Thursday, 8 October 2015

Urban Jungle Bloggers: Blooms & Green

This month's theme for Urban Jungle Bloggers is Blooms & Green. The challenge was to style living plants along with cut flowers. I decided to style my mantelpiece - it's finally starting to feel like spring and the winter decor was no longer appropriate! Along with my blooms and plants I added a few decorative pieces like the faded vintage rose prints and the tiny metal chair. I also added a miniature watering can, which is probably the thing  most representative of this time of year! (Heaven is a warm spring evening, kicking off my shoes and touring the garden with watering can in hand.)

 The star of my show is the ranunculus at centre stage, but to complement her I made this little posy of anemones and Jacob's ladder leaves.

 Here are some of my most graphically designed pot plants. Ok... I have to admit I have forgotten the names of both of them... so I call them the striped plant and the spotted plant! I also have a couple of stems of pink ranunculus, and a beautiful round-leafed cyclamen.

 Pretty Miss Ranunculus... doesn't she look a picture?

I hung my crocheted flower garland from the mantelpiece. This is one of my favourite things I've made and I always enjoy a chance to hang it somewhere! It's made from cotton/bamboo yarn and adorned with vintage buttons.

I'm really loving this display on my mantelpiece... I think I'll let it stay until it's time to change it up for Christmas!
Urban Jungle Bloggers is hosted by Judith at and Igor at Happy Interior Blog. You can find out more and participate yourself at

Monday, 5 October 2015

Snapshots from September

 September was an interesting month. The calendar said spring, but the weather gods said no... definitely still winter! The frosts and cool temperatures continued, which meant that the bloom times in the garden were a bit behind. The hellebores continued on, in some cases looking even better as they aged. They are forming nice clumps and I have to resist the urge to divide and replant them. I'll limit myself to propagating by seed this year. 

The first blossoms arrived in my garden, on my almond trees. They are beautiful but always a bit sparse... I'm not sure if this is the norm actually or if they don't like the climate here, I think I've read they don't like frost.

 Even though it's cold I got my tomato seeds started. By the time they're big enough to plant out it should be warm enough for them in the glasshouse. My propagator is a plastic shell that originally held a mailbox. I rescued it from the rubbish and was proud of my find as it's the perfect size and shape!

 There was an amazing red sunrise one morning, predictably enough followed by a nasty weather change.

 I've been working on my puff stitch blanket, and I'll update that in another post. However, one work in progress is never enough, and when I saw an Instagram announcement of a new CAL (Crochet Aong) I had to join in! This is the Greg Mystery CAL. A new pattern comes out every few weeks and this is the first square.

 I had a week off work as well. I actually timed it really well with the weather and managed to get the best week in the whole month (the opposite usually happens when I have a week off!). I spent the time visiting my family in Timaru, then I came back home and got stuck into the garden.  My main task was the front garden - it's an absolute disgrace, weed filled and overgrown. I weeded, dug over and enlarged the bed and planted out lots of plants. There is a lot to show actually but I'm waiting for it to fill in a bit before taking photos! The photo on the left is the strip along the side of my drive, which is planted with camellia Fairy Blush shrubs and underplanted with earlicheer and monarch daffodils, pink hyacinths, and ipheon uniflorum (spring star). It's at its absolute best at this time of year, looking beautiful and smelling divine.

 Also on my week off, I painted stuff! This was something for my front yard garden update. More details soon I promise!

 Still loving my spring display from Styling the Seasons. It looks just as pretty at night, when the lamplight shines through the glass and reflects off the silver tray. Also, I got a pair of metal flower scissors. I had to joke that I now feel like a proper Instagrammer... since every second flat lay and still life features a pair of these!

 I've been reading The Luminaries. I found it quite hard to get into at first, because its written in a deliberately old-fashioned style, with very long sentences and antique turns of phrase. But I did get into it and it's definitely very clever. It took me 2 weeks to get halfway and I could have finished it in the 4 week library allowance, but I wanted to read the other books I had out too! It had a natural break halfway, so I'll look for it next time I'm at the library (and possibly not get out any other books).

This medieval looking contraption is my crochet blocking board... it makes blocking multiple squares a breeze! It's simply a wooden board with holes drilled in, and metal skewers inserted in the holes.

Here we are at the end of September. It's raining (again), but green leaves are unfurling and the peach tree is now covered with blossom. I'm hoping that spring really isn't too far away now!

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Puff Stitch Pincushion crochet pattern

 I've been working on squares for my latest blanket, and having a lot of fun with the process. I've made a lot of circles and soon the time will come to add the last round of stitches and turn them into squares. As happy as that thought makes me, I'll miss having all these circles around, so I decided to turn a couple of them into a pincushion. I really needed one to store all my yarn needles as I am forever losing them down the couch, so it was the perfect opportunity to fulfil several needs!

 The spaces between the puffs are great for jamming a thick needle in! You can also attach safety pins or stitch markers around each puff.

You could use this as a scissor keep, although I find those a bit bulky, so I just made a loop for it so I can pin it to the side of the couch when I need to keep it handy.

Puff Stitch Pincushion crochet pattern

Working a puff stitch: yo, insert hook into space and pull yarn through (3 loops on the hook), repeat 3 times (9 loops on the hook). Keep your tension quite loose as you are doing this - the loops should not be wrapped tightly around the hook. Yo again, then carefully draw the hook through 8 loops (2 loops on hook). Yo and draw the hook through the last 2 loops.

Round 1: Ch 4, make 15 treble crochet stitches into a magic ring.
Round 2: Ch 2, make 16 puff stitches, working into the space between each tr, with 1 ch between each puff.
Round 3: Repeat Round 2. Fasten off.

Make two circles, then hold them wrong sides together. Work all stitches into both circles to join them. With a contrasting yarn, attach with a slip stitch into one of the ch 1 spaces. Ch 1, 1 sc into same space, ch2, 1 sc into space between puffs, repeat until 3/4 of the circles are joined. Stuff the pincushion, then finish joining. Before fastening off, ch 20 to make a loop for hanging. Join the end of the loop and fasten off.

Take 2 small buttons and sew them one on each side of the pincushion, drawing the thread tight between the buttons. Fasten off thread.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

September flowers

 Hello September, where did you go? I seem to have blinked and missed it. Spring might be here but Mother Nature hasn't got the memo and is still lashing us with cold and wet wintery weather! It's not time to take the flannelette sheets off the bed just yet.

I did actually have last week off from work and we did, actually, have a couple of warm days in there... they are a distant memory now. My aim was to get stuck into the garden, in particular the front garden which has been a bit neglected. We had the drive repaired recently and it looks amazing, meaning everything else looks shabby in comparison, and I wanted to enlarge the beds and put more plants around the roses, etc etc... I'll go into more detail in another post when the beds have filled out a bit and look more photo-worthy. Suffice to say, I got about half of what I wanted done! It was hard work digging, planting and shifting things. I'm pleased with the effort though and if I had another week off I'd get the lot finished... alas I'm back at work next week so it will be back to the weekend gardening, as long as the weather behaves.

Things are waking up in the flower garden, slowly due to the long winter and cold start to spring. If I look back at photos from previous years I can see that everything is set back a bit in comparison. I still have plenty of bulb and blossom though...

Above, from top left: ipheion uniflorum (spring star), fondant hyacinth, a posy of daffodils and geranium, peach blossom, almond blossom, vintage looking pansy, camellia fairy blush, pink and purple anemones, paper daisies, anemones in their natural habitat, yet another anemone, monarch daffodils.

This is the spring planting lining my driveway. It's a riot of pastel frills and ruffles and smells just heavenly. It fills out a bit every year and will only improve as the camellias get taller. Interestingly enough, the hyacinths have put on a much better show than last year and I wonder if it's due to cooler temps or more frosts or something... a lot of spring bloomers seem to be improved by frost first. Anyway, working out the front has been much improved by having this to look at, and I've even had passing neighbours stop and tell me how nice it looks. That spurs me on... hopefully I'll be able to get the rest of it up to standard soon!

Linking up to Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day even though I'm a few days late...

Styling the Seasons - September 2015

Welcome to my September post for Styling the Seasons! September is the first month of spring so of course I had to do something light, bright and flowery. I foraged through the garden for the early bloomers - anemones, pansies, geraniums and hyacinths - and set up this display in my hall. 

The heady scent from hyacinths and these earlycheer daffodils fills the space and drifts into adjoining rooms. I have lots of daffs and hyacinths in my garden this year so I'll be able to replenish the vases quite a few times! Also rampant in my garden is this cute little geranium which makes a great filler.

I found this silver tray recently at an op shop. It looks perfect with a mismatched collection of glass bottles and vases placed on its shiny surface. In order to ground the display and extend it's proportions to the width of the table, I placed some doilies underneath. If you've read my blog before you'll know that there is always a place for a crochet doily in this house!

Love this sweet little pansy face.

I'm loving the uplifting beauty of this display. Have you made any changes this month for the beginning of spring/autumn?

Styling the Seasons is a monthly styling challenge hosted by Katy at Apartment Apothecary and Charlotte at Lotts and Lots. Find out more by searching the hashtag #stylingtheseasons on social media.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Snapshots from August

Hi again! This post is terribly late so I thought I better get it up while I can still remember details from August. The weather this week has suddenly turned springlike and my head is full of September, which makes winter seem a distant memory (at least until the next cold snap). It doesn't seem like very much has happened either... the last month of winter is always the hardest, when the rituals that marked the beginning of the season have lost their cosy aspect and started to feel worn and jaded. No more scented candles and hot chocolate, please!

One good thing about the sun rising late in the morning is that if you get a gorgeous sunrise, you can easily take a picture as you're leaving for work.

I never get sick of hellebores. Even when faded, they are still beautiful. And of course no matter what the season, I'll be working on some crochet with a coffee to hand!

In August the hellebores bloomed more profusely, and I was able to bring them inside for arranging. I love this simple hana style of ikebana. You've seen this photo of the gathered bouquet before, but here I have edited it to look like a painting! Skillz.

I've been continuing with my crochet puff square blanket. Some of the tail ends of yarn looked pretty turned into a flat lay. And here's a note to self not to forget that cyclamen flowers are great in a vase... They last for ages and if the stems are curved they make a great accent.

Here is Mr Lui giving the side eye. And another photo that I've edited into a painting! Can you tell that this month I sat inside and played on my phone a lot?

August was cold and very wintery. It rained a lot and a couple of storms blew through. Snow was forecast a couple of times but didn't eventuate, but it was still one of the winteriest winters we've had recently. The garden has been a bit slow to wake up, but I know that the mad growth of spring is right around the corner, and I'm glad to have had this time of rest.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Adding a crochet hem to a dress, and Wavy Pocket crochet pattern

 I bought this dress a while ago because I thought it was cute with its polka dotted heart print. The dress was a good fit but was just a bit too short for me to be comfortable with. No problem, I thought, I'll just crochet a trim on the bottom, easy, and that will make it wearable! It was easy too, but as I am such a great procrastinator it sat in my wardrobe for at least a year (yes, truly) before I got round to doing it.

 Here it is at last! I started with a blanket stitch along the edge of the dress, then did a round in dc. I did 3 dc to each loop of the blanket stitch, but it depends on your stitch size - 2 dc might fit better. I used the edging for the All Shawl by Doris Chan which works up into this beautiful lacy pattern. I used thin 4 ply cotton yarn and a 3mm hook, and adapted the last row slightly to skip every second scallop and make the others a bit bigger (chain 4, sc into 3 ch space, chain 4, between each scallop).

I also thought that a couple of pockets would finish it off nicely! I created a pattern for these which picks up on the dc increases in the edging pattern. It also gives a a scalloped edge for the pockets.

Ch 19 to start.
Row 1: 1 dc in third ch from hook (as I wanted a slightly rounded corner I worked into the third chain rather than the fourth), 1 dc in next 15 chains, 2 dc in last ch.
Row 2: ch 2, 1 dc in same dc. 1 dc in next 17 dcs. 2 dc in last ch.
Row 3: ch 3, 1 dc in next 2 dc, skip 1 dc, *(2 dc, ch 1, 2 dc) in next dc, skip next dc, 1 dc in next 3 dc*, repeat from * till end of row.
Row 4: ch 3, 1 dc in next 2 dc, *(2 dc, ch 1, 2 dc) in ch 1 space, 1 dc in next 3 dc*, repeat from * till end of row.
Repeat pattern until pocket is desired size.

I have my new dress for spring, now all I need is some warmer weather so I can wear it... hopefully not long to wait now!

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Starting a new blanket and some colour play

 A couple of months ago I started working on a new crochet blanket. I like having a big project like this on the go that I can pick up and work on without having to think too much about it... it's good for when I want to work on something in the evening or while watching TV and I don't really mind how long it takes.

My granny squares start with a circle in the middle, worked with puff stitch. I started off using the Sunburst square design (as in the photo above) but quickly decided two rounds of puff stitch would look better. I've worked out how many squares of each colour I need, so I'm working on batches of the same colours at a time. 

 I'm really loving the puff stitch and it makes a pretty circle. So far I haven't gotten round to putting the grey square around any of them as it's too much fun just playing with these circles.

 Each of the colour schemes has put me in mind of different flowers or decorative combinations. The sage green and purple ones above reminded me of pansies and cyclamen leaves. The aqua blue and beige was perfect for midwinter.

As my camellias and hellebores have come into bloom I matched them to the circles. The tiny pink buds and blooms of daphne were tucked into this pink and blue rosette... wouldn't it make a pretty brooch!

I'm looking forward to spending time on this project over the next few months or years or however long it takes... I'm not one of those who can knock up a blanket in a matter of weeks. If you want to follow my progress as it happens feel free to look me up on Instagram, or keep an eye here on the blog for periodic updates.

Friday, 21 August 2015

August flowers

Hi again! Welcome to August in my garden. It's been up and down weather-wise... we had some warm sunny days at the start of the month where I threw all the windows and doors open and got the house aired and dried to its bones. We had winter storms and snow flurries, heavy rain and frost. But no matter what the weather's doing, the earth and the plants know the date, and everything is counting down to the spring awakening.

As I showed you in my last post, the wonderful hellebores are blooming and they really are lighting up the garden. Even with the frost and rain, their petals are firm and unblemished. Winter blooms continue with camellias and daphne, and the first early risers of spring are unfurling their petals - some delicate anemones, the long lasting blooms of paper daisies, one-minute-wonder crocuses and the first brave daffodils.

Last weekend it rained, I was travelling and then got sick as well. This weekend there is less on the agenda and I need to get stuck into the garden. Suddenly all those jobs that I thought I'd tackle at a leisurely pace when I got round to it have piled up... and they all need to be taken care of before the mad growth of spring kicks in! If you need me, I'll be in the garden...

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Talking about hellebores

Well, the weather continues to be cold and miserable, but there is sunshine in my heart because now is the season of the hellebore! I've been building up my collection over the past few years since they really are a lovely flower both for picking and bringing inside, and also for lighting up the garden and adding colour at a bare time of year. I have about eight different varieties (and covet several more) which is nowhere near enough!

Hellebores are well known to wilt if you pick a stem to put in a vase. The solution is to just pick the heads and float them in bowls of water. One big bowl looks stunning, or you can do what I've done here and use a selection of small bowls, jars and glasses. I have also found that if you pick them a bit later on in the season when the flower heads have aged a bit, they are less prone to wilting. And sometimes it's worth just picking them anyway, and finding a stem of greenery to rest their little faces against!

Here are my hellebore lovelies:

Clockwise from top left: Pink Lady (a beautiful clear pink with nice round petals), White Lady (similar to Pink Lady but lovely pure white), an unnamed chartreuse variety, White Picotee (very large flowers, green-tinted white petals edged with purple, and black-ringed stamens).

Clockwise from top left: Tutu (green-tinged purple petals with freckles and a gorgeous ruffled centre), a Double Hybrid, a common purple with pointed petals, and Pink Lady with her lovely rosy buds. I also have a new-to-me variety called Mrs Betty Ranicar, which according to Google is a pretty double white. But Mrs Betty is so new she has decided not to show herself this year which is a bit frustrating! Will she be as pretty as the pictures? Perhaps we'll find out next year.

This is my Common Purple staking out its turf next to the jasmine bush. It's getting nice and big and having lots of little babies.

I hope to cross pollinate some of these different colours and styles and create some of my own Double Hybrids... it's a bit of a wait as they take about 4 years to bloom from seed! It's too tempting not to try though... who knows what Frankenstein-like creations will emerge.

Such pretty plants in the garden (left, Tutu and right, Picotee). I only wish they bloomed in summer too. Funnily enough, a couple of years ago I had one that did - I think it was Pink Lady. I have heard from other bloggers who have had summer blooming hellebores too so it's not unheard of! I had to move Pink Lady when we had house repairs done, so she didn't bloom last summer. But I'll be keeping an eye on her and the others just to see what's what...


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