March

Making: you know what-what. Slow slow progress. But I enjoy crocheting the chunky yarn

And knitting with it too

Cooking: pot-roasted lemony chicken with carrots & onions. Peas cooked in the ready made gravy at the end. Delish. Shared the recipe with my friend and baby Theo loved it too

Cooking: this cauli recipe from the excellent book below, borrowed from the library. It’s even better eaten cold for lunch, along with some green salad

Sipping: Tonic & lemon, ginger ale with lime (Dry Lent)

Reading: my first Ian Rankin book! After chapter one I wondered why I hadn’t read a Rebus before. Not sure if to continue this book, which is 23rd in the series, or start at the beginning. In the meantime I’m reading an advance reader copy of the new Rachel Hore. Any Rankin fans want to advise? Will it spoil the series if I decide to read all? Or whatever, can it just be read as a stand alone without giving too much away?

Waiting: for an MRI scan date

Looking: forward to making Hot Cross Buns again next month (this month actually, again I forgot to post these notes I made during March! I’ll set a reminder in future)

A test to see if a family member is still reading and recognises his tulips tee hee

Listening: to Spotify. I’ve made a few playlists, good eclectic mixes. Can share if you like?

Suggesting: ‘Lord it’s a Feeling’ by London Grammar – Live at Abbey Road – it’s absolutely EPIC. Play loudly (when little ears aren’t around)

Rainbow harissa chicken & fennel bake

Wishing: for more sunny weather so washing can be pegged out on the line again. March has had t-shirt & BBQ weather, then snow, hail, wind and rain. Four seasons in one month

Enjoying: making sourdough flatbreads for lunch one Sunday

Appreciating: our first visit to the cinema this year to see The Duke. Helen Mirren & Jim Broadbent are absolutely superb together. I think Jim’s courtroom scenes are my favourite of all his performances. Well, apart from when he’s Bridget Jones father. The scene that makes me cry every time is the ‘I just don’t work without you’ bit with Gemma Jones

Eating: defrosted Christmas turkey mixed with leftover bean chilli & veg stock, fresh coriander & grated grana padano. It made a delicious Mexican soup

Liking: that lots of National Trust properties reopen this month

Hidcote Manor Garden
Upton House

Loving: the anemones which appeared all over the garden early in the month, such a colourful sight with the pinks of the heather behind

Buying: a little pot of joy for lunch! Sushi ends from a counter in Waitrose, only £1.95

Managing: my physio exercises. I’ve got a rocker board, it’s fun and hard to use, especially with my eyes closed

Watching: Upload. S2. The Marvellous Mrs Maisel S4, both are on Prime. Men Behaving Badly on BBC iplayer. The last we’ve found so good still, real laugh out loud funny, especially whenever they dance (when Neil Morrissey is Tony)

Another day, another traybake. This recipe. Tip: BB don’t need to added until 5 mins before the end

Wearing: my old pink hoodie lots. I love it and can’t bear the thought it won’t be with me forever. Should have bought a dozen

Noticing: buds on trees, daffodils, blossom and snowdrops

Following: the news…

Sorting: soft plastics for recycling. Do you do this too? You can leave them at larger supermarkets. So many collected in just a week, including pouches, plastics from fruit and veg deliveries, magazine bags, the list goes on and on

Trying: cooking Mushroom & Puy lentil bolognese for the first time. This Jamie Oliver recipe. It was tasty

Getting: stronger glutes

Coveting: can’t think of anything right now

Feeling: determined

Hearing: birdsong. This is excellent for ID and lovely background sounds: RSPB | Sounds of…Parks and Gardens

Wondering: if you have any requests for blog posts? What do you want to see more of? Anything new?

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What have you been up to in the last month? Are you seeing lots of spring flowers and buds, or is autumn coming in for you?

The best flatlay background ever

Do you remember the Early Morning Cowl I made and sent to a friend last January? She has a crazy number of dogs: big dogs, huge massive furry things, middle sized ones and little happy yappy ones. She walks them very, very early in the morning in fields near her home. She often text me at that time and I always replied that I was snuggled in bed, with a cup of tea! She was the ideal friend to send a cosy knit. Not that many people suit mustard and it really suits her. I have a photo of her wearing that first cowl, it was straight out of the envelope with post dog walk crazy hair, her smile is huge as I hadn’t told her it was done and posted. It’s a really lovely pic. But I don’t think she’d appreciate it being beamed around the world!

Here’s another more sedate version in soft misty grey chunky yarn. I started it (eek!) last January when we were deep in our third Lockdown. Now I love you all, you know I do, but reading that post again, I now can’t help wondering why someone, or even a handful of you didn’t say: “BUT Rachel, that’s not the only four WIPs you have, is it?! Why have you started more?” I seem to have become scattered, starting and not completing many. If you’ve read for the last decade (and I know some of you very patient lovelies have, thank you!) you know I always used to have a couple of things at the most on the go, finished them and then thoughtfully decided on the next. Now, not so much!

Perhaps continually starting new makes reflected my lack of concentration during that stressful period? Or trying to get some variety in a very dull time. Due to the Stay at Home rule we mostly all stayed indoors, apart from tramping round the fields during daily exercise sessions and tried hard to restrict the baking-eating-baking-eating habit. That left craft and reading, along with unfulfilled intentions to learn Italian, write a book and stop biting my nails.

The bees were buzzing around in the heather flowers, such a welcome sound
Tiny tete a tetes in front of a lavender bush

This year I’m really determined to focus on one thing at a time in a bid to finally finish makes and cut them down to probably just THAT SOCK.

Green shoots on the lavender

I wanted to blog today, because it’s been a week and I felt like a chat, then I realised that you really, really don’t need, or probably want to see the Star Blanket yet again. That’s what I’ve been crocheting this week. So, I decided that it would probably be okay to have one crochet and one knitty thing on the go. It’s still keeping focus and not flitting madly about. That’s why I delved into one of the top layer of my project bags and found this cowl. I added an inch or so to it after lunch, before doing an hour’s tidying and pruning in the garden.

All the colour out there is so pretty now. I spotted lots of new growth which feels an encouraging sign of Spring. It was a real pleasure to be out in the sunshine, tidying up stray leaves, branches and twigs that blew down in the storms and to prune back some of the perennials. I cleaned the bird feeders too.

Someone spied flowers on the rosemary bush. Pretty pale mauve, aren’t they?
Anemones
Cyclamen with a cheeky anemone which has come up in the middle of the clump
Hellebores are so elegant
Many clumps of tulip leaves all around the borders, I can’t wait to see the flowers

I’ll share the Early Morning Cowl pattern shortly. It’s a little iffy timing as we’re heading into spring here, but some peeps in the Southern Hemisphere are heading into cooler temps. Plus I guess there’s plenty of time to knit one, or a stack, ready for autumn. It’s a really easy knit.

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If you’re feeling powerless and crafting helps to feel like you’re doing something to help the people of Ukraine, there are lots of ways to join in to raise funds for charity. Today I saw a gorgeous free sunflower pattern which Carol, aka Dansnan, on Insta has designed. Here’s the pattern. It’s a good use of brown and yellow oddments of yarn.

Mother Hookers are a crochet group based in Doncaster, which is in the north of England. I love following their community crochet projects. They are currently asking for sunflower brooches which they will sell in order to raise more money to send to the DEC (Disaster Emergency Committee.) They state that the Government has pledged to match donations up to 20 million pounds. All the details are on the MH page, linked above. Or perhaps you’d like to sell some within your own community?

February

I’m not sure whether to carry on with the monthly posts…

I think you should.

Why?

Because they’re fun to read, lots of little snippets.

Is it alright to do February’s on the sixth of March though?

I don’t know, I think so, but I haven’t read the rules.

Ha! Ok, so I’m taking their word for it. Here goes….

Making: my third washcloth in last year’s series from Garlene of The Kitchen Sink Shop. This is called Double Dutch. I could manage one set of repeats at a time, 10 rows, before my hand started to warn me it was really, seriously, No, I MEAN IT, it’s time to stop!

Cooking: a lot of white sauces. I made fish pie several times, a beef lasagne and a cheesy topped gratin of leeks, smoked lardons and chicken. Comforting comfort food, which went well with the wild February weather

Reading: so many good books! February included the soothing stories that are Jenny Colgan’s Mure series: An Island Christmas and Christmas at the Island Hotel, both perfect comfort reads, Free Love by Tessa Hadley and The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell. I’d waited months for the last and finally got the ebook from BorrowBox the library app. It didn’t disappoint

Sipping: Tanqueray, our first bottle in a while and a bit of a pause from Craft Gins. Although I did get February’s box which had a Berkshire London Dry Style gin. Very pretty bottle and label

Here’s my referral code for Craft Gin Club. If you’re in the UK you can order a box with £20 off (free delivery.) There’s no obligation to order any other boxes. I’ve shared this before and people have used it, so may as well again

Waiting: for more of the garden to wake up, there’s a lot of colour, even in February

The garden was absolutely carpeted with these purple croci by mid-month, lovely

Looking: at the stark beauty of the trees and bare hedgerows

Listening: to birdsong when Storm Dudley, Eunice and then Frank had gone. I really felt for the tiny garden birds and wondered how they managed to cling on in the face of 75mph winds

Wishing: for dry days so the mud dried and walks were easier

By the end of this new 6 mile circular my walking trainers were no longer pink and grey…

Enjoying: Blue skies. Cold and wind are ok if accompanied by beautiful colour like on this day’s walk

Appreciating: Traditions like Shrove Tuesday, seeing friends’ pancake pics on a WhatsApp group and popping up on Facebook

Eating: English crepe style pancakes with lemon juice & castor sugar and American style fluffy pancakes on Shrove Tuesday

Liking: The Tuckers. I appreciate Welsh humour, being a massive fan of Gavin and Stacy and enjoying Stella. The Tuckers ticks the boxes: Does it make me laugh? Do I like the characters?

Loving: Russian Doll on Netflix, only 3 episodes in so far but wow it’s good. Glad to see there’s another series in the offing soon

Fish pie, balsamic roasted plum tomatoes and steamed tenderstem broccoli

Buying: a new walking raincoat. When you take off your jacket and reveal two large circles on your t-shirt, it is fairly embarrassing. That was the only area(s) no longer waterproof, despite having a try at reproofing

Managing: to tick things off the ever expanding list of things to do. There are a few things which I do not want to do, but they WILL be tackled in March

Watching: for signs of Spring as March 1st approached

Hoping: for peace, it was not to be. I’m so sorry for the people of Ukraine. And my heart also goes out to their family and friends in other countries who are waiting anxiously to hear from them and watching the News. It’s really scary for us all. Please give to one of the many charities who are raising money to support Ukraine. Here’s a link for UNICEF, but there are many. Pick one please and donate

Wearing: scruffs and blue socks with white spots

Noticing: how naff it feels to write the above about Ukraine, then describe my socks. I’ve been astounded at the number of bloggers who are not writing anything about it, no mention at all. Then this morning (March but…) I read my friend Phil’s Blue and Yellow blog post and noticed my shoulders dropped. So relieved to read a post which doesn’t feel like the writer has their fingers in their ears, going lalalalalalala

Following: lots of cooking accounts on Instagram, more and more. I like the dinner inspo, though actually rarely follow their recipes. Love the little reels filmed over a mixing bowl or chopping board. Watching snippets as someone kneads, mixes, chops or peels is so relaxing. Alex Hollywood, Anna’s Family Kitchen and 5 O’Clock Apron are some of my faves. Anyone you want to recommend?

Sorting: egg boxes for my cousin

A few stitches out of whack on the last repeat, I see looking at the photo. I was listening to Julie Walters audio book, no cider was involved. It’s a washcloth; so no need to undo. I will fight my perfectionist tendencies

Getting: appointments booked in for March

Coveting: chocolate, the weather in February boosted sales of nutty chocolate. Bars from M&S, Cadbury and there’s a gorgeous dark or milk chunky hazelnut one by Lindt

Feeling: round, ahem, it was the above

Hearing: nothing much by the end of the stormy week, I appreciated the peace

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How are you doing?

January Cheery List

Well here we are in the first week of another New Year. I don’t know about you, but the week started with lots of energy, optimism and achievement, there were blue skies, there was sunshine (although it’s really cold here) everything was bright and breezy. But I often find that this first week in January is a tricky one; you start full of energy and resolve, take down the Christmas things and feel all organised for the New Year, then something happens around the 5th or the 6th. I’ve gradually realised it’s a yearly pattern. The puff seems to go out of you and you deflate a little.

Today I’ve been thinking about what usually makes a difference when a low mood appears. Here’s some ideas if you’re also feeling a bit the same: do a bit of singing, a bit of dancing, play an audio book, listen to classic comedy from BBC radio on the Sounds app (the ones which were before I was born are often so comforting, ok not particularly always funny, but somehow comforting. I can’t explain why) cook a homemade curry, (a dal counts, it’s so easy. I’ve got a throw it all in a pan and stir occasionally recipe, if you want it?) Do a bit of crafting. Immerse yourself in a good book. My current good reads are above. Go outside for a walk. It doesn’t have to be for miles, just walk for five or ten minutes, set a timer at the start, then turn around and walk back again when it dings. Call an older person and have a chat. You might make their day. Make a plan for the weekend, or next week, or the next month. Just have something in the diary to look forward to, it can be anything. Be proactive; write a list of nice stuff you want to do, learn, make or achieve. Choose one and start or apply, order or read up about it. Write a list of the stuff you’re putting off doing, because it’s hard, boring or is something you hate or dread intensely. Do one of these a day, begin to work through the list. At least start one of them, then do a bit every day. Sometimes it’s just not as bad as you anticipate. The thing has grown much bigger in your mind, than it actually is to accomplish. Ask for help or advice. There’s a good glow of satisfaction and a buzzy feeling at the end when you tick one of the horrors off. Eat a little chocolate, drink a mug of tea / coffee / hot chocolate. If it’s really, really urgh have a swig out of the gin bottle. (Don’t do this one too often!)

Terrible photo but warm fuzzies finding this on Monday

Google or check Facebook pages to find a a book exchange near you. It can be a Telephone Box library, a Little Free Library, a community Bus Shelter book & toy exchange. Leave a book, take a book. I left a fluffy Christmas novel and brought back a little Book of Desserts. I’ve lined up a new to me Little Free Library to exchange another book soon.

Join Olivia’s Random Acts of Crochet Kindness Facebook group. It’s a really positive online space.

Garlene is hosting another Year of Dishcloths KAL this year. I recommend joining in, because even if you don’t fancy making washcloths you can use the patterns as swatches to practice your knitting skills, learn new stitches and designs. Then you can always turn them into something else; maybe blocks for a blanket? Or adapt them into a cowl, scarf or whatever. I’m knitting one of last year’s, the design from March called Double Dutch. Mine are knitted with rather posh Rowan hand-knit cotton DK and are washcloths, not dishcloths, for two special girls.

I made a cosy nest and started knitting during the Crimbo Limbo week. This has now doubled.

Tip: contact Garlene through Insta or Rav and get yourself put on the email list and then you’ll get the patterns sent straight to your inbox. This is before they’re added to Ravelry.

Really Important: Make sure you save them all, even if at this stage you don’t think you’ll be knitting all twelve. If you change your mind later on, they probably won’t be available for free anymore.

February’s design is my top favourite

Let me know if you have anything to add to my January cheery list. And tell me what you’re making and reading right now? Have you got a book exchange near you?

2019 – 2021

I hope you’ve had a really good Christmas, are feeling well and relaxed, or buzzy and productive. If none of these things, then I send you Feel Better Soon vibes and very best wishes for the New Year.

I always used to do a round-up gallery at the end of each year of blogging. But realised recently that the last one was in 2018. Skimming through my blog posts, I’ve realised why I paused.

In 2019 the only thing I finished was the cross-stitch 45 hoop! I started so many things that year, but could never complete them as my hand was too painful, following a hand injury in April 2018. Each thing was begun with hope. Perhaps this would be the magic project…? But there has been no magic, it’s been time and an acceptance that I cannot sit and crochet, knit or sew for hours on end anymore. But I’m so happy today’s gallery above shows a good collection of all I’ve made in the last 3 years. Things are definitely on the up. This is now a slow crafting blog.

You can see all my other roundups from 2012 onwards, if you click on the links at the bottom of that 2018 gallery post. Maybe start with the 2012 link and then come back here? Wink.

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Ahem!

Taps teaspoon on champagne glass…

DID YOU NOTICE WHAT I’D WRITTEN at the bottom of the 2012 gallery post?

So, today it’s my blog’s 10TH BIRTHDAY!

🎂🎂🎂🎂🎂🎂🎂🎂🎂🎂

I would like to live in a house like this

So, following on from my last post, here is the Christmassy National Trust property we visited. Greys Court is somewhere that we’ve visited in the summer, mainly because they have a sculpture exhibition and so the grounds are filled with all sorts of impressive and also weird and wonderful sculpture! Lots of it’s available to buy and some of the fun is in looking at the price tags. However we’ve never visited at Christmas. It’s absolutely lovely, as you will see…

And my crafting? Lady Brunner would not be particularly impressed. (Still haven’t made that chutney.) But LOOK! I’ve crocheted a brussel sprout! I know, it’s only one but at least I’ve made one.

Next time I need to get some safety pins to hold the leaves in place, as I found it really really fiddly to hold them while I sewed them onto the sphere. I still need to glue on the eyes and thread some sparkly thread so it can hang on the tree, when we’ve got one.

Here’s the pattern I used

I’ve also added some more rounds to a new block for my coast blanket. You’ve seen that quite a bit recently, so I haven’t taken any new photos.

What about you? If you celebrate, how is your Christmas prep going? Are you feeling Christmassy?

Lost amour

We went for a walk for a couple of hours this morning. The weather was mild and still, plenty of dog walkers were out and about. Lovely dogs and really friendly owners. Nearly everybody called them back to put on the lead. Very kind and completely unprompted. I’m glad though, because you always wonder how friendly a dog will be, not so much because of fear but because of exuberantly happy helloes and muddy paw-prints all over your clothes. As a cat person that happens to me often. The dog person walking with me will usually be ignored. How do dogs just know?

Can you see the birds? They were feasting on newly turned worms I expect, and pecking holes in potatoes missed by the harvester.
One windy day and this will soon be bare. The weather is so mild and calm at the moment that the autumn colour is lingering. Loving it!
Ivy vines growing up an oak tree, with clematis circling and climbing up them. Quite a dramatic sight which stopped me in my tracks. The tree is covered with glossy ivy leaves too. It’s being taken over.
A rowan tree not far from home

The walk was carefully timed, so that we were back in plenty of time to go and buy snacks, pour some beer, then watch the rugby. Well, one of us anyway.

I’m upstairs escaping the crunching of pork scratchings and Big Hoops, comments and excited shouts at the TV. I meant to put on Spotify and listen to Tick Tick BOOM! soundtrack, but the P&Q is nice. Have you seen it yet? A brand new Netflix film. The best new musical I’ve seen in ages. Who knew Andrew Garfield could sing and dance? I liked him as Spider-Man, but this takes him into a completely new genre. It’s an impressive change of gear.

What makes a good musical? For me I want to sing along to a song after only a minute or two. Ditto dancing. I go away singing my own made up songs afterwards too. And dance a few steps on my way to bed. Tick tick BOOM!

I’ve been singing Boho Days since last night. Pretty much every hour. I hope you have Netflix and can watch it too!

I had forgotten that I knitted this dish cloth in February/March. I missed posting for a little while, so I’m pretty sure you haven’t seen it?

The Amour pattern is part of a series of a free dishcloth patterns. One a month, throughout this year by Garlene of The Kitchen Sink Shop. I’ve linked to the pattern there, if you fancy having a go at knitting one yourself? I stopped after the first two, because it now takes me so long to knit or crochet anything now with my dodgy hand. Plus I was using Rowan cotton, which frankly seems such a waste to use on a dish cloth. They’re too nice to use, so are still folded up in a little bag. I wonder about making backing for them and turning them into oven mitts. Any other ideas?

Time for a cheeky little Saturday afternoon drink for me too now! A grapefruit margarita is being made for me. I wonder if they won? And I’m going to add another round, or two, to my Coast blanket.

What have you been up to today? How are you feeling about life, the universe and everything?

Taking Stock – February

Making: a bit of progress on my Coast Blanket, 3 more rows and I’ve finished another block.

I’ve done another 18 row repeat of my (probably not going to be a) dishcloth too. I just have the last 4 rows of plain knitting to do and it’s done. It’s frustratingly slow. Ah well. I’m glad I can still do bits and bobs Actually I have noticed bloggers I’ve followed for years, mentioning their tendon issues, carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis and such. All the crochet and knitting has caught up with us! Take it easy and don’t do too much in a sitting. BE CAREFUL

Cooking: olive focaccia. Last night I tried a third recipe, another sourdough recipe. This trebled – it was absolutely huge! It didn’t even look like focaccia. My starter is super powered. We hardly made a dent in it, but it tasted great. It also had massive air holes which was quite fun, but I’ll be going back to my first recipe which uses predictable commercial yeast. And looks like focaccia!

Sipping: on Saturday before dinner – Vagabond, a pale ale made by Scottish brewing geniuses BrewDog

Reading: Hungry by Grace Dent. I heard her on this podcast and immediately borrowed the ebook from the library, using the Libby app. So good. So good. I can’t put it down.

Waiting: Yep, we are all still waiting in England. I’m waiting patiently and feeling quite chilled.

Looking: forward to a holiday. Fingers and toes crossed!

Listening: to Madonna’s ‘Dress you up’ on the radio

Wishing: just to drive out of county. As soon as we’re allowed I’ll be off in all directions! Coast, National Trust places, shopping, museums, London, cafes, theatres, cinemas, short trips, long trips…I’d better check our cars over and make sure the tyres are up to all the driving. In the meantime I’m walking every day and enjoying it.

Enjoying: sunshine streaming in the windows. I woke at 7am and the room was full of delicious golden light.

Appreciating: birdsong, winter flowers, beautiful views, friendly people

Eating: lentil dal. I made what turned out to be my best ever. Just on the spur of the moment because I fancied some for lunch. Red split lentils, coconut milk, stock, onions, ginger, garlic, spices, fresh green chillis and a few chopped tomatoes. YUM

Liking: Taskmaster on 4OD still. We’re working our way through old series on 4OD. We take it in turns to choose. It never fails to make us roar with laughter. S2 now.

Loving: Lupin on Netflix, it’s French with subtitles. Don’t let that put you off, it’s fantastic. The story, the twists and music and …. Just watch the first episode and know that I’m winking at you

Buying: new walking trainers. I’ve gone through a pair in less than a year, as I walk so many miles

Managing: fine, thanks!

Watching: birds coming to the feeders. Love the cheeky aggro of the starlings raiding the mealworms and the hyperactive nervy blue tits

Hoping: for family gatherings

Wearing: scruffs

Following: changes in nature, loving all the greenery and shoots appearing

Noticing: much lighter earlier mornings and later afternoons

Sorting: socks. Wool walking socks shrink in the wash. When they’re all different ages it means I’ve got shorts, mediums and larges.

Getting: motivated with monthly goals. I’ll be reviewing them at the end of March and I’ll be setting new in April

Bookmarking: podcast episodes by searching for favourite comedians and listening to a range of shows

Coveting: summer evenings by the river with cider and a nice meal

Feeling: calm but keen for normal life to resume …

Hearing: the kitchen clock ticking

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What were your highlights of February? Was it good for you?

Plans for March?

Yarn Along – February

Knitting

Have you heard about the new KAL on the block?

It’s #YearofDishcloths and is a good chance to dust off your knitting skills, or practise following a pattern if you’re a new knitter. Or, like me, you just might fancy a new FREE pattern popping into your inbox at the beginning of every month. No choice overload or dithering, both good things for me.

I wasn’t even contemplating taking part in a KAL/CAL but saw a friend’s photo and immediately found myself running straight upstairs for cotton and delving for my needles. I’m using 4.5mm Knit Pros for mine.

Patterns will also be listed for free on Ravelry, but later in the month than the subscribers will receive the emailed version. Just go to Garlene’s The Kitchen Sink Shop for the links in her bio which will take you to the January pattern and the KAL sign up.

This is the beginning of ‘Icicles’ the January design. It’s looking like a Gansey style pattern to me. They’re made up of knit and purl stitches, which create simple but beautiful designs.

I delved into my yarn storage and found lots of cottons I’d forgotten, including several brand new balls of Rowan. Way-hey! It’s way too posh for a dishcloth, (and I do prefer using J-cloths) but I can think about other uses later. I may turn it into something else…

As I said on my IG post this was a proper old style Instagram. I put my knit down at the end of the row, to quickly take a photo. No flat lay styling, with randomly placed pinecones. I like it, so it’s this month’s Yarn Along pic.

Reading

I’ve just started Robert Galbraith’s (aka J.K Rowling) Troubled Blood. The fifth book in the Strike series, it’s an absolute brick of a hardback book. It weighs 1,340g. Wow! I propped it up on a cushion next to me, last night. It’s too heavy to even have on my legs for any time.

I’m also looking through Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Three Good Things, Liza Tarbuck’s Annual for Grownups and Freeform Crochet by Carol Meldrum. So plenty on the go book wise here.

Let me know if you can recommend a good book on tatting, please, one you’ve actually tried.

What are you making and reading at the mo?

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NOT joining in with Ginny this time as she has stopped hosting Yarn Along for now. If you’d like to link to your blog or social media post in the comments underneath, we can still see what you’re making and find out what you’re reading. I’ll miss the linky thing, but last time I tried to host one it wasn’t compatible with WordPress.

4 WIPS

Hello there, despite the least variety, or many plans to look forward to (apart from Zoom meetings, online singing classes, FaceTime drinks with friends and family and excellent roast Sunday lunches some weekends, which all equate to the most amount of time we’ve spent inside at home) it seems to be over two weeks since I posted. I’m not quite sure how that happened; because after I wrote my Yarn Along post I was buzzing with ideas for more posts. Time and opportunity has not been an issue!

Anyway, thank you so much for your comments on my last. It was so nice to hear from so many of you. Your comments all made me smile.

I’m going to jump straight in to show you what I’ve been doing for the last few weeks. I still only do a little at a time as I can’t crochet or knit for long periods, like I used to. But I’m thankful that I can still do some, as long as I stop the moment I feel a twinge of hand or wrist pain.

What I’m making has to be quite simple. I’ve tried more intricate patterns and unfortunately it’s still a no-go, unless I crochet or knit just a little, for about 10 minutes at a time, and that’s really unsatisfying. I’m happy with all these makes though, and hope you enjoy your peep at what I’ve been up to…

I kept seeing these Vintage Flower Hexagon motifs on Insta. I haven’t seen anything quite like this before, it makes me think of Orla Kiely designs. I bought Atty van Norel’s pattern on Ravelry. Really pretty isn’t it?

I’m using chunky yarn and so my motif is 18cm across. The slightly wiggly shape will sort itself out when joined with others.

Yep, it’s back! I had stopped this Star Blanket with a view to it being a baby blanket. But I kept eyeing it, wondering about continuing. It’s really cold weather here and a chunky blanket is the nicest thing to sit underneath while you work on it. Today it’s 3° but feels like -1° according to the BBC Weather app. We had quite a good fall of snow yesterday. The Snowhare we made in the garden is starting to tilt as it melted slightly today, but there’s still plenty of white stuff around.

I unravelled a few rows because I’d spotted a stitch or two I wanted to re-do, and hooking those rows back up made me remember how deliciously tactile it is using chunky yarn and a 6 mm hook. I’ve got quite a lot of Paintbox Simply Chunky yarn as Lovecrafts.com sent some to me to try last summer, so I’ll carry on and see what size it becomes.

If you haven’t tried Paintbox Simply Chunky yarn yet, do. It’s so soft and makes a really squishy fabric. It’s 100% acrylic but has a really nice feel. This isn’t an advert or an affiliated link, it’s genuine enthusiasm for a new find.

I know that some of you are waiting for the pattern for my knitted cowl, but like an idiot I sent it to my friend before I worked out a few details for the written pattern. She sent me a picture wearing it when she’d just received it. I hadn’t told her when it was posted as I thought a surprise would be really welcome in this bleugh time. Her little face was a picture of joy, so I can hardly ask her to send it back. So, I’m starting another and this time trying to be a little bit more professional about things…!

I’m so enjoying making these large granny squares. My hand feels most comfortable using this fairly fine DK wool blend with a 4 mm hook. This is what I often crochet when I make telephone calls. I wear my hands free ear pods and we chat about all sorts while I do some hooky.

I started the blues and greys square on holiday in September, in Cornwall. I bought a couple of balls of Hayfield Spirit DK yarn, a wool blend, and a hook in Penzance. It was pure pleasure sitting up in bed in the earlyish morning, in our holiday house further west, looking at the sea views, with the sun sparkling on the water. 

Sadly I can’t get any more of the yarn at the moment. Wah! I contacted Sirdar as I’d searched on many yarn company websites for the colour shades I need next and it’s a no-go. I can get maybe one colour blend, but not all. Apparently the lack of availability is down to Covid and Brexit. The terrible twins.

Still, there’s plenty here to keep my hands busy. What about you? Tell me what you’re making and busy with, please.

Yarn Along – January

I’ve got some ends to darn on my cowl. I can send it to my friend tomorrow and then it’s officially my first make of 2021. Done. I’ll write up the pattern tomorrow.

I snuck into the Post Office yesterday to buy stamps when it was quiet in there, because the fewer the people, the better. The fewer the shops I go into at all, the better. Preferably one Grocery Delivery a week and if we haven’t got it, we’re not having it.

The News here is grim: we hear the number of deaths every day (I read this morning that we reached the total number of deaths in Australia in just one 24 hour period) that there’s a staggeringly high rate of new infections with the mutated virus which is more easily transmitted, and the NHS is close to being overwhelmed. I have had people who live abroad contact me, concerned about the news from the UK and about our third Lockdown, which came into force on Tuesday. Some are surprised. They thought we had it more under control here….

I am glad for books and reading. It’s even better than tv or films, for absorbing myself in other worlds and times. I read until 01:15 this morning. I feel very bleary today, but I got so wrapped up in Sophie Hannah’s Haven’t They Grown. Here’s a brief outline; Beth hasn’t seen her friend Flora for a dozen years, she passes her former friend’s area while taking her son to a match. Parking by her house, Beth sees the children again. Not sounding very exciting? Well the thing is that they are still precisely the same. Still three and five years old, twelve years later. What’s going on?

I’ve now read 58% of the book and really hoping the mystery isn’t going to be a massive let-down at the end. My mind is powering through all sorts of ‘explanations’ I tell you. Absorbing stuff.

I’m listening to Jess Kidd’s Things in Jars, this couldn’t be more different. Set in Victorian London it’s the tale of Bridie Devine, an unconventional lady detective who is hired to solve a very tricksy kidnapping. As with The Hoarder (Titled Mr Flood’s Last Resort in the USA) Jess Kidd writes in a very compelling way. She has such a unique style of description. The audio isn’t going fast enough, always the sign of a good book for me, so I’m listening to a chapter or two and reading a few as I go too.

Please take a few minutes to leave a comment: tell me what you’re knitting or crocheting? Tell me if you’re reading anything good, or is it bad? Is it awful? Are you just about to give up and pick something else? Maybe you’re not reading at all; you’re binge watching Netflix instead?

I know you’re still reading these posts, I see my WordPress stats and familiar names of readers on Bloglovin’ who have read for years and years. It was my NINE YEAR blog anniversary on New Year’s Eve, so WP informed me. Wheee! Can’t believe it’s been so long. I really appreciate you checking in every time I write, but it’s feeling increasingly like I’m calling into the wind. Tell me something hey? Anything. I’m winking at you.

Happy New Year!

A snapshot of some of my last day of 2020 and the first of the New Year yesterday.

Home based and staying local, as it must be right now, it’s been cosy.

Baking: Spice Biscuits – AKA the less snappily named Edible Tree Decorations by Nigella. I’ll be baking these again as they’ve been voted ‘delicious’ by my nearest and dearest. Made for a New Year’s Day afternoon tea, they are perfect with a cup of tea. I made glacé icing and drizzled it with a teaspoon. Next time I’d use Clementine juice with the icing sugar, it would go so well with the spice.

Drinking: Taittinger to see the New Year in, after Zooming with friends in Scotland

Eating: cheese & biscuits

Spotting: gorgeous wreaths, it’s wreath heaven around here. I’ve got photos of 35 different wreaths I snapped on a short walk on Christmas Eve, this is another I spotted on New Year’s Eve

Walking: on New Year’s Eve it was a bright, but freezing afternoon. It has typically been 2° all day all week, sometimes with a scouring wind. As we turned around to walk home fog rolled in across the ridge, turning to look behind us we could barely see the path we’d just walked…

Enjoying: some of the last sourdough loaf of 2020 on New Year’s Day, eaten with smoked salmon, cream cheese, a squeeze of lemon juice and a grind of black pepper

Making: knitting my mustard & grey cowl. I know I can’t wear mustard yellow but I started knitting this anyway and hoped it might magically suit me. I tried it on and as usual looked jaundiced…d’oh! Mustard socks only it is. I offered this cowl to Facebook friends and one of my best possible people jumped at it. So pleased. She has 5 dogs and walks them at dawn, the cowl will help to keep her warm. I’m using Paintbox Simply Chunky yarn.

I’ve sent plenty of knitting and crochet makes to charities, but there’s always something really special about making for friends and family, knowing you’ll be keeping them cosy.

Goal setting: I set a challenge at the beginning of last year to Walk 1,000 miles again. Totting up the final score yesterday I found I had walked 1,056 miles in 2020. So, this year I’m upping my goal to Walk 1,100 miles. The first walk of the New Year was wonderful. Another crispy cold day with lots of icy puddles and glinty foliage as the frost melted, raucous ducks who seemed to be laughing at a filthy joke and a fun chat with a Mum who had roller skates for Christmas and who was practising her skills. Such a refreshing change to see an adult with a new Christmas present. Usually it’s children’s shiny new bicycles, scooters and bells… (and weary Dads carrying them.)

What were your highlights of the last and first days of 2020 and 2021?

Happy New Year to you – let’s hope we can go further afield and meet up with more of our special people this year. Fingers crossed that things change for the better in 2021.

Taking Stock – December

Making: knitting a chunky yellow and grey cowl

Cooking: chicken, bacon & puy lentil soup. I’ve had a run on making chicken soup; one week with noodles, another with diced potato. So good to leave in the slow cooker to cook, while I do other things. Ready to dish up when it’s dinner. Easy and tasty

Sipping: Brewdog’s Zealots Heart gin

Reading: A Literary Christmas – a lovely collection of writing and poems put together by The British Library. It was delivered last night

Waiting: for Christmas dinner! My favourite roast ever

Looking: at all the lights on houses, trees and in gardens. Love them!

Listening: to a beautiful song on the radio: Love is a Compass by Griff. It was used in a Disney Ad. The cute ad gave me tingles!

Wishing: for a dry afternoon / evening as we’re going to walk a Christmas lights trail

Enjoying: my new Let’s Knit and Inside Crochet magazines, a real treat. I also bought some new wool at my lovely local yarn shop, to knit another Edenvale Cowl. I wear my other all the time when walking. The chill wind can’t get me!

Appreciating: this year’s quiet build up to Christmas, it feels a lot less frantic

Eating: mince pies laced with cognac, brandy & port

Liking: some of the new Christmas songs, others are dreadful, naming no names (Robbie Williams!)

Loving: HFW Refried Beans recipe from his Veg book, I made them to go with tacos last night

Buying: crunchy veg for a Red Cabbage, Apple & Walnut Winter Coleslaw. It will go perfectly with cold cuts next weekend

Managing: to avoid wrapping a single present, it’s always the same every single year. All in a rush at the last minute!

Zoom in to see the water droplets on the branches

Watching: The Prom film on Netflix tonight

Hoping: still the same as everyone else…

Wearing: a furry polo neck top and nightwear, it’s earlyish

Following: the news…dithering about Tiers / Christmas….

Noticing: people wearing funky masks, a guy had a great Movember type one on yesterday, I told him I liked it, of course. Maybe he grinned? So hard to tell. He did thank me

Sorting: baubles, on Tuesday, when we bring the tree in to decorate

Getting: excited

Bookmarking: recipes for January. I’ve found this Slow cooker Honey Mustard Chicken recipe on BBC Good Food and these Tesco Midweek Meals

Coveting: new clothes! Haven’t bought any this year as not being about to try them on doesn’t work. I’m reluctant to spend lots of time queuing in a PO to return online items which don’t fit (might be repeating other TS posts?)

A carousel 2020 style: sanitiser, covers on some horses to distance people and spaces to queue on ….

Feeling: relaxed

Hearing: birds tweeting in the hedge outside my bedroom window

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Tell me a few Taking Stock type things of your own, please? It’s always good to hear from you

The brightest cowl in the world

Done! That’s three completed things, and now onto the next…

It’s not quite as luminous and glary as it comes out in photos, but it definitely isn’t a subtle colour.

What are you making at the moment? Have you just finished anything?

Definitely not grey!

Knitting: I’m currently finishing off knitting the ribbing on my Heinz cowl. It’s obviously named for their brightly coloured tomato soup….

It’s most of a ball of leftover Stylecraft Special DK matador from the William Morris blanket I made for Mum five years ago. I didn’t want to incorporate it into my knitted stripy blanket and this will keep someone’s neck cosy.

It’s plain knitting and was again started when I was searching for something easy, which wouldn’t make my hands hurt. Once again surprise-surprise there was no such thing and so I don’t think you’ve ever seen this either. It was definitely last year, if not before, because I asked one of my nieces if they liked red. I thought she might want it. Without even seeing it or knowing why I was asking, her nose wrinkled and she said “No, not red.” Ask an honest question, get an honest answer! No worries. I know where I’ll pass it on.

Thanks to my friend Phil, here’s the pattern I used, for an easy guide as to how many stitches to cast on.

Reading: although the last book in the Scottish Bookshop series was full of typos and had a complete lack of editing, (including the wrong character’s name in a sentence!) I have returned to Jenny Colgan. Her books are warm and cosy. You know exactly what you’re getting and they’re just so nice. After reading a thriller, full of terrorism, multiple gory deaths and a shed load of swearing, I fancied something light and nice for December. So, I’m reading 500 Miles from you.

The beginning surprised me rather and I wondered if Jenny is out to totally change her blueprint, but it’s settling down into very familiar territory now. There’s an important message there about signing up to something which might be vitally important for others, but I’m not giving you any spoilers.

Joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along.

Why I still love blogs

I was reading someone’s blog a few weeks ago and she said that although she uses and enjoys all the socials…Instagram, Twitter and Facebook…a lot, she will never ever stop reading and following blogs. This statement really resonated with me and I’ve been mulling it over.

Inspiration and pretty pictures are great on Instagram. I get a lot of that from IG, as well as exchanging quick, sometimes funny, messages with peeps. But blogging is different; to me it’s 3-D rather than 2-D. I think because the longer that you read, the more you get a sense of someone and what they’re about. You can feel you really have a relationship with them, sometimes it’s completely one sided. Often it’s mutual and becomes a source of warm friendly messages from the other side of the world, the other side of the country, or just a few miles away! There are a few bloggers who I’ve ended up meeting, a few have become very good friends.

Seeing what they’re making take shape from the first few stitches chained or cast on, to progress pics as time goes on and then the finished item is like watching a wonderful slow tv programme.

I haven’t even really mentioned all the tutorials, the patterns, useful tips and the sharing of links! A helpful blog will tell you the yarn they’ve used, link to the pattern or their Ravelry account etc where you can find out even more.

It’s not all craft – I tend to follow blogs which also post lifestyle content. I like to know what they’re cooking, what they’re reading, maybe see pictures of their garden or walks they’ve been on recently. A few pictures of their city, town or village maybe too and I’m hooked! 

Later I read someone else saying about blog comments. She said she really values and appreciates the time and the effort it takes people to leave them. She was glad that they were still generous in writing to her. I had a feeling that there was a little bit more behind it, that she’d noticed the mega amounts of comments she used to receive had significantly gone down in the last few years. We exchanged messages about it. I suspect it’s mostly a time and immediacy thing. A quick double tap to ‘like’ a post on Instagram gives instant feedback. Perhaps people maybe don’t want to put long messages out there on public record. I know I’ve often privately messaged in response to heartfelt blog posts, or with a silly but friendly response.

Incidentally I sometimes find reading one blog post at a time as they’re published a bit lacking; I really want to read a whole batch of posts and settle down with a mug of tea and have a good read. Do you do this too?

Then I began to wonder why it was that I wasn’t advertising the blogs that I read on my own? A few years ago I remember taking the widget of links off when I reorganised things, and I’m not quite sure why I didn’t reinstate it. If I’m serious about loving blogs still, I wondered if I should be advertising the ones I follow? Then others might do the same and refresh their lists, so current blogs are still getting attention and a bit of publicity. After all, there’s no point having loads of links to non-existent or inactive sites. I needed to put a refreshed list up, so that’s what I’ve been working on.

I dip in and out of many more blogs than those I’ve linked to so far, but I wanted to share my must-reads. Even if it takes me six weeks or months to catch up, they are the ones that I read and have followed for years. It’s quality, not quantity for me.

I came across an old crochet blog the other day, I think I was following a link to a pattern on Pinterest, and it had not been updated for years. The blog list was amazing! It included all the people I followed in 2009/10 when I discovered craft blogs and blogging. I felt like I’d discovered a precious time capsule. Is it daft to feel kind of nostalgic for those days of sitting in front of a slow lap top, its noisy fan whirring as I caught up with what people were making, at the end of a busy day? Now (well, pre-March 2020) I’ll jump at speed from page to page while on a bus or train, waiting for an appointment to come up or when I’m on a break. Things have really changed now and nostalgia aside, I’m happy to have a fast little computer in my handbag or pocket, whenever I want it. Magical really isn’t it?!

It was sobering to realise, looking through my previous list of links, how many of my favourite blogs aren’t active anymore. Some still post once or twice a year (better than nothing) some have deleted their blogs completely, with handfuls of untethered pictures still floating around the Internet, others attempted to start new blogs to reflect where they were now (then) but if you search for them, they are just a blank page with a title. One domain has been taken over by a Korean handbag seller. The new blogs just never took off. The initial enthusiasm of blogging leached away over the years. They felt like they’d said the same things over and over again. The rhythms and routines of the seasons and years became a drag, not a comfort. They were bored with their own words and pictures. I get it. People move on, hobbies change, lifestyles change, relationships end and priorities shift. Work can leave little time for planning, photographing and writing something and sending it off into the ether. It takes time and energy. If blogging begins to feel like a task and work, it is far from fun. (I don’t feel like this. If I did, I’d be gone!)

Off the top of my head, these are some blogs that I used to love:

Pink Milk, Greedy for Colour, Cozy Made Things, Crochet with Raymond, Le Monde de Sucrette, According to Matt, Foxs Lane, Dottie Angel, Little Tin Bird and Rachelle Blondel’s that I think was named after her grandparents i.e. Ethel and Ernest or Olive and Stanley. I can’t remember their names! So many more, who will probably come to me as soon as I press publish.

I never sit down at my laptop to read blogs anymore. I never post mine from my laptop anymore. I usually dictate my posts because it saves my hands nowadays. I publish my posts mostly on my iPhone, and read others’ blogs on my iPad. Sitting back down at my laptop today reminded me of years ago when I started this blog; it felt old fashioned to type actual blog names into a search bar. I enjoyed seeing a full sized screen of pretty pictures, there are also the sidebars that you don’t really get to see on a mobile view. (My new blog links are at the bottom on the mobile site, by the way.) The lap top reminded me that dodgy ill lit photos you can get away with on an enhanced all singing all dancing iPhone or iPad, do not necessarily look so well on a laptop!

So what about you: Why do you still read blogs? Do you also think they offer something more than other social media? Have I missed something obvious? Which are your favourites, are your blog links up-to-date? Do you have any you want to recommend? I’m up for a bit of a blog tour, if you want to lead the way.

* Yes, I got a bit carried away in my own photo archive by the end. I forget what I’ve made!

Taking stock – October

Making: my Granny Square blanket and Close to You scarf. I’m focusing on just these two and not dipping into other WIP bags. Some actual finished items would be good

Cooking: soup! It’s that time of year again. Last week it was BNS, Sweet Potato & Red Pepper, yesterday I made this Spicy Parsnip recipe

Sipping: drinking black Yorkshire tea

Reading: City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

Looking: at the birdfeeders, there’s some interest but not much eating yet. They’re stocked up with peanuts, seeds, mealworms and suet balls

Listening: to comedy audio rather than novels: Alan Partridge From the Oasthouse, French & Saunders Titting About podcast, This is This Country and Mortimer & Whitehouse Gone Fishing. All are on Audible UK. (That’s a pure recommendation – no commission, sadly.)

Enjoying: pics of my nieces at the seaside

Eating: lots of veg – sweet potatoes, celery, carrots, parsnips, BNS, cauliflower, swede, carrots, fine green beans…

Liking: all the autumn colour

Blenheim Palace

Loving: the WhatsApp group I’ve set up with friends – inspiring each other with recipes and motivation for keeping going with healthy habits

Buying: a few Christmas presents! Unplanned, but I saw things and thought oooh yes. Feeling organisedish

Watching: Rebecca on Netflix soon – it’s out today. A few rooms at Waddesdon Manor were used as filming locations

Another Dorset apple cake baked on Friday to share with family. We’re awash with Bramley cooking apples after all

Hoping: the same as you all…over…soon…

Wearing: scruffs!

Following: the news but not too much, a general overview of things feels like enough

Noticing: changes in the trees and hedgerows

Sorting: practical things ready for winter, inc getting the heating system sussed out and quotes for hedge and tree trimming

There’s also a bit of a glut of homegrown chillies. They’re ripening even in the fridge

Getting: outside everyday

Saving: money, on all the things we aren’t doing and places we aren’t visiting. Plus no clothes shopping for literally months either, I can’t do the no-trying-on thing and am not a fan of online clothes shopping (much queuing in busy POs for the inevitable returns!)

Bookmarking: autumn warmer recipes like this Mushroom Bhaji

Feeling: positive

Hearing: birds tweeting in the hedge

Tell me what you’re doing, noticing, making, cooking, reading or ?

Autumn

I love autumn, I always have. I’m glad we have four distinct seasons here. Fancy a rather rambling read? You’ve come to the right place.

Cooking:

The drop in temperature has meant the food I cook has changed. Plus I definitely gravitate towards a glass of red wine more too. And why not? It warms the blood.

The change of weather and a bounty of homegrown and wild produce seems to have perked up friends lately too. Recently I’ve had WhatsApps about:

T and her pots of rhubarb and ginger jam

T and his apple crumble / beef and ale pie

S made a chicken and tarragon pie

E made a huge apple pie

P is delighted that Yorkshire tea have made biscuit flavoured tea bags and says her tea drinking times have just improved!

N has been looking up crabapple recipes

B dusted off her slow cooker and made a beef and ale stew

I adore messages like those!

I’ve made Dorset apple cakes to share with family, plus tried a new bread recipe for a ginger and sultana loaf from my WI Bread book. It’s a winner! Message me and I’ll send you the recipe.

I’ve taken a few comfort food cookbooks off the shelf to get more inspiration.

What are you cooking at the moment? Have you made anything new, or an old favourite?

Crafting:

We talked about a long walk and tackling some chores in the house and garden, but after a long call from a friend and a heavy downpour went into hibernation mode instead the other day. We listened to This is This Country and roared with laughter. (Best if you already know the tv series.)

Lately I’ve sat up in the early morning with a podcast or audio book and done a round or two of crochet. It is a nice lazy way to start the day. I recommend Lisa Jewell’s Invisable Girl audio book.

I’m sticking to my Close to You scarf and Big Granny Square blanket. I’m trying not to flit around with lots of different makes, but am committing to a few. Both are easy going and not too taxing for my iffy hands.

For the GSB I’m wondering about going off-piste and buying more Hayfield Spirit yarn in different colourways. It would be a multi-multi coloured blanket. Here’s the full selection of colours from the Sirdar website. What do you reckon?

Casper might be fun for a scarf.

Walking:

It’s gorgeous weather for walks. No sunscreen or multiple water bottles to lug around anymore as it’s now 10° less, or more, than this time a couple of weeks ago. Time to get the woollies out again! We all like an excuse to show off our homemades.

There’s an abundance of berries, a friend I met for lunch said she thinks it means we’re in for a hard winter. Is that right?

In the hedgerows in fields near home there are: crabapples, sloes, haws, the last blackberries, acorns, conkers, sycamore helicopters and ash keys. It’s fantastic.

‘Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ …full poem here.

Last weekend we drove home in the dark and AN OWL WAS SITTING ON THE WHITE LINE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD! I think he’d just caught a little creature running across the road and was pinning it down. 

If the low light levels and gloomy days are feeling a little bit tricky, combined with everything else at the mo, here’s a tiny rather silly little thing you can do. I bought a really cheap set of glitter gel pens from The Works and now write lists using a different colour for each item. Someone told me it’s like I’m 13 years old, but I don’t care! My shopping and freezer lists are really pretty and colourful on the front of the fridge. They’re making me smile.

How are you finding autumn?

Maybe it’s Spring where you are? What are you up to?

Breaking my own rule

I know I said I’d do a lucky dip delve into my craft box to come up with bags containing mystery items. I’d concentrate on finishing, or unravelling, long ago started things before starting anything new, but blame my friend.

She messaged me last week with two shawl pattern pics asking which one she should pick. Then I say a day or so later that I really have an urge to knit.

“What’s prompted that?”

“You, you lemon!”

Ha!

Digging through my craft cube I found yarns I’d forgotten all about, some really nice stuff that’s been tucked away for a lonnnng time. I’d done that deadly thing of keeping it ‘for best’ and it ended up there for years. Today is the day I decided. Just make something, anything, with it.

Life’s a bit like that in general at the moment, isn’t it? On Simon Mayo’s Books of the Year podcast author Sabine Durrant said that she’s always finished books, no matter whether she’s enjoying them, or not. However now she will give up on some. It’s the same sort of thing. This year is making us think about some aspects of life a little differently.

It’s really pretty. The colourway is Spiced Plum and it’s by Fyberspates. It’s 100% merino 4 ply. Very pretty. I bought it years ago in iknit in Waterloo, London. I googled to see if they still sell it and found the shop has closed. I can’t find any more information about when, why or if they’ve moved. What a shame.

I’d kind of forgotten that with luxury skeins of hand-dyed yarn you can’t simply pick them up and start knitting; before you begin there’s hard manual labour to do!

I don’t know about you, but I can spend a very long time looking through patterns trying to decide what to make. This time I just went straight to things already saved in my Ravelry library and picked the first shawl pattern I saw: Close to You by Justyna Lorkowska.

Later I messaged my friend as actually it seems we’re doing a Knit Along! She didn’t pick either shawl in the end, but went for a pattern she’s used before. Here is hers in progress  and here’s mine (there was a knot and undyed piece of merino unfortunately, so I had to cut it. That’s why there’s a trailing end and separate ball. Beautifully hand wound, I think you’ll agree?)

What are you up to at the mo? Are you thinking life’s too short to save yarn for best, do you carry on reading books you’re not enjoying etc?

Sit down! She’s tried knitting again

Apologies for any shock experienced – but I wanted to quickly pop in (twee blogging cliche alert, sorry) to show you what I tried yesterday!

I knit two rows of my stripy garter stitch blanket and my hand felt fine during and after. This is the first time I’ve knit anything since last July.

I’m not going to push it any more than two rows at a time for now. They’re long and I’m going carefully, so it probably takes me between 10-15 minutes which is fine.

I’ve always really liked the saying: Slow Progress is Better Than No Progress and it feels particularly apt today.

Anyone who’s followed the lament of my hand injury since last April (I know, it’s been over a year now…) knows this is big news. BIG NEWS. Yep I’m shouting.

2018

Today is my blog’s seventh birthday!

Here’s my very first post on New Year’s Eve 2011. My blog content hasn’t really changed at all from what I proposed on that very first post. I still enjoy writing it and sharing my photos, thank you for reading. It would be like pointlessly talking to myself, if not for you.

Hello and Welcome to new readers. I’ve felt surprised, and frankly delighted, that so many of you have started following this blog during the last year, even with the minimal craft content. Thank you also to my regular readers, I know some of you have been coming here for years now. I love hearing from you.

This year I haven’t been able to make much, as you know. I injured my hand in April and I am (not) enjoying a period of enforced rest from all craft. Of course it’s also affected other aspects of day to day life. I’ve had to learn to ask for help, and accept that there are just things that I cannot/should not do. Things are definitely improving, but it’s very gradual.

Reading last year’s round up post I see I did tempt fate by confidently stating I’d have at least one finished sock to show at the end of this year. Has this year been all about the curse of the sock….?

If you fancy seeing my previous annual round ups, they’re all here:

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017

Has anybody been with me from the beginning?

 

I hope 2019 is a fabulous year for you, that you are happy, healthy and content.

Happy New Year!

 

 

Taking Stock – July

Making : smoked salmon pate – recipe here

Cooking : all things sourdough, still. Flatbreads and pizza happened this weekend. Hobbs House Bakery sourdough recipes are excellent. I’ve tried crumpets, flatbreads, pizza, no-knead sourdough and have a few more things bookmarked to try. The HH boys are from a long line of English professional family bakers, and their recipes are A1

I left the dough an hour while I faffed around, before shaping, it made really light and holey pizza. The rectangular pizza was much thinner and crispy. I like both thin crust and deep pan

Adoring: no-knead sourdough cooked in my charity shop treasure. The moisture in the bread means it cooks in its own steam. You then take the lid off for the last bit to burnish the top. It needs to be just this side of burnt for the flavour and crustiness.

Look at the texture! All the folding and stretching every 30-40 minutes was well worth it

Drinking: too much cider. Lots at the Mock Mayor celebrations while we watched the Abingdon Morris Men, heard the speeches and sang along to the excellent Indie Band. Head not so good in the morning, but sometimes it’s worth it…

Reading: The Eve Network and The Dust that Falls from Dreams still, the first is set in WW1, the other WW2. It’s tricky at times not to get mixed up

Wanting: another pint of jasmine tea

Playing: with dough every few days

Deciding: not to for a bit

Wishing: bread wasn’t so calorific, it’s so good

Enjoying: Victoria Wood as seen on TV – on Netflix

Waiting: to remember what I wrote the first time, before my iPhone lost my draft …argh! You just know the first draft was wittier and more interesting. Soz, you’re stuck with this one

Liking: my photos from Saturday’s meet up with a good friend at Cliveden. The hotel is where Meghan Markle spent the night before she married Prince Harry

Wondering: whether I can go for a walk again today. I’ve been having double physio as my knee has been painful for a few months too. Craft and walking longer distances have both been banned, it’s been slightly tedious to say the least, but happily I think I’m coming out the other side now

Loving: Unforgotten on Netflix. I’ve only seen the first 2 episodes of series 1 and it’s so good, really quality TV. I’m behind as usual – series 3 is on tv at the mo

Considering: a clothes shopping trip

Buying: tomatoes. I have a row of bowls with tomatoes at various stages of ripening. It’s a very good summer thing

Watching: Poldark, I’m 3 episodes behind the current series and it ended on Sunday night. I don’t want to hear any end of series spoilers, so need to catch up soon
Hoping: for more rain, the animals, farmers and gardens need it

Marvelling: how full the water butt is after a day of sporadic rain on Sunday, but it’s just a drop in the ocean

Cringing: –

Needing: another car

Questioning: lots

Smelling: the roses

Wearing: linen trousers, rolled up at a jaunty angle and a stripy tee which I feel emphasises the rolls of a sourdough loving body rather too much!

Look at the dryness of that grass, can you see how little rain we’ve had in the last few months?

Pondering: when I’ll be able to knit again. I have tried but it’s just too painful, crocheting in short bursts seems okay though. I now have a referral with an orthopaedic consultant pending

Following: The News

Knowing: that song ‘Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think’ is apt

Thinking: I must get my reading back up to speed

Admiring: how I always used to read a book a week without fail

Sorting: my crochet; I unravelled my pineapple crochet last night. I can never see a time when I will actually use a string crochet pineapple bag. I’d rather be seen dead than carrying one in real life!

Getting: keen to find some interesting crochet patterns. Even if it’s restricted to 10 minutes every now and then, I’d like to be making something I love

Bookmarking: any exciting looking patterns

Coveting: one of those big colour change balls, you know; by that company that no one can spell or properly pronounce beginning with Schj? Maybe with that song in mind, I’ll just buy one!

Disliking: wildly fast drivers who assume that no one else is on the road, crossing the road, living by the road

Opening: my Ravelry library

Giggling: at Mamma Mia 2 although the change of timeline was perplexing

Feeling: amused about the above, whenever I make bold statements like that things usually change… Look out for me and my re-crocheted pineapple string bag in the near future

Snacking: on the usual – no prize for guessing

Helping: a friend with local dinner recommendations

Hearing: an aeroplane

Mixing: courgette tzatziki

Worrying: that I haven’t eaten enough fruit and vegetables in the last few days, this is unusual. More carrots!!!

Grabbing: a stitch holder for my hair, it did the job keeping it up! Sign of a true crafter?!

Slicing: cucumber & carrots to go with homemade hummus later for lunch, maybe

Celebrating: summertime

Forgetting: at least three things, no doubt

Winning: tonight’s EuroMillions lottery draw?

Sneaking: around at night watching for the hedgehog(s)

Embracing: the lovely people around me

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

Thank you for sticking with a craft blog which hasn’t been able to feature any craft for several months now!

How are you doing?

10 from this week

1. We can put our food recycling waste in any kind of plastic bag now, rather than having to buy the compostable ones. I know in other areas you can simply put it straight into the recycling bin, but sadly we can’t. This is at least a good way to use some of the plastic packaging that comes with everything. At least it’s being reused for something, rather than going straight to the rubbish bin.

2. My sourdough bread baking fever continues, albeit with fewer larger holes then I would like, but I’m going to go back to trying the second prove in the fridge overnight, and maybe doing a no-knead version, folding and stretching the dough instead. I asked Kat Goldin (sourdough baker extraordinare) about the secret to good holey SD and she said that you don’t want it too holey or the butter gets out! She’s my kind of girl.

3. This was my amazing Monday find. It kept me smiling broadly for at least another two days after that. You know when you pop into a charity shop, not really looking for anything in particular but just wandering? Well I turned away from the bookshelves and saw this beautiful cast-iron pot. It’s my favourite colour red and completely unmarked. I grabbed it as fast as I could, instinctively. I couldn’t see a price on it and didn’t want to put it down, (mine!) it was love at first sight. I asked the assistant how much it was and I nearly dropped it on both our feet when she located the label and told me it was £3. I’ve never moved to a till so speedily! It’s 24 cm across and the 28 cm version of this brand sells new for around £45. I’ve never come across such an amazing charity shop find. It’s pure treasure. I’ve already road-tested it by cooking a one pot chicken and rice thing on the hob and oven. It’s absolutely superb, what a bargain.

Incidentally I’ve had my personal Facebook account since 2007, in that time I’ve posted all sorts of really important life events and celebrations. But do you know which post garnered the fastest likes/loves ever? Yep, it’s these pictures which I excitedly took when I put my treasure into the boot of the car.

4. Another find in another charity shop on the same day, not that I bought this, but my it brought back some memories. It’s just like a set my family had when I was very young. I have seen Kiln Craft on old TV sitcoms, but I don’t recall coming across a whole collection. This was priced much more realistically at £28 for the set.

5. A quick walk through the library and the cover of this book just jumped out at me, it made me chuckle.

6. I thought you’d like to see my Edenvale Cowl after blocking, it makes such a difference to lace. This weather is perfect for blocking and drying thick items. I’m really pleased with this knit. I did try it on and was thinking about doing a photo, but really it looked ridiculous as I was wearing a spaghetti strap top with bare arms!

7. Naughty, naughty Wednesday morning breakfast but these sourdough pancakes are delicious. I took the recipe from Tastes of Lizzy T blog. It’s good, too good. If you know what I mean.

8. A new lunchtime dish I made: it’s baba ganoush. You grill whole aubergines until the skin is blackened then scoop out and chop the soft flesh. Mix with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Delicious with toasted pitta or flatbread, a few olives and salad.

The recipe is from Paul Hollywood’s Bread book which I’ve borrowed from a relative. It’s got a good range of bread recipes, and for each bread there is one for an accompanying dish. The photography is beautiful and I want to make a lot from it.

The ingredients for salmon pate are on my shopping list for next week’s lunches. Needless to say I’ve added the book to my birthday wishlist.

9. A kilo of gooseberries picked from my Mother’s garden turned into my first ever batch of goosegog jam. I’m all about raspberry jam usually in summertime, but I’m glad I’ve made this because it is delicious, as you can see from the mere half remaining of one of the jars, after just a few days of opening. I’ve only eaten it once on two crumpets and it’s going down so quickly that I’ve grabbed another jar and put my initials all over the label! His and hers jam seems a good plan….!

10. Today I’ve baked my first loaves of bread in my 2lb tins for over a month. I’m now calling this doddly bread; as in it’s a doddle with commercial yeast. Does what it says on the tin! Unlike sourdough which dilly dallies. As the kitchen’s so warm, with our continuing high temps, the bread dough rose as fast as anything, sooo easy.

Are you busy in the kitchen? Have you found any treasure lately? What’s made you laugh this week?

Yarn Along with actual yarn! Whoop!

As I’m working up to trying some crochet or knitting in the next week, or so, I thought it would be good to accomplish something crafty, even if it was pretty small.

Back in April when my wrist, hand and elbow were at their most painful, the thought of even holding the cowl in my right hand, while darning the ends, felt impossible. I’d been told to stop everything crafty in any case, so left it packed it away with everything else and that was that for three months.

Today felt like I was opening a dusty old trunk in the attic. I fished my Edenvale cowl out, darned in the ends and left it soaking in tepid water with a bit of hair conditioner. I have no fabric softener here and so I tried that, without rinsing, to see if it will soften the rather scratchy pure wool. If it feels slimey when dry I suppose I can always gently rinse it out.

And here it is painstakingly blocked out to ensure it’s 11 1/2” wide. Just this bit of finishing has made me feel like I want to crack open a bottle of champagne and celebrate: I’M BACK!

Yep, I know I should try to stay calm as it’s a really tiny step and I’m not expecting to start churning out blankets or that sock anytime soon, but isn’t this progress all the same? I’ve darned and blocked something I’ve made and enjoyed it very much. Hashtag: huge sense of accomplishment!

Tonight I’m going to start reading The Alice Network by Kate Quinn. One of my sister in laws recommended it to me. She’d read it for her book club and thought it was a book I’d enjoy. Have you read it? Coincidently I’ve just started a new audio book today as well: The Dust that Falls from Dreams by Louis de Bernieres. After hearing Louis on the new Simon Mayo’s Books of the Year podcast (it’s available for Android users too. No paid advertising here; I’m just a keen listener) talking about the second book in the planned trilogy So Much Life Left Over I thought I’d better get the first, before plunging straight into the second. The Dust that Falls from Dreams begins in the Edwardian age, Queen Victoria has just died and her son King Edward VII is just about to be crowned. The story focuses upon Rose and her three sisters who are growing up in a privileged, but eccentric family in Kent. The first twenty minutes of the book have been enjoyable. I’m often drawn to books set in this period of time, and like books which reveal the lives of a cast of characters. Am I the only person who didn’t read Captain Correlli’s Mandolin? I don’t really know why didn’t, it was a huge hit at the time and everybody seemed to be brandishing a copy. I haven’t even seen the film. Yet…

 

Joining in (properly!) this month with Ginny’s Yarn Along.

The good news and the bad news

Well, my thinking was that after nearly five weeks not doing any craft at all it was sensible to try a little of everything. You want to go to the initial physio assessment with up-to-date knowledge about what hurts and exactly where. I took the exactly part of it literally; this morning I drew 2 biro crosses on the areas of my elbow which hurt the most. I reckon people thought I was going in for cosmetic surgery as I have massive issues with….one of my elbows!

Last night with this in mind I’d started off with a bit of garter stitch knitting on my big stash buster blanket. I did two rows which is five hundred stitches. It all felt ok, too ok really considering that on my call with the medical insurance people I’d said it’s a pain level of 9/10 when I do anything, and 6/10 resting. It was back then, but maybe not so much now. It seemed common sense to move on to some crochet, just to properly test the water. I did four rows, or so, of the grape. Then swapped to the green and completed the block, while watching the penultimate episode of The BBC’s The Woman in White. So far, so good, which is fine, but have I healed myself and what will I say to the physio?

It all felt a bit iffy really this morning, but not so bad. Not a 9/10 anyway. Next stop was a bit of the dreaded sock, if this caused the problem before I should see how it feels now. Wow I did feel fuzzy about what to do and where I’d got to. Plus I had to look again at how to pick up the side stitches, where to put which needle and so on. I opted for a crochet hook then slipping them onto a second DPN this time. I’m now at the same point I’d got to before. Next time I’ll be breaking new ground, hurray!

I can’t tell you how much I loved my crochet time last night and the sock knitting today. All the focusing and concentrating on new skills again, the satisfaction I felt was immense. It was like after a session of meditation or yoga, complete calm had descended. I really miss my yarn.

I took my sock knitting when I went to see the physio this afternoon, just to show him how teeny the silly little needles are (I actually do love them) and how the yarn is wrapped around my fingers. I mimed the repetitive movements you make. I told him how I’d got too involved in redoing a section in April, totally immersed in the sock knitting zone for far, far too long. He laughed, but that’s ok as I saw him about 18 months ago when I had a knee injury, and so he’s got an idea of what I’m like. At least it wasn’t full on laugher like some years ago when I had to answer the ‘What caused this injury’ question and had to admit it was kneading bread. She laughed like a drain. That was a bit weird.

It was actually a pretty enjoyable appointment, I always like a good chat with nice people; I asked if he and his fiancée had got into using the new ice cream maker? I remembered she’d said they both needed to lose weight, then gave him an ICM for Christmas 2016. The they’ve made is chocolate with marshmallows mixed in apparently.  Actually, he told me she’s now his wife and he looked pretty happy when he mentioned their August wedding. Later he was using jabby fingers stabbing them into my wrist, hand and elbow joint and bending the joints in various ways to assess the pain, he stopped with a concerned expression in response to my “Ow, oh my goodness!”

“Did it really hurt there?”

NO, it’s your description of dislocating your finger playing rugby!” (It was sticking out sideways. He then paused to demonstrate and show me the resultant swelling. Ouch.)

When asked on the telephone assessment what aspects of life is your injury affecting, I’d tried to think of specific examples, without lazily responding “Everything.” Consequently he had quite a list in front of him: driving; holding the steering wheel, holding a handset to talk on the ‘phone, texting, lifting a kettle, or a watering can, any crafting and the last, which made him laugh (again): putting on mascara. Why is that one funny? One eye done and the other naked, might be more of a hilarious sight me thinks. It’s time for a ‘Men?! What are they like?! Huh!’ I reckon.

Good news first? I always request the positives to sweeten what comes later.

The good news: I called for an assessment Friday, I got an appointment for today Tuesday. Fast.

I’d exactly done the right thing resting it for so long.

He could see my thinking about testing it before the appointment, but it was not that clever a thing to do (it does really hurt now and I should not be typing this, but we bloggers waffle suffer for our craft. Wait, should I move this bit to the bad news part?!)

It is treatable.

I guessed correctly that it’s tendon stuff.

I have an exercise to repeat 30 times, on both arms. I already have a 1kg dumbbell.

The bad news: He’s booked up next week, so the first really jabby fingers “YOU’RE HURTING ME” appointment isn’t until the first week of June.

The 30 times exercise will aggravate it, it will become more painful, but alternating ice and heat treatments will help the healing. I’m not starting them until after the bank holiday weekend though. I did not tell him this part. Otherwise there will be much sighing and groaning over what should be a relaxed and lovely weekend.

THE BIGGEST BAD NEWS (which isn’t really going to surprise anyone, is it?) NO MORE CRAFTING STILL. Arggghhhhhhhhhhhhh. The lovely Lucy and I had a good chat after her comment on my last post, she really cheered me up and said she hoped I’d stay happy and would send me healing vibes. It worked because I have stayed happy. Rather than crocheting or knitting, I’ve bought some new plants and baked bread, visited some good places and had cups of tea with friends. I do miss all the moments where I pick up needles, a hook or I sew something, but I did do the right thing instinctively by stopping it all. It’s just not much of a craft blog when you’re not able to craft, it is? Thank you very much for stopping by to read and for your caring comments and messages on my last.

I will be back with my monthly Taking Stock post next week.

What about you? How are you doing? Did you watch the wedding? It was lovely, warm glow time here.

PS: Does anyone know where I put my hot water bottle???

Return of the sock

Hello April! It’s nearly the end of the second week already…

I’ve been away on a road trip trip holiday, up to locations in County Durham and Northumblerland, then to Dundee and Aberdeen, in Scotland. After a great time there we headed down to Yorkshire and stayed in Harrogate. I put a few pics on My Instagram account if you want to see.

It was a great trip and included catching up with quite a few friends. I finally went to Seaham to collect sea glass too. That’s something I’ve wanted to do for a few years, or more, since reading about the Victorian glass factory which tipped its waste into the sea. Read here for info, if you’re interested.

Just a selection of what we found (not my hand!)

I’m so pleased with my appropriately Easter egg shaped find!

One of the best bits last weekend was enjoying the company of Trish of Made by Patch blog (you could hassle her nicely about returning to blogging if you like) and Mr Patch over the weekend. The men were off doing their own thing for the morning and we got together for an hour or so. We were sitting in a comfy hotel lobby, on a squashy sofa with all sorts of sock knitting paraphernalia spread around us. It worked well until some bouncy young and very loud South Africans came to the adjacent sofa. But no matter; it was nearly time to meet the group and I’d finally got my sock knitting confidence back.

Over 1,000 miles later and we are home to a bag full of chocolate. It’s one of those Sainsbury’s Bags for Life; they aren’t at all small. We forgot to take any away with us. I’m rationing mine unnaturally well so far, like the good girl that I never was, and so it’s maybe going to last a long time.

You’ll maybe note that the sock above is not quite the sock you see below; the heel part originally purple, is now cream. There is the beginning of a gusset and the circular needles are back in play above. Yes well, I have been named a True Perfectionist by my sock knitting coach Trish but it was not right stitch count wise. I decided it’s not like me to fudge it, especially on the first attempt, as the second sock will have to be too. So, I’ve redone the heel flap to be slightly shorter and turned the heel, this time ending on 20, not 18 stitches. That seems better as I cast on 64. I’ve also taken pains to make sure the foot section will be 32 and not 35! I think it was originally 32 but wrongly placed markers were to probably to blame. I’d started the k2tog and ssk decreases too and decided they would show if I altered the line. I didn’t want to start with the sock on the wrong foot, boom-boom! Ahem.

As the book is a guide rather than an exact pattern, especially you’re casting on more or fewer than 60 stitches, I’m counting everything as I go and making copious notes. I’m hopefully going to be clear about what I’ve done when I come to do the second sock.

It’s fair to say this sock has been a long time in the knitting…

My sock knitting timeline:

June 2016 Trish wins a giveaway including a copy of Christine Perry’s Sock book (all info also available for free on her Winwick Mum blog) but had a copy already so gives it to me

Christine updates the 2015 book and I print out the extra update sheets

Become confused by all of the info, hide it away for a while

May 2017 Buy 2 balls of Regina Design Line ‘Jazz colour’ by Erika Knight yarn and my first 2.5 mm tiny Addi circulars and dpns

Knit the ribbing and knit the leg, it’s fun! I seem to be able to do it!

June 2017 Deep breaths and do the heel flap, that’s ok too. But the next bit? Oh my lord I am confused.

July 2017 Hide or shuffle feet and hum when anyone mentions sock knitting

February 2018 Post a photo on Instagram of the sock so far, because Trish and I have arranged to meet up for a coaching session on April. I tentatively think I might have an actual sock by the end of the year. Maybe even a pair.

April 2018 Meet up on Saturday 7th, turn the heel with Trish knitting along at the same point. She’s a star.

Mr Patch comes back and shows me he is wearing his pair. They’re fab. He loves that they’re so comfortable with no seams which rub. He also complains it took two years to complete them, so I have a feeling he’s angling for more pairs.

Timeline to be continued…..

We got chatting to a woman later that day, surrounded by 8k people (really) who were drinking beer / gin / vodka. She stood out because she was starting a sock, amongst a sea of people who were not knitting. I just had to go and chat to her. She was making a pink and blue Checkerboard sock, her husband heard us chatting and pulled up his jean legs to show us his homemade socks. He loves them he told us. I made absolutely no promises about knitting Someone his own pair!

*If* I ever have a complete sock to show, then get round to another, only then will we see about promises to nearest and dearests.

As well as knitting, I’m reading A Kind Man by Susan Hill. It’s a library book. Last time I went in I found 5 books straight away; so have quite a stack. I’m three quarters of the way through and although I’ve always loved the author’s writing style, I am finding the turn the story’s taken a bit weird. I just wanted to stay looking out at the fields and feeding the chickens for longer. I wonder how it will end?

What are you making and reading? Have you travelled anywhere new recently? Have a Bag for Life full of chocolate too?

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

Taking Stock – March

Making : Triple chocolate brownies (yum!)

Cooking : Thai pork noodles

Drinking : tonic water with ice still as it’s Dry Lent (I always stop on Easter Sunday)

Reading: Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty

Wanting: a variegated yarn cake

Looking: at this gorgeous Hitchhiker in Lion Brand Mandala: Centaur

Playing: The Girl with all the Gifts by M.R Carey – audio book

Deciding: to allow myself to buy a yarn cake – even though I’m stash busting still

Wishing: my elbow was titanium – though it’s better after the rest

Enjoying: 15 minute dramatised episodes of The Old Curiosity Shop on the BBC radio iplayer

Waiting: for two, or more, sunny consecutive days

Liking: my new iPhone

Wondering: what we’ll do in London later

Scilla

Scilla – so pretty

Waterperry Gardens

The long border will be full to bursting in the summer. I love this old wall in any season.

Loving: The Marvellous Mrs Maisel on Amazon Prime – the first 2 anyway

Pondering: buying more jeans

Considering: ?

Buying: toothbrushes

Watching: Shetland – the latest series was brilliant

Hoping: for a dry day today

Marvelling: at the amount of chocolate sold absolutely everywhere this year

Cringing: that my MiL and I have both bought the same egg for Someone! (And laughing too, it is amazing as there are SO many to choose from…!)

Needing: more rubber needle ends

Questioning: why was I wide awake at 0610?!

Smelling: fresh air

The Easter bunny?!

Wearing: none of your business!

Following: blogs I’ve read for years now

Noticing: how you get a nice feeling seeing photos of the same places, people and pets

Knowing: the alarm will go off shortly

Thinking: this is in the nick of time – it’s 31/3!

Admiring: daffodils all along the verges around here

Sorting: to-do lists – tick, tick, tick

Getting: longer nails

Bookmarking: recipes in my Itsu 20 minute suppers library book

Coveting: chocolate!

Disliking: eating too much chocolate

Opening: tomorrow – chocolate!

Giggling: at Tony Blackburn on R2

Feeling: pleased my cowl is nearly finished

Snacking: it’s 0630 – so on nothing

Hearing: birdsong

Worrying: I’ll be sleepy again by 0800

Slicing: brownies for dessert, yesterday

Celebrating: Easter with family

Forgetting: what? There’s bound to be something

Winning: the lottery? Will check last night’s ticket after this…

Pretending: I’m going to portion out Easter chocolate till August

Sneaking: it will be chocolate won’t it?!

Embracing: family, this weekend

If you fancy writing your own Taking Stock list you can find a blank list on Pip’s Meet me at Mike’s blog.

Have a VERY HAPPY EASTER!

Update – knits

“Brilliant kick! Ohh! Get over!” is what I’m hearing from the right side of the room, while I try to gather my thoughts about this post.

Now: “Noooo! Ouch….Knees don’t bend that way!” And I am firmly fixing my gaze downwards to my iPad’s screen. I do not need to see any gory injury replays. I knew these outbursts might be the case, but I had hoped for a quiet game and silent supping of beer, alongside the occasional sounds of dry roasted peanut munching. My Instagram feed is currently full of photos of knitting and crochet ‘while the rugby is on in the background’, or ‘while I watch the rugby.’ I know there are plenty of women who enjoy it too, I’m just not one of them. It’s England V France and currently 6-3 to us. I cheer when we win, but don’t watch the game.

Anyway, sorry for the sports waffle. Back to the knits; I wasn’t sure about the shouty bright pink being added to the mix in my garter stitch blanket, but it works doesn’t it? I like it quite a lot. I am sticking to it being a stash buster, so it’s going to get even more random. However the blending helps to tone down some of the less likeable shades.

I’m really enjoying this knitting, as you know I haven’t knitted much complex lace and this pattern is labelled on the Love Knitting site as intermediate. Hurray! I feel like a proper knitter. The Edenvale cowl is reversible and this is the side which faces you as you knit, but it’s definitely the other side that I prefer (shown below.)

“Are you knitting a giraffe a neck warmer?”

“Ooh look, your dream-catcher is coming on!”

I put up with a lot some days, I feel.

Not knitting, but beautiful anemones I just saw when we popped out to have a wander around a local nursery and plant centre. It’s the day to buy flowers, or a plant, as it’s Mothering Sunday tomorrow. Sainsbury’s, on Friday, looked absolutely crammed full with extra buckets and stands of flowers.

It’s been a while since I recorded what I’m reading and listening to: The Tent, the Bucket and Me by Emma Kennedy is making me laugh out loud, more than any book has made me laugh for a long time. I didn’t even really know who she is, but that doesn’t matter at all. Emma writes really well and being an actress is sublime at accents, particularly Welsh. The premise of the book is to describe the family’s disastrous attempts at camping holidays, during the 1970s. So, of course you get a bit of context of what’s going on in the country at the time, the food they eat and encounters with other holiday makers. Highly recommended. I’ve got 3 hours left to listen and I only started the audio book this week. This is probably a speed listening personal record.

I finished reading The House of New Beginnings by Lucy Diamond on Friday night. It’s nice; one of those multi-character stories, where each woman has experienced a recent trauma, heartbreak or has to adjust to a major change. There’s a fair bit of loneliness and isolation at the beginning, but you can guess where the story goes and that ultimately warm and supportive friendships gradually form. There’s nothing wrong with reading a bit of candy-floss. I also think that sometimes a story like this can encourage readers to join a new club, try something new or make an overture of friendship towards another. It can give assurances that all things pass and tricky times improve.

What about you, what are you busy with right now? Can you recommend any good reads?

The score is now 9-9 and I’ve just said SHUSH as “Argghhhhh!” was shouted and made me jump.

Linking with Ginny’s now monthly Yarn Along.

Striping

I’ve dug my Stripy blanket out and actually it’s nice to be adding to it again. Isn’t it bright though?! I kind of forgot how much it’s a bit in your face. It took me aback when I saw it again yesterday, which was a very lazy Sunday afternoon.

I’m reading Y is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton at the mo. I’ve had it from the library for more than a week, but getting into it has taken a while. It’s an absolutely brick of a hardback. If you need a doorstop, this is the one for you. Having read a whole chunk yesterday made me feel more engaged with the story. I think I know exactly how one storyline will play out, but I’m not going to say anymore.

I was really sorry to learn of Sue’s recent loss, her books have brought pleasure all around the world. It’s sad too that this is the premature end of the alphabet series, however I’m glad a ghost writer is not going to be brought in to write Z. I’d rather it was the original author, or nothing at all.

As you know, I always have an audio book on the go too, after the compelling Three Things about Elsie by Joanna Cannon I fancied something completely different. My Audible library has contained Danny Baker’s 2012 autobiography Going to Sea in a Sieve for a long time. I bought it after enjoying the BBC tv adaptation Cradle to Grave in 2015. If you’re outside Britain I’m not really sure you’ll ever have heard of Danny Baker, but it’s still worth watching for the entertainment value. Peter Kay plays Danny’s Dad with only a bit of accent slippage! I’ve only heard 35 minutes of the audio book, with Danny narrating, and Ilove it. After the prologue I found myself repeating the story of the burning car and the game of chicken, while Someone made some smoked mackerel pate for lunch. Then I felt compelled to rush into the dining room to wave my iPhone in the air and play the bit about Nigel Slater’s ‘lamentable’ book Toast (I sort of agree about that) while he was trying to eat lunch and catch a bit of the Winter Olympics. I can feel myself trying to remember other little snippets to repeat later. This is always the (painful for others) sign that I’m loving a book. It’s just so cheery and authentic that I want to overshare.

What are you making and reading?

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

The Hitchhiker & a house full of flowers

Finally it’s finished. Finally. No more Hitchhiking. After noticing that freaky extra row of stitches heading up for the light on Christmas Eve, when I thought all it needed was darning, it’s taken a while to knit the two thirds I unravelled. Repeating the same thing can be so disheartening can’t it, even when it’s very easy plain knitting. Still, it’s done. I wrapped it in Christmas paper and gave it to Mum yesterday. The yarn is Tosca Light by Lang and sapphire shade. Here’s the pattern on Ravelry.

What’s with all the flowers? Are you opening a florists Rachel? Well no, I am not, although I always had the idea I’d enjoy that job. My image of the work was having lots of cups of tea and coffee, listening to the radio all day and singing along as I arranged pretty bouquets, chatting to smiley people. The reality is probably very, very early starts, drafty cold rooms which suit the blooms, lots of standing so legs covered with varicose veins and grumpy customers who don’t want to chat, hear the music blaring, or my singing!

We had family here for Sunday lunch last weekend and they brought that lovely bunch of narcissi, which have made the whole kitchen smell beautiful all week, and two bunches of irises. I tend to sit next to the table with the vase of irises and have often found myself staring at them, the blue is stunning isn’t it? The huge Spring bouquet was delivered on Wednesday as a Valentines Day surprise. That’s very fragrant too, hyacinth is one of my favourite scents this time of year. The ice bucket is the best size for the size and height of the bunch! It’s unconventional, but kind of cool. There were still so many flowers that I took some out to place around other rooms. The plumber came on Thursday and apparently he visibly clocked all the vases. I wonder if he had bought any for his wife? It would be funny if he was feeling bad for forgetting, or being nagged to death for not bothering, and then came to this home filled with them.

The Spring flowers have really opened out over the last few days, which is why I’ve included the gin photo, taken for a few friends last night. Nine friends actually, but that story doesn’t show my will-power in such a great light. Though my friends are stars…So, we will skirt over that shall we?

As I was about to come to write here I just heard a loud knock on the door and the tulips were delivered! Oh, aren’t they lovely? I’m wondering about giving them to someone special, as vase availability is now reaching a critical level and I’m almost overwhelmed with beauty right now.

Now I have my crochet moss stitch patchwork blanket to work on, the garter stitch blanket (long term pub knit night knitting) and ‘that’ sock which I must either unravel, or complete. I could do with a friend to sit with and knit alongside as it’s my first. It would probably gee me up and give me some sock knitting confidence. I’m lazy too, I have to admit that ploughing my way through the book or online tutorial isn’t as appealing as someone nice instructing me. Also, I saw a cowl in Loop, Islington in London last year which is still haunting me. I fancy trying something new and exciting. This stomps all over my recent assertion that I prefer to only have one knit and one crochet project on the go. We’re allowed to be inconsistent, aren’t we?

Have you just finished something? Struggling with lack of know-how and/or laziness with something?

Hey, thank you to those of you who answered my: making, listening, reading, watching, cooking questions last week. I love that, there’s nothing better than a two-way street.

Hello to my latest new readers too, I’m waving a tulip at you!

The last seven days

The Winnie the Pooh exhibition at the V&A was lovely. It’s so interesting to see E.H Shepherd’s original pencil drawings. What talent. There were many illustrations that I’d forgotten, but which were instantly recognisable when I saw them again. Winnie was a big part of my childhood. The exhibition is on until April 8th.

We saw the film Darkest Hour last weekend. It’s good. As good as the media hoo-ha and talk of an Oscar for Gary Oldman. It seemed a good time to see the