Finally 

No…surely not…actual crochet has been done? 

Yep. It’s all true. 

The temperature dropped to 21 degrees on Monday and my sticky hot little hands, were less sticky and hot.

I’ve dithered a bit, but as you see have just done a simple foundation round of doubles. I need to check out other hexagon blankets and see what I think about straightening the edges, or not.

Yesterday morning I popped into the library to take a book back quietly chanting under my breath: “Don’t take any books today, read the ones you have.” But then I stumbled across this Tracy Chevalier that’s been on my wishlist for ages and I found The Three Weissmanns of Westport. The blurb alone made me smile in a wry way. Ah well – the paperbacks and few Kindle books I already have won’t disappear if they wait another week or two. It’s good to use your local library.

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

Upton House & Garden 

Well hello! I know, it’s been a while… I never really do much crochet or knitting during the summer, but this year I haven’t sewn yet either. I thought you might be interested to see somewhere I recently visited and found fascinating. I admit there are a lot of typewriter photos, I just loved them!

Upton House and Gardens in Warwickshire, is a National Trust Property with a current exhibition called: Banking for Victory. It once belonged to Lord Bearstead, whose father founded Shell Oil. (More information here.) In 1939 the family moved out of the house and the family bank relocated from London, for the duration of the Second World War. Mary Berry opened this exhibition last Autumn. I finally got around to visiting earlier this month.

This is the film tent with a little introductory film to the exhibition…      



The exhibition is superb. The great thing is that the NT do not want you to treat it as a museum, you are actively encouraged to open drawers, sit on chairs and sofas and basically be the nosy Parker that I you always want to be, but feel you can’t in most NT properties. Needless to say I sat and typed a paragraph at one of the typewriters, what no spell check? I opened some filing cabinets, rifled through the in/out trays and read some correspondence, read some Wartime newspapers and sat in the Bank Manger’s chair!

The attention to detail in the house is fantastic. For example: there are toothbrushes and hairbrushes in the dormitories, and much more, open magazines and knitting which seem to have been put down for a minute in the staff room, postcards displayed from local villages and towns and maps of cycle routes.

The bank staff left families and friends in London to live and work at Upton. It seems that they had a ‘good war’ living in the relative safety of the countryside, but lived with guilt knowing their loved ones were in danger and suffering in the war-torn city.

This doesn’t seem too much of a stretch to me, but different times perhaps?!

Knitting! I found knitting!

The project is something you can become involved in, if you fancy. See here for details. You have until 30th September deadline if you want to send some bunting. What really impressed me, while I knitted a bunt (is this the singular of bunting?!) and chatted to one of the organisers is that at the end the finished triangles will be stitched together to make blankets for charity. What a great idea and a practical use of the knitting at the end. I often wonder what becomes of things after yarn bombs and record attempts. I didn’t take a pic of my knitting. I’m not sure why, but you really didn’t miss much!

Today was a return visit to Upton as it poured after the tour around the house, so the gardens had to wait. I’m glad actually as the herbaceous border is now stunning with all the sun we’re enjoying. It was a lovely hot day.

Are you crafty during the summer, or more like me?

Yarn Along 


I’ve been enjoying picking up my ripple again, it’s been a while since it had any attention. I’ve got 3 new crochet mags (see here)  and I think they might have kick started my crojo, as I hoped.  I’ve got one of those really annoying Summer viruses where it completely knocks the stuffing out of you. You expect them in the Winter and embrace soup, duvet days and crappy tv, but not when the sun shines. But an upside is wanting to do nothing more demanding than crochet a few rows of ripple. 

One more moan then I’ll hush: I really didn’t know what I fancied for dinner last night, the only thing I could think of was soup. So I took a lot of care to make a nice spicy lentil, tomato and bacon one. I used onion, celery, carrot and courgette as I figured lots of healthy veggies might help. Should I have bothered? Could I taste it? Nope. Not one bit. No whiff of taste or smell. I really could have just eaten oats and hot water.  (Horrid porridge!) 

Crochet and Glastonbury highlights are helping. I’m listening and sort of watching  Adele as I type this, she’s good – of course she’s good, it’s Adele – but Coldplay were amazing. 

Bookwise this week my custard brain just needs something easy and soothing; so I’ve been listening to A Breath of French Air, the second of the Pop Larkin series by H.E Bates. I really enjoyed listening to The Darling Buds of May recently, it has been years since I first read it. Philip Franks played Charlie in the tv series and he does a surprisingly good job of narrating, even the female characters. It’s one of several books I’ve got on the go, along with short stories and a couple of non-fiction books. 

I’m joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along once again. I really enjoy seeing what else others are reading, as much as what they’re making. Maybe even more. I can’t remember a time when I haven’t read. 

Mind Games & Lobsters

I did crochet some mini hexagons last night while sitting in the conservatory. Somehow I knew that writing about my lacking crojo, in yesterday’s blog post, would help. I made a few half hexies, counted how many more I needed – it was only 14! So did 5 more, before heading out for cheese and red wine. 

The hexies were too pretty to abandon, but I knew fairly early on that I was not going to continue with the planned hexie a day project. I reckon this was along with everyone else who started with a burst of enthusiasm around New Year’s Day 2015…! We all gradually realised that even with 365 hexagons you’d end up with a relatively tiny piece of fabric. I don’t really go for wooly cushions (apart from seeing this one on Instagram earlier. I’m loving the fishes so might be looking for the new Inside Crochet soon.)

This is my new audio book. I’m not far into it and it’s a very long one, but is already shaping up to be quite a gripping mystery. The  narrator is Robert Slade who did a superb job with Etta and Otto and Russell and James. When that was finished I actually felt bereft for a few days, it was partly the book but mostly I realised I was missing the narrator. Audible recommended Harry Q to me and when I realised it was Mr Slade, I clicked ‘buy’ immediately.

We went swimming again this morning. No more handstands, but there was lots of throwing, swimming and diving down for the locker key, then some actual diving off the pool edge into the deep end. I’d forgotten what a slap an area (technically two) can get if you don’t slide into the water like a knife going into butter…Ouch! 




St Ives was looking particularly pretty yesterday. It was good sitting on the quay watching the lobster fishing boat come into the harbour absolutely surrounded by gulls. We reckon they were throwing leftover bait overboard. My pictures didn’t come out well as I think the gulls were just flying around too fast; they look a whirly blur! The fisherman said the other day they caught a lobster weighing 3.5 kilos. I thought some of these were big, but that’s a monster.


I’m joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along but totally breaking the one photo rule today. Sorry Ginny.

Lately 


  • With a little help from my friend Trish, of Made by Patch blog, I’ve figured out how to crochet a half hexie so I can finally finish the little blanket off. Hurray! I’d worked it out apart from the beginning; where I was crocheting a chain of 4 and slip stitching them together. Ingeniously she chained 4, but then made the first stitch into the first chain made, making the other 3 into a treble – so no lumpy bumpy circle at the bottom in what should be a half. 
  • Cooking king prawn linguine – so delicious! You want to as well? Roast cherry tomatoes with a teaspoon of olive oil and a teaspoon or two of balsamic vinegar. While the linguine is cooking, gently cook the king prawns in another teaspoon of olive oil, some cloves of garlic and red chilli. Top with basil and a shaving of parmesan. What you can’t see is a hungry man with a slight frown on his face and his fork poised, while I make him wait to take a photograph of his dinner!
  • A gorgeous sunny, relaxed Friday with drinks and dinner at Samuel Jones Smoke & Ale House by the river Exe, in Exeter – thoroughly recommended 
  • A return, after about 14 years, to Lanhydrock a National Trust property, near Bodmin in Cornwall. It was just as good as we remembered and still one of the best houses; due to the sheer number of rooms to see. There’s an interesting focus on the upstairs-downstairs lives of the former inhabitants.

I’ve brought my hexies away with me, to deepest sunniest / rainiest Cornwall, but so far they’ve stayed zipped inside my Cath Kidson bag. I think it’s official: I’ve lost my crojo, or my crajo in general. I’m wondering if by putting this out there now it might mean I do some later?! But there are other things I AM doing: walking lots, as usual, visiting the gym to use some of the equipment, doing an Aqua Zumba class and rediscovering my swimming skills (used to be part of a swimming club.) As it was pouring yesterday morning we went to the local leisure centre to swim lengths, then played race and dive for the locker key and I even did a few handstands in the pool. I dread to think what the expression was on the faces of the young lifeguards! I don’t actually care. When I am old I shall wear purple…. (This poem.)

Maybe it’s a goner

A lovely online now offline friend (you know what I mean by that right?) Trish of Made by Patch blog recently won this book in a giveaway by Christine Perry aka Winwick Mum  with a bundle of other goodies, but as a newly minted sock knitter she had already bought a copy. So, she offered this one to me. What a lovely surprise!

I haven’t forgotten my 16 for 2016 list and am still keen to try knitting a pair of socks, but do have a few reservations. I’m not worried about the knitting part, since I know from all the successful pairs I’ve seen posted on Social Media that Christine’s instructions are fabulous. I think you’d have to have a brain of custard to fail. (Watch this space…) It’s whether I would actually wear handmade knitted socks. I don’t think I would out with boots and shoes; they just seem like they’d be too thick. But I can envision myself pulling them on in the chilly evenings to wear at home. Would they become very fluffy walking about on carpets? I already seem to spending quite a bit of time picking up massive bobbles of woollen sock fluff…but that’s another subject, ha! Am I going to get even more electric shocks, the sock yarns seen to have a fairly high nylon count. I already jump and squeal a lot of the time. When I’m in London some days I get a shock every time I touch a handrail. I’ll just have to knit a pair, try them and get back to you.

I was intending to make a cowl from this library bookimg_2857

but the one cable stitch forward or behind was really annoying. It’s me I know, I like knitting but only if it’s not too tedious, but either that one stitch just kept slipping off the cable needle or the whole process felt clunky. If I tried the dropping the stitch method, without using a cable needle, I worried that it was then twisted. Life’s too short and I decided that if I don’t enjoy making something, I stop. Why waste time on something that’s not fun? It’s not as if it was a vital cowl; I have a basket full of them and scarves. For the last few winters they haven’t really been worn. I really miss our heavy white frosts and icy mornings. The winters are noticeably warmer, with wetter milder weather.

If you have an alternative pattern suggestion for a 90 stitch cowl using 6mm needles with a 3-2 rib already complete, please comment below. I won’t frog the knitting for a few days, then it’s a goner!

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

Taking Stock in May

The buttercups have just opened on the meadow, isn’t it glorious? I spotted a pair of swans with their signets

Making : cooked breakfast on Sunday morning

Cooking : cheese scones, not often but when I do mmmmmm

Drinking : Gin and tonic

Reading : The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin

Wanting : to try knitting socks 
soon

Looking : at all the pretty lacy cow parsley that’s appeared on verges

Lilac flower – oh the smell!

In the bluebell woods with Mum on our annual visit, no deer this time!

Playing : Words with Friends, improving

Deciding :to finish the baby hexagons this week

Wishing : for half hexagon instructions in exactly the same pattern, no brain required

Enjoying : the sunshine

Waiting : for the weekend – the seaside here I come!

Liking : cantaloupe melon

Wondering : what to sew

Windsor. The Rumworth Morris (dancers) of Bolton

Loving : the birdsong

Pondering : the benefits of gym versus no gym

Considering : buying sock knitting needles

Buying: sushi for lunch often lately

Watching : Agent Carter, it’s fun

Hoping : for good Bank Holiday weekend weather

Marvelling : at how fast the birds are emptying the seed feeders

Cringing : at nothing this moment

Needing : the pool timetable, it’s a Google away

Questioning : nothing right now, unusually

Windsor castle and The River Thames

Smelling: my tomato plants

Wearing : shorts at home

Following : BeachHutCook on Instagram

Notcing : trends in recipes

Knowing : we’ve nearly run out of bird seed

Thinking : we’re making it easy for the starlings, nesting nearby, to feed their noisy young

Admiring : some photography on IG

Sorting : things for Ebay

Getting : irritated at bone crunching

Eton Dorney Olympic rowing lake

Bookmarking : recipes and patterns

Coveting : nothing apart from: a beach house, a luxury apartment in London and a round the world first class plane ticket

Disliking : the BREXIT / staying media drama

Opening : rice/couscous/bulghar wheat/ sugar packets which explode over everything

Giggling : at Peter Kay’s Comedy Shuffle

Feeling : annoyed at my seasonal achey knees, why do they do this?!

Snacking : trying mini Babybel Light cheeses

Helping : elderly people by picking up dropped things. Sounds odd? Look out and you’ll see it happens a lot in shops

Hearing : an aeroplane high above, a dog barking, the clicking of mouse

The Taking Stock template is from the marvellous Pip.

Progress 


Well it is progress, although very very slow!

In between putting the sock down and nearly admitting defeat I darned about 3 ends of the baby hexagon piece. And that was the sum total of my crafting for the last week. Do you also sometimes find that a setback can put you off doing anything at all, until you figure out what to do?

Instead of doing a tension check, stupidly being a bit lazy to, I upped to a 4mm hook instead of 3.5mm at the start. I always find my tension comes out tighter than required when I do check it. Yesterday I realised that if the foot fits perfectly then that suggests the tension is right, but halfway through crocheting the gusset the sock was huge on my foot. So I undid what I’d crocheted to the end of the heel piece, counted my stitches three times and went with my hunch. I swopped to a 3.5mm hook and all is well. It was obviously me and not Vicki’s pattern at fault.

Rather than frog the sock and use the yarn for my first pair of knitted socks I picked it up again and I’m glad I did. It’s the first time I’ve tried crochet socks and I want to crack it, plus I feel my honour as a pattern tester is at stake. Saying that I’ve probably already failed as I didn’t check my tension, but it’s been a very good lesson. I’ve ‘helpfully’ been reminded that this is only one sock, so I’ll need to make a second unless I want to hop. Grrr! There are a few other progress photos, including the ridiculously long one on IG if you want to see them.

I’m joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along once again. This is a library book I grabbed on impulse, I had taken a friend to change her books and saw it on the Quick Choice display just inside the door. It’s one I’ve heard good things about, so I had to take it. By page 53 I’d laughed and cried so much so that I recommended it to my sister in law for her book club. It’s really funny, so far, in a gut wrenching kind of way. If you like the Irish humour of Roddy Doyle’s books you’ll enjoy The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes.

A First


I’ve never crocheted socks before, to be honest I’ve never knitted any either. When designer Vicki Brown put out a call for pattern testers for her new sock designs, I was there like a shot. I really fancy trying new things this year.

I bought a ball of King Cole Zig Zag 4 ply, it’s suitable for socks according to the label. Last night I started the Fallen Leaves design. It’s slow going because it’s crochet’s equivalent of moss stitch, with alternate htr and ss, but the toe looks good so far.

I haven’t done a tension test, but knowing my work is usually on the smaller side when I do; I just decided to increase the hook size automatically. I’m using a 4mm. It fits my toes fine so far…

Isn’t the yarn perfect for the design name? The colours are exactly how they look on the yarn ball here, but oddly my crochet looks much brighter.

I’m joining in with  Ginny’s Yarn Along again this week. The Complete Uncle Silas Stories by H.E Bates are a delight. If you’ve never come across Silas before then I thoroughly recommend him. In a nutshell: he’s an elderly gent, living in the rural countryside of Northamptionshire and is what people would call a ‘character’. Silas is aged around 95 in lots of the stories and always working in his garden, or at some other pursuit (he’s working at digging graves in Silas the Good.) He drinks a bottle of wine a day, often homemade Cowslip, eats very well and very much still likes the ladies. 

Cozy Cowl 


  img_2900-1

Happy May Day to you!

I’ve enjoyed making this cowl designed by Vickie Howell, which is featured in the book above. There’s nothing else I want to make from it but that’s the beauty of borrowing a library book; they’re free so there’s no feeling of obligation to get your money’s worth.

I feel a little as if my custard brain should have been able to figure how to make it all in one, with no sewing up, but I found making the ribbed border fiddly when slip stitching into the end of the main piece as I went. Having it dangling from the main body piece was just plain annoying too. So I went back to the instruction to make three separate pieces and sew them together. Whip stitching (we call this oversewing don’t we?) was novel as I usually choose to crochet everything together. Running out of yarn both times, halfway through the process wasn’t much fun. Isn’t there some useful tip about needing three times as much crochet yarn as you measure to the end of a row? Well, I figured sewing would take roughly double the quantity. Wrong!
To begin you crochet a fairly narrow v stitch body piece. Mine is 6″, each ribbed border piece is 2″ which adds up correctly to a  10″ cowl, though my swift tension check did not seem to correlate to the pattern at all. I’d anticipated needing to up-size my crochet hook so I’d already chosen to use a 6m, rather than 5.5mm and its worked out well, luckily. I probably need to learn to correctly check my tension, but when its 4.5 rows and 14 stitches etc it just seems far harder work to check than a pattern which states 10 x 10 = something easy like 10.

V Stitching into the front loops gives a pleasing texture when the piece is turned on its side. I like this pattern a lot, even with the slow putting together end stage and the cowl looks good on, only its not for me. I’m giving it to my friend as another birthday present, she’s going to wear in when she’s on her bike. It should keep her warm as the cowl is good and thick. I used the Red Heart Super Saver Worsted / Aran (Tea Leaf shade) which was sent to me from the USA for my Left Handed Crochet photographs for Red Heart Yarns blog. I thought this was a good use of some of the yarn. Now I’m on the look out for a really nicely coloured, soft wool blend Aran so I can make myself a Cozy Cowl too.

I’ve just had a sip of BrewDog’s ShipWreck beer which is 13.8%, matured in Speyside and Islay whisky casks, made with smoked agave. My lips and throat feel puckered from the inside out! I’m sticking with their IPA: Ace of Simcoe.


Just got this notification – 500 posts! How did that happen? That’s a lot of crochet isn’t it?!!

And here’s

what I’m not doing at the moment…
  Craft blogging is a weird thing. From time to time, basically every few years, I get a real feeling of how ridiculous it is; basically show and tell for adults. I can’t imagine my Granny photographing every new thing she crocheted, knitted, sewed or embroidered, even if Instagram had been invented back then. She would probably have shaken her head at the thought.

 I was just trying to take a pic of the ribbed border I’m crocheting for my Cozy Cowl. I was going to put it up IG, and say how satisfyingly fast it’s working up. As I was waving my iPad around I caught sight of the baby hexagons on the screen, as they’re down the side of the sofa. 
Maybe for variety we could each post one photo of something we’re not doing at the moment?! 

Spring Day and inspired by another Rachel

   
     

  
   
One walk – so many flowers, the air smells so sweet, the birds are singing their hearts out, the thwack of the cricket ball on the bat, warm 16 degree sunshine. England really does put on a beautiful Spring show.

Inspired by a talented friend who speed crocheted a cardi to wear to a wedding last Saturday, I borrowed Anna Wilkinson’s book from the library yesterday to check out the pattern. It sounds rather dodgy making part of an outfit for a wedding, but it looked so good on her; not dubiously homemade at all. She’s one stylish chick and just doesn’t seem to do naff. It must be the Art Degree, I always think people who are arty have a certain pizzazz. 

I’d forgotten how good a source of inspiration the library shelves can be, I’ve lost the habit of popping in to see what’s there. Reading The Little Shop of Happy Ever After by Jenny Colgan over the last few days has reminded me to use my local libraries. 

Want to see my haul? There’s so much I want to make now, after a bit of an uninspired time, visiting the library was a good move. 

  

  

 The question is can I crochet a cowl in an evening, tonight, to give to my friend tomorrow?  As well as drink G&T and a glass or two of white? 

 

Annabell’s

  I’m not completely sure about the wisdom of giving a newly minted 3 year old the means to garrotte her baby brother, but know that if there’s any danger her Mum will take away the crochet chain! It’s probably unnecessary, but as its included in the pattern I thought I’d better include it in case Baby Annabell’s head stretches the poncho.

You know I was surprised at not being overwhelmed with woolly patterns for Annabell? Well if you have the slightly, it has to be said, chipmunky looking American Girl doll then you’re in business. There are reams of pages of patterns for them on Pinterest and Ravelry.  Back to the baby hexagons. I’ve got to figure out how to crochet half hexagons, but how difficult can it be?

Baby Annabell’s clothes

 Yesterday I made a little tunic top and am halfway through a poncho. The poncho is so cute! The owner of the Baby Annabell will be 3 next week, and so I shall pop these into the post in the next few days. I just need to sew on a couple of buttons and darn the ends.

Doll’s clothes are fun, I’m finding. I’m not one for toy making, but clothes are satisfyingly fast and so cute. I did think Baby Annabell (36cm) clothes patterns would be leaping out at me, but it took quite a lot of searching on Pinterest and Ravelry. I didn’t want to design any myself and preferred to find freebies this time. I’ll take another photo when they’re both finished. Links to the patterns are here on my Ravelry project page.

Joining with Ginny’s Yarn Along: I finished listening to the last of the enjoyable The Kasmir Shawl last night, as I made the tunic. I’ve been alternating it with Moranthology, which had me laughing far too loudly on a plane last Friday (the bit about how Keith Richards cooks sausages. I’d had a double gin…)

The Woman in White is nearing the end. My Kindle reading speed reckons it’s another 1hr 20m but I’m determined to finish faster. I feel like I’ve been reading it for years. It is surprisingly funny and this is my favourite line of the book, so far, it’s at the end of a letter which has been delivered to our hero:

You can have no possible cause to complain of these precautions, seeing that they do not affect the information I here communicate, in consideration of the special indulgence which you have deserved at my hands. My hour for tea is half-past five, and my buttered toast waits for nobody.’ 

Good lady!

The Unnamed Ripple

 I’m picking this up every now and then, to add a row or so. It’s undemanding and relaxing crochet. I think this is why I like ripple blankets so much; they’re easy and there aren’t a crazy number of ends, like you get with multi-coloured motifs.  

To choose the colours I laid out a selection of swatches I’ve made up. I chose mainly greys, purples, blues, pinks and a couple of greens. I don’t follow rules or use a colour wheel; I just instinctively choose what I like and discard what doesn’t work. Sometimes advice about selecting colours can make it sound like a dry and humourless business, though I appreciate everyone’s approach will be different. 

The process took me about 3 minutes. I wondered about adding 2 other colours over the weekend, but have decided against them.  

Stylecraft Special DK:

1.plum

2.parma violet

3.emperor

4.grey

5.silver

6.sage

7.lavender

8.grape 

I still can’t think of the right name for this blanket. I’ve just asked for suggestions here and had “Benjamin”. Brian the V Stitch scarf was one thing, but this is not going to be called Benjamin! 

It’s not Mira’s Cowl, it’s mine!

I bought the yarn for my Mira’s Cowl at the end of September when I visited Yarndale. The other two skeins have yet to be used. But I think I have a plan for the blue 4 ply…

My wandering concentration issue was solved by buying stitch markers and from then on, magically, there were no missing sets of 2 stitches. So, they’re not simply for making knitting look pretty?!
I did decide against the ‘aggressive’ blocking advised at the end of the pattern. Although I chose to make the wider size cowl and it could be really long and loopy (see the pattern photo) I like the up, up chin warming properties of it when unstretched.

Because I knit and knit until I just had enough yarn left to cast off, it’s long enough for a giraffe. I put it on inside out and then double it over so the right side shows.

I found a stretchy decrease cast-off described here. It’s very easy and does exactly what it promises.

I just sat in the sun and single crocheted the seams together with a  3.5mm hook. As I’ve said before; if I can combine a bit of knitting with a bit of hooky then I’m very happy. Sewing up gets put off, funnily crocheting doesn’t! I’m typing this and still wearing my cowl. It’s so warm and snuggly as the yarn is 75% merino.

Next I’ve got to make myself do some more baby hexagons. It really is a bit like that, but I quite like doing them when I get going, especially if my audio book is on. I’m really into The Kashmir Shawl, I’m exactly halfway through now. I walked over 7 miles listening to it yesterday. I was so engrossed in the story that I didn’t even really mind when the ground turned into a quagmire. I ended up squelching home with completely brown trainers and socks. That must be the sign of a very good book…

 

Yarn Along

At the moment I’m on the last leg of my knitting as the Mira Cowl is almost finished. That’s really code for I’ve nearly run of yarn. But it’s good when the yarn makes the decision for you! At other times I’m enjoying picking up my new ripple to work on a row or three, though when my fingers become crampy I throw it back in the Seasalt bag, where it’s stored. I hadn’t realised until yesterday that I’d picked one which coordinates beautifully with this blanket. I’ll take a pic of it sometime. I’m still trying to think of a name for this ripple. Any suggestions?

It’s for a friend who likes purple and green. I felt a bit like a crochet desperado when I asked if she wanted one, but although I’d vowed this wasn’t going to turn into another year of blanket making, like the last, I was really missing having something easy I can do while I sort of watch TV. That reminds me: have you seen The Dressmaker? I had to put the ripple down on Sunday after I realised I was missing lots of detail, particularly the superb costumes. It’s a great film. You think it’s simply eccentric which has become rather conventional, then it turns to be quite darkly funny and goes off in an unexpected direction.

I’ve just started reading The Woman in White which I’d added on my Kindle, along with other free classics last year. Written in 1859 it’s a surprisingly good read. I’ve got to the second narrator’s account and am curious as to what will happen. I think we all trust the dog’s reaction to X though, don’t we?

I’m joining in with Ginny again.

Yarn Along

 The beginnings of a ripple are always good, at least once you’ve done the first fiddly row into the foundation chain. I like choosing the colours and enjoy the softness of the yarn when it’s used for ripples.  I did find I was a chain short at the end, so conjured one into thin air and will have to make sure the tail is darned and double darned. 

The book is one I picked up at the weekend. Very much of its time, it was published in the eighties, the stories are the perfect length for reading one every night. Last night’s featured a mirror and an antiques seller who is a Cockney and therefore must be able to easily dispose of a body…! The second story about the bus is interesting; but not at all PC.  

I’ve been trying to find a craft vlog I can regularly watch, but just can’t find one that suits. They’re simply far too long, filled with umms and ahhs and repetition. That’s not to say I could do any better, which is partly why I’m not going to try. But if there was a one like Caitlin Moran’s (two episodes so far) I’d be addicted. She was on the radio as I drove on Friday. She’s so funny and makes a lot of sense. (Water fountains! Hipsters! Trolling on social media.) I’ll be getting the book soon. Maybe even after I press ‘post’. 

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

Yarn Along 

  
Here’s the knitting I mentioned in my last post. The pattern is called Mira’s Cowl by Mira Cole. It’s free on Ravelry.

 I’m not sure I want to aggressively block it as per the instruction. By the end the most I’ll probably feel like doing is flinging it around my neck. Consistently good knitting is not my talent. For some reason I can crochet quite difficult stitch combinations and follow patterns without much of an issue, but knitting has always been another matter. This is despite being able to knit from childhood, as you know crochet came much, much later. Even this simple pattern of blocks of 2, 4, 8 or 16 stitches has been problematic. I keep finding whole sections where the stitches have mysteriously changed to knit where they should be purl, and vice versa, halfway up. I could blame it on the toenail bit of A Gathering Storm, but that wouldn’t be altogether truthful. I’m often rubbish at concentrating on my knitting. It’s a good thing that the wonderful Nicky Sutton displayed excellent graphics how to pick up, or alter stitches with a crochet hook on IG. It’s saved me undoing any rows. I quite like the opportunity to use a little 3mm hook on my knitting. I know that’s probably not the attitude, but at least it works!

I’m about to start my next audio book: The Kasmir Shawl. I like to leave a day or more between them, just to let the memory of the last fade a bit. Do you do this too? I used to read lots of Rosie Thomas’s books, but it’s years since the last. I hope this is good. It’s set in 1939 and a young woman from rural Wales is moving to India with her husband, who has been posted there as a missionary. What could possibly go wrong?!

I’ve always got both an audio book and a printed or e-book on the go. Last night I read more of After You by JoJo Moyes while listening to an owl hoot in the trees.  The torrential rain and wind then put a stop to that delightful noise. I hope it managed to stay warm and dry.

I’m joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along

Spring has sprung 

  
  
  

  

  

   

 Daffodils, snowdrops, scilas, primroses, catkins, croci, cherry blossom and much more; it’s that lovely time of year again. As we walked yesterday Mum and I had a robin following us from ground to branch, to fallen log to a spindly bush. I wished I had some crumbs in my pocket. The weather is chilly but bright, and perfect for a good brisk walk. And then home to a bowl of homemade soup, a cheese scone and a chocolate topped cappuccino. 

I’ve been knitting like fury over the weekend, but I’ve ripped it out twice and turned a circular knitting pattern into a straight piece. I don’t mind sewing or crocheting a seam; but I do mind laddering appearing all around the knit, especially when my Google search states this only typically occurs above the join. It’s ok, it’s grown exponentially as I stayed up far too late to finish A Gathering Storm by Rachel Hore. I couldn’t leave the story where it was, the last hour and a quarter had to be heard. What next?

Very handy 

I’ve never managed to find out the name for this lovely textured stitch. If you recognise it please let me know. It’s one I used for a wash cloth ages ago and I thought it would make a good thickish pot holder.

Pot Holder

You’ll need to use 100% Cotton.I used DMC Natura DK with 4mm hook, I used roughly 30g, amounts will vary depending on your tension and size of your finished pot holder.

You could also use aran weight, or thicker, cotton with the appropriate hook.

My pot holder measures 6″ x 6 3/4″ / 15cm x 17 cm

All terms are for UK crochet stitches

FR: Chain 32

R1: 1 dc, 2 tr into the 2nd ch from the hook, miss 2 ch *work 1 dc, 2tr in next ch, miss 2 ch and rep from * across the row to the last 3 chs. Miss 2 chs, 1 dc in last ch. Turn

R2: Ch 1, 1 dc, 2 tr into 1st st, mis 2 st, *work 1 dc, 2 tr into next st, miss 2 st and rep from * across until the last 3 sts. Miss 2 sts, 1 dc into last st. Turn

Repeat R2 until piece is the desired length. (I did 24 rows.) Fasten off. Darn ends.

Repeat and make another piece exactly the same size, do not fasten off. Darn in the starting tail end. Put the two pieces together (wrong sides together.) Crochet them together working through all 4 loops as follows:

Edging:

R1: Work 2 dc into the same st as the last dc of your last row, also going through the 2 loops of the other piece too. Continue working along the edges of the cloths along the four sides, making 1-2 dcs into each stitch. Be consistent and do the same for both sides. I made 1 dc into each stitch on the top edge and at the sides, but 2 into the bottom stitches where the loop of the initial chains are wider.

Work 2 dc, 1 ch, 2 dc at the corners.

R2: Ch1, 1 dc into the 1st st, then make 1 dc into each stitch, chaining 18 (or the number you choose for the length of loop that suits) at the top left or right corner. Work 2 dc, 1 ch, 2 dc at the corners (increase the ch to 2 if you feel they look better or suit your tension, try it both ways and settle on one for all corners…) Secure the last ch with a ss into the 2nd dc corner stitch, make 1 dc into the same st, continue making 1 dc into each st around. Ss into the intial dc of the round.

R3: Ch1, 1 dc into the first st, then make 1 dc each stitch as before, 1 dc into each st of the ch loop and around. Ss to the 1st dc of the round. Fasten off and darn the ends neatly.

If you make a pot holder using this pattern please leave a link in the comments, I’d love to see yours.

(Saturday: I’ve just come across the stitch in The Harmony Guide to Crochet, it’s boringly called Sedge stitch II. Sedge stitch I is basically miss 2 ch, 1 dc, 1 htr, 1 tr and rep to the last 3 sts, 1dc in the last st.  That looks worth a try sometime.)

Yarn Along

This photo looks a bit funny somehow; the pot holder looks tiny and the book huge! Actually it is a big ole heavy hardback. Reading it is proving to be a bit of a challenge. I’ve got so used to propping my Kindle against the next pillow and just poking my finger out of the duvet to turn the page. Holding this monster is making my arms ache and they get cold! But I couldn’t turn down this book from my sister-in-law as we both loved Me Before You so much. This is the sequel. I believe Jojo Moyes had so many questions from readers about what happened to Lou, that there was immense pressure to write one. Lou must have been a character who stayed with her too.

Me Before You is the only audio book I’ve finished listening to and immediately started again. Even though I obviously knew all that would happen, I still sobbed so much I had to change my pillowcase at the end of the book. That was one traumatic story.

I finished the pot holder on Monday evening. I wanted another smaller one than these two, although I use them every day I like to have a little one at hand for saucepan lids. I’ll write up the pattern for another post.

 

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

 

Yarn Along 

  I’ve just started this audio book: A Gathering Storm by Rachel Hore. It’s one of my favourite kinds of stories; a family mystery, an old English Manor House and a picturesque Cornish seaside town. As well as crocheting to audio books I also love walking while listening. This morning I strode along in the lovely bright sunshine listening to the first few chapters. It’s a very promising start. I haven’t read anything by this author before and hopefully I’ll enjoy this book. I see she’s had quite a few books published; it’s good to find someone you like and read their back catalogue. 

Can you see that this baby hexagon piece is finally beginning to look rectangular? It’s proper fiddly and slow crochet. I’d definitely like to make hexagons again, but I won’t be joining them as I go again. I want the sides to lie neatly together, the way these look are still making me feel irritated. Larger hexies would make a more drapey fabric too.

My last audio book Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith (very good, I recommend it) has occupied me for lots of my crochet time recently. Near the end when the final twist was revealed I dropped yarn and hook and punched the air. I knew it! I knew. Kind of anyway…

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

Left handed crochet for Red Heart Yarn

At the end of last month I was contacted by Kathryn Vercillo of Crochet Concupiscence blog, asking if I would be interested in undertaking some paid photography work. I would need to illustrate how to crochet each step of the basic stitches as a left hander. These photos would be used in an article Kathryn was writing for the American company Red Heart Yarn. The only special requirement was that I use Red Heart yarn and a Susan Bates hook, but if I didn’t have those they could be sent. I wondered how things were going to go as the work needed to be emailed by the Tuesday, but we were to be away Friday to Monday. This meant there were only two working days for them to be delivered. Plus the weather’s track record at the beginning of February meant I might be trying to get the best photographs on a very grey day. I needn’t have worried; the yarn and hook were delivered by Fed Ex when we arrived home, and on Tuesday morning I awoke to bright sun.  

   I spent an enjoyable morning taking photographs of each step of the basic crochet stitches and writing notes in repsonse to Kathryn’s draft article. The article is now here on the Red Heart Yarn Heart Strings blog. 

And do you know what? I couldn’t think of any yarn or craft materials I need so I’ve saved my earnings. I must make more woolly things; so I have a yarn deficit when I visit Heather’s new shop (so excited for her!) next month with my crafty friend Rachel aka Mrs Pip.

  
 

Rhubarb Ripple re-edged 

  

  

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

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

Yarn Along

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

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

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

I’m joining in with Ginny again.

Valentine’s heart patches


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

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


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

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

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

Cast on 20 stitches

Moss stitch for 2 rows:

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

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

Stocking stitch with a moss stitch border for 8 rows

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

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

Repeat rows 3 & 4 6 more times.

Repeat rows 1 & 2 once

Cast off

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

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

Yarn Along

  

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

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

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


Joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along again.

Simple Stylish Knitting – review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A study conducted in an inpatient eating disorder unit found:

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

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

* 74 % found it relaxing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spice of Life Blanket II



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Starting chain: 195, stitch count 193

Yarn: Stylecraft Special DK

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

Weighs: 675g

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

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

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

 

Yarn Along 



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

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

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

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

Don’t they look teeny?


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

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

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

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

Yarn Along 

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

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

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

Allowed to knit again 

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

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

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

Yarn Along 

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

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

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

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

I’m joining in with Ginny again. 

16 for 2016

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

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

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

1: Re-edge my Rhubarb Ripple blanket properly

2: Learn how to tat lace.

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

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

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

4: Knit socks, or have a go

5: Dye some yarn

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

6: Use my sewing machine again.

7: Attend a workshop or class (any)

8: Join a Knit & Natter group for a session

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

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

image

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

12: Make another small cotton pot-holder

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

13: Embroider something again

14: Make up the finished X stitch things

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

16: Use up a good chunk of my yarn stash

It’s mostly leftovers from all those blankets.

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

Have a very happy New Year all.

 

2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yarn Along

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

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

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

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

Perfect

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

Yarn Along 


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

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

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

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

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

Taking Stock in December

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

Cooking: Lamb daube, purple sprouting and baked potatoes  

Drinking: Red wine 

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

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

Looking: Rosy 

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

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

Wishing: for another glass of red wine

  Enjoying: The anticipation of getting our tree 

Waiting: For presents!

   

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

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

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

Pondering: Whether I’d like to go to Space

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

   
 Buying: Glacé cherries, moisturiser and nuts 

Watching: The Breakfast Club, it’s good still

Hoping: Love Film have St Elmo’s Fire 

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

Needing: Some fresh air

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

 Smelling: Fragrant! (Clinique Elixir, darling) 

Wearing: My favourite chunky red cardie 

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

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

Knowing: I’m nearly all organised for Christmas 

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

Admiring: People’s knitwear 

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

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

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

Coveting: …Father Christmas knows!

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

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

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

Feeling: Healthy, positive and energetic 

Snacking: On chantenay carrots 

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

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

Yarn Along 

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

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

Yarn Along 

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

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

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

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

Spice of Life CAL blanket finished!

   

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

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

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

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

Part 5 – repeating some rows

Stacked Grannies: stone, clematis, raspberry, silver

Trebles: Storm blue

Big Zipper: parchment, denim 

Trebles: Parma violet

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

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

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

Trebles: parchment

Waves: storm blue, raspberry

Trebles: grey

Puffs: silver, lavender, clematis, stone

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

Grannies: sage, silver and repeat

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

My choice of repeats

Stacked Grannies: silver, grape and repeat 

Trebles: Parma violet x2

Big Zipper: clematis x2, parchment x2

Trebles: grape x2

Border: (design as written in the pattern) silver 

~~~~

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

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

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

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

Weight: 850g approx

~~~~

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

Yarn Along 

IMG_1907

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

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

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

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

 

Hitchhiker II now ready to travel

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

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

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

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

Taking Stock in November

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

Cooking : porridge for breakfast.

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

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

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

Lonely Wind Rustles

Needle Clicks Against

Another, Perfectly Timed

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

Enjoying: walking by the sea.

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

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

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

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

Wanting: to buy some loose Earl Grey tea.

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

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

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

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

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

Considering: what to make next..

Buying: NO MORE YARN!

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

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

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

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

Needing: nothing right now.

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

Smelling: my Cath Kidson rose perfume.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sorting: yarn into storage cubes.

Getting: ready to start thinking about Christmas present buying.

Bookmarking: fingerless mitt patterns.

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

Disliking: darning!

Opening: windows still, it’s so mild

Giggling: at Frasier (204 episodes recorded now.)

Feeling: extremely well.

Snacking: on a French Pink Lady apple earlier.

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

Hearing: Scenes from an Italian Restaurant by Billy Joel.

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

Bright lights 

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

   Selfridge’s, Oxford street

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

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

Now – an Autumn snapshot 

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

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

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

Taking Stock in October

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

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

Drinking : English breakfast tea, whatever the time of day

Reading: Diary of The Lady by Rachel Johnson

Wanting: to find back issues of The Lady magazine 

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

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

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

Wishing: I’d stuck to plan A today


Enjoying: cooking with apples and tomatoes from the garden

Waiting: for a parcel from China

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

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

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

Pondering: serious topics

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

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

Watching: the weather change

Hoping: to see more starling murmurations

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

Needing: some autumn/winter outfits

Questioning: why? Lots, as usual

Smelling: my lovely freesias

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

Following: witty people

Noticing: how much cooler it is in the evenings

Knowing: it’s time to eat something

Thinking: of appley puddlings

Admiring: colours in nature

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

Bookmarking: patterns, always

Coveting: a Thames riverside apartment

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

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

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

Feeling: cheerful

Snacking: on a variety of apple which taste of pears

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

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

Spice of Life CAL part 4

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

My colours:

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

Trebles: grey, silver 

Tulips: sage x2, clematis, stone

Trebles: raspberry x2

Waves: Parma violet, lavender, grey

Puffs: Storm blue, grape, denim, sage

Trebles: silver, grape x2, parchment  

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

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

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

Spice of Life CAL part 3

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

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

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

Stacked Grannies: storm blue, parchment and repeat once again

Trebles: grape x2

Big Zipper: parma violet x2, grey x2

Trebles: denim x2

Stacked Shells: silver, stone, sage, clematis

Trebles:parma violet, lavender    

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

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

Star ripple II


  

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

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

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

Yarndale 2015 (again!)

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

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

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

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

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

Yarndale 2015

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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So familiar from Lucy’s blog, it’s a treat to see them once again in ‘real life’.
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And there we are – my Yarndale experience. Or is it? Might there be more? Watch this space tomorrow…!

Spice of Life CAL part 2

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

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

 
I chose my own yarn colours. To recap: 

from the top, left to right

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

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

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

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

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

 Trebles 

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

Grannies

1 Lavender 2 Grape 3 Lavender 4 Grape 5 Lavender 

Trebles 

6 Stone 7 Raspberry 8 Silver 

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

Are you doing the Spice of Life CAL too?

The Hitchhiker is ready to travel

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

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

Taking Stock in September

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

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

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

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

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

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

12 Pointed Star Ripple Blanket…finished!

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

The Stylecraft Special DK colours I’ve used are:

Lime, Parchment, Petrol, Grey and Claret

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

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

Spice of Life CAL 

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

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

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

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

I chose my own colour combination for the blanket 

 
In order from the top, left to right:

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

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

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

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

Gunby Hall & Gardens 

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

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

Something old (fashioned) & something new 


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

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

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


Pretty pink 


  
   Last night’s IG progress pic 

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

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

Pretty useful 

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

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

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

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

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

Guess what I’m making now? 

Hidcote, again 

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

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

Small things 

   

  

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

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

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

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

William Morris inspired motif blanket …..Finished!

   



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

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

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

Yarn: Stylecraft Special DK

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

Hook: 4mm for the motifs and JAYGO rounds

3.5mm for the border

Length: 5′ 7″ / 67″

Width: 3′ 5″ / 41″

Weight: 1,422kg

Motif: my own design as follows…

UK terms

FR: Ch6, ss to join into circle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Showing the back of the border

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

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

And now I’m crocheting a very small thing…

I’m singing, loudly

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

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

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

Nearly there!

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

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

    
 

A summer weekend 

   
    
     

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

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

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

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

 

With a little help from my friend 

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

Argh!

Rachel immediately sent me a pic of her blanket showing a JAYGO join and border, with instructions for a fab little solution. She had seen this on a blog ages ago and mentally filed the technique away. So, when having similar problems with her border she remembered what to do: treble one stitch on the left hand side of the join, then treble two together – with a treble placed on each side of the JAYGO join – then make a final treble. This leaves only 3 stitches for the next round, but is wide enough to straddle the seam without being too tight. Can you see mine in the photo above?

Very clever isn’t it? 

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

Iced tea 

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

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

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

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

Summer Snapshot

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bright Stripy Blanket….finished 

            

Bright Stripy Baby blanket 

Stylecraft Special DK: Lime Petrol Emperor Raspberry Silver Pale Rose

4mm hook

Starting chain: 148 + 3 (148 trebles)

Stitches: doubles, trebles, half trebles

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

Dimensions: 38″ W  40″ L

Weight: 544g

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

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

The last two ends 

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

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

What are you up to at the moment?

Hitchhiker progress 

      

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

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

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

Fruit smoothie 

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

Fruit Smoothie 

Serves 1 

50g frozen raspberries

1 banana 

1 175g strawberry muller light yoghurt

150ml skimmed milk

Put all in a blender and whizz until smooth.

—-

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

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

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

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

A little walk

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

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

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

Have you had a good weekend?

Yep: I’m knitting a Hitchhiker too

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

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

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

What are you up to at the moment?

Mock Cable Wristies 

All sewn up and ready to wear  for Autumn.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Still not knitting 

…instead of darning ends, ends and more ends! 

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

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

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

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

     

What are you up to? 

Definitely not knitting 

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

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

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

What are you definitely not doing? 

In the bluebell wood

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

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

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

Progress being made

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

And also in these chillier evenings some more bright striping…

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

What does this (bank holiday) weekend offer?

Springtime at Cliveden 

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

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

What’s the weather like where you are?

Bright stripes

       I’m crocheting another stripy baby blanket for a friend, after seeing how much she’s still using the Baby Jewel Blanket for her soon to be two year old. I’ve spotted it in her photos while visiting to Australia, saw it in use in Leeds and a couple of weeks ago it was covering a sleeping toddler in Paris. That blanket is gathering air and train miles!  I can’t tell you how much its made me smile to see it being so well used. It also reassured me that my scant research on how big a baby blanket should be was worth it. To have any longer term use I decided there’s really no point giving a handkerchief sized square, which will only be good when they’re teeny tiny.

I didn’t want the new baby – due in June – to feel left out and so gathered up my balls of Stylecraft. My friend likes bright, is still all for colour equality and is very happy to have another striped blanket. I’m loving zipping along, doing a mixture of trebles, half trebles and the occasional row of double crochet.

My current audio books are Various Pets Alive and Dead by Marina Lewycka and The Life of Lee by Lee Evans.
What are you reading /listening to at the moment?
  IMG_0554

Glorious Spring sunshine

A long weekend by the sea, in glorious sunshine…  Sun, sea and ice-cream. The first of many this year, I hope. This was Friday at Bognor Regis after a good walk along the prom. It’s lemon meringue flavour; and had fizzy crunchy little meringue pieces mixed into the tangy lemon. I’m looking out for this again!  West Wittering has a beautiful sandy expanse of beach. On Saturday lunchtime it was full of happy dogs playing, kite surfers, kite flying families, horses galloping along the beach and walkers striding out in the sun. It was t-shirt weather again, woo hoo! Apart from watching others enjoying the beach, stopping to examine interesting looking pebbles (I have one with a fossil) and look for sea glass, we played ‘which one would you like’ as we passed beach houses. I like the chalet style on the right. What about you?   We’d walked 5 miles along the shore, not easy going on pebbles towards the end. We walked on sand some of the way, but the tide was coming in fast and covering it as we got to East Wittering and Bracklesham Bay. We stopped at the Medmerry Holiday village, which fortunately had a very comfortable pub. This gate made me smile as we walked back to the beach after lager shandy, crisps and a well needed pit-stop. (You know that feeling of relief girls?!)  How’s that for driftwood?  Although I had a rule that I wouldn’t start any new crochet until I’d finished the motif blanket, my fingers felt sooo itchy to do something. It feels like weeks! I packed my basket full of new yarn, but with the great weather for walking I didn’t open it at all the whole weekend. Evenings were for wine, a little chocolate, reading or a film. On Sunday we visited Uppark House and Garden. It’s become a tradition to seek out a new National Trust property on the last day of a holiday or mini-break. It’s perfect for a good wander inside and out in lovely surroundings, a drink and snack, then a good mooch in the gift-shop.

Do you remember my Wool Money post? I still don’t look at odds, history or jockeys or trainers, it’s completely randomly based on the horses’ names. As I sat on a picnic bench back at West Wittering on Saturday evening I checked the Grand National results, with the last 1% of my iphone battery. I leapt into the air and looked everywhere for the Mr. I probably looked like a mere-cat on sentry duty. One of mine had WON! Last year’s joint membership to the National Trust was funded by his lottery win, this year’s renewal is thanks to Many Clouds.    I had low expectations for the scent garden at Uppark, this early in the year, but wow! The scent from so many hyacinths was stunning. Unfortunately my nose and eyes ran for the rest of the day! Oh well, we’re heading to hay fever season. I’ve just checked my anti-histamine supplies and typically all are out of date. There’s obviously good business in the hay fever relief industry.
  Aren’t these fritillieries beauties?  I did start some new crochet (tut, tut) when home. It’s bright and sunny again today; so I’ll nip into the garden later to try to take some decent photos for you.

What are you up to?

Nearly there

  My William Morris inspired motif blanket has been keeping me occupied during the evenings this week. I’ve crocheted a jaygo row each sitting and when I realised I’d done the last row I felt jubilant. This has not been a swift make with all those ends to darn, plus the fact that I designed my own motifs after making a quarter of the original blanket.   Next I need to darn in two ends of yarn for every block then steam block it in sections to get it to relax and motifs to line up. Lastly it needs a border.  I’ve planned the overall size to be roughly 6′ by 4′ so it can be a good sized blanket to snuggle in, but also for the intended use of going at the end of a double bed. It coordinates with a pair of William Morris design curtains; which explains the colour scheme and its name. 

I look forward to wrapping it up in Christmas paper (“Think of it as delayed gratification” I shall say) and presenting it to the person who asked me to make a replacement blanket for the now slightly moth eaten one her Grandmother (my Great-Grandmother) crocheted for her when she was a teen, who chose the colours and who has (mostly) waited patiently for its completion. 

 I might get an Easter egg after all. 

All At Sea Shawl II: blocked, lacy & ready to wear

 For years I’ve read about people blocking their crochet and knitting. They rhapsodise about how lacy it becomes, because it really opens up the stitches. From the way people write you would think blocking almost transforms things into mystical items.
I have never felt the need to do anything, apart from perhaps a quick steam block.  Recently I felt quite adventurous leaving the Catherine Stitch Dolls’ blanket pinned out on the ironing board to thoroughly dry! But I could see that the thin mystery yarn of the All at Sea Shawl was going to need something a bit more professional to unscunch it into maybe a thing of lacy beauty.

 Foam mats from The Early Learning Centre are, I was told by my crochet blocking guru, a good alternative to overpriced craft blocking boards. On reflection those purpose made with lines and measurements on them might be preferable, but my plain mats did the job well enough. It is actually quite enjoyable pinning and stretching the crochet, I was quite surprised how much I liked it. My knees weren’t so happy, but that’s too bad! Look how much it has opened out the stitches? I’m so pleased. Oops! A huge gust of wind carried it off sideways. I didn’t realise I’d captured the moment on my camera until later. It’s been so windy here that I had to close the bedroom window because of the noise last night. I heard things in the garden being blown over and got up to peer out the window a few times, then decided enough was enough. Time to sleep and I’d right it all in the morning. It is a triangular shawl but this was the only way I could get it to stay in one place, even then it flapped up into my face several times. The severely pruned buddleia looks bare and deadwood-like, but it will come back and the flowers will be covered in butterflies again in the summer.

In summary: proper grown-up professional type blocking really does work, although it gets boring to read posts like this (!) and I did enjoy it. Also, the mystery yarn is wool, or partly at least, because it definitely had that wet sheep smell.

Make it, Wear it

See, no look of an egg cosy here, I thought it would look gorgeous on my friend. The slouchy beanie with pom pom is a success. It’s a Birthday present and definitely lives up to the book’s name: Hook, Stitch and Give. It’s all come out of the marvellous brain of Kat Goldin. No, I’m not being paid to promote. I’m simply a happy reader / maker.

We’ve just had a day out at Excel, London at the Stitching, Sewing & HobbyCraft show.

It was too hot during the morning, before the air con was turned on, crowded and overall we felt it was crammed into too small a space. I don’t think the Knitting & Stitch show at Olympia has any serious competition, but we had free tickets, so didn’t feel we lost anything. We probably won’t be going back though.

I took a few photos….

               Menai Bridge by Liesbeth Williams 

Horizons

Layers of the Anglesey landscape, the colours, lines, details and the ever present skyline inspired this quilt. Liesbeth overlaid sections of strips, highlighted by deliberately messy black stitching. The fabrics were hand-dyed, mono and screen printed, then painted. 

I love the colours of this quilt – as you can imagine, they look even better with the naked eye than in these photos. It’s also given me hope. Perhaps I could also overlay sections of strips and do ‘deliberately messy stitching’ with my sewing skills, that definitely seems doable!

Slouch & Bobble Hat: hooked, stitched & ready to give 

The great thing about crocheting this Kat Goldin pattern, from Hook, Stitch and Give, is that it gave me a chance to practice foundation treble crochet (FTC). I admit I looked around for a few online tutorials just to check I was doing it right. Once I was reassured that I needed to have two loops on my hook after going into the chain, it was plain sailing. Sometimes it’s the basics which I find myself double checking.

FTC is basically a way of making a chainless foundation row, you start out with only three chains on the hook but end up with a length of bouncy springy trebles. It’s magic I tell you! FTC is perfect for when you need a stretchy edge. I’m keeping my eyes open for something else which uses this method as it’s cool to try something new.

Because I was making this for a friend I wanted to make sure my tension was a-ok; easier said than done I discovered. The recommended 5mm hook gave me a swatch of 8cm across and 4 cm high…NOT 10cm square. Ok, so change to a 6mm. This swatch was close to 10cm across but still only 4cm high. I chatted to one of my hooky IG friends who has made a couple of these beanies and had exactly the same height issue. I’d love to know if you have the same should you make the same, in the interests of curiosity. I’m not sure how you can correct the height thing unless you change to DTR? In the end I decided to use a 5.5mm hook which gave exactly the right circumference for the starting rib for the brim. I decided to wing it height-wise as I had plenty of yarn.  I used Stylecraft Life Aran which is a wool blend (25% wool, 75% acrylic) in grey and fern. The wool content and texture of the yarn makes it pleasurable to use, aran weight works up so fast compared to DK.  Oh, well would you look at that! I’m tilting again! Hannah of Not Your Average Crochet blog said she liked the pattern so much she was using it for a cushion cover, but hers also tilted quite badly. I don’t think it matters at all for a hat, it just amuses me. It happens because you’re crocheting around and around in one direction.

(ETA:) I missed out the chain between the trebles; as a hooky friend said they made her hat too slouchy/wide. I tried the pattern as written and found the same, so also missed them out.

  I showed it to you pre-sewing up on my last post. Afterwards I decided to measure the height of the beanie. What a plonker….! To be anywhere near slouchy it needs to be much taller. I worked out I’d need to do 13 sets of the repeat rows, rather than the stated 8, then the crown decreases. Undoing really careful darning is painful. I just don’t quite know what happened as I had tried it on lots a few times and run off to check (tea cosy) in the mirror upstairs, but failed to spot it was normal beanie sized, not slouchy.  It’s nicely slouchy and a perfect 27cm now. “Do you think it’s ok? Will she like it?”

“Well if it doesn’t suit her, she can always stick a strap on it and use it as a bag.”

Five things

This looks like pizza doesn’t it? I gave Nigella’s crustless pizza a try at the weekend.  The recipe’s from her Kitchen book. It was revolting; basically cheesy Yorkshire pudding. I ate the topping and a bit of crispy edge then the food recycling bin had the rest. 

Here’s my version of the Slouch and Bobble hat from Kat Goldin’s Hook, Stitch and Give book, sans bobble because I’m getting round to sewing it up. Same old story hey. On me it looks like a tea cosy, but on my friend it will probably look gorgeous! Anyone relate?    I laughed aloud (20th C usage alive and kicking) yesterday to see that behind the garden centre/pick your own/farm shop/fishing lakes/carousel there are llamas in a small field, not the sheep (lambs?) I expected to see. Those llamas are getting everywhere these days! Hurray they sell smoked garlic; I’ve only bought it from the Isle of Wight Garlic Farm before. I love it though my fridge stinks for weeks. A few cloves were delicious in a chicken traybake I threw together last night. Like my fridge I also carried the garlic tang today but it was worth it. 

Five Happy Things type of posts, to be frank, can set my teeth on edge as they are sometimes very syrupy reading, they’re also not the most interesting. Do you remember when the 52 Weeks of Happy blog posts appeared last January? So many gave up writing them by May, if not sooner, because I think people found they were not very interesting to write either. I do enjoy ‘ randoms’ though as they give a bit of snapshot. If you fancy posting your own Five Things add a link below please, so then I can read yours. 

Yorkshire cowl …ready & warm

As you know I bought this yarn during my visit to Holmfirth last Monday. I’ve had my eye on it for ages as I just love the colours, especially the aqua blue and turquoise. As I wrote this title, following a discussion about farming, wool and the great wealth which came from wool in Yorkshire during decades gone by, it occurs to me that if this were one of those ‘big blogs’ there might be uproar from the wool purists. My Yorkshire cowl is made from 100% acrylic. It’s named because I crocheted it during a week there, and it’s always going to remind me of walks by the sea and the coastal path. The Storyboards site gives some information about the paths. Yorkshire Cowl

I chained until I was happy with the width (I hung it around my neck as I crocheted!) and then joined the chain to form a ring, no sewing up required!

James C. Brett Marble Chunky Yarn Shade MC44

I used 175g of the 200g ball

Width (circumference) 36″

Height 11″

6mm hook

>Chain until width desired, join into a ring making sure the chain is not twisted

>Crochet rounds of trebles or doubles or half trebles (UK terms)

Turning chains should be 1 for DC, 2 for HTR, 3 for TR, 5 for DTR. The turning chain for DC does not count as a stitch, all others do.

All doubles, trebles and half trebles go into the back loop of the stitch which creates nice ridges to the fabric.

>Crossed double trebles add a bit of texture and interest to the cowl: Chain 5, *miss a stitch and DTR into the next TR, DTR into the skipped TR* repeat from * to * . Make a single DTR into the last stitch, join with a SS to the top of the chain 5 from the beginning of the round.

Next time I might make the cowl slightly smaller in width, I think maybe 32-34″ but this is really warm and you can fold the excess at the front and tuck it under the rest. These are to show some the scrummy colours in the yarn. Some people are good at selfies, some are not; especially when in windswept Derbyshire visiting Hardwick Hall.

I took the photo below from the ruins of Hardwick Old Hall looking across to the New Hall. It’s ‘new’ as in built in the 16th Century. If you can visit both I recommend it, especially to see the Elizabethan embroidery and tapestries in the New Hall.What are you making at the moment?

So, what happened to the trout?

Whenever I’ve mentioned rainbow trout from time to time, Cathy of NanaCathydotcom has basically said “Mmmmm.” I’ve always kept this in mind, should we ever pass within a decent distance of each other. The funny thing is that three weeks ago we did, in a market town in Wiltshire, though we didn’t know it at the time.

As we are currently in the same county I emailed Cathy and suggested we meet in Scarborough for coffee and Operation Trout.  You know when someone rings you and you find yourself instantly thinking “Oh, I like the sound of her!” Well that was exactly it.

We met at the top of the multi-storey car park, probably looking slightly suspicious as we transferred a wrapped parcel from one cold bag into another, then we all went to Bonnets cafe for coffee and a good chat. It was fun to recognise Mr E’s hand knitted jumper, this must be  is a nerdy blogger thing.

After a bit the guys went off to do their own thing and we headed to the market to peruse the button stall and to Boyes, a local chain of department stores. I’ve always got my dishcloth cotton from Boyes, they also sell quite a good choice of wool blends and acrylics. It’s not top end yarn, but there’s always a ball or two you fancy...

IMG_5160I need the Walnut for the motif blanket and the Claret is just gorgeous, the shade is deeper and yummier than it looks here. The cotton is a present.

Later the Mister and I had a good walk along the beach, then bought a dozen crevettes from the quayside fishmongers to take home for dinner. And that was another good day.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ummm I’ve *cough cough* bought some more yarn from the Bridlington Boyes today, with the last of my lottery winnings. It’s for a hat for my friend. I might as well just show you now and then we can all go back to pretending I’m still on a yarn diet.

Walmington on Sea

Today we parked at Bridlington’s North Beach and walked along looking for sea glass. We had a little bag of mostly green pieces by the end, but unusually I’d found zero! My sea glass spotting skills seem to have deserted me, mind you I’ve never thought my beanie would blow off before!

We decided to walk up to Bridlington Old Town after asking directions. When someone says it will take 15-20 minutes to walk, you often find it’s more like 10 as they’re drivers and it’s a guesstimate. This time she was definitely right, it might have even been 30, and it was uphill all the way.

What a nice old High Street, imagine it without cars and it’s perfect.

We knew that Dad’s Army has been filmed here recently, isn’t it perfect for the fictional Walmington on Sea High street? Look what’s been left…

For a fan of the oldie but goodie tv programmes this week is turning out to be a delight! But wait there’s more…

Initially I was horrified that they would remake such a classic but now after today’s sights, and hearing who is in the film I am looking forward to seeing it. The helpful lady also said there is a Facebook page with photos of the actors and the filming, if you’re interested.

After another day of lots of walking I’m going to carry on with some hooky now. I had a slow start this morning sitting in the sunshine…

Just look at those scrummy colours. It’s beautiful yarn isn’t it?

Yorkshire wins

On our way up to Yorkshire we met my cousin and family for Sunday lunch and she gave me this box of freshly laid eggs from her hens. Aren’t they pretty colours? The labelling on the box made me laugh. I think there might be a lucky rooster in the mansion!

On the way up I’d checked my emails and had that heart stopping email titled ‘We have news about your lottery ticket.’ It wasn’t a life changing amount, but £25 is good pocket money. I treated myself to a ball of Marble Chunky I’ve admired for ages because I love the colours, and the new Simply Crochet.

As a fan of Last of the Summer Wine I was delighted on Monday to see some of the haunts of Foggy, Compo and Clegg in Holmfirth, with Trish of Made by Patch. We’ve emailed and sent little packages to each other for over three years, since we began our blogs, so it was fab to finally meet.

 The weather was very wet and gusty, to say the least, so it was good to have lunch and drip dry after our mini tour. This is my ‘Dirty Burger’ from The Old Bridge pub, it was delicious. Obviously you’ll see I went for the healthy option!

We mooched around a few yarn shops and b