Kitchen sink post

This is what I’ve always called a kitchen sink post; since it feels like everything’s included except the sink.

I keep glancing up, as I type, to look at the long line of beech trees across the road. Their leaves are gently fluttering down and across in a diagonal line to fall straight into our garden. Some are hitting this window with a real ting. They’re not incredibly close by but the wind always seems to blow this way. There’s a carpet of coppery leaves covering the grass now and they’re not even our trees! Pretty though.

Previously I would darn the ends in a blanket on several lazy weekend afternoons; semi-watching a film or listening to an audio book, while the rugby played out on the tv. It got them done and I didn’t mind it too much at all. Hand sewing of any kind has always been relaxing. But this Wave Blanket is not getting darned very fast at all, as I’m sure you’ve noticed. Weekends have been busier lately (in a very nice way, no moaning here, or competitive ‘I’m the busiest person in the world’ boasts) and so no lazy afternoons to sit and focus. Today I’m meeting someone very yarny for lunch and when we were making arrangements last night she clearly instructed me to bring yarn. ‘Anything fibrous’. Does Stylecraft’s acrylic yarn count? Hmmm. Well, I don’t know that I can sit in a gastro pub and darn, that’s a step too far for me. I’m not entirely comfortable with knitting or crocheting in any public place, unless it’s tucked away on a bus, or as part of a knitting and crochet group. She currently carries a spindle and wodge of fleece in the depths of her bag, and thinks nothing of whipping out her knitting while queuing in the bank, walking up a hill or ….. I don’t have that kind of chutzpah, or obsessive compulsive behaviour around yarn. (Fingers and toes crossed she doesn’t read before this lunch. Could be embarrassing.)

So, the long and the short of it is that I’m beginning to feel awkward that this blanket isn’t done. I shall try to goad this feeling into determined action. Aiming for five ends a day would be something. It’s not huge after all, just fiddlier than my usual Ripple pattern. A dozen ends last week was clearly not reaching for the stars. That little baby Winnie needs her blanket.

I have been steadily knitting my Hitchhiker, adding a section at a time, and really like the different shades which are appearing. It’s Lang’s Tosca Light in Sapphire.

It’s all Christmas a go-go isn’t it? I did a double take when I saw the trees in the garden centre on Friday, but I imagine lots will be up and decorated from this weekend, as the first of December looms. I’ve only bought three Christmas presents, but feel quite pleased with myself. I don’t believe in rushing these things!

The Soup of the Week here has been tomato and vegetable, with that stunning bowl of plum tomatoes bought on impulse from the market. There were just over a kilo for £1. Bargain! It’s probably the ideal recipe for a summer glut of tomatoes when they’re at their tastiest, but it’s great with feta or blue cheese crumbled on top for added oomph.

~ Sweat onion, carrot and celery in a little rapeseed oil, then add 500g of ripe tomatoes, a 400g can of tomatoes, 500ml of stock, salt and pepper, a little sugar to take away the acidity of the tomatoes and a good handful of fresh basil leaves (or whatever fresh or dried herbs you fancy.) Add a tablespoon of red vinegar. Blend to a smooth consistency and enjoy.

I used up a vintage red pepper in my first batch a few weeks ago and that worked well. It’s a goodie for adding whatever you fancy. I’ve tried it with and without the red wine vinegar, it adds piquancy but is fine without too.

Reading: this week I’ve got four books on the go; one printed, one Ebook, and two audio.

1) I’m enjoying another Laura Ingalls Wilder from my childhood collection. A few chapters are good nostalgic reading late at night.

2) Yesterday’s 99p Kindle Daily Deal Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak reeled me in as I tried the sample and that’s almost certain to hook you into buying. I try not to download them, some days with more success than others! I’m really enjoying it and can almost certainly see a film being made from this one. It’s breaking my own rule about not starting Christmas books before 1st December, but whatever!

3) Bruce’s Born to Run audio book, read by him in that uniquely gravelly voice, which I will still be listening to in chunks next year because it’s over 18 hours long.

4) And finally, The Muse by Jessie Burton which I started on the way to Excel, London on Saturday for the Knitting, Stitching and Hobbycraft Simply Christmas show.

How much do you think I bought there by the way?

Answer…..a Carrot cupcake for lunch pudding! I was so restrained I nearly sprained something. Black Sheep Wools had bags of gorgeousness on sale, another seller had those Swirl cakes and Whirl cakes and all sorts of lovely wool blends. I resisted. Yes, I do deserve a medal, thanks very much, especially as my friend had told me to remind her she’s skint then bought bags of yarn and other fancies!

What are you making, cooking and reading this week? If you want to add your own Yarning Along link in the comments go for it. But tell us what you’re up to either way.

Cute make 

This little paw print cosy for a take-away coffee mug has been occupying me the last few days, whenever I’ve sat down to take advantage of the bright sunny weather. I haven’t done any tapestry crochet for ages, so really enjoyed practising my rusty skills. More about where the pattern and kit came from very soon…. I have to take a little black cat, with a powder puff tail, to the vet shortly so this is a very quick post.
I’ve still got three more chapters of As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee to read! I’ve been out a lot recently, so no time for reading before lights out. I have started a new audio book though; The State We’re In by Adele Parks.  This is ticking all the boxes so far, with time jumping all over the decades, seemingly unconnected characters and a dying man trying to connect with someone he’s neglected for 30 odd years. It’s my kind of book. Easy come, easy go and it’s always enjoyable trying to work out who’s who and why and what.

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.

Lots of pretties

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Choosing a range of Stylecraft colours for my next make – a crochet blanket. The colour scheme needs to complement some William Morris fabric. I’m enjoying selecting them as they’re a new combination. You might be able to see my light ticks on the colour chart if you look closely, or enlarge the pic.
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A lovely post-Sunday lunch was spent in this garden yesterday, sitting in the sun flicking through magazines and chatting. We make the most of the weather when it’s sunny. The cottage garden style border is poised to break into an abundance of colour.

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Twinkling and sparkling this huge sign is pretty, it’s on the front of the Selfridges store, London. Many were taking photos with themselves in front. I enjoy having strangers hand me their iPhone so I can take their photo. It happens a lot. A lot. I must look so trustworthy (or maybe like I’m not going to be running anywhere fast), this always amuses me.

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My beautiful bouquet of flowers. Stocks and freesias scent the air.

If you fancy a very slow, beautifully shot film, directed by Jane Campion, which features Love, sewing, fancy dresses and bonnets, Love and plenty of romantic poetry from the young Love struck Keats then watch Bright Star. Even the slight twang of antipodean accents at times (aiming for English) can be forgiven.

Rhubarb Ripple blanket

It’s finished! Two blankets finished in a week feels very good.
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To edge or not to edge? It just looked raw as it was, the edges appear very uneven in the photo but it’s just that I didn’t straighten it out on the carpet very well.

In the end after a fair bit of thought, and Googling others’ finished ripples, I decided that less is more. I really like the rippled top and bottom edges so just crocheted 3 rows of dc along the sides.

As everyone does, here are lots and lots of photos. I did try for a whole blanket shot but it’s so tricky and the light was bad in the bedrooms. If Summertime I could have laid it on the grass and stood on a step-ladder, but it would probably have flown away today! The thing to do is get your tape measure out, squint at the photos and visualise the finished blanket. :-)
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Pattern: Attic 24

Measurements: 125cm x 180cm

Weight of finished blanket: 1.236g

80 stripes: 2 rows = 1 stripe

Yarn: Stylecraft Special DK

Hook: 4mm

10 colours:

1188 Lavender

1084 Magenta

1065 Meadow

1241 Fondant

1083 Pomegranate

1390 Clematis

1061 Plum

1432 Wisteria

1019 Cloud Blue

1003 Aster

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I’ve now crocheted 4 complete blankets, with a 5th in progress at the moment. The Rhubarb Ripple is my favourite which is funny as I just grabbed a few colours out of my pack of Stylecraft to try the ripple stitch for the first time. I liked it so much I just carried on and it evolved into a blanket!

It’s Blog Law that you photograph blankets you’ve made folded up together, so here you are:
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Fishy popcorn

Rainbow trout

Aren’t they beauties? We’ll be eating part of one (they’re big beauties) tonight – new potatoes, trout and salad here we come!

S has had such a good year for fly fishing that I suspect family and friends are beginning to smile with decidedly fixed ‘oh-my-goodness-here-they-come-with-more-bloody-fish’ expressions when we visit. There are several in the freezer now, so if you fancy one let me know ;-)

Practice block in Stylecraft Special DK, 3.5 mm hook.

Ok so Popcorns are not tricky exactly, just a little fiddly, but I’m just not a fan at this point. They don’t look very special to me, but I do love a good bobble stitch I’ve decided!

What are you making at the moment?

More importantly: what are you having for dinner?

Week 1: CAL Blocks #1 #2 #3

I was really keen to start crocheting something new, so I crocheted the first 3 blocks last week. I was feeling a little apprehensive about how long they would take me to accomplish, since I am probably only at an intermediate crochet level at this stage. Will I understand the patterns? Will I master bobble stitch (block #4 uh-oh) spike stitches and the dreaded popcorn which always makes me nervous for some reason, although I’ve never actually tried making one. They’re probably a cinch? I’m also between projects because I’m meant to be darning in all those pesky ends of the Rhubarb Ripple and the Target Squares blankets, but my fingers get itchy if I don’t do any crochet for a day or so.

CAL Resolution: I’m going to darn in every single end when I’ve finished a block before I begin another. Darning is fine, but not 1000 ends at once which holds up the exciting final stage of joining or edging.

Have you made any CAL resolutions? Go on, spill if you have – I’m so nosy.

Here goes then….

#1 Triangle Stripes

#2 Tiny Textures

#3 Square Target

It was all going so well with #1 until the decreasing rows

If the paper can stay this is fine!

Redo – carefully! Counting is the answer.

Stylecraft special DK (SSDK) 6″ square-ish!

Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino (DBBC) Bliss indeed! My first posh wool, it’s so soft to work with and the stitch definition is amazing. Compare block #2 SSDK & DBBC
This is 6.5″ square using a 4mm hook

Oh fudge! I thought this was a perfect first attempt. The needle highlights where the error began

Second try. Ohhh! Spot what I’ve done? (Ignore the tape measure) I added an extra row for this block to try to square it up, then decided to stick with the written pattern for the next attempt (I swear there is one more row in the pictured block in the book…)

HURRAY! Third time lucky
SSDK 3.5mm hook 5.5″ square

Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino: 4mm hook 5.5″ high & 5.7″ wide
This is my patch of marigolds

SSDK 5.5″ square

The outer pink is darker than shown – photo taken under the apple tree so the sunlight was dappled

Pleased and a bit proud of myself, mistakes and all it’s been good fun

The plan so far:
>I’m going to carry on using the two hook sizes for the two yarns.
>I’m not going to stress about the differing sizes as there’s blocking, which I’ve never tried but is meant to work like magic, also some clever soul suggested using the larger blocks for one project, the smaller ones for another.
>I’m just going to enjoy the challenge of crocheting the blocks and decide what to make out of them later.

:-D

PS:: I’ve found out a mug of earl grey tea on a lap-top does not reach a happy conclusion. Just to let you know in case you’re breezily sitting with your drink right there…. DON’T!

It’s the weekend

Today for lunch I made Spiced bulghar, chickpea and squash salad It’s scrummy. Absolutely delicious.

• 1 butternut squash, about 1kg/2lb 4oz peeled, seeded and cut into small chunks
• 2 red peppers, seeded and roughly sliced
• 2 tbsp harissa paste
• 1 tbsp oil
• 140g bulghar wheat
• 600ml hot vegetable stock
• 1 garlic clove, crushed
• juice of ½ lemon
• 150g natural bio-yogurt
• 400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
• 180g bag baby leaf spinach

::Heat the oven to 200c/fan 180c/gas 6.

::Toss the squash and red pepper in the harissa paste and oil. Spread the chunks out on a large baking tray and roast for 20 mins until softened and the edges of the vegetables are starting to char.

::Meanwhile put the Bulghar wheat in a large bowl and pour over the hot stock, then cover tightly with cling film and leave to absorb the liquid for 15 mins until the grains are tender, but still have a little bite.

::In a separate bowl, mix the garlic and lemon juice into the yogurt and season to taste.

::Let the Bulghar wheat cool slightly then toss in the roasted vegetables, chickpeas and spinach – the leaves may wilt a little.

::Season, if you want, drizzle with the garlicky yogurt and serve warm.

Recipe from the BBC Good Food website

***The changes I’d make to the recipe are to roast the garlic with the butternut and peppers, but still have a yoghurt-lemon dressing as this works really well drizzled on top. I’d also recommend seasoning the vegetables before they go in the oven.***

And with the dressing….

This is a really tasty, healthy and filling lunch. Win win!

I’m going to crochet a few more of these over the weekend…

….while I wait for the feather cushion pad I ordered for the blooming flower cushion. The circle for the back is now complete too. It’s just a case of waiting patiently for it to arrive. I’ll post a picture when the cushion’s complete. The part I’m really looking forward to is dc-ing around the edges. Joining using dc stitches is my favourite joining method, so far.

Enjoy your weekend.

This morning….

I only called Deramores yesterday lunchtime and here’s the new order!

I hadn’t mentioned that I bought another stash of the multi-pack last week, the second of the year already! I’m now the yarn Queen of the South.

Here’s the original lot. I really do recommend Deramores; superb service and fast delivery. Plus Stylecraft Special DK is £1.79 at the moment. It’s soft and nice to work with, no it’s not wool but it’s not bad at all for 100% acrylic.

I tried out a new pattern I’d seen online. This will be my Spring Flower blanket eventually. I used up oddments from the wave patttern I tried (below) but disliked after I compared it to Lucy’s ripple pattern. I hate waste and so every scrap turns into something else.

I’ve enjoyed trying out my new cream to edge the Alternative Granny Squares. It seems soothing after all the brightness!

Did you know I’m a leftie by the way? If you’re new and want a leftie recommendation of a great ‘learn to crochet book’ then click on the books! link to the right >>>>> it’s called Crochet Unravelled and has diagrams for lefties and those odd rights ;-p I still look at it sometimes when a bit befuddled.

Hmmm, well this my plan ahead for Easter project which hasn’t happened since there’s a lack of fun in the making. Fiddly. Squeaky horrid cheapo yarn. But it might still get completed since:

a) I hate not finishing something, even if I dislike it. (Mum’s the same I once bought us both a lovely tin of what turned out to be horrid sweets. Owning the lovely tin was the object though we both ate the horrid sweets; because it’s not good to throw things away or waste them. S thinks us both to be nutters. Obviously he’s wrong.)

b) It’s VERY cute when completed

c) I don’t like failing.

Away for trip #1 and trip #2 from tomorrow,  I’ll share some pics on my return. :-D

Have a lovely Easter.

Yarnalicious!

Oooh look what just arrived…

A big sack of yarn (I hate saying yarn, I grew up with a Mum who said wool as in ‘We’re going to walk to the wool shop’ and ‘Can you help wind my wool please?’ but there’s nothing of it in this huge parcel that’s ever seen a sheep, let alone come from one!)

It’s like a game of pass the parcel!

I can’t wait to see what’s inside! I’ve never bought more than 2 balls of yarn by mail before!

Wow! Looks good and feels very soft. Far softer than I imagined 100% acrylic would feel.

There’s one colour  I really didn’t like when I saw it pictured in the online shop but it’s a pack so you take the urgh with the lovely colours! Can you tell which one it is?!

They’ve sold out of the pack I think as I type because it’s not on the page when I went there for the url thingy, but I know they’ll be putting more together, such is the power of Lucy of Attic24! This pack is exactly the same colours she used for one of her projects; the Granny Stripe blanket for her caravan.

Now I don’t know exactly what I’m going to make with this, apart from the jar cover for a very lovely friend Naomi. She’s been really helpful and, well, so lovely that I wanted to make her something useful. She can keep all her pens in it at school.

I originally ordered the pack so I could have a stash to use for all manner of little projects, but I am tempted to make a blanket. The little girls might like a blanket to snuggle under….I might like a blanket to snuggle under…..

All these exciting possibilities….

 

PS: S said when he saw the yucky green that “It looks like the dial has been turned to 11 for that one!” Spot on I reckon!!