Sunday 12 June 2022

Pictures of nice things

Handmade lampwork glass beads by Laura Sparling

First up, beads. These ones are called 'Fiesta'.

I absolutely hated these when I took them out of the kiln. I was like, "What the hell was I thinking with these colours?!"

Handmade lampwork glass beads by Laura Sparling

I still disliked them as I was cleaning them but when I’d got them all strung together I changed my mind. They're very bright and zingy.

Handmade lampwork glass beads by Laura Sparling

Those were all the beads I got made this week. I've had one of those wasting-a-lot-of-gas-and-glass weeks where I sit there trying to make something but my mind doesn't know what to make so I end up making rubbish and getting annoyed with myself. Hopefully next week will be different.

I'm still pootling about in the garden. Things are growing and doing stuff.

The sweet peas have produced their first flowers:

Sweet peas in the morning sunshine

One of my sea holly flowers has got a definite blue tinge going on:

Sea holly - 'Big Blue'

Remus, my dwarf lupin, has yet to flower but I reckon he'll bloom any day now. The wind snapped his first flower clean off so he's a bit behind, you see. Anyway, his leaves are very pleasing to look at, especially after rain:

Raindrops on lupin leaf

My tomato plant is doing a tomato:

Tomato plant - 'Matina'

My little lavender plant that I got from the local greengrocer is looking and smelling lovely:


And the Hungarian Black chilli plant that I got from the local health food place (a lovely little cooperative that smells of hemp, dried pulses and smugness) has a few chillies on it which start off as these fabulous glossy purple flowers:

Chilli plant - 'Hungarian Black'

I've also got various seedlings growing in trays on the windowsill and I've become ridiculously obsessed with them all, making sure they're happy and warm and not too dry or too wet. I have been reading SO much about gardening it's untrue. I said I was taking gardening seriously this time and I am; I'm determined to create an actual garden. 

When I'm not concerning myself with my garden I'm nosing about at other people's gardens. The lady who lives opposite us was in her front garden planting out some seedlings last weekend and then she went away somewhere. (Yes, I’m one of those people who notices things like neighbours going away. I like to think of it as ‘being vigilant and observant’ because that sounds better than ‘being a nosy cow’.) Anyhow, yesterday morning I was doing the washing up (our kitchen looks out onto a footpath and then her front garden) and I noticed all the new plants she'd put in were looking beyond droopy. I went and fetched my watering can and headed over the way to give them a drink. I don't even know what this neighbour's name is but I felt so bad for her plants, and I felt weird for interfering in her gardening matters, but I couldn't bear to see those little seedlings dying of thirst. After I watered the neighbour's garden I popped out to Homebase to get some pots for my lavender and rosemary and by the time I'd returned all of the neighbour lady's wilted seedlings were upright and looking happy again. Hurrah!

In crochet news I'm still working on the Twister blanket. Nigel, who never used to be a lap cat but is now sometimes a lap cat, likes to come and inspect the blanket proceedings from time to time.

Nigel helping with my crochet blanket

I said I was reading lots about gardening, and that's mostly reference books and websites, but I'm also currently reading a non-fiction book about gardening called Rhapsody in Green by Charlotte Mendelson. Marian Keyes mentioned it at the end of her last book Again, Rachel (which is absolutely wonderful, by the way) and I cannot put it down! Charlotte's book is so engaging and funny. If you like gardening, and even if you don't, I highly recommend it.

Friday 3 June 2022

Happy beads

Handmade lampwork glass beads by Laura Sparling

My headache stayed away yesterday and I got this set of jolly-looking beads made.

Handmade lampwork glass beads by Laura Sparling

There's something really pleasing to my eye about this colour combination of orange, teal and orange-red. It was inspired by a photo in one of my Sarah Raven catalogues of some orange and red dahlias in a teal glass vase.

Handmade lampwork glass beads by Laura Sparling

Also pleasing to my eye are my violas. These little devils just keep on flowering and they're so lovely.


If you're in the UK I hope you're enjoying the Platinum Jubilee weekend. I'm no royalist and I'm pretty indifferent to the monarchy but there is something very nice about all the street parties and barbecues that people are having. I spoke to a lady this morning who said she was about to make a massive trifle that will serve forty people for her street party tomorrow. That is my kind of trifle!

Thursday 2 June 2022

Stupid headache and other things

Handmade lampwork glass beads by Laura Sparling

More spotty beads. Spotty beads are my go-to when I'm not firing on all cylinders. This past week I've had a nagging migraine-type headache that I can't fully shift. Just when I think it's gone it makes another appearance. I did that thing that they always tell you to do and went and spoke to my local pharmacist about it, who told me that I need to go to my GP if I want medication that'll actually work. Helpful. I'm convinced the headache is hormome-related as I've had the same thing happen at the same time for the past few months, it's just this time it's being stubborn. Hormones, eh?! I never mess with them but they mess with me.


I saw these glorious poppies on my way to the Post Office and pharmacy yesterday. There's a stretch of pavement where they grow, along with beautiful dusky purple ones, where the pavement meets the gardens of the houses that line the road. I nicked a couple of poppy seed heads from here last year and hopefully I'll be seeing some of the purple ones in my own garden in the near future.

Talking of the garden, we lost both of our fences to storm Whateveritsnamewas earlier in the year and in April we had them replaced with swanky new ones.

The posts are stainless steel and will hopefully last for many years. The garden has never looked this tidy (the old fences always made it look a bit shit) so now I'm determined to do actual gardening. I absolutely love the idea of gardening and I have tried so many times to grow things but it never quite works out and I get despondent, but I'm trying my very best this time.

I planted a sea holly at the weekend. I fell in love with these at the Botanic Gardens a few years ago and I've finally got one.

Sea holly - 'Big Blue'

This is a variety called 'Big Blue' and, fingers crossed, blue is what it should be in a couple of months' time. My garden assistant Nigel oversaw the hole-digging.

In crochet news, I'm halfway through yet another blanket.

Mosaic crochet blanket in progress

At least it's not a doily! I don't think I ever blogged about the doilies but for almost a year I've been fully obsessed with crocheting complex-yet-utterly-useless-to-me doilies.

Handmade crochet doily

Handmade crochet doily

I have a ridiculous stack of them and I put some of them on Etsy because I simply have no need for them. I thoroughly enjoy the making of them but once they're done I consign them to the doily stack and that's that.

Handmade crochet doily

Handmade crochet doily

I've sold a few of them to people who are actually using them, so it's nice to know that they're out in the world fulfilling their potential. I've posted just a couple of doily photos here but if you want to see more there are lots on my Instagram crochet account - joinwithaslipstitch.

But yes, back to the blanket. It's an overlay mosaic crochet pattern called 'The Twister' by GetYerHookOn. I'm using Stylecraft Special DK in the shades teal and silver.

Mosaic crochet blanket in progress

One of the things I like about mosaic crochet blankets is how you get to hide the ends in the border - no sewing them all in - which can only be a bonus.

Anyway, if you'd like the beads at the very top of this post, they're currently in my shop, along with some pairs of white and yellow spotties ...

Handmade lampwork glass bead pair

... and some ethereal teal and blue nuggets.

Handmade lampwork glass bead nuggets

Time for me to make a brew - which involves boiling a pan of water in the olden style because the kettle literally blew up yesterday and we're waiting for a new one to arrive - and to switch the kiln on. My headache is currently hibernating (I hope I've not just tempted fate) so perhaps today will be a non-spotty bead day? We shall see.