Thursday, 30 April 2015

Ode to a daffodil

A lot of daffodils have featured on my blog over the two months.  A lot!  There were crocheted daffodils, daffodils in the garden, daffodils in the house, garlands of daffodils, daffodil poems and daffodils that I crocheted for work.

Quite a lot of daffodilling you will agree I am sure.  Yes, I did just make up the word daffodilling!  It is a fantastic word isn't it!!

So, as it is the last day of April and realistically the last day this year when I can, in all good conscience, mention daffodils again, I thought that it was only fitting to end the month on the subject of daffodils!

Todays offering is a little different though.  You might remember that I was commissioned to make fifteen crocheted daffodils for Basildon Park.  The reason that I was asked to crochet daffodils was for the Daffodil Festival that was held over Easter.  We try and always have a "childrens trail" of some kind, which is essentially an object or picture in each room for children to look out for.  The crocheted daffodils were the trail for the Daffodil Festival and they were all over the house - the daffodils that is.  And visitors.  And children!

There were of course beautiful arrangements of real daffodils on display, beautifully displayed by our wonderful florist and house steward, and his flower team.  I hope that as we move from April to May you will enjoy one last look at some daffodils!

We have a sign - at child height - so that they children know what they are looking out for in the house.

The crocheted daffodils were easy to find in some rooms, and harder in others.

The daffodil in the picture above was leaning against a mirror, which is why I also appear in the background of the picture!

We even had daffodils in the fireplaces!!

The arrangements of real daffodils were of course the real reason that visitors came, not to see my crochet!

This is the staircase hall which was all set up for a wonderful spring picnic, doesn't it look inviting.

Everywhere you look - daffodils!!!

There were even daffodils in the bathrooms!  The ones above in Lady Iliffe's Bathroom, and the ones below in the guest bathroom.  Yes, they are standing in the toilet and yes, Lady Iliffe really did have those wicker chair things over each toilet in the house!  Sorry to say the T word twice in one post!

Although we have come to the end of daffodil season that doesn't mean the end of flowers.  There are lots of other things blooming and I have a blossomy post planned for tomorrow as well.  It seems that this week has turned into horticulture week on my blog with all of these planty posts doesn't it!  Must be the time of year.  I can't think why....

Update - 30/4/2015 - When I wrote this post yesterday I had no idea that a devastating fire had broken out at another National Trust property called Clandon Park.  You can read more about it here.  I do not have any information about the fire other than what I have read online and seen on the news, but it appears that the house has been devastated by the fire, no one was injured in the fire which is a blessing.  As this post is about a National Trust property it seemed only right to mention it.  My thoughts go to all at Clandon Park.


p.s. Just a reminder in case you didn't know, I work as a volunteer at Basildon Park, but am not sponsored by them in any way to write about the house or anything else National Trust related.  I just get to enjoy working there!

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Crocheted Cherry Brooch Tutorial and Giveaway

Do you remember that I recently went to meet a group of great bloggers?  Some of us made little gifts to give each other and I decided to make some Cherry Brooches to share.

It started out as a great idea.  I had two days to make one for everyone.  Simple yes...

Well simple yes in terms of making one of these brooches - I am going to show you how in just a moment - but simple in terms of making lots of them in just two days...

No, not so simple!  I did it though and everyone really seemed to like them.  If you can do basic crochet you can make one of these brooches, just don't try to make loads all at once in a rush!!

Here is my pattern and tutorial for making these brooches.  Follow down to the end for a giveaway to one lucky reader!


This is my pattern, although I am sure that there are many other patterns out there, this is what I worked out.  Full pattern, chart and details at the end of the post.  All terms are UK.  Please credit me if you use this pattern.

Make sure that you have a long tail when you start your foundation chain.  To make the leaves chain 19 then DC into second chain from hook - where my needle is.

Continue crocheting the rest of the first side of the first leaf.

Continue along until you have two half leaves.  Then chain one before starting along the second side of the leaf.  Tie off and leave a long tail.  Your leaves should look like the picture below with a tail at either end.

Take one tail - it doesn't matter which one - and thread onto your darning needle.  You then need to do a "running stitch" down the middle of the leaves.  When you get to the other end turn your work and sew the remainder of the tail into the back of the leaves as you would normally finish off any crochet work.

Repeat with the other tail filling in the spaces between the running stitches and again sew off the rest of the tail.  Your leaves should now look like this.

You then need to move on to making the cherries.  After all you need cherries for a cherry brooch!  Again, leave long tails at the start and end of each cherry.  Chain four, slip into first stitch making a ring.  Chain two then TR into ring 18 times.  You should then have the chain 2 and 18 TR's.  Slip into second stitch of the chain 2.  Tie off and leave a long tail.  Repeat so that you have two circles.

Then you need to close the hole up.  Thread the tail from the middle ring onto your needle and then work into the back of the TR stitches and keep working round, pulling gently as you go.

This will close the hole up.  You can see below one that has been sewn up and one that hasn't.

This is what the front looks like after sewing up.  After you have done this for both cherries, sew in the outside tail on ONE of the cherries only.

Thread the other cherries tail in to your needle and use this to sew the two cherries together, you can see where I have done this.  Make sure that they are secure, although they don't need a lot of stitches.  Sew in the rest of the tail.

Voila, a pair of cherries!

Then you need to make the stems.  Using the green yarn of course and again with long tails at the start and end of the stem.  Join at the point shown with the needle in the picture below and chain 8.

To join the stem to the leaves you then need to do a stitch over the middle point of the leaves - where I have shown.  Then work another 8 chains.

Join the chain to the other cherry at the corresponding, but opposite point.

Then thread on one tail and work up the stitches of the chain - this makes the stem a little sturdier.

When you reach the leaves, do a stitch through the edge of the leaf.  This just holds everything nicely together.  Thread through to the back of the leaves and sew in the rest of the tail.  Repeat for the other tail/stem.  Sew on your brooch pin.

Voila!  One Crocheted Cherry Brooch!!!

To make a brooch you will need the following:-

Yarn in two colours for the leaves (Yarn A) and the cherries (Yarn B).  I used Wendy Supreme 100% Cotton DK in shades 1965 and 1949

A brooch pin

A darning needle - this is really important, you will see why!

Crochet hook - 4mm

All terms are UK

This is no doubt a variation of other patterns out there, but this is what I worked out for myself.  You are welcome to use my pattern - of course - but please credit me for this.  There is a chart for the leaves and a full pattern.

To make leaves.  Using Yarn A, leave long tail, CH 19
DC into 2nd CH from hook
*Into each of next CHs work one stitch into each chain in this order, HTR, TR, DTR
Into next CH work 2 x DTR
Continue one stitch into one CH, DTR, TR, HTR*
DC into each of the next two stitches
Repeat from * to *
DC into remaining CH stitch
CH 1
Work back along the other side of foundation CH
DC, repeat from * to * DC into each of the next two stitches, repeat from * to * SL into end of CH
Tie off work, leave long tail.
Using tail running stich down middle of leaves, sew in on back of leaves.
Repeat using other tail and work into gaps of first row of running stitch.

To make cherries.  Using Yarn B,  leaving a long tail, CH 4, SL into first CH to make loop.  CH2, TR 18 times into ring.  SL into second CH.  Tie off work, leave long tail.

Sew up centre hole in each cherry using tail.  Sew in other tail on one cherry.  Using other tail sew cherries together.

To make stems for cherries.  Using Yarn A leave long tail, join into top middle TR of one cherry.  CH 8, SL into centre of leaves, CH 8, SL into top middle TR of other cherry.  Tie off work leaving a long tail.

Using one tail at a time thread between CH's of stem of one cherry, sew into edge of leaf.  Sew remainder of tail into back of leaves.  Repeat for other leaf. 

Sew on brooch back.

You may make as many brooches as you like from my pattern and give them away or sell them, but please credit me with the pattern and design.  You may not sell or reproduce my pattern.

This is how I wrapped the brooches to share with my fellow bloggers.

You can see some of them holding them up!

I hope that you will have fun making your own brooches, but in case you are not a crocheter, I have one brooch to give away to a lucky reader!

To enter the giveaway leave a comment on this post.  Entry will close at 7 am UK time on Wednesday 6th May 2105.  The winner will be announced the following day - 7th May 2015 which is Election Day in the UK!

There are a couple of rules - just to be fair to all - only one entry per person, you can only enter by leaving a comment on this post, the winning name will be drawn by me from my giant teacup and I would love it if you were a follower of my blog too.  Winner will have 7 days after draw is announced to get in touch to claim their brooch.  My contact details will be in the announcement post.


Good luck and happy crocheting!!


Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Abbotsbury Subtropical Garden

On the first day of our holiday we visited Abbotsbury Subtropical Garden.  It is somewhere that I have wanted to go to for many years and finally we made it!

Originally it was the kitchen garden for the castle of the Countess of Ilchester and was established in 1765.  Since then it has been developed into the 30 acre garden that is here today.  It is filled with rare and exotic plants from around the world.  After the great storm in 1990 a lot of restoration had to be undertaken and the opportunity was taken to introduce many new and unusual flowers and plants to the garden.

Now, you might want to grab a cuppa and just sit back and enjoy as there are a lot of photos here!  I have added a few annotations here and there and will sum up at the end!  Please bear with me and remember that I have cut this down from several hundred pictures!!

The gardens are stunning and this is the sight that greets you on your arrival into the garden.  Isn't it wonderful!

Everywhere really does look so tropical, it is just like being in paradise, but without the long flights!

There were soooooo many beautiful flowers everywhere.  I took way too many pictures, so if you think this is a lot....

This beauty cannot be ignored though can it.

Wendy, this mossy log is just for you!  I thought of you as soon as I saw it.  I hope that your mossy log will do well again this year!

You can just see the chapel on the hill between the trees and you can read more about it from the information sign below.

See, I told you I took a lot of flower pictures!!!

There were masses of ferns everywhere as well.  We are building a collection of ferns in our garden so we really enjoyed seeing these.  The tree below is a type of cherry, and the bark is fabulous isn't it.

A new feature at the gardens for this year is the Rope Bridge.  It is quite long and comes up really high either side.  The sides were at my head height as I walked across.

Yes, we made it all the way across!

And we didn't have to turn back!  Just as well really.  At least we weren't crossing shark or crocodile infested waters!  Just the odd waterlilly!!

These ferns are shuttlecock ferns.  Very aptly named aren't they!

There were several of these log benches which had amazing carved animals on them.

Aren't they wonderful!

You can see these maps of the garden all around the place, but we just wandered and were not worried about where we went.  There was an arrowed route to see the very best of the garden at that time as well.  I imagine that changes seasonally.

This pool looked almost prehistoric to me.

With the island of tree ferns and the fallen tree left leaning into the pond and with plants growing on it.

There were a lot of these plants.  They are called Gunnera and grow to an enormous size as you will see in a moment.

Here you can see hubby's arm.  It doesn't even reach all the way across the leaf and this is not full size.  The stems get taller than a person!  Hubby keeps wanting to have one of these plants, and I have to remind him that we don't have an acre or so to plant one!!  One day in his dreams perhaps.

This tree above in the picture below this sign is a Cork Oak that you can read more about below.

This is the gardeners "bothy" or tool shed.

An unusual sight is the Kookaburra's.  I had no idea that these birds were here and we kept hearing them, but could not work out what was making the very unusual noise that is made by a Kookaburra.

These are here as part of a rescue program.

That is it for the walk around the gardens!  I hope that you enjoyed it and got a flavour of what the gardens have to offer.

All in all I would definitely recommend visiting the garden to anyone, whether you have a love of plants or not.  It is just a great day out and I imagine would be great for children and adults alike as there is so much to see and do.  The ice cream is delicious too!!

I expect that later in the year it is even lusher and greener as the trees get more leaves and no doubt there are other great flowers to see as well.

There is also the famous swannery nearby to visit, plus the village of Abbotsbury, so lots to see and do.

So if you are ever in the area or have the chance to visit, I would definitely recommend it!

This is not a sponsored post by the way, we paid full price to get in - which was annoying as when we got home I discovered that there was a half price entry voucher in my gardening magazine.  Grrr!  Only a small irritation though.

If I get the chance to go again with my half price voucher I most certainly will!!