Sunday, 26 February 2012

First Gardening of 2012

The tortoise enclosure needed a bit of attention in the weeding department. Didn't take long. From this.. this. Neat and tidy and all ready for the tortoises to have a little explore.

And after they had mooched around for a while, a bit of upright sunbathing was in order. It's sunny again today so they will be pleased to be out and about again.

We even had the patio doors open. My new wellies - Matalan, £9.

This is the view from where I am right now. Loving the sunshine, Gerard is loving it too. He was in the pet rescue for the whole of last summer so missed out on wandering around in the sunshine. He's making up for it now though, we hardly saw him yesterday! Hope it's sunny where you are. x

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Man Blanket

Hello, I promised I would be back to show you this blanket, which you saw a sneek peak of a little while ago. Do you remember this blanket that I made a long time ago? Well, I put this blanket on the back of the grey sofa and never really loved it but my Mother in Law kept commenting on it so off it went to her house. My Father in Law has been unwell over the last few months and he was using the blanket a lot during the day to keep him warm. I had some of the cream wool left over in my stash and was wanting a project to use it up. I also had this UFO from a very long time ago that my Mum brought over a couple of months ago when she was having a clear out.

Way back in the 1980s when I was probably about fifteen, I started making a knitted skirt. Yes. A knitted skirt. They must have been trendy back then (or maybe not, I wasn't a cool teenager!) but I had got over two thirds of the way into this project before discarding it through boredom - who could blame me? I decided that it was such a shame to waste good quality aran wool and ripped it back until I had eight balls of lovely wool. Added to the remainder of the cream aran wool (about 150g) I decided I had enough for a lap blanket. This was going to be a chunky blanket, a Man Blanket.

I reckoned that if it was going to be a Man Blanket, it would not be needing any fancy patterns so I started off with 2 rounds of cream and finished off each square with navy. I then realised that I had a bit more of the cream wool than I originally thought and in order to use it all up, I had better make some squares with larger cream middles. Once I had joined 16 squares together, I used the rest of the wool to make stripes at each end - I wanted a rectangular blanket which could be folded in half and still be big enough to drape over the knee. Just a simple border of double crochet and shell edging at each end and it was complete.

The edges are a bit wonky but Man Blankets are allowed to be a bit wonky sometimes. Honest.

Very small amounts of wool were left over so I am pleased I made such a huge dent in the yarn stash. And my Father in Law is very pleased he has another blanket to keep him warm in the evening. Here endeth the story of the Man Blanket. Hope you enjoyed it and it inspires you to make a Man Blanket too!

Last week I was extremely pleased to find I had won a blog giveaway. The lovely Emma from Oooh Betty sent me a parcel full of treats.

A Staffordshire jar in my favourite colours. It's gorgeous, I love it.

Inside the jar was a whole range of goodies.

The hankie has made its way into my youngest daughter's hanky stash, the doily, buttons and beautiful ribbon on vintage spool have been squirrelled away into my sewing cabinet for future use. And the love birds are now key rings - one for the patio doors in the lounge and one for the back door in the kitchen. I see them every day and they make me smile. As for the jar, it is on the new worktop next to the kettle. I will get some more shots of it once the kitchen is complete. We were looking at wall tiles at the weekend although we didn't see anything suitable. We only have about 2.5 square metres to cover, what with the kitchen window and the splashback behind the hob there are only small bits to tile here and there. Large wall tiles are in fashion at the moment and so many of the tiles are too big for the area we have. Only one or two tiles would remain uncut if we used anything bigger than about 20x25cm. We will keep looking but I think we have come to the conclusion that metro brick tiles are the way to go.

I have a free day tomorrow so I am going to see if I can sort out what my next crochet project is. I have messed around so much with the milk cotton and not come up with anything that takes my fancy. It may well be put to one side until a good idea pops into my head. Hope you all have a fab day tomorrow. xxx

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Mum's Birthday Blanket

It was my Mum's birthday at the weekend so we had a little trip out on Friday to celebrate. Lunch at a local cafe (our favourite haunt) and the girls went to the park with my Dad to feed the ducks and have a run around, whilst my Mum and I walked down the high street to check out the charity shops. Mum managed to get a Portmeirion storage jar and I got a much needed wooden doorstop. Of course, what was I going to give my Mum as a present? A blanket of course! I secretly made this about a month ago. I got the pattern off Ravelry - Spring Ripple Scarf by Angela Best. It is surprisingly quick to crochet so this blanket didn't take much longer than a week to crochet.

It's made with Stylecraft yarn in a random colour sequence. Very easy to do and the pattern is quick to remember. It makes a nice lightweight blanket with plenty of holes to trap warm air.

Here's a photo of me making it, just to prove that I did actually crochet it - I don't always remember to take an action shot! I was a little concerned when I was half way through making it that it was a little too retro 1970s colour scheme but once I used some parchment yarn in the middle, I think this toned things down a bit. What do you think?

Mum loved her blanket, as do I. I also got her a Radley travel card holder to match her Radley handbag (recently acquired from the charity shop - now you know who I take after) and some tea in an elephant tin from here. After a lovely day out, we went back home to Mum and Dad's house for a cup of tea and a cream cake. Yum.

It was half term for us last week and we managed to cram quite a lot of stuff in. Friends came over for lunch, we went to watch The Muppets at the cinema (F really enjoyed it, E not so much), not much crafting took place though and virtually no crochet. I am knitting a scarf for my husband (hence the reason we are getting 15 degree weather on Thursday - you can thank me later!) and I have started a ripple blanket with the milk cotton but I am definitely not feeling the love for it. I might frog it and start again.

Gerard has discovered he can do this...

...and this...

When he gets a giddy kipper moment he tears up the tree in our front garden and then we can hear him running up and down the roof. It's his latest favourite thing to do. Daft cat! Note to self - must clean the gutters. Another job to add to the list.

Will be back later on in the week with photos of the other blanket I recently made. x

Thursday, 16 February 2012

In from the cold

Thanks so much for all the lovely and generous comments about the blanket. I am very grateful and it is bringing some colour and brightness into our lounge. These little guys have also brought some brightness back into our lives since they came out of hibernation three weeks ago. I really missed them and it's great to see their personalities and quirks once again. They had been for a quick check up with the vet back in December before I put them into hibernation - in a box filled with shredded paper which was then put in a box with packing material, which was then put in our beer fridge (!) in the utility room (glorified cupboard). I bought two digital meat thermometers - one for in the box and one for in the fridge to check for fluctuations in temperature. The fridge was set to its highest setting (about 5 degrees) and then I crossed my fingers and checked them every so often until their 8 weeks was up.

It took a lot of courage to get them out at the end of those eight weeks, not knowing whether they had survived their first ever hibernation. It's all very well following advice to poke their legs every week to check they are still alive but they were cold and I didn't want to poke them too hard and wake them up! But all was well and they definitely deserved a nice warm bath to get them going again.

Then came the tricky bit - waiting for them to start eating again - apparently if they haven't eaten by day seven it's a speedy trip to the vets to see if anything can be done to save them. Luckily they were chowing down on some dandelion leaves on the second day. Since the snow arrived they have been eating bagged salad leaves. As we have had some mild days this week (10 degrees celsius) with some sunshine, I am planning to weed and tidy up their outdoor enclosure so they can at least spend a couple of hours outside in the sunshine each day to explore their enclosure and enjoy some fresh air.

In the meantime I am in between crochet projects (shock horror!) and just trying to decide what to do next. I almost certainly want to do a ripple but am having trouble finding the right pattern. But I also need to decide which yarn to use - ongoing Stylecraft stash (I don't think I will ever not have any Stylecraft hanging around) or NEW YARN???

Stylecraft looking pretty in a charity shop basket which is most definitely not suitable for crochet projects due to spikey woven ends.

Rowan Milk Cotton DK, not the colours I would usually go for but I was seduced by the names (Tutti Fruiti, Fruit Salad, Bonfire Toffee, Dip Dab). I have also bought some chocolate brown to go with - the reason for this will be explained soon. I am itching to make a ripple with this yarn but I just need to get the pattern right. Don't you just hate it when you think of the perfect style of blanket and then can't quite get the pattern right. Anyway, I'll keep trying and let you know how I get on. x

Friday, 10 February 2012

Mollie Makes inspired blanket reveal

It's finally here - I have been putting off taking photos for days due to lack of sunlight/lack of time. However it's amazing what a bit of freshly laid snow can do for the light levels in our lounge. You may remember when I started this blanket back in August last year (where did all that time go?!) - see this post. I can't believe it has taken me quite that long to make, although I did stop and start a few times whilst making other stuff. It was the most ideal blanket to crochet during the warm summer months - holding a three inch square piece of crochet does not make me feel hot and grumpy! It was also very portable too. Once I had made enough squares, I laid them out on the floor until they looked right and then I took a photo of them, which I printed out so I knew which colour to join on next. I joined one entire row and then sewed in all the ends before starting another row. I had to force myself to do this as I really didn't wanted to have to sew in all the ends in one go once the blanket was complete. I think it took about ten days to get the blanket all together. This was all done over the Christmas holidays so it was fairly relaxing to do whilst watching Christmas specials and nibbling on leftovers.

Then I left it. I tried to think of what type of border I would like. I put it to one side and thought long and hard. I love this blanket and a lot of hard work went into making it so I wanted to ensure that the border was right.

Well it sat on the side for a couple of weeks without any attention. I picked it up and tried out a few different borders over a 6 inch length but unravelled them all as they were not working. At this point I also decided that I did not want the border in a dark grey colour and would use to the Stylecraft parchment colour instead. The dark grey seemed to make the border too prominent, taking your attention away from the squares. Anyway, I bit the bullet and started crocheting a border taken from the book my Mum gave me for Christmas, and here is the result.

The border is quite understated which is how I wanted it to be, to blend into the background and let the squares do the talking. I'm so glad I chose the dark grey to outline the squares though, it seems to make the colours jump out at you a bit more. The squares were joined using double crochet (UK) which was a bit fiddly to start off with but once I got into a routine, it was a very quick method of joining. Here is a photo of the reverse, you can just see the grey stitches.

And here is the blanket on our two seater sofa, where it was intended to go. Just the right size.

I am a little bit possessive over this blanket. E asked if she could wrap it round herself whilst watching tv and I said no. This has led me to the belief that I do need to make another blanket, one that can actually be used (!) Never fear, I have some more yarn and lots of ideas whirling around in my head. I'm thinking a ripple or a chevron, or a ripple....

Have a fab weekend. I am off to drink tea and look through the latest Mollie Makes mag. It's half term next week but my body is saying that it has started early so I very much doubt anything will get done in our house today. xx

Monday, 6 February 2012

Climb every mountain

I am trying my very best this year to only buy things that we actually need. The big clear out of 2012 is still continuing (we have so much stuff) and I am not wanting to add to the quantity we already have. My intention is that we only buy something if we absolutely need it or if something breaks and needs replacing.

The above photo is of the lamp on my coffee table next to where I sit in the lounge. Over Christmas, a certain little person (not mentioning any names) absentmindedly ran her finger along the edge of this shade whilst watching rather a lot of tv. I was obviously off cooking dinner or sorting out washing whilst all this was going on so I a) wasn't sat in my usual spot, and b) didn't notice until the damage was done. I had received some Christmas money so decided to look for a replacement shade rather attempt unsuccessfully to glue those little strands back on.

My first instinct was to go to Folly and Glee who sell wonderful lampshades made of vintage barkcloth (you know I like a bit of barkcloth) and I found this beauty, which seems to be just the right sort of lampshade to have during this cold and snowy weather. It is beautifully made and and is a lot prettier to look at rather than a boring brown shade. I am so tempted to buy another shade in a different style but alas we don't need one.  I would definitely recommend that you have a little look at their online shop - everything they sell is so so gorgeous.

I am doing very well with my buy less year so far, apart from the Matalan teapot in the previous post. We really didn't need another teapot but I'm not keen on my other one so it may be winging its way to the charity shop shortly. I have also had a look at my yarn stash and have just finished a blanket out of some leftover wool which has been hanging around for a long long time. Also, the Mollie Makes inspired blanket is finished - hoorah!! More posts to follow once I've taken some photos. xxx

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Wintery Sunday morning

Hope you are all wrapped up toasty warm and enjoying some quiet time in front of the fire with a good book/craft project. We woke up to four inches of snow so the kids decided they would like a "hotel breakfast" before venturing out into the cold. It was delicious!

 Whilst the girls were having fun outside doing this,

... Gerard and I were in the warm doing some of this,

... drinking lots of this (Teapot, Matalan £8),

... and working on this - another new project which is almost finished. I have no intention of venturing out today. Stay warm. x