Friday 28 December 2018


  • A rainy walk at the park. Flecks of orange glowing against neutral greys and browns.
  • The annual collaborative Christmas Card design made by our Service User Group at work. An array of jolly snow-people out for a midnight stroll, one perhaps a little too full of the festive spirit...
  • A custom-designed, made-to-measure Christmas jumper for a friend's daughter's teddy bear/best friend - 'Dominic'.
  • Bare trees casting long shadows in the pale winter sunshine at the park.
  • A city centre meeting near the German market provided an unexpected chance to stop and admire the fabulous over-the-toppery of an old-fashioned carousel.
  • Prepping this year's crafty gift for family and friends. Little slices of wood, complete with bark, decorated with tiny snow-globe style trees. I used a mixture of acrylics, watercolour pencils and paints, and irridescent acrylic medium to create a frosty moonlit winter scene. Added a couple of coats of gloss varnish and a magnet glued to the back and 'hey-presto!' - seasonal decorations for the fridge!

  • Two completely different hats from the same pattern - the Antler toque by the fabulous TinCanKnits - made for my two sons. I can't stress enough how much Magic Loop has transformed my knitting life. No more fiddling with double ended needles, no more tedious seams - hats are an absolute doddle these days!
  • Just to hammer the point home, take a look below at what's currently on the circular needles - a complex, cabled beauty of a fair isle hat - the Norrland hat by Sara Huntington Burch.  Now, I'm not normally a fan of fair isle - I always struggle to get the tension right - but I fell madly in love with this design the moment I saw it, and I think the snowflake motif I incorporated into the front of Dominic's little teddy bear jumper gave me the confidence to believe I could at least attempt it. I'm teaching myself to use two handed fair isle knitting which is making my tension a lot more consistent, but working the cables definitely interrupts the flow. Even without those pesky double-ended needles it is still quite fiddly and slow going. Not so much a 'switch off and watch telly as you knit' type of project, more a 'concentrate, focus and double-check' style of thing, but it will all be over soon (I've just started the decreases) and it is absolutely beautiful! I'm making it for my Mum and secretly thinking I might have to make another one for myself...

  • Just to round things off, here is the picture my friend sent me of Dominic in his festive finery on Christmas Day. He's a bear of few words, but, as you can see, his bestie is delighted by his smart appearance!

Saturday 1 December 2018

...pinafores for pigs and bonnets for babies

I 'rescued' this Peppa Pig toy from the charity shop the other week. After a thorough wash and a little bit of loose-seam-fixing she was nearly as good as new. All she needed to bring her fully back to life was a pretty floral pinafore and a yellow cardigan to match her little yellow boots. I have to say that Magic Loop is fabulous for tiny toy sleeves. No more fiddly seams - hooray!

I also reprised the Wee Morrie pattern to make a couple of fancy bonnets for my friend's twin grand-daughters using some novelty yarn from my stash to create a soft feathery border. This is such a quick, easy knit (Magic Loop strikes again), and looks so old-fashioned and sweet on a tiny baby.
Christmas is just around the corner and I'm worried I may have left it a little late for gift-making. I will be knitting furiously for the next three weeks, possibly pausing to make some personalised pebble fridge magnets (I inherited a bag full of self-adhesive magnets recently, and that is the direction my mind has taken with them). Watch this space...

Saturday 17 November 2018

...autumn leaves and knitting for twins

Our weekend park walks have been lovely recently - or perhaps that should be 'even more lovely than usual'. I really don't know how we managed before we properly discovered the woodland trails and wide open spaces hidden just up the hill from our house. Living, as we do, within a mile or so of the city centre I feel we're very fortunate to have somewhere like this to escape to whenever we feel like it. 
My friend has just become a grandma again, to two tiny identical twin girls, who were born very early at 33 weeks. There were times during the pregnancy when the doctors weren't sure if both babies would survive, and they are still undergoing tests for issues with their hearing and vision, but everyone is very thankful that they are here at last, gaining weight and doing well. Of course I have been busy knitting things to keep them cosy and warm: dear little bonnets (Wee Morrie pattern, slightly adapted with a plain stocking sttich back) and cardigans. The great thing about baby clothes is that you can make them so quickly; with simple top-down patterns and magic loop they literally fly off the needles. Seamless knitting all the way!

I took the two photos below on a late afternoon walk with the XXSCat dog. Outside a local primary school swathes of vibrant yellow leaves had accumulated in piles and puddles in the gutter, creating accidental abstract patterns on the road. I'm not sure what passers-by made of the crazy lady taking photos of the pavement, but it was far too beautiful to resist.

Last weekend's park walk was all about the fallen leaves as well. We arrived after the frost had melted, to find everything bejewelled with tiny beads of water. I kept stopping for "just one more photo" every few yards, until my poor husband and the XXCat dog started to grumble at the snail's pace progress we were making. I think it's the hoarder/collector in me that can never get enough!

Friday 9 November 2018

...Seahouses II

Ahhh, the beach at Seahouses! How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

Coming back is like coming home. The sky is vast, and clouds drift across it in perfect harmony with the shifting water and sand below. There is time and space to breathe and relax.

There is so much to see. 

Jewel-like rock-pools encrusted with shells and filled with mysterious collections of pebbles, seaweed, anemones and tiny darting fish. 

Rainbows flickering in the ocean spray.

Rorschach images in the sand, left by the receding tide.

Endless reflections that leave you walking on air.

Changing moods - a landscape almost entirely stripped of colour on our final day.

Friday 26 October 2018

...hiatus highlights

  • An outdoor performance of Pride and Prejudice in the park - by the highly recommended 'Heartbreak Productions' touring theatre company. A handful of actors playing multiple roles - using only subtle costume tweaks to differentiate between characters - on a tiny stage with minimal props. Incredibly clever, and also very funny. Everyone, cast included, had a whale of a time. 

  • A trip to the Yorkshire Arboretum at Castle Howard (where Brideshead Revisited was filmed, back in the days when Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews were winsome, floppy-haired young men). Essentially a natural library showcasing a collection of trees from around the world, the Arboretum is a delightful place to visit if you are a tree-lover like me!

  • An early morning weekend walk at the park. Captivating colours, sunshine and frost on the leaves. Here comes Autumn again...

  • Although I've been knitting a few bits and pieces (and unravelling some too) I've recently revived my 'O' level dressmaking skills using this pattern book below. It's such a clever idea to use variations on a simple tunic and a basic cardigan pattern to create countless different permutations and combinations.

I was pleased to find that my sewing skills are still reasonably good, and I managed to finish my first tunic (the pink one) within just a few hours. I thought I'd measured myself accurately enough and chosen the right size accordingly, but I couldn't help thinking "This looks huge!" as I was putting it together. I also kept thinking, "Hmmm, but you are a generously upholstered lady, possibly in need of a reality check when it comes to matters of size!" I couldn't try it on for fear of stretching the unfinished arm and neck holes, so just kept going until it was finished. Whereupon it emerged that my first instinct was right - it was huge! As in 'gaping at the underarms and almost slipping off the shoulders' huge. Not to be deterred I decided that it was still wearable as a pinafore with a long sleeved T-shirt underneath...but as I'm currently trying to lose weight (1.5 stones lost, 1.5 to go) I don't know how much more wear I will realistically get out of it. 

So I went ahead and made another one, this time in a plain fabric with contrasting pocket linings and one size smaller. The fit is a bit better but I'm starting to think that the pattern simply wasn't designed for ladies with larger bosoms - although this one is just right across the chest, it still seems too wide everywhere else...

...and yet despite these reservations I have had lots of lovely compliments when wearing both tunics, so I'm going to give the pattern one last try in the next size down, when I've shed a bit more weight, and see if the third time truly is a charm.

  • Along with our trusty XXSCat dog we've just returned from a four night break in my favourite place on the planet (Seahouses). More of this in my next post. 

Saturday 18 August 2018

...heavenly colour

This time last year the park was a riot of bold, bright colours - vibrant reds, yellows and blues:

In mid-August 2018 there is an entirely different colour scheme to enjoy. Those long weeks of non-stop sunshine have bleached the colour out of the landscape, leaving only the most delicate pastel shades - blush pinks, soft greens, eggshell blues, ivory, taupe and cream. Simply divine!

Sunday 5 August 2018

...midsummer moments

  • Last weekend we finally got a break from the dry, hot weather and had a proper rainy day. It was lovely! We did a complete circuit of the park and got soaked to the skin, but it felt absolutely wonderful to be comfortably cool for a change.  

  • For the past six months at work we've been waiting to move to a new base as our current building has been sold to housing developers. There have been various delays, mainly for lengthy repairs to be made to a collapsed, water-damaged ceiling in the part of the Grade 2 listed building we're moving into, but on Friday 10th August we'll finally be saying goodbye to our shabby, decrepit office/home-from-home. I've been busy taking photos of all our favourite features - the gorilla tape carpet repairs, mystery stains and passive-aggressive notes left by the cleaner before she retired in March. The DIY solution to the tap that couldn't be turned off in the kitchen and the save water/hot water* warning signs above the missing sink in the ladies' loo (with the fetching dark blue gloss paint walls) are my personal favourites. 

*Ironically we haven't had ANY hot water in the building for the past month and a half. The boiler has gone the way of the cleaner, and (like her) has not been repaired or replaced.
  • The decluttering and packing has resumed with a vengeance, as one of the rooms we were supposed to be moving into is still not ready, so a lot of the things we were planning to take have to go into storage for the time being. The washable toys came home with me this weekend for a much needed spa break. Who knew that the light grey (with dark grey ears and tail) shaggy dog was actually a white (with dark grey ears and tail) shaggy dog?!

  • My friend asked for help with a painting project yesterday. She has a small business offering wedding props for hire (large illuminated signs, sweetie/prosecco carts etc.) and had agreed to source a 'rustic' painted pallet as an added extra freebie for a couple she particularly liked. So she painted the pallet mint green and I went over to do the decorative bits. The lettering is a bit wonky, but it was a last minute project and I've offered to repaint it more carefully with a generic message if she wants to add it to her repertoire of accessories for hire. 
  • The hot weather has resumed so we kept our morning walk fairly short today. Highlights included the pincushion flowers (the seeds I planted at home are growing, but no sign of flowers as yet), the pink and zingy orange daisy, and the fabulous lilac/blue thistle - a seed head was harvested for planting at home. The XXSCat dog has a quizzical expression - "Why are you loitering among the flowers when there's running to be done?"

Saturday 28 July 2018

...another tiny mouse

I bought a little wooden doll-house from Ikea a couple of months ago, inspired by this lovely post by Lene Alve, which brought back vivid memories of childhood play with miniature figures and objects. I felt a real yearning to create something similar for myself, and for my maybe-future grand-children - that I could work on and add to over time. The house hasn't yet been assembled, but I've started collecting bits and pieces for it and thinking about how I want it to be. 

I love the quirky kittens that inhabit Lene's house, but have decided on something more Beatrix Potter-ish for my own. Think Tom Thumb and Hunca Munca, Mrs Tittlemouse, or the mice who befriended the Tailor of Gloucester! The little lady mouse below is made from pure wool felt, with a tiny knitted capelet adorning her shoulders (keeping the dream of winter alive as the summer sun beats down). My last little lady mouse looked so sweet with her floral accessory I'm thinking of making something for this one to hold in her little pink paw - her fingers curl quite readily if heated with a hair-dryer. I'm mulling over various possible items (flower, umbrella, fruit, basket) and materials (paper, clay, fabric, twigs, 3D pen). 

As ever, my thanks go to Ann Wood, whose Very Nice Mice pattern provided a jumping off point for me.
Apropos of nothing the picture below was taken during at dusk during one of my evening plant-pot-watering sessions (it's been far too hot to be lugging watering cans around before sundown). It's a solar-powered "firefly collection jar" from Aldi nestled among the geraniums. Soooo pretty!