Edward’s Imaginarium Giveaway Winner

 

The winner of the giveaway is Emma F. Congratulations! I’ve sent an email requesting your details. 

I will be hosting another giveaway (UK) this week, for the chance to win something completely different. If you weren’t lucky this time, it might be your turn next.

Edward’s Imaginarium – book review

I’ve been lucky enough to be sent a copy of Kerry Lord’s Edward’s Imaginarium by Pavilion Books and am the last to take part in a blog tour for this amazing new book.  For other posts in the blog tour see: TOFT blog, Crafts from the Cwtch, Monty Knits, Crochetime,  and  The Twisted Yarn.


As you can see from the photo below; it’s a flip book which enables you to design your own monster, choosing from 24 different head, arm and leg patterns. There is a choice of tails too. The blurb states there are “Over a million easy-to-make monsters” I wondered if this might be an exaggeration, but got the resident mathematician on the case. It’s entirely possible if you take into account different colours, patterns, tails and other features.

A flip book of patterns is such an ingenious idea, really so simple that I am surprised the concept has not been replicated by other designers. I’m sure it will be! If making all those decisions is too stressful, or you just wanted to get started without delay, there are 40 ready picked monsters in the gallery section.For added inspiration and to see others’ creations go to #edsflipbook on Instagram.

There are 3 skill levels for each selection of patterns. This book would be suitable for someone who has mastered the basics of crochet, but not a complete newbie I would say. There are instructional help videos on the TOFT website.  It could also be used as a starting point for experienced crocheters; giving initial inspiration and ideas, but then you could really go to town adapting patterns and designing your own features. I could well imagine someone going on to make a whole wardrobe to dress their monster too. The possibilities are endless.

There are plenty of instruction pages including: stitch tutorials, the order of sewing up the parts, stuffing and sewing body parts (that sounds funny doesn’t it?!)

Kerry has written little bios for some of the gallery monsters. Here’s part of one: “If you’ve ever adventured into the forest alone on a summer’s day, stretching your legs and absentmindedly banging the odd tree trunk with a stick, it’s more than likely that someone very like Willow will have been watching you…..” This will really appeal to young children. You could ask a child to design a monster, perhaps drawing or painting  the kind of creature they imagine, then match it to patterns.

Edward’s Imaginarium was published last week as is currently on sale for £10.49 (UK) from Amazon  /from $9.97 (US) or £14.99 from TOFT  with bonus pdf patterns from Kerry Lord.

*A copy of the book was supplied by the publisher for my review. All opinions are mine and honest. Having looked through Edward’s Imaginarium I can wholeheartedly recommend it. There is a wealth of information and inspiration.*

A free copy is available for a UK reader as part of a giveaway. Hurray! I’ll use a random number generator to pick the winner, I’ll then contact you and pass your details to Pavilion Books. For a chance to be the lucky winner please leave a comment below. The giveaway is open now until Sunday 25th at noon (GMT).

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Cozy Cowl 


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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?!!

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? 

 

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?
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Zippidy do-dah

Well I never! Zippidy do-dah as in The Jungle Book Disney’s Song of the South (Never heard of it! Is it one to watch?) is actually spelt Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah! The things you find out when checking spelling. I’m sticking with my version.

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I wasn’t planning to write this down, but I actually though I was a bit off crochet. Maybe the huge enthusiasm I’d had for it over the last few years had died down, and that was ok.  But it turns out it was because I last bought a big batch of new yarn in Autumn 2012. Waste not want not, I’ve been using up left-overs, plus I’ve gradually been buying sewing materials. But the pleasure in taking off the bands of brand new yarn – 11 brand new balls of yarn! Using virgin yarn which hasn’t been unraveled, or wound into a smaller balls and put in an oddments bag and in new colours too is so enjoyable.

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I didn’t choose the colours for this project (apart from substituting the gorgeous new Spice for Jaffa, as I found out Jaffa is Nemo neon orange.) I just left my Stylecraft catalogue and picked it up with all the ticks under the shades, but the combination is pleasing. I particularly like the rich Walnut brown, the teddy bear Mocha, orange Spice and Matador red paired together. These have a rather retro, back to the 70s feel. Sometimes it feels as if brown is an outcast, with the current craze for Cath Kidson reds, pinks, pale greens and blues – I love them too. Brown isn’t a colour I gravate to usually, in yarn or clothes, but this palate is somewhat rich and earthy. It’s to coordinate with curtains of a William Morris design, and I’m really enjoying the new colours. I can’t find the WM design on Google images and didn’t think to photograph the curtains. I will next time I visit.

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Why Zippidy-do-dah? Because this is my progress from just two sittings. The first evening I started to crochet I ended up making 44 middles – 4 of each of the 11 colours. I do like the magic loop method. Then before I knew it I’d completed the second round of 22 of them. Last night I completed the second round of all but a few of the other 22. I’m making sure I use all the colours, but also ordered extra balls of camel, cream, silver and parchment so I can make extra motifs with just these to balance out the stronger colours. Matador type red only features a little in the curtain fabric, as the centre of some flowers, so although I’ve discovered I love it and Spice together I must be careful not to overwhelm the blanket.

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Did I mention the mmmm smell of a sackful of new yarn? There’s something new car-ish about it. Oh Wool Only purists please don’t shake your heads like that!

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Here are the colours listed from left to right, top row first, in case you’re feeling 70’s retro inspired (or have William Morris fabric!)
silver :: grey :: walnut :: copper :: spice :: mocha :: matador
parchment :: cream :: camel :: apricot::

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I’m hobbling now, with only a small lurch and can go upstairs slowly one foot at a time, not crawling or one foot, then the other per step. Hurrah! The Goldfinch Audio book has been great company – wow – I listened to 7 hours 43 minutes of it yesterday. Kudos to David Pittu for being about to narrate young and old, male and female voices so convincingly, accents too. It’s 32 hours long so 7:43 is a drop in the ocean. I’m glad because I’m enjoying it so much. AND How to Make an American Quilt is on the way via LoveFilm by post, my last DVD before my membership ends. It’s all looking up.

Stanley and the Hot Air Balloon

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Very exciting post has just arrived! It’s a preview copy of Kate’s (from Greedy for Colour) book: Stanley and the Hot Air Balloon.

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My Stanley ran around beside himself with excitement to see it. He acted out many of the parts of the story as he read all about himself. Very sweet story it is too. There are crochet patterns at the end of the book to create your own characters and the hot air balloon. It’s so clever and full of little touches like using particular colours and fonts for specific words throughout the book.

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Oooh! I love being mentioned in books. Thanks Kate. Very exciting, although I have to say I only played a tiny part, testing the Stanley pattern. He’s got to be the coolest crochet I’ve done.

Stanley and the Hot Air Balloon will be available to buy from July. See Kate’s blog for more details nearer the time.

Getting knitty, again

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The last week or so I’ve been whipping around my twelve huge Granny Squares in a bid to finish them and use up my leftovers of Stylecraft special DK. I’m rather bored with the same palate after a longtime using those colours and want to start afresh, which is exciting. The ironic thing is I can already see that I’m going to need to buy more to complete the blanket! My goal is to complete a square a day, they’re all at different stages and each needs to be twenty rounds. Sorry…I’m actually boring myself typing this detail! It’s more amusing to listen to the neighbour trying to coax his new (Christmas) dog out into the garden. The same dog that woke me up at 04:30 this morning barking to be let into the garden. Oh sheesh, dogs!

So last night to give my aching left thumb a crochet rest I started a new fast make from my new Christmas book, Cute and Easy Knitting (far superior to a barking present IMHO.)

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This is as far as I got last night. It’s looking glove shaped which must be a good thing.

I’m using Rowan tweed which is a new yarn, though I’ve seen it many times I’ve never crocheted or knitted it. Although wool is touted as best for all sorts of reasons, which is undoubtably true in many cases, what is rarely mentioned is that, besides being expensive, it can be damned scratchy. Rowan tweed looks gorgeous, it’s the real deal in that it feels like it’s really been spun rather than composed of plastic. As you knit it goes from thin to thick which makes it an interestingly tactile experience, but I have to say that I wouldn’t want to wear it. Unless as a hat or gloves. I feel the same about Noro, but to a more extreme degree – yes it’s lovely colours but I don’t want to touch it. Do you relate?

Are you trying anything new?

First make of 2014

I had no inclination to make anything over the Christmas week. No crochet, knitting, sewing, embroidery. Nada. Just much festive TV, iplayer radio progs and of course lots of catching up with family talking, eating, drinking and opening presents. A staggering amount of lovely things. I’m very, very lucky. Then yesterday I knitted this…

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It’s such a clever pattern, it looks like it might be complicated but is just one lot of 4 stitches slipped onto a cable in every 10 rows! The raised effect is created by purling into the back loop. Cute and easy!

If I knit another iPhone cozy I’d play with doubling the stitches and make it all in one piece, rather than two separate rectangles. It would cut the fiddly sewing up by half.

The reason I wanted this book (“Can you buy it for me for Christmas please?” to my lovely friend who brought her copy to show me on a weekend away in November. I bought her Sew! After she’d admired mine, so we like silly cool things swapped books we both own.) was not because I’m at the level of easy knitting patterns, really it’s the opposite. After growing up knitting, and sticking with, basic patterns I should have long ago gone on to intarsia and fair isle to challenge myself. But I wanted Cute & Easy Knitting by Fiona Goble because it’s packed with patterns for quick makes. In the last year I’ve had that wiggly restless knitting fingers feeling lots, but by the time I’ve gone through various back issues of magazines, looked on Ravelry, Pinterest and blogs the urge has gone, I’ve run out of time or I don’t have the amount of yarn called for in the pattern. There are so many things I want to knit in this book! They don’t need much yarn, are fast to make and should quickly scratch that knitting itch.

I’ve just looked and Fiona Goble does have a blog though it’s not up to date. Perhaps it’s a case of all the better to be designing more lovely things for people knit, rather than writing about it?

What are you beginning the year making?

More importantly are you on a health kick now, or starting on Monday???? I need to know. I’ve had a healthy breakfast but am contemplating the chocolate mountain, last mince pie and brandy butter and……

A very crafty Christmas

Between Christmas and New Year I inevitably find I drift around in a bit of a haze. Driving merrily along to go through a village on my way to sale shopping I came across this…

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20131227-153512.jpgI just forgot we’ve had a little a lot of rain this week. After taking these photos of what are usually fields I turned my car around and went another way as the road was blocked with flood water. If it does carry on as predicted the water on either side of the roads will not be contained within the fields and water meadows. I’m not thinking about how much water surrounds us.

I have obviously been a very good girl this year…

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Aren’t these the best kind of presents? So much to be busy with into the New Year, so much inspiration. I was also lucky to be given a Hobbycraft voucher and bought the fabric in their sale. A metre for £5 was too good to miss especially as the material feels pretty good quality. In fact I’m thinking I might get ahead and sew some gift bags for Christmas 2014! After finding bargain packs of 10 cards, 3 for £1, I’m having a forward thinking day. (I know, I know, I’m making you cringe right?!)

What was your favourite present? Have you been given crafty Christmas gifts too? I’d love to see what you’ve been given if you want to post a picture somewhere and put a link in the comments below.

Time to curl up and catch up with more Christmas tv and film now. Lebkuchen, chocolate and glass of port anyone? Don’t judge me.

I could spend hours here

Recently we stumbled across the kind of higgeldy piggeldy secondhand bookshop which seems to be a dying breed. As you enter there is a long wide corridor lined on both sides with shelves and shelves of contemporary fiction. If you were fond of a particular author it would probably be possible to read their entire work as there are so many books.
Towards the back of the shop there is a warren of rooms full of different genres of books and also an impressive collection of maps. There are stacks of books on the floor, boxes of books, shelves full and the occasional chair or stool where you can perch to browse. I absolutely love this shop and wish they were still to be found in every town like they used to be.

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This is an under the stairs alcove, full of Bibles and works of theology. Can you see the outer pages of the book to the right upon which the huge family Bible rests? That has two separate inscriptions to twin boys on the occasion of their 11th birthday from their ‘dear Mother.’ It’s dated 1879. These inscriptions gave me goosebumps. It’s only £5. I have little interest in the actual book, but felt sorely tempted to save it from being a prop on the bookshelf.

Another pocket sized Bible is inscribed to Florrie from her school and is dated 1934. I also wanted to save that too…
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Dictionary corner

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My favourite area (with bells on) is full of cookery books. This is really where I had to be dragged away by the arm when time was ticking and we needed to leave.

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I had to take a photo of this sign, what a brilliant name. Even better – behind me was a Farm Shop which is crammed full of fresh breads, meats, cakes and cheeses.

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Oooh and it was a special day with extra stalls outside, Somebody tasted some turkey, I had a warm cheese scone and then we went inside to work our way along the cheese counter testing every free sample. That was rounded off with lots of tastes of local beer.

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Hmmm what shall I buy? As my adapted Butterkist popcorn chant goes “Lardy cake, lardy cake rah, rah, rah!” Which would you have chosen…?

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I’ve lit our new Advent candle tonight and I don’t mind at all that I need to catch up on nine days burning – it’s making a lovely cosy warming glow. Perhaps mulled wine is called for too? It IS Christmas, sort of…

Yarn Along

20130731-120817.jpgYes! I’m knitting a deformed cat! It’s the stripy one you can just see on the book’s cover but mine’s obviously not stripy. I’ve been having some trouble with holey M1s (I grew up, like most, knitting into the front and back of a stitch, not fiddling about picking up strands) but think I’m getting betterish.

I saw the Cats and Kittens book at the library and though I don’t generally make toys I thought I’d have a try; as it’s a short and (hopefully) sweet make while I relearn how to knit using a new technique of holding the right-hand needle and wrapping the yarn. It’s going better than it was last week.

Queen Camilla centres around the Royal Family who have been living in an exclusion zone on the Flowers Estate for the last 13 years, along with other undesirables, due to the UK now being a republic. However a campaign is underway to bring in a New Conservative Government and reinstate the Royals. The big question amongst all the goings on is: will Camilla be Queen of the country, or stay Queen of Charles’ vegetable patch?

The (talking) dogs are really the stars of the book, along with Violet Toby who is the Queen’s next door neighbour. So far they all share the best lines. It’s all wicked satire.

I love Sue Townsend’s books. I’ve grown up with Adrian Mole and love The Queen and I which is similar to the above, they even share some characters and the location, but QC is a rewrite of sorts. If you wanted me to pick between the two for you I’d recommend The Queen and I, though I’m still only halfway through QC.

I’m joining in again with Ginny. What are you crocheting / knitting and reading at the moment?

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Yarn Along

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Despite lovely hot temps  – 28oc here at the moment woohoo! – I’m crocheting a thick ribbed scarf for winter. It’s unseasonable but I know I’ll really feel the benefit when the weather changes. Please god it’s not next week. I’m not ready. Hanging out the washing and having it dry in an hour, or less, is fab and I love the way it smells. Plus I’m enjoying feeling warm to the bone, eating salads, homemade burgers, cool leafy evening strolls, G&Ts and Pimms. Oh dear, the spell check wants to amend that to pimps. I am not enjoying pimps, thank you very much.

I’m reading Everything and Nothing by Amarinta Hall (what a name) that I got from the library last Wednesday and have started a new audio book: The Cuckoo’s Calling by a new and aspiring author Robert Galbraith (ha ha! But why not, good for J.K.)

The Mollie Makes are going to be my dipping in and out reading for the next few days. I usually pounce on these as soon as they thud through the letterbox, but lately I’ve been a bit caught up browsing my haul of canal non-fiction.

I’m joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along again. What are you reading and crocheting/knitting this week?

Yarn Along

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It’s summer this week in England and the weather’s beautiful. Last night we walked around the village inhaling the scent of roses climbing cottage walls, elderflower and many BBQs!

I’ve started to crochet a very unseasonal item – a swirly scarf from Nicki Trench’s Cute and Easy Crochet book. The yarn is King Cole ‘Wicked’ which I bought last week. It was a reduced bargain price so I bought two balls, as you do. I like not knowing what colour’s going to appear next as I crochet (living life on the wild side.) It’s a bit of a different choice for me but I like the tweedy but bright mix.

The books are new today, from the library, and look like pretty good Summertime reads. ‘Everything and Nothing’ is a thriller and described variously as chilling, suspenseful and disturbing on the blurb. It seems a super-nanny has come to look after a family’s two children, but all is not as it seems. The other novel drew me because of the cover recommendation from Kate Atkinson, she’s one of my favourite authors. It’s the tale of two girlhood friends who are inseparable, until one goes missing. I must be in a mystery frame of mind this week, maybe influenced by my audio book. I’m three-quarters of the way through  Sweet Tooth  by Ian McEwan, it’s a great book to crochet or sew along to (I’ve been x stitching lately.) As a wanna-be be spy it’s a fantastic book and the 1972 London setting to the story is interesting.

Vintage USA Crochet books

Last September I wrote a short Blogalicious post recommending Cassie Stephens blog. It’s so fun and often very interesting as you’ll learn about artists and techniques her school students are focusing upon . I sent Cassie a 1970s Simplicity dress pattern which I came across in a craft Charity shop last Autumn, it was just a little gift. A couple of weeks ago Cassie left me a comment asking for my address. Ooooohhh! I didn’t expect anything in return but I was taught never to look a gift horse in the eye, so emailed my details. A parcel arrived at lunchtime. 031 It’s so kind that someone would spend so much sending a parcel to a stranger, what a lovely thing to do.032Professional looking packing! What is inside??!! (Such a blogger thing to do; we can’t open a parcel, spot a huge spider or see a bunch of flowers without grabbing our camera!)033Moon Pies! I’ve heard of these but never eaten one. Woo hoo! Slightly squashed and a bit soft so I’ve put them straight in the fridge. It doesn’t matter, I’m sure they’re going to taste yummy. After a Winter drinking far too much hot chocolate and as many marshmallows as I could pile on top I went cold turkey in the Spring, so these are very welcome. Cassie writes that they’re ‘a made in Tennessee delicacy, right after barbecue and whisky’! Apparently the best way to eat them is microwave for 10-12 seconds and enjoy with a sugary soda. Can do! No issue with those instructions. At all. 043044 It’s a comprehensive little book, published in 1971. 045 046 Top marks for including a chapter for Lefties! This beats many current How-to-Crochet books.040 This really is treasure! I’m so pleased to own this booklet and will take good care of it.041 10 cents. 042 So, this was published in 1941, I wonder how far ‘away back’ they mean?047 There’s something about the girl below that makes me think of The Sound of Music. It must be the blond hair and hair style.038 I watched a friend tatting once, I’d never seen it done before and would like to learn sometime so I’m adding it to my mental list of skills I’d like to acquire. It’s growing all the time.035 Using a finer hook than I usually crochet with and fine crochet cotton appeals, but I can never imagine myself wearing a crochet collar. Maybe one day I’ll send Cassie one? I can somehow imagine her rocking that look in a vintage style dress with her usual aplomb.034 Pom-poms ahoy! 037 So interesting to see these diagrams. 036 Well, if you have been following my CAL posts since the beginning you’ll know that I’ll never be using the popcorn stitch for a whole bedspread! Can you imagine?! A row or so of blocks for one end would be painful but ok, but urgh a whole bedspread full of blocks would be way too many! But looking at the picture I wonder if the USA popcorn stitch might be the UK bobble stitch? I need to check the stitch details. Things might be looking up for this bedspread.039It’s interesting to see which of these companies, threads and yarns are still around, this booklet was published in 1941 after all. 72 years ago! The new enthusiasm for crafting is exciting and there’s so many contemporary makes we can see and read about to inspire and teach us, but these are not new skills; it’s just that they’ve become popular again. This gift could not have come at a better time. When I was out shopping for my Graduation kit on Friday I started to feel a bit odd and by the time I got home I was ready to crawl into bed, which I did. Basically I haven’t spent much time out of it until today. I’m still feeling pretty ropey and am not able to eat much other than dry toast and sip water but can feel I’ve turned a corner. No graduation, no champagne or meals to celebrate, but I’ve had very, very sweet messages from my student friends saying how much they missed me on our special day. The most touching messages were from the two friends whom I was to sit between in the hall. The seating’s alphabetical so they knew that the empty chair was mine. Cassie’s presents could not have come at a better time. They’ve really, really cheered me up. I text Someone at work earlier to say we’ve got treats from Tennessee. His reply? “Woohoo. Or, more correctly, Yeehaaw.” Exactly how I feel.Thank you VERY much Cassie.

Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside

We’ve had such a lovely bank holiday weekend.

All the photos here are from Saturday when we went to Bournemouth. We had a really good walk along the seafront, a pub lunch, then watched the kite surfers.
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On Sunday we visited Southampton, walking around old sections of the city wall, watching vintage yachts, gawping at the sheer size of the cruise ship docked in the harbour and looking for a few geocaches. (Yes,  I do a bit of geocaching and rather a lot of bookcrossing. I am a bit of nerd and not ashamed of it.) Today we visited Winchester and I have inspirational craft orientated photos to share another time.

Some of the kite surfer guys were really jumping up out of the water, apparently it’s called ‘getting big air.’ They looked like they went up more than 10 feet at times. I was the one going Oooooh, ahhhhhh and woah!

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Aren’t these beach huts painted gorgeous colours? I LOVE them.

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The yellow flowers you see behind the huts are gorse bushes which like sandy conditions so you see lots of them at the seaside. I’ve just looked it up and there are all sorts of facts about gorse which we didn’t know.

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When we arrived home I found the book I’d won from the recent giveaway hosted by Alice of Knitnrun4sanity blog.

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It’s lovely to have some new patterns to play with, plus it’s signed by the author which is always a nice touch. The book was featured in Simply Crochet (Issue 4) magazine’s list of Inspiring Books, which was exciting to see when I knew I would soon own my own copy. Thank you very much Alice!

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The apple blossom has come out over the weekend, so hopefully we might have some Bramley apples this autumn. Apparently everything is a month behind with the late start to Spring, but better late than never!

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I hope you’ve had a fun weekend too. What have you been up to, wherever you are in the world?

Tunisian Crochet

It’s a beautifully sunny and warm Spring morning. I’ve been sorting out a stack of mostly new crafty inspiration.
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So many books, so much to try!IMG_2226The Knitting Answer book is brand new, the other two are library books. I want to learn to knit different types of cables after my first try the other week. But then I also want to learn how to do lace knitting. Apart from a couple of wool scarves I designed a few years ago, one purple for me and a green for my sis-in-law, I haven’t done any lace patterns. In the Knitted Homestyle book there are three lacy sachets designs for lavender bags, I thought they might be a good start.purple scarf

I also want to work my way through the knitted effects section, maybe making a selection of blocks to make into a throw. A collection of knitted leaves appeal too, for some reason. I’ve no idea what I’d do with them.

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The new Mollie Makes arrived yesterday. Cute bunnies but I’d prefer to find a pattern rather than cutting up old jumpers. There must be knitted bunny patterns by the million online.

I always save MM till I have the perfect time to read it, preferably cover to cover without stopping or speaking. Someone else loves the oasis of silence craft magazines create.

The Cath Kidson Stitch book was for my birthday and the Sublime transfer books were Christmas presents. I must find things to embroider on, more linen t-towels perhaps. Maybe I should be going to the Sewing for Pleasure show the weekend after next? But it’s the Spring Knitting & Stitch show on Saturday and then I’m going to the Wool House with Natasja next week. AND I’ve just heard of a new yarn shop which must be checked out.

It’s sooo funny to remember that when I learnt how to crochet a few years ago, because of a childhood ambition, I accidentally discovered the world of crochet blogs when googling crochet techniques. I found Attic 24 along with a host of other craft blogs but still felt pretty solitary during my crafty adventures. Then over the last year or so there’s been an explosion of magazines, new craft shops both on the high street and online, craft shows, knit, crochet & natter groups (did you see what I did there?!) I’m hearing many ‘I think I’m going to become more crafty’ resolutions from friends too. Hurray! I hope this trend for all-things-craft lasts a long, long time and doesn’t fade away again.

IMG_2230I didn’t get on very far with my plan to embroider this cushion,as you see, before going to a workshop at the Make Lounge in Islington, London with my cat mad friend last September. Crochet and other yarny projects have taken over. I must use the Sublime books for inspiration and sew.

Ok, enough of the chatter and stop linking to everything PLeeaAsE….

Last night I dug out the 5mm Tunisian crochet hook I bought last month along with Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Tunisian Crochet and some left-over wool from the jewel baby blanket I’m currently finishing (Stylecraft Special DK.) I’ve been busy with other things but -LAST ONE I PROMISE- Matt’s last blog post prompted me to get on and try crochet Tunisian styley.

My cousin and I often send photos of what we’re up to, here was mine last night at the beginning of my first Tunisian Crochet lesson. (In case you’re wondering hers were of various cats peering into the lap top webcam and pics of her really long Tunisian Crochet hooks. Apparently she had lessons at school and crocheted a stripy neck-tie! I didn’t know.)20130314-115012.jpg

So, here are the four little stitch swatches I made last night. IMG_2238Tunisian Simple Stitch

Easy! Easy and fun. I like making all the stitches so it looks like a knitting needle full, then reversing down to one stitch again. Ingenious. If you can crochet you can do it Tunisian style.  Kim Guzman puts instructions for lefties into each pattern. Kudos to Kim Guzman I say! The book is a goodie. I contacted her to say so and straightaway had a nice reply.

It felt more natural to hold the hook on top, then when I came to this paragraph: ‘When working in Tunisian Crochet, you will always use an overhand hold. Imagine yourself holding a bicycle handlebar” I felt a real flush of pleasure; it’s fab when you just guess a technique and it’s right. Sorry. Getting all giddy again, more photos less chat ahead.

IMG_2243Tunisian Knit Stitch

Easy and it makes such a thick fabric. It would be excellent scarf material apart from the curliness. There is a scarf pattern in the book where you fold it in half lengthwise and sew the seam end of rows, that might be the solution.IMG_2235Tunisian Purl Stitch

I did go to YouTube for extra tips with this one, searching for ‘Tunisian Crochet left handed purl stitch’. There’s a video on there by a woman with a really nice American accent but the filthiest fingernails! Yuck! She was too fast for me to gather how to do her technique of putting the yarn in front of the hook, but I developed my own thing. Not my favourite stitch because of the yarn in front thing.

IMG_2231Tunisian Reverse Stitch

This is basically the Tunisian Simple Stitch but going into the vertical bar from behind. It’s fiddly but I was tired; it was nearly 11pm and I need to try again. It’s probably very easy.

The next lessons are to increase, decrease and change colours. It’s like starting with crochet all over again. Learning those  skills are going to have to wait because I’ve got very achey shoulders this morning. Ooops, but when I’m enthusiastic I tend to go at a million miles an hour.

Overall holding the hook overhand doesn’t feel as comfortable and speedy-easy as crochet but like everything you get faster the more you practice. I’m not sure TC will replace crochet for me, though I like the smooth knit-like look, but it’s nice to have a new skill.

Tempted to try Tunisian Crochet too?

New crochet books

My books have arrived! I won them in a blog giveaway by Erin Bassett

I never usually win when I enter prize draws, raffles or lotteries but I’ve received two prizes in a week! Woo hoo!

It was hard trying to pick my favourite patterns to show you but I narrowed it down to the sunflower from the crochet flowers book, and the log cabin block (love this!) and paisley motif from the Vogue crochet stitchionary.

What is immediately impressive about both books is that they have written and diagram patterns; so although the stitches are in USA crochet terms they are easy to use whatever you are used to. Plus it should get me used to the symbols as well. I still have my Japanese and Chinese crochet books to play with at some point.

I’ll be back on Tuesday with the results of the CAL theme vote (still getting votes every day!) and a link you can put on your blog if I sort out the technology.

Happy (bank holiday) weekend everyone!

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Sleeping beauty and the kiss of crochet

I’ve started doing some cross stitching for the first time in a very, very  long time and am enjoying it. It’s funny though because I was always a bit down on cross stitching because I thought it relatively skill-less when I was younger. I used to do tapestry and embroidery more in those days. I’m working up to more sewing but have lost confidence through lack of practice and have forgotten lots of techniques. I also need to take a refresher on using a sewing machine since I have forgotten the teeny leetle bit I used to know.

 
 
 
 
I had to drive cross-country to work for about eight years and all the gear changes really aggravated my elbow, and so I actually gave up everything crafty. I just packed my hoops, frames, wools, threads, needles and books away. Then I got into study and stuff which left no time. I feel like sleeping beauty in lots of ways where craft is concerned as I didn’t do any for most of a decade. It seems extreme now, but I really was in pain at the time and used to find that even stirring cooking and cutting out with scissors aggravated it.
 
It’s much better nowadays and learning to crochet, then discovering the world of craft blogs, has awakened a gradual desire to try my hand at different skills again. It’s really exciting!

 
 
 I’d forgotten I had so many threads, fabrics and books tucked away. These books are now on the shelf here in the Little Room with my crochet and knitting ones, it’s becoming a bit of a library. S saw these and exclaimed ‘Una Stubbs?!!’ Well…yes….Una Stubbs. Now playing Mrs Hudson in Sherlock
And there she is going strong playing his landlady, bless her. I originally knew her from Aunt Sally in Worzel Gummidge.  I wonder if she’s still sewing in between filming?
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I’m not sure whether there’s a law of cross stitching (or, x stitching as it’s now known as in the 21st C version of kool crafts) as in all the stitches must universally go in a particular direction, but figure as I’m a leftie the top stitch goes L-R diagonally and as long as all stitches are in the same direction it’s ok. You see; I really have lost my mojo….!
 
 
 
 …Obviously quite  a close-up! The holes aren’t this big I promise…
Back to Crochet
 
On another tack; I was wondering about starting a CAL – a crochet along – here as I’ve owned this superb book for a while now but haven’t used it apart from for referencing stitches and techniques. Would you be interested in making 2-3 squares (or fewer? Is that too many?) with me a week?
 
Obviously you will need to get hold of a copy of the book since I can’t post patterns here as I would be infringing copyright. It seems to be a book that many crochet fans already own, and is very easy to get hold of too. See the book link to the right of this page>>>>
 
I thought I could post links to your blog and photos of the completed squares as we go on a weekly basis, maybe at the beginning of the following week?
 
I’ve run the idea by (clever) Patch who has suggested having a colour theme such as: Sea and Sand, Moonlight and Stars or Autumn Leaves. I love it! I’m drawn to Autumn Leaves since I wanted to make a blanket for my living room which ties in with my favourite rug there. It’s reddy, brownie, yellowy-goldy coours. BUT I can set up a poll for votes and alternative suggestions. I’m all for democracy. Once the theme is decided we would buy our own choice of colours, according to the theme, and type of yarns then compare notes.
 
Would you be interested in doing a CAL with me? I’m enthused by the idea since I haven’t got a social crochet group together yet, and this is a step in the right direction, albeit online. I’ve also never taken part in a CAL before either. pLeAsE sAy YES!
 
It’s holiday season so I reckon the best time to begin would be the first week of September, but that depends on you. It’s a busy going back to school week for many, but then you’ll probably need the meditative power of crochet and the sharing of progress in a social crochet kind of way won’t you?
 
To finish I wanted to show you this beautiful creature. I opened the curtains the other morning and there he was sitting on ‘his’ shed roof enjoying the morning sun. He’s either Ziggy or Spike, I can never remember and can’t ask my neighbour again!

Happy days

Ooooh a lovely day today; flowers and thank you cards from school as its the end of the academic year tomorrow, and one of my lottery winnings (£10!) gift to myself has arrived.
It is good to give, but even better to receive!
It’s been one of those super weeks in all kinds of ways. Hope it has been a satisfying one for you too.
Have a good Friday and a lovely weekend. I’m off ooop north ish to catch up with friends and check out the shops.

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A Winning Sunday

There’s nothing like going out for lunch on a Sunday, admittedly I went out for lunch on Saturday too with a group of friends, but Sunday is different somehow. It just feels more relaxed, there aren’t hordes of people rushing around, the pace is leisurely and well, frankly rather lovely.

I haven’t had Peroni for ages and doubt I’ve ever had an egg on a pizza! It was all good and if you’re Oxford way I’d recommend this pizzeria for a spot of lunch.

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This morning I had an alert saying ‘We have news about your lottery ticket’ and in the time it took to log on to The National Lottery website I’d gone from buying a Penthouse by the Thames in London, to an apartment in New York and one in Sydney. My whole life had changed, in my imagination, and I was about to tell S to leave the shopping and just come home now!

It wasn’t quite a life changing amount (£10) in the event, but I have ordered another crochet book. Woo hoo! It’s one I browsed in the library a few weeks ago. It had the most appealing patterns and the colours are well thought out.

I’m excitedly looking forward to owning my own copy.

I’m not allowing myself to start any big new projects as the Rhubarb Ripple and other items are well in progress still. (You know the ones: the Alternative Granny Squares and, probably, the Spring Flower Squares. I say probably to the last because I’m having an iffy doubting feeling about those at the mo, but that’s another story…)

Only 20 more stripes until the ripple’s completed. I’m planning on 80 I think, rather than 85. It’s feeling like a ripple marathon to be honest and I’m ticking off stripes in a notebook as I go! Seems like a good thing to do to break the psychological barrier to finishing a rather massive project ;-p)

Hope you’re having a good weekend too.

A little crochet and Royal Cake

I finshed this book earlier. It’s an extremely easy read and described as a ‘cosy mystery’ in the States apparently. I’ve never sampled a knitting murder before, as gruesome as that sounds….!

Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Co-Op, Martin’s Newsagents, a little Post office/general store – no magazine joy. Superstore Sainsbury’s further afield – BINGO! I was so happy I took this photo to mark the occasion. I need to subscribe; since I really would miss making fun of some of the patterns and miss out on the good ones. I’m not about to highlight the funnier ones now. Well, apart from to ask: would you like woolly gnomes in your garden or to create woolly ice-creams? If the answer contains a yes this is definitely the buy for you this week. Grin.

Thank you for all your lovely, lovely comments about the wonky-middled Blooming Flower cushion back. It’s not that I didn’t take any notice but I can be a bit of a perfectionist. Knowing I am capable of making something much better, and giving a wonky one as a present to a little sweetheart for her 4th birthday would have made me feel rather uncomfortable. It’s all good crochet practice too. The colours are better in my second version of the cushion back too. I just need to dc it together with the front.

We’ve just had a delivery of ROYAL CAKES. Yes! Properly ROYAL CAKES.

For the Diamond Jubilee the Queen and Prince Philip are holding celebratory tea-parties around the country. People were invited to take part in a free lottery to attend. S’s parents were successful and have been to Henley upon Thames this afternoon to have tea ‘in the presence of the Queen.’ They were very close to both, about 4 feet away apparently at one point, and dropped in on the way home to give us two Royal Brownies (seems fitting to use capitals somehow) that my MiL sneaked out in a paper cup. So sweet!

Apparently the steam powered barge the Royals travelled upon down the Thames, during the main Jubilee celebratory weekend, was moored on the river and there were a number of other boats. It sounds like the tea was quite a spread too. Jealous! But sneezing and wheezing all over the Royals is pretty uncool I imagine.

Sorry folks, I can’t hang about. I have a ROYAL Brownie to consume. :-D

PS: I bet it’s calorie-free being Royal and everything too.

Red White & Blue

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee (60 years! What a woman!) and London 2012 Olympic Games are rushing towards us now. Currently the torch is travelling around the country, being passed from hand to hand. This morning I’ve heard that it’s in Wiltshire, and was being carried part of the way by a woman who has raised a lot of money for charity. It’s really good that non-celebs/sports-people are having a turn and are honoured for their service to the community or whose talents are recognised.

For the past while I’ve been taking a few of these types of pictures…

This is a road in Oxford in case you’re wondering.

And, the next one made me smile!

Creative display methods reflecting the times eh?

So the shops are getting well on board, selling anything and everything red, white and blue. With a fair few Jubilee biscuit tins etc. Good for them! I like to see it.

On another track, I walked (a 3.3m round trip – loving Endomondo sports tracker!) to a library on Monday and discovered they have a host of craft books on all sorts of the topics including: quilting, patchwork, jewellery, knitting, cake decorating….and crochet…a reallllly good selection of crochet books. So I grabbed five randomly and took them outside to sit in the sun (yes! we have sun now…hurrah!!!!!) in the quite beautiful library garden. Next time I go maybe I’ll take some photos, it’s full of clever planting, with benches placed at intervals in the quiet corners behind plants, trees and sculptures. The benches are painted a lovely blue, you can see the colour behind the books in the photos, which really works with the setting.

The Dudes book has some very nice jumpers in it with a variety of sizes. I ‘might’ have a try at something wearable later in the year. And no; I’m not ‘a dude’ but I did like the look of the solid, chunky clothes unlike lots of crocheted items for women which are often all holey and not really flattering to actually wear. Unless you’re a willowy model IMHO. The male models are pretty yummy too in this book – some of them – so that’s definitely a recommmeded ‘book to browse’ from me!

I made some notes on which patterns I liked in the books as I went, so I can go back and borrow a few at some point. There are even more to go and peruse some other time too.

Thanks to blogger Jill from Nice Piece of Work for commenting on my charity shop book at the weekend. She prompted me have a look for craft books when I was returning a novel (Lost Lady -Willa Cather, recommended read particularly if you like classic American fiction.)

I’m off to walk around the grounds of a Palace now, will post some pics soon.

Enjoy the sun, if you have some wherever you are. :-D

Happy Weekend Things

::Halfway through the Rhubarb Ripple blanket now::The first in the series of books. It’s predictable and easy, very comfy weekend reading in fact. The UK edition was originally called ‘Diva’s don’t Knit’…there are lots of not-so-happy comments on Amazon about this; disappointed buyers expecting this one to have been another in the series and finding they’d already read it…just to let you know.)

::A charity shop find for £1:50. It’s JAM-PACKED with patterns (charts as well as written patterns, so I ‘might’ crack charts soon – but I’m not concentrating on this until the blanket is finished.)

::And this page which makes my strange joining obsession happy!

::Some more Spring Flower circles completed (yes, yes I’m darning in the ends as I complete a batch. I’ve learnt my lesson now…:-D)

I’m watching episodes of the BBC’s Little Dorrit at the moment, my lovely friend N has lent me the box-set, today’s episode was when Mr X gets the news about X (no spoilers from The Little Room, oh no – not from me!) and I confess to having to put down my crochet and wipe my eyes…

::Loving my bucket still.

::OOoh a new edition. This magazine is improving all the time. Now with great shopping, craft courses, craft holidays(!) and blog and knitting/crochet fiction recommendations. I tend to ignore the knitting patterns and power on through to the crochet, but I might head back to knitting one day, so I have saved a stash of the magazines for then.::NO NEVER (remember my 1970s poodle wine bottle cover and Barbie toilet roll cover comment?) Susie Johns what were you thinking??!?…….This must have been a blip?

::Maybe! These are pretty.

HAPPY WEEKEND TO YOU ALL

HAVE A GOOD CRAFTY ONE

….maybe with a drop of something nice to drink…but please PleAsE don’t let it have come out of a knitted or crocheted bottle covered….ummm bottle. I implore you!!!!!

First Day of Spring

I’m never sure what these are, but they always look pretty at the end of the garden! I notice each year I photograph them that they’re never sharply in focus. I think they move deliberately, but I still think they’re pretty.

Nearly there. I’m still not sure what colour(s) they’ll be…

A food parcel sent as I had to cancel dinner plans yesterday. (I reasoned that sharing is fine; apart from when it’s nasty coldy germs.)

Coq au vin underneath, it will be yummy.

Lemon pudding with lemon sauce, and raspberries. Mmmm. Wonder if it’s ok to have for breakfast? Energy boost?

Earlyish morning meditation. I should have kept a note of the interesting blog I found on how to turn crochet into a mindful, meditative, activity. If I find it again I’ll share the link.

Oooh! These are my get-well-Rachell presents to myself, only ordered on Saturday.

I feel the need to say I don’t usually read chick-lit, but I’ve discovered JC and this is the third the fourth of hers I’ve read this year. They are so well written, entertaining and make me laugh out loud.

This Colgan book has obviously been through a few pairs of hands! I’ll google that hospice charity shop to see where it’s come from.

Happy Spring to you.

Now I’m off to do some proper work before the programme leader at Uni cuts my fingers off one by one. If that should occur please send me bars of ready broken-up chocolate. (Any sort apart from Galaxy.) Thanks very much. :-D

Made with cotton!

“At last!” I can hear Penny shouting :-)

You can buy the pattern for this cute little owl here. It requires a little bit of brain power to translate the pattern into UK terms. Also the translation is slightly eccentric at times. BUT I’ve made an owl and this is my first attempt, so it can’t be too tricky!

I enjoyed using the cotton to embroider the beak, it will work very well as thick sewing thread too.

Look at my gifts from Hong Kong! (One Chinese, one Japanese…)

Aren’t the gingerbread men gorgeous?!!!!

But oh my goodness; how do I read the charts?

Obviously I start at number 1….?

Then what do the in and out arrows mean?

The stitches are demonstrated in line drawings (very teeny at the back of the book) but with no English translation. However I do enjoy a challenge and am determined to learn how to read these tricky symbols. I actually have a suspicion they might not be as tricky once you get the hang of them either.

One page has a line of scissor motifs joined together in a line – super fiddly but very cute!

And finally, because it’s my blog and I can!

The pile is slowly growing. I’m doing an alternative granny square when I feel like it doing something small. It does seem to mean that I have to play back sections of DVDs again, because I can’t look up at the screen as much as when rippling or granny striping. I miss visual clues as to what’s happening! Life’s hard isn’t it?! ;-p

Those edges :-D