Forbearance

I feel very lucky to have these beautiful riverside walks pretty much to myself any time I choose to take the dogs for a walk. There’s evidence of plenty of horse riding, other dog walkers and ramblers but I rarely cross paths with them. This makes for a stress free walk since I don’t need to think about the dogs being on leads or saying ‘yes it is isn’t it!’ when someone says ‘morning’, and ‘good morning’ when someone says ‘lovely day isn’t it?’.

Riley will only make a nuisance of himself if other dogs are on leads, if they aren’t he will happily chase or be chased with his tail wagging. We once approached a woman with two dogs who immediately put them on leads. Riley was too far ahead to take any notice of me calling him back so he did get a bit verbal. I apologised and explained that he only barks if a dog is on a lead and she promptly unleashed her King Charles Cavaliers and they all had a great time chasing round in circles. I was relieved Riley had acted as predicted, dogs and children are pretty good at doing the exact opposite to what you’ve just confidently described. Naturally Harvey says a quick hello and carries on with his quest to find a good throwing/fetching stick.

E’s Easter cactus has bloomed all over. These have become a yearly tradition since she first started collecting cacti. They seem like such a lot of flowers for so little money. We buy them from the supermarket for about £1.40. This year there were half a dozen colours to choose from. I’m waiting for a deep pinky red one to flower too.

M is making good progress with the teardrop trailer. Since the first sheet of thin ply went up for the inner lining he’s completed the whole roof lining, sealed it and wired the electrics through the cavity it created. Various trim has been added to make nice looking seams. Lights have been ordered and collected and weather permitting they might be wired up tomorrow. I’m glad to report that we are not talking electrics quite so often now. I had to grin and bear it just once today when M drew a helpful circuit diagram on the back of a receipt for coffee. I had other things on my mind so I just nodded in the right places.

There’s been the usual family ups and downs this last week. The cricket season started with a bang as it usually does. ‘Someone’ gets over excited, takes it all far too seriously and forgets to take into account the opinions and feelings of the one actually playing cricket. I had to step in and keep the peace which I managed to do without even raising my voice. There was a two day sulk and that wasn’t the teenager. In fact it only came to an end today, in the middle of a Marks and Spencer’s Food Hall (definitely more stylish than a marital bust up in B&Q, we’ve witnessed these but haven’t quite joined the club yet). ‘Someone’ was dragging his feet around like Harry Enfield’s ‘Kevin’ and shrugging at every suggestion for dinner. I finally stopped and in a very quiet voice calmly explained that I’d had enough, that he’d used up all of my patience and that if he didn’t stop acting like a complete …. I would feel the need to discuss it, in a louder voice, right there, in Marks and Spencer’s. I don’t like ultimatums like this but boy did it work nicely on this occasion. He’s been his usual funny, life and soul of the party self since and we had a great family meal sitting at the newly positioned dining room table where the evening sun streams in.

I did some furniture shuffling over the weekend. Our dining room lacks proper sunlight since it’s positioned between the hall and the conservatory and doesn’t actually have an outside window (we might put one in one day). J and I dragged the big table through to the sunlounge and put it at the end with the double doors. When it’s sunny and warm we can eat just inside with these doors flung open whilst staying out of the wind that seems to constantly blow across from the fields. It proved good feng shui this evening when everyone was open to trying this new location and didn’t rush to leave the table after the meal. I’m thinking the vacated dining room might make a good craft area! I’ll just get M to knock up a work bench!
https://instagram.com/simplenaturalhandmade72 #aflowerforjenny

Beech

Do you ever have a day planned out in your mind and then it doesn’t quite turn out that way? The kind of day where you go to bed nice and early the night before because you need to be up at six thirty and then you toss and turn all night, either because you’re excited about the change of scene or you’re worried about not waking up on time.  The kind of day where you can’t doze on the journey down the A1 because someone beside you is also tired and doesn’t want to be the only one awake at that hour. Then the strong coffee you eventually get only barely wakes you up enough.

You arrive at the destination city and despite being given the magic plastic rectangle as currency you really don’t feel like, ugh, shopping. So you wander round looking at the cathedral and comparing it to the one in your own city, and think to yourself, ours is better. Then you watch other people taking photographs of the cathedral and think to yourself, this is a tourist place, really? You walk miles looking up at skylines and architecture, look down at pigeons cleaning the under side of their wings in the street level fountains, watch old people still in love and young people puffing on e-cigarettes, and then glance at the time and think holy crap I’ve got half an hour to buy two birthday presents and some underwear.

You meet up with your other half for a romantic lunch for two but he’s in work mode and the phone doesn’t stop buzzing with work offers and when it does stop he’s engrossed in Facebook, so you watch more old people in love and more young people slowly killing themselves with liquid nicotine. On the way home you prop your eyelids open with imaginary matchsticks because it’s still not ok to nap and anyway you wouldn’t want to fall asleep with your mouth open and be seen by traffic passing by or worse still, snapped and put on Facebook.

The day gets better when you get home and insist that you are having a nap now and it is NOT ok to wake you for any reason whatsoever. So you flop, fully clothed on to your bed and don’t even remember your head hitting the pillow, then wake three hours later with your hair sticking up on one side and the pillow imprint on your left cheek and wonder why no-one woke you for dinner. That kind of day.

On the plus side, not only did I manage to get two birthday presents and underwear in that half an hour, I also picked up a solid hunk of wood turned, by an enthusiastic amateur, into a bowl, for 50p. It looks like beech to me. I love this kind of thing (even though we have a growing number of wooden bowls) especially if it’s not varnished and the bark is left on. This one is wool sized! Not such a bad day out.

Doodling

My Scheepjes CAL blanket is finally finished! I certainly wasn’t one of the first over the finish line but I’m probably not the last! The linen stitch border is probably the part I like best, though I do like some of the textured squares like the honeycomb pattern and the waffle. The project also brought me round to the idea of using bobbles a bit more too. It was a great project to do to widen my crochet knowledge. I did a bit of ripping back on quite a few of the squares when I hadn’t concentrated enough on stitch counts. The joining up method was also a lesson in itself. In hindsight I wish I’d used dc and not slip stitch as suggested but it’s very firmly held together and it was a plus not having to sew it up with a tapestry needle. When the teardrop trailer is finished the blanket will be joining us on our travels.

We’ve been having problems sourcing a certain type of bendy wood for the teardrop. We knew that some of the materials would be in plentiful supply where these trailers are commonly used but not so easily obtained in the UK. However, there’s more than one way to line a roof so I volunteered a few suggestions and M actually called me a genius! Wow, we have made some serious progress since the early days when only the supply of builder’s tea was agreeable. M has been cutting curvy roof spars for the galley hatch and it is round about now that I’m wondering whether we’ve bitten off more than we can chew. If M is thinking the same he’s certainly not admitting it. I guess we both like a challenge.

Harvey is suffering with his old shoulder injury so we didn’t walk so far today. The clouds were magnificent. I took a few quick snaps and then just enjoyed the scenery, apart from having to shout at Riley now and then for rolling in unpleasant substances. He also stuck the front half of his body into a large fox hole which is not something I’ve seen him do before and I’m not keen for him to do again. Imagine if he got stuck down a fox hole, I’d have to rely on Harvey to hear where he was and that would not be reliable because Harvey wouldn’t really care where Riley was, only the location of his tennis ball. Brotherly love only extends so far!

I’ve been doodling in wool and on my iPad trying to figure out how to incorporate E’s desire for a cactus flower somewhere on her uni blanket. I didn’t have pink in the weight I’m hoping to make the blanket in so I doubled up a small quantity of dk and tried various combinations of petals. The pic above is the closest I’ve got to the image in my head but I’m still not quite there with it. E likes the combination of green, pink and pale grey that I’ve been experimenting with so I’ve also got to figure out which range does an Aran weight in these colours with a wool content.

The most exciting doodling has been with a new app that I treated myself too. I don’t buy much music these days and very rarely buy an app (usually the free ones do everything I need from an app) so I actually had to purchase my own iTunes card! The remaining credit after I spent all of £2.99 will probably remain on my account for some considerable time! The app is a very simple one, nothing flashy or complicated, it uses a photo’s of your crochet or knitted squares and allows you to plan a blanket layout. I guess it would work with square based patchwork too. You can specify the size of each square and the blanket so that it calculates how many squares you need to make. I used a couple of squares from internet photos which is why I can’t show you my first attempt at a blanket layout but once I’ve replaced those photos with my own I can show you how much fun this app is.

I showed my new discovery to M late last night and I can’t say whether it was the late hour or the lack of enthusiasm for crochet apps that elicited a less than excited response from him. I have an opportunity to visit a proper city tomorrow so I’m hoping to squish some yarn and find the colours I’m looking for. Online buying is so convenient but I find the colours aren’t always what I was expecting.

I’ve been doing a few rows of the ripple blanket shown in my header today. It’s an absolute sun trap where M is working on the teardrop and since I need to get up every five minutes to hold a piece of wood or be shown a new development it makes sense to be nearby. The only downside is that there is now a fair bit of sawdust crocheted into this blanket which I hope will wash out eventually!

Check

It’s all become a little teardrop obsessed round here. I’ve lost hours of my life talking about electrical circuits that I’m never going to get back. I keep telling M he’s on his own with the whole electrical thing but he does like to share. Fortunately we have several options for help including a friend who is an auto electrician, the good old internet and finally a fantastic old Haynes manual for caravans I picked up which has whole sections on batteries, transformers, converters, sockets (have you nodded off yet?).

I was needed briefly for the drafting of three cubby holes on a sheet of plywood today. This is more my kind of thing. I had the shapes drawn up in no time and the curves drawn with a handy tin of rice pudding. This unit is for the inside sleeping area and has a square plywood ‘conduit’ running underneath it which will house the fuse box and other interesting electrical things. I’m pretty sure I remember asking for something suitable for off grid camping but I suppose I can see the benefits of also having electrical hook up if only to charge everything whilst parked on our driveway. M couldn’t possibly go camping without somewhere to charge his phone!

Just to redress the balance and remind myself of the more exciting details I made a check list of all the camping and cooking equipment I’ve gathered so far. Most of the enamelware came from charity shops or our local antique/junk centre. Nothing has cost more than a £1 a piece except for the enamel coffee pot which was £6. The tea caddy still has its lining so that was a nice find. The other metal container is an Indian tiffin box that we’ll probably use for biscuits. I found the utensils as a set, six items for £6. The rustic wooden handles would go well in our kitchen indoors but we will need some for the teardrop so I’m hoping that we can fit in some kind of rail or inside door rack for them somewhere. After taking this photograph and packing it all back inside the blue suitcase I remembered I had another wooden box stashed away with the cutlery, aluminium whistling kettle, camping pans and a couple of enamel pans. Along with another vintage suitcase packed with washed and folded navy blue bed linen and towels (all surplus to requirements from our main caravan) I think we are good to go the minute the teardrop is finished!

I’m on a mission to find the best camping coffee before our first trip. Today E and I tried a coffeebag. It just doesn’t sound right does it? Teabag yes, coffeebag no. It was coffee in a teabag. It was pretty good, kind of like the taste of proper coffee but without the flashy machine hassle. Most definitely a contender. Mind you, camping is all about slow living and back to basics so I had envisaged brewing coffee the slow way, not just throwing a bag in a mug and boiling the kettle.

I’ve made some good progress with the joining stage of the Last Dance blanket. It’s quite hard work if I’m honest. Our dining table isn’t in a room with good light so I’m laying it out on our double bed each day. The guidelines suggest using a hook two sizes bigger for joining which is great advice because it is joining very nicely but it’s a devil to push a fat 6mm hook through a stitch that has been made with a 4mm hook, especially when you’re working through the inside loops of two rows of stitching. Thankfully, after several back breaking days, I have only two more rows to join.

I had a bit of a shouty moment when ‘someone’ left the bedroom door ajar after opening it to say goodbye on his way out to a football match, not mentioning any names here, and Riley decided he’d been excluded long enough and took a flying leap and landed bang slap in the middle of the half joined blanket. Remind me why I like dogs? I’ve temporarily forgotten! Luckily the blanket has survived. It’s been a marathon of a project and I’m looking forward to going mundanely round and round for the border.

I’d love to send E off to university in September with a large thick colourful crochet blanket of some description but I know that I’m unlikely to finish anything I start now until nearer to the September of the following year. That won’t stop me researching design possibilities and doing mental calculations. Chunky yarn works up so much quicker right? I’ll probably see how her woven wall hanging goes first. In true, not so subtle E style, she messaged me with a photo of a weaving that she liked and said something like this would be cool for my uni room! Hint taken!

Adjustments

It’ll be Murphy’s law that by the time we actually need M to have some official time off for a holiday he’ll be working ridiculously long hours. In theory it sounds good being self employed but in practice we can’t plan anything much ahead. Today and the next few days will be cancellations again. He may still be called away at the last minute to cover those cancellation slots or for short notice police interviews. For now though he is working steadily on the teardrop trailer while he can.

As project manager (when I’m allowed to be) I insist on discussing the progress over a proper cup of coffee. There have to be some perks! During today’s ‘meeting’ I tried to be gentle when I mentioned the lack of a rebate for the part that comes down over the galley. While M was pondering that I bravely ventured that I didn’t think there was enough footwell space inside if you take into account the depth of a basic mattress. I must have caught M on a particularly good day because he took these potential problems quite well, with only a few dozen swear words mainly directed at himself.

So M spent most of today removing the galley fittings and moving them up quite a bit and backwards a little. I didn’t win the argument about how much to raise the galley unfortunately and I have a feeling I will need a stepladder to reach into the fridge but as M pointed out, I’m not likely to be the one who uses it most. It’s true he cooks most of the time but he seems to have forgotten that he was building this teardrop for me to use exclusively during the cricket season! I love watching J play cricket but he plays so many matches from April through to September that I sometimes need time out.

I’ve been such a dedicated cricket mum that I’ve had to suffer all kinds of nasty sub standard cricket pavilion facilities. Most are very nice but one horror comes to mind where there was only one toilet for twenty four players, assorted Dads, catering volunteers and me. Not only that but it was within the men’s changing rooms and it didn’t have a lock. I took one look and tried very hard not to cry! It hadn’t been cleaned in a very long time so I calmly told M that I probably needed to seek alternative arrangements! Thankfully he’s the sort to ask anyone for any kind of help without a shred of awkwardness or embarrassment (unlike me) and so I was able to use the relatively luxury facilities of the bowls club next door for the day! When a new cricket venue comes up I now google the club and make sure that the pavilion is not a run down portakabin. If it is I leave the men to it.

Remember the photo from a previous post with the fridge box and stove looking strangely positioned? Well the latest photo above will make much more sense now. It shows how both appliances will slide out on a drawer base. With just the stove pulled out and locked into position we will have an L shaped cooking space. The other spaces are cupboards and the hole in the worktop will have a lid for access to storage below. I’m hoping it won’t be too long before the photo’s start to look a bit more exciting!

I mainly found excuses to be indoors more than outside helping M today. We’ve gone from heat wave to pretty darn chilly in 24 hours. The BBC were spot on when they said it would be coat weather again by Monday. I popped Riley on an old sheet on the kitchen island this morning. He’s used to staying down below in his bed and looking smugly up at Harvey having his hair cut. I decided he was looking a bit girly after seeing that photo of his long ears I posted yesterday. He had quite a few wispy bits too and some long fluff where his leg fronds were supposed to be, they just gather thistle heads so I used the electric clippers to tidy those up a bit. For some reason they both expected a bonio as a reward for just Riley having a trim. Weird.

After walks and housework and laundry (yawn) I managed to squeeze in some crochet time. I finished two more squares. I’ll be so glad when those last two are also finished. I’m itching to see how it feels as a blanket, whether it feels solid enough, warm, whether I can live with all that detail and pattern! All the online woolly people now have a big choice in colour and blanket packs. I’d think very carefully before jumping in with another project like this though. I can’t remember how long it’s been since I stopped knitting and finally got the hang of crochet but I do know it’s been years and I’m still learning with each project that I do.

Splendid

There are certain words that M really enjoys hearing me pronounce, they include, ‘Sussex’ ‘Disgusting’ and ‘Splendid’. You’d expect them to be words such as bath, path, grass and castle given that those are examples of words we pronounce very differently. I do say Sussex and disgusting quite often (not usually in the same sentence) but I tend only to use the word splendid in jest. It’s seems such a pretentious word. He laughed a lot when I said today had been a splendid day.

Although E has been driving for a while now it’s still quite a novelty when she comes and goes freely. It’s even more of a novelty when she takes her brother along too. At first I thought I’d never allow this but I can’t ban everything I worry about, besides it’s valuable bonding time. It’s all too easy for them to start leading their own lives and not spending quality time with each other. J is quite charitable about being seen in a Fiat 500 even if he does quite literally have to fold his 6’3, nearly 6’4 frame into this tiny car. Today was even more heartwarming because they set off to visit their grandparents half an hour away. J and Dad go and watch the local football team and E and Mum go shopping.

Upon their departure this morning I said to M, this feels so strange, we’ve got a child free day and we didn’t have to take either of them anywhere! Of course we used our time in the most exciting way possible. Yep, B&Q. Wood trim, hinges and a bolt today. All for the teardrop project. Indoor DIY is temporarily on hold until it next rains all day, which probably won’t be too long. Our next door neighbour finally gave in to his curiosity and appeared by the stream that separates our properties. He admitted that they’ve been trying to get a better view from their upstairs windows to try and work out what M is building. It turns out he is an engineer and knows all about aluminium trim so M was in his element talking metal specs with Mr E from next door.

So whilst all that riveting chat was going on I had the back garden all to myself, or should I say the newly jetwashed to within an inch of its life decking? Along with sparkling clean stone frog for company. Even that old table got blasted and I swear only the dirt was holding it together. I must confess though I did not make that crochet blanket. I don’t think I could bring myself to be that random, or use pink, but I still like it. It was a charity shop buy for a few pounds. It’s got a few holes here and there that could be repaired but I haven’t got round to it. In fact I picked up two crochet blankets for very little some time ago and thought that if nothing else, they could be dog blankets, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to subject them to that. Small clean dogs perhaps but these two run round a ploughed field every morning, have a good swim in a slightly stinky lake nearly every day and are most happy when they are filthy. Dog blankets don’t last that long.

I did make that knitted cloud cushion though. It was a kind of practice run, using existing stash, for whether or not I wanted to buy yarn especially for grey cloud cushions for our bed. I’m not obsessed with feng shui but I’m thinking that grey clouds are probably not going to be a good thing for bedrooms and I’m not sure I want white fluffy clouds either. So this beige cloud is just a comfy back rest and nothing more. I was very glad of the cloud today. The viral thing is on its way out thank goodness but I’ve somehow managed to pull a muscle in my lower back. If things come in threes then I’m all done!

We took the dogs to the next village today where there are a few shops and a long shallow beck running behind them. At one end there were children with rolled up jeans and fishing nets so we drive to the other end and hoped the ducks would move up a bit. They did with a bit of encouragement from Riley. He doesn’t go tearing after them, it’s more of a cautious approach. One stern word from us and he headed back as if to say, oh ok then, I’ll leave them for now. I’ve seen him catch up with birds on the lake and he just wants to sniff which of course they aren’t that happy about.

I’d spent some chunk of the morning crocheting a white ribbed square for the Last Dance blanket and then realised that I’d already made the last white square the night before. I was pretty cross with myself! So I laid the whole blanket out again and made a note of all the missing squares which is now only four. Two bobbles and two honeycomb. All four of these are in the last two rows so I was able to do some more joining leaving just those two rows to do. I’m trying not to think about all the ends accumulating underneath.

Mid afternoon saw a delivery from a company I call Dippy D since they managed to mess up the first two or three things we had the misfortune of having delivered by them. They’ve definitely improved and if that continues I might have to start calling them by their real name, DPD. Another whopping box for a tiny phone case. I was so late to catch on to the whole smart phone thing. In fact before I was persuaded to have one I was quite happy with a small mobile that I’d had for eight years and was still going strong. Then along came teenage years and a whole succession of hand me downs. Teens to Mum that is. I’ve now finally caught up with everyone and have an iPhone. It’s an old model and doesn’t have the phone and text service activated which is ideal for me because I can’t hear to make calls anyway and we don’t need texts when we all have messaging instead. The phone therefore costs a fiver a month added on to M’s business phone contract. I’ve never had more than a bog standard phone case either until I saw this one. It’s telling that the three things I’ve bought for myself this year so far have all been wool related. Wool felt. Birkenstocks. A yarn swift. Harris Tweed woven phone case. I should have been a sheep farmer.

Tranquil

J and I got our lovely quiet day today. When M messaged from London and asked how things were I said, ‘peaceful’. Such a luxury thing. I have only to switch off to find absolute silence and M will sometimes even suggest it but silence goes beyond that, it’s about not having to hear. One thing I’ve come to understand since I met M eleven years ago is that his enthusiasm for life manifests in an abundance of spoken words, both loud and fast. In the beginning I tried to be heard, then I quietly gave up trying and wallowed a bit and now that I’m older and wiser I think I’ve found a balance. This still involves listening more than speaking  and also having to find the patience to hear something in two hundred words that could be said in twenty but ultimately it is about being very precise about what I say when I’ve got the floor so that it is heard. It doesn’t always work I must admit.

Having a psychotherapist and relationship expert in the family does help. I was totally wounded when I was faced with the advice that it was me that needed to change. It felt like such a major criticism. It’s really just about not being able to change some things about some people but instead, being in charge of how you deal with them. When I accepted that it was life changing.

I failed to coax J to join me on the dog walk today but he did later finish jet washing our deck and quite a few other things into the bargain. A stone frog that we found in the garden one day and has been used as a door stop ever since used to have a lovely green weathered patina to it… it’s now concrete coloured once more. A bench that I stained with a charcoal colour last summer is now back to bare wood. A patch of concrete that had weathered and blended nicely is now gleaming like newly laid concrete. There are more examples. In fact I was amazed that the charcoal stain came off the bench so at least I know what to use if I ever need anything stripping back to wood! All this jet washing activity and he missed a whole big section of the deck. Words fail me.

The dog walk was just what I needed after round two of nasty viral chest infections. I felt so much better today and the dogs were  bouncing with excitement. The countryside changes so much in a short space of time. This hawthorn blossom wasn’t nearly as dense a week ago. The river was low enough for safe swimming today too and it didn’t take the dogs long to realise that. Harvey dropped a suitable stick at my feet and immediately headed down the bank knowing that I’d throw it in the water. In fact when I look at the photo’s it looks cloudy but it felt much sunnier at the time. It was t shirt weather, the schools are on their Easter holidays here and yet not a single soul was out in this nature reserve for the two hours we were there.

Wool looks so nice and arty in skeins doesn’t it? It was tempting to leave them as they are until I need them but even more tempting to play with my new yarn swift again! It was over all too quickly. One tip for anyone trying one out for the first time; it works best if the skein isn’t too taut over the pegs. It is better to have it loosely draped round the square. M made the recycled timber box above and it now holds all the large skeins wound into cakes.

I’ve probably mentioned already that the Wensleydale yarn will probably be made into unisex baby items for the next family addition. It’s so soft and it’s organic so it seems like the ideal use for it. Those are the four small balls at the top of the wool photo, it looks hairy and coarse but it isn’t! The three balls to the front and left are much coarser and I’ve found a bag pattern that I really like which could be made with this quantity. Finally the alpaca/wool mix will have to be a wrap. It’s soft and warm and I just want to wear it!

I’ve also been working on the missing squares for my Last Dance blanket and I managed to join the first two long rows of squares. It’s fiddly and best done on a big table rather than sitting in the floor and moving the whole thing around on a small coffee table (doh!) I’ve only just noticed that the border will be linen stitch which is a current favourite so that’s given me a bit more incentive to get to that stage. I doubt very much whether mine will sit as flat and perfect as some I’ve seen on the internet. I’m not planning on getting the iron out anytime soon either. Life is too short for ironing.

M and I are keen to book some kind of break soon. We’ve got to that awkward stage where the children will probably only be interested if we go somewhere hot with an ocean like bath water. I’d quite like them to see more of the UK, in particular some of the islands like Jersey or Guernsey, the Isle of Wight, or some of the Scottish ones. They don’t seem as enthusiastic about British weather which I suppose is our fault for introducing them to warm seas in the first place!

Home

The beautiful sunshine through the bedroom windows was very brief this morning. I could absolutely tell that there were grey clouds up there as well as sunshine before I even looked. It was that kind of light. Moody. I shall miss those temporary window panels when we eventually get round to ordering blackout strength white blinds. They throw a nice soft light into the room but they are not long or wide enough. Somehow all the overdue jobs seem magnified now that I’m temporarily slowed down with this viral nuisance bug, that’s the printable version of what I’m calling it anyway!

Today J and I were due some serious peace and quiet with the two more outgoing (noisy) members of the family elsewhere for several nights. In fact it became nothing more than a peaceful afternoon following M’s notice of cancellation as he was heading towards the M25. I no longer have the sofa or television to myself but I’m not complaining. M is under strict instructions to speak a little more quietly than usual and make cups of tea very often. He’s doing well with the tea.

I decided to go ahead with the stash busting project despite the number of ends that will need dealing with. I’m winging a baggy jumper much the same as the charcoal grey one I made http://simplenaturalhandmade.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/baking-and-baggy-jumpers.html but this time without a pattern. I’m using a favourite jumper as a guide for sizing. I’ll probably make two T shaped panels this time and then taper the sleeves with a sort of cuff once it’s sewn up. Like I said, I’m winging it.

The grey jumper is much thicker and warmer but this stash busting version uses dk which will give it better drape. It’s already feeling lovely and squishy, helped along by using a hook two sizes bigger than recommended for the average dk yarn. Initially I swatched the linen stitch with just the colourful yarn but it was really just too much colour for my taste. I had doubts about the brightness of this combination but if I hate it I have someone in mind who will probably like it, if only for music festivals this summer. Talking of which, oh boy are there some fabulous vintage crochet cardigan patterns out there! I’m just hoping E will be willing to embrace the hippy festival look. Last year she was wet and cold and very glad of a £5 Oxfam wool fisherman’s jumper even if it did pong a bit when it got wet.

My faithful four legged guardian has been by my side all day. I sometimes feel obliged to stay in one place just so that he doesn’t have to pace up and down after me. I’m not the sitting still sort even when I’m ill so he trots back and forth to see where I might settle whilst Harvey, who is the same age as Riley but always seems like a wise old man in comparison, reclines comfortably on a dog bed and only seeks my company when I sit down and get on with some crochet. Proof that dogs (well these two anyway) only listen to the tone of your voice was in my attempt to say ‘walkies’ this morning. The best I could do was a a deep croak and instead of doing their victory dance they just looked at me as if I’d said ‘I’m swapping the two of you for cats!’

Swift

I had the wool well and truly pulled over my eyes on April Fools Day. The cheeky chest infection I thought had gone came back with a vengeance. Turns out it is viral which seems to mean just sitting it out, again. Last week I felt a bit rubbish but managed to mow the jungle of a back garden. Afterwards I felt as though I’d run the Lincoln Half Marathon. Sounded a bit croaky by Friday. Had a duvet day Saturday. Can’t even remember Sunday and today I sound like a sea lion being strangled. I feel like a sea lion being strangled.

No-one wants to hear about this but I can’t help being rather perplexed that it came back. Usually we get things, get better and that’s that for another season at least. The house resembles a small pharmacy and today, after advice from the nurse at the drop in place we added Olbas Oil, Vicks and more painkillers to the supplies. She also suggested ice cream which I was happy enough to try. Shame I didn’t get a sticker too!

I’ve been adding more rows to E’s Hufflepuff scarf. It’s still as boring as it was before but it’s nice yarn to work with and will be done some time before next winter. I had an idea for a new project using up yarn from my dk shelves so I’ve been experimenting with stitches and colours for that. I’m still undecided about whether I’ve hit the right combination and if I have, is it worth the zillion ends that will need weaving in? No, probably not. More design thinking needed.

At some stage last week, with crochet concentration levels low I browsed the internet for a winder that would tackle my small collection of wool in skeins. This yarn swift, stored in my wish list happened to come down in price by £12 and no longer had the dubious question of u.s. postal charges hanging over it, so I decided to give it a go. It arrived in record time and was easy to put together. I’ve never used one before so I didn’t have a clue whether it would be helpful or not but I did think it would be simpler to use than the umbrella type. Wow! It’s absolutely excellent and works even better than M sitting there with the skein draped over his hands! I’ve wound five 100g skeins in no time at all. Two are Jacob’s sheep undyed yarn in light grey and the other three are an alpaca/wool mix in Camel, Mink and Oatmeal. I have a project in mind for the latter but will stick with my wip attack first.

I’m still fascinated with my macro phone camera lens gadget. The daffodil centre above is from one of those white varieties that I rescued from the back garden before mowing. We’ve had quite a good year for snowdrops, daffodils, crocuses and tulips all planted by the previous owners but quite a few get mashed by the dogs. You can see the wiggly path they take in worn down grass when they run from the back door, all the way up through the garden, round the bonfire and to the fields, with an assortment of old slippers and tennis balls left by the fence before they hop over and go exploring. We are very lucky that these two stick to just the first field and always come back. Our big black Labrador/Setter cross was not so good at returning and once or twice came home in the boot of someone’s car. Always a tad embarrassing! Since it was me that introduced M to Springers I always say that it’s because they are more intelligent that they come back but in truth it’s probably pot luck. There are several other Springer’s in the village and their owners frequently have search parties out for them!

So the swift was fun and I highly recommend them. Of course M took one look at it and scoffed at the price of £35 for a few sticks of wood. I suggested he made one and if it turned out well he could sell them on etsy but he muttered something about a day job and a teardrop trailer to build. I know how he feels, so many crochet possibilities and only so many hours in the day. The only other kind of swift I’d like is for this viral thing to move swiftly on!

Scarf

So what did I do on the warmest day of the year so far, a balmy twenty two degrees no less? I finished crocheting a double thickness woollen scarf of course! When M returned from work we had a good laugh about the irony of that and he said he would wear it to work tomorrow no matter what. I’ve since checked the weather and it looks as though this scarf will have to be carefully packed away in his chest of drawers for next winter, or perhaps chilly evenings when we start camping again, even with a snug and warm caravan M likes to sit out under the stars until it’s time to sleep.

I can’t wait until our teardrop trailer is ready to roll. The caravan is great for a week or longer holidays but it’s big and we have to carefully consider where to take it. M used to favour an awning the size of a house with its millions of poles and the need for four strong men to put it up if there was a slight breeze. I talked him into buying a quick porch awning which is like a tunnel tent and takes ten minutes to put up and another ten minutes for M to meticulously bang all the pegs in to anchor it. Even so we sometimes find that caravanning is quite a bit of work. One day we will trade the caravan in for a small campervan but in the meantime the teardrop trailer will give us the facilities we need for day and weekend trips. It fits nicely with my view that the simplest days out are the best ones and for that a simple stove, moka pot and tin mugs are top of the list. I have visions of long walks on the beach, coffee, a picnic lunch and afternoon naps or reading with the sea breeze wafting through the teardrop.

E took her class on a school outing today that involved a trek, a campfire and a bulk buy of sausages. With a dirt smudged face and huge smile, one little boy announced it was the best day of his life! Isn’t that just wonderful? At six years old with not a single iPad in sight he really did ‘get it’. I had days like that when I was a child and that kind of feeling stayed with me for life. I hope it does for him too.

The dogs drank a generous amount of puddle and ditch water today. It was hot but we had a day or two of torrential rain earlier in the week so there were plenty of opportunities for getting muddy. Harvey in particular understands the benefits of lying down in puddles. That bark photograph was taken without my macro lens, isn’t it something? It’s a very old horse chestnut with lots of big sticky buds just appearing on the branches.

Regardless of the weather I am glad the scarf is finished. It’s a stitch M can wear without it being so obviously a handmade crochet scarf. I feared messing it up with dodgy tassels but I learnt how to do those quickly and easily when I did my first proper weaving so that helped. The grey wool is a similar composition to the patterned yarn and when held next to the grey in the scarf is an almost exact match. It’s yarn I had leftover after a spell of making Toft Menagerie animals a while back. It was good to use that up.

We deliberated on the length and came to the conclusion that M would prefer to wrap it once round, cross the ends over and and then tuck it into his coat or jacket, and because it’s double thickness anyway, it doesn’t really need that extra wrap round the neck. So it’s a tad shorter than your average scarf but it works well for M. We didn’t exactly check the price of this yarn when we bought it in Wales and it turns out it was fairly expensive (£9.60 a ball) but the two balls have made a really warm colourful scarf (M loves bright colours) and it was luxurious to work with. It still didn’t cost as much as the lovely Italian scarf we bought somewhere in Italy which M left at a cricket match never to be seen again. I’m hoping this one lasts longer!