Wednesday, February 27, 2013

An adventure in France

Bonjour from France!
I'm in Toulouse right now. This was a really, really last minute trip. My husband had to come here on business and only got confirmation about the trip on Monday afternoon to travel the next morning.
Luckily, I was able to come with him this time :) It's a really nice place and very easy to move around on foot so I'm discovering it bit by bit. I've been walking all day, so I've come back to the hotel to sit down for a bit and I couldn't wait to share some of my photos with you!
It snowed at the weekend here and when we arrived there was a little bit of snow left:
That was my first sight of snow so far this Winter!
Before we caught the plane we enjoyed a breakfast of champions at the airport....
...McDonalds! It was the first time in my life that I had breakfast at McDonalds. As unhealthy as that is, it was a lovely way to start to the day :)
Yesterday we did some sightseeing. This is the Pont Neuf:
It's a beautiful bridge that was opened in 1659 and crosses the Garonne River which runs right through the centre of Toulouse.
After walking around, we stopped for lunch at a place called L'entrecote
My husband has visited here before and couldn't wait to take me. I wasn't disappointed either!
It's the first restaurant I have ever been to where there isn't a menu, they have just one started and one main course there.
They take you to your table, ask you what you want to drink and how you like your meat cooked and that's it!
The first course is salad with walnuts and a vingrette:
And the main course is steak with a sauce and fries.

The photo really doesn't do it justice because the food was amazing!
It was all delicious and cooked to perfection. We don't normally drink alcohol but we had some Bordeaux wine to accompany the steak and that was delicious too.
Now, I've saved the best until last. When I found out I was coming to Toulouse, the first thing I did was search for...yarn shops! I know, I know, I should have read tour guides and things like that, but I've got my priorities (or vices maybe?) in order!
I did stop and wonder if my French was good enough to go yarn shopping, but I'm fairly sure I could buy yarn in any language :)
I read about a shop called La droguerie which is close to the main square and sounded lovely.
I found it this morning and I loved it! It was like an Aladdin's cave of yarn. There were huge skeins of yarn in all colours hanging on the walls. All of the yarns are mainly natural fibres (wool, alpaca, mohair) and I decided to have 3 different pink tones of 100% wool.
Something lovely here is that you ask for the yarn that you want and then the sales assistant winds it into balls with a swift and skein winder in front of you!
It really was lovely to be in such a nice shop with so many beautiful things and to see the yarn that I had chosen be wound into  balls.
I also bought this button:
The colours in the photos don't show it but the button perfectly matches one of the colours of yarn and I'm planning on making myself a cowl and decorating  it with the button as my reminder of Toulouse :)
I'll post more photos of our trip soon!
Have a lovely Wednesday.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Wips and future wips

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a lovely weekend and got lots of crafting done :)
This weekend I started another shawl:
I'm using two cones of merino silk lace weight yarn from Colourmart and what I've done so far looks like a little heart:
I'm still working on the silk tranquility shawl and it's really coming along well now. Yesterday afternoon we watched a movie and I worked on it for 2 hours straight...
...I've only got a few more repeats of the main body to do and then I'll be moving on to the lace border.
I think it's only going to take one of the two cones of yarn so I'm already planning on what I can used the second cone for...
...It's like an illness really, I nearly finish one project but I already have a long list of ones I want to do next!
I saw a nice little crochet magazine at the weekend and I couldn't resist it. It's not very often that I find a magazine with more than one pattern I want to follow but this one has a few:
I bought it to make this purple stole. It's a stole, beret and glove set. I might end up making the complete set :) 
I love this cowl and hat, the colours are right up my street too!
 The yarn is called Darling and is made by Katia. The magazine is the Spanish translation of a German magazine called Diana. Katia is a Spanish yarn company and you can always find a Katia selection in any yarn store here so I thought it was funny that the yarn stores they listed for this particular yarn were all in Germany!
The other pattern I particularly liked was this one:
It is similar to the beautiful star burst grannies that I have seen on many blogs recently.
All for 2.50€ (around 2.19 pounds)!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Granny....bath mat!

I've finally finished the never-ending granny square project! I started this back at the beginning of December and there's no reason for it have taken 3 months to finish.
Anyway, the grannies have decided to be a....
...bath mat!
I was originally going to make this into a blanket but I was running out of the yellow yarn so I decided it would be perfect as a bath mat. It's 100% cotton so I'm hoping it will be comfy to stand on and won't slip too much.
I'm definitely considering this project as a success because even my husband likes it :)
There are 24 grannies in total. I sewed them together length ways using slip stitches and width ways single crochet to give a slightly raised, 3D effect. The border is reverse single crochet. The reverse single crochet is a really simple stitch once you get the hang of it and creates an interesting corded edge.
The ends were a nightmare to weave in - there were so many! It had been sitting in my wip bag for so long mainly because I wanted to avoid all of the sewing in of ends!
I've got two and a bit balls of the pink cotton left over (about 120g) so I think I'm going to try and make a summer bag with that.
I really am getting on with my stash busting now!


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Stash busting

 After my stash busting fail a couple of weeks ago where I ran out of yarn for a baby dress, my mum came to the rescue and went to the shop I got the yarn from earlier this year when I was visiting England, bought another ball of it and posted it to me.
It arrived on Monday and I only had a little bit left to do and I finished it in an hour yesterday evening:
I'm running down my button stash at the moment too and these little lemon buttons were a great match for the yarn:
Also included in the package with the yarn were these goodies:
I've always fancied having a hook gauge and the hook sizes printed on my KnitPro hooks are starting to wear off (through over use!) so now I can double check when in doubt.
The hat I blogged about here should have had a pompom attached to it but my attempts didn't go too well so I left the hat pompomless. Well, I had a go with the new pompom set and look:
I'm so pleased with that hat now it's got that finishing touch :)
And look how healthy we were the other night...
...we ate the bargain fruit from the other day and a colourful salad! If only we did that every day :)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Crochet and cross stitch

Hello everyone!
I saw a quote online last week that said that the best part of Valentine's days was half price chocolates on the 15th. Well, I went to the supermarket hoping for some chocolate bargains :) but I found something even healthier! Strawberries and raspberries in cute heart shaped packets:
And they only cost 50 cents a piece (around 43 pence)! We bought 5 packs in total. Better to have a splurge on fruit than on chocolate though, isn't it? :)
I've been busy trying to use up bits and pieces of my stash too and have made a twirly flower:

I don't know what it's going to be used for but while I decide, it's just sitting looking pretty on my desk :)
This weekend I've been working on my silk shawl too and it's really starting to grow now.
It currently measures 47 cm wide and 30 cm long.
The stitches are looking really pretty so far and I think this is going to be one of those projects that really becomes beautiful after blocking.
Another wip I've started is this cross stitch:
The kit is called Kitty Litter and it's made by Dimensions Crafts. It's a quite a big kit measuring 18 x 9 inches / 46 by 23 cm. I've not done any cross stitch since I was a teenager but after seeing so many beautiful things made with cross stitch on other craft blogs I've felt really inspired to give it a go again.
I ordered the kit online last week and it arrived yesterday and as soon as I had the chance I started!

 It's very slow going but I think that is because I'm out of practice. One good thing, I don't know if it is just this kit manufacturer or more recent cross stitch kits in general, is that the threads came already placed in order on a thread organiser. That really saved me a lot of time - I used to hate the part of cross stitch that involved sorting out all the different colour threads!

Friday, February 15, 2013

The day after

How was your Valentine's day? I hope you all had a lovely time :) There were so many love-filled posts in blog-land yesterday. They were lovely to read - even better than Christmas! And hearts everywhere :) But I also read so many times yesterday about how people think that Valentine's Day is too commercial and for that reason they are against it, but like I said yesterday I think it is the perfect day to celebrate love in all of it's beautiful forms. Love is great and any reason to show it is good enough for me :)

Anyway, I've made a start on the Tranquility shawl....
These are the first 6 rows and now it's just a 2 repeat all the way through to the lace edge. It's a really simple pattern and now it is going be the same rows over and over I think this is going to be a great project to pick up and put down whenever I get a few minutes spare.
I've been making bread too!
I got a bread maker a couple of years ago for my birthday and it is one of the best kitchen appliances I've ever had. It is so easy to make yummy things with it! To make bread all you need to do is weigh the flour, put in a teaspoon of salt, a packet of yeast and some cold water then press a button and wait.
This time I used a seeded loaf flour mix and it is full of all kinds of seeds:

 It's almost a meal in itself. And the smell of freshly baked bread in the kitchen is delicious :)
Yesterday I wanted to share a photo of my calendar for Valentine's day and completely forgot! Here it is:

Hearts, cats and yarn -  isn't that a lovely mix?!

Have a happy, crafty weekend!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love, hearts, roses

Happy Valentine's day! I hope everyone is having a great day with their loved ones.
I think today is a great day to celebrate love with everyone, not just in the romantic way.
I don't normally celebrate valentine's day much with my husband but this year he got me a red rose and some chocolates! They were a lovely surprise. Here is the rose with my crochet hearts from the other day. The hearts are still hanging on the corner of our tv :)
Here was my valentine's project from last year:
I haven't worn them since last Valentine's day so it's nice to get them out of my earring tin and see them again.
Today on Jill's blog I've seen that my square for the beautiful blogger blanket has arrived. It made it just in time! I'm really looking forward to seeing the finished blanket.
And my next stash busting idea is for a shawl. I want to use up this yarn:

It is a beautiful dk, silk yarn which I bought at colourmart on a visit there. This yarn is amazing, a real luxury. I got it at a very good price because there was only a little left over but I've already got one shawl out of it and I'm hoping to make another one.
The Tranquility Shawl is the pattern that I think I'm going to use:
It is a free pattern on the drops website (just click on the name of the shawl above and you'll go straight to the pattern). I love drops designs and yarns!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Tulips in books

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a great weekend :)
Last week I saw a really cute blog post about a tulip motif pattern. My blogger reader isn't working today and I can't find the blog where I found the link to this pattern :( But the pattern is available for free download on the Red Heart website! The pattern is for a throw but I just used the tulip idea and made a bookmark.
After making the main bookmark I reattached the yarn and made a chain:
This way the bookmark can be used in smaller, paperback books and larger, hardback books. The main body of the bookmark can be put inside the book and the chain on the outside or vice versa.
I really didn't fancy weaving in lots of ends so I carried the yarn through the work as I was crocheting, so in the end I only had to weave in 6 ends!
Other than crocheting, this weekend we went walking around Madrid and saw that the old municipal history museum has been reopened. It had been covered up for ages and is finally open and on show again. The facade is so pretty:
There were some really pretty sunsets this weekend too.
The photo isn't great, but it was such a pretty afternoon!
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