Out for Show

Gnarled oak was out on the town today. I stretched the sleeves out some and it was ready to wear! The weather turned chilly today so it was perfect to wear my new sweater in St. Albans. This is the town only about 8 min away from Harpenden. You know how you never explore in the area in which you live? Well John and I decided to check out this old Roman city before we got too complacent. We went to the beautiful old cathedral first for a photo shoot!!!

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This cathedral was built in 1077, yes that’s right not 1977 when I was born but 1077, seriously old!

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We also found this pub which is on the site of one of the oldest pubs in the UK, originally the Pigeon House, 8th century.

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Also, look…a Roman wall…

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Blanket Surgery A Success!

As I’m going home for Easter next week I wanted to doctor John’s sister’s log cabin blanket up so that he can deliver. I think it turned out a dream and it wasn’t until half way through that I thought “oh wait a sec if this doesn’t work out I may have ruined a lot of beautiful knitting”! Fortunately, it all worked out, at least I think so…

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It even looks pretty folded up. I love the bit of polka dot border peeking out…

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It was actually pretty quick to do once I got going. I sewed down each long black strip and made an “X” shape through each square. They look like pretty diamonds now…

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Then I trimmed the edge of the backing material 2 inches…

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Then pressed an inch up and again another inch to pin…

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Then I sewed around the edges…

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And done!
I hope they like it better now, I do.

Do I Smell?

I had no idea until yesterday but John had to abandon me again to go to Germany for the night. I don’t think my parents will like him anymore for leaving me so often! I’ve been using the time to get out on my bike. I did 30 km today in the sunshine. It took about an 1 1/2 hr because the area is much more hilly than I originally appreciated!

I’ve also been working on a few projects…

Gnarled Oak…just going to cast off first button band and will do second side tonight while I watch reruns of season 1 of Doogie Howser M.D. on Hulu. (Oh yes Doogie, that’s dating yourself for ya!)

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I’ve been working on a knit log cabin blanket for myself. It’s a fab project for the car. I have 2 blocks done so far…

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I have already done one of these blankets for John’s sister’s family…

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However with 6 people in her family it has taken a lot of abuse over the last couple of years. It shows they love it though. Yes, and so do their bunnies who have taken a few chunks out of the blanket…look close…

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I’ve fixed the holes but decided to try and line the back to give it more stability, so young Joel doesn’t stretch his feet through the end when he’s wrapped up watching T.V. I got some English printed fabric at CallyCo in Stamford by Clarke & Clarke. His sister Mary loves purple so I hope they like the changes. I used 505 spray to try and tack down the material so that I can “quilt” it in place…

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I got thread at the shops today and might start it tonight. I hope it works out I tried a little sample just to see if it would go through the machine ok…

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Wish me luck!

One More Day-Monday

The weekend was extended to Monday as John owed me some time! We had a lovely morning walking around Stamford. It was another beautiful old town, apparently a stunning Georgian town. Of course I looked up some sewing stores and found a cute one called CallyCo. It was charming…

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I wasn’t going to get anything really but did get some fabric to back a knitted blanket and some material to make a “Honey Bun Pouf” for myself. (I’ll show all at a later date.)

We also found what appeared to be a cute knitting store from the outside…

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It was a bit Grannyish inside but I did get some cute Union Jack buttons for Lady Fia’s soon to be brother Lord Edgar. (Real name to be determined!) They seemed to only carry one brand of yarn, that I didn’t recognise at all, not really my luxury style it seemed though.

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There is a bit of a glare on the picture I see, it’s King Cole yarn.

After looking around town John and I decided to buy a new summer home…

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OMG, we totally stumbled on this place because it’s not a National Trust site. It is currently called Burghley House but I think John and I might rename it once credit checks go through and we own the place for real! Lots of room for visitors now!

We actually had lunch in the garden of the house and it was absolutely beautiful. We couldn’t get over our luck of finding this place. The sun was beating down as we drank my favourite sparkling elderflower drink.

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We could have stayed here forever but had to go to see the Hunger Games, which was great by the way but the book was soooooo much better.

Go go perfect Sunday!

When we decided to move to the UK I dreamed that we would get a National Trust membership and tour around the great estates and historical buildings of the UK on a sunny Sunday with picnic basket in hand. (We didn’t do a picnic but I do have a great idea for making a National Trust picnic basket! Stay tuned…)
Bright and early we drove to Lyveden New Bield. At first we thought it was a ruins of an Elizabethan home/castle but it was actually a “summer” home that never got finished. I love the symmetry of the cross design. Basically the guy ran out of money and the workers just left. You could see where they had put hinges in the stone for doors but no doors were ever installed. Worked stopped in 1605! Like I said old, old, old!

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Look my favourite room in the house…the kitchen!

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Behind the kitchen was a multi oven room of sorts for a large sauce pot and what John thought was a pizza oven!

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Modern kitchen plumbing! This stone cut out went from the roof to the basement kitchen and would be enclosed for running water.

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The gardens were particularly important to this estate and they were planned to perfection. The apple orchard had ancient apple varieties and a mote surrounding the garden.

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The best bit was this snail mound that would have flowers planted all the way up the path to the top, set so that as the women walked up their skirts would move the flowers and release their scent to best effect. How lovely!!!!

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Next we went to Belton House. House indeed!!! More of a castle I think…

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As we were walking around the house and reading a pamphlet I realised that they had filmed some of BBC’s Pride and Prejudice here. The house immediately became much more exciting!!! It was Rosings Park the home of Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Check out the desk, it’s where Mr. Darcy wrote his famous first love letter to Lizzy…

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After a light cream tea…

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Ooooo but before we left I found a bush that was littered with ladybugs! I’d never seen anything like it.

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From the parking lot at the hotel we walked through this amazing courtyard and into the reception of the hotel. It was breathtaking…

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Check out the bathroom…

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Seriously, old, old, old!!!!! Love it!

A Crafty Break-Saturday

John is amazing and has totally made up for abandoning me in Australia! The weather certainly held up this weekend and it was so wonderful. We saw so many amazing things that I’ll have to break it down by day…I did bring knitting for a Noro log cabin blanket by the way but it never made it out of the bag!
We drove about an hour north to a small town called Normanton and stayed at a hotel on the Rutland Water Reserve. We arrived at the hotel with our bikes…

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And after settling in we went for a beautiful 26 km ride around the lake. It felt so good to be out biking again…

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We over did it a bit on the bikes so relaxed until dinner by walking to the lake and an old church built on a walkout into the lake…

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Everything is going into full bloom here, it’s just amazing. The daffodils are particularly wonderful.
I’m not sure how old this church is but everything here is old, old, old!

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John likes to try his hand at artistic photos, or just catching me be happy!

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Gnarled Oak

Yeah, John is home and he’s planned a weekend away! We are off about an hour north to the Stamford areas with our bikes and National Trust guide in hand. I’m taking a wee break from Gnarled Oak but I leave you with a sneak peak of the final product.

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As you can see I haven’t worked any ends in yet and there is no button band in sight. I did do under the arms though. It says to graft but I did a 3 needle bind-off and honestly it looks totally fine. I think the back is the better view though…

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The Oak Leaf pattern is really quite stunning but a few rows were hell on my hands with multiple decreases. Here’s a close up…

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I will need to block the sleeves because my arms are really long. Actually, my arms are unusually long for my height and stature. Julie has oh so kindly named them “Gorilla Arms”. This is why I prefer top-down sweaters so I can get the arm length just perfect. It’s always a struggle no matter how hard I try and measure! This sweater is no exception, it actually looks fine but feels a bit short so I will definitely be stretching them out to ape size.

Ooooo That Doesn’t Sound Good!

A phrase I said far too often over the last 2 days. I vowed to make new curtains for our bedroom. The whole room is beige and really made me feel sick. The curtains themselves even looked dirty. Who knows when they were last cleaned. You may remember I got some great fabric a few weeks ago now at IKEA. John was very excited about the possibility of seeing that material become curtains and I’m glad to say I have finished them before his return tomorrow.

I might have bit off a bit more than my sewing machine could sew through though, thus the grimace I had on my face while jumping as my needle got stuck in too many layers of fabric and saying “ah that doesn’t sound right!” It survived though and I learned a few things about working with layers of home decor fabric.

I made flap top curtains because those are the only I can do right now. I made these for her Ladyship. I was soooo stressed they wouldn’t turn out but I think they look quite grand.

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I only used 2 fabrics for ours…

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I like the idea of mixing fabrics for curtains. It reminds me of a big quilt.

Then I made the tabs for the top rail. I pressed the seams in and then sewed down one side but I think it would have made less bulky seams for later sewing if I had done them in a tube and pressed the seam to the back.

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Go go little Ladybug… I made a new friend…

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One side done and the ugly, pukey side up to compare…

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These are going to be called my Nancy curtains because I realised after I’d bought the fabric that it’s the same as what my good friend Nancy used to make her stellar dining room chair covers.

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I love the way the light comes through the white flowers a bit. I didn’t line them like I did Lady Fia’s. Not much light comes through at night anyways so hopefully it should be fine.

I think I’m ready to branch out to more complicated curtains. I also realised that I probably should have got lessons from my Aunt Nora before I left Canada because if I remember correctly she is a home decor sewing guru of sorts! Oh well there is always You Tube!

Treasure Box

I have been trying to continue organising my workroom while John is away. He’s in Orlando now so the time change is much easier to talk. I decided to go through my 2 huge knitting bins to see what’s what. There was quite a large stash there but I don’t have a problem with that. I say embrace the stash! Yarn is beautiful to look at and it makes knitters happy so who cares how much you have. If you are out at a store and you see yarn that really speaks to you just buy it I say! I figure I’ll eventually use it up. Actually, I think the best thing about going back and looking at yarn from years gone by is that you can plan something new to make with it. I on the other hand have a different problem with my stash. I realised I have a ton of projects that are about half way done and have sadly been abandoned. I took some pictures of some particularly heartbreaking part finished items. There were many many more but these are the ones I’m now inspired to finish.

I haven’t a clue when I started this feather and fan blanket but I still adore the colours and it’s an easy pattern to do in the car. (I prefer to knit rather than watch John drive too close to cars!) I’m using a fun sparkle Noro from a few years ago called Aurora.

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This is a lovely gem that I started while I was in New Zealand about 10 years ago (omg could it be that long)! I remember I got the yarn at a local mill and wanted to do a very traditional Guernsey Sweater. Most Kiwis had a sweater like this at some point I think, especially in the South Island. I’ve done the back and just about done the front.

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Now I’m living in the UK I feel the need to finish these next 2 beauties. First is a traditional Aran sweater with a twist. It’s done in Rowan Natural Silk Aran which is a dreamy yarn with a wonderful texture and flecks of colour. Unfortunately, only the sleeve started in this one as the tension swatch, oops.

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The sweater is from the Rowan RYC collection of Books. It’s book 9 called Classic Beach. Here’s a close up of the pattern. I really must keep going on this because I think it’s gorgeous.

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The next very English sweater I’m embarrassed to say was the 2nd sweater I started after meeting Julie at the Needle Emporium. I remember she had to order this yarn in. I think I was really into cables then because this is another doozy. I still like the sweater but it looks like it’s going to be huge. This was started before I really thought about how to best size a sweater for me. I might need to adjust the collar on this sweater, not sure if I like it anymore. Check out the title, Catherine Parr! I actually have the back done and just about the front.

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It is from an Alice Starmore book called Tudor Roses. It is lovely but I think I’d have to modernise some of the patterns to suit my taste now.

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I think that’s enough to keep me busy for now! What do you think I should work on first?

Oh and some might be wondering how my adventures in crochet are coming, they aren’t! Take a look at this sad excuse for the start of a Granny Square, Julie help!!! I might get John’s mom to help as she’s in the UK. I think I’m a hands on learner. I find it hard to read directions. I guess I could always check out You Tube as well but maybe I’m lazy, I’d rather have someone just show me.

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Very sad display, eh!

On a happier note, on row 6 of Gnarled Oak yoke pattern. It’s funny because I raced through the sweater just to get to the fun pattern bit and it’s almost over. It better look good on! Mom says that Julie has her’s hanging in the store and it looks lovely.

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There was a small snag after I joined the arms. I misread the pattern and did a decrease row. Not a terrible tragedy though because I only had to unpick 1 row. Note: if you are doing the smallest 2 sizes after the join you go right to “All Sizes”.

Take from the rich and give to the poor

I’ve always loved the story of Robin Hood. I love all of the T.V. and movie versions and on this past weekend I got to meet the real thing…

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That’s my nephew Lachlan who is going to Nottingham University and yes that’s a statue of Robin Hood outside of Nottingham castle. Sooooo touristy but I love it!!!!! We had a nice visit and ate lunch at this neat restaurant with some very appropriate for me decorating.

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I thought it was such a great idea to stack these bolts of material to decorate a wall.

It was also St. Patrick’s Day on Saturday and for some reason I thought it was only the crazy Americans that went all out for the day but the town centre was rocking with a band and a variety of interesting green outfits!

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There was also a really neat building in the centre shopping area that I thought worth sharing.

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After the craziness of the square we wandered into a lovely quiet neighbourhood seconds away (or as I like to say now, an area I have lived in a previous life). Look at my house and cute front door!

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To top the area off check out this oh so English view…

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