Rhubarb Ripple re-edged 

  

  

   
   
So that’s one of my 16 for 2016 done. It looks sooooo much better than it did. This is one of the blankets I made (all details here) when I was still newish to crochet in 2012. I’d fudged the edging, such as it was, and knew it too. These half treble, double and double crochet spike stitch rows really finish it a treat. I decided on the same Attic 24 inspired border as I crocheted for my Zesty Raspberry Ripple blanket. It’s pretty but not too elaborate.

It’s a good feeling doing a proper job! Now on to those annoying baby hexagons…

Yarn Along XVI

  
God knows what Jeffrey Bernard would have had to say about a collection of his writing, originally  featured in the Spectator, being shown on a crochet blog, on a brightly coloured blanket with a vase of daffodils! I suppose as long as I offered a bottle of vodka and bag of oranges in apology it would have been ok.

His writing is often bitter sweet and the humour catches you unawares at times. I absolutely hoot with laughter. The anecdote about being in a hospital cubicle next to a boy who is having his ears syringed, made me think of having had mine done a week or so ago. But not because my brother had filled my ears with peanut butter while I slept.

The ripple re-edging is done. I’ll show you tomorrow.

I’m joining in with Ginny again.

Valentine’s heart patches


This is a sweet little patch. I intend to buy two blank craft cards and envelopes and attach a heart patch to each using double sided sticky tape. Do they still use that all the time on Blue Peter? I’m going to send them to two little-ish girls for a Valentine’s surprise.

Alternatively you could just knit two rectangles, swiss darn the heart (or one on both sides) and sew or crochet them together, to turn them into a little woolly pincushion or a pointless but cute woolly thing. You’ll probably have even better ideas. If you do, please share them!


Yarn: I knitted these with Stylecraft Special DK scraps, in parchment and did the swiss darning in raspberry. You can use any DK you have.

 
Needles: I used 3.5mm but use whatever you have or prefer. 4mm would work equally well and will still make a patch small enough to easily fit onto a card.

 
Pattern:
Knit a moss stitch border with stocking stitch as the main part of the patch

Cast on 20 stitches

Moss stitch for 2 rows:

Row 1: *k1, p1*and repeat * until the end

Row 2: *p1,k1* and repeat until the end

Stocking stitch with a moss stitch border for 8 rows

Row 3: k1, p1, k to last st, p1

Row 4: p1, k1, p to last stitch, k1

Repeat rows 3 & 4 6 more times.

Repeat rows 1 & 2 once

Cast off

Swiss darning/duplicate stitch: decorate the patch with a contrast yarn. See this video from Simple Stylish Knitting if you’re unsure about how to do swiss darning. It’s easy once you get into the rhythm of it. Sew in a good source of light, so you can see what you’re doing properly.

 Both of my hearts are slightly different from each other. The main thing is to start at the top, and do the middle stitches first. Make sure the bottom stitches line up with those at the top.  You can make the heart as wibbly or symmetrical as you like.

Yarn Along XV

  

  
Last night I was itching to start crocheting something new, but also wanted to watch last week’s Endeavour episode: Prey. I knew that re-edging my Rhubarb Ripple would be fiddly to begin with, so I sat on my hands. Actually I kept them busy with a glass of Calvados, if I’m completely honest. I’m glad I did because I would have missed quite something in the maze scenes! Did you watch it?

When I looked at the comments on my original post from 2012, linked above, I realised that I’ve now met three of the commenters (and we’re likely to meet again too) and three others are still in regular contact. That’s a really nice thing about blogging, online friendships become offline friendships too, if you’re lucky.

My current Kindle read As Good as God, as Clever as the Devil: The Impossible Life of Mary Bensen is a biography. It’s really well written by Rodney Bolt in a very readable style, with excerpts from other sources of material from the time. I’d never heard of Mary Benson, but the names of some of her offspring are definitely familiar. Read here for the blurb. It’s one of the best 99p Kindle deals I’ve bought.


Joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along again.

Simple Stylish Knitting

A few weeks ago I was contacted by a PR Company to ask if I would be interested in trying the first issue of a new knitting weekly magazine series, or park-work, published by De Agostini. I’ll always be honest in my write-up if I am sent a product to try, or asked to work with a company. After a few of my very ‘real’ past write-ups I’m quite surprised whenever I’m approached again; I aim to give a balanced view but as I try to be very truthful I will say if I find something lacking.

After having a look at Simple Stylish Knitting online I decided to give it whirl. In fact I hoped it might help to improve my own knitting skills. There are so many really talented knitters on Instagram, and seeing their beautiful work makes me want to move forward with my own.

Included in the email was this information, I found it interesting and have since read the full report: As knitting fast becomes the new ‘it’ hobby for young people, DeAgostini Publishing and University of Exeter Medical School have issued a report looking at the hobby’s health benefits to understand why so many youngsters are taking up the new skill.

In brief: A study of over 3,000 members of an online knitting community found:

* 82% felt ‘a little’ to ‘very happy’ after knitting

* Almost half (47%) indicated that it helped them think problems through, while over a third (37%) said it helped forget problems

* Nearly two-thirds (65%) reported an increase in confidence, while 86% felt an increase in belonging

A study conducted in an inpatient eating disorder unit found:

* 74% of participants reported distraction from eating disorder thoughts and feelings

* Nearly one-fifth (18%) said knitting prevented eating disorder behaviours altogether

* 74 % found it relaxing

I think this some of this will ring true for both knitters and crocheters, we know it makes us feel happy, calm and productive.

Looking at this photo I’m wondering if I threw the needle away with the packaging, ummm….

Each week there are two balls of yarn with the magazine. I was surprised they are 50% wool, 50% acrylic; they’re not the usual squeaky yacky magazine yarn. I partly learnt to crochet through buying crochet mags and the yarn was absolutely shocking quality. It also came in lurid colours! (See my early crochet pics here from 2011/2012 for evidence…)

The plan is that you knit two squares a week, which gives you the chance to learn many different stitches. I had a look on IG for pics tagged #simplestylishknitting and lots of people are knitting stitches I haven’t ever tried. At the end of the (90 issue!) series (I checked the online FAQS) you will have knitted a substantial throw, or alternatively you could buy fewer and build a collection of stitch swatches.

I spent a fair amount of time using the online stitch library, watching the knitting techniques videos. The mattress stitch video is the clearest I’ve ever seen. I thought it would be good to test how clear I found the instructions for a familiar technique. Another demo has given me Fair isle confidence. People mention 3 needle bind-off / cast off a lot and I had NO idea what that was, now I do. It’s the same with tinking though I realise I’ve always done it, I just didn’t know it was called that (did you know it’s the word ‘knit’ backwards?) If you do check out the videos look at the funky lime yarn and purple nail combo! Even the crochet hook matches.

Square number one was plain garter/knit stitch and that I definitely didn’t need to practise! So I knit number two which is stocking stitch, decorated with duplicate stitch/swiss darning. This is the first time I’ve tried it. I like it! The only thing I would say is that the stitch library video assumes you’re a right hander. I really can’t hold the sewing needle in my right hand or sew from the right, but I just did what I do with some crochet charts – I started in a stitch on the left, going into the legs of the stitch above from left to right.

I liked swiss darning so much that last night I designed a little woolly decoration to make a Valentine’s card! For this I used my KnitPro wooden needles. The magazine ones are a bit like knitting with those splintery chopsticks you get in cheapie Chinese restaurants, they do the job but are not luxurious.

Apart from the two squares a week there are patterns for other makes, the first issue includes: a mug cosy, pom-pom scarf, Mr Fox ipad case (which I love but would need to size up for my regular sized ipad.) Yarn requirements vary for the other patterns; so you’d need to buy more, or use your stash.

For complete beginners there is a full knitting know-how section at the back with very clear instructions and photos. One omission is that there’s no how-to hold your yarn photo. It’s only shown looped over the index finger, so it’s unclear how you would tension your knitting. Most people would automatically use Google, YouTube, websites etc or look it up in a book, but its inclusion would be useful in the magazine and also in the video stitch library.

For improvers like myself each pattern is written in the usual pattern short-hand, as well as with more detailed instructions given for a novice knitter.

The magazines are available in Supermarkets and newsagents, or back issues can be ordered through the website. In true part-work style the first issue is 99p, the second £1.99 and thereafter it’s £3.99, the p&p is free. E-copies are also available in digitally too.

And tomorrow I plan to join in with the Yarn Alongers. Is this turning into a post a day in February?!

Spice of Life Blanket II



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are very Wintery low light levels at the moment, which means the photos are a little muted; so you need to imagine this blanket as even brighter!

It is finished! We’ve celebrated late-Christmas with my cousin and family this weekend and she loves the blanket. I’m so pleased.

So yes, the colours; you definitely won’t have seen this combination together here before, though I have used them all in other makes.

  
My cousin loves Emma Bridgewater china and these are the designs she wanted me to use as a basis for colour selection, but with the specific proviso that there be ‘Space Hopper’ orange because she loves it. Plus cream, lavender and a bright yellow. Eek! This was really out of my colour comfort zone, but actually as the blanket came together they seemed to work together more, the Mister says it’s quite Aztec-y. I’ll take his word for it.

Pattern links and details about how to make a Spice of Life blanket are here on the designer Sandra Paul’s Cherry Heart blog.

Hooks: I used 4mm, 4.5mm and 3mm again, see my first blanket post for information.

Starting chain: 195, stitch count 193

Yarn: Stylecraft Special DK

  1. Meadow 2. Emperor 3. Lavender 4. Saffron 5. Spice 6. Cream 7. Plum (used for the border too)

Weighs: 675g

Size: 3′ 6″ or 42″. This one’s smaller than my first blanket, it’s more of a lap blanket. 

I’m glad it’s done, the multi-stitch blankets are interesting to crochet and the variety of stitches make them really pretty, but oh all the ends!

And now I’m on to a little bit of knitting…more about that tomorrow.

 

Yarn Along XIV



I’m not even going to check my 16 for 2016 list because I feel sure I said no more buying yarn, as I need to use what I have. But I shall blame today’s lapse entirely on my friend! It was so silly of us to meet at a yarn shop where there’s a sale on, with baskets and shelves laden with really lovely, good quality yarns at great prices.  This Louisa Harding Orielle was originally £6.95 a skein, now it’s reduced to £4; well you would probably have found it difficult to resist too.

It’s lovely stuff that I used to knit my first pair of mock cable fingerless mitts. It’s such a lovely colour, with a pretty sparkle running through and is really soft and warm. They are my most favourite pair of mitts. Ok, lapse justification over..!

I’m still darning blanket ends, they’re nearly finished then I can start a new project, rather than post photos of skeins of yarn. I banned myself from starting anything new until the blanket was done. It all has be finished by tomorrow night, so I shall probably be darning the last ends and speed crocheting the border as you read! I’ve just started this audio book by J.K Rowling, it’s the third in the series. Robert Glenister is from TV’s Hustle  and does such a good job narrating these audio books that I find myself totally transported to where the story is taking place. I’m gripped by what’s happening. Let’s hope it happens again as I plod on with the remaining ends tonight…

I’m joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along once again.

Don’t they look teeny?


I’ve crocheted these mock cable mitts up as I was putting off the sewing. Mattress stitch is fiddly to do well and even worse in poor light. I used a 3mm hook into the single loops of the stitches on the edge of each side (holding the right sides together) feeling very glad I’d thought to leave a very long tail of yarn for sewing up. Crochet has made a dull task enjoyable.

Don’t they look teeny lying there on the table? But see – when they’re on my hands they’re really stretchy and warm, with the double rib edging rows and bouncy mock cable. I increased the bottom ribbing to 12 rows for this pair, rather than the 6 of my first so my wrists would be well covered and warm.

The pair of mitts weigh 40g so if you wanted to try making some with only 1 ball of Knitcol Trends by Adriafil (this is colour 061) you could probably chance it. I tend to buy yarn in twos just in case. I’m a bit scared of playing yarn chicken because I usually lose.

Using 3.75mm needles (it’s DK yarn) I cast on 47 stitches, and knit double rib for 12 rows. Then I repeated a 4 row mock cable pattern 12 times and ended with 2 rows of double rib. Easy! Don’t forget to leave a gap for your thumb when sewing or crocheting them up.

Yarn Along XIII

I finished my mock cable knits last night, all bar the boring sewing up. I’ve just noticed that the right mitt is the right way up in the photograph – so you can see the mock cable pattern – but the left is not. I’ll pretend I positioned them like that deliberately to show you both sides, but the truth is a repair man was here and it was all a bit of flurry. He’d just had a call and was rushing off as wife has been in a car accident (unharmed, though the other lady might be) and so I wasn’t really concentrating.

I’ve always got an audio book on the go, they’re a great distraction on long journeys or while walking. Clare Balding’s first book My Animals and Other Family was an excellent listen as she writes and narrates so well. Rather than rapsodize about Walking Home: My Family and Other Rambles I’ll link to The Telegraph review, it’s very good.

I’m joining in with  Ginny’s Yarn Along again. The linky thing’s open for a week if you want to as well.

Allowed to knit again 

   
   I had banned myself from starting anything new until the body of the blanket was finished, and as soon as I tied off the last end I grabbed some yarn and needles. Hurray!
I haven’t used Adriafil’s Knitcol Trends before, it’s 100% merino but not the softest ever, which sounds like a criticism but it really isn’t. The fabric is warm and thick. With my wooden KnitPro needles it’s really satisfying to knit. Again this might seem off-putting and critical; but it makes me think I’m knitting with string and sticks, more than anything else I’ve used. I can’t really explain why but it is very enjoyable. 

Last May I knit my first pair of Mock Cable Mitts. I used a pretty luxurious 97% baby alpaca, which I’ve really enjoyed wearing but it was definitely much more slippery to knit. Then too I was really meant to be finishing crochet blankets, not starting new knitting. There’s definitely a pattern of using knitting as a distraction from finishing crochet. 

This photo, taken just after I bought the yarn in Broadstairs, Kent, was one of my favourites of last year. Yarn, sand, sea and a stunning sunset beginning…
 Now my plan is to darn about 10 ends of the blanket a day and the border can be crocheted. We’ll be at a late Christmas family gathering at the end of the month so I’ll schedule a post, so as not to spoil the surprise for my cousin. Then you can finally see the mystery blanket. 

Yarn Along XII

   I can’t tell you how much I’m loving this book. It’s so well written and casts a completely different light on Pride and Prejudice; as it’s written from the point of view of the (few) servants who work (very hard) for the family. This line on the back cover made me grin: ‘If Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats,’ Sarah thought, ‘she would be more careful not to tramp through muddy fields.’ 

If you are familiar with the original you’ll see that the novels match chapter for chapter, though to her credit Jo Baker does not try to imitiate  Jane Austin’s style, she has her own voice. 

I’d seen Longbourn recommended in a number of newspapers and magazines, then came across a copy on the sale shelf of a charity shop for 50p!  I enjoy using my Kindle but there’s great pleasure in knowing I can pass this paperback on to at least five friends who I know will enjoy reading it too.

I’m on the last two inches of the body of the mystery blanket for my cousin and am now thinking about what to make next. I really fancy some knitting and am going to dig out my stash and see what I’ve got later. I’m also keen to finish this baby hexagon piece and turn it into a doll’s blanket.  

I’m joining in with Ginny again. 

16 for 2016

*~*~*Happy New Year!*~*~*

It’s 2nd January, 2016 is all brand new and shiny! I love the sense of possibility and brand-new-notebook-and-pen feeling the first few days always bring.

As I wrote my 2015 gallery post on New Year’s Eve, I realised that there were lots of planned crafty things I hadn’t done during the year. I’m going to write down a list of 16 goals for 2016. This is mainly to make sure the ideas and plans I have don’t get left aside. I’ll maybe revisit the list as the year goes on, or just sum up how it went at the end.image

1: Re-edge my Rhubarb Ripple blanket properly

2: Learn how to tat lace.

I bought a tatting shutting in the end of summer sale in John Lewis (£1!) the packet hasn’t even been opened.

3: Do something with my blocks from my 200 Blocks CAL

There are roughly 125 as we quickly realised the book’s title is slightly misleading. But 125 are plenty and I’m quite embarrassed that as the organiser of the CAL I never did get around to joining any, or all.

4: Knit socks, or have a go

5: Dye some yarn

For Christmas I received a dyeing kit and some extra undyed merino sock and DK yarns.

6: Use my sewing machine again.

7: Attend a workshop or class (any)

8: Join a Knit & Natter group for a session

9: Knit something with one or more of my new skeins of yarn

10: Finish the ‘My Designs’ link page I started a while ago

image

11: Turn the failed hexagon a day blanket project into something else

12: Make another small cotton pot-holder

New saucepans with metal handles mean pot holders are necessary, not purely decorative.

13: Embroider something again

14: Make up the finished X stitch things

15: Decide about the Yorkshire blanket….redo? Undo and recycle? Give away?

16: Use up a good chunk of my yarn stash

It’s mostly leftovers from all those blankets.

If you also fancy writing 16 for 2016 please add a link in the comments below, so we can read your list too.

Have a very happy New Year all.

 

2015

It’s that time again; the last day of another year. Are they flying past, or is it just me?

I can’t believe that today is my blog’s fourth birthday! I didn’t have a long-term plan when I started this; it was simply to record my makes as I learnt to crochet. I haven’t had to make myself carry on, or set up a blogging timetable, it’s just happened organically. Admittedly joining in more regularly with the weekly Yarn Along and Taking Stock posts, every month, has helped to keep to keep the ball rolling lately; as I’ve had little new to show, with bigger projects taking time to complete.

2015 really did turn into the Year of the Blankets, despite the fact I’m sure I’d resolved not to make many. I wanted to learn some new skills, make some small things and get my sewing machine out again. I can see a 16 for 2016 list happening…

Here are some of my favourite makes and highlights of the year:

I’ve just had a little look at my previous end of year galleries in 2012 2013 and 2014. 2012 was a busy year for the country with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics. Looking back has reminded me of my 200 Blocks CAL. I was still very much a novice crocheter and learnt much more through organising and taking part in the CAL. If you’re fairly new to crochet then I’d really recommend working through a book of crochet blocks. It gave lots of us a really good grounding in reading patterns, trying new stitches and experimenting with colour combinations.

Thank you for reading and for your comments over the last year. Have a very Happy New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, wherever you are in the world.

Yarn Along XI

  The light is fading fast this afternoon, so I’ve lit the candles and made mugs of hot chocolate. I spent the morning cooking and cleaning as we have guests for dinner tonight, it’s very nice to sit down and relax now. I shall crochet a little more of my blanket. See last week’s Yarn Along post if you’re curious about why I’m only showing you the ends for now.

Last night I read ‘Lost Hearts’ in this M.R James ghost stories collection before sleep. As usual I felt quite spooked out. I’m going to read another tonight and anticipate feeling pretty scared, the sweetener is that at least it’s while snuggled down warm in bed. I’ve learnt it’s best to go to the loo before reading, so I don’t have to run there afterwards dodging shadows! 

If you fancy reading some very old ghost stories (late 1800s, early 1900s)  M.R James anthologies are free on Kindle. At least they are here in England. 

I’m joining in with Ginny‘s Yarn Along again.

Perfect

   
    
   Today we pulled on some warm clothes and went out for some fresh air, after a few days of socialising, eating and drinking. A swift five mile walk was just the thing.  On Boxing Day it’s usually great fun seeing children whizz by on their shiny new bikes and scooters, with everyone nodding and smiling their hellos, but it was a rainy day and so the hibernation continued.  I’m so glad we decided to postpone a wander around the shops this morning. Walking alongside peacefully grazing sheep, while admiring the stark beauty of the trees against the rapidly darkening sky felt absolutely perfect. 

Yarn Along X 


I can’t show you what I’m making, except to say that it’s a blanket; as requested by my cousin. The colours were chosen to compliment Emma Bridgewater china she collects. I think the plan is to have the blanket over the back of a church pew she has near her dresser in her cottage. When I said I was going to look for a pumpkin shade of orange, to match, she said she’d far prefer Space Hopper orange. Oh my..! Then:”How about some lavender too?” She’d noticed I’d used it in other blankets.

The out of my colour comfort zone has become a bit of a joke here, so when I took it out after a break (I’ve finished the V Stitch scarf) the Mister suddenly yelled out in mock horror. I was so startled it made me leap up out of my chair!

I have checked that it’s going to hit by the spot by showing her man, who says she’ll love it, it’s exactly what she wants colourwise. He even said how soft it looks and how warm it will be; he knows just what to say at times.The blanket design is a surprise and as I’m not sure how often she looks here it’s going to have to stay under wraps for now. We’ll do our usual late Christmas celebration sometime earlyish next year. But don’t say I didn’t warn you about the colour combo!

The third Rosie Hopkins book is turning out to be quite an entertaining read, and not so sickly as expected. 

I know you know this, but I’m joining in with Ginny’s Wednesday Yarn Along link up again. 

Taking Stock in December

Making: Crocheting the last third of the V Stitch scarf, then back to the blanket 

Cooking: Lamb daube, purple sprouting and baked potatoes  

Drinking: Red wine 

Reading: I just finished The Improbability of Love (it’s good. Funny to visit Waddeston Manor the same week. Spot the connection for 10 points?) so it’s time for a soppy Christmas book now

 
Wanting: a Happy Christmas for all my family and friends and you, of course 

Looking: Rosy 

Playing: Words with Friends. I’m about 5 years behind everyone, I know 

Deciding: Not to just plan to wrap presents earlier than Christmas Eve, but to actually DO it 

Wishing: for another glass of red wine

  Enjoying: The anticipation of getting our tree 

Waiting: For presents!

   

  
Liking: The smell of roasted chestnuts, a traditional snack still sold on London streets 

Wondering: If we’ll have any snow before year end. Considering it was a balmy 15C today it’s doubtful

Loving: Christmas programmes; looking forward to Downton, Sherlock and the Agatha Christie costume drama on Boxing Day

Pondering: Whether I’d like to go to Space

Considering: Buying some stollen, but maybe I should make it instead

   
 Buying: Glacé cherries, moisturiser and nuts 

Watching: The Breakfast Club, it’s good still

Hoping: Love Film have St Elmo’s Fire 

Marvelling: At all the Christmas lights  
 Cringing: at nothing in particular 

Needing: Some fresh air

Questioning: Why ‘Chantenay carrots have recently been revived in the UK, having not been available in this country since the 1960s.’ (Wikipedia.) Why have they not been available since then? So few varieties of fruit and vegetables are available, when there are hundreds of very old varieties

 Smelling: Fragrant! (Clinique Elixir, darling) 

Wearing: My favourite chunky red cardie 

Following: The mission to The International Space Station and our astronaut Tim Peake 

Noticing: How weirdly mild the weather is at the moment; it’s the warmest December in over 50 years 

Knowing: I’m nearly all organised for Christmas 

Thinking: About what to do when, in the coming week

Admiring: People’s knitwear 

  
 Sorting: Books and DVDs again, 2 more trips to the charity shop last week

Getting: Our tree tomorrow. Much better around 20th than having it from 1st December, too much, too soon!

Bookmarking: All sorts, but always forgetting to go back to them

Coveting: …Father Christmas knows!

Disliking: Music bleeding loudly from others’ headphones, do they not realise they’re harming their ears? And being a royal pain

Opening: A pack of salmon fillets wondering why it’s always so difficult  

 Giggling: At the Croydon Lucozade story (knowing I shouldn’t)

Feeling: Healthy, positive and energetic 

Snacking: On chantenay carrots 

Helping: A girl find her lost keys at the bus station 

Hearing: My audio book: Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
The Taking Stock list is from Pip’s Meet me at Mike’s blog, you can use it too.

Yarn Along IX

  I’m crocheting a second V Stitch scarf. I only started a few days ago and it’s now nearly half done; it grows so quickly.  This is a very good thing as it’s a Christmas present.  Here’s the link to my pattern. I had to find it myself to jog my memory for the initial chain and hook size! That green scarf is my favourite and I wear it more than anything else I own, or have made. 
 I loved the film ‘Brooklyn’ last week. It’s the story of a young girl from a rural area of Ireland in the 1950s, who is emigrating to America. The first thing Mum and I said as we left the cinema was “Oh, the clothes!” Although I have a few audio books ready to listen to I just knew the novel, by Colm Toibin, would be fuller than could fit into a film. It’s going to be so interesting to see what the screenwriter, author Nick Hornby, chose to include and what to leave out.  Dissecting novels (auto correct wants this to be bowels!) into screenplays must be a challenging, but fascinating process. 

I’m joining in with Ginny and co once again. Now around 100 others link to Ginny’s weekly Yarn Along posts. This is many more than when I added a few of mine several  years ago. You can find some pearls of crochet and knitting inspiration there if you want to dip into new blogs. 

Yarn Along VIII

 Yesterday this Araucania Botany Lace (one of  my Yarndale bargains) was a knitted piece 6′ long. I was flying along until I noticed a mistake. B—– Why didn’t I put in a lifeline? I tried and I tried but I couldn’t undo it; I was foiled by the yarn overs. I just kept ending up with the wrong amount of stitches. I want to knit something as perfect as I can get it. So in the end I gave up and just ripped the whole thing out. Can you see my thin blue thread? This time I’m being very careful.

I’m on the last 12 minutes of my audio book: ‘Reckless’ by Chrissie Hynde. Rosanna Arquette’s terrible pronunciation of many words and shocking attempts at English accents have had me shrieking with irritation, or screaming with laughter, occasionally both at the same time. This has rather spoilt a sometimes shocking, but also poignant story of music and friendship.

I’ve just started reading a new book about a painting: The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild. I’m not far into it yet, but the painting has chapters of its own. I like its voice!

I’m joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along again. Why don’t you?

Spice of Life CAL blanket finished!

   

    Two finished items in a week feels good! One more to go…

I sat and crocheted the rest of the border yesterday, darned the two ends (hurrah for a single colour border!) and did a happy dance. It’s a simple little border which I think is perfect for such a busy blanket. 

It’s not completely ruler straight, but actually the sides are not half as wiggly as I feared; the border really seems to sort it out. I expected a serious blocking session, but there’s really no need.

I’ve just realised I didn’t post my Stylecraft Special Dk colour choices for part 5, so I’ll do that now and for my repeats as I choose to make a larger blanket. Here are the pattern posts by Sandra of Cherry Heart blog in case you now fancy crocheting a Spice of Life blanket too.

Part 5 – repeating some rows

Stacked Grannies: stone, clematis, raspberry, silver

Trebles: Storm blue

Big Zipper: parchment, denim 

Trebles: Parma violet

Stacked Shells: grape, grey x2, sage x2, lavender x2, stone, silver

Fill the Gap: clematis, grey,raspberry,silver,denim,sage x2

Tulips: (I accidentally missed row 1- trebles) grape, stone, parma violet

Trebles: parchment

Waves: storm blue, raspberry

Trebles: grey

Puffs: silver, lavender, clematis, stone

Trebles: (remember no row 8 for repeats in pattern) grape, denim x2

Grannies: sage, silver and repeat

Trebles: lavender, stone, raspberry, grey, storm blue

My choice of repeats

Stacked Grannies: silver, grape and repeat 

Trebles: Parma violet x2

Big Zipper: clematis x2, parchment x2

Trebles: grape x2

Border: (design as written in the pattern) silver 

~~~~

Yarn: One of each of Stylecraft Special DK: parchment, clematis, grey, denim, silver (2 as it’s also for the border), lime, storm blue, stone, grape, sage, parma violet, lavender, raspberry 

Hook sizes: I swapped to 4.5 mm for stacked shells and the DC rows. You’ll have to experiment and see how your tension is coming out for the tighter stitches. I always used a 4mm for treble rows. For the border set up row I used a 3mm as I just found it easier to use when crocheting into the middle of the stitches. I aimed to pick up 2 strands on my hook, leaving 1 behind. It looks fair less gappy than crocheting over the end stitch, though it is a fiddle.

Starting chain: 217 (a multiple of 12 + 1) I aimed for a square 4’x4′ blanket for snuggling in on cold evenings.

Size: 4′ X 4′ before border. Border is approx an inch.

Weight: 850g approx

~~~~

 And now onwards with another blanket which is half finished. It was requested by my cousin for Christmas. That’s one never-seen-here-before colour combination, just you wait…

Yarn Along VII

IMG_1907

IMG_1904I was pretty pleased with myself for finally finishing darning all those ends yesterday!

The colours look pretty muted here, but it was a moment of celebration so I broke my ‘always take photos in natural light’ rule. The sides don’t look as wiggly as I expected. It’s not going to be perfect as I swapped about from a 4mm to 4.5mm hook, but as it’s just for me to snuggle in over the winter it’s all good.

I’ve just started listening to Chrissie Hynde’s memoir, read by Rosanna Arquette. I love her descriptions of growing up in Akron, Ohio. It’s going to be a cracking listen, I can tell.

I’m joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along again. Here are my previous Yarn Along posts. I actually thought my last was fairly recent, but look how long ago it was! I’m pretty staggered. One thought I wrote about blogging makes me smirk. That feeling obviously didn’t stick around for long.

 

Hitchhiker II now ready to travel

   
   There’s really nothing like the relief of finishing something is there? Even if you’ve really enjoyed the making process, you’re just so glad to put it down wrap it around your neck and move on.

I used Lang Tosca Light, raspberry on 4mm needles. I much prefered using DK than the sock yarn of my first (specified in the pattern.) It makes a bigger scarf and is just as pretty with all the colour variations in the yarn. It weights 119g so I must have started with a bit of leftover yarn from another ball, though I really don’t remember doing that! 

I tried to lighten the photos but it made the colours look much brighter, almost garish. The colours look truest in the first photo. My iPad has retina display, and so when I look at my photos on my laptop I’m often surprised by how different they seem. Autumn amd Winter low light levels really hinder the taking of sharp photos. Perhaps I need a model who could prance about outside (in a leaf strewn forest? On top of a hill? Sitting on a dry-stone wall?) while I photograph them wearing my makes. Any takers? There’s no pay, unless you fancy some homemade bread and cake…

I must say a big thank you to the Show Me England website who recently published a list of the Best Knitting and Crochet Blogs in the UK. I’ve noticed a steady stream of visitors coming here from the site. Well how nice – I see I’m in excellent company too. 

Taking Stock in November

IMG_1835 Making : it much harder for the Damned Squirrel (as he is called) to eat tube after tube of peanuts bought for the birds. Don’t feel too sorry for him; he’s had all the hazelnuts from the tree too.

Cooking : porridge for breakfast.

Drinking : loose Ceylon tea in my new blue teapot (blue left, third row down shown in last month’s Taking post.)

Reading: The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman by Denis Thériault.

Writing: my own haiku, inspired by the above book, then realised it should be 5-7-5 not 5-5-7 syllables:

Lonely Wind Rustles

Needle Clicks Against

Another, Perfectly Timed

Wishing: I could be back in Broadstairs. Such a lovely day, before the arrival of the tail-end of hurricane Abigail on Friday.

Enjoying: walking by the sea.

Waiting: to finish darning in the ends of my blanket, before starting the border. It’s slow due to three weekends away in a row.

Liking: visiting the C Wool yarn shop again, in Broadstairs, and making a little purchase.

Wondering: what to make with the yarn I’ve bought in the last few months?

Loving: my bargain Rowan Scottish Tweed DK buy, (another day, another yarn shop!) until I started to crochet some Fidra Mitts and hated the wire-wool feel.

Wanting: to buy some loose Earl Grey tea.

Looking: at the lovely parcel of goodies I ordered from Dotcomgiftshop, after they sent me a voucher, because my blog was included in their Ten Creative Needlecraft Blogs list last month.

Garden birds tea-towel, 2 sets of rose pins, sticky notes, 5 glass bowls and lids, a flour shaker.

Playing: with my new yarn, trying another very clever fingerless mitt pattern. Hating the shape just after I’d sewn it up…

Deciding: to spend my (small) Euro lottery win on tickets for Tuesday’s mega rollover.

Pondering: why it is I’ve now spent years saying I’ll darn-as-I-go, but never, ever do…

Considering: what to make next..

Buying: NO MORE YARN!

Watching: I’m a Celeb tonight, it’s the only Reality TV programme I watch.

Hoping: it makes me laugh, I dislike the episodes where they are unkind to each other.

Marvelling: at how dark, how early it is now.

Cringing: at the terrible events on Friday night in Paris.

Needing: nothing right now.

Questioning: why? When? How? Will? As is my way. I wonder if I carry a question mark in the air above my head most days?
   Why is this postbox special?

Smelling: my Cath Kidson rose perfume.

Wearing: a big red zipped cardie I’ve had for years..

Following: many blogs and not making regular time to read them at the moment.

Noticing: sea salt on my car from the storm on Saturday night.

Knowing: I intend to go to the car wash, but really hoping it rains hard and washes it off.

Thinking: I’m going to continue writing Taking Stock posts around the 15th each month.

Admiring: people who stick to a blog routine, but knowing the above is as far as I will go.

Sorting: yarn into storage cubes.

Getting: ready to start thinking about Christmas present buying.

Bookmarking: fingerless mitt patterns.

Coveting: new fingerless mitts because they’re satisfying fast to make and good to wear.

Disliking: darning!

Opening: windows still, it’s so mild

Giggling: at Frasier (204 episodes recorded now.)

Feeling: extremely well.

Snacking: on a French Pink Lady apple earlier.

Helping: the birds, annoying the squirrel *evil laughter*.

Hearing: Scenes from an Italian Restaurant by Billy Joel.

If you’d like to write a Taking Stock post too, the list can be found on Pip’s marvellous Meet me at Mikes blog.

Bright lights 

  Fortnum and Mason
   The Royal Academy has Ai Weiwei’s stunning Tree installation in the courtyard, it’s eye-catching when walking past the arched entrance at night

   Selfridge’s, Oxford street

 London is full of light now the Christmas shopping season is in full swing. I grimace in September when the first Christmas cakes and mince begin to appear in the supermarkets. Who wants to eat cake that’s sat in a warm shop for months? I tut loudly, a strong English expression of outrage, during the first weeks of October at all the decorated trees and lights. It’s far too early! It gets earlier every year! But in November when the daylight begins to fade around 3pm and the sky is often a dull grey, the lights are magical. London looks so pretty at night when the shop windows and streets are twinkling merrily with lights.

You won’t find me using a Santa mug, playing Christmas carols or wearing festive PJs yet, but I have bought a new roll of sellotape, sourced Advent candles for Mum and I and bought a few presents. You have to buy things when you see them, don’t you?  I’m definitely not feeling Christmassy yet, but I do love all the lights.

Now – an Autumn snapshot 

        
    
    
   
 One of my nearest and dearest gave me a little verbal prod the other day saying: “I’ve had a look at your blog, but there’s been nothing for a while has there?” Noted and now rectified!

I’ve been carrying on crocheting my Spice of Life blanket (not far off the darning and border now) or knitting a few rows of my Hitchhiker scarf most days. I don’t think continually showing the same projects, just a few centimetres further on, would be interesting. Which is why I haven’t been around here much recently. There IS another project I’ve been working on too, but that’s hush hush as it’s a present. You’ll see it one day….

I really love Autumn: the crisp cool days, walking along kicking up piles of crunchy leaves, the beautiful colours of leaves and berries, the sunsets bringing brightness to often grey skies, soups and stews, casseroles and countless pots of tea. Do you love it too?

Taking Stock in October

Making : jam! Apple and blackberry, then apple and mixed berries  (red currants, black currants, blackberries, raspberries)

Cooking : my version of my favourite Itsu dish: teriyaki salmon

Drinking : English breakfast tea, whatever the time of day

Reading: Diary of The Lady by Rachel Johnson

Wanting: to find back issues of The Lady magazine 

Looking: at the bird feeeders a lot – it’s pure theatre

Playing: scare the squirrel away, watching him return as soon as the door is closed

Deciding: it’s a pointless game but I DO NOT want to see him hanging upside down, scooping bird seed into his mouth

Wishing: I’d stuck to plan A today


Enjoying: cooking with apples and tomatoes from the garden

Waiting: for a parcel from China

Liking: having 164 episodes of Frasier recorded, it’s comfort telly

Wondering: how many times I’m going to hear “Do you know how many episoodes of Frasier you’ve recorded????!

Loving: the humour of my new audio book although unsure at first (Madensky Square, Eva Ibbotson)

Pondering: serious topics

Considering: buying chocolate flavoured instant cofffee from Waitrose, though only ever occasionally drink filter coffee

Buying: toilet rolls without embossed puppies, much more for puppies – madness!

Watching: the weather change

Hoping: to see more starling murmurations

Marvelling: at the starlings who are coming mob-handed into the garden, even the squirrel is startled
   Cringing: at the things people say (roaring with laughter at others)

Needing: some autumn/winter outfits

Questioning: why? Lots, as usual

Smelling: my lovely freesias

Wearing: ha ha! (jumble sale recluse look today)

Following: witty people

Noticing: how much cooler it is in the evenings

Knowing: it’s time to eat something

Thinking: of appley puddlings

Admiring: colours in nature

Sorting: more books to give away
  
  
Getting: a bit behind on a secret thing

Bookmarking: patterns, always

Coveting: a Thames riverside apartment

Disliking: that you hoover thoroughly one day and it needs doing again the next

Opening: a new packet of butterfly shaped pasta – pretty!

Giggling: at the Man Up film, ‘rewinding’ the Reflex bit

Feeling: cheerful

Snacking: on a variety of apple which taste of pears

Helping: encourage a friend to buy more yarn (naughty!)

Hearing: birdsong
   If you fancy Taking Stock too you can get the list from Pip.

Spice of Life CAL part 4

   
    
 
This was my favourite week so far, in terms of the pattern, but I might have said that last week? If I did then it’s no bad thing; as it obviously means my enjoyment is increasing, not waning!

My colours:

Fill the gap: parchment, storm blue (love it!) denim, grape

Trebles: grey, silver 

Tulips: sage x2, clematis, stone

Trebles: raspberry x2

Waves: Parma violet, lavender, grey

Puffs: Storm blue, grape, denim, sage

Trebles: silver, grape x2, parchment  

There have been so many ‘I’m really glad the puffs are done’ and ‘I hated the puffs’ comments on the Facebook group page that even I was feeling a bit apprehensive about them. And I don’t usually get in a state about crochet. I haven’t done any puff stitches for ages, but actually they’re fine! As with lots of the stitches I thought might need to be looser, I used my 4.5mm hook. I ended up quite enjoying them, but have to say that they are definitely yarn eaters. 

I’m tempted to crop the second photo so you can’t see the ends that crept into the frame, but I’ll fess up here and now that I haven’t darned a single one yet. My excuse reason is that I’ll probably need to steam block again, when the blanket’s finished, and  don’t want my neatly darned threads popping out when it’s pinned out.

Phew now that’s off my chest I shall sleep easier. Ha! 

Spice of Life CAL part 3

   
    
 It took me a while to get around to part 3 of the pattern (actually part 2; as part 1 was initial info on the CAL. I do think it would have made it easier all round to call that week 0, but there we are) as I developed a stonking cold last week. I’m still coughing and rattling around, but at least my brain is working again. 

I really enjoyed doing this week’s pattern, there was a good variety of stitches.  The rows of V stitch are so preety!

I know there’s at least one person copying my colour choices so here are last week’s:

Stacked Grannies: storm blue, parchment and repeat once again

Trebles: grape x2

Big Zipper: parma violet x2, grey x2

Trebles: denim x2

Stacked Shells: silver, stone, sage, clematis

Trebles:parma violet, lavender    

2 minutes after publishing: Oh dear I don’t think my brain is working that well after all since I’ve forgotten to say that I’m in the process of steam blocking the ends! I’ve left it pinned on the ironing board to dry while I write. My tension must have been a little tighter than the rest after the shell rows. I know others in the Spice of Life  Facebook group (now with over 4K members!) have found the same, so it’s one of those things with this type of row. It’s harder than than you realise to crochet a lot looser than usual.  

6 hours after publishing: Working on the next part today I’ve gone up a hook size from 4mm to 4.5mm for some of the tighter rows. It’s sorted the tension issue and so there will be no more steam blocking each week …hurrah! Just trying to crochet looser would be hard to do. I think it might well result in inconsistent stitches overall. By changing hooks back and forth I think I’ve cracked it. 

Star ripple II

   
    
 
This second 12 pointed star ripple baby blanket (or lap blanket as it kept my legs nicely warm, while I sewed) took me it a few days to crochet. Then at least a week to darn! There were more exciting things to go onto; with a new Hitchhiker scarf in progress and the Spice of Life CAL last week. But I made myself finish as I loathehaving unfinished tasks hanging over my head. All the pattern details etc can be found in the blog post I wrote after finishing the first.

The yarn colours in this one are Stylecraft Special DK: lime, raspberry, pale rose and parchment.

Oh my goodness I feel poorly today! I’ve come down with a stinking cold. They knock you for six, don’t they? It’s so long since I had one this bad. I’ve really appreciated mugs of peppermint tea, easy knitting and this week’s Downton to cheer me up this afternoon.

Yarndale 2015 (again!)

So, as I said yesterday Yarndale was a blast; a jolly happy day. And, that was that for another year. Until the next. No. No? Well, although I’d sensibly booked a Saturday ticket and my train tickets some weeks ahead, I woke early on the Sunday morning with a strong sense of ‘I have to go back’. This only increased as I scrolled through my Instagram feed and saw lots I hadn’t seen. No angora bunnies. No alpacas. Not enough yarn. And – oh my goodness – I’d come away with only one card, which is for someone’s birthday anyway. I’m not a huge shopper generally. I prefer to buy yarn for specific projects, but even by my standards this was pants.  As I was due to meet friends in Leeds for dinner, after they’d been to Yarndale, it seemed sensible to drive to Skipton this time and hope that I could park. Actually there was a marked difference on the Sunday; when I arrived there were plenty of spaces and much more room to move in the mart. This time I was focused, not so much chatting and more looking.
  This gorgeous make is called Like a Leaf on the Wind by Sharon Jane. It’s free on Ravelry, in case you want any inspiration for your Yarndale purchases or stash. It uses one skein of 4 ply (fingering weight) yarn and is definitely now on my long list of ‘things to make’.

  Ah! I found the rabbits. And had a stroke too.
  Isn’t this stunning? It’s by Jane Crowfoot.
    This is really for me because I’d love some, but you might fancy some gorgeous charcoal yarn in your life too?
  As I caught up with my friends from Leeds in the Knit and Knatter lounge, and Heather and I shared our yarn purchases, some sheep came trooping into the space! I think they’re going to be part of the puppet festival in Skipton, next month.
  Naturally they were followed by their sheep dog, who just would not stand still until I used my best “Stay! Stay dog! Stand still!” and s/he obeyed. Good dog!  And now faces to fall in love with…

  Just look at these two. This could be a Valentines Day card.  It felt a bit mean to swoon over the bunnies and alpacas, so I snapped this calm sheep and quietly thanked them all for giving us their wool.This one just blinked and sniffed the hay in an ‘you’re being embarrassing’ kind of way.  I sat outside in the warm sun admiring my shopping, after doing a final loop of the mart. By other people’s standards it’s not a huge pile of goodies, but plenty to make me smile, and keep me busy.

I’m so glad I went back for another day. Someone I overheard on Sunday said: “You need a day to peruse and a day to buy.” I need a day to chat and another day to see all I missed.

On Monday morning I sat up in bed knitting a few more rows of my second Hitchhker scarf, musing on all I’d seen and the wonderful people I’d met, already making plans for Yarndale 2016 (a hotel in Harrogate or Halifax or Skipton?) And then I headed off to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. And that was another good day.

Yarndale 2015

I came back from Yorkshire last night, after a fantastic 4 days there. I really love that part of the country! I’d booked a ticket to go to Yarndale on Saturday and felt really excited. I didn’t go last year but went to the first Yarndale 2013 and was interested to see how the festival might have developed.

When travelling to Skipton what really amused me was the sheer number of Cath Kidson bags on view on the train. There weren’t as many woolly items being worn as I see en route to the Knitting & Stitch Show every March; as we’re enjoying a late Summer at the moment. I love anything Cath Kidson and so loved seeing them all. There was such a party atmosphere on the Leeds – Skipton train, with everyone talking about crochet, knitting and yarny matters, that the conductor asked where everyone was off to? He said he was absolutely loving seeing people talking to each other, not staring at their phones!

  I caught one of the red double deckers from the station and this was the mandala hanging in the window. It was amusing to see people in town doing double takes as the bus passed by. I noticed a few taking photos of it too!

When I arrived at the auction mart at 1030 people were streaming in. There seemed to be many more exhibitors this year and it was more spaced out than in 2013, which was a good thing.
  Once again I went to Fiona of Marmalade Rose gorgeous stall, where she was showcasing her felted wool pictures. They are works of art. I bought one of her cards. She is so talented.
  Some of the fabulous bunting! I tried to spot the ones I’d made, but it’s a few years ago now and I’m not sure I’d recognise all of them. I’m pretty sure I saw one or two, but wouldn’t put a bet on it!
The stunning Flowers for Memories displays were a real WOW. Here are just two panels. They were sent from 22 countries according to Lucy. Incredible isn’t it?


  This is just a section of the auction mart, you can imagine how busy it became over the day. It was very good to go upstairs for a bird’s eye view of everything, and to take a few minutes out. There really were fantastic stalls; such a variety of goods on sale and really, really stunning displays. I don’t have any photos but keep an eye out for any of Eden Cottage Yarns since it was definitely one of the best. If not the best.

This year I’d decided I was not going to take any photos (ha ha, failed I think) so there aren’t masses of yarn porn pictures. I was too busy staring greedily at it all, and trying not to smoosh it too much. But if you look on Instagram and search for #Yarndale2015 you’ll see plenty to satisfy you.
  
  I chatted to people all day: said hello to bloggers I’ve long followed, fellow instagrammers, anyone who started to chat about yarn or craft related things and designers I admire. It was so good to finally meet Kat Goldin, though due to my rubbish sense of direction I kept passing her and Joanne Scrace‘s The Crochet Project stand; as I went around in circles, rather than up and down all the rows. By the end I must’ve looked like a deranged stalker.

Yarndale felt like one giant, fizzing, happy party. I loved it. But by mid-afternoon I felt completely overwhelmed and decided to head back to town, it had been great but I was ready for a quiet wander. I jumped off the Yarndale express in the town and spent a huge £1 on a wooden door wedge at the market. I explored some of the lovely little independent shops and then popped in to Cooper’s Cafe, on the way back to the train station, and headed upstairs to Lucy’s studio. I felt a bit of a stalker again (and heard another saying the same) but it didn’t stop me looking around and taking some photos to show you.

I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s take on this log cabin inspired blanket, the combination of colour possibilities is endless.

IMG_1479IMG_1476
So familiar from Lucy’s blog, it’s a treat to see them once again in ‘real life’.
IMG_1481IMG_1482

And there we are – my Yarndale experience. Or is it? Might there be more? Watch this space tomorrow…!

Spice of Life CAL part 2

 So, the first part of the Spice of Life CAL was issued this week, on Tuesday. All the details can be found here (free of charge.) I think the popularity of the CAL has taken everyone at Black Sheep Wools by surprise; there are now over 3,000 members in the Facebook group alone and they’re from all over the world. Lots and lots of photos are popping up on Instagram all the time. Look for #spiceoflifecal. 

Many people have chosen to use yarn from their stash, so there are some wacky colour schemes as well as those that make you sigh ‘I wish I’d chosen those!’ I was lucky enough to be asked to take part, I’ve written about that here. 

 
I chose my own yarn colours. To recap: 

from the top, left to right

parchment, clematis, grey, denim, silver, (2 for the border) lime
storm blue, stone, grape, sage, parma violet, lavender, raspberry 

 I’m really enjoying being part of a CAL again, and not as the organiser. The pattern by Sandra of  Cherry Heart blog is lovely. 

The fact the first pattern release is called part 2 has thrown some people; as they’re worried they’ve missed part 1. In fact part 1 was just yarn details, hook size, and some information about helpful resources. Really the CAL, in terms of crochet, is actually only 7 weeks long. The first week’s pattern is dead easy, so even if you’re reading this in a week or two it’s not too late to catch up.
    
   
As usual I’m promising to myself to darn ends as I go and not doing it.

A few people have asked me to list my yarn colours as I go because they find it really hard to choose the order. I honestly don’t know about any of the colour wheel, hot and cold stuff. I put all in a basket, lean over and grab the next as I go. I might put the strip of crochet on top but I always go by my first instinct and I’ve never winced at my choices afterwards. Not so far, though you might have…

The lime is going to have to be used another time. The funny thing is I never ever used to like green, especially lime, but for the last four years have been strangely drawn to many shades. I was keen to include it here, but it’s just not right alongside the other colours.

 Trebles 

R1&2 Sage  3&4 Denim 5&6 Parma violet 7&8 Clematis 9&10 Grey

Grannies

1 Lavender 2 Grape 3 Lavender 4 Grape 5 Lavender 

Trebles 

6 Stone 7 Raspberry 8 Silver 

I know the numbers are a little anachronistic, but I’ve kept to the way of the pattern. The first 10 are listed as ‘set up rows’ so part 3 (2!) should continue consecutively.

Are you doing the Spice of Life CAL too?

The Hitchhiker is ready to travel

   
 My  Hitchhiker sat in a bag for a while and when I finally got around to finishing it, the last 8 rows took no time at all. Well, apart from the row I had to knit backwards, which is my term for undoing stitches. Instead of purl 1, knit the rest I realise I’d purled all. You never realise these things until the end of the row. I blame it on David Sedaris and his turtle story, which I listened to on the BBC radio iplayer. You’ve got to blame lapses on someone haven’t you? 

I don’t really know why I thought it was a good idea to use 4mm needles with sock yarn. It seemed the specified 3mm needles for 4 ply yarn, used with sock yarn and combined with my knitting tension would make a scarf (I can’t call it that name ending with ette; it makes my my mouth pucker) suitable for a dolly. This is why it’s a slightly loopy looking at the edges. Loopy is so much nicer a description than holey isn’t it?

Taking Stock in September

IMG_1278IMG_1260Making : another star ripple blanket
Cooking : Dorset Apple cake with windfall apples from the garden, orange and ginger tea-loaf, pasta sauce with home-grown tomatoes and chillies, raspberry jam…

IMG_1154Drinking : nothing at the mo
Reading: Resistance is Futile by Jenny T. Colgan (85% through)
Wanting: to finish the book as the twee language is irritating meIMG_1267Looking: out at grey clouds and weak sunshine
Playing: solitaire games on my new lap top

IMG_1247Deciding: whether to finish another pot-holder, do the last section of my Hitchhiker shawlette, or re-edge my ripple, or make something new from cotton from my Hook, Yarn and Crochet book
Wishing: those 100+ baby cashmerino blocks from my long ago CAL would organise themselves into a blanket
Enjoying: using up oddments of yarn on the star ripple blanket

IMG_0667(2)
Waiting: for a yarn delivery, I’ve run out of pink mid-way round the last row (not really the point of stash bushing makes, I know!)
Liking: that I could use a little of my birthday voucher for the order, thanks my friend

IMG_0763Wondering: if it’s silly to try to sell on Etsy, there are SO MANY similar items listed. But none made by me…
Loving: thinking about what to cook with home-grown produce from here and family: apples, carrots, courgettes, garlic, onions, chillies, tomatoes, peppers
Pondering: Life and the Universe
Considering: buying a lottery ticket for the Euro millions draw tomorrow
Buying: capers so I can make putanesca with more of the tomato glut
Watching: Girl Meets Boy, we’re giving it one more episode.. It feels like an attempt to educate and teach people how to think, rather than a good comedy which it promised to be in the first episodeIMG_1272Hoping: for late summer weather again tomorrow
Marvelling: at the number of sparrow fights on the bird feeder
Cringing: at the way the house sparrows are ganging up against the tree sparrow (4:1)
Needing: a long walk
Questioning: what will happen long-term in SyriaIMG_1131Smelling: smoke, some plonker is polluting the air with a huge bonfire
Wearing: comfy home clothes
Following: no one new blogwise. I’ve been seduced by IG but really enjoy catching up with my fave bloggers
Noticing: how much more enjoyable it is to read people’s stories and hear their voice in writing, then the quick fix of a stream of photos
Knowing: I need to go and drink my peppermint tea.IMG_1148Thinking: I’m really thirsty
Admiring: People who have their own sense of style
Sorting: more stuff to go to the charity shops
Getting: organised
Bookmarking: recipes for seasonal produce
Coveting: a winning lottery ticket
Disliking: lock down because I closed every window in the house because the house is getting kipperedIMG_1055Opening: windows again soon, I hope!
Giggling: over silly vids people post on FB
Feeling: thirsty *getting up to go and drink that cold peppermint tea*
Snacking: on raw carrots…shortly
Helping: others by taking some of their glut and then passing on slices of cake etc
Hearing: the wind now whistling outside

Thanks to Pip for the list, it’s fun to play again. If you join in too let me in the comments below. I’d like to read yours.

12 Pointed Star Ripple Blanket…finished!

IMG_1261 IMG_1262This blanket was such a pleasure to make, as it’s so different from anything I’ve made before. I have to admit to frequently putting it down; just to look at it to see the pattern emerging. The free pattern by Celeste Young is available here on Ravelry and although it’s designed to be made with aran yarn, I decided to try using DK. It’s come out a good size and would be a snuggly lap blanket for an adult, as well as a baby blanket (which is what it’s designed to be, of course.) I guess you could keep adding extra rounds and see how a larger size would look too.

The Stylecraft Special DK colours I’ve used are:

Lime, Parchment, Petrol, Grey and Claret

The blanket measures nearly 30″ in diameter from point to point and weighs only 238g. So, if you wanted to make a two colour version it would only use 2 balls of Stylecraft Special DK, as they weigh 200g each! I would probably prefer a more colourful version, but the option’s there. If you have lots of small leftover balls you could also make a really stripy version too. The colour combination is your oyster….

After crocheting now for 4 years I’ve really reached a saturation point where friends and family all have lots of my crochet makes, plus I’ve got as many blankets as I can use, and so I’ve decided to begin selling some makes to spread my yarny goodies a bit further afield. I’ve finally set up an Etsy Little Room of Rachell shop, after much dithering about various ways to perhaps sell items I make. (Dithering seems to get worse the older I get, is this only me?) and I’ve listed this blanket as my first item. I’m going to make a pinker version to list next. Due to a limit on characters I had to drop the The, but I think that’s ok in the scheme of things!

Spice of Life CAL 

At the beginning of August Black Sheep Wools asked me if I’d like to take part in a crochet along (CAL) beginning in the middle of September, all yarn provided. How exciting! A CAL and a free bundle of yarn. I don’t find it easy to be all secret squirrel, but I’ve managed it. Phew.

The blanket is designed by Sandra Paul of Cherry Heart blog. I’ve been thinking about doing a multi-stitch blanket for ages and this looks a goodie.

All the information about the Spice of Life CAL is here on the Black Sheep Wools website. There’s also a Facebook group so everyone taking part can chat, ask questions and share their finished blankets. You can check out people’s pictures on Instagram too by using the tag #spiceoflifecal 

Everyone seems to love a CAL and this is Black Sheep Wool’s first. It’s looking very promising; today I’ve seen the Facebook group members go from 5 of us to over 300, and counting, and this is only the first day it’s been publicised. It feels fun to be part of something from the beginning.

I chose my own colour combination for the blanket 

 
In order from the top, left to right:

parchment, clematis, grey, denim, silver, (2 for the border) lime

storm blue, stone, grape, sage, parma violet, lavender, raspberry 

This seemed a good opportunity to try some of the new Stylecraft Special DK colours, pretty aren’t they? I think I’m going to use the lime and raspberry sparingly, just to add a little zing. 

Do you fancy joining the CAL too? You can order a choice of yarn packs from Black Sheep Wools, choose your own brand and colours, or use up yarn in your stash. This might be an ideal project to use up leftovers. The first part of the pattern will be available on 22nd September, so there’s plenty of time to organise what you want to do. 

Gunby Hall & Gardens 

   
    
    
    
    
 Gunby Hall and Gardens in Lincolnshire were looking spectacular yesterday. Yes, this was yesterday not mid-July! What a beautifully warm day. Gunby is definitely one of our favourite National Trust properties of the year: the staff were extremely welcoming, but not intrusive, the hall and garden were immaculate, fresh produce from the garden is sold cheaply in the shop, I picked up a brilliant bargain in the secondhand book area and the coffee and walnut cake was delicious. Win win! 

On Saturday there was another BBQ in the field, the last of the year I guess now. If you fancy seeing a couple of the charity shop crochet blankets, which my cousin picked up for people to use when the sun goes down, then check out my Instragram pics (click on the camera icon in pink,  top right of this page). Because nether of us had made them, there was no worry about ketchup/wine/beer spills, sweet little cocker spaniels  jumping up to sit on your lap for a fuss, or whatever else! Apart from a China Teacup Poodle, which I used to have to suffer sitting on my lap in a friend’s car in Australia, this is the first time I’ve willingly had a dog sit on my lap. It’s actually ok, but I’m not making a habit of it. Cats though are welcome. 

Something old (fashioned) & something new 


It’s amazing how much difference a good blocking makes isn’t it? From a scrunched up cobweb, to a flat loopy doily. I really liked the slow process of pinning it out onto a foam mat and spraying it too, it’s relaxing.

  
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And now something completely different; Celeste Young’s Rainbow Ripple Baby Blanket (free on Ravelry.) It’s so enjoyable because of the novelty of trying a new pattern. Also, I have to say that although I really like the DMC Natura cotton, this Stylecraft feels so soft and comfortable on the hands. I’m going to offer this for sale and put the money towards the WordPress Premium fee.  To be honest I’m also running out of things I, family and friends need now!

On a girly day out it’s mandatory to treat oneself to a pretty thing or two, isn’t it? I bought a lovely set of 3 notebooks last week in a Cath Kidson shop. This one is now used for craft notes and lists. Yesterday I found myself eying the skinny pencil case, again, in a John Lewis. It’s really a vital purchase for crochet kit when on trips away, well I think so anyway!


Pretty pink 

   
    
   Last night’s IG progress pic 

  Is it ever going to stop raining? Crocheting more pot holders in the garden in the sun, on Saturday, now feels like a long time ago. It rained on Sunday, on Monday and yesterday. Last night I woke up because of the wind and the rain. Today it’s still raining heavily and steadily.

One upside of all the rain is that I am finishing off bits of crochet; mainly so I can start some more. I really do prefer decorative but practical things but I’ve completely contradicted myself by making a doily… I’ve never made a mandala and always said that they are just 21st-century versions of a doily, then I made a doily! A crafty friend says she actually prefers doilies in modern yarns and colours, as she reckons the patterns tend to be a bit more complex. It was absorbing,  I really enjoyed following the pattern. It’s from Simply Crochet magazine, issue 33 and is by Anne Egan. Like others; well to be strictly honest one other I found in my Google (but I bet there’s lots) I omitted the final round. I tried the mini-clovers and it just wasn’t joyful or relaxing. That’s an understatement…  I just couldn’t work out which way to go round and they looked a mess, so I went in to the previous round with DCs instead.  Later I need to block it. Perhaps they might be easier with finer thread, rather than DC cotton and a 4 mm hook? They’re definitely a challenge I’m going to take up in the future. Rah!!!

Pretty useful 

   
    
 I’m not really one for making decorative things for the sake of making them, I prefer to make practical things. Things that look pretty, but will actually serve a purpose are the best. Potholders seem to be my thing, potholders and washcloths. 

The pattern for the dandelion clock potholder (which looking at the pattern actually has one square in the middle of each flower a lighter shade of pink; so I imagine it’s meant to be a daisy or something. But I thought thistle or dandelion clock for mine as I really think they’re just as nice)  is from Kat Goldin’s Hook, Stitch and Give. It has been sitting waiting for me to use it again, but I had an embargo on starting any other crochet projects until that blanket was finished! 

Of course you could just crochet some squares, do some cross stitch decoration, or not, and then DC around the edges through both loops to fix them together. But the book is lovely and I wanted the relaxation of following some well written patterns, and no – I’m not being paid to promote it. 

I’ve used DMC Natura cotton as I had loads that Simply Crochet magazine sent me for designing the bag brooch. It’s so nice to work with and I’ve never been a huge fan of crocheting with cotton.  I think that it’s hard on the hands because it’s not flexible, also it’s just not as comforting to hold as wool or acrylic yarns, but I’m a fan of this cotton. One website has 50 different colours for sale. I got a voucher for my birthday too… 

The scruffy potholder is one I made a year or two ago, it’s well used because someone (naming no names) dropped our largest saucepan lid and it shattered. It’s such a good heavy based pan that I use with a baking sheet on the top, which course gets hot…

Guess what I’m making now? 

Hidcote, again 

   
    
    
    
    
 It’s so lovely at Hidcote that you could visit every week and notice something new. In fact I know someone who once visited every month one year, so as to see the garden changing throughout the four seasons. She can give you the Latin and common names for most of the plants, describe where they used to stand in her last garden and where they are now planted in her new one.

 As for me I just like to sniff the scented air, admire the colours and shapes and imagine myself wafting around the garden with a book under one arm and a craft bag hanging from the other. A bell to ring for an afternoon gin and tonic, cocktail or pot of tea would also be good.

Small things 

   

  

 I seem to be in a bit of a cross stitch phase again. I usually do an annual cross stitch in the summer, just a little one, but it’s continuing at the moment. I have another little kit lined up too. It’s the better light levels, and the fact it’s not a hot, heavy wooly thing during warm weather.

The last is a pot holder in progress, from Hook, Stitch and Crochet by clever clogs Kat Goldin. I watched Bridesmaids (again) and chortled away while I stitched last night. It’s a bit homespun but fun to do.

I’ve found out why WordPress seemed to take against Mum’s William Morris curtains so…after nearly four years I’ve finally used up all the free capacity and had to pay to go premium. I quite like having the shorter domain, TheLittleRoomofRachell.com sounds snazzy, but I might sell a blanket or few to go towards the cost. 

I’m off to rejig that blanket post. I can now add all the photos I wanted to include the first time, before it kept telling me I’d failed.

William Morris inspired motif blanket …..Finished!

   



If you hadn’t already guessed; the blanket is for my Mother and the William Morris design curtains are hers. She wanted a new blanket for the end of her bed to keep her feet warm and to snuggle up in during Winter. This will replace one that was made by my great grandmother for her many years ago, when I was just a twinkle in the sky. So, the pressure to get this blanket right and as lovely as I could make it, was high. I did wrap it in Christmas paper, singing falalalala, la la la LA! and it was received with pleasure.

 I was hoping to take some washing line pics, but post-blocking the weather was rather grim. These are not the best photos of a finished item at all; due to the poor light levels. And I realised afterwards that I’d plonked it on the bed rather quickly and didn’t smooth it out, oops sorry! Still, you do get the idea of its size and look…

I wonder if anyone will be inspired to use these Autumnal, rather retro colours? They weren’t my thing at all at first, but they really grew on me. It’s sometimes good to do something completely different. I’d given Mum my Stylecraft Special DK shade card and she chose the colours, while comparing them to the curtains. They look really good together, she chose well.

Yarn: Stylecraft Special DK

  1. Silver
  2. Grey
  3. Walnut
  4. Copper
  5. Spice
  6. Mocha
  7. Matador
  8. Parchment
  9. Cream
  10. Camel
  11. Apricot

Hook: 4mm for the motifs and JAYGO rounds

3.5mm for the border

Length: 5′ 7″ / 67″

Width: 3′ 5″ / 41″

Weight: 1,422kg

Motif: my own design as follows…

UK terms

FR: Ch6, ss to join into circle

R1: Ch4 (Counts as1 tr and ch 1) *Tr into circle, ch 1 repeat from * 10 more times, join with ss to 3rd ch of ch , ss into next ch sp (12 tr)

R2: Ch3, tr2tog in same space, ch3 *tr3tog in next ch sp, ch3, repeat from * 10 more times, join with ss to top of ch3, ss in next ch3 sp

R3: Ch3, tr2tog,ch2, *tr3tog repeat twice from * to corner then tr3tog, ch3, tr3tog and so on around motif, ss to ch3

R4: As for R3 repeat from * three times to corner then tr3tog, ch3, tr3tog and so on around motif, ss to ch3

R5: Now a more traditional granny square round without clusters: Ch3, tr2, ch2, *tr 3, ch2, tr 3 repeat from * to corner then tr3, ch2, tr3 (I found that ch2 in the corners of this round worked best, but you might find continuing with ch3 works best in yours.)

R6: JAYGO using a ch1, ss, ch 1 in the corners, along the sides ss, ch 1 then tr3  and so on (see this tutorial by Lucy of Attic 24 for help if you need it.)

Please let me if these instructions make no sense, or if you notice an error, it happens!

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Border: When doing the first row of the pre-border edging you’ll find where you’ve JAYGOed two motifs together you have a lot of stitches along the edge each time when you come to where the corners of the motifs are joined (see photo above.) This is the solution that was passed on to me by Rachel, aka Mrs Pip: treble one stitch on the left hand side of the join, then treble two together – with a treble placed on each side of the JAYGO join – then make a final treble. This leaves only 3 stitches for the next round, but is wide enough to straddle the seam without being too tight. I enjoyed this round, it felt both interestingly different to crochet and pretty ingenious!

I did the final pre-border round in parchment, with a dc into each tr of the previous round and 3 in the centre stitch of each corner.

 Showing the back of the border

Border: #107 from Around the Corner Crochet Borders by Edie Eckman. It’s lovely and I really like the 3D effect that rounds 2 and 4 give from making dcs into the front loop only. It’s a thick border which goes particularly well with this heavy blanket.

I steam blocked the entire finished blanket, lying it on my foam mats on top of beach towels, blocking two thirds then the last third. Wear SHOES if you do the same, do not block scald your feet!

And now I’m crocheting a very small thing…

I’m singing, loudly

🎶 “The hills are alive with the possibilities of crochet!” 🎶

  I’ll write up all the yarn colours, my motif design and everything you might want to know, plus photos, next week. I plan to block it on Monday, and hand it over wrapped in Christmas paper soon after…

Just after I blogged the other day I had an email that felt spooky in its timing, it’s dead exciting and absolutely perfect. That’s all I’m saying, for now! 

Nearly there!

‘Its the final countdown!’ Yes, I’m singing. Typically in the summer I don’t crochet nearly as much as the rest of the year. I think it’s counter-intuitive when it’s so hot; I just don’t feel like having a big woolly blanket on my lap but I have done little bits and pieces to my border.  Now I’m on the penultimate round, nearly there. In fact I can see the initial stitch of the row ahead of me! I can’t tell you how good it is going to feel to finish this blanket. It’s been a work of love, but also I feel I haven’t been able to start anything else crochetwise until it’s finished. 

When it’s completed I can imagine me doing a Maria; running out into the countryside flinging my arms in the air and singing the hills are alive with the possibilities of crochet!!!