Flummoxed

No cute dog photos today. I’m simply not feeling the love! Don’t worry, I’m sure that won’t last long, Riley has only to flutter his eyelashes and all will be forgiven. They go out for an early run round the back garden and fields beyond while I’m slowly brewing the first tea of the day. (I’m not a morning person). When they returned today they were particularly muddy so I put our mobile dog gate across the back door area where they are perfectly used to drying off for short periods of time. They have water, an old rug and warm towels on top of that. From there they get a foot bath in the butler sink. Then they get a bonio for their patience. Only, silly me, this morning I decided we’d go for an earlier walk and bypass the morning foot bath in favour of a dip in the river. While I was getting ready it seems Riley had other ideas.

Harvey is too well behaved to contemplate knocking a gate down for freedom. Riley on the other hand had a rougher start to life and so he is extremely clingy. He once shut himself in the bathroom by accident shortly after he came to live with us. I was only gone for half an hour but he did a very good job of shredding the bathroom door in an attempt to get out. So this morning he shoved the gate, knocked over the water, added lumps of sticky mud to the mix and then paraded up and down the kitchen to ensure an even spread. It was quite a sight. Even better, they both then curled up in their freshly washed duvets. Perfect. I’m still wondering why I bothered spending a good chunk of my Sunday morning cleaning the kitchen floor.

The men returned from cricket training yesterday and took over the tv for football. I loathe football with a passion so I can’t stand to be in the same room when a match is on. We are planning on putting a comfy leather armchair of some description in our newly decorated bedroom so I’ll be quite happy to hang out there during Sunday football viewing. For the  time being though it is cosy enough to crochet with all my bits and pieces laid out on the bed and the large mug of coffee that M always makes. I totally milk the ‘you’ve turfed me out of my living room to watch football guilt trip’ that M sets himself up for. He doesn’t know that I don’t actually mind having a few hours to myself! Roll on cricket season, I do quite enjoy watching the T20’s.

The latest hat is now finished with the addition of a ribbed band. Raised trebles used in this way are everywhere on the internet, it’s obviously nothing new, but it was new to me. It requires concentration but it’s well worth it. I’ve written a tag with the name of the hat, the hook sizes, yarn type and amount, adjustments noted on the back. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with this tag yet but I know it will come in handy if I decide to make another one.

That hat pattern is a free one by CrochetZone. It’s called the Knock Around Hat (just noticed I will have to amend my tag!)  It calls for light worsted which I think is DK in British terms. Sizes from 3 months up to adult.

http://crochetzone.com/2016/01/23/free-crochet-pattern-knock-around-hat/

In order to try and avoid making more hats I think I’d better have one of those long book browsing sessions. The type where I surround myself with my entire crochet book collection, spend hours looking through them and then end up making a hat from a pattern on the internet!

Rather mysteriously my entire list of bookmarked sites (all of my favourite blogs) has disappeared from my iPad. It’s extremely annoying! I could accept the loss and go about rebuilding it from memory but it won’t let me save new bookmarks. M is usually pretty good at fixing things like this but he’s flummoxed this time. It means my blog reading will be on hold until I figure out how to get them back or how to start again. Technology eh? I love that an emoji comes up when you type flummoxed, a choice of two in fact; 😢 😲.

Priorities


What is it about hats that gets my vote very time? I’m clearly in the middle of another phase of hat making. Watch this space! There may well be more hats. E’s Stepping Texture Hat was a success but it didn’t make a particularly thick fabric so we added a fleece liner. The Textured Weave Hat was actually less of a success when I think of all the adjustments I had to make to get it to work; I was bang on gauge when I’d completed however many rounds I was supposed to get to 6″ or whatever it specified and yet with the continuation of the rounds it was obvious it was going to be far too big so I decreased at evenly spaced locations in a few rows and kept trying it on until it eventually fit. This left me slightly unimpressed with the pattern.

This latest pattern caught my eye because it isn’t so obviously a crochet hat. Not that I’m not proud to advertise the crochet cause! It sort of looks like blackberry stitch (is that the one?) or moss stitch maybe. It does require some concentration when you get to the part where you need to treble into post stitches and post stitch into trebles. Post stitches into dc height stitches are also a bit of a faff but that creates the decorative band which is supposed to look a bit like fair isle (I’m not sure it does but I still like it). Quite honestly you could do a round of anything you like here, puff stitches bobbles, crossed post stitches, clusters, whatever you fancy as long as you keep the stitch count correct.

Talking of which, the pattern isn’t a PDF and it really helps if you scroll down to the size that you are trying to make rather than the size smaller which isn’t as far down! Doh! My fault for trying to watch a George Clooney movie at the same time. George is rather distracting! Despite the fact that I only increased the crown to a diameter of 6″ and then worked straight sides it seems to be an ideal fit and I don’t think my head is on the small size. I’m going to ignore the final edging instructions and do a post treble ribbed thing, about three or four rounds should do it. I added a bit of height to it too, I like a slight amount of slouch.

I really ought to keep a crochet diary or scrapbook with notes because I’m sure I will be returning to this pattern again and will have forgotten which hooks I used and the adjustments (and lucky mistakes) I made. There are instructions for hats from 3 months old once again, which is always handy. I liked the fact that it uses light worsted or dk which I have a plentiful supply of. Even with all the post trebles it has used nowhere near a full 100g ball and yet it seems thick and warm.

I thought I’d contribute to the tasty food M has been rustling up this week. I would rather be crocheting quite honestly so my idea of baking is emptying a few things into the bread maker and getting a good two hours worth of hat making done before the men return from cricket training. The house smells like an estate agent’s dream and I’ll soon be sampling my gluten free crusty loaf!

Actually I’m not as lazy as that all sounds. This morning I’ve also scrubbed the bathroom from top to bottom, including annoying little areas of limescale around the shower with an old toothbrush. I’m processing disgusting P.E. kit caked with mud from J’s cross country run on Friday and the kitchen floor has been swept, mopped and disinfected with something extremely lemony. In the interests of ‘keeping it real’ I should mention the festering, damp old dog quilts in the back of my car that require me to open the car doors a good half an hour before driving anywhere because they smell quite strong. Also the mountains of junk from our bedroom piled high in the dining room with dog hair priairie dust balls rolling around them. At least the kitchen and bathroom are clean and the house smells of freshly baked bread! Go Sunday!

Productive

The air has been thick with simmering oranges this week. It’s become an annual ritual for M. It does seem like an awful lot of trouble to go to but I have to admit, it does taste ok and we do get through it. We really only made plum jam in large batches because it seemed criminal to let all the plums from the tree in the back garden go to waste. Now the tree seems to be dying I don’t think we are likely to go and buy the kind of quantity we need for jam making which is a shame. I liked the plum jam a lot better than I like the marmalade.

M has his cooking and baking mojo back. This last week he’s made spicy sausage casserole, a fabulous cottage pie and homemade flatbreads with herby garlic butter, as well as the eight jars of marmalade. He’s pretty good at banana bread too and there’s usually a few overripe bananas left at the end of the week. For now though I’m not going to distract him from the important task of removing an old concrete base for a fireplace hearth in our bedroom. He really wanted to lay the new floor around it but I’ve insisted it comes up so he’s not overly enthusiastic about the task. He says things like, ‘it’s ruining the floor, are you sure you want it up?’. Yes. ‘I’m going to have to go and get some levelling compound, are you sure you want  it up?’ Yes. ‘It’s going to take days to dry so I won’t be able to start the floor…’. Yes I want it up. Then of course, when the new floor is down and all the sledgehammer exertion is forgotten he will say, ‘Yes I’m glad we took that hearth up.’

I’ve had a couple of quiet evenings with E out with friends or with her boyfriend in Leeds, J at cricket or football with M watching. Oh the luxury of being able to have the television off! I do crave silence sometimes. Having artificial sound fed into my ears all day every day can get very tiring. An overhead aeroplane can sound just like a kettle, my brain gets weary trying to figure it out. My quiet time allowed me to pay attention to the counting involved in this latest hat. I decided to make this one because it looked like it would work up a nice thick fabric; it did, especially the crown of the hat where the post treble increases are made behind the last post treble.

I raided my Aran stash for this project. It’s a rather flat, uninspiring grey but it’s nice and soft and another 100g used up. I will at least wear it for dog walks. Two hats and a cardigan/hoodie in one week, I’m feeling very productive. I’m not feeling so productive on the decluttering side of things but I’m sure that motivation will return any day now!

The hat pattern is one from a book called Crochet Style by Jennifer Dougherty. She has a website called Crochet by Jennifer. The patterns are also available singly on LoveCrochet. This hat is called the Texture Weave Beanie. The book has lots of hats, cowls, mittens, wristwarmers and a few boot cuffs, all in lovely textural designs. Whoever did the photo retouching completely overdid it but it’s definitely a book worth owning if you like making hats and love post trebles!

Finished

It’s dropped to minus three here in Lincolnshire. I’d quite like a sprinkling of snow just to see the dogs run around, noses to the ground, making sense of it all. I love seeing all the tracks made by wildlife, it’s like being let in on the secret that dogs already know by smell. M and I once caught an early slow train from Lincoln just for a random day out. It had snowed quite a bit the night before and it was the most fascinating journey seeing the countryside crisscrossed with deer, rabbit, bird and goodness knows what else prints in the snow. Not only that but in those remote fields the animals showed up in daylight more easily than they would normally have done. I didn’t read a single word of my book nor complete a single stitch of my crochet for the entire two hours there and two hours back!

For now though it’s just bitterly cold with a wind chill factor and no sign of sunshine at all. The perfect weather for hurrying back from a dog walk and getting on with woolly stuff. The Ermeline jacket is finished! I usually procrastinate when it comes to final touches like buttons because they can’t be crocheted on! I found the perfect buttons in my button tin (they happened to have been a gift from a lovely friend, thanks D!) and sewed two to the fixed side and two for the working button side.

The pattern is by Sylvie Damey over at Chez Plum and there are adult versions too! In fact there are several variations to choose from. I’m sure they are as easy to follow as this child version has been and with scope to make it your own. The Ermeline jacket has sizes up to 8 years old which makes it a good value pattern. I can see myself making more of these. Obviously chunky yarn doesn’t have as much yardage as lighter weights so for the two year old size I used most of the three balls of Carnival and only a small amount of the contrast plain colour. This was a little more expensive than most of the two year old cardigans I’ve made before but it’s a lot more cardigan! There are cheaper chunky yarns. I imagine it would look great in a tweedy yarn.

As you can see Riley is trying to persuade me not to crochet at all this afternoon, he says he’d prefer a tummy rub and games with his ball on a rope instead. Harvey has overdone things again and aggravated his front shoulder injury. He doesn’t like Riley to be near him when he’s feeling vulnerable. Basic animal instinct I think. He’s retreated to his bed in the kitchen but he’s still getting a lot of fuss from me just to keep things even.

Replacement

The return of the boggy fields! Ugh. We got seriously muddy this morning. I must confess to chucking a small stick into the river for the dogs to fetch and then quickly shouting, this way, this way, to get them out again and into the boot of my jeep. There’s only so much my washing machine can take in the way of muddy blankets. H and R huddled under a thick dry blanket on the short drive home. H has always been a quivering shaky shivering kind and R who has far less meat on him and fur come to that, takes the cold like a man. Both are warm and dry and snuggled up in/on their single duvets folded four times in their beds next to a radiator. Life isn’t too bad.

My days would be very long without this major dog walking operation. At least half a day is taken up getting ready for, going out with and dealing with the aftermath of our daily dog walks. I guess I would feel lost without them but I do keep telling M that we shouldn’t have any more dogs after these two. He kind of looks away and puts his hands up to his ears and says, sssh, they’ll hear you!

We’ve only had Riley for two or three years. He came from a home that left him for very long periods of time in the day. He’s still anxious when he’s left but at least he has Harvey for company. He is exceptionally good at alerting me to anything that’s going on around the house, indoors or out, that I might not hear. Last week he kept looking right at me and then trotting into E’s bedroom. I assumed he was hearing one of the roborovskis making noise but he kept trotting back and forward between me and the bedroom until eventually I got up and went with him. He led me straight to E’s bedside table. I picked her clock up and could feel the alarm going off. I gave Riley lots of praise but really he was probably thinking, thank goodness that racket has stopped! It reminds me of when I first lived alone and I was trying to work out the oven timer. I gave up on it but two weeks later Mum visited, walked in and said, oh my goodness, what is that noise? Turns out the oven alarm had been going off for two whole weeks! Neither of my Springers at the time paid any attention to it!

So, here’s the replacement hat that E requested. She may have thought it looked nice and thick and warm in the pattern photo but post trebles have a way of creating gaps. She loved the end result and I sewed a strip of fleece inside the hat to make it extra warm. I hate sewing and the fleece was thick which made it fit a bit more snugly than before but overall it worked and she will be snug once more during playground duty!

The pattern is a free one by Bernat. It’s called the Stepping Texture Hat. I wonder which genius dreamt that name up? I came right out of my comfort zone to make this. I’ve never been a big fan of picking up stitches, whether knitting or crochet. The ribbed band is made first which is a great idea in some ways because you can get a good fit, but picking up stitches is an uneven science that I prefer to avoid. The front and back post trebles were simple enough and in chunky yarn it was just a one evening project. In fact someone at work noticed E’s new hat and she proudly said, yes my mum made it last night. Apparently this colleague was totally amazed that you could make a hat in one evening. She obviously hasn’t lived!

Ermeline/2

I’m taking the dogs out a little earlier than usual. The ground is still frozen solid mostly, or at least a little crunchy. It means less mud in my jeep and less mud in the house. I wouldn’t have recommended a swim in these temperatures but this morning Riley spotted a bright metallic blue foil balloon snagged on the branches overhanging the river and decided he would investigate. Good grief that just have been seriously cold! Harvey had more sense.

The Ermeline cardigan is now looking a little strange. I should really have listened to my gut feeling about the triangles and ignored the instructions to do a raised dc seam on the outside. I like the look of the inside much better, but it has rounds and rounds of border stitches now and it’s too late to change anything. Perhaps a light pressing will make them flare out more smoothly. Although I made the granny triangles to the exact dimension given if I made a second cardigan I think I would make them quite a bit smaller and pull them tight to fit the space. Although the photo doesn’t show this they tend to hang like an inset panel anyway so I think I’ve got away with it this time.

There is another row of border according to the pattern but I quite like the edging in the dark plum colour so I may omit that last row. Sleeves and tab fastenings will be the last two things to do. Oh, and most definitely a tiny pom pom to trim the pixie hood.

It’s been an incredibly easy crochet project. If the granny triangles look odd there is always the option of ignoring the instructions for dividing the bottom half into three sections, and adding in a few increases for a little bit of flare. I’m also trying to imagine the garment in a plain pure wool yarn with a few carefully chosen contrast colours for the granny triangles. If only my chunky supplies were as plentiful as my Aran supplies!

Talking of which, E left a favourite hat on a bus somewhere in Leeds at the weekend. She leaves stuff all over the house so it was only a matter of time before she left something on a bus or a train. I’m just relieved it wasn’t something more valuable. She came home and googled crochet hat patterns and even though we were sitting in the same room watching tv up popped a message on my iPad… can you make one of these for me please? πŸ™‚ It was a chunky hat with post trebles and I do like working with those so I was happy to oblige. Yarn was chosen and the hat was made in one evening, and worn to work this morning (hence no photo). A little later another message popped up, ‘and while you’re at it, how about one of these?’ The answer was a definite NO! It was a heavily cabled dark green cardigan knitted in 4-ply! Who would put themselves through that much grief? Not I.

Ermeline

I know, I know, it’s bright and I don’t do bright! At least I don’t do anything bright for myself. Cute little kids however, deserve rainbows and carnivals. This yarn happens to be called Carnival (in the Sydney colour way). I don’t think I could have found a brighter yarn.

I’ve had to put down my stocking stitch baby leg warmers for the time being. These pesky wrists, I don’t understand how two needles causes pain when one hook doesn’t. It must be a totally different movement. Panic sets in when I knit too much and I worry that I won’t be able to crochet either, so just to be sure I had to pick up a crochet project and this little Ermeline jacket caught my eye. It’s by Sylvie Damey over at chezplum.com. The pattern is available on Ravelry and LoveCrochet too.

It’s a clever design (so far!) working from the top of the hood down and continuing with the yoke style top of the cardigan, leaving arm holes to come back to. A granny triangle at each side gives the jacket a flared shape. Chunky yarn and trebles work up so quickly, it’s beginning to look a lot more like a cardigan (and less like a wizard’s hat) in the few hours since I took the above photo’s.

I’ve no idea whether the intended recipient will like it, but I do know that it would have passed E’s strict clothing criteria (aged six) on account of having a decent amount of purple involved. In fact I think she’d wear an adult version with no persuasion at all. We like pointy hoods! In fact we both own a pointy hood chunky cardigan already but there’s nothing like the satisfaction of being able to choose your own yarn and create your own is there? I may be getting ahead of myself here. Two year old’s version to be completed first!

Riley and I are practising Hygge this evening. Flickering candles, crochet shawls round our shoulders to keep the draughts at bay, oh wait, that’s only Riley. Harvey is keeping M company whilst he hangs the last few sheets of lining paper up in our bedroom. The novelty of having plain white walls after living with disgusting wallpaper for so long is huge! I had totally under estimated how therapeutic it would be to wake up to such visual calm.

Joy

This week I am asking myself, ‘how the hell have I accumulated this much stuff?’ Ugh. As every last scrap of stuff has moved from bedroom to dining room I am promising myself to sort every last thing and reduce by at least half before any of it returns!

When M and I met and decided to live together we had a choice between two properties; both in lovely villages but with M’s just having the edge due to its favourable location. So we gave up the luxury of space and four bedrooms and moved to his much smaller bungalow. It’s a decision I question from time to time but I’m determined that one day the contents here will be in accordance with the actual space.

We had to move and dismantle a row of nasty seventies Formica wardrobes this week. M was ecstatic because he’s never liked them. I liked them for the simple fact that they did the job and didn’t fall to pieces but even so it was a joyous occasion to see them hurled into a large skip at the local tip!

Talking of joy, I heard somewhere that there’s a certain approach to decluttering that is working for some; hold every item up and ask yourself, ‘does this bring me joy’. Or something like that anyway, it is, funnily enough, working quite well on my wardrobe contents. I was quite happily filling charity sacks when Riley decided to sneak up onto the bed thinking I couldn’t see him behind the mound of clothes. Doh!

It was good to get some fresh air this morning albeit in minus temperatures. The dogs managed to crack every iced over puddle on the walk in a ‘don’t look before you leap’ kind of way. When Harvey was well and truly puffed out retrieving tennis balls he decided to lay down in a cool muddy puddle, as you do. They could hardly believe their luck when we stopped for a second walk, which was actually a cunning rinse and blow dry!

Wips

I love this new photo annotating app! I probably need to find a slightly more exciting version but for now it’s useful rather than beautiful! I’ve used it to remind myself exactly where I am with my Scheepjes blanket at the moment. Four white ribbed squares and four teal wavy squares to make before I begin the joining and border.

It was really good fun looking forward to the release of a new square each week and completing them before the next one. I kept up until these last couple of weeks when family stuff most likely took priority. It also coincided with a long spell on crutches and limited mobility due to that silly knee incident so that was another reason for me staying focussed. I don’t usually like or have any desire to do CALs. I stuck fairly close to the ‘in the rain’ colours but didn’t use the Scheepjes yarn in the end (after much deliberation) because I had quite a lot of dk odds and ends, so I’m pleased it didn’t cost a lot. Once it’s finished I’m sure it will be used a great deal, as our other crochet blankets have been.

I shall finish these squares once I’ve finished knitting baby leg warmers! Oh and my bear, he still needs buttons on the neck opening of his sweater and at the very least a pair of shorts to hide his pants! He’s sitting in a basket looking rather neglected while I’m doing more bedroom decorating than knitting or crochet for now.

There is something rather satisfying about obliterating every last trace of seventies decor and replacing it with a just of hint of modern seventies decor! We’ve decided we can live with the long seventies teak sideboard and bureau for now. Although I’d have never chosen a seventies bungalow myself I’m trying to embrace the positives (er, remind me what they are?). I picked the sideboard up along with a dining table and four chairs, all in the g plan style for Β£40 just before they started selling for silly money. That’s Β£20 for the sideboard and Β£20 for the table and chairs, an absolute bargain! The sideboard, although more logical in a dining room houses all the family photos, gift wrap and related stuff in two of the drawers, wedding album and bits and bobs the children have written, drawn or made over the years (much whittled down) in a third drawer. The final cupboard holds cameras and chargers and related stuff so it’s a useful amount of storage.

As we speak M is at the top of a step ladder swearing fairly loudly about the person who attached curtain pole batons with screws as long as his arm (apparently). He might be exaggerating slightly!

pussyhat

I don’t want to get too political here on my blog. I’m sure there are better qualified blog writers for that. I’m not really a burn your bra type either but I am still incensed when I hear about sexist treatment of women. When I first moved North I was flabbergasted to find that a segregated pub still existed in the village I had chosen to live. A friend and I entered through the front door only to be greeted by a choice of bare wooden floor boards, long bench and a row of old men with flat caps on or the carpeted other half where all the women were seated. Needless to say there didn’t seem much point in us staying. He thought it was extremely funny and I thought I had entered the dark ages.

There are plenty of articles about the pussyhat march on the internet if you haven’t already heard about it. There’s a whole load of pink knitting and crocheting going on which can only be a good thing. All bar the pink that is. Ugh. I really loathe pink. E and I chatted about it and decided we’d prefer grey pussyhats.

I looked at various patterns, both knit and crochet, examined my ‘chunky box’ for suitable yarn, then decided to make a hat the way I know best which is usually foolproof; side to side. I also thought it was about time I found a new app so that I can annotate my photo’s. I found Skitch. I can highly recommend it, it’s easy to use and free. My only complaint is that there is no choice of typeface, but since I’m not a graphic designer any more I figure I can live with that.

I prefer hats without turn ups so this pattern does not include one. The deep rib section is intentional; after googling images of pussyhats I decided I liked the deep rib look. If you’d like to make one here’s a rough guide:

You will need: 6mm hook, chunky yarn (I used 100g Rowan Cocoon), tapestry needle, long pins

Chain 35 (this should be approximately 9″, if your head is small you could probably afford to chain 30 to start, this will be the height of the hat from crown to bottom edge).

*Use a turning chain of 2 for all rows that start with half trebles and use a turning chain of 1 for all rows that begin with extended dc. These do not count as stitches.*

Decide how deep you would like your rib section. I settled on 15 stitches. Htr for 15 stitches then use extended dc to end.

The next row will start with ext dc so ch1 to turn and work ext dc until you reach the htr’s. It is now important to work in the back loop only of these and all future htr’s.

When working the ext dc’s crochet through the stitches as normal (not back loop).

Your work should begin to look like photo one. Continue until the piece wraps comfortably around your head. Adult hat sizes should work out at anywhere between 18″ and 22″ depending on which hat size chart you read!

There is an excellent tutorial for extended dc on Craftsy, it’s in American terms so it’s called extended single crochet:

https://www.craftsy.com/blog/2016/02/extended-single-crochet/

It’s a little like making a treble but without the yarn over to start with.

When the hat is the desired width, fold in half, keep in place with the long pins and sew up the side and across the top. (It’s therefore easier if you finish at the end of a rib row). Weave ends in and turn right side out. A nice snug fit with no slouch will produce the best pointy ears, there’s no need to sew across these corners, the ears really do stick up by themselves!

With this method of construction it is easy to substitute chunky yarn for either Aran or superchunky by simply choosing an appropriate hook size for the yarn and aiming to produce a flat piece with the same dimensions. This is one of the things I like about crochet; your starting chain is never usually far off the width of the piece you want to create as long as you remember to add the turning chain.

Note to self; a selfie stick might just be a handy thing to own after all!

Shout if anything isn’t clear!