Five things 

I’m making a few loaves of bread again at a time, one to eat and the other(s) to freeze. The freezer lately seems to be full of stewed apples from the glut last Autumn, and frozen trout because of my knowing a talented fly fisherman. No sooner had I baked two loaves on Sunday than 3 whopping fish were brought home; one brown and two rainbow trout. Luckily family and friends are more than happy to have them as they are or potted or smoked.

BBC radio 2 are broadcasting Sounds of the 20th Century, it’s ‘An audio journey through five decades, starting at 1951. Archive recordings include George VI overcoming his stammer to open the Festival of Britain.’  I’m going to try to listen to them on the iplayer because it’s fascinating; no commentaries or explanations, just music, news, programme clips etc from each year. I’m listening to the first from 1951 now.
“The average housewife works for 75 hours each week and does overtime at weekends….according to a Mass Observation study…”

“Coupons will continue to be required for meat, cheese….”

Poor little Princess Margaret “born into disappointment as the Nation longed for a little Prince.”

It is compelling listening for a social and economic history junkie.

On a Saturday jaunt to Marlborough it was lovely to see clumps of snowdrops under trees. It really feels as if Spring is on its way now; with blue skies and sunshine, albeit interspersed with showers. Washing has been hung on the line a few times this week already and partially dried in the gentle breeze, this is a very good thing.

Johnnie Ray is now being asked about why he cries as he sings and how long he’s worn hearing aids. We’ve just watched the three Rock and Chips specials on Netflix (an excellent prequel to Only Fools and Horses) and his music was featured in the first one…

I’m a terrible procrastinator where some things are concerned, like sewing up knitting. This little baby jumper was something I knitted it in 2013, just something I saw in a knitting mag and thought I could give to a friend. I also knitted a cat (recently sewn up by a Nana in my friend’s craft group, which sells items in aid of the Deaf Access charity) and a tank-top which I subsequently undid. I blogged about the sewing up then. Oops.

Forty thousand feathers on a thrush!”

The silly thing is that I did the sewing while listening to my current audio book: The Minotaur by Barbara Vine (excellently narrated by Sian Thomas) and it was really painless. I guess in the interests of complete honesty I should admit that it took so long to finish because my cousin had it for ages, it was she who actually sewed it up. But I sewed on the buttons! This took several months, but it’s all done now.

You are the lone ranger!”The next is better; I sewed up my headband. It only took 2 weeks or so after finishing it. Improvement, yes? Here it is with a little card, ready for posting. The P.O has put in self-service machines and for some reason I really got flustered trying to gauge the size of the packet, type in the address for a proof of posting certificate etc. It was all too much but the new cheese counter take-a-ticket-wait-for-the-number-to-be-called wait was far too long.

“…without cotton many mills in Lancashire would close down…”The friend who sent me Clara Parkes knitting book also popped in two balls of yarn. This one was bought in iknit, London, she was going to make an entrelac something or other but ended up unravelling it without keeping the yarn band. It feels like wool,or a good wool blend, and is sock or lace weight (are these really so similar in weight that they are virtually the same?) I like using a really fine thread, it’s different.

“There will be more houses to let, more houses to sell, more houses for everyone…..the Conservative pledge will be kept in full…”

“The time is now six fourteen and three quarters…”  What an excellent programme, if distracting listening to it while writing here.

What are you enjoying listening to or reading at the moment?

If you write your own Five Things post then feel free to add a link in the comments below, then we can all see what you’ve been up to.

** I just had a text and selfie of the headband being worn, this was super fast delivery as I only grappled with the self-service machine yesterday! It looks really nice and will definitely be in use next week on the ski slopes. Hurrah!**

Begin again

It was obvious I had to start the Honey Cowl again wasn’t it? Thank you for all your comments here, and elsewhere. I was kind of hoping someone might suggest I could wave a magic wand and transform the yarn into something else, without having to undo all my knitting, but no go!
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I’m on a yarn diet at the moment, I’ve sent a bag of never-gonna-use-this balls and oddments of yarn to the charity shop and have others I’m planning to use before another big purchase. I’d forgotten I still have some merino which DMC Creative World sent me last year. I used some when I made my needle roll. It is PERFECT, the yarn slides along my wooden Knitpro needles with ease, it’s soft and the stitch definition is great. Now I can see why it’s called the Honey Cowl, see those little honeycomb shapes?
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Before I kept hearing the refrain: ‘Poor Old Michael Finnegan begin again’, I was reluctant to undo what I’d knit so far, but this has been a fast catch up even for a relatively slow knitter like me. It’s the merino, nothing to do with me!
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What are you up to this weekend?

On a random note: have you ever tried tatting? I was thinking that I could maybe use some of the fine DMC crochet thread to learn.

Dilemma. Knitting.

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So, I’ve knit a bit more of the Honey Cowl, it’s described as a slip stitch honeycomb pattern which explains the name, but am caught in a bit of a dilemma. It’s not big as the world goes; but enough to make me pause. It’s the Stylecraft Special DK, it’s really fine for crochet blankets. It’s lightweight, soft, washable and can be tumble dried (not that I’ve ever tested the last two but it’s comes highly recommended by so many others that I believe them) and is inexpensive. The trouble with knitted stitches more sleek in appearance than crochet, is that suddenly the yarn seems to be too shiny, too light in weight and just very acrylic looking and to the touch too.

I’ve knit too much to undo it without a thought, but am not sure that it’s wise to carry on when I already know that I won’t want to wear it. What would you do? IMG_8702-0

Mostly ends with one beginning

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See the golden coloured ‘square’?  I took this photo to: “You’re in the way of the rugby!” Well, the light was best in front of the tv and it was Valentine’s Day, sheesh! Even so this isn’t the clearest photo, but we’re trapped under iron skies here. I didn’t notice that I’d pulled it out of shape arranging the piece on the carpet. When I went to add more hexagons to fill in the gaps I realised it was in the wrong place completely and it would be far too fiddly to add one in with all the sides to be joined. Bye Bye Goldie.
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I finished the Vanessa headband, it’s blocked and posed to be mattress stitched up. This is my issue with knitting; joining crochet with crochet is not a problem, because it’s crochet. Sewing knitting up makes me start yawning even at the thought of it.
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I have until a few days before 28th, then it needs to be posted to its new home because it’s then flying off to Austria skiing for a week. Clever headband!
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Yet more ends to be sewn. I have another boxful of motifs ready to JAYGO to my William Morris inspired blanket, but they must be darned beforehand. I’ve set myself a 5-a-day plan like last time. But oh it’s boring. Crochet a motif, darn that motif is a great idea, but I enjoy the flow of making them and seeing little stacks pile up.
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I started this circular Honey Cowl while listening to the last part of The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins audio book. It seemed pretty obvious early on who dunnit, although I still found the story quite gripping overall.

So, there’s going to be no sewing up! Which is a Baldrick style cunning plan, I think. It’s not posh yarn and I did wonder how I’m going to feel about wearing Stylecraft Special DK; but it’s really soft and consistent for knitting. I’ve only ever used it for crochet blanket making, but I just didn’t want to start with a nicer yarn (I have some Tosca Light left over from Brian) and run out mid way.

Do you use Stylecraft for wearable knitting or crochet? How do you find it?

It’s been ages since I knit

A friend sent me this book

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Knitting and an audio book – The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes – is just so relaxing that when I stop I feel as if I’ve had a deep sleep. This might be the same sensation you experience after meditation?

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I came by this headband pattern on Pinterest I think. Here’s the link. I can’t see me wearing it but I just liked the idea of cabling again. It’s a fast knit with chunky yarn (a leftover ball of Sirdar Escape chunky from when I knit my Bergere de France poncho) and size eights, even for a rusty knitter who keeps dropping the cable needle down the side of the sofa.

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I may offer the finished headband to my generous friend who posted the book along with some VERY interesting yarn. I’ll show you that another day.

I’m also getting on with sewing up and adding little pearly buttons to this

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which is indeed a little doll’s dress to give to a friend who crafts for charities. She’s always happy to add my random offerings to her stall, or at least is good at pretending.

Sorry it turned out to the longest wait for an answer to a silly little Guess What question ever!

Five things

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This is my bargain of last week, a 1,000 piece jigsaw from my favourite charity shop for £1.95. I have to admit that I would never have mentioned it here, but when I sent a ‘look at my bargain!’ message to a few friends and family I realised from their replies that puzzles are people’s guilty pleasure. Or maybe we are just a really uncool lot! Actually today I saw that Hobbycraft sell them, so maybe they’re popular again?

I’ve harped on about wanting to do a jigsaw after reading a Christmas novel, which I bought from a charity shop sale shelf for 25p last January. My friend got me onto Christmas fiction and so I keep my eyes open for a few books for December every year. Anyway, the main character in Twelve days of Christmas by Trisha Ashley cooks for house parties in the summer and house sits for a rest in the winter. This year things turn out rather differently and she ends up with a houseful of the client’s family. While stocking up with food and presents she sees the village shop has a jigsaw, which she leaves on a table in the dining room for everyone to do gradually as they pass by. It just caught my imagination for some reason. Suddenly I really wanted to do my first jigsaw since childhood. It’s a joke really as I found the outside so hard to do, the red background and yellow script are REALLY hard, and I lost my mojo. However it turns out I live with a puzzle genius who has now completed nine tenths of it. I deliberately chose one with a fly fishing theme, as I thought it might interest him into helping me. It worked, with bells on. I don’t give up on them all though – I await a delivery of some of my friend’s jigsaws (“Not hard ones please!”)
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I found this personalised tea towel the other day. I’d forgotten I embroidered this, I was asked to add a trout but that wasn’t the original plan so I’m not. It’s going into service. I might do a ‘moron’ one to complete a set….! It’s a family joke.

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I’m baby hexieing still, mostly just doing a group of seven at the weekend, so am sticking to the original one-a-day plan now, though might have a splurge and make lots more at points during the year. It depends how I feel. The thing is that the material doesn’t have a lot of drape because the hexagons are so small.
This is the boring part of the process….
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Yesterday there was a knock at the door with what I guess is the signature flourish of a local florist’s delivery driver. Isn’t this a beautiful bunch of flowers? Forsythia, tulips, freesia and something which look like hyacinths. The card says they are to brighten these drab February days. They certainly do and smell delightful too. Lucky me.
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I did an incredibly nerdy thing the other day – I made an inventory of my Clover Amour hooks, just so I know what I’ve got. My new 5.5 mm and other (I can’t remember!) sized one arrived in the post and I thought it seemed a good idea at the time. This is more embarrassing than the jigsaw puzzle probably. I hang my head in nerdiness.

What’s happening with you? Do you want to write a Five Things post and put the link below?

Polenta Bread Recipe

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It’s definitely homemade soup and toast weather at the moment especially with the threat promise of snow which hangs over each day at the moment.

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Back in the summer I bought this huge bag of cornmeal, aka polenta, to make a lemon polenta cake when we had guests here for lunch. Since then it’s sat in the pantry neglected really, apart from the first time I tried this polenta bread recipe. Yesterday seemed the perfect opportunity to bake some more and I’m so glad I did as it’s really delicious.

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This is the bread recipe book I use most. I first borrowed a copy from the library to try a few recipes. This had such good reviews on Amazon UK, and I was still using recipes I’d photocopied, that it seemed daft to ask for any other book for my birthday last year. A good decision as I haven’t had a disappointing loaf yet!

I thought I’d share the polenta bread recipe with you in case you have need for a soup and bread meal too.

Polenta Bread

Makes 1 loaf
Preparation time: 15 minutes + proving + 25 minutes
Freezing: Recommended

“Polenta (or maize flour) has a slightly grainy texture and a vivid yellow colour that makes an everyday loaf a little more interesting”

350g (12oz) strong white bread flour
115g (4oz) polenta, plus extra for sprinkling
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fast action dried yeast
25g (1oz) butter, melted
275-300ml (9-10 fl oz) hand-hot water

1) Combine the flour, polenta, sugar, salt and yeast in a mixing bowl. Add the butter and water and mix to a soft dough.
2) Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes until smooth. Cover and prove in a warm place until doubled in size.
3) Grease a baking sheet and sprinkle with polenta.
4) Knock back the dough and shape into an 18cm (7″) long oval. Place on the baking sheet. Using a sharp knife, make deep cuts on alternate sides of the loaf.
5) Cover and prove until doubled in size.
6) Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 7 / 220oc / 425of
7) Sprinkle liberally with polenta and bake for about 25 minutes until golden. Cool on a wire rack.

From Women’s Institute Bread: Over 100 Easy-to-Make Recipes by Liz Herbert.

** I didn’t have any butter so used a tablespoon of olive oil this time. It worked well, although the slightly buttery taste is best. I use my Kenwood mixer and dough hook, so cut down kneading time by half (to around 5 minutes). To knock back the dough I give it a quick whizz again in the mixer. In the winter the warmest place for proving is the airing cupboard, so put the covered (cling film) mixing bowl there. Typically it takes an hour, to an hour and a half to double the first time. I put the oven on to heat after about 30-40 minutes, while the dough proves the second time, then it’s reached temperature by the time the dough has doubled.”**

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Polenta bread is best eaten fresh, when it’s moist and the knife slides through each slice as if it’s butter. It seems to go stale quite fast, but that’s no matter as it makes the crunchiest, tastiest toast. Perfect with chilli and lentil soup! Here’s the soup recipe.

What are you enjoying cooking and eating at the moment?

Timely surprises

What a week!

I’d had a very efficient start to the year, getting all those boring but necessary appointments and tasks ticked off a long list. I was feeling rather pleased with it all last week. The Mister brought the first surprise – my favourite Austrian chocolates from Stockholm airport on his way home after a week working there again. It was great to see him, after all the socializing over Christmas the house had suddenly become far too quiet. Then…he started feeling unwell and coughing. I definitely wasn’t getting it too, so went to bed early, took vitamin C and started off the next day with a scratchy throat…

2015/01/img_4819.jpgA few days later my cousin sent me a quick message to say she had posted one of my Christmas presents. I wasn’t entirely sure why because we often have a late Christmas catch up a few weeks or months after. One year it was in June, to the amusement of restaurant staff who watched as we all exclaimed over pretty wrapping and enthused about a pile of gifts!

I’ve found this about last year’s late Christmas. I never really look back at my blog posts but I might start; to see what I was doing this time last year(s).
2015/01/img_4817-0.jpgAh! What a great present. I can totally see why she sent it this week. I’ve looked at those make an origami-whatever or solve a daily crossword type of calendars, but have never seen a crochet version. It’s an American product which my cousin saw in a garden centre here. I bet you can buy one online.

Because I have GOT to keep on with the William Morris motif blanket I haven’t looked all through the January patterns as it’s too tempting to start some, but there are a some sweet makes.
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I am itching to make those mitts. I’ve never done granite stitch but saw a Kat Goldin pattern in a recent crochet mag which uses it. That’s going to be my next new stitch soon.

The third surprise was from my friend who has been sent free tickets to go to Excel to the Stitching, Sewing and Hobbycrafts show in March, and wondered if I wanted to go with her. Yes please, thank you actually!
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I haven’t really been able to do anything other than cough, ache, wheeze, shiver and groan crochet and watch Netflixs: Life on Mars, Black Books and the excellent BBC version of The Lady Vanishes, or listen to my current audio book: Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O’Farrell. I’ve darned all the ends on the little doll blanket and now it’s ready to edge. I think it needs something very simple like rows of DC to finish it off, anything else will be too over the top.
2015/01/img_4837.jpgYesterday we both turned a corner, despite coughing in tandem at 5am. In the end we gave up trying to sleep and got up and made mugs of tea at six to take back to bed. Later I felt well enough to cook a little batch of cheese scones, then I collapsed back onto the sofa for a bit of Glee S4. But still, I felt better than I had the rest of the week.

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Last night the football was on and so I immersed myself in the new issue of Country Living which came yesterday. It’s a Springtime goodie and full of lovely designs in greens and blues. I became completely engrossed in this article about British hedgerows. When I’m enthused about something I can’t help sharing what I’m reading and giving impromptu pop quizzes. “So, how many thousand miles of hedgerows do you think we have?” “How many of our lowland mammals’ habitats are in hedgerows?” “How can you estimate the age of a hedgerow?” Luckily I get away with this and had some intelligent answers and a bit of chat, alongside the football commentary. The article brought back long-ago memories of a hedge layer giving my primary school class a talk and demonstration of his craft. It’s so interesting.

How’s your week been?

 

Treats, rewards and more baby hexagons

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This is a progress photo from earlier in the week, it’s 28 days worth of a baby hexagons. Well, what can I say? They are addictive and so easy to make! But LOOK – 28 only measure just over 16″, so for a decent sized blanket by 31st December we’re going to need to crochet one a day, plus lots more!

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So now I’ve kind of abandoned the whole baby hexagon a day concept. Although a one a day CAL is a lovely idea I don’t think this one was properly thought through measurement-wise. So now I’m just doing a batch when I feel like it, and I plan to continue this throughout the year. It’s impossible to just make one a day anyway, the one turns into five or sometimes (prepare yourself) I don’t feel like crocheting anything at all.

Isn’t it turning out pretty though? I’m using leftover yarn from my zesty raspberry ripple blanket and pinching colours that I’m using for my motifs. It will change though as the plan at the moment is to add new colours from whatever I’m making in Stylecraft as the year goes on.

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When I decided to redesign my William Morris colour inspired motifs I was slightly panicked by going from a blanket which was a third complete, with a basket of semi-finished motifs to absolutely zero. So I hooked new versions without pausing to darn any at all. Argh! I ended up with so many ends that I’ve had to stop and do nothing but darning. Argh! On Sunday I divvied the remainder into seven little piles to tackle like homework each night. I missed last night because I was out, but it’s a good idea to tackle the last of a tiresome job in small bits. For the next fifty motifs I will make one, darn it, then move onto the next. I really will.

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I saw my dentist last week “Ah you always have stunningly good teeth” he said before I even opened my mouth! Afterwards I bought a bone handled 1935 cake knife made to commemorate the silver jubilee of George V who was the Queen’s Grandfather. It was a bargain £4, after some Googling it seems most online sellers are asking £15 plus for one! I bought it because I really wanted a cake knife, rather than grabbing the first knife which comes to hand when we have guests, but what a lovely find.

This week I’ve had an eye test. Have you ever been shown photos of the back of your eyes? It’s amazing being talked through how they can tell you probably haven’t got diabetes or glaucoma, and seeing your optic nerve captured in action. I hate the puff of air and the flashing light so the new book by the very talented Kat and a cheese scone for lunch were my rewards! I’m thankfully now at the end of my mini MOT…
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I’m so lucky to have been given membership to the V&A in London, officially known as The Victoria and Albert Museum. I’ve used my card for the first time and loved swooping into the Wedding Dresses exhibit with a simple flash of my card. Do go if you can before it ends. You “Wow!” your way around. I also visited the members’ room which was described to me by a room guide as ‘the inner sanctum’. It was certainly very peaceful and comfortable. The water jugs were donated by Waterford Crystal and even the tray is lovely! My membership includes a guest so I’m hoping to take friends and family to events over the year. Thank you Father Christmas.
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I’ve baked my first loaf of Artisan bread in my new cooker. I started to use silicon coated baking paper last Autumn because you can place it gently down into the heated pyrex while safely holding the strips of paper. I adjust the oven temp down to 220 oc from the recipe’s 230 oc to comply with the paper’s instructions, but this oven has a much better seal and there is a huge gust of steam as you open the door. I’d quite forgotten ovens do this and have had a hot facial a few times. The problem is this time the paper became melded to the bottom of the loaf. It might have been a wetter dough than usual, or the new oven. While I’m not fussy I don’t like the chewy texture of silicon. (Yes, I did try it.) So I might go back to gently plopping the loaf in sans silicone because it’s a tragedy to have to cut the crust off.
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How’s the third week of 2015 going for you?

Catherine wheeling

Lazy Saturday mornings, when there are no immediate plans, look like this… pjs, crochet, Saturday Morning Kitchen on TV and endless cups of tea. This particular lazy Saturday morning turned into a bit of a lazy Saturday afternoon too, till about 2pm anyway. I just couldn’t stop doing just one more row and time ticked away. I’m really enjoying crocheting catherine wheel stitch, though the funny thing is I have to keep the pattern to hand for the ends. I just can’t seem to memorise the five rows. It’s probably because I’m working on three or four different things at the same time, so have to refresh the grey stuff each time I come back to it.

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The whole wheels, which are two rows, are much nicer in a single colour than in two colours, like I tried at the bottom, aren’t they?

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What are you up to this weekend? Big love to you if you’re in Paris.xx

Baby hexagon a day blanket

I’m ahead of my hexie a day plan but they’re so cute and easy to make!

I’ve changed the pattern I’m using because I think the shape is better and it looks much more like a hexagon! I found this pattern posted by @cuteashook on IG. It’s in graphic form so if you prefer charts go there, or to my page. I’m not sure who to attribute it to, if you know please let me know.

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Do you want to join in with crocheting a baby hexagon a day too?

Baby hexagon pattern

UK terms

All trebles in R1 are worked into the FR, then on R2 into the chain space of R1.

FR: ch 4, join with a SS to make a ring

R1: ch 3 (counts as a treble) tr 1, ch 1, *tr 2, ch 1* repeat 4 more times, SS to 3rd ch of beg ch3 (6 groups of 2 trebles) ss to 3rd st of beg ch.

R2: ss a couple of times to next ch sp from last round, ch 3 (counts as a treble) tr1, ch1, tr2 *tr2, ch1, tr2* repeat 4 more times. (6 tr ch groups.)

You’ll know you’re at the end because you’ll have a baby hexagon. If not a) start again b) let me know that there’s a mistake here!

Darn in the ends.

I’m joining as I go on the second round, replacing the chain in the middle of the trebles with a joining slip stitch. I have two joins per side. You might want to join three times along each side, its up to you. I tried it both ways.

I’m going to use whatever DK yarn I’m using for other projects through the year and so it will turn into a kind of memory blanket. You can use finer or chunkier yarn as long as you stick to the same weight all year. I guess if you were feeling very keen you could make 3 hexagons a day in 3 different weight yarns, a blanket to keep and a few to give away for Christmas?

My eggs need to go into the pan now – I hear the water boiling. I have a yen for an egg and watercress sandwich for lunch.

Are you joining the baby hexie a day gang?

New Year

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Happy New Year everyone! It’s all ahead of us, isn’t that a wonderful feeling?

I bought a brand new Filofax in the sales with some of my Christmas money, no more black for me – oh no, it’s pink flowers all the way! This morning I’ve gone through my book list, seeing how many I read last year and writing down what I’m reading at the start of 2015. I always happily spend some time sorting my pages and new diary out this way at the beginning of each new year. I’m not giving up paper and pen for everything online. I’m a happy mix of the 20th and 21st centuries.

We’ve been away and cozying up back at home, with the fairy lights still twinkling, is definitely the best thing today as it was a winter wonderland when I woke. The temperature was only 0 oc at 10:00, now it’s gone up to a balmy 1 oc at 1pm! I De-Christmassed yesterday evening to an extent, in that I took down the cards and decorative bits and bobs, but have left the lights around the fireplace. It’s twelfth night on 6th and so they will go then.

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On the last afternoon of 2014, otherwise known as New Year’s Eve, I decided to try something new that I’ve liked the look of for a long time. Catherine wheel stitch is fun. Treble 7 together is a new one. The hook is full of loops by the final yarn over! I was a bit apprehensive about it, the stitch looks tricky. Like everything it’s fine when you’ve completed a few rows. This is going to be a baby doll blanket for a friend’s toddler. I saw some gorgeous photos of the nearly two year old opening her baby doll on Christmas Day and decided she must have a bespoke blanket. This toddler is the baby for whom I crocheted the baby jewel blanket. I gave it to her when she was a day old in hospital. Eeek! Where do the years go?!

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Last night I saw a great new CAL that Ali Campbell has started – a baby hexagon a day blanket. It took me ages to decide how I wanted to jaygo (join as you go! Why have I never seen this fantastic acronym before?) them together – should I do 2 joins or 3 along each side? I finally decided to stick with 2 as they retain their shape better. So, are you joining me? They are really small at 1 3/4″ point to point. Of course yours might might be tinier – it depends on the yarn and your tension. The pattern is on Ali’s first hexie photo in the comments. Search for #babyhexagons or #babyhexieaday on Instagram for others taking part.

By the way join IG. Just do it. The crafty pics and micro blogging of it is superb. All the best bloggers are there and so many other talented makers. It’s a total inspiration machine.
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My third make is the William Morris motif blanket. It’s regenerated Dr Who style because…

::I didn’t like the magic ring of the motifs, so decided to chain 6 and make a foundation ring, but then that meant the blanket was a combination of both and likely to pull apart from some middles and not the others. I keep reading horror stories (ok, it’s only crochet, not life or death, but it’s a lot of time and energy in the making) about how magic rings can pull out gradually and work unravels from the middle, even with careful darning.

::Join as you go is great, but I was hating it for the old motifs because of the combination of stitches after the joining slip stitch. It was no fun and even the Mister noticed that I wasn’t enjoying the crochet.

::I disliked the way the chained parts of the motifs were lying rucked up against each other. I probably should have realised that they would look better being shorter but don’t usually change motif patterns, especially as they had looked great in the book.

I woke several mornings in November thinking about the need to change the whole blanket. If there’s something you repeatedly think of first thing upon waking then that’s what you need to spend some time on. I’ve now designed my own motif, as you see it’s trebles into the initial ring, rounds of clusters and two rounds of groups of granny style trebles. I’m joining them as I go and it’s stress free. The blanket is a strip again but I have over 50 motifs ready to darn and join. It’s made lots more work with so many ends to darn in, but the texture of the motifs is pleasing and they’re going to make nice snugly weight blanket.

I really like having these three very different projects to pick up and work on at the beginning of a new year. What are you making at the moment?

2014

Have you had a good Christmas? I’m sitting here with the fairy lights twinkling, presents in piles around the sofa, cards on the mantlepiece along with the stub of the seemingly everlasting Advent candle which finally spluttered to an end last night during Harry Potter. I love Crimbo-limbo, that special time between Christmas and New Year when life seems to go in slow motion.

Looking back at my blog photo archive I’ve found so many projects I started and then unravelled for different reasons. It seems to have been the year of procrastination, trial and error. I hadn’t realised until now. But I have gathered some highlights and favourite makes from my crafting year…

Looking back at my end of year galleries from 2012 and 2013 I’m amazed at the number of things I’ve crocheted, knitted and sewn which I’ve forgotten about! Lots has been given to family and friends and so it must be a case of out of sight, out of mind.

Today it’s my blog birthday, 3 years old! It was originally a way to record my progress as I practiced my fledgling crochet skills online diary styley. I always thought that to be mentioned in a crochet magazine one day would be the icing on the cake, although that was obviously never going to happen. Wrong! This blog and my crochet have now been featured in Inside Crochet as part of their Our Favourite Blogger feature, and earlier this year Simply Crochet paid me to design a Springtime brooch for an issue of the magazine. Also, I’m still delighted that photos I posted after a birthday lunch were used in Decanter magazine. Ca-ching!

So where do I go from here? I carry on making, of course. This is what’s happening on and off between slabs of Christmas cake and hot chocolate after hikes in the freezing cold: the what-I-call William Morris motif blanket has regenerated, and I’m busy darning in ends as I make each stack of motifs, but more about that next year…

The Zesty Raspberry Ripple was received with great praise for the colour choices “they’re really me, I love the raspberry and greys together, and lime green is my favourite colour.” It barely left my sister in law’s side after she unwrapped it. Excellent.

Thank you for all your likes, comments, emails and messages on social media this year. It’s been fun. Let’s do it again in 2015.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Merry Christmas

We’ve had a lovely stay in festive Brussels, Belgium. Twinkling lights all over the city, decorated trees and Santa signs, mussels, frites, Belgium beer, a waffle with Nutella, strawberry and banana, lots of tastes of fine chocolate and treats from the Christmas Market, shopping, wandering, goosebumps at the evening time light and music show at the Grand Place.

In a delightfully hushed carriage there on Eurostar, which was only a third full, served an unexpected meal and wine I wondered if perhaps most people were travelling to Paris? Later I was reminded we were in a Premium carriage. It was wonderful. All the hassle and stress from blaring Christmas songs in busy shops just melted away. Two hours from St Pancras, through the tunnel under the English Channel (to my now not-so-little niece on her birthday: “We’re going on a train under the sea later.” “That’s weird. Really weird!”) across France, past little houses with white tiled roofs, arriving at a station in Brussels with comfort and ease, and slightly red cheeks.
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The tree in Grand Place was given by Riga, Latvia as a gift. Riga is the current capital of culture. Apparently they started the tradition of decorating Christmas trees 500 years ago.
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We got home late last night and someone has already cracked open the twiglets. The Snowman has been watched as it’s a Christmas Eve tradition in this house. I’ve picked up a crochet hook for the first time in a week, while the advent candle burns down to a stub. It’s feeling a lot like Christmas.

I hope you are in a similarly relaxed state wherever you are. A very Merry Christmas to you all, have a lovely time. XX

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Eurostar Yule log!

Warming Vegetable & Pasta Soup

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The other day I was looking in the pantry for pasta to go with my leftover puttanesca sauce (Recipe here from Nigella) and came across a bag of these little pasta shapes. They look macaroni sized, but are in fact much smaller, absolutely tiny. I bought them in a hypermarket in France last summer.

This morning it was 5oc which is 2oc up on yesterday, but it’s a bitterly cold wind which blows. Time for soup. I had a good Goggle for minestrone recipes, but nothing really grabbed me so I made my own up as I went along. It turned out to be a corker.

The Mister is away working in Stockholm this week and I do intend to save him a bowlful as a warming welcome home, but I’m not sure it’s going to last! He is texting about having rich and delicious moose meatballs for dinner. A couple of weeks ago he was in Toulouse and it was all cassoulet and sausages.

Here’s what I used, because you might fancy making some really warming soup too:

Vegetable and pasta soup

2 tsp olive oil

2-3 garlic cloves, crushed

1 onion, finely chopped

2 ribs celery, finely chopped

1 large carrot, finely diced

1/2 red & 1/2 yellow pepper, chopped

3 rashers smoked bacon, finely chopped

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp mixed herbs

1-2 bayleaves

400g tinned tomatoes (best quality the better)

500-750ml vegetable stock (depending on how thick you want the soup)

2 handfuls of small pasta shapes (I have small hands!)

Seasoning to taste

——————-

Serves 4. Or 3 if you’re into really hearty bowlfuls!

::Heat oil in a large pan, cook onion till translucent, add rest of vegetables and cook slowly, covered, until softened.

::Add bacon and cook for a few minutes. Add smoked paprika and cook for a minute.

::Put rest of the ingredients into the pan and cook till vegetables tender. Stir now and then so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

Serve. Try not to go back for ‘just a little more’.

** The peppers could easily be missed out, especially as you’re using the holy trinity of onion, carrot and celery as a base for the soup. I just included them because I had a few to use up, and I love pepper. Instead of, or as well as, the pasta you could throw in some lentils, chick peas, cannellini beans or butter beans.**
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Who needs Swedish meatballs or cassoulet?

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Zesty Raspberry Ripple Blanket – FINISHED!

I did finish the rest of the darning in and the border on Monday night, just a day over my self-imposed schedule. Ya-hoo! I’m really pleased with this ripple. The colour scheme is different to any I’ve done before and that’s good – variety is definitely my spice of life! It’s soft and very warm.

It’s a present for my sister in law and although she didn’t pick the colours I ran my idea of a raspberry pink, greys, some purple and navy by her. I wanted to make something which reflected the colours she wears and which I know she particularly likes. She told me that lime is her absolute favourite, so it became the zesty raspberry ripple. (Everything needs a name.)

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Initially I was just going to border it with trebles and simple rows of double crochet, I don’t think ripples need fancy edging or trim, but I started to want to do something a bit more decorative. Then I remembered Lucy, of Attic 24 blog, had made some pretty edging on her Interlocking Ripple. This is basically a row of dc 1, ch 1, miss a st, dc 1, ch 1, miss a st and so on. Then you make a spike stitch when going along the next row. This is a dc which you think will be going into the missed stitch space, but actually pops into stitch in the row below the missed stitch. Easy! It sounds complicated but it’s not at all once you get going. With spike stitches you have to make sure your tension is relaxed, not too tight, not too loose – otherwise  the whole edge with curl up, or the stitch will be a floppy loop.

As I was on the home straight, and keen to finish, I double crocheted the last two rows bit by bit –  the lime chasing the pink around the edge! For the corners I worked 2dc, ch 2, 2 dc in the pink but I found 1 dc , ch 1, 1 dc better for the lime row.

Before wrapping the ripple I will give the border a steam block, just to make sure it’s all flat and relaxed. It’s a good finisher.

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Getting good photos has been VERY tricky with the dull weather, today it’s bright outside but very cold and damp. I didn’t want to risk the blanket getting dirty if I tried hanging it from the washing line.

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I came up with a good plan in the making – for the first half I grabbed yarn colours randomly, with a little thought but nothing that made my head hurt. I’ve found while making blankets that by the halfway mark the whole thing is not as exciting. I just want to go on and finish. So, I crocheted another row and then just worked back through the colours, copying what had gone before. If you fold it in half on the middle row (of graphite) the whole blanket is symmetrical.

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Zesty Raspberry Ripple Details:

4 mm hook

Stylecraft Special DK – 7 shades:

Silver
Grey
Graphite (the darkest grey in the ripple)
Raspberry
Lime
Emperor (“penguin” – I hear this everytime.)
Midnight

Weighs: 1,295kg
Width: 117cm, 46″ (2″ short of 4′)
Length: 183cm, 72″ (6′)

Starting chain: 213 (Attic 24 Neat Ripple Pattern)

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I’m darning all the ends before I do any more of the William Morris motif blanket. During the making of this ripple I have reminded myself that it’s painful to leave them all till the end!

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At the weekend

It’s been a lovely weekend, the kind where you pack lots and lots in and enjoy it all. The washing machine is whirling around as I type, the carpet needs hovering and dust is floating but it can all wait.
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On Saturday I went to ExCel, at the London Docklands, with a good friend for the Simply Christmas craft show. I haven’t been before and imagined sparkles, tinsel and decorations galore. It all began with a bit of a bang as we entered the space; a woman with a lot of bags was trying the dodge the staff on the way out. A member of staff was shouting that she couldn’t leave until security had been called. Apparently the woman had been caught stealing a few items and had more bags that hadn’t been searched. When my friend bought fat quarters from a few different stalls none gave receipts, so how to prove you’ve paid for items? We decided you’d need to make memorable comments, or talk with a really weird accent, during purchases just to make sure of being remembered.

The sleigh and everything you see above is made from sugar. The Grotto was full of sugary Christmas scenes and smelt absolutely delicious!

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The main focus seemed to be paper crafts and fabric. Black Sheep Wools had a stand and there were a few other small yarny tables, but not many. It’s probably for the best. Most of the show was just plain stalls selling what they might sell at any other time of year. The majority hadn’t decorated at all and there was a distinct lack of any sign of Christmas. We weaved from the beginning, along the stalls in row A, and so on, and by the middle we found a decorated tree and a couple of singers performing seasonal songs. Things seemed to be morphing into Christmas.Then we saw the sugary grotto and the display of Christmas makes above.

I particularly enjoyed watching some art workshops. Two or three fairly large groups of people sat imitating the artists who stood at the front with a fixed camera showing their techniques as they worked. This was shown on a large screen so the participants could listened to explanations and paint or draw along, using watercolours or pastels. They all ended with their own representations of the same picture, it was rather impressive. I wish I could draw!

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Mmmmm chocolate. But I’m not buying any until we go to Brussels on a jaunt to the Christmas market. I’ve never been on the Eurostar train which travels under the English Channel, it’s going to be fun.

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After ExCel we headed to do the really cool thing we’d run out of time for last time; The Fan Museum in Greenwich. Maybe it’s not the most exciting visit, but there is impressive painting and workmanship. If you’re really clever and concentrate you can name all the parts of a fan and explain how they’re made. As you walk inside the rather lovely town house you can imagine the Upstairs, Downstairs lives played out there in the past.

We’re both a little addicted to Groupon, Living Social and Amazon Local deals so anything gets seriously considered; especially if it’s under £5 or £10. This year we’ve done all sorts of outings and activities, as we take it in turns to book the next thing. My friend bought the Fan Museum deal as it was £2 (it’s £2 if you’re a National Trust member anyway, by the way.) The next deal I’ve booked for us is a Charles Dickens London walking tour. We’ve been on the It’s a Ripper and Ghost walking tours this year, and I figure we’ll need the post-Christmas exercise in January.

We then went for a wander in Greenwich park as the light began to fade and wondered where we fancied going next.
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Generally, if in doubt, a pub is always a good choice. I haven’t drank in The Gypsy Moth for ages. It was still light when we arrived and only 11 degrees, so we sat in the garden looking at the twinkling lights as the light fell. There was more, but I’ve run out of photos and it really involved more tube travel, the O2 and dinner. And that, was another good day.

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On Sunday the Mr and I went to Blenheim Palace to see the Christmas decorations and rather speed walked through the rooms as we’d already seen the Ai Weiwei exhibition. I bet the attendants thought the pair of us were philistines, only there to visit the shop.

The stilt walker was hilarious, Someone wondered how he ties his shoes…

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I wouldn’t mind eating Christmas Dinner at the Marlborough’s table.

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And home for a mug of tea and some crochet. I promised myself that when all the ends were all darned I could download and read the new Inside Crochet. Apparently I always say “Next time I’ll darn as I go.”
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And she’s off….!

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I’d planned to finish the zesty raspberry ripple by the end of the month. I was soooo close. Last night I did darn in the rest of the ends, and trebled along both sides. Tonight I’m going to complete the rest of the border, if it’s only a day off that’s not so bad, is it?

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This was taken last night under a lamp, so the colours are rather muted. It’s so soft and warm, I know it’s going to used lots and appreciated. I’ll do a ‘FINISHED’ post with all the yarn details soon.

How was your weekend?

This and That

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This new Siri is not nearly is sexy sounding as the old guy (yes, we have male voiced Siri) plus his sense of humour sucks! (‘Sucks’ – too much Glee while crocheting. I need to watch something that’s going to increase my vocabulary, not the opposite?!) If you dictate a stupid question, you get a stupid answer – but this was important stuff.

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This genuinely made me cringe and yelp a bit when I saw it the other day. Urgh, the thought of dog lick is foul. Cats are fine though…

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Ah yes, I totally agree.

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Everywhere I go I seem to end up stumbling into ‘Christmas rooms’ and this was one of the biggest and the best. It was so lovely I was singing along to Let It Snow and realised there were at least half of a dozen others joining in too.
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There’s a thingy on the left which you can just see, where you can put you head up into after crawling under half the table top scene. It’s for children really I suppose and I wasn’t brave enough to have a go, but how cute to see the trains going past your nose and Santa flying past. Can you spot him?
Funnily as I’ve been looking at this as a large sized pic on my iPad, I’ve noticed a few things are leaning or have fallen down. The ice skater makes sense, maybe the couple of cool kids leaning against the rink is a deliberate move, but I’m not sure about the other thing.
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Winter’s definitely on the way when you see sprout sticks appearing in the farm shops. Roast chicken with roast potatoes, parsnips, sprouts and carrots, homemade stuffing with steaming hot gravy over will be happening on Sunday.

I’m going to crochet the border and darn the ends of my ripple over the weekend. The end is in sight!

There are thousands of blogs out there but I’ve realised you can only really connect with a certain number. When one becomes inactive, especially if you’ve followed them for years, you naturally begin wondering if the person is okay. When I started mine I connected with quite a number of people who were also new to blogging. We’ve been in touch for nearly three years now, but lately I’ve realised quite a few of these are only posting sporadically, or have stopped completely. I’m wondering if there is maybe a natural end to a blog? People get busy and interested in doing different things. I know I’m not posting much at the moment; but how many photos of the same ripple blanket do people want to see anyway? Have you also noticed your favourites dropping off?

More importantly: what are you going to be eating at the weekend? I do love details like this.

Happy weekend everyone.

Homemade compliments

I’ve just read Sarah of Crafts from the Cwtch blog post about how her new knitted Colourblock Shawl has prompted compliments from strangers on the street. This reminded that when I wore my crocheted ribbed scarf to evening class on Tuesday I was complimented on the colours. It’s so gratifying to make something handmade and have it noticed. (For the right reasons!) Shop bought rarely gathers compliments; I guess the colours and designs can be too generic to stand out.
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If you want to crochet a ribbed scarf the pattern’s here. Or, you could dig out your knitting sticks and make Sarah’s cosy shawl.
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Currently I’m rippling away still, full speed ahead. The end is in sight, bar the darning and border. I have about 19 more stripes to crochet and I’m whizzing along to (don’t judge me) Glee: season 4. I gave up on Glee at the beginning of series 3 which was shown years ago here. It was so samey and they looked far, far too old to still be hanging around a High School music room! Series 4 was apparently broadcast two years ago, most of the originals have moved onwards and upwards which makes it fun seeing their next steps. It keeps me singing along as I fiercely hook, hook, hook on the sofa. To be honest I am absolutely dying to make some small fun makes, but I know I have to get the zesty raspberry ripple finished and then go back to the motif blanket. Both WILL be completed in time for Christmas.

What are you up to?

The gloves are on

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What a change from the end of last week. The scarf, hat and glove box is live. Typical autumn weather has returned.

This week one of my new v stitch scarves had its first outing, and I wore my fingerless mitts. Only twice though, then I swapped them for proper gloves. Fingers and all as it’s now dropped 10-12 degrees. I had to laugh, as a lady at the bus stop saw me wearing the fingerless pair and said she’d been wondering about them, and if “they really work.”

It’s a rainy Saturday and the Wales v Australia rugby match is playing out on the TV. I’ve got Bose noise cancelling headphones on, catching up with Liza Tarbuck’s show from last Saturday on the BBC radio iplayer. The music’s so good that I’m sofa bopping as I ripple.

What are you up to?

Fashion and Textile Museum: Knitwear, Chanel to Westwood

Yesterday a friend and I went to the latest exhibition at the London Fashion and Textile museum in Bermondsey. I’ve visited a few exhibitions there before (Kaffe Fassett and Bellville Sassoon.) It really is a gem of a place. Originally founded by Zandra Rhodes in 2003, it’s now operated by Newham college.
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Before buying our tickets a few weeks ago I’d Googled to see if there were any discounts. It’s so worth doing this before buying anything online. The results showed an Amazon Local deal several pounds cheaper, with vouchers for two hot drinks at the cafe. While I waited for my friend I used mine, I’m not sure why I chose hot chocolate as it was 21 degrees by mid morning! This is very strange weather for October – though beautiful.

The exhibition brochure begins: ‘Knitting is one of the most fundamental textile techniques, produced from a continuous yarn and simple needles, yet its origins are shrouded in the mists of time. Early examples of knitting dating from Coptic and Egyptian cultures still exist, along with hats, stockings and knitted undergarments from the sixteenth century…”

Most of the examples of knitted and crocheted garments are from a private collection and the exhibition ‘reflects the emotions we invest in objects.’

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I took this with the wacky and wonderful Jill in mind. At the moment she’s busy crocheting rhino horns for beanies. That seems to be one of her typical working days.

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This is an Edwardian wool petticoat from 1907. Can you imagine wearing it under layers of clothing?

To read some blogs there are current designers and makers who write as if they invented ripple and chevron patterns, but in 1907 (and probably long, long before) women were choosing red and black wool and rippling away. It’s quite humbling isn’t it? Nice too, to think we’re just many in a long history of the craft.

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How old is this crochet dress? When would you date it?
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It’s from H&M and was sold in the 1990s. Did it fool you, like it fooled us?
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Items from the 1940s Make Do and Mend era during The Second World War. There are examples of old dresses reworked into new skirts and garments knitted or crochet from many oddments of wool.
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The exhibition is not without faults I’m sorry to say. Some other women we chatted to felt that there was not enough information about how items were made and they regretted not being able to see garments from all angles. Curiously the displays were standing in what looked like giant packing crates. Signage is rather unclear so it takes some time to work out which garment information refers to. I found displays on top of crates really frustrating. They were at least 7′ up in the air and you couldn’t see them clearly. Why?!

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Wonderful fair isle tank tops. As we read the info the four of us all chorused – before we came to it – “And the Prince of Wales was sent one and wore it to see the GOLF and that’s how fair isle became famous.” It’s obviously one of those tidbits that everyone remembers.

There was much more to see and this is just a taster. The exhibition is there until January 18th. Although we experienced some irritations with the display I would still recommend visiting if you can, as the sheer range of items is interesting. I heard many cameras clicking and comments as people recollected similar clothing they, or their Grannies, used to wear!

Afterwards we walked towards the river. Look at all those t-shirt wearing people. In October! In London! ENGLAND! I was one of them, because thank goodness I checked my weather app before I left home.
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Looking across the river we could see that the area around the Tower of London was busy, but it wasn’t until today that I heard of the surge of people who took advantage of half term’s sunny weather to go and see the poppy installation, a memorial for the British and Colonial soldiers who died in the First World War. Apparently Tower Bridge tube station had to close several times during the day. And now visitors are asked to delay going until next week because of the crowds.
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Isn’t Tower Bridge pretty? Spotted the bird?

Next we aimed to walk to Greenwich, along the Thames path as far as we could go, as we had tickets to visit somewhere really cool (not at all) but paused at The Angel, Rotherhithe for some of Samuel Smith’s Yorkshire finest. Sitting on the outside balcony watching the river craft passing, hearing the water lapping below while soaking up the sun turned out to be a very good thing too. When the sun shines like that you make the most of it. And the other thing will have to wait until the end of the month.

Happy November to you.

Why would you put an egg on it?

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A wander by the river admiring the beginnings of autumn colour then lunch al fresco. The pub fires were lit but it was really too warm to be inside, such a lovely day. I had a starter of wild garlicky mushrooms on sourdough toast with a surprise poached egg on top which I ate, although they’d obviously done that poaching trick as it tasted faintly of vinegar. Then my friend and I decided a starter and a sinful pudding would be perfect, because we were only having a light lunch. Women’s logic is infallible. Mine wasn’t around long enough to snap but I can tell you it was swimming in sauce and had a good dollop of clotted cream on top!

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By noon today and yesterday it’s been 18 degrees and people are strolling about in t-shirts again. It’s incredible weather for October, we haven’t even had a frost yet.

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The flowers in the photo were in troughs alongside the tables and there were stunning hanging baskets behind us, all bursting full of begonias, freesias and other pretties. This is weird weather – but I like the temporary respite from autumn and I’m trying to make the most of the mini Indian Summer.

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I popped into my favourite yarn shop after lunch and grabbed an extra graphite, raspberry and lime for my ripple. £1.60 for 100g, super value isn’t it?

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I’ve just remembered that I was told off for pausing and squealing at the celeb version of Gogglebox the other night – Miranda and co were on a sofa with a granny square blanket hanging off the back, but also…..THIS:

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Even ripples are mainstream now. Is it the death knell for crochet? My e-pal and I were saying typing at the weekend that the handmade revolution can’t last forever and she reckons the cool kids will stop as everybody else gets on board. White walls and minimalism will be back with a vengeance, and the yarn shops will close again. But not for a while I hope!

There is an interesting feature in the new issue of Inside Crochet with Sara of Black Sheep Wools, all about how the business began, subsequently stalled and what happened when knitting and crochet came back.

I’ve just caught up on the first of the specials of the Great British Sewing Bee for Children In Need, it’s not great without Claud and doesn’t feel half as good as the usual series, but I like Edith, she’s very cool, and Dave makes me giggle. I won’t say who won in case you’re catching up too. I’ve got the other two to see as well.

You?

I don’t take any responsibility for the lame title, I asked for suggestions and it was better than my ‘Not cool’ or ‘Washing on the line again.’ Not cool was obviously because of the temps but …..well….it describes this blog too! Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. Be yourself. Ya de yah. *Grin*

Decanter magazine

In August I was contacted by Annabelle Sing a picture researcher for Decanter magazine; she had seen my blog photos from our visit to The Crooked Billet in Newton Longville, last April. If I agreed the magazine designer might choose to use them in an article. What a compliment! If they were used would I prefer to be credited by name, or would I like information about their picture rates? Well what would you have chosen?!

I emailed the seven photographs and waited to see if the designer chose to use a few of them, or not. By September I assumed they had found others. Then on Monday I had an email saying they had indeed been used and I should invoice the accounts department. The rate depends on the size of the pictures, three were chosen and take up 1/8 of a page. I’ve only ever sent one invoice before, and that was to Simply Crochet for my brooch design and crocheted samples. There’s nothing to it although I was a bit daunted the first time, but now I find it quite exciting. You email a document and money subsequently appears in your bank account. I’m getting a taste for it now!

I asked if I might also be sent a copy of the magazine (the November issue) and received it today.

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Ironically the photos here are pretty poor due to the low light.

The review is less than flattering, albeit honest. It’s a year and a half since we visited, when we had a superb celebratory lunch with friends. Ownership changed in September, after the previous owners of 20 years left, and the reviewer may have visited afterwards. It hadn’t occurred to me to ask about the review; I was far too flattered to wonder. Personally it doesn’t really matter as last year’s visit was my first and only, and I have no links with The Crooked Billet. I am rather disappointed however as I know the owners had built up a large following and the food, drink and service was superb.

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Still, I am about to be paid a tidy little sum which is a very nice thing indeed!

Woolly jumpers on!

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It was such a lovely day on Sunday; 17 deg and no need for a warm jacket. We sat on a bench and I was just saying how perfect it was to put your head back and feel the warm rays on your face, when I clonked my head on the back of the bench. I’d like to say this is a rare kind of clonk, but sadly it’s not. At a friend’s housewarming I apparently threw myself down onto her sofa, after unpacking lots of boxes, and hit my head on the bookcase which had been placed behind. I don’t really remember that one. Maybe I concussed myself!

Anyway. the walk, weather and sight of the trees, berries and wild fungi were beautiful. I really LOVE autumn. Always have.

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This is the first one I’d seen this season, on Sunday, but then I stumbled into full-on Christmas yesterday in a ‘room’ in Homebase. I like it in October, that’s when I begin to get little tingles about Christmas, the colourful lights and decorations to come. By December the relentlessness of it has worn me down somewhat, then on the actual few days it’s all fun again. Until the next year…

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The weather’s gone back to typically autumn temps with wind and rain featuring quite a bit this week. But the advantage of autumn and winter blanket making is being able to cosy under them while you crochet! The ripple is over half-way now and I’ve come up with a really cunning plan about the design. More on that another day.

Shotgun Lovesongs - Picador I’m really enjoying my Shotgun Lovesongs audio book. It’s perfect for rippling along to. The four main characters: Henry, Beth, Lee and Ronnie are dramatised by different narrators/actors. I’m loving the the way a couple of them pronounce words like ‘orange’ and ‘mirror’! I’m not sure if that’s due to them aiming to sound like authentic Wisconsinsites, but I likey.

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Tonight I’m making fish chowder for dinner. It’s a Lesley Waters recipe and you can find it here.

 

What are you cooking, eating, making, reading?

Snapshot

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Wondering: who buys these blue flowers?! I posted this on IG and one commenter summed the artificiality of them up perfectly in one word “Bonkers.” Indeed.

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Making: fast progress on my ripple. It’s a Christmas present and so is the motif William Morris inspired blanket. It’s full steam ahead with the hook. I’m enjoying the 1,2,3,4, 2, 2 rhythm and it doesn’t feel like a task in the slightest.

Funnily, after cancelling my sub to Simply Crochet, and not buying a few issues, I now find I’m downloading the digital copies. It’s excellent because I no longer have hundreds of post-its poking out so I can go back and look up websites and blogs; you just touch the active link and it takes you to the page. I have a too good to refuse digital sub for Inside Crochet magazine too. The patterns in the brand new issue of SC seem of a good quality. There are lots of pretty clothing and useful patterns. The skill level for many patterns has increased which is good for those who’ve been buying it since the beginning and are now crocheting at a higher level. BUT I’m not making anymore bobble mitts or shawls until the blankets are done. Famous last words?

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Looking: at my bags of woolly wotsits stowed away at the end of my sofa, they’re a pretty nice sight.

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Deciding: to save my yarn ends as I snip them after darning as I’ve seen some great ideas to do with them such as: gluing them over a mould and making a bowl, tying them together to make a scrappy yarn ball or putting them out in the spring for bird nest building. I’m not completely convinced at the wisdom of lots of acrylic floating around outside as I don’t know how degradable it would be, but brightly weaved nests creates a pretty mental image. It’s going to take me a while to gather a jarful anyway.

Feeling: happy that my car has been double checked at the beginning and end of the week, as the brakes suddenly felt very, very odd one rainy dark night when I was driving home from evening class. Stomach lurching is the best term. They feel fine again so hopefully the blip has been sorted.

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Anticipating: Saturday or Sunday brunch; an egg and bacon bap. It’s a dynamic eating experience. You have to be prepared for total yolk explosion, but that’s what the last bit of bap is for – mopping the plate! (Do the no-no etiquette thing and tuck your napkin into your top!)

Reading: Killing Floor by Lee Child. What can I say? Lee Child was on the book club on Simon Mayo’s Radio 2 show talking about his 19th Jack Reacher novel. I wondered what they were like as many people must be buying them if he’s onto the 19th. I downloaded the sample of the first book and as they cannily do it stops in a really gripping paragraph. Of course I bought the rest of the book and was hooked. Child writes in staccato sentences, there is rarely a comma which adds to the power and pace of the writing. Reacher’s just graphically killed 4 or 5 crims in one evening, and he’s a ‘good guy’, so it’s not writing for the faint-hearted. I might just have to look out for the second in the series sometime.

Listening: to a new audio book, Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler. It’s very early days but it’s good. The narrator’s American accent more than suits too!

Hoping: to meet up with a crochet peep, or two, in the next month. After being in contact through social media for ages it’s time to have a coffee, cake and craft together in real life. Weeeeee!

Baking: cheese scones are planned for the weekend. I write a pledge card each birthday listing a number of things I will bake or cook for Someone, some are specified like cheese scones, others are named recipe books from which I will make a certain number of dishes. It generally takes a year to the next birthday to cook everything on the card as I just do one occasionally as the mood takes. I’ve found the card is filled in with the chosen recipes and page numbers pretty quickly, then it’s popped under a magnet on the front of the fridge. It’s a fun birthday present, and I find it encourages me to use new or neglected cookery books. I also get to eat the dishes too. Win, win. I drew the line at saffron fish balls though last year.

What are you up to? Link to your snapshot post in the comments below if you’re inspired to write one, I enjoy reading them.