Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Work-in-Progress Wednesday #1

Hello Everybody,

Well, I promised myself that I'd participate in Work-in-Progress (WIP) Wednesdays as per the Tami's Amis Blog, so here goes!

I've got lots of unfinished 'in-progress' things on the go at the moment. I've been bit slow on the old knitting and crocheting of late, but I'm trying to get back into the swing of things. Hopefully now it's getting colder and the nights are drawing in I'll feel more like doing yarny things. 

Anyway, the WIP that I would like to tell you about this week is my Baktus. This is a popular pattern on Ravelry, but I hadn't really heard of it until a friend at my knitting group was learning to knit and decided to make one. I thought this was the perfect, quick and easy project for my train journeys to and from work etc. However, several months later (I started 28th January!) I am not even halfway through. I thought posting about it on here might guilt-trip me into trying harder to complete it. Although it is very simple, I tend to talk a lot whilst knitting (actually, I talk a lot in general) and I keep on losing count on which row I am on. Yes, I know - I could write it down or use some sort of nifty device, but I simply cannot be bothered. So, the increases have happened on random rows, there are dropped stitches and purls (it's garter stitch). But, despite all this, I still quite like it.

Why do I like it? I think it's actually the yarn that I like. It's Araucania Ranco Multy in colour way number 302. I love the combination of blues and purples, my favourite colours. It's a 4-ply yarn, 75% wool and 25% nylon, which I bought in June 2010. I've been struggling to find the right project for it ever since. I tried to crochet a shawl with it, but it really didn't complement the dye pattern. I'm much happier with it being knitted up.

There is light at the end of the tunnel though! The pattern calls for you to knit up half increasing, then start to decrease. It's a 100g ball at there's 55g left so nearly halfway. I'm excited to start doing the decreases, wish me luck - maybe I'll be finished by the time the properly cold weather starts, maybe not.

Also on this WIP Wednesday I have taken my first peek at an old Singer sewing machine that was given to me by my great aunt, but I'll tell you more about that later in the week. Can't have too much excitement in one day! ;-)

Thistle Girl x

Monday, 29 August 2011

Making Monday #1

Hello Everybody,

Today is Monday, and as it's a Bank Holiday and I'm not at work, I thought I'd have a go at this Making Monday thing. So, this is just a brief post to let you know what I've been up to. 

I've actually been making lots today, oil painting, sewing, porcelain painting, mess. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) I am unable to show you any of those things as they are either still works in progress, complete fails or presents, but I will one day (maybe not for the fails)!

In the meanwhile, I decided to clean out my fridge and discovered that I had a load of chocolate and mangoes that needed using up. I googled and browsed a few blogs looking for an inspirational recipe, but found none to my liking. So, I decided to CREATE! What followed were some strange child-like concoctions coupled with a silicon ice-cube tray.

I blended the mangoes with some random items, such as chilli, hazelnuts, porridge oats, sugar and a vanilla pod. Then I wanted to make it more vanillary but had ran out of vanilla essence so added that vanilla syrup stuff Italians (and Staffordians it would seem) put in their coffee. It then tasted a little like Play-Doh so I added some more sugar to make it taste better! I just melted the chocolate. Then, I poured it into the ice-cube mould and put it in the freezer. A couple of hours later- ta-dah - Chocolate Mango Brains!

Hope you enjoyed my first ever Making Monday, can't promise there'll be any more but I will try. Does it count if I make it at the weekend and blog on Monday???

Check out the comments on Natalie's Blog for links to what other people have been Making this Monday. 

Thistle Girl x

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Scribbles and Green Stuff

Hello Everybody,

Today has been an odd day, no real structure! Got lots done but still lots to do. Hopefully, one day I will have a clean and tidy house (I live in hope).

I was inspired (via Pinterest) by this blog, to create some crayon art. Cheap and simple, I thought. So, when I saw a little diddy canvas in my local supermarket for 99p, I couldn't resist. It's only very small, but I thought it would be good to try it out before wasting time and money on making a larger one. I already had some cheap wax crayons in from the bargain store.

So, I set to work and created. First of all, I cut up some crayons to fit the canvas. I chose blues and purples as I wanted to put something in my beachy room. I floated the papers off the crayons by putting them in a bowl of warmish water for a bit. Then, I attached the crayons to the canvas using a combination of double-sided sticky tape and tacky glue. I left them overnight to set. This morning I took to them with a hairdryer. Other blogs have used heat guns, but since I don't have one and the blog I referred to earlier used a hairdryer successfully, I thought this would be my best option. So, I laid out the canvas on some paper and attacked it with the hairdryer (my brand new hairdryer I should add, my old one broke yesterday!). This was much easier said than done. I had to get close to heat the crayons but even on my hairdryer's lowest setting the wax was blowing everywhere. The wax seemed quite watery and the different colours melted very unevenly, but that could be something to do with the fact that they were unbranded! Well, I finished it. It's OK, I quite like it and all its imperfections. Not quite what I was going for, but hey-ho.

So, that was that. I then decided to sort out my tomatoes. I'm growing a combination of tomatillos, hundreds and thousands and stripy tomatoes in a little plastic covered grow house. Unfortunately, tens if not hundreds of caterpillars (I googled them, they're the Bright-Line Brown-Eye moth variety) have moved in and are eating them. Leaves, stems, fruit - the lot. I decided that I needed to get tough and sort it out, otherwise I will have been growing them for months for nothing! I had a big cull, the caterpillars are no more and the plants have been rid of all their holey leaves. I also moved them to somewhere slightly more sunny, to try and ripen them up. Unfortunately, I also knocked some off whilst re-adjusting their living quarters so I'm trying to ripen them indoors!

And here are the ones with caterpillar damage. Apparently, they are also known as the tomato caterpillar- I can see why!

But don't worry, there are still a few juicy ones left - I hope these are going to turn into stripy ones!

Remember I said that I collected some moss from my parents' house yesterday? Well, I spent some of the afternoon busying myself with a project using some of the moss that you may well see here in a few months. I also used it to transplant onto a stepping stone. I've got some left, so I might make some moss juice and do some painting tomorrow! I'm not sure whether the moss will work transplanted onto the 'stone' as it's man-made, not natural, and I'm not sure how porous it is. Still, worth a shot!

Then I was dirty, so I had a bath. My friends at work gave me a Baby Bot bath bomb, it was nice.

Here's Baby Bot Before:

And after- Baby Bot is no more!

Night everyone,

Thistle Girl x

Summer Rain

Hello Everybody,

Today I have spent the afternoon visiting my lovely parents, who live on the other side of Cannock Chase. For those of you not in the know, the Chase is mainly a forested area in Staffordshire, measuring about 26 square miles. It's a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and there are lots of deer and other wildlife. It has lots of weird things there such as glacial boulders, war memorials, and even tales of dangerous beasts!!! 

This is a photo that I took back in winter. I haven't really been on the Chase in a while, although I really should. Guess it's true that you don't appreciate the things that are on your doorstep.

Anyway, at my parents' house there was torrential rain for much of the day but me and my Mum did manage to spend some time in the garden, where we did some hazelnut picking. Unfortunately the pesky squirrels had got to most of them, but there were still a few left for us.

Whilst I was there, I acquired an old hanging basket for an upcoming project and some moss (for a different project). Since reading Rachael's Squiggly Rainbow blogpost about creating art with moss, I've been yearning to create my own mossy masterpiece. Sadly, I don't really have anywhere suitable in the garden to paint a mossy picture. I don't want to ruin my housebricks (they're south facing at the back anyway so would probably get too hot) and I'm worried that my fence will rot. So, I thought maybe I could do some designs on terracotta pots and maybe on my patio stones. We'll see. 

As the rain resulted in us having to venture inside and abandon the gardening, I decided to scan in some old photographs that my Great Aunt and Uncle had given us a few weeks before. There were hundreds of splendid old black and white photos, of activities ranging from gardening to sunbathing (mostly all whilst very poshly dressed!!!). I'm collecting some old seaside snaps and I'm planning to do something with them to decorate my 'beach-themed' spare bedroom. 

This is just a quick montage of various relatives enjoying themselves on the beach. The little girl at the bottom is my Mum! I love how they all look so happy and are enjoying and appreciating England. These days we all seem so desperate to go abroad, it's a bit sad. I think most of the shots are from Cornwall, Devon, Isle of Wight and Kent beaches. 

Well, that's all I've got to say for now. It's the late August Bank Holiday weekend here in England (and Wales, not sure about Scotland/NI!!!), so that means more RAIN. Still, it's good for the garden (yes, I'm getting old).

Thistle Girl x

Tuesday, 23 August 2011


Hello Everybody,

In all the excitement of starting a new blog, I forgot to introduce you to someone very important in my life. Please meet... Starry Mug. 

He has lived with me for around 7 years now and is a very good mug. Keeps the heat in, but not so much that the drink stays too hot! And obviously, he's decorated in lots of pretty multicoloured stars. He holds lots of tea and coffee and is the main cause for me needing the loo nearly every morning on the train. His favourite day is Sunday, when he gets filled with steaming hot coffee from the Coffee Machine and the frothy milk gets a random cocoa picture (usually unrecognisable but I made a special effort for this photo (it's a star, btw!)) sprinkled on top. 

Starry once had a friend called Spotty, who was like him but slimmer and taller. Unfortunately, due to poor  workmanship (by a British company who shall remain nameless) he split when I added hot water (awesome design!). He now has the important duty of holding my knitting needles. Don't worry though, Starry still has a friend - Stripey! Also taller and slimmer, but they don't get on too well :-(

Anyway, that's Starry Mug!

Thistle Girl x

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Hello World!

Hello Everybody,

As you may have guessed I have started a new blog, so just thought I'd write a quick post to introduce myself. 

I am a born and bred (apart from a brief detour to Wales) Staffordshire Lass, who is still the right side of 30 but not for much longer! I live on the outskirts of a town in Staffordshire, Central England. 

This is where I live:

I hope to blog about the good things in life and concentrate on things that are fun and make me happy.

So, my blog will sometimes be about where I live: Thistle House and sometimes about Thistle Garden. I will probably at some point ramble on about my hobbies - including knitting and crochet! I can't guarantee I'll have anything interesting to say, but maybe you will stop by and say hello once in a while!

Anyway, that's all I've got to say for now.

Thistle Girl x