Saturday, 19 July 2014

Norfolk Broads and the big 500

Edited to add:  When I published this post, Blogger said it was my 500th post!  Hard to believe that when Swooze got me started on this blogging lark back in 2007 that I would keep going this long.  To mark my bloggiversary, I must have a giveaway.

GIVEAWAY:  Leave a comment on this post for an entry into my 500th Post Giveaway - and tell me whether you would prefer a knitting prize, a quilting prize or a dollshouse prize. 

 I will pick a name at random from everyone who leaves  a comment - you have a good chance of winning because I don't have many regular commenters!!  Actual sending of the prize might have to wait until I can unpack some of my relevant hobby stash from storage, but I will contact the winner to arrange delivery - make sure I can email you as some people have their Blogger profile set to 'no email'. Good luck!!

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We've just come back from a week's holiday in Norfolk, staying on the edge of the Broads in a little coastal village called Winterton-on-Sea which is north of Great Yarmouth. The Norfolk Broads to me are inextricably linked to the Arthur Ransome books about children exploring and sailing there  (part of the 'Swallows and Amazons' series) but rather depressingly when I mentioned this fact at work to my much-younger colleagues, I received a blank look from all but one because apparently I am officially too old and the books I devoured as a child are now more ancient than dinosaur bones.

We had a lovely week and were very lucky with the weather, as it only got ferociously hot towards the end of the week before turning into big thunderstorms on our last night.  DS came too on the promise that he didn't have to go sightseeing and that there would be broadband.  We kept our promise, so he was very pleased with his holiday as he spent almost the entire week at the kitchen table in the cottage, gaming with friends online.  He did come out for a morning of canoeing on the Broads with us, we made it from Sutton Staithe to Wayford Bridge and back (6 miles) without capsizing  and with minimal blisters.  He even went swimming in the sea with DH, which was more than I was prepared to do as it was too cold and too windy for me, although I did enjoy sitting on the beach.

When we arrived in Winterton, the first thing I did was walk back to the Village Hall where the thriving local quilt group was having an exhibition.  I liked this tabletopper by Pat whose blurb said the pattern came from America - I shall have to look for it.


I also liked this Kaffe Fassett design made by Lynne from the book Quilt Romance. She said in her blurb that the fabrics are Rose Parade by Moda.


The rest of the week we went out exploring every day and saw lots of great things, had some lovely meals, and did fairly well for shopping as well.  Norwich takes the prize for craft shops as they had no less than three knitting shops:  Crafty Ewe and Norfolk Yarns which were good sized knitting shops with a good range of yarns, and a large stall in Norwich Market selling a range of acrylic yarns. I had a good look but didn't buy anything apart from some pretty blue buttons in Norfolk Yarns. Norwich seems to be a lovely historic town and we would like to go back for a weekend some time and visit more of the sights and museums. Also in Norwich is Sew Creative but we visited their larger shop in Wroxham Barns which stocks a  big selection of quilting fabrics - I enjoyed picking out a few fabrics which I hope will make good accent cushions for our new window seat cushion.

We had an enjoyable morning in Great Yarmouth, shunning the tacky seaside amusements in favour of the excellent museums:  Time and Tide where they had adult dressing up clothes - yay! and we learned all about the history of the herring fisheries, the Potteries museum across the street in a delicious-smelling old herring smokehouse, the English Heritage Row House and Merchant's House, and the Nelson museum. The Silver Darling cafe at the Time and Tide museum had stunningly good food, with probably the best creme brulee either of us has ever had in our lives - all handmade in house by the Portuguese owners.

Living out my Victorian seaside dreams

We even picked up a few more things for the house:  an Arts and Crafts end table for the living room from Norwich, and a nice carved mirror from an antiques fair which will probably go in the hall.

We spent most afternoons lounging at the cottage or in its garden.  I had taken my iPad so was able to catch up on blogs and Craftsy classes, and of course I had taken my knitting.  I did a little work on my next GAAA square, and in the car I was knitting more on my Shetland stitches shawl.  But mainly I was working on a little baby jumper using some yummy ice-cream sparkle yarn I picked up at my LYS called 'Ella' by Sirdar (49% cotton, 48% acrylic, 3% polyester).  It's nice to knit with, and using a basic jumper pattern I made up this little colourwork design.  I did a corrugated rib and then some gingham checks alternating with stripes.


On the way home we stopped at a very strange shop at the Snetterton Race Track which bills itself as the 'biggest model shop in the world', Snetterton Park Models.  I mention it because they did sell dollshouse items (mostly cheaper end stuff), useful terrain items, Zap a Gap and other modelling items like epoxies and fillers, a big range of Christmas cottage models, and quite a lot of toy forts and so forth that could be repurposed.  But visiting is a very strange experience: the shop is enormous, straggling through several connected sheds, and most of the stock is locked behind glass cabinet doors with no staff in sight to help you. In between the glass cabinets are enormous displays, really enormous, like fifty foot long Duplo scenes or 150 foot long model train set ups, which makes it feel more like a museum than a shop.  The lighting is poor and coupled with the completely deserted rooms, it felt a bit like we had strayed into a closed museum.  It certainly wasn't conducive to buying although I did pick up some Fimo and a scrapbook album in the arts and crafts rooms.  But then you have to walk all the way back to the entrance (a long way!) to pay for things.  I have no idea how they stay in business.  Perhaps they get big crowds on race days, or sell a lot online.

It's nice to be home, although the previous owners' population of cat fleas had bred with a vengeance and attacked us immediately even though I had sprayed yet again before we went away.  We sprayed the worst rooms again today - if we keep spraying eventually we will get them all, unless we succumb to poisoning first ourselves from the spray. I've got a busy few days ahead: our possessions are finally coming out of storage this week (hurrah! but boo, there is nowhere to put most of them) and various tradespeople are trooping through for quotations.  I did find it hard to completely relax while we were on holiday because my mind kept worrying at various issues to do with the house.

Hope you are all enjoying your summers and have holidays planned or already taken.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Hooray!! Broadband at last (and piccies)

Two days after it was promised, we have broadband at last.  And none too soon because I had to resort to going to bed early last night because I couldn't take any more angst from my overwrought teenager who had nothing to live for (according to him) without broadband. No amount of pep talks or tough love would snap him out of it, so I had to remove myself before I snapped.

So I can finally show some piccies of what I've mentioned in my last few posts - excuse the poor quality of some of them taken quickly with a flash this evening.


Big Eucalyptus tree BEFORE - never should have been planted in a town garden as it was well on its way to growing into an 85 foot high monster

AFTER - all gone and the garden feels much bigger

BEFORE - original Victorian fireplace all broken by someone inserting a gas fire in the 1970s

AFTER - marble mantle removed, and the cast iron insert gone off to the spa for some pampering

The Arts and Crafts cupboard we bought - now gone to hospital for the upper galleries to be restored

My walnut compactum wardrobe (all these rooms will be re-painted)

My 'pot cupboard' nightstand

The Wiernacke bookcase - hopefully going to keep my china and smaller dollshouses dust free

Our linen cupboard (I'm probably going to paint this)



The lace yokes from my Low Tide cardigan when they were blocking


My knitting room in progress with the Expedit shelves under the eaves

My vanilla socks - fairly well matched


Wednesday, 2 July 2014

My giant dollshouse - some progress at last

Blogging from work again because the new broadband doesn’t go live until 8 July.  DS also made the home situation worse by using up my entire 1GB data allowance on my ipad (which would normally last me a month) in the first week after we brought him back from uni, so I only had my smartphone for a few days! He has now bought me a PAYG sim to tide me over until my data resets, plus I have upgraded my contract to 5GB.

We were away on the weekend in a very rickety hired van, visiting three big antiques warehouses in Lincolnshire, Yorkshire and Manchester, looking for furniture for the new house.  It was quite fun but at the same time very exhausting because these places were huge and we really had to motor through all the aisles and booths, just scanning constantly for furniture that might match our shopping list.  We want to go back to the Lincolnshire place in the car in future, it’s only a two hour drive and it had four buildings stuffed full of all kinds of stuff (Hemswell Antiques Centre).

But we did quite well, I wish I could blog photos but that will have to wait for the broadband.  DS is grumbling and asking why we couldn’t have just got stuff from IKEA, you can’t explain to a teenager the difference in buying something in solid wood, beautifully crafted and with a legacy of past usage.  And with the current market downturn for brown furniture, it’s actually cheaper to buy these lovely pieces than it would be to buy new chipboard/veneer rubbish.  It was a bit scary spending that much money all at once, but we had planned for it and I’m really pleased with what we found:

-          A Victorian pine cupboard-on-cupboard to go in our hall as a linen cupboard
-          A walnut compactum wardrobe for my bedroom
-          An Edwardian walnut ladies’ dressing table – it needs restoration but I got it for a song, we’re taking it to ‘furniture hospital’ on Saturday to see what it will cost to refinish
-          A pretty little Edwardian? chair to go in front of the table, with marquetry inlay
-          A handsome chest of drawers with marquetry detailing on the drawers
-          A really interesting display cabinet which was labelled ‘Victorian chiffonier’ but I think is actually an Arts and Crafts cupboard.  It also needs some TLC to restore a missing gallery on the top.
-          A stack of four Wiernacke bookcases with sliding glass fronts
-          A brass fender for the fireplace we are reinstating, and a mirrored Edwardian wooden overmantel to go above.
-          A 1920s watercolour of DS’s Oxford college (random find that DH just happened to notice on the wall of a venue)
-          A brass framed convex ‘porthole’ mirror

Thanks to much help from experienced dealers at the venues for stacking pieces in the van, and a quick trip to IKEA to buy 10 of their cheap fleece blankets for padding as we had run out and were having to fish clothes out of our suitcases as makeshift substitutes, we got it all home and somehow DS and DH staggered up the stairs with them.  Luckily the wardrobe came apart into several pieces. I’m pleased with my room now, and I think it must look a little like how it would have been when our house was built in 1875.  I will take some pictures once we have broadband.

Things are also starting to move on with the house.  We’ve chosen our kitchen design and the company we will go with, and they should start work at the end of July.  I know there will be a few weeks of chaos but it should be lovely when it is finished.  They are also going to open up the doorway between the kitchen and dining room and refinish the floors in both rooms, as well as sorting out the overhead lighting in the kitchen.

Meanwhile the broken Victorian fireplace was ripped out yesterday and carted off to a specialist place in Leicester for renovation.  They started at 8am and for about 90 minutes the house was shaking with all the pounding and grinding as they chiselled out the marble surround from the plaster and disconnected the cast iron insert.  They also chiselled up the modern brick hearth in the dining room where the replacement fireplace will go, meaning that floor is ready for refinishing now.  I think I’ve found a joiner/carpenter to refit the missing picture rails and window trim, still waiting for his quote but hoping he will come through.  Sadly our first builder has evidently decided he’s not interested in the job because he hasn’t responded to my subsequent calls and he sent back the details of the trade-only kitchen design the company sent to him.  I felt rather annoyed about that, I spent over an hour going over the brief with him and how long would it take to send a short email or text ‘Sorry I’m too busy’ instead of just vanishing.  I’m still trying to find a builder, I’m on about my fifth recommendation now and hoping that guy will come early next week to view the site.  We’ve got permission from the Council to prune the trees and fell the Eucalyptus monster in the back garden, and the tree surgeon is coming on Saturday.  And I managed to fix and reinstate the toilet that broke less than a week after we moved in, and touch wood it isn’t leaking yet so hopefully it is okay now.

Anyway, this blog is supposed to be about my hobbies although it feels like the house is turning into a hobby in a way, like a giant, very expensive dollshouse!

This week I finished the lace yoke for the Low Tide cardigan.  I had to rip out half the back yoke and re-knit because I kept losing track of the fairly simple pattern.  Even now that I’ve blocked the three pieces, I can see they aren’t identical but nobody will be looking at my back and front simultaneously so it should be fine.  Now I’ve got to pick up along the bottom edge to knit the body downwards, and I’m having my usual problem with counting accurately for any number greater than 10.  After counting and re-counting last night I had to give up as I was too tired after all the plumbing work on the toilet.

I’ve also started a new lace shawl, which is a normal triangular shawl but I am making the pattern up as I go along using stitch patterns from the Shetland Lace book that I bought recently.  I started in stockinette with a row of eyelets partway through, and then did a stripe of ‘Mrs Hunters’ pattern which is an unusual garter ground pattern, and now I am doing a more open pattern of eyelets on a stockinette ground.  It is good commuter knitting and was also good for the van trip.


I’ve started to set up the knitting room with some Expedit bookcase units from IKEA.  I had a 16-square unit that I got on eBay, and then I spotted that the 4-square low units were on sale for £19.99 when we went to IKEA to get DS a mattress.  I bought four of them because they are perfect for fitting under the angle of the roof.  Typically I received flak from the ‘boys’ questioning why I was wasting time shopping when we were there for a mattress, but once they saw how perfectly they fit under the roof, DS wanted his own set for his wargaming attic room so I felt vindicated.  Otherwise all the craft stuff is still in bags on the floor in both the sewing, knitting and dollshouse rooms.  I don’t feel very motivated to do much with it until the rest of my stash turns up in three weeks from storage.  Plus I am on the lookout on eBay for a few more Billy bookcases to complete the planned design/storage wall in my sewing room.

Friday, 20 June 2014

So many boxes, so little time

We’re moved into the new house. I don’t have broadband connected yet due to a series of frustrating events, so I’m blogging from work because it’s too hard trying to blog from an iPad on 3G.

The move went fine, we were lucky with the weather being neither too hot nor too wet.  The movers were adequate, not as careful as they could have been so there are a few nicks and scrapes, but no breakages and they were friendly and helpful. It was just a really long day, lots of waiting around while they loaded, and ditto while they unloaded.

We are now in the terrible aftermath, surrounded by boxes, trying to find things like clothes to wear to work and trying to put in place the mechanisms for daily living like getting the kitchen set up and somewhere to sit in the evening, and trying to get services connected and addresses changed on accounts.  We don’t have much furniture and this is a much bigger house, so there isn’t really anywhere to unpack into. So a lot of stuff is like winter clothing is just having to go into boxes stacked in corners.  Plus it is dispiriting knowing that at some point this summer everything has got to be packed back up to make room for decorating, new kitchen etc. I felt pretty depressed the second night, wondering what we had gotten ourselves into, and sad about every room looking like a disaster.   I know it will all look wonderful eventually but I’m still really struggling trying to find a builder (the first one still hasn’t got back to me with a quote two weeks later, the second eventually got back to me but still hasn’t been, the third ignored me, the fourth is ignoring me so far). I’ve also been intensely frustrated by a lot of my careful advance planning coming to nought: our telephone provider reneged on their promise to keep our number and I’m still waiting for them to sort that out, our cable provider can’t connect to the house and the alternative, Sky, can’t get a signal to their satellite in our garden because it’s blocked by other buildings (we’re not allowed to put a dish on the front of the house because it’s in a conservation area) so we’ve only got Freeview from a TV antenna which I know DS is going to be very unhappy with.  We don’t have broadband because Sky no longer lets you have broadband unless you use their telephone services, and I’m not buying broadband from the telephone provider unless they sort out our number.  So DS will be doubly unhappy as he won’t be able to game online either.  I am bracing myself for some teenage strop when we collect him this weekend from Uni.

Anyway, enough moaning, I am trying to feel grateful that our long rootless period has come to an end and we have a permanent home again.  The rest of our stuff will be coming out of storage in mid July, although I don’t know where we are going to put it all, but at least all of our possessions will be under one roof for the first time in over a year.  I am looking forward to the day I can take out all my yarn and fabric stash ready for use, it will be like Christmas. Meanwhile I am concentrating on trying to get the right craft stuff onto the right floor:  sewing and dollshouse stuff in the basement, knitting stuff in the attic.

While I was waiting around for the removers to finish on Monday, I was knitting on my vanilla socks and finished them that night apart from I need to Kitchener stitch the second toe.  I then had a few days with nothing to knit on while commuting because everything I still had out needed a chart.  Yesterday I found the bits of the teddy bear ‘George’ that I knit before the move, he was a free kit with Simply Knitting magazine I think.  So I stitched him up and stuffed him.  I’ve given him to a work colleague who has a lot of young children in her extended family, although I’ve warned her to take the bow off if she is going to give it to a baby.


Sadly on Monday we are attending a funeral as a family friend of mine, a very skilled quilter and dressmaker whom I have known for 20 years, has passed away after a short stay in a nursing home.  I own a lovely Double Wedding Ring quilt that she made, I so wish I could take it to the funeral but unfortunately it is in storage with everything else.  Several of the ladies from my previous quilting groups will also be there so it will be good to see them but for a very sad reason. I seem to have hit that age band where we are losing the previous generation – four of my friends have recently lost a parent and a fifth person had their elderly parent in hospital for several weeks. This must mean that I’m getting old myself, and makes me more conscious that time is limited and you have only a certain window for big plans, big trips, and big houses full of moving boxes.

Monday, 9 June 2014

I am simultaneously excited and scared

We're in the new house!  Or to be more accurate, we've been in and out of the new house all the past week. We're not actually moving in to live there until next week.

We took the first week off work and I arranged a packed schedule of visits from kitchen designers (3), a chimney sweep (we have 11 flues!), a builder, an exterior painter, an interior painter, the conservation officer, the council landscape officer (who protects trees and we want to fell one in the back garden), a tree surgeon, and two blokes who took away a manky wooden garden shed for free.  In between those visits we were driving to and from the DIY store, the paint store or the key/lock store, taking deliveries of furniture and appliances, plumbing in a dishwasher, changing a lock, collecting more IKEA bookcases off eBay, painting up squares of lining paper with potential interior colours, and shooting back to our rental to be there for potential tenants viewing the property.  It's been exhausting but touch wood everything seems fine with the house and no major bombshells, or even very many minor ones.  But I'm bracing myself to see what all the quotes add up to, especially the new kitchen.  I hope we can afford to do all the priority stuff even if we have to wait a few years for the lower-priority jobs.

We're really pleased with the house, it's twice as big as our old modern-build house and has lovely high ceilings and some of the original features such as fireplaces and some cornicing.  It's over four floors because it's build on a sloping site so there is a cellar that becomes the bottom storey, and an attic that used to be servants' quarters.


This will be my sewing room.  It's about 14' square. Apart from the fireplace there aren't really any original features and the floor is a replacement. As this is the cellar-storey, the ceiling is a fairly normal height.

This is one of the attic spaces - one side will be for my knitting machines and the other side of the room (it's divided by a chimney) will be my knitting stash.


This is one of the main rooms that still has some original features - not my choice of colour scheme!  I am going to have most of the rooms painted in a warm neutral and we will live with that for a few years before we maybe choose some wallpaper for a few rooms.

So there hasn't been much time for crafting but I did do some knitting on the lace bodices of the Low Tide Vest and I've started a vanilla sock in Opal 'Der Kleine Prinz' colour 7767 which I really like.


Saturday, 31 May 2014

Hooray, we did it!

Yes, we have finally exchanged contracts!  In the English house-buying process, this is the penultimate step before you 'complete' and get the keys to the new house.  Exchanging contracts makes the sale legally binding so anyone dropping out now would be subject to stiff legal/financial penalties. We will be completing next week so we will soon be homeowners once again.  And more importantly, I will once again have a sewing room  :)

I've been a busy bunny booking in lots of people to do stuff on the house next week or give us advice, and arranging appliances to be delivered, removers to move us over from rented in a few weeks, and kicking off the process to take over the utilities.  We've continued to pack up our stuff, and tomorrow we are going to have a big blitz on packing and cleaning so that the rented house will be ready when the letting agent wants to start showing prospective tenants around after we give in our notice. It's going to be a busy few weeks.

Today I went on a chalk painting course to learn how to transform furniture because it is so much cheaper to buy antique furniture than it is to buy new, painted, solid-wood furniture.  I'm talking up to £900 for a triple new painted wood wardrobe versus around £350 for an antique one bought on Preloved (an online selling site).  I want to have a pale-coloured bedroom suite in the new house so I was thinking I might have a go at painting furniture. We're going to hire a van and drive up north to some of the big antique warehouses next month with a shopping list for the new house. I could potentially buy several pieces and then paint them all the same colour to match.

The course was held at an Annie Sloan stockist and we were using Annie Sloan chalk paint.  It was a bit like painting with coloured gesso, it covers really well but it's quite soft and easily scraped off.  Once it hardens completely it isn't as soft, but it still scratches fairly easily so I don't know if it will stand up to frequent use such as a dressing table drawer opened daily.  On the other hand, it is dead easy to touch up again if you do scratch it.

I was painting the little hall table I bought at the vintage fair a few weekends ago, which is a reproduction not an antique.

I painted it with two coats of Paris Grey, and gave it a coat of clear wax apart from the table top which was having some issues with the original finish bleeding through from a knot.  I think I need to buy some knotting to seal the knot, and paint another coat of chalk paint over the top.  Otherwise I am quite pleased with how this turned out.  On the course we covered how to distress furniture but I didn't want to do that on this little table.  We also covered two-colour distressing, colourwashing, and using cracquelure.


Last weekend I finished a few more blocks for my Jelly Roll Sampler Quilt but now I've had to pack it all away, to conceal the evidence that I've been using the wall as a design wall.  I've still got my knitting , and have been working on the boucle yarn scarf very slowly (it's so hard to knit with) for commuter knitting.  I've started a pair of vanilla socks, and made a start on the lace panel for the bodice of the Low Tide vest.  I don't think I can bear to pack the rest of my knitting away or my needles, so they might just all go for a nice car ride to the new house next week so that I don't have to risk withdrawal symptoms. Ditto my Featherweight sewing machine for safekeeping so it doesn't have to risk being moved by the removal people.

We snagged another Billy bookcase on eBay to add to my collection for my future sewing room and/or our future study.  In my mind's eye I'm imagining a sort of 'U-shape' of bookcases in one end of the room.  My fabric will be stored on the inside of the U, safely concealed from the light from the window, and then the outside of the bookcase wall will be my design wall.  However, I'm not sure if the room is big enough for this or not.  We'll see.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Are you all as bored with this as I am?

Our house purchase still hasn't exchanged, after several days of mind-sapping emailed excuses and hold ups from the vendor and their solicitor. I feel so bored with the whole thing now that I am almost attracted by the idea of just pulling the plug and cancelling everything. I suppose that would be the definition of cutting off your nose to spite your face.  It just feels like it is never going to happen, and we have been waiting so long for these people to get their act together.

We have started packing stuff up in boxes anyway, trying to keep the faith.  I'm finding it really hard to choose things that I won't need for the next month, because we mainly brought essentials with us - all the non-essential stuff went into storage.  This week for example I packed my bag of toy stuffing thinking I wouldn't need it, and the next day a magazine turned up with a free kit to knit a teddybear (which needs stuffing).  Rather than excavate the stuffing from the pile of boxes in the garage, I'm just going to knit up the pieces and pack them as well, to be finished at some later date. And I've packed all my handknits because we have been going through a real warm spell the last week.

Last weekend we drove to a really fun Vintage Fair in Wellingborough. I was expecting a handful of stands but it turned out to be fairly big, with probably about 50 traders.  And they had loads of cool stuff, lots of hand-mades, shabby chic antiques, and local artists.  I bought several nice things which I didn't think of photographing before I packed them into boxes: some pretty chintz china plates, two mini knitted teddybears (one for me, one as a gift for a friend), a really unique mirror with a frame handmade in  a stained glass technique but incorporating everything from glass pebbles to vintage buttons all soldered together, some vintage linens, and the coolest thing of all: an antique Bakelite telephone handset, black and decorated in gilt a bit like an old Singer sewing machine, which has been refurbished to work as a modern telephone. That was in the antique shop which is always open at the venue, and I also bought a really pretty vintage hall table for the telephone to go on.  I can just picture this duo in the hallway at the new house - assuming we ever move in.



Sunday we went to Oxford to visit DS, the last chance to see him before he sits his final exams in a few weeks then comes home.  As well as a nice visit with him, we had a lovely time in this beautiful city.  It was really hot, so we spent some time in the afternoon relaxing in the pretty Botanic Gardens in a bend of the river, watching people punting past us.  It didn't look too hard, so the next day we thought we would have a go.  Well, it turned out to be a lot harder than it looked.  The pole is incredibly heavy, I didn't have the upper body strength to manage it so DH did all the punting while I helped steer from the front with a paddle.  We had a bit of a disastrous start (drifting backwards, hitting a bridge, drifting through the bridge and then hitting another rowboat!) but eventually got the hang of it enough to complete the route.  DH says he is never going punting again.  We liked being out on the water though, so next time we might try one of the punts that's been converted to a pedal boat.

DH in action

I finished knitting the Pop Baby Cardigan for my work colleague, I sewed some bought trim onto it to pep it up a bit.  I bought a pink gift box and made a nice ensemble out of the pink teddybear, the pink Mary Jane socks, the cardigan, and the Leaf lace hat that I made a while ago.  Hopefully she will appreciate the hand knits.

I also finished the Sirdar drop stitch t-shirt. It fits fine although I'm not entirely happy with the stitch texture as it just doesn't seem to want to lie flat even though I wet blocked it.  I'm going to hang it on a hanger for a while and see if it 'drops' a bit under gravity and straightens out a bit more. I modified the pattern to create a small scoop neck at the front instead of the original boat neck.  This was knit in Sirdar Breeze, a cotton/acrylic blend, which I rather like.  It's a nice yarn for summer which feels cool on the skin.

The next instalment of my bi-monthly knitting care package from Knit Crate arrived. I love getting these in the post, it's like a really cool birthday present.  This month the scrumptious handpainted yarn is from 'All for Love of Yarn' and is Luminosity Fingering—70% SW merino, 20% bamboo, 10% nylon. The pattern is the paid version of the Holden shawlette.  I knit the free version some time ago and it's probably the shawl that I wear the most. The paid version has more sizes. The gift was a pair of square circular needles from Kollage which will be interesting to try - I have a pair of their DPNs although they hurt my hands.  And the food treat was delicious brownie crisps which disappeared almost instantly (I shared them with DH).  So far this package is arriving in the UK without any extra customs charges which is really nice.  Presumably it is falling below the VAT threshold.

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