Monday, 18 June 2018

Are you Stroking it or Knitting it?

Do you save yarn and stroke it or are you inclined to use it up? I used to save craft materials for some sort of epiphany project but I soon learnt that the best way to showcase the materials I enjoyed buying was to wear them and show them off to everybody, not just the inside of my cupboard.

I bought this skein in Buxton at Easter. It was a treat - a treat to myself for getting through such a dreary wet Easter holiday - but I wanted to knit with it straight away.

I went on Ravelry to find a project worthy of the yarn and 365m of it. In the end, I thought the most sensible thing to do was to do a yarn search for Peak District Yarns in Ravelry and behold one of the dyers patterns came up and I thought that was an ideal way of knowing that one skein would make something wonderful. I ordered the shawl pattern called 'The Torrs'

This was my holiday knitting project, a one weeker. I got it going before I went to ensure it was all going to be OK and then I sat in the sunshine, and once in the rain under a brolly, knitting away. It grew quickly because every other row increases by four stitches so a flexible needle was a must.

I was surprised by the size of it considering it was one skein.

I completed the last five rows at home, it took over an hour to do the Russian cast off on so many stitches. It used the yarn up to the very end which was a joy. I missed the last two knit rows to ensure I had enough for the cast off - glad I did! On completion it looked like a screwed up tea towel but blocking is an essential part of this make where the piece comes alive.
I didn't even know I had two chins, that's selfies for you!

Hooray! a draping shawl/scarf made from wool off a sheep and dyed by a human hand. I really like it - it is for me of course!

Do you have a special skein you are stroking?
Jo xxxx

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Making - a scarf with my lovely hand-dyed yarn from the Peak District

Eating - more salad and less bread

Cooking - a delicious family pasty from roasted garlic, feta and potatoes. It was delicious from such humble ingredients.

Deciding - how much work to take on this term to stay stress free and solvent

Wanting - to know why snails, that are known for moisture, choose to cluster on dry wood down at the baking hot beach

Fixing - The digger, the tractor and the dumper truck which all broke in the same week. That's Andy not me!

Building - we are putting down layers of floor insulation. Yawn!

Watching - the sunset at the farm

Considering - making a full on satchel for my big girl ready to start secondary school
Enjoying - making this heart keyring for the 17 year old girl in the coffee shop I frequent to mend her broken heart. She was touched.

Loving - that we have got the garden back on track

Disliking - not being able to say no sometimes

Getting - down my yarn stash with this little boy knit

Buying - a reading hammock, wonderful.

Wearing - Dresses. Hooray!

Wondering - Why I can never get flapjack out of the tin!

Thinking - how much the girls love being outside

Feeling - content

Jo xxxx

Monday, 11 June 2018

It is time for the full story

I think now it is time to tell you the full story with the backdrop of photos from a very special place, a place you have visited if you have been reading this blog for a while. The cabin. Grab a cup of tea and settle down.

My grandparents were farmers. My dad was second oldest of four brothers. He passed his 11+ in the 1960's and went to Grammar school. His bothers stayed at home and farmed so did his many cousins. We lived a very separate life to his farming brothers: later having a large house, company car, foreign holidays, an interest in education. We still however had this link to dad's home village; helping out at harvest time, staying there as children through the summer holidays when dad did his renovations on our derelict house. My grandparents tried to get planning permission to turn the milking sheds into a house for their retirement but planning restrictions in the 1980's were more restrictive than now in rural areas and sadly, for my Grandad, it never came to fruition. After my grandparents died my dad picked up the baton and tried to get permission to build a home there for his retirement - again it was difficult but he was tenacious.

Who wouldn't want to have this as their early evening view? My dad took 10 acres of land as part of his inheritance, including the milking yard, before selling the farm house and the rest of the land to split with his brothers - the initial farm was no more. He continued to try to build a house. He succeeded in gaining permission around 2012 and we decided to build a cabin in 2014 in the field so that we could stay there, help him build his house and the children could visit their grandad when he lived there. 

In the meantime while building reglulations were going through, we all liked to go to the farm cabin for a cup of tea with my dad and his wife after we had mucked in with farm tasks like hedging, shearing, vaccinating lambs etc. The cabin blew down in 2016 but I have my fathers tenacity, and I encouraged Andy to build it again. 

When we found out that my dad had cancer in 2015 we came to a crossroads. He seriously asked us if we would like to live there, carry the family baton and build the house he had tried, and succeeded in getting permission for or should he sell it all. My family tie felt so strong that we decided to take it on - we had no idea how to build a house but didn't want to let the land go. We loved the pond, the views, the freedom it gave our girls, the restorative pleasure it gave us all and the opportunity to have a little slice of rural Shropshire.

We started to think like people who were going to change their lives. We planted fruit trees and went to the Grand designs show. We bought Bruce who loved to chase pheasants and run like a mad dog... but that was only the naive start.

As my dads health worsened over the years we had to learn how to look after sheep at weekends, do some land management because we are always at the mercy of mother nature and primarily build a house from his drawings. 

Andy decided to give up work temporarily in September 2017 to help my dad try and see the vision of his house plans and be his carer/companion. Although dad had given us this project, he was not actually ready to let it go. It was one of the things that helped him hang on to life for so long.

 They built the foundations together through chemotherapy breaks and in January 2018 in those -10 degree conditions, when Andy's water bottle and yogurt froze in his lunch box, and it was too cold for my dad to be outside, Andy took delivery of a timber frame for a house and helped to erect it.

It was hard for Andy to work with my dad. They are very different people and dad's drive to still be in control was at times infuriating but we tried so hard for him to see as much of it as he could. His last visit there was to see the roof tiles on. He told me that he wished he could see the stonework on the outside but he knew that he wouldn't. 

So this weekend we all stayed at the cabin to tread the fields that are now ours, to feed and water the sheep that are now ours and take stock of a half built house that is now ours.

We watched the sun go down which was a deep red globe and felt very lucky and unlucky all at the same time, a phrase I had said to my dad only a week before he died when I thanked him for this special rural gift.

So there you have it, in the background of sewing clothes, knitting, crochet and family life we have been building a house. Other peoples house builds can be a bore so I have not mentioned it here before but it might pop up it in my news over the next few years - there is not a time frame - Andy has just got a new job. Our weekends will be a steep learning curve in house building without my dad to advise us but we will be fine. A new chapter begins as the sun goes down on the last.

I carry the baton for the third generation. Exciting isn't it? Thanks for listening. Jo xxxxx

Friday, 8 June 2018

A Tale of Two Crazy Quilts

Today I am linking with my friend Christina from A colourful life. We often inspire each other to make things and on this project we both decided to make a crazy boyz quilt and post together.

This quilt has been a whole heap of fun. No pressure. A square here and there. An instant washi tape gallery to enjoy. All packed neatly away in my huge cake tin when clearing away was required.

It uses all long thin scraps that developed as I finished my King Sized Quilt 'Lucky'.The strips were not squared, just used as they were plucked from the tin. It took about 20-30 mins to make each block selecting strips on size and pattern randomly; this is so liberating. 

There are limited florals lots of spots, stripes, checks, gingham, paisley, birds and stars - a right old mix up. There is a favourite shirt of the recipient which keeps reappearing and some of his father's shirts too. Henry does not know his mum has given me those items, he thinks they have gone to the charity shop. You may recognise some fabrics too if you have ever sent me some.

When they are all joined together it looks really crazy. To a non-quilter it holds the mystery of how the heck the whole thing was sewn together which is just the kind of feeling, Henry the recipient, will like. He loves science, adventure, puzzles, the crystal maze and a little sentiment. It is going to be a perfect 18th Birthday present. 

The border acts as a frame to make the whole thing stand out. For the first time I used the backing as the border which is brought forward from back to front and hand sewn. There is some hand quilting in the crazy panel which I will add to over time. It will be packed away now for a few years until his special day comes around. Size wise it is a single which is bigger than a spaniel as you can see! What do you think? It is a good design for a boy quilt isn't it?

The original 'Lucky' Quilt is the quilt that keeps on giving. It created these thin strips for this throw and there were 16 squares left over hiding in a drawer so I made a cushion pad for my new relaxing hammock. Perfect, all gone.

Here is a sneek peek at Christina's. Do pop over and see her quilt which she made for her boy. Her approach was mathematical whereas mine was random - it is good to see different takes on the same idea don't you think?

Thanks for dropping by. Jo xxx

Sunday, 3 June 2018

WATG Hot in Here Crochet Tunic

Hello there! We are back from a very relaxing and well deserved holiday in a Catalan area of the South of France. Mixed weather but warm enough to wear my latest creation.

This is the 'Hot in here' dress from Wool and the Gang WATG. I have wanted to crochet a dress for some time. I am channeling my inner Joni Mitchell as I wear it as a beach dress on holiday and try not to get it wet!

It is so simple to make from square motifs and no other shaping. The only modification I made is illustrated below where I crocheted the centre front neck square a slightly different shape. I would love to show you how I did it but I just made it up as I went along - the joy of crochet I find. Looks like I did some htr and dc in the centre instead of trebles??

It was a brilliant project to do between some thorny yarn projects I have been tackling of late: the sleeve issue on my red sweater and the complex cabling on my beatnik jumper which is all consuming. I took these to work and could make one each lunchtime.

On completion I thought about the functionality of this dress and considered it a waste to wear such wonderful and expensive yarn for 1 week out of 52 so I made a slip to go underneath using the top of the Winnats tank dress pattern from Wendy Ward and making it the length I wanted with a slight flare. I used a nude peachskin fabric from Minerva and it was the perfect way to give the dress a bit of longevity. I wore it in April with leggings when the weather was not baking hot. I know I could have bought a slip but you know me - if I can make it, I will.

It is actually really heavy but very cool to wear. The yarn is duck egg blue Tina tape yarn made from 100% Lyocell which makes for superb drape. I have used this yarn before to make a summer vest top so I knew it was nice against the skin.

This dress is the equivalent of an heirloom quilt - not in fashion, not out of fashion but a real keeper for many years. 

The pattern calls for 32 squares but I made them and then took a row, 6 squares, off the bottom because it was too long to wear with leggings. This tunic length will get more wear. 

Thanks for popping in. Jo xxx