Timely surprises

What a week!

I’d had a very efficient start to the year, getting all those boring but necessary appointments and tasks ticked off a long list. I was feeling rather pleased with it all last week. The Mister brought the first surprise – my favourite Austrian chocolates from Stockholm airport on his way home after a week working there again. It was great to see him, after all the socializing over Christmas the house had suddenly become far too quiet. Then…he started feeling unwell and coughing. I definitely wasn’t getting it too, so went to bed early, took vitamin C and started off the next day with a scratchy throat…

2015/01/img_4819.jpgA few days later my cousin sent me a quick message to say she had posted one of my Christmas presents. I wasn’t entirely sure why because we often have a late Christmas catch up a few weeks or months after. One year it was in June, to the amusement of restaurant staff who watched as we all exclaimed over pretty wrapping and enthused about a pile of gifts!

I’ve found this about last year’s late Christmas. I never really look back at my blog posts but I might start; to see what I was doing this time last year(s).
2015/01/img_4817-0.jpgAh! What a great present. I can totally see why she sent it this week. I’ve looked at those make an origami-whatever or solve a daily crossword type of calendars, but have never seen a crochet version. It’s an American product which my cousin saw in a garden centre here. I bet you can buy one online.

Because I have GOT to keep on with the William Morris motif blanket I haven’t looked all through the January patterns as it’s too tempting to start some, but there are a some sweet makes.
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I am itching to make those mitts. I’ve never done granite stitch but saw a Kat Goldin pattern in a recent crochet mag which uses it. That’s going to be my next new stitch soon.

The third surprise was from my friend who has been sent free tickets to go to Excel to the Stitching, Sewing and Hobbycrafts show in March, and wondered if I wanted to go with her. Yes please, thank you actually!
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I haven’t really been able to do anything other than cough, ache, wheeze, shiver and groan crochet and watch Netflixs: Life on Mars, Black Books and the excellent BBC version of The Lady Vanishes, or listen to my current audio book: Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O’Farrell. I’ve darned all the ends on the little doll blanket and now it’s ready to edge. I think it needs something very simple like rows of DC to finish it off, anything else will be too over the top.
2015/01/img_4837.jpgYesterday we both turned a corner, despite coughing in tandem at 5am. In the end we gave up trying to sleep and got up and made mugs of tea at six to take back to bed. Later I felt well enough to cook a little batch of cheese scones, then I collapsed back onto the sofa for a bit of Glee S4. But still, I felt better than I had the rest of the week.

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Last night the football was on and so I immersed myself in the new issue of Country Living which came yesterday. It’s a Springtime goodie and full of lovely designs in greens and blues. I became completely engrossed in this article about British hedgerows. When I’m enthused about something I can’t help sharing what I’m reading and giving impromptu pop quizzes. “So, how many thousand miles of hedgerows do you think we have?” “How many of our lowland mammals’ habitats are in hedgerows?” “How can you estimate the age of a hedgerow?” Luckily I get away with this and had some intelligent answers and a bit of chat, alongside the football commentary. The article brought back long-ago memories of a hedge layer giving my primary school class a talk and demonstration of his craft. It’s so interesting.

How’s your week been?

 

New Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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