Photo Challenge: Summer

We’re having some seasonal themes over the next few weeks for the Lens Artists Photo Challenges. This week is summer.

So what photos express summer to me? Well, of course I could just say summer runs from June to August and pick out photos taken during those months. But I’m going to think about what says summer to me. Sights, sounds, smells, that just scream summer…

Obviously, being me, one of the first things that screams summer are damselflies and dragonflies. You do see some in the spring, but summer is the main season for them. When I visit Cors Caron on a hot summer’s day there are dragons and damsels everywhere.

Black Darter (male) at Cors Caron last July
Black Darter (female) at Cors Caron last July
Emerald Damselfly (male) at Cors Caron last July

What else says summer to me? The sound of grasshoppers chirping …

The smell of Buddleia blooms on the air, and the crowd of butterflies (and the occasional moth) visiting …

Painted Lady
Red Admiral
Hummingbird Hawk Moth

Another thing usually associated with summer is my daughter riding out in the fields for competitions and lessons, and giving me some heart-stopping moments!

We usually visit my sister in the summer and in recent years have gone to Compton Acres every time. I take loads of photos of all the flowers, but one thing you can guarantee from year to year is the waterlilies in the pond!


Looking forward to seeing what everyone has come up with for this theme πŸ™‚

On the Hook, 4/7/20

This week has been mainly focused on the final stages of the Pandemonium CAL. It is now completely finished! I haven’t done any other crochet this week – making a border all the way around a very large blanket is rather time consuming!

So here it is. The first few photos were from part way through the border and then the sillier ones at the end are my celebration of the completely finished blanket πŸ™‚

Here’s what I wrote on Facebook last night when I finished:

On a serious note, this blanket has been such a special creation. There are CALs and then there are CALs like this one… where there has been such joy, despite all that is going on in the world. This blanket is precious and will be loved and snuggled under for many years to come. It shows that beauty and hope can come out of darkness and fear. You might think it’s just a pretty blanket, but I think for most of us here, it’s more than that. It’s been a sanity saver, a joy bringer, it’s given us purpose and soothed our souls.Thank you from me and Bobby the cat x

I guess I’d better get on and get my daughter’s cardigan done now! It’s going to be so strange not working on the blanket anymore.

Surprises in the Garden

I get a lot of surprises when taking photos of small things. I often find myself looking at a pretty flower and discover that there is a tiny creature on board. Sometimes I don’t notice the little creatures until later on when I’m looking at the photos I took!

I had a look out in the garden this morning to see if there were any surprises in store for me…

First pleasant surprise was that my Flowering Rush (Butomus umbellatus) in the pond has its first flower open! I got this plant for my birthday in 2018 and this year is the first time it sent up a flower stalk. It has been a slow process waiting for the buds to develop so it was a lovely surprise when I checked it today and there was a flower πŸ™‚

First flower among many
Close up of the flower

I had a look around the other plants growing round my pond to see if there were any surprise visitors around the place…

I found a Mirid Bug (a Potato Capsid, I think) visiting a Knapweed flower:

And a rather damp Soldier Beetle taking a moment on an unopened Scabious:

Nearby on the stalk I spotted this little Leaf Hopper:

The Hemp Agrimony looked quiet at first, but then I spotted this Mirid Bug (a different sort to the one on the Knapweed):

I saw the brownish Mirid Bug with my eyes, but then when looking at the photo afterwards, I realise there is another bug (a green one) on the right of the image – you can just see it’s bottom. Might be another Potato Capsid.

I took a photo of the proliferation of Yellow Loosestrife flowers, and a surprise visitor appeared there too. Just a fly of some sort (top right)!

I then discovered a Self-Heal plant that has popped up out of nowhere:

And finally, we have some very bright flowers, smelling lovely, on a Buddleia which has surprised me by growing in a crack between paving slabs just outside my living room window!

Inspired by the Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge: Surprise.

On the Hook, 27/6/20

This week has seen us reach the end of the main parts of the Pandemonium CAL. All that is left now is the border. It’s a strange mixture of happy and sad. This is how I described it in a post in our Facebook group:

It’s like a really good book, where you are so involved, you can’t stop reading, can’t wait to find out what happens next. But at the same time you don’t want it to end, because then you’ll have to leave that bubble and return to the real world.

So, let’s have a look at the progress this week. Here’s how it looked at the end of part 25:

I also created a slideshow video of all the parts up to this point (1-25):

So that was part 25… now on to the last part before the border – part 26:

When I was crocheting the last few stitches of part 26 I did a little video:

And here’s another video showing the whole blanket at the end of part 26:

Tomorrow we’ll start working on the border, which could take quite a while as the blanket is now pretty huge! Exciting, but sad, but happy, but …

The only other crochet I’ve done this week is on my daughter’s cardigan. Progress doesn’t look that impressive, but here it is:

Quiet Moments

Quiet moments are my favourite kind of moments. If you are trying to take photos of potentially skittish small creatures, quiet moments are essential. Sometimes I find myself holding my breath as I creep closer to try and get that shot. Sometimes they pose nicely, sometimes they flit away as soon as the camera is raised!

Here are a few quiet moments with creatures found around my garden yesterday:

A Meadow Brown butterfly taking a rest on a leaf
A Red Admiral butterfly showing off its wings beautifully for me
A Green Shieldbug observing me as I observe him!
Mr Shieldbug decides he’s not that interested, and gives me his back view instead, which is actually rather interesting
A delicate Lacewing that fluttered around me and alighted on some grass flowers to allow me a quick shot
A frog in my pond, enjoying his own quiet moment, almost hidden away amongst the abundance of wildflower plants

I hope these photos have given you a quiet moment, just observing, and enjoying πŸ™‚

On the Hook, 20/6/20

This week has seen the completion of parts 23 and 24 of the Pandemonium CAL. It’s exciting to see it near finishing, but it’s sad too as I will miss it when it’s finished.

Here’s part 23:

As you can see in part 23 we continued with more loops (Jacob’s ladder) and reached the last loop of the set of 4.

In part 24 we finished off that set of loops and started some granny clusters:

Other things I’ve been working on this week are my ombre jumper and my daughter’s cardigan. I was just doing the jumper between Pandemonium parts, but my daughter reminded me that she would actually like to get the chance to wear her new cardigan this summer please! πŸ™‚

On the jumper I’ve reached the bottom and I’m now adding the rib. It’s interesting as it’s being worked sideways along the bottom of the jumper, attaching as it goes. I changed it a little as it was meant to be slip stitches and I’m using dcs (UK terms). I liked the effect of the slip stitch version but it was hard work as it was tight and I decided DCs would be easier.

So although I was at quite an exciting point on the jumper, I had to go back to the cardigan! We’ve now reached the first armhole. It’s funny working on 2 items which have such drastically different construction. The jumper is top down and the cardigan is going from side to side.

One Single Flower

The Lens-Artists Photo Challenge this week is ‘One Single Flower’. I have many photos of flowers, but I decided to take some new photos specially for this post. This is an Osteospermum flower that I brought indoors to photograph. It’s rather damp outside which is why this little flower has a very wet centre. I’ve deliberately over-exposed these shots as I felt it enabled the focus to be just on this one simple flower. In the last shot it enables you to see the detail of the flower’s centre.

It’s not perfect (nor is my photography!), nothing ever is, but I hope you see the beauty in it nonetheless.

On the Hook, 13/6/20

This week I’ve completed parts 21 and 22 of the Pandemonium CAL, and had a change of heart regarding my new ombre yarn.

So, part 21 of the CAL came with some contrasting coloured bobbles, and some zig-zagging v-stitch:

Part 22 is teasing us with the start of some more loopy bits (otherwise known as Jacob’s Ladder). If you look to the bottom left corner of the first picture you’ll see the first time we did loops, and then there’s another one about half way to the first dragonflies. I really enjoy the effect of these loops, so looking forward to part 23 tomorrow, where there will be more loops to go with this first row.

I still find it amazing how we can take a bunch of balls of yarn, and make it into a myriad of things. This is how most of the yarn for this blanket looked:

And now it is transformed into this beautiful blanket πŸ™‚

Sadly we are now drawing towards the end of this CAL. It’s going to be a mixture of emotions when it’s finished – joy to finish a beautiful creation, but sad to know it’s over.

In other news … I said I was going to make another blanket out of the ombre yarn I got from Aldi. I was working on it, and as I looked at the colours moving through my hands, I had a change of heart. I want to wear these colours! So I stopped and frogged it. I looked on Ravelry and found a pattern called the Amelia Raglan by Colleen Webster and now I am making that instead:

It might be a bit too warm to wear at the moment, but it will keep πŸ™‚ It’s working up really quickly as I’m using a 6.5mm hook, and the colours are just looking delicious. There is no turning in this pattern, just slip-stitch join and continue in the same direction. There is a clever trick of decreasing at the beginning of a row and increasing at the end every few rows in the body so that the side seam doesn’t wander. I think I’ll use this in any future creations that don’t turn even if it isn’t in the pattern.

A Difficult Journey

I’m on a journey, as I imagine many white people are right now, of learning and understanding how I am part of the problem of systemic racism in our world and what I can do about it.

There are no frills, no pretty flowers to soften the harsh truth. I must walk this difficult path to improve myself and my world.

It’s a stark and painful journey, with shame that burns and makes me want to stop.

There is nothing to hide behind.

No shortcuts, no easier route.

All around me is the evidence of my own white privilege.

But it’s a necessary journey, I need to follow this trail to the end, no matter how far away that might feel.

I hope that as I and others walk this path, the skies will brighten, and new growth will come.

And we won’t stop this journey, even when it looks like things are getting better, we must continue to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

This post was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, and the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #100 – the long and winding road, as well as by the thoughts and words welling up within this white-privileged heart of mine.

If you would like to take action as a white person, here are some ways you can help. If you’d like to join me in educating yourself, you might want to read (and work on) Me and White Supremacy: How to Recognise Your Privilege, Combat Racism and Change the World by Layla Saad (Amazon link).

On the Hook, 6/6/20

This week has seen the Pandemonium CAL get out of the teens, as we’ve done parts 19 and 20. It’s getting really big. Won’t be long until it covers the full length of the sofa!

Here’s part 19:

Big bobbles and some back and front post work πŸ™‚

Now for part 20:

Some more cute little flowers! πŸ™‚ These ones are green and pink like the first ones were, but it’s a different shade of both colours so they’re not exactly the same.

As usual, looking forward to seeing what comes next in part 21 tomorrow!

In other news this week, I’ve gone back to the lilac cardigan (briefly), started a cardigan for my daughter, and started another Pandemonium blanket in self striping aran weight yarn!

Lilac cardigan now looks like this:

It has shrunk a lot, and is now growing again, without any shaping, as I think that will work better for me.

This is the start of my daughter’s new cardigan:

She wanted a long, casual, light, summery cardigan in a neutral colour, and I found this pattern on Ravelry. It’s called the Sophie Cardi by Eva Pack. It’s interesting as it’s actually going sideways rather than your usual top down or bottom up makes. As you can see in the first pic, I’m creating the bottom rib as I go along. I stopped at this point as I only had just under a ball of this yarn left over from her skirt (it’s the bottom stripe colour), but now some more yarn has arrived so I can continue (between Pandemonium parts of course). It’s a lovely texture with griddle stitch (tr,dc,tr,dc…).

And finally, Pandemonium blanket number 2… I saw some lovely colour changing yarn on the Aldi website. It took a very long time to get here, but now it’s finally here I couldn’t resist starting another Pandemonium blanket and seeing how it looks with colour changing yarn, rather than changing the colour deliberately. It’s a thicker yarn than I’ve been using for my first blanket so it’s going to end up even bigger! πŸ™‚

The yarn is called Knit and Purl Ombre Yarn in shade Geode. I got 6 200g balls for only Β£19.99, which is very cheap when you compare it to some other colour changing cake yarn. For example for the same amount of Caron Cakes I’d have to pay around Β£45! Perhaps the quality of the yarn might not be as good, but it’s going to be a blanket not clothing, so I don’t care πŸ™‚ This one might end up replacing the blanket I started before as a sofa blanket to stop the leather feeling cold!

Right that’s it for my crochet update. Hope those of you reading who like to craft have had a craft-filled week πŸ™‚ By the way, can you believe it – it’s June and I have posted a crochet update every single week for the whole of this year so far!