Friday, 4 July 2014

Toodle Pip For A Bit

Ever so occasionally, someone bursts - or rather, pootles - onto the blog scene and you instantly like the cut of their jib.  Do you know what I mean?  Exactly a year ago, I popped over to thank a new follower, Kate, for a lovely comment she'd left for me.  She'd just published her first crochet post on her own brand new blog, Just Pootling.  One look at that blanket, and the fact she made me laugh, and I was smitten!

Kate held a giveaway to celebrate her first bloggiversary recently and I won!

It was a little like Christmas when the parcel arrived.  I leapt on each item like an excited child.  Look at those gorgeous wash cloths!  And the yarn!  And a Tulip Etimo crochet hook - my favourite!

Thank you again Kate.  I'm so extremely glad you're here in Blogland.

* * *

A Little Happy Place is a fairly new-to-me blog and it's a joy.  Sarah recently published an absolutely super patchwork bag tutorial which I bookmarked instantly - it's one of the best sewing tutorials I've ever come across.  Up for grabs was the actual bag she made.  I was tickled pink to win that too!

Sarah also has a fabulous online fabric shop and the darling girl kindly included a few extras.

* * *

Right-o.  I'm having a bloglet break for a month.  Just to regroup and stuff.  We may squeeze in a beach holiday too!

I'll be back in August.  Pinky promise.

As always, thank you so much for your kindness.  Look after your little selves.


Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Blog Hop And Stuff

I'm late, I'm late ...

When the delightful Sandra from Cherry Heart asked me some time ago if I'd join the Blog Hop, I thought "why not?"  Now that I am actually sitting down in front of my laptop, I've gone a little blank.

You see, we've had a tottering time with relatives over the last couple of weeks or so.  I'm not going to go into detail because I'm sure you have your own troubles but, honestly, it's been one thing after another and I'm worn out.  Sorry to sound a bit downbeat and like I'm making excuses but, hey, I guess we can't all be sparkly all of the time can we?

Anyway, back to the Blog Hop.  I was extremely flattered to be tagged by Sandra.  I admire her hugely and her blog is genuinely one of my all time favourites.  It's not just her wonderful crochet creations (I've told her to insure those magic hands of hers) but her self discipline and generosity of spirit too.  She is one of the most prolific bloggers in Blogland and yet I can't think of one single occasion when she hasn't made time to respond to an email or comment I've left on her blog.  She puts a lot of us bloggers to shame *hangs head*.

I've had quite a few new followers as a result of Sandra's kind words so, to each one of you, a big squeezy hug "hello" and a promise that I'm not always such a grumpalump!

In accordance with the Blog Hop 'rules', I am to answer the following questions:-

What am I working on?

At this very moment, not a lot!  My hook has lain idle for a few days.  I haven't felt emotionally serene enough to crochet which is silly really because we all know that …

(How cool is that badge?  I received it as part of my recent giveaway win from Kate - proper 'thank you' post to follow.)

Waiting patiently in my 'works in progress' basket is my Spring Stripes blanket.

(Oldish photo - it's actually slightly bigger and slightly dustier now!)

I am also part way through making a cross stitch on single crochet cushion.  What can I say?  I absolutely love embellishing crochet with cross stitch and embroidery.

However, (and I'm quite excited about this bit) I haven't been totally idle, I've been pretty busy starting to write my own patterns.  Some are at the sketchy coloured pencil stage and have yet to be properly translated into crochet and some are at the prototype stage, needing just a few tweaks.  I plan to release them towards the end of summer.  I think they're very 'me' so they may or may not be your cup of tea but I'm super proud of them.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Eep!  This question gave me the dithers when I first read it.  I'm finding it quite hard to say something that doesn't sound like I have delusions of grandeur.  I think it's very hard to be different these days - almost everything has been done before.  I suppose I like to think that I've adapted my craft to suit me.  I rarely follow patterns; I crochet the things I visualise, the things I like.

I learnt to crochet four years ago.  This was my first creation.

If I had to cite something that makes me ever so slightly different from the majority of others in my genre, I guess it would have to be the fact that I'm not a granny square crocheter.  I'm not the biggest fan of holey crochet.  Don't hate me!  I much prefer the fluidity and neatness of a 'close knit' look.  Does that make sense?

Why do I create what I do?

Ummmm, because I enjoy it.  As I said before, I get an enormous sense of satisfaction and pleasure when I manage to create something that closely resembles the idea or vision that I originally had in my head.  If I'm being completely honest, I also get a huge thrill when you say nice things about something I've made too!  I'm only human! ;-)

If I've made a scarf and I wear it out shopping and a stranger compliments me on it, to say "I made it" is the best feeling ever!  Priceless.

I also get terribly inspired by you imaginative lot.  Really I do.  Sometimes I feel my head is about to burst with little bits of ideas, each gleaned from a picture here, or a description there.

How does my writing process work?

Sometimes I wish I was a little more structured in my writing process and style.  I should love each post to take you on a cleverly written and thought-provoking journey but sadly I don't think that's my style.

More often than not, I sit down in front of a blank screen and just type.  There is rarely anything planned about the way I write blog posts.  That said, I have to be in the mood.  If I'm not, I simply cannot do it.  I suppose I sort of imagine that you and I are having a cup of coffee and I just chat.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not blasé - I do proof read each post afterwards - I am an unashamed perfectionist and a bit of a spelling and grammar fiend.

Sometimes the pictures come first and I tailor what I write around them and sometimes, like today, the photos have to fit in with the words.  As my love for photography continues to grow and grow, it's invariably the former.

My blog writing process has only one very strict rule and that is to never, ever, ever press 'publish' when I've had a glass of wine! ;-)

There!  That's me.  I do hope I have properly fulfilled my brief and not talked too much twaddle.

Now I am supposed to nominate a couple of other blogs so that you can 'hop over' for a look see.  Having been so preoccupied, I haven't done my preparation homework and prearranged anything with anybody.  Sorry Sandra.  What I will do though is provide links to a few of my favourite blogs I think you might enjoy if you don't know them already.  They are:-

Ladybird Diaries
Mrs Thomasina Tittlemouse
Sew Sweet Violet

Happy hopping my friends!


Sunday, 22 June 2014

Black And White

Black and white.  Light and shade.  Good and bad.  Chaos and calm.

"If we never experience the chill of a dark winter, it is very unlikely that we will ever cherish the warmth of a bright summer's day."
Anthon St Maarten

Today my daughter was an angel.

Today my husband and son seemed to have lost interest in the World Cup.  (Can't think why!)

Today there has been no shouting.

Today there have been no deadlines, no must-dos and no ought-tos.

Today the sun was shining.

Kate, you're so right, it really does take a bad day to make a good day so much sweeter.

Yin and yang.

That's life I guess and what a funny old business it is.


Thursday, 19 June 2014

Pleasures Of The Non-Shouty Kind


I didn't really like yesterday.

My nearly-teenaged daughter treated me in a manner not dissimilar to something you might find on the bottom of your shoe.

"I can't help it, it's my hormones!" she yelled, tossing her hair and flouncing off to her bedroom (probably to Face Time her best friend and regale her with tales of her horrid mother).

"Oh really?  Hormones?  Gosh, how strange, I don't seem to ever have had a problem with mine" I replied sarcastically, my entire body clenched with perimenopausal angst.

Too late, she's gone.

As for the two men in my life?  Well, they seem incapable of talking about anything but football and the bloody World Cup at the moment.

Supper time last night was completely commandeered by talk of who scored what and how many points so-and-so team has.  When I tried to interject about something non-football related, I was shouted at.  Half of me wanted to cry, half of me was tempted to tip the homemade spicy bean burgers and salad over their heads!

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for something that unites the world but this unrelenting hype over men who command outrageous salaries for rushing around on a field now and again and can barely string a sentence together?  Yack.  No thank you.

You know, I didn't speak to a single soul yesterday between 9am and 3pm.  I cooked, cleaned, laundered and gardened.  I love being a SAHM and, yes, it does come with its perks but, now and again, it can border on being the most thankless job known to mankind.


Keen to tip the balance, I decided to console myself with a few pleasures of the non-shouty kind ...

1.  My garden.  It really is looking pretty at the moment.  The anchusa and cornflowers I bought as seedlings from Sarah Raven are growing like billy-o and have already provided me with several large vases full.

2.  Roses on my bedside table.  D bought me a rambler for our 'first kiss anniversary' and it's absolutely covered in blooms and buds.

3.  Beginners knitting lessons.  Yes!  I've signed up for a short course at my local yarn shop, starting in August.  So excited!

4.  New crochet patterns in the making.  Watch this space!

5.  Cheery beach huts; one of my souvenirs from Southwold.

6.  A favourite brooch.  (Bought a number of years ago from this clever lady.)

7.  A loom band bracelet made especially for me by my daughter whilst in one of her friendlier moods.

Well, the England match is on tonight so I'm planning on making myself scarce.  A long bath and some optimistic pinning to my 'If I Ever Learn To Knit' Pinterest board I think!


Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Why Didn't Anyone Tell Me?

Southwold is gorgeous!  I've completely fallen in love with the place.  Don't tell me it isn't always bathed in glorious sunshine because I simply won't believe you!

If you've never been, do please try and go.  I promise you'll love it too.  It feels like a small English seaside town trapped in time.  No nasty, noisy amusement arcades, fun fairs or kiss me quick hats; just charming pastel cottages smothered in fragrant climbing roses, a beautifully clean beach, and of course, those iconic beach huts stretching as far as the eye can see.  (I saw one for sale in an estate agents' window for £40,000!  Hmmmm, I think we had better start saving.)

We pottered around nearby Aldeburgh too which is just as lovely.

Thank you so much for your kind anniversary wishes.  We had the most wonderful weekend and, yes, I've definitely decided to sign up for another 21 years with that man of mine! ;-)


Thursday, 5 June 2014

Checking In

Things have been a little busy around here of late.  Mostly nice things.  The calendar is looking a bit chock-a-block with places to go and things to remember.  My grandmother used to hate empty spaces in her diary.  She'd rather spend the morning with somebody she didn't like than have nothing arranged.  I am exactly the opposite.  I get a little panicky if there is too much going on.  I rely on those empty spaces to catch up on chores and mentally regroup.  My mantra, at the moment, (and said in a slightly shrieky voice) is

"if it's not on the calendar, I won't remember it!"

However, this weekend, D and I are going to Southwold to mark our first kiss anniversary.  He was my boss at the time.  He'd offered me a lift home from work and kindly stopped at my friend Caroline's so I could deliver her birthday present on the way.  When we finally arrived at my house, he turned off the car engine and turned around to face me.  He told me that he "couldn't eat, couldn't sleep and couldn't concentrate on anything" for thinking about me.  Then he kissed me.  I'd wanted him to for so long that I nearly passed out.  I think I forgot to breathe.  That was twenty one years ago.  Soppy buggers, aren't we?  I haven't been to Southwold before and am so looking forward to it.

Poo.  I think my stocks are going over.  They're smelling a bit ripe.  They're still so pretty though, I can put up with a slight pong for a while.

Anyway, I wanted to check in with you, it having been a wee while since last time.  Thank you so much for being here.  I know I err on the side of pants when it comes to answering comments.  Please do take it as a given that I read and appreciate every single one.  I do try and respond to any questions you might ask but the odd one does slip through the net.  Sorry about that.  :-(

I'll be back in a few days to tell you about my weekend (well, perhaps not all about it) so, until then …

Toodle pip you lush lot.


Monday, 26 May 2014

Miss Piggy Ponchette

Sadly, I'm too clumsy for a shawl.  Far too likely to catch it on door handles, dangle it in my soup or flick people in the eyes as I flap it around.  No, I'm much better with something a little less flouncy.

Slouchy, yes.  I love slouchy.  But not flouncy.

My Miss Piggy Ponchette is a deliciously simple project.  It's basically a large rectangle which is double (single US) crocheted together.

The science bit … I started with a chain of 60 (plus 2 to turn) and half treble (half double US) crocheted row after row until it measured approximately 120cm, which I think, in my case, was about 140 rows, using a 5mm hook.  I used Sublime Baby Cashmere Merino Silk dk in shade number 001, Piglet.  It took four balls.

You could of course use any stitch/combination of stitches you like, edge it, decorate it with buttons, thread a ribbon … I won't go on, you're a crafty bunch of sausages and will have ideas I've not even thought of.


PS.  I have promised my daughter that I will credit her with the photographs in this post.  It's true, she did take them (for the princely sum of £2.00 and not without a large helping of mortification regarding my visible bra strap).  *sigh*