Sunday, 30 September 2012

one for the boys...

*J* is very complimentary about my crochet blankets but I have yet to make one especially for him. In the meantime I spotted a pattern for baby play balls in an old knitting magazine and realised how utterly simple they would be to make. In fact I just had to try it out to prove to myself that a mere 12 little crocheted pentagons would really make a spherical shape. My maths 'A' level was a very long time ago!

He is well past the baby stage but when he is not playing football or cricket for real he is hitting or kicking soft balls around the house (a few vases have been written off this way!)

In Manchester United colours I rustled him up a soft ball which he is really impressed with and kicking around the house as we speak.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

simple, natural, handmade...

Nope I just can't summon up enough enthusiasm for another crochet blanket or anything requiring major commitment and concentration. Must be the weather; very changeable here, sunny one minute and torrential rain the next.

Yesterday I dug out some cotton napkins I picked up for next to nothing (£1 for four!) and started jazzing them up a bit with a simple crochet edging. I think I originally had embroidery in mind for these but the crochet is probably just as cheerful and a tad quicker. I've got eight napkins and more than eight cotton colours to choose from so I shall do them all in a different colour.

To be honest we don't always bother with napkins at home but we do often have a bit of kitchen roll handy if something is a bit messy. Once I've finished these I'm hoping they will get used.

I'm sewing blanket stitch all round the squares of fabric first, fairly close together. This is ideal for one foundation stitch for each blanket stitch (ie. 1dc in each). After the foundation row I can finally do the simple edging: three trebles, miss 2 st, 1 dc, repeat to end.

2 down, 6 to go!

Friday, 28 September 2012

random crochet moments...

Loving my wool winder! I have wound a few scruffy balls from my granny stripe blanket stash. I started this earlier in the year and am only just able to cope with looking at it and working on it again. It'll be something of a memory blanket as most of the wools in it were given to me by my Nan and the colours were chosen with her in mind.

For now I'm not rushing into another big project so I shall just have this basket of wool and the blanket by the sofa for those random crochet moments...

Like those in front of the tv when your husband is in charge of the remote and has chosen yet another cookery programme to watch. Yawn! Or the odd ten minutes in between cooking various bits of the dinner. Or waiting for a large pot of tea to brew! Or whilst waiting for a heavy shower to abate before taking the dog out for a swim, oops I meant 'walk'.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

crochet for dogs...

Yikes, the dog has been crocheted! Well not quite, but he has benefitted from a sudden urge to crochet up some of my superchunky leftovers! A size 9mm hook and two evenings later...

Harvey would normally be modelling the new rug/blanket but he is currently covered from head to toe in thick mud. Thank you Mr Farmer for ploughing our field, it makes a small dog very happy!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

bargain book...

I do love The Works for selling quite random books, because every now and then a crochet book turns up and good ones seem few and far between.

I bought this one yesterday for £3 and it contains more than 30 projects. Lots are quick and simple. I think it's one of those books you need to apply your own imagination and yarn tastes to. The patterns provide a good starting point and negate the need for guesswork.

The zigzag bag looks appealing if only to have a go at a stitch pattern I've not tried before.

The beanie and mitts in chunky yarn look like they might be a good stash buster and a nice quick evening project.

The ruffle throw caught my eye in natural aran weight wool and they've suggested it would make a good shawl too.

There's probably something for everyone; scarves, corsages, jewellery, bags, pillows. Christmas presents?

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

thrifty finds...

I've always wanted a wool winder and today I finally found one. Not a wooden beauty but a nice little retro number which certainly does the job. I've only wound one of my untidy little skeins into a ball so far but it was pretty exciting stuff!

The newly wound ball (the brown yarn) can be seen in the little wooden pot I picked up in a charity shop today for next to nothing. I know you can't see it properly with a 'lomo'd' pic but its made of ash. Thankfully no varnish or stain has been used so it's wonderfully tactile. I love wood.

I can see whole mornings being spent winding all my wool leftovers into nice tidy balls.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

off the hook...aran afghan

So much easier taking a blanket photo with a willing model. *J* has been itching to get underneath this one since I started it. He liked the red wool of the last one but says this one is thicker, warmer and slightly bigger.

I still have several balls of aran left over but decided to do a discrete border in the end. I tend to introduce too many stitches when I do borders and they end up puckering the blanket. Two rounds of dc and I feel I have just about got away without puckering the edges so I thought I'd quit whilst ahead!

The decorative stitches have given it a nice substantial thick feel. It is incredibly warm, and the size is more generous this time, so all in all it is good timing for the chilly winter evenings.

Friday, 21 September 2012

a sneak peek...

Just a quick pic of my very nearly finished aran blanket. It's just waiting for a border and a proper photo! Prior to that though its keeping me warm as I convalesce on the sofa with a large box of tissues by my side. Blergh!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

pancake perfection...

How do you cheer yourself up when you're full of cold and can't crack open a giant Toblerone?

This pancake did the trick. Made with gram flour, cooked in a smattering of coconut oil, spread with a very thin layer of rapeseed honey and topped with banana and blueberries. Eaten in seconds.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

a mystery...

Why is it that the last three squares are taking twice as long as the nine squares I've already completed? A crochet mystery.

Other questions I am asking myself...

Why is my nearly twelve year old sitting on the end of my bed at 10pm eating ice cream?

Why did the dog roll in fox poo this morning? Had he mislaid his deodorant perhaps?

Why do cats sleep anywhere but their baskets?

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

deaf gerbils...

I've always wondered what was wrong with me and now I know. My spiral ganglion neurons are damaged!

I fear stem cells will be too late for me, but hey ho there were 18 deaf gerbils who can now hear again!

(can't do links from my iPad unfortunately, this article is from BBC News online)

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

tiny homes...

This delicious book nearly didn't arrive this morning thanks to Harvey who barked ferociously with his head through the cat flap and sent the delivery man running down the driveway!

Oops! I resisted the urge to laugh but instead ran down the driveway yelling 'he's not dangerous, don't worry!' Harvey doesn't usually get the chance to bark through the cat flap as he is usually out exploring streams and fields most mornings.

The poor chap was not happy but eventually came out from behind my car and let me sign for the package.

Books like this are equivalent to the most expensive luxurious box of chocolates you could dream up (especially so since I haven't had chocolate since April). This one taps into all my childhood and adult fantasies about 'dwellings'. At the risk of repeating myself here, I think some of the fascination stems from wanting a shed when I was a kid so I wouldn't have to keep trying to build dens out of scrap wood in the garden. The desire for a shed I think must have had something to do with watching too much American tv, in the days when we had three channels, when all the best films featured a log cabin in the forest.

Anyway, I love having a workshop shed now that I am an adult, I love the caravan and put the attraction down to 'living with the basics'. Being able to live, for a short while anyway, without the clutter that is normal home life.

There are 1300 photos in this A4 book so it is an absolute visual feast. This is going to be one well thumbed book!

Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter by Lloyd Khan

Sunday, 9 September 2012

family day out...

We decided to make the most of the fabulous weather while it lasts and visit somewhere we've never been to before. Just under 50 miles away is Wollaton Hall near Nottingham,set in 500 acres of grounds including a beautiful lake.

After a few grumpy teenage goings on (they weren't human until we had fed them Mc Donalds breakfasts) they gradually forgot to moan and started to enjoy the day.

The house was mainly stuffed animals and birds. A bit gruesome! Something you have to be in the mood for I think, and we were all much more inclined to be out in the open air! Though we all found the 'minerals' room fascinating.

We walked through the part we'd been told was where the deer could usually be spotted but I didn't hold much hope because they are such skittish animals.
I spotted two sets of antlers beneath some trees and we were able to get incredibly close without worrying them.

We walked round the lake with me avoiding the flocks of Canada geese (I really don't like ducks, birds, swans... Anything with a beak really. It was absolute bliss. The children, now almost the same height walked arm in arm at times which always makes me feel like something has gone right at least.

We had ice creams and drinks in the cafe courtyard but it didn't look too promising for lunch (we had that much later in Nottingham).

They filmed Batman here last year so we were expecting there to be an exhibition of photographs of the filming but alas no.

I hope we'll visit again, next time with a picnic.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

the simple things...

I finally got my hands on a copy of 'The Simple Things'. It's been advertised for quite a while and so I suppose I had high hopes. It was a bit of a disappointment. I tend to think simple living goes hand in hand with a few 'green' principles (maybe I'm wrong) and was at least expecting the paper to be of the lovely matt recycled type.

I wasn't expecting pages of expensive objects of desire either. How is buying new stuff complying with the title of the magazine? I understand the need for endorsing products but maybe a little more imagination is needed here?

That said, lots of the articles appeal to me, the magazine is nice and thick and you get plenty of variety for your money. A little bit of crochet too.

We will most definitely be making apple chutney using one of the recipes and the bounty from our apple tree.

Monday, 3 September 2012

simple living...

I'm having a well earned break after an active weekend. We felled a half rotten tree and took our side hedge down by 4 feet (it had been neglected for at least 5 years).

I can now sit on our deck looking out over fields of wheat and the sun will stay on our little patch for much longer rather than sinking behind the rotten tree at 6 or 7 or so.

I've got my simple rustic blanket on the go and I'm reflecting on just how many other things have edged nearer the simple lifestyle that I crave... here's what I came up with...

making all my meals from scratch without any refined products such as white flour etc.

Buying much less wool and then only British, ethical or recycled if I can.

Hardly ever going shopping unless its for something essential.

Using an organic veg box scheme and eating only what is in season.

Replacing worn out or broken things with secondhand, vintage or antique things (I recently chucked out two broken metal and plastic clothes airers and replaced them with an old fashioned wooden one).

Cutting down my magazine subscriptions to just one that I love (and one that was a gift).

Making our own jam (very small plum crop this year that only stretched to 4 jars).

Harvesting our cooking apple tree properly and giving lots away.

Turning the misfortune of a dead tree into several winters supply of logs.

Drinking only tea and water.

Growing my own herbs.

Growing sunflowers that the birds have really enjoyed now they have turned to seed.

Very rarely watching tv.

Giving heaps of old clothes to charity.

Having more picnics and less eating out.

There are probably lots more, some are just a continuation of things we have already done for years. Some of the simple ways to live will have to wait until the children leave home but for now I'm happy with our lot.