Monday, 11 December 2017

Blue Skies & Crochet

Snow has well and truly hit Shropshire this weekend. School and my workplace are closed today but I must confess to enjoying the snow just a little bit.

It gave us a chance to go sledging but we cracked our sledge. It turns out this one is not built for 10 stone women! 

We went early to the meadow by us before anyone else and the sunlight was magical. The girls can see the meadow from their three storey high bedroom window so they were itching to go from the moment they drew the curtains.

I think the garden is going to take a bashing once it all melts. The weight of the snow is probably crushing our plants as we speak.

In other blue news, this weekend has given me lots of time to make my last Christmas present; the Meg shawl which has been lounging in my Ravelry Library unmade for quite a while.

It has been fun but boy those ends were tiresome. Each circle and flower and ring and joining string - Te-di-ous!

I used a rather nice free printable to wrap it up from here

Finally, another snow landscape because they are beautiful aren't they? We live on the top of the hill, we are so lucky to have this as our view.

Thanks for looking. Jo xxxxx

Friday, 8 December 2017

A Little Festive Hand Sewing

Last night I made these tree decorations from a piece of pre-printed fabric that I was kindly given. Being the scrooge I am, I didn't make them back to back with the printable, I used a candy stripe backing to make double the amount of hangings.

Today is a snow day. I am working from home. I walked the girls to school in driving snow with the dog half a mile there and half a mile back. I got my work done in super quick time without office distractions. This is us at 9:10, we were late but there you are.

My sewing will make perfect secret santa gifts (probably not that secret now I come to think of it!) and teacher/student gifts. 

I also made some cards and wrote some ready for posting. I have to make the school walk again later so I will post them on the way.

It is lunchtime and still snowing.

I like snow days. I have very low expectations of myself on these days and slip into a state of ease and flexibility which is so much slower than my normal pace of life. Because it is all so temporary, I allow myself to glissade through a different day.

Uh oh, text from school - a request to pick up your children early. Aw! and I didn't even get my sewing machine turned on!

Hope you are safe wherever you are. Jo xxxx

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Yarn Musings

Being able to knit and crochet is a skill which I didn't used to hold in very high esteem. I thought everyone did it or could do it. If you are a female in my family, then someone has taught and shared with you these skills. I thought that happened in every family. It has yet to have filtered to the males in my family!  

Running towards the end of my 2017 stash diet however, I am also finding it to be a bit of a curse. It runs so deep in my personality to make something out of nothing that I am finding it hard to let go of the poor stash and treat myself to using the great yarn I have been lovingly gifted by true friends or have chosen myself.

I think it comes from putting others first. I often do all the housework, jobs, post, girl's tasks and home chores thinking that when that is all over I will have some craft time but very often I end up with the scraggy end of the day. I do the same with yarn. 'lets just use this up', 'when this has gone I will use the nice wool', 'I will just make way for something better later' There is no one to blame but myself you understand.

Take this yarn for example it was all given to me in an unwanted carrier bag of wool. I have felt so compelled to use it. 

I have tried a colour work cardigan for myself. Frogged.

I tried to knit a stripy jumper for myself. Frogged. Therefore, all in all, I have come to the conclusion that really I would not like to wear this wool as a garment.This little lot will one day be destined for a crochet picnic blanket but for now it needs to hibernate in the drawer under the spare room bed to make way for the stars of the show

I have nice yarn, soft yarn, yarn in beautiful colours all waiting in my cupboard upstairs. are my top favourites:

For a rare moment all knitting and crochet receptacles are empty. My needles are all back in their cosy beds. Nothing is on the go, nothing needs my attention or fixing and I am living the exciting moment that is the anticipation of choosing to knit or crochet something amazing with wonderful yarn. 

Snow is predicted so I can really enjoy choosing my next yarny project over the next few days.
I am living in the moment folks and it feels fantastic!

Any thoughts. Do you do the same?
Jo xxx

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Looking for Simplicity

Thank you so much for your kind wedding wishes. In the run up to our wedding I needed some sort of simple activity alongside general planning.I was looking for some crochet simplicity. I had some left over variegated yarn from this sweater and various other little balls which needed tangling into something.

I tried various different blanket motifs: the Maybelle which was too holey, the flower ones shown in the picture which involved double trebles so again it felt too loose so in the end I plumped for the granny square, and why not?

It was a simple no brainer project which I did while listening to comedy on the radio or watching TV in the evenings along with taking a few to work in a project bag for lunch breaks. I joined them all together using some grey with the join-as-you-go method which I have used here. It took me about two weeks of steady evening crochet. It was a distraction project from my brain melting sock marathon.

Rhythmic and simple with a sprinkling of randomness. 
That was what I was looking for.

I am hoping it appeals as a unisex pram blanket so it has been stashed ready for a new baby sometime.

My favourite edging for baby blankets is the reverse double crochet or crab stitch. It gives a rope effect which doesn't catch on babies little fingers. Essentially you double crochet to the right which feels strange at first but then you find your rhythm.

All wrapped up and ready to go. 

Joining up with Jennifer over at Thistlebear for the Winter Link party. Off to check out the other posts. Jo xxx

Friday, 1 December 2017


 Hello there, here is a little surprise for you all. Andy and I got married a couple of Saturdays ago.

I didn't make my dress, it has all been quite quickly organised in the short term even though we have been together for 17 years; it has been a long probation for Andy! My dad is not very well with a recurrent bout of cancer and we wanted to share the day with him before it was too late.

I bought my dress at a flash sale in a bridal shop about 18 months ago which I thought I would wear to a ball in September but I didn't get around to making the alterations it needed in time so I whipped it out of the wardrobe, turned it up with a blind hem and took in the bust. You could have got two loaves of bread down the front!I couldn't leave it in the shop for £30 (instead of £250!) even though at the time, I didn't really need it.

Andy chose to wear the waistcoat I made for him a while back which warmed my heart. My friend lent me her sparkly head band.

The registrar was my best mate. I know, how lucky are we that my bestie is a wedding registrar! So she shared the day with us in a truly unique way. Here we all are looking like we have been to the bookies!

I have, however, been honing my craft skills in other areas. I made some invitations with some stamp sets and liquid pearl glue which I already had in my papercraft stash. This one is an ink reject.

I made some hair pieces for my girls to wear using bits and bobs(those pink, now purple flowers are from you Amy)

My daughters and I made some place cards for the lunch we celebrated with afterwards. We weighted some heart shaped cards with a bead to dangle into a wine glass.

I really enjoyed making a bridal bouquet and some posies for our daughters and my niece, not forgetting a dapper buttonhole for Andy. I chose roses, chrysanthemums and purple lisianthus...all from Aldi.

We did not have a wedding cake but my girls love baking and Big Sis dreams of becoming a cake decorator when she is older so she had a great time making fairy cakes with her sister.

So you know a wedding is a great opportunity to play with your sewing and craft skills but it is far more important to have the opportunity to marry a fabulous man in the company of my dad. Overall, that is the biggest opportunity not to miss.

I will leave you with a fantastic wedding ode written by my very good friend Linda.

Tying each other in knots.

It's Saturday in Bridgnorth,
The market's in full flow.
When from the Town Hall they emerge,
Groom Andy and wife Jo.

The bride is wearing purple,
The groom his Sunday best.
And, as it's mid-November,
A crocheted thermal vest.

Some guests have got distracted,
by the marketeer's shouts.
And forgetting their confetti-
Are buying bags of sprouts.

Then Jo abandons Andy,
She's got bigger fish to fry
Because in the Red Cross window
Is a bag of cheap four ply.

But they make it to the castle,
Where cameras click and whir.
And Jo looks jolly lovely 
in her satin and her fur.

The guests are glowing pinkly,
and feeling mighty fine.
Cos' Andy's packed a flagon or two
of homemade Rhubarb wine.

Then after lunch and speeches,
And the mums have had a cry.
It's back home with great memories
Which stretch Three Stories High.

Thanks for dropping by. Have a good weekend ahead. 
Jo xxx

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Toe Up Sock Slog

I feel I have eventually mastered the simple cuff down sock.(five attempts!) I totally understand the ribbed heel, heel turn and decreases for the narrow part of your foot. However, I would like to know how to make toe up socks because this makes more sense to me in terms of yarn consumption. 

I have some half balls of sock yarn which are screaming out for some stripy sock action but with cuff down it is hard to decide how long to make the ankle without fear of running out of yarn at the toe. Instead I got a book out from the library, bit old fashioned, but I had a go at some new techniques from the back of the book.

This is the figure of eight cast on for the toe, it means there is no toe seam. I learnt how to do it from the book and on Youtube here.I trawled ravelry to find a toe up pattern that I thought I could try. I chose the vanilla sock pattern. It was good apart from it not being very clear where to put in the waste yarn for your own sock size. I made a template to measure a toe line and a place to stop for the heel. The template fits inside the sock as you knit.

Unfortunately, I knit the foot too long. When I added the afterthought heel to the sock; it was flapping around my toes. I drew another line on my foot template and tried again. In hindsight I needed to stretch the sock to the line I had chosen and unfurl it so it didn't go past the line. Both of these errors made the sock too long. This did, however mean that I had to frog BOTH socks back past the waste yarn because I had made them both ready for the heels to go in. 

Anyway, the second time I made the foot shorter. 

Why do I still get that ladder when using DPN's??
Can you see the new one is the one with the red waste yarn in. I was quite a way out but it has shown me where to draw the line on my foot template for next time. This had been a long sock slog - way more than I wanted - but it is good to learn new things. They really are a tester pair for using my lovely yarn soon. 

Figure eight cast on toes feel good and is great for using up little ends of contrasting sock yarn.

Each heel is different on these socks. I have found the size that is the right depth for my heel. One is too deep and one is just right.

Each cuff cast off is different. The hidden one is too tight, gripping my leg with a cast off in rib and the other one is a Russian cast off which is nicer and much more stretchy.

Twisting the second colour up inside the sock feels OK when wearing  but it does leave a gap in the stripe where you start and finish so I probably won't do that again.

I learnt a lot here. Mostly that my next ones will be a combination of all the best bits from these slog socks.

Jo xxx