Happy New Year!


My very favourite Christmas window from Fortnum & Mason, Piccadily, London.

I hope you’ve had a lovely, restful Christmas and are looking forward to this brand new year. I’ve had a super week and have really enjoyed catching up with family. I had a streaming cold on 25th, but fortunately it only hung around a few days afterwards and didn’t really spoil the celebrations. 

Ornamental cabbages and rosemary in Brown Hart Gardens, Duke Street, London.

I picked up what looks like a very good novel from the Bookstop. It was perfect timing as I wanted something to read while we had a pit-stop in the nearby pub. I’ll leave a book there next time I’m passing.

 I gave up chocolate mid-November until Christmas Day. I’m odd I know, but I liked the test of will-power and the sweet (!) anticipation of knowing in 5 weeks I would enjoy it again. Now I think I can say I’ve definitely eaten enough to make up for it! Today it’s a bank holiday here, so Christmas has continued now we’re back at home; with a few chocolates, a G&T and some roasted macadamia nuts along with the last Harry Potter film (he’s walking at ‘Kings Cross station’ with Dumbledore as I type…) But all good things must end, so tomorrow it’s back to healthier eating and I’ll be joining in with dry January until February 3rd. I shall pick up my crochet hook once more to add some rows to my ripple blanket and I’ll also do a traditional gallery post, showing what I made in 2016.

Are you on to healthy living in full force, or prolonging the celebrations a bit today too? Have you deChristmassed your home, or do you wait until twelfth night? Mine is still full of cards, candles, holly and decorations. I might remove a few things bit by bit as the week goes on, but not entirely until the fifth. I hope your first week of this brand new year is good.

Christmas time

My friend and I had a super Christmas meet up at Cliveden on Saturday, it was our third annual Christmas walk there and probably the most wintery. Can you see how we walked into the fog in the Long Garden? 

Each year there’s a trail to follow and this year it was pantomime theme. Last year it was based around The Twelve Days of Christmas, but these have not beaten the first year when we had to find bunches of carrots, left for Rudolph, hanging from trees and bushes. I can’t even say why as that year it was pretty basic, but it made us laugh a lot (apart from when I grew petulant that an enthusiastic 3 year old, running ahead of us, kept finding the carrots before we could!) 

We walked a good 5 miles in all, so it seems my physio’s brutal vigorous sports massages on my sore knee and my conscientious daily stretches are having a positive effect, after weeks of pain and boring inactivity. Walking through fog is weird; by the end we were decidedly damp haired and rosy cheeked for lunch in the Orangery. 

 

On Sunday we went with Mum to find Christmas trees, she found one she wanted immediately and hared off to buy it, before anyone else took a liking to it. We didn’t have the same love at first sight with any, so will try again another day. I’ve stuck to family tradition of only decorating a week at most, before Christmas Eve. To be fair this was the same for pretty much everyone here when I was growing up, until people started copying the American thing of decorating early, as many seem to after Thanksgiving. Are you American? Is that a relatively new tradition?  If Christmas lasted the whole of December I’d be truly sick of it by 25th, and the size of the shepherds hut above. This way we enjoy the anticipation and it’s not overkill. I have to say that as I write this I am so looking forward to making mulled wine, brandy butter and mince pies! Did someone mention Twiglets? Cadbury Roses?!

How are your plans coming along? Are you a month long celebrator, or less?

Spice of Life Blanket II



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are very Wintery low light levels at the moment, which means the photos are a little muted; so you need to imagine this blanket as even brighter!

It is finished! We’ve celebrated late-Christmas with my cousin and family this weekend and she loves the blanket. I’m so pleased.

So yes, the colours; you definitely won’t have seen this combination together here before, though I have used them all in other makes.

  
My cousin loves Emma Bridgewater china and these are the designs she wanted me to use as a basis for colour selection, but with the specific proviso that there be ‘Space Hopper’ orange because she loves it. Plus cream, lavender and a bright yellow. Eek! This was really out of my colour comfort zone, but actually as the blanket came together they seemed to work together more, the Mister says it’s quite Aztec-y. I’ll take his word for it.

Pattern links and details about how to make a Spice of Life blanket are here on the designer Sandra Paul’s Cherry Heart blog.

Hooks: I used 4mm, 4.5mm and 3mm again, see my first blanket post for information.

Starting chain: 195, stitch count 193

Yarn: Stylecraft Special DK

  1. Meadow 2. Emperor 3. Lavender 4. Saffron 5. Spice 6. Cream 7. Plum (used for the border too)

Weighs: 675g

Size: 3′ 6″ or 42″. This one’s smaller than my first blanket, it’s more of a lap blanket. 

I’m glad it’s done, the multi-stitch blankets are interesting to crochet and the variety of stitches make them really pretty, but oh all the ends!

And now I’m on to a little bit of knitting…more about that tomorrow.

 

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.

Perfect

   
    
   Today we pulled on some warm clothes and went out for some fresh air, after a few days of socialising, eating and drinking. A swift five mile walk was just the thing.  On Boxing Day it’s usually great fun seeing children whizz by on their shiny new bikes and scooters, with everyone nodding and smiling their hellos, but it was a rainy day and so the hibernation continued.  I’m so glad we decided to postpone a wander around the shops this morning. Walking alongside peacefully grazing sheep, while admiring the stark beauty of the trees against the rapidly darkening sky felt absolutely perfect. 

Yarn Along 


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

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

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

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

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

Taking Stock in December

Making: Crocheting the last third of the V Stitch scarf, then back to the blanket 

Cooking: Lamb daube, purple sprouting and baked potatoes  

Drinking: Red wine 

Reading: I just finished The Improbability of Love (it’s good. Funny to visit Waddeston Manor the same week. Spot the connection for 10 points?) so it’s time for a soppy Christmas book now

 
Wanting: a Happy Christmas for all my family and friends and you, of course 

Looking: Rosy 

Playing: Words with Friends. I’m about 5 years behind everyone, I know 

Deciding: Not to just plan to wrap presents earlier than Christmas Eve, but to actually DO it 

Wishing: for another glass of red wine

  Enjoying: The anticipation of getting our tree 

Waiting: For presents!

   

  
Liking: The smell of roasted chestnuts, a traditional snack still sold on London streets 

Wondering: If we’ll have any snow before year end. Considering it was a balmy 15C today it’s doubtful

Loving: Christmas programmes; looking forward to Downton, Sherlock and the Agatha Christie costume drama on Boxing Day

Pondering: Whether I’d like to go to Space

Considering: Buying some stollen, but maybe I should make it instead

   
 Buying: Glacé cherries, moisturiser and nuts 

Watching: The Breakfast Club, it’s good still

Hoping: Love Film have St Elmo’s Fire 

Marvelling: At all the Christmas lights  
 Cringing: at nothing in particular 

Needing: Some fresh air

Questioning: Why ‘Chantenay carrots have recently been revived in the UK, having not been available in this country since the 1960s.’ (Wikipedia.) Why have they not been available since then? So few varieties of fruit and vegetables are available, when there are hundreds of very old varieties

 Smelling: Fragrant! (Clinique Elixir, darling) 

Wearing: My favourite chunky red cardie 

Following: The mission to The International Space Station and our astronaut Tim Peake 

Noticing: How weirdly mild the weather is at the moment; it’s the warmest December in over 50 years 

Knowing: I’m nearly all organised for Christmas 

Thinking: About what to do when, in the coming week

Admiring: People’s knitwear 

  
 Sorting: Books and DVDs again, 2 more trips to the charity shop last week

Getting: Our tree tomorrow. Much better around 20th than having it from 1st December, too much, too soon!

Bookmarking: All sorts, but always forgetting to go back to them

Coveting: …Father Christmas knows!

Disliking: Music bleeding loudly from others’ headphones, do they not realise they’re harming their ears? And being a royal pain

Opening: A pack of salmon fillets wondering why it’s always so difficult  

 Giggling: At the Croydon Lucozade story (knowing I shouldn’t)

Feeling: Healthy, positive and energetic 

Snacking: On chantenay carrots 

Helping: A girl find her lost keys at the bus station 

Hearing: My audio book: Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
The Taking Stock list is from Pip’s Meet me at Mike’s blog, you can use it too.

Merry Christmas

We’ve had a lovely stay in festive Brussels, Belgium. Twinkling lights all over the city, decorated trees and Santa signs, mussels, frites, Belgium beer, a waffle with Nutella, strawberry and banana, lots of tastes of fine chocolate and treats from the Christmas Market, shopping, wandering, goosebumps at the evening time light and music show at the Grand Place.

In a delightfully hushed carriage there on Eurostar, which was only a third full, served an unexpected meal and wine I wondered if perhaps most people were travelling to Paris? Later I was reminded we were in a Premium carriage. It was wonderful. All the hassle and stress from blaring Christmas songs in busy shops just melted away. Two hours from St Pancras, through the tunnel under the English Channel (to my now not-so-little niece on her birthday: “We’re going on a train under the sea later.” “That’s weird. Really weird!”) across France, past little houses with white tiled roofs, arriving at a station in Brussels with comfort and ease, and slightly red cheeks.
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The tree in Grand Place was given by Riga, Latvia as a gift. Riga is the current capital of culture. Apparently they started the tradition of decorating Christmas trees 500 years ago.
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We got home late last night and someone has already cracked open the twiglets. The Snowman has been watched as it’s a Christmas Eve tradition in this house. I’ve picked up a crochet hook for the first time in a week, while the advent candle burns down to a stub. It’s feeling a lot like Christmas.

I hope you are in a similarly relaxed state wherever you are. A very Merry Christmas to you all, have a lovely time. XX

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Eurostar Yule log!

This and That

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This new Siri is not nearly is sexy sounding as the old guy (yes, we have male voiced Siri) plus his sense of humour sucks! (‘Sucks’ – too much Glee while crocheting. I need to watch something that’s going to increase my vocabulary, not the opposite?!) If you dictate a stupid question, you get a stupid answer – but this was important stuff.

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This genuinely made me cringe and yelp a bit when I saw it the other day. Urgh, the thought of dog lick is foul. Cats are fine though…

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Ah yes, I totally agree.

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Everywhere I go I seem to end up stumbling into ‘Christmas rooms’ and this was one of the biggest and the best. It was so lovely I was singing along to Let It Snow and realised there were at least half of a dozen others joining in too.
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There’s a thingy on the left which you can just see, where you can put you head up into after crawling under half the table top scene. It’s for children really I suppose and I wasn’t brave enough to have a go, but how cute to see the trains going past your nose and Santa flying past. Can you spot him?
Funnily as I’ve been looking at this as a large sized pic on my iPad, I’ve noticed a few things are leaning or have fallen down. The ice skater makes sense, maybe the couple of cool kids leaning against the rink is a deliberate move, but I’m not sure about the other thing.
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Winter’s definitely on the way when you see sprout sticks appearing in the farm shops. Roast chicken with roast potatoes, parsnips, sprouts and carrots, homemade stuffing with steaming hot gravy over will be happening on Sunday.

I’m going to crochet the border and darn the ends of my ripple over the weekend. The end is in sight!

There are thousands of blogs out there but I’ve realised you can only really connect with a certain number. When one becomes inactive, especially if you’ve followed them for years, you naturally begin wondering if the person is okay. When I started mine I connected with quite a number of people who were also new to blogging. We’ve been in touch for nearly three years now, but lately I’ve realised quite a few of these are only posting sporadically, or have stopped completely. I’m wondering if there is maybe a natural end to a blog? People get busy and interested in doing different things. I know I’m not posting much at the moment; but how many photos of the same ripple blanket do people want to see anyway? Have you also noticed your favourites dropping off?

More importantly: what are you going to be eating at the weekend? I do love details like this.

Happy weekend everyone.

Lately

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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…

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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.

It’s a beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!

I always feel excited about Christmas at some point in November but then sadly the excessive adverts, relentless songs and push turn me off until about this point every December. As a family we never put the tree up early, I don’t think most people did really. Decorating from the 1st of December seems a relatively new practice. The only thing we’ve always done was open an Advent calendar, or burn a little of an Advent candle each day. I do start buying presents and planning the who, what, where and how in November but then the rest waits till about the 18th/20th onwards. So….this weekend it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!
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Oxford Christmas market – traditional Bratwurst, Onion Bhajis and Mulled Wine?! There is a pretty good selection of stalls though, some very decent offerings. I have to admit that the Onion Bhajis were tasty!

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The Town Crier doing his thing admirably.

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My little cottage (fuzzy photos as it was raining!)

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Do you like my cosy fire? Pretty tree? Comfy chair?

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Perfect place to crochet isn’t it?

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Oh alright, busted! But isn’t it sweet?

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I’d love to buy a defunct red telephone box one day. I’d set it up as a free book exchange.

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Guess why we were at this plant nursery today?

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Yes…We went to buy Christmas trees but all got distracted by FREE hot chocolate! I wish I’d taken my marshmallows. HC & MM is my tiptop Winter treat.

It’s the Strictly final tonight. I’ve submitted my five online votes for the first round of the final, and now have to wait half an hour to see who goes through and wins. It’s been brilliant viewing this year – just perfect sparkly Winter TV.

How are you doing?

Creative Christmas Windows

When I was on Oxford Street, London, last week I couldn’t stop taking photos of the brand new Christmas windows. The wool window in John Lewis (no they’re not sponsoring me more’s the pity, I just love the shop!) has gone but the creativity of the new displays is amazing. Have a good look at what’s used to make the creatures…

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The last is as I walked along to Selfridges, also a favourite. It was nearly dark when I left and very busy so my iPhone photos of their windows are not very clear.
For me it’s too early to start buying presents in bulk, although I will get something when I see it, but I do love the sparkles, the lights and the air of anticipation.

Falalalala lala la la, dishcloths & **Blogger of the Month Award**

You can test the number of las if you like, it’s just taken me far too many seconds to work out!

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Confession: when I see that people are crafting for Christmas straight after Easter my eyes tend to glaze over and to be honest I usually stop reading a blog post right there. It’s just too soon after the last and far, far too organised. BUT stay with me for another minute though because it’s much, much later in the year and these are for a VERY good cause.

I have a cat loving friend that I’ve mentioned before (she said I made her sound deranged in that post! But take a look at her blog, you never know what you’re going to get; jelly, knitting, garlic, chilli, cats or….) She’s asked me to crochet some sparkly silver mini stockings (the sparkles aren’t showing up here, but it’s pretty yarn) like the one I gave her last Christmas. These will be sold on a Deaf Access craft stall in aid of the charity during the Autumn. It sounds really good; apparently Bromley council let them have a free stall, depending on how many paying stalls there are that day depends on whether they get a good spot or not, but crafty things are usually bright and eye-catching so I bet they do well.

It occurs to me as I write that you might also like to make something Christmassy to support the work of Deaf Access. It could also be sold on their craft stall along with my stockings. If you’re interested please let me know. Gill would be thrilled to pass on your items to the group, and I’d probably be forgiven for the deranged-sounding-friend-post that I’ve drawn attention to again!

Apart from stockings I’m crocheting more dishcloths. I know there are some intricate patterns available, but even my simple stitch combinations are not as good as the plain trebled version apparently; because they don’t wring out as well or have the scrubability! (Spell check does not like this word. Red wiggly flashing lines!)017

I haven’t taken a new photo this time because they’re just rows of trebles. This time I double crocheted a border around for extra durability, but have been told it’s not necessary as they last months and months anyway. They’re boiled every day and they do seem to stand testament to my darning skills. No unravelling here, oh no! ;-)

Black sheep wools badge small This award came as a wonderful surprise! I had a message on Monday to say I’d won the new Black Sheep Wools Blogger of the Month award. It was mentioned on their Facebook and Twitter feeds yesterday, you can read their Blogger of the Month post here which features my answers to a list of questions I was sent yesterday.

How exciting, I can’t wait to spend my £25 gift card. The online shop looks fab. I loved seeing some of their stock at The Spring Knitting and Stitching show so know I’ll get some good crafty supplies. I’ll let you know what I buy. Lucky lucky me. If you nominated this blog ThaNkYoU so much!

Little Christmas Stockings

Hello again,

I’ve been crocheting these sweet sparkly little Christmas stockings for a while, filling them with mini candy canes to give as little gifts and maybe I’ll hang some on the Christmas tree next weekend too. When they catch the light they’re all glinty and pretty.

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You can find the pattern on Le monde de Sucrette’s blog.

It’s a really easy pattern and I can whip up a stocking from start to finish in less than an hour.

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Having a little play with a pattern in Mollie Makes magazine, issue seventeen. It’s from Cute and Easy Crocheted Baby Clothes by Nicki Trench, though I sense possibilities for the huge festival beginning with C (or X for some!)

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From The Little Room of Rachell

Hellooo!

I hope you’ve had a good Christmas!

Today is the last day of the year and I wanted to start something new, so hello to you! Happy New Year’s Eve. It’s going to be a good year, I can feel it in my toes.

My blog will feature:

Places, food, crochet, knitting, nature and especially crochet…..it may also have a bit of Cath Kidson as I LOVE her pretty things.

I’m newish to crochet and am super keen on it. So, expect a few photos and words about my efforts this coming year, as well as some pics of the crochet I’ve done this year  in 2011.

The pattern is from Let’s Get Crafting Magazine and is one designed by the fab Lynne Rowe.

Next time I’ll tell you about when I started to crochet.

Until then,

Rachell