Tuesday 28 May 2013

New crafts

 I had my very first attempt at spinning last week, on a taster session at our new Heritage Skills Centre.  We (there were two of us, so were able to get lots of attention from the tutor) learnt how to make rolags (wool 'sausages' ready for spinning) from washed fleece, using carders.  I was fine with that part of the process, as I am used to using carders for my felting.  However, the spinning was a whole new thing!  I hadn't appreciated that your hands should be constantly moving the fleece - teasing with the back hand and feeding with the front. If I left my fingers holding the wool too long, 'over spinning' happened, where the yarn twists back on itself and then won't go onto the bobbin properly. I became very good at 'over spinning'!
 Now and then, I thought I had got it and for a few brief moments, I was spinning a nice thin yarn.  Then I forgot to move my fingers quickly enough and I got large lumpy bits as can be seen above - oops!
Here is my first attempt which the tutor plyed into 2 ply yarn.  I think I shall use it as embellishments on my felt.  The tutor was really nice and said we had done really well for beginners!  My mum has a spinning wheel, so I may have another go next time I visit.
After two crochet sessions, here is as far as I got with the hat.  I ended up having to undo quite a bit as I had gone wrong, but never mind.  I am not sure I shall complete the hat as I am not a hat person and this would be a close fitting cloche type hat.  Probably not a good look! However, now that I can do chains and trebles, (well, sort of), I may have a try at a simpler pattern. 

Sunday 26 May 2013

My favourite Chelsea Gardens 2013

 I have been watching all the Chelsea coverage on the BBC over the last week.  Considering it is the 100th Anniversary of the Chelsea Flower Show, I couldn't get that excited about it all, which is quite unusual for me. I am a traditionalist with a love of cottage garden planting which probably explains my favourite gardens this year.  There were three show gardens which I really liked - mainly for the gorgeous planting.  The M and G garden above, designed by Roger Platts...
 The Arthritis Research garden designed by Chris Beardshaw, who suffers from a form of arthritis himself and which showed the journey a person takes when they are diagnosed with arthritis...
 I did like his planting...
...and the Homebase garden, designed by Adam Frost, for a family, so there were flowers, edible plants and fruit trees in there too.
Out of the artisan gardens, my favourite was this one, 'One Stone', by the Rich brothers.  Their use of the stone was beautiful and really demonstrated how effective hard landscaping could be.
Perhaps the show was better if you were actually there.
All photos from www.rhs.co.uk

Tuesday 21 May 2013

My garden in Chelsea week (and blossom from Mum's garden)

 It's Chelsea Flower Show week again, and while I am deciding which are my favourite gardens, here are the stars of my own garden.  I have not been very successful with aquilegia before, but this year, I have three plants which are looking lovely.  The top one is one from my sister, who has several old fashioned, but lovely varieties in her garden.
 I bought this one last year and it is looking fabulous.
 This was supposed to be a blue one, but, as you can see, it's pink!
Tulip 'Blue Parrot' from the 'cosy autumn swap' - thank you to cookie!
 Tulip 'Black Parrot' looking amazingly frilled and beruffled.
 My gold medal goes to Tulip Ballerina (I think you may have guessed that!).  Even as the age, they are still beautiful, elegant and graceful.
 Now to Mum's delicate apple blossom - about a month late, but stunning.
 It is just such a pretty flower and the dark pink buds highlight the white petals.
Spring has finally sprung. Hooray!

Tuesday 14 May 2013

Crochet - my first attempt

 Yesterday evening, with some trepidation, I headed out for my first (of two) beginner's crochet class.  I had been told we would be making a hat and possibly a flower.  Here's how I got on.  It was undone quite a few times and I had the dubious pleasure of being the slowest crocheter there.  I have to say, at this stage, I am not sure my attempt will ever become a hat!
I am the sort of person who talks severely to inanimate objects if they fail to do what I insist they need to do (my work colleague, Leanne, can verify this as I am often to be found telling the computer/printer/other inanimate office equipment off).  The wool needed to be spoken to several times (much to the amusement of the other people in the class).  I know that my attempt is far from perfect and, to be honest, I am not sure that crochet and I will have a long-term relationship, but we shall see.  I would like to be able to make granny squares, ripple patterns and flowers...hmm...
I am also rather concerned because I have put my crochet down and haven't done any today, so when I do pick it up again, will I:
1.  Be able to find where I was in the pattern?
2.  Be able to remember how to do the stitches - tr 3, ch3, tr 3, or was that tr 3, ch 1, tr 3?  Or something else altogether?!
Wish me luck next week!

Saturday 11 May 2013

Purple and Orange

Purple and Orange, or to quote from the film Four Weddings and a Funeral, "The ecclesiastical purple and the pagan orange symbolising the mystical symbiosis in marriage between the heathen and Christian traditions".
 No, I just love the colours!  Tulip 'Ballerina' contrasted with Tulip 'Little Beauty' (a gift in the Cosy Autumn Swap) in the top photo and then Tulip 'Black Parrot' below.
 I also like the contrast of green and purple in Black Parrot - this was at the beginning of the week.
I think I am a little obsessed with Ballerina.  It does seems to be extremely photogenic.  The shape seems to change too.
More Black Parrot, this morning.
 The colours are so rich and luxurious, like a velvet.
Just look at Ballerina with the sun shining through the petals!
 The lilac is flowering too.  It was a large tree when we moved here, twenty years ago, but it was felled by very strong winds a couple of years ago.  I though we had lost it, but it has grown back from the base and the flowers are around head height now, so we can really enjoy it.  Nature is marvellous, isn't it?
Delicate and beautifully scented flowers.

Saturday 4 May 2013

Tulipmania begins!

My tulips are looking fantastic!  If you need a boost of bright colour, you have come to the right place.

These are the Tulip Triumph Double - a mix of colours ranging from white to pink, through yellow and orange to red.  They really do lift the spirits.
I couldn't resist some close ups...
The colours just 'zing', don't they?
I like the slightly dusky tones of this pink.  I wouldn't have thought this colour would work with the bright yellows and oranges, but somehow, it seems to.
This is what they look like when the sun shines on them.
Orange is not one of my favourite colours, but I do like it in tulips.  Me, contrary?  Surely not!
I took these photos today, just after a rain shower.  I do like the way the water droplets are caught on the petals.
Here are Tulip 'Black Parrot', showing the intricate frills on the petals.  Still a bit more waiting for this one.  I think I may have crammed too many into the tub, so the flowers may be a little smaller, but we shall see.
More orange, but this time, in the rather delicate and elegant 'Ballerina'.  Here they are yesterday...
...and today!  Gorgeous colours and I can confirm that they are scented too. This is definitely one I shall keep having in the garden.
If all that riot of colour was too much and you need more soothing tones, how about the lilac against the blue sky?  In a few more days, it will be fully out.
Finally, the magnolia is also looking and smelling amazing.  There will be more tulip photos to come - I think I may be just a little obsessed by them at the moment.