Yorkshire Arboretum

So, thanks to Groupon, I have discovered a little (well quite big) gem, only 30 mins from my house- the Yorkshire Arboretum. It’s basically at Castle Howard for anyone semi local. It’s absolutely beautiful.  

We took Elvis but could not explore all of it due to his gammy leg as it is a huge 120 acres! 

The trees in the Yorkshire Arboretum come from all around the world, and started with a collection of trees purchased in 1979 from Hillier Nurseries, in Hampshire. 

Many trees were grown from seeds brought back by collectors, many from the 19th century. I like the fact that there is a map and they are all labelled. 

Lots of the trees are ‘reserve’ trees for Kew Gardens, in case rare trees there are damaged or affected by disease. 

I also enjoyed some of the lovely flowers….

And I can highly recommend the cafe as well. It’s all dog-friendly (have to be on leads in places) and basically smashing. We will be going again soon!


And so I am slowly trying to perfect the art of teacup candles. I’ve made a few now. I picked up…. Wait for it…. Over 60 teacups at an auction for £20 (as well as 3 teapots, numerous plates, many bits of Wedgwood and untold other bits and pieces which I am slowly trying to offload!). 

I’ve not dared to sell any of these yet as they are not quite perfect but they make good presents (I think, friends and family may disagree!!) 

If you’ve not made candles before, here’s how. 

Melt the wax in a saucepan within a saucepan of water (not directly on heat). You can buy pellets but I am working my way through a massive bag of broken candles Gary acquired for me!

Make sure you have pokey implements around eg old tongs to stir and mix, especially after you add the colouring which comes in shards like this, easily available on net, (as are all the supplies): 

A little bit of colouring goes a very long way btw. 

Then once melts you can add candle fragrance. I use these:

This has to be added at a specific temperature for best results, but I don’t have a wax thermometer yet. Not sure I’m acing with the fragrance to be honest. 

Pour into teacups which have already been prepared with wicks. 

I attach wicks using old pencils or wooden stirrers ‘liberated’ from coffee shops. 

Only fill three quarters. This is because the wax forms a depression in the centre as it cools. 

You need about 3 more gradual top ups (making sure completely dry in between) to achieve flatness!

And there you go, completed candles!

Anyone wanting to give it a go I can highly recommend starter kits. I got this one initially. It was great. Happy candle making!

Elvis is bored

So Elvis has had a little elbow op. He’s been on minimal walks for weeks- five minutes per day. He’s terrible bored. He’s laying around looking very sorry for himself. 

In between that he is begging for food with even more vigour than usual. 

He’s got a new pastime of looking out of the living room window in a kind of ‘help me I’m a prisoner’ kind of way. 

Poor little thing. He may be on longer walks next week (10mins) then 15 the next and so on. Patience little Elvis!

The skirt is finished! And teacosies rule…..

So finally the skirt is finished! The last bit took ages because the craftsy course suggested I stitch the waistband and hem on the machine, but I didn’t want a visible line so I hand stitched it all invisibly. I think it was worth it. 

Actually it was quite therapeutic. 

Here is the finished item….

I love it. I can even live with the pattern match fails at the seams. I think. 

In other news I have finally managed to get three tea cosies into etsy. I had a target of 5 this month but three out of five ain’t bad! I just love making tea cosies, here photographed with part of a lovely tea set I bought in vintage shop Flax and Twine in York.  (Amazing place -if you are visiting York take a look). 

Here are the three I’ve managed to get on:

Love this mad rainbow chunky wool.  Forget where I got the buttons… Whitby I think. 

Granny squares rule. This was going to be a cushion but it changed its mind. 

My favourite I think. Just because I love spotty ribbons. 

I’ve got about another three half done… Always the way!

Happy crafting weekend!!!

Clifton ings

So in a break from crafting I am delighted to be able to walk on Clifton ings again after the floods! The flowers are all back out and it looks like a beautiful meadow again! Elvis was also pleased. 

The ings has a fascinating history including being a racecourse, and the site of the North Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum (what a grim name!) 

The hospital was opened in the 1840s and a chapel was added in 1873. This is still there:


The hospital apparently closed in the 90s…

In 2014 the ings became a site of special scientific interest due to all the wildlife: 


There’s a small green beetle called the tansy beetle which only lives there:

I’m not too good with insects though so I don’t really spend my time looking for it! I’m just glad to have such a lovely place 5 minutes away!

Skirt progress

So I’m nearly finished with the skirt! I’ve learnt a lot. First of all about pattern matching!

Cut out my two sides…..

Put them together then realised instead of overlaying them the same way to cut them…..

I should have turned one over!!

Result…. Fail on the seam….

So never mind, side seam, I think I’ll get away with it…. A bit!

Then, very pleased was I with my invisible zip… Until I realised it was perfect but on the wrong side!!!! How did I manage that??

Doh! Thank god for stitch unpickers!

The waistband and hem seem to be going ok though…

I think it will be wearable anyhow.

Elvis gets his bronze

So in exciting dog news, Elvis has achieved his bronze kennel club award for obedience!! It was touch and go. He had to do the one minute stay twice as he got distracted! Here is a dark picture of him celebrating with celery, which he loves….

And here is him looking even cuter 

Proud mummy!!!

The a-line maxi begins!

So my new project in this cloudy bank holiday- an a line skirt- pattern drawn from scratch!! This is an online craftsy course I am doing and it is actually great.

So I had to buy a few things. I learnt what a French curve is this week (an implement rather than a physical aspiration!!!)

I’ve spent this morning drafting the pattern. I’ve had to try and be clever as the course is for knee length not maxi. Even my pattern paper agreed and was too short!!

Some bog-standard copy paper is doing a stirling job standing in!!!

I’ve got two fabrics I want to make into skirts. The first is this fab Alexander Henry

How cool?

The second is a good old tartan. I love tartan although I’m making life hard on seam matching!

I’m going to make a full muslin first to check measurements.

I’ve been inspired by the latest sewing bee- is anyone watching?

Wish me luck!

The mermaid is complete

So ta dah! The mermaid snugly is complete and ready to go off in the post to London Town to my friend’s daughter.

It was a lovely easy pattern so a good tv watching project. I hope she likes it.

Other projects I have on the go; a small selection…

Blue and white granny squares for a cushion for our spare room. Great for using up all my scraps of blue wool. Seem to have loads!

Likewise for the spare room…….matching blanket (sort of)…

These are two wrist warmers prior to the sew up. Love making these- another tv project. This wool is gorgeous and soft.

And look at the wool find! Three quid. Guess where from?? Wilko of all places! I’m not sure what to do with this yet, I just had to have it!!

Ideas on a postcard…..