Sunday, 4 October 2015

Macrame plant hangers...

I found myself in Coalville, Leicestershire this week. M had a job to do there and I had two hours to kill. What the place lacks in architectural charm it makes up for in friendliness, and I never really mind when there are plenty of charity shops to browse.

I found a couple of books (see above) that I thought would at least be worth a flick through whilst I had a coffee for my last half an hour (Coalville is not that big!). By the end of the coffee I was keen to get my hands on some string! Those colourful balls were just £1 each. I've taken 32 metres from each of the orange and duck egg and they still weigh a hefty amount so I think they will do two or three plant hangers from each ball.

The books were absolutely rubbish in helping me get started on plant hangers. They both seem to focus on the fashion side of things and have some extremely outlandish designs that I hope will never catch on again. I can't imagine they were admired in the seventies...

No! No! And no! Ugh! The stuff of nightmares. There are some reasonably artistic and tasteful wall hangings in both books, an awful lot of belts, strange clothes trimmings, but overall there is good reason for only the plant hangers to have made their way back into fashion! Useful and in my opinion beautiful. E is very fond of plants and has run out of window sill space for them. After a bit of practice I think I will be making a few for her room.

The orange plant hanger was a trial run. I was amazed it even held the pot quite frankly, but it does and very securely (I walked it through the house looking for suitable hooks). The duck egg one is a more adventurous, thought out second attempt. I think there's going to be quite a bit of experimentation going on.

Although I couldn't get into a local autumn fayre at short notice (tables book up a year in advance and I'm down for next year!) we did go along to see what the craft standard was like. It was a mixed bag. We came home with an armful of books for £1 including a fantastic crochet stitches book. I bought the white plant pot (above) for 50p and the best but of the day was the large bag of old wooden curtain rings (25) for £1. As you can see they are perfect for macrame plant hangers!

M asked me how I remembered how to macrame. It's a bit like knitting, there are only two knots you need to know to create all the variations. Remembering the variations seems to be one of the things etched on my mind. I've told the tale before... When I was unceremoniously chucked off the nightdress sewing class in school (I got through a lot of sewing machine needles) my teacher literally put me in the corner with a large ball of twine, a pot of wooden beads and a flimsy 'How to Macrame' booklet. Something in me didn't want to be humiliated twice so I was determined to complete the plant hanger project successfully, and I did. It was much more elaborate than the orange one I've just made. I wish I still had that booklet!

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Torquay jumper...

Well yes, technical speaking I shouldn't have started another crochet project. I've got the baby waffle hoodie and Cedar River Blanket on the go in my 'current' basket. I had planned to make this entire jumper for E whilst away in Sussex for the week, all it needed was a quick visit to Battle Wool Shop but alas they didn't have what I was looking for yarn wise.

Fast forward another week and E changed her mind about the colour she'd like me to make it in. This was a good thing. Aran weight cotton was much easier to find in neutral off white. I can just hear my Mum, or Nan for that matter, looking at the project so far and saying, 'well that's gone horribly wrong hasn't it?' The fact that those raggy holes have a name; shred stitch, may not actually save this project from doing just that - going horribly wrong.

I've already had to rip back about seven rows. I said a few swear words and E swore she'd wear it every day for years. I told her that if it succeeded she'd have to wear it until she was at least forty five! That's the measure of how much I'm disliking this pattern right now.

I've never used shred stitch before (and probably never will again). It's worth looking it up on the Internet well before starting to follow this pattern. I'm still not sure I'm doing it exactly right. I've given up trying to get the stitch counts to work from the pattern and I'm freewheeling now, using the photographs as a guide.

At least it's a welcome one colour project after the riot that is the Cedar River Blanket. Gotta love a one colour project even if it does look like something the cat dragged in!

(The pattern is from a back copy of Inside Crochet; issue 43. Also available on Ravelry.)

Monday, 28 September 2015


Have you ever had that problem with measuring spoons? You know the one, where you've used one for stirring paint, one has been lost, the dog chewed one (ok Riley chewed two) and the remainder aren't useful sizes? No? Probably just us then.

With the arrival of autumn we've been baking a little more. There were no plums at all this year so we've been more creative with the crop from our apple tree. All variations of apple pie, apple crumble, apple tartlets, stewed apple, you name it.

Baking was not on my mind when I popped into a branch of Asda Home for batteries recently and spotted these fantastic wooden measuring spoons! A bargain at £3. They suit our rustic kitchen very well. Apple strudel anyone?

Friday, 25 September 2015

Off the hook...crochet waffle top

This reminds me of the lovely waffle sweaters my Nan used to knit for us when we were very small. It must have been a very long time ago, I can remember the stitch but I can't remember the colours. Hers were definitely knitted which I must admit gave the garments a lovely drape.

I could knit a waffle stitch sweater myself now but I much prefer to crochet and this is a similar effect, using raised trebles. The pattern is incredibly simply to follow, unlike the mess I got into trying to follow some of the other baby patterns!

I've started another, this time the hooded jacket version, and in a much more girly yarn. It's white with flecks of pastel shades. It's been a lesson in how different yarn looks once worked up though. It looks so much more subtle on the ball than in the fabric.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Cedar River Blanket...

E caught me browsing more crochet baby patterns a few days ago and politely reminded me that she'd been promised a crochet blanket a few years back. Given that Jake's took a few years to make (I got bored with it!) I reluctantly agreed to make one for her.

The Cedar River blanket is everywhere at the moment. The free pattern is available on the Deramores website. E agreed it was something a bit different to all the chevron and granny blankets so we settled on that for the design. I did quite like the colour combination suggested in the 'packs' but E had other ideas and chose a pale grey for the main colour, with a few other swaps too. It's looking a bit colourful for my taste but I think it works. The number of ends to weave in though! Yikes.

Since this photo was taken I've completed four squares, bordered them all and then joined them with dc on the back. It kind of looks ok. Only another twenty squares to make for a large throw.

It will probably be the most involved piece of crochet I ever make. It's clever how the pattern only uses a DK weight of wool and yet the fabric produced is pretty thick and sturdy. After the first square I was worried it wouldn't drape well but it seems to be working out ok now that I've got four joined together. I'm definitely going to need a good supply of The Waltons and some Westerns to see me through this blanket!

Tilly might just be a cat who likes routine. I give her some breakfast at nine and she disappears outside into Mollie's old hunting ground by the river (it's pretty dried up at the moment). Round about two I call her and she comes running for a late lunch. Just before four she's had enough of being an explorer and comes and sits down next to me on the sofa while I do a spot of crochet. I haven't the heart to tell her that if it's routine she wants she's picked the wrong person. Routine is a dirty word for me.

Our only problem at the moment is that she's refusing to use the cat flap since a stupid dog with a stupid face decided to stick his stupid head through the cat flap to see where she was (cheers Riley). As it happens she was about to come through it. Duh! Despite the fact that we've renamed the dogs Dumb and Dumber they are actually getting an overdose of hugs and snoozing on my lap time. I wouldn't want them to feel left out.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015


We have a new addition! Meet Tilly. I got talked into this by the very persuasive E, and M was all for it too. He's more of a cat person. I'm very much a dog person. I'm a sucker for rescue animals though.

Tilly was found under a hedge with her kitten. The locals (somewhere in East Lincolnshire) had been feeding her for some time. She's about two or three years old, and yes, she looks remarkably similar to our beloved Mollie. Tilly is also much smaller than the average cat. She hasn't quite grown into her ears. The rescue charity named her and since she comes when you call her name it would be daft to rename her. Apparently black and white cats are the least popular when it comes to adoption. We couldn't imagine having any other type.

She's doing really well settling in with two bouncy dogs who try to lick her face. She's not having any of it though. She loves to play with a toy mouse on the end of a string, she even likes her pop up tunnel but she keeps pawing the hamster cage so I'm pretty sure the field mice and the water voles should be worried.

(Sadly we did find Mollie several weeks after she went missing whilst poorly. I'm glad we did.)

Saturday, 19 September 2015

A week in Sussex...


So yes, there was quite a bit of sea air intake. The weather wasn't the greatest after day one.

That's Archie, the fluffball with the black eye patch! He's a sweetie. We did some very long beach walks. He's rather less excitable now that he has to wear a muzzle on his walks to stop him picking up and eating things like pebbles, cuttlefish, seaweed or tennis balls (we found several washed up ones). He gets going when you run around like a mad thing which I got the urge to do the first time my feet landed on the shingle. We ran until we reached the first rock pools and he paddled while I looked for creatures.

Meanwhile I kept receiving silly dog photos from home. I liked this one of Harvey, he looks like he's playing along with the silliness.

Then two days before I was due to return home I received the sprained ankle picture, or ankle with a gigantic egg on the side picture. That's Jake on crutches for two weeks. It was a foolproof way to get out of the 'quick, let's run the Hoover round, clean the bath and do some laundry because Mum's coming home' routine. Don't get me wrong, it's sweet of them to try but I've ended up cleaning the white film off the bath and taps where someone has probably used half a bottle of limescale remover rather than the ordinary bath cleaner I would have used. I've hoovered throughout properly and there's not much I can do about all the items that M shrunk in the wash. It's all a small price to pay for a week of just being me, actually me in my home town of Hastings.

I took a train from Bexhill to Hastings for the silly sum of £3.40 return. Much quicker and easier than driving. It was only a ten minute ride. I would have walked the seven mile route along the coastal way but it was pretty blustery and the rain was constant and heavy. Instead I had a good long walk along the entire length of Hastings sea front right up to the old town. I enjoyed a browse in Butler's Emporium and a few junk shops. I bought lunch in Judge's Bakery. I peeped in the window of Hastings Pottery. I had coffee in Cafe Des Arts (run by Autism Sussex) in Robertson Street which used to be a lovely old fashioned shoe shop but place of utter misery because I hated buying school shoes (they were all far too girly for my taste!) It's just round the corner from the Children's Library which is still there all these years later!

I've had my dose of home and now I'm all set to cope with more of M's home town. For a while anyway.