Thursday, 13 December 2012

look who's in town...

Aw! Reindeer! I think I was the one most pleased to see the reindeer in town this evening! The children were cold and clutching new CD's they were keen to take home and download to their iPods; so it was Mummy standing there with a big smile on her face pointing out the cute little baby reindeer standing next to the huge Daddy reindeer!

I guess we are past the whole Father Christmas and Reindeer thing now. Boo.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012


The run up to Christmas is great for ploughing through my 'to do' list. Even though no-one is coming to stay I'm still preparing the nest for festivities and generally 'cosifying' the place (that isn't a word but I like it).

Cosifying takes a lot of energy so I try to call it a day round about 3.15pm which happens to coincide with the daily Christmas movie, huh, how convenient!

Trouble is I feel lazy watching a movie in the day time so I also have to crochet. The crochet gifts are all finished and wrapped. I needed something fairly straightforward (doing raised trebles whilst watching Christmas movies was ambitious for me!)... I stuck my head in my wool cupboard (it's only a small canvas thing in case you are imagining a huge French armoire or something!) and dug out the wool and pattern book for this circular cushion. I've no idea why I didn't get straight onto it shortly after purchasing the yarn; it has been in there for at least six months.

It's pretty bright and colourful but I can live with that because it is also quite tweedy and natural looking at the same time; like a big pile of crunchy autumn leaves.

It's a Rowan pattern using just trebles; the colours have fabulous names! Tractor, Trailor, Mini, Camper and Pick Up. In fact I'm using Lorry instead of Trailor; they must have run out of Trailor in John Lewis where we purchased them and Mr H said, 'go on, I'll treat you' which he is very good about actually. I am far more careful with money than he is!

So, round and round we go. I hope I'm not too bored by the time I fasten off and start the back!

Monday, 10 December 2012

making a start...

Five presents wrapped and quite a few to go! I can't show you the unwrapped pile for obvious reasons. This is going to be an all day job at the speed I'm going!

I really wanted pine cones instead of bells this year but the few pine cones we did collect are looking rather nice in a big Christmas bowl on the dining room table.

The huge roll of real bakers twine works out much better value at £10 for 300 metres than the £1 a metre red and white string you see everywhere at this time of year.

Despite my best efforts my wrapping never comes anywhere near Lili's standard. It must be twelve or thirteen Christmases we have spent with Lili (how has she put up with my brother for that long?) and every year, without fail, her gift wrapping has had the WOW factor!

Oops, the dog has taken a liking to the bells! 'The cat put it there!'

Sunday, 9 December 2012

you raise me up...

Woohoo!!! I'm over the moon! I learnt something new! I'm probably a little late in discovering raised stitches having strictly avoided all patterns that require them... so far.

Learning this new stitch came about accidentally though; I started a beanie for a male relative and got about seven rounds in when the pattern called for 'rtrb' and 'rtrf'. Uh oh! A quick search on YouTube and I was none the wiser but was beginning to realise that raised stitches were also known as 'round the post front and back' which had more search results.

I don't find it easy to follow YouTube tutorials especially without subtitles but it worked out on this occasion. A determination to produce this rather cool beanie helped!

The pattern is from Inside Crochet magazine (issue 35, November). It's called 'Echo Hat'. I chose a charcoal grey but it would work just as well for women in another colour.

The yarn required is aran weight on a 5mm hook and it takes just 24 rounds to complete. You do need to concentrate though. I unravelled half a round at one point because I was paying too much attention to yet another Christmas movie!

Now the only problem I have is wrestling it from *J* who modelled it for five minutes and doesn't want to give it back!

Friday, 7 December 2012

cosy presents...

I've finally made something I am confident enough to give as a present! It feels like the last five years have been somewhat experimental rather than productive. I spent the first three years knitting and now I'm happy to have finally learnt how to crochet; I knew straightaway there would be potential for gifts with crochet. Knitting seems to take longer and be less forgiving.

I road tested this snood pattern first and when it got cold and I started wearing it a lot I decided to make two more for the women in my family. *E* strangely enough doesn't want one, not even in black. I'm glad she told me, that saved a lot of work!

The oatmeal one is for someone who keeps saying how lovely and warm my snood looks. Yes indeed I wanted to say, so will yours be!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

off the hook! shawl

Remember this? I started it way back in October as a convenient, simple travel project. When I got back from my travels it got pushed to the back of my wool cupboard and forgotten about.

Yesterday I had an urge to finish a work in progress so I dug this out and watched a soppy Christmas movie. I finished the project before the end of the movie!

For a shawl it should probably be a lot bigger but since I am unlikely to wear it as a shawl (more bandana style) I think it has turned out an ok size. I only had about a skein and a half of this scrumptious yarn having used the other half up for a knitted pouch. I will dig that out sometime too because it'll make the ideal storage bag for the shawl.

The yarn is Manos Del Uruguay Silk Blend in a colourway called 'Aurora'. When I looked this up I realised that the prices have gone up drastically since I bought my two skeins.

I'm coming to the end of my third Erika Knight snood, two of which are for presents. I don't think either recipient reads my blog so I may post a photo tomorrow.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

memory lane...

Most days I bemoan that we live in such a technological age, especially when it comes to the children and I am torn between letting them live 21st Century lives and monitoring all the computer/gaming/twitter time they spend online.

Occasionally I am grateful for email and FaceTime given that the telephone has long been out of my capabilities.

However, I did recently have the thrill of finally finding out the name of the book that left a lasting impression on me when I was about ten, through the power of the Internet.

The Puffin Book Club was as exciting as Christmas. I would study the A4 sheet in minute detail; pondering how many titles I could ask for and not be seen as greedy.

Mrs Pepperpot was a favourite and The Adventurous Four, Famous Five and Secret Seven. Now and then a stand alone book would catch my eye. Several decades later and I wished I could remember the name of one such book. I only knew that it featured the Catskill Mountains. I googled in vain. I left it for several years and now, with the explosion of marketplace traders on Amazon I have finally found it. It's called 'My Side of the Mountain' by Jean Craighead George and it is about a boy who runs away from New York and survives on his own in the mountains.

I think this book is what sparked the many adventures my brother and I had in our large and wooded back garden pretending we were in the wilderness! We were allowed to light our own camp fires and were taught basic fire safety. In those days you could buy a cheap penknife from the newsagent with your pocket money and not an adult in sight!
*E* can't even buy a pair of children's safety scissors in WHSmiths these days and I know that for a fact because she tried to; along with coloured paper and glue for a school project. I had to intervene. Honestly, no common sense applied here.

I have ordered the newer cover version for *J* who is nearly 12, hoping that a little bit of the magic will be passed on. (The last time I showed them how to light a good campfire they were less than interested). One of the fascinating things the boy does in the book is make twig whistles. I never did manage to make one myself but I might have another go next summer, thirty years on!

Several of the children's presents this year have been deliberately non technological. For *J* I have bought The Stick Book and a safety knife for whittling (he doesnt read my blog!) The knife has a locking feature that prevents the blade from closing on your fingers. I think we'll just start with twig toasting forks for marshmallows!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

hooked on murder...

I really enjoyed The Friday Night Knitting Club many moons ago when I first started to knit. I didn't like the sequel as much and found it hard to remember who everyone was.

After a bit of a search I haven't come up with anything similar for crochet fans... except this murder mystery series written by Betty Hechtman. The main character is a widow called Molly Pink who owns a book shop, or bookstore as they say in the States.

Has anyone read them? There are five altogether I believe.

Might be worth a try!

Friday, 30 November 2012

pom tiddly pom pom pom...

Aren't these just the thing to make whilst watching weepy Christmas movies (that they started showing way back in October!)?

These Clover Pom Pom makers are foolproof; I never did have the patience for more than one made using the cardboard circle technique!

Meanwhile we have 24 felt mittens ready and waiting for the Christmas countdown. I'm ashamed to say that I bought something I could easily have made...given a little more time. My 'to do' list is as long as my arm and includes some ambitious crochet gifts.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

random acts of craftiness...

Rather than make a fabulous felt advent calendar or whip up some red and white Pom Pom garlands (both on my to do list) I have been cutting and sticking non Christmassy things.

Much to Mr H's alarm I recently bought a large bag of wooden bricks from a charity shop for next to nothing. I said I was sure I could make something with them and hastily thought of a few ideas on the way home!

Messing about with patterns and colours I hit upon the idea of picture blocks. I remember having some myself and still have the little wooden box they came in, but sadly not the blocks.

Most sets seem to have a different picture on each face of the block but I'm leaving this set with just the one. It seems a shame to cover the coloured blocks up completely.

Now what to do with the rest?

Friday, 23 November 2012


It's been a muddy week in more ways than one. It's not just the dog bringing in half of the field on his fur, the cat has been decorating the white windowsills with tiny paw prints too. Now the children are bringing home unidentified muddy objects...

(They both did really well in their respective cross country trials. *E* came 32nd out of 129 and *J* came 18th out of 126. *J* says he's not sorry he missed out on being in the cross country team by 8 places because its not as much fun as football and cricket; running for miles in mud, wind and rain, not fun?)

Thursday, 22 November 2012

it's all sausages...

I've had a crochet break this last week or so. A resting of wrists. On the plus side it meant I could have a leisurely browse through back copies of crochet magazines, crochet books and websites for patterns. (The next best thing to actually crocheting!)

When I learnt to knit I made mainly toys to begin with. The Jean Greenhowe patterns are so clearly written and don't use any off putting techniques for beginners. My children were smaller and loved these creations.

Now that I mainly crochet (knitting is too painful) I've hardly made any toys at all. In fact, despite the many amigurumi patterns out there I don't think many of them quite match up to the magic of Jean Greenhowe. Just my personal view.

The choice is even narrower if you can't manage a size 2mm hook and 4 ply yarn. I found that was a popular choice for small amigurumi.

Anyway, here's what I found in the end...

A Dachshund! He's already part of the family. The children have named him Sausage (such an original choice!). He likes naps on the sofa, Judge Judy and chocolate chip cookies. He'll roll over for a tummy rub anytime!

Harvey is not at all sure about the sofa privilege.

I used an aran weight wool and 5mm hook. He's about 30cm long. It took two evenings.

The pattern is a free from Lion Brand. I modified the nose because I didn't like the huge one the pattern offered.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

crafty things for teens...

This seemingly random selection of digits was *E's* favourite buy at Fred Aldous. £1 per letter.

You Me At Six (you knew that right?). Soon to be adorned with collage, paint, whatever takes her fancy.

The little artist I nurtured by introducing her to crayons as soon as she could grip will be one of their screaming fans at Wembley next month! Surely it was five minutes ago when I carried her in a little papoose?

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

retro photo booth...

How many of these have you got tucked away in photo albums? I've got one with a Canadian cousin (I must have been 14ish) and one with a school friend, I think I even have one with an old boyfriend too (don't tell Mr. H!)

That's me on the right hand side of the bottom strip. I really do hate being photographed!

My children, on the other hand, love it!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

the country mice visit the city mice...

We ventured into Manchester this weekend, all four of us.

Visiting Fred was the main purpose; Fred Aldous. The children were less taken with the vast choice of art and craft supplies and most impressed with the vintage black and white photo booth. Not only is it black and white but you get 4 different poses!!! (I hadn't even noticed that modern ones give you the same pose four times - I must get out more!)

After lunch we braved the crowds and looked round the Christmas market, which is a lot like our own in Lincoln. You can see the sea of heads in one of the pictures. We held fast to one child each and shuffled through the crowds, managing to buy a couple of things along the way (will photograph soon).

There was an awful lot of food and drink stalls, mainly German it seemed.

Cities are so exhausting. Both the children fell fast asleep on the way home, and I may have had a small snooze myself!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

nearly there...

This has been a perfect application for decopatch. The red floral design I chose in the end has covered up all the scratches and scuffs nicely. The glossy glue has given it a nice protective sheen which will cope with new knocks and scuffs well I am sure. In fact it looks like it was manufactured this way now!

I haven't got enough of the red decopatch paper to do anymore covering up (and the remainder of the case would be a bit fiddly anyway) but I think it needs a nifty luggage tag or something to finish it off. Maybe even a crochet flower charm (I know I'm not a flower person but I could bend the rules a bit here!)

It turns out that *E's* blue version is exactly the same size, not bigger as I originally thought. If my children were 5 and 8 all over again they could have had one each (the blue one with a geometric boy design of course).

Maybe one day I'll have grandchildren! 'Ugh No!' says *E*!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

crochet trim...

Here's the crochet trim we picked up on that recent bargain hunt! I've no idea what I'll use it for yet but I know it will be £1 well spent.

Friday, 9 November 2012

vintage bargains...

Leaving the men to do manly things (involving football) *E* and I visited my old selling ground recently. A huge site with hundreds of vintage, antique, salvage and junk dealers.

It can be overwhelming and you can lose a whole day in just one building but it helps if you know where to look for what you're after.

I was looking for a small shelving rack for *J's* cricket trophies and anything cheap and cheerful. *E* likes to look at the costume jewellery.

We came home with the perfect trophy shelving for £8 (pictures to follow when Mr H has fixed it to the wall), a 3m length of natural crochet trim (£1), a vintage wooden ruler (20p) and this fabulous vintage suitcase in bright red for £1.

*E* already has this suitcase in blue but slightly bigger and not so bashed up. She uses it regularly for weekends away.

Mr H doesn't quite get the vintage thing and asked why we were bringing home more junk after spending a week chucking out junk! Killjoy! When I explained the potential for beautifying this little find with decoupage paper and using it as storage he kinda came round to my way of thinking.

A small stack of these little cases with various decoupaged lids in the corner of *E's* room would look cool methinks.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

quick and easy reindeer...

I was clearly in a reindeer mood yesterday! An offcut of fleece fell out of my fabric cupboard whilst putting away some leftover ribbon and I instantly thought of making a reindeer cushion. How weird is that?

I sketched out a shape on two pieces of A3 paper taped together, pinned it to two thicknesses of fleece, cut it out and sewed it all up leaving a tummy hole for stuffing.

The blanket is a piece of old shrunken cardigan with needle felted swirls. The whole thing was done in an afternoon.

Just the thing to do after raking leaves and preparing a bonfire for the weekend. Harvey helped of course, dragging large branches up the banks of the beck for me. He really gets the whole bonfire building thing! Normally he would wait for me to throw the branch for a game of fetch but when we build bonfires he just gathers as much twig material as he can find. Clever eh?

Needless to say no-one in this household is very impressed with my reindeer. Having to put it away after Christmas was mentioned. Well yeah, the same as any other Christmas decoration then. Once upon a time he would have been named and squirrelled away to a bed full of other stuffed creations.

I like him.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012


Hamster no-name is settling in well. She is loving her wheel and climbing on the roof bars commando style. After exerting herself her nose glows bright red but alas 'Rudolph' is not in the running for a name.

*E* is delighted that she is weeing in one corner and one corner only. 'See? I've house trained her already!' Um, yeah, if you say so.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

14 weeks old...

We have a new baby in the house! She's a gorgeous peachy colour and sleeps all day. Yet to be named; suggestions welcome!

I finally succumbed to the hamster thing. I figured at nearly fifteen years of age *E* could manage the responsibility. We look at them every time we go to the pet shop for cat and dog food and last night we spotted this gorgeous little thing who was wide awake and doing Spiderman impressions on the roof of her cage.

She's an absolute character with no fear whatsoever. She thinks nothing of climbing on top of her wheel and then spinning off. She needs a name to suit her daredevil nature!

I must admit the cat is a worry, especially as she is a brilliant mouser. The hamster cage seems pretty secure and the bedroom door will always be firmly shut. Will I still worry? Yes. Dead animals and me just don't get on, dead headless animals require a husband or father with a good stomach.

When shall I break the news to my Mother that we'll be arriving for Christmas with a cat, a dog and a hamster?

Monday, 5 November 2012

him and I...

Whadyamean I can't dry off on the cream carpet?

He would, he really would.

P.S. this dog is usually black and 'white'.

Friday, 2 November 2012

a bit of a catch up...

I seem to have lost my blogging mojo since returning from my trip down South. The perils of leaving two children and a husband behind I guess. It's taken me quite a while to clean up the mud and dust that the dog creates when he is let through to the carpeted areas too soon. It's something Mr H and I don't see eye to eye on; literally I think because his eyes are not as good as mine when it comes to household dirt.

On the plus side it prompted a bit of an early spring clean and a dozen sacks were sorted for the next charity collection, which in our area is at least once a week.

I didn't take any photographs of autumn beaches and boarded up beach huts, it was just too cold and wet to venture down there.

Instead Grandad and I took a drive out to Surrey where I have lots of precious childhood memories. In the village Nan and Grandad used to live in we only needed to take a short walk to bump into half a dozen relatives. I used to think that was so amazing. I never quite knew whether they were Nan's sisters or Grandad's brothers back then but of course I do now.

We called in on as many as we could fit in a day. Each of us congratulating the other on a successful two way conversation after each visit only to discover that neither of us had heard much at all. We got renamed 'bluff and double bluff' when we returned to Sussex.

In fact there was some concern about the two of us setting off in a car together since we both need to lipread and one of us was behind the wheel of a car! Not a good combination but we did ok.

Mr H and I celebrated a wedding anniversary whilst I was away. Hence the photo below of my fabulous present. I'm not big on bling and I like nature and natural materials so the little wooden leaves on this necklace by Tatty Devine were right up my street. Mr H received cherry wood cuff links which he's very pleased with too. We just do small things for anniversaries.

Well we have had a very late October half term this year. The children go back to school on Monday, but not before yet another shoe buying expedition (tomorrow). *E's* turn this time. Oh joy! Boys are so much easier.

It's been a nice week actually. We've done manageable things. Yesterday we treated ourselves to the latest Trivial Pursuit family edition. I think the adult one might have been better because some of the questions were a bit too easy and the game rather short but we played it twice to make up for that. With candles lit and bowls of popcorn, the dog sleeping on his own chair and the cat sleeping on Mr H's lap it was a lovely cosy scene. Why we only ever saved that game for Christmas before I don't know!

Meanwhile I am declaring today a pj day. I'm staying in my tartan flannelette pj trousers all day so there!

Monday, 22 October 2012

perfect timing...

I've had a lovely peaceful day. Scented candles, an amazing scented bath, birthday greetings from all over the world (well cousins from Oz) and when I popped down the driveway to get the post... my magazine had arrived! Not only that but this month's freebie is a crochet kit. What a perfect day.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

a scrumptious treat...

It's something of a miracle not eating chocolate, cake, biscuits or sweets since April. It's sometimes difficult when there's a box of something being passed round during a film but otherwise I like my treats to be of the fruit or wool kind.

Mum understands this totally; the other week she visited with a bag of large black grapes that tasted heavenly. She observed and I agreed that it was the equivalent of buying me chocolate.

Mr H is also understanding and today he took me out for lunch with a diversion via our local wool shop. It was all a bit pricey but with a pattern in mind I chose two balls of sock yarn in delicious autumnal shades.

With treats like this who needs chocolate?