Poor old Michael Finnegan…

image

….begin again! I don’t know the origins of the nursery rhyme ‘There was an old man named Michael Finnegan’ but since this post has absolutely nothing to do with that temporarily hirsute gentleman, it really doesn’t matter. It’s simply that the rhyme popped into my head as I was thinking that it was time to ‘begin again’ with my blog.

I can’t believe it is almost a year since I last put finger to keypad! It’s not as if I have had nothing to say (excuse double negative there). With my eldest son getting married a few months ago there has been plenty of material but somehow I haven’t felt a need to share it.

However, having just completed her Masters, my rather stunning and very talented niece has just joined the blogging community and she has inspired me to ….wait for it….begin again – are you humming the tune yet? So that’s it folks, no words of wisdom, no stunning revelations, just a few words to announce my reentry to to the blogosphere. Pop over to studiumliterarum and give her a few words of encouragement…maybe even a follow…whilst I get my act in gear for some stupendous insights into life, the universe and knitting (or not more likely ;-).

Finished it – now its time to start again!

Did you take part in the 2014 Finish It Challenge organised by Stitches and Scraps and Mollie & Claire? [If not, why not – don’t tell me you don’t have an unfinished project or three lurking somewhere in your house!]

Well I did and I’m doubly glad I took the trouble – not only do I now have a great top to wear when the sun shines ….but I also won a skein of SparkLynne 4 ply sock yarn from The Knitting Goddess, provided by Claire, in a beautiful pale blue with a hint of bling.

hand dyed, 4ply, 75% superwash merino Sparklynne by The Knitting Goddess

hand dyed, 4ply, 75% superwash merino Sparklynne by The Knitting Goddess

A huge thank you for providing us with the impetus for completing a project, donating super prizes….and to Claire especially for picking my name out of the hat 😉

Now I know exactly how I’m going to use this yarn…but not exactly what I’m going to do with it……so suggestions please.

My son and his fiancee are getting married next spring and they are basing their colour palette around ‘the sea’. The colour of the yarn would fit perfectly and it feels right that, having received the yarn as a stroke of luck, the luck should be passed on to two people starting their life together.

But what could I use it for (100g, c.400m) – ideally something that can be used both on the day and afterwards? It may be sock yarn but I can’t see either of them tripping down the aisle in pale blue, sparkly socks! I was thinking possibly about a large doily/small tablecloth as a centre piece to the top table, but my creative juices have yet to start flowing so ideas wanted please – knitting or crochet, I enjoy both.

Golden rules of blackberrying!

Have just come in from picking blackberries in our garden – seems to be a bumper crop this year.  It is wonderful to be able to enjoy this free bounty – even if it does mean that autumn isn’t far away.

I’m sure that many of you will also be indulging in this pastime over the next few weeks so I thought it would be worth reminding you of ….

The golden rules of Blackberrying

  1. If you want to find the lushest and easiest to pick crops, make sure that you have absolutely nothing with you in which to put them when you’ve picked them. If you go out armed with boxes you are guaranteed to pick less than a dozen.
  2. No matter how many fat juicy ones are within easy reach, make sure that you reach into the densest group of prickly, scratchy branches and stinging nettles  in order to pick one more.
  3. Always ensure that the youngest member of your party is placed in the closest proximity to any stinging nettles.
  4. Do try to wear shorts and sleeveless tops so that the brambles have the maximum amount of flesh to attack.

I may have missed a few, but I think most of the essentials are there 😉

However, stick them in a pie or crumble with a dollop of ice cream or custard and the pain is all worthwhile – happy picking!

At the going down of the sun…

…and in the morning, we will remember them. I’ve just come back from visiting a local church which was holding a flower festival to commemorate the fallen, and those who returned, from WW1. It is very moving to see the wide variety acts of remembrance taking place in the UK and world-wide.

The church display included some clay poppies made by children at the local school – very touching, not quite as flamboyant as the spectacular display planned for the Tower of London. This  new installation by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper commemorates all British deaths from WW1.  A total of 888,246 red ceramic poppies will be arranged around the tower, including a cascade of blood red poppies pouring from a turret window. It is hard to imagine what that number means, but this sea of red will truly help to visualise the human toll.

A_cascade_of_Poppies_

Of course, the vastness of the numbers hides all the individual sorrow and heartache that was experienced as loved ones received the dreaded telegram and had to come to terms with loss (something that still continues today – sadly WW1 wasn’t the war to end wars).

I was researching my own family history recently and came across a facsimile of the telegram my great grandma would have received telling her that her 22 year old son had been killed – the same age as my son now. Luckily her other son (my grandfather) survived (or I wouldn’t be here writing this of course) but how she must have worried until he returned home safely. In honour of my deceased and surviving relatives from WW1, and as a bond across the years from one mother to another, I created my own small commemoration in the form of a tea and cafetiere cosy, which I would like to share on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the day war broke out.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

by John McCrae

Window on the world

I think this bathroom looks stunning!

stoptheglare

Unusually shaped windows in a home can be a wonderful feature – round, arched, trapezoidal – adding interest and charm. If you have them the last thing want to do is hide them away behind curtains.

But with so many simply stunning alternative window stylings available why would you want to? Depending on the location of the window and your individual design needs and taste, there’s really is a solution that is perfect for you!

Here are some examples………..

TS_Windows_style_Cafe_Bathroom_brochure_two

In this lovely bathroom, cafe style blinds have been used to great effect to maintain privacy, add a touch of colour, let in the light and retain the arched shape.

TS_Shutters_Shaped

On the ground floor, more privacy might be required, so shutters would be a good choice. The shutters can be fitted flush with the window and shaped to fit the contours of the window as above.

TS_Shutters_Cafe_Style_one

Alternatively, cafe style shutters work particularly well…

View original post 39 more words

Great views – but presumably after paying for the apartment they couldn’t afford cupboards?

stoptheglare

Living+Room+1

Seeing images of the new luxury apartments at Battersea Power Station  took my mind back to a previous life in the mid 80s,  directing a creative photo shoot inside the power station with the backdrop of huge turbines.  Even then, it was obvious from my early architectural training what a wonderful gallery space it would make – and its potential to provide luxurious riverside accommodation. I’m delighted to see this coming to fruition – even if it has been a long time in gestation.

What the architects  have done with the space is awesome however, I’m not too keen on some of the furnishings. The bathroom is to die for – although maybe I’d need a diving board to get into it! The huge windows are fabulous, but are crying out for powered Duette or Silhouette blinds to control temperature and light – whilst still allowing the fabulous view to be…

View original post 16 more words

Finish(ed) It Challenge 2014

If a picture speaks 1000 words, this blog is going to be 3080 words long! But what more is there to say  – apart from a big thank you for the motivation from the Finish It Challenge, courtesy of whom this collection of ageing Emu Coolspun…

Finish It Challenge before

Finish It Challenge before

…has now transmogrified into a summer top!

Finish It Challenge 2014 After (1)

Finish It Challenge 2014 After (1)

Finish It Challenge 2014 after (2)

Finish It Challenge 2014 after (2)

And we even have sunshine so I can wear it! Plus I have a skein left over – hat or bag?

Button heaven

I

Just spent a sunny Saturday afternoon wandering through the streets of the lovely and historic Shrewsbury. So many delights from the Tudor buildings to the floral displays, the medieval castle and churches to the street entertainers – which, considering its distance from the sea, strangely included a sand artist?

Found a lovely craft market in the main square run by ‘Made in Shropshire‘, a collaboration of artists, designer- makers and food producers who live or work in Shropshire. Beautiful products on display (not least the meringues the size of my face!!) and what a good idea to unite disparate local artisans under a common (and meaningful) brand in this way.

Of course, as well as drinking in all the history, I did have a weather eye open for a yarn store. Sadly I didn’t find it although apparently there is one – what happened there then? I am now ashamed to hold my head up in the company of other yarn junkies as I should have been able to sniff out a dealer from a mile away!

However, I did find a lovely fabric shop, Watson & Thornton, which also boasted an extensive haberdashery section – including the wonderful wall of buttons you see in the picture. It really was a most wonderful selection of shapes, sizes and colours and looked as much like a work of art as a product display. I was very good and only bought a few that I needed for specific projects (okay, so maybe I haven’t started those projects yet but hey, I could only resist so much temptation) but in the words of Mr Schwarzeneggar….I’ll be back!

Blue Sky thinking

I love the blue shutters – beautiful, peaceful colour!

stoptheglare

A blog from Clever Designs plus a drive through Rugeley, Staffordshire today got me thinking about the versatility of blue in interior and exterior design.

Take the use of blue to disguise what is basically a tin shed! Amazon’s logistics centre in Rugeley, Staffordshire has been described as “a smear of summer sky on the damp industrial landscape” and as I drove past today I could understand exactly what they were talking about. I wish I could have got a picture but there was nowhere to stop – this artist’s impression at least gives a flavour of how the colour gradation blends into the skyline.

Soft sky blues can be used to create a relaxed and tranquil atmosphere anywhere in the house, not just in the bathroom, often associated with blues.  Here, Thomas Sanderson shutters have been used to great effect to add style and elegance to patio doors.
TS_Shutters_Classic3

Midnight blue blinds have…

View original post 42 more words

Finish it Challenge – works for me!

 

Finish It Challenge before

Finish It Challenge before

Just wanted to say a big ‘thank you’ to Mollie & Claire and Stitches & Scraps for getting their ‘Finish it Challenge’ off the ground! If any crafter told me they didn’t have an unfinished project (or three) sitting in the back of a cupboard I simply wouldn’t believe them! The one I chose to complete for the Challenge was something for me…which is probably one of the main reasons why it isn’t finished.

About 18 months ago I was given some Emu Coolspun by a friend who found it when they clearing an elderly relative’s house. Coolspun is a knubbly cotton yarn and since it was in my favourite cornflower blue and there was enough for a summer top I decided to make something for me for a change. However, the yarn obviously came off the market years ago so all patterns were really dated – I found something that looked okay in a similar yarn and got started about April last year…. but could I get the sizing right?? Anyway, after unpicking and starting from scratch twice (which is a real pain as the little knubbles get stuck all the time), summer had turned into autumn so my pretty summer top gave way to winter and Christmas projects and it sat forlorn and forgotten……

….until the Finish it Challenge came along! I’ve now found a new pattern that works really well and it’s growing rapidly because I’ve got excited about it again – and it will be finished in time to wear in Summer. So thank you again ladies – will post the ‘after’ picture when it is completed.