Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Work in Progress: Preparing for Wednesday

Why is it so difficult to blog on Wednesday? Since I made my first WIP Wednesday post I have been planning the second one. I've taken photos. I've finished a few WIPs. I even started something and then finished it - well, it was a hat so not so difficult. I think my WIP pile is diminishing. But I just cannot sit down on a Wednesday and write that blog. So I am starting today, Friday, and maybe on Wednesday I will have something to publish. Maybe!

I'm a slow learner. Over the years I have managed to write a few blogs. I have even managed to find a way to improve my blog - thank you MarsEdit. well, thank you Tony - he found it and installed it for me. (What are husbands for, after all, but to sort out one's computer problems!) However, he has yet to find the solution to my next want - how to click on a photo and have it enlarge. I saw that feature on several blogs last week (and at least one of them was Blogger) and I so want to be able to do that. Stop slacking Tony!

Then my next problem. Commenting on other blogs. Some are easy. Usually they are websites - Crochet Nirvana is one such. Click on comment, add a few details, and voilĂ , there you have it - comment! I think I managed to register with Wordpress… but then I didn't have an avatar. I want an avatar, I don't like that horrible avatar they give in place of a real one. So I gave up. Blogger is a different problem. Should be easy, shouldn't it. But my Blogger account is under a different name. I don't want to comment under that name. I daresay there is a way. Husband is being remarkable unhelpful on this one.

But I have learned to link. That's progress.

Now to start on the knitting. But where to start? Finished projects or WIPs? Well, I could start with the stash. I have several places where I keep my stash. They are all full. However, the two small cupboards behind the sofa are over-full. Open-the-door-and prepare-to-catch-whatever-falls-out full! When I started thinking of the Wednesday blog a few weeks ago I thought of the stash cupboards and, since it wasn't Wednesday, I thought I would start preparing by tidying the cupboard.

So here is the before:
After I had hauled out a few things:
And then this:
That was a few weeks ago. I only managed the one shelf but at least opening the door is no longer a major catastrophe. And… I frogged a couple of WIPs that were never going to become FOs.

This was the sleeve of a shrug I started to knit for a family friend. I loved the stitch pattern but didn't take into account how I was going to manage shaping. There was more - a second try with a different stitch pattern, sleeves done, body to armholes… and I just ground to a halt. So frogged it was.


A test knit that didn't happen. Too many problems to overcome. Shame.


And so to some finishing. This represents the final few days of the 2010 Advent KAL that I was working on. It now sits on the worktop in my new kitchen, adding brightness and colour. Love it. I added an icord edging to give it some strength.

The Just Right socks DSC02621

And a little hat I knitted for my granddaughter:
She wasn't impressed and I think it will end up on her teddy. I tried to get it back for one of my other granddaughters but that wasn't going to happen.

As for WIPS, I have finally got the Jubilee Diamonds shawl out again, figured out where I was in the pattern and away I go again. I reckon I could get it finished in a couple of weeks if I keep at it.

IMG 2518
I took that photo some time ago and am much further along than that now - five repeats of the central panel - only 15 more to go…

Yesterday I started another pair of socks:
IMG 2904 I just couldn't resist when I saw a call for test knitters, especially when the designer was looking for someone to knit a large size. I'm using Colourmart Shetland for these but… I think the large is still going to be too small for Tony's feet. They'll fit DS3 so, dilemma - should I continue with this yarn and hope that the socks may fit DS1 - who I also want to knit socks for - or should I stop now and change to the Fyberspates navy tweed that I bought with DS3's socks in mind? I'll procrastinate and work on the Jubilee Shawl while I decide.

I've also started a baby blanket using Wendy Party. It isn't the easiest yarn to knit with. Plus, I don't have enough yarn. It will be impossible to frog. Do I continue and hope to find more yarn or do I abandon it as a lost cause. I really don't like lost causes.
IMG 2913

There are some other little secrets hiding in corners but for now, I think that will do… except to say that progress has been made on the shawl and this is the current state of play with the socks
IMG 2915

I had to have yet another go at Judy's Magic Cast On for these toe-up socks. Thanks to Cat Bordhi and YouTube, I succeeded and am delighted with the outcome. Current plan is to complete the first sock by the weekend. Current plan!!!

Oh, and some good news. The bride I didn't manage to knit the bolero for told me yesterday that she is pregnant. Yippee… another baby blanket. Maybe I shouldn't tell her about it until it is done... For more WIP Wednesdays don't forget Tami's Amis.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Banbury Canal Day

Autumn has arrived. Here in Banbury the first Sunday in October is always Canal Day. Sometimes it rains. All day. Sometimes, like last year, it is so hot you just want to sit in the shade and enjoy a long, cool drink. But this year was perfect. No need for a coat, the autumn sunshine provided enough warmth. First stop, the canal. Obviously!
Bubbles all round but the dog was unmoved!
Canal Day is a favourite and the day being fine there were lots of people. This part of the canal is always busy with boats but for today they have been dressed in all their finery.
We wandered along the canal bank, looking at the boats and soaking up the atmosphere. Our next stop was Spice Ball Park - lovely name for a park, don't you think? One day I may even try to find out why Spice Ball. One day!The easy way round the park?
DSC02556 This is where the children came to play. Bouncing was a favourite.
And well over in the far corner, a sign that autumn has arrived. Tony was visiting the Amateur Radio tent when I took this. Somehow, amateur radio just doesn't excite me. I don't know why!
These feathered friends were entirely unimpressed by the impression they were making. Fir Tree Falconry is found just outside Banbury on the Warwick Road. It is on a beautiful site, on a hill, surrounded by fields. They also have a lovely campsite. We took Eva and Maia there one day during the summer and they loved it.
This tiny little one was lovely. Perhaps he was a little awed by the occasion.
From Spice Ball Park we made our way to the car park where we found a number of stalls, some representing local charities, some food and some crafts. On our way, we passed this unusual hanging basket.
And then the first of the food stalls. DSC02567
The Advanced Motorists stall didn't seem too popular. I wonder if that is a reflection of driving skills in Banbury - we are so good we don't need to bother with advanced motoring skills???
Continuing on through the car park we arrived at the continental market. These two tall gentlemen were having a great time. They talked non-stop and kinda funny and were loved by one and all. In spite of the umbrellas that turned into water pistols when any young person, especially female - they screamed louder - happened to get close enough.
Sadly, we had already eaten. These prawns looked delicious. DSC02577
Biscuits anyone?
DSC02582 Perhaps some salami for later?
I hope these suckling pigs enjoyed their apples.
Waiting for customers and enjoying their day.
This couple came from Brittany. They part-bake the bread before they leave and then freeze it and store it in their van ready for a finally firing before it goes on sale in whatever town they are in that day. (Must be quite a van they have!)
Selling Creole style food. I wish I had bought some. DSC02587
Lots of tinned food specials.
And finally, soap from Provence.
Back along the canal, here's one of my favourites
Whoever was working the lifting bridge was having a busy day. This was one of two boats that were giving free 20 minute rides along the canal. The bridge had to be raised and lowered each time one came along. Incidentally, I found out later that there was an hour-long queue to get on!
And then the business of turning the boat in a small space.
On the other side of the canal, in another car park, was the Craft Fair. It was excellent this year, the quality high and the priced reasonable. I'm afraid I didn't think to take photos until after we had visited. Here is a photo taken from the tow path.
DSC02596 This was the end of the day and not so many people around.

Mirrors made from driftwood and the carcasses of dead birds. I don't think many were sold - they had to have been the ugliest things I have ever seen.
Another view of the canal, the boats and the tow path. The footbridge in the distance leads from a car park to the shopping centre. I always think it is one of the nicest ways to enter the town. Whatever the weather, whatever the season, there is always something new. In summer there are the most prolific hanging baskets on the bridge. Enough to lighten anyone's spirits.
Until finally, to The Mill, our local Arts Centre, where a folk concert was being enjoyed in the courtyard.
We ended the afternoon at The Mill, with a glass of wine. Canal Day over for another year.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

A Visit to the Landscape Gardens at Stowe

I found details of the short walk round one of the lakes in the gardens on the National Trust website and decided that after our successful wanders around gardens the previous week, Tony was surely up to this gentle stroll.

There was total chaos in our kitchen. Well, to be honest, it was more in the other rooms downstairs where the contents of the kitchen cupboards were scattered wherever a home could be found. Added to that the various moveable bits of furniture that were camping here, there and everywhere, plus no water supply in the kitchen… well, no kitchen really. And then, Leigh, the kitchen fitter, preferred to work on his own with no interruptions. It wasn't a difficult decision to make. Today was Stowe day. Next decision was whether to stop for coffee en route or wait until we got there. Well, it isn't very far, about half an hour, so we decided to wait. The restaurant is in a newly renovated part of the grounds, right by the car park. But it was a little cold, perhaps the air conditioning was a bit too violent. However, there was a lovely, protected courtyard bathed in sunshine. What better way to start a morning stroll. This photo was taken while we were sitting in the courtyard. It shows part of the New Barn, recently renovated. IMG 2704 It was at this point that I realised I had forgotten my camera and so all of today's photos were taken on my iPhone. I'm delighted with them. I took far too many and finding a selection to include here isn't going to be easy. I hope you will like them.

Not wanting to tire Tony out to much, we started our walk by taking the 'little train' to the start of the park. The little train was, in fact, two covered trailers pulled by a large tractor. It was, most definitely, a bumpy ride! Joining us in our 'carriage' was a group of enthusiastic photographers. I hid my iPhone!

All tours must start at the entrance, shouldn't they? Here is the boundary wall: IMG 2708 And so our stroll began. Slowly. I don't do slowly, well, not snail-pace slowly, so this was an exercise in self control. Sometimes I felt like a puppy, rushing backwards and forwards, waiting for the 'master' to catch up!!! As you will see, the day was perfect for taking the most gorgeous photos. (Well, I think they are gorgeous…)

Looking down to the lake, from the entrance: IMG 2713 Another view of the house: IMG 2712 More lake - how am I ever going to chose which photos so that it isn't house, lake, house lake! IMG 2713 Here is a path, just for a change. Oh, and a temple. According to the literature, temples are a feature of the gardens. There are more to come! IMG 2715 The path led to a funny little arch. I think it may have been a pseudo bridge. Anyway, it was pretty. IMG 2723 As I was pointing my phone ready to take a picture of something, there was the most amazing noise of birds on the wing. Amazingly, I had the presence of mind to point the phone upwards and click: IMG 2724 They landed on the lake and eventually roosted on one of the islands. (Hmmmm, do you call it roosted when they are on the ground?) IMG 2726 More of that lovely little arch with its sneaky views of the water. IMG 2729 IMG 2731 And then an intriguing tunnel of trees, IMG 2732 that led us to a small bench where Tony could soak up the sun and have a little rest. IMG 2734
Then it was on our way again, along another woodland path: IMG 2736 There were sneaky views of water: IMG 2739 And sudden vistas of temples: (I don't know if it was the angle or me, but I just couldn't get a photo of it looking straight!)
IMG 2750
Are we far enough into this walk to remark on what is missing? I love flowers and colour. The park, a typical Capability Brown park, is a landscape garden. It is based on trees and large open spaces and architectural features such as temples and statues. It does not include flowers!!! But I found one, a lovely hollyhock: IMG 2744 Okay, back to the landscape part. I love this one, the way the light is showing through the trees, the dappled shade. IMG 2747 And then back to temples. Here is a closeup of the one I showed you earlier: IMG 2751 Really, I should have taken a note of the name of that statue. Perhaps I'll get better at blogging as I go along. IMG 2752 Are you still with me?

From this: IMG 2754 To this: IMG 2755 To this: IMG 2757 As I said in another post, the theme of the photo club this month is stairs so I took a few here - this is the best I got: IMG 2762 But then I climbed those stairs and took this: IMG 2763 And this: IMG 2764
Quite a garden, don't you think?
A wing of the house: IMG 2769

Unfortunately we went in the morning and the house itself didn't open until two o'clock by which time we had gone back to the restaurant for lunch and our walk was over. Next time.

Another path, another column, another statue: IMG 2772 And a temple: IMG 2773 Eventually, we arrived at the grotto. IMG 2779

IMG 2780

IMG 2782 And out the other side: IMG 2783 Shady there, isn't it. But then it opened out to this: IMG 2784 On we strolled, camera phones at the ready, through woodland scenes IMG 2787 to sudden features IMG 2789 A place to sit and contemplate IMG 2797 And find views of an old friend - can you see him, there in the distance: IMG 2801 Or a new one, hidden away on an island. This one was dedicated to Captain Cook. IMG 2802 A pretty little bridge: IMG 2804 Oh, is that the same column… again??? This is definitely a circular walk. IMG 2806 Now, I have just made a discovery. We have been walking along named paths. Such as the Path of Vice (leading to that first temple with the statue in the middle. I can now tell you that that statue was dedicated to the Goddess Venus). The path we have most recently been on is the Path of Virtue. It has led us to the Temple of British Worthies. Here you have it: from the left: IMG 2810 and from the right: IMG 2812 And another temple: IMG 2813 By the way, have you noticed that this walk is taking in a lot more than just the lake? We ended up covering most of the park.

I loved this little bridge. IMG 2816 It looked so pretty I so wanted to cross to the other side. Unfortunately, it was not to be: IMG 2817 Next time!

A quite different view of the park. More bucolic, there could be sheep there. IMG 2819 But not today.

Another temple - and just look at that sky: IMG 2824 Ah, no, it wasn't a temple. It was a bridge! And on the other side of the bridge, tripods at the ready, lesson in progress, were the photographers. I thought we hadn't seen anything of them! Here they were, photographing a bridge. I hid my phone. Only the most surreptitious of photo-taking by me until I am well clear of them. Intimidated? Definitely!

Here is the bridge: IMG 2829

And I just have to include this one. I love it, am so proud of having taken it. IMG 2830
And this one: IMG 2831 There are others but those two may be my favourites.

And now to my 'Through the Garden Gate' moment: IMG 2832 It led to this: IMG 2836 The Chinese House. Isn't it lovely? IMG 2839

Here are some closeups: IMG 2841

IMG 2842

IMG 2843

IMG 2844

IMG 2846

IMG 2847

And a final view of the house: IMG 2849

Before heading back along the path… and Through the Garden Gate. IMG 2854 Are you still with me? It's long, I know, but nearly there.

Just to show that all is not perfect in these gardens: IMG 2855 Sad but impressive also in that this was the only building of the many that we saw that was not in good condition. There is no money at present to restore it but work has been done to at least stop it from falling down.

A long, last look back over the park and some of the buildings: IMG 2856

A perfectly placed bench: IMG 2857 And one last temple, the Pebble Temple (I think that is what it was called!) IMG 2858 It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed slowly wandering round, this way and that, enjoying the park, the water, the house and the various temples. And we finished the visit with lunch, sitting in that pretty little courtyard enjoying the September sunshine. I hope the photography club members were as delighted with their photos as I was with mine.