Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Frozen, New Years Eve walk

frozen crops

red berries
frozen grass
friendly resident red robin (at the bottom of my road)
frozen pond (feeding the ducks)
I woke this morning to very frosty weather but no snow (yet). I woke earlier than normal. I've had the flu over Christmas so the extra sleep my body needed has helped get me back on the right track. I started my swimming again on Monday this week with use of the steam room and sauna, which is great for clearing nasty bugs. It was good to have a long cold winter walk this morning, looking at the wildlife where we live and feeding the local ducks and red robin and reflecting on 2014. A local resident feeds the robin by hand every day so it was no surprise that he followed me over to the bird table near the pond at the end of our road. We are so very lucky to have access to open fields to walk Moss and we see so many different birds. Living close to a bird reserve we get to see many birds and my husband is always pointing them out, today it was fieldfares.They are like colourful thrushes, and they gather together in colder months keeping each company sometimes in the hundreds. Our local ducks and Coots woke to a frozen pond, we always keep some bread for them although its not the tastiest food when its that cold it helps. Today I've been take down the Christmas cards and tree and giving the house a clean - I like to start a New Year without the worry of clearing away all of that stuff. I'm currently knitting another blackberry beanie, funny I started the year knitting one back in January and now I'll end the year knitting one, totally un-planned. I've been wearing the first one a lot recently, after swimming it keeps my head warm and looks nice too. It's an easy pattern to follow and blackberry stitch isn't very difficult once you get the hang of it and it makes for a very cosy hat. I'd like to wish all of you a Happy New Year and thank you for popping by to read my ramblings, see you next year!

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

hand knitted Christmas gifts

I've just finished another moss stitch snood for one of the girls at my hairdressers, I think she will like it. She requested burgundy to go with her winter coat. I still have yet to finish my grey scarf, but that can be completed whilst I'm on a weeks rest from work!

Another project is this one started just over 4 months ago. Last night and previous nights I was knitting until way past midnight, and I only have one row to knit tonight, sew in ends and wrap it up - yeah! I took the photos very late last night so the lighting wasn't too good! I decided to pick up and knit the longest edge adding a new border of 5 coloured rows, it works very well I think. I just hope the recipient likes it!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

its looking a lot like Christmas!

White Hyacinth (Morrisons £2.50) in my Orla Kiely herb pot, looks great

white carnations and sea holly sprayed with glitter (Sainsbury's)

Christmas presents slowly being wrapped

M&S Christmas cake, yummy

hand-made gingerbread man from my niece Yasmin, red heart made by me!

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Moss loves Move Easy dog food

We’ve been a little worried about our dog Moss recently. If he’s been on a long walk he comes home with a slight limp and I've affectionately nick named him Mr Limpy!  Springer Spaniels are thought to be a handful to own and need a lot of exercise so I worried when this started. True they can be quite springy when they are young but with the correct training, obedience and maturity they make the most affectionate clever companions and we were so lucky to have the opportunity to rescue him back in 2010. I guess he’s more than a pet to us and we treat him like another member of the family taking him on family holidays and spoiling him sometimes. But then any Spaniel owner will tell you they take over your life and your heart.

The ships dog on the Norfolk Broads with captain Derek Hurrell, October 2014

So off in search of some advice and help with this we decided to revisit a product that we’d introduced into his diet when we first rescued him. He was 11 months old then, dirty, smelly, full of ear mites, a parasite living in his stomach and generally run down. We started to add Bionic Biotic to his diet and I’m not sure why we actually stopped. We ordered a tub straight away to supplement his current food.

Moss loves Move Easy, November 2014

I contacted Pooch and Mutt to tell them all about Moss and our worries. Sam Southwell came back to me immediately and offered a free trial of Move Easy grain free, natural complete food. The bag arrived within a couple of days and we began to add this to his evening meals. We were amazed at how quickly the product worked, honestly within days his limping was going and we gave him lots of rest too. Moss loved it so much he removed some of his other food to search out the yummy salmon pieces! (see picture above) He finished the bag last week much to his frustration but I found that we could add it to our weekly shop at Ocado, which is so handy. You only have to show Moss the bag and he sits down and grins at you, he loves it and it has helped so much with his front leg and the Bionic Biotic has made his coat so shiny. It’s a routine now to add these to his evening meal but I have to admit he also has this as a treat too, which isn't a bad thing.

Move Easy grain free is a single-animal protein source, complete food for dogs who have mobility issues or who are highly active. It contains 45% salmon (one of nature’s richest sources of the omega 3 EFAs that are essential for joint well-being). Why grain free? Many dogs struggle to digest foods that are high in grains (including corn and wheat). Intolerance  to grain can manifest in many ways, such as digestive discomfort, itchy skin and sub-optimal health. Spaniels are known to have tummy problems but not with this food.

But don’t just take my word for it (of Moss) you can order a sample to try out on your dog and I’m sure you’ll see the difference just as we did, It’s the best decision we made.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

merino knitted blanket and makes

I love this time of year, sitting in front of the TV knitting or crochet a blanket. I knit every night when I can and this week these are the things I'm completing. Well the wash cloth I finished on Sunday night, a quick crochet pattern edged with bright pink, all 100% cotton and lovely to use in the shower.

crochet wash cloth

I'm also working on spa cloths for my mum in DB cotton. I found this colour in John Lewis on Saturday and have almost finished the first one.

This blanket started out as a baby one, found here at Purlbee and I liked knitting it so much it is now almost an adult blanket to be gifted at Christmas (shhh). I love Debbie Bliis wool and this merino one has great stitch definition even when you are just using garter stitch. Its easy enough to stop and pick up again or add to as you find more wool. My plan is to finish it this week then pick up and knit along the long edge to create stripes in the opposite direction. Its very tactile, warm and snuggly and I have enough wool in other colours to knit myself one. That is when I've stopped knitting all the Christmas presents!

Debbie Bliss Rialto DK blanket

Next on my list is another Moss stitch snood, the pattern can be found here. This is for the lady who  manicures my nails and puts up with my endless ramblings at the hairdressers! She said she loved snoods and couldn't find one in burgundy. Well guess what? I found the wool and plan to start it once the blanket is done. So I have plenty to keep me busy during December and well into January. What projects are you currently working on?

Oh I almost forgot to show you my John Lewis free tote bag, cute and perfect for transporting knitting projects

mu John Lewis tote bag

Monday, 17 November 2014

our spa weekend away

We took off for a spa weekend to celebrate our wedding anniversary (24 years on the 24 Nov) and stayed in the Hythe Imperial, Kent. After reading reviews from previous guests I was a little worried about what to expect with our weekend away; they didn't paint a very rosy picture of the Imperial Hythe. I’m not entirely sure what other people were seeing or complaining about to be honest; they didn't give a fair review and only commented on the negative things they found (some people will moan for the sake of moaning). A good review should have an even balance of information for the perspective guest, good and bad. From the moment we walked into the hotel we were given a warm welcome, with friendly and knowledgeable staff.

the Hythe Imperial

We were given a junior suite on the 4th floor with dual aspect windows with sea views, which was perfect for us considering we had booked a standard double. The Romney Suite we were allocated was excellent, tasteful d├ęcor and very clean with a large bathroom - ticked all the boxes. Previous guests moaned about the old decor to the hallways on upper bedroom floors. The corridors could do with a lick of paint and new carpet, but you don’t sleep in the corridor and it added to the charm of the Victorian building!

Romney Suite

our suite

early morning visitors

sea view from our bedroom

The ground floor of the hotel has had an extensive makeover, bright and welcoming and reminds me of hotels I stayed in as a child.  The ladies powder room had the most amazing toilets and sinks and lovely spa hand wash and lotions. Sorry I forgot to take pictures of the entrance and restaurant.

the powder room on the ground floor

powder room

The spa facilities were perfect for relaxing on a rainy November afternoon, offering a steam room, sauna, Jacuzzi and pool. We stayed there for a good few hours.

the Spa entrance

We opted for the inclusive meal in the Coast restaurant; which included dishes from the a la carte menu but highlighted in blue for inclusive guests, which was a bit silly as they were the same dishes. The whitebait and crab starters were excellent.

after dinner coffee in the bar

night view

After a restful sleep we finished our weekend with the excellent breakfast buffet, which was laid out in the restaurant. We can’t wait to visit again early next year.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

knit or crochet a poppy (Remembrance Day 2014)

my first attempt to crochet a poppy

Poppies are everywhere at the moment, the huge display at the Tower of London (Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red). Celebrating the WWI centenary this November. I thought I would join in and knit and crochet myself a poppy, I found this easy to follow pattern of just 12 rows. Or could try the crochet ones instead. I have made donations over the weekend and bought the paper and metal poppies but I plan to wear one of these on my coat. I'm now addicted and have crochet another 8! The other pattern for the one on my coat can be found here at Addicted to Making blog. You can also find another free crochet pattern here on the Wendy Poole web site.

Easy ribbed poppy pattern
Colour A 1 ball red yarn (this will make a lot of poppies)
Colour B Scrap of black yarn or black button
Body of Poppy
Using Col A Cast on 60 stitches
Row s1 –10 : K2, P2 across whole row(for a slightly smaller poppy do 8 rows of rib).
Row 11 : Knit 2 stitches together across the row (30 stitches). 
Row 12 : Slip 1 stitch, Knit 2 stitches together then pass the slip stitch over... repeat 
across the whole row (10 stitches).
Break off yarn with long tail and thread back through remaining stitches and pull tight. 
Join edges with mattress stitch
Centre of Poppy
Using B, cast on 16 sts. Cast off. Coil into a tight spiral and sew base to the centre.
Or use a black or green button with 4 holes and sew to centre of poppy. Add pin.
Crocheted Poppies
You will need some red wool and a black button.

Crochet Patterns
1. Three petal crochet poppy with 4.5mm hook
Ch 3, join with slst to form circle.
Ch 3, work 9 dc into the centre of the circle and join with slst.
Work the three petals separately.
Petal 1.
Ch 3, work 1st dc into same st, work 2 dc into each of the next 3 sts.
ch 1 work 2 sc into each st, tie off.
Petal 2.
work 2 dc into last dc of previous petal, work 2 dc into each of the next 3 sts.
ch 1 work 2 sc into each st, tie off.
Work petal 3 as 2.
Sew all ends in and attach button in the centre. Add pin
2.Two petal crochet poppy
Rnd 1: With 3mm hook and wool, ch2. Make 10dc in 2nd ch from hook. Join with a slst in 
1st dc. (10sts)
Rnd 2: *ch1 dc ch1 2tr in next st, 3tr in next st, 2tr ch1 dc in next st, slst in next 2sts. rep 
from * once again.
Rnd 3: *ch1 3dc in next 2 sts, 2dc in next 5sts, 3dc in next 2 sts,slst in next 2sts. rep from 
* once again. Fasten off.
Attach button in the centre. Add pin.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Happy Halloween

It's hard to believe that today is the 31st October, all Hallows Eve, its just too warm isn't it? I took a quick walk outside my office at lunchtime and it is a beautiful day out there. Warm and breezy with such lovely autumnal colours that I am missing from my office desk.

fallen leaves

some leaves still on the tree outside my office

fallen leaves, a sign of autumn

I stated my Moss Stitch snood last night, and I've almost knitted through one ball. I love the colour and its so soft. Should have it finished this weekend and I plan to knit another one in a different colour. Enjoy your Halloween, I'm off for a swim, my local pool will be empty!

Moss stitch snood in progress

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Moss stitch snood (free knitting pattern)

You might remember this post from last November, the free knitting pattern for the snood knitted in Rico Creative Twist Super Chunky. I have finally ordered my grey wool through Loveknitting this week and I can't wait to start.

Moss stitch is my favourite pattern, especially on 10mm needles so it knits up super quick. I call Moss stitch little kisses and its so easy to knit, I also use it in my wash cloth pattern. For this snood pattern you only have to cast on 19 stitches, which makes it a great project for a Christmas present!

You can find the pattern here at Ravelry its free to join and the pattern is also free!

Friday, 24 October 2014

hand knitted wash cloths

This week on my new Addi 20cm needles from are these bright and useful wash cloths. You can also buy the Addi needles in 35cm length (I have both!) I've been knitting mine in Debbie Bliss Cotton DK, its lovely to knit with and great stitch definition. If you can get your hands on discontinued colours it makes it a reasonably priced gift.

The pattern for the wash cloth in purple can be found here at Mollie Makes and its really easy and knits up so quickly, I knitted part of one in about 20 mins. The one in pink is easy to remember too. Here is the pattern. 

Cast on 35 stitches, knit the first 3 or 6 rows, then K4 for border, K1, P1, K1 to last 4 stitches, K4 for border. Knit until piece measures 8" then knit the last 3 or 6 rows and cast off knit wise. Sew in ends. That's it. These make perfect Christmas gifts with a bar of soap and gift wrapped with a hand-knitted wrapper. You can print the gift wrapper here

Monday, 20 October 2014

my new Aran cardigan

I bought this Aran cardigan on eBay last week for £19.99 brand new thinking it was probably acrylic and not the real thing; no one else bid and I won at the starting bid. The lady said it was an unwanted hand knitted gift, she was based in Scotland so something told me it might be ok. The picture wasnt very good either so it probably put people off. Similar were selling for far more so omagine my surprise this morning when it arrived at work. It's the same as this without the pockets, bargain of the year I think! Its beautifully knitted and I can't see any joins or seams, now we need some cold weather!

We've had our holiday on the Norfolk Broads, I'll update you with pictures and all about it soon. I hope you are enjoying the autumn sunshine, it was lovely at the weekend for walking Moss.

Friday, 26 September 2014

a colourful crochet granny square baby blanket

I did it, I finally got my act together and finished the tiny granny square blanket for Abbie's baby. Abbie is my hairdresser and she's expecting her fist baby in November, so what better gift than a hand-made bright snuggly baby blanket made up of 64 little granny squares. Wow 64, I hadn't realised I'd made that many.

Tiny granny square blanket finished

Each little granny square is made up of 3 rounds, the 3rd round joining as I went along. I finished off with 3 rounds of pink granny stripes all in Stylecraft Special DK. It's machine washable and could double as a play mat. Sorry about the picture quality, I took them at 10:30pm the other night after I'd finished it!

blanket in progress, I changed it to 8x8

I've enjoyed making this blanket so much and will miss it. It was a small project (24" square) but still a challenge. I'm now pretty good at putting the little squares together and now plan to finish my granny square blanket now that the evenings are drawing in and getting chilly!

We are off to the Broads next weekend so I guess I'll be busy washing, ironing and packing for the next few days. Can't wait and as it's Ian's 50th it should be a fun holiday. There will be 5 adults and one Springer and one large 45 foot boat! (Springer Spaniel + water = eyes in the back of your head!)

Friday, 19 September 2014

Afternoon tea at Eastwell Manor

On the 4th September we visited Eastwell Manor and couldn't have picked a better day. They even put the red carpet out. Oh ok it was for a wedding. The weather was lovely and the grounds of the manor are lovely too and a harpist was playing for the wedding party. 

The cakes are even better! By accident I deleted the photo, sorry. The day was to celebrate my mums 70th and my dads birthday that week. We all had a brilliant time and looking forward to visiting again.

mum and dad

the entrance

beautiful gardens

mum & dad

the girls

the grounds

the garden where weddings are held