Sunday, 27 January 2013

Simple Pleasures

Funnily enough there were no January Blues this year not until today that is and this one was caused to the imminent departure- albeit very temporary 4 days at most- of JJ  to the African continent . When he said Nigeria I was really petrified as I read all those government foreign office warnings on-line, but apparently   Uganda will be safer.
It could be also the after effects of going to see the film LES MISERABLES which is aptly named because truly miserable it made me feel. Endless singing and dinginess and rags and dirt and misery and no crochet possible! Give me a bit of Father Brown on i-player and my crochet and I'm happy as Larry! Not my cup of tea, too slow it was and it seemed endless at the time. One longed for the fast -forward button.....
So back to those simple pleasures: what are they?
 My hyacinths in full bloom and the lovely scent they fill the kitchen with first thing in the morning.
 A sunny walk with the dogs in lovely countryside:

 The river was very high.
 The dogs got playful on the only bit of snow and ice that was left:
 Pippa is looking all trim since she's been groomed last week.
Lucy had a wash in the snow:
And I have a new toothbrush which is absolutely fantastic and makes my teeth feel amazing twice a day!
Fancy that, loving a toothbrush?

And a perfectly shiny de-scaled kettle is a joyful sight indeed.
We had a leak and a hole in the ceiling which is not so pretty but the new toaster is another delight : it has defrost, bagel and thick bread settings and I can't wait to try the cheese and ham toasties in the toastie bags we used to have!
And the daffodils are staring to bloom:
 And I wasn't quick enough to photograph today's brownies: they were gone in 10 seconds hot from the oven! They came out in this square Pyrex dish and wham on went the icing sugar( snow) and off they went upstairs to be munched while the girls watched i-player or did homework... It's a WW recipe that I first baked in September 2001 and it's been a family favourite ever since! Odd to think it's been going more than 11 years.....
 Miss Y took up crochet again this weekend and she's busily hooking away at this blue snood:
 This is how far I got on Friday thanks to several episodes of Father Brown and Death in Paradise:
 The yoke of the angora cardi is done and now I'm onto the body part and splitting off the sleeve portions.I wanted a deep scoop neckline and it was all a bit scary at first :I'm writing my own pattern for this.
This is how I started on Friday at about 13:30: as above with the good old half treble foundation stitches.
More of this in a later post, no crochet done on Saturday because we were building THESE storage units and these are a HUGE source of joy at present too: aren't they lovely?
 They're LAZZARI modules from GLT and they are going to help me store all my knitwear and crocheted garments in an easy access way, in our bedroom I have a wardrobe with a rail but only one large and two tiny drawers in a pine chest so many items were often lurking about or stuffed into boxes under the bed or in weird corners. This used to be the nursery- see the old stencils I did when pregnant with Miss E , I did them in 1997?!
 Then it was JJ's study for many years and after that the hub from which his business started, but he's in a unit on an industrial estate now and I'm getting some storage at last!

Oh that last one has not come out very well. It's 15 new drawers in total so I have made sure I have capcity built in for the things I'll make this year and next..!
The room is going to be re-painted ( by moi) and I'll make new curtains too, a little less nursery- ish.
 Bye bye to the cat chasing the chicken and the matching curtains, blind and tie backs I made to coordinate with the mothercare changing mat and cot quilt and bedding at the time...
 I pieced all the strips of gingham and made the serrated edgings...
 Sponged the walls and stencilled the alphabet, numbers and animals, the teddy with the heart balloons was a personal addition. He's saving the cat from being chased by the chicken...
So here's the good bye.
And we had a chocolate egg filled with mousse to mark the occasion:Yummy!
And the lilac try out patch was JJ when it was still his office, I'm painting it cream not lilac.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Daffodil jar crochet cover pattern!!!

 Here's a pattern for making your own jar cover which is just the right size for a bunch of daffodils.
 You'll need a few hours, a 4mm hook and 36 grammes of assorted double knitting cotton yarns.
I used an Asda sauce jar and 6 colours of DK cottons: two yellows: sunshine and lemon. Three blues: denim/sky, royal and French navy and a white. I worked top down and initially intended to run a navy satin ribbon through the top to tie in a bow below the neck but I think I now like it without the ribbon. The top edge was added last.
I started with half treble foundation stitches which are an American invention to give a nicer start than simple chain and it's more stretchy.
This is how I did it: chain two then  yarn over and insert the hook in the loop furthest from the hook. .
*Pull loop through-you now have 3 loops on hook, then yarn over and pull loop through only the first loop on the hook.( chain made)
Now yarn over and pull yarn through all three loops on hook in one go.( half treble made) First stitch made, which consists of those two parts chain and half treble.
Yarn over and insert hook into the chain two loops that lie behind the stitch just made. Continue as above from*.
Here is a link to a video which demonstrates a foundation treble stitch, my variation is just that you don;t go through two loops twice at the end but through three loops once. And beware the video is American using USA terms so a sc( USA) is a dc( UK) and a dc is really a UK treble.
In this way you make 32 stitches in the lemon yellow and close with a slip stitch.
 This is the jar both empty after cleaning in dishwasher and full before use.
 This is the empty jar with my early hyacinths....
 This is the jar showing how well the daffodils fit! And the M&S daffs which I bought in blue turned out to be PINK!
Let's continue: here's the pattern :
In UK CROCHET terms:
row 2: ch1, *1 dc in each of next 2 sts, 2dc in next st repeat from * all the around and slipstitch closed: 42 sts.
R3:Change to navy ch1, dc all around and sl st closed.
R4:sunshine yellow ch1 and dc all around, sl st closed
R5,6: Denim blue as r4.
R7: WHITE as r4.
R8:working in back loop only and in sunshine yellow: ch1 then dc all around and sl st closed.
R9 as r4 but continuing in sunshine yellow
R10: as r4 but in royal.
R11: ch2 , half trebles all around in lemon yellow. sl st closed.
R12-R31 repeats row 3 to row 11 in sequence ending on a single row of sunshine yellow.
Sew in all ends and check it fits the jar, it should for snugly.
To finish the top:attach sunshine yellow and ch1,* dc in each st twice, then dc2together, repeat  from * all around ending with about 21 sts. Then work crabstitch by working dc from left to right with hook upside down. Sew in ends and VOILA you have converted a simple glass jar to a lovely striped vessel for daffodils!

Mine measured 17 cm high and 25 cm in circumference approximately.
the holes in the top will take a narrow satin ribbon.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Riana jumper tah dah!!!

 What a way to start, he's happy honest I think he is, just doesn't like his photo taken...?
 It's the Otis jumper from CROCHET TODAY Dec magazine made in SMC Select ( or Gedifra as was) RIANA wool and a 5mm hook. It weighs 561g now it's finished with all ends sewn in and trimmed.
 It was 164 I think before that. I had a 10 pack from House of Fraser in early December and then managed to order 3 more balls online but they were a slightly paler navy so I striped the yoke using the pale and dark navy alternately, the paler was the treble rows, the darker shade the half trebles. Then cabled onwards it's the dark navy all the way.
 He asked me to make the smallest size so I did. Lucky it's stretchy and it does fit albeit a bit too snugly for my liking. It's soft , very warm and light and very cosy to make as it warmed my legs and lap while I made it and as it grew on my lap.
 The cables were the most fun to make, it got a bit boring after that but the ribbing was good too.

 It fits me too just so you can see the relative dimensions, it's well below the hips on me.

 Neckline is really good though, nicely snug for a warm winter sweater. And here's Van Gogh saying hello, I thought I'd introduce him as he's always in the background these days.
 I sewed him as free machine embroidery in about 2005 I think, hard to remember now.

 Sleeves and shoulders are a good fit. And were easy to do, top down of course, my favourite method.
 And here's a bit more Van Gogh: Willow Trees...

 A textural sampler from my City and Guild machine embroidery Diploma days...
 And my favourite: the peach tree, of which one of the girls broke the glass when throwing thongs for the dog, a bit high I think, hope she works on her aim? Glass to be ordered shortly when snow melts.

 I absolutely LOVED stitching this fence: it has dozens of colours in it. Embroidered from a postcard.
And the blossom are these lovely little circles, again in many many shades and tones of pink.
I reminisce , because I have been clearing out ( and taking to Oxfam spurred on by a programme on Hoarders...!!!) and I was really gooood I burned stacks of old chequebooks. Looking through you remember your life: swimming lessons for Miss Y in 2003 : £32- which seemed a lot at the time but a snip these days? Window cleaning, school trips, etc and a cheque for 13 reels of Gutermann thread from Green's in Thame the interiors and textiles shop, £15.50 on 21.1.2004.
Those 9 years sure have FLOWN by! I'm sure it was thread to make these Van Gogh pictures.
I was at home being a full time mum in those days and trying to be a textile artist...
These days it's work in Public Health and crochet to relax? But it's a reminder not to let those emboidery skills slip by. Even though it's a different machine now, a simpler PFAFF as my beloved old one was knocked over in the garden and broken.

To end on a positive note: the wool for the next project has arrived!

See it came in a labelled box and there it is 13 balls of scrummy soft angora mix yarn in the most fabulous cherry red colour.
This will be another top down cardigan but in- what I call -oh no it's the Miranda effect again- Lucy stitch?
I'm devising my own pattern this time.
This was a bottom up NORO cardigan but I worked it like a top down in reverse if that makes sense?
I've worked the PERU up into a cowl and now there's the cream cashsoft DK to be made into the Ghost cone scarf- silly name if ever there was one- and the navy cashsoft is 4 ply and I have another 13 balls of that too, making 14 I think.
  I have now WORN this cowl out walking the dogs at 11 pm tonight in the freezing cold and it's FAB, does what it says on the can... Except there's no can?  OK so it's comfy and very snugly warm and cosy. The snow was amazing: powder snow that's meant for skiing on! Crunchy but in that'' soft powdery whispered way'' not crunchy in the'' gravelly frozen bits of watery ice'' in the snow way.BLISS.
And the sky looked all white still as if it's still full of more snow and the streets were white and deserted.
Not a soul, not a cat anywhere. Just me and the two dogs who  loved getting out at last.
We've been getting a bit of cabin fever here at home for 3 days now.
 Bye bye.