Friday, 27 January 2012

Winter Wedding

I have finally managed to get my act together with this post - my beautiful sister's wedding back in December 2011. It really was the most magical day, everybody had a fantastic time. The above photo shows the entrance hall where we had pre dinner drinks. The fireplace was lit and the tree was decorated by my sister and I the day before - lots of bargain baubles with the odd little bird decoration here and there.

The above photo shows the hall where the ceremony took place. This was also the room where we had dinner. Check out the panelling and the ceiling!

The hall had two fireplaces which we decorated with candles, birds, pines cones and pheasant feathers (bought by my sister from a feather shop in Hong Kong! I suppose they don't take up much room in a suitcase).

The stairs were just a sight to behold. The night before the wedding, a lady had booked the place for her 50th birthday party - a pantomime themed party - and she placed Cinderella's glass slipper on a velvet cushion at the bottom of the stairs!

Here's us all lined up - I had sourced some vintage 1930s beaded clutch bags to carry instead of bouquets. My sister's dress was from Jenny Packham and the adult bridesmaids dresses were from Biba at House of Fraser. That's me stood next to my sister.

This is my favourite photo of the day.

Clare's dress looks amazing, she couldn't have chosen a more beautiful dress.

After the ceremony, everybody so happy. Check out the ceiling!

Time to eat. The food was delicious and there was so much of it.

A dessert platter for each table so people could choose what they fancied. Lemon posset, meringue, chocolate and chestnut pot or fresh fruit. There was also a cake table instead of a wedding cake, which had Christmas cake, Carrot cake, Chocolate cake, Cupcakes, Coffee and Walnut cake and a Gingerbread house. The cakes were all kindly made by a friend of Clare's.

Close up of the wedding dress. Stunning beadwork. 

It was certainly a day to remember. The happy couple went to Norway on their honeymoon and then returned to England for Christmas day. They are now back in Hong Kong where they live but we will see them again at Easter as we are going to visit them!!! We booked the flights last week and we are so excited, although I don't know who is more excited - the kids, me or my sister. An itinerary has already been drawn up so we will have lots to do once we're there. Oh and I'll be able to see the crochet blanket in its new home. Perfect.

That's all from me for this week. Have a wonderful weekend. Hope it's sunny where you are. xx

Friday, 20 January 2012

Made with love

I have been wanting to show you photos of my sister's wedding but they are stored on my husband's computer and I haven't managed to get on there and look for them. Hence the reason I haven't been on here for a while as I like to do my blog posts in order. It has been too long though so I decided to show you my secret project - a blanket I made as a wedding gift for my sister and her husband. Unfortunately, it was such a secret project that I didn't take any photos of me making it so you will just have to believe me when I say that I made it with my little crochet hook!

I knew I wanted to make an end-of-bed-throw type blanket for them and I didn't want to go for something too girly or floral as essentially it was a gift for both of them. I also was quite adamant that this would be a unique blanket, just for them, which meant that I was going to design it myself. Eek. I started by drawing inspiration from Moroccan style patterns as I knew these would give me the kind of shapes I was after.


I bought an odd ball of yarn and had a go at trying to create the shape I was after. This took lots of thinking, pulling back, starting again and eventually pushing it all to one side for a few months to sort it all out in my head before starting the real thing. My main concern was the type of yarn to use. I wanted the throw to look lacy but also to be strong enough to hold the shape of the design. You will see from the above photo that I had almost got the shape I wanted but the stitches I had used weren't holding it all together and the wool was too stretchy and soft to cope.

I went to the Knitting and Stitching Show last year and was intent on buying some yarn for this project and just getting on with it (too much procrastinating and fretting was taking place and the wedding was looming ever closer. I had 2 months to finalise the design and complete the blanket). My friend Alison and I wandered around, looking at lots of different yarns and shades of grey. I eventually plumped for Drops Karisma 100% wool in shade 70. It's a gorgeous dove grey which I would imagine will go with just about any colour scheme. Luckily, I had looked at the wedding gift list and noticed that they had requested a duvet cover in colours which would go perfectly with grey. Once I had the yarn I was going to use, I was able to finalise the design. I discovered that if I used trebles rather than double crochet stitches around the initial chain stitch shape of the outer edge of each block, I could make these blocks a lot more solid in structure. I joined them as I went along and managed to complete the blanket with a week to spare. Here are some photos of the blanket before it was washed.

 I'm not mad keen on blocking crochet work unless I really have to. In this case I had to wash the blanket as my brother in law is allergic to cats and even though Gerard had not touched the blanket, I had touched Gerard and then crocheted without washing my hands. I thought it was best to wash it and see what it looked like before deciding to block or not. I then spent about 5 days putting off washing the blanket as I was so nervous about the machine chewing it up and shrinking it into a small matted messy helping of woolen spaghetti. I have used the wool wash cycle on my machine to wash several crochet blankets, all of which survived so why I thought this would be a disaster, I don't know.

Anyway, in it went and I disappeared off to busy myself and take my mind off it. Needless to say, the blanket survived and I laid it out on some beach towels on our bed to dry. No need to block, I just laid it out as neatly as I could. I noticed the blocks seemed more lacy than before washing and the overall size of the throw was slightly bigger. I can't decide which I prefer - pre wash and post wash - but I know that I love this blanket and I enjoyed making it ever so much.

Not great photos - not a great deal of light in December and I had to keep the blanket on top of our bed, where the cat hadn't been. We ended up giving the blanket to my sister and brother in law on Christmas Day, after they returned from their honeymoon to Norway, and it is now draped across the end of their bed in Hong Kong.

And that is the story of the secret project end of bed throw, made with love for a very special couple. Photos of the wedding will follow shortly. Have a great weekend. x

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

New bed

We ordered most of our Christmas shopping online so had a few boxes arrive during December. Somebody is very happy with his new bed (and he really really enjoyed several helpings of turkey. I think he has put on some weight over Christmas!). In case you were wondering, the tortoises are in the beer fridge hibernating. I checked on them this morning and they seem to be all ok. Just another month and I can wake them up. :)

Monday, 2 January 2012

Christmas pottering

Back already, how did that happen? New Year, newly refreshed and ready to blog more frequently (hopefully!). I hope you all had a fab time over Xmas and New Year. We certainly did, especially once I had finished all the Christmas shopping, although I did spy this Orla Kiely bag in Tesco to brighten my day. I rarely use these Orla bags for food shopping as I find them really useful for storing wool and unfinished crochet projects (yes I know, there are a few hanging around).

Christmas day was perfect - we had family over to ours, including my sister and her new husband. I am one of only a few people I guess who actually enjoy cooking the christmas dinner, although we bought a giant 18lb turkey this year and I had to get up at 7am to get it in the oven. The kids weren't even awake either!! I spent a merry time in the kitchen during the course of the morning, peeling potatoes and sprouts whilst listening to the radio. Once my sister arrived, we cracked open some bubbly and finished cooking the dinner. I got some cracking presents this year. I got the Downton Abbey box set, some L'Occitane hand cream and my Mum got me this book (thanks again Mum!) which I am looking forward to using for my Mollie Makes inspired blanket.

There are dozens of borders to choose from, it's been quite difficult to decide which one to try first. I have always struggled with choosing which border to go for, mainly because I can't ever seem to find border patterns online, so this book was just what I needed.

I also got something that I have wanted for nearly 2 years - a lobster pot stool.

Not a great photo as it looks washed out here, the colour is much richer. It came all the way from Scotland through ebay and I got it for a bargain price (hence the reason it has taken me so long to get one as they usually sell for a lot more than I am prepared to spend). As soon as I saw it and realised it was on a buy it now price, I snapped it up. I have had it for around 6 weeks now and having been moved from pillar to post about the lounge, I think we have found the perfect place for it to reside. Everyone, including the kids, has been given strict instructions not to sit on it as it's about 60 years old and I have heard horror stories of them collapsing under people perched on them! Gerard can sit on it though, not that he's shown the remotest bit of interest in it!

I also bought several Marks and Spencer tins, including my favourite one below. Need to sort out some storage for all the tins I have acquired. Some will be used for homemade cakes/cookies and some will be used for storage elsewhere in the house. On my list of things to do this year is a massive clearout, especially of the tardis (our hall cupboard - it's huge and that's the problem, it can hold so much clutter that just gets forgotten about). I'm hoping that we will eventually have a house with only things that we need or love in. The tins can hold all those annoying little bits and pieces that you need but don't necessarily want to look at on a daily basis. That's the plan anyway, my fear is that I have hoarding tendencies and slowly slowly the appearance of unnecessary stuff will start creeping back into the house. I can't believe we need to have a clearout so soon after moving - we got rid of loads of stuff before moving 2 years ago, prompted by the removal firm telling us that we had an awful lot of stuff. I was quite embarrassed!

I spent a fair few hours over the Xmas/New Year period with crochet blanket in hand, gradually joining all these little squares together. I am joining them one by one into a long row, followed by sewing in all the ends (there are so many, I was really hoping that this blanket wouldn't have so many to do, but sadly I was wrong), then I am joining the long row onto the main blanket using double crochet. I have four more rows to attach and then I can start on the border - hoorah!

The kids had a fab time, they were pleased with all their presents (phew!) and have thoroughly enjoyed some down time after an extremely hectic December in school. So many performances and things to remember to do. Yes, they have definitely appreciated sitting around watching tv and eating chocolate! Back to school this week and back to the mammoth task of getting this house looking its best again for me. All the decorations were packed away yesterday and the lounge is looking remarkably bare, tidy and spacious. Long may it last. x