Photo Challenge – Above

Maybe I am taking the easy way out ( I still seem so busy and tired!) but here is my offering for ‘above’. photo-challenge1639-aboveIt is the cake I made for son on his recent 41st birthday.

For those who might be interested it is a coffee and walnut cake with chocolate butter icing decorated with walnuts and giant buttons and just one candle! Maybe forty is a good time to start counting again. Forty-one candles might be a fire hazard!

(I liked the look of the cake so much that I took a few pictures not realising it would do for this week!)

(And my son said it tasted good, though it might have been better if he hadn’t sounded so surprised! He normally tells me to buy shop cakes to save effort.)

A Crochet Shower Puff

I expect any of you who use a shower puff find that they pass from being like the one on the left Old and new puff comparisonto being like the one on the right all too quickly. And eventually fall apart all together. My attempts at re-folding and tying them only last for a short time.

So I was intrigued when browsing through ‘crochet’ posts in the reader to come across someone who had made a crochet one. She also gave a link to the place where she had found the pattern.

The post was and the pattern was at

So I decided I had to try.

(In respose to my comment, I was told that the puffs do take a while to dry and so -)

A brief digression here regarding my attempts at making dishcloths.

My first attempt at a dishcloth had been with what was sold as ‘dishcloth cotton’ and was ostensibly double knitting weight but which was actually closer to aran. First dishclothAs I thought this was a bit stiff and took a long time to dry, I tried again, this time with something called ‘craft cotton’ that was much more what I would have called double knitting weight. Dishcloth from craft cottonThese two dishcloths had been made using one of the textures from the book we used for the CAL, Square no. 52 from CALbecause I thought it’s slightly raised surface would be good for cleaning.

My son-in-law had asked for a similar dishcloth but in making one for him I decided to try a looser structure in the hope that it would dry more quickly. (Again with the craft cotton.) Dishcloth made for son-in-lawFinally I found some intriguing, though of course more expensive, cotton yarn that was so pretty that I decided to use it for a dishcloth. Dishcloth from Sirdar Beachcomber yarn

I am still using all three of my dishcloths but my favourite is the last one and though it is now white through being soaked in bleach from time to time, it is the quickest to dry and the most comfortable to use.

Because of the above, and because I had quite a bit, I decided to try to make a shower (or bath) puff using what was left of the craft cotton.

In the end I did not follow the pattern exactly.

The first row involved working 40 trs (US dcs) into a 4ch circle. There must be a way of doing this but it was not obvious to me. (It wasn’t a problem of getting stitches into the hole but of having reached the end of the circle after about 20.) So, to save time, I decided to start again and try an alternative method of getting to 40 by working 10dcs (US scs) into the circle, then 2dcs into each stitch on the next two rounds.

Having already strayed from the pattern, I decided (remembering my dishcloths) that instead of continuous lots of 3trs (US dcs) into each stitch, for the next three rows, I would alternate trebles and chains. working (tr,ch,tr,ch) into the first stitch (or gap on the following two rows) and then (tr, ch) into the next.

This gave a very solid ball, so I decided to try again using my pretty cotton.

I worked out that I probably didn’t have enough of this to make a whole one, so I worked one up based on a starting ring of only 30 stitches.

Here you can see the two shower puffs compared to a shop one. Three puff size comparisonI decided that although it was smaller, the pretty one felt the most comfortable in my average female (glove size 7) hands and so this would be the one that I would try using, maybe reusing the craft cotton for a floorcloth.

(I have to admit that when new the shop puff was about as firm as the cotton one.)

I also decided to try making one based on a starting point of 30 stitches out of some bamboo yarn I had. This was softer than the craft cotton and less jarring on my wrists as I made the stitches. Like with the chains between the trebles, I felt that a looser structure and so more air would mean quicker drying and maybe even more bubbles.

Unfortunately when I came to use the small pretty one I found that it produced very little bubbles.

I have two sorts of shower gel at present one of which I don’t like because it produces so much foam that the tray is full of it at the end of the shower. Using the cotton puff, the gel I like didn’t foam at all and the with the other one the foam was barely visible. I suppose the puff was no better than a flannel.

I am now not sure whether to try using one of the others or to do a rethink. Would one made exactly like the original pattern be any better I wonder?

I expect many of you know that I can get a bit obsessive about things and like to find the perfect way so there may be more about shower puffs when I have experimented a bit.

I have several others projects to work on but I was pleased to find a new crochet project to play around with.

Photo Challenge – Deep

Deep is a relative term but when is deep too deep?

Maybe this. photo-challenge1638-deepEspecially when you consider that this 0509-paddlingHad all too soon become (apologies for the bad photograph but it was taken quickly to capture the moment!) this. 0509-earlier-photoI had refused the offer to join them as with the wild waves I feared that rolling up trousers would not be enough to keep them dry and was not keen on wet feet with no towel to dry them.

A week in Weymouth – part 2

On Wednesday I had planned a trip to the Hardy monument as it is not open earlier in the week. Open means a cafe and the chance to go to the top. Otherwise it stands there out in the open.

Recent experience in walking in the countryside to well known locations or popular routes led me to believe that the off-road walking route would be well signposted. I did however have an ordinance survey map (borrowed from the library – Yay!) and a Silva compass (lent by James because I had forgotten to think of bringing my own) as backup.

When we got off the bus the road route was signposted – 2 miles and there was a sign to the right as we walked through the village of Portesham pointing to a walking route. That was the last we saw of specific signs however.

Faced with a choice of two paths I was glad I had both map and compass. However life is tough if you are thirteen and Louisa informed me that she couldn’t stand still while I worked out the right direction as her legs would seize up and then plowed ahead on the lower path which had been my first choice.

Suffice it to say that it was the wrong path and from then on I muddled along, trying to follow the map while walking, jollying Louisa along as it was very hot (hotter than I had expected), reversing direction when it was obvious we had made the wrong choice, rejoicing when we caught a glimpse of the monument, so in the end the expected two miles was nearer three and the hour I estimated it would take became ninety minutes.

So the first thing we did on arrival (apart from a photograph) Hardy monumentwas an ice cream for Louisa and some coffee for me. The cafe was a sort of caravan style similar to an ice cream van with a window at the side

I wish I had taken a photograph here but I was too intent on reviving myself.

I was offered not a mug but a cafetiere of coffee, served on a tray with a cup and saucer and jug of milk. The cafetiere had a crochet cosy in bright colours that had been made by the lady serving the coffee. (We discussed the making of cosies when I gave back the tray.) There were two chairs and a table beside the ‘cafe’ and I sat there and drank my coffee.

Then Louisa and I found a picnic table and ate our lunch (again no photograph) after which we went and sat in the shade of the monument and Louisa picked up her crochet again. I got up after a while and took some views. View from belowBetter views were to be had from the top however.

The cost of climbing the one hundred and twenty steps to the top of the monument was very reasonable so Louisa and I, when we felt sufficiently revived, opted to go up.

I was pleased to find that Louisa after her earlier moaning was now very happy that we had come and enjoyed the view.

Here is a view over towards the Chesil bank which seemed to follow us wherever we went. View from aboveAnd further round the road that wound further inland. Road going inlandWe opted to be safe rather than sorry for the return trip and followed the road back towards Portesham: Road back to villagevery much a country route but no footpath so frequent recourse to climbing the verge.

I had been expecting to meet up with a blogging friend on Thursday but personal circumstance meant that that was not possible so a re-think was necessary.

The weather forecast suggested rain so a return trip to Abbotsbury to visit St Catherine’s Chapel seemed a good option. And as it turned out we were glad of the shelter the chapel offered. Inside chapelLouisa was charmed by the large number of doves and pigeons inside the chapel. You can see two either side of the window both on nests. One seemed to have chicks and the other was obviously incubating hers.

I took a photograph of the roof from inside Chapel ceilingand then later of the turrets on the roof outside. TurretsAnd some views of the surrounding coutryside from the front of the chapel.

Here is one of the road snaking up the hill. View to the leftAnd here is the village of Abbotsbury. View of villageYou can see it was a misty moisty day!

I am loving Dorset, it is all very pretty.

Friday being the last day, a gentler pace seemed appropriate and so the main events were an afternoon boat trip and a meal out in the evening.

No photographs of the meal though it was very good but the boat we travelled on is in the front of this photograph Boatand here is one taken of the other side of the harbour Harbour the side where our appartment was, just one street behind.

Here is the Nothe Fort at the end of the harbour. Nothe fortWe then travelled along the Jurassic coast. I took a few photographs, as much as one can in a rocking boat, but although they are interesting as a record not many are worth showing.

Here is one where you can see something of the jurassic layersJurassic coastand here near the half way point where the dipping jurassic gives way to the creataceous. Cretaceous coastSaturday we were picked up and I had expected a quick trip home and a collapse but my daughter had decided to come too and we were offered the chance to go wherever we wished.

Having missed out on the Cerne Giant we made for the viewing point and took some photographs.

Here is the best I could do of the giant himself. The giantI was a little disappointed that he did not stand out more clearly.

Here we are myself, daughter and grandaughter with the giant in the background. Family photo

The weather looked a bit threatening but we decided we would go and take a look at Maiden Castle. We were still dithering as to whether to get out of the car and walk round the ramparts when the heavens opened and the thunder and lightening put paid to any such idea.

So we spent the rest of the day at the Dorset County museum and very interesting it was too.

Before I end I thought I would share our crochet with you. Yes I did do some crochet though not while out as I was trying to design a scarf pattern.

I had some yarn I had won in a giveaway. 0398-yarnAnd I decided to use the little extra ball to experiment to see if it was enough for a scarf.

I was thinking pineapple bookmark, 0105-pineapplebookmarksand angel bookmark 0374-3angelbookmarksas inspiration and I even found a picture of a scarf on the internet that seemed to combine these ideas and so, with much undoing and redoing I produced this. 07-02-my-patternLouisa on the other hand worked away doggedly at her scarf. I started her off with a couple of rows and then she did the rest. 07-01-louisas-scarfAlmost two feet and I was pleased to see that her confidence has grown to the point where if she found she had the wrong number of stitches at the end of a row she would undo and redo till it was correct.

Photo Challenge – Rich

My first thoughts on thinking of things associated with the word ‘rich’ were money and then food.

But as a Rainbow Junkie my first thought should, of course, have been colour!

Here is a photograph that I took recently in Chichester Cathedral of a window designed by Chagall. Photo Challenge1637-Rich(I have long been very fond of Chagall’s artwork and you can find out more HERE and HERE and even more on Google.)

Here is a description of the thought behind the painting and the elements that make it up. Chagall window descriptionand a closer look at the detail mentioned in the above. Chagall window closerHere is King David with his harp. Chagall window King David

A week in Weymouth – part 1

First I have to say that I have discovered that it is so much harder to think about taking photographs when you are responsible for a granddaughter. So the following will not be my normal steady progression of photographs, more an ‘as and when’ record.

I took a couple of photographs of the apartment we stayed in but decided that the best way to share that with you was to give a link to the page on the web where you can find the details. There is even a virtual tour of the rooms if anyone is interested.

There was a bus strike going on at the time which wasn’t ideal and when we turned up to catch a bus to Abbotsbury on the Sunday we found that it was not running. I therefore decided to take the bus to Portland to see the study centre and the Chesil Bank.

We missed the best bus stop and were surprised to find the bus heading down, way past the study centre to the main part of Portland. When we got off we were maybe as much as a mile from where we wanted to be.

It was an overcast windy day and Louisa soon complained of being cold so I gave her my ‘keep you cool when it is hot and warm when it is cold shirt’. Here you can see her wearing it. Louisa in my shirtI found the wind quite strong but warm.

She moaned and moaned all the way, until we found what I took to be a more sheltered spot from the quantity of grass growing there and stopped for our picnic. PicnicPictures of her eating a tomato were unfortunately not too good!

I was sitting with a view over Portland harbour and watched the various activities on the water. View from PortlandWe had climbed to the top of the Chesil Bank, though not for long as the going was tough on the pebbles and it was much too windy for Louisa. So much for my idea of exploring and looking for fossils. (I must go back sometime and explore the Chesil Bank for myself!)

Louisa’s aversion to the thought of the Chesil Bank was quite a joke between us for the rest of the week!

Here is a photograph I took, before we finished our picnic, of other people walking along the top. Chesil BankAfter our picnic we proceeded to the study centre and indulged ourselves with a hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows (Louisa also had a toasted teacake) before looking at the exhibits.

No more photographs on my part as trying to jolly along a moaning granddaughter had rather exhausted me.

The next day we tried again for the bus to Abbotsbury and were in luck.

This is probably the day where I managed to take the most photographs.

The prime reason for going to Abbotsbury was to visit the Swannery but there was also St. Catherines chapel nearby St Catherine's Chapeland I thought we might visit it before we returned to Weymouth.

Unfortunately a thirteen year old’s body clock is different to mine and about three o’clock when I was just recovering from a post lunch slump Louisa was finally tired and wanted to go and catch the bus.

We did go back on Thursday and that will be in part two.

We had a pleasant walk to the swannery and of course I had to take my usual path photograph PathAnd a swan one Swan preeningI would have liked to take a swan with a long arched neck but it seemed to be preening time.

However we did pass a lake with quite a number of swans. SwansNot all preening.

There were enclosures where families of swans had some space to themselves. Family of cygnetsOf course all the cyngnets were at least a few months old by now. Three cygnetsThey feed the swans at 1200 and 1600 and anyone who wants can help. So of course Louisa was keen to do so. Louisa feeding swansThough not all the swans were there, there was quite a crush. Swans en masseSome clever ones had made their way to where to food had been brought in wheel barrows before being dispensed. Unfortunately I was intent on watching Louisa and didn’t take a photograph of them.

After this we had our picnic near the entrance to the maze. Another picnicCarrot and lettuce added to the tomato/cucumber and fruit today!

Then we tried the maze.

For maze afficionados there are several closed paths within the maze so neither the left-hand or right-hand rule work. (Louisa and I took one each.) However we found our way to the centre of the maze eventually, but no photographs, and then wandered further afield around what is quite a large site discovering how to trap ducks!

On our way back we passed a tent advertising “Wessex Bird of Prey Rescue” but none of my photographs of the rather subdued birds were worth sharing.

We then stopped at the cafe near the entrance and had a delicious ice cream. I had ‘lemon delight’ and Louisa ‘salted caramel’. Not sure I fancy the idea of salted caramel but it was Louisa’s flavour of choice this holiday.

Before we left I just had to take a quick photograph of a red admiral on a nearby buddleia. ButterflyI underestimated the time to get back to the bus stop so we just missed the bus and had an hour to wait. Louisa busied herself with her crochet while I just sat and relaxed.

I did see some geese however that came really close.Abbotsbury GeeseI’m sure that one is looking at us and maybe the one on the right out of the corner of it’s eye.

Just before the bus came I decided to take a view down the street as the cottages were so attractive. Abbotsbury cottages

Tuesday looked to be the hottest day of the week, though Wednesday was almost as hot, so it seemed a good day to try the beach.

Although the beach was very crowded it seemed more spacious and less oppressive than the one at Muddeford that I showed you before.

I took my camera but anxiety about getting sand in it and anxiety about Louisa away in the water meant that I took very few photographs.

Just a couple of the sea. Weymouth beachand Weymouth beachand neither is Louisa. There were a lot of people between me and the sea so it was hard to see her when I was looking after our stuff and she was in the water.

(And I did get in a couple of swims!)

There was a point when the seagulls were continually whirling overhead and I tried to get a few photographs.

This one is just to give you the idea. SeagullsThey were too far away and too fast to get a decent photograph.

The rest of our holiday, maybe next week.

Photo Challenge – Courage

After being away didn’t know how I was going to find something to photograph to show ‘courage’ unless it was the beer!

However I had been planning to go to Chichester and there I went to the cathedral and took this photograph. Photo Challenge1636 -courageIts part of an exhibition called “Shadows of the Wanderer” and the central figures are inspired by the Aeneid where Aeneas carries his father on his back when escaping from the destruction of Troy.

I took quite a few more photographs in Chichester and have posts to prepare about this and my holiday in Weymouth but having been struck down by a virus on Friday, I am not sure if I will get one of them out this week.

Monthly Montage – August

This month there have been five topics for the Photo Challenge: Water, Summer, Street, River and Roof. I have also shared photographs of my garden: before during and after the paving was laid and a few photographs of changes I have made since.August montageHowever there has been some knitting and crochet. I finished my crochet cushion cover and shared pictures of both sides and I also finished a soft red alpaca knitted scarf which I gave to my daughter

Birthday scarf

A while ago I was given two 50g balls of red alpaca 4ply wool by a friend as she didn’t have a use for it. What to make which that quantity? I decided that as alpaca is so soft and cuddly that I would make a scarf.

Now originally my plan had been to make it for myself but with someone’s birthday coming up, someone who’s colour is red I decided that it would be a birthday gift.

To give you an idea of the yarn here is what I have left. 0502-Free yarnI think this is enough to make a round the neck cowl for myself! which will keep it safe from the velcro on my coat!

I actually started the scarf a while ago and got about this far. 0502-First tryBut although I liked the rippled edge, I didn’t like the way it had developed an inverted ridge a few inches in. Obviously my bad knitting but I decided to put it aside for a while and maybe try again later.

After the garden had been done, having finished my cushion cover I returned to the scarf and decided to try another simpler pattern. Something easy as I was feeling rather tired.

And so I have been working on it for the last couple of weeks until it reached about 6ft (180cm).

Here it is just off the needles. 0502-Just off the needlesRather naively I had thought that as all the stitches were knit ones rather than purl (thinking garter stitch) that it would lie flat and have no right or wrong side!

Every other row was just knit and that seemed to create what looked like a right side. 0502-Right sideThe alternate rows consisted of yarn overs and k2togs which seemed to give more of a wrong side look. 0502-Wrong sideAnd the scarf tended to curl with the ‘right side’ on the outside!

I suppose there are those who would have blocked it but I was always taught to iron wool knitted items under a damp cloth which is what I did and produced this. 0502-After ironingNot that I think in wear that it will stay flat.

However I once had a very lovely emerald green long holey cottony scarf and that curled up but was none the worse for it.