Saturday, January 30, 2010

It's snowing - again!

Just had to share these photos of the snow that fell unexpectedly in the night.

By early afternoon it had started to melt

Now the sun is shining in a perfect blue sky and it's really warm.  Won't last, I know, but it's lovely to look at!

Friday, January 29, 2010


Having been woken up early by the cat, I've been busy taking photos!

Here are two 8" squares I've made for an ongoing online charity knitting project

and a lapblanket for my grandson, aged 10

and one for my eldest granddaughter, aged 7

They love to snuggle up on the sofa on a cold winter's afternoon, so I thought a blanket each of their own would be useful!

My husband still has the blanket his dear grandmother made for him when he was little.  It's a bit tatty and needs a few repairs (which I will get round to doing some time soon, I hope), but it has always been special because she made it just for him.  I hope my blankets become treasured in the same way. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Squares of comfort

The online knitting group that I am a member of makes many things for many different good  causes but, now and again, sadly, tragedy strikes at one of those who also contributes generously of their time and materials.  There is a collective feeling amongst us all that we want to do 'something' to express how sorry we are, and what better way than for every one of us to make a square or two which can be sewn together  to make one comforting blanket to embrace someone in great need.  What is so inspiring is that knitters and crocheters are so generous, we always end up with more than one blanket because people just can't stop making the squares.

These squares are for a blanket for someone from another group that works tirelessly for charity Loving Hands is run by a wonderful lady called Lou, and she has amassed a huge band  of knitters and crocheters who all devote many hours to deserving causes around the world. Many of the members of the group send their finished items to Loving Hands, and they are lovingly distributed to those in need.

Knitting and crocheting squares like these are the perfect way of using up oddments and scraps of wool left over from other projects. When sewn together into one blanket, the contributions of many people come together, making something really special.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I haven't been posted on here for ages because time seems to be at a premium at Chez Yarns from a Barn! The most exciting thing I can happily report is that we have booked our ticket to sail back to the UK on 6th February, just over two weeks from now.  We will be staying for ten days, returning (if I can be persuaded!) on 16th.  We will spend some time in our home town in Hampshire, catching up with my lovely boys and their families (oh, how I have missed the grandchildren), then we will have a few days in my real home town of Weston-super-Mare with my Mum and my sister and her family, then back to Hampshire for the last few days.  I am really looking forward to it, especially seeing the grandchildren.  My grandson had his tenth birthday yesterday. I was able to phone him in the morning before school, which was great.  I can't believe he is ten and I kept thinking about the day he was born.  My daughter-in-law had been in labour for two and a half traumatic days, then, just before we were due to visit her and the new baby in hospital, someone crashed their car at the end of our drive. Fortunately, no-one was hurt but the emergency services blocked the road at both sides of the drive and I was so worried we wouldn't be able to get out in time. Luckily, we did. By then, it was quite late at night but the hospital staff were brilliant and let us in. So, I shall never forget the day he was born and the delicious 'falling in love' feeling I had when I first set eyes on my precious first grandchild.

His sister's birthday is on Saturday. She will be seven. Her birth was almost as traumatic but no car crash this time.  Through their excellent timing, their parents have ensured that their birthdays are three days apart, not long after Christmas, so they start saving up months in advance!  In the year 2021, my grandson will be 21, and my granddaughter will be 18 - what a week that will be!

My youngest granddaughter is five months now, and I haven't seen here - apart from via Skype - since she was ten days old, so I have such a lot to look forward to when we get back to the UK!

We have been working on the house here and I will take some photos later.  We have a new temporary sitting room. It's the room which will eventually be my office so is not very big but we were able to take a sofa and chair out of storage and now have somewhere clean, comfy and, most importantly, dust free to relax in. Trouble is, it's so relaxing we doze off as soon as we sit down!  We have our big TV in there and a little portable in the old sitting room off the kitchen. 

Half the new step at the back door (which we use as the front door!) has been done but we can't finish it until we have sourced some more old French 'tomette' tiles. What has been done so far has made it much safer and we love the look of it. 

We were going to take down a ceiling (this has been threatened for months now and I keep finding excuses to stall it!), but we are leaving that until we have returned from our trip away.  Instead, the front hall is the next area being worked on, and is currently having the ceiling plastered between the beams, and new downlights will be installed at the same time. That will be finished tomorrow, then it can be plastered and painted.

The weather has been a real mixed bag, no more so than yesterday when we woke up to pouring rain then, within no time we had blue skies and brilliant sunshine, then rain again in the afternoon.  Colder temperatures are forecast for next week, so I am really glad we had our central heating oil topped up recently!  Still, I am sure that spring is on the way.

This is a sweet little dress I couldn't resist buying to take back to my new granddaughter.  My old childhood doll is modelling it for me; the photo doesn't do the dress justice, really. It has a bit of smocking at the top, a frill at the bottom and lots of little embellishments.

This photo shows a little more detail. I love the raspberry pink colour and it's typically French, which is what I was looking for.  Of course, I could have spent loads because there was lots to choose from!

Well, I will try and take some photos of the renovation work here later on today and, if I don't get too many interruptions, post them on here!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Nature table - January 2010

The Christmas just gone was our first in France, and we spent the day with some very good friends.  In the afternoon, stuffed with the most delicious Christmas dinner, the four of us took four lively dogs out for a walk.  The dogs, one belonging to our friends, the others belonging to other  friends who were visiting the UK at the time, were full of energy. We, having just eaten and cleared up, were full of food, good wine and the warm glow that comes with being in the company of much-loved friends. The weather was wonderful - very very cold but bright and sunny. The trail - well, what can I say? It was gorgeous and, guess what I did?  I forgot my camera!  Just two minutes from the house is the most wonderful wide open countryside - bathed in winter sunshine, miles away from roads and traffic, it is stunning and so very good for the soul.

Along the way, I picked up a couple of teazles that had fallen to the ground.  Years ago, I remember my Mum using these to 'fluff up' her knitting - turning plain double knitting yarn into expensive-looking mohair, simply by brushing the finished knitted item with  teazle heads.  They are very spikey to the touch but so lovely to look at. These two, as I say, had fallen to the ground. There were plenty more still growing but I am loathe to pick things just for the sake of it - I rather like free treasure, and these would only have been pressed into the ground by passing tractors, so I brought them home with me. I will knit or crochet a swatch to try them on.

I am lucky enough to have a lovely bay tree growing in my garden. It has been swamped by a very old plum tree for years but we removed some of the plum tree's branches, and the bay is now starting to grow, having rediscovered the light.  I love using the fragrant aromatic leaves in stews, soups and casseroles, so, every now and again, I pick  a branch and dry it by hanging it up in the kitchen. This branch I picked yesterday, and the first couple of leaves will be used in the chicken casserole I will make for dinner today to warm us on a freezing cold day.

Bay leaves can be used fresh or dried. They really add that special 'something' to a dish. A useful tip is to tear the leaves before adding them to your cooking - this releases the delicious oils.  The leaves should be removed and discarded before eating. 

My nature table goodies today are displayed on my lovely old pine coffee table which was lovingly made by my husband many years ago.  Its three-monthly waxing is well overdue; we are clearing the Christmas decorations away today, so I shall persuade him to get the wax out and restore it to its glory, after months of having our feet resting on it as we relax on the sofa.  I love the sight of freshly-waxed pine and will post a photo of it once the grain has been coaxed back into life.

I hope to have a regular nature table on my blog - there are some wonderful things around us and I want to make the most of what I find!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Our sky this morning!

I hope you are all having a peaceful Sunday. I just had to post these photos of the sky here this morning. I've never seen such a formation as this here - correct me if I'm wrong, but I think they are stratus clouds?  They cleared away to a light grey/blue sky by midday, so I'm really pleased I took the photos!

Another view - it's a times like these that I wish I could paint!