The last two ends 

   These are the last two ends to be darned and then the Bright Stripy Blanket is finished. It’s always a good feeling isn’t it? 

The expected girl turned out to be a boy, rather to the initial shock of my friend, so this is a fairly pink blanket. Rather than the planned lime border I’ve finished it in petrol; to emphasise the blue stripes.  

What are you up to at the moment?

Definitely not knitting 

I’ve got to finish darning my motif blanket (it’s going well and best described as: slow but steady) and crochet lots more stripes. So, I’m still determinedly not going to start knitting anything, or begin any new project, until they’re finished. 

 I can still buy the occasional treats though. A gorgeous pottery coaster and a skein of the most deliciously soft yarn which is 97% baby alpaca, (see the silver sparkles in it?)  along with a little pattern for wristies with a mock cable pattern.
  It would be foolish to begin a new make, when I’ve really got to finish the overdue motif blanket which is for someone else. Equal pleasure can surely be gained from darning and half watching a Pirates of the Caribbean film can’t it? 

   Bright stripes are good for the day after the night before, when one by one leaders are resigning and pundits are still reeling from false predictions. 

What are you definitely not doing? 

Progress being made

  In a way I’m quite pleased the temperatures have dropped to a more typical Springtime coolness. I’ve been quite content to snuggle in my poncho and listen to my current audio book; the very enjoyable ‘Various Pets Alive and Dead’ by Marina Lewycka (stories about a commune called Solidarity Hall up in the North in the late 1960s, read by the excellent Sian Thomas? Oh yes please!) and darn more of my JAYGO ends.

And also in these chillier evenings some more bright striping…

   With some blogs you could be shown a series of photos, without knowing whose they are, and you would instantly know. So many people have favourite colour combos that they use again and again, which are especially recognisable now I’ve followed them for the last 4 – 5 years. But look at these 3 and would you guess it’s me? Admittedly the motif blanket’s colours have been chosen by another, but I’ve realised that since I’ve learnt to crochet I’ve used all kinds of combos and single shades without settling for one over and over again….yet…

What does this (bank holiday) weekend offer?

Bright stripes

       I’m crocheting another stripy baby blanket for a friend, after seeing how much she’s still using the Baby Jewel Blanket for her soon to be two year old. I’ve spotted it in her photos while visiting to Australia, saw it in use in Leeds and a couple of weeks ago it was covering a sleeping toddler in Paris. That blanket is gathering air and train miles!  I can’t tell you how much its made me smile to see it being so well used. It also reassured me that my scant research on how big a baby blanket should be was worth it. To have any longer term use I decided there’s really no point giving a handkerchief sized square, which will only be good when they’re teeny tiny.

I didn’t want the new baby – due in June – to feel left out and so gathered up my balls of Stylecraft. My friend likes bright, is still all for colour equality and is very happy to have another striped blanket. I’m loving zipping along, doing a mixture of trebles, half trebles and the occasional row of double crochet.

My current audio books are Various Pets Alive and Dead by Marina Lewycka and The Life of Lee by Lee Evans.
What are you reading /listening to at the moment?
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Nearly there

  My William Morris inspired motif blanket has been keeping me occupied during the evenings this week. I’ve crocheted a jaygo row each sitting and when I realised I’d done the last row I felt jubilant. This has not been a swift make with all those ends to darn, plus the fact that I designed my own motifs after making a quarter of the original blanket.   Next I need to darn in two ends of yarn for every block then steam block it in sections to get it to relax and motifs to line up. Lastly it needs a border.  I’ve planned the overall size to be roughly 6′ by 4′ so it can be a good sized blanket to snuggle in, but also for the intended use of going at the end of a double bed. It coordinates with a pair of William Morris design curtains; which explains the colour scheme and its name. 

I look forward to wrapping it up in Christmas paper (“Think of it as delayed gratification” I shall say) and presenting it to the person who asked me to make a replacement blanket for the now slightly moth eaten one her Grandmother (my Great-Grandmother) crocheted for her when she was a teen, who chose the colours and who has (mostly) waited patiently for its completion. 

 I might get an Easter egg after all. 

All At Sea Shawl II: blocked, lacy & ready to wear

 For years I’ve read about people blocking their crochet and knitting. They rhapsodise about how lacy it becomes, because it really opens up the stitches. From the way people write you would think blocking almost transforms things into mystical items.
I have never felt the need to do anything, apart from perhaps a quick steam block.  Recently I felt quite adventurous leaving the Catherine Stitch Dolls’ blanket pinned out on the ironing board to thoroughly dry! But I could see that the thin mystery yarn of the All at Sea Shawl was going to need something a bit more professional to unscunch it into maybe a thing of lacy beauty.

 Foam mats from The Early Learning Centre are, I was told by my crochet blocking guru, a good alternative to overpriced craft blocking boards. On reflection those purpose made with lines and measurements on them might be preferable, but my plain mats did the job well enough. It is actually quite enjoyable pinning and stretching the crochet, I was quite surprised how much I liked it. My knees weren’t so happy, but that’s too bad! Look how much it has opened out the stitches? I’m so pleased. Oops! A huge gust of wind carried it off sideways. I didn’t realise I’d captured the moment on my camera until later. It’s been so windy here that I had to close the bedroom window because of the noise last night. I heard things in the garden being blown over and got up to peer out the window a few times, then decided enough was enough. Time to sleep and I’d right it all in the morning. It is a triangular shawl but this was the only way I could get it to stay in one place, even then it flapped up into my face several times. The severely pruned buddleia looks bare and deadwood-like, but it will come back and the flowers will be covered in butterflies again in the summer.

In summary: proper grown-up professional type blocking really does work, although it gets boring to read posts like this (!) and I did enjoy it. Also, the mystery yarn is wool, or partly at least, because it definitely had that wet sheep smell.

Slouch & Bobble Hat: hooked, stitched & ready to give 

The great thing about crocheting this Kat Goldin pattern, from Hook, Stitch and Give, is that it gave me a chance to practice foundation treble crochet (FTC). I admit I looked around for a few online tutorials just to check I was doing it right. Once I was reassured that I needed to have two loops on my hook after going into the chain, it was plain sailing. Sometimes it’s the basics which I find myself double checking.

FTC is basically a way of making a chainless foundation row, you start out with only three chains on the hook but end up with a length of bouncy springy trebles. It’s magic I tell you! FTC is perfect for when you need a stretchy edge. I’m keeping my eyes open for something else which uses this method as it’s cool to try something new.

Because I was making this for a friend I wanted to make sure my tension was a-ok; easier said than done I discovered. The recommended 5mm hook gave me a swatch of 8cm across and 4 cm high…NOT 10cm square. Ok, so change to a 6mm. This swatch was close to 10cm across but still only 4cm high. I chatted to one of my hooky IG friends who has made a couple of these beanies and had exactly the same height issue. I’d love to know if you have the same should you make the same, in the interests of curiosity. I’m not sure how you can correct the height thing unless you change to DTR? In the end I decided to use a 5.5mm hook which gave exactly the right circumference for the starting rib for the brim. I decided to wing it height-wise as I had plenty of yarn.  I used Stylecraft Life Aran which is a wool blend (25% wool, 75% acrylic) in grey and fern. The wool content and texture of the yarn makes it pleasurable to use, aran weight works up so fast compared to DK.  Oh, well would you look at that! I’m tilting again! Hannah of Not Your Average Crochet blog said she liked the pattern so much she was using it for a cushion cover, but hers also tilted quite badly. I don’t think it matters at all for a hat, it just amuses me. It happens because you’re crocheting around and around in one direction.

(ETA:) I missed out the chain between the trebles; as a hooky friend said they made her hat too slouchy/wide. I tried the pattern as written and found the same, so also missed them out.

  I showed it to you pre-sewing up on my last post. Afterwards I decided to measure the height of the beanie. What a plonker….! To be anywhere near slouchy it needs to be much taller. I worked out I’d need to do 13 sets of the repeat rows, rather than the stated 8, then the crown decreases. Undoing really careful darning is painful. I just don’t quite know what happened as I had tried it on lots a few times and run off to check (tea cosy) in the mirror upstairs, but failed to spot it was normal beanie sized, not slouchy.  It’s nicely slouchy and a perfect 27cm now. “Do you think it’s ok? Will she like it?”

“Well if it doesn’t suit her, she can always stick a strap on it and use it as a bag.”

Five things

This looks like pizza doesn’t it? I gave Nigella’s crustless pizza a try at the weekend.  The recipe’s from her Kitchen book. It was revolting; basically cheesy Yorkshire pudding. I ate the topping and a bit of crispy edge then the food recycling bin had the rest. 

Here’s my version of the Slouch and Bobble hat from Kat Goldin’s Hook, Stitch and Give book, sans bobble because I’m getting round to sewing it up. Same old story hey. On me it looks like a tea cosy, but on my friend it will probably look gorgeous! Anyone relate?    I laughed aloud (20th C usage alive and kicking) yesterday to see that behind the garden centre/pick your own/farm shop/fishing lakes/carousel there are llamas in a small field, not the sheep (lambs?) I expected to see. Those llamas are getting everywhere these days! Hurray they sell smoked garlic; I’ve only bought it from the Isle of Wight Garlic Farm before. I love it though my fridge stinks for weeks. A few cloves were delicious in a chicken traybake I threw together last night. Like my fridge I also carried the garlic tang today but it was worth it. 

Five Happy Things type of posts, to be frank, can set my teeth on edge as they are sometimes very syrupy reading, they’re also not the most interesting. Do you remember when the 52 Weeks of Happy blog posts appeared last January? So many gave up writing them by May, if not sooner, because I think people found they were not very interesting to write either. I do enjoy ‘ randoms’ though as they give a bit of snapshot. If you fancy posting your own Five Things add a link below please, so then I can read yours. 

Yorkshire cowl …ready & warm

As you know I bought this yarn during my visit to Holmfirth last Monday. I’ve had my eye on it for ages as I just love the colours, especially the aqua blue and turquoise. As I wrote this title, following a discussion about farming, wool and the great wealth which came from wool in Yorkshire during decades gone by, it occurs to me that if this were one of those ‘big blogs’ there might be uproar from the wool purists. My Yorkshire cowl is made from 100% acrylic. It’s named because I crocheted it during a week there, and it’s always going to remind me of walks by the sea and the coastal path. The Storyboards site gives some information about the paths. Yorkshire Cowl

I chained until I was happy with the width (I hung it around my neck as I crocheted!) and then joined the chain to form a ring, no sewing up required!

James C. Brett Marble Chunky Yarn Shade MC44

I used 175g of the 200g ball

Width (circumference) 36″

Height 11″

6mm hook

>Chain until width desired, join into a ring making sure the chain is not twisted

>Crochet rounds of trebles or doubles or half trebles (UK terms)

Turning chains should be 1 for DC, 2 for HTR, 3 for TR, 5 for DTR. The turning chain for DC does not count as a stitch, all others do.

All doubles, trebles and half trebles go into the back loop of the stitch which creates nice ridges to the fabric.

>Crossed double trebles add a bit of texture and interest to the cowl: Chain 5, *miss a stitch and DTR into the next TR, DTR into the skipped TR* repeat from * to * . Make a single DTR into the last stitch, join with a SS to the top of the chain 5 from the beginning of the round.

Next time I might make the cowl slightly smaller in width, I think maybe 32-34″ but this is really warm and you can fold the excess at the front and tuck it under the rest. These are to show some the scrummy colours in the yarn. Some people are good at selfies, some are not; especially when in windswept Derbyshire visiting Hardwick Hall.

I took the photo below from the ruins of Hardwick Old Hall looking across to the New Hall. It’s ‘new’ as in built in the 16th Century. If you can visit both I recommend it, especially to see the Elizabethan embroidery and tapestries in the New Hall.What are you making at the moment?

So, what happened to the trout?

Whenever I’ve mentioned rainbow trout from time to time, Cathy of NanaCathydotcom has basically said “Mmmmm.” I’ve always kept this in mind, should we ever pass within a decent distance of each other. The funny thing is that three weeks ago we did, in a market town in Wiltshire, though we didn’t know it at the time.

As we are currently in the same county I emailed Cathy and suggested we meet in Scarborough for coffee and Operation Trout.  You know when someone rings you and you find yourself instantly thinking “Oh, I like the sound of her!” Well that was exactly it.

We met at the top of the multi-storey car park, probably looking slightly suspicious as we transferred a wrapped parcel from one cold bag into another, then we all went to Bonnets cafe for coffee and a good chat. It was fun to recognise Mr E’s hand knitted jumper, this must be  is a nerdy blogger thing.

After a bit the guys went off to do their own thing and we headed to the market to peruse the button stall and to Boyes, a local chain of department stores. I’ve always got my dishcloth cotton from Boyes, they also sell quite a good choice of wool blends and acrylics. It’s not top end yarn, but there’s always a ball or two you fancy...

IMG_5160I need the Walnut for the motif blanket and the Claret is just gorgeous, the shade is deeper and yummier than it looks here. The cotton is a present.

Later the Mister and I had a good walk along the beach, then bought a dozen crevettes from the quayside fishmongers to take home for dinner. And that was another good day.

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Ummm I’ve *cough cough* bought some more yarn from the Bridlington Boyes today, with the last of my lottery winnings. It’s for a hat for my friend. I might as well just show you now and then we can all go back to pretending I’m still on a yarn diet.

Walmington on Sea

Today we parked at Bridlington’s North Beach and walked along looking for sea glass. We had a little bag of mostly green pieces by the end, but unusually I’d found zero! My sea glass spotting skills seem to have deserted me, mind you I’ve never thought my beanie would blow off before!

We decided to walk up to Bridlington Old Town after asking directions. When someone says it will take 15-20 minutes to walk, you often find it’s more like 10 as they’re drivers and it’s a guesstimate. This time she was definitely right, it might have even been 30, and it was uphill all the way.

What a nice old High Street, imagine it without cars and it’s perfect.

We knew that Dad’s Army has been filmed here recently, isn’t it perfect for the fictional Walmington on Sea High street? Look what’s been left…

For a fan of the oldie but goodie tv programmes this week is turning out to be a delight! But wait there’s more…

Initially I was horrified that they would remake such a classic but now after today’s sights, and hearing who is in the film I am looking forward to seeing it. The helpful lady also said there is a Facebook page with photos of the actors and the filming, if you’re interested.

After another day of lots of walking I’m going to carry on with some hooky now. I had a slow start this morning sitting in the sunshine…

Just look at those scrummy colours. It’s beautiful yarn isn’t it?

Yorkshire wins

On our way up to Yorkshire we met my cousin and family for Sunday lunch and she gave me this box of freshly laid eggs from her hens. Aren’t they pretty colours? The labelling on the box made me laugh. I think there might be a lucky rooster in the mansion!

On the way up I’d checked my emails and had that heart stopping email titled ‘We have news about your lottery ticket.’ It wasn’t a life changing amount, but £25 is good pocket money. I treated myself to a ball of Marble Chunky I’ve admired for ages because I love the colours, and the new Simply Crochet.

As a fan of Last of the Summer Wine I was delighted on Monday to see some of the haunts of Foggy, Compo and Clegg in Holmfirth, with Trish of Made by Patch. We’ve emailed and sent little packages to each other for over three years, since we began our blogs, so it was fab to finally meet.

 The weather was very wet and gusty, to say the least, so it was good to have lunch and drip dry after our mini tour. This is my ‘Dirty Burger’ from The Old Bridge pub, it was delicious. Obviously you’ll see I went for the healthy option!

We mooched around a few yarn shops and both bought marble chunky. Then we browsed in a secondhand bookshop which is tucked away in one of the narrow lanes. Holmforth is built up the sides of the Holme valley so has many steps and winding alleys, it’s a great place to explore. 

Meanwhile, the Mister was fishing at Scout Dike reservoir where a class of 8/9 year olds and 4 adults came upon him and watched him bring in a second rainbow trout with lots of wows. One little lad said “My Dad fishes up here but he never catches owt!”

Yesterday the weather couldn’t have been more different;  it was around 15 degrees and so warm that we ended up taking off our coats for part of the circular costal walk we did from Flamborough to North Landing, to Flamborough Head and back around to the village.

After the 8.5 mile walk I really felt I deserved my pint mug of tea and chocolate. Today we’ve walked 5.5 miles. I’m keeping a record so I can see how far we’ve walked by the end of the week.

I had a brainwave about the trout on Monday night, and so today met up with someone else. That story is for next time…

A little reinvention

I know it’s now a saga, this honey cowl. As you know, I disliked the feel and look of the Stylecraft Special DK when it was knitted, so swapped to a lovely soft DMC Creative World merino I had in my stash.We all know swatching is important, even vital, but it seems a drag – not that I’ve ever actually done it before. The honey cowl is meant to be 12″ in width, but mine was actually looking like 10″ which meant I was knitting a neck brace! I didn’t think blocking would make 2″ difference so after pondering the inevitable I undid it all. It is best to do this quickly, rewind the yarn into balls and stuff it into a bag out of sight, out of mind!

It’s not great undoing your knitting but I have to admit this was accompanied with a measure of relief – since I found the alternate slip a stitch purl-wise, then purl pattern was really aggravating my golfer’s elbow.

But last night I fancied a quick make while I listened to the last hour of The Minotaur by Barbara Vine. I don’t need another pin cushion so this will go to one of my friend’s charity craft stalls.

I can choose a new audio book on Friday when I get my new Audible credit, do you have any recommendations? 

What are you up to this week? What are you reading? 

All at Sea Shawl II 

It’s so sunny today! A really beautiful morning.


Aren’t the colours in this yarn lovely? I reckon it’s sock or lace weight as it feels quite a bit finer than the 4 ply I used for my Raspberry scarf.

I decided to crochet another All at Sea shawl as the first one I made was with DK and I fancied another go with (probably) the correct weight yarn. The pattern by Elisabeth Davis de Herraiz is available here on Ravelry, or in Simply Crochet 22, if you have a shelf of past issues like me.

I’m going to have to go back to print versions of crochet magazines I reckon; I’m behind with the last two issues of Inside Crochet. I just don’t pick up my ipad and stick to reading them on there; I get distracted by other sites, usually social media. Digital versions are good on the space shaving front, but I do like to see curly page markers poking out of back issues. It’s so much faster and easier somehow to grab one and just think ‘I’ll make that today!’ than to scroll through digital versions. Wow isn’t life hard these days?! It’s all the choice.

This is turning into a ramble when it was meant to be one of those sharp and to the point posts, but I’m re-reading The Thorn Birds and life in outback Australia in the early 20th century was so hard. It’s strange re-reading something I haven’t read since my teens. What I really remember is scenes from the tv series: that white shirt, the ashes of roses dress, Mary the dragon, Fee with the careworn face, the run from him on the beach, Luke/Bryan the b****** who ended up marrying Meggie/Rachel in real life afterwards, though at the time I couldn’t understand why…. Skipping the descriptive passages then to get ‘to the good parts’ means that it’s quite a different read this time around, especially as I’ve spent lots of time in Australia. It’s a good book actually, much better than I expected.

It’s noticeable that when an author dies their books leap up the bestseller lists. I bought Judith Kerr’s When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit (surprisingly humorous given the subject matter and the fact that it’s semi-autobiographical) and The Thorn Birds for this reason; seeing that they were suddenly in the eye-catching Kindle top ten sellers.

I’ve completely lost the flow of this crochet post now and am thinking about The Thorn Birds book, combined with mixed up memories of the tv series!
In summary: This is my new make and I’m re-reading a long-ago-read-book. I now need to decide what kind of pudding I’m making for family dinner at the weekend!

What are you making, reading, planning?

ETA: Apologies – Judith Kerr is still among us! See comments below. 

Five things 

I’m making a few loaves of bread again at a time, one to eat and the other(s) to freeze. The freezer lately seems to be full of stewed apples from the glut last Autumn, and frozen trout because of my knowing a talented fly fisherman. No sooner had I baked two loaves on Sunday than 3 whopping fish were brought home; one brown and two rainbow trout. Luckily family and friends are more than happy to have them as they are or potted or smoked.

BBC radio 2 are broadcasting Sounds of the 20th Century, it’s ‘An audio journey through five decades, starting at 1951. Archive recordings include George VI overcoming his stammer to open the Festival of Britain.’  I’m going to try to listen to them on the iplayer because it’s fascinating; no commentaries or explanations, just music, news, programme clips etc from each year. I’m listening to the first from 1951 now.
“The average housewife works for 75 hours each week and does overtime at weekends….according to a Mass Observation study…”

“Coupons will continue to be required for meat, cheese….”

Poor little Princess Margaret “born into disappointment as the Nation longed for a little Prince.”

It is compelling listening for a social and economic history junkie.

On a Saturday jaunt to Marlborough it was lovely to see clumps of snowdrops under trees. It really feels as if Spring is on its way now; with blue skies and sunshine, albeit interspersed with showers. Washing has been hung on the line a few times this week already and partially dried in the gentle breeze, this is a very good thing.

Johnnie Ray is now being asked about why he cries as he sings and how long he’s worn hearing aids. We’ve just watched the three Rock and Chips specials on Netflix (an excellent prequel to Only Fools and Horses) and his music was featured in the first one…

I’m a terrible procrastinator where some things are concerned, like sewing up knitting. This little baby jumper was something I knitted it in 2013, just something I saw in a knitting mag and thought I could give to a friend. I also knitted a cat (recently sewn up by a Nana in my friend’s craft group, which sells items in aid of the Deaf Access charity) and a tank-top which I subsequently undid. I blogged about the sewing up then. Oops.

Forty thousand feathers on a thrush!”

The silly thing is that I did the sewing while listening to my current audio book: The Minotaur by Barbara Vine (excellently narrated by Sian Thomas) and it was really painless. I guess in the interests of complete honesty I should admit that it took so long to finish because my cousin had it for ages, it was she who actually sewed it up. But I sewed on the buttons! This took several months, but it’s all done now.

You are the lone ranger!”The next is better; I sewed up my headband. It only took 2 weeks or so after finishing it. Improvement, yes? Here it is with a little card, ready for posting. The P.O has put in self-service machines and for some reason I really got flustered trying to gauge the size of the packet, type in the address for a proof of posting certificate etc. It was all too much but the new cheese counter take-a-ticket-wait-for-the-number-to-be-called wait was far too long.

“…without cotton many mills in Lancashire would close down…”The friend who sent me Clara Parkes knitting book also popped in two balls of yarn. This one was bought in iknit, London, she was going to make an entrelac something or other but ended up unravelling it without keeping the yarn band. It feels like wool, or a good wool blend, and is sock or lace weight (are these really so similar in weight that they are virtually the same?) I like using a really fine thread, it’s different.

“There will be more houses to let, more houses to sell, more houses for everyone…..the Conservative pledge will be kept in full…”

“The time is now six fourteen and three quarters…”  What an excellent programme, if distracting listening to it while writing here.

What are you enjoying listening to or reading at the moment?

If you write your own Five Things post then feel free to add a link in the comments below, then we can all see what you’ve been up to.

** I just had a text and selfie of the headband being worn, this was super fast delivery as I only grappled with the self-service machine yesterday! It looks really nice and will definitely be in use next week on the ski slopes. Hurrah!**

Mostly ends with one beginning

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See the golden coloured ‘square’?  I took this photo to: “You’re in the way of the rugby!” Well, the light was best in front of the tv and it was Valentine’s Day, sheesh! Even so this isn’t the clearest photo, but we’re trapped under iron skies here. I didn’t notice that I’d pulled it out of shape arranging the piece on the carpet. When I went to add more hexagons to fill in the gaps I realised it was in the wrong place completely and it would be far too fiddly to add one in with all the sides to be joined. Bye Bye Goldie.
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I finished the Vanessa headband, it’s blocked and posed to be mattress stitched up. This is my issue with knitting; joining crochet with crochet is not a problem, because it’s crochet. Sewing knitting up makes me start yawning even at the thought of it.
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I have until a few days before 28th, then it needs to be posted to its new home because it’s then flying off to Austria skiing for a week. Clever headband!
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Yet more ends to be sewn. I have another boxful of motifs ready to JAYGO to my William Morris inspired blanket, but they must be darned beforehand. I’ve set myself a 5-a-day plan like last time. But oh it’s boring. Crochet a motif, darn that motif is a great idea, but I enjoy the flow of making them and seeing little stacks pile up.
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I started this circular Honey Cowl while listening to the last part of The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins audio book. It seemed pretty obvious early on who dunnit, although I still found the story quite gripping overall.

So, there’s going to be no sewing up! Which is a Baldrick style cunning plan, I think. It’s not posh yarn and I did wonder how I’m going to feel about wearing Stylecraft Special DK; but it’s really soft and consistent for knitting. I’ve only ever used it for crochet blanket making, but I just didn’t want to start with a nicer yarn (I have some Tosca Light left over from Brian) and run out mid way.

Do you use Stylecraft for wearable knitting or crochet? How do you find it?

Timely surprises

What a week!

I’d had a very efficient start to the year, getting all those boring but necessary appointments and tasks ticked off a long list. I was feeling rather pleased with it all last week. The Mister brought the first surprise – my favourite Austrian chocolates from Stockholm airport on his way home after a week working there again. It was great to see him, after all the socializing over Christmas the house had suddenly become far too quiet. Then…he started feeling unwell and coughing. I definitely wasn’t getting it too, so went to bed early, took vitamin C and started off the next day with a scratchy throat…

2015/01/img_4819.jpgA few days later my cousin sent me a quick message to say she had posted one of my Christmas presents. I wasn’t entirely sure why because we often have a late Christmas catch up a few weeks or months after. One year it was in June, to the amusement of restaurant staff who watched as we all exclaimed over pretty wrapping and enthused about a pile of gifts!

I’ve found this about last year’s late Christmas. I never really look back at my blog posts but I might start; to see what I was doing this time last year(s).
2015/01/img_4817-0.jpgAh! What a great present. I can totally see why she sent it this week. I’ve looked at those make an origami-whatever or solve a daily crossword type of calendars, but have never seen a crochet version. It’s an American product which my cousin saw in a garden centre here. I bet you can buy one online.

Because I have GOT to keep on with the William Morris motif blanket I haven’t looked all through the January patterns as it’s too tempting to start some, but there are a some sweet makes.
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I am itching to make those mitts. I’ve never done granite stitch but saw a Kat Goldin pattern in a recent crochet mag which uses it. That’s going to be my next new stitch soon.

The third surprise was from my friend who has been sent free tickets to go to Excel to the Stitching, Sewing and Hobbycrafts show in March, and wondered if I wanted to go with her. Yes please, thank you actually!
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I haven’t really been able to do anything other than cough, ache, wheeze, shiver and groan crochet and watch Netflixs: Life on Mars, Black Books and the excellent BBC version of The Lady Vanishes, or listen to my current audio book: Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O’Farrell. I’ve darned all the ends on the little doll blanket and now it’s ready to edge. I think it needs something very simple like rows of DC to finish it off, anything else will be too over the top.
2015/01/img_4837.jpgYesterday we both turned a corner, despite coughing in tandem at 5am. In the end we gave up trying to sleep and got up and made mugs of tea at six to take back to bed. Later I felt well enough to cook a little batch of cheese scones, then I collapsed back onto the sofa for a bit of Glee S4. But still, I felt better than I had the rest of the week.

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Last night the football was on and so I immersed myself in the new issue of Country Living which came yesterday. It’s a Springtime goodie and full of lovely designs in greens and blues. I became completely engrossed in this article about British hedgerows. When I’m enthused about something I can’t help sharing what I’m reading and giving impromptu pop quizzes. “So, how many thousand miles of hedgerows do you think we have?” “How many of our lowland mammals’ habitats are in hedgerows?” “How can you estimate the age of a hedgerow?” Luckily I get away with this and had some intelligent answers and a bit of chat, alongside the football commentary. The article brought back long-ago memories of a hedge layer giving my primary school class a talk and demonstration of his craft. It’s so interesting.

How’s your week been?

 

Treats, rewards and more baby hexagons

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This is a progress photo from earlier in the week, it’s 28 days worth of a baby hexagons. Well, what can I say? They are addictive and so easy to make! But LOOK – 28 only measure just over 16″, so for a decent sized blanket by 31st December we’re going to need to crochet one a day, plus lots more!

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So now I’ve kind of abandoned the whole baby hexagon a day concept. Although a one a day CAL is a lovely idea I don’t think this one was properly thought through measurement-wise. So now I’m just doing a batch when I feel like it, and I plan to continue this throughout the year. It’s impossible to just make one a day anyway, the one turns into five or sometimes (prepare yourself) I don’t feel like crocheting anything at all.

Isn’t it turning out pretty though? I’m using leftover yarn from my zesty raspberry ripple blanket and pinching colours that I’m using for my motifs. It will change though as the plan at the moment is to add new colours from whatever I’m making in Stylecraft as the year goes on.

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When I decided to redesign my William Morris colour inspired motifs I was slightly panicked by going from a blanket which was a third complete, with a basket of semi-finished motifs to absolutely zero. So I hooked new versions without pausing to darn any at all. Argh! I ended up with so many ends that I’ve had to stop and do nothing but darning. Argh! On Sunday I divvied the remainder into seven little piles to tackle like homework each night. I missed last night because I was out, but it’s a good idea to tackle the last of a tiresome job in small bits. For the next fifty motifs I will make one, darn it, then move onto the next. I really will.

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I saw my dentist last week “Ah you always have stunningly good teeth” he said before I even opened my mouth! Afterwards I bought a bone handled 1935 cake knife made to commemorate the silver jubilee of George V who was the Queen’s Grandfather. It was a bargain £4, after some Googling it seems most online sellers are asking £15 plus for one! I bought it because I really wanted a cake knife, rather than grabbing the first knife which comes to hand when we have guests, but what a lovely find.

This week I’ve had an eye test. Have you ever been shown photos of the back of your eyes? It’s amazing being talked through how they can tell you probably haven’t got diabetes or glaucoma, and seeing your optic nerve captured in action. I hate the puff of air and the flashing light so the new book by the very talented Kat and a cheese scone for lunch were my rewards! I’m thankfully now at the end of my mini MOT…
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I’m so lucky to have been given membership to the V&A in London, officially known as The Victoria and Albert Museum. I’ve used my card for the first time and loved swooping into the Wedding Dresses exhibit with a simple flash of my card. Do go if you can before it ends. You “Wow!” your way around. I also visited the members’ room which was described to me by a room guide as ‘the inner sanctum’. It was certainly very peaceful and comfortable. The water jugs were donated by Waterford Crystal and even the tray is lovely! My membership includes a guest so I’m hoping to take friends and family to events over the year. Thank you Father Christmas.
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I’ve baked my first loaf of Artisan bread in my new cooker. I started to use silicon coated baking paper last Autumn because you can place it gently down into the heated pyrex while safely holding the strips of paper. I adjust the oven temp down to 220 oc from the recipe’s 230 oc to comply with the paper’s instructions, but this oven has a much better seal and there is a huge gust of steam as you open the door. I’d quite forgotten ovens do this and have had a hot facial a few times. The problem is this time the paper became melded to the bottom of the loaf. It might have been a wetter dough than usual, or the new oven. While I’m not fussy I don’t like the chewy texture of silicon. (Yes, I did try it.) So I might go back to gently plopping the loaf in sans silicone because it’s a tragedy to have to cut the crust off.
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How’s the third week of 2015 going for you?

Baby hexagon a day blanket

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

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

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

Baby hexagon pattern

UK terms

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

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

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

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

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

Darn in the ends.

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

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

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

Are you joining the baby hexie a day gang?

New Year

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Happy New Year everyone! It’s all ahead of us, isn’t that a wonderful feeling?

I bought a brand new Filofax in the sales with some of my Christmas money, no more black for me – oh no, it’s pink flowers all the way! This morning I’ve gone through my book list, seeing how many I read last year and writing down what I’m reading at the start of 2015. I always happily spend some time sorting my pages and new diary out this way at the beginning of each new year. I’m not giving up paper and pen for everything online. I’m a happy mix of the 20th and 21st centuries.

We’ve been away and cozying up back at home, with the fairy lights still twinkling, is definitely the best thing today as it was a winter wonderland when I woke. The temperature was only 0 oc at 10:00, now it’s gone up to a balmy 1 oc at 1pm! I De-Christmassed yesterday evening to an extent, in that I took down the cards and decorative bits and bobs, but have left the lights around the fireplace. It’s twelfth night on 6th and so they will go then.

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On the last afternoon of 2014, New Year’s Eve, I decided to try something new that I’ve liked the look of for a long time. Catherine wheel stitch is fun. Treble 7 together is a new one. The hook is full of loops by the final yarn over! I was a bit apprehensive about it, the stitch looks tricky. Like everything it’s fine when you’ve completed a few rows. This is going to be a baby doll blanket for a friend’s toddler. I saw some gorgeous photos of the nearly two year old opening her baby doll on Christmas Day and decided she must have a bespoke blanket. This toddler is the baby for whom I crocheted the baby jewel blanket. I gave it to her when she was a day old in hospital. Eeek! Where do the years go?!

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Last night I saw a great new CAL that Ali Campbell has started – a baby hexagon a day blanket. It took me ages to decide how I wanted to jaygo (join as you go! Why have I never seen this fantastic acronym before?) them together – should I do 2 joins or 3 along each side? I finally decided to stick with 2 as they retain their shape better. So, are you joining me? They are really small at 1 3/4″ point to point. Of course yours might might be tinier – it depends on the yarn and your tension. The pattern is on Ali’s first hexie photo in the comments. Search for #babyhexagons or #babyhexieaday on Instagram for others taking part.

By the way join IG. Just do it. The crafty pics and micro blogging of it is superb. All the best bloggers are there and so many other talented makers. It’s a total inspiration machine.
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My third make is the William Morris motif blanket. It’s regenerated Dr Who style because…

::I didn’t like the magic ring of the motifs, so decided to chain 6 and make a foundation ring, but then that meant the blanket was a combination of both and likely to pull apart from some middles and not the others. I keep reading horror stories (ok, it’s only crochet, not life or death, but it’s a lot of time and energy in the making) about how magic rings can pull out gradually and work unravels from the middle, even with careful darning.

::Join as you go is great, but I was hating it for the old motifs because of the combination of stitches after the joining slip stitch. It was no fun and even the Mister noticed that I wasn’t enjoying the crochet.

::I disliked the way the chained parts of the motifs were lying rucked up against each other. I probably should have realised that they would look better being shorter but don’t usually change motif patterns, especially as they had looked great in the book.

I woke several mornings in November thinking about the need to change the whole blanket. If there’s something you repeatedly think of first thing upon waking then that’s what you need to spend some time on. I’ve now designed my own motif, as you see it’s trebles into the initial ring, rounds of clusters and two rounds of groups of granny style trebles. I’m joining them as I go and it’s stress free. The blanket is a strip again but I have over 50 motifs ready to darn and join. It’s made lots more work with so many ends to darn in, but the texture of the motifs is pleasing and they’re going to make nice snugly weight blanket.

I really like having these three very different projects to pick up and work on at the beginning of a new year. What are you making at the moment?

2014

Have you had a good Christmas? I’m sitting here with the fairy lights twinkling, presents in piles around the sofa, cards on the mantlepiece along with the stub of the seemingly everlasting Advent candle which finally spluttered to an end last night during Harry Potter. I love Crimbo-limbo, that special time between Christmas and New Year when life seems to go in slow motion.

Looking back at my blog photo archive I’ve found so many projects I started and then unravelled for different reasons. It seems to have been the year of procrastination, trial and error. I hadn’t realised until now. But I have gathered some highlights and favourite makes from my crafting year…

Looking back at my end of year galleries from 2012 and 2013 I’m amazed at the number of things I’ve crocheted, knitted and sewn which I’ve forgotten about! Lots has been given to family and friends and so it must be a case of out of sight, out of mind.

Today it’s my blog birthday, 3 years old! It was originally a way to record my progress as I practiced my fledgling crochet skills online diary styley. I always thought that to be mentioned in a crochet magazine one day would be the icing on the cake, although that was obviously never going to happen. Wrong! This blog and my crochet have now been featured in Inside Crochet as part of their Our Favourite Blogger feature, and earlier this year Simply Crochet paid me to design a Springtime brooch for an issue of the magazine. Also, I’m still delighted that photos I posted after a birthday lunch were used in Decanter magazine. Ca-ching!

So where do I go from here? I carry on making, of course. This is what’s happening on and off between slabs of Christmas cake and hot chocolate after hikes in the freezing cold: the what-I-call William Morris motif blanket has regenerated, and I’m busy darning in ends as I make each stack of motifs, but more about that next year…

The Zesty Raspberry Ripple was received with great praise for the colour choices “they’re really me, I love the raspberry and greys together, and lime green is my favourite colour.” It barely left my sister in law’s side after she unwrapped it. Excellent.

Thank you for all your likes, comments, emails and messages on social media this year. It’s been fun. Let’s do it again in 2015.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Zesty Raspberry Ripple Blanket – FINISHED!

I did finish the rest of the darning in and the border on Monday night, just a day over my self-imposed schedule. Ya-hoo! I’m really pleased with this ripple. The colour scheme is different to any I’ve done before and that’s good – variety is definitely my spice of life! It’s soft and very warm.

It’s a present for my sister in law and although she didn’t pick the colours I ran my idea of a raspberry pink, greys, some purple and navy by her. I wanted to make something which reflected the colours she wears and which I know she particularly likes. She told me that lime is her absolute favourite, so it became the zesty raspberry ripple. (Everything needs a name.)

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Initially I was just going to border it with trebles and simple rows of double crochet, I don’t think ripples need fancy edging or trim, but I started to want to do something a bit more decorative. Then I remembered Lucy, of Attic 24 blog, had made some pretty edging on her Interlocking Ripple. This is basically a row of dc 1, ch 1, miss a st, dc 1, ch 1, miss a st and so on. Then you make a spike stitch when going along the next row. This is a dc which you think will be going into the missed stitch space, but actually pops into stitch in the row below the missed stitch. Easy! It sounds complicated but it’s not at all once you get going. With spike stitches you have to make sure your tension is relaxed, not too tight, not too loose – otherwise  the whole edge with curl up, or the stitch will be a floppy loop.

As I was on the home straight, and keen to finish, I double crocheted the last two rows bit by bit –  the lime chasing the pink around the edge! For the corners I worked 2dc, ch 2, 2 dc in the pink but I found 1 dc , ch 1, 1 dc better for the lime row.

Before wrapping the ripple I will give the border a steam block, just to make sure it’s all flat and relaxed. It’s a good finisher.

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Getting good photos has been VERY tricky with the dull weather, today it’s bright outside but very cold and damp. I didn’t want to risk the blanket getting dirty if I tried hanging it from the washing line.

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I came up with a good plan in the making – for the first half I grabbed yarn colours randomly, with a little thought but nothing that made my head hurt. I’ve found while making blankets that by the halfway mark the whole thing is not as exciting. I just want to go on and finish. So, I crocheted another row and then just worked back through the colours, copying what had gone before. If you fold it in half on the middle row (of graphite) the whole blanket is symmetrical.

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Zesty Raspberry Ripple Details:

4 mm hook

Stylecraft Special DK – 7 shades:

Silver
Grey
Graphite (the darkest grey in the ripple)
Raspberry
Lime
Emperor (“penguin” – I hear this everytime.)
Midnight

Weighs: 1,295kg
Width: 117cm, 46″ (2″ short of 4′)
Length: 183cm, 72″ (6′)

Starting chain: 213 (Attic 24 Neat Ripple Pattern)

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I’m darning all the ends before I do any more of the William Morris motif blanket. During the making of this ripple I have reminded myself that it’s painful to leave them all till the end!

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At the weekend

It’s been a lovely weekend, the kind where you pack lots and lots in and enjoy it all. The washing machine is whirling around as I type, the carpet needs hovering and dust is floating but it can all wait.
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On Saturday I went to ExCel, at the London Docklands, with a good friend for the Simply Christmas craft show. I haven’t been before and imagined sparkles, tinsel and decorations galore. It all began with a bit of a bang as we entered the space; a woman with a lot of bags was trying the dodge the staff on the way out. A member of staff was shouting that she couldn’t leave until security had been called. Apparently the woman had been caught stealing a few items and had more bags that hadn’t been searched. When my friend bought fat quarters from a few different stalls none gave receipts, so how to prove you’ve paid for items? We decided you’d need to make memorable comments, or talk with a really weird accent, during purchases just to make sure of being remembered.

The sleigh and everything you see above is made from sugar. The Grotto was full of sugary Christmas scenes and smelt absolutely delicious!

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The main focus seemed to be paper crafts and fabric. Black Sheep Wools had a stand and there were a few other small yarny tables, but not many. It’s probably for the best. Most of the show was just plain stalls selling what they might sell at any other time of year. The majority hadn’t decorated at all and there was a distinct lack of any sign of Christmas. We weaved from the beginning, along the stalls in row A, and so on, and by the middle we found a decorated tree and a couple of singers performing seasonal songs. Things seemed to be morphing into Christmas.Then we saw the sugary grotto and the display of Christmas makes above.

I particularly enjoyed watching some art workshops. Two or three fairly large groups of people sat imitating the artists who stood at the front with a fixed camera showing their techniques as they worked. This was shown on a large screen so the participants could listened to explanations and paint or draw along, using watercolours or pastels. They all ended with their own representations of the same picture, it was rather impressive. I wish I could draw!

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Mmmmm chocolate. But I’m not buying any until we go to Brussels on a jaunt to the Christmas market. I’ve never been on the Eurostar train which travels under the English Channel, it’s going to be fun.

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After ExCel we headed to do the really cool thing we’d run out of time for last time; The Fan Museum in Greenwich. Maybe it’s not the most exciting visit, but there is impressive painting and workmanship. If you’re really clever and concentrate you can name all the parts of a fan and explain how they’re made. As you walk inside the rather lovely town house you can imagine the Upstairs, Downstairs lives played out there in the past.

We’re both a little addicted to Groupon, Living Social and Amazon Local deals so anything gets seriously considered; especially if it’s under £5 or £10. This year we’ve done all sorts of outings and activities, as we take it in turns to book the next thing. My friend bought the Fan Museum deal as it was £2 (it’s £2 if you’re a National Trust member anyway, by the way.) The next deal I’ve booked for us is a Charles Dickens London walking tour. We’ve been on the It’s a Ripper and Ghost walking tours this year, and I figure we’ll need the post-Christmas exercise in January.

We then went for a wander in Greenwich park as the light began to fade and wondered where we fancied going next.
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Generally, if in doubt, a pub is always a good choice. I haven’t drank in The Gypsy Moth for ages. It was still light when we arrived and only 11 degrees, so we sat in the garden looking at the twinkling lights as the light fell. There was more, but I’ve run out of photos and it really involved more tube travel, the O2 and dinner. And that, was another good day.

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On Sunday the Mr and I went to Blenheim Palace to see the Christmas decorations and rather speed walked through the rooms as we’d already seen the Ai Weiwei exhibition. I bet the attendants thought the pair of us were philistines, only there to visit the shop.

The stilt walker was hilarious, Someone wondered how he ties his shoes…

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I wouldn’t mind eating Christmas Dinner at the Marlborough’s table.

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And home for a mug of tea and some crochet. I promised myself that when all the ends were all darned I could download and read the new Inside Crochet. Apparently I always say “Next time I’ll darn as I go.”
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And she’s off….!

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I’d planned to finish the zesty raspberry ripple by the end of the month. I was soooo close. Last night I did darn in the rest of the ends, and trebled along both sides. Tonight I’m going to complete the rest of the border, if it’s only a day off that’s not so bad, is it?

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This was taken last night under a lamp, so the colours are rather muted. It’s so soft and warm, I know it’s going to used lots and appreciated. I’ll do a ‘FINISHED’ post with all the yarn details soon.

How was your weekend?

Homemade compliments

I’ve just read Sarah of Crafts from the Cwtch blog post about how her new knitted Colourblock Shawl has prompted compliments from strangers on the street. This reminded that when I wore my crocheted ribbed scarf to evening class on Tuesday I was complimented on the colours. It’s so gratifying to make something handmade and have it noticed. (For the right reasons!) Shop bought rarely gathers compliments; I guess the colours and designs can be too generic to stand out.
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If you want to crochet a ribbed scarf the pattern’s here. Or, you could dig out your knitting sticks and make Sarah’s cosy shawl.
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Currently I’m rippling away still, full speed ahead. The end is in sight, bar the darning and border. I have about 19 more stripes to crochet and I’m whizzing along to (don’t judge me) Glee: season 4. I gave up on Glee at the beginning of series 3 which was shown years ago here. It was so samey and they looked far, far too old to still be hanging around a High School music room! Series 4 was apparently broadcast two years ago, most of the originals have moved onwards and upwards which makes it fun seeing their next steps. It keeps me singing along as I fiercely hook, hook, hook on the sofa. To be honest I am absolutely dying to make some small fun makes, but I know I have to get the zesty raspberry ripple finished and then go back to the motif blanket. Both WILL be completed in time for Christmas.

What are you up to?

The gloves are on

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What a change from the end of last week. The scarf, hat and glove box is live. Typical autumn weather has returned.

This week one of my new v stitch scarves had its first outing, and I wore my fingerless mitts. Only twice though, then I swapped them for proper gloves. Fingers and all as it’s now dropped 10-12 degrees. I had to laugh, as a lady at the bus stop saw me wearing the fingerless pair and said she’d been wondering about them, and if “they really work.”

It’s a rainy Saturday and the Wales v Australia rugby match is playing out on the TV. I’ve got Bose noise cancelling headphones on, catching up with Liza Tarbuck’s show from last Saturday on the BBC radio iplayer. The music’s so good that I’m sofa bopping as I ripple.

What are you up to?

Fashion and Textile Museum: Knitwear, Chanel to Westwood

Yesterday a friend and I went to the latest exhibition at the London Fashion and Textile museum in Bermondsey. I’ve visited a few exhibitions there before (Kaffe Fassett and Bellville Sassoon.) It really is a gem of a place. Originally founded by Zandra Rhodes in 2003, it’s now operated by Newham college.
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Before buying our tickets a few weeks ago I’d Googled to see if there were any discounts. It’s so worth doing this before buying anything online. The results showed an Amazon Local deal several pounds cheaper, with vouchers for two hot drinks at the cafe. While I waited for my friend I used mine, I’m not sure why I chose hot chocolate as it was 21 degrees by mid morning! This is very strange weather for October – though beautiful.

The exhibition brochure begins: ‘Knitting is one of the most fundamental textile techniques, produced from a continuous yarn and simple needles, yet its origins are shrouded in the mists of time. Early examples of knitting dating from Coptic and Egyptian cultures still exist, along with hats, stockings and knitted undergarments from the sixteenth century…”

Most of the examples of knitted and crocheted garments are from a private collection and the exhibition ‘reflects the emotions we invest in objects.’

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I took this with the wacky and wonderful Jill in mind. At the moment she’s busy crocheting rhino horns for beanies. That seems to be one of her typical working days.

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This is an Edwardian wool petticoat from 1907. Can you imagine wearing it under layers of clothing?

To read some blogs there are current designers and makers who write as if they invented ripple and chevron patterns, but in 1907 (and probably long, long before) women were choosing red and black wool and rippling away. It’s quite humbling isn’t it? Nice too, to think we’re just many in a long history of the craft.

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How old is this crochet dress? When would you date it?
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It’s from H&M and was sold in the 1990s. Did it fool you, like it fooled us?
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Items from the 1940s Make Do and Mend era during The Second World War. There are examples of old dresses reworked into new skirts and garments knitted or crochet from many oddments of wool.
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The exhibition is not without faults I’m sorry to say. Some other women we chatted to felt that there was not enough information about how items were made and they regretted not being able to see garments from all angles. Curiously the displays were standing in what looked like giant packing crates. Signage is rather unclear so it takes some time to work out which garment information refers to. I found displays on top of crates really frustrating. They were at least 7′ up in the air and you couldn’t see them clearly. Why?!

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Wonderful fair isle tank tops. As we read the info the four of us all chorused – before we came to it – “And the Prince of Wales was sent one and wore it to see the GOLF and that’s how fair isle became famous.” It’s obviously one of those tidbits that everyone remembers.

There was much more to see and this is just a taster. The exhibition is there until January 18th. Although we experienced some irritations with the display I would still recommend visiting if you can, as the sheer range of items is interesting. I heard many cameras clicking and comments as people recollected similar clothing they, or their Grannies, used to wear!

Afterwards we walked towards the river. Look at all those t-shirt wearing people. In October! In London! ENGLAND! I was one of them, because thank goodness I checked my weather app before I left home.
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Looking across the river we could see that the area around the Tower of London was busy, but it wasn’t until today that I heard of the surge of people who took advantage of half term’s sunny weather to go and see the poppy installation, a memorial for the British and Colonial soldiers who died in the First World War. Apparently Tower Bridge tube station had to close several times during the day. And now visitors are asked to delay going until next week because of the crowds.
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Isn’t Tower Bridge pretty? Spotted the bird?

Next we aimed to walk to Greenwich, along the Thames path as far as we could go, as we had tickets to visit somewhere really cool (not at all) but paused at The Angel, Rotherhithe for some of Samuel Smith’s Yorkshire finest. Sitting on the outside balcony watching the river craft passing, hearing the water lapping below while soaking up the sun turned out to be a very good thing too. When the sun shines like that you make the most of it. And the other thing will have to wait until the end of the month.

Happy November to you.

Woolly jumpers on!

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It was such a lovely day on Sunday; 17 deg and no need for a warm jacket. We sat on a bench and I was just saying how perfect it was to put your head back and feel the warm rays on your face, when I clonked my head on the back of the bench. I’d like to say this is a rare kind of clonk, but sadly it’s not. At a friend’s housewarming I apparently threw myself down onto her sofa, after unpacking lots of boxes, and hit my head on the bookcase which had been placed behind. I don’t really remember that one. Maybe I concussed myself!

Anyway. the walk, weather and sight of the trees, berries and wild fungi were beautiful. I really LOVE autumn. Always have.

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This is the first one I’d seen this season, on Sunday, but then I stumbled into full-on Christmas yesterday in a ‘room’ in Homebase. I like it in October, that’s when I begin to get little tingles about Christmas, the colourful lights and decorations to come. By December the relentlessness of it has worn me down somewhat, then on the actual few days it’s all fun again. Until the next year…

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The weather’s gone back to typically autumn temps with wind and rain featuring quite a bit this week. But the advantage of autumn and winter blanket making is being able to cosy under them while you crochet! The ripple is over half-way now and I’ve come up with a really cunning plan about the design. More on that another day.

Shotgun Lovesongs - Picador I’m really enjoying my Shotgun Lovesongs audio book. It’s perfect for rippling along to. The four main characters: Henry, Beth, Lee and Ronnie are dramatised by different narrators/actors. I’m loving the the way a couple of them pronounce words like ‘orange’ and ‘mirror’! I’m not sure if that’s due to them aiming to sound like authentic Wisconsinsites, but I likey.

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Tonight I’m making fish chowder for dinner. It’s a Lesley Waters recipe and you can find it here.

 

What are you cooking, eating, making, reading?

Cosy crocheting

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Because I’m fed up of having a really fluffy patch of carpet near my sofa I’ve come up with a cunning plan and fetched something from the kitchen for my ball of yarn. It’s a very stylish yarn bowl, don’t you agree? It’s working well and actually the ball unravels with ease, without constant tugging.

I shall have to get back on to my very good bloggy friend Trish of Made By Patch and see if her father is going to make me a super wooden yarn bowl like he made her. You’d think a lottery winner could buy anything she wanted wouldn’t you?
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So, I finished Brian the v stitch scarf / cowl the other day (I had just 7″ left to do in the top pic) and decided to continue something which would keep me as toasty as possible while I hooked. As I sit writing this in the gloom, at 430pm, I realise that it’s never really become light today, it’s Britain’s infamous iron sky.
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Still, there was porridge for breakfast, homemade butternut and sweet potato soup with crispy bacon pieces sprinkled on top. I may push the boat out and have a low cal chocolate coconut drink next. Comfort food and drinks along with cosy crochet are the benefits of autumn.

Are you warm or chilly? What is keeping you cosy?

I won £25 on the lottery Saturday night. Woo hoo!

CROCHET

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Lately I’ve been whipping up dishcloths. I’ve tried a few different, slightly fancier, versions in the past but apparently the plain and simple trebles give good scrub-ability! I’ve been knitting or crocheting dishcloths for several years now as they’re very popular with a few relatives. One boils hers every week and so it’s been a stringent test of my darning! (Passed. Gold star.)

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I’m trying to get on with the motif blanket now. I’ve crocheted one motif in about four weeks so have to really get cracking ….tra la la la la, la la la la and all that….

I’ve darned as I’ve gone lately, but as you see some of the motifs I began with are not yet; so the middles are a bit pulled out, they’ll be nice and tightly uniform at the end.

Are you crocheting at the mo?

Brian – V Stitch Scarf / Cowl

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A couple of people have asked me what I’m crocheting at the moment. I should be concentrating on my motif blanket, and ripple, but I’m really enjoying simple crochet. I woke yesterday feeling really unwell and today don’t feel much better, and this is perfect. I watched my first Disney film, Tangled, in years yesterday afternoon. Maybe the first since the Little Mermaid? I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed it, that’s a definite sign of my custard brain. The animation seems more like 3D than before, perhaps Disney have had to adapt their technology to keep up with Pixar type films? The characters, especially Rapunzel, looked just like Blythe dolls, all huge eyes and small faces.

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I had some good news – Lang have NOT stopped making Tosca Light it’s just that for some reason I couldn’t find it on their website. I’m so pleased. If you look under Autumn / Winter on their website you’ll see the range of colours. (I know…they should make me a Tosca Light ambassador.) Lang is a Swiss company in case you’re wondering, TL is made in Italy.

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I’ve been looking out for other types of v stitches in my Harmony Guide to Crochet Stitches. I was lucky enough to find it in a charity shop for a song a few years ago. They call this one Three-and-Two Stitch, it’s descriptive but a bit dull…

I’ve run out of yarn as I had only one 100g ball left and my scarves tend to need 150-200g as I like them lonnnng. Time to find some more. If I won the lottery I’d just fill a room with it. Oh, why not a house actually?

I was really pleased to hear that Kate’s (Greedy for Colour) Mum; Mrs A in Australia (Rambling with me) is crocheting a V Stitch Scarf, using my last pattern which you can find HERE. The power of the internet eh – sharing what we’re making with others all over the world. I really love it. I should put pattern links on Ravelry. One day.

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I asked what I could call this scarf and had “Brian” as the answer. Well, why not? I did ask!

Brian v stitch scarf / cowl

5mm hook – if you’d like a lazy, looser type of fabric, but try a swatch and see what you feel. I tried with a 4mm hook and it was nice too, although quite a firm fabric with far less drape.

150-200g DK yarn depending on the length of scarf or cowl you prefer
Lang Tosca Light is 100g/400m a ball 55% new wool, 45% acrylic.

Width: 22cm / 8 5/8ths ”
I’m aiming for – Length: 80″ / 203cm
Will probably be – Weight: 150g -200g

V stitch = 1 tr, 1ch, 1tr (UK)V stitch: 1 treble, 1 chain, 1 treble into same space (UK terms)
ch = chain
tr = treble
v st = v stitch
ss = slip stitch
st = stitch
tch = turning chain
sp = space

Foundation Row: Ch 50
Or a multiple of 6 st + 2 to get the width you want
R1: (Right side) Work a v st into 5th ch from hook. *Miss 2ch, 3tr into next ch, miss 2ch, work a v st into next ch; rep from * to last 5ch, miss 2ch, 3tr into next ch, miss 1ch, 1tr into last ch, turn
R2: 3 ch, *miss 2sts, work 3tr into centre tr of next 3tr, work a v st into ch sp at centre of next v st; rep from * ending 1tr into top of tch, turn
R3: 3ch, *v st into sp of next v st, 3tr into centre tr of next 3tr; rep from * ending 1tr into top of tch, turn

Rep R2 and R3 until desired length. I’m aiming for about 80″/203cm.

If making a cowl join short ends together using ss; bearing in mind before you join the ends that there is a right and wrong side to the fabric. Finish off and darn ends.

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I’ve been meaning to say this for a few years(!) when I get to the turning chain of the previous row I always find it easier to use a 3mm hook to go into and make the last stitch, aiming for the same tension as the rest which I’ve made with a 4-5mm hook. That might be a useful tip if you’re new to crochet and have trouble seeing or feel like you’re forcing the hook through the top of the chain, it depends on your tension and eyesight probably!

Also, when crocheting in rows after I turn I’ve always taken the hook out of the stitch, rather than twisted the stitch. Do you? I’ve always wondered if that’s correct, me being pernickety or just silly?

Happy v stitching your Brian scarf / cowl!

V Stitch Scarf / Cowl

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I finished this last night, while watching Birdsong. It was such a fast make and if you’re thinking of crocheting a C———- gift for someone this would be perfect, particularly if you’re a last minute crafter.
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I prefer scarves because you can wear them lots of different ways, with a cowl it seems there’s really only tight or loose. You can easily crochet, or sew, the two short ends together before fastening off if you prefer a cowl.

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V Stitch Scarf / Cowl

Yarn: Lang Tosca Light DK
55% new wool
45% acrylic
1.5 x 100g ball, 400 m

Hook: 5mm (You want to crochet a fairly loose and lacy fabric)

Length: 80″ / 203cm
Width: 9″ / 23cm
Weight: 150g

V stitch: 1 treble, 1 chain, 1 treble into same space (UK terms)
ch = chain
tr = treble
v st = v stitch
ss = slip stitch
st = stitch

Foundation row: Chain 48
Scarf / cowl can be made narrower or wider by adjusting starting chain by 3 stitch multiples
R1: Tr into 4th ch, tr into each ch to the end, turn
R2: Ch 3, (counts as a tr at beginning of every every row) tr into each tr to end of row, turn
R3: Ch 3, v st into 3rd tr (skip 2 tr, v st into next tr) to last tr, 1 tr into 3 ch of the previous row
R4: Ch 3, (v st into each space of v st of previous row) across row, 1 tr into 3 ch of the previous row
R5: Ch 3, (1 tr into first st of v st, 1 tr into space of v stitch, 1 tr into 2nd tr of v st) across row, 1 tr into 3 ch of previous row
R6: Ch3, (1 tr into 2nd tr and every tr) across row, 1 tr into 3 ch of previous row

Repeat R3-6 until scarf / cowl is desired length. (If making a cowl join short ends together using ss; bearing in mind before you join the ends that there is a right and wrong side to the fabric.) Finish off and darn ends.

Try on and flounce about in front of mirror/your significant other.

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If you make one of these I’d love to see yours, please leave a link below or tag me on IG.

All at Sea Shawl ….finished

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I’ve really enjoyed crocheting this V stitch shawl, I haven’t felt this keen for a little while. You know that ‘I’ve got to do just one more row before bed’ thing?

The pattern’s by Elisabeth Davis de Herraiz and is in issue 22 of Simply Crochet.

I used Lang’s Tosca Light DK with a 4mm hook instead of the lace weight merino used in the mag. You could make a really chunky version too. That might be really snugly for freezing winter mornings, or maybe nights on the sofa when you feel a draft on your neck or shoulders?

My shawl is larger as I wanted it to be big enough to wear around your shoulders, granny/hippy style or like a scarf with the triangle part to the front and the long ends wrapped around the back of the neck. So for R50 I just repeated from R14 onwards until I ran out of yarn after R37 which was clusters. Boo! This was annoying with only 11 more to go to complete my repeat of R14 -49, but I quite like the frilled top edge so I fastened off, darned the few ends and it was over.

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Look at what I noticed as I was unhooking the shawl from a tree…..

And last night on a very old episode of Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads….

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It doesn’t look Grannyish or exactly Hippyish, but I won’t be going out in a maxi dress and big cream shawl anytime soon!

Nine Random Things

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I stopped my subscription to Simply Crochet a few months ago because I was a bit bored, I reckon it’s stuck in a bit of a rut. When they asked readers to complete a questionnaire some months ago I requested more garment patterns. I know I’m not alone in feeling fed up of patterns for small items you don’t want or need. However ( a little positivity coming up now!) I really fancied crocheting the scarf pattern I’d seen Heather of The Patchwork Heart posting pics of on IG. So I picked up a copy last week, there was the added temptation of pretty pins too…but oh! They are mostly rusty – albeit silver coloured rust, not rust coloured, but it’s rust all the same. I can’t use them at all. Boo!
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Ooh now this is a good magazine related bit of news – I’ve been given a year’s subscription to this beauty. I’ll turn into a green eyed monster at times (beautiful homes and expensive lovelies to buy) I know, but I am very pleased.
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This is my catch up reading pile. I asked for my birthday subscription not to be continued for a third year to Mollie Makes, again it’s feeling in a bit of a rut. I really can’t face yet more patterns for felt animals and the target audience feels like it’s for young twenty somethings. That’s fair play especially if it’s encouraging them to develop or learn some crafty skills; I just realised that I hadn’t used any of the mini packs, let alone made any items from the magazine for ages and ages.
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Just because I saw this in a gift shop in Broadway, in the Cotswolds, and it made me smile. It’s one of those things you’d love to say when someone’s being all one-sided me-me-me.
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While I was wondering around Broadway I kept hearing yelping and barking. I ducked down an alley to pop into the Sue Ryder charity shop and saw two pens of hounds. They must belong to the local hunt. I’m a baby where dogs en masse are concerned so this is as close I got.
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I’ve seen these chargers in airports etc before, but how handy to find one in John Lewis (High Wycombe) for free charging.
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My friend gave me a bumper lot of thoughtful presents including this lovely tin. It’s my new things crochet tin as the other was bulging at the seams, especially with a new bigger notebook. Isn’t it similar in design to the Cath Kidson tape measure and needle book? It’s such a good match and right up my street.
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Warning. Warning. Tomato talk incoming! I’m still cooking with my home-gown tomatoes, this time it’s a bacon and olive sauce. Yum. I usually halve the olives but this time left them whole. The house is full of bowlfuls in various stages of ripeness. I never imagined eight plants could produce so much fruit (or did QI state they are wrongly regarded as fruit, when in fact they are the vegetable we all grew up believing them to be? Or have I dreamt that?!)
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I’ve been wincing at sightings of the C word; usually in relation to crafting for ………… but look at what fell out of the new issue of Country Living. With the change of weather and the end of the summer holidays looming it doesn’t feel too early to contemplate booking tickets. Are you going?

What have you been up to lately?

Did you see the ice cream debacle on The Great British Bake Off last night?

In my next post I’ll show you the shawl I’ve been crocheting from the current Simply Crochet. It’s sweet, though I do have a shawl related question: there are so many patterns for them at the moment, they seem to be on trend but……have you actually seen anyone wearing one out? Anyone?

Summer snapshot

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Eating fresh vegetables from the garden on the same day they’re picked or dug, such a Summer highlight! One day visiting family I came away with peas in their pods, beetroot, potatoes, shallots, carrots, cucumber and courgettes. What a haul.

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Baking lots this Summer; I’ve had a bit of an obsession with muffins. So far I’ve baked citrus muffins, chunky cookie muffins and my favourite: fig and marzipan muffins. Cheese and Marmite scones (see BBC Good Food website for the recipe) my own cheese scone recipe, raspberry and amaretti cake, lemon drizzle cake and my weekly loaves of bread. I usually only bake cakes and other treats when I have guests or an occasion to cook for, otherwise there’s too much naughtiness around, it’s better shared! So far this Summer there have been lunches, teas and picnics. Hurray! I’ve always enjoyed being in the kitchen with the radio on and whipping up a cake etc. It probably stems from a cosy childhood helping to bake cakes and mixing a mug of icing at home when little. We would sometimes mix up three mugs of icing and make ‘traffic light cakes’ – pale green, red or yellow icing to top fairy cakes.
The cream tea was my favourite of all the recent occasions. It included a discussion of whether it should be cream or jam first. Mine is the neater looking scones, cream first, but with the far messier (homemade) jammy plate!

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Nerding and walking a lot; about 26 miles in the last week, some of it Geocaching. I’m not a hardcore cacher and it’s taken me years to reach my very low tally, but when I set out to find some it’s fun. They are all around you did you know? If you didn’t its worth having a look at the official website.

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A few friends and I came across this fine fellow while looking at a lovely Japanese garden, after finding a cache. Aren’t peacocks stunning? Apparently some believe peacock feathers bring very bad luck, refusing to have them on the house. I prefer to see them in situ anyway

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Crocheting rows of the ripple blanket in my friend’s favourite colours. It will be a surprise present at Christmas since I’m also going on with the motifs for the William Morris colours inspired blanket. I’ve put the ripple away in the Little Room as I’ve got to get on with the other. I also have another thing to make nearer the end of the month. I’m partly regretting agreeing to that, but we will see!

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Enjoying The House of Illustration Quentin Blake exhibition. If you’ve read Roald Dahl’s books you’ll recognise some of the illustrations on display. You can also stop and play in the magic fountains of Granary Square, Kings Cross.

Picnicking at Cliveden, a National Trust property which was the former home of the Astor family where I met three other girls. Two of them were my little nieces. They are currently obsessed with doing cartwheels and handstands, so mostly I saw them upside down as they twirled around the gardens, apart from when they were eating lemon drizzle cake and marzipan & fig muffins!

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What are you up to this Summer? Link to your snapshot post below if you fancy sharing.

Al fresco crochet

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It is such beautiful weather here at the moment that it just feels wrong to stay inside.

I started a ripple on Monday night but had to order some yarn before I could continue. Luckily I already had two of the greys I wanted to use as they’re the same I’m using for my other blanket, so at least I could make a start. I actually haven’t touched a hook for weeks; a combination of a sore elbow (acupuncture is really helping) and just wanting a break. It was a refreshing break, but I was absolutely raring to go once my plan was approved at the weekend. I’ve offered a crocheted blanket birthday pressie to a special someone as I’ve had her kind of colours in mind for ages, and fancied crocheting another ripple. I’m a little surprised I’m so keen as I became quite bored by the end of The Rhubarb Ripple. My offer was immediately taken up and so I’ve been happily zipping along the rows today. The motif blanket will wait for a while. This is easier crochet; it’s fast to add new colours and decide which next. I tend to need my leg up to join as you go (do you?! Is this just me?!) so it makes it sofa crochet, not al fresco crochet so much.

Hurrah! My new yarn came this morning! I could hear the rustle of the sack arriving from my spot (reading in the bath, hard work these summer hols.) Deramores have been undercut by Wool Warehouse on Stylecraft Special DK by 30p a ball at the moment. I have to say that as both offer speedy service and free p&p when you spend £25 it wasn’t a tricky decision to use WW for this order. 30p less for a ball is 30p saved. Or, spent on more yarn…

The bright pink was always going to be a gamble without actually seeing a ball. It’s not quite right is it? It jars with the scrummy raspberry, the sharp lime green (new colour) and the delicious graphic, silver and grey. The darker shades are midnight blue and emperor penguin purple. Someone suggested I use the bright pink to embroider “Get off, this is Mummy’s!” Ha! I must tell her this when I give the blanket.

My charity shop find basket is perfect for al fresco crochet. It’s very good at standing to attention with the yarn ball in use rolling around on top. I need a yarn bowl really, but it does the job of keeping it off the grass. Can you see I replaced the bag’s sequins? I preferred the scuffed brown originals really I realise, now it’s done. Too late!

What are you crocheting or making? Or are you having a crafty break?

Snapshot II

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Wondering if embroidery in hoops displayed on the wall is much cooler than on tea towels? I somehow doubt cool and embroidery are two words that have ever gone together. I don’t really care. I especially enjoy embroidering something which has a practical purpose. I need more tea towels – I’ve got more ideas. The glasses were from one of my Sublime Stitches transfers books, the writing is mine, scruffy and all.

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Harvesting strawberries! So yummy and surprisingly the birds haven’t gone for them. The other day a squirrel was spotted in a friend’s garden picking their strawbs, holding them gently in both his paws and nibbling away!

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Loving the scent wafting up from my pot as I come in and out of the front door, waiting for the apple blossom geranium I chose as a tiny plug plant months ago, to reveal its flowers.

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Opening a free copy of Garden Illustrated to my best page first! I’ve said:”Really sheds are so expensive but just think; when you move you just roll this onto the back of a truck and take it with you!” to raised eye brows.

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Carrying my blanket yarn in a completely coordinating bag. This was a coincidence but made me smile when I realised. The motifs are now joined in one long strip of about 180cm, this is the length of the blanket. I’m halfway along the second row now. Zippidy do dah.
Reading The Lieutenant by Kate Grenville, only to p.5 so far but it’s going to be a cracker. I read the first of the trilogy The Secret River in Australia one visit.
Not missing resting my injured leg. I’ve washed laundry, hung it out, hand washed my car, washed up, baked 2 loaves of bread, cooked dinner, cleaned walls, hoovered, cleaned the filters, folded laundry and tidied it away, watered all the plants, emptied the bins, cleaned bins, re-potted plants, rearranged outside pots, ironed (the tea towel above ha ha strenuous!) driven – once so far, yesterday, but it was fine with an old lady tubi-grip, food shopped, collected a library book, am walking downstairs nearly normally again. It’s good to be busier again.

How about you, what are you up?

Progress report

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Oh yes, I’m pleased with this joining malarkey. Choose the outer colour, zip around round 3 and join one side of round 4. It feels like a fast way of making a blanket.

I’ve just unravelled the matador red motifs, apart from those with it in the middle. It’s not going to work. It was always a bold colour choice – to match William Morris’s red flower centres – but any more than a little splash is going to set the teeth on edge, especially with so much peach going into the mix too.

Random fact: the curtains were originally chosen, in fact the whole room was coordinated, around a cream and peach tapestry cushion I made years back. I know this probably isn’t that interesting without pics but I’m still under house arrest. I’m going to try driving tomorrow with a heavy duty support on the peg. See, you get all the highlights during these days of being patient.

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I just had the nicest compliment, via the tweet machine this morning, about my last post. It was from Jennifer Reid who is a crochet designer for Inside Crochet and Simply Crochet magazines. You’ll recognise her patterns straight away if you buy those mags and check Ravelry. It’s always a lovely surprise to hear from different people. She’s also a member of the Darning Sisterhood – the leave them to the end club. Anyone else want to join?

Throw another one in the basket

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Friday night’s been G&T time for a long, long time but nowadays Friday night is cocktail night. This week it was mojitos. Mmmmm. I might do a cocktail post of my faves, with recipes sometime. I keep sorely trying someone’s patience while I photograph them before drinking commences!

Fresh juicy cherries and crochet go well.

My Japanese steel snips are incredibly sharp; I have to take care around these. So much faster than grappling for scissors can be, they slide into a plastic cover when not in use. It’s a good job as even the ends are razor-sharp. They were a gift from a posh shop which sells household goods.

I can’t believe how many half completed motifs I’ve done, already. I edge a diddy little middle with a second round and throw it into the basket I rescued from a friend’s jumble sale bag. One (wo)man’s trash is another (wo)man’s treasure.

It’s nearly time to edge some with the third row and join while crocheting the fourth. I’m looking forward to placing the colours and seeing how the overall effect works. It’s definitely a different sort of palate for me.

….Oh and oh yes…the ends. Well I just read Heather’s thoughts about darning, rather than crocheting over them, and realised she’s a kindred spirit in this respect. I groan about them a bit and resolve to tackle the ends as I go but rarely do; getting absorbed in the act of creating. Select the colour, crochet the round, snip the tail, throw the motif into the basket and onto the next. Usually I darn them listening to an audio book, or semi watching a film and find it a soothing activity in itself. This weekend’s film was one I seem to have missed at the time. I really enjoyed the undemanding, sweet, sometimes funny, little story.

What are you up to at the moment?

Zippidy do-dah

Well I never! Zippidy do-dah as in The Jungle Book Disney’s Song of the South (Never heard of it! Is it one to watch?) is actually spelt Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah! The things you find out when checking spelling. I’m sticking with my version.

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I wasn’t planning to write this down, but I actually though I was a bit off crochet. Maybe the huge enthusiasm I’d had for it over the last few years had died down, and that was ok.  But it turns out it was because I last bought a big batch of new yarn in Autumn 2012. Waste not want not, I’ve been using up left-overs, plus I’ve gradually been buying sewing materials. But the pleasure in taking off the bands of brand new yarn – 11 brand new balls of yarn! Using virgin yarn which hasn’t been unraveled, or wound into a smaller balls and put in an oddments bag and in new colours too is so enjoyable.

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I didn’t choose the colours for this project (apart from substituting the gorgeous new Spice for Jaffa, as I found out Jaffa is Nemo neon orange.) I just left my Stylecraft catalogue and picked it up with all the ticks under the shades, but the combination is pleasing. I particularly like the rich Walnut brown, the teddy bear Mocha, orange Spice and Matador red paired together. These have a rather retro, back to the 70s feel. Sometimes it feels as if brown is an outcast, with the current craze for Cath Kidson reds, pinks, pale greens and blues – I love them too. Brown isn’t a colour I gravate to usually, in yarn or clothes, but this palate is somewhat rich and earthy. It’s to coordinate with curtains of a William Morris design, and I’m really enjoying the new colours. I can’t find the WM design on Google images and didn’t think to photograph the curtains. I will next time I visit.

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Why Zippidy-do-dah? Because this is my progress from just two sittings. The first evening I started to crochet I ended up making 44 middles – 4 of each of the 11 colours. I do like the magic loop method. Then before I knew it I’d completed the second round of 22 of them. Last night I completed the second round of all but a few of the other 22. I’m making sure I use all the colours, but also ordered extra balls of camel, cream, silver and parchment so I can make extra motifs with just these to balance out the stronger colours. Matador type red only features a little in the curtain fabric, as the centre of some flowers, so although I’ve discovered I love it and Spice together I must be careful not to overwhelm the blanket.

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Did I mention the mmmm smell of a sackful of new yarn? There’s something new car-ish about it. Oh Wool Only purists please don’t shake your heads like that!

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Here are the colours listed from left to right, top row first, in case you’re feeling 70’s retro inspired (or have William Morris fabric!)
silver :: grey :: walnut :: copper :: spice :: mocha :: matador
parchment :: cream :: camel :: apricot::

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I’m hobbling now, with only a small lurch and can go upstairs slowly one foot at a time, not crawling or one foot, then the other per step. Hurrah! The Goldfinch Audio book has been great company – wow – I listened to 7 hours 43 minutes of it yesterday. Kudos to David Pittu for being about to narrate young and old, male and female voices so convincingly, accents too. It’s 32 hours long so 7:43 is a drop in the ocean. I’m glad because I’m enjoying it so much. AND How to Make an American Quilt is on the way via LoveFilm by post, my last DVD before my membership ends. It’s all looking up.

On the bright side

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I really fancied doing some more embroidery but thought I’d only do a little Thursday evening so as not to aggravate my elbow. I really enjoyed semi watching, mostly listening, to an episode of Lewis (the psychology student/psychics/elephant tranquilliser one) using stem stitch to sew the letters of my personalised tea towel which is to be a gift.

The arm was indeed a bit iffy Friday but hey ho, it was still a great day. A great week in fact, and generally all is going swimmingly. That is until 11:14 pm when the most ginormous spider hurried across the lounge from under a sofa to behind the TV. There was some wine or beer fuelled discussion along the lines of: “But he’s happy, let him be.” “He’s not leaving cobwebs all over my house.” “Don’t kill him.” “Don’t be ridiculous, you know I never kill them…” All this while I’m tipping a nightlight out of a holder and grabbing a postcard (flower fairies – such a pretty card that I carry it downstairs to recycle then end up propping it on the mantelpiece.) This spider is big and aggressive, he’s sassy and won’t be caught in a tea light holder and trapped by a flower fairy postcard. But we both know who’s going to win…

…in the end after a skirmish behind the TV stand it’s actually neither of us. He gets half trapped under the holder after I execute a niffy half turn when he tries to fox me, and head back to sofa-land, and I feel a muscle at the back of my knee go POP!

OMG THE PAIN.

Actually the spider was ok, no broken legs and I’m sure he enjoyed his flight out of the window to the garden.

Today instead of a super day out nerding with one of my favourite friends I’ve been sat on the bed with an ice pack and haven’t gone downstairs once; as I had to semi crawl upstairs last night and can’t bear the awfulness of needing the littlest room and the slow hurry. It’s best to rest it as much as possible too.

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This app is great! Although after quietly downloading it and trying it out with a few good dings, then testing the ring-a-ding-ding function with a good shake Someone marched into the bedroom with a grin and said, “You can get rid of that app for a start.” “But it was my nerdy friend who suggested I get it, to help you know when I need something!”

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The bright side is I’ve listened to a little more of The Goldfinch audio book, watched the first ever few episodes of The IT Crowd, the inflating boobies episode of Mrs Brown’s Boys (thank you free catch up TV and ipad magic) and downloaded some interesting looking free Kindle novels. There have also been a few homegrown strawberries, YUM, some cheer up surprises: mini Reeces, ice cold 7Up and as requested; a yummy Greek salad with pitta for lunch. The service is pretty good, the bedside chat could be improved but it’s tricky to provide uplifting banter when an important rugby match is on in the other room.

So, it’s after 5pm and I’m feeling a bit restless. Can you tell me something interesting, a story, a fact about yourself, a snippet from your weekend, whatever? A good link? Please. Chances are I’ll still be up here tomorrow so anything will be gratefully received.

Because it made me smile the other day when I noticed how tidy the Rhubarb Ripple looks amongst the other unruly blankets in The Little Room…

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Sometimes there is no right way

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Playing with joining as you go the other evening I took this photo as a reminder; because I didn’t feel too confident that it was right, and thought they’d probably soon be un-joined!

After Carina commented on my last post, reminding me that she’s crocheted some of the motifs from Edie Eckman’s fabulous Beyond the Square book, I emailed her the photo above and asked how she would have joined them. It’s the first time I’ve used the join-as-you-go technique with anything apart from granny squares. I was really dithering and feeling unconfident. When I start saying, or thinking, ‘Well, I’ve only been crocheting a few years’ I know I’m struggling with something. It’s not the end of the world, but is an irritating feeling.
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Carina is one of those bloggers that you just know will answer a query and try their best to help. I rushed to work yesterday having fired off a HELP ME! email, and in the evening found not one, but two replies from her. The first saying she’d had a busy day but would get back to me shortly. The second, sent less than an hour later, had detailed ‘This is how I would do it’ instructions and an attached photo. She’d obviously pulled out her BtS book and had a go at joining two motifs. How kind!
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I do prefer Carina’s joining method which replaces the 3 corner chains with 1 ch, 1 jss (joining slip stitch) 1 ch. This was the part I wasn’t sure about. Do you replace all the ch with one jss, or only one? How many jss would you need overall? What about the 5 ch in the middle? Carina had also joined this motif in four places, rather than three.

If the motifs were making up a blanket it would probably be more…I’m struggling for the word….connected? Strong? Less gapy? I just checked the spelling of gapy, so I didn’t type gappy by mistake instead, and asked ‘Is it gay-ai-pee-why?’ I’m tired!’ Taking non-drowsy cough med is so stupid right before bed. Consequently I was wide awake and reading my Kindle after midnight last night. (The book was Necessary Lies, if like me you like to know these details. It was a 99p Kindle deal I bought weeks ago. Diane Chamberlain a new-to-me author but the blurb interested and readers’ reviews and stars were impressive on Amazon. The first two chapters have me completely intrigued already.)
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The point which I’ll try quickly to come to now, I always waffle far more when tired, is that when I popped into the library today I swerved to the fab craft section and ended up having a quick flick through a Crochet Guide by Jane Crowfoot. She writes that joining motifs is similar to free-form crochet; no two people will join them in the same way. I’m really grateful to Carina for her help, will be joining the motif using her suggestion, but also have learnt a good lesson and a bit of a confidence booster on the way. Sometimes there isn’t always a right way or a wrong way. There’s your way and there’s my way.

Productivity

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I was given Beyond the Square for Christmas, but haven’t made a single motif until this week. The other evening I thought I’d play with #118 and figure how to join it as I went. It took five tries and I got it, I think. Others might have sussed it out differently but mine looks like it will probably work. Since then I’ve had a little production line going making middles and am now round twoing them all.

I have no idea what I’m making, or for whom, as it’s been so spontaneous but it’s another way to use up some of my oddments of Stylecraft.

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As I crocheted half-finished motifs, and tossed them into the basket beside me, I realised the colours are echoing those in my bouquet. This is nice, I like it.

Some stack their middles and half-done motifs beautifully, others lay them out in imaginative patterns to photograph; mine are tossed into a basket ends up and bedraggled! It’s all about doing some crochet again, not artful photographs. I can attempt to redress the balance and make sure they’re laid out with a CK mug of coffee in the background (tho I mostly drink tea) or my socked feet in the picture if you like? All the blogging photo cliches by request.
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Stop being silly and go into the garden.
The potato leaves are looking lush and healthy, hopefully the potatoes are too. I can’t wait to dig into the soil and see them.

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So many strawberries for one plant! My friend’s are redder and huge too, I think they get more sun in her garden, but I’m pleased my plant came through our wet Winter so well.
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The first tomato. I bought two varieties this year; yellow Golden Sunrise and Gardener’s Delight, a red cherry.
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The pepper plants look ready to fruit too. I’ve grown extra to swap with family this weekend.

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I’ve baked wholemeal and a white seeded – poppy, sunflower and pumpkin – loaves for this week’s daily bread. The white is a bit darker brown than usual on top, I blame that motif I was trying to whizz around – rather than just putting it down and getting to the oven a few minutes sooner. It’ll be fine though. The bottom and sides are a nice colour.

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For a week I’ve felt under par, waking up in the early hours with a thumping headache and sore neck/throat, had a hacking cough with lots of sighing and a bit of grumping. Today is the first time I’ve truly felt like myself and even slightly dynamic, rather than going through the motions. Three lots of washing washed and hung on the line too. It’s been a good day.

Oh and now it’s raining again, doesn’t that always happen just after you’ve done the watering?!

How are you feeling this week?

 

Oh by the way rather than just staring, hearting and commenting on others’ pics (only in the last few weeks – what can I say, I’m slow) I’ve started to join in on Instagram. Only three pics so far, but there’s scope for more! Let me know if you’re there too. I like the way you can swap quick chatty comments and search for hashtags, it feels like the best aspects of blogging and twitter. However I can’t imagine it replacing blogging, for me, because you’re limited word-count-wise…!

The thing is –

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The thing is that there is a fact which cannot be disputed; even with all the blocking in the world if one crochet square is bigger than the other five, it will still be bigger at the end of the steaming, pinning and drying.

The blanket’s now edged with rows of plum, pomegranate and that pinky pink (‘sugar mouse’ ‘baby doll’ ?!) and has neat corner holes, but that larger diagonally worked block is still straining up, asserting that it’s the biggest and best, wanting to be out on it’s own. Lots of us on the CAL used to moan about these blocks being larger, misshapen and pretty ugly looking.

You’re not going to see a photo of the finished mini blankey. It’s been thrown into a basket ready for giving away. I couldn’t spare the energy even to photograph it I’m afraid. I couldn’t bear to unravel every row and all the DC joins and make a replacement block either. Still, soon it will be covering dolls, hopefully without any design critique.

It’s a lesson for when I eventually join my other CAL blocks: too big and you’re out, or in a special project of your own, as the thing is there’s no way to make you fit.

April showers in May (with a tiny bit of crochet !)

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An impromptu picnic lunch at Blenheim Palace, sitting on a rain coat munching on salad and watching the swans paddle serenely along the lake. The weather is so April showerish still, even though it’s now May, the sky changed so fast from blue to grey. Even the pheasant ruffled his feathers and wandered off for cover, giving up all hope of sharing my lunch.
Time for a train ride?

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Ah, it’s oh so quiet. There’s a new train (‘Winston’ – Blenheim is the birthplace and family home of Winston Churchill so there’s lots about him and now a train too!) and tunnel which I was quite excited about, it will be good for children to go through a dark bit, but for adults it’s actually a long wooden structure (shed) which can be locked to house the new carriages. Oh well, the anticipation has been nice. Serves me right for being such a child!
The overhauled butterfly house is different. The bridge over the water has gone, lots of the green bushy plants have been removed and new brightly flowering shrubs are in place. You can see the butterflies clearer against the new white screens, it will be worth making a special trip when more have hatched later in the season. I virtually chased one up and down the length of the house to try to photograph it; a HUGE bright beautiful blue one, but he was obviously camera-shy.

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This bank holiday weekend we’re meant to be at the coast enjoying some walks and time by the water, the weather had other ideas however…

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We’ve cancelled the hotel tonight and will see if it’s worth going for the next two days. At least I won’t have to water any plants!

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My elbow is getting much better, though I am going to organise some acupuncture as I’ve found a way to get some free again, after a break of 10 years of needing it. Hurrah! Here’s to another ten years without the need?! I’ve had a few days without painkillers and am using my left hand much more to lift heavier things without aggravating it, I’ve noticed, so as it’s such a rainy day I’ve decided to try a bit of crochet. I haven’t done any craft since before Easter when I made the chicken bags. It’s been odd having still hands in the evenings.

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This is not exactly a thing of beauty, it’s just six blocks I rooted out when I was looking through my stash sometime ago, but haven’t been able to join them. When I began crocheting the CAL blocks I made some test ones with Stylecraft Special DK before the posh yarn. I don’t like wasting things so I’ve decided to crochet them into a ‘thing’. Maybe a dolly blanket to give away to children I know or donate to a Foundation Stage class. I don’t know where it will end up, but I know it’s been so lovely to sit on a rainy day and crochet a little bit just for the sheer pleasure of it.

As I’ve been typing Someone’s decided to go fishing because trout don’t really mind the rain apparently, and when you’ve got good waterproofs it’s not an issue for humans either. As for me I’ve declared I am doing “Bugger all” I’m so good at it too, it seems a shame not to try.

What’s the weather like where you are? Are you also curled up and making something today?

 

Huge granny square blanket – finished!

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Otherwise known as the Tilting Granny Squares blanket! Sounds ridiculous, I know, but I didn’t actually notice the tilty nature of the squares until I’d crocheted about six. This was probably due to the cider and chat as I crocheted lots of them in pubs with other crochet and knitty folk. I was momentarily tempted to undo, or worse – throw them away – but then decided just to go with it. The end result is strangely pleasing. We really like the tilting!

I Googled tilting granny squares and it seems it’s very common when you crochet many rounds, or make one of those blankets where they’re basically one huge granny square. Have a look online at granny square blanket pics and you’ll begin to notice it a lot. I did wonder about making a Pinterest ‘Tilting squares’ board as I went, but thought some people might not be very pleased to see their work! Now I wonder if you see a photo of a blanket heaped on a chair, never spread out, then it might be hiding it’s tilty nature! I’ve spotted tilting target square cushions too.

Tilting is thought to perhaps be down to tension. I reckon it’s more likely to just be the gentle drag of the hook as you repeatedly go in the same direction.  One way to avoid tilting is apparently to change direction on every round. I asked a crochet and knitting designer and she said hers tilt too and it’s ‘just one of those things.’ On a forum I read someone had suggested you embrace it and make a feature out of tilting squares, and that’s what I decided to do. At first I considered laying them out so they tilted in the same direction per row, order in disorder, but ignored the thought and concentrated on colour placement of the squares. I joined the squares listening to the final chapters of this bookaudio book cover. I was addicted to the story, completely engrossed.

I wanted to use up all my odd balls of Stylecraft Special DK and I really didn’t ever intend to keep the blanket. I ordered the multi-coloured SS DK packs when I was new to crochet, now I want to choose my own combinations. I’d planned to give this stash busting blanket away, or maybe try to sell it. But with the tilting factor it’s so quirky and fun that it’s here to stay. Last night I felt chilly curled up on the sofa, so it’s been christened already.

Details:

Blanket weighs: 1.362 kg

Measurements: 70″ long, 52″ wide (single bed size, or to wrap self in on the sofa!)

Yarn: Stylecraft Special DK

Hook size: 4mm

Granny square:

There are many similar patterns but here’s the version I like to use:

FR: Ch 5, join with a ss

R1: Ch 3 (= 1 tr) 2 tr, 3 ch, 3tr, 3 ch, 3 tr, 3 ch, 3 tr, 3 ch around, join with a ss into 3rd st of ch 3.

R2: Ch 4 (=1 tr, 1 ch) then in next chain space work  3 tr, 1 ch, work (3 tr, 3 ch, 3 tr) in corner, repeat around and then 3 tr, 3ch, 2 tr and join with a ss into 3rd st of initial ch 3.

R3: Ch 3 (=1 tr) then into same space work 2 tr, 1 ch, repeat along edge chain spaces, (3 tr, 3 ch, 3 tr) into corner spaces. Join with a ss into 3rd st of initial ch 3.

Repeat R3 until you have 20 rounds in total.

Make a dozen 20 round squares, then join as you go using one colour to frame the squares. I think it looks ‘bare’ without a border.

My border: 6 rows of cream trebles (3 tr, 1 ch around with 3 tr, 3 ch, 3 tr at the corners.)

R7: 1 row of DC in cream (3 dc into the corner chain spaces)

R8: 1 row of DC in pomegranate (3 dc into the corner chain spaces)

R9: Dinky pointy edge: * 1 ss into each of next 3 dc, then in next dc (1 dc, 2 ch, 1 dc) * Repeat from * to * around.

Snuggle.

Not quite 10 Random Things

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Oooh I thought when I saw this shepherd’s hut a while back. I parked and walked back to have a peer at it. Actually it’s only got that tiny little window so wouldn’t be a great craft hideaway, which is probably a good thing as in a nanosecond I was already planning where to park it in the back garden and musing about taking it to the seaside. Mad. And no, that’s not expensive at all. Is it? Ha!
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I went to a food and craft fair a few weeks ago with a friend. We were a bit disappointed to find the craft part was really just a few tables with jewellery, homemade cards, decoupage kits although one had these rather lovely vintage fabric owl cushions and things. The food part was redundant as we’d already eaten mystery sausage baps at mine before leaving. Mystery for her as I made her guess the flavours as I chose them from my super local butchers (homemade meaty sausages. Yum) This time they were pork, celery and Stilton. She liked them too.

Tiny confession: The food wasn’t 100% redundant as I bought homemade fudge and I think my friend chose pick ‘n mix. I can’t be sure as my eyes were firmly fixed on my slices of fudge.

We each bought raffle tickets to support the local cause and later she had a call to say there was an arty raffle prize on the way! Lucky duck…not really as it turned out to be an Usborne book on Modern Art, for children. I’m going to give it to my nieces.

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Six rainbow trout freshly caught in a Wiltshire lake. One bartered for cider at the local shop, one to a neighbour, two smoked to be eaten as potted trout or just as they are with salad. Yum. I bought a Fladen home smoker so the fisherman’s experimenting with whisky, hickory and applewood smoking chips. I like the whisky (cask) chips best so far. The other fishes are in the freezer getting in my way as they are solid slightly curled forms so hinder neatly stacking tubs. (Before you leave ‘Urgh’ comments on my behalf about finding trout in the sink, I don’t mind at all. I vacate the kitchen, after opening the window and door then let the cleaning begin. The only issue last Autumn was the windows being left open during the first home smoker test. The house stank of hickory smoke!)
A few days ago the shopkeeper gave us a leg of pork as another thank you for the (unbartered) trout he’s had over the last few years, and the neighbour bought some German Friendship Cake batter around. I love this type of thing!

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My Bondaweb finally arrived so I could have a second go at applique. The blue bird was my first go, then I adjusted the stitch and felt happier with the other, though went a bit off track on his head.
This bag is all ready to applique. I fixed the petals on with Bondaweb, at the same time as I prepared the birdie tea towels, but it doesn’t entirely like the canvas. They’re pinned as well now; just in case I find petals on the floor. I might applique them by hand, it depends how I find the thickness of the canvas. The fabric is from a pack of fat quarters I bought from Amazon. It turns out not to be a good idea to buy fabric online, unless it’s a brand you know. It’s very thin.

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Here’s my unplanned and unexpected find from yesterday. We were mooching around a smallish and not particularly lovely little town we once lived for a year. It was a stick a pin in a map at a halfway point kind of decision then, and it worked. There are so many charity shops now. The vintage style flowers caught my eye, then the 100% cotton label. I bought it purely for the fabric. How about a flowery tote bag for the Summer? It’s thin enough to sew with my little machine, thick enough for shopping or carrying books. It cost £2.95!
I’ve spent several years reading blogs where someone’s visited their local op, thift or charity shop and picked up a real find. Well I think this is mine!

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This morning’s crochet for a few minutes. It’s the final edging row, I’m halfway around and then another blanket bites the dust!
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The tomato plants getting some sun toughening up outside, jogging on the spot and doing crunches (whatever they are?!) before they go into grow bags. Hopefully we’ll have bowlfuls of red Gardener’s Delight cherry tomatoes and some yellow Golden Sunrise. I need a really good crop as I’m competing with a friend this year. Greenhouses are for sissy tomatoes!!!!

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I hope you’ve had a restful Sunday too. If you plan to post your own 10ish Random Things please leave a comment or link below, I’d like to read yours.

Sewing & crochet: needle roll

I’ll admit that I’m feeling pretty pleased about my latest make. I wanted to try the merino that DMC Creative World recently sent me to try after my cheeky request. It’s definitely a nice yarn to crochet, the colours are delicious too. I’d say that although it’s labelled as DK weight it’s more of a baby cashmerino thickness; slightly thinner than other double knit yarns, but that wasn’t an issue.

It’s the first time, I can think of, that I’ve combined machine and hand sewing with crochet. It’s been fun to use several different skills on one item.
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I really like incorporating ribbon into things at the mo. What can I make next with some?
I changed the browny pinky ribbon back to the Mollie Makes chevron ribbon by the way, it just coordinated better I decided on the drawstring bag. (Just in case anyone was awake fretting about it. Tee hee.)
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This challenged my mathematical brain, which is the size of a peanut, as I worked out how large the separate pieces needed to be. The success is part luck and part crossing my fingers and toes.
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I gave the roll a good shake just to see if all the needle tips would fall out, but only the shiny metal Nova tips slipped out. So that’s fine.
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All the lovely sunny days have brought the tulips to the brink of opening. They are so close. The yellow tulips are last year’s pot and look like they’ll be just as pretty. I do love my seasonal pots which are a pretty sight at the front door.

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Thank you very much for all your likes and lovely comments about my sewing on my last post, they really made my day. It’s such basic stuff (especially after watching about Great British Sewing Bee last night – I get sweaty hands just watching them do the most incredibly tricky tasks in a short time!) and I’m grateful for your encouragement.

Joining

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I’m on the last section of joining (as you go method) of my huge granny square blanket. It’s a good feeling to be near the end, especially after all the darning I saved till the end. Never again I say each time, but then get carried away enjoying the crochet.
I’m not sure what to do borderwise. I think it’s best to keep it simple, I’m not convinced a fancy edging goes with the straightforwardness of granny squares.

What do you reckon?

This is what happens when…

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two little girls rush to you before Sunday lunch saying “Aunty Rachel you really need to give us flannels again, our Princess ones are all holey now.”

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You happily lead them upstairs where you have a stash of homemade knitted and crocheted washcloths, far superior to Disney Princess flannels really.
The only problem is that the eldest is very fast thinking, especially when there’s choosing competition, and selects the pinkiest and largest washcloth available. The younger one knows her mind and won’t be swayed, although yellow was the top top fave colour a few years ago, it’s now definitely pinky purple combos which catch the eye. It also needs to be of equal size and dimensions to the other, a smaller one for a “cutie patootie little face” is not going to cut the mustard.

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All the possibilities

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

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

Cottoning on

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A few weeks ago Natasja of CrocheTime blog asked me if I would like to do a review of yarn she sells in her Etsy shop. I’m always happy to play with yarn, especially one I’ve never used before so was just happy for Natasja to send me a selection of whatever she wanted me to try. When she told me it was Vinnis Colours Nikkim cotton, and sent me a link,  I changed my mind quickly – the colours are so delicious! This is my selection.
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Cloud Blue

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Fern
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Plum
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Red Violet
This was one I took to my knitting group one week, it was admired and fondled rather a lot!

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Information on the ball band: “This yarn is hand dyed and balled by women from an economically depressed rural area of South Africa. The scale of this product has empowered them and brought economic benefits to their community. Hand dyed yarn gives your garment a unique marbelled effect. Colourfast. Made in South Africa.”
The knit group nodded and agreed that yes, it has been hand dyed as you can see the variation in colour. Finally I could carry on knitting, but wondered if the ball might be best put into a bag at my feet as I worked – just to avoid distraction!

It’s DK weight cotton, comes in 50g / 119m balls. The recommended needles are 3.25mm-4mm and hook size is 4mm.
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Natasja said she’d noticed that my blog has gone to the dark side lately (! *mhah haha ha!* !) and wondered if I would knit something to test how well the cotton works with needles.
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I really like making practical knits so decided to try out a few different stitches and knit some washcloths. I’ll include my patterns in case you fancy taking up the knitty sticks and practising the dark art of knitting too!
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Moss Stitch Washcloth

24cmx24cm / 9.5″ x 9.5″
I’m pretty sure I used 4.5mm needles for all three cloths as I was using my 4mm set for my lace knit scarf. Either is fine as tension is definitely not critical for a washcloth. It’s such thick cotton that you could even use a 5mm needle (or hook.)
:: Cast on an odd no. of stitches. I cast on 49
::R1-4 Knit
::R5 –: K4 at the beginning and end of row, K1, *P1, K1, repeat from *
Repeat this row until the washcloth is 23cm / 9″” then K4 rows. Cast off and darn ends.

I’ve always really liked moss stitch – it’s got such a cute nubbly look and makes a nice textured washcloth.

The cotton is beautifully soft to touch, the colours please and there was not a single knotted piece in any of the balls. There is one issue however, it can be very splitty. This was particularly frustrating with the first ball I tried (fern.) There is very light twist to the cotton which means that you sometimes have 7 little strands lying over your needle, rather than one. Undo a row and you’re really in trouble because you’ve loosened the twist even more.

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A smaller version of the above, I cast on 39 stitches for this one. This washcloth measures 20cm x 20cm / 8″ x 8″.

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OOoh my favourite stitch, but do not try this pattern when you’ve had a G&T as it’s a bit tricky and you have to concentrate on some rows. I realised I had knitted a row, then undone it a few times and couldn’t work out the problem until I realised I’d just had my Friday early evening drink!

Vinnis cotton gives good drape; the knitted material has lots of movement giving a good flow. Obviously this isn’t important for the items I’ve made but I reckon it could be a very good yarn for cotton garments. Just be sure to do a tension swatch and check your gauge before you begin.

Basketweave washcloth

23cm x 23cm / 9″ x9″

::Cast on a multiple of 8 stitches plus 5 extra. I cast on 48 + 5 = 53 stitches in total

::R1 (RS) Knit

::R2 *K5, P3, repeat from * to last 5 stitches, K5

::R3 P5 *K3, P5, repeat from * to end

::R4 As R2

::R5 Knit

::R6 K1, P3, K1 *K4, P3, K1, repeat from * to end

::R7 *P1, K3, P4, repeat from * to last 5 stitches, P1, K3, P1

::R8 As R6.

Repeat R1-8 until square or the desired length. I cast off all but the last stitch, whipped up a 3.5mm hook and double crocheted all around the cloth. By this time I was yippeeing after all the knitting!

This stitch would make a super scarf in a chunky yarn on big needles, I can just imagine it. I enjoyed looking through my stitch bible for something new and this was a good find. Just don’t tipple while you do the latter rows because you’ll probably come a cropper like me.
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I really wanted to try crocheting the cotton and wondered if the splittyness would be better. It is, but you still have to keep your eye on the yarn as the hook can get tangled up, or you miss strands, resulting in rogue loops. I used my thicker Clover Amour 4mm hook (rather than my slightly thinnner 4mm metal hook) and thought it produced a lovely chunky material. Cara Medus’s potholder pattern caught my eye in issue 15 of Simply Crochet so I gave it a whirl.
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Vinnis cotton is good for something like a potholder when a double layer of fabric produces a very good thickness. I’m pleased with this make and it’s going to be in use tonight when I toss pancakes! Happy Shrove Tuesday all.
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I was already feeling a bit guilty for straying from my knitting brief but an old proverb came to mind ‘might as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb.’ Excellent! In that case I was going ahead and making Hannah’s (Not Your Average Crochet blog) sweet Springtime hat pincushion from the lastest issue (16) of Simply Crochet. (Available in the UK this Thursday.)
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The flowers are in King Cole bamboo variegated cotton, I made my own leaf as I wanted a nice juicy looking one.
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I sewed on the leaf and flowers and darned all ends before filling the hat with stuffing.
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I just filled it with toy stuffing. I figured if my sewing’s going badly and I stab the pincushion violently I won’t be breaking the pins on coins or weights at the bottom!
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If you’re keen to try some Vinnis cotton you can buy some from Natasja’s  Etsy CrocheTime shop, she will give a 10% discount to the first ten people to order using the following code: LITTLEROOM.

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Helloooo to my new readers following Simply Crochet’s Edits magazine. It’s very nice to have you here. I’m loving seeing people’s curly twirly flower brooches appear, the first photo I was sent was from mrspip (the link should take you to her FB page.) It’s lovely.

My flower brooches in Simply Crochet!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy weekend all.

Simply Crochet (16)

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Next week, if you get a copy of Simply Crochet, you’ll see what I was doing with these beautiful cottons in January. It’s been hard not to mention anything – it goes against my nature not to talk about exciting things!

Small make medicine & The Great British Sewing Bee

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Feeling like a quick crochet make would refresh and revitalise, after hiccups with a bigger project, I decided to start a little something. It’s so satisfying a way to banish the crafty blues; starting and finishing an item in a few hours.

On another tack, did you watch The Great British Sewing Bee last night? I’m loving it. Absolutely enthralled. It’s so good to have a crafty series on peak time tv, twitter and Facebook were buzzing about the episode until late last night. My friend and I were chatting about our faves well into the early hours. This usually turns out to be my reading time, despite knowing I should sleep I end up reading just one more chapter.
Another, replying to my “OMG wish I could alleviate clothes woes by whipping up a top for a do hours before!” (like GBSB contestant Heather) gave a lovely compliment: ‘I think if you turned your crafty skills and energy towards sewing you’d soon be able to do just that :-)’ It’s just starting isn’t it? I need to find an easy pattern to make an item of clothing, my first since a couple of pencil skirts at school!

In progress

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This second pair of mitts are still waiting to be sewn up, the first are being worn and appreciated during the chilly school run apparently. I’ve had a request by one of my little nieces asking me for “white pink with purple bits, like Mummy’s but…oh no I mean light pink with purple bits.” (Awwww, so sweet.) As I’m told they’re superb at losing gloves I’m heading in the direction of a good quality acrylic, not Rowan tweed like these!
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The cabled yoke cardigan has been renamed ‘that stupid cardi’ I’m sorry to say. The time it took it took to figure out the cabled strip has rather soured the project. Well….I guess I have to be honest and admit that’s not absolutely it. Don’t start dipping rags in oil and sharpening your pitchforks but I’m not so sure about the actual look of it. Knitted clothes look so smooth and elegant, crocheted clothes particularly in chunky dcs like this just look coarse somehow. Know where I’m coming from? It needs to be edged, sleeves crocheted and button-band added so I might be more impressed after it’s finished. Maybe.It could be the yarn, I wonder if a different colour and quality of yarn would help too. I chose to use my Stylecraft meadow as I thought it would look lovely, and it’s washable so is practical for children’s clothing.

Oh and also I’m worried that the neckline is tiny. Overall I worry that it’s a bit small. I really, really should try a tension swatch before new projects.

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I’m going to be knitting this feather and fan scarf until I die I fear. Last year I decided I’m going to live to be a hundred; so I’ve got a lot of time to carry on, but might die just after completion and so not get the benefit!

It’s probably far more practical to use a non-fluffy brand for lace knitting. It’s not tricky to undo or knit, but another would show the lacy holes and repeats making it easier to see mistakes and just act as a guide. I’ve tried using pony stitch markers but those little plastic rings are going to scratch my birch needles, they’re getting in the way a bit too. I’ll maybe have a try at placing yarn markers. I accept this scarf is going to be a long-term project and don’t mind really, not now I’m adding lifelines!

I must get on and darn some more of the ends of those granny squares. It’s actually not so bad once you get going, it just starting that’s the issue.

Also I’m knitting up something for a yarn review and that is another story…

What are you up to this weekend? Hopefully not splashing about in flood waters like these poor ponies were, gradually more green patches are appearing though as the water slowly drains away.

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14:37 Mitts now sewn up & ready to wear. This post was a good motivator!

By jove I think she’s got it!

Here is a reminder of why this is a big moment! Today was the very, very last time of trying to get this cable crochet yoke for a cardigan right. If it didn’t happen the book was going to be (gently) thrown across the floor, then sold.

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10 random things

This morning I saw this post from Kate of the bloody excellent Foxs Lane blog and it inspired me so much that I grabbed my iphone and took some very random photos during the rest of my day.

I relate when Kate writes from time to time that she’s doubting the whole blogging thing and wonders who’s interested, why she does it and feels that it’s purely self-indulgent. I often feel the same, pause for a bit, then whack a post out into the ether and get busy in real life again. The often interesting, lovely and thought provoking comments which come back from you guys, plus all the connections I’ve made in the bloggy world, make it feel like a totally good thing, and so those feelings pass again for a while.
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What I didn’t mention when I was rhapsodising about my porridge habit the other day, was that even though I leave it cooking on the lowest setting I often burn it in the pan. I’ve got the knack of stirring it, very carefully if that’s happened, and pouring it out so there are no black bits in my bowl! I must look out for a small non-stick pan.

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I love daffodils and buy lots of bunches every year. These were a present from the market on Saturday. I always think they’re smiley happy flowers, a bit like pansies who have the cutest little faces.

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The knitted poncho has been used plenty. It’s so good for pulling on when I feel too lazy to go upstairs and get a warmer clothing. But the rhubarb ripple hasn’t really ever been used since it was crocheted. It’s been folded with other blankets at the end of the bed in the little room because it doesn’t really ‘go’ at all downstairs. The other day I decided to grab it because it was so chilly when I was sitting knitting and watching tv. It’s now downstairs to stay this Winter – so soft, warm and big enough to snuggle!

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This book is so British!

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A very small section of the many books in The Works which is becoming the place to browse and actually buy craft books, as opposed to looking elsewhere and going home to order more affordable copies online. They have Kat Goldin’s Crochet at Play (it’s where I bought my copy,) Lisa Comfort’s Sew Over it and The Great British Sewing Bee book (NEW SERIES begins next week) as well many other well-known and not-so well-known titles.

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I had to choose a plant for my summer pot for the porch so it can slowly grow on. It was nice to contemplate fuchsias (last Summer’s choice) lilies and geraniums.
I opted for this beautiful apple blossom geranium. I’ll chose some complimenting trailing plants nearer the time of potting up. Some gorgeous verbena (aztec dark pink magic) plants have caught my eye. They’re definitely on the short-list.
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Annoying! The back door is jammed, the lock has a fault now for some reason. A guy came to fix it last week and broke the key off in the lock. I came home to half a key on its keyring on the kitchen worktop, which made me giggle despite myself. Let’s hope he does a better job of sorting it out on Friday!
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You’ve seen this meadow here many times, but it’s never been this flooded in all the years we’ve lived here. It’s now turned into a lake really, especially further out. I’m glad to see there are still green bits showing as there’s still somewhere for more water to go. (Not thinking about the water table.) I read recently that if it hadn’t done such a good job as a flood plain over the centuries the centre of the city would have been under water many times.
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A cheering end to my 10 random things: my Winter pot of violas with the bulb shoots showing through. Despite the appalling weather it’s actually very mild here, snowdrops and other Spring flowers are appearing early. We’ve had up to 80mph winds and battering rain here, this pot sits in the front porch which is not enclosed, but these fragile little beauties must have a hidden strength!

I hope this hasn’t been too random to read. It is definitely self-indulgent but is the most fun I’ve had in a while making a blog post. Do you feel like doing one too? I’d love you to link to it here in the comments, or just let me know if you have.

Lately

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Look at those gorgeous cottons, I really had fun with these. You’ll see what and why soonish. It made me feel very happy I can say. I stopped and took the photo of the little room’s bed in full use to the side of my desk because it was so colourful and busy looking. I banned myself from using smileys in the middle of posts ages ago, but picture a winking smiley here.

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Spending Christmas money is fun. The 5 year journal is one of the things I treated myself to (from Amazon.) And, it’s fab. You can start anywhere during the year and fill in a few lines in answer to a question posed at the top. Sometimes it’s an easy question, such as: list three foods you ate, what is the oldest item of clothing you’re wearing or what was the most peaceful part of your day today? Others are quite a bit more thought provoking, especially as you have to write succinctly. The trickier questions include: What makes you ‘you’, are you holding a grudge? About? And if you were starting a company what kind would you choose? It’s fun, takes no time at all to fill in really and could be interesting serving as a future aide memoir to where you were, what you were thinking, dreaming, eating, drinking, watching, listening to etc back when you began.

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I had a mini Christmas yesterday with my cousin and her partner. We ate roast lunch, cake and opened presents. It was fun and, like a friend said, there should be more of these pop-up Christmases! Look at my lovely haul – especially the beautiful fabric, ribbon and the lovely coloured owls. They’re going to have to be used for something very special.

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Crafty wise I’m not allowing myself to start another knit until I sew up the fingerless mitts. So, no knitting has been knitted for a few weeks. Boo. I’m visiting a new knitting group this week and think I might take knitty sticks, rather than crochet, so they’ll have be sewn before then. Crochet..? Oh boo as well. I love crocheting in the evening, when the tv, audio book or radio’s on, but dislike darning the ends in as I go as it stops the whizzy crochet. So now I have 12 completed huge granny squares with many ends a flappin’. That’s 480 ends…..

Have you any Christmas presents that you’re really loving and recommend?

This morning

We’d run out of bread yesterday so I decided to mix up the ingredients for another artisan loaf last night.

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This time I used strong white bread flour and left my Kenwood mixer bowl in the airing cupboard overnight as the residual heat is greater than leaving it in the, unheated, dining room overnight.

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We’ve just tried half a slice and crust. It’s got a crispy, chewy crust and soft texture. Wonderful! But how can I take any credit when you simply mix, leave, shape and bake? I don’t feel like I’m doing anything.
If you missed it here’s my first loaf with links to the recipe.
I won’t go on about my bread anymore. Promise.

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Right, back to the little room where I’m sipping peppermint tea, listening to
The Great Gatsby soundtrack and crocheting. What a nice Monday!

Knitted cactus pin cushion

Inspired by a cactus pin cushion I spied in a craft shop in the Summer I decided to have a try at making my own version after my table got a bit scratched by my new pins the other week. They’re too long for my 20131111-102229.jpgpin cushion which I reckon would be termed ‘vintage’ now as the material dates from the 1970s. I’m wondering if these are really millinery pins?

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I glued a circle of felt to the bottom of the flowerpot so it wouldn’t scratch the table. I bought a new terracotta pot although you’d never know with all the glue marks I’ve left. At least I didn’t superglue my fingers together, though I did ruin the trousers I was wearing due to glue blobbage as it set firm in a plastic disc. Oops.

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There’s a lump of polystyrene at the bottom of the flowerpot, then some toy stuffing so the cactus sits at the right height. Next time I might try using rice or similar just because of the huge mess the polystyrene made (see photo on my Facebook page…) when I tried to saw a chunk from a piece I’ve been hoarding.

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How to knit a cactus

I used Stylecraft Special DK Meadow Green, with 4 mm needles.

Cast on 30 stitches for the main body of the cactus
Rows 1 & 2: Knit 2 rows of stocking stitch (that’s 1 row in knit stitch, the next row in purl stitch)
Row 3: Knit a row of garter stitch (that’s all knit stitch)
Repeat these 3 rows until you have a nice tube – check this by keeping the knitting on your needle and folding the rectangle in half until it’s the diameter you’re happy with.
Don’t cast off, just cut the thread leaving a length to thread a needle and gather up all 30 stitches tightly, fasten off securely and darn in the ends. That’s the top of your cactus.

Cast on 15 stitches for the ‘arm’ of the cactus (I probably need to look up cactus terminology?!)
Repeat the 3 row pattern, as for the body, until you’re happy with the tube you’ve made. As above, gather up the stitches and secure.

Crochet some earth!

FR: Chain 6, slip stitch into a circle.
R1: Treble 6-8 into the circle (depending on your tension)
R2: Chain 2, then DC into each treble of the previous round
R3: Chain 2, then DC into each DC of the previous round, increasing into every other stitch
R4: Chain 2, then DC into each DC of the previous round, increasing into every third stitch

Continue rows in the same way increasing into every fourth, then fifth, sixth stitch etc until the circle fits nicely into your pot.

Sew the arm onto the body of the cactus and then sew the cactus onto the earth circle (sounds New Age?!) Use superglue with care, sticking the sides of the earth circle to the pot.

Stab the cactus with an assortment of pins and darning needles until it’s suitably spiky.

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Here it is in use last night as I began preparing to sew a Cath Kidson pattern – a large tote bag.
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It’s an anniversary today – 2 years of The Little Room of Rachell. How time flies! When I look back I’m amazed at how much I’ve made, with lots of learning curves. I really didn’t think I’d still be blogging beyond learning to crochet, which was my goal for the New Year of 2012, but it’s been fun making crafty connections with others and sharing what I’m up to online diary style. So I carried on day by day, week by week without a plan. I just looked at my stats and this is my 305th post! Admittedly I’m rarely short of something to say, both here and in real life! Thank you for reading, especially if you’re part of the little band of followers who’ve been here since the beginning. And thank you for leaving so many great comments (2,374!) I always really appreciate it when you stop to type your thoughts, or respond positively to a post. As many of you know I often reply with an email, it’s been fab batting chatty messages back and forth.

The blog’s definitely evolved and is not solely crochet focused anymore. This year I’ve been dabbling in all sorts of crafts, although crochet is still a big part of how I spend my spare time. I joined a knitting group in the Autumn and find it far easier to crochet while I chat and get to know the group. I don’t have to look at what I’m doing all the time, and I always take something simple like the huge Granny Squares so there’s no counting or complicated pattern to follow. Several of the group are also both crocheters and knitters which is cool.  I have to say that it’s nice to watch someone else also wave a hook and a glass of wine around!

Have a fun New Year’s Eve! Enjoy reflecting on the past year and looking ahead with crafty resolutions, learning goals or just anticipating lots of creative fun to come in 2014. :-D xxxx

2013

A selection of this year’s highlights. (Top of my list for 2014 is to enjoy putting the CAL blocks together, after a refreshing break. You should know I’m basically pre-empting comments here!) I’ve got many, many more photos of craft events, exhibitions and shops I’ve been lucky enough to visit too, probably enough for another gallery times ten. What a fun and creative year.

Meeting other crafty peeps has been a highlight, I see I wrote the same on last year’s gallery 2012.  I’ve always loved meeting new people and not being a shy sort find it all a bit of an adventure. Putting on some music, the radio or an audio book and settling down to make something is one of my favourite ways to relax, apart from reading, cooking or baking. But I have to say that there’s nothing like meeting others – having a good chat and seeing what they’re making. Social crafting seems to be one of the best ways to meet people too. I reckon if you’re shy then joining a crafting group works well as you can always focus on what you’re crocheting, knitting or sewing or whatever to calm your initial nerves. If you’re stuck for conversation just ask what kind of yarn (or whatever) they’re using and generally you’re off!

Have you joined any new crafty groups this year? Taken part in any workshops? Do you enjoy social crafting, or prefer it to be solely during your alone time?

Left-Handed Crochet

I’ve been meaning to put my post on Left Handed Crochet here for ages. I originally wrote it for Kat Goldin’s Crochet Camp on her Slugs on the Refrigerator blog way back in the Summer but wanted to put a copy here also for any fellow lefties who might be passing.

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Leftie crochet

After a quick Google of the percentage of left handed people globally I’ve found that figures vary between 10-15%. This illustrates a fact that I’ve always known – there really aren’t very many of us around.

It’s interesting that there seem to be slightly more men than women who are lefties, fewer who crochet though no doubt. I’ve also read statements that say left-handed people produce an above-average quota of high achievers. Bring it on! Alexander the Great, John McEnroe and Billy the Kid are listed as notable lefties in one article, which discusses how left handers are better in a fight because of the element of surprise (!) but perhaps we’d better stick to crochet for now shall we?!

When I’ve crocheted in public I’ve had sometimes comments about looking “cack-handed”, been told it “looks really odd like that” and I’ve also been asked “Don’t you find it hard – doing it like that?” The last one just makes me laugh. Actually I like being different to the majority, although when I was learning to crochet it was a different story as I grappled with instructions and illustrations where the hook was always shown held in the right hand. I tried to squint and imagine it all reversed, but this wasn’t very successful at the beginning.

I have heard that you can learn from or teach, a right hander by sitting opposite them and copying their actions as if they are a mirror image. I haven’t tried this approach yet. I need a willing victim to try this experiment.20130526-075829.jpg

Useful resources

In the end I found a small range of teaching aids. The best one was a smallish booklet I found on Amazon called Crochet Unravelled by Claire Bojczuk, which is for complete beginners and uses illustrations for left and right handers. I can’t tell you how good I found this simple straightforward guide. To be honest I credit Claire Bojczuk with teaching me to crochet. I don’t know her, we’ve never met or corresponded but I think I’d give her a bunch of flowers if we ever did!

YouTube videos showing left handed demos can be really useful as they’ll show you ways of holding the hook and how to scoop the yarn in a clockwise direction (as opposed to the righties who scoop it up anticlockwise.) When I was learning I watched sometimes, just for the pleasure and encouragement of seeing another leftie. I don’t know any other left handed crocheters and sometimes just watching for a few minutes can set you on your way; especially if you’re having problems visualising what to do, don’t know where to go into a stitch or are just feeling a little fed up of instructions written for a right hander.

Simply Crochet magazine has a how-to section at the back every issue which includes a photo tutorial for some stitches for left and right handers. This approach seems to be pretty rare compared to most crochet and craft magazines.

There are several Ravelry groups for left-handed crocheters, where I’m sure you would be welcome to ask questions and seek advice.

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Equipment

Although I do use left-handed scissors when cutting lots of paper or fabric, I haven’t found that I’ve needed any different tools for crochet. If you do know of something crochet related for lefties I’d love to know about it, please.

Crocheting in rows

If you’re left handed you’ll be crocheting rows from left to right. When you begin your first row (called the foundation row) you’ll be working along the chains from the left to the right.

When a pattern tells you that the foundation row is the right side of the work remember that’s the side where the cut tail of the yarn will be hanging down on the right hand-side. If the foundation row is the wrong side of the work the cut tail of yarn should be on the left. Just so that I remember I usually don’t darn this in until the end as it reminds me which side I need to darn into and which to leave.

Crocheting in rounds

As a leftie you’ll be crocheting around to the right, or clockwise. This is worth remembering when you are more experienced and start using symbol patterns. These types of patterns show the stitches going to the left for right handers, but you will be doing the same stitches in the same order but going around to the right. Are you beginning to see why the moral support of YouTube videos, books and tutorials for lefties can be so encouraging at times?

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Final thoughts

It’s just a case of remembering that the pattern will be written assuming that you’re right-handed 99% of the time. Most of the time this doesn’t matter at all, but just pause and think about the instructions before you begin. For example: if you’re going to try some colourwork you might need to reverse the instructions, unless the design is symmetrical. So, if you’re told to follow the chart with odd numbered rows going from right to left, just remember that your rows are going to be from the left to the right.

Is all this confusing? As clear as mud? Don’t worry – once you’ve got the hang of crochet as a leftie everything will become second nature and you won’t think about it too much, apart from sometimes when you might find yourself saying ‘Oh these crazy right-handers….!’

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How about you?

 

Simply Crochet: Filet Crochet Hearts

Something new…

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I’ve fancied trying my hand (hook!) at filet crochet for ages, so when I spotted Anne Egan’s sweet hearts in Simply Crochet issue 11 I had to give it a whirl.

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Sweet don’t you think? Easy too!

I can see all kinds of possibilities for Valentine’s Day projects too…

Soothing Granny Squares

After a really really frustrating week, craft wise, with faulty knitting needles, the wrong size cables for my new KnitPro Symfonie interchangeable needle set (bought with my crochet commission ) and a pattern I can’t seem to get to grips with (does it work for lefties???? Is it me???? I’ve turned to the designer for help and will hopefully see what’s the issue next week) I’ve turned to my soothing easy-to-do-with-your-eyes-closed (I’ve tried) huge granny squares.

I’ve just arrived at a hotel and am in the room waiting for my weekend with the girls to begin. Roll on wine, chocolate etc as well as some longish bracing seaside walks, we hope! Meanwhile I thought I’d show you how my huge Granny Squares are going along. Last night I crocheted the rest of the squares’ centres as it feels downhill from there if you know you have all the pieces in progress. It works for me anyway.

I like these cheery squares but have to admit that I feel I’ve used this combination of colours enough now; which is why I wanted to use up my leftovers and move on to others in the future.

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20131129-151103.jpgThe number of times I’ve changed the title of this post is laughable – Granny love – sounds a bit dodgy to me today, Granny therapy – err no, Soothing Huge Grannies – hmmmm not! Think I might need the clarity a glass or two of wine will bring…

Have a fun weekend all. See you on the other side!

Crocheted Raspberry Scarf

The pattern by Rebecca Jackson can be found on Ravelry: Claudia scarf. It’s been in the making for several months as it wasn’t a crochet project to spend long periods making. It’s crocheted in 4 ply using a 3mm hook, so takes a bit (a lot) of time as I found it to be a little fiddly. It might have something to do with the hook I used. Perhaps Father Christmas might bring me a Clover Armour 3mm hook?

Details
Yarn: Sirdar Country Style, 4 ply – a wool blend
Raspberry – shade number 0527.
Quantity yarn used: 100g – exactly 2 balls
Hook size 3mm
Length: 67″
Width: 8″

I didn’t follow the pattern exactly as I couldn’t really see the point of breaking off after 85 rows and joining to the initial chain, so I carried on crocheting until it was the length I wanted, or until I ran out of wool. Happily both of these happened at the same time!

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I always thought the scarf might be a gift, but wasn’t entirely sure. When I tried it on I found it just slightly too scratchy. I think I’m sensitive to some wool or blends. A relative came to dinner earlier this week and tried it on. You know it’s meant to go to a person when she says “This will go really well with my black jacket, and my new coat.”

After a very chilly walk I’m dreaming of knitting a new hat next, chunky yarn here I come….!

Really nice shopping

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

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

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

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What crafty items have you bought lately?

Commissioned

Look at this lovely lot of colours…

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I’ve been asked to make some crochet samples to put in my local shop, around their new yarns as samples for customers and perhaps provide a little colour inspiration.

I have to say that my mind is spinning with possibilities: flowers, perhaps crocheted together hanging down on the shelves, a little seasonal family of hedgehogs? Some mini bunting….?

I’ve been offered some money per hour for the crochet, and a completely free rein to make whatever I want. But when you get an exuberantly warm welcome, enjoy a friendly chat with both the Mr & Mrs and always leave smiling how can you charge for doing a favour, especially when it’s something you love?

Oh and they’ve gratefully received rainbow trout on several occasions which really puts them high in my estimation. (You really can have enough trout.)

No more chatting….I’m off to create.