Amazing lights, beautiful city

Edinburgh was so beautiful, as expected. We have both been before, but to be there at Christmas was just magical. We stayed in a very central location, just near the castle so it was within walking distance of everything. The apartment was beautiful, here it is on Air bnb , if you are ever interested in visiting Edinburgh. Last two pictures are from the listing.

We spent most of the first day we were there just wandering around admiring the buildings and looking in some nice shops.

We were stunned by the amount of beautiful Christmas lights on all the shops and hotels. There were some absolutely gorgeous displays, including some very innovative light displays on the buildings.

We had tickets for the Botanical Gardens light event on Boxing Day which was also wonderful, a trail through with all different lights shows and music, the photos so not do it justice really as most of the light installations changed colour as well.

One of the best things was the number of gorgeous places to eat, so many stunning architectural gems as well as the food and drink being great. We had delicious gluten free pancakes in the old Assembly Rooms, a company called Stack and Sill, and Bailey’s hot chocolate in a lovely café called Tiles which was the previously the reception area for the Prudential insurance company.

We also visited the gorgeous Café Adaluz for a tapas lunch and had an evening meal in a restaurant, Angel’s Share, that I did chose for its amazing tin tile ceiling and chandeliers. Luckily the food and cocktails were nice as well!

We had a ride on the big wheel and a lovely couple of tours on the big red tour bus which is always a great way to get around a city and find out lots about it.

Another highlight was a visit to a cat café, Maison de Moggy. We had been planning to visit one of these in Japan, so spent a lovely hour having some very delicious Turkish Delight hot chocolate and cake. The visit was a chance to pet the ten cats they have there, including a beautiful Maine Coon, Pauline, that had the most amazing lion like face. This photo at the bottom of her is from the web site as I couldn’t get a good picture while we were there.

I am enjoying my time at my sister’s, I have bought a new sewing machine, with 99 stitches so am looking forward to using that and am knitting my first Little Cotton Rabbits fox.

I am enjoying cuddling up with her lovely cat as well, Scully, she is my sofa companion when I do my studying for my writing courses.

Jacky and I have also been to the gym a few times and I have done my first aquarobics session which was fun. We are having a quiet weekend at home as the weather is a bit rough. My sister is a primary school teacher and has had a busy first week back at work so it is nice to have some quiet time.

I hope that you have all had a nice week, and have a good week ahead. I will be back with the first of my museum series of posts, as I have lots to share with you from all the lovely costume and textiles things I have seen since August. Until then have fun, take care, stay safe, and thanks for visiting.

We interrupt this travel blog to bring you some Christmas stitching!

I have been frantically stitching ten ornaments in the last few weeks and last night put the final stitches in the ribbons and breathed a sigh of relief. Two of them only needed a little finishing and making up but the others were done from scratch.

I did post a while ago about using some of Jenni of Elefantz’s bird designs with some new Scandi fabric but it was difficult to stitch them neatly enough on the felt I had so I decided to go with my tried and trusted JBW Designs.

I forgot to take pictures of the first two as I have left them in Spain for my aunt and mum but this one above that I did for them is one of my favourite designs and I will have to stitch it for my little tree in Spain. I kept a few of my ornaments to take with me and bought a tiny tree so I did have that up for a few days there before I came back. The picture is of my cute children when they were very small!

I love this design, most of the JBW Designs have these little motifs in them which are so cute. Some of the others I have stitched are similar to this, such as the tree one below.

This comes from another JBW Design set, I stitched all three of these this year, each one twice.

The last ornaments I completed were from a new book that I got from Create Nostalgia. They have the best selection of Judy’s designs in the UK and I was able to get this brilliant compilation from them. It is great value at only £19 including postage, as individual design cards retail for about £5 each.

I am planning to stitch more of the cute stockings and little mittens for next year’s ornaments and might find time to do some more of these for me.

As I mentioned previously I did not save any of my Christmas fabric when I was having my sort out of what to take to Spain so I needed to order some more when I got here. I found a great selection packs on Ebay at Fabric 4 Craft . The best thing was that they sell packs of small squares which are perfect for ornaments or little patchwork projects. I particularly love the fabric with all the little motifs on below.

I have been volunteering at the foodbank with Ellen for the last few days. It has again been a very interesting time and nice to do something very useful and worthwhile. They have been doing some more social media recently so here is a photo they did with my lovely daughter on the left.

I am off on a little UK tour tomorrow, mainly in Huddersfield but I will be having a mini break in Manchester and visiting a few museums there.

Until next time have a good week and weekend, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Actual crafting going on!

You’d think I would be posting a bit more about actual makes now I am retired, especially as this is supposed to be a craft blog. I have always posted about travel but obviously that has been the main priority of the last few months, although there has been a little bit of making in between all of the adventures.

The big news is that I have finally learnt how to crochet, after several previous attempts. My lovely daughter Ellen was very patient with me, and after lots of encouragement I got to grips with at least two stitches. I still need more practice on trebles, but have been watching some further videos on Craftsy as I got a very good deal on a year’s membership. I decided to make a project while practising my double crochet, and am very proud of what I have done as my stitches are quite neat. The lovely sparkly variegated wool is from our trip to Alnwick earlier this year.

This is a little pouch for my new crochet hooks, as well as the couple I have bought here, I have a set waiting for me in the UK so hopefully Ellen and I will have the chance to do some more crochet when I spend time with her over Christmas. She is now a crochet genius, and has made so many wonderful things.

As I mentioned last post, some things are more difficult to find here. Wool is no problem as all of the Merca China, (a cross between a pound shop and a homewares shop), have a good selection and there is a lot of basic haberdashery. Fabric shops are few and far between, and the postage and import duty since Brexit makes it very expensive to get mail order, so I am going to have a good stock up when in the UK.

I bought this lovely wool, and some Christmas fabric, at the little craft market I mentioned in my last post. The wool will probably be either some crochet, or dresses for animals. I love variegated wool and the rainbow one is so bright! The other ball is very subtle and beautiful shades so I might use that for crochet if I can decide on a good pattern.

The red fabric is going to be used for this year’s set of ornaments. I was looking for something quick to stitch and decided on some Scandi inspired ones before I found this lovely fabric. I am using one of Jenny of Elefantz’s stitching patterns here. The holly fabric will go to back some cross stitch ones that I have had in progress for a few years.

I have also finally completed another Little Cotton Rabbits project, another elephant this time. This is Edward, and he is my 21st animal and my 5th elephant. He is a present for one of my old colleagues, for her grandson. I love making the little outfits and am now pretty confident at the removable shoes. My current LCR knit is a fox and I will be trying the slippers for the first time for that one.

I will be back next week after our latest adventure, we are going to have a really hard time choosing what to visit, I have been doing the research this morning and there are so many museums and palaces, very excited now.

I hope that you have a good weekend ahead, whatever you are doing have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

A Christmas Miracle

Well dear reader, you may have realised from the lack of recent posts that I made it to Spain! It was indeed a Christmas miracle as I landed, with my lovely negative test certificate, the day before Spain stopped letting people from the UK in, and came back just before the UK started asking for the same tests on return. Phew! I am now safely ensconced in a snowy Marsden, self-isolating for the next two weeks.

As we are now online only at work and likely to be so for the foreseeable future I may not leave the house again for many months! Although I am determined to try and get out and do some exercise once the weather improves (and the pavements are less slippery) as I have had a very lovely time in Spain walking and even doing some cycling 🙂

I have not used my bike in Spain for about 4 years, since I started having more joint and back problems. My fitness has declined so badly during last year due to lockdown and working from home that I really wanted to do something to try and improve things. I started doing an online fitness programme a few weeks before I left, based on Salsa dancing, and really enjoyed it. So I got Rosie Raleigh out of my Mum’s basement and we had some fun adventures together.

I was determined to do as much walking as I could while I was in Spain as it is one of my favourite things to do. I started off with just an hour an evening to go and watch the amazing sunsets. I was later able to take the bike out a few times, culminating in cycling all the way to the beach, about 6km in total, there and back.

I was so pleased. Not only was it really lovely to be out in the sunshine and have the freedom to roam around some of my favourite cycle paths but it also gives me the independence that I need for when I move there full time. My relatives are very helpful with driving me places but I want to be able to travel myself as well and my plans for passing my driving test have been on hold since May and are no nearer completion.

I had great fun exploring some of the areas of the urbanisation that I have not visited before, including some of the smaller squares of older properties. They have lovely little green areas in the middle with palms and bougainvillea decorating the houses. There are also quite a few more refurbishments, and makeovers of the older properties into the newer white modern style are in evidence all over the area.

On one of my rides I went out towards the mountains. There are a number of paths alongside the irrigation canals that have been designated as cycle paths and the views were beautiful as always, especially with the sun shining through the rushes that grow at the sides of the water.

I also spent a lot of time on my terrace. Mum gave me some more money for plants for Christmas so I redid all the pots which gave me something pretty to look at while I was admiring the blue sky and the lovely sunrises. I also added a couple of beautiful ceramics to the wall. I am looking forward to having more tiling done when I am there full-time as I love Spanish tiles.

I also spent quite a few evenings sitting on the terrace reading as well, wrapped up in a fleecy blanket with all of my candles lit and solar lights. It was so peaceful and relaxing.

My Mum had her little candle tree up with all of the ornaments I have made over the years, all but the green tree at the top and the cross stitch to the left of that are ones that I have made for her. This is also useful for checking what I have already made for her for planning future creations.

The flight back was lovely though I was very sad to be leaving. It was raining when we left Spain but we flew over the Pyrenees in sunshine so I was able to get some shots of the mountains in the snow, I do love mountains!

So it is back to life in lockdown for the next few weeks, however I have plenty to keep me occupied. I am not working many weekends this term (hurrah) so am planning some more Barbie couture as my younger relatives loved their Christmas gifts and still have bunny knitting to finish. I have also been watching the wonderful Bridgerton and am taking inspiration from the amazing costumes there for more Steampunk plans for the future.

I hope that life is ok for you all at the moment, it does seem like a long time until brighter days, as it often does in January, but hopefully things will get better very soon and we can have some return to that wonderful weather we had last Spring. I have been so lucky to be able to enjoy the sun in Spain and will stay warm and await it’s return here. At least Marsden looks very pretty in the snow.

Take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Frosty, Freezy and the B Crew

When my friend Kerry came over during the summer she commented on the fact that I had all of the Barbie dolls that I had been making clothes for lined up on the coffee table in front of me. She said it looked like I was using them as an audience and I told her that was my B Crew and yes I did occasionally talk to them 🙂 Well when you live on your own you have to be creative sometimes for company.

The B Crew have been disbanded now as they are mostly off to new homes. I spent many happy hours during the first few weeks of the restrictions in April making clothes for them all, (I ended up with 10 dolls at one point with those I bought for work purposes and the ones I found on Ebay).

Once I have finished with the animals that I am making as gifts for friend’s grandchildren, I will probably get back to making gowns for them as the recent declutter led to me finding a whole new stash of beautiful fabric that I can use. I bought some wonderful vintage patterns in PDF from Gail’s Vintage Doll e-Patterns on Etsy and have so many other ones to try. I love these very sixties ones.

For these dresses I made four versions of the dress on the top left of the pattern, View 5. For the white and green dress I adapted the skirt to be flared. The other print dresses were made from two rectangles with the skirt part gathered.

These three dolls are going to the cousins for Christmas and three of the diversity ones have gone to my friend at work. She is using Barbies in awareness raising about diversity in art galleries, so they will join her Art Activist Barbie team. I love what Sarah has been doing with her work, if you are interested here is her Twitter page.

I have kept four of them as models, and this is one of my favourite as I love her hair. I must make her some fab new clothes for next season as the poor thing only has one dress at the moment.

I have also finished my two snowmen, here are Frosty and Freezy. The last photos show them filled with chocolate and ready to go off to my nieces for Christmas. I think they turned out really well and I very much enjoyed knitting them. Details of the pattern is in this post here.

I actually had the whole of this weekend off (eek) as all of my teaching on Saturdays for this term has finished. It was so lovely to have two whole days off, so exciting! I managed to get a lot done, sorting out some more of the things in the craft room and made up this pouch for Ellen’s friend. I have had the applique done for a long time but it was on my pile of things to make up (which includes a large pile of stitcheries that I must get around to doing something with!).

I love the Liberty fabric I used for the bottom of the bag, it is one of my favourite designs and I wish I had more of it but think it looks cute as just the base. There is a good tutorial for this and other types of lace zipper pouch here at Plush Addict. The lace zippers come from Buddly Crafts and come in all sorts of gorgeous colours.

I am not expecting to get too much else done this week as I have a lot of wrapping and general Christmas prep to do and may (only may) be leaving the country on Saturday. All manner of miracles have to happen to make that work so we shall see. If I am blogging again next week it will not have happened but fingers crossed!

Whatever happens I will be happily knitting something somewhere and celebrating getting to the end of a very tough year, both personally and professionally, as it has for many people. Whatever happens next year at least this one will be over, in some cases the worst has already happened and we have survived that. We can only hope that things get easier for us all in 2021.

If I don’t see you again until Jan, hope you have a good a festive season as you can, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

A whole lot of sorting going on

Well I have had a very busy few weeks, very little crafting but a huge amount of sorting and decluttering. It is less than 3 months until I put the house on the market (eeek!) so there has been a lot to do as I wanted to make the best use of what time I had before Christmas. Starting in January I will be finishing the re-painting, doing the final declutter and then calling the estate agents!

I have been helped by a new Facebook page in our lovely village for people to gift and request items that they need, set up just as the newest restrictions started as all of the charity shops were closed, and some smaller items have gone to new homes. It is such a lovely idea and people have been very generous, there have been some really nice children’s toys and all sorts of things that people have donated to others.

My wonderful Ellen came up last weekend and we did an enormous amount, not that much is visible as it was all things in cupboards, and under beds and in long forgotten boxes and drawers. Some of it went to the local tip, some saleable items on Ebay, but I know it is all gone, and there will be much less to get rid of after the house is sold.

I have even decluttered the craft room, I still have to find homes for some of it as there is a lot of scrap fabric that in previous times would have gone to the local school but they are not accepting anything at the moment. I still do have some time to sort that out though.

It seems weird to be on the final countdown, fingers crossed I only have about 8 months left living here and then it will be a life in Spain, and hopefully on the road for part of the year. I have no idea what will happen, the double whammy of the pandemic and Brexit have meant that planning is not easy but fingers crossed I will get there. I count myself very lucky that I have a house there already and am not trying to do that bit as well.

I have finished a couple of things, I have knitted a basket and some carrots for Ellen and I am doing another set of these for the next bunny as well. I love how the basket has turned out with the basket weave stitch, it was very easy to do and I love it. It is very sturdy and has a lovely i-cord handle. The basket is from Julie at Little Cotton Rabbits and the carrots are a free pattern by Wendy from Flutterby Patch.

Wendy also had some really cute little snowmen that you could use as gifts bags for sweets etc. so I have bought this pattern from her Etsy page and have knitted one already, I have just got to do the face now so I will show you that later. I am going to make two as gifts for my great nieces. These pictures are from her Ravelry page.

I am really tempted to get some of her other patterns as well, I love this group of teddies, and the cute little group of kids.

These dolls are beautiful as well and she has patterns for extra outfits for the larger ones. All pictures are from her Ravelry page.

I shall just spend my retirement knitting endless amounts of little knitted animals and cute dolls 😉 I am sure I can find good homes for them to go to. Most of my relatives are getting a little too old now but I am sure I can give them away to others for gifts, or to charity. I did really enjoy making the fabric dolls I made a couple of years ago for my cousins and would like to make some more of those as well. Details of the pattern for these are in this post.

I have finished all on campus teaching now, we have moved everything else online for this term so that hopefully we can all meet up with people safely for Christmas. I am just doing tutorials and marking for the next two weeks so hopefully will have lots of time for other things as I am not leaving the house at all. It seems strange that I will not be going back into work until the middle of January now but I am quite happy here at home. It has been cold and wet out recently so I am happy not to have to stand at cold bus stops!.

A little Christmas tree is up (I have given away the big one and most of my ornaments, even my hand made ones), I have the house full of pretty lights, some new fluffy slipper boots and so I am cosy and warm inside. I am very blessed to have such a safe and comfortable warm home and extremely grateful for this in these difficult times. I am going to light the candles, carry on with some knitting and watch the second series of the lovely Virgen River on Netflix.

I hope that you are all safe and warm as well and have a happy week ahead. Take care and thanks for visiting.

Have yourself a merry knitted Christmas ….

This week has gone so fast! I am not sure if that is a good thing or not. In one respect I can’t wait for all of ‘this’ to be over so the faster time goes the better, and the nearer to retirement I get 🙂 However, I do like to feel that I am making good use of time, but it is just whizzing past me.

This week’s crafting has partly been about preparing a new camper van embroidery and a lovely new applique needlebook for me. More on that in a future post as they are just at the stage of being stuck to the background with no stitching yet.

I have been experimenting with knitted ornaments as I decided that I would like to do knitted ones for this year’s collection for family. I was doing a bit of research and came across some wreaths and thought that I could maybe adapt Julie’s free doughnut pattern so I had a little play.

Knitting it on size 3.75 mm needles made a bigger doughnut but it was not big enough, so I eventually cast on 39 stitches rather than the 26 in the pattern. This is such a fast and easy knit, you do not have to concentrate too hard so it is great for doing while watching tv. I have now made 5 doughnuts in total I am getting quite confident with it.

To decorate I am using up my stash of little charms. I have so many varied ones that I have collected over the years and they look very cute on the wreath.

I only have about half a ball of this lovely variegated yarn left so will use that up for possibly another 4 of these. The good thing is that the charms can be varied as I only have one or two left of most of these now and I am trying to be good and not buy any new stash 🙂

I am going to take three weeks leave at Christmas, my employer has given us extra time off to say thank you for all the extra work we have done this term so I have two weeks from them. I am still hoping that restrictions are lifted so I can visit Mum in Spain but we shall see, it is all very complicated so I probably won’t know until last minute. Either way there will be lots of knitting taking place.

I hope that you have had a good week and things are going ok. Take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Giveaway winner

Apologies for being a day late with the giveaway winner, I have been really ill for about 10 days with a horrible cough and flu. I am still having to go to work but have missed lots of nice social events and have not had time to catch up with anything.

Enough of the moaning, hopefully I will feel better soon and will get chance to pop back and show you my lovely dinosaurs, I have been frantically trying to finish everything but I am so slow at the moment as I feel so rough.

Anyway the winner of the giveaway is Roweena Combs, please could you e-mail me at alisonmryan@yahoo.co.uk with your address and I can post the ornament to you.

Thanks to everyone who liked or commented and thanks for visiting for all or part of the last 12 years! Hopefully I will find time a little later this week to post again as I am off to Spain for 3 weeks on Saturday. Mum says it is 20 degrees there at the moment and I am so looking forward to that after the last couple of cold, wet weeks here.

Take care and thanks for visiting.

 

Still sparkling and a giveaway!

The house is still full of little glittery bits as I have been finishing off the last of the ornaments. Every time I cut up the glittery ribbons some falls on the carpet and despite my best efforts to vacuum it up I see little glittery bits in the carpets up the stairs and in the bedroom. It is all very festive so I don’t mind.

Xmas decs Dec 1

I have made two stockings from Jenny of Elefantz’s pattern from last year. This is not currently on sale as was one of her last monthly stitching clubs. I still need to get around to making some of these filled with lavender as they would look great in Liberty with some of my vintage lace stash on them.These are for my Mum and Aunt.

The cousins will have pine cones this year, I have really enjoyed going back to these and have made some for other friends as well. There is a good tutorial here on to how to make them and they are a very therapeutic make in front of the TV.  I pin on little star sequins at the top as this stops the upper ribbons from lifting off and adds a bit of bling.

Xmas decs Dec 6

I have almost run out of Christmas ribbons. I did manage to find this gorgeous holly one at my local craft shop but this was the last of the pink and gold poinsettia design below which is so pretty.The ribbon flowers on the top of one of them in the picture above come from this seller on Ebay and come in lots of different colours, not just Christmas ones.

Xmas decs Dec 11

Xmas decs Dec 16

Xmas decs Dec 17

I still have a bit of silver and blue ribbon and lots of pearl pins so I have been making some alternative colours as well.I have so many little sequins from when I used to cross stitch cards that I have been using up like these pearly ones here.

I am not putting up my tree this year, I know that is a very unusual thing for a Christmas ornament fan like me to say but there is only me here and I am leaving on the 21st so would not be around to take it down so although I will be decorating it will be smaller scale this year. I will be helping to decorate the Wool and Wine tree at our local church’s tree festival this Friday so that will be lovely.

It has been lovely seeing all the ever growing piles of ornaments, I never get tired of making them and have lots of ideas of new types for next year.I think I have finished now although when I have finished the gifts I may well go back to them and start on the making for 2020, I was a little ahead of myself this year as I had carried on in January and it does help. I have finally started making the gift for Ava, I am making felt dinosaurs and they are so cute! Hopefully I will have them finished by next weekend so that I can post pictures for you.

Finally the giveaway. It is my blogaversary again – 12 whole years on Weds so I thought since I am organised and have some time before Christmas to sort things I would offer an ornament as a prize this year. All you have to do is like or comment on this post to be in with a chance of winning. I will pick the winner on the 15th Dec which gives me chance to pick one of my recent makes and post the ornament out.

Thank you to everyone who reads this blog, I have so enjoyed doing this for the last 12 years, as well as it being fantastic way of me recording what I do and reminding me when I have forgotten where I found things  I really enjoy interacting with all of you through it so thank you all for your continued support.

Until next time, take care and thanks for visiting, off to stitch more spots on a stegosaurus!

 

 

It’s beginning to look at lot like Christmas ….

Thankfully the ornament production is well under way now, inspired by our little Wool and Wine workshop session last weekend I have been making lots and lots of things this week so am actually now ahead of myself in terms of what I need which is great.

Part of the reason that I have made extra is so that some can go to our Wool and Wine tree at the local Christmas tree festival in the village church but also because I just love making them. They are so sparkly and pretty and fill my little heart with joy 🙂

Xmas baubles Nov 4

These three all use a similar colourway and the same type of finishing with this very ornate gold braid around the centre. I love these ribbons, so much velvet and satin loveliness!The embellishments are mainly jewelry making supplies and a variety of different types of beads which I bought from Ebay .

 

The next set are more muted but still very gorgeous, sadly I am running out of these ribbons and will have to source more. I think the green one originally came from Tesco but I must have had it for about 10 years.

Xmas baubles Nov 9

 

There are several Youtube videos of how to make these and you can use either fabric squares or ribbon but one of the best sources of information and inspiration is The Ornament Girl, if you sign up to her site she will send you tutorial links by e-mail.

Rosemari, Sarah and Debbie made the baubles as well at our crafting session, I forgot to get a picture of Sarah’s which was a gorgeous blue and silver one but here is Debbie’s ribbon bauble and Rosemari’s silver fabric one. The fabric version comes from Decorations to Dazzle by Springwood House Designs.

Edited to add: The Ornament Girl has just offered a freebie PDF book on how to make these fabric baubles with an included template – follow this link for more details.

Xmas baubles Nov 1

Xmas baubles Nov 3

I have also made one pine cone so far, again from Springwood House Designs, this design was originally a kit. I just kept adding more and more fabric to this one so it has so many layers! I have been struggling to find any long gold topped pins but have lots of pearl ones so thought I would use one of those and think that it looks good.

Xmas baubles Nov 14

Xmas baubles Nov 15

Xmas baubles Nov 16

I was sorting out some of my ornaments to use for our group tree and came across a little knitted stocking that I made lots of about 6 years ago. They are so cute so I made two more this week. A lovely quick knit from Julie of Little Cotton Rabbits , this is a free pattern from her and you can put so many variations in in terms of contrast toe and heel colour.

Xmas baubles Nov 17

Xmas baubles Nov 18

Xmas baubles Nov 19

I think the reindeer head buttons were originally bought from a craft fair but you can find similar ones on Ebay here .

I love these multicoloured versions of the stockings from Miyayo on Ravelry which I found while searching for other knitted ornament patterns. These would make a lovely Advent Calendar as well and you can use any Fair Isle or cross stitch pattern for the design that fits in with the 27 stitch count.

Mini-Knitted-Christmas-Socks-Pattern-550x413

I have still got a few more ornaments that I want to make and also have some presents to make. There will hopefully be some felty cuteness of a new sort coming soon for my great-niece Ava, maybe I will get a start on that this weekend.

Hope all your pre-Christmas craftiness is coming all well and have a good week ahead. Thanks for visiting.