Hotter than Ibiza

My friend just sent a photo on WhatsApp of her legs up in the garden, with a glass of what she claims is water. It looks suspiciously like a vodka tonic to me but I don’t blame her if it is; as today it’s been hotter than Ibiza, Paris and New York, to name a few. 31 degrees! That’s hot for a country whose houses are all well insulated against the cold, where most people have wall to wall carpets and noooo A/C.

The frogs (we think, though maybe they’re toads and we’ve mistakenly identified them for years?) are taking it in turns to bask on the edge of the water tank in the garden. This is a tiny one. The bigger one was there yesterday and you can see s/he here

I tried to do some crochet, but it was really too hot and I had to give up when I realised the yarn was actually squeaking through my fingers….that’s pretty gross isn’t it?!

Instead I used my Nespresso machine and aeroccino to make iced coffees for the first time. Oh yes, there will definitely be more of these scrummy drinks.

For one iced coffee: make 40ml of espresso coffee, 90ml of cold frothy milk and 1-2 tsp of sugar syrup. Pour the hot coffee over lots of ice, mix in the sugar syrup and then stir in the milk.

I made a jar of sugar syrup for cocktails a while back and was so glad it was already there sitting in the fridge. I reckon an iced coffee habit is impending, so I’m sure I’ll have to make some more!

Gunby Hall & Gardens 

   
    
    
    
    
 Gunby Hall and Gardens in Lincolnshire were looking spectacular yesterday. Yes, this was yesterday not mid-July! What a beautifully warm day. Gunby is definitely one of our favourite National Trust properties of the year: the staff were extremely welcoming, but not intrusive, the hall and garden were immaculate, fresh produce from the garden is sold cheaply in the shop, I picked up a brilliant bargain in the secondhand book area and the coffee and walnut cake was delicious. Win win! 

On Saturday there was another BBQ in the field, the last of the year I guess now. If you fancy seeing a couple of the charity shop crochet blankets, which my cousin picked up for people to use when the sun goes down, then check out my Instragram pics (click on the camera icon in pink,  top right of this page). Because nether of us had made them, there was no worry about ketchup/wine/beer spills, sweet little cocker spaniels  jumping up to sit on your lap for a fuss, or whatever else! Apart from a China Teacup Poodle, which I used to have to suffer sitting on my lap in a friend’s car in Australia, this is the first time I’ve willingly had a dog sit on my lap. It’s actually ok, but I’m not making a habit of it. Cats though are welcome. 

A lovely Monday

 

IMG_2723 A lovely Springtime pot of violas, with tulips shooting up what seems an inch a day.

IMG_2728Blossom on the plum tree, blue sky with gorgeous fluffy clouds. The washing machine is whizzing around with a load of towels. I’m loving using the washing line again.

IMG_2729Isn’t it pretty?

IMG_2737Catkins on the hazelnut tree. The squirrels plunder these in Autumn, just as we’ve noticed they have ripened, leaving us to crunch along the path on piles of discarded nutshells.

 

Sleeping beauty and the kiss of crochet

I’ve started doing some cross stitching for the first time in a very, very  long time and am enjoying it. It’s funny though because I was always a bit down on cross stitching because I thought it relatively skill-less when I was younger. I used to do tapestry and embroidery more in those days. I’m working up to more sewing but have lost confidence through lack of practice and have forgotten lots of techniques. I also need to take a refresher on using a sewing machine since I have forgotten the teeny leetle bit I used to know.

 
 
 
 
I had to drive cross-country to work for about eight years and all the gear changes really aggravated my elbow, and so I actually gave up everything crafty. I just packed my hoops, frames, wools, threads, needles and books away. Then I got into study and stuff which left no time. I feel like sleeping beauty in lots of ways where craft is concerned as I didn’t do any for most of a decade. It seems extreme now, but I really was in pain at the time and used to find that even stirring cooking and cutting out with scissors aggravated it.
 
It’s much better nowadays and learning to crochet, then discovering the world of craft blogs, has awakened a gradual desire to try my hand at different skills again. It’s really exciting!

 
 
 I’d forgotten I had so many threads, fabrics and books tucked away. These books are now on the shelf here in the Little Room with my crochet and knitting ones, it’s becoming a bit of a library. S saw these and exclaimed ‘Una Stubbs?!!’ Well…yes….Una Stubbs. Now playing Mrs Hudson in Sherlock
And there she is going strong playing his landlady, bless her. I originally knew her from Aunt Sally in Worzel Gummidge.  I wonder if she’s still sewing in between filming?
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I’m not sure whether there’s a law of cross stitching (or, x stitching as it’s now known as in the 21st C version of kool crafts) as in all the stitches must universally go in a particular direction, but figure as I’m a leftie the top stitch goes L-R diagonally and as long as all stitches are in the same direction it’s ok. You see; I really have lost my mojo….!
 
 
 
 …Obviously quite  a close-up! The holes aren’t this big I promise…
Back to Crochet
 
On another tack; I was wondering about starting a CAL – a crochet along – here as I’ve owned this superb book for a while now but haven’t used it apart from for referencing stitches and techniques. Would you be interested in making 2-3 squares (or fewer? Is that too many?) with me a week?
 
Obviously you will need to get hold of a copy of the book since I can’t post patterns here as I would be infringing copyright. It seems to be a book that many crochet fans already own, and is very easy to get hold of too. See the book link to the right of this page>>>>
 
I thought I could post links to your blog and photos of the completed squares as we go on a weekly basis, maybe at the beginning of the following week?
 
I’ve run the idea by (clever) Patch who has suggested having a colour theme such as: Sea and Sand, Moonlight and Stars or Autumn Leaves. I love it! I’m drawn to Autumn Leaves since I wanted to make a blanket for my living room which ties in with my favourite rug there. It’s reddy, brownie, yellowy-goldy coours. BUT I can set up a poll for votes and alternative suggestions. I’m all for democracy. Once the theme is decided we would buy our own choice of colours, according to the theme, and type of yarns then compare notes.
 
Would you be interested in doing a CAL with me? I’m enthused by the idea since I haven’t got a social crochet group together yet, and this is a step in the right direction, albeit online. I’ve also never taken part in a CAL before either. pLeAsE sAy YES!
 
It’s holiday season so I reckon the best time to begin would be the first week of September, but that depends on you. It’s a busy going back to school week for many, but then you’ll probably need the meditative power of crochet and the sharing of progress in a social crochet kind of way won’t you?
 
To finish I wanted to show you this beautiful creature. I opened the curtains the other morning and there he was sitting on ‘his’ shed roof enjoying the morning sun. He’s either Ziggy or Spike, I can never remember and can’t ask my neighbour again!

Sunshine & raspberries

Yesterday we had a properly sunny day; it felt like summer with blue skies and fluffy white clouds and not a raindrop in sight. So Mum and I set off to the local pick-your-own farm (with we’ve-picked-some-for-you farm shop and cafe complete with bouncy castle) to plunder the fruit.

We picked raspberries and black-currants but gave up on the strawberries. To be honest lots were moudy or unripe from too much rain and they are sitting on soggy straw. When I got home I whipped out a couple of bags of sugar from my pantry, weighed them had just enough for a batch of jam. My first ever batch of raspberry jam. It’s incredibly quick to make and very, very easy. I’ve always made various chutneys: apple & orange, spiced apple, apple apricot & peach, apple & rhubarb, marrow chutney etc etc in the autumn because we’ve been lucky enough to have gardens with apple trees. I’ve also made jellies: chilli & apple jelly, mint jelly, rosemary jelly etc but never jam – apart from helping Mum when I was growing up – mainly because I’ve never eaten much. This seems to have changed in recent years and we get through a steady supply of Bonne Maman preserves. Now it’s going to be Bonne Rachell! *cheesy but pleased with self*

Raspberry jam

900g raspberries – wash and put in a heavy based pan, they need to gently cook in their own juice for about 10 minutes until soft

Take off the heat, stir in 900g sugar until dissolved

Add a knob of butter and bring to a boil and then simmer for 10-15 minutes or until setting point has been reached. Tip: put a few saucers in the freezer, to test SP put a small spoonful of jam onto the saucer, if it winkles when pushed with your finger a minute or two later it’s ready.

Remove scum. Pot in sterilised jars, cover. Lick spoons/fingers. Clean up. (I also found a splash of jam on my foot last night!)

This recipe made 4 pots of jam though only 3 are shown.

Bank holiday

Well, Plan B has happened this bank holiday weekend. Instead of being whisked away for a long weekend to the south coast, walking along beaches looking for messages in bottles washed up upon the sand, sea glass and interesting looking pebbles, I’ve had my leg up with ice packs on my knee and am going downstairs backwards. It seems that it is possible for your knee to go on holiday without you. You discover this when you try to get out of bed, but roll on the floor instead.

Ah well, the disappointment hasn’t lasted long since Plan A has been rebooked for another time. I’ve listened to hours of a fantastic new audio book and enjoyed the sunshine streaming into the house.

Here’s what I’ve been up to….

Now The Rainbow Granny Stripe is done and dusted its full steam ahead with The Rhubarb Ripple blanket.

Look what I’ve just bought, it stops the yarn rolling all over the place as I crochet. I might say that it also means less fluffy, bitty, velcro like yarn, but that would imply I haven’t hoovered for a while. So I won’t.

It’s a herb bucket, sooo pretty,  and less than £5 from Aldi.

Then on to The Spring Flower blanket. Now this turned into a bit of a saga, enjoyable but a saga all the same today.

I’m going to start darning ends in as I go. I promise. I do like darning but it is a major faff when all you want to do is the end bit of a project as I found out last week!

Patch is right; I do have a new obsession about joining methods. If I’ve asked you 1000s of questions about your method, and you’ve answered patiently, then a big thank you to you. I’ve also watched lots of YouTube videos and scoured my magazines and crochet books. I just wanted to find the method that I enjoyed. Not necessarily the best, but the most fun. So, the above is Patch’s sewn whip-stitch method. Ho hum, the tension is bad and it was a real fiddle. I used to do lots of cross stitch, tapestry and pathwork but am out of practice and it shows.

Next I tried double crochet which I used before on the dolls blankets

S has never been involved in my crochet endeavors so far, apart from nodding his head in a complimentary fashion (and using a piccy of The Rainbow GS on his desktop background. Now that must be high praise eh?!)  but he didn’t like the green. It was just too green, he said. I tried white as I wasn’t too sure about the greenness either.

DC versus sewing is definitely the most satisfying and the tension is a perfect match too. I really like the ridge, it’s a bit different and adds a nice texture to the work. But I’m not sure about the white. It doesn’t quite make sense to me. Why would you suddenly have that white? Has it snowed in Spring?! S isn’t sure about all the random colour combinations either. I’m happy with them though. I think…

Not sure. Really not sure…

More comparison….

Bye, bye white. Zip! It’s gone!

How long should it be? I’ll see how it measures up against the RR. I’ll do some edging on it too. I’ve undone my original green joins and rearranged the colours into less random pairs. I think S was right and it is easier on the eye.

It’s been really satisfying deciding on a method of joining, rearranging the squares and realizing that my Dublin hotel crocheted squares are going to come together nicely to make a blanket.

PLeAse DONt TelL mE YoU PReferReD ThE WhItE.

:-D

First Day of Spring

I’m never sure what these are, but they always look pretty at the end of the garden! I notice each year I photograph them that they’re never sharply in focus. I think they move deliberately, but I still think they’re pretty.

Nearly there. I’m still not sure what colour(s) they’ll be…

A food parcel sent as I had to cancel dinner plans yesterday. (I reasoned that sharing is fine; apart from when it’s nasty coldy germs.)

Coq au vin underneath, it will be yummy.

Lemon pudding with lemon sauce, and raspberries. Mmmm. Wonder if it’s ok to have for breakfast? Energy boost?

Earlyish morning meditation. I should have kept a note of the interesting blog I found on how to turn crochet into a mindful, meditative, activity. If I find it again I’ll share the link.

Oooh! These are my get-well-Rachell presents to myself, only ordered on Saturday.

I feel the need to say I don’t usually read chick-lit, but I’ve discovered JC and this is the third the fourth of hers I’ve read this year. They are so well written, entertaining and make me laugh out loud.

This Colgan book has obviously been through a few pairs of hands! I’ll google that hospice charity shop to see where it’s come from.

Happy Spring to you.

Now I’m off to do some proper work before the programme leader at Uni cuts my fingers off one by one. If that should occur please send me bars of ready broken-up chocolate. (Any sort apart from Galaxy.) Thanks very much. :-D

Flowers & Seashells

Yesterday I was road-testing the flower key chain pattern for Adrianne of Teeny Weeny Design and trying to get over a streaming cold, so crochet in bed was in order.

Imagine my horror when I realised that the petals were made with a combination of dc (fine) tr (not an issue) htr (quite like them) and dtr (EEEEEK!)

The dreaded dtr and me have a bit of recent history as you might know. I even started a little dtr SOS thread on Ravelry. People there are sooo helpful and knowledgeable. If you want to ask anything crochet or knitting related there’s where you need to head right away.

I watched a very short and simple YouTube video, then got on with trying them again. They are not a problem with cotton! Not an issue at all!

I’m now waiting on the next set of instructions so I can carry on with the leaves and finishing off. I’ve taken my job seriously and emailed some suggestions for the clear translation of English terms etc. It’s been really fun!

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Today I have mastered dtr with chunky yarn too.

:-D :-D :-D

I’ve had a quiet morning sitting in the sun having a second go at The Chunky Seashell Scarf that I tried a week or so ago. The dtr for some reason are not a problem now!  This new found ease must be from yesterday’s petal practice. Perhaps doing them with cotton gave me confidence to try using the more bulky chunky yarn and big 6mm hook?

Want to see? (Sorry, I’m being a bit naff-twee…as if having a crochet blog wasn’t twee enough ;-))

I’m off to The Little Room now, back into the sunshine to practise a few more dtrs -my tension needs to be consistent – while I recoup some more energy for the rest of the week ahead. A friend has given me a couple of Bollywood music cds. Fab crochet-while-chair-dancing about to happen!

Feel free to tell me what you’re working on at the moment, I love a poke around online into others crafty blogs and websites.

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I’ve had a lovely hour or two this afternoon….

A little bit of sweetness with a few rows of wave

“Ta-dah! Here I am!”

Mr Scrappy is finally finished.

Want to make your own Mr Scrappy? Click here for the free pattern

Next it was nice to do a few more rows of granny stripes for the rainbow blanket…

Soooo relaxing. It’s getting cosy as it grows and keeps my legs warm as I work.

I hope you’re having a good weekend too? After a busy week I think there’s nothing better than sunshine streaming through the windows, a little bit of chocolate (or whatever makes you feel like you’re having a treat) and something relaxing to make or do.

Lovely!