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.

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.

West Cornwall


Walking part of the south-west coast path, taking numerous photos some in the same spots as last year and the year before: “But it’s so beautiful”, staring out to sea watching gulls drift slowly along the coastline, pasties and cake or an ice-cream for lunch, stopping for an afternoon pit-stop of cider and snacks, guessing how many steps we’ve walked; then checking the pedometer, planning which fish or seafood to buy for dinner, making G&T in slightly too small glasses, swigging the leftover tonic from the can, looking at the OS map and wondering what the weather will do, crocheting in bed in the morning while looking out to sea and listening to an Alan Bennett play….

Holiday.

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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Taking Stock in November

IMG_1835 Making : it much harder for the Damned Squirrel (as he is called) to eat tube after tube of peanuts bought for the birds. Don’t feel too sorry for him; he’s had all the hazelnuts from the tree too.

Cooking : porridge for breakfast.

Drinking : loose Ceylon tea in my new blue teapot (blue left, third row down shown in last month’s Taking post.)

Reading: The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman by Denis Thériault.

Writing: my own haiku, inspired by the above book, then realised it should be 5-7-5 not 5-5-7 syllables:

Lonely Wind Rustles

Needle Clicks Against

Another, Perfectly Timed

Wishing: I could be back in Broadstairs. Such a lovely day, before the arrival of the tail-end of hurricane Abigail on Friday.

Enjoying: walking by the sea.

Waiting: to finish darning in the ends of my blanket, before starting the border. It’s slow due to three weekends away in a row.

Liking: visiting the C Wool yarn shop again, in Broadstairs, and making a little purchase.

Wondering: what to make with the yarn I’ve bought in the last few months?

Loving: my bargain Rowan Scottish Tweed DK buy, (another day, another yarn shop!) until I started to crochet some Fidra Mitts and hated the wire-wool feel.

Wanting: to buy some loose Earl Grey tea.

Looking: at the lovely parcel of goodies I ordered from Dotcomgiftshop, after they sent me a voucher, because my blog was included in their Ten Creative Needlecraft Blogs list last month.

Garden birds tea-towel, 2 sets of rose pins, sticky notes, 5 glass bowls and lids, a flour shaker.

Playing: with my new yarn, trying another very clever fingerless mitt pattern. Hating the shape just after I’d sewn it up…

Deciding: to spend my (small) Euro lottery win on tickets for Tuesday’s mega rollover.

Pondering: why it is I’ve now spent years saying I’ll darn-as-I-go, but never, ever do…

Considering: what to make next..

Buying: NO MORE YARN!

Watching: I’m a Celeb tonight, it’s the only Reality TV programme I watch.

Hoping: it makes me laugh, I dislike the episodes where they are unkind to each other.

Marvelling: at how dark, how early it is now.

Cringing: at the terrible events on Friday night in Paris.

Needing: nothing right now.

Questioning: why? When? How? Will? As is my way. I wonder if I carry a question mark in the air above my head most days?
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Smelling: my Cath Kidson rose perfume.

Wearing: a big red zipped cardie I’ve had for years..

Following: many blogs and not making regular time to read them at the moment.

Noticing: sea salt on my car from the storm on Saturday night.

Knowing: I intend to go to the car wash, but really hoping it rains hard and washes it off.

Thinking: I’m going to continue writing Taking Stock posts around the 15th each month.

Admiring: people who stick to a blog routine, but knowing the above is as far as I will go.

Sorting: yarn into storage cubes.

Getting: ready to start thinking about Christmas present buying.

Bookmarking: fingerless mitt patterns.

Coveting: new fingerless mitts because they’re satisfying fast to make and good to wear.

Disliking: darning!

Opening: windows still, it’s so mild

Giggling: at Frasier (204 episodes recorded now.)

Feeling: extremely well.

Snacking: on a French Pink Lady apple earlier.

Helping: the birds, annoying the squirrel *evil laughter*.

Hearing: Scenes from an Italian Restaurant by Billy Joel.

If you’d like to write a Taking Stock post too, the list can be found on Pip’s marvellous Meet me at Mikes blog.

Yarndale 2015 (again!)

So, as I said yesterday Yarndale was a blast; a jolly happy day. And, that was that for another year. Until the next. No. No? Well, although I’d sensibly booked a Saturday ticket and my train tickets some weeks ahead, I woke early on the Sunday morning with a strong sense of ‘I have to go back’. This only increased as I scrolled through my Instagram feed and saw lots I hadn’t seen. No angora bunnies. No alpacas. Not enough yarn. And – oh my goodness – I’d come away with only one card, which is for someone’s birthday anyway. I’m not a huge shopper generally. I prefer to buy yarn for specific projects, but even by my standards this was pants.  As I was due to meet friends in Leeds for dinner, after they’d been to Yarndale, it seemed sensible to drive to Skipton this time and hope that I could park. Actually there was a marked difference on the Sunday; when I arrived there were plenty of spaces and much more room to move in the mart. This time I was focused, not so much chatting and more looking.
  This gorgeous make is called Like a Leaf on the Wind by Sharon Jane. It’s free on Ravelry, in case you want any inspiration for your Yarndale purchases or stash. It uses one skein of 4 ply (fingering weight) yarn and is definitely now on my long list of ‘things to make’.

  Ah! I found the rabbits. And had a stroke too.
  Isn’t this stunning? It’s by Jane Crowfoot.
    This is really for me because I’d love some, but you might fancy some gorgeous charcoal yarn in your life too?
  As I caught up with my friends from Leeds in the Knit and Knatter lounge, and Heather and I shared our yarn purchases, some sheep came trooping into the space! I think they’re going to be part of the puppet festival in Skipton, next month.
  Naturally they were followed by their sheep dog, who just would not stand still until I used my best “Stay! Stay dog! Stand still!” and s/he obeyed. Good dog!  And now faces to fall in love with…

  Just look at these two. This could be a Valentines Day card.  It felt a bit mean to swoon over the bunnies and alpacas, so I snapped this calm sheep and quietly thanked them all for giving us their wool.This one just blinked and sniffed the hay in an ‘you’re being embarrassing’ kind of way.  I sat outside in the warm sun admiring my shopping, after doing a final loop of the mart. By other people’s standards it’s not a huge pile of goodies, but plenty to make me smile, and keep me busy.

I’m so glad I went back for another day. Someone I overheard on Sunday said: “You need a day to peruse and a day to buy.” I need a day to chat and another day to see all I missed.

On Monday morning I sat up in bed knitting a few more rows of my second Hitchhker scarf, musing on all I’d seen and the wonderful people I’d met, already making plans for Yarndale 2016 (a hotel in Harrogate or Halifax or Skipton?) And then I headed off to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. And that was another good day.

Yarndale 2015

I came back from Yorkshire last night, after a fantastic 4 days there. I really love that part of the country! I’d booked a ticket to go to Yarndale on Saturday and felt really excited. I didn’t go last year but went to the first Yarndale 2013 and was interested to see how the festival might have developed.

When travelling to Skipton what really amused me was the sheer number of Cath Kidson bags on view on the train. There weren’t as many woolly items being worn as I see en route to the Knitting & Stitch Show every March; as we’re enjoying a late Summer at the moment. I love anything Cath Kidson and so loved seeing them all. There was such a party atmosphere on the Leeds – Skipton train, with everyone talking about crochet, knitting and yarny matters, that the conductor asked where everyone was off to? He said he was absolutely loving seeing people talking to each other, not staring at their phones!

  I caught one of the red double deckers from the station and this was the mandala hanging in the window. It was amusing to see people in town doing double takes as the bus passed by. I noticed a few taking photos of it too!

When I arrived at the auction mart at 1030 people were streaming in. There seemed to be many more exhibitors this year and it was more spaced out than in 2013, which was a good thing.
  Once again I went to Fiona of Marmalade Rose gorgeous stall, where she was showcasing her felted wool pictures. They are works of art. I bought one of her cards. She is so talented.
  Some of the fabulous bunting! I tried to spot the ones I’d made, but it’s a few years ago now and I’m not sure I’d recognise all of them. I’m pretty sure I saw one or two, but wouldn’t put a bet on it!
The stunning Flowers for Memories displays were a real WOW. Here are just two panels. They were sent from 22 countries according to Lucy. Incredible isn’t it?


  This is just a section of the auction mart, you can imagine how busy it became over the day. It was very good to go upstairs for a bird’s eye view of everything, and to take a few minutes out. There really were fantastic stalls; such a variety of goods on sale and really, really stunning displays. I don’t have any photos but keep an eye out for any of Eden Cottage Yarns since it was definitely one of the best. If not the best.

This year I’d decided I was not going to take any photos (ha ha, failed I think) so there aren’t masses of yarn porn pictures. I was too busy staring greedily at it all, and trying not to smoosh it too much. But if you look on Instagram and search for #Yarndale2015 you’ll see plenty to satisfy you.
  
  I chatted to people all day: said hello to bloggers I’ve long followed, fellow instagrammers, anyone who started to chat about yarn or craft related things and designers I admire. It was so good to finally meet Kat Goldin, though due to my rubbish sense of direction I kept passing her and Joanne Scrace‘s The Crochet Project stand; as I went around in circles, rather than up and down all the rows. By the end I must’ve looked like a deranged stalker.

Yarndale felt like one giant, fizzing, happy party. I loved it. But by mid-afternoon I felt completely overwhelmed and decided to head back to town, it had been great but I was ready for a quiet wander. I jumped off the Yarndale express in the town and spent a huge £1 on a wooden door wedge at the market. I explored some of the lovely little independent shops and then popped in to Cooper’s Cafe, on the way back to the train station, and headed upstairs to Lucy’s studio. I felt a bit of a stalker again (and heard another saying the same) but it didn’t stop me looking around and taking some photos to show you.

I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s take on this log cabin inspired blanket, the combination of colour possibilities is endless.

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So familiar from Lucy’s blog, it’s a treat to see them once again in ‘real life’.
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And there we are – my Yarndale experience. Or is it? Might there be more? Watch this space tomorrow…!

Taking Stock in September

IMG_1278IMG_1260Making : another star ripple blanket
Cooking : Dorset Apple cake with windfall apples from the garden, orange and ginger tea-loaf, pasta sauce with home-grown tomatoes and chillies, raspberry jam…

IMG_1154Drinking : nothing at the mo
Reading: Resistance is Futile by Jenny T. Colgan (85% through)
Wanting: to finish the book as the twee language is irritating meIMG_1267Looking: out at grey clouds and weak sunshine
Playing: solitaire games on my new lap top

IMG_1247Deciding: whether to finish another pot-holder, do the last section of my Hitchhiker shawlette, or re-edge my ripple, or make something new from cotton from my Hook, Yarn and Crochet book
Wishing: those 100+ baby cashmerino blocks from my long ago CAL would organise themselves into a blanket
Enjoying: using up oddments of yarn on the star ripple blanket

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Waiting: for a yarn delivery, I’ve run out of pink mid-way round the last row (not really the point of stash bushing makes, I know!)
Liking: that I could use a little of my birthday voucher for the order, thanks my friend

IMG_0763Wondering: if it’s silly to try to sell on Etsy, there are SO MANY similar items listed. But none made by me…
Loving: thinking about what to cook with home-grown produce from here and family: apples, carrots, courgettes, garlic, onions, chillies, tomatoes, peppers
Pondering: Life and the Universe
Considering: buying a lottery ticket for the Euro millions draw tomorrow
Buying: capers so I can make putanesca with more of the tomato glut
Watching: Girl Meets Boy, we’re giving it one more episode.. It feels like an attempt to educate and teach people how to think, rather than a good comedy which it promised to be in the first episodeIMG_1272Hoping: for late summer weather again tomorrow
Marvelling: at the number of sparrow fights on the bird feeder
Cringing: at the way the house sparrows are ganging up against the tree sparrow (4:1)
Needing: a long walk
Questioning: what will happen long-term in SyriaIMG_1131Smelling: smoke, some plonker is polluting the air with a huge bonfire
Wearing: comfy home clothes
Following: no one new blogwise. I’ve been seduced by IG but really enjoy catching up with my fave bloggers
Noticing: how much more enjoyable it is to read people’s stories and hear their voice in writing, then the quick fix of a stream of photos
Knowing: I need to go and drink my peppermint tea.IMG_1148Thinking: I’m really thirsty
Admiring: People who have their own sense of style
Sorting: more stuff to go to the charity shops
Getting: organised
Bookmarking: recipes for seasonal produce
Coveting: a winning lottery ticket
Disliking: lock down because I closed every window in the house because the house is getting kipperedIMG_1055Opening: windows again soon, I hope!
Giggling: over silly vids people post on FB
Feeling: thirsty *getting up to go and drink that cold peppermint tea*
Snacking: on raw carrots…shortly
Helping: others by taking some of their glut and then passing on slices of cake etc
Hearing: the wind now whistling outside

Thanks to Pip for the list, it’s fun to play again. If you join in too let me in the comments below. I’d like to read yours.

So, what happened to the trout?

Whenever I’ve mentioned rainbow trout from time to time, Cathy of NanaCathydotcom has basically said “Mmmmm.” I’ve always kept this in mind, should we ever pass within a decent distance of each other. The funny thing is that three weeks ago we did, in a market town in Wiltshire, though we didn’t know it at the time.

As we are currently in the same county I emailed Cathy and suggested we meet in Scarborough for coffee and Operation Trout.  You know when someone rings you and you find yourself instantly thinking “Oh, I like the sound of her!” Well that was exactly it.

We met at the top of the multi-storey car park, probably looking slightly suspicious as we transferred a wrapped parcel from one cold bag into another, then we all went to Bonnets cafe for coffee and a good chat. It was fun to recognise Mr E’s hand knitted jumper, this must be  is a nerdy blogger thing.

After a bit the guys went off to do their own thing and we headed to the market to peruse the button stall and to Boyes, a local chain of department stores. I’ve always got my dishcloth cotton from Boyes, they also sell quite a good choice of wool blends and acrylics. It’s not top end yarn, but there’s always a ball or two you fancy...

IMG_5160I need the Walnut for the motif blanket and the Claret is just gorgeous, the shade is deeper and yummier than it looks here. The cotton is a present.

Later the Mister and I had a good walk along the beach, then bought a dozen crevettes from the quayside fishmongers to take home for dinner. And that was another good day.

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Ummm I’ve *cough cough* bought some more yarn from the Bridlington Boyes today, with the last of my lottery winnings. It’s for a hat for my friend. I might as well just show you now and then we can all go back to pretending I’m still on a yarn diet.

Designer Yarn Play

Near the end of May I received an email from Black Sheep Wools asking if I would like to review some new designer yarn. Well of course the answer was yes! Who isn’t going to want to try brand new designer yarn, for free? Then I was told I’d need to complete a non-disclosure agreement, I was not to tell anyone about the yarn or even that I was to be doing a review. How secret squirrel was that?! I’ve been sent yarn and other products before from various companies and have never seen a disclosure form. I admit that I felt quite excited and started to look around for crochet patterns; this would be the time to start on my first crochet garment, no more blankets, hats or scarves for me, this was obviously going to be a lovely big bale of yarn, suitable for a cardie, jumper or huge wrap, otherwise why all the secrecy and legally binding paperwork?

At the beginning of June a little parcel was popped through my letterbox, just as I was heading out. Oh…
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I’d obviously been very convinced and convincing about the quantity of yarn due to arrive, as Someone said “Is that it?!” “Mmmmm, yes it seems to be.”

Shortly after that an email came full of guidelines for the blog post; must be no shorter than xxx words, must contain no more than 4 links to the website, but should include one to x and x and x, the review must contain both positives and negatives, though obviously more positives than negatives, an original design could be submitted to the company website and would be appreciated, along with the blog post etc, etc, etc…

I may be about to fail short of some of these guidelines but this is my space, I have used the yarn and will tell you as many details about it as I can, given the quantity. The moral of the story is that sometimes bloggers get free things to play and have fun with, other times freebies come with expectations. Be prepared. But Black Sheep Wools seem like a good company and obviously have very discerning tastes in craft bloggers (the need for a winking smiley feels strong here, but I will not break my no emoticons in a post rule) also I can’t imagine ever writing a ‘review’ which wasn’t honest. If you want an honest opinion I’m your girl.

I’ve never used any Louisa Harding yarns before so this was a new experience.

Here goes…

Yarn details:

Louisa Harding – Esquel
60% merino, 20% llama, 20% silk
50g ball, 106 yards (97 mts)
Suggested neeedles: US 8 (5mm)
Suggested tension 18 sts x 24 rows

This lovely yarn feels quite soft but also due to its thickness of the strand (and the silk?) it’s strong. The band doesn’t say, but I think it’s aran as it needs 5mm needles and is thicker than other designer DK yarns I’ve used. I decided to make more fingerless mitts as it seemed just the right amount of yarn for a pair. I’m going to give these away as a present.

I used much smaller needles than the recommended 5mm, but the resulting fabric is thick and makes warm mitts.

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Although it’s really annoying it seems that it’s sometimes inevitable that wool yarns have knots in them. This is one disadvantage to using woolen blends, unlike acrylics which rarely have this problem, but most synthetic fibres do not have the quality feel of yarn like this. Unlike a ball of baby cashermino I once used which once had 4 or 5 knots in one 50g ball, this ball of Esquel had only the one. I decided to cut the yarn and start the cuff again, the fewer darned ends in a pair of mitts which will see plenty of wear and tear, the better.

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Lots of gratuitous tomato pics today I’m afraid, in my search for better light they seemed as good a backdrop as any. It’s great to come home after a hol to 8 plants groaning with ripe and nearly ripe red and yellows! Sorry – back to the yarn…

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I would recommend Esquel, because it comes in such lovely colours, the feel of the knitted material is fairly soft and also seems as if it will be hard-wearing and warm. I bet a knitted, or crocheted, jumper would be super toasty in the winter.

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If you’d like to check out Louisa Harding’s Esquel in Black Sheep Wool’s online yarn shop it’s currently £5.35 a ball.
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As I photographed the mitts outside on my emergency-stepladder-storm-resistant-stand-up-tomato-plants-please-don’t-fall-over-device look at what I saw…I’ve grown a rabbit!

Here endeth the review. A Manhattan is waiting for me on the other side. Happy cocktail hour weekend everyone!

Snapshot II

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Wondering if embroidery in hoops displayed on the wall is much cooler than on tea towels? I somehow doubt cool and embroidery are two words that have ever gone together. I don’t really care. I especially enjoy embroidering something which has a practical purpose. I need more tea towels – I’ve got more ideas. The glasses were from one of my Sublime Stitches transfers books, the writing is mine, scruffy and all.

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Harvesting strawberries! So yummy and surprisingly the birds haven’t gone for them. The other day a squirrel was spotted in a friend’s garden picking their strawbs, holding them gently in both his paws and nibbling away!

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Loving the scent wafting up from my pot as I come in and out of the front door, waiting for the apple blossom geranium I chose as a tiny plug plant months ago, to reveal its flowers.

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Opening a free copy of Garden Illustrated to my best page first! I’ve said:”Really sheds are so expensive but just think; when you move you just roll this onto the back of a truck and take it with you!” to raised eye brows.

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Carrying my blanket yarn in a completely coordinating bag. This was a coincidence but made me smile when I realised. The motifs are now joined in one long strip of about 180cm, this is the length of the blanket. I’m halfway along the second row now. Zippidy do dah.
Reading The Lieutenant by Kate Grenville, only to p.5 so far but it’s going to be a cracker. I read the first of the trilogy The Secret River in Australia one visit.
Not missing resting my injured leg. I’ve washed laundry, hung it out, hand washed my car, washed up, baked 2 loaves of bread, cooked dinner, cleaned walls, hoovered, cleaned the filters, folded laundry and tidied it away, watered all the plants, emptied the bins, cleaned bins, re-potted plants, rearranged outside pots, ironed (the tea towel above ha ha strenuous!) driven – once so far, yesterday, but it was fine with an old lady tubi-grip, food shopped, collected a library book, am walking downstairs nearly normally again. It’s good to be busier again.

How about you, what are you up?

Snapshot

This morning I read this blog post on one of my favourite blogs. Look at the clarity of those photographs! Doesn’t it make you want to run out into the garden with a packet of seeds? Sew some leaves? Tie something up in twine? Actually my little seedlings have grown like crazy and I need to hobble down to the sweetpeas and tie them gently to the wigwam of poles. They’re getting a little over enthusiastic.

SEWING: Embroidery is the perfect thing to do when you’re not moving around. It’s been ages since I did any and it’s been lovely. The light is so good when I’m sat on the bed upstairs near the window, far better than downstairs actually.

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LOVING: I signed up for Netflix and Amazon Prime free trials for a month so I could occupy myself over the weekend. It’s worked well watching things on my ipad. I absolutely loved a film called Sweet Land. If you haven’t seen it – you must. Others I’ve enjoyed seeing again during my film festival: The Lake House, Mamma Mia, The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood. TV: The Inbetweeners, The IT Crowd.
I’m really really tempted to hire How to Make an American Quilt but it’s annoying to pay when it should (by my decree) be available on the above trials.

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MARVELLING: That the cravings for chocolate can be satisfied just by leaving a piece of Green & Black Mayan Gold to melt on your tongue. Mmmmm. Rachel’s marvellous medicine.

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WAITING: For my leg to heal and feel stronger so I can become my usual active self again. I’m hoping to go for days out over the weekend to catch up on what I’ve missed. Meanwhile this L’Occitane hand cream is helping to lift the spirits as the smell is divine. Whenever I feel down I’ve always used scents and colours to cheer me up. Lavender works well for me, as does wearing red.

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MISSING: Walking around and being outside, but I have a lovely breeze coming in through the window and a super view of swaying leaves, blue sky and fluffy white clouds. I moved around a little too much yesterday, as my man servant was working away for the day, so am trying to rest my leg more and use a cold pack regularly today. I think the muscle’s healing well, but it’s slow. Trying not to think of all my missed plans at the weekend and this week. The ironic thing is I had to reschedule my GP appointment for my physio referral for my elbow ….because I couldn’t walk! It’s a little bit funny.

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WONDERING: If now is the time to continue embroidering this IKEA cushion? It could be crazy colourful. It’s good practise for my rusty embroidery skills too. If you search this blog you’ll see when I first had the idea and will notice I didn’t get very far with the plan…

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OPENING: A big parcel of yarn which arrived as I started to write this post!

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CROCHETING: I will be using this lovely lot to crochet a blanket, as requested, for a room in a relative’s house. It has curtains made with a William Morris design and so the colour choices have been picked to coordinate with them. I think they’re going to work well together.

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LOOKING: well, the plan was to watch something on my ipad and embroider, then the yarn arrived. Decisions, decisions!

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I loved your links and comments, THANK YOU. I need more please! Well, why wouldn’t I ask again when you’re so good at it? *charming smile*

Really nice shopping

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Supermarket, butchers and fabric shop… I know which was more fun by far!

I’ve bought a few metres of each fabric for my next make. I’m planning to work through my Cath Kidson Sew! book as I like 99.9% of the makes. Of course it might be saved for the next girl’s sewing day as my friend and I have discussed making a different bag every time we get together . You can never have too many bags, right?

On the crochet front I’m still working my way through hooking up mini bunting as a commission from my local shop.

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What crafty items have you bought lately?

Commissioned

Look at this lovely lot of colours…

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I’ve been asked to make some crochet samples to put in my local shop, around their new yarns as samples for customers and perhaps provide a little colour inspiration.

I have to say that my mind is spinning with possibilities: flowers, perhaps crocheted together hanging down on the shelves, a little seasonal family of hedgehogs? Some mini bunting….?

I’ve been offered some money per hour for the crochet, and a completely free rein to make whatever I want. But when you get an exuberantly warm welcome, enjoy a friendly chat with both the Mr & Mrs and always leave smiling how can you charge for doing a favour, especially when it’s something you love?

Oh and they’ve gratefully received rainbow trout on several occasions which really puts them high in my estimation. (You really can have enough trout.)

No more chatting….I’m off to create.

Jewellery workshop

Last month a friend booked us both on a jewellery workshop with Stones of Isis in South London. She’d seen a Groupon offer for a beginners class for 3 hours at £22 each, it’s very good value and if that deal is still available I’d recommend you book if you can. We went to The Old Biscuit Factory in Bermondsey (spell check wants to change this to ‘spider monkey’ ha ha!) on Saturday. Gok Wan uses a studio there to photograph his collections apparently – there’s a random fact for you.
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I’ve never made any jewellery before, unless threading painted pasta on string counts?
You can see how my attempts improved, though there’s still a long way to go.

So, in a nutshell this is what the equipment’s called and how you make a rosary bracelet Oops, I realise I can’t name the equipment with confidence at all! I need to check the pdf that’s promised to all who attended the workshop.

20130922-161055.jpgIt’s fun, time flies and you realise how very slow you’ve been when you’re racing to complete the earrings by the end of the workshop. A slight downside is that your thumb and finger of your other hand throb by the end of the session, your dominant hand is holding the pliers and fares much better. I expect you toughen up after more sessions, or adjust your technique and this isn’t an issue as there’s no condition, as far as I know, called jeweller’s thumb…

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This is the work of the graphic designer who sat opposite, we both loved her colour choices, repeating pattern and neat work. She insisted she’s never made any jewellery before and we veered between envy at her talent and thinking she couldn’t be new to it at all because it looks so good. Her pearlyish beads on the floating bracelet inspired me to add two to the end of mine.

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Sandwiches, tea, biscuits and cake were provided but to be honest I think we were mostly all too busy to stop and eat much.
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Here are my finished items. As Bola and Mary, the teachers and owners, said you can spend a fortune in Accessorize on similar bracelets. I don’t wear necklaces but have a huge bowl of bracelets so making my own really appeals but I’ll probably need to arrange a follow-up crafting session with my friend Sarah who creates the most lovely jewellery, for a bit of a refresher.

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Next we crossed the river and went to north London to Islington. There’s no way you can really go there without a little visit to Loop. After my recent thoughts about Noro wool feeling too scratchy we discovered they make an absolutely gorgeous variegated cotton. I was soooo tempted to buy some but first need to finish my Rowan and Planet Penny cotton.
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I have a giftcard to spend at John Lewis sometime, plus I’m busy using my Black Sheep Wools haul so didn’t buy anything. It was hard not to buy a ball of each colour combo of that Noro cotton, but I stuffed my hands in my pockets.

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Lush yarn isn’t it? I believe you can just tell looking at these photos. Some is £20 and upwards for a skein, so I’d definitely need to feel more confident about my knitting before I bought enough for a garment.

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Seeing stacks of beautiful yarn is really like heroin for crocheters and knitters isn’t it? OR, is that just me?!

The best kind of delivery

First thing this morning the parcel of yarn which I ordered with my Black Sheep Wools Blogger of the Month gift card arrived. This is, as I’m sure you know, one of the best kinds of parcels.

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You start to imagine all the things you’re going to make…

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You’re so impatient to dive in hands first and have a good rummage in the bags, but if you’re a blogging monkey you’re on go-slow while you grab your camera…
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Ordering new brands of yarn online is rather a gamble as you just don’t know whether you’ll like the feel, or if the shade will be as quite represented on the website. I’m really happy with all my choices.

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I try to be canny shopper and so chose yarns that were all on sale to get as many as I could for the value of my gift card. I did very well. Thank you Black Sheep Wools! I’m still really pleased about the award and the generosity of the gift card.

They are all wool blends and various weights: 4 ply, dk and chunky. I chose two patterns first and bought specific yarns for the items. The colour mix of the Trentino drew me, I’m not sure what I’ll make with this yet.

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The pinky yarn above will be the first time I’ve crocheted with 4 ply. I’ve only ever used baby cashmerino thickness, dk, chunky and aran only once – as you’ll know from my recent washcloth post.

All three thankfully feel nice and soft. It’s always a gamble with wool, though less so with blends. I know it’s probably not cool to say this, but I really don’t like the feel of Noro. Granted it comes in spectacular colours but the crocheted and knitted garments I’ve felt are way too scratchy to consider wearing next to my skin. Natasha in Fibreworks, Oxford said it does become softer with washing, but I’m still not convinced enough to spend time crocheting or knitting with it and then not wanting to wear the item. Have you used Noro? What do you reckon?

It kind of surprises me that there are so many self confessed ‘wool snobs’ around. Surely it depends what you’re making? There are different horses for different courses aren’t there? A beautiful baby cashmerino baby jumper might be a very lovely present, but if it’s to be only washed by hand with a special wool wash and dried flat, then one in Stylecraft might be more appreciated for its throw it-in-the-washing-machine-peg-on-the-line qualities.

I have a post in the pipeline showing what I’ve been making recently, but the exciting delivery eclipsed that so I’ll show you another day, soon. It’s cool this afternoon, we’ve done a very swift 3 mile walk, had a substantial lunch and now the sofa, chunky yarn and 6mm needles are calling. Loudly!

What are you making at the mo? Have you bought anything exciting yarnwise?

Food & Fabric

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Today we had a magnificent lunch at The Crooked Billet, Newton Longville, Bucks. I was tempted to photograph all of our four courses but decided to restrain myself and just took the puds. But oh! the food, combined with speedy but unobtrusive service in an oldy woldy village pub. Gorgeous. I highly recommend you visit if you’re able.

I’d be wondering what it was you ate at this point, so if there’s anyone really nosy like me:

  • Pan Fried Scallops, Chimney Smoked Crispy Bacon, Deep Fried Shallots, Pea Puree
  • Duck Breast, Duck Sausage, Crisp Confit Duck Leg, Fried Duck Egg & Pan Fried Duck Liver, Spinach & Quince, Potatoes & Onions en Cocotte
  • Warm Carrot Cake, Orange & Carrot Puree, Butter Icing

Oh mama the food was good. The other three had completely different choices, so between us all we sampled a fair part of the menu.
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The text above the fire reads: ‘Wine is the visible proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.’ Amen to that.

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The fantastic cheese selection.  The one oozing all over the slate is a Corsican cheese, it was herby and delicious. That was the eater’s overall favourite from his choice of six.

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This hasn’t completely morphed into a food porn blog, so here’s the craft bit…

After lunch we waddled to our cars and popped to Threads and Patches in Fenny Stratford.  The Jammy Dodger was warned by one familiar with the shop that the guys might prefer to chill in a nearby canal side pub, but he came in and ended up talking about, what I call, boy-craft with the owner. It’s actually a good suggestion he made; if craft shops sold fly fishing materials they would see an increase in male shoppers.  Do you remember when he reused my yarn scraps? 

He’s caught 9 rainbow trout in the last week. Family and friends, plus one of the neighbours are very happy. The village shop-keeper has set up a bartering system with the JD:  a trout for a very good quality, expensive artisan loaf of sour dough. Suits me.

After watching all 4 episodes of The Great British Sewing Bee I’m resolved to refresh my dress-making skills. Just look at all this fabric, it’s a tiny taste of what T&P sell…

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Preety.20130424-185225.jpgThe spotty section.20130424-185232.jpg20130424-185219.jpg

I could see myself in a skirt made of the second fabric. Anyone fancy offering free sewing lessons in return for homemade cakes, scones or bread?!

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20130424-185248.jpgThere’s an upstairs room with a selection of yarn and haberdashery, plus a few light and airy rooms used for workshops. The above is for two bloggers with whom I’ve been exchanging some *!?*^&%$ type messages about a forthcoming ‘thing’. I can’t even bring myself to link to it because we might start a little rant on the comments form below! I also don’t want to alienate the p-p lovers amongst you. *Pressing lips tightly together*.

There’s also a small yarn shop in Fenny Stratford which I  naturally needed to dive into briefly. The JD waited outside to the amusement of the mechanic next door who shouted; “Your missus in the wool shop is she???!” He ought to set up a beer stand, he’d make a fortune!

How’s your week going? Talk to me.

Crochet OFSTED?

I’ve undone and re-crocheted block #1 (of the Stylecraft practice set) because I had a message yesterday saying that the reason it was smaller in size than the babycashmerino block was it had 12 rows in the first half, as opposed to -the correct- 13. Oops! Once I know there’s a mistake or something wrong, it will bug and bug me until I have to do something about it.

The funny thing is that the new and improved block is the same size as the version before, and still the same (smaller!) compared to the other DBBC block. I think it’s due to the fact that although the yarns are both DK one is definitely thinner and more wiggly than the other, plus I’m using a 4mm hook with the babycashmerino, versus a 3.5 mm hook for the acrylic. I’m honestly not at all worried about the differing sizes and I wouldn’t mix the two types of blocks anyway; it would be like using margarine and butter in the same sandwich. ;-)

Oh well, maybe I will get a ‘satisfactory’ rating from The School of Crochet OFSTED team but I don’t care. This is a fun project to practise and improve my skills, while learning new techniques.

Sorry for writing the most boring blog post ever! Xx

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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!

Crafty treats & birthday presents

>A wander around a new craft superstore20120816-160103.jpg

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20120816-160121.jpg> This is a little different but each to their own! It’s probably more comfortable than being carried in a little handbag…20120816-160134.jpg> A few treats 20120816-160141.jpg> A surprise in the post. But this was a disappointment for the one who collected it from the post office and thought he’d won a fishing reel in a competition! The look was priceless when it turned out to be a subscriber gift from Mollie Makes magazine.  So, I get the magazine for a year of birthday present that keeps on giving, and the Amy Butler fabric! Win, win.

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>Stopping to admire my doorstep20120816-160318.jpg> Greek salad for lunch, not craft or a birthday present but a very tasty meal sitting in the sun listening the Best of David Bowie…..Let’s Dance! We could be Heroes….Little China Girl…..Fashion!….Ashes to Ashes…..20120816-160326.jpg> Trying out one of last week’s birthday pressies – my new slow cooker. I had to use pliers to turn the knob round on my last one and like this red model very much. I’m cooking Malaysian beef and aubergine curry for dinner (smelling good!)

The recipe’s from Ultimate Slow Cooker by Sara Lewis if you fancy trying it.20120816-160332.jpg

iknit London

iknit London

iknit on Lower Marsh street, Waterloo, London is one of my favourite yarn shops to pop into when I’m in the area. Come out of Waterloo underground station onto Waterloo road, turn right and walk along to the cheap bookshop on the corner. They sell a huge variety of books, including a nice shelf-full of craft books. Then walk along to iknit on Lower Marsh street for a browse, knit/crochet and shop. I recommend The Camel and Artichoke pub afterwards. It’s just 2 minutes along the street. Buy a drink, order something to eat (recommend: the steak & onion baguette, chilli/cheese nachos/The Big Ben burger – if very hungry!) and go upstairs to hopefully bagsie one of the ultra comfy squashy leather sofas. Browse the Bookcrossing.com bookshelf for a free book or two. All this will keep you happy for an hour or two or…..

Pros: iknit London sell a large selection of wool/yarn in a variety of prices, brands and types. There are some sample pieces knitted up to give you an idea of the texture, thickness and general project inspiration.

Apart from wool/yarn there is an extensive library of books to browse and buy, a rack of knitting and crochet magazines, haberdashery and little gifts, including cards and toys.

iknit London offer classes and have regular knitting group meetings, although I haven’t attended any….yet. They are licensed to serve alcohol so i imagine some of the gatherings get fairly jolly!

You are welcome to take your current project into the shop and work on it while resting on the sofa for a while.

Cons: Be prepared to share the sofa with a very small dog, the kind you might see a celeb carry around in a handbag!

An urge to knit

I haven’t knit anything since the purple and green scarves I made last winter, but I’ve had such an urge to pick up the knitting sticks that I’ve started a little project.

The pattern is in issue 41 of Let’s Get Crafting magazine. It looks like a simple rib but it’s a bit more interesting to knit than that; it’s fisherman’s rib and you go into the space below the stitch for the knit part of the rib. It’s a knit one below (k1b) stitch and makes a very ‘springy’ fabric.

I’ve never used bamboo needles before and it makes me think that if I was stranded with wool and only a pair of japanese chopsticks (pointier ends than their Chinese counterparts) then I could knit up a scarf…

I don’t actually own an ereader, I’m an old fashioned paper and ink sort of girl. I’ll have to offer the finished item to someone who does.

I prefer the green in the magazine but I used it all on the summer flower garland, so I’ve used the other green in the pack. Not so nice but the Stylecraft DK I have isn’t as thick, even though both are technically DK.

I have to admit that this superb little fruity item might have inspired my urge to knit. Have a look if you haven’t ever seen Meredith’s One Sheepish Girl blog.

Saltburn, North Yorkshire

It seems ages since I last posted. Life has been very busy, but the fun kind of busy. No work!

I really wanted to post my pictures of the Olympic yarn bombing since they show the amazing knitting in detail. To be honest when we went to Saltburn (my first ever visit) I had forgotten that was where it was, and to I suppose if I had remembered I would have imagined none of was still there. During the time we walked from one end of the pier to the other the caneoist had been taken…I wonder how much is left a week and a half on?

I have many photos to share; you might want to make a cup of tea or a G&T!

Aren’t they amazing? Sooo much work and skill went into making this collection. Now you can see why I just found it hard to select a couple!

After lots of looking, exclaiming and photographing we went for a long walk and found more of this for my collection….

I really thought there might be a message in it. S thought the message was “…buy more whisky!”

…he stayed on for a while after this, it was impressive.

I have pictures from Scarborough and Whitby, and then there’s trip #2 which was Dublin, that was a really, really good week. Suffice to say I slept for 9.5 hrs when I came home after all the shenanigans!

BUT I’ll probably get back to the crochet focus soon instead. :-)

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.

Sunny Days

I’ve been taking advantage of the beautiful weather we’ve been having lately.

I even had to move into some shade, it became so hot!

And ironically I’ve finished the chunky seashell scarf! I’m sure I’ll need to use it soon enough though…

Details:

Pattern is from Nicki Trench: Cute & Easy Crochet (see books link on sidebar >>>>)

James C. Brett Marble Chunky acrylic yarn

Used 245g (Balls are 200g 341yards/312m each)

9″ wide

67″ long

Made 26 ch (inc turning chn) for 4 seashells width

54 seashells in length

6mm hook

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I’ve also made a few more of these…

Part of me sometimes wonders if crocheted jar covers are a 21st C) version of the 20th C) poodle bottle covers and Barbie doll dress toilet roll holders?! But I have an idea for another one so I’m carrying on crocheting.

I made this with Planet Penny Cotton and am really happy with the colours. It’s my Peach Melba jar cover.

It’s good to see that these little blankets are being put to good use!

Foiled by dtr…

I didn’t exactly plan to but yesterday I ended up wandering somewhere I hadn’t been for quite a while, after tootling along in my little car glancing at lush green fields and daffodils opening on the roadside verges. When I got to a quaint market town about 15 miles from here I made a beeline for the posh yarn shop, but got distracted by a kind of ‘everything you could want and plenty you don’t need’ shop. This is where lots of items are priced at £1-1.99 and you get lured in by the cheap, cheap prices then end up spending at least £10.00.

That might have been me….

BUT in my defence I have been wanting to make this scarf from the Cute and Easy Crochet book (see link in the sidebar) and it’s rapidly becoming Spring. So obviously I need to crochet it quickly, and for that I need yarn. (Still surpressing a shudder, but again I can’t in all honesty call it wool. It’s 100% man/woman made…)

I think it will be lovely in pink. Debbie Bliss Como isn’t made anymore and this pink marble chunky is 200g for £4.99. Of course I didn’t plan to end up in the market town or the ‘everything you could want and plenty you don’t need’ shop or buying yarn. So wasn’t sure how much the pattern called for. I bought two just in case, you understand?

Umm and also a ball of this….

…for an Easter thingy or two I’m planning to make.

Last night when I tried to start the scarf I found that Como is/was obviously even chunkier than chunky; so had to work out doubling the initial chain and pattern as it should have been about 10″ wide and mine was 5″!

The next pit-fall was dtr, what’s hard about trebles?

Nothing. I can confidently say.

But double trebles are a nightmare!

I had thought I’d progressed to intermediate, rather than a beginner crocheter – but oh my goodness those double trebly things have finished me off!

The 2yo thingy ended up all twirly around the hook; that’s when I could get 2 yos without one slipping off altogether!

I have asked about this dtr thingy on Ravelry and see I’ve helpfully been given some links to online videos.

Watch this space for progress…..

Aren’t these violas lovely? Such happy little faces when I return home. There are tulips coming up in amongst them and they were a complete surprise.  I’m waiting to see what colour they are, when they open.

Have a nice evening/day/ now I’m off to see The Woman in Black at the cinema with friends. The book scared me, the play scared me, maybe I’ll be brave for the film?!

:-)

Alternative Granny

I saw this blog post and absolutely loved it…. I especially like seeing the edges. I love the little Vs on the edge of crochet! I really do!

When I tried using Jan Eaton’s target square pattern in her book I came a cropper with the 7 ch bit, the square was a wibbly mess. (Practise makes perfect and all that, but the * and ** and repeats instructions for this square are really confusing to a bear with little brain like me.)

I saw this pattern on CrochetQueen’s blog.

Then I tried to crochet my own AG square using the pattern, but got really confused; mostly about what to do with the 5 ch. There were holes where there weren’t meant to be holes!

I wailed to CrochetQueen that I needed help. She added some tutorial pics to her pattern in about a day. What a star!

How helpful is that?

The generosity of other bloggers in giving patterns, advice and free tutorials is very much appreciated. Maybe one day when I’m more proficient I can do the same? It would be nice to pass it on….

So anyway, using CrochetQueen’s pattern and photo tutorial here’s what I’ve come up with so far…

I know I’ve basically posted the same photograph again and again and again, but I do LOVE those edges!

I used a 3.5 mm hook because I’ve realised my tension on granny squares is always a bit loose and they looked too wibbly using a 4mm.

The yarn is Stylecraft Special DK from my pack bought from here.

While I waited for these photos to load I’ve had a think about trying a slight variation on the number of trebles in each round. I’m going to have a little play again later.

Yesterday afternoon I looked out of the window to this, they really make me smile….

Can you see it? :-)

Brightness!

It’s growing very fast, I find that I can’t do fewer than 2 stripes at a sitting, even if time is pressing and I need to do just half a row….addictive or what?!

I think the next bit is going to go into bluey greens and I’ll try the yacky green out too; but if it fails the audition it’s OUT!

I’m enjoying the trebling but wanted to try something new. I find that I can’t just concentrate on one project, I have to try a few alongside each other. It’s like me and books. I usually have a poem anthology, a non-fiction, a fiction and maybe something else I’m dipping in and out of. Variety is the spice of life, and all that. :-)

I’m using Nicki Trench’s pattern for the wave cushion (see link at the side for the book.) I suspect this is what everyone else is calling ripple pattern. It’s great. I enjoyed it last night, but if you’re wondering why I stopped in the middle…there was a bombshell in the middle of Roger and Val have just got in that required me to stop! and talk! Then it was time for bed Zebedee…

If, unlike me, you’re a crochet expert and notice a flaw in my waves tell me please. Gently!

PS: Sorry that the pics are a bit fuzzy but I wanted to show you how I’m getting on. The flash had to do the job as the sun is in bed now, and it’s never as good as natural sunlight.

Sunny morning hooky

Lovely bright morning for a bit of hooky.

I’m experimenting with this word hooky; it does have overtones of dodgyness to my sweet innocent mind. Hooky though seems to be what the happening crochet kids on the block are saying, so if I wanna be kool I’ll give it a whirl…

The plan was to make wristwarmers now I’ve got the yarnalicious stash, but then I began wondering if I really, really wanted to wear rainbow coloured wristwarmers when I’ve got around four pairs of gloves already.

Let’s get Crafting magazine did a twitter poll the other day asking their “Question of the Week: do you still buy #knitted & #crocheted garments from shops or do you prefer to make everything yourself? #craft

…and my reply was:  “I’m not that talented and actually some machine made knitted items look far better than handmade. #honestopinion” and that really is how I feel about lots of home-made do-dahs.

Controversial?

So, I’ve decided to start a Granny stripe blanket for the little girls I love to be Aunty Rachel to. They apparently like to snuggle under a fleecy blanket sometimes to watch tv, but I think a GS snuggly soft (reliably machine washable I’m told) Stylecraft yarn blanket is the way forward for them. :-D

Deciding which colour comes next is the challenge at the moment. I’ve completed two colour stripes now and do I go purpley again or change to pink? Dark or light? I’m off to ponder one of life’s happier and easier choices.

PS: it’s been flowerarama this week so a pint glass had to suffice for my second bunch of daffs!

Made

I couldn’t wait to get started using some of my new stash of wool yarn last night!

After I’d moved the scallop edging to the bottom of the jar I preferred it far more.

I hope Naomi likes it. I know crochet and hand-made isn’t everyone’s cup-of-tea and for some it’s all a bit hokey…but I wanted to make her something to say THANKYOU.

The Stylecraft yarn is really nice to work with, yes I’d prefer Rowan and Debbie Bliss with no acrylic at all but it’s far too ££££ for playing around with. Until I win the lottery!

The latest mini project

Yesterday I thought I’d try making the little granny squares baby blanket from the new Let’s Get Crafting magazine which I got yesterday.

I get a bit bored with granny squares but the finished thing looks so nice.

The yarn kit has the nicest colours yet…

I crocheted the squares quickly and enjoyed using the yarn, as opposed to the cotton I’ve been using for the Hilton crochet. Yarn, even acrylic stuff, is so much softer and ‘moves’ nicely!

Lovely colours aren’t they?

I crocheted 3 more squares and that was it – the 9/9 complete.

Then I tried to crochet them together using slip stitches into the outer loops, rather than the matresses stitch recommended in the pattern.

And that is another story….

Crocheting in bed

I really did go downhill yesterday, I thought that the streaming cold of Sunday would be better and probably nearly gone by yesterday but I woke up feeling really horrendous. I was even slightly tempted to take a photo to prove how hideous I looked and felt, but am truly glad I didn’t….it would be scarey viewing.

I’d read a tweet at the weekend which said something like ‘if all you want to do is sit up in bed and crochet – while watching a movie, then do’ (Or 140 characters worth of similar advice anyway!) I’ve never considered bed and crochet as being compatible; I have enough trouble with my hooks sliding down between the cushions, or onto the floor when I’m on the sofa. But as I was feeling so fragile, and bed was the cosiest place, I decided to try.

So far Mr Scrappy only had a body and one leg or arm which was all green when it was meant to be stripey.

(Here’s why it’s plain green, not colourful…)

I settled down against my pillows with my audio book of Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and made another one.

Anything you notice about them?!

I sighed and decided to carry on making Mr Scrappy’s body….while laughing out loud and feeling a little teary as the book progressed…

Lynne’s advice about using a stitch marker when crocheting in the round is sooo helpful. It really works!

Ok, so after going back and making another arm or leg I could see that crocheting after 2 glasses of wine, while watching Red Dwarf, might not have been such a great idea the other night…

I’ll undo the freakishly big plain green one and save the wool for another section of Mr S.

Not bad crochet for a poorly Rachel – especially while choking and sobbing over Me Before You.

I can’t recommend the book enough, it’s amazing by the way. So amazing I might even be listening to it again from the beginning.

Crocheting more of Mr Scrappy took my mind off how terrible I was feeling and I might even crochet in bed again one lazy weekend. Hopefully without all the germs!

Mr Scrappy (and the Hilton crochet)

I’ve got a stinking cold but have enjoyed doing a bit more of my Hilton crochet for the bag I’m making…

 

 I wanted a smaller thing to make so Mr Scrappy was the project I began yesterday…

 

I really really needed some advice about stitch markers, so tweeted and got some from the ever-helpful Lynne.

The method above works sooo well!

Mr Scrappy seemed like a great way to use up my odds and ends, though as you see I lost the plot a bit last night and used all green for one of his legs or arms! Blame it on watching/listening to Red Dwarf while counting the stitches in the round…

You can also get the pattern here….

Thanks Stacey!

—————————————————–

Finally, here’s what I’ll make for dinner tomorrow…

I love chicken

I love chickpeas

I love sweet and savoury together

So this recipe from my Good Food Magazine, also available on their excellent website will be perfect.

YUM.

I never said this was a crochet blog from an expert, to inspire awe and wonder, did I?

I know I only really started to follow patterns and really learn to crochet last New Year; but I do get despondent if my item doesn’t look exactly the one in the picture which accompanies the pattern.

I’ve been really enthused about tackling the lovely circle cushion in Nicki’s Trench’s fab crochet book and have been holding out until I have a proper posh supply of yarn. Then last night I came to the realisation that what does it matter? I need to just have a go at it.

So, I’ve had a go at it. I’ve used scraps and oddments of yarn. Not necessarily the colours I’d have chosen if I’d bought yarn, or which go anywhere in my home, but whatever! Just crochet the  thing.

Nicki Trench states that this is the easiest thing in the world, that she often starts beginner crocheters on circles since they grow fast and are rewarding (or something like that..) Well, they would be fast if I didn’t have to keep undoing the circle as I go…

The issue is knowing where to go in at the end of the circle and me disliking the look at the joiny part. I just HATE the gappy bit where you’ve chained 3 at the start, then slip-stitch the 3rd chain at the end. Do you go in one loop of the chain? If you do, or if you don’t and ss to into the whole gap in between the chain and first treble, there seems to be a gappy bit. Then you have the issue after another circle of knowing whether to go into that stitch or not. The answer’s probably no. Almost certainly since I seem to have an extra stitch at the end of each row.

I decided not to let it worry me, hey let’s be free and experimental with our crochet. We’ll call it ‘free-form-Rachel’. BUT that doesn’t work when you’ve got to make a matching circle for the other side of the cushion. Shall it be a bag instead???

No.

It needs to be a circle cushion.

Back I go to undo, undo, undo.

Grrrr.

Here’s some pics before I unravel it.

I never expected to say this….

…but in November I was crocheting robins!

They had come to a pause until I found toy stuffing in a local shop (Darn it and Stitch in Oxford.) Haberdashry shops are few and far between these days. The robin pattern was found in the Christmas makes editon of the excellent Let’s Get Crafting Knitting and Crochet magazine. For the first robin I used the kit wool, and copied the instructions. Then I bought a cheapo ball of brown acrylic for the second; after all robins are not yellow and red! I tweeted the designer, Lynne Rowe, at the time and she said she had run out of other colours to use in the yarn kit, which is sold with the magazine. Fair enough, as the pattern is the most important thing.

I needed to think about what to use for his eyes and then sew up his bottom properly!

The ‘evil’ crocheted robins!

I will have to invest in some toy eyes if I make these again…

See you soon,

Rachel

Crocheted jar cover

I spent my Friday evening crocheting this jar cover while sipping Lady Grey tea. I’d decided to give alcohol for January so was feeling very cleansed and virtuous. That was until, fast forward to Saturday lunch, The King’s Arms in Oxford when I finished my lovely cool pint of lager shandy and looked at my friend in horror; I’d totally forgotten I wasn’t meant to be drinking! After the 3 mile walk into town it had felt like the perfect drink. Oops.

I would really love a perfect bottom (hey, don’t we all?!) but it takes practice I guess. I am perfectionist and there are a few flaws if you look carefully.I made my own wiggly up and down pattern for the top: 3 trebles then 3 doubles repeated. The start of the design was from a Let’s Get Crafting pattern for a crocheted ‘jar’ by Lynne Rowe, but you can see where I carried on crocheting and got carried away from the white sticky outy row onwards, it’s meant to be where the last two rows of crochet fold over at the top. I kept the textured sticky outy bit (technical talk?!) because I liked it. I think I’ll do that again. You basically stop going around and around, turn the crocheted so you are now looking at the inside or the outside and go into the back loop only for the stitch. There are possibilities for more texture in dimensional projects me thinks….

The yarn, by the way, was horrendous to use as it kept splitting. It seemed more man-made than anything I’ve ever used before. But I like the colour combination. It’s very seasidey.

Crochet 2011

Here as promised are some of my very first crochet projects, all from last year.

I’m not pretending to be a crochet expert and this blog is really going to be a journal of my progress and keeness! I also might occasionally be having a temper tantrum when something goes wrong, or be asking for help of course…

A friend wanted an iphone case and LOVES bright green and orange. This was my first attempt…

And here’s the next…

She said it could be even  BRIGHTER than the prototype…

It has visible flaws but I was fairly pleased with it at the beginning of the year; as one of my first projects.

Crocheted bowls which I filled with shredded tissue paper and added chickens with chocolate eggs for an easter gift.

George the egg cosy. He’s larger than your average egg cosy, but I love him. I’ve also crocheted Henry, his brother. They are now living in London and Oxfordshire.

Those are VERY bright squares eh? Not exactly the colours I’d usually choose but it was leftover Let’s Get Crafting mag yarn. I obviously needed to block these before doing the edging. Oops. I didn’t want to undo it and start again because by then I was on to the next project. I gave it to some little girls I know to cover their mini baby dolls with!

I still haven’t blocked anything yet, but will have to sort out how soon…

Even brighter crocheted bunting I made a week ago!

I used Nicki Trench’s pattern from her fab ‘Cute and Easy Crochet’ book (one of my favourite Christmas pressies this year), and the yarn is again from a LGC mag. I’m pleased with it and think it would be great to use personalised colours to make more as a gift, for a nursery or playroom.

Apart from that little lot I’ve crocheted cotton dishcloths, a bracelet (no, I don’t wear it!) ‘the evil robins’ as I call them, the stocking from my first blog post and many more bits and pieces that I’ve forgotten for now.

I’ve practised making granny squares and tried out quite a few stitches using this book:  200 Crochet Blocks for Blankets Throws and Afghans

Next time you can see more of what I enjoy seeing and doing,

Rachel