Friday, 22 April 2011

The Perfect Venue

Out and About
This is Stoke Rochford Hall near Grantham in Lincolnshire where our friend had her wedding reception last weekend. It is a spectacular Victorian Country Mansion and was shown off in all it's glory by the wonderful weather.
After a lovely service at church we had drinks and photos in these superbly kept gardens. The children and the happy couple frolicked on a bouncy castle!
This was followed by a delicious meal in a stunning room which is also a library. Eating amazing food surrounded by good literature - sounds too good to be true.

There were also some incredible fire places to congregate around and awesome ceilings to look at whilst partaking of post meal drinks and a band played in the orangery well into the night.

The next day was gloriously hot and we took another turn about the grounds and took even more photos.

What a place. What a wonderful day. This post is dedicated to Rachel and Paul - Thank you for inviting us. May you have a very long and very happy marriage.
I hope you all have a lovely Easter holiday and enjoy the other wedding that everyone is talking about!! I am having a short break from blogging next week but will be back again soon. xx

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Let's Celebrate

Homely Matters

Easter preparations are officially under way in this household.

Every year it brings out the same old friends. Can I introduce you to Heidi and Olga. My beloved Easter bunnies found at a market and loved to bits. They are so very vintage looking and I love everything about them. They are two of my favourite finds.

This is my hen. She doesn't have a name but is also very loved as she was my very first project on a sewing machine, thanks to my lovely friend Lisa who showed me how to make him.

And no Easter celebrations would be complete without a host of chickens!

How are your Easter Preparations going? Why not boil up some eggs and get a few friends to help you decorate?

Have yourself a wonderful jolly Easter with all the trimmings xx

Monday, 18 April 2011

Woolly Spires

Talking Textiles

Hellooo. I hope you had a wonderful weekend. We went to a fabulous wedding at an incredible venue which  I will be sharing with you in my 'out and about post' on Friday. Today I was going to talk about felting but I decided to leave that for another day as I wanted to show you these photos of the gorgeous church where our friends got married. The church is St Denys Church in Sleaford, Lincolnshire. The real thing is very impressive to look at but I confess I was even more impressed with the woolly version made by local knitters.

It is very intricate and close attention has been paid to detail. I couldn't resist taking photos.

Isn't it lovely? I really love the crookedness. It was so tactile I had to go and touch it and the roof was felt like.

Those wonderful arched stained glass windows and the fancy ballustrade on the roof must have taken ages to create.
What do you think? Have you ever knitted anything or seen anything else knitted that's as unusual as this? xx

Friday, 15 April 2011

Dreaming of Summer

Out and About

We had a little taste of Summer recently but then it all changed again back to cloudy days and drizzly rain here. Those few days of better weather got me dreaming of Summer. One of the most lovely things we did last Summer was have a little trip out on a friend's barge and they have recently invited us to do it again this year. I'm really looking forward to to it. We started with fresh coffee and muffins on the deck, enjoyed the views along the canal and watching all those other lucky people who were also on their barges. Some of the barges were really pretty and had little gardens on the top of them.

 On this particular trip, we ended up in Cheshire. This is Dunham Massey, a beautiful Georgian House set in 300 acres of land. Who knows where we'll get to this year. (Apologies for the photo being slightly wonky - this could have had something to do with the fact that we also shared a good bottle of wine together during the day!)

This land is also shared by a large number of deer who can be seen roaming around freely. You can get quite close to them but it is not so easy to get them to look at the camera!

The grounds are extensive and we enjoyed a lovely walk deer spotting and looking at the huge trees which we came across.

As well as the lovely trees and gardens, we also came across this fellow- aptly named 'Old Stumpy'. I hope to see him again sometime.
This weekend we're out and about for a different reason. We're travelling to Lincolnshire for a friends wedding, so I'm really hoping that good weather will return. Hope to see you on Monday for more textile talk. Have a lovely time this weekend whatever your plans are. xx

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

The Start of Something New

Homely Matters

Like everyone else in the UK I have been enjoying the unusually warm weather lately and haven't felt like doing much baking. So instead I have battled through my crochet frustration and today I managed a granny square at long last. In no small part, this is thanks to Kandi of kandipandi encouraging me along the way. Once again I am soooo pleased to have finally mastered this. I have to admit that this granny is humungus in size as I crochetted it on a massive hook so I could see properly where the holes are to crochet into!! But as you can see it is a distinct improvement on previous efforts. It needs a little neatening and some down sizing but I think I've cracked it. Onwards and upwards - now I can try all sorts of yummy colour combinations.

My wool and my 5 double pointed needles arrived ready for me to attempt some sock knitting. It's lovely wool - it looks pinkish on the photo but is actually lilac and really soft. I think this project will be taking a back seat to my crochet for a while though as I don't feel quite so much like knitting snuggly socks in this weather. The five needles are a little daunting too!

I've also just recieved a lovely parcel of Merino wool tops from Wingham Wool which has inspired me to make some pre-felts ready for a new project. I have been in love with felting for about a year and a half now and it still amazes me how it felts with just water, soap and elbow grease. I'll be talking more about felting in my 'talking textiles' post next Monday if you're interested. Don't you just love getting new goodies? Even if you've had to part with hard earned cash to get them, they still feel like presents!! There is nothing quite like the start of a new project.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Crochet is My Frustration

Talking Textiles

Sadly this is not one I crocheted earlier! This is one I found at a charity shop and I love it. I can knit a tea cosy, I can felt a seamless bag, I can bake a cake, I can make handmade paper, I can cook a meal from scratch, I can even spin a skein of wool (well kind of) but I cannot crochet a granny square. No matter how many times I try- it just isn’t happening. I’ve watch endless utube videos, followed  attic24's wonderful tutorial/pattern and even went on a day course but I just can’t get it. It’s starting to really annoy me now. My squares are not square and I can’t seem to identify the right holes to stitch into. Don't laugh!

Somebody please tell me that I can master this. Someone out there please give me hope. I long for a perfectly crocheted square – not a blanket or even a cushion cover, just a little baby square! I can do the stitches on their own – chain, single, double and treble crochet but it all goes to pot when I try and make that square and I’m not even thinking about changing colours yet.  Help! It really shouldn’t be this hard – should it?

I wish I had lots of my own lovely crochet photos to show you but this is real life and the truth is I just don’t, but when I do, you will be the first to know. In the meantime I shall share with you my knitting project instead! Here is the finished tea cosy which I promised I would show you.

Anyone for tea? x

Friday, 8 April 2011

Cuerden Hall

Out and About

This is the face that greets you when you visit Cuerden Hall. I think He’s wonderful. You could miss him too if you weren’t looking up!  So glad I was.

It seems that Mr K and I are developing a new custom of visiting local farmers markets and old halls on Sundays and this one was another fine example. Cuerden Hall is currently used by The Sue Ryder Charity so we couldn't go inside but it is very interesting to look at from the grounds.

The gardens were all bursting into bloom too which made for a particularly enjoyable afternoon stroll.

Impressively the market itself had over fifty stalls and some of them were quite unusual. This carpentry stall caught our eye. The wooden flowers were amazing and we couldn’t resist buying some of the giant coloured pencils.

Mr K had a hog roast and I had a burger for breakfast (mmm.. healthy!) and we stopped to look at some of the birds of prey which had been brought to display.

As well as all of that, I managed to pick up some curtains for a pittance in a barn sale which was also in the grounds of the hall. They will make some nice cushion covers, a bag or even a skirt! What a great place.

As always – enjoy your weekend whether you are out and about enjoying Spring or relaxing at home. I intend to do a bit of both xx See you soon

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Window Sill Produce

Homely Matters

We have no garden and no outside space to call our own but what we do have are four very large window sills, two of which get plenty of sun in the summer time. Last year I grew peppers and chillies for the first time. They were quite successful. 

That is more than I can say for the tomato plants which grew very tall, took over a little too much and produced zilch! Not quite sure why. There’s probably a perfectly simple explanation but I have no clue and before you ask - yes I did feed them with tomato food! So this year I’m having another go at planting. I’m going to try lots of herbs – and a few other things. I was thinking of trying some lettuce but I’m not sure what a good variety is to grow on a window sill. Any advice?

In November last year, I was given a lovely unusual chilli plant by my brother who said the seeds had come from South America and that the chillies are extremely hot.  It has been looking very sorry for itself. The leaves seemed to be wilting and I didn’t think it was going to make it but it has surprised me with some new baby chillies, which I’m very pleased about. I quite fancy making chilli jam this year if I get enough.

 I know we are only very small scale gardeners but it's still very satisfying to eat some of our own produce. If you have done any window sill gardening please let me know of your successes.

To those of you who who are lucky enough to have gardens, I hope you are making the most of them! xx

Monday, 4 April 2011

Saturday's Sewing part 2

Talking Textiles

Well I did it – I finished my skirt. I did have a little help along the way but I can honestly say I achieved my aim to make a garment.

As some of you will know I have been on a two part sewing course to make a skirt.
In this weeks lesson I learnt how to make a waistband and attach it (this was actually the hardest part of the project for me as the waistband was smaller than the top of the skirt and needed manipulating somewhat whilst sewing it on.) I found that I ended up having too much skirt material bunching together in one area and I had to unpick my stitches to smooth it out. Not sure how I’ll get on when I make one completely on my own. To finish the waist band we had to under sew just underneath the band, which was also a little tricky but I managed it by going very slowly.

We learnt how to do a button hole – not much to learn actually as the machine had an automatic buttonhole function which made light work of it. My machine is not quite so fancy so will take a little more effort.

After the buttonhole and sewing on the button, we just had the hem to do. I was sure it would be wobbly but it came out quite well.

So there you are. Skirt number one finished. I am inordinately proud of this achievement! I love it but now I need to buy a pretty top to go with it!

Not satisfied with one summer skirt I have been fabric hunting again. I was perusing at the charity shop last week when I came across a wonderful bargain - two duvets covers which look unused. They are both 100% cotton and were from Marks and Spencers originally. They have different patterns on each side which means four options to choose from and they were only £3.00 each. Can’t beat that really now can you? Here is a peek at my favourite.

I already have another skirt cut out and hope to do some more sewing whilst it’s fresh in my mind.
If you have never made anything I would encourage you to book on a course as it’s so much fun and you get something no one else has at the end of it. x

Friday, 1 April 2011

Anyone for Dirty Carrots?

Out and about at Hoghton Towers.

Don't you just love a good farmers market? I do, especially when it's set somewhere rather special like Hoghton Towers. We didn't go in the hall this time but plan on going back as it was so beautiful. Hoghton Tower is a grade one listed building which was originally built in 1109 and rebuilt in 1565. It has had many distinguished guests including King James 1st, William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens.
On this occasion we were there for the market and to look around the grounds. For a farmers market it was a good size. There were all the stalls you would hope for - several selling local meat, locally grown fruit and veg, jams and chutneys, homemade soaps etc. I treated myself to some lovely meringues and some gluten free chirizo. The vegetable stall had plenty of choice including 'dirty carrots' at the same price as ordinary carrots!! Presumably they attract people like me who would like to grow their own but aren't able to. They are the next best thing I suppose.

Anyway I couldn't resist a lovely string of onions to hang in the kitchen. They look so wonderful and are so very handy to have in. I especially love red onion gravy with my sausage and mash!

After stocking up on a few supplies we had a quick look round the grounds although the weather wasn't so great. (As you can see on the photo at the top - not the best day for taking pictures) We had worked up a healthy appetite by now, so we headed off to a local country pub for lunch and sat by this lovely roaring fire reading our latest magazines. A perfect end to the trip.

This weekend I go for part two of my sewing a skirt course and will be back on Monday to show and tell. Thank you for stopping by. Have a lovely weekend xx
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