Sunday, 29 June 2014

Blossom Shawl

Good morning everyone! It's a beautiful, sunny day here. It's very still and warm. The sun is beaming in through the skylight window and I can hear the birds outside. So just a quick post and then I'm off to make tea to take outside and drink in the garden. I might even have a scone with it!
You might remember when I first told you about starting the blossom shawl in this post. When I started it, I didn't know whether it would be for a baby girl or a baby boy. The pattern says to add flowers in various shades of pink round the edge. The flowers are attched to chain loops and sort of dangle.

In order to try and make the shawl suitable for either a girl or a boy I decided to make the dangly bits not flowers but small circles made using the first two rows of the motif pattern. As for colour, that was a bit more difficult. Off I went to my local wool shop to see what was available in the Stylecraft Special DK. I tried different combinations and decided on the two colours below.

That's Sherbert on the left and the other is Parchment. I think they work well together and also with the white. They are also pretty neutral; not only suited to a boy or a girl.

I have actually since been told what the baby is but am not allowed to tell anyone. Not even you. Mum's the word and all that.
I am now very close to finishing the main part of the shawl. It will have to blocked after sewing in the ends and then I can start making the coloured dangly bits. I'll let you see it when it is completely finished.

Have a lovely day; I intend to try and have one that's as relaxing as possible.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

A Bit of a Garden Update

This is the time of year when the garden changes every day. There's always something new to look at, some progress towards the harvest of fruit and vegetables.

Here are some photos to let you see what's happening in our garden. There are still lots of flowers and the poppies are really great this year.

I love that photo of the pinks; our wee Jack Russel managed to get in the picture and I didn't even realise she was there!

This is a new climbing rose we bought at the weekend. It's planted at the front of the house.

There are lots of pots with flowers too.

We bought a small thistle when on holiday a few years ago in Scotland. It grows really tall and produces lots of baby thistles for the following year. This is the first time we've had one in this particular flower bed. It will grow taller before the summer is over - usually they top six feet.

The apples, pears and plums are still tiny but there's going to be a good harvest (I hope!).

Lots of tomatoes in the greenhouse - the most we've ever had so far.

We also have a vine in the greenhouse which provides shade for the tomatoes while they are growing. Once the grapes are ready they are used to make jelly and cordial. The vine leaves are given to my brother-in-law to stuff; he uses his own traditional recipe.

There's a vine outside too but, if it ever produces grapes, these are quickly eaten by the birds.

Let me introduce you to some of our flock. This is Winston and below is Winifred. They are both Light Sussex and very mild tempered.

We need to get some more hens and hopefully we'll do that very soon. Possibly some ducks as well. That will be fun!
I'm still picking strawberries but I think they will soon slow down and finally stop for this year. I hope to dry some of them to see how they turns out - I haven't dried soft fruit before. It would be nice to have some to add to the muesli when I make it.
Bye for now!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Four Birds

Do you take your crocheting (knitting, quilting or whatever you're currently working on) to the hairdresser's? I always do. It would feel like such a waste of time to sit reading an old magazine rather then doing something useful like crocheting.

Any time I have an appointment with the hairdresser, I plan ahead and know exactly what I will bring with me to work on and I have it sitting in a bag ready to take. A couple of weeks ago I was going to the hairdresser and completely forgot about having something ready to take with me to crochet. About five minutes before I had to leave the house I suddenly remembered. So there was a bit of a panic while I tried to think what I was currently working on that would be suitable to take with me. Nothing! None of my WIPs were at a stage for sticking in a bag and taking out with me. Aaarrrgggghhhhh!!!

So I had to try and think of something else that I could start. What could I make? What yarn did I have? Did I need a pattern? I remembered buying a ball of Stylecraft Special DK in white whenever I bought the yarn for Dhaveena's blanket. I thought I would be able to work it in some way but it didn't look right. Well, that was a start; I had yarn. To me, white yarn means something for a baby and I rarely use white for anything else. I grabbed my Cute and Easy Baby Clothes book by Nikki Trench and a 4mm hook. Everything was hastily put in a bag and I set off for the hairdresser's.

Well, what to make? Was there anything in the pattern book that took my fancy? I liked the look of the Blossom Shawl though it is supposed to be worked in 4-ply yarn. Oh well, I thought that if I made it with my DK yarn it would just require less motifs to get the right size of shawl. Decision made and I started crocheting the Blossom Shawl. It actually sparked quite a bit of attention for some reason. Usually my knitting/crocheting foibles are ignored at the hairdresser's.
What has that got to do with four birds, I hear you ask? I'm sure you've heard of the expression 'killing two birds with the one stone'. Crocheting the Blossom Shawl has, for me, killed four birds with one stone.
  1. Something to work on while at the hairdresser
  2. Something to make using the Stylecraft Special DK white yarn
  3. Something that I can work on while travelling in the car
  4. Something that I can give as a present when Dhaveena's baby brother or sister is born in a few months time
I'm making good progress with the shawl, joining the motifs as I go rather than sewing them together at the end as the pattern says. Actually, I've made a few other tweaks to the pattern but it's basically what's in the book.

Blossom Shawl
There's been much progress made on the shawl as we had to make some long car journeys recently. I'll show you more later, as well as the yarn I've picked for doing the dangly bits of the shawl. And I'll show you the progress on Dhaveena's blanket too.

All the best for now. Our gorgeous weather is continuing but I think not for much longer.'s Blanket

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Late Spring Flowers

I know that for some people summer starts at the beginning of June but, for me, it doesn't start until the 21st. Which makes it now late spring. We are having some beautiful weather and the garden is coming along really well. There are lots of flowers blooming, especially poppies.

There are plenty of flowers in the hedge too. I love the dog roses and honeysuckle.

The husband built this stone seat in one of the beds. A place to sit and relax with a good view of the garden.

Even the conifers are growing really well. The Scots pine especially.

We  mustn't forget that the fruit and vegetables are also flowering at this time of year. The beans and potatoes are taking off nicely.

There's going to be a great crop of black berries and blackcurrants, by the look of it.

Something else that is flowering particularly profusely this year is the elder trees. I absolutely love elderflower cordial so I plan to go picking today and make plenty of cordial. Some will go straight into use and some will be frozen.

The strawberries just keep on producing. I'm picking the full of my colander every day and trying to eat as many of them as possible. I've frozen some to use for making smoothies.
 I took a walk along our road the other day and took a few photos just so you can see what the area is like.

 All the best for now. I think my next post will have to be crochet-related.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Tallinn and Copenhagen

After leaving St. Petersburg (which, incidentally, is three hours ahead of us) we sailed to Tallinn, in Estonia, arriving on May the 25th. The good weather held and we had another hot day exploring ashore. This time we didn't do an organised trip but availed of the shuttle bus to take us from the port to the old town. We were given a map on the bus and then we were on our own. We noticed a shopping centre across the street with a nice looking coffee shop so we headed straight over there for a cappuccino.

Coffee break over, we started off to find the sights of the old town. But everywhere we looked we were surrounded by modern shops and offices. We stopped and examined the map, back-tracked, re-tracked and stopped again to consult the map. I complained to the husband that we should have been left closer to the old town by the shuttle bus. Now, I am totally useless at reading maps but finally I saw where we were and how we should proceed to get to where we wanted to be. And, of course, it was right beside the spot we had been dropped off by the shuttle bus.

Tallinn is another lovely place to visit. Here are a few photos of the old town. There were lots of nice buildings and market stalls.

A lot of the shops had almost life-sized stuffed dolls sitting at the entrance.

We even spotted Johnny Depp! Well, his wax impression standing outside the House of Wax Figures.

We bought a hand made cast iron bell at this market stall. That's them at the very left hand side of the stall.

I also bought some linen in a lovely wee shop. A lot of the market stalls were selling tea towels, table runners, bags and so on made from exactly the same linen but a lot more expensive.

There were lots of stalls selling knitted and crocheted items. I liked this blanket; just noticed, though, that there's a red end not sewn in!

The flower market was amazing. So many beautiful flowers in every colour you can think of. This is just a very small selection.

After seeing all we could in the old town we headed back to our ship on the shuttle bus. There were four cruise ships docked one beside the other; it was an impressive sight. Ours is the second from the right. The photo was taken from the shuttle bus. The second photo gives you more of an idea of scale.

As we were sailing away from Estonia we had a thunder storm; it was over quickly; the only rain (actually hail) we had during the two weeks.

It took us until the 27th of May to sail to Copenhagen. This time we did a guided walking trip to see the main sights. There was plenty to see, especially as we were on foot. We stopped for a break and refreshments; coffee and, of course, Danish pastries. As you can see, there weren't many left!

I'll just let you scroll down through the photos to get an idea of what Copenhagen is like. The Little Mermaid is first in this group of photos.

We were taken to see the four royal palaces which are located in a large open court yard. Members of the public are welcome to walk about and sometimes catch a glimpse of one or other of the royal family. There are guards but they let you take pictures and look round so long as you don't touch the palace walls.

Our trip in Copenhagen ended with a canal boat ride. It was very hard to take photos from the boat and really the only one worth showing you is of the Danish royal yacht. The canal boat guide told us he'd seen a swan earlier in the day and that she had swanlings with her. He couldn't remember the correct word but he made a good attempt!!

Unfortunately that was our cruise over, apart from sailing back to Southampton. We really enjoyed it and can't wait to do another one, though it won't be for a while yet! Here are a few photos of my desserts and some of our cabin steward's towel art.

I did this block, made up of two-round Granny squares, to remind me of the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg.

It has taken me such a long time to do these posts about our cruise but now I can get back to some sort of normality. Here's something I did earlier today - picked some of our strawberries. Can't wait to eat them later.

Well, I hope you enjoyed the final installment of the cruise posts. Come back again soon for some more mundane stuff!