Saturday 29 January 2022

Nearly, not quite...

I will restart my three word gardening posts soon because I am getting itchy feet to grow again. In the meantime, I will show you what has been going on over the winter.

We are being tempted with slightly longer days giving us an after school slot to walk the dog, feed the sheep and chickens. This is also making me want to start thinking about the garden again.

The emergence of winter flowers like snowdrops are making me get excited about which bulbs are going to pop up again in the front border.

Considering this was just my grandfather's antique potato planter in some soil last year, I am pleased that the front garden at least has something on show in January. If it can look this good when it should look bad, gives me hope that I have planned it out well. The little piles of hay are protecting my ranunculus when we have hard frosts which we get on top of a ridge here.I gave this border a good weeding last week and saw tiny bulb leaves peeping out.

Indoors I am welcoming the longevity of my Christmas poinsettia and the explosion on my spider plant which I know to be a sign that it is pot bound so maybe a mammoth houseplant re-pot is on the cards soon. Also it is making me want to get my macrame stuff out and hit my crafty side.

I am loving the return of daffodils to my weekly food shop. My mum bought me some bulbs too for my birthday which is next up on my list of things to plant.

In much bigger and somewhat historical news, I have given a piece of land to my friend Beth to use. She is a bridal flower grower and designer. Last year after removing all the old building rubbish from a paddock at the back of the new house I found myself staring at a huge piece of ground. I was going to plant an orchard on it but as I stood there with a mug of tea I thought it would be a much needed growing space for my friend Beth to expand. Beth works on her own, and so do I, so it was a collaboration that meant we both wouldn't feel isolated. On a more selfish note, I would gaze at a sea of seasonal flowers from my kitchen window and not have to weed it!

She and Andy spent late Autumn rotavating it, splitting it into beds and adding a whole trailer load of manure.

Currently, it has 100's of foxgloves in all different colours laid out in one bed and fifteen rose bushes in a rose bed. I made a peony bed too but it is a bit weedy! As the ground slopes away she has shrubs and perennials in other beds. It is not much to look at now but I will love showing you this cut flower garden as it changes throughout the year.

With Beth and her plantsmanship skills on hand a few days a week, I have was able to pick her brains about what to plant in Autumn 2021. I have sweet peas overwintering in the greenhouse.

I took cuttings from all of my trailing geraniums doubling my stock for filling pots in Spring.

My cornflower seeds have been pricked out and are now outside hardening off. Beth informs me they are OK up to -10 degrees.

The veg plot is still under its tarp staying all warm and weed free. The only veg I have on the go at the moment is a good garlic bed. Meg planted these in late Autumn in cell trays and we put them out last week. By the time they are ready to pick, tie and dry I will hopefully replace this bed with the sweet peas.

Thanks for dropping by. I hope you found something of interest in my garden. Jo xx

Thursday 20 January 2022

I have decided to move my ing posts towards the end of the month so that I can include all the seasonal things that have been going on, when I did them at the beginning of the month I was always kind of a month behind.

Loving - early morning dog walks in frosty weather. So much more enjoyable than the December murk we had.

Feeling - much happier with my yarn choice for the latest knit on my needles. I frogged the last yoke because the coloured yarn was too thin and it sort of fell into the brown yarn. This one is King Cole Bramble in a colourway named Goldenberry. For me, it should be called Blue-Tit-in-a-tree.

Making - a much better job of knitting when the yarn is right. There are no mistakes this time.

Shrinking - my Paper Dolls sweater :( It had a cooking stain on the front and I made the mistake of washing it on too hot a wash. It is a pain in one way because it was a 3ply knit but in another way it was always too long but I kept wearing it because I made it. I wasn't overly in love with the coral colour either.

Turning - said sweater into a cosy cushion cover instead. Fun or misguided?

Awing - at my youngest girls stitching work. I am also in awe of how she keeps the momentum of it going. She does some most evenings while watching one episode of Death in Paradise from the iplayer.

Looking - on as my oldest shows equal skill but uses hers to modify her jeans. She is currently working on the hedgehog at the end. Heidi flits between creative activity because she is doing GCSE Art and has lots of other creative outlets. She loves a few evenings on her cross stitch too.

Welcoming - Gordon. He is our new cockeral. It could have gone one way or another but our one remaining hen, Daisy, was driving herself demented in the run on her own. They get on so well and Daisy has stopped doing sad laps of the run and they peck about together in the field. We are hoping to get some chicks but who knows?

Celebrating - my birthday which always pulls January along somehow. I had so many wonderful gifts and cards. Bloke bought me this bracelet and my friend made me a yummy syrup cake. My mum got me some summer flowering bulbs and I also had new gardening gloves and woolly mittens from friends too. An array of hobby linked gifts. Perfect.

Sewing - I have made some very successful stuff of late. My favourites are this double gauze Charlie Caftan. The fabric is an absolute winner, but while making it, I wasn't sure about the caftan style however as soon as you tie the waist it makes the most comfy dress.

Trying- out a more casual pattern to make a hoodie. It is actually for Heidi but I am having a go with it too.

Thinking - I am very lucky to live where I live and do what I do.

Wanting - to start gardening again. I am getting itchy feet to grow things.

Thanks for dropping by. Jo xxxx

Sunday 9 January 2022

Getting it right

On my new quest to get knitting right, without the mistakes I ignore and put down to my excessive creativity, I have continued to be a serial unpicker. I loved knitting this hat in 4ply leftovers which now has no mistakes. The crown was not working out well with the decreases not matching up with the colourwork but I got there in the end. I feel better for knowing it is right.

but oh the ends... once it was complete, I popped it in my present box for next Christmas. I enjoyed working this pattern and hope to make some more.

After the hat, just before Christmas, I had a run of bad knitting luck. I started my new Avena sweater by Jennifer Steingass but my yarn choices were not a good match. I ordered a chestnut brown for the main body and a ball of king Cole riot to use as a graduated colour section. There were several problems, none of which stopped a capricorn like me from knitting on, the coloured yarn was too hairy and kept dragging on the brown working yarn making the twists for colourwork impossibly hard. I ploughed on. The next problem was that the coloured yarn was a much thinner DK gauge than the Drops Lima producing a very pixelated patterned section. 

It was when I stopped loving the yarn that the mistakes crept in. I knew a few rows were not right and I thought I could fudge the stitch count back to the correct number and use a crochet hook to turn any stitches from brown to the colour as I spotted them. But alas it was not working. It then felt an incredible waste of yarn and time not to make this beautiful jumper properly so I frogged the whole yoke which, by now, was only 4 rows from completion.

I ordered what I think will be a better colourway yarn and this time I will do a test square to check first. Because I knit every evening, I wanted to start a little filler knit while I waited for my new yarn to arrive. Step in this little baby waistcoat but even this was not without its woes. I knit two thirds of the back from a hand rolled ball of dark green yarn from the knitting basket, started a brand new ball of stylecraft to continue and found that the first bit I had used was not the same!!!!! It must have been a spare bit from one of the girls crochet bags that had been picked up off the floor and dropped in the nasket for hoovering purposes.

Frogged it. Swore a bit. Emptied the dishwasher. Went to bed.

Annnnyyway, this is the completed waistcoat which is for a friend of a friend who has paid me to knit it for her little boy. 

I dare not cast on my new Avena until I have a few successful makes under my belt so presently I am knitting another sheep hat because they give me such joy. Friends always offer to buy them from me when they see Andy wearing his so I thought I would get one on the needles. It is not profitable but it pays for my yarn or sometimes my yarn buying mistakes!

Are you knitting at the moment?

Jo xxxxx

Monday 3 January 2022

Happy New Year! I like to make three crafting resolutions each year to keep my hobby interesting and challenging. Last year I decided to:

1) Learn to use the ruffler foot for my sewing machine... and do you know what? I still didn't use it so I guess in a whole year of sewing clothes for all of us, I just don't need it. I think maybe I have had it for so long that now my girls are in their teens, I have possibly missed that gathered-pretty-phase of their clothing choices. I can put this one to bed I reckon and never speak of such a thing again.
No regrets.

2)Make a dent in my fabric scraps especially the thin strips... this is actually going very well in the background although not to completion. I have made a strip quilt topper but it is a shade off a single bed size and now that I like the concept of it so much I want to make it into a double bed topper to store as a future wedding present. 

3)To sew a raincoat... Total success here, I made three. One for me, my mum and my youngest. It is the Eden raincoat by Tilly and the Buttons and Meg's was from a vintage pattern.

For 2022, I would like to improve some of my making.

1) To work with different fabrics. I have never used silk before because I am frightened of cutting it out so I would like to overcome this fear and of course have something beautiful to wear.

2) To stop knitting on when I know that something has gone wrong. I am an absolute sucker for it. Fudging each row until it gets right never happens but then I am always a little disappointed when I know there is a mistake. I am going to become a frogger starting with this yoked sweater. The black dots are all the mistakes. The one massive mistake is that the coloured yarn is too thin against the brown so I started making mistakes and not loving it enough to unpick them. 

3)To Crochet a chunky throw that has straight sides. I have been gifted some lovely yarn and I would like to use it well and keep my stitch count correct for each row. Sometimes I do slapdash crochet too!

Generally this year my sewing has improved in quality massively because I have been recording my makes for Minerva for freelance media content which will be released later this year. There is nothing better than videoing yourself sewing for others to learn from for making you sew properly! It has been my dream job and I am so looking forward to sewing more. 

Has it made you think of something you would like to finish, start or improve?

Happy New Year! Jo xxxx