Friday, 9 November 2012

The Garden Yarners

This is just a quick post to tell you about a lovely new knitting and crochet group that my daughter-in-law Lynsey has started in her village of Whickham near Newcastle. I have posted an article earlier about the wonderful "secret garden" (well almost as it is tucked away behind the main street) called the Whickham Hermitage Community Garden and the group met there for the first time last Wednesday evening in the lovely surroundings of the Orangery cafe to knit or crochet.

It was a really warm and friendly atmosphere and people chatted and exchanged ideas while being served tea and biscuits from the pretty vintage crockery of The Whistling Bunting.

Several members brought along books and magazines for others to browse and many ideas, from types of yarn to good places to buy it, were all talked about.
It was a select little group to start with but we hope that when more people get to know about it it will grow just like the wonderful plants in the garden where it all happens.

Why not join us at the next meeting on the first Wednesday in December from 6 - 7 30pm?

You can follow it on Facebook

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Keep Knitting

When I received this card for my birthday it brought a smile to my face because that is exactly what I do, especially now I have grandchildren to knit for. Anyone who has been following my blog will have seen  earlier posts dating back to April this year when I posted a smocked jacket for Martha. Then there were a few last year, one in August and one in December, and these were a cerise cardigan and another jacket style cardigan for which I wrote the pattern.  Since then I have been so busy knitting I have neglected to share any of them with you so here is the last six months worth in one go!

Kimono style jacket

Sorry this is the only snap I have
of her modelling it right now

Lynsey and I saw this pattern in a shop in Northallerton and decided we "needed it" even though it was the wrong season but now there has been a change in the weather it's great with jeans.
Chunky short sleeved jacket

Great with jeans
Rear view

Clever pocket detail
When I went to my favourite wool shop, Bobby Davisons in Hartlepool, to get the wool for the kimono I spotted this chunky knit jacket in the window so got the pattern and wool for this as well!
Chunky Knit cardi for the winter

Close up to show embroidery
and ribbon detail
Autumn stroll to the duckpond
At toddler group


This is another great pattern from Bobby Davisons and I loved knitting it but when it came to the embroidery I had my "Maths head" on and got a bit frustrated by the fact that the no of loops were not a multiple of the second type of embroidery stitch so i just left it out rather than end a row with half a chevron

The beginning of the next assignment

The completed cardi

Close up of embroidery detail
and cute buttons

Martha sporting her new cardi at ABC

This simple little yoked cardigan was dead easy to knit, a bit tricky getting a neat finish when picking up the loops for the yoke and definitely challenging for me to do random lazy daisy embroidery with no right or wrong placement.

For a change I knit a dress from the neck down
My stitch markers came in very useful
as keeping the pattern correct whilst
increasing was a bit tricky
Completed dress


Martha is always good at
coordinating her accessories

Perhaps not the most appropriate
dress for a soft play area
My daughter Lynsey spotted this dress pattern on the internet and we went off to buy the cotton yarn in our local branch of Boyes, where you are always granted good value for money. I loved the pattern so much I wanted to knit it but so did Lynsey and since she had spotted the pattern it seemed only right that she should. However we reached a compromise and decided we would both knit it but in different colours!
As I speak hers is not yet finished, as she does have a much busier lifestyle than me with 2 kids under 4 years, teaching part time and running Handmade by Martha a bespoke service making hair slides. I will just remind her though of the lovely cardigan she did that took so long it didn't fit!!!!!

Lynsey's creation now destined for someone other than Martha

I spotted this pattern and sequined wool
and thought it would be ideal for
Martha for her dance class

Project complete

Mini dancer

As Martha at just 2years has joined S&N dance school she did of course need to look good so to coordinate with her leotard she needed a little bolero to keep warm.

Aran "hoody"
hood detail

Cable detail

Looking a little uncomfortable

Lucas loved it at first.....

... but soon realised that it itched
 I decided that after all these knits for Martha it was about time Lucas got his turn. I had started this navy aran jacked about 17 years ago, and the models on the pattern were definitely from another era, but basically it was a very classic knit. My son Matthew advised knitting the hooded version but I didn't have sufficient wool so on his advice I went for a contrast colour which I also introduced into the ribs and button bands. I was really pleased with the outcome but we did hit a snag when Lucas declared it was "itchy" round the neck but I'm sure this can be resolved with a shirt with a collar. Fingers crossed.

 I've decided to stick with girly projects for now until we solve the scratchy problem

Selection of cotton DK from
earlier projects
Random stripes
After rummaging through my stash of yarns I discovered that I had sufficient of one type to knit another dress but this time in "random" stripes (well actually carefully planned to take into account how much of each colour I have) .

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Gibside Estate

The Ruins of Gibside Hall
In my last blog post about the community garden at Whickham I mentioned that the former coal mines there had once been owned by the wealthy Bowes family who had their family home at Gibside Hall. Well last Sunday Paul and I decided to take advantage of the lovely autumn sunshine and join our son Matthew in a country walk and what better place to do this than Gibside in the Derwent Valley. The estate is now owned by the National Trust and although the Hall itself is now in ruins there are still some lovely buildings including the chapel which was built as a mausoleum by the architect James Paine.
Gibside's Palladian style Chapel
Interior of the chapel showing the dome
The lady inside was lovely and gave us a potted history of the Bowes family which was just as exciting as plot from a soap opera today. In the 18th century a wealthy landowner called George Bowes owned the Gibside estate and in 1760, when he died, his daughter Mary Eleanor inherited it making her one of the richest women in Europe at that time. She later married John Lyon, 9th Earl of Strathmore & Kinghorne, from Glamis Castle in Scotland and they became known as the Bowes-Lyon family (from whom the late Queen Mother was a descendant).
Part of the Bowes-Lyon family tree
After the death of John, Mary Eleanor married Andrew Robinson Stoney and this was a disastrous union. Stoney, a fortune hunter, virtually imprisoned her and squandered their money but she did eventually divorce him and he spent the rest of his life in prison for debt.
The 10th Earl, her son John Bowes, fell in love with his housekeeper and together they had a son, also called John,. In order for him to inherit his father married the boy's mother the day before he died. This was not well received by the rest of the family who fought to have the title removed from him but they were unable to prevent him inheriting his father's fortune.

Bowes Museum
The son later did the Grand Tour and, while in Paris, fell in love with Josephine, an actress,and married her. On returning to England they built a home in the French style at Barnard Castle which is now Bowes Museum.
So as you see the family was not without drama and intrigue!
The "Long Walk" looking towards The Column of Liberty


After a leisurely stroll down the "Long Walk" taking in the views across to the orangery, ruined hall and the stable block we climbed up the hill to the base of the Column of Liberty and had a well earned rest in the autumn sunshine.

There are miles of tranquil walks and the estate is a haven for wildlife with red kites often circling in the skies above. It also has a wildlife hide to view and photograph visitors such as cold tits, great tits and nuthatches so Matthew got in a bit of practise here before visiting the Potting Shed cafe.
It was a lovely experience and well worth a visit if you are in the area.