Attention to detail

We had a great time at Ashby de la Zouche and amazingly apart from light drizzle on Sunday it didn’t rain! This was Sunday evening before we sat round the campfire – just beautiful.

Ashby May 2015

Ashby May 2015 Castle in sun 2

Ashby May 2015 Castle in sun 3

Jamie’s new surcoat was finished just in time on Friday – it took a lot longer than expected because of the lining which I had to do 3 times before I got it right. At least I have learnt from the experience and will not attempt to machine sew one in next time as it is too bulky.

I have had lots of compliments on it and a couple of requests for others so will be making more. I am going to update my, ‘Making a surcoat page’, when I get chance as I know that always gets lots of visitors.

I was especially pleased that not only did the individual squares match up the front and back did as well and the part squares at either side.

Ashby May 2015 Jamie 2

Ashby May 2015 Jamie 3

Ashby May 2015 Jamie 4

The boys did some action shots for me as well.

Ashby May 2015 Luke and Jamie 1

Ashby May 2015 Luke and Jamie 2

Ashby May 2015 Luke and Jamie 3

It never ceases to amaze me the attention to detail that the boys in our medieval group pay to their kit, even though they know it will get battered and worn they spend so much effort making it look lovely, they are real works of art.

Here are some more pictures of Luke with his new brigandine or coat of plates, behind the leather are metal plates for protection.

Ashby May 2015 Luke brig detail 1

Ashby May 2015 Luke detail 3

Ashby May 2015 Luke brig detail 2

Ashby May 2015 Luke brig detail 3

I love the decorated rivets and am going to try to get some of these for a belt for Ellen.

Ashby May 2015 Luke detail 1

Ashby May 2015 Luke detail 2

Ashby May 2015 Luke 1

Ashby May 2015 Luke with sword

Here is Shane’s beautiful arm armour and our King – Edward the second (or Clive in real life) whose costumes are always amazing, he has a new crowned helmet for this season which is very impressive.

Ashby May 2015 Shane detail

Ashby May 2015 King 1

Ashby May 2015 King detail 1

Ashby May 2015 King detail 2

Ashby May 2015 King detail 3

This week’s task is to make a shirt before the event next weekend – should be a simple job and at least I do have a very long car journey to finish the hand stitching!

Have fun and see you all again soon, thanks for visiting.

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Book challenge – numbers 13 and 18 – I have been buying books again!!

I keep telling myself not to buy any more fiction books at the moment as I have such a large pile to read and a great local library.

However I keep seeing great new titles which fit with this challenge and WH Smith has this habit of doing a buy one get one half price offer. And they look so pretty on the shelves, all that literary loveliness just waiting for me to take home.

So I failed to resist temptation on a recent trip out for a placement visit when I popped into WH Smith for a packet of mints and came out with two titles – one has not been read yet but is also for the challenge.

This is book 13, a book with a female heroine and is Miss Carter’s War by Sheila Hancock. I know of Sheila as an actress and think that this is her first fiction book.

Miss Carter's War

I really enjoyed it but it was very different to what I was expecting. The ‘blurb’ gives the impression that it is about the heroine’s experiences just after the Second World War but it covers a much longer time frame with lots of references to the social history that I grew up with.

I also found it very interesting as a story about a teaching career as a lot of the things the heroine experienced were things that I have been through in my now 28 years of teaching. Can’t believe I have been doing it for so long – and still love it!

While waiting for our recent flight to Copenhagen, (which was delayed by 3 hours) , Mum and I just went for a browse again in WH Smith and despite me asking her to restrain me the same thing happened again. Slightly less guilt this time as we went halves on the books we bought.

This was one of our purchases which I have just finished,  book 18 which is a book with a blue cover, Mrs Hemingway by Naomi Wood. It is the story of Ernest Hemingway’s four wives and their relationships with each other as well as with him.

Mrs Hemingway

I have not ever read any Hemingway though know of his interest in the Spanish Civil War so have always meant to read him and will add him to my list now as I was very interested in the descriptions of his writing in the book.

The early parts of the book also have Scott Fitzgerald in as they socialised together and The Great Gatsby is also on my list to read and to see the latest film adaptation.

It took a while to get into the book as I was not very sympathetic to the characters at first but by halfway through I was hooked, partly due to the descriptions of their lifestyles from the 1920s to the 1940s where most of the book is set.

Again I think I liked it because it is another side to a story you know, of how the war affected people, in this case Ernest and his third wife who worked as war reporters.

So far I have read 8 out of the 26 books in the last four months, (as well as quite a few other non-challenge books), and have been enjoying the slightly different focus. I hope that you have found the reviews interesting as well and it has inspired you to read different things.

A couple of weeks ago at knitting my friend Emily gave out copies of two books that she had been sent for World Book Night, the idea of this is to distribute copies of the books you are sent to people who then pass it on to others, something Mum, Ellie and I do all of the time.

There were a couple of people said they didn’t really read and I thought that was so sad. I couldn’t imagine a life without books, or blogs which I consider just as wonderful as reading fiction. They did take books and hopefully will get hooked which is what the campaign is all about.

Hope that you have a lovely Bank Holiday weekend if you are in the UK , we are off to Ashby de la Zouche Castle for an event.

I am very pleased to say that I have this afternoon finished the surcoat I have been making for Jamie. Much more time needed than I had first allocated partly due to needing to sew the lining in 3 times ! Will be back next week with pictures of it in action, (I do hope it fits!)

Take care and thanks for visiting.

Cute as a button (on a knitted pincushion!)

Hello everyone, I hope that you did have a very nice weekend, mine was productive and I am posting today to share with you my latest creations.

I have told you before about my love of pincushions, like most crafters I have several and love making them but these are my very first knitted ones 🙂

knitted pincushions May

I am making some things for my friend Sarah of Alder Sign Designs  as she has a stall at Yarndale this September and these are the first two from the production line.

I took inspiration from all the lovely things on a pincushion Pinterest board here and another Pinterest  search for knitted pincushions, (there are some seriously cute crochet ones out there, must learn to crochet next, my life will not be complete until I can make a granny square pin cushion!).

I didn’t follow a pattern, just made it up as I went along so I have put a tutorial here for you in case you want to make some yourself.

1. Using 2.5mm double pointed needles and 4 ply yarn cast on 45 stitches. Thicker yarn and/or larger needles will give a larger pincushion – these measure approx. 8cm inches in diameter.

2. Distribute the stitches evenly between the 3 needles.

3. For the purple pincushion knit in stocking stitch (all knit rows) until work measures 9cm in length.

Purple pincushion

4. Leave stitches on needles and using long tail of thread and large eyed needle gather all stitches, pull tight and fasten securely

Knit for winter mitts May 6

5. For pink pincushion knit in stocking stitch, (all rows knit), until work measures 4 cm in length then knit in moss stitch, (knit 1, purl 1) ,for 6 rows. Then knit in stocking stitch for a further 3.5 cm in length.

knitted pincushions May 2

6. Finish as for purple pincushion in step 4.

7. Stuff firmly with polyester toy stuffing and then using length of yarn and large eyed needle pick up stitches from cast on edge to gather. Pull tight and fasten securely.

8. For purple pincushion – use a length of embroidery thread , (all 6 strands), or similar threaded onto a sharp needle. Stitch to attach thread to gathered up centre.

9. Securely wrap thread around the body of the pincushion to form eight segments. Pull tightly as you do this and secure each time you take thread back to centre with a stitch.

10. For both pincushions stitch buttons at centre of pincushion (top and bottom) to cover gathered join. Pull tightly when stitching to flatten pincushion. I did both buttons simultaneously then left thread tail inside of body.

11. Add co-ordinating pins!

knitted pincushions May 3

knitted pincushions May 4

One of my favourite bloggers, Mary Kathryn, has just made some gorgeous embroidered linen pincushions, go and have a look at her post about them, if she shipped to the UK I would have bought one as they are just beautiful.

I have just ordered some more buttons and charms from Etsy as well to decorate the next few batches of accessories , I really love these little decorated buttons that I first saw at Yarndale last year.

I am going to test out one with a lace pattern border this week to improve my skills at lace knitting in the round!

Take care and thanks for visiting.

Never look a gift hexi in the mouth

Hello everyone and I hope that you are looking forward to a lovely weekend.

I have lots of me time planned and some finishing of kit which I shall be able to show you next week. Things have been going very well with the surcoat that I am making which is a relief as it is quite a complex make and it is always a bit nerve-wracking when you are making things for someone else.

I have also managed to whip up a new linen shift for me in an afternoon, that just needs the hand stitching on the hems finishing which will be done tonight.

My lovely friend Helen from knitting group has just gifted me these hexis, she was having a de-stash and decided that she was never going to finish the rainbow quilt she had been planning to make with them so they are now mine! They are fabulous and such pretty fabric.

gift hexis 1

I can’t decide which one I like best but this might just be my favourite.

gift hexis 2

Although these ones are pretty lovely as well.

gift hexis 3

gift hexis 4

gift hexis 5

I think they would look very nice as part of a small lap/cuddle quilt for one of my younger relatives and again hexis are a great travel project for the many trips I have planned over the next few months!

In other exciting news it is the end of teaching for me, yippee 🙂 and my students very kindly bought me these gorgeous flowers. Aren’t they so beautiful?

flowers and hexis

I love having flowers in the house and I am particularly fond of gerberas as they just look so perfect, almost too good to be real, and it is rare to be able to buy them on their own.

So the summer stretches ahead, lots of marking to do along with working on my doctorate and planning for next year but I am feeling very relaxed and happy.

Ofsted, (the government education inspectors for those of you outside the UK), have not arrived so far this term and probably won’t come now which lessens the pressure on everyone.

I will have much more time for crafting as now do not have to work until stupid o clock on teaching days and with the lighter evenings I feel I am able to get so much more done.

Life is very lovely at the moment and I hope that you are all having a good time too.

Thanks for visiting.

Knitting Genius

I have been wanting to learn to knit with double-pointed and circular needles for ages, I did try a pair of socks of few years ago and it was a disaster as I could not avoid making holes at the join of the stitches.

The recent delivery of the Knit for Winter pattern meant that I knew I had to try to tackle it again and I am very pleased to say that with the help of my lovely friends at knitting group, (especially Sarah who was so patient when I kept ending up with only two needles), I have managed it.

This is truly knitting genius and I have to say I am hooked, don’t think I will ever knit in the flat again, all the things they say about knitting in the round are true.

It is so clever to just knit and get stocking stitch without having to remember which is your purl row. And no seams! That is fantastic.

I have finished one pair of the mittens from the Erin Cowl and Fingerless Mitts pattern by Lesley Jones and I am pleased with most of the work. I did have little issues with losing stitches from the end of my needles so have had to pick up a few things which makes it look a bit messy.

Knit for winter mitts May

The lace pattern at the top did also go a bit awry – I like the look of the pattern that I ended up with but the two mitts don’t match very well so I have been knitting another pair which are coming out better for the Knit for Winter project and will keep the first pair for myself.

Knit for winter mitts May 4

I am also very proud of the fact that I have knitted a thumb for the first time especially as knitting a lace pattern on only 24 stitches in the round was very fiddly!

Knit for winter mitts May
I have plans to knit the cowl as well to match. I have lots of this wool left and it is so pretty. Despite the mitts pattern looking a bit complex it isn’t and I have really enjoyed it, it completes quickly and is simple enough to work the lace while watching TV.

Knit for winter mitts May 3

I am also very excited as now that I have learnt to work in the round I am going to able to knit a sample for Sarah, she designs her own patterns, (a true knitting genius), under the name Aldersign Designs  and has a stall booked at Yarndale in September this year so I am going to knit a pair of mitts for the stall. She is working on a book of patterns all inspired by Elves which will be fantastic.

Yarndale

I am also going to be working on some knitting accessories such as pin cushions, scissor and needles storage etc for her to sell on her stall as well using mainly my recycled denim, vintage crochet and embroidery and hexi applique.

Below is a little bit of knitting in the round that I have done with some spare stash Debbie Bliss Sublime yarn that I will being turning into a pincushion. I love how working on such small needles (2.5mm) gives you such a neat and pretty pattern in simple stocking stitch.

Knit for winter mitts May 5

Knit for winter mitts May 6

This will be my summer project in between kit making. The great thing is that knitting in the round is so portable for taking on trains and knitting in cars on the journeys to events. So that is my summer crafting sorted!

Am spending most of this weekend finally getting to make the surcoat for Jamie and may be able to make the April Block of the Month as well – have got behind due to the loveliness of having holidays and lots of visitors last month but must get some of the kit I have promised everyone (including me!) actually started.

Hope that you are all going to have a lovely weekend ahead. Thanks for visiting.

 

Book challenge – number 22 – how the West was really won

Book challenge number 22 is a book with pictures. As well as making things I love to read about the history of craft and none more so than the history behind quilts.

I have a growing collection of books on quilt history, both in the UK and US, and this is my latest acquisition which I have absolutely loved reading.

Wisconsin Quilts – History in the Stitches by Ellen Kort is a brilliant book as not only are the quilts wonderful but this was part of a special project to document quilts so they were brought by the current owners, often the descendants of the original makers.

This means that there are the stories and sometimes the pictures of the women who made them which is amazing as so often that information is lost.

Wisconsin Quilts

As expected many are stories of hardship, of women leaving families as new brides and moving west, to Wisconsin and then sometimes further west to Wyoming and Oregon as well in search of a better life. The quilts are beautiful and so detailed in their execution, all hand pieced and hand quilted.

These are three of my favourites, a Star of Bethlehem from 1856, a Rose Wreath from 1865 and a Grandmother’s Flower Garden Path from 1932 during the Depression.

Wisconsin quilt book

Wisconsin quilt book 3

Wisconsin quilt book 4

There are lots of deaths of children from disease and of husbands from accidents, injuries and later the Civil and First World Wars.

The quilts that they made so different from the ones we make today, from whatever they could find in the way of fabric, saving and reusing every scrap where we have the luxury of yards of new fabric to choose from.

This quilt was made from advertising flannels given away with tobacco products in the 1920s.

Wisconsin quilt book 2

One of the quilts was made in England from scraps of velvet fabric saved by one of the needlewomen who made Queen Victoria’s bonnets.

Unfortunately too dark for me to photograph properly it travelled to the USA with its maker Kitty Weekes in the late 1840s when she went to join her brother Thomas and his friend George in Wisconsin. She helped clear land and build a house and married George in 1855 at the age of 44.

There are however so many similarities between us and those women, quilts made for celebration such as births and weddings, quilts made with friends for company, quilting being a little bit of ‘me time’ at the end of a hard day, though my hardest days at work cannot compare to being a pioneer farmer’s wife in the 1800s.

There are also quilts made to raise funds for war efforts, both the Civil war and the First World War like this one – an autograph quilt to raise money for the Red Cross.

Wisconsin quilt book 5

I have been watching the Poldark series on BBC TV and many of the Cornish miners emigrated to Wisconsin when the mines began to decline and worked in lead mines there.

This is how the West was truly won, the hard work of all those men and women who set out alone and worked through cold winters and lonely times.

The book is a brilliant portrayal of the social history of a new state covering the late 1700s to 1943 and a really interesting read.

I have recently finished another book about emigration which has a personal connection so will post about that another time.

Thanks very much for visiting.