Monday, 20 July 2015

Mollie...







Mollie hasn't been well for the last few months. The first signs of illness were a strangely wild appetite for food. She'd charge, like a bullet out of a gun, whenever anyone was in the region of her food bowl, then stand there meowing loudly until she was fed. Coupled with a drastic loss of weight, I googled the symptoms (I'm not at all knowledgeable about cats!) and worked out that she had a thyroid problem. The vet confirmed this and she started a course of tablets. Initially she put a few pounds on and we were relieved that's all it was and kind of expected her to live a bit longer.

Although she had a whole lot of other tests at the time of checking out her thyroid function it's possible there was something else making her poorly. In the last month she refused to sleep indoors, preferring to make a cosy nest in a large patch of bamboo to the front of our house.

She's been missing for five days now (she's never gone missing before). We've searched high and low. She was drastically underweight and very weak. We are pretty sure she's taken herself off someone cool, dark and hidden and fallen asleep for the last time.

Goodnight Mollie x

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

News and a new bag...







This new project bag may well be the last of my productive recuperating crochet phase! I've entered a new productive phase; repairing guttering, hacking down overgrown branches, jet washing mossy decks...I make it sound like we live in the house from The Money Pit with Tom Hanks where it pretty much falls down around them. Let's just say that between work and cricket season my usual handy man is AWOL.

Jake is so tall now (he's over six foot) that he was able to stand on the path outside the conservatory and hold up one end of the guttering while I had to stand on a chair to fix the other end. I'm pretty sure I can line up some other jobs for him. I may not even need my magic apple picking gadget this August when the apples are ready to be picked, or better still I can tie a basket to his head and just pop them in from my position on the top rung of the stepladder!

It's a pity our gaggle of cherry trees at the top of the garden are still only producing small tart cherries. I manage to get through an impressive number of punnets all by myself every year.

Yes the new project bag is a very odd combination of colours. I am steadily working my way through the odds and ends in my cottons basket. This was the last of the useful quantities, less than 100g per colour. This was quite a dedicated make for me. It involved dc throughout with a 4mm hook which is pretty tough on my hands. Htr's with aran weight and a 5mm hook would have been less strenuous but I love the neat fabric the dc's make. The pattern is in a book called Crocheted Gifts: Irresistable Projects to Make and Give by Interweave. It starts with four pieces that kind of end up looking like a child's windmill. Then the stripes are worked onto that after a small bit of sewing seams. It's quite clever.

You can see that I've currently got lots of baby yarns in there...because I am now, officially, an Auntie! I have a niece! I wish I could share a photo with you. It seems I can email the photo and save it but I can't seem to put it in a post. Trust me, she's as cute as a button! When she's a whole lot bigger I think she might like one of these crochet bags to hold a few favourite toys...

Which reminds me. Way back...nearly 18 years ago when Ella was born a good friend of mine decided it would be a good time to learn to knit. I'm not sure that knitting and crochet was enjoying quite the boom period with knit and natter groups that it is now but she did manage to find a local group of old ladies who mainly knitted acrylic baby clothes and four ply sweaters. At 27 she was the youngest there by about fifty years. It proved to be the most amazing way to learn to knit. The first item she knitted was a small jumper for E which consisted of squares of knitted fabric knitted together with the corners folded down to make a collar at the neck opening. It was very simple but worked and E wore it a lot (I loved anything hand knitted). When Ella was toddling about she decided she was too big to knit for and move do on to knitting for E's favourite doll, originally named 'Dolly'. Dolly has a comprehensive wardrobe of fabulously co-ordinated items ranging from outdoor jackets to evening shoes. Dolly is carefully packed away with her special clothes in a small child's suitcase waiting for future grandchildren to enjoy!

Monday, 6 July 2015

Off the hook...summer pouches







I keep meaning to put together a notebook of 'go to' crochet patterns. I've got a few reliable ones jotted down but a few more bookmarked electronically that need adding. I don't quite trust technology to keep these patterns safe!

This clutch pattern is what I'd call a 'go to' pattern purely because it's easy, reliable and has many uses and ways to adapt. I made the grey one first, whilst watching 90 overs of cricket. I paid more attention to the eight overs that J bowled of course and a nail biting few overs when he went in to bat late and needed to get vital runs to win the game. It eventually came down to five runs needed off two balls and my boy hit a crafty four and single to much applause from the men's team he was playing for. Inside I was doing star jumps, on the outside I clapped in a very restrained British way! I always remind J that although he could have lost the match by being out or not getting the runs, it is in fact a team game.

The crochet clutch was intended to be a quick, simple, small project that would fit into my small cricket match watching basket. Something inconspicuous! J once blushed fifty shades of red when I got some crochet out on a train journey but I think he might be slightly over that now because he did come and sit with me when his team were batting despite the fact it was on my lap at the time.

The cotton is aran weight eco recycled something or other and the hook was 6mm. The first pouch was slightly tricky and I did have to rip a few rows back when my shell rows turned and I was leaving something of a gap. I seem to have remedied that in the second one by paying slightly more attention. The jade green pouch came out slightly smaller because I may have inadvertently added rows to the grey one or left some out on the green one. Either way, a happy accident. It looks intentional to have a pair like this! Another accident was the fact that the first one is a perfect fit for my Kindle. Although I have Kindle on my iPad now I find it a bit cumbersome and the matt screen is easier to read in sunshine on the Kindle. Not that I really like my Kindle much. I prefer good old fashioned paperbacks.

I could add buttons or ties at this point but I doubt either would be necessary. They will just keep a few loose bits and bobs together for my cricket match survival kit basket! I think they'd also make nice gifts with something already inside... note cards, soap and face cloth, a sewing kit, chocolate...


The pattern is listed on Tangled Happy under 'purses'.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Chuck it together day...



It's a mini heat wave here in the uk. I say mini because it's really not that much of a heat wave and probably won't last all that long either, but we like to be dramatic and call it a heat wave nonetheless. It's 97 degrees apparently. Woohoo!

The dogs are lying under the apple tree in the long grass. I have water bowls everywhere.

It's slightly cooler indoors so I'm doing the sensible thing and staying out of the midday sun.

I'm still a bit uncomfortable with post op wounds so I decided to whip up a couple of skirts on the sewing machine, elasticated waists that I can sit just where I want them to. The first one won't be worn outside these four walls for the simple reason that I wouldn't be seen dead in florals! I just happened to have a large piece of cotton perfect for a skirt. I used it as my practice piece...

I cut a long rectangle which was the length of the skirt plus a bit for hemming and waist and then cut it double the length of the waist measurement so that I'd have a bit of gather. A bit like the curtain rule which is one and a half times isn't it? I didn't iron it or pin it, shock horror! but it turned out just fine. It taught me that the measurements were just about right and to make the tube for the elastic a bit more snug.

Skirt number two was made using the fabric in the photo above. I don't really do bold patterns either but this one is more my taste colour wise, there's dark indigo and grey in those circles and the fabric has a linen feel though I've no idea what it's actually made of. I bought it years ago and I've forgotten what the original intended use was. I did all the ironing and pinning and proper hemming on this one and it has turned out ok. It would be nice to know how to do fancier waistbands but I think that's one hobby I can resist.

So, two chuck it together skirts, which is a bit like my philosophy with lunches lately. No thought as to whether anything goes together, just chuck it all on a plate and go!

Tomorrow I'll be chucking it all in a cool bag to go. Another county cricket match. Local for a change. Sun hat at the ready! Watching cricket in the sun is a rare thing!

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Off the hook...cotton face cloths






Oo these face cloths are so quick and satisfying! I fully intended to work up squares of htr's and not bother with borders but that's really tedious right? So for the pink one (for Ella 'cause I'm allergic to all things pink!) out came a variation on v stitch (the triples on the usual method were just too lacy for this use) and an htr border.

This organic cotton is soft to start with and stays soft after many washes. I loved the range of muted shades it came in. It's the sort of stuff you find in expensive yarn stores but I came across it for a bargain price on Amazon. It must have been pretty popular because it's now doubled in price and for half as much!

I've just finished reading The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver. I've come to realise that there's a bit of a recurring theme amongst my random charity shop book purchases; plucky lone female travels across America meeting colourful characters and having adventures along the way, with or without a small child in tow. This one wasn't dissimilar to 'Entering Normal' which I purchased this year for the second time without realising that I'd read it years ago! There are others I recall. Is this my subconscious regretting not travelling more when I was younger? Or over exposure to all things USA on TV when I was a child? Or can I identify with the way these women find an amazing inner strength when it comes to travelling with small children? Or is just escapism like any other novel depicting a journey? A mixture of all I suspect.

I've ordered the sequel to The Bean Trees which I didn't know existed until I googled the author to see what else she'd written. It's called Pigs In Heaven and has mixed reviews but I can't resist finding out what happens to the two main characters; Taylor and Turtle!


Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Off the hook...light and airy scarf







The scarf turned out just how I wanted it to. It's what I've had in mind for a while but hadn't made the connection between yarn and gauge and time. I'd love a willing model for blog pics but that isn't happening at the moment.

So, onto the next monotonous crochet project! I'm turning this little basket of organic cotton odds and ends into random face cloths. I use my one and only cotton crochet face cloth all the time so I could do with spares for when it's in the wash. We have a basket of towelling flannels for family use and I generally only let people use them once before throwing them in the latest wash load. I've got a fear of stale and whiffy face cloths! Ugh. When the flannels get tatty I chuck them in the rag basket and then use them for household cleaning jobs. So, nice, smart cotton crochet face cloths will be a good job done.

Oh and that dark chocolate there... it just fell in my little pot. I don't know how. Really.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Taking it easy...






I'm very glad I had my little op during cricket season. It has meant that my first weekend of recovery has been spent alone, with peace and quiet in abundance. My routine is read (a few pages), crochet (a few rows), sleep (for an indefinite period) and start routine all over again. OK, I confess to watching a few overs of cricket on TV too.

I'm doing my level best to ignore the prairie dust balls blowing across the floors. The mountain of washing that is 'under control' in the bath (don't ask). The dogs look pitiful making do with walkies in the back fields instead of their usual two hour trek with lake swimming sessions with me. They remain loyal though, sleeping as close as they can get away with. Riley has bought me a collection of offerings; a yellow sock, a rawhide bone, half a tennis ball. Harvey just licks my hand occasionally.

If you had to rest up for a while what would you have nearby?

Flowers from Mum and Dad, roasted almonds from Marks & Spencer's, wool from Save the Children charity shop, books from Oxfam. Tea by the Redbush Tea Company. Apart from the flowers which are a lovely treat, the rest are staple things in my life; for illness, weekends away, rainy afternoons, sunny afternoons for that matter!

The yarn was £1.50 for four balls. I can't remember how many grammes. There are no ball bands but it feels like it has a part cotton content at least, it's quite soft and even softer worked up in this loose guage. I'd say the weight was something like a thick DK or light aran, I'm using a 10mm hook for an intentionally 'netty' look. I'm hoping it will make a good length of scarf, if not I could join the ends for a cowl or start a new colour. So this project has three possible outcomes! A plain scarf, a plain cowl or a duo tone scarf.

Update: it's making a long enough plain scarf! One more ball to go. Sometimes a little enforced 'taking it easy' is useful! It's really pleasing to see this thrifted yarn turn into something I know I will use.