Challenge

In the interests of trying new things… today a photo challenge and a new app. I’m always late to the party with these linking things but Hawthorn ( hhttp://livelovecraftme.blogspot.co.uk/ ) has drawn me in with the promise ‘if I can do it so can you!’ So, the above photo collage was done with ‘Pic Collage’, an app I’ve had on my iPad for a while but haven’t done much with. It was very simple to use. From top to bottom, left to right…

Flowers. Experimenting with my new phone camera macro lens. A viola? A mini pansy anyway.

Baking. Always bread. Eaten fresh from the bread maker (yes I know that’s not proper baking but it’s as close as I’ll get!)

Reading. Gritty new novels or old classics. I’m not fussy.

Comfortable. This dog invented the word.

Favourite colour. Blue, any shade, anywhere, anything.

Candles. Every day. Pine, sandalwood, fresh linen.

Hat. Ella loves this one I crocheted for her. I need one myself!

Walk. Easily done without dogs, but extremely amusing with them. Springers; why walk when you can bounce?

Favourite mug: so many pottery mugs to choose from my growing collection, but this seventies one is current favourite, it holds a lot of coffee!

Own choice: How I’d like my Mothers Day breakfast tray to look tomorrow morning! Lots of elements from the photo hunt plus chocolate!

York

I had a pleasant few hours in York yesterday. It’s such a photogenic city but I was on a mission rather than a ‘photo walk’ so I only snapped a few quick shots.  Mission Birkenstock failed unfortunately but I found J a tall, skinny fit sweatshirt which was a coup of sorts. It’s not always easy finding a basic item like this for a skinny 16 year old who happens to be 6’3. He likes them to fit like a glove, have enough sleeve length, no loud colours, no big slogans. Thank you Superdry for ticking all those boxes! He doesn’t have much non school clothing but what he does have he’s very fussy about.

I found E some nice things too. York was very geared up for Mothers Day and shops/gifts for women. After that I wandered up a road I hadn’t discovered before (in search of a quiet spot for coffee) and happened upon a yarn/craft shop called The York Makery. I managed to resist all yarn (how?) but treated myself to a new mug. I love how the shopping trip totally tells the story of my life, gifts galore for the children and a mug for me! The truth is I’m happy with my mug and don’t want for much these days. I’m even thinking of needle felt patching the parts that Riley chewed on my Birkenstocks. Make do and mend! They are only worn indoors after all.

Wilbur the Whale got sewn up, in bed, quite late, in place of bedtime reading. I gauged reactions the next morning and no-one got that excited about him. One child, who shall remain nameless, thought he’d make a better cushion than a toy. The other was more appreciative of the colours I’d chosen at least! I think he turned out better than expected and is a cheery addition to the top of my wool cabinets for now. He’s no longer a wip which is a good feeling and I’ve dug out the next project that got shelved for similarly daft reasons.

This small baby pram blanket was started quite a while ago. I think I was aiming to use up some basic stylecraft yarn that I had lying about. The reason I stopped working on this project was because it was clear I hadn’t paid enough attention to how far each colour would go. The blue has indeed run out and the scrap of pale blue I’ve dug out probably won’t go very far at all. It is also a tiny shade different. The perfectionist in me doesn’t like that, but now, with the benefit of distancing myself from it for a while I think it’ll make a perfectly nice blanket regardless and the blue is as close a match as I’d ever get not knowing for sure what brand it was in the first place. There is definitely enough yarn to complete a simple border too. I reckon this one could be done and dusted with the help of just two good Netflix films!
Good food to be had at Bill’s, 12 Coney Street.

Good coffee to be had at the Coffee Bike located in The Shambles. https://coffee-bike.com/

The York Makery is at 36 Gillygate.

Diversion

It is very much still sick city here. It feels very much like those hammering benches you can get for toddlers… each of us pops up and is functioning only to be whacked with the sick bug hammer. Currently we are about two down and two functioning. M has managed work, small bursts of DIY (despite me suggesting it can wait) and he is currently out doing the weekly food shop. He refuses to use the various delivery services because he’s convinced they pick rubbish best before dates and overripe fruit. Quite frankly I could live with that right now! E has also managed not to miss work.

J is on his third course of antibiotics, he’s had a chest x ray which elicited an ‘oh wow’ remark from the radiographer but of course we aren’t privy to what that might mean until the results are posted, yes posted to our gp, what happened to electronic transfer? J has never really been this unwell before so he has no idea how to listen to his body. He insisted on being allowed to do sport on his return to school and five minutes into an inter schools football match he realised he wasn’t going to be much use. He wasn’t in a good state when he got home hence the return to our doctor and more treatment. He’s now signed off all further sporting activity until this thing is well and truly over.

Meanwhile I am not well at all and frustrated not to be out and about with my four legged boys. At least one of them is protectively by my side, you can guess which one. He was most concerned yesterday when I really didn’t leave my bed much all day. At some stage I decided to watch The Hunt, a Danish drama on iPlayer at the moment. It certainly did nothing for my tissue supply and should have come with a warning to Springer Spaniel lovers! Good grief! All I can say is that I hope the dog was just a blooming good actor (or an extremely convincing dummy).

I’ve managed to do some wool winding at least. I tackled my Aran weight supplies and found that it’s so much easier to pick a random selection of colours when they are all in similar sized cakes. I’m not even sure whether these colours technically work but they looked ok together at the time of winding. Although the two boxes of wips are kind of on my mind and have yet to be dealt with it also seemed like a good idea to start a new wip! I’m sure I have mundane stuff already on the go but this was handy and nearby and I was off the starting block before I could even imagine anyone would kill off a cute Springer in a Danish drama! I know it’s only tv but honestly.

The new wip will eventually, in about a metre’s time be a double loop cowl. I’m using forked half trebles which are made over two stitches starting in the last stitch of the one made before. I’ll do the link info next time I post about this cowl. I’m still living in hope that the next iOS update will mean I get my bookmarks functioning again, without them I keep having to rely on google to find everything. There is something nice about the way the stitch creates a nice thick bumpy row without having to use back loops. I may try this out for a hat sometime too, now that I’ve wound a few aran 400g balls into 100g balls they seem more ‘approachable’! 😆

M had to manage a trip to B&Q solo yesterday! To be honest if I never go again it will be too soon. He was very thoughtful and brought me back a lovely coffee and a mysterious object wrapped in newspaper. It turned out to be the little piece of pottery pictured above. What do you reckon? For candles or incense or flowers? I’m never sure. It was one of those occasions where he dropped off all the charity bags we’d filled and swapped our junk for more junk, but this is the kind of junk he knew I’d like.

I’m not missing any fantastic Spring like weather at least. It’s been dull and overcast with drizzle all day so far. I’ve found another Danish drama on iPlayer and I think I’m prepared to give them another chance despite the trauma of witnessing dead dogs of a certain breed. The cowl will no doubt be done and dusted by the end of it and then I will dutifully return to M’s scarf. Just a small diversion!

Storage


While we were away in Wales (an awful lot of W’s in that sentence so far!) Mum stayed with J just to make sure he was still on the road to recovery and not about to start a two day diet of chocolate flavoured cereal and jelly (I seem to lose the battle Weetos versus Weetabix every time). Although it’s not every day your daughter whacks a load of old wood up for a feature wall in the main bedroom (makes me laugh out loud!) Mum actually has a great eye for interior design and is often ahead of the trends. She took the two bedroom photos above and messaged them to me with enthusiastic approval, which reminded me that I haven’t really done a bedroom makeover post yet.

The room is far from finished. M has man diy to complete, like wiring in the new ceiling light fittings. We are changing them from white plastic cord to braided fabric cord and then having big old fashioned bulbs with cage shades. I can just see my Grandfather’s face now… he’d be wondering where the fabric for the shade had got to! It does indeed look like a bare shade but they are architectural and I like them!

The wardrobes are built and functioning but need doors and a whitewash. Skirting boards have yet to be painted. We’ve taken delivery of a new kingsize mattress but it is sitting on the old super king base until M builds a new one. We’ve yet to choose blinds for the two windows. I’m still looking for something arty for above the bed. It feels like we have worked solidly on this room since January and should be finished by now. To be fair though it was a huge task. It was major work getting nasty seventies wallpaper off with the steamer. There was a pale blue layer, a peach layer and a magnolia layer, whoever lived here before just kept wallpapering over the last layer!

It is totally mood changing when you finally achieve home decor by choice. I realise now that a lot of my not so happy days spent here were a lot to do with the awful stuff I had to live with and lack of space until we had both time and money to sort it out. We gave the children’s rooms priority at first and both involved structural work, after that we knocked the kitchen through to the old L shaped dining room so that was a major undertaking. Our bedroom has been the last room to be tackled and then it’ll be back to the beginning with fresh paint in the dining room and maybe a re-think so that it can be a part time craft space too.

Somehow, and I’m still wondering how, I managed to persuade M to go to IKEA yesterday! We are both now going down with what Jake has been so ill with, hacking coughs, hot but with the shivers. We dosed up with max flu strength stuff and of course M moaned and moaned. He was mainly concerned that I wasn’t patient enough to wait for him to build a yarn storage solution. Once I had explained that there’s only so much rustic wood you can foist on one room and offered up metal as a new material that wouldn’t compete with the rustic wardrobes, floor, bed frame and wall, then he finally saw the purpose of at least going to have a look at the cabinets I had in mind.

He cheered up considerably once we had a cuddly toy, a plant and candles for E in the trolley and a rug for J (yes E is 19 now but has a soft spot for Ikea cuddly toys). That was clearly his priority, to make sure the children had ‘gifts’. He cheered up even more when we paid for round one and with the receipt won a £5 voucher to spend in the food hall. The cashier explained that you could win absolutely anything in store from a donut to a 3-piece suite. He would not have been very gracious if it had been a donut but he did howl with laughter when he overheard a man with a broad Yorkshire accent say, ‘it’s a bloody donut, all this way and we’ve won a bloody donut!’ He wasn’t going without it though, he told his wife, ‘you get t’donut and I’ll get t’car!’

So, we bought two of these metal cabinets. They don’t seem to have a name but they are from the PS range. They are very sturdy for only £55 each and they didn’t require an Allen key to put together! It’s given me six deep and wide shelves to fill with yarn. So that’ll be variagated dk, plain dk, Aran, chunky, superchunky and miscellaneous bits and bobs like my weighing scales for yarn, needles, hooks, blah blah. I’ve made a start with winding all of my variegated dk into yarn cakes with my wool  winder. It seemed like a good idea at the time but boy is my arm aching already! Luckily quite a bit of my yarn is already wound so I will do a bit each day. I’m surprised that the contents of my first plastic box haven’t completely filled this first shelf. I’ve tossed all the small leftovers and coarser yarn into the round basket for weaving. I’ll have a bit more choice of colour when I do my next piece.

I’m quite glad that the new bedroom layout wouldn’t accommodate my old yarn cupboard with its stacks of plastic boxes inside. It was a faff when I wanted a box at the bottom of the pile and it was so easy to forget what I had even though the boxes were mainly clear. I feel that this new system, although open to the elements (we don’t seem to get many moths but I will look into deterrents) will be so much more conducive to creativity and using stuff up!

M will feel useful once more when I tell him I’d like a scaffold plank shelf or two above my new cabinets. It might be another six months or a year before we go to Ikea again though! Feng shui wise it is probably saying ‘it’s you, me and the yarn in this marriage’ when you’ve got your entire yarn stash in the bedroom. However, with my little bureau, music and a comfy chair, it’s a happy space to work in now. Harvey and Riley might just be allowed in to snooze on the rug too!

Random

A random selection of photographs today. One uber cool t shirt for my little niece. Bunny was one of the buzz words over Christmas and although she’s probably moved on linguistically since then who can resist a bunny with a red nose and heart shades? Not me. In aid of Red Nose Day too so it’s a win win.

Secondly, the state of my favourite Birkenstocks. Aarggghh! I knew it was a mistake to gift the dogs an old slipper each, now they think that all footwear is up for grabs. I’ve had these for years and I think they would have lasted quite a bit longer had they not been helped along by the adorable, but mischievous Riley. E said just recently, ‘I’ve never known a dog with so much personality’. Just a little bit too much personality for my liking! M, ever helpful, told Riley he’d be docking £50 from his pocket money. So helpful.

Love my little camping pan even more now that I realise it’s a left or right handed pourer. Pretty darn handy since M is left handed and I am right handed. If it wasn’t gale force wind here today we could have brewed hot coffee using our Kelly kettle in a little tucked away woodland walk spot we found last year. We drove around for quite a while (I made M drive around for quite a while) before we found a quiet spot with a space for the car, a woodland walk for the dogs and even a big old fallen tree trunk to sit on. All for the sake of trying out the new gadget. Coffee definitely tastes better when you’re sitting on a rotten log in the middle of a forest in my opinion!

Finally, an update on my weaving progress. I’m still making it up as I go along and it’s supposed to be abstract despite each family member in turn asking if it’s a mountain, or a temple or a pyramid. No, I say patiently, it’s abstract. I’m annoyed that the sides are gathering inwards. It’s not because I’m weaving too tightly, it’s because I didn’t set the warps taut enough. Lesson learnt for next time. There are two joining methods on this piece, the ‘mountain’ uses the interlocking method I believe, where the two colours are wrapped on the same warp thread. Forgive my lack of technical jargon. The other random shape uses a front and back warp where the colours meet, I have no idea what that’s called. I must look these things up! I actually prefer the fuzzy look of the interlocking method even though my counting was a bit off. I need to be brave next and dig out some roving or add some more tassels or something. I’m better at symmetry so this is a little outside my comfort zone!

Slow

It’s tricky coming from a family that never sits still, is always on the go, never puts off until tomorrow what can be done today…it means that I feel guilty when I finally slump into a chair at 3 or 4pm (much later if it’s summer with more daylight hours). Today I am consciously trying to take it slowly. In fact I could start a slow Saturday or slow Sunday trend in this household, except it’ll be me that struggles with that concept.

M is more of a ‘let’s do it tomorrow’ type and frustratingly tomorrow never comes. Though lately I’ve been amazed at his sudden burst of energetic decorating and to be fair, he has done the lion’s share of the painting. It’s taken ten long years but I think he’s finally coming round to my taste in home decor! Less is more.

I’ve been rummaging through my yarn supplies again and came across these Jacobs skeins that I bought last time we spent a few days in a shepherds hut, somewhere in the Dales. The smell is divine. I’ve no idea what to make with them but I’m determined to find something. Browsing for inspiration is almost as enjoyable as actually crocheting and ideal for slow weekend activity.

I purchased the first issue of Koel magazine recently. The second has since been published. It’s definitely my kind of magazine; crochet, interiors, macrame, embroidery, weaving, travel. I’ve written before about macrame and how grateful I am to the home economics teacher who kicked me out of sewing classes and gave me a large cone of string and a ‘how to’ book. I’d rather macrame than sew any day of the week. 

There’s also rug making inspiration. I have all the tools and some supplies, it’s just finding time to squeeze it in between crochet sessions. A big sort out of my craft cupboard resulted in pulling together all relevant supplies and storing them in a separate box. I’m now much more likely to get started with a small rug project. The frog latch hook cushion front belongs to E, purchased when she was about nine (ten years ago!) It’s so close to being finished and it’ll be a nice easy reminder of how to work the latch hook. I really don’t fancy turning it into a cushion after that but I know someone who might 😉. I can’t be sure whether Riley just liked the soft furry surface or whether he was casually eyeing up the wooden tool handle as a potential chewing item!

J is alternating between homework and Xbox today. Nothing new there. M opened his bedroom door this morning and said, in a raised voice, ‘I’m totally done with you now boy! How dare you!’ J looked a bit bewildered. M went on, ‘How dare you grow up. Now that you’re sixteen I can’t get free coffee at IKEA with a family card, so you can jolly well leave home and we’ll adopt a new child!’ J just shrugged in true J style and said, ‘yep, fair enough!’

E emailed me the ‘homework’ that one of her class gave her on Friday. On the front it says My Homework because she wanted to give E something but was too embarrrassed for it to just be a picture. Apparently E is ‘the best teecher in the hole wild world!‘ Clearly not if their spelling and grammar is that atrocious! It did bring a lump to E’s throat though. She’ll be very emotional when her year there is up. Lately I think she’s been quite thankful she has a creative Mum and therefore has all sorts of valuable craft knowledge. She’s finding it helps enormously with the age group she is teaching, which is key stage one. It also helps divert a major crisis when a six year old comes to you with a broken off plastic gem from a hair slide that she only made the night before. E knew that it was a glue gun or nothing solution so she did a swift repair in her lunch break and was told, ‘you’ve just totally saved my life Miss’.

Wips

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

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

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

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

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

Weekending


When I was a student, many moons ago, I remember learning a great deal from a German flat mate. She was everything I wasn’t; world wise, political, a city girl. Our third flat mate was an Irish chap who was great fun and could charm anyone to do anything for him. However, we did manage to drag him along to a supermarket one day to buy some joint household provisions. We had a pale blue bathroom and as he reached for the pale blue toilet roll our German flat mate launched into a soap box rant about recycling. It took me a minute to catch on that this tinted toilet roll was a BAD thing and we were both completely educated on this matter and a host of other recycling matters. I’ve been a dutiful recycler ever since.

This all came back to me this morning as I was wondering how long it would take to learn to make a pretty leaf pattern in the milk froth of my coffee! My flat mate would most definitely have disapproved and told me that there are more important things in life. Goodness only knows what she’d make of the courgettii E and I had last night! While E is rubbing shoulders with a number of female teachers she’s coming home with all sorts of random health food ideas to try. Courgettii gets the thumbs up from us, we had it with a tomato based pasta sauce and shredded chicken. It was great.

It’s a good job I have made some progress with the pixie hats and leg warmers. The twins were born yesterday! They were due in February but they decided to come early. Quite impressive birth weights all things considered. No worrying early baby problems. I think it might be a while before these newborn hats actually fit. I’ve cast on for the first set of leg warmers. Does anyone want to confess to having a pair in the eighties? OK then, I will. I certainly didn’t wear them whilst doing a Jane Fonda style work out. I don’t recall ever wearing them in public but I did want to be part of the fad and wore them around the house trying to feel like one of the Fame students! I absolutely loathe dancing so goodness knows what I was thinking! They were cosy and warm though!

Plans

I can remember way back in my teens writing serious lists of new year resolutions. What a laugh they were. More than likely most involved making more of an effort to keep my bedroom tidy and going for long runs. I was always very sporty, hockey, netball, athletics, golf, squash and badminton. Some of those activities required lots of hours of dedication per week and I must have been extremely fit. Yet somehow I always felt that I wasn’t fit at all due to the simple fact that I’m a lousy long distance runner. I competed in 100m and 200m sprint races but never 1500m. I once even roped my brother in to try and build up my ability to jog round the neighbourhood but that didn’t work either.

Many years later and my resolutions, or rather thoughts, for the coming year don’t involve running but I am hoping that my knee will cooperate with longer walks. Before tearing the cartilage in my knee I felt I had a good balance between walking and the more sedentary activity of crochet. I need to restore that balance, both are good for the soul!

Last year I spent a little time putting together a mood board to keep me focussed on the kind of woolly projects I really wanted to make. It’s so easy to get distracted by what is popular online. A fair amount of distraction did happen and there a a few wips to finish off but on the whole it was a productive year. I’ve given away or otherwise used up a lot of the yarn that only served to introduce me to the basics of knitting, I’ve also donated yarn that I will never get round to using and I’ve become really quite discerning about buying new supplies. My stash is pretty much under control at long last! I think I’ve been writing about that for at least two years.

In fact I almost reached for the remaining dk stylecraft in tasteful natural shades to make a crochet animal when I remembered that I had some nicer Drops dk in 100% wool. This will bring me greater pleasure to work with and look at. Of course I will still be seduced by all kinds of yarns when it comes to variegated colours but they also have projects they are ideal for and also bring joy! My little plastic noses were due to arrive yesterday and didn’t. I’ve checked the dog beds because Riley has a sneaky habit of stealing small packages and burying them under his blankets! He paraded round the kitchen this afternoon with an amazon package containing a phone screen saver, luckily the contents were undamaged.

So my crochet plans are only half baked thoughts at the moment but I do know I’ll be giving projects serious thought before jumping in. This year has taught me that blankets are not really my thing. I still have the Scheepjes patchwork blanket to sew together and a ripple blanket half finished. I enjoy hats, mittens and wristwarmers. I enjoy making characters. I’ve got some yarn waiting to be made into cushions, but I’m happy to go with the flow and see where it takes me.

I’m trying very hard to like Instagram at the moment, because that’s where everyone seems to be. I’m not succeeding. I’m happier with the pace of blogging for now. It is useful to look back and see what we did and what I made, especially as I lost a load of photographs this year by filling up my cloud allowance and not bothering to do anything about it and then changing iPads, doh!  (I’m registered under simplenaturalhandmade72 but I’m not posting very often.)

Bureau


Today was the last whole day with M at home. Appointments, assignments and taxiing children to and fro mean that we probably won’t have another day like this for quite a while. We treated ourselves to a simple breakfast and coffee at one of our favourite local cafe’s. I order the same every time. A gluten free bagel with Philadelphia and a large coffee. I really must cut down on the coffee this year!

It’s inside a small ex chapel and it has the simple rustic decor we like along with touring exhibitions of art or photography. It attracts quite an eclectic bunch of customers. Although it must look like we have nothing to say to each other it’s the one place we give ourselves permission to read the newspapers, do the crosswords and catch up with emails. The rest of the time we do talk, make plans, turn off the iPads.

By late morning M was turning blue outside with his woodwork until I suggested he fetched the firepit and got a roaring fire going with the off cuts. Inside I finally got round to tackling the long overdue task of sorting out my writing bureau. It was a spur of the moment purchase at the end of a furniture action when most other traders had left and I paid the princely sum of £12. I thought I’d give it a good polish and sell it on with my other restored items but E took a fancy to it and stuffed it with all her art materials, notebooks and colouring books (she was 8 years old at the time).

I’ve threatened to chuck out this 70s teak piece of furniture plenty of times on the basis that it wasn’t working hard enough to earn a precious spot in this house. However, it matches the seventies teak sideboard we’ve since acquired in the style that seems quite popular these days, so in it’s decluttered, useful state I’m feeling the bureau love once more! It’ll now be the spot where I sit down with my 52 lists project book and give each list my undivided attention, quite possibly with a small coffee nearby. In fact I’ve since written various entries for list 1: goals and dreams for the year. I didn’t think I’d have many beyond planning some crochet projects and gradually regaining the stamina back in my injured knee. Turns out, amongst other goals and dreams, I want this bedroom to be a warm, cosy, clutter free sanctuary of a room and I want it to be finished by 2018. Woah! That’s news to M, he thought he had at least five years, like the bathroom..what was that? I do believe he just called me a rude name!