Jersey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Shorn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Croc

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stormy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sorting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January

I’m not going to lie, I’m so glad another Christmas is over. I focus on positive thoughts from early December and I try very hard to get into the spirit on Christmas Eve but I just can’t seem to enjoy this particular time of year. It’s not down to one thing, rather a combination of factors I suppose.

I do remember more excitement when my brother and I were really small, particularly in what I think of as our first home (it was for my brother). I can recall feeling very excited on his behalf despite the pressure to say the right thing if either of us were to receive a gift we already had or didn’t like. I’m sure this didn’t happen too often but it must have been a possibility, the range of toys for small children would have been significantly less in the seventies than it is now. My parents coached my brother to say, ‘thank you, that’s just what I wanted’ if either of these scenarios arose. In those days he couldn’t pronounce the letter ‘s’ which was very amusing the year we had snow, I’m guilty of pointing out into our garden through the French windows and asking him repeatedly, ‘what’s that?’ Just to hear him say the word with the s replaced with a sort of nasal puffing sound. So on this Christmas Day not only did he remember to say the practiced line he said, ‘oo, ju’ what I wanted!’ for every single gift much to the amusement and slight embarrassment of my parents I’m sure.

We have smaller family get togethers at Christmas now. Just my parents, my brother and I and our families. The family occasion is lovely in itself but ugh, Christmas. For me it’s how someone once described golf, like a good walk spoiled! There’s the whole commercialism of it which has bothered me for as long as I can remember. There’s the gathering of too many voices in one place for me to be an active participant. There’s the slight chance that tensions will rise over something trivial. On the plus side though my Mother does an amazing Christmas dinner.

The quietest moments occur when everyone goes to the cinema for J’s birthday. Mum, Dad and I stay behind to babysit my niece. She was as good as gold last year although she must have wondered where everyone was. This year with the benefit of language she was even happier to have the three of us as her captive audience. After her nap we decided it was time we became familiar with her favourite film, Frozen. I’m really not a fan of Disney films in general but at least these days they have subtitles and I could see why she likes it. We bought her the Queen Elsa outfit which was extremely well received. At the time of unwrapping it she was wearing a hat and scarf set which she began to frantically pull at whilst gruffly saying, ‘geddit off, geddit off’. She was Queen Elsa in a flash and wouldn’t entertain the idea of her real name thereafter!

I have been slowly sorting out cupboards since Christmas was over. I think it’s an annual routine now whereby every January I throw away all the out of date packets, sauces and spice jars of things M has used once and abandoned. We then discuss the economy of this and he vaguely agrees to only buy the ones he really needs. I have no hope at all that this will ever be the case because he has already made a list of the spices he would like to replace. In his defence though he did make an amazing meal last night that involved marinated chicken, homemade flatbreads and some Greek salad type dishes. I believe they have proper names but they’ve whistled into one ear and out of the other.

We have slowed down on chocolate and biscuits and have talked about making that a more permanent thing. We seem to end up throwing biscuits away unless they are homemade so it makes sense to agree not to buy anymore biscuits. I may have agreed to bake the odd batch now and then. I’m not sure how often that will happen. For me that’s potential crochet, reading or dog walking time.

Talking of which, we have had some lovely frosty walks with the dogs lately. M has been coming along much more often which is lovely but quite painful. If I walk at a normal, fairly brisk pace I don’t have any issues but if I walk as slow as he does I tend to ache a lot more. I have no idea why this is. It’s less than strolling pace for me but it is nice to have company for a change. I do so much solo dog walking. Singing has become a permanent part of our solo expeditions. Harvey runs around like an idiot, jumps over small streams, runs up and down boggy ditches, swims in ice cold rivers and then gets back to the car and suddenly remembers his painful shoulder. He growls. Riley growls back and there’s lots of snarling until I start singing. I make sure the windows are well and truly closed for this. It should be uplifting but it’s quite hard work singing when you’ve just hiked through miles of boggy fields and are a little puffed out. If I happen to pass a car or more likely a farm vehicle I switch to singing in a ventriloquist kind of way lest the farmer think I have lost my marbles.

I’ve been keeping a few random balls of thin unidentified yarn by my side of the sofa and managing to crochet a few snowflakes here and there. Productivity goes up when M has chosen yet another food related programme to watch. I’m blocking them as I go which totally transforms them from a blob into a lovely snowflake. I intend to stop at about twenty which will give me the right number for cards or tags whichever I decide to use them for. Stashing them away and actually being able to find them for next Christmas is another matter. Despite intentions it may well be the only thing I get ahead with when it comes to festive makes.

I read a lovely quote recently and it was too long to remember exactly but in essence it was about not adding things to your mental list but taking away the things you do that are not entirely ‘you’. I love this. The older I get the more I realise just how much life can be devoured by trying to be all things to all people. For me I think the balance isn’t too bad now but when the children reached certain ages and milestones and no longer needed me quite so much I did actually need time to find myself again.

One thing is true though, crochet does keep me sane. My head is all over the place with plans and projects. This sorting mood means I’ve been through the boxes and reacquainted myself with old projects that need to be dealt with before I can justify starting new ones. They are mainly knitting related so I need to frog some and wind the yarn up into neat cakes that will hopefully become crochet projects! I have discovered one and a half socks made in clever self striping yarn and plan to knit a few rows a day to complete the pair. All other knitting will be frogged or given away.

I’ve been thinking a great deal about online time and read a great book recently that inspired me to reduce it a little. I’ll talk about that more in my next post. Right now I have two pairs of amber eyes imploring me to down my iPad, don my wellies and tramp through boggy grass for what they seem to think of as a joyous thing to do. Mad dogs and an English woman.

Ready

I love winter. Autumn was colourful, beautiful even but you know you’re alive when it’s winter. Everything about this half of the year seems to go so quickly and maybe that’s to do with keeping busy. E and J both have December birthdays so it’s imperative to think ahead. J’s birthday a couple of days after Christmas is particularly awkward and if I forget anything it would mean a mad dash on Boxing Day. This year we’ve had to split E’s birthday celebrations over two occasions to suit everyone. Tonight we had a family meal and games much the same as Christmas Day really. E has a razor sharp memory so I held back from reminiscing about her early years lest I get repetitive in my old age.

Earlier today we took the dogs to a slightly wooded place for a walk to try and wear them out for the day. It was fresh and crisp and the winter sun was blinding. A freshly cut tree smelled absolutely divine and further on the smell of decaying leaves under foot was wonderfully earthy. M and I have been here, there and everywhere lately running errands such as dry cleaning M’s suits, fixing small things in the house, posting parcels, shopping little and often for Christmas food. This week however, everything seems under control and so the walk was relaxing, with time to just breathe it all in.

Sure enough M did feel like baking. The scene in the kitchen was more mad scientist’s laboratory than pastry chef but the results were amazing. I really do like gingerbread and it was absolutely superb. We had a standard sized gingerbread man cutter and a tiny one. The larger ones are not pictured because quite a few of them were rudely decorated with boobs. I blame M for suggesting we all chip in with the icing set. Two at least were not obscene and were given Spaniel ears, paws and an ‘H’ and ‘R’ on their chests to represent the dogs. Cute but they got eaten first.

I haven’t found much time for whittling crochet hooks this last week but I did find a small block of balsa in my recently sorted craft cupboard and it’s a lovely soft and easy material to work with after the hard, brittle beech. It would be ideal for tree decorations because it’s light so that’s on my list of things to make well before next Christmas rolls round. If I can tear myself away from crochet long enough I could get quite addicted to balsa carving. It’s easy to lose yourself in the process and the possibilities are endless.

I’ve got a couple of chunky crochet cowls on the go at the moment. Neither is quite right so there may well be some frogging about to take place. Whilst I’m stewing over those and hoping that ‘sleeping on it’ will help I’ve started a small amigurumi that looks a lot like a seal at the moment but will eventually become a bear once he has ears. The flecked brown yarn is so dark I’m having to make him during daylight hours only. I seem to go for long spells between making animals and forget how much I enjoy seeing a little character come to life. Like the llama I’m also changing the look of this one as I go and just hoping he will turn out ok. I watched a good film on Netflix recently called Winter People, based on the book by John Ehle. It’s quite an old film and stars Kurt Russell amongst others. There’s a scene with a bear that’s quite distressing but even in the late eighties which is roughly when it was made, I’m sure they wouldn’t have harmed a real bear in the making of the film.

I really should have made Mr Laid Back Llama look unmistakeable Christmassy. When E arrived home from uni a few days ago she examined him hanging on the tree and said, I think I’ll take him back to uni with me because he will look nice hanging above my desk. Never one to be shy about asking, that’s my girl! We’ve agreed that he has to come home every Christmas though and I’m going to make a Mrs Laid Back Llama to keep him company next year.

There’s been an easy going atmosphere in the house, with only a few snappy moments… some from me when I feel too tired and too incredulous to explain something that I feel should be blindingly obvious. Communication tires me out enormously. Some from M when he immediately assumes the worst case scenario before working through the possibilities, like for instance assuming we will have to purchase a new dishwasher because ‘someone’ has broken the door (it was just a bowl sticking out!) Those silly occasions aside it’s been good to have the four of us in one room watching tv or having a meal together. Even the dogs look well and truly chilled out, especially Harvey who waits on the hard tiled floor in the hall if anyone is missing.

There’s a big pile of brown paper parcels and some cheerful red and glittery ones for a small person. The tree still smells of fresh pine (even though it’s drying out a little). There’s a large supply of fresh coffee to see me through the longest days and there’s crochet in wooden bowls or baskets in several places. I think I’m ready for Christmas.

Countdown

If there’s one good thing about these cold and frosty mornings it is, dare I say it, the fact that a certain substance Riley seems to enjoy rolling in is frozen solid. I’ve had at least a week off showering with the dog. The downside has been defrosting my car each morning which takes quite a while and means Harvey gets to shake with fear in the boot just a bit longer than usual. The lanes we usually drive on to get to our walk are narrow one track lanes and not gritted so it’s been rather icy and treacherous recently. At the risk of losing Harvey again I’ve been using the closer place to leave my jeep on the verge and we head along the riverside path which eventually joins up with our usual route. I do seem to credit them with more intelligence than they actually have sometimes. Not only are these riverbanks quite steep but it’s been minus whatever temperature and I assumed they’d apply seem common sense and not venture in for a swim. I’m not sure what was going through Harvey’s mind when he decided to take a flying leap and dive in. Luckily he still had the use of his limbs when I called him to come out. Riley wisely didn’t fancy a subzero dip.

Riley does enjoy a few home comforts though. I will often, no make that always, find the cushions have been rearranged, usually into a mini mountain with a dog shaped impression on the top. Who can blame him? He’s been a little clingy lately and I think that’s probably due to his recent holidays with J while we’ve had a trip to Sussex and a few others prior to that. He will take any company he can get but I think he likes the routine of having me at home most of the time. Today he paced between the sofa and a spot by my feet under the table. You can see from the sneaky pic I took that his head isn’t resting on the rug and that’s because he was mesmerised by being at eye level with the many birds that were hopping about outside the double doors. The blackbirds have moved in and are finishing off the rotting cooking apples that the water voles have clearly finished with. Tiny wrens perch on the side of bamboo stems. Blue Tits are the greediest with the nut feeders. Robins are everywhere and the bravest when it comes to hopping about right in front of Riley’s nose.

M’s workload has been heavy lately. He’s been all over the country including Kent, London, Norwich, Birmingham. I sometimes gently remind him to keep a day here or there completely clear to recover and there’s nothing he likes more than to go out and have a leisurely coffee with the newspapers and crosswords. This week we managed to combine coffee with occasional bursts of shopping too. It was nothing short of a miracle that we purchased Christmas gifts for nine and Birthday gifts for two without a single heated moment let alone a row.

In a few days time E will be twenty years old which is making me feel positively ancient I can tell you! J will be seventeen this month too. I try hard to live in the here and now and not get too morose about things moving along and changing. It was definitely emotional having one child leave for uni and I can’t imagine how it will feel when they’ve both gone so it’s best to focus on creating good happy family memories of get togethers like Christmas. We also have little E now and judging by some of the videos I’m receiving it’s going to be an entertaining time.

This year I’ve enjoyed the fact that J can reach up and unhook the hatch to the attic without so much as standing on tiptoes. I usually drag a chair under it from the dining room and then climb up with my dodgy knee, then I have to move the chair and pull the ladder down. It’s all so much simpler with J’s help and while I have him out of his man cave I innocently ask him if he could just pop up and find… and this is where it all goes pear shaped because we’ve got cricket bats and pads going back to when he was seven, dolls houses, wooden trucks, playmobil, lego, you name it, it’s up there and somehow all the Christmas decorations have been well and truly buried this year. He managed to find just one box of decorations which thankfully included only the white twinkly tree lights and not the coloured ones that he and M favour. So our decorations are a bit minimalist at the moment but we have a real tree and with lights at least. I snipped one small straggly lower branch of the tree you can see overhanging in the first photo to provide a jug of something festive in the kitchen. I like the simple natural touches and the smell of pine needles.

Somewhere in the attic chaos are last year’s crochet tree decorations, I can’t even remember what they were. It’ll be fun finding those when we get round to decluttering which thankfully M and J have both agreed to help with. I bought a pack of six large baubles with every intention of covering them all. Somehow it just wasn’t holding my attention so I might have to wait six years for the set of six! Making a llama for the tree however, did hold my attention long enough despite the many parts. It was originally a free kit but come with pale blue yarn which didn’t really fit in round here. I dug out some off white merino which has a nice amount of give which I’ve learnt is a good thing for small amigurumi. I tweaked a few things mainly to avoid more fiddly stuff. I gave him a mop of hair using an unwound mini tassel of about six strands. I did a simpler tail by working slip stitch back down a chain of about eight. I almost did another tassel because sometimes their tails go bushy but decided against that. Then finally, when I was getting a bit tired if I’m honest, I made up the whole saddle because I couldn’t be bothered to follow the pattern by then. I left out the harness because I wasn’t keen on all the sequins. I’ve named him Mr Laid Back Llama because that’s how he comes across!

When E was getting things ready for uni way back in September and chatting to J about it they agreed that the most rebellious thing they’d do was buy kitchen roll and surface wipes. Initially I was not impressed that the reason I don’t buy either (I use cut up old shirts instead) was totally lost on them and then I saw the funny side. I guess it’s a bit like religion. I am grateful that none was ever forced upon me and I was able to make my own mind up about it all. Turns out I did this when I was five and decided that bible stories just didn’t add up, although it was years before I dared to say that out loud. When the children were born I also allowed them to come to their own conclusions and I can honestly say, hand on heart that I did keep my own views to myself. All three of us have had the experience of Church of England primary schools which obviously include prayers and hymns. We are unanimous in that we enjoyed the singing at least.

I always feel so unsettled around Christmas time and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s less about the religious aspect and more about the excess of it all. Although I’d dearly love to have a modest small occasion that isn’t too much more than an average day I do manage to simplify things in small ways each year. The gifts, whilst the same budget as usual, are simpler. Obviously I can’t say more than that until after Christmas. I haven’t bought wrapping paper or tags this year. I’ve used brown paper and a large reel of red and white string I bought quite a few years ago now that seems to magically last forever. When I opened my box of tags I was really pleased to find I’d already stamped quite a few with a pine cone design.

Tomorrow E will be home from uni, M will start to think about baking (he always does at this time of year). The dogs will take advantage of anyone offering extra walks. I will be figuring out what crochet project to start next. J will be dreaming up one of his special birthday cards for his big sis, it’s become a thing now and we are all looking forward to seeing what kind of character he will superimpose E’s head onto.

I’m already making plans in my head for next year. Nothing revolutionary. Just more small changes, the type that eventually lead to the one big thing I wanted to change in the first place. The attic is on my mental list, as are crochet plans, travel plans, house plans, even garden ones although I wouldn’t know where to start. Nothing is set in concrete but I like to dream, I like a loose flexible plan and I like to learn from what didn’t get done when it was on a mental list from the year before!

Time

There seems to be quite a lot of woolly goings on here at the moment. Projects are actually getting finished, albeit in random order. I made the Little Red Riding Cape a while ago but only got round to making the apple when the mood struck a few nights ago. I think it was something to do with throwing all my small chunky odds and ends into a new wire basket and spotting a bright red amongst them. Naturally I went I get the book to pose the apple upon a suitable double page spread featuring the apple or apples in LRRH’s basket and lo and behold, discovered that this imposter of a book had substituted the apple for a pie! The book deserves to be shredded but instead I will be donating it to charity so that some pie loving recipient can be found.

I can always rely on Riley’s nose for an indication of how cold it is or is going to be. I’ve got a whole collection of photographs of him tucking his nose inside his blanket or under his paw. I’ve had four previous dogs in my life and none of them ever did this. I must point out that he did not manage to get the crochet blanket over him in the first place, although he does try when he’s having a good old dig around in his wooden bed. He’s had four showers this week due to complete body coverage of fox poo. On one of those mornings it had just turned cold and despite warm towels to dry on and his bed by the radiator he was shivering so I just gave him the nearest blanket. That didn’t seem to be enough so I ended up giving him my warm cardigan too and when that didn’t work I plopped him on the sofa and gave him a cuddle. That finally did the trick, either that or he wanted a cuddle all along.

The morning after the snow excitement (flurries all afternoon but none actually settling) I loaded the dogs into the boot of my car. Harvey wriggles straight to the back of the boot and shivers with fear (he’s always hated car journeys). Riley stands and looks out of the window. They are so used to this routine that they were totally confused when the car didn’t start due to a flat battery and I opened the boot and told them to get out. Riley was the first to reluctantly jump down and Harvey refused point blank. I had to drag him out in the end and he was quite grumpy about it. We had to resort to plan B which involved getting leads and me having my shoulder nearly pulled out of it’s socket by Harvey who has never learnt how to walk nicely on a lead. It also involves a route that we haven’t done for years so Harvey did his own thing and explored all diversions while I patiently (through gritted teeth) waited for him to rejoin us. It didn’t help that the snow was coming across the fields in a horizontal fashion by this time. Apart from my face freezing I was just happy that Riley hadn’t discovered fox shit on this particular route. Happy days.

I’ve finished one big fat oversized scarf for a Christmas gift. It’s humongous, and should keep out even arctic weather. The Bernat is for another, in fact I have two more to make. With these two I’m using the recommended yarn and the gauge has come out correctly using one size bigger than the suggested hook size but a smaller hook than the first scarf so instead of struggling with my only other size 10mm hook which is bamboo I treated myself to a new Clover Amour. It just happened to match one of the yarn colours. I’m slightly annoyed that the yarns are different and that the scarves will feel a bit different, especially as all the recipients will be receiving them in the same place at the same time but I’ve mentally decided to see how the Bernat works out before deciding whether to remake the first one. It sounds a bit picky but I’m liking the way the Bernat is holding its shape slightly better. Probably over-thinking it all!

Still on the theme of keeping warm I was sidetracked by some extra chunky crochet mittens whilst browsing on Instagram and decided one evening to ‘cast on’ for those. It requires two strands of Aran which was a bit fiddly with a slightly blunt size 10mm bamboo hook and I soon lost track of the stitch count (probably due to watching a cheesy Christmas movie at the same time.) I put them aside while we were away in Sussex during the mildest November week and picked them up again when it started to snow here. I’m winging it by trying the mitten on every few rows and it’s working out nicely. It will eventually have an enclosed thumb and a rounded mitten end. The stitch is supposed to look knitted but I’m sure mine looks a lot less knitted than the photos given. It’s still an interesting texture and makes a nice change. I just hope I get round to making the second one. They are incredibly thick and I’ve used a yarn with 63% wool which should be ideal for keeping hands warm.

I don’t really need any more crochet distractions this close to Christmas but having suggested E watch Stranger Things when she was having a day off in the middle of a nasty cold at uni recently, she realised that the recent crochet doll I made her was just like Eleven! I made it while I was watching series two so it may well have been a subconscious thing. Though it could also have been to do with the fact I lived in dungarees when I was a child. Eleven needed a grey sweatshirt to complete the look so I’ve started that as well as the body for a Dustin, who, lets face it, is everyone’s favourite! Since I took this photo I’ve tackled the multi coloured baseball cap and on the third attempt I have cracked it. He just needs hair, legs, one more arm and the rest of his outfit. I’ll be alternating him with chunky scarves.

I cannot believe that December has come round again so quickly. I was full of plans last year to really think my crochet time through and choose projects carefully but as always they kind of jump out at me and happen without too much thinking through. Having said that there have only been a few projects that I’ve not enjoyed, not liked or had to frog completely so it’s been a mainly productive year. I will no doubt be surprised when I put together montages for all of this year’s projects. I will probably always wish I could use up my entire stash and only buy yarn in exact quantities for specific patterns but in reality if I started from scratch tomorrow I know that I’d soon end up with bits and pieces. Yarn just seems to find me! I’ve bought specific yarn quite a few times this year but I’ve also made many more projects with random yarn I already had. Perhaps when I’ve made a few more weavings or some rugs I will manage to use up quite a bit more than just with crochet.

November

Joining in with Hawthorn’s Photo Scavenge Hunt. Thank you for hosting K!

1. Blue. So many blues to choose from so I’ve kept it current and photographed this scarf I’ve just finished for a Christmas present. At least I think it’s blue.

2. Me. Ugh I hate having my photo taken. I don’t actually wear glasses all the time but this was a selfie just to take a photo of the newly finished ‘Unfold’ crochet cowl and I needed to see the camera button!

3. Beginning with W. Weaving. Something I want to do more of but I’ve been giving crochet priority. Weaving certainly goes well with the hobby of crochet because it uses up random odds and ends of any thickness. I throw all the leftovers into a wire basket when they are no longer a useful quantity for anything else.

4. Rainbow. One of the things I’ve learnt about myself since I learnt how to crochet is my inability to cope with a riot of colour! Rainbow colours just don’t do anything for me at all. I seem to be in the minority when it comes to the colourful crochet community. I struggled to find anything amongst existing photographs for this category and then I came across this cake that M and I couldn’t resist when we were spending the afternoon in Chester after one of his work assignments. Imagine the time and patience required to bake such a thing!

5. Arch. A beautiful bridge in Matlock with stone arches.

6. Toy. A toy for future grandchildren is how we justified bringing this vintage look Pooh Bear home with us from Ashdown Forest recently. M is just a big softy really and said he looked lonely in the window!

7. Brush. I love this kind of shop. Useful, beautiful items. This one in Tunbridge Wells seemed to have a brush for every occasion and I regret not buying one of those wooden brushes with the ergonomic mushroom shaped handle for gently brushing clods of mud from the dog’s paws.

8. Swirl. This immediately made me think of coffee. I love it when a barista does an amazing piece of art. So clever. Never works at home!

9. Nail. Well nails plural to be precise here. This is not my hand! I cannot stand to have nail varnish on my finger nails. I’ve been known to add a neutral shade to toes in the summer. I’ve got strong nails that seem to grow quickly and yet I never bother doing anything with them except keep them trimmed. Unfortunately E didn’t inherit this from me and she has much weaker nails but likes to have them looking nice at all times, hence these decorative ones that I don’t even know the technical name for.

10. Own choice. I’ve recently been dabbling in much chunkier yarns than usual and loving the rustic look that thicker wool can create. This undyed yarn is by Rowan and was greatly reduced in a John Lewis sale. It’s absolutely luxurious to work with and feels great against the skin so I’m making a simple cowl for myself. It’ll be perfect for cold and frosty dog walks!

http://livelovecraftme.blogspot.co.uk/2017/11/november-photo-scavenger-hunt-final-one.html