Wednesday, 25 August 2010

WIP Wednesday

So here's me taking part in What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday for the very first time! But I don't really have a workdesk at the moment... However I do have a WIP!

So here's me taking part in WIP (Work In Progress) Wednesday!

A little while ago I visited Woolfest, a wool based crafting fair in the lake district. I came away with numerous different goodies, including this rather beautiful skein of Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend. A very very pretty wool, but one that requires a little work before you can knit with it.

Mark is becoming super skilled a holding these skeins up whilst a turn it into a ball, something that really does require two people otherwise you just get into a big tangle... or alternatively a skein holder, a device I do not own, yet! I say yet as I have a feeling Mark will probably buy one for me just to eliminate his role in this!

However, I do think they look really pretty... both as skeins and when they are wound into a ball.

So this weekend Mark helped me wind this skein into a ball, and I started to knit with it. And currently it looks like this... a very long thin scarf! It actually looks thinner than it is, as it's curling back in on itself and will continue to do until it's blocked. But I'm loving the colour combination of this variegated skein.

And if you're particularly interested you can see what this scarf will hopefully look like, and get the pattern from Ravelry here.

So that's what I'm currently working on, and now I'm off to check out all the other wonderful things everyone else taking part is making.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Doing it digitally... LSNED

Once upon a time I used to be a scrapbooker. Yes really! Although to read this blog of late you wouldn't have known!

Somewhere along the line I fell out of love with scrapbooking. I actually can't remember the last time I checked out a scrapbooking shop, or even thought about making a page.

However more recently, now that life has calmed down slightly (i.e. college is over, I'm slowly settling into the new job and the house is slowly but surely coming together) I've been thinking about what scrapbooking means to me.

I still want to document my life. I still want to record more than just the photos I take. I want to record the story behind the pictures. I've also come to realise that time is an important issue for me; in the fact that I don't have enough of it! I love knitting of the fact I can pick it up and put it down with so little hassle.

Several years ago I bought a class from Shimelle... Learn Something New Everyday. It happens every September and once you've bought it you get to take part every year for no extra cost, and over the last few days I've seen this come up and several different blogs and it got me thinking. Maybe I'd like to scrapbook again?

My first reaction to this? "I don't have to scrapbook!"

But actually maybe I do... digitally!

I have image editing software, I have a laptop, I have a digital camera... surely that's all I need! No sorting through boxes of supplies, no making a mess, no clearing up said mess. Maybe this is just what I need.

So I've treated myself to a full digital kit. I've never bought digital scrapbooking supplies before... I was always a paper scrapper. And I'm sure deep down I still am, but right now I need to fall back in love with scrapbooking and I do think digital is the way for me to do it.

So I'm commiting to complete Shimelle's Learn Something New Every Day class... digitally. Eeek! And when I've finished I'll print the book on Blurb (I printed a portfolio book for my college photography coursework and I was very very impressed!).

I love this kit, it's so pretty and everything I love right now. Plus it all coordinates, and for the lazy days there's even page templates... hurrah! Fingers crossed, I'll be a scrapbooker again before I know it.

I'd love to know if you're taking part too so please leave a comment and let me know. If you're not and would like to, you can find out more details about the class here.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Finished Object {Cafe au Lait Fingerless Gloves}

Finally (if a little later than originally planned) something crafty to show you!

I finished these over a week ago, but have only had chance to take some photographs today. I love these, and I learnt loads making them... including how to SSK (slip slip knit incase you really wanted to know!) and also how to M1 (how to create a new stitch - how I made the thumb gusset). A lovely pattern, and best of all it's free!

Cafe au Lait on Ravelry. They are also part of the August KAL (Knit Along) on the Fingerless Gloves Fanatics group along with a prize if you post a photograph of 2 finished mitts before the end of August.

However they have also made me fall even more in love with expensive wool. These were knit with 100% Alpaca... not the easiest thing in the world to knit with but it's ridiculously soft. However it's not exactly cheap either!!! But it's worth it, as I don't have the time to be a hugely productive knitter I can afford to treat myself to luxury wool. However it does mean I have to knit with what I buy!!!

I am currently being very good and have been knitting up my stash of lovely yarn. I've got another finished object to show you (but you'll have to wait for another post for that) and I'm well on the way to my next one. All knitted with my stashed yarn, yay for me being good! Although is it terrible that I'm now considering what yarn I'd like to buy to make up for the dent in my stash haha!

Oh and just incase you think I've only knitted one mitt... here's the photo that proves I really did knit both of them!

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Emma, Emma, Quite Contrary, How Does Your Garden Grow?

{Photo Heavy Post}

With Silver Bells
And Cockle Shells
And Pretty Maids All In A Row

I love having my own garden. Although I enjoyed the one in the house we rented, as it wasn't mine I never felt like I wanted to invest a lot of time or money making any drastic changes.

The garden we have now is pretty standard. A rectangle with grass in the middle and straight borders around the edge. Although it does also have a really cool bit that sticks out at the bottom that currently houses my greenhouse and very shortly will also be home to my chickens! But more about that in another post...

I knew straight away that one of the main things I wanted to achieve in my garden was something that was attractive to wildlife. It also needed to be pretty, but as a general rule those two things tend to go hand in hand!

So in my first few trips to the garden centres with the intention of buying plants I've been looking for plants with three main characteristics...
  1. Attractive to wildlife... ok so that's pretty much a given isn't it!
  2. Pretty hardy (I live in the north of England and to be honest can't be bothered with the hassle of moving things/fleecing them for the frosts)
  3. Minimum maintenance. Ok so I don't mind some pruning etc but the last thing I want is a plant that needs an awful lot of input from me once it's planted. I just don't have the time!

And so far it seems to be working. Everything that's flowered so far has attracted plenty of wildlife. This ornamental German Garlic is currently in full bloom and as you can see is much loved by all manner of insects.

I can't remember the name of this one, but yet another plant that is well loved by wildlife, especially the butterflies!

However, as I don't have endless money to spend at the garden centres I've been doing what I can to get plants in other ways. Mark's Mum Yvonne has been brilliant in supplying me with many different plants from her lovely garden. Yvonne loves growing and propergating plants (and is a lovely knowledgeable companion for a walk round a garden centre - great for a novice like me!).

I've also been taking cuttings where I can. These cuttings of a Buddleia taken from my Mum's garden several weeks ago are really starting to thrive and I potted them on into bigger pots at the weekend and was pleased to see they've developed a really healthy root system.

I also took some new cuttings from my own garden at the weekend. My lavender plants that I bought a few months ago have really taken off with loads of new growth so I took a few cuttings with the hope of having lots of lovely lavender plants to put in my garden next year. They are still relatively small (and new) and so I took six cuttings in total (two from each of my three current plants).
As well as cuttings, I also have started sowing seeds in preperation for next year. As I really do hope to fill my garden with lavender (I'm hoping to plant a lavender hedge in the front garden!) I've also sowed some lavender seeds in the seed tray at the front of this photo. Lets hope next time I show you this seed tray it's full of lots of lovely lavender seedlings!

The seed tray at the back of the photo has also been sown, this time with lupin seeds! I love lupins... but so do the slugs and snails so I'm hoping to plant plenty next year in the hope atleast some will survive! Continuing on from the theme of obtaining things for free from other people's gardens these seeds where collected as seed pods from my Mum's garden a few weeks ago!

I'm also loving having a greenhouse in the new garden, a luxury I've never had before. Not only is this brilliant for my cuttings and seeds (meaning I can get a headstart for next year) but I'm also having lots of success with my vegetables.

My two peppers plants (I did have three but I gave one away to my boss at work) are doing well and are covered in lots of chilli peppers. Think I'll look at ways of preserving these as we'll never use them all fresh!

My cucumbers have also been a real success... we've already had several HUGE cucumbers off them already and currently have loads of cucumbers growing on them in varying stages of growth.

But the real star of the show is the tomatoes. We grew tomatoes with varying degrees of success last year... but this year they are fantastic. I've got five plants in total and they are doing amazingly well.

These three were given to me by a neighbour of Mark's Mum & Dad who had grown loads from seed and didn't know what to do with them all! They are a medium sized tomato (bigger than they look in the photo - about 2 inches in diameter) and are really juicy and sweet.

I also bought two different types of vine tomatoes as I love love love cherry tomatoes and buy them every week when we go shopping. It's lovely to not have to at the moment!

One plant produces typical vines of beautiful super sweet cherry tomatoes. They really are delicious!

The other one still produces cherry tomatoes, but in more of a bunch. Infact I think they almost look like a bunch of grapes!

If you're still with me after that marathon post well done! I'm loving my new found passion for gardening (even if Mark does laugh at me for buying gardening magazines and the fact I've put Gardener's World on series link!). However, as I'm sure you can imagine my garden combined with all the work on the actual house is taking up a huge amount of my time!

Oh and I promise the next post will be craft related, including a catch up with how I got on with my list last week.

Sneak Peak

The sweet peas, one of the first things I planted in the garden this year, are finally coming into their own with an abundance of flowers. I love how you can dot tiny little vases of flowers all over the house.

However, as I was taking this photo I realised I was actually giving you a bit of a sneak peak of our living room. It's still far from finished. Well, actually the room is pretty much decorated but as Mark is making new furniture for it we've still got a lot of old stuff from the old house in it at the moment.

So, for now I can't share the whole room... but I can share our newly completed fireplace.

When we bought the house it looked like this.

Which, to sum it up, is not our taste at all. In any way what so ever!!! Although, if you want to be specific, neither was the awful carpet & curtains, the embossed wall paper, naff plug sockets, chipped scuffed skirting boards... ok I think you get the point? LOL!

So, as with every other room we ripped everything out. When we moved in, we lived with a hole in the chimney breast for a while as Mark was making the fireplace. But now, it's finally in.

And I love it!

The fire isn't fitted yet, Mark's mate is coming to do it at the start of the week as the gas & electric work is the only thing Mark hasn't done himself. That also answers why the stones aren't in it yet.

However I really do love the fireplace. And it makes me realise just how talented Mark is... it's made out of solid surface (a man-made stone) and looks just like marble. The photo really doesn't do it justice at all.

You can also just about see our new real oak flooring. A bit of an improvement on the minging green carpet don't you think?!?! I'm quite chuffed with myself on this as I helped Mark fit it, and even laid some of the boards myself.

As I mentioned before though, the room isn't finished. We've got a temporary TV cabinet as the one from the old house is currently in Mark's workshop being modified. We are also getting a new coffee table, storage that matches the TV cabinet for the other side of the alcove and some little tables/boxes to go at either end of the couch that can have clutter put in them (like my wool!). So... as you can tell there's still quite a few bits of furniture to make yet!

I also haven't found a wallpaper yet. I've looked at loads, but haven't found one I like enough yet. I'm thinking horizontal stripes but haven't quite found "the one" at the moment. However that may well be subject to change!

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Demolition - Of the Home Making Variety {Part 1}

I'm not going to lie to you. Buying our first home has been (and still is!) hard work. Our house is particularly old, but neither is it a brand new sparkly new ready to move into home. It's about 40 years old; and when we bought it, it hadn't been touched for about 20 years.

This meant some drastic action before we could even think about moving in. When we got the keys, we had a big decision to make. Did we move into the house as it was and do it bit by bit, room by room?

Or did we take the plunge, hire a HUGE (actually it turned out to be several huge) skip and rip everything out?

We decided on the second option. And when I say everything, I mean everything. We ripped out the entire bathroom, the entire kitchen, all of the carpets, all of the skirting boards, doors and architraves, the window sills. The entire central heating and all the water pipes were ripped out, along with the old boiler.

And the wall paper all had to come off... this might seem like the least of the jobs I've mentioned, surely demolishing an entire kitchen and bathroom has got to be harder that stripping wall paper?

You have no idea! I think I'm still traumatised now thinking about it. Every wall and ceiling had wall paper on it. Layer, after layer of wall paper. It appears that prior to us no one had bothered to strip the previous wall paper and had simply paper over the top. The top layer (again including on the ceilings!) was an incredibly think embossed vinyl that at some point had been painted white with a really thick gloupy paint.

It was a complete nightmare to get off and the task of wall paper stripping seemed to go on and on forever. As we were doing most of the work ourselves, the task of wall paper stripping was mainly up to me, while Mark got on with the more technical task of removing and replacing the central heating system and other similar complicated things!

Thankfully we had help. From quite a few different people (all of which was gratefully received!) but none more so than Mark's cousin Craig who came to stay with us for quite a while to help us with the house. Without him helping me, I genuinely think the task of wallpaper stripping might have driven me mad!

However, it's amazing how quickly things change. Looking back at these photos (and the ones I took when we first bought it), it's hard to imagine now that it used to look like that. I'll be back soon with a post that shows a room from the start, through the work that took place and then finally the end result!

P.S. In other news I've done some more knitting on my shawl and have nearly finished my first hand warmer... so I'm certainly on the way to completely my "list"!

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Summer - Where did June & July go?

Was it really mid way through May when I last made a blog update? That's 2 and a half months ago... how did that happen? Well really it's not all that surprising considering in that time I've completed my final year at night school, moved house and started a new job!!!

But 1 at a time...

The new job is fantastic. Definately by far and away one of the best things I've ever done with my life.

Day trips out are normal, chatting is encouraged and it's quite common to find us in the pub for one reason or another having a "working lunch". Such a change for me! Recently we visited one of our Nature Reserves near the coast for a day out, and it was gorgeous weather. The purpose of the day? It was a team building day out for the conservation team (which includes me now, eeekk!) and we just went for a look round.

Can you see the rabbits in this picture? They just ran out of the bushes by chance as I went to take the photo!

Love how we all have backpacks with our packed lunches in... we really were like kids on a school trip haha!

I'm actually happy at work these days, which is a far cry from how it used to be. But I won't bleat on and on about my work life on here... except from to say once more how much I love it!!! I had a job I hated for a long time, so right now it's amazing to get up in the morning and not dread going to work.

While I've got loads to share, I won't bore you all with a huge post about everything I've been up to for the last 2 and a half months though. Instead, I'm going to steal a fab idea from my dear from Jenny and write myself a list of goals for the coming week (and hopefully encourage me to blog a bit more)....

1. Blog at least twice... to update you with everything that's been going on with the house!!!

2. Finish knitting the first skein of my lace shawl... it's grown a bit since this photo was taken and in total will take 2 skeins to complete. I'd like it to be 50% complete by the end of the week.

3. Make a start on some hand warmers with the amazingly soft 100% alpaca wool I bought in the Lake District at the weekend. I've been given a heads up my office can be cold in the winter so I'm already thinking ahead!

4. Get myself back to Stitch & Bitch... again with the aforementioned Jenny!!! The combination of everything that's been going on meant I just haven't had time for it, but I can't wait to go back.

As I'm not at work tomorrow, hopefully I'll back soon with some progress. XXX