Sunday, 30 March 2014

An urge to quilt...

I do declare that twenty five pence is my new favourite sum of money to part with for a novel. I shudder to think of the amounts wasted even when purchasing books at three for £7 or three for £5. It seems I'm getting more thrifty with time.

There is little danger of running out of reading matter. Let's just say I have a few put by for a rainy day. I rarely even notice a new release by an author since I do all my browsing in charity shops. I did, however, notice this new book; The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier having read quite a few by her and catching the end of a TV interview with her a little while ago. I waited patiently for the new release to start appearing in charity shops and I didn't have to wait very long. I've just finished it and it was a nice light read filled with references to quilt making. The author herself decided to learn how to make quilts as part of her research for the book. I think it might just be the push I need to start turning all of M's old shirts into small hexagons.

I've done a bit of research on paper piecing type patchwork and it doesn't look too complicated. I'm pretty sure I could do all the patchwork parts but I don't think I would be very skilled at turning it into a quilt afterwards, that's backing, wadding and binding. Yikes. I could always enlist some help I guess.

I love the quilt pictured on the inside front cover. Not a flower in sight and my kind of colour scheme. As far as I understand this quilt can be seen in The American Museum in Bath. Bit of a long way to go for a day trip for us but it's on my wish list.

I'm sitting here smelling absolutely divine and with a large scented candle to light this evening too. The best Mother's Day present however, was the huge hug J gave me this morning when it had actually escaped my memory what day it was. Naturally cricket features somewhere every weekend and today is no exception. J is attending a county training session. Later E and a friend will be taken to Manchester for a YM@6 concert. I will light my candle and watch the Western I have saved for the occasion.

In the middle of all this we will be visiting my Mother for a Mother's Day dinner. Home cooking is a big treat, unless you are a Mother like me, who loathes cooking, your Mother's cooking is like no other. My earliest memories include the little bags of homemade fudge Mum used to make, which were far too precious and tasty to share with anyone. My brother and I would grab them and run, finding a hidey hole somewhere where we could watch each other's faces as we tried to eat slowly so as to make it last longer. We laugh about the time Mum boiled dry a tinned chocolate pudding which exploded all over the kitchen ceiling and we occasionally dare to mention the fact that Dad was never very keen on fish with sauce, but those occasions aside, we were very lucky indeed.

Not a day goes by without thinking of my Grandmother. I cry as easily as I did when she died and I guess that's because she was incredibly special. Nan, wherever you are, Happy Mother's Day xxx

Friday, 21 March 2014

Peaceful Friday...

Funnily enough this hexagon blanket project is my fall back plan for when I don't really feel like crochet. Doesn't make much sense that does it? Today is one of those days. At 100 hexagons I reckon I'm about half way.

It seems to be all go here at the moment. Winter cricket training is gradually merging into the start of the cricket season and this year looks set to be pretty complicated. Two children playing for their county teams, who are also playing for local clubs and this year J has been invited to play men's cricket at a different club, and E has also been invited to play for a ladies team. There are bound to be clashes of course and I probably need something like a spreadsheet to work it all out. County matches will take priority and we'll take it from there.

We will of course need to buy a whole load more equipment for outdoor cricket. J has gone up a shoe size and a half, so that's new spikes on the list. He's grown a few inches too so his pads don't fit anymore, nor his trousers. His training shirt is barely covering his belly button which means his match shirt will probably be the same. April could be an expensive month.

Meanwhile, I am trying to lengthen my dog walking distance every day in the hope that I will be fairly fit for the cricket season myself. I finally plucked up the courage last year to play a couple of matches and didn't make a prat of myself so this year I'm playing the whole season.

The dogs are benefitting enormously...I wear them out and they spend the afternoon snoring away!

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Kendal and Kipling...

One of the perks of M's job (and also the downside according to him) is working all over the country. This week he was called to a police job in Kendal and I decided to go along for the ride; the 'Gateway to the Lake District' according to signs on the way. It was also the cliff-side ride of a lifetime. There was just a low dry stone wall between us and a sheer one hundred foot drop the way M decided to approach Kendal. I leaned in, because as we all know that makes a lot of difference!

I had a pleasant half a day wandering round Kendal. I think most towns in Cumbria are dog friendly and I knew that already but it was the first thing I noticed; lots of dogs welcome inside shops, drinking bowls outside for them.

I took these snaps from a moving car. It was a business trip so we didn't have time to pull over just for blog pics! I'm quite surprised they worked at all.

Thos storm clouds soon passed. Sights like this please me a great deal. I really do miss hills now that I live in Lincolnshire.

Kendal had more than its fair share of shops for walkers but it was also well served with charity shops. I didn't buy much but I was obviously in the mood for a bit of Kipling. I read the poem 'If' to M on the way home and managed to get choked up over the last line. I'm sure it's just because J has now overtaken me height-wise and it really feels like my boy is rapidly turning into a man. Pretty good poetry though and there was a bit of my home county of Sussex in there too.

I couldn't leave Kendal without the famous Mint Cake.

My other charity shop purchases matched the mint cake wrapper...

Must be a hippy at heart, I've always loved tie dye.

Marks and Spencer's cotton jumper. Very soft. Think this will get a lot of use... And finally...another mug for the collection (M wasn't very impressed with this one but E has a soft spot for elephants)...

I had change from a tenner and that included four small slabs of mint cake.


By Rudyard Kipling

(‘Brother Square-Toes’—Rewards and Fairies)

If you can keep your head when all about you   
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;   
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;   
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Source: A Choice of Kipling's Verse (1943)

Monday, 17 March 2014

Happy days!

This is Riley, curled up near Mollie after his long walk this morning, and guess what? His neck and back were as fluffy and soft as they were after his shower (with left over Ted Baker shower gel no less). Just when I thought there was no hope of walks without fox poo, and that my daily shower would always be with the dog. There's always tomorrow I guess!

Thanks to Thistlebear for our little chat yesterday about the crocheted cupcakes. I also learnt a new word; Kawaii. Where have I been? Such a useful word, especially in relation to amigurami. I also realised that I didn't post the pattern source; they are from this book...

I like the way the author has started off with the most simple designs and they get progressively more advanced. The cupcakes were near the beginning. You'll notice that I chose to do a simpler face as per some of the designs on the Internet. My felt pieces are temporarily out of reach (in a cupboard with a large pile of reclaimed timber in front of it). The book design is quite cute so I will probably get round to trying those out too... just as soon as the wood is turned into beautiful kitchen cupboards!

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Free from cupcakes...

Gluten, dairy and sugar free cupcakes. If only the edible version existed! The somewhat unusual desire to finish off rather than start anew is still with me. I found these little fellows in one of my many wooden bowls just waiting for eyes, which obviously needed to fixed in place before stuffing and sewing up. The eyes are a long story, something to do with buying a bumper pack of fifty by mail order and misplacing them and having to locate them in our useless selection of craft shops (oh for a Hobbycraft nearby!). These eyes are not the ones I had in mind but they are close. I think they all need a cheerful red cherry on top don't you?

I must admit I don't usually enjoy making slightly pointless objects so I told myself these would be for a certain little boy as play food when he's a little bit older (he's not quite one yet). E and J loved the whole play food thing when they were small but that was well before I learnt how to crochet. I've seen whole cooked breakfasts in crochet so I could build up quite a selection. I definitely want to make Oreo's and Jammy Dodgers.

Other news involves fox poo. Oh boy. I'm at the end of my tether with Riley and fox poo. Every darn stinking day this week. We have this rule that they stay in the hard floor areas of the house by day and come into the living room in the evenings. It cuts down on dog hair (but probably not much). M thinks it's something close to barbaric not to let them through in the evening regardless of how dirty they are, which leaves me having a shower with the hound every day this week. I wouldn't mind if it was mud but warm water seems to intensify the aroma of fox poo somewhat and I can tell you, it's choking! Today we did our usual four mile route and he did manage to find every single fox poo on route so I had to give them a good run about in the deepest stream I could find. It worked a treat. M let them out again soon after this stream dunking and the little rascal came back coved from head to toe in... Guess what? Yep fox poo. Thankfully Harvey doesn't see the attraction or has worked out that it's linked to baths and showers. Riley takes no notice of tellings off and we clearly have a huge fox population in the fields round here so I can't see this problem going away. Maybe tile the living room and make plastic covers for the sofas?

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

The Red Arrows...

It's quite exciting having my own private air show on my afternoon dog walks. The Red Arrows are based a few miles away from us and usually practice twice a day. There are times when they are so incredibly low you feel you could wave to the pilots. Today they were using red smoke as well as white. They did all sorts of formations but this was the one I managed to get my iPod out in time for, shame about the power cables.

It was t shirt weather here today. The dogs were over excited. They usually give the stagnant ditches a miss but today they decided to investigate the green slime. I had to give them a prolonged period of time in the clean stream (see below). They still pong. They may even have to be bathed tonight.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Feeling old...

If there was ever a time to feel old, it's when your eldest goes to a concert and sends you an image like this from her phone with the accompanying words, 'this is the best'. Meaning, she's having a good time.

I'm almost reluctant to share here my dodgy history with live music, let's just say concerts were not high on my list of priorities when I was sixteen. Hence the last concert I went to was The Commodores with the folks when I was thirteen perhaps. I'm not sure I really hear the same as other people but it was certainly as loud as a jumbo jet taking off, which is the level it needs to be to come into my range. I thought it was pretty cool when one of them climbed onto a huge amp and jumped off it but that bit of info only produced a smirk from E when I told her. All Time Low are described as a pop punk group, though E disputes the pop part of that. She prefers to call all her favourite bands, rock groups and now she has seen every one of them in concert, lucky her. I just hope her hearing remains intact.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Sunny day!

Wow! It was baking today! I threw open our sunlounge doors, dragged the two seater basket sofa outside, grabbed my book, crochet and tea... and had a pleasant, quiet morning while J was playing football, M watching and E winging her way back from London.

It was a rare opportunity to truly switch off and let Harvey and Riley be my ears. Riley hasn't been with us long enough to be used to sitting outside and he was rather twitchy, pricking his ears up at the slightest thing, well I assume so. Harvey was altogether more chilled, only letting me know when our neighbour had a visitor.

It probably won't last but I made the most of the sunshine and fresh air today. There were a hundred and one gardening jobs I could have done instead but as E would say 'YOLO'. When it got a bit too hot to sit in the sun (imagine saying this in March!) I came inside and did a bit of spring cleaning, moved a bit of furniture around, hoovered etc. Meanwhile Riley had clearly got used to the whole outside lounging about...

Hope you all had a pleasant sunny day, wherever you are. J :-)

Saturday, 8 March 2014


Sometimes a day without plans just falls into place. A little wool winding, a few mugs of tea, a bit of finishing off here and a little casting on there...a long rambling walk, bringing two bedraggled pond stinking dogs home, more tea, diving into a box marked 'superchunky', a little more crochet...and finally a rustic stool made comfy and cosy...

It was a wing it and and see what happens kind of plan for the cover. I started by unravelling the skinny scarf that was my first ever knitting project. That's the natural colour in the centre with the blue running through it.

To create the change from top to sides I did just one cluster instead of two with a chain two between. Superchunky works up fast but also eats yarn fast too so I had to use up odds and ends as I went. It doesn't show up in these pics but there are five colours in this seat cover. One down three to go!

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Off the hook... check mate shrug

If I could be bothered to look back over my posts I could probably find the start date of this project. It was some time before Christmas. I may even have had a romantic notion of actually wearing it to keep my shoulders warm over Christmas... a ridiculous idea because we always call our Christmas break with mum and dad and their log fire 'going to the Bahamas'.

Anyway, it became a WIP (shoved into a basket down beside the sofa) about two thirds of the way in due to the monotony of trebling up and down, a hundred trebles or so per row. Boring! Thankfully the motivation to finish it kicked in due to a few chilly mornings and voila! I cannot believe how quick it was to finish after that dang trebling was done.

I remember saying, in the original post, that I was not a shrug wearing kinda person. That is still true. It was the desire to throw on something sleeveless when I finally do sit down and crochet, read or watch a Western (I make no apologies for the latter). Sleeves annoy me, I find it much easier to crochet without. I already had a large ball of the denim shade for the main colour (jeans every day) and then limited myself to just the left over aran weight wools I already had of no less than 100gms. As it happened I couldn't see the colours actually working very well but I wanted it finished and I didn't want to buy any wool. Charcoal grey didn't appear to go very well with the main body colour and the navy looked a bit bright but somehow they seem to have blended.

I'm afraid Hilda, my lovely slimline model is in the attic for the time being and E is having a much needed Saturday morning lie in, so this photo will have to do. Take it from me, it looks better on a person than on a coat hanger!

I did modify the pattern to suit my needs. I stopped after eight rows of treble clusters, for the simple reason that I didn't want a gathering of 'collar' behind my neck, or too much extra fabric round the front for that matter. I tried it on after four rows and it wasn't enough and after eight it seemed just right, the pattern called for twelve rows. The pattern is featured in issue 11 of Simply Crochet, and it's by Kyoko Nakayoshi. I believe it's on Ravelry and it's called the Check Mate shrug. It's an incredibly easy make, even the sleeve ribbing was a complete breeze.