6 July 2015

Little Pleasures








Oh how I'm LOVING this glorious weather!  I LOVE that I can get up in the morning, pull on as few clothes as possible, slip on my (new) flip flops (LOVE!) and that's it, done.  No make up, no faffing.  I am in my element!

I LOVE to have my first cup of coffee out in the garden.  I am an early riser and wouldn't miss my first blissful and uninterrupted hour of quiet for the world.  The early morning haze, heavy with promise of yet another beautiful day.

I have an old belfast sink just outside the back door and it's full of lemon-scented geraniums.  If I gently bruise the leaves between my fingers, it releases the most wonderful fragrance.  One of our favourite restaurants in Zakynthos last year had huge great planters full of them all around its perimeter.  If I close my eyes, I LOVE that the smell takes me right back there.

I'm LOVING snipping a few roses for a pretty bedside posy.  The bush is positively laden this year so there is always plenty to spare.

I am LOVING the song I Can Change by Brandon Flowers.  When it comes on the radio, I turn the volume right up and swirl around the kitchen like a loon!

I must tell you about my new toy!  I LOVE it!!!  It's a hand-operated wool winder which I bought from Amazon.  It reminds me of a 1970s Fisher Price toy to look at but my goodness it's fun.  It takes just seconds to wind an entire ball of yarn into the most pleasingly neat little 'cake' and I've even used it to unravel some crochet.  Uh oh, I can feel an addiction coming on!

It's far too warm to crochet with wool at the moment so I'm LOVING working with cotton.  I've always been quite hard to please when it comes to finding a cotton I enjoy crocheting with but I must admit to being quite taken with Rowan's Handknit Cotton.  It's not at all splitty and doesn't feel as coarse or 'stringy' as some.

♥ ♥ ♥

Please never underestimate the value of your own small pleasures, my friends.  Life is fragile and, at times, downright difficult.  Last week, I was so terribly sad to learn that Wink, writer of the beautiful and hugely inspiring crochet blog, A Creative Being, had taken her own life after a battle with depression.  Rightly or wrongly, my own sadness quite quickly turned to frustrated rage and I shared my feelings over on Facebook and Instagram.  I wrote ...

I'm sorry if this offends you or makes you uncomfortable but I'm so incredibly angry and I need to vent. Depression is a nasty, nasty scourge. It claims far too many lives. How dare it? There is still a taboo which surrounds depression which pisses me off. It is NOT a sign of weakness. It is NOT a guilty secret. It is either a chemical imbalance in the brain or a very natural reaction to adverse circumstance. I was diagnosed with clinical depression at the age of 18. It's tried its best to floor me but I'm not having it. There is far too much joy in life and I refuse POINT BLANK to let depression spoil it. I take medication and have done for nearly six years. I am whooping its ass. I have a feeling that creative people are more susceptible so I urge you, with every inch of my being, seek help if you are struggling. You are too beautiful and precious to let depression bring you down. I will be ‪#‎wearingflowersinmyhairforwink‬ and sticking a middle finger up to depression.

This is something I feel very passionate about and so, after some thought, I decided to share on my blog too.  Of course, I don't have all the answers but what I can do is talk quite openly about my own experiences.  If we all do the same, we can banish the ridiculous shame and ignorance that surrounds depression.  And it really is ridiculous if you consider just how many of us are affected.  Life is wonderful.  Please don't let depression fool you into thinking it isn't.

xxx

29 June 2015

Lucy's Place





















Sneaky glimpse of Lucy's Harmony Blanket.  I think it's my favourite of her blankets so far.  It's a beauty!

Thank you to all the lovely ladies at Knit And Natter, Coopers Cafe, for making us feel so welcome.

I got me a Cherry Heart original!!!  My exquisite gift from Sandra.

I thank my lucky stars for this wonderful online community of ours, really I do.  Without it I wouldn't have had the most fab-u-lous couple of days with two gorgeous and incredibly talented bloggy friends, last week.

I met up with Sandra (Cherry Heart) and together we made the journey up north, to beautiful Skipton in North Yorkshire, where a little-known blogger by the name of Lucy (Attic 24) was waiting for us.

I've come home completely inspired, my mind buzzing with ideas, and more than a little bit hoarse I can tell you!  What a total joy it is to spend time and gossip with like-minded souls who really 'get' this part of my life that I love so much.

Sandra and Lucy, you rock!  Big time.

xxx

PS.  Lest you didn't recognise it, the rather drab (!) studio pictured is where Lucy creates her magic!

22 June 2015

Visiting London - Nine Tips





D and Blondie Son were booked to go and see the Foo Fighters at Wembley (or the Kung-Fu Fighters as my Mother In Law calls them) as a post-GCSEs treat, but the event was cancelled so the four of us decided to go to London for the weekend, for a spot of sight-seeing.

It's a funny thing but I seem to revert to being a small child when visiting London.  Half of me is wild-eyed with awe and excitement and the other half is frightened to death that I'll get lost/fall in the Thames/slip under a Tube train.  There are soooooo many people.  It's exactly 100 miles to the centre of London from our front door but it's like another world.

With the benefit of my very recent hindsight, I'd like to offer some tips to anyone considering visiting our capital ...

1.  Wear comfortable shoes.  Pavement-pounding in heeled boots, particularly if you're not terribly used to them, will crucify your calf muscles and render you completely unable to walk the following day.

2.  Take a small bottle of hand sanitiser because, blimey, the place is filthy.

3.  Ensure that there aren't any Anti-Austerity marches planned for the day unless you want to be swept into oblivion by a sea of placard-carrying shouty types.

4.  Don't be tempted to toss a single crust to a single pigeon.  In a matter of seconds, you will be surrounded by a hundred of them.

5.  Forget about your personal space, especially on the Underground.  You WILL be up close and personal with complete strangers and, occasionally, they will not be very fragrant.

6.  There are two walking speeds, breakneck and stop-to-take-a-photo-every-three-seconds.  A leisurely amble will not be accommodated.

7.  Don't always heed the directions of the British Transport Police, they could be new to the job.

8.  Take plenty of money.  Think how much things normally cost and then multiply by ten.

9.  It's the Royal Standard flying over Buckingham Palace that indicates the Queen is in residence and not the Union Jack.  Knowing this will prevent you wasting twenty precious minutes trying to catch a glimpse of her peering through a window.

;-)

xxx

9 June 2015

Stocks And Single Crochet





Ok, ok, I know we in the UK (and I think Australia) know this stitch as 'double crochet' but 'single crochet' afforded me the opportunity of a pleasingly alliterative blog post title.  While we're on the subject, I have to admit that I think the term 'single crochet' makes much more sense.  Double indicates two singles, implying that there is a single, and in UK terminology there simply isn't.  To that end, why we can't all use the same terminology baffles me.  It makes pattern reading and writing so very complicated.  Anyway, I'm glad I can chat to you about these things …!

I'm making another baktus wrap.  I love the last one I made but it's just a little on the small side.  Perfect as a jaunty accessory where a jaunty accessory is required but it doesn't rate very highly on the cosy scale.  No, this one is going to be a fair bit bigger.  And pink.  I'm using the same super simple pattern by Helda Panagary.

My last baktus took three 50g balls of Baby Cashmerino but I'm aiming for four or five balls of Drops Extra Fine Merino this time.  I shall also add a proper border to this one.  I'm not sure exactly what type at this stage, I have a few ideas, but it's more than likely to include that beautiful coral.  I adore the combination of the two colours.

Working on this has really reminded me just how much I love the humble double crochet (US single) stitch.  Poor much-maligned little double crochet.  Towered over by its big brothers, treble and double treble, and often considered functional rather than beautiful.

Well, no more!  Let's hear it for double crochet I say!  It creates the most perfect fabric canvas.  It's wonderfully tactile.  And the neatness?  Oh yes.  A big fat tick in my perfectionist box.  I'm tempted to pursue this matter further …

As for the stocks - aren't they beautiful?  I have a peculiar relationship with stocks.  I'm always visually attracted to them like a moth to a flame but I'm in two minds as to whether I like their smell.  Sometimes I find it quite pleasant, other times I find it utterly obnoxious.  As I said, peculiar.

xxx

3 June 2015

Sloppy Sunday Cowl





I had a deliciously sloppy day on Sunday.  I stayed in my pyjamas all day and crocheted a cowl.  (I'm nothing if not imaginative when it comes to naming my makes!)

It was so simple and enjoyable to make that I thought I'd share the details with you so that you might have a go at crocheting one too.

Before we begin, let's have a little chat about the stitch used.  I crocheted it using half trebles (or half doubles US) in the third loop/back bump.  I think its grown-up name is camel stitch.  It creates a gorgeous drape and very much appeals to my love of the 'knitted look'.  The reverse is actually just as attractive - almost like a knitted moss stitch.  Sadly, this stitch only works when crocheting in the round. :-(

Instead of working your half trebles (half doubles US) in either/both of the two normal loops, you insert your hook through the loop that sits at the back of the stitch, just underneath.  If you tip your work slightly towards you, you should see it.  Be careful not to miss the first one of each round - it can be slightly more tricky to push your hook through than the rest.


As you progress, it gets easier as the 'normal' two loops are pushed forward and the back loops increasingly offer themselves to you.


***

I used Drops Big Merino (how lovely is that yarn?!) and a 6mm hook.

Chain 100.  Join last and first chain with a slip stitch, taking care not to twist your chain, to create a round.

Chain 2 and work a htr (hdc US) in the same stitch, and then in every stitch in the round.  Slip stitch AROUND the first chain 2 to close your round.  (I think this results in a nice and neat join with no gapes.)


*Chain 2.  Work half trebles (half doubles US) in the third loops, all the way around.  Close the round with a slip stitch around the first chain 2.*

Repeat ** until your cowl is the required height.

To join a new colour, complete your slip stitch at the end of the round and pass a loop of the new colour through the loop on your hook.  Remove hook and place it through the new loop, chain 2 and proceed.


Each colour stripe consisted of five rounds and used approximately half a 50g ball of Drops Big Merino yarn.  I am currently making a second cowl with less colours and anticipate that it will use the best part of four 50g balls in total.

Tada!

Do let me know if I've forgotten to include anything.

If you choose to make your own cowl and you're on Instagram or Facebook, I'd love it if you linked to me or hashtagged your photo (do hash tags work on Facebook?) with 'sloppysunday' so I can pop by and admire your creation.

Happy hooking.

xxx

28 May 2015

Cornwall




















… because when you stop and look around, this life can actually be pretty bloody brilliant.

xxx

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