Trying to be patient

It’s now week four of no crafting. I feel so frustrated at not being able to sit quietly to focus on making something for a few minutes. I didn’t realise how often I do that when I’m at a loose end, or when I feel I need a spot of calming or relaxed activity. I’m also missing my social crafting time, as it’s pointless really to go to a knit group and just sit. It’s genuinely surprised me how truly unproductive I feel too. I’ve crocheted (knit, sewed and generally fiddled around with new crafts) for years now. It’s a habit that’s been hard to consciously break. It’s only one aspect of life I know, and hardly a life or death situation, but as regular crocheters or knitters know it’s an important part of day to day life, for all sorts of reasons. The other thing is that after losing my mojo a little, I was suddenly raring to make all the things.

I did try this bit yesterday, adding in the grape, and the few stitches you can see was all I’d done when I knew I should stop. I did some more hoping magic might happen and it would be fine. I tried holding the yarn at another angle and very loosely, but it didn’t make any difference. It occurred to me to try to work through the discomfort, but bearing in mind someone who did the same and ended up with much more of an issue, I stopped. It’s not worth a permanent injury.

It is all caused by too much knitting, which although I do like, I now term ‘the devil’s work’. Doing crochet in all these years never caused issues particularly. I think I just forgot my own pacing strategy, where I usually don’t overdo knitting and I stop, or change to another type of project. I got carried away with the sock, then picked up my chunky lace knitting and it was too much for my yarn hand.

Anyway, I have an appointment with a GP on Wednesday and I’ll put arrangements in place for some private physio appointments. I hope I can return to crochet soon.

Wish me luck for a complete recovery please. Or send me ideas for alternative yarn holds …..between my toes? Over my shoulder and wrapped around my neck? Train a cat or dog to help?!

Ah well, back to my excellent book. Reading is good too.

How are you doing? All is well in your world I hope?

Joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along (although it’s more reading and no yarning for me this time.)

Taking Stock – February

Making : Slow Cooked Beef Brisket, recipe here except I added lashings of balsamic vinegar too. Cooked for 8 hours on medium, then sliced the beef and gently reheated it in the sauce, in a heavy based pan on the hob, the next day. I think slow cooked food is always better eaten the day after, to meld the flavours. I thickened the sauce with a tbsp of cornflour mixed into a little cold water. Delicious.

Cooking : the above to eat with potatoes, petit pois and kale

Drinking : lots of jasmine tea this morning, 2 x 1 pint mugs

Reading: I’ve just given up on the rather tedious The Old Curiosity Shop by Dickens. To be honest I had a sneaking suspicion I was going to do an Oscar Wilde. He reportedly said: ‘One would have to have a heart of stone to read the death of little Nell without dissolving into tears…of laughter.’

Wanting: to spend my Christmas gift cards, but still haven’t found anything apart from new socks at Fatface. These,these which I’m wearing now and this delicious pair

Looking: at these Dr Who props in the BBC lobby on Saturday. My friend and I walked past and went to peep in the windows. A security guard invited us to come in to look. We watched the last few minutes of the Winter Olympics curling on one of the huge screens. (We lost to Japan.)

Playing: my friend’s Adventure Bus Game on foot, my nifty adaption. You set off walking in a random direction, with no destination in mind and take turns to choose left, right or straight ahead at the next junction. We ended up in the BBC, then Regents Park. After 5 miles we went for a late lunch here.

Deciding: to go to the library for new books soon

Wishing: to meet the UK winner of Friday’s £78 million euro millions win. What did they decide to do first? I had a message when I was walking down Baker Street, London on Saturday morning – “Did you see this news article? (‘Massive Jackpot Split between one UK and one Spanish winner, £78 mil each’) Is it you?! Have you checked?”

Enjoying: lots of winter warmers featuring tasty sauces – lamb hot pot and that beef brisket last weekRegents Park croci

Waiting: for dried mealworms to arrive by post, the Blue Tits can’t get enough of them. The robin doesn’t use the stick on balcony window feeder here, but they do. You look up and see a little blue and yellow thing looking at you!

Liking: the bright blue skies and sunshine, although it’s very very cold. Currently we have wind blowing from Siberia, so on Saturday it was 5 degrees but with the wind chill factor felt like 1. Brrrrr. Also, really liked seeing the first blossom in Regents Park

Wondering: if the media are making a huge unnecessary OTT fuss about the ‘dire weather’ coming this week and next. My friend G just Whatsapped to say the news site is advising people to be home by 6pm tonight in her area. Woah!

Loving: my new slow start yeast, the bread is light and rises like a rocket

Pondering: which colours for the next strip, then realising my tension must have been way tighter so redoing the entire third strip

Considering: whether to sew or crochet the strips together, crochet usually wins hands down

Buying: lamb mince to make koftas

Watching: Grace and Frankie

Marvelling: at the ages of the four main characters, it’s excellent to see seniors leading a successful series

Hoping: I’m still as fit and able at Jane Fonda’s age

Cringing: at my renewed nail biting

Needing: a new book

Questioning: if any of you have read Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty? Good? Might have asked this before…

Smelling: Dry Roast Peanuts

Wearing: a head of Crystal Tipps (and Alastair) hair

Following: the dire water situation in Cape Town

Noticing: how dry my skin is in this weather Icicles on the water features at Waterperry Gardens shop

Knowing: there was no way Muller Light yoghurt can replicate raspberry doughnut flavour. Indeed, it’s horrid

Thinking: Ruby Wax’s analogy about thoughts being like leaves swirling past, along a pavement is very apt

Admiring: people’s openness in discussing tricky topics on IG and the respectful, often very supportive comments in reply

A rather deliciously wicked meeting place: Lola’s in Selfridge’s, Oxford Street London

Sorting: out which snowdrop pics to keep, so many taken at Waterperry Gardens yesterday

Getting: down to gently look at the insides of snowdrops. This is something I’ve copied from my Mum, it’s often surprising how much colour is inside these little white flowers

So many varieties: singles, doubles, dwarf, tall, big and plump, fine and delicate. Snowdrops are very special

Bookmarking: new recipes, any meatless recipes you enjoy and can recommend? Variety is good

Coveting: “What am I coveting at the moment?” “Other people’s gin.”

I’m doing Dry Lent once again….

Disliking: The taste of sweeteners

Opening: bird books and many websites, then putting a pic on my Instagram account to ask for help to identify a bird – the consensus was that it’s a female chaffinch

Giggling: at Barty apparently not deserving his new catnip toys. Sunday morning Mum was in her sitting room and noticed a sparrow walking across the carpet in front of the window!

Feeling: thirsty, I always seem to write that when TS

Snacking: on radishes

Helping: motivate a friend, but not taking my own advice

Hearing: an aeroplane

Mixing: tonic water with ice and lime, pretending it’s as good as a G&T

Worrying: well, there’s always something

Slicing: onions for virtually every recipe this time of year

Catkins and beautiful twisty trees at Waterperry Gardens

Celebrating: the busy garden birdlife, since I’ve been typing I’ve seen: a Robin, multiple Blue Tits, a Coal Tit, a couple of Great Tits, a male Blackbird and the female Chaffinch is back

Forgetting: what I need to add to the shopping list

Winning: at life? Urgh, smug expression

Pretending: nothing

Sneaking: extra oddments of nibbed hazelnuts, flaked almonds and walnut pieces into the museli. It’s getting close to being an end of packet dust situation!

Embracing: brighter and longer days, it’s light at 520pm still

For the full list to fill in your own Taking Stock post visit Pip. It’s fun to do.

Rhubarb Ripple re-edged 

  

  

   
   
So that’s one of my 16 for 2016 done. It looks sooooo much better than it did. This is one of the blankets I made (all details here) when I was still newish to crochet in 2012. I’d fudged the edging, such as it was, and knew it too. These half treble, double and double crochet spike stitch rows really finish it a treat. I decided on the same Attic 24 inspired border as I crocheted for my Zesty Raspberry Ripple blanket. It’s pretty but not too elaborate.

It’s a good feeling doing a proper job! Now on to those annoying baby hexagons…

Yarn Along

  The light is fading fast this afternoon, so I’ve lit the candles and made mugs of hot chocolate. I spent the morning cooking and cleaning as we have guests for dinner tonight, it’s very nice to sit down and relax now. I shall crochet a little more of my blanket. See last week’s Yarn Along post if you’re curious about why I’m only showing you the ends for now.

Last night I read ‘Lost Hearts’ in this M.R James ghost stories collection before sleep. As usual I felt quite spooked out. I’m going to read another tonight and anticipate feeling pretty scared, the sweetener is that at least it’s while snuggled down warm in bed. I’ve learnt it’s best to go to the loo before reading, so I don’t have to run there afterwards dodging shadows! 

If you fancy reading some very old ghost stories (late 1800s, early 1900s)  M.R James anthologies are free on Kindle. At least they are here in England. 

I’m joining in with Ginny‘s Yarn Along again.

Yarn Along 


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

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

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

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

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

Spice of Life CAL blanket finished!

   

    Two finished items in a week feels good! One more to go…

I sat and crocheted the rest of the border yesterday, darned the two ends (hurrah for a single colour border!) and did a happy dance. It’s a simple little border which I think is perfect for such a busy blanket. 

It’s not completely ruler straight, but actually the sides are not half as wiggly as I feared; the border really seems to sort it out. I expected a serious blocking session, but there’s really no need.

I’ve just realised I didn’t post my Stylecraft Special Dk colour choices for part 5, so I’ll do that now and for my repeats as I choose to make a larger blanket. Here are the pattern posts by Sandra of Cherry Heart blog in case you now fancy crocheting a Spice of Life blanket too.

Part 5 – repeating some rows

Stacked Grannies: stone, clematis, raspberry, silver

Trebles: Storm blue

Big Zipper: parchment, denim 

Trebles: Parma violet

Stacked Shells: grape, grey x2, sage x2, lavender x2, stone, silver

Fill the Gap: clematis, grey,raspberry,silver,denim,sage x2

Tulips: (I accidentally missed row 1- trebles) grape, stone, parma violet

Trebles: parchment

Waves: storm blue, raspberry

Trebles: grey

Puffs: silver, lavender, clematis, stone

Trebles: (remember no row 8 for repeats in pattern) grape, denim x2

Grannies: sage, silver and repeat

Trebles: lavender, stone, raspberry, grey, storm blue

My choice of repeats

Stacked Grannies: silver, grape and repeat 

Trebles: Parma violet x2

Big Zipper: clematis x2, parchment x2

Trebles: grape x2

Border: (design as written in the pattern) silver 

~~~~

Yarn: One of each of Stylecraft Special DK: parchment, clematis, grey, denim, silver (2 as it’s also for the border), lime, storm blue, stone, grape, sage, parma violet, lavender, raspberry 

Hook sizes: I swapped to 4.5 mm for stacked shells and the DC rows. You’ll have to experiment and see how your tension is coming out for the tighter stitches. I always used a 4mm for treble rows. For the border set up row I used a 3mm as I just found it easier to use when crocheting into the middle of the stitches. I aimed to pick up 2 strands on my hook, leaving 1 behind. It looks fair less gappy than crocheting over the end stitch, though it is a fiddle.

Starting chain: 217 (a multiple of 12 + 1) I aimed for a square 4’x4′ blanket for snuggling in on cold evenings.

Size: 4′ X 4′ before border. Border is approx an inch.

Weight: 850g approx

~~~~

 And now onwards with another blanket which is half finished. It was requested by my cousin for Christmas. That’s one never-seen-here-before colour combination, just you wait…

Yarn Along 

IMG_1907

IMG_1904I was pretty pleased with myself for finally finishing darning all those ends yesterday!

The colours look pretty muted here, but it was a moment of celebration so I broke my ‘always take photos in natural light’ rule. The sides don’t look as wiggly as I expected. It’s not going to be perfect as I swapped about from a 4mm to 4.5mm hook, but as it’s just for me to snuggle in over the winter it’s all good.

I’ve just started listening to Chrissie Hynde’s memoir, read by Rosanna Arquette. I love her descriptions of growing up in Akron, Ohio. It’s going to be a cracking listen, I can tell.

I’m joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along again. Here are my previous Yarn Along posts. I actually thought my last was fairly recent, but look how long ago it was! I’m pretty staggered. One thought I wrote about blogging makes me smirk. That feeling obviously didn’t stick around for long.

 

Now – an Autumn snapshot 

        
    
    
   
 One of my nearest and dearest gave me a little verbal prod the other day saying: “I’ve had a look at your blog, but there’s been nothing for a while has there?” Noted and now rectified!

I’ve been carrying on crocheting my Spice of Life blanket (not far off the darning and border now) or knitting a few rows of my Hitchhiker scarf most days. I don’t think continually showing the same projects, just a few centimetres further on, would be interesting. Which is why I haven’t been around here much recently. There IS another project I’ve been working on too, but that’s hush hush as it’s a present. You’ll see it one day….

I really love Autumn: the crisp cool days, walking along kicking up piles of crunchy leaves, the beautiful colours of leaves and berries, the sunsets bringing brightness to often grey skies, soups and stews, casseroles and countless pots of tea. Do you love it too?

Spice of Life CAL part 4

   
    
 
This was my favourite week so far, in terms of the pattern, but I might have said that last week? If I did then it’s no bad thing; as it obviously means my enjoyment is increasing, not waning!

My colours:

Fill the gap: parchment, storm blue (love it!) denim, grape

Trebles: grey, silver 

Tulips: sage x2, clematis, stone

Trebles: raspberry x2

Waves: Parma violet, lavender, grey

Puffs: Storm blue, grape, denim, sage

Trebles: silver, grape x2, parchment  

There have been so many ‘I’m really glad the puffs are done’ and ‘I hated the puffs’ comments on the Facebook group page that even I was feeling a bit apprehensive about them. And I don’t usually get in a state about crochet. I haven’t done any puff stitches for ages, but actually they’re fine! As with lots of the stitches I thought might need to be looser, I used my 4.5mm hook. I ended up quite enjoying them, but have to say that they are definitely yarn eaters. 

I’m tempted to crop the second photo so you can’t see the ends that crept into the frame, but I’ll fess up here and now that I haven’t darned a single one yet. My excuse reason is that I’ll probably need to steam block again, when the blanket’s finished, and  don’t want my neatly darned threads popping out when it’s pinned out.

Phew now that’s off my chest I shall sleep easier. Ha! 

12 Pointed Star Ripple Blanket…finished!

IMG_1261 IMG_1262This blanket was such a pleasure to make, as it’s so different from anything I’ve made before. I have to admit to frequently putting it down; just to look at it to see the pattern emerging. The free pattern by Celeste Young is available here on Ravelry and although it’s designed to be made with aran yarn, I decided to try using DK. It’s come out a good size and would be a snuggly lap blanket for an adult, as well as a baby blanket (which is what it’s designed to be, of course.) I guess you could keep adding extra rounds and see how a larger size would look too.

The Stylecraft Special DK colours I’ve used are:

Lime, Parchment, Petrol, Grey and Claret

The blanket measures nearly 30″ in diameter from point to point and weighs only 238g. So, if you wanted to make a two colour version it would only use 2 balls of Stylecraft Special DK, as they weigh 200g each! I would probably prefer a more colourful version, but the option’s there. If you have lots of small leftover balls you could also make a really stripy version too. The colour combination is your oyster….

After crocheting now for 4 years I’ve really reached a saturation point where friends and family all have lots of my crochet makes, plus I’ve got as many blankets as I can use, and so I’ve decided to begin selling some makes to spread my yarny goodies a bit further afield. I’ve finally set up an Etsy Little Room of Rachell shop, after much dithering about various ways to perhaps sell items I make. (Dithering seems to get worse the older I get, is this only me?) and I’ve listed this blanket as my first item. I’m going to make a pinker version to list next. Due to a limit on characters I had to drop the The, but I think that’s ok in the scheme of things!

William Morris inspired motif blanket …..Finished!

   



If you hadn’t already guessed; the blanket is for my Mother and the William Morris design curtains are hers. She wanted a new blanket for the end of her bed to keep her feet warm and to snuggle up in during Winter. This will replace one that was made by my great grandmother for her many years ago, when I was just a twinkle in the sky. So, the pressure to get this blanket right and as lovely as I could make it, was high. I did wrap it in Christmas paper, singing falalalala, la la la LA! and it was received with pleasure.

 I was hoping to take some washing line pics, but post-blocking the weather was rather grim. These are not the best photos of a finished item at all; due to the poor light levels. And I realised afterwards that I’d plonked it on the bed rather quickly and didn’t smooth it out, oops sorry! Still, you do get the idea of its size and look…

I wonder if anyone will be inspired to use these Autumnal, rather retro colours? They weren’t my thing at all at first, but they really grew on me. It’s sometimes good to do something completely different. I’d given Mum my Stylecraft Special DK shade card and she chose the colours, while comparing them to the curtains. They look really good together, she chose well.

Yarn: Stylecraft Special DK

  1. Silver
  2. Grey
  3. Walnut
  4. Copper
  5. Spice
  6. Mocha
  7. Matador
  8. Parchment
  9. Cream
  10. Camel
  11. Apricot

Hook: 4mm for the motifs and JAYGO rounds

3.5mm for the border

Length: 5′ 7″ / 67″

Width: 3′ 5″ / 41″

Weight: 1,422kg

Motif: my own design as follows…

UK terms

FR: Ch6, ss to join into circle

R1: Ch4 (Counts as1 tr and ch 1) *Tr into circle, ch 1 repeat from * 10 more times, join with ss to 3rd ch of ch , ss into next ch sp (12 tr)

R2: Ch3, tr2tog in same space, ch3 *tr3tog in next ch sp, ch3, repeat from * 10 more times, join with ss to top of ch3, ss in next ch3 sp

R3: Ch3, tr2tog,ch2, *tr3tog repeat twice from * to corner then tr3tog, ch3, tr3tog and so on around motif, ss to ch3

R4: As for R3 repeat from * three times to corner then tr3tog, ch3, tr3tog and so on around motif, ss to ch3

R5: Now a more traditional granny square round without clusters: Ch3, tr2, ch2, *tr 3, ch2, tr 3 repeat from * to corner then tr3, ch2, tr3 (I found that ch2 in the corners of this round worked best, but you might find continuing with ch3 works best in yours.)

R6: JAYGO using a ch1, ss, ch 1 in the corners, along the sides ss, ch 1 then tr3  and so on (see this tutorial by Lucy of Attic 24 for help if you need it.)

Please let me if these instructions make no sense, or if you notice an error, it happens!

IMG_6310
Border: When doing the first row of the pre-border edging you’ll find where you’ve JAYGOed two motifs together you have a lot of stitches along the edge each time when you come to where the corners of the motifs are joined (see photo above.) This is the solution that was passed on to me by Rachel, aka Mrs Pip: treble one stitch on the left hand side of the join, then treble two together – with a treble placed on each side of the JAYGO join – then make a final treble. This leaves only 3 stitches for the next round, but is wide enough to straddle the seam without being too tight. I enjoyed this round, it felt both interestingly different to crochet and pretty ingenious!

I did the final pre-border round in parchment, with a dc into each tr of the previous round and 3 in the centre stitch of each corner.

 Showing the back of the border

Border: #107 from Around the Corner Crochet Borders by Edie Eckman. It’s lovely and I really like the 3D effect that rounds 2 and 4 give from making dcs into the front loop only. It’s a thick border which goes particularly well with this heavy blanket.

I steam blocked the entire finished blanket, lying it on my foam mats on top of beach towels, blocking two thirds then the last third. Wear SHOES if you do the same, do not block scald your feet!

And now I’m crocheting a very small thing…

I’m singing, loudly

🎶 “The hills are alive with the possibilities of crochet!” 🎶

  I’ll write up all the yarn colours, my motif design and everything you might want to know, plus photos, next week. I plan to block it on Monday, and hand it over wrapped in Christmas paper soon after…

Just after I blogged the other day I had an email that felt spooky in its timing, it’s dead exciting and absolutely perfect. That’s all I’m saying, for now! 

Baby hexagon a day blanket

I’m ahead of my hexie a day plan but they’re so cute and easy to make!

I’ve changed the pattern I’m using because I think the shape is better and it looks much more like a hexagon! I found this pattern posted by @cuteashook on IG. It’s in graphic form so if you prefer charts go there, or to my page. I’m not sure who to attribute it to, if you know please let me know.

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Do you want to join in with crocheting a baby hexagon a day too?

Baby hexagon pattern

UK terms

All trebles in R1 are worked into the FR, then on R2 into the chain space of R1.

FR: ch 4, join with a SS to make a ring

R1: ch 3 (counts as a treble) tr 1, ch 1, *tr 2, ch 1* repeat 4 more times, SS to 3rd ch of beg ch3 (6 groups of 2 trebles) ss to 3rd st of beg ch.

R2: ss a couple of times to next ch sp from last round, ch 3 (counts as a treble) tr1, ch1, tr2 *tr2, ch1, tr2* repeat 4 more times. (6 tr ch groups.)

You’ll know you’re at the end because you’ll have a baby hexagon. If not a) start again b) let me know that there’s a mistake here!

Darn in the ends.

I’m joining as I go on the second round, replacing the chain in the middle of the trebles with a joining slip stitch. I have two joins per side. You might want to join three times along each side, its up to you. I tried it both ways.

I’m going to use whatever DK yarn I’m using for other projects through the year and so it will turn into a kind of memory blanket. You can use finer or chunkier yarn as long as you stick to the same weight all year. I guess if you were feeling very keen you could make 3 hexagons a day in 3 different weight yarns, a blanket to keep and a few to give away for Christmas?

My eggs need to go into the pan now – I hear the water boiling. I have a yen for an egg and watercress sandwich for lunch.

Are you joining the baby hexie a day gang?