Sunday, August 7, 2011

Playing hooky

So much to do and so little time in which to do it!

Several weeks ago I attended the first ever ARUK Volunteers' Day in London where I got to meet like-minded people whose lives have been touched by dementia and who want to raise money to help defeat it.

It was lovely to meet some of the new team at ARUK because, as they are based in Cambridge, most of our contact is either by phone or email.

Training for the Liverpool marathon is well underway now and I seem to be adapting to the speed sessions in my schedule. I still find it strange though to be doing less miles.

My cross-training, which I do 3 times a week, alternates between the static bike, rowing machine and mini trampoline plus I've got the last of 6 sessions of swimming training tomorrow. I hadn't swum for over 30 years and when I've started this course I remembered why - I'm not very good and I really don't enjoy it! Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time and perhaps I'll try harder and start using as a cardio-vascular workout. At least it will burn a few more calories which can't be bad. In truth, as the weeks went by, I have really started to feel better about it and my freestyle and backstroke are quite good.

Now for some woolly loveliness.

I'd been rummaging in my collection of wools and realised I had far too many odd balls of double knitting wool.

Not that that's always a bad thing as they are useful for stripey scarves or mittens but I have enough of those already.

So I've started crocheting some granny squares for a generously sized lap blanket. I'm probably about 1/2 way through them I would guess. They are great for hooking whilst watching TV or sitting in the garden watching the sun set whilst quaffing a glass of wine.

My main focus at the moment is to get out into the front garden and get it cleared and planted. This has been thwarted on several occasions because as soon as I was able to make a start the rain's arrived and made the clay too heavy to dig. Then the very hot phase came and it was too hot for planting! Sod's Law in action again.

As I haven't been knitting at the moment I thought I'd throw in this photo taken in Folkestone. The shop had been decorated with knitted and crocheted flowers as part of the Folkestone Triennial exhibition.

They looked amazing and I chuckled when a lady passed by as I was taking the photo as she hadn't realised they were knitted and thought they were plastic!

The patchwork was finished weeks ago.

Here it is all joined together waiting for a decision on any additional highlighting stitches.

I felt that the outer blue and cream hexagons needed to be edged so I outlined them in blue herringbone stitch.

Then I did the same around the centre of the flower but this time used green to compliment the red hexagon.

I attached some medium weight iron-on interfacing to the back as some of the fabrics I used are prone to fraying.

It's also a good trick to give things extra body.

Of course I couldn't sew it together straight away as I'd run out of piping cord!

Whilst waiting I was able to cut lots of bias strips out of dark blue fabric as a contrast against the cream hexagons around the edge.

Anyway, now it's finished I'm rather pleased with the result.

This beautiful little cactus has been flowering his socks off for weeks now.

I love cacti and admire the way that they just look plain for most of the year and then all of a sudden they explode with this vivid colour.

The other thing I love about it is that it matches the dining-room curtains beautifully!

The other plant I have to share is this lovely cane begonia.

It is grown as a foliage plant as it has wonderfully angel-wing type leaves spotted with silver.

However, every so often it produces a massive bunch of flowers and this time they look amazing.

Here they are in a close-up. Aren't they splendid?

I've always had a soft spot for foliage begonias and I have about 10 different varieties at the moment.

All of them have memories of either people or places.

Last but certainly not least is my latest shell project.

I had a tatty repro type picture frame that I'd bought in a charity shop and I decided I wanted to decorate it with shells.

It was a ghastly orangey mahogany colour with varnish over the top so the first thing I had to do was give it a couple of coats of paint to hide it.

Then I spent ages playing around with my shells. When I was happy with the arrangement I attached them to the frame, gradually adding more until it felt just right.

I added the bits of driftwood for extra interest.

I was going to do a bargello pattern as a picture and put it behind glass but then I came across this sweet little stone seahorse.

Mike suggested he could be recessed within the frame and stand out in relief so he cut me a new piece of board for the backing.

I've been playing around with different ideas for the background - one of which was to mosaic it with mirrors but I think I'm going to do a colour wash in bright blues which is the accent colour in our bathroom where it is going to live.

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