Definitely not grey!

Knitting: I’m currently finishing off knitting the ribbing on my Heinz cowl. It’s obviously named for their brightly coloured tomato soup….

It’s most of a ball of leftover Stylecraft Special DK matador from the William Morris blanket I made for Mum five years ago. I didn’t want to incorporate it into my knitted stripy blanket and this will keep someone’s neck cosy.

It’s plain knitting and was again started when I was searching for something easy, which wouldn’t make my hands hurt. Once again surprise-surprise there was no such thing and so I don’t think you’ve ever seen this either. It was definitely last year, if not before, because I asked one of my nieces if they liked red. I thought she might want it. Without even seeing it or knowing why I was asking, her nose wrinkled and she said “No, not red.” Ask an honest question, get an honest answer! No worries. I know where I’ll pass it on.

Thanks to my friend Phil, here’s the pattern I used, for an easy guide as to how many stitches to cast on.

Reading: although the last book in the Scottish Bookshop series was full of typos and had a complete lack of editing, (including the wrong character’s name in a sentence!) I have returned to Jenny Colgan. Her books are warm and cosy. You know exactly what you’re getting and they’re just so nice. After reading a thriller, full of terrorism, multiple gory deaths and a shed load of swearing, I fancied something light and nice for December. So, I’m reading 500 Miles from you.

The beginning surprised me rather and I wondered if Jenny is out to totally change her blueprint, but it’s settling down into very familiar territory now. There’s an important message there about signing up to something which might be vitally important for others, but I’m not giving you any spoilers.

Joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along.

Yarn Along – November

Joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along once again. Why don’t you join us?

Yarn Along – October

With my group singing classes having restarted, via Zoom for now, after six months of silence and being able to craft a little again, I’m feeling much more like myself. Does that sound odd? Maybe you know what I mean? I have my creative ducks in a row once more. I’ve always made stuff, sung, read and cooked, since childhood. It’s simple straightforward stuff which makes me feel happy and relaxed. I’m pretty low-maintenance, which is probably a very good thing in these uncertain times.

I’m knitting a Close to You scarf designed by Justyna Lorkowska and enjoying the subtle colour changes in the Fyberspates four ply Vivacious yarn very much.

By the way, the chocolate in the photo was a late birthday present, it’s good quality milk chocolate with coconut and lime. It was delicious with that mug of black Assam tea. (I always like to know those little details.)

As for reading: I’ve read a quarter of Elizabeth Gilbert’s City of Girls so far. It’s 1940 and nineteen year old Vivian has been sent in disgrace to live with her aunt Peg in NYC. Peg owns a crumbling old theatre and puts on flamboyant shows with a limited range of storylines. The theatre seems to have an infinite number of apartments above it. This of course is the perfect setting for lots of weird and wonderful characters. I’m currently enjoying descriptions of trunks of tailor-made clothes which have just arrived with Edna and Walter. They have come to the city fresh from an ocean liner from England, with nowhere else to live and no work.

Joining in with Ginny’s monthly Yarn Along (and only a day late this month!) Check it out – it’s a really good way to explore blogs from around the world. There’s such a variety of knitting and crochet going on. Plus you might pick up a good book recommendation too.

Yarn Along – September

Yesterday, on a beautiful crisp newly minted autumn Sunday morning, I sat up in bed all cosy listening to Liza Tarbuck’s Saturday radio show on the BBC Sounds app and undid every single stitch I’d done of my Coast Blanket while in West Cornwall last week (I told you its name would probably change lots of times) and restarted it.

I don’t want the square tilting so I had tried three different ways of turning each round and have now found a method I’m much happier with. I don’t think you can see where I’ve turned the hook and square? Tell me if you can see, I won’t mind. I won’t be undoing it again as I’m happy. I know no one visiting me and snuggling under my blankets would have noticed unless they were really looking, and probably non-crocheters wouldn’t at all, but they were bugging me. I’m a sometime perfectionist.

I can hear you shouting the word “Swatch!” And I’m shrugging back at you.

I managed to redo this yesterday. Too much for my hands but I enjoyed it. Today Ouch!

I’m one of a group of people on Instagram who are currently making simple granny square blankets. Motif, tapestry and intricate showy-offy colourwork crochet is all very well and good, but they don’t make the heart sing as much as a good old granny square! Sometimes plain and cosy is enough and beautiful in its simplicity.

I feel like I’m spotting granny square blankets on nearly everything I watch right now. For example: The Duchess on Netflix and Doc Martin on Britbox this weekend. It’s really fun to shout “CROCHET!” at the screen. I’m not sure how anyone else feels about this habit. I’m not asking because I don’t want to stop…

I believe crochet originated as a thrifty way to use up leftover wool from knitting projects, or to reuse it from old garments. I love it when you see people doing similar with leftovers, albeit in these times of plenty. That’s how I came to be making my Tilted Squares Blanket actually. I wanted to use up the remnants of the one and only yarn pack I’d bought when I was a new crocheter, before I started to choose my own colour combos.

I know my Coast Blanket isn’t in the waste-not-want-not category in the slightest (See here ) but I’m absolutely loving this Hayfield Spirit variegated yarn. I’ve never used variegated for a blanket before. It keeps it interesting seeing the colours change. There will be lots of multicoloured rounds as it grows bigger, but it’s so pretty I don’t think it will grate. There’s going to be fewer weaker spots, because there won’t be very many ends to darn in all compared to changing yarns on every round. Hardly any darning = big win.

I think I’ve read or listened to everything Tracy Chevalier’s written. I love her blend of historical fact and real life people blended with fictional characters. You can visit or Google most of the places in her stories too.

I enjoy stories set in America, especially during pioneer times. When I saw this paperback in one of favourite charity shops for £1 I grabbed it for my holiday read.

1838: James and Sadie Goodenough have settled where their wagon got stuck – in the muddy, stagnant swamps of northwest Ohio. They and their five children work relentlessly to tame their patch of land, buying saplings from a local tree man known as John Appleseed so they can cultivate the fifty apple trees required to stake their claim on the property. But the orchard they plant sows the seeds of a long battle. James loves the apples, reminders of an easier life back in Connecticut; while Sadie prefers the applejack they make, an alcoholic refuge from brutal frontier life.

1853: Their youngest child Robert is wandering through Gold Rush California. Restless and haunted by the broken family he left behind, he has made his way alone across the country. In the redwood and giant sequoia groves he finds some solace, collecting seeds for a naturalist who sells plants from the new world to the gardeners of England. But you can run only so far, even in America, and when Robert’s past makes an unexpected appearance he must decide whether to strike out again or stake his own claim to a home at last.
Source: GoodReads

I’m probably about 95% of the way through. It’s been a satisfying read, but I wonder if the story will abruptly end? There seems to be so much more to say and very few pages in which to say it. This is probably another way of saying that I don’t want it to end!

Joining in late with Ginny’s Yarn Along once again, but better late than never, right?

Yarn Along – August

This photo was definitely not taken in the last few days. It’s been cool and rainy with 40+ mph winds again. But I did grab an hour to sit in the garden in gorgeous sun on Monday, and that’s when I finally finished my second make of the year. I’m so pleased with the pink and grey Rowan cottons together that I can’t bring myself to use it as an actual pot-holder yet. It’s hung on a cupboard door knob to be admired for a while. I know, I know….!

As for the other kind of yarn: I’m having a bit of a rereading fest at the mo. There are so many good books being published all the time plus trillions I haven’t read yet, but I’ve fancied rereading a few favourites for ages. And so I am. The first I finished this week: Bertie, May and Mrs Fish by Xandra Bingley. Quite brutal in parts but there’s something appealing about this unsentimental pen sketch of rural life on a farm in the post-war years.

My current library ebook is in prep for the next in the series, Big Sky which was published last year. I last read Started Early, Took my Dog by Kate Atkinson (one of my favourite authors) in 2011 so wanted a recap on where we left Jackson and with whom. I forget about the quality of her writing, there’s so much in this that I’m curious about and looking up: poems, poets, places and quotes.

Joining in better-late-than-never this month, just, with Ginny’s Yarn Along.

Lucky Dip No. 1.

So, I’ve delved into my craft box and the lucky dip of unfinished makes brought up this pretty little bag that I barely remember sewing. I had no idea what it contained either! If it’s a sock it’s going to the bottom of the box. You probably knew that already, right?

I’m always so perfectionist when it comes to sewing. All I can see is wobbly lines of stitches after I’ve made something. But now I look at the straightness of the top stitching and the fact that the bag is double lined (contrasting green fabric inside) and I’m quite impressed with myself! Must do more sewing and stop trying to be a perfectionist. Expecting to be absolutely A1 at something new means your enjoyment is sapped and then I really don’t do any at all. I can’t remember the last time I got my machine out. If only someone would do the cutting out for me. Anyone else have a struggle cutting accurately?!

Anyway, back on topic. Lucky dip…

I don’t know that you’ve even seen this before? I bought the Rowan cotton in a sale for silly money in a knit and crochet shop after a dentist appointment. I do remember that part!

It was during my non-crafting time when I thought I might have a go at something simple; but of course using cotton isn’t at all easy on the hands even in normal times, so I crocheted what you see and put it away.

Less trying to get the agapanthus in the background and more of the crochet!

I note that it’s not even listed in my Ravelry projects. Luckily this is a stitch I’ve used before to make textured dishcloths and pot holders. I found the pattern written in my little notebook and I’d even marked the page, so I can carry on with it where I left off. Hurray!

I’ll combine this with a late entry to Ginny’s Yarn Along as I’m really into a novel that most probably read years ago: Sebastian Faulks novel Engleby. I’m listening to the audio version, but also reading bits and bobs as I have an e-library book too. I found it realllllly good to listen to while doing an hour and a half of deadheading and weeding in the garden on Tuesday. We’ve just been away for 5 days and the garden was bursting with growth and many, many faded blooms. So much housekeeping, but worth it for all the colour and general loveliness.

My concentration has improved again and I’ve been racing through books for the last few months.

My other book is a 99p deal I bought the other night. It’s very on the light side, but I’m quite interested in the story so won’t give up on it, though was very tempted to about a third of the way in. It’s The Missing Letters of Mrs Bright by Beth Miller.

Tell me what you’re making and reading at the mo? Please? If you’re not doing either, what’s keeping you busy?

Yarning along

Yes! A little crochet is happening nowadays. As long as I don’t do too much at a time, then have a break for a day or two it seems ok. And today it was in the lovely sunny weather that’s returned. It was 22 degrees today, perfect for sitting in the garden with a hook in hand and a good audio book playing.

What do you think I’m making? I wonder if you’ll get it?

I usually easily read a book a week, have done for years, but during the current situation, for the last two months, I’ve found it really difficult to concentrate. I think I’ve probably read little more than a book a month. Personally it was a really terrible time, then less terrible and then full of sheer relief and joy (I don’t think anyone has clapped as loudly to thank the NHS!) Now life has mostly gone back to the current new normal. Thank goodness.

Anyway, let’s move on.

My last audio book was the inspiration for the film Blinded by the Light: Greetings from Bury Park by Sarfraz Manzoor too. (Here it is from Audible.)

Have you also experienced the lack of concentration thing? I’ve been all over the place. Not just with reading, but that has stood out.

Things seem to be improving now and luckily I’ve chosen the perfect book for me right now. Isn’t it magical when that happens?

Remarkable Creatures is based upon the real lives of Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot. Here’s the blurb from Google books:

Mary Anning, born in a poor family, lived in Lyme Regis and from an early age was fascinated by the fossils, then called snake stones and devil’s toenails, that could then be picked up on the beaches. She became far more interested when she realised that these could be sold to the gentry who had grown into avid collectors. She was supported by her family in her enterprise but was often ripped off by the buyers and derided by the scientists. One person came to her rescue: Elizabeth Philpot, daughter of a wealthy family who had settled in Dorset to escape the stultifying respectability of genteel London society. The two women, of different ages and very different class and background, became unlikely friends but the relationship was to take on stranger twists as the excitement of the fossil discoveries – Mary Anning finds the first complete plesiosaur – turns to religious difficulties as the importance of these finds begins to spread.

I already really rate Tracey Chevalier’s writing. The amount of research she does underpin her novels and is reflected in the quality of her writing. She has the knack of bringing dry facts and histories to life. Her stories are never dull and are populated with sympathetic and believable characters.

I’ve got exciting news to tell you about. Exciting for me after all this time. That won’t be for a bit. I might even be back with another post before…calm yourselves – I know that is a lot to take in!

What are you Yarning Along making and reading? Let’s do this again from time to time. I wasn’t sure what to write about, but knew I wanted to again today, so fell back on one of my old favourites. But it only really works if you join in too. Thanks for reading. I can’t wait for your comments.

Joining in belatedly this month with Ginny.

Yarn Along – June

Sunday’s National Trust secondhand booksale find! £2:50, only published last year and in mint condition. By Lisa Cook – Lisasattik on Insta.

The day after I tried knitting again ( see here ) I went off to my favourite yarn shop to buy some yarn to celebrate. Someone was away on a 10 day fishing trip and had left me emergency money only to be used in case of emergency. Last time I went on a massive pub crawl with a friend until the early hours, this year I was very, very sensible and hadn’t touched any of it. A few days before his return I thought a little might be well spent on a couple of bottles of Cornish Orchards cider and a ball of new yarn. Solid plan?

I was thinking of buying something neutral, perhaps to crochet a motif at a time; as I’m trying to rehabilitate my hand after injury last year (as you already know.) Making small pieces to eventually turn into a blanket is doable in short bursts, especially as I reckon you-can-never-make-too-many-blankets. So, of course when I got home it was with variegated yarn with glittery thread through it….and a shawl pattern.

It’s Katia Silver Paint (100) and is a soft mix of acrylic and a little wool, the glittery thread is gold. It crochets up really nicely. I’m making an Ana Lucia shawl. It’s going to be slow, but slow progress is better than no progress. This has been my mantra for most of the last year.

I’m still reading Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks, this is not being devoured at all, but I’m determined to finish it. I don’t dislike the book, but it’s rather dry and the telling feels slow. It doesn’t help that I often find I’ve nodded off while reading at bedtime (a new and slightly worrying development) and my Kindle has long gone into sleep mode too.

I also started to read Tracey Thorn’s memoir Another Planet: a Teenager in Suburbia She writes in an engaging style.

I have two audio books on the go too: Audible’s version of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road; I really like Matt Dillon’s performance of this, his accent and voice are good and finally Ruby Wax’s new one: No Brainer. She always makes me chuckle; I like her Sane New World: Taming the Mind.

What are you making and reading?

Joining in with Ginny’s monthly Yarn Along once again. Hurrah!

Yarn Along – January

Today it’s a dark afternoon and steadily growing colder. I made spicy lentil and coconut vegetable soup for lunch and read some Yarn Along blog posts while it cooked. After taking this photo I swapped the peppermint tea for hot chocolate with mini marshmallows. That’s my treat.

I don’t know about you, but after Christmas I always want to eat more veggie food than usual. I think it’s an intuitive thing to find more of a balance after quite a few meals with turkey, sausage meat and ham. If you can recommend any recipes, please do. Hugh is off my bookshelf ready and waiting too.

I’m desperately trying to ignore the fact that I have Hotel Chocolat goodies calling me. Today is Day One post-Christmas and epiphany (which is when we take down all the decs.) Monday and Tuesday were also Day One but ended with less success than planned chocolate.

Ignoring the total craft ban I optimistically tried again for 10 minutes of crochet during the Crimbo Limbo week, that gorgeously lazy time between Christmas and New Year. Of course it turned into 30 minutes, because I’m desperate to be making again after months of nothing, so I had to admit to stupidity and run for an ice pack. I won’t tell the Hand Therapist when I see her at the end of the month. My hand is definitely improving, but it’s a painfully slow process. Still, the upside is I have a legitimate photo to share for Ginny’s monthly Yarn Along. Hurrah!

The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton was ready to be collected from the library a few days ago. It’s an absolute brick of a hardback. Actually, hang on while I go and weigh it….blimey, it’s nearly a kilo, at 982g! This is not going to be a book to read in bed. I won’t be able to hold it. I’ll rest it on a cushion on my lap and read it downstairs instead.

I know, the plant above (a goose foot?) needs some R&R after being popped down somewhere inappropriate to make room for the tree at Christmas. Luckily it’s always very forgiving and seems to bounce back with glossy leaves and a perky demeanour. This poinsettia’s much happier…

What are you making and reading?

Happy New Year!

Yearning Along

Now don’t get all excited; this is something I started crocheting after the hot water bottle cosy, then my hand therapist told me I was forbidden to do any craft, as it is too intense for my injured hand.

I think I must be an addict because, even bringing it out to photograph today, I couldn’t help doing a row as they are very short. It couldn’t really hurt, surely? By the time I would have finished one teeny row my hand would barely even recognise that I’ve done anything, would it? Stupid! So I’ve got to put it back in the craft box and not even look at it. My post title is apt isn’t it? On the positive side my hand is definitely improving, it’s a really slow process but I’m gradually using it more, without lasting pain. Apparently it can take six months to one year to settle, so I’m now expecting to be able to crochet again next Easter…woohoo, bunnies and chicks here we come!

Ohh, but isn’t aran yarn great? That and a chunky hook and a project literally flies away, finished in about five minutes!

I had a look at the secondhand book area during our visit to Stowe on Sunday (I’ll do a separate post about this) where they had put together a seasonal shelf. They weren’t necessarily all Christmas themed books, but any with December, winter or snow in the title, or an appropriate cover. I love this type of thing, it’s just so thoughtful and creative. The shelf looked really appealing. I wish I’d taken some photos, but to be honest I was too busy browsing the books!

The Snow Rose is the book I chose, despite knowing nothing about the author, but I seem to have picked a goodie. A woman is running away from someone or somewhere, with her young daughter in tow. She has become the guardian of a very large dilapidated old country house in the middle of nowhere. Instantly you are alert as to why. Is she a reliable narrator, I keep wondering? Plus the house may hold some mysterious secrets of its own, and what about the two elderly sisters who live in a cottage nearby. What is their connection to the house? I’ve only read seven and a half chapters and I’m gripped!

Another crochet lover addict and I enjoy similar books, we often post pics of them on Instagram. The other day we both looked up each other’s current read, and commented that they looked good, so I suggested we do a book swap. She agreed, so I already have one of my next reads lined up. Isn’t that nice?

A good book, hot chocolate with as many mini pink and white mini marshmallows as I can sprinkle on top and there’s a pretty perfect winter evening.

Are you reading anything good at the moment? Anything you would recommend?

Joining in with Ginny’s December Yarn Along.

Ps: Are you watching / recording Kirsties Homemade Kitchen on C4? There are 15 sparkly episodes to enjoy, featuring some familiar crafty faces

Is that a drum roll I hear?

A finished thing? Yes!!!!

Making:

I used Emma’s pattern (thank you, clever you) for the linen stitch stripy inspiration and shaping, but then diverged because I needed to make it slightly wider to fit my bottle. So, I crocheted twice around each piece. I double crocheted around the sides once, doing only single crochet at the top and bottom as I didn’t need to add to the overall length. Then all around once more with half treble stitches on both sides and double crochet at the top and bottom. After double crocheting the pieces together along the sides I worked 8 or so rows of DC back and forth along the bottom of the back piece to make a flap. I didn’t want to stitch the hot water bottle into the cosy by crocheting it all together. I know what I’m like; I could easily spill some hot chocolate on it and have to cut it all apart to wash the cover! The flap is tucked up inside. That might be enough without any fastenings, since the bottle’s unlikely to work itself out of the cover and you tend to carry it holding onto the neck.

I made the collar long enough to come 1/2” / 1.5cm above the top of the top of the bottle. I prefer the look of the right side of the crochet on the outside so didn’t make the collar long enough to fold over.

I’ve got to confess that I don’t think I’ve used a hot water bottle in bed since I was a child. I think I might have when I lived in Australia in winter though. The houses were ideal for staying cool in the summer, but were often really cold in the winter.

I did use my HWB in the spring when my hand needed heat treatment initially as it felt really stiff and sore, then alternated it with a cold pack to aid healing and relief.

It would be nice to snuggle up with on a very cold day, when I’m snuggled on the sofa. It’s just been a pleasure making something again, albeit in short bursts. It’s my first finished item since July when I blocked my Edenvale cowl.

The cosy is really warm and lovely with the yarn’s wool content. I much prefer the feel of Stylecraft’s Life Aran with its 25% wool blend, compared to the 100% acrylic version. I’m going to look for something else to make with the remnants I have from the slouchy beanies I made for a friend. Here’s the first. And the second, I really like the maroon yarn.

Reading:

This week I’m reading Moonfleet by J. Mead Falkner and listening to I Found You by Lisa Jewell. They’re completely different books, but both are equally as compelling as the other.

Moonfleet was published in 1898. The story begins in a Dorset village in 1757. It’s the tale of young John Trenchard who becomes involved in the smuggling trade.

I Found You concerns a man found on a beach, by Alice who lives nearby. He has no memory of who he is, or where he has come from. Another man (or is it the same?) has not returned home from work to Lily, his brand new wife. This is an audiobook I’m finding it hard to turn off. I’m actually pleased when I wake very early in the morning, so I can listen to some more! I love it when you can’t put your book down, either reading or listening to it.

Made anything from start to finish lately, or have you bigger things on the go? What are you reading? Do you like audio books?

Joining in with Ginny’s November Yarn Along

“I hope you haven’t done too much!”

I know, me too, but I had to try.

I saw Emma’s Hot Water Bottle Cosy earlier and thought it might be a good thing to try testing my hand out again. I’ve noticed a *slight* improvement this week, so I galloped upstairs to my stash of yarn and dug out my 5.5 mm hook. If I’m going to be honest I tried six places before I found it. I’m usually ‘a place for everything, everything in its place’ type, so when I couldn’t immediately lay my hand on the hook I could feel myself getting almost frantic, tempted to throw everything over my shoulder. Never the wisest choice, is it? Who’s got to pick it all up again at the end?! Deep breaths. And guess what? It was at the bottom of the first bag I looked in. Typical.

I planned to do only 10 minutes crochet, as advised before things got very painful. And so I did. I set an alarm actually, in the style of a sensible adult. It went off and I thought I’d just finish the next row, which I also timed. And then I wiggled my wrist, flexed my elbow and thought I could probably get away with a little bit more…always a risky strategy, isn’t it? Like deciding you’ll read one more chapter before lights out, and finding yourself finishing the whole book at 3 AM.

As you know this is the first craft of any kind I’ve done in weeks and weeks, and before that it was only a few times from April onwards. I’ve felt bereft at times, but I have perfected my Sourdough bread as I can make it one handed!

Last night I was looking for some bits for my sewing machine, as I’ve lent it to someone, and opened up a box full of various crafty things: pom-pom makers, Tunisian crochet hook, DPNs, vintage patterns, the lace tatting shuttle I bought in the sale at John Lewis a long time ago and have never even taken out of the packet, darning needles, stitch holders, spare crochet hooks etc and honestly it was like opening someone else’s kit. It feels like another life now.

I’m going back to see the Hand and Wrist Consultant and a Hand Therapist next week. It’s been so weird being one-handed. Now I’m trying things like picking up fairly lightweight items, opening door handles and taking small items, going carefully testing how it feels.

Anyway, I really enjoyed crocheting with this wool blend aran and a 5.5mm hook. It’s soft and cosy. Because the starting chain is only 20 and it’s aran yarn, it grows exponentially. That’s perfect if you’re limited time-wise or just want to see something grow quickly.

Next week I’ll be back with my monthly Taking Stock post and hopefully after that I can show you a crochet update. That’s almost a magical sentence. A Crochet Update!

Cross fingers and toes for me please.

Oh, the book has a playlist on Spotify if you want to play some of the music featured in the story. That’s pretty cool, huh.

Joining in with Ginny’s October Yarn Along.

September Yarn Along

Although still lovely and warm in the early 20s, it’s definitely feeling like we’re on the cusp of autumn now. The horse chestnut leaves are mostly brown and I found a pocketful of shiny new conkers at the weekend. My thoughts are starting to turn to soup and stews, rather than salads and lighter meals; these are always signifiers of the change of season. It’s also time to work on blanket making, as has become traditional this time of year.

I’ve dug out the strips of my linen stitch crochet and found there are now enough for a good sized baby blanket, or a lap blanket for an adult. I’ve sent several parcels of woolly things Knit for Peace and I imagine this will be destined for them too, unless I know anybody who needs this blanket.

I’ll start to darn the numerous ends this week and then decide on the joining method. I might try a whatchamacallit braid, I’m not sure. Originally I wanted an invisible join, so it looked truly patchworky. This is why I left the ends long, but now I realise there will be weaker joins if I change colours all along the edge of each colour block. I’ve got the darning time to consider the matter. What do you think?

I’m reading The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach, the book that inspired the film(s). When I saw it in the library I pounced upon it, then realised after the first few chapters that I’d already listened to the audio version in 2012. It’s well written and the characters are distinctive, so I’m sticking with it.

I’m still listening to The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar. It’s one of my best audio books this year due to the original story and Juliet Stevenson’s lively narration.

If you like book talk and enjoy hearing interviews with authors then I recommend Simon Mayo’s Books of the Year podcast. It’s free on iTunes and Acast. Ahem…someone has had her emails read out on the last two episodes *cough cough* as she is an avid listener. Kate Atkinson is to be featured soon and I cannot wait. I love her writing. Human Croquet is my favourite.

 

Joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along.

All good things

I have a small stack of good books to read, and have found what turns out to be a really gripping audio book. You know when you enjoy reading, but sometimes you really love reading? That’s what’s happening to me at the moment. I’m never without a book and an audiobook on the go, but sometimes feel like they’re particularly ‘flowing’ and can’t wait to get to bed to read and find myself inventing reasons to take a long bus or train trip.

I popped into the library the other day and quickly grabbed a selection of books to share with Mum. Lately I’ve bought about five 99p Kindle Daily Deals and my favourite charity shop (remember my red treasure pot?) has an offer on. So I found myself picking up two books and searching for a third, as they’re currently three for £1. This is dangerous! I dislike having too many books stacked up to read. For me it can turn reading into a chore. If I have books too long it can take the sparkle out of what attracted me to them in the first place. I’m a pretty spontaneous person and while I like a little planning, I also love going with the flow; choosing what appeals to me at the time. So I put the two paperbacks down before I was tempted. I can always pop back there anytime.

I’ve had The Lost Art of Letter Writing on my bedside cabinet for a few weeks, but wanted to finish other books before I started it. I’d seen, or heard, about it somewhere and the title instantly grabbed me. When I was young I used to write letters all the time. I remember keeping a record one year and by Christmastime discovered I’d sent over 350 to friends and pen-friends! I miss getting handwritten letters, there was something really nice about the surprise of hearing the flap of the letter box ding and settling down somewhere comfy to read. You don’t get that joy with an email, or instant messages. It’s just not the same at all.

Anyway, if you fancy reading this then I have to warn you that the first chapter is really syrupy. I wasn’t sure if I could stomach the whole book if it was all going to be like that; but from the second chapter onwards it’s compelling. I’m enjoying the writing, there are magical elements and interesting characters.

The audio book is a delight. Juliet Stevenson is a superb actress, she brings books to life. The writing’s richly descriptive: you can see and hear the silk of the gown swishing on the floor, hair powder puffing over the room and settling over the furniture and the howls of the children as they are confronted by the mermaid (I laughed. I know I shouldn’t.) The late 18th century setting and original characters feel fresh after my recent reads set around WW1. These were The Dust that Falls from Dreams by Louis de Bernieres and The Alice Network by Kate Quinn.

Recently I’ve also read The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie, which was a decent enough story, but not brilliant. If you like interlinking stories with bits and pieces from multiple characters’ perspectives, then it’s maybe one for you. I was tempted to get my sewing machine out again, after a long time. I have not threaded it this year at all. Also I must talk to Mum about the family Singer Sewing Machines, she has a couple: one was my grandmother’s and the other my great grandmother’s. I want to know if I can do any research on where and exactly when they were made.

I’ve managed to do only a couple more rows of my Palmyra Diamond Wrap. Instead of procrastinating any longer, wishing to avoid the hassle of a hospital visit and resulting treatment, hoping for a magically non-sore hand, I have finally made myself call to make that referral hospital appointment with the wrist and hand consultant. It took all of 3 minutes and I’ll be going in early September, at the ridiculously late time of 17:50. Of course it might magically be better by then, mightn’t it?

If you are within the EU and you fancy the chance to win a ball of Scheepjes Whirl Slice O Cherry Pie colourway, like I’m using for my wrap, then feel free to enter my giveaway here.

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

Yarn Along with actual yarn! Whoop!

As I’m working up to trying some crochet or knitting in the next week, or so, I thought it would be good to accomplish something crafty, even if it was pretty small.

Back in April when my wrist, hand and elbow were at their most painful, the thought of even holding the cowl in my right hand, while darning the ends, felt impossible. I’d been told to stop everything crafty in any case, so left it packed it away with everything else and that was that for three months.

Today felt like I was opening a dusty old trunk in the attic. I fished my Edenvale cowl out, darned in the ends and left it soaking in tepid water with a bit of hair conditioner. I have no fabric softener here and so I tried that, without rinsing, to see if it will soften the rather scratchy pure wool. If it feels slimey when dry I suppose I can always gently rinse it out.

And here it is painstakingly blocked out to ensure it’s 11 1/2” wide. Just this bit of finishing has made me feel like I want to crack open a bottle of champagne and celebrate: I’M BACK!

Yep, I know I should try to stay calm as it’s a really tiny step and I’m not expecting to start churning out blankets or that sock anytime soon, but isn’t this progress all the same? I’ve darned and blocked something I’ve made and enjoyed it very much. Hashtag: huge sense of accomplishment!

Tonight I’m going to start reading The Alice Network by Kate Quinn. One of my sister in laws recommended it to me. She’d read it for her book club and thought it was a book I’d enjoy. Have you read it? Coincidently I’ve just started a new audio book today as well: The Dust that Falls from Dreams by Louis de Bernieres. After hearing Louis on the new Simon Mayo’s Books of the Year podcast (it’s available for Android users too. No paid advertising here; I’m just a keen listener) talking about the second book in the planned trilogy So Much Life Left Over I thought I’d better get the first, before plunging straight into the second. The Dust that Falls from Dreams begins in the Edwardian age, Queen Victoria has just died and her son King Edward VII is just about to be crowned. The story focuses upon Rose and her three sisters who are growing up in a privileged, but eccentric family in Kent. The first twenty minutes of the book have been enjoyable. I’m often drawn to books set in this period of time, and like books which reveal the lives of a cast of characters. Am I the only person who didn’t read Captain Correlli’s Mandolin? I don’t really know why didn’t, it was a huge hit at the time and everybody seemed to be brandishing a copy. I haven’t even seen the film. Yet…

 

Joining in (properly!) this month with Ginny’s Yarn Along.

Return of the sock

Hello April! It’s nearly the end of the second week already…

I’ve been away on a road trip trip holiday, up to locations in County Durham and Northumblerland, then to Dundee and Aberdeen, in Scotland. After a great time there we headed down to Yorkshire and stayed in Harrogate. I put a few pics on My Instagram account if you want to see.

It was a great trip and included catching up with quite a few friends. I finally went to Seaham to collect sea glass too. That’s something I’ve wanted to do for a few years, or more, since reading about the Victorian glass factory which tipped its waste into the sea. Read here for info, if you’re interested.

Just a selection of what we found (not my hand!)

I’m so pleased with my appropriately Easter egg shaped find!

One of the best bits last weekend was enjoying the company of Trish of Made by Patch blog (you could hassle her nicely about returning to blogging if you like) and Mr Patch over the weekend. The men were off doing their own thing for the morning and we got together for an hour or so. We were sitting in a comfy hotel lobby, on a squashy sofa with all sorts of sock knitting paraphernalia spread around us. It worked well until some bouncy young and very loud South Africans came to the adjacent sofa. But no matter; it was nearly time to meet the group and I’d finally got my sock knitting confidence back.

Over 1,000 miles later and we are home to a bag full of chocolate. It’s one of those Sainsbury’s Bags for Life; they aren’t at all small. We forgot to take any away with us. I’m rationing mine unnaturally well so far, like the good girl that I never was, and so it’s maybe going to last a long time.

You’ll maybe note that the sock above is not quite the sock you see below; the heel part originally purple, is now cream. There is the beginning of a gusset and the circular needles are back in play above. Yes well, I have been named a True Perfectionist by my sock knitting coach Trish but it was not right stitch count wise. I decided it’s not like me to fudge it, especially on the first attempt, as the second sock will have to be too. So, I’ve redone the heel flap to be slightly shorter and turned the heel, this time ending on 20, not 18 stitches. That seems better as I cast on 64. I’ve also taken pains to make sure the foot section will be 32 and not 35! I think it was originally 32 but wrongly placed markers were to probably to blame. I’d started the k2tog and ssk decreases too and decided they would show if I altered the line. I didn’t want to start with the sock on the wrong foot, boom-boom! Ahem.

As the book is a guide rather than an exact pattern, especially you’re casting on more or fewer than 60 stitches, I’m counting everything as I go and making copious notes. I’m hopefully going to be clear about what I’ve done when I come to do the second sock.

It’s fair to say this sock has been a long time in the knitting…

My sock knitting timeline:

June 2016 Trish wins a giveaway including a copy of Christine Perry’s Sock book (all info also available for free on her Winwick Mum blog) but had a copy already so gives it to me

Christine updates the 2015 book and I print out the extra update sheets

Become confused by all of the info, hide it away for a while

May 2017 Buy 2 balls of Regina Design Line ‘Jazz colour’ by Erika Knight yarn and my first 2.5 mm tiny Addi circulars and dpns

Knit the ribbing and knit the leg, it’s fun! I seem to be able to do it!

June 2017 Deep breaths and do the heel flap, that’s ok too. But the next bit? Oh my lord I am confused.

July 2017 Hide or shuffle feet and hum when anyone mentions sock knitting

February 2018 Post a photo on Instagram of the sock so far, because Trish and I have arranged to meet up for a coaching session on April. I tentatively think I might have an actual sock by the end of the year. Maybe even a pair.

April 2018 Meet up on Saturday 7th, turn the heel with Trish knitting along at the same point. She’s a star.

Mr Patch comes back and shows me he is wearing his pair. They’re fab. He loves that they’re so comfortable with no seams which rub. He also complains it took two years to complete them, so I have a feeling he’s angling for more pairs.

Timeline to be continued…..

We got chatting to a woman later that day, surrounded by 8k people (really) who were drinking beer / gin / vodka. She stood out because she was starting a sock, amongst a sea of people who were not knitting. I just had to go and chat to her. She was making a pink and blue Checkerboard sock, her husband heard us chatting and pulled up his jean legs to show us his homemade socks. He loves them he told us. I made absolutely no promises about knitting Someone his own pair!

*If* I ever have a complete sock to show, then get round to another, only then will we see about promises to nearest and dearests.

As well as knitting, I’m reading A Kind Man by Susan Hill. It’s a library book. Last time I went in I found 5 books straight away; so have quite a stack. I’m three quarters of the way through and although I’ve always loved the author’s writing style, I am finding the turn the story’s taken a bit weird. I just wanted to stay looking out at the fields and feeding the chickens for longer. I wonder how it will end?

What are you making and reading? Have you travelled anywhere new recently? Have a Bag for Life full of chocolate too?

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

Update – knits

“Brilliant kick! Ohh! Get over!” is what I’m hearing from the right side of the room, while I try to gather my thoughts about this post.

Now: “Noooo! Ouch….Knees don’t bend that way!” And I am firmly fixing my gaze downwards to my iPad’s screen. I do not need to see any gory injury replays. I knew these outbursts might be the case, but I had hoped for a quiet game and silent supping of beer, alongside the occasional sounds of dry roasted peanut munching. My Instagram feed is currently full of photos of knitting and crochet ‘while the rugby is on in the background’, or ‘while I watch the rugby.’ I know there are plenty of women who enjoy it too, I’m just not one of them. It’s England V France and currently 6-3 to us. I cheer when we win, but don’t watch the game.

Anyway, sorry for the sports waffle. Back to the knits; I wasn’t sure about the shouty bright pink being added to the mix in my garter stitch blanket, but it works doesn’t it? I like it quite a lot. I am sticking to it being a stash buster, so it’s going to get even more random. However the blending helps to tone down some of the less likeable shades.

I’m really enjoying this knitting, as you know I haven’t knitted much complex lace and this pattern is labelled on the Love Knitting site as intermediate. Hurray! I feel like a proper knitter. The Edenvale cowl is reversible and this is the side which faces you as you knit, but it’s definitely the other side that I prefer (shown below.)

“Are you knitting a giraffe a neck warmer?”

“Ooh look, your dream-catcher is coming on!”

I put up with a lot some days, I feel.

Not knitting, but beautiful anemones I just saw when we popped out to have a wander around a local nursery and plant centre. It’s the day to buy flowers, or a plant, as it’s Mothering Sunday tomorrow. Sainsbury’s, on Friday, looked absolutely crammed full with extra buckets and stands of flowers.

It’s been a while since I recorded what I’m reading and listening to: The Tent, the Bucket and Me by Emma Kennedy is making me laugh out loud, more than any book has made me laugh for a long time. I didn’t even really know who she is, but that doesn’t matter at all. Emma writes really well and being an actress is sublime at accents, particularly Welsh. The premise of the book is to describe the family’s disastrous attempts at camping holidays, during the 1970s. So, of course you get a bit of context of what’s going on in the country at the time, the food they eat and encounters with other holiday makers. Highly recommended. I’ve got 3 hours left to listen and I only started the audio book this week. This is probably a speed listening personal record.

I finished reading The House of New Beginnings by Lucy Diamond on Friday night. It’s nice; one of those multi-character stories, where each woman has experienced a recent trauma, heartbreak or has to adjust to a major change. There’s a fair bit of loneliness and isolation at the beginning, but you can guess where the story goes and that ultimately warm and supportive friendships gradually form. There’s nothing wrong with reading a bit of candy-floss. I also think that sometimes a story like this can encourage readers to join a new club, try something new or make an overture of friendship towards another. It can give assurances that all things pass and tricky times improve.

What about you, what are you busy with right now? Can you recommend any good reads?

The score is now 9-9 and I’ve just said SHUSH as “Argghhhhh!” was shouted and made me jump.

Linking with Ginny’s now monthly Yarn Along.

Striping

I’ve dug my Stripy blanket out and actually it’s nice to be adding to it again. Isn’t it bright though?! I kind of forgot how much it’s a bit in your face. It took me aback when I saw it again yesterday, which was a very lazy Sunday afternoon.

I’m reading Y is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton at the mo. I’ve had it from the library for more than a week, but getting into it has taken a while. It’s an absolutely brick of a hardback. If you need a doorstop, this is the one for you. Having read a whole chunk yesterday made me feel more engaged with the story. I think I know exactly how one storyline will play out, but I’m not going to say anymore.

I was really sorry to learn of Sue’s recent loss, her books have brought pleasure all around the world. It’s sad too that this is the premature end of the alphabet series, however I’m glad a ghost writer is not going to be brought in to write Z. I’d rather it was the original author, or nothing at all.

As you know, I always have an audio book on the go too, after the compelling Three Things about Elsie by Joanna Cannon I fancied something completely different. My Audible library has contained Danny Baker’s 2012 autobiography Going to Sea in a Sieve for a long time. I bought it after enjoying the BBC tv adaptation Cradle to Grave in 2015. If you’re outside Britain I’m not really sure you’ll ever have heard of Danny Baker, but it’s still worth watching for the entertainment value. Peter Kay plays Danny’s Dad with only a bit of accent slippage! I’ve only heard 35 minutes of the audio book, with Danny narrating, and Ilove it. After the prologue I found myself repeating the story of the burning car and the game of chicken, while Someone made some smoked mackerel pate for lunch. Then I felt compelled to rush into the dining room to wave my iPhone in the air and play the bit about Nigel Slater’s ‘lamentable’ book Toast (I sort of agree about that) while he was trying to eat lunch and catch a bit of the Winter Olympics. I can feel myself trying to remember other little snippets to repeat later. This is always the (painful for others) sign that I’m loving a book. It’s just so cheery and authentic that I want to overshare.

What are you making and reading?

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

Five from this week

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a good weekend all.

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

The final round 

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

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

I’m joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along

Favourite things 

Knitting and reading – a few of my favourite things. I can’t think of anything to say today, which long-term readers will admit is a first. But a sentence is often good enough for Ginny’s Yarn Along posts, so today it’s good enough for me as well.

(The book is excellent, I never want it to end.)

Yarn Along

Save

I’ve got 2 hours left of my audio book now and so I’m going to see which ends first; this blanket or the book. The blanket might win simply because I’m running out of yarn. I’ll certainly need to buy a few balls more for the border.

At the weekend I snuggled under my first Spice of Life blanket and realised this ripple is now the same size, bar an inch or two which the border would sort. After jumping for joy, a little I later realised that my friend is not 5′ 4″ and so what is a perfect snuggly size for me, might well leave her with cold feet!

The week before the Christmas weekend Mum and I set off on a shopping expedition, with lots of shops to visit and all sorts of lists in hand and mind. We popped into the library first and as we were on Operation Christmas, I just grabbed several random books and left. I chose well as it’s turning out! I really liked The Missing Marriage by Sarah May. (The blurb on the book’s back cover gives nowhere near the detail on Amazon (linked above) or GoodReads, so if you think you’d like to try it, then don’t read them. I’m really glad I hadn’t seen either before I read it.) After hearing Dicken’s A Christmas Carol and reading some more ghost stories by MR James, it seemed a ‘fresh’ story and setting for the New Year.

This is the second of my grab it and run library books. It’s great! I’m so enjoying this book. The humour in When God was a Rabbit is right up my street. The dinner lady with the spoonful of peas made me chuckle this morning. It might make me rethink using that particular word too. There’s a good sprinkling of pathos also, and it’s partially set in Cornwall; which is one of my favourite areas of the country.

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

Cosy 


When you get to a certain stage of blanket making things get really cosy, especially when it’s grey and cold outside. It’s now reaching under my chin and nearly to the tips of my toes – just to give you an idea of the length. Perhaps this is why I keep making blankets. A sock doesn’t really keep you snuggly while you knit or crochet, does it?
I’m back listening to this again after some festive radio comedies and a free version of A Christmas Carol (adapted by R.D Carstairs for Audible.co.uk – it’s superb; with a full cast and dramatic effects.) I’m not completely into this story, even though the book is halfway through. Maybe it’s my disjointed listening? Maybe perhaps it’s just not as gripping as the others in the series.

I’m joining in with Ginny and the other Yarn Alongers. 

Save

Do Some Crochet!

…And that is what pops up on my iPhone every day, reminding me to add a row or two, and do you know what? The blanket is growing! Shock horror hey. I’ve reminded myself how relaxing it is to listen to an audio book or radio play/comedy or music doc while crocheting along. 

I’m still listening to The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch, it’s gooood. One day I flicked over to something on tv and jumped with recognition – it was the smooth (and sexy) voice of the narrator Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, though of course I didn’t recognise his face at all. 

Joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along again. 

Probable game of yarn chicken ahead

I’ll crochet some more border for a proper edging, as much as I can before the grey runs out, and I’m done. This is a warm and cosy lap blanket as the double crochet makes a thick fabric. Someone, somewhere will hopefully appreciate this quality. I joined the blocks with a combination join. This is WS together, 1 dc, ch 2, miss 2 st and 1dc into both loops of the stitches. If you dislike the raised line you can hold the RS together, so it’s on the back.

This week I’m reading Sweet Caress: The Many Lives of Amory Clay by William Boyd. It’s a fictional biography of a woman who lived through the great events of the 20th century. I’m rather perturbed by the blurb which describes the book as ‘his greatest achievement to date.’ Having loved Any Human Heart (and enjoyed lots of Boyd’s other books) I’m not yet convinced of this, but am enjoying the read.

I’m joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along, as usual.

Save

Save

Gradually 

Only five more squares to edge, then I’ll join them and edge the piece. I don’t think a blanket is finished unless it’s got a border of some kind, even a narrow one. I took a bag of woolly stuff away with me last week, but didn’t touch it. Instead I was glued to my last paperback. 

Now I’m reading Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy, the free Kindle version (it’s free! Hurrah!) Every so often I feel the need to read an old book; in a kind of palate cleansing way. The archaic language gives a real flavour to the story and 19th century rural setting. I’m two thirds of the way through my audio book The Memory Game. I have no idea how it’s going to end. I have a feeling that there’s going to be a big twist revealed, in fact I’ll be disappointed if it’s the obvious! 

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

Stripes & Squares

I darned the rest of the numerous ends on my ‘I don’t have a plan’ blocks yesterday. After a lot of walking at the weekend, aqua zumba and swimming lengths on Monday my knee feels sore, unusually since that’s a normal level of activity, but it was a good to sit yesterday resting it to sew and listen to my current audio book The Memory Game by Nicci French. They’re husband and wife writing duo. How do they agree on the direction of the story? Organise who writes what? You’d never guess it’s written by two different writers.

I really wanted to read One Small Act of Kindness after I’d listened to the superb A Hundred Pieces of Me by Lucy Dillon, as you’ll know if you saw this. But didn’t see it in my local charity shops, the Kindle edition is currently £4.99 and so I decided £1 would be well spent to reserve it from the library. The story is about Libby and Jason who have just moved to the countryside from London, one day a young woman is knocked down by a car outside and has lost her memory, no one comes looking for her and so Libby takes her in. This act of kindness sets in motion a chain of events…. It’s a nicer read after the violence and gore of the Jack Reacher I read last week!

I’m joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along again. And now I’m off to pack my case as I’m meeting a friend for a few days by the sea. Woo hoo cider, chocolate and seaside wandering!

Save

Save

Save

Ends

At the moment it’s all about the ends, or so I could say but it would actually be a whopping lie. I haven’t touched a needle or hook for at least a week! We’ve been away, I’ve been busy and the evenings have been full of the sofa tv combo, or early nights curled up reading up in bed. I’ll get back to the blocks soon.

As for books, I’m gradually reading Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series. This is only my third although I now have a small stack of them. I’m collecting them when I see them in charity shops and at markets. This one – urgh! – it gave me bad dreams the other night about a wooden box and being trapped. I think I’m going to have to read it during daylight hours and have something nicer to read at bedtime!

If you do want a nice book recommendation I’d suggest A Hundred Pieces of Me by Lucy Dillon. I just listened to this audio version and loved it. I’ve ordered the next book from the library, so I can look out for mentions of Gina…I have to know….

I’m Yarning Along with Ginny again this week.

Save

Playing 

These unruly piles of crochet blocks have grown without a real plan. I selected a bag of leftover balls of Stylecraft DK and started to play with stripes and blocks of colours. I would love to buy a few of these colours again, to carry on with a proper plan in mind but this would be against the rules. I have full balls of DK, chunky, sock and 4 ply yarns of various quality yarns, after they’re used up I want to go back to only buying specific yarn,for specific projects. I didn’t go to any wool shows or festivals this year, because simply put: I don’t need anymore yarn.

This week I’m listening to A Hundred Pieces of Me by Lucy Dillon. I’m enjoying the concept of keeping only one hundred personal items and discarding the rest. It’s an interesting way of structuring the story, while revealing more about the main characters, as Gina sorts through boxes of her possessions following a life changing event.

I’m joining Ginny’s Yarn Along once again.

Save

Record temps for September!

It’s 27 degrees and beautiful outside today. This week we’ve had high temperatures which haven’t been reached in September since 1911. 1911! Before going to Cornwall last week I had begun to anticipate making Autumn food soon: soups, casseroles, fruit crumbles and such; but the fridge freezer is still fully stocked with salad veg and plenty of ice cubes! 

This lunchtime I’ve been trying to work on my ripple but it’s really too warm to have on my lap. I’m listening to a new audio book Moving by Jenny Eclair now. I don’t think you can see the book’s cover on my iPhone, the sun’s too bright. 

I’ve really got the holiday blues today; the first thing I said on waking was “Where’s the green hills and the sea all around?” It was so quiet there too. The tiny lane running past the cottage was silent most of the time, the nights were as black as pitch and the only sound you heard in the morning were noises from the field of bullocks nearby, warning each other off. Still, I’ve bought my lottery tickets and you know to find me in deepest darkest rural West Cornwall if I suddenly disappear…

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

Yarn Along 


I’ve been enjoying picking up my ripple again, it’s been a while since it had any attention. I’ve got 3 new crochet mags (see here)  and I think they might have kick started my crojo, as I hoped.  I’ve got one of those really annoying Summer viruses where it completely knocks the stuffing out of you. You expect them in the Winter and embrace soup, duvet days and crappy tv, but not when the sun shines. But an upside is wanting to do nothing more demanding than crochet a few rows of ripple. 

One more moan then I’ll hush: I really didn’t know what I fancied for dinner last night, the only thing I could think of was soup. So I took a lot of care to make a nice spicy lentil, tomato and bacon one. I used onion, celery, carrot and courgette as I figured lots of healthy veggies might help. Should I have bothered? Could I taste it? Nope. Not one bit. No whiff of taste or smell. I really could have just eaten oats and hot water.  (Horrid porridge!) 

Crochet and Glastonbury highlights are helping. I’m listening and sort of watching  Adele as I type this, she’s good – of course she’s good, it’s Adele – but Coldplay were amazing. 

Bookwise this week my custard brain just needs something easy and soothing; so I’ve been listening to A Breath of French Air, the second of the Pop Larkin series by H.E Bates. I really enjoyed listening to The Darling Buds of May recently, it has been years since I first read it. Philip Franks played Charlie in the tv series and he does a surprisingly good job of narrating, even the female characters. It’s one of several books I’ve got on the go, along with short stories and a couple of non-fiction books. 

I’m joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along once again. I really enjoy seeing what else others are reading, as much as what they’re making. Maybe even more. I can’t remember a time when I haven’t read. 

Maybe it’s a goner

A lovely online now offline friend (you know what I mean by that right?) Trish of Made by Patch blog recently won this book in a giveaway by Christine Perry aka Winwick Mum  with a bundle of other goodies, but as a newly minted sock knitter she had already bought a copy. So, she offered this one to me. What a lovely surprise!

I haven’t forgotten my 16 for 2016 list and am still keen to try knitting a pair of socks, but do have a few reservations. I’m not worried about the knitting part, since I know from all the successful pairs I’ve seen posted on Social Media that Christine’s instructions are fabulous. I think you’d have to have a brain of custard to fail. (Watch this space…) It’s whether I would actually wear handmade knitted socks. I don’t think I would out with boots and shoes; they just seem like they’d be too thick. But I can envision myself pulling them on in the chilly evenings to wear at home. Would they become very fluffy walking about on carpets? I already seem to spending quite a bit of time picking up massive bobbles of woollen sock fluff…but that’s another subject, ha! Am I going to get even more electric shocks, the sock yarns seen to have a fairly high nylon count. I already jump and squeal a lot of the time. When I’m in London some days I get a shock every time I touch a handrail. I’ll just have to knit a pair, try them and get back to you.

I was intending to make a cowl from this library bookimg_2857

but the one cable stitch forward or behind was really annoying. It’s me I know, I like knitting but only if it’s not too tedious, but either that one stitch just kept slipping off the cable needle or the whole process felt clunky. If I tried the dropping the stitch method, without using a cable needle, I worried that it was then twisted. Life’s too short and I decided that if I don’t enjoy making something, I stop. Why waste time on something that’s not fun? It’s not as if it was a vital cowl; I have a basket full of them and scarves. For the last few winters they haven’t really been worn. I really miss our heavy white frosts and icy mornings. The winters are noticeably warmer, with wetter milder weather.

If you have an alternative pattern suggestion for a 90 stitch cowl using 6mm needles with a 3-2 rib already complete, please comment below. I won’t frog the knitting for a few days, then it’s a goner!

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

It’s not Mira’s Cowl, it’s mine!

I bought the yarn for my Mira’s Cowl at the end of September when I visited Yarndale. The other two skeins have yet to be used. But I think I have a plan for the blue 4 ply…

My wandering concentration issue was solved by buying stitch markers and from then on, magically, there were no missing sets of 2 stitches. So, they’re not simply for making knitting look pretty?!
I did decide against the ‘aggressive’ blocking advised at the end of the pattern. Although I chose to make the wider size cowl and it could be really long and loopy (see the pattern photo) I like the up, up chin warming properties of it when unstretched.

Because I knit and knit until I just had enough yarn left to cast off, it’s long enough for a giraffe. I put it on inside out and then double it over so the right side shows.

I found a stretchy decrease cast-off described here. It’s very easy and does exactly what it promises.

I just sat in the sun and single crocheted the seams together with a  3.5mm hook. As I’ve said before; if I can combine a bit of knitting with a bit of hooky then I’m very happy. Sewing up gets put off, funnily crocheting doesn’t! I’m typing this and still wearing my cowl. It’s so warm and snuggly as the yarn is 75% merino.

Next I’ve got to make myself do some more baby hexagons. It really is a bit like that, but I quite like doing them when I get going, especially if my audio book is on. I’m really into The Kashmir Shawl, I’m exactly halfway through now. I walked over 7 miles listening to it yesterday. I was so engrossed in the story that I didn’t even really mind when the ground turned into a quagmire. I ended up squelching home with completely brown trainers and socks. That must be the sign of a very good book…

 

Yarn Along 

  
Here’s the knitting I mentioned in my last post. The pattern is called Mira’s Cowl by Mira Cole. It’s free on Ravelry.

 I’m not sure I want to aggressively block it as per the instruction. By the end the most I’ll probably feel like doing is flinging it around my neck. Consistently good knitting is not my talent. For some reason I can crochet quite difficult stitch combinations and follow patterns without much of an issue, but knitting has always been another matter. This is despite being able to knit from childhood, as you know crochet came much, much later. Even this simple pattern of blocks of 2, 4, 8 or 16 stitches has been problematic. I keep finding whole sections where the stitches have mysteriously changed to knit where they should be purl, and vice versa, halfway up. I could blame it on the toenail bit of A Gathering Storm, but that wouldn’t be altogether truthful. I’m often rubbish at concentrating on my knitting. It’s a good thing that the wonderful Nicky Sutton displayed excellent graphics how to pick up, or alter stitches with a crochet hook on IG. It’s saved me undoing any rows. I quite like the opportunity to use a little 3mm hook on my knitting. I know that’s probably not the attitude, but at least it works!

I’m about to start my next audio book: The Kasmir Shawl. I like to leave a day or more between them, just to let the memory of the last fade a bit. Do you do this too? I used to read lots of Rosie Thomas’s books, but it’s years since the last. I hope this is good. It’s set in 1939 and a young woman from rural Wales is moving to India with her husband, who has been posted there as a missionary. What could possibly go wrong?!

I’ve always got both an audio book and a printed or e-book on the go. Last night I read more of After You by JoJo Moyes while listening to an owl hoot in the trees.  The torrential rain and wind then put a stop to that delightful noise. I hope it managed to stay warm and dry.

I’m joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along

Yarn Along

This photo looks a bit funny somehow; the pot holder looks tiny and the book huge! Actually it is a big ole heavy hardback. Reading it is proving to be a bit of a challenge. I’ve got so used to propping my Kindle against the next pillow and just poking my finger out of the duvet to turn the page. Holding this monster is making my arms ache and they get cold! But I couldn’t turn down this book from my sister-in-law as we both loved Me Before You so much. This is the sequel. I believe Jojo Moyes had so many questions from readers about what happened to Lou, that there was immense pressure to write one. Lou must have been a character who stayed with her too.

Me Before You is the only audio book I’ve finished listening to and immediately started again. Even though I obviously knew all that would happen, I still sobbed so much I had to change my pillowcase at the end of the book. That was one traumatic story.

I finished the pot holder on Monday evening. I wanted another smaller one than these two, although I use them every day I like to have a little one at hand for saucepan lids. I’ll write up the pattern for another post.

 

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

 

Yarn Along 

  I’ve just started this audio book: A Gathering Storm by Rachel Hore. It’s one of my favourite kinds of stories; a family mystery, an old English Manor House and a picturesque Cornish seaside town. As well as crocheting to audio books I also love walking while listening. This morning I strode along in the lovely bright sunshine listening to the first few chapters. It’s a very promising start. I haven’t read anything by this author before and hopefully I’ll enjoy this book. I see she’s had quite a few books published; it’s good to find someone you like and read their back catalogue. 

Can you see that this baby hexagon piece is finally beginning to look rectangular? It’s proper fiddly and slow crochet. I’d definitely like to make hexagons again, but I won’t be joining them as I go again. I want the sides to lie neatly together, the way these look are still making me feel irritated. Larger hexies would make a more drapey fabric too.

My last audio book Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith (very good, I recommend it) has occupied me for lots of my crochet time recently. Near the end when the final twist was revealed I dropped yarn and hook and punched the air. I knew it! I knew. Kind of anyway…

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

Yarn Along

  
God knows what Jeffrey Bernard would have had to say about a collection of his writing, originally  featured in the Spectator, being shown on a crochet blog, on a brightly coloured blanket with a vase of daffodils! I suppose as long as I offered a bottle of vodka and bag of oranges in apology it would have been ok.

His writing is often bitter sweet and the humour catches you unawares at times. I absolutely hoot with laughter. The anecdote about being in a hospital cubicle next to a boy who is having his ears syringed, made me think of having had mine done a week or so ago. But not because my brother had filled my ears with peanut butter while I slept.

The ripple re-edging is done. I’ll show you tomorrow.

I’m joining in with Ginny again.

Yarn Along

  

  
Last night I was itching to start crocheting something new, but also wanted to watch last week’s Endeavour episode: Prey. I knew that re-edging my Rhubarb Ripple would be fiddly to begin with, so I sat on my hands. Actually I kept them busy with a glass of Calvados, if I’m completely honest. I’m glad I did because I would have missed quite something in the maze scenes! Did you watch it?

When I looked at the comments on my original post from 2012, linked above, I realised that I’ve now met three of the commenters (and we’re likely to meet again too) and three others are still in regular contact. That’s a really nice thing about blogging, online friendships become offline friendships too, if you’re lucky.

My current Kindle read As Good as God, as Clever as the Devil: The Impossible Life of Mary Bensen is a biography. It’s really well written by Rodney Bolt in a very readable style, with excerpts from other sources of material from the time. I’d never heard of Mary Benson, but the names of some of her offspring are definitely familiar. Read here for the blurb. It’s one of the best 99p Kindle deals I’ve bought.


Joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along again.

Yarn Along 



I’m not even going to check my 16 for 2016 list because I feel sure I said no more buying yarn, as I need to use what I have. But I shall blame today’s lapse entirely on my friend! It was so silly of us to meet at a yarn shop where there’s a sale on, with baskets and shelves laden with really lovely, good quality yarns at great prices.  This Louisa Harding Orielle was originally £6.95 a skein, now it’s reduced to £4; well you would probably have found it difficult to resist too.

It’s lovely stuff that I used to knit my first pair of mock cable fingerless mitts. It’s such a lovely colour, with a pretty sparkle running through and is really soft and warm. They are my most favourite pair of mitts. Ok, lapse justification over..!

I’m still darning blanket ends, they’re nearly finished then I can start a new project, rather than post photos of skeins of yarn. I banned myself from starting anything new until the blanket was done. It all has be finished by tomorrow night, so I shall probably be darning the last ends and speed crocheting the border as you read! I’ve just started this audio book by J.K Rowling, it’s the third in the series. Robert Glenister is from TV’s Hustle  and does such a good job narrating these audio books that I find myself totally transported to where the story is taking place. I’m gripped by what’s happening. Let’s hope it happens again as I plod on with the remaining ends tonight…

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

Yarn Along 

I finished my mock cable knits last night, all bar the boring sewing up. I’ve just noticed that the right mitt is the right way up in the photograph – so you can see the mock cable pattern – but the left is not. I’ll pretend I positioned them like that deliberately to show you both sides, but the truth is a repair man was here and it was all a bit of flurry. He’d just had a call and was rushing off as wife has been in a car accident (unharmed, though the other lady might be) and so I wasn’t really concentrating.

I’ve always got an audio book on the go, they’re a great distraction on long journeys or while walking. Clare Balding’s first book My Animals and Other Family was an excellent listen as she writes and narrates so well. Rather than rapsodize about Walking Home: My Family and Other Rambles I’ll link to The Telegraph review, it’s very good.

I’m joining in with  Ginny’s Yarn Along again. The linky thing’s open for a week if you want to as well.

Yarn Along 

   I can’t tell you how much I’m loving this book. It’s so well written and casts a completely different light on Pride and Prejudice; as it’s written from the point of view of the (few) servants who work (very hard) for the family. This line on the back cover made me grin: ‘If Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats,’ Sarah thought, ‘she would be more careful not to tramp through muddy fields.’ 

If you are familiar with the original you’ll see that the novels match chapter for chapter, though to her credit Jo Baker does not try to imitiate  Jane Austin’s style, she has her own voice. 

I’d seen Longbourn recommended in a number of newspapers and magazines, then came across a copy on the sale shelf of a charity shop for 50p!  I enjoy using my Kindle but there’s great pleasure in knowing I can pass this paperback on to at least five friends who I know will enjoy reading it too.

I’m on the last two inches of the body of the mystery blanket for my cousin and am now thinking about what to make next. I really fancy some knitting and am going to dig out my stash and see what I’ve got later. I’m also keen to finish this baby hexagon piece and turn it into a doll’s blanket.  

I’m joining in with Ginny again. 

Yarn Along

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

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

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

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

Yarn Along 


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

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

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

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

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

Yarn Along 

  I’m crocheting a second V Stitch scarf. I only started a few days ago and it’s now nearly half done; it grows so quickly.  This is a very good thing as it’s a Christmas present.  Here’s the link to my pattern. I had to find it myself to jog my memory for the initial chain and hook size! That green scarf is my favourite and I wear it more than anything else I own, or have made. 
 I loved the film ‘Brooklyn’ last week. It’s the story of a young girl from a rural area of Ireland in the 1950s, who is emigrating to America. The first thing Mum and I said as we left the cinema was “Oh, the clothes!” Although I have a few audio books ready to listen to I just knew the novel, by Colm Toibin, would be fuller than could fit into a film. It’s going to be so interesting to see what the screenwriter, author Nick Hornby, chose to include and what to leave out.  Dissecting novels (auto correct wants this to be bowels!) into screenplays must be a challenging, but fascinating process. 

I’m joining in with Ginny and co once again. Now around 100 others link to Ginny’s weekly Yarn Along posts. This is many more than when I added a few of mine several  years ago. You can find some pearls of crochet and knitting inspiration there if you want to dip into new blogs. 

Yarn Along 

 Yesterday this Araucania Botany Lace (one of  my Yarndale bargains) was a knitted piece 6′ long. I was flying along until I noticed a mistake. B—– Why didn’t I put in a lifeline? I tried and I tried but I couldn’t undo it; I was foiled by the yarn overs. I just kept ending up with the wrong amount of stitches. I want to knit something as perfect as I can get it. So in the end I gave up and just ripped the whole thing out. Can you see my thin blue thread? This time I’m being very careful.

I’m on the last 12 minutes of my audio book: ‘Reckless’ by Chrissie Hynde. Rosanna Arquette’s terrible pronunciation of many words and shocking attempts at English accents have had me shrieking with irritation, or screaming with laughter, occasionally both at the same time. This has rather spoilt a sometimes shocking, but also poignant story of music and friendship.

I’ve just started reading a new book about a painting: The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild. I’m not far into it yet, but the painting has chapters of its own. I like its voice!

I’m joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along again. Why don’t you?

Yarn Along

My current read is an audio book. I’ve stopped reading printed books so much in the last week or two. Hopefully buying a new bedside lamp will change this; I’ve broken so many of those glass Ikea lamps that this time we’ve gone for a metal type from elsewhere. Fingers crossed! (No, I’m not hurling them across the room, the leads just get tangled and a yank on the hair drier results in smashing glass. This still happened even when I changed things around. But if it’s breakable I’ll get it! Oops.)

20130912-095935.jpg
It’s not quite the crime fiction, set in London, that I was expecting. In fact I gasped when the first unexpected thing first occurred. I’m enjoying the book, but during some chapters the reader swallows and licks his lips really loudly! Either other audiobooks edit this out, the recording technology is better, or they are more experienced readers but it’s really distracting and very irritating! Fortunately it doesn’t happen too often; it’s just when the character is being thoughtful and reflective so the pace of the narration is slower.

20130912-102326.jpg

I’ve started using my new gift card yarn. This Sirdar Escape chunky wool blend is really nice to use, pretty too. I’m not too convinced about the Bergere de France poncho pattern right now, it might end up being undone and used for chunky ribbed hats and scarves, or whatever.

20130912-102346.jpg

It’s one extreme to another with hook and needle sizes this week. I go from 6 mm needles to a 3 mm hook. I changed over to the Simply Crochet hook just because it’s a better grip than the thin metal one. I’m expecting this scarf to be a long term project because it’s not a whip-it-up-in-a-week-crochet-project. 4 ply and a smaller hook slows you down. That’s ok, there’s no race to win.

The changing light levels now autumn has arrived is affecting the colours in photos so much. Can you see the difference between the not-so hot pinkiness of the colour of the yarn today, and the photo I took when it arrived at the weekend?

20130912-102417.jpg

I loved the high temps so much that the sudden onslaught of cooler weather, when I was expecting a bit of an Indian summer, has really taken me unawares. I’m amazed at how drastically I want to eat much more and just feel generally a bit fed up. I’ve banned myself from buying cheering up marshmallows because last winter they and hot chocolate were my absolute downfall. I was trying to see how many I could cram into my pint mug of hot chocolate, and it wasn’t far off a large packet – with a few extra to eat while I was making it of course.

What’s the weather doing where you are? Are you craving certain foods or drinks too?

I’m joining in again with Ginny. What are you crocheting / knitting and reading at the moment?

yarnalong_gsheller_green

Yarn Along

This week I haven’t done any knitting and only a little bit of crochet. To be honest I just haven’t felt like it; I’ve not been well for a week and a half, but hopefully am on the mend. If not there’s going to be a blood test for glandular fever. No thank you very much. It’s quite hard to tell if I’m feeling perkier today since the antibiotics make me feel so unwell, but I think I’m feeling better. Time will tell.

I popped to the library this morning though as I though it might be a good idea to get out.

20130807-140503.jpg

The little grey paperback is my current read – Goodbye to all That by the writer and poet Robert Graves. Originally published in 1929 then reread, for the first time since publication, and revised by the author in 1957 it’s an account of his childhood and experiences as a young officer in the First World War. I wanted to read something by Graves after reading Pat Barker’s superb Regeneration trilogy.

I’ve been watching a bit of The Barefoot Contessa for the first time on The Food Network this last few days. I’m not altogether convinced by her ‘recipes’ but then the series is titled ‘Basics’ or similar. Seeing some lovely foodie places in San Francisco on one episode made me grab Jamie Oliver’s book. I’m definitely convinced by his food, especially after using others of his cookbooks and eating at his restaurant Fifteen when it opened and several times over the years.

I pounced on the Alice Bliss novel as I’ve had it on my Audible wishlist for ages, but if I can read it for free without using a credit then even better.

My audio book this week is The Brimstone Wedding by Barbara Vine, read by Juliet Stevenson. I wonder if she was told to go fast for this one as the measured pace of Sweet Tooth is definitely not evident! It’s a gripping story; the main character’s just gone to a long abandoned cottage and apart from discovering lots of dust, finds mostly furnished rooms with touches like a vase of dried brittle flowers in place, paintings and photographs and also a 1960s car in the garage. Intriguing!

The yarn part of my post today is starting to knit a foot for the (hopefully not too deformed looking) cat. But you probably guessed that I cast on the 7 stitches just for this post. He’s coming along slowly.

I realise my Yarn Along posts are far more about what I’m reading than yarn, but think that’s ok – I love to see what others’ are reading and enjoying, or not. If you do too check out Kate’s library posts for a start.

I have been feeling a bit funny about the whole blogging thing lately, it sometimes feels as if it’s a bit show-and-tell for adults with a bit of pointless thrown in but I ignore the feeling, which passes, and carry on. But do you ever wonder about this aspect of blogging too? (Those using it to advertise and link to their business need not reply. I also know about inspiration and other positive aspects. )

I’m joining in again with Ginny. What are you crocheting / knitting and reading at the moment?

20130807-141016.jpg

Finally, I thought I’d add this photo as our whole buddleia is full of butterflies at the moment. It’s a lovely sight.

Yarn Along

20130731-120817.jpgYes! I’m knitting a deformed cat! It’s the stripy one you can just see on the book’s cover but mine’s obviously not stripy. I’ve been having some trouble with holey M1s (I grew up, like most, knitting into the front and back of a stitch, not fiddling about picking up strands) but think I’m getting betterish.

I saw the Cats and Kittens book at the library and though I don’t generally make toys I thought I’d have a try; as it’s a short and (hopefully) sweet make while I relearn how to knit using a new technique of holding the right-hand needle and wrapping the yarn. It’s going better than it was last week.

Queen Camilla centres around the Royal Family who have been living in an exclusion zone on the Flowers Estate for the last 13 years, along with other undesirables, due to the UK now being a republic. However a campaign is underway to bring in a New Conservative Government and reinstate the Royals. The big question amongst all the goings on is: will Camilla be Queen of the country, or stay Queen of Charles’ vegetable patch?

The (talking) dogs are really the stars of the book, along with Violet Toby who is the Queen’s next door neighbour. So far they all share the best lines. It’s all wicked satire.

I love Sue Townsend’s books. I’ve grown up with Adrian Mole and love The Queen and I which is similar to the above, they even share some characters and the location, but QC is a rewrite of sorts. If you wanted me to pick between the two for you I’d recommend The Queen and I, though I’m still only halfway through QC.

I’m joining in again with Ginny. What are you crocheting / knitting and reading at the moment?

yarnalong_gsheller_pink

Yarn Along

I get this real urge to knit sometimes. I’m not great at it and even more so since I’m trying to use another technique. I look like a beginner and have dropped stitches*, had them slide off the end of the circular needle** and keep stabbing my hand***. It never used to happen before, but I’m determined to try holding the right needle underneath and have a go at sliding my hand along the needle, rather than on top and throwing the wool. It’s not easy when I’ve knitted the other way since childhood, albeit sporadically.

I thought a washcloth/dishcloth would be a useful thing to make as it’s small and fast to complete. Well it would be if I didn’t do *, ** and *** but I’ll get there!

The pattern’s here.  I really like the raised box stitch, it’s amazing what you can do with a simple knit and purl combo.

20130723-162130.jpgI think I saw this book on someone else’s yarn along post last week, when I caught sight of it at the library yesterday I grabbed it. As you’d imagine it’s no literary masterpiece and I have made predictions a third of the way through about what’s likely going to happen. I’m sure I’ll be right too. That’s ok – it’s relaxing and not in the slightest demanding. My brain can slowly continue morphing into custard!

Basically the story centres around four female characters who been drawn back to the inn (B&B?) one runs. None of them are particularly close but because of the news the inn keeper shares and Meryl’s films they’re beginning to finally bond and become suportive of each other. If you’ve read The Reading Group, The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club (aka Divas don’t Knit,) The Jane Austin Book-club or The Friday Night Knitting Club then you’ll know what to expect.

I really like Meryl Streep. There’s a few films from the book’s list I haven’t watched yet:  Heartburn, though I have read the original book by Nora Ephron, and Defending your Life which doesn’t ring any bells.

20130723-162316.jpg

I’m still listening to The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K Rowling.) It’s going to take me a weeks to listen to it in chunks. I’m really enjoying it so far, Robert Glenister (of the tv prog Hustle, brother of Philip – who was the brilliant Gene Hunt in Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes) reads superbly. I can’t recommend it enough so far. Check it out on Audible.co.uk or Audible.com.

I’m joining in again with Ginny this week. What are you reading, crocheting or knitting?

PS: Are you following Cat of the Slugs on the Refrigerator blog and her Crochet Camp? Did you – *~*cough! cough! *~*- see the guest post on Sunday?

Yarn Along

20130717-140742.jpg

Despite lovely hot temps  – 28oc here at the moment woohoo! – I’m crocheting a thick ribbed scarf for winter. It’s unseasonable but I know I’ll really feel the benefit when the weather changes. Please god it’s not next week. I’m not ready. Hanging out the washing and having it dry in an hour, or less, is fab and I love the way it smells. Plus I’m enjoying feeling warm to the bone, eating salads, homemade burgers, cool leafy evening strolls, G&Ts and Pimms. Oh dear, the spell check wants to amend that to pimps. I am not enjoying pimps, thank you very much.

I’m reading Everything and Nothing by Amarinta Hall (what a name) that I got from the library last Wednesday and have started a new audio book: The Cuckoo’s Calling by a new and aspiring author Robert Galbraith (ha ha! But why not, good for J.K.)

The Mollie Makes are going to be my dipping in and out reading for the next few days. I usually pounce on these as soon as they thud through the letterbox, but lately I’ve been a bit caught up browsing my haul of canal non-fiction.

I’m joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along again. What are you reading and crocheting/knitting this week?

Yarn Along

20130710-133200.jpg
It’s summer this week in England and the weather’s beautiful. Last night we walked around the village inhaling the scent of roses climbing cottage walls, elderflower and many BBQs!

I’ve started to crochet a very unseasonal item – a swirly scarf from Nicki Trench’s Cute and Easy Crochet book. The yarn is King Cole ‘Wicked’ which I bought last week. It was a reduced bargain price so I bought two balls, as you do. I like not knowing what colour’s going to appear next as I crochet (living life on the wild side.) It’s a bit of a different choice for me but I like the tweedy but bright mix.

The books are new today, from the library, and look like pretty good Summertime reads. ‘Everything and Nothing’ is a thriller and described variously as chilling, suspenseful and disturbing on the blurb. It seems a super-nanny has come to look after a family’s two children, but all is not as it seems. The other novel drew me because of the cover recommendation from Kate Atkinson, she’s one of my favourite authors. It’s the tale of two girlhood friends who are inseparable, until one goes missing. I must be in a mystery frame of mind this week, maybe influenced by my audio book. I’m three-quarters of the way through  Sweet Tooth  by Ian McEwan, it’s a great book to crochet or sew along to (I’ve been x stitching lately.) As a wanna-be be spy it’s a fantastic book and the 1972 London setting to the story is interesting.

Yarn Along

I’m joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along. I’m always making something and read at least a book a week (I also have two audio books on the go at the moment: Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris and Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan) and love to see what others are up to, so this is a perfect –along.

Spotting the Granny Chic book, written by bloggers Tif and Rachelle, at the library made me very happy. Even more so when I discovered they include a string bag pattern, that’s very good news for my current obsession.

20130703-112058.jpg

Kate Morton’s The Secret Keeper begins on a Summer’s day in rural England, in the 1960s, where a picnicking family are celebrating a birthday. One of the daughters has slunk away to the tree-house to daydream. The seemingly idyllic story is shattered by a horrific incident, the reasons for which are explored in later life by the witness. The book shifts from the 1960s, back to the 1930s and to the present time, so far it’s very good; one of those stories I find hard to put down.