Thursday 29 August 2019

Virus Meets Granny Shawl - Another Finish

You may remember I bought a ball of yarn at the Sydney Craft Show back in June and started crocheting the Virus Meets Granny Shawl.  You can read about my progress and where to locate the pattern and tutorial over here.

I started the project in July and happily I finished it in August.  You've no idea how happy I am about that.  These sorts of projects are often the ones that get put aside and become a UFO, but not this time.

So, how did it turn out?

Rather well, I think.  When I started I despaired that the colours weren't changing fast enough, but when it is finished they are just fine.  

I'm pleased that I added the granny panels, as it adds a bit of interest.  It was much easier to make than it looks, being just chain, double crochet and trebles (UK terms).

I wanted it to be drapey so I could wear it as a scarf rather than a shawl.  It looks OK on Victoria, so hopefully I will get some wear out of it, but that will be more for next winter.

I have a bit of the yarn left over, but I'm not sure if it is enough to do anything much with and it is all a rather similar very pale blue to grey.

I've been surprised at how much I have enjoyed doing some crochet during the cooler  months.  I have another ball of Caron Cake yarn, so there will be some more in the future, but once again, that will be for next winter.......I think.

The best thing is that I have a project to link with Kris' One Project a Month.  Happy Dance.

Wednesday 28 August 2019

Splendid Sampler 2 Blocks for August

As usual, my goal was to complete four Splendid Sampler 2 blocks in August.

I've gone through the book and marked all the remaining blocks I need to make and was surprised that there were some relatively simple blocks, so those were the ones I chose.

I know that I am making the future months a bit harder for myself, but the way around that may be to make them my main goal in some months and reduce the other goals.  I'm determined to make this goal setting caper work well for me and to get this quilt finished in under two years. It was started in June 2018, so we are tracking OK. 

On that front, I am so pleased that since I have started One Monthly Goal at the beginning of last year, I have not only completed quite a few UFOs (although not as many as I had hoped), but I have not created any either.  I have finished projects or have been actively progressing them each month.  It is working so well.

Anyway, I'm pleased with these few little blocks.  They were a pleasant way to spend last Saturday afternoon.

Now to decide which ones to work on next month.

Monday 26 August 2019

August One Monthly Goal - Playing With Scraps

My goal for August was to "do something" with my scraps from last month's twister table runner.  I had lots of squarish pieces, that weren't on the straight grain or true bias, some very thin short strings, some skewiff brown triangles and a few pieces of the border fabric.

I had a vague idea of making a mini quilt with four patches, using those brown bits for sashings, the skinny strings for corner stones and the border scraps for a border.  Let's see how I went.

I pieced my four patches.  As they were odd sizes and many had nicks into them I just found two straight edges and sewed them together, pressed them open and then straightened up the edges and sewed them into the four patch.  Then I worked out how big I could make them and trimmed them all down to the same size.  

By using that method my four patches worked out a lot bigger than I had originally thought they would.  Hence, my brown scraps weren't big enough to make sashings.  Back to the drawing board.......

 If I made four panels  from my four patches I had enough of the border fabric to line up against sides, but it looked a bit bland.  It needed a bit of that brown.  I had one skinny string that ranged from just over an inch wide to quite a bit less.  I also had a wider scrap.  I was able to cut two strings to the length of the panels and then, by cutting and joining, two more inch wide strips the length of the panels.

Ta da!  Rather than try to make a nice neat half inch border I made a little peeper.  It worked well.  

Now what?  There was next to no fabric left.  I started to see place mats.  This is the fabric I used as the backing of the runner and I had a decent sized piece left over. (There is more in stash, as I bought the end of a bolt many years ago, but we are using scraps, right.)

I just put a centre panel in, but I wasn't that excited by it.  I wondered what else I could create.  A fabric basket?  A zippy purse?  I let then sit for a couple of days, while I pondered.  In the end, laziness won out and I decided to proceed with place mats.

Now for the backing.  Hopefully there would be enough of the purple.  Don't you hate that!  One tiny corner was missing!  Oh well, easily fixed, just split it and add the remaining strip of border fabric, but as you can see, it wasn't long enough.  

Fortunately, there was one more funny shaped scrap that I could cut a piece out of and join it to the strip.

Now to get ready to quilt.  I found a strip cut off the edge of a previous quilt that with some joining would do the trick.

There we go. Ready to quilt........I was sitting at the machine ready to start when I had a "Duh" moment.  I'm not doing a binding, as I have no fabric left. Duh!

That's better.

Now to do the quilting.  I have done a free motion quilting course, but am not confident enough to try it on anything yet, so walking foot it is.  I decided to try something other than straight lines.  My initial thought was to do some cross hatching on the four patches, but the top and bottom squares aren't quite square from sewing the edge seams, so I decided to do some orange peels.  I was working away on them when Mick came in and I commented that there is only one word to describe my quilting.  Quick as a wink he came back with "Rough"!  Well, that wasn't quite the word I was going to use, but if you were to be brutally honest, it was probably appropriate.  My description was going to be "Organic".  Then I did some random wavy lines in the purple panel.  Yes, a bit rough and ready, but I can live with it.

Now, if we have place mats, we need coasters.

I just cut two squares of the left over batting and did a quilt as you go with those tiny strings and funny shapes.

Of course, there wasn't a large enough piece for the backing, so that was pieced as well.

Ta da!

And the back.  If you look closely, you can see some of the orange peel quilting in the stripe.  It centred nicely.  That was more good luck than good management, I can assure you.

So what was left from my pile of scraps?  A couple of the larger bits went in the scrap bin, but all those funny little brown bits and and tiny strings went in the garbage.  A good result.

As always, I have other goals in the background.

  • Rainbow Scrap Challenge Blocks - tick
  • Four Splendid Sampler 2 Blocks - tick - I'll blog it shortly
  • Have something completed for One Project a Month - tick
  • Complete my crochet shawl - tick - I'll blog it shortly
You have to be happy with that.  A rather productive month for me.  I'll have to decide what to work on next month, but it will be a bit busy, so we'll have to see.

I'm linking up over at Elm Street Quilts.  Pop over and see what other (much more involved) goals have been achieved this month.  Thanks always to Patty for the encouragement.

Friday 23 August 2019

Wales - Llandudno

I'm doing a recap on the third part of our trip to Wales and the Isle of Man, just on twelve months ago, as I never did get around to blogging about it.  I want to  get it down before I forget.

We left the Isle of Man by ferry back to Liverpool on the first of September.  We are always intrigued by the wind farms out in the sea.

Our first job was to collect our little Hyundai hire car.

The planned destination for the day was the town of Llandudno, on the north coast of Wales. It sounded nice when I had read about it, and it didn't disappoint.  It is a reasonably sized town, but not too big.

We found Cricklewood House B & B, which  ended up being then nicest accommodation we stayed in all trip and were ready to start exploring by lunch time.  In hindsight, were pretty lucky to get this accommodation.

It was a nice, warm Saturday towards the end of the summer school holidays, so there were plenty of people around, although it didn't feel crowded.  A major item on the landscape was the pier and the beach was mainly stones.

There was a small section that was sand and we were amazed to see donkey rides.  It was just like a scene out of a vintage children's picture book.

There were also a couple of rather attractive boats taking tourists for short rides.  It would have been lovely, but we didn't have enough time.

Then it was time to go for a wander along the pier.  It certainly was the nicest one we have come across and was very popular.  Looking back to the beach you can seen the lovely row of tall terraces that line the shoreline.

Once again, there were plenty of people, but it didn't feel too crowded.

The first part of the pier had lots of souvenir shops, but they thinned out as you ventured further.  An ice cream kiosk hit the spot.

What a lovely old merry-go-round.

Towards the end there was an amusement arcade.  They seem to feature at every seaside town and are always well patronised.  I'm guessing they would be very popular during wet weather days, which tend to happen in the UK.

We were surprised to see fisher folk at the very end of the pier.

Back on land you notice this limestone head land "The Great Orme".  Its name derives from the old Norse word for sea serpent.  You can walk up there. Yeah, right! Or you can drive up.....

Or you can catch the Great Orme Tramway.  It's pretty obvious which choice we made.  The tramway has been in operation since 1902.

We passed this pretty pub.

The tramway runs right beside the road.  The road is rather steep towards the end.

Once you reach the top there is an information centre and a stunning sculpture of a mountain goat.

The view is spectacular.

Another way we could have reached the summit is by cable car.

On our way down you could just see a bit of the Great Orme Bronze Age Copper Mines.  These were only discovered in 1987, when some landscaping was done.  Once again, we didn't have sufficient time to visit, but I think it would have been really interesting.

Remember that pretty pub?  How could we not go and enjoy a refreshing beer in the warm afternoon.

When we drove into Llandudno, we found that we were going to be treated to an unexpected activity to enjoy.  The UK Goldwing Club were having their annual Llandudno rally.  I've never seen so many Goldwings, and they were all so beautifully presented.  

There were hardly any that were stock standard, with murals, lights - so many lights - flags and every imaginable accessory.

The town crier and mayor were on hand to welcome them all.

Once it started to get dark the streets were closed for a light parade.  Wow!  What a spectacle.  It went for ages.  We are so pleased that we were there to see it all.

Then it was time for dinner.  There were heaps of restaurants, but also heaps of motorcyclists, so remember that pretty little pub?  Yes, we ventured back there and enjoyed a delicious meal.

I think Llandudno was one of my favourite places that we visited.  The fact that we were on the road again, exploring, could have contributed to that.  Anyway, it has provided some wonderful memories.

Wednesday 21 August 2019

Holiday Reminiscing

This time last year we were on the Isle of Man for the motorcycle racing.  I really can't believe that it is twelve months since our trip.

At the time, I blogged about our week in Wales and our time on the Isle of Man, but I never did get around to blogging about the final part of our trip.  I think this is a good opportunity to finish that off, before I forget all about it.  I know I have already forgotten a lot of the little details, so I'll have to look a few things up.

To start off, I will do a bit of an overview of our holiday - travel tips for my future reference - things that worked well, things that didn't.  Please bear with me.


When we travel we only tend to plan a framework, not the minute details, although Mick wouldn't believe me - he reckons I have it micro managed.  OK, I did do some reading up and found interesting things in Pinterest, so I was at least aware of what there was to see in Wales and roughly where things were, but that was all. If we saw it, we did, if we didn't, it didn't matter.

Before we left home for or our UK trip last year we booked our flights, a one way train ticket to Cardiff, our first night's accommodation and a hire car to be dropped off at Liverpool several days later.  We had our accommodation in Liverpool booked, foot passenger ferry tickets to and from the Isle of Man, our accommodation and hire car on the Isle of Man and our flight home.  OK, that is quite a bit, but there were a lot of gaps in between.

I made sure that I had hard copies of all travel documents in my travel folder, all were saved on the laptop and I had emailed them to myself before leaving home, including copies of our passports. (I could have probably used Dropbox or similar, but I didn't bother).

Our itinerary consisted of - have an afternoon in Cardiff, collect our car, explore Wales for a week, spend two weeks on the Isle of Man, collect another car, drive for a few days across England to Heathrow, from where we would fly home.

This is where our flexible planning came into its own.  As I shared in my blog in August last year, we only got a couple of days into our trip around Wales when we realised we weren't going to be able to see very much at all in our allocated time frame.  We therefore decided that rather rush Wales and then drive across England (we had no plan in mind anyway, keeping it flexible) we would see half of Wale in the  first week and return to see the other half of Wales after the Isle of Man, ending up back in Cardiff before catching another train to Heathrow.  That was the  best ever decision.


Whether we like it or not, technology requires some planning when travelling.  When you want to blog as you go along, it adds yet another layer.  Previously, we have taken our phones and not had very successful access when in the UK.  We have also previously taken a small laptop for blogging, once again, with not a lot of success at accessing wifi.  On the Isle of Man we have also sometimes used the computers in the library.  On the whole, the process has previously proved rather frustrating.  Since I've had my ipad I've tried to blog using it, once again with little success and it has just made me cranky - not a good way to be when you are supposed to be enjoying your holiday.

So, what did we do differently this time?

We both wanted access to our normal phone numbers while away for work and family reasons, so we went to our provider to set up overseas access.  Yes, it costs, but we were prepared to wear that.  I then cancelled all those annoying SMS ads that come up on my phone, as they would cause unnecessary costs.  Most importantly, we turned our mobile data setting to OFF.

We took both my ipad and Mick's laptop.

When we arrived in London, we purchased a local SIM card and installed it in my ipad.  I don't normally have a SIM card in my ipad.  That way I could use the ipad on the fly and also use it as a hot spot for our phones and the laptop.  I bought plenty of data, more than we needed, but we didn't have to think any more about it. 

It worked beautifully......except on the Isle of Man.  We find that we continue to have dramas there.  Fortunately, the cottage we rent does now have wifi.  I now know that when we get there in future to just go and get a SIM card from their local provider.  Really, I should know this by now, we've been there often enough.

Also, when on the Isle of Man, Mick and his mate are in constant phone contact.  Al set Mick up on Whatsapp, which we hadn't used before and it worked really well, rather than international SMS messages.  They continue to use it all the time.

Back in England and Wales, having the ipad linked to the internet all the time was perfect for using it as our GPS.  The ipad was so good for navigating, being a bit bigger screen than a phone.  I also used the ipad while travelling along to arrange accommodation.


We still carried Mick's DSLR camera and my little point and shoot, but realistically, we mainly used our phones.  The photo quality is so good now.  The only drawback is that they don't zoom well.  That is where my camera still tended to come out.


Other than our first night and the night in Liverpool, we had no accommodation booked in Wales, rather we just winged it.  This was fine, even though it was school summer holidays.  Previously, we had visited the "Visit England" information centres to find local accommodation, but not all B&Bs were listed with them, as the registration costs were quite high.  Just knocking on doors worked OK, but you were unsure of costings or quality.

This time, after seeing many ads on TV for Trivago we gave it a try.  It worked brilliantly.  Once we worked out where we expected to be that night (we generally had a good idea by late morning) I would get onto Trivago and look for accommodation.  Our criteria was generally fairly central in a town, so we could walk to get dinner, and that it had parking.  We didn't look for parking at first, but it didn't take us long to make that a priority.  Trivago then gave prices from Wotif, Expedia and  There were also plenty of reviews to have a look at.  Only in St David did Trivago show the town to be booked out, however, we luckily found a very central and reasonably priced B&B with a "Vacancy" sign out the front.  We stayed mainly in B&Bs, with a couple of pubs thrown in.  All our accommodation lived up to expectations, some were better than others of course, but that is half the fun of it. We aimed for mid priced accommodation.

We haven't ventured into Air B&B while in the UK, but there are lots of options there as well.


We have only used trains a couple of times previously in the UK.  We found catching the train to Cardiff on our first day worked so well.  Mick was not having to drive while tired after a long flight and we didn't have to combat the busy traffic around London.

We used Avis hire cars in Wales and England, as their depots were the most convenient for us.  We had a Suzuki Swift, which was my favourite, then a Nissan Micra on the Isle of Man, which was the best looking, and then a Hyundai i20 on our final leg.  That size works perfectly for us.  Anything smaller would be a bit too cosy with our luggage. Likewise, you only want a small car on their narrow roads.


I know you aren't meant to, but I have previously mainly used cash while in the UK.  When funds needed replenishing, I would take out my daily maximum allowable at the ATM, therefore just one exchange fee and only exposing your card at a minimum of locations.  By using cash, it was also easy to keep an eye on our spending.

This time I used the Cash Passport, loading it up with GB pounds before we left.  You have an app on your phone, so once again you can keep an eye on spending.  It worked really well.  The convenience of a credit card, without paying for the currency conversions, and the only fees from my end was the conversion commission for the initial loading up of the card.  We even had a bit of credit on the card left over when we came home, so through the app I just converted it back to Aussie dollars and spent it on our last trip away.

We also made sure our bank knew of our travel plans.

We did still carry some cash for those occasions when you couldn't use a card.

We always make sure we each carry some cash and we each have a couple of different credit card options, just in case something doesn't work, or gets stolen.  On that note, with the latest skimming fraud that now happens, both our wallets have the built in anti-skimming protection.

I think that about sums everything up.  Rather long winded, but handy for my future reference.  Next, I will actually get into the travel side of things.