Cozy Autumn Sunday

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

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

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

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

Have you ever seen dancing ducks? 

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

Yarn Shop Day 

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

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

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

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

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! 

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?

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. 

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.

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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.

Designer Yarn Play

Near the end of May I received an email from Black Sheep Wools asking if I would like to review some new designer yarn. Well of course the answer was yes! Who isn’t going to want to try brand new designer yarn, for free? Then I was told I’d need to complete a non-disclosure agreement, I was not to tell anyone about the yarn or even that I was to be doing a review. How secret squirrel was that?! I’ve been sent yarn and other products before from various companies and have never seen a disclosure form. I admit that I felt quite excited and started to look around for crochet patterns; this would be the time to start on my first crochet garment, no more blankets, hats or scarves for me, this was obviously going to be a lovely big bale of yarn, suitable for a cardie, jumper or huge wrap, otherwise why all the secrecy and legally binding paperwork?

At the beginning of June a little parcel was popped through my letterbox, just as I was heading out. Oh…
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I’d obviously been very convinced and convincing about the quantity of yarn due to arrive, as Someone said “Is that it?!” “Mmmmm, yes it seems to be.”

Shortly after that an email came full of guidelines for the blog post; must be no shorter than xxx words, must contain no more than 4 links to the website, but should include one to x and x and x, the review must contain both positives and negatives, though obviously more positives than negatives, an original design could be submitted to the company website and would be appreciated, along with the blog post etc, etc, etc…

I may be about to fail short of some of these guidelines but this is my space, I have used the yarn and will tell you as many details about it as I can, given the quantity. The moral of the story is that sometimes bloggers get free things to play and have fun with, other times freebies come with expectations. Be prepared. But Black Sheep Wools seem like a good company and obviously have very discerning tastes in craft bloggers (the need for a winking smiley feels strong here, but I will not break my no emoticons in a post rule) also I can’t imagine ever writing a ‘review’ which wasn’t honest. If you want an honest opinion I’m your girl.

I’ve never used any Louisa Harding yarns before so this was a new experience.

Here goes…

Yarn details:

Louisa Harding – Esquel
60% merino, 20% llama, 20% silk
50g ball, 106 yards (97 mts)
Suggested neeedles: US 8 (5mm)
Suggested tension 18 sts x 24 rows

This lovely yarn feels quite soft but also due to its thickness of the strand (and the silk?) it’s strong. The band doesn’t say, but I think it’s aran as it needs 5mm needles and is thicker than other designer DK yarns I’ve used. I decided to make more fingerless mitts as it seemed just the right amount of yarn for a pair. I’m going to give these away as a present.

I used much smaller needles than the recommended 5mm, but the resulting fabric is thick and makes warm mitts.

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Although it’s really annoying it seems that it’s sometimes inevitable that wool yarns have knots in them. This is one disadvantage to using woolen blends, unlike acrylics which rarely have this problem, but most synthetic fibres do not have the quality feel of yarn like this. Unlike a ball of baby cashermino I once used which once had 4 or 5 knots in one 50g ball, this ball of Esquel had only the one. I decided to cut the yarn and start the cuff again, the fewer darned ends in a pair of mitts which will see plenty of wear and tear, the better.

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Lots of gratuitous tomato pics today I’m afraid, in my search for better light they seemed as good a backdrop as any. It’s great to come home after a hol to 8 plants groaning with ripe and nearly ripe red and yellows! Sorry – back to the yarn…

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I would recommend Esquel, because it comes in such lovely colours, the feel of the knitted material is fairly soft and also seems as if it will be hard-wearing and warm. I bet a knitted, or crocheted, jumper would be super toasty in the winter.

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If you’d like to check out Louisa Harding’s Esquel in Black Sheep Wool’s online yarn shop it’s currently £5.35 a ball.
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As I photographed the mitts outside on my emergency-stepladder-storm-resistant-stand-up-tomato-plants-please-don’t-fall-over-device look at what I saw…I’ve grown a rabbit!

Here endeth the review. A Manhattan is waiting for me on the other side. Happy cocktail hour weekend everyone!

Snapshot

This morning I read this blog post on one of my favourite blogs. Look at the clarity of those photographs! Doesn’t it make you want to run out into the garden with a packet of seeds? Sew some leaves? Tie something up in twine? Actually my little seedlings have grown like crazy and I need to hobble down to the sweetpeas and tie them gently to the wigwam of poles. They’re getting a little over enthusiastic.

SEWING: Embroidery is the perfect thing to do when you’re not moving around. It’s been ages since I did any and it’s been lovely. The light is so good when I’m sat on the bed upstairs near the window, far better than downstairs actually.

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LOVING: I signed up for Netflix and Amazon Prime free trials for a month so I could occupy myself over the weekend. It’s worked well watching things on my ipad. I absolutely loved a film called Sweet Land. If you haven’t seen it – you must. Others I’ve enjoyed seeing again during my film festival: The Lake House, Mamma Mia, The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood. TV: The Inbetweeners, The IT Crowd.
I’m really really tempted to hire How to Make an American Quilt but it’s annoying to pay when it should (by my decree) be available on the above trials.

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MARVELLING: That the cravings for chocolate can be satisfied just by leaving a piece of Green & Black Mayan Gold to melt on your tongue. Mmmmm. Rachel’s marvellous medicine.

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WAITING: For my leg to heal and feel stronger so I can become my usual active self again. I’m hoping to go for days out over the weekend to catch up on what I’ve missed. Meanwhile this L’Occitane hand cream is helping to lift the spirits as the smell is divine. Whenever I feel down I’ve always used scents and colours to cheer me up. Lavender works well for me, as does wearing red.

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MISSING: Walking around and being outside, but I have a lovely breeze coming in through the window and a super view of swaying leaves, blue sky and fluffy white clouds. I moved around a little too much yesterday, as my man servant was working away for the day, so am trying to rest my leg more and use a cold pack regularly today. I think the muscle’s healing well, but it’s slow. Trying not to think of all my missed plans at the weekend and this week. The ironic thing is I had to reschedule my GP appointment for my physio referral for my elbow ….because I couldn’t walk! It’s a little bit funny.

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WONDERING: If now is the time to continue embroidering this IKEA cushion? It could be crazy colourful. It’s good practise for my rusty embroidery skills too. If you search this blog you’ll see when I first had the idea and will notice I didn’t get very far with the plan…

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OPENING: A big parcel of yarn which arrived as I started to write this post!

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CROCHETING: I will be using this lovely lot to crochet a blanket, as requested, for a room in a relative’s house. It has curtains made with a William Morris design and so the colour choices have been picked to coordinate with them. I think they’re going to work well together.

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LOOKING: well, the plan was to watch something on my ipad and embroider, then the yarn arrived. Decisions, decisions!

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I loved your links and comments, THANK YOU. I need more please! Well, why wouldn’t I ask again when you’re so good at it? *charming smile*

Lots of pretties

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Choosing a range of Stylecraft colours for my next make – a crochet blanket. The colour scheme needs to complement some William Morris fabric. I’m enjoying selecting them as they’re a new combination. You might be able to see my light ticks on the colour chart if you look closely, or enlarge the pic.
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A lovely post-Sunday lunch was spent in this garden yesterday, sitting in the sun flicking through magazines and chatting. We make the most of the weather when it’s sunny. The cottage garden style border is poised to break into an abundance of colour.

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Twinkling and sparkling this huge sign is pretty, it’s on the front of the Selfridges store, London. Many were taking photos with themselves in front. I enjoy having strangers hand me their iPhone so I can take their photo. It happens a lot. A lot. I must look so trustworthy (or maybe like I’m not going to be running anywhere fast), this always amuses me.

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My beautiful bouquet of flowers. Stocks and freesias scent the air.

If you fancy a very slow, beautifully shot film, directed by Jane Campion, which features Love, sewing, fancy dresses and bonnets, Love and plenty of romantic poetry from the young Love struck Keats then watch Bright Star. Even the slight twang of antipodean accents at times (aiming for English) can be forgiven.

All the possibilities

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The postman left three parcels today, one was for me and as I haven’t ordered anything lately I was intrigued. Then seeing the enclosed delivery note I remembered seeing a photo of a gorgeous ball of cotton and a very cheeky communication I’d had with DMC Creative World.
I’d said it looks scrummy, a few crocheters replied that they love using it and so I threw out a ‘You can always send me some to try, and review. Anytime.’ And DMC Creative World have!!!!! How cheeky was I?! And what a surprise to receive NINE balls of cottons and merino.

What shall I make? Shall I look though my vintage patterns and try using one? Shall I see what comes out of my own brain? I need suggestions as my head is happily filled to the brim with the JOY of having finally darned in all the ends of my huge granny squares. I’m now joining-as-you-go like crazy, and loving every minute of it.

The best kind of delivery

First thing this morning the parcel of yarn which I ordered with my Black Sheep Wools Blogger of the Month gift card arrived. This is, as I’m sure you know, one of the best kinds of parcels.

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You start to imagine all the things you’re going to make…

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You’re so impatient to dive in hands first and have a good rummage in the bags, but if you’re a blogging monkey you’re on go-slow while you grab your camera…
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Ordering new brands of yarn online is rather a gamble as you just don’t know whether you’ll like the feel, or if the shade will be as quite represented on the website. I’m really happy with all my choices.

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I try to be canny shopper and so chose yarns that were all on sale to get as many as I could for the value of my gift card. I did very well. Thank you Black Sheep Wools! I’m still really pleased about the award and the generosity of the gift card.

They are all wool blends and various weights: 4 ply, dk and chunky. I chose two patterns first and bought specific yarns for the items. The colour mix of the Trentino drew me, I’m not sure what I’ll make with this yet.

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The pinky yarn above will be the first time I’ve crocheted with 4 ply. I’ve only ever used baby cashmerino thickness, dk, chunky and aran only once – as you’ll know from my recent washcloth post.

All three thankfully feel nice and soft. It’s always a gamble with wool, though less so with blends. I know it’s probably not cool to say this, but I really don’t like the feel of Noro. Granted it comes in spectacular colours but the crocheted and knitted garments I’ve felt are way too scratchy to consider wearing next to my skin. Natasha in Fibreworks, Oxford said it does become softer with washing, but I’m still not convinced enough to spend time crocheting or knitting with it and then not wanting to wear the item. Have you used Noro? What do you reckon?

It kind of surprises me that there are so many self confessed ‘wool snobs’ around. Surely it depends what you’re making? There are different horses for different courses aren’t there? A beautiful baby cashmerino baby jumper might be a very lovely present, but if it’s to be only washed by hand with a special wool wash and dried flat, then one in Stylecraft might be more appreciated for its throw it-in-the-washing-machine-peg-on-the-line qualities.

I have a post in the pipeline showing what I’ve been making recently, but the exciting delivery eclipsed that so I’ll show you another day, soon. It’s cool this afternoon, we’ve done a very swift 3 mile walk, had a substantial lunch and now the sofa, chunky yarn and 6mm needles are calling. Loudly!

What are you making at the mo? Have you bought anything exciting yarnwise?

Wool Money

There are those who are completely anti-gambling, others who’d never place a bet because they wouldn’t know the first way to go about it, and many who wouldn’t bother because they never win anything; even a church raffle. And then there are two who tend to place a small bet on the same sporting event once a year, namely The Grand National last Saturday.

One of these picks horses based purely on their names (food & drink themed this time.) The other chose their two horses partly for their name, but also checking details such as odds and track record.

One of the four lost its rider quite early on and the others came FIRST, SECOND & THIRD…..!

So now I’m able to resume the CAL with a lovely new supply of wool. :-D

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Week 1: CAL Blocks #1 #2 #3

I was really keen to start crocheting something new, so I crocheted the first 3 blocks last week. I was feeling a little apprehensive about how long they would take me to accomplish, since I am probably only at an intermediate crochet level at this stage. Will I understand the patterns? Will I master bobble stitch (block #4 uh-oh) spike stitches and the dreaded popcorn which always makes me nervous for some reason, although I’ve never actually tried making one. They’re probably a cinch? I’m also between projects because I’m meant to be darning in all those pesky ends of the Rhubarb Ripple and the Target Squares blankets, but my fingers get itchy if I don’t do any crochet for a day or so.

CAL Resolution: I’m going to darn in every single end when I’ve finished a block before I begin another. Darning is fine, but not 1000 ends at once which holds up the exciting final stage of joining or edging.

Have you made any CAL resolutions? Go on, spill if you have – I’m so nosy.

Here goes then….

#1 Triangle Stripes

#2 Tiny Textures

#3 Square Target

It was all going so well with #1 until the decreasing rows

If the paper can stay this is fine!

Redo – carefully! Counting is the answer.

Stylecraft special DK (SSDK) 6″ square-ish!

Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino (DBBC) Bliss indeed! My first posh wool, it’s so soft to work with and the stitch definition is amazing. Compare block #2 SSDK & DBBC
This is 6.5″ square using a 4mm hook

Oh fudge! I thought this was a perfect first attempt. The needle highlights where the error began

Second try. Ohhh! Spot what I’ve done? (Ignore the tape measure) I added an extra row for this block to try to square it up, then decided to stick with the written pattern for the next attempt (I swear there is one more row in the pictured block in the book…)

HURRAY! Third time lucky
SSDK 3.5mm hook 5.5″ square

Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino: 4mm hook 5.5″ high & 5.7″ wide
This is my patch of marigolds

SSDK 5.5″ square

The outer pink is darker than shown – photo taken under the apple tree so the sunlight was dappled

Pleased and a bit proud of myself, mistakes and all it’s been good fun

The plan so far:
>I’m going to carry on using the two hook sizes for the two yarns.
>I’m not going to stress about the differing sizes as there’s blocking, which I’ve never tried but is meant to work like magic, also some clever soul suggested using the larger blocks for one project, the smaller ones for another.
>I’m just going to enjoy the challenge of crocheting the blocks and decide what to make out of them later.

:-D

PS:: I’ve found out a mug of earl grey tea on a lap-top does not reach a happy conclusion. Just to let you know in case you’re breezily sitting with your drink right there…. DON’T!

Naughty wool shopping

Tuesday: I’m a terrible shopper, a classic browser who can spend hours in shops looking, touching and picking things up, even restacking and neatening displays, but I’m not actually any good at buying most of the time. Often when I go clothes shoppping I return home with multi-packs of socks. At least now they’re stripey or spotty colourful socks; not the terminal black packs I always, always bought during my non-craft decade.

This afternoon I deliberately left my yarn shopping at Mason’s till the last ten minutes before the shop closed so I would be forced to make a decision under serious time pressure. Well technically it was that, and leaving home late due to the fact that I wanted to finish last month’s Mollie Makes in the bath before moving on to the new issue. The first of my year’s birthday subscription plopped onto the doormat this morning. Ya-hoo! I know I’m very easily pleased: Mollie Makes, a hook and some socks and I’m happy.

There is a LOT more wool/yarn than this, plus fabrics and haberdashery (and two more shops in the town) but I still take very surreptitious photos in shops. It is a tad embarrassing but I thought some of you might want to see what the shop looks like since I know they send international orders.

So what I’m leading up to is that I’ve bought yarn. Better than that I’ve bought wool, proper grown up sophisticated posh wool, Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino. If it’s good enough for the Queen of Crochet Blogs (you know….) then it’s more than good enough for me. I’ve really only ever crocheted with 100% acrylic. I am a fan of the Stylecraft Special DK but seriously wanted to try something different.

It is pricey but it’s gorgeous. I adore the range of colours. I want to put it on my face and leave it there it’s so soft. I also think it’s going to produce a nice sized block for my CAL though unlike serious, sensible crocheters I haven’t been swatching. My approach is to crochet and accept whatever block appears. I’m definitely not working out yarn quantities ahead either, yikes that could end up being scary given I’ve spent lots of pennies. “Look after the pennies and the pounds look after themselves” I’m choosing to think about the pennies and not the pounds in this case.

I’ve chosen a starter range of colours for my initial blocks that are inspired by my memories of our cottage garden style flower beds which were in my childhood garden here in England. I remember red-hot pokers, lupins and delphiniams, plus marigolds, little flowers called pinks, moon-daisies and iris and….

I might add some light pink and maybe a splash of yellow, but I know that I want oranges, purples, some deep dark and bright colours. So that’s everything I suppose, but no neutrals.

I’ve started putting a Cottage Garden board together on Pinterest if you need any pretty pictures to look at for inspiration. It’s a work in progress as I’m still finding my way round the site.

Thursday: I could say I’ve done a swatch, deciding to make a sample and be a sensible crocheter, or I could say I couldn’t wait and I crocheted the first two blocks. (More about that later.) Either way I’ve made a decision about the yarn I’m going to use….

…Any ideas for what I can make with softer than clouds DB baby cashmerino?

DoNT sAy a BlaNKet!!!

Prachi’s bag

Backdated crochet post for good reason, it was a surprise for Prachi:

In the first week of July, or so, I made this little crocheted bag using Planet Penny cotton because I have a contact, Prachi, who is a trainee lawyer. She had recently moved to a remote, tribal district in Gujarat, India as part of a new job. The place she moved to lacks basic facilities (apparently running water is a luxury) and it’s very different from the city life to which she is used. Prachi had found a small, cosy place in which to live but was feeling very lonely. She was trying to make her new accommodation a home and really likes handmade items; and so I offered to crochet something of her choice.

After having a look at some of my crochet here she asked for a bag with a few specific requests:

::Could it be ‘holey look’ crochet

::A bag about the size of a kindle would be perfect

::Something she could sling across her on walks

::A bag to carry her wallet, mobile phone and keys (so not too holey then, I thought!)

::A bright stripey bag

I looked around at patterns but none were quite what she described. I decided to make my own design. My first ever off-the-cuff crocheted item. It’s pretty basic and was easy as anything to make in a granny stripe of clusters of trebles (I’ve really come on with this crochet lark I realise, I’ve definitely got the basics now!) but it’s still my work.

Here it is:

I toyed with the idea of lining it, but frankly I’m so unconfident about that kind of sewing that I decided it would be ok without. It’s sturdy and doesn’t have that much ‘give’ being cotton and is a fairly dense material as I used a 3.5 hook, so should be ok and not saggy.

To make the (very pink!) strap I made a lengthy chain, then double crocheted back along the row – very, very fiddly stuff. For strength I crocheted one end of the strap to the bag, then double crocheted all along the strap again until it could be crocheted to the other end.I have some nice buttons in my collection but decided that it might spoil the look of the front and the flap’s heavy enough to stay flapped over. A button can always be added. I’m happy to post a little chain for the loop.

But here’s the thing: I posted this on 9th July. I’ve waited and waited to hear from Prachi and just know she’d be super fast in getting in touch to say she’s received it. There’s maybe still time for it to arrive I guess. I’ll be sooo disappointed if it never turns up in India and am beginning to feel it might not, so have written this blog post so at least Prachi can see her bag, know she was thought of and the promise was promptly kept.

Fingers crossed it arrives please! :-D

This morning….

I only called Deramores yesterday lunchtime and here’s the new order!

I hadn’t mentioned that I bought another stash of the multi-pack last week, the second of the year already! I’m now the yarn Queen of the South.

Here’s the original lot. I really do recommend Deramores; superb service and fast delivery. Plus Stylecraft Special DK is £1.79 at the moment. It’s soft and nice to work with, no it’s not wool but it’s not bad at all for 100% acrylic.

I tried out a new pattern I’d seen online. This will be my Spring Flower blanket eventually. I used up oddments from the wave patttern I tried (below) but disliked after I compared it to Lucy’s ripple pattern. I hate waste and so every scrap turns into something else.

I’ve enjoyed trying out my new cream to edge the Alternative Granny Squares. It seems soothing after all the brightness!

Did you know I’m a leftie by the way? If you’re new and want a leftie recommendation of a great ‘learn to crochet book’ then click on the books! link to the right >>>>> it’s called Crochet Unravelled and has diagrams for lefties and those odd rights ;-p I still look at it sometimes when a bit befuddled.

Hmmm, well this my plan ahead for Easter project which hasn’t happened since there’s a lack of fun in the making. Fiddly. Squeaky horrid cheapo yarn. But it might still get completed since:

a) I hate not finishing something, even if I dislike it. (Mum’s the same I once bought us both a lovely tin of what turned out to be horrid sweets. Owning the lovely tin was the object though we both ate the horrid sweets; because it’s not good to throw things away or waste them. S thinks us both to be nutters. Obviously he’s wrong.)

b) It’s VERY cute when completed

c) I don’t like failing.

Away for trip #1 and trip #2 from tomorrow,  I’ll share some pics on my return. :-D

Have a lovely Easter.

Sunny Days

I’ve been taking advantage of the beautiful weather we’ve been having lately.

I even had to move into some shade, it became so hot!

And ironically I’ve finished the chunky seashell scarf! I’m sure I’ll need to use it soon enough though…

Details:

Pattern is from Nicki Trench: Cute & Easy Crochet (see books link on sidebar >>>>)

James C. Brett Marble Chunky acrylic yarn

Used 245g (Balls are 200g 341yards/312m each)

9″ wide

67″ long

Made 26 ch (inc turning chn) for 4 seashells width

54 seashells in length

6mm hook

————————————–

I’ve also made a few more of these…

Part of me sometimes wonders if crocheted jar covers are a 21st C) version of the 20th C) poodle bottle covers and Barbie doll dress toilet roll holders?! But I have an idea for another one so I’m carrying on crocheting.

I made this with Planet Penny Cotton and am really happy with the colours. It’s my Peach Melba jar cover.

It’s good to see that these little blankets are being put to good use!

Foiled by dtr…

I didn’t exactly plan to but yesterday I ended up wandering somewhere I hadn’t been for quite a while, after tootling along in my little car glancing at lush green fields and daffodils opening on the roadside verges. When I got to a quaint market town about 15 miles from here I made a beeline for the posh yarn shop, but got distracted by a kind of ‘everything you could want and plenty you don’t need’ shop. This is where lots of items are priced at £1-1.99 and you get lured in by the cheap, cheap prices then end up spending at least £10.00.

That might have been me….

BUT in my defence I have been wanting to make this scarf from the Cute and Easy Crochet book (see link in the sidebar) and it’s rapidly becoming Spring. So obviously I need to crochet it quickly, and for that I need yarn. (Still surpressing a shudder, but again I can’t in all honesty call it wool. It’s 100% man/woman made…)

I think it will be lovely in pink. Debbie Bliss Como isn’t made anymore and this pink marble chunky is 200g for £4.99. Of course I didn’t plan to end up in the market town or the ‘everything you could want and plenty you don’t need’ shop or buying yarn. So wasn’t sure how much the pattern called for. I bought two just in case, you understand?

Umm and also a ball of this….

…for an Easter thingy or two I’m planning to make.

Last night when I tried to start the scarf I found that Como is/was obviously even chunkier than chunky; so had to work out doubling the initial chain and pattern as it should have been about 10″ wide and mine was 5″!

The next pit-fall was dtr, what’s hard about trebles?

Nothing. I can confidently say.

But double trebles are a nightmare!

I had thought I’d progressed to intermediate, rather than a beginner crocheter – but oh my goodness those double trebly things have finished me off!

The 2yo thingy ended up all twirly around the hook; that’s when I could get 2 yos without one slipping off altogether!

I have asked about this dtr thingy on Ravelry and see I’ve helpfully been given some links to online videos.

Watch this space for progress…..

Aren’t these violas lovely? Such happy little faces when I return home. There are tulips coming up in amongst them and they were a complete surprise.  I’m waiting to see what colour they are, when they open.

Have a nice evening/day/ now I’m off to see The Woman in Black at the cinema with friends. The book scared me, the play scared me, maybe I’ll be brave for the film?!

:-)

A PINK parcel!

So exciting to come home to a large PINK PARCEL!

I opened it in a rush and quickly photographed it in the placky bag as I had to be somewhere fast, but here is my new cotton stash! I’ve never bought any yarn in bulk and now look at me, with my yarnalicious rows of DK below and now 13 balls of cotton!

Penny’s blog – Planet Penny – is listed in links somewhere to the right of this page, click if you too would be interested in buying a pack. I obviously can’t vouch for the cotton, yet, but the delivery was super fast! ( I think I only paid for this on Saturday.)

I’ll show some pics of what I create with the super bundle of bright cotton as I go along….

Having a ‘stash’ (this does sound very American to me, but I can’t think what else works so well in one neat word!) does mean that you can try any pattern out there and then, rather than wait to buy a ball of something.

I also am a bit excited about this….

I didn’t even know this magazine existed. The shops I tend to go to for a rummage around amongst their craft magazines don’t stock Mollie Makes. I’m looking forward to a good look at it tonight.

Can you recommend any other crochet / crafty mags?

Brightness!

It’s growing very fast, I find that I can’t do fewer than 2 stripes at a sitting, even if time is pressing and I need to do just half a row….addictive or what?!

I think the next bit is going to go into bluey greens and I’ll try the yacky green out too; but if it fails the audition it’s OUT!

I’m enjoying the trebling but wanted to try something new. I find that I can’t just concentrate on one project, I have to try a few alongside each other. It’s like me and books. I usually have a poem anthology, a non-fiction, a fiction and maybe something else I’m dipping in and out of. Variety is the spice of life, and all that. :-)

I’m using Nicki Trench’s pattern for the wave cushion (see link at the side for the book.) I suspect this is what everyone else is calling ripple pattern. It’s great. I enjoyed it last night, but if you’re wondering why I stopped in the middle…there was a bombshell in the middle of Roger and Val have just got in that required me to stop! and talk! Then it was time for bed Zebedee…

If, unlike me, you’re a crochet expert and notice a flaw in my waves tell me please. Gently!

PS: Sorry that the pics are a bit fuzzy but I wanted to show you how I’m getting on. The flash had to do the job as the sun is in bed now, and it’s never as good as natural sunlight.

Yarnalicious!

Oooh look what just arrived…

A big sack of yarn (I hate saying yarn, I grew up with a Mum who said wool as in ‘We’re going to walk to the wool shop’ and ‘Can you help wind my wool please?’ but there’s nothing of it in this huge parcel that’s ever seen a sheep, let alone come from one!)

It’s like a game of pass the parcel!

I can’t wait to see what’s inside! I’ve never bought more than 2 balls of yarn by mail before!

Wow! Looks good and feels very soft. Far softer than I imagined 100% acrylic would feel.

There’s one colour  I really didn’t like when I saw it pictured in the online shop but it’s a pack so you take the urgh with the lovely colours! Can you tell which one it is?!

They’ve sold out of the pack I think as I type because it’s not on the page when I went there for the url thingy, but I know they’ll be putting more together, such is the power of Lucy of Attic24! This pack is exactly the same colours she used for one of her projects; the Granny Stripe blanket for her caravan.

Now I don’t know exactly what I’m going to make with this, apart from the jar cover for a very lovely friend Naomi. She’s been really helpful and, well, so lovely that I wanted to make her something useful. She can keep all her pens in it at school.

I originally ordered the pack so I could have a stash to use for all manner of little projects, but I am tempted to make a blanket. The little girls might like a blanket to snuggle under….I might like a blanket to snuggle under…..

All these exciting possibilities….

 

PS: S said when he saw the yucky green that “It looks like the dial has been turned to 11 for that one!” Spot on I reckon!!

 

Crochet wool yearnings

I’ve had a really busy week teaching and writing an assignment for my Masters degree, and it’s been a great week.

A+ or A* in fact!

10/10

I am itching to get my hands on some really nice wool (not yarn, wool – all soft and snuggly in beautiful colours) but

I need to finish The Hilton crocheted bag first really though before I buy anything else which is not going to be cheap….sigh…..

Anyway, just thought I’d pop into the little room before I enjoy my Friday night curry and wine :-D

Happy days.

Happy weekend to you!

Rachel