Socks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Autumn

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seasons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finished

I seem to have lost all cohesive thinking what with the heat and the hectic schedule we’ve been keeping. I love spontaneous and loathe routine and repetition but at the moment there’s so much spontaneous I’m not getting a day in between to recharge!

I suddenly realised that I hadn’t posted my finished projects and this is mainly because they are all over on Instagram. I try not to post too many words over there and it is sometimes difficult. I love a good waffle. Does anyone remember having to do lots of summaries in English lessons? I loved those exercises; you get given 1000 words and have to reduce it to 250 or something like that. It’s strange I know but those were a highlight of English lessons with a teacher who was just bloody horrible.

The shawl was part of a mystery crochet along, mcal for short. The designer is Joanne Scrace, one half of The Crochet Project. I really love their designs and bought one of the print books when I was in Brighton, these come with a code to download the pdf version which is handy for travel because it means I can take along lots of patterns on my iPad and look up yarn requirements if I happen upon a good yarn store.

This cal was spread over five weeks and I must admit that by week three life was considerably busier than at the start. We were packing up E’s halls room at uni and moving her to a shared house, bringing another portion home for the summer holidays and then decorating her room here. I fell behind but then managed to catch up in between stripping the old shed roof. I shouldn’t moan but man, those ends. Ugh. The merino sock yarn has magnificent drape and when it comes to ends in that stuff I wasn’t entirely convinced they’d behave but they are sewn in and seem to be staying put for now.

The shawl yarn was purchased in haste at the Leeds Wool Festival. In haste because it was so hot and so crowded. We’d seen quite a bit of merino sock by this time and when I saw the off white with denim speckles hank I knew this dyer was for me. Luckily there were mini skeins in the other four shades that seemed to go with the main yarn. I really didn’t ponder for too long and this is probably how I should choose yarn in the future. I’m a shocker for taking hours and then not being entirely happy!

The crochet dress edging has been a bigger success than I thought it would. I’ve not done anything like it before and my sewing skills are minimal. I wish I’d ironed the relevant part before I took the photograph but oh well. I’d only worn the dress twice before I added the trim and now I wear it much more. It just wasn’t the right length for me and now it has a bit of added interest too. I still only wear it with Birkenstocks but quite frankly it’s a miracle I own any dresses at all. I decided I didn’t like pink, frills or dresses from a very early age and that hasn’t really changed much, but shapeless linen dresses are quite close to dungarees and just as comfortable now that I no longer feel the need to climb trees!

Just for the record. I made the trim separately from the dress and attached it but I did wonder whether it might have been better to have started the piece attached to the dress in the first place. This would obviously require an edging done in rounds horizontally and you could stop when you reach the required depth. With my trim I specifically chose a sideways design that meant I needed to stop at the required length. Either way should work. It’s tempting to edge some plain t shirts but that might be an experiment for next summer.

We’ve gone all environmentally aware here lately. I’ve been doing my bit since I was E’s age I think it must have been. I went to a big exhibition in London that showcased amazing art, sculpture and practical furniture all made using upcycled materials. It blew my mind and I can remember most of it quite clearly all these years on. I still have a four page magazine article about it somewhere. With the kids it’s a struggle to get them to use our two compartment bin correctly but it seems when there are cool bottles and stainless steel straws to be had they are up for it.

String bags seemed like the next step to employ crochet in a useful way. We’ve already got the hang of taking extra bags with us wherever we go but I liked the idea of string bags because I was always quite fascinated by one owned by my Nan. It scrunched up so small and yet held so much. It also amused me that on our walk back through her lovely village across the green where we’d often stop to talk to a random aunt also on her daily grocery shop, that all of our purchases could be seen. Not only that but it would be remarked upon! ‘Oh I see you’re having tinned apricots for tea Alice?’ I’d be lurking behind Nan’s skirt making faces because I really hate apricots. Somewhere in amongst the shopping would be a paper bag with my macaroon in it. I absolutely love macaroons (not to be confused with the tiddly macarons!) It was only with my Grandparents that I ever went into a bakery and chose my own cake. It still feels like a huge treat to do so.

I made a rookie error with my string bag and translated the category four, worsted yarn into aran weight. At least I thought it was a mistake, some comments on Instagram lead me to believe that aran is often in this category. On this occasion though the Lionbrand 24/7 cotton comes up as DK on a yarn substitute website and that is what I should have used. Anyway, the bag is extra strong in aran and worked up just fine so I’m happy with it. I’ve since started a dk version and it remains to be seen whether I can chuck in as much as I have been with my denim blue version.

Jake has started driving lessons with a driving school and we finally had to address the issue of not having a suitable small car for him to practice in. We are now a four car family and with a large caravan and half finished teardrop trailer we’ve got a bit of a driveway issue. J and I worked hard to clear some of M’s toolboxes and scrap wood, earth from our front garden grassing over project and a huge tub with a shrub in it. We have gained five feet of drive and that’s enough to squeeze E’s little Fiat into but obviously it’s been one long game of moving cars every time someone wants to go somewhere. Oh well, come September and the logistics all change again. I’m still working on persuading M to change the large caravan for a small campervan but each has pros and cons and we’ve been too busy to think about it.

It’s not been a peaceful summer at all. The pink sunset above is the view from the end of our garden. To the side we had a similar field and half of that was sold off to a developer who is now building 31 houses on it. I feel pretty annoyed with the farmers in this village because this isn’t the only farm land being developed. It could be worse, at least a very large pond/lake has been made first and mature trees will be planted along its edge. This will be between us and the houses so it should provide some screening in a few years time when the trees mature further. The dogs have never shown any interest in this side field, preferring to hop over our end fence and have a quick sniff around the edges of the top field. Now that there’s a body of water there it might suddenly become more attractive to them. I really hope not. If we suddenly need dog proof fencing we might need a second mortgage to pay for it! In the meantime it’s incredibly noisy and invasive to have large diggers with drivers who can see right into our garden.

It’s been cooler these last two days and although I’m sure the hot weather hasn’t entirely come to an end I found myself craving a chunky jumper project yesterday! I’ve been following the hashtag #summerofbasics on Instagram and I’m not entirely sure what the rules are but it seems to tap into my desire to have a minimalist wardrobe of clothing that I’ve made. It’s mainly sewn but with knitted and crocheted pieces too so it’s given me some food for thought for winter. I’ve got a little stash of Jacob’s undyed in DK and although not soft enough for some, I have found I can wear this next to my skin so I’m thinking of doing some trials in any old yarn before making up a final jumper in it.

For now though it’s back to my little pile of dishcloth cotton. I really will have to compile a post purely on things I’ve made with this stuff, it’s so versatile. I have yet to make bunting the same as before, for E’s new room in Leeds. I’m half way through making her string bag in this cotton and we might dip dye hers if we ever get round to having the tie dye session we have t shirts, dye and buckets on stand by for!

Crochet Cotton Face Pads

A couple of factors prompted me to finally get round to making some of these cotton face pads. One was clearing out E’s various drawers and boxes and finding no less than five half used packets of cotton face wipe pads, decanting them into one storage basket and throwing away five plastic bags. The second was a tip from a helpful girl at Lush who said that it’s better to spray your toner straight onto your face and then gently wipe it off, that way you get more of the product on your face and less of it on the cotton pad. I’ve been doing it the other way round all these years!

So I grabbed my favourite unbleached dishcloth cotton and made some of these reusable pads, and since it generated a bit of interest on Instagram I thought I’d share how I did it here. There’s not much to it really and you could easily just make a dc circle which would end up thinner and use less cotton, it might even work better but we like the puff stitch version for now.

You will need: one ball of dk weight unbleached dishcloth cotton

6mm hook

Wool needle for sewing in ends

In U.K. terms…

[Special instructions: puff stitches (yarn round hook and pull up a loop) three times. Pull yarn through all seven loops on the hook. Secure with one dc stitch.]

Start here: Make a magic circle and dc once, work 8 puff stitches into the circle and join with a slip stitch to the top of the first puff stitch made. Pull your magic circle tightly closed and sew end in later.

Slip stitch into the next space, dc once and work pairs of puff stitches into each space. (Secure puff stitches with a dc stitch as before but no extra dc’s are needed as you move from one space to the next). (8 pairs of puff stitches)

Join with a slip stitch to the top of the first puff stitch, slip stitch into the next space and work one dc into each dc around, slip stitch to finish. Break yarn and weave in ends.

Making this final one for the photo’s above bought the tally to 14 from one 100g ball. They use about 6 or 7g each. I’d suggest popping them in a small laundry mesh bag for the washing machine to prevent them getting stuck in the door seal or somewhere unhelpful!

Next on my list are simple crochet sleeves for our stainless steel straws. I’m just pleased the family are finally adopting more environmentally aware ways. They really didn’t appreciate me replacing kitchen roll a few years back with squares of cut up old shirts, despite the fact that it’s absolutely no bother at all and there’s always plenty of them to hand. Light use rags get washed and anything else (lets be honest here, the dogs will insist on puking grass up from time to time!) gets thrown away.

Decorating

My blog posts are like buses at the moment. Nothing for ages and then three at once! My time never quite seems my own during summer holidays despite the kids being old enough to amuse themselves now. Although J’s room needs a good sort out and declutter for his final year of A Levels and what will also be his final year at home before university we managed to get railroaded into completely repainting and reinventing E’s room first.

E’s room used to be a garage but was converted long before we lived here. It’s a pretty good conversion though with windows at both ends and a slightly lower ceiling than is standard but that makes it quite cosy. We’d never convert it back to a garage despite really needing one because the driveway to it is extremely narrow and there is a steep bank and stream to one side. I can only assume that cars were much narrower in the seventies when the house was built.

E chose white brick effect wallpaper this time and we decided to paste straight over the red brick wallpaper that was torn and tired. We wouldn’t normally do that but it worked perfectly well and saved time. We have five more layers to apply if we want to beat the record that existed in that room ten years ago when we started stripping wallpaper off, it was all seventies plastic coated stuff too! It was a team effort to get the paint and paper done. E and I did the yellow walls at one end of the room, M did most of the white including the ceiling and Mum came over and did the papering in record time. The great new layout was all down to Mum’s genius with furniture shuffling!

It hardly seems worth investing in new furniture now that E will be starting her second year at uni. We are under strict instructions not to do anything with the room until she buys her first house. So we agreed that the current temporary wardrobe (a quick replacement when the proper one decided to give up one day) would have to stay. It was a canvas covered one and we liked it better without the canvas. It doesn’t hold much but is suitable for visits and summer holidays. Winter jumpers and coats are currently in boxes under the bed.

It’s hard to photograph the layout properly and I still haven’t got round to taking photos of the bed end of the room but in a nutshell we have used the two big bookcases back to back as a room divider which is to your right as you go in. The desk/dressing table arrangement is to the left under the small window. The wardrobe is the only thing against the ‘brick’ wall so that we can actually see most of the wallpaper this time. An old doorway between rooms that was no longer needed has a fitted bookcase inside it that E is using for shoe storage. I’m secretly hoping that having shoes on display like this will highlight the fact that she doesn’t need anymore footwear.

One request was for lots of plants so we’ve gathered some from the rest of the house and bought a couple of new ones. It looks considerably more grown up than the previous look and I think the layout will work for the foreseeable future too. E is over the moon with it all. In the interests of keeping it real though, she has one heck of a lot of clothes sorting out to do before I can reclaim the dining room table. She’s pretty good at sorting and donating so it’s just a question of doing a box each day. She loves charity shop bargains so that does make it easier to part with clothes that she no longer wears.

I’m hoping that when the shed roof project is finally finished I will have some energy left for tackling J’s bedroom. He’s not so ruthless when it comes to letting go of things but he could really do with shelves being cleared for books and his own growing collection of footwear. What is it with these two? I’m happy with my Birkenstocks in summer and Fly boots in winter!

I’ve finished E’s granny square bag at long last. She came to me with a blurry image of a similar bag and we worked out that it was a roomy tote with a drawstring top and long strap. I did a thorough job on this project with a lining and a proper strap salvaged from an old bag and covered with a tube of tightly worked stitches (that took forever!) The bag is pretty sturdy and I think it will cope with quite a heavy load. It’s certainly got me thinking about making a crochet bag for myself. I was also glad to use up some stash yarn that was going to waste when I abandoned another colourful project that had a million ends to deal with!

E is persevering with her knitting. In the middle of moving from halls to a house and then back home for summer we managed to leave her half finished knitted jumper behind. I say we, but it was my fault because we dug it out from amongst the boxes and I somehow managed to leave it behind. After much deliberation and a few false starts on other projects E has settled on the Coffee House Wrap by Two of Wands. We ordered the cotton while the Drops sale was on and it cost so little it was daft. Although it’s got stitch markers, colour changes and yarn overs it looking hopeful as a next level project.

E isn’t the only student who has come home to work a summer job to pay for rent on a house she’s had to secure for September. Student loans don’t seem to cover this period and yet rental agreements need to be signed at the beginning of July when the previous students move out to secure a property. E has bravely gone through the whole process of trying something new and training to be a proper barista and is working as many shifts as are available at the moment, which isn’t enough to cover the rent but with our help she’s managing to have a bit of a summer break too. We haven’t planned any kind of a proper holiday this year but it’s been nice to have the odd family meal out and no doubt we will fit in the odd day out too.

J has had a whole year away from cricket. It was partly the travelling to and from a club 45 minutes away but mainly due to his back playing up. He joined our local club this year and has been in pain again so we made a private appointment for him to see a sports physiotherapist and he’s now got a regime of daily exercises to do to strengthen the muscles in the back of his legs which should compensate for the muscles that are over developed through fast bowling. Something like that anyway! Although he’s been mainly reinventing himself as a batsman this year it is still a bending and twisting movement. The physio was hopeful that the problem can be rectified. I think I said before that it’s no longer cool for Mums to come along in their fold up chairs with their crochet basket and watch. He doesn’t know it but I’ve been casually walking the dogs up at the far end of the ground and having a little peek.

We’ve had three days of wet and windy weather. The stream has a trickle of water in it and the flowers we planted in tubs are having a whole new lease of life. The downside has been the state of the shed. J and I wrestled with the huge tarpaulin last Friday when the hail and wind were starting to kick up. The shed is five meters long by four metres and that takes a lot of tarpaulin. It needed a lot more than just the two of us to get it into place and weight it down even without the stormy weather so we had to abandon it and make a run for cover. Currently it’s all looking rather wet. It’s times like these I wish M’s three sisters were actually three brothers!

I did a photo collage of things I’d made in July for an Instagram post and it was surprising considering how much has been going on. I finished the midnight Mexican top, a shawl and E’s granny square bag. The latter took quite a bit of time that I managed to grab here and there, mainly in the evenings. The colours were cheerful to work with at the time but I really couldn’t work with that much colour on a regular basis. It’s a bit psychedelic on my eyes after a while! I used a basic cotton tote to line the bag with to save me having to sew anything. Likewise I used an old bag strap and covered it in a long tube of tight dc stitches. I sewed D rings on to the bag because the strap came with clips. All in all it became a very sturdy bag that should stand up to lots of use.

E is doing a degree in primary school teaching and has to undertake a number of placements in schools. She had already taken a year out after A Levels to do a teaching assistant apprenticeship which was perfect for her to decide whether or not to pursue teaching itself. She formed quite a bond with her then year two kids and still pops back to visit when she’s home. She has found that having colourful jewellery, clothing, bags, hats or scarves are always a good icebreaker for when she meets new children. Their curiosity gets the better of them and they flock to ask questions. It’s not just the girls who move in for a closer look either. Boys of six or seven have commented that she’s ‘always so interesting and bright and cheerful’. So I have a feeling that the new bag will be taken in some school visits and placements in the future.

My favourite story though, from a placement at the beginning of the year was the little boy who asked if E’s Nanna had made her hat. When she told him that it was her Mum who had made the hat he said, ‘your Mummy and my Nanna are very clever to make nice things with just a stick and some string’. It kind of sums up why I like my chosen craft so much. I was forever keeping things simple with my creativity when I was a child, mostly because we just didn’t go shopping that often (too busy doing far more interesting things!) we didn’t have online shopping and so I had to be creative with what I had and could find. I bore my children with this information at times; how we didn’t go out and buy clay for instance, we dug down a few feet in the garden and made all sorts of unfired art with it. There may come a time when it has some relevance to them. Keep it simple, use what you have. Doesn’t apply to yarn stash of course! Well only some of the time.

South

It’s that age old thing, needing a holiday to get over a holiday! M and I have just been away for four days. It was all a bit last minute as usual and not really a holiday at all for M. We kicked off by leaving in the small hours for London. I was praying for a cancellation or a booking cock up because Balham didn’t seem the likeliest place to kill five hours comfortably. As it turns out there is quite a sewing industry there and apart from gazing in to old fashioned steam pressing workshops I also managed to kill some time in a large haberdashery type of shop. It wasn’t the most well kept emporium but it was a trove of interesting supplies nonetheless. I managed to find some vintage crochet patterns in a sale folder which I’ll add to my box file in the hope one day I’ll get round to using them as design inspiration.

Coffee and air conditioning was my salvation for the rest of the time. I bought a Virago classic from a charity shop and devoured it in almost one sitting. I really only read these days when I forget to take my crochet. The crochet was safely tucked up in my suitcase in the back of the car outside the local court house but even if I had it with me I’m not always keen to whip it out in a cafe. Typically there was a knitter there who looked very confused with her knitting in the round project after just two rows. It was only stocking stitch so I’m guessing she was fairly new to it. Had it been crochet of course I’d have definitely volunteered some help!

From London we travelled down to Canterbury and I was persuaded to try a Japanese restaurant for the first time. I’m always up for new things and it turns out I did actually recognise a few things on the menu anyway. Sadly my sitting cross legged on wooden floor days are over but if it wasn’t for my dodgy knee and M’s dodgy hip we absolutely would have loved that. We stayed in a hotel right next to the cathedral and even with a huge sash window open and large chrome fan it was ridiculously hot all night. I ended up getting up several times in the small hours just to optimise the position of the fan.

I had a bit longer than expected in Canterbury the next day. After a quick browse through the town I bought some fresh cherries, stocked up with plenty of water and headed for a sign I’d spotted for a riverside walk. I found a shady spot under a tree and did some crochet and a bit of reading. I’d have happily fallen asleep like one of the women across the way but I’d never feel safe doing that in public. When I close my eyes I effectively close all sound off too. Small rowing boat tours went by and even some punts. It all felt rather civilised and a little Victorian, well apart from my lack of ladylike ways with a pound of cherries on my lap, that were very soon in my tummy.

M was very hot, tired and hungry when it was finally time to leave Canterbury. Later analysis of his boring monologues every time this happens only revealed that he believes it is part and parcel of being a wife, that it’s my duty to listen to this tosh and deliver sympathy! I quietly but firmly informed him that I did not agree with that at all and that I’d be more sympathetic if he didn’t go on and on. That there is indeed another way and that is to stoically cope in silence and make arrangements to seek food and drink to revive himself. I hold onto the advice that I can’t change this about him even if I do offer alternative ways but I can change the way I react, so I’m probably just working my way through various options. Silence is always a good one.

I’m sure some would rather have accommodation booked in advance and know exactly where they are going and when. We have a more casual approach and ironically this never actually causes any tension or stress. On arrival in my neck of the woods we found the hotel I thought would have vacancies did not. We pulled up in a lay-by and both googled for alternatives and found a reasonable option in nearby Battle. The room was perfectly ok but the bathroom had seen better days. I was secretly glad that our best option for a meal was Italian and it was superb despite the fact it was so quiet on a weekday in the middle of what should have been peak tourist trade. Another hot night meant little sleep for either of us which didn’t help matters the following morning when M needed to catch up on laptop work while I was keen to get going to see my Grandfather. We had a lovely pub lunch with Grandad away from the touristy spots by the sea and went back to his place for a cup of tea and more chat. It was a flying visit but always so good to see him for real rather than via FaceTime. He loved his crochet medal birthday card I made him for his birthday by the way.

The work schedule meant we had to dash over to Brighton next. M had secretly booked this next hotel and I’m pretty sure it was his way of admitting that maybe he’d been a bit of a twit since Canterbury. For the same as our usual budget he’d managed to get a huge room with a triple aspect sea facing window and a large corner whirlpool jacuzzi bath. The fact that we were too tired to move was beside the point. After some more work stuff we were free to stroll along the seafront, eat and take in the many walks of life this place was buzzing with. It was slightly surreal sipping cold cans of coke on the seafront at midnight (and still in the high twenties) watching a floodlit basketball game, something you wouldn’t expect in Old Blighty.

Brighton is pretty cool if you know where to go. With just a short time left I was able to show M a few of my favourite streets that are often mistaken for the Lanes but are in my humble opinion, much more interesting. I mean where else can you see a shop just for Vegetarian shoes, alongside one just for belly button piercings, a window full of the brightest leather brogues just for men, Moroccan leather goods, the most fantastic plant shop (I could have spent a while there)… it’s full of whacky graffiti and huge 3D shop signs mounted on the walls too. So much to take in. M loved it.

We paid a little visit to Yak and treated E to some yarn and a suitable pattern. I may have lined up my next project with yarn and a pattern booklet too! M was chatty and patient despite the heat. He will confidently walk into any yarn store and ask for the man table. Occasionally I run ideas by him, he’s surprisingly helpful and gets more knowledgeable by the day. I could put a hank of something special in front of him and ask him if he liked the colours and he’ll look at the label and say, mmh, 210 yards, what could you make with that, a hat maybe? I know, it’s uncanny, it’s partly bluff and partly stuff he’s picked up and remembered.

J is always tricky to treat to little things when I’ve bought something for E. This time though it was easy. So many people in Brighton had stainless steel water flasks with most cafes supplying iced water to help yourself to. We found a great midnight blue one for J and driving home wish we had bought two more. Our bottled water was warm in no time despite the air conditioning in the car.

The journey home took considerably longer than it should have due to the volume of traffic on the roads and a torrential downpour through Cambridgeshire slowed things up a bit too. I don’t mind admitting I gulped a few times when we were saying goodbye to Sussex, ok sobbed actually but I blame hormones, it just felt so easy to go back to everything I knew and loved and so bloody hard to come back here every time to this flat and uninspiring county. I focussed hard on all the positive things here but I never quite get that, phew, so glad to be home feeling that I think you’re supposed to feel when you’ve been away for a little while. I think that’s why I throw myself into cleaning and laundry and random jobs when I get home and it stays that way for a good few days, then I distract myself some more and eventually that sinking feeling gets overtaken by daily life.

So currently I am partially blocking my skimming stones shawl on the kitchen worktop while I sew in the last few ends (it’s taking a while). Alongside that I’ve pinned the crochet edging that will soon be attached to my black linen dress. I’m trying not to think about my lack of sewing skills but surely even I can tack an edging along a hem? It’s rather annoying that the kids just want to use the worktop for food prep, I mean honestly, can’t they just take a day off?

We’ve had dramatic weather here the evening with large hail stones dropping amongst torrential rain. They were the size of marbles and cold as ice cubes from the freezer, so surreal when it was still thirty degrees. J and I wrestled with the shed roof cover but we well and truly lost the battle and we will now just have to hope for more heatwave weather to dry it it again. The thunder and lighting has been terrifying for Riley. He wouldn’t budge from my lap for a good long time. He’s glued to my side right now and only settled down when I employed my usual trick of playing loud music to drown it all out.

More housework is on the cards for tomorrow especially if the rain has finally cooled things down a little. I have so many crochet projects on my to do list but I need to tick off the two kitchen worktop projects first before a food or drink accident happens.

[the photos from top to bottom are… the M11, Canterbury, fresh Kent cherries, Canterbury with outside pub seating (where I may have had a drink or two and announced that I could see a Flink Pamingo!) frogging crochet edging due to excessively hot weather impeding concentration, Battle Abbey in golden evening sun, crochet WWII medal, crochet edging project, hotel room overlooking Brighton seafront, finishing the skimming stones shawl with a sea view, kitchen worktop blocking station, stocks which were well and truly dead but not ditched (not on teenage radar) when we got home.]

Summer

What an excellent summer so far! It rained so much last year we hardly got any garden jobs done at all and the workshop roof deteriorated badly despite covering it with a patchwork of tarpaulins. With weeks of dry weather it was finally a safe bet that we’d get this job done and dusted.

We have spent three whole days on it so far just ripping out rotten timber, piling it high to burn and filling my car boot with rubbish for the tip. Some of it water damaged goods but mostly just junk M had accumulated over a long period of time. There’s a substantial amount of work to do yet but he’s looking forward to getting it all ship shape and having a workspace again. He enjoys woodwork and we always manage to find things for him to make. E has dropped hints for a stepladder plant stand type thing. I could do with another wooden tool trug (after giving my last one away). I’ve always had a set of tools, a hammer, pliers, the basic stuff and having my own tool box means I never have to go searching amongst tonnes of other tools.

It’s back breaking work hauling wood and furniture and scrap metal and all sorts but the bonus will be that I can reclaim my own workshop which currently houses all the equipment we salvaged when daylight first started appearing in M’s workshop roof (and precisely when he should have got up there with a few rolls of felt). My workshop has had several reincarnations in the last twelve years. At first I hoped it would be a pottery studio and it still does have my potter’s wheel in it. I may have to consider parting with that because I can’t really imagine ever finding the time to devote to a second hobby. Now that I’m pretty sure yarn is my thing it makes sense to use the space for natural dyeing, or at least mainly storing all the equipment for it.

We aren’t precious about gardening at all, although we have done quite well with pots and tubs and a few new plants this year. It looks like we’ve finally got something to ‘take’ to the conditions at the front of the house by way of a climber. I think it might have helped that Mum chose and planted it. We had three previous attempts that all died so you can imagine how I’ve been tending this new wisteria, willing it to live! In the back garden however, the lawn will never be lush with so much tree cover so I’m thinking of creating a raised bed using railway sleepers we already have and growing something useful for dyeing. Woad comes to mind, but I’m sure there are others. These are plans that may have to wait until next year.

Before the big workshop renovation started we did a big makeover in E’s room. It was long overdue like all DIY around here! It was a team effort, E and I emptied the room. I painted the two yellow walls, M painted the ceiling. Mum came for a whole day and wallpapered the white brick effect wall and finished the white wall painting. The magic took place when we started moving the furniture around and playing with the layout. It seemed daft to have nice wallpaper and then cover it up with two large bookcases so Mum came up with the idea of having them back to back as a room divider. It really worked and created a lovely private end to the room where she can relax and read. Today M has put up white floating shelves and cube shelves too.

My gooseberry bush has produced a bumper crop this year. This week they passed the taste test and we decided to pick them and turn them into jam. M likes to do all the kitchen stuff round here so I duly let him loose on my precious crop and told him to be careful, not to burn them. I sometimes wonder if I stopped speaking altogether and only communicated in sign language whether information would actually be conveyed make reliably. I did offer to stand and stir but I was shooed away. The jam is edible but not that lovely green colour I was expecting.

Well I fell a little behind finishing this post, time seems to be moving very fast these last few weeks. It’s chaotic but I can live with that. I fully subscribe to the view that everything will get done eventually. Ironically I think M has taught me that. He has no inkling that slow living is actually a thing, he’s been that way for years. I come from a family that get things done and fast, work hard, play hard. I’m learning to slow down. I don’t look too far ahead but I am definitely shelving anything that I think might be best undertaken in the winter months. Now is the time to soak up all the sun, or perhaps just stay in the shade and relax!