Blog Archive

'Mystical Lanterns' blanket using leftovers!


There are times, in any knitting, crochet or sewing adventure when you just want to PLAY!  I am in one of those moments now.

Just before we went on holiday last week, I took out the pattern I had bought at Yarndale for Janie Crow's beautiful Mystical Lanterns blanket.  I had been sooo tempted to purchase the kit, but I knew I had a lot of 'odd balls' of yarn, left over from years' worth of projects, that I really should use up, so I just bought the pattern.  It would also help clear some space in my sewing room, so a double win!

I pulled out everything that was wool or wool blend, DK and in reasonably toning colours.  There was quite a bit of it!  

The motifs are called 'ogee' in shape (don't you just love that word??) and are very easy to memorise for relaxed crochet hours.

I am making the motifs fairly randomly, but not putting too many dark colours next to each other, or the red next to the purple (oh, no, no no, as that looked awful!)  

Here's what I have made so far!

I am doing the motifs in a production line way, by making a whole pile of centres, followed by a batch of second rounds, then the third round.  Once I have six motifs completed I darn the ends in. My friend, Lucy, Attic24, will be very proud of me for keeping up with darning the ends in as I go!

As I'm using leftovers from my stash, I am going to work the final round of each motif in cream, to help tie the colours all together better, and use Janie's 'join as you go' method in her pattern.  Again, because it's all oddments so far, I don't have equal amounts of each yarn, and seem to have used up a large proportion of the brighter and pastel colours already, leaving the colours below, which do seem a bit, well, brown.  Despite trying to make the blanket without purchasing any wool other than that for the edging, I am going to buy three or four balls in more cheerful colours to keep some colourful variety going!

I am absolutely loving this project, pulling out a new colour, the soothing rhythm of every round, and the joy of finishing each motif, and then deciding which is my 'new favourite'. Plus, it's a brilliant 'pick up' project for odd moments of time.  Thank you to Janie Crow for such a great pattern!

Now, is there time to do a couple of centres before I make dinner???  Hmmmm...  

Donna x 

Cod Beck Reservoir, Osmotherley.

Hello!  Well, here we are on honeymoon number 2.  Not too far away from home this time, in beautiful North Yorkshire.  We are staying at a fabulous little holiday cottage and are so comfortable and peaceful here.  My son joined us for a few days before returning to work, and DH and I stayed on for the rest of the week.

The weather has been glorious!  Perfect autumn days, and very warm too. We've been out and about with Daisy Dog, making the most of the sunshine.  

Today we went to Cod Beck Reservoir, near the pretty village of Osmotherley, on the edge of the North Yorkshire.  What a fabulous place for a picnic, a walk and to take in the views, along with lungfuls of fresh air.

We started with our picnic, sitting on (dry!) dog towels, as I had left the picnic blanket at home.  Just look at this view...

Full of cheese and cucumber sandwiches (us) and gravy bones (Daisy) we set off around the reservoir...

Dotted along the far side of the reservoir are some very attractive, modern bench seats, each with an engraved plaque to a loved one lost.  We sat for a while on the bench dedicated to Hope Elizabeth Farrow.  The dedication reads 'Our Songbird. For you the sun will be shining.'  This is the song I walked down the aisle to at our recent wedding.  I don't know who Hope is, but we sat awhile on her bench and thought of her, and how much someone must have loved her to have arranged such a poignant memorial in such a peaceful spot, full of natural beauty.  

We left Hope's bench in a reflective mood and continued our walk together...

We arrived back at the little car park and said to each other what a wonderful spot we had found to walk Daisy.  We chatted with a local lady and her friendly dog for a while and then headed back to our cottage for a cup each of Betty's hot chocolate.  A perfect day on our lovely 'second honeymoon'.

Donna x 

Knee High Socks part 2!

Hello and welcome to a short post on part 2 of my creative, experimental adventure into knee high socks!

Well, I have finished pair number 2, and here they are!

Rather an odd photo, but I am currently home alone on this overcast day, with not much natural light, so I had to try and photograph them with my feet on the windowsill.  Not easy, I can tell you!

Despite looking very long, they don't quite come up to my knees, which is probably a combination of a different yarn, and the fact these are narrower (a final working number of 56 stitches) so don't have as much 'give' in them.  For pair number 3 (the ones I am experimenting with the knitting in elastic) I am going to do extra leg rounds, as the yarn is the same King Cole Zig Zag.  The pair above have 145 leg rounds so I am going to up it to 160.  As a lovely lady said to me at Yarndale, at Winwick Mum's stand: "That's an awful lot of round and round".  Oh yes!  It certainly is!  I really do like knee high socks though, and the 'round and round' is good television/car/train journey knitting and goes quite quickly.  I wore pair number 1 all weekend at Yarndale and they kept my feet lovely and toasty!

I only just got this pair out of one ball of yarn, with just a tiny amount left over, so if I add even more rounds I am going to need 2 balls, one sock per ball, but the leftover from each ball will make a pair of 'normal' socks for DD.  She will be pleased!

Here are some stats for the above pair: (NOTE: Please see edit beneath stats!)

Original pattern:  Adapted from Winwick Mum's excellent Sockalong pattern 

Yarn:  King Cole Zig Zag - 'Summer'

Cast on: 64 stitches

Rib: 40 rounds

Decreasing:  Decrease one stitch each side of leg on rounds 50, 60, 70, 80 (including the rib) ending up with 56 stitches

Heel flap:  33 rows

Foot:  54 rounds (I have UK size 7.5 feet)

I have run shirring elastic loosely around the cuff as explained here, but I have high hopes of the knitting in elastic I am currently experimenting with, so will let you know how that works when I have finished pair number 3!

As I said above, I am going to increase the leg rounds to a total of 160, (including the rib), and I'm also going to add 2 more rounds to the foot, so a total of 56 rounds.  Again, I think the narrower leg and foot, giving a more snug fit, has less 'wiggle room'.  The upside is I can wear these ones with my favourite brogues as they aren't nearly as bulky.

EDIT:  I wore my new socks all weekend and I am going to make some more modifications!  The foot was really good and fitted well in my brogue shoes.  I am going to add 2 rows to the heel flap though as it is felt a little too snug over my high instep (I have difficulty finding comfortable boots due to my high instep). This is what Christine Winwick Mum, recommends here

HOWEVER, the main change I am going to make is to the top of the leg as it is feeling a bit too snug after several hours wear.  To do this I am going to go back to 68 stitches for the cast on, rib and top of the main leg part (as I did for pair number one) and then continue to decrease in the same way, i.e., every 10 rounds, to end up with 56 stitches.  That means I will decrease on rounds (including the rib) 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 and 100.  

I am going to frog pair number three that I am part way through, (taking a deep breath and whipping out the circular needle!) and start again, still with the knitting in elastic.  I'm determined to get this right!

As always, I will keep you updated!

This was meant to be a short post!!!!

Donna x 

Yarndale 2018

Hello!  Happy Monday to you all.

Well, what a great Yarndale weekend we had!  I was volunteering both days and had time as well to wander around, and make a few purchases :)

As ever, the atmosphere was fun and friendly.  I met so many lovely people, and there were over 200 wonderful exhibitors giving so much inspiration!

Waiting for the doors to open!
Lucy (Attic24) in the knit and natter lounge with her fab blankets!

Centenary Poppies

Miles of bunting!

Lucy's mandalas waving in the sunshine
Winwick Mum's famous 'Sock Line'.  Donated hugs for feet

Leeds Liverpool canal - in yarn!

This year's wonderful charity project - butterflies!
There were sheep of all description

I bought a skein of Eden Cottage Yarns' 'Titus 4ply', in colourway Crocosmia'. This fabulous yarn is 75% cashmere, 25% silk.  I bought some last year and made the softest, silkiest shawl/scarf, and this is destined for another! I also bought Winwick Mum's beautiful new book 'More Super Socks', which I am so excited about as I am determined to have a go at colourwork socks, following her excellent instructions.

I visited The Crochet Project to show them the shawl I made from their 'Fronds' pattern, which I had purchased last year.  I made it in Rowan 'Lima', and it's such a warm and cosy shawl, and I get such a lot of use from it.  They were kind enough to give me a free Crochet Project tape measure,  as a thank you for taking a finished item to show them.  This will be just perfect for keeping in my bag.

I have had my eye on Janie Crowfoot's 'Mystical Lanterns' blanket pattern for a long time, as I really fancied making a blanket from motifs next time, and these are such an interesting shape.  I was sooooo tempted by the beautiful kit, but I was very good and just bought the pattern as I have so many 'odd balls' of DK wool/wool blend yarn that I should really use up and make space in my sewing room.  I can't wait to get started!

It was a fabulous weekend!  If I had to pick my highlights they would be (as a volunteer) putting an entrance wristband on a child's stuffed toy elephant, and seeing someone 'pay forward' a ticket for a stranger.  There are some wonderful people out there, particularly, it would seem, in the creative world.

Donna x 


Hello!  Happy Friday to you all.

It's been a glorious day - sunny and warm - and I've had such a nice day.  I was up and baking scones bright and early this morning to take to a Macmillan coffee morning at a friend's house.  Such a great thing to get together to support and we raised lots of money, whilst enjoying lots of happy conversation and laughter.  I won a box of Ferrero Rocher in the raffle and also won the 'guess the weight of the cake' competition.  Obviously my lucky day!

Not only did I spend a couple of hours this morning in good company, eating cake, I also had a leisurely afternoon, as my friend from my former workplace came over and we had pots of tea and plenty of chatter. What a nice way to spend a Friday!

A couple of days ago the knitting in elastic arrived that I had ordered (from Amazon, as I haven't found a local stockist yet).  There are 200 metres in a reel and it cost £2, plus postage.  It's rather strange stuff, as it's gossamer light, incredibly stretchy, but feels surprisingly strong.  

Despite having several of projects on the go I started another knee high sock as I'm keen to let you know how it works.  I worked 40 rows of rib, as I have completed the first sock of my second pair of knee highs and have been testing it around the house (looking very odd, with just one sock on!) and it feels about right.  To use the elastic I just held it along with the yarn and knitted away as normal.  It was a bit slow to start, as the elastic doesn't slip off the needle quite as easily as the yarn, but I soon got used to it being there and completed the rib only a bit slower than normal.  Once the rib was completed I cut the elastic and left a long enough length to darn in later.

The elastic is hailed as being 'invisible' but I can see it a bit on the knitting, but not enough to bother me.  In any case, the tops of my socks are hidden in my trousers!    I will let you know how it holds my socks up once I have finished it!  I took a photo just now of the ribbing, but it's dark outside and so this is a pretty poor photo but you get the idea.  The yarn is King Cole Zig Zag, in colourway 'Wicked'.

This weekend I am soooo excited to be taking part, once again, in Yarndale, the wonderful, woolly festival in Skipton.  I am volunteering both days and also looking forward to having a good look around too.  I absolutely love Yarndale, and personally think it is the most interesting, most friendly, of all the yarny shows I have been to. 

Finally, as I've been in and out of the house today (mainly to eat cake) this happy sight has greeted me at the front door.  Pretty pink cyclamen and happy pansy faces.  What a beautiful day it's been :)

Happy weekend to you all, and I hope some of you are able to be at Yarndale too!

Donna x 

Full Circle

Hello!  Thank you for stopping by and a warm welcome to all my new readers, many of whom found me via my friend, Lucy, Attic24. Thank you, Lucy, for the thought provoking post, which followed on from our conversation in Cooper's about blog writing.  It really made me think that maybe waiting until I had something 'big' to write about meant I was missing out on chronicling the everyday minutiae that makes life the wonderful journey that it is.  After all, I won't always have a wedding to write about!!

Having said that, today I want to share with you my visit to my daughter and her partner, who have recently made the move from Oxford to Canary Wharf, London, in readiness for her start in the world of finance.

I am a Londoner originally and despite loving life in the beautiful North West of England, still have a bit of my heart in London.  My children and I have lived in several different countries but they have never actually lived in my home city, up until now.  So, last week, instead of journeying to London to see my late parents, or my sister, I was now going to visit my child.  Life has gone full circle.

I travelled by train, and had a pleasant journey (with plenty of knitting!) ending up at Canary Wharf station, to meet my daughter, who was going to accompany me by foot to their new home.  It was so wonderful to see her and there was much hugging in the middle of the street :)

Their apartment is lovely!  They showed me around and we had a delicious lunch before heading out to Greenwich, a short journey on the Docklands Light Railway, for a walk.  There is so much to see in Greenwich, but today we were there to walk, and we climbed the hill to the look at the Greenwich Meridian, home to Greenwich Mean time, of course!  The view from the top was extra special today as we were now looking across to where DD and her Lovely Partner (LP) live.  (The storm clouds were gathering at this point, but we made it home before the rain!)

Greenwich is home to the Cutty Sark, restored after a devastating fire in 2014, which in turn followed a fire in 2007.  It's a spectacular sight as you come around the corner from the station.  

Greenwich is also home to more of London's parakeets and we spent several minutes watching them feasting on nuts and berries in the trees.  This little chap was camera shy!

The following day DD and I went to the West End to do some shopping, and in the evening spent a happy time on the balcony as the storm had passed and it was a pleasant evening.  I could never tire looking at this view!   The buildings are almost majestic, and certainly awe-inspiring.

The following day, yesterday, the three of us had a leisurely lunch in the West End and in the late afternoon it was time for me to head back to Euston to catch my train home.  

Spending time with my daughter - chatting, laughing, snuggling on the sofa, is precious time indeed, and I treasure every single second.

Donna x

Knee High Socks


Since learning how to knit socks last winter, I have developed somewhat of a sock-knitting obsession (I was warned I would!)  Up until now I have used Winwick Mum's excellent pattern 'as is', just adjusting the size as necessary, and have knitted several pairs for my daughter and my husband (!)  

I thought it was time to knit some for myself, but the dilemma was that when I wear socks I only ever wear knee high ones.  When I explained this to my daughter she asked me why, and I said "Because I always have done!"  Not much of an answer really, and somewhat akin to saying "Because I said so".  I decided to have a go at adapting  Christine's (Winwick Mum) pattern to make knee highs, and here's what I did, giving full credit to Christine for the original pattern, which I highly recommend!

I wanted to end up with a main working number of stitches of 60, so to accommodate my calf, I cast on 68 stitches.  I worked 27 rounds of rib, hoping the extra rib will stop my socks from falling down (which is a pet hate of mine!)

Once the rib was complete I worked 9 rounds of knit.  On round 10 I decreased 1 stitch on each side.  I continued in the same way, decreasing 2 stitches on rounds 20, 30 and 40, ending up with the 60 stitches I needed.

I worked a total of 140 rounds (including the rib) and then carried on following Christine's pattern for the heel, foot etc.

Here are the finished socks!

I am really pleased with them, and they are just the right length.  I've been wearing them around the house and they feel great.  I am just a little concerned that when I wear them out all day they may slip down a little, but if they do I will try threading a little shirring elastic on the inside of the rib, not too tight, as I don't want to cut off my circulation, but just enough to give them a little more grip.  Next time I may also try increasing the depth of the rib too.  I will let you know how I get on.

UPDATE:  I've worn my knee high socks quite a bit now, and they are deliciously warm and toasty, and great for these cooler days.  However, they do work their way down, and I feel like a ten year old, having to stop and pull them up.  They also feel a bit loose on my feet, and I am wondering if I have started knitting more loosely, now that I am more confident as a sock knitter.  For my next pair I  cast on 64 stitches for the ribbing, followed the method above to decrease 2 stitches at a time, to give a final number of 56 stitches to see if that gives the snugger (is this a word??) fit that I like.  I am also making the ribbing even deeper - 40 rows of it this time!

However, for the pair above all is not lost!  I wore the socks for several hours, to stretch the ribbing a bit, threaded a wool needle with a long length of shirring elastic and ran several rows of stitches (about an inch and a half's worth) through the pairs of knit stitches on the inside, taking care to keep the ribbing flat and not to pull the elastic very much.  HOWEVER, I can't stress enough that is so important NOT to pull the elastic tight as that could be very detrimental to the circulation in the legs. Years ago I had deep vein thrombosis and, later on, surgery for varicose veins, so I am very mindful of not having anything tight around my calves.  This is the reason I wore the socks first, to stretch the ribbing, as it would make for much more relaxed elastic.  When the socks are on I can't feel the elastic at all, it doesn't leave any mark on my legs at the end of the day, but my socks stay up!  Yay!!

I also discovered a magical looking thing called 'knitting in elastic', which, as the name suggests, you knit alongside the yarn as you go.  It seems to be quite a traditional thing, used for ribbing on sleeves, hems, as well as socks, to help the ribbing keep its shape.  I have ordered some of this to try for the pair after the pair I am knitting (knit faster, Donna!!!) and will let you know how I get on with it.

I have also made another 'normal' pair for my daughter.  These are in King Cole Zig Zag, in the colourway of 'Wizard'.  My daughter is a huge Harry Potter fan and she loves them!

I would love to hear if any of you have made knee high socks and if so, how you keep them from slipping down!  Please leave a comment below if you have any hints or tips.  Thank you! x

Donna x 

Our Wedding

We got our official wedding photos from the photographer a couple of days ago and are really pleased with them.  Our photographer was lovely and really captured, I think, the relaxed and gentle nature of the day, as well as the fun we had. 

To respect our guests' privacy I will only add photos here of my new husband and I (ooh! I've just had a thought that I should change Patient Other Half to Darling Husband!) as well as little shots of inanimate objects.

DH (!) and I made a lot of our 'extras' ourselves, and spent months making boxes, making soap, sewing napkin wraps, and making bouquets.  My sewing room became Wedding Central, which is why I wasn't able to do any dressmaking for so long!  

Our theme was silver and lavender, which we based on my dress, which was silver Guipure lace with a subtle lavender hint to the lining.  I was originally going to make my dress but tried on some to get some ideas and DD really liked this one, so I bought it!  DH had a grey suit with lavender lining, and silver tie etc.

Our wedding party wore varying shades of silvery grey and lavender and looked a picture in themselves!

The flowers were a big challenge as I had never done anything like this before!  I read loads about making bouquets and asked questions of friends who had done this.  I started with my bouquet and DD's and we had silk peonies with dried lavender, gypsophila and 'feather grass', which I had never heard of but absolutely loved!  I ordered all my dried flowers and confetti from Daisy Shop and was delighted with everything I ordered and the speedy and secure delivery.  I had a lucky find with the peonies, discovering them quite by chance at TK Maxx, so bought the lot!

Armed with florists wire, florists tape and a mirror, I assembled our two bouquets finishing them off with a 'collar' of the feather grass to disguise the artificial stems.  I then wrapped them in ribbon and secured with a pin.  Mine was slightly larger than DD's but to tell them apart I added a silver heart charm to mine.

The little bridesmaids would have been overwhelmed with the huge peonies to I bought some Gerberas and constructed theirs in much the same way but on a smaller scale.  (I thought I had taken photos of the bouquets, but I can't find them anywhere!)

I needed some smaller flowers for the men's buttonholes so found some small silk roses, that I put together with the dried lavender - three roses for DH and 2 for the groomsmen.

I made a miniature bouquet to go on top of the cake, and also bought a blingy 'Happily Ever After' silver topper, as I felt we needed a tiny touch of bling!  All of the remaining flowers were arranged in a white china jug and used as a decoration in the hotel.

Next were our wedding favours, and we had decided a while ago to make soap with lavender essential oils.  We then decided to make boxes to put the soap in and they took ages! We were pleased with the finished results though, and the soap seemed popular with our guests (most of whom had been given soap previously as a Christmas or birthday gift, so were probably half expecting it!)  

The hotel provided crisp, white tablecloths and a choice of colours for the napkins, so we chose lavender.  The chair covers were white, with lavender organza sashes.  I wanted to add some more colour to the table so after much discussion with some friends at Cooper's Creative in Skipton, came up with a pattern for relatively simple tubes of floral fabric, pressed flat, with 1" white organza ribbon stitched on, with a 1/8" inch lavender ribbon on top of that.  I felt it needed something in the centre, so I found some pretty Tibetan silver heart charms on eBay, so stitched one of those in the centre.  To make it easy for the hotel staff to put them on I stitched a narrow strip of velcro on each edge so they could be quickly put on.  After they were in position in the table the hotel added a single stem of lavender, that I had pre-cut to size.  

When the photographer greeted me in the hotel room, she commented on how fabulously the dining room smelt, with the scent of English Lavender on the air, which is exactly what we had hoped for.

Our ceremony was at 3.30pm, and I enjoyed every single second.  I had been worried about being too nervous and/or emotional, but when it came to it sailed down the aisle on the arm of my son, and delighted in it all. My son and two close friends did readings, and they were so special. The registrar was lovely and put us all at our ease.  I wanted the ceremony to last forever but all too soon it was over.  The best bit, of course, was at the end of it being pronounced 'Legally Married' and all our loved ones clapping and smiling.  That was brilliant.

We had Pimm's and canap├ęs afterwards, followed by the official photos. We had purchased a range of garden games for entertainment and it was lovely to see people joining in and enjoying themselves. 

Next was our wedding breakfast, which was a four course sit down meal, and we had given our guests menu choices beforehand, plus choices for the people with dietary requirements. To help the hotel staff, and to speed up service, we printed each guest's choice on the back of the name card, which was just as well as several people had forgotten what they ordered!

After dinner we cut the cake and then people were free to either stay in the dining room, go out onto the lawn for more games, or visit the private bar, which was all part of the ceremony suite.  When darkness fell we moved some of the games inside to one end of the room and little groups of guests played giant dominoes, giant Jenga, and the very popular putting game!

We had chosen not to have a disco, as it is not something either of us are mad keen on, plus we had quite a small gathering.  We occasionally had concerns if there would be enough for people to do, but we looked around during the evening and saw groups of friends and family laughing and chatting, playing games, sitting in the bar,  relaxing on the verandah, and it was perfect - just what we had wanted.  The last guests left at midnight, and I think that is always a good sign!

It was a lovely and very magical day, and one that we shall always remember. 

Donna xx