Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Off the hook...cotton face cloths

Oo these face cloths are so quick and satisfying! I fully intended to work up squares of htr's and not bother with borders but that's really tedious right? So for the pink one (for Ella 'cause I'm allergic to all things pink!) out came a variation on v stitch (the triples on the usual method were just too lacy for this use) and an htr border.

This organic cotton is soft to start with and stays soft after many washes. I loved the range of muted shades it came in. It's the sort of stuff you find in expensive yarn stores but I came across it for a bargain price on Amazon. It must have been pretty popular because it's now doubled in price and for half as much!

I've just finished reading The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver. I've come to realise that there's a bit of a recurring theme amongst my random charity shop book purchases; plucky lone female travels across America meeting colourful characters and having adventures along the way, with or without a small child in tow. This one wasn't dissimilar to 'Entering Normal' which I purchased this year for the second time without realising that I'd read it years ago! There are others I recall. Is this my subconscious regretting not travelling more when I was younger? Or over exposure to all things USA on TV when I was a child? Or can I identify with the way these women find an amazing inner strength when it comes to travelling with small children? Or is just escapism like any other novel depicting a journey? A mixture of all I suspect.

I've ordered the sequel to The Bean Trees which I didn't know existed until I googled the author to see what else she'd written. It's called Pigs In Heaven and has mixed reviews but I can't resist finding out what happens to the two main characters; Taylor and Turtle!

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Off the hook...light and airy scarf

The scarf turned out just how I wanted it to. It's what I've had in mind for a while but hadn't made the connection between yarn and gauge and time. I'd love a willing model for blog pics but that isn't happening at the moment.

So, onto the next monotonous crochet project! I'm turning this little basket of organic cotton odds and ends into random face cloths. I use my one and only cotton crochet face cloth all the time so I could do with spares for when it's in the wash. We have a basket of towelling flannels for family use and I generally only let people use them once before throwing them in the latest wash load. I've got a fear of stale and whiffy face cloths! Ugh. When the flannels get tatty I chuck them in the rag basket and then use them for household cleaning jobs. So, nice, smart cotton crochet face cloths will be a good job done.

Oh and that dark chocolate there... it just fell in my little pot. I don't know how. Really.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Taking it easy...

I'm very glad I had my little op during cricket season. It has meant that my first weekend of recovery has been spent alone, with peace and quiet in abundance. My routine is read (a few pages), crochet (a few rows), sleep (for an indefinite period) and start routine all over again. OK, I confess to watching a few overs of cricket on TV too.

I'm doing my level best to ignore the prairie dust balls blowing across the floors. The mountain of washing that is 'under control' in the bath (don't ask). The dogs look pitiful making do with walkies in the back fields instead of their usual two hour trek with lake swimming sessions with me. They remain loyal though, sleeping as close as they can get away with. Riley has bought me a collection of offerings; a yellow sock, a rawhide bone, half a tennis ball. Harvey just licks my hand occasionally.

If you had to rest up for a while what would you have nearby?

Flowers from Mum and Dad, roasted almonds from Marks & Spencer's, wool from Save the Children charity shop, books from Oxfam. Tea by the Redbush Tea Company. Apart from the flowers which are a lovely treat, the rest are staple things in my life; for illness, weekends away, rainy afternoons, sunny afternoons for that matter!

The yarn was £1.50 for four balls. I can't remember how many grammes. There are no ball bands but it feels like it has a part cotton content at least, it's quite soft and even softer worked up in this loose guage. I'd say the weight was something like a thick DK or light aran, I'm using a 10mm hook for an intentionally 'netty' look. I'm hoping it will make a good length of scarf, if not I could join the ends for a cowl or start a new colour. So this project has three possible outcomes! A plain scarf, a plain cowl or a duo tone scarf.

Update: it's making a long enough plain scarf! One more ball to go. Sometimes a little enforced 'taking it easy' is useful! It's really pleasing to see this thrifted yarn turn into something I know I will use.

Sunday, 14 June 2015


I should be deep cleaning the house really. Getting it ready for a little inactivity on my part. Instead I keep pausing at my work table and making things with small scraps of leather. I chose the thinnest, most supple pieces for the two drawstring pouches. They are still fairly sturdy, it's the gathers I guess. I think they make better little bowls than pouches but they'll function as both.

The little red leather tray was a total experiment. I made a paper template but it was tricky to know whether the sides would form themselves with just a pinch of the corners. I did little knotted ties but studs would have worked too. In fact lacing the corners right the way round would also have been quite clever and helped the sides stay up too.

I've been upcycling leather belts galore into wrist cuffs and hair barrettes. M, E and J have been very encouraging about my efforts. Commenting as each new design rolls out. J likes to do the maths for the quantities I've made and the unit price I suggest. He's extremely quick with numbers. E likes to wear a sample for a few days just to make sure they are fully road tested. M came with me to a nearby small town to research a craft market and see if my goods might fit in there (they wouldn't, it was wrongly billed as a craft market when in fact it was fruit and veg, bread and junk).

The plan for actual selling is to wait for the cricket season to finish, by which time I should be fully recovered from my keyhole surgery later this week. We will have free weekends once more and I'll be fighting fit. On my travels through the Internet trying to find suitable events at which to sell I came across an American couple who travel around in a campervan selling handmade jewellery to fund their lives and travel. Oh yes, I could totally cope with that lifestyle! Trouble is I don't think the UK would be quite as successful for that type of thing. I can't see a cheerful hand painted campervan rolling up in Skegness having quite as much success with that line of goods. Now 'kiss me quick hats' or Candy Floss, maybe.

In the meantime there's more cricket. E is playing in a ladies match tonight which makes a change. It's just the right weather for it too. This is one match I won't be watching from underneath a thick blanket!

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Catching dreams...

I treated myself to the latest Mollie Makes issue recently. We had a little trip West to stay overnight in a hotel the night before a county cricket match. I knew I wouldn't be able to get much proper reading done (when I spotted Jake pack his foam cricket bat and ball!) and besides, the dream catcher free gift had Ella's name written all over it.

Sure enough, as soon as she spotted the half finished project she said to make sure I finished it because she reeeeealllly liked it! Had she seen me start it she might have suggested adding beads she said. Not a bad idea!

The colours aren't my taste but I'm tempted to try and make a rustic one using hemp yarn or something; just need to locate a 10cm hoop! Not holding my breath.

I've had some very strange dreams lately. One involved a glass walk way situated slightly below a tropical bright blue ocean. A kind of vicar walked along this 'jetty' and fully expected people to believe that he was actually walking on water. I told the person I was sitting next to, or at least thought to myself, I can't quite remember, that it was an illusion and if you looked carefully you could see the glass jetty. At the end of the walk way he reached down into the water and pulled up a vase, placed it on the jetty and placed the bunch of flowers he'd been carrying into the vase.

I have absolutely NO idea what the heck that was all about. No idea at all. It's true I used to think like this when I was as young as five. We would be told religious stories at school and I'd be left thinking that they just didn't add up, maybe it was just an extension of that? Quite the strangest dream I've had for a while.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015


We were wondering today, E and I, just where those lovely small, slender wrists and hands came from. It certainly wasn't me. This happens a lot, this wondering. About her Dad. How can I tell her that he used to hold his hands up to mine and be constantly amused that mine were so big? How can I tell her about the hours I used to spend watching his hands pluck strings on his guitar? How can I tell her that those hands of his made the most beautiful marquetry boxes that I sometimes helped him design? How can I tell her that it breaks my heart to remember the two of them walking down the garden path when she was two, hand in hand, each with a watering can in the other hand, sharing their love of gardening?

E recently admitted she had reached that age where she'd quite like to ask him a few questions. So would I. Not even questions really, just another perspective. It's clear from the outside just how much she's inherited from him. They were always like two peas in a pod. It's the rest that I'd like him to make sense of for me. She is an incredible human being with so many amazing qualities, quite a few frustrating ones too, but I see those as short term phases. If he were alive today he'd totally understand her.

I stood in an art gallery this morning and It was weird because the space used to be his offices. I feel like I'm living a whole other life, in a time travel kind of way, if that makes any sense. A parallel universe maybe. Lots of 'if only's' which aren't useful.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, E asked for her own set of made to measure leather bracelets, and of course I was happy to oblige (more road testing ya know!). I made a whole bowl full of those wider leather wrist cuffs by upcycling an old belt with the same bead and lace fastening and she snaffled one of those too! I traded photos for my blog for leather goods. A fair deal I'd say because it's a devil of a job trying to photograph your own wrists!

Monday, 1 June 2015


It's a bit of a mixed bag this British weather at the moment isn't it? Saturday was a glorious quick-get-the-cricket-chairs-out kinda day. OK so there was a bit of 'on and off with the coat' but for the most part we sat and watched a whole match without diving into the car for warmth and shelter!

Sunday was a washout. Cancelled match. Cancelled gardening. Cancelled good mood.

Today I consulted my trusty iPod for a weather breakdown and it looked like the best slot for dog walking without getting drenched was between 9am and 10am so with breakfast barely digested I bundled two clean dogs into the car, trundled up to our favourite spot, walked in fantastic sunshine, swam in lovely clear blue lake (them, not me) and bundled one angelic intelligent dog (H) and one stupid and stinking dog (R) in the boot to trundle home. The season for eau de fox poo has started with a vengeance. In case you're not familiar, this is a scent that still makes your eyes water whilst driving at fifty miles an hour with all the windows down. Cough cough.

We all had a laugh about the fact that another dog has won Britain's Got Talent. Ours have talents but I can't really repeat what M and E said they were here! Mind you Harvey makes an exceptional cricket fielder if you can persuade him not to collect the ball before it has reached the batsman!

So, with the bare minimum of housework out of the way I've been sitting at my sunny desk whacking holes in leather again! It's so therapeutic. I got sidetracked today and made a couple of leather bracelets for myself. It started out as an experiment in fastenings which happened to work first time so I ended up making three. I whacked holes in the dark brown one for a pattern effect, I can see me getting carried away with eyelets too. These leathers are so soft. I can't imagine them being able to cope with the demands of a sofa, but they are indeed upholstery leather offcuts. They smell great too, I guess I'll have to make some to sell alongside the earrings now.