2016

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

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

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

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

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

Baby Hexagon Blanket – finished – hurray!

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Finally 

No…surely not…actual crochet has been done? 

Yep. It’s all true. 

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

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

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

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

Mind Games & Lobsters

I did crochet some mini hexagons last night while sitting in the conservatory. Somehow I knew that writing about my lacking crojo, in yesterday’s blog post, would help. I made a few half hexies, counted how many more I needed – it was only 14! So did 5 more, before heading out for cheese and red wine. 

The hexies were too pretty to abandon, but I knew fairly early on that I was not going to continue with the planned hexie a day project. I reckon this was along with everyone else who started with a burst of enthusiasm around New Year’s Day 2015…! We all gradually realised that even with 365 hexagons you’d end up with a relatively tiny piece of fabric. I don’t really go for wooly cushions (apart from seeing this one on Instagram earlier. I’m loving the fishes so might be looking for the new Inside Crochet soon.)

This is my new audio book. I’m not far into it and it’s a very long one, but is already shaping up to be quite a gripping mystery. The  narrator is Robert Slade who did a superb job with Etta and Otto and Russell and James. When that was finished I actually felt bereft for a few days, it was partly the book but mostly I realised I was missing the narrator. Audible recommended Harry Q to me and when I realised it was Mr Slade, I clicked ‘buy’ immediately.

We went swimming again this morning. No more handstands, but there was lots of throwing, swimming and diving down for the locker key, then some actual diving off the pool edge into the deep end. I’d forgotten what a slap an area (technically two) can get if you don’t slide into the water like a knife going into butter…Ouch! 




St Ives was looking particularly pretty yesterday. It was good sitting on the quay watching the lobster fishing boat come into the harbour absolutely surrounded by gulls. We reckon they were throwing leftover bait overboard. My pictures didn’t come out well as I think the gulls were just flying around too fast; they look a whirly blur! The fisherman said the other day they caught a lobster weighing 3.5 kilos. I thought some of these were big, but that’s a monster.


I’m joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along but totally breaking the one photo rule today. Sorry Ginny.

And here’s

what I’m not doing at the moment…
  Craft blogging is a weird thing. From time to time, basically every few years, I get a real feeling of how ridiculous it is; basically show and tell for adults. I can’t imagine my Granny photographing every new thing she crocheted, knitted, sewed or embroidered, even if Instagram had been invented back then. She would probably have shaken her head at the thought.

 I was just trying to take a pic of the ribbed border I’m crocheting for my Cozy Cowl. I was going to put it up IG, and say how satisfyingly fast it’s working up. As I was waving my iPad around I caught sight of the baby hexagons on the screen, as they’re down the side of the sofa. 
Maybe for variety we could each post one photo of something we’re not doing at the moment?! 

Yarn Along 

  I’ve just started this audio book: A Gathering Storm by Rachel Hore. It’s one of my favourite kinds of stories; a family mystery, an old English Manor House and a picturesque Cornish seaside town. As well as crocheting to audio books I also love walking while listening. This morning I strode along in the lovely bright sunshine listening to the first few chapters. It’s a very promising start. I haven’t read anything by this author before and hopefully I’ll enjoy this book. I see she’s had quite a few books published; it’s good to find someone you like and read their back catalogue. 

Can you see that this baby hexagon piece is finally beginning to look rectangular? It’s proper fiddly and slow crochet. I’d definitely like to make hexagons again, but I won’t be joining them as I go again. I want the sides to lie neatly together, the way these look are still making me feel irritated. Larger hexies would make a more drapey fabric too.

My last audio book Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith (very good, I recommend it) has occupied me for lots of my crochet time recently. Near the end when the final twist was revealed I dropped yarn and hook and punched the air. I knew it! I knew. Kind of anyway…

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

Yarn Along 

   I can’t tell you how much I’m loving this book. It’s so well written and casts a completely different light on Pride and Prejudice; as it’s written from the point of view of the (few) servants who work (very hard) for the family. This line on the back cover made me grin: ‘If Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats,’ Sarah thought, ‘she would be more careful not to tramp through muddy fields.’ 

If you are familiar with the original you’ll see that the novels match chapter for chapter, though to her credit Jo Baker does not try to imitiate  Jane Austin’s style, she has her own voice. 

I’d seen Longbourn recommended in a number of newspapers and magazines, then came across a copy on the sale shelf of a charity shop for 50p!  I enjoy using my Kindle but there’s great pleasure in knowing I can pass this paperback on to at least five friends who I know will enjoy reading it too.

I’m on the last two inches of the body of the mystery blanket for my cousin and am now thinking about what to make next. I really fancy some knitting and am going to dig out my stash and see what I’ve got later. I’m also keen to finish this baby hexagon piece and turn it into a doll’s blanket.  

I’m joining in with Ginny again. 

Mostly ends with one beginning

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See the golden coloured ‘square’?  I took this photo to: “You’re in the way of the rugby!” Well, the light was best in front of the tv and it was Valentine’s Day, sheesh! Even so this isn’t the clearest photo, but we’re trapped under iron skies here. I didn’t notice that I’d pulled it out of shape arranging the piece on the carpet. When I went to add more hexagons to fill in the gaps I realised it was in the wrong place completely and it would be far too fiddly to add one in with all the sides to be joined. Bye Bye Goldie.
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I finished the Vanessa headband, it’s blocked and posed to be mattress stitched up. This is my issue with knitting; joining crochet with crochet is not a problem, because it’s crochet. Sewing knitting up makes me start yawning even at the thought of it.
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I have until a few days before 28th, then it needs to be posted to its new home because it’s then flying off to Austria skiing for a week. Clever headband!
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Yet more ends to be sewn. I have another boxful of motifs ready to JAYGO to my William Morris inspired blanket, but they must be darned beforehand. I’ve set myself a 5-a-day plan like last time. But oh it’s boring. Crochet a motif, darn that motif is a great idea, but I enjoy the flow of making them and seeing little stacks pile up.
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I started this circular Honey Cowl while listening to the last part of The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins audio book. It seemed pretty obvious early on who dunnit, although I still found the story quite gripping overall.

So, there’s going to be no sewing up! Which is a Baldrick style cunning plan, I think. It’s not posh yarn and I did wonder how I’m going to feel about wearing Stylecraft Special DK; but it’s really soft and consistent for knitting. I’ve only ever used it for crochet blanket making, but I just didn’t want to start with a nicer yarn (I have some Tosca Light left over from Brian) and run out mid way.

Do you use Stylecraft for wearable knitting or crochet? How do you find it?

Five things

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This is my bargain of last week, a 1,000 piece jigsaw from my favourite charity shop for £1.95. I have to admit that I would never have mentioned it here, but when I sent a ‘look at my bargain!’ message to a few friends and family I realised from their replies that puzzles are people’s guilty pleasure. Or maybe we are just a really uncool lot! Actually today I saw that Hobbycraft sell them, so maybe they’re popular again?

I’ve harped on about wanting to do a jigsaw after reading a Christmas novel, which I bought from a charity shop sale shelf for 25p last January. My friend got me onto Christmas fiction and so I keep my eyes open for a few books for December every year. Anyway, the main character in Twelve days of Christmas by Trisha Ashley cooks for house parties in the summer and house sits for a rest in the winter. This year things turn out rather differently and she ends up with a houseful of the client’s family. While stocking up with food and presents she sees the village shop has a jigsaw, which she leaves on a table in the dining room for everyone to do gradually as they pass by. It just caught my imagination for some reason. Suddenly I really wanted to do my first jigsaw since childhood. It’s a joke really as I found the outside so hard to do, the red background and yellow script are REALLY hard, and I lost my mojo. However it turns out I live with a puzzle genius who has now completed nine tenths of it. I deliberately chose one with a fly fishing theme, as I thought it might interest him into helping me. It worked, with bells on. I don’t give up on them all though – I await a delivery of some of my friend’s jigsaws (“Not hard ones please!”)
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I found this personalised tea towel the other day. I’d forgotten I embroidered this, I was asked to add a trout but that wasn’t the original plan so I’m not. It’s going into service. I might do a ‘moron’ one to complete a set….! It’s a family joke.

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I’m baby hexieing still, mostly just doing a group of seven at the weekend, so am sticking to the original one-a-day plan now, though might have a splurge and make lots more at points during the year. It depends how I feel. The thing is that the material doesn’t have a lot of drape because the hexagons are so small.
This is the boring part of the process….
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Yesterday there was a knock at the door with what I guess is the signature flourish of a local florist’s delivery driver. Isn’t this a beautiful bunch of flowers? Forsythia, tulips, freesia and something which look like hyacinths. The card says they are to brighten these drab February days. They certainly do and smell delightful too. Lucky me.
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I did an incredibly nerdy thing the other day – I made an inventory of my Clover Amour hooks, just so I know what I’ve got. My new 5.5 mm and other (I can’t remember!) sized one arrived in the post and I thought it seemed a good idea at the time. This is more embarrassing than the jigsaw puzzle probably. I hang my head in nerdiness.

What’s happening with you? Do you want to write a Five Things post and put the link below?

Treats, rewards and more baby hexagons

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This is a progress photo from earlier in the week, it’s 28 days worth of a baby hexagons. Well, what can I say? They are addictive and so easy to make! But LOOK – 28 only measure just over 16″, so for a decent sized blanket by 31st December we’re going to need to crochet one a day, plus lots more!

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So now I’ve kind of abandoned the whole baby hexagon a day concept. Although a one a day CAL is a lovely idea I don’t think this one was properly thought through measurement-wise. So now I’m just doing a batch when I feel like it, and I plan to continue this throughout the year. It’s impossible to just make one a day anyway, the one turns into five or sometimes (prepare yourself) I don’t feel like crocheting anything at all.

Isn’t it turning out pretty though? I’m using leftover yarn from my zesty raspberry ripple blanket and pinching colours that I’m using for my motifs. It will change though as the plan at the moment is to add new colours from whatever I’m making in Stylecraft as the year goes on.

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When I decided to redesign my William Morris colour inspired motifs I was slightly panicked by going from a blanket which was a third complete, with a basket of semi-finished motifs to absolutely zero. So I hooked new versions without pausing to darn any at all. Argh! I ended up with so many ends that I’ve had to stop and do nothing but darning. Argh! On Sunday I divvied the remainder into seven little piles to tackle like homework each night. I missed last night because I was out, but it’s a good idea to tackle the last of a tiresome job in small bits. For the next fifty motifs I will make one, darn it, then move onto the next. I really will.

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I saw my dentist last week “Ah you always have stunningly good teeth” he said before I even opened my mouth! Afterwards I bought a bone handled 1935 cake knife made to commemorate the silver jubilee of George V who was the Queen’s Grandfather. It was a bargain £4, after some Googling it seems most online sellers are asking £15 plus for one! I bought it because I really wanted a cake knife, rather than grabbing the first knife which comes to hand when we have guests, but what a lovely find.

This week I’ve had an eye test. Have you ever been shown photos of the back of your eyes? It’s amazing being talked through how they can tell you probably haven’t got diabetes or glaucoma, and seeing your optic nerve captured in action. I hate the puff of air and the flashing light so the new book by the very talented Kat and a cheese scone for lunch were my rewards! I’m thankfully now at the end of my mini MOT…
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I’m so lucky to have been given membership to the V&A in London, officially known as The Victoria and Albert Museum. I’ve used my card for the first time and loved swooping into the Wedding Dresses exhibit with a simple flash of my card. Do go if you can before it ends. You “Wow!” your way around. I also visited the members’ room which was described to me by a room guide as ‘the inner sanctum’. It was certainly very peaceful and comfortable. The water jugs were donated by Waterford Crystal and even the tray is lovely! My membership includes a guest so I’m hoping to take friends and family to events over the year. Thank you Father Christmas.
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I’ve baked my first loaf of Artisan bread in my new cooker. I started to use silicon coated baking paper last Autumn because you can place it gently down into the heated pyrex while safely holding the strips of paper. I adjust the oven temp down to 220 oc from the recipe’s 230 oc to comply with the paper’s instructions, but this oven has a much better seal and there is a huge gust of steam as you open the door. I’d quite forgotten ovens do this and have had a hot facial a few times. The problem is this time the paper became melded to the bottom of the loaf. It might have been a wetter dough than usual, or the new oven. While I’m not fussy I don’t like the chewy texture of silicon. (Yes, I did try it.) So I might go back to gently plopping the loaf in sans silicone because it’s a tragedy to have to cut the crust off.
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How’s the third week of 2015 going for you?

New Year

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Happy New Year everyone! It’s all ahead of us, isn’t that a wonderful feeling?

I bought a brand new Filofax in the sales with some of my Christmas money, no more black for me – oh no, it’s pink flowers all the way! This morning I’ve gone through my book list, seeing how many I read last year and writing down what I’m reading at the start of 2015. I always happily spend some time sorting my pages and new diary out this way at the beginning of each new year. I’m not giving up paper and pen for everything online. I’m a happy mix of the 20th and 21st centuries.

We’ve been away and cozying up back at home, with the fairy lights still twinkling, is definitely the best thing today as it was a winter wonderland when I woke. The temperature was only 0 oc at 10:00, now it’s gone up to a balmy 1 oc at 1pm! I De-Christmassed yesterday evening to an extent, in that I took down the cards and decorative bits and bobs, but have left the lights around the fireplace. It’s twelfth night on 6th and so they will go then.

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On the last afternoon of 2014, New Year’s Eve, I decided to try something new that I’ve liked the look of for a long time. Catherine wheel stitch is fun. Treble 7 together is a new one. The hook is full of loops by the final yarn over! I was a bit apprehensive about it, the stitch looks tricky. Like everything it’s fine when you’ve completed a few rows. This is going to be a baby doll blanket for a friend’s toddler. I saw some gorgeous photos of the nearly two year old opening her baby doll on Christmas Day and decided she must have a bespoke blanket. This toddler is the baby for whom I crocheted the baby jewel blanket. I gave it to her when she was a day old in hospital. Eeek! Where do the years go?!

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Last night I saw a great new CAL that Ali Campbell has started – a baby hexagon a day blanket. It took me ages to decide how I wanted to jaygo (join as you go! Why have I never seen this fantastic acronym before?) them together – should I do 2 joins or 3 along each side? I finally decided to stick with 2 as they retain their shape better. So, are you joining me? They are really small at 1 3/4″ point to point. Of course yours might might be tinier – it depends on the yarn and your tension. The pattern is on Ali’s first hexie photo in the comments. Search for #babyhexagons or #babyhexieaday on Instagram for others taking part.

By the way join IG. Just do it. The crafty pics and micro blogging of it is superb. All the best bloggers are there and so many other talented makers. It’s a total inspiration machine.
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My third make is the William Morris motif blanket. It’s regenerated Dr Who style because…

::I didn’t like the magic ring of the motifs, so decided to chain 6 and make a foundation ring, but then that meant the blanket was a combination of both and likely to pull apart from some middles and not the others. I keep reading horror stories (ok, it’s only crochet, not life or death, but it’s a lot of time and energy in the making) about how magic rings can pull out gradually and work unravels from the middle, even with careful darning.

::Join as you go is great, but I was hating it for the old motifs because of the combination of stitches after the joining slip stitch. It was no fun and even the Mister noticed that I wasn’t enjoying the crochet.

::I disliked the way the chained parts of the motifs were lying rucked up against each other. I probably should have realised that they would look better being shorter but don’t usually change motif patterns, especially as they had looked great in the book.

I woke several mornings in November thinking about the need to change the whole blanket. If there’s something you repeatedly think of first thing upon waking then that’s what you need to spend some time on. I’ve now designed my own motif, as you see it’s trebles into the initial ring, rounds of clusters and two rounds of groups of granny style trebles. I’m joining them as I go and it’s stress free. The blanket is a strip again but I have over 50 motifs ready to darn and join. It’s made lots more work with so many ends to darn in, but the texture of the motifs is pleasing and they’re going to make nice snugly weight blanket.

I really like having these three very different projects to pick up and work on at the beginning of a new year. What are you making at the moment?