I woke up really early yesterday morning, read a bit more of Hidden Depths, the third book in the Vera series by Anne Cleeves and then fell back asleep for a few hours. When I woke I scrolled a bit on Insta and found I had a burning need to crochet a hexagon!
Do you ever feel like that? You just have to grab some scraps of yarn and a hook and go for it?
I’d seen Anita’s Vintage Hexagons a while back and that was the pattern I settled on. It’s free and here on her brand new website. She’s so clever with colour and original blanket designs. We’ve followed each other for years on Insta, but now she’s really taking designing up a notch. Check out her accounts.
I’ve been on a mission for a long time to finish all the things already started, or to unravel them, but I made an allowance yesterday. A few hexies, using oddments from blanket making, wouldn’t exactly be breaking the plan. I fancied something colourful. I really like the variegated Hayfield Spirit wool acrylic mix I’m using for my Coast blanket, but it’s quite muted.
Crocheting motifs bit by bit would be an ideal project for short bursts of crochet. I’d get that feeling of completing something, without crippling pain at the end of a mammoth row of a blanket. Anyway, I’m always drawn to hexagons, they’re probably my most favourite shapes.
Do you recognise my colour combo? I’ve used it a little more more than I realised. Thank goodness for my account on Pinterest. I had a quick look through my pins to spot everything made with this colour combo. My Pinterest doesn’t feature everything, but it’s a good selection. It’s amazing how many people end up here clicking through from Pinterest.
Anyway, back to yesterday…
I think I might stop here and change yarns. I’ve become used to more of a wool content, even 20%, and the plasticy look of this acrylic is not doing it for me. Or maybe I should try a different brand?
This week I may donate what I’ve made so far, and the little middles I also made, with the rest of the oddments. I could pop in a note telling the buyer where to find the free pattern online too.
What’s your go-to yarn for blanket making? I’m not about to buy a vast quantity of pure wool. I crochet and knit with wool or blends for smaller makes, as I prefer to wear it rather than 100% acrylic. It would be way too expensive and too valuable for throwing about as an everyday blanket. Another brand of acrylic, or a wool blend would be good to try. Any recommendations would be welcome. Then I can go to wool shop to have a squish…
…when I’ve completed my ‘Finish everything and do not buy any more yarn’ mission, of course!
I really didn’t know where to begin with this post. July has been a mixed month. A lovely holiday (go to my Insta to see the seal) and then an evening a week or so later, I went to sing and suddenly found myself croaky voiced. I also sang a completely different melody to the rest a few times and wondered why. The next day my throat felt like there was a golf ball stuck in it sore and I felt on the odd side, although not exactly unwell. I was about to leave to go to the city, but thought it might be wise to do a test. It’s pretty obvious to you what I’m going to say, isn’t it? I had my first ever positive. It finally got me.
I tested a few times during the first week and within 2 1/2 minutes that blinking red line appeared. So many people have said it’s akin to having a mild summer cold. Not for me; I felt really unwell for the first four days. Apparently new very contagious variants have developed and here 1/17 have Covid, according to the BBC news app. After the worst part I felt really quiet, not wanting to talk or move much. I read a lot, did some crochet and adult dot-to-dot pages from a book that I found in a charity shop for 50p last month. When I say adult I mean tricky, tiny numbers to 400, sea themed pictures. Not ‘adult’. That would be an interesting book…
So, rather than wade through many photos from mid-June onwards I’ve selected some from the last week*.
I finally got my first negative result at the weekend, after ten days. I’m still coughing well a fortnight later, have a blocked up head and ears, can smell and taste little. It will all pass. I’m dealing with the post-viral fatigue by doing some activity, following by quite a lengthy sit-down-and-read. I’m very lucky to have chance to quietly recuperate.
Bread making continues unwell or not, this is a slightly flat loaf because I got very involved in my book (or maybe it was tv?) and it over-proved one evening! It tasted good, I’m told, which is the most important thing. I use locally grown and produced organic flours: dark rye for the starter, then a mix of white and stoneground wholemeal, often more wholemeal than white, sometimes half and half. I keep reading about the benefits to the gut of fermented foods and have a glow of satisfaction as sourdough is always included on the lists.
I found a new mustard recipe online, it’s Beer Mustard. Tomorrow it will be a week since I made this batch and we will try it.
A few months ago I made my own mustard for the first time, maybe I mentioned it? It was Spiced Honey Mustard from my Good Housekeeping Preserves book which I’ve owned for years. It was made to give as a gift and tasted so good that I made a few more jars for us. One came on holiday as we couldn’t bear not to have it for 10 days!
The giftee liked it so much that he kept sending pics of his lunchtime cheese and mustard sandwiches. That made me grin.
I’m working through the book, I have been for years. There are very few that I wouldn’t want to make. (Harissa and a lemon pickle are probably next.)
Lots of wandering around the garden and admiring my pots, picking up stray fuchsia petals and watching the progress of the very late planted gladioli. Finally razor sharp leaves have appeared above ground. I’m not sure that we’re going to get any flowers, it may be too late, but it’s exciting watching their progress.
I’ve kept the plant saucer of water cleaned and topped up for the birds, patio mouse and next door’s cats. Last week we had some of our highest ever recorded temperatures in the country so sat outside until after dark, reading our Kindles, in the relative cool of the garden. And several nights running we heard a loud rustle and movement behind the shrubs at the back of the garden. We have a hedgehog! On Tuesday evening, when it was furnace like, as the heat had accumulated from the previous days, he spent a long time noisily slurping the water. We were spellbound, holding our breath watching the dark rugby ball shape at the end of the garden. Then he was off, to the ferns and under the silver birch tree. They always move more swiftly than I expect. Magical.
The gifted jalapeño plants in the conservatory are coming on fast (from the cheese and mustard sandwich fan.) No sign of my Thai chillies or sweet peppers yet, sigh. (Isn’t that potted hydrangea outside a thing of deep pink beauty?)
I’ve made a plum crumble and also stewed some with orange juice and zest, cinnamon and star anise. I’m told they tasted good. I am eating, although I can’t smell or taste anything. But I do appreciate the colours of summer food.
A little trip out to a garden centre after my first negative result. Current guidance is to isolate for five days and stay away for ten from vulnerable people. But feeling poorly (and still testing positive) I didn’t really want to go out after five days anyway, and who can tell who is vulnerable? I really didn’t want to pass on the virus to anyone at all, it’s nasty even after vaccinations, especially those who might be really adversely affected. Interestingly none of the people I saw leading up to my positive result have caught the virus. Even the 2 guys I hugged. Someone I live with hasn’t either. Good, but it’s odd.
So refreshing to be out. I drank it all in. This is a posh garden centre where the staff are super creative; you never just see a plant stand with …umm plants plonked on it. There are sculptures and carriages, old cars and even merry-go-round horses. The flowers are grouped into attractive displays of colour and form. It’s a lovely trip out, no purchase necessary for enjoyment. The next morning I woke and discovered that I had slept for 11 hours! Post-viral fatigue is real, this was after a 40 minute wander at a garden centre. Oh dear!
A visit to Waterperry Gardens Sunday late afternoon. Still using the Gardeners World 2-for-1 card, so it was £7.50 for two. What a bargain.
On a quest to use up food in the freezer I roasted my first guinea fowl on Sunday night. It was a yellow sticker bargain I picked up a while ago for a mere £5. I cooked it very simply; with half a lemon in the cavity, olive oil all over the skin and a good grinding of black pepper and sea salt, sat on a trivet of slices of onion. I ate it too, with roasted summer vegetables and puy lentils, but sadly couldn’t taste or smell a thing. I’m told it was absolutely delicious. (Sorry, definitely a lot of repetition here.) The third portion was eaten cold with salad on Monday night, while I had a homemade Spicy Black Bean soup. If I could have tasted it I would say it would have blown my head off! I used *a lot* of red chill flakes and hot smoked paprika, along with cumin and mixed herbs. As it was I could taste a very nice buzz which was the first thing in ages. I loved it.
Still trying little trips to be somewhere other than home for a while, I popped to another garden centre on Monday. (My third in as many days, if you count WPG which has a nursery and shop.) They’re good places for recuperation.
The jackdaws and starlings appear within minutes of the mealworm feeder being refilled. Do they have lookouts using tiny binoculars? This means the little garden birds are not getting any of the good stuff. They are ruddy hooligans (if you get the ref? I’m listening to that lots while I do my dot-to-dots!) So I’m on the lookout for a protected small-bird feeder that would be suitable for holding mealworms. Squirrels aren’t an issue in this garden, I’ve never seen one.
More plums! 2.5kg this time. Another gentle walk around the —— on Tuesday evening. (Avoiding whipping or hard labour.)
I’m looking up plum recipes while Someone is lobbying for jam. There are a lot of very, very small plums and it’s super fiddly removing the stones. I could leave them in and fish out as many as I can, I’ve done that before when making damson chutney. But it’s not much fun hanging over a roiling pan….
Lunchtime Spicy Black Bean Soup leftovers. Bliss, I can almost nearly taste it, perhaps things are slightly improving. Catching up on back issues of Inside Crochet and Good Housekeeping magazines as I eat.
Yesterday I had baked beans with masses of curry powder, sriracha and Colman’s mustard powder and a couple of fried eggs. I took a friend to the hairdresser and that protein packed lunch kept me going until dinner at about 8pm. Pasta, lemony salmon fillets and half a pan of roasted veg topped up my 5 a day.
This morning’s loaf, much better shape. It’s a beauty! And with that I’m off to poach a couple of eggs to eat with a few slices, for lunch, or maybe I’ll just spread some with salted butter and leave it at that. Followed by half a dozen small plums.
Tell me a few things about your last seven days?
* apart from the crochet picture, that was taken when I was on holiday
Making: the rest of the Gingerbread Man. I finally have eyes for him! Crocheting the Coast Blanket bit by bit
Cooking: Sausages with apple & onion in cider sauce
Sipping: Twinings tumeric, orange & star anise tea
Reading: the lost bees article from The Guardian newspaper, so interesting. It’s HERE
Waiting: for orders to arrive. Actually I’m really waiting for my (December) gin box most of all!
If you’re in the UK and you’d like a half price box for £20, (free P&P) Here’s my referral code. I know I’ve shared this before, but it’s so good I just can’t not. (I get points to spend for successful referrals, which is nice for me too.) You can have a one-off box for a treat, or buy it for someone else for a surprise. Then you can continue a monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly subscription. Or never have another again. Whatever you want
Looking: out to see how frosty it is some mornings. Lately we’ve had some hard frosts. I’m wary of black ice when driving
Listening: Comfort Eating with Grace Dent podcast
Wishing: for a good December – everyone healthy and well
Enjoying: Jamie O’s ‘recipe’ for baked feta, eaten with fresh tagliatelle & green veg
Appreciating: family and friends
Eating: Roasted vegetable pasta bake (Seeds of Change semi-wholemeal tortiglioni pasta – not something I’ve had before, but it worked well because it didn’t go claggy after baking. Not so keen on 100% wholemeal pasta, but would have this again)
Liking: seeing the birds back on the feeders now. The robin has been heartily chomping the mealworms after the cold and snow last weekend
Loving: meeting up with an old friend who’s over from Australia for a few months
Buying: Baptise Dry shampoo – it’s amazing. But not the part where your hair is covered with white residue, and you get a glimpse into what you’ll look like as an old lady. If you get some, the best tip I’ve read is to leave it on for at least 10 minutes before doing anything at all, so it soaks into the oil. Then do the massage step and brush it out. Be prepared for white flakes everywhere. Don’t wear your best top until afterwards!
Managing: multiple Christmas wish lists. Always try to get a head start in November
Watching: Friday night films. Here some we watched during November: Adult Life Skills on Netflix, The Last Bus on Prime, TICK TICK BOOM on Netflix
Hoping: no Lockdown restrictions are ahead, though if we need them, we need them
Wearing: a MASK! Wear a mask, protect others
Noticing: some are still flaunting the new rules that came in on Monday
Following: I’m a Celebrity when it started, not watching so much this year though. It’s just not the same when it’s in Wales, compared to Australia! Have you seen any eps?
Sorting: through photos from the summery summer
Getting: apples in from the garage
Coveting: a Mac Book, a whizzy new SatNav, more walking trainers…(the real Father Christmas might read?! I mean the real one. Not family. This is not a hint for them.)
Hearing: Hard-Fi’s Hard to Beat on the radio
What are you planning this weekend? I think we’re heading to a National Trust house tomorrow to see more Christmas sparkles, as a sweetener after having flu jabs, cooking a roast Sunday lunch and I’m still planning to make that chutney! I need help to peel the apples
It’s been an exciting morning. It’s been really stormy here overnight, with Storm Arwen bringing very, very gusty winds but luckily no damage. I think the north of the country have had it far worse with 98 mph winds.
I kept having shouted weather updates from downstairs first thing, as we were anticipating some changes. First it was “It’s only raining at the moment” yawn, then “I think it’s starting to sleet” ok a little more interesting and then I got a WhatsApp video showing snow falling!
At the time I was sat up in bed ordering more wool for my blanket and toy eyes from Wool Warehouse. I tried to support my local yarn shops, but neither of them had the right sized toy eyes. It was enjoyable browsing online, as it’s months since I have properly looked. But when the snow video came I ended up jumping out of bed, grabbing my iPad and FaceTiming a friend to show her our blizzard of snow. I can’t help squealing, and my snow face was definitely on.
Last night I started to join two of my Coast Blanket granny squares together. Actually as well as JAYGOing I initially went all the way round the outsides too, but wasn’t happy so unravelled it all. Now they’re just joined in one line across, with a third block added to make a longish rectangle.
I can’t really do anything else now, until I’ve got some more of the yellow grey blue wool. But as I did far too much crochet my hand is really protesting today, so a break isn’t a bad thing. I want to make some chutney soon. I might have to have some help peeling and chopping the apples. Oops.
I have three more blocks to join, but I just don’t think the colours go. Although looking at the photo above they look fine. What do you reckon? During the lockdowns, last year and this, supplies of wool ran really low. Across the country people hunkered down to knit and crochet their way through the anxiety and boredom. So, I ended up with three quite different colour-ways of Hayfield Spirit DK for my Coast Blanket. Hmmm. I have a feeling that they will be turned into two smaller blankets, instead of one king-sized. No matter. If this 2° weather continues I’ll be wrapping myself in both! Brrrr!
Because you stuff the gingerbread man as you go and add his eyes, before completing the rest of his head, the poor little thing is eyeless and looks like he’s had a lobotomy. He’s by the magazine for scale. I think if I’d used the proper cotton and smaller hook he’d probably be half the size, but I love him. (The pattern’s by Victoria Kairis and was featured in Simply Crochet mag, issue 115.)
On Thursday I met Cathy for a walk in Badbury woods. We did a 40 minute circular walk, with a sit to admire the long ranging views across Wiltshire and Oxfordshire, then a wander around the Clumps. It was a chilly 3°, so I wore my Edenvale cowl I am very glad we went, because those trees will definitely not have leaves now. It was really rather beautiful as the breeze blew Copper Beech leaves down on us, as we walked underneath the trees.
Afterwards I went into Faringdon for a wander around the churchyard and then had a pot of tea and a wrap for lunch in Costa. Later I had quite a fright as I went into a shop. You remember in my last post I was talking about dogs making a beeline for me, although I’m a cat person? As I opened the shop door and walked through the doorway a head shot out to the side, coming straight at me, between bags hanging on hooks. I shot up into the air and squealed a most peculiar sound. If they’ve got CCTV I bet it would be hilarious to watch. Nothing scary after all, but what a surprise!
Isn’t he gorgeous? He’s an older cat, who lives in the shop. The guy was at the till and his partner (I assume) was running a yoga class in the back room. After a fuss and photo session I went to browse the candles and teas, the cat jumped down from the shelf and walked past me. I thought he was hinting for some more strokes, but no he obviously knows the class routine well; the yoga finished and as people came out of the back room, lots of them stopped stroke him. It was time for more fuss. Clever puss.
I bought this little decorative pot which came in a reusable bag, made from old sari silk. I thought after asking to take photos of the cat and having a chat with the owner, it was the least I could do. I gave it away as a little gift that afternoon. I will definitely go back for more, the shop is called The Lotus Retreat.
It’s opposite a bakery which has been there for years. It’s well known for their Lardy Cakes. My FiL used to drive a lot for work and seemed to navigate the country via bakeries. When I once said I was in Faringdon he immediately recommended the bakery and Lardy cake, for next time. (Oxfordshire should be on that list too Wikipedia.) But I’d already found it and bought us one! I have a good nose for cake too. So, if you’re anywhere near Faringdon, Oxfordshire, you now have a recommendation for a nice walk in the woods, a browse of independent shops and are well prepared for a cat who will shoot his head out and make you jump! Plus a source of fresh cake and breads to take home.
We have planned to go to a Christmas craft fair this afternoon and the switching on of the lights tonight. I’m not sure if I fancy 40+ mile an hour winds, we will see…
We went for a walk for a couple of hours this morning. The weather was mild and still, plenty of dog walkers were out and about. Lovely dogs and really friendly owners. Nearly everybody called them back to put on the lead. Very kind and completely unprompted. I’m glad though, because you always wonder how friendly a dog will be, not so much because of fear but because of exuberantly happy helloes and muddy paw-prints all over your clothes. As a cat person that happens to me often. The dog person walking with me will usually be ignored. How do dogs just know?
The walk was carefully timed, so that we were back in plenty of time to go and buy snacks, pour some beer, then watch the rugby. Well, one of us anyway.
I’m upstairs escaping the crunching of pork scratchings and Big Hoops, comments and excited shouts at the TV. I meant to put on Spotify and listen to Tick Tick BOOM! soundtrack, but the P&Q is nice. Have you seen it yet? A brand new Netflix film. The best new musical I’ve seen in ages. Who knew Andrew Garfield could sing and dance? I liked him as Spider-Man, but this takes him into a completely new genre. It’s an impressive change of gear.
What makes a good musical? For me I want to sing along to a song after only a minute or two. Ditto dancing. I go away singing my own made up songs afterwards too. And dance a few steps on my way to bed. Tick tick BOOM!
I’ve been singing Boho Days since last night. Pretty much every hour. I hope you have Netflix and can watch it too!
I had forgotten that I knitted this dish cloth in February/March. I missed posting for a little while, so I’m pretty sure you haven’t seen it?
The Amour pattern is part of a series of a free dishcloth patterns. One a month, throughout this year by Garlene of The Kitchen Sink Shop. I’ve linked to the pattern there, if you fancy having a go at knitting one yourself? I stopped after the first two, because it now takes me so long to knit or crochet anything now with my dodgy hand. Plus I was using Rowan cotton, which frankly seems such a waste to use on a dish cloth. They’re too nice to use, so are still folded up in a little bag. I wonder about making backing for them and turning them into oven mitts. Any other ideas?
Time for a cheeky little Saturday afternoon drink for me too now! A grapefruit margarita is being made for me. I wonder if they won? And I’m going to add another round, or two, to my Coast blanket.
What have you been up to today? How are you feeling about life, the universe and everything?
Brrrr! It’s suddenly got properly wintry cold and I’m not jumping the gun; I know we are still in autumn, but by golly it’s all changed this week. I never say by golly. I’m not an oldie, or from an Enid Blyton or PG Wodehouse book, but it just seems to fit. (I’m grinning at myself. I’ve been teased in the past for using words like poorly and gosh, but it only makes me use them more.) When you look out of the window first thing and all the conifer hedges are white, the grass is white and the cars are white… It’s definitely an old-fashioned “By golly it’s cold !” kind of week.
I’ve just been on the phone for nearly an hour and a half and added some rounds to my granny square. I can’t remember whether this is the last one I need to do, or if it’s the penultimate square. It is such good ‘phone crochet: mindless, easy and an enjoyable rhythm. It’s really relaxing too, while the conversation meanders along.
On Monday I approached a shop assistant and said I had a really bizarre question to ask her. She looked delighted and said “Bring it on! It makes the time go faster.” Bless her.
I’d lined up three or four different shades of green, and asked her which one was most Brussels sprout like? She really threw herself into it and reckoned it was this one, but then when we checked a photo decided that it could be a couple of different shades. To keep things simple I bought this one (a bargain £1.49) and promised to go back to show her a photo of the finished sprout! She was definitely keen to see it.
This all came out of a photo that my cousin sent me of a knitted Brussels sprout you can buy from White Stuff. £8! For one Brussels sprout decoration! Of course it set us both off with a flurry of messages. She reminded me that she knitted some a few Christmases ago and gave me one. I’d forgotten because all the Christmas decs are in a box, up in the loft. I hope I forget again and then it will be a nice surprise in December. We did laugh at the time, because her knitted Brussels sprouts all looked furious… we’re wondering if my crochet version will be happier. I’ll be looking for a pattern, but not until the Gingerbread Man has at least another leg and his body. Then I will be cosy and crocheting sprouts. Don’t think I ever expected to write that.
Friday night is Pizza Night this week. My sourdough starter is bubbling away by the radiator. It’s the first time the bowl has been left anywhere other than on the kitchen side, since early Spring. But it needs to be in a warm place while the yeast activates. It certainly seems happy. I can’t wait to eat a few slices of pizza while watching a film later. My no-cook pizza sauce will be spread on the dough, with toppings of red onion, peppers, salami, Kalamata olives and a good handful of mozzarella. Yum yum yum coming soon.
And WOOHOO! Friday Night is also Craft Gin Night! I cheered as I opened the door to the lovely post lady. She said she’s delivered other November gin boxes today as well.
I’ve opened the box, but won’t show you the contents yet. I don’t want to put any spoilers online, as I’d hate to think that I might ruin the surprise for any member who reads this blog. It always feels a bit like Christmas, or as if a birthday present has been delivered. I will put a photo of the contents here soon. I will say that I absolutely love the gin bottle label and am intrigued about the where it’s come from… as young woman my Granny worked there as a Nanny, a long time ago.
If you’re in the UK and want £20 off your first 2 boxes, you can use this referral code for Craft Gin Club Gin Pals. I get points, you get 2 big boxes of half price goodies. Then you can cancel and not have anymore ever. Bet you will though! If you clicked the code when I mentioned it before, I hope you enjoyed your tipples and treats.
This week we’ve had some absolutely stunning sunsets. Last night I could see something orange glowing through the frosted glass of the bathroom window, before I pulled the blind down. I went to the bedroom to have a look and WOW! As the sky got darker the orange and gold seemed to intensify. It was fantastic.
My current read. I started an advance reader copy last night (in return for an honest review) and I have found it difficult to put down. I loved Joanna’s debut The Trouble with Goats and Sheep and enjoyed Three Things about Elsie, so am delighted that I’ve got her third book. It’s out next Spring. I’ll let you know nearer the time if it’s worth buying or reserving at the library. So far, so good.
Do you also find that themes or characters seem to continue in your next book? I just read another ARC called Other People Manage by Ellen Hawley and the main (USA) character Marge was a very tall and big girl. Often she felt awkward or uncomfortable around others. Linda (British) in this story is the same. Similarities often jump out, with settings or characters. It’s completely random too, as I often do not know much at all about the books I choose. I just quickly scan the blurb, or not at all if I know the author, as they give too much away.
If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere are you staying cosy? Or are you in the Southern? Is it a warm Spring?
Most importantly: what are you planning to make, eat and are you reading anything you can’t put down?
It’s been a really rotten month. I’ve been unwell from the 1st day of the month and am still taking it really gently. I’ve never been so poorly for so long. I haven’t been on antibiotics for years, or to the GP so many times in one period. I might count up how many painkillers I’ve taken, as it kind of interests my warped brain. Is that madly strange?
My microbiome must be grey like dead coral now.
In case you’re interested…
The gut microbiome plays a very important role in your health by helping control digestion and benefiting your immune system and many other aspects of health. Healthline.com
If you want to know more about gut health, then I recommend reading articles and books written by Tim Spector. I’m reading his Diet Myth book at the moment. He’s got a podcast and has guested on others’ too. Do a name search in your podcast provider library if you’re curious.
Aiming to eat a minimum of 30 different plants a week seems to be a good goal towards a healthy microbiome. Some weeks it’s far more I find. I’ve always enjoyed vegetables and eat lots more beans and lentils now. I’ve kept a tally of how many plants I eat each week. Sometimes written as a nerdy list, or I just keep it in mind. It’s quite gratifying.
These 30 plants include: fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes. I also include sourdough if I eat any of the bread I make as it’s a fermented yeast culture, and is really good for the gut.
A legume is a plant with a pod, with an edible seed, eg: beans, peas, lentils. I checked that a while back as I couldn’t remember the definition.
That was a completely unplanned segue into gut health. But I find it all very interesting.
Anyway, yesterday was my first day without antibiotics, taking any painkillers – yay yay yay! – or feeling like an old lady tottering about. But I’ve still got my old friend tinnitus visiting and am experiencing some balance issues. I’m hoping they’ll fade away soon.
To celebrate feeling more like myself I carefully cooked a sausage and bean casserole for dinner. Yesterday it felt like autumn for the first time. It had hammered with rain all day, and by the evening felt much cooler than it has for a while. The heating’s still not on, but I don’t think it will be long. Have you made the transition to more autumn comfort food yet? Is your heating on? Or, are you heading into spring where you are now?
I’ve got massses of links to add to a September Taking Stock post, since I’ve read lots of books and listened to some podcasts. Plus I’ve started a brand-new audiobook in the last few days, since I’ve been able to tolerate more noise.
I’m still not listening to music really, as the frequencies seem to be too much for now. So I’m ignoring Spotify’s appeals for me to come back for £9.99 for three months. I did jump at an Audible offer of 3 months membership for £3.99. I’ve been a member for 10 years on and off, and fancied trying their new package. Membership now includes unlimited free in-house podcasts and certain books. I wish this was a sponsored post. Hello Audible!?! Ha!
Instagram has been absolutely fabulous for company, distraction, inspiration and entertainment. I had to lie down for hour long periods every day and became addicted to watching people’s stories on there! Friends and contacts have been so kind, asking how I am and responding to my chatty comments. Social media can be so lovely. A real force for good.
The tomatoes are ripening. We have bowls of them in sunny (well, some days) windowsills around the house. They’re absolutely delicious! A little taste of summer in early autumn. Love the flavour of the little orange Sungolds. Will definitely grow those again.
I’m trying these hexagons. I’m undoing the granny square as I crochet them. I don’t need it for my Coast Blanket. The colourway just didn’t fit with the other shades particularly well.
I reckon the hexagons with the solid colour centres look better, less confusing, to the eye. So I’m trying to start them with lengths of the same colour, without wasting too much yarn.
You know when you feel unsure about how many things you’ve got on the go? I’ve sorted out my projects and have written a proper list. Organised dot com. Three is the magic number. I have three knits to finish. (One of them is the infamous sock. I’d love to finish it as I suspect I could become a very keen sock knitter, but it might never happen. Long time readers will know why…) I also have three crochet things on the go.
Also, there is a bag of various what-I’m-calling yarn doodles. Yarn doodling happens on days when I fancy just playing around, and may not necessarily end up being anything. Bet you’ve got them too? It’s all those odd motifs and scrappy playful bits of things that you then put down and don’t necessarily continue. I’m keeping them, since some of them could turn into scrappy blankets to gift, or give away to charities like Knit for Peace. The above hexagons are in that category so far.
And finally, I have to show you these lovely pics my friend sent:
I’ll be back with a Taking Stock soon.
Hope your September has been a good one, tell me what you’ve been up to? Especially what are you cooking and eating?
Making: a bit of progress on my Coast Blanket, 3 more rows and I’ve finished another block.
I’ve done another 18 row repeat of my (probably not going to be a) dishcloth too. I just have the last 4 rows of plain knitting to do and it’s done. It’s frustratingly slow. Ah well. I’m glad I can still do bits and bobs Actually I have noticed bloggers I’ve followed for years, mentioning their tendon issues, carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis and such. All the crochet and knitting has caught up with us! Take it easy and don’t do too much in a sitting. BE CAREFUL
Cooking: olive focaccia. Last night I tried a third recipe, another sourdough recipe. This trebled – it was absolutely huge! It didn’t even look like focaccia. My starter is super powered. We hardly made a dent in it, but it tasted great. It also had massive air holes which was quite fun, but I’ll be going back to my first recipe which uses predictable commercial yeast. And looks like focaccia!
Sipping: on Saturday before dinner – Vagabond, a pale ale made by Scottish brewing geniuses BrewDog
Reading: Hungry by Grace Dent. I heard her on this podcast and immediately borrowed the ebook from the library, using the Libby app. So good. So good. I can’t put it down.
Waiting: Yep, we are all still waiting in England. I’m waiting patiently and feeling quite chilled.
Looking: forward to a holiday. Fingers and toes crossed!
Listening: to Madonna’s ‘Dress you up’ on the radio
Wishing: just to drive out of county. As soon as we’re allowed I’ll be off in all directions! Coast, National Trust places, shopping, museums, London, cafes, theatres, cinemas, short trips, long trips…I’d better check our cars over and make sure the tyres are up to all the driving. In the meantime I’m walking every day and enjoying it.
Enjoying: sunshine streaming in the windows. I woke at 7am and the room was full of delicious golden light.
Appreciating: birdsong, winter flowers, beautiful views, friendly people
Eating: lentil dal. I made what turned out to be my best ever. Just on the spur of the moment because I fancied some for lunch. Red split lentils, coconut milk, stock, onions, ginger, garlic, spices, fresh green chillis and a few chopped tomatoes. YUM
Liking: Taskmaster on 4OD still. We’re working our way through old series on 4OD. We take it in turns to choose. It never fails to make us roar with laughter. S2 now.
Loving: Lupin on Netflix, it’s French with subtitles. Don’t let that put you off, it’s fantastic. The story, the twists and music and …. Just watch the first episode and know that I’m winking at you
Buying: new walking trainers. I’ve gone through a pair in less than a year, as I walk so many miles
Managing: fine, thanks!
Watching: birds coming to the feeders. Love the cheeky aggro of the starlings raiding the mealworms and the hyperactive nervy blue tits
Hoping: for family gatherings
Following: changes in nature, loving all the greenery and shoots appearing
Noticing: much lighter earlier mornings and later afternoons
Sorting: socks. Wool walking socks shrink in the wash. When they’re all different ages it means I’ve got shorts, mediums and larges.
Getting: motivated with monthly goals. I’ll be reviewing them at the end of March and I’ll be setting new in April
Bookmarking: podcast episodes by searching for favourite comedians and listening to a range of shows
Coveting: summer evenings by the river with cider and a nice meal
Feeling: calm but keen for normal life to resume …
Hearing: the kitchen clock ticking
What were your highlights of February? Was it good for you?
My wool delivery came! And it didn’t take that long either, despite many warnings that there are delays. Thanks Wool Warehouse.
I ordered lots of balls and in a few different colour-ways, so I can power on with my Coast blanket. I managed 57 minutes of crochet while on a call earlier. That’s impressive work for my dodgy hand.
Slowly, slowly I’m knitting my next dishcloth*. Choosing the design for February must have been a breeze.￼ I really like it. I always enjoy lace knitting, though I have to concentrate.
I had a proper lightbulb moment the other day as I kept worrying that I was doing something wrong. It wasn’t looking heart-like at all. Thank goodness I didn’t undo and go back to the beginning! I probably missed a pattern note where it says the hearts appear upside down. I made someone jump by suddenly shouting “OMG, there ARE hearts after all!”
It turns out I’m not the only one who worried about this one. Always a relief.￼
*It’s part of a free 12 month KAL, go back to my last post for the link and description.
Winter flowers and the promise of Spring flowers. The garden is coming to life. Just look at those cheeky little croci coming up in the gap between the last two steps. We missed these last year, as we moved after they’d flowered. After the snow had gone it was a nice surprise to find a carpet of lilac all over the garden.
Look at these tulips; despite my not having cleared away some of the leaves of the grape leaf anemone, they’re coming up anyway. Top marks for doing what they’re meant to do.￼ I felt so guilty I stopped snapping photos and did a bit of tidying to help them along.
Chicken soup in the making (much therapeutic chopping while listening to favourite artists on Spotify.) Apparently I said we were having chicken soup for dinner on Wednesday, three times on Tuesday. I don’t dispute that. My memory is fine. I was just excited! It feels so healthy and tastes great too. I added garlic, mixed herbs, homegrown dried bay leaves, red pepper, leeks, Merchant Gourmet ready cooked puy lentils, sweetcorn, chicken stock, leftover Sunday roast chicken and a spoonful of leftover double cream, a good grind of fresh black pepper and pinch of salt. So good. Sooo good.
Refreshing walks relieve head pressure and get the body moving. I score myself out of 10 some days and never failed to return feeling an 8/10.
I know many don’t have such beautiful places and views nearby. I’m really sorry if that’s you. I’m appreciative and grateful, I don’t take it for granted.
We had the Beast from the East again last week. Temperatures went down to -5° some nights and didn’t get above 0° on the whole during the day.
We walked Saturday afternoon, it was -1°. That wasn’t the coldest walk we’ve had, but might have been one of the swiftest 4.5 miles because of the bitingly cold wind.￼
I found a few big chunks of ice in different places on verges, where there were no puddles at all. My shoe was for scale. Aren’t they thick? I reckon they may have come off a farm vehicle as it went along the track.￼
Homemade cinnamon buns with a toffee sauce and clementine glaze. Nuff said!
I’m going to admit that I started this blog post with rather gritted teeth. I feel like I’ve finally hit the wall this week. We’ve been in lockdown to varying degrees coming up for a year now. It’s worn thinner than thin.￼
Getting out into the garden to photograph the flowers￼ earlier was a good decision. I also had a nagging feeling that if I didn’t blog today, I might well not blog again. It’s been proactive to list reasons to be cheerful. It’s a bit like smiling when you don’t feel like smiling, but by the end of the fake smiling, you are genuinely smiling…￼
I really appreciate it when you read and comment here or contact me privately elsewhere. Tell me a few things. How are you feeling? What are your reasons to be cheerful right now? Have you made anything as sinful as my cinnamon buns? (Ha that’s a hard challenge to beat!)
Hello there, despite the least variety, or many plans to look forward to (apart from Zoom meetings, online singing classes, FaceTime drinks with friends and family and excellent roast Sunday lunches some weekends, which all equate to the most amount of time we’ve spent inside at home) it seems to be over two weeks since I posted.￼ I’m not quite sure how that happened; because after I wrote my Yarn Along post I was buzzing with ideas for more posts. Time and opportunity has not been an issue!
Anyway, thank you so much for your comments on my last. It was so nice to hear from so many of you. Your comments all made me smile.
I’m going to jump straight in to show you what I’ve been doing for the last few weeks. I still only do a little at a time as I can’t crochet or knit for long periods, like I used to. But I’m thankful that I can still do some, as long as I stop the moment I feel a twinge of hand or wrist pain.
What I’m making has￼ to be quite simple. I’ve tried more intricate patterns and unfortunately it’s still a no-go, unless I crochet or knit just a little, for about 10 minutes at a time, and that’s really unsatisfying. I’m happy with all these makes though, and hope you enjoy your peep at what I’ve been up to…
I kept seeing these Vintage Flower Hexagon motifs on Insta. I haven’t seen anything quite like this before, it makes me think of Orla Kiely designs￼. I bought Atty van Norel’s pattern on Ravelry. Really pretty isn’t it?
I’m using chunky yarn and so my motif is￼￼ 18cm across. The slightly wiggly shape will sort itself out when joined with others.
Yep, it’s back! I had stopped this Star Blanket with a view to it being a baby blanket. But I kept eyeing it, wondering about continuing. It’s really cold weather here and a chunky blanket is the nicest thing to sit underneath while you work on it. Today it’s 3° but feels like -1° according to the BBC Weather app. We had quite a good fall of snow yesterday. The Snowhare we made in the garden is starting to tilt as it melted slightly today, but there’s still plenty of white stuff around.
I unravelled a ￼few rows because I’d spotted a stitch or two I wanted to re-do, and hooking those rows back up made me remember how deliciously tactile it is using chunky yarn and a 6 mm hook. ￼I’ve got quite a lot of Paintbox Simply Chunky yarn as Lovecrafts.com sent some to me to try last summer, so I’ll carry on and see what size it becomes.
If you haven’t tried Paintbox Simply Chunky yarn yet, do. It’s so soft and makes a really squishy fabric. It’s 100% acrylic but has a really nice feel. This isn’t an advert or an affiliated link, it’s genuine enthusiasm for a new find.
I know that some of you are waiting for the pattern for my knitted cowl, but like an idiot I sent it to my friend before I worked out a few details for the written pattern. She sent me a picture wearing it when she’d just received it. I hadn’t told her when it was posted as I thought a surprise would be￼ really welcome in this bleugh time. Her little face was a picture of joy, so I can hardly ask her to send it back. So, I’m starting another and this time trying to be a little bit more professional about things…￼￼!
I’m so enjoying making these large granny squares. My hand feels most comfortable using this fairly fine DK wool blend with a 4 mm hook. This is what I often crochet when I make telephone calls. I wear my hands free ear pods and we chat about all sorts while I do some hooky.
I started the blues and greys square on holiday in September, in Cornwall. I bought a couple of balls of Hayfield Spirit DK yarn, a wool blend, and a hook in Penzance. It was pure pleasure sitting up in bed in the earlyish morning, in our holiday house further west, looking at the sea views, with the sun sparkling on the water. ￼
Sadly I can’t get any more of the yarn at the moment. Wah! I contacted Sirdar as I’d searched on many yarn company websites for the colour shades I need next and it’s a no-go. I can get maybe one colour blend, but not all. Apparently the lack of availability is down to Covid and Brexit. The terrible twins.￼￼￼
Still, there’s plenty here to keep my hands busy. What about you? Tell me what you’re making and busy with, please.￼
I love autumn, I always have. I’m glad we have four distinct seasons here. Fancy a rather rambling read? You’ve come to the right place.
The drop in temperature has meant the food I cook has changed. Plus I definitely gravitate towards a glass of red wine more too. And why not? It warms the blood.
The change of weather and a bounty of homegrown and wild produce seems to have perked up friends lately too. Recently I’ve had WhatsApps about:
T and her pots of rhubarb and ginger jam
T and his apple crumble / beef and ale pie
S made a chicken and tarragon pie
E made a huge apple pie
P is delighted that Yorkshire tea have made biscuit flavoured tea bags and says her tea drinking times have just improved!
N has been looking up crabapple recipes
B dusted off her slow cooker and made a beef and ale stew
I adore messages like those!
I’ve made Dorset apple cakes to share with family, plus tried a new bread recipe for a ginger and sultana loaf from my WI Bread book. It’s a winner! Message me and I’ll send you the recipe.
I’ve taken a few comfort food cookbooks off the shelf to get more inspiration￼.
What are you cooking at the moment? Have you made anything new, or an old favourite?￼
We talked about a long walk and tackling some chores in the house and garden, but after a long call from a friend and a heavy downpour went into hibernation mode instead the other day. We listened to This is This Country and roared with laughter. (Best if you already know the tv series.)
Lately I’ve sat up in the early morning with a podcast or audio book and done a round or two of crochet. It is a nice lazy way to start the day. I recommend Lisa Jewell’s Invisable Girl audio book.
I’m sticking to my Close to You scarf and Big Granny Square blanket. I’m trying not to flit around with lots of different makes, but am committing to a few. Both are easy going￼ and not too taxing for my iffy hands.
For the GSB I’m wondering about going off-piste and buying more Hayfield Spirit yarn in different colourways. It would be a multi-multi coloured blanket. Here’s the full selection of colours from the Sirdar website. What do you reckon?
Casper might be fun for a scarf.
It’s gorgeous weather for walks. No sunscreen or multiple water bottles to lug around anymore as it’s now 10° less, or more, than this time a couple of weeks ago. Time to get the woollies out again! We all like an excuse to show off our homemades.
There’s an ￼￼abundance of berries, a friend I met for lunch said she thinks it means we’re in for a hard winter. Is that right?
In the hedgerows in fields near home there are: crabapples, sloes, haws, the last blackberries, acorns, conkers, sycamore helicopters and ash keys. It’s fantastic.
‘Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ …full poem here.
Last weekend we drove home in the dark and AN OWL WAS SITTING ON THE WHITE LINE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD! I think he’d just caught a little creature running across the road and was pinning it down. ￼
If the low light levels and gloomy days are feeling a little bit tricky, combined with everything else at the mo, here’s a tiny rather silly little thing you can do. I bought a really cheap set of glitter gel pens from The Works and now write lists using a different colour for each item. Someone told me it’s like I’m 13 years old, but I don’t care! My shopping and freezer lists are really pretty￼ and colourful on the front of the fridge. They’re making me smile.
How are you finding autumn?
Maybe it’s Spring where you are? What are you up to?
Yesterday, on a beautiful crisp newly minted autumn Sunday morning, I sat up in bed all cosy listening to Liza Tarbuck’s Saturday radio show on the BBC Sounds app and undid every single stitch I’d done of my Coast Blanket while in West Cornwall last week (I told you its name would probably change lots of times) and restarted it.
I don’t want the square tilting so I had tried three different ways of turning each round and have now found a method I’m much happier with. I don’t think you can see where I’ve turned the hook and square? Tell me if you can see, I won’t mind. I won’t be undoing it again as I’m happy. I know no one visiting me and snuggling under my blankets would have noticed unless they were really looking, and probably non-crocheters wouldn’t at all, but they were bugging me. I’m a sometime perfectionist.
I can hear you shouting the word “Swatch!” And I’m shrugging back at you.
I managed to redo this yesterday. Too much for my hands but I enjoyed it. Today Ouch!
I’m one of a group of people on Instagram who are currently making simple granny square blankets. Motif, tapestry and intricate showy-offy colourwork crochet is all very well and good, but they don’t make the heart sing as much as a good old granny square! Sometimes plain and cosy is enough and beautiful in its simplicity.
I feel like I’m spotting granny square blankets on nearly everything I watch right now. For example: The Duchess on Netflix and Doc Martin on Britbox this weekend. It’s really fun to shout “CROCHET!” at the screen. I’m not sure how anyone else feels about this habit. I’m not asking because I don’t want to stop…
I believe crochet originated as a thrifty way to use up leftover wool from knitting projects, or to reuse it from old garments. I love it when you see people doing similar with leftovers, albeit in these times of plenty. That’s how I came to be making my Tilted Squares Blanket actually. I wanted to use up the remnants of the one and only yarn pack I’d bought when I was a new crocheter, before I started to choose my own colour combos.
I know my Coast Blanket isn’t in the waste-not-want-not category in the slightest (See here ) but I’m absolutely loving this Hayfield Spirit variegated yarn. I’ve never used variegated for a blanket before. It keeps it interesting seeing the colours change. There will be lots of multicoloured rounds as it grows bigger, but it’s so pretty I don’t think it will grate. There’s going to be fewer weaker spots, because there won’t be very many ends to darn in all compared to changing yarns on every round. Hardly any darning = big win.
I think I’ve read or listened to everything Tracy Chevalier’s written. I love her blend of historical fact and real life people blended with fictional characters. You can visit or Google most of the places in her stories too.
I enjoy stories set in America, especially during pioneer times. When I saw this paperback in one of favourite charity shops for £1 I grabbed it for my holiday read.
1838: James and Sadie Goodenough have settled where their wagon got stuck – in the muddy, stagnant swamps of northwest Ohio. They and their five children work relentlessly to tame their patch of land, buying saplings from a local tree man known as John Appleseed so they can cultivate the fifty apple trees required to stake their claim on the property. But the orchard they plant sows the seeds of a long battle. James loves the apples, reminders of an easier life back in Connecticut; while Sadie prefers the applejack they make, an alcoholic refuge from brutal frontier life.
1853: Their youngest child Robert is wandering through Gold Rush California. Restless and haunted by the broken family he left behind, he has made his way alone across the country. In the redwood and giant sequoia groves he finds some solace, collecting seeds for a naturalist who sells plants from the new world to the gardeners of England. But you can run only so far, even in America, and when Robert’s past makes an unexpected appearance he must decide whether to strike out again or stake his own claim to a home at last.
I’m probably about 95% of the way through. It’s been a satisfying read, but I wonder if the story will abruptly end? There seems to be so much more to say and very few pages in which to say it. This is probably another way of saying that I don’t want it to end!
Joining in late with Ginny’s Yarn Along once again, but better late than never, right?