Wednesday, January 23, 2013

More snow, some brioche & crochet news

Around the garden and the land

In the space of a few days we've gone from a sprinkling of snow to several inches and then a melt:

A light sprinkling
A generous covering like a cap

Melting and looking like a beret at a jaunty angle!

On Thursday morning the view from the bedroom window was like this:

Now you see it - the mown path is clearly visible
 By Thursday evening it looked like this:

Now you don't!
The beautiful tree is one of the many oaks we have on our land and we call him the Ent Oak, courtesy of Tolkien.  When we moved here 11 years ago 2 large lower branches had been cut off and some of the wood piled underneath for the wildlife.  This little wood pile is home to hundreds of insects and fungi and I love the way the ivy climbs up the tree trunk.

But look a little closer and you might see someone special - the face of the green man.  We bought him years ago and this seemed the perfect place for him, peeping out from the ivy, often going unnoticed but lifting our spirits when we catch sight of him.  We call him Treebeard (from Lord of the Rings).

One of the ponds, frozen over
Snow blown against a tree trunk 
The plake with what looks like an island of snow on top of the ice
A fir cone peeping out from its snowy canopy
Tea in the garden anyone?

Esther & Kizzy

Kizzy's always first out of the shelters and getting impatient!  She is really old and has a thinnish coat so has to wear a neck cover as well as her blanket in really cold weather
Esther's more laid-back and patient, with a thick coat like  a fluffy teddy bear.  She's a Haflinger, a breed that originated in Austria so she is good in adverse weather conditions.
She's such a Barbie-girl with her flaxen mane and tail!
Phew, brekkie at last
Time to play 'push the bucket around' for a while
Now for some fun doing what horses love to do - roll!

I'm going down
First you rub your face in the snow on one side
Then you start your roll to the other side
A few more rolls backwards and forwards then it's time to get back up

Have a jolly good shake

Then back to the important business of eating hay in the field shelter

The wild birds

The bird feeders have been a hive of activity.

The ducks wait patiently below for seeds to drop from the feeders

Other smaller birds watch and wait their turn from the safety of the hedge.

Brioche update

I'm now starting to learn about 2 colour brioche.  It took several attempts to get the order of knitting into my head and I ripped my swatch back twice before it suddenly clicked.

The light side (the right side edge is uneven as I think I've slipped stitches when I shouldn't have!)
The dark side

I'm just going to practice this a bit more before I move on to shaping then it'll be time for a scarf for me.

Crochet news

There was much excitement yesterday when I received an email from Jane Crowfoot telling me that the parcel of yarn should be despatched later this week.  I know the Crochet Club doesn't start until the end of February but I'm really excited about it!  I still haven't started my overlay crochet cushion as I've been so absorbed in knitting brioche but I have to get it finished before then.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sheep in the snow

We've had snow, even down here in the South East of the UK!  

Of course this has given me a great photo opportunity and I've taken loads which need editing before I show them.  In the meantime here are some lovely photos that Mike took of the sheep the other morning when we had just a light sprinkling of snow.

Where's our food then?

What a pretty face
I haven't been in the brambles, honest guv!

They have such lovely, honest faces and the way their ears stick out at the sides always makes me smile.

Asthma/running update

I'm still struggling with this stupid asthma.  It's interfering with everything - if I'm not out of breath then I'm coughing for no apparent reason and it's getting on my nerves and no doubt annoying all those around me too!  Today I was singing some backing vocals for Mike and we had to abandon it as I couldn't hold the notes long enough and the more I tried, the worse it got and I just ended up getting teary.  

To make matters worse my run today was interrupted by a massive coughing fit which lasted for about 5 minutes.  Obviously I needed that large piece of cake afterwards to console me!

KBO as Mr Churchill used to say (please pardon my language but that's "keep buggering on", in case you didn't know).

Knitting news

Here's a knitted doily, as yet unblocked but I wanted to see how it would look on the little table.

Unblocked doily 
Still unblocked but showing how it fits in with things around it (which reminds me that I must re-cover the footstool - perhaps in Bargello this time?)
My next knitting project awaits - Boreal, by Kate Davies.  I bought the yarn in November but couldn't start it as I had so much Christmas stuff to do.  I wish I'd finished it as it's perfect for snowy weather!  The yarn I'm using is Artesano alpaca aran, the same as for Mike's scarf, in deep purple &  creamy white.

Time to swatch.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Catching up

First scarf of the year

I finished Mike's scarf last night and I'm very pleased with how it turned out.  We had a heavy frost last night but I wanted a photo of it taken outside so we started at the back of the house but it was in the shade and the colour didn't show up well enough.

After several attempts I was getting cold and so I nipped into the house to get a cap and we tried at the front in a sunny spot.  Much better.  The colour is just right.


The Jacki scarf by Nancy Marchant, designed as part of the Craftsy course Explorations in Brioche Knitting which is excellent so far (my next lesson explores 2 colour brioche which looks a bit more complicated!).

Yarn: Artesano Alpaca Aran in Deep Teal. 2.25 skeins used.
Needles: 4mm
Stitch: Brioche
Finished length: 6'6"
Difficulty: Moderate.  A good way to practice basic brioche stitch using simple increases and decreases.

Verdict: Mike's very happy with the finished scarf and will be wearing it tomorrow!  The yarn is beautiful to work with and the scarf is very warm.  Brioche is definitely a good stitch for scarves, hats, mittens and I'm fancying making some leg-warmers for myself.

My next project is some more overlay crochet.

Frosty morning

Brrrrr, it was nippy this morning, but beautiful too and so the camera came out with me when I fed the horses.

A sprinkling of snow on a pottery ball

Frosty panels on the barn

Frost crystals making leaves look all fuzzy

Pink buds of Rhododendrons

Beautiful veins on a prostrate Rubus (look at the lovely hairy red stem)

Tiny crystals on the fence

Even crystals edging my pottery dish and making the sempervivums look so pretty

Swirly patterns in the horses' hoofprints

Over-wintering guests

When I was dusting the bedroom the other day I spotted some more little ladybirds huddled in the corner of the window frame.  They look like Harlequin ladybirds who seem to like to stay in our bedroom for some reason!


Running, asthma woes, plus more fungi and moss

This week has been a bad one on the running front.  The spirit is willing but the body is weak and asthma is winning the battle at the moment.  It might be the cold weather that's doing it but I'm having great difficulty breathing on the uphill sections, which is unfortunate as all my routes are hilly!  I recover quickly but at the time it's just so hard to breathe which can be quite scary.

As a result, my 12 miler on Sunday was a real struggle, especially on the hilly bits, of which there were many.  Thankfully I'd taken my camera with me and so I consoled myself with photos of things that caught my eye.

Tree with mossy socks on his toes!
 My obsession with fungi continues and it's been a great season for all manner of beauties:

Frilly petticoats
I think this looks like  a stack of pancakes!

To make myself feel better when I got home, I baked a wholesome sourdough loaf using a mixture of white and spelt flour.  Very tasty and especially good with some homemade tomato and red lentil soup!

My asthma medication has now been re-assessed and I have to take more doses of my Symbicort inhaler.  Hey ho, let's see if that works.  I really hope so as it's getting me down and interfering with my marathon schedule.