I’m singing, loudly

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

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

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

Progress being made

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

And also in these chillier evenings some more bright striping…

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

What does this (bank holiday) weekend offer?

Nearly there

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

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

 I might get an Easter egg after all. 

Treats, rewards and more baby hexagons

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CROCHET

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

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

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

Are you crocheting at the mo?