May the Force be With You!

Hurray! Have yarn, can crochet!

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

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

 

The grey curse


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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m in my happy place

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

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

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

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

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

Got to start (again) somewhere 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mark 2

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

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

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

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

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

Yarning Along: the bunny’s keeping guard

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

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


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

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

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

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Holey cowl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Circumference: 61cm/24″ 

Cast on 72 stitches 

1-5 rows: Knit  

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

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

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

Bunch of pretty 

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

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

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

A third 

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

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

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

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

The Blackberry Ripple Blanket – Finished


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


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

The Blackberry Ripple Details:  

4 mm hook (I use Clover Amour hooks)

Stylecraft Special DK – 8 shades:

Emperor
Silver
Grey
Grape
Sage
Plum
Lavender
Parma Violet

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

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

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

The final round 

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

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

I’m joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along

Good reminder 

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

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

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

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

You can’t handle it, can you?


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

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

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

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

Favourite things 

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

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

Getting on with it 

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

What are you doing? 

Enjoying 

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

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

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

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

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

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It felt like Spring, for a day 

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

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

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

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

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

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

A crunchy walk

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

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

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

Five more 

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

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

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

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

Yarn Along

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

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

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

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

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

Cosy 


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

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

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2016

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

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

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

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

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

Happy New Year!


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

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas time

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

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

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

 

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

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

Do Some Crochet!

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

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

Joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along again. 

Squares & Stripes

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


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

Joining with Ginny and the other Yarn Alongers again. 

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So far…

 Having begun to have a proper catch up of my favourite blogs again I thought to throw The Blackberry Ripple (at last it’s no longer the ‘Unnnamed Ripple’) down to take a quick snap to show you what I’ve been up to. I finished the Squares and Stripes blanket last week and didn’t play Yarn Chicken at all. Hurrah! The bottom is actually the top, as I crochet it, and I see I didn’t lie it down really flat, but I think that’s ok. It’s been a long while since I regularly read any blogs on a weekly or even monthly basis. Now I’ve cut down on other social media I’ve found myself coming back to the blogs I’ve followed for years. I appreciate the story telling, like the sense of recognition when I see people and places I’ve seen many times before. The familiar scratched table or comfy sofa with piles of yarn and mug of tea is somehow comforting. Also I’m interested in what the Americans are writing post-election. I’ve been thinking I should maybe start to blog more again. It’s still enjoyable. It feels like a good community to belong to as we share snapshots of our lives. 

Here are some of the blog posts I read this morning over my bran flakes: Cozy Made ThingsTeresa KasnerMade by PatchNot your Average CrochetSmall ThingsYarn HarlotLittle Tin Bird (note the way Heather keeps calm and carries on, despite little feet appearing in the middle of her video!) Do you want to share crafty, fun, interesting or thought provoking blog posts that you’ve recently read?

Probable game of yarn chicken ahead

I’ll crochet some more border for a proper edging, as much as I can before the grey runs out, and I’m done. This is a warm and cosy lap blanket as the double crochet makes a thick fabric. Someone, somewhere will hopefully appreciate this quality. I joined the blocks with a combination join. This is WS together, 1 dc, ch 2, miss 2 st and 1dc into both loops of the stitches. If you dislike the raised line you can hold the RS together, so it’s on the back.

This week I’m reading Sweet Caress: The Many Lives of Amory Clay by William Boyd. It’s a fictional biography of a woman who lived through the great events of the 20th century. I’m rather perturbed by the blurb which describes the book as ‘his greatest achievement to date.’ Having loved Any Human Heart (and enjoyed lots of Boyd’s other books) I’m not yet convinced of this, but am enjoying the read.

I’m joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along, as usual.

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Grey days 

After this morning’s election result from America the thought of crochet, an audio book and lots of cups of tea is rather comforting. What disquieting news…

I took my Unnamed Ripple to the pub on Monday night but had to undo a row after the 4-4-2-2 stitch count was off on the previous row. You’d think trebles in a simple combination would be fine, wouldn’t you? Apparently not when there’s chatting, listening to another’s stories, plus cider involved! I might need to start knitting a garter stitch thingy on a Knit and Natter night. Any suggestions? 

My current audio book is The Unknown Bridesmaid by Margaret Forster. It’s the story of Julia, a child psychologist who treats young girls said to be behaving badly. One day her own troubled past creeps into her present life and she must try to understand her childhood self. I had a phase of reading books by this author, some ten or fifteen years ago. I’m glad to come back to her writing. I remember it as perceptive, intelligent and with interesting themes.

If you’re a new follower I’d like to say a warm and smiley “Hellooo”to you. I’ve had a flurry of notifications here and from BlogLovin’ since the Summer. This is lovely and a bit surprising since it’s felt like my blog has just been slowly ticking along.

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

16 for 2016 revisited 

I decided to revisit my 16 for 2016 goals and see how I’ve got on. Here’s the original post.

1: Re-edge my Rhubarb Ripple blanket properly

Completed in February. img_2398

2: Learn how to tat lace.

Not done, as I have to say I’ve gone off this idea. The tatting shuttle only cost £1 in the sale at John Lewis, so it’s no great loss if it remains unopened!

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

Done! After they had sat in The Little Room for far too long, I took action. Last month I thought of someone who would appreciate them and would whip them into shape. Oh my goodness; how right I was! The piles of blocks were received and in five minutes were sorted into three piles, crocheted together into blankets and are now just awaiting borders. I posted them up north to Nana Cathy whom we had the pleasure of meeting last Spring. Fantastic – I organised a Crochet Along, learnt new skills, met other crocheters through it (Cathy being one) and made some lovely blocks which will now be used and appreciated. I’m really pleased, if a little regretful that I didn’t pass them on sooner.

4: Knit socks, or have a go

Not knitted any yet, but I crocheted a sock pattern as a volunteer tester for designer Vicki Brown.

5: Dye some yarn

I have been ruthlessly dealing with my stash first, more about this later.

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

6: Use my sewing machine again

Yes, but I can’t think what I sewed.

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7: Attend a workshop or class (any)

I’ve just booked to do a drawing class. This needs many !!!!!! I always wanted to draw, but gave up at the kites and clouds stage. At school as part of a whole year-group assessment we had to draw some veg. It was a carrot and broocholi for me I think. Despite really trying hard my effort was labelled ‘a weak attempt’ and that was very much that. However, as part of my degree I read a book in which the author argued that in times past everyone was taught drawing, in the same way everyone was taught other skills. She believed it is not necessarily an innate talent, but one which can be taught. I’m not expecting to turn into Leonardo, but the fact I’m going to try something new gives me a buzzy feeling (and probably sweaty hands on the day…)

8: Join a Knit & Natter group for a session
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Yep! When we met Trish and family in the summer, we noticed a narrow boat with a name relating to a TV programme we’d been discussing. It surprised us rather at the time as a freaky coincidence. A week later we were on a family walk by our local canal and I saw that boat again (miles away from before.) Not being a shy person I bounded up to the owner who was sitting on a bench on the tow-path, to ask if she’d been moored outside a certain country pub a week before? Soon we were inexplicably talking about knitting, yarn and spinning and I felt I’d possibly made a new friend in 8 minutes, or so. I’m off to knit and natter with her once again tonight. When crafty boater friends are in her neck of woods they will join us at the cosy pub.

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

Mira Cowl
Mock Cable Mitts
Cozy Cowl


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

Look above… I’m never going to be a talented designer, but there are some nice and simple projects.IMG_8968

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

It turned into a Baby blanket.img_0459

12: Make another small cotton pot-holder

I did, in March. Have a go at one yourself too? Mine are used every day.
Saucepans with metal handles mean pot holders are necessary, not purely decorative.img_2489-2img_2490

13: Embroider something again

I cross-stitched instead, this summer

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14: Make up the finished X stitch things

Umm no. It’s the making, but not the displaying I’m into, I’ve realised. I should maybe turn them into pin cushions or birthday cards. Or would you like them? I’m happy to send them to a good home.

15: Decide about the Yorkshire blanket….redo? Undo and recycle? Give away?IMG_0925.JPG

I gave it to a charity shop a few weeks ago. Some people urged me not to give away or undo my first ever crochet make, but it wasn’t being used. I talked about it here. Mum had taught me and so I ran it past her. I didn’t think she’d be sentimental about me keeping it. I was right and she suggested I give it to the shop rather than undo it and hand over lots of little balls of yarn. They can always sell it as it is, or undo it to sell or reuse the yarn.

16: Use up a good chunk of my yarn stash

Done. I’ve been ruthless sorting it out. This year’s Baby hexagons blanket, Annabell’s doll clothes and the Unnamed Ripple (coming to the knit and natter session at the pub tonight) has used up lots of Stylecraft yarn. I’ve given away a bundle of various wool and yarn to a friend for her charity craft group too. I’m going back to buying for specific projects and not willy nilly. By the time you get round to using it you do not necessarily like the colours anymore (the whole CAL blocks issue), or have quite enough.

My Stripes and Squares blanket, a total stash buster project, is not far off being finished. I’ve tried a new combination joining method; which is good for a change.img_1058-1

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That was a comprehensive list and looking back I’m pleased, and a bit surprised, with what I achieved. There’s still a month plus, of the year to go as well. My goal now is to finish the Unnamed Ripple and the Stripes & Squares blanket by the end of the year. Then my resolution for 2017 is No Resolutions!

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Gradually 

Only five more squares to edge, then I’ll join them and edge the piece. I don’t think a blanket is finished unless it’s got a border of some kind, even a narrow one. I took a bag of woolly stuff away with me last week, but didn’t touch it. Instead I was glued to my last paperback. 

Now I’m reading Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy, the free Kindle version (it’s free! Hurrah!) Every so often I feel the need to read an old book; in a kind of palate cleansing way. The archaic language gives a real flavour to the story and 19th century rural setting. I’m two thirds of the way through my audio book The Memory Game. I have no idea how it’s going to end. I have a feeling that there’s going to be a big twist revealed, in fact I’ll be disappointed if it’s the obvious! 

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

Stripes & Squares

I darned the rest of the numerous ends on my ‘I don’t have a plan’ blocks yesterday. After a lot of walking at the weekend, aqua zumba and swimming lengths on Monday my knee feels sore, unusually since that’s a normal level of activity, but it was a good to sit yesterday resting it to sew and listen to my current audio book The Memory Game by Nicci French. They’re husband and wife writing duo. How do they agree on the direction of the story? Organise who writes what? You’d never guess it’s written by two different writers.

I really wanted to read One Small Act of Kindness after I’d listened to the superb A Hundred Pieces of Me by Lucy Dillon, as you’ll know if you saw this. But didn’t see it in my local charity shops, the Kindle edition is currently £4.99 and so I decided £1 would be well spent to reserve it from the library. The story is about Libby and Jason who have just moved to the countryside from London, one day a young woman is knocked down by a car outside and has lost her memory, no one comes looking for her and so Libby takes her in. This act of kindness sets in motion a chain of events…. It’s a nicer read after the violence and gore of the Jack Reacher I read last week!

I’m joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along again. And now I’m off to pack my case as I’m meeting a friend for a few days by the sea. Woo hoo cider, chocolate and seaside wandering!

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Ends

At the moment it’s all about the ends, or so I could say but it would actually be a whopping lie. I haven’t touched a needle or hook for at least a week! We’ve been away, I’ve been busy and the evenings have been full of the sofa tv combo, or early nights curled up reading up in bed. I’ll get back to the blocks soon.

As for books, I’m gradually reading Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series. This is only my third although I now have a small stack of them. I’m collecting them when I see them in charity shops and at markets. This one – urgh! – it gave me bad dreams the other night about a wooden box and being trapped. I think I’m going to have to read it during daylight hours and have something nicer to read at bedtime!

If you do want a nice book recommendation I’d suggest A Hundred Pieces of Me by Lucy Dillon. I just listened to this audio version and loved it. I’ve ordered the next book from the library, so I can look out for mentions of Gina…I have to know….

I’m Yarning Along with Ginny again this week.

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Playing 

These unruly piles of crochet blocks have grown without a real plan. I selected a bag of leftover balls of Stylecraft DK and started to play with stripes and blocks of colours. I would love to buy a few of these colours again, to carry on with a proper plan in mind but this would be against the rules. I have full balls of DK, chunky, sock and 4 ply yarns of various quality yarns, after they’re used up I want to go back to only buying specific yarn,for specific projects. I didn’t go to any wool shows or festivals this year, because simply put: I don’t need anymore yarn.

This week I’m listening to A Hundred Pieces of Me by Lucy Dillon. I’m enjoying the concept of keeping only one hundred personal items and discarding the rest. It’s an interesting way of structuring the story, while revealing more about the main characters, as Gina sorts through boxes of her possessions following a life changing event.

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

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Pony Interchangeable Crochet Hooks -Review & Giveaway


The Pony interchangeable crochet hook set contains 8 hooks: 2.00, 2.50, 3.00, 3.50, 4.00, 4.50, 5.00 and 6.00 and a soft easy grip handle which fits all the hook sizes. There are also 2 wool needles, 10 stitch markers and a knitters gauge which cunningly doubles as a lid.

The hooks are neatly stored in a box and are described as super slick, colour anodised aluminium, extra polished. If you’ve been crocheting for a while you tend to have your favourite hooks already, but I thought this might be handy to give a newbie, or keep as a spare set at work, if you’re a lunchtime hooker, in a caravan or holiday home.

 Tip: while putting the handle onto the hooks is a piece of cake, taking it off involved a fair bit of pushing and pulling. I advise holding the hook end with a rubber washing up glove, which will give a bit more grip and protect your fingers from the point.

You can email groves@stockistenquiries.co.uk for stockist information. I note that the set is currently for sale on Amazon UK  for £40.95 (free p&p.) This is NOT an affiliate link.

*The set was supplied by a representative of Pony for my use. All opinions are mine and honest.*

A free set is available for a UK reader as part of a giveaway. Please leave a comment below for a chance to win. I’ll use a random number generator to pick the winner and will contact you to pass on your details to the rep. of Pony. The giveaway is open now until Sunday 9th October at noon (GMT.)

09/10/16 The winner of the giveaway is Natalie R

 

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Doubles 

Stash busting is fun especially to begin with when there’s no plan. I just started out making a four colour double crochet block, then another. Doubles are pretty greedy stitches though, so I can imagine I might want to go to restock the claret and raspberry yarn (my two current favourite shades) which kind of defeats the object of a stash buster make. Still, Stylecraft is cheap. Lucky isn’t it?

For years my cousin and I have been reading the alphabet series by Sue Grafton, sharing the books after hunting them all down in charity shops. Latterly we’ve been waiting a few years at a time for the next one to be published. X is the 24th in the series. I worry that Sue Grafton might not get to the end sometimes. 

I’m only 3 or 4 chapters in, but Kinsey’s already eaten a grilled cheese sandwich and bought peanut butter, so all is well!  These books always make me crave egg and cucumber or pnb sandwiches without fail…

I’m joining in with Ginny and all the other yarn alongers again. It’s my fave post of the week and I love to see what others are reading and making. Looking up the #yarnalong tag on Instagram is good too. 

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.

New 

A night or two ago I learnt a new skill – mitred squares. I’ve been thinking about having a go for ages; then saw Angie’s photo on Instagram. They’re a good way to use up some oddments of DK. I have a lot!

I tried knitting one in stocking stitch, but it was too thin. Garter stitch is so easy and will make a nice warm blanket.  I’m really enjoying making these squares. It’s exciting to try something new.

I just picked up 60 Postcards by Rachael Chadwich at the library. I couldn’t resist it after reading the blurb: Rachael’s Mother died of cancer just sixteen days after diagnosis. Overwhelmed as her Mum’s 60th birthday approached she decided to scatter 60 postcards across a city, with a handwritten message asking the finders to get in touch. She decided to go to Paris, using the Eurostar vouchers which were the last gift her Mum gave her… Can you see why I couldn’t leave this book on the shelf? 

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

Badges, heather, gorse and blankets  

Yesterday I went to the fabulous V&A in London, officially: The Victoria and Albert Museum. The museum’s focus is upon decorative arts and design. The beautiful rooms are crammed full of amazing objects which you can see anytime for free, they also put on staggering good ticketed temporary exhibitions. I’m lucky enough to be a member and so can go into these anytime without booking and for free. Yesterday’s was the best I’ve been to: You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966-1970.  There are many album covers from the period on display (I’d like a full list of these, must check the website) and many badges for sale in the shop at the end. You are forbidden from taking photographs in this exhibition, which turns out to be a good thing because you’re not distracted.

I went in at around 3:30pm, totally immersed from the start in the music and clips which automatically play on your headset as you move around the rooms, reading, looking, thinking. Near the end I led on a giant beanbag watching three walls of projected footage from the Woodstock festival, held in 1969 on a farm in Upstate New York, trying not to sing too loudly! It was a mesmerising exhibition. Noticeably no one had mobile phones out (this is rare anywhere, you’ll agree) and by the end I nearly fell on the floor with surprise when I looked at my watch and it was 6pm!

This is from West Cornwall last week. The colours of the sky, rocks, heather and gorse are stunning aren’t they? Quite a few times we saw cars left in gateways, off the tiny winding Cornish lanes, as people hopped out to take a photo of the same.
This my Yorkshire blanket, the first crochet I’d ever done, when I picked up a hook and tried making trebles. It’s pretty funny that the first crochet I ever did resulted in a full blanket! Mum made the starting ring and I carried on, with her help. It’s The Yorkshire Blanket because we’d hired a cottage there over Christmas 2008 and this is what I worked on, before going down with influenza (not “flu” which is typically a heavy cold.) I remember feeling like death warmed up for most of the time! No Christmas dinner for me, I was too unwell. That’s proper ill that is!

Anyway I’m really not sure what to do with this blanket, because we started off with the claret coloured DK single stranded. I carried on using a mixture of yarn that Mum and my Mother in Law passed on to me. Others I picked up from charity shops. It’s all acrylic and the tweedy appearance is because some yarn was thinner than others, so I ended up holding it double two strands at one time. Of all the blankets I’ve subsequently made this is still my favourite in terms of colours; it’s more ‘me’ I suppose. Of course there is a real discrepancy in weight between the centre of the blanket and the rest. It was initially a ‘can I learn to crochet?’ practice piece, but turned into a full square blanket because of course I could, and I couldn’t stop. It really doesn’t work with the weight of the outside rounds pulling at the lighter weight centre. There’s been no unraveling however. My darning must have been sterling!

So, I’m wondering whether to undo it and donate the yarn back to charity shops, crochet it all back up but with a two stranded DK centre, find out some way of undoing just the red centre and redoing it or……

And my current blanket, The Unnamed Ripple, as I sat in the shade a few days ago catching up with a few rows. This one’s going to a friend who lives on a canal boat, I ought to get cracking with it so she can use it this winter.

Don’t forget that if you’re in UK you can enter my giveaway to win a copy of Edward’s Imaginarium before noon on Sunday 25th. Leave a comment on the post linked here.

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Record temps for September!

It’s 27 degrees and beautiful outside today. This week we’ve had high temperatures which haven’t been reached in September since 1911. 1911! Before going to Cornwall last week I had begun to anticipate making Autumn food soon: soups, casseroles, fruit crumbles and such; but the fridge freezer is still fully stocked with salad veg and plenty of ice cubes! 

This lunchtime I’ve been trying to work on my ripple but it’s really too warm to have on my lap. I’m listening to a new audio book Moving by Jenny Eclair now. I don’t think you can see the book’s cover on my iPhone, the sun’s too bright. 

I’ve really got the holiday blues today; the first thing I said on waking was “Where’s the green hills and the sea all around?” It was so quiet there too. The tiny lane running past the cottage was silent most of the time, the nights were as black as pitch and the only sound you heard in the morning were noises from the field of bullocks nearby, warning each other off. Still, I’ve bought my lottery tickets and you know to find me in deepest darkest rural West Cornwall if I suddenly disappear…

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

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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Indecision!

Away with a bagful of leftover yarn from blankets I’ve made, I thought I would make a quick patchwork type of throw. But so far having made these two types of granny motifs, and thought about others, I can’t decide what I fancy. So, I just packed it all back away in the bag and haven’t done any crochet at all. Without a phone signal or access to Wi-Fi in a cottage in (very) rural West Cornwall overlooking the sea, I haven’t been able to google patterns, or to look at Pinterest or blogs for inspiration, so after a few days of indecision just stopped trying. Instead I’ve spent a good part of this week reading. It’s been lovely. 


I found The Girl Next Door by Ruth Rendell on one of the bookshelves and have found it hard to put down. I actually finished it this morning, it’s a satisfying read (particularly Rosemary’s story!)

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

Six things


My first sweetpea! I planted these late this year, and then because of the recent weeks of dry weather they got covered with  aphids. I thought the chance of flowers was zero to none. But I got rid of the aphids, carried on watering every day and now look at this beauty. There are plenty more buds too.

On Tuesday we met up with Trish of Made by Patch blog and her family, including Grandma and Grandpa Patch.  We’ve been in touch through our blogs since 2012, but have only met once before, last Spring. It doesn’t seem to matter; when you’ve been the 21st Century equivalent of pen pals for nearly five years you do feel like you know each other. We all had a lovely meal together and I had birthday presents! Birthday presents made by Trish’s clever father. I’ve been wishing for one of his yarn bowls since she posted a picture of hers. I now need to learn how to use the nostepinne, to wind centre pull yarn cakes, apparently there are videos on You Tube. I’ll show you my efforts when I’ve tried. (If they’re not too embarrassing!)

The time for my annual cross stitch has come. Oh, but if you’re a purist and check each stitch as you go for perfection, use a laying tool or trolley needle for ensuring the threads lie perfectly flat side by side or anything half as professional, please look away now. I’ve been googling tips for cross stitch, I really wish I hadn’t. Sometimes the truly professional take away all in the fun in something, don’t they?! I find summertime cross stitching so absorbing and relaxing to do, when the daylight is good and it’s not as hot as knitting or crocheting. My enjoyment is definitely in the process, not so much in having a perfectly perfect outcome.

A long weekend away in Lincolnshire and another BBQ in the field with friends and family. Just look at that sky! When it was truly dark we stood by the chiminea and just looked up at the stars. I think I need a guide to the constellations since I can only really pick out The Plough aka The Big Dipper.

Lincoln Castle and The Wave. I’ve now seen the commemorative poppies when they were at The Tower of London, The Yorkshire Sculpture Park (after Yarndale last year) and now, unexpectedly, in Lincolnshire. 

A visit to Waterperry Gardens yesterday and another bee on another thistle. I often seem to take a photo of these at gardens. I’ve just enjoyed looking back at posts of previous visits in August 2013, September 2014 and last March. The next time I go it will be for Apple Weekend in October, that’s a lot of fun; sampling so many types of Waterperry grown apples and trying to decide which bag(s) to buy. Then there’s the added choice of whether to buy juice too, cheese and maybe a pie…it’s a nice trip out.

If you fancy writing a post about five or six things you’ve done in the last week, then please leave a link in the comments below. I always like to know what you’ve been up to.

Thank you very much for all your likes and compliments on my Baby Hexagon Blanket, here, on Facebook and Instagram. They made my day.

Baby Hexagon Blanket – finished – hurray!

Yep! It’s finished. There’s always a good feeling about completing something isn’t there? Even more so for this because it’s been a far slower process than any other blanket I’ve made. I reckon it’s because I haven’t made it for anyone in particular, it’s been a case of making something out of the hexies. I didn’t want to abandon them. It’s not a race, but I don’t like things hanging around and around and around… (The only other thing undone is those CAL blocks and I’m wondering if to just give them away.)

I do admit to having a bit of a smug glow about actually having made something out of the aborted Baby Hexie a Day project. It was started on Instagram by another crocheter, around New Year’s Day 2015. Lots of us began with enthusiasm as you do in January. It turned out to be the crochet equivalent of joining a gym; because by the middle of the month, perhaps even sooner, people started to realised that 365 mini hexagons weren’t going to make anything of any size. I am glad I did something with my piece because they are pretty cute.

I used Stylecraft Special DK oddments left over from other blankets, with a 4mm hook. I think I’ve listed all, but please let me know if you notice any I’ve left out:

1.parchment 2. plum 3. graphite 4. silver 5. lime 6. lavender 7. camel 8. raspberry

9. clematis 10. grey 11. mocha 12. walnut 13. pale rose


The blanket is 26″/  66cm in length, 19.5″ / 49.5cm in width and weighs 289g. I’d say it’s a perfect pram or car seat size.

For the border I started with a round of dc stitches, then for the second round, I crocheted trebles (with 2 tr, 1 ch, 2 tr at the corners.) When I came to the short sidesI did 2 dtr tog, which was 1 dtr into each tr of the JAYGO edges. This evened up the stitches to bring them to the same height as the others.I like the look and texture of those dtr tog too.The third and fourth rounds I decided on 2 colour dc spike stitches. I considered bobbles or pom-pom stitches but decided less is more.

I used this graphic on Instagram for the hexagons, although there were a variety of patterns. Try a few and see which you find most satisfying to make and which look most ‘hexagony’.

With the help of Trish – Made by Patch this is what I did for the half hexies:

FR: ch 4, the 1st ch is the centre of the half hexagon. This is counted as 1 tr.

R2: 2 tr (into the first / bottom ch st) ch 1. Rep twice more then 1 tr (all into the same place.) Turn.

R3: Ch3, 1 tr (into ch1 sp of prev row) 2 tr, ch 1, 2 tr (jnto next ch 1 sp) Rep once more. 2 tr (into final ch1 sp.) Fasten off.

If you want to JAYGO this is what I did: ss into a baby hexagon after turning at the end of R2, then ch3 (ch2 might look better, see what you think.) Continue R3 but ss in between the next 2 2tr, instead of 1 ch, 2 tr clusters, 2tr then ss at the end. This technique looks ok, but if I do another hexagon blanket I’d seriously consider sewing or crocheting it all together and forgetting the JAYGO thing altogether.

Now I’ve finished with the baby hexies I’ve been picking up the Unnamed Ripple again. That is its name by the way, it just stuck!

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Finally 

No…surely not…actual crochet has been done? 

Yep. It’s all true. 

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

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

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

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