I woke up really early yesterday morning, read a bit more of Hidden Depths, the third book in the Vera series by Anne Cleeves and then fell back asleep for a few hours. When I woke I scrolled a bit on Insta and found I had a burning need to crochet a hexagon!
Do you ever feel like that? You just have to grab some scraps of yarn and a hook and go for it?
I’d seen Anita’s Vintage Hexagons a while back and that was the pattern I settled on. It’s free and here on her brand new website. She’s so clever with colour and original blanket designs. We’ve followed each other for years on Insta, but now she’s really taking designing up a notch. Check out her accounts.
I’ve been on a mission for a long time to finish all the things already started, or to unravel them, but I made an allowance yesterday. A few hexies, using oddments from blanket making, wouldn’t exactly be breaking the plan. I fancied something colourful. I really like the variegated Hayfield Spirit wool acrylic mix I’m using for my Coast blanket, but it’s quite muted.
Crocheting motifs bit by bit would be an ideal project for short bursts of crochet. I’d get that feeling of completing something, without crippling pain at the end of a mammoth row of a blanket. Anyway, I’m always drawn to hexagons, they’re probably my most favourite shapes.
Do you recognise my colour combo? I’ve used it a little more more than I realised. Thank goodness for my account on Pinterest. I had a quick look through my pins to spot everything made with this colour combo. My Pinterest doesn’t feature everything, but it’s a good selection. It’s amazing how many people end up here clicking through from Pinterest.
Anyway, back to yesterday…
I think I might stop here and change yarns. I’ve become used to more of a wool content, even 20%, and the plasticy look of this acrylic is not doing it for me. Or maybe I should try a different brand?
This week I may donate what I’ve made so far, and the little middles I also made, with the rest of the oddments. I could pop in a note telling the buyer where to find the free pattern online too.
What’s your go-to yarn for blanket making? I’m not about to buy a vast quantity of pure wool. I crochet and knit with wool or blends for smaller makes, as I prefer to wear it rather than 100% acrylic. It would be way too expensive and too valuable for throwing about as an everyday blanket. Another brand of acrylic, or a wool blend would be good to try. Any recommendations would be welcome. Then I can go to wool shop to have a squish…
…when I’ve completed my ‘Finish everything and do not buy any more yarn’ mission, of course!
It’s been a really rotten month. I’ve been unwell from the 1st day of the month and am still taking it really gently. I’ve never been so poorly for so long. I haven’t been on antibiotics for years, or to the GP so many times in one period. I might count up how many painkillers I’ve taken, as it kind of interests my warped brain. Is that madly strange?
My microbiome must be grey like dead coral now.
In case you’re interested…
The gut microbiome plays a very important role in your health by helping control digestion and benefiting your immune system and many other aspects of health. Healthline.com
If you want to know more about gut health, then I recommend reading articles and books written by Tim Spector. I’m reading his Diet Myth book at the moment. He’s got a podcast and has guested on others’ too. Do a name search in your podcast provider library if you’re curious.
Aiming to eat a minimum of 30 different plants a week seems to be a good goal towards a healthy microbiome. Some weeks it’s far more I find. I’ve always enjoyed vegetables and eat lots more beans and lentils now. I’ve kept a tally of how many plants I eat each week. Sometimes written as a nerdy list, or I just keep it in mind. It’s quite gratifying.
These 30 plants include: fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes. I also include sourdough if I eat any of the bread I make as it’s a fermented yeast culture, and is really good for the gut.
A legume is a plant with a pod, with an edible seed, eg: beans, peas, lentils. I checked that a while back as I couldn’t remember the definition.
That was a completely unplanned segue into gut health. But I find it all very interesting.
Anyway, yesterday was my first day without antibiotics, taking any painkillers – yay yay yay! – or feeling like an old lady tottering about. But I’ve still got my old friend tinnitus visiting and am experiencing some balance issues. I’m hoping they’ll fade away soon.
To celebrate feeling more like myself I carefully cooked a sausage and bean casserole for dinner. Yesterday it felt like autumn for the first time. It had hammered with rain all day, and by the evening felt much cooler than it has for a while. The heating’s still not on, but I don’t think it will be long. Have you made the transition to more autumn comfort food yet? Is your heating on? Or, are you heading into spring where you are now?
I’ve got massses of links to add to a September Taking Stock post, since I’ve read lots of books and listened to some podcasts. Plus I’ve started a brand-new audiobook in the last few days, since I’ve been able to tolerate more noise.
I’m still not listening to music really, as the frequencies seem to be too much for now. So I’m ignoring Spotify’s appeals for me to come back for £9.99 for three months. I did jump at an Audible offer of 3 months membership for £3.99. I’ve been a member for 10 years on and off, and fancied trying their new package. Membership now includes unlimited free in-house podcasts and certain books. I wish this was a sponsored post. Hello Audible!?! Ha!
Instagram has been absolutely fabulous for company, distraction, inspiration and entertainment. I had to lie down for hour long periods every day and became addicted to watching people’s stories on there! Friends and contacts have been so kind, asking how I am and responding to my chatty comments. Social media can be so lovely. A real force for good.
The tomatoes are ripening. We have bowls of them in sunny (well, some days) windowsills around the house. They’re absolutely delicious! A little taste of summer in early autumn. Love the flavour of the little orange Sungolds. Will definitely grow those again.
I’m trying these hexagons. I’m undoing the granny square as I crochet them. I don’t need it for my Coast Blanket. The colourway just didn’t fit with the other shades particularly well.
I reckon the hexagons with the solid colour centres look better, less confusing, to the eye. So I’m trying to start them with lengths of the same colour, without wasting too much yarn.
You know when you feel unsure about how many things you’ve got on the go? I’ve sorted out my projects and have written a proper list. Organised dot com. Three is the magic number. I have three knits to finish. (One of them is the infamous sock. I’d love to finish it as I suspect I could become a very keen sock knitter, but it might never happen. Long time readers will know why…) I also have three crochet things on the go.
Also, there is a bag of various what-I’m-calling yarn doodles. Yarn doodling happens on days when I fancy just playing around, and may not necessarily end up being anything. Bet you’ve got them too? It’s all those odd motifs and scrappy playful bits of things that you then put down and don’t necessarily continue. I’m keeping them, since some of them could turn into scrappy blankets to gift, or give away to charities like Knit for Peace. The above hexagons are in that category so far.
And finally, I have to show you these lovely pics my friend sent:
I’ll be back with a Taking Stock soon.
Hope your September has been a good one, tell me what you’ve been up to? Especially what are you cooking and eating?
Walking with a friend today, it felt almost balmy outside at 8-9 degrees. Lovely! Signs of Spring are back in full force as you’ll see.
There were patches of snow alongside the roadsides, piled up on the verges and the boundaries of fields. There are deep patches despite the heavy rain that fell on Sunday. I had to smile when I parked my car and saw this on the village green:
When walking with my nieces on Sunday we spotted a similar stump in a front garden, but with 2 carrots, 4 buttons and twigs on the ground around it. I wish I’d taken a photo as it was just such a touching scene.
We popped into the pub after our walk and I found out that it was established in 1605. It was a coaching inn where the horses would be rested and fed, the passengers too no doubt. The arch led to the coach yard and stables. It is an age since I’ve been there, it’s nice and cosy inside. Much of this old village is gorgeous with the ironstone dwellings, wrought iron gates and some fantastic walled gardens.
After all that snow and minus temperatures it’s amazing to see the snowdrops again. Aren’t they resilient? I guess the clue is in the name. Can you see the pink and yellow flowers on the right? I think they’re primula.
My friend has heard Johnny Depp has a house here. I wondered if it’s this one? You can buy coach house no. 4 next door if you like?
Frankly I took this is for the Americans! I know thatched cottages are always popular.
B was trying to walk fast, keeping up our brisk pace, get the heart pumping etc and burn some calories (her multiple gins at the weekend were playing on her mind.) Her fitness app voice notifications were kicking in with how many kilometres we had walked, how fast our average pace per km etc but I kept stopping dead to whip out my iPhone. I can’t help it when I see witchy wintery trees with an ancient spire behind. I love the twigs lying on the top of the wall where they’ve fallen off.
As a side note; I’ve just googled ‘how old is ancient?’ It’s far older than this spire, so I’m going to have to repeat myself inanely and say it’s very old. When I say the pub is very old, established in 1605, Someone raises his eyebrows, as his school dates from around 1400. It’s all relative though isn’t it? In Australia I often saw signage about very old houses, only dating from 1970 something!
The pace was slowing again, but I was not guilty. The mud was so thick and squelchy along the footpath we considered turning back, but both quite like circular walks. I had to scrape my walking shoes against a tree trunk, to get the worst of the mud off when we came back into civilisation. They were almost comedy clown sized shoes, encircled with mud.
One final pic for you from today’s walk is something I’m used to seeing around, but maybe you’re not…
It’s a mounting block for horses. Do you see them where you are? Are they as old? (I’m debating retitling this whole post Really Old. It’s been totally over used after all.)
Do you want to see a cutie patooty?
Here is Winnie and her Wave Blanket. Isn’t she beautiful? I love the way she’s got her hand on the top of the milk bottle! She’s five months old now. Her Mum tells me she loves her blanket so much and uses it everyday in her pram, the car and her bouncer chair. Wherever they go people ask where it is from, it’s lovely knitting’ (sigh! / smirk.) It’s attracted a lot of attention.
Springlike temperatures, pretty wild flowers, beautiful old buildings and seeing Winnie using her Wave Blanket, there are some reasons to smile.
What’s making you smile at the mo? If you’re not feeling great, I hope things improve soon. Look after yourself.
And it’s done! I finished the little border on Saturday and feel really pleased with this wave blanket for a friend’s baby, Winnie. I wanted to make a big enough blanket for her to use when she’s a bit older; to be able to snuggle with her Mum on the sofa and so on.
The edging is perfect I think. It’s just the right size to frame the rest, without taking over in a ‘Look at me! Look at me!’ style.
The ‘wrong side’ above just to show you the back of the edging. The ‘right side’ is below. I do love the lines that you get when you crochet into the back loop of a stitch. I don’t think it matters which way up it is, as both look fine. This is a good thing as when Sophie’s only had a few hours sleep, I don’t think correctly placing a baby blanket is going to be a priority!
When I began this blanket in June (see this post) it was just to use up some leftover yarn and I didn’t have a specific plan in mind. I’m very glad it’s turned into Winnie’s Wave Blanket and going to someone I know, who is really grateful and looking forward to receiving it. And how considerate of Sophie to name her baby so well, so we can all enjoy a bit of alliteration! I’m really looking forward my visit on Thursday.
Stylecraft Special DK: 1. plum 2. grape 3. parchment 4. lavender 5. silver 6. stone 7. denim 8. sage 9. storm blue
My timer has just gone off, so I must away and put my oven on to bake a couple of loaves of bread. I will back with some wintery pictures tomorrow, as we’re between ankle and knee* deep in snow at the mo!
Last night I chose my border colours and sat down to start the tricky first row. I don’t think I want to crochet through the end posts again, yes it’s less gappy than working around, but it means you’re in danger of pushing out some of your darned ends. Phooey! It’s also damned tricky to do. That made me pack up my Hitchhiker knitting to take to Knit Group instead; as I didn’t think the light would be good enough to see, or the company would want to hear my groans and sighs.
I would very much like a drum-roll please while I complete the border, it seems only fair! This has taken me far longer to finish than adult sized 6’x4′ blankets. Warm summer days, where the last thing I wanted was a blanket on my lap and sweaty yarn in my hands, and a house move contributed to the slowness of the making, not that there has been any rush really. I’ll show it to you once more with all the details including the yarn colours when it’s finished, before it goes to little baby Winnie next week.
I really like this simple edging. As you probably know I don’t really go for ornate borders, I reckon it can just be too much on a patterned blanket. But conversely an unedged blanket is a rather sad object, with a raw, unfinished look. There is a happy medium, isn’t there?
So on to Knit Group; do you remember reading this this post? (Oh sigh, please let’s not have porridge-gate all over again, tee hee. I’m looking at you Vikki and Jill! Just whizz past the pictures and find the paragraph where I described what people were making…!) Teresa asked to see some pictures of what was being made and last night I asked if they minded me taking a few photos. It was a smaller group than usual, just a select four of us, but such an easy, relaxed night with lots of laughter.
First here’s A’s 4ply cream cotton bedspread in progress, it’s one her mother began and she’s finishing, along with other half finished items. There need to be 20 squares or so and I think she was given 12. Look at those criss-crossing stitches and the detail on the leaves. Isn’t it lovely? It looks impressively complicated to me.
A. also brought along this gorgeous crochet shawl that she’s made for one of her young daughters. Apparently the yarn was cheap stuff and on offer in the local wool shop, but it feels luxuriously soft. Privately I thought it would rather suit me when I wear my smart black woollen coat and could imagine shimmering into a carol service, but sadly it was popped into a bag on the floor across from me. No stealing. Rats!Next there’s J’s Lego Man Mitts for her husband. They’re so fun! Not that the process of making them both has been much fun, as I understand the other mitt came into contact with a small boy and a pair of scissors…. He was taken to the wool shop to choose more wool and had to ask ‘the lady’ for the correct sized new circulars (yes, they were snipped too) which he didn’t enjoy. Lesson learned hopefully. She found the little figures in the bottom of her knitting bag. They look quite cross about me wearing the mitt I think.And P’s is currently a tea-pot cosy making machine, I can’t say anything much about it (secret squirrel) but it is making me want to try crocodile stitch. I’ve never been particularly keen on the stitch, now I wonder if it was the items I’ve seen made with it. P makes everything look good. The other knitted cosy is sooo special that I’m not dwelling on it, as it makes me feel knitty-knotty inferior! Yes, she does have a drink problem.I posted a pic of my Hitchhiker scarf the other day on Instagram. Click on the pink camera on the sidebar if you want to see how it’s getting on. After Winnie’s Wave Blanket that’s the next thing I need to finish for Christmas, for my Mum. Then the world is my oyster. Anyone who types the words ‘sock’ or ‘garter stitch blanket’ will be blocked. I mean it!
I chose this book first for my cosy Christmas reading, it’s so lovely, absolutely perfect.
What about you: Have you done any crafting with friends lately? What are you making and reading? Managing to resist the early festive treats or giving in completely to mince pies, stollen, chocolates or …..?
Feel free to add a link in the comments, to share your own Yarning Along post showing what you’re making and reading.
Finally all the ends are darned and I can crochet the border! I can’t wait to visit little baby Winnie and give her this Wave Blanket.
It’s December 1st and so I’ve dug out my new-to-me books. I love reading Christmas fiction and a good friend passed on Coming Home for Christmas months ago. I think she’s got more for me too. I know she’s been looking out for them for ages, which is very sweet. I picked up The Little Christmas Kitchen in a charity shop months ago. Cosy reads for a cosy month. I’ve got several M.R James ghost storie anthologies on my Kindle, so will read some to balance out the gooeyness of the other books.
Talking of cosy; I’ve stocked up on Cadbury Drinking Chocolate and mini pink and white marshmallows too. I also bought a pack of All Butter Mince Pies yesterday. Well, you have to do these things right, and I’m not sure about icing sugar or frangipani topped pies. Isn’t that too much of a good thing?
What are you making, reading and eating at the mo? Go on, I’d love to know….
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.
Another washcloth finished. Yep, it’s the lettuce coloured one. A good stretch of ends have been darned on my Wave Blanket and I’m working on a second rectangle for a pink pot holder.
If you want to make one: ch 32, ch 1 then into 2nd ch on the hook *1 dc, 2 tr into 1 ch then miss 2 ch, repeat * to the last 3 stitches, miss 2, 1 dc into the last ch, ch 1 and turn. And so on. My first rectangle measures 6” x 6 3/4”. Dc both pieces tog, ch 2/3 at the corners, work 20 ch for a hanging loop in one corner.
My friend and her partner have bought a small narrowboat for weekends away. Being creative and quirky she fancies making curtains out of scarves, so after lunch on Saturday we went searching in a charity shop and found some really pretty silky scarves. She’s going to chop up and hem them to hang above the windows. They’ll give some privacy but will still let the light in. The overall look she’s going for on the boat is crafty with splashes of colour. I enjoyed hearing about the Mexican tiles in different shades of blue behind the little black wood burning stove and her plans for a pretty porcelain basin in the bathroom. Looking for scarves was the kind of treasure hunt I enjoy. I’m going to make a few things for them and thought a pot holder would be useful for picking the kettle up. I use my grey one every day, they’re so good when you have hot pan handles.
I’ve got really stuck into the audio version of A Year of Marvellous Ways and returned the printed book to the library. The author’s narration is spot on; I believe she’s an actress, which makes sense of her skill at accents and well paced delivery. In my experience most authors are dreadful at narrating their own books, but this one is a joy to hear.
I finished The Ballroom by Anna Hope, and felt it could have been great but it fell short. By the end it felt like something was lacking; either satisfactory character development or a proper end to Ella’s story, I’m not quite sure what.
And now I’ve got this motley selection of books to choose from…
What are you reading and making? Have you also got a pile of books by your bedside? And, tell me what you’re eating for lunch at the moment! I made this soup yesterday (with a red pepper as I’d run out of carrots.) It’s good.
If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday too, leave a link to your post 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.