Friday, 31 March 2017

Crochet Wash and Brush Up.

It's the last day of March today, a really beautiful sunny day, spring definitely seems to be here with warmer weather. Last night I actually turned off the heating and left the back door open! QT took advantage and strolled out into the garden for a rest on the garden path. After Knit & Natter this week I popped into the Co-op and saw these lovely bold roses and lilies. Such rich gorgeous colours, they look lovely in my new flower jug, I love turquoise. Poor teen 2 was getting quite fed up with me trailing the charity shops for vases or jugs for cut flowers. I don't know what will become of him if and when he marries as he hates shopping and doesn't really want to help carry bags. I asked him what he'd do when his wife was struggling and wanting shopping bags carried. He said he'd get her body building (shakes head).

We're having trouble at the moment with a crazy bird by the back door. He sits on the window ledge looking in and occasionally dive bombs the glass like he wants to get in. I've tried covering the window but it seems to make no difference. I thought he was wanting to mate with the furry cactus plant on the window sill but I think it must be his reflection he's attracted to. The vain bird obviously fancies himself. Any suggestions to discourage him would be gratefully received.

After the builder had popped in to discuss fitting a new front door and other complications arising from that, I decided to try again at baking some 'soft chewy flapjacks'. I searched on the internet and found various suggestions that basically said- use salted butter, soft brown sugar and cook for 20 mins approx in not too high an oven. Armed with these hints and tips I got the ingredients out from the pantry and my trusty well used recipe that we used to cook alongside the Sunday roast, many years ago. Anyway I've swapped ingredients and timings in the recipe and it seems to have been a success. I had to test it of course, lovely and soft and not my usual hard, break your teeth efforts but it does taste dry. Maybe I needed an extra tablespoon of golden syrup? If you have any tips for the perfect soft chewy flapjack recipe please do let me know.

This is my recipe with modifications after some research.

Flap Jacks
8 oz salted butter
2 oz soft brown sugar
4 tbsp golden syrup
16 oz oats
pinch salt (I didn't use this today)

160-170 *c 20 mins (this part is approx- as still experimenting).
Melt butter, stir in sugar and syrup
Combine with oats
Smooth into greased lined baking tin and bake.
Leave to cool in tin for 5 mins then cut into squares or fingers.
Remove from the tin after about 10 mins and stand on a cooling rack.

I was supposed to be having a clear out of 'junk' today such as old study material, diaries and bits and bobs of old paperwork, leaflets collected etc and also a cleaning session upstairs. Instead I faffed about looking for recipes, checked in on facebook and generally wasted precious time. So when the builder rang to say he'd be here in 10 mins is that ok! I had to say, er no. Sorry, having a bit of a lazy day, can you make that half an hour. He did quote me on that when he arrived, oops! Anyway I really mustn't waste a day off like that again, not good.

I did however unearth teen 1 washcloth that I'd started knitting a while ago now. It has his favourite rap singer's initials NF on it, spelt as in the graph pattern that M made up for me. The washcloth is based very loosely on the pattern (top left). The edging is the same but the actual flannel has purl stitches on the smooth knit side which form the letters. It's knitted in grey aran cotton yarn on 5 mm needles. This pattern was bought from a local wool shop but here are the details.

Which brings me to an ever growing pile of aran cotton for making some more crochet washcloths, although the pattern book I'll be using is actually for dishcloths, it'll be ok as some of the patterns are so intricate and delicate looking they'll be way too good for washing up duties. The Rico yarn shown is here and here.

I did say I wasn't going to buy anymore magazines as a good book seems far better value for money but... well anyway here is a magazine I picked up in town after Knit & Natter this week. One lady couldn't join us as her husband was ill in hospital.  

I've not taken any pictures of QT this week but instead I thought I'd show you this one from last year of him having a rub down on the swing/slide play deck set before we have to take it down. Another builder who is needing to get up on the roof wants to drive a cherry picker across the garden, which will result in the swing set needing to come down. Only visiting peeps with kids play on it anyway and QT isn't bothered either way. The end of an era, kids grown into teens don't need swings. 


The Journey for the book club is finished at last and some questions written up. I'm not really sure that I can recommend this book to you though as it was ok but not to my taste. There was nothing to particularly hold you and keep you interested. Neither were the characters particularly interesting enough to cause you to want to 'enter into their world' as it were. If you do like Josephine Cox as an author here is a list of all her other books.

Dinner tonight 'Friday night is pizza night'.
Jobs for the week- clear out junk and cover over book shelves in the front porch ready for the new front door and related messy work.
Finish knitting teen 1 washcloth

Do follow my blog and feel free to comment and let me know your thoughts.
Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Bring me sunshine

Wow what a lovely sunny weekend! So nice to see the sun shinning. M was busy sanding and painting the front window ledges, just one more top coat to go. We are to have a new front door fitted next week, whoo hoo! How long we have struggled with opening and locking that wretched door is nobody's business. It shouldn't be exciting but...

I've been busy working and thinking about whether I really need to take on more work and just how many 'Knit and Natter' groups do I need to go to! Seriously it's good to do things but it must be enjoyable and more importantly doable. It's fitting it in and still being able to do stuff in my own home, like baking, craft and even housework.

I'm in the middle of sorting out my room, too much wool lol. I've got several boxes to sort and throw out with old diaries and study books from when I studied with the Open University. I've done the courses and passed, so why do I feel the need to hold onto everything, crazy! I'd quite like all the wool on an open shelf, a bit like a wool shop but I'm guessing that's asking for trouble with dust etc.

When I popped to the shops this week all the bunches of flowers were labeled 'Happy Mother's Day'. Well I bought these for myself, I liked the Roses and Alstroemeria and bought them simply because I enjoy them, beautiful.

This white Cyclamen was bought at Christmas and is still flowering nicely. It was held in a seagrass reindeer's back affectionately called Robbie but as he's been packed away in the top of the wardrobe, the cat bike houses the plant now. There's something quite restful about white flowers.

There's definitely a cat theme going on in my house as I now have another cat with his plant. M said he was reduced as the plant was dying- it only needed a drink poor thing. He also bought some planter pots for the patio as I wanted to get rid of all the tatty plastic or broken terracotta ones. It's for bulbs and bedding type plants really as they look nice when you look out the window or in warmer weather- sit outside.

This week I didn't go to Craft Circle, instead after work I went food shopping and rushed home to bake some bread, most shop bread seems to have soya in which I can't eat and I also made some chocolate brownies. These are gluten free, not that I need to be gluten free anymore but I got so used to the texture and I prefer gluten free baking now. It's less sticky! I do think having Anchor butter is better though so I'll have to make them again.

Then it was time for a dash round the downstairs with the hoover before the boys came home. I'm trying to stick to my 'one cleaning job a day' which my Mum recommended many years ago. I just don't want to spend a precious day off work, cleaning my home. 

I'm not sure why but I've always felt wrong about sitting down during the day doing craft work, crazy I know, as I'm sure many people do without a pause. Anyway, I've decided to give myself permission to sit down and crochet for sometime each day. Sounds good, let's see if I do.

QT certainly doesn't have a problem sitting down or even laying down during the day bless him, he's been lolling around by a sunny patio door, all soft and fluffy! Love him. 

then later I caught him having a spot of sun bathing on Mother's Day, right on the stairs, in everyone's way. There's a window opposite him on the stairs at the back of the house letting the sun shine straight in.

Tonight's dinner was chicken balti and rice
Jobs for the week, keep de-cluttering my bedroom (be ruthless).
Prepare book club newsletter
More crochet!

Thankyou for reading, please click on e-mail, google+ or followers to follow, if you're on facebook check out my page and click Like to follow, whilst there please share photos of what you've been making. I love to see what's inspired you to be creative. Do comment below to have your say. 

Friday, 24 March 2017

Crochet books and planning

These blue hyacinth belonging to my son are this years offering, not last years ones honest. I love the deep blue colour of these bulbs, whoever washes up can see these through the kitchen window. These are last years. The yellow daffodils are still looking cheerful in the garden too, they are in a sort of island border to one side of the garden. Our house many years ago was actually 2 houses that have been converted into one. This border is alongside what we call the secret path which was really the path for the second house.  

I've noticed the start date for this blog was 17th February meaning it's been running for just over a month now. Thank you so much for taking the time to read it. You've probably gathered by now I try and post twice a week, usually a Tuesday and a Friday. I will try my best to keep to those 2 days for continuity. My original intention in writing a blog was first to have fun in chatting about the creative things that interest me and second to be motivated 'to do more' by being accountable in writing about what I've been making - knitting, crocheting, sewing and even cooking. 

In taking photographs I've had to think about how to improve my picture taking, using both the point and shoot and the SLR cameras. Both cameras alone will not 'just make it happen', they both need experimenting with, which takes time and practice. On the whole I'd say it was an enjoyable experience. I've begun to notice more opportunities to appreciate the goodness and beauty around my own little world. It's amazing what you see when you're on the lookout for a photo opportunity.

I wanted to show you the second book I've purchased recently which as it says on the cover has the cutest designs in 'cute and easy projects'. I've managed to remove the dreadful sticker from the front cover and it looks fine now. Goodness knows why it said £9, I only paid 22p + postage. I had asked on the facebook page if you bought craft magazines and which ones. At the moment I'm finding books are better value for money and maybe a magazine if I'm away from home or other special occasions. What are your thoughts, have you a favourite and do you think they are value for money? 

Below is a planner I've purchased recently as I wanted all my to do lists and general planning all in one place. I choose the purple one, with different postage rates I think they probably work out the same cost, which was under £10. There are some photographs of the inside so you can take a look. The size of the book is smaller than I imagined being just under an A5 but it is a lot cheaper than some and very much cheaper than the 'design your own' style ones. It isn't dated so if you don't use it for a while that's absolutely fine, if you can live with this design, I think it's great.

I've always enjoyed planning things, writing lists and bringing administration to whatever I find myself involved in. My Nan has always had some knitting on the go and often my Mum too. The whole process is fascinating to me - I'm easily pleased I know - from choosing a pattern and yarn, to feeling the wool, sniffing it too - the 'squidgy'-ness of the yarn!

My Nan also used to plan her weekly menu which I've shamelessly copied for years now. The teens like to know what's for dinner for the week, sometimes helping to cook or on rare occasions cooking the evening meal themselves. Watching the strange way teen 1 cooks, it's best to just walk away. I really don't care what some top chef says! But, it's always ok and absolutely delicious.


Taking a look inside - you'll find 
in here space to plan your whole year in 2 parts (6 months over 2 pages) with projects etc, 

and 12 double page spreads to plan your month pages.
I love how this page spread has socks on it, teen 2 always used to take a sock to bed every night, before he could even walk. Very strange habit especially as it'd been worn. I have some sock wool - clean, soft and squidgy, waiting to be turned into socks, a self patterning mauve and a green self patterning yarn. The soon as I've finished the Moorland blanket - halfway- I need to finish teen 1 knitted wash cloth, then I'm wanting to spend some time crocheting some small items, bunting probably for starters. Later in the year I may crochet another blanket of attic 24- the coastal one this time but... not yet!

and lastly with the planner-  planning your days, which is the main part of the planner. You simply circle the date and the day on the next line. Anything special for that day could go into the bottom box such as- 'write the blog'. 

I've always liked to cook or bake mostly at the expense of doing some more necessary jobs on my to do list such as ironing! The cookery challenge that I wrote about here has been a lot of fun, I'll talk about that the first week of the month and try and show some photographs. It's been really good to try new recipes and broaden our menu selection for different weeks. I can't believe I have so many books but only really use 1 or 2 recipes from most of them, shocking!

At knit and natter this week I snapped a quick photo of the bike they are still busy yarn bombing. I think it looks great, the lady sewing on the pieces has worked so hard, bless her.

Dinner tonight is Tuna pasta bake.
Jobs for the week- more crocheting of the blanket and get a move on with the book club read.

Please do let me know your thoughts and questions in the comments below.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Spring cleaning with flowers


Yesterday I carried on with some spring cleaning. My small collection of bud vases were the first to be cleaned. With the sun streaming through the side kitchen window this afternoon I couldn't resist adding some cut flowers from the garden for a quick photo shoot. This small act of frivolity precedes the more serious spring cleaning on a much grander scale.

I need to get on and choose some paint for the kitchen, that should help to step up the enthusiasm ready for the decorating. After sugar soaping the walls and pitched ceiling, then it's preparation time in covering the beams and low hanging lights. Apart from the seal around the worktop it should be quite a straight forward job of painting, I hope. The floor tiles that need replacing desperately will need to carry on waiting for now. 

Starting with the kitchen, lounge and dining room that is open to the stairs & landing, we're hoping to get the heating sorted at the same time and put a double fronted fireplace in the lounge & dining room. This should go a long way to providing more heat to the main part of the house. It will be strange though as I'm guessing QT will just wander into the lounge whenever he pleases. At the moment when the lounge door is shut, he can't get in. Not that he usually scratches the furniture now but you never know with cats. That is if we ever get a builder...

In the meantime I'll keep cleaning and enjoying these lovely flowers from the garden.

At the moment the gorgeous QT is hiding upstairs out the way fast asleep on teen 2 bed. With the sun warming his layers of fur, the poor lad can hardly keep his eyes open. This morning he got so hot lying on the bed in the sun poor love, it definitely seems to be a hard life being a cat. 

An update on the triffid amaryllis bulb that's growing taller by the day. I'm not sure how tall they grow or whether they need supporting at all. I really ought to find out some instructions on the correct care for this poor plant. Plants aren't really my thing really, everything fluctuates from over/under watering. I love the flowers but the day to day care of them, not so good.

The vases are now back in their usual place up on the plate shelf in the dining room. I must remember to take down the flowers and water in a few days time. There is another plate shelf opposite running the length of the dinning room, I suppose it appears to lower the extremely high ceilings but I don't really have any other collections to put on them so they just sit empty. It will probably have to come down when we decorate. It comes in handy for attaching bunting to as the ceiling itself is so high up, especially if I make some in crochet, I want to be able to see it.

This book I'd ordered by Nicki Trench arrived yesterday, there are some lovely flowers that will provide lots of opportunity to practice some more crocheting. There's some very pretty bunting in here and the flower layered granny square looks very appealing. 

I thought I'd drape this half finished blanket over the sofa, having reached this point now it's made me determined to get it finished. I've had so much interest in the story about this blanket if I was paid each time I explained all about it to people I'd be able to buy lots more wool. I do wish however that I'd sewn in the ends as I went along. Oh well, whatever you're making craft wise, a good tip is to sew in your ends as you go.

Jobs to do this week:- crochet more Moorland blanket and finish the book club read

Friday, 17 March 2017

Yarn bombing

A cheery bunch of beautiful flowers that I purchased from the supermarket in the week. The weather outside seems to be turning decidedly cold, overcast, wet and windy. Make that very windy! After a trip to the Post Office where we were left waiting whilst the assistant 'had' to finish her counting, I nearly left without paying, oops! She'd just put me in shock at how much it would cost to guarantee next day delivery for a large letter to a town 15 miles away. They wanted over £10, I could've driven there and back for much less in petrol. 

I discovered another setting on M's camera a Canon Power Shot A40. It's so bold and bright giving vivid colours that pop. I still think the SLR camera has the edge, but just love these colours, even though they're false, the true colours are in the first photograph. Both were taken without using the flash.

QT in the kitchen getting very hungry as I keep trying to take a picture. Teen 2 is shaking a packet of Dreamies above my head to make him look up. Why do cats always seem to be hungry, always shouting for food and pestering for biscuits. If I've been out in the evenings, QT will be waiting looking out down the garden for me, or sleeping near my chair, the soon as I appear he meets me and ushers me to the biscuit tin. The same tin that's become a 'biscuit time tin' and not a reward for sitting on our laps.

Yesterday I set off to attend a new 'Knit and Natter' group. There was only 4 of us altogether and next week there'll be one less as one of the members is on holiday. It's not looking good if I'm honest! Would that put you off attending too? I bought 2 more balls of wool with the intention of making some bunting for putting up when we have birthdays in our family. Love the colours, don't love the price, way more expensive than I'd normally spend. I took my blanket and sat crocheting whilst drinking tea and getting to know new people.

There are several groups hosted in the local library but it just feels wrong chatting away with the noise level rising when people are quietly trying to choose books. The idea behind these groups is to bring more people into the library, a sort of 'use it or lose it drive' I suppose. I saw 2 books on-line that I wanted to order through the library, whether they're still too new I don't know but I've resorted to buying them through Amazon. It's these two here and here. The flowers looked quite sweet, though there are many free patterns on-line too such as roses and more roses. The second one has US terminology but that's easy enough to convert here.

One of the ladies in the group was yarn bombing a wooden bike frame ready for the shop's window display. I don't know who constructed it but it was quite brilliant. The idea is to celebrate and support a forthcoming bike race through the local town. She had a pile of pieces that had been previously knitted and she was in the process of sewing them onto the bike. Amazing! It did look good, I'll have to try and get a photo next time.

I mentioned to them about yarn bombing with angels (it's a secret - so can't say more) instantly they were keen to get started, willing to knit or crochet some for me.  As they were so enthusiastic I'll print off some patterns and take copies with me next week. Knitter's do seem to be kind hearted and generous folk with all the knitting/crocheting for charity they are willing to do.

There are 3 separate patterns for the angels - knitting, crochet and sewing. I've included the pattern here here & here for each respectively, if you'd like to make some too.

Please note - these angel patterns may take up to a few minutes to open.

Afterwards I dashed home, very nearly didn't notice teen 1 girlfriend in town, as he said, 'Mum is very tunnel vision when she's out shopping - she's got her list and just gets on with it and back home again', sorry. For dinner the family had Liver Stroganoff, many people don't seem to like liver which is a shame because this recipe is delicious, very tender and not at all like the hard chewy lumps from long ago school dinners. I'm not sure if this cookery book is still available as it's an old book and mine was by Treasure Press not M&S like here. If not Delia Smith's version here will be equally delicious I'm sure, though she doesn't include bacon. I do think the bacon cut into strips adds something to this dish, particularly handy if children don't like liver as they can have plenty of bacon. Nice served with green beans on a bed of rice. The whole meal can be ready in about 20 mins or less, depending on how prepared you are first.

Thank you for reading, as always do let me know what you're up to crafting wise. Also if you've ever done any yarn bombing before x

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Turning corners with granny squares.

These beautiful daffodils are still blooming nicely beside the amaryllis. The Christmas present that promises to keep on giving. It's fascinating to watch each day as the shoot grows taller, seeking light. I don't think I've ever grown one of these before, though I've bought many as presents for people. It'll be interesting to see how it gets on and if it's as gorgeous looking as the photograph on the box. 

I can't help but think flowers look better outside, albeit a lot less of an impact than a bunch of blooms in a vase. They just look so natural in their woodland sort of setting. I love the trumpets on daffodils, so bold and shouty! 

QT isn't phased at all with outdoor plants and their natural beauty, all he's interested in (apart from bird watching) is eating grass. He's never out for very long and refuses to use the cat flaps that were put in especially for him. Instead we open doors the soon as he peers his face through the glass sitting forlornly on the bench, or sits waiting by the patio doors. He is a dear lovely happy boy that I'm sure wishes he wasn't loved as much as he is. He prefers sleeping to cuddles and is definitely not a lap cat even though we tried training him with Dreamies. He just thinks 'it's biscuit time - no time for cuddles'.

Outside at the weekend, the big tidy up has begun in earnest with wood being chopped into logs, the patio scrubbed jet washed, scrubbing it was just too hard work! I swept off the drive today, teen 2 even noticed when he arrived home from school.

I've put these granny square photographs together whilst continuing my experimenting with the SLR camera. The idea in this sequence was to show the steps on starting, continuing and finishing a corner. I've not given all the steps for a granny square at this stage. This is the way that I turn a corner on the humble granny square, there are probably lots of different ways to do this. I always like to find the simplest method that is straightforward and can be learnt quickly without constant reference to a pattern.
Having looked in books that give instructions for granny squares, I've found them to take the easy option and get you to just change colour for the new starting corner, thereby doing a slip stitch to join a new colour. The instructions would then follow 3 ch, 2tr, 2 ch, 3 tr. So they've done the whole first corner at once. Hope that makes sense. I'll stop now as I don't want to confuse but fear I may have already.

Do let me know in the comments if this way works for you.

Having finished the previous round (square), first chain 3- (this stitch counts as 1 tr). 

 tr 1 st into the corner,

tr another st into that same space, this completes the first 3 tr cluster.

continue along the straight side with 1 chain stitch between each 3 tr st cluster.

At the corner (after the last 3 tr cluster), ch 2, then crochet another 3 tr into this same space, this makes a turn at the corner. 

Then continue as before, 1 ch, 3 tr.

At the last corner, after the last 3 tr cluster,

ch 2 st

Join the square with a slip stitch to the first (starting) 3 tr cluster. 

Your completed round (square) should look like this.

An update with the Attic24 Moorland blanket, I'm loving crocheting this, the colours are lovely and it's nice to see a change from the greens dominating the lower half. The purples and pinky heathers are a delight after the earthy hues. I am having to concentrate on it though and often end up unpicking some which delights QT. What is it with cats and wool! He won't play with his own toys or anything attached to a length of yarn, it seems wool is fair game.

Thinking I was fairly confident with the pattern now I settled down to crochet whilst watching a film
I went with Four weddings and a funeral. With it's highs and lows and laugh out loud and cringy moments... well, lets just say the cat got to play with the wool again. Oh dear.

Have you spotted the green stitch marker lurking in this last photo, more like a safety pin for crochet as opposed to a regular knitting stitch marker. This was found to be invaluable when packing the blanket away, crochet hooks just don't seem to hold the yarn loop. Or at least not for me!

Please let me know if you have any queries about anything, do leave a comment and let me know what project you're working on.
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