Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Beginners Guide To Crochet - A Blog Hop

I've been asked by my lovely bloggy friend, Sarah of Annaboo's House, to share my crochet story, to celebrate the launch of her fabulous new book, Beginner's Guide To Crochet ...

Crochet wasn't even on my radar before I started blogging.  If asked, I'd probably have said it was something only very old ladies or drippy girls did.  What can I say other than apologise for my extremely ignorant pre-2010 self?

April 2010

I cite two blogs as being responsible for inspiring me to learn to crochet - Do You Mind If I Knit and Attic 24.

Those colours!  It had never crossed my mind that crochet could be used to create something quite so glorious.  Not drippy or old ladyish in the slightest! ;-)

It was Vanessa's Little Squares Scarf that tipped me over the edge and sent me running off to the library for any crochet book I could lay my hands on.

I invested in a ball of raspberry pink Paton's Smoothie and a 4mm aluminium hook and my crochet journey began.  That was at the beginning of 2010.

April 2010

I must admit, it took me a while to get the hang of it.  In fact, I very nearly gave up at one point, deciding that there must be sorcery involved.  I'm a reasonably intelligent girl for goodness sake, why else could I not do it?

I decided to tackle it logically and set about learning one stitch at a time.  I needed to really understand what I was doing rather than just copying the how-to diagrams or other people parrot fashion.  I'd crochet row after row of the same stitch until I was happy.  Comfortable with the hook and happy that I knew what I was doing.  Ish.

It's true what they say, something really does 'click'.  Like an epiphany!

Suddenly I just 'got it' and was completely and utterly hooked.  I thought about crochet and yarn all day (still do) and even used to visualise the stitches in my sleep.  On more than one occasion, I elbowed D in the face whilst performing a particularly tricky crochet manoeuvre!

With hindsight, the first couple of projects I tackled were perhaps a little ambitious.  See that heart at the top of my post?  That was my very first official 'make'.  Followed closely by the above rose.  Gosh, I was so proud of that.

There have been lots of crochet 'fails' ...

Playing 'yarn chicken' and losing!  Crochet 'fail'.

Mixing yarn weights?  Really?  Crochet 'fail'.

In fact, there still are.  That's part of the fun.

I've been looking back at my blog and had a bit of a chuckle over my first account of visiting a yarn shop in 2011 …

To date, I have ordered the majority of my yarn from the internet where I can commit my crochet crimes in safe anonymity.  So, yesterday, it was with a teeny bit of trepidation that I went to buy some yarn in person.  Would there be crochet police around the perimeter, ready to pounce?  Worse, would there be three middle aged women who had 127 years' knitting and crochet experience between them, grilling the shoppers on how they sew in their ends?  Would I be timed on how long it took me to complete a 6" square of treble stitch before being allowed to cross the boundary?

I gradually tackled more complicated projects …

My first ever crocheted 'clothing' - February 2011.  Adored these.  Crochet 'win'.

Ripples 2011!  Crochet 'win'

… and took my hook everywhere!

My biggest crochet fail is probably not finishing things …

Don't mind him, he's 'armless! ;-)

and then the yarn I'm using gets discontinued …

RIP Sublime Striped Blanket :-(

That said, finding my own style and being able to turn the designs in my head into crocheted reality is my hugest 'win'.  Crochet has brought me nothing but joy and I would recommend it to anyone.

I've been lucky enough to receive a copy of Sarah's new book and can honestly say that it's super.  It guides you through everything you need to know when starting out on your crochet adventure.  Beginner's Guide To Crochet is available as both a printed book and an eBook.  Sarah's curated crochet page at Stitch Craft Create is also worth mentioning for all those yarny essentials!

I should like to nominate another lovely and talented bloggy friend of mine, Marianne of Ladybird Diaries, to share her beginner's crochet story ...


Monday, 18 May 2015

Onwards And Upwards

We've put our house up for sale.  I rushed out and bought flowers for nearly every room and, having now given the matter a little thought, I'm not terribly sure why.  Perhaps I subconsciously think they might help with the selling process?  Maybe a viewer will clap eyes on my dark pink and lilac tulips and suddenly feel impelled to put in an offer for the full asking price.  You never know.


Selling our home of 13 years forms part of our new chapter.  I've eluded several times to behind-the-scenes stuff.  I'm not going to go into detail out of respect for the other people involved, but you were so kind with your response to this post that I feel I owe you a brief update.

D and I separated in February, not long after I wrote my post.  He moved out into a rather lovely little flat not too far away.  That afforded me much-needed space to have a think and do a little life re-evaluation.  There have obviously been some very difficult waves to ride since then but we continued to talk and, long story short, have now decided on a way forward.  I so desperately needed changes and we're making them.  The first is selling the house and finding somewhere smaller.  Together.

Downsizing will have a massive knock-on effect on other areas of all our lives, mine especially.  It will give me the time and opportunity to pursue something for me.  Whatever that might be.  There's a way to go but I'm so excited, I can't tell you!

So many of you identified with my situation.  Firstly, I should like to give you a huge empathetic virtual hug and then I should like to remind you that nothing is insurmountable.  If you're not happy, you CAN make changes.  I can't promise it will be pretty or easy but be brave and, my goodness, it will be worth it.  As my daughter says, "YOLO" (you only live once).


Douwe Egberts are selling their coffee in limited edition Orla Kiely designed jars at the moment.  You may well have seen them.

I don't know what came over me but as soon as I spotted the yellow flower print on a friend's Instagram feed, I NEEDED it like a thing possessed!  There are two other designs but it was particularly the sunny yellow one that stopped me in my tracks.  I trawled the local supermarkets and, after beating several old ladies and children out of the way*, finally managed to grab the last one in Asda.  I'm not in the least bit proud of myself.  If ever I pat myself on the back for being a free-thinker, do remind me of this won't you!  I do so love it though.  The coffee is nice too.  ;-)

To counter the stress of keeping the house constantly clean and tidy and to distract myself from wanting to follow the children around with a hoover nozzle**, I've been indulging in a little faffing crafting.  See those glorious papers?  I ordered them from this fabulous Etsy shop.  I backed each sheet with stiff card, cut out primitive heart shapes and mounted them in an Ikea Ribba frame.  I must admit I'm so chuffed with the result.  It's like a little box of happiness.


Before I go, I wanted to thank you so much for your comments.  I know I am a bit pants at responding regularly but I do read them, I do smile and I do appreciate them.  Really I do.


*For comedic effect lest you should be concerned that I actually did do this!
**Not for comedic effect - I really am in danger of doing this!

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Beginning, Middle And End

Of creative writing, my English teacher had a mantra, "beginning, middle and end".  Bloody woman.  I used to fight very hard to suppress the desire to give her a hard jab in her beginning, middle and end.

She would scold me for being too 'flowery' in my writing and despair at my lack of structure.  She would peer at me through her industrial strength glasses and sigh.

She wore crimson lipstick and, a buxom creature who favoured tight clothes, looked like she had an extra pair of breasts due to an ill-fitting bra.

My Classical Studies teacher was a flimsy, whimsical bird of a woman.  She never wore a scrap of make-up, wafted around in faded floaty skirts and spoke in barely audible tones.  Being a gentle soul, she was the butt of many a joke but her quaint ways enchanted me.  I adored Homer's The Odyssey and could do no wrong in her eyes.

I can remember most of my school days and teachers so clearly, as if it were yesterday, and yet I suddenly find myself being the mother of a son about to sit his GCSEs.  Good grief, how on earth did that happen?

Ever wish there was a pause button?

Friday, 1 May 2015

I Could Make One Just As Nice For Half The Price

I've been meaning to suss out a way to crochet a cushion cover in one piece for ages now.  It's not rocket science I know and there are far more important issues in the world that deserve attention but it was just one of those little projects that lurked around in the back of my mind.  You know, that section marked 'must do one day'.

Well, a few weeks ago, I was walking past a little gift shop and there, sitting in the window, was a soft grey chunky knitted (plain garter stitch I think) cushion.  It was quite beautiful in its simplicity.  I took a few steps backwards and admired it for a short while.  I then noticed the price tag.  It said £40.

£40 for something that was more than likely made on a machine in a matter of minutes???  Cue me tutting and uttering that phrase that we creative types know so well,

"I could make one just as nice for half the price!"

Funny how quickly you can go off something, isn't it?

So, not only had I decided that I was going to make my own version of the overpriced cushion, I knew exactly which yarn I would use too.  You see, I'd previously purchased a few balls of Lang Cotone Chunky from my local yarn shop in the most glorious spring green and they were still sitting untouched, patiently waiting for the day when their fate would be determined.

It didn't take me long to work out how to create my cushion cover in one piece.  Well I did say it wasn't rocket science, didn't I?  Pretty nifty nonetheless and I did afford myself a quick visit to smugland.

Handmade and, if you ask me, every bit as nice as anything one can buy in a gift shop.  And all for the princely sum of £14.

Flying high with self-satisfaction, I decided to make another.  Well, I had after all saved myself £26, hadn't I?  ;-)

So I did!

I must admit I'm pretty chuffed with it.  It's got the loveliest feel to it and is worked in just one piece, don't you know.  *tick*

I'm going to pop the pattern for my Neopolitan Cushion in my Etsy shop in the next week or so if you'd like to make your own.  I'm just running a little giveaway on my Facebook page first, which you're more than welcome to join if you fancy the chance of winning this little lot.  A copy of my pattern will be included too.

So there we have it.  You can keep your machine-made £40 cushions.  I'd far rather have these two and still have plenty of change for an ice cream.

Now, which flavour to choose ...


Thursday, 23 April 2015

Less Is More


Where on earth have you been?

I've been waiting for you.

Hahaha! :-)

In all seriousness, I put my little blog on hiatus there for a few weeks.  I've been quite open about the fact that I have had some life issues to address.  Well, I'm pleased to report that I'm almost back on track, feeling more in control and plans are afoot.  All sounds very mysterious doesn't it, but it's really not.  I've come to realise that life can be peppered with ruts and, rather than sit and moan about them, I've had to get off my bottom, take a deep breath and be proactive.  So I have.  Yay me!

I have been continuing to post on Facebook and Instagram simply because it's easy.  Less wordy.  So if I ever go missing again and you wonder what I'm up to, feel free to come and poke me there (short cut buttons over on right hand column).

I've got so many bits and pieces to tell you that I'm struggling to put it in any sort of order.  Instead, I think I shall spread it over a few posts.  Yes, that's far better.

I really do want to talk to you about the green cushion in my first photograph and the sneaky glimpse of the neopolitan crochet beneath it though, so I'm tempted to say that will probably come next.

Back very soon.


Saturday, 4 April 2015

A Savoury Easter Poem ...


Have a simply lovely Easter my friends.


Friday, 27 March 2015


Gifts from Mother Nature.

"Tulips, brazen painted hussies,
Part their bright lips trying to seduce
The busy buzzing bees far too bold for dainty tussies
Vibrant tulip flowers produce
Visions certain to please."

Mary Havran

Oh to be able to dry washing outside again.  *pleasurable sigh*

Gifts to self.  Another Sascalia print, this time for my newly-decorated bedroom.

It's my fourth which I think qualifies me as an official collector.  This is 'Flower Girl'.  She has a vulnerability about her and a look of wistfulness in her eyes which appeal to me.

The gift of opportunity to indulge.

A gift from God.  Ed Sheeran's performance on The Brits 2015 was nothing short of breathtaking.  I'm not normally one for watching things over and over again but I can't imagine ever tiring of this.  Exquisite.

A gift of love … and much-needed time and space to let me breathe for which I'm so grateful.