Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Happy Happy Happy New Year to Everyone!

Today, after torrential rain and thunderstorms for the last two days, the sun came out and it actually felt like spring had finally arrived! I am not easily fooled, and temperatures at and below freezing have been forecast for next week but, oh, this sun is so welcome.  As it turned out, I had changed the bedlinen this morning and, instead of draping it over the airer (I have a tumble dryer but am loathe to use it), I have pegged it out on the line, feeling the warmth of the sun as I did - and it's drying!  I know it will not last; I know I will be back to wearing extra layers; I also know that we are still very much in the depths of winter ....but today's sunshine has lifted my spirits and assured me that spring is actually on the way.

I am also fully aware that those of you in other parts of the world have freezing conditions right now, and I hope you are all coping and keeping warm and safe.

This photo was taken facing the sun but you can still see the blue of the sky - it really has been a beautiful day today.

Thanks to all who have visited my blog this year.  I hope to keep posting regularly throughout 2010, with photos of the renovation work on the house, things I have knitted and crocheted, updates about the charity knitting thread running on, places I visit whilst I am still exploring my corner of France, and anything else that crops up along the way.  I have discovered some lovely blogs this year and look forward to visiting them regularly, so thanks to all those whose blogs I have enjoyed -  I can't wait to catch up with you in 2010.

Above all, I wish you all a HAPPY, HEALTHY AND WEALTHY New Year!



Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Happy Christmas to All!

Christmas cards from beloved grandchildren. What a surprise I had when I checked the mailbox the other day!  Cards lovingly made by Sam, aged 9, and Lucy, aged 6.  I love them and will treasure them always.  I love the unabandoned creativity of children, and looking at these cards reminds me of times spent crafting with them both.  My dining room table would be laden with all manner of things for them to use and, due to their fired-up imagination and inventiveness, I have several items made out of all sorts of weird and wonderful bits and pieces.

As I think I've said before, this Christmas will be so different from previous ones. It's our first one in France and we are far away from loved ones.  We are staying with friends on the big day, and overnight, and, while it will be a lovely Christmas in wonderful company, I shall so miss the family, and cooking the Christmas dinner!  I consider myself blessed because my loved ones are happy and healthy, and that thought will be uppermost in my mind over the next few days. So many people in the world have suffered this year, and I count myself very lucky with my lot in life.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It snowed!

Well, I haven't posted on here for ages - life gets in the way sometimes!  This was the extent of our snow here in SW France.  Nowhere near as bad as in northern France or the UK.  It was very very cold, though, and went down to -11 degrees some nights.  It has warmed up over the last couple of days, though.  I didn't want the snow to settle because, although we are only five minutes away from town by car, we have to drive down country roads to get there, and they don't seem to grit here! 

Footprints in the snow.  This was Louis the cat's first experience of snow; he was obviously pacing about waiting for someone to open the front door!

The view down the drive. We managed to get both our cars under cover in the barn to the right. It's a huge barn that will be pulled down next year because it's a bit unsightly. It's handy, though. Besides our two cars, we have a one-ton trailer and our neighbours' caravan in there, along with a load of old hay that was left behind by the last owners.

Well, I've done loads of knitting and crochet lately, all presents to take back to family members when we visit the UK in the New Year.  I shall post photos when I've finished them all.

Husband is currently working on a new step outside the door, so photos of that to follow, too, when it's finished.  At the moment, the step is a real mess, and too narrow for safety. At least when it's done I shall stop falling off it!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Where does all the time go?!

Good morning everyone.

I've just updated the Knit Your Square running totals for the last week. Considering it's such a busy time for everyone, the figures are amazing!

I had every intention of posting photos of some of the things I have been making for Christmas pressies, but the batteries have died in the camera. They are recharging as I type, so I shall have to take the photos later. Watch this space!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ruffle scarves, photos and free patterns!

I've been loving making these scarves! They're so quick, very satisfying to make, and make lovely gifts.  I started off with a free pattern I found online, then decided to experiment on the same theme. I've come up with three different ideas and would like to share them with you.  I've included a link to the original pattern in my instructions, because the actual ruffle element is not mine - I've just adapted it!  I hope you find my patterns useful!

My three crochet ruffle scarves.

This one was worked in Sirdar Denim Chunky - a very soft yarn.

I used Robin Aran in cream for this one.

This one was crocheted in Courtelle Chevy with Wool DK in shade 4362.

Experimenting with Ruffles

Using the same basic principle of the ruffle scarf    (   I’ve been trying out a few variations. Here are the instructions for anyone who would like to try them.  I hope they make sense – if not, please ask!

IMPORTANT:   With all ruffle scarves, working the foundation chain loosely makes the first row easy!

Cream Scarf

This was worked in Robin Aran weight wool (but any chunky yarn would do) with a No 6 (UK) hook, and was so so simple to make.

Ch to length required for completed scarf.

1st (and only!) row: SC into 7th chain from hook, ch 7, SC into same stitch, *ch 7, SC into next st, ch 7 SC into same st* to end. Fasten off and weave in the ends.

 Denim Scarf

This was worked in Sirdar Denim Chunky with a No 6 (UK) hook

Ch to length required for completed scarf.

1st Row:  SC into 7th chain from hook, ch 7, SC into same stitch, *ch 7, SC into next st, ch 7, SC into same st* to end.

2nd Row:  same as 1st row but worked into the other side of the foundation row. Fasten off and weave in the ends.

The second row could be worked in a contrasting colour – something I’ll try next, now I’ve thought about it!

Dark Blue Scarf worked in Drop Stitch

This was worked in DK yarn (Courtelle Chevy DK with Wool from my stash. I’ve had it for years, so have no idea if it’s still available!).

Drop Stitch instructions:  Into each stitch, YO, insert into st, YO again but this time  pull up to about an inch, pull yarn through all 3 loops on hook, then ch 1 to ‘lock’ the stitch into place.

Ch to length required for completed scarf.

1st Row:  Work 1 drop stitch into fourth chain from hook, then 1 into each chain to end. Turn.

2nd Row:  Ch 4, work 2 drop stitches into each space made by the ‘locking’ chain of the previous row. Turn.

3rd Row:  Ch 4, work 2 drop stitches into each space between every drop stitch of the previous row.

Fasten off and weave in the ends or, if a wide scarf is required, repeat 3rd row.


Having a luffley ruffley time!

Good morning, everyone! It's been a while since I last posted - I've been 'helping' with the renovations on the house which has kept me fairly occupied. Thankfully, I still have the evenings free to knit and crochet. I've been making ruffle scarves which are really satisfying and quick to make. A lot of my relatives and friends will be having one for Christmas, so they're money-saving, too!  I shall post photos and pattern instructions in my next post.

The weather, having been really wet and windy for the last three weeks, suddenly took a change for the better yesterday, and we had a glorious day. I managed to empty some flower tubs, and I brought my geraniums in to over-winter in the conservatory.  I shall spend some time over the next couple of months deciding what to do with the garden in the spring - which seems a long way away right now!

Christmas is looming now that December is here. We are planning on visiting the UK in January. This will be my first Christmas without seeing the children and grandchildren, which I'll find really difficult. Thank heavens for Skype; at least I can see them all on the day, even if it is only on screen.  We are spending Christmas day with some very good friends who live about an hour away. We'll be staying overnight, which will be lovely.  They are both chefs so, of course, we are really looking forward to it!  I can't remember the last time I didn't have to cook the Christmas dinner, so it will be a real treat.  We'll be taking lots of wine, some cheeses, chocolates, and other goodies with us, and I just know we will have a great time in wonderful company.

Here in France, they've just started putting up the decorations in the stores so everything is looking lovely.  The gift ideas have been around for the last month, and one of our local stores has a Croix Rouge (Red Cross) stand which will wrap your pressies in return for a donation to the cause. It's a great idea, and they are very busy. I haven't tried it yet but will do soon.

The Christmas card selections here are, sadly, pretty dire compared to the UK (and very very expensive!), so I'm pleased I already have loads which were bought in the UK before we left.  I just need to find time to write them out!