Hello again folks. I 'll start with a little smile this time. I was walking around the garden the other evening, trying to get some plant photos, though I had left it too late really so they are rather dark, but every time I turned around, these two furry friends were sitting right behind me, both with soppy grins on their faces. They are like a pair of mischievous children sometimes. You can't help but love them!
The photo I was trying to take was this one. It is our Strelizia Nicolai, or black bird of paradise plant, which has flowered again this year.
Although I took this on a grey evening, it does show the shape of the flower very well, and you can clearly see the little bird flying from the heart of it. We have a love-hate relationship with this plant, as we would both prefer to have the more common orange and purple flowering strelizia, but this is considered exotic and would be very expensive to buy, so as long as it keeps flowering, we will keep a corner in the garden for it.
It starts with a fat deep purple-black bud from which the white 'wings' emerge, and then a long lilac blue tongue, forming the head and back of the bird. But it also continually drips 'goo' which attracts the flies, and we are not so keen on that bit. Once it is open, a second bud appears from the back of the first one, and some years it keeps producing more and more until there is a long stem of flowers, and it seems to have got off to a good start this year.
Another fairly exotic flower that thrives out here is this one.
Known as the Crown of Thorns, it does indeed have wicked thorns all over its stems, but it also has the capacity to flower throughout the year. I used to have small ones of these as house plants in UK, but here they are happier outside. This one has been moved twice because it outgrew its pot, and the way it is growing, it will have to move up a size of pot again soon. It will be done with great caution because of the thorns, but it provides such wonderful patches of colour around the yard, I can forgive it a few scratches.
And while on plants, last week I showed you a palm we have, that surprised us this year by sending out a long head of buds. Well I have done some research on it during the week, and it turns out it is commonly known as a Ponytail Palm, or the Elephant's Foot Palm, the second one because it has a large bulbous swelling at the base of its stem.
Apparently it is native to Mexico, but the most interesting thing I learned about it is that it doesn't flower until it is forty years old! (What you might call a 'late bloomer') So, not only did my friend have it before me, but someone else must have had it before her too. Whether, like the agave or century cactus that is found everywhere around here, once it has flowered, it dies, or whether it will go on growing and producing flowers each year, I can only wait and see.
My flower has not yet opened. I thought it would but we have had a whole week of grey, windy and often wet days, but even so, it has opened a lot further than it was last week. Each little piece of the bud, that was just showing several tiny, tight flower buds, now has a stem of separate buds coming from it, so I am sure, given a few days of sunshine, it will reveal all.
I am very happy to say that the sun has indeed returned to us today. It was grey this morning, and at lunch time I thought I was probably being a bit over-optimistic as I filled my lines with washing, while the storm clouds were turning the sky from grey to black, but by this afternoon the clouds had broken up, and now the sky couldn't be bluer, and I am sitting by my open window and enjoying the warmth of the sun on my bare arms. The minute I opened the window, Arwen went out onto the warm tiles of the window sill and she hasn't moved since!
As the weather this week has not encouraged unnecessary excursions, I have kept busy at home most days. Early in the week I had a strawberry jam making session and a few days later I followed it with some piccalilli, so my store cupboard is looking nice and full again.
I also sat in my craft room long enough to make a couple of cards that I needed, but most of my free time has been spent crocheting. I am continuing to work on Sophie, but only a little at a time as she is getting heavy, especially when a certain ginger cat decides to curl up on the bit I want to turn around to work on! Last time I showed her to you, she had a row of yellow tulips around her garden. Now she has some little pink flowers and rows of deep pink rosebuds. Aren't they cute?
It is great fun making her because I have come across a lot of new techniques that I haven't tried before, and I do not have a clear picture of the finished project, so I haven't a clue how each row will work out until I do it. There is another interesting 'flower' opening up in the corner, but I have no idea what it will be like when it is finished.
As I said last week, with warmer weather on the way, I felt I needed an alternative project that uses small motifs, to work on alongside Sophie, for the days when I can't cope with her weight and size, so this week I embarked on a new Crochet-ALong that was launched on the Stylecraft site on Tuesday. It is called Frida's Flowers, and the next sections of the pattern will be released every two weeks until July. There are eight parts in all.
Frida Kahlo was a Mexican artist who loved her garden. She usually wore clothes in layers to achieve her own distinctive style, and the top layer was usually bright floral patterns on a black background. This is one of her dresses from a museum in Mexico.
This week we were let in to the CAL very gently with a relatively easy motif to make. We have two weeks to make four complete motifs and four half motifs. Here are mine and as you can see I just have to make two more halves, and sew a few ends in.
They look a bit wavy but they are easy to lay flat and they will be fine when I have blocked them. Blocking is something I don't usually bother with, but I think for this project, it may be worth while. They are very plain but have a pretty little flower motif in the centre.
I think the next installment will be similar only the motifs will be blue with a degree of lace patterning worked into them. After that, things will get more complicated. There are no photos as yet of the complete throw, (It is relatively small. More of a lap blanket than one for a bed, though many folk are already discussing making more motifs for a bigger blanket). But here is a taster that was released to get us interested.
So you can see, I have some pretty complicated flowers motifs coming up one day. I only hope I can follow the pattern for them. It will also be a challenge to work the black surrounds. At least it will be summer time so the light will be good. I would not attempt this by artificial light in the winter.
I am amazed at the response to this CAL project. There is a dedicated Facebook page where we can share our work and ask questions if we get stuck, and it has over four thousand members. People from all over the world have bought the yarn packs and the pattern has been published in UK and US terms as well as in Dutch and German. It is fun to think of everyone working on it at the same time, in so many diverse places.
Another little project that I hope to get started on is making some Christmas decoration with bobbin lace. Lisca - my blogland visitor of last week, has kindly sent me some patterns and she is currently translating the Dutch instructions into English for me! I haven't done any lace for so long, so I am not sure how I will get on with them, but I will give it a go.
So that brings me to a couple of sky pictures to finish with. The first was one evening early in the week, when the clouds just about cleared enough to let the last rays of the sun shine out.
On Tuesday I went to my Spanish-English conversation group again. It had been raining on and off all day, and just as I left, it started to drizzel again. But there was also some weak early evening sun and when I turned around I saw this beautiful rainbow, standing out against the grey clouds. Isn't it lovely?
I hurried on to the bar where we meet, and just as I got there, and could see the sky below the buildings that usually spoil my view, I caught the very last of the sun disappearing into the stormy clouds once more.
I am not complaining about the rain as it is so badly needed here. I live in rural Spain where half the population work in agriculture, and for them the rain is liquid gold! In just a few days it has turned our barren landscape into a areas of green, and we had just about enough rain to do some real good in the fields. We still need more, but after the end of this month, we are not likely to see any until the Autumn comes round again.
Well, I had better stop waffling and go and link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World on Virginia's blog.
Thank you for visiting me each week. I really enjoy reading all your comments.
Until next time; hasta luego!