Monday 30 June 2014

A Visit to Bantock House......


Good morning, how was your weekend? I've had a fairly busy one, I was out with friends on Friday evening and an Hen Night on Saturday. It's like buses, I don't go out for ages then I get two offers together, just like the two proverbial buses turning up!!!!

I haven't been well this week and on Sunday morning, I just wanted to go out for a walk and get some fresh air and as part of Camp Aloha Friends, one of our tasks was to go for a walk in our local area. I love where I live as we have lots of surrounding countryside but also I can easily get to a few cities within 40 minutes including Birmingham, which I love too visit.

After sitting in my sunny conservatory, drinking my morning coffee and reading a magazine, we decided to drive to Bantock House and Park. I can't believe I've never visited this beautiful place before, it's only a 15 minute drive from our house and have gone past it many times as my friend lives two minutes away from there.

As we pulled into the driveway we could see the beauitful Bantock House which was built in the 1700's and was originally named New Merridale Farm. We drove onto the carpark and spread out in front of us was a children's playground, an outdoor gym, a golf course, acres of fields, a nature trail and manicured gardens.

We walked around the perimeter of the fields, then followed the paths through leafy, wooded nature trials that then lead to the gardens. The gardens that surround the house were designed by Albert Bantock who inherited the house from his Father, Thomas Bantock who bought the house in about 1864.

On the death of Albert Bantock, with no children to pass the house onto, he bequeathed it to Wolverhampton Council, who still run it now and renamed it Bantock House in honour of the family. The Bantock Family use to breed Highland Cattle on the grounds but the only sign left of this, is a sculpture outside the house made by a local craftsman Neil Watt.

There are plenty places to sit and relax around the grounds and watch the world go by, we sat in the pretty Rose Garden that was scattered with benches. Some of the benches were underneath wrought iron arches with fragrant climbing roses twisting around the poles. I could have quite easily sat there all day, reading or knitting, relaxing with the fragrance of the roses and lavender.

This cheeky little fellow came to day hello, he wasn't shy, Mick said he was staring me out as I was taking his photo!

This is the sundial in the Rose Garden, an English garden wouldn't be complete without one.

The sunken garden behind the house is called The Dutch Garden, this and the other gardens were restored by Wolverhampton City Council in 1998.

By this time we needed some refreshments and headed to the tearooms which were in the courtyard near the house, we took our drinks outside, we have to make the most of our summer in the UK, and sat surrounded by lavender. Lavender is my favourite flowering plant, I love the colour and the fragrance, it just reminds me of those warm, sunny days of summer from my childhood.

After we'd finished our drinks, we had a look around the house, this wasn't like any historical house I'd visited before. As we entered there was a very welcoming young man who asked us if we'd visited before, as we hadn't, he took us into the Great Hall, gave us a brief history and told us that we could sit on the furniture, open drawers, look through the family documents and read through the many books and notebooks left lying around on the tables. I found one written by the Lady of the House that had many notes but one made me laugh, she had written they must replace a dish that had been "disastrously dropped by cook the previous evening"! There was also an entry of a dinner party menu for ten, I found this fascinating, that you could actually touch and be so close to this little bit of history.

This is a very family friendly place to visit and one of my favourite rooms in the house was the large light and airy Nursery, they've set up a large round table for the children to sit and colour as well as a traditional Edwardian school desk that they can sit at. There was a large rug in one corner that children can sit and read the many books, a dolls house to play with and my favourite thing of all!!!! A chest of dressing up clothes, traditional Edwardian children's clothes!!! Such fun!!!!!

I had a wonderful few hours here and did I mention that all this is FREE!!!!!! What a great place to come with the family, it is open all year round, there are a couple of donation boxes around which we gladly put some money in. We have plans to go back soon as a family and take a picnic, some games and golf clubs for those who want to have a game. Once you are in the park, you wouldn't believe you were on the outskirts of Wolverhampton city. When I told my family and friends where I'd been not one of them had visited it and a few who'd never heard of it. If you live in the Midlands, passing through or visiting I would highly recommend stopping off and taking a look for yourself.

We will definitely start looking at more local attractions and I encourage you to do the same, sometimes we take it for granted what is on our door step. I would love to hear where you like to visit that is local to you.


Here are a few treasures I picked up from the garden paths, Melody who is one of the teachers at Camp Aloha Friends and she has encouraged us to look at the beauty around us and pick up a few of mother natures treasure along the way.

Did you like the Polaroid photo above? Well, this is another childhood memory, my Mom has lots of photos of us taken with the original Polaroid camera. I love the retro look of them and though you can still buy them the film is really expensive. I've come up with an alternative, I take my photo using my digital camera or phone then change them to Polaroid with an App called Instant. I can't stop playing with this great App, there are lots of different filters and also texts so you can 'write' the whos, where's and what's on your photo.

I've printed all my photos from yesterday out Polaroid style, ready to add to my journal. Another great App if you are a fan of Instagram is Instasize by Munkee Apps, it lets you post full size photos from your phone rather than just square. It works great with the Instant App.

Thank you for stopping by, have a great week and I'll be back soon. Don't forget to let me know where you love to visit, if you don't want to leave a comment, you can always email, there's a link on my sidebar.


Friday 27 June 2014

FO Friday.....Pavilion Spoiler Photos!!!

Happy Friday, my friends, I hope you've all had a good week. It has been a beautiful week in the UK with plenty of sunshine but today it is raining. The gardens could do with a drop of rain though and I'm finding it quite therapeutic, listening to the rain pitter- pattering onto the conservatory roof. Hopefully, it will clear up later and we'll have some more sunshine over the weekend.

Now back to the knitting, after been very British and talking about the weather. I've finished the Small Cable Cardigan by Vibe Ulrick Sondergaard. I absolutely love this pattern, I think it's probably my most favourite baby knit that I've done.

It's from the book Lullaby Knits and is full of beautiful baby knits from birth up to two years, I bought my copy from The Book People and is only £4.99 instead of the recommended £16.99. I don't think there is one pattern I don't like so to me this book is super value. What I will say though, a few of the patterns are modeled on girls or knit in pink as this pattern was but I actually think most of them are unisex. When I asked my daughter to chose some patterns from the book, I told her to look past the model and the colour of the yarn and imagine it in a more masculine colour.

I love the cable stitch, it's really unusual, I've knit a few cable patterns but none like this, I think the stitch definition is gorgeous. I knit the 0-3 months and used two balls of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino in Mink 064, this yarn washes great and stays looking nice, great for baby knits.

My next FO of the week are the Pavilion socks, a mystery knit along pattern by Rachel Coopey, the last clue was released last week. This pattern was designed and is part of the Unwind Brighton Festival, there have been a few patterns released for the occasion. There is one more pattern that I would like to knit as part of the festival and is the Aileron by Dieuwke van Mulligen. I plan on buying the yarn from the Marketplace, my problem will be what to chose with so many gorgeous yarns in one place!!!!

I used Artist Palette Yarns Smoothie Sock in Banana Milkshake, a very nice yarn which I think showed the stitch definition, very well. The true colour is showing up on the first photo, the colour is very washed out on this photo. They fit perfectly, I have found that cuff down socks seem to fit me better that toe up, it must be the heel flap that makes the difference. Also doing cuff down after finishing the heel, the foot seems to knit up very quickly and I have them finished before I know it.

That's it for this week, thank you for stopping by and have a great weekend.








Wednesday 25 June 2014

What's On My Needles......Pavilion Socks Spoiler Alert

Hello my friends, I'll jump straight in and show you what's on my needles, this week. I'll start with a new project, a very cute teddy bear called Mr Bakery Bear which was released last week, the pattern is by Kay Jones who also designed Mrs Bakery Bear. As soon as Jodie saw this sweet bear, she asked if I'd knit him for the 'little man' and of course I had to oblige. I ordered some Cascade 220 in Sand and so far I've knit the head and ears, I'll share more with you next week.

Kay has been a Ravelry friend for a while now and has recently began a knitting podcast with her husband, Dan. It's called The Bakery Bears and I urge you take to a look, they are such an amiable couple and have so much fun, I laugh out loud through each episode. It's not just about the knitting, each week they take you to a new location in the North of England and walk you around places of interest. On this week's episode I was surprised to hear my name mentioned, I was really touched as she said such nice things about me and my little blog. Thank you so much, Kay.

I've finished knitting Baby's First Cable Cardigan and have just got to finish seaming, sewing in the ends and adding some buttons. I think this is the cutest baby cardigan I've knit, I love it and can't wait to see the 'little man' wearing it. It's from the book Lullaby Knits, I highly recommend this book, it's full of beautiful patterns but not your traditional baby knits.

Clue Three has been released of the Pavilion socks, a mystery knit by Rachel Coopey, I'm on the foot of the second sock. It's been a nice change to do some cable socks, these socks were designed as part of Unwind Brighton, you can see that this design was inspired by Brighton Pavilion.

Last but not least, I've made some progress on the Twinkle Twinkle blanket, this is baby's 'best' blanket. I'm knitting it in Rooster Almerino DK, a luxury mix of merino and alpaca, as you can imagine the blanket is very soft. The pattern is by one of my favourite designers, Helen Stewart, it's a square blanket, constructed of four triangles, knit it in the round. The pattern is very easy to remember and after a few rounds, I didn't need to look at the pattern again.

Now to what I'm reading this week, I'm three quarters of the way through Paris by Edward Rutherford and still very much enjoying it. I'm also flicking through this book on my Kindle, A Paris Journal by Nichole Robertson. It is beautifully written, journal style about a day in Paris and the photos are stunning, I'm dreaming of going back to Paris one day but until then this will satisfy my needs.

I'm linking to Ginny's Yarn Along, What's on my Needles Wednesday and WIP Wednesday

Thanks for stopping by, enjoy the rest of your week.

Happy Crafting


Monday 23 June 2014

60 Minute Mini Bunting Tutorial.....

Hello, I hope you've had a lovely weekend, it's been beautiful and sunny here in the UK. I've pottering around and spending time in the garden, knitting and reading.

I even had an afternoon nap, yesterday, I can't usually fall asleep in the day but I think lying in the sun, reading and listening to the birds I dropped off.

As I was sat looking around the garden, I noticed my bunting that I made a couple of years ago was a bit worse for wear so I took it down with the intention of making some more when I had a minute.

Today I was supposed to be tidying my craft room, which I did sort of start but as I was going through my fabric, I found this Tilda Country Escape charm pack. My first thought was "this would make such pretty bunting"!!!!!!

I didn't want to spend lots of time on this project so I found out my Sizzix Big Shot and Stampin'Up Bigz Perfect Pennant die and found that the squares from the charm pack were the perfect size to cut out the bunting triangles, you will also need some seam binding.

The charm pack has two of each design so I chose thirteen different designs, twenty six squares altogether and whizzed them through the Big Shot. The Big Shot can cut through about eight layers of fabric at a time, it's obviously a lot quicker with a die cut machine but if you haven't got one you can hand cut, just draw a template to the size you want, you can make it as long or short as you want, just cut out the number of triangles accordingly.

Once cut take your triangles and lay your fabric right sides together so the wrong side is facing out, ready to sew together. I didn't pin them as they are fairly small but if you find it easier just pin before sewing.

I chain-sewed them down one side with an half a centimetre seam allowance, I used the edge of the presser foot to guide me. Chain sewing is a quick way to sew lots of fabric shapes together down one side without having to keep breaking the thread and starting again. Once you have finished sewing one triangle together, line up the second one without breaking the thread, sew down the side and carry on until all your triangles have been stitched and you have a line of triangles, joined together with the thread. Cut all the joining threads to separate the triangles, you are then ready to do exactly the same with the opposite side.

Once both sides are sewn, turn the triangles so the right sides are facing, you will need something pointy to poke the point out. I used a crochet hook, just be careful you don't poke a hole through the end! There is no need to sew the top edge as the seam binding will cover it.

Once you've got all your triangles turned the right way, iron them so you have a crisp edge and the bunting is nice and flat. It is worth the effort of getting the iron out, your bunting will look so much neater.


Take your seam binding, folding in half and placing the triangles inside the fold, stitching along the seam binding making sure you have caught the triangle as you go along. Again, I didn't use pins and did it by eye but if you find it easier, pin before stitching.

This is a quick way to make bunting and only took me sixty minutes but that was using a die cut machine rather than hand cutting, not pinning and preparing everything in advace like setting up my machine and putting the iron on ready. Obviously it will take you longer if you're hand cutting or you run out of bobbin thread half way through but even then it won't take you more than a couple of hours. The finished triangles measure 10cm down the edges and 7cm across the top so the are mini but again you can make them to whatever size you want.

Another quick way of making bunting without cutting out is to use the squares as the are and make square bunting. This time you'll be putting the two wrong sides together so the right sides are showing as you won't have to turn inside out. Sew around three sides about 1cm from the edge then with pinking shears cut along the three edges to help prevent fraying and finally sew onto the seam binding. Quick and easy!!!

It's now up in the favourite part of my garden, let me know if you make some so I can take a look at it!!!!!!


I'm so excited that my first class has gone live today on Camp Aloha Friends, it's called Tag, You're It, Part 1, it's in three parts going from a quick and easy project to the third class that is more in depth and will take you longer to finish, all using tags!!! I can't believe it's been six months since the lovely Mel approached me and asked if I'd be interesting in teaching some online classes.

I didn't hesitate in saying yes, I love Mel's ideas and she is such an amiable person. I'm so glad I did, being part of CAF has been a pleasure, I've made friends with like minded people from around the world. It's not too late to join in the fun, the classes will be online with a page protected password, where you can access them at any time until end of September, so you have plenty time. If you'd like to find out more about it, you can check here and here, there is only one "suitcase" left but you can still just do the classes and use your own materials.

Happy Crafting!!!!




Friday 20 June 2014

FO Friday......two shawls.


Hello my friends, how has your week been? I'm back today with not one but two FO's and they are both shawls.

The first one is a test knit that I've just finished for Helen Stewart of the Curious Handmade Podcast it won the Unwind Brighton design competition and is aptly named Pebble Beach. It will be released on the 14th July but for those attending Unwind Brighton, it will be part of the programme!!!

I used Eaden Yarn gradient in Ombré Aqua on 4mm needles and once blocked was 55" wide and 15" from the centre of the neck to the bottom edge.

It was a very enjoyable knit, it holds your attention been a lace pattern but saying that it is not a difficult lace and once I'd read the row I was on, I didn't have to check back again as it was easy to memorise. It feels so light and airy across my shoulders and is perfect for the summer. I will be knitting it again but in a more luxurious yarn, probably with an alpaca content, ready for those winter months. There are more photos of my Pebble Beach project page.

My next shawl is On the Pier by Justyna Lorkowska, this pattern is part of the Unwind KAL's that are going on.

This shawl is a simple garter stitch body with an eyelet detail and lace border, I knit it in Drops Alpaca for the main colour and some leftover Juno Arts Alice 4ply. Again there are more photos on my On the Pier project page.

Thank you so much for stopping by, I really appreciate your lovely comments and encouragement. Have a great weekend.






The Handmade Sock Society 3 by Helen Stewart

Hello there, I just wanted to let you all know that Season 3 of  The Handmade Sock Society  is available for pre-sale  here  with an Ea...