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!