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Friday, 20 October 2017

Candy Cane Socks - and a new heel flap!

Normally, I don't like to think about *whispers* Christmas until Hallowe'en has been and gone.  I'm not a Bah Humbug kind of person at all, and I might have been buying the odd present here and there when I've seen the perfect something for someone, but that doesn't really count.  I just don't want to see decorations and cards in the shops just yet, and I am very glad that every advert on the TV doesn't have jingly music in the background, although I know it is coming!

However, I did make an exception for the lovely squishy parcel that came in the post for me from West Yorkshire Spinners ... top secret Christmas yarn!  

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

British Knitting & Crochet Awards 2017

This was my view on last Thursday afternoon as I got out of a taxi at Alexandra Palace and looked across the London skyline.  I'd travelled down from Warrington earlier that morning to meet up with Lucy, Emma (one of the Yarndale organisers) and Fiona from Yarn Etc to go to the Knitting & Stitching Show and the British Knitting & Crochet Awards presentation.  We'd managed to meet up without mishap at King's Cross Station and after a quick stop at our hotel to drop our bags off, hopped into a black cab for the drive across the city.

It's quite a view, isn't it?  I like that there's so much greenery in London, you could be forgiven for thinking that there's nothing but brick and glass here but it isn't like that at all.

That pointy building over on the right is the Shard and close by are other famous London landmarks that I normally only see in TV programmes or on the news.  I always feel as if I'm on a film set when I go to London; I have to make a conscious effort not to walk around with my mouth hanging open like some kind of country bumpkin!

Friday, 13 October 2017

No-nylon sock yarn review: Blacker Yarns Tamar Lustre Blend 4ply

I finished knitting my Blacker Yarns Tamar Lustre Blend 4ply socks just before the Edinburgh Yarn Festival in March this year.  I was really pleased with them.  The pattern is Arwen from The Sock Drawer by Verity Castledine, one of those patterns that is actually not that hard at all but looks very effective.  I thoroughly enjoyed knitting these socks, both the pattern and the yarn were a delight to knit - but enough of that!  You want to know what's happened to them six months on so that you can decide whether this yarn will make it into your own sock drawer ...

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Winwick Mum Sockalong Knit n Natter Meet Up

What are you doing on Saturday 4 November? There's a Winwick Mum knit n natter meet up planned ... do come along if you're free!  You don't have to be a knitter, bring any craft project you like and meet some new friends!

Monday, 9 October 2017

Yarndale 2017 - My favourite moments

It seems longer than two weeks ago that Yarndale filled the Auction Mart in Skipton; already October has arrived and the nights are drawing in.  It's been lovely to look back on my Yarndale photos this last week as I've got ready to write this post.  I absolutely love the Yarndale weekend and being involved with the festival (thank you so much for all your comments on my Yarndale Sock Line post - I will reply to them soon!), and my heart swells with happiness from the moment I get into my car, loaded down with socks, books, emergency chocolate (totally essential for a Yarndale weekend!) and my shopping list of yarns and treats that I want to look at.

This is the fifth time I've visited Yarndale and the third time that I've been involved in the festival.  I don't think I'll ever get tired of it.  Would you like to have a look at some of my photos too?  Get ready for a photo-heavy post of my favourite Yarndale moments!  (Disclaimer:  it's also very long - I did consider splitting it into two posts but thought you might have had enough of Yarndale by now.  Feel free to have a lie down in the middle if you need to.)

 💜   Setting up 

One of the things I like most about Yarndale is the way that it reminds me how closely connected we are as crafters to the farmers and the sheep that produce our yarn.  There's always a smell of livestock in the Auction Mart even though the floors are scrubbed, and here's why ...

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Yarndale Sock Line 2017

Do you know, I think sometimes that I must spend my life wandering along in a bit of a daze.  

When I announced in January of 2015, "Right, that's it, I'm going to write some tutorials to show people it's really not hard to knit socks", I never imagined that the Sockalong would be as useful or as popular as it has been.  Later that same year, when the idea of the Yarndale Sock Line came along, I had no idea that it would now be in it's third year and we would have more socks than ever before to give away to people who need them.  

And when I say "more socks", I mean "more socks"!  In our first year, we had 75 pairs to donate, last year we had 160 pairs and this year we've got ... not so fast!  I like to make you wait for this bit :)

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Monthly Musing - September 2017 - "On the last day of September"

Every year on this day, I find myself singing the children’s song “Oh, the big ship sails on the alley alley oh” because the final line of each verse is “on the last day of September”.  I don’t know what the big ship was or where the alley alley oh was either (and neither, it appears does Google), but isn’t it funny what sticks in your mind from being younger? 

I was listening to the radio the other night and the presenter played a song that I hadn’t heard since my teens.  Within a few notes of the song starting, I remembered all the words, the time of the year, how I felt at the time, the clothes that I wore … apparently we never forget anything, we just forget how to remember it.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Drum roll please ....

I've got some super-exciting posts coming up over this next week or so - Yarndale (which was just fabulous fun), the Yarndale Sock Line (which truly blew me away this year) - and this one!

Earlier this year, I was so happy to tell you that I'd been nominated in the British Knitting and Crochet Awards for Favourite Knitting Blog with Winwick Mum.  These are the industry-leading awards for the crafting industry run by Let's Knit and Let's Get Crafting magazines and it's a huge honour just to get on the nominations list.  

Friday, 22 September 2017

See you there!

By the time you read this, I'll be on my way to Yorkshire to help set up for this year's Yarndale festival.  I love the setting up as much as the festival itself and ooh, it's going to be a good one this year!  I've been very excited to read the exhibitor list and see that there are going to lots of new exhibitors as well as familiar faces - don't worry, I'll be sure to tell you all about it (whether you like it or not!) when I get back.  

Sunday, 17 September 2017

DJ Winwick Mum

Another weekend already!  I hope you're having a good one!  

It's been another busy week here - small daughter is still loving high school  and had a new friend over to play (it's been a big relief to know that her first couple of weeks have been a success and yes, they're still at that age when they "play", which is lovely) and big daughter went back to university this weekend.  She's not very far away from us and it suits us all very well for her to come home whenever she feels like it, although I'm not sure that I always appreciate all the washing that comes back with her, or the food that disappears from the fridge when she leaves again!

You'll see that the title of this post is "DJ Winwick Mum" - no, I'm not about to become a disco queen or take to the airwaves, but as I was writing it struck me that all of the things I want to tell you about are connected, so I hope you'll forgive my DJ links! :) 

First up, Yarndale looms ever closer - it's next weekend!   Are you coming up to Skipton?  You are going to be stunned by this year's Yarndale Sock Line if you are - there are so many pairs of socks and they are all beautiful.  Such a range of sizes too, we're going to be keeping toes cosy from the tiniest to the largest pairs of feet and that's amazing!

Saturday, 9 September 2017

First week back

Hello, and how are you?  

Safe and dry, I hope - the weather this week has been quite wet and wild, the tail end no doubt of the hurricane which has battered the Caribbean and east coast of America.  Whilst a bit of heavy rain here has been nothing compared to what people there are going through, it makes you realise that we are all connected in some way on our small blue planet and we have an obligation to keep it safe so that we can keep all of us safe.  I send my thoughts and prayers to everyone affected by Hurricane Irma and hope that it blows itself out soon.

It's also the end of the first week back to school for us; this year it's been the same but different as small daughter has gone to high school and our school runs to the primary school are over.  Am I missing them?  Not at the moment!  Neither is small daughter who has thoroughly enjoyed her first week at high school and is looking forward to next week already.  I have to say that the first morning's achievement of being up and dressed by 6am wasn't repeated, but we've not had any issues with getting her out of the house on time!

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Northern Yarn Shop Opening

On Saturday morning, I woke up to a damp and foggy morning in Winwick.  On the second day of September!  It's too early for autumn weather and I was very thankful, as I drove north towards Lancaster, to see the sun break through the clouds and the fields become bright with late summer light.

Why was I going to Lancaster?  It's nearly a year ago that I bought my first skeins of Northern Yarn Poll Dorset Lambswool 4ply with the intention of seeing how it knitted up into no-nylon socks.  At the time, I had no idea that the socks I would knit would be my Easy Cable Socks and that I'd love them as much as I do, or that Kate from Northern Yarn and I would stay in touch, that Kate would swap her three-times-weekly market stall for a bricks and mortar shop or that I would find myself driving to Lancaster on a bright September morning for the shop opening.  I like the way that life works out like this, taking us down roads that are away from our planned routes.  Sometimes they turn out to be dead ends, sometimes they're not pleasant journeys at all, but often they are a wonderful surprise that enriches our lives in a way that we never expected.

And that's how I found myself spending the day at 74 Penny Street, Lancaster, the new home of Northern Yarn and Penny Street Collectables, a joint collaboration between Kate and her friend Jess.  

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Northern Yarn Lancaster shop opening - Saturday 2 September 2017

I mentioned this a week or so ago but a quick reminder here ...

if you're anywhere around Lancaster today (Saturday 2 September), do come and say hello at the new Northern Yarn shop at 74 Penny Street, Lancaster, LA1 1XN.  

It'll be open from 10am to 4pm, I'll be there to admire socks and answer any questions you might have.  Also sharing the shop with lots of fabulous yarn is Penny Street Collectables so there will be plenty to browse.  Hope to see you there! 

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Monthly Musing - August 2017 - Friends

I’ve just spent the last two days in the company of a friend whom I haven’t seen nearly enough of in the last couple of years.  We have talked non-stop, mixing current topics of conversation with reminiscences, remembering our children playing together when they were tiny (and we have the photos to prove it, even though they are now both nearly out of their teens!), sharing creative ideas, eating good food and clinking glasses on more than one occasion.  Even though I’ve not long returned from a holiday which restored my energy levels wonderfully, these past hours have replenished my well-being tanks in an entirely different way and I have come home buzzing with ideas, plans and good intentions.

What is it about some people that has this effect on us?  Nobody walks around with a sign on their heads which says “I’d be a really good friend for you”, and sometimes even on first meeting there might be an instant connection but nothing that says that nearly twenty years later, you’ll still be in contact with someone who makes you laugh so hard that you snort your drink out of your nose in a most undignified manner.  I am truly blessed that I have more than one friend in my life like this – they’re all different and they all complement different parts of me (as I hope I do for them), but they all help to make up the complete picture of my life.  I wouldn’t be without any of them.

Sunday, 27 August 2017


Did you hear that?  Whoosh!  There it goes again - the sound of the summer holidays rushing past.  How did that happen?

In less than two weeks, small daughter will be starting high school; in four weeks' time it'll be Yarndale.  It's only a couple of weeks since I was sitting under a sun shade with my biggest decision being whether to go for a dip in the pool or to persuade someone to pour me another glass of iced tea, and in some moments it feels like I've dreamt it.

Those particular moments have been when I've been up in the attic this week.  Our attic is a dusty, cobwebby kind of place and not somewhere that I'd ordinarily choose to spend my days, but my husband has been working away so I've taken the opportunity to bring stuff down to sort it out as there's not much room to move up there.  He's not terribly tolerant of mess so the girls and I decided we'd make the most of being able to take a couple of days to reorganise their bedrooms and make a start on the attic decluttering.  Our landing has been a bit of an obstacle course for the last week but it's been worth it.  Furniture has moved from one bedroom to another, a new wardrobe has been built after the door fell off the old one and couldn't be repaired (thank goodness IKEA is just down the road!) and numerous trips to the tip and the charity shop are now in the pipeline for the week to come.   There's still a lot to sort out up there although it feels great to have at least made a start, to have organised some of the boxes and collected together some of the random things that have been left up there.  For years, I've just put things in bags or boxes and shoved them up through the access point thinking "I'll sort that out another day".  Fourteen years later, I'm regretting that plan as it's now a REALLY a big job ...!

Anyway, moving swiftly on to less cobwebby things ...

First up, my treat for surviving the attic this weekend is to get to play with the new Blacker Yarns birthday yarn called Brushwork which will be launching at Yarndale.  You may have seen some of this around on social media over the last week or so; the Blacker birthday yarns are always a bit special and this one is no different.  Each shade is named after a painting technique and the lovely, heathered colours really do look like watercolours or inks.

It's a blend of British yarns - Scottish Bowmont, Castlemilk Moorit and British Alpaca and this is what Sonja at Blacker Yarns has to say about the breeds:

"Scottish Bowmont are very special sheep, their fibre is renowned for its superb fine quality.  They were originally developed by crossing Saxon Merino with Shetland, to make a Merino-style sheep which could live comfortably in the UK's damp climate.  The majority of Scottish Bowmont fibre goes into luxury garment manufacturing, so we were thrilled when Sue (Blacker, owner of Blacker Yarns) managed to purchase a bale for Blacker Yarns.  We immediately knew we had to do something truly special with this one-of-a-kind fibre.

We've chosen to blend our Bowmont with 10% Castlemilk Moorit, a breed listed as "at risk" on the RBST Watchlist - there are only around 1,000 of these sheep left in the UK.  Castlemilk sheep produce a wonderfully plump and bouncy fudge brown fleece which adds a depth of colour and a touch of rustic character to this yarn.  To give a little more drape and luxury to this lofty, woollen-spun yarn we added 20% British Alpaca, and we adore the resulting blend!"

You can guess what I thought when I heard this - what amazing socks these would be!  Sadly, Sonja has told me that this yarn is not for socks (although part of me is still tempted to try ;) ) but she was still kind enough to send me a ball in my favourite colour to squish.  Oh, it's lovely!  I haven't knitted it up yet but I'm really looking forward to casting on to see how it comes out on the needles.  I'll keep you posted! 

There is sock news to share with you, as you'd expect.  I've finished the first of my Angee socks which I started on holiday and I'm really pleased with how it's turned out.  I wasn't sure if I'd lose the pattern in the colour variegations in the yarn (Wool is the Answer 4ply in shade Blueberry Mash) but it's OK and in real life, the pattern stands out nicely.

I'm no further on with the other holiday socks as I've turned my attention to some commission knitting which I'll be able to tell you about later in the year, but I'm super-excited about it and thrilled that someone has wanted to commission socks by me!  We never know how life is going to turn out, do we, and I am eternally grateful that mine allows me to fill mine with knitting and socks!

And there's more sock news.  This is a sock-heavy post!  Last week, small daughter and I headed up to Skipton to meet up with Lucy and the younger two of her Little Peeps.  Small daughter gets on very well with them and we decided to meet up at Billy Bob's Parlour, a 1950s themed American diner with an indoor and outdoor play area so that we'd cope with whatever the weather threw at us.  As it happened, it was a lovely day and we sat outside with hot drinks whilst the three youngsters threw themselves about on rope swings and leapt off straw bales.  They all looked like Worzel Gummidge when we went into the diner for lunch!   

And here's what I brought back with me ...

Three huge bags full of sock parcels.  Wow, thank you so much!  I'm really looking forward to opening these up over next week when small daughter will be on hand to help with the cataloguing.  We had quite a system going with the last lot and she's been able to indulge in some serious parcel-opening which is a always a nice thing to do but not something that often happens when you don't get much post yourself.  You can see the socks that have arrived so far here and I'll be adding the new socks in as we open them.

Right then, I'm off out with the dog now to blow the remaining cobwebs away and enjoy some of the Bank Holiday sunshine instead of shifting boxes.  Have a wonderful rest of the weekend, whatever you're doing! 

Friday, 18 August 2017

Home again

We've been away for the last ten days, soaking up Spanish sun, Sangria and having a thoroughly restful time.  It's been bliss! 

We took big daughter's boyfriend with us and the five of us fitted very nicely into a house on a hill about an hour's drive from Alicante.  We had a pool and an amazing view and nowhere to be in a hurry on any day.  I never got tired of looking out at the sea, watching the boats making their way across the bay from behind the Penon de Ifach, that huge rock that you can see on the right of the photo. 

In fact, that view became more fascinating than any TV programme as we watched a thunder storm roll over the bay (if you look closely, you can see the rain falling from the clouds) ...

and completely hiding the rock.  I love thunder storms.  This one rumbled around for hours, huge flashes of sheet lightning making the night sky as bright as day.  It was certainly the most spectacular one we've seen for a while and had the added benefit of dropping the humidity quite considerably.

I'm always fascinated by the flowers that grow in other countries.  Plants that grow outside to an enormous size whilst here in the UK they're destined to be forever houseplants, growing to a fraction of their potential as long as someone remembers to water them.  It's a bit sad really, and I speak as one who's not always very good at remembering to water houseplants.  I don't know what the blue flowers are ...

but I do know that this is a Bougainvillea ...

and this one is an Hibiscus.  The house owners obviously liked these as there were lots of them in different colours, all blooming prolifically despite being grown in what looked like barren, compacted earth.

This is how I spent the early mornings.  A brew and a sock.  It doesn't get better than that!  This is my Magic Mirror sock knitted in Whistlebare yarn.  It grew really quickly, and this yarn is gorgeous to knit with; soft and silky with a beautiful sheen.  I'm still a bit worried that I might not have enough to finish my pair with the pattern, but I'll keep going and see how I get on.  The pattern is very well-written and even though I'm converting a toe-up pattern, I've not had any problems with making the chart fit the sock.

That early morning moment was where I spotted this little chap too.  I think it's a grasshopper but I could be wrong.  

There were cicadas in abundance too, making a noise in the trees that sounded like a hundred hedge-trimmers all being used at once.  They're so loud!  We had to keep fishing them out of the pool as well; they're a funny looking insect and not one that you'd think would be inspired to try swimming. They weren't very good at it.  

These were a BIG hit in the pool, though.  Big daughter bought them at home and we brought them with us (fortunately, they weren't as heavy as I expected them to be) and they were good fun.  No, there are no pictures of me riding the unicorn (not that I'm prepared to show you, anyway!) mostly because it was surprisingly difficult to stay on it so we have lots of photos of legs in the air as whoever was riding it disappeared underwater.  Sadly, the flamingo didn't make it home as it was so well-used that it popped.  Adios, "flingamingo".

Staying for ten days meant that it didn't matter too much if we didn't really do anything for the first few days as we still had over a week of our holiday left.  I had a lovely time sitting under a sunshade knitting socks, getting into the whole siesta culture thing (is there a nicer way to snooze than in the shade with a cool breeze stirring the umbrella from time to time?) and generally being very lazy having a rest.

Yes, you did read me right.  I did say "socks".  My early morning sock is not the only sock I've been knitting.  I don't know if you can read the words on this sock blank but they say "Yarndale Rocks Handknit Socks" and it was a gift from Julie at Suffolk Socks at Yarndale last year.  I've never used a sock blank before - all to do with not wanting to spoil the picture and worrying about getting a match, clearly sock blanks are not designed for people with stripe OCD! :) - but I thought this would be perfect for plane knitting.  

Yes, I did knit on the plane.  I took my 25cm wooden Symphonie circular needle and had already cast on so that it was obvious that I was creating something.  If you're flying from the UK, the latest Government guidelines do state that you can take knitting needles on planes but there's always a risk that someone in security might not want you to, so I had to be ready to hand it over if that happened. I don't know what I'd have done if they had; cried in security probably and made a bit of an embarrassing scene but fortunately for me, Manchester airport security weren't worried about me or my sock and we went on our way. 

I took this one too.  If you think you've seen this yarn before then you're right.  A short while ago it was the Bumpy, Curved Trail sock and now it is Angee by Cookie A, something which both the yarn and I are much happier about.  Another well-written pattern which has been a pleasure to knit.  In fact, I think my socks have been pretty happy on holiday in general.  They've been to the pool ...

to the beach ...

and have admired that lovely view.  Spoilt, these socks have been.

Not so spoilt that I let them loose on the flamingo and the unicorn, though.  

It only takes a day or two of doing not very much at all to feel as if you're ready to go out and explore. We drove up and down the coast to visit beaches and seaside towns ...

and into small hill towns to look at their historical churches and squares ...

wander up and down the narrow streets ...

and sit in cafes to watch the world go by.  I loved that the underside of these balconies right outside the cafe had decorated tiles.  How thoughtful of the builder to think that someone looking up might want to see something more beautiful than concrete!

It's nice to be home again, but I will miss the view.

And that sky.

Back home, I was thrilled to see that our tomatoes had ripened just in time for our return and I wasn't faced with lots of soggy, over-ripe mush at the bottom of the plants where they'd all fallen off.  Home grown tomatoes are such a treat, I must confess that not as many go back into the house as I pick from the plants :)

And I was surprised to see that some new spiky plants had grown.  I went over to take a closer look.

Nooo!  This is all that remains of my sprout plants.  It looks like we won't be having sprouts for Christmas dinner after all.  I'm very cross and very disappointed too.  

Here are the culprits ...

They're the caterpillars of the cabbage white butterfly.  I'm all for supporting wildlife, but this is ridiculous!  There are hundreds of them, they're all over the place, climbing up over the house as well now to make their chrysalises.  I might have to take drastic action which, as an organic gardener, doesn't feel right but on the other hand I think the damage is done now so maybe I'll just leave them.  I'll have to take more care to cover my sprouts up next year; my Dad didn't have this problem so it didn't occur to me that I would.  Ah well, you live and learn.

I'll just try to keep calm and remember the sound of the waves on the sand.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Addressing the mess

Even during the school holidays, my determination to get to grips with the clutter we have in our house has endured.  It's been so tempting to say "nah, leave it, I'll do it in September", but I know that in September I'm going to be busy with a new sock workshop at Black Sheep Wools and then Yarndale so the mess will get pushed to one side and before I know it, it'll be Christmas and I'll have done nothing about it.  

A month or so ago I showed you a book that I'd bought on Hygge decluttering which really kick-started the process (and I found the skirt that I'd thought I'd re-homed by accident - under another pile of clothes ... oops!).  By coincidence my husband, already inordinately impressed by the progress that I'd made, had been talking to a friend who had recently moved house and recommended a book that my husband thought I would like.  My husband is a pretty ruthless declutterer himself and finds my inability to part with stuff quite frustrating at times although he never feels the need to step in and sweep all of my mess into bin bags, something for which I am very thankful!  

I must confess that I had read about this book although I'd never actually read the book itself, and despite not having read it I had already decided that it was too extreme for someone like me who struggles to let go of stuff that I think might be useful in the future (cue photo of our garage, full of stuff that might be useful one day ...)  

Anyway, I thanked my husband for buying it for me, thought I might as well look at the first pages whilst I had a brew before storing it neatly on the bookshelf never to be looked at again ... and oh my life, what a revelation!  I had finished reading the book within the day!  Not only that, I had been back into my wardrobe and now understanding the whole concept of "spark joy", I understood exactly why I regretted giving away certain things during previous decluttering missions and why I still had stuff that I shouldn't really have been giving storage room to.  And, as the icing on the cake, I can now do the origami clothes folding thing and there is space in the drawers that previously wouldn't shut!  The folding may not be perfect but it works for me and I am beyond excited.  And what's really interesting is the "life changing magic" effect started almost immediately, not least as big daughter decided that she would sort through her clothes and fold them in the same way.  

After my success in the wardrobe, I decided to ignore the recommended decluttering path to follow in the book and headed straight into the garage.  That mess wasn't quite so quick to resolve and after two days and several trips to the tip it still wasn't finished, but at least this time I can see a proper purpose to what I'm doing and why I'm keeping the stuff that I have.  I will get there!

I've also been decluttering in the garden.  I spent a lovely weekend in the Cotswolds with one of my best friends a couple of weekends ago.  Naturally, we looked for a yarn shop in the area ...

This is TheFibreworks in Chipping Norton, packed full of all kinds of delicious yarns including lots of local Wensleydale and alpaca yarns.  They run lots of great workshops too, and even have their own fibre festival every year so if you're in the area, it's definitely worth a visit.

The best thing about a grown ups' weekend away is that we were able to have a fantastic time doing exactly what we wanted to do - which usually when we get together, as we're both gardeners, is to head to big gardens to see what we could adapt for our own.  

My garden is currently a bit of a jungle; the recent rain has not helped either as overnight the grass looks like a field and the borders are full of lush greenery but not many flowers as they've all been smothered by the leaves or eaten by the slugs and snails which clearly multiply more rapidly in relation to the amount of rain that falls.  Anyway, having admired the beautiful borders of Hidcote and Kiftsgate, I have come home inspired to do something about ours and have already started clearing out some of the overgrown vegetation.  I'm keeping myself inspired by having plants ready to go in once there's space for them - ones that slugs and snail are not that tempted by too.  It will mean quite a rethink of the borders but that's actually quite a nice thing to contemplate and will make the garden a nicer place to sit out in.  If it ever stops raining.

In the pictures above are Heuchera, Fuschia, Dianthus, Lavender "Hidcote" (of course!) and Phlox.

Fancy a quick whizz around the garden whilst we're talking about it?  There's not a great deal to show you (see above) but my Dad's rose bush has flowered ...

It's called "Braveheart" and was originally bought for him in memory of my Mum so I couldn't leave it at his house, no matter how much I was tempted to and I was tempted ... it's a bit of a vicious thing ...

It's in a pot at the moment as there's no way I'm putting those thorns in my border - I'm bound to forget it's there and get my arms ripped to bits as I'm weeding.  Still, it does make the name rather apt as it's certainly no shy and retiring rose plant!

In the greenhouse, I have an abundance of tomatoes and yes, they're all green.  They've been green for quite some time and despite my leaving ripe tomatoes from another plant in there to encourage them to ripen, they're not having any of it.  I will look forward to a glut of them as they all ripen at the same time and we have tomatoes coming out of our ears! :)

A solitary poppy in amongst the courgettes.  I've no idea how that got there.

Teasel heads.  I let these grow in one of my veg boxes one year as I know the goldfinches love them, and now I have them every year.  They're huge and spiky and although they might be a bit of a mistake in a small veg garden, I love them too!

These also look very spiky but actually, they're quite soft to the touch.  Echinops ritro these are, also known as globe thistle, and a favourite of the bees.  I was quite surprised not to see them covered with bees when I went to photograph them but there's a hover fly on the middle flower instead, obviously taken advantage of the opportunity to get in there whilst it can.

You wouldn't expect me not to have got some knitting time in during the holidays as well ... the other day small daughter and I headed off to an indoor trampoline park, so that she could burn off a bit of energy.  You'll note that I said that she could burn off a bit of energy.  I sat and watched her with my cup of hot chocolate and my Bumpy, Curved Trail sock.  It's not been going quite as well as I want it to; the pattern isn't the easiest to follow and now I've had to unpick the heel as the pattern wouldn't fit properly across the top of the foot.

I also ended up having to unpick the start of the gusset several times because of the way the pattern moves and disappears into the decreases (see, even those of us who've knitted socks for years can have problems with a pattern!), and I even transferred it all over onto a magic loop until I got it sorted so that I could keep the gusset and heel stitches more separate than on a short circular.  This is why it's handy to be able to use all types of needles when you knit so that you can swap and change to make life easier for yourself.  Once I'd got the pattern set again I intended to go back to my short circular as it's faster for me to use that, but in the meantime this did the trick.  

Or maybe not.  After spending more time on it, I came to the conclusion that I wasn't enjoying this sock and even though I was over half way through it, I decided that I was going to frog it (technical knitting term for when you rip-it, rip-it, rip-it out :) ) and I'm going to find a different pattern instead. I never used to give up on a pattern (in a similar way to how I would drag myself to the end of a book even if I hated it) but I've decided that life's too short and if I'm not enjoying it there's no point in spending my time on it.  Obviously, there are some exceptions to this rule but this sock is not one of them.  I might choose to go back to it later (especially after having worked out how the pattern actually worked) with a different yarn, or I might not.  It doesn't really matter.  Goodbye Bumpy, Curved Trail socks.

I do have some happy knitting to show you though.  This is a new sock - surely I'm not the only one who casts on something new when I've been getting cross with an existing project?  It's a pattern called Magic Mirror and although it's designed as a toe up sock, I'm knitting it top down because that's what I prefer to do.  The pattern works either way up so although I initially thought I would have to knit the pattern upside down, that hasn't been the case.  

This very gorgeous sea glass turquoise-coloured yarn is Whistlebare Cuthbert's Sock, a blend of Wensleydale and mohair and yes, this will be another no-nylon yarn review.  It's beautifully soft to knit with and I'm hoping that doesn't mean it's going to wear through too quickly, although the mohair content (also known as nature's nylon) should help to stop that.  I bought this yarn at Woolfest last year and now that I've come to knit it up, I am slightly concerned that there are only 250m of yarn in my skein - Whistlebare have since changed their skeins so that they now contain 300m of yarn - but it is knitting up a little bigger than commercially produced 4ply and this sock has a cast on of 56 stitches rather than the usual 60 that I would cast on so I'm hoping it will be OK. Anyway, I shall keep knitting and weighing my ball of yarn and if I have to make adjustments to the pattern to get two socks out of the ball then I'll do that when I need to.  Isn't that one of the best things about knitting socks?  They're usually very easy to alter to suit your own foot and yarn needs.

Finally, if you've not already seen it then Lucy's Creative Project for Yarndale - crocheted hearts - is now on the Yarndale blog with more about the patterns on her blog and if you have socks and hearts to send up for Yarndale, it's fine to put them both in the same envelope.  I'll be going back up to Skipton in a week or so to collect the parcels that Lucy says are coming in daily - thank you so much! - and if you've not seen them already, the socks that have come in so far are up on this year's Pinterest board here.

Have a lovely weekend!