Just to make it more official…

…Anyone care to join me?

Exciting new venture (again!)

It’s not long since I told you about my Etsy shop selling jewelry, www.jennieworldcrafts.com. And yet there is another venture which I’ve not yet shared with you. Since the summer, Ellie and I have been dyeing yarn, and we also have an Etsy shop set up for that at www.jelliebeanyarns.etsy.com. I’m so enjoying doing this. It’s so close to my most loved craft; knitting. And yet it’s so different that I can flit from one thing to the other without getting bored!

Another thing about it that I love is that if I feel like knitting, say, a shawl in purple, I know that I can now go and dye that yarn myself rather than waiting to get to a yarn shop or wool festival before I find my perfect colour.

Anyway, I’ll share some pictures of my yarns with you in a minute, but first off, we had very good news at the weekend! As soon as we choose which yarns to take, we will have our yarn stocked in ‘Big Knitters’ yarn shop in Roath, Cardiff! This is tremendously exciting news, especially as we are such a new little enterprise. We’ve only been dyeing for a few months, but we’ve had such a gratifying response both from people we know and those we’ve only just met. Many of our friends at the local knitting groups have been kind enough to buy some of our yarn. We’ve also been fortunate enough to sell to crafters visiting from the United States as well as, via our Etsy store, to the US and Finland! And every skein I hand over or send off brings little shivers of excitement! It’s thrilling to think that, sometime in the future, this could be a viable, profit-making, income-bringing business for us!

Anyway, here are some of my yarns so far:

Firstly, those which will be listed in the shop in the coming few days;

Witching Hour

Midnight Jade

Autumn Days

And next, those which are already listed in the shop, or have already sold;

Acid Hiss

Blackberry Blueberry

Gryffie Roar

Ocean Swell

I am loving the opportunity to play with all the different colours and see how they all meld together so beautifully. My only problem at the moment is that I want to knit with them all! I have reserved a skein of the ‘Midnight Jade’ for myself (there have to be some perks to this job!!) and I’m designing a shawl with it at the moment. To my credit, I think I’ve only held back four or five skeins for myself so far, all to use to design new knitting patterns, so I think that’s pretty restrained!

This yarn is all British wool, from Blue Faced Leicester sheep in a 4ply or sock weight. The wool is yummy because it takes the colour so well, but it also has a sheen about it which really accentuates your work. We’ve also got new yarn bases in to try, so I’m looking forward to sharing some of them with you soon, just as soon as I’ve planned which colours to use for which bases!

Snowing again

It’s snowing again. The first I knew of it was when I looked out the window and saw snowflakes the size of snowballs falling past my living room window. Some cherubs in the sky are having a little fun with us, methinks! So I rushed outside and took the above picture of my car, in an attempt to capture the size of the snowflakes. The enormous blobs of white aren’t a distortion, the snowflakes really are that big!)As you can see, Tallulah (my car, don’t judge me) is already losing her gorgeous turquoise hues (the colour of the season, apparently, so my car is totally on trend for Spring 2010!) in favour of a fluffy white coat. It’s only five minutes since I took that photo, and already her white coat has doubled or more in thickness.

I had to laugh though, as when I came back in from my impromptu photo session, my BBC news alert flashed up on my screen to tell me that south and east Wales should expect some more heavy snow. Well, duh!

My mum once told me that in Norway, such large snowflakes heralded the beginning or end of a significant snowfall. The snowflakes have got smaller now, although I can’t tell if the ground is too wet for it to settle. I’ll keep you posted!

Just a quick post today…

…as I have lots to do!

I’ve been busily crafting away and have completed a few more projects recently. I’ve not got a photo of my jumper yet, and there’s another project which I can’t share as it’s secret, but I’ve got two things to show you.

GG got a new phone recently, and didnt like the cover that came with it. So, he asked me to make him a phone sock. I even bought him a manly button to do the top up!

This is my new cowl, made from a very lovely lambswool that I found on Ebay! I loved the colour on sight, and love it even more now that it’s knitted up. Hopefully I’ll have some pictures of me actually wearing it by next week, so that you can see it as it actually should be!

Have a happy weekend everyone. I hope that the sun shines on you all, and that they are smiley days!

Some artwork for your viewing pleasure

Given that today is another uncheery grey day I thought I should post something happy. My younger son asked if I could share his artwork with the world (or at least the very small part of it that visits here!) and I was happy to oblige. So, drawn especially for you we have two mini-masterpieces.

He has thoughtfully labelled his creations (although he’s not so good at the word spacing as yet, but that is something we are working on!). I’m sure you can read it – it says ‘it is green and yelow'[sic]. I like the little caterpillar – I think he looks very happy!

The description reads; ‘this thing is a pe of glarsis thut ar [unneeded words] multi coloured wuns’ (this thing is a pair of glasses that are multi coloured ones). I’m not quite sure why he felt the need to draw pictures all over the frames, but I think they look very interesting! I can’t remember what all the pictures were. I know there was a cat, a train, a house, a building, a rocket, a golden retriever, a couple of birds and someone fighting with a light saber.

So, two drawings to brighten your day. He loves his drawing time, and I’m hoping that he will start to do more painting in the near future. He’s had a go at a ‘paint by numbers’ thing with acrylic paint, but it did dry out a bit too quickly so we’ll try him with watercolours next.

Happy Wednesday!

Another wintry walk!

We made the most of the sunny day and went down to the local lake again today. It was much harder to stay upright today, since lots of the snow on the pavements has now turned to ice. I felt exhausted by the time we got home just from the sheer effort of staying on my feet! I’ve got a couple more pictures to share with you before my fingers actually turn to icicles and snap right off!

These frost flowers were on one of my car windows.

The lake was still frozen solid, so the birds were all very glad of any food thrown to them. We chose to throw our bread to the smaller birds in the trees and bushes at the side of the lake, as I expect they don’t get so much attention. Plus, I’m hoping that my robin friend (the one in my header) will have found some of it!

If you want to do a full circuit of the lake, you have no option but to cross this footbridge. Now, it worries some people enough on fine days, given that there’s no handrail. So you can imagine that today, we crossed it very gingerly indeed! I love the shape of the bridge. So much more interesting than a straight bridge!

Completed projects, 2009

Taking a leaf out of Mandi‘s book from the beginning of 2009, I thought I’d like to share with you details of most of the projects I completed in 2009. I was busier than I thought I was!

Missing are a couple of presents waiting to be delivered to the recipients, and a couple of gifts which I forgot to photograph before wrapping – oops! I shall track down the people they now belong to and ask if I can photograph them. I find it makes a handy record for next Christmas, so I don’t double up on presents!

So here is my pictoral review of my crafting year;

brown and gold scarfCassia scarfshortbread roundsblanketpink hatCrochet squares 1Cheese sconesChocolate truffle cakeHeart sconespotholder heat paddishclothspotholdersChocolate truffle cake slice with raspberries

So, 42 (plus a few I’ve not posted pictures for yet -call it 50) projects completed in 2009. Can I beat this for 2010? There’s a challenge – an average of a project a week!

You will be hearing more about some of these projects through January as I do my run down of who had what for Christmas. I’ve missed being able to blog about what I’ve been up to, so you’ll be getting the brunt of the catch up next month, I’m afraid!

I’m sure I’ll say it tomorrow as well, but happy new year to all my readers, and may 2010 be happy, healthy and a nice balance of peaceful and exciting for you all!

Positano and the Amalfi Coast

As I have mentioned before, this wasn’t our first trip to this part of the world. We had a two week holiday in Sorrento back when we were in university, and did a lot of travelling about and sightseeing during that fortnight. So, during this short break, Maria and I were able to revisit our favourite places and a couple that we didn’t see last time, with the minimum of stress.

spray on the rocks

The one place that we had determined to visit, even before landing on Italian soil was Positano. On our last trip we visited Amalfi, and we passed Positano on our ferry trip back to Sorrento. Positano fascinated us; this small town clinging to cliffs, with the houses built virtually in terraces up the side of the mountain. I wanted to see the place at closer quarters, and Maria was happy to oblige. I had only one condition; the journey HAD to be made by sea both going and coming back. When we visited Amalfi in 2000, we travelled by bus all the way round the Sorrentine peninsula and down the Amalfi coast and it was horrific! Don’t get me wrong, the views were sublime but I’m not a good traveller at the best of times and I was feeling so incredibly sick by the time I fell thankfully from the bus and hung over the sea wall in Amalfi. So I determined that never again would I make that road trip!

Liquid lunchThis day trip was much kinder on my stomach though. We made our leisurely way down to the harbour after managing to get into breakfast just before the end of the sitting. As it turned out, the ferries weren’t quite so frequent as we had hoped, and so we had a wait of about an hour and a half before the next one was due to depart. But there are many worse places in the world to have to unexpectedly pass some time than Marina Piccola in Sorrento, so we settled ourselves on a bench and watched the world go by. A few ferries arrived and departed while we watched, and a man did some business from the back of his little van selling fruit and vegetables to the tourists. Ice cream, drinks and granite (like slush puppies) sellers did a brisk trade, and eventually we gave into temptation and headed for a quayside cafe for some early lunch.

Jennie by the ferriesIt was so incredibly relaxing, sitting there with our glasses of wine in the sunshine. Eventually though, the wine was gone (as was the food – it wasn’t a wholly liquid lunch!) and we headed back to the ferry stage. We found ourselves to be at the back of a very long queue, which meant that we had to sit inside for the journey to Positano – still glorious views, but not the opportunities for photography which I would have liked.

I think the boat ride took about an hour and a bit, although you’d have to ask Maria as she has a far superior memory to mine! I just remember a very relaxing time, watching the coast pass by as well as a number of smaller boats. I was surprised by the number of tiny villages we passed, nestled into little natural harbours which were barely more than little nooks and crannies in the cliff face.

PositanoWhen we arrived in Positano, the first impression it made was even more striking than the memory I had been carrying for the past nine years. We stood on the quayside for some time, taking pictures of the ferries, fishing boats and the glorious blue sea. After a little while we decided to explore. We only had a couple of hours to spend before the return ferry trip, but Maria’s guide book had assured her that this would be ample time to explore the vertical town. In the photo to the left, you can just see Maria in her red flowery dress standing in front of a display of pictures. Under the umbrella a man was working on a painting of Positano, and the other pictures were ones which he had painted previously and was offering for sale. They were lovely bright watercolours, typically Mediterranean in style and had I had any wall space left in my house I would have loved to have brought one home.

334 stepsWe hadn’t come to Positano for the shopping though (having already planned plenty of that sort of therapy for following days in Sorrento!) but to explore, so off we went. Of course, exploring in Positano seemed to indicate travel in only one direction – up! So we found a set of steps and started to climb.

Funnily enough (that was sarcasm there, my friends) we were largely alone on our climb up through Positano. We stopped every now and then to catch our breath and exclaim at snatches of blue sea visible over walls, and also at the number of houses only accessible by climbing these very steps. This is the place to go to improve your heart health! Although I dread to think how long it would take me to climb these steps if I were trying to bring my weekly shop and a pushchair along with me.

I was so eager to get to the top of the steps and out to see a proper panorama that I was able to put to the back of my mind the threat of coronary failure and I pushed on. Maria is much slimmer and fitter than me, and was leaping up the steps like a veritable gazelle, although I have to give proper credit where it is due – she climbed all the steps in heels! A wonderwoman! Anyway, eventually we arrived at a road a fair way up the cliff, and decided that some liquid might not be the worst idea in the world, as we had to be fairly dehydrated by this point. And then we turned around and saw this vista;

positano view

It was completely worth the climb. We bought drinks, and could have looked at the view for hours were it not for the fact that the ferry would be leaving in about forty minutes. So, reluctantly, we made our way back down to the harbour. Not having had the breath to do anything other than focus on staying alive on the way up, on the way down I decided to count the number of steps we had climbed. I was somewhat hampered by an Italian man gently pursuing us wanting to talk about the Prince of Wales and what we thought of him and the rest of the royal family! I think I was probably quite rude, as I was both counting and descending the stairs at too fast a pace to hold a conversation! We were amazed though, when we got to the bottom and realised that we had climbed 334 steps in a relatively short space of time.

After a short look at the shops we boarded the return ferry and left Positano. I just have a couple more pictures I’d like to share with you;where we stopped for a drink

This is a photo taken from the ferry as we were leaving Positano. Circled in blue you can see the cafe where we gratefully stopped for a couple of Sprites after our long climb. 334 steps and we hadn’t even got to the top of that particular cliff! Looking at this picture, I’m disappointed now that we didn’t have the time to carry on and climb all the way to the top. However, there’s always next time!

And finally, another picture of some of the steps we climbed;more positano steps

Imagine being presented with this, on a very hot day after already having climbed a couple of hundred steps. It really did seem a little never-ending at this point, but I’m so glad we persevered. You can also see in this picture a couple of entrances to houses on this flight of stairs. Just carrying shopping or children up these steps would wear me out, never mind the preceding hundreds! The reason that Italians have fewer heart attacks has nothing to do with olive oil and everything to do with towns and villages like this!

Sorrento

VesuviusJust a couple of photos today. I am acutely aware that I’ve been meaning to write about my holiday for nearly a month now, but I just don’t seem to have the time! So I’m posting a couple of my favourite pictures.

The first one is the iconic image of Vesuvius from Sorrento that I’ve carried in my memory since I was last in Sorrento in 2000. Strangely, it was a lot larger and closer than I’d remembered, looming over the Bay of Naples. The cragginess of the outline only served as a reminder that this isn’t an extinct volcano, and could become active and extremely dangerous to the thousands who live on the slopes and in the surounding area at any time.

Jennie in Sorrento

This photo is to prove that I was actually there, and that I’m not just using a friend’s pictures! I think this might have been taken on the first day, which would explain the lack of beaming smile – I was worn out! All the travelling took its toll on us and we were asleep very early on that first night. Back to the photo; I’m standing by railings which are on the edge of the cliff on which Sorrento sits. Some of it (the old and new harbours, for example) are at the bottom of the cliffs, but the majority of the town is many metres above sea level. From the sea, we could see lots of staircases cut into the cliff face leading from the hotels at the top down to their private beaches. One way to lose weight whilst on holiday, and ensure that you get your daily cardio workout!

Vesuvius at sunset

And finally, for today, Vesuvius at sunset, it’s peak masked by a blanket of cloud. Had I been a proficient artist I could have captured the colours in the sky much more effectively than did my camera, but you’ll have to make do with this! Isn’t it beautiful? We stood and watched the sunset for ages, having gone down to the old harbour in the almost village-suburb of Marina Grande speciafically to see it from such a good angle. In fact I think that we saw Vesuvius pretty much each day at this time, from various viewpoints.

More to come, I promise. I’ve lots of lovely pictures of our trip to Positano, the local harbour festival, the Amalfi Coast from the boat trip we took and of our hotel. However, at the current rate I’ll be lucky if I get all of that written by Christmas! Oh well, please bear with me!

Catch up time starts now!

Oh my goodness, nearly three weeks have gone by since I last managed to write anything here, and so much has happened to write about! I think a few updates will be needed to get back up to date.

First then, my best friend, Maria, celebrated her 30th birthday earlier this month. She had a fairytale themed party, and we all dressed up.

Jen and Maria at party

Maria dressed up as the blue fairy from Pinocchio (I can’t remember her name, sorry!) and I was a princess. It was nice to wear a big posh dress for once – much swooshing was done by all the ladies!

Princesses

Almost everyone really got into the spirit of the themed evening – this is Maria with her mother and younger sister, all looking beautiful!

Maria’s mother put on a tremendous spread of food – many of us feasted for a few days after the party,as well as on the night itself! And a friend of the family made the birthday cake, which was tremendous;

Maria's cake

All but the bottom layer was gluten free, as of course Maria and her sister and mother have coeliac disease and can’t eat gluten. But look at the decoration and attention to detail – it’s the ultimate dream cake for so many little girls (and big ones – Maria was thrilled!).

All in all, the party was excellent. The DJ, Jumpin’ James, was excellent. He did an hour’s entertainment for the children before the main disco started, and then played all the music that Maria and her sister had requested, together with impromptu requests from other guests. I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed the music at a disco so much. Usually I find that the music is far too cheesy, but Jumpin’ James played a great mixture of pop and more rock-y tunes like ‘Queen’. I don’t think I’ve been to a fancy dress party where people have made more effort than this one – the number of people who had dressed up far outnumbered those who hadn’t, and the standard of the costumes was very high. My younger son saved up all through the summer for his costume (he dressed up as Buzz Lightyear) so I think he deserves extra credit for that! The children thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing, especially being allowed to stay up until past ten o’clock! Maria enjoyed it so much that she almost immediately started talking about a Hallowe’en party!