Thursday, 26 June 2008

Felting, Moos and Stitches

Quite a photo-heavy post today, I'm afraid. But not very many words, I have too much stitching to do!

I went to a felting class on Tuesday. It was brilliant fun, but was only an one-off class. I hope there will be more classes, but in the meantime I might have to try to teach myself. Because it was the best fun ever.

I made this...

Which would have been a bag, but we were running out of time, so it's just a spiral-y swatch. And I made this...

Which would be a bangle if it wasn't so big (I put the biro in the picture to show its scale). Apparently, if I continue to felt it it should shrink some more. I might do that over the weekend. And if I don't, or if it refuses to shrink further, then it was obviously always inteded to be this size, was never supposed to be a bangle - any fool could see that it's a bag handle.

When I renewed my Flickr Pro account, I was offered 10 free moo cards. They've arrived. I think they're fantastic. I want more moo cards. I'm just not sure what I'd do with them. Calling cards? I don't visit enough people to need any. Business cards? I don't have a business. As toppers on greetings cards? Perhaps, but I don't make a huge amount of them.

I might just have to have a box-full just because I like them.

And I've picked up the Kewpie cross stitch again. I've done loads over the past couple of evenings, but it probably wouldn't look like a huge amount - so I present to you some detail shots instead of the usual progress pics. Just for a change.

(A strawberry in the shade)

(An eye).

Monday, 23 June 2008

Bumble bees

I have a nest of bumble bees in my composter.

I think they might be the Buff-Tailed bumblebee, or Bombus Terrestris, happily they're fairly common, and are not among the endangered species of bumblebee. There seem to be a lot of them. They were coming and going every few seconds as I was stood there.
I like having bees living in the garden. It's reminded me of my ambition to keep a hive or two, and to have my own fresh honey for breakfast and my own home-brewed mead at suppertime. I would also like a goat, some chickens, and an orchard. And ducks.
I had intended to take better pictures than these for the blog, but I got nervous with the loud, buzzing, furry things which were barrelling past my ear. I know they're docile and are seriously unlikely to sting, but when you're right up close to the nest entrance, and the bees are getting nervous and beginning to show signs of dive-bombing, you don't tend to stick around too long for the perfect macro shot.
(These were taken from the other side of the shed, using zoom.)

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Alan Titchmarsh would be proud

I've been gardening. For reasons that I'm not yet ready to share (for fear of counting my chickens...), I have been taking cuttings and lifting my most treasured plants from the garden.

The first to be lifted was my beloved bay tree (back-right in the photo, with the droopy leaves). I know that it's the wrong time to lift it, and that it will sulk terribly and perhaps even die because of its uprooting, but it's a risk I've had to take. I've had this tree for 6 years, since it was only 8 inches tall, but I have to admit to have neglected it in its current location.

Assuming it survives and flourishes, I will start to take proper care of it, pruning it and keeping it in shape. It's a huge assumption though - only an hour after it was lifted all the leaves and new growth had drooped and wilted. I hope it will be ok.

Second to be lifted was my gooseberry tree (back-left in the photo). I've had this since I lived in Bournemouth, but is only about a foot and a half tall, because I once dropped a garage on it. It's a resilient little bugger though. I was delighted to find a crop of big, fat berries on it today, some of which I will be having for my pudding tonight.

Centre-front is a blackcurrant bush which I planted about 5 years ago, but which had been completely overwhelmed by the garden hedge to such an extent that I had to cut 3/4 of it away due to straggly legginess. I'm hoping it's relocation and severe pruning will help it recover and be much bushier, healthier and fruitful (assuming, of course, that I haven't killed it by lifting it!)

Front-left is a rose bush. Seriously, it is! I was going to take some cuttings because it has the loveliest fraganced white flowers, but this has also been very badly neglected. Due to a combination of a lack of pruning, a lack of dead-heading, greenfly infestation and caterpillars (there were over a dozen on it!) I only managed to pull 3 cuttings (of dubious health), and was left with little more than a leggy stump. So I cut that right back, lifted it, and potted it. With feed and water, I hope it will be ok.

I don't want to give the impression that everything in my garden is neglected and in decline. Those plants which need no attention from me do fantastically well! :o)

My honeysuckle, for example, is blooming and smells absolutely beautiful of an evening. I took 4 cuttings of this while I was at it, so we'll see how they take, too.

If these plants (my most precious, beloved plants) survive my clumsiness, I promise to look after them from here on in. I will even read some of the gardening books I have in my bookshelves so I can take care of them properly!

Wednesday, 18 June 2008


Phew! I am pooped!

I've spent the past 3 days on an extremely intensive course for work - which was both mentally exhausting and extremely useful. I'm glad I had the opportunity to do this course, but I'm happier still that it's now over (and even hapier again that there are only 2 days until the weekend!)
So I am now pooped. Properly, thoroughly and undoubtedly pooped. I'm talking about 'drooping-asleep-over-my-cup-of-tea' - tired.

But I'm not too tired to do a little bit of knitting, though. Here is my green bag - I haven't managed to do very much this week, but happily it's thick yarn on thick needles, so the little time I've had to spend on his has resulted in a fairly satisfying growth. I hope to be able to finish and felt it over the weekend, and to amend the pattern accordingly and pop it back up here.

Last night was the last pottery class until September. I spent my last lesson glazing the pots I showed you a few weeks ago, and I hope I will be able to collect them after they've been in the kiln - probably in a week or two. The other bits and pieces I've made are either waiting to be fired or waiting to be glazed, so I have no photos of them to show you yet, either. But when I go back in September, I should be able to glaze and fire them very quickly.
I'm going to spend the summer planning pottery projects, so I can go into my classes with a purpose, rather than just staring at a lump of clay waiting for inspiration. (I've found that inspiration can be elusive when you only have 2 hours to find it!).
So, no pottery next Tuesday. (Booo!). However - there will be a felting course next week at the same centre (Yaaay!) which I have booked onto, along with some of the ladies from pottery. I am looking forward to that bery much, and will try to remember to take my camera.
It will be fantastic.
Anyone on yet? It's brilliant!

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Two weekends ago....

I wrote a long, intricate and really interesting blog entry on the weekend, telling you all everything that I had done the weekend before, but something went wrong with Blogger and it disappeared without a trace.

I'm afraid I threw some of my toys into a corner and had a mini-sulk from Blogger. But I'm over it now, and I will try to quickly recap on the blog entry that was lost.

We went to a car-boot sale the weekend before last. We went to buy some specific pieces, but instead bought hair clippers for the cat, a huge bag of buttons for 50p (look at all the buttons!)...

... and a "Super Badge-It" machine for £2. I love the badge machine - it's brilliant! I did waste some of the fittings and stuff on my first attempts by putting the backs in upsisde down, putting them in the wrong bits, and putting the back and front in the same hole (I'm not always very bright), but after about half an hour, I made these...

And I think they're lovely! The fairies are from some Paperchase wrapping paper I bought about ten years ago, and the gingham is a scrap of fabric and a snippet of ribbon. I want to make more and more, but I've put it away for the moment, so I can think about what I want to make - the badge pieces are non-industry standard, so are too expensive to waste!

I've started knitting another bag. I'm using the green Rowan Spray I bought at the same time as the red Rpwan Spray (I showed them a few posts ago), and I'm using it as an opportunity to test and proof-read the knitting pattern up there in the corner. I've already found a couple of errors, so I will be updating that when I'm finished. I'm also making a couple of alterations to the bag's design. I've been able to take the red bag out a coupl eof times, and have come to the conclusion that the bag size and the strap length are perfect, although the flap needs to be longer, and it needs two chunky buttons to keep the flap down.

I'm now on - take a look, it's awesome! And befriend me if you find me, I'm on there are as friendlyflamingo (naturally!)

Monday, 2 June 2008

Free knitting pattern

I've written the pattern and I've put it up. (Look over there on the right....)

Yay me!

I must admit that I haven't tested or proof read the pattern yet, though... If anybody knits this and notices any mistakes, or needs anything clarifying or explained - please let me know and I'll try to make it better.

And just for lovely Ruth, because you asked so nicely, and because I like you so very much, (frantic, cheerful waving), here is a close up of the bag to show some of the felting.
It hasn't felted absolutely and completely - maybe because of the amount of acrylic in the yarn, or maybe because I didn't felt it for long enough. Having said that, I like that you can still see the knit stitches, and it's a nicely dense and robust fabric now, that should be able to cope with carrying all my stuff without having pencils or car keys poking through and jabbing me in the leg.

One to cross off the list

I finished the bag! It was #1 on my "list of things to do", and it's all finished, sewn up and felted. Yay me!

The decision to felt the bag was all abit of an experiment. I couldn't really be bothered lining it, and I though if I felted it, it would be dense enough that I might be able to get away without having to line it. I diodn't know whether the yarn would felt, either, due to a high-ish acrylic content (Rowan Spray, 60% wool, 40% acrylic), and while it hasn't made a super-dense felted fabric, and it lost a lot of colour in the process, it's ok and I'm pleased with it.

I will write out the pattern when I have a moment, and post it here in case anybody's interested. I will try to do this by next weekend.

We spent the last couple of weekends at the Hay book festival, which was fantastic. The highlights for me were seeing Don McCullen discussing his photography career, Terry Jones lecturing on Richard II (the man's a legend!), Jo Brand, and the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, who were fabulous. I'm looking forward to next year's line-up now... Next time I'm going to book even earlier, because there were a couple of events that I would have liked to have seen but was too slow to get tickets.