Happy Halloween (post includes more cake and knitted items!)

I am posting this primarily for my Mum in Spain to show her some pics of lovely granddaughter Ellie celebrating Halloween with her friends at Uni. Thanks to the miracles of Facebook I can see lots of pics of her (these were posted by her friend Danni) and as Mum does not use Facebook I thought I would share them here.

Halloween 1
Ellie looking fab as always with a scary looking friend
Halloween 2
Ellie with Beccy and Sarah all dressed up
Halloween 3
All the girls in Chandler Hall ready to go out and scare the locals!

Ellie will be home this afternoon for a week of Mum’s cooking and being looked after! There is nothing like moving out of home to really make you appreciate it!

We are not really celebrating Halloween here – Jake thinks he is a bit too old for a party and since he is over 6 foot tall now Trick or Treating with the little kids is out but we will be lighting the pumpkin lantern and I have a load of lovely Halloween sweets for any kids who call on us.

We did very well with the fund raising for Breast Cancer Awareness this week at work – all my little pink fairy cakes sold and we had lots of raffle prizes. I won two of them which was very nice – wine and chocs which are waiting for me on my desk at work. Thanks to Tracy and the people in the office for organising this – so far £370 pounds has been raised.

My baking this week - pink fairy buns

Am off to continue some more Xmas knitting now – am getting a bit more adventurous and am making an item  that uses waffle stitch which seems to be working ok. I am starting a Beginners’ Knitting class at the wool shop in a couple of weeks which will be very good as I have never learnt properly and can only do a limited range of things. I have some lovely books but sometimes you need to be shown how to do things rather than see static diagrams. I would love to be able to tackle shaped garments , lace work and more complex patterns such as this lovely scarf.

April Showers Scarf by Whitney van Nes

This scarf is a free pattern from the fabulous Ravelry web site. There are loads of lovely knitting and crochet patterns there as well as people’s pics of the things they have knitted. I have been spending a lot of time browsing and if you register with the site you can save all your favourite patterns and post pics of your own projects.

 So off to the sofa with my kneedles and more episodes of Little House on the Prairie – which of course is very good for spotting knitting, quilting and dressmaking!


Woolly Minded and Beady Eyed

No that is not a description of how I feel (though have had the usual early winter cold/flu bug so have been a bit fuzzy!) but the name of the lovely new shop that has recently opened down the road from me where I have been going for Knit and Natter sessions.

I have always wanted to have a LYS (Local Yarn Shop) like all those fab US blogs do. We do have a stall in the local market that sells wool but Ellie and I were most excited when one of our local vacant shops became a wool and bead shop with added tea shop. Ellie has not had the chance to visit yet as had not opened before she left but she is home for a week next week so I will take her along.

Wool shop
Helen the shop's owner

Helen is a very lovely lady – very friendly and welcoming and she is running Knit and Natter sessions on Weds and Fridays from 1 – 3 pm. There is also a Yarn group that meet to knit one evening a month (second Thursday) 5-7pm – next meeting is 12th Nov.

As well as lots of lovely wool there are beads, patterns, gifts , bags, cards and knitting accessories.

Wool shop 2
The pattern browsing area
Wool shop 3
Very lovely Maggie's wool from Ireland
Wool shop 4
Look at all that lovely stuff!

The tea shop does lovely food – soup, sandwiches, paninis, baked potatoes, lots of fab cakes and very nice lattes served by Lydia, one of the friends I have made at Creative Textiles class!

Wool shop 5
The tea shop with Lydia behind the counter

So if you are in the area the shop is on Westbourne Road, Huddersfield  (park round the back of the Croppers Inn pub). If you visit tell Helen you have been reading my blog!

Travelling transcontinetal textiles!

I thought I would use a bit of alliteration for the title of this post as I am very relieved to tell you that the ASOE Exchange piece I sent to Wendy Jo  in Iowa has arrived! I posted it nearly 3 weeks ago and was getting a bit worried that it had gone walkabout as hers arrived in just over a week.

Wendy Jo said she liked the colour red and as it was an Autumn/Fall exchange theme I chose a design of blackberries done in blackwork stitches using a Silk Mill dark red thread.

My first pinkeep!

The design comes from on old edition of New Stitches magazine edition 53 and it is stitched on my favourite sparkly evenweave – am running out of stocks of this so that will be a definite for the shopping list at the Knitting and Stitching Show in Nov!

This is the first time that I have finished an ornament as a pinkeep – I found some very helpful instructions on how to do this on Heidi’s Stitching Together blog.

On the reverse of the piece I stitched Wendy Jo’s initial using a design from one of my Lesley Wilkins’  blackwork books and added a little thimble needlework charm as well. I have just ordered some more of these charms from Stitch Direct but they will also go on the shopping list!

Pinkeep 2
The back of the pinkeep

In knitting progress I have now completed one of a pair of something I have never tried before! It was a bit of  a struggle involving much unravelling but I am very proud of myself. Cannot reveal any more as it is a present (or will be when I finish the other one!) The first post after Xmas is going to be massive one showing you all of my recent creations!

I am going to be doing a big baking session this afternoon as I am making little pink iced buns to take to work tomorrow for our Think Pink Breast Cancer awareness  fund raising efforts this week. This is a very important issue for all women and I, like many of you I’m sure,  have had friends affected by this. So not only (hopefully) lovely cakes but am important cause as well!

Xmas baubles and general domesticity

It has been a very wet and windy weekend so I have spent most of it indoors creating ornaments and cooking. I did venture out yesterday as there was a vintage clothes and textiles fair on in town. Lots of lovely things – mainly 40s and 70s clothes but some lovely beadwork and embroidered bags.

I was looking for textiles I could use in my stitching and got a bargain with these two sets of old textile samples that I will use as backing on small ornaments/ pincushions etc.

Fabric samples
Fabric samples

I don’t think they are very old probably only 1970s or 80s but very pretty.

I have been bauble and pine cone making all week and so far have these towards my fundraising efforts.
Christmas is coming ......
Christmas is coming ......
The pine cones are not in the aforementioned book – they are from Sue Schofield  as before but I bought one of her kits to get the instructions for those. They are made from folded ribbon and lots and lots of pins ! I now have now have very sore thumbs as the one in the middle – the burgundy one – is made of very thick ribbon!
Have also been busy in the kitchen – have made pumpkin soup – as delicious as always! Have not done the lantern with Jake yet – he is very poorly at the moment with bad flu and cough poor lad.
My lunch - pumpkin soup served with olive ciabatta roll - how nice!
My lunch - pumpkin soup served with olive ciabatta roll - how nice!

My children will probably be rolling their eyes in despair at me posting pictures of food but I am also going to post my breakfast as well. Have discovered a fab new blog (was a link off someone else’s – forget who – that I found last night) and is one on the theme of breakfasts. There were some really lovely ideas so thought I would try one of them today – this is a multigrain bagel and pesto topped with a  fried egg with Lee and Perrins Tomato and Worcester sauce – lovely!

Sunday's leisurely breakfast
Sunday's leisurely breakfast

The blog is called Simply Breakfast  and belongs to Jennifer Causey. I plan to try out some more of her lovely ideas – she has a total of 457 posts so that should provide some variety to my mornings (don’t worry kids will not be posting pics of them all!).

Please do go and leave a comment on the 100th post (scroll down the page) – I will be doing the draw in a week. Thanks to everyone who has left comments already.

Home alone …. with a pumpkin!

I have had a very rare occurence these last two days as I have been here all by myself! Ellie is of course in Worcester and Jake has gone to London on a drama and media trip. He left very early yesterday morning and is due back very late tonight. He was going to see two shows, visit an art gallery, have a tour of the sights and go to Covent Garden – there was also Pizza Hut for tea which he was very pleased about!

So I have been on my own for the first time in a long time – I think the last time this happened was about three years ago when everyone else had been invited away for the weekend and I was ill so couldn’t go. The house has been very quiet and it has been strange not having to make any meals. This is good preparation for Jake leaving home in a few years – what will I do with all that extra time!

More textiles of course! I can now post pics of the item I have had from Wendy Jo  in the US as part of the autumn exchange. As soon as she has posted pics of the ornament I have sent her on the ASOE  blog I can post pics of that but in the meantime here is the lovely pumpkin cushion she sent me.

The cushion being modelled on a pumpkin!
The cushion being modelled on a pumpkin!

It is a really gorgeous pattern from JBW Designs – I have admired their very detailed work for a long time but never stitched any myself. The back of the piece is equally lovely.

Cute oak leaf and acorn backing fabric
Cute oak leaf and acorn backing fabric

Thank you very much Wendy Jo. It is  a very appropriate design as at this time of year I always buy a pumpkin for the kids to turn into a lantern and to make what has become a traditional recipe for this time of year – a soup that I really love. It is from Delia Smith’s Winter Collection  recipe book and is called ‘Pumpkin soup with melting cheese’ – recipe is at Delia’s site via this link.   It is heaven in a bowl and one of the things worth putting up with soggy Autumn days for.

I shall be making the soup this weekend once Jake has cut out his lantern. He doesn’t actually like the soup though – which just means more for me!

The Winter/Xmas exchange is up next for a new partner Marlene (no blog) . I have hundreds of Xmas designs to choose from but think I know which one to pick. That has to be finished and mailed by 5th Dec so I have a while to work on it.

I have made good progress with my knitting – the second Xmas piece is now finished and I am starting the third piece tonight. Will be posting soon about the lovely new knitting shop we have here that hosts Knit and Natter. In the meantime have banana bread (have added cinnamon to the recipe this time) which smells like it is ready to come out of the oven!

Bye for now.

Blogaversary and giveaway – my 100th post (contains textiles – what a surprise – and cake!)

Well here it is at last my 100th post complete with giveaway. Please do leave a comment if you visit and I will put all comments into a draw to be picked on Monday 2nd Nov. Please let me know in your comment if you would like a stitchy gift or a non-stitchy gift.

I started this blog about two years ago and in that time have met (virtually)some lovely people through blogging and my recent foray into exchanging through blogs. I find fantastic inspiration from reading all the blogs I visit and am constantly finding new ones (note to self – must add more to Blog Roll) to enjoy. So thank you to the wonderful blogging community for all the happy hours I have spent reading your work. Special thanks to the people who have added me to their blog rolls as I know I get lots of visitors that way.

The first post I ever put contained my Xmas ornaments so I thought it was fitting that I start off with a pic of one of this season’s batch.I have still got a huge stash of lovely stuff from when I first started making these to fund raise to go to Nepal so am making them again to raise money for the project.

Addicted to buying Xmas fabric - who me ?
Addicted to buying Xmas fabric - who me ?

This was my dining room table yesterday – I just love getting out all the fabric and beads, braids and cute charms and just going for it.

The first bauble of the 2009 season
The first bauble of the 2009 season

I particularly love the little brass charms which I pin to the sides of the baubles – I get mine from Stitch Direct  by mail order. If you are interested in details of where to buy the book that shows you how to make them then this web site is where to go. Springwood House Designs is run by the very talented Sue Schofield and the book ‘Decorations to Dazzle’ contains patterns for far more complex and wonderful designs than I can manage at present!

Am doing very well with Xmas crafting for presents but sadly cannot post pics here – unless I create a page marked ‘family do not look’ ! However have been doing a few other bits in between gifts.

I also made a card for a friend’s birthday. This is a pattern from an old copy of New Stitches magazine (which is available from Stitch Direct site above).

Blackwork flower card
Blackwork flower card

I have also been venturing into unknown territory with my Creative Textiles class and trying machine embroidery! I use the machine for costume making though was always a bit unsure what to do but was experimenting the other week with my transfer painted flower and is has turned out rather nicely.

The appliqued flower with machined detail
The appliqued flower with machined detail

I now plan to sew the organza petals over the top and hand stitch and bead onto them.

The organza petals pinned in place
The organza petals pinned in place

Also finished quilting the fish we did by transfer printing on the first week. I have been doing some wholecloth quilting for one of my WIP gifts and am really enjoying it.

Am also rediscovering my inner domestic goddess and baking. Partly inspired by watching Economy Gastronomy on BBC which reminded me how much I really love cooking.

I did an O and A level in it but many years of providing family meals (and trying to remember who wouldn’t eat which food!) kind of dampened my enthusiasm. However it was one of the things I was always determined to do again when I had a bit more time. So here are two of my recent bakes.

My very fisrt banana bread!
My very first banana bread!
Good old gingerbread - everyone eats this!
Good old gingerbread - everyone eats this!

Am off now to make more baubles – happy crafting everyone!

Nepal – one year on!

It was a year ago that I went to Nepal with Scouts to build a hostel for the school at Melamchigaun village. Full details of that can be found under the Project Nepal and My Time in Nepal links at the top of this page and there is a summary of the project on the CAN website  (including a pic of me – about halfway down taking a break from building – pink t – shirt and baseball hat!).  To celebrate the anniversary I just wanted to update you with some recent pics that we were sent from the headmaster.

Shortly after we left the building looked like this –

The hostel complete with green tin roof!
The hostel complete with green tin roof!

In the last year the villagers have completed the build and it is now fully occupied. There are 4 bedrooms for the children as well as a room for the matron.

The boys in their hostel room
The boys in their hostel room

 Although I spent most of the build sorting stones into piles and then moving those piles to the stonemasons and back to the builders (fab workout for the stomach muscles!) I did get to do some actual building – Andrew my stone team partner and I built a toilet and shower room.

The shower and toilet - behind these tiles lay my carefully laid stones and mud mortar!
The shower and toilet - behind these tiles lay my carefully laid stones and mud mortar!
The water butt and solar panels for heating the shower water
The water butt and solar panels for heating the shower water

The village have commemorated our visit with a plaque on the wall of the hostel.

The project plaque
The project plaque

I am immensely proud that I was able to be involved in the project and thanks to all those people at work and home who supported me practically, financially and emotionally to be able to do it. It was Gandhi (I think!) who said ‘ we must be the change we want to see in the world’ and I really believe that it is up to all of us to try and make a tiny bit of difference by being nice and helping others and all of that little stuff that added together can bring about bigger stuff.

I have thought a lot about the project and the people I met – both here in the Uk and in Nepal over the last year. Sometimes I can’t believe I actually was there – it was so remote and so different but in a way I felt very much at home there. It truly was a fantastic experience.

 Sadly I can’t be part of Project Nepal 2 which has just started with plans to go and build next October but hopefully I can still be involved with the charity in the future in some way. I am planning to make some more Xmas decs this year and sell them to raise funds.

I do have some very lovely reminders of my trip around the house – as I mentioned in my page about the trip the textiles there are amazing and I brought back a beautiful wall hanging made from recycled garments which hangs above my computer.

Most of the hangine is made of beaded necklines from old garments turned into the most wonderful crazy patchwork
Most of the hanging is made of beaded necklines from old garments turned into the most wonderful crazy patchwork
Detail of the wonderful goldwork in the centre of the hanging
Detail of the wonderful goldwork in the centre of the hanging

I also bought a Buddhist thanka – a religious picture which hangs in my hallway. The detail of the painting is wonderful.

The thanka painting mounted in silk brocade
The thanka painting mounted in silk brocade
Detail of the painting
Detail of the painting

 I would love to go back to Nepal one day – hopefully with the rest of the family – and take them to the village. I am so lucky to have had this amazing experience and I really hope that the Project Nepal 2 participants enjoy it as much as I did.

The next post will be the magic 100th one with the giveaway and will be all about textiles! I have been very busy just recently – have finished the Noro scarf and have started another scarf with some wonderful wool that I got from the lovely new knitting shop that I have been going to for Knit and Natter. Can’t show you pics of that as it is a pressie! Also been working on my pieces for the Creative Textiles class and have just posted my latest exchange piece to Wendy Jo in the USA. As soon as she has got the parcel I will post pics of that – it was a new finish for me and I was pleased with the way it turned out.

Bye for now.