Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Summer's End

Sitting here, looking out of the window, while the rain, which hasn't stopped for the day, keeps falling, it seems like the summer has well and truly finished.

Very shortly, the 7 weeks of family fun we've had will come to an abrupt end, the 5.50am alarm tomorrow signalling that the autumn term has arrived.  Where is 2015 going?!  Soon thoughts will turn to autumnal shades and cosy evenings, while crafting will take on a decidedly Christmas theme.  For now, I shall push festive planning to the back of my mind, and instead look back at the things we did in this summer.

When school finished in July, our heads were filled with thoughts of leisurely strolls in the countryside and long summer evenings, picnics in the shade and paddling in the cooling sea.  As soon as we were able, we packed up and headed West to my husband's family home in a little village near Perranporth.

Cornwall is, quite simply, beautiful.  Come rain or shine, there is always something to discover in this amazing county of hidden treasures, and it will always have a special place in my heart.  I loved the place before I ever met Mr Y.  The fact that Cornwall is his home county was the icing on the cake, when I met him!
We made the most our time there and certainly kept ourselves busy.  

Picking a perfect warm evening, we headed to Perranporth when the tide was on the way out, found ourselves a rock to sit on and watched the sun sink slowly into the sea.  The light was amazing, and the reflections in the sea soaked sand were so beautiful.

I captured this shot of Miss C, my little thinker, on my iPhone.  No filter, no enhancing, just a second in time, and beautiful.  

Miss M prefers to be hands on and spent her time grubbing in the sand!! 

We made footprints in the sand and explored the caves.

You cant beat a National Trust property, and we went to the stunning Lanhydrock House, and fell in love with it all over again. 


What a view.  We sat and just looked at this incredible view.  Imagine that for a garden!

The story of the last family who lived there, the Agar-Robartes, is quite a sad one, and there is a moving display in the gatehouse explaining what various members of the family did during WW1. 
 I visited with my parents as a teen, and remember how awesome the house was, especially the massive kitchen.  The National Trust has done an amazing job, and the house really looks as though a family still lives there.  We loved it so much, in fact, that we made a second visit and walked the estate from the other end, stopping off at the Bodmin and Wenford Railway en route.

Picking one of the hottest days of the summer, we sweltered in the biomes at the Eden Project.  




And took a trip to St Ives on a double decker bus while the car was being serviced.  Such a picturesque little place, but oh so busy!  We went on a baking hot day, and if I'm honest, the streets became a little too busy for us and the seagulls were a menace!  But we found pizza, cooked fresh to order, and then they all had the obligatory ice cream with a dollop of clotted cream on top.  We got through quite a lot of clotted cream, actually.

We felt that we could have stayed in the West forever, maybe one day, but we had to head home, and ultimately, there's no place like home.

There was time spent with family and friends, evenings out and lazy breakfasts, walking through forests and puddle jumping in the pouring rain, and more late nights than there probably should have been, but we really let our hair down in the holidays.

A trip to Norwich to see the GoGo Dragons where, on an 11+ mile walk, we spotted 64 of the 84 dragons, and then shared a train journey home with a carriage of merry football drunks!

Unusually, not much knitting happened.  I finished this jumper that had taken me ages to knit because I lost interest in it, and I've managed to hurt my shoulder so knitting is going at a snail's pace.

Most of my time was taken up with these little pretties!

I've started a quilt for Miss M, and have one planned for Miss C.  M wanted a red, white and blue theme and loves anything with dogs on, so we picked a mix of 1930's reproduction cottons, a couple of Cath Kidston prints, and a few from the Moda range for good measure. Add in some of the fabrics from dresses I've made both girls, and we were well on the way.  More than 700 2.5" hexies were cut and tacked onto paper.  Time consuming but oh so addictive.

Very much channelling the tortoise and the hare with the "slow and steady" mantra.  It's looking good so far, although I have to admit I've not done any for the last three weeks.

We ended the holiday on a high with a few days away in Crewe, Runcorn and Leicester, and threw in a trip to IKEA for good measure.  Got to love IKEA :)

There was a lot of treasure hunting too.  Not so much in Cornwall, the county offers relatively slim pickings on the vintage front, but that didn't stop treasures being found elsewhere!  
Pretty aprons.

Check out that knitting print fabric!
Favourite, favourite, favourite summer find - a WW2 Jacqmar propaganda scarf called Jacqmar Presents!
We have a final 1940's event to prepare for this month, my favourite event of the year, the 1940's Weekend on the North Norfolk Railway.  This is the one where Miss C and my dad go walkabout, and we barely see them for the weekend.  Outfits have been planned and I spent yesterday repairing and altering a tiny size 6 1930's/1940's dress for her to wear.

 We're off out in a bit, a trip to the cinema to see a final summer film before evenings return to marking and lesson planning.  Hope September is good for you xx

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Beautiful Bluebells - 1940's Jumper

Hello! It's been a while, I do apologise.  

Things have been a bit busy round here.  There's been the normal end of term shenanigans of frantic marking and box ticking; so glad school has finished for the summer.  I've been sewing some blouses, making lots of 2.5" hexies for my first ever quilt and doing plenty of knitting.  We've had family visiting us and then we travelled West to stay with the Mr's family for a couple of weeks.  I'm quite worn out!  

We're home now, returning to a boiler that wouldn't light.  The boiler repair man has been and gone and given our ancient old boiler a new lease of life, for now, and the Mr has just taken the girls to the local computer shop to see whether they can recover the data from the hard drive of his less than two year old laptop!  

So I have about an hour to myself, and what better way to spend it than showing you one of my top five favourite woollies.

This recent jumper is a commission piece knitted for the lovely Kitty Lou.  An Australian pattern from the 1940's, you can find the pattern here, the wool chosen was a gorgeous dull gold colour by Patons, part of their Diploma Gold 4 ply range.  

The pattern repeat is worked over 36 rows, and although the design looks quite complicated, there is a logic to the pattern.  However, for ease of working, I did type up the 36 pattern repeats into a word document which helped keep me on track.

Unlike the other bluebell one I did, which you can see here, the yoke on this one was nice and simple, so no pattern matching up and over the shoulders.  

Back and front knitted up well, albeit slowly, but the sleeves were a right pain in the rear end.  The shaping from the underarms simply didn't work out.  I tried and ripped them back 3 times before disparing and writing my own shaping instructions.  I won't lie, tears were shed.  Tears of sheer furry!  :)  I think there was an error in the pattern.  My mother in law mooted something along the lines of a bad workman blaiming his tools, but I don't think so.  

Following the picture on the front of the pattern book, I still managed to achieve the same look.  The boxy sleeves turned out really well, and the knitted shoulder pads finish the look off perfectly.

Although there was the slipup with the sleeves, this was one of my favourite jumpers to work on.  I'm really impressed with the quality of Paton's Diploma.  It's heavier than some of other 4 ply brands, so the jumper weighs in at just under 1lb, but the beautiful quality of the wool shows off the intricate detail perfectly. 

Wool - Patons Diploma 4 ply in Gold
Weight used - 9 balls
Time taken - 100+ hours

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

A Capital Day Out

A few weeks ago, we took a much anticipated family trip to London.  Preferring to catch an early train to beat the crowds, my family of four plus my parents, headed off bright and early, arriving in Liverpool Street just after 8am!

We try to avoid the underground when travelling with the girls and so took to our feet and walked; Liverpool Street to Lambeth Road is quite a stomp!  Thankfully, the weather was glorious, one of those bright May days, and there is always plenty to see on the South Bank, so there was no complaining, not even from little legs Miss M. 

My mum and dad in their normal attire!  CC41 overcoat for my dad, and a 1940's teddy bear coat for my mum!

It’s never a chore to walk in the beautiful parts of the city.  There are plenty of eateries to stop off at.  Breakfast was had just by St Pauls Cathedral.  Certainly beats my normal morning view.

The reason for our jolly jaunt was a much anticipated visit to IWM London.


I first visited the museum when I was in high school, back in the mid 1990’s.  I found it utterly fascinating, and the books I took home as gifts for my parents were what sparked their initial interest in the Second World War.  I remember waxing lyrical about the hanging aircraft in the atrium and the spectacular Britain in the Blitz exhibition.  Times move on and exhibitions change, so when we heard that the site was closed for refurbishment, we had high hopes for something even more spectacular than before.  When the Fashion on the Ration exhibition was opened, it seemed like the perfect time to make the long awaited trip.    

If you don’t know already, Fashion on the Ration is an exhibition that has been put together to show how men and women found new ways to dress in the dark days of clothes rationing. 
There is a brilliant book, "Fashion on the Ration", by Julie Summers, that accompanies the exhibition.

The exhibition has been beautifully put together.  You aren’t allowed to take photographs in there, although many people were blatantly doing so when we visited, but a quick Google search should bring up plenty of photos of some of the beauties on display. 

Many of the clothing examples are breath-taking, and the layout of the exhibition works really well as there is lots of space so you can stand back and really appreciate the exhibits.  There are plenty of high end examples of clothing, novelty prints, and an especially delightful two piece with a rather fetching ball of wool and knitting needles print.  There are films running on various walls, which give a great atmosphere to the whole thing, but I think they could have covered a bit more. 

For an exhibition covering how hard it was to clothe yourself during rationing, there is very little in the way of what is often seen as mundane, everyday clothing.  Yes, there is a patchwork dress and underwear made out of silk maps.  There is also a clip showing you how to cut down the old man’s trilby so you can re-fashion it into a little topper for yourself, but these barely touch the surface of what it was really like to make do with what you had.  I feel it is more tailored towards the high fashion clothing than the standing in the grocery queue fashions which so often get overlooked.  There aren’t enough knitteds for my liking, but being knitting obsessed I would think that!  The uniforms that are on display are a nice touch, and I could happily have taken home the bright floral smocks and overcoat with CC41 buttons.  

There is a phenomenal display of Jacqmar propaganda scarves, and they are probably my favourite thing in the whole exhibition.  Framed and displayed as a collection, they are so cheerful and bright.  These scarves are incredibly rare; we have a rayon silk London Wall and RAF Happy Landings one in our collection, but I’ve never seen any others for sale.  I shall keep looking though.

Although it might seem like I’m being a miserable sod, I’m honestly not.  I thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition, and if you’re into the fashions of the forties, then it certainly is worth seeing, but it is smaller than I expected and therefore I think the £10 entry is a little steep.   

Once we’d looked round the exhibition, we wandered around the rest of the museum, and although we had high hopes of a fabulous time, I’m truly sad to say that we were a little underwhelmed by the whole experience. 
Disappointingly, we all left feeling that parts of the museum were a little bit pants!  The Holocaust exhibition was informative and emotive, and I’m pleased I saw it through to the end, but the exhibitions around the atrium were sterile and poorly placed, there seemed to be no flow to it, no chronology.  The section on the wartime family is very good, although the WVRS badge on a supposedly wartime WVS uniform is disappointing.

We are used to the splendour of IWM Duxford, very much a family favourite, and hoped the London would be the same, but it just lacked something.  All four adults felt it, although no-one really wanted to admit to it first because I’d been so excited to take everyone down there.  We spent less than 2 hours in the museum and that just doesn’t seem right.  We thought that maybe we’d taken a wrong turn and missed an entire section, but we hadn’t, there just wasn’t that much to see. 

We had lunch in the sunshine in the gardens outside the museum, and rested our aching feet for a while before heading back along the South Bank towards the station.

The walk back to the station was not as fabulous as the morning walk had been.  By Victoria Gardens, just by the fair rides, a delightful light fingered member of society managed to relieve the Mr of his wallet!  Although we’d seen all the signs and posters, and were super careful, we didn’t think it would happen to us; we still don’t quite know how it did.  Luckily, he was reunited with his wallet, the offender having slung it into the gardens, but safe to say it came back minus all the money, but thankfully all his cards, driving licence, rail travel card etc, were untouched. 

It didn’t spoil the day, but it certainly put a damper on it and knocked the wind out of his sails.  The calm in the storm, my parents kindly treated us to dinner before we climbed wearily onto the train home. 

My dad hates London.  Apparently, he always has.  He worked there in the 1980s and thinks it’s a dirty, smelly place.  This experience hasn’t made him think any more favourably about the city, and I don’t think he’ll be joining us on further visits any time soon!