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Hello everyone

Well I am having a lovely autumn here, am not going to be going to China anytime soon now so I am making the most of the season in the UK with some more lovely walks, practising being a domestic goddess and still more bunny knitting :-)

Have been busy baking cakes and crumbles, cooking stews and soups and have just taken possession of a new cookbook, Paul Hollywood’s Bread – inspired by watching The Great British Bake Off. Today I made some delicious Stilton and bacon rolls from this recipe and have lots more great ideas for the coming weeks.

Bread book

You will notice I also have a pumpkin all ready for the now obligatory pumpkin soup with melting cheese - yum, yum.

I have just sent off another bunny, this one is a very special one as it is a present for one of my daughter’s very good friends.

Ellie is being a bridesmaid this weekend for her school friend Charlotte and the bunny is a present for Charlotte’s daughter Elizabeth. I was asked to make the dress in the same colours as the bridesmaids will be wearing and added a little hairband as well.

Bridesmaid bunny

Bridesmaid bunny 2

Here are some photos of a beautiful cottage garden from a walk on the hills above my house a couple of weeks ago. There were some donkeys in the field next to the house as well, looking very cute.

Sept walk 3 -donkeys

Cottage garden

Cottage garden 2

Cottage garden 3

Cottage garden 4

Sept walk

Sept walk 2

Also went to my favourite reservoir, they have partly drained it as they are doing some work so went right down to the water.

Sept walk 4 - Butterley

It is the Marsden Jazz Festival this coming weekend so I will be manning the Box Office all weekend. Looking forward to it and hoping for very good weather, we have had beautiful sunshine just lately :-)

Hope you have a lovely weekend whatever you are doing and thanks for visiting.

Hello again

I have found a new addiction, I think I am just going to keep on knitting these bunnies as they are such fun to do.

I have long admired Julie’s (Little Cotton Rabbits) work and was very excited when she released the bunny pattern on Ravelry a while ago.

Do go and look at all the ones she has made on her blog, I have got lots of inspiration from looking at the colours she uses and have got some different ideas for my next few.

My first bunny and 2 dresses are finished and I have cast on for the second one.

Bunny Knitting 3

Julie’s original pattern has stripy legs and body so it looks like the bunny is wearing tights – I left that out of the first version to make it easier but am confident I know what I am doing now so will add underwear to the next ones!

Luckily I have lots of people to give bunnies to as we have lots of young children in the family now as well as friends with little ones so I will have homes for my bunnies to go to!

What I love about this is how quickly you can do it- am not a fan of large projects and the parts of the bunny are so quick even for a slow knitter like me.

As well as the basic pattern I bought the pattern for the extra dresses again from Ravelry, the spotty sleeveless dress pattern comes included with the bunny and the other dress is an adaptation of the cap sleeved lace hem dress. I also added the white border to the spotty dress as the original one was a bit short.

Bunny Knitting 2

I made the lace hem dress looser by doing another repeat of the lace pattern, made it a lot longer by adding rows to the skirt, added a white band at the waist when I gathered it in by using decreases and used bigger needles to knit the top to make it looser.

I am now feeling a lot more confident about how patterns ‘work’ so know how to do these simple changes.

I have left the back of both dresses open as the bunny is a present for a small child and that makes it easier to undress.

Julie’s patterns are brilliantly written with lots of step by step pics on every detail including the stuffing so even the bits that look tricky, like the shoes, aren’t at all.

Bunny Knitting

I am going to try some of the other designs for my next dress – the spotty one was my first go at colourwork and despite the back looking at bit messy it came out ok.

I am going to have a lovely time for the rest of the summer!

I have also been doing quite a lot of garden fettling – forgot to take a before pic but at the back of the house there was a very overgrown rockery with two foot high dandelions and nettles which now looks like this.

Garden Aug

I have planted some clematis and jasmine at the back so hopefully next Spring I will have some lovely climbers up the wall. I don’t miss having my old garden at all but do miss my clematis.

The hanging baskets back and front are looking lovely – due to inclement weather we haven’t made much use of the new table and chairs but I’m hoping it will stop raining soon :-)

Garden Aug

Garden Aug

I do love my new little house so much – just the right amount of gardening to do, planting nice things and a bit of weeding and watering and no hedges or lawns!

Right am off to do more knitting – thanks for visiting.

Hello again

I spend a lot of time travelling to all sorts of beautiful parts of the globe so it was lovely to have week in my gorgeous country appreciating (along with many tourists from all over the world) what England has to offer.

Our first day was spent in the Cotswolds where I grew up and the visit to Bourton-on-the-Water brought back many happy memories of paddling in this stream, seeing the pretty cottages and visiting the model village (which Kerry loved just as much as I did when I first saw it).

Bourton

Bourton 2

Bourton 3

We then went to Snowshill Manor, a National Trust property in the Cotswolds, quintessentially an English manor house with beautiful gardens but home to a very eclectic collection by the last owner Charles Paget Wade.

Snowshill

Snowshill 3

Snowshill 4

Snowshill 5

There was everything from samurai warrior suits to old bikes, including many beautiful Oriental chests from his travels. One room had a lovely collection of textiles including what looks like a piece from a Layton jacket!

Snowshill textiles

Snowshill textiles 2

Snowshill textiles 3

I particularly liked this sampler book showing miniature garments, no information on its maker but I think it would be a for a similar purpose to the one that inspired the Blackbird Designs book, ‘A Stitcher’s Journey’, which I posted about previously, to show prospective employers your needlework skills.

Snowshill textiles 4

Snowshill textiles 5

Snowshill textiles 6

A lovely day out – and all in the best of English summer sunshine!

Thanks for visiting, more historic loveliness soon!

Hello everyone

I arrived back from China last Tuesday and on Thursday we went to Worcester for Ellie’s graduation so I thought I would share a few photos of that with you.

My Mum came over from Spain for the week and so she was able to be here for the ceremony and Jake came down from Middlesbrough so we had a lovely few days with the family.

We stayed with my sister who lives in Worcester where Ellie was at University so had chance to catch up with her as well and after the graduation Mum and I went to Powis Castle with Ellie for an overnight stay. A very lovely weekend of family fun!

Here she is with her friends throwing their hats and with her very best friend at University, Becky.

Ellie - graduation 2

Ellie - graduation 1

Also I couldn’t resist the chance to get a photo of Ellie with this lovely door – the ceremony was held in Worcester Cathedral which was one of the reasons she chose to study there as not only is it a wonderful venue but also King John (who she studied at A level for her Medieval History) is buried there.

Ellie - graduation 3

I am very, very proud of her, not only for her hard work at University but also for her dedication to her new job.She is doing lots of exciting things to help Powis Castle  get ready for Christmas and is very busy with that and interpreting the kitchens and other areas of the castle to make them appeal to younger visitors. Their Christmas theme is ‘Once Upon a Time’ which is based on fairy tales so if you are in the area please go and visit.

She is also now working on their social media sites so do take a look at their Facebook page  for more inspiring pics.

These are a couple of pics I took in the gardens yesterday, it was a beautiful day and the autumn colours were brilliant.

Powis Nov 1

Powis - Nov 2

While I was in Worcester I took the opportunity to visit a couple of quilt fabric shops and have added a bit to my stash, mainly Christmas fabric but also a few other bits that I couldn’t resist :-) Will take some photos when we get some daylight!

Have so many pics from China to sort so will be doing that over the next couple of weeks to put up a new page about this trip.

Hope you have a very nice week ahead and thank you for visiting.

Some years ago in 2009 I did a post entitled ‘Home alone ……. with a pumpkin’  as both the kids were away and I was making pumpkin soup. In that post I wrote about how Jake would be leaving home so I was practising then for the time when I would be home alone for good.

Well this is it and Jake has left for University. We took him and all his belongings (and there were a lot of them when piled into my sister-in-law Amanda’s car!) all the way up north to Teesside University where he is happily settling in to his student hall.

Here is the outside of the halls of residence , not the most glamorous of buildings but Jake chose it as it has very large student rooms and good communal facilities and is very near campus.

Jake Uni 1

Here he is – with top hat of course – moving into his room.He says he has space for a grand piano but don’t think he will be able to afford that on a student budget! It looks a good room for parties though as it is twice as big as the space shown in this pic.

Jake Uni 2

It doesn’t seem two minutes since we dropping Ellie off at her halls of residence – you can see her at her first day at her halls in this post .

Hope Jake has a fab time, we are very proud of him

And of course now I get to start sorting out the new craft room, did a little bit last night but I have a lot of stuff to move – am hoping to be able to show you pics at the end of the week.

Still have not really decided on a decorating theme, was going to do a vintage/Cath Kidston look but most of my fabric is either Xams stuff or medieval so don’t know what would look best. Maybe I should just go for a Santa’s grotto theme and then I could have all my ornies out year round, that would be pretty ;-)

Am going to my new knitting group in the village tomorrow, Wool and W(h)ine, held at one of the local pubs (what a good idea) so am taking a simple pattern as don’t think I will be able to concentrate on anything much.

I was out partying this weekend and met a couple of the knitting group who are very lovely. One of them is an ex   re – enactor who has just set up an online fabric store which I will get the details of and post here! How exciting, I knew I was so right to move here.

I have had a wonderful week, on Monday I went to see the Mikron Theatre Company’s  latest production at one of our local pubs – a wonderfully funny play called ‘Losing the Plot’ about an allotment. The info for the company is at the link above – do go and see them if you get a chance, brilliant unique theatre.

Since I now have no one to look after or feed I thought I would do my bit for the local wildlife so have bought a lovely new bird feeding station for my front garden. I was ignored for the first 24 hours but then got some lovely visitors, starlings, crows, two finches and two robins. Was difficult to get good pics but this one is lovely.

Bird feeder

And as for the pumpkin it is nearly time to buy one for my favourite soup – Delia Smith’s Roasted Pumpkin Soup with Melting Cheese  - yum yum!

A busy week ahead but hopefully will have some crafting time. Thanks for visiting.

I hope that you are all well and happy. I have some time off this week so am very much enjoying myself – have just done a bit of gardening and am now continuing with my hand quilting.

I had a lovely time visiting Ellie at Powis Castle  this weekend. It was beautiful weather when I got there on Sunday so I took lots and lots of pics. I have made a slideshow of the castle and garden for you but will start off with some pics of Ellie in her National Trust uniform.

Powis - me Ellie 1

The title of this post comes from one of Ellie’s daily tasks which is to take light readings to check that there is not too much sun coming into the castle which would damage the textiles.

I went round with her when she did this on Sunday and one of the things she has to do is to measure the light on the bearskin rug in one of the rooms. She has a chart on the clipboard in the above photo to record the readings and one of the columns actually says ‘bear’s forehead’.

Years ago when she was very young we went to Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire and as the castle had just been restored the custodian took us on a personal tour and let Ellie unlock the castle with a massive key.

Ellie has always remembered that but these days she has the big keys herself and she gets to lock the beautiful doors like these on the coach house.

Powis - me - Ellie door

She is living in a house in the grounds which overlooks the gardens – here she is on her doorstep and the view of her garden – and the croquet lawn!

Powis - me - Ellie house

Powis - me - Ellie garden

The castle is amazing and full of the most beautiful things – we were not allowed to take photos of the interior as usual and it was too dark to take good pics anyway but you can go and look on Ellie’s  blog where she details all of the wonderful things she does and has lots more pics.

I am so very proud of her, it is a brilliant job and she is having a wonderful time. I went out for a meal with her colleagues and they are all very lovely and Welshpool is a really pretty little town to live in.

Here are a few of my fave close up pics from the garden – taken with my new camera which is working very well (until I break this one of course!) I am going to frame some of these for my new craft room.

Powis - flower 1

Powis - flower 2

Powis - flower 3

Powis - flower 4

And the beautiful gardens – some of the best I have ever seen. Well worth a visit if you are in the area.

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Take care and thanks for visiting.

I have decided that I really do like Spring best out of all of the seasons. I like all the others for different reasons but there is something about the start of warm sunny days after the cold of Winter that makes you very happy! I have had a very lovely weekend and I hope that you have too.

I have been very relaxed this weekend which was wonderful, I had a quiet week at work as I was only in the office for one day after getting back from China on Monday and as I have felt very tired and jet lagged I had not planned anything for this weekend beyond a bit of sorting in the house and garden.

As it has been very good weather I have spent a good few hours in the garden and we had our very first BBQ of the year this evening, in March – a  minor miracle!

As you may remember we had our very last BBQ of the year last October the 1st and it was so lovely this afternoon we thought we would seize the moment. The clocks have gone back as well so we had another hour of daylight so I pottered round the garden a bit more.

BBQ March

I have had to do some major work as well as the general post Winter tidy up as the very high winds in Jan meant we lost quite a lot of the trellis. I had taken half of it down some months ago meaning to replace those panels later but the rest has gone so I took it all down this weekend. Sadly I have lost quite a bit of the lovely clematis and ivy but the good news is that my camellias are blooming for the first time in 5 years!

I think it looks just as nice without the trellis – pity my neighbour’s cat Henry will have nowhere to climb and scare the birds now! I found a lot of pigeon feathers underneath the laurel bush so I think someone met a sticky end in his paws.

Garden March 1

Also took some pics of my lovely Virbunum plant which looks so pretty at this time of year.

Garden March 2

I have also been working on all the Chinese pics so that I can publish the page later on in the week, I took so many pics that I have spent a long time choosing which to use and resizing them.

I am set to have a nice relaxing week at work then I am teaching for a couple of days before we leave for our holiday in Italy! We are off to Lake Como the first week of April, lucky us.

Mum is arriving next weekend and Ellie arrives midweek – just in time for her 21st birthday! How did that happen, my little baby being 21? This is the first of the special birthdays this year as Jake is 18 in mid June, I am 50 at the end of June and Nana is 100 mid July.

I do hope you all have a lovely week ahead with lots of sunshine and nice things, take care and thanks as always for visiting.

October BBQ

Do you see the above picture my dear readers, that was taken in my garden yesterday Saturday October 1st and we were having a BBQ! In Yorkshire, in October!

It is an absolute miracle and I am stunned. We have had an enormous heatwave here in the UK – it has been so so warm so Jake and I decided to make the most of it and BBQ for tea. And afterwards I sat out watching the embers glow, drinking a little red wine with no coat on till 8pm. Oh if only Autumn could always be like this!

I hope you have also noticed the beautifully restored decking – isn’t it nice the way it matches the chairs so well. It had got very scruffy so I found a very nice gardener man to come and pressure wash, sand a re-stain it for me so it is all looking lovely.

 I have spent a few hours today tidying up (what would normally be the putting the garden to bed for the Winter tidy up but who nows it might be the start of the Spring growth season!) It is possible the world has flipped over and we are now having New Zealand’s climate which would be fab (can we flip back before we are officially supposed to have Spring please?)

Jake and I had a very lovely visit yesterday to Stafford for the University Open Day there. We were very impressed, it is a pretty town with a park and canal and a very lovely campus. The course and lecturers were also very good and there was a great welcome from everyone we met. He has to fill in his choices form soon and then fingers crossed he will be offered some places!

I have had a ridiculously busy week again, we had another Marsden Jazz Festival meeting (things are hotting up as the festival is next weekend!), went out for a meal with work friends which was very nice and had the girls round for the evening. And there was work which was very busy but very nice – I am having a lovely time with my new group.

All this of course means very little craft time so apologies for only WIP pictures again. I have finished one of the Little Cotton Rabbits wristwarmers and cast on for the other one last night and am nearly finished with my latest Xmas ornie. I was stitching this on our train journey to and from Stafford which was a very pleasant way to spend a few hours.

This is a pattern from the Christmas 2011 issue of Cross Stitcher magazine, I have stopped buying cross stitch mags generally as I have a few (ahem!) patterns still to do but was very taken by the prospect of more ornies and they had some lovely Scandinavian style ones (and a free ornie kit which I have sent to Ellie).

Cross stitcher Xmas ornie

I am stitching this on very fine count sparkly evenweave (think it is about 28 count) with only one strand of Silk Mill thread and all the backstitching and contrast rows are being done in a dark red sewing cotton it is that small-scale! I am very pleased with it, will change the bottom of the design I think and put another heart in and then make it up as a hanging ornie for the tree.

The images below from the Cross Stitcher web site show the original design made up as a picture and also some very cute little bird ornies which I will also make for my tree.

Xmas ornies cross stitcher

Xmas ornies cross stitcher 2

Well I hope that you all have a lovely week ahead – I am spending the whole of next weekend in Marsden for the Jazz Festival (yippee!!) where I will be running the box office. Hopefully we shall have some lovely weather so if you are in the area do come along, lots of wonderful music and a great time guaranteed!

Thanks very much for visiting.

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I have noticed this Smilebox slide tool on a few blogs recently so have been having a little play this evening with some of my flower pics – enjoy!

Well my planned trip to York did not go ahead as I have been struck down by a very nasty ear infection so have spent the last 3 days in the house trying to get better before my sister, her two kids and small dog arrive to stay tomorrow! I shall have to visit the doc for antibiotics I think as it is not getting much better :-(

I have finished the hemming on the farm quilt and made a little bag for the animals so I have been being productive while laid up. Here are the pockets on the front of the quilt with two of the little animals in that will go into the bag. My idea is that my cousin’s daughter who the present is for will be able to match the animals with the pockets. She is two this week and we will be seeing her at the weekend in Spain.

farm quilt pockets

This is the back of the quilt and a close up of the fabric which has lots of farm words on which she can practise!

farm quilt back

farm quilt backing fabric

The bag was made from fabric scraps and will have a drawstring cord.

Farm quilt bag

I did go out to my brother’s house last night as he and his partner Amanda had invited us round for a meal and they very kindly cooked us delicious food and looked after me so I just had to sit in my chair drinking home-made Cassis and wine (I have also put my back out again somehow!)

They have  a very lovely garden which they are in the process of remodelling (with outdoor BBQ and pizza oven) and Amanda loves garden ornaments as much as I do so here are some shots of her garden – the cat is a present that I bought her a couple of Christmases ago and it holds tea lights.

Ben's garden 1

Ben's garden 2

Ben's garden 3

You can just see Ben sitting in the background of that last pic. They also have an allotment and grow wonderful veg – look at the size of these courgettes! The one on the right is about 14″ long. Amanda very kindly gave me some more of her homemade chutney and jelly to bring home with me as well.

Ben's courgettes

I don’t know if I will be able to do much this coming week as feel pretty awful at the moment, I have been spending most of the weekend sewing up Xmas hearts, have just sent off an exchange to Germany and am halfway through another stitched gift for a friend’s new baby so do have a lot to occupy myself if needed.

I will not be posting now for a couple of weeks as we are off to Spain for a week on Friday. Take care and I will be in touch when I get back.

Thanks for visiting.

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