Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Thrifted crochet pattern...

It's another beautiful day today. I had to pick up some art materials for E this morning and also popped into a couple of charity shops. Oxfam have only just started to throw random balls of wool into a basket in the corner for 49p each. I picked up a useful quantity of cotton mix DK yarn in a tasteful denim blue. Cotton always comes in handy and if all else fails it will make nice face cloths.

I also bought two balls of Wendy Fusion in fantastic sea blues. These might be made into another crochet stool cover for the kitchen. The existing one is proving popular.

MIND had a huge tray of knitting patterns. Lately I've found that crochet patterns are few and far between but today I got lucky, for 30p I have twenty three crochet edging patterns. Bargain! All the examples look they were made up in crochet cotton, the very fine kind. I've done a sample of no. 23 up in DK. I think I might do a sample length in all 23, just for the hell of it. It will be a nice project to do next time we go away in the caravan.

Animal photo's, just because. Harvey settling for just his nose on M's lap if not the rest of him. Mollie claiming the wool cushion as soon as it was put outside in the sun. Riley on his favourite chair.

To finish off the day we have not one but two cricket matches. A school match and a club match. The flask is ready, the tin mugs are packed. I can sit through any number of hours of cricket as long as I have a plentiful supply of tea!

Monday, 28 April 2014


We had a great weekend and yet I didn't take a single photograph! On Friday we set off in the caravan despite the pouring rain and gloomy forecast. This is what we do in Britain. J had two men's cricket matches to play and both at the same ground, just over an hour from home. It made sense to stay overnight and have a mini break at the same time.

The first match was rained off due to water logging from the night before. Saturday was nice and mild with only the occasional shower so we stayed at the site and played cricket (of course), frisbee and foxtail and took the dogs for a nice walk in the forests around the Belvoir Castle area. It was stunning countryside. We are planning a visit to the castle next time.

On Sunday the match went ahead. J played well. Although it was a 1st XI match; a men's team they generously gave J three overs and he took a wicket. He's really enjoying men's cricket despite his early worries about being just thirteen. I was pretty worried too but having seen him stop a few fast balls at short mid on I realised he could handle himself. I think they put him close to the fielding action assuming he couldn't throw in from the boundary. When they realised he could they made use of him accordingly.

When we arrived at the site and put up our porch awning in ten minutes and then put the kettle on, the poor bedraggled Duke of Edinburgh girls had just out up their tents in the pouring rain. We did offer hot chocolate all round but apparently they weren't allowed! Not only that but the next day they had to pack up their tents, take them on a hike and come back to the same site only to put the tents up again! I didn't think that was teaching them economy of energy at all.

This morning I woke to a bath completely full of dirty laundry. Cricket kit, bedding, towels, clothes. It's taken four loads to get through it. Once that was under control I was in the mood for a long walk. I'd have to look back over my blog posts to work out how long ago it was that I was having difficulty leaving the house alone. I've come a long way.

There have been a couple of unpleasant incidents in my life that have contributed to making me nervous in the middle of nowhere on my own but I'm determined to make the most of the fresh air and countryside. Today's walk started off through fields, into woodland, through a nature reserve, more fields, alongside a river and back through more fields. I came across just one walker, a man, I relaxed when I saw he had a dog and not an axe! M says the dogs would protect me. Pah! Unlikely.

After two hours Harvey was starting to take short rests in shady long grass. It was quite warm and the wasn't much of a breeze. Riley, meanwhile, had rolled in fifty different types of fox poo. I could smell him from 100 yards away! A long splash and swim session in the river did nothing to get rid of it hence the first photo. Bath time, with bubble bath and the sweetest smelling shampoo we could find. Unfortunately the fox poo smell still wins hands down. Harvey, who went very curly on drying out after his swim just collapsed into his crate bed. I did the same, on the sofa with a cup of tea and a book!

Tuesday, 22 April 2014


I want to thank whoever dreamt up toasted marshmallows.

Red sky at night...shepherd's hut's on fire.

Walking is therapeutic, it's official. Walking with your family is even better.

Boys are profound, they just don't always demonstrate it in words.

We trespassed this weekend and were charmed by this private lake. Jake especially.

Gluten and dairy free champagne truffles are AMAZING.

The day the children go back to school and the husband has an extra day off work the heavens open.

I'm on my third cold this year. How is that fair?

It's no wonder our garden is always neglected. We have far too much fun elsewhere.

We could have joined the coast bound traffic yesterday but had a better time playing cricket in the village... and frisbee... and foxtail... and the dogs were fantastic fielders.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Crochet floor cushions...

This is a tale of two parts.

Part one: After a recent sort out I had two very large feather cushions hanging around. They are huge floor cushion sort of size. They were once used by E and J to sit up in bed against since they had beds without headboards. For different reasons they are now surplus to requirements. They can't be stored anywhere so they were destined for the charity pile.

Part two: Long ago, when I was just a knitter but had ambitions to be a crocheter too I used to pick up random crochet blankets for a song in charity shops. I had the daft idea that the dogs, and maybe the cat would look cute fast asleep on a crochet blanket. In reality I couldn't quite bring myself to destroy them in this way, and believe me they would have only lasted a week or so before becoming too bogged down with mud to even put in the washing machine. So the blankets got used for long journeys, caravanning etc but they were a bit on the small side to be cosy. So they ended up drifting towards the charity pile along with the cushions.

Then one day, trudging across muddy fields with the dogs and randomly thinking of crochet (as you do) I thought... BINGO! Big cushion covers! They turned out to be a perfect fit. I gathered the four corners first and secured them with wool. I then whip stitched down the four seams. Done. They took about ten minutes each. They happen to make the most comfy back rest for sitting long ways on the sofa with my feet up (on one of my recycled wool blanket cushions). Bliss.

Here's the other one, front and back shots. Disgusting colour scheme but very comfy cushion. I can see E using these as extra seating when she has a group of friends over.

My kind of weekend...

I just love the way my hounds behave when we go for a walk. Riley barks at Harvey in excitement. Harvey tears off at 100mph. Riley stays much closer to me, trotting, sniffing, rolling. They both just have to investigate any trickle of stream or boggy ditch. They come close when they can hear traffic on a nearby road. They are a bit like having small children but dirtier. They really do make me smile.

I may miss my home county but when the sky is blue and the fields are full of colour it's not a bad second place. Even better is the fact that we don't meet a soul on this walk. I love that.

Today J and a friend are off to watch a football match. M has taken E to watch her boyfriend play cricket. I'm guessing he might not be as keen to come and watch her matches but we shall see. These arrangements leave me home alone which suits me fine. I've buzzed round doing housework at the speed of lightning. I've walked the dogs across the fields. I've taken them for their daily dip, just a paddle but it gets most of the mud off. Harvey is wrapped up in a fleece blanket. Riley is considerably tougher and doesn't shiver.

That leaves the whole afternoon completely free to chill out. I've nearly finished my latest book; The Brave by Nicholas Evans, it's about a boy obsessed with Westerns who eventually goes to live in America and has real life experience of the film making industry. Actually I think I'd be enjoying it more if  it was written from his Mother's point of view. The trouble with some male authors is their use of 'bloke' terminology. As an author does he really need to equate a non sexual pleasing event with a sexual reference? Not really. Not that I'm a prude, I just find that sort of thing ridiculous. Apart from that it's a good book.

When I start reading a lot the crochet seems to fall by the way side. I'm forcing myself to pick up the pebble beach hexagons every now and then and that seems to be my limit at the moment. I'm just not in the mood for anything too challenging. Goes like that sometimes I guess.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Probably the best tea towel in the world...

Probably the best tea towel in the world. Oh yes. This is the spitting image of Riley. Raggedy ears and a doleful expression. One that usually says, 'don't even think of leaving me on my own'.

Purchased from a shop in Oxford's Covered Market. Far too good to actually be used as a tea towel so I think I may stretch it over a canvas and put it up in the kitchen by the hooks for the dog leads. Drat, it will need an iron too; something I'm usually pretty good at avoiding.

NB. The colours in this second shot are much more accurate.

Thursday, 10 April 2014


Just when I had been craving cultural input we get the chance to go to two venues in one week. Yesterday all four of us, plus E's friend, went to Salts Mill near Bradford. It was a treat to see some Hockney work even if it was mainly iPad portraits (and despite the fact that he's not one of my favourite artists).

Today I visited Oxford. it was a tag along arrangement. M was working in the magistrates court all morning and I had three glorious hours to wander. I know all the nooks and crannies, I know all the parks like the back of my hand. I know how to avoid tourists, and boy, there were hundreds there today. I've been to the museums many times over. Today I pretended I was a tourist. It was great. I obviously didn't convince anyone though and got stopped four times for directions. It was just like the good old days when I lived there.

Nothing much has changed. The Covered Market is pretty much the same. It was the right day for the Gloucester Green market. The little side streets with interesting shops haven't changed much either, and thankfully the Natural History Museum hasn't changed. It's still fabulous. There were quite a lot of small children clutching Easter Egg Hunt sheets today and the older children were concentrating on a Dinosaur trail. It took me right back. E loved the place when she was small but wasn't so keen on the Pitt Rivers, which is the bit I was most interested in today. Having had a recent binge on Westerns it got me thinking about all the fabulous beadwork, textiles, clothing and so on associated with Native American Indians. It was hard to take photographs because it has to be fairly dark in there to preserve the artifacts.

M finished a bit early and we had time to sit in an outdoor cafe and watch the world go by. It was so warm I've even caught the sun! There will be further work at this court on the same case. I'll be tagging along again.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

A quilted mat...

Phew. Finished! Very glad I stuck with it too. I learnt a lot. The trickiest part was as I feared; the edging. It required creating a long strip with folded down sides and it was a bit of a nightmare. It wasn't difficult doing the hem stitch on the back but the corners are a bit dodgy. The next time I do something like this I think I'll try a different method of edging or a pre creased bias binding.

I learnt that pre printed triangles are a faff. I think I will stick to squares next time. I learnt that sewing through two layers of cotton and some wadding wasn't as difficult as it sounded. I learnt that hand sewing isn't too tough on my hands and I can't work out why knitting causes pain after a few rows. I learnt that I have more patience now that the children are older. I'm no longer afraid to start something while they are in the house in case I'm needed to entertain them. It's a milestone.

I'm feeling quite enthusiastic about using up some of my fabric supplies now. I know it will feel so much better having the fabric turned into useful things rather than folded up in a cupboard for a rainy day.

Monday, 7 April 2014


It's a soggy day here in Lincolnshire. The dogs and I have been for a very muddy walk across the fields, followed by a quick dip in the stream. The dogs are literally steaming next to the radiator in the kitchen and the aroma is less than fragrant.

With everyone else out of the house I decided to bite the bullet and pull open the doors to my fabric cupboard. It isn't as plentiful as my wool stash but it's probably got everything I need to try a little patchwork.

I pulled out a few blues, plenty of denim and some linen coloured remnants. I must admit that the sight of material that Nan passed on to me is always emotional. I've Nan to thank for the florals in this selection which will contrast nicely with the denim and stripes.

So... I looked at this pile for a little while and then I realised that I really need to ease myself gently into this 'new to me' craft. I dont want to use the good stuff until I know what I'm doing. I dug a bit further into this narrow but deep cupboard and located the box containing the Klutz book; Quilting. Klutz is how I learnt to knit and also provided the simple projects when I was learning to crochet.

As you can see in the top picture this book comes with lots of bits and pieces; fabric for three projects or more if you choose the smaller items. Cotton, pins, thimble, scoring tool, needles, templates, binding and wadding.

As well as some half finished patchwork panels I also found these leftover or sample hexagons cut out and paper pieced by Nan. I've put a thimble in this picture to show how small they are. Tiny! I definitely will not have the patience or the skill to sew pieces that small. I will, however, try to incorporate them all into a small panel for a pincushion or hotpad or something.

Just look at these 'cathedral window' panels Nan made. Wow. Looks extremely complicated and fiddly. The square one I can make into a small cushion.

I'm starting at the very beginning using squares and hand sewing them into strips and so on. I'm loving this scoring tool (more familiar to me through use with paper) it flattens the seams which means I don't have to get the iron out. Genius.

The colours are a bit bright for my taste and whatever I make this square panel into it will need to be hidden in a drawer when not in use but it will be a good introduction to the parts I'm most unsure of, namely wadding, quilting and edging.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Modern Rustic...

Another school holiday has crept up on me. I could have sworn I had another week of peace and quiet. Oh well. There was only one thing for it... stock up on inspirational reading matter. I just love this latest offering from Country Living. Modern Rustic. I think I've always been a fan but never realised it had a name. 

It's a thick publication and costs a little over twice what the magazine costs but it's jam packed with photographs to inspire. M has already spotted a rustic chandelier (of all things) that looks like it's made out of old chair legs. Perfect project for our mountain of odd chairs in his workshop.

Plenty of kitchen ideas. Not that we need ideas (no, we need action!). On the spur of the moment last week I got a bit fed up with having four cupboard doors cluttering up the place and decided to fit them myself. How complicated can it be I thought...a little as it turns out. I was pretty chuffed when I worked out how to use M's complicated looking drill. So much quicker after that, though Riley was not very impressed with the noise.

Bit of a dark photo because it's rather overcast today but you can just about see the almost finished cupboard. The handles were salvaged from our old kitchen, the hinges were a bulk buy on the internet (very cheap). The wood was completely free except for the worktop timbers which are hundred year old roofing timbers from an old theatre. It all needs more sanding down and several coats of wax, but in the meantime it feels rather civilised. Doors that open and close! What a novelty!