Thursday, 10 April 2014

Crochet Baktus Wrap

I finished my baktus.  Do I like it?  Yes, I do.  I really, really do.

It's super snuggly as a scarf but I'm also thinking of the summer and those long alfresco suppers when the sun has dipped and there's a slight chill in the air.

In fact, I'm making another one in cornflower blue.


The details ...

As I mentioned before, I used this pattern as my guide, three balls of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino in 'apple' and a 5mm hook.  I'm quite a tight crocheter so using a smaller hook wouldn't have resulted in enough drape as the whole thing is worked in double crochet (US single crochet).

I doubled crocheted all around the edge, then gave it a gentle hand wash and a jolly good blocking before adding the simple pink trim.


Friday, 4 April 2014


"It's Spring fever.  That is what the name of it is.  And when you've got it, you want - oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!"

Mark Twain

Thursday, 3 April 2014

This Week

I'm crocheting a baktus scarf/wrap.  At least, I think I am.  I don't actually know what 'baktus' means.  It may be something to do with the fact that it is worked in one strip, from one end to the other, without a centre seam.  It may also be something to do with the fact that it is supposed to take only one ball of yarn to make, in which case I've been disqualified already as I'm just about to start ball number three.

If you search 'baktus' in Ravelry, you'll find lots of examples (mostly knitted) but this is the pattern I'm using as a guide.  Except I'm not using sock yarn but Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino in apple green (adore that colour) and a 5mm hook.  Plus I may have made a few other minor tweaks.  So far, it's just been a lot of double crochet (US single crochet) and very little else but I hope to move on to the edging after tonight.

That is, of course, if nobody minds me removing the remote controls first.  Honestly!  That's exactly how I found my crochet one morning.  No respect!

I've started my cut flower planting in earnest.  I popped a few packets of bulbs in my trolley when I went shopping which have now been planted and I have placed a teeny order for a selection of seedlings which should be delivered in a week or two.  Thank you so much for your cat deterrent advice - Comberspud, I laughed out loud at your lion poo suggestion!  I found some cat pepper at a local hardware shop which, so far, seems to be working magnificently!

I had a lovely Mothers' Day on Sunday.  I say lovely, it was pretty low-key but the bickering was minimal which was definitely a treat.  Blondie Daughter wrote me a beautiful poem inside a handmade card and Blondie Son presented me with a bunch of flowers.  They're already looking a little tired but I'm going to squeeze every minute out of them - one day soon it won't be me he's buying flowers for.  Sad face.

I've hauled my little case of spring/summer shoes down from the top of the wardrobe and am officially in 'shoe transition' phase.  My winter boots haven't been put away yet; they're still in easy reach but so now are my pretty slip-ons.  I don't have lots of shoes but, without fail, I forget what I do have and opening the case is always a little bit like a shoe-Christmas!  It's quite hard knowing what to wear at this time of year.  Would you believe I was gardening in a vest top at the weekend?  I'm chuffing freezing today.


Wednesday, 19 March 2014

I'd Rather Have Flowers On My Table ...

I was lucky enough to win the most fabulous book in a recent giveaway hosted by Debbie on her blog, Serendipity Patch, called The Cut Flower Patch by Louise Curley.  I don't own many garden-related books and don't profess to be very green-fingered at all but I do love flowers.  I love them in the garden and love them just as much in my home.  I feel slightly bereft if I don't have a pretty posy on my kitchen table, mantelpiece or bedside table.  (Debbie reviews the book on her blog here.  While you're there, do take a few minutes to check out her crochet, it's just gorgeous.  Her spring flower blanket is in my top ten favourite blankets of all time!)

Well, this book has completely inspired me.

Did you know that approximately 80 per cent of the flowers available to buy in the UK are imported and may have travelled up to 25,000 kilometres by the time they reach our homes?  I might be being naive but that strikes me as crazy given that we live in such a green and pleasant land.

I only have a smallish south-facing town garden but I have resolved to grow as many cut flowers as I can this year.  I've made the most of the recent glorious weather and cleared a bed and several pots in readiness.  (Any tips on how to deter next door's cat from pooping in the freshly dug soil will be extremely welcome!  Bertie is more interested in sunbathing than patrolling his territory.)

I hadn't also realised how many of my existing plants can be cut and brought inside, starting very soon with my viburnum and crab apple blossom.  (Look at the colour of that sky.)

Of course, I have been trimming my lilac and using the branches for my Easter Tree, for a few years now.  Last year's.  The year before.  This year's are now in situ, all ready for decorating.

Meanwhile in the garden, I couldn't resist a bit of instant colour so I bought an armful of inexpensive polyanthus plants.

Gosh I love spring.


Friday, 7 March 2014

Something Amazing Has Happened

My 12 year old daughter has asked me to crochet her a lap blanket.

To date she has shunned every offer of something handmade.  Well, that's not quite true.  I managed to coerce her into letting me crochet her a cowl last Autumn.  I got as far as buying the wool but she ended up pooh-poohing all of my suggestions and then changed her mind.  Apparently it's not so cool to adorn yourself with something your Mum has made.

I've stood quietly by while she has oohed and aahed over very ordinary high street knits.  Her favourite winter accessories have been her grey slouchy hat and matching cowl from Zara.  If you peek in her room, it's a nasty One Direction throw that you'll see, lying across the end of her bed.  It crackles with static if you so much as look at it.  How I loathe that thing.  (It would have met an 'accidental' end by now had it not been a present from her brother.)

I wish I could have crocheted when they were both too little to have an opinion.  It must feel amazing to swaddle your baby in a blanket you have lovingly made yourself.

Anyway, this turn of events has delighted me, to say the least.

It started with her being uncharacteristically complimentary about my Spring Stripe blanket.  (My children normally refer to my crochet as "one of Mum's quirks".)  When she actually asked me if I'd make one just for her, I nearly fell off my chair.

She's drawn a picture of what she'd like (stripes again but that suits me - you know how I adore my stripes) and we've ordered the yarn.  There's no going back now.

I love crochet.  I love the whole process from start to finish.  But to actually crochet something specially for my girl which, you never know, could last longer than I do?  That is me loving crochet and some.

Have a glorious weekend.


Wednesday, 26 February 2014

My Nothing Hour

When I'm at home, I have a tendency to mooch between 2pm and 3pm.  It's my 'nothing hour' where I am at my least productive.  After a busy morning and then a quick lunch, all my 'get up and go' suddenly gets up and goes.  I suppose I'm also clock watching until the school run.

I wonder if it's a seasonal thing or the natural ebb and flow of daily energy levels?

Do you have a 'nothing hour'?

Today at 2pm, I decided to pick up my camera and set myself the challenge of finding six things to share with you.  Six simple things that are giving me pleasure today.  First outside …

Number 1.  Aah, my wonderful Hellebores.  I have a large tumble of them this year.  Without fail, they're the first plant to flower in the garden and they seem to thrive on neglect.  Quite camera shy though with their pretty downturned faces.

That's better.

This is the first year I've not picked any.  They seem to pop their clogs within 24 hours if I take them inside.

Number 2 is my spring bulbs.  Green shoots are appearing and my bulbs are all sprouting.  I am a great one for popping bulbs here and there, in random places, at random times of the year.  It's always a nice surprise when they grow.

I overwintered these mini daffodils in the garage, sort of accidentally, and they're already flowering.

See how this little chap is craning his slender neck to reach the shaft of sunlight.  Sweet.

Number 3 is not very photogenic and keeps steaming up my camera lens but is my homemade chicken stock.  It's been cooking nearly all day and is now cooling on the side in the kitchen.  It's delicious aroma has spread throughout the entire house.  I adore the smell of homemade stock.  We're having a leek and parmesan risotto for supper tonight.

Please bear with me for number 4 but I've opted for a photograph of my ensuite bathroom to represent the housework I've done today.  (Cleaning bathrooms is one of my least favourite chores in the world and I get feelings of both pleasure and self-satisfaction knowing that I don't have to do it again for a little while!)

The pretty shadows on my lounge wall will have to be my number 5.

Oh look.  Yes, that's definitely my number 6 pleasure.  My spring stripes, sitting there, all neatly rolled up, patiently waiting …  See how I'm sticking to my sewing-in-ends-as-I-go resolution too?

After the glimpse in my last post, I completed quite a few more rows but wasn't thrilled with the colours.  Something was bugging me.  It wasn't looking soft enough.  I ended up unravelling it and taking out a strong orangey/coral stripe and, feeling happier, carrying on.  I'm now wondering if that blue/green is jumping out too much?  What about the purple?  Oh poo bags.

I'm over-thinking it now, aren't I?  Let me lie it down on my bed for a better look.

No, that's definitely much better.  Much more springlike.  Hey, look at this photo, wheeeeeeee ...

There.  My six simple pleasures.  As it happens, today's 'nothing hour' turned into a very pleasurable hour indeed.


Friday, 21 February 2014

A Very Welcome Break

It's been half term this week.  While the boys have been whizzing down snow-covered slopes in the French Alps, us girls have been home alone.

It's been a much needed battery recharge.  I think the first couple of months after Christmas are always hard work - it's dark when we get up in the mornings, the weather is cold and grotty, we're lacking Vitamin D, there seems to be a constant barrage of germs to fight off, we're tired, blah blah blah - so I think this has been a very welcome break indeed.

We've had such a lovely time, my girl and me; we've been shopping, we've watched soppy films, we've cleansed our pores and painted our nails, we've been to the hairdressers, spent whole days in our pyjamas and we've eaten our favourite foods.

I've had plenty of delicious opportunity to play in my craft room too.  I seem to have amassed quite a bit of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino over time so it's been promoted to a shelf of it's own, on my bookcase.  Don't those colours make you want to squeak with pleasure?

In fact, all those pretty colours sitting there together, inspired me to start work on some Spring stripes.

I'm getting a lot of wear out of my coral ribbed wrist warmers but can't drive in them without my hands slipping all over the steering wheel.  Do you remember my Posy Cosy?  Well, I've made myself a pair of wristycuffs (see what I did there?!) using the same cross stitched design, in a lovely denim blue Baby Cashmerino.  There's no thumb hole which frees up my hands, perfect for driving.  I'm so thrilled with them.

Oh, and I've sewn a little rose on to some simple M&S slippers.  (Don't tell D, he has a pair of trousers that have been waiting for a button for aaages!)

Since you and I last spoke, D and I celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary.  He bought me some beautiful flowers.  Aren't I lucky?  I had exactly the same pale pink gerberas and roses in my wedding bouquet but, between you and me, *whispers* I think that was more luck than judgement on D's part!

Right, I'm going to make another cup of tea and then spend the rest of the afternoon catching up with what you've been up to.  Aaah, bliss ...

Have a truly lovely weekend, my friends.