Saturday, 5 July 2014

Hooking up on Le Tour de Essex!

We can't avoid it...It's looming and the best we can all do is batten down the hatches, grab some wool and wait for bicycles to zoom past and the roads to open again. Aside from those poor unfortunate souls that gets stuck in an almighty pot hole.

Here's the best of what a couple of crafty types have been up to in the UK leg:

This fabulous lady decided to seriously hook up her bike -possibly better than the spokey-dokies we used to get in cereal packets?

Cambridge University Engineers had to get involved when there were fears that the knitted bunting may weigh down local lamp posts. We are all mightily relieved to know that after they applied some scientific methods (getting a mini jumper soggy, weighing in and then applying some light maths), we should be fine....I was concerned for a while...

Either way, if you can't avoid the traffic you might be able to pack your hook, a ball of yarn and sit tight for the day!

Monday, 30 June 2014

50 Shades of Disarray (or, why you shouldn't take 'lifestyle' magazines seriously)

I have an Instagram habit. I like searching other people's calm shots of perfectly tidy houses, mostly painted in chalky whites, with vintage approved accessories. The kids playrooms are immaculate with  a large curated selection mostly wooden toys of a Scandinavian origin that you know are wholesome and will raise their offspring's IQ by at least 50 points just by pushing them along the floor. The bathrooms never have hair caught behind the door, or blue toothpaste smears on the bath side, or a crappy plastic bin with a flip-top lid because the toddler will eat the contents out of the ethically produced raffia ensemble that you'd otherwise have.

Olivia Palermo in
In the living rooms the plants aren't dead or infested (as mine were, I'm grim I admit it) with diddy flies, and more to the point they are 'on trend'. Yep, certain houseplants are 'trending', adding an additional life form to maintain aside from the kids and the cat. These houses don't have cats because the 'worn to perfection' supple brown leather sofas have no scratch marks (or felt tip, or mushed biscuit, or husband's spag bol because, who are we kidding, we can't sit up the table unless it's Christmas?).

And so to bed. We crawl under mismatched duvet covers and pillow sets, chucking out Duplo, last week's T-shirts and various copies of the Farmer's Weekly as we go. The beds in these interiors shots are made for princesses that float 6 inches above the heirloom patchwork personally gifted after a summer spent writing the histories of Amish folk in Pennsylvania.

Look at me with my trending flower pot and succulent thingy...

The point is, they aren't real. I can take the occasional good shot (usually close up) of a little corner of my house that I've grouped stuff in that makes me smile. And it can look pretty cool. But it doesn't show what surrounds me. That's real life. Just saying.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

A Very French Affair...

So we spent the week in a giant tent (it was all very Crimson Field) in France opposite a cow field -which cheered up the children and husband no end and provided me with amusement.

The point was to soak up the atmosphere, history and sense of commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of D-Day. We out-field tripped ourselves, and by the end of it I was struck by several things:

1. The French way of managing events is great. Why have a roadblock when you can just leave people to sort themselves out? This (in our experience the other week) works. So you want to have a picnic and watch a parachute drop from the slip road of a motorway? Sure.

2. D-Day is Northern France. I've tried over the years to get husband to understand that there must be more to France's history than WW2 (and of course, there is), but for that week, in that place, there really wasn't. I guess the feeling of being liberated from occupation is one that they can understand all too well, but I certainly can't and that makes the experience unique.

3. Re-enactment is for winners. They throw themselves into Jeep and truck ownership in a big way, kitting themselves out in period (and not so period) costume and setting up camp. I want to join in. I've started saving up.

4. There is a fine line between commemoration and a big, slightly inaccurately dressed excuse for a party. This was the only unsettling feeling I had about the whole week really. Everyone seemed to be in the party spirit, those that liked dressing up in camp gear had a great opportunity to do so, and the drinks were in abundance. But. Then you catch sight of a veteran, French, American, English, and you realise that their day was very different 70 years ago. It's at that point that the warm glass of cider in your hand is a bit too sickly sweet and perhaps you've misjudged the sense of occasion.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Rainbow Patch Pattern

If you've had a go at some of my patterns you know they fall into the 'bodge it and see' category...Never letting precision stand in the way of some hooky happiness here's a pattern for the rainbow patch on the baby blanket currently for sale in my Etsy shop. 

This one is all about getting a feel for the yarn you're using and adjusting the increases as you go to make sure it lies flat. Also, make sure you give it a light press with a damp tea-towel over the top with a steamy iron at the end. If you want to then appliqué it to fabric, I'd suggest using bondaweb to secure before a discreet running stitch for permanence...Happy Patching!!

You will need:
7 Rainbow colours in dk or light crochet cotton (small bits will do, there's only 2 rows of each);
Size 3.00mm hook
Tapestry needle for the ends

Note: To keep a flat edge at the bottoms, you need to have a turning chain of 2, and then start the next row in the 3rd chain from the hook. At the other end, make sure you get the last loop (it can get pulled tight) before you chain 2 again and turn. This is also written in UK stitches.

  1. Violet: Chain 17, starting in the 3rd ch from the hook, dc across. In the last movement of the final dc, switch in the next colour. Ch2 and turn;
  2. Indigo: (dc, 2dc in same stitch) across. Ch2, turn;
  3. Indigo: dc across. In the last movement of the final dc, switch in the next colour. Ch2 and turn;
  4. Blue: (dc, 2dc in same stitch) across. Ch2, turn;
  5. Blue: dc across. In the last movement of the final dc, switch in the next colour. Ch2 and turn;
  6. Green: (2dc, 2dc in same stitch) across. Ch2, turn;
  7. Green: dc across. In the last movement of the final dc, switch in the next colour. Ch2 and turn;
  8. Yellow: (4dc, 2dc in same stitch). Ch2, turn;
  9. Yellow: dc across. In the last movement of the final dc, switch in the next colour. Ch2 and turn;
  10. Orange: (4dc, 2dc in same stitch). Ch2, turn;
  11. Orange: dc across. In the last movement of the final dc, switch in the next colour. Ch2 and turn;
  12. Red: (4dc, 2dc in same stitch). Ch2, turn; 
  13. Red: dc across. After last stitch, fasten off and work in all of the loose ends.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Five Currant Buns in a Baker's Shop... (the pattern)

'Five currant buns in a baker's shop, round and fat with a cherry on the top.
Along came Hattie with a penny one day, bought a currant bun and took it away...'

Whilst working out how to crochet a waterproof canoe, I've worked on these for the music group Hattie and I go to on a Thursday morning. They have a great collection of toys to help with the actions to the songs, but were missing 5 Currant Buns...Until now...

You will need (for one bun!):
Size 4.00mm hook;
Small amounts of  pale taupe, white, red and dark brown dk yarn (acrylic is good for this);
Small amount toy stuffing;
Tapestry needle for the ends;
A glass to draw around approx 5.5cm diameter & pencil;
Cardboard (cereal packet works)

To Make:

Draw around the base of the glass on the card and cut out.

In light brown:
- Ch2, work 5dc into first ch. Jn with slst, ch2;
-2dc in each dc (5 times). Jn with slst, ch2:
- [1dc, 2dc in same stitch] around. Jn with slst, ch2;
- [2dc, 2dc in same stitch] around twice. Jn with slst, ch2;
- [3dc, 2dc in same stitch] around twice. Jn with slst, ch2;
- 5 rows of dc, jning with a slst at the end of each row and ch2;
- In final row of 5, join in the white yarn and Ch2;
- Pop card circle in the base.

In white:
- Work one row dc in each dc, but to make a drippy icing effect vary where you work the stitch -either into the chain, the chain space or the chain space of the row below;
- [2dc, dc2tog] around, three times. At the end of each row, slst close and ch2;
-Add the stuffing;
- [1dc, dc2tog] around twice, sneaking in a tad more stuffing if it needs it;
- Cut thread and sew through the last few stitches to close.

In red:
-Ch3, then work 5tr into the first ch;
- Cut thread and work through the base of the worked trebles and pull close. Tuck in other ends and work a couple of stitches to make a cherry shape. Secure tightly to the top of your bun.

In dark brown:
With the needle, sew in back stitch evenly spaced currant shapes around the light brown bun.

To finish:
Smush into shape. Attend singing group with toddlers. Deploy vocals and crochet buns.