Monday, 26 November 2012

Meadowgate Knitclub weekend - WOW

I have just come back from one of the best weekends ever! The knit club at The Wool Sanctuary that I go to every month run by the lovely Suzie Johnson rent out Kirstie Allsopp's Devon holiday home, 'Meadowgate' for a holiday each year. This is the first time I've been able to go, and it was fantastic! I went from Friday evening to Monday morning.

Meadowgate is in North Devon, near a village called 'Welcombe'. The only drawback to it, is that it is accessed by single lane 'roads' (tracks would be a more acurate description) up and down steep hills, sharp corners...and we arrived in the dark, making it a rather terrifying end to an otherwise easy journey. Fortunately I car shared with three other knitters, and am so grateful to Dee for driving. She was very stressed when we finally arrived, but was soon enveloped by the lovely warm house and  relaxed.

Meadowgate
I tried to take pictures unobtrusively as everyone was there to chill out, relax and knit. Mostly we just lounged around in PJs unless venturing to the world outside our lovely cocoon. Here's a selection, some from my phone, some from my camera!


The tv/ playroom

The snug/ study/ drawing room

Fire screen in the twin bedroom

Shell mirror in the main bathroom
Shelving unit in the main bathroom


Beautiful lantern light on the landing


The kitchen

The bedroom in the annexe

Suzie Johnson's original draught excluder made for Kirstie in the tv series 'Kirstie's Homemade Home'

The perfect chair for knitting in the kitchen

The house is beautifully furnished and decorated, with many items still there that are instantly recognisable from Kirstie's tv series and book 'Kirsties Handmade Home'  ( http://www.channel4.com/programmes/kirsties-homemade-home/episode-guide/series-1 ). There are 3 double bedrooms, 1 twin room and a room with 4 bunk beds in the main house and 1 double bedroom in the annexe. I shared a beautiful double room:


'My' room

Lovely vintage mirror and chest of drawers in my room

'My' room

Although we all know each other from knit club, most of us don't know each other outside of that. We spent nearly all of our time knitting, with a bit of crocheting and quilting thrown in for good measure. When we weren't knitting, we were eating, drinking, chatting and laughing - it was a great mix of 14 women for the weekend, with some changing places on Monday for more ladies to arrive. Whilst I was there I did some more of the baby blanket (but there's loads more to do, so pictures another time), knitted a Christmas wreath which just needs 'stuffing' with some foam pipe lagging and making pompoms to attach, pictures to follow ( http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/hampstead-wreath ) and a Christmas Stocking from 'Knit Today' magazine ( http://www.knit-today.com/ ) which I finished in the car on the way home (thanks for the lift Cuckoo)! It just needs a ribbon hanging loop now:


My first ever Christmas stocking

The weather for the weekend was pretty awful, torrential rain and howling winds, as it was for the rest of the country, but I did manage a quick trip to the beach in a dry hour on Sunday morning with Jean. I am SO glad I did, the beach was beautiful - windswept, desolate and had the most amazing rocks! I have studied Geology at the OU and although I'm not studying at the moment, I still love my rocks!

Lovely rocks...


The beautiful, desolate beach

The normally tiny waterfall onto the beach was a flood swollen torrent!

OMG! Look at the strata! Look at the folding...sedimentary heaven...


Stepping stones across the flood swollen stream...not today thanks!

All in all, it was a fantastic weekend away from the real world...perfect escapism...I can't wait to go again. Thanks Suzie  xxx

Off to make two more stockings, as Chris really liked it and thinks we should have one each!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Just in the nick of time

Well, the 'Derecho' shawl is finished! I wanted to give it to my Mum for her birthday on 8th November, and I finally cast off on the evening of 7th November...just in the nick of time! It was made using yarn I had leftover from the Woolsack Olympic Cushion project, all British Wool upto 4 ply in thickness.
Here's the Ravelry link for the pattern :http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/derecho

I forgot to take my camera with me on the day, so these are the only pictures I have at the moment, one with Mum will follow shortly.








I've already started my next project, a baby blanket for Chris' friend from work, Christos and his wife 'the lovely Yvonne' as they are expecting their first baby, a boy, in January. It's a very simple but beautiful Debbie Bliss pattern, made using Baby Cashmerino. I've just started it and will be taking it with my to the polling station on Thursday as I'm work there the whole day as a poll clerk. We aren't expecting a good turnout, so fingers crossed I get a lot of knitting done!

Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino striped blanket
 My niece, Evie, was staying over at my parent's last weekend, and I just couldn't resist taking this photo of her!

Evie knitting blanket squares for her toys!

Amy might show no interest in knitting (but to be fair I didn't until a couple of years ago despite being taught at a young age) but at least Evie has made a start!

We went to watch the Weston Carnival last Friday with a group of Amy's friends and their parents. The weather wasn't good, it rained most of the night, but wasn't cold at least and the floats were spectacular. These are some of my favourite pictures:









Well, that's it, short and sweet this week!

Monday, 5 November 2012

October - it's been and gone already!

Well, it's been a while again, and more than a whole month has gone by!

Although I check back regulary to read other blogs, I'm not entirely convinced that anyone reads this, so it hasn't been a priority!


Beautiful autumn rainbow
October has been a pretty slow month really. Things are just back in the normal routine of work and school for the three of us. My work never really changes as I've been doing the same job since 1988!

Chris is starting to have to travel again for his work - off to Barrow-in-Furness, London, West Lindsey and Sheffield so far...but we can't complain, he's been working from home a lot over the summer which was good. It's just a shame that he's driving long distances just as the nights draw in and the weather changes.

Amy is back into school and doing well. Over the next few months she'll be choosing her GCSE options, so I guess this is the calm before the storm! Things have changed for her at gym though, and she's now training with the NAC team. Her partner for the last year wasn't able to move up too as she was dancing on the training nights. Amy has now been matched up with 2 of the existing NAC team to be a trio. The other two girls are lovely and she's really enjoying the training, even though there's more of it and it's more intense. The club had their annual awards night a few weeks ago, and she performed her old pairs and six-team routines for the last time! No awards for her, but as a family we didn't go home empty handed...much to my acute embarrassment I got an award!! It was for services to the club in social media- mainly Twitter. Before the last 2 competitions the club has been in, I hit upon the idea of tweeting various celebs that I follow on Twitter so ask them to wish Amy and the club good luck. It's been a great success, with messages from the Olympic GB Bronze medalist Beth Tweddle, British Rythmic Gymnastic Team, Danny Purvis from the bronze medal winning Men's Gymnastic team, Gabby Logan, David James, paralympian Gold Medal winner Richard Whitehead...it's been great and the club have loved getting the messages. Anyway, because of this, I was given the award of 'Top Twit'! What an honour!!

My first ever gymnastics trophy...
 As the evenings have been getting colder I've been doing more knitting. I've very nearly finished my 'Derecho' shawl, I've got about half of one block to do, then a small border around it. Fingers crossed I can do that in the next 3 days o I can give it to my Mum for her birthday!!

Derecho shawl - almost finished!
When that's finished I have a Debblie Bliss baby blanket lined up for one of Chris' work colleagues, whose first baby, a boy, is due towards the end of January. I'm also taking the plunge and will be making myself a top that was in 'Knit Now' magazine. I ordered the Rowan aran yarn from Suzie on Saturday when I was at the Wool Sanctuary for knit club last weekend, and I'm hoping it will be here in time for the Knit Club holiday to Kirstie Allsop's Devon cottage at the end of the month. I'm really looking forward to it, a long weekend of knitting with my knitting friends!! There should be lots to blog about after that!

Amy went to her friend's house for a  Halloween sleepover, doing her own take on her fancy dress this year:

Amy's 'Pop Art' Halloween fancy dress!

We had a little fireworks party at our house with Chris' parents and brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew. They're all getting a bit old for it now, but they still like sparklers!

Chris and Amy with their sparklers!

I've done quite a lot of reading recently, 'The Bell Jar' by Slyvia Plath from my classics list, 'To my best friends' by Sam Baker and 'Between a Mother and her Child' by Elizabeth Noble to name a few that I can remember! We also went to see the new James Bond film, 'Skyfall' which was fantastic! I'd probably have to say it's my favourite Bond film ever! I'm looking forawrd to seeing the final Twilight film 'Breaking Dawn part 2' and 'The Hobbit' soon too, so there's lots to look foward to!

That's all for now! Have a good week if you're reading this!!

Monday, 24 September 2012

September round-up

Crikey, it's been over three weeks since I've updated, so I guess I'd better get on with it!

August finished on a high with Amy's last gym competition of the year- The Heathrow International. The competition is held over three days, with Amy's level, RAC on the first day. We arrived there at 11:30am, only to find out the time they were competing was 6:00pm! It was a long day, but luckily I took my knitting with me!

Amy and Jenny were competing in the pairs again, up against not only their big rivals from their club, Ben and Charlotte, but another pair from the club and two other pairs from different clubs. We were running 30 minutes late by now, so at 6:30 they went on as first of the five but only scored 12.50, a lower score than their previous competitions, even though the routine went pretty well, just missing out scoring one move. Ben and Charlotte had tweaked their routine making it a higher value routine if they scored it all, and they did with a new PB of 13.65! Amy and Jenny comfortably held onto silver which they were pleased with in the end.

At just gone 7pm it was then time for the six team to compete, which Amy loves. They were just against themselves again, but did a great routine, with a score of 11.263 to get their second gold as a six team.

Another gold for the six team

Amy & Jenny with their silver and gold medals

Amy

The club as a whole over the 3 days of competition at RAC, NAC and FIG levels came away with over 40 gold medals! Not a bad result at all.

That was the last time Amy will compete at RAC level as she and a few others have been invited to go to the next level, NAC from October. Things will get tough from now on, she'll be training 3 times a week and far more intensively. I've got my fingers crossed that Jenny can take up the place she's been offered too...

After the high of a successful competition it was back down to Earth for the start of a new school year. This year saw the Norty Corner's middle son start at the same secondary school as Amy, so I took the opportunity of getting a photo of them together on the first day. I can't believe Amy is a year 9 now!



Now, massive congratulations to Ben Rushgrove, the recipient of my Woolsack Cushion No3, who won a bronze medal in the T36 men's 200m sprint at the London 2012 paralympics!! Amazing result Ben, so pleased for you- having WOW-WI cheering you on must have given you that little bit extra!!

Ben on his Victory Parade in Bath (Wikipedia)
I really enjoyed the paralympics, having never really seen much of it in Beijing 2008. The athletes are beyond amazing. What a tremendous sporting summer we had. I'm still a bit lost without the Olympics and Paralympics to watch.

We finally managed a quick trip to one of our favourites places, Lyme Regis, but the forecast sunshine didn't really materialise, although the wind did!



Lyme Regis

This weekend saw a lovely family event, my parents 45th Wedding anniversary! Here's the happy couple. We celebrated with a meal out and my brother and I gave them a family photo session which we'll be using sometime to mark the event.

Mum and Dad on their 45th wedding anniversary

I have been doing some knitting too- I'll be posting off the hats I've made for the Innocent Smooties Big Knit for Age UK when I've finished the last couple. I'm also about halfway on my Derrecho Shawl which I'm making from leftover British wool from the Woolsack cushions.



Finally, the last couple of weeks have been very revealing both to Liverpool FC fans and the world in general with the publication of a long over due, thorough and detailed investigation into the Hillsborough Disaster of 15 April 1989. The level of corruption and coverup by people and instutions which we should be able to trust is staggering. This starts to give some Justice for the 96 victims of the disaster and their families, although far more needs to be done now the extent of the lies is known. RIP to the 96- You'll Never Walk Alone x


Hillsborough Memorial, Anfield from our trip there in 2007




Thursday, 30 August 2012

Woolsack Cushions- it's all over

Well, that's it, finished in the nick of time for the Paralympics, my final cushion was posted 2 days before the deadline! I managed to make 5 cushions in the end, all very basic, but hopefully someone will be happy with them!



My first cushion (top left with Murray and top right, on the ground) went to paralympic Archery for Team GB, Murray Elliot, who sent me a lovely tweet with a photo of him with the cushion to say thanks! He's Scottish and chose the cushion as it was knitted in Rowan Scottish Tweed. My second cushion was also knitted in Rowan Scottish Tweed and was reversible red/grey or pink/grey. My third cushion was special to me as I was able to present it to Team GB paralympic sprinter Ben Rushgrove, who came to my WI and did an amazing talk for us. This was also knitted in Rowan Scottish Tweed, in grey and lavender (I didn't know I was knitting for a man when I started it!) in a Fibonacci stripe patternfrom the Woolsack website. My fourth cushion was knitted using Woolsack donated yarn and was just stripes using the small amounts of coloured yarn I was sent. My final cushion was knitted in Rowan Scottish Tweed aran in gold and green colours (until I ran out of gold on the back) using the same 'Shadow lines' pattern as my first cushion, from the Woolsack website.

I've thoroughly enjoyed knitting the cushions and feeling that in some small way I was being part of the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.

If you want to see other cushions and how the whole project went, go to: http://www.woolsack.org/ and be amazed at how the whole project came together and some of the beautiful cushions people made- true works of art.