Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Crochet swatches Part 1

Remember in Jan 2011, when I posted my objectives for the year? The first one was to stay employed, and last week I learned that I still have a job, at least until the next round of public sector spending cuts. So that's good. For my crafting objectives, I've already reduced my languishing list, so now I'm about to focus on my aim to learn crochet.

I'm planning a progressive challenge of crochet projects over the next few months, using participation in the Rav Harry Potter group to provide the necessary motivation, not to mention assist with perseverance / endurance. In preparation, I need to make a few swatches.

Here's the first, in single crochet (I'm using US terms here), using a 4.5mm hook and including a colour change and rather inept use of turning chains. I did improve a bit as I worked up the swatch:

The second one is in the round, also in single crochet, and using a small-ish 3.0mm hook - includes increases, and first use of sl st to join the rounds:

Next up is a small granny square motif and a swatch in double crochet. Wish me luck!

Friday, 22 April 2011

Easter Parade

Easter falls so late this year, the egg decorations hanging on our apple trees are quite difficult to see owing to leaf growth:

We keep the Good Friday hot cross buns tradition here:

Chocolate is reserved for Easter Sunday. As well as the chocolate lollies in the pic above, there are assorted chocolate eggs stashed in readiness.

Wishing all my readers a Happy Easter.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

To the Tower

It's the school holidays here, and given ds's growing interest in history, I thought we'd take the opportunity for a train trip to London. We had a perfectly smashing time. Recognise any of these famous sights?

Tower Bridge

The Tower of London
The Tower was a great place to visit, but the queue to see the crown jewels was very long (see right on pic above) so ds and I skipped that. Maybe next time. There were plenty of other things to see, some of them very evocative, such as Traitor's Gate, and the green where famous people were executed, including a couple of Queens of England.

Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament
I'd not been to Westminster for some years and was startled by the visible signs of heavy security: a double, very tall wire fence surrounding the buildings and multiple CCTV cameras. Very different from when I was a girl. And that was in the 1970s when there were plenty of threats from domestic troubles, so this change can't just be down to the violent world we live in.

Finally, here's a picture with me in it. It was taken at the Tower, with one of the costumed guides.

I would like to make clear, that I'm not as short as that! There was  a step!

Monday, 18 April 2011

Sampler cushion

On Saturday, I said I had an idea about a patchwork cushion. And on Sunday, I sewed it:

I forgot, having done very little sewing for a while, how sewing is instant gratification compared to knitting. A completed project in the space of an afternoon!

I used the piece of counted cross-stitch for the centre panel and scraps from my fabric stash to make the patchwork border. It's a while since I made any patchwork and I felt a little rusty, but the finished item looks pretty enough to be a birthday present for my grandma.

This is not the granny who gave me the linens and taught me to knit, but my other grandma, who will be ninety-one next month. She is another craftswoman, who sewed - both at home and professionally - and worked in quality control in a textiles factory making men's suits. I hope today's work will pass her inspection.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Embroidery stitches

I'm pleased to report another unfinished, long-term project just came off my languishing list. After seven years, I've finally finished my hearts cross-stitch sampler.

Don't worry, I'm not going to start any more cross-stitch, as clearly it's not for me. I have an idea about sewing this finished piece into a patchwork cushion, just to ensure it does actually have purpose, now it's finished.

Finishing at least one WIP off my languishing list was in my 2011 resolutions. There are just two unfinished projects now left on it, and I'm working on one - the knitted basket edging - right now. I started this about two years ago - it was on hold as I had no basket to attach it to, but I finally bought a basket in a kitchenware shop last week.

The last item on my list is an embroidered tablecloth, but I think that one will sit on a languishing list until I am retired! When I originally bought the printed cloth, back in 1990, I was living in a small rented flat with a small, square table. We now have a much larger, rectangular table, for which this cloth would be too small.

Also, I since inherited my granny's linens collection and so have two beautiful hand-embroidered tablecloths of a similar size on hand. Here's one of them beautifying my dressing table:

The two little glass lidded pots at the front also came from my granny's house. There is more in the set, including cut-glass candlesticks, more pots and a ring holder, but believe it or not, I'm trying to reduce the clutter so I don't have those out. 

Wednesday, 13 April 2011


My dd was "sweet" sixteen this week. But sixteen! How did that happen?!

It's a cliche, but it seems hardly any time since she looked like this:

(Taken at about 3 months. Apologies for photo quality - I had to use my ancient scanner to produce this, as dd's christening pre-dated digital cameras).

Unfortunately I can't provide photographic evidence of dd's more recent appearance, as she won't allow me to post any of my recent photos of her on teh Internets. If it should happen that I identify an acceptable pic, I'll update this post.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Pot plants

Dh and I took a quick trip to the garden centre yesterday to buy plants for my giant pot, that my parents bought me for christmas. This time last year, we didn't even have a patio to stand the pot on! It now has lavender in it, plus a couple of geranium plants to add some colour:

Ds has a little blue pot, in which we planted a strawberry plant:

This is a companion to dd's pink strawberry pot (ahem. Gender stereotyping clearly alive and well at my house, despite my best efforts!)

We grow some vegetables in deep plastic pots. Mine are not as pretty as the ones this blogger painted, only it's a bit late to do that now we're in the planting season - maybe next year. The one you can see in our border here, has been planted with runner beans:

I love this time of year, especially because of the lovely tulips.

Saturday, 9 April 2011


My blog is two years old! That's right, from my first steps in April 2009, I've come a long way, baby.

My knitting productivity has ballooned in the last year. (Sewing rather less so, but you can't have everything). My list of unfinished projects has diminished (currently down to just two) and no more have been added to it. Quite staggering.

Here's to another year of blogging, and crafting. With a bit of luck, I'll master crochet before I write my happy third blogiversary post next April!

Monday, 4 April 2011

Knitting catch-up

After a mad knitting frenzy between January and the end of March, I'm rather enjoying not having anything on the needles, and my plan is to do no knitting at all in April. There are a few recent projects, though, that I didn't post here yet, so I'll wrap these up now.

Here's a rainbow baby hat I made for a friend's new baby.

This was yet another pattern from Itty Bitty Hats by Susan B. Anderson. I had this book for christmas, and it's turning out to be a very useful addition to my knitting library, as there are loads of cute baby and toddler hats in there - they make great gifts. This one was also an excellent stash-reducer, from my large collection of Rowan handknit cotton dk. 

I also made this lacy bookmark, for a Harry Potter class challenge.

This one was a free pattern available on Ravelry (note: Rav log-in required to access link).