Saturday, 14 December 2013

Get Knotted!!

Agghhh, my blog was hijacked a month ago and pop ups pasted cleverly over the template. Hopefully all has been sorted now and I have lots and lots of projects to share....well lots for me anyway, watch this space!

Go get a life and take up knitting you revolting blog-jacker criminal types, channel your creativity for the good of mankind, and not greed!!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Autumnal cycling....and cake

I had last weekend off, and was determined to get out on a decent bike ride, not just my 5 mile each way commute to work. I have really enjoyed cycling this summer. I started commuting back in April and steadily increased from twice a week to 4-5 times a week. Not startling but on top of a 39 hour physical shift work job it has been a sense of achievement to get much fitter. Of course the fabulous weather this summer has made it a lot easier. I have now reduced my hours but getting on a bike at just after 6am in the pitch black is also taking some determination. Especially now that it is regularly raining!! The upside is coming home in daylight at lunchtime, with time to do the cleaning knit in the afternoons, and no late shifts.

I bought myself a new bike for my birthday back in August as a reward for my staying power. It has an aluminium frame but is a road hybrid. My old one was a very heavy steel mountain bike. My route is mainly tarmaced cycle path but it can cope with grit paths too. I christened her Gertrude Lush, or Gert Lush for short, the highest form of praise in Bristolian slang! Here she is ready for the commute. She cost me the equivalent of three months of posh gym membership, never mind the saving on fuel=more yarn funds and a fitter me!
We live 3 miles south of Bristol city centre and can get there on cycle paths. My route to work is in the opposite direction across the north Somerset countryside. We are very lucky to have such good cycling routes here as mostly in England the roads are just far too busy and dangerous for cyclists. Bristol has just received funding for the first Dutch style cycle lanes in UK too!

Back to the excursion. OH was booked to play golf on Sunday when the weather was to be stunning, Saturday was forecast to be wet in the morning drying up at lunchtime. For once the weather agreed with the forecasters. Off we went.

We set off towards Bristol on Sustrans route 33 and headed off under the suspension bridge to Route 41, following the south bank of the River Avon from Bristol to Portishead. It was fabulous being off road and the autumnal leaves were stunning, but we could hear the urban existence of cars on the Portway on the other side of the river. After a few miles along quite remote forested path we came out  at a stunning angling lake.
Then out into the open and through the village of Pill. Here we are looking downstream to the west to Avonmouth docks and the motorway bridge....
 ....and in an easterly direction upstream back towards Pill and eventually Bristol.
We're cycling over the motorway bridge in a minute!

 Thank goodness for a big barrier separating us from the thundering lorries heading south on the M5!
We then found our way down to the Portway to follow the cycle lane on the north side of the river back to Bristol, admiring the climbers  climbing in the Avon Gorge. A fairly urban ride overall but very enjoyable.

When we got home, 21 miles later, I iced the cherry and almond traybake, I had made the night before, and we devoured a large hunk with a pot of tea, yum! It has grated marzipan in it and I should have used my brain and washed, dried and floured the halved cherries that were placed on the sponge, before baking, as I normally do to stop them sinking. It tastes good though. I am eating a slice now writing this!

Friday, 8 November 2013

Nellie the elephant packed her trunk..... DONE!

Nelliephant the elephant packed her trunk and off she went to live in Newcastle!
Our lovely middle daughter is 21 today and Nellie was part of her present, commissioned when she was home over the summer from university. Nellie will be renamed though apparently, she does not want to be part of the common herd.
The Nellie the Elephant African Flower Pattern is so clever, made up of crocheted African Flower Motifs; mainly pentagons with a few hexagons, octagons, one heptagon and a square too! Initially I joined the motifs as I went using the join as you go tutorial in the pattern, but I found it hard to see and it was slow progress, so I decided to switch to working the motifs and then sewing together which was far more preferable. Sewn above, join as you go at the bum end below!
The colours were chosen back in September by the birthday girl, from my Stylecraft Special DK stash, the pattern calls for 4 ply/fingering but by using a smallish 3.5mm hook I just made a bigger Nelliephant. I had to steal buttons from the cardigan I was wearing that night for her eyes!
Pictures were hastily snapped on my phone as I had rushed home from a half day at work to finish an ear, sew both ears on and make her plaited tail before packing her kicking and trumpeting into a bubblewrap parcel and bundling her off to the Post Office with an hour spare to the last post. Good old Royal Mail looked after her very well and she was safely delivered to the opposite end of the country in 24 hours.
Rear of the Year 2013
Nellie the Elephant finished 6th November 2013, started Sept 2013

FINISHED SIZE: Um, I forgot to measure!

YARN: Stylecraft Speacial DK
Parchment (main colour)
Pale rose
Candy floss

HOOK: 3.5mm

PATTERN: Nellie the Elephant African Flower crochet pattern by the talented Heidi Bears


I am just finishing off the border on my retro nautical throw so another "done" post is due very soon, and then I am going to knit <shock> <horror>

Monday, 16 September 2013

French Stripey Throw - Done over!

Last night I posted my French Stripey Throw finished post, and Blogger didn't pick up updates so it didn't go on any blog lists. I am posting again to flag the post of the finished stripey throw, hopefully!! Thank you for your patience and understanding and apologies if I have now spammed you.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

French Stripey Throw - DONE!

As promised I'm back.
I finished my French Strip Throw. To be truthful I finished it back in June, and we have had a long hot summer (well for England we've had a lovely summer) and in all that good weather I never got around to photographing my dense, warm, cosy and soft French Stripey Throw! So here it is.

The story started a year ago when I splashed out on some gorgeous Garnstudio Drops Extra Fine Merino in my favourite colours, a light double knit pure merino wool. I justified the outlay as it was my birthday money. I then stashed it like a squirrel. Nothing unusual there for most knitters and hookers, but I do not store, I buy for a project and use it. I may not finish whatever it is but I always buy for a specific project and not in advance of starting, and certainly not without knowing what it is for and how much I need.

I knew I was making a throw and that was it, but the design cogitated in my head, with extensive "research" on Ravelry, aka how-to-make-an-evening-fly-past-and-achieve-nothing!! I finished my Rainbow Ripple and started and finished Cath Kidston inspired Granny and also mum's Christmas present Vintage Granny, the blanket wa vintage colours not that my mum is vintage!

Anyway, a bit more detail on how my French Stripe Throw was finally born, back in January. It seems ages ago when it rained and rained and rained for months. Here is my only update a couple of weeks later. Since then we have moved house and I've started a new full time shift-work job that is very physical. I am so ready each evening for a selfish half an hour or so of crocheting with my feet up.
As you can see in the pictures, we are getting around to doing something with our little estate garden. The vintage gazebo came from mum's garden in Cumbria 15 years ago, moved to Minchinhampton where it resided with a clematis crawling all over for 15 years, and I was determined it was coming to Bristol as there was nothing in the garden, it had to go into storage! A couple of weeks ago when I had Sunday off and it was a lovely day, the two of us dug the turf and bedded in the wood edging and bamboo strip so the grass can be mown up to the edge, and pegged down some weed matting. It's scary how much this landscaping lark costs. A huge crane lorry arrived on Friday morning and nimbly lifted a bag of slate chippings over the back wall. Then we had to wheelbarrow it round, as you can see I didn't get very far on my day off on Friday and got waylaid by photographing my blanket! it was finished yesterday though.

Anyway, back to the important things. As I explained previously, I had 9 colours and I decided on a very loose 'colour pattern' of 5 rows solid and then a variegated similar size stripe of different colours and then another solid stripe and so on and on and on. As it gets bigger you have to lug the whole blanket with you, great in winter but it gets a bit warm in summer. However, there was no joining-together-marathon either. There were a lot of ends and the ends were "dealt with" very religiously every 20 or so rows, I would lose the will to finish if I had all the ends hanging over me, literally.
The size was determined by the amount of yarn I had, early on I sent off for another 12 balls, so 40x50g balls in total approx. This pattern is yarn hungry and quite dense, I kicked myself for picking a dense design with the posh yarn. I just kept going until I reckoned I would be getting short on the border.
The border I worked by keeping the pattern the same (dc ch) and picking up down the two long edges, working a double crochet in each row and then a chain to work into on the following round with a 2 ch sp and 2 dc worked into the corners. 
 I did have a few issues with the wavy edges, and so I worked 2 decrease rounds in border rounds 2 and 5, clearly visible on the pistachio round, where I crocheted two stitches together every 10 stitches.
I didn't have the same amount of each yarn so tried to spread the colours evenly throughout, some had run out by the border.
I was a little frustrated that I had chosen a pattern that ate yarn, so it ended up a throw size for the sofa, and goes well with our soft furnishings in the living room, a cushion snuck outside to pose!! It is gorgeous yarn, but being 100% wool I will worry about it more than the Stylecraft blankets that can be abused. I have no reason to believe that the Drops yarn won't wear well, I only worry because I spent so much more on it than usual.
French Stripes Blanket finished 14th June 2013, it took me six months as I started on Boxing Day

FINISHED SIZE: 160cm x 135cm including the border that ended up as 9cm

YARN: Drops Extra Fine Merino (Light DK weight 50g balls)
#15 Light greyish green 2 balls
#19 Light grey blue       6 balls
#20 Dark blue              4 balls
#21 Purple                   4 balls
#13 Denim blue            6 balls
#14 Steel blue              6 balls
#22 Medium purple      6 balls
#26 Pistachio               6 balls
#01 Off white               2 balls

HOOK: 4mm

PATTERN: Beach Stripe Surf Blanket from Kristen's Cozy Things blog
Inspiration came from the talented Cathy at Clicky Needles which led me to Kristen's blog. Oh how time is wasted artistically inspired blog hopping!


Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Retro-Nautical Crochet Throw

I have not blogged for a long time, and I have missed it. I have been reading other blogs off and on and find them all so inspiring. The trouble is that we moved house and now that I work full time, in a physically demanding shift work job, the weeks just slip away. I do still spend a few hours a week crocheting though so I have some catch up to do here! Just a taster today, my new creation, I seem to have called it "retro nautical" for some reason. I am over half way through but here is a taste, and I will explain more soon about it's destiny!! Rest assured, French Stripey Throw has long been finished and I need to share that too!

I promise I will not be absent for so long now!! I have to go and jump on my bike and pedal 5 miles to work now, I have also become a bit of a cycling geek.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Attic 24 Bag lining and a re-purposed basket

I've not been very inspiring recently. I have been plodding on with my French Stripey Throw and it is 3/4 done. Well I have used 75% of the yarn but cannot contemplate buying anymore even though I would like it to be bigger, for our bed not a single. I dug out some old Laura Ashley curtains and the easiest way to shorten them was to cut off the old tape as all the string was beyond hope to unravel, so I finally got my sewing machine out for the first time in 9 months or so. Our room now has denim coloured curtains with cream sprigs and this throw would look fabulous with them when finished. my plan is to start going round and round soon, the border helping to widen the throw, and making sure I get every last yard into the blanket so it is as big as possible.

The good thing being I also turned up a couple of other pairs of curtains and I got round to lining my Attic 24 "Lucy" bag at last! The stripey fabric were blinds in the bathroom about 15 years ago, I don't do subtle very well! I knew the fabric would be perfect and it was rediscovered in the moving house process. At least my hook and scissors don't make escape bids anymore.

Once the bag was done (hint, it is far easier to line BEFORE handles are sewn on the bag!) I still had loads of material left so a basket got lined as well, I made some fabric ties and threaded them through and now the yarn doesn't snag in it's lair. It is now a re-purposed basket, ha ha!
It has been so grey and so wet for so long that sun was a surprise last Tuesday. I managed to get out for a good walk with the dog and got a bit lost in the woods, it feels very suburban here compared to our old house but  there are still plenty of country walks that don't involve getting in the car first, thank goodness. I found my way out of the woods and found these snowdrops nestling the bank of the stream. The grass even dried out enough for me to mow it twice, and scarified. How a pocket handkerchief piece of grass can yield 10+ grass container loads of grass is beyond me, the house had been empty since the summer and I am not sure the grass had much attention since the summer. I was going to cycle the Sustrans Route 33 bike path today but it is so windy I fear I may end up blown on the railway line!
snowdrops spring
Roll on Spring!


Sunday, 27 January 2013

Tapping fingers... baking stollen and eating eclairs!

In limbo; waiting waiting, making more phone calls, hassling and waiting with increasingly impatient patience. The final stage of relocation has to happen in the next 10 days otherwise we will be wishing we hadn't recycled the tent when everything went into storage. Hopefully we are moving into our own house a week tomorrow and can start settling in properly to the area.  However, with the hindrance of the stupid English legal system, we still cannot be totally sure it is happening. so we cannot say to the removal company when they will be delivering our stuff out of storage and moving us from the rented house to the new one. Of course they may book up by the time we know for sure.

So in anticipation of the move I have not managed much knitting, no crochet (shock horror) but I have achieved a lot of comfort baking and eating. Last weekend I finally made the Christmas Stollen for Sunday breakfast. I make the rich buttery and eggy dough with sultanas, dried apricots, cherries, mixed peel and almonds in my bread machine from Delia Smith's recipe, and then knock it back, wrap it around the  marzipan (use by October 2012) and leave to prove in the fridge or cold garage overnight. Bake whilst making the morning cuppa, ice with lemon glacé icing and enjoy!  Lovely toasted the next day too.
In the week it was still cold, and the school one had a cold, so I baked  Oaty Banana Nutella Muffins to avoid throwing two very black bananas away, and Nutella was on offer. Smoothies might have been healthier! I "wassaped" the school girl to let her know that after her cold walk home in the snow feeling grotty (I am a rotten mum, I send them to school with sniffles) that warm muffins awaited. She turned up with two friends in tow, it was lovely having 16 year olds sat round eating muffins, drinking tea and chatting after school, just like Primary School days.

Then all week we have enjoyed a short revival of Great British Bake Off for Comic Relief. One night they made eclairs, I haven't made choux pastry for at least ten years so I thought I would see if I still could on Saturday afternoon. The pastry turned out OK but my piping skills are still atrocious. Uneven, different sizes and  knobbly bits but the "bake" was good and filled with whipped cream and topped with lashings of chocolate ganache they certainly tasted good.
Hopefully the colds have been shaken off, the snow has gone and I can get out on my bike again and get some exercise and start packing for the move, rather than eating all the time! However, there are 6 unfilled eclair shells in the freezer...and the top down sweater is just 6 cuff rounds of sleeve ribbing away from being finished.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

One-a-Day 15th Jan 13 Tuesdays Tallies

Attempt at today's Tuesday's Tallies # 2. I just posted and managed to wipe the original by having multiple windows open on my phone and pc, I should know better!

Great news, the sun came out and I managed some "bathed in sunshine" shots of my French Stripey Throw. It is measuring just over 40cm, but I will need some more yarn as I have used a third of the gorgeously soft Drops Merino Extra Fine. I love the colours, and feel of this yarn. Not very much progress on that this week because...
I've been knitting! My 16yo came in from a friend's asking if I could knit her this Rowan design she had found herself. However after reading other people's experiences of this pattern on Ravelry I was not so keen but I was keen to knit her a sweater as it is the first time she has asked me to knit her something. In the end she decided she only wanted a plain stocking stitch sweater and we have agreed on a Comfy Raglan Sweater which at least is a top down pattern (new for me) and in the round too (no seams!!) We decided on yet more Stylecraft, this time Chunky in the lovely denim colourway. I bought the yarn on my first foray to a Knit and Natter at Get Knitted in Bristol last Friday. It was a lovely morning as the Friday morning session is new so the 5 of us were all new together and nobody knew anybody else. The jumper is upside down in the photo as the rib is the collar and I have just placed the sleeve stitches onto pink yarn to pick up once the body is complete. I hoped to be finished in a week as it is a winter sweater.
Top Down
Comfy Raglan Sweater
Hopefully next week it will be a finished and modeled shot, and not one trying to disguise our messy living room that now has four different piles of yarn lying around in it. Hopefully we will also know by next week if/when we are moving. It will be nice to be back in a house we can call our own!

Monday, 14 January 2013

Crochet Cloche Hats

I loved the cloche hat that Lucy made on her blog, Attic 24 back in November. Although I am not overly fond of hats as they are claustrophobic and itchy! However, I thought they would be fun to make for our three lovely daughters for Christmas. I was not very sure they would like them and in the end I only just managed to make the hats.

My youngest is sporting a pomegranate and plum "special", in good ol Stylecraft Special DK. She was quite pleased with her main Christmas present I think, which wasn't the hat!! I may have finished the hat, but I hadn't finished the embellishments which were the running stitch band around the central narrow band of the main colour, and a big colorful flower with leaves. I gave them the chance to choose the colours and I was going to customise them to order over the holiday.
I made our eldest daughter one in denim and aster, I had to get her to send a pic after she returned home to Holland as she had missed a posed one on Christmas Day. I wish she lived closer, but cycling a lot in northern Holland means her ears will be warm. If she wears it that is.
The middle one got an individual cloche made out of Adriafil Knitcol, a self patterning yarn that I bought her last Christmas and promised super long over the knee socks, fingerless mitts and a hat. She got the super long socks in about February and they were posted up to uni in Newcastle, and now she has a hat. The fingerless mitts perhaps next Christmas?
I was concerned thet Lucy said she had a very small head, we have big heads and quite a lot of hair (well the girls do) so I did a couple of rounds extra and the hats are a little bit too big. None of them wanted embellishments which was a bit of a shame, I doubt they will wear them but I had fun. I may have to run one up and indulge my embellishment fantasies for myself?

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

One-a-Day 8th Jan 13 Tuesdays Tallies

One a day

Happy New Year! Yes I know I am a little late with Tuesday's Tallies, but New Year's Day itself was a little too early for a Tuesday's Tallies progress post, unless we were totting up the empties, or in my case ripped out rows due to missing a stitch the night before!

How many of us have started a new project, and how many of us are determined to finish their WIPs BEFORE starting anymore?! I managed to finish my Vintage Granny in time for Christmas and have been immersing myself in a self indulgent project with Drops Merino Extra Fine aka "posh" yarn. It is stripey so hopefully I can say 2-5 rows a day. I have done around 75 rows in the last couple of weeks. Here is my French Stripey Throw story to date.
Add caption
I do have a few concerns, mainly "will I have enough yarn?" but fortunately it is a pattern I can just keep on going until the yarn runs out. It is 110cm wide and measuring about 35cm to date and I have used about 8 balls of my 28 balls. I think I may need more! I am wondering if the wisdom of this dense pattern was wise with my posh yarn but it's too late to rip now as I have sewn in so many ends. I am determined to keep up with my ends this time.

What are you working on? Even if the aim is a square or a strip or a few stitches every day then progress builds over time. all are welcome to join in even if this is your first or thousandth project,  we can all enjoy our projects and be inspired.
I made bagels for the first time at the weekend, it was really strange to boil dough before baking but they turned out OK, if a little misshapen! They tasted great
See you next week. Happy knotting.

Friday, 4 January 2013

French Stripe Throw - the beginning

A New Year and a new project. This one I have been anticipating for some time as I bought the yarn with birthday money back in September. Choosing the yarn and then deciding what to make with it has kept my brain occupied much of the time I have spent working on my Vintage Solid Granny Throw that was finished in time for Christmas, phew!
Drops Extra Fine Merino
Since rediscovering crochet and knitting in the last couple of years I have used Stylecraft Special DK for almost everything, especially crochet throws. I have loved working with it and although I am very satisfied with the look and feel, I have had a hankering to use "posh" yarn, as so many others do and somehow their projects look so special. I would love to try something like Debbie Bliss Cashmerino or Rowan Cashsoft but at over £5 for a 50g ball there is no way I could justify even hankering. However, I had seen Drops yarn, and knew their yarn was far more reasonable. When the autumn sale was announced I pounced. I purchased Drops Merino Extra Fine in 9 colours from the fantastically helpful Wool Shed. They scoured their stock, waited for a delivery to come in, and sent exactly what I needed in 2 parcels optomised for postage, 28 balls in total. I went with a mixture of blues and heathery tones reminding me of French lavender fields and the sea. 4 balls each of 5 colours and 2 balls each of 4 others. The washable yarn is so soft and 100% merino wool, a light double knit weight. It is good value at £3.10 for a 50g ball, but I managed to secure the 25% off sale price. So it is over twice the price of acrylic but not 5 times the price!

This is what I am making, stripes, lots of stripes, inspired by Clicky Needles' Beach Stripe Surf Blanket
French stripe
The idea is just to keep on going as long as the yarn lasts, the pattern is 1dc 1 ch, then the next row you work the double crochet into the one chain space and then a chain, so it all interlocks and gives a lovely dense yet flexible fabric which is soft and very warm.
Garnstudio Drops Merino
Garnstudio Drops Merino Extra Fine L to R: 15 Lt greyish green:14 steel blue:01 off white:22 med purple:21 purple:13 denim blue:20 dk blue:19: lt grey blue:26 pistachio
The photos are washed out, although it hasn't rained that much today we have had enough of dank, miserable and wet weather around here the past few weeks, it's hard to get decent photos even in the conservatory!

I will be back on Tuesday to restart the One a Day crochet-a-long (cal) for the New Year, this is my project. Hopefully the weather will cooperate for some much nicer photos.

I will leave you with some inspiration, Kristen's original Beach Stripe Surf Blanket from her lovely Cozy Things Blog.

Edited to add, here is my French Stripey Throw finished!
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