This week 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The little black cat with the powder puff tail 

I’ve knit some more of the washcloth I started last week. Doesn’t the stitch definition look fabulous with the cotton? On Thursday morning I did some train knitting, surrounded by suits, laptops and newspapers. I will not be intimidated. I shall craft. 

And look! I’ve darned 3 1/2 ends in the Wave Blanket. I meant to do 10 last night; but had to put it down to concentrate on Who Do You Think You Are. It was Ruby Wax and her family’s story was making my eyes brim (then I kept gasping.) Maybe I’ll do 16 1/2 ends later to make up for it. 

I’ve felt better about adding parchment into my garter stitch blanket. It does look better than I imagined, with the blended yarns. Thanks for the reassurance Vikki. Last night I restricted myself to six rows only so as to keep my elbow happy. It’s hard to put something you’re enjoying down, isn’t it?

This is my third and last, for a while, zippy bag which I made at Sewing Club on Monday night. Next week I’m trying something different. I’m a bit slack on the prep and lack confidence about what to make. I’d prefer it if the tutor came with all we needed, did a tutorial and we went off to make it. Lazy aren’t I?! But it’s like Knit & Crochet Groups where you take whatever you want to make. (Though she does do a quick tutorial for various things which you can try at home. This week it was lacy knickers! We naughty ones sniggered seeing how tiny medium was and decided we’d just get a multi-pack from M&S!) Shelly sits across from me and is a machine. She always sits right down and starts sewing what she’s prepped beforehand. No faff, or excess chatter until she’s made a start. She’s sewn so many different items this term that I tease her about her work ethic, while feeling fairly rubbish about mine. She’s only little and wears quite high heeled stompy boots. When I said about wanting to try something new next week but not sure what, she marched across to my table and wrote in my notebook saying very firmly: “Bring four pieces of material cut to these sizes. It’s easier than what you’ve been making tonight. Just do it!” O.M.G. Right then. I’m far to scared not to do it!

Mum’s dahlias. Perfection.

Well here he is – that little cat I mentioned a few weeks ago. And oh, you did make me laugh. Occasionally I’ll write that I’ve got a bad cold, a real stinker, or that my elbow is sore. Once I remember reporting that I got out of bed and fell over as my knee had gone kaput. I don’t remember many comments about any of these, but I casually end a Yarning Along post with ‘I must dash, as I’ve got to take a little black cat with a powder puff tail to the vets’ and you’d think I’d said the sky had fallen down! The comments, private messages, both sympathetic and worried, really amused me! He was only going for a dab of this and a tablet of that. He’s young and is in very fine fettle, but I realised I’d worried the cat ladies! (But thanks for all the sympathy when I’m poorly, no really you’re just so caring.) So I took his photo for you because as I walked into Mum’s garden yesterday, to photograph the dahlias I saw him sitting under the apple tree. He was next to the shed where she was potting up hyacinth and tulip bulbs. Maybe he was being a guard cat?

This week I’m reading Ruby Wax Sane New World on my Kindle, which is why I particularly wanted to see her episode of WDYTYA. It’s interesting learning about mindfulness. And I’m also listening to the rest of the  Alan Bennett plays. I feel I might need to hear A Question of Attribution again. I was marching around the countryside when I heard it and think I missed some of the nuance. 

Do you listen to audio books or prefer podcasts? What are you watching on TV at the mo?


Yarning Along

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

Yarning Along = yarny stuff you’re making and what you’re reading (‘a good yarn’) but let’s not get too bogged down…if you’re reading mags, gardening or recipe books that counts, as does sewing, jewellery making or whatever. Just tell us about what you are making and reading.

Cotton knit and crochet, plus more vintage reading

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

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

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

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

“Yeah yeah, I’ve heard that before.” 

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

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

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


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

Yarning Along: a bit of this and that 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cozy Autumn Sunday

About three years ago I made a pot holder by Cara Medus from Simply Crochet, issue 15. It’s been so well used it’s really looking tatty now. Tempted to photograph it as proof I talked myself out of this daft idea; you surely don’t need to see a faded and slightly grotty looking pot holder do you? 

As I had a Hobbycraft birthday giftcard to use I bought two balls of Lily Sugar ‘n Cream cotton the other day. I’ve never used this brand before. It must have earnt some air miles as it’s made from 100% USA cotton and was produced into yarn in Canada, then came here to England. It’s exciting to have USA cotton, this was definitely an incentive for me to buy. The label is really old fashioned: I reckon it hasn’t changed for years. I think I recognise it from other bloggers’ posts over the years. The cotton is worsted weight, which is somewhere between U.K. DK and aran weight yarn. It’s really soft and super to crochet. There were no splitty strands at all. It might be my new favourite cotton, in fact. It’s just right for pot holders and face cloths, although it hasn’t been through the wash yet so I can’t speak for the colour-fastness. (If in doubt, hyphenate!) I’m not writing this as an undercover review, sponsored by anyone by the way, it’s just me burbling on.I googled my own blog post to find the pot holder details. This always makes me grin a little. But it didn’t provide me with the actual pattern and I had taken my old issues to the charity shop before moving. Boo! I would have some time to kill the next day, while my car was serviced, and thought it would be a good little project, but without a pattern this was not going to happen. What to do? I put out a general request on IG before going to sleep last Thursday, as I’ve seen others do. In the morning I found that at 01:00 someone had messaged me. Sally, a lady who I’ve been in touch with over the years, had sent me a photo copy. People are so kind. I see little random acts of kindness all the time. If you look for them you’ll notice all sorts of things. I was the recipient of one yesterday: coming back from London I mentioned to a woman that I’d left my earbuds at home and so couldn’t start my new audio book. She promptly fished out a set of her own for me to borrow. They sit right in your ears, and so I thought this was a particularly kind thing to do for a stranger. I offered to share my bar of chocolate in thanks, but she’d just returned from Brussels and was still full from her late lunch of mussels and frites! Thank you again Chris, if you randomly happen to read crochet blogs. You never know, she might.

Today it’s one of those rainy Sundays. It wasn’t first thing (first thing on a Sunday here is often about 10:30…) and a walk was on the cards. Then it got greyer and greyer, so staying put to crochet and listen to music, and then an audio book, became the more appealing thing to do. It’s very cosy and feels like the first proper lazy Sunday of the new season. 

Walking along with my cousin in Oxford the other day we saw these dancing to a busker’s music.

Have you ever seen dancing ducks? 

What have you been doing today? Has it been a grey and rainy day for you too?

Taking Stock in September

IMG_1278IMG_1260Making : another star ripple blanket
Cooking : Dorset Apple cake with windfall apples from the garden, orange and ginger tea-loaf, pasta sauce with home-grown tomatoes and chillies, raspberry jam…

IMG_1154Drinking : nothing at the mo
Reading: Resistance is Futile by Jenny T. Colgan (85% through)
Wanting: to finish the book as the twee language is irritating meIMG_1267Looking: out at grey clouds and weak sunshine
Playing: solitaire games on my new lap top

IMG_1247Deciding: whether to finish another pot-holder, do the last section of my Hitchhiker shawlette, or re-edge my ripple, or make something new from cotton from my Hook, Yarn and Crochet book
Wishing: those 100+ baby cashmerino blocks from my long ago CAL would organise themselves into a blanket
Enjoying: using up oddments of yarn on the star ripple blanket

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Waiting: for a yarn delivery, I’ve run out of pink mid-way round the last row (not really the point of stash bushing makes, I know!)
Liking: that I could use a little of my birthday voucher for the order, thanks my friend

IMG_0763Wondering: if it’s silly to try to sell on Etsy, there are SO MANY similar items listed. But none made by me…
Loving: thinking about what to cook with home-grown produce from here and family: apples, carrots, courgettes, garlic, onions, chillies, tomatoes, peppers
Pondering: Life and the Universe
Considering: buying a lottery ticket for the Euro millions draw tomorrow
Buying: capers so I can make putanesca with more of the tomato glut
Watching: Girl Meets Boy, we’re giving it one more episode.. It feels like an attempt to educate and teach people how to think, rather than a good comedy which it promised to be in the first episodeIMG_1272Hoping: for late summer weather again tomorrow
Marvelling: at the number of sparrow fights on the bird feeder
Cringing: at the way the house sparrows are ganging up against the tree sparrow (4:1)
Needing: a long walk
Questioning: what will happen long-term in SyriaIMG_1131Smelling: smoke, some plonker is polluting the air with a huge bonfire
Wearing: comfy home clothes
Following: no one new blogwise. I’ve been seduced by IG but really enjoy catching up with my fave bloggers
Noticing: how much more enjoyable it is to read people’s stories and hear their voice in writing, then the quick fix of a stream of photos
Knowing: I need to go and drink my peppermint tea.IMG_1148Thinking: I’m really thirsty
Admiring: People who have their own sense of style
Sorting: more stuff to go to the charity shops
Getting: organised
Bookmarking: recipes for seasonal produce
Coveting: a winning lottery ticket
Disliking: lock down because I closed every window in the house because the house is getting kipperedIMG_1055Opening: windows again soon, I hope!
Giggling: over silly vids people post on FB
Feeling: thirsty *getting up to go and drink that cold peppermint tea*
Snacking: on raw carrots…shortly
Helping: others by taking some of their glut and then passing on slices of cake etc
Hearing: the wind now whistling outside

Thanks to Pip for the list, it’s fun to play again. If you join in too let me in the comments below. I’d like to read yours.

Pretty pink 


  
   Last night’s IG progress pic 

 Is it ever going to stop raining? Crocheting more pot holders in the garden in the sun, on Saturday, now feels like a long time ago. It rained on Sunday, on Monday and yesterday. Last night I woke up because of the wind and the rain. Today it’s still raining heavily and steadily.

One upside of all the rain is that I am finishing off bits of crochet; mainly so I can start some more. I really do prefer decorative but practical things but I’ve completely contradicted myself by making a doily… I’ve never made a mandala and always said that they are just 21st-century versions of a doily, then I made a doily! A crafty friend says she actually prefers doilies in modern yarns and colours, as she reckons the patterns tend to be a bit more complex. It was absorbing,  I really enjoyed following the pattern. It’s from Simply Crochet magazine, issue 33 and is by Anne Egan. Like others; well to be strictly honest one other I found in my Google (but I bet there’s lots) I omitted the final round. I tried the mini-clovers and it just wasn’t joyful or relaxing. That’s an understatement…  I just couldn’t work out which way to go round and they looked a mess, so I went in to the previous round with DCs instead.  Later I need to block it. Perhaps they might be easier with finer thread, rather than DC cotton and a 4 mm hook? They’re definitely a challenge I’m going to take up in the future. Rah!!!

Pretty useful 

   
    
 I’m not really one for making decorative things for the sake of making them, I prefer to make practical things. Things that look pretty, but will actually serve a purpose are the best. Potholders seem to be my thing, potholders and washcloths. 

The pattern for the dandelion clock potholder (which looking at the pattern actually has one square in the middle of each flower a lighter shade of pink; so I imagine it’s meant to be a daisy or something. But I thought thistle or dandelion clock for mine as I really think they’re just as nice)  is from Kat Goldin’s Hook, Stitch and Give. It has been sitting waiting for me to use it again, but I had an embargo on starting any other crochet projects until that blanket was finished! 

Of course you could just crochet some squares, do some cross stitch decoration, or not, and then DC around the edges through both loops to fix them together. But the book is lovely and I wanted the relaxation of following some well written patterns, and no – I’m not being paid to promote it. 

I’ve used DMC Natura cotton as I had loads that Simply Crochet magazine sent me for designing the bag brooch. It’s so nice to work with and I’ve never been a huge fan of crocheting with cotton.  I think that it’s hard on the hands because it’s not flexible, also it’s just not as comforting to hold as wool or acrylic yarns, but I’m a fan of this cotton. One website has 50 different colours for sale. I got a voucher for my birthday too… 

The scruffy potholder is one I made a year or two ago, it’s well used because someone (naming no names) dropped our largest saucepan lid and it shattered. It’s such a good heavy based pan that I use with a baking sheet on the top, which course gets hot…

Guess what I’m making now? 

Small things 

   

  

 I seem to be in a bit of a cross stitch phase again. I usually do an annual cross stitch in the summer, just a little one, but it’s continuing at the moment. I have another little kit lined up too. It’s the better light levels, and the fact it’s not a hot, heavy wooly thing during warm weather.

The last is a pot holder in progress, from Hook, Stitch and Crochet by clever clogs Kat Goldin. I watched Bridesmaids (again) and chortled away while I stitched last night. It’s a bit homespun but fun to do.

I’ve found out why WordPress seemed to take against Mum’s William Morris curtains so…after nearly four years I’ve finally used up all the free capacity and had to pay to go premium. I quite like having the shorter domain, TheLittleRoomofRachell.com sounds snazzy, but I might sell a blanket or few to go towards the cost. 

I’m off to rejig that blanket post. I can now add all the photos I wanted to include the first time, before it kept telling me I’d failed.

All the possibilities

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The postman left three parcels today, one was for me and as I haven’t ordered anything lately I was intrigued. Then seeing the enclosed delivery note I remembered seeing a photo of a gorgeous ball of cotton and a very cheeky communication I’d had with DMC Creative World.
I’d said it looks scrummy, a few crocheters replied that they love using it and so I threw out a ‘You can always send me some to try, and review. Anytime.’ And DMC Creative World have!!!!! How cheeky was I?! And what a surprise to receive NINE balls of cottons and merino.

What shall I make? Shall I look though my vintage patterns and try using one? Shall I see what comes out of my own brain? I need suggestions as my head is happily filled to the brim with the JOY of having finally darned in all the ends of my huge granny squares. I’m now joining-as-you-go like crazy, and loving every minute of it.

My flower brooches in Simply Crochet!

I came home late last night from London frozen to the bone after a three hour Jack the Ripper tour in the East End, a long wait for the bus then a frozen car windscreen which I needed to de-ice. My feet felt like two big ice cubes! But there in a prominent place propped up on the stairs was my new issue (16) of Simply Crochet. All thoughts of feeling cold vanished!
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In January I was contacted by Tanya, the Commissioning Editor and asked if I would design a brooch for a Springtime feature in Simply Crochet. You can imagine my surprise and pleasure at being asked, especially as I’ve bought the magazine since it began. I was sent these lovely balls of cotton and given completely free rein to design whatever kind of brooch I fancied.
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I really enjoyed sitting here in The Little Room playing with different stitches and colour combinations, it was a great way to banish any post-Christmas January blues.
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I came up with a curly twirly flower brooch to pin on a bag, to add a bit of pretty.
20140302-145729.jpgThey work well if you pin the petals out (dry) for a little while, as you release them they ping up and curl delightfully around. Alternatively you can block them and leave them flatter as the magazine have done.

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As this would be my first ever published pattern (I’m beaming as I still can’t believe it, I’m sooo happy about this unexpected event) I was a bit nervous that it would be gobbledegook and asked Kate of Greedy for Colour to check it. The rush of having someone else, particularly such a crochet clever clogs, test your pattern and come back with a gorgeous version of their own (2 lots of delicate light pink petals on the top,  a white set at the bottom and a pale primrose middle) and 100% positive feedback was immense.

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I had thought I probably shouldn’t show what I designed until the magazine is in the shops or online but today see that others have shown photos and are talking on social media about the feature, so gave myself the go-ahead! It’s way too exciting not to!

20140302-145820.jpgOoh on the front cover of the supplement!!!!!!!!!

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Lovely styling. That’s MY crochet, crocheted here in this Little Room in my house! Wooooooo! Boom! (As Claudia says on GBSB.) The opposite page has the brooch pattern, a few other photos and bit about my crochet, thoughts on blogging and inspiration.

I was in stunningly good company as most of the other blogger designers are those I’ve followed for a few years. But you’ll have to buy the mag to see who they are, as I’m not spoiling any more surprises. Well, except one! I have to, I just do…

I met this blogger last Christmas, just over a year ago, as she was visiting England from the USA. We talked and talked, a coffee turned into a day of wandering, lunch and sight seeing. We discussed yarn, crochet, craft shops, blogging and our fave bloggers. I never expected us both to be featured in this top, top crochet maazine together! (I’m allowed to sprinkle !!!! liberally in this post. It’s my 15 seconds of crochet fame after all.)

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It’s the lovely Hannah from Not Your Average Crochet. I’m so making this Springtime hat pincushion.
20140302-145904.jpgNow I’m off for a refreshing glass of wine!

Happy weekend all.

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?

Really nice shopping

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Supermarket, butchers and fabric shop… I know which was more fun by far!

I’ve bought a few metres of each fabric for my next make. I’m planning to work through my Cath Kidson Sew! book as I like 99.9% of the makes. Of course it might be saved for the next girl’s sewing day as my friend and I have discussed making a different bag every time we get together . You can never have too many bags, right?

On the crochet front I’m still working my way through hooking up mini bunting as a commission from my local shop.

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What crafty items have you bought lately?

And another one

It’s suddenly changed into autumn weather here, so welcome to dodgy photos and cold toes once again.

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Dishcloths / washcloths are just so fast and satisfying to crochet. They make really scrubby cloths and the morning I went out with a glowing red face is proof enough.

Again I’ve used the same patten as for my last – the pink aran cotton cloth which can be found here. Basically it’s chain an even number of stitches, 1 dc and 2 tr into the 3rd ch. *skip 2 ch and 1 dc, 2 tr into the next ch and repeat *…ending with 1 dc in the last ch (st on subsequent rows.) Remember your 1ch at the beginning of rows for your turning chain, which does not count as a stitch. If you know the name for this stitch I’d like to know please.

I’ve started my chunky knitting and 4ply crochet, but the sewing up has to be done for the potentially deformed cat one evening soon because the Cats and Kittens book (by Sue Stratford) needs to go back to the library this week. Ho hum.

Thanks for your comments on yarn snobbery, Noro and sewing up, its always nice to hear from you. :-)

Crochet wash cloth

I suddenly got the urge to crochet something in one go last night, so ironically sat up until too late making this while watching a tv programme about sleep problems, yawning my head off.

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Isn’t the stitch lovely? I’ve been looking though my Vogue Stitchionary and Harmony Guide to Crochet Stitches to find out its name, but can’t find anything similar. Lack of sleep can affect your cognitive skills so I might well have missed it… Basically it’s 1 dc, 2 tr into a ch, miss 2 ch and repeat to the desired height.

Strictly speaking it needs blocking of course, some of those curly round corners need the spa treatment, but since it’s going to spend half of its life wet it seems pointless.

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I used this pattern by Kara Gunza. Do you recognise the cotton? It’s the ball of Rico aran creative cotton I bought the other week during my visit to Guthrie and Ghani. I’ve never used aran cotton before. Actually I’m not sure I’ve used aran anything before. It was a bit splitty but worth it for having such a soft cotton cloth at the end. I wanted a nice close texture so used a 4mm hook and chained about 32 to begin so it would still be a decent size.

I forgot to report that the last washcloth hasn’t made my face yellow. The Planet Penny cotton is great. If you want a cloth with good scrubability that’s the one.

Now I have a random picture of some garlic a relative’s grown. Isn’t it impressive? It looks just like it does in the shops!

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Waffle knit cloth ~ ready to scrub

As you know I’ve been using the knitty sticks again lately. I finished the cloth early Wednesday evening, as you can probably tell by the golden sun which streamed in through the windows as I took these photos.138

I used more of my Planet Penny Cotton with 4mm circular needles. Mine measures a genteel 6″ by 7″.

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I *think* this was another of my Pinterest finds, but you know how it is – I’ve got a folder of printed patterns, saved patterns and links on three lap tops and on my iphone, plus, more in my Ravelry library. It gets a bit crazy but you save what you see at the time (and then often forget all about it for ages!)

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I really love the texture of this knit. It’s almost too nice for scrubbing dishes so I’m going to try it as a wash cloth. I haven’t used any cotton for ‘wet use’ so am wondering if my face will turn yellow! So far it’s been perfect for owl I and owl II as well as the three string bags you’ve seen lately, but I’ll let you know if I end up looking jaundiced….

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Today I’ve been sitting in the garden, in the lovely sun, trying out a new crochet mouse pattern (see the KAL: A Mile of Mice group on Ravelry for the details) for the Mile of Mice charity fund-raiser. I’ll post a piccy of him tomorrow. This song goes well with summer outdoor crochet – I’ve been listening to a double album of theirs –

Hope you’re enjoying the sun – or snuggled warmly if it’s winter your side of the world.

String Bag III

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This time I used Wendy Supreme cotton since I wanted to make a single colour bag. I chose it because of the competitive price to be honest, compared with other cottons in the shop it was very cheap. I like the DK thickness, the cottony soft feel and love this poppy red shade (1949.) It’s actually darker than it looks in the photos, it’s sunny and a lovely warm 26 deg here today. Ya hoo!

The bag pattern’s from Granny Chic by Tif Fussell and Rachelle Blondel (I’d say to borrow or look for a cheap secondhand copy, don’t pay full price….) and I adapted it slightly. Instead of 4 dcs into chain spaces I made 5 dcs and crocheted an extra round so I didn’t cut and reattach the cotton for the second set of handles. I reckon they’ll stand more of a chance of not loosening/falling off if I don’t have dodgy darns and joins. We’ll see! I repeated the main pattern for 32 rounds and it’s looks like a decent length, but no danger of dragging along the ground when full. Unless I’m carrying rocks. I must remember not to carry rocks.

Hope you are also having  a lovely weekend. What are you up to?

::: I meant to say that after all these string bags I now feel confident that I could make a fishing net someday!

Provence Summer String bag

While browsing through a collection of string bag photos on Pinterest I noticed one that kept turning up. The pattern’s by Kathy North and is available free from Ravelry, it’s called the Provence Summer String bag.

So, that’s how String Bag no. II came about. It’s easy and fast to crochet in trebles and double trebles. Again I used more of my Planet Penny cotton with a 4mm hook.

Yesterday I pinned and then steam blocked it to gently pull it into shape.

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After a visit to the library, and a really nice book find, I’ve seen another string bag pattern which I’m going to try. I hadn’t planned to crochet another so soon but they say good things always come in threes, don’t they?

To the person who Googled and somehow found this blog using the rather sad search phrase: “feeling so fed up and worried will doing knitting and crochet help me….” the answer is YES! I really hope you feel happier soon.

Slightly fuzzy photos of many treasures

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Snapped with my iphone which never takes great photos when the light levels are low; but I really like the colour combination of this crocheted blanket.

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I remember reading the same edition of Heidi when I was little, it was given to me by a relative who had kept her copy from when she was a young girl.

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There are crocheted, knitted and embroidered items dotted around, you never know what you’ll find.

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Treasure trove!
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So delicate and pretty

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And home to start crocheting string bag v.II. I’ve been pinning things for ages but just this week really, finally, understood how useful Pinterest can be after finding an assortment of string bags with links to FREE patterns.

This was my first trip out since getting ill. It was on Thursday and I was more than ready to leave the house, feeling fairly confident that all would be well. It was, apart from getting caught in a rain shower and slowly (quickly) turning into a drowned rat clothed in a jeans and a light Summer top. Then I passed someone I haven’t seen for fifteen years but the moment wasn’t right to call out a hello, with looking half drowned still and standing in pouring rain. Oops!

I was meant to be at Lucy’s Attic 24 open studio day today, but then for various reasons we had to cancel our weekend in Yorkshire. Ever have a few weeks where events you’ve really looked forward to don’t happen, as if on a roll of blah?

I shall cloak myself with optimism, put my happy (ier) face on and set out to find something cheering this morning. If it’s worth sharing I shall report back later. Wish me luck!

What are your plans today? I hope you have a good day.

The mystery item revealed

20130625-065305.jpgI’ve fancied making a string bag for a long time for some reason, I’m not entirely sure why as I’ve never owned one. I noticed Bill’s were selling brightly coloured ones as I brunched with a friend a few weeks ago, and it kind of reassured me that they’re not seen as grannyish now, but rather green and eco-friendly.

20130625-065325.jpgThe pattern is from Simple Crochet by Erika Knight, though I adapted it slightly to increase the number of rounds before the decreasing began. Mine is crocheted in mercerised cotton bought from Planet Penny, using a 4mm hook. Erika Knight’s bag is made from polypropylene string, but she recommends trying all kinds of materials including leather thonging, cottons, linen knitting or crochet yarns and natural string.

20130625-065341.jpgI have to say that this is a pattern where I didn’t notice any mistakes at all – it was really refreshing! This is going to stay our new bag-bag.  I might try another pattern I have and maybe make one for my brunch friend.
Well done Athlyn for guessing correctly!

Safron’s flowers

My friend Safron’s favourite colour is green, and when I offered to crochet her something she asked for flowers in different shades of green that she could play with; to make into brooches etc.

I turned to my crochet magazine archive for pattern inspiration, and also made up another few simple flowers…

I’m looking forward to seeing what Safron makes with her flowers.

(Did you spot the one that looks like a cauliflower?!)

In other news: Guess what?

Prachi’s bag has arrived and she was delighted with it!

“Let me start with a big big HUG and THANK YOU for the lovely, lovely bag you made for me…it’s so beautiful, and already the envy of my colleagues! My apologies that you had to wait for so long and get worried about it not turning up…I guess it did take a while to reach, but due to some last-moment work plans I too have been out of the area for about 10 days now……Been very swamped with work lately, so this present has not only made my day but my week and month! It’ll hold my everyday items nicely and will be ideal for walks around town…love that I can knot up the strap and adjust it according to my need, very funky touch that is…and the colours are gorgeous…Rachel, you’re one talented lady, and prompt and super-thoughtful on top of that :) :) :).”

*Blush*

SOoOo glad it finally got to Prachi and most importantly that she liked it. :-D

Prachi’s bag

Backdated crochet post for good reason, it was a surprise for Prachi:

In the first week of July, or so, I made this little crocheted bag using Planet Penny cotton because I have a contact, Prachi, who is a trainee lawyer. She had recently moved to a remote, tribal district in Gujarat, India as part of a new job. The place she moved to lacks basic facilities (apparently running water is a luxury) and it’s very different from the city life to which she is used. Prachi had found a small, cosy place in which to live but was feeling very lonely. She was trying to make her new accommodation a home and really likes handmade items; and so I offered to crochet something of her choice.

After having a look at some of my crochet here she asked for a bag with a few specific requests:

::Could it be ‘holey look’ crochet

::A bag about the size of a kindle would be perfect

::Something she could sling across her on walks

::A bag to carry her wallet, mobile phone and keys (so not too holey then, I thought!)

::A bright stripey bag

I looked around at patterns but none were quite what she described. I decided to make my own design. My first ever off-the-cuff crocheted item. It’s pretty basic and was easy as anything to make in a granny stripe of clusters of trebles (I’ve really come on with this crochet lark I realise, I’ve definitely got the basics now!) but it’s still my work.

Here it is:

I toyed with the idea of lining it, but frankly I’m so unconfident about that kind of sewing that I decided it would be ok without. It’s sturdy and doesn’t have that much ‘give’ being cotton and is a fairly dense material as I used a 3.5 hook, so should be ok and not saggy.

To make the (very pink!) strap I made a lengthy chain, then double crocheted back along the row – very, very fiddly stuff. For strength I crocheted one end of the strap to the bag, then double crocheted all along the strap again until it could be crocheted to the other end.I have some nice buttons in my collection but decided that it might spoil the look of the front and the flap’s heavy enough to stay flapped over. A button can always be added. I’m happy to post a little chain for the loop.

But here’s the thing: I posted this on 9th July. I’ve waited and waited to hear from Prachi and just know she’d be super fast in getting in touch to say she’s received it. There’s maybe still time for it to arrive I guess. I’ll be sooo disappointed if it never turns up in India and am beginning to feel it might not, so have written this blog post so at least Prachi can see her bag, know she was thought of and the promise was promptly kept.

Fingers crossed it arrives please! :-D

Flower pincushion

I decided that I needed a new upstairs (The Little Room!) pin-cushion so made this the other day.

The floating pincushion could carry on doing sterling work downstairs. I’m umm errr darning in the ends of the little pieces I’ve made for my *cough* *cough* 3rd/4th blanket at the moment.

I know…. “Hi, I’m Rachell and I’m addicted to starting multiple projects.”

See why it’s been christened the floating pc now?! (Here’s the original blog post)

The plan for the rainbow granny stripe is to take it, and only it, away on trip #1 soon.

Maybe for trip #2 I might take the alternative granny squares, the rhubarb ripple or the new spring flowers ‘squares,’ or maybe I will have some time off crochet?! Hmmm but bad shopping things may happen if I do the latter. I am remembering this earlier in the year.

 

Sunny Days

I’ve been taking advantage of the beautiful weather we’ve been having lately.

I even had to move into some shade, it became so hot!

And ironically I’ve finished the chunky seashell scarf! I’m sure I’ll need to use it soon enough though…

Details:

Pattern is from Nicki Trench: Cute & Easy Crochet (see books link on sidebar >>>>)

James C. Brett Marble Chunky acrylic yarn

Used 245g (Balls are 200g 341yards/312m each)

9″ wide

67″ long

Made 26 ch (inc turning chn) for 4 seashells width

54 seashells in length

6mm hook

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I’ve also made a few more of these…

Part of me sometimes wonders if crocheted jar covers are a 21st C) version of the 20th C) poodle bottle covers and Barbie doll dress toilet roll holders?! But I have an idea for another one so I’m carrying on crocheting.

I made this with Planet Penny Cotton and am really happy with the colours. It’s my Peach Melba jar cover.

It’s good to see that these little blankets are being put to good use!

Flowers & Seashells

Yesterday I was road-testing the flower key chain pattern for Adrianne of Teeny Weeny Design and trying to get over a streaming cold, so crochet in bed was in order.

Imagine my horror when I realised that the petals were made with a combination of dc (fine) tr (not an issue) htr (quite like them) and dtr (EEEEEK!)

The dreaded dtr and me have a bit of recent history as you might know. I even started a little dtr SOS thread on Ravelry. People there are sooo helpful and knowledgeable. If you want to ask anything crochet or knitting related there’s where you need to head right away.

I watched a very short and simple YouTube video, then got on with trying them again. They are not a problem with cotton! Not an issue at all!

I’m now waiting on the next set of instructions so I can carry on with the leaves and finishing off. I’ve taken my job seriously and emailed some suggestions for the clear translation of English terms etc. It’s been really fun!

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Today I have mastered dtr with chunky yarn too.

:-D :-D :-D

I’ve had a quiet morning sitting in the sun having a second go at The Chunky Seashell Scarf that I tried a week or so ago. The dtr for some reason are not a problem now!  This new found ease must be from yesterday’s petal practice. Perhaps doing them with cotton gave me confidence to try using the more bulky chunky yarn and big 6mm hook?

Want to see? (Sorry, I’m being a bit naff-twee…as if having a crochet blog wasn’t twee enough ;-))

I’m off to The Little Room now, back into the sunshine to practise a few more dtrs -my tension needs to be consistent – while I recoup some more energy for the rest of the week ahead. A friend has given me a couple of Bollywood music cds. Fab crochet-while-chair-dancing about to happen!

Feel free to tell me what you’re working on at the moment, I love a poke around online into others crafty blogs and websites.

Made with cotton!

“At last!” I can hear Penny shouting :-)

You can buy the pattern for this cute little owl here. It requires a little bit of brain power to translate the pattern into UK terms. Also the translation is slightly eccentric at times. BUT I’ve made an owl and this is my first attempt, so it can’t be too tricky!

I enjoyed using the cotton to embroider the beak, it will work very well as thick sewing thread too.

Look at my gifts from Hong Kong! (One Chinese, one Japanese…)

Aren’t the gingerbread men gorgeous?!!!!

But oh my goodness; how do I read the charts?

Obviously I start at number 1….?

Then what do the in and out arrows mean?

The stitches are demonstrated in line drawings (very teeny at the back of the book) but with no English translation. However I do enjoy a challenge and am determined to learn how to read these tricky symbols. I actually have a suspicion they might not be as tricky once you get the hang of them either.

One page has a line of scissor motifs joined together in a line – super fiddly but very cute!

And finally, because it’s my blog and I can!

The pile is slowly growing. I’m doing an alternative granny square when I feel like it doing something small. It does seem to mean that I have to play back sections of DVDs again, because I can’t look up at the screen as much as when rippling or granny striping. I miss visual clues as to what’s happening! Life’s hard isn’t it?! ;-p

Those edges :-D

A PINK parcel!

So exciting to come home to a large PINK PARCEL!

I opened it in a rush and quickly photographed it in the placky bag as I had to be somewhere fast, but here is my new cotton stash! I’ve never bought any yarn in bulk and now look at me, with my yarnalicious rows of DK below and now 13 balls of cotton!

Penny’s blog – Planet Penny – is listed in links somewhere to the right of this page, click if you too would be interested in buying a pack. I obviously can’t vouch for the cotton, yet, but the delivery was super fast! ( I think I only paid for this on Saturday.)

I’ll show some pics of what I create with the super bundle of bright cotton as I go along….

Having a ‘stash’ (this does sound very American to me, but I can’t think what else works so well in one neat word!) does mean that you can try any pattern out there and then, rather than wait to buy a ball of something.

I also am a bit excited about this….

I didn’t even know this magazine existed. The shops I tend to go to for a rummage around amongst their craft magazines don’t stock Mollie Makes. I’m looking forward to a good look at it tonight.

Can you recommend any other crochet / crafty mags?

Crochet doings

Morning!

Here’s what I’m doing at the moment, though I’ve haven’t done much crochet this week as the work I’ve put off for so long has to be done by next Thursday.  I’m going to be working next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday elsewhere so time is lacking. I can see a long weekend of sighing and a lot of Earl Grey being drunk next to a red-hot lap top! It’s my own fault, if we really need to talk blame… *smirk*

Here it is in all it’s-all-wibbly-needs-blocking-badly-‘glory’.

I’ve unravelled the first circle so far, it’s the larger one, and am going to make one of those folded circle birds everyone seems to making at the moment.

The other circle  is new and improved with a smaller 3.5mm hook, and greater attention to detail…those stitches have to be counted and recounted as I go, there’s no getting away from it.

 Lynne said that she goes into the back loop when ss into the 3rd chain at the end of a curcuit and she still has gappy bits, so not to worry. She is the master of knitting and crochet, so I’m not worrying about it.

These aren’t the colours I’d have chosen to put together, but I’m using scraps. The surprising thing is I’ve had many compliments on the colour combination! It’s made me like them more. I know. I’m a sucker for flattery…

This is what I call (I know; I sound like Miranda’s Mum!) The Hilton crochet. I stayed in the one in Nottingham last November without taking any crochet. I madly thought it would be good to have a break for a few days. My fingers started itching in an alarming way, so much so that there seemed only one thing to do – I had to go to the John Lewis, conveniently located next door to the hotel, and buy a hook and some cotton.

Experimenting with a different middle. I prefer this to the usual GS cross.

Those pesky ends!!! …Actually it’s not popular to say this but I don’t mind the darning at all. It makes a change and doesn’t take long at all.

Rowan HK cotton. It’s my first go with it. I like it but I’m not sure it works for clothing or a blanket, not for me anyway. Plus it’s mahoosively ££££££ for the 50g you get. They offer a nice range of colours though, I can imagine using it for decorative bits and pieces.

This is probably going to be a bag, only 25 more squares to go I reckon. Don’t hold your breath for a big reveal soon. It’s not going to happen too quickly!!!

My Boden catalogue arrived today. A littleish word caught my eye…..

It’s everywhere, isn’t it?

Fab.

Back to the grindstone. Have a good weekend!

Rachel

A present

I knitted my friend a dishcloth last year and since it died, after constant use, I haven’t heard the last of her wanting another. So, this time when I got my special delivery of cotton from Lincolnshire I crocheted her one…

It only took me an hour or so. I must be getting a lot faster at the hooky stuff.

A foundation row of chains, a row of doubles and then trebles all the way.

I’ve never seen anyone look so excited, and this was after all the joy of Christmas and present opening. Maybe I could start a business selling hand-made dish-cloths?!