Sussex

We finally managed to shoe horn a quick break in between work assignments. Technology is a wonderful thing for last minute arrangements. We discussed possible plans last Friday and by the evening we had booked this little barn conversion in the village I grew up in. Although we had five days in total we lost a whole day to work running over in London so that messed Monday up a bit and on Friday we were away by late morning so we had just three clear days.

Rye was top of the list for various reasons not least because it was my closest chance of finding decent wool! It’s also home to the famous Merchant and Mills but luckily for our bank account I’m hopeless at fabric related crafts. I’d love to be able to make some of their simple clothing items but ugh, I’d be learning a while new thing from scratch and I think I’m happy enough with my woolly pursuits. I won’t mention names but my usual spot for wool gathering seems to have gone over to acrylic worship. I did find a selection of lovely yarn elsewhere and ended up buying a few skeins of Malabrigo. Sussex born and bred sheep and their wool is what I would really have liked and could have found but I didn’t want to drag M all over the county when he really just needed a quiet week.

Coffee and cake in Rye was a real treat. Exchanges in shops are so much easier in my native accent! It’s almost like getting a bit of my hearing back. I should be able to cope with Northern accents by now but there are so many. I actually had a whole conversation with a woman who had a small dog and it’s hard to describe how such a small thing made me feel like a fully functioning human being again. I tend to get M to do the talking and listening and he hardly recognised me when I took an object in a junk shop and went to haggle with the owner.

We don’t buy much these days. There were a few vintage metal wall racks that would be useful here but we’re not quite ready for them. Major reshuffling needs to happen first! The vintage crochet scarf was an exciting find and a bargain at just ten pounds. I’ve soaked it in euclan and blocked it in preparation for minor repair work. I’ve got some thin pure wool left over from a charity shop bag of odds and ends that will be ideal for mending. I’m going to add a discrete dc row to both sides too. Ella has claimed this one and although I think I would have worn it myself, she will wear it with so much more style! I’ve been promising to do one of these intricate granny square scarves for a while and I’ve put it off all this time because of the millions of ends, so hopefully I’m off the hook now!

The barn was perfect although considerably smaller than the last one we stayed in. It had everything we needed including a lovely walk in shower. Two weeks would have been perfect! Little has changed in my childhood village. I showed M the playing field where I was allowed to play until 5 o’clock. Dad taught me to tell the time on my Tom and Jerry watch and woe betide me if I was late. One day I decided to climb one of the big trees, missed my footing somehow and was only saved by the strap on my dungarees. I was dangling high up off the ground by a mere strap but with a wonderful view and at 5.20pm I could see the top of my Dad’s head appear at the gate. I braced myself for the telling off but when he saw me of course he laughed his head off! Sadly they’ve chopped that tree down!

It’s always good to see my Grandad in person rather than FaceTime! We had some nice lunches out and chatted away. I told him I was sad not to live in the area anymore but in all honesty it just kills me that he’s so far away at a time in my life when I’ve finally got time to call round for a cup of tea every day if I lived closer.

I finally faced my fears and got the hem and cuffs of my fisherman jumper done. I had a bit of a mental block on those because I usually do them as part of each panel. I thought that picking them up afterwards might be a bit messy and awkward. I’d still rather do them as part of the main panel but I got them to work after a few false starts. I ended up doing my own thing entirely by going down a hook size and doing the rib the way I’ve done for hat brims. All the ends got sewn in quite late on Thursday and when the weather finally turned a little cooler on Friday I was able to wear it home. I fully intended to stay awake and make a hat with my new malabrigo wool but somehow the repetition of doing short half treble rows made me feel very sleepy!

Advertisements

Crochet trainer sock pattern

I’ve made quite a lot of these quick socks and I’ve seen similar ones floating around the internet that are made slightly more slipper like and embellished with flowers and so on. Once you get the basic idea you could do all sorts of adventurous adjustments!

For my own practical use I tend to keep them rustic and hard wearing. I use pure wool which usually needs to be hand washed gently. You can use any aran weight yarn, even a part wool content will help them keep their shape better.

UK terms

Using a 6mm hook and aran weight yarn, create a magic circle and chain 2 (the chain 2 does not count as a stitch here and throughout pattern).

We are starting from the toe.

6htr stitches into the circle, pull circle closed and join with a slip stitch to the top of the first stitch (not the ch2!) (6st)

Ch2, 2htr into each st around and join with ss as before. (12st)

Ch2, *2htr into next stitch, htr, repeat from *to end, ss to join. (18st)

Ch2, *2htr into next stitch, 2htr, repeat from *to end, as to join. (24st)

If you wish you can change colour here.

Ch2, htr in each stitch around, htr in top of first stitch (not the ch2) and continue working in spiral rounds without joining. After a few rounds it’s a good idea to slip the sock over your foot to see how the fit is coming along… if you have particularly wide or very narrow feet you can make some adjustments with your gauge and try a bigger or smaller hook. The sock should stretch a little when you try it on otherwise it’ll end up a bit loose fitting.

Work in spiral rounds until you reach the arch of your foot or as far up your foot as you want the sock allowing approximately 2cm for final cuff rounds.

Making sure any visible joins are on the underneath of the sock we will now divide for the sides and heel. Of the 24 stitches we are going to leave ten unworked that will go across the top of your foot.

Ch2, turn and htr in same stitch (ch2 does not count as a stitch for this part either!)

Work 13 more htr, turn.

Work as many rows as it takes to fall approximately an inch or a few centimetres short of the back of your heel. This will depend a bit on the ‘give’ factor of your chosen yarn.

We will now fold this flap in half with right sides facing inwards and slip stitch to join (see photograph). Your yarn will end up at the base of the heel. You can fasten off and rejoin if you wish but I do a loose slip stitch back up to the top (because I’m lazy).

Working in dc stitches now we will create a final cuff for the sock. Different foot sizes will mean different stitch counts so you’ll need to chain one and work dc stitches evenly on both sides of the sock with right side facing. Once you’ve completed one round of dc stitches try the sock on to make sure your opening is a good fit and adjust as necessary before completing four further rounds of dc. Work in a spiral and slip stitch at the back of the heel to finish.

Weave in ends. Make your second sock the same!

I hope they work out for you! They are extremely quick to make and I’ve even made myself an emergency pair in under two hours when I found myself on holiday in an apartment with stone cold floors (and no socks or slippers packed, but plenty of yarn in my suitcase!)

Feel free to message me via Instagram if you need help or spot a glaring mistake in my instructions!

October

I seem to be another year older since I last blogged. I had brief thoughts of doing 49 things before the next birthday but let’s be realistic, could I think of that many? I’m mainly content with my little lot. I have no burning desire to jump out of a plane, go white water rafting or anything like that. My thoughts are mainly wool related these days, along with simplifying things so that we have less stress in our future.

There is an overwhelming amount of house maintenance on my mind at the moment. I’ve mentioned that cycle before. We have something that needs urgent attention and M insists on seeing to it himself but then works all hours but refuses to pay someone to do it quicker (and better). At least we tackled the all important workshop this summer and several torrential downpours have proven it to be watertight at last. My own workshop also has an extra layer of felt on the roof too but neither have their trims back in place, that may well be another year.

We had plans to pop over to France for a brief holiday but cases that are assigned six weeks have a nasty habit of lasting ten weeks. I have been sorely tempted to book a shepherds hut or barn or something and just get away on my own. I am terrible at routine monotony and this is probably the most extreme case of it for a very long time. I pretty much do the weekly shop every Sunday, for Jake and I. He knows what he likes and inevitably some of the same things end up in the trolley, he loves M&S pancakes/crepes and whilst I feel guilty buying them ready made I too have succumbed to the simple lunch or breakfast of pancakes with a tiny bit of sugar and lemon. It’s the closest we’ll get to anything genuinely French at the moment.

Our weekdays jog along nicely with football training on a Tuesday which involves him driving, for practice and me dashing home for all of 50 minutes before going back to get him. Driving with a learner is even more fun in the dark, everyone should try it. Apart from brief chats about football, driving and studies we are like ships passing in the night. He still manages to walk past the bin on bin day. I look forward to the day when all this responsibility is his and his alone, he will have to wake up a little. I think it was the second week Ella was away at university when I received a message saying, ‘I don’t think I want to be grown up anymore’. Of course she’s doing it extremely well now. We are down to only one crisis per week.

There was a lovely brief autumn kind of month and then all of a sudden it feels a lot like winter. It’s absolutely freezing today and I’ve been wearing the same old aran cardigan every day. The house is plenty warm enough but if I sit for a little while I soon begin to feel the draughty spots. This particular aran cardigan was a vintage find and it’s perfect in a lot of ways, I like the fact the sleeves are quite narrow, this is ideal for crocheting without anything getting in the way! It’s also a good length. It looks stupid buttoned up to be honest but I think that was last an acceptable look back in the seventies. It’s this last point that made me wonder about a crocheted aran jumper. I’ve got two old books that have hideously complicated crochet aran sweaters in them. I think one is American which doesn’t help either but both are just so darn vague! One of them even says, ‘pattern the next section’ without giving any pattern! I’ve studied and studied them and I think the only way I’d ever make a garment with these books is by just winging it from the picture!

I eventually found a modern pattern online called the Meara Fisherman Sweater, it’s in U.S. terms and written very clearly. I still had doubts about tackling it but unlike other things in life I jumped straight in and was relieved to find it was actually quite simple. I had a blip with gauge even after doing an entire gauge square but that’s forgotten now and I finally have a front and a back loosely tacked together and thrown over Hilda just to see how it’s coming along. I’ve made it nice and roomy with dog walks in mind, it just needs sleeves, hem and neckline and it’ll be put to the test out there on those freezing cold muddy walks.

Although I’d already started the leaf stitch cowl before the jumper it has taken a bit of a back seat whilst I crack on with something I know I’ll be wearing a lot. The burnt orange cowl yarn is part alpaca and is incredibly soft. I bought four lovely wooden buttons for it but when E made a visit home I ended up sewing them on to her mustard cardigan. She will probably never button it up but we both agreed it was a nice finishing touch!

As of last month I am now the proud owner of one of the most expensive crochet hooks you can buy! Mum and I had a few funny text message conversations that started out with ‘I want to buy you something you’d never treat yourself to and wondered…’ Then me worrying that it might cost all that money and be terrible, and then finally throwing caution to the wind and ending up relieved that it is actually a beautifully crafted piece of kit! It’s called a Furls Odyssey and it absolutely glides through yarn and feels beautifully weighted and comfortable in the hand. I had some problems after making socks with a 2.5mm hook and it made me release that my crochet does have limitations, though not as much as knitting. 4mm is my most used hook size but typically I didn’t have a 4mm project on the go so I’ve started a textured hat for E and I made a purple pom pom keyhole scarf for little E. The latter used yarn I’ve had in my stash for a very long time, it was originally purchased for wrist warmers when Ella was ten! Yikes. I’m just glad it finally got used up! A little leftover ball has been added to the pure wool scraps bowl, she might even get a striped hat at some stage, before she too goes to university!

Stash Buster Crochet Cowl

With quite a bit more time to myself lately and the thought of winter approaching I’ve been sorting out my wool supplies and throwing ‘useless’ quantities in a bowl. Useful quantities have been tidied up, caked and divided into ‘pure wool’ and ‘everything else’. This bowl of pure wool but supposedly useless amounts spoke to me one evening and said, cowl!

I don’t know if it was the colour, the stash busting or the simple but useful aspect but it’s been a popular Instagram post so I thought I’d share how I made it. At first I thought, well it’s v stitch, it’s obvious, but on closer examination of my stitch guides there is actually a large number of ways of doing a v stitch. I’ve made two now and I made vague mental notes the second time so I can’t guarantee these instructions will be perfect but here goes!

DK yarn

4mm hook

Leaving a reasonable length of yarn for sewing gap chain 120 plus 2 for turning. The turning chain does not count as a stitch.

Half treble in first stitch and in every stitch across. Join with a slip stitch taking care not to twist the loop. (The gap between htrs can be sewn up now or later).

[you can of course make 120 foundation half trebles and join if you prefer]

The V stitches will be created as follows: htr, ch1, htr all into the same stitch.

Create the first v stitch in the same slip stitch used to join the round, this one will be created by using a ch3 to represent the first htr plus ch1.

*Miss 2 stitches, create v stitch, repeat from * until end of round. Slip stitch into second chain of starting chain, then slip stitch into the ch sp.

Change yarn colour if desired. Begin each round with a ch3 (acts as first htr and ch1).

In the second and subsequent rounds you’ll be working the v stitches into the chain spaces.

A note about colour changing…everyone has their own way of changing colour. For this pattern I pulled a loop of new yarn through the slip stitch performed in the ch sp at the start of a new round. If you plan to do one colour per round it helps enormously to sew in two ends at the end of each round so that you don’t have a big task at the end but also so that the ends are out of the way for changing in new colours.

Work until your cowl measures approximately 28cm tall or based on personal preference. As a guide mine measures 31cm wide and 28cm tall. I’ve sized it to be warm rather than with a decorative drape.

For the final round work 1 htr in each stitch around, join with a slip stitch and sew in ends.

I’ve used the softest of dk scraps for my final 2 rounds, in this case a tiny ball of angora that I had in my supplies. It’s just right for where the cowl will snuggle under the chin.

Socks

Social media does get a bad press sometimes but I do believe that anyone with common sense can take it or leave it. I never really got on with Facebook but I’m finding that Instagram is nudging me in directions that are good for creativity. October is Socktober over there and at first I didn’t think I’d bother joining in. My sock history involved several pairs of hard wearing aran wool trainer socks made for both M and myself to pad around the house or caravan on chillier nights. They’ve been excellent but they are fairly crude, worked up from the toe in the round, then back and forth on about half of the stitches and seemed at the back of the heel, then finally as many rows in the round to finish off, I hate wearing socks so I left those at trainer sock height.

The last photo above shows (on the left) the first attempt at a proper crochet sock but I really didn’t fancy a fitted pair made with a 3mm hook so I sized it up and used a 4mm which worked out as intended, a sort of bed sock fit. Thanks to the nudge I finally finished the second sock and I’ve even worn them a few times.

The sock on the right, with Riley who just can’t bear to miss out on anything, is my finished Beruna Sock. Without seeing any of the patterns in the book apart from the cover photo I took a gamble and ordered it. It’s called ‘Everyday Wearables’ and it’s by The Crochet Project. I’ve made quite a few things from their patterns and really appreciate the way they do things. Clear and well set out patterns make a huge difference to the pleasure of making something. They are particularly good at sizing which is also something that is not always tackled with much care.

I’ve since finished the Beruna pair and I’ve started a purple pair for E. This time I decided to make two cuffs, then work both down to the ankle and so on… to beat that second sock ugh feeling. Only this time I hadn’t anticipated how much strain the first pair had been on my wrists. I’m usually absolutely fine with crochet despite carpal tunnel. I wear wrists supports at night and that usually means no issues the next day. A 2.5mm hook is obviously my lower limit. I’m going to have to ration out the work on those purple socks to get them done.

Whilst having a break from tiddly hooks I decided to make the Brenn hat from the same book. I wanted a very soft brim so I used my special merino by The Uncommon Thread purchased in Loop earlier this year. I don’t have a lot of merino in dk so I paired it with some grey yarn I bought in Barcelona a couple of years ago. The combination has worked nicely in the squishy stakes, its obviously far too warm to wear at all right now but it’ll be serious insulation when it is!

It’s been like the middle of summer here lately. I don’t think I’ve bothered with a jumper for our daily dog walks for weeks. I even dug the shorts out again this week and it felt very strange walking miles with shorts on and yet autumn leaves on the ground.

Despite the unseasonably warm weather I have been trying to cosy up indoors. Crochet blankets are draped (or thrown) on the furniture ready for chilly evenings. We aren’t tight with our heating at all but it’s always a challenge to keep the conservatory warm over winter which is where our main tv happens to be. It’s a shame we can’t easily relocate it to our comfy and roasting warm bedroom. We had plans to install a wood burner this year but true to form (ie. not doing anything we decide within a five year timeframe) we haven’t got round to it. M is a bit reluctant to make a hole through the conservatory roof. I’m not reluctant at all. It’ll happen, just not anytime soon.

We’ve agreed that I should stop trying to find a style of woolly hat that will suit M’s head shape. If truth be told we call him pineapple head and he won’t thank me for sharing that. I think if I force him to wear a daft looking crochet beanie all winter in our draughty conservatory it might just bring the wood burner plans to the front of his mind. Cunning eh? Not a chance in hell of it working though.

At least there are still some good candidates for woolly hats this Christmas even though they all have a few from previous years. In my defence though I’m getting a bit better at making them. Getting the right size always used to bother me greatly but since I found a chart which gives all sorts of useful measurements I don’t worry so much.

It’s gone a bit stormy here with rain and strong wind and it is quite a challenge to write a blog post with a fully grown Springer Spaniel on my lap. This breed has many attributes, being brave is not one of them!

Autumn

God I love Autumn! I blame my lovely village primary school in part at least. Summer holidays were great but getting back to school was also pretty good. The Autumn term meant wellies in the cloakroom and a nature table in the classroom, which in turn meant getting out of the classroom to tramp around woodlands collecting pocketfuls of glorious treasure. Conkers were of course the most highly treasured finds. Thankfully not so much health and safety when it came to conkers back then. Apparently they give off a chemical whilst drying that repels moths which is why I have bowls of them everywhere at the moment. I’m not sure if it’s working but where there’s wool, there’s conkers. I just have to make sure they are above dog height. They keep expressing an interest and I don’t want to find out what happens if dogs eat conkers. I’m sure it wouldn’t be good.

I couldn’t resist choosing an autumnal shade from Baa Ram Ewe in Leeds when we dropped Ella back at university. She was supposed to be doing a workshop that very day but there was a mix up with email addresses and she didn’t get the cancellation email. It was a good excuse to try out a skein of their new Winterburn range. This particular shade is called Viking and has pretty swiftly become a hat! I really enjoy working with pure wool and the slight sheepy smell.

The hat pattern is by The Crochet Project, available in one of their book collections. It was also printed in issue 100 of Inside Crochet Magazine. I really love their designs and have one of the books of shawls but I must remember to add another to my Christmas list. The hat is called the Sitka Spruce hat which is not to be confused with a knitted hat pattern with the same name. This one is most definitely crochet! I made one of these back in April in an undyed yarn and I’ve been wearing it out on dog walks recently. The post trebles make a good thickness of fabric whilst being nice and stretchy too. I’ve got another on the hook for Ella, you’ll never guess what colour? Yep, yellow.

The mustard cardigan turned out ok after a dodgy start. We wanted an oversized comfy one and I found a free pattern that went up to the measurements we were looking for, did a gauge swatch and made a start. It turned out that the gauge was a pointless exercise. When I did the maths it was only ever going to make a chest measurement of 40″ for the 2XL which they described as a 50″ chest. Pretty frustrating. I decided I had enough experience to wing it but without any fancy construction methods. I just made the pieces traditionally and sewed it up. For the sleeves I measured Ella’s arms and looked up a sensible arm hole depth (I was surprised to find charts for these on the internet!) then took the cuff size and the armhole depth, worked out how many stitches I needed to increase based on my swatch which happened to be roughly double. It worked out that I needed to increase very other row which was easy to remember, especially whilst watching a good series on Netflix called Ozark! I’m going to add wooden buttons when I’ve found the right ones. I have a Jacob’s Cream Cracker tin full of buttons and none of them are right!

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it’ll fit the way E wanted it to. We’ll be visiting soon, along with a few things she left behind by mistake and a few of her houseplants. It’s a slightly mad itinerary for M. He will return home from London on Friday, have one night in his own bed, drive to Leeds and back on Saturday and then return to London on Sunday afternoon. Crazy. I wish I could at least drive to Leeds but I’ve been having trouble with double vision. At least he will have company when he returns to London and also only for a short week. J will be travelling with him and sitting in the public gallery for two days by way of some ‘work experience’ so that he can see how the courts operate. I think the first day will be exciting for him at least. Two days might be a bit dull.

We’ve had a few days in a row of glorious heat and sunshine. The dogs have cooled down in the various streams we walk next to. I’ve thoroughly aired the house by throwing all the windows open. It’s been very mood enhancing, I’m kind of dreading winter with all its grey, cold and wet weather. For now though Autumn is fantastic!

Contest

It’s not every day that I tiptoe down the drive with my pyjamas on hoping to slide the bin into position before the garbage truck actually comes round. M usually does this job and I was cursing J for not doing it instead. He literally walks past a whole village of bright blue wheelie bins on the way to get the bus to school and despite that and my repeated requests it just doesn’t occur to him to drag it out for me or even back up the drive. My mother would blame the teenage brain. Well I’m certainly looking forward to the adult one.

Anyway, not only did I not have my best pyjamas on I was also startled by a delivery man who decided to come up the drive to the far side of my car which is indeed a strange route which ends with the teardrop trailer blocking the way. However, when I saw the logo’s on the box I smiled rather warmly at him which confused him totally.

I was a bit emotional and overwhelmed with this prize I won very recently. I hope it’s not the start of crying at Andrex adverts involving Golden Labrador puppies again because I thought I was done with all that when I was done with pregnancy’s.

There’s a blog post about the competition here http://kelbournewoolens.com/blog/2018/9/announcing-the-winners-of-crochet-summer-crochet-something-2018

It was an Instagram contest run by Kelbourne Woolens who are based in Philadelphia and I entered on the recommendation of a new insta pal, right at the last minute. I tagged my ‘leaf’ cushion for the home decor section and the prize was this wonderful Station Wagon blanket kit and set of Mason Dixon Knitting Guides. I only hope I can make a blanket as beautiful as this yarn deserves. The colours are right up my street, I can’t wait to make a start. Perfectly timed for winter too! I can see this being my ‘go everywhere’ blanket. Home, road trips, holidays in barns and shepherds huts etc! My Nan always told me to carry a blanket and a shovel in my car and I’ve never forgotten this advice! Incidentally, the lovely insta pal, Karen, who suggested I entered also won a category for best garment. I was completely blown away with her patchwork jumper and she definitely deserved to win, not only was it very clever it was also hugely inspiring. It’s made me really think about doing a bit more freestyle work!

The project bag was a very generous extra popped in by Courtney of KW. We exchanged some emails regarding shipping and so on and I was curious as to how the design of these came about. There is a story to those and it was heartwarming to hear about it. I did reveal that I was profoundly deaf but that BSL had never been my first language but I did learn some as an adult and that’s how I met my husband. In fact just after Christmas last year when I tend to think about learning new things I decided to try and memorise the ASL fingerspelling alphabet purely because it’s pretty cool compared to the two handed British one! So convenient too, you can finger spell anything you like whilst still holding a coffee with the other hand! I mention this, only half joking, because that’s where we practiced, whilst out having coffee.

On a serious note though, talking to Courtney and then today getting emotional about that project bag was really to do with the realisation that as a nation we still have some way to go before there is a similar level of acceptance here. I don’t want a pity party but I’ve had some pretty negative reactions to what is essentially a hidden disability. It’s taken me a very long time to actually tell people straight off that I can’t hear. I’m sure things are getting better. I hope they are. As Courtney said, ‘it was a small thing to celebrate a culture she’d lived adjacent to for so long.’ Isn’t that just so positive? In the old days when I’d retreat from anything ‘tricky’ or have to deal with blatant prejudice my Mother used to tell me that perhaps it was down to me to educate people. I used to groan loudly every time she said that (Kevin style) but of course she was right. If I don’t speak up I am letting the ignorance continue.

OK so back to the happy stuff and that is yarn! Armed with my new project bag I might just overcome that final hurdle and join a knit and natter group! Yikes! Goals for 2019 I think. I’ve got so much crochet planned for autumn/winter and they definitely include starting this blanket kit!

September

I seem to have chosen a record number of images for this post and that’s most likely to do with being a bit behind on the blogging front. Lots seems to have happened. Whether or not I can recall everything is another matter.

We took Ella back to university yesterday. She’s a funny blend of intelligent, confident, witty, funny, talented and then bam, just emotional about leaving the comfort and protection of home. Although she’s been working hard as a Barista all summer to pay for her student lodgings she’s only been over there a handful of times. A couple of weeks ago she went over by train and stayed for a few days and was paid a visit by a policewoman who was doing the rounds of student houses to encourage them to be more vigilant with locking doors and shutting windows when they are out. Far from reassuring E that they are patrolling and there if needed I think it only served to worry her more. She wants to enjoy all that cities have to offer but she’s happier in the countryside.

We had a very ‘Lincolnshire’ day as we later described it, one day this week. I think I’d made a plea for a quiet day at home after so much activity and so many tasks completed. It wasn’t to be. E woke up with a throbbing hand having managed to get a shard of glass in it two days prior when an espresso glass was broken at work and not cleared away properly. I swear A&E departments display signs telling you that your GP can handle minor injuries and GP’s tell you they can’t, but we at least tried and then spent nearly four hours at the hospital waiting, having an x Ray, waiting some more.. all got sorted, antibiotics were given, the waiting room was highly entertaining. We’ve never seen a patient come in whilst handcuffed to a prison guard before despite the prison being opposite the hospital. E watches all the prison series she can find on Netflix so she was particularly amazed that his injuries seemed to be consistent with your average American prison goings on. ie. he’d been ‘shanked’.

Anyway, that really wasn’t the reason it turned out to be a Lincolnshire kind of day. Cows running up a busy main road and being chased by two farmers, now that’s a scene we have witnessed a few times before round here! Not only that but much later, on the way home a whole truck load of sheep being transported had broken down on one of the busiest roundabouts at rush hour. I say rush hour but we really don’t have much of one. Nevertheless there were police at either side of the vehicle and a huge tailback and quite frankly, this is proper news in this county.

One of E’s uni friends hasn’t ventured out of his home city much by the sounds of things. When she once described getting stuck behind a tractor on a road (every day of the week) he was amazed that tractors actually used roads at all, he thought they just drove across fields. I know! This is either staggeringly stupid or just tragic. I’ve heard of city schools being taken to city farms but I think it should be compulsory to take kids out of cities to see how the country gets its milk and meat and where crops actually grow!

We had one finally purge on the pruning side of things. The apples and plums seemed to be well over so we took some dead or wildly out of control boughs off both of these trees. Without a huge ladder the work is low sided and will probably stay like that but there is another massive bonfire to burn and two more piles the same size waiting to be fed on to the main bonfire. We’ve had a fair bit of rain recently so we’re waiting for a week of crisp dry autumn days before we light it. Harvey really understands bonfires and takes branches up the garden and deposits them near to the bonfire then follows me back for some more. At all other times he would never ever dream of giving up a stick without expecting it to be thrown for him. We didn’t specifically train him to do this but we did have an awful lot of bonfires when he was a younger dog so he seems to have just observed this is what you do. It’s pretty handy because I drop a lot of smaller pieces on the way and he tidies them all up for me. Riley is not so keen on the whole bonfire area in general and is wary even when it’s not alight. When it is lit he goes indoors, whereas Harvey still carries on supplying branches for the fire.

Crochet has been happening, in varying degrees of skill and happiness. I started the History of Trees shawl at the beginning of September and fell slightly out of love with the whole thing when there were gauge issues. Sticking to what met the gauge has been the right decision for me because I didn’t want to order more yarn. I’m seeing plenty on the Facebook group who didn’t understand this concept wondering why they’ve run out. If you look closely at my trees you’ll see that there’s an extra branch on one of them. Did I rip back five rows and fix it? I did not. The yarn is hairy and a nightmare to frog. Trees have random branches in real life. So do my crocheted trees. Get over it. One Facebook member said they would always fix errors so as not to make any future ones. Well good luck with that. I’m ok with imperfection on this occasion.

I tested a simple pattern for a child’s crochet top. It attracted my attention because it struck me as a nice basic top that could be made in any yarn and any colour combination. This one is cotton and came up a bit large so I’ll be putting it by for my niece until next Spring at least.

I’ve been thinking a bit more about making it up as I go, when it comes to crochet I’ve always preferred the safety net of a pattern but it gets a bit tedious counting stitches after a while. I used one of my crochet stitch books and some leftover rubbish oatmeal yarn and started doing a sampler of stitches. Some are only subtly different from each other but there are eight different ones including fur stitch which I’d never tried before, popular in the seventies! I ended up looping it on a piece of pruned Cherry tree and it now hangs in a window which shows the stitches up much better. It was an accidental project and now I’d like to do a more planned version.

I tagged along with M to Newmarket recently and the pottery mug was my most exciting purchase! It perfectly matches a blue enamel coffee pot I already had which we use for camping. The mug isn’t enamel but the blue is as vibrant. It’s been ideal for a small bed time tea which has been our routine since we got married. The rule is that M has to make the last tea of the day, otherwise its divorce lawyers. He’s away for two weeks so I’m thinking ‘irretrievable breakdown’ quite frankly!

I’ve just finished a basic cardigan for E using a gorgeous mustard tweed yarn, it was totally made up as I went along stuff and it worked! Photos next time. I’ve also purchased a pure wool skein in an autumnal shade with a hat in mind. We’ve just had two days of warm, over twenty degree heat so by the time I’ve finished the hat I’m hoping for a slight nip in the air at least!

Seasons

I seem to remember, way back in Spring, looking forward to leisurely summer days on the deck with my crochet and just keeping the laundry ticking over and the dogs and myself exercised but not much else. That just hasn’t happened!

Once the mammoth task of stripping the rotten workshop roof was done and three huge bonfires later it was burnt, M fitted a new roof and felted it. I thought he’d enjoy the task of moving his benches around and dusting off all his machinery and tools and restocking the space… and he did but so slowly he’d have been there until 2025 dusting off individual screws and pencils if I hadn’t intervened. It’s always a race against time with British weather and we had two huge piles of workshop contents on the grass under tarpaulins. I was keen not kill it off any longer not to mention the eyesore of such a thing.

I ‘project managed’ a day of putting stuff back including feng shui on the layout. Originally the main work bench was in the darkest corner, it’s now under the long window. Machinery he uses a lot are now in much easier to get to places. Tools he will never use are now on top shelves. The lack of protest and moaning suggest he was quite grateful for female logic for once. My motive is twofold, one is having my own shed back and two, I have a long list of things for M to make and I know he will enjoy making them. First up is a reclaimed wood fence panel for the side of our deck and between us and the new ‘lake’. We saw an idea in an outdoor seating area in a Brighton cafe and we both liked it. It should work well next to our outside cable drum table.

The rest of our time has been spent reclaiming garden from all the wildly out of control hedges and trees. We invested in some new tools, a pruning saw and some long loppers. The latter is absolutely brilliant and we’ve been able to completely clear all the overhanging branches above our conservatory. Having sunlight coming over that roof and onto our new table on the deck was a very nice discovery the next morning! We’ve done our best with the two fruit trees which have produced very poor fruit this year. Now we are stuck with all the bits we can’t reach so we may still need professional help.

Whilst hacking back an overgrown laurel hedge down one side I found a fallen pigeon nest and two dead baby pigeons. It was a bit grim. I really dislike pigeons and gave up hanging washing on a line a long time ago, I have to use an airer and keep it close to where we sit in order not to get my washing splattered with stuff! Even so, I still don’t like to see dead animals. Thankfully not as many now that we no longer have a cat.

I tagged along on a couple of business trips recently. Not overnight ones but a nice day out nonetheless. Ipswich was nice, it was a warm day and to be honest it’s mainly good for charity shops. I bought the soap nuts in a fair trade shop and have been trying them out with cricket kit to see if they are up to the job. So far so good, though it’s fair to say that as a seventeen year old J doesn’t seem to be sliding along grass to stop fast moving balls as much as he did when he was ten! He is still plagued with back problems despite several consultations with a private physio and mainly keeping up with the exercises he’s been given. It’s partly sport related but I’m sure that growing at the speed of knots and reaching 6’4 is also to blame.

Yesterday I accompanied M on a trip to Newmarket. We both thought it would be a lovely little town and it probably once was. It’s the heart of horse racing country and the Jockey Club is right in the centre of town. I’m not sure what the odds of seeing a famous jockey are but I did see Bob Champion who seemed to be a very friendly sort, saying hello to everyone. I must confess I would not have known who he was but for watching The Real Marigold Hotel just recently. I’ve never been a fan of horse racing.

I found a couple of pieces of pottery; a hand thrown mug for my collection and a small bowl which I might use for a plant or perhaps just for nuts. I also found a lovely leather dice cup, such a random purchase but proves the rule that you can find anything if you look long enough. M and I often play backgammon when we stay in a hotel or shepherds hut. We aren’t very good at it and I need reminding of the rules every time we play but last time we got our board out we both agreed that a leather dice cup would be good. When we found them new we didn’t think it was worth paying silly sums for one (they were £20 and up!) so I was pleased to find one yesterday for just £2 including six dice! I used to love Yahtzee when I was a child so we might revisit that too.

I’ve started a new ‘crochet along’. This time with A Spoonful of Yarn and it’s another shawl. It’s called The History of Trees Shawl and is inspired by the book Barkskins by Annie Proulx. I’m not loving the book, it’s ok and it’s readable but the story doesn’t seem to pull you along. I quite like the historical context but it’s laborious in places. The crochet itself has lost a bit of appeal too. There’s a Facebook group and it was quickly apparent that the gauge was a bit off and most were having to go down a hook size or two to achieve the gauge. On this occasion it has produced a much denser fabric and I did agonise over this to start with, knowing that to use a bigger hook would mean needing more yarn. Since I couldn’t get extra yarn from the same batch number and seeing how batches vary hugely from Facebook photo’s I decided to go with the denser fabric. Not knowing whether this will work as a garment is killing the enjoyment somewhat.

At least the shawl is reminding me of autumnal colours. I’ve chosen the brown because I wear my Fly boots all winter and they happen to be brown. I have a feeling that E might just borrow this shawl when it’s done and accidentally keep it. This happens from time to time! Hazards of having a daughter I guess. I’ve just finished making her a set of crochet bunting exactly the same as the set I made for our bedroom. She has a hygge, boho, neutrals vibe going on in her uni room this year, I’ve also made her a crochet sampler wall hanging and although it wasn’t the greatest piece of work it has sparked a few ideas for rather more planned versions.

I know I’m not alone in looking forward to the school rhythm now that August is over. J goes back 5th and E goes back to uni about 13th, although she is going back to Leeds for a few days from 5th so the latter half of this week will be ‘back to normal’ for me. Normal meaning housework, laundry, dog walking, diy, probably more gardening of the hacking back variety and then finally a bit of quiet crochet before the annoying tall kid arrives home and needs feeding.

I’m already noticing all the changes of the seasons on our dog walks. There are big fat sloe berries in the hedgerows and crab apples to be found if you know where to look (slightly off the footpath!) we haven’t made crab apple jelly jam for years and M is keen to make it again so next time I walk that way I’ll be swinging a deep round egg basket on my arm and the dogs will be ‘helping’ (eating anything that drops). They eat cooking apples from our garden every year and I’m amazed that it doesn’t make them ill.

M and I are looking at dates for a short break somewhere. He’s pretty booked up with work until Christmas and he’s doing training some weekends but fingers crossed. We always start with a wish list of places we’d like to go but it doesn’t always work out if time is short and we don’t want to lose a day either end just travelling. so who knows where we will go, just the thought of being able to go somewhere new is exciting enough, even if we don’t leave the U.K.

I’m still working on the camper van plan. I think M is struggling with the idea of swapping a luxury caravan for more primitive accommodation. I’m hopeful something will prove to be a good happy medium. With all the music festivals the kids have attended I do wish we’d bought an old banger of a van some years ago so they could at least have camped in relative style! E had such bad weather to contend with one year that we had to drive for two hours at nearly midnight and rescue them from torrential downpours and mud up to their knees. They’d done their absolute best to see it through but that night was extreme and they were among hundreds getting rescued by parents with black sacks across their back seats! J was luckier with his first festival although just an ordinary shower of rain proved too much for his cheap tent and he ended up sending a few nights in a damp sleeping bag. He came home with a raging temperature and no voice which hasn’t put him off doing the same next year, unfortunately. Hopefully M will have more free time next Spring and be able to finish the teardrop trailer. It’s so close now, just cladding and doors.

It’s cooler and overcast here today. I’ve spent an hour sorting all my projects out, putting books away, clearing the clutter. I’m getting ready for a calmer second half to my week. I need a quiet afternoon to start the trees on my shawl cal, they’ll be done using raised trebles on a background of two colour stripes so I don’t want any requests for baked croissants or clean socks while I’m concentrating! My hands and arms are scratched from brambles, lumpy with stinging nettle stings and brown from the sun, I’d say that was a very productive summer wouldn’t you? I’m so ready for Autumn!

Recycled cotton face cloths

I made a dozen of these face cloths when I first started crocheting and I fully confess that it took me several more years after that to fully understand the concept of turning chains; when to ignore them, where the first stitch was and so on. The first cloths therefore, were all random rhombus shapes but they’ve been in constant use and no-one seemed to mind. I thought it was about time I made some new ones and being able to make them perfectly square this time was a very pleasing thought!

I did have a pattern or perhaps a square from a book of blanket squares but I cannot track that particular one down so I’m jotting down what I’ve done this time to share. If you make them in coarse dishcloth cotton they will be ideal for just that, dishes! If you use recycled cotton or anything soft and not mercerised they’ll be ok for face cloths. I had quite a good stash of recycled cottons mostly by Sirdar and Rowan in both DK and Aran weights, all thrifted from charity shops and in quantities not much good for anything else. You’ll need less than 50g for each, most of mine weighed in at 35-40g for a 20cm square cloth.

I used what I consider to be half a hook size above an appropriate hook size; so for dk cotton I use a 4.5mm hook and for Aran 5 or 5.5mm. You might prefer a more tightly woven cloth, I like ours to be nice and flexible.

So, using your cotton and chosen hook, chain 3 to start (one of these will be your turning chain, ignore all turning chains and do not count as a stitch).

Work into the back loop throughout.

Increase rows

Row 1. dc into second and third chain from hook (2st) ch1, turn.

Row2. dc twice in both stitches. (4st) ch1, turn.

Row 3. dc twice in first stitch, dc across until last stitch, dc twice in last stitch, ch1, turn.

Repeat row 3 until side reaches desired size or until just under half of your leftover yarn ball has been used.

Decrease rows

Ch1, dc2tog, dc across until last 2st, dc2tog, turn.

Repeat this row until 4st remain, dc2tog twice, turn.

Dc2tog to finish, fasten off.

Weave in ends.

You can of course chain stitch a hanging loop before fastening off if you wish and slip stitch it back to the start of the chain.

I like the raw edges but it would be easy enough to edge them in dc stitches.

It’s important to look carefully for the last stitch in a row on the increase rows because this last stitch just tilts away slightly and can be easy to miss. Count for the first few rows if you’re having problems with this. Each row should increase by two each time. Do not count turning chains.

There is obviously the option to crochet ribbed squares not in a diagonal fashion and these will make perfectly good face cloths too.