Monday, 19 October 2015

Autumn in the mountains

We're enjoying a long weekend at our very favourite place away, Tyn y Simdde in the mountains of North Wales. I've blogged about it here and here on other visits so won't bore you by raving about the cottage again. Suffice to say it never disappoints and we regard it as "our" cottage as I just can't imagine anyone else being here - even the owners!!!!  (Who are lovely lovely people by the way.) However reading the visitors book I see I'm not the only one who thinks of this place as their own private paradise! ;o)

Anyway, we arrived on Friday night and I soon realised I had left the bag with my crafting supplies in it on the chair at home! Oh no! I'd planned to get a start on some Christmas gifts and had bought yarn especially for these few days.

However I knew there was a savior nearby in the form of Knit One, a tiny wool shop just down the road in Dolgellau. I could buy crochet hooks there and luckily I did have a couple of balls of cotton yarn in my bag so could get on with some snowflakes for Christmas fair bunting.  And as I was on my holidays I couldn't not treat myself to some yarn at the same time - could I?! I went for this beautiful lavender fingering I'd seen on the Knit One blog. Unbelievably its 450m of 100% YAK! and is so so soft. It will be my Christmas project for myself when everyone else's gifts are done and I can enjoy choosing a pattern.

We leave for home in the morning and as usual don't want to go! The weather has been dull but dry and very quiet, making for pale grey days and dark dark nights with no sun, moon or stars to be seen. Yesterday we took a trip to Harlech to see the castle and the new Caffi Castell Harlech I'd seen and heard so much about.

I may be biased towards my homeland, but I don't think there are many cafes in the world with better views - even on a dull day. And the cakes were to die for!!!  Its a very modern building sitting next to the 800 year old castle but I don't think it detracts from the drama of that looming front gate. In fact it rather compliments it as it would be difficult to resist buying a ticket and exploring those high walls when you've been sitting right next to them enjoying tea and cake!

If you are interested you can read more about this castle and other medieval castles in Wales here. You can see some spectacular photos taken on sunnier days too!!!!

One of the best things about Harlech Castle is being able to walk those high walls and on a dry day climb to the top of one of the turrets - if you have a head for heights and the puff that is! I took this photo from there and you can see the lovely sedum roof of the cafe way below.

Anyway, we've had a lovely few days here; seeing Titch explore the great outdoors again, feeding and watching the birds, and enjoying the autumn colours all around us. 

And yes, there was a hint of a sunset on the mountains on Saturday evening for a few minutes, though I have to confess to a slight photoshop enhancement colourwise!  My pocket camera is not the best in near darkness.

See you again next year Tyn y Simdde!

Sunday, 4 October 2015

World Card Making Day.............just!!!

Didn't realise it was so late in the day! However as a cardmaker I thought I really must post today.  I don't think I'm going to make it by midnight UK time, but as its an American celebration there's still time, right? And I have been cardmaking this week using some of my old favourite Christmas stamps and a fab new set from Clare at Waltzing Mouse stamps.

Clare comes up with a design I can't resist every year and this year its Scandi Doodle Christmas. I'm a real admirer of Scandinavian design, especially at Christmas. You can probably guess which are Waltzing Mouse stamps in this picture! There are some other brands though. The two little elves are Hero Arts Stamps by Lia and the All is Calm set is from Neat & Tangled's 2014 release. The other designs (Father Christmas, Christmas Pud and Reindeer) are so old I can't remember where they came from but are real favourites I use every year.

Well its now half past midnight here in the UK so I have missed the boat big style, but I'm going with US time - its still 3rd October there! As you can see its been stamping in the sunshine here - not very Christmassy but glorious just the same.

More like midsummer than Christmas, but with the added bonus of Autumn colour! Just fabulous!

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

I bought another gadget!!

I can't resist a gadget - its my Dad's fault, he had to have the latest gadget, but then in his day (sadly he died 20 years ago) there were no electronic knick knacks to fill pockets and bags. Dad bought gadgets for the garden and kitchen - a strimmer, toasted sandwich maker, soda stream, etc. I've inherited his love of little machines and when I saw this one on Pinterest I so wanted it! I do love the Knitting Nancy of my childhood and have a few - a couple of dolls and a red topped mushroom and I remember using the empty cotton reel with four nails in the top.  But I've been asked to do something for the charity shop's Halloween window display and had an idea for bunting made of long strings of knitting with small woolly pumpkins hanging down.  But I'll show these later. In the meantime I made these woolly bracelets.

You can knit SO FAST with this little gadget. It would have taken me days to knit strings long enough for two large shop windows with a Knitting Nancy but I did them in a couple of hours!  Wonderful! Bracelets take about 5 minutes and are just right for this cooler time of year. Here's one on me!

And I've tagged some bracelets for sale using my lovely new stamp from Clarise Crafts. Been wanting to order one for ages and when I saw there was already a design featuring a dandelion clock I knew it was meant for me - Plowmen's Clocks - get it?!

The knitter is quite easy to use once you've realised how it works. There's a video demo here using a different brand machine but it works in exactly the same way. It is quite mesmerising to watch the stitches forming.

I do have a couple of tips learned whilst trying to get started however:-

1. On the first turning of the handle make sure the yarn is hooked on only two opposite hooks.After that the yarn will be taken up by all four hooks.

2. Watch the yarn and turn slowly until you are sure the stitches are forming correctly - you can hear a little click as each stitch is pulled off the hook and through the stitch below. After that you can turn faster.

3. Attach the heavy weight as soon as you've got going to pull the knitting down - otherwise you'll end up with a big tangle at the top of the tube.

4. Make sure you unwind the yarn from the ball as you go and let it feed through without any tension. As soon as you feel any resistance through the handle unwind more yarn.

Happy French Knitty!!

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

September's here!

There's a purple haze on the hills which to me means Autumn is here.  But it seems Summer doesn't want to leave us just yet. The last two days have been beautiful but there is definitely an excuse to light a fire in the evening when that nip in the air is felt.

My colouring (yes, I'm still at it!) has taken on the colours of Autumn too. I know I'm going on and on about these Zig Clean Color pens but I'm so enjoying them. I love to make single layer cards and as these colours don't bleed through to the back I can get out my outline stamps again without having to add another layer to my little cards. And an imminent birthday has allowed me to add new colours to my collection as I asked all my family to buy me a few.

I've been experimenting with larger cards too - very brave of me! A friend asked for some birthday cards so I put together a little bundle for her and packaged them up in a recycled acetate box. I'd love to do more of these boxes for an upcoming craft fair but the only ones I've found for sale are very expensive - £15 for 25 - so I'm not sure its financially practical. They do look good though.  If anyone has found less expensive boxes (C6 size) in the UK I'd love to know where.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Shopping for Crafty Sorts

I've still got the colouring bug but this time the result has been more productive - birthday cards. I was itching to get my hands on the Garden Grow stamp set from Altenew's new release and it arrived in the UK last week courtesy of the wonderful Make the Day Special on-line store.  This sketchy informal style is perfect for the Kurtake watercolour pens I've been playing with recently. It really doesn't seem to matter if my colouring is not perfect - in fact the more roughly I apply the colour the better I like the result!

I've also enjoyed a bit of 'me time' stamping these tags (using Knit Bits stamp set from Papertrey Ink) for my friend Jan who has been celebrating a special anniversary this week. Jan's Mum bought this tiny wool shop 50 years ago as a going concern from a Mrs Ceri Griffiths who at the time just happened to be our elderly next door neighbour. My Mum remembers Mrs Griffiths gave up her shop as she was finding the tiny staircase to the first floor difficult to climb.


Here is Jan with our lady mayor and in the photo you might just be able to see inside this Aladdin's Cave of delights. If you knit or crochet the shop is a must-visit when in the area.  As you can see the place is absolutely stuffed full to overflowing with yarn and other knitty delights.
And as from this week there is even more reason to visit as Jan has opened a small patio/garden area to the side of the shop through persuading the Police Station next door to sell part of their garden.  Now visitors can sit and enjoy a little yarn therapy in this secret space.... and might even be offered the cup that cheers!!!

So I would like to congratulate Jan on her achievement in keeping this fabulous resource open for us local crafty sorts. No mean feat in these days of internet shopping and vast shopping parks. I'm sure there are precious few local businesses can boast 50 years in the same family and even longer in the same historic building.

I pinched these pics from a local facebook page and hope they don't mind.  And you can read a bit more about the shop here.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

World Photography Day


Its ‪#‎WorldPhotographyDay‬ (apparently) so I thought I'd blog some of my Dad's photos. When we were young he was a keen photographer and developed his films in the bathroom - we were forbidden to enter when he was in there in the dark with his strange paraphernalia, spooky red lightbulb and those weird chemical smells. His photographs were often imperfect but I love them all, especially those he took of us when we weren't looking. Here we are on the beach - I think at Butlins Pwllheli circa 1956.

Here's another Butlins photo probably taken in 1954 - I swear it never rained when we were at our most favourite place in the world at that time. We so looked forward to our week at Butlins. I think I dreamed about it for weeks beforehand!

Its the moments in time caught forever that I love about these un-posed photos. Most Sundays we went for trips into the countryside - either just for a walk or a picnic in good weather.

Here we'd been given fishing nets and messing about near the water was always irresistible. This is the River Dwyfor near Trawsfynydd where our Uncle and Aunt lived.

Another of my sister and I - there were four of us but by the time my youngest sister came along in 1956 Dad had stopped developing his films himself so there are fewer photos - much to my baby sister's disgust. She is still put out that there aren't many pictures of her!

Here we are with Mum playing a game of chase in a daisy strewn field long ago.

And this was a birthday party in the garden - we'll never know what everyone was so interested in on the grass.

There are lots taken in the back garden. This is us with my Mother's friend Bessie's newly adopted son Peter - a much longed for child for her and her husband.

And another game in the garden - this time with Hazel from next door. We were always outside even in the winter - warmly wrapped up of course!

And with my cheeky cousin Dafydd - Mum says he was always a naughty boy.... something he vehemently denies now!!

And finally a much later picture of all of us with Mum. My sister will only moan if I leave her out! By this time (about 1958) Dad's pictures came as coloured slides which we viewed on a big white plastic screen through a slide projector. Some time ago I got the chance to borrow a slide scanner and scanned them all into the computer.  It took an age but I'm so glad I did.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Those Adult Books!

Hands up whose been sucked in by the current craze for adult colouring!  Add me to the list!  This week I've spent a couple of hours every evening sitting at my Mum's kitchen table with pencils and a pretty image colouring away. Took me back to my childhood when a new colouring book was a treat bought with my Saturday afternoon sixpence in Woolworths or W H Smiths.

But now in 2015 the queen of colouring is undoubtedly Scottish illustrator Johanna Basford.  Her first book, The Secret Garden, has sold over a million copies and has been translated into 14 languages! Already a very talented artist of course, Johanna's idea to turn her illustrations into a colouring book, and one for adults to boot, has shot her to fame. I came across her books when looking for a colouring book for my mum.  At 91 and in frail health, she doesn't go out now. I thought she might like something other than watching TV or doing crosswords to pass the time but I have to say all the adult books I looked at (and there are many!) were far too intricate for her eyesight. However I was rather taken by Johanna's second book Enchanted Forest myself.

Being a stamping card maker I already use pencils and markers but I was still reluctant to spoil the pages of my new book. After all its easy with cards - you just start again if there's a mistake or blot on the image. However I found some free downloads here and here and set to practicing.

I printed the pages on thin white card and found my Staedtler pencils gave a pleasing result. I also liked the effect of Kuretake Clean Color Brush Pens but sadly my Copics are out as they would bleed through to the other side of the page - disaster!

I finished my first page last night and, oh dear, looks like I've started another already!  Apparently I'm not the only one addicted though. Take a look at the Colouring Gallery on Johanna's website. Some pretty impressive work there! Hmm, might just add my mermaids to its walls.


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