Another Tuesday walk with my friend B and this time it was at Stowe, a National Trust garden. There’s fascinating history to the house and estate (see here.) During a tour several years ago I heard lots of stories about Queen Victoria. She visited in 1845 when it was owned by the second Duke of Buckingham. She was not impressed with the over-spending and complained a lot about the opulence, he became heavily in debt. The house later became Stowe school in the 1920s, a private boarding school, but as you can see you can walk right in front of it. The school donated the gardens to the NT in 1989. I’m very glad about this, as it’s a superb place to visit.

Daffodils are appearing everywhere now. I love their bright yellow cheery bobbing heads. They seem to be extremely resilient to low temperatures, blasting winds and the snow we have experienced again over the weekend.

Primroses, I also love seeing these little pretties.

OH LAMBKINS! These were a lovely surprise, my first glimpse of lambs this Spring.

There were plenty of dog walkers walking the route. All were on a lead of course, but neither the lambs, nor ewes seemed worried by the dogs going past fairly close on the lane.

You can stay in this Gothic Temple, a folly overlooking the gardens. Someone was I think, as some of the lights are on and there was a car parked at the back. I’d love to have been invited in for a peep…

Imagine how spooky it would get at night, maybe red wine and plenty of it would help. Maybe not.

It’s ok Mum, I’m not coming close. I’ll just use my zoom.

Lambkin on the right is smiling! He looks glad to be alive.Rachel means ewe in Hebrew. There’s a random fact of the day for you.

The beauty of walk in Stowe gardens is that you never know what you will see next. There are sculptures, buildings, bridges, a waterfall, an ice house (I always like seeing an ice house) and much more, plus a grotto that I had not come across before. The best way to show you is on this walking map, it’s a fabulous place to visit.


Who doesn’t love seeing a lamb? Or even a lamb piccy? That’s really why I’ve written this post. Why dress it up other than as a chance to show you some photos; to maybe make you go “Ahhh” and “Oooh!”

Update – crochet

When I saw this photo by Emma of Lulu Loves blog (Hello E! – she reads my wafflings) on Instagram last Thursday I was intrigued: Did Emma crochet this? What is it that she’s making? What yarn is she using? Where’s the pattern, or did Emma design it herself? And so on and so on. I have at least three questions in every ten minute period most days, and Instagram can make my brain go into overdrive sometimes. It feels as if it’s whirling at top speed. Usually I just check the hashtags and make a mental note to check back and see what develops; other days I have to send a message. Emma is a sweetie and so instantly told me all I needed to know. Basically if you search Pinterest for ‘pineapple market bags’ you’ll find patterns she said. So I did, right away. Being a clever cookie I later found out that she made the circle for the base larger and will have a bigger bag. No matter; I don’t need a bag, but I do need to try new crochet.

I foraged in my yarn stash and came up with fairly cheapy craft cotton I bought when I was making dishcloth, and off I went. It’s basically string and so is pretty hard on your hands, but when you’re gripped trying something new, you’re gripped aren’t you?

I was buzzing because I’ve never used such a complicated Japanese symbol pattern before, with no other instructions. I have a Japanese friend in Tokyo so sent her a couple of screenshots to ask what the text said. Not a crocheter, she said ‘it is instructions.’ I left it at that, since my crochet was coming out ok.

It has to be said that I dislike that I cannot credit the designer, or recommend the book from which this pattern came. I always link to pattern sources or credit designers. If you do recognise this image, can you let me know so I can add them in please?


The middle looks wooky, doesn’t it? I must try and ease the first chain around to the right a little. I know there are bloggers who have written about ways to avoid the gappy middle and wonky line upwards altogether, where you’ve slip stitched into the third chain. I did Google and found some, but by then had already crocheted many rounds. It’s a ‘must learn’ another time. Since this is the base of a market bag it doesn’t really matter because it won’t show. Even as I type this I feel myself I feel myself resisting the temptation to grit my teeth, as a perfectionist it goes right against the grain, but sometimes it’s best to carry on and not keep unravelling…

Being cheap craft cotton it is a little splitty, but ok for this type of make.

Just one more round to complete the top of the pineapple.

It’s starting to curl upwards as it should, turning into a bag.

But there is a but, or a however with this project. That was all crocheted on Thursday. I was in my element and forgot my usual ‘Do a bit, then stop’ rule. It was 3pm before I realised I still hadn’t eaten lunch and I was ravenous. I did a little more afterwards and then called it a day. Now, really here is the but and the however: I have not picked up a hook or pair of needles since, this string has killed my elbow. Oh. My. Goodness. It is sore. So sore that I dare not aggravate it anymore. Last night I gently massaged it as it’s feeling stiff, but apart from that I’m being very wary. I do not really want to go through the process of acupuncture again. It works like a dream, but I’m hoping I dodge it this time. Last time the physio was in stitches when she asked what had inflamed it, and I replied ‘Kneading bread.’ I really don’t want to have to say ‘Crocheting a string bag.’ Cross your fingers it settles down soon please!


Have you ever used a chart with no other instructions? I liked the challenge of it (actually it’s pretty easy once you’re familiar with crochet) and will do more, when my elbow settles down….

All this beauty

“This is proper England” I found myself saying this morning, on another Tuesday morning walk with my friend B. This is a stunning new find for both of us: Evenley Wood Garden. It’s one to return to through the four seasons, to see how it’s changed.

While there we heard a woodpecker, saw various birds and heard their birdsong, caught a group of about five beautiful pheasants picking their way through the undergrowth and came across no other walkers at all, no dogs, no children and no traffic noise. A perfect patch of England, and it was all ours for an hour and a half. I love this tall variety of snowdrops. Look! It’s a carpet of cyclamen.

Hellebores, my Mother’s favourites (along with snowdrops) and there were other colours too. I didn’t photograph any more though, as we are meant to be walking briskly while looking, not just stopping and staring slack jawed.

A stream runs right through the woods. There are various bridges to cross, but I drew the line at one which was little more than a plank. Guess who had walked a mere ten steps at the beginning of the walk, then slid in slow-motion to the left, ending up lying in mud? B helped me up, like the old lady I felt I had become and then cheerfully stated: “It could have been worse; you could have choked on your pear drop!” I was walking and squelching for a while, until the mud and puddle water dried off a bit.

I came home and announced: “I’ve had a fall.”

“Don’t be ridiculous; you’re too young to ‘have a fall’, you’ve just fallen over in a lot of mud. Ha ha.”


More cyclamen, and a close up of some of the patch.

I’m not sure what the yellow flowers are…something in the far reaches of my brain (aka custard) is whispering aconites. Am I right?

It’s Knit Night tonight, I haven’t been for weeks. I think the last, and actually only, time I’ve been this year was back in January. Then the call of the sofa and the recent Siberian weather made me cling to the tv remote and sofa, hard. It’s time to come out of hibernation now.

Is it the sofa for you, or are you heading to the great outdoors to socialise one/some/most evenings at the mo?

Update – knits

“Brilliant kick! Ohh! Get over!” is what I’m hearing from the right side of the room, while I try to gather my thoughts about this post.

Now: “Noooo! Ouch….Knees don’t bend that way!” And I am firmly fixing my gaze downwards to my iPad’s screen. I do not need to see any gory injury replays. I knew these outbursts might be the case, but I had hoped for a quiet game and silent supping of beer, alongside the occasional sounds of dry roasted peanut munching. My Instagram feed is currently full of photos of knitting and crochet ‘while the rugby is on in the background’, or ‘while I watch the rugby.’ I know there are plenty of women who enjoy it too, I’m just not one of them. It’s England V France and currently 6-3 to us. I cheer when we win, but don’t watch the game.

Anyway, sorry for the sports waffle. Back to the knits; I wasn’t sure about the shouty bright pink being added to the mix in my garter stitch blanket, but it works doesn’t it? I like it quite a lot. I am sticking to it being a stash buster, so it’s going to get even more random. However the blending helps to tone down some of the less likeable shades.

I’m really enjoying this knitting, as you know I haven’t knitted much complex lace and this pattern is labelled on the Love Knitting site as intermediate. Hurray! I feel like a proper knitter. The Edenvale cowl is reversible and this is the side which faces you as you knit, but it’s definitely the other side that I prefer (shown below.)

“Are you knitting a giraffe a neck warmer?”

“Ooh look, your dream-catcher is coming on!”

I put up with a lot some days, I feel.

Not knitting, but beautiful anemones I just saw when we popped out to have a wander around a local nursery and plant centre. It’s the day to buy flowers, or a plant, as it’s Mothering Sunday tomorrow. Sainsbury’s, on Friday, looked absolutely crammed full with extra buckets and stands of flowers.

It’s been a while since I recorded what I’m reading and listening to: The Tent, the Bucket and Me by Emma Kennedy is making me laugh out loud, more than any book has made me laugh for a long time. I didn’t even really know who she is, but that doesn’t matter at all. Emma writes really well and being an actress is sublime at accents, particularly Welsh. The premise of the book is to describe the family’s disastrous attempts at camping holidays, during the 1970s. So, of course you get a bit of context of what’s going on in the country at the time, the food they eat and encounters with other holiday makers. Highly recommended. I’ve got 3 hours left to listen and I only started the audio book this week. This is probably a speed listening personal record.

I finished reading The House of New Beginnings by Lucy Diamond on Friday night. It’s nice; one of those multi-character stories, where each woman has experienced a recent trauma, heartbreak or has to adjust to a major change. There’s a fair bit of loneliness and isolation at the beginning, but you can guess where the story goes and that ultimately warm and supportive friendships gradually form. There’s nothing wrong with reading a bit of candy-floss. I also think that sometimes a story like this can encourage readers to join a new club, try something new or make an overture of friendship towards another. It can give assurances that all things pass and tricky times improve.

What about you, what are you busy with right now? Can you recommend any good reads?

The score is now 9-9 and I’ve just said SHUSH as “Argghhhhh!” was shouted and made me jump.

Linking with Ginny’s now monthly Yarn Along.

Much warmer

Walking with a friend today, it felt almost balmy outside at 8-9 degrees. Lovely! Signs of Spring are back in full force as you’ll see.

There were patches of snow alongside the roadsides, piled up on the verges and the boundaries of fields. There are deep patches despite the heavy rain that fell on Sunday. I had to smile when I parked my car and saw this on the village green:

When walking with my nieces on Sunday we spotted a similar stump in a front garden, but with 2 carrots, 4 buttons and twigs on the ground around it. I wish I’d taken a photo as it was just such a touching scene.

We popped into the pub after our walk and I found out that it was established in 1605. It was a coaching inn where the horses would be rested and fed, the passengers too no doubt. The arch led to the coach yard and stables. It is an age since I’ve been there, it’s nice and cosy inside. Much of this old village is gorgeous with the ironstone dwellings, wrought iron gates and some fantastic walled gardens.

After all that snow and minus temperatures it’s amazing to see the snowdrops again. Aren’t they resilient? I guess the clue is in the name. Can you see the pink and yellow flowers on the right? I think they’re primula.

My friend has heard Johnny Depp has a house here. I wondered if it’s this one? You can buy coach house no. 4 next door if you like?

Frankly I took this is for the Americans! I know thatched cottages are always popular.

B was trying to walk fast, keeping up our brisk pace, get the heart pumping etc and burn some calories (her multiple gins at the weekend were playing on her mind.) Her fitness app voice notifications were kicking in with how many kilometres we had walked, how fast our average pace per km etc but I kept stopping dead to whip out my iPhone. I can’t help it when I see witchy wintery trees with an ancient spire behind. I love the twigs lying on the top of the wall where they’ve fallen off.

As a side note; I’ve just googled ‘how old is ancient?’ It’s far older than this spire, so I’m going to have to repeat myself inanely and say it’s very old. When I say the pub is very old, established in 1605, Someone raises his eyebrows, as his school dates from around 1400. It’s all relative though isn’t it? In Australia I often saw signage about very old houses, only dating from 1970 something!

The pace was slowing again, but I was not guilty. The mud was so thick and squelchy along the footpath we considered turning back, but both quite like circular walks. I had to scrape my walking shoes against a tree trunk, to get the worst of the mud off when we came back into civilisation. They were almost comedy clown sized shoes, encircled with mud.

One final pic for you from today’s walk is something I’m used to seeing around, but maybe you’re not…

It’s a mounting block for horses. Do you see them where you are? Are they as old? (I’m debating retitling this whole post Really Old. It’s been totally over used after all.)

Do you want to see a cutie patooty?

Here is Winnie and her Wave Blanket. Isn’t she beautiful? I love the way she’s got her hand on the top of the milk bottle! She’s five months old now. Her Mum tells me she loves her blanket so much and uses it everyday in her pram, the car and her bouncer chair. Wherever they go people ask where it is from, it’s lovely knitting’ (sigh! / smirk.) It’s attracted a lot of attention.

Springlike temperatures, pretty wild flowers, beautiful old buildings and seeing Winnie using her Wave Blanket, there are some reasons to smile.

What’s making you smile at the mo? If you’re not feeling great, I hope things improve soon. Look after yourself.

Soup & trying to knit weather


At 0800 it’s -3 on the thermometer and doesn’t really change all day, except to get colder. The so-called Beast from the East, a very cold weather system from Siberia, is blasting the UK. We’ve got off lighter than many areas but it’s very cold. There’s no snow until late afternoon, although the village pond is already frozen solid. The canal is going that way too. As I watch the narrow boat go I can hear the ice cracking! In the time it takes me to click the photo my gloveless hand begins to tingle and hurt with the cold.

It seems a very good day to spend one of my Christmas gift vouchers on some warm West Yorkshire Spinners Shetland Tweed. I’d seen a particular cowl in Loop, Islington last year and haven’t got it out of my mind. I buy the pattern when I’m home, but can’t make head nor tail of it. There is no number of cast on stitches to start with, and more confusion besides. Nearly £5 and it’s a pretty awful pattern, touted as suitable for lace knitting beginners but it’s clearly not. I should have have taken more notice of the zero reviews. I check it’s not me, missing something obvious, and ask a very clever test knitter and designer who I turn to for knitting advice occasionally. She says it’s one of the worst patterns she’s ever seen. You just don’t know this until you have the pdf unfortunately. I email the company selling the pattern (it’s also on Ravelry, for even more money) knowing they have a zero refund policy, once you’ve downloaded the pdf. My email contains a list of issues with the pattern, provided by my contact. I have a full refund and apology by 9pm. Drat though! That cowl has been in my thoughts for ages. My star knitty friend then goes above and beyond. My instagram is suddenly beeping like crazy. She sends me links to 13 lace cowl patterns: “Which are on Ravelry and far better written.” I chose Edenvale. It’s going to be a very warm cowl as it’s in aran weight wool, but I’m hoping I don’t find it too scratchy to wear…

I feel chilly and can’t get warm, so I wear my Holey Cowl over the top of my Mira Cowl. I’ve never worn either inside the house before.

I get my nostepinne out to wind a skein and Someone texts me:

“Stick the oven on, I’m just leaving”

“Argh!!! I’ve got a skein of wool wrapped around my knees!”


It’s -5 at 0742 so I’m staying in bed reading for a while, because I can! It’s so cold sticking your arm out of the covers, even with the radiator full on.

I meet up with Mum and we go to the library and pop to the supermarket for her groceries. When we come out the car park is swirling white with a snow blizzard. It’s hard to see where the car is parked! We go to her home for soup and toast. Barty naughtily sits on the worktop, watching the snow fall.


The window thermometer tell me it’s -4 and there are gusty winds with light snow at 10:00. I plan to make chicken soup, update my card details on the national Lottery website (ready for that huge jackpot win) and start my cowl. The heating is on full blast, but I’m still cold. I dig out my Poncho and am so pleased as it instantly warms my shoulders.

I relearn how to do a long-tail cast on. If you’re also a leftie watch Bill Souza teach the left handed LTCO, he’s very good.

Next I need to do a tension swatch, but can I do flat knitting for what will be a circular knit? Instagrammers tell me I can, but there’s a special technique to it. Purl Soho have a good guide. I check my swatch after an inch or so, because my Knitting Answer book says I will be able to tell how it’s going by then. They say to measure 4″ and count the number of stitches, it’s easier than my usual method of the other way around. My tension is perfect for the cowl pattern! Wey-hey I don’t think that’s ever happened before.

I need to cast on 120 stitches. My book describes various methods to decide how long to leave your tail. I choose the one where you allow an inch of yarn per stitch. Someone is incredulous and says “But that’s 10 feet of wool!” and indeed he turns out to be right. It seems the easiest method, so I get the big tape measure out of the junk drawer in the kitchen. It is more than enough, really and truly. My little piece of knitting is destined to have a massively long tail. It’s a waste of good Shetland Tweed. Maybe next time I’ll try another method and calculate the tail measurement by multiplying the circumference of the finished item 3 1/2 times. What do you do? Cable cast ons are an absolute breeze in comparison.

At the end of a mere 5 hours I have relearned the cast on, swatched for circular knitting, cast on 120 long tailed stitches, painfully knit the first round (my CO is so tight that the tweed feels like garden twine cutting my poor fingers) and slowly knit 3 rounds.

I think this cowl had better look half ok, because I’m fighting my perfectionist tendencies all the way. I will not allow myself to unravel a single bit. I can’t have spent 5 hours in total today with nothing to show. Sometimes it’s better to actually use new skills and refine them as you go, while accepting the first item will not be the best. I find this hard. My natural tendency with tricky knitting is to undo it again and again. I lose heart. Decide I just can’t do it, it’s rubbish and then I move on to something easier different. Not this time! I want to crack lace knitting. Hard lace knitting, not mere holes in cowls.

Friday (today)

-4 at 0800 and it’s clearly snowed some more overnight. It’s now about 4″ deep. We decide to go out for a walk and so wrap up as warmly as we can. It’s -2 by the time we go, but the BBC weather app tells me with the wind chill factor it feels like -9. Pretty soon my legs and bottom feel numb. Someone smugly tells me he’s toasty, because he’s wearing his fishing thermals. Wah! And I’m wearing jeans, which I know, I know, are the most useless thing in this weather. My legs are red like lobsters when I take down my jeans, back at home. Luckily I have the brilliant idea of leaving a spicy lentil soup to cook in the slow cooker, while we’re out. I delegate the chopping and initial cooking of spices, onion, celery and carrot while I shower. What a brain wave. It is super (souper!) to smell lunch ready and waiting for us when we return.

Not many are out at all, we see a handful of people with sledges but it’s bitterly cold for the dogs and their walkers. With the icy wind cutting across our cheeks and snow beginning to fall, it’s a big relief to be home.

It’s been snowing steadily for over an hour now. I will knit my 4th round soon. Wish me luck!

My cousin has been holed up in a pub in Lincolnshire for 2 nights. It isn’t that far from where she lives, but the roads are impassible so she hasn’t been able to get home. There are definitely worse places to be stranded; if that were me, I would drop my Dry Lent like a shot.

How cold, or warm, is it where you are? Any snow? Let’s share a weather report from around the world.

Taking Stock – February

Making : Slow Cooked Beef Brisket, recipe here except I added lashings of balsamic vinegar too. Cooked for 8 hours on medium, then sliced the beef and gently reheated it in the sauce, in a heavy based pan on the hob, the next day. I think slow cooked food is always better eaten the day after, to meld the flavours. I thickened the sauce with a tbsp of cornflour mixed into a little cold water. Delicious.

Cooking : the above to eat with potatoes, petit pois and kale

Drinking : lots of jasmine tea this morning, 2 x 1 pint mugs

Reading: I’ve just given up on the rather tedious The Old Curiosity Shop by Dickens. To be honest I had a sneaking suspicion I was going to do an Oscar Wilde. He reportedly said: ‘One would have to have a heart of stone to read the death of little Nell without dissolving into tears…of laughter.’

Wanting: to spend my Christmas gift cards, but still haven’t found anything apart from new socks at Fatface. These,these which I’m wearing now and this delicious pair

Looking: at these Dr Who props in the BBC lobby on Saturday. My friend and I walked past and went to peep in the windows. A security guard invited us to come in to look. We watched the last few minutes of the Winter Olympics curling on one of the huge screens. (We lost to Japan.)

Playing: my friend’s Adventure Bus Game on foot, my nifty adaption. You set off walking in a random direction, with no destination in mind and take turns to choose left, right or straight ahead at the next junction. We ended up in the BBC, then Regents Park. After 5 miles we went for a late lunch here.

Deciding: to go to the library for new books soon

Wishing: to meet the UK winner of Friday’s £78 million euro millions win. What did they decide to do first? I had a message when I was walking down Baker Street, London on Saturday morning – “Did you see this news article? (‘Massive Jackpot Split between one UK and one Spanish winner, £78 mil each’) Is it you?! Have you checked?”

Enjoying: lots of winter warmers featuring tasty sauces – lamb hot pot and that beef brisket last weekRegents Park croci

Waiting: for dried mealworms to arrive by post, the Blue Tits can’t get enough of them. The robin doesn’t use the stick on balcony window feeder here, but they do. You look up and see a little blue and yellow thing looking at you!

Liking: the bright blue skies and sunshine, although it’s very very cold. Currently we have wind blowing from Siberia, so on Saturday it was 5 degrees but with the wind chill factor felt like 1. Brrrrr. Also, really liked seeing the first blossom in Regents Park

Wondering: if the media are making a huge unnecessary OTT fuss about the ‘dire weather’ coming this week and next. My friend G just Whatsapped to say the news site is advising people to be home by 6pm tonight in her area. Woah!

Loving: my new slow start yeast, the bread is light and rises like a rocket

Pondering: which colours for the next strip, then realising my tension must have been way tighter so redoing the entire third strip

Considering: whether to sew or crochet the strips together, crochet usually wins hands down

Buying: lamb mince to make koftas

Watching: Grace and Frankie

Marvelling: at the ages of the four main characters, it’s excellent to see seniors leading a successful series

Hoping: I’m still as fit and able at Jane Fonda’s age

Cringing: at my renewed nail biting

Needing: a new book

Questioning: if any of you have read Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty? Good? Might have asked this before…

Smelling: Dry Roast Peanuts

Wearing: a head of Crystal Tipps (and Alastair) hair

Following: the dire water situation in Cape Town

Noticing: how dry my skin is in this weather Icicles on the water features at Waterperry Gardens shop

Knowing: there was no way Muller Light yoghurt can replicate raspberry doughnut flavour. Indeed, it’s horrid

Thinking: Ruby Wax’s analogy about thoughts being like leaves swirling past, along a pavement is very apt

Admiring: people’s openness in discussing tricky topics on IG and the respectful, often very supportive comments in reply

A rather deliciously wicked meeting place: Lola’s in Selfridge’s, Oxford Street London

Sorting: out which snowdrop pics to keep, so many taken at Waterperry Gardens yesterday

Getting: down to gently look at the insides of snowdrops. This is something I’ve copied from my Mum, it’s often surprising how much colour is inside these little white flowers

So many varieties: singles, doubles, dwarf, tall, big and plump, fine and delicate. Snowdrops are very special

Bookmarking: new recipes, any meatless recipes you enjoy and can recommend? Variety is good

Coveting: “What am I coveting at the moment?” “Other people’s gin.”

I’m doing Dry Lent once again….

Disliking: The taste of sweeteners

Opening: bird books and many websites, then putting a pic on my Instagram account to ask for help to identify a bird – the consensus was that it’s a female chaffinch

Giggling: at Barty apparently not deserving his new catnip toys. Sunday morning Mum was in her sitting room and noticed a sparrow walking across the carpet in front of the window!

Feeling: thirsty, I always seem to write that when TS

Snacking: on radishes

Helping: motivate a friend, but not taking my own advice

Hearing: an aeroplane

Mixing: tonic water with ice and lime, pretending it’s as good as a G&T

Worrying: well, there’s always something

Slicing: onions for virtually every recipe this time of year

Catkins and beautiful twisty trees at Waterperry Gardens

Celebrating: the busy garden birdlife, since I’ve been typing I’ve seen: a Robin, multiple Blue Tits, a Coal Tit, a couple of Great Tits, a male Blackbird and the female Chaffinch is back

Forgetting: what I need to add to the shopping list

Winning: at life? Urgh, smug expression

Pretending: nothing

Sneaking: extra oddments of nibbed hazelnuts, flaked almonds and walnut pieces into the museli. It’s getting close to being an end of packet dust situation!

Embracing: brighter and longer days, it’s light at 520pm still

For the full list to fill in your own Taking Stock post visit Pip. It’s fun to do.


I’ve dug my Stripy blanket out and actually it’s nice to be adding to it again. Isn’t it bright though?! I kind of forgot how much it’s a bit in your face. It took me aback when I saw it again yesterday, which was a very lazy Sunday afternoon.

I’m reading Y is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton at the mo. I’ve had it from the library for more than a week, but getting into it has taken a while. It’s an absolutely brick of a hardback. If you need a doorstop, this is the one for you. Having read a whole chunk yesterday made me feel more engaged with the story. I think I know exactly how one storyline will play out, but I’m not going to say anymore.

I was really sorry to learn of Sue’s recent loss, her books have brought pleasure all around the world. It’s sad too that this is the premature end of the alphabet series, however I’m glad a ghost writer is not going to be brought in to write Z. I’d rather it was the original author, or nothing at all.

As you know, I always have an audio book on the go too, after the compelling Three Things about Elsie by Joanna Cannon I fancied something completely different. My Audible library has contained Danny Baker’s 2012 autobiography Going to Sea in a Sieve for a long time. I bought it after enjoying the BBC tv adaptation Cradle to Grave in 2015. If you’re outside Britain I’m not really sure you’ll ever have heard of Danny Baker, but it’s still worth watching for the entertainment value. Peter Kay plays Danny’s Dad with only a bit of accent slippage! I’ve only heard 35 minutes of the audio book, with Danny narrating, and Ilove it. After the prologue I found myself repeating the story of the burning car and the game of chicken, while Someone made some smoked mackerel pate for lunch. Then I felt compelled to rush into the dining room to wave my iPhone in the air and play the bit about Nigel Slater’s ‘lamentable’ book Toast (I sort of agree about that) while he was trying to eat lunch and catch a bit of the Winter Olympics. I can feel myself trying to remember other little snippets to repeat later. This is always the (painful for others) sign that I’m loving a book. It’s just so cheery and authentic that I want to overshare.

What are you making and reading?

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

The Hitchhiker & a house full of flowers

Finally it’s finished. Finally. No more Hitchhiking. After noticing that freaky extra row of stitches heading up for the light on Christmas Eve, when I thought all it needed was darning, it’s taken a while to knit the two thirds I unravelled. Repeating the same thing can be so disheartening can’t it, even when it’s very easy plain knitting. Still, it’s done. I wrapped it in Christmas paper and gave it to Mum yesterday. The yarn is Tosca Light by Lang and sapphire shade. Here’s the pattern on Ravelry.

What’s with all the flowers? Are you opening a florists Rachel? Well no, I am not, although I always had the idea I’d enjoy that job. My image of the work was having lots of cups of tea and coffee, listening to the radio all day and singing along as I arranged pretty bouquets, chatting to smiley people. The reality is probably very, very early starts, drafty cold rooms which suit the blooms, lots of standing so legs covered with varicose veins and grumpy customers who don’t want to chat, hear the music blaring, or my singing!

We had family here for Sunday lunch last weekend and they brought that lovely bunch of narcissi, which have made the whole kitchen smell beautiful all week, and two bunches of irises. I tend to sit next to the table with the vase of irises and have often found myself staring at them, the blue is stunning isn’t it? The huge Spring bouquet was delivered on Wednesday as a Valentines Day surprise. That’s very fragrant too, hyacinth is one of my favourite scents this time of year. The ice bucket is the best size for the size and height of the bunch! It’s unconventional, but kind of cool. There were still so many flowers that I took some out to place around other rooms. The plumber came on Thursday and apparently he visibly clocked all the vases. I wonder if he had bought any for his wife? It would be funny if he was feeling bad for forgetting, or being nagged to death for not bothering, and then came to this home filled with them.

The Spring flowers have really opened out over the last few days, which is why I’ve included the gin photo, taken for a few friends last night. Nine friends actually, but that story doesn’t show my will-power in such a great light. Though my friends are stars…So, we will skirt over that shall we?

As I was about to come to write here I just heard a loud knock on the door and the tulips were delivered! Oh, aren’t they lovely? I’m wondering about giving them to someone special, as vase availability is now reaching a critical level and I’m almost overwhelmed with beauty right now.

Now I have my crochet moss stitch patchwork blanket to work on, the garter stitch blanket (long term pub knit night knitting) and ‘that’ sock which I must either unravel, or complete. I could do with a friend to sit with and knit alongside as it’s my first. It would probably gee me up and give me some sock knitting confidence. I’m lazy too, I have to admit that ploughing my way through the book or online tutorial isn’t as appealing as someone nice instructing me. Also, I saw a cowl in Loop, Islington in London last year which is still haunting me. I fancy trying something new and exciting. This stomps all over my recent assertion that I prefer to only have one knit and one crochet project on the go. We’re allowed to be inconsistent, aren’t we?

Have you just finished something? Struggling with lack of know-how and/or laziness with something?

Hey, thank you to those of you who answered my: making, listening, reading, watching, cooking questions last week. I love that, there’s nothing better than a two-way street.

Hello to my latest new readers too, I’m waving a tulip at you!

Yarn, ships and park life

My hook is still moss stitching away, gradually adding more sections to the third strip of my blanket. I’m not sure about you, but I finding I seem to be inadvertently taking part in a slow crafting movement. This may, or may not exist, but it’s definitely a thing in my house. I honestly goggle at all the ‘It’s finished!’ posts on Instagram some days. I wonder if they’re not telling us that it’s just been a case of darning a few ends, or sewing up a seam, on a pile of long ago started makes? Whatever. I do not feel any compunction at all to compete, but I do enjoy looking at all the makes.

The strip’s a bit further on now, as you’ll see at the end, but I like this photo showing my snuggly Tilted Squares Blanket in use.On Friday afternoon I went to the Members’ Preview Day of the V&A’s new exhibition Ocean Liners: Speed and Style. The picture above shows part of one of the rooms where you’re meant to feel as if you’re on deck. The floor is wooden, there are some examples of chairs and a bell-boy’s uniform (to be a totally immersive experience I would have loved a G&T brought to me while I led on an actual recliner!) The whole of the wall is a projected film of the ocean, moving waves, the sound of sea-gulls and nothing as far as the eye can see; oh apart from a movement on the right. Gradually a steam powered liner comes into view and hey! It’s racing along besides us. There were many oohs and ahhs from people, then the inevitable selfies. It’s fun. Afterwards walking through Hyde Park, back to Oxford Street to meet a friend for dinner, I saw so many lovely snowdrops. They are so delicate and as the RHS state are a very, very welcome assurance that the bright days of spring are on their way. Many crows…And this cheeky pigeon, who only moved at the last moment as I inched closer and closer.What an unexpectedly agricultural scene! There was a huge fairground set up in the park over Christmas, called Winter Wonderland (otherwise known as ‘be aware and hold on to your purse, while gaping at the exorbitant prices’.) So I imagine this is the process of flattening and fertilising the area before it’s re-turfed.An eye-catching memorial for Remembrance Sunday leftover from November, while we were wandering around Witney market on Saturday. I like the mixture of felt and yarn. It looks good still. Often yarn bombing looks bedraggled and dirty quite quickly. Now I’ve only got 3 more teeth left to knit of my Hitchhiker, so hurray! Nearly done (again) and then I can start something else. Recently I’ve decided that having one crochet and one knitted thing on the go is good. I don’t really want any more than that at one time. It’s handy to have a choice, especially for knit night when it’s chatty and I need to concentrate. Something you can do without lots of looking is good too, as it’s not well lit in the pub at this time of year. Have I said all that recently in another post? Sorry if I’m repeating myself.

And in a nutshell, at the moment I’m watching: Feud, a BBC drama series about Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, reading: Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell, listening to: Three Things about Elsie by Joanna Cannon and tonight I’m cooking aubergine biryani.

What about you? What are you watching, reading, listening to and cooking? I’m genuinely nosy interested.

The last seven days

The Winnie the Pooh exhibition at the V&A was lovely. It’s so interesting to see E.H Shepherd’s original pencil drawings. What talent. There were many illustrations that I’d forgotten, but which were instantly recognisable when I saw them again. Winnie was a big part of my childhood. The exhibition is on until April 8th.

We saw the film Darkest Hour last weekend. It’s good. As good as the media hoo-ha and talk of an Oscar for Gary Oldman. It seemed a good time to see the Winston Churchill exhibition at Blenheim Palace, (his birthplace, home of his grandparents.) En route I noticed there are daffodils beginning to appear. It won’t be long before they’re everywhere in bright clumps of yellow. I love them!

I was held up in traffic on Thursday morning and quite glad when I noticed a large patch of snowdrops in a wood, on the hill at the side of the road. I wouldn’t have had the opportunity if the traffic had been better.

The joins make me think of those foam play mats we have for blocking.

I’ve spent a bit of time playing with my yarn leftovers and planning out my next strip of moss stitch (aka linen and granite) blocks. I thought it might be easier than trying to do it in the pub at Knit & Sip, in the semi dark. We ended up not meeting anyway this week, but no matter; it’s quite nice to have a plan. The fewer brain cells used during the evening, the better I find. It’s not my brightest time. Nor is very early in the morning. My optimum time seems to be between 10-3pm! This isn’t new either. I’ve always been the same. Are you at your best in the morning, evening or middle of the day?

A friend made me smile yesterday as she said she’s having a break from going to Slimming club. Her evenings are precious and she’s fed up hearing the same people complain about how hard it is to lose weight, when they don’t eat fruit and veg. I had popped into the garden centre to buy the birds a mealworm feeder and found myself wanting to shout ‘salad dodgers!!!!’ at the top of my voice. I refrained.

I haven’t made cheese scones since at least last summer. Yesterday I made a batch and this was the last three, with what I always call the knobble, made from the last bit of dough. The fact I haven’t made any for ages has been remarked upon lots. I reckon I’m close to being asked to sign a legal document, requiring me to make them at least once a month.

Once, years ago, I made heart shaped cheese scones for Valentines Day. Don’t do this; they look like bottoms.

The Hitchhiker is coming along. I laid it out to compare with mine. I still can’t believe it was finished and now look, so much still to redo! Ah well. There were nine teeth to knit yesterday, now only seven. ‘A tooth a day and it’s done’ I say to myself.

I came downstairs this morning to a surprise bunch of daffodils. Lovely. On Monday I collected David Sedaris Theft by Finding Diaries, vol 1 from the library and it’s a whopper of a hardback. A real brick.

If you haven’t read any of his other writing, I would suggest you start elsewhere. It’s not as funny, but I’m enjoying the insights into his experiences. Some of it’s pretty grim and sad.

What are you up to? Have you had a good week?

Knitting. Walking. Looking.

I can bear to show you this Hitchhiker again now. I undid about two thirds of the finished scarf. It was all ready on Christmas Eve to have the ends darned in, wrapped up and given the next day, until I noticed something rather strange. It was not a missed stitch, but a vertical row of 8 or so little stitches like plant shoots reaching up for the light. An alien encounter! I can’t believe I hadn’t spotted that and it was impossible to correct, without leaving a big hole. I must have picked up a stitch where there was none. I felt sick, so it’s been bundled away for weeks until I felt I could redo all that garter stitching. I’ve made good progress adding a little at a time. I took it to Knit group at the pub this week and knitted and knitted until I realised I was holding a mere 3″ of wool. Oops! I have more, so that’s ok. As much as I love this Tosca Light by Lang, it is pretty tricky to undo. It’s fluffy when knitted, so like trying to rip open brand new velcro shoe straps. In the end I got so fed up that I grabbed my scissors several times and ended up with about four balls. I’ll forget about those for now and start a new reserve ball.

Quote of the week was from a member of knit group: “I must come tonight, because I need someone to help me start my Stormtrooper!” It’s from this book. Some of the characters could be anyone, but I liked Leia, Chewy and the Stormtrooper. C3PO looks like a golden jelly baby.

My friend and I walked again this week. Another 6 mile jaunt through the countryside, with a pot of tea each at the end, peppermint for me and regular tea for her. All accompanied with non-stop chat. That’s got to be good additional exercise for the lungs, I’d have thought? We’d had a sprinkle of snow overnight and so the tea was really really needed by the end. BBBrrrrrr!

After the dentist we popped into an antique centre earlier. The above are dough troughs and a dough board. The prices are high but the personal histories and stories these could impart would be worth it for me, if only these items could talk. Did they come from the same old bakery? Was it commercial, or a large private estate where staff made the household’s bread? It’s impossible to know as the place is one of those where various antique sellers rent an area. You rarely see the procurer. If you buy anything their specific seller code is input at the till. I spoke to one guy as he was restocking, he said he goes to huge antique markets up north and buys whatever he thinks will sell. So, I guess it could be that this particular seller picks up various items and these could be random finds. Meanwhile as I wander around the rest I find I’m imagining a country mill, where local flour was ground and daily bread made for the community in the nearby bakery. These troughs and boards have finally been cleared out of storage, after gathering dust for years. The mill and bakery buildings have been purchased for redevelopment. It’s incredibly sad after well over a hundred years of use, but the business had to end. It was unsustainable as the locals were driving further afield for work and called in at Sainsbury’s on their way home for their daily bread. But these items had been used for decades and decades, the dough worked with smiles, tears and angry thumps of frustration on the mornings when the vinegary woman next door had come in to complain that the loaves were smaller the previous day. Henry the miller and Florence his …….

We felt the dough troughs could be fun to stand pots of hyacinth and other spring bulbs in, apart from that I’m not sure what you’d do with them! I only bake a couple of 2lb loaves at a time…. Isn’t this well put together? It could be a set for a Country Living type of magazine. I did subscribe to that at one point, but had to stop as I found it made me so envious of all the amazing properties and hugely expensive furniture! When I win my huge lottery jackpot I’ll be subscribing again. Now I look at the photo above I think that I should have sat the teddy up a little; he looks uncomfortable. There was something about this little chest of drawers which drew my eye. It’s funny really; as I think most of us would feel we needed to strip and sand it, had it got into this chipped and peeled state. But here it is and on sale for £65!Such a pretty painted chest of drawers. I am always drawn to pink and flowers. This is probably why I like so much of the Cath Kidson range year-round. I just didn’t realise how pink my yarn choices often are, until I updated my Ravelry projects page and saw it’s the dominant colour. This is despite my favourite colours actually being red and blue. The right sort of red yarn is not easy to find. I’m always looking, but often they’re too orange or verging on pink. When I see it, I’ll know it and make a cowl. They’ll have to wrestle the hook and yarn off me in the yarn shop and grab my credit card….Really? £55 for an acrylic crochet blanket in those garish colours!

What about you? Planning any exciting jaunts at the weekend? I’m off to the Lumiere, London Light festival with a friend tomorrow. First we’re going to the V&A for a new exhibition and naughty dinner will be at a GBK.

Five from this week

I went for a walk with a friend on a spur of the moment thing on Wednesday. We ended up walking over 6 miles in a big circular loop. It was a completely spontaneous thing, just a “hey, do you fancy a walk today?” We arranged to meet in the car park of a gym and I expected a walk around the nearest village. Instead we went off the beaten track, onto a public footpath alongside the edges of fields, turning onto country lanes and meadows of grazing sheep. Through wooded areas of bare wintery trees and the sports ground of a private school. We ended up nipping into a farm shop for a drink, gazing at all the luxury foodstuffs that neither of us need post-Christmas, back up into the village, across the main road and to our cars. All the time we were out, which was nearly 2 hours, we didn’t stop talking. That’s a good afternoon! My trainers are basically two big blobs of mud now. I should scrape them off and put them in the washing machine.

I’ve made some more cardamom gin. The Mermaids gin is nice enough but I fancied flavouring it. I put a small handful of whole cardamom pods into the bottle for 3-4 days (3 would have been plenty, but I forgot about it!) Poured it into a jug, through a tea strainer and threw away the pods, then put it back into the bottle. If they were left in longer than that it would too bitter to drink, I imagine. The flavour is strong, so a single measure (25ml) is plenty with a 125ml can of tonic.

I’ve started a second strip of moss stitch (aka granite stitch, or linen stitch) crochet. This is the easiest thing to take up and add a section to, in fact the most complicated thing about it is making sure the sections are the same length. I didn’t want to stow away the leftover yarn from Winnie’s Wave Blanket, I thought I’d use it up for another little blanket. If you like the stitch see Moogly for a great little tutorial, it’s dead easy. You do need to do a sample to make sure you use the right hook. My square was too thick and unwieldy using my usual 4mm hook; so I swapped to a 4.5mm and produced a softer, more drapey fabric.

I popped in to see Mum with some Butternut & Sweet Potato soup yesterday. I’d made a huge pan-full, but as I’m the only one who eats BNS or SP I thought it would be good to share, or I’d never want to eat it again after litres of the stuff. Barty was savaging a ball he was given for Christmas. He is funny; as I’ve said I don’t think he was given balls to play with when he was a kitten, so he doesn’t play ping pong like other cats we’ve had. I’ve tried to model batting it back and forth with my paws hands, and yesterday he sort of did it! Hurray, Rachel the cat whisperer!

I just started reading Follow you Home all snuggled up warm and cosy in bed this morning. According to my Kindle I’ve already read a fifth of it. It’s a quick read but also I’m a scaredy cat; so want to get to the frightening bits fast. This is a psychological thriller which features a train, a dark forest and rather odd, staring uncommunicative strangers. Dot dot dot!

What are you reading and making? Have you done anything spontaneous, which turned out to be one of the best parts of your week?

Have a good weekend all.

I’m linking with Ginny’s revived (now monthly) Yarn Along.

Taking Stock – January

Making : 2 loaves of beige bread (50/50 wholemeal and white flour)

Cooking : pork and fennel meatballs for dinner

Drinking : water

Reading: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, it’s fantastic! The lights on the bridge have just blown out in the storm. I love reading about 17th century London. It’s also very funny in places

Stowe, Buckingham (National Trust) on New Years Day

Wanting: a G&T, it is Friday

Looking: at my Christmas tree, it’s twelfth night so will be gone tomorrow

Playing: the radio, it’s music from the movies at the mo

Deciding: if I really do want or need to do Dry January. After all Dry October went on until December 24th!

Wishing: for a big Euro millions lottery win tonight

Enjoying: the tunes from Beverley Hills Cop, Top Gun, Pulp Fiction, Dirty Dancing

Waiting: for my bread timer to chime

Liking: the lights sparkling still, on these grey, cold and windy days

Wondering: when the shops will clear away the sale rails

Loving: crocheting again

Pondering: how to join my strips of crochet

Considering: a new to me technique like a flat braid

Buying: a new bag in the sale at The National Trust shop, reduced from £20 to £12

Watching: Russell Howard: Recalibrate on Netflix, it’s laugh out loud funny, but tears too when he talks about his family

Hoping: to see lots more stand-up comedy

Needing: something to eat; rumbling tummy

Questioning: why my wrist is still sore, I think it’s due to knitting #boo

Smelling: my new Loccitane rose perfume

Wearing: my new Seasalt floral socks (perfume & socks are Christmas presents)

Noticing: how cold the wind chill factor is today

Knowing: the days are slowly getting lighter

Thinking: about watching the last episode of The Miniaturist

Admiring: my floral feet (when I wore my yellows on Wednesday, Mum said they were very gay! Nice use of an archaic term)

Sorting: Christmas decs tomorrow and putting them back in the loft

Getting: a shopping list together, it’s all cling film and anti-bac soap type of boring

Paper roses made from old books at Stowe

Bookmarking: new recipes

Coveting: nothing, well apart from a big lottery win

Disliking: that rubber glove smell when they need replacing, yucky!

Opening: the last day’s listings in the festive Radio Times

Giggling: at Still Game (a BBC series, on Netflix) aka “The Scots gits” in my house

Feeling: hungry!!!!!

Snacking: on fruit or a raw carrot, soon

Helping: to take Barty to the vet today

Hearing: Someone wailing/singing along to Don’t Leave Me This Way by The Communards

Mixing: 500g of lean pork mince, 1 egg, zest of a lemon and 1 tbsp fennel seeds for meatballs, served in a tomato & pepper sauce

Worrying: about nothing much, as thankfully my mind is clear today

Slicing: onions and peppers shortly

Celebrating: the last eve of the festive season

Forgetting: who knows? I’ve forgotten!

Winning: tonight’s jackpot

Sneaking: an iced gingerbread I discovered in a tin today (this is a late Christmas win!)

Embracing: a very chilled cat who seemed totally unruffled today

There are no affiliate links here, I’d always say if there were. I just assume other people are as nosy as me and want to see!

I’ve used Pip’s Taking Stock list, if you do a TS post too will you link to yours in the comments below? I like reading them.


This year’s makes were mainly small gifts and blankets. Every year I say that I’ll put blanket making on the back burner and concentrate on other things; but I’ve realised that’s not working at all. I simply enjoy making blankets, even more so when they keep popping up on friends’ Facebook feeds or when I visit family. Nothing beats seeing a blanket den or a blanket on the head picture, a snuggly sofa covering, at the end of a bed or a glimpse of one on a pram.

A mix of longer term and quick projects are so satisfying. So whatever 2018 brings will be fine, there’ll be no rules or resolutions this coming year, apart from one. (Can you guess?)

I have three things on the go right now: The garter stitch blanket which was planned for pub knitting at Knit Group and is definitely a longer term make. My first ever sock paused after the heel, but I’m definitely going to end next year with a pair of socks to show you. I hereby solemnly swear that you will see two handmade socks in my 2018 montage, unless death or imprisonment stop me. (Even then I imagine that in an open prison I might be able to do some craft therapy or activity, so socks could still happen. There’s no excuse really. Unless they make me give them away as part of my rehabilitation? I really don’t know how these things go. Now I’m wondering if any of you know?*) As for the lovely blue Hitchhiker which was Mum’s Christmas present, and finished in plenty of time** that now might be an Easter gift. Let’s not talk about that malarkey just yet, I can’t face it.

I’m not turning into a mad cat blogger, but I’m just so glad that the little kitten who slept in Mum’s garden, when he needed respite from the two young boys of his house next door, or in a chair in her kitchen when it rained, came to be adopted by her in the summer. His family ended up returning to their home country, a long, long way away and the cost of taking him was prohibitive. They told Mum she was the obvious person to take him. But I know he’s been missed because one of them called on Boxing Day to wish Mum a Happy Christmas, and asked how he is doing! So, there you have the full story of the little black cat with the powder puff tail. I’m taking him to the vet on 5th January for his booster jab. I hope he still likes me afterwards!***

Today it’s my blog’s SIXTH BIRTHDAY! Wooo! Where did the time go? Here’s my first post. So many metres of yarn and blankets later. Initially I planned this as an online diary while I carried on learning to crochet, without a plan in mind. Of course I wouldn’t have carried on without readers, so a big warm THANK YOU to you all for reading, for the comments, emails and messages. Welcome to all my new readers too, it’s great to have you along.

Have a lovely New Year’s Eve and Happy 2018.

* I’m not tempting fate am I? Now I’ve worried myself. Whatever happens please believe I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and I’m innocent Governor
**Well sort of – 24th December, apart from the ends
*** Not a mad cat blogger at all, apart from a longish paragraph about him on my end of year post….


I really like the week between Christmas and New Year. If approached properly it has a mixture of planned and unplanned days. You need activity and people, but also days where you can lounge around reading, crafting, eating chocolates and nibbles and catching up on Christmas films and tv. This year we’ve got it just right.

Just before Sewing Club ended for the year another sewer told me she couldn’t see the point of wasting time and energy on making bottle bags; as they wouldn’t be appreciated for the amount of effort that goes into making them. Well, happily I’m glad to report that definitely wasn’t the case. I gave them to members of my family who sew and who totally got the point. They made my (Christmas) day by saying how impressed they were with the quality of the sewing etc etc. Every year we pass around card gift bags and bottle bags, saved from previous Christmases, and last year a few lamented that they had to buy new bags. The horror! I knew that these would be used again and again. It will be quite fun seeing them reappear. Am I revealing my sad nerdiness? Ah well! They’re fully lined with contrast fabric and reversible. Now perhaps I need to make Birthday bottle bags…We all seemed to arrive at Mum’s with presents for Barty the powder puff tail. My cousin and my nieces all did and I took him a set of jingle mice. But this one was the clear winner: my friend and her dog George sent him a crocheted pillow filled with catnip (bought in Asda, it’s fab.) After I took this photo he got a bit manic. It was so funny to see this laid back ‘I can sleep for England’ young cat so excited. The pillow is already all tatty and with ends sticking out! It was so lovely to see this ornament again when we decorated the tree on 23rd. I remembered that one of my nieces bought it for me last year, with her pocket money.My Dry October turned into Dry November and Dry December (bar 3 occasions where I’d finished in November but then decided to carry on.) All I really fancied was a glass of champagne and so on Christmas Eve I had my first drink in weeks. And my second. And on Christmas morning felt so very ropey that in the middle of drying my hair had to turn off the drier, sit on the bed and take deep breaths! Oh this was not the plan! How pathetic. Seeing a line of just-filled glasses on Christmas morning I apologised to my brother and declined one. During the toast I tasted a sip from Someone’s glass, just to try, and decided it was really rather nice, that perhaps that old chestnut, the hair of the dog thing would be worth a try. My brother said it was the fastest turn around he’s ever seen! I stuck to a single glass all day and it did the trick marvellously. I had another glass on Boxing Day evening with family too. There is a champagne diet, apparently good for weight loss (perhaps not for the liver.) Maybe that will be the one for me in January?On Boxing Day morning we were so glad to see a crisp and bright morning. We headed out for some exercise. It was a great walk, albeit 7 1/2 miles, not the planned 5. I think it was a combination of a lot of chatter, passing a big group of walkers at a crucial moment and wishing them a Good Morning that meant we missed the intended turning. We ended up in open countryside surrounded by grazing sheep. I turned to my iPhone for our location and saw on a satellite map that we had walked in the opposite direction and were approaching an unexplored village in the west. Oh well, new public footpaths have been discovered and it was a great yomp. Very good for walking off some of the mince pies and Christmas pudding. We took ourselves off to the sales on Wednesday and popped into a new-to-me coffee shop, where we sat on wooden boxes and spooned our Demerara from a communal jar with a wooden spoon. How very hipster!

I started some new crochet that evening. I’m not totally sure this is going to be continued. But look at the difference going up half a hook size makes. The fabric is now beautifully drapey and soft. Plus it’s far easier to find the 1 chain spaces. I’m going to play around a bit and might undo it, or might carry on. Just don’t ask me about the Hitchhiker, I actually might cry. Disaster struck. And I can’t blame it on Barty either.

On Thursday I met a friend in Hoxton, London at The Geffrye Museum of the Home to catch their Christmas Past exhibition. This features rooms decorated (or not) for Christmas from 1700 to 1990. Did you know that the Puritans banned Christmas for around 15 years? People disobeyed and still brought greenery into the home for decoration.

It’s a good exhibition and interesting overhearing others’ memories of past Christmases when you come to the various twentieth century rooms. My friend and I liked this early 1960s room best. It’s just after the children have opened their presents, when they’ve gone off to open their chocolate selection boxes and spoil their appetites for lunch. Sounds a familiar scenario, doesn’t it?

Why the toothbrush in the cafe, the eagle eyed among you might have spotted? I text her from the train and asked if she had an old one she could bring. I reckon it’s the mark of a good friend (or one who’s used to your ways) who responds with “I’ll see if I can find one” and not a single question about why.

After five miles of walking we went for a very late lunch and obviously chose the low calorie option….

And back to a superb mixture of laziness and activity yesterday; I tried out my new dumbbells that my father in law gave me. It’s become a thing every year; I really like to add practical presents to my wish list, things I need and will use. He laughs, but is usually the one to buy them. Over the years I’ve asked for a car valet, garden shears, secateurs, loaf tins and so on. This year it was dumbbells so I can work my triceps which are a little wobbly after a mere 4 months of a power shower and no hair-washing with a jug over the bath. (I miss my jug. I could also touch my toes and the floor without a problem. Probably that’s a no-go now too.) I started my daily routine yesterday. I will begin challenging people to arm wrestle by February. Actually, I’m having a day off today as I think my left elbow feels a bit sore. Ha! I’ve broken my resolution even before New Year.

How was your Christmas? Did your homemade gifts go down well? What’s the most bizarre present you received? Are you feasting still or dining on water and crackers now?

What larks!

Argh! A game of yarn chicken and I lost! I think I’ve still got about 7 ‘teeth’ to knit so Mum’s Christmas Hitchhiker is the same size as mine (fewer than 42 as per the pattern, but just right.) But actually I should, of course, have done the sensible thing and ordered more yarn than I thought I needed in the first place, to ‘make the most of the postage’ as someone from my knit group sensibly pointed out to me at the time. But this year I’ve been trying to not buy any more yarn, instead aiming to use up what I already have at home. This has been successful to a degree (ie: not very.) It’s pretty tricky when you’re making a stash bushing blanket, which turns into a gift for a brand new little one. So, naturally I ended up having to stock up on some colours. (Winnie is very sweet and after staring at me intently for a while on Thursday, decided I was very boring and popped off to sleep for the rest of the visit. She’s only nine weeks old though, it’s what they do eh? She definitely loved her Wave Blanket though, I know that.) So, with only days left of postal delivery before we all get snowed under drifts of Twiglets and iced gingerbread, I ordered TWO more balls of wool. Oh dear. I’m only going need about a tenth of one so I haven’t helped the stash situation much. Then it’s inevitable that you start a new project and run out and have to buy more, but with extra again to ‘make the most of the postage’ and so on and so on! I have a feeling that my yarn pile will start as a hill and end as a mountain.

Anyway, I took my new ball of yarn to the Knit Group’s Christmas meet on Tuesday night. This was at one of their houses and I endeavoured to knit another tooth in between delicious courses. The house turned out to be a large black and white timbered Tudor style from the eighteenth century (perhaps before) with floors of huge smooth flagstones, an industrial sized fireplace complete with log burner, beams and creaky staircases. Essentially I felt as if I had stepped into Christmas past. As a history lover with a vivid imagination it was hard to concentrate on the talk swirling around me and not drift into revelries about roast goose, pennies in stockings and merry gatherings. I’m currently reading Charles Dickens Great Expectations which only added fuel to the fire! If you’re casting around for something different to read, hopefully you’ll find it’s also a free classic on Kindle wherever you are too. It’s extremely readable and surprisingly funny, especially considering it was first published in 1861.

We all received a little Christmas emergency first aid tin from J (the Lego mitt knitter.) The row counter is gong to be so useful and the key ring hooks will be good for picking up dropped stitches. Someone has already said the little scissors would make excellent snips when fishing. NO THEY WOULDN’T!

If you’re like me you’ll be curious to know what we ate, won’t you? We started with nibbles and drinks, followed by squash soup (home-grown squash and onions) with a selection of breads, then a baked chicken, chorizo and rice dish, roasted vegetables with chickpeas, sun-dried tomato and olive pasta, then a really light and delicious homemade sticky toffee pudding with ice cream. I took a tin of Rocky Road that unsurprisingly everyone was far too full to touch, so I wrapped pieces up and gave it out for people to take home.

It was a lovely evening and I managed to knit another tooth too….hurray!

What are you making and reading at the moment? Are you still eating proper meals or grazing on all the Christmas naughties?

If this makes no sense at all and is full of mistakes; I have to say that I wrote the first half while sitting in the car this morning while waiting to collects omeone. The other half at four o’clock the following morning (now) as annoyingly I’m wide awake while the rest of the house/street/universe is asleep!


This is what I woke up to on Sunday morning when I looked out of the window. SNOWFACE! Apparently I always get an excited, wide-eyed, slightly deranged look when it snows. I took a few selfies when we went for a walk and oh I really do have a snowface! Maybe that will be the expression I wear for a week month when I win the lottery jackpot. If you look to the right of the shed you can see that the snow was still steadily coming down. It carried on snowing all through the day. There was about 6″ when I took these photographs, it seemed to be falling at about 1″ an hour.The birds were out in full force using our feeders, lots of blue tits ate the nuts. They really looked beautiful with their yellow and blue against the white snowy branches. At one point I saw four pinging about playing together. Sadly they were too fast moving to capture on camera.Someone danced about so much with the snow shovel, while I took photos, that he dropped the shed padlock into the snow. I didn’t laugh at all of course. Ha ha!When I’m out and about in cold weather I have to work hard not to stare at people’s knitwear. I always fail spectacularly. There was nothing particular to report about the humans, but the dogs merit a mention. The sheer number of dogs wearing fair-isle patterned coats seem to indicate a strong trend. No, they weren’t woolly, but I liked this very stylish dog-wear.

There were so many families were out and about with sledges.  They were mostly plastic but I did see some of those classic Victorian type sleds, you know; the wooden ones with metal runners. The kind that can really take off and make you wonder if you’ll stop before you hit that huge tree looming in the distance.

Facebook was full of jubilation on Sunday afternoon as some learnt that their workplace or school would not be open the following day, but there were quite a “bahs!” from others up in the north. This included my various Yorkshire friends who had been promised a huge ‘dump’ of snow, but didn’t have anything much at all. We get snow so infrequently here that everything grinds to a halt (my best January one year was when we ended up having five snow-days during the month. I know we staff were high with excitement, but I’m not sure the parents felt the same….)  The roads are not always gritted due to funding cuts and so turn into skating rinks, bus companies undertake safety surveys and usually err on the side of caution about running any services, trains can’t seem to cope with snow. Cars get stuck on motorways for hours; as people don’t know how to drive in ‘extreme’ conditions, so there are jack-knifed lorries and multiple shunts. I know this is laughable if you’re in Canada, for instance, but that’s England for you.After an hour long walk in 1 degree temps I was pleased to get home and make a coffee. I used up the last of my limited edition Nespresso capsules. The type? Snowball! Coconut and vanilla.

I must do some more knitting as I’ve got to my last 10g of wool, so will be finishing my Mum’s Hitchhiker, just in time for Christmas. It always seems to be the same; I finish one thing after the other in a short space of time. Then the page will be clear for new projects, apart from the nagging matter of that half finished s—. I can’t bring myself to complete that word.

What’s the weather like where you are? Do you also have a snowface?!

Winnie’s Wave Blanket

And it’s done! I finished the little border on Saturday and feel really pleased with this wave blanket for a friend’s baby, Winnie. I wanted to make a big enough blanket for her to use when she’s a bit older; to be able to snuggle with her Mum on the sofa and so on.

The edging is perfect I think. It’s just the right size to frame the rest, without taking over in a ‘Look at me! Look at me!’ style.

The ‘wrong side’ above just to show you the back of the edging. The ‘right side’ is below. I do love the lines that you get when you crochet into the back loop of a stitch. I don’t think it matters which way up it is, as both look fine. This is a good thing as when Sophie’s only had a few hours sleep, I don’t think correctly placing a baby blanket is going to be a priority!

When I began this blanket in June (see this post) it was just to use up some leftover yarn and I didn’t have a specific plan in mind. I’m very glad it’s turned into Winnie’s Wave Blanket and going to someone I know, who is really grateful and looking forward to receiving it. And how considerate of Sophie to name her baby so well, so we can all enjoy a bit of alliteration! I’m really looking forward my visit on Thursday.

The details:

Stylecraft Special DK: 1. plum 2. grape 3. parchment 4. lavender 5. silver 6. stone 7. denim 8. sage 9. storm blue

L: 89cm / 35″ (inc border) W: 75cm / 29.5″ B: 2cm / 3/4″ W: 427g

Sorry, I didn’t ever count my chains but your tension will vary to mine anyway, just chain multiples of 10 (+1 for the turning chain) and see how you feel.

Pattern: Attic 24 Neat Wave  and my border was also inspired by Lucy’s Moorland blanket edging I preferred my 4th round to be the same BL dcs, rather than the slip stitch that Lucy used.

My timer has just gone off, so I must away and put my oven on to bake a couple of loaves of bread. I will back with some wintery pictures tomorrow, as we’re between ankle and knee* deep in snow at the mo!


Very slight exaggeration

A Drum-roll seems only fair!

Last night I chose my border colours and sat down to start the tricky first row. I don’t think I want to crochet through the end posts again, yes it’s less gappy than working around, but it means you’re in danger of pushing out some of your darned ends. Phooey! It’s also damned tricky to do. That made me pack up my Hitchhiker knitting to take to Knit Group instead; as I didn’t think the light would be good enough to see, or the company would want to hear my groans and sighs.

I would very much like a drum-roll please while I complete the border, it seems only fair!  This has taken me far longer to finish than adult sized 6’x4′ blankets. Warm summer days, where the last thing I wanted was a blanket on my lap and sweaty yarn in my hands, and a house move contributed to the slowness of the making, not that there has been any rush really. I’ll show it to you once more with all the details including the yarn colours when it’s finished, before it goes to little baby Winnie next week.

I really like this simple edging. As you probably know I don’t really go for ornate borders, I reckon it can just be too much on a patterned blanket. But conversely an unedged blanket is a rather sad object, with a raw, unfinished look. There is a happy medium, isn’t there?

So on to Knit Group; do you remember reading this this post? (Oh sigh, please let’s not have porridge-gate all over again, tee hee.  I’m looking at you Vikki and Jill! Just whizz past the pictures and find the paragraph where I described what people were making…!) Teresa asked to see some pictures of what was being made and last night I asked if they minded me taking a few photos. It was a smaller group than usual, just a select four of us, but such an easy, relaxed night with lots of laughter.

First here’s A’s 4ply cream cotton bedspread in progress,  it’s one her mother began and she’s finishing, along with other half finished items. There need to be 20 squares or so and I think she was given 12. Look at those criss-crossing stitches and the detail on the leaves. Isn’t it lovely? It looks impressively complicated to me.

A. also brought along this gorgeous crochet shawl that she’s made for one of her young daughters. Apparently the yarn was cheap stuff and on offer in the local wool shop, but it feels luxuriously soft. Privately I thought it would rather suit me when I wear my smart black woollen coat and could imagine shimmering into a carol service, but sadly it was popped into a bag on the floor across from me. No stealing. Rats!Next there’s J’s Lego Man Mitts for her husband. They’re so fun! Not that the process of making them both has been much fun, as I understand the other mitt came into contact with a small boy and a pair of scissors…. He was taken to the wool shop to choose more wool and had to ask ‘the lady’ for the correct sized new circulars (yes, they were snipped too) which he didn’t enjoy. Lesson learned hopefully. She found the little figures in the bottom of her knitting bag. They look quite cross about me wearing the mitt I think.And P’s is currently a tea-pot cosy making machine, I can’t say anything much about it (secret squirrel) but it is making me want to try crocodile stitch. I’ve never been particularly keen on the stitch, now I wonder if it was the items I’ve seen made with it. P makes everything look good. The other knitted cosy is sooo special that I’m not dwelling on it, as it makes me feel knitty-knotty inferior! Yes, she does have a drink problem.I posted a pic of my Hitchhiker scarf the other day on Instagram. Click on the pink camera on the sidebar if you want to see how it’s getting on. After Winnie’s Wave Blanket that’s the next thing I need to finish for Christmas, for my Mum. Then the world is my oyster. Anyone who types the words ‘sock’ or ‘garter stitch blanket’ will be blocked. I mean it!

I chose this book first for my cosy Christmas reading, it’s so lovely, absolutely perfect.

What about you: Have you done any crafting with friends lately? What are you making and reading? Managing to resist the early festive treats or giving in completely to mince pies, stollen, chocolates or …..?


Feel free to add a link in the comments, to share your own Yarning Along post showing what you’re making and reading.


Finally all the ends are darned and I can crochet the border! I can’t wait to visit little baby Winnie and give her this Wave Blanket.

It’s December 1st and so I’ve dug out my new-to-me books. I love reading Christmas fiction and a good friend passed on Coming Home for Christmas months ago. I think she’s got more for me too. I know she’s been looking out for them for ages, which is very sweet. I picked up The Little Christmas Kitchen in a charity shop months ago. Cosy reads for a cosy month. I’ve got several M.R James ghost storie anthologies on my Kindle, so will read some to balance out the gooeyness of the other books.

Talking of cosy; I’ve stocked up on Cadbury Drinking Chocolate and mini pink and white marshmallows too. I also bought a pack of All Butter Mince Pies yesterday. Well, you have to do these things right, and I’m not sure about icing sugar or frangipani topped pies. Isn’t that too much of a good thing?

What are you making, reading and eating at the mo? Go on, I’d love to know….

Kitchen sink post

This is what I’ve always called a kitchen sink post; since it feels like everything’s included except the sink.

I keep glancing up, as I type, to look at the long line of beech trees across the road. Their leaves are gently fluttering down and across in a diagonal line to fall straight into our garden. Some are hitting this window with a real ting. They’re not incredibly close by but the wind always seems to blow this way. There’s a carpet of coppery leaves covering the grass now and they’re not even our trees! Pretty though.

Previously I would darn the ends in a blanket on several lazy weekend afternoons; semi-watching a film or listening to an audio book, while the rugby played out on the tv. It got them done and I didn’t mind it too much at all. Hand sewing of any kind has always been relaxing. But this Wave Blanket is not getting darned very fast at all, as I’m sure you’ve noticed. Weekends have been busier lately (in a very nice way, no moaning here, or competitive ‘I’m the busiest person in the world’ boasts) and so no lazy afternoons to sit and focus. Today I’m meeting someone very yarny for lunch and when we were making arrangements last night she clearly instructed me to bring yarn. ‘Anything fibrous’. Does Stylecraft’s acrylic yarn count? Hmmm. Well, I don’t know that I can sit in a gastro pub and darn, that’s a step too far for me. I’m not entirely comfortable with knitting or crocheting in any public place, unless it’s tucked away on a bus, or as part of a knitting and crochet group. She currently carries a spindle and wodge of fleece in the depths of her bag, and thinks nothing of whipping out her knitting while queuing in the bank, walking up a hill or ….. I don’t have that kind of chutzpah, or obsessive compulsive behaviour around yarn. (Fingers and toes crossed she doesn’t read before this lunch. Could be embarrassing.)

So, the long and the short of it is that I’m beginning to feel awkward that this blanket isn’t done. I shall try to goad this feeling into determined action. Aiming for five ends a day would be something. It’s not huge after all, just fiddlier than my usual Ripple pattern. A dozen ends last week was clearly not reaching for the stars. That little baby Winnie needs her blanket.

I have been steadily knitting my Hitchhiker, adding a section at a time, and really like the different shades which are appearing. It’s Lang’s Tosca Light in Sapphire.

It’s all Christmas a go-go isn’t it? I did a double take when I saw the trees in the garden centre on Friday, but I imagine lots will be up and decorated from this weekend, as the first of December looms. I’ve only bought three Christmas presents, but feel quite pleased with myself. I don’t believe in rushing these things!

The Soup of the Week here has been tomato and vegetable, with that stunning bowl of plum tomatoes bought on impulse from the market. There were just over a kilo for £1. Bargain! It’s probably the ideal recipe for a summer glut of tomatoes when they’re at their tastiest, but it’s great with feta or blue cheese crumbled on top for added oomph.

~ Sweat onion, carrot and celery in a little rapeseed oil, then add 500g of ripe tomatoes, a 400g can of tomatoes, 500ml of stock, salt and pepper, a little sugar to take away the acidity of the tomatoes and a good handful of fresh basil leaves (or whatever fresh or dried herbs you fancy.) Add a tablespoon of red vinegar. Blend to a smooth consistency and enjoy.

I used up a vintage red pepper in my first batch a few weeks ago and that worked well. It’s a goodie for adding whatever you fancy. I’ve tried it with and without the red wine vinegar, it adds piquancy but is fine without too.

Reading: this week I’ve got four books on the go; one printed, one Ebook, and two audio.

1) I’m enjoying another Laura Ingalls Wilder from my childhood collection. A few chapters are good nostalgic reading late at night.

2) Yesterday’s 99p Kindle Daily Deal Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak reeled me in as I tried the sample and that’s almost certain to hook you into buying. I try not to download them, some days with more success than others! I’m really enjoying it and can almost certainly see a film being made from this one. It’s breaking my own rule about not starting Christmas books before 1st December, but whatever!

3) Bruce’s Born to Run audio book, read by him in that uniquely gravelly voice, which I will still be listening to in chunks next year because it’s over 18 hours long.

4) And finally, The Muse by Jessie Burton which I started on the way to Excel, London on Saturday for the Knitting, Stitching and Hobbycraft Simply Christmas show.

How much do you think I bought there by the way?

Answer…..a Carrot cupcake for lunch pudding! I was so restrained I nearly sprained something. Black Sheep Wools had bags of gorgeousness on sale, another seller had those Swirl cakes and Whirl cakes and all sorts of lovely wool blends. I resisted. Yes, I do deserve a medal, thanks very much, especially as my friend had told me to remind her she’s skint then bought bags of yarn and other fancies!

What are you making, cooking and reading this week? If you want to add your own Yarning Along link in the comments go for it. But tell us what you’re up to either way.

New knitting & Street Wisdom

The best kind of post! I do love Lang’s Tosca Light wool blend (55% new wool, 45% acrylic.) I have a few scarves I’ve made with it and they’re so warm and soft to wear. I’ve been wearing my Hitchhiker a lot lately. It’s just such a good sized scarf, nice and neck-warming but not bulky. I see beautifully made shawls on Instagram but although I’d enjoy the making, they’re not my kind of thing to wear.

I offered to make Mum a Hitchhiker to wear with her black jacket and the sapphire looked like a really nice blend of colours. It’s gradually changing to to purpley now. That’s the thing about variegated yarns, isn’t it? You never know quite what you’re going to see next. It will keep things interesting when the rows of garter stitch become long.

London is now twinkling with Christmas lights and window displays. It’s lovely. Old Bond/New Bond street is one of my favourites this time of year. As you’d expect for a street full of designer shops, there are very upmarket lights and decorations.

I really shudder to see Christmas items appear in shops in August, but enjoy the lights in November. It can be rather a grey and dreary month, so a bit of sparkle and twinkle cheers everything up.

On Friday I met a friend and her husband in Covent Garden to attend something she’d heard about: Street Wisdom.There are opportunities to join groups in various countries in the world. It’s an interesting and FREE thing to do if you have several hours to spare. Here’s a little info from the website…

Street Wisdom is a global social enterprise with a mission to bring inspiration to every street on earth. It’s a technology that allows anyone, anywhere to get unusual inspiration from their everyday surroundings. Led by volunteer facilitators on city streets across the world, free Street Wisdom workshops give participants the skills to access the ‘invisible university’ that’s all around them and find fresh answers to personal or work-related questions – with profound results.

As I wandered the streets around Covent Garden on my quest, I couldn’t help taking a few photos. What a lovely row of window boxes this building had.

Interesting I found the signs and signals were drawing me to a cofffee shop! Isn’t Street Wisdom great?! It was cold and I was glad to be wearing my Hitchhiker scarf and holding a warming cup of mocha as I walked. When I found myself drawn into a Hotel Chocolat for these I wondered if I was mis-rereading the signals perhaps?! (In my defence I ate 3 and took the others home to share.)At the end of our hour long solo walks our little group met back upstairs in Le Pain Quotidien for hot drinks and to share our experiences.  I can’t say I got particular insights regarding the question I asked, but I really enjoyed the afternoon. I always find meeting new people interesting and with events like this anyone can turn up. The experience reinforced the fact that I do tend to notice what’s around me and always end up talking to strangers. I do try to appreciate the little things and look out for little acts of kindness. Even in a big bustling city like London you’ll see everyday, ordinary acts of kindness, with good manners in action and people generally behaving decently to one another. I shall sign up for another Street Wisdom session one day, it was fun. Maybe I could lead a group at some point too.

My reading this week is rather eclectic, shall we say. I’ve just started Born to Run, written and read by Bruce. He can really write, not just lyrics but what is going to be a very satisfying autobiography. The Secret of Happy Ever After by Lucy Dillon is the antidote after finishing The Bitter Lemons of Cyprus by Laurence Durrell. I found it an absorbing read in part, funny and richly descriptive, but for the last third it became very dry, focusing on the historical and political situation. So I felt I needed some fluff next. I’m picky about fluff however; I can’t read any old thing. It has to be well-written and entertaining. Lucy Dillon’s books are definitely that, if you’re looking for a good read then go for A Hundred Pieces of Me. It made me laugh and cry and reassess what I own. I feel a bit guilty now for the fluff comment, because this is no silly chick lit, but I’ll let it stand.

What are you making this week? Something for you, or for someone else? Reading or listening to a book, or both?

This week 

This week I’ve pottered about making-wise and haven’t really done much. It’s been brilliant to feel 100% well again after a rough few weeks. I was concerned there might be something quite wrong. When the GP pronounced my results, and therefore me, ‘normal’, I breathed a big sigh of relief. I’ve steadily gone back to being my usual active self, with a quite a bit of extra grinning. It’s just so good to get your bounce back after feeling awful, isn’t it?

On Wednesday I was out, wondering if I should try to rush home in daylight to take photos for my weekly Yarning post, but decided that was plain silly. It was far more fun to carry on with the five mile walk home I’d planned, in bouncy Tigger fashion as I felt full of beans again. Then I made the decision to have a break from it as I’ve posted YA updates non-stop since April without a week off, even on holidays. It’s time to pause. I let the regulars know there and then, and that happily was that. I’ll still show you what I’m reading regularly; as I like the return comments and links to your posts sharing what you’re making and reading. Do carry on adding yours whenever you feel like it. 

So, this week I’ve made my friend that pot-holder for her new narrow boat, so she won’t burn her hand picking up the kettle. Its a nice pop of pink to go with her scarf curtains too. (Thinking ‘eh?!’ See here.) If you want to make one too click on the My Designs tab at the top of the page for the free pattern. If you do can you let me know, or better still show me your make please? I get regular messages from people saying they’re copying my colour combinations, checking details of patterns or asking for crochet advice etc but frequently I never have an acknowledgement of my reply, or get to see their version. If that’s you: Go on! Show me please! I’m on all the usual social media and Ravelry, so it’s dead easy. 

I finished my bag at Sewing Club on Monday. I guess I don’t need to spell out that I’m not a fan of all the pressing when sewing, especially as the tutor doesn’t use water in her irons. I imagine it’s because she doesn’t want leaky irons in her car but it makes pressing tricky. Sometimes I have sprinkled water from my drinking bottle to steam out particularly irksome creases but this week I lost the will to live iron again, by the bag’s end! That crease line will drop out with use, won’t it? Perhaps if I go out in the rain it will definitely go. That’s maybe an extreme anti-iron solution.

I’m reading Bitter Lemons of Cyprus by Laurence Durrell and I can’t believe how good it is (this to raised eyebrows from Someone who bought it for me in 2014.) It’s funny and written in such an engaging style. I laughed out loud at Frangos and his cattle coming home in the evening, though felt a bit sorry for the one whose tail was being corkscrewed as he ran home.

When adding a few more rows I realised I can’t really decide if the Garter Stitch Blanket is ugly. It’s a stash buster and probably destined to keep someone in need warm, but I don’t want to send a truly hideous offering.

Last night I cooked this Chicken and Orzo one-pot dish but subverted the recipe using a little rapeseed oil, as I refuse to use yucky Fry Light.  It was very tasty, but next time I’ll substitute the suggested spices for smoked paprika, fresh oregano and thyme.

What’s your week been like? Whatcha making, reading and cooking at the mo?


Another washcloth finished. Yep, it’s the lettuce coloured one. A good stretch of ends have been darned on my Wave Blanket and I’m working on a second rectangle for a pink pot holder. 

If you want to make one: ch 32, ch 1  then into 2nd ch on the hook *1 dc, 2 tr into 1 ch then miss 2 ch, repeat * to the last 3 stitches, miss 2, 1 dc into the last ch, ch 1 and turn. And so on. My first rectangle measures 6” x 6 3/4”.  Dc both pieces tog, ch 2/3 at the corners, work 20 ch for a hanging loop in one corner.

My friend and her partner have bought a small narrowboat for weekends away. Being creative and quirky she fancies making curtains out of scarves, so after lunch on Saturday we went searching in a charity shop and found some really pretty silky scarves. She’s going to chop up and hem them to hang above the windows. They’ll give some privacy but will still let the light in. The overall look she’s going for on the boat is crafty with splashes of colour.  I enjoyed hearing about the Mexican tiles in different shades of blue behind the little black wood burning stove and her plans for a pretty porcelain basin in the bathroom. Looking for scarves was the kind of treasure hunt I enjoy. I’m going to make a few things for them and thought a pot holder would be useful for picking the kettle up. I use my grey one every day, they’re so good when you have hot pan handles. 

I’ve got really stuck into the audio version of A Year of Marvellous Ways and returned the printed book to the library. The author’s narration is spot on; I believe she’s an actress, which makes sense of her skill at accents and well paced delivery. In my experience most authors are dreadful at narrating their own books, but this one is a joy to hear.  

I finished The Ballroom by Anna Hope, and felt it could have been great but it fell short. By the end it felt like something was lacking; either satisfactory character development or a proper end to Ella’s story, I’m not quite sure what.

And now I’ve got this motley selection of books to choose from…

What are you reading and making? Have you also got a pile of books by your bedside? And, tell me what you’re eating for lunch at the moment! I made this soup yesterday (with a red pepper as I’d run out of carrots.) It’s good.

If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday too, leave a link to your post in the comments. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

Yarning Along

This week I’ve knit some more of my garter stitch blanket and darned a few more ends of my Wave Blanket (not many, it’s a poor show I admit.) But since I’ve shown both of these many times I’ll refrain today. The baby was born on Friday so now I can tell you what I’ve been calling the wavey one for months now: it’s Winnie’s Wave Blanket. The new parents were so thoughtful to chose that name, weren’t they? It goes so well with her blanket. I always like a bit of alliteration.

My little pile of washcloths is slowly growing. I’ll do four and then might pause for a bit. I can’t wait to start a new crochet whatever, but need to just have the garter stitch blanket on the go. I dislike having multiple things semi-made; it muddles my head. So, get on and darn Rachel!

The Ballroom by Anna Hope looks like a lightweight historical novel doesn’t it? It’s not. I’m finding it grim and upsetting, but so well written I know I cannot leave it unfinished.

I picked up A Year of Marvellous Ways by Sarah Winman from the library the other day, as I’ve had the audio version for yonks now and thought it would be fun to listen to a chapter and read a chapter. I know you can buy both the audio and ebook which automatically sync, but there’s no way I’m buying two different versions of the same book! I love my local library.

If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday too, leave a link to your post in the comments. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

The little black cat with the powder puff tail 

I’ve knit some more of the washcloth I started last week. Doesn’t the stitch definition look fabulous with the cotton? On Thursday morning I did some train knitting, surrounded by suits, laptops and newspapers. I will not be intimidated. I shall craft. 

And look! I’ve darned 3 1/2 ends in the Wave Blanket. I meant to do 10 last night; but had to put it down to concentrate on Who Do You Think You Are. It was Ruby Wax and her family’s story was making my eyes brim (then I kept gasping.) Maybe I’ll do 16 1/2 ends later to make up for it. 

I’ve felt better about adding parchment into my garter stitch blanket. It does look better than I imagined, with the blended yarns. Thanks for the reassurance Vikki. Last night I restricted myself to six rows only so as to keep my elbow happy. It’s hard to put something you’re enjoying down, isn’t it?

This is my third and last, for a while, zippy bag which I made at Sewing Club on Monday night. Next week I’m trying something different. I’m a bit slack on the prep and lack confidence about what to make. I’d prefer it if the tutor came with all we needed, did a tutorial and we went off to make it. Lazy aren’t I?! But it’s like Knit & Crochet Groups where you take whatever you want to make. (Though she does do a quick tutorial for various things which you can try at home. This week it was lacy knickers! We naughty ones sniggered seeing how tiny medium was and decided we’d just get a multi-pack from M&S!) Shelly sits across from me and is a machine. She always sits right down and starts sewing what she’s prepped beforehand. No faff, or excess chatter until she’s made a start. She’s sewn so many different items this term that I tease her about her work ethic, while feeling fairly rubbish about mine. She’s only little and wears quite high heeled stompy boots. When I said about wanting to try something new next week but not sure what, she marched across to my table and wrote in my notebook saying very firmly: “Bring four pieces of material cut to these sizes. It’s easier than what you’ve been making tonight. Just do it!” O.M.G. Right then. I’m far to scared not to do it!

Mum’s dahlias. Perfection.

Well here he is – that little cat I mentioned a few weeks ago. And oh, you did make me laugh. Occasionally I’ll write that I’ve got a bad cold, a real stinker, or that my elbow is sore. Once I remember reporting that I got out of bed and fell over as my knee had gone kaput. I don’t remember many comments about any of these, but I casually end a Yarning Along post with ‘I must dash, as I’ve got to take a little black cat with a powder puff tail to the vets’ and you’d think I’d said the sky had fallen down! The comments, private messages, both sympathetic and worried, really amused me! He was only going for a dab of this and a tablet of that. He’s young and is in very fine fettle, but I realised I’d worried the cat ladies! (But thanks for all the sympathy when I’m poorly, no really you’re just so caring.) So I took his photo for you because as I walked into Mum’s garden yesterday, to photograph the dahlias I saw him sitting under the apple tree. He was next to the shed where she was potting up hyacinth and tulip bulbs. Maybe he was being a guard cat?

This week I’m reading Ruby Wax Sane New World on my Kindle, which is why I particularly wanted to see her episode of WDYTYA. It’s interesting learning about mindfulness. And I’m also listening to the rest of the  Alan Bennett plays. I feel I might need to hear A Question of Attribution again. I was marching around the countryside when I heard it and think I missed some of the nuance. 

Do you listen to audio books or prefer podcasts? What are you watching on TV at the mo?

Yarning Along

If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday too, leave a link to your post in the comments. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along. 

Yarning Along = yarny stuff you’re making and what you’re reading (‘a good yarn’) but let’s not get too bogged down…if you’re reading mags, gardening or recipe books that counts, as does sewing, jewellery making or whatever. Just tell us about what you are making and reading.

Autumn colour, apples & whisky 

I really love autumn! There’s so much colour still and we keep having bright blue skies and sunshine, which really makes for my favourite type of autumn days. Even when it’s grey and murky there’s always something comforting to do: soup to make, apple cake to bake and hot chocolate to turn to, or a brisk walk through crunchy leaves, pausing to pick up shiny conkers and special leaves.

The asters at Waterperry Gardens have been superb. We visited in September which was between the two ‘Aster Weekends’ when visitors are encouraged to go and see the glorious long-border full of autumn colour.

Asters are also known as Michaelmas daisies because they bloom around the same time as the Christian festival. ‘Michaelmas, or the Feast of Michael and All Angels, is celebrated on the 29th of September every year. As it falls near the equinox, the day is associated with the beginning of autumn and the shortening of days’ (according to Google.)

This year has been a bumper one for berries. Apparently it’s to do with the mild winter we had, followed by a dry spring and summer. They are everywhere in abundance, adding such a cheery splash of colour.

Upton House and Gardens looks after a National Collection of asters so it seemed a good plan to go and see them there too. The following pics were taken there last Tuesday. My Mum really loves asters, so she and I went to see them at both WPG and Upton. Looking back at my photos though, it’s not asters which dominate, it’s dahlias. I really like them. I have a vase-full of scarlet and peach asters downstairs, picked by her for our table. They are gorgeous. I should try to get a few photos of them in her garden to show you. I’ll try and remember to do that when I pop by later.

Waterperry have an annual apple weekend, celebrating the picking of their many varieties, you can sample and buy many varieties of apples, juice and cider. Unlike the supermarkets who offer the same scant half dozen varieties, if you’re lucky, WPG has many old varieties. Most of which I’ve never heard because 65 varieties of apple are grown there, although only about 25 of these are available commercially. The others are being trialled for juice, or preserved to ensure heritage varieties don’t die out. I bought bags of Egremont Russet and Ribston Pippin. Slices of both went very well with the cheese board we had at a family lunch on Sunday.

I also went to another type of autumn festival at the weekend: a Whisky Harvest Festival at Cotwolds Distillery. We went to pick up a pre-ordered (3 years ago) bottle of the first batch of 500 bottles of their whisky. Admittance to the festival gave everyone a free dram, so pretty soon most people were singing along and having a little dance to the live bands. A little measure of whisky is good for loosening people up. It has such a good flavour for a brand new whisky. You don’t have to take my word for it; Jim Murray writer of The Whisky Bible was there and pronounced it excellent. If you want to see his impromptu talk see here. He’s an entertaining soul. Prue Leith (she of the new Bake Off) also spoke and it seemed as if she’d enjoyed her dram rather a lot, ha ha.

The distillery also make a very tasty gin, a cream liqueur, similar to Baileys, and various other drinks. The cocktail tent was doing super business, though the gin cocktail bar was definitely favoured over that of the whisky. Personally if I’d been drinking, not driver for the day, I’d have chosen a whisky sour…

What are your favourite autumn things? What do you eat, drink and make? Do you also love it, or have flagging spirits at the end of summer? I really hope it’s the former.

Cotton knit and crochet, plus more vintage reading

This week I’ve sewn another little zipped bag, perfect for my knitting. I really like the lime lining. The outer fabric looks almost like it’s a vintage flower pattern, but with modern colours. I wish I knew where I got it from it, but it was when I was gathering fat quarters and that’s a few years ago.

I’m on a mission to make more washcloths after checking that my nieces still used them. Apparently they’re now using the last two, the green and the yellow ones. Which green and yellow ones you’re thinking? Well, these! I rarely look back at any posts I’ve published, but this made me go a little bit awww and oooh. They’re not wearing little silver shoes anymore, now they’re 9 and 10 ( nearly 11) and seem to be all arms and legs.

Pot holder mark II is done, must crochet around the edges…

How many ends of my wave blanket have I darned? Mmmm zero, but the intention is there. This week I’ve said: “I must do some darning, especially as Sophie’s just gone on maternity leave. I’ve just gotta start.”

“Yeah yeah, I’ve heard that before.” 

I’ve knitted some more of my garter stitch blanket but the new colour isn’t right. It’s meant to be a stash buster, so I’ve added in parchment. I have plenty after all. But it’s not fitting with the rest. But I’m using up odd balls of yarn; so I can’t buy new, can I? Actually don’t answer that, because I’m really not. It’s going to be what it’s going to be… can you sense the determination?!

I’ve gone back to the audio version of The State We’re In as I wanted to find out what was going to happen next and had a few hours to listen while I travelled one day. The narrator is ok, especially if I alternate listening to some and read some. The Little House in the Big Woods was such a trip down memory lane that I’ve gone right on to the next in the series. Poor Jack though! How upsetting. As Laura wrote these books in her later years that memory must have surely still distressed her.

Have you reread any childhood favourites? What are you making? What’s your favourite drink at the moment? I’m on a bit of a peppermint tea jag again. 

If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday too, leave a link in the comments. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along. I’m still looking out for a links tool that’s compatible with WordPress. Can you keep your eyes peeled too on your favourite WP blogs? 

Secret Crochet Club – review 

Secret Crochet Club is a brand new monthly UK based subscription box, launched last month by Nade Hamilton, based in North Devon. I had seen a countdown for the first box on Instagram, and so when Nade offered to send me the first one to review I was delighted. I admit to feeling pretty intrigued as to what it was all about, name anything ‘secret’ and I’m hooked. They are produced in collaboration with independent designers, makers and small businesses to bring a monthly, limited edition box. Each one will feature an exclusive crochet pattern. The contents are top secret until everyone has received their box. Unless someone has a VERY nippy postie and puts theirs on social media I guess, but I like to think most people are pretty well behaved and won’t spoil the surprise!

The excitement factor was high as I opened the box. It was fun revealing each layer. I felt like I was playing pass-the-parcel for one.

The contents of the box:

3 balls of Cygnet DK 100g balls in Royal, Cranberry, Barley, Rising Sun Bag pattern, 3.5mm crochet hook, a screen-printed project bag, a crochet planner (I like this very much), stitch marker, 3 yarn pegs, darning needle, 2 hot-chocolate blocks.

This feels like a nice lot of goodies and would definitely be a lovely surprise for a friend, or for you. Each box will apparently contain an exclusive crochet pattern, yarn from new and established brands, all the tools you need to complete the project, a screen-printed project bag and extra treats too.

The Rising Sun bag pattern is designed by Veronika of Blue Star Crochet Company and, as stated in the professional all-singing all-dancing (not really, there’s no dancing, or singing come to think of it) colour booklet, the pattern lends itself to any colour scheme. I’m thinking a nice thick DK or aran weight cotton might work well and make for a very strong bag. The good thing about this box is that it’s full sized balls of yarn, and not little amounts wound for a specific pattern, which you may not fancy making anyway. This means you could obviously choose to use it on other projects, or substitute different yarns for the pattern. When you’re getting a surprise box a month you’re naturally going to prefer some patterns or yarns to others, but that’s the nature of subscription boxes.

I really like the simple but effective logo and the presentation of the box was well done with all the layers. The quality of the items seems good, although Cygnet is not a brand I know. The colour booklet shows various photos of the bag to accompany the pattern, this is good. The pattern looks clearly written and laid out. The only thing that I’m not sure about is the yarn pegs. If the boxes were all going to contain the same brand of yarn, in different colours each month, I could see that building a collection could be fun and a useful tool for planning future projects. However as the yarn will be from different companies I’m not sure how having odd yarn pegs will be useful. I haven’t tried the hot chocolate blocks yet, but they look the business. I DO have some mini-marshmallows in my baking cupboard, so they won’t be around for much longer.

A one-off box is £28.95, a 3 month sub will cost you £83 and a 6 month subscription is £160. UK boxes are postage free, while there is a £3.95 additional charge for worldwide shipping. A subscription for a SCC box isn’t the cheapest box on the market, it seems to be at the top end, given it contains 100% acrylic yarn.  If you priced up each item individually you might find this is a good overall price, although of course you probably already have favoured hooks, project bags and little bits and bobs like darning needles and stitch markers, meaning it’s not easy to justify a monthly subscription spend. But this type of box seems to be all about the happy post element and having a monthly treat to look forward to, according to serious and sustained research I’ve undertaken (asking crafty friends in the pub…) You could always pass on unwanted items to friends and make their day (they say, are they hinting?)

There are discount codes for use with all the box’s collaborators : a 25% discount off another Blue Star Crochet Company pattern, 10% off all patterns by Robin (maker of the cute little stitch marker) 10% for one purchase from the craft and hobby section of Lucy The Stationery Geek’s products and finally a 10% discount on Emily aka The Polkadot Giraffe’s Etsy store (she of the yarn pegs.) This feels like a good bonus and will hopefully bring more custom to these independent sellers.

Nade has offered a discount code exclusive to my lovely readers. Yep, that’s you: it’s LittleRoom1017 and will give you £5 off your first subscription to the Secret Crochet Club.

**A one-off box was supplied by the creator for my review. All opinions are mine and completely honest.**


Making & Reading

This is the final row, now to settle down to tackle the ends. There are so many, but I don’t mind when I’m ready to do them. I’ll put on an audio book and settle to it. I find aiming to do a certain number works well, then I carry on making something else. It’s useful to leave the starting chain tail till all other ends are darned in; as it means you know which is the right side without any scrutiny. (For lefties the tail hangs on the right side, this is the right side of the crochet.) I started another little zippy bag at Sewing club on Monday. It’s basic, but a fast make. Google Debbie Shore for various You Tube tutorials. (Someone from Sewing Club just walked into the pub! I’m waiting for the man with the money, while I sip a lime and soda. I came out card rich, but cash poor….)

My garter stitch blanket might not look much further on but I have done quite a few rows. They take me about 8-10 minutes a row, it’s pretty big and I’m no whizzy knitter.   Crocheting another pot holder. I really like the Lily Sugar ‘n Cream cotton. Zippy bag version one. Pretty fabrics aren’t they? Very Cath Kidson I think. I didn’t carry on with the Madeley book last week, I did read a few more chapters, then passed it on. 

I wasn’t really enjoying the narrator so borrowed the hardback of The State We’re In from the library. And the other book, look! This is Vintage. Really it is because I can see the date a little hand wrote in the inside cover. Yes, it’s mine and I can’t tell you how lovely and also surreal it is to reread it again now. I do have many questions about the family I didn’t have then. 

Are you making one thing or lots? All yarn or sewing or ? Given up on a book lately? 

If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday too, leave a link to your post in the comments. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

Yarning Along: a bit of this and that 

It’s definitely cooler and the urge to make lots of stuff has returned. This feeling is definitely seasonal. Although I crocheted my Wave Blanket during the summer,  I didn’t feel that I wanted to do it every day. Now I’ve gone back to wanting to craft every day and am suggesting meet ups with crafty friends.

Mine you I needed to stop crocheting last night when I was watching Strike. When he hit someone with his prosthetic leg, I had to put my pot holder down and concentrate! Have you been watching? It completely passed me by in the summer and so I’ve just watched the first three episodes on catch up. Strike is responsible for my biting my nails off last night. For the first time since last July, when I had a competition with my nine year old niece to see who could stop biting and grow the longest ‘white bits’. Drat! Now I don’t have fingers, I have stumps. And they hurt. I’d forgotten that happens. If you see me with my fingers anywhere near my mouth, you have permission to HIT ME. (Not too hard.)

So, this week I’ve been making: another pot holder just because it’s great cotton to crochet. I think a pair might be handy for taking things out of the oven, or maybe I’ll give this one to someone. A little zipped bag which I started at sewing club on Monday night.  I wrote about sewing club here. Looking at the pic, I just realised that pattern matching probably means the flowers should start in the same place after the zip, on both sides? I’m such a novice sewer. It was exciting enough that I managed to sew along a zip semi-straight, with a zip foot! Lastly, I was at Knit and Sip last week and decided it’s time to finish my Wave Blanket. Actually one of them said it’s plenty big enough for a two year old to snuggle under, which is what I wanted. I didn’t want to make a tiny baby blanket, as they grow so quickly and then it’s redundant. I’ve got to crochet one last finishing row, darn the ends then do a border. Then we wait for baby Winnie to appear. I think she’s due next month.

I started The Night Book at the weekend. I haven’t got terribly far into it, as I’m also reading the last few chapters of that Laurie Lee. Yes, the one I’ve mentioned for the last three weeks. I’m not entirely sure about The Night Book; I find myself cringing whenever Richard Madeley mentions sex or the main character getting naked. It’s not me, it’s Madeley. If you know who he is, you might understand?

What are you making? Is your book making you laugh, or cringe? Can you sew?

If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday too, leave a link to your post in the comments. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

Taking Stock in September 

Making : Nigella’s Sweet & Salty Bars (from her Kitchen bookto take to the last Lincolnshire BBQ of the year, by request. It was devoured

Cooking : Apple cake

Drinking : Earl grey tea. I tried it with lemon and then went back to my usual black

Reading: A new book! I read the first chapter, then woke at 01:00 with the light still on. I *think* it’s a good’un

Trawling: Blogs. Still massively behind reading my faves after the no broadband debarcle 

Wanting: Another bracing walk like yesterday’s, from Mablethorpe to Sutton on Sea

Looking: Tired, after the BBQ last night 

Deciding: Lights off by 10:30pm tonight 

Wishing: Summer hadn’t whizzed by in 5 mins this year. It’s September already?!

Enjoying: Snuggling in my Tilted Granny Squares blanket 

Waiting: For Graham Norton and Have I Got News for You to come back on TV 

Liking: Watching the leaves change colour 

Wondering: Which shop to buy new jeans?

Loving: Autumn unfolding at Waterperry Gardens

Pondering: Unravelling a cowl I’ve never worn

Listening: To a ticking clock 

Considering: Pausing to put the kettle on 

Buying: Belly pork for dinner 

Watching: Moana, the accents swing from sort of English to sort of Scottish to sort of Antipodean in places

Hoping: For a new cooker soon. With numbers on the dials!

Marvelling: At time speeding

Cringing: At my panda eyes and red cheeks (lunchtime wine and heating on.) 

Needing: That tea! 

Questioning: What’s for dinner this week? What shall I make at Sewing Club?

Smelling: My blanket 

Wearing: My favourite red cardie 

Noticing: The traffic is much quieter on Sundays

Knowing: It will feel more like home soon

Trouble-shooting: Needle sizes, cable lengths, how to edge a blanket 

Thinking: Of writing a series of porridge related posts

Admiring: Union Jack boot toppers I saw on Thursday on wellies in the pub. Very clean ones! Paired with a body warmer and a Joules top…

Getting: Chatty with the wearer of this hoodie. She’s met the great lady

Bookmarking: A few blog posts for inspiration 

Opening: A bag of porridge oats mwahaha

Closing: Doors to keep the heat in

Feeling: Lazy and warm 

Dreaming: Of mice in hoodies, wearing sunglasses (really, I did)

Hearing: The zoom of a recliner

Celebrating: Unpacking all the boxes 

Pretending: They’ve all been unpacked 

Embracing: Soups, stewed apples and other cozy foods 


It’s been ages since I wrote a Taking Stock post, and coming across Pip’s made me remember how I used to love reading them. If you want to write your own, here’s the list courtesy of the rather fab Pip. If you do, how about leaving a link in the comments below, so we can see what you’re up to as well?

Hook and a Book – review

Hook and a Book is a monthly subscription box. Each month you get a new novel, full sized balls of yarn and a pattern(s) relating to the theme of the book, plus a little treat too.

It costs £21 a month, or you may also purchase a one-off box for £24. This seems like quite a hefty price, especially as a seasoned crocheter you’re unlikely to need a new hook each time, particularly a 4mm like I received. It is more expensive than other crochet subscription boxes, but you’re getting a brand new novel too. With these type of subscription boxes you don’t know what you’re getting in advance. I’ve never subscribed to anything similar, but imagine that the element of surprise and feeling like you’ve been given a present must be enjoyable. I certainly felt pleased when my box arrived last Friday. It was nicely presented; with co-ordinating tape, tissue and the font on the pattern cards all a pretty purple.

The little treat was two sachets of Beanies instant coffee, ok so it’s not Haribo, but that’s probably a good thing for my waistline! The Stylecraft aran yarn is going to be really handy for using on other makes as there is plenty left. I enjoyed practising my tapestry crochet skills on the cute paw print mug cozy again. There’s also one with a bone design to make.

I was surprised that there was no picture of the cup cozies in the box. I found out what they looked like after a day or two, by looking on Instagram as people showed their finished items. I’m not sure why this was omitted. I would definitely add one to each box as you naturally want to see what you’re going to be making.

I guess there is always the issue that you might have already read the book of the month, or it’s not a genre you enjoy, but as a frequent regifter I do not see this as being too much of a problem. I’ll give the cup cozy and book to my friend. As a new dog owner she’ll really appreciate both. I have seen on IG that others have paired up; with one reading the book and the other doing the crochet, which seems like a nice plan.

Subscribers receive a password to a Hints and Tips podcast on Vimeo. Maddie makes a cup holder, or maybe both, designed by Simply Hooked by Janet, I admit that I didn’t watch all of the tutorial. What I watched (about 30 minutes) is mostly in real time, apart from a few speeded up sections. I felt the process could have been edited to speed it up; as at nearly an hour it felt far too long. I just wanted to see Maddie demonstrating how-tos for tapestry crochet, rather than watch the whole process of chaining 30+ stitches and double crochet. This might be a personal preference, as others may enjoy crocheting along and need help with tapestry crochet. She did remind me of a neat trick I’d forgotten, where you can keep your chain from twisting before joining it into a round.

Vimeo do not, as yet, have the function to go back or forward for so many seconds at a time, like other online sites. This makes it tricky to skip parts, or go back to re-watch others; you end up watching the same sections. Maddie does endeavour to make it fun, telling cracker type jokes as she goes. This was my fave:

Why did the sheep stop going to bars? She didn’t like getting carded.


The background music though, oh the music! It gets really annoying which was the main reason why I couldn’t bring myself to crochet along any longer. It’s repetitive and seemed overly loud. But of course you’re not obliged to watch the podcast to do the crochet. I put my own music on and used the charted version of the pattern (both kinds of pattern are included) and really enjoyed the hooky, sitting in the autumn sun.

There are pro and cons to any subscription box; one month there might be one which really takes your fancy and another which misses. The yarn and pattern(s) in this one-off Hook and a Book box were good, the book is clearly brand new and arrived in excellent condition. If you’d like to subscribe here’s a link to Hook and a Book.

26/09/17 Maddie is offering readers 10% off your first box. If you’re interested click HERE.

**A one-off box was supplied by the creator for my review. All opinions are mine and completely honest.**

Cute make 

This little paw print cosy for a take-away coffee mug has been occupying me the last few days, whenever I’ve sat down to take advantage of the bright sunny weather. I haven’t done any tapestry crochet for ages, so really enjoyed practising my rusty skills. More about where the pattern and kit came from very soon…. I have to take a little black cat, with a powder puff tail, to the vet shortly so this is a very quick post.
I’ve still got three more chapters of As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee to read! I’ve been out a lot recently, so no time for reading before lights out. I have started a new audio book though; The State We’re In by Adele Parks.  This is ticking all the boxes so far, with time jumping all over the decades, seemingly unconnected characters and a dying man trying to connect with someone he’s neglected for 30 odd years. It’s my kind of book. Easy come, easy go and it’s always enjoyable trying to work out who’s who and why and what.

If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday too, leave a link in the comments. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

Cozy Autumn Sunday

About three years ago I made a pot holder by Cara Medus from Simply Crochet, issue 15. It’s been so well used it’s really looking tatty now. Tempted to photograph it as proof I talked myself out of this daft idea; you surely don’t need to see a faded and slightly grotty looking pot holder do you? 

As I had a Hobbycraft birthday giftcard to use I bought two balls of Lily Sugar ‘n Cream cotton the other day. I’ve never used this brand before. It must have earnt some air miles as it’s made from 100% USA cotton and was produced into yarn in Canada, then came here to England. It’s exciting to have USA cotton, this was definitely an incentive for me to buy. The label is really old fashioned: I reckon it hasn’t changed for years. I think I recognise it from other bloggers’ posts over the years. The cotton is worsted weight, which is somewhere between U.K. DK and aran weight yarn. It’s really soft and super to crochet. There were no splitty strands at all. It might be my new favourite cotton, in fact. It’s just right for pot holders and face cloths, although it hasn’t been through the wash yet so I can’t speak for the colour-fastness. (If in doubt, hyphenate!) I’m not writing this as an undercover review, sponsored by anyone by the way, it’s just me burbling on.I googled my own blog post to find the pot holder details. This always makes me grin a little. But it didn’t provide me with the actual pattern and I had taken my old issues to the charity shop before moving. Boo! I would have some time to kill the next day, while my car was serviced, and thought it would be a good little project, but without a pattern this was not going to happen. What to do? I put out a general request on IG before going to sleep last Thursday, as I’ve seen others do. In the morning I found that at 01:00 someone had messaged me. Sally, a lady who I’ve been in touch with over the years, had sent me a photo copy. People are so kind. I see little random acts of kindness all the time. If you look for them you’ll notice all sorts of things. I was the recipient of one yesterday: coming back from London I mentioned to a woman that I’d left my earbuds at home and so couldn’t start my new audio book. She promptly fished out a set of her own for me to borrow. They sit right in your ears, and so I thought this was a particularly kind thing to do for a stranger. I offered to share my bar of chocolate in thanks, but she’d just returned from Brussels and was still full from her late lunch of mussels and frites! Thank you again Chris, if you randomly happen to read crochet blogs. You never know, she might.

Today it’s one of those rainy Sundays. It wasn’t first thing (first thing on a Sunday here is often about 10:30…) and a walk was on the cards. Then it got greyer and greyer, so staying put to crochet and listen to music, and then an audio book, became the more appealing thing to do. It’s very cosy and feels like the first proper lazy Sunday of the new season. 

Walking along with my cousin in Oxford the other day we saw these dancing to a busker’s music.

Have you ever seen dancing ducks? 

What have you been doing today? Has it been a grey and rainy day for you too?

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness 

Autumn’s creeping slowly in now. There’s that crispness to the air in the mornings, leaves are beginning to turn, mornings and evenings are darker earlier and my thoughts are turning to soup recipes. The main indicator of the change of season is that I woke feeling iffy yesterday so made my first porridge of the season, accompanied with a fizzy vitamin c drink! I don’t mind. I love autumn. Always have. It’s especially going to be good as on very rainy days I can catch up on blog reading! We have BROADBAND again! Finally!

I met my cousin (she of the Lincolnshire field BBQs) at Waterperry Gardens yesterday for a look around and cup of earl grey. As you see; the pear trees are laden and the pumpkins are steadily growing on, apart from one monster which looks set to take over the world!

Knit & Sip was fun again yesterday. There was no mention or sight of any nettle yarn, I’m dubious it’s actually going to happen, it’s pretty labour intensive I’d have thought, but will have to see. All around the table there was so much chat and creativity going on. You’d never guess what was being made by the six of us. Mine would be easy; as I’ve got my pub knitting for the next two years set up with my garter stitch blanket, but some of the others? No way! One’s knitting what looks like it will be a really warm and beautiful dark purple jumper, on those very stylish black Karbonz DPNs. Even in the process of being made it looks so swish. Someone else is making her first ever garment using very interesting looking art yarn type of thing by King Cole, another is finishing a cotton bedspread her mother started and is unable to complete, using a 4 ply white cotton. This is the type of realllly clever knitting where there are lots of twiddly bits, including leaves emerging in the pattern. It’s another stylish knit. If the word ‘bedspread’ puts you off, just think ‘throw.’ I reckon it’s going to be one of these heirloom pieces the daughters will both want to own, as it’s knitted by Grandma and Mother. Another is knitting….wait for it….Lego Hands Gloves for her Lego loving hubby! The last is knitting A Jesus Tea Cosy for her R.C friend. Well! Can you beat that for sheer variety? Anyone? I’m throwing the Lego glove of challenge on the ground between us! 

As for reading I’m unusually still plodding on with exactly the same books as last week: Laurie Lee’s As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning and have a mere hour of The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy to go. Celia Imrie is superb at accents. The character Finty is the best by miles. 

What about you? What are you making and reading? Can you match my challenge above? Does it feel autumnal where you are, or beginning to zing with Spring? 

If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday too, leave a link in the comments. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

Total relaxation 

Well, I now feel like I’m living in the 19th century as we are still without wifi (EE are incompetent idiots, they admit it. Kind of.) Due to having lovely friends who want to instant chat, which I’m not complaining about, I have now used up my data bolt on too. A little checking of high-data gobbling Instagram might also be the culprit too. I’ve had to come out to find some Wi-Fi to do this Yarning Along post! Such dedication. 

After being busy moving house, I couldn’t wait to go to Knit Group last night for the first time in ages and actually do something with yarn! I was truly excited about it and spent a few lovely hours knitting and chatting. So relaxing! The light in the pub is not fantastic, unless you want to go for a smoochy romantic evening of course (!) so I’ve found that just doing plain knitting is much better than trying to crochet. My elbow feels fine, but I’ll take it easy.  My knitting is slowly growing. It’s definitely going to be a slow long term project; a few years I reckon! 

There was a lot of interesting talk about making nettle yarn. I’m too lazy to go gathering bunches of nettles and checking to see whether they’re male or female (who knew?!) but I am genuinely interested to see what the resulting yarn will feel and look like. I couldn’t resist joking about making annoying husbands wear a knitted vest made of nettle yarn… but the joke’s on me as apparently you can make quite silky yarn. The more you manipulate the fibres, the smoother they become. I’ll show you if they do produce any yarn. 

My friend and I were on instant messenger this morning when my phone provider messaged to say I’d run out of data. I asked her to Google my two nearest library opening times, so I could pop in to pick up a new recipe book and use the free wifi. It’s great having a friendly PA isn’t it?!

I bought As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning at Trelissick, a NT property in Cornwall, for £1 a few weeks ago. I’ve always wanted to read it after enjoying Cider with Rosie some years ago. Laurie Lee’s writing style is really readable but well written. I can see why his books are classics. This one tells the story of how as a 19 year old, in 1934, he decided to walk to London from his small Cotswold village, he then decided to go on to Spain. (So far he’s only just got to Beaconsfield, some miles away from London.) 

What about you: what are you making and reading? Have you done any social crafting in the last few weeks? Heard of nettle yarn?

If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday too, leave a link in the comments. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

Wandering around 

On Monday morning I found myself wondering around my new home with a semi-dried bunch of chillies trying to find the best place to hang them. I soon realised this if this carried on much longer nothing else was going to get done! In the end I tied them onto the light cord of a lamp and got on with the heavy work of unpacking the kitchen. I didn’t stop for a sit down all day and then had to go and do some cleaning at the other house. One of my new birthday bottles of gin was opened at the end of the day… This one. It’s a goodie. 

Yesterday I’ve never been so glad to have had a long-standing appointment at the hairdressers, as I could sit down and not move for 1 1/2 hours. It was bliss and my back and aching shoulders thanked me. 

Now I’m trying for a better pace and keep reminding myself that not every box has to be opened in the first few days. I do need to search for a vase for these lovely flowers that have been delivered. Where on earth are they?  

As you see, I’m using the same book photo as last week; I haven’t touched my crochet. In fact it’s still in the boot of my car, but I’m halfway through reading Dear Lupin and it’s made me laugh out loud, many times. It’s a lovely book. 
What about you: have you been making much? Reading much? Wondering around trying to hang up a bunch of anything?!

If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday too, leave a link in the comments. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

Lists and boxes

We’ve been away again, and although this blanket travelled to Devon for a night and then to Cornwall for three, it came home without being touched. Too many places to visit and things to see! Since returning on Sunday evening I felt itchy-fingers keen to add a row or two, and found it a good way to relax yesterday. Life is very busy at the moment; I’m surrounded by flattened boxes, parcel tape and notebooks full of lists….

As for reading; I’ve just borrowed Dear Lupin by Roger Mortimer, a racing journalist, from the library. It’s the entire collection of letters he wrote to his son Charlie, over 25 years.  I hadn’t heard of it before but a quick flick through showed it would be a funny and warm read.  For the last few days I’ve been thoroughly enjoying The Summerhouse by the Sea by Jenny Oliver. I bought it on my Kindle while away in Falmouth. It’s perfect summer reading; well written with interesting characters and location. If you like Jenny Colgan, you’ll enjoy Jenny Oliver’s style too. 

If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday too, leave a link in the comments. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

BBC Countryfile Live

Once again we went along to BBC Countryfile Live. This was its second year and as it was so enjoyable last time, we were keen to go again. Again there was so much to see including multiple show rings and arenas for different displays: from farm machinery, both modern and vintage, pig shows, dog shows including terriers chasing after a lure, followed by hilarious attempts by forty or so of the spectators dogs (all hopeless, apart from one chocolate Labrador who probably thought it was food) BMX bike tricks, a chain saw competition and many, more more. My absolute favourite is the equine ring, which surprises me rather since I can’t say I’m a horsey person at all. Although I spent a lot of my early childhood pretending to ride horses; sitting sideways on one of our two swings, galloping along beaches on evening strolls on family seaside holidays and reading books about horses and ponies. However when I actually started horse riding lessons, after school each week, I was terrified! All I could think was that if the horse (actually a small, fat pony called Tumbleweed) decided to take off with me on his back, there was nothing I was going to be able to do about it. This was not a toy, or my imaginary turn on TV’s beautiful Black Beauty, but a living breathing animal. I begged my teacher Mr McColl not to let go of the reins. After two lessons with Mr McColl walking and trotting alongside, around and around the ring, it was clear that things had to change. The next lesson was jumping, after a few practice tries either I had to grow more trusting of Tumbleweed, and much braver, or Mr M was going to be worn down to a stick. (What a lovely man he was!) I gave up gracefully and carried on with ballet, tap and swimming club instead.

I took a lot of photos at CFL, of celebrities, displays, funny ducks, pretty geese, frankly ugly turkeys, pigs being guided around a ring and many more, but it’s far too much to put them all on here. If you’d like to see some more of the magnificent shire horses, always my top favourites, go to my instagram. Do watch a short video I took of the country’s only six team of shires. It’s so good. As you’ll see, they came really close. So close, the ground vibrated. This team are regularly used in tv and film, so I’m gong to keep my eyes peeled for them. 

CFL covers a huge area at Blenheim Palace and even if you didn’t intend to walk far, you would end up covering several miles. At the end of the day my pedometer said I’d walked eight. 

The weather was typically English, at least for August nowadays when summer seems to abandon us to show us a preview of autumn. Then everything pings back to summer again, sometimes in the space of a day or an hour. It isn’t exactly cold, but you need to travel with an umbrella and raincoat, as well as sunscreen and a t-shirt. We had all of these just for the day out. And all were utilised.

During a massive thunder and lightening storm complete with tropical rainfall, everyone dived under cover into tents and marquees. At least there were the goats to pet, Adam Henson book-signing in the tent’s corner to discreetly gawp at, and a fun egg finding game for small children, which was very amusing to watch. I chatted about the possibility of keeping rescue chickens too, or rather the very enthusiastic stall-holder was trying to persuade me that they’re very affectionate pets. She did offer me the opportunity to cuddle a chook, but I declined. The fresh eggs appeal, but keeping them is not for me right now.

The time difference between the photo of the coming storm, above the dappy looking goat portrait, and the return of the sun below was less than an hour! Everything dried up super fast and we returned dry raincoats to the rucsac.

There was no shortage of food and drink to sample and buy at the show. Produce seemed to be mostly British, with amazing smells tempting us around every corner. We lingered at the Food Heroes stage, but had missed the most famous chefs doing demos. From a wide array of choices I chose a pork bap with stuffing, apple sauce and crackling. I did remember to take a photo, but only after I’d snaffled the crackling. It looks somehow bare without it, so that’s in the deleted folder. Apparently the Welsh boss-man rode his bicycle from the stall holders’ campsite during the night, every few hours, to check on the pig cooking on its spit. He did a very good job, it was yummy. My other treat was Hereford ice-cream from a mother and daughter team from Rowlestone Farmhouse ice cream near Hereford. Actually it sounds as if the whole thing is a family endeavour; Dad is in charge of the dairy, Mum makes the delicious ice cream while the daughter works front of house. I had salted caramel and pecan, it was gorgeous. I confess that I’d willingly travel several hours to visit their ice cream parlour. (I wish they’d sponsor me to say that, ice cream would be fine.) 

I can’t work out if this photo is a bit odd; with the guy walking so close to the window. I just liked the way the company had dressed the potting shed shelves.

These carved crochet hooks were so smooth to the touch. I really am happy with my Clover Amour set, but was slightly tempted to buy a large wooden one.

As the rain was coming to an end we came across The Oxford Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, in a small tent near the river Glyme. I had a go at using a drop spindle. It’s much harder than it looks, but the lovely lady said not to worry about lumps; just call it Art Yarn! Ok then, I think I’ve discovered a latent talent…

I didn’t realise until I saw the stream of photos that I’d had quite an audience.

This week I’ve been busy. I’m rigorously decluttering and sorting out things. Yesterday I posted old clothes into a clothing bank bin, took bags of better clothes and boots, books and a heap of craft magazines to a hospice charity shop,  gave my old pairs of reading glasses to an optometrists who will send them to the Third World, Guide Dogs for the Blind have used postage stamps, The Blue Cross charity shop have foreign coins from my most recent travels (New Zealand, Malaysia, Israel, America, Australia and Hong Kong.) I donated some of  my academic books to the university library and I sent my last Star Ripple to Knit for Peace. As you see, someone else also snuck into the bag. I don’t mind and think Stanley might enjoy a new adventure.

I’ve tried some knitting after a few weeks break. My elbow feels ok, but no more again for a few days I’d say. This is a shame, but there we go. At least I’ve added in a new colour which keeps things interesting.

As for reading, I’m now listening to The Love Song of Miss Queenie Henessy by Rachel Joyce, having finished The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry which began the story and should be read first to get the full story. Oh my goodness, Celia Imrie is a fantastic narrator! I’ve always admired her acting, but had no idea she could do accents so well. Cockney to Scottish, women and men, she’s nailed them all so far in the audiobook. Also, I’m halfway through reading Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals. This is slow for me, but I kept listening to Harold Fry in bed instead and woke up an hour later several times. The dulcet tones of Jim Broadbent had sent me to sleep. Audiobooks don’t work for me at bedtime at all, but still I try from time to time and then miss huge chunks of the story.

Have you been on any days out recently? Can you listen to audio books at bedtime without falling asleep? What are you making and reading?

If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday too, leave a link in the comments. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.