Thursday, 31 July 2014

summer giveaway - Crabtree and Evelyn Gardeners set


Summer is here and we've been so lucky with the weather in the UK haven't we? To celebrate the summer and with gardening in mind I have a fab giveaway of Crabtree and Evelyn Gardeners Hand Recovery Scrub 100g and two 25g handbag size hand therapy cream. I use it all the time and love it so thought I'd share in something I know that works and smells wonderful. Keep it by the kitchen sink for when you've been working in the garden or allotment.

to enter ....

1. leave a comment with your name and Blog if you have one
2. share on your blog for an extra chance

That's it, nice and simple to win a lovely Crabtree and Evelyn package.  I'll keep this open until the end of August. I will post Worldwide. Good luck - Amanda x

disclaimer: this competition is not supported in any way by Crabtree and Evelyn

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Baby Beanie (free knitting pattern)

My hairdresser Abbie is pregnant with her first baby (girl) and I was looking for a cute Baby Beanie knitting pattern when I came across this at Knit-O-Matic. It's really cute and I have the wool so that's another weekend project! You can find the pattern link here. It states to knit in Debbie Bliss Rialto DK (and Prints) but I guess you could match the gauge and use another similar yarn although you only need 2 balls so its not too expensive. And the pattern gives 3 sizes.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

cables without the cables (Birch Trees scarf)

Earlier this year I came across this lovely Birch Trees Scarf knitting pattern over at Hand Knitted Things. Its one of those patterns that you just have to try because its so pretty and very practical and looks far more intricate and complicated than the 4 row pattern suggests. I like to call it cables without the cables, such a clever pattern thank you Julia Marsh.

 I'm knitting mine on vintage no. 7 needles (kindly given to me by my mother-in-law) and using Debbie Bliss Cashmerino charcoal out of my yarn stash that was meant to be for Ian's scarf! shh don't tell him! I use DB yarn all the time, picking up bargains in John Lewis and eBay but its the first time I've knitted with Cashmerino, and it isn't going to be the last. It gives you great stitch definition and the softest yarn ever, I love it. So here is my scarf in progress. It has been sitting in my car waiting to be loved again after I accidentally knitted the moss stitch border wrong. I know how can you get something so simple wrong when the pattern was more difficult to keep track of, I keep asking myself the same question. But today was the right time to unpick 8 rows and carry on, and I managed it so I'm good to go now (phew)

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Pretty in pink

I seem to be having a pink phase at the moment. It all started on Monday with my new kindle Fire HD cover, Wednesday my new shellac nail colour, lovely pink post from The Pigeons Nest with my toadstool magents (they are so cute) flowers in my front and back gardens, a new baby blanket pattern, pink knitted wash cloths and flowers at my sisters villa rental in Spain.

The baby blanket is an easy pattern, not really a pattern, just cast on 130 stitches and knit until each ball of yarn is finished a join a new one, seven in total hopefully. But because I am using Debbie Bliss Rialto DK (soft merino) it will be a squidy blanket to use from baby to toddler, a lovely hand made gift for a November baby.
I'm not normally a pink person but this week I am surrounded by pink! I hope you enjoy the photos and pattern links
hand knitted waffle wash cloth

toadstool magnets
pink Shellac nail varnish and matching Debbie Bliss wool
pots of fuscia in my garden
geranium in a hanging basket
pots of colour by the front door
pink and red fuscia in a hanging basket

granny blanket : safron border

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Christmas in July (hand-made swap)

I recently took part in the Christmas in July swap hosted by Lisa at Sprouting Creative Wings. I've never taken part before but I did complete the stationery swap earlier this summer and that was great fun too. I received my first gift package with a lovely vintage inspired Christmas stocking from Joanne at A Whole Plot of Love also some craft supplies including lovely hand-made ribbon real and Thornton's chocolates last week followed by a lovely hand made Christmas pudding from Louisa in Australia. It feels quite funny making and receiving Christmas gifts in this hot weather but nothing like getting started early and its always lovely to receive happy post instead of bills.

I have a confession ....... I've already bought some presents and put them in a box in the loft on Sunday night each with a sticky heart post it with the recipients name! So I was already thinking ahead, way too ahead.

For my gift parcels I sent Joanne's first containing a shabby chic Christmas tree, hand knitted egg cosy in Christmas colours, some painted pegs and ribbon reel all wrapped in a cute brown bag with a hand stamped gift tag. I hope that Joanne liked the things I made and my next  secret swap partner.

Christmas in July from Jo at A Whole Plot of Love

Christmas pudding ornament from Louisa in Australia

my Christmas in July gifts I sent out

the Christmas in July gifts I sent to Joanne @ A Whole Plot of Love

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Granny stripe blanket and crochet flower garland

A busy crafty kind of weekend with some swimmng too. My happy post arrived from Bianca in the Netherlands on Saturday whilst I was sitting adding another border round to my now huge granny stripe blanket. She made me some lovely gift tags and included some stickers too.
I took some inspiration back in Sept 2013 from this lovely blanket at the Happy in Red blog

happy post from Bianca in the Netherlands

I decided to crochet one round in pale blue then another in bluebell and I think I will finish it with another in bluebell but scalloped edges. Then that is it. It's sad really because although I finished the main blanket a couple of months ago I realy don't want this one to end because its been a lovely project. But since I started this my crochet skills have improved and I'm now working on two granny square blankets, one baby present and the other my sister's Christmas present.

my huge granny stripe blanket edging
In between I'm finding small projects to practice, like the flower garland pattern I found over at The Crafty Mummy and I started this morning. It's easy and grows quickly, I really like it but not the yarn. I'm using Debbie Bliss Eco Aran and it splits easily but as I had some in my yarn stash I thought I'd give it a go. The book is Crochet Workshop by Erika Knight, I bought it a while back on line for a bargain at £4.99 . I'm also making a stripe crochet cushion cover from the book, so its quite handy.

crochet flower garland (pattern from The Crafy Mummy Blog)

Saturday, 5 July 2014

swimming (finding time to get fit)

I've recently started swimming again; last Friday to be exact and I can't believe how great I felt and the achievement at getting back in the pool. I gave up smoking 10 months ago and that was easy but putting on weight and trying to loose those extra pounds hasn't been and I've been plucking up courage to get back in the pool to swim myself fit. To be honest I don't know why I was making such a fuss (in my head) because lots of women of all ages, abilities and sizes were doing just the same as me on a Friday night. No one looks at you so I felt at ease and just got in. I set myself a goal of 30 lengths in about an hour and I was amazed that after the first 20 I felt so much better and went on to do 40. Stopping to have a chat with some other swimmers although socialable isn't a good idea because I started to get cold. So without being rude explained I was on a mission and had to complete my target. The other ladies were quite amazed that I'd completed my goal, but I thought going to the pool was to swim?! I'm going back on Sunday morning for another hour and I hope I stop aching before then.

I did a google search this morning on the benefits of swimming and here's the link I found. Some common sense but good to know the health benefits. Do you have a pool near you? With this hot weather you don't need an excuse, don't put it off like me - I wish I'd gone months ago!

And here's a picture of Moss in his new life jacket ready for our holiday on the Broads. We are putting it on him every day to get used to it, judging by his expression he's not quite sure!

Friday, 4 July 2014

Knitting a neuron

For the past 21 years I've worked for CRS Ltd who are involved in Vision research (that's me on the first page with my head inside a headcoil used in a scanner!) My hobbies and job don't normally merge but when I received this picture from Moorfields I just had to share it with you. Moorfields Eye Hospital London and the Institute of Ophthalmology are long standing customers of CRS; their research work is vital for treating eye conditions. I didn't know that they had a team of knitters who have recently completed this masterpiece, isn't it great? I got in touch with Susan Sandford Smith at the Institute of Visual Neuroscience straight away and she sent me further information on their project. Not only have they produced a work of art but some of the group couldn't knit two years ago, just shows what can be done when you put your mind to it!

the talented knitting team

Here's what Susan had to say about the project

The idea of knitting a neuron isn’t new, in fact it was because one of our members saw the knit a neuron knitted brain that this whole project came about. We are the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology knitting group, we meet once a week in our Common Room (though we’re on our summer break at the moment). We’re of differing abilities and normally we work on our own projects. The group has been going a couple of years now, when it started lots of the knitters were complete beginners so I started them off knitting beanie hats in the round, some took to knitting like ducks to water and are ‘real’ knitters now with stashes and multiple projects on the go. We were trying to think of a project that we could all work on that would make sense for us and Phillippa, who had seen the knitted brain, suggested that we knit the retina. We thought that this was an excellent idea and set to planning how it could work. We knew that we would need to enlist help but that we still wanted to keep control on the project so Phillippa bought a load of wool, colour coded for each cell, and along with the patterns that she and another member of the group developed (with help for the original knit a neuron patterns, I think) the patterns for each of the cells in the retina, we sent out the wool to various friends and friends of friends.

and idea of the size with some crochet too!

laying out the pieces

laying out the pieces

The whole project took about a year, with lapses in enthusiasm, but Moorfields Eye Hospital had said that they would like to have the retina once it was finished to put on display in their Medical Retina unit (so we had to finish it!).

The retina was up for the launch of artwork, commissioned for the unit, but is back in storage, waiting for a glass cabinet to be made – we’re hoping that it will be on permanent display within the next few weeks.

The Building
The design of the Richard Desmond Children’s Eye Centre (below) dispels preconceptions of hospitals to create an holistic, child-focused and welcoming environment. A potentially traumatic experience becomes a positive one, supported by a clear layout which gives a sense of security, engaging colour schemes and large relaxation and play areas. Overall, the design offers a textured and engaging experience, and a sense of discovery for patients whose ages range from 0 to 16 and who may find their treatment lasting for months or even years.

An integrated art programme includes lighting, interiors and the building’s entrance fa├žade which features an arrangement of freely placed folded aluminium louvres to minimise solar gain and create an iconic street presence. A lighting sequence programmed for dusk floods the building with dynamic,glowing colours. (text from architect’s website)

The Richard Desmond Children’s Eye Centre Moorfields Eye Hospital, 2007

a little thank you

Just quickly popping in to say thank you to all my new blogger friends. It's always lovely to see a new blogger has taken the time to pop by and to read my stuff and to join my readers list. I'm going to have another give-away shortly and this time it will be some lovely Crabtree and Evelyn, I use the hand cream every day and it keeps my hands moisturised after gardening or cleaning; and the smell is great too! Just what every gardener could do with by the kitchen sink. Enjoy the sunshine. Amanda x

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

B is for Broad Bean

If you thought broad beans were not worth growing, think again. One packet of dwarf variety about 20 plants (some sown later) and I had enough to make this recipe. There are still lots of little broad beans growing. They were delicious and I've added Broad Bean Sutton to my seed list to sow this autumn for an earlier crop next year! I've also used them in a stir fry and they are so versitile.

ready to harvest
ta dah