Thursday, 27 February 2014

Severn swans a-swimming!

There's nothing woolly about this post - it's a more random feature!
Last week, in half term, we visited family in water-logged Worcester.

Having seen lots of television with national and local presenters sporting waders, wellies and wet anoraks it was with some trepidation we ventured into the centre of Worcester to a familiar riverside car park.

The sun was waning and there was an ambient hum of generators pumping out the nearby restaurant.

We hadn't gone to see the height of the water (although from the pictures that is evident!) but the famous swans that populate the River Severn, usually swimming serenely, on the river below the wall.
As the river was so high it had engulfed the wall, a higher path, seats and statue, and was level with the path along the car park edge.
The swans had taken advantage of this and were strolling around, munching grass and crocuses, gulping bread brought by other inquisitive river viewers.

These pictures are a small handful of nearly 100 taken is a short space of time (thank goodness for digital cameras!)
The swans were very docile (I did keep my distance at first just to check!) - and I made a new friend in D-63 who seemed to pose for the camera....

water on a swan's back!!..

up close and personal!

loved the shapes thrown whilst preening!

...tried to capture a couple of heart shapes...


... slips into the water...

and glides, against the tide,  into the sunset!

An idyllic moment!
Although the sun was setting we found out we had not viewed its swansong ... the skies turned a glorious pinky orange... as we travelled home!!

A week on and the river has receded, the seats are cleaned and ready for use...and the swans are still swimming sedately on the Severn!

Saturday, 22 February 2014

A circumference of cowls!

Over the last few years I have come to the realisation that I am content with making small things!
This means that when selecting materials small amounts fit the bill.
Having crept out of post-Christmas shopping hibernation towards the end of January, I assumed I would have missed all the sale bargains.
However when the odd ball is sufficient there's lots of decadent beautiful colours and textures to choose from....and at sale prices, dithering is not as frequent an occurrence.
It also dawned on me that one 50g ball would be enough for a Sherlock Cowl with maybe some delicious left overs for tiny embellishing extras on other projects.

 Here's the crop of the cowls

This Sirdar Indie was sooooo soft, sumptuous and sleek to hook - and some surprise colours were hiding inside the ball!

The very fine bright blue (from my stash) added extra zing to the Faroe

The Rowan drift was a 100g ball of very squidgy merino

so it made two cowls

 There are so many tones in the fluffy wool..

Four birthday present cowls...and as I am so used to my pattern they are so soothing to hook!

On the subject of bargains I popped into one of the local charity shops and came away with this bumper bundle:

The vibrant pink Jaeger has Darlington on the label, the white acrylic can be washed at 60 and professes to be moth proof, and the Carousel is very soft cotton from Thomas B Ramsden. 
Love finding jewels in the wool basket.... I confessed to Jacqui this week - I am a bit of an equipment collector....this gadget might over complicate the process (perhaps that's why its been donated...) 
but couldn't resist a bit of engineering!
Will let you know if  I find any more nuggets whilst rummaging!

Tracey has some fab patterns for small things including these colourful tiny crochet Easter eggs
on her blog or  hearts on her etsy page.

Although I do love small things there is one area where size matters...

This massive confectionery container houses 44 usual sized chocolates.....and is still intact!

Friday, 7 February 2014

Plarn Fair Maid of February!

Ever since I read  the fantastically creative Ali's plarn tutorial and knitting pattern on The Creations of Crazy Dazy I knew I would give it a try.
These days I rarely pick up disposable bags as Bags for Life are a usual part of my shopping routine. As the majority of thin plastic bags I do have in my stash are white, a design plan began to take hold(all!)
I even took some bags on holiday in the summer, as they flat-packed into a smaller space than a ball of yarn - but it wasn't the right time of year for the plan!

I spent a while getting the initial elements of the pattern right. I tried with wool, first by eye, and after several unsuccessful attempts resorted to writing it down in a rather unusual format (vertically rather than horizontally!) This worked so well for me I don't know why I hadn't tried this approach before!

Ali's tutorial was so easy to follow and two balls of plarn were made - one pure white and the other white with green patterns..
The plarn worked well on a 6mm hook and progress was fast.

The constituent parts were assembled, and I was fairly pleased with the result...however it wasn't quite after several experiments with various items from our tool box and garage, some out of the box thinking was required...Mr RW came up with an ingenious plan that worked a treat - and I am pleased to reveal.....

 .... a plarn snowdrop..

...or fair maid of February...

 Below is the snowdrop in its initial form  - most of them in our garden look like this at the moment..

However I really wanted the flower to be open, displaying the bell, which happens later in the life cycle.
As wire intertwined through the stitches did not make the petals fan out or lift, Mr RW suggested a wire frame to support the open flower. You can see the frames below (attached to the petals with some white wire..) 

 One of  the white bags used was less thin and had a shiny texture, it was a bit more tricky to hook but gives the petals a shiny sheen in places. It was only used in part of the plarn ball so one of the petals, without the thicker strips, is slightly smaller!

 The stamens are knotted scraps of plarn

 The detailed shots evoke happy thoughts of Greggs, M&S and Poundland!!

 A pipe cleaner is strengthened with wire and wound round a garden cane for a stem.

 I might try some garden shots when the wet and windy weather abates!
It was great working with a new material  - the ball can be added to at any point, even as you go along!
Creating the pattern elements, which can be tweaked to form other projects in the future, was worth the investment of time. 
The blogging community is so much fun and fantastically inspirational - Thanks Ali!