Category Archives: Inspiration

Kaffe Fassett exhibition at the American Museum in Bath

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Go see it if you can – it’s awesome!
The exhibition will be running at the American Museum in Bath UK until November.

Take your family and friends and follow the Easter Yarn Bomb Trail in April!
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Meeting Erika Knight

I’m a big fan of Erika Knight and her beautiful range of yarn so I was extremely excited to hear that Erika would be visiting Beshley’s Wool Shop, one of my local yarn stores in Bristol today, to give a talk and sign books.

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Beshley’s Wool Shop, stocking a gorgeous selection of yarns all sourced from within the British Isles, opened this year and you might remember me writing about it here.

Erika’s enthusiasm really shone through as she chatted to us about her career and her passion for design, knitting, crochet and home grown British wool, whilst we sipped tea and munched on cake kindly provided by Beshley.

We talked about how knitting is timeless – it can be very low tech, requiring only a ball of yarn and some needles, and yet coupled with todays new technology – the internet, Ravelry etc, it can take over the world!  One of Erika’s favourite quotes is that ” knitting is the saving of life” (Virginia Wolf, writer & knitter 1882-1941) – knitting is something that can be turned to at any stage of life, for all sorts of different reasons, and her message was ” its never too late to start”!

Erika has also worked with Rowan Yarns and we learnt how together with Marie Wallin, Rowan’s Head Designer, the Rowan British Sheep Breeds range was developed, to help support British hill farmers.

Erika later developed her own range of yarn, which is 100% British made and manufactured.  The collection includes Fur Wool, Maxi Wool, Vintage Wool and British Blue Wool with a colour range that is simply stunning:

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All of the colours in her range are designed to go together and coordinate and Erika has developed a selection of knitting and crochet patterns focusing on fashion accessories, that are simple and quick to knit.  I particularly love her Knit it Tonight Posters with each poster including patterns that can be knitted up quickly in one evening.

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Erika also kindly showed us how to do Swiss Darning, a form of embroidery which can be used to quickly add interest to knitted pieces.  This is such a great technique and I’ll definitely be trying it out myself.

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Erika and Beshley at the end of a fabulous afternoon:

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I left feeling VERY inspired  – I’ve had a fantastic afternoon – thank you Erika & Beshley.  I’m off to knit!

Links:

Erika Knight

Beshley’s Wool Shop

Rowan Yarns British Sheep Breeds Range

Have a fun weekend!

Claire x

Walled Gardens and Lavender Fields

Last week, we decided to grab a much needed day out before the end of the school term, just the two of us.  Its amazing what you can find on your doorstep for free without really travelling very far…
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First we stopped off at the Walled Garden in the village of Mells.  I LOVE cottage gardens and would so love to have a garden like this.  Sadly, my garden seems to be a little overgrown with a few too many weeds at the moment!

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We stayed for lunch – wood fired pizza from the Walled Garden Pizza Oven.  Soooo delicious! (Make mental note to research building a wood fired pizza oven at home!)

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On the way home we called in at the local Somerset Lavender Fields.  We’ve driven past the sign for the Lavender Fields many times on route to other destinations and I had no idea what gorgeousness lay hidden a short distance away from the main road.  With the heatwave that the UK is experiencing at the moment, it felt like we were in Provence! The views and the scent of the lavender was amazing:

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There were even some lavender coloured sweet-peas!

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Just enough time to enjoy the Lavender before a quick dash off on the school run.  A fab day out!

Do you love cottage gardens and lavender too?  Do you have a favourite flower?

Happy Holidays!

xx

Granny Bunting Fun and Crochet for Children

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If you’ve been following the wonderful Attic24 blog, you’ll have heard all about the Yarndale Festival, a festival of creativity and craft, being organised in Skipton, Yorkshire this September. Inspired by Lucy of Attic24’s request for granny bunting for the event, and looking for something fun to do during school half term, we dived into our basket of Stylecraft DK stash to crochet some granny bunting triangles – how could we not oblige!?

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My 10 year old daughter who is quite a crochet whizz these days (I had better watch out!) quickly whipped up a triangle or two whilst I was searching for Lucy’s bunting pattern on her blog. Proud mummy moment:

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Making the granny bunting is really quite addictive and we’ll be sending some off for Yarndale (the deadline for sending in bunting is the end of July if you would like to make some too) and also using the pattern to make some granny bunting for our camper van and maybe the chicken house – my girls think it might brighten up their day! (watch this space…)  Thank you Lucy for a super pattern and tutorial!

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Here’s a snap of some of my granny bunting using my little stash of Rowan Handknit Cotton:

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It’s great to have a child who shares my passion for yarny things. We taught ourselves to crochet using You Tube and books like Nicki Trench’s Cute and Easy Crochet.  A great little book for teaching children to crochet is ‘Kids Learn to Crochet’ by Lucinda Guy.   It features simple language and sweet animal illustrated characters with step-by-step instructions to help children to master crocheting chains and basic crochet stitches with projects such as a striped toy cat, a small bear, a sweet bag and some flowers.

In the early days, we went along to and were very inspired by a Scumbled Crochet workshop run by the talented Tamsyn G where my daughter made this gorgeous freeform crochet heart with ribbon and beads which we have in a little wooden frame:

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If you haven’t tried scumbled crochet yet, do check it out, its really fun and the results are quite beautiful.  You can see some of Tamsyn’s projects in the gallery on her blog here.

Here’s a snap of my daughter’s latest scumbled crochet project.  Its fun, portable and you can add to it whenever you fancy a spot of crochet:

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Another great crochet book for kids that I’ve discovered is ‘Crochet for Children’ by Claire Montgomerie:

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It contains lots of delightful projects (adults might be tempted here too!):

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There are sections on techniques, including tools, how to hold the hook and the yarn, and instructions on basic stitches. The projects are set out in themes that include ‘warm and cosy’, accessories, bedroom essentials, playtime and amigurimi toys.

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The author has also written a knitting version ‘Knitting for Children’ which is equally gorgeous and contains ’35 simple knits that kids will love to make’. We have a copy of this too!

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Of course, the younger members of the family shouldn’t miss out – I bought this second hand book recently for my three year old:

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I love the start of the book:

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The illustrations are so lovely, don’t you think?

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The littlest member of our family likes to call our crocheted Granny Squares ‘Grandma’ and ‘Grandpa’ Squares: so cute!

P.S: I haven’t been asked by the authors to review these books – I just happen to like them 🙂

Claire x

Wooly Weekend Wanderings

We’ve been on a couple of fun wooly weekend family outings recently that I thought I would share.  If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram you might have seen some of these photos already 🙂

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In April we went to the free Secret Garden exhibition organised by the Milestone Trust at the Paintworks in Bristol which was designed to “bring the outdoors imaginatively indoors, and explore the way in which people interpret and play with green spaces”.

Entering through the enchanted forest of hanging trees, we followed the needle-felt sculpture trail,  through the graffiti tunnel to the beautiful secret garden with its knitted and crocheted plants.

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Look at these sweet sunflowers and pom-pom tree:

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A treehouse city:

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Knitted vegetables and a knitted fruit tree:

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As we left the Paintworks, I admired these Airstream Caravans and the cool urban landscape:

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Stopping for a picnic lunch, we popped across the road to Arnos Vale Cemetry to discover it’s famous yarn bomb trail.  Arnos Vale Cemetry is steeped in Bristolian history – it was established by the Victorians in 1837 providing 45 acres of heritage and a rare wildife haven in the city.  My great great grandparents are buried there.  The cemetery is open every day all year round with “visitors being free to wander the site’s extensive network of paths, watch seasonal change and nature, discover the fascinating stories told on gravestones, pay respect to lost loved ones or heroes, follow a themed trail or sit and contemplate in a tranquil setting. Visitors can also take advantage of an ever-expanding range of exhibitions, self-guided trails, guided walks and events”.

As we set off, the start of the trail looked really quite promising….

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Squeals of delight could be heard as my girls discovered the various wooly delights on display on a pretty primrose lined path that led down to the Atrium Cafe…..

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Before our journey home, someone I know who really likes to crochet might just have left a little something behind…. I wonder if its still there!?

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Our other wooly adventures in April took us to beautiful Wales and an annual visit to Wonderwool Wales.  Another great family day out.  I didn’t take quite as many photos as I did last year.  Here are a few favourite snaps from our day:

Shetland Sheep:

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Inspiring crochet:

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Obligatory welsh icecream from Llanfaes Dairy in Brecon (Blackcurrant flavour incase you are wondering!?):

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Giant knitting needles and kits available from Abergwenllan :

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A fantastic crocheted ripple blanket incorporating wool from 44 British Sheep Breeds from Eden Cottage Yarns (there are more details and photos on the ECY blog if you are interested):

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An adorable ‘knit your own fox’ from BomBella Knit Kits:

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And lovely vintage knitting accessories:

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There was also an amazing knitted garden on display:

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We drove home through some spectacular scenery in Mid Wales:

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And headed home over the Severn Bridge:

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April was certainly a yarn-filled month.

Have a great weekend; I’ll leave you with a photo of some cheery Spring daffodils!

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A Hat for the Spring : Adventures in Softknit Cotton

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Remember this ball of beautiful indigo blue softknit cotton from my Rowan Beach Shoot ?  This week I couldn’t resist it any longer – I had to try out this new yarn.  I’d seen and admired Mel’s Downton Abbey inspired Nola Cloche by Hillary Smith Callis over at Coal Valley View and being a big fan of the TV series myself, I thought that it was the perfect pattern for my new softknit cotton.

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The softknit cotton, I have to say is delicious : it’s a joy to knit with and the colour range is superb.  Who wouldn’t want to knit with shades reminiscent of beautiful seascapes like indigo blue, pacific, marine and seaweed?  Or how about sand, burnt orange and sunset red? Other shades conjure up images of beautiful summer flowers such as tea rose and lupin.   Softknit cotton is an aran / worsted weight yarn with a touch of polyamide for durability. It has a beautiful softness and drape showing texture and cable detail really well.  It’s machine washable (always a bonus!) so its perfect for knitting spring and summer garments.

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The Nola Cloche itself is very easy to make.  Simply knit the brim with a lovely cable twist for detail, then pick up some stitches from around the edge of the brim to knit the crown of the hat, decreasing as you go.  I was intending that the hat would be for me but as I had to take photos, I think my model had other ideas!  She’s always been a hat girl!

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Its a little big as its an adult size but I have promised to knit her one in a colour of her choosing 🙂

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Rowan’s pattern support for this yarn is fantastic : check out Martin Storey’s Softknit Collection featuring a contemporary mix of fashionable and simple textured knits and aran and cable patterns on my Rowan Favourites Pinterest Board.  The softknit cotton is also interchangeable with Rowan’s Handknit cotton so you could also check out Martin Storey’s ‘Simple Shapes Handknit Cotton’ for patterns too .

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Spring was definitely in the air today : wood anenomes were popping up all over the place.  I can’t wait for bluebell season.  We’re lucky to have this lovely bit of ancient woodland on our doorstep which is owned by the Woodland Trust.

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Then we popped home to bake a loaf of bread for tea.

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Do let me know if you try the Softknit Cotton or knit up the Nola Cloche: I would love to hear from you 🙂

Bye for now,

Claire X

Wool House

Would you like to join me on a visit to the Wool House exhibition at Somerset House in London?

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Lots of pictures (!) : I wanted to try and capture the true flavour of the exhibition for you : enjoy 🙂

As you may already know, the Campaign for Wool launched the Wool House exhibition as the world’s biggest ever celebration of Wool, exploring interiors, crafts, fashion and all aspects of this wonderful natural fibre.  Wool House offered a window on the way in which wool can inhabit a space, with leading interior designers demonstrating use of wool fibre within their work across individual rooms.  You can find out more about the exhibition and the Campaign on the Campaign for Wool website.

Come and take a peak inside…

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A dramatic black and white themed entrance hall greeted us including a life sized crochet bear created by Shauna Richardson.  Aren’t Shauna’s crochetdermy skills amazing!?

Look at this beautiful Hummingbird Wallhanging designed by Alexander McQueen:

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The corridor linking each themed room contained this stunning 100 foot wool runner designed by Cristian Zuzunaga:

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This Modern Room was created by Anne Kyyro-Quinn:

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In contrast, the Natural Room was created by Josephine Ryan:

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Every home needs a wool corner like this one, a cosy nook with a feature chair, maybe a table for books and some favourite things to make it a bit special…

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Look at those gorgeous vintage welsh wool blankets…..

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I completely fell in love with the Nursery designed by Donna Wilson:

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Look at these amazing Wall Hangings by Claudy Jongstra:

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Welcome to the Craft Room : a place to meet and enjoy workshops being run by Rowan Yarns, the Sublime design studio and Debbie Bliss, and watch spinning demonstrations.

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When we arrived, great fun was to be had with both young and old enjoying the chance to learn to knit and crochet.  We were thrilled to be able to have a go at hand spinning yarn on a drop spindle:

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We admired the many beautiful yarns on display and mood boards created by the designers:

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This stunning granny squares throw made from Rowan Purelife Renew, designed by Marie Wallin and featured in Rowan’s Purelife Home brochure inspired my daughter to start a little crochet project on the train home (more about this later..)

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You can read more about the Rowan Purelife British sheep breeds yarn range and accompanying brochures here.

I instantly recognised examples of Anna Wilkinson’s work; have you read her book Learn to Knit, Love to Knit?

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The weaving room:

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We just managed to fit in a brief visit to Liberty of London before our train journey home….

Haberdashery delights – Liberty Tana Lawn:

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And swooning over Rowan Yarns of course! :

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Finally, a walk through snowy London and some knitting (for me) and crochet time (for Miss E) on the train journey home:

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Check out the fabulous Edmund the Easter Bunny pattern available for free on the Rowan website: a very portable little one ball knitting project just right for train journeys as were the Granny Squares crocheted by Miss E in Rowan Pure Wool DK.

Are you feeling inspired to bring wool into your life and home?

 As an ambassador for Rowan Yarns I’m looking forward to sharing my passion for yarn, knitting and crochet with you. I’d love to hear from you via my blog or my Knitandpurlgarden Facebook page  – I hope to hear from you soon!

Claire

Easter Preparations…

This weekend I have been eating mini-eggs preparing for Easter….

I’ve been working on a little crochet basket/bowl inspired by designs in this lovely book, using some pretty Rowan pink handknit cotton from my yarn stash.  The pattern starts off with a few rounds of simple trebles (UK) to form the base of the basket, followed by some rounds of bobble or popcorn stitch to form the sides and double crochet (UK) to finish off.

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Today I made a floral lining out of a scrap of Liberty Tana Lawn “Betsy” that I purchased from EBay.

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To be filled with eggs from our chooks:

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Thank you ladies:

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Or Easter delights:

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I think after Easter, my little crochet bowl might find a nice home in the bathroom or bedroom as a tidy for bits and bobs:

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This weekend, we’ve also been enjoying the pre-school puppet show and getting Easter tattoos:

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And I’ve been trying on my new sandals:

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With fingers crossed for some sunshine instead of the wintery showers and hail that the UK has been experiencing this afternoon!

Have you got any Easter projects on the go at the mo?

I’m possibly off to knit some bunnies from Made by Ewe here and Rowan’s Easter Collection here &/or these cute little chickens ‘Esther, Ernie & Enid’ from Rowan (pattern here).

And knit some more of my big project

Happy Easter crafting!

xx

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Very Inspiring Blogger Award Nomination!

It was with great excitement and great surprise that I opened my emails yesterday to discover that I had been nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award by Luisa from http://tetsukuri.wordpress.com : thank you Lovely Lady!  Do check out Luisa’s fab blog from Tokyo, which is all about spare time and fun projects 🙂  You can also check out Luisa’s website: www.luisauribedesign.com if you are curious about what she does for a living 🙂

Being relatively new to blogging, I did a bit of google research on Blog Awards and I quickly discovered that they are a great way to share and spread a bit of friendship and support in blogland and they can provide a great opportunity to meet fellow bloggers from all over the world and see what inspiration other people are sharing!

The rules for accepting this Award are as follows:

  1. Display the award logo on your blog page.
  2. Link back to the person who nominated you.
  3. State 7 facts about yourself.
  4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award.
  5. Notify those bloggers of their nomination and the award’s requirements.

Here are my 7 random facts about myself:

  1. I love animals, particularly my two Border Collies and I have always had a secret desire since I was little to learn how to do sheep dog trialing.  In fact, just having a very well trained dog would suffice (still aiming for that one! 😉 We also have some rare breed hens and a cockerel who has just learnt how to crow!
  2. I have two children, both girls, who are 3 and 10 and totally fab!
  3. I passed my Grade 8 piano exam when I was a teenager but I’m a bit out of practice these days although I still like to play when I get the chance (particularly carols at christmas!)
  4. I love being up high anywhere with a view, in the hills or mountains (but am actually a teeny tiny bit scared of heights!)
  5. I own a VW Camper Van, which is meant to be one of the last 3 air cooled vans ever made in Brazil (probably untrue but that was what we were told when we bought it from Ebay and we believed it at the time!)
  6. I would love to build my own house one day on my own plot of land in the countryside with a view *dreaming here I think* (and probably rescue lots of unwanted Border Collies).
  7. I have a degree in Geography from here but *really* would quite liked to have studied art or textiles and had a more creative career in another life!!  😉 I still have a great love for places and landscapes which influences my love of photography today.

The final step is to nominate other bloggers for the VIB award.  As you know, I’m very new to blogging here at WordPress and I don’t know a lot of Bloggers yet, although I’ve been following quite a few blogs for quite a while and everyone has been so friendly and welcoming to me 🙂  There are several blogs here that have probably already received this award : apologies if you have and I’ve included you on my list!  I’ve just decided to list a few that have inspired me on my path to Blogland and some other lovely blogs and bloggers that I’ve discovered more recently along the way.  In alphabetical order:

Congratulations to you all and thanks again to Luisa at http://tetsukuri.wordpress.com for nominating me and introducing me to the fun of Blog Awards xx  🙂

Have a lovely week xx

Its a Spring Thing (and a doily addiction…)

Spring seems to have sprung all over blogland today and I’ve certainly been inspired by all of the lovely photos and bright Spring colours popping up on the internet.  I’ve had a small stash of candy coloured cotton 4-ply yarn that has been calling out to me for a while now and having seen lots of doilies and similar pretty lacy crochet patterns on the internet I had to give it a go…

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I started off with some Rowan Siena 4ply in light pink and the Victoria Doily pattern in Jane Crowfoot’s book Homespun Vintage.  Jane describes in her book how, following the popularity of crochet during the Victorian era, the 1950s to 1970s saw its revival again (it went into something of a decline during the two world wars possibly as a result of rationing and the difficulty in sourcing yarns), with lacy patterns and doily work suddenly becoming very popular.

Here’s my finished doily (ravelled here); it seemed to look right at home alongside my vintage sheet patchwork blanket…

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Jane talks about the delicacy of crochet work in a doily replicating the look of lace making the perfect table decoration.  Any excuse to get baking and get the vintage china out…

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A close up of the excellent Lemon Drizzle Cake (made by Miss E, not me I confess): yummy!:

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I’d also wanted to make these pretty little coasters for quite some time (see the free pattern over on the Yvestown Blog):

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Ooops: they seemed to multiply quickly and before I knew it I had a whole stack (Ravelled here):

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I think these coasters would also make rather a nice Mothers Day card, with the addition of a sweet little bit of fabric backing:

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On the lacy crochet theme, I thought you might like to see these lovely little containers from Ikea.  They’re meant for plants but I bought them for a couple of pounds each and they’re just the job for keeping knitting needles and crochet hooks in:

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Loving the Ikea lilac too; I wish we had a lilac tree in our garden:

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I spotted some real Spring flowers in the garden today too:

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Happy Springtime! x