Tuesday, 30 December 2014

A Quick Hello and Resolutions

A belated Merry Christmas to all :) I hope everyone has had a lovely Christmas time, I'm looking forward to a bloggy catchup to see what you've all been up to! We've had a lovely Christmas, peaceful but lovely. We had some time with my family and then went to visit Chris's family and have enjoyed our time catching up and hanging out with various family members, Christmas always has been and always will be about family for me. Lots of lovely presents as well, we've been spoilt! Several were crafty related of course which I will share at some point.

I didn't manage to photograph all of my Christmas makes in the end as I was rather short on time before wrapping them up but I will aim to in the future, I was particularly pleased with the hot-water bottle cover I made my Mum (so fiddly - I've already resolved not to make another one for a while!) I did however manage to make one more thing over the holiday, a new hat for C. He wanted a thick comfy hat so I used Drops Andes (one of the best yarns I've ever used, so soft and so nice to work with) and based it on this pattern here. It's quite slouchy and he is rather pleased with it

 Waiting on our doorstep when we got back was a rather exciting parcel from deramores with yarn for new year projects

This little lot is going straight to Mum who has promised me a new jumper, she is just finishing off a cardigan at the moment for me, much to Dad's disdain (she has had a jumper on the needles intended for him for the last 15 years, she keeps interrupting it to make me stuff!)

 And this little lot is going to be my first item of clothing I crochet! Watch this space.... :) The whole lot of yarn was £26, not bad for two items of clothing!

And before I go I just wanted to write down my New Years Resolutions....

1. Read more for pleasure: I think I'm going to integrate this into blogging, but I intend to read at least two books a month, Reading relaxes me and distracts me most wonderfully when I need a break.

2. Finish things. I am great at starting projects/PhDs/clearing out and just never quite finishing them. I am going to try and have less things on the go and be more productive. First on the list is obviously my thesis, but I also need to finish that blanket for the camper I've been promising C for nearly a year now! ... and many other things

3. Stop worrying about things I can't change. C came up with this one. I am a terrible worrier, I hate it about myself yet just seem to end up doing it. 2015 will see a less worried me! (I hope)

4. Stop Biting My Nails. This has been on the list for the last 20 years, but hey maybe this time?!

5. Enjoy the present. Linked very much to the last one...

6. Be more tidy. I seem to exist in perpetual clutter. I want to have a good clear out, sort out and tidy up so home is more of a relaxing place to be. I think it will help me work more effectively at home, as well as keep on top of the housework!

Are you making New Years Resolutions this year? Wishing everyone a very happy 2015, full of happiness, peace and good health.

Until next time,


Sunday, 21 December 2014

Checking In: December

Making : A garland of crochet stars to add to my parents' Christmas decoration collection

Cooking : Not much recently, I've been rather spoilt by C who is a wonderful chef

Drinking : Mulled wine, just one of my many favourite Christmas smells and tastes

Reading: Finally something for pleasure, Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan - it's very gripping! I'm thinking about starting book review blog posts next year as a way to keep up the reading, so maybe watch this space for more info :)

Wanting: To finish editing a certain chapter of my thesis before Xmas

Looking: At jobs, or starting to, I need motivation to finish this thing

Playing: Cheesy Christmas music non-stop

Deciding: What to wear for a Christmas meal with friends 

Wishing: Everyone a very peaceful and content holiday season

Waiting: For Christmas :)

Wondering: What will 2015 bring?

Loving: These crochet Christmas baubles

Watching: The Good Wife, actually a really enjoyable TV series

Smelling: My lovely Yankee Candle 'Christmas Eve' it's beautifully festive

Wearing: My Christmas Jumper. It's got a big robin and balls of snow on it

Feeling: Cold - it's gone rather chilly here again

Admiring: These stars, so much to admire, so little time ;)

Sorting: and wrapping Christmas presents

Buying: Some sneaky wool for new years projects... shhh...

Opening: A nice bottle of wine bought in Oz last year, happy memories :) 

Feeling: A little bit more festive than last week :)

Snacking: Mince Pies and Panettone 

Coveting: An open log fire

Hearing: Michael Buble's Christmas album

Photos from a lovely afternoon at Barnsdale Gardens 

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Christmas Card Swap and a Lovely Weekend

About a month ago Amy amazingly organised a Christmas card swap, which I signed up for straightaway! I was delighted to be paired with the lovely Lil who has a really gorgeous blog you should definitely visit, House With Hearts. Above you can see the wonderful card I received from Lil, who is very talented. Isn't it gorgeous! The snowman is so cool, and I love the ribbon and button detail, Lil said she didn't have a crochet pattern for the snowman but made it up so I am in absolute awe! I'm going to work out a way to frame him so he becomes a permanent part of our decorations :)

Thank you Lil, I love him!!

This weekend my lovely Mother-in-Law came to visit and we had a wonderful relaxing weekend. Last night we watched a film, she knitted, I crocheted, we both nattered and C played football manager... all happy campers! Today we went on a little outing to a National Trust property in nearby Northamptonshire, Lyveden New Bield. It's an unfinished Elizabethan garden lodge, built by Sir Thomas Tresham who as a Catholic was under close surveillance in Elizabethan times, fined for his faith and often imprisoned. He died heavily in debt and when he died the workmen working on the lodge simply downed their tools and left. It's in a really isolated spot and remained pretty much untouched until the National Trust took it over in the 1920s. I just wanted to share some pictures with you as it is quite simply stunning.

The graffiti you can see was left from the eighteenth century onwards, which I think is wonderful!

In other news this week... I made some mince pies (made me very popular)

I also made another flannel, these two are for my mother-in-law and sister-in-law for Christmas, I bought some nice handmade soap to go with them

And I've got some more Christmas makes finished, more on that in another post :)

Thank you for all of the lovely comments on my first 'Five on Friday' post, it was wonderful writing it and wonderful reading the comments. Have a lovely week whereever you may be :)

Until next time


Friday, 12 December 2014

Five on Friday

I'm very pleased to be writing my first 'Five on Friday' post this week. The lovely Amy has been writing these posts for a while now, which I have always enjoyed reading, and when she asked whether anyone else wanted to join her I jumped at the chance! There is now a group of us joining in each week with Amy, so every second Friday each month I will be contributing. Every Friday Amy takes time to share 5 things she enjoys with her readers. It's such a lovely idea to link up, a great way to find new blogs and read lots of varied posts - the five things can literally be anything!! Do check out the other bloggers joining in this week: links at the end :)

So what am I going to choose for my first five?


Well I thought there had to be a bit of a Christmas theme, given that it is what is keeping me cheerful at the moment! I've decided to be a bit indulgent and share five happy Christmas memories with you...

1. The first snow in Goerlitz, Germany. December 2008

I was incredibly lucky and had a 'year abroad' as part of my undergraduate degree. I was a language assistant in a primary school, and got sent all the way to the German-Polish border - Goerlitz is actually half German half Polish! (The Polish half is called Zgorgelec) An amazing year and one of my favourite moments was the first smattering of snow in December, the week before I flew home for Christmas. Goerlitz has the most wonderful architecture, this is a street around the corner from where I lived and you can just see the double spire of the Peterskirche poking out from the rooftops. Being English I hadn't experienced many white Christmases and that first coat of snow was magical.

2. Family Christmas in Suffolk, Christmas 2009 

So this is a bit of a recurring memory. This is a small snapshot of the dinner table being laid for Christmas lunch, we always have homemade crackers, and the Santa wine-cover is definitely an intregal part... I wanted to take a picture of the table laden with yummy food but I don't seem to have any... I am clearly too busy eating to take photos once dinner is served!

3. Cologne Christmas Market, Christmas 2012

Hmmm I sense a theme... for me Christmas is a great opportunity to indulge in my major  slight German obsession. This was a super special trip - the picture shows the Harbour Market which is just on the river, it's slightly less busy than the bigger ones and we liked it best. C proposed underneath one of those canopies on the right, next to the tower, he could not have asked me in a more perfect place or time. 

4. Sydney, Christmas 2013

A slight contrast now, last year we were incredibly lucky and had 4 weeks in Oz over Christmas. C's best friend and uncle live over there so we travelled around a bit and had the most thoroughly wonderful time. This picture was taken the day we landed, after a nearly 40 hour journey and minimal sleep on the plane, we headed straight out to experience Sydney and boy it was amazing. These are the floating Santas at Darwin Harbour - it was mesmerising to see all these decorations in over 30 degrees!

5. Jervis Bay, Christmas 2013

Another Oz one, but one of my favourite memories!! We drove down to Currarong from Sydney which is on the most beautiful bay and hired a flat. We'd imagined Christmas day barbecuing on the beach in bright sunshine etc etc but the weather had other ideas, it was actually quite cold and raining! C and his best friend, another C, were absolutely determined to fish on Xmas Day and being English the weather did not deter them (the Aussies were very sensibly all in their flats). I gave them their Santa hats and off they went. Us girls sensibly drank wine on the (sheltered) balcony. We had a glorious Christmas Eve and Boxing Day so no complaints at all, it was just wonderful being there. Needless to say they didn't catch anything.... I think the fish saw them a mile off!

I am joining in Five on Friday, taking five minutes from our day to enjoy five things.  Please go and visit the other people who are also blogging about Five on Friday this week.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

The Woes of an Over Ambitious Crafter...

I had so many Christmas plans, schemes and ideas, yet now it's December and only one has been realised (Dad's scarf!) I've accepted that now is the time to just focus on the realistic, and start planning even earlier next year ;) And of course hopefully next year will be a bit quieter anyway ...

I ordered my first batch of Stylecraft wool from Wool warehouse, I loved the little bag it came in and overall am pleased with the yarn - I ordered the Special Aran as it was for a scarf  (and I'm lazy) and I love the soft feel of it, but it's a bit thinner than other aran wool I've used and there are a couple of splits in one ball. Oh well I shall just have to try some more to make sure it was just a one off! The balls in the picture are for my brother's xmas scarf, hopefully to be finished this weekend.

I went to Ashbourne with my Mum to visit my grandmother whose house is on top of a hill overlooking the town and the start of the peak district. The above picture is a not particularly great shot on my phone of her wonderful view. I've known that view my whole life and it always feels very comforting to be there looking out. Nana is now out of hospital which is wonderful, but has had to go in a care home for the time being as after 6 weeks in hospital she's not very mobile. She's not particularly happy about it (I don't blame her) but as it's only around the corner from her actual home she can see herself getting out one day. And she is very determined. 

The last picture is a WIP with the MOST ends I've ever had to deal with. I wanted to play with the seed stitch and whilst I like the effect I am not liking the ends.... 

Tonight I am making mincemeat and our tree will go up on Friday, earlier than usual because our annual gathering with a certain group of friends is this weekend due to the fact they're off to Mexico for xmas leaving next week - we are going to see them off with some British Christmas charm ;)

I hope you're all well and enjoying the first week of December, has anyone else been over ambitious?!

Until Next Time,


Tuesday, 25 November 2014

This and That

Once more I've become remiss with my blog writing, things have gone a bit manic again so I haven't been keeping up with anyone else either much - I am going to try and have a marathon catch up session later with a glass of wine!

November has gone so quickly it's unbelievable. I've attempted to create some sort of twig construction to hang snowflakes and the like off, it has proven impossible to get a decent photo of but looks better in real life I promise! The bird is from Bunny Mummy's pattern which is wonderful - I'm going to make some for friends and family, time permitting.

Then I've started making some face cloths for Xmas presents, I'm going to find some nice handmade soap to go with them for female relatives. We went for a lovely weekend walk at Rutland Water and revisited the wonderful church in the water at Normanton. This week also saw the return of the panettone. This is a tradition in our house now, when we bought our house almost exactly 3 years ago we had some redecorating to do and lived in the rented house for a month while we did it. We bought one of Lidl's panettone to have on hand at the new house in case we got peckish, a really huge one, and by the time we'd finished the panettone had gone. A slice of panettone reminds me of steaming horrid orange wallpaper off the walls, tearing up carpet and painting like maniacs. All worth it in the end of course.

I'm incredibly honoured to have been nominated for the Liebster Blog award by two of my favourite blogs, Geraldine from Wool and Cats and Anne and Michelle from Crochet Between Worlds, thank you very much :) I took part in this back in May, and would like to invite any of my lovely readers to join in - there are so many amazing blogs around!

1. What is the name of your blog? And what does the name mean?

My blog is 'woollybluebells', to be honest I want to change it at some point but not sure how! When I was trying to start a blog I was trying all sorts of combinations but they'd already gone! Very frustrated I tried this and noone had it... Woolly because I thought it would mostly be craft related, bluebells because they are my most favourite flower. They remind me of Spring, my birthday and walking in the woods with my parents as a child.

2. How many blogs do you follow?

According to Blogloving over 300, but a lot are inactive now! Realistically more likely to be around 40

3. Do you have a creative soul? 

I think so, although I can't draw and am quite clumsy! I love colours and day-dreaming and making things, and dreaming about making things of course

4. At what age did you learn to crochet or knit?

I learnt to knit at about 7 but forgot soon after, I want to try and pick it up again someday, crochet at 26, a late starter!

5. What are your future projects?

Some wedding gifts I feel... One of my bridesmaids is marrying in July and I would love to make her a wedding blanket, or cross stitch sampler.

6. Why do you blog?

I started off following other peoples' blogs and just enjoyed it so much I wanted to join in! I'm always amazed that people read my ramblings and am very touched by the comments I get. I also love looking back at what I've been up to - it's a wonderful way to document life. I've always tried writing diaries but never succeeded long term.

7. What will your Christmas look like this year?

A bit hectic! C and I are spending it with my parents or brother, either at their house or ours, but it also needs to include a visit to my grandmother who is 3 hours away. The logistics are still being worked out. Needless to say this is going to be a very special Christmas as it's our first married Christmas, we have only spent one Christmas together before and that was in Australia so we are looking forward to an English one together :) 

8. What are your plans for 2015?

Finish PhD. I can't see beyond that at the moment!!

9. If you could travel anywhere, which 3 places would you visit and why? 

New York - I have always wanted to go and experience the wonderful city
New Zealand - I want to see the wonderful landscapes
Canada - Again, the landscapes :)

10.What made you smile today?

C was really cute and grumpy this morning. Smiling at him didn't better his mood so I had to hide it ;)

11. What do you do on a rainy Sunday?

Curl up on the sofa with C/cats/crochet/wine/tea all of the above and watch a film

Wishing you all a lovely last week of November,

Until next time

Helen x

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Checking In: November

Making : Christmas Owls: I'm using the now iconic pattern from Bunny Mummy and am in absolute awe at how clear the instructions are and how wonderful the finished object is! The little chap in the picture is perched on my desk and cheering me up as I tackle some much needed editing of thesis.

Drinking : Peppermint tea, trying to become less caffeine-dependent ;)

Reading: This question always depresses me.... 'Homemade Men in Postwar Austrian Cinema' by Maria Fritsche. I long for the days when I will be able to read for pleasure :)

Wanting: Well, to read for pleasure now...

Looking: forward to Christmas (sorry!)

Wishing: There were more hours in the day

Enjoying: The fact that the weekends in the foreseeable future will be spent at home sweet home

Wondering: Where I'll be this time next year

Loving: How my crochet hot water bottle cover is turning out so far

Watching: The TV series 'Damages' starring Glenn Close. We'd never heard of it before but it was recommended on Netflix, and it really is very watchable!

Hoping: That I will meet my chapter deadline on Friday before friends visit for the weekend.

Marvelling: This beautiful blanket pattern on Betsy Makes 

Needing: Some more time with my friends

Wearing: My UGG boots. These were a lovely present from family friends in Australia last year, despite them being exceedingly popular during my years as an undergraduate I'd never bought any. I'm not really a follower of fashion and I think they make some people waddle like ducks. But then I put my pair on and it was a moment of revelation. Feet covered in cotton wool sensations, and oh so toasty. Quack. 

Noticing: How the pretty autumn leaves are now rather sludgy following all the rain

Feeling: Balanced

Sorting: out all of my accumulated crafty belongings... I have no idea where they're all coming from!

Buying: Felt for some decorations.... yes, that is where they are coming from, the internet...

Snacking: Banana Bread, normally I can never make this as my monkey husband eats all the bananas. But I hid some *evil wife grin*

Coveting: Some stylecraft yarn to make Attic 24's new blanket pattern... but, I still have two other blankets to finish, and really not much space...

Helping: myself to banana bread :)

Hearing: Classic FM, my favourite Sunday afternoon music option

Friday, 14 November 2014

Getting a wee bit festive...

Yesterday I went with my wonderful friend to visit Chatsworth Christmas market. We didn't go in the famous house, as we had both been previously, but had a lovely few hours wandering around the market, topped off with some grub and gluehwein.

I thought I'd share a few snap shots, I'm afraid I don't like taking lots of pictures of stalls as there are always lots of people milling around, and a lot of stall holders don't seem to like it, instead I thought I'd share some festive decor :)

I have finished my first crafty Christmas present! here is Dad's scarf - he is always looking for a red scarf, but never seems to find one, this year I could happily make him one. I am going to make my brother a scarf as well and insist the whole family wear their 'Helen' Scarves on Christmas Day! So egotistical...

I have also stitched together the front of Mum's hot water bottle cover, just the next one to do and then I shall try and fudge the assembly.

How are your Christmas crafty plans coming? Do tell :)

Until next time x

Monday, 10 November 2014

The One with a Chocolate Fish: York

Hello everybody, I hope you are all well wherever you may be. Today I would like to share a lovely weekend spent in York with hubbie, and our two old neighbours who we lived next to in Nottingham.

Now I'm sure that the vast majority of the world (at least 99.9999999%) associate the wonderful city of York with the magnificent Minster, the narrow cobbled shopping streets of the Shambles or maybe even the stunning city walls. Or the poor unfortunate monarch Richard III and the vast history of unrest and civil war in medieval England.

For me however, York is the city of chocolate fish.....

 Nearly five years ago C and I went to York for a day trip and he bought me a chocolate fish, it was one of the first things he bought me at the beginning of our relationship (ever the romantic ;)) Ever since then we've wanted to head back to York as it was so wonderful, and I always said he would have to recreate the Chocolate Fish Moment - he did! (I got some pretty weird looks while I took those photos)

The Saturday was pretty miserable, grey skies and lots of rain but it didn't stop us admiring the Minster and partaking of the Shambles....

The shot of the Shambles was right outside a lovely wool shop which of course I had to stick my head into. I may have come out with a ball of wool.... more on that in the future as I intend to make it into a York souvenir!

The next day was a complete contrast, blue skies and a crisp Autumn morning, we seized the opportunity and wandered the walls, looking over at the Minster in the hazy sunshine as we walked between two of the historic gates.

 And then we headed to another highlight of York - The National Railway Museum. Now I like a nice train journey, but I'm not particularly into 'trainy things' - I loved the experience nevertheless! I found myself being quite nostalgic about an era that I never experienced. The exhibition was very well done, you could wander around these huge majestic trains which were contextualised with artefacts from different eras. I loved the old railway posters especially, icons of a time gone by...

Isn't it interesting that even back then they used images of women on the beach to lure people to the seaside?! A slightly more modest image than nowadays I do concede :)

All in all a wonderful weekend. Thank you for all your lovely comments on the last post, I really was very touched. My Nana is starting to pick up a bit now, they are looking at getting her back on the rehabilitation wagon, so we will just have to see. And as for the PhD thesis.... still a big stone around my neck but I'm still swimming ;)

I've started making a Christmas garland for my parents, our theme is always red and green...

 They need blocking, but it will be a lovely star garland. I got the pattern from here, it's so quick and very effective :)

Have  a lovely week, a very hearty welcome to my new readers and a big hello to the usual crowd!

Until Next Time,

Helen x