We are just home after a bracing walk through half frozen, half slushy fields. I’m not keen on dog coats but I do wonder whether they’d like them for the way home! I buried them in blankets instead but Riley likes to watch the world go by so only Harvey remained under his. It’s hard to tell whether Harvey shivers with cold, fear or excitement. We’ve never really been able to work it out. He shivers in the height of summer when invited to go in the car so it’s either fear of the car or excitement about the walk. He also shivers after a swim so that’s obviously the cold. Riley rarely shivers at all.

M has been home for the best of a week. He’s still got to be quite careful but he has insisted in going back to work, such is the life of a self employed person. We had a slow, mainly indoor week, with just a few short trips to try out a new coffee place that has opened up much closer to us than any of the town or other out of town locations. It’s a shame there are no soft furnishings to absorb a bit of the sound reverberation, it’s a struggle to have a conversation in there, the coffee is good though, and to be honest it is still a bit of a battle to get M to put his phone down for half an hour. I went armed with a few crochet magazines.

M and I have got to that stage, where, because of Little E I think, we have gone all slushy about small kids. There’s some seriously cute ones about with little snow suits and bright wellies. M is particularly skilful at chatting to small children and several times a Mother has said, oh, he/she doesn’t usually chat much! When we lived in Oxford I used to take E to various little cafes, particularly those with a kid’s reading corner. I’d get a little bit of time to read a newspaper or chat with a friend and E was always as happy as a pig in clover with a pile of books.

Yesterday, however, was a whole new ball game for me and I must admit I was wincing just waiting for the small girl running around the cafe in her socks to slip or be scalded with hot coffee. There we two narrow escapes where she ran underneath the path of hot drinks being carried to tables and customers had to suddenly stop and raise the mugs. I never want to be that old bag who says to the mother, she nearly got drenched in boiling liquid just now so I sat there uncomfortably and hoping that she’d be ok. Sure, my own children would probably have loved to have run around cafes too but a combination of it being a huge no no in our family (my brother and I were always taught to sit furthest away from already occupied tables let alone run past anyone!) and the safety issue meant that I always carried pencils and papers, books, puzzles, activity books or whatever was handy to keep them amused. I wonder why these big chain coffee places don’t have a small play corner and colouring sheets?

Apart from coffee outings we have watched a film a day on a Netflix. I can’t even remember their titles. We watched a series called le Mante which was French and about a female serial killer who helps solve a copycat killer case. It was not my usual preferred subject matter but it was pretty good. We are watching a Norwegian series too, Borderliner I think it’s called, not quite as good but sometimes you just have to limp through to the end to see what happens. We’ve finished series one of The Code, an Australian series, again, not my usual thing but since M has been recovering I’ve let him get away with choosing what to watch this week!

Today with the house to myself for a while I’ve finally unpacked a few bits from Sussex and some purchases I made in London. Pebbles with holes right the way through them are mainly my treasures from my trip South! I did find this Hornsea pottery mug for 50p though and with mustard creeping in everywhere it fits right in. You can’t beat a good old fashioned seventies mug.

I’ve wound my two new skeins from Loop into cakes and I’ve been browsing for ideas for what to make with them. I’m undecided yet but I’m sure something will come to mind. They both have mainly merino content so I want to take advantage of that softness, I don’t have a favourite every day cowl so that’s a contender.

E and I did a quick visit to Muji on the way back to St Thomas’s Hospital on Sunday. When I was a graphic designer I loved to get completely stocked up with good pens and stationery every time work took me to London. I’ve not been so organised with my crochet notes over the years and I hate to have to work things out from scratch when I’ve done it before but can’t remember how. I’ve bought a graph pad and a lined pad which are fairly thin so that I can keep them in the large denim pouch along with a few pens and take them wherever I go. At home I prefer a nice tin for all my bits and bobs like small scissors, stitch markers, tape measure etc but for travel these aren’t very practical. M and I will be flying to Jersey again soon and I’m streamlining the whole crochet travel kit beforehand!

I’ve written out long hand the basic crochet sock pattern that I’m using at the moment. I plan to add some of the patterns for things that I can cope with making over and over, like certain hats or shawls. Whilst my iPad stores a lot of my patterns it’s also a bit of a pain to cart everywhere so I often leave it behind. I just want a few basic patterns to hand that make good travel projects.

I’ve just finished making a basic top down crochet jumper. I’ve made toddler cardigans using this method but never an adult one. I made some scribbled notes as I went so I will transfer those to my new notebook too. I changed so much of the original pattern it’s now a new pattern I can follow again in the future. It wasn’t a very well thought out project colour-wise. I had some large balls of aran with wool and wanted to use them up. I’m glad I came across the pattern (link on my Instagram post) because the whole jumper was done in one piece with very few ends to deal with. The pattern is for short sleeves and I wanted a winter jumper so I made long ones. I did rip the first sleeve back a bit when the shape wasn’t tapering fast enough. It was my own fault. I should have applied some maths before I started it. I’m not particularly happy with the cuffs and the hem in front and back post trebles, I think next time I might do a back loop rib and attach it afterwards.

It was all finished in time for the mini beast of the east. It certainly was mini, we had a bit of snow on Friday night, some blizzard type weather on Saturday and then a decent amount overnight which put paid to J’s football match on Sunday. M didn’t want to chance slipping over in the village so I took Riley for a walk and M took H up the garden for a game of fetch. Harvey was more than happy with this arrangement because he hates being on a lead. Riley wasn’t keen on snow accumulating on his ears so we stopped to have a shake every now and then. I caught one such shake on my phone camera and it’s on Instagram. Today it’s mainly all gone, leaving behind a boggy mess but I was glad it came at all. I missed the last proper snow fall here while I was dog-sitting Archie and although he was good fun and expert at catching snowballs I’d never really been out with Riley in a decent amount of snow so I was curious. I think it puzzles him a little and he just seems so happy to be warm and dry and snuggled up next to me on the sofa afterwards!

Later I will indulge Riley again and we will be sitting down to watch a film while I work on the sleeves for E’s Diamonds and Bobbles jumper. I should have finished this whilst away looking after Archie but the beach and long walks were to good to pass up. I think he is used to two walks a day whereas here I tend to take H and R out for a good long ramble in the first half of the day. It’s like an off road assault course for them with rivers to jump across or swim in, ploughed fields to run up and down in and with plenty of animal smells to chase after. Getting them both clean and dryish afterwards is a fairly big task on its own so there’s no chance I’d be doing all this twice a day. In the afternoon they take themselves off down the garden and hop into the field for a sniff round. I’m lucky they are both the ‘coming back’ type. Our black Labrador, Jake, was not!

It has definitely been a stressful couple of weeks. Both M and I have had to take stock and talk about tricky things like finances and in particular what would happen if… I’m only glad he was prepared to talk at all. I’ve had to chip away at his head in the sand approach to life in years gone by and make him see that there is another way. E will often say that being an adult sucks. I haven’t the heart to remind her that she’s got plenty more years of having to put up with that!

Here’s the link to the super easy crochet sweater pattern…



We are certainly cramming in lots of ‘adventure’ this year. Only recently we all managed to get snowed in separately in four different locations. I was in Bexhill with just enough snow to cause a little disruption. E was in Leeds with quite a lot of snow and nearly a week of snow days. J was in Lincoln with nearly a whole week off school too. M was in Jersey with three days of cancelled flights. I felt quite uneasy about it all, but mainly because I was worried that ‘someone’ might leave the dogs outside by mistake. A photo of them drying off with towels over them reassured me that everything was under control.

I’d barely got the house sorted after leaving it in the hands of M and J for a week, then J for a further week and was beginning to look forward to getting back into my own dog walking routine (you can see that Harvey was enjoying it too!) as well as fixing a few DIY jobs that were long overdue. M travelled to London last Monday and ended up having to go to A&E on Tuesday. It was a classic case of thinking it would be an in and out visit, then maybe just an overnight stay just to be safe, then he had a few more tests and so it went on, each time telling me not to come down to London that he’d probably be out the next day. By Friday I started to ignore those messages and booked train tickets for E and myself.

I find London quite overwhelming these days. Small doses are preferable and 48 hours was more than enough. On the plus side we were able to spend time with my lovely little niece. I do struggle to hear small female voices but E filled me in some of the time and it was lovely when she was able to read E’s bedtime story. At some stage E decided we were going to play hide and seek. Quite an interesting concept in an open plan flat with a safety gate to the lower floor. I did wonder how many places she might think of. Silly me for not finding her with her head inside an orange stool with her legs sticking out! J used to do exactly the same sort of thing!

With visiting hours from 2pm and Islington pretty much on the route from where my Brother lives to the hospital I persuaded E that Camden Passage might be of interest other than Loop London! Crafty eh? We had planned for her to leave me there for a while but she ended up coming in. Having seen that the majority of shoppers there at the time were closer to her age than mine (lots of selfies were being taken!) she was quite drawn to one of the simple garter stitch projects. The sample was out but the kit wasn’t in stock so I will treat her to that when they have more. I think knitting would be very therapeutic as an antidote to all her studying.

In all my years of knitting first and now crochet I’ve never really spent silly sums on a hank of yarn but as E said, it’s not every day you come to London. (When I last tried to visit Loop three years ago it was closed). I ended up buying two hanks at what I call silly prices but they are luxurious; the one I’ve photographed is merino with cashmere and the other is a variegated mustard in the same weight. They work quite well together. I will be thinking long and hard before deciding what to make with them! I must admit E is a very good shopping partner. I’m such a boring nerd when I go shopping on my own and always manage to talk myself out of any adventurous purchases. I then travel home kind of wishing I had bought whatever it was.

M was very pleased to see us, we had two long visits over the two days and the long expensive journey was well worth it to see how much he cheered up. It was hard leaving him there and travelling home so fingers crossed he won’t be there for too much longer.

Meanwhile I’m finding that the only thing I can really focus on for any length of time is cupboard sorting! What a turn up for the books! I thought I was done with all of that post Christmas. It’s mainly the food cupboard I’ve turned my attention too because it’s an absolute shambles. If you did through the keyhole you’d deduce that someone who loves to cook lives here but with no home organisational skills. I guess that cupboard has always been more M’s domain. I’ve previously sorted his many herbs and spices but this last week I’ve also thrown out pastes and tins and bottles, often with duplicates.

J and I have been having the kind of meals that I consider to be a proportionate amount of cooking to eating time. Ten minutes cooking to 5 minutes eating is perfect in my world. OK so some things take longer but don’t necessarily need watching too much. I wouldn’t say I’m enjoying being in charge of the kitchen but I’m certainly taking pleasure from having simplified our meals. J has even been quite complimentary about my efforts.

I’ve also been cutting down the major food shopping trips. The weather has been poor, the potholes are diabolical and the possibility of having to go to London at short notice has meant that I’ve been shopping close to home for just a few days at a time. It’s working nicely. With less choice decisions are made much quicker and it’s easier to keep it simple.

Once I receive some more positive news from London I think I will be back with my crochet. I’ve got too many things on the go and need to get some finished.

I was lucky enough to be given an Ashford Traditional spinning wheel by a friend of a friend. I admired it for a few months but didn’t know where to start at all. Whilst in Bexhill I accepted the very kind offer of a crash course in spinning. The wheel we used was slightly different and I was expert at setting it in motion backwards to begin with but soon got the hang of it. Once home I spent two hours trying to remember what went where to set mine up. A YouTube videos alerted me to the fact that I’d forgotten to put the bobbin on the spindle and after that it was just a question of getting the tension adjusted. The joy when it started taking up the spun yarn! It was probably late by then but I still wanted to let someone, anyone, know that I had spun my first yarn on a wheel!

I spun two very dodgy bobbins worth of yarn and then decided in for a penny in for a pound, I might as well try plying them. That seemed to work ok and the end product was indeed usable albeit with lumps and bump, bits of grass and a fair bit of lanolin too. I fashioned a bowl using a 6mm hook to accommodate the varying thicknesses of my yarn and it is extremely sturdy. I’m hoping that my next bowl will demonstrate an improvement in my yarn making journey!

I once thought that it was a branch of my wool addiction that I didn’t need to explore but now of course it’s too late and I’ve got the bug. I’ve dug out all the relevant books I’ve owned for years which just shows that it was always on the cards. One of the books is about natural dying and I’m definitely going to give that a go, perhaps when the weather improves and I can slosh stuff about outside on our old garden table.

I haven’t been keeping up with my photographing lately. I use my phone for ease of use and because it transfers to my iPad much quicker than downloading from a camera. The phone is playing up so I’m hoping it will just hang on until June when M upgrades his and I can have his old one. It’s how we do phones here, I never need or want the latest thing so when I get a hand me down it feels like the latest thing to me! It all takes time to learn new things related to technology. Only recently I discovered that a setting on my iPad was preventing me from adding stories to my Instagram account. Duh! I’m so behind! I’ve since done a couple and they are quite fun so I guess I might be doing more. Life just needs to settle down and go back to normal first!


My trip ‘home’ was very much a tale of two halves. The first week was warm and sunny which meant that Archie and I headed for the beach every day. My childhood Cocker Spaniel, Susie, used to walk round anything remotely wet like a puddle. We took her to many coastal spots for long walks and she always managed not to get wet at all. So I was impressed that Archie headed straight for the water and started off with a good old paddle. There was just one occasion that he went in near a breakwater and quite literally bobbed underneath the surface for a second, this is not something you need when you’re dog sitting! I was moving towards him in a nanosecond but then he bobbed up, paddled towards the shore and confidently hit sand once more.

Archie does have one thing in common with Susie though and that is the potential for edible items is never far from his mind. Some of the things he was interested were borderline ‘edible’ including fishy looking things washed up on the shingle. He has a knack for finding the point at which the tide turns and starts receding, therefore locating all the rubbish that gets washed up. He ignored my suggestions that the sand was more interesting and easier to walk on so in the end I had to join him and over the course of that first week we added three tennis balls to our collection.

The promenade fascinates me now in a way that it never did when I lived here. Some mornings we were down there by 8 in the morning (thanks to bright sunshine streaming in and messing up my usual slow starts to the day). Some evenings we were just about using up the last of the daylight. It seemed as though all ages were out at both of these times of day. Babies in prams. Kids on scooters. Older people driving motobility scooters, joggers, dog walkers. I know I’ve said this before but it’s all so darn sociable and accessible and there’s no washing mud off everything with hoses afterwards. Harvey and Riley would miss their daily hose down if we lived here!

I think it was towards the end of the first week that I received a rather distressed message from M. He said that if he didn’t see the funny side he would probably be more cross than he could cope with. So he simply explained that Riley had come back after his morning wee in the field and told him that he was unfortunately taken hostage by a gang of foxes, tied to a tree and sprayed head to toe with fox poo as a punishment for venturing onto their patch. A week later and I am still laughing about it. It is extra funny because that was one morning I didn’t have to deal with it myself. There was no point in the usual ten minute drying off on towels routine so M opened the gate into the kitchen, at which point Riley could easily have made a bid for his bed but instead he walked, with his head down, straight into the bathroom and voluntarily got into the shower cubicle. M said he laughed so much he had tears running down his face. He wasn’t laughing quite so much when the warm water hit the fan let’s say. It tends to increase the strength of the odour somewhat!

During that first week Grandad and I were able to get out and about. We had some nice lunches out. We popped over to a nice little town near here and browsed some charity shops. There was even one day when it was warm enough for him to sit and catch some sun on the seafront. Then came The Beast from The East. I must admit I thought it would never happen, we’ve had a few false alarms this year. We both stocked up at the beginning of the week and that proved to be good timing. Thereafter Grandad stayed in the warm and I walked the few miles there and back to have a cuppa and a biscuit or two. The snow hasn’t been deep here but it’s been enough to make paths tricky. Given that the average age here is probably 90 I was surprised that the town centre paths weren’t salted. You’d think shopkeepers would at least want to keep their customers safe. I helped one old woman out of a shop doorway and over an icy patch to safety. I wanted to walk her home but I’m really not that outgoing so I just hoped she didn’t have far to go.

Modern technology was a useful thing for once with daily reports of weather conditions coming in from West Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Jersey. E, J and M respectively. M’s second trip to Jersey was very bad timing with the weather closing in on the evening before he was due to fly home. All flights out were cancelled on Thursday and he’s on a transfer flight today but I’m not holding my breath. Both E and J have much more snow than we have here. School and university lectures were cancelled. Notably E’s priority was a good cup of coffee and J’s was Haribo, both trekked out in the snow for these! I’m a fine one to talk though, my immediate thought was chocolate! The local shop was quickly cleared of milk and bread which wasn’t too much of a problem. If they’d run out of chocolate now that would be a problem!

Crochet is obviously the ideal hobby for a snow day. I’m over the thrill of making snowmen or getting cold and wet with snowball fights, though I did take note of my cousin’s tip and made some snowballs for Archie to catch. He does indeed like this game. I think he liked wrestling with the towel I tried to dry him off with even more.

I whipped up some quick wristwarmers with a tweedy Aran yarn I found in a charity shop. There is usually quite a bit of yarn to be found here thanks to the older generation. Since they were a big success in that they actually fitted nicely for once I’m planning to make these again when I am home and can raid my pure wool stash. I’ve got a hank of Croft by WYS that will be ideal and warmer than this oatmeal yarn. I might make them a tad longer too.

I’ve made good progress with E’s diamonds and bobbles jumper and will bribe her somehow so that I can get a modelled photo when it is finished. Just the sleeves to do now. All of the projects I brought with me were one colour projects. When the sun disappeared for a few days I had the most unusual and rare for me, craving to make something colourful! I just don’t do colour unless it’s a special request from E or something for my niece. I came across the Coachella scarf pattern on LoveCrochet (a simple puff stitch construction) then went out into the Beast to gather up half a dozen odds and ends of DK to get started. I quickly realised that the ends were going to be huge in number and actually joked on instagram that I would be calling them ‘a fringe’. Well I’m further on with it now and the fringe is a definite possibility. I remember seeing someone on a train with a scarf edge of ends just like this and I think I might just get away with it.

I packed a couple of other crochet projects but wasn’t in the mood for them. I find crochet goes like this sometimes. E’s jumper for instance was ideal for accompanying a good Netflix film. Likewise with the puff stitch scarf; no counting required. Both good snowy day projects to get comfy with, alongside a film, coffee and a bar of Green and Blacks. I’ve done so much walking here because it’s been such a lovely change of scene and also because I didn’t have a car. I think my knee might finally be cooperating. The same cannot be said of my foot where I broke a bone right on the edge five years ago. I’m resigned to that being a nasty nagging pain for good now. I plugged music in for some walks and it’s a great way to distract the mind which reminds me to tell you about an amazing thing I witnessed early one morning. The tide was out far enough to expose some rocks and in the middle of a large flat one there was a young girl, about E’s age I guess, singing her heart out. Obviously I couldn’t hear her but the hands and arms were moving in a musically theatrical way and she was dancing on the spot too. When I got a side view I could see she was belting out a power number. What fantastic courage and a thoroughly inspiring spot to practice!

Homeward bound

There are some days I can’t even listen to the lyrics of Sovereign Light Cafe without a big lump forming in my throat. The song takes artistic licence by treating Hastings and Bexhill as one, but the video was certainly filmed in Bexhill. It’s not a sad song it just reminds me, in more ways than one, of the great distance between there and here. We used every bit of the south coast when I was a child. Our childhood dog was the most walked dog on the planet. Unlike H and R she absolutely hated water so we never had any fear that she would get carried away with the tide. When we take Riley to the coast we have to be much more careful, he doesn’t have any sense of fear despite the power of the waves.

This past week E packed her books and caught a train from Leeds To Hastings, quite a long trek. I think she had plans to have a coffee or two at the SLC on Bexhill seafront but there were a succession of days where she described the rain as horizontal, so she kept warm and dry and probably did more studying than she would have if the weather had been more favourable.

Our visits overlap by just a day and then M will travel back with E and leave me down there. I’ll miss my faithful four legged friends but I’m sure Archie will be up for cuddles and long walks too. H and R will be miffed if he starts appearing on my blog but I can’t resist photos of spaniels, they are such happy dogs. Archie isn’t a Springer, he’s a Cocker, but in my opinion he’s ten times more bouncy than H and R, he’s full of beans and loves company.

I’ve packed a generous amount of yarn, two books and my kindle. When I was a child my biggest fear was running out of things to read! This seems amusing now because I certainly wasn’t one of those kids that did nothing but read. I was outside in all weathers, running, cycling, making dens, doing all kinds of sport, so I guess this must have been an evening activity only. We never really did get on with regular trips to the library, our lives had too much else going on. There was no internet, no Amazon, and no kindles. Mum has always worked full time so trips to book shops were rare. I got most of my reading material as gifts and the Puffin Club at school when I was primary school age. I still can’t think of anything worse than running out of yarn or books.

Tomorrow M will pack the car and remark on the amount of luggage I am bringing. He does this despite the fact that I am an expert on travelling light. He’s also good at travelling light but the difference is that he forgets vital things and ends up buying them on holiday, like the year he didn’t pack socks, or the year he took two shirts for two weeks!

There will be some tense moments as my much tested patience begins to wear thin. In the ten years we’ve been married we’ve overcome a lot of differences and laugh about some of those now. Some of the things I used to find highly irritating I actually find quite endearing now, the ability of the human being to adapt is a constant source of amazement to me! However, giving a constant verbal commentary of how dreadful other drivers are is not something I find endearing at all. Not only that but I don’t find the comments to be very accurate either. Furthermore the one giving the commentary often performs the very manoeuvre that he was, just seconds ago, criticising. Insert a few choice swear words here if you are so inclined. I certainly do, usually under my breath, and then threaten to plug my phone into the car stereo and select music that I know he hates.

When the kids were small I found it was hugely successful to outline the behaviour I expected from them before we entered a ‘challenging’ social situation for instance. You can’t expect children to know what is expected from them, you have to tell them. I tried to apply this theory to M but unfortunately it didn’t work. I’ve also tried appealing to his sense of survival by suggesting he might cause a stress related illness if he carried on this way. That didn’t work either. So if you see a rather fed up woman staring out of the passenger window on the A1 singing along to The Greatest Hits of Glen Campbell you’ll know it’s me!


All these business trips with M away are doing me the world of good in some respects. My car is out of action while M faffs around trying to fit fuel filters by himself (he will end up taking it to the garage or ‘phoning a friend’ eventually). I borrowed E’s little car and it does surprise me that despite driving it at the same speed as I would my larger jeep, a lot of drivers seem to see ‘small’ and think ‘slow’ and try and overtake in the most dangerous and inappropriate places. Something to do with ego’s is all I can assume this is to do with. Anyway I hurtled down the bypass and did a weekly shop in our new M&S. Ordinary stuff for most people but quite an event for me to do on my own these days. Having sussed it out with M once or twice quite early on a Monday morning I was sure it was going to be very quiet, alas it was not. Nonetheless I gathered easy to cook meals for J and I for a week including considerably healthier choices than when M is in charge of the trolley. I even treated myself to a takeout coffee for the journey back. Such a shame E’s car is not suitable for muddy dogs because there’s a choice of two lovely country parks on the way home.

I will be so pleased to have my car in working order again. I’ve missed our nature reserve walks even though it’s hugely boggy there at the moment. The village walks just haven’t been the same. Harvey has been a pain in the side quite literally with his pulling, I’ve never been able to train him to walk nicely on a lead and I’ve been able to train all my dogs to some degree. I think it been three showers with them both this week. Two occasions where Riley rolled in something nasty and the rest just because the sink just wouldn’t have coped with that much mud. I swear if we win the lottery my first priority will be a dog shower, a blow dry booth and a kennel maid! The dogs would love it! They already hold each paw up in turn for the shower jet nozzle!

I’m usually very pleased with the whole iPad and iPhone set up. It’s nothing flashy, my iPad is quite old and my phone has been handed down from m to e and then to me but is perfectly ok for my needs. Just lately though the phone has stopped communicating with the iPad and I can’t work out why. It’s baffling because sometimes it will send photos via photo stream and sometimes it decides to only send a few. There are ways round this but it’s time consuming. I usually find that updates solve problems but currently that’s not happening. I found this last photo of our flight home from Jersey on my phone that hadn’t been sent to my iPad. You can see how beautiful the place is, the plastic sheeting is to do with their famous potatoes apparently. M will be going back on his own next time but for his third trip I will join him again. On that occasion we are hoping to have a whole extra day just to explore. It won’t be for a little while so I’m hoping some spring like weather will happen too!

I finished my diamonds and bobbles jumper late one night and tried it on straight away. I ended up adding five more rows to the bottom and also some of the back loop dc rows to match the sleeve cuffs. It’s no longer a boxy sweater but I like my jumpers much longer so I liked the fact that was so easy to adjust. The wool was a bad choice in some ways because it’s a little dense but I took the risk of chucking it in the washing machine in the wool cycle knowing that the blanket I made with the same yarn didn’t shrink or felt. I already had 900g of this yarn in my stash and cannot remember for the life of me what I bought it for, I’m using up lots of stash these days and giving lots away too. Anyway, the jumper survived and is already softer after just one wash. I love 3/4 sleeves on sweaters because I can’t have sleeves getting in the way of crocheting! As well as the extra length I also omitted the neck rows which would have made the neck fit more closely. I like boat necks and feel a bit suffocated with round necks so it was perfect without that detail for me.

After a late night online chat with E she chose the colour ‘oak’ from the range of Wendy aran yarn. I’m not sure how many students get emails with wool warehouse links in them asking them to choose a colour for a sweater. I think it’ll look great on her. One striking feature she has and one which plenty of people stopped me to comment on when she was a baby, is her very dark brown eyes. Mine are brown but hers are a much deeper brown. She also has naturally dark brown almost black hair with auburn highlights and after years of experimenting with dye I have finally got her to appreciate her natural colour and convinced her that it’s what people pay good money to achieve from a box of dye! When J was small, and again it was the golden age of people approaching you to comment on your child, he had ash blonde hair and those dark chocolate coloured eyes again. People kept telling me that it was unusual and that with blonde hair he should have blue eyes. Helpful eh?

The Wendy aran has 25% wool in it which makes it a lot softer than my grey yarn. It’s going to drape so much better and I’m already wondering what colour to choose for a third version of this jumper so that I can have a nice soft one too. I may well end up being able to make that one without having to refer to the pattern!

In between lots of rows of trebles for the jumper I made a pair of mittens in chunky merino and mohair from John Lewis. It has a similar feel to Rowan’s Cocoon. I tried quite a few other yarns as you’ll know if you follow me on Instagram. I used the same stitch as for the honeycomb hat pattern I published on my old blog. It’s a side to side construction which meant that I could start out with the exact length I wanted. For this I had to message E again and ask her to photograph her hand against an A4 sheet since she didn’t have a ruler to hand. The wonders of modern technology! Between the red bobble hat and these mittens I think I have solved all her getting chilled to the bone problems. She’s spending half term in Sussex with my parents so it’s probably a few degrees warmer down there at least.

Sussex is on the cards for me soon too. I can’t wait. It’s always special to spend time with my Grandad and I also get to walk a different dog in a different place. Archie is a cocker spaniel and a big old furry fluff ball. The best part about walking him on the beach is…. no M U D! Oh happy days! I know there will be a crap coming home afterwards kind of feeling when I leave the place where I was born and come away from the coast and the Downs to somewhere flat. I just need to work on how to avoid that feeling. Quite possibly a big DIY project might be just the thing. The dining room needs a new coat of paint! That will involve moving a trillion books. Busy is good.

Half term is now upon is and I am feeling the balance of male to female is off-kilter in this household. Since M got back I have heard the word football mentioned more than a few times. The father/son short sentence communication is once more in action. One will say a city followed by a number, then the other will nod or grunt and then say another city and a number. Sometimes interspersed with the odd naughty word. I believe this is called discussing the football scores. Not only that but music has been turned up a fraction louder (I am clearly the most feared disciplinarian despite the fact that he could get away with far more decibels with just me at home) and in the living room the tv has started to mysteriously switch over to How It’s Made at random moments. I will survive. I have coffee, crochet and dogs. Not necessarily in that order. (Gin too but only when things get really manly round here!)


With two days notice we packed and flew out to Jersey at the beginning of this week. I can’t say too much about the work reasons but I can say that it’s not very often that M is offered work in such a nice location. Expenses were such that we only needed to pay for my flight which was a remarkably cheap £75 so it made sense for me to come along and have a mini break albeit by myself for most of the time.

I don’t know why I’ve never hopped on a boat or plane and visited any of the Channel Islands before. Jersey is part of the British Isles but it is not part of the United Kingdom. It is only nine miles wide by five miles and has a population of about a hundred thousand. According to our chatty taxi driver there are more cars on the island than people and yet the fastest you can drive anywhere on the island is 40mph. They have their own currency but it is compatible with British Pounds. We were told to take anything we received in change to a bank to exchange back to British notes on our last day because UK shops can be ‘funny’ about them. In fact we didn’t need to because we only ended up with a small amount of Jersey cash and we might be returning in a month or two.

We were a bit spoilt with a lovely hotel right on the bay overlooking the harbour in St. Helier. I couldn’t take my eyes off the changing sky, the way the castle lit up, boats coming and going, the tide going in and out. If you look carefully at the top picture you’ll notice a red lcd display to the left. There were two figures, one in meters and one most likely in fathoms, it went from 0.0 to over 8 metres at high tide. At low tide there is a narrow path across the wet sand to the castle. Even in quite severe wet and windy weather there were one or two brave locals walking out that way with dogs. It’s such a beautiful spot I think I’d probably do the same on a daily basis if I lived there with Harvey and Riley.

In the same photograph you can see there are one or two tiny figures on the harbour wall. We walked along to the end on our final morning and then took the lower path where the arches are on our way back so that M could take a closer look at the boats. Typically it was a bright and sunny morning on that day with only hours to go until our flight.

I didn’t take very many photos at all despite covering what seemed like very square inch of St Helier itself. The weather was pretty awful on the first day and due to get worse in the second. I tucked my phone deep into my pocket and largely forgot to take it out for photographs. I visited the indoor market and swung by some of the museums but mainly I had coffee here and there and watched the world go by. There was a noticeable French look about some of the residents which makes sense when you think it’s only 14 miles from France and about 100 miles from mainland Britain.

There’s a lot of history to the island and I watched a great film the night before we flew. It was on Netflix and called Another Mother’s Son. It gave a taste of what life was like under German Occupation during the Second World War. I walked past a hotel called Pomme D’Or which was used as the German Naval HQ during that time. It faces a square which is now called Liberation Square.

We managed to fit in one small, quick excursion when M had a few hours one afternoon. We caught a bus and enjoyed the scenery on the way to St Aubins Bay which we could see from our hotel. I love the way that in Madrid you can go anywhere on a bus or metro for €1.50 and in Jersey you can take any single trip for £2.00. It makes life so much easier. We live just six or seven miles from our nearest main town and it costs an arm and a leg to get there by bus. In St Aubins Bay there are some lovely smart looking seafood restaurants and a place called The Harbour Gallery which is wedged in between what would probably have all been fishermen’s cottages at one point. It’s very higgeldy piggeldy inside with lots of beams and stone walls and a mixture of craft supplies, art gallery, small yarn store and cafe. There’s also workshop space for art. M overheard a Mum having a chat about home schooling and bringing her daughters there for art lessons. What might have been a very quiet trade in the winter seemed to be a thriving little multi purpose venue.

Obviously I’d have been happy to have returned from our trip without any yarn at all but M quite literally shoved me into the yarn area and said, buy something! I didn’t put up much of a fight after spotting some Italian yarns that are harder to find on UK websites let alone in stores. I bought just a single ball of sock yarn since I have now discovered my ‘go to’ crochet sock pattern. I bought two hanks of a merino and bamboo mix yarn in shades that remind of the coast for a possible wrap or shawl. Finally I bought a fun super chunky Italian ball that came with two wooden buttons and that will definitely be a cowl. Quite a modest selection I thought. They have a knit and natter type get together on a Tuesday evening there. Given the size of the island it’s probably the only one too!

I think we ate seafood of some kind for every meal, apart from breakfast of course, though salmon was available. I haven’t always been the biggest seafood eater but these days I like to try new things so we had quite a variety for one week. Seared scallops were probably my favourite.

I took my new forest green project bag for this trip. I took the yarn and pattern for the second sock pictured above but didn’t get round to even starting it. As a last minute thought I threw in a chunky ball of pure wool and that ended up being crocheted into a warm hat on our one night stay in London before flying. My previous favourite hat was looking worse for wear so I thought, no problem, I’ll make a new one. I made a pattern up as I went and added a few popcorn bobbles for interest. It was ideal for the weather conditions. I also packed some pure wool aran and downloaded the pattern I had in mind for that onto my iPad. That was the project I was most in the mood for when we actually got to Jersey. I had two very rainy afternoons in the hotel room with that wonderful view (after I’d made use of the lovely pool and steam room!) and with our own Krupps coffee machine and fresh Jersey milk in the mini fridge I managed to stay awake long enough to get this hat finished by the last day.

Naturally as soon as E saw a photo of the finished hat, she wondered if I might post it to her! I’m always glad to have made something she likes and she does deep red so much better than I do! Besides it gives me chance to be the boring neutrals nerd I’ve always been and make another in oatmeal! The pattern is on the website Yarnspirations. This might be an overlooked gem of a site. Everything I’ve made with their patterns has worked out very well. This red hat for instance is just a classic cable twist design but sometimes the best things are the simplest. I will be adding it to my list of reliable go to patterns. It has worked up so lovely and thick using a soft merino aran weight yarn and yet it has a lot of give due to the post trebles which means it fits like a glove. I’ll be honest and admit that I only twigged that I’d never made a proper cable twist hat in crochet when I saw an old woman wearing one in the classic aran off white shade. Hers was knitted but that’s beside the point, what struck me was how smartly dressed she was and how classic it looked despite being just a woolly hat and incongruous with her tailored suit. You’ve heard of the expression, ‘you should get out more’, well this is what happens when I do get out more! I sit in a coffee shop and spot great hand knitted items!

I hope we get the opportunity to return to Jersey. It looked beautiful in terrible weather so I’d welcome the chance to walk along the miles of promenade in good weather! For now though it’s back to reality. Lots of laundry, dog walking, dog bathing, dog trimming, dogs under my feet, dogs being rather clingy because I’ve been away… you get the gist.


I do feel slightly guilty when I ‘shear’ Harvey like a sheep. We used to take him to a professional dog groomer and he looked amazing with a proper spaniel cut. It seemed to be a complete waste of money because he will never be a showy looking type and I wouldn’t want him to be. He loves his life plunging into boggy ditches and swimming in weedy lakes. He’s happiest weaving through hedges rather than running alongside them. In fact I could be describing my childhood because I’ve done all of those things in my time. A teacher once berated me for having messy plaits and said I looked like I had been through a hedge backwards. I was very proud to announce that I had indeed been through a hedge backwards. Maybe there is some truth in owners looking like their dogs but thankfully I don’t have messy plaits anymore!

I did my best to just snip a few thistles out of Harvey’s ears but they were too messed up so after the snipping came the shears. I’m sure he’s much happier now because it can’t have been comfortable lying on thistly ears. After quite a long session on the grooming table I let Harvey go and get acquainted with his new look and started to clear up the hair. Riley tried to hop up onto the waist height bench so I felt obliged to give him a quick ear and paw trim too just so that he didn’t feel left out. I’m always telling M to treat them like dogs and not children. Oops. Paws are important though, spaniels grow so much hair between their pads that they tend to look like spiders on roller skates on tiled and wooden floors when the hair gets too long.

I may have moaned about the weather in my last post but what a difference this week… I’d almost forgotten what sunshine looked like. I threw open windows and had a mini spring clean. Our walks were pleasurable once more. Then it rained.

M was supposed to be away for two nights on business this week but assignments came in that called for three more nights away from home. I’m a bit 50/50 on the subject. On the one hand I like being able to revive my nocturnal habits. My mind is actually clearer late at night, I do all my best thinking then, whereas M is a morning person. On the other hand it has felt like a long week without his witty banter, not to mention us popping out for coffee and crosswords.

I hate admitting that it’s sometimes tricky to leave the house on my own other than to drive to my remote dog walking place. This week I was forced to and I’m glad I was. My small victory on Monday, which involved taking E’s reliable little car to buy some provisions actually led to a second outing to buy a proper coffee. Twice in one week! This year is looking good. We’ll gloss over the fact that I told the young lad at the till ‘no thank you’ when he asked me if I had a loyalty card whilst actually passing him the loyalty card. I assumed he would be asking me if I wanted a bag first. Silly me. It wasn’t until he gave me a strange look and I thought on the way home, mmh, that last word sounded more like card than bag. Bother.

So there’s a little bit of startitis around this week. I’m enjoying the relaxing make that is the Diamonds and Bobbles jumper. I think I mentioned that the yarn needs a couple of wool cycle washes to soften up, that means it’s not the nicest stuff to work with. I craved something softer so I picked up my booklet of crochet sock patterns. It starts with a basic pattern for both toe up and cuff down. I’ve already made a few pairs of my own ‘make it up as you go along’ trainer socks using the toe up method so I tried the cuff down pattern. Since this photo I’ve made good progress and I’m at the toe part. My conclusion is that I like the cuff down method very much, it gives a good fit. I hadn’t expected to like it at all. I’ve used a random variegated dk from my stash. I’ve no idea what it is but it is very soft. My cunning plan was to use variegated to hide any slight mistakes I made. I think I have, no, I know I have worked all the rounds after the heel with the wrong side facing but it doesn’t seem to matter that much using the extended dc stitch. I’ve used a 4mm hook rather than the suggested 3.5mm because I really hate wearing socks and want these to be loose, like bed socks. Now that I know how easy this pattern works up I can quite happily pack the booklet, a ball of bright and cheerful variegated dk and hook and have the perfect travel project. Bright and cheerful yarn simply because I intend never to make myself a pair of socks after this pair but know someone (E) who loves socks!

When I finally get chance to sit down and crochet by late afternoon I stop drinking coffee and make a mug of tea. We’ve accumulated a whole range of sample tea bags and popped them into an old tea caddy. I’m steadily working my way through them. This week I thought I’d give peppermint tea another try. Ugh ugh ugh. It’s absolutely disgusting! Bravo to anyone who drinks this on a regular basis! I love mint, even better if it’s in the middle of a bar of Fry’s chocolate, but I cannot drink peppermint tea without gagging.

The downside to M’s job and the many miles he clocks up driving between assignments is that when he does finally get home he doesn’t really want to go far again, which is totally understandable. I have been known to complain about being stuck here (both in the house and in Lincolnshire) so I tend to want to go out and explore. The two don’t go hand in hand but we do often find a compromise. It’s also nice that M now has the travel bug once again and he seems to relish the hard work if he has some short breaks to look forward to. It’s me that brings him back down to earth sometimes and we meet somewhere between the ridiculous and the reality of what is possible for a short break.

I don’t think we have ever timed a short break to coincide with Valentine’s Day but we have often discussed two romantic cities as possibilities one day. The trouble is neither of us want to visit somewhere we’ve already been to. So that’s Paris and Venice out of the equation for now. M has been to Paris and I have been to Venice. He is beginning to come round to my idea of visiting Norway or Denmark. I am sure we will go somewhere this year and that’s the exciting thing, it’ll be totally unplanned and very last minute dot com.

Anyone who says men can’t change might need to look at M for living proof. Ten years ago he wouldn’t have dreamt of booking flights or ferries and accommodation with only days to go before departure. He would have broken out in a cold sweat and told me I was absolutely mad. Now he’s a dab hand at spontaneity. Sure, he will still stand over his suitcase and insist on telling me everything he has packed just in case he has forgotten anything. This is the point at which I tell him that it is probably best to leave a few pairs of socks at home and that he really doesn’t need both body spray and deodorant, just the latter will do. I also mention the ozone layer and suggest a roll on but after ten years he still doesn’t think they work. So maybe not all things can be changed!


Let’s be terribly British and start with the weather! Ugh. Yesterday was perhaps one of the worst days of January we’ve had so far. Snow all morning followed by driving sleet and finally relentless rain. J’s football was cancelled which was a relief. I really didn’t fancy the men being out on the roads so early in the morning and having to travel quite a way too.

It was lovely having E home for a brief weekend stay, though with a big bag of books and a suitcase, not to mention subzero weather M felt obliged to drive her back to uni. They left in daylight and he just about managed to get back in daylight, it had been more treacherous the further North they travelled.

Thankfully everything seems to have calmed down now. Temperatures have risen today but judging by the state of the dogs, who take themselves off for a jog round the fields every morning there will be some boggy walks to look forward to later today and for the rest of this week.

Last week our neighbours lost three fence panels to the high winds. A large piece of Perspex landed in our garden from goodness knows where and my shed is missing some side trim. We assumed that Riley was disturbed by all these goings on but in fact it seems to have been much more to do with the battery in the smoke alarm dying out and therefore beeping every few minutes. I had three days of him clinging to me like a limpet and at night he seemed to be looking up at the ceiling so I assumed that’s where the wind noise could be heard. As soon as M got home from his week away he worked out that it was the alarm. J can hear perfectly well but for reasons related to being a teenager didn’t think to inform me of this development!

I’m kicking myself for not working it out sooner. Last year Riley paced between me and E’s bedroom looking most concerned about something. Eventually I got up and followed him and he stood right next to her alarm clock. When I picked it up I could feel it going off and can only assume that it was high pitched and therefore outside my range. He was so incredibly happy when I took the batteries out to silence it. I do sometimes wish he could be cloned because he’s the best pair of ears I’ve ever owned.

I finally got round to taking a photo of the wool cowl I made sometime before Christmas or may have finished just after. I really can’t remember. The wool is absolutely divine. It’s a Rowan Pure Wool British Sheep Breed undyed in a chunky weight. I think it was in the region of £8 or £9 per ball originally but I managed to find three balls at £1.20 each in the John Lewis sale. This cowl only used two of them. It’s just a stitch pattern I made up using front and back loops. There’s no chance of being cold with pure wool round your neck and although it is a pale colour I’ve been wearing it on dog walks because I prefer not to have a scarf flapping about or getting caught in my coat zip which invariably goes up and down according to the nature of the crosswinds. The mittens are also pure wool and probably one of the first crochet projects I ever made. I remember following the cuff instructions but after that I just winged it because I kept getting the stitch count all wrong. They probably fit better because I made it up as I went along with my hand as a guide. The hat is one of many I’ve made with front post trebles and a pattern I need to write up so that I don’t have to work it out every time I want to make a new one!

The crocodile worked up fairly quickly whilst I was catching up on all previous series of Call the Midwife. He was a fun, easy make and is now adorning the top of my bureau. He most definitely needs an otter or platypus friend. I’ll be honest and admit that I don’t fancy the colour change in the same row animals from the Pica Pau book. I still find that a bit of a headache. I’m all about the relaxing makes this year! The crocodile pattern is in Mollie Makes Issue 88. The book is called Animal Friends of Pica Pau.

This weekend seemed the perfect time to cosy up with a new project. Apart from a few balls of merino from JL the other week (destined for mittens) I am managing not to immediately order or buy new yarn for projects that catch my eye. In fact I’m switching it round and trying to find patterns for yarn that I already have, like and want to use up. Nine balls of grey marl yarn have been lying around in my aran weight box for far too long so I was really happy to find a simple pattern to turn this into a garment. It’s the Diamonds and Bobbles pattern by lululoves. I’ve used this yarn before and it’s roughly 65% pure wool. It works up a little stiff initially but with a few washes it softens up a great deal. I made a blanket using the same yarn many years ago and it’s still in daily use. It’s been washed plenty of times and hasn’t felted or lost it’s shape so I’m hopeful that it will be fine for garments. There is indeed a knitted aran sweater pattern booklet featuring this range of yarn.

E liked the look of the pattern too so if my grey marl version works out well I will be making another! I will probably order specific yarn for hers because she has slightly more sensitive skin and there is also a bigger range of colours in the Wendy yarn that’s suggested in the pattern. I photographed my progress with a dark scarf underneath to show up the lovely diamond pattern better. I think I’ll be wearing the finished item with a black t shirt underneath for best effect!

Netflix is now helpfully suggesting various war time or post war dramas and films since I watched CTM. I chose Small Island to watch while M was taking E back to uni yesterday. It’s a drama adaptation in two parts from the book by Andrea Levy which I read a long time ago but absolutely loved. Sadly the drama didn’t live up to the book at all. It wasn’t totally awful but it just didn’t capture the magic that the book most definitely had.

Today I have a long list of things to do before crochet gets a look in. Due to M being extremely busy lately some of those things are completely out of my comfort zone and involve communicating with strangers, something I am usually pretty good at avoiding these days. I will probably achieve a hundred things before I get round to those.

We have recently agreed that the central heating can’t keep up with low temperatures in our conservatory/living room and that the electric booster wood burner look alike is expensive to run, so we are going to source a small wood burner and get it professionally installed. It might not be in time for this winter but next winter can throw whatever it likes at us, we will be prepared!


I’ve been hobbling along again. If it isn’t my knee injury from a year ago it’s my foot which I broke years ago now but still seems to flare up painfully in that same spot. There’s no rhyme or reason to it, old breaks are supposed to be affected by cold weather but that might just be a myth. My feet never feel cold so I’m puzzled and annoyed with it! The dogs can run in the fields at the end of our garden but I much prefer to give them a good long walk. My old jeep is showing a selection of three red warning lights and typically this has happened while M is away, so I’ve not been venturing further than the village hall car park, then taking the dogs down an old farm track and to fields beyond. It was so cold, wet and windy today there were fewer dog walkers about which was just as well with my strange half walk half limp! Honestly, approaching fifty fills me with dread.

We’ve had a couple of stormy nights here. With M away I’ve had to ask J for confirmation that it’s just the wind and rain noise that’s unsettling Riley. I switch off at night time and quite frankly a brass band could pass by and I’d sleep on. Somehow Riley managed to perch on my back at nearly two in the morning and I briefly dreamt of being buried alive. Luckily I woke up.

Before having children I would most definitely have just waited for intruders to find me and if I had a nearby heavy object then all the better. Since becoming a mother I tend to go and investigate if I think something isn’t right. So I tiptoed round the house at two in the morning to make sure all was well and managed to accidentally wake J who thought it was absolutely hilarious that Riley had been sitting on my back for however long it took me to wake up and all because of a bit of howling wind and rain. I thought it was mildly amusing too until he did the same the following night and refused to budge from my lap for most of the night. I ended up making hot chocolate and reading a book with him as my book rest.

When we were considering adopting a second Springer I seem to remember that one of the Springer rescue organisations had quite a long list of requirements including previous experience of the breed and also being home for most of the day, more specifically that the dog would not be alone for more than 3 to 4 hours a day. We didn’t find Riley through them in the end but he certainly gets very stressed when he’s left, even with Harvey for company.

Although I am still sorting everything that I come into contact with, the shine has worn off the whole cupboard sorting thing, as I knew it would. If I’m waiting for coffee to brew or toast then I might take a pot of utensils and run through it to make sure that everything in it is absolutely essential. I did the same with M’s recipe box, chucking out leaflets he has picked up but will never cook because they are ridiculously complicated. So there are lots of small ‘improvements’ to our kitchen organisation. When the mood returns I will tackle the two cupboards I haven’t yet sorted.

I really don’t enjoy cooking at all yet with a slightly more organised kitchen I have found it much less of a chore to be in there even if it’s only to make peanut butter on toast! I’m quite good at cheese on toast too and on a really good day I might do scrambled eggs on toast. Before I met M this was my staple diet for myself, for the children I made more of an effort. They still like to remind me how humiliating they found it when I made them carrot sticks and hummus for their packed lunches. It was all healthy stuff!

I’ve really enjoyed making this simple scarf. I’ve spent years seeing crochet as a challenge, constantly trying to pick up tips and new techniques to improve my skill level. At the beginning of January I had an urge just to use really nice yarn in a simple format. I wanted to enjoy the process but without taxing my brain too much, so I’ve been able to watch all the previous series of Call The Midwife on Netflix before the new series starts on Sunday. The scarf is everything I hoped it would be; tactile, soft, pure wool and with a slight vintage look about it. It goes well with my vintage Aran knit cardigan. I haven’t worn it out and about yet and it’s certainly not for dog walking because everything gets spattered with mud!

I feel like I’ve hardly been anywhere lately though I did brave a major city last week when M had a job just outside it and dropped me off for three hours. I stuck to all the bits I knew and started with a large coffee in a quiet cafe. I bought a few things on my list including travel mugs, ink cartridges and a charger. I bought a few things that weren’t on my list; the box of matches with one of my favourite poems printed on it, the merino yarn pictured above and some random bits I thought E might like because she’s so easy to buy for like that. I then ran out of ‘commercial’ shopping steam and headed for an Oxfam bookshop. I couldn’t believe my luck when the green virago spine I homed in on was the Virago Book of Women Travellers. I was already familiar with quite a few of them including Gertrude Bell and Isabella Bird but there are plenty of others featured in the book that I can’t wait to meet! I headed back for the quiet cafe, bought another large coffee and killed the remaining two hours dipping into this great book.

I’m sure I will make another of these scarves as a gift in the future. Rather than just keep a digital record of patterns worth remembering I have finally started a written one. I’ve been meaning to do this for years and still have two moleskin journals full of knitting scribbles and patterns for things I made, mostly for the children. There have been many occasions where it’s been an absolute effort to try and locate the notes for something I made and want to make another, so hopefully this notebook will eventually contain all my ‘go to’ patterns for woolly items of all kinds. Today for instance, on the dog walk, I wore a cowl using a stitch pattern I made up, mittens I made up as I went along years ago but could quite easily make into a proper pattern and a hat that I’ve made several of and still haven’t got it written down anywhere.

With my sore foot resting on a hot water bottle this afternoon I found myself starting a new crochet project without giving too much thought to my resolution of finishing one old wip before starting one new one. I find just watching Netflix on it’s own far too indulgent so I need to be making something at the same time. Before too long I had two animal body parts completed and a third underway. Sneak previews on Instagram coming soon!


If the start of the new year was a little blergh, then things have definitely improved. This is probably due in part to having the house to myself once more. Dog walking routines have been restored and this is my ‘space’ to think, mull things over and formulate plans.

Last year M and I did try to explore new dog walking venues close to home. I love my usual place but after heavy rain the rivers are high and fast flowing. After many walks near such rivers one day Riley decided to take a dip. I will never forget the panic and the way he kept his eyes firmly fixed on mine as he swam desperately but without making any progress. It was too deep and too fast to jump in and hook him out so I lay flat out on the bridge and prayed I wouldn’t fall in head first whilst trying to grab him. When I finally did get hold of his collar it slipped almost over his head but luckily I managed to grab a handful of the scruff of his neck and yanked him out by that. I still have horrible flashbacks as to what might have happened. Had he got tired he would have been swept away for goodness knows how far.

This week I have driven to our usual place and had to turn back. The river is usually no more than a metre in depth but it’s currently three or four times that. I tried a local walk in our own village and met seven dogs with various owners (not my idea of fun). Despite the long muddy track and absence of roads other dogs are sometimes kept on leads and Riley is a pain in the backside when it comes to dogs on leads.

Having studied the local ordnance survey map we tried a nearby woodland marked with public footpaths only to find that no-one had trodden these paths for at least a decade! The dogs didn’t mind but the ground was extremely boggy and we didn’t get far before deciding it was a bad idea. So it’s back to square one. More map studying and exploring required.

Apart from the river issue I need to get out more in general. It’s all too easy to stay at home and find things to do. I tend to wait until M is with me before I venture much further than the dog walking places. I can cope with those because I don’t have to talk to anyone. It’s all too easy to let this agoraphobic tendency take over. I want to challenge that more this year. I do wish we had one of those fantastic out of town bookstores like the one we discovered in Derbyshire. That would be ideal, not only books but a cafe too and no city centre traffic or parking to contend with.

I’m letting the cupboard sorting motivation take over at the moment. I know it will end at some point and then I can tackle the going out challenge. For now though the bags and boxes for charity are growing daily. M was very pleased with my pan cupboard efforts (since he’s chief chef round here!) Not so much needed to be thrown away or donated from there but I did relocate some items to more logical places. My candle making pans for instance are now on a high shelf elsewhere because I don’t make them often. This particular sort out prompted me to bake for the first time in a long time. I made ginger snaps from a recipe I found over twenty years ago when I was enjoying having a whole house to myself for the first time. The baking novelty soon wore off!

Today I have sorted out the cupboard that houses all my pottery bowls as well as our every day crockery etc. I have plates going back to my student days and only odd plates from sets since then so they’ve all been boxed up and will be donated, leaving us with just enough of what I call our grown up stuff!

It’s a dull task, sorting. I find the best way to get through it is to bring music into the room and take breaks to do other, slightly more interesting things; otherwise known as procrastinating. Having washed up the empty golden syrup tin and found a couple of small, random, not much good for anything else, pots I decided to treat my succulent ‘pieces’ to some proper soil. They’ve been surviving perfectly well in jam jars of water for months. The large one, centre back, is the result of potting one about six months ago, so I’m hopeful these new little ones will take.

I read What Falls From The Sky by Esther Emery recently. It came to my attention via Instagram (ofsimplicity) and although I was concerned the religious side of things would spoil it for me, I found that it didn’t. Religion isn’t for me but I totally understand why it is for many. In brief, Esther Emery disconnects from the internet from the internet for a year and finds her spiritual self amongst other discoveries.

I enjoyed the book and although it was tempting to immediately announce a blog and Instagram break for a year I really gave it some deep thought and realised that in my circumstances, it is enriching my life not impeding it. At least to a certain extent. There are three main factors that come into play here. One is that I am profoundly deaf. One is that I am living in a place where I struggle to fit in. The third is that I live a creative life. The internet is not the answer to all of those issues but it does add something positive to each situation. Having said all that I am making a conscious decision to limit my browsing and socialising to first thing and last thing. I often take a coffee back to bed in the mornings, read the BBC News online, have a look at Instagram and check my emails. In the evenings I do much of the same and it’s also the time of day when I write most of my blog posts. It’s the mindless picking up of my iPad in between that causes me to lose time that could be better spent doing something else.

Some of that mindless activity is browsing for crochet ideas, patterns and inspiration. Thank goodness I never did get to grips with Pinterest. With non-internet activity in mind I sorted out my crochet magazines and crochet books. I use both a lot anyway but usually only after I’ve seen the pattern or item featured online.

On one windy and cold walk this week I took a hot coffee in a travel mug with me. The combination of biting cold wind and hot coffee made me feel quite smug with my new idea, it also made me stop and sit on one of the stiles while the dogs ran around like headless chickens for ten minutes. That’s when I decided that without the overuse of the internet for crochet project ideas I could really focus on what I wanted to make and what I wanted to make it with. I know this sounds ridiculous but so often last year I think I just got swept up with whatever caught my eye and that’s not always a useful outcome. Shawls for instance, they are fun to make, a good length of project time wise but I don’t wear them. I make hats like they’re going out of fashion because I like the pattern challenge particularly if it involves post trebles. So this year I am going to shift the starting point. I’ll tell you how the scarf project came about.

With just a few more days before returning to uni, E suggested a visit to our local antique and junk place. It’s huge so we have various parts we like more than others and know where to find the best prices, the vintage clothes and so on. In our first spot we found a cheerful red retro vanity case in perfect condition for just a fiver. I can see E using this to come back and forth on the train. Her eyeshadow is always a work of art and this takes a certain amount of kit! After a bit more junk browsing and resisting some items we have enough of, like old stone jam jars, and nice pottery jugs, we headed for the vintage clothing building. I really wish I had taken some photographs. These rooms are unmanned as such due to central tills but they do have cameras and I always worry that someone will spring from the shadows and shout, ‘oi, no photographs!’ Whilst E was trying on every vintage coat in this very large room I was rummaging about amongst the tatty old crochet blankets looking for designs that were genuinely vintage. There were a few granny square waistcoats and some scarves too. I wasn’t immediately inspired by any of the scarves initially. It wasn’t until I found the hand knit Aran cardigan I’ve been looking for since I don’t know when, purchased it and got it home that I suddenly thought it could be worn instead of a coat on milder days if it had a nice pure wool slightly vintage looking scarf to go with it.

One of the vintage scarves had been a chevron design in green, lemon and purple (not my ideal colour combo!) so I dug out my stitch pattern book (30p purchase from a table top sale!) and located the precise stitch I think it had been made in; the peephole chevron stitch. It’s an incredibly simple pattern repeat and I based my sizing on a scarf I already have that wraps comfortably round the neck in a loop and down. I wanted considerable drape so I used a 4.5mm hook with various dk yarns, all of which are pure sheep or alpaca and very soft.

The terracotta yarn is 100% alpaca purchased in Barcelona two years ago. It was a completely local product, hand dyed and so much cheaper than it would have been in England (the equivalent of just under £6). The off white is an alpaca/wool blend from Yorkshire a few years ago on one of our shepherds hut breaks. The brown yarn was from our brief trip to North Wales last year while M was on a business trip. The grey yarn is from Derbyshire, the sheep festival we attended in July last year. I love the fact that all of these yarns were produced so close to where they were purchased. It’s usually the only type of souvenir I bring home these days!

I’m on the grey section now and the whole scarf is deliciously squishy. Not only that but it also smells wonderful; not an overpowering lanolin type smell but enough to recognise that there is no man made fibre. The grey yarn is a blend of two sheep breeds and is the most unevenly spun, it’s also the most enjoyable of the yarns to work with. I’m loving the tiny little flecks of dried vegetation. When I put the yarn together I thought it might look too modern but with this peephole chevron stitch it seems to say vintage. It’s been the perfect project to work on while I watch Call the Midwife right from the beginning. It was one of the few Christmas specials I managed to catch and I’d forgotten how much I liked it as well as enjoying the crochet spotting!

There’s just one drawback to the scarf pattern, it’s going far too quickly! M has covered a few late night police jobs lately which can involve a lot of hanging around waiting for the right people to gather. It means I can be more of the night owl I was before I met him which is great for uninterrupted crochet time!