Trying to be patient

It’s now week four of no crafting. I feel so frustrated at not being able to sit quietly to focus on making something for a few minutes. I didn’t realise how often I do that when I’m at a loose end, or when I feel I need a spot of calming or relaxed activity. I’m also missing my social crafting time, as it’s pointless really to go to a knit group and just sit. It’s genuinely surprised me how truly unproductive I feel too. I’ve crocheted (knit, sewed and generally fiddled around with new crafts) for years now. It’s a habit that’s been hard to consciously break. It’s only one aspect of life I know, and hardly a life or death situation, but as regular crocheters or knitters know it’s an important part of day to day life, for all sorts of reasons. The other thing is that after losing my mojo a little, I was suddenly raring to make all the things.

I did try this bit yesterday, adding in the grape, and the few stitches you can see was all I’d done when I knew I should stop. I did some more hoping magic might happen and it would be fine. I tried holding the yarn at another angle and very loosely, but it didn’t make any difference. It occurred to me to try to work through the discomfort, but bearing in mind someone who did the same and ended up with much more of an issue, I stopped. It’s not worth a permanent injury.

It is all caused by too much knitting, which although I do like, I now term ‘the devil’s work’. Doing crochet in all these years never caused issues particularly. I think I just forgot my own pacing strategy, where I usually don’t overdo knitting and I stop, or change to another type of project. I got carried away with the sock, then picked up my chunky lace knitting and it was too much for my yarn hand.

Anyway, I have an appointment with a GP on Wednesday and I’ll put arrangements in place for some private physio appointments. I hope I can return to crochet soon.

Wish me luck for a complete recovery please. Or send me ideas for alternative yarn holds …..between my toes? Over my shoulder and wrapped around my neck? Train a cat or dog to help?!

Ah well, back to my excellent book. Reading is good too.

How are you doing? All is well in your world I hope?

Joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along (although it’s more reading and no yarning for me this time.)

Taking Stock – April

Making : nothing still as my hand is very sore, it’s my right and I can’t even crochet; because holding yarn makes it sore too. So zero making and it’s not good. I’m surprised at how much I feel at a loose end.

Cooking: Baked Haddock with chorizo and tomatoes. Put wedges of lemon, some diced chorizo and cherry tomatoes into a tin and bake in a hot (200 degrees) oven for 10 minutes. Pour over a splash of white wine (I used mirin) and add haddock (or cod) fillets, season with freshly ground black pepper. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the fish is done. Delicious with new potatoes and a green salad.

Drinking: don’t ask……nothing except water and jasmine tea. I feel iffy this morning.

Reading: I finished Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars by Miranda Emmerson this week, it’s a good read.The National Herb Centre

Wanting: a cooked breakfast.

Looking: a little rough around the edges!

A corkscrew hazel, what a great looking tree.

Playing: I just finished listening to The Girl With all the Gifts by M.R Carey this morning. A 5* audio book.

Deciding: to move very soon; into clothes and a fully upright position.

Wishing: I had just said “No, thank you” to more drinks.

Enjoying: seeing bluebells appearing in woodland.

Waiting: to feel a bit sparkier.

Liking: The Girl with all the Gifts, I’m going to think more about it today; always a sign of an interesting and provocative book.

Loving: M&S Butter Mints.

Upton House and Gardens, NT

Pondering: the themes of those two books: what it is to be human and identity.

Considering: my next audio book.

Buying: a new pasta bowl. I dropped one and five doesn’t work!

Watching: The BBC’s The Woman in White.

Hoping: they haven’t changed it too much, as I only read the book last year.

Marvelling: at the cool temps after a week of ‘summer’.

Needing: something to eat.

Questioning: why we think we’re hilarious when drunk.

Smelling: perfume.

Wearing: scruffs.

Following: The Vegetarian Society for some new recipes.

Noticing: tiny lambkins in the fields around.

Knowing: it’s going to rain on and off all day.

Thinking: this is a cosy Saturday, yes, doing no craft feels like wasted time, but its better to rest and get better.

Admiring: all the Fairisle knitting on Instagram, I like spotting the current trends in knitting and crochet.I tried a bit of crochet one day this week, but decided it’s not a good idea if it causes discomfort.

Sorting: photos online.

Getting: an easier way to import them, by a happy accident.

Bookmarking: recipes for next week.

Coveting: longer finger nails.

Disliking: the way nail varnish looks good for roughly only 6 minutes.

Opening: last year’s varnishes and finding they’re now glue.

Giggling: at Grace and Frankie still, an episode every now and then is the way to watch.

Feeling: spoilt for choice with Freeview, The BBC iPlayer, Netflix and Prime.

Snacking: on raw carrots, as always.

Helping: people needing some encouragement and a little positivity.

Hearing: a little bit of traffic noise.

Mixing: nothing today, drinks last night….

Worrying: about the usual stuff.

Slicing: an onion a day for most dinners, what would we do with an onion shortage?!

Celebrating: birthdays

Forgetting: nothing important, so far.

Winning: £2:90 on the lottery Friday.

Pretending: it’s time for breakfast (at 12:36.)

Sneaking: no sneaking.

Embracing: the special ones.

Taking Stock list from Pip’s marvellous Meet me at Mike’s if you fancy writing one too.

Have a good weekend all! (I feel better post-breakfast.)

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.

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 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 Winston Churchill exhibition at Blenheim Palace, (his birthplace, home of his grandparents.) En route I noticed there are daffodils beginning to appear. It won’t be long before they’re everywhere in bright clumps of yellow. I love them!

I was held up in traffic on Thursday morning and quite glad when I noticed a large patch of snowdrops in a wood, on the hill at the side of the road. I wouldn’t have had the opportunity if the traffic had been better.

The joins make me think of those foam play mats we have for blocking.

I’ve spent a bit of time playing with my yarn leftovers and planning out my next strip of moss stitch (aka linen and granite) blocks. I thought it might be easier than trying to do it in the pub at Knit & Sip, in the semi dark. We ended up not meeting anyway this week, but no matter; it’s quite nice to have a plan. The fewer brain cells used during the evening, the better I find. It’s not my brightest time. Nor is very early in the morning. My optimum time seems to be between 10-3pm! This isn’t new either. I’ve always been the same. Are you at your best in the morning, evening or middle of the day?

A friend made me smile yesterday as she said she’s having a break from going to Slimming club. Her evenings are precious and she’s fed up hearing the same people complain about how hard it is to lose weight, when they don’t eat fruit and veg. I had popped into the garden centre to buy the birds a mealworm feeder and found myself wanting to shout ‘salad dodgers!!!!’ at the top of my voice. I refrained.

I haven’t made cheese scones since at least last summer. Yesterday I made a batch and this was the last three, with what I always call the knobble, made from the last bit of dough. The fact I haven’t made any for ages has been remarked upon lots. I reckon I’m close to being asked to sign a legal document, requiring me to make them at least once a month.

Once, years ago, I made heart shaped cheese scones for Valentines Day. Don’t do this; they look like bottoms.

The Hitchhiker is coming along. I laid it out to compare with mine. I still can’t believe it was finished and now look, so much still to redo! Ah well. There were nine teeth to knit yesterday, now only seven. ‘A tooth a day and it’s done’ I say to myself.

I came downstairs this morning to a surprise bunch of daffodils. Lovely. On Monday I collected David Sedaris Theft by Finding Diaries, vol 1 from the library and it’s a whopper of a hardback. A real brick.

If you haven’t read any of his other writing, I would suggest you start elsewhere. It’s not as funny, but I’m enjoying the insights into his experiences. Some of it’s pretty grim and sad.

What are you up to? Have you had a good week?

Five from this week

I went for a walk with a friend on a spur of the moment thing on Wednesday. We ended up walking over 6 miles in a big circular loop. It was a completely spontaneous thing, just a “hey, do you fancy a walk today?” We arranged to meet in the car park of a gym and I expected a walk around the nearest village. Instead we went off the beaten track, onto a public footpath alongside the edges of fields, turning onto country lanes and meadows of grazing sheep. Through wooded areas of bare wintery trees and the sports ground of a private school. We ended up nipping into a farm shop for a drink, gazing at all the luxury foodstuffs that neither of us need post-Christmas, back up into the village, across the main road and to our cars. All the time we were out, which was nearly 2 hours, we didn’t stop talking. That’s a good afternoon! My trainers are basically two big blobs of mud now. I should scrape them off and put them in the washing machine.

I’ve made some more cardamom gin. The Mermaids gin is nice enough but I fancied flavouring it. I put a small handful of whole cardamom pods into the bottle for 3-4 days (3 would have been plenty, but I forgot about it!) Poured it into a jug, through a tea strainer and threw away the pods, then put it back into the bottle. If they were left in longer than that it would too bitter to drink, I imagine. The flavour is strong, so a single measure (25ml) is plenty with a 125ml can of tonic.

I’ve started a second strip of moss stitch (aka granite stitch, or linen stitch) crochet. This is the easiest thing to take up and add a section to, in fact the most complicated thing about it is making sure the sections are the same length. I didn’t want to stow away the leftover yarn from Winnie’s Wave Blanket, I thought I’d use it up for another little blanket. If you like the stitch see Moogly for a great little tutorial, it’s dead easy. You do need to do a sample to make sure you use the right hook. My square was too thick and unwieldy using my usual 4mm hook; so I swapped to a 4.5mm and produced a softer, more drapey fabric.

I popped in to see Mum with some Butternut & Sweet Potato soup yesterday. I’d made a huge pan-full, but as I’m the only one who eats BNS or SP I thought it would be good to share, or I’d never want to eat it again after litres of the stuff. Barty was savaging a ball he was given for Christmas. He is funny; as I’ve said I don’t think he was given balls to play with when he was a kitten, so he doesn’t play ping pong like other cats we’ve had. I’ve tried to model batting it back and forth with my paws hands, and yesterday he sort of did it! Hurray, Rachel the cat whisperer!

I just started reading Follow you Home all snuggled up warm and cosy in bed this morning. According to my Kindle I’ve already read a fifth of it. It’s a quick read but also I’m a scaredy cat; so want to get to the frightening bits fast. This is a psychological thriller which features a train, a dark forest and rather odd, staring uncommunicative strangers. Dot dot dot!

What are you reading and making? Have you done anything spontaneous, which turned out to be one of the best parts of your week?

Have a good weekend all.

I’m linking with Ginny’s revived (now monthly) Yarn Along.

What larks!

Argh! A game of yarn chicken and I lost! I think I’ve still got about 7 ‘teeth’ to knit so Mum’s Christmas Hitchhiker is the same size as mine (fewer than 42 as per the pattern, but just right.) But actually I should, of course, have done the sensible thing and ordered more yarn than I thought I needed in the first place, to ‘make the most of the postage’ as someone from my knit group sensibly pointed out to me at the time. But this year I’ve been trying to not buy any more yarn, instead aiming to use up what I already have at home. This has been successful to a degree (ie: not very.) It’s pretty tricky when you’re making a stash bushing blanket, which turns into a gift for a brand new little one. So, naturally I ended up having to stock up on some colours. (Winnie is very sweet and after staring at me intently for a while on Thursday, decided I was very boring and popped off to sleep for the rest of the visit. She’s only nine weeks old though, it’s what they do eh? She definitely loved her Wave Blanket though, I know that.) So, with only days left of postal delivery before we all get snowed under drifts of Twiglets and iced gingerbread, I ordered TWO more balls of wool. Oh dear. I’m only going need about a tenth of one so I haven’t helped the stash situation much. Then it’s inevitable that you start a new project and run out and have to buy more, but with extra again to ‘make the most of the postage’ and so on and so on! I have a feeling that my yarn pile will start as a hill and end as a mountain.

Anyway, I took my new ball of yarn to the Knit Group’s Christmas meet on Tuesday night. This was at one of their houses and I endeavoured to knit another tooth in between delicious courses. The house turned out to be a large black and white timbered Tudor style from the eighteenth century (perhaps before) with floors of huge smooth flagstones, an industrial sized fireplace complete with log burner, beams and creaky staircases. Essentially I felt as if I had stepped into Christmas past. As a history lover with a vivid imagination it was hard to concentrate on the talk swirling around me and not drift into revelries about roast goose, pennies in stockings and merry gatherings. I’m currently reading Charles Dickens Great Expectations which only added fuel to the fire! If you’re casting around for something different to read, hopefully you’ll find it’s also a free classic on Kindle wherever you are too. It’s extremely readable and surprisingly funny, especially considering it was first published in 1861.

We all received a little Christmas emergency first aid tin from J (the Lego mitt knitter.) The row counter is gong to be so useful and the key ring hooks will be good for picking up dropped stitches. Someone has already said the little scissors would make excellent snips when fishing. NO THEY WOULDN’T!

If you’re like me you’ll be curious to know what we ate, won’t you? We started with nibbles and drinks, followed by squash soup (home-grown squash and onions) with a selection of breads, then a baked chicken, chorizo and rice dish, roasted vegetables with chickpeas, sun-dried tomato and olive pasta, then a really light and delicious homemade sticky toffee pudding with ice cream. I took a tin of Rocky Road that unsurprisingly everyone was far too full to touch, so I wrapped pieces up and gave it out for people to take home.

It was a lovely evening and I managed to knit another tooth too….hurray!

What are you making and reading at the moment? Are you still eating proper meals or grazing on all the Christmas naughties?

If this makes no sense at all and is full of mistakes; I have to say that I wrote the first half while sitting in the car this morning while waiting to collects omeone. The other half at four o’clock the following morning (now) as annoyingly I’m wide awake while the rest of the house/street/universe is asleep!

A Drum-roll seems only fair!

Last night I chose my border colours and sat down to start the tricky first row. I don’t think I want to crochet through the end posts again, yes it’s less gappy than working around, but it means you’re in danger of pushing out some of your darned ends. Phooey! It’s also damned tricky to do. That made me pack up my Hitchhiker knitting to take to Knit Group instead; as I didn’t think the light would be good enough to see, or the company would want to hear my groans and sighs.

I would very much like a drum-roll please while I complete the border, it seems only fair!  This has taken me far longer to finish than adult sized 6’x4′ blankets. Warm summer days, where the last thing I wanted was a blanket on my lap and sweaty yarn in my hands, and a house move contributed to the slowness of the making, not that there has been any rush really. I’ll show it to you once more with all the details including the yarn colours when it’s finished, before it goes to little baby Winnie next week.

I really like this simple edging. As you probably know I don’t really go for ornate borders, I reckon it can just be too much on a patterned blanket. But conversely an unedged blanket is a rather sad object, with a raw, unfinished look. There is a happy medium, isn’t there?

So on to Knit Group; do you remember reading this this post? (Oh sigh, please let’s not have porridge-gate all over again, tee hee.  I’m looking at you Vikki and Jill! Just whizz past the pictures and find the paragraph where I described what people were making…!) Teresa asked to see some pictures of what was being made and last night I asked if they minded me taking a few photos. It was a smaller group than usual, just a select four of us, but such an easy, relaxed night with lots of laughter.

First here’s A’s 4ply cream cotton bedspread in progress,  it’s one her mother began and she’s finishing, along with other half finished items. There need to be 20 squares or so and I think she was given 12. Look at those criss-crossing stitches and the detail on the leaves. Isn’t it lovely? It looks impressively complicated to me.

A. also brought along this gorgeous crochet shawl that she’s made for one of her young daughters. Apparently the yarn was cheap stuff and on offer in the local wool shop, but it feels luxuriously soft. Privately I thought it would rather suit me when I wear my smart black woollen coat and could imagine shimmering into a carol service, but sadly it was popped into a bag on the floor across from me. No stealing. Rats!Next there’s J’s Lego Man Mitts for her husband. They’re so fun! Not that the process of making them both has been much fun, as I understand the other mitt came into contact with a small boy and a pair of scissors…. He was taken to the wool shop to choose more wool and had to ask ‘the lady’ for the correct sized new circulars (yes, they were snipped too) which he didn’t enjoy. Lesson learned hopefully. She found the little figures in the bottom of her knitting bag. They look quite cross about me wearing the mitt I think.And P’s is currently a tea-pot cosy making machine, I can’t say anything much about it (secret squirrel) but it is making me want to try crocodile stitch. I’ve never been particularly keen on the stitch, now I wonder if it was the items I’ve seen made with it. P makes everything look good. The other knitted cosy is sooo special that I’m not dwelling on it, as it makes me feel knitty-knotty inferior! Yes, she does have a drink problem.I posted a pic of my Hitchhiker scarf the other day on Instagram. Click on the pink camera on the sidebar if you want to see how it’s getting on. After Winnie’s Wave Blanket that’s the next thing I need to finish for Christmas, for my Mum. Then the world is my oyster. Anyone who types the words ‘sock’ or ‘garter stitch blanket’ will be blocked. I mean it!

I chose this book first for my cosy Christmas reading, it’s so lovely, absolutely perfect.

What about you: Have you done any crafting with friends lately? What are you making and reading? Managing to resist the early festive treats or giving in completely to mince pies, stollen, chocolates or …..?

 

Feel free to add a link in the comments, to share your own Yarning Along post showing what you’re making and reading.

Cosy

Finally all the ends are darned and I can crochet the border! I can’t wait to visit little baby Winnie and give her this Wave Blanket.

It’s December 1st and so I’ve dug out my new-to-me books. I love reading Christmas fiction and a good friend passed on Coming Home for Christmas months ago. I think she’s got more for me too. I know she’s been looking out for them for ages, which is very sweet. I picked up The Little Christmas Kitchen in a charity shop months ago. Cosy reads for a cosy month. I’ve got several M.R James ghost storie anthologies on my Kindle, so will read some to balance out the gooeyness of the other books.

Talking of cosy; I’ve stocked up on Cadbury Drinking Chocolate and mini pink and white marshmallows too. I also bought a pack of All Butter Mince Pies yesterday. Well, you have to do these things right, and I’m not sure about icing sugar or frangipani topped pies. Isn’t that too much of a good thing?

What are you making, reading and eating at the mo? Go on, I’d love to know….

Kitchen sink post

This is what I’ve always called a kitchen sink post; since it feels like everything’s included except the sink.

I keep glancing up, as I type, to look at the long line of beech trees across the road. Their leaves are gently fluttering down and across in a diagonal line to fall straight into our garden. Some are hitting this window with a real ting. They’re not incredibly close by but the wind always seems to blow this way. There’s a carpet of coppery leaves covering the grass now and they’re not even our trees! Pretty though.

Previously I would darn the ends in a blanket on several lazy weekend afternoons; semi-watching a film or listening to an audio book, while the rugby played out on the tv. It got them done and I didn’t mind it too much at all. Hand sewing of any kind has always been relaxing. But this Wave Blanket is not getting darned very fast at all, as I’m sure you’ve noticed. Weekends have been busier lately (in a very nice way, no moaning here, or competitive ‘I’m the busiest person in the world’ boasts) and so no lazy afternoons to sit and focus. Today I’m meeting someone very yarny for lunch and when we were making arrangements last night she clearly instructed me to bring yarn. ‘Anything fibrous’. Does Stylecraft’s acrylic yarn count? Hmmm. Well, I don’t know that I can sit in a gastro pub and darn, that’s a step too far for me. I’m not entirely comfortable with knitting or crocheting in any public place, unless it’s tucked away on a bus, or as part of a knitting and crochet group. She currently carries a spindle and wodge of fleece in the depths of her bag, and thinks nothing of whipping out her knitting while queuing in the bank, walking up a hill or ….. I don’t have that kind of chutzpah, or obsessive compulsive behaviour around yarn. (Fingers and toes crossed she doesn’t read before this lunch. Could be embarrassing.)

So, the long and the short of it is that I’m beginning to feel awkward that this blanket isn’t done. I shall try to goad this feeling into determined action. Aiming for five ends a day would be something. It’s not huge after all, just fiddlier than my usual Ripple pattern. A dozen ends last week was clearly not reaching for the stars. That little baby Winnie needs her blanket.

I have been steadily knitting my Hitchhiker, adding a section at a time, and really like the different shades which are appearing. It’s Lang’s Tosca Light in Sapphire.

It’s all Christmas a go-go isn’t it? I did a double take when I saw the trees in the garden centre on Friday, but I imagine lots will be up and decorated from this weekend, as the first of December looms. I’ve only bought three Christmas presents, but feel quite pleased with myself. I don’t believe in rushing these things!

The Soup of the Week here has been tomato and vegetable, with that stunning bowl of plum tomatoes bought on impulse from the market. There were just over a kilo for £1. Bargain! It’s probably the ideal recipe for a summer glut of tomatoes when they’re at their tastiest, but it’s great with feta or blue cheese crumbled on top for added oomph.

~ Sweat onion, carrot and celery in a little rapeseed oil, then add 500g of ripe tomatoes, a 400g can of tomatoes, 500ml of stock, salt and pepper, a little sugar to take away the acidity of the tomatoes and a good handful of fresh basil leaves (or whatever fresh or dried herbs you fancy.) Add a tablespoon of red vinegar. Blend to a smooth consistency and enjoy.

I used up a vintage red pepper in my first batch a few weeks ago and that worked well. It’s a goodie for adding whatever you fancy. I’ve tried it with and without the red wine vinegar, it adds piquancy but is fine without too.

Reading: this week I’ve got four books on the go; one printed, one Ebook, and two audio.

1) I’m enjoying another Laura Ingalls Wilder from my childhood collection. A few chapters are good nostalgic reading late at night.

2) Yesterday’s 99p Kindle Daily Deal Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak reeled me in as I tried the sample and that’s almost certain to hook you into buying. I try not to download them, some days with more success than others! I’m really enjoying it and can almost certainly see a film being made from this one. It’s breaking my own rule about not starting Christmas books before 1st December, but whatever!

3) Bruce’s Born to Run audio book, read by him in that uniquely gravelly voice, which I will still be listening to in chunks next year because it’s over 18 hours long.

4) And finally, The Muse by Jessie Burton which I started on the way to Excel, London on Saturday for the Knitting, Stitching and Hobbycraft Simply Christmas show.

How much do you think I bought there by the way?

Answer…..a Carrot cupcake for lunch pudding! I was so restrained I nearly sprained something. Black Sheep Wools had bags of gorgeousness on sale, another seller had those Swirl cakes and Whirl cakes and all sorts of lovely wool blends. I resisted. Yes, I do deserve a medal, thanks very much, especially as my friend had told me to remind her she’s skint then bought bags of yarn and other fancies!

What are you making, cooking and reading this week? If you want to add your own Yarning Along link in the comments go for it. But tell us what you’re up to either way.

This week 

This week I’ve pottered about making-wise and haven’t really done much. It’s been brilliant to feel 100% well again after a rough few weeks. I was concerned there might be something quite wrong. When the GP pronounced my results, and therefore me, ‘normal’, I breathed a big sigh of relief. I’ve steadily gone back to being my usual active self, with a quite a bit of extra grinning. It’s just so good to get your bounce back after feeling awful, isn’t it?

On Wednesday I was out, wondering if I should try to rush home in daylight to take photos for my weekly Yarning post, but decided that was plain silly. It was far more fun to carry on with the five mile walk home I’d planned, in bouncy Tigger fashion as I felt full of beans again. Then I made the decision to have a break from it as I’ve posted YA updates non-stop since April without a week off, even on holidays. It’s time to pause. I let the regulars know there and then, and that happily was that. I’ll still show you what I’m reading regularly; as I like the return comments and links to your posts sharing what you’re making and reading. Do carry on adding yours whenever you feel like it. 

So, this week I’ve made my friend that pot-holder for her new narrow boat, so she won’t burn her hand picking up the kettle. Its a nice pop of pink to go with her scarf curtains too. (Thinking ‘eh?!’ See here.) If you want to make one too click on the My Designs tab at the top of the page for the free pattern. If you do can you let me know, or better still show me your make please? I get regular messages from people saying they’re copying my colour combinations, checking details of patterns or asking for crochet advice etc but frequently I never have an acknowledgement of my reply, or get to see their version. If that’s you: Go on! Show me please! I’m on all the usual social media and Ravelry, so it’s dead easy. 

I finished my bag at Sewing Club on Monday. I guess I don’t need to spell out that I’m not a fan of all the pressing when sewing, especially as the tutor doesn’t use water in her irons. I imagine it’s because she doesn’t want leaky irons in her car but it makes pressing tricky. Sometimes I have sprinkled water from my drinking bottle to steam out particularly irksome creases but this week I lost the will to live iron again, by the bag’s end! That crease line will drop out with use, won’t it? Perhaps if I go out in the rain it will definitely go. That’s maybe an extreme anti-iron solution.

I’m reading Bitter Lemons of Cyprus by Laurence Durrell and I can’t believe how good it is (this to raised eyebrows from Someone who bought it for me in 2014.) It’s funny and written in such an engaging style. I laughed out loud at Frangos and his cattle coming home in the evening, though felt a bit sorry for the one whose tail was being corkscrewed as he ran home.

When adding a few more rows I realised I can’t really decide if the Garter Stitch Blanket is ugly. It’s a stash buster and probably destined to keep someone in need warm, but I don’t want to send a truly hideous offering.

Last night I cooked this Chicken and Orzo one-pot dish but subverted the recipe using a little rapeseed oil, as I refuse to use yucky Fry Light.  It was very tasty, but next time I’ll substitute the suggested spices for smoked paprika, fresh oregano and thyme.

What’s your week been like? Whatcha making, reading and cooking at the mo?

Paused 

Another washcloth finished. Yep, it’s the lettuce coloured one. A good stretch of ends have been darned on my Wave Blanket and I’m working on a second rectangle for a pink pot holder. 

If you want to make one: ch 32, ch 1  then into 2nd ch on the hook *1 dc, 2 tr into 1 ch then miss 2 ch, repeat * to the last 3 stitches, miss 2, 1 dc into the last ch, ch 1 and turn. And so on. My first rectangle measures 6” x 6 3/4”.  Dc both pieces tog, ch 2/3 at the corners, work 20 ch for a hanging loop in one corner.

My friend and her partner have bought a small narrowboat for weekends away. Being creative and quirky she fancies making curtains out of scarves, so after lunch on Saturday we went searching in a charity shop and found some really pretty silky scarves. She’s going to chop up and hem them to hang above the windows. They’ll give some privacy but will still let the light in. The overall look she’s going for on the boat is crafty with splashes of colour.  I enjoyed hearing about the Mexican tiles in different shades of blue behind the little black wood burning stove and her plans for a pretty porcelain basin in the bathroom. Looking for scarves was the kind of treasure hunt I enjoy. I’m going to make a few things for them and thought a pot holder would be useful for picking the kettle up. I use my grey one every day, they’re so good when you have hot pan handles. 

I’ve got really stuck into the audio version of A Year of Marvellous Ways and returned the printed book to the library. The author’s narration is spot on; I believe she’s an actress, which makes sense of her skill at accents and well paced delivery. In my experience most authors are dreadful at narrating their own books, but this one is a joy to hear.  

I finished The Ballroom by Anna Hope, and felt it could have been great but it fell short. By the end it felt like something was lacking; either satisfactory character development or a proper end to Ella’s story, I’m not quite sure what.

And now I’ve got this motley selection of books to choose from…

What are you reading and making? Have you also got a pile of books by your bedside? And, tell me what you’re eating for lunch at the moment! I made this soup yesterday (with a red pepper as I’d run out of carrots.) It’s good.


If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday too, leave a link to your post in the comments. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

Yarning Along

This week I’ve knit some more of my garter stitch blanket and darned a few more ends of my Wave Blanket (not many, it’s a poor show I admit.) But since I’ve shown both of these many times I’ll refrain today. The baby was born on Friday so now I can tell you what I’ve been calling the wavey one for months now: it’s Winnie’s Wave Blanket. The new parents were so thoughtful to chose that name, weren’t they? It goes so well with her blanket. I always like a bit of alliteration.

My little pile of washcloths is slowly growing. I’ll do four and then might pause for a bit. I can’t wait to start a new crochet whatever, but need to just have the garter stitch blanket on the go. I dislike having multiple things semi-made; it muddles my head. So, get on and darn Rachel!

The Ballroom by Anna Hope looks like a lightweight historical novel doesn’t it? It’s not. I’m finding it grim and upsetting, but so well written I know I cannot leave it unfinished.

I picked up A Year of Marvellous Ways by Sarah Winman from the library the other day, as I’ve had the audio version for yonks now and thought it would be fun to listen to a chapter and read a chapter. I know you can buy both the audio and ebook which automatically sync, but there’s no way I’m buying two different versions of the same book! I love my local library.

If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday too, leave a link to your post in the comments. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

Cotton knit and crochet, plus more vintage reading

This week I’ve sewn another little zipped bag, perfect for my knitting. I really like the lime lining. The outer fabric looks almost like it’s a vintage flower pattern, but with modern colours. I wish I knew where I got it from it, but it was when I was gathering fat quarters and that’s a few years ago.

I’m on a mission to make more washcloths after checking that my nieces still used them. Apparently they’re now using the last two, the green and the yellow ones. Which green and yellow ones you’re thinking? Well, these! I rarely look back at any posts I’ve published, but this made me go a little bit awww and oooh. They’re not wearing little silver shoes anymore, now they’re 9 and 10 ( nearly 11) and seem to be all arms and legs.

Pot holder mark II is done, must crochet around the edges…

How many ends of my wave blanket have I darned? Mmmm zero, but the intention is there. This week I’ve said: “I must do some darning, especially as Sophie’s just gone on maternity leave. I’ve just gotta start.”

“Yeah yeah, I’ve heard that before.” 

I’ve knitted some more of my garter stitch blanket but the new colour isn’t right. It’s meant to be a stash buster, so I’ve added in parchment. I have plenty after all. But it’s not fitting with the rest. But I’m using up odd balls of yarn; so I can’t buy new, can I? Actually don’t answer that, because I’m really not. It’s going to be what it’s going to be… can you sense the determination?!

I’ve gone back to the audio version of The State We’re In as I wanted to find out what was going to happen next and had a few hours to listen while I travelled one day. The narrator is ok, especially if I alternate listening to some and read some. The Little House in the Big Woods was such a trip down memory lane that I’ve gone right on to the next in the series. Poor Jack though! How upsetting. As Laura wrote these books in her later years that memory must have surely still distressed her.

Have you reread any childhood favourites? What are you making? What’s your favourite drink at the moment? I’m on a bit of a peppermint tea jag again. 


If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday too, leave a link in the comments. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along. I’m still looking out for a links tool that’s compatible with WordPress. Can you keep your eyes peeled too on your favourite WP blogs? 

Yarning Along: a bit of this and that 

It’s definitely cooler and the urge to make lots of stuff has returned. This feeling is definitely seasonal. Although I crocheted my Wave Blanket during the summer,  I didn’t feel that I wanted to do it every day. Now I’ve gone back to wanting to craft every day and am suggesting meet ups with crafty friends.

Mine you I needed to stop crocheting last night when I was watching Strike. When he hit someone with his prosthetic leg, I had to put my pot holder down and concentrate! Have you been watching? It completely passed me by in the summer and so I’ve just watched the first three episodes on catch up. Strike is responsible for my biting my nails off last night. For the first time since last July, when I had a competition with my nine year old niece to see who could stop biting and grow the longest ‘white bits’. Drat! Now I don’t have fingers, I have stumps. And they hurt. I’d forgotten that happens. If you see me with my fingers anywhere near my mouth, you have permission to HIT ME. (Not too hard.)

So, this week I’ve been making: another pot holder just because it’s great cotton to crochet. I think a pair might be handy for taking things out of the oven, or maybe I’ll give this one to someone. A little zipped bag which I started at sewing club on Monday night.  I wrote about sewing club here. Looking at the pic, I just realised that pattern matching probably means the flowers should start in the same place after the zip, on both sides? I’m such a novice sewer. It was exciting enough that I managed to sew along a zip semi-straight, with a zip foot! Lastly, I was at Knit and Sip last week and decided it’s time to finish my Wave Blanket. Actually one of them said it’s plenty big enough for a two year old to snuggle under, which is what I wanted. I didn’t want to make a tiny baby blanket, as they grow so quickly and then it’s redundant. I’ve got to crochet one last finishing row, darn the ends then do a border. Then we wait for baby Winnie to appear. I think she’s due next month.

I started The Night Book at the weekend. I haven’t got terribly far into it, as I’m also reading the last few chapters of that Laurie Lee. Yes, the one I’ve mentioned for the last three weeks. I’m not entirely sure about The Night Book; I find myself cringing whenever Richard Madeley mentions sex or the main character getting naked. It’s not me, it’s Madeley. If you know who he is, you might understand?

What are you making? Is your book making you laugh, or cringe? Can you sew?

If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday too, leave a link to your post in the comments. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

Total relaxation 


Well, I now feel like I’m living in the 19th century as we are still without wifi (EE are incompetent idiots, they admit it. Kind of.) Due to having lovely friends who want to instant chat, which I’m not complaining about, I have now used up my data bolt on too. A little checking of high-data gobbling Instagram might also be the culprit too. I’ve had to come out to find some Wi-Fi to do this Yarning Along post! Such dedication. 

After being busy moving house, I couldn’t wait to go to Knit Group last night for the first time in ages and actually do something with yarn! I was truly excited about it and spent a few lovely hours knitting and chatting. So relaxing! The light in the pub is not fantastic, unless you want to go for a smoochy romantic evening of course (!) so I’ve found that just doing plain knitting is much better than trying to crochet. My elbow feels fine, but I’ll take it easy.  My knitting is slowly growing. It’s definitely going to be a slow long term project; a few years I reckon! 

There was a lot of interesting talk about making nettle yarn. I’m too lazy to go gathering bunches of nettles and checking to see whether they’re male or female (who knew?!) but I am genuinely interested to see what the resulting yarn will feel and look like. I couldn’t resist joking about making annoying husbands wear a knitted vest made of nettle yarn… but the joke’s on me as apparently you can make quite silky yarn. The more you manipulate the fibres, the smoother they become. I’ll show you if they do produce any yarn. 

My friend and I were on instant messenger this morning when my phone provider messaged to say I’d run out of data. I asked her to Google my two nearest library opening times, so I could pop in to pick up a new recipe book and use the free wifi. It’s great having a friendly PA isn’t it?!

I bought As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning at Trelissick, a NT property in Cornwall, for £1 a few weeks ago. I’ve always wanted to read it after enjoying Cider with Rosie some years ago. Laurie Lee’s writing style is really readable but well written. I can see why his books are classics. This one tells the story of how as a 19 year old, in 1934, he decided to walk to London from his small Cotswold village, he then decided to go on to Spain. (So far he’s only just got to Beaconsfield, some miles away from London.) 

What about you: what are you making and reading? Have you done any social crafting in the last few weeks? Heard of nettle yarn?

If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday too, leave a link in the comments. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

Wandering around 

On Monday morning I found myself wondering around my new home with a semi-dried bunch of chillies trying to find the best place to hang them. I soon realised this if this carried on much longer nothing else was going to get done! In the end I tied them onto the light cord of a lamp and got on with the heavy work of unpacking the kitchen. I didn’t stop for a sit down all day and then had to go and do some cleaning at the other house. One of my new birthday bottles of gin was opened at the end of the day… This one. It’s a goodie. 

Yesterday I’ve never been so glad to have had a long-standing appointment at the hairdressers, as I could sit down and not move for 1 1/2 hours. It was bliss and my back and aching shoulders thanked me. 

Now I’m trying for a better pace and keep reminding myself that not every box has to be opened in the first few days. I do need to search for a vase for these lovely flowers that have been delivered. Where on earth are they?  

As you see, I’m using the same book photo as last week; I haven’t touched my crochet. In fact it’s still in the boot of my car, but I’m halfway through reading Dear Lupin and it’s made me laugh out loud, many times. It’s a lovely book. 
What about you: have you been making much? Reading much? Wondering around trying to hang up a bunch of anything?!

If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday too, leave a link in the comments. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

Lists and boxes

We’ve been away again, and although this blanket travelled to Devon for a night and then to Cornwall for three, it came home without being touched. Too many places to visit and things to see! Since returning on Sunday evening I felt itchy-fingers keen to add a row or two, and found it a good way to relax yesterday. Life is very busy at the moment; I’m surrounded by flattened boxes, parcel tape and notebooks full of lists….

As for reading; I’ve just borrowed Dear Lupin by Roger Mortimer, a racing journalist, from the library. It’s the entire collection of letters he wrote to his son Charlie, over 25 years.  I hadn’t heard of it before but a quick flick through showed it would be a funny and warm read.  For the last few days I’ve been thoroughly enjoying The Summerhouse by the Sea by Jenny Oliver. I bought it on my Kindle while away in Falmouth. It’s perfect summer reading; well written with interesting characters and location. If you like Jenny Colgan, you’ll enjoy Jenny Oliver’s style too. 

If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday too, leave a link in the comments. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

BBC Countryfile Live

Once again we went along to BBC Countryfile Live. This was its second year and as it was so enjoyable last time, we were keen to go again. Again there was so much to see including multiple show rings and arenas for different displays: from farm machinery, both modern and vintage, pig shows, dog shows including terriers chasing after a lure, followed by hilarious attempts by forty or so of the spectators dogs (all hopeless, apart from one chocolate Labrador who probably thought it was food) BMX bike tricks, a chain saw competition and many, more more. My absolute favourite is the equine ring, which surprises me rather since I can’t say I’m a horsey person at all. Although I spent a lot of my early childhood pretending to ride horses; sitting sideways on one of our two swings, galloping along beaches on evening strolls on family seaside holidays and reading books about horses and ponies. However when I actually started horse riding lessons, after school each week, I was terrified! All I could think was that if the horse (actually a small, fat pony called Tumbleweed) decided to take off with me on his back, there was nothing I was going to be able to do about it. This was not a toy, or my imaginary turn on TV’s beautiful Black Beauty, but a living breathing animal. I begged my teacher Mr McColl not to let go of the reins. After two lessons with Mr McColl walking and trotting alongside, around and around the ring, it was clear that things had to change. The next lesson was jumping, after a few practice tries either I had to grow more trusting of Tumbleweed, and much braver, or Mr M was going to be worn down to a stick. (What a lovely man he was!) I gave up gracefully and carried on with ballet, tap and swimming club instead.

I took a lot of photos at CFL, of celebrities, displays, funny ducks, pretty geese, frankly ugly turkeys, pigs being guided around a ring and many more, but it’s far too much to put them all on here. If you’d like to see some more of the magnificent shire horses, always my top favourites, go to my instagram. Do watch a short video I took of the country’s only six team of shires. It’s so good. As you’ll see, they came really close. So close, the ground vibrated. This team are regularly used in tv and film, so I’m gong to keep my eyes peeled for them. 

CFL covers a huge area at Blenheim Palace and even if you didn’t intend to walk far, you would end up covering several miles. At the end of the day my pedometer said I’d walked eight. 

The weather was typically English, at least for August nowadays when summer seems to abandon us to show us a preview of autumn. Then everything pings back to summer again, sometimes in the space of a day or an hour. It isn’t exactly cold, but you need to travel with an umbrella and raincoat, as well as sunscreen and a t-shirt. We had all of these just for the day out. And all were utilised.

During a massive thunder and lightening storm complete with tropical rainfall, everyone dived under cover into tents and marquees. At least there were the goats to pet, Adam Henson book-signing in the tent’s corner to discreetly gawp at, and a fun egg finding game for small children, which was very amusing to watch. I chatted about the possibility of keeping rescue chickens too, or rather the very enthusiastic stall-holder was trying to persuade me that they’re very affectionate pets. She did offer me the opportunity to cuddle a chook, but I declined. The fresh eggs appeal, but keeping them is not for me right now.

The time difference between the photo of the coming storm, above the dappy looking goat portrait, and the return of the sun below was less than an hour! Everything dried up super fast and we returned dry raincoats to the rucsac.

There was no shortage of food and drink to sample and buy at the show. Produce seemed to be mostly British, with amazing smells tempting us around every corner. We lingered at the Food Heroes stage, but had missed the most famous chefs doing demos. From a wide array of choices I chose a pork bap with stuffing, apple sauce and crackling. I did remember to take a photo, but only after I’d snaffled the crackling. It looks somehow bare without it, so that’s in the deleted folder. Apparently the Welsh boss-man rode his bicycle from the stall holders’ campsite during the night, every few hours, to check on the pig cooking on its spit. He did a very good job, it was yummy. My other treat was Hereford ice-cream from a mother and daughter team from Rowlestone Farmhouse ice cream near Hereford. Actually it sounds as if the whole thing is a family endeavour; Dad is in charge of the dairy, Mum makes the delicious ice cream while the daughter works front of house. I had salted caramel and pecan, it was gorgeous. I confess that I’d willingly travel several hours to visit their ice cream parlour. (I wish they’d sponsor me to say that, ice cream would be fine.) 

I can’t work out if this photo is a bit odd; with the guy walking so close to the window. I just liked the way the company had dressed the potting shed shelves.

These carved crochet hooks were so smooth to the touch. I really am happy with my Clover Amour set, but was slightly tempted to buy a large wooden one.

As the rain was coming to an end we came across The Oxford Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, in a small tent near the river Glyme. I had a go at using a drop spindle. It’s much harder than it looks, but the lovely lady said not to worry about lumps; just call it Art Yarn! Ok then, I think I’ve discovered a latent talent…

I didn’t realise until I saw the stream of photos that I’d had quite an audience.

This week I’ve been busy. I’m rigorously decluttering and sorting out things. Yesterday I posted old clothes into a clothing bank bin, took bags of better clothes and boots, books and a heap of craft magazines to a hospice charity shop,  gave my old pairs of reading glasses to an optometrists who will send them to the Third World, Guide Dogs for the Blind have used postage stamps, The Blue Cross charity shop have foreign coins from my most recent travels (New Zealand, Malaysia, Israel, America, Australia and Hong Kong.) I donated some of  my academic books to the university library and I sent my last Star Ripple to Knit for Peace. As you see, someone else also snuck into the bag. I don’t mind and think Stanley might enjoy a new adventure.

I’ve tried some knitting after a few weeks break. My elbow feels ok, but no more again for a few days I’d say. This is a shame, but there we go. At least I’ve added in a new colour which keeps things interesting.

As for reading, I’m now listening to The Love Song of Miss Queenie Henessy by Rachel Joyce, having finished The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry which began the story and should be read first to get the full story. Oh my goodness, Celia Imrie is a fantastic narrator! I’ve always admired her acting, but had no idea she could do accents so well. Cockney to Scottish, women and men, she’s nailed them all so far in the audiobook. Also, I’m halfway through reading Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals. This is slow for me, but I kept listening to Harold Fry in bed instead and woke up an hour later several times. The dulcet tones of Jim Broadbent had sent me to sleep. Audiobooks don’t work for me at bedtime at all, but still I try from time to time and then miss huge chunks of the story.

Have you been on any days out recently? Can you listen to audio books at bedtime without falling asleep? What are you making and reading?

If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday too, leave a link in the comments. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

Yarning Along & the magic of plywood

On rainy Sunday I sat and crocheted on and off for several hours, this means I’m now wondering how much more to do. It’s a baby blanket, as you probably recall, and now measures 28″ by 31″. It’s obviously going to be wider than 28″ with a border, but I’m not sure how much longer it needs to be; as I always think that to be properly useful a baby blanket could be big enough for when they are a toddler, and can to snuggle underneath.

I thought I’d tell you about Friday, when I met a friend in London for the day. I’d suggested we visit the Museum of London as I’d seen they have an exhibition all about junk and recycling, which highlighted how previous generations fixed, saved and valued household items. This Guardian article made it look really promising, and we both thought it sounded like a winner. Nowadays, we tend to judge visits and outings by three main criteria: are they better, equal or worse than the Thames Barrier Experience, the Fan Museum or the Home Sewing Exhibition that I once went to visit, with great anticipation. I won’t spoil the first two by revealing our rating, you’ll have to visit them yourselves and work that out for yourself. You’ll probably experience them differently. Anyway, when we got to the museum we soon realised there were only three scant cases of exhibits (semi-broken pottery and tatters of leather; once shoes) and some information on the wall panels. And that, as they say, was that. The main exhibition adjacent to the cases was London Through the Ages. This hasn’t seemed to change for years, since I recognised most of it. I realised that my friend was slowly moving around and dragging her feet and when she said “I feel like I’m on the school trip” I realised just how un-fun it was and that she really wasn’t enjoying it. Nor was I really, but I didn’t like to say in case she was really into it. I have to say that they really need to up their game, because it could be a fantastic informative and fun museum. As she says, it’s like stepping back into our school days where museums were dark, dingy and unappealing, without any interactive or imaginative displays. You would trudge around after the teacher, clutching your a clipboard and pencil on a string, completing the most boring worksheets.  The most exciting part was eating your packed lunch afterwards! (To my foreign readers; does this also sound familiar?!)

The MoL really doesn’t compare with The V&A, they are absolutely poles apart in terms of enjoyment, learning and fun. Last time we went was at the end of April, when as part of the Friday Late activities we ended up in a yurt, lying on giant beanbags in the dark howling with laughter. It was set up so that every time someone tweeted, the lights inside flashed. It doesn’t sound funny but, trust me, it really was! (We were alcohol free, just in case you’re wondering.) On Friday afternoon we popped into an exhibition about Plywood, to fill some time while the demonstrators set up their interactive displays for the evening. Yep you read that correctly, it’s all about Plywood. We smirked about it, ready to write the day off as being one where we’d tried to do interesting and fun activities, but failed. But how wrong we were! Plywood! It’s absolutely fascinating! You learn how it’s produced, how it can be moulded, about its strength and durability, its lightweight nature, the inexpensive way it can be produced, watch historical and contemporary films from around the world showing it being made and fashioned into all kinds of items. There are scale models put forward for patents for different items, the current innovative ways of using it and the laser cutters which I didn’t really know anything about… I never realised plywood had such a varied history, or has so many uses. It’s just not something I’ve ever spent much time to dwelling upon. I guess you haven’t either have you? Here are a few uses: post-war housing, aeroplanes, tea-chests, Singer sewing machine cases, surfboards, speedboats, chairs, tables, stalls, beehives, sports cars, car parts, and many many more…Check out this Time Out article about the exhibition if you don’t believe me. It’s on until the beginning of November, if you can get to it. It’s free and well worth allowing a good half an hour, or more, if you like to watch all the films and read everything.

As for reading: I’ve been listening to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce as I’ve got the sequel The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy, but it’s been 4 years since I heard the first. I couldn’t remember much about how it ended. I started listening to the first chapter on the way into London on Friday, intending to jump to the last one after that. But I was gripped and am now an hour from the end. I’ve listening to it in 10 minute bursts whenever I can and while I crocheted on that rainy Sunday. It’s a truly beautiful story. I wonder if anyone has replicated Harold’s pilgrimage? I bet they have somehow! I should Google it.
I always have an audio and printed, or e-book on the go, and I’m reading My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell. It was a Kindle Daily Deal for 99p, the other day. It’s funny and well written. I can’t help picturing the actors from the TV series, although some are very different to those described, but it does bring it alive.

Have you been to any interesting exhibitions lately? What are you reading and making? Do you find you’re less productive in summertime?

If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday too, leave a link in the comments. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

Citrus stripes

Garter stitch stripes with 250 stitches a row is not as boring as I expected. I thought it would be a two row job at the most, each sitting and then the yawning would begin. Changing colours every other row seems to keep it feeling fresh, and with my citrusy lemon, lime and orange it’s definitely that! I’ll tone it back down with the next colour; otherwise we’ll need sunglasses just to look at it. I’m carrying on with a colour until the ball runs out, then grabbing another from a big bag. It’s a stashbuster so is going to have an ‘interesting look’, not my usual blend of colours. I tend to buy yarn only for specific projects and these are leftovers from blankets, and a few from a yarn kit I bought when I was new to crochet. There are a couple of colours that I dislike but I’m hoping blending them with others might help. If not, l’ll donate them to a charity knit group.  I took it to an outpatients clinic on Monday, while I waited for someone, and the nurses all seemed to walk past smirking. I guess I was an incongruous sight as everyone else was staring at the wall or their ‘phone. No one had a book, though I guess some might have been reading an ebook. That old chestnut about knitting helping to calm and provide a distraction is so true, once you’ve got over the smirking nurses and disinterested stares. But I have to admit I thought taking my knitting while I waited might be nice for other people too. It would be my way of helping anxious outpatients. A Florence Nightingale of yarn. They could be soothed in the manner of those slow tv programmes; where you’re following the journey of a canal boat, or seeing someone hand turning a wooden bowl in real time. Maybe it would even provide distracting opportunities for them to talk about how they’d love to learn to knit, or prompt them to reminisce about their Grandma knitting jumpers when they were young. Serves my vanity right! 

As for reading: I’m still going on with The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan. It’s all going to connect soon and I’m quite intrigued to see how the four (or is it six?) characters share the story. I’m listening to The Plays of Alan Bennett and yesterday finished The Madness of George III,  now I hope the next provides some lighter relief. Really I’m waiting for The History Boys.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched the film and I’ve also read the play, there’s just something I love about it. The flowers were taken a our visit to  Saltram House  (see below) and garden, Devon, on Sunday on the way home. This week my body can’t understand why it’s not allowed pasty for lunch, cake for afternoon tea and cider before dinner…it’s definitely got the holiday blues. We walked 69 miles while away to try to balance these out. And because we love the coast paths around there. 

If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday too, leave a link in the comments. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

Lazy mornings 

Sitting in bed in the mornings glancing out at the sea, I’ve been adding a few rows to my knitting and crochet. It feels really lazy and holidayish, so perfect really. I never do this at home, only when I’m away. 

Last week I bought a fluffy book to bring away with me, but discovered that it’s one I’ve read already. No matter. I found The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan on Kindle, read the sample and know it’s the book for me. At £1.99 it wasn’t a hard decision to make! This is the blurb: Antony Peardew, once a celebrated author, now in his twilight years, spent half his life collecting lost objects; trying to atone for a promise broken many years before. Realising he’s running out of time he leaves his house and all his lost treasures to his assistant Laura the one person he can trust to fulfill his legacy, and reunite the thousands of objects with their rightful owners… sounds intriguing doesn’t it?

If you’d like to share a photo of what you’re making and reading every Wednesday, leave a link in the comments and I’ll add it here. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

1: Simply Summer Street

2: Vikki Bird Designs

3: One Creative Cat

4: Needles and Wool

Cornish mining distraction

I’ve never knit anything much with Stylecraft Special DK before and I started this garter stitch blanket just to use up some odd balls. I’m really liking the softness of the fabric as it slowly grows. I felt very encouraged when I handled Phil’s version. It’s so drapey and soft. I actually wasn’t making this for anyone in particular, but maybe it will end up being mine as a snuggling blanket for cold nights? It’s 250 stitches long, I’m knitting the width as Arne & Carlos instruct. This is not going to be a fast project and I didn’t go to knit night this week, so it’s been abandoned in its bag for a day or two. I’m still catching up on series 2 of Poldark and it’s imperative I give him my full attention!

This week I’m reading Perfect by Rachel Joyce. I listened to her first novel: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry a while ago, so when I saw her second novel in the library I grabbed it. It’s set in summer 1972, here in England, where two boys are intent on rescuing one of their mothers from what the blurb calls ‘impending crisis’. There’s also a present day story, set in the winter, which concerns Jim who struggles with OCD. There is a connection, but what?

Before I go I just have to recommend Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I read it last week in several big gulps. I could not put it down, without reluctance. (The film adaptation starring Reece Witherspoon is good too.) It’s the true account of Cheryl, who when she was 22 experienced huge feelings of loss and grief. She decided to walk the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State, alone. I was backpacking at that same time and although our travels were completely different in fundamental ways, there were similarities: experiencing the kindness of strangers, making instant bonds with people you meet along the way and the ways in which you feel yourself change. As the book neared the end it was pleasing to picture many of the places along the Oregon and Washington border, because of Teresa Kasner’s blog. She’s written about and photographed many of the places mentioned.

If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading this week, leave a link to a current post in the comments and I’ll add it here. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

1: One Creative Cat

2: Vikki Bird Designs

3: Made by Patch

4: Needles and Wool

It’s still hot 


This is possibly the laziest ever photo I’ve taken for my blog; sitting on my bench in the garden I threw my knitting down and clicked (it is 32-33 deg today.) You might be thinking my sandals do nothing for the picture, but I like that blue contrasting with the grey and grape stripes…

I’m listening to I See You by Clare Mackintosh and am finding it gripping in much the same way I felt at the beginning of my last audio thriller (The Girl Before by J.P Delaney.) I seem to be having a bit of a run on them. I do like trying to figure out what’s going on. I worked out the last fairly early on though, and was disappointed to be right. By the end I felt that I liked, but didn’t love it. There needs to be some clever, gasp out loud, twists to really impress. Let’s see if this one can accomplish that task!

Yarning Along: 
If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading this week, leave a link to a current post in the comments and I’ll add it here. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.


I’ve had quite a few people say they’d love to join in but they don’t read fast/much/at all. Books are books, and non-fiction counts! Recipe books, craft, gardening etc etc, I think we just like to see what each other are reading. 

1: Nice Piece of Work

2: One Creative Cat

3: Simply Summer Street

4: Vikki Bird Designs

5: Needles & Wool

6: Wooly Cakes & Wooden Spoons

Something really easy


After meeting Phil of The Twisted Yarn on Yarn Shop Day I met up with her and some of her knit group at a very nice village pub last night. And of course I made the rookie mistake (which I make time and time again) of not taking something very, very easy. So, some of the time my fingers were moving across my Wave Blanket trying to quietly check my stitch count…..4,2,2,4,2,2,4 and work out what I needed to do next. It was ok in the end, after a bit of undoing, but I know I need to start something really easy for when I’m social crafting; it’s dire otherwise for my concentration. It’s always my crochet or knitting that suffers, not my conversation. But then perhaps I can’t really be the judge of the quality of that, can I?! Phil and the others have invited me back, or perhaps it was politeness; it’s a very friendly group after all.

I’d decided that I really liked them after the first 15 minutes and so maybe unwisely launched into tales of other knit groups. There was quite a bit of teasing about them being fodder for the next group I join. But, I’m being nothing but complimentary. It’s genuine too. Ah, I have to add that this was my first ever group where everyone started off crocheting! Not one single person sniffed at me and said “Oh, you’re crocheting. Can’t you knit?” It almost felt miraculous.

Please don’t ask me about the sock…there’s no news, yet. I just need to sit and concentrate on the next stage. You know by now that I am a prize procrastinator and so I’m excelling at delaying starting the heel. Instead, I have cast on to start Arne and Carlos Garter Stitch Blanket which is going to be super easy. Perfect for social crafting.

As for reading: last week I’d only just chosen A Ghost in the Machine from the library. Now I’m really stuck in and it’s exactly as good as I thought it would be; well-written, well paced and the lead up to the key event has been interesting. I’m reading a little every day, since there are quite a number of villagers and I don’t want to have to skip back and forth trying to refresh my memory with key facts.

If you’d like to share a photo of what you’re making and reading this week, leave a link to a current post in the comments and I’ll add it here. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

1: One Creative Cat

2: Needles and Wool

3: Vikki Bird Designs

Waving


I’ve had terribly itchy fingers lately. I just really wanted to do some crochet, anything just to do some. I did have a good search for Log Cabin type blanket patterns. I might make one sometime, but for now I decided I wanted something I can pick up and add to whenever I want to. I don’t really like the way it looks when you add stitches along the sides of the central square. I tried a few patterns. The Wave stitch suits me better at the moment, and I like the way the colours flow.
 This is also another way to use up some of my leftover Stylecraft yarn from other blankets. This Wave Blanket is just going to be a small one, and will probably end up going to Knit for Peace with the last Star Ripple I made, as I don’t know anyone that needs them. Etsy is flooded with crocheters selling blankets, so I doubt it’s worth adding them. I enjoyed getting into the rhythm of the wave pattern last night, as I laughed along to an episode of Graham Norton.
I picked up A Ghost in the Machine by Caroline Graham yesterday at the library. I’ve never read or watched any of the Midsommer Murders but I read the first page to see if I liked the writing style and it looks good. Hopefully I won’t miss anything having not read the previous six. Before I go I have to highly recommend my last library read: The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso. It’s witty, thought provoking and a perfect length. 


If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading this week, leave a link to your post in the comments and I’ll add it here. (Still haven’t found a DIY Linky thing which works with WordPress blogs, but I’ll keep looking.) Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

I’ve had quite a few people say they’d love to join in but they don’t read fast/much/at all. Books are books, and non-fiction counts! Recipe books, craft, gardening etc etc, I just like to see what others are reading. 

1: Vikki Bird Designs

2: Wooly Cakes and Wooden Spoons

3: One Creative Cat

4: Mossy Road

5: Simply Summer Street

6: Kneedles and Wool

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.