2016

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

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

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

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

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

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!!!

The Colourful World of Kaffe Fassett – The American Museum, Bath (part 1)

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I’ve long been an admirer of Kaffe Fassett’s work since the 1980s when Mum introduced me to some of his books. The colour! The tapestry vegetable cushions! The knitting! The handsome man with the cheeky twinkling eyes! (I had rather a crush on KF.) I’d loved visiting his exhibition A Life in Colour last June in London and couldn’t wait to see more.

Well as you can see I had a fantastic visit to The American Museum in Bath yesterday. There’s been such a buzz about the exhibition online and in craft magazines that I just had to go SOON, although it’s on until 2nd November. I loved reading Kaffe’s take on the display. The exhibition’s housed in a separate building from the main museum, which has existed for 50 years in the renovated Claverton Manor. The American Museum is worth visiting simply for the grounds alone. If you want to sit, or walk, in warm Spring sunshine while enjoying a view of verdant rolling hills and stunning English countryside this is the place for you.

While driving to Bath I fleetingly wondered if I should keep my iphone firmly in my bag and simply look, exclaim and take it all in. But, during days out like this, I just think how much you’ll, probably, enjoy seeing such an explosion of colour, design and inspiration. Especially if you’re the other side of the world and unlikely to be able to visit. I experience a very strong urge to share. There are many, many items exhibited and I’ve shared just a selection of my favourites. The last photo is not great (there wasn’t a huge amount of natural light in the building, which you’ve no doubt gathered and flash photography is a no-no) but I’ve put it in as a cheeky hint of amazing things to come. Really. The exhibition was grouped into areas by colour and I’ve saved my favourite until last. I arrived just after noon; only twenty minutes into opening so was lucky enough to see the green room alone for some minutes. Bliss.

More to come tomorrow….

Spring birdies

Another make from my Cath Kidson Sew! book. It’s not my best, or coolest make, so far…
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…so I’m not altogether sure about blogging this, but they are what my friend and I have pootled about making this afternoon. She’s the friend I made a tote bag with in January. I’m aware that The Great British Sewing Bee are still advertising for participants for the third series -woo hoo! – but don’t think we’re quite ready to apply…
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If I hadn’t been too lazy to get my iphone, before turning it out the right way, I could have shown you how much my machine stitching has improved. It follows the line of the bird template really well, apart from slightly wiggle on the beak but that doesn’t show much. See the gold stitching on my raw edge applique on the wing? I reckon sewing is about getting used to operating the foot pedal at a good speed, unless you’ve got a fancy speed-limited machine which frankly is a bit of a cheat, and being able to stop in time to turn the material.  I can’t sew in shoes though, I see GBSB keep showing Chinelo’s shoeless foot on the pedal, is it that unusual to sew barefoot? I did take my right boot off at the Mystery Workshop, now I’m thinking about it, I guess no one else seemed to dive under the table. Does that make me eccentric?!

My bird’s head looks slightly rooster-like. I reckon that could be my violent stabbing of the toy filling with a chopstick!
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They’re meant to be lavender bags but it’s not the season for it, also they seem a little big, so we filled them with toy stuffing for pincushions. I’ve got to stop making pincushions now – that’s three this year alone. I guess I’ve used a range of techniques at least. Here are some others I’ve made, all crocheted apart from the cactus, if you fancy going pincushion crazy as well: knitted cactus pincushion, Springtime hat pincushion, flower pincushion and floating pincushion (written on the 16th day of my newly hatched blog I see!)

Who’s going to the Knitting and Stitch Show this week/end? Hands up please!

Simply Crochet: Filet Crochet Hearts

Something new…

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I’ve fancied trying my hand (hook!) at filet crochet for ages, so when I spotted Anne Egan’s sweet hearts in Simply Crochet issue 11 I had to give it a whirl.

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Sweet don’t you think? Easy too!

I can see all kinds of possibilities for Valentine’s Day projects too…

Really nice shopping

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Supermarket, butchers and fabric shop… I know which was more fun by far!

I’ve bought a few metres of each fabric for my next make. I’m planning to work through my Cath Kidson Sew! book as I like 99.9% of the makes. Of course it might be saved for the next girl’s sewing day as my friend and I have discussed making a different bag every time we get together . You can never have too many bags, right?

On the crochet front I’m still working my way through hooking up mini bunting as a commission from my local shop.

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What crafty items have you bought lately?

Commissioned

Look at this lovely lot of colours…

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I’ve been asked to make some crochet samples to put in my local shop, around their new yarns as samples for customers and perhaps provide a little colour inspiration.

I have to say that my mind is spinning with possibilities: flowers, perhaps crocheted together hanging down on the shelves, a little seasonal family of hedgehogs? Some mini bunting….?

I’ve been offered some money per hour for the crochet, and a completely free rein to make whatever I want. But when you get an exuberantly warm welcome, enjoy a friendly chat with both the Mr & Mrs and always leave smiling how can you charge for doing a favour, especially when it’s something you love?

Oh and they’ve gratefully received rainbow trout on several occasions which really puts them high in my estimation. (You really can have enough trout.)

No more chatting….I’m off to create.

Crocheted pumpkin

It’s been the first Saturday in weeks and weeks that we haven’t had anything planned. We both got mundane jobs – house cleaning, haircut, butchers, market for veg for family lunch tomorrow (the butchers, the bakers, the candlestick makers……!) Sainsbury’s for other things – done first thing and have basically lazed out this afternoon. Bliss!

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Gah!!! As Bridget would say – I got to the end of the crochet on version two and realised again that I’d forgotten to crochet into the back loops. It would really add some texture. Again I was listening to Bridget. Oh well, I was just trying to be seasonal.

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After a comment about having invented a raspberry yesterday I thought I’d get a better colour than the Stylecraft shrimp shade of DK which obviously wasn’t cutting it. I popped to one of my favourite local yarn shops and bought some proper Halloween orange (cheapo Hayfield Bonus DK, bit squeaky but fine.) Afterwards I tested the colour against real pumpkins and plastic items in Waitrose, just to make sure it was bright enough, this attracted some looks which I ignored.

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It’s cute though I have to admit. I might try making version III sometime with added texture, probably not while listening to an audio book!

If you want to have a go at crocheting a pumpkin you can find the pattern here on the Planet June craft blog.

Count how many different shades it looks with the shifting autumn light levels….!

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I blame Bridget!

This is what happens when you are excitedly listening to a brand new audio book released yesterday – ‘Mad About the Boy’ Bridget Jones 3 – while crocheting a new pattern, too late at night and not fully concentrating. It’s a minor crochet disaster.

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This is the bottom

:: You forget that you’re meant to only be going into the back loops.

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This is the wonky top

:: You make running stitches as instructed, but through both edges of the ‘tube’. If you thought about it you’d have worked out that they are supposed to be around the edge, then drawn up into a circle, not a wonky bumpy line.

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You complete it, while chortling about head lice, odd shoes and painful school parents then take a proper look and realise it’s pants!

You could crochet camouflaging leaves but decide to crochet mark (Darcy?!) II soon instead!

An Etsy craft party

Tonight I’ve been to my first Etsy craft party. I think I heard about it through Twitter several weeks ago. That was a funny thing; there were others who also couldn’t remember how or where they signed up to go.

Mollie Makes have been publicizing Etsy craft parties, it’s a big thing apparently and they’ve happened all over the world today. Have you been to one? Ever heard of an Etsy craft party?

It was a very relaxed evening with various tables set up for craft activities: bunting to make for the venue who work with Crisis, friendship bracelets, card and stationary making and china decorating. There were drinks, nibbles and cakes – always a good thing.

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I don’t think anyone’s going to spot my chain stitching on the 2, but it was relaxing to do. Of course I should have used a contrasting colour.  I must have been tired, or too busy chatting to think (or too much Buck’s Fizz?!)

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My table’s bunting (photo’s a bit fuzzy, sorry.) They look pretty with ready-made crochet flowers and sequins etc sewn on.

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While I was embroidering, my friend was busy decorating a bowl. I love it.

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She then moved on to card making and created this for her sister and family who are emigrating to Australia next month. My photo was taken before it was finished, she added some text too. Love those thumb print people!

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Yes well, no comments required about this piece. The purple line down the middle was an end of evening ‘what was I thinking?’ mistake that didn’t completely come off even with some rubbing with a baby wipe. I’ve donated it to my arty friend to clean and decorate.

Who knew you could use Sharpies on china? The ink will come off with washing, but I’m told you can bake it in a low temp oven for 30 mins to set the pen, then I guess you just don’t use it for anything other than for decorative purposes. I liked the idea of having a lovely bowl for my ends when I’m darning, perhaps I’ll hint a bit when we next meet.

The space was light and airy, it’s obviously used by ongoing art groups as there were many works in progress.

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It was a relaxed time with no pressure to craft in a certain way. The resources were ready, we paid our £5 (raising money for Crisis) grabbed a drink and chose where to start. I’d definitely attend another Etsy craft party and hope that the tentative suggestion about meeting again as a group happens in the future. I’m always up for social crafting and love meeting new people, especially when it’s going to be in a pub next time.

Buttercups & Bunting

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Sunshine, blue clouds and lush green fields of buttercups, fringed with cow parsley. Rural England is beautiful in the Spring.

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This was a very steep walk back up the hill from the river but taking a few photos always gives the perfect excuse for a quick rest.

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Home to eat some delicious local produce from the farm shop and continue with the Yarndale bunting. As you see it’s really fast to crochet. I forgot to ask if any of you are planning to go? I’m thinking of going on the Sunday.

Bunting for Yarndale

When Lucy asked for Granny bunting for Yarndale I was delighted because I’d already offered to contribute something towards the yarn walk that is planned for the route from Skipton station to the venue. It’s a great way to use up a stash of yarn and I had crinkly bags full of Let’s Get Crafting Knitting and Crochet magazine stuff. It squeaks as you use it. Yeuch. BUT it’s very pretty colours and is perfect for bunting since you won’t be wearing it, and wouldn’t never know how plastic it feels to the touch.

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I wanted a large pretty pottery bowl to hold my wool, or a wicker basket lined with beautiful material but sadly I own no such thing. Someone winces and pulls me away when I head towards wicker, or Tupperware or stationery. I’ve foiled  him with the latter two, but not the wicker so much. Then I remembered my herb bucket (bought last May bank holiday – I see) It’s been serving as a waste paper basket in The Little Room for ages.

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The colours are perfect, don’t you think?

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I hate waste so have bags of unused, half used balls and tiny scraps of yarn. I crocheted tons of middles with the teeny scraps while we watched Forest Gump the other night. I’d forgotten about the film’s great music, so really enjoyed watching it again. It’s sunny HURRAY! So there’s going to be some outdoor crochet happening too.

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I see my granny bunting has Lucy’s seal of approval as she’s left a lovely comment on my BrANd NEw The Little Room of Rachell Facebook page.

Thank you to Hannah of Not Your Average Crochet for my new media buttons! She’s such a whizz and now I’m all linked up.

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Yesterday we went to Cotswold Needlecraft at Evesham Country Park as I’d seen on the Mollie Makes blog that they were having a warehouse sale. It’s on till 2nd June and if you want to buy a pack of discounted yarn I’d recommend you go there sharpish. There’s a nice walk down to the river, a farm shop selling gorgeous produce and all sorts of lovely places to shop and browse.

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I couldn’t resist buying some more embroidery thread. I’ve never used metallic before.

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Please come and ‘like’ my Facebook Page and say hi :-) I’m hoping it will be a good place to chat and share links about craft events or anything inspiring.

Lucy’s right

…the roses are very addictive! So easy and so effective. Now I need to buy a ring to make a garland or something because I feel some more coming on.

PS: I can’t WAIT for Spring brightness and lightness, none of my photos lately are looking anything but fuzzy. Sorry.

Little Christmas Stockings

Hello again,

I’ve been crocheting these sweet sparkly little Christmas stockings for a while, filling them with mini candy canes to give as little gifts and maybe I’ll hang some on the Christmas tree next weekend too. When they catch the light they’re all glinty and pretty.

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You can find the pattern on Le monde de Sucrette’s blog.

It’s a really easy pattern and I can whip up a stocking from start to finish in less than an hour.

The owl & the pussycat

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Owl #3 for Emily. Here are #1 #2 and they all look unique in their own way I see! I must crochet more owls as they can be made into really sweet magnets as well as sewn onto bags etc.

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And a cross-stitched tortoiseshell cat for Gill which I put into a keyring case. It’s teeny really, only about 1″ x 2″. This little pressie is for a cat-obsessed friend who generously gives up her Saturdays to raise money for a cat charity. She has about a dozen of her own who share her and her Mr’s bed! She also talks about them as her ‘babies.’ You get the picture. At least I’ll never be stuck for a theme for presents!
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Have you created any handmade gifts lately?

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.

Summer Flower Garland

I planned to make this garland as a quick easy project, a break from crocheting the mega Rhubarb Ripple and Spring Flowers blankets. I saw the pattern in my crochet magazine last weekend, started it last week and finished it on Saturday, basically that was in two sittings. It’s fast, easy and satisfying to create.

I’m not entirely sure what to do with it. The Little Room already has bunting, a bird, three jars with crocheted jackets and Gilbert the owl, oh and the Yorkshire blanket. Less now is probably more; otherwise I might start having nightmares about waking up wrapped in crocheted strips, a big mummified crochet addict. I might send it to Alice May, I bet her creative Mummy could make a mobile or attach it somewhere to hang prettily.

If you like this and fancy a go at your own then grab a copy of Let’s Get Crafting Magazine for the pattern. I think it’s a goodie.