Wednesday, October 09, 2019

While Miz Kittling Knits: Secrets of the National Trust

It's been a while since you've seen any knitting posts from me, hasn't it? Well, it's going to be a tiny bit longer because, although my needles have been busy, they haven't always been knitting needles.

A big chunk of the summer was spent in finishing two afghans, but I'm saving that for the next Miz Kittling post. The remaining part of the summer was spent in giving my end table a new look.

Sometimes you just need a change, right? I have to admit that I took a look at the end table by my recliner and thought that it needed help. Here, take a look--

It all worked. Phone (yes, we still have a landline). The little blue box thingy holds the remote to the fan, my reading glasses and my cell phone rests on that little ledge out front (when it's not being used to take photos). The black circle is the charging pad for my cell phone. Green tea, eye drops, a basket of essentials for knitting, stitching, cleaning glasses, hand lotion. The TV remote. That black metal stand on the right holds my current knitting pattern, and that's a light green cable needle stuck through two of the holes on the stand. (Didn't realize those holes were going to come in handy.) All in all, functional but tired, and those needlepoint mats kept shifting around and needing to be straightened up.

Now let's take a look at the After--

One big mat done in my favorite herringbone stitch. (It looks like woven cloth and wears like iron.) The variegated yarn is Red Heart acrylic yarn in a discontinued colorway called Spring Meadow, and it's edged in another Red Heart acrylic yarn in Emerald. I may go back and stitch a little piece to fit over that blue ledge on the little box, but the jury's still out on that. The mat doesn't shift. I don't have to be careful that whatever I put on the table is resting squarely on one of the mats so it won't tip over, and even my needlepointed "ladybird" basket looks more at home.

This reminds me of a cross-stitched sign I saw a long time ago on Facebook--

This makes me smile, but after stitching that big old mat for my end table, all I have to say to the person who stitched that sign is


I have the patience to stab something tens of thousands of times! *laughing* 

When I posted these photos on Facebook, someone commented that it must be nice to be able to look at something, decide how you want to change it, and then just whip something up. I never thought of it that way. Probably because it's something that's in my DNA.

I come from a long line of women who've used needles to create things. My mother knitted tons of sweaters and afghans using those gorgeous complicated Irish cable patterns. She also did beautiful counted cross stitch, crewel embroidery work, and stumpwork. My grandmother made almost every stitch of my clothing until I was in high school. Women in town would come to my mother and ask where she'd bought such-and-such a dress for me because their daughters were pestering them for the same one. My grandmother made them all. She even made my prom dress. My great-grandmother embroidered. And I have a gorgeous lacy crocheted tablecloth (it's huge!) that is well over a hundred years old. The women in my family wanted nice things, but they were too poor to go out and buy what they wanted. Instead, they got out their needles and got busy in the evenings (and made something even better).

But enough about needles, even though I am tempted to show you a photo of me in the prom dress my grandmother made for me. It's time to talk about something I've been watching while I stitched. It might be a bit of a shock, but I'm not sharing a mystery series this time.

I treated myself to a 5-disc DVD series from the UK called Secrets of the National Trust with Alan Titchmarsh. Titchmarsh is well known there, and I've loved him ever since Denis bought DVDs of Alan's series Ground Force for me to watch. There's just something about hearing his voice that automatically lifts my spirits. And then there's the whole National Trust thing. Denis and I have been to National Trust properties, and all I can say is "Wow!" 

This 5-disc series is beautifully photographed and takes us through over fifty properties. There are two or three vignettes in each episode where another presenter will take us to other places. These brief segments are interesting, and I particularly enjoyed being able to catch up with one of my favorite actors from the 80s, Nigel Havers.

But the best bit is going through the main property with Alan Titchmarsh because you see so many beautiful things, you learn so much fascinating history, and you get taken into places your average Joe Schmoe never gets to see. Think secret doors, secret passages, creeping between walls... fun stuff!

So... if you like history, beautiful scenery, beautiful houses, and gorgeous interiors, this series will be the perfect cup of tea for you. (I found a tiny clip from the Hardwick Hall episode on YouTube if you want to take a look.)

Next week, I'll let you take a look at some of my knitting, and a mystery series that I've been watching. See you then!


  1. I don't know what we'd do when we go away if it weren't for the NT. LOL! Favourite one this year - Lacock Abbey.

    I'm another one that used to make all my daughters' clothes and mine too. Also knitted and cross-stitched for years but not so much now. I miss it so am thinking of finding some knitting to do this winter.

    1. I think my favorite is Little Moreton Hall. It always made me smile when I would ask someone working the parking area and entrance roads to a NT property a question and usually got an unenthusiastic (but civil) reply-- probably due to my accent. But when I whipped out my NT membership card, it was all smiles from then on out for them. Did that mean that I wasn't the typical dumb American? LOL

  2. Oh, that is a lovely mat, Cathy, and the table looks terrific! What a pretty change you made. And I absolutely love that saying (even if it was stitched by an amateur ;-) ). Glad you enjoyed the NT series. What a fabulous way to preserve a nation's history.

    1. Yes, it is. At last everyone can enjoy them.

  3. Love the changes in your work area. Sure is a lot of work. I am not good at knitting, but am so glad it gives you so much pleasure and nis pieces of clothes.

  4. My mother sews (and is hoping that gene only took a generation off, and may surface with one of the grandchildren!). When I was young, she made matching dresses for me and my grandmother, which is a delightful memory.

    1. My mother didn't sew, for reasons I won't go into. I didn't sign up for Home Ec in high school but joined 4-H instead. My grandmother taught me how to sew, but she must've been worried that I'd break her new sewing machine because she hovered so close in back of me that I could feel her breathing on me. That was one of several reasons why I decided that sewing wasn't for me!

  5. I can do the basics of sewing, but not make clothes. Even trying to use a sewing machine was a matter la being all thumbs.
    But my younger sister got a sewing machine and made beautiful dresses and a dotted swiss bathrobe with pearlized buttons and lace trimming while in high school. I have no idea where this talent came from.

    1. My great-great-grandfather was a wonderful calligrapher. No one knew where it came from either.


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