Springtime, feels like summer

I asked for a new fridge sentence to replace my post road-trip one, which was boringly ‘Over a thousand miles later home’. I know it wasn’t exciting but it was current. Oh, but I’ve really truly been trounced now. It’s poetry which describes the view from the window. What’s my next move going to be?

I finished my Edenvale cowl last week. I know it will look better as the lace work will open out and show it off when it’s blocked. I’ll show you afterwards. I did fewer repeats than specified in the pattern, so I could stop at one skein of WYS Shetland Tweed. Hurray for John Lewis refunds on wool. That’s a cowl which is plenty long enough and I get £8.50 back in my account. I did try it on, in its as yet unblocked state and had comments along the lines of ‘You’ve knitted a neck sock!’ As you know I just ignore these and calmly carry on. I do the cooking so caution would be warranted…This week I added to my garter stitch blanket. I like the look of the navy with the lavender a lot. As I did another 6 rows (250 stitches each) I reflected on how much I’m enjoying knitting. It’s as meditative as crochet when easy, good to have two hands in motion, I like the feel and look of the fabric. I’ve also added a few more colour blocks to my patchwork blanket. Also satisfying once I get into a rhythm, but a bit boring to contemplate doing masses of linen stitch which is why this has been very slow in the making. I much prefer the swoop and flow of trebles to doubles.

Ah this week’s weather has been a delight. On saturday it was gorgeously warm at around 21-22 degrees. My friend and I wandered in Regents park, London wearing t-shirts, coats bundled up in bags. We admired the cherry and almond blossom, the lines of tulips and noticed how many people were also enjoying being outdoors. There are some pics on my Instagram. As you’ll see I took something a little unseasonal and different to do while we were there. My friend was knitting, and said an elderly lady with a stick walked by and gave us a broad smile. I guess others were mostly using the pedalos, reading, picnicing or just sunbathing. We probably looked quite incongruous.

This magnolia tree is not far from home. It was a gorgeous surprise on Wednesday to see it in full bloom.

Yesterday it was 25 degrees! This isn’t so much spring as a full-on English summer day. It can all change in a week so we are all poised as a nation. At the first sign of a warm day: we rush out to stock up on salad, charcoal and steaks, we go through our drawers and wardrobes looking for anything vaguely summery to wear, if we’re in a morning-time rush (ahem) we merely shave from our ankles up 6″ so we can wear shorter length trousers and sandals for the day and fill a jug with cucumber/raspberry/lime/lemon water in the fridge. We are prepared.

The next day we inspect our red patches of sunburn because we didn’t apply sun-cream, forgetting that even though it’s England we can still burn. (Ahem.)A host of golden daffodils. They’re probably all dried and crinkly now. I’m glad I saw them looking so lush.

So in the last week and a half I’ve knitted; ‘that’ sock, the garter stitch blanket and finished my lace cowl using chunky needles, crocheted and done the other craft which requires very fine motor skills. And my point? My hands hurt. My arms hurt. My elbows are stiff. The side of my hands are tingling. (I should probably not be typing this, but dictating.) That is a big warning sign isn’t it? I think I might have done too much knitting with the chunky 5mm needles, the lace pattern required lots of different manipulative movements and then there were hours of sock knitting. I’ve been disciplined at only doing one set of repeats max with the cowl, but got carried away one day with the sock. I unravelled and reknitted for far too long. In all these years of crocheting I’ve never experienced this, I’m in a sulk with knitting. Stupid chunky needles, stupid tiny circulars, stupid lace, stupid sock. I think this means a total ban on craft for a month. I’ve put a note that I can try again on 19th May….unless they feel magically better sooner. Sniff.

I’ll blog what I’m reading and bore you with photos of flowers and places I’ve been to, in the meantime. When I’ve blocked the cowl I’ll show it too. It’s the darning that’s holding it up right now, but with this warm weather it’s not in a hurry to be worn.

Without craft what do you do in the evenings, apart from read and stare at the goggle box?!

(JILL don’t be crude!)

Update – crochet

When I saw this photo by Emma of Lulu Loves blog (Hello E! – she reads my wafflings) on Instagram last Thursday I was intrigued: Did Emma crochet this? What is it that she’s making? What yarn is she using? Where’s the pattern, or did Emma design it herself? And so on and so on. I have at least three questions in every ten minute period most days, and Instagram can make my brain go into overdrive sometimes. It feels as if it’s whirling at top speed. Usually I just check the hashtags and make a mental note to check back and see what develops; other days I have to send a message. Emma is a sweetie and so instantly told me all I needed to know. Basically if you search Pinterest for ‘pineapple market bags’ you’ll find patterns she said. So I did, right away. Being a clever cookie I later found out that she made the circle for the base larger and will have a bigger bag. No matter; I don’t need a bag, but I do need to try new crochet.

I foraged in my yarn stash and came up with fairly cheapy craft cotton I bought when I was making dishcloth, and off I went. It’s basically string and so is pretty hard on your hands, but when you’re gripped trying something new, you’re gripped aren’t you?

I was buzzing because I’ve never used such a complicated Japanese symbol pattern before, with no other instructions. I have a Japanese friend in Tokyo so sent her a couple of screenshots to ask what the text said. Not a crocheter, she said ‘it is instructions.’ I left it at that, since my crochet was coming out ok.

It has to be said that I dislike that I cannot credit the designer, or recommend the book from which this pattern came. I always link to pattern sources or credit designers. If you do recognise this image, can you let me know so I can add them in please?

854ec0c6-b9e7-44b5-a02e-25199a88dd26.jpg

The middle looks wooky, doesn’t it? I must try and ease the first chain around to the right a little. I know there are bloggers who have written about ways to avoid the gappy middle and wonky line upwards altogether, where you’ve slip stitched into the third chain. I did Google and found some, but by then had already crocheted many rounds. It’s a ‘must learn’ another time. Since this is the base of a market bag it doesn’t really matter because it won’t show. Even as I type this I feel myself I feel myself resisting the temptation to grit my teeth, as a perfectionist it goes right against the grain, but sometimes it’s best to carry on and not keep unravelling…

Being cheap craft cotton it is a little splitty, but ok for this type of make.

Just one more round to complete the top of the pineapple.

It’s starting to curl upwards as it should, turning into a bag.

But there is a but, or a however with this project. That was all crocheted on Thursday. I was in my element and forgot my usual ‘Do a bit, then stop’ rule. It was 3pm before I realised I still hadn’t eaten lunch and I was ravenous. I did a little more afterwards and then called it a day. Now, really here is the but and the however: I have not picked up a hook or pair of needles since, this string has killed my elbow. Oh. My. Goodness. It is sore. So sore that I dare not aggravate it anymore. Last night I gently massaged it as it’s feeling stiff, but apart from that I’m being very wary. I do not really want to go through the process of acupuncture again. It works like a dream, but I’m hoping I dodge it this time. Last time the physio was in stitches when she asked what had inflamed it, and I replied ‘Kneading bread.’ I really don’t want to have to say ‘Crocheting a string bag.’ Cross your fingers it settles down soon please!

 

Have you ever used a chart with no other instructions? I liked the challenge of it (actually it’s pretty easy once you’re familiar with crochet) and will do more, when my elbow settles down….

Much warmer

Walking with a friend today, it felt almost balmy outside at 8-9 degrees. Lovely! Signs of Spring are back in full force as you’ll see.

There were patches of snow alongside the roadsides, piled up on the verges and the boundaries of fields. There are deep patches despite the heavy rain that fell on Sunday. I had to smile when I parked my car and saw this on the village green:

When walking with my nieces on Sunday we spotted a similar stump in a front garden, but with 2 carrots, 4 buttons and twigs on the ground around it. I wish I’d taken a photo as it was just such a touching scene.

We popped into the pub after our walk and I found out that it was established in 1605. It was a coaching inn where the horses would be rested and fed, the passengers too no doubt. The arch led to the coach yard and stables. It is an age since I’ve been there, it’s nice and cosy inside. Much of this old village is gorgeous with the ironstone dwellings, wrought iron gates and some fantastic walled gardens.

After all that snow and minus temperatures it’s amazing to see the snowdrops again. Aren’t they resilient? I guess the clue is in the name. Can you see the pink and yellow flowers on the right? I think they’re primula.

My friend has heard Johnny Depp has a house here. I wondered if it’s this one? You can buy coach house no. 4 next door if you like?

Frankly I took this is for the Americans! I know thatched cottages are always popular.

B was trying to walk fast, keeping up our brisk pace, get the heart pumping etc and burn some calories (her multiple gins at the weekend were playing on her mind.) Her fitness app voice notifications were kicking in with how many kilometres we had walked, how fast our average pace per km etc but I kept stopping dead to whip out my iPhone. I can’t help it when I see witchy wintery trees with an ancient spire behind. I love the twigs lying on the top of the wall where they’ve fallen off.

As a side note; I’ve just googled ‘how old is ancient?’ It’s far older than this spire, so I’m going to have to repeat myself inanely and say it’s very old. When I say the pub is very old, established in 1605, Someone raises his eyebrows, as his school dates from around 1400. It’s all relative though isn’t it? In Australia I often saw signage about very old houses, only dating from 1970 something!

The pace was slowing again, but I was not guilty. The mud was so thick and squelchy along the footpath we considered turning back, but both quite like circular walks. I had to scrape my walking shoes against a tree trunk, to get the worst of the mud off when we came back into civilisation. They were almost comedy clown sized shoes, encircled with mud.

One final pic for you from today’s walk is something I’m used to seeing around, but maybe you’re not…

It’s a mounting block for horses. Do you see them where you are? Are they as old? (I’m debating retitling this whole post Really Old. It’s been totally over used after all.)

Do you want to see a cutie patooty?

Here is Winnie and her Wave Blanket. Isn’t she beautiful? I love the way she’s got her hand on the top of the milk bottle! She’s five months old now. Her Mum tells me she loves her blanket so much and uses it everyday in her pram, the car and her bouncer chair. Wherever they go people ask where it is from, it’s lovely knitting’ (sigh! / smirk.) It’s attracted a lot of attention.

Springlike temperatures, pretty wild flowers, beautiful old buildings and seeing Winnie using her Wave Blanket, there are some reasons to smile.

What’s making you smile at the mo? If you’re not feeling great, I hope things improve soon. Look after yourself.

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.

Yarn, ships and park life

My hook is still moss stitching away, gradually adding more sections to the third strip of my blanket. I’m not sure about you, but I finding I seem to be inadvertently taking part in a slow crafting movement. This may, or may not exist, but it’s definitely a thing in my house. I honestly goggle at all the ‘It’s finished!’ posts on Instagram some days. I wonder if they’re not telling us that it’s just been a case of darning a few ends, or sewing up a seam, on a pile of long ago started makes? Whatever. I do not feel any compunction at all to compete, but I do enjoy looking at all the makes.

The strip’s a bit further on now, as you’ll see at the end, but I like this photo showing my snuggly Tilted Squares Blanket in use.On Friday afternoon I went to the Members’ Preview Day of the V&A’s new exhibition Ocean Liners: Speed and Style. The picture above shows part of one of the rooms where you’re meant to feel as if you’re on deck. The floor is wooden, there are some examples of chairs and a bell-boy’s uniform (to be a totally immersive experience I would have loved a G&T brought to me while I led on an actual recliner!) The whole of the wall is a projected film of the ocean, moving waves, the sound of sea-gulls and nothing as far as the eye can see; oh apart from a movement on the right. Gradually a steam powered liner comes into view and hey! It’s racing along besides us. There were many oohs and ahhs from people, then the inevitable selfies. It’s fun. Afterwards walking through Hyde Park, back to Oxford Street to meet a friend for dinner, I saw so many lovely snowdrops. They are so delicate and as the RHS state are a very, very welcome assurance that the bright days of spring are on their way. Many crows…And this cheeky pigeon, who only moved at the last moment as I inched closer and closer.What an unexpectedly agricultural scene! There was a huge fairground set up in the park over Christmas, called Winter Wonderland (otherwise known as ‘be aware and hold on to your purse, while gaping at the exorbitant prices’.) So I imagine this is the process of flattening and fertilising the area before it’s re-turfed.An eye-catching memorial for Remembrance Sunday leftover from November, while we were wandering around Witney market on Saturday. I like the mixture of felt and yarn. It looks good still. Often yarn bombing looks bedraggled and dirty quite quickly. Now I’ve only got 3 more teeth left to knit of my Hitchhiker, so hurray! Nearly done (again) and then I can start something else. Recently I’ve decided that having one crochet and one knitted thing on the go is good. I don’t really want any more than that at one time. It’s handy to have a choice, especially for knit night when it’s chatty and I need to concentrate. Something you can do without lots of looking is good too, as it’s not well lit in the pub at this time of year. Have I said all that recently in another post? Sorry if I’m repeating myself.

And in a nutshell, at the moment I’m watching: Feud, a BBC drama series about Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, reading: Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell, listening to: Three Things about Elsie by Joanna Cannon and tonight I’m cooking aubergine biryani.

What about you? What are you watching, reading, listening to and cooking? I’m genuinely nosy interested.

The last seven days

The Winnie the Pooh exhibition at the V&A was lovely. It’s so interesting to see E.H Shepherd’s original pencil drawings. What talent. There were many illustrations that I’d forgotten, but which were instantly recognisable when I saw them again. Winnie was a big part of my childhood. The exhibition is on until April 8th.

We saw the film Darkest Hour last weekend. It’s good. As good as the media hoo-ha and talk of an Oscar for Gary Oldman. It seemed a good time to see the Winston Churchill exhibition at Blenheim Palace, (his birthplace, home of his grandparents.) En route I noticed there are daffodils beginning to appear. It won’t be long before they’re everywhere in bright clumps of yellow. I love them!

I was held up in traffic on Thursday morning and quite glad when I noticed a large patch of snowdrops in a wood, on the hill at the side of the road. I wouldn’t have had the opportunity if the traffic had been better.

The joins make me think of those foam play mats we have for blocking.

I’ve spent a bit of time playing with my yarn leftovers and planning out my next strip of moss stitch (aka linen and granite) blocks. I thought it might be easier than trying to do it in the pub at Knit & Sip, in the semi dark. We ended up not meeting anyway this week, but no matter; it’s quite nice to have a plan. The fewer brain cells used during the evening, the better I find. It’s not my brightest time. Nor is very early in the morning. My optimum time seems to be between 10-3pm! This isn’t new either. I’ve always been the same. Are you at your best in the morning, evening or middle of the day?

A friend made me smile yesterday as she said she’s having a break from going to Slimming club. Her evenings are precious and she’s fed up hearing the same people complain about how hard it is to lose weight, when they don’t eat fruit and veg. I had popped into the garden centre to buy the birds a mealworm feeder and found myself wanting to shout ‘salad dodgers!!!!’ at the top of my voice. I refrained.

I haven’t made cheese scones since at least last summer. Yesterday I made a batch and this was the last three, with what I always call the knobble, made from the last bit of dough. The fact I haven’t made any for ages has been remarked upon lots. I reckon I’m close to being asked to sign a legal document, requiring me to make them at least once a month.

Once, years ago, I made heart shaped cheese scones for Valentines Day. Don’t do this; they look like bottoms.

The Hitchhiker is coming along. I laid it out to compare with mine. I still can’t believe it was finished and now look, so much still to redo! Ah well. There were nine teeth to knit yesterday, now only seven. ‘A tooth a day and it’s done’ I say to myself.

I came downstairs this morning to a surprise bunch of daffodils. Lovely. On Monday I collected David Sedaris Theft by Finding Diaries, vol 1 from the library and it’s a whopper of a hardback. A real brick.

If you haven’t read any of his other writing, I would suggest you start elsewhere. It’s not as funny, but I’m enjoying the insights into his experiences. Some of it’s pretty grim and sad.

What are you up to? Have you had a good week?

Five from this week

I went for a walk with a friend on a spur of the moment thing on Wednesday. We ended up walking over 6 miles in a big circular loop. It was a completely spontaneous thing, just a “hey, do you fancy a walk today?” We arranged to meet in the car park of a gym and I expected a walk around the nearest village. Instead we went off the beaten track, onto a public footpath alongside the edges of fields, turning onto country lanes and meadows of grazing sheep. Through wooded areas of bare wintery trees and the sports ground of a private school. We ended up nipping into a farm shop for a drink, gazing at all the luxury foodstuffs that neither of us need post-Christmas, back up into the village, across the main road and to our cars. All the time we were out, which was nearly 2 hours, we didn’t stop talking. That’s a good afternoon! My trainers are basically two big blobs of mud now. I should scrape them off and put them in the washing machine.

I’ve made some more cardamom gin. The Mermaids gin is nice enough but I fancied flavouring it. I put a small handful of whole cardamom pods into the bottle for 3-4 days (3 would have been plenty, but I forgot about it!) Poured it into a jug, through a tea strainer and threw away the pods, then put it back into the bottle. If they were left in longer than that it would too bitter to drink, I imagine. The flavour is strong, so a single measure (25ml) is plenty with a 125ml can of tonic.

I’ve started a second strip of moss stitch (aka granite stitch, or linen stitch) crochet. This is the easiest thing to take up and add a section to, in fact the most complicated thing about it is making sure the sections are the same length. I didn’t want to stow away the leftover yarn from Winnie’s Wave Blanket, I thought I’d use it up for another little blanket. If you like the stitch see Moogly for a great little tutorial, it’s dead easy. You do need to do a sample to make sure you use the right hook. My square was too thick and unwieldy using my usual 4mm hook; so I swapped to a 4.5mm and produced a softer, more drapey fabric.

I popped in to see Mum with some Butternut & Sweet Potato soup yesterday. I’d made a huge pan-full, but as I’m the only one who eats BNS or SP I thought it would be good to share, or I’d never want to eat it again after litres of the stuff. Barty was savaging a ball he was given for Christmas. He is funny; as I’ve said I don’t think he was given balls to play with when he was a kitten, so he doesn’t play ping pong like other cats we’ve had. I’ve tried to model batting it back and forth with my paws hands, and yesterday he sort of did it! Hurray, Rachel the cat whisperer!

I just started reading Follow you Home all snuggled up warm and cosy in bed this morning. According to my Kindle I’ve already read a fifth of it. It’s a quick read but also I’m a scaredy cat; so want to get to the frightening bits fast. This is a psychological thriller which features a train, a dark forest and rather odd, staring uncommunicative strangers. Dot dot dot!

What are you reading and making? Have you done anything spontaneous, which turned out to be one of the best parts of your week?

Have a good weekend all.

I’m linking with Ginny’s revived (now monthly) Yarn Along.

Taking Stock – January

Making : 2 loaves of beige bread (50/50 wholemeal and white flour)

Cooking : pork and fennel meatballs for dinner

Drinking : water

Reading: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, it’s fantastic! The lights on the bridge have just blown out in the storm. I love reading about 17th century London. It’s also very funny in places

Stowe, Buckingham (National Trust) on New Years Day

Wanting: a G&T, it is Friday

Looking: at my Christmas tree, it’s twelfth night so will be gone tomorrow

Playing: the radio, it’s music from the movies at the mo

Deciding: if I really do want or need to do Dry January. After all Dry October went on until December 24th!

Wishing: for a big Euro millions lottery win tonight

Enjoying: the tunes from Beverley Hills Cop, Top Gun, Pulp Fiction, Dirty Dancing

Waiting: for my bread timer to chime

Liking: the lights sparkling still, on these grey, cold and windy days

Wondering: when the shops will clear away the sale rails

Loving: crocheting again

Pondering: how to join my strips of crochet

Considering: a new to me technique like a flat braid

Buying: a new bag in the sale at The National Trust shop, reduced from £20 to £12

Watching: Russell Howard: Recalibrate on Netflix, it’s laugh out loud funny, but tears too when he talks about his family

Hoping: to see lots more stand-up comedy

Needing: something to eat; rumbling tummy

Questioning: why my wrist is still sore, I think it’s due to knitting #boo

Smelling: my new Loccitane rose perfume

Wearing: my new Seasalt floral socks (perfume & socks are Christmas presents)

Noticing: how cold the wind chill factor is today

Knowing: the days are slowly getting lighter

Thinking: about watching the last episode of The Miniaturist

Admiring: my floral feet (when I wore my yellows on Wednesday, Mum said they were very gay! Nice use of an archaic term)

Sorting: Christmas decs tomorrow and putting them back in the loft

Getting: a shopping list together, it’s all cling film and anti-bac soap type of boring

Paper roses made from old books at Stowe

Bookmarking: new recipes

Coveting: nothing, well apart from a big lottery win

Disliking: that rubber glove smell when they need replacing, yucky!

Opening: the last day’s listings in the festive Radio Times

Giggling: at Still Game (a BBC series, on Netflix) aka “The Scots gits” in my house

Feeling: hungry!!!!!

Snacking: on fruit or a raw carrot, soon

Helping: to take Barty to the vet today

Hearing: Someone wailing/singing along to Don’t Leave Me This Way by The Communards

Mixing: 500g of lean pork mince, 1 egg, zest of a lemon and 1 tbsp fennel seeds for meatballs, served in a tomato & pepper sauce

Worrying: about nothing much, as thankfully my mind is clear today

Slicing: onions and peppers shortly

Celebrating: the last eve of the festive season

Forgetting: who knows? I’ve forgotten!

Winning: tonight’s jackpot

Sneaking: an iced gingerbread I discovered in a tin today (this is a late Christmas win!)

Embracing: a very chilled cat who seemed totally unruffled today

There are no affiliate links here, I’d always say if there were. I just assume other people are as nosy as me and want to see!

I’ve used Pip’s Taking Stock list, if you do a TS post too will you link to yours in the comments below? I like reading them.

2017

This year’s makes were mainly small gifts and blankets. Every year I say that I’ll put blanket making on the back burner and concentrate on other things; but I’ve realised that’s not working at all. I simply enjoy making blankets, even more so when they keep popping up on friends’ Facebook feeds or when I visit family. Nothing beats seeing a blanket den or a blanket on the head picture, a snuggly sofa covering, at the end of a bed or a glimpse of one on a pram.

A mix of longer term and quick projects are so satisfying. So whatever 2018 brings will be fine, there’ll be no rules or resolutions this coming year, apart from one. (Can you guess?)

I have three things on the go right now: The garter stitch blanket which was planned for pub knitting at Knit Group and is definitely a longer term make. My first ever sock paused after the heel, but I’m definitely going to end next year with a pair of socks to show you. I hereby solemnly swear that you will see two handmade socks in my 2018 montage, unless death or imprisonment stop me. (Even then I imagine that in an open prison I might be able to do some craft therapy or activity, so socks could still happen. There’s no excuse really. Unless they make me give them away as part of my rehabilitation? I really don’t know how these things go. Now I’m wondering if any of you know?*) As for the lovely blue Hitchhiker which was Mum’s Christmas present, and finished in plenty of time** that now might be an Easter gift. Let’s not talk about that malarkey just yet, I can’t face it.

I’m not turning into a mad cat blogger, but I’m just so glad that the little kitten who slept in Mum’s garden, when he needed respite from the two young boys of his house next door, or in a chair in her kitchen when it rained, came to be adopted by her in the summer. His family ended up returning to their home country, a long, long way away and the cost of taking him was prohibitive. They told Mum she was the obvious person to take him. But I know he’s been missed because one of them called on Boxing Day to wish Mum a Happy Christmas, and asked how he is doing! So, there you have the full story of the little black cat with the powder puff tail. I’m taking him to the vet on 5th January for his booster jab. I hope he still likes me afterwards!***

Today it’s my blog’s SIXTH BIRTHDAY! Wooo! Where did the time go? Here’s my first post. So many metres of yarn and blankets later. Initially I planned this as an online diary while I carried on learning to crochet, without a plan in mind. Of course I wouldn’t have carried on without readers, so a big warm THANK YOU to you all for reading, for the comments, emails and messages. Welcome to all my new readers too, it’s great to have you along.

Have a lovely New Year’s Eve and Happy 2018.

* I’m not tempting fate am I? Now I’ve worried myself. Whatever happens please believe I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and I’m innocent Governor
**Well sort of – 24th December, apart from the ends
*** Not a mad cat blogger at all, apart from a longish paragraph about him on my end of year post….

Twixmas

I really like the week between Christmas and New Year. If approached properly it has a mixture of planned and unplanned days. You need activity and people, but also days where you can lounge around reading, crafting, eating chocolates and nibbles and catching up on Christmas films and tv. This year we’ve got it just right.

Just before Sewing Club ended for the year another sewer told me she couldn’t see the point of wasting time and energy on making bottle bags; as they wouldn’t be appreciated for the amount of effort that goes into making them. Well, happily I’m glad to report that definitely wasn’t the case. I gave them to members of my family who sew and who totally got the point. They made my (Christmas) day by saying how impressed they were with the quality of the sewing etc etc. Every year we pass around card gift bags and bottle bags, saved from previous Christmases, and last year a few lamented that they had to buy new bags. The horror! I knew that these would be used again and again. It will be quite fun seeing them reappear. Am I revealing my sad nerdiness? Ah well! They’re fully lined with contrast fabric and reversible. Now perhaps I need to make Birthday bottle bags…We all seemed to arrive at Mum’s with presents for Barty the powder puff tail. My cousin and my nieces all did and I took him a set of jingle mice. But this one was the clear winner: my friend and her dog George sent him a crocheted pillow filled with catnip (bought in Asda, it’s fab.) After I took this photo he got a bit manic. It was so funny to see this laid back ‘I can sleep for England’ young cat so excited. The pillow is already all tatty and with ends sticking out! It was so lovely to see this ornament again when we decorated the tree on 23rd. I remembered that one of my nieces bought it for me last year, with her pocket money.My Dry October turned into Dry November and Dry December (bar 3 occasions where I’d finished in November but then decided to carry on.) All I really fancied was a glass of champagne and so on Christmas Eve I had my first drink in weeks. And my second. And on Christmas morning felt so very ropey that in the middle of drying my hair had to turn off the drier, sit on the bed and take deep breaths! Oh this was not the plan! How pathetic. Seeing a line of just-filled glasses on Christmas morning I apologised to my brother and declined one. During the toast I tasted a sip from Someone’s glass, just to try, and decided it was really rather nice, that perhaps that old chestnut, the hair of the dog thing would be worth a try. My brother said it was the fastest turn around he’s ever seen! I stuck to a single glass all day and it did the trick marvellously. I had another glass on Boxing Day evening with family too. There is a champagne diet, apparently good for weight loss (perhaps not for the liver.) Maybe that will be the one for me in January?On Boxing Day morning we were so glad to see a crisp and bright morning. We headed out for some exercise. It was a great walk, albeit 7 1/2 miles, not the planned 5. I think it was a combination of a lot of chatter, passing a big group of walkers at a crucial moment and wishing them a Good Morning that meant we missed the intended turning. We ended up in open countryside surrounded by grazing sheep. I turned to my iPhone for our location and saw on a satellite map that we had walked in the opposite direction and were approaching an unexplored village in the west. Oh well, new public footpaths have been discovered and it was a great yomp. Very good for walking off some of the mince pies and Christmas pudding. We took ourselves off to the sales on Wednesday and popped into a new-to-me coffee shop, where we sat on wooden boxes and spooned our Demerara from a communal jar with a wooden spoon. How very hipster!

I started some new crochet that evening. I’m not totally sure this is going to be continued. But look at the difference going up half a hook size makes. The fabric is now beautifully drapey and soft. Plus it’s far easier to find the 1 chain spaces. I’m going to play around a bit and might undo it, or might carry on. Just don’t ask me about the Hitchhiker, I actually might cry. Disaster struck. And I can’t blame it on Barty either.

On Thursday I met a friend in Hoxton, London at The Geffrye Museum of the Home to catch their Christmas Past exhibition. This features rooms decorated (or not) for Christmas from 1700 to 1990. Did you know that the Puritans banned Christmas for around 15 years? People disobeyed and still brought greenery into the home for decoration.

It’s a good exhibition and interesting overhearing others’ memories of past Christmases when you come to the various twentieth century rooms. My friend and I liked this early 1960s room best. It’s just after the children have opened their presents, when they’ve gone off to open their chocolate selection boxes and spoil their appetites for lunch. Sounds a familiar scenario, doesn’t it?

Why the toothbrush in the cafe, the eagle eyed among you might have spotted? I text her from the train and asked if she had an old one she could bring. I reckon it’s the mark of a good friend (or one who’s used to your ways) who responds with “I’ll see if I can find one” and not a single question about why.

After five miles of walking we went for a very late lunch and obviously chose the low calorie option….

And back to a superb mixture of laziness and activity yesterday; I tried out my new dumbbells that my father in law gave me. It’s become a thing every year; I really like to add practical presents to my wish list, things I need and will use. He laughs, but is usually the one to buy them. Over the years I’ve asked for a car valet, garden shears, secateurs, loaf tins and so on. This year it was dumbbells so I can work my triceps which are a little wobbly after a mere 4 months of a power shower and no hair-washing with a jug over the bath. (I miss my jug. I could also touch my toes and the floor without a problem. Probably that’s a no-go now too.) I started my daily routine yesterday. I will begin challenging people to arm wrestle by February. Actually, I’m having a day off today as I think my left elbow feels a bit sore. Ha! I’ve broken my resolution even before New Year.

How was your Christmas? Did your homemade gifts go down well? What’s the most bizarre present you received? Are you feasting still or dining on water and crackers now?

Winnie’s Wave Blanket

And it’s done! I finished the little border on Saturday and feel really pleased with this wave blanket for a friend’s baby, Winnie. I wanted to make a big enough blanket for her to use when she’s a bit older; to be able to snuggle with her Mum on the sofa and so on.

The edging is perfect I think. It’s just the right size to frame the rest, without taking over in a ‘Look at me! Look at me!’ style.

The ‘wrong side’ above just to show you the back of the edging. The ‘right side’ is below. I do love the lines that you get when you crochet into the back loop of a stitch. I don’t think it matters which way up it is, as both look fine. This is a good thing as when Sophie’s only had a few hours sleep, I don’t think correctly placing a baby blanket is going to be a priority!


When I began this blanket in June (see this post) it was just to use up some leftover yarn and I didn’t have a specific plan in mind. I’m very glad it’s turned into Winnie’s Wave Blanket and going to someone I know, who is really grateful and looking forward to receiving it. And how considerate of Sophie to name her baby so well, so we can all enjoy a bit of alliteration! I’m really looking forward my visit on Thursday.

The details:

Stylecraft Special DK: 1. plum 2. grape 3. parchment 4. lavender 5. silver 6. stone 7. denim 8. sage 9. storm blue

L: 89cm / 35″ (inc border) W: 75cm / 29.5″ B: 2cm / 3/4″ W: 427g

Sorry, I didn’t ever count my chains but your tension will vary to mine anyway, just chain multiples of 10 (+1 for the turning chain) and see how you feel.

Pattern: Attic 24 Neat Wave  and my border was also inspired by Lucy’s Moorland blanket edging I preferred my 4th round to be the same BL dcs, rather than the slip stitch that Lucy used.

My timer has just gone off, so I must away and put my oven on to bake a couple of loaves of bread. I will back with some wintery pictures tomorrow, as we’re between ankle and knee* deep in snow at the mo!

 

Very slight exaggeration

A Drum-roll seems only fair!

Last night I chose my border colours and sat down to start the tricky first row. I don’t think I want to crochet through the end posts again, yes it’s less gappy than working around, but it means you’re in danger of pushing out some of your darned ends. Phooey! It’s also damned tricky to do. That made me pack up my Hitchhiker knitting to take to Knit Group instead; as I didn’t think the light would be good enough to see, or the company would want to hear my groans and sighs.

I would very much like a drum-roll please while I complete the border, it seems only fair!  This has taken me far longer to finish than adult sized 6’x4′ blankets. Warm summer days, where the last thing I wanted was a blanket on my lap and sweaty yarn in my hands, and a house move contributed to the slowness of the making, not that there has been any rush really. I’ll show it to you once more with all the details including the yarn colours when it’s finished, before it goes to little baby Winnie next week.

I really like this simple edging. As you probably know I don’t really go for ornate borders, I reckon it can just be too much on a patterned blanket. But conversely an unedged blanket is a rather sad object, with a raw, unfinished look. There is a happy medium, isn’t there?

So on to Knit Group; do you remember reading this this post? (Oh sigh, please let’s not have porridge-gate all over again, tee hee.  I’m looking at you Vikki and Jill! Just whizz past the pictures and find the paragraph where I described what people were making…!) Teresa asked to see some pictures of what was being made and last night I asked if they minded me taking a few photos. It was a smaller group than usual, just a select four of us, but such an easy, relaxed night with lots of laughter.

First here’s A’s 4ply cream cotton bedspread in progress,  it’s one her mother began and she’s finishing, along with other half finished items. There need to be 20 squares or so and I think she was given 12. Look at those criss-crossing stitches and the detail on the leaves. Isn’t it lovely? It looks impressively complicated to me.

A. also brought along this gorgeous crochet shawl that she’s made for one of her young daughters. Apparently the yarn was cheap stuff and on offer in the local wool shop, but it feels luxuriously soft. Privately I thought it would rather suit me when I wear my smart black woollen coat and could imagine shimmering into a carol service, but sadly it was popped into a bag on the floor across from me. No stealing. Rats!Next there’s J’s Lego Man Mitts for her husband. They’re so fun! Not that the process of making them both has been much fun, as I understand the other mitt came into contact with a small boy and a pair of scissors…. He was taken to the wool shop to choose more wool and had to ask ‘the lady’ for the correct sized new circulars (yes, they were snipped too) which he didn’t enjoy. Lesson learned hopefully. She found the little figures in the bottom of her knitting bag. They look quite cross about me wearing the mitt I think.And P’s is currently a tea-pot cosy making machine, I can’t say anything much about it (secret squirrel) but it is making me want to try crocodile stitch. I’ve never been particularly keen on the stitch, now I wonder if it was the items I’ve seen made with it. P makes everything look good. The other knitted cosy is sooo special that I’m not dwelling on it, as it makes me feel knitty-knotty inferior! Yes, she does have a drink problem.I posted a pic of my Hitchhiker scarf the other day on Instagram. Click on the pink camera on the sidebar if you want to see how it’s getting on. After Winnie’s Wave Blanket that’s the next thing I need to finish for Christmas, for my Mum. Then the world is my oyster. Anyone who types the words ‘sock’ or ‘garter stitch blanket’ will be blocked. I mean it!

I chose this book first for my cosy Christmas reading, it’s so lovely, absolutely perfect.

What about you: Have you done any crafting with friends lately? What are you making and reading? Managing to resist the early festive treats or giving in completely to mince pies, stollen, chocolates or …..?

 

Feel free to add a link in the comments, to share your own Yarning Along post showing what you’re making and reading.

Cosy

Finally all the ends are darned and I can crochet the border! I can’t wait to visit little baby Winnie and give her this Wave Blanket.

It’s December 1st and so I’ve dug out my new-to-me books. I love reading Christmas fiction and a good friend passed on Coming Home for Christmas months ago. I think she’s got more for me too. I know she’s been looking out for them for ages, which is very sweet. I picked up The Little Christmas Kitchen in a charity shop months ago. Cosy reads for a cosy month. I’ve got several M.R James ghost storie anthologies on my Kindle, so will read some to balance out the gooeyness of the other books.

Talking of cosy; I’ve stocked up on Cadbury Drinking Chocolate and mini pink and white marshmallows too. I also bought a pack of All Butter Mince Pies yesterday. Well, you have to do these things right, and I’m not sure about icing sugar or frangipani topped pies. Isn’t that too much of a good thing?

What are you making, reading and eating at the mo? Go on, I’d love to know….

Kitchen sink post

This is what I’ve always called a kitchen sink post; since it feels like everything’s included except the sink.

I keep glancing up, as I type, to look at the long line of beech trees across the road. Their leaves are gently fluttering down and across in a diagonal line to fall straight into our garden. Some are hitting this window with a real ting. They’re not incredibly close by but the wind always seems to blow this way. There’s a carpet of coppery leaves covering the grass now and they’re not even our trees! Pretty though.

Previously I would darn the ends in a blanket on several lazy weekend afternoons; semi-watching a film or listening to an audio book, while the rugby played out on the tv. It got them done and I didn’t mind it too much at all. Hand sewing of any kind has always been relaxing. But this Wave Blanket is not getting darned very fast at all, as I’m sure you’ve noticed. Weekends have been busier lately (in a very nice way, no moaning here, or competitive ‘I’m the busiest person in the world’ boasts) and so no lazy afternoons to sit and focus. Today I’m meeting someone very yarny for lunch and when we were making arrangements last night she clearly instructed me to bring yarn. ‘Anything fibrous’. Does Stylecraft’s acrylic yarn count? Hmmm. Well, I don’t know that I can sit in a gastro pub and darn, that’s a step too far for me. I’m not entirely comfortable with knitting or crocheting in any public place, unless it’s tucked away on a bus, or as part of a knitting and crochet group. She currently carries a spindle and wodge of fleece in the depths of her bag, and thinks nothing of whipping out her knitting while queuing in the bank, walking up a hill or ….. I don’t have that kind of chutzpah, or obsessive compulsive behaviour around yarn. (Fingers and toes crossed she doesn’t read before this lunch. Could be embarrassing.)

So, the long and the short of it is that I’m beginning to feel awkward that this blanket isn’t done. I shall try to goad this feeling into determined action. Aiming for five ends a day would be something. It’s not huge after all, just fiddlier than my usual Ripple pattern. A dozen ends last week was clearly not reaching for the stars. That little baby Winnie needs her blanket.

I have been steadily knitting my Hitchhiker, adding a section at a time, and really like the different shades which are appearing. It’s Lang’s Tosca Light in Sapphire.

It’s all Christmas a go-go isn’t it? I did a double take when I saw the trees in the garden centre on Friday, but I imagine lots will be up and decorated from this weekend, as the first of December looms. I’ve only bought three Christmas presents, but feel quite pleased with myself. I don’t believe in rushing these things!

The Soup of the Week here has been tomato and vegetable, with that stunning bowl of plum tomatoes bought on impulse from the market. There were just over a kilo for £1. Bargain! It’s probably the ideal recipe for a summer glut of tomatoes when they’re at their tastiest, but it’s great with feta or blue cheese crumbled on top for added oomph.

~ Sweat onion, carrot and celery in a little rapeseed oil, then add 500g of ripe tomatoes, a 400g can of tomatoes, 500ml of stock, salt and pepper, a little sugar to take away the acidity of the tomatoes and a good handful of fresh basil leaves (or whatever fresh or dried herbs you fancy.) Add a tablespoon of red vinegar. Blend to a smooth consistency and enjoy.

I used up a vintage red pepper in my first batch a few weeks ago and that worked well. It’s a goodie for adding whatever you fancy. I’ve tried it with and without the red wine vinegar, it adds piquancy but is fine without too.

Reading: this week I’ve got four books on the go; one printed, one Ebook, and two audio.

1) I’m enjoying another Laura Ingalls Wilder from my childhood collection. A few chapters are good nostalgic reading late at night.

2) Yesterday’s 99p Kindle Daily Deal Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak reeled me in as I tried the sample and that’s almost certain to hook you into buying. I try not to download them, some days with more success than others! I’m really enjoying it and can almost certainly see a film being made from this one. It’s breaking my own rule about not starting Christmas books before 1st December, but whatever!

3) Bruce’s Born to Run audio book, read by him in that uniquely gravelly voice, which I will still be listening to in chunks next year because it’s over 18 hours long.

4) And finally, The Muse by Jessie Burton which I started on the way to Excel, London on Saturday for the Knitting, Stitching and Hobbycraft Simply Christmas show.

How much do you think I bought there by the way?

Answer…..a Carrot cupcake for lunch pudding! I was so restrained I nearly sprained something. Black Sheep Wools had bags of gorgeousness on sale, another seller had those Swirl cakes and Whirl cakes and all sorts of lovely wool blends. I resisted. Yes, I do deserve a medal, thanks very much, especially as my friend had told me to remind her she’s skint then bought bags of yarn and other fancies!

What are you making, cooking and reading this week? If you want to add your own Yarning Along link in the comments go for it. But tell us what you’re up to either way.

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?

Paused 

Another washcloth finished. Yep, it’s the lettuce coloured one. A good stretch of ends have been darned on my Wave Blanket and I’m working on a second rectangle for a pink pot holder. 

If you want to make one: ch 32, ch 1  then into 2nd ch on the hook *1 dc, 2 tr into 1 ch then miss 2 ch, repeat * to the last 3 stitches, miss 2, 1 dc into the last ch, ch 1 and turn. And so on. My first rectangle measures 6” x 6 3/4”.  Dc both pieces tog, ch 2/3 at the corners, work 20 ch for a hanging loop in one corner.

My friend and her partner have bought a small narrowboat for weekends away. Being creative and quirky she fancies making curtains out of scarves, so after lunch on Saturday we went searching in a charity shop and found some really pretty silky scarves. She’s going to chop up and hem them to hang above the windows. They’ll give some privacy but will still let the light in. The overall look she’s going for on the boat is crafty with splashes of colour.  I enjoyed hearing about the Mexican tiles in different shades of blue behind the little black wood burning stove and her plans for a pretty porcelain basin in the bathroom. Looking for scarves was the kind of treasure hunt I enjoy. I’m going to make a few things for them and thought a pot holder would be useful for picking the kettle up. I use my grey one every day, they’re so good when you have hot pan handles. 

I’ve got really stuck into the audio version of A Year of Marvellous Ways and returned the printed book to the library. The author’s narration is spot on; I believe she’s an actress, which makes sense of her skill at accents and well paced delivery. In my experience most authors are dreadful at narrating their own books, but this one is a joy to hear.  

I finished The Ballroom by Anna Hope, and felt it could have been great but it fell short. By the end it felt like something was lacking; either satisfactory character development or a proper end to Ella’s story, I’m not quite sure what.

And now I’ve got this motley selection of books to choose from…

What are you reading and making? Have you also got a pile of books by your bedside? And, tell me what you’re eating for lunch at the moment! I made this soup yesterday (with a red pepper as I’d run out of carrots.) It’s good.


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

This week I’ve knit some more of my garter stitch blanket and darned a few more ends of my Wave Blanket (not many, it’s a poor show I admit.) But since I’ve shown both of these many times I’ll refrain today. The baby was born on Friday so now I can tell you what I’ve been calling the wavey one for months now: it’s Winnie’s Wave Blanket. The new parents were so thoughtful to chose that name, weren’t they? It goes so well with her blanket. I always like a bit of alliteration.

My little pile of washcloths is slowly growing. I’ll do four and then might pause for a bit. I can’t wait to start a new crochet whatever, but need to just have the garter stitch blanket on the go. I dislike having multiple things semi-made; it muddles my head. So, get on and darn Rachel!

The Ballroom by Anna Hope looks like a lightweight historical novel doesn’t it? It’s not. I’m finding it grim and upsetting, but so well written I know I cannot leave it unfinished.

I picked up A Year of Marvellous Ways by Sarah Winman from the library the other day, as I’ve had the audio version for yonks now and thought it would be fun to listen to a chapter and read a chapter. I know you can buy both the audio and ebook which automatically sync, but there’s no way I’m buying two different versions of the same book! I love my local library.

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.

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? 

Secret Crochet Club – review 

Secret Crochet Club is a brand new monthly UK based subscription box, launched last month by Nade Hamilton, based in North Devon. I had seen a countdown for the first box on Instagram, and so when Nade offered to send me the first one to review I was delighted. I admit to feeling pretty intrigued as to what it was all about, name anything ‘secret’ and I’m hooked. They are produced in collaboration with independent designers, makers and small businesses to bring a monthly, limited edition box. Each one will feature an exclusive crochet pattern. The contents are top secret until everyone has received their box. Unless someone has a VERY nippy postie and puts theirs on social media I guess, but I like to think most people are pretty well behaved and won’t spoil the surprise!

The excitement factor was high as I opened the box. It was fun revealing each layer. I felt like I was playing pass-the-parcel for one.

The contents of the box:

3 balls of Cygnet DK 100g balls in Royal, Cranberry, Barley, Rising Sun Bag pattern, 3.5mm crochet hook, a screen-printed project bag, a crochet planner (I like this very much), stitch marker, 3 yarn pegs, darning needle, 2 hot-chocolate blocks.

This feels like a nice lot of goodies and would definitely be a lovely surprise for a friend, or for you. Each box will apparently contain an exclusive crochet pattern, yarn from new and established brands, all the tools you need to complete the project, a screen-printed project bag and extra treats too.

The Rising Sun bag pattern is designed by Veronika of Blue Star Crochet Company and, as stated in the professional all-singing all-dancing (not really, there’s no dancing, or singing come to think of it) colour booklet, the pattern lends itself to any colour scheme. I’m thinking a nice thick DK or aran weight cotton might work well and make for a very strong bag. The good thing about this box is that it’s full sized balls of yarn, and not little amounts wound for a specific pattern, which you may not fancy making anyway. This means you could obviously choose to use it on other projects, or substitute different yarns for the pattern. When you’re getting a surprise box a month you’re naturally going to prefer some patterns or yarns to others, but that’s the nature of subscription boxes.

I really like the simple but effective logo and the presentation of the box was well done with all the layers. The quality of the items seems good, although Cygnet is not a brand I know. The colour booklet shows various photos of the bag to accompany the pattern, this is good. The pattern looks clearly written and laid out. The only thing that I’m not sure about is the yarn pegs. If the boxes were all going to contain the same brand of yarn, in different colours each month, I could see that building a collection could be fun and a useful tool for planning future projects. However as the yarn will be from different companies I’m not sure how having odd yarn pegs will be useful. I haven’t tried the hot chocolate blocks yet, but they look the business. I DO have some mini-marshmallows in my baking cupboard, so they won’t be around for much longer.

A one-off box is £28.95, a 3 month sub will cost you £83 and a 6 month subscription is £160. UK boxes are postage free, while there is a £3.95 additional charge for worldwide shipping. A subscription for a SCC box isn’t the cheapest box on the market, it seems to be at the top end, given it contains 100% acrylic yarn.  If you priced up each item individually you might find this is a good overall price, although of course you probably already have favoured hooks, project bags and little bits and bobs like darning needles and stitch markers, meaning it’s not easy to justify a monthly subscription spend. But this type of box seems to be all about the happy post element and having a monthly treat to look forward to, according to serious and sustained research I’ve undertaken (asking crafty friends in the pub…) You could always pass on unwanted items to friends and make their day (they say, are they hinting?)

There are discount codes for use with all the box’s collaborators : a 25% discount off another Blue Star Crochet Company pattern, 10% off all patterns by Robin (maker of the cute little stitch marker) 10% for one purchase from the craft and hobby section of Lucy The Stationery Geek’s products and finally a 10% discount on Emily aka The Polkadot Giraffe’s Etsy store (she of the yarn pegs.) This feels like a good bonus and will hopefully bring more custom to these independent sellers.

Nade has offered a discount code exclusive to my lovely readers. Yep, that’s you: it’s LittleRoom1017 and will give you £5 off your first subscription to the Secret Crochet Club.

**A one-off box was supplied by the creator for my review. All opinions are mine and completely honest.**

 

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.

Hook and a Book – review


Hook and a Book is a monthly subscription box. Each month you get a new novel, full sized balls of yarn and a pattern(s) relating to the theme of the book, plus a little treat too.

It costs £21 a month, or you may also purchase a one-off box for £24. This seems like quite a hefty price, especially as a seasoned crocheter you’re unlikely to need a new hook each time, particularly a 4mm like I received. It is more expensive than other crochet subscription boxes, but you’re getting a brand new novel too. With these type of subscription boxes you don’t know what you’re getting in advance. I’ve never subscribed to anything similar, but imagine that the element of surprise and feeling like you’ve been given a present must be enjoyable. I certainly felt pleased when my box arrived last Friday. It was nicely presented; with co-ordinating tape, tissue and the font on the pattern cards all a pretty purple.

The little treat was two sachets of Beanies instant coffee, ok so it’s not Haribo, but that’s probably a good thing for my waistline! The Stylecraft aran yarn is going to be really handy for using on other makes as there is plenty left. I enjoyed practising my tapestry crochet skills on the cute paw print mug cozy again. There’s also one with a bone design to make.

I was surprised that there was no picture of the cup cozies in the box. I found out what they looked like after a day or two, by looking on Instagram as people showed their finished items. I’m not sure why this was omitted. I would definitely add one to each box as you naturally want to see what you’re going to be making.

I guess there is always the issue that you might have already read the book of the month, or it’s not a genre you enjoy, but as a frequent regifter I do not see this as being too much of a problem. I’ll give the cup cozy and book to my friend. As a new dog owner she’ll really appreciate both. I have seen on IG that others have paired up; with one reading the book and the other doing the crochet, which seems like a nice plan.

Subscribers receive a password to a Hints and Tips podcast on Vimeo. Maddie makes a cup holder, or maybe both, designed by Simply Hooked by Janet, I admit that I didn’t watch all of the tutorial. What I watched (about 30 minutes) is mostly in real time, apart from a few speeded up sections. I felt the process could have been edited to speed it up; as at nearly an hour it felt far too long. I just wanted to see Maddie demonstrating how-tos for tapestry crochet, rather than watch the whole process of chaining 30+ stitches and double crochet. This might be a personal preference, as others may enjoy crocheting along and need help with tapestry crochet. She did remind me of a neat trick I’d forgotten, where you can keep your chain from twisting before joining it into a round.

Vimeo do not, as yet, have the function to go back or forward for so many seconds at a time, like other online sites. This makes it tricky to skip parts, or go back to re-watch others; you end up watching the same sections. Maddie does endeavour to make it fun, telling cracker type jokes as she goes. This was my fave:

Why did the sheep stop going to bars? She didn’t like getting carded.

Boom-tish!

The background music though, oh the music! It gets really annoying which was the main reason why I couldn’t bring myself to crochet along any longer. It’s repetitive and seemed overly loud. But of course you’re not obliged to watch the podcast to do the crochet. I put my own music on and used the charted version of the pattern (both kinds of pattern are included) and really enjoyed the hooky, sitting in the autumn sun.

There are pro and cons to any subscription box; one month there might be one which really takes your fancy and another which misses. The yarn and pattern(s) in this one-off Hook and a Book box were good, the book is clearly brand new and arrived in excellent condition. If you’d like to subscribe here’s a link to Hook and a Book.

26/09/17 Maddie is offering readers 10% off your first box. If you’re interested click HERE.

**A one-off box was supplied by the creator for my review. All opinions are mine and completely honest.**

Cute make 

This little paw print cosy for a take-away coffee mug has been occupying me the last few days, whenever I’ve sat down to take advantage of the bright sunny weather. I haven’t done any tapestry crochet for ages, so really enjoyed practising my rusty skills. More about where the pattern and kit came from very soon…. I have to take a little black cat, with a powder puff tail, to the vet shortly so this is a very quick post.
I’ve still got three more chapters of As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee to read! I’ve been out a lot recently, so no time for reading before lights out. I have started a new audio book though; The State We’re In by Adele Parks.  This is ticking all the boxes so far, with time jumping all over the decades, seemingly unconnected characters and a dying man trying to connect with someone he’s neglected for 30 odd years. It’s my kind of book. Easy come, easy go and it’s always enjoyable trying to work out who’s who and why and what.

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.

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?

Wandering around 

On Monday morning I found myself wondering around my new home with a semi-dried bunch of chillies trying to find the best place to hang them. I soon realised this if this carried on much longer nothing else was going to get done! In the end I tied them onto the light cord of a lamp and got on with the heavy work of unpacking the kitchen. I didn’t stop for a sit down all day and then had to go and do some cleaning at the other house. One of my new birthday bottles of gin was opened at the end of the day… This one. It’s a goodie. 

Yesterday I’ve never been so glad to have had a long-standing appointment at the hairdressers, as I could sit down and not move for 1 1/2 hours. It was bliss and my back and aching shoulders thanked me. 

Now I’m trying for a better pace and keep reminding myself that not every box has to be opened in the first few days. I do need to search for a vase for these lovely flowers that have been delivered. Where on earth are they?  

As you see, I’m using the same book photo as last week; I haven’t touched my crochet. In fact it’s still in the boot of my car, but I’m halfway through reading Dear Lupin and it’s made me laugh out loud, many times. It’s a lovely book. 
What about you: have you been making much? Reading much? Wondering around trying to hang up a bunch of anything?!

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.

Lists and boxes

We’ve been away again, and although this blanket travelled to Devon for a night and then to Cornwall for three, it came home without being touched. Too many places to visit and things to see! Since returning on Sunday evening I felt itchy-fingers keen to add a row or two, and found it a good way to relax yesterday. Life is very busy at the moment; I’m surrounded by flattened boxes, parcel tape and notebooks full of lists….

As for reading; I’ve just borrowed Dear Lupin by Roger Mortimer, a racing journalist, from the library. It’s the entire collection of letters he wrote to his son Charlie, over 25 years.  I hadn’t heard of it before but a quick flick through showed it would be a funny and warm read.  For the last few days I’ve been thoroughly enjoying The Summerhouse by the Sea by Jenny Oliver. I bought it on my Kindle while away in Falmouth. It’s perfect summer reading; well written with interesting characters and location. If you like Jenny Colgan, you’ll enjoy Jenny Oliver’s style too. 

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.

BBC Countryfile Live

Once again we went along to BBC Countryfile Live. This was its second year and as it was so enjoyable last time, we were keen to go again. Again there was so much to see including multiple show rings and arenas for different displays: from farm machinery, both modern and vintage, pig shows, dog shows including terriers chasing after a lure, followed by hilarious attempts by forty or so of the spectators dogs (all hopeless, apart from one chocolate Labrador who probably thought it was food) BMX bike tricks, a chain saw competition and many, more more. My absolute favourite is the equine ring, which surprises me rather since I can’t say I’m a horsey person at all. Although I spent a lot of my early childhood pretending to ride horses; sitting sideways on one of our two swings, galloping along beaches on evening strolls on family seaside holidays and reading books about horses and ponies. However when I actually started horse riding lessons, after school each week, I was terrified! All I could think was that if the horse (actually a small, fat pony called Tumbleweed) decided to take off with me on his back, there was nothing I was going to be able to do about it. This was not a toy, or my imaginary turn on TV’s beautiful Black Beauty, but a living breathing animal. I begged my teacher Mr McColl not to let go of the reins. After two lessons with Mr McColl walking and trotting alongside, around and around the ring, it was clear that things had to change. The next lesson was jumping, after a few practice tries either I had to grow more trusting of Tumbleweed, and much braver, or Mr M was going to be worn down to a stick. (What a lovely man he was!) I gave up gracefully and carried on with ballet, tap and swimming club instead.

I took a lot of photos at CFL, of celebrities, displays, funny ducks, pretty geese, frankly ugly turkeys, pigs being guided around a ring and many more, but it’s far too much to put them all on here. If you’d like to see some more of the magnificent shire horses, always my top favourites, go to my instagram. Do watch a short video I took of the country’s only six team of shires. It’s so good. As you’ll see, they came really close. So close, the ground vibrated. This team are regularly used in tv and film, so I’m gong to keep my eyes peeled for them. 

CFL covers a huge area at Blenheim Palace and even if you didn’t intend to walk far, you would end up covering several miles. At the end of the day my pedometer said I’d walked eight. 

The weather was typically English, at least for August nowadays when summer seems to abandon us to show us a preview of autumn. Then everything pings back to summer again, sometimes in the space of a day or an hour. It isn’t exactly cold, but you need to travel with an umbrella and raincoat, as well as sunscreen and a t-shirt. We had all of these just for the day out. And all were utilised.

During a massive thunder and lightening storm complete with tropical rainfall, everyone dived under cover into tents and marquees. At least there were the goats to pet, Adam Henson book-signing in the tent’s corner to discreetly gawp at, and a fun egg finding game for small children, which was very amusing to watch. I chatted about the possibility of keeping rescue chickens too, or rather the very enthusiastic stall-holder was trying to persuade me that they’re very affectionate pets. She did offer me the opportunity to cuddle a chook, but I declined. The fresh eggs appeal, but keeping them is not for me right now.

The time difference between the photo of the coming storm, above the dappy looking goat portrait, and the return of the sun below was less than an hour! Everything dried up super fast and we returned dry raincoats to the rucsac.

There was no shortage of food and drink to sample and buy at the show. Produce seemed to be mostly British, with amazing smells tempting us around every corner. We lingered at the Food Heroes stage, but had missed the most famous chefs doing demos. From a wide array of choices I chose a pork bap with stuffing, apple sauce and crackling. I did remember to take a photo, but only after I’d snaffled the crackling. It looks somehow bare without it, so that’s in the deleted folder. Apparently the Welsh boss-man rode his bicycle from the stall holders’ campsite during the night, every few hours, to check on the pig cooking on its spit. He did a very good job, it was yummy. My other treat was Hereford ice-cream from a mother and daughter team from Rowlestone Farmhouse ice cream near Hereford. Actually it sounds as if the whole thing is a family endeavour; Dad is in charge of the dairy, Mum makes the delicious ice cream while the daughter works front of house. I had salted caramel and pecan, it was gorgeous. I confess that I’d willingly travel several hours to visit their ice cream parlour. (I wish they’d sponsor me to say that, ice cream would be fine.) 

I can’t work out if this photo is a bit odd; with the guy walking so close to the window. I just liked the way the company had dressed the potting shed shelves.

These carved crochet hooks were so smooth to the touch. I really am happy with my Clover Amour set, but was slightly tempted to buy a large wooden one.

As the rain was coming to an end we came across The Oxford Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, in a small tent near the river Glyme. I had a go at using a drop spindle. It’s much harder than it looks, but the lovely lady said not to worry about lumps; just call it Art Yarn! Ok then, I think I’ve discovered a latent talent…

I didn’t realise until I saw the stream of photos that I’d had quite an audience.

This week I’ve been busy. I’m rigorously decluttering and sorting out things. Yesterday I posted old clothes into a clothing bank bin, took bags of better clothes and boots, books and a heap of craft magazines to a hospice charity shop,  gave my old pairs of reading glasses to an optometrists who will send them to the Third World, Guide Dogs for the Blind have used postage stamps, The Blue Cross charity shop have foreign coins from my most recent travels (New Zealand, Malaysia, Israel, America, Australia and Hong Kong.) I donated some of  my academic books to the university library and I sent my last Star Ripple to Knit for Peace. As you see, someone else also snuck into the bag. I don’t mind and think Stanley might enjoy a new adventure.

I’ve tried some knitting after a few weeks break. My elbow feels ok, but no more again for a few days I’d say. This is a shame, but there we go. At least I’ve added in a new colour which keeps things interesting.

As for reading, I’m now listening to The Love Song of Miss Queenie Henessy by Rachel Joyce, having finished The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry which began the story and should be read first to get the full story. Oh my goodness, Celia Imrie is a fantastic narrator! I’ve always admired her acting, but had no idea she could do accents so well. Cockney to Scottish, women and men, she’s nailed them all so far in the audiobook. Also, I’m halfway through reading Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals. This is slow for me, but I kept listening to Harold Fry in bed instead and woke up an hour later several times. The dulcet tones of Jim Broadbent had sent me to sleep. Audiobooks don’t work for me at bedtime at all, but still I try from time to time and then miss huge chunks of the story.

Have you been on any days out recently? Can you listen to audio books at bedtime without falling asleep? What are you making and reading?

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.

Yarning Along & the magic of plywood

On rainy Sunday I sat and crocheted on and off for several hours, this means I’m now wondering how much more to do. It’s a baby blanket, as you probably recall, and now measures 28″ by 31″. It’s obviously going to be wider than 28″ with a border, but I’m not sure how much longer it needs to be; as I always think that to be properly useful a baby blanket could be big enough for when they are a toddler, and can to snuggle underneath.

I thought I’d tell you about Friday, when I met a friend in London for the day. I’d suggested we visit the Museum of London as I’d seen they have an exhibition all about junk and recycling, which highlighted how previous generations fixed, saved and valued household items. This Guardian article made it look really promising, and we both thought it sounded like a winner. Nowadays, we tend to judge visits and outings by three main criteria: are they better, equal or worse than the Thames Barrier Experience, the Fan Museum or the Home Sewing Exhibition that I once went to visit, with great anticipation. I won’t spoil the first two by revealing our rating, you’ll have to visit them yourselves and work that out for yourself. You’ll probably experience them differently. Anyway, when we got to the museum we soon realised there were only three scant cases of exhibits (semi-broken pottery and tatters of leather; once shoes) and some information on the wall panels. And that, as they say, was that. The main exhibition adjacent to the cases was London Through the Ages. This hasn’t seemed to change for years, since I recognised most of it. I realised that my friend was slowly moving around and dragging her feet and when she said “I feel like I’m on the school trip” I realised just how un-fun it was and that she really wasn’t enjoying it. Nor was I really, but I didn’t like to say in case she was really into it. I have to say that they really need to up their game, because it could be a fantastic informative and fun museum. As she says, it’s like stepping back into our school days where museums were dark, dingy and unappealing, without any interactive or imaginative displays. You would trudge around after the teacher, clutching your a clipboard and pencil on a string, completing the most boring worksheets.  The most exciting part was eating your packed lunch afterwards! (To my foreign readers; does this also sound familiar?!)

The MoL really doesn’t compare with The V&A, they are absolutely poles apart in terms of enjoyment, learning and fun. Last time we went was at the end of April, when as part of the Friday Late activities we ended up in a yurt, lying on giant beanbags in the dark howling with laughter. It was set up so that every time someone tweeted, the lights inside flashed. It doesn’t sound funny but, trust me, it really was! (We were alcohol free, just in case you’re wondering.) On Friday afternoon we popped into an exhibition about Plywood, to fill some time while the demonstrators set up their interactive displays for the evening. Yep you read that correctly, it’s all about Plywood. We smirked about it, ready to write the day off as being one where we’d tried to do interesting and fun activities, but failed. But how wrong we were! Plywood! It’s absolutely fascinating! You learn how it’s produced, how it can be moulded, about its strength and durability, its lightweight nature, the inexpensive way it can be produced, watch historical and contemporary films from around the world showing it being made and fashioned into all kinds of items. There are scale models put forward for patents for different items, the current innovative ways of using it and the laser cutters which I didn’t really know anything about… I never realised plywood had such a varied history, or has so many uses. It’s just not something I’ve ever spent much time to dwelling upon. I guess you haven’t either have you? Here are a few uses: post-war housing, aeroplanes, tea-chests, Singer sewing machine cases, surfboards, speedboats, chairs, tables, stalls, beehives, sports cars, car parts, and many many more…Check out this Time Out article about the exhibition if you don’t believe me. It’s on until the beginning of November, if you can get to it. It’s free and well worth allowing a good half an hour, or more, if you like to watch all the films and read everything.

As for reading: I’ve been listening to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce as I’ve got the sequel The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy, but it’s been 4 years since I heard the first. I couldn’t remember much about how it ended. I started listening to the first chapter on the way into London on Friday, intending to jump to the last one after that. But I was gripped and am now an hour from the end. I’ve listening to it in 10 minute bursts whenever I can and while I crocheted on that rainy Sunday. It’s a truly beautiful story. I wonder if anyone has replicated Harold’s pilgrimage? I bet they have somehow! I should Google it.
I always have an audio and printed, or e-book on the go, and I’m reading My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell. It was a Kindle Daily Deal for 99p, the other day. It’s funny and well written. I can’t help picturing the actors from the TV series, although some are very different to those described, but it does bring it alive.

Have you been to any interesting exhibitions lately? What are you reading and making? Do you find you’re less productive in summertime?

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.

A long weekend away

We’ve been away again for a long weekend in Lincolnshire, which included a night’s stay in Lincoln. After walking around admiring the cathedral, pictured above, we had an interesting audio tour at the Medieval Bishops’ Palace (have a free year of membership of English Heritage, hurray!) A drink in Widow Cullen’s Well pub after all the walking, including up Steep Hill and exploring the old part of the city, was definitely restorative. That evening we had what turned out to be a mega dinner at Ribs ‘n’ Bibs. The beef ribs were gooood, but we couldn’t finish our food. A plateful for one, would actually be plenty to share.

I also got another fix of the seaside, albeit courtesy of the North sea. It is not, it has to be said, as pretty as the Atlantic sea which surrounds West Cornwall, but it is good to walk along to Sutton. I certainly felt I needed to walk at least 5 miles! We walked 8 by the end of the day.

 If you grew up with traditional English bucket and spade holidays, like I did, then Mablethorpe is your place for an enjoyable day out. I doubt it’s altered since the 1970s. There is a small fairground, arcades, cafes, ice cream stands, rock and sweet shops, souvenir shops and donkey rides on the beach. We’ve been popping there for years now and it doesn’t seem to have changed in a single way. Did you spot a Mum being buried in the sand?!img_3470 My cousin hosts several BBQs from early summer to mid-autumn for family and different groups of friends. We try to go to one, or maybe two, each year. They’re always good fun, with everybody mucking in. The informal rule is that every time you go to and from the cottage, across the tiny lane to her field, you take something. I have to admit that the (huge) glass of champagne I had on arrival went straight to my head, so the only thing I initially managed to take across was another glass of champagne! But if this was hash-tag land I’d probably be typing #winwin.

As far as stereotypes go the men conformed and ruled the two barbecues, there’s always one for meat and the other strictly for veggie foods. I grabbed my chance to cook, when someone left their post to top up their glass of red. I enjoyed flipping a batch of home-made halloumi burgers. (Recipe here, but made with some grated carrot, not heaps and no courgette as we found before that it’s too ‘wet’.) Apart from that I did a lot of chatting, took some photos and nibbled delicious food. That was all fine by me!

img_3490

img_3493

I’ve had a week’s self-imposed ban of no crochet or knitting, to rest my elbow. It flared up in irritation at all the long rows of knitting I’ve been doing. I’ve tried a few rows of both knitting and crochet and it’s a feeling bit sore again. It’s definitely the knitting, as crochet has never really affected it. I’ll concentrate on finishing the Wave Blanket, then go back to the Garter Stitch Blanket and see how it goes. It’s not the end of the world if I just add a row or two a week. Or every other week. As you know, I started it to use up odd balls of DK yarn, and to have an easy project for pub knitting with the girls. It doesn’t matter how long it takes to finish. It’s a shame though as I have enjoyed adding to it and blending the colours.


My library books this week couldn’t be more different; Sweet Temptation was total fluff, but quite enjoyable. It tells the stories of three women who are overweight and become friends through joining ‘Fatbusters’. Ahem…I’ve glossed over the homeward bound visit to Melton Mowbray, home of Pork Pies and Stilton Cheese, but I’m back on lots of fruit and salad now! Vinegar Girl will be my next read; it’s a retelling of The Taming of the Shrew. It’s ages since I read an Anne Tyler novel.

What have you been eating? Do you use your local library? Have you seen the sea lately?
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.

 

Save

Summer days 



Wow, I’ve just noticed that WordPress is telling me this is my 573rd post! I never take much notice of numbers; I just plod along and throw up something, either when I feel like it, or on a Wednesday (or in this case on Tuesday, ready to appear tomorrow morning, for the sake of being precise) as it feels like a nice mid-week thing to do. Plus I do enjoy the communal aspect of sharing what we’re making and reading.

So, it seems to be another week of summer. It’s lovely today, with a gorgeous breeze blowing through the house. I sat outside for a while, adding a few more rows to my Wave Blanket. I’ve got to take it steadily as I think lots of knitting has aggravated my silly elbow. (I just had to delete another ‘So,’ I know that ‘although’ and ‘though’ seem to be other repetitive words, which I try to guard against overusing in one post. But I wonder how many times I’ve used them in the other 572 posts?) Also (ha! It sneaked in under the cover of Al!) I’m on a self-imposed knitting ban for the week and will try not to do too much crochet either, apart from at Knit Group; if it goes ahead tonight. It seems that some of the Stylecraft Blogstars have gone down with food poisoning after their jolly at the weekend, which is rotten.

When we went away my sweet-peas were pretty pathetic and I kicked myself that it had taken me so long to plant out the seedlings. However after 10 days of sunshine and some good watering, they were three times as tall and blooming when we came home! This is the first posy I picked, there are more every day and the highly scented variety I chose are just that; delicious. Growing sweet-peas makes me feel green fingered, albeit it in a tiny way. It’s the growing from seed and then having something to pick which does it.

Apart from basking in the sunshine, reading and crocheting, it’s that time of year for cocktails. This was gin and prosecco based. I thought it looked perfect with the juniper berries bobbing merrily alongside the pink grapefruit and mint leaves. I gave it a stir with my straw, just because, then decided to be a wee bit sad and photograph it. After sharing a bottle of champagne with the other three, before arriving at the restaurant on Friday, I felt I needed to herd the berries back into place with instructions to “Go a bit to the side, come on you need to follow others!” Oops. Then one of my quite old bracelets broke with a tinkle of beads bouncing from the table, hitting the glasses and falling down onto the tiled floor. I was then on my knees trying to gather them all up, while the others carried on talking as if nothing out of the ordinary was occurring. That was a fun night. I just hope no one went rolling across the floor on one of my errant beads.

As for reading; despite having already seen the film Lion, the book has still made me cry. I’m reading it really fast too, I can’t put it down. Do check out this moving, true story of Saroo and how he became lost in India on a train, then found his family again, a quarter of a century later.

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.

Save

Yarn shopping 

My wave blanket was meant to be a stashbuster, to use up various balls and half balls which were mainly leftovers from my first Spice of Life blanket. I had no particular plan for it, I thought it would end up with the charity Knit for Peace, but while we were away last week I read of an acquaintance’s tragic loss. Her father’s death was really sudden and the family are in pieces. I also found out that she is pregnant, the baby’s due in a few months. I really wanted to do something to reach out to her, rather than just leave a comment on her Facebook profile. So, I sent her a message asking if she’d like me to finish this blanket for her baby, a girl. This is part of her lovely, typically eloquent, reply:

‘I would be honoured to have your beautiful blanket- I think X would adore this and it will no doubt bring some brightness to us.

Thank-you so so so much xxxx’

So of course I can’t just add in any other leftover colours. I don’t think I would have been able to anyway; as I like this combination so much. These are the best reasons for breaking my do not buy any yarn rule. Now I’ll go back to only buying for specific projects, as usual. I just seemed to make blanket after blanket for several years, each with wildly differing colour schemes, as you can maybe tell from my Garter Stitch Blanket.

I’m so delighted to be making this for someone I know. It’s just not the same when you don’t know where it will end up, although I will continue sending items to Knit for Peace. 

I’ve just realised I photographed the wool I bought for my Cottage Garden CAL 5 years ago in the very same park, actually it’s probably almost in the same spot. And look who commented and liked the post – there are several lovelies who I’m in touch with and who still comment now. 


I don’t know why, but I just wanted to show you my new bag from the National Trust shop at Trengwainton, Cornwall. I really liked the blue zip thingys and strap, and the splash of orangey-red on the back. I can’t resist a new bag! 

What have you bought lately?

West Cornwall


Walking part of the south-west coast path, taking numerous photos some in the same spots as last year and the year before: “But it’s so beautiful”, staring out to sea watching gulls drift slowly along the coastline, pasties and cake or an ice-cream for lunch, stopping for an afternoon pit-stop of cider and snacks, guessing how many steps we’ve walked; then checking the pedometer, planning which fish or seafood to buy for dinner, making G&T in slightly too small glasses, swigging the leftover tonic from the can, looking at the OS map and wondering what the weather will do, crocheting in bed in the morning while looking out to sea and listening to an Alan Bennett play….

Holiday.

Hotter than Ibiza

My friend just sent a photo on WhatsApp of her legs up in the garden, with a glass of what she claims is water. It looks suspiciously like a vodka tonic to me but I don’t blame her if it is; as today it’s been hotter than Ibiza, Paris and New York, to name a few. 31 degrees! That’s hot for a country whose houses are all well insulated against the cold, where most people have wall to wall carpets and noooo A/C.

The frogs (we think, though maybe they’re toads and we’ve mistakenly identified them for years?) are taking it in turns to bask on the edge of the water tank in the garden. This is a tiny one. The bigger one was there yesterday and you can see s/he here

I tried to do some crochet, but it was really too hot and I had to give up when I realised the yarn was actually squeaking through my fingers….that’s pretty gross isn’t it?!

Instead I used my Nespresso machine and aeroccino to make iced coffees for the first time. Oh yes, there will definitely be more of these scrummy drinks.

For one iced coffee: make 40ml of espresso coffee, 90ml of cold frothy milk and 1-2 tsp of sugar syrup. Pour the hot coffee over lots of ice, mix in the sugar syrup and then stir in the milk.

I made a jar of sugar syrup for cocktails a while back and was so glad it was already there sitting in the fridge. I reckon an iced coffee habit is impending, so I’m sure I’ll have to make some more!

Something really easy


After meeting Phil of The Twisted Yarn on Yarn Shop Day I met up with her and some of her knit group at a very nice village pub last night. And of course I made the rookie mistake (which I make time and time again) of not taking something very, very easy. So, some of the time my fingers were moving across my Wave Blanket trying to quietly check my stitch count…..4,2,2,4,2,2,4 and work out what I needed to do next. It was ok in the end, after a bit of undoing, but I know I need to start something really easy for when I’m social crafting; it’s dire otherwise for my concentration. It’s always my crochet or knitting that suffers, not my conversation. But then perhaps I can’t really be the judge of the quality of that, can I?! Phil and the others have invited me back, or perhaps it was politeness; it’s a very friendly group after all.

I’d decided that I really liked them after the first 15 minutes and so maybe unwisely launched into tales of other knit groups. There was quite a bit of teasing about them being fodder for the next group I join. But, I’m being nothing but complimentary. It’s genuine too. Ah, I have to add that this was my first ever group where everyone started off crocheting! Not one single person sniffed at me and said “Oh, you’re crocheting. Can’t you knit?” It almost felt miraculous.

Please don’t ask me about the sock…there’s no news, yet. I just need to sit and concentrate on the next stage. You know by now that I am a prize procrastinator and so I’m excelling at delaying starting the heel. Instead, I have cast on to start Arne and Carlos Garter Stitch Blanket which is going to be super easy. Perfect for social crafting.

As for reading: last week I’d only just chosen A Ghost in the Machine from the library. Now I’m really stuck in and it’s exactly as good as I thought it would be; well-written, well paced and the lead up to the key event has been interesting. I’m reading a little every day, since there are quite a number of villagers and I don’t want to have to skip back and forth trying to refresh my memory with key facts.

If you’d like to share a photo of what you’re making and reading this week, leave a link to a current post in the comments and I’ll add it here. 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.

1: One Creative Cat

2: Needles and Wool

3: Vikki Bird Designs

Waving


I’ve had terribly itchy fingers lately. I just really wanted to do some crochet, anything just to do some. I did have a good search for Log Cabin type blanket patterns. I might make one sometime, but for now I decided I wanted something I can pick up and add to whenever I want to. I don’t really like the way it looks when you add stitches along the sides of the central square. I tried a few patterns. The Wave stitch suits me better at the moment, and I like the way the colours flow.
 This is also another way to use up some of my leftover Stylecraft yarn from other blankets. This Wave Blanket is just going to be a small one, and will probably end up going to Knit for Peace with the last Star Ripple I made, as I don’t know anyone that needs them. Etsy is flooded with crocheters selling blankets, so I doubt it’s worth adding them. I enjoyed getting into the rhythm of the wave pattern last night, as I laughed along to an episode of Graham Norton.
I picked up A Ghost in the Machine by Caroline Graham yesterday at the library. I’ve never read or watched any of the Midsommer Murders but I read the first page to see if I liked the writing style and it looks good. Hopefully I won’t miss anything having not read the previous six. Before I go I have to highly recommend my last library read: The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso. It’s witty, thought provoking and a perfect length. 


If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading this week, leave a link to your post in the comments and I’ll add it here. (Still haven’t found a DIY Linky thing which works with WordPress blogs, but I’ll keep looking.) 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’ve had quite a few people say they’d love to join in but they don’t read fast/much/at all. Books are books, and non-fiction counts! Recipe books, craft, gardening etc etc, I just like to see what others are reading. 

1: Vikki Bird Designs

2: Wooly Cakes and Wooden Spoons

3: One Creative Cat

4: Mossy Road

5: Simply Summer Street

6: Kneedles and Wool

Star Ripple III & Slouch & Bobble Hat finished 


I finished the hat on Monday and the blanket on Tuesday (yesterday) and today am in the odd position of not having anything woolly on the go. I did spend ages looking through pattern links I’ve saved, in the notes section on my iphone, and on Ravelry and looked through my favourite makers photos on Instagram, but can’t find anything that grabs me. I think the time has come to stop putting knitting my first pair of socks off. It’s just the thought of all the new stuff to read and try that makes me procrastinate.  But I bought all the kit last year and Trish sent me a copy of Christine Perry’s (aka Winwick Mum) sock book. It’s time isn’t it? 

They’re rather grim photos I know. I had planned lovely outside shots but it’s rained all night. I’m so glad as it hasn’t rained for a long time. Farmers say their seeds are just lying in dust in the fields. A hosepipe ban in many counties lies ahead, and apparently we need two months of solid rain to put enough water back into the water table. I did enjoy this in the sunshine on Sunday though…

I’m soon to finish If You Go Away by Adele Parks, and plan to listen to the last hour of my neglected comedy audio book Toast on Toast by Steven Toast too.  This week it’s all endings isn’t it? 

Actually there’s more… After several frustrating emails to inlinkz, where we were both typing the same language, but it seemed only one of us actually read what the other had written, it was finally stated (admitted?) that inlinkz is not compatible with WordPress. I was offered a refund. So, we’re back to no proper link up on a Wednesday. However please feel free to add a link to your Yarn Along / Yarning Along post here in the comments and I’ll add it to my post. We can still share what we’re making and reading every week.

1: Simply Summer Street

2: Vikki Bird Designs

3: Made by Patch

4: The Eclectic Stitch

Nearly there

I’m always making something and rarely go a day without reading. I enjoyed seeing everyone’s posts on Ginny’s Yarn Along, now it’s finished I decided to host my own version. Come and share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday. Get inspired by others’ projects and motivated to finish your own. You might pick up good book recommendations too.

Leave your link by clicking on the blue box below, and following the instructions. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog etc, so others can find us! Tell your followers about Yarning Along on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc using #yarningalong.


I popped into the library yesterday to find a book on sewing with jelly rolls. I wasn’t successful but did pick up Half Yard Gifts by Debbie Shore. The pyramid paper weight looks like a nice little project. While there I looked through my notes on my iPhone and found I’d added book recommendations from magazines in 2015, so it seemed like time to try finding some of them! If You go Away by Adele Parks is set in Edwardian England. Débutante Vivian Foster is seeking the marriage proposal that will seal her triumphant season into society. What could go wrong? It seems well researched, is well written so far and I’m intrigued…

My last two little Star Ripple blankets were 30″ across and this is not far-off. I’m enjoying the crochet; it’s a pretty pattern and easy to do but I might stop soon. It’s meant to be a scrap buster project using leftovers from the Blackberry Ripple blanket and I’m running out of colours.

Did you spot that my posts for Blog Every Day in May (BEDM) stopped after seven? I didn’t run out of ideas, but my goodness it’s a big ask in terms of time and energy. I also started to feel like I was just spamming everybody with posts! A week was pretty good, I’m happy with that.

You can view other people’s links by clicking on this blue box, you don’t necessarily need to leave one of your own, though of course I’d love it if you did. 

Hair of the sheep


Oh dear, crochet is very good medicine today as I’m feeling rather fragile. I’ve tried the double shot cappuccino and cooked breakfast, followed with a few sugary sweets ‘cure’. All self inflicted, but not entirely my fault, well not really. Last night I met a friend for a drink and a catch up, following the end of a course we’ve been on since last November. The only thing was I wasn’t at all impressed with his choice of pub, so suggested we move to another for the next drink and somehow it turned into a pub crawl with us taking turns to suggest the next. Whoops! The emergency money I mentioned in yesterday’s post is definitely not being spent on gin! I’m going tee-total for a bit again.

Despite living in the same area for a dozen years I still don’t seem to have memorised the time of the last bus home. So, a fairly expensive taxi ride later I was back here in the early hours, pouring pints of water to take upstairs to bed. Why, I’m wondering in the 21st century is it still so hard here, outside of major cities, to sit and chat over a drink past midnight? There was definitely some frantic last minute queuing at the bar going on. 

Anyway, this is not meant to be daily blogging of my misdemeanours and poor lifestyle choices (want to see my other Blog Every Day in May posts? Click on the BEDM tag below.) Did you know that tomorrow it’s Yarn Shop Day in the UK and Ireland? There are lots of local events listed if you search Yarn Shop Day on Facebook. The above link was the best page I found to explain how it started and I enjoyed learning about the benefits for businesses. Are you planning a visit? I’m going to an event with a friend and will be saying hi to another yarny blogger while there. I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow. I’m back to my soothing crochet and music, the hoovering can wait till the morning…

May the Force be With You!

Hurray! Have yarn, can crochet!

I don’t know what it is at the moment but I’ve seen other people writing that they’ve also really caught the crochet bug again. I’ve seen some very prolific knitters saying they’re finding it boring and crochet is much more appealing. It’s something about Spring maybe, unless you’re in the Antipodes and are also feeling the same way?
When I went into the yarn shop to buy these two at lunchtime I told the woman how I’d felt unwell, stayed at home to be quiet and rest, but had run out of yarn on the two days when it was impossible to restock. She took a hard look at me and said “You don’t sound too clever now either!” Well, it’s Star Wars day today, (May the Fourth…get it?) so let’s just say my dodgy chest and resulting growly voice is part of my Darth Vader persona.

Someone is off on a road trip from today, visiting lots and lots of fisheries and catching up with old friends. I’ve come home to a pretty card, this lovely bouquet and a tip telling me where emergency money may be found. Does running out of gin count? A strong strong hankering for my first Chinese takeaway in a year? Household-wide chocolate famine?

 

The grey curse


There’s not been much crochet since Sunday since I, for some bizarre reason, only bought one ball of the main colour! So I can’t crochet any more of my beanie. Unbelievably I also ran out of grey when adding more to my Star Ripple on Monday! The curse of grey yarn… I know it’s not much of a Yarning Along post, but it’s entirely truthful.

The good news is that I’m near a yarn shop tomorrow. But I was very keen to do some crochet over the bank holiday weekend, feeling a little under par and needing distraction from the marathon snooker coverage on TV (anyone else suffer experience a lot of this too?!) but couldn’t do anything about it at all due to my local yarn shops being closed on Sundays and for the holiday. I’m better if I only have two things on the go at a time, so resisted the urge to start some knitting. 

I enjoyed Love Nina, by Nina Stibbe so much that I’m now listening to Paradise Lodge, which is a semi-autobiographical account. I’ve found a good Guardian review if you fancy reading a bit more about her books. Do you remember the awful stereotypical character Emily, in Friends, played by Helen Baxendale? She’s narrating this book really well. Apparently a Leicestershire accent is hard to do but she’s doing a good job.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I’m always making something and I never go a day without reading. I’m really missing Ginny’s Yarn Along as I always enjoyed seeing everyone’s posts, so I’ve decided to host my own version.

Come and share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday. Get inspired by others and motivated to finish your makes. You might even pick up some good book recommendations.  Leave a current link here by clicking on the blue box below, and following the instructions. Don’t forget to include a link back to this post on your blog etc, so others can find us! Tell your followers about Yarning Along on your blog, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc using #yarningalong.

I was hoping your image thumbnails would magically appear here, rather than on an external page (I’ve paid for a subscription.) The issue seems to be with WordPress blogs, but one click on the blue box will take you to view them. If you’ve hosted a link up with a link-up provider, which does work well with WordPress, let me know!

Mark 2

I’m always making something and I never go a day without reading. I’m really missing Ginny’s Yarn Along as I always enjoyed seeing everyone’s posts, so I’ve decided to host my own version.

Please feel welcome to share what you’re knitting or crocheting and reading every Wednesday. Leave a current link below to share your photo with us. Share your photo on your blog, Twitter, Instagram or on Flickr using #yarningalong. Include a link back to this post on your blog etc so others can find us!

It’s the Slouch and Bobble hat mark 2 here! My friend was wearing the first in December, at work in a Special School, and a child grabbed it from her head and threw it over the fence. It’s a bit complicated to explain but although she tried all sorts of ways to retrieve it, including calling the farmer whose field it fell into, she just couldn’t and nor could he. The look on her face was sheepish to say the least, but these things happen. I really don’t mind crocheting another and with something thicker than DK for a change.

My cousin has lent me The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham. I’ve seen the film and can recommend it, particularly for the scene with Liam Hemsworth. Just watch that bit if you’re in need of a cheeky smirk! It’s a bit of a kooky film and Kate’s costumes are fabulous!

I’m a bit nervous; let’s hope your image thumbnails magically appear here, now I’ve paid for a subscription. Please tell your followers about Yarning Along on your blog, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc! The link up will be up from noon on Wednesdays and open all week. Non-fiction books and craft books can be included, just share what you’re reading. There are no hard and fast rules.

Yarning Along: the bunny’s keeping guard

I’m always making something and I never go a day without reading. I’m really missing Ginny’s Yarn Along as I always enjoyed seeing everyone’s posts, so I’ve decided to host my own version.

Please feel welcome to share what you’re knitting or crocheting and reading every Wednesday. Leave a current link below to share your photo with us. Share your photo on your blog, Twitter, Instagram or on Flickr using #yarningalong. Include a link back to this post on your blog etc so others can find us!


I’m enjoying adding to my Star Ripple blanket, my suitcase was full and so I didn’t cram it in to take away last week. It didn’t occur to me to pack it in my handbag either. This was a mistake as there were definitely evenings where a bit of crochet would have been the icing on the cake. (Or on the Millionaire Shortbread I developed an addiction to!)

This week I’m completely absorbed in a very sweet book: Jenny Colgan’s The Summer Seaside Kitchen. I’ve just had a week up in the Highlands of Scotland (where they really do make super shortbread and cover it in caramel and chocolate….!) and so this story, set on a remote island very far north, is perfect.

PS: I know this is not swish as this is the freeebie version, but from next week your thumbnails should show here, as I’ve now subscribed…

Save

 

A third 

Rather than tidy away leftover yarn from The Blackberry Ripple I just grabbed a hook and began another star ripple blanket. It’s such a neat little pattern by Celeste Young and can be found here on Ravelry.

The first, made a few years ago, I gave to my hairdresser for her new baby. She used it as a car blanket and said it was a perfect size. The second I sent off to Knit for Peace along with the Baby Hexagon blanket and the Squares and Stripes blanket. I’m not sure what I’ll do with this third one; I’m not making it for any reason other than to make something new. Ahem, also after my Dry Lent finishes I thought it might be good to take to the pub, when I meet up with other crafty people, as it’s simple and easy. You know what I’m saying?!

I’m still listening to The Trouble with Goats and Sheep  by Joanna Cannon (still very good) and have picked up  The Cursed Child by J.K Rowling et al once again.

Ginny has decided to stop hosting the Yarn Along, while I thoroughly support her decision I am sad because I’ve enjoyed joining in so much. I’m wondering if I could host a similar weekly link-up? But it obviously requires participants…

The final round 

If you’re reading this then you already know how we woolly types like to live life in the fast lane; regularly playing yarn chicken, Googling wool shops whenever we visit somewhere new and fearlessly knitting and crocheting in pubs. So what you see now won’t surprise you…I’m doing the two colour edging rows in one go, the yarns chasing each other around the edge! I know – yikes! 

 I’m listening to The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon and loving it. Actress Paula Wilcox is a great narrator and so far I’ve laughed out loud lots of times. Do you remember the long hot summer of ’76? (My wax crayons melted.)

I’m joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along

Good reminder 

I think I’ve got to that age where written lists and e-reminders flashing up on my iPhone are a vital part of leading an efficient life! If it’s not written down it seems it doesn’t get done some days…I have a brain of custard. Today’s reminder was my weekly Yarn Along alert. It isn’t always helpful to see if I’m strolling along in London or far away from any woolly stuff, but at times it really prompts me to consider what I’m making. You really don’t want to see the same ruby wool for the third week in a row, do you? So what a good motivator it is to start on the border of my ripple. It’s been sat in a bag at the side of the sofa, looking reproachfully at me for a week or two. I haven’t crocheted properly for ages, apart from last week when I took a ball of cotton to a pub craft meet up. I learnt, the hard way, to take the simplest thing as chatter and patterns don’t go well for me, even very simple lace knitting.

I’m now reading After you Left by Carol Mason. I signed up for Kindle First which gives you a no obligation chance to buy books before they’re published, so got this for 99p. I’m getting drawn into the mystery of a husband who disappears on his honeymoon, leaving the scantiest of notes to his new wife, Alice. An older woman has just turned up at the gallery where Alice works and it seems she has a story of her own, with haunting parallels to Alice’s life.

The next time you see this blanket it will be finished. Hurray for Yarn Along reminders!

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