Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Gateshead Summer Flower Show

Even though we've had a lot of rain lately, there have been a few sunny spells inbetween the showers. Some of the bedding plants are looking quite bedraggled, but there are a lot of plants still flowering well, showing off their colours in the summer sunshine.

The Met Office have now said that it doesn't look as if we're going to get the BBQ summer that they predicted for us in May. The heatwave lasted for about a week here, and we've had showers and sunny spells since then. Ho hum, the great British summer. As a gardener I do appreciate the rain though, I just wish we didn't have so much of it all at once. I can cope with two days of rain if it's sandwiched around a day of lovely sunshine!

I'm hoping that the weather will be dry and sunny on Saturday as I'm off to the Gateshead Summer Flower Show with my mam and sister. We all love gardening so it's a great day out and a chance to spend some quality time together. The family gardening gene has missed my brother out though! He's a very creative person in other ways (working with wood and doing lots of DIY projects amongst other things) but he sees gardening as a real chore and would rather pave it all. He does appreciate a pretty garden though!

Back to the show - as well as the plants, garden furniture, sculptures, etc. for sale at the show, there's nursery and plant association displays, a huge floral art competition, a farmers' market, and a big craft marquee too. It's fab! I try to save my pennies for the show because there's some great stuff to buy - I usually start my Christmas shopping in the craft marquee! I'll definitely be taking my camera, so hopefully I'll post some images of the show over the weekend.

It's £7.00 to get in, which is a bargain really as it is a full day out, and there's so much to be inspired by. However, if you put an entry into one of the Amateur Exhibit classes you get a free ticket! It costs £1.00 to enter up to five classes and you could win a prize in each. There are 375 classes to choose from, ranging from 'a bowl of sweet peas to be viewed all round', to a 'basket of vegetables arranged for effect', to '2 jars of light honey' and many more. So whatever your talent, there's a chance for everyone to exhibit something handmade or homegrown.

I'm entering one of the handicraft classes with this crocheted bag that I made a couple of months ago. The design was in Simply Knitting magazine, issue 55 (June 09). The colours used in the magazine were very rich and vibrant, but I was making this bag for our holiday in Cornwall so I decided to go with creamy, icecream shades. I'm really happy with the way it turned out as it was my first real crochet project - and now I just can't stop hooking!

Monday, 27 July 2009

Model #1 and experimenting with pretty things

I thought it would be a nice idea to have a photographic record of my customers wearing/using the item that they bought from Bliss Knits. So here is my first model (drum roll please)...

Ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together for Marjorie from County Durham!

Marjorie recently bought my Peppermint Sunglasses Pouch. She said: "I loved the design, and the colour!"

And with all this rain we've been having, Marjorie's sunglasses have certainly been tucked up nice and cosy in their very own protective pouch. Hopefully the sun will shine again soon.

The rubbish weather yesterday give me an excuse to play indoors for a change - I had a lovely day experimenting with lovely bright yarns, pretty buttons, shiny sequins and sparkly beads.

I'm working on a range of bright and cheerful keyrings at the minute and it gives me a chance to be creative with all the bits and pieces that I've hoarded over the years.

Here's a sneak preview of some of the designs. I'll be listing them on Folksy as soon as I get a nice batch together.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Dad's old greenhouse

Hubby and I went out for a lovely Italian meal last night to celebrate our 16th wedding anniversary. I can't believe it's been that long since we got married; time certainly flies when you're enjoying yourself.

Consequently, after a big meal and a few drinks I had to have a bit of a lie in this morning (and it's Saturday!) so I missed the most exciting (and dangerous) part of the day. I'll start at the beginning...

My Dad loved his garden, and he was also a bit of a DIY expert; he'd try his hand at anything really. So when my parents got the wonderful new double glazing fitted my Dad decided to recycle the old window frames and made a greenhouse at the top of the garden. We reckon that was about 30 years ago.

The whole family were quite sentimental about it; Dad sadly passed away in September 2004 and we associated the old greenhouse with him - sowing seeds, tending his bonsai, or just having a cup of coffee and some peace in his den!

After three decades the greenhouse had seen better days and was actually getting quite dangerous with loose timbers leading to possibly loose glass.

Mam agreed that it would be a good idea to look for a new greenhouse, so we ordered a few brochures online and spent a couple of Saturday afternoons deciding what she'd like. And then we ordered, and waited (only three weeks!).

The new greenhouse is due to arrive next week, so we set about taking the old one down today. My sister and her hubby turned up at 8.30am, but as I'd had a late night celebrating I didn't turn up 'til 10.15am and missed a lot of the 'fun'!

The roof came down easy enough, but Dad had put the greenhouse together so well that when they tried to take each panel down the whole side came down too. Sister's hubby's face was a picture, I'm told, as he was in the middle of it all!! So when I turned up the greenhouse was mostly gone, and Mam's, sister's and her hubby's hearts rates had just returned to normal!

We still spent another few hours knocking down the walls (great fun!) and sweeping up. I'm sure Dad was watching us today - having a good laugh, no doubt!

It's amazing the space that's left though, it looks so small considering how big the greenhouse was and what was in it.

So, watch this space for the next installment...

I'm off now for my bacon sarnie. Hubby has gone to Scotland today for a football match (Annan Athletic v Queen's Park FC) and to meet up with an old mate, so I'm being naughty and having a bacon sarnie, can of Coke and a Twirl for my tea. I'll put some lettuce in the sarnie though - make it vaguely healthy. Mmmmm!!!

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Pretty beads and clouds

After a bit of fiddling about with buttons and beads of various colours and sizes, I went ahead with clusters of silver beads on the floral crochet napkin rings, and I'm really pleased with them. They just add that little bit more 'oomph' to the flower.

I'm going to list them as a set of four on Folksy tonight. They go really well with a set of coasters that I also have for sale.

The weather is supposed to be getting better in the next few days so here's hoping that everyone will start thinking of eating and drinking outdoors again.

The weather has been so erratic lately. A day of hot sun, followed by a day of torrential rain, followed by three days of showers. The great British weather - we never tire of talking about it do we? I'd hate to live in a country with no seasons and pretty much the same weather every day. That must be so boring! As I've mentioned before, I love sitting out in the sunshine, but as a gardener I know how important the rain is too. One thing I hate though is being cold; I guess that's how I started out making loads of scarves!!

I've always been interested in the weather, but I know very little about the science of it all. I have a few books about the weather, but like most of my books I look at the pictures and read the captions, and then never get round to reading it cover to cover (one day - when I retire!). One of the books is really easy to dip into though - 'The Essential Book of Weather Folklore' by Leslie Alan Horvitz. It's full of old wives tales and superstitions and whether they hold up to scientific fact, or not. As well as the folklore there are a lot of facts and illustrations explaining the science behind the weather. It's a really interesting read for an inquisitive Aquarian like me.

This was the sky at 9.30pm last night. I love how one part of the sky can be so full of fire and drama, and the opposite side is all dreamy and soft. Who could get bored with that? Now I just need to study 'The Cloudspotter's Guide' (Gavin Pretor-Pinney) to find out what kind of clouds they are...

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Sunday in the garden part two

After spending the morning gardening, after lunch I decided to work on another crochet design. I love working outside when it's sunny and warm; the light is so much better outside and it's nice to get some fresh air and watch the bees, birds and butterflies go about their work too - but I'm so easily distracted!

I've been trying to to think of some different items that I can put in my Folsky shop, rather than just the knitted scarves and bags that I've been selling online and at craft fairs for the past year. And now that I've finally got my head around crochet (after year's of my sister telling me, 'But it's so easy!!') new ideas are coming to me faster than I've got time to make them. I'm finding that I can be so much more creative and experimental with crochet. I won't abandon the knitting altogether, but for the minute crochet is king!

So on Sunday, inspired by the summer weather (we had one day of sunshine amongst the sea of rain this week) and thoughts of alfresco dining, surrounded by lovely flowers in my garden, I decided to work on a napkin ring idea that I had.

After making numerous flowers and trying out different colour combinations the floral napkin ring was born.

I like them as they are, but I think I might experiment a bit with embellishments - a pretty button or a cluster of sparkling beads in the centre of each flower might just added that little extra bit of interest. So I'm off to do that now. I'll let you know how they turn out...

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Sunday in the garden

The weather has been lovely today despite the forecast. It's been a little bittle cloudy and a little bit windy but mostly sunny and warm. So, as it's Sunday I've been in the garden ALL DAY. I did some gardening this morning, had lunch in the garden, and then worked on a new crochet design whilst sitting at the bottom of the garden admiring the plants and the watching the bees doing their stuff.

I spent about three hours this morning tidying up after the heavy rain we've had recently - pruning out all the drooping, damaged stems of the lovely pink lupin and gorgeous irridescent blue delphiniums. Overall the plants have survived very well, though some of the bedding plants in pots and baskets are looking slightly dishevelled. The wind today will dry them out a bit.

There ARE some gorgeous looking plants in the garden at the minute. One I'm particularly happy with is Helenium 'Sahin's Early Flowerer'. There are so many shades and textures in this one plant that I can't stop looking at it.

And the bees seem to love it too.

Another plant which is proving popular with the bees is Hebe 'Wiri Dawn'.

And this oriental poppy is so delicate I'm really surprised that it's survived all the bad weather we've had in the last few days. There is so much detail in the flower and the colour is beautiful. I love it!

The beauty of nature always amazes me, and it's a constant source of inspiration and pleasure. Wandering around the garden, looking at the gorgeous flowers and the wildlife going about it's everyday business really lifts my spirits. I couldn't be without it!

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Everyone has to start somewhere

Wow, my first ever post. What do I say? Hmmm... bear with me.

Today has been another day of TORRENTIAL rain - rivers running down the streets, huge pools of standing water to drive through, leaking roofs, soggy pants(!), and soggy plants. This is a photo of my lovely lupins taken a couple of days ago...

...they certainly don't look like that now! The garden is full of bedraggled, drooping specimens that I'll probably have to cut down tomorrow (if it ever stops raining). And in last week's rain the bark path got washed away into a huge pile at the bottom of the garden; I guess I'll be tidying that up again tomorrow. But this inconvenience pales into insignificance when you hear the stories of other people - I don't know about the rest of the country, but in the North East of England people in Morpeth, Rothbury and Durham have been evacuated from their homes again because of flood water. I can only imagine how devastating that must be.

Wow, it's nearly tomorrow already! It's taken me ages to set this blog up, but hopefully now it's up and running I'll post you all my little musings quite frequently. Off to bed now to dream of spending a lovely day tomorrow (now today!) doing some crochet and pottering in the garden in the SUNSHINE (I did say I'd be dreaming...).