Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness 


Autumn’s creeping slowly in now. There’s that crispness to the air in the mornings, leaves are beginning to turn, mornings and evenings are darker earlier and my thoughts are turning to soup recipes. The main indicator of the change of season is that I woke feeling iffy yesterday so made my first porridge of the season, accompanied with a fizzy vitamin c drink! I don’t mind. I love autumn. Always have. It’s especially going to be good as on very rainy days I can catch up on blog reading! We have BROADBAND again! Finally!

I met my cousin (she of the Lincolnshire field BBQs) at Waterperry Gardens yesterday for a look around and cup of earl grey. As you see; the pear trees are laden and the pumpkins are steadily growing on, apart from one monster which looks set to take over the world!

Knit & Sip was fun again yesterday. There was no mention or sight of any nettle yarn, I’m dubious it’s actually going to happen, it’s pretty labour intensive I’d have thought, but will have to see. All around the table there was so much chat and creativity going on. You’d never guess what was being made by the six of us. Mine would be easy; as I’ve got my pub knitting for the next two years set up with my garter stitch blanket, but some of the others? No way! One’s knitting what looks like it will be a really warm and beautiful dark purple jumper, on those very stylish black Karbonz DPNs. Even in the process of being made it looks so swish. Someone else is making her first ever garment using very interesting looking art yarn type of thing by King Cole, another is finishing a cotton bedspread her mother started and is unable to complete, using a 4 ply white cotton. This is the type of realllly clever knitting where there are lots of twiddly bits, including leaves emerging in the pattern. It’s another stylish knit. If the word ‘bedspread’ puts you off, just think ‘throw.’ I reckon it’s going to be one of these heirloom pieces the daughters will both want to own, as it’s knitted by Grandma and Mother. Another is knitting….wait for it….Lego Hands Gloves for her Lego loving hubby! The last is knitting A Jesus Tea Cosy for her R.C friend. Well! Can you beat that for sheer variety? Anyone? I’m throwing the Lego glove of challenge on the ground between us! 

As for reading I’m unusually still plodding on with exactly the same books as last week: Laurie Lee’s As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning and have a mere hour of The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy to go. Celia Imrie is superb at accents. The character Finty is the best by miles. 

What about you? What are you making and reading? Can you match my challenge above? Does it feel autumnal where you are, or beginning to zing with Spring? 

If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday too, leave a link in the comments. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

Something really easy


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

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

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

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

If you’d like to share a photo of what you’re making and reading this week, leave a link to a current post in the comments and I’ll add it here. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

1: One Creative Cat

2: Needles and Wool

3: Vikki Bird Designs

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.

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16 for 2016 revisited 

I decided to revisit my 16 for 2016 goals and see how I’ve got on. Here’s the original post.

1: Re-edge my Rhubarb Ripple blanket properly

Completed in February. img_2398

2: Learn how to tat lace.

Not done, as I have to say I’ve gone off this idea. The tatting shuttle only cost £1 in the sale at John Lewis, so it’s no great loss if it remains unopened!

3. Do something with my blocks from my 200 Blocks CAL

Done! After they had sat in The Little Room for far too long, I took action. Last month I thought of someone who would appreciate them and would whip them into shape. Oh my goodness; how right I was! The piles of blocks were received and in five minutes were sorted into three piles, crocheted together into blankets and are now just awaiting borders. I posted them up north to Nana Cathy whom we had the pleasure of meeting last Spring. Fantastic – I organised a Crochet Along, learnt new skills, met other crocheters through it (Cathy being one) and made some lovely blocks which will now be used and appreciated. I’m really pleased, if a little regretful that I didn’t pass them on sooner.

4: Knit socks, or have a go

Not knitted any yet, but I crocheted a sock pattern as a volunteer tester for designer Vicki Brown.

5: Dye some yarn

I have been ruthlessly dealing with my stash first, more about this later.

(For Christmas I received a dyeing kit and some extra undyed merino sock and DK yarns.)

6: Use my sewing machine again

Yes, but I can’t think what I sewed.

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7: Attend a workshop or class (any)

I’ve just booked to do a drawing class. This needs many !!!!!! I always wanted to draw, but gave up at the kites and clouds stage. At school as part of a whole year-group assessment we had to draw some veg. It was a carrot and broocholi for me I think. Despite really trying hard my effort was labelled ‘a weak attempt’ and that was very much that. However, as part of my degree I read a book in which the author argued that in times past everyone was taught drawing, in the same way everyone was taught other skills. She believed it is not necessarily an innate talent, but one which can be taught. I’m not expecting to turn into Leonardo, but the fact I’m going to try something new gives me a buzzy feeling (and probably sweaty hands on the day…)

8: Join a Knit & Natter group for a session
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Yep! When we met Trish and family in the summer, we noticed a narrow boat with a name relating to a TV programme we’d been discussing. It surprised us rather at the time as a freaky coincidence. A week later we were on a family walk by our local canal and I saw that boat again (miles away from before.) Not being a shy person I bounded up to the owner who was sitting on a bench on the tow-path, to ask if she’d been moored outside a certain country pub a week before? Soon we were inexplicably talking about knitting, yarn and spinning and I felt I’d possibly made a new friend in 8 minutes, or so. I’m off to knit and natter with her once again tonight. When crafty boater friends are in her neck of woods they will join us at the cosy pub.

9: Knit something with one or more of my new skeins of yarn

Mira Cowl
Mock Cable Mitts
Cozy Cowl


10: Finish the ‘My Designs’ link page I started a while ago

Look above… I’m never going to be a talented designer, but there are some nice and simple projects.IMG_8968

11: Turn the failed hexagon a day blanket project into something else

It turned into a Baby blanket.img_0459

12: Make another small cotton pot-holder

I did, in March. Have a go at one yourself too? Mine are used every day.
Saucepans with metal handles mean pot holders are necessary, not purely decorative.img_2489-2img_2490

13: Embroider something again

I cross-stitched instead, this summer

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14: Make up the finished X stitch things

Umm no. It’s the making, but not the displaying I’m into, I’ve realised. I should maybe turn them into pin cushions or birthday cards. Or would you like them? I’m happy to send them to a good home.

15: Decide about the Yorkshire blanket….redo? Undo and recycle? Give away?IMG_0925.JPG

I gave it to a charity shop a few weeks ago. Some people urged me not to give away or undo my first ever crochet make, but it wasn’t being used. I talked about it here. Mum had taught me and so I ran it past her. I didn’t think she’d be sentimental about me keeping it. I was right and she suggested I give it to the shop rather than undo it and hand over lots of little balls of yarn. They can always sell it as it is, or undo it to sell or reuse the yarn.

16: Use up a good chunk of my yarn stash

Done. I’ve been ruthless sorting it out. This year’s Baby hexagons blanket, Annabell’s doll clothes and the Unnamed Ripple (coming to the knit and natter session at the pub tonight) has used up lots of Stylecraft yarn. I’ve given away a bundle of various wool and yarn to a friend for her charity craft group too. I’m going back to buying for specific projects and not willy nilly. By the time you get round to using it you do not necessarily like the colours anymore (the whole CAL blocks issue), or have quite enough.

My Stripes and Squares blanket, a total stash buster project, is not far off being finished. I’ve tried a new combination joining method; which is good for a change.img_1058-1

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That was a comprehensive list and looking back I’m pleased, and a bit surprised, with what I achieved. There’s still a month plus, of the year to go as well. My goal now is to finish the Unnamed Ripple and the Stripes & Squares blanket by the end of the year. Then my resolution for 2017 is No Resolutions!

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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.

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Doubles 

Stash busting is fun especially to begin with when there’s no plan. I just started out making a four colour double crochet block, then another. Doubles are pretty greedy stitches though, so I can imagine I might want to go to restock the claret and raspberry yarn (my two current favourite shades) which kind of defeats the object of a stash buster make. Still, Stylecraft is cheap. Lucky isn’t it?

For years my cousin and I have been reading the alphabet series by Sue Grafton, sharing the books after hunting them all down in charity shops. Latterly we’ve been waiting a few years at a time for the next one to be published. X is the 24th in the series. I worry that Sue Grafton might not get to the end sometimes. 

I’m only 3 or 4 chapters in, but Kinsey’s already eaten a grilled cheese sandwich and bought peanut butter, so all is well!  These books always make me crave egg and cucumber or pnb sandwiches without fail…

I’m joining in with Ginny and all the other yarn alongers again. It’s my fave post of the week and I love to see what others are reading and making. Looking up the #yarnalong tag on Instagram is good too. 

New 

A night or two ago I learnt a new skill – mitred squares. I’ve been thinking about having a go for ages; then saw Angie’s photo on Instagram. They’re a good way to use up some oddments of DK. I have a lot!

I tried knitting one in stocking stitch, but it was too thin. Garter stitch is so easy and will make a nice warm blanket.  I’m really enjoying making these squares. It’s exciting to try something new.

I just picked up 60 Postcards by Rachael Chadwich at the library. I couldn’t resist it after reading the blurb: Rachael’s Mother died of cancer just sixteen days after diagnosis. Overwhelmed as her Mum’s 60th birthday approached she decided to scatter 60 postcards across a city, with a handwritten message asking the finders to get in touch. She decided to go to Paris, using the Eurostar vouchers which were the last gift her Mum gave her… Can you see why I couldn’t leave this book on the shelf? 

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

Baby Hexagon Blanket – finished – hurray!

Yep! It’s finished. There’s always a good feeling about completing something isn’t there? Even more so for this because it’s been a far slower process than any other blanket I’ve made. I reckon it’s because I haven’t made it for anyone in particular, it’s been a case of making something out of the hexies. I didn’t want to abandon them. It’s not a race, but I don’t like things hanging around and around and around… (The only other thing undone is those CAL blocks and I’m wondering if to just give them away.)

I do admit to having a bit of a smug glow about actually having made something out of the aborted Baby Hexie a Day project. It was started on Instagram by another crocheter, around New Year’s Day 2015. Lots of us began with enthusiasm as you do in January. It turned out to be the crochet equivalent of joining a gym; because by the middle of the month, perhaps even sooner, people started to realised that 365 mini hexagons weren’t going to make anything of any size. I am glad I did something with my piece because they are pretty cute.

I used Stylecraft Special DK oddments left over from other blankets, with a 4mm hook. I think I’ve listed all, but please let me know if you notice any I’ve left out:

1.parchment 2. plum 3. graphite 4. silver 5. lime 6. lavender 7. camel 8. raspberry

9. clematis 10. grey 11. mocha 12. walnut 13. pale rose


The blanket is 26″/  66cm in length, 19.5″ / 49.5cm in width and weighs 289g. I’d say it’s a perfect pram or car seat size.

For the border I started with a round of dc stitches, then for the second round, I crocheted trebles (with 2 tr, 1 ch, 2 tr at the corners.) When I came to the short sidesI did 2 dtr tog, which was 1 dtr into each tr of the JAYGO edges. This evened up the stitches to bring them to the same height as the others.I like the look and texture of those dtr tog too.The third and fourth rounds I decided on 2 colour dc spike stitches. I considered bobbles or pom-pom stitches but decided less is more.

I used this graphic on Instagram for the hexagons, although there were a variety of patterns. Try a few and see which you find most satisfying to make and which look most ‘hexagony’.

With the help of Trish – Made by Patch this is what I did for the half hexies:

FR: ch 4, the 1st ch is the centre of the half hexagon. This is counted as 1 tr.

R2: 2 tr (into the first / bottom ch st) ch 1. Rep twice more then 1 tr (all into the same place.) Turn.

R3: Ch3, 1 tr (into ch1 sp of prev row) 2 tr, ch 1, 2 tr (jnto next ch 1 sp) Rep once more. 2 tr (into final ch1 sp.) Fasten off.

If you want to JAYGO this is what I did: ss into a baby hexagon after turning at the end of R2, then ch3 (ch2 might look better, see what you think.) Continue R3 but ss in between the next 2 2tr, instead of 1 ch, 2 tr clusters, 2tr then ss at the end. This technique looks ok, but if I do another hexagon blanket I’d seriously consider sewing or crocheting it all together and forgetting the JAYGO thing altogether.

Now I’ve finished with the baby hexies I’ve been picking up the Unnamed Ripple again. That is its name by the way, it just stuck!

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Finally 

No…surely not…actual crochet has been done? 

Yep. It’s all true. 

The temperature dropped to 21 degrees on Monday and my sticky hot little hands, were less sticky and hot.

I’ve dithered a bit, but as you see have just done a simple foundation round of doubles. I need to check out other hexagon blankets and see what I think about straightening the edges, or not.

Yesterday morning I popped into the library to take a book back quietly chanting under my breath: “Don’t take any books today, read the ones you have.” But then I stumbled across this Tracy Chevalier that’s been on my wishlist for ages and I found The Three Weissmanns of Westport. The blurb alone made me smile in a wry way. Ah well – the paperbacks and few Kindle books I already have won’t disappear if they wait another week or two. It’s good to use your local library.

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

Lately 


  • With a little help from my friend Trish, of Made by Patch blog, I’ve figured out how to crochet a half hexie so I can finally finish the little blanket off. Hurray! I’d worked it out apart from the beginning; where I was crocheting a chain of 4 and slip stitching them together. Ingeniously she chained 4, but then made the first stitch into the first chain made, making the other 3 into a treble – so no lumpy bumpy circle at the bottom in what should be a half. 
  • Cooking king prawn linguine – so delicious! You want to as well? Roast cherry tomatoes with a teaspoon of olive oil and a teaspoon or two of balsamic vinegar. While the linguine is cooking, gently cook the king prawns in another teaspoon of olive oil, some cloves of garlic and red chilli. Top with basil and a shaving of parmesan. What you can’t see is a hungry man with a slight frown on his face and his fork poised, while I make him wait to take a photograph of his dinner!
  • A gorgeous sunny, relaxed Friday with drinks and dinner at Samuel Jones Smoke & Ale House by the river Exe, in Exeter – thoroughly recommended 
  • A return, after about 14 years, to Lanhydrock a National Trust property, near Bodmin in Cornwall. It was just as good as we remembered and still one of the best houses; due to the sheer number of rooms to see. There’s an interesting focus on the upstairs-downstairs lives of the former inhabitants.

I’ve brought my hexies away with me, to deepest sunniest / rainiest Cornwall, but so far they’ve stayed zipped inside my Cath Kidson bag. I think it’s official: I’ve lost my crojo, or my crajo in general. I’m wondering if by putting this out there now it might mean I do some later?! But there are other things I AM doing: walking lots, as usual, visiting the gym to use some of the equipment, doing an Aqua Zumba class and rediscovering my swimming skills (used to be part of a swimming club.) As it was pouring yesterday morning we went to the local leisure centre to swim lengths, then played race and dive for the locker key and I even did a few handstands in the pool. I dread to think what the expression was on the faces of the young lifeguards! I don’t actually care. When I am old I shall wear purple…. (This poem.)

Baby Annabell’s clothes

 Yesterday I made a little tunic top and am halfway through a poncho. The poncho is so cute! The owner of the Baby Annabell will be 3 next week, and so I shall pop these into the post in the next few days. I just need to sew on a couple of buttons and darn the ends.

Doll’s clothes are fun, I’m finding. I’m not one for toy making, but clothes are satisfyingly fast and so cute. I did think Baby Annabell (36cm) clothes patterns would be leaping out at me, but it took quite a lot of searching on Pinterest and Ravelry. I didn’t want to design any myself and preferred to find freebies this time. I’ll take another photo when they’re both finished. Links to the patterns are here on my Ravelry project page.

Joining with Ginny’s Yarn Along: I finished listening to the last of the enjoyable The Kasmir Shawl last night, as I made the tunic. I’ve been alternating it with Moranthology, which had me laughing far too loudly on a plane last Friday (the bit about how Keith Richards cooks sausages. I’d had a double gin…)

The Woman in White is nearing the end. My Kindle reading speed reckons it’s another 1hr 20m but I’m determined to finish faster. I feel like I’ve been reading it for years. It is surprisingly funny and this is my favourite line of the book, so far, it’s at the end of a letter which has been delivered to our hero:

You can have no possible cause to complain of these precautions, seeing that they do not affect the information I here communicate, in consideration of the special indulgence which you have deserved at my hands. My hour for tea is half-past five, and my buttered toast waits for nobody.’ 

Good lady!