Thursday, 28 April 2016

Golden wheat and brown velvet bulrushes...

This is the so called stash busting tv blanket that I started way back in 2014. I'm not great with blankets, I get distracted far too easily in favour of smaller items with a quicker outcome. This is, however, my fifth blanket. The ends are a pain but sewing them in every time I feel in the mood will save having to do them all in one go at the end. I'm not particularly looking forward to creating a border but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. I've got fifteen random balls of yarn in my basket. Not all of them started out as a full 100g but I'm guessing it will be enough. It's certainly growing, albeit steadily rather than quickly.

Funnily enough the colours in the blanket all feature in my walks to this fantastic nature reserve. All the blues and greys are in the sky and lake. The deep golden yellow will be in the wheat, come summer. The brown will be close to that of the bulrushes and the various flecked off whites in the grass heads by the river banks. Choices all completely by accident, or were they?

Had I learnt to crochet as a child/teenager I'm pretty sure I would have crocheted in the middle of wheat fields or up a tree. I did seem to spend some considerable time in both. I used to read books in corn fields until one day it suddenly occurred to me that I wouldn't hear a combine harvester approaching. I stuck to trees after that.

As it happens, the blanket, along with a few smaller projects will be making good progress over the next five or six weeks since I've well and truly b******d up my knee. Turns out I should have been a lot more careful after my initial injury and certainly not walking miles or doing further damage by trying to climb on top of tall stools. Torn ligaments they reckon but I'll know more after an MRI scan at the weekend. All I know now is that dog walking is definitely out of the question for a while. You can see what a great time they had on our last walk, it was one of those rare sunny days. When they both take a run and jump and race each other to the island I'm very glad they have each other. Riley will often get in the way of Harvey's serious work which is flushing out game (in an unofficial capacity) and fetching but I think they both like each other's company.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Off the hook...cedar river blanket

Boy am I glad to see the back of this one! I'm going to think long and hard before I ever do such a colourful project again. I absolutely loathed having to change colours so many times. Each square has all five colours and there were 24 squares. It wasn't so much the changing as dealing with all those ends. Boring!

Ella chose the colours and we also chose the 'large throw' size because it's about what we call 'tv blanket' size. It doesn't feel like a large throw, it feels as though it would make a good toddler blanket. At least E is pleased with it. It is surprisingly thick despite being worked up in DK weight. I added several more rounds of border to try and make it a bit bigger. There was enough grey yarn for an extra round of trebles and a dc round and there was plenty of green left.

I've yet to press it but in the meantime I've dug out a blanket that I started in 2014 (thanks blog for reminding me how old that wip was). Yes it is a multi coloured affair but the two row repeat is fairly long and I'm weaving ends in every now and then. It's a lot wider than the cedar river blanket so it'll be a good tv blanket when it's done. I think I started it with cricket matches in mind. A simple pattern that doesn't need too much concentration and fits entirely into one basket. Not to mention the bonus of keeping warm as it grows. I've already attended one cricket match this year but thankfully watched the whole thing from the warmth and comfort of the car.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016


I have to be honest and admit that E faces nerve wracking situations with slightly less fuss than I ever did. Let's just say that work experience and dentist appointments were out of my comfort zone.

She has been the independent type from the word go. She took her first steps at ten months old which seems as if it were yesterday. She always refused the offer of a hand when climbing stairs. E would breeze into a new toddler group or social situation with buckets of confidence (while I'd be wanting the ground to open up and swallow me). She'd walk up to someone she vaguely liked the look of and introduce herself, ask for their name if it wasn't forthcoming and chat about the place, the toys, the weather even! She was flipping amazing. I was in awe.

Whilst she didn't exactly breeze into the DSA building with a cheery hello for everyone yesterday, she did handle the nerves well, got on with the task and passed her driving theory exam first time. Woohoo! She says it feels like a bit of an anti climax knowing that she still can't get in a car and drive away unsupervised, but we're working on that. We just have to find a family member with both time and nerves of steel to supplement the lessons. Not that she's a bad driver at all, it's just a lot more nerve wracking sitting beside a learner driver than I anticipated!

These snaps were taken back in February. It was the coldest, wettest, darkest day in Hastings I've encountered for a long time. We got off the train and by the time we reached the Old Town we were both extremely glad to peel off our soaking outer layers inside this wonderful coffee shop: Hanukkah Coffee House. Wild mushroom soup and coffee never tasted so good and with a back drop of wall to wall books! We packed lightly for this trip but hadn't banked on such foul weather so this is E sporting a bargain hand knit jumper for £2, purchased on the way to George Street. I love that she appreciates all the love and time that goes into a hand knit and feels awful that they end up in a charity shop for so little. Sure, it's a little wonky in places and the sleeves are very long but we like to think that someone somewhere would be very pleased if they knew the jumper was now being worn and appreciated.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

An emergency kit...

I love puff stitch. I do not like zips. I made a random strip of puff stitches using odds and ends and then realised it was the perfect size for a small purse. I dug out a small zip which just happened to be the right size and then did a right old hash of sewing it in with a black felt lining. It functions. It's just not very neat, but luckily black hides a multitude of sins.

When I was a child I loved to kit out a small tin with string, a penknife, plasters and a small pad and pencil. I reckoned that would cover all eventualities. It pretty much did during my blissful tree climbing, nature watching days. More recently I like to go everywhere with an emergency kit which contains crochet hooks, a tape measure, a wool needle, a few stitch markers and some small scissors. I've managed to squeeze all that into this new purse. Just add yarn and I'm ready to roll.

Both crochet flowers were made in the length of time it took to drink a regular Costa coffee. The first one with the magazine pattern to hand and the second, a few days later, entirely from memory. It's amazing how I can often struggle to remember what I did the day before and yet recall a whole multi layer flower and leaf crochet pattern.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Off the hook... Penelope Bear

The hedgehog morphed into a bear! I couldn't face all those prickly bits and I wasn't too sure the colours I had available would look quite right. So Penelope Bear was a happy accident. Just don't mention her hedgehog DNA. She can get a bit prickly on certain subjects.

We've had a beautiful spring day here in Lincolnshire. The doors and windows were flung open for an much fresh air as possible. The dogs reclined on an old blanket on the deck. I briefly wished I was a dog with nothing more important to do than lie in the sun. Alas the laundry doesn't sort itself out.

I keep saying I'm done with the menagerie for now and then another animal springs to life. This time I think I really am done with them. Initially I just wanted to make the zebra, lion and elephant but five toys later and I haven't done the animals that attracted me to the range in the first place. They will have to wait until I get another urge to make toys. I much prefer to go where my mood takes me and at the moment I seem to have another desire to explore textured stitches.

Stop press: Penelope just had a close encounter with a furry fiend of the four legged variety. I won't mention names but Riley was looking rather sheepish. Let's just say Penelope had a very lucky escape.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Off the hook... Esme Fox

From left to right: Hank, Emma, Esme and Piotr.

I shall probably ask Ella to rename this motley crew at some stage. The names I've mentioned are all from the book 'Edward's Menagerie' but I have an Uncle Esme and I'm not too sure he'd want a fox named after him.

Esme was my first attempt at the tapestry crochet technique. I was never really patient enough to do much intarsia when I was more of a knitter so I've managed to keep tapestry crochet at arms length until now. I frogged the first attempt and then ignored the stitch counts for the second attempt. That went much better but the colour change row ends look different on his left profile than on his right. Not that I mind much. I'm casually flicking through the one book I have with tapestry crochet projects in it. Just maybe, when I'm feeling in need of a challenge.

The book shows the fox in two colours, the main colour of which isn't very foxy if truth be told. My fox yarn came from Northallerton, it's Debbie Bliss Blue Faced Leicester DK (Burnt Orange). It was a discounted ball because it's been discontinued. There was only one ball in this colour and because I didn't want to run out mid fox I decided to add dark grey socks to all four legs and an off white neck band. I'm quite pleased with this more colourful version; there's no mistaking he's a fox.

I've got the hedgehog on the go now. His body and limbs are complete. Once he's finished I really must return to the slightly less exciting garments I've started. I've been making a few small fun items in between hedgehog limbs and the odd row of pink cardigan. A small purse, two flower brooches and a t shirt yarn bowl have been completed, the latter when I disappeared into my little craft room intending to do some tidying up.

Talking of which, Jake and I have completed phase one of the long overdue transformation of his room from ten year old play den to teenage hang out. The master plan involves a massive sliding wardrobe door miracle that will hide a huge amount of sports wear, football boots, cricket boots, trainers, vans, converse, you name it. All currently size twelve, ugh. Non sports wear will take up a much smaller section and finally school books and Xbox/PlayStation games will fill up the remainder. His life is school, sport and gaming, in that order. Phase two looks set to be an even bigger challenge. The hard part is packing up favourite toys and games knowing that childhood as we knew it is definitely over.

Monday, 28 March 2016

All her eggs in one basket...

found the miniature shopping basket in a quirky gift shop in Brighton's North Laines when E and I were down there in February. I had in mind making crochet fruit and veg but then Easter rolled round! I'll probably still have a go at making the fruit and veg.

I really enjoyed crocheting these life sized eggs. I used random DK cotton from my stash and instead of the suggested polystyrene inserts I used soft toy filling. Now that E and J are 18 and 15 respectively my memory of what they played with at what ages is hazy. I figure that sometime over the age of one my little niece will want to play shops, or throwing crochet eggs at Daddy, start talking about colours and counting, or whatever floats her boat really. I think these eggs will be a versatile toy.

E says that little E's memories of me will all involve crochet. Do I care? Not one bit. Eccentric crocheting aunt? Yep that'll do for me.

(The egg pattern is a free one by Red Heart.)