::Designing… Sketchbooks::

 

20140513_201705Preparation is everything… or so they say. Fail to prepare is to prepare to fail.  Where do these sayings come from? Well lets not get into that now. Whenever I start a new project, preparation is where I start. Maybe it’s the Designer in me, the eternal problem solver, finding solutions to new challenges and trying to find the innovative and creative solution to them! It drives people around me quite nuts, sometimes; I’m never satisfied with just the most obvious, or easiest route.

There are many ways in which preparation manifests itself in any creative mind. For me it’s the use of a sketchbook. I urge you to have a go, there is a designer in everyone. Really there is!

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Why should I think about starting a sketchbook, I hear you say? Well, humour me a little. Have you got a pile of bits of recipes snippets, handwritten notes from someone who has passed on a recipe that you admired, scribbled something down from a packet, or even got the side of the packet? Some of you, like me, might even have an old handwritten notebook or box full of tried and tested recipes passed down or given to you from a Grandma, Aunty or friend, with notes on how they changed them, or adapted them to suit the season, or their oven. Passing on recipes is something we all do, we hand over our taste buds and lifestyles to someone to try for themselves. We give them our recipe treasures. For me a sketchbook full of colour, ideas, scribbles and shapes is the same. Patterns and ideas to share.

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Sketchbooks for me, are a fabulous way of preparing for any project, large or small; you can gather all of your ideas together, snippets from magazines with splashes of colour, shapes that delight and tickle the fancy or curiosity. A sketchbook becomes a beautiful thing in itself; full of all of those ideas that mill around in your mind, shifting, evolving, changing and developing. I like to think of a sketchbook as a pot of delicious stew bubbling along with developing and strengthening flavours. Then sometimes a design creeps up on you and pokes you on the shoulder to say, “Have you thought about…?” Other times it is a bolt of lightening, an intake of breath or a flash of inspiration… other sayings are available!

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Starting a sketchbook is really easy, whether you like to paint, knit, crochet, decoupage, sculpt, there are many craft and creative applications for them. I have cherished many of my sketchbooks from my Art College days, that are full of treasured memories, thought processes and are a record of my Creative Mind and it’s doodlings and musings. My teenage sons have browsed through my sketchbooks with me many times over the years, not unlike a photo album, and we have laughed at the sideways scribbled sketches from Parc Guell in Barcelona, delighted in the balconies of the Ramblas and the canals in Amsterdam. Sharing them fills me with joy. They are packed full of bits and bobs that evoke smells and sounds of the trips I made, and I can instantly see the textiles I made as a result. These sketchbooks both inspired and prepared me for design projects at Art college. Something to spark a creative path to be taken. A path I continue to take whenever I am designing something new- or trying out an idea.

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The main thing is to gather anything that appeals to your senses, that makes you heart swell with glee; make little sketches of things you see, write down words for things you hear or bring thoughts, smells and touches to mind. Add snippets of found objects, if they’re small enough, or photograph them to add to the eclectic mix. Include bits of yarn, thread, fabric. Create a shade card of the yarn story you want to use; a yarn shop will often let you have a snippet. The important thing is that the sketchbook begins to form a vivid and real picture of the design or colour story you wish to explore and helps the thought process along.

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Many of us get our inspiration from the Internet now, where there are a plethora of designs, ideas, photographs and colours to look at, print off and follow. Many of these designs are widely available as kits, with packs of everything you need to have a go yourself. These are a great way to have something to get started, I do it too. Sometimes, and this is the exciting bit, you can begin to see in the photos, pictures and ideas how you might make a slight change, a different yarn, an altered shape, even the size. This is where the true design process starts; with the seed of an idea.

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I’m currently using pages that will form a sketchbook in my preparation for making my Peruvian Poncho. I have been inspired by a Blogland friend’s amazingly beautiful and original design. But, I think I want mine to be a different shape, I want to use a different colour palette, I want to design my own sequence of stitches. My sketchbook has started. I’m doing my research. I have perused the internet for traditional Peruvian designs, made colour notes with pencil crayons, and also a shade card of the yarn I have chosen. I have chosen Cascade Peruvian Wool. This helps me to see the colour combinations and how they dance and sing to each other to create a harmony. I’m not expecting this to be a quick process – maybe it will be – but I’m enjoying the marinating of ideas, choosing the ingredients and considering what the finished poncho will be like. At the end, I’ll add a photo of the finished product.

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Eventually I know I will have a finished Poncho, unlike anyone else’s, individual to me, with my creative juices flowing through it. I hope it will inspire others, as I too was inspired. I hope that my sketchbook, with my design ideas, will be something I can come back to in years to come, with Grand children perhaps if I’m lucky, to bring back memories, sights, sounds, smells and feelings of deep satisfaction to savour. I hope all of my sketchbooks are something that will be passed on and treasured with memories of me. Go on have a go!


http://www.deramores.com/blog-awards: This blog entry is my submission to the Deramores Blog Awards 2014. Deramores is the UK’s number one online retailer of knitting and crochet supplies.

:: Wasdale Part One::

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Remember in my post, Weekend Relaxing, I mentioned purchases? Well the big purchase we made was a new-to-us Caravan. Meet Doris, she is my latest makeover project, (well the house is nearly finished), and as E said, “You’ve run out of places to crochet in the house so you need more space?” Maybe…. was my reply! Having camped in our super-large family tent since the boys were 5 and 8 years old, we have enjoyed many holiday trips, to the sea in Norfolk, Exeter and the Jurassic coast, and also to other parts of The Lake District. Getting a caravan seemed like the next step for us.

Our new-to-us caravan Doris. Now she is 30 years old, so classed as Retro or Classic instead of Vintage, and is in need of a makeover and a bit of a Mixture43 treatment, but she’s perfectly roadworthy and habitable. Lots and lots of beige… I’ll leave it at that!

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I used my Festival Granny Stripe Blanket and my Sunshine Granny Square Blanket to cheer her up for this trip and it certainly did the trick, along with a couple of homemade crochet cushions.Image

Ooooh did you spot my new book? It has some lovely inspirational caravan makeover pictures (but more of that later).

Once we’d got her ship-shaped – well caravan-shaped I should say, we settled down for an evening view of the area. It was a lovely Gold rated David Bellamy caravan and camping site near to the west coast at Seascale, so lots of flaura and fauna to look at and of course being in an Area of Outstanding beauty you wouldn’t expect anything other than beautiful things to look at!

 Just look at the view from Doris’s window!Image

Wasdale and nearby Eskdale fells and mountains were only a few miles away, so we plotted and planned our walking and ascent. We had such beautiful weather on our trip to the South Lakes Area of Wasdale. J and I visited there over twenty years ago (was it really so long ago?) and I have always thought it would be lovely to return, I hoped it would still be as beautiful as I had remembered. It is breathtakingly stunning. We looked out at the view over a homemade supper cooked on Doris’s stove top. We are going to have many adventures, it’s going to be great!

A little bit of morning snuggly ripply hooky in my Doris bed…Image

We decided that we would walk along the side of the Lake. As I was just recovering from an acute episode with my back… lets just say half an hour to get off the floor in excruciating pain and not standing up straight for what seemed like eternity (bottom out like a duck and sideways slant is never a good look), we thought that a flat-ish walk would be better. To be honest I really needed to move about too so I gritted my teeth and off we went.Image

It was such a lovely walk, peaceful, tranquil, silent even at times but for the flowing and rippling water and rustling leaves in the gentle breeze.

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The light casts such beautiful shadows on the fells and mountain, it’s quite Scandinavian to look at, well so I’ve ben told. I haven’t been there… yet!

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Skimming stones… you just have to at every opportunity, always a competition! Dad and son… who won? Not so little J of course!Image

You can see how far the water rose in the recent months with all of the wet and windy weather, in fact one of the locals told us it had been pouring down until only two days before, and he was heartily sick of rain! I’m not surprised with this much water , however it’s not called the Lake District or nothing!

Then there were the damaged trees…ImageImage

I was so proud of myself for walking along an undulating road and not a flat one as promised and my back did very well. In fact at times I forgot all about it what with the beautiful Wasdale scenery and sounds to look and listen to.

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After a little rest, some buttered hot crossed buns and a slurp of coffee, that we had in our rucsac, we set off back the other way. My back had warmed up by now and was actually beginning to sort itself out. I was feeling so much better and enjoying the chat, jokes and banter that was flowing back and forth from Little J and J. Oh my, how 15 year olds, (really my baby is 15?) can talk of such random things!

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I knew I wanted to go to the sea. I love being near the water, lakes, sea, streams, it is always so calming and reminds me of caravanning trips with my parents to Great Yarmouth, Poole in Dorset and Western Super-mare. I loved caravanning as a girl, the joy of hitching up and getting off, the waking up and remembering where you were in your cosy caravan bed. The return from school on a Friday evening and seeing the bags packed and ready for the off. My children are too old for that kind of excitement, but I have to say I was so overjoyed when little J decided to come with us, no wifi, no Xbox and all those other teenage boy toys. But he was very pleasantly surprised. He is outdoorsy too, I might add, so enjoys a good walk. And he does love water… he’s my water baby.ImageImage

Seascale is a quiet place, although being one of the starting places for the C2C cycle ride, it can get busy from Easter to October.  Last year E and J made that self same ride across the country cycling 142 miles in two days, they did Seascale to Whitby. Little J and I followed in the car with supplies, flapjacks and coffee. It was quite the adventure!

Anyhoo….  Seascale and the beach. Lots of lovely bits and bobs and ripples!!Image

Fish shaped stone, in a gorgeous shade of blue.ImageImageImage

We enjoyed an ice cream sitting on a bench looking at the sea. Then, with weary legs and a hungry tummy, we headed off back to Doris for the night.

The evening view from Doris was spectacular.

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The day ended with a Very satisfying ‘CLUNK’ as I laid down and snuggled in my Doris bed. The relief in my back was fantastic and having not slept so well for a week or more, I slept like a baby. Wasdale and Doris the Caravan had lived up to every dream and expectation I had and more.  Great times ahead.

:: My Crochet Blanket love ::

Crocheted blankets

It always  fills me with enormous pride and love when I finish a crochet blanket and can see it in all of it’s glory. I’m really quite good at visualising what my blankets will look like when they are completed, but it’s not the same as when they are there in front of you with all of the intricacies, colour combinations, pulling and tugging of ends, fiddly finger work and endless counting and stitchery combinations finally worked together for the reveal and Ta-Dah. I do so love the blankets I have completed so far on my rekindled crochet journey. I love that I have been able to give pleasure to others by passing them on. I love that I have been able to fire up the crochet passion in my young niece and her desire for making crochet granny square blankets for her dolls, and the maturity of her request for a grown up girl blanket for her newly decorated bedroom.

What could be better than passing on and gifting a beautifully made, personalised handmade crochet blanket to the next generation – a keep sake she will forever know as Aunty Karen’s crochet blanket? It fills me with HuGe amounts of blanket love.

So I decided to embark on a little trip down the last 8 months of Crochet Blanket Memory Lane. Would you like to come too?

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My first blanket ever ever…not from the last 8 months but made by me when I was 11. My next door neighbour’s 17 year old daughter Susan started me off with remnants of baby wool and any other bits I could find in my Mum’s and her Mum’s stash. I remember sitting there all fingers and thumbs but then suddenly getting all the way round and adding new colours, keeping going and then the joy as it grew and grew. I have kept this blanket safe and sound; it has cuddled both of my baby boys and then stayed draped lovingly on my bedroom chair to remind me of the stages of my life.

Then last year inspired by many crochet magazines on the shelf in the supermarket, something just struck a cord with me. I went to the wool shop and I bought some yarn. 18 delicious and amazing colours of King Cole pricewise – a budget DK acrylic- but great all the same. I had a vase of my favourite flowers, tulips on the kitchen table, so decided to use them as inspiration for the colours!

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I found Lucy at Attic24, who inspired me to try other patterns and combinations.There was the festival granny stripe blanket. I started this blanket at the Cambridge Folk festival last summer, our last family holiday before E went off to University.

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I made a blanket to give to E’s girlfriend for her 18th birthday, a keepsake gift. I love to give presents and one that is homemade with love is always something special I think. She loves Cath Kidston- this was Cath Kidston-esque.

Cath Kidston-esque lap blanket

Then there was the blanket I made for Little Em who requested a big girls blanket for her birthday. I’m really pleased with the retro feel of this blanket, the oatmeal colour sets of the bright and mute colours beautifully.

Little Em crochet granny square blanket

Currently I am working on an amazing project blanket; my lovely hubby got me a club blanket member ship for my Christmas present. I saw Amanda and The Natural Dye Studio projects at Yarndale. I totally and completely fell in love with her blankets and yarns. I did prompt J into the right direction and oh boy, it is beautifully wonderful. Here is where I am up to. I will keep you up to date with my Kaleidoscope Blanket on my Ravelry, Facebook and Flickr.

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So how did you enjoy my little journey? I loved looking back at the blankets so far this year – I can’t wait to show you the rest of the projects I have planned, with my double Lucy packs of yarn from Deramores waiting patiently for  blanket or two! Happy hooking people!

:: Year End Review: 2013: Part Two::

So here it is… part two. In some words (but mainly pictures). It took me so very long to get the pictures sorted I have resolved to organise my photo library for the new year!! A New Years resolution I hope to keep! Enjoy :o)xx

•∆• July

July 2013

Camping at the Cambridge Folk festival, finishing my Sunshine Granny Square Blanket, Ta-Dah post here, and new yarn arrives for Festival granny stripe blanket!

•∆• August

August 2013

Rome and Pompeii was AmAzInG!!! Amazing weather, amazing sights and history and amazing company. Our first family holiday without E was a bit emotional but we moved on and we're ok! Plodding on with new projects.

•∆• September

September 2013

E went on his way to Leeds College of Music and so so so proud we are, you can read all about it in my post here! My studio in the HayLoft was finished. School started back and the old routine of life springs back quickly. Weekends are taken up with visits to Leeds while E settles in. We all miss him. :o( However a super special trip to Yarndale cheers me up no end with my friend Fi!

•∆• October

October 2013

Tutti-fruity lampshade is finished see the Ta-Dah post here. J and I have our birthday, and we splash out on a night at the malmaison in Leeds and visit E at the same time. Half term visit to Saltaire was wonderfully relaxing and a bonus visit to E too! :o)

•∆• November

November 2013

Cold, cold, cold… wet and windy too. But beautifully Autumnal, see here for an autumn walk. Bonfire night, busy with my Autumn Wreath and the little details for that. So happy with it's completion- a new challenge having never made one before.

•∆• December

December 2013

With a deeply satisfying sigh we reach the end of the year. E home from College, end of a challenging school term and a joyous time making and creating presents for friends and family. Chilly hands dug down deep in pockets for a head clearing Boxing day walk.

It is so lovely, happy and satisying to look back over my year – finding crochet again around late spring and beginning my blog and Facebook page. It felt strange 'talking' and sharing my life with the great wide world, but that has now become such a blessing when I look back over my year in print and photos.

Thank you to anyone and everyone who has supported me, with comments, likes, and shares- they mean a lot!

I look forwards to finding new 'friends' and learning more, trying more and challenging myself to even greater heights!

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favourite MixTures from the year 

::2013: Year end review: part one::
::Transition::
-Lovely – Sunny Festival Granny stripe blanket!-
- Whilst the weather…-
::It's great to have a catch up…::

::TA-DAH!!! Crochet Lampshade::

I can hardly control the delight and uncontainable glee at the loading up of this blog post – I am so incredibly proud of this project. :o)xxxx


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The light shows off it's amazing shape and looks almost like a stained glass window. It wasn't an easy project, there were many times when I pulled bits out, changed colours, or was stuck with the shaping. But, being organic was exciting, as I ddn't know what the finished result would be, just a vague picture in my head!!

When I got the lampshade and it looked like this…


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I knew I wanted it to be based on circles and not stripes, but there would be some stripes in it for the edging. You can find the tutorial (as much as it is) for this lampshade here, and I hope it inspires upcycling projects like this as Delquilter inspired me with her lampshade… remember

So here are a few of the  pictures of my new and gorgeous lampshade which will take pride of place in my soon to be revealed studio.


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It looks particularly beautiful when the light is on, but equally colourful when it isn't. I'm really pleased with the edging so that the shape of the shade can be seen.


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As you can see I added some teeny weeny crocheted balls onto the bottom edge, really easy to make but a tiny bit fiddly instructions are here. I'm really pleased with the results though and have already sourced a couple of new shades from the charity shop to make some more and try out other designs. Watch this space!!!

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::Busy, busy, busy – lampshade and pizza ::

Just another quick post, two updates.

::Update 1::

I have been busy, busy, busy, making my newly named Tutti-Fruity Lampshade (Inspiration from Delquilter on Ravelry) see my previous post here and I've begun to work out and crochet the circles I will need. I am going to adapt the original Apple-Cherry-Fizz-Bomb version though and add some crochet ripples into it too and maybe have a crochet bobble border. I can see it finished in my head!

I'm using Stylecraft yarn I bought from the Wool warehouse and I'll be placing an LED bulb in the shade once finished (no heat therefore safer), much to J's relief. I think he thought I was going to have a safety hazard on our hands, but he feels reassured now. Phew!!

So I've started my circles and chosen my palette.


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I'm figuring out the circles needed, and I've made the first 8 for around the top. I've started crocheting the first of 8 larger ones and then I'll make 8 panels for the sides with crochet inserted shapes. It's all a bit take-it-slowly-and-see-how-it-goes but so far (fingers crossed) it's going well. I LOVE it!!


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So I will keep you up-to-date and maybe even write a tutorial for this – depends on how transferable the sizes are as the shades may differ. It is a great upcycling project and recycling at it's best me thinks!!

Remember how yesterday I was busy, busy, busy with baking, homemade, things and homebaking? Well.

::Update 2::

…on the pizza and bread buns. Sad I know, but I'm soo impressed with gluten free homemade bread – it tastes like Bread!

Ta-Dah!! I have successfully made gluten-free bread for a pizza and it was delish!!


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As you can see I had already taken a chunk out when I took the photo – it looked too good to wait!

It was lovely and crispy on the base ( the Aga does that very well) and I topped it with tomato puree, mozzarella cheese, rocket leaves, ribbons of courgettes (freshly picked that morning) cheddar cheese, olives (green and black) and dried basil.
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The pizza was lovely with my homemade coleslaw and the bread buns turned out really well too – in fact I think they've now gone!

It's great having the time to get on and do these things, I just hope I can be organised and disciplined enough once back to school to ensure I bake, make and have time for crafty things. They make me soooo happy! :)

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::Happy, Homemade, Homegrown, Happy::

•Happy number 1•

Happy… I found an amazing picture on Ravelry on Delquilters profile, of a lampshade that she has crocheted, with an amazing selection of yarn colours,and I knew I just HAVE to make one too.

Standard_lamp_001_mediumIt gives off such a beautiful light when lit and looks absolutley stunningly, beautifully, gorgeous!!

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Isn't it fantastic!! Oh yes I hear you cry – amazingly so. :o)x

So off to the charity shop I went and I got a retro lampshade, crying out to me, yes talking to me… and so I made it HAPPY and me HAPPY and I bought it and he's ready for his new crochet covering!! (Well once I've taken off his old clothes!)


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•Homemade•

Homemade coleslaw for tea – mmm, mmm, mmm! I lurve coleslaw! Shredded white cabbage, grated carrot, spring onion, mayonnaise, (not too much!), chopped apple and pumpkin seeds! Delicious and so simple to make. I remember as a girl having lovely homemade bread, my mum used to make a batch every week, fresh yorkshire ham off the bone (from the local deli) and homemade coleslaw for a cheeky Saturday lunch whilst my Dad and brother went to watch the local football team. The smell of homemade bread, crisp fresh coleslaw and a glass of homemade lemonade, couldn't be beaten and has transported me back to being about 8 years old. Ooooh, I know what I'm going to make tomorrow, YES you guessed, gluten-free bread! Hmmmm, wonder if it will be quite the same?

Now to get the other bits ready for dinner and dig up HoMeGrOwN.


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•Homegrown•

Homegrown new potatoes, you just cannot beat them!! Now I know not every potato wants to spend it's short but worthy life in an Ikea bag, but they make for great potato grow bags!! They sit really well on my paved garden area and homegrown is always better. Great recycling don't you think? Look!


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So fingers crossed there will be a reasonably good crop, having had all that sunshine but not much rain (especially whilst we were away on holiday). So here we go…


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Quite a lot of the happy  little lovelies for one small potato grow bag, some big, some tiny, but all delicious I'm sure.


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And my little potato family…


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and they are ready, all buttered up to go with the parma ham, mozzarella, melon, coleslaw and salad. Yum, yum.


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•Happy number 2•

Happy… I went to Impact Furniture Services, a great place that take away your unwanted but usable furniture and sell it or give it to people who need it, and I got myself a retro chair for my studio that I can upcycle.


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Once it has been sanded, it will get the same treatment as my first deco patching endeavour and be decopatched. Then it will get a new seat and it will look adorable! Have some lovely new Cath Kidston gingham check and some Cath Kidston Rosali fabric to use. Will keep you up to date!

So now that I've got my classroom looking lovely ready for Septembers new year 6's, I can spend a couple of days and a bank holiday weekend getting my studio sorted. It has been painted, furniture has been bought, roman blind kit has been purchased, fabric for said roman blind has been purchased and sorting and organising has been completed. Phew!!

On tomorrows list is:

1. make homemade bread and other lovely gluten-free baking.

2. go to deli for yorkshire ham on the bone!

3. have bread, ham and coleslaw sandwich for lunch – yum, yum!

4. begin to make blind for studio.

What a busy day, when combined with the usual household chores and jobs I need to do. I'll be settling down to some more of festival granny stripe blanket  I think, as it's probably feeling a little neglected!

Sorry it's a bit longer than I'd thought, but got a bit carried away with the bread nostalgia!! Bye for now. :)

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