A third 

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

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

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

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

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.

Baby Annabell’s clothes

 Yesterday I made a little tunic top and am halfway through a poncho. The poncho is so cute! The owner of the Baby Annabell will be 3 next week, and so I shall pop these into the post in the next few days. I just need to sew on a couple of buttons and darn the ends.

Doll’s clothes are fun, I’m finding. I’m not one for toy making, but clothes are satisfyingly fast and so cute. I did think Baby Annabell (36cm) clothes patterns would be leaping out at me, but it took quite a lot of searching on Pinterest and Ravelry. I didn’t want to design any myself and preferred to find freebies this time. I’ll take another photo when they’re both finished. Links to the patterns are here on my Ravelry project page.

Joining with Ginny’s Yarn Along: I finished listening to the last of the enjoyable The Kasmir Shawl last night, as I made the tunic. I’ve been alternating it with Moranthology, which had me laughing far too loudly on a plane last Friday (the bit about how Keith Richards cooks sausages. I’d had a double gin…)

The Woman in White is nearing the end. My Kindle reading speed reckons it’s another 1hr 20m but I’m determined to finish faster. I feel like I’ve been reading it for years. It is surprisingly funny and this is my favourite line of the book, so far, it’s at the end of a letter which has been delivered to our hero:

You can have no possible cause to complain of these precautions, seeing that they do not affect the information I here communicate, in consideration of the special indulgence which you have deserved at my hands. My hour for tea is half-past five, and my buttered toast waits for nobody.’ 

Good lady!

All at Sea Shawl II 

It’s so sunny today! A really beautiful morning.


Aren’t the colours in this yarn lovely? I reckon it’s sock or lace weight as it feels quite a bit finer than the 4 ply I used for my Raspberry scarf.

I decided to crochet another All at Sea shawl as the first one I made was with DK and I fancied another go with (probably) the correct weight yarn. The pattern by Elisabeth Davis de Herraiz is available here on Ravelry, or in Simply Crochet 22, if you have a shelf of past issues like me.

I’m going to have to go back to print versions of crochet magazines I reckon; I’m behind with the last two issues of Inside Crochet. I just don’t pick up my ipad and stick to reading them on there; I get distracted by other sites, usually social media. Digital versions are good on the space shaving front, but I do like to see curly page markers poking out of back issues. It’s so much faster and easier somehow to grab one and just think ‘I’ll make that today!’ than to scroll through digital versions. Wow isn’t life hard these days?! It’s all the choice.

This is turning into a ramble when it was meant to be one of those sharp and to the point posts, but I’m re-reading The Thorn Birds and life in outback Australia in the early 20th century was so hard. It’s strange re-reading something I haven’t read since my teens. What I really remember is scenes from the tv series: that white shirt, the ashes of roses dress, Mary the dragon, Fee with the careworn face, the run from him on the beach, Luke/Bryan the b****** who ended up marrying Meggie/Rachel in real life afterwards, though at the time I couldn’t understand why…. Skipping the descriptive passages then to get ‘to the good parts’ means that it’s quite a different read this time around, especially as I’ve spent lots of time in Australia. It’s a good book actually, much better than I expected.

It’s noticeable that when an author dies their books leap up the bestseller lists. I bought Judith Kerr’s When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit (surprisingly humorous given the subject matter and the fact that it’s semi-autobiographical) and The Thorn Birds for this reason; seeing that they were suddenly in the eye-catching Kindle top ten sellers.

I’ve completely lost the flow of this crochet post now and am thinking about The Thorn Birds book, combined with mixed up memories of the tv series!
In summary: This is my new make and I’m re-reading a long-ago-read-book. I now need to decide what kind of pudding I’m making for family dinner at the weekend!

What are you making, reading, planning?

ETA: Apologies – Judith Kerr is still among us! See comments below. 

Knitting idiocy, darning idiocy & a bowl of coconut porridge

20140209-195937.jpg I can’t quite believe I blithely said that I would cast on, and take this lace pattern to a new knit group a friend and I visited last week. What was I thinking?! Especially as I’ve said here that I’ve always taken crochet or something easy to knit while I chat and drink. So, I cast on the 70 odd stitches, knitted 3 lines chanting k2tog, yo, ssk, psso etc and realised I’m just going to either knit a cobweb, or seem like an total oddball. I grabbed the rest of a ball of bamboo cotton, my little notebook and knit another waffle knit cloth. I still had to concentrate but it was far easier than doing the lace pattern chant and appearing really antisocial.

20140209-195952.jpg
20140209-195958.jpg

For my usual knit group later in the week I took some Not so soothing (after all) granny squares  and sat darning the ends in for the whole evening, until my eyes felt like they were bleeding. So, that’s 480 – 140 = 340 to go. Never again, NeVeR. It’s a crochet wasteland at the moment here I know. But if I start something new the granny squares will be permanently in my Yarndale bag undarned.

20140209-200005.jpg
I’m not (really) going to mention the amount of water that’s surrounding us, and which has the potential to flood the house. There’s no point getting worked up or worried at this point. We were on flood alert over Christmas and it came to nothing. Although the cumulative effect of all this rain means we have fields and fields and fields underwater all around and impassible roads…. I was awake, looking out of all the windows, in the early hours last night just checking that the neighbours weren’t canoeing along the road. We had a huge storm and I think the high wind woke me up, plus the fact I’d checked the flood status (‘on alert’) before bed meant it was on my mind. Anyway, let me share my gorgeous recipe for a warming, very filling breakfast in these rainy times. I keep making it and never ever need to eat before lunch after this bowl of yumminess.

Coconut porridge

45g porridge oats
300ml skimmed milk
2 tsp light brown sugar
1tbsp desiccated coconut

Put all in a pan and cook on low for at least 15-20 minutes. You get the creamy flavour from the porridge with added texture of the coconut, sweetness and flavour of the brown sugar. It is DELICIOUS.

I’ve had banana porridge, apple, cinnamon over the last 4 months, and also eaten it plain, but this coconut version is my current favourite. I was rooting about in the pantry one morning for something different to add to it and came across the coconut. It was leftover from when I’d baked a coconut and cherry cake last autumn. Try it and let me know what you reckon? MMmmm roll on tomorrow morning.

My current reading…

Printed book: Park Lane by Frances Osborne.

Kindle: re-reading (guilty pleasure) The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs.

Audio book: I’m really enjoying Red Joan by Jennie Rooney,  narrated by Juliet Stevenson. I’ve listened to other books she’s read and love her style (I keep hearing a cello at certain times as I strongly associate her with Truly, Madly, Deeply but that’s not too distracting!) It’s turning out to be a cracking story with mystery, intrigue and some complex characters.

Thanks for your recommendations last week.

Lately

20140127-102459.jpg
Look at those gorgeous cottons, I really had fun with these. You’ll see what and why soonish. It made me feel very happy I can say. I stopped and took the photo of the little room’s bed in full use to the side of my desk because it was so colourful and busy looking. I banned myself from using smileys in the middle of posts ages ago, but picture a winking smiley here.

20140127-102549.jpg

20140127-102556.jpg
Spending Christmas money is fun. The 5 year journal is one of the things I treated myself to (from Amazon.) And, it’s fab. You can start anywhere during the year and fill in a few lines in answer to a question posed at the top. Sometimes it’s an easy question, such as: list three foods you ate, what is the oldest item of clothing you’re wearing or what was the most peaceful part of your day today? Others are quite a bit more thought provoking, especially as you have to write succinctly. The trickier questions include: What makes you ‘you’, are you holding a grudge? About? And if you were starting a company what kind would you choose? It’s fun, takes no time at all to fill in really and could be interesting serving as a future aide memoir to where you were, what you were thinking, dreaming, eating, drinking, watching, listening to etc back when you began.

20140127-102743.jpg
I had a mini Christmas yesterday with my cousin and her partner. We ate roast lunch, cake and opened presents. It was fun and, like a friend said, there should be more of these pop-up Christmases! Look at my lovely haul – especially the beautiful fabric, ribbon and the lovely coloured owls. They’re going to have to be used for something very special.

20140127-102754.jpg

Crafty wise I’m not allowing myself to start another knit until I sew up the fingerless mitts. So, no knitting has been knitted for a few weeks. Boo. I’m visiting a new knitting group this week and think I might take knitty sticks, rather than crochet, so they’ll have be sewn before then. Crochet..? Oh boo as well. I love crocheting in the evening, when the tv, audio book or radio’s on, but dislike darning the ends in as I go as it stops the whizzy crochet. So now I have 12 completed huge granny squares with many ends a flappin’. That’s 480 ends…..

Have you any Christmas presents that you’re really loving and recommend?

A very crafty Christmas

Between Christmas and New Year I inevitably find I drift around in a bit of a haze. Driving merrily along to go through a village on my way to sale shopping I came across this…

20131227-153359.jpg

20131227-153438.jpg

20131227-153447.jpg

20131227-153458.jpg

20131227-153505.jpg

20131227-153512.jpgI just forgot we’ve had a little a lot of rain this week. After taking these photos of what are usually fields I turned my car around and went another way as the road was blocked with flood water. If it does carry on as predicted the water on either side of the roads will not be contained within the fields and water meadows. I’m not thinking about how much water surrounds us.

I have obviously been a very good girl this year…

20131227-152110.jpg

Aren’t these the best kind of presents? So much to be busy with into the New Year, so much inspiration. I was also lucky to be given a Hobbycraft voucher and bought the fabric in their sale. A metre for £5 was too good to miss especially as the material feels pretty good quality. In fact I’m thinking I might get ahead and sew some gift bags for Christmas 2014! After finding bargain packs of 10 cards, 3 for £1, I’m having a forward thinking day. (I know, I know, I’m making you cringe right?!)

What was your favourite present? Have you been given crafty Christmas gifts too? I’d love to see what you’ve been given if you want to post a picture somewhere and put a link in the comments below.

Time to curl up and catch up with more Christmas tv and film now. Lebkuchen, chocolate and glass of port anyone? Don’t judge me.

I could spend hours here

Recently we stumbled across the kind of higgeldy piggeldy secondhand bookshop which seems to be a dying breed. As you enter there is a long wide corridor lined on both sides with shelves and shelves of contemporary fiction. If you were fond of a particular author it would probably be possible to read their entire work as there are so many books.
Towards the back of the shop there is a warren of rooms full of different genres of books and also an impressive collection of maps. There are stacks of books on the floor, boxes of books, shelves full and the occasional chair or stool where you can perch to browse. I absolutely love this shop and wish they were still to be found in every town like they used to be.

20131207-154242.jpg
This is an under the stairs alcove, full of Bibles and works of theology. Can you see the outer pages of the book to the right upon which the huge family Bible rests? That has two separate inscriptions to twin boys on the occasion of their 11th birthday from their ‘dear Mother.’ It’s dated 1879. These inscriptions gave me goosebumps. It’s only £5. I have little interest in the actual book, but felt sorely tempted to save it from being a prop on the bookshelf.

Another pocket sized Bible is inscribed to Florrie from her school and is dated 1934. I also wanted to save that too…
20131207-154250.jpg

20131207-154258.jpg
Dictionary corner

20131207-154306.jpg

20131207-154315.jpg
My favourite area (with bells on) is full of cookery books. This is really where I had to be dragged away by the arm when time was ticking and we needed to leave.

20131207-154330.jpg
I had to take a photo of this sign, what a brilliant name. Even better – behind me was a Farm Shop which is crammed full of fresh breads, meats, cakes and cheeses.

20131207-154340.jpg
Oooh and it was a special day with extra stalls outside, Somebody tasted some turkey, I had a warm cheese scone and then we went inside to work our way along the cheese counter testing every free sample. That was rounded off with lots of tastes of local beer.

20131207-154351.jpg
Hmmm what shall I buy? As my adapted Butterkist popcorn chant goes “Lardy cake, lardy cake rah, rah, rah!” Which would you have chosen…?

20131209-171005.jpg
I’ve lit our new Advent candle tonight and I don’t mind at all that I need to catch up on nine days burning – it’s making a lovely cosy warming glow. Perhaps mulled wine is called for too? It IS Christmas, sort of…

Yarn Along

This week I haven’t done any knitting and only a little bit of crochet. To be honest I just haven’t felt like it; I’ve not been well for a week and a half, but hopefully am on the mend. If not there’s going to be a blood test for glandular fever. No thank you very much. It’s quite hard to tell if I’m feeling perkier today since the antibiotics make me feel so unwell, but I think I’m feeling better. Time will tell.

I popped to the library this morning though as I though it might be a good idea to get out.

20130807-140503.jpg

The little grey paperback is my current read – Goodbye to all That by the writer and poet Robert Graves. Originally published in 1929 then reread, for the first time since publication, and revised by the author in 1957 it’s an account of his childhood and experiences as a young officer in the First World War. I wanted to read something by Graves after reading Pat Barker’s superb Regeneration trilogy.

I’ve been watching a bit of The Barefoot Contessa for the first time on The Food Network this last few days. I’m not altogether convinced by her ‘recipes’ but then the series is titled ‘Basics’ or similar. Seeing some lovely foodie places in San Francisco on one episode made me grab Jamie Oliver’s book. I’m definitely convinced by his food, especially after using others of his cookbooks and eating at his restaurant Fifteen when it opened and several times over the years.

I pounced on the Alice Bliss novel as I’ve had it on my Audible wishlist for ages, but if I can read it for free without using a credit then even better.

My audio book this week is The Brimstone Wedding by Barbara Vine, read by Juliet Stevenson. I wonder if she was told to go fast for this one as the measured pace of Sweet Tooth is definitely not evident! It’s a gripping story; the main character’s just gone to a long abandoned cottage and apart from discovering lots of dust, finds mostly furnished rooms with touches like a vase of dried brittle flowers in place, paintings and photographs and also a 1960s car in the garage. Intriguing!

The yarn part of my post today is starting to knit a foot for the (hopefully not too deformed looking) cat. But you probably guessed that I cast on the 7 stitches just for this post. He’s coming along slowly.

I realise my Yarn Along posts are far more about what I’m reading than yarn, but think that’s ok – I love to see what others’ are reading and enjoying, or not. If you do too check out Kate’s library posts for a start.

I have been feeling a bit funny about the whole blogging thing lately, it sometimes feels as if it’s a bit show-and-tell for adults with a bit of pointless thrown in but I ignore the feeling, which passes, and carry on. But do you ever wonder about this aspect of blogging too? (Those using it to advertise and link to their business need not reply. I also know about inspiration and other positive aspects. )

I’m joining in again with Ginny. What are you crocheting / knitting and reading at the moment?

20130807-141016.jpg

Finally, I thought I’d add this photo as our whole buddleia is full of butterflies at the moment. It’s a lovely sight.

Yarn Along

20130717-140742.jpg

Despite lovely hot temps  – 28oc here at the moment woohoo! – I’m crocheting a thick ribbed scarf for winter. It’s unseasonable but I know I’ll really feel the benefit when the weather changes. Please god it’s not next week. I’m not ready. Hanging out the washing and having it dry in an hour, or less, is fab and I love the way it smells. Plus I’m enjoying feeling warm to the bone, eating salads, homemade burgers, cool leafy evening strolls, G&Ts and Pimms. Oh dear, the spell check wants to amend that to pimps. I am not enjoying pimps, thank you very much.

I’m reading Everything and Nothing by Amarinta Hall (what a name) that I got from the library last Wednesday and have started a new audio book: The Cuckoo’s Calling by a new and aspiring author Robert Galbraith (ha ha! But why not, good for J.K.)

The Mollie Makes are going to be my dipping in and out reading for the next few days. I usually pounce on these as soon as they thud through the letterbox, but lately I’ve been a bit caught up browsing my haul of canal non-fiction.

I’m joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along again. What are you reading and crocheting/knitting this week?

Yarn Along

20130710-133200.jpg
It’s summer this week in England and the weather’s beautiful. Last night we walked around the village inhaling the scent of roses climbing cottage walls, elderflower and many BBQs!

I’ve started to crochet a very unseasonal item – a swirly scarf from Nicki Trench’s Cute and Easy Crochet book. The yarn is King Cole ‘Wicked’ which I bought last week. It was a reduced bargain price so I bought two balls, as you do. I like not knowing what colour’s going to appear next as I crochet (living life on the wild side.) It’s a bit of a different choice for me but I like the tweedy but bright mix.

The books are new today, from the library, and look like pretty good Summertime reads. ‘Everything and Nothing’ is a thriller and described variously as chilling, suspenseful and disturbing on the blurb. It seems a super-nanny has come to look after a family’s two children, but all is not as it seems. The other novel drew me because of the cover recommendation from Kate Atkinson, she’s one of my favourite authors. It’s the tale of two girlhood friends who are inseparable, until one goes missing. I must be in a mystery frame of mind this week, maybe influenced by my audio book. I’m three-quarters of the way through  Sweet Tooth  by Ian McEwan, it’s a great book to crochet or sew along to (I’ve been x stitching lately.) As a wanna-be be spy it’s a fantastic book and the 1972 London setting to the story is interesting.

Yarn Along

I’m joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along. I’m always making something and read at least a book a week (I also have two audio books on the go at the moment: Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris and Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan) and love to see what others are up to, so this is a perfect –along.

Spotting the Granny Chic book, written by bloggers Tif and Rachelle, at the library made me very happy. Even more so when I discovered they include a string bag pattern, that’s very good news for my current obsession.

20130703-112058.jpg

Kate Morton’s The Secret Keeper begins on a Summer’s day in rural England, in the 1960s, where a picnicking family are celebrating a birthday. One of the daughters has slunk away to the tree-house to daydream. The seemingly idyllic story is shattered by a horrific incident, the reasons for which are explored in later life by the witness. The book shifts from the 1960s, back to the 1930s and to the present time, so far it’s very good; one of those stories I find hard to put down.

 

Even the cows think it’s hot

After my trip to the Grand Union canal in London yesterday, and recent waterside walks, I felt very inspired to visit the library to pick up some canal history books. Ramblin Rose by Sheila Stewart is going to be a treat. If you can get hold of a copy of Lifting the Latch then I recommend it as a fascinating read. If you’re interested I’ll pass on interesting snippets about canal life and history as I go.

I’ve always been drawn to photography of people, particularly from past times, and I think I’ve got some great bounty in these four books.

Although my family owned a boat and kept it moored in a marina ready to take on the canal while I was growing up, I’d never been on a traditional painted wooden narrow boat. Of course I was excited to see the gorgeous baby again, chat to her Mum and catch up with my other friend, but I admit to feeling a huge fizzle of boat related excitement all day! I came away as if after an interview with questions I knew I wanted answered and details I felt sketchy about, but hadn’t got round to asking. Maybe I’ll remember next time. I blame the rinky dink baby who stole the show with cuddles.

20130619-170130.jpg

Today it’s been summer! We’ve had mid-twenties here and I notice everyone’s dug out sunglasses, sandals and lighter clothes. We’ve got to make the most of the sun when it makes an appearance, in what has so far been a pretty dreary season. Tonight there’ll be a run on charcoal steaks, salad and beer at the supermarkets! I once thought it would be a nice surprise to have a BBQ after work; but when I got home found identical supplies as somebody else had had the same cunning idea. That was a funny moment.

When I went past the meadow after getting my mini canal book haul (plus some fiction) I had to stop and take photos of the cows having a paddle in the pond. The sight of all of them congregated like this made me giggle.

040

They were all closest to me to begin with but the longer I stood nearby I noticed they gradually moved over to the next bit of water. One stared me right in the eye and let out a bellow, I told it to calm down and it carried on staring, seemed to wink at me and then ambled off to join the others.050

The grey sky must have been a heat haze because by the time I’d stood for a few minutes photographing and chiding noisy cows I was very warm indeed.

048I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing these English pastoral scenes. It’s a lovely country, and you know what they say: There’s no place like home.

Tonight I will begin my next new make, it’s something I’ve been thinking of trying for, oh, ages and ages. After the success of Monday’s posh cotton bib I’m feeling very inspired to try new patterns and makes.
Thank you for all your lovely *likes* and comments on the bib. It suits the baby very well. She looked SO cute wearing it. Actually I’ve told the baby’s mum that I plan to fill her boat with crochet. She said “That would be lovely, we love your craft.” Will she be saying that this time next year I wonder?!

Tunisian Crochet

It’s a beautifully sunny and warm Spring morning. I’ve been sorting out a stack of mostly new crafty inspiration.
IMG_2225

So many books, so much to try!IMG_2226The Knitting Answer book is brand new, the other two are library books. I want to learn to knit different types of cables after my first try the other week. But then I also want to learn how to do lace knitting. Apart from a couple of wool scarves I designed a few years ago, one purple for me and a green for my sis-in-law, I haven’t done any lace patterns. In the Knitted Homestyle book there are three lacy sachets designs for lavender bags, I thought they might be a good start.purple scarf

I also want to work my way through the knitted effects section, maybe making a selection of blocks to make into a throw. A collection of knitted leaves appeal too, for some reason. I’ve no idea what I’d do with them.

IMG_2228

The new Mollie Makes arrived yesterday. Cute bunnies but I’d prefer to find a pattern rather than cutting up old jumpers. There must be knitted bunny patterns by the million online.

I always save MM till I have the perfect time to read it, preferably cover to cover without stopping or speaking. Someone else loves the oasis of silence craft magazines create.

The Cath Kidson Stitch book was for my birthday and the Sublime transfer books were Christmas presents. I must find things to embroider on, more linen t-towels perhaps. Maybe I should be going to the Sewing for Pleasure show the weekend after next? But it’s the Spring Knitting & Stitch show on Saturday and then I’m going to the Wool House with Natasja next week. AND I’ve just heard of a new yarn shop which must be checked out.

It’s sooo funny to remember that when I learnt how to crochet a few years ago, because of a childhood ambition, I accidentally discovered the world of crochet blogs when googling crochet techniques. I found Attic 24 along with a host of other craft blogs but still felt pretty solitary during my crafty adventures. Then over the last year or so there’s been an explosion of magazines, new craft shops both on the high street and online, craft shows, knit, crochet & natter groups (did you see what I did there?!) I’m hearing many ‘I think I’m going to become more crafty’ resolutions from friends too. Hurray! I hope this trend for all-things-craft lasts a long, long time and doesn’t fade away again.

IMG_2230I didn’t get on very far with my plan to embroider this cushion,as you see, before going to a workshop at the Make Lounge in Islington, London with my cat mad friend last September. Crochet and other yarny projects have taken over. I must use the Sublime books for inspiration and sew.

Ok, enough of the chatter and stop linking to everything PLeeaAsE….

Last night I dug out the 5mm Tunisian crochet hook I bought last month along with Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Tunisian Crochet and some left-over wool from the jewel baby blanket I’m currently finishing (Stylecraft Special DK.) I’ve been busy with other things but -LAST ONE I PROMISE- Matt’s last blog post prompted me to get on and try crochet Tunisian styley.

My cousin and I often send photos of what we’re up to, here was mine last night at the beginning of my first Tunisian Crochet lesson. (In case you’re wondering hers were of various cats peering into the lap top webcam and pics of her really long Tunisian Crochet hooks. Apparently she had lessons at school and crocheted a stripy neck-tie! I didn’t know.)20130314-115012.jpg

So, here are the four little stitch swatches I made last night. IMG_2238Tunisian Simple Stitch

Easy! Easy and fun. I like making all the stitches so it looks like a knitting needle full, then reversing down to one stitch again. Ingenious. If you can crochet you can do it Tunisian style.  Kim Guzman puts instructions for lefties into each pattern. Kudos to Kim Guzman I say! The book is a goodie. I contacted her to say so and straightaway had a nice reply.

It felt more natural to hold the hook on top, then when I came to this paragraph: ‘When working in Tunisian Crochet, you will always use an overhand hold. Imagine yourself holding a bicycle handlebar” I felt a real flush of pleasure; it’s fab when you just guess a technique and it’s right. Sorry. Getting all giddy again, more photos less chat ahead.

IMG_2243Tunisian Knit Stitch

Easy and it makes such a thick fabric. It would be excellent scarf material apart from the curliness. There is a scarf pattern in the book where you fold it in half lengthwise and sew the seam end of rows, that might be the solution.IMG_2235Tunisian Purl Stitch

I did go to YouTube for extra tips with this one, searching for ‘Tunisian Crochet left handed purl stitch’. There’s a video on there by a woman with a really nice American accent but the filthiest fingernails! Yuck! She was too fast for me to gather how to do her technique of putting the yarn in front of the hook, but I developed my own thing. Not my favourite stitch because of the yarn in front thing.

IMG_2231Tunisian Reverse Stitch

This is basically the Tunisian Simple Stitch but going into the vertical bar from behind. It’s fiddly but I was tired; it was nearly 11pm and I need to try again. It’s probably very easy.

The next lessons are to increase, decrease and change colours. It’s like starting with crochet all over again. Learning those  skills are going to have to wait because I’ve got very achey shoulders this morning. Ooops, but when I’m enthusiastic I tend to go at a million miles an hour.

Overall holding the hook overhand doesn’t feel as comfortable and speedy-easy as crochet but like everything you get faster the more you practice. I’m not sure TC will replace crochet for me, though I like the smooth knit-like look, but it’s nice to have a new skill.

Tempted to try Tunisian Crochet too?

New crochet books

My books have arrived! I won them in a blog giveaway by Erin Bassett

I never usually win when I enter prize draws, raffles or lotteries but I’ve received two prizes in a week! Woo hoo!

It was hard trying to pick my favourite patterns to show you but I narrowed it down to the sunflower from the crochet flowers book, and the log cabin block (love this!) and paisley motif from the Vogue crochet stitchionary.

What is immediately impressive about both books is that they have written and diagram patterns; so although the stitches are in USA crochet terms they are easy to use whatever you are used to. Plus it should get me used to the symbols as well. I still have my Japanese and Chinese crochet books to play with at some point.

I’ll be back on Tuesday with the results of the CAL theme vote (still getting votes every day!) and a link you can put on your blog if I sort out the technology.

Happy (bank holiday) weekend everyone!

20120824-132233.jpg

20120824-132240.jpg

20120824-132246.jpg

20120824-132252.jpg

20120824-132258.jpg

Sleeping beauty and the kiss of crochet

I’ve started doing some cross stitching for the first time in a very, very  long time and am enjoying it. It’s funny though because I was always a bit down on cross stitching because I thought it relatively skill-less when I was younger. I used to do tapestry and embroidery more in those days. I’m working up to more sewing but have lost confidence through lack of practice and have forgotten lots of techniques. I also need to take a refresher on using a sewing machine since I have forgotten the teeny leetle bit I used to know.

 
 
 
 
I had to drive cross-country to work for about eight years and all the gear changes really aggravated my elbow, and so I actually gave up everything crafty. I just packed my hoops, frames, wools, threads, needles and books away. Then I got into study and stuff which left no time. I feel like sleeping beauty in lots of ways where craft is concerned as I didn’t do any for most of a decade. It seems extreme now, but I really was in pain at the time and used to find that even stirring cooking and cutting out with scissors aggravated it.
 
It’s much better nowadays and learning to crochet, then discovering the world of craft blogs, has awakened a gradual desire to try my hand at different skills again. It’s really exciting!

 
 
 I’d forgotten I had so many threads, fabrics and books tucked away. These books are now on the shelf here in the Little Room with my crochet and knitting ones, it’s becoming a bit of a library. S saw these and exclaimed ‘Una Stubbs?!!’ Well…yes….Una Stubbs. Now playing Mrs Hudson in Sherlock
And there she is going strong playing his landlady, bless her. I originally knew her from Aunt Sally in Worzel Gummidge.  I wonder if she’s still sewing in between filming?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I’m not sure whether there’s a law of cross stitching (or, x stitching as it’s now known as in the 21st C version of kool crafts) as in all the stitches must universally go in a particular direction, but figure as I’m a leftie the top stitch goes L-R diagonally and as long as all stitches are in the same direction it’s ok. You see; I really have lost my mojo….!
 
 
 
 …Obviously quite  a close-up! The holes aren’t this big I promise…
Back to Crochet
 
On another tack; I was wondering about starting a CAL – a crochet along – here as I’ve owned this superb book for a while now but haven’t used it apart from for referencing stitches and techniques. Would you be interested in making 2-3 squares (or fewer? Is that too many?) with me a week?
 
Obviously you will need to get hold of a copy of the book since I can’t post patterns here as I would be infringing copyright. It seems to be a book that many crochet fans already own, and is very easy to get hold of too. See the book link to the right of this page>>>>
 
I thought I could post links to your blog and photos of the completed squares as we go on a weekly basis, maybe at the beginning of the following week?
 
I’ve run the idea by (clever) Patch who has suggested having a colour theme such as: Sea and Sand, Moonlight and Stars or Autumn Leaves. I love it! I’m drawn to Autumn Leaves since I wanted to make a blanket for my living room which ties in with my favourite rug there. It’s reddy, brownie, yellowy-goldy coours. BUT I can set up a poll for votes and alternative suggestions. I’m all for democracy. Once the theme is decided we would buy our own choice of colours, according to the theme, and type of yarns then compare notes.
 
Would you be interested in doing a CAL with me? I’m enthused by the idea since I haven’t got a social crochet group together yet, and this is a step in the right direction, albeit online. I’ve also never taken part in a CAL before either. pLeAsE sAy YES!
 
It’s holiday season so I reckon the best time to begin would be the first week of September, but that depends on you. It’s a busy going back to school week for many, but then you’ll probably need the meditative power of crochet and the sharing of progress in a social crochet kind of way won’t you?
 
To finish I wanted to show you this beautiful creature. I opened the curtains the other morning and there he was sitting on ‘his’ shed roof enjoying the morning sun. He’s either Ziggy or Spike, I can never remember and can’t ask my neighbour again!

iknit London

iknit London

iknit on Lower Marsh street, Waterloo, London is one of my favourite yarn shops to pop into when I’m in the area. Come out of Waterloo underground station onto Waterloo road, turn right and walk along to the cheap bookshop on the corner. They sell a huge variety of books, including a nice shelf-full of craft books. Then walk along to iknit on Lower Marsh street for a browse, knit/crochet and shop. I recommend The Camel and Artichoke pub afterwards. It’s just 2 minutes along the street. Buy a drink, order something to eat (recommend: the steak & onion baguette, chilli/cheese nachos/The Big Ben burger – if very hungry!) and go upstairs to hopefully bagsie one of the ultra comfy squashy leather sofas. Browse the Bookcrossing.com bookshelf for a free book or two. All this will keep you happy for an hour or two or…..

Pros: iknit London sell a large selection of wool/yarn in a variety of prices, brands and types. There are some sample pieces knitted up to give you an idea of the texture, thickness and general project inspiration.

Apart from wool/yarn there is an extensive library of books to browse and buy, a rack of knitting and crochet magazines, haberdashery and little gifts, including cards and toys.

iknit London offer classes and have regular knitting group meetings, although I haven’t attended any….yet. They are licensed to serve alcohol so i imagine some of the gatherings get fairly jolly!

You are welcome to take your current project into the shop and work on it while resting on the sofa for a while.

Cons: Be prepared to share the sofa with a very small dog, the kind you might see a celeb carry around in a handbag!

Red White & Blue

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee (60 years! What a woman!) and London 2012 Olympic Games are rushing towards us now. Currently the torch is travelling around the country, being passed from hand to hand. This morning I’ve heard that it’s in Wiltshire, and was being carried part of the way by a woman who has raised a lot of money for charity. It’s really good that non-celebs/sports-people are having a turn and are honoured for their service to the community or whose talents are recognised.

For the past while I’ve been taking a few of these types of pictures…

This is a road in Oxford in case you’re wondering.

And, the next one made me smile!

Creative display methods reflecting the times eh?

So the shops are getting well on board, selling anything and everything red, white and blue. With a fair few Jubilee biscuit tins etc. Good for them! I like to see it.

On another track, I walked (a 3.3m round trip – loving Endomondo sports tracker!) to a library on Monday and discovered they have a host of craft books on all sorts of the topics including: quilting, patchwork, jewellery, knitting, cake decorating….and crochet…a reallllly good selection of crochet books. So I grabbed five randomly and took them outside to sit in the sun (yes! we have sun now…hurrah!!!!!) in the quite beautiful library garden. Next time I go maybe I’ll take some photos, it’s full of clever planting, with benches placed at intervals in the quiet corners behind plants, trees and sculptures. The benches are painted a lovely blue, you can see the colour behind the books in the photos, which really works with the setting.

The Dudes book has some very nice jumpers in it with a variety of sizes. I ‘might’ have a try at something wearable later in the year. And no; I’m not ‘a dude’ but I did like the look of the solid, chunky clothes unlike lots of crocheted items for women which are often all holey and not really flattering to actually wear. Unless you’re a willowy model IMHO. The male models are pretty yummy too in this book – some of them – so that’s definitely a recommmeded ‘book to browse’ from me!

I made some notes on which patterns I liked in the books as I went, so I can go back and borrow a few at some point. There are even more to go and peruse some other time too.

Thanks to blogger Jill from Nice Piece of Work for commenting on my charity shop book at the weekend. She prompted me have a look for craft books when I was returning a novel (Lost Lady -Willa Cather, recommended read particularly if you like classic American fiction.)

I’m off to walk around the grounds of a Palace now, will post some pics soon.

Enjoy the sun, if you have some wherever you are. :-D