Taking Stock – August

Making: mini hexies. Make one, join as you go. It’s a perfect little project for oddments of yarn

Cooking: Leek, Salmon & Spinach crustless quiche

Will use smoked trout or hot smoked salmon & cheddar for even more flavour next time. Asparagus & peas, instead of leek and spinach? Once you’ve got the right sized dish and basic quantity of eggs etc sussed you can make any variation. Muffin sized too, for a lunchbox friendly version. (Ask if you want the recipe)

Sipping: a pink grapefruit margarita, last night. Inspo from Nigella’s At my Table book

Reading: Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell. It’s SO GOOD. Baby Theo sent me this as a thank you for his Patchwork Blanket (and a bottle of Brecon gin. That baby has v good taste!)

Waiting: for my next Craft Gin Club Box. You can get a half price box, it’s such a good offer (but UK only, I’m afraid) plus I’ll get reward points. It can be a one-off, there’s no need to continue the subscription. That’s what I thought I’d do, but they’re so good I carried on. See my blog Facebook page for a few pics of some boxes I’ve received and the referral code

I need to buy more bottle lights. The middle two were my first from the CGC, the others we bought elsewhere

Looking: more and more like autumn is imminent

Listening: to a dove coo

Wishing: for a crushed ice maker

Enjoying: looking back at my summer photos

Cawsand Bay, Cornwall

Appreciating: having my next reads lined up. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman and The Almond Blossom Appreciation Society by Chris Stewart ebooks are now available for me, on the library Libby app

A very good August read

Eating: nothing yet after sourdough pizza last night

Liking: the thought of wearing my woollies again. Scarves and gloves on chilly walks – oh yes!

Loving: Call My Agent, series 2, on Netflix. Never a dull ep

Buying: local eggs

Buckland Abbey, NT

Managing: dandelions, sort of. You’ve got them all, then at super speed HELLO we’re back!

Watching: combining and bailing in the fields. Looking forward to seeing freshly ploughed fields next

See the cloud of dust?

Hoping: to go to London soon, it’s been too long but … y’know…

Wearing: socks again. I asked if anyone had put on socks & woollies yesterday afternoon. Lots of friends said they had too. A few had even put the heating on too. Brrrr! It wasn’t a warm Bank Holiday Monday at all. 15° and overcast all day. Optimistically I’d worn shorts and a tee until 3pm, when I’d turned a pale shade of blue

Noticing: ripe blackberries in hedges now (eating them too)

Following: dancers and ice skaters on Insta

Sorting: makes. Concentrating on crocheting my GS Coast Blanket, the hexies and my chunky Paintbox yarn Star Blanket

Getting: groceries delivered soon, must move

Coveting: a luxury glamping weekend with a friend

Feeling: that it’s time for more jasmine tea

Hearing: talk about SharePoint

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Can you believe it’s going to be September tomorrow, already?!

4 WIPS

Hello there, despite the least variety, or many plans to look forward to (apart from Zoom meetings, online singing classes, FaceTime drinks with friends and family and excellent roast Sunday lunches some weekends, which all equate to the most amount of time we’ve spent inside at home) it seems to be over two weeks since I posted. I’m not quite sure how that happened; because after I wrote my Yarn Along post I was buzzing with ideas for more posts. Time and opportunity has not been an issue!

Anyway, thank you so much for your comments on my last. It was so nice to hear from so many of you. Your comments all made me smile.

I’m going to jump straight in to show you what I’ve been doing for the last few weeks. I still only do a little at a time as I can’t crochet or knit for long periods, like I used to. But I’m thankful that I can still do some, as long as I stop the moment I feel a twinge of hand or wrist pain.

What I’m making has to be quite simple. I’ve tried more intricate patterns and unfortunately it’s still a no-go, unless I crochet or knit just a little, for about 10 minutes at a time, and that’s really unsatisfying. I’m happy with all these makes though, and hope you enjoy your peep at what I’ve been up to…

I kept seeing these Vintage Flower Hexagon motifs on Insta. I haven’t seen anything quite like this before, it makes me think of Orla Kiely designs. I bought Atty van Norel’s pattern on Ravelry. Really pretty isn’t it?

I’m using chunky yarn and so my motif is 18cm across. The slightly wiggly shape will sort itself out when joined with others.

Yep, it’s back! I had stopped this Star Blanket with a view to it being a baby blanket. But I kept eyeing it, wondering about continuing. It’s really cold weather here and a chunky blanket is the nicest thing to sit underneath while you work on it. Today it’s 3° but feels like -1° according to the BBC Weather app. We had quite a good fall of snow yesterday. The Snowhare we made in the garden is starting to tilt as it melted slightly today, but there’s still plenty of white stuff around.

I unravelled a few rows because I’d spotted a stitch or two I wanted to re-do, and hooking those rows back up made me remember how deliciously tactile it is using chunky yarn and a 6 mm hook. I’ve got quite a lot of Paintbox Simply Chunky yarn as Lovecrafts.com sent some to me to try last summer, so I’ll carry on and see what size it becomes.

If you haven’t tried Paintbox Simply Chunky yarn yet, do. It’s so soft and makes a really squishy fabric. It’s 100% acrylic but has a really nice feel. This isn’t an advert or an affiliated link, it’s genuine enthusiasm for a new find.

I know that some of you are waiting for the pattern for my knitted cowl, but like an idiot I sent it to my friend before I worked out a few details for the written pattern. She sent me a picture wearing it when she’d just received it. I hadn’t told her when it was posted as I thought a surprise would be really welcome in this bleugh time. Her little face was a picture of joy, so I can hardly ask her to send it back. So, I’m starting another and this time trying to be a little bit more professional about things…!

I’m so enjoying making these large granny squares. My hand feels most comfortable using this fairly fine DK wool blend with a 4 mm hook. This is what I often crochet when I make telephone calls. I wear my hands free ear pods and we chat about all sorts while I do some hooky.

I started the blues and greys square on holiday in September, in Cornwall. I bought a couple of balls of Hayfield Spirit DK yarn, a wool blend, and a hook in Penzance. It was pure pleasure sitting up in bed in the earlyish morning, in our holiday house further west, looking at the sea views, with the sun sparkling on the water. 

Sadly I can’t get any more of the yarn at the moment. Wah! I contacted Sirdar as I’d searched on many yarn company websites for the colour shades I need next and it’s a no-go. I can get maybe one colour blend, but not all. Apparently the lack of availability is down to Covid and Brexit. The terrible twins.

Still, there’s plenty here to keep my hands busy. What about you? Tell me what you’re making and busy with, please.

Under the Stars blanket – finished

This afternoon I made a decision to finish the Sleep Under the Stars blanket. It’s lovely and squishy. The yarn is soft and great to crochet. I’ve enjoyed working on it. Crochet is sporadic, because otherwise it’s just too uncomfortable to do much of anything without discomfort for days afterwards. Dratted hand, but never mind it’s just the way things are and at least I can still do a bit and not zero. So that’s fine. It has to be, doesn’t it?

It’s now a nice warm lap size blanket for an adult, or a good sized blanket for a baby to snuggle under. I hadn’t really thought about it one way or another, but this afternoon I found myself thinking that I’d do one more round then darn in the ends. And that was it!

Of course it means I’ve got quite a few balls of lovely chunky Paintbox yarn to use on something else, however my plan is now to work through things I started agessss ago. I think this working through means to either undo or finish them. There are definitely a few things lurking that I know I’m not interested in wearing, or making any more. At my current speed this might take the rest of the year and perhaps till Easter next year! Depends how many I abandon…I could go ballistic in an unravelling sort of sense. That’s a dodgy looking sentence and no mistake. I’ve obviously been reading too much Engleby lately (I can’t put it down. There have been a few books like that since May when my reading and concentration picked up again.)

No worries either way – crochet is not about speed or productivity anymore. It has got to be about making things I really want to make. I just decided on a whim that I didn’t really need a full-sized star shaped blanket after all, and a happy byproduct of this is that I get that old whoosh of relief and happy feeling of having completed something nice.

What next?

I might plunge my hand into the craft box and pull out a bag, as if from a lucky dip tub. I can’t quite remember what’s in there.

Finish or unravel?

Wait and see….. I’ll be back…

The antidote

It’s a really long time since I woke up and fancied doing a bit of crochet first thing in the morning. So I got up straight away, before this state of mind disappeared, and along the way quickly mixed some enriched dough to bake soft white sourdough rolls later (This excellent recipe.) Then gathered up my yarn and hook to do a star shaped round back in bed, while I sipped jasmine tea. I also caught up with some of last night’s Liza Tarbuck radio show.

It was a pleasure to wake up feeling so positive and energised after what’s been my worst week of lockdown so far. I asked friends on Thursday if:

“Anyone else feeling *really* fed up with it all this week, like it’s the hardest so far now?

Relentless. Dull. Negativity everywhere. The weather change probably doesn’t help.”

The answers came flooding in and without exception everybody said they felt exactly the same.

Yesterday I found the antidote to feeling really fed up:

~Sunshine and blue skies

~A really good 7.3 mile circular walk

~Walking another – new to us – section of Shakespeare’s Way

~Bumping into a friend in a churchyard

~Going to her garden for tea and chocolate cornflake cakes

~Non-stop chatter and LAUGHTER

~Stroking her sweet cats

~Walking back reflecting on what a cheer-up fest new scenery and seeing a good friend is!

~Well earned G&Ts & Bombay mix

I think all that helped to create the buzz of energy and positivity I’m feeling this morning.

How are you finding life? Hope you’re ok. What’s your antidote?

New & Exciting

Sarah from LoveCrafts.com contacted me recently. Happily, I realised I could probably say yes to a craft related offer for the first time in yonks!

LoveCrafts.com were previously LoveKnitting and LoveCrochet but they’ve bought all together in one website. They’re on instagram too and their account is @lovecrafts.com Apparently they check out all posts which include #LoveCrafts and feature some on their page.

Sarah wrote:

We are currently celebrating all things free, including the thousands of Free Crochet Patterns on our site! We would love for you to join the party – pick out a pattern and we’d love to send you the yarn to give the pattern a go yourself and share this with your readers so they can get involved also.

Whoop! Free Yarn! And why not?

One of my favourite crochet peeps Emma of Lulu Loves uses Paintbox Yarns often. I’ve always thought how squishy and soft the thicker yarns look. This offer seemed like the perfect opportunity to try some myself.

I chose a blanket pattern from their many free crochet patterns and my own colour palette.

Then I had a complete change of heart about the pattern, because dithering seems to be my new thing these days, but the yarn was already on the way. Oops. Oh well, I decided that actually my first big make should be something easy and relaxing. A summer crochet project which I could pick up and put down and which wouldn’t put my hand under too much pressure.

Plan B has worked out REALLY well because the Sleep Under the Stars blanket has got a similar overall quantity of yarn and it’s a really fun pattern. I’ve made three similar Star Ripple baby blankets before and I kept thinking how good it would be to have an adult sized star blanket to snuggle under… Wish now granted!

I chose Paintbox Simply Chunky in the following shades:

Granite grey / Mustard yellow / Slate grey / Misty grey / Pure black / Stormy grey

I was right about the yarn being squishy and incredibly soft. I’m loving it. Chunky yarn and a 6 mm hook means the pattern works up really quickly which is good as I’m limiting how much I do. I definitely made the right final pattern choice and I’m really happy!

What are you up to during these continuing lockdown days?