Slow Down Saturday

Today is going to be my chill out day I think. I did our washing last night from our Whitby trip, tea is organised in my head (cheesy and beany jacket potatoes) and if anyone disagrees they can cook it! So a whole afternoon ahead to fill with reading, crocheting and perhaps a bit of stash organisation. Hmm sounds bliss.

First on my list is a bit of crochet. Aaron and Laura are out in town so a sneaky, cheeky bit of crochet always brightens the day.

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This is the baby ripple blanket I started on Wednesday. I know I ought to have taken the infamous ripply blanket but this was just not possible (I stayed with the recipient) so now you see why I just had to start something else. I couldn’t do the holly leaves either because another part of her pressie will involve these leaves as well! Hmmm you see my dilemma? So the baby boy ripple was born. I am loving it as well. I adore the colours together. I think it will grow a little today but I really want to work on the gift ripple mostly.

The ripple blanket is on the Attic 24 blog but here is the link

http://attic24.typepad.com/weblog/2012/12/interlocking-ripple-ta-dah.html

My book of choice today is on my kindle and is the new Debbie Macomber novel Rose Harbour in Bloom  – number two in this series. I enjoy these books for a bit of escapism and because they are so easy to read. They don’t make me think or prick my conscience – I read them because I like the characters and I want to see what they are getting up to.

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So what to do first? I could of course listen to ths book using the text to speech function on my kindle whilst crocheting! I think reading may come first. My little ginger friend has come to visit.

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While Laura’s swimming……

…… I thought I would do a quick post here. The curse of the summer holidays has struck again. There has been a distinct lack of posting going on again. Mind you I have an excuse (or two) ready ;-) I’ve been unwell this week with an infection but I am improving now. We (meaning Laura and me) have been to visit our really good friends M and J in Whitby. It is one of our favourite places to visit and it never disappoints us ever.

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This is a photo of Runswick Bay just up the coast from Whitby where we spent Wed afternoon and Thursday evening. Laura took to body boarding, so much so I bought her a cheap one of her own and a wetsuit – even in the summer the North Sea is freezing cold! She had a brilliant time. So did M and I.  We found a bench in front of the cafe with a great view of the sea and beach and out came my crochet and M’s knitting. The sun came out our crafting grew and a great time was had by all!

Now we are back home, Laura’s swimming and the chores begin again. But next Saturday the 24th we go to North Wales for a week. So this is going to be another busy week getting prepped. There may be some time to ripple though!

Ooops I did it again!

Apologies for the lack of posts but the school summer hollibops really have put a spanner in my good intentions! We are just about coming to the end of the third week. I always am surprised at just how quickly the 6 weeks pass by and this year is no exception!

Since my last post I am sorry to say I have done little more on my ripply blanket. A few extra rows but not enough *hangs head in shame*. I have brought it plus the wool needed to do some whilst here in Aberdeen. It will be my evening and journey home in the car occupation. I mean I’ve got to justify bringing it in the taxi, on the metro, on the train and carried from the station to the flat we are in so rows will be done.

Other crochet projects have not really come on much. Three more holly leaves on Saturday at the seafront but it was too windy so they went back into the bag.

On Saturday we went to the Discovery Museum in Newcastle. We always have a great time here but went specifically to see Titan the Robot. It is a fabulous concept and never fails to make me laugh.

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Basically it is a man inside an eight foot suit who manipulates the robot. He interacts with audience members, sings, dances (did Gangnam style) and cries. I got soaked in ‘tears’ twice – that robot sure can cry! He sits on the back of a vehicle and the driver also operates all the sound. Laura was scared of Titan when she was younger but loves him now. A really brilliant morning with Aaron, Laura and Titan.

We spent a couple of hours at the amphitheatre at our seafront in the afternoon at a samba drum workshop. It was run by the two guys who organise the drum club Laura goes to. It was a lot of fun especially because I got to have a turn on a drum! I loved it so much we are going to go back this coming Saturday.

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Well I ought to go now and find Laura – she is using a pc at the Maritime Museum in Aberdeen while I write this. Hopefully I can report more ripply progress next time – fingers crossed.

Finished Friday

I thought today I would upload a couple of photos of crochet projects that I have finished recently. But first of all a progress update: the ripply blanket is coming along well. Altogether I have done 27 rows and each row has 199 stitches so it is well on the way. I am pleased with how it is looking with my colour choices, stripe combinations and stitch regularity. I guess it’ll need another 150 rows give or take a few and as each row takes approximately 20 minutes from beginning to end I need to find another 50 hours from somewhere! One thing I am doing is to weave the ends in as I go which will save a lot of time at the end of the project. After writing this my hook, ripply blanket and yarn will be heading outdoors. I love crocheting outside in this lovely weather whilst listening to a book on Audible. Heaven!

Ok onto the first project completed.

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This is a cute little dress for a 6 month old. It is made using a Jarol Baby wool which is variegated which looks great for the bodice and white Jarol Baby wool for the skirt. This pattern was in an issue of Let’s Get Crafting: Knitting and Crochet from 2012. I’m sorry for the lack of issue number but I removed the pattern from the magazine before making it so I don’t know it. It is also supposed to have a ribbon woven through the join between colours but I chose to leave it out. I wasn’t too sure of its suitability give the interested little fingers wearing it! The pattern uses a combination of double crochet for the bodice and double treble for the skirt with a double crochet picot edge (all English crochet terms).

Here is my second pattern which is my own design.

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It is a little blanket for a baby boy. Here are the instructions to make it (I am not writing out indepth pattern instructions, rather, more general about construction). All crochet stitches are named using English terms.

1. Work a granny square as usual for 10 rounds. I change colour when I feel like it but generally evenly, usually every 3 rounds. This means I may work more than 10 rounds but the end blanket will still work. Fasten off

2. Join in a new colour. Here I chose white. Work 6 rows of treble then fasten off.  Repeat this on the opposite side.

3. Join with white to a side of the blanket not worked on in treble and worked 3 rows in treble. You will treble along the edges of what you worked in number 2 and part of the granny square. Fasten off. Repeat on the opposite side.

4. Join to one of the 3 rows just done with a new colour and work 3 more rows in treble. Repeat on the opposite side.

All the rows stated in numbers 2 – 4 can be changed if you wish depending on your requirements.

5. I usually weave all ends in at this point.

6. Add a border of half treble, going around the blanket twice. In the stitch before and after a corner I did 2 stitches with 2 chain stitches linking them. This makes for a neat corner and a nice edging. I weave in the ends and ta da!!! A finished blanket.

Here is another version of the same blanket with girly colours and a larger granny square middle and different amounts of treble outer rows.

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I hope you like them and if you have a go I’d love to see your blanket(s). Now it’s time to ripple!

The great Christmas Crochet begins now

Actually I lied. I hold my hands up – guilty as charged – it has already begun, and a long time ago. I found some lovely patterns for all kinds of items that are beautiful, ideal to give as gifts but better for me. There are certain people who receive hand made gifts each year because I know they will like and cherish them. I get so much pleasure from making them for so many reasons:

1.  I get to legitimately add to my stash and, I mean, who doesn’t like to do that? Generally no reason is required but sometimes it is hard to justify yet another yarn purchase just because we have to have it! I just added to my stash again for a ripple blanket to give as a gift. It is looking lovely and working up a treat. Rippling is soooooo therapeutic. My stash will diminish again but there will be some lovely spare yarn leftover I am sure.

2.  I get a lot of pleasure when I knit or crochet, especially when I have a project or, in this case, lots of projects in mind. I write a list of recipients plus their gift with a link to the pattern and yarn required. This makes adding to the stash really pleasurable – I get more yarn but it will be used rather than waiting for a project to come around.

3.  It makes the whole gift buying malarkey much more bearable. I hate shopping in general and particularly the aimless round of Christmas shopping. Ugh! Especially close to the holidays with other stressed out people. Sitting at home all warm and cosy whilst making many of the gifts I would like to send has to be so much better than braving the shops.

4.  I get to learn new techniques as I go. This present-making season has seen me already get to grips with crocheting around curtain rings and mastering the Attic 24 neat ripple pattern. Oh yes and the Lucy bag plus crocheted flowers from Attic 24 as well. Who knows what else I might learn but I am sure to have a lot of fun along the way.

5.  The recipients get something useful that is more special than shop bought gifts. It is personal and chosen specifically for the recipient ie design, colour etc. Hopefully they like them as much as I enjoy the whole making process from beginning to end.

6.  It generally saves me a few pounds cost-wise too. Never a bad thing these days. Truthfully whatever I save I probably re-invest in yarn but heigh-ho, once a hooker (!!!!) always a ……. yep you guessed it!

Right then I’d better get on with the ripply blanket. Oh and I can’t show photos or pattern links yet either in case some of the recipients see them and put two and two together ;-)

A week in review

This has been an action-packed week full of fun, adventure and loads of crochet.

Monday

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A day spent in Salford, mostly at the Imperial War Museum North. It was really a fab time with Laura, finding out about World War 2. We also enjoyed our tram ride into Manchester. See my previous blog post about the day.

Tuesday

Laura and I spent a very pleasant couple of hours at The Lowry, we especially enjoyed looking around the galleries and the exhibitions of Lowry’s work. Of course we had to try to do our own versions but, suffice to say, I think neither of us is going to be famous for drawing or painting. I think I’ll just stick with the crochet and knitting ;-)

Wednesday

Back home and it was a fun morning crocheting at a friends house. It’s our weekly stitch and bitch session but less bitch this week as Laura came too! The afternoon was spent doing orders for posting that I owed. The night time should have been spent crocheting but my mojo had gone. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do so I had one of those restless nights and couldn’t settle to anything.

Thursday

Another ebay day to start off with plus time spent getting Laura’s party bag goodies organised. All in all it was a productive day. Plus my mojo came back for a crochet project. I’ve been doing a lot of reading of a blog called Attic 24 by a lady called Lucy. Her crochet patterns are simply divine and so easy to follow. I have been wanting to start the pattern for what is known as a Lucy bag for a while. I did have a try at the back end of last week but could not get the circular base to lie flat. I was so frustrated that I stopped. I decided to try again and picked up the hook and began again. I was so happy with myself because I actually managed it this time! It was a reasonable attempt so I decided to continue with it and give it as a pressie for my Aunt’s birthday. My hook was on fire and got the base and most of the side finished before bedtime.

Friday

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Laura’s birthday cake which took the morning to make and bake. What a job! It got done but it was not easy. The goodie bags for the cinema were packed and the after party goodie bags were sorted too so the party is good to go. I also rememberedbto book the tickets for tomorrow too!

The afternoon was spent crocheting like a demon. I finished the side, handles and flowers for the bag and it was put together so it will go on Monday.

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The finished bag! Ta da!

Saturday

Laura’s 10th birthday. Wow I feel old! It was a cinema party with us and 3 other friends, followed by pizza at Pizza Hut. They all had a fab time, especially the party girl thankfully! It was a nice quiet afternoon spent crocheting! This week I have also taught myself the ripple pattern from Attic 24 which looks fab. I am doing squares that are rippled to experiment with how they look when joined together. I don’t fancy doing a blanket in this heat – squares would be better. Laura had a great time playing with her presents.

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As the Statue of Liberty made with Wammy.

Sunday

My kind of day spent crocheting. I am practising my ripple stitch and making middles for granny squares whilst trying to use up scraps and part-used balls lof yarn.

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My granny squares.

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My ripples. I will do more when Laura swims on Monday.

So all in all a busy, productive week.

Monday in Salford

We had a brilliant day in Salford yesterday, most of which was spent at the Imperial War Museum North. We have been before and loved it then but this time, it was even better. It was just me and Laura and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

The first activity we did was decorate a t-shirt for free. The theme was sports. Laura loved the Olympics so drew the rings plus a Union Jack flag -all her own work. I did get roped in to colour in with the fabric pens as well.

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The reverse side celebrates her membership of South Tyneside Swim Team.

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We enjoyed watching the special Horrible Histories Rotten Rationing film especially. Some of the other films (shown on the hour in the main exhibition hall) were good but rather upsetting for children so pick the films carefully that you watch.

Laura especially loved the Action Stations hands-on activities. Mind you, so did I! The whole day was interesting and informative. My favourite displays were really poignant ones with real artefacts from real events. The first was a car damaged in Baghdad, it is a rusty tangled heap, distinguishable as a car still. The most evocative is the piece of a steel window from the World Trade Centre.

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The other sculpture that I really loved was the archway made from suitcases, representing the people throughout the world who have been displaced, or who have migrated due to conflict and war. Really evocative and thought-provoking.

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After we had met Aaron and checked into the Ibis budget hotel we went out for food. We then decided it would be fun to head out of Salford and into Manchester. So we caught a tram! Fabulous!

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We spent an enjoyable half hour near the fountains in Picadilly Gardens before heading back on the tram to our hotel.

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Today we are off to The Lowry and then it’s back home later.

Easy weekend

What a lovely restful weelend we have had so far. It began early with swim training but roll on August when there’s no training on a Saturday! Eeek! Lie ins on a Saturday are beckoning as there is no Drum Club until October either. Can you tell I’m excited!

Laura and I went to our local park after swimming for some fun and a picnic but Laura was not herself and she asked to go home. That was not the usual Laura in the park but we did go home and have some quiet time. The last week of term is an exciting, busy time for all concerned so it can be emotionally draining. Laura has found it so this year, saying goodbye to some Year 6 friends moving on to comp and goodbye to 2 close friends (since Reception year) whose families are moving to different parts of the North East. Summer is a fun and exciting time when we go off-timetable more readily but it also heralds change. Poor Laura was a bit overwhelmed by it all perhaps. As the day went on she became more herself until we went out for tea at our local Toby carvery where she was magically fully restored.

Friday was a momentous day for me. I finally finished my crochet blanket WIP. Here is a photo of it:

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It has gone a little ruffled because of the granny rounds I added but I like it. So my decision was what to do next? I had already decided to make myself a bag and had been checking out a blog called Attic 24 (you can find it too if you search for Attic 24). There was a design for a nice bag that is known as a Lucy bag. It has a circular base, sides built up around with a shell edging and two long handles. It has been embellished with some crocheted flowers too. The thing is that the bag is very colourful, with different colours on each round. I fancied having a go with a khaki coloured yarn by Patons called Smoothie in dk weight.

I was all prepped, yarn and hook all ready so I made a start. I had forgotten how I hate crocheting a circle so I pulled my first one out. At swimming I had a second circle on the go and by last night, after several short sessions, I had a circle large enough but it wasn’t lying flat. This is my problem with large crocheted circles – it is fine for hats that I make but would have spoilt the look of the bag.

So I pulled it back and decided to do a bag with a double crocheted, rectangular bottom. Which is where I am at right now. I need to do a bit more and when I am happy with the size of it I will go around it, in treble crochet rounds. I chose double crochet for the base as it produces a dense fabric. The sides will work in treble because I am using a 3.75mm hook (I would usually use at least a 5mm hook with dk yarn) and so will work together closely enough. Mind you it is open for review at anytime.

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So I’ll keep on with the base until it is perhaps double in size. And then it will be time to think more about the sides.

Well that’s the job for today with the crochet, whenever I get the chance. Alongside packing for 2 days at Salford Quays, cooking meals and perhaps visiting Seaham car boot sale this afternoon. Maybe a couple of rows of crochet first though before packing!

Last day…..

I am sitting here this morning having my second (and frankly more enjoyable) cup of coffee after Laura and her friend Lily have left for their last day at school. The day for them is tinged with lots of emotions: excitement at the prospect of the holidays, sadness at not seeing some friends until September, pleasure at being off-timetable and perhaps watching a dvd or playing rounders outside, nerves at having to go up on stage at the final assembly (Laura with her knitted items from the club at school). All in all a day for mixed emotions for everyone.

July 2006 was the time when I left teaching so I could be at home with Laura. Last days of the summer term are always fun as a teacher. I used to love spending the day with my class, having fun, looking back on just how far they had come since September. I never used to get too sad as I always felt my job was as a guide through that school year and onto the next, so July was a time when I used to feel pleased and proud of their achievements, knowing they were ready for the challenge of a new teacher and new academic year.

Now, as a parent, I look forward in a similar way really but my view has somewhat shrunk to just Laura and her circle of friends. Year 5 has been a good one for Laura. Her class teacher was amazing – he really knew her well and so brought out the best in her. Her literacy teacher was similarly so good for Laura, who has always struggled with words, whether written, spoken or read. Her teacher this year has really nurtured her, challenged her and been tough with her, always at the right time and really Laura’s literacy work has flourished. Laura’s class as a whole have had a great year. Next year is a tough one in Year 6 but Laura has a great teacher and we’ll just take it a day at a time. I also look forward to the freedom of the holidays, not sticking to a timetable and rushing to be out of the door. I like a bit of spontaneity which has been missing a little since Laura started swim training. We generally run out of time to do the things we would like to which is always a good sign.

Today will be tough for Laura in some ways because 2 of her closest friends are moving away from South Shields this summer. One has already moved to Northumberland but will be having her very last day at the same school today. Another of Laura’s close friends is moving to a different borough in Tyne and Wear so not as far away and hopefully we will keep in touch. We’re excited for them on the one hand but sad on the other because we will miss them (and because we don’t like change either). I keep trying to emphasise the positives for Laura but she will be sad about them leaving for sure.

This summer holiday we are going to go to Salford Quays, actually to North Wales on holiday for a week, to Aberdeen, to Whitby. We will celebrate Laura’s 10th birthday, remember the 5th anniversary of my Mum’s death somehow, go to plenty of Tommy’s parties at the seafront, have some adventures. Most of all we will make some great memories. One thing I always do is say that we will go to the beach more and we never do, at least not here. This year will be different and that starts tomorrow after swim training. We’re off to the park and the beach with Lily so hopefully the weather will be good – if not you know who to blame!

Phew! What a scorcher!

It’s another gorgeous day here in South Shields which calls for a trip to the park with Laura later. I usually take my current WIP with me which at the moment is a gorgeous baby blanket.

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Crocheting outside is not so easy right now as it is so hot. The yarn just doesn’t slide through the fingers as easily as usual! So I think today it could be a day to read. This is my current book:

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So far so good, it’s a great summer read. I am looking forward to reading on and watching to plot unfold.

Going back to the baby blanket, the centre panels come from the 2013 special for babies and kids from Crochet Today. I subscribe to this magazine on Zinio so I can read it on my android phone and tablet when out and about. I love Zinio.

I have decided to make the blanket to my own taste so have worked just 3 of the double crochet panels in the centre. The hearts are worked separately and sewn on in mine. In theirs they work the hearts like intarsia knitting, as a part of the pattern. Too complicated for my skills yet! I also have added 3 rounds of a granny square in cream and am working 3 more in the multi yarn. Then I will probably do a couple of rounds of half treble as a border in the cream yarn. So not much more to do.

Then it is onto some holly leaves I think for Christmas gifts. Christmas in July is just mad!

Enjoy the weather and happy crafting!