Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Garden at the beginning of December 2015

Not much change again here. We've only had one frost so far (two weeks earlier than last year) so the garden hasn't really been hit by a cold spell yet.

There aren't as many flowers around now, but the Wisley Cream clematis has just started to flower, and is covered with buds, so hopefully that will flower through the winter.

A few of the winter flowering pansies are in flower.

As are the cyclamen.

Bright berries are making up for the lack of colourful flowers though, and hopefully the birds will be pleased to eat them through the winter. All three pyracanthas have now got their berries.

As has the cotoneaster.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Knitting and sewing

As we've had to move stuff around to make space for the baby (more like it's stuff!) I now have a new sewing zone set up. The table isn't huge, but the light is much better than the room it was in, as there are windows to both the left and right of this table.

I've been working on getting this cot quilt finished, and the improved lighting certainly made a difference to the sewing, even at this dark and dull time of year. I'm not intending to use it as a cot quilt (I thought a play mat would be better), although it was originally meant to be for a cot, several decades ago, when it was started and intended for me to use. It never got finished, so I've been finishing it off now. The light today has been terrible for photos! This is it finished, and I put it through the washing machine on the delicate cycle, with some trepidation as I wasn't sure whether the fabric would shrink... It seems to be fine though, and I just need to give it an iron. It's a rather sweet Sanderson printed cotton showing a teddy bears' picnic.

The DK bedsocks are coming along quite fast, although this is proving the most annoying pattern ever to make. I think I prefer knitting socks in the round than flat and having to seam them.

I've also looked out other projects on the go, and realised I'd managed to knit about 2/3 of the second of the Samwise Gamgee socks in a smaller size than the first one... Oops. So had to frog that one. Have no idea what I was doing there, as the pattern is written for one size, so I obviously took it into my head to cast on fewer stitches!

I also managed to find a picture of the finished dress I made for my little niece in the summer. I thought I'd forgotten to take a picture of it, then discovered this in a random folder on my computer!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sitting around with my feet up

I thought once I finished work that I'd have loads of time, and pictured myself crafting away whilst catching up with TV, updating my blog and reading my way through the huge pile of books sitting in a wobbly pile next to my bed. Well, it's now a month since I finished work (still another month before the baby is due!) and I haven't done that much crafting, or that much reading really. It's not particularly comfortable to sit still for large amounts of time, so I haven't been! I have done an awful lot of Sorting Things Out in the house, and boring but necessary tasks like organising people to service the boiler, clear the guttering of leaves and service the car. I'm kind of presuming that December will be a bit busy, so I've almost finished my Christmas shopping (should be completed this week!) and getting things like presents and cards ready to post.

This is what I have been doing, craft-wise:

Another Beyond Puerperium, this one in 3-6 month size to use up the oddments of sportweight yarn I had in my stash (I worked out that this was the biggest size I could make with what I had leftover). The yarn is a mixture of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, and MillaMia Naturally Soft Merino, both of which are lovely to knit with and have the same gauge. I pulled the yarn a bit too tight whilst changing colours at the ends of rows, so it's slightly skewed at one side, but I don't think that will matter (and the baby isn't going to mind, is it?!). I ended up buying a couple more balls of the MillaMia for the due date swap group I participated in, as I thought my swap partner would enjoy knitting with it just as much as I have. I also seem to be addicted to this pattern - that's the eleventh one I've made! I've now made newborn and 3-6 month sizes for my baby, so I will next be aiming to make the next size up. Some more stash yarn is earmarked for this.

I've finished another pair of children's socks for a birthday present. The yarn is My First Regia again, cos it's machine-washable and nice and soft. I initially started off with the Toots pattern, but this nearly drove me mad with bizarre lace patterning that wasn't particularly intuitive, so I switched to the Garter Rib socks pattern from Sensational Knitted Socks, which I've made before, so know I enjoy knitting and that it works!

My latest project, only cast on last week, is a pair of slouchy bedsocks in DK yarn, Sirdar Crofter DK. I received one ball of this in last year's knitting group Secret Santa, and found the pattern in a yarn shop on holiday in June, and it only needed another ball, so it seemed a good way of using the yarn up. The socks are knitted flat and then seamed, and I'm now regretting not altering the pattern and knitting them in the round, as knitting them flat seems awkward. The heel instructions weren't very intuitive, so I had to do a lot of checking on other people's experiences on Ravelry forums before I could get anywhere. Does anyone else find this, after knitting indie patterns that are pdfs and so there is less limitation on space when providing instructions? Everytime I've used a bought printed pattern recently it seems to be a bit deficient in the instructions department.

I've also sewn this dress, for my swap partner in the due date swap group. The fabric is 100% cotton, and I was really pleased to find it in the closing down sale from our local haberdashery, as it was the perfect amount, and in the colours (pink and grey) which she said she preferred!

This is part of the present I received from my swap partner - a sheep baby hat! Isn't it cute?! There were also some other goodies in the parcel.

And, finally, I was given this baby blanket last night at my knitting group meeting - all my knitting group friends had made squares, which sounds like it needed a lot of organisation as they were apparently passing balls of yarn backwards and forwards to each other! Isn't it cool?!

That's all for now. Hopefully I'll get another update in in the not to distant future!

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Garden at the beginning of November 2015

 The garden this morning was very misty and autumnal. This was at 7am, and you can't really see just how misty it was from this photo.

The OH has moved the tender plants (various fuchsias and the alstroemeria into the cold frame for the winter).

There are still some plants flowering though. The rudbeckia in the back garden is still going strong, although the one in the front is over.

Only one flower left on the Japanese anenome, and plenty of seedheads forming.

The fuchsia and abelia are both covered in flowers still

 As are the hydrangeas
 And all the berries have appeared on the three pyracanthas now, hopefully providing a feast for the birds this winter.

We swopped the containers over with the winter ones (I have two sets of the internal plastic containers, which get slotted in and out at different times of year). These cyclamen have been on the go for about three winters now and are looking good. They are underplanted with hyacinths.

And I bought some winter flowering pansies from the garden centre and planted up these containers, underplanted with daffodils.

Think that's the last of the gardening done for this year, although I suspect the lawn will still need another cut.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Books read 2015 #3

#11 Elizabeth Jane Howard Confusion
#12 Elizabeth Jane Howard Casting off
Books three and four from the Cazalet Chronicles, which I really enjoyed. I was rereading Confusion after first reading it about 20 years ago, and I think it was my first time reading Casting off? These two take the family through the war years and then to the immediate aftermath, where everything is a bit of an anticlimax. Having survived those years, the ending of the war doesn't mean the ending of problems, and, indeed, causes several relationships to need to be resolved. I particularly like the way chapters are written from the perspective of different members of the family, so you get to see situations from different angles.

#13 Margaret Hebblethwaite Motherhood and God
A slightly dated look at spirituality and motherhood. I struggled to understand why she couldn't take the baby to Mass with her, as most people I know quite happily breastfeed/bottle feed in church, but 30 years seems to have made quite a difference to attitudes! I liked the way she dwelt on the practical aspects of motherhood, as well as the spiritual, and the connection between the two.

#14 Heidi Eisenberg Murkoff What to expect when you're expecting
This seems to be a pretty ubiquitous pregnancy manual, so I got it from the library, but thought it was awful. Although this is the British edition, so the spellings are (mostly) British (this hasn't been thoroughly checked) and references to medical care are to the NHS, it still comes across as overwhelmingly American. There are confusing bits where the information seems to be more from a US medical point of view, than a British one. It's written in a really twee style, that mostly made me want to throw up (and no, that wasn't morning sickness) and instead of having straightforward sections of information is written in more of a 'problem page' style. I didn't find it particularly helpful.

#15 David Lagercrantz The girl in the spider's web
This is a continuation of Stieg Larsson's Millennium series, which has been written by someone else. Often this kind of sequel can be excruciating, but this one got good reviews so I thought it was worth a try, and I'm glad I did. I found the Millennium series compelling, partly because of the intriguing characters, partly because of finding out more about a different counry, and this continued those themes. It's not as long or as detailed as the first three books, but it still has the twists and turns, the further development of the characters. Definitely worth a read.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Hats everywhere

Finally, a knitting update. I've just finished a bit of a baby hat knitting spree.

No, I'm not expecting quadruplets... One is for my baby, the rest for presents. Three of them are baby size, and the other toddler sized. I used a free pattern Super soft merino hats for everyone by Purl Bee on 7mm needles, and the yarn is Sirdar Click Chunky.

I got the mitred square baby blanket finished off with a crochet edging. The colours have proven really hard to photograph well! It was a great way of using up odds and ends of machine washable sock yarn, and I enjoyed remembering all those socks I'd knitted with the same yarn as I worked away on it.

I realised I'd forgotten to post a picture of the finished sheep tanktop which I made over the summer. Very pleased with how this one has turned out, and the Millamia merino yarn is lovely to knit with. It used almost an entire ball of the grey, and 30g of the snow colourway to make 3 -6 month size.

I've knitted a pair of child's socks for a birthday present. I think these will be a bit too big, but the recipient can always grow into them. I went with Regia sock yarn in the end because of the whole machine washable thing... This is the basic sock pattern by Ann Budd, but I'm also intending to make a second pair using a more interesting pattern.

The next thing I've cast on is an eleventh (!!) Beyond puerperium, this time to use up leftovers of the Millamia in the snow colourway, and two different greens of Debbie Bliss Baby cashmerino. I should have just enough for one of the smaller sizes.

I realised I haven't done stash totals for a couple of months. They're looking pretty good as I've done several smaller projects and got them finished!

Yarn bought in August: 420m and September: 74m
Yarn used in August: 305m and September: 866.2m
(I don't have the actual total used for the baby blanket, as I don't have a record of how much of some of the yarn was leftover, as it's been in my stash from before I owned digital kitchen scales. I've only included the amount for the leftovers recorded in my stash).

That means that totals for 2015 so far are:
Yarn bought: 4726.5 metres
Yarn used up: 6795.6 metres, which means I've used up 2169.1 metres more than I've purchased so far!

I'll leave you with a picture of the knitted boob at the breastfeeding antenatal class I went to last week! There was one waiting for each of us when we got there, and I was delighted, as back in the dim mists of time of 2007, I knitted one for Liverpool Women's Hospital!

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Garden at the beginning of October 2015

Oops, bit of a break from blogging, but September was a busy month, and I'll blog about that more later on. Thought I'd better get the garden post done before November happens!

This month the 1st fell on a Thursday, when I'm not at work, so I was able to take photos in the morning. It's definitely getting more of an autumnal feel now.

Still plenty of flowers though. The Rudbeckias in both front and back gardens still look very bright and cheerful

And all the fuchsias are still covered in flowers. The roses I grow in containers on the patio have been disappointing this year, but I think next year I will revert back to using the compost I used originally (New Horizon organic and peat free multi-purpose compost), which they seem to like a lot better.

As I'm now fairly huge and gardening is getting difficult I'm letting most things run to seed and not bothering to deadhead. The sweet peas still have lots of flowers on them.

And the Japanese anenomes will soon have lots of fluffy little seedheads.

My Hydrangea 'Twist n shout' is showing off why I bought it five years ago - beautiful autumn colours

The Cosmos I grew from seed is still flowering away, and looking rather pretty next to the Heuchera leaves.

The sedums I Chelsea chopped in May are looking fantastic, with flowers at different stages. Or they were. Some wildlife (I suspect a fox or two) went on the rampage the day after I took this photo and they've all been flattened and most of the stems broken. Grrr.

Still harvesting a couple of bowls full of raspberries every week.

And this year we finally grew a decent number of apples. We picked 22 off the standard apple tree, and they taste delicious!

How is your garden doing now we're heading into Autumn?

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Garden at the beginning of September 2015

All pictures taken by the OH this time, as I wasn't home from work in time before it got gloomy!

We've had lots of rain so the lawn has greened up nicely. The OH also took out the Echinops from the raised bed as it was crushing the Escallonia and getting a Bit Too Big.

Apples ripening on the tree. It's covered this year, and it shouldn't be too much longer before they're ready to eat.

The one measly apple left on the other tree after all of the others (still unripe) were gobbled by a greedy squirrel

Instead of the Echinops, I moved this Fuchsia into the space - it's the one I bought at Croome back in June and had been in a container. It has tiny little flowers, and should grow reasonably tall now it's in a border rather than the container.

The autumny flowers are blooming. I'd like to move these up a bit too so they get more sun, but digging up plants and moving them is a bit beyond me at the moment!

This year's tomatoes have been pathetic. We haven't had one to eat yet, and when they eventually do ripen they invariably split

The Japanese Anenome is doing really well. I love its flowers, and also the little fluffy seeds that develop later on (I'm currently deadheading them, but will let some seeds develop later on in the season as it self-seeds well).

We've had lots of Gladioli this year, as I bought a bumper lot at the garden centre at Clandon Park, which we visited not long before it burnt down (Clandon Park that is, not the garden centre). I still feel really sad about that, as it was a lovely property to visit, and in my professional incarnation, I catalogued the library there.

There is a YouTube video showing the extent of the devastation.

Thanks to the OH for digging up the Echinops and taking all the pictures this month!