Wednesday, 29 February 2012

introducing the 'me' blanket...

I've decided on.... a granny zig zag! I had a vague idea that you could zig zag in granny style treble clusters so I googled 'crochet granny zig zag' and variations on that theme, and didn't have much luck. Seems it is more generally known as 'granny ripple' than 'granny zig zag'. It looks more like the latter to me.

It's one of those patterns that looks hideously complicated and off-putting to a beginner but once you've got the foundation row sorted it's even simpler than a granny square! I love the way it is more geometric looking than the other type of ripple (with dc rows, or u.s. sc).


I'm wondering how I'm going to edge this blanket, the row ends look so raggedy! I can see that the danger here is making any edging look like a frill (aaarggghh!).

...and my first row (red) is curling under so that's going to need attention too, so much to learn! These colours are absolutely 'me' so I'm indulging myself in a crochet blanket of my own on the basis that this design needs to be 'mastered' before I make one for someone else! However, poachers are lurking...the children are making appreciative comments, and it's been a while since they did that about woolly projects!

end of the month mosaic...

February 2012

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

gathering momentum...

It's a good feeling when your stash comes up with the goods - it eases the guilt of having purchased wool on a whim on far too many occasions! I had three huge balls of aran weight wool in natural, deep red and denim blue. I have no idea what I had in mind when I bought them; they probably just seemed like a good buy at the time and I've learnt that buying the odd ball or just a couple of 100g balls can be very limiting.

At the bottom of the basket of aran weight wool was quite a bit of a pale textured grey and a textured brown, so altogether I have roughly the colours I was aiming for (see previous post) and plenty for a one person sized blanket - these are the most used round here.

I would never have put brown with red normally but I've seen it done in textiles and it seems to work. It was tempting to go and buy a nice dark denim blue for contrast but I think I'll try and stick with this palette as it is.

On the subject of 'trying' I am persevering with a design I've not tried before.

All will be revealed tomorrow when hopefully I'll have something worth photographing!

Monday, 27 February 2012

looking for colour inspiration...

I've been wandering round the house, looking into the garden, picking up random magazines, leafing through my crochet books; all in search of a 'me' colour scheme for my next crochet blanket. Then right under my nose - this little pile of knitting WIPs I sorted out the other day and put into a basket could be just the answer! Red, off white and blue, with a few natural tones too.

Now all I need to do is dig deeper in my stash cupboard and find these colours in useful quantities and decide upon a style - ripple, stripes, granny squares, flowers in a square, hexagons... decisions decisions!

Don't you just love the way crochet brings out the designer in you? As a knitter I used to follow patterns religiously but I like the way crochet challenges my colour and layout sense and allows me to create something that is me, even if it is a bit trial and error!

Sunday, 26 February 2012

British Wool naturally...

If the house were on fire I wouldn't think to grab anything but the children and the dog, but I would hope to be wearing my favourite jumper!

I contemplated buying one of these jumpers from a nearby craft centre for quite a while before I actually bought one. They looked kind of unfashionable, rather bulky and the 100% wool would surely itch like crazy?

In the end I bought one with the intention of using it for bonfires in the garden. It was the best £15 I've ever spent on clothing. (They range from £10 sale jumpers to £25 for a man's jumper; dirt cheap and all the colours under the sun to choose from!)

I wear mine...
for bonfires and leaf raking
when the boiler breaks down
when we arrive home after time away and the house is cold
when the sunlounge (which serves as our year round living room) just won't warm up gardening on cool Spring days
evenings outside on caravan holidays
winter walks with the dog

Mr H has one too in rather fetching tweedy browns and greens...

...and because we know a good thing when we see it, *J* and *E* have bonfire jumpers too!
This is *E*'s in a deep plum (the sun washed this photo out a bit) and no photo of *J*'s because it takes a brave person to look for something in his chest of drawers!

So we may not look like the coolest family in the privacy of our own garden but we're certainly the warmest... and if you've ever wondered how warm a sheep feels in it's winter coat, I can confirm that it's 'toasty'.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

oh frog it!

Remember this? It was a bit of a love hate thing. loved the colours, loved the squares, loved the speed at which it was meandering along... wasn't sure about the raised dc (sc in usa) joining method.

It was rescued with a dose of 'mum knows best'. She simply said, 'oh I love this, the colours are lovely'. Whilst holding the back of it facing her! I mumbled something about it being the 'in' thing to do this kind of joining which she agreed with as long as the dc was on the back! Aaargh.

To be fair, I wasn't happy with the way it looked and took the scissors to my careful, fiddly, blinking dc joins and unpicked the lot! I am so glad I did, because it now looks like this:

...and when I've made a back for it, it will look something like this:

Reminds me of French patchwork quilts. Mmmh, now there's a thought. A whole blanket. C'est possible!

Out with the boys...

Trying out Blogger on a very small screen from one of our favourite cafe's.

Fizzy orange and free wifi keeping my wee man happy. The big Times crossword keeping Mr H happy. Lime and courgette cake works for me. The sun making everyone relax after a loooong week.

Friday, 24 February 2012

yesterday in pictures...

Morning discovery

Afternoon on the deck

(No, do not come over and lick the camera!)

Evening sunset at the stables

Thursday, 23 February 2012

a little gem...

It takes time to trawl through the 100's of apps on my ipod. Some are rejected when I read the reviews, others are deleted when I've had a go. Some I just stumble upon by mistake and they turn out to be little gems.

I thought I'd share this latest find with you... I'm sure there are similar things out there, but this is sooo simple, quick to download too, and free.

It's called Labelbox.

The old pond yacht is on our bathroom windowsill. Love the retro tape for that. What was it called? Dymo or something. Here are some more examples of labels...

The 'plastic' tape is cool. It goes on translucent, like sellotape. Love it.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

treasure in the attic...

Sadly not an invaluable stash of family silver, but treasure nonetheless...

I finally got round to packaging up *J*'s collection of Star Wars ships and figures for the attic. They were taking up a lot of space in his room and he's not played with them for at least a year. I blame the PlayStation! Just as I was having a last glance round our rather full attic I spotted 3 red foam notice board panels from IKEA circa 2005 or so, ah ha, I thought, blocking boards!

They are absolutely perfect and much better for smaller items than my previous fabric covered pin board which is rather large. Ideal for taking along on our next caravan holiday when I might be in the mood to finish the triangular granny bunting I started...oo, ages ago.


I managed to photograph this beech leaf encapsulated in ice just before it slipped from my hands, shattered into a thousand pieces and was then eaten by the dog. It's a really bad habit of his; eating snow and ice. It all turns to water and I sometimes forget that he needs to go out more often after a snow/ice eating session.

That was taken two mornings ago actually, today it's a whole new bright sunny day. The birds have an unfrozen supply of bird bath water, their feeders have been replenished. Fat balls hang from the branches of the plum tree. I've moved an armchair in our sunlounge into it's 'summer' spot which means I can pause there now and then with a basket of crochet by my side taking in the ever changing clouds moving over the fields and do a spot of bird watching too.

We get an amazing variety of birds and wildlife. We once had a spotted woodpecker - the white and black type with a red bit. I think it was a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. It cleared the garden of all other birds and took centre stage. It was spectacular.

On another occasion I opened our front door to an amazing sight; a huge bird of prey - I'm not sure which, but it was pretty big. It was devouring a pigeon, and even though I was a matter of metres away, with a dog, he didn't immediately fly away with his catch. I was frozen to the spot. No time to get a camera though unfortunately.

We also have regular hedgehogs, foxes, grouse, pheasants, owls that only Mr H can hear, and all the usual small colourful garden birds. Oh and far too many fat pigeons, not to mention the dozen white doves that live nearby - between the doves and the pigeons let's just say 'woe betide anyone who leaves the trampoline cover off!'

Tuesday, 21 February 2012


remembering a special Father in Law 20-2-2010

and a truly great Great Grandmother 17-2-12

and a fabulous big black dog called Jake 4-2-12

(we use the eco lanterns; biodegradeable with no harmful wire)

Monday, 20 February 2012

Uno, you know...

There's been a bit of a UNO craze going on at a certain school recently. I tried not to look too delighted when asked if I could possibly make a crochet card holder to go back to school with. It had to be a penguin-like, naturally.

Crocheted in the round until you get to the top of the pack and then work back and forth on a back flap to go over the top and down to the beak - decrease these evenly on both sides to form a triangular flap - I put a three chain loop at the point of this triangle which slips over the yellow heart shape button which represents his beak. (I know these aren't UNO cards, they were in a school bag today!)

This would have made a nice Christmas post! Snowy frames courtesy of BeFunky.

evoking a memory...

We had a lovely bonfire last night. Flames are so hypnotic. The smell of bonfires always takes me back to my childhood. We had a lot of bonfires back then. Raking huge piles of leaves to burn. Branches blown down in the wind. Cuttings from the wild Rhododendrons. Do you have a smell that reminds you of a good memory?

Sunday, 19 February 2012

colourful language...

I bought this book and this yarn yesterday and once home noticed how coordinated they were. I must be feeling distinctly blue and green at the moment. Blue about recent events and green as in 'new' to all this technology (I have yet to tackle twitter, RSS feeds, backing up my blog, turning off predictive text on my ipod...)

I didn't give colour too much thought until I started knitting. Crochet makes me think even more about colour. Blogging takes thoughts of colour to a whole new level!

Can you tell I've been playing with more photo apps? This is my 'teal' mosaic.

Having painted most of the last two houses in shades called hessian and calico I surprised everyone by choosing a deep teal colour for one wall of our dining room (it's pictured at the bottom of this post). I find it an uplifting sight.

Talking of which, our garden is littered with snowdrops and crocuses all at their glorious best. I'd have a nice photo for you but I've had a minor incident this afternoon which has driven me back inside and on to my netbook with my feet up instead of outside enjoying the sunshine and watching the dog training for the Olympic swimming team in the beck alongside our long narrow garden.

Note to self; when kicking an old football in the field for the dog to fetch beware of small, camouflaged tree stumps. It hurts when you kick them.

(I managed not to use any colourful language or turn the air blue)

Saturday, 18 February 2012

taking flight...

Conversation with an 11 year old boy in the car on the way back from cricket:

J: So is Nanny in heaven now Dad?
D: Yes she definitely is... with Grandad Walter and Jake the dog.
J: Will I go to heaven one day then?
D: Yes, hopefully when you're eighty or so though.
J: So I'll be able to visit Nanny and visit Grandad Walter and walk Jake the dog!
D: (by now swallowing frequently) Yes you certainly will.
J: I'll take his collar with me then.

Sometimes I am eternally grateful for Church of England primary schools. Heaven must be such a comforting thought when you're only eleven.

Mr H and I took Harvey to Whisby Nature Park this morning. It was very pleasant weather when we arrived and I was wondering whether my new friend (the ipod) was wrong about the rain forecast. Harvey had a whale of a time...woo hoo... water!

 ...and this was our view from the warmth of the cafe! we made it back with seconds to spare before a torrential shower. Phew!

Friday, 17 February 2012

that friday feeling...

I was writing this post when some sad family news came through. I don't need to talk about it here, but for those of you who are related, I'm going to 'keep calm and blog on' as a way to keep busy. Cleaning the house from top to bottom worked reasonably well for a few hours but there's nothing like blogging to soak up your time. So here's the finished post from earlier today...

It's Friday
Half term is nearly over
Last minute school sock shopping
A new lunch box
Haircuts for man and boy
A scuba diving lesson for E
More cricket training for J
Lunch at a favourite cafe
Hot chocolate for Mum
Coffee for Dad
An afternoon watching family films
The four of us in a row on our superking size bed
Warm and cosy while it drizzles outside
Keeping it simple

the year of the cushions...

As always, the multitude of alternatives creep into my mind when I start putting something together. I like the simplicity of these squares. It feels like a project I'd take on holiday just to dabble with when I got crochet withdrawal symptoms!

2012 looks set to be 'the year of the cushions'. For a former knitter and now keen crocheter I was slow to realise that the answer to my cushion dilemma lay with my yarn and hooks! Like most things in our house, we have an eclectic collection of cushions that do not have a common theme.

Mr H does not understand the need to harmonise the collection of cushions but nonetheless did not bat an eyelid when he came home to find all the covers removed and the inners piled high beside the sofa. Two big comfy covers were lining the dog bed (Harvey was very happy with them), several were off to the charity shop and some ended up in the bin. It was very liberating and now I have at least a dozen cushion covers to crochet. Happy days!

ps. send me your favourite quick and easy cushion links! I've just realised that cushions are pillows in the States. PIllows here are the ones on your bed. Slightly confusing.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

to dye for...

I know these tie dye throws aren't exactly rare, but the detail on this one amazes me. I've dabbled in tie dye at several stages of my life but never managed to come up with anything this clever. I'm thinking this was possibly done by sewing the design in place first? If anyone knows more I'd be interested to hear.

This fantastic throw/table cloth (whatever!) was a charity shop find yesterday. A bargain at £3. I don't have hoards of throws, table cloths or textiles in general so this will no doubt be a multi-use favourite. I'm not really a colour junky but I do get enthusiastic about indigo. It reminds me of jeans and the blue-black ink I used to use at school and still load my letter writing ink pen with.

One more photo? Oh OK, if you insist!

Making a mental note to have some fun in my summerhouse/craft workshop this summer with a tub of indigo dye and a pile of white t shirts!

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

cheats crochet cushion...

With a budding cricketer in our midst we are finding ourselves travelling a little further afield for training and matches. Training is all year round for *J* which is just the way he likes it. He lives, eats and breathes cricket. On a tournament week last year I gently coaxed him awake one morning and he woke with a start, saying, 'hey, you should have caught that!' Proof that his dreams are about cricket too!

What has this to do with a picture of a blue cushion? Well, today all four of us set off to a small town an hour away for some cricket coaching. Mr H stayed to watch while *E* and I went to explore this supposedly quaint town.

We quickly realised that killing 5 whole hours there was going to involve a very major portion of that time in Costa Coffee reading newspapers! We did indeed manage to kill 2 hours in that way with new crafty mags (for me) and fashion mags (for *E*).

The only places worth popping into in this town were of the charity shop kind, and lots there were too. I dithered over these lilac and blue crocheted doilies in lovely soft cotton because lilac is perhaps my least favourite colour and previously I just didn't 'do doilies'. They were all of 75 pence for the three (E's philosophy is always 'just buy them Mum'). By the time we got home I'd remembered a plain blue cushion cover - and half an hour of painstaking sewing later and voila! A fabulously cheery new cushion! (Teenagers rules say that I'm not allowed to use the words hip, trendy or groovy!)

I didn't hesitate for my other purchase of the day. More about that later. I need to take a decent photo of it.

Anyone noticed that there's a whole lot of 'cushioning' going on here?

tackling the hieroglyphics...

A few years ago I was impressed to find out that Mr H could actually knit, yep, for real. It seems it wasn't something he wanted to brag about. (The sight of him demonstrating still makes me chuckle now). In fact, he could knit better than I could at the time. Now that I'm getting to grips with crochet he is in total admiration of my new found skill. He will often joke that 'a row of half treble cluster double decreases would look nice in dk'. It's complete nonsense of course. He calls the patterns 'hieroglyphics' and to be fair, he's not far wrong.

This square (part of a throw design) doesn't seem too complicated now that I've completed it but a few things threw me along the way. I tried it first in a charcoal grey yarn and found it difficult to see the stitches - a big nuisance when you're learning a new pattern and keep having to check or count the stitches. I switched to a nasty white acrylic to correct that problem (just for sampling) and I reckon it shows up the design better in a light colour anyway.

The other issue crochet beginner's will identify with I'm sure, was realising the difference between working into a space or working into a stitch. It could be just me, but I tend to expect one or the other in a pattern and not both. This square has both.

Plus points:
Each square is a whopping 25cm x 25cm
(with a few edging rounds this might make a good cushion front)
It takes about 25 minutes to make one square
You could have a good size throw in just 12 squares
An ideal portable project
No colour changing makes for speedier progress but you could checkerboard the overall throw for a variation.

If I can find a sumptuous chunky yarn with a good drape (oo, hark at me with the jargon!) then I'll eventually make the throw:

Crochet in No Time by Melody Griffiths
Project title: Cosy Creamy Throw

There's a couple of completed throws on ravelry. Both look fabulous.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

what is love?

Not the most romantic of days... my man is in Strangeways Prison.

Well, OK, not as an inmate exactly, but he's working there today.

I have red roses for only the second time in my life. Quite touched about that (though a basket of red wool would have been equally admired!)

...and judging by the meat that's been taken out of the freezer this morning it looks as though he's going to cook my favourite meal, Spag Bol. Now that's love.

Monday, 13 February 2012

off the hook...starburst cushion!

My name is Juanita and I'm an Instagram addict! Instagram is an app - I only learnt what an app was quite recently - how behind am I? I'm renaming this cushion 'the starburst cushion' because it's probably not a 3 hour cushion anymore, and I am sure there are faster crocheters out there who could whizz up the front design in much less.

It looks very old fashioned despite using a much chunkier wool than they would have used in the old days (I think) but it looks very much at home in our eclectic sunlounge.

I finished the back this morning - just rounds of trebles, worked into the tops of trebles, it took ten rounds in the end. Quite economical on wool - the front weighed just 65gms, the back will have weighed about 100 or so (I forgot to weigh that for info). It would probably require about 200gms of aran wool in total, but that's only a guess.

I'm quite pleased with how much I've used my large 400g ball of 100% aran wool. I bought it simply because I liked it, with no idea what I'd make - so far I've crocheted two pairs of these mittens, and this cushion and I still have enough left for something else. It cost just a tenner.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

easy like sunday morning...

I've tackled all kinds of squares since I learnt the basics of crochet, but until this morning I hadn't tried this simple design. I love it for it's simplicity and lack of colour changing between rounds. 25 quick squares will fit a cushion that needs a new look.

These are my favourite colours and full of texture, mainly by Stylecraft - mixtures blue haze, denim nepp, mixtures denim, barley marl, pebble nepp and the ecru is an unimaginative brand with only a number.

It was an easy Sunday morning, with Harvey never very far away...

While I'm on the subject of cushions, I've decided that a fabric back to this cushion is a cop-out. It seems easier to attach two pieces of crochet together and insert a cushion pad before closing up than getting the sewing machine out and trying to figure out zips, buttons or some kind of closing mechanism.