Yarning Along: summer days 



Wow, I’ve just noticed that WordPress is telling me this is my 573rd post! I never take much notice of numbers; I just plod along and throw up something, either when I feel like it, or on a Wednesday (or in this case on Tuesday, ready to appear tomorrow morning, for the sake of being precise) as it feels like a nice mid-week thing to do. Plus I do enjoy the communal aspect of sharing what we’re making and reading.

So, it seems to be another week of summer. It’s lovely today, with a gorgeous breeze blowing through the house. I sat outside for a while, adding a few more rows to my Wave Blanket. I’ve got to take it steadily as I think lots of knitting has aggravated my silly elbow. (I just had to delete another ‘So,’ I know that ‘although’ and ‘though’ seem to be other repetitive words, which I try to guard against overusing in one post. But I wonder how many times I’ve used them in the other 572 posts?) Also (ha! It sneaked in under the cover of Al!) I’m on a self-imposed knitting ban for the week and will try not to do too much crochet either, apart from at Knit Group; if it goes ahead tonight. It seems that some of the Stylecraft Blogstars have gone down with food poisoning after their jolly at the weekend, which is rotten.

When we went away my sweet-peas were pretty pathetic and I kicked myself that it had taken me so long to plant out the seedlings. However after 10 days of sunshine and some good watering, they were three times as tall and blooming when we came home! This is the first posy I picked, there are more every day and the highly scented variety I chose are just that; delicious. Growing sweet-peas makes me feel green fingered, albeit it in a tiny way. It’s the growing from seed and then having something to pick which does it.

Apart from basking in the sunshine, reading and crocheting, it’s that time of year for cocktails. This was gin and prosecco based. I thought it looked perfect with the juniper berries bobbing merrily alongside the pink grapefruit and mint leaves. I gave it a stir with my straw, just because, then decided to be a wee bit sad and photograph it. After sharing a bottle of champagne with the other three, before arriving at the restaurant on Friday, I felt I needed to herd the berries back into place with instructions to “Go a bit to the side, come on you need to follow others!” Oops. Then one of my quite old bracelets broke with a tinkle of beads bouncing from the table, hitting the glasses and falling down onto the tiled floor. I was then on my knees trying to gather them all up, while the others carried on talking as if nothing out of the ordinary was occurring. That was a fun night. I just hope no one went rolling across the floor on one of my errant beads.

As for reading; despite having already seen the film Lion, the book has still made me cry. I’m reading it really fast too, I can’t put it down. Do check out this moving, true story of Saroo and how he became lost in India on a train, then found his family again, a quarter of a century later.

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.

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Yarn shopping 

My wave blanket was meant to be a stashbuster, to use up various balls and half balls which were mainly leftovers from my first Spice of Life blanket. I had no particular plan for it, I thought it would end up with the charity Knit for Peace, but while we were away last week I read of an acquaintance’s tragic loss. Her father’s death was really sudden and the family are in pieces. I also found out that she is pregnant, the baby’s due in a few months. I really wanted to do something to reach out to her, rather than just leave a comment on her Facebook profile. So, I sent her a message asking if she’d like me to finish this blanket for her baby, a girl. This is part of her lovely, typically eloquent, reply:

‘I would be honoured to have your beautiful blanket- I think X would adore this and it will no doubt bring some brightness to us.

Thank-you so so so much xxxx’

So of course I can’t just add in any other leftover colours. I don’t think I would have been able to anyway; as I like this combination so much. These are the best reasons for breaking my do not buy any yarn rule. Now I’ll go back to only buying for specific projects, as usual. I just seemed to make blanket after blanket for several years, each with wildly differing colour schemes, as you can maybe tell from my Garter Stitch Blanket.

I’m so delighted to be making this for someone I know. It’s just not the same when you don’t know where it will end up, although I will continue sending items to Knit for Peace. 

I’ve just realised I photographed the wool I bought for my Cottage Garden CAL 5 years ago in the very same park, actually it’s probably almost in the same spot. And look who commented and liked the post – there are several lovelies who I’m in touch with and who still comment now. 


I don’t know why, but I just wanted to show you my new bag from the National Trust shop at Trengwainton, Cornwall. I really liked the blue zip thingys and strap, and the splash of orangey-red on the back. I can’t resist a new bag! 

What have you bought lately?

Yarning Along: citrus stripes

Garter stitch stripes with 250 stitches a row is not as boring as I expected. I thought it would be a two row job at the most, each sitting and then the yawning would begin. Changing colours every other row seems to keep it feeling fresh, and with my citrusy lemon, lime and orange it’s definitely that! I’ll tone it back down with the next colour; otherwise we’ll need sunglasses just to look at it. I’m carrying on with a colour until the ball runs out, then grabbing another from a big bag. It’s a stashbuster so is going to have an ‘interesting look’, not my usual blend of colours. I tend to buy yarn only for specific projects and these are leftovers from blankets, and a few from a yarn kit I bought when I was new to crochet. There are a couple of colours that I dislike but I’m hoping blending them with others might help. If not, l’ll donate them to a charity knit group.  I took it to an outpatients clinic on Monday, while I waited for someone, and the nurses all seemed to walk past smirking. I guess I was an incongruous sight as everyone else was staring at the wall or their ‘phone. No one had a book, though I guess some might have been reading an ebook. That old chestnut about knitting helping to calm and provide a distraction is so true, once you’ve got over the smirking nurses and disinterested stares. But I have to admit I thought taking my knitting while I waited might be nice for other people too. It would be my way of helping anxious outpatients. A Florence Nightingale of yarn. They could be soothed in the manner of those slow tv programmes; where you’re following the journey of a canal boat, or seeing someone hand turning a wooden bowl in real time. Maybe it would even provide distracting opportunities for them to talk about how they’d love to learn to knit, or prompt them to reminisce about their Grandma knitting jumpers when they were young. Serves my vanity right! 

As for reading: I’m still going on with The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan. It’s all going to connect soon and I’m quite intrigued to see how the four (or is it six?) characters share the story. I’m listening to The Plays of Alan Bennett and yesterday finished The Madness of George III,  now I hope the next provides some lighter relief. Really I’m waiting for The History Boys.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched the film and I’ve also read the play, there’s just something I love about it. The flowers were taken a our visit to  Saltram House  (see below) and garden, Devon, on Sunday on the way home. This week my body can’t understand why it’s not allowed pasty for lunch, cake for afternoon tea and cider before dinner…it’s definitely got the holiday blues. We walked 69 miles while away to try to balance these out. And because we love the coast paths around there. 

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.

Yarning Along: lazy mornings 

Sitting in bed in the mornings glancing out at the sea, I’ve been adding a few rows to my knitting and crochet. It feels really lazy and holidayish, so perfect really. I never do this at home, only when I’m away. 

Last week I bought a fluffy book to bring away with me, but discovered that it’s one I’ve read already. No matter. I found The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan on Kindle, read the sample and know it’s the book for me. At £1.99 it wasn’t a hard decision to make! This is the blurb: Antony Peardew, once a celebrated author, now in his twilight years, spent half his life collecting lost objects; trying to atone for a promise broken many years before. Realising he’s running out of time he leaves his house and all his lost treasures to his assistant Laura the one person he can trust to fulfill his legacy, and reunite the thousands of objects with their rightful owners… sounds intriguing doesn’t it?

If you’d like to share a photo of what you’re making and reading every Wednesday, leave a link in the comments and I’ll add it here. 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.

1: Simply Summer Street

2: Vikki Bird Designs

3: One Creative Cat

4: Needles and Wool

West Cornwall


Walking part of the south-west coast path, taking numerous photos some in the same spots as last year and the year before: “But it’s so beautiful”, staring out to sea watching gulls drift slowly along the coastline, pasties and cake or an ice-cream for lunch, stopping for an afternoon pit-stop of cider and snacks, guessing how many steps we’ve walked; then checking the pedometer, planning which fish or seafood to buy for dinner, making G&T in slightly too small glasses, swigging the leftover tonic from the can, looking at the OS map and wondering what the weather will do, crocheting in bed in the morning while looking out to sea and listening to an Alan Bennett play….

Holiday.

Yarning Along: Cornish mining distraction

I’ve never knit anything with Stylecraft Special DK before and I started this garter stitch blanket just to use up some odd balls. I’m really liking the softness of the fabric as it slowly grows. I felt very encouraged when I handled Phil’s version. It’s so drapey and soft. I actually wasn’t making this for anyone in particular, but maybe it will end up being mine as a snuggling blanket for cold nights? It’s 250 stitches long, I’m knitting the width as Arne & Carlos instruct. This is not going to be a fast project and I didn’t go to knit night this week, so it’s been abandoned in its bag for a day or two. I’m still catching up on series 2 of Poldark and it’s imperative I give him my full attention!

This week I’m reading Perfect by Rachel Joyce. I listened to her first novel: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry a while ago, so when I saw her second novel in the library I grabbed it. It’s set in summer 1972, here in England, where two boys are intent on rescuing one of their mothers from what the blurb calls ‘impending crisis’. There’s also a present day story, set in the winter, which concerns Jim who struggles with OCD. There is a connection, but what?

Before I go I just have to recommend Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I read it last week in several big gulps. I could not put it down, without reluctance. (The film adaptation starring Reece Witherspoon is good too.) It’s the true account of Cheryl, who when she was 22 experienced huge feelings of loss and grief. She decided to walk the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State, alone. I was backpacking at that same time and although our travels were completely different in fundamental ways, there were similarities: experiencing the kindness of strangers, making instant bonds with people you meet along the way and the ways in which you feel yourself change. As the book neared the end it was pleasing to picture many of the places along the Oregon and Washington border, because of Teresa Kasner’s blog. She’s written about and photographed many of the places mentioned.

If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading this week, leave a link to a current post in the comments and I’ll add it here. 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.

1: One Creative Cat

2: Vikki Bird Designs

3: Made by Patch

4: Needles and Wool

Yarning Along: still hot 


This is possibly the laziest ever photo I’ve taken for my blog; sitting on my bench in the garden I threw my knitting down and clicked (it is 32-33 deg today.) You might be thinking my sandals do nothing for the picture, but I like that blue contrasting with the grey and grape stripes…

I’m listening to I See You by Clare Mackintosh and am finding it gripping in much the same way I felt at the beginning of my last audio thriller (The Girl Before by J.P Delaney.) I seem to be having a bit of a run on them. I do like trying to figure out what’s going on. I worked out the last fairly early on though, and was disappointed to be right. By the end I felt that I liked, but didn’t love it. There needs to be some clever, gasp out loud, twists to really impress. Let’s see if this one can accomplish that task!

Yarning Along: 
If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading this week, leave a link to a current post in the comments and I’ll add it here. 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’ve had quite a few people say they’d love to join in but they don’t read fast/much/at all. Books are books, and non-fiction counts! Recipe books, craft, gardening etc etc, I think we just like to see what each other are reading. 

1: Nice Piece of Work

2: One Creative Cat

3: Simply Summer Street

4: Vikki Bird Designs

5: Needles & Wool

6: Wooly Cakes & Wooden Spoons

Hotter than Ibiza

My friend just sent a photo on WhatsApp of her legs up in the garden, with a glass of what she claims is water. It looks suspiciously like a vodka tonic to me but I don’t blame her if it is; as today it’s been hotter than Ibiza, Paris and New York, to name a few. 31 degrees! That’s hot for a country whose houses are all well insulated against the cold, where most people have wall to wall carpets and noooo A/C.

The frogs (we think, though maybe they’re toads and we’ve mistakenly identified them for years?) are taking it in turns to bask on the edge of the water tank in the garden. This is a tiny one. The bigger one was there yesterday and you can see s/he here

I tried to do some crochet, but it was really too hot and I had to give up when I realised the yarn was actually squeaking through my fingers….that’s pretty gross isn’t it?!

Instead I used my Nespresso machine and aeroccino to make iced coffees for the first time. Oh yes, there will definitely be more of these scrummy drinks.

For one iced coffee: make 40ml of espresso coffee, 90ml of cold frothy milk and 1-2 tsp of sugar syrup. Pour the hot coffee over lots of ice, mix in the sugar syrup and then stir in the milk.

I made a jar of sugar syrup for cocktails a while back and was so glad it was already there sitting in the fridge. I reckon an iced coffee habit is impending, so I’m sure I’ll have to make some more!

Yarning Along: something really easy


After meeting Phil of The Twisted Yarn on Yarn Shop Day I met up with her and some of her knit group at a very nice village pub last night. And of course I made the rookie mistake (which I make time and time again) of not taking something very, very easy. So, some of the time my fingers were moving across my Wave Blanket trying to quietly check my stitch count…..4,2,2,4,2,2,4 and work out what I needed to do next. It was ok in the end, after a bit of undoing, but I know I need to start something really easy for when I’m social crafting; it’s dire otherwise for my concentration. It’s always my crochet or knitting that suffers, not my conversation. But then perhaps I can’t really be the judge of the quality of that, can I?! Phil and the others have invited me back, or perhaps it was politeness; it’s a very friendly group after all.

I’d decided that I really liked them after the first 15 minutes and so maybe unwisely launched into tales of other knit groups. There was quite a bit of teasing about them being fodder for the next group I join. But, I’m being nothing but complimentary. It’s genuine too. Ah, I have to add that this was my first ever group where everyone started off crocheting! Not one single person sniffed at me and said “Oh, you’re crocheting. Can’t you knit?” It almost felt miraculous.

Please don’t ask me about the sock…there’s no news, yet. I just need to sit and concentrate on the next stage. You know by now that I am a prize procrastinator and so I’m excelling at delaying starting the heel. Instead, I have cast on to start Arne and Carlos Garter Stitch Blanket which is going to be super easy. Perfect for social crafting.

As for reading: last week I’d only just chosen A Ghost in the Machine from the library. Now I’m really stuck in and it’s exactly as good as I thought it would be; well-written, well paced and the lead up to the key event has been interesting. I’m reading a little every day, since there are quite a number of villagers and I don’t want to have to skip back and forth trying to refresh my memory with key facts.

If you’d like to share a photo of what you’re making and reading this week, leave a link to a current post in the comments and I’ll add it here. 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.

1: One Creative Cat

2: Needles and Wool

3: Vikki Bird Designs

Basildon Park

  

These photos are from a visit to Basildon Park a National Trust property in Berkshire, which we visited on Sunday. I’m glad we went before the storms of this week, as I reckon the petals of the rose garden might now have been blown away!

The interesting thing about this is that Lady Iliffe didn’t die until 2007 and so there is a video of her speaking about how she and her husband came to buy the property after the War. It’s not very often that you have the opportunity to see and hear the last inhabitants of an NT house, for obvious reasons. They had seen it before, in the late thirties, and hadn’t forgotten it. One day they passed nearby, wondering what became of the place, and ended up joining Men from the Ministry of Works on an impromptu tour. It had sat empty for fifty years, apart from being requisitioned during both the First and Second World Wars. As you see it’s a solidly impressive building. It must have taken a big pot of money to renovate and restore; but as Lord Iliffe was a newspaper magnate, photographed with Winston Churchill and Lord Beaverbrook amongst others, that probably was not a huge issue….

 I loved the view from the gardens at the back. The Berkshire (pronounced “bark-sher”) countryside rolls beautifully on. We had a good walk in the woodland and looked around the house. It was good to revisit as I had memories of some horrible 1950s decor in the house in the early noughties (I think): a plastic bed-surround with a white plastic teasmaid and polyester bedspread. The lovely gallery guide told me the house was now much improved and we’d find it very altered. I was much younger (practically a child) that first visit and expected faded grandeur, not a pink telephone by the bed! 

When I win my pot of Lottery money I shall buy a Lifetime Membership of The National Trust. It’s always a great day out, with chances for a good walk too. (This reminds of a film we had a recommendation to watch: Golden Age, it’s fun and has a fantastic British cast.)

Yarning Along: waving


I’ve had terribly itchy fingers lately. I just really wanted to do some crochet, anything just to do some. I did have a good search for Log Cabin type blanket patterns. I might make one sometime, but for now I decided I wanted something I can pick up and add to whenever I want to. I don’t really like the way it looks when you add stitches along the sides of the central square. I tried a few patterns. The Wave stitch suits me better at the moment, and I like the way the colours flow.
 This is also another way to use up some of my leftover Stylecraft yarn from other blankets. This Wave Blanket is just going to be a small one, and will probably end up going to Knit for Peace with the last Star Ripple I made, as I don’t know anyone that needs them. Etsy is flooded with crocheters selling blankets, so I doubt it’s worth adding them. I enjoyed getting into the rhythm of the wave pattern last night, as I laughed along to an episode of Graham Norton.
I picked up A Ghost in the Machine by Caroline Graham yesterday at the library. I’ve never read or watched any of the Midsommer Murders but I read the first page to see if I liked the writing style and it looks good. Hopefully I won’t miss anything having not read the previous six. Before I go I have to highly recommend my last library read: The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso. It’s witty, thought provoking and a perfect length. 


If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading this week, leave a link to your post in the comments and I’ll add it here. (Still haven’t found a DIY Linky thing which works with WordPress blogs, but I’ll keep looking.) 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’ve had quite a few people say they’d love to join in but they don’t read fast/much/at all. Books are books, and non-fiction counts! Recipe books, craft, gardening etc etc, I just like to see what others are reading. 

1: Vikki Bird Designs

2: Wooly Cakes and Wooden Spoons

3: One Creative Cat

4: Mossy Road

5: Simply Summer Street

6: Kneedles and Wool

Yarning Along: a little progress 

A little progress, but not a lot admittedly as I’ve been away and didn’t sit knitting; with the sea to walk beside, good weather, food and drink it’s understandable, for some. Unthinkable for others!

I recommend The Reader on the 6:27 it’s a good and very quick read. Translated from the original French it is quirky and definitely reminded me of Amelie. 

If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading this week, leave a link to a current post in the comments and I’ll add it here. 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.

1: Vikki Bird Designs

2: One Creative Cat

3: Simply Summer Street

4: Made by Patch

Yarning Along: I’m knitting a sock!

Yep I’ve finally stopped talking about it and started! Confession: I couldn’t face the faff of doing a tension square, so asked a few sock knitters about it. A couple said they never do one for socks. The other is also a size 6 and said she starts with the same quantity of cast on stitches I’d guessed I need. I know, I know if it all goes wrong I’ll be playing Prince Charming and finding someone with the perfect sized foot…!

It’s so easy to count rounds of rib when it’s variegated yarn as the little v stitches are different colours. The changing colours make for more interesting knitting full stop as I’m now on the body part of the sock, that’s 60 or so rounds of plain, it is quite dull. But I love that you magically get stocking stitch when using circulars. I must remember to stop and wiggle my fingers and flex my hands as the tiny needles are quite constraining. Maybe I should start a crochet project to alternate with and avoid hand strain.

This week I’ve just started listening to The Girl Before by JP Delaney. The book is a Radio 2 Bookclub choice and I heard the author talking about it in February. It’s a thriller set in London about two women who, at different times, apply to live in 1, Folgate Street. As I listened and knit yesterday I knew there was no way I’d agree to the architect’s terms and conditions. No books?! No pot plants?! No rugs?! And that’s only a few of the specifications. The audio is read by Emilia Fox and Finty Williams. I must stop listening to Finty’s voice and accent rather than fully concentrating on the story. It’s just that I keep analysing whether she sounds like her Mother, Dame Judi.

If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading this week, leave a link to a current post in the comments and I’ll add it here. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

1:  Vikki Bird Designs

2: Simply Summer Street

3: Needles and Wool

4: Mossy Road

5: Florence Kerns

6: Made by Patch

Greys Court 

Such a lovely day at Greys Court, National Trust property, yesterday.

We did the woodland walk and ended up sort of mindlessly following a couple who were far ahead along the path, although for most of the time we hadn’t seen anyone else at all. I’m glad there were still some bluebells out. The upshot of following others, and not taking much notice, was that the 1 3/4 mile trail turned into 3 miles! But actually that’s perfect as 1 3/4 miles is not really a long enough walk for me. Things turned a bit surreal when we got chatting, as we all tried to find the official path, and I recommended they visit The Fan Museum in Greenwich, not so much for the fans but for a perfect example of a merchant’s London townhouse. She then mentioned a town up north where there are a number of great NT properties to visit. He interjected with “Oh, where your friend X lives?” And I’m not sure why, but I asked if it was the X married to X? This is something that’s always amused me when I’m travelling abroad; someone will ask if I know Liz in Ealing when I mention London. But, would you believe it was the same X who is indeed married to X! The woman and my friend are trustees of the same charity and know each other very well. It just shows that however random the question seems, sometimes it’s really worth asking.

We then moved on to girl-talk about the best place to buy girlie shoes while the men plodded on behind, trying to make sense of the map and find the correct path! Eventually we four found ourselves back at the car park and had completed our circular walk, in a wiggly fashion.

I really love NT days out as there’s usually a good chance to walk amongst stunning countryside. They’re often built on the side of a hill so there are plenty of great views and you get out of puff, which always makes you feel like you’ve done a ‘proper walk’. Of course then there’s a cafe or picnic, if we’re really organised, for lunch (and cake?) at the end. Basically if you’re stuck for what to do on a Sunday, I’d say choose to visit a NT property for: great walks, gardens to explore, a house (…cottage, townhouse, manor, priory, windmill, castle….?) cafe and shop. The free tours can be fascinating and well done too.

I spend much of the time imagining I’m the lady of the house wandering around. Or perhaps the Governess, or the house-keeper. When I’m not drifting about in a day-dream I find the other visitors are usually friendly. I always end up chatting to someone anyway. I’m not keen on some dogs, but they all have to be kept on leads and are mostly the relaxed and well behaved type of family dogs, that don’t make my hands sweaty and my heart race.

Greys Court have a very easy and unfussy system of selecting free flow tickets to see the house; we simply selected our own ticket from a box for the time we fancied. It was so much easier than being offered and accepting a specific slot, without time to think and opportunity for a quick conflab. I am so glad we left 2.5 hours for exploring, since our prolonged walk and leisurely lunch were not rushed at all. By the way: I always go for the ham salad sandwich at NT cafes as I reckon they’re usually the best.
The gardens were a delight too, kitchen gardens in particular fascinate me. I stroll along imagining snipping a bit of this and digging a few of those to cook. Or in Housekeeper mode it’s the kitchen lad or maid, of course. It’s also the pleasing parallel rows of vegetables that are so soothing to my orderly soul. (Another word is sometimes used, but I live with a barbarian.)

Mum has been telling me for a while that I should visit when the wisteria is flowering. I see why now. The scent was heavenly and it wasn’t at its best either; after weeks of very dry weather, then torrential rain. Plus I guess it’s coming to the end of its flowering season. I’ll make a note to go back next May…

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Yarning Along: Star Ripple III & Slouch & Bobble Hat finished 


I finished the hat on Monday and the blanket on Tuesday (yesterday) and today am in the odd position of not having anything woolly on the go. I did spend ages looking through pattern links I’ve saved, in the notes section on my iphone, and on Ravelry and looked through my favourite makers photos on Instagram, but can’t find anything that grabs me. I think the time has come to stop putting knitting my first pair of socks off. It’s just the thought of all the new stuff to read and try that makes me procrastinate.  But I bought all the kit last year and Trish sent me a copy of Christine Perry’s (aka Winwick Mum) sock book. It’s time isn’t it? 

They’re rather grim photos I know. I had planned lovely outside shots but it’s rained all night. I’m so glad as it hasn’t rained for a long time. Farmers say their seeds are just lying in dust in the fields. A hosepipe ban in many counties lies ahead, and apparently we need two months of solid rain to put enough water back into the water table. I did enjoy this in the sunshine on Sunday though…

I’m soon to finish If You Go Away by Adele Parks, and plan to listen to the last hour of my neglected comedy audio book Toast on Toast by Steven Toast too.  This week it’s all endings isn’t it? 

Actually there’s more… After several frustrating emails to inlinkz, where we were both typing the same language, but it seemed only one of us actually read what the other had written, it was finally stated (admitted?) that inlinkz is not compatible with WordPress. I was offered a refund. So, we’re back to no proper link up on a Wednesday. However please feel free to add a link to your Yarn Along / Yarning Along post here in the comments and I’ll add it to my post. We can still share what we’re making and reading every week.

1: Simply Summer Street

2: Vikki Bird Designs

3: Made by Patch

4: The Eclectic Stitch

Yarning Along: nearly there

I’m always making something and rarely go a day without reading. I enjoyed seeing everyone’s posts on Ginny’s Yarn Along, now it’s finished I decided to host my own version. Come and share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday. Get inspired by others’ projects and motivated to finish your own. You might pick up good book recommendations too.

Leave your link by clicking on the blue box below, and following the instructions. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog etc, so others can find us! Tell your followers about Yarning Along on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc using #yarningalong.


I popped into the library yesterday to find a book on sewing with jelly rolls. I wasn’t successful but did pick up Half Yard Gifts by Debbie Shore. The pyramid paper weight looks like a nice little project. While there I looked through my notes on my iPhone and found I’d added book recommendations from magazines in 2015, so it seemed like time to try finding some of them! If You go Away by Adele Parks is set in Edwardian England. Débutante Vivian Foster is seeking the marriage proposal that will seal her triumphant season into society. What could go wrong? It seems well researched, is well written so far and I’m intrigued…

My last two little Star Ripple blankets were 30″ across and this is not far-off. I’m enjoying the crochet; it’s a pretty pattern and easy to do but I might stop soon. It’s meant to be a scrap buster project using leftovers from the Blackberry Ripple blanket and I’m running out of colours.

Did you spot that my posts for Blog Every Day in May (BEDM) stopped after seven? I didn’t run out of ideas, but my goodness it’s a big ask in terms of time and energy. I also started to feel like I was just spamming everybody with posts! A week was pretty good, I’m happy with that.

You can view other people’s links by clicking on this blue box, you don’t necessarily need to leave one of your own, though of course I’d love it if you did. 

Beautiful bluebells

Not many words are needed today. I’d run out of superlatives anyway; trying to describe the beauty of this bluebell wood. 

This year again we didn’t see any deer, though we did stand still several times when we heard rustling in the undergrowth. 

Mum, when I first started blogging, used to say: “You’re taking so many photographs!” Now it’s: “Have a look at your blog later to see when we came here last year.” And: “Take the bluebells in front of that magnificent horse chestnut. There are such pretty celandines here with bluebells behind, the colours look lovely together. Here’s a pretty group of cowslips.” She’s right of course, so I snapped them all for you. 
Here are blog posts from previous visits to the same woods, in 20142015 and 2016. I think you might recognise some of the trees and paths.

Yarn Shop Day 

Yarn shop day was a quiet affair at Masons. It seems they didn’t organise or publicise it until the end of the week, which is a shame for them, however for me and my friend it was a lovely afternoon. She had never been before, despite hearing about it for ages. Masons has its own brand of charm. Until recently you would have seen laundry baskets bursting full of discounted and end of the range balls, all along the edges of the shop. A few friends had told me they’ve had a big sort out in there and to be honest I was a bit worried. But there was no need; it’s still basically the same. It’s old fashioned and, most importantly, is still jam-packed with the good stuff. I’ve loved it for ages (see, I blogged about it in 2012. 2012?! How can it have been sooo long ago? Time whizzes.) It’s warm, cosy and the staff are always usually up for a good natter. Suits me down to the ground!

I took the fifth photo looking towards the front of the shop when there was a lull, and some customers had just left. The staff member said she was happy to pose, while her colleague is out of sight hiding behind the fabric racks! (I would have done exactly the same!) The shop’s crochet group and tutor were in the room behind me, busily working together to sew motifs into a blanket.

I finally got to meet Phil of The Twisted Yarn, after dipping in and out of her blog for a long time now. We both took part in the blog hop to promote Edward’s Imaginarium last September, so it was very good to put a face to the name. We’ve swapped details and hope to have a crafty meet up soon. The poor crochet group had the three of us standing over them chatting for ages while they quietly sewed!

Was I restrained? Or did I give into yarn buying temptation? I was actually an angel and bought just one ball. My friend was much more supportive of the business, but not her bank balance, so I don’t feel too guilty! This is a little PR for the business too isn’t it? (VISIT Masons!)

Hair of the sheep


Oh dear, crochet is very good medicine today as I’m feeling rather fragile. I’ve tried the double shot cappuccino and cooked breakfast, followed with a few sugary sweets ‘cure’. All self inflicted, but not entirely my fault, well not really. Last night I met a friend for a drink and a catch up, following the end of a course we’ve been on since last November. The only thing was I wasn’t at all impressed with his choice of pub, so suggested we move to another for the next drink and somehow it turned into a pub crawl with us taking turns to suggest the next. Whoops! The emergency money I mentioned in yesterday’s post is definitely not being spent on gin! I’m going tee-total for a bit again.

Despite living in the same area for a dozen years I still don’t seem to have memorised the time of the last bus home. So, a fairly expensive taxi ride later I was back here in the early hours, pouring pints of water to take upstairs to bed. Why, I’m wondering in the 21st century is it still so hard here, outside of major cities, to sit and chat over a drink past midnight? There was definitely some frantic last minute queuing at the bar going on. 

Anyway, this is not meant to be daily blogging of my misdemeanours and poor lifestyle choices (want to see my other Blog Every Day in May posts? Click on the BEDM tag below.) Did you know that tomorrow it’s Yarn Shop Day in the UK and Ireland? There are lots of local events listed if you search Yarn Shop Day on Facebook. The above link was the best page I found to explain how it started and I enjoyed learning about the benefits for businesses. Are you planning a visit? I’m going to an event with a friend and will be saying hi to another yarny blogger while there. I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow. I’m back to my soothing crochet and music, the hoovering can wait till the morning…

May the Force be With You!

Hurray! Have yarn, can crochet!

I don’t know what it is at the moment but I’ve seen other people writing that they’ve also really caught the crochet bug again. I’ve seen some very prolific knitters saying they’re finding it boring and crochet is much more appealing. It’s something about Spring maybe, unless you’re in the Antipodes and are also feeling the same way?
When I went into the yarn shop to buy these two at lunchtime I told the woman how I’d felt unwell, stayed at home to be quiet and rest, but had run out of yarn on the two days when it was impossible to restock. She took a hard look at me and said “You don’t sound too clever now either!” Well, it’s Star Wars day today, (May the Fourth…get it?) so let’s just say my dodgy chest and resulting growly voice is part of my Darth Vader persona.

Someone is off on a road trip from today, visiting lots and lots of fisheries and catching up with old friends. I’ve come home to a pretty card, this lovely bouquet and a tip telling me where emergency money may be found. Does running out of gin count? A strong strong hankering for my first Chinese takeaway in a year? Household-wide chocolate famine?

 

Yarning Along: the grey curse


There’s not been much crochet since Sunday since I, for some bizarre reason, only bought one ball of the main colour! So I can’t crochet any more of my beanie. Unbelievably I also ran out of grey when adding more to my Star Ripple on Monday! The curse of grey yarn… I know it’s not much of a Yarning Along post, but it’s entirely truthful.

The good news is that I’m near a yarn shop tomorrow. But I was very keen to do some crochet over the bank holiday weekend, feeling a little under par and needing distraction from the marathon snooker coverage on TV (anyone else suffer experience a lot of this too?!) but couldn’t do anything about it at all due to my local yarn shops being closed on Sundays and for the holiday. I’m better if I only have two things on the go at a time, so resisted the urge to start some knitting. 

I enjoyed Love Nina, by Nina Stibbe so much that I’m now listening to Paradise Lodge, which is a semi-autobiographical account. I’ve found a good Guardian review if you fancy reading a bit more about her books. Do you remember the awful stereotypical character Emily, in Friends, played by Helen Baxendale? She’s narrating this book really well. Apparently a Leicestershire accent is hard to do but she’s doing a good job.

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I’m always making something and I never go a day without reading. I’m really missing Ginny’s Yarn Along as I always enjoyed seeing everyone’s posts, so I’ve decided to host my own version.

Come and share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday. Get inspired by others and motivated to finish your makes. You might even pick up some good book recommendations.  Leave a current link here by clicking on the blue box below, and following the instructions. Don’t forget to include a link back to this post on your blog etc, so others can find us! Tell your followers about Yarning Along on your blog, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc using #yarningalong.

I was hoping your image thumbnails would magically appear here, rather than on an external page (I’ve paid for a subscription.) The issue seems to be with WordPress blogs, but one click on the blue box will take you to view them. If you’ve hosted a link up with a link-up provider, which does work well with WordPress, let me know!

I’m in my happy place

When my friend Gill messages me to find out where I am in London, sometimes I’ll just reply: “I’m in my happy place.” Then she knows where to come and find me immediately. I really enjoy a good mooch around the haberdashery department of John Lewis, Oxford Street, London. I’m often not the only one spending time waiting for a friend, or just having a really really good look around. I think the staff are used to it as well, they’re very laid-back. 

It’s not a huge area, but is full of really, really good quality wool (there’s not a huge amount of acrylic yarn going on here.) I have to admit my spending is mostly confined to a few balls of this and that. I’ve never had a major splurge; probably because I’m always going out and about from there and don’t want to carry a big bag of wool around with me. Plus I haven’t won the lottery yet…

This time I really fell in love with Martin Storey’s Folk Cowl. I actually started gathering some of the Rowan tweed DK I’d need but realised at £7:95 per ball it was going to be a really expensive little make. Drat! I think I’d neeed to find an alternative brand, though the Rowan colours are absolutely perfect. 

Do you think I can try that thing radio DJs do when it’s something like National Pie Week and they throw out masses of hints about wanting to try some? In result they get sent freebies to the radio station… Yes? Anyone want me to test knit this Folk Cowl pattern with these Rowan colours? Do you want my address? I’m really happy to do it for you, that’s the kind of lady I am.

I’m planning to blog every day in May, this is day two and I’m only slightly regretting my decision!

Got to start (again) somewhere 

On a Saturday in March I lugged many bags into a secondary school Maths classroom and wondered how my day was going to go. I’d signed up for a day-long machine patchwork course after far too long not doing any sewing. The skills I once had had atrophied. Funnily enough I’d done a cushion making workshop with the same tutor many years ago. I remembered her as very funny and straight talking. She hasn’t changed at all and is a superb teacher. I even got told off for nearly being silly, she’s that good at anticipating bad behaviour. It appears I haven’t changed at all since I was really in a secondary school Maths lesson.
I baggsied a nice spot at a table for six by the sunny window and waited for others to arrive. The room started filling quite quickly. A very quiet elderly woman set up along from me, this was fine but I fancied a fun day with lots of chat and maybe even some laugher, reasoning that even if the patchwork went badly it could still be enjoyable. I quite liked the professional-sewer look of one woman, who was settling herself at a table across the room. She seemed to have all the kit and a swish sewing machine, plus very cool coloured Liberty fabric. Then another woman came in a few minutes before the start, all of a fluster and panic: “Are you sure I should be here? You have told the others I’m a complete beginner? I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing!” Well this decided it for me; I didn’t have to be the only rusty sewer or novice there, she seemed like she’d be good fun too. So I approached her and turned to Anne-Marie too, saying they should join me at my table. I think I actually said “You can sit there, and you can sit there.” I might even have pointed to their appointed places. This is a bit embarrassing! But I’m not saying I wouldn’t do it again.

By mid-afternoon Anne-Marie was saying to Tracy that she was amazed they both did exactly what they were told, she’d even moved all her stuff from her table to mine! It was a fab day, I picked wisely. At the end we all said we wished we could spend every Saturday sewing. Tracy suggested we set up a WhatsApp group and by bedtime we’d shared photos of things we’d made, more things we were trying to make and discussing when we’d get together to sew again.

I did kick myself for not getting my machine out beforehand to refamiliarise myself with how to thread it and fill the bobbin. Things could have started a little more swiftly, but it was ok in the end. I’ve noticed that whatever the course I’m always the last to finish each step, be it making polymer beads, jewellery making, intarsia or Fair Isle knitting (that was the following Tuesday. I might tell you about that another time.) It’s the perfectionist tendencies I have, whereas others throw themselves at something new, sensibly accepting their first try isn’t going to be the best. Mine certainly isn’t either, but at least I’ve tried very, very hard!

I wish I hadn’t tried quilting my piece (we had time at the end of the day to play) as my patchwork isn’t exactly enhanced by the dodgy stitching around the outside to attach the wadding. I could undo it all, but the thought is rather painful.

From that day sewing in streaming Spring sunshine, laughing, chatting and unpicking stray stitches I’ve made two new friends. They’re great fun and we are all pretty keen on sewing and, it turns out, crochet. Anne-Marie is making a cooked breakfast crochet blanket for her son, freeform style, and when we’ve met for crochet in cafes asks me random (and quite challenging!) questions about how I would crochet a baked bean, or a button mushroom? Tracy has two little grand-daughters aged 5 and 7 months, she’s aiming to make them both a patchwork quilt by Christmas. Yes, she is the flustered “I’m not sure I should be here” novice sewer! But that’s Tracy, she throws herself into things. Why waste time panicking that you don’t know what to do? You just try and get on with it! I’ve just dropped off my blocking mats so she can have a go at blocking her deceased ex-mother in law’s crochet pieces to make up an heirloom blanket for her daughter. She’s You Tubing various joining methods as I type I expect.

Anne-Marie belongs to an exclusive Sewing Group, which started about 20 years ago as the tutor found people attending her workshops said they just wanted and needed time and space to sew. Space physically, rather than clearing off the dining room table to set up (then planning meals the family could eat on trays for a few days), and time as in an allotted time where it couldn’t be put off. She asked if I could join the group and I asked if my fellow novice sewer Tracy could come too. As I told her, I didn’t want to be the only idiot there. This made her laugh and didn’t offend in the slightest. This is why I like her so much. We really are honoured as I think it’s usually by invitation from the tutor only.

We’ve been twice so far and I’m hooked. There’s no teaching, it’s in a village hall like the equivalent of a Knit and Natter group. You take whatever you’re making and get on with it. You can ask questions, and the tutor will come round to each table asking if you’re ok, but you need to be fairly low maintenance. It’s really well organised. There’s a quick meal of quiche or pizza at the beginning, for those coming famished straight from work, and a cake break in the middle. I’ve subverted this by taking grapes and Tracy’s taken strawberries, as we’re trying to walk the healthy eating road. We’re both usually trying to make up for the eating and drinking of the weekend!

I already seem to be the joke of the group as I took along a Rowan Amy Butler jelly roll I got from Mollie Makes magazine (I’ve googled my own blog to find out when and where I got this!) I was thinking that I wouldn’t have to do lots of faffy cutting out and could actually sew at sewing club. Plus I knew it would help me practice sewing straight lines. The issue comes when the others naturally ask me what I’m making? I have no idea, truly. I’m just joining the strips and then again and again, as the tutor has instructed. I reply that it could be a bag, cushion, a thing or skirt. A ‘thing’ looks most likely right now…

The funniest moment so far was when the tutor asked how long me, Anne-Marie and Tracy have known each other. She was visibly shocked when we laughingly said we’d only met on that Saturday in March…

I’m going to try to join in with the Blog Every Day in May plan that knitting designer Vikki has mentioned on Instagram. I’ve never tried that before. It’s quite exciting. They won’t all be as long as this post, I promise!

Yarning Along: mark 2

I’m always making something and I never go a day without reading. I’m really missing Ginny’s Yarn Along as I always enjoyed seeing everyone’s posts, so I’ve decided to host my own version.

Please feel welcome to share what you’re knitting or crocheting and reading every Wednesday. Leave a current link below to share your photo with us. Share your photo on your blog, Twitter, Instagram or on Flickr using #yarningalong. Include a link back to this post on your blog etc so others can find us!

It’s the Slouch and Bobble hat mark 2 here! My friend was wearing the first in December, at work in a Special School, and a child grabbed it from her head and threw it over the fence. It’s a bit complicated to explain but although she tried all sorts of way to retrieve it, including calling the farmer whose field it fell into, she just couldn’t and nor could he. The look on her face was sheepish to say the least, but these things happen. I really don’t mind crocheting another and with something thicker than DK for a change.

My cousin has lent me The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham. I’ve seen the film and can recommend it, particularly for the scene with Liam Hemsworth. Just watch that bit if you’re in need of a cheeky smirk! It’s a bit of a kooky film and Kate’s costumes are fabulous!

I’m a bit nervous; let’s hope your image thumbnails magically appear here, now I’ve paid for a subscription. Please tell your followers about Yarning Along on your blog, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc! The link up will be up from noon on Wednesdays and open all week. Non-fiction books and craft books can be included, just share what you’re reading. There are no hard and fast rules.

Yarning Along: the bunny’s keeping guard

I’m always making something and I never go a day without reading. I’m really missing Ginny’s Yarn Along as I always enjoyed seeing everyone’s posts, so I’ve decided to host my own version.

Please feel welcome to share what you’re knitting or crocheting and reading every Wednesday. Leave a current link below to share your photo with us. Share your photo on your blog, Twitter, Instagram or on Flickr using #yarningalong. Include a link back to this post on your blog etc so others can find us!


I’m enjoying adding to my Star Ripple blanket, my suitcase was full and so I didn’t cram it in to take away last week. It didn’t occur to me to pack it in my handbag either. This was a mistake as there were definitely evenings where a bit of crochet would have been the icing on the cake. (Or on the Millionaire Shortbread I developed an addiction to!)

This week I’m completely absorbed in a very sweet book: Jenny Colgan’s The Summer Seaside Kitchen. I’ve just had a week up in the Highlands of Scotland (where they really do make super shortbread and cover it in caramel and chocolate….!) and so this story, set on a remote island very far north, is perfect.

PS: I know this is not swish as this is the freeebie version, but from next week your thumbnails should show here, as I’ve now subscribed…

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Holey cowl

….Just in time for our current lovely Springtime temperatures! Oh well blink and the weather changes here in England.  I’ll take it away with me to wear during chilly evenings, or for wearing by the sea if the wind blows. 

The yarn looks a different colour in every photo, it’s more red not raspberry. 

The apple blossom should flower soon. It’s so pretty. 

Details – as you might want to knit a holey cowl too? 

I used Louisa Harding Orielle – Ruby (colour no. 12) 

This is a gorgeous wool blend; with 97% baby alpaca and 3% metallic polyamide (can you see the little sparkles?) It’s as soft as a cloud and drapes beautifully. 

I used 4mm needles and sewed the seam at the end. Can you spot it in the second pic? I’m not sure how I managed such a neat job of it, but I did enjoy the sewing. It would knit well on circular needles too if you prefer seamless makes. 

I used 3 x 50g skeins but if you want a longer cowl or a narrower one, the amount would obviously differ. 

Height: 41cm/16″ (I wear mine doubled over, I don’t have the neck of a giraffe!)

Circumference: 61cm/24″ 

Cast on 72 stitches 

1-5 rows: Knit  

6th row: K1, *yo, k2tog and repeat to the penultimate stitch, k1

And repeat until it’s the right height for you. 

Easy! Good pub or cafe knitting if you have a crafty meet up ahead. 

Bunch of pretty 

On the way out of Sainsbury’s yesterday this lovely bunch of spring flowers caught my eye. They smelled delicious too. On offer, reduced from £8 to £4, I couldn’t resist. 

My lacy cowl is coming on, I think I might see if it’s long enough at the end of this skein of wool. Then I can move onto something else. I wish I could knit faster. Maybe I’ll have a go at continental if I can find a good tutorial. I know I’ve said this before.  

I’m rereading The Camomile Lawn for the nth time. It’s got my name and Christmas 1993 written inside…so it will be many, many times over the years. On the train to London, on Saturday, I asked the girl next to me if I could be cheeky and read the blurb on her upturned book. It was Human Voices by Penelope Fitzgerald. The title and the white cover really attracted my attention. I’m planning to order it from my library. We spent some time talking about the author, books and reading. In return I recommended this and Mary Wesley’s subsequent novels. This discussion prompted me to run downstairs late that evening to reread it, yet again. 

A third 

Rather than tidy away leftover yarn from The Blackberry Ripple I just grabbed a hook and began another star ripple blanket. It’s such a neat little pattern by Celeste Young and can be found here on Ravelry.

The first, made a few years ago, I gave to my hairdresser for her new baby. She used it as a car blanket and said it was a perfect size. The second I sent off to Knit for Peace along with the Baby Hexagon blanket and the Squares and Stripes blanket. I’m not sure what I’ll do with this third one; I’m not making it for any reason other than to make something new. Ahem, also after my Dry Lent finishes I thought it might be good to take to the pub, when I meet up with other crafty people, as it’s simple and easy. You know what I’m saying?!

I’m still listening to The Trouble with Goats and Sheep  by Joanna Cannon (still very good) and have picked up  The Cursed Child by J.K Rowling et al once again.

Ginny has decided to stop hosting the Yarn Along, while I thoroughly support her decision I am sad because I’ve enjoyed joining in so much. I’m wondering if I could host a similar weekly link-up? But it obviously requires participants…

The Blackberry Ripple Blanket – Finished


I started this blanket last March, but as you can see from my update at the beginning of November it was still scarf sized! (You can follow its progress by clicking on the tag ‘The Blackberry Ripple’ at the bottom of this post and any updates I wrote will be shown.) It was a project I very rarely picked up as I was distracted by making other things, then we had a warm summer and autumn so sitting with a woolly blanket was the last thing on my mind. I read like a bookworm instead. All in all this ripple didn’t take very long to crochet at all; as when I focused I usually completed two or three rows at a sitting. I should tot up the hours if I make another, it would be interesting in a nerdy way!


On Saturday I gave it to my friend, who put it straight onto her bed (purple duvet!) She said the colours were absolutely perfect for her. It’s a good feeling finishing a blanket, but even greater when you hand it over knowing it will be used right away.

The Blackberry Ripple Details:  

4 mm hook (I use Clover Amour hooks)

Stylecraft Special DK – 8 shades:

Emperor
Silver
Grey
Grape
Sage
Plum
Lavender
Parma Violet

Weight: 1,120kg
Width: 116cm, 46.5″
Length: 156cm, 61.5″

Starting chain: 213 I used the Attic 24 Neat Ripple pattern

See my Zesty Raspberry Ripple blanket post for info about the double crochet spike stitch edging.
And the next day I started something new with the leftover yarn…

The final round 

If you’re reading this then you already know how we woolly types like to live life in the fast lane; regularly playing yarn chicken, Googling wool shops whenever we visit somewhere new and fearlessly knitting and crocheting in pubs. So what you see now won’t surprise you…I’m doing the two colour edging rows in one go, the yarns chasing each other around the edge! I know – yikes! 

 I’m listening to The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon and loving it. Actress Paula Wilcox is a great narrator and so far I’ve laughed out loud lots of times. Do you remember the long hot summer of ’76? (My wax crayons melted.)

I’m joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along

Good reminder 

I think I’ve got to that age where written lists and e-reminders flashing up on my iPhone are a vital part of leading an efficient life! If it’s not written down it seems it doesn’t get done some days…I have a brain of custard. Today’s reminder was my weekly Yarn Along alert. It isn’t always helpful to see if I’m strolling along in London or far away from any woolly stuff, but at times it really prompts me to consider what I’m making. You really don’t want to see the same ruby wool for the third week in a row, do you? So what a good motivator it is to start on the border of my ripple. It’s been sat in a bag at the side of the sofa, looking reproachfully at me for a week or two. I haven’t crocheted properly for ages, apart from last week when I took a ball of cotton to a pub craft meet up. I learnt, the hard way, to take the simplest thing as chatter and patterns don’t go well for me, even very simple lace knitting.

I’m now reading After you Left by Carol Mason. I signed up for Kindle First which gives you a no obligation chance to buy books before they’re published, so got this for 99p. I’m getting drawn into the mystery of a husband who disappears on his honeymoon, leaving the scantiest of notes to his new wife, Alice. An older woman has just turned up at the gallery where Alice works and it seems she has a story of her own, with haunting parallels to Alice’s life.

The next time you see this blanket it will be finished. Hurray for Yarn Along reminders!

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

You can’t handle it, can you?


On Sunday I finished my scarf; three skeins worth of Louisa Harding’s Orielle wool and quite a lot of knitting time. I cast off, looked at it, frowned and threw it to my Mr. He said “It’s nice, I like it but its too asymmetrical for you to handle isn’t it?!” 

I did try it on, pretended it was fastened into a cowl, posed in front of mirrors and considered. Then…. I undid the whole thing, rewound three balls of yarn on my nostepinne and on Monday started again. The same lacy repeat every six rows, but no increase and decrease at the end of every odd numbered row. It’s not going to be odd shaped. A bit boring maybe, but much more me! 

I’ve borrowed one of my ten year old niece’s Christmas presents! She’s a proper little bookworm. It’s lovely to be able to share some books. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is in script form as it was written as a play. It is very good so far and I have to say I was skeptical. 

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

Favourite things 

Knitting and reading – a few of my favourite things. I can’t think of anything to say today, which long-term readers will admit is a first. But a sentence is often good enough for Ginny’s Yarn Along posts, so today it’s good enough for me as well.

(The book is excellent, I never want it to end.)

Getting on with it 

Now I’m on the other side of the blanket, while listening to songs on shuffle. I love the mix some days, other times I’m skipping to the next choice on every other track. Today so far I’ve heard: Smokey and the Miracles, Etta James, The Verve, Coldplay, Diane Birch, Joan Armadtrading, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Joan Osborne, Bruce Springsteen, Ryan Adams….a perfect blend. 

What are you doing? 

Enjoying 

I’ve darned one side of my ripple’s ends and so have been ‘allowed’ to knit quite a bit. Do you do this kind of trade-off too?!

There’s a mistake in the scarf pattern. I’ve realised that if I k1, *yo then k2tog* repeat to the penultimate stitch, then k1, the stitch number doesn’t decrease. The two instructions might have been transposed, which is why my 72 ended up 66 and still decreasing, last week. I ripped it back on Monday and now feel happier. I am a perfectionist and hate knowing I could do something better or just properly; bodging isn’t great!  I’ve contacted the wool shop to say about the typo, admitting I’m not the greatest knitter in the world as I might be wrong anyway.

I’m still listening to The Silent Tide by Rachel Hore. It’s a good darning and knitting companion. The story is hotting up and I’m feeling intrigued about Isobel…plus is Hugh the great writer and man we think he is?

My other books are Feel the Fear and do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers (a classic read with something uplifting for everyone) and Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty. I wanted to read the book before seeing the BBC’s 4 parter.

I’m joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along once again. I really like seeing what people are making and reading. 

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It felt like Spring, for a day 

But now it’s back to grey and drizzly. Oh well, you have to make the most of the blue sky days and sprint outside when you can. 

I have given myself permission to start something new, as long as I darn blanket ends as often as I can. I dreamt I was knitting on Sunday night, so I decided that must be what I really want to do next. I used my nostepinne for the first time and find the centre pull wool ball fab. I’ve always unwound from the outside and the balls jump out of the yarn bowl. No movement at all with a centre pull. It just sits quietly making no trouble at all.

 I’m knitting a gorgeously soft scarf with sparkley Louisa Harding Orielle (in ruby) which is 97% baby alpaca. You increase a stitch at one end and decrease a stitch at the other. There’s a lot of plain knitting involved which might get dull, but hasn’t yet. I started with 72 stitches and realised I should check that I still have 72 . There were 66!?!? How did that happen? This is fairly typical of me and knitting. I think it’s all very straightforward, and just in case I get muddled I use a row counter app, but it always goes astray somehow. The perfectionist in me is tempted to rip it all back, but the voice of reason says “It’s only a scarf, get over it. Just add 2 increases until it’s 72 again.” Alright then!

I’m about to start listening to The Silent Tide by Rachel Hore. I liked A Gathering Storm and enjoyed Gerri Halligan’s narration before, so am looking forward to it. 

PS: I finished We are all Completely Beside Ourselves (see here) and quite enjoyed it in the end. I did read another novel after the spoiler and before continuing though. 

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

A crunchy walk

Such a good walk in the woods. We went at midday and the car thermometer was showing it was a mere 1/2 a degree. But by the time we’d walked for an hour and a half it had risen to a heady 3 degrees! The tracks would normally be very muddy, but today they were actually crunchy underneath your boots because they were frozen. I loved it. The best part is finding virgin ice on frozen puddles and stomping on it. There’s that satisfying crunch as the ice shatters.  It was silent in the woods, there was no one but us and birds singing in the trees. I swear the same robin flew from branch to branch following us all around.

I really appreciated coming home into a warm house, with the option of Spicy Lentil and Root Vegetable or Carrot, Ginger and Orange soup (see this month’s Red magazine for the carrot soup recipe.) I’ve been making soup every week, often trying some new recipes. I can easily make my own, without a recipe, but like to experiment. The next ones are Parsnip & Apple, Chinese style Chicken & Sweetcorn, Chicken, Rice and Miso and I’ve got a Sweet Potato with something linked in an email too. It’s the best thing to have in the fridge; especially when you’ve stomped around a frozen wood and need an instant winter warmer. 

Now the snooker’s on and I’m getting hints about how nice a Nespresso would be…then I’m planning to crochet at least two more rows on the Blackberry Ripple. I don’t mind the background hum of the snooker, but think I’ll plug myself into my  new audio book. It’s really good so far.

Five more 

On a very rainy Monday I trotted along to my local wool shop and restocked. It’s the blanket which keeps on going! I did think I had only one or two more rows of silver to finish the body, but checked a notebook for my previous ripple lengths and decided it needs to be another 20 inches. I grew up with proverbs echoing in my ears, and currently: “If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing properly” is the one voicing itself again. Fine, it’s no hardship and I’m still enjoying the cosiness while I crochet. 

We are all Completely Beside Ourselves is the third book from my pre-Christmas grab and run library visit (see here.) I think it might be the weaker link, for me at least. I’ve got past the spoiler on page 77 and now I barely care. Before I was enjoying running theories about what might have happened through my mind, now I feel a bit ho-hum about it all. I’ll read a bit more and see how I feel by page 100! 

Last night we went to a preview showing of the film Lion – go and see it! It gave me goosebumps. 

I’m joining in with Ginny and the Yarn Along again. 

Yarn Along

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I’ve got 2 hours left of my audio book now and so I’m going to see which ends first; this blanket or the book. The blanket might win simply because I’m running out of yarn. I’ll certainly need to buy a few balls more for the border.

At the weekend I snuggled under my first Spice of Life blanket and realised this ripple is now the same size, bar an inch or two which the border would sort. After jumping for joy, a little I later realised that my friend is not 5′ 4″ and so what is a perfect snuggly size for me, might well leave her with cold feet!

The week before the Christmas weekend Mum and I set off on a shopping expedition, with lots of shops to visit and all sorts of lists in hand and mind. We popped into the library first and as we were on Operation Christmas, I just grabbed several random books and left. I chose well as it’s turning out! I really liked The Missing Marriage by Sarah May. (The blurb on the book’s back cover gives nowhere near the detail on Amazon (linked above) or GoodReads, so if you think you’d like to try it, then don’t read them. I’m really glad I hadn’t seen either before I read it.) After hearing Dicken’s A Christmas Carol and reading some more ghost stories by MR James, it seemed a ‘fresh’ story and setting for the New Year.

This is the second of my grab it and run library books. It’s great! I’m so enjoying this book. The humour in When God was a Rabbit is right up my street. The dinner lady with the spoonful of peas made me chuckle this morning. It might make me rethink using that particular word too. There’s a good sprinkling of pathos also, and it’s partially set in Cornwall; which is one of my favourite areas of the country.

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

Cosy 


When you get to a certain stage of blanket making things get really cosy, especially when it’s grey and cold outside. It’s now reaching under my chin and nearly to the tips of my toes – just to give you an idea of the length. Perhaps this is why I keep making blankets. A sock doesn’t really keep you snuggly while you knit or crochet, does it?
I’m back listening to this again after some festive radio comedies and a free version of A Christmas Carol (adapted by R.D Carstairs for Audible.co.uk – it’s superb; with a full cast and dramatic effects.) I’m not completely into this story, even though the book is halfway through. Maybe it’s my disjointed listening? Maybe perhaps it’s just not as gripping as the others in the series.

I’m joining in with Ginny and the other Yarn Alongers. 

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2016

Here are my makes of last year, well most of them. There are quite a few other things that were started and unravelled, for various reasons. None of which I regret! Despite my intention to knit or crochet smaller makes (including socks) I seem to have hooked quite a few blankets again. Why does that keep happening?!

I’m not really sure what I want to concentrate on this year. I’m working on the Blackberry ripple and that’s not far off from being a good snuggly size. Then I’ve just got to do the darning and crochet a border.

Next I think (and don’t hold me to it) I might use a posh skein or two of wool and knit another sort of cowl. I think I’ve come round to them after wearing the Mira cowl a lot this year. I’ve always preferred wrapping scarves as tightly or as loosely as preferred, but this has been very cosy and you don’t have so much of it stuffed down the front of your coat! Hey-ho, hey-ho it’s off to Ravelry I go.

My friend has sort of lost her slouchy bobble hat (there’s obviously a story there) so I might be hooking one of those again, for her birthday in April. If only she knew someone with a fishing rod, who’s a dab hand at casting, I’m positive she could retrieve hers…

It’s Day 1 of the New Year, where normal non-festive life has resumed and no alcohol, mince pies, chocolate or twiglets have been consumed. I do fancy a hot chocolate though, that’s surely alright? It’s COLD out there.

Happy New Year!


My very favourite Christmas window from Fortnum & Mason, Piccadily, London.

I hope you’ve had a lovely, restful Christmas and are looking forward to this brand new year. I’ve had a super week and have really enjoyed catching up with family. I had a streaming cold on 25th, but fortunately it only hung around a few days afterwards and didn’t really spoil the celebrations. 

Ornamental cabbages and rosemary in Brown Hart Gardens, Duke Street, London.

I picked up what looks like a very good novel from the Bookstop. It was perfect timing as I wanted something to read while we had a pit-stop in the nearby pub. I’ll leave a book there next time I’m passing.

 I gave up chocolate mid-November until Christmas Day. I’m odd I know, but I liked the test of will-power and the sweet (!) anticipation of knowing in 5 weeks I would enjoy it again. Now I think I can say I’ve definitely eaten enough to make up for it! Today it’s a bank holiday here, so Christmas has continued now we’re back at home; with a few chocolates, a G&T and some roasted macadamia nuts along with the last Harry Potter film (he’s walking at ‘Kings Cross station’ with Dumbledore as I type…) But all good things must end, so tomorrow it’s back to healthier eating and I’ll be joining in with dry January until February 3rd. I shall pick up my crochet hook once more to add some rows to my ripple blanket and I’ll also do a traditional gallery post, showing what I made in 2016.

Are you on to healthy living in full force, or prolonging the celebrations a bit today too? Have you deChristmassed your home, or do you wait until twelfth night? Mine is still full of cards, candles, holly and decorations. I might remove a few things bit by bit as the week goes on, but not entirely until the fifth. I hope your first week of this brand new year is good.

Christmas time

My friend and I had a super Christmas meet up at Cliveden on Saturday, it was our third annual Christmas walk there and probably the most wintery. Can you see how we walked into the fog in the Long Garden? 

Each year there’s a trail to follow and this year it was pantomime theme. Last year it was based around The Twelve Days of Christmas, but these have not beaten the first year when we had to find bunches of carrots, left for Rudolph, hanging from trees and bushes. I can’t even say why as that year it was pretty basic, but it made us laugh a lot (apart from when I grew petulant that an enthusiastic 3 year old, running ahead of us, kept finding the carrots before we could!) 

We walked a good 5 miles in all, so it seems my physio’s brutal vigorous sports massages on my sore knee and my conscientious daily stretches are having a positive effect, after weeks of pain and boring inactivity. Walking through fog is weird; by the end we were decidedly damp haired and rosy cheeked for lunch in the Orangery. 

 

On Sunday we went with Mum to find Christmas trees, she found one she wanted immediately and hared off to buy it, before anyone else took a liking to it. We didn’t have the same love at first sight with any, so will try again another day. I’ve stuck to family tradition of only decorating a week at most, before Christmas Eve. To be fair this was the same for pretty much everyone here when I was growing up, until people started copying the American thing of decorating early, as many seem to after Thanksgiving. Are you American? Is that a relatively new tradition?  If Christmas lasted the whole of December I’d be truly sick of it by 25th, and the size of the shepherds hut above. This way we enjoy the anticipation and it’s not overkill. I have to say that as I write this I am so looking forward to making mulled wine, brandy butter and mince pies! Did someone mention Twiglets? Cadbury Roses?!

How are your plans coming along? Are you a month long celebrator, or less?

Do Some Crochet!

…And that is what pops up on my iPhone every day, reminding me to add a row or two, and do you know what? The blanket is growing! Shock horror hey. I’ve reminded myself how relaxing it is to listen to an audio book or radio play/comedy or music doc while crocheting along. 

I’m still listening to The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch, it’s gooood. One day I flicked over to something on tv and jumped with recognition – it was the smooth (and sexy) voice of the narrator Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, though of course I didn’t recognise his face at all. 

Joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along again. 

Squares & Stripes

….is all finished and now I’m continuing my mission to finish my ripple. I’m thinking of taking it to the pub meet up tomorrow night, though I’ll probably swelter beneath it! I’ll see what the weather’s like, as today it’s gone up to a very mild 11 degrees.


As for reading: after a long patient wait the audio version of The Hanging Tree was finally released. This is the sixth book in the series by Ben Aaronovitch. What I really like is that real London buildings and streets are settings for the stories. This one features a building in Knightsbridge that I’ve had my eye on for spending some of my (future, massive) lottery win.

Joining with Ginny and the other Yarn Alongers again. 

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