, My mum never liked to knit in one colour yarn. She always maintained that it was so boring, so she would buy variegated yarn in brown and yellow or brown and orange. She would knit up a jumper........and not once would the damn things ever fit over my head! I shudder at the memories of my mum trying her hardest to pull them over my head. There would be yelling from me about how much it hurt my head, and there would be yelling from my mum about how she followed the pattern and my head must be incredibly large! I don't think I actually ever wore the jumpers she made me. She never ever managed to get her tension right on the necklines, and I was actually glad. Brown, yellow, orange and ANY yarn that was variegated in any way has been a no no for me for pretty much most of my life! My mum still maintains to this day that my head is a funny shape and she was never in the wrong with her tension........AND......her yarn choices were very lovely! She laughs at my choices to buy any yarn that is not plain and tells me she always knew I'd come around to her way of thinking! I still won't go near anything with just browns and yellows!!!!


⁕⁕⁕


I'll leave with a few camera reel photos of the past few months. Mainly dog photos on my camera feed these days. Through lockdown, she has been my permanent companion, my little sidekick and partner in crime. I am desperate to get my big camera out again. Hopefully, with lockdown nearing its end and spring well under way, there will be the opportunity to snap snap snap away to my hearts content.


Until then.......




I lost the dog one morning. Couldn't find her anywhere. She blends in well with my house decor. The Bears have almost sat on her a couple of times when she is curled in a teeny tight ball on the sofa. She becomes almost invisible.




We have a routine on the days I'm not working. If I haven't left the house and she sees me walk past the living room with a coffee in my hand, she knows I'm off to my bedroom banishment for a couple of hours. Either laptop maintenance or crafting of some type, but the coffee in hand is her cue to whine to be with me and settle down for the morning next to me. I love it actually. She really has been my ray of sunshine on the darkest of days.




I've become obsessed with wearing berets throughout the Autumn /Winter months. I even made a couple of crochet ones too. I don't particularly suit hats in any way shape or form......but I guess I've hit that age where I simply don't care if I look stupid. Bobble hats on the dog walks are essential and berets for general walking. Turns out I like a warm head.




I made a start painting my stairs (Farrow & Ball Light Blue). Very difficult in lockdown with everyone home wanting to go up and down all day. Weeks on and it still needs another couple of coats. I fear it's going to be one of those projects that will take a year to complete........sigh. I like the colour though and it has brightened up the hallway.





Dog walks have helped enormously in lockdown. Getting fresh air......space and a few quiet moments of alone time have been essential.






I was out one sunny, but very foggy morning and I saw the most curious thing. A white rainbow......otherwise known as a Fogbow. Seriously, I never knew such a thing existed. It was pretty spectacular. I have never seen one in all my years, and probably won't again. That made it all the more special. I truly love Mother Nature.




I'm still baking bread. I seriously should stop. Bread is my Achilles Heel. Love, love love it. The Bear's love it too. I tell myself I'm making it for them.....really it's just for me. They have to be quick to get some. I love them to bits, but it's seriously a close call between them and bread. I kid you not!



xxx