Friday, 26 February 2016

Off the hook...crochet dragon

I think this wee dragon was my very first make of the year. He was made for a gift so I couldn't blog about him until now, and now that he's been received he's also been named...Lanto (pronounced yan-toe). Aw! I love that name. I had to squirrel Lanto away soon after he was finished. Several here had their beady eye on him but I was very firm and said he was destined to fly away to Wales. I hear he's having a very good time there too!

It seems I'm a sucker for a crochet toy. Every now and then I have an urge to create a little creature. The wristwarmers and cardigan of the last post are going veeeerrrrry slowly! Oops, I started a wee bunny! They grow rather more speedily from the hook. He's got a head, body and one ear after just one evening! I'm making him with my gorgeous undyed Welsh yarn, so he's a delicious natural shade of brown.

I'll be honest and say that I've not been the biggest fan of these toft alpaca animals apart from the gorgeous natural shades they are made in. They always look a bit lumpy in all the wrong places and as though they could do with a bit of fine tuning. I guess it makes a difference which yarn you use; this yarn is fairly sturdy and holds its shape well. I'm sure the toft alpaca works well too, but at £18 for 100g that makes for a very pricey bunny! (The bunny pattern is in the second issue of Simple Crochet.)

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Vintage knitting and modern crochet...

I'm alternating between the modern crochet wristwarmers and the vintage knitted cardigan. The latter is now on 3.75mm needles which is a bit taxing for me but a little each day will get me there in the end. The crochet wristwarmers are in progress using a 2.5mm hook, I really am a glutton for punishment. I'm loving the tiny stitches on both projects.

Inside spreads of Pompom magazine as promised. The sweater is knitted, and as luck would have it I have a stash of grey Aran weight yarn in the right quantity! That might just be my next project. I may have to remind myself how to do wrapped stitches. I seem to have forgotten so much knitting since my crochet frenzy started.

The pattern for the cowl looks fairly involved. I will definitely have to save that for a day when I have a good stretch of uninterrupted time and a clear head.

Well that's me busy with yarn for the next few months! In between long court cases and late night police interviews M and I are hoping to book the same shepherd's hut again for a few nights (fingers crossed). Yarn, a simple hut with a view and a log burner, that's my idea of perfect.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Leaving home...

It was very hard to leave Sussex this time. It's always hard to leave my Grandfather. What I wouldn't give to be able to just pop by every day and have a cup of tea and a chat. I had a quick chat with Nan this time too. It's been four years exactly but I still wasn't able to say very much without difficulty.

E and I intended to have a week of rest, study for her and knitting/crochet for me. It didn't really work out that way. She needed certain coastal photographs and that's what we went in search of. Hastings Old Town, Rye and Brighton. I'm still waiting for her to forward me some of the photo's.

We had a nice trip over to Rye, spent some time in the town, had great coffee in a rustic old coffee shop, stepped politely round the tourists. One American family rounded a bend and found themselves at the top of a cobbled street and exclaimed, 'Gee, it's just like the home ad'. Well we've no idea what the home ad is but I bet it was quintessentially English, Rye is like stepping back in time.

Later we drove down the harbour road and parked up at the nature reserve. This is my kind of place for walking. A lovely long circular walk alongside the harbour, along the beach with views over to Camber Sands and back round through the marshes where there were all sorts of sea birds including some rare ones (apparently!)

Brighton was a fun train ride through parts of the Sussex Downs. I'm not mad keen on cities but we had another great day. E liked the North Laines with all its quirky shops, vintage clothing, jewellery, art. A rustic coffee shop was found and more coffee and hot soup consumed; sweet potato and butternut squash this time (a close second to the Wild Mushroom soup in Hastings Old Town). We got silly and had b/w photo's taken in an old fashioned booth. I did find myself wishing my school friends and I had taken the train over to Brighton more often.

Then we came across Yak! Yarn and Knitting of course. Very pricey yarn so instead I treated myself to this great little project bag. So refreshing to find something specifically for knitting or crochet that doesn't involve floral prints! One main compartment and two outer pockets which are ideal for the small notepads I use for counting rows or making adjustment notes. I'm using a vintage knitting pattern that Grandad passed on to me. It's a small pamphlet so it fits in the pocket perfectly. It's nice to think that I am now knitting a little cardigan for my niece that Nan may very well have knitted for me!

I'm probably woefully late to the game with pompom magazine. I vaguely recall some blog mentions but can't say I've ever seen one before. It seemed like a lot of money for a small magazine and when I flicked through it I was conscious of dragging E into yet another place where they happen to sell wool so I made a quick decision to buy it anyway and see what it was all about on the train ride home. Cough, cough, £9.50. Yikes. I expected an arty type magazine with plenty of pictures, a few articles and a lot of ads for expensive yarn. I hadn't realised that the arty pictures were all items for which the patterns were provided. I think I got lucky with this issue because the theme and all of the projects are exactly my taste. Its all undyed, natural, textured knits and crochet projects. Woohoo!

I'll do some pics of the inside spreads when I've had a chance to unpack properly and get the house back to its former glory (I'll give the men a two out of ten for effort on the clean house homecoming front, and I think it's fair to say that J earned the two points single handed; one point for attempting to hoover even though the Hoover bag was totally full and there wasn't any sucking power at all, and one point for washing some football kit.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Buccaneer Hat...

Argh! I only bought one woolly project with me for ten whole days of rest and relaxation! Actually there hasn't been a lot of R&R since we've done the tourist thing and been here, there and everywhere. E and I are spending half term in Sussex. I'm mainly just her tour guide for good locations for photographs. Hence Bexhill seafront at dusk (see above). We've also been to Hastings Old Town and Rye. At some stage I will have more photographs to show for that. There's some downloading to be done first!

It's a bit of a weird feeling for me. I got into photography in a big way when I was a bit younger than E is now. I favourited b/w photography because I had a small developing suite in half of my wardrobe would you believe? The only thing that stopped me pursuing photography career options was the simple fact that I couldn't avoid drawing attention to myself when I took photographs. A week at a local newspaper shadowing the press photographer was exciting but taught me that I would rather shrivel up and die than boss people about into poses for whatever shot I needed. Mind you, I was only sixteen and went on to present advertising campaigns to board rooms of important people so it just goes to show how things can change.

It's been biting cold here on the South Coast. I think that speeded the knitting up considerably and yesterday I was able to wear my new Buccaneer hat for the first time. Such an appropriate knit for where we are. I'm pretty sure these coastal towns have seen their fair share of smugglers and pirates. The pattern booklet is called '10 More, Simple Cosy Projects' and it's by Sarah Hatton. The models inside look as miserable as sin and some of the photographs are much too dark to show the detail but nonetheless this hat has been fairly successful. Having said that, if I were to knit another (and I have a second ball of Rowan Cocoon which seems to be in sale bins in various John Lewis stores at the moment) then I would go down half a needle size, maybe even a whole needle size. It came up a fraction big so I've sewed up the ribbed band with an invisible overlap to make it fit nicely. The yarn is probably worth the full price (a hefty £9 a ball!) but it felt much better at half price. It's got a nice fuzziness and unevenness to it which didn't make it tricky to work with and it's as warm as toast.

Now we are off on another seafront walk with a slight detour via a wool shop!

Friday, 5 February 2016

A little string bag...

I made a little string bag. A make it up as you go along affair. The bottom half is a plastic type of string which I thought would be a nightmare to crochet but wasn't. When that ran out I used standard parcel string so that the handles would be more comfortable.

It's a little on the small side but ideal for buying fruit from the market which I often do when I am near the end of one of my 'town rambles'. It's a distraction from the chocolate which I'd rather be buying. It's also one of those personal challenges that I decided I would tackle after witnessing how much M enjoys food markets. Admittedly I will probably never obtain a market trader's life story like he seems to have the knack of doing but just managing a successful transaction is an achievement. I've spent a life time avoiding situations which require 'chat' with perfect strangers. I much prefer the anonymity of self service.

It wasn't until I had children and they accompanied me on shopping trips that I realised just how much I miss. When E was small I'd often get a little tap on the leg and her little voice would pipe up, 'Mummy, she wants to know whether you'd like a bag' or if I'd missed something much more complex there would be a certain expression on her face that only a Mother could interpret; in this case, you've missed something but I'm too young to let you know what exactly it was. It is true that when one of your senses is lacking the others are finely tuned to compensate. I tend to rely on facial expression and body language to give me clues when I can't hear. Raised eyebrows and a glance towards something let me know that it's probably a question. I have a nanosecond to work out what it might be, and if all else fails I always plump for 'no thank you'.

I'm really happy about the new laws regarding plastic bags. It's something that should have been introduced much sooner. The added bonus is of course, I get asked if I want a bag much less now!

This type of bag is so easy to design as you go. Just create a crochet circle for the base and once that is the size you require choose a loose open stitch for the sides. I chose a simple v stitch which is two trebles in one stitch, miss two st, repeat all the way round. I did a couple of rounds of dc before starting the handles. Next on the list is a larger version with two balls of yellow string. A girl can never have too many bags right?

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Baking and baggy jumpers...

I've been out and about this morning and treated myself to a book about Shackleton. For years this particular expedition seems to have intrigued me in a way that others haven't. I think it might be Ernest himself that holds the key to that, I mean, who can resist a man in a chunky woollen jumper? Clearly not me. Seriously though, I love tales of exploration and adventure. I'm drawn to tales of factual or fictional journeys. I'm not sure why.

It hasn't exactly been Antarctic weather here but the temperature is up and down like a yo yo. Yesterday I was out with the dogs in just a thin jumper and body warmer, albeit trying to stand up against very strong wind. Today I've been wrapped up in every woolly crochet thing I own.

I get quite twitchy when I haven't got a crochet project by my side. I have to be in a certain frame of mind for certain projects, hence E's blanket is a little further away than my side. I do feel guilty if I have too many wips though and now that they are all in one place I can literally 'whip' them out and see if anything takes my fancy.

So, this oversized 'Rebekka' jumper from a back copy of Inside Crochet re-surfaced. I'm pretty sure it got shelved because I wasn't convinced that it would make a wearable garment and also because I thought I'd run out of yarn. It's made entirely in trebles which makes for a pretty speedy project. I had the entire back panel done in no time. As it turned out I had enough to complete the jumper but didn't like the length (a bit boxy). It's a Stylecraft chunky yarn and the colours available locally haven't changed in years so I managed to get two more balls of charcoal and I've just finished adding to the body and sleeve length. It's definitely wearable, I'm wearing it now and it's extremely warm.

In amongst all this crocheting I baked some ginger biscuits. If I suddenly sound like some kind of domestic goddess, you should have seen the two batches I burnt over the weekend! The recipe was written out at least twenty odd years ago when my brother and I spent a year or two renting a house together and I suddenly came over all motherly and started baking. If memory serves me right this didn't last long and we very soon resorted to eating takeaways and finding excuses to visit 'home' to be sure of a healthy meal! The ginger snap recipe has however, survived, and is usually quite foolproof. I blame the new oven.