Unravel – Fri 20 to Sun 22 February

I’m exhibiting at my first show next weekend! I had heard a lot of good things about Unravel at Farnham Maltings in Farnham, Surrey that I decided to have a stand and take the opportunity to meet lots of lovely knitters and crocheters, sell my books and launch my new kit range (I’ll post some images of these soon). 

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I’m producing 3 kits initially – my Lindisfarne Crochet Cowl in Rowan Felted Tweed…

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My Nordic Hot Water Bottle Cover, also in Rowan Felted Tweed…..

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and a new Felted Doily Table Mat (so new, I’ve not photographed it yet!) crocheted in Rowan British Sheep Breeds Chunky.

All three kits can be seen (and hopefully bought) at Unravel and will be available to buy from my website from the 1st April. Each kit comes with all the yarn to make the design, a pattern card and knitting needles or crochet hooks, all presented within my lovely new cotton kit bag…which I’m so pleased with (again I’ll post some images soon).

On the Friday afternoon, I’m holding a 3D knitting techniques workshop. In this fun workshop you will learn how to knit a folded fabric and use partial knitting to create interesting twists and knots. A ball of Rowan Cocoon and knitting needles will be provided.

3D Twists and Knots Fabric

Twists and Knots

3D Folded Fabric

Folded fabric

If you are interested in joining me, then please book via the Unravel website.

I’m really looking forward to next weekend and I hope that if you are in the area that you will pop in and say hello…..see you there!

Pattern downloads

Some of you may know that there has been some recent changes to EU VAT laws for digital downloadable sales. Due to this my patterns have not been available for sale from my website from the 1st January. I’m now pleased to able to tell you that my patterns are now being hosted by the lovely people at Loveknitting. You can access the patterns from my website and then you will be re-directed to the Loveknitting website to complete your purchase or you can go direct to Loveknitting and buy them direct from them. There are currently four patterns for sale:

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The Sage Throw

Commissioned by the Campaign for Wool, my popular Sage Throw pattern is now available to buy.

Mosaic cushion

Mosaic cushion

The Mosaic Cushion is a great introduction to mosaic knitting and was the project from one of my workshops last year. It was also one of the projects at my workshop week at the beautiful Watermill in Tuscany last July. It’s a new pattern is now available to buy.

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The Origami and Vertical Ripple Cushions

The Origami and Vertical Ripple Cushion patterns have been very popular and were the projects from my very first creative workshop in 2013. Both patterns are now available to buy again.

I’ve also made available a few more free patterns. These are downloadable from my website only. The new ones available are:

My Christmas Bauble – this cute Christmas tree decoration was one of the projects from my Christmas ideas workshop in November last year. It’s a great pattern to use up some left over yarn!

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Christmas Bauble

I’ve now made my Christmas Wreath pattern now available as a free pattern.

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Christmas Wreath

 I will be releasing a few more patterns next week, so please keep looking at my website!

3D Ripple cushion workshop

I’ve just finished the Multi Ripple Cushion, the project for my first workshop of the year. The workshop will be held at the Village Hall in Hoby, Leicestershire on Saturday 7th March. The price is £75 , which includes all the yarn (Rowan Felted Tweed) to make the cushion, pattern, a lovely lunch prepared by Thrussington’s (the deli and tea room in the next village to Hoby), cake, biscuits and lots of tea, coffee and juice. If you wish to come along and learn how to make this cushion and other 3D knitting techniques (not forgetting to mention that you will also have a fun day out) then go to my website to book a place.

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The finished cushion

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The cushion uses 7 colours of Rowan Felted Tweed

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It may look difficult to knit…but looks are deceiving!

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It’s really quite easy to do once you’ve leant how to do the technique, after all it’s just knitted in stocking stitch

 A third spare needle is used to create the ripples…once you’ve learnt this technique you can apply it to lots of knitting and create lots of interesting fabrics. It’s fun and easy to do and hopefully it will inspire you to be more creative with your knitting.

Hope you can make it on the 7th March…

Iceland!

Mark and I went to Iceland two weeks ago and we had a fantastic time. It’s a land of spectacular landscapes, very friendly people and lots of hand knitted sweaters! 

I thought I would share some of my photos with you…hope you like them.

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Harpan Concert Hall in Reykjavik

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The amazing Hallgrimskitkja – Cathedral

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The Sun Voyager Sculpture on the sea front, Reykjavik

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A view down a street in Reykjavik

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Traditional houses in Reykjavik

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A view from the lake in Reykjavik

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A view of Pingvellir national park…it looks cold and it’s was cold!!

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Another view of Pingvellir

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A dramatic walk between the North American and European tectonic plates at Pingvellir.

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Geysir – wait for it!

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A false alarm!

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There she blows!

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All over for another 5 minutes!

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The magnificent Gullfoss waterfall

Some close ups of the waterfall…it really was breathtaking!

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 At the end of the day we went snowmobiling onto the massive Langjokujl glacier, that’s me at the controls, but I was too chicken to have a go at driving…I let Mark do that!

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We had a memorable few days in Iceland and despite not seeing the Northern Lights we had a fantastic time. We would love to go back in the summer sometime and do some walking and pony trekking…but I still want to see those elusive Northern Lights!

Filigree is launched today!

I’m very excited to announce that my third self published book ‘Filigree’ is now available to buy online from my website.

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There is a slideshow of the designs to view on my website, so that you can look at the collection before you decide to buy it. Payment is via PayPal, for UK orders please click on the ‘UK P&P’ button, for EU orders please click on the ‘EU P&P’ and for the US and other countries such as Australia, New Zealand, India, Japan etc, please click on the ‘US & REST OF THE WORLD P &P’. Don’t forget to put a message on your order if you wish me to sign your copy.

I’m actually going on holiday next week to Iceland! So all book orders received before 11am on Monday will be despatched by end of the day on Monday. Orders received after 11am on Monday will be despatched on Monday 26th January. 

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Peony

If you decide to buy ‘Filigree’ then I really hope that you are happy with it when you receive it. I’m thrilled with this collection and I hope you will be too…enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Filigree

Next Thursday sees the launch of my third independent book ‘Filigree‘. 

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My third independent book

I’m so pleased with this collection – the designs, photography and the layout and I hope you will like it too. ‘Filigree’ is a collection of feminine crochet designs using a new Rowan yarn called ‘Summerlite’. This beautifully soft, 4 ply Egyptian cotton yarn is great to crochet and to knit with and unlike other cotton yarns gives a neat and even appearance. Some of the 10 designs are a combination of crochet and knit. In my last two books ‘Windswept‘ and ‘Lakeland‘, I added crochet trims to the knitted designs, so I couldn’t design a crochet collection without knit in it! I’ve tried to create a collection that shows the true beauty of this wonderful craft as well as creating wearable and fashionable pieces. Hence the reason for just using two colours – Pure White and Washed Linen (which is actually a flattering pale grey). These two light colours show the beauty of the stitches as well as being popular colours for summer. I suggest that you wear the designs with a white, pale grey or skin coloured camisole underneath. Georgia is wearing a skin coloured bra in each photograph as I needed the stitches to show really well, but of course if you feel brave….! Regarding the layout in the book, each of the designs is laid out against a background of flowers, which I think works really well, but of course you will be the judge of that!

My ‘Filigree’ book will be available to buy from my website from Thursday 15th January and it will also be available from Rowan stockists soon. Below are all the designs within the book with a few comments about each design. …..hope you enjoy it and please let me know what you think.

Hollyhock layout

Hollyhock

Hollyhock is the first design in the book and as you can see is a combination of knit and crochet. The crochet panel (which is on the front and back) is worked using two ends of yarn together. Once the panel is completed, the knit sections are worked (in one end) by picking up along the side edges of the panels. The pretty picot edging is then added to the bottom, armholes and neck.

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Hollyhock

Lupin is one of my favourites and is so flattering to wear. Georgia is having this design in return for her modelling… it’s being made at the moment! It is worked around horizontal panels of square motifs and then the crochet stripes are worked either side of these. I must add at this point that the majority of the designs in the collection are achievable by a crocheter with average ability. Most of the stitches used are the basic ones – chains, double crochet and variations on trebles.

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Lupin

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Lupin

Aster is the next design and is on the front cover. This is a fashionable cropped and boxy top in a ‘bows and boxes’ stitch. The edging is worked separately and can be stitched on or crocheted on during finishing.

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Aster

Daisy is a design which is worked in one piece as it is crocheted in the round. I actually crocheted the sample shown in the book and I really enjoyed making it. You probably appreciate that I don’t have time to make all the garments in my collections. When I design, I knit or crochet a large swatch and then the pattern is written from this. I then have a wonderful team of talented knitters and crocheters who make the majority of the designs, however I always like to finish each one – adding trims and edgings etc, so if I need to change anything I can do it then. I am thinking of re-making Daisy in Rowan Felted Tweed as a multi colour stripe and with long sleeves….I’ll let you know how it turns out!

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Daisy

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Daisy close up

Buttercup is another of my favourites…it’s a very pretty classic cardigan. The majority of the design is knit and then the crochet panels are made up of crochet squares (each joined together on the last round). The pretty picot edging is then added afterwards and the design is finished off with small mother of pearl buttons.

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Buttercup

Anemone is another favourite…it’s a very wearable and fashionable top with a knit body and crochet sleeves. The stitch used in the sleeves is a simple square trellis and the pretty picot edging is added during the finishing.

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Anemone

Peony is a beautiful long shrug, perfect for the summer wedding or party. It’s probably the most challenging design to do in the collection. It’s made up of two type of triangular shaped motifs which are joined together as each last round is completed. The back section and the sleeves are worked separately. Although it is the most difficult one to crochet, it is fun to do and if you are like me, I really enjoy joining motifs together as you make each one!

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Peony

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Peony back view

Rose is another favourite! Although it looks complicated, it’s actually fairly easy to do as it’s just one simple square motif with each motif being joined to the next on the last round. It has a lovely turn back boat neck, which as you can see is very flattering.

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Rose

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Rose

 Carnation is a jacket made up of crochet squares for the body and knitted rib for the sleeves, welts and collar. The squares are worked separately and then joined all together with treble stitches once all the squares have been worked. One single mother of pearl button is added at the neck edge to finish the design.

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Carnation

Tulip is the last design in the collection and is a combination of a cable lace stitch knitted to form the main body section with an unusual welt section made up of double crochet strips. The resulting effect (hopefully you will agree) is very flattering, making it a very wearable summer top.

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Tulip

 So that’s it….hope you like the collection and I would love to hear what you think. I will post again next week when the book is available to order on my website.

I want to add at this point that the patterns for each design are written out. I know that some of you prefer to work crochet from charts (I actually do) but I haven’t been able to sort out how I can produce the crochet charts yet….but I’m on to it!

The year that was…

As 2014 has drawn to a close and we’re at the start of 2015, I wanted to reflect on my year and what a year it’s been!

January

2014 started off quite quiet and as I was still Rowan’s head designer I spent most of the month researching trends for Magazine 57 which is just about to be launched in a few weeks time. We also finalised the designs for the home-ware feature in Magazine 56 and I excitedly saw my first independent book ‘Windswept’ go to print! As I was planning to run the Great North Run for the Alzheimer’s Society later in the year, I started my training!

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My first independent book.

 

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The new Rowan Magazine out on the 15th January

February

February again was mostly taken up with Rowan work…art directing the ‘Colourful Home’ shoot for Magazine 56, sending the design brief out to freelance designers for Magazine 57 and towards the end of the month I briefed the 2nd year students of the BA Fashion Knitwear and Knitted Textiles course on the Wool Week project I was going to teach at Nottingham Trent University. February also saw me design for my second independent book ‘Lakeland’ which I was planning to photograph at the end of April.

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Two of the Wool Week designs from the students of Nottingham Trent University. They were on display at the Wool Interiors exhibition at Southwark Cathedral during Wool Week in October.

March

‘Windswept’ was launched this month and I was so happy with the response I got, lots of amazing comments and my stock of copies sold out really quickly! The rest of the month was spent designing for Rowan Magazine 57 and teaching at Nottingham Trent University. I also planned my ‘Lakeland’ photography shoot, arranging to photograph at Shacklabank Farm in the Lake District… the home of the lovely Shepherdess, Alison O’Neill.

Some of the designs from Windswept…

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Sage Tunic

 

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Thyme Wrap

 

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Lovage

April

April was a really busy month for me, finishing designs for Rowan and for a Rowan online collection in the Pure Wool Worsted yarn. The rest of the month was taken up with planning the ‘Lakeland’ shoot and preparing for my first workshop at the Watermill in Tuscany! I held my colour workshop at the village hall in Hoby, which went down really well but on Wednesday 30th in the early hours, I suffered a heart attack!

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Shacklabank Farm, the location for Lakeland

May

It wasn’t until the first weekend in May that I started to become ill and suffered, what turned out to be several angina attacks and one more suspected heart attack. I went into the Glenfield Hospital in Leicester on Sunday 4th May and had a stent fitted on Thursday 8th May after discovering that I had a narrowing in my right coronary artery apparently caused by my genetic makeup. A massive thank you to the staff at Glenfield, I had fantastic care.

My life changed this month! A lot of my planned work had to be cancelled, including my first workshop in Tuscany (thankfully Nancy Merchant stepped in for me) and all my work with Rowan. I came out of hospital feeling rather delicate and weak but slowly started to recover (once I had gotten used to the drugs!) I received so many well wishes which helped me to come to terms with what had happened to me and to accept how lucky I had been! Thankfully my ‘Lakeland’ book was more or less put to bed and I only a few things to do before it could go to print, it was launched at the end of May.

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My second independent book

Some designs from Lakeland…

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Scafell

 

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Derwent

 

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Buttermere

 

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Windermere

June

…saw me starting to do a little work for Rowan again. I researched the trends for next autumn winter and wrote the design brief for Magazine 58. Lisa Richardson and Sarah Hatton kindly stepped in for me and art directed and styled the two location stories for Magazine 57. However I did manage to art direct and style the Essentials collection at the end of June, maybe a little too soon in hindsight, as I was very tired a lot of the time. On a personal note, we managed to get away for a weekend to the Goodwood Festival of Speed towards the end of the month, which was lovely as I previously had to cancel a trip to the Chelsea Flower Show in London, which I was really looking forward to.

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Philomena, one of my designs from the Rowan Mag 57 Essentials collection

June

This was another designing month…for Rowan Magazine 58. I also held my first workshop week at the Watermill in Tuscany. Mark came with me for moral support and it was great. The Watermill at Posara in Tuscany, Bill and Lois, and all the ladies,  were simply fabulous. I’m already looking forward to holding two more workshops there this year in May and September. Bill has already told me that the May workshop is already full and there is only one place left on the September one! This is great news, despite the fact that I’ve not even designed the projects yet!

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The Watermill

August

…was my 50th birthday month and we had a week’s holiday in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales. It was great just to be able to walk in such breathtaking landscape and enjoy the company of good friends and my dogs! Prior to this, all my family came to visit, including my brother, his wife and daughter from the US and a great time was had by all. The Campaign for Wool commissioned me to design two cushions for Wool Week and a throw for their forthcoming exhibition in London. This commission resulted in the popular Herdwick and Bluefaced Leicester sheep cushions and the ‘Sage Fairisle Throw’.

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The Herdwick Sheep cushion

September

I started my workshops back up this month with the popular Mosaic Lap Rug. It was great to return to more or less normal life again! I also decided to alter how I work with Rowan. With mutual agreement we decided that I would no longer be head designer and that I would only be contracted to do some designing and art direct and style a couple of shoots for them each season. It was a big decision as it meant a sizeable cut in my income but it’s a decision that I’ve not regretted. I thought I would miss doing the job but I’m now so much happier!! I’m a lot less stressed and I am really enjoying growing my own business. I also started work on my third independent book, ‘Filigree’ which is out later this month.

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The Mosaic Lap Rug

October

October saw me holding mostly workshops…free ones at the Wool Interiors Exhibition at Southwark Cathedral for Wool Week and my own weekend workshop where I welcomed a delightful group of ladies from Chicago in the US. It was great to see my ‘Sage Throw’ exhibited at the Cathedral and I received so many positive comments about it and what I was doing…a big boost to my confidence!

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Sage Throw

November

November saw my ‘Filigree’ photography shoot (I will be writing a post about the book very soon)…I must confess that I’m so pleased with this book! I also held my very popular crochet cowl workshop. I’ve had a lot of enquiries about this design, so I’ve decided to offer it as a kit later this year. I also art directed and styled three photography shoots for Rowan…two for Magazine 58 (one on location at Beacon Hill Country Park in Leicestershire and the other was a studio ‘Essentials’ shoot) and the third shoot was for an accessory book featuring a Rowan new yarn.

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Filigree – my third independent book, available from the 15th January

 

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My crochet cowl

 

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Beacon Hill Country Park, the location for ‘Tranquil’, one of the collections for Rowan Mag 58

December

After my last workshop (Christmas Ideas) at the beginning of the month I decided to take a bit of time off from my work…and what did I do, decorated our dining room of course! Well it’s finished and the curtains are made and we both love it. It’s more of a library than a dining room really as all our books are in here. It’s also a music room as my much awaited piano has finally been delivered. This beautiful antique walnut piano was my 50th birthday present from Mark, and I love it…I now only need to learn how to play it!

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The hot water bottle cover from the Christmas Ideas workshop

Well as the new year starts I plan to be back working from Monday, I’ve got lots of designing to do….for a new exciting idea I’m planning for this year (soon to be announced) and for my fourth book, which will be a vintage children’s book called ‘Once Upon a Time. I’ve also got to design the projects for my various workshops so that I can release the online bookings for these and organise and plan my new online shop which will be live in the spring.

I want to thank you all for your support this year and I wish you all a very Happy New Year and I hope that you will enjoy reading about my forthcoming knitting adventures!

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Happy 2015 from me, Norah and Nelly!

 

A woodland photography shoot

Sorry that you’ve not heard from me for a few weeks….I’ve been busy photographing and laying out my third book…I’ll give you a sneaky preview shortly! I’m so excited about my new collection, it’s all crochet (with a bit of knit!), very feminine, beautiful and summery!

I’ve also been busy art directing a couple of photography shoots for Rowan, so I thought I would give you a taster of the shoot…

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The ethereal Beacon Hill Country Park

I decided to shoot one of the collections for Rowan Mag 58 at the stunning Beacon Hill Country Park in Leicestershire. Some of you may know that I’m lucky to live in a beautiful part of the country, in rural Leicestershire. This county is a fabulous secret, not many people know about the wonderful rolling farmland and pretty villages, typical of the English countryside. We also have the most spectacular woodland and Beacon Hill Country Park is a fine example.

Beacon Hill Country Park is a part of the Charnwood Forest in the North West of Leicestershire. The park has over 335 acres of mixed woodland, grassland, wild flower meadows as well as adjoining farmland. Beacon Hill is the second highest point in the county, once the site of a Bronze Age fort and affords great views of the surrounding countryside. It is also the site of one of the many beacons across the country that are lit at special occasions such as the Queen’s jubilee.

Here are a few photographs I took on the shoot…I just love the fairytale fungi that was prevalent everywhere!

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Amazing skies

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Not sure what this fungus is?

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A fairytale woodland…

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Fly Agaric

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Peter and Liam hard at work!

On the second day of the shoot, Mark (my husband) brought our dogs, Norah and Nelly, to the woods. They were models for the day and you’ll be able to see them in the magazine when it’s published! Here’s a photo of them that Liam took…looking very proud with their day’s work!

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Nelly and Norah…my lovely girls!

 

My grandad

To commemorate the centenary of the start of WWI and to remember the 96th anniversary of the end of the war, I thought I would tell you about my grandfather, Ellis Greenhalgh. 

Grandad was like many others, an ordinary man who did his duty and fought in WWI, but to myself and my family he was a hero. Unfortunately I never really knew him as he died when I was a little girl and I only have a few fond memories of him. 

Ellis joined the 9th Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment when war broke out in 1914. A year later he managed to get 72 hours leave to marry my grandmother, Hannah on the 15th May 1915.

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Grandad and grandma on their engagement

Ellis served as an acting Quartermaster Sergeant in the 25th Division. He wrote many postcards and letters to my grandmother during the war but never described the horrors of what he must have experienced. In March 1918, his division was wiped out but he was lucky and escaped with only a light wound. In April it was wiped out again at Armentiers but was re-formed again. In May it was wiped out again at the Battle of the Marne but this time Ellis was shot through the jaw. After that the division was disbanded and Ellis and a few other survivors were transferred to the 1st Fifth Loyals. My grandad was demobbed in 1919 and went back to his job as a spinner at one of the many cotton mills in Bolton, he retired when he was 70!

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I can’t begin to imagine what he witnessed during the war and he never spoke of what he saw. He was a very brave man, one amongst the many who I thank for the freedom and relative safety we all now enjoy in our everyday lives.

Thank you Grandad, God bless and we’ll never forget.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My new beaded design in Vogue Knitting

Today I was sent the images for my lovely beaded sweater design featured in the new issue of Vogue Knitting – Holiday 2014. I’m rather pleased with this design and how it has turned out as I actually never saw it when it was finished! I was in Tuscany at the time holding a workshop week at the beautiful Watermill in Posara (you can read about this in my earlier blog post about the trip), so my knitter (the wonderful Karen Evans) had to send it direct to Vogue Knitting for me. As you can see she did a super job.

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Beaded scoop neck tee – not my description!

The design is knitted using Rowan Kidsilk Haze and Anchor Artiste Metallic. The beads (from Debbie Abrahams Beads) are used in the chest panel on the front and back. 

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The main stitch used in the design is a simple chevron stripe using 3 colours – Wicked 599 and Steel 664 in Kidsilk Haze and Silver 301 in the Anchor Artiste Metallic.

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I’m afraid I’m not sure where you can buy Vogue Knitting in the UK but hopefully we will see it on the shelves in the main magazine shops soon.

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