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?

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

quick crochet beanie...

I've been looking for our winter hats and gloves this last week and boy, wherever I stashed them would make a good place for the family silver!

No hats or gloves meant I had the perfect excuse to crochet something! (I'm thinking ahead to bracing walks along the promenade!)

This beanie worked up very quickly on an 8mm hook using just one 100g ball of Superchunky (Patons Shadow Tweed). I used double crochet throughout. I couldn't find a simple enough pattern so I just increased from a circle until I had about fifty stitches and then stopped increasing, doing just double crochets until it reached just past my ears (ie. I kept trying it on!)

I found a new app for photo editing this morning. Fun eh?

upcycled t-shirt...

If you haven't tried making one of these upcycled t shirt cowl thingies... grab an old t shirt now!

Mr H and I filled two charity sacks with old clothes from his wardrobe at the weekend including half a dozen old t-shirts.

I took a plain beige one and cut off the hem. I then snipped the rest of the t-shirt into similar loops of about two inches / 5 cm wide. One tug width ways and they curl up at the edges nicely. Group together and secure with a spare piece of t shirt (there are tutorials all over the internet). Voila!

The length varies according to the size of the t-shirt. You can plait the loops, use multi colours, chain small loops from sleeves, the sky's the limit!

I never knew how much fun it was to cut up your husband's clothes!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

cool stuff...

I've been on a mammoth tidying up mission these last few days. Call it a pre-Christmas clear out if you like. This year I think we'll be keeping it simple. I thought I'd share with you some of the things that have been a big hit with us...

These have all now been added to my Amazon Shop pages under 'cool stuff'.

Monday, 15 October 2012

room for a little one...

I've been wanting to try out the simplest form of crochet shawl ever since I managed my very first granny square; the treble cluster variety that is. Back then, coming up with a triangular shape was beyond me!

Today I looked at a couple of patterns and found mistakes in both so decided on a trial and error approach. A chain 1 in between side treble clusters and a chain 2 for the 'turning' clusters seems to work just fine.

It could turn out to be mind numbingly boring but on the other hand it might be just the thing to alternate with while I have the puff stitch snood on the go. I like alternating! (OK I may have a short concentration span!)

I'm finally using up some gorgeous Manos del Uruguay yarn I've had for ages. It looks like one and a half skeins worth so I will treble cluster away until the first whole skein runs out and save the half skein for some kind of border.

I love these variegated yarns but I've found that in crochet it's tricky to show it off without losing the crochet detail (if you know what I mean!)

I'm not really the shawl wearing kind but this pattern/ yarn should make a decent sized triangular scarf type thing.

...and the project is so small I could fit it in my coat pocket!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

crochet on the go...

I'm going on a little trip in two weeks time. Homeward bound! Sussex here I come! I can't wait. I'm taking Mr H's proper DSLR camera this time so hopefully I will be able to take some proper photographs.

I dug out my little brown suitcase, which you can just about see in this photograph. I bought it at a boot sale about twenty years ago, long before all the vintage buzz. My grandfather couldn't believe I parted with three whole pounds for 'that old thing' but it has been in constant use ever since. It's such a good size for one or two nights away, or as an additional case for books, crochet, netbook, etc. I like its 'boxiness' if that's a word; so much easier to find things than in a holdall.

I'm so excited about going away (minus kids and husband) that I've already packed a few clothes. It's not that I don't love them of course, it's just nice to be just me for a few days. No doubt when I return they will appreciate how quickly and efficiently the washing gets done, the floors get hoovered, things get magically put away, the dishwasher gets loaded and so on. Either that or it will all be waiting for me on my return!

So with the trip in mind I have started a nice simple crochet project to take with me. It's the puff stitch snood from Erika Knight's Crochet Workshop. This will be my second one but this time as a gift.

It's such a reliable pattern and seems to hold my interest despite the rows being largely the same. There's a lot of wrist twisting for each puff stitch but on the plus side the rows are short and you can easily pick it up and put it down in between other things (like washing, making lunch, etc.)

I'd forgotten how addictive this pattern is and I am half way through the project already but I have a cunning plan for if I finish before my trip... I'll simply start another one! I have several good candidates for a puff stitch snood this Christmas!

I just need to find the male equivalent and I'll have the whole family wrapped up in wool this Christmas!

Saturday, 13 October 2012

a crochet cushion for a VSP...

A VSP (very special person) has had a bedroom makeover just recently and needed a new, more manly bedroom cushion (grandad look away now). It's been impossible to photograph this subtle duck egg blue accurately but take it from me, it's a lovely colour!

If you're thinking of quick Christmas gifts cushions have got to be a winner. I have leisurely crocheted a square or two a day and less than a week later the 9 squares are ready to sew together.

I think I will try a new type of back this time; two panels that slightly overlap with button holes. Last time I just sewed the whole thing closed which isn't ideal if it needs washing.

The design looked a bit of a jumble before joining the squares but they are ever forgiving and look ok now. In fact this colour scheme goes quite well on our sofa!

Friday, 12 October 2012

postcards from the cat...

a crochet u-turn...

I hit a psychological block with my simple cowl. It was soft and pliable but it bothered me that it looked stiff and uncomfortable. It was in danger of being thrown on the UFO pile until I remembered some bag handles I've been hoarding for years...

...and the uninspiring cowl became a magazine tote! Woohoo! I'm so happy with this bag as it turned out to be perfect for the handles and for magazines with no planning whatsoever! It needs a lining really but I will probably do that when I have to get the sewing machine set up for something else. (The sewing machine is not my best friend!).

One project 'off the hook' means I can start a new project right?

Thursday, 11 October 2012

all is forgiven...

I feel a bit of a whinger after yesterday's post about crocheting for people you've never met! Mr H has just sent me a photo from his iPhone of his happy colleague wearing the flower brooch. It seems she liked it very much. Now that feels good to know.

I'll forgive him just this once!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

crochet flower brooch...

Call me fussy but I'm really not keen when my husband sells my crochet skills to complete strangers and then offers them a handmade something or other!

That's what he did just recently; admired a knitted flower a colleague was wearing and said, 'oh my wife could make you one of those!' Grrrrrr! I've never even met this colleague so how I am supposed to gauge her taste in knitted flower corsages (even if I did want to give up my time to make one!)?

I doubt this little crochet effort will fit the bill given that my husband issued the brief, ie. small and in dusky colours. Lots to go on eh?

On the plus side I did use a nifty little pattern from one of my books (200 Crochet Flowers, Trims and Embellishments, details on my amazon shop page) which didn't take very long.

I did before felting and after felting photo's but side by side they didn't look that different despite the fact that it shrunk considerably.

I like the way the centre is a little dome, it gives it a bit more of a 3D quality. A fun thing to add to a bag maybe?


One of the best things we've done this year is sign up for a local veg box scheme. It's a flexible system which we can alter online as we go.

I loathe food shopping almost as much as I loathe clothes shopping so having fresh organic produce delivered to the door feels like the ultimate luxury.

It's been a learning curve too. To begin with there were things I'd never seen before, like purple Kohlrabi!

The children are gradually coming round to squash now, having overcome their suspicions that it was closely related to the disgusting swede or even worse, the yam! To date I have done mainly butternut squash soup which has always gone down well.

Take a look at The Intolerant Gourmet (listed under blogs I like) for Pippa's latest recipe 'Roasted Masala Vegetables' which includes butternut squash amongst other things. I'll be giving this a whirl today, it looks delicious!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

homework I like...

I love 'junk craft'. You know the sort where you gather all the rubbish and snippets of things that you've saved 'just in case'? I have boxes of this and they do come in handy for the odd school project.

I'm not that old that we didn't have craft supplies for children in my day but it did tend to be mainly sugar paper and stars you had to lick and stick. Not terribly inspiring eh? I can remember doing an elaborate mosaic once using lentils, split peas, washers and shattered glass amongst other things.

Now that *J* is at the same school as *E* the same projects are popping up and quite frankly he needed a little help with this latest one. He laboured over the research and presented it all nicely on coloured paper. He did a design sheet of the features he planned to include... so I just did a bit of assembly, that's all.

It uses foam sheets, fabric, trim, an old stamp, sticky stars, ribbon and a small box lid, oh and large quantities of extra strong wood glue!

My last one got an A+ ;-)

Monday, 8 October 2012

a touch of Halloween...

Oops I started another project! Only a small one and it's finished so it doesn't really count right? Just a few granny triangles in orange and black. The holes make out two eyes and a mouth but that was accidental.

Yes it's a few weeks away yet, just getting in the mood!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

just doodling in wool...

Not starting another project, noooo! Honest! Just doodling in wool, seeing how these big flowery motifs work up in big wool. A truly, madly, wonderfully fun cardigan made up using different sizes and styles of crochet flowers; from Erika Knight's Crochet Workshop.

I just happened to have a bargain pack of 10 x Rowan Big Wool in my stash, bought years ago for £10 waaaay before I realised what 10 balls of this fabulous wool would normally cost! I would have bought the entire lot if I'd known!

So it is either going to become this mad cardigan thing which in all honesty would only get worn within these four walls or something from the Big Wool book of patterns which are all knits....

...but since I'm not starting another project it's a decision I don't have to make right now!

It's a fabulously mild autumn day with a strong whiff of bonfire smoke in the air, which reminds us that we still have lots of stuff to burn... If only we weren't all worn out or full of cold!

Thursday, 4 October 2012

a splash of red...

I did a spot of charity shop browsing this morning and didn't find very much but it was a lovely long walk into town from where I left the car and fabulous warm sunshine!

This table cloth caught my eye even though it would normally be too much decoration for my taste. I talked myself into it with thoughts of Christmas! A splash of red for only £2.

It's such a hassle getting the decorations down from the loft and usually by the time we have done so I have rustled up some homemade decorations anyway. I like the quick and effective type that you can just throw away afterwards - paper snowflakes, simple garlands, foliage from the garden.

A couple of crochet ideas are planned for this year... crochet bunting, nightlight jars and maybe some snowflakes. Not too ambitious eh?

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

book addict...

I confess to having a bit of an addiction when it comes to books. It doesn't help that MrH and *E* both love books too. Though *J* doesn't read as much he never complains if we find ourselves spending time in a large Oxfam book shop and always manages to find himself something.

So, whilst messing about with blog surfing yesterday and updating my blog a little I thought it would be a nice idea to become an Amazon affiliate and create a little book shop which you can access from my blog!

My proviso is that I only list titles that I own myself, or in the case of the novels, have actually read (some are still on the shelf but most of these get passed on). This will enable me to answer any questions you might have, particularly about the knitting and crochet books, when considering a purchase - I know from experience that Amazon's 'look inside' feature doesn't always tell you enough.

(Knitting books to be listed soon!)

For those worried about the technical aspect of it (and I am barely up to date myself) the page is put up by Amazon so I don't take any account details or money or anything like that. They offer a small percentage of the cover price for books bought through my blog and I get paid in Amazon gift vouchers. Not being a high volume blog I don't anticipate that being very much but it's fun to share my love of books!

Click on 'Amazon Shop' in the navigation bar just under my header to have a look. :-)

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

simple crochet...

I've now got a few 'simple' projects on the go: my granny stripe blanket, several napkins left to edge and now this chunky cowl. I saw something similar on my blog hopping travels but forgot to bookmark it. There was no pattern reference so I am just winging it and using the dimensions of the cowl I made from Erika Knight's Crochet Workshop (my favourite crochet book to date).

I like to flit from one thing to another and eventually things do get finished but feel free to leave a nagging comment if I publish a post about starting yet another project before I have finished any of these!

Oh and hope you like the header update! I had to dig out my netbook to update all the widgets and gadgets because I have been using blogger on iPad for posting which is very limiting (but quick).

size matters...

Yesterday was one of those restless days where far more housework got done than anything more pleasurable (like crochet).

Picking random leftover balls of wool that appeal to me at this time of year and considering what I could make with them finally produced a conclusion... size really does matter!

I could make countless random scarves or wrist warmers with odd 100g balls but if I want a generous winter cowl in one type of wool I'd run the risk of being caught short.

So in future, when I add to my wool supplies I think I'm going to go for those whopping 400-500g balls, they are much better value too. A lot of my projects this year have used these larger balls.

See the large ecru ball in yesterday's photo? I've doubled it up (it was only DK) and I've started a simple chunky cowl; 'cause a girl's gotta have one in every colour right? Looks like being a 2 or 3 evening type project.

Monday, 1 October 2012

a quiet day...

I'm having a soundless day thanks to a nasty blister in my ear. I quite days like these if I'm honest; it gives my brain a rest from trying to decipher what a certain sound is and where it is coming from.

Technically I could hear a jumbo jet taking off if I was standing on the runway. This example on posters in ENT departments always makes me laugh, such a useful thing, look left, look right, listen for jumbo jets, yes it's ok to cross the runway. Jeez good job I can hear jumbo jets taking off. I'm safe.

I don't find it relaxing to walk the dog without sound though. Fellow dog walkers have a habit of exchanging words whilst walking on by. 'Lovely day isn't it?' for example requires a 'yes isn't it' kind of answer. Whereas 'you wouldn't think it was October would you?' requires a 'no, I agree' type answer. You can see the nature of the problem; a bit of a gamble to try and bluff with a yes or no, and quite frankly just giving a friendly chuckle probably comes over as being a bit strange!

Luckily I got away with it this morning and didn't bump into anyone. The leaves have changed colour so quickly and prompted a dig through my wool supplies...

I'm thinking cowls, mittens, wrist warmers, simple scarves, hot water bottle covers. None of these should require a pattern should they? No just make it up as you go along!