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!

IMG_6310
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!!!  

    
 

A summer weekend 

   
    
     

  
  
    
My cousin has a cottage in the middle of the Lincolnshire countryside. She bought the field opposite the cottage and now she and her Mister host BBQS for friends and family during the summer. It’s really lovely there. The skies are huge, you can see nothing but sky, fields and the owl flies over every day at five or six o’clock, depending on the season. He usually hoots me to sleep late at night too. 

To make the most of the weekend we fit in a lot of fun including: a visit to the smart shops and deli at Doddington Hall (must go back to see the quilt exhibition, or see if it moves somewhere else) a long seaside walk topped off with locally – Skegness – made ice cream at Mabelthorpe. It never changes at Mabelthorpe which is part of the charm of the place, that and the wide expanse of sandy beach. It was a good job we’d walked miles; the ice cream was followed up by freshly made doughnuts – the danger of burnt fingers is worth the bliss of the eating –  and then fish & chips in the excellent Monty’s. We also visited the pretty market town Louth with its plethora of independent shops, the Lincolnshire Wold Railway (a slightly unnerving experience, I’m not going to lie) a relaxed visit to a country pub nearby and a good look around Belton House and some of the extensive grounds on the way home. This is one of our favourite National Trust visits. I particularly recommend the Below Stairs timed ticket tour, it’s so interesting.

I’m loving making the most of the long light days and warm summer.

How can I have forgotten this – Colin Firth sits at the writing desk in one of the bedrooms at Belton House. Some of the house was used in Pride Prejuduce – though not for the wet shirt lake scene, as there is no lake! A sweet old man, who is one of the room guides there told us that you will see him in a room at Belton, then he walks out of it and into another – that is at another location altogether. It’s really cleverly edited, the continuity must be extremely challenging! 

 

With a little help from my friend 

  After undoing my rows of border three times I wailed HELP! to my crochet buddy Rachel. I’d first chosen a border from this book, wasn’t happy with how it looked so went with my own design, wasn’t happy so redid it and found on my third attempt and the third round (after a lot, a lot of crochet) that it was puckering. Frilly edging appeared because there were obviously too many stitches. When I made my Tilting Squares blanket I didn’t have the same problem at all….

Argh!

Rachel immediately sent me a pic of her blanket showing a JAYGO join and border, with instructions for a fab little solution. She had seen this on a blog ages ago and mentally filed the technique away. So, when having similar problems with her border she remembered what to do: 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. Can you see mine in the photo above?

Very clever isn’t it? 

I’m passing on the tip because someone might be having the same issue, right now.

Iced tea 

   
Make a pint of tea, I used Tetley Berry Burst Flavoured Green Tea. Leave to steep till strong. 
Add honey to taste and sprigs of mint. Leave the mint to infuse for a while. 

Double the liquid with a pint of cold water if you’re in a hurry to drink it immediately, but if you can make it ahead it’s better to leave the tea to cool and it will obviously be stronger. 

Add frozen raspberries, a few fresh sprigs of mint to decorate and lots of ice.

Of course you can always omit the raspberries and add whatever fruit you have to hand; such as slices of lemon, orange, lime or other fruit.
Enjoy!

Summer Snapshot

   
    
    
 I’ve been holidaying in West Cornwall during a really beautiful week of weather, walking over 55 miles of coastal paths and local trails, exploring the local area, eating all the seaside holiday faves: pasties, fish and chips, cream tea and loving trying the local ciders.  Rattler (apple) cider is definitely my favourite. 

There was so much to see and photograph: particularly the spectacular coastline from all angles on the peninsula. As you headed away from the sea over a hill, or around a bend you would see it again. We were based only 8 miles from Lands End and wild flowers, butterflies, rabbits, birds and fish abounded. 

Then it was time to come home and I found my plants had grown inches (the dahlias are a foot taller – really) my porch pot has taken off, as you see, compared to the mere 3 flowers it had when I last saw it. There were juicy strawberries to eat, chillies had appeared in abundance and the herbs are bursting out of their pots. We have a very good neighbour who waters while we are away!

Although I took all my crochet kit away, to work on the border of the motif blanket, I didn’t do any. In the evenings it was too hot, or we were eating at a local pubs or sipping wine on the terrace looking out on the 180 degree view of the sea (taking far too many photos of the sunsets), or we were walking by the sea in the evening breeze. All I’ve done, since coming back, is a few rows of knitting of my Hitchhiker shawl. It’s really a scarf isn’t it? I’m not sure where/when calling everything a shawl started.

Now it’s far too hot to have a wooly blanket on my lap!  Today it’s 32 0c and reportedly the hottest day in 9 years. I was in Australia and missed the last one, but remember seeing news reports of tarmac on roads bubbling and railway lines buckling; much to the Aussies amusement. 

  
Like many I have reeled on reading about the death of Wink, there are no words to express my sadness. She will be missed by so many. XX

Bright Stripy Blanket….finished 

             

Bright Stripy blanket 

Stylecraft Special DK: Lime Petrol Emperor Raspberry Silver Pale Rose  

4mm hook

Starting chain: 148 + 3 (148 trebles)

Stitches: doubles, trebles, half trebles 

Border: I made trebles into the space after 2 stitches on each side of the blanket, 1- 2 trebles in each row depending on the thickness of the stripe. The border is 6 rows in total: 2 of lime and 4 of petrol. (2 tr, 2 ch, 2 tr) in the corners 

Dimensions: 38″ W  40″ L

Weight: 544g

As you see, I decided to crochet stripes of varying thickness including quite wide blocks of colour. It’s a purposely  large baby blanket as his big sister’s Jewel blanket is still in good use even now she’s over two years. A little hanky sized one is too quickly grown out of, though I note with amusement that big sister has been covering the baby with the Catherine Wheel stitch doll’s blanket I made at the beginning of the year.  It very cute to see. 

Tip: find the brightest spot, as you can probably tell it’s the top of the stairs today, and drop the finished blanket. This makes for a very natural looking photograph. With top tips like that perhaps I should be adding one of those slightly awkward ‘Buy me a cup of coffee’ PayPal gizmos?! Ha!  

The last two ends 

   These are the last two ends to be darned and then the Bright Stripy Blanket is finished. It’s always a good feeling isn’t it? 

The expected girl turned out to be a boy, rather to the initial shock of my friend, so this is a fairly pink blanket. Rather than the planned lime border I’ve finished it in petrol; to emphasise the blue stripes.  

What are you up to at the moment?

Hitchhiker progress 

      

It’s not perfect. I’ve had to stop myself several times from ripping it out and rewinding the yarn, but I’m sticking with it. I’ve swapped to 4mm instead of 3mm circulars, so started again once already, because the gauge was tiny. A scarf for a doll! 

The wool is so fine, being sock yarn, that it slips off my shiny metal Nova knit-pro needles often so the tension is a little wiggy in places; but as I said I am resisting my perfectionist tendencies and leaving it be. 

I love the colours, this is expensive but very lovely yarn (merino wool, kid mohair, polyamide and mulberry silk.) 

Fruit smoothie 

 This is the nicest smoothie I’ve made, apart from the watermelon based ones when I added vodka last summer, but that’s another story!

Fruit Smoothie 

Serves 1 

50g frozen raspberries

1 banana 

1 175g strawberry muller light yoghurt

150ml skimmed milk

Put all in a blender and whizz until smooth.

—-

You can use fresh fruit but I much prefer using frozen as it makes a deliciously cold smoothie. If you use ice it melts and dilutes the flavour. 

If you use less yoghurt adjust the milk ie: 120g yoghurt, 200g milk. 

Play around with the yoghurt flavour or use plain, and try different fruits. Grapes are a bit weird as you get bits of skin and it doesn’t look so appealing!

If you have any good smoothie recipes, using fruit or veg, or both, please let me know.
 

A little walk

I wanted to test out my knee yesterday, I can’t tell you how cabin fevery I got resting it all last week. So we set off to look at the work of local artisans. Just a little stroll, gently does it, if it felt ok we might slowly wander to the next village too… 

                               The sun was out, it was lovely and warm. I love to feel the sun on my face as I walk, well who doesn’t? Cow parsley, buttercups and bluebells are in full bloom, plus who can resist stopping for a little chat with skittish calves, oohing and ahhing over lazy lambs and watching birds effortlessly soaring overhead?

We walked 9 miles, with a pit stop at a lovely country pub for a pint of lager shandy and bag of crisps. This was really not the plan! Luckily my knee is pretty ok. It was a lovely, lovely ‘stroll’ ! 

Have you had a good weekend?

Yep: I’m knitting a Hitchhiker too

          Every time I scroll through the pretty pics on Instagram I see the Hitchhiker pattern being knit by someone. Seeing this many pictures of the same item is really a form of brain washing, or extremely effective advertising, so the other day I found myself click clicking on Ravelry here and in receipt of the pdf. I only wish I’d designed it as I read somewhere that 18,000+ (and I’m hoping this is true and not a wild exaggeration!) copies of the pattern have been sold.

I got so indignant about a character’s behaviour in my audio book, A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson, that I had to undo some last night as the teeth were at the wrong end. I only noticed after 8 more rows. D’oh! Apart from times of audio distraction it’s very easy and satisfying knitting.

I hope you don’t feel like I’m spamming you with too many posts this week. It’s just that I’ve had more to show as I’m not just plodding on with the same couple of makes. Also I’ve got lots of free time as I’ve been laid up resting my knee. 

What are you up to at the moment?

Mock Cable Wristies 

  All sewn up and ready to wear  for Autumn.

 It’s hard to get pictures showing the true colour; I think because the sunlight glints off the sparkles on the finished wristies, but these are very close. 

Can you see the sparkles? It’s such a pretty pink yarn and incredibly soft.  It’s Louisa Harding Oriele, cerise, and is a DK yarn with 97% baby alpaca and 3% metallic polyamide – aka the sparkley bit. There are many other lovely colours too. I didn’t even intend to buy it, but saw someone in the yarn shop knitting the wrisites with the same wool, and before I knew it my purse was out and I had a bag with a skein and wristie qpattern in hand. They get you like that, don’t they? 
The skein was 50g and plenty for the pair of wristies. I knit them with the 3.75mm needles specified in the pattern. Now the 3mm I’m using for the sock yarn feel even tinier.

If you want to knit your own wrisites I’m not really giving much away when I say you knit some rows of double rib for the wristband, mock cables until they’re the desired length, then a few more rows of double rib to finish them off. You can probably tell that just by looking. 

You have a rectangle to sew up (mattress stitch is best I reckon), leaving a hole for the thumb. Make sure you carefully check that the thumb holes are in the same place for both….unless you fancy wonky mitts. Then go for it anyhow you please.

Earler I left my (still excellent) audio book, sofa and cold pack to venture outside, into the real world! I dropped some smoked trout off at a friend’s and admired that gorgeous wisteria. Then popped to Sainsbury’s. Getting in and out of the car with a tubi-grip on my knee made me pull ridiculous faces. I probably made a few Ow and Ouch sounds too. Well it hurt. I noticed an elderly woman in the car park with a “Buck up your ideas, for goodness sake!” expression on her face, and wanted to explain what it was all about. We don’t do this in England generally, so I hobbled inside towards the salad veg instead.

These two blog posts have cheered me up and made me laugh this afternoon: The Cat isn’t Speaking to me on Yarn Harlot and  Carry-all: a Soup Story on Cosy Made Things. 

I felt dull witted for a little while in a ‘Where’s the problem?’ kind of way, because I’m not much of a knitter, then pretty superior: ‘I would never do that!’ in response to Kristen’s post. So all in all I feel fairly balanced now. 
You?

Still not knitting 

…instead of darning ends, ends and more ends! 

I now have only six rows of bright stripes left to crochet; due to having enforced rest for a few days because of a pesky joint (no, not that kind.) 

If you’re into audio books try the new Kate Atkinson: A God in Ruins. It’s so superb that I can’t stop listening, and I only started yesterday. It’s definitely made things like ice packs, sitting and generally too much inactivity easier to put up with. An interesting book along with mindless crochet, and of course the knitting I haven’t done, can make time whizz. 

Two alpaca soft wool wristies have NOT been knitted, with one sewn up. 

And of course it’s not me who is about to wind this gorgeous yarn and knit with it… 

     

What are you up to? 

Definitely not knitting 

I’ve got to finish darning my motif blanket (it’s going well and best described as: slow but steady) and crochet lots more stripes. So, I’m still determinedly not going to start knitting anything, or begin any new project, until they’re finished. 

 I can still buy the occasional treats though. A gorgeous pottery coaster and a skein of the most deliciously soft yarn which is 97% baby alpaca, (see the silver sparkles in it?)  along with a little pattern for wristies with a mock cable pattern.
  It would be foolish to begin a new make, when I’ve really got to finish the overdue motif blanket which is for someone else. Equal pleasure can surely be gained from darning and half watching a Pirates of the Caribbean film can’t it? 

   Bright stripes are good for the day after the night before, when one by one leaders are resigning and pundits are still reeling from false predictions. 

What are you definitely not doing? 

In the bluebell wood

                    Once again Mum and I went to the bluebell wood to wander. So many flowers! Bluebells of course, but also cowslips, orchids (pyramid apparently, though she was going to check this when home) crab-apple blossom, cherry blossom and little violets. 

No deer thundered towards us, unlike last year although we walked quietly to the same spot in the adjacent field (planted with beans this time.) It is such a peaceful spot, the birds were singing their hearts out and we had the whole woods to ourselves; no dog walkers or snipper snappers like me.

We ate a cosy picnic in the car because the wind was pretty chill outside in the open. I was amused to see a woman with five large dogs: (eek!) a retriever, rottweiler, labrador, an-other and ditto) having to carry the sixth; a naughty greyhound, to her Range Rover because it completely refused to leave! 

Progress being made

  In a way I’m quite pleased the temperatures have dropped to a more typical Springtime coolness. I’ve been quite content to snuggle in my poncho and listen to my current audio book; the very enjoyable ‘Various Pets Alive and Dead’ by Marina Lewycka (stories about a commune called Solidarity Hall up in the North in the late 1960s, read by the excellent Sian Thomas? Oh yes please!) and darn more of my JAYGO ends.

And also in these chillier evenings some more bright striping…

   With some blogs you could be shown a series of photos, without knowing whose they are, and you would instantly know. So many people have favourite colour combos that they use again and again, which are especially recognisable now I’ve followed them for the last 4 – 5 years. But look at these 3 and would you guess it’s me? Admittedly the motif blanket’s colours have been chosen by another, but I’ve realised that since I’ve learnt to crochet I’ve used all kinds of combos and single shades without settling for one over and over again….yet…

What does this (bank holiday) weekend offer?

Springtime at Cliveden 

                It continues to be a gorgeous sunny warm Spring here in the South of England. Walking at Cliveden (6.5 miles, now pretty much a breeze apart from really steep bits!) in beautiful sun, seeing abundant wild bluebells and primroses feels like such a treat. You need to catch bluebells while they bloom; it never feels as if they are around for long. I’m sure we usually go to the bluebell woods of my childhood in May, everything seems earlier this year. 

Here are some photos from Cliveden last Summer if you’re interested in comparing the planting of the parterre then and now. 

What’s the weather like where you are?