Bunch of pretty 

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

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

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

Good reminder 

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

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

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

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

Favourite things 

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

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

Five more 

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

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

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

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

Yarn Along

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

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

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

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

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

Probable game of yarn chicken ahead

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

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

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

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Gradually 

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

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

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

Stripes & Squares

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

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

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

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New 

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

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

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

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

Record temps for September!

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

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

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

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

Edward’s Imaginarium – book review

I’ve been lucky enough to be sent a copy of Kerry Lord’s Edward’s Imaginarium by Pavilion Books and am the last to take part in a blog tour for this amazing new book.  For other posts in the blog tour see: TOFT blog, Crafts from the Cwtch, Monty Knits, Crochetime,  and  The Twisted Yarn.


As you can see from the photo below; it’s a flip book which enables you to design your own monster, choosing from 24 different head, arm and leg patterns. There is a choice of tails too. The blurb states there are “Over a million easy-to-make monsters” I wondered if this might be an exaggeration, but got the resident mathematician on the case. It’s entirely possible if you take into account different colours, patterns, tails and other features.

A flip book of patterns is such an ingenious idea, really so simple that I am surprised the concept has not been replicated by other designers. I’m sure it will be! If making all those decisions is too stressful, or you just wanted to get started without delay, there are 40 ready picked monsters in the gallery section.For added inspiration and to see others’ creations go to #edsflipbook on Instagram.

There are 3 skill levels for each selection of patterns. This book would be suitable for someone who has mastered the basics of crochet, but not a complete newbie I would say. There are instructional help videos on the TOFT website.  It could also be used as a starting point for experienced crocheters; giving initial inspiration and ideas, but then you could really go to town adapting patterns and designing your own features. I could well imagine someone going on to make a whole wardrobe to dress their monster too. The possibilities are endless.

There are plenty of instruction pages including: stitch tutorials, the order of sewing up the parts, stuffing and sewing body parts (that sounds funny doesn’t it?!)

Kerry has written little bios for some of the gallery monsters. Here’s part of one: “If you’ve ever adventured into the forest alone on a summer’s day, stretching your legs and absentmindedly banging the odd tree trunk with a stick, it’s more than likely that someone very like Willow will have been watching you…..” This will really appeal to young children. You could ask a child to design a monster, perhaps drawing or painting  the kind of creature they imagine, then match it to patterns.

Edward’s Imaginarium was published last week as is currently on sale for £10.49 (UK) from Amazon  /from $9.97 (US) or £14.99 from TOFT  with bonus pdf patterns from Kerry Lord.

*A copy of the book was supplied by the publisher for my review. All opinions are mine and honest. Having looked through Edward’s Imaginarium I can wholeheartedly recommend it. There is a wealth of information and inspiration.*

A free copy is available for a UK reader as part of a giveaway. Hurray! I’ll use a random number generator to pick the winner, I’ll then contact you and pass your details to Pavilion Books. For a chance to be the lucky winner please leave a comment below. The giveaway is open now until Sunday 25th at noon (GMT).

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Maybe it’s a goner

A lovely online now offline friend (you know what I mean by that right?) Trish of Made by Patch blog recently won this book in a giveaway by Christine Perry aka Winwick Mum  with a bundle of other goodies, but as a newly minted sock knitter she had already bought a copy. So, she offered this one to me. What a lovely surprise!

I haven’t forgotten my 16 for 2016 list and am still keen to try knitting a pair of socks, but do have a few reservations. I’m not worried about the knitting part, since I know from all the successful pairs I’ve seen posted on Social Media that Christine’s instructions are fabulous. I think you’d have to have a brain of custard to fail. (Watch this space…) It’s whether I would actually wear handmade knitted socks. I don’t think I would out with boots and shoes; they just seem like they’d be too thick. But I can envision myself pulling them on in the chilly evenings to wear at home. Would they become very fluffy walking about on carpets? I already seem to spending quite a bit of time picking up massive bobbles of woollen sock fluff…but that’s another subject, ha! Am I going to get even more electric shocks, the sock yarns seen to have a fairly high nylon count. I already jump and squeal a lot of the time. When I’m in London some days I get a shock every time I touch a handrail. I’ll just have to knit a pair, try them and get back to you.

I was intending to make a cowl from this library bookimg_2857

but the one cable stitch forward or behind was really annoying. It’s me I know, I like knitting but only if it’s not too tedious, but either that one stitch just kept slipping off the cable needle or the whole process felt clunky. If I tried the dropping the stitch method, without using a cable needle, I worried that it was then twisted. Life’s too short and I decided that if I don’t enjoy making something, I stop. Why waste time on something that’s not fun? It’s not as if it was a vital cowl; I have a basket full of them and scarves. For the last few winters they haven’t really been worn. I really miss our heavy white frosts and icy mornings. The winters are noticeably warmer, with wetter milder weather.

If you have an alternative pattern suggestion for a 90 stitch cowl using 6mm needles with a 3-2 rib already complete, please comment below. I won’t frog the knitting for a few days, then it’s a goner!

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

Yarn Along

 The beginnings of a ripple are always good, at least once you’ve done the first fiddly row into the foundation chain. I like choosing the colours and enjoy the softness of the yarn when it’s used for ripples.  I did find I was a chain short at the end, so conjured one into thin air and will have to make sure the tail is darned and double darned. 

The book is one I picked up at the weekend. Very much of its time, it was published in the eighties, the stories are the perfect length for reading one every night. Last night’s featured a mirror and an antiques seller who is a Cockney and therefore must be able to easily dispose of a body…! The second story about the bus is interesting; but not at all PC.  

I’ve been trying to find a craft vlog I can regularly watch, but just can’t find one that suits. They’re simply far too long, filled with umms and ahhs and repetition. That’s not to say I could do any better, which is partly why I’m not going to try. But if there was a one like Caitlin Moran’s (two episodes so far) I’d be addicted. She was on the radio as I drove on Friday. She’s so funny and makes a lot of sense. (Water fountains! Hipsters! Trolling on social media.) I’ll be getting the book soon. Maybe even after I press ‘post’. 

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

Yarn Along 

  
Here’s the knitting I mentioned in my last post. The pattern is called Mira’s Cowl by Mira Cole. It’s free on Ravelry.

 I’m not sure I want to aggressively block it as per the instruction. By the end the most I’ll probably feel like doing is flinging it around my neck. Consistently good knitting is not my talent. For some reason I can crochet quite difficult stitch combinations and follow patterns without much of an issue, but knitting has always been another matter. This is despite being able to knit from childhood, as you know crochet came much, much later. Even this simple pattern of blocks of 2, 4, 8 or 16 stitches has been problematic. I keep finding whole sections where the stitches have mysteriously changed to knit where they should be purl, and vice versa, halfway up. I could blame it on the toenail bit of A Gathering Storm, but that wouldn’t be altogether truthful. I’m often rubbish at concentrating on my knitting. It’s a good thing that the wonderful Nicky Sutton displayed excellent graphics how to pick up, or alter stitches with a crochet hook on IG. It’s saved me undoing any rows. I quite like the opportunity to use a little 3mm hook on my knitting. I know that’s probably not the attitude, but at least it works!

I’m about to start my next audio book: The Kasmir Shawl. I like to leave a day or more between them, just to let the memory of the last fade a bit. Do you do this too? I used to read lots of Rosie Thomas’s books, but it’s years since the last. I hope this is good. It’s set in 1939 and a young woman from rural Wales is moving to India with her husband, who has been posted there as a missionary. What could possibly go wrong?!

I’ve always got both an audio book and a printed or e-book on the go. Last night I read more of After You by JoJo Moyes while listening to an owl hoot in the trees.  The torrential rain and wind then put a stop to that delightful noise. I hope it managed to stay warm and dry.

I’m joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along

Yarn Along

This photo looks a bit funny somehow; the pot holder looks tiny and the book huge! Actually it is a big ole heavy hardback. Reading it is proving to be a bit of a challenge. I’ve got so used to propping my Kindle against the next pillow and just poking my finger out of the duvet to turn the page. Holding this monster is making my arms ache and they get cold! But I couldn’t turn down this book from my sister-in-law as we both loved Me Before You so much. This is the sequel. I believe Jojo Moyes had so many questions from readers about what happened to Lou, that there was immense pressure to write one. Lou must have been a character who stayed with her too.

Me Before You is the only audio book I’ve finished listening to and immediately started again. Even though I obviously knew all that would happen, I still sobbed so much I had to change my pillowcase at the end of the book. That was one traumatic story.

I finished the pot holder on Monday evening. I wanted another smaller one than these two, although I use them every day I like to have a little one at hand for saucepan lids. I’ll write up the pattern for another post.

 

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

 

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

  
God knows what Jeffrey Bernard would have had to say about a collection of his writing, originally  featured in the Spectator, being shown on a crochet blog, on a brightly coloured blanket with a vase of daffodils! I suppose as long as I offered a bottle of vodka and bag of oranges in apology it would have been ok.

His writing is often bitter sweet and the humour catches you unawares at times. I absolutely hoot with laughter. The anecdote about being in a hospital cubicle next to a boy who is having his ears syringed, made me think of having had mine done a week or so ago. But not because my brother had filled my ears with peanut butter while I slept.

The ripple re-edging is done. I’ll show you tomorrow.

I’m joining in with Ginny 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. 

Yarn Along

  The light is fading fast this afternoon, so I’ve lit the candles and made mugs of hot chocolate. I spent the morning cooking and cleaning as we have guests for dinner tonight, it’s very nice to sit down and relax now. I shall crochet a little more of my blanket. See last week’s Yarn Along post if you’re curious about why I’m only showing you the ends for now.

Last night I read ‘Lost Hearts’ in this M.R James ghost stories collection before sleep. As usual I felt quite spooked out. I’m going to read another tonight and anticipate feeling pretty scared, the sweetener is that at least it’s while snuggled down warm in bed. I’ve learnt it’s best to go to the loo before reading, so I don’t have to run there afterwards dodging shadows! 

If you fancy reading some very old ghost stories (late 1800s, early 1900s)  M.R James anthologies are free on Kindle. At least they are here in England. 

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

Yarn Along 


I can’t show you what I’m making, except to say that it’s a blanket; as requested by my cousin. The colours were chosen to compliment Emma Bridgewater china she collects. I think the plan is to have the blanket over the back of a church pew she has near her dresser in her cottage. When I said I was going to look for a pumpkin shade of orange, to match, she said she’d far prefer Space Hopper orange. Oh my..! Then:”How about some lavender too?” She’d noticed I’d used it in other blankets.

The out of my colour comfort zone has become a bit of a joke here, so when I took it out after a break (I’ve finished the V Stitch scarf) the Mister suddenly yelled out in mock horror. I was so startled it made me leap up out of my chair!

I have checked that it’s going to hit by the spot by showing her man, who says she’ll love it, it’s exactly what she wants colourwise. He even said how soft it looks and how warm it will be; he knows just what to say at times.The blanket design is a surprise and as I’m not sure how often she looks here it’s going to have to stay under wraps for now. We’ll do our usual late Christmas celebration sometime earlyish next year. But don’t say I didn’t warn you about the colour combo!

The third Rosie Hopkins book is turning out to be quite an entertaining read, and not so sickly as expected. 

I know you know this, but I’m joining in with Ginny’s Wednesday Yarn Along link up again. 

Yarn Along 

 Yesterday this Araucania Botany Lace (one of  my Yarndale bargains) was a knitted piece 6′ long. I was flying along until I noticed a mistake. B—– Why didn’t I put in a lifeline? I tried and I tried but I couldn’t undo it; I was foiled by the yarn overs. I just kept ending up with the wrong amount of stitches. I want to knit something as perfect as I can get it. So in the end I gave up and just ripped the whole thing out. Can you see my thin blue thread? This time I’m being very careful.

I’m on the last 12 minutes of my audio book: ‘Reckless’ by Chrissie Hynde. Rosanna Arquette’s terrible pronunciation of many words and shocking attempts at English accents have had me shrieking with irritation, or screaming with laughter, occasionally both at the same time. This has rather spoilt a sometimes shocking, but also poignant story of music and friendship.

I’ve just started reading a new book about a painting: The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild. I’m not far into it yet, but the painting has chapters of its own. I like its voice!

I’m joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along again. Why don’t you?

Sometimes there is no right way

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Playing with joining as you go the other evening I took this photo as a reminder; because I didn’t feel too confident that it was right, and thought they’d probably soon be un-joined!

After Carina commented on my last post, reminding me that she’s crocheted some of the motifs from Edie Eckman’s fabulous Beyond the Square book, I emailed her the photo above and asked how she would have joined them. It’s the first time I’ve used the join-as-you-go technique with anything apart from granny squares. I was really dithering and feeling unconfident. When I start saying, or thinking, ‘Well, I’ve only been crocheting a few years’ I know I’m struggling with something. It’s not the end of the world, but is an irritating feeling.
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Carina is one of those bloggers that you just know will answer a query and try their best to help. I rushed to work yesterday having fired off a HELP ME! email, and in the evening found not one, but two replies from her. The first saying she’d had a busy day but would get back to me shortly. The second, sent less than an hour later, had detailed ‘This is how I would do it’ instructions and an attached photo. She’d obviously pulled out her BtS book and had a go at joining two motifs. How kind!
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I do prefer Carina’s joining method which replaces the 3 corner chains with 1 ch, 1 jss (joining slip stitch) 1 ch. This was the part I wasn’t sure about. Do you replace all the ch with one jss, or only one? How many jss would you need overall? What about the 5 ch in the middle? Carina had also joined this motif in four places, rather than three.

If the motifs were making up a blanket it would probably be more…I’m struggling for the word….connected? Strong? Less gapy? I just checked the spelling of gapy, so I didn’t type gappy by mistake instead, and asked ‘Is it gay-ai-pee-why?’ I’m tired!’ Taking non-drowsy cough med is so stupid right before bed. Consequently I was wide awake and reading my Kindle after midnight last night. (The book was Necessary Lies, if like me you like to know these details. It was a 99p Kindle deal I bought weeks ago. Diane Chamberlain a new-to-me author but the blurb interested and readers’ reviews and stars were impressive on Amazon. The first two chapters have me completely intrigued already.)
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The point which I’ll try quickly to come to now, I always waffle far more when tired, is that when I popped into the library today I swerved to the fab craft section and ended up having a quick flick through a Crochet Guide by Jane Crowfoot. She writes that joining motifs is similar to free-form crochet; no two people will join them in the same way. I’m really grateful to Carina for her help, will be joining the motif using her suggestion, but also have learnt a good lesson and a bit of a confidence booster on the way. Sometimes there isn’t always a right way or a wrong way. There’s your way and there’s my way.

Stanley and the Hot Air Balloon

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Very exciting post has just arrived! It’s a preview copy of Kate’s (from Greedy for Colour) book: Stanley and the Hot Air Balloon.

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My Stanley ran around beside himself with excitement to see it. He acted out many of the parts of the story as he read all about himself. Very sweet story it is too. There are crochet patterns at the end of the book to create your own characters and the hot air balloon. It’s so clever and full of little touches like using particular colours and fonts for specific words throughout the book.

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Oooh! I love being mentioned in books. Thanks Kate. Very exciting, although I have to say I only played a tiny part, testing the Stanley pattern. He’s got to be the coolest crochet I’ve done.

Stanley and the Hot Air Balloon will be available to buy from July. See Kate’s blog for more details nearer the time.

Yarn Along

I get this real urge to knit sometimes. I’m not great at it and even more so since I’m trying to use another technique. I look like a beginner and have dropped stitches*, had them slide off the end of the circular needle** and keep stabbing my hand***. It never used to happen before, but I’m determined to try holding the right needle underneath and have a go at sliding my hand along the needle, rather than on top and throwing the wool. It’s not easy when I’ve knitted the other way since childhood, albeit sporadically.

I thought a washcloth/dishcloth would be a useful thing to make as it’s small and fast to complete. Well it would be if I didn’t do *, ** and *** but I’ll get there!

The pattern’s here.  I really like the raised box stitch, it’s amazing what you can do with a simple knit and purl combo.

20130723-162130.jpgI think I saw this book on someone else’s yarn along post last week, when I caught sight of it at the library yesterday I grabbed it. As you’d imagine it’s no literary masterpiece and I have made predictions a third of the way through about what’s likely going to happen. I’m sure I’ll be right too. That’s ok – it’s relaxing and not in the slightest demanding. My brain can slowly continue morphing into custard!

Basically the story centres around four female characters who been drawn back to the inn (B&B?) one runs. None of them are particularly close but because of the news the inn keeper shares and Meryl’s films they’re beginning to finally bond and become suportive of each other. If you’ve read The Reading Group, The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club (aka Divas don’t Knit,) The Jane Austin Book-club or The Friday Night Knitting Club then you’ll know what to expect.

I really like Meryl Streep. There’s a few films from the book’s list I haven’t watched yet:  Heartburn, though I have read the original book by Nora Ephron, and Defending your Life which doesn’t ring any bells.

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I’m still listening to The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K Rowling.) It’s going to take me a weeks to listen to it in chunks. I’m really enjoying it so far, Robert Glenister (of the tv prog Hustle, brother of Philip – who was the brilliant Gene Hunt in Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes) reads superbly. I can’t recommend it enough so far. Check it out on Audible.co.uk or Audible.com.

I’m joining in again with Ginny this week. What are you reading, crocheting or knitting?

PS: Are you following Cat of the Slugs on the Refrigerator blog and her Crochet Camp? Did you – *~*cough! cough! *~*- see the guest post on Sunday?

Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside

We’ve had such a lovely bank holiday weekend.

All the photos here are from Saturday when we went to Bournemouth. We had a really good walk along the seafront, a pub lunch, then watched the kite surfers.
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On Sunday we visited Southampton, walking around old sections of the city wall, watching vintage yachts, gawping at the sheer size of the cruise ship docked in the harbour and looking for a few geocaches. (Yes,  I do a bit of geocaching and rather a lot of bookcrossing. I am a bit of nerd and not ashamed of it.) Today we visited Winchester and I have inspirational craft orientated photos to share another time.

Some of the kite surfer guys were really jumping up out of the water, apparently it’s called ‘getting big air.’ They looked like they went up more than 10 feet at times. I was the one going Oooooh, ahhhhhh and woah!

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Aren’t these beach huts painted gorgeous colours? I LOVE them.

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The yellow flowers you see behind the huts are gorse bushes which like sandy conditions so you see lots of them at the seaside. I’ve just looked it up and there are all sorts of facts about gorse which we didn’t know.

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When we arrived home I found the book I’d won from the recent giveaway hosted by Alice of Knitnrun4sanity blog.

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It’s lovely to have some new patterns to play with, plus it’s signed by the author which is always a nice touch. The book was featured in Simply Crochet (Issue 4) magazine’s list of Inspiring Books, which was exciting to see when I knew I would soon own my own copy. Thank you very much Alice!

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The apple blossom has come out over the weekend, so hopefully we might have some Bramley apples this autumn. Apparently everything is a month behind with the late start to Spring, but better late than never!

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I hope you’ve had a fun weekend too. What have you been up to, wherever you are in the world?

Besides the blocks

I’m busy crocheting a stripe or two at a sitting in the evenings on Rainbow Granny Stripe blanket #2 at the moment for Sunflower-head’s 6th birthday in December.

The first Rainbow Granny Stripe has been on red spotty sunflower-head’s bed, along with the Blooming Flower cushion, since they were given to her for her 4th birthday at the end of August.


I had a really sweet surprise parcel in the post yesterday, from New Hampshire in the USA. It was my first crochet murder mystery (!) and lots of bookmarks, labels, crochet and knitting patterns. Nice post is always, always, wecome!
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::No sunflowers were exactly harmed in the making of this blog post, although sawn off, the heads are being carefully dried and the seeds kept for next summer.

WAtchThiS spACE foR aNOthER FINisheD BLANkeT soON!

Am I going to get (another) urge to knit?

I borrowed the Friday Night Knitting Club from my cousin and read it last weekend, but it left me so wanting more of the characters and shop that I immediately ordered the next in the series and it’s just arrived.

Grin

Cosy rainy day reading.

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It’s the embroidery workshop tomorrow and I’m meeting my friend for lunch and a mooch around the shops too. Exciting girly day ahead.

I’ve just had a message from the friend who is redecorating: her Mum has more crochet patterns to give away, including more vintage ones, and would I like them? With bells on!

And the birthday present that keeps on giving (every month for a whole year, until the next birthday!) has just arrived. I’m hibernating for the rest of the day.

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Crafty treats & birthday presents

>A wander around a new craft superstore20120816-160103.jpg

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20120816-160121.jpg> This is a little different but each to their own! It’s probably more comfortable than being carried in a little handbag…20120816-160134.jpg> A few treats 20120816-160141.jpg> A surprise in the post. But this was a disappointment for the one who collected it from the post office and thought he’d won a fishing reel in a competition! The look was priceless when it turned out to be a subscriber gift from Mollie Makes magazine.  So, I get the magazine for a year of birthday present that keeps on giving, and the Amy Butler fabric! Win, win.

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>Stopping to admire my doorstep20120816-160318.jpg> Greek salad for lunch, not craft or a birthday present but a very tasty meal sitting in the sun listening the Best of David Bowie…..Let’s Dance! We could be Heroes….Little China Girl…..Fashion!….Ashes to Ashes…..20120816-160326.jpg> Trying out one of last week’s birthday pressies – my new slow cooker. I had to use pliers to turn the knob round on my last one and like this red model very much. I’m cooking Malaysian beef and aubergine curry for dinner (smelling good!)

The recipe’s from Ultimate Slow Cooker by Sara Lewis if you fancy trying it.20120816-160332.jpg

Happy days

Ooooh a lovely day today; flowers and thank you cards from school as its the end of the academic year tomorrow, and one of my lottery winnings (£10!) gift to myself has arrived.
It is good to give, but even better to receive!
It’s been one of those super weeks in all kinds of ways. Hope it has been a satisfying one for you too.
Have a good Friday and a lovely weekend. I’m off ooop north ish to catch up with friends and check out the shops.

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A Winning Sunday

There’s nothing like going out for lunch on a Sunday, admittedly I went out for lunch on Saturday too with a group of friends, but Sunday is different somehow. It just feels more relaxed, there aren’t hordes of people rushing around, the pace is leisurely and well, frankly rather lovely.

I haven’t had Peroni for ages and doubt I’ve ever had an egg on a pizza! It was all good and if you’re Oxford way I’d recommend this pizzeria for a spot of lunch.

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This morning I had an alert saying ‘We have news about your lottery ticket’ and in the time it took to log on to The National Lottery website I’d gone from buying a Penthouse by the Thames in London, to an apartment in New York and one in Sydney. My whole life had changed, in my imagination, and I was about to tell S to leave the shopping and just come home now!

It wasn’t quite a life changing amount (£10) in the event, but I have ordered another crochet book. Woo hoo! It’s one I browsed in the library a few weeks ago. It had the most appealing patterns and the colours are well thought out.

I’m excitedly looking forward to owning my own copy.

I’m not allowing myself to start any big new projects as the Rhubarb Ripple and other items are well in progress still. (You know the ones: the Alternative Granny Squares and, probably, the Spring Flower Squares. I say probably to the last because I’m having an iffy doubting feeling about those at the mo, but that’s another story…)

Only 20 more stripes until the ripple’s completed. I’m planning on 80 I think, rather than 85. It’s feeling like a ripple marathon to be honest and I’m ticking off stripes in a notebook as I go! Seems like a good thing to do to break the psychological barrier to finishing a rather massive project ;-p)

Hope you’re having a good weekend too.

Winter cooking & reading

I’ve never been one for chick-lit, but the cover and title of this book appealed to me last week, so I ordered a used copy through Amazon and started it last night…

…the main character bakes something yummy every day and it got my taste buds going; which is why I was measuring out various dried fruits and dark brown sugar at 11pm! I made a strong brew of earl grey tea, then left the sugar and fruit soaking overnight for a tea-loaf….

The oven was on by 8:00 and by 9:00 the kitchen smelled gorgeous with the scent of ground cloves.

As the oven was on it seemed sensible to roast some vegetables to go with couscous, a bit of bacon and a little creme fraiche for lunch…

Then, because it really was cosy in the kitchen with the radio playing and me sipping my new blossum earl grey (lovely orangey flavours) I made a casserole with the contents of my fridge: beef, aubergine, carrots, onions, red pepper, tomatoes and some herbs….

Now all this cosy kitchen stuff has to stop because I’ve got to do the not-so fun stuff on my list this afternoon, but I will look forward to a nice warming slice of tea-loaf!

Crocheting in bed

I really did go downhill yesterday, I thought that the streaming cold of Sunday would be better and probably nearly gone by yesterday but I woke up feeling really horrendous. I was even slightly tempted to take a photo to prove how hideous I looked and felt, but am truly glad I didn’t….it would be scarey viewing.

I’d read a tweet at the weekend which said something like ‘if all you want to do is sit up in bed and crochet – while watching a movie, then do’ (Or 140 characters worth of similar advice anyway!) I’ve never considered bed and crochet as being compatible; I have enough trouble with my hooks sliding down between the cushions, or onto the floor when I’m on the sofa. But as I was feeling so fragile, and bed was the cosiest place, I decided to try.

So far Mr Scrappy only had a body and one leg or arm which was all green when it was meant to be stripey.

(Here’s why it’s plain green, not colourful…)

I settled down against my pillows with my audio book of Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and made another one.

Anything you notice about them?!

I sighed and decided to carry on making Mr Scrappy’s body….while laughing out loud and feeling a little teary as the book progressed…

Lynne’s advice about using a stitch marker when crocheting in the round is sooo helpful. It really works!

Ok, so after going back and making another arm or leg I could see that crocheting after 2 glasses of wine, while watching Red Dwarf, might not have been such a great idea the other night…

I’ll undo the freakishly big plain green one and save the wool for another section of Mr S.

Not bad crochet for a poorly Rachel – especially while choking and sobbing over Me Before You.

I can’t recommend the book enough, it’s amazing by the way. So amazing I might even be listening to it again from the beginning.

Crocheting more of Mr Scrappy took my mind off how terrible I was feeling and I might even crochet in bed again one lazy weekend. Hopefully without all the germs!

Crochet dreams

When I was quite small I really, really wanted to learn how to crochet. My German Aunty and cousins had come over to visit us, bringing me a Sindy doll. They then sat and made crocheted clothes with scraps of wool, with no pattern! Very quickly Sindy had a huge wardrobe!

I was given a Ladybird Book of Crochet (I’d love to see another copy of this, but haven’t found one so far) and tried to master crochet, but it wasn’t to be. The drawings were all for right-handers. I have a Mum who is expert at sewing and knitting but not so much a crocheter. I did get the hang of chains but that was it. I went back to patchwork, embroidery and knitting.

The dream to learn to crochet must have been dormant for years because in 2008 I suddenly had a strong desire to conquer it once and for all. My helpful Mum went to her monthly Saturday craft group and asked a friend to show her how to make a Granny square. She then patiently showed me how to hold the hook, yarn and make them do what I wanted and I was off! I couldn’t get the hang of the fiddly central ring;  so just carried on trebling and chaining from Mum’s original foundation circle. I took my growing crochet to Yorkshire for a farm cottage holiday Christmas where as I worked it grew and grew while keeping my legs warm.

I finished the rug happy; although the middle is a bit wiggly since it was just a scrap of maroon DK, and the rest was oddments of DK yarn with 2 strands put together since it seemed to suit the large (6mm?) hook I was using. But, it does keep me warm when I’m snuggled on the sofa and as it was my first attempt I was thrilled with it.

Would you like to see it?

I took this photo when I was trying to really get to grips with crochet again last January, 2011, using this fab little book (pictured in the middle of The Yorkshire Blanket) which I bought from Amazon. Buy this book if you are new to crochet, or want to practise after a long break. I can’t recommend it enough particularly if you are a leftie like me. The illustrations are for both left and right-handers with very concise instructions.

I’m really enjoying trying new stitches, honing my skills and can’t get enough of doing crochet, studying crochet books, websites, the super Let’s Get Crafting magazine (when it’s crochet) or crochet blogs like the inspirational Lucy of Attic 24.

I found that I didn’t want to crochet in the summertime; because of sweaty hands I reckon and it can be hard to crochet while drinking G&Ts too! Then when I was in Boston in September I came across a novel ‘The Knitting Circle’ by Ann Hood. It really, really inspired me to take up knitting and crochet again. It’s not the genre of book I normally read but I was hooked for a while on the Knitting novel genre.

What made you start to crochet? When did you begin?

Next time I’ll post some pictures of the first items I made after using the Crochet Unravelled book and Let’s Get Crafting magazines.

Very best wishes on the first day of 2012 to you!

Rachel