Friday, 30 January 2015

Collar Kit and a salutory lesson!

A friend went to Yarndale 2014 (lucky thing) but came back with a little gift for me. It was a small brown gift bag with two skeins of pink wool, a pattern, a circular needle and of course a pattern. It was called a Cassi Collar Kit from The Old Piggery, but what was so useful was that it did not take up room in my luggage over Christmas and the New Year, so I finished it quite quickly. 

It is splendid because i do like a warm neck and scarves can get in the way when I am indoors and I am so pleased with it. Thanks L.

However taking a photo of it and a recent crocheted cardigan, took me back years.

How many of you remember these which were so popular in the late 60s, early 70s?
Look at the price 7½p!!
I learnt to crochet from my mother, but she had passed away and so the only garment I thought I could make used Granny Squares. I made the longer version in navy blue, turquoise and white and thought I was the "Bees knees"!!!!  For my overseas readers this is a slang expression - look at the link. Well shortly after this my life became too busy and so I stopped all crochet.

I finally re-started again three years ago and decided to make a cardigan, BUT I couldn't remember all the stitches so I bought a book called the Crotchet Bible. I did know that there were UK and American differences in stitches, but the book was printed in the UK so that was OK!!  I bought inexpensive wool just in case the whole thing went pear shaped and off I went. I did get a little concerned when the back, which should have finished at waist level covered my backside, but when someone said "are you using UK trebles or American trebles as it will make a difference" I airily replied that the book was English!! I pressed on with the two fronts and then I started the sleeves and that is when everything went wrong and I was forced to admit that it was wrong and I had been using American trebles - UK double trebles - in other words bigger stitches!! I spent the whole of one Saturday evening unraveling everything and started again. This was the finished result and I had learnt a valuable lesson!!  Do not assume that just because a book is printed in the UK that it is English terminology. There is a difference.

Well here is the finished article:-

I love it but it needed brightening up so I made a flower.

As I liked it so much I decided to crochet another one but this time I used variegated wool and in a larger size:-
Sorry, a coat hanger doesn't do it justice!!
It is really warm and I love this one as well so I may have to start doing other crocheted garments but no granny squares!!

Today was smocking class at Poppy Patch, now under new management. Unfortunately their new web link is not ready but I have promised that when it is up and running I will let you see it. I am finishing a smocked Christmas bauble (no, it wasn't meant for 2014!) and have a new project to start and I am really excited about it, so more about that in a few weeks time.

My embroidery is progressing and I will show you a little more soon. I am actually enjoying this more than I thought and even the single strand satin stitch has worked out quite well, so I shall sew more over the weekend.

However not everything is going so well and my Higham Piecemakers Christmas Challenge picture is causing me problems. I am sure I have told you what we have to make but I cannot find it in my blog. Anyway we have to reproduce a well known artist's picture to go in a standard picture frame. I know what I want to try and do but I am having a struggle to make it, so the air gets a little ripe, but I will persevere because I rarely give up!!

Finally, I have been writing this blog for a year on 1 February, and I would like to thank everyone for their support and encouragement during my first year. Please keep commenting as it helps me so much.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

A birthday party

On Sunday my grandson, B, had his 9th birthday party that he was sharing with his friend, J. As it was not until mid afternoon I had been invited to a lovely Sunday lunch of roast pork at my son's house beforehand. How do they get the crackling so wonderfully crisp? It was delicious and I did the washing up afterwards while preparations were made for the party.

There is a climbing wall where my son works and the children assembled ready to start climbing. Well I say assembled, but they spent most of their time shouting at each other and racing round and round, and that included the girls as well! Seven boys and three tomboy girls was quite a handful!!

Anyway, to get rid of some surplus energy and warm up, they had to boulder round the base of the climbing walls and played a game called 'Shark Attack'. Lots of shouting and leaping onto the wall.
Overhangs in the corner
 Then the really fun part started, we all (children and adults) had to put on harnesses and the children were knotted onto the ropes while the adults had to act as belays, with me as one of them. The children were all very good at climbing, with some climbing the overhangs that you can see in the corner of the bottom picture. Hard work belaying as the children were gong up so fast that we couldn't keep up!!

Then back to the house for pizza and birthday cake while the adults stood and chatted in the kitchen, eating chicken drumsticks. Yum. I was exhausted when I got home and needed to lie down in a darkened room with something pleasant to drink!!!

Anyway you may remember that I had been looking after Ellie every Tuesday: well this stopped at Christmas as she is now at school. But as one door closes another opens and I am now going to be looking after my great nephew, baby Will instead. He is only 11 months but his Mum starts work next week and she wants him to have some time at home and not be in the nursery all week. Today I went to Bedford to get to know him better and we went for a lovely long walk down by the river and looked at all the ducks and of course went to the park for a swing.
A very quiet playground and little Will having a gentle swing

A brilliant playground and I can't wait for him to walk so we can go on the lovely baby walkway and slide that you can see in the photo.

There were lots of squirrels and I practised using my zoom lens on the new camera -

I am pleased with this one as he was a long way away.

By the way friends said they couldn't 'comment' on my blog very well and they told me what techy stuff to do and I hope that it makes it easier. I haven't really got a clue what they were talking about but I usually do as I am told - well usually. Do comment - you can do so anonymously if you want.

I am hoping that my next blog will be 'crafty' stuff as I have embroidery class tomorrow and I have done some homework, with smocking class on Friday - again homework has been done, so I will have something to show. Oh and I have nearly finished my postcard that we started at Higham Piecemakers. So much to show you later in the week and finally over the weekend I am having a taster session learning to play the ukulele.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

A 'fairy' tale with a happy ending ....

Let me tell you a story. Are you sitting comfortably, then I'll begin!

Once upon a time there was a patchwork group called Higham Piecemakers and every year they had a Christmas Challenge. Each year the 'leader fairies' of the group set the challenge and after a while they had the idea of getting others involved in this, so when all the 'worker fairies' in the group opened their Christmas Challenge package, one person had a note to say "You are the chosen one!" What did this mean was the cry: money to be inherited - don't be silly, trip to a quilt show all expenses paid - don't be silly!! "You will choose the subject of next year's Christmas challenge."

Well the lucky 'worker fairy' to get this challenge was called 'Once upon a thimble' and she decided that the group needed a banner wall hanging that reflected everyone's personalities. Each 'fairy' had to make an A4 size block that would then be sewn together, with a banner, for display at exhibitions. All those who contributed had their photograph taken and this was sewn on the back of their block. The finished wall hanging was displayed at that great 'Castle in the Midlands', the Festival of Quilts, where the judges were very kind in their remarks, but no prize was awarded. The 'fairies' were disappointed but accepted that they should do better next time and the wall hanging was shown at the next Higham Piecemakers Exhibition.

BUT, dear readers, there was a wicked witch at work and one day the wall hanging disappeared from its resting place in the deep dark cave or store room, never to be seen again. There was much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth among the 'fairies', but they eventually accepted their lot in life and went about their daily drudge!

The story so far, happened four years ago. However unbeknownst to the group they had a good fairy behind them because lo and behold two months ago the quilt, still in its brown bag, appeared in the deep dark cave. There was much rejoicing from all the 'fairies' that their work had been found because of the memories it brought back of members of the group no longer with them.

So after an airing the wall hanging is to be displayed at the Higham Piecemakers Exhibition in September and of course ...

they all lived happily ever after and only the quilt knows where it lived for those missing years!!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015


As you will know if you follow this blog regularly, I have been crocheting a blanket and as it has got bigger it keeps my poor old legs lovely and warm.  I don't know where the draughts come from in the winter but my feet and legs feel them.

However it has got me thinking about the lovely blanket that I have used in the past and has so many memories for me.

When I was young my Mother crocheted and she obviously loved it.  I remember her making white cotton lacy baskets, with a handle, that she then soaked in a sugar solution to make them stiff.  With a small glass in they made lovely little flower vases.  I have no idea who got her into doing this but she did get an order from Harrods, who wanted dozens of them, so much so that she gave up in the end as she couldn't cope with the demand!!

My abiding memory though is of her large wicker basket, once used as a baby basket, filled with wool of all colours and her crocheted Granny squares.  She was joining them into a blanket, when she had time, so it was always a work in progress.

Unfortunately, she died when I was in my early twenties and shortly before I was about to produce her first grandchild, so at the time I was not really interested in anything crafty. When I did eventually take an interest the family home had long been sold and everything disposed of.  Imagine my surprise and delight, when I happened to mention to my brother and sister, that I regretted not having the blanket that Mother had made and my brother said it was in his attic!!

So here it is and keeping my old bones warm:-
Each square is 3" (7.5cm)
Close up of the squares
It measures about 5 foot x 3 foot (153cm x 92cm) and I do remember Mother saying that every square was different.  What I do not understand is how it was finished, as it was always different shapes as she worked on it and the only conclusion I have, is that Mother must have finished it during her last months of illness.

There are one or two small moth holes, but considering that this would have been made in the 1950/60s it is wonderful and a very treasured blanket, that I love.  I wonder if my work will be wanted as badly by my family??

Saturday, 17 January 2015


Sorry folks, I have been a little tardy with the blog this week, mainly because I have been busy, but also because I did not have a great deal of interest to write about. My life has been fairly mundane.

Just to update from the 'Rabbits'. The duvet cover and pillowcase have been finished and returned to its owner. It was very tedious but by making sure I sewed a certain number every day I got it done in time. I could not believe I could be so disciplined!!

The 50+ Adventure Club had a good Barn Dance last Saturday and I was up dancing nearly every one, though most of the time I was a 'man'. We usually have a shortage of men on these occasions so being quite tall I usually get that job. ;It can be very confusing though as we don't always know who we are supposed to be dancing with when you get a lot of the ladies dancing as men, but it all adds to the general confusion!!

Friday morning was Crochet Group at Poppy Patch, now under new management as Carole and Lesley retired at the end of December. The new ladies were very welcoming.  The Lovely J was back from her Christmas holiday in South Africa so there was a lot of chatting, but also a lot of learning.

I have finished my stripy blanket using the pattern here using the pack of wool here but still have to crotchet the final edging. I have found that some of the stitches, mainly the Catherine Wheel, have pulled the sides in and I wasn't sure how to 'block' such a large piece of work, but Jo suggested laying it on a double bed, pinning the edges and then spraying lightly with water and leave to dry. It appears to have worked and I shall start doing the edges tonight. I tend to crotchet whilst the TV is on.
Part of crochet blanket
Whilst the blanket was drying, I started on a new piece of crochet that is to be a duffel bag when finished. What is most interesting about this is the wool that I am using as it is rug wool. Jo and a friend went to Yarndale and came back with 250g cones of rug yarn that were made into 50g balls. The advantage of this wool is that it doesn't have any give and therefore keeps it shape and is hard wearing.
Duffel bag base
 More pictures to follow on the duffel bag as it progresses.
What will this be?
I also started another item but had to borrow a 6.5mm crochet hook as I didn't have one, so this is as much as I got done whilst at group. My local shop didn't have a metal 6.5mm hook and I have had to order online. Apparently they don't make that size in the normal metal cheap hooks that I use, so something more expensive has been purchased. How ridiculous is that!! This piece of crochet uses three strands of rug yarn.

Second part of the blog - I have just returned from having a 50+ Adventure Club taster session of Tae Kwando at the Cargin Moss Academy.  What fun it was as we learnt some basic defensive positions should we be attacked and then on came the boxing gloves and we had to hit a pad as hard as we could. The slightly more difficult part was trying to hit it with the feet; OK out to the front but not easy when going out to the side. Still very useful so watch out if you try to attack me!!! I know the moves and I will use them - so be warned.

Saturday, 10 January 2015


What is this all about?

Well I have received an email from my niece who has 36, YES 36, of these to sew onto a duvet cover and pillow case and she is no seamstress; could I help?  She had spent a whole evening sewing on one on her ancient machine. I agreed with the proviso, that boredom would probably set in, so it would take about a week and I have sewed on 18 so far.

Machined blanket stitch
I have the concentration of a gnat when it comes to this sort of project and I can only do about 6 at a time and of course the duvet is completely unmanageable when rabbits have to be sewn on at the very bottom of it and I have to prevent sewing the back as well!! It is a wrestling match, but luckily the shape is quite simple.

Anyway, I have been working quite hard on my blanket and it keeps me very warm as it is getting longer - 

I have used Attic 24's Ripple Blanket yarn pack but Little Woolie's CAL pattern. I am now coming to end of the yarns and must keep some back for the binding, so by necessity it may not be the full length as I don't want to buy more. Blocking this will be quite interesting and I think I my need help from J at Crochet Group.

At Higham Piecemakers group on Wednesday, I concentrated on my smocking Christmas bauble and it was quite slow going because I hadn't worked on it for a few weeks. Thanks to L who helped me 'split' the embroidery thread to raise the centre line of beads - I had forgotten how to do it!!

Finally, embroidery class starts next week and must do some more of this Jacobean sampler before then. I have done some Ermine Stitch but I am not sure if it is right, so no more until 'teacher' has seen it.

For a bit of light relief the 50+ Adventure Club have their first activity of 2015 tonight; our Barn Dance where we always get a good turnout and the bands love coming to us as we start dancing from the very beginning and the dance floor can get very crowded. So YeeHah and bring on the fish and chips at the break. A good social evening's entertainment.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Back to normal

Well, we are now a week into the New Year and it is almost as if we never had the Christmas break as I clear away all my 'stuff' that accumulated through December. I have already collected my first project for the year and I shall be starting on that later today. But before then let's have a little catch up!!

As I mentioned in my last blog, I have decided to cycle more so Sunday midday I set out for my first ride of the year and made a terrible mistake. I always wear fingerless cycling gloves so I put these on and went out and within a few yards of the house my fingers were completely frozen as the temperature was only just above freezing. However I persevered but found that I was having difficulty applying the brakes because I couldn't feel my fingers so like a complete wimp I gave up and returned home. I will not tell you how far I had travelled, but suffice to say that I tried to look as if I had only gone to the shops as I nonchalantly pushed my bike back into the house!! Needless to say I was in agony when my fingers thawed out and ! felt a complete idiot.

However the next day was Nordic walking and what a complete change in the weather. Beautiful weather with huge blue skies and after about a mile we were stripping off our gloves, hats and scarves.

 There were all sorts of wildfowl on Stanwick Lakes and so many swans. We could see about 50 of them on a field in the distance with Canada Geese. I should imagine that they were decimating a farmers crop! It felt good to be out and walking and we met so many people we knew that we had to keep stopping for a chat.

Wednesday evening is Higham Piecemakers group meeting so I have decided to bake a cake and take it in as it was my birthday during the holiday. Whipped up a traybake last night and I hope they like it:-

Orange iced traybake
Thank goodness for Mary Berry and her 'Baking Bible'.  It is completely foolproof and I have not had a poor recipe from it.

My sister is coming for coffee this morning so we might just have a piece of cake, but there will be plenty left for group tonight.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Fun at the seaside .....

Happy New Year to everyone and I am back from my birthday/New Year break and what fun I had.

On my birthday we went to Camber Sands having stoked up on bacon butties and hot chocolate at the local farm shop beforehand.  Both the girls (aged 5 and nearly 4) devoured a whole butty each and obviously enjoyed them.  Then onto the beach via the sand dunes and it was very windy but not too cold  ...
The sea was a long way out!
and we shared the beach with others including dog walkers  ....
Horses enjoying the exercise
and those on horse back and there were a lot of these!  Further away we could see the para-surfers and land surfers, though we didn't get close enough to see what they were on.
Land surfing
We 'paddled' in the sea...!!

...  and flew the kite  ..

..before it crashed to the ground with all its strings tangled up and I spent the afternoon untangling them!!
Funny little summerhouse i a garden of driftwood
The next day we only had a new short walk in a local forest where it was very muddy under foot, but a mild afternoon.

Easy going underfoot
Very muddy
I am now back home raring to get going with all my different projects that I have going round in my mind.  Oh and by the way, I have made no New Year resolutions as they always seem to get broken but I have decided to get a little fitter and go out on my bike more, but not today as it is pouring with rain!!  That is a good start to the 2015.