Wednesday, 26 February 2014


I'm rather hoping that I will come to my senses before September and leave craft stalls well alone. In the meantime my thoughts have turned to other child/teenage type things. Remember that my brief is not to crochet anything for sale that would embarrass E. Tall order. I can now crochet beanies with my eyes closed so I needed to move on...

Well crochet frisbees of course! I raided my cottons box for this, held two strands together and used a hook that would produce a tight fabric. I think it was 5mm and I do wish I'd written that down when I started, subsequent frisbees have not been consistent with this first one.

This is the front view. I don't think the hole makes much difference to the flying abilities. I've made two more without the hole since this one and they also fly really well. In fact, it has to be said, there were funny looks and 'yeah rights' when I happened to mention that I was crocheting a frisbee. Two hours later and all four of us were flinging the thing to one another, all with amazed expressions on our faces. OK I admit that I didn't think it would fly either.

The few extra rounds that create the fold over bit at the back give it a nice edge to catch and a bit of extra weight. I'd call them indoor frisbees but I think they'd fly just as well outside. Catching is a lot easier of course. No hurt fingers or bruised chins.

The yellow/grey version is not made with cotton. I used up some left over aran weight wool for this, held double, and with a 6mm hook. It flys just as well. Likewise the slightly smaller size doesn't seem to make any difference either. I've since tried to find a pattern to direct you to, should you get the urge to crochet a frisbee (btw the dogs absolutely love them, Harvey is an expert frisbee catcher and Riley just wants to chew them up), but I haven't really found a pattern that looks much like these. Lion Brand has a very elaborate one. I just produced a circle until it was roughly the right size then stopped the increasing and started decreasing. 

Jake has declared them officially 'cool'.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Goodbye childhood...

Hello student digs. As proud as she is, of the new look room, I don't think I had better publish a photo of every square inch of it. I don't think E will mind this view though. It's a triumph over blu-tac. Boy that stuff made a mess of the walls and ceiling (yep ceiling). The old frame in this photo is a montage of her favourite bands which she can easily change from time to time.

It was goodbye lime green feature wall - her choice when she was about ten or eleven, and goodbye floral curtains (I could never work out how I managed to have a daughter who liked florals when I've never had anything floral in any house I've ever lived in as an adult). Hello brick effect wallpaper and black duvet cover. We pinched the brown leather sofabed from J's room while the poor lad was out. Even though there's no chance in hell of having any boyfriends over, apparently it's not cool to have a single bed when you are sixteen. It's still cool to have a cuddly Brocolli on your bed though.

The cat likes the improvements but she's proving something of a trip hazard when she chooses the black furry rug to sleep on...

The white bits are paws!

One of the other changes we made was creating a much bigger study and art area. E is hoping to study English Language, Literature, Art,  Photography and Sociology for A Levels. The art is something she enjoys as 'downtime' and so it was important to have a much deeper desk to accommodate A1 paper. In the back of my car and almost on the way to the tip was an old kitchen table. It's a clever IKEA design that swivels open. Luckily the inside is pristine and just happened to be the perfect size for A1 art plus room for paints etc. I love it when you can just shuffle things around without having to buy new. E also has a bookshelf from my room in exchange for two bookcases that are now in the kitchen. Jake has Ella's old desk in exchange for the sofa bed. So we haven't needed any new furniture at all.

On the downside the conservatory looks like a bomb has hit it. Two car loads have been taken to a charity depot. With a couple more to follow I think. A small amount will go to M's sisters foster children and some to a friends daughter down the road, but really we don't have that many people to pass things on to. I'm holding on to bits and pieces I know I will enjoy seeing my grandchildren play with, ie. a basic dolls house that could do with a makeover, brio train stuff etc.

So, not a lot of crochet going on while we've been doing back breaking work on the bedroom. It didn't seem like a high priority when we still have to build a kitchen but I try not to go back on a promise and I promised it would be done at half term. I'm glad we've done it because E says she feels like she can settle down and work with a clearer head for her GCSE's now.

Meanwhile, master chef, aka Jake, has trotted off to school today with his special scone recipe he had to a. Dream up b. Draw and c. Practice making. He makes it at school today, it's a banoffee scone. Wow. Can you imagine that?

Thursday, 20 February 2014

A beautiful day...

We've just been for the most glorious dog walk. E, J and I. I didn't give J the option to stay behind and play computer games today it was too sunny and warm to miss out on.

E listens to music on walks now and this suits me fine because lip reading and walking is not without it's hazards and I do like to take in the sky, the trees and keep an eye on the dogs too.

J decided to take his football despite the unsuitability of muddy fields and woodland for kicking it along. On the home straight, which is a long straight narrow path he decided to start running. It took me back to a holiday in France where we were strolling along a huge straight sandy beach. Jake was only four and had probably never seen open space as far as they eye could see. He abandoned his bucket and spade and started running at a steady pace and didn't stop. Eventually we realised that someone would have to catch him up and so we all started jogging despite the fact that he was a little dot in the distance by then. When we caught up with him he wasn't even out of breath (we certainly were!) It was the most bizzarre event, I'd love to have known what was going through his mind.

I can never look back without also looking forward, when it comes to the children. Those lovely times are gone and one day they will leave home. When they do it will be with mixed emotions. On the one hand I often think I will be ready for some time out and on the other it is quite a daunting thought.

The radio flyer that I once pulled them both along in is now just a glorified picnic transporter. When they leave home it will just be a wheelbarrow. Other toys this week are making their way up to the attic for their children, and I tell you, their children are not going to need many new things!

Tuesday, 18 February 2014


One dog in a muddy puddle...

Two dogs in a muddy puddle...

Woohoo! Three dogs in a muddy puddle. These three certainly love mud and water, preferably at the same time.

We had Archie overnight while his Plan A babysitters attended a wedding. Poor dog is probably beyond confused now but he does return to his home in the South in March so my guess is he will know then that it's just been a very long holiday with my Mum and Dad with the odd day trip to our house.

It was a good trial run for owning three dogs, and that's a definite no. Two is more than enough thank you. Just the boot of the car was quite crowded on the way to this wonderful network of bridle ways that we've recently discovered.

Three wet dogs was a bit whiffy too, though they were dry and fluffy by the evening and able to come and doss on our sofas. It's quite lucky they all get on. They are all male and I'm often told that male dogs are more likely to fight. That's never been my experience. In fact the only female dog I've ever had, and that was as a child, was the most feisty thing you wouldn't want to be on the wrong side of.

Kitchen progress is at a stand still while M has a very busy week clocking up hundreds of miles and waiting for lots of court cases to start. Meanwhile E fabulously remembered that I promised her a bedroom makeover way back before Christmas some time. I knew the day would come but I'm not looking forward to yet more upheaval.

Gone will be the lime green feature wall and the floral curtains and the pink quilt. In will come the black curtains, the brick wallpaper and the black rug. I've persuaded her to put all her rock band posters into two A1 frames and hang those rather than have the blu tac damage all over again. I'll be glad to see the back of the posters on the ceiling too. I can't complain about her having a black phase though, I had one myself.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Upcycled pallets...

I love my upcycled Valentines gifts this year. All made from pallets. I may have given hints a month or so ago when I suggested the blocks might be good for tea light holders, but M came up with the pencil/crochet hook holder by himself. It works a treat too. The third item he made is a rustic box which is destined to carry my phone, iPod, iPad, notebook and reading glasses as this is the paraphernalia that seems to follow me about the house.

M loved his crochet beard collection; grey for every day wear, ginger for weekends and black for work he thought. Obviously just a major bit of silliness, though not as silly as M in a beanie which was my first choice of gift. He just doesn't look good in hats.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

For the man who has everything...

It's a little late for Movember but hey ho, that's me, living life completely out of sync. I've just made this for Valentines Day. A crochet beard of course, every man should have one.

M and I don't do the traditional flowers and chocolates on Valentines Day at my request. I had the nerve to mention this on our very first wedding anniversary (love chocolate but don't like cut flowers because I'd rather leave them growing naturally) and so ever since we've been making small handcrafted items to exchange. It's much more fun and meaningful. Mine have been mostly of the wool kind and M's have been mostly of the wood kind. They don't have to be very elaborate or take months to make. Fun is the key thing.

Ella is totally freaked out with these beards and says they give her the creeps. I think they are hilarious, especially the ones on babies!

Jake is modelling the charcoal grey beard and he's now convinced that beards suit him! (I need to make him a blonde one). I've also done a ginger beard and I'm planning a black one too. One for every occasion why not?

It's a very easy pattern which uses bobble stitch (link below) but it's best to have some kind of ear to ear measurement for the recipient to get a good fit. It needs to be fairly taut to work.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Slouchy beanie pattern...

What is it with cats and balls of wool? Or for that matter, any surface that you happen to be using... Mollie seems to like the warmth of this recycled timber.

I thought I'd put together a photo tutorial/pattern for anyone who wants to make a slouchy beanie. It's pretty much a beginners type of thing with the more experienced being able to shape it, lengthen it, enlarge it, reduce it, modify it or whatever they might desire, by eye and intuition. It's a nice simple process that lends itself to using up odds and ends. My finished ones (see previous posts) have averaged just 75gms of wool.

To make the above slouchy beanie you will need a total of 100gms of aran weight wool in colours of your choice, and a 4.5mm hook.

Start with a magic ring and chain 3.

Crochet 11 trebles into the ring and slip stitch to the top of the ch3, you now have twelve stitches.

Ch3 and count this as the first treble, tr in next st, 2tr in each st to end (24st) sl st to top of first ch3.

Ch3, tr in next st, *2tr in next st, *tr in next 2 sts*, repeat from * to * to end, sl st as before.

Ch3, tr in next 2 sts, *2tr in next st, tr in next 3 sts*, repeat from * to * to end, sl st as before.

Continue increasing in this fashion (the next row will have four trebles between two trebles in one stitch, then five between and so on) until you reach seven trebles in between 2tr in one stitch.

You are now ready to treble around without shaping; treble in the top of each treble stitch around. A useful tip here is to check the head for which it is intended (if possible). A smaller adult head might require you to stop at 6 trebles in between and a larger head might need 8 trebles in between.

NB: If this isn't clear see below where I've written these rows out in full without pictures at the end of this post.

If you have been changing colours your hat might look a bit like this inside. I've snipped my ends off with enough wool to thread a tapestry needle to sew the ends in at the end.

Keep crocheting straight forward rounds of trebles until the whole hat is approximately 27cms long. Then, in your final colour, crochet one round of half trebles (use ch2 at the start of your row) and two rounds of dc's (ch1 at the start of each row). Fasten off. Wear.

PATTERN without pictures:

Using a 4.5mm hook, start with a magic ring and chain 3.

Row 1. Crochet 11 trebles into the ring and slip stitch to the top of the ch3, you now have twelve stitches.

Row 2. Ch3 and count this as the first treble, tr in next st, 2tr in each st to end, sl st to top of first ch3 (24 sts)

Row 3. Ch3, tr in next st, *2tr in next st, *tr in next 2 sts*, repeat from * to * to end, sl st.

Row 4. Ch3, tr in next 2 sts, *2tr in next st, tr in next 3 sts*, repeat from * to * to end, sl st as before.

Row 5. Ch3, tr in next 3 sts, *2tr in next st, tr in next 4 sts*, repeat from * to * to end! sl st to join round.

Row 6. Ch3, tr in next 4 sts, *2tr in next st, tr in next 5 sts*, repeat from * to * to end! sl st to join round.

Row 7. Ch3, tr in next 5 sts, *2tr in next st, tr in next 6 sts*, repeat from * to * to end! sl st to join round.

Row 8. Ch3, tr in next 6 sts, *2tr in next st, tr in next 7 sts*, repeat from * to * to end! sl st to join round.

Next row: ch3, one treble in top of each treble around, join with sl st. Repeat this row until hat measures approximately 27cms from top.

Final rows to create the 'band': ch 2, htr around to end, sl st to join round. Ch1, dc around to end, sl st to join round. Ch1, dc around to end, sl st to join, fasten off.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Silly stuff..

I'm definitely on the mend now hence the lifted mood. For a moment I thought it was turning into a chest infection but I seem to have turned a corner. My voice has returned but I still can't smell or taste much, despite being on my billionth box of tissues.

So, a very rare picture of myself. I think there is only one other on this blog. I've lomo'd this one to hide the flaky nose close up. Not pleasant. The big smile is because this hat feels ridiculously silly. M and I have been taking the odd silly picture of ourselves and sending them to E as a joke about the word 'selfie'.

It's a tad tight which is daft because I did it with the old 'try it on as you go' method. It's snug though. I started with the ribbed band.

This was done using aran weight wool, 6 stitches wide, and just half trebles until the required length. It's tricky to know how much 'give' to allow. I think this one will give a bit if worn regularly.

After joining the band with slip stitches I then did a row of double crochet stitches as a foundation for the puff stitch rounds. I liken this to picking up stitches for knitting collars and so on. I always hated that and it's hard to know if you're getting the number of dc's right this way too. It shouldn't pucker and it's probably best to be generous with them.

I referred to my Erika Knight Crochet Workshop book as a reminder for the puff stitch fabric. I made several of the puff stitch snoods for Christmas presents (2012 I think) and love the way it looks so substantial and yet is fairly quick and easy.

I did a mammoth pom pom using a clover pom pom maker. The next size down would have been sensible. On a smaller head I don't think the gaps between puff stitches would have been so noticeable but I guess this design would benefit from a fleece lining.

Feeling slightly more confident I can create hats without patterns now. Though I have to confess the second slouchy beanie got unravelled by a few rows here and there, mostly because I was watching a good western and not concentrating.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Beanie production line...

The wind has been howling here all day. I would have liked to have accompanied M on a dog walk this morning but when I tried to ask and no voice came out he just looked at me and said, 'I think not'. On the plus side I got to stay in bed with a large mug of tea and my crochet.

I've been gathering colours and ideas for beanies but I haven't been very adventurous yet. My second slouchy beanie is in safe denim blue and charcoal grey. Ella has claimed the first beanie by suggesting it looks best on her. She's probably right. M has declared me a one person beanie factory. I've made two of something, that just be rare.

Neither of my hat models are around now that I've finished the second one. I've tried it on myself and I think I can just about get away with it, but believe me, a photo of me at the moment, after a week of blowing my nose, well it just ain't pretty. So...

Harvey just happens to be one of those very understanding dogs. Quite a nice shade of blue for him don't you think?

Actually we had a slight drama here earlier on. J heard a plank of wood fall in the kitchen. I went through and picked it up and didn't see anything else amiss. About a minute later J came running through to me saying there was blood all over the kitchen floor, and boy was he right. It looked like something had been massacred in there. Ahem, sorry for the graphic description. It seems that the wood must have nipped his tail. It took us ages to find out where the blood was coming from. We checked the paws first and then mouth. He had a very small, one centimetre cut at the end of his tail and it bled like crazy. We applied pressure and bandaged it up. He seems fine and not at all bothered by the bandage. Lapping up the extra love and attention. It's a bit of a mystery how the wood did that kind of wound, there were no sharp bits or nails. The wood is now banished to the shed.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Off the hook...slouchy beanie

Do you think I'm a bad mother for asking my boy to pose for a blog pic from his sick bed? Well to be fair he was well enough to suggest I take it in front of his Periodic Table poster 'so I look intelligent'.

J and I are on our fifth day of this big bad cold. He's feeling a smidgen better today and I feel a smidgen worse. I've developed a strong craving for marshmallows which is pretty strange, but one that will be satisfied shortly, when M goes on his tissue and flu capsule buying mission. I'm a great believer in listening to your body so marshmallows it is.

Meanwhile I finished up this slouchy beanie for no-one in particular (an experiment for a craft stall item) and I'm counting it a success because E and J both like it.

I made this one in aran weight yarn from supplies I already had. The beauty of working hats up without a pattern is being able to use up any weight yarn as long as you guage the drape well (slouchy beanies need a little drape!).

Note to slouchy beanie crocheters everywhere; you have the right level of slouchyness when your teenage children say you do. OK? In other words crochet from the crown, in the round until you have a head sized width and then crochet rounds without shaping. Try it on every few rounds until they give you the nod.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

off sick...

I've returned from my jaunt to the south coast with a rotten cold. J is also off school with the very same. He's been sleeping it off whilst I've been watching rubbish day time tv in bed and doing five minute bursts of friendship bracelet making.

The top and bottom ones here are my handiwork. Not a very clear pic (borrowed from E's Instagrammed archives). They are the rope type, made on a simple circular loom sort of thing. Very satisfying and much easier to make than the traditional woven/macrame style which require good eyesight and longer concentration than I've had this week.

I managed to stay awake for a whole Hitchcock thriller only to find that the ending wasn't very thrilling at all. Thank goodness for Westerns I say!